Despite the flames that roared outside the tower’s window, the stone floor of Illyana’s chamber was cold against her skin. She sat stiffly against a wall, her legs crossed with a battered old tome spread open atop them. She turned the pages carefully as her eyes poured over every rune on the page, taking it all in. Normally an eight-year-old girl like herself would spend her time running around in the open fields, enjoying her childhood. However, Illyana wasn’t a normal eight-year-old girl anymore. Now she was bound to Limbo. Daughter to Master
Outside of her training with Master
, Illyana rarely had any time for herself, and as such decided to make the most of it. Knowledge was power here. And power meant escape.
Sudden banging on her door shook Illyana out of her thoughts. She barely had enough time to hurry the book behind her back before the door was kicked open and a fiery presence filled the doorframe. A smirk spread across S’ym’s face as he stepped into the room, his snakelike eyes piercing Illyana like a pair of daggers as she scrambled to her feet. His hulking figure was flanked by his two brothers; Rath and Ghast, who were equally as terrifying with their horned heads and clawed fangs. The three demons surrounded the girl, who clung to the wall behind her as if her life depended on it. Because in her eyes, her life really did depend on it.
“Boss wants you downstairs for dinner.
” Rath growled, flashing his teeth as he circled around the side of the room.
“We’s wouldn’t keep him waiting.
” Ghast continued. He mirrored Rath’s movements as he did so.
Illyana stayed silent, her head pointed down towards the floor. She could feel the goosebumps rising across her arms. Moving at a snail's pace she nodded, before finally moving forwards towards the door, hoping to avoid any more of their torment. However, before she had even got halfway, she felt a scaly hand grab the back of his dress and fling her backward, back towards the wall.
“What’s this you have here Poppet?
Her screams were meaningless as S’ym wrestled her against the wall, pinning her against it with her hand above her head. His spare hand reached down to the book, and he plucked it from her grasp. Her wails were merely met with laughter from the two brothers who quickly closed in on their prey.
Dropping Illyana as if she were a simple plaything, he turned his attention to the book in his hands and scanned the cover. His eyes widened in surprise slightly, however they soon returned to their regular shade of yellow, as he eyed where she lay crying on the ground.
” He clicked his tongue, before crouching down to get closer to her. “My, my. Someone’s been a naughty girlie.
She scrambled to get away from him as he grew closer, tears streaming down her face. He continued, leering towards her.
” She managed, her eyes snapping shut reactively as he swiped his claws towards her.
Illyana’s eyes stayed glued to the decapitated body before her, her mind unable to take it in fully. She felt like she’d been stood there for hours, just staring silently. In time she finally raised her head back up to see her old captor’s. The Demon’s Three looked exactly how they had back in Limbo. Rath and Ghast continued to laugh and sneer. It’s what they always did. It was all they were good for. Just pawns to S’ym and his violence. It was as if she’d never left.
S’ym was speaking again. Mostly likely making some threat towards her. She just continued to shut it out, her shaking in fear. It was just like the tower before. Just like every other time they found her alone in Limbo. And just like before she felt herself go numb. She felt the oh so familiar feeling of goosebumps rising across her arms.
The trio stopped their laughter and began to advance. S’ym moved triumphantly, twirling the axe in his hands, the blade of which still dripping with cricket blood.
But before she found herself overwhelmed once more by their violence, another sound rang out around the old English pub. This one she heard.
Ragman leaped through the air, his green cloak billowing out behind him. He collided abruptly with S’ym midair, pushing him down to the ground. Acting quickly, Ragman wrapped his arms around the demon in an attempt to pin him down. His head shot upwards as he did so, locking eyes with Magik, whose look of fear had now merged into a look of confusion and surprise.
“Get out of here!
” He cried.
He was trying to sound brave. To sound as if he had all of this under control. But she could easily see that in this instance he was just as afraid as she was. Even the strength given to him by the souls in his suit didn’t seem to be enough, as S’ym struggled to his feet, overpowering the green-clad vigilante grappling him. Rath and Ghast had turned on him too now. He was a goner.
Temptation filled Illyana’s mind as she watched her friend wrestle her tormentor. She wanted to run. To escape from this place and return to the Sanctum Santorum where she’d be safe. To return to the farm. To Piotr. It would be so much easier.
She could go back to hiding. Go back to being a monster.
The word stung as it crossed her mind. Monster. It was a word she’d been using to describe herself her whole life. It was a word that just moments ago she was telling a talking cricket that she wasn’t. He was right. She wasn’t a monster. She had to be different. She had to be Magik.
The word came of her mouth in a fury, as the young magician darted forward towards the demons. She pivoted to the left of the group, rearing up on Rath, who had turned in confusion at the sound of defiance. She swung her arms towards him, willing her Soul Staff into existence with a flash of light. The staff struck hard, clobbering the beast across the face, and knocking him back and through the bar. Wood and shrapnel ricocheted outwards as Rath broke through it, causing a shelf of alcohol to collapse and rain glass and booze all over him.
That was one.
In one swift move, she turned, now facing Ghast. Witnessing her attack on her brother, he snarled animalistically before pouncing forward like a wild dog. Her eyes whitened, and with a raise of her arms, an aurora of lights flashed in front of her blindingly. The fireworks erupted further once Ghast made contact, and as if shot from a cannon, was launched high into the air. Before finding himself hitting the ceiling, Magik had moved her arms once more, generating a stepping disc above him. He vanished as he hit it, his screams disappearing immediately.
That was two.
Now for the main event.
The fight being Ragman and S’ym wasn’t going as well. The demon swung wildly at the man clambering on his shoulders, and within seconds, his great red hand was wrapped tightly around the tip of Rory’s cape. He pulled angrily, ripping the hero from his body, before slamming him into the floor. A loud crack could be heard as Ragman hit the ground, the bones in his arm breaking. Without breaking a sweat, S’ym flexed his muscles slightly before raising his axe into the air, before bringing it down on the body before him.Clangggg.
The axe blade struck against the obsidian staff, sending sparks flying as its momentum vanished. Illyana stood before him, holding her staff up as if it were a shield, protecting the body of her friend below her. She stood strong, a scowl across her face, her blond bangs now a mess. Her breath was heavy, however, this was out of anger rather than tiredness.
“Oh, this is more like it.” S’ym leered down towards Magik, licking his crimson lips. “This is the girlie S’ym remembers.”
Illyana simply roared and began her attack. She kicked forward, implanting her boot into his knee, buckling him slightly. She followed through with a swing from her staff, only to find it blocked by a thrust of his axe. She moved away once more, darting to the side in an attempt to strike once more. But S’ym was ready for her now. His blows were fierce, fueled by the hatred of Limbo. He swings seemed wild in nature, but each one was calculated. Each one was deadly. Yet Magik defended against each strike, her own rage building each time the axe hit the metal of her staff.
She somersaulted backward to dodge a strike of his blade. As she moved through the air, a flick of her wrist generated a stepping disc beneath, teleporting her out of the way as another swing nearly decapitated her. Appearing behind him she took a swipe at his skull. She was striking to kill now. Not maim. She was tired of fighting. Tired of him living.
He was too quick. He ducked, before swiping himself with his spare arm at his cut, his claws cutting through the front of her shirt. Before they tore at her skin however, she spun out of harm's way, striker herself. Once again the weapons collided with a piercing clink.
“I can do this all day Poppet.
” He hissed, before charging forward towards her.
She smiled. Big mistakes.
She opened a disc before him, and before the behemoth could stop he tumbled through, flailing wildly. He appeared in the end to her right, exactly when she wanted him. Her staff struck him across the chest, sending him crashing into the ground. And then she was atop him.
With the butt of her staff, she thrust downwards, smashing the bones in his hand, causing his axe to fall to his side with a thud. The demon let out a violent howl that echoed around them as he thrust about where he lay in an attempt to escape.
" She roared, pressing down hard. "Why are you here?
His cries grew louder. But they weren’t loud enough. She wanted to hear him cry. She wanted to see him bleed. See him suffer.
But then the sound of his pain ceased, as S’ym let out a croaking sound, which after a few seconds transformed into a painful laugh.
“S’ym didn’t kill you when you were small, Poppet because our master protected you.
” His voice growled on through the pain, yet as he went on he seemed to regain his strength.
“Now that protection is over. Belasco has a new pet to play with. And now S’ym thinks you’re fair game.
The comment caused her to freeze, her mind attempting to race to an understanding. He had to be wrong. He had to be lying.
S’ym smiled, knowing the damage was done. Acting while she was distracted, he darted up, pushing her off him with a single swing of his arm. He struggled to his feet, as Illyana caught her balance.
“Should’ve killed me when you had the chance.
” He jeered, limping forwards towards her.
It took everything Illyana had to keep her focused. Her mind was screaming a multitude of questions. And on top of that, she still had S’ym to deal with. Anger still edged on her, however now the pain was back. And the fear.
” She managed, locking eyes with S’ym while tightening her hands around her staff. “However there’s been enough bloodshed today.
And with that, she crossed her arms before her. S’ym shouted in protest as a stepping disc materialized once more at his feet. Before he could even attempt an escape he was gone. The bar grew silent immediately in his absence. Her eyes wandered the room as she took everything in. The patrons had vanished, having escaped from the carnage shortly after the demons had arrived. Now all that was left was the dissected body of the Canterbury Cricket, an unconscious demon amongst the remains of what was once the bar, and Ragman slumped against a wall, clutching his arm.
And down in Limbo, Belasco was currently busy torturing a new soul.
Everything was fucked.
Illyana fell to her knees and wept.