They had been walking since before the sun rose in the wastes. All around them, long, tall grass was gently swaying in the early morning sunlight. The sky above was a pale blue, with long and floaty strands of clouds colored pink by the sunlight and purple by the night streaking it from north to south. A gentle breeze, carrying the scent of grass, was flowing.
The path was a simple dirt road, maybe not even intentional. So many people had walked upon it that a path had appeared underneath. From time to time, a small cairn told them they were on the right track.
Under these conditions, walking was easy. But they both knew that at noon, the sunlight would be too harsh for them to advance and they would have to take a break. It was their second day on the road since they left Tatelo. They were walking northward not to the harbor directly, but first to a farm that was on the way. They had heard the farm was held by fallen angels.
The easy weather made them stop only on the cusp of noon. They stopped at a cairn and sat in its shadow.
During the evening, the songs of crows were deep and resonant under the quiet dusk skies. Such weather was uncharacteristic for the season, the beginning of spring. They saw a cloud of white smoke rise from the horizon, and a few lights. It was the farm.
Approaching, a small group of children clothed in white robes run past them. Human children ? A dark figure came running behind. Upon passing it they saw it was a fallen angel. Taking a humanoid form, the only thing showing they were not humans was the various dark wings that replaced their head, forming a chaotic bundle. All around that bundle, crossed eyes were hidden among the wings. Other than that, they looked close to humans, with still a few black feathers poking out of their dark limbs.
A few steps behind them, the figure stopped, haggardly. "Uh... I'll come back to you soon. Did you see a group of children running past ?" they asked.
-Yes, they continued on the path."
-Argh.. These kids will be the death of me" And there they went, running for the kids.
Jhin and Melissa continued inside the farm. Through the glass walls of a few greenhouses, colorful flowers could be seen growing. On the step of the main building, an old fallen was waiting, sitting on a rocking chair and smoking a pipe. "Welcome travelers. This is one of the many fallen angel farms. I will ask for two more plates to be placed upon our table." And the figure went back inside.
The inside of the main building had a rich odor. All over the walls, and hanging from the ceiling, drying bundles of flowers were painting the room with warm colors. They were in the main eating hall, at the end of one of the few long tables. On either side of the tables, a bit less than forty fallen angels and children were seated. At the end of the tables, big pots were steaming.
After the food was served, everyone started eating. In front of Melissa, at the edge of the table, was the old fallen from before, whom they guessed was the head of the farm. "I take it you are the ones the MOTH talked about." they started.
-Yes. we're looking to go to the commercial harbor to take a boat to Majala.
-I see. Unfortunately, the control room of this harbor is locked. The key has been taken by an Ideal.
-An Ideal ?
-Ah. How would I explain that ... An Ideal is the materialization of human beliefs. They have a varied appearance, and some of them are weak but others could raze a city in a few seconds. But in general, they like to reside within buildings.
-I see. Where is that Ideal then ?
-A bit to the east, in the old building of the General Water Company. Ideals hide inside abandoned buildings then extend the space within. The building is like a shell of a hermit crab. These are called guts."
At that moment, a child came running behind the farm head. "Can you tell us a story ? Please please please !" The head sighed. "Yes, yes, just get in bed all of you rascals..." And they left with the child.
Looking around, Jhin and Melissa saw that all the children had left, presumably to bed. The fallen who was chasing the children earlier sat down next to them. "From what I've heard you weren't there for Event Zero. You're probably wondering why there are children around here.
-Yeah, a bit. From all we know, angels are those cold and heartless killing machines.
-We fallens are angels that left the hivemind. A lot of us owe it to the RAT or the MOTH.
-So why the children ?
-These kids have all been abandoned in the village. Either because they didn't fit in, or caused too much trouble, or had an illness. The people know we'll take care of the kids, so they send them to us.
-What happens when they grow up ?
-Some of them try to go back to a village. Others work at a farm. Since this farm is rather small, most of them are sent to other farms.
-Cast away from society...
-Yeah. A lot of the kids we receive can't even walk, and a large part don't make it. It may seem peaceful but the villages are quite harsh over those they don't want."