Remnants

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Chapter Nine

“So now that we presume Mephisto’s children are being targeted by Ryval due to their connection to him, and by default, me,” Diablo mused, “We require a plan of action.” He crossed his arms and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the back of his chair. Since his arrival, we’d moved inside the house, and had been in discussion ever since; he’d explained that Mephisto had foreseen the great danger his two children were in and was quite worried for them. “I will admit,” he mused, looking at me, “That your suggestion to go search for them is the most beneficial.”

I nodded. I had suggested we go look for the pair of Nephilim for the sake that it would be of great benefit to us; we’d be able to get more assistance from the Demon Sage once his children were safe and accounted for. And we desperately needed the help; Ryval was erratic at best, and we had no idea what she was going to do or where she was going to be next. Yet, despite working out what we were going to do, we still had failed to settle on how we were going to go about it.

Lydia huffed, leaning her forearms on the table. “It would possibly be best to go to the town where the twins were last seen, and go on from there.” She looked at Diablo. “Are you aware of their last location?”

Diablo nodded. “They were in a town not too far from this one, to the west... Next town over, to my knowledge.” He blinked a little, thinking about something. “They may’ve moved on by now, and they rarely leave traces of their presence.”

“Still.” Tiff brushed her hair from her eyes. “It’s our best bet. We still may be able to find some leads directing us to them.” She pushed her glasses back onto her nose. “We might as well give it a shot, and hopefully it doesn’t turn out like our city expedition.” She looked at me, biting her lip, and I returned her frown. I didn’t particularly want to talk about that, and after noticing the fact that Soren was looking at me a little funny, I flinched. Damn. I forgot he doesn’t know...

Diablo pursed his lips before nodding briskly and standing, picking up his seat and putting it back underneath the table. “Then we have a settled plan?” he asked. “We are to meet in the town where my niblings were last seen?”

“Niblings?” Tiff asked, baffled. I quickly explained that it was a gender-neutral term for nephews and nieces, and she nodded a little, still seeming a little bemused that he’d used that term.

Nathan nodded. “Yes. We’ll meet you there early tomorrow morning... So you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to come along with us?”

Diablo grimaced. “No offence, but the Human contraptions you so approve as transport are too confining for me. Besides, they are merely metal death-traps controlled by a wheel, a few pedals, and a stick. I’d rather die fighting over what to have for dinner than even think about getting in one of those things.” He crossed his arms as the rest of us choked back laughter. “I refuse to get in one. Now, I shall go; I will scout out this town before you arrive, capisce?”

We all nodded, and he returned the gesture before chanting something in the Demon tongue. Orange flame engulfed him immediately and he vanished within seconds, leaving no trace of his presence. There wasn’t even a scorch mark on the ground.

I was relieved that we’d sorted out a plan of action, but my relief soon shrivelled and died as a thick tension settled upon us. A lump formed in my throat as I heard Soren ask, “What happened in the city?” and it only grew as an explanation was given by Lydia and Nathan. He didn’t say a word as he was briefed, although I saw his expression grow more furious as time ticked down, and eventually he grunted and said, “I see.” Then he turned to me. “Were you trying to get yourself killed?!” he yelled, alarming me with his abrupt outburst.

“N-No!” I protested, my eyes wide. “I didn’t—”

He didn’t let me finish. “You know, for a Firstborn you can be very fucking stupid sometimes,” he snarled, and I could only gape at him in horror at his words as he turned on his heel and stormed off.

Shock ripped through me, and tears welled in my eyes before I turned away from the others and left. Leaving the confines of the house I walked into the mass of trees that surrounded us on each side, walking directly past Iris’ small grave. I paused briefly to show my respect, then kept going, soon finding myself deep within the brush and shrubbery.

It was on a fallen, half-rotted log that I sat, drawing my knees to my chest and trying to recollect and make sense of the myriad of raging emotions and thoughts within me. I was hurt by Soren’s words; he’d basically called me an idiot. Yet… I’d done my duty. I’d ensured Tiff wasn’t hurt. I’d even gone one step further and ensured she hadn’t even been touched!

Tears dripped down my cheeks as I rested my chin on my knees, and I sniffled a little. I didn’t understand why he’d said what he had, and it hurt. It hurt a lot. It had been a comment that had never needed to be made. I had never said I was smart, but being called that out of anger… It didn’t make me feel good.

The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand up, and I tensed as I felt a presence behind me before carefully and slowly looking back. I had initially thought the worst, but after seeing the edges of beautifully white feathers, I relaxed... slightly. “Augral,” I mumbled, giving name to my unwanted companion once I turned to fully face him.

Despite being in full armour, Augral appeared relaxed. He didn’t move from where he was, though, merely saying, “I only wish to talk Sai. May I sit with you?”

An odd request, to say the least, but I didn’t decline. With a nod of my head I allowed him to join me, and he sat to my right, folding his giant wings against his back to ensure they didn’t tickle me or blow in the wind. For a few minutes we sat in silence, but there was no tension. It was perfectly and bewilderingly comfortable.

Finally, a sigh escaped me, and I looked at him. “What did you want to talk about?”

“To be perfectly honest, I want to converse with you about Ryval,” he admitted, looking at me with a tentative expression on his face. “She is your mother, after all...” He hesitated before continuing. “How do you feel, knowing it’s up to you to stop her?” He shook his head slowly. “It mustn’t be easy.”

I huffed sadly. “It’s not,” I whispered. “She’s one of the pair that gave me life, a fact that I’m still trying to come to terms with after living a lie.” I averted my eyes, focusing on a line of ants marching towards their nest. “It feels wrong to need to kill her... but there’s no real other option, is there? She’s too dangerous to be allowed to live any longer.” I looked at him. “Why is it so hard? I thought… Since I found out what her plans are, I’ve been set on killing her. It’s only now that I’m doubting if I’m doing the right thing. I really hate her, Augral. She’s a murderer, she’s cruel, she doesn’t care… so why am I beginning to wonder if I’m doing the right thing?”

“It’s an issue of blood ties.” He frowned a bit. As you said, she is one of the two that breathed life into you, even if you didn’t realise that until recently,” he replied, his voice quiet and calm. “You feel a natural kinship to her, as all children do to their mothers. Mothers are always a part of a child’s life, whether it be positively – like Tiff’s mother – or negatively – like yours.” He reached out and gently put a hand on my shoulder, giving a comforting squeeze. “That is why it hurts so much to do what is necessary for the good of all involved. And… the hatred you feel for her… There’s nothing wrong with that. She has given you no reason to love her. Sure, she’s doing this all for you – don’t take that as me blaming you for all this, because that is not my intention – but you know that it’s wrong, and she hasn’t particularly given you much reason to like her. She’s working with your enemies, has killed and tried to harm your friends, and is still attempting to do so.”

After mulling over his words in my head, I nodded a little in understanding, and exhaled through the side of my mouth. “Just one more question,” I said softly, and he nodded, saying nothing as a silent way of telling me I could continue. “Why my mother, of all Demons that had to go ballistic?” I looked up at the sky; the sun was beginning to get lower. Soon it would be evening. “Why Ryval? I mean, I know that I was killed back then, but… I was bought back to life. Surely that has to be some sort of compensation.”

“Not to her,” Augral mused. “She grew vengeful after the Nephilim Massacre, particularly after your death, and thirsted for retribution.” He crossed his arms, his wings fluttering a little bit. “Since the Humans are protected by the very annihilators of the Nephilim, she decided to massacre them, in order to get back at us without breaking the treaty.”

I frowned. “Didn’t she already break that?”

He shook his head, a moue appearing on his face. “Not particularly,” he said. “Due to her acting outside the say of the late Archdemon, the Heaven-Hell Treaty can still be considered ‘intact’. It would only be considered null if an attack was led by the Archdemon, who is considered one of the specified parties. The Heaven-Hell Treaty was created by both the Archdemon and the Archangel, not by the main forces of either realm, so it is their decisions that ultimately decide if it is left intact or if it is broken.” He exhaled heavily.

I nodded a little in understanding. “Right, that makes sense.” I hugged my legs closer to my chest, looking over at the Angel warrior. “I wish I hadn’t been born to such a horrid Demon woman...”

He blinked. “What makes you say that?”

“Because if people know I’m the daughter of the Demon attempting to massacre the Humans… No Nephilim will trust me again, not even if I’m the one who ultimately stops her.” I hugged myself, tearing up a little. “Which will be bad, especially if Tyrus ends up dead after all this… If that happens, I have to take over… I’ll be the only Nephilim leader that was indirectly responsible for a horrendous event, and nobody’s going to trust me… I… I don’t know. I guess I can only hope my dad is a decent Angel. That’ll be at least somewhat absolving.”

Augral snorted a little at this. “I would hope so. I haven’t done much wrong during my last time. I’ve sinned a few times, of course, but I’m not perfect.”

Astonishment coursed through my body, and I blinked as I eyed the warrior. “W-W-Wait just a second,” I stammered out, my brows furrowing. “You… You speak as if you’re… Are you...?” I didn’t need to finish my sentence, and really couldn’t anyway, but I was certain Augral knew what I was trying to say due to the sparkle I saw in his eyes.

And he confirmed what I was thinking with a nod of his head. “Yes, Sai... I’m your father. I was once Ryval’s mate. I am the Angel that returned you to life after you were killed in the Nephilim Massacre. Yes, it did very nearly kill me, but I couldn’t bear seeing my offspring dead. I disobeyed orders and did get in trouble, but… I felt as if it was worth it, and still do to this day.” His tone was calm as he delivered this whopping revelation upon me, and all I could do was gape at him as he finally quietened and peered at me. “I... Believe me… I am so, so sorry for not telling you sooner. It does not ameliorate your thoughts, but… I hope it clears up at least some doubt you might have about what you are doing.”

He alluded to the truth earlier, though, my inner voice whispered softly, and I blinked as I realised he had, back when he’d told me that he was proud of me. I hadn’t realised it back then, but that was him telling me… in a roundabout way.

I shook my head in wonder, pleasantly surprised and quite accepting of this truth. I accepted it a lot easier than I had accepted learning Ryval was my mother, mainly because Augral was not only someone who had been helpful to us multiple times, but also because he had done something for me that could have killed him. “I never would’ve guessed that,” I said, still quite awed. “You sure can keep a secret” I smiled a little at him, and he smiled back, although his was more of a ghost smile, half-strained and clearly only done to return mine. “But I can accept it. You’re a good man, Augral, and while I hardly know you – and seriously question why you ended up with Ryval –it’s better than not knowing.”

“Ryval wasn’t that bad before the massacre,” he offhandedly replied, inclining his head a little. “But that’s in the past now. What matters is that you stop her.”

Nodding in acceptance and willingly dropping the subject of Augral and Ryval’s relationship, I went to say something else, but a rustling distracted me and I blinked before looking back and watching Soren emerge from the trees. He was the last person I wanted to see right now, and I pursed my lips as Augral stood, having not expected company and not wanting to be peppered with questions as to his presence here.

“I best return to my duties,” he mused, looking at me as I also stood. “I bid you farewell, Firstborn.” He was not about to reveal that he was my father, not in front of Soren.

I nodded, smiling; it was half-forced due to Soren approaching. “I’ll see you later, then. We’re bound to meet again.”

He nodded briskly, aware of the same, before he extended his wings and, with a mighty downwards stroke, shot into the skies and vanished into the clouds. Part of me was amazed at how fast Angels could actually fly as I watched him depart, but I pushed that amazement back down as I turned back to face Soren.

Soren flinched and stopped dead as I gave him a harsh, cold gaze. I was irritated upset over his previous yelling at me, which had been completely out of line, and while I could see guilt flash on his face I wanted none of it. “Are you here to yell at me more, or just be a general annoyance?” I snapped. “Because I am not in the mood.”

Soren had opened his mouth to say something, but shut it as soon as I delivered my scathing words. Irritation flashed on his own face, and he huffed before saying, “You know what? I was going to attempt civility, but that thought just went right down the drain.”

“You lost that chance the moment you called me, and I quote, ‘fucking stupid’.” I was not lying to him about this. Insulting me over something I had already learned my lesson for was something I refused to stand for.

He crossed his arms, annoyed. “What the Hell is up your ass?”

“I could ask you the same question,” I replied loftily, my eyes flashing. “You had no right to yell at me back at the safehouse. I received reprimanding from Lydia and Nathan already, but at least they didn’t call me a fucking idiot because I did my duty. I protected Tiff from Ryval, and from Tyrus.” I stalked over to him and prodded him harshly in the chest. “So don’t bloody tell me that I’m stupid, because getting into that fucking situation was absolutely unintentional. I did not mean to get into it, and I certainly never meant to put Tiff in that much danger!”

Soren was taken aback by the fact my voice had risen to a shout, but he quickly overcame his shock and slapped my hand away from his chest. “Then why the fuck did you go and do it?!” he yelled. “If you weren’t already on edge because of this whole scenario, both of you would’ve been killed instantly!”

“No, we wouldn’t’ve, because I would have ensured Tiff survived!” I yelled. “Do you take me for a fucking idiot?! Oh, wait, yeah, you do! And even if we weren’t on edge because of this fiasco, I’m pretty sure watching a mutilated man collapse on the road and feeling the damn tension in the air would have been a dead giveaway that we were about to walk into danger!”

My words effectively silenced him, and he just glared at me as I turned away and went to storm off. This prompted him to say, “So, what, you’re just going to walk away like this is no big deal?” He shook his head. “I didn’t think you were a coward, Sai.”

That was the last straw; I turned around, positioned myself a bit, balled my hand, and slugged him in the nose.

He cried out as he stumbled back, clutching his face as blood splattered onto the ground. I shook my hand a little as pain lanced through it, but did nothing more, just watching him recover with a steely gaze. When he did, of course, he did not hesitate; he stalked over and tried to punch me. I sidestepped. “How fucking dare you!” he shouted, dark circles appearing underneath his eyes.

“You called me a coward!” I snapped in reply.

He snarled, then slapped me hard. I recoiled, eyes widening, hand shooting up and fingers gingerly touching my cheek. After a few moments of recollecting myself, I retaliated by punching him in the shoulder, which led to a full-out exchange of blows after that. There was a kick to the leg from me, an elbow to the sternum from him, and a myriad more wounds resulting in cuts and bruises. I even headbutted him once, but that only resulted in me receiving a rather painful hit in the gut, which knocked me into a tree.

I leapt forward after recovering, and growled as I delivered a swift yet precise blow to the upper left side of his ribcage. He cried out and stumbled, collapsing to his knees and panting as he held his side; he was certainly going to feel that tomorrow. That was where I stopped the fight, however, huffing in angry annoyance before saying, “Don’t mess with me. I was going easy on you.” I was covered in bruises and cuts, but I didn’t care, despite the fact they were stinging a fair bit. Soren was worse off than I was. “Now, we better get back to the house.” The moon was high in the sky at this point, and I was beginning to wonder how long I’d actually been out here.

Soren stood and wiped blood from his mouth. He had a split lip and the area immediately around his eyes was quite dark now. “At least we agree on that,” he grunted, his voice guttural and low. He walked off, holding his nose and trying to correct it. I followed, not saying a word and keeping a fair way behind him, still enraged..

Once we returned to the safehouse we silently walked in, the air between us thick with animosity. The others were shocked at our conditions and queried about it, but neither Soren nor I wanted to explain, so we ignored them completely. I even refused to speak to my best friend, and while I admittedly felt guilty about the hurt on her face, I shoved my feelings into the deepest recesses of my heart and retreated to my room, unintentionally slamming the door behind me and locking it.

I cleaned myself up as best I could using the small first-aid kit that I usually had hidden in my bag. Sitting cross-legged on the bed, I began applying antiseptic to the open cuts on my skin. They stung and burned, but despite the pain and my continual wincing I didn’t stop until all my wounds were clean. For the numerous bruises I applied a special cream that my people had made years ago; the colour of the marks instantly lightened to a dark yellow. While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was the best the cream could do, and I had to admit that it was certainly better than having deep, angry purple bruises.

After that I kicked off my shoes, crawled under my doona, and pulled it up to my chin, not bothering to change into pyjamas. I didn’t close my eyes, either, instead staying up a bit longer, deep in thought about the little fist-fight Soren and I had gotten into. I had to admit; for a non-Firstborn, he was quite the adversary. A grim smile appeared on my face as I thought about that. His strength was because of his abnormal heritage, which got me thinking about how many more of us – those of us with Demon mothers and Angel fathers instead of the opposite – were hiding in this world...

While thinking of this, I drifted off, and awoke to someone trying to beat my door down. This startled me enough to push the blankets off and hurry over to the door, pulling it open only to get knocked quite hard in the nose by Tiff, who immediately began to gush apologies after noticing what had happened. When I told her that I didn’t mind because it had been an accident, she nodded before worriedly biting her lip and saying, “We’re leaving soon.”

I grimaced anxiously at the urgency in her tone, but gave no voice to my concern and just nodded. I knew we were leaving to head into the town where Diablo was to meet her… although her graveness concerned me. “Alright... Thanks for coming to wake me.”

“No worries bro,” she said, trying to affect cheerfulness and failing miserably. Then she frowned at me a little. “Hey… Are you okay? You looked pretty beaten up last night...”

I became instantly guarded. “I’m fine, Tiff.” My voice was unintentionally heated. “I’ll tell you later, and not verbally.” I pulled my phone from my pocket and held it up; as soon as she laid eyes on it, she understood what I was trying to say and nodded. Then she stepped closer and hugged me, before looking back over her shoulder as Nathan strode past carrying a bag. This made me start thinking that I had to pack, but Tiff assured me that I didn’t, and I just followed her out when she returned to the others. “So, what’s the time?” I asked her as we walked.

Her response was, “Six thirty in the morning.”

I gave her a dry look. “Are you kidding me?” My voice was unintentionally deadpan.

“I wish I was,” she groaned. “I’m so tired... I want to go back to sleep...”

I huffed in annoyance, but said nothing more as we reached the others. Soren was already standing with the others, but he didn’t even look in our direction as we walked in; I, personally, did not care. I was more than happy to ignore him, and if the others noticed it they chose not to comment, with Lydia instead saying, “I apologise for the early start to the day, but we did promise Diablo we’d meet him early.”

We all nodded, with Hailey suppressing a yawn. I couldn’t help my annoyance at the early start, but the reason behind it was a good one, and we were soon packed into to the car and on our way.

As soon as we hit the highway I pulled out my phone and texted Tiff the events of last night, including how I’d learned that Augral was my father, and I made sure to mention that she was not to tell a soul. I left no details out, especially about the brawl that had occurred between Soren and I, and Tiff replied when applicable. She seemed sad that we’d been brawling, and level-headedly explained that maybe I needed to be the bigger person in this scenario. Thinking back on it, I had been utterly rude to Soren last night when he’d attempted to apologise… which made me think about how Nathan and Lydia had reacted when we’d first told them about the encounter with Ryval. I sighed morosely as I realised that maybe it had been a dumb idea to go investigate the screams and the alley the man had stumbled from in the first place. But what had anyone expected me to do? I was supposed to be part of the movement to stop Ryval, and that man… his wounds had been too severe to be a Human attack.

The only reason we’d actually been in danger was due to Tyrus’ presence. I hadn’t expected him to be there. If it had been Ryval alone, perhaps I would have been able to do something, and maybe some of those Humans could have survived. But... everyone was right, at least in regards to Tiff. I shouldn’t have taken her with me but I couldn’t have left her alone. If they had known she was there…

I groaned internally as it became apparent that I was in a messy situation, and after telling Tiff how I felt about everything, she told me that I could only move past it now; nothing more could be done, and at least there was a silver lining: neither of us had died. That came as a small relief, and I thanked her for making me see at least some reason.

Conversation fell flat there, just as we pulled into the town. None of us were sure where to meet Diablo – we hadn’t decided on a specific meeting place – but we soon found him thanks to Aidan’s Demon-enhanced vision. He was sitting at a café, looking very… Human. None of his Demonic features were visible, except for his slightly sharper teeth and abnormally yellow eyes. He was being very mundane, too, and was reading a newspaper as to not attract attention, at least until we arrived.

He looked up as the car rolled to a stop in a nearby parking space, and frowned. Now that we were closer we could see that he’d been wounded; he was covered in what appeared to be scratches and puncture wounds, possibly from claws and fangs. They looked quite serious as well; he was really roughed up, bloodied and bruised, covered in dirt and grime and some sort of black ichor.

Lydia was the first to get out, and instantly she went to our Demon ally’s side to ensure he was alright. The rest of us tumbled out of the car after her, heading over to the pair in perturbation.

“What happened to you?” Aidan asked as we eyed Diablo, raising an eyebrow and biting the inside of his cheek.

“I came under attack during my investigation last night,” he replied, his voice low and exhausted. “Ravenous Hellbeasts..”

“You mean Hellhounds, right?” Tiff asked, cocking her head.

“No.” He pursed his lips. “Hellbeasts.”

“What’s the difference?” she questioned, now confused.

Diablo gave her a wry smile. “Hellhounds are basically Hell’s equivalent to dogs. Hellbeasts are something much worse, and technically don’t have a Human-known equivalent... but they resemble something along the lines of mutant wolves with wings.”

Lydia changed the topic before Tiff could speak. “If you were attacked by Hellbeasts, then we have a situation on our hands.”

Diablo blinked a little, distracted by her statement. “If I should know what you mean, then you must forgive me. I have forgotten.”

This time I was the one who spoke. “Hellbeasts instinctively attempt to kill those with Angel blood in them. Hailey is an Angel-born Halfling, and all Nephilim have an Angel parent. But since they attacked you, a full Demon, we have to assume they’re under orders.”

The Demon grimaced. “You have a point.” He gripped his chin and averted his eyes. “I can tell that these ones are trained to attack on command, so they’ll attack all of us if given the directive to do so.”

“Basically,” Nathan rumbled as Tiff and the two Halflings looked at us in bemusement, “No matter what we do in this town, where we go, we’re in danger from being devoured by a pack of mutts.” He was completely deadpan as he spoke.

“It’s not just us in danger, either,” Hailey murmured. “Mephisto’s children are at risk as well, if they are indeed still in town. Not to mention the Human populace here.”

Diablo grimaced. “Speaking of the twins,” he said as he stood, “They are indeed still here. But they’re in hiding for some reason or another.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “And I’ve only managed to scrape a few miniscule clues together.”

“That’s better than nothing; we need to utilise them while we still can,” I responded. “We need to act swiftly.”

Nobody had any arguments with my suggestion, and after Nathan locked his car we began to search. Diablo mentioned that someone he’d spoken to last night, at the café near the train station, had seen them. He had been told the twins had been near the station, locked in a heated debate, when someone had tried to assault them. We presumed the assailant was Ryval, providing us even more reason to find the twins.

After Diablo finished informing us, we headed in the direction of the station. While we were walking, Tiff tugged on my arm, and I blinked at her before she directed my vision towards a nearby bush, where I spotted a pale arm peeking out from underneath. I quickly brought it to the attention of the others, and headed over for an investigation. After realising that the arm was still connected to a body, I pushed my way through the shrubbery, and stopped dead.

What I saw mirrored the two grisly murder sites I’d seen before... just a little less intricate due to the fact that this one hadn’t taken place inside a building. It didn’t fail to bring bile to my mouth, however, and I gagged as I stepped back, the others coming up behind me. The lack of detail was not the immediate difference I picked up on though; it was the fact that this group was not entirely comprised of Humans, unlike the other murders.

The first body I saw, closest to me, was a Halfling. Two more Halfling corpses were about seven metres away, and two metres from them was the body of a Nephilim. My worst thoughts sprung to life as I laid eyes on the cadaver; had we come too late? Those thoughts soon lowered their ugly heads as Diablo informed us that the deceased Nephilim was not Mephisto’s child, and we could rest assured, at least in regards to that.

“Ryval appears to be getting more reckless,” Aidan murmured as he stepped over to one of the slaughtered Halflings and knelt down, grimacing and examining her. Then he stood and turned to face us again. “Or perhaps she has another—Agh!”

He cried out in pain as a black spear pierced right through the bones, sinews, muscles and flesh of his shoulder. He stumbled, tripping over the body he was near, clutching at his shoulder as crimson gushed from the wound. “Aidan!” Hailey cried, immediately rushing to his side and attempting to stem the blood’s flow, not caring about the potential danger she had just placed herself in.

Laughter reverberated through the air, and we looked around before our eyes settled on Ryval, standing in front of the shrubbery we had entered the scene from. But as we spotted her, I blanched, my blood running ice-cold. The Demon woman was not alone… and we were utterly surrounded.

Wolf-like beasts with blood-matted fur and raven-feathered wings circled us. How we’d not detected them appear I would never know, but we immediately clustered together, moving to Aidan and Hailey seeing as they could not move to us, not with Hailey treating her fellow Halfling’s wound. The Hellbeasts just watched us with twisted, malicious curiosity, and Ryval smirked as she stepped forward, although she did not enter the Hellbeasts’ ring.

And then, she uttered a single word, one that we simultaneously expected… and feared with all our hearts.

“Attack.”

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