“Raea?” Cleo asked. Raea didn’t respond. Her head was slightly tilted to one side as she stared at Madison. She slowly rose from the ground, still hugging Selena’s head to her chest. She looked down. Her eyes were staring at Selena’s eyes, but at the same time, they seemed to be out of focus. Cleo tugged on the feathers by Sally’s butt and retreated while Madison was distracted by the black flames.
“Sely,” Raea said and ran her fingers through her sister’s hair. “Sely. Sely.” Her hands glowed white, and tendrils of light snaked around Selena’s head, but nothing happened. “I didn’t mean to argue with you, Sely. I promise I’ll be good, so you have to come back, alright? You promised me you weren’t going to die anytime soon. You promised.”
Madison frowned. “Your friends are crazy, Pipapo,” she said and spread her wings. “I don’t want to stay here anymore.” She leapt into the air and flew towards the hole that Selena had opened up in the ceiling before she was ensnared.
“You can’t leave!” Raea screeched as her head shot up. Her eyes widened as she extended her right hand and made a fist like she was trying to snatch Madison out of the air. Hundreds of chains made of black fire flew out of the flames surrounding Raea’s body and surged towards Madison. Palan frowned as Cleo and Sally scrambled to hide behind him. A layer of perspiration covered his forehead from the heat of the flames.
Madison’s brow furrowed as the barriers she left on the ground disappeared. The translucent film around her body grew thicker, and she flapped her wings harder. The chains appeared in front of her, but she ignored them and flew forwards, charging through. It was like flying through hundreds of strands of spider silk. The first few chains were easy to break through, but the flames stuck to her body. Madison’s body slowed considerably by the time she reached the entrance to the hole.
Raea walked forward and placed Selena’s head by the headless body on the floor. “Don’t worry, Sely. I won’t let her get away,” she said and ran her fingers through her sister’s hair one last time. Her eyes were still out of focus when she looked towards Madison. They widened as she crouched and leapt forward, easily closing the distance between her and the demon. She landed right beneath Madison and leapt up once again, this time seizing the demon’s legs. Raea growled as Madison continued to struggle upwards through the tunnel, flapping as hard as she could. Raea planted her feet against the ceiling, and pulled Madison’s body down. “I said you can’t leave.”
Madison stopped flapping her wings and bolstered the barrier around her feet where Raea’s hands were grabbing. Both of them fell to the floor. Black flames blossomed around their bodies, turning the dirt floor into a red liquid. “Let go, you ugly whore!” Madison screeched as she squirmed. Black flames still clung to her torso, steadily eating away at her barrier. She pressed her beak together and narrowed her eyes. The barrier around her arms disappeared while the barrier around her legs widened so much that Raea couldn’t keep her grip on them. Madison screeched as her arms started to burn, but she ignored the pain and leapt into the air, heading for the exit once again.
“This is Raea?” Cleo asked with wide eyes. Parts of Raea’s arms were sloughing off where Madison had reflected the flames. Raea’s teeth were bared, and her serpentine eyes seemed to be glowing. Her black scales seemed to shine due to the flames, becoming the most noticeable part of her naked body. “Why does she look so … Palan-like?” Cleo turned to look at Palan who hunched over and fell to his knees while clutching his chest. “What’s wrong!?”
Raea’s hand started to glow with a black light, reminiscent of Palan’s powers. She raised her hand and pointed at Madison who was halfway through the tunnel. A black light encircled her body, and she halted mid-flight. Her wings still flapped, but she was steadily sinking towards the floor. Her arms were like lead, and the black flames continued to eat away at her barrier. Her shoulders were soon exposed, and they too became heavier.
A voice shouted something from above the tunnel, but it was drowned by the roaring of the flames. Madison screeched as her wings stopped flapping and plummeted to the floor covered by a black light and black flames. Her feathers seemed to be protected by something, but the rest of her body wasn’t. Her skin turned red and started to blister and split. She rolled around on the floor, trying to put out the flames, but it was useless. Her body collided against something and stopped moving. Madison saw Raea staring down at her. The angel’s shins were being burned, but she didn’t seem to mind. Her eyes were glazed over as she watched the skin fall off of Madison’s body.
“Palan,” Madison said, her voice hoarse. She tilted her head to the side to look at Palan who was still kneeling on the ground while panting. “Save me.” She extended her hand towards Palan. There was barely any flesh left on her arms, but she still managed to move it. The flames surrounding her body burned brighter, illuminating the cave with a blood-red light. Madison’s eyes widened as she realized she still had Solra’s orb hanging by her belt. She grabbed it and poured the remaining bits of her mana into it. The flames in her immediate surroundings flickered and roared before being extinguished. If she remembered she had it earlier, then maybe she wouldn’t be in this situation, but it was too late to regret it. Her breaths slowed as her eyes closed.
Raea stood above Madison’s body, unmoving. Her body seemed to be moving on its own as she knelt down beside the demon. Hundreds of blisters covered Raea’s body, but she didn’t care. Her hand moved along Madison’s body until it stopped on her chest. There was no heartbeat. Raea stood up and shambled over to Selena’s side. “I did it, Sely,” she whispered. “You can come back now.” Her hands glowed with a white light as she picked up Selena’s head and placed it where it should’ve been. Tendrils of white light snaked out of her fingers and reconnected Selena’s head to her torso. “It’s over, Sely. You can wake up.” Raea smiled. “You can wake up now. There’s no more danger.” She lifted Selena’s body and placed her sister’s head on her lap. Raea ran her fingers through Selena’s hair. A tear fell, dropping onto Selena’s eye, and slid down the side of her face. It looked like she was crying.