Kyra gave him a salute before she darted off down the street. “Godspeed, Private,” Beaux whispered, the breeze stealing his words away the moment they left his lips. Baby blue eyes watched her retreat woefully. Hopefully she would make it to the Wilsons’ house, and he desperately hoped that he would too. A particularly loud bark made him whirl around to see that the dogs were much closer now. Some had started to run, intending to avoid Beaux and chase after the delicious cake that was now in the engineer’s hands.
The angel had to act quick, or they would pursue his companion! From behind, his wings snapped out once more in a flourish. From wingtip to wingtip, Beaux suddenly took up nearly the whole street. Such an instant and unexpected movement had the chasing dogs skidding to a stop across the cobblestones. Several let out yelps of fear. The tall man had turned into a much larger, more threatening being. Beaux had intended to make himself look more intimidating by appearing to be bigger. It worked for wild animals to defend themselves, so it ought to work similarly for the Knight. Five dogs ran from the scene with their tails between their legs. The remaining ones had flinched at the extension of wings, but now continued forward cautiously, growling as they went. The cake was long forgotten, and now the big bird-looking human before them was the target.
Beaux felt a little relief that the numbers had dwindled. If it came to it, a battle would be much easier now. A lead dog broke the slow approach and lunged at him, jaws open wide with slobbery jowls that dropped spittle everywhere. One wing folded slightly and came forward, the joint using momentum to knock the dog back. Beaux winced as his attack landed and the canine went skidding across the stone road. He didn’t want to hurt any of the dogs, he had a soft spot for animals. There had to be a way to scare them off or something! He backed up a few seconds as his mind raced. The angel wasn’t quite as quick-thinking as Kyra was.
An idea came to mind and his wings were already starting to transform. In a second, the elegant white wings became even larger and turned a stormy gray color. Beaux drew them back behind him until the tips were only a few feet apart. Then, with a sharp exhale, he pumped them forward. From beneath the wings came a powerful gust of wind, fueled and guided by magic. The air whipped towards the dogs and it was too late for them to dodge. Barks of fear came from the pack as they all were sent tumbling backwards down Geranium Lane.
People who had retreated into shops to save themselves now peered from the windows with awe. The sight of so many street dogs rolling down the street like fuzzy tumbleweeds was a shock, hilarious to some. While a few of the onlookers giggled, unheard behind the glass, Beaux wiped a few tears from his eyes and sniffled. He felt awful for having to do that to the dogs and despite how viciously they could have attacked him, he thought about the scrapes and bruises they might have and let out a little sob.
Now that the pack had retreated, he was free to follow after Kyra. Beaux walked up Geranium Lane, wiping away tears as his wings returned to their normal white. Nothing in the street had indicated that the mission was a failure. Hopefully she had made it safely.
The Major General spotted something down the stone road, a brown paper bag with the Estelle’s Bakery logo printed on it. The item was stuck beneath the paw of another street dog, who now raised his head as Beaux approached. The alleyway swallowed the dog as he retreated, licking his jowls contentedly with a spring in his step. Coming to a halt over the bag, the Knight realized just what this meant. Kyra had sacrificed her dessert for the mission. Beaux placed a hand over his heart at the tragedy. An eclair had laid down its life for the sake of a birthday cake. A noble act for a noble cause. He saluted the fallen bag before picking it up and placing it in his pocket. A Rune Knight couldn’t let litter just sit there!
Jogging up the last stretch of street, Beaux heard the party before he saw the house. Kids were shrieking in excitement and running around the house and backyard. A cluster of balloons had been tied to their mailbox, hailing any partygoers to the correct destination. This was definitely the right place!
Beaux slowed himself to a walk to catch his breath and tidy up his hair and clothes. The parents certainly wouldn’t be impressed if a Major General showed up with unruly clothing! One last deep breath and he was heading down the walkway. Kyra stood in the doorway with the cake box in hand, not a scratch could be seen upon it. She must have arrived just a minute or two before him. Two adults stood inside the doorway, talking cheerily with the recruit. Beaux arrived just in time to catch their question.
“Is it just you?” the mother asked, a little disappointment in her voice. “Non, madame,” Beaux answered before his fellow Knight could say anything. The Wilsons looked surprised at his sudden appearance, standing next to her. “I, too, have come to deliver the cake for your son’s birthday! Major General Beaux Phacelia and Private Kyra Forte at your service.” The angel gave a little bow. Both parents looked relieved that there were two Rune Knights now in attendance.
“Mama? Papa? Who’s here?” came the voice of a boy faintly from a room in the house.
“Nobody, son! Now go gather your friends, it’s time for cake!” the father called over his shoulder in reply.
The parents beckoned the two Knights inside. The house was quaint but well-decorated. While the mother went to go round up the children at the dining table, the father explained what the plan was.
“Our son, Luke, will be so happy. Thank you for coming! When the kids are all settled, I’ll have you enter the dining room and present the cake. Maybe exaggerate a little bit, the kids will love it! Sound good?” Beaux gave a nod. “Great! Oh, and be warned. It might get loud in here.”
“Honey, will you bring the cake in?” the mother called, and that was their cue. The Major General looked to Kyra, then stepped into the dining room. Kids sat all around the table, some climbing all over their chairs while others sat patiently. Plates and silverware covered the tablecloth, ready to be covered with cake.
Twenty young heads turned to stare at the two Rune Knights as they entered, all of their eyes wide in awe. All the noise and movement in the room came to a halt instantly. “Happy Birthday, Luke!” Beaux cheered. “We are from the Celebration Squadron of the Rune Knights, here to spread happiness, fun, and to protect your celebration from evil!” The angel gave a deep bow to the children, then struck some exaggerated poses with a few HIIIYAs and KAPOWs as if he were fighting off an invisible evil with air punches. For a few seconds, nobody said anything. At the head of the table a little boy with a comically large party hat had begun wiggling and shaking, his excitement building up until he couldn’t hold it any longer. The small human leapt from his chair with an ecstatic squeal, running over to the two Knights. He jumped up and down in front of them for a moment, yelling “Rune Knights! Rune Knights! Rune Knights!”. Beaux was starting to wonder if he was breathing among all that shouting.
Other kids started to get out of their chairs. Before any of them reached the Knights, Beaux took the cake box gently from Kyra and placed it in the center of the table. They had worked too hard to get the cake there for it to be destroyed by the very children it was destined to be eaten by! He did it just in time. The birthday boy had latched into his leg with an enthusiastic hug, squeezing and still yelling excitedly. That was all it took for the rest of the kids to ditch their seats and swarm all over the two Knights.