“We were unable to locate Pyre,” a soldier said to Michael as Raea and Palan were returning with their new armor. “General Elrith’s attendant has also gone missing.” Michael frowned and glanced at the Raea who wore a blindfold.
“Do you know where Pyre went?” he asked.
“I think I saw him when I ran out the gate,” Raea said and furrowed her brow. “I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Michael frowned. “Pyre is just as important to me as Elrith is,” he said. “I refuse to leave without him.”
“But we can’t delay any longer,” Raea said. “Elly’s out there all alone with a broken arm. What happened to marching immediately?”
“General Elrith is an archangel; he can take care of himself,” Michael said. “Pyre is barely a greater angel with no combat skills. If something happens to him….” He shook his head and looked at the gathered army. “Find Pyre and Elrith’s attendant. They must still be in the camp.” Michael turned around and gestured towards the soldiers at the gate.
“W-wait,” Raea said towards the dispersing angels, her voice quavering. Palan looked at Raea who was trembling and biting her lips to keep her mouth shut. He recalled Andrea trying to reach him while he was in the midst of transporting to Div’Nya. He wondered how Andrea felt when he disappeared. Was her body shaking like this? Palan frowned and watched the gathered army scatter, looks of confusion on their faces. He sighed and raised his tail into the air as far as it could go. A black glow gathered around it, surrounding it with a layer of light. A few angels noticed and placed their hands on their weapons while staring at him.
“Palan?” Raea asked and lifted her blindfold slightly; the inside of the cloth was wet. Danger Noodle flew towards the ground, crashing into it with an earthshattering boom. Dust rose into the air, and all the angels stopped moving, turning their heads to look at Palan. He crossed his arms over his chest.
Michael’s eyes narrowed as he stared through the clearing dust. “What was that?” he snarled and reached out to grab Palan’s shoulder. Danger Noodle smacked his arm aside.
Palan’s voice echoed through the outpost as he roared, “Raea has something to say, you dirty bastards. Listen up!” The angels fell silent and turned their heads to stare at Raea. Even Michael furrowed his brow and hesitated. Raea’s face flushed bright red as she grabbed Palan’s arm. Palan snorted and looked at Raea before brushing her hand off his arm. “You wanted to say something, right? So say it. Have some pride.”
Raea inhaled and nodded. She removed her blindfold and stared at the crowd. “Um, Ell—, General Elrith is in danger and he needs your help,” she said. Her heart pounded in her chest as all the gazes focused on her. A lump formed in her throat, causing her to gulp. Her hands trembled, and she clasped them together. “I-if you come to his aid, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”
“Are you trying to undermine my authority?” Michael asked. “I’ve already given them orders.”
“We’ll go!” a voice said from the crowd. An angel standing next to a bull-headed demon stuck his chest out and raised his lance into the air. More angels glanced at each other and also raised their lances. Soon, all of Elrith’s soldiers had their lances in the air, and a few of Michael’s participated as well. The first angel to raise his lance shouted, “To save the general!”
“To save the general!” Elrith’s soldiers shouted in unison. Michael glowered but didn’t say anything. In reality, he didn’t have the authority to command Elrith’s soldiers; they weren’t part of his division.
The angel with the bull-headed demon shouted again, “If the general dies, he’ll kill us all! Nothing must happen to him!” Elrith’s soldiers shouted in unison again. The angel with the bull-headed demon approached Raea. A bright gold star was carved into his breastplate. His white hair was cut short, and sideburns extended down his face. “Lead the way … ma’am? I’m not sure how to address you.”
“Just call me Raea,” Raea said and nodded. “You are?”
“I’m the Tyrant’s second-in-command,” the angel said. “Just call me Tuic.” He paused. “And don’t tell the general I called him Tyrant.”
“Thank you, Tuic,” Raea said. She smiled at him. Palan’s eyes narrowed slightly as Tuic took Raea’s hand and kissed it.
“I’ve never seen anyone with eyes like yours,” Tuic said as he released her hand. Raea’s lower lip trembled. “They look beautiful.” Tuic turned around as Raea’s eyes widened. “Let’s go! The general is waiting for us!”
Palan flicked Raea’s forehead and snorted. She frowned and rubbed it. “What was that for?”
“We’re ready to depart, Raea,” Tuic said, interrupting Palan. “You’re the only one who knows the way. Do you have a mount?” He gestured towards the demon next to him. “You can sit on his shoulder. He’s very obedient and moves quickly.”
Palan looked at the bull-headed demon as Raea tried to decline Tuic’s offer but was politely forced onto its shoulder anyway. “Champion of Haalbeh?” Palan asked. Tuic climbed on its other shoulder.
The demon’s eyes widened. “You know me?” it asked.
“No,” Palan said as he balanced on his tail, lifting his feet off the ground. Danger Noodle started to crawl forward alongside the bull-headed demon as the army left the outpost. “Just a guess. Everyone seems to be a champion.”
The demon laughed and nodded, causing Tuic to kick it in the face. “Stop shaking so much,” the angel said and frowned before turning back to Raea. He grinned at her; her face was expressionless. Tuic scratched his head. “Sorry, he’s normally very docile. I’m not sure what came over him. It won’t happen again.” He gripped the demon’s shoulder, drawing blood with his nails. The bull-headed demon glowered and exhaled a jet of steam out of his nose. Palan raised an eyebrow.
Tuic noticed that his apology didn’t brighten Raea’s mood, so he tried a different approach. He reached into his bag and pulled out a crystalline flower, showing it to Raea. Palan snorted and rotated his body to look at the traveling army, with Danger Noodle still heading forward. He noticed a lot of disgruntled demons marching along silently, the bigger ones carrying multiple angels. If all of them were greater demons…. Palan laughed, causing Raea to look at him. “What happened?” she asked. Tuic glared daggers at Palan.
“Nothing. How do I make contract papers?” he asked.