Chapter 2

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I came to breakfast the next morning wearing a heated coat. Much better.

After grabbing some grub–eggs and fruit, some bacon–I looked for an empty table. Somewhere I could sit without being disturbed.

“Over here,” a girl–I think. Hard to tell without any plumage–offered me a seat at her table.

Not wanting to be rude, I sat down next to her.

“First time losing your feathers?” She gestured to my coat.

“Uh… yeah. I mean, I’ve lost a few here and there, but… never all at once. I… don’t molt much.”

“I remember my first molt.” She smiled–weird how we can do that despite having beaks. “You get used to it. They grow pretty fast.”

I nodded.

“I’m Lilly.”

“Alex.” I took a bite of egg. And by the way, it’s totally fine for birds to eat eggs. We usually stay away from fertilized ones, but that’s just common decency.

“You excited?” She asked.

“Huh? Oh, you mean the thing about becoming slaves to a deity? Yeah. Real excited.”

She tried to restrain herself, but couldn’t help smiling a little at my joke. “You really shouldn’t say stuff like that.”

“Sorry. Guess I’m just pissed I have to do this. Aren’t you?”

“I–well–I guess the alternative is a little gruesome…” She forced herself into a smile. “But it’s what we’re here for. It’s why God created us.”

“So they say…” I took a forkful of blueberries. Excellent quality. So at least the food’s good here. “Honestly, that whole ‘God’s Chosen People’ thing sounds a little racist to me. Who’s to say we’re better than any other kind of furry?”

“Furry?!” Lilly was shocked. “We’re not–”

“Uh, yeah. We are,” I said through a beakful of eggs, “I mean, we have–had–feathers, not fur, but, as non-human people, we’re by definition furries.”

“I guess.” She took a bite of egg. “But when people talk about furries, they mean all those species that came from humans altering their forms with dark magic, so…”

“I know. I know.” I sighed. “It just bothers me that everyone treats them like crap. Just for being different.”

“Me too, I suppose.” Lilly sighed. “It’s not their fault their ancestors did all that, right?”

“I don’t really see what was so wrong about it. They saw room for improvement, and they experimented. And hey, maybe that’s what humans are intended to do: branch out. Find new ways of living.”

“That’s an interesting thought.”

I blinked. Hadn’t expected a positive reaction to that. Angels aren’t exactly known for their tolerance of new ideas. But Lilly seemed alright. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

After breakfast, we headed off to pick up our halos.

Halos. The one part of this training that I was actually excited for. They’re more than just a symbol of divinity: they enhance the wearer’s magic and help them connect to the spirit world and other halo-users. Individually, an angel’s magical power is nothing special. But when a group of angels links together through their halos, they can cure otherwise incurable illnesses, manipulate the weather to help a farmer’s crops… or send down a plague to kill the “unworthy”.

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