Palan made a face. “Sure. You’re beautiful,” he said to Madison. He gestured towards his four companions. “They’re hideous.” He stopped speaking.
“Is that it?” Madison asked and pointed at Sally with her translucent sword. “This little harpy praised me much much more. Tell me how amazing I am. Compare me to the suns and moons. Explain to me how flowers are just cow dung in my presence. Tell me how much stronger and more pretty I am than each and every one of you including yourself.” Madison smiled and looked up at the farm’s ceiling as if she was envisioning the words already. She blinked and looked at Sally. “Oh, and don’t forget to prostrate yourself like her.”
Palan stayed silent and Madison’s expression grew cold. Cleo spoke up. “Are you really debating whether or not it’s better to die than to kneel?” she asked, practically shouting at Palan. She cleared her throat and dashed next to Sally, prostrating herself as well. “O great four-winged demon person. Your eyes shine brighter than the night sky filled with stars. Your talons are sharper than a wisdom archangel’s wit. The feathers on your wings are fuller than a fat pig the day before the annual harvest. Even … uh … yeah, that’s all I got.”
Madison nodded. “You’re not bad as well,” she said and pet Cleo’s head with her feet. Cleo gulped. Palan was going to be so mad at her. But at least she’d die later, right? A rumbling sound drew everyone’s attention to Selena and Raea.
Selena used her powers to create a hole in the ceiling leading back to the surface. The ground beneath her and Raea began to rise upwards on a column of earth, rushing towards the opening. Madison frowned and made a throwing motion with her sword towards the two angels. The sword’s blade extended and opened up into a translucent web that ensnared both of them and halted the movement of the column. Madison tugged on the hilt, causing Raea and Selena to fly towards her. Palan rushed at Madison, but she retreated backwards once again, summoning translucent walls to slow him down. Although he could use the power of greed, it wasn’t very strong, and he took a while to tear apart a barrier.
“Why don’t you just kneel and admit you were wrong?” Madison asked Palan. “Everyone already knows I’m the most beautiful woman who has ever existed and will ever exist. It’s not wrong to acknowledge the truth. Just apologize for lying to me.”
“He’s a pride demon,” Raea said. She and Selena were suspended in the air next to Madison, held up by translucent wires attached to the hilt in the demon’s hand. “He knows you are more beautiful than us, but he doesn’t want to admit that he was wrong. Isn’t that enough?”
“No,” Madison said and slammed Raea towards the ground. “I don’t care if he’s a pride demon. I am more important than his pride.” She frowned and narrowed her eyes as she gazed at the two angels beside her. “You’re deformed. He can’t be talking about you.” She tossed Raea aside into a nearby wall. The cave shook and dirt fell from the ceiling. She grabbed Selena’s hair and pulled her towards the ground. “Then it must be you.” She reformed the net into a sword and placed the blade by Selena’s neck.
“Stop!” Raea shouted. Her voice was strained as she scrambled to her feet. She tried to run at Madison, but the demon created barriers between them.
“Pi. Pa. Po,” Madison said and pressed the blade against Selena’s throat, drawing blood. “I’ve been really nice to you. I helped you evolve, didn’t I? Why are you so mean to me? I’ll give you one more chance to apologize and admit your wrongs.”
Palan hesitated and stopped ripping apart the barrier that was in front of him. Should he apologize? He never sincerely apologized to anyone—everyone was forced to apologize to him. The only person he ever apologized to was his sister when he didn’t bring home enough food for her to feel full. He swore he’d never lower himself to another person after his mom died. He didn’t want to feel so weak and powerless ever again. The only exception was his sister because … well, she was his reason for living. She was the savior that killed his mother. She was the first person he ever felt love for. If he lowered himself now, he’d increase his chances of meeting her again. Hadn’t he lowered himself once to Raea? But at the same time, he already broke his promise to himself once. What kind of pride demon would he be if he broke it again?
Raea screamed as Madison’s arm jerked backwards while Palan was hesitating. “Too slow,” Madison said and sighed as a red line appeared on Selena’s neck. “I already knew it was pointless to take a hostage against a demon. I just wanted to see if I was right.” Selena’s eyes blinked and her mouth opened, but no words came out. A moment later, her body fell to the floor, but her head stayed in the same place, held up by Madison’s hand. Blood poured and stained the earth black. She smirked and looked at Raea, who was still screaming, and tossed Selena’s head towards her. It bounced on the floor before rolling and coming to a stop in front of Raea. Cleo and Sally stared in shock at Selena’s headless body. It wasn’t the first time they saw someone die, but it was a lot more different to see a stranger die than someone they’ve bantered with and eaten meals with.
Madison ignored the cries of “Sely!” coming from Raea and brushed some blood drops off of her feathered legs. She smiled at Palan who had a dark look on his face. He had begun tearing the barrier apart again right after Madison said the words “too slow”. Madison summoned another barrier after Palan finished tearing the one in front of him down. “Didn’t I offer to help you evolve to an archdemon to make yourself prettier?” she asked. “Well, I’m helping you now, aren’t I? The road to becoming an archdemon is a solitary one. How intimidating can a demon be if there’s a gaggle of girls following after him?”
“Why?” Palan asked.
“Why what?” Madison asked back and tilted her head. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter for what. It’s because I can and I want to. Isn’t that a good enough reason for anything I do?”
Before Palan could speak, a soft voice spoke from behind Madison. “I’ll kill you.”
Madison turned her head and saw black flames sticking onto the barrier separating her from Raea. The barrier was slowly melting, and the flames continuously poured out of Raea’s body, burning her clothes to ashes, melting her armor to puddles of liquid on the floor. The earth around Raea began to bubble and turn red. The only thing that remained untouched by the heat and flames was Selena’s head that Raea was cradling to her chest.
Madison frowned. “I think I killed the wrong person,” she said.