A slow rain started up as I picked my way across the ground, holding my nose and poking at the slew of corpses with my sword.
The heat of battle had worn off as soon as both sides called it quits, and mercy duty didn’t pose quite the same rush for me.
It had been a long day. All of the aches only chose to set in right then, and I made a mental note to get a gash in my arm looked at.
Eventually I hitched a ride with Manara back to the camp, and almost collapsed with exhaustion into my tent.
I woke up at some odd hour of the night, and the sounds coming from the rest of the camp confirmed that the partying was in full swing. I peeled off the sticky combat suit, replacing it with one of the many tunics I had in the tent.
I tried to wash up a bit with a bottle of water I had, but eventually I was overcome with the urge to get out of the stifling tent.
I walked away from the partying, doing my best to clear my head away from the incessant noise.
The night was cool. It almost verged on chilly as the breeze met my sweat-slicked skin.
My feet followed a worn path around the outskirts of the camp, and for the first time in a long time, I just thought.
I thought about everything. About my soul. About being in hell, about hell being real and in the midst of a war and nothing at all like I would have ever expected. About the family I thought I knew, and how far away they seemed.
I thought about Lucifer. Satan. The supposed embodiment of evil, whose only sin seemed being an eternal teenage boy. About right and wrong and all of the shades of grey in between.
I thought about Cupid, but my mind couldn’t make any sense of him. He was an enigma. A topic equal parts foreboding and fascinating. I couldn’t understand what he was up to, if anything, and even worse, I couldn’t understand myself.
I glanced at the arrow-shaped scar on my hand, frowning. I couldn’t tell what was real and what was Cupid’s little enchantment. He lingered in my thoughts, and I felt a vague sense of fear.
That was, until I saw him sitting on a stump, taking a swig from a silver flask.
I froze momentarily, trying to pass silently behind him.
He took another swig, speaking without turning around.
Cupid turned around on his seat, his pale blue eyes gleaming.
“I…didn’t want to bother you.” I offered, trying to continue on my way.
He grabbed my wrist, standing up in one fluid movement.
“Out of the question. Let me join you.”
We walked in silence.
Eventually he took my hand and I felt my scar prickling as it came into contact with his skin.
“We’re alone.” I reminded, “You don’t have to keep up the charade.”
He chose to ignore what I said.
“I appreciated your aid in today’s battle.”
“It was nothing.” I replied automatically, keeping my eyes fixed on the path.
“You could have very well left me to my fate. But you didn’t.”
“I’m the High Commander. I don’t want to lose any more soldiers than I have to.”
“Is that all I am? A soldier?”
“A very well-trained soldier?” I offered, trying to discreetly free myself from his grip.
“I can see why Lucifer had such difficulty with you.” He laughed, making me turn to look at him.
When his ice-blue eyes met mine my resolve evaporated and my arm slackened.
“I do my best to serve The King.”
“Yes, very well, but are you happy?”
The question took me by surprise.
Cupid looked at me through thick lashes.
“He owns your soul. You’re condemned to be his slave for eternity. He’s taken you from your home, your family, and in return for what? He’s made you a common soldier, fighting his side in a pointless war.”
I was stunned into momentary speechlessness.
“I…well…I’m making the most of the situation.”
His lips quirked into a lopsided smile.
“You don’t have to believe that.”
“Then what should I believe?” I asked defiantly, stopping.
“Believe that you are more than capable enough to change what you dislike.” He replied, choosing his words carefully, “And that there is no force more powerful than revolution.”
He took a swig from his flask, before taking a few more steps onto the path.
"I'll leave you with that. Sleep well, Commander."
I watched with remote amazement as he spread two huge, white feathered wings, and disappeared into the night.