Of all the creatures to come to their aid, a Hornet was among the least likely. Yet there she was, in all her buzzing, chitinous glory, and Cambiel wasn't going to complain about it. Anything that kept the Varjan horde from getting closer to him was a welcome sight.
The feeling wasn't mutual, it seemed, as the Hornet went wide-eyed upon seeing that the Goblin and he were boys. "I....have.....questions, but now is not the time." she told them, which made Cambiel shudder. That was not a conversation he was looking forward to.
The hornet grabbed Skarsneek by the shirt and hoisted him up. "Try to keep up, choir boy" she snarked.
"I'll try not to leave you behind." Cambiel fired back. He would have to ask her to a race later. Not now, though. War zones were bad places for friendly competitions.
And like that, they were off. With a final insult to the commander from the hornet, which brought a smile to Cambiel's face despite himself, the trio flew out of reach of the Varjan invaders and off to rejoin the rest of the troops.
As the warband (as Cambiel had come to think of them) set up camp and made themselves comfortable, Cambiel took it upon himself to set up a few traps. You never knew when someone was sneaking up on you until it was too late, and it didn't hurt to have the security.
The situation was completely beyond his pay grade. Monsters, helping humans against other humans? Order forces attacking not only another anti-monster faction, but implying Angels typically helped monsters? In one day, his entire world had gone topsy-turvy. He didn't know what to think. Until now it had always been so simple: monsters want to kidnap and defile humans, angels are supposed to stop that. The only time he was meant to fight against humans was when they were working with monsters. Nothing in his training had prepared him for the day he would have to help monsters protect humans against other humans.
It also left him in an awkward position. His orders were to spy on the monster warband and find out why they wanted to help humans. Assuming he found out why they did that, what then? He couldn't just leave these poor souls to be butchered by heretics, or made into the playthings of the Demon Lord, but the longer he stayed, the more the locals would associate his presence with the presence of monsters. Getting angels associated with the Demon Lord would devestate the Chief God's chances of converting the island in the future.
He was in the middle of setting up a ward on the south side of the camp when he heard a kerfuffle coming from the camp. At first, he thought it was the Varjans, and he was ready to storm back into camp and give them the what-for. His disappointment when he overheard that it was just that the prisoner had woken up surprised him. He was always keen to crack a few heretic skulls, but he never thought he was that bloodthirsty that he would be disappointed to miss a fight. What was he, an orc?
He could only hope that this mission was over quickly. Last thing he needed was to "go native" with a bunch of monsters.
Time passed, and eventually Cambiel had the entire camp site surrounded in traps and spells. Satisifed that not even a dormouse was going to be able to sneak up on them, far less a Varjan assassin, the angel turned back towards the camp and made his way over to the fire, hoping to avoid anyone's notice - especially the Jiangshi. After his little mishap on the boat, she probably thought he was a complete simpleton.
"Is anyone else here floored by the fact that there are FOUR male monsters here? I'm still trying to make sense of what I'm seeing. The Great Change made every monster on land, sea or air female. How did you guys avoid it? Just you four existing has world-changing implications if either the Order or Demon Lord catches wind of you. Hell, the Order, and by extension the Varjans, might just try to kill you to prove a point, perhaps on some belief that the Demon Lord isn't all-powerful or some stupid shit like that."
When he heard that, Cambiel wanted to turn around and walk right back out into the woods. This was the conversation he had been dreading. Would they even care? Knowing monsters, they would probably just laugh at him. But she had asked, and he had to give an answer.
"There used to be a lot more angel boys," he began, his voice quiet and solemn. "But the Great Change..."
He coughed, as if the words were stuck in his throat. This was harder than it seemed.
"The Change... There were a lot of..."
He stopped again. He couldn't do this. He wouldn't give these brutes the excuse to make fun of him. Even if he wanted to tell them, he couldn't, not without giving away where his allegiances truly lied.
"There aren't many of us left." he mumbled weakly, hardly able to force the words out of his mouth. And that was it. Maybe some day he would be comfortable enough around these guys to tell them the tale of what happened, but today was not that day. Today, he would just gaze into the fire, and remember all the brothers he lost.
Why, that pompous, arrogant..! Cambiel raised his bow, fully prepared to put an arrow through this serial-killer-looking blasphemer, when he was distracted by the sound of a dozen horses tramping towards them. He knew which side they were on even before he turned around to see them.
He fired off arrow after arrow, aiming for the horses, hoping that by tripping them over, he might be able to slow down the unending charge, but there were just too many.
If it was just him, he could have just flown away. Maybe he should have – Skarsneek was a monster, after all. They were enemies. If he saved him now, that was just one more soldier for the Demon Lord's army he would have to fight later. But he couldn't. He wouldn't. The goblin deserved better than to be hacked to pieces like this.
Skarsneek took a particularly nasty blow, one that surely would have killed him if he had been a human, and Cambiel couldn't wait any more. He needed to adopt a strategy he would rather not, given the option. Direct contact. To save a monster. If his sisters could see him now…
But he never got the chance to enact his plan. Before he could even make a move, a feminine voice cried out to them, a single order: get down. Skarsneek obeyed. Cambiel did too. The voice didn't sound like it was going to wait for them.
Heathen fools. Even when a literal Angel, a messenger of God, stood before them to tell them what they were doing was wrong, they were so arrogant that they still thought they were right.
But Cambiel didn’t have time to discuss theology. One of the heretic soldiers noticed Skarsneek sneaking up on them and, with a warning cry, reached for a javelin. Cambiel’s arrow met his eye, and he fell to the ground with a satisfying thud, but what little chance there had been to resolve this peacefully had just died with him.
“To the Fallen with it,” he muttered morosely, nocking another arrow. That wasn’t the first human he had killed. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last either.
The other riders quickly drew their swords and charged towards the duo. Cambiel gave his goblin ally a quick once-over just to make sure he wouldn’t need any help, and when he was assured that Skarsneek could handle himself in this fight, he turned his attention back to the heretics. Not that he was worried. He could have fired a dozen arrows in the space it would have taken the riders to reach them. The one he did fire made a new home for itself inside a heretic’s black heart, and the rider was dead before his body hit the floor.
If it sounds like Cambiel didn’t really care about these humans, it’s because he darn well didn’t. Heretics were the lowest form of life on earth. Lower than animals, lower than monsters, lower even than Demons and Devils: at least they had the excuse that the Demon Lord was influencing them. No, the only thing that even compared to a human heretic in terms of evil was a Fallen Angel. Those who willingly walked away from the Chief God’s embrace were a thousand times worse than those who had never felt it in the first place.
With the minions handled, Cambiel turned his sights on the leader...