They didn’t know what to do. Cheering seemed odd for the situation, even though the entire situation should’ve been grounds for cheering across the globe. Oliver felt sad, but he couldn’t pinpoint why. He wasn’t sad for the death of Satan, so what was it that tugged at his heart?
He checked his pocket, and sure enough his soul was still there in it’s ball of shifting sands, untouched even through all the battling. Its safety brought a bit of levity to his heart, though he couldn’t help but feel like things were coming to an end. Though, things were coming to an end, weren’t they?
He looked over to his friends, and as he saw that they’d been looking to him for a sign, he smiled.
“Looks like we did it.” He said softly.
They all nodded in agreement, his smile passing on to the others. Ramona let out a hearty, “Yeah!” pumping her fist into the air, which everyone felt in their hearts but were too exhausted to join in with.
“Just another Thursday for us!” She said, grinning wildly, “We took down the devil, what’s next, a god? I think we could do it if we had enough time to prepare!”
“Ramona, I don’t think we’ll be able to take on people that strong, even if we did get to keep our abilities.” Celeste chided quietly.
“What do you mean by tha– Oh, right, we made good on our side of the deal, didn’t we?” She said, her smile faltering.
“Yeah,” Maxwell said, nodding her head, “We agreed that we got our souls back if the demons helped us to defeat Satan. We did that, and now our souls are ours to keep. The demons have nothing left binding us to them.”
With her words, Asmodeus appeared, alongside Xaphan, Marchosias, Raum, and Halphas.
“She’s right,” He said in his usual gruff voice, though it seemed tinged with something akin to regret, “You have fulfilled the bargain, and so we will do the same to you. As we can now assume control of all of Hell, we’ll ensure you all receive safe passage out, as your two professors did earlier.”
“They made it out safely?” Maxwell asked quickly, belaying that she’d been ruminating on the worry for a while, “I’m glad.”
“Even so,” Celeste said, “We should get out of here and back home before they drum us out of town. Thank you for your help, Halphas.”
“You too, Raum!” Ramona said, beaming.
“Thank you for everything, Marchosias, even if we didn’t always get along.” Maxwell said.
“You were pretty alright, Xaphan.” Oz said, winking at the impish demon.
“Asmodeus, I feel like I almost don’t have to say it.” Oliver started.
“Then don’t.” Asmodeus said, cutting him off.
“But I will anyway,” He continued, eyeing Asmodeus. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done. You didn’t have to step out on a limb back in the soul vault, but you did anyway. I appreciate your trust in me, and I know I’ll miss your attitude.”
Asmodeus smiled, and Oliver had to take two looks at the demon before he could actually verify it as being real.
“As I said before, the five of us will take the reins over Hell, ruling it as a council, an oligarchy instead of a monarchy.”
“Isn’t that what you were trying to overthrow before, though?” Oliver asked, “Hell being ruled by someone because they were the most powerful?”
Asmodeus shrugged, “This is no longer a problem now that I am that person. And with the five of us, it is doubtful anyone will want to challenge us, or even be able to overcome us.”
“Five? What about Noah’s demon, what about Amy?” Oz asked, surprising everyone.
At it’s name being called, Amy appeared, burbling happily at apparently being remembered.
Asmodeus looked over to Amy, the amorphous gumdrop-shaped goo blob, and cleared his throat, “Amy… Amy will also join us, as an overseer.”
Oz grinned, “Good to hear.”
Oliver sighed, “We had good times, we had bad, but I’d like one last thing. Promise me you won’t mess around with humans anymore, Asmodeus.”
Asmodeus feigned hurt, “I would never–”
He saw Oliver’s eyes and shrugged, “I can’t promise you I won’t try anything, because I’m a demon and that’s what I do. I can tell you that we’ll have to spend most of our time rebuilding and restructuring for a long time though, and that should give you humans some reprieve.”
Oliver shrugged in return, “Fair enough, I guess. Couldn’t ask any more of you. Thanks for everything.”
“Don’t mention it.”
They both gave an awkward wave, and the group set off, heading out of Pandemonium, souls in hand.
As they all walked back to the portal that Dr. Perigard and Dr. Lovelady had used earlier, they noticed they were no longer alone. As they watched, in the distance demons began popping into existence.
“They must’ve been freed from their contracts and let go back into Hell.” Celeste said with slight awe.
More and more demons appeared, of all shapes and sizes. Many of them were too far away to see the group of humans, and the ones who were close enough wisely chose to ignore them.
“I can’t believe this, any of this really,” Oliver mused aloud, mostly to himself, “Who’d have though that we’d be making friends with demons? That I’d be sad to see that ass go?
“It’s been a wild ride.” Maxwell said.
“Yeah, it was a weird relationship we all had, but it’s definitely one that’s gonna be severed for a long time.” Oz added, and they all sighed.
The portal loomed before them, still angry and red, yet now inviting. It whooshed and sucked, the wind carried by it whipping up their shirts.
“Well, this it it,” Oliver yelled above the din, “Let’s all step through here and get our lost identities back!”
They instinctively took each other’s hands and stepped into the portal, feeling the rush that they did before, the loss of balance and sense of self.
This time, Oliver could feel the warmthness from the soul in his pocket increase. It got warmer and warmer, yet always remaining comfortable to him, until he felt the warmth travel inside him as his soul rejoined his body.
They landed on the floor of the gym, the school in such a state of disrepair that the sun shone through holes in the walls and ceiling. It was bright enough that they all had to look away for a moment, readjusting their eyes from the darkness in Hell.
When they could finally see again, Maxwell turned, gasping.
“Oliver! Your hair– it’s brown!”