Cleo squealed as she leapt over the wreckage of a collapsed building from the previous trebuchet bombardment. “You can’t have it!” she said and scrambled to the side of the road. Her eyes lit up when she saw a rapidly approaching figure dressed in white. “Raea! Save me!”
“I can give you extra limbs! Four more arms and two more heads! Maybe even a beam of light that shoots out of your eyes!” a raspy voice said from behind the orange lizardman. Pyre climbed over the wreckage, gasping as he placed his hands against his knees while hunched over. “Just give me half of that cocoon.”
Cleo waved her hand over the road. “Rae”—a tear dropped on Cleo’s face as Raea ran past her—“a….” Cleo whipped her head around and stared blankly as the running angel’s figure disappeared behind a corner. More thudding sounds came from the direction Raea just came from. Cleo’s eyes lit up again as she ducked and avoided Pyre’s lunge. “Palan! Save me!”
Palan raised an eyebrow when he saw Cleo scratching Pyre’s arms, struggling to get away. He ran past the two who were wrestling on the ground. Cleo let out a heartbreaking wail, causing Palan to sigh. His tail extended towards the orange lizardman and bit down on her rump, lifting her into the air with a yelp. Pyre could only stumble after the profanity-leaking lizardman as she was ripped out of his grasp and escorted down the road. He sighed as he stopped moving and stared off into the distance, still wearing his blindfold. Rumbling sounds came from behind him, but he didn’t even bother turning around.
The trembling stopped, and Elrith paused behind Pyre, the general’s forehead was furrowed and his lips were pursed. “Which way did they go?” Elrith asked, placing his hand on Pyre’s shoulder.
Pyre flinched and smacked Elrith’s hand away. “How would I know?” he said, practically snarling. “This blindfold isn’t just for show. Why don’t you ask a deaf man what his wife said last night?”
Elrith raised an eyebrow as he took a step back. “Who pissed in your oatmeal today?” he asked and snorted before lifting his hand. The ground beneath him elevated, forming a small hill that lurched forwards along the road. Pyre frowned and shook his head before heading back towards Raea’s residence.
“Ah, such a unique research sample,” the blindfolded angel said and clutched his chest. “Such a pity. And after all the nice things I did for that little lizard too.” He sighed as he opened the door to the building and proceeded down the hall. He froze midway and reached inside his robe to pull out a translucent orb. He held his breath as he walked towards the door to Raea’s room, slowing down with each step. His heart pounded in his chest and he ripped the blindfold off of his head, revealing his two bright-red eyes. His body trembled as he placed his ear to the door, listening for any sounds.
“Sir Khondra,” a monotonous voice said. “I’ve been waiting for the chance to speak with you alone. Please, come in.” Pyre frowned and put the blindfold back onto his head but kept the translucent orb in his hand. He recognized that voice.
Palan frowned as he ran past a broken gate, leading outside the outpost, splinters pressing against the bottom of his feet. None of the wooden shards were able to pierce his skin, but they did make him itch. His tail stared at the gate, still holding the weeping orange lizardman in its mouth. A large hole was torn through the middle, leaving behind a jagged rectangular opening. Palan couldn’t help but wonder if it was Raea who broke the gate or if it was already in that state. His tail couldn’t see Elrith or any traces of his heat signature, causing Palan to snort. Cleo let out a squeal that fell on deaf ears as Palan’s tail unconsciously bit down harder on her rump.
Palan sniffed the air and slightly altered his course, angling himself into the forest. The sound of roaring water entered his ears. He followed a trail of crushed underbrush until he arrived at a river. Raea was crouched over the edge, staring at the water with tears dropping from her eyes. Palan approached her from behind, but she didn’t seem to notice or care, continuing to silently cry. He snorted and kicked her butt, causing her to yelp as she fell forward and entered the river with a splash. “Cold!” Raea shouted as she flailed her limbs and clambered out of the river, looking like a wet dog with her hair and robes pressed against her. “What was that for!?”
Cleo fell to the ground with a thump as Palan’s tail let go of her and partially wrapped itself back around his waist. “You smelled funny,” Palan said and crossed his arms over his chest. “I figured you could use a bath.” Water droplets fell to the floor underneath Raea’s feet, staining the ground, as she stared at Palan. The tears in her eyes were gone. “No need to thank me.”
Raea sighed and lowered her head, staring at the floor. A purple foot appeared in her vision before pressing against her belly, knocking her backwards into the river again. Raea spluttered as her head broke through the surface of the water and gasped for air. “Palan!” she shouted through chattering teeth as she floundered to the riverbank and crawled out, her body shivering. She raised her head and glared at him. He shrugged, offering no explanation as Cleo scratched at his tail, causing her claws to dull.
“I’m freezing,” Raea said.
“Light a fire,” Palan said as he sat down, resting his back against a tree.
“Should’ve thought of that before you went into the river,” Palan said and yawned. A slight smile appeared on his lips as Raea stared at him with her serpentine eyes.
“I can light a fire!” Cleo said as she reached into her bag and pulled out a red orb. “But you have to make Palan apologize to me first.” Red fang-shaped imprints could be seen on her rump. A black blur dashed at Cleo and snatched the orb out of her hands.
“Did Pyre give you this?” Palan asked and raised an eyebrow as his tail dropped the orb into his hand.
“Give it back!” Cleo said and rushed at him. “You don’t know how hard I worked to steal it from him.” She hissed as his tail kept her away from his body. Raea stared at the scene and burst out into laughter, her voice sounding like bells jingling in the wind. Cleo and Palan’s tail stopped struggling, turning their heads to stare at the laughing angel. “It’s not funny,” Cleo said and puffed her cheeks out before deflating and sighing. Palan’s tail wrapped around the tree he was sitting on and constricted, causing the massive oak to fall over with a crash. The tail methodically broke the tree into smaller and smaller pieces by constriction and soon, a pile of wood was formed in front of Palan. He pointed the orb at the wood but frowned when nothing happened.
Cleo snatched it away from his hands while muttering and glaring at him. She pointed it at the pile of wood and a jet of flames flew out of the orb, creating a bonfire. She stuck her tongue out at Palan, who snorted, before packing the orb back into her bag. Raea was still shivering as she made her way around the bonfire and stood beside Palan. She asked, “Didn’t you say lighting fires was stupid?”
“Sometimes you have to do stupid things for stupid people,” Palan said as he watched her attempt to wring the water out of the sleeves of her robes. He raised an eyebrow. “Just hang them up on that branch.”
“I’m not wearing anything underneath,” Raea said and furrowed her brow. More water droplets fell to the ground. Palan shrugged and stared at the fire while Cleo played with his tail.
“Hey,” Cleo said after his tail wrapped itself around her body and prevented her from squirming. “Does your tail have a name?”
“No,” Cleo said. “But mine doesn’t have eyes or a mouth.” She shuddered as she heard Pyre’s voice in her head telling her he could make it possible.
“I’m not naming part of myself,” Palan said and snorted.
“Then I’ll name it for you,” Cleo said. “Danger Noodle.” She nodded and patted Palan’s tail on the head. Palan’s Danger Noodle swallowed her arm in response.