Chapter 25

He immediately moved, faster than any of them expected from his calm demeanor. The largest space that separate them from him was swiftly crunched by his power, his face giving almost no indication that he’d even moved. Oz, to his credit, reacted the fastest, throwing out fireballs, though Satan evaded them effortlessly, his large body moving gracefully through the air.

Oliver screamed incomprehensibly, anger coursing through his veins, his face red. He ran towards Satan, his power brimming at the edge of his perception.

“Get back here, Oliver!” Celeste shouted, but he ignored her, making his way to Satan.

Satan turned his body from where he’d been focused on Oz to Oliver, who was now running up to him. Oliver screamed at him again, this time words making their way out as well.

“You fucker!”

Satan smiled down at him, a few feet higher than Oliver himself, not including the few feet above the ground that he was hovering. The smile was odd, like a knowing parent punishing their ignorant child. As Oliver took another step forward, he found that he couldn’t. His legs seemed rooted to the spot, though when he looked down he didn’t see anything wrong with them. As he looked back to Satan’s patiently smiling face though, he realized he’d made a mistake. He tried to swing his arms, but only ended up swiping the air below the floating fallen angel. As he pulled his arm back to swing again, they refused to move. His right arm was stuck to his side, paralyzed in place, while his left arm was stuck up in the air above his head.

“No!” He grunted in frustration, trying to use all his concentration to at least move a muscle. His arms ignored him, traitorous as they were. In a moment, the rest of his body was paralyzed by Satan, leaving only his head mobile.

“I gave you so many options, so many paths to take, but you ignored them all. You’re a glutton for punishment, aren’t you, Oliver?” The endless smile was still plastered to his face, though it seemed to be tinged by a bit of sorrow, fake or otherwise.

“This is what you wanted, wasn’t it?”

Satan floated forward, away from Oliver, though by his own machinations he allowed Oliver to crane his neck to witness everything.

“Let me go, you ass!” He shouted, his anger sending a wave of madness out to everyone. Satan seemed not to notice it, too powerful to be affected by it, or simply past the moral event horizon already. It was enough to make everyone else pause for a moment, before they readjusted themselves, still in sound mind.

“It’s just like a refreshing breeze!” Ramona said, cracking her knuckles.

Satan spread his palms in front of himself calmly and a few spears of ice formed above them. With a slight motion of his hand, they were sent through the air, aimed at Oz and Maxwell. Oz reacted quickly, shooting them out of the air with his fireballs. As the two elements collided, the ice spears became harmless puddles of water, though much to Oz’s discontent, they kept their momentum, splashing him. Maxwell dodged out of the way, collapsing space to her left, and used the momentum to take the offensive. She collapsed tiny bits of space, making herself faster as she approached Satan from the side, hoping to take him by surprise.

Unfortunately, she had no such luck. She jumped into the air swung out with her leg, hoping to catch him under his ribs, but he’d expected her, and moved out of the way agily, using the time to counterattack.

He struck down with his right hand and Maxwell expanded the space between them, giving herself a moment of redirection. She landed safely on the floor, and kept sprinting around the throne room, looking for another opportunity to attack.

Oliver cried out again in frustration, sending a wave of madness out from himself to the combatants. It continued to pulse through the air, a low thrumming they could only hear inside their heads like the pounding of their blood through their hearts.

Satan continued throwing ice spears across the battlefield, and Oz continued to deflect, turning them into harmless puddles of water with his fire. He edged around the battlefield, counter to the direction Maxwell was travelling, hoping to make it so that his motion as a target made him harder to track and aim for. As Satan lost interest in him, instead focusing on Celeste and Ramona, he took the moment to get in some attacks of his own. He threw a handful of fireballs out, intending to run so that the fireballs would come from different points in space to throw off the fallen angel. As he ran, his foot stepped into one of the puddles he’d made earlier, and he slid across the marble pathway that split the room in half. The fireballs shot out prematurely, hitting the ceiling in small bursts, dust and chunks of gold falling down. Oz rolled out of the way, but his position was already compromised. Satan turned to him, and seeing that he was off of his feet, brought a hand up, readying a fireball.

Oz pulled his arm across his face uselessly, trying to protect himself. Celeste and Ramona saw this happening, and both used their powers to act against it. Working together, they pushed their abilities, focusing on Satan’s right arm. The fireball continued to grow, casting a shadow around everyone, but as Satan moved his arm to throw it down on the prone young man before him, he found that his arm no longer moved.

Oz took the momentary reprieve from danger to scramble to his feet, running out of the way again.

Satan looked at his arm, confused and agitated by its motionlessness.

“I see you all have been paying attention in your classes and practicing your powers.” He said. With a moment of struggle, he managed to move his arm, as if he’d broken it out of a frozen mold. By then, his target had escaped his attack, so he searched for a new target. The fireball grew, reaching twice the size of a beach ball, before Satan sent it flying towards Celeste and Ramona. They both saw it coming, though jumping out of the way hardly did much for them due to its size. Maxwell reversed direction, collapsing the space between the twins and herself, while also increasing the space between the three of them and the fireball. Satan had already lost interest in his attack, instead hurling more ice blocks at Oz, trying to vary them in size and shape to keep him distracted.

Maxwell jumped, holding hands with both Celeste and Ramona, as the fireball crashed into the wall a few feet behind them, blowing them all further off their feet and sliding across the wall towards the ground.

They crashed into a heap on top of one another, scattered groans coming from them.

Oliver turned his head as far back as he could, trying to get a glimpse of what had happened, though he could only see them partially in his peripherals. He let out another shout, a fresh wave emitting, stronger than the others that had been rhythmically coming from him during the battle. This new wave seemed to set the bar higher for the rest of them, with the pulsing now occurring at a higher, yet deeper, frequency.

Maxwell found that while the noise drowned out her higher-functioning thoughts, as it always did, she could still hear them if she focused. The madness was affecting her, but for some reason she found she wasn’t as taken by it as she used to be. The waves continued to crash at the shore of her mind, and the thoughts were eventually washed away, forgotten about in the heat of battle.

She got up from the spot she was currently in, sitting on top of Ramona, and rubbed her fatigued muscles for a moment before taking off again, not wanting to get caught in another attack.

As they reoriented themselves, Oz threw repeated fireballs at Satan to keep him from taking advantage of their state. Satan took a few of these hits, his naked pale skin blistering where they made contact, and then collapsed space, stepping out of the way. He then conjured more ice, returning Oz to his defensive position.

Celeste and Ramona clambered to their respective feet, though Ramona was holding her left shoulder gingerly. It had been the part of her body that had taken the brunt of the damage when she’d hit the wall and the ground, so naturally it hadn’t come out unscathed.

Celeste as well, came up with an injury. She wobbled to her feet, favoring her right leg while trying to protect her left from too much weight. She leaned up against the wall, once again trying to slow down Satan’s movements, if even just a little.

Maxwell pressed the offensive again, shaking some of the dust off of herself and running back into the action, this time aided by Celeste and Ramona. The three of them worked in concert, with Ramona and Maxwell hitting Satan from opposite angles, to ensure that at least one of their attacks connected, while Celeste used her ability to hopefully slow Satan down as he tried to attack back at one of them. Maxwell threw a punch at Satan’s face, using her patented “space crunch punch”, but it seemed to have little effect. His head reeled to the damage, but he remained cognizant enough to swing a hand back at her. She expanded the space between the two of them, and with Celeste’s help, she managed to dodge out of the way with only a hair’s width of space to spare. Ramona used this opening to attack the back of his legs, hoping to kick his legs out from under him, to at least some effect.

She aimed her foot to connect with the back of his kneecap, and succeeded, sending Satan down to one leg. Oz took this moment to throw another volley of fireballs, sending them away from the two girls to avoid friendly fire. Again, Satan seemed to shrug off the damage, the skin where Oz’s fire had made contact blackening and peeling. His once serene porcelain skin was now marred, black and crumbling in some places while being blistered and an angry red in others. Part of his perfect blonde curls had been burned off, leaving singed and blackened tips.

Oz groaned in frustration, “I’m gonna burn your dick off, I swear!”

To punctuate the statement, he tossed more fireballs at Satan as the fallen angel got back to his feet, smiling widely.

Oliver, from his frozen position, took a moment to consider Oz’s words, although he knew he would’ve rather not done so. A quick glance between the fallen angel’s legs proved that Oz’s words were hollow to their very foundation. For the hundredth time, Oliver cursed Satan’s strong paralysis and his own inability to think before acting.

Maxwell and Ramona kept up the attack, dealing blow after blow to Satan while Celeste supported them from the sidelines.

After a few rounds of this, Satan began to realize their pattern, and worked to subvert it. He saw Maxwell come in for her attack, aiming to hit him just below the jaw, while Ramona would drill her legs into the side of his own leg. His purposely calm demeanor allowed him to take stock of the situation, and then take action.

“This ends now.” He said to everyone that could hear him.

He let Ramona attack him, feeling his leg give out under him, and he let himself fall to the floor again, holding himself up on one knee. He saw Celeste, propped up against a wall, ready to stop him when he tried to counter attack.  He also saw Maxwell flying towards him, and he raised his right hand in the air, intentionally telegraphing it to make sure that Celeste saw, which she did. She became so focused on his right hand, and stopping it at the precisely correct moment to let Maxwell away to safety that she didn’t notice he’d also readied his left hand. Maxwell made her attack, and as he drove his right hand towards her, he felt the familiar tug against his muscles, stopping him from attacking as quickly as he’d liked.

As soon as he felt it, he retaliated with his left hand, unfettered by Celeste’s paralysis. His left hand connected handily with Maxwell’s body, spiking her directly into the ground. A woof of air escaped her body as she bounced off the floor, her face struck with surprise that he’d been able to intercept her.

He smiled again, finally beginning to enjoy himself.

“Maxwell! Oh my god, are you okay?” Oz shouted across the room, worry etched to his face. She turned her head to look at him, and struggled, bringing a hand up to perhaps climb her way over to him, or at least away from Satan, but her hand fell to the ground as she lost consciousness.

“You fucker!” Oliver screamed, livid once again. “Stop this! Let me go, and… let me fight you myself!” He sent out a fresh wave of madness, again upping the dosage from what had been ambiently thudding into everyone’s heads.

Satan ignored the boy as he cried out, instead setting his sights on Oz. Oz had run over to Maxwell, to pull her to safety and to check to make sure she was still breathing.

Thankfully, she was, though it was labored and ragged from what he could hear coming from her. He stood up, intending to grab her and at least drag her to safety and away from the battle, but he was thwarted in this.

As he grabbed her arms, telling her mostly unconscious body that she was going to be alright, he was blindsided by a large block of ice, wide as his torso and just as long, hurtling towards him.

Oliver cried out, and Celeste let out a, “watch out!” but he couldn’t have reacted fast enough for any other outcome. The large ice block hit him bodily in the chest, sending him sprawling across the ground and into a wall. He hit the golden wall with a sickening crunch, the ice block sitting on his lap, reigning over his now unconscious body.

Celeste watched the scene unfold before her in horror, but noticed as she felt horror, she could feel Oliver’s anger. It radiated off of him now like heat, the madness aura cranking up everytime one of them went down. This time, it felt different. She felt like she should’ve lost control by now, but it hadn’t happened. She could feel her free will ebbing away, but in a way that she had direct control over, as if she was holding the lever for a floodgate. She could open it up as much as she liked, retaining her own control.

Satan, having taken down both Maxwell and Oz in quick succession, began to move towards Celeste, seeing her as easy prey.

Ramona noticed this phenomenon as well, almost able to intuit that her twin was in danger, and moved to intercept Satan. She stepped between the two of them, widening her stance to indicate that she wasn’t budging. Celeste, to her credit, focused her powers, ready to help her sister in any way she could.

Satan paused for a moment, analyzing Ramona. His eyes rested on her own, and a plan formed. It was simple, but he knew it would work.

Ramona bared her teeth at him, a primal way of protecting her territory, but it was all she could do without physically attacking him, which would leave her fate questionable. Before she could think anything else, Satan crunched the space between them, making his move. He deliberately moved to her right side, and even though she was prepared to counter anything he’d had up his sleeve, she hadn’t considered her own weakness.

He disappeared into the blindspot that her eyepatch covered, and a moment later she felt his hand come down on her in a chop, sending her bouncing off of the floor in the same way Maxwell had. Her bones crunched, and pain raced its way through her body, indicating a break somewhere along her ribs. She closed her eyes, willing the pain to leave hre for a moment, and much to her surprise, it did. The darkness closed in on her, and she blissfully fell to unconsciousness.

As she saw this, Celeste opened the floodgates. She allowed the madness to flush into her, literally blinding her with rage for a moment. The anger swelled within her, and without any other way out, she screamed at Satan. Walking with both legs, she headed towards him, oddly desiring to be part of the battle rather than the puppetmaster that she’d usually opted to be in the back.

“You do not touch my fucking sister!” She screamed, reeling back to punch him. Unfortunately, a side effect of being in the backlines of all the battles, she hadn’t considered training to fight in any way, and with her hurt leg, she had no chance against Satan as he picked her up, flinging her casually against a wall, her skull knocking against it hardily. She dropped to the floor like a marionette with its strings cut.

Oliver looked around the opulent throne room hardly able to believe it. Maxwell lied on the floor, and a few feet from her, Oz was propped against the wall, his eyes closed. Ramona was on the floor on the other side of the room, her sister against the wall across from her. Oliver stood in the middle, frozen across his body. The mental anguish, the impotence, the inability to do anything wracked through his mind, destroying any sensible thought he might’ve had. His brain itself had gone far beyond overdrive, and into somewhere incomprehensible. His vision swam with images of his grievously harmed friends, and somewhere along the way his body had given out, sinking him into the inky blackness of senselessness. The paralysis seemed to give way once his muscles stopped protesting against them, and he fell to the floor limply.

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