Artemis, Denise, and the other two gathered by the doorway, watching Grim and Boogey tumble down the stairs.
"Whoa." Denise muttered. "Look at them go."
Mandy stepped outside first, watching the two crash and tear into each other. She just enjoyed the fight like it was on TV.
"Should we do something?" Denise asked, a nagging urge tugging at her cords, yearning to go out there.
Artemis clapped a hand on Denise's shoulder. "This is their fight." She looked from her to Grim and Boogey. She was more focused on Grim. She couldn't believe Grim was doing all this for her. In her heart, she knew he would do anything and everything for her. But she didn't know he would go to such lengths.
At the bridge, Boogey and Grim wrestled each other like they were middle schoolers again. They fell down the stone stairs until they landed on the hard concrete ground. Boogey tried to make a run for it, but Grim was too quick for him. The two just tore into each other like rabid dogs.
Boogey's powers were weakened back at the castle, but at least he still had his strength.
"Admit it, this is just a sick, twisted love story!" Boogey shouted, his fingers clenching Grim's arms. The reaper only felt hatred.
Now that he had right where he wanted him it was time he do what he always wanted. He punched him in the face, hoping to knock out one of his teeth. Grim got on his feet and threw him like he was a ragdoll. His red aura glowed with his fury as he walked over to him, glaring daggers at the boogeyman. Boogey crawled away, keeping his eyes on the reaper.
"Hey, hey," he stammered, "come one, Grim, old buddy, old pal." He tried to force a smile on his face, but it just looked like he was holding it together with stitches. "Come on, buddy, old pal of mine. Now, come on." Sweat beaded his brow. "Do you really want to do this?" He was sounding more bold than before.
All of a sudden Grim was becoming curious. What was he doing? He had to stop Boogey!
Fire erupted from his fists, ready to char him.
"Wait!" Boogey raised his arms, signaling for peace. Grim's fire extinguished, but his aura never faded. He listened to what Boogey had to say. "Why even come all this way to save Athena? I mean, she's a weakling! She's always holding you back. Why should you care when she's always a burden on you and your friends?"
Grim's anger eased. What Boogey said was getting to him. He wasn't going to let his tricks fool him again.
"You can finally be free of her." Boogey continue as he stood on his feet. "No more constantly looking over your shoulder to see if she's still there. Wouldn't that be great? And Billy and Mandy? You can chuck them out of this existence if you wanted. Just imagine what it'll be when they're gone."
His words seeped into his skull, but Grim wasn't about to succumb to his tricks. With all his energy radiating like this he knew he would tire himself out. He loosened his fists a bit, telling himself to go easy on the bugger. He was about to speak when an invisible blow knocked him off his feet. No, flying. He was flying past the bridge and the way back to the castle. Grim could hear the voices of his friends as he collided.
"Incoming!" went Denise's voice.
"Duck!" Mandy yelled.
"A duck! Where?" Billy's voice said.
He only caught glimpses of them ducking. Grim crashed on the hard stone floor. His skull felt like it was made of lead, he could barely lift it to see his friends all gather around him. He could manage to see, though his vision was blurring, and unconsciousness sank its claws deep into his skull. He regained his senses and he saw clearly now. Artemis was standing over him, along with Billy, Mandy, and Denise. It took Grim seconds to notice his aura was gone. He worked himself too much and too soon.
He saw Boogey fly into the castle. He look downright full of himself. Conniving. Narcissistic. All the things he hated about him. He was going to end him even without his full powers. But he could work himself into a blinding rage again...
"So, Grim, are you ready to surrender?" Boogey questioned, one eyebrow raised and his smile plastered. "Ready to admit you're hopelessly in love?"
"Wait." Mandy blurted. "This is all about some love story?"
Everyone looked from Grim to Boogey and back again. Artemis mainly focused on Grim. She always knew something was happening between them, but she never imagined it would ever turn into something like this. These were the times when everything was imploding and he whole world was crashing on her.
"It may be a love story, but it's Grim's love story." Boogey said, marching up to the gang. "Admit it, Grim."
The reaper looked at Artemis. She was feeling the same knot he was feeling. That knot that twisted your insides and toyed with your heart.
"Alright," Grim said. Time for the hard part. "This is my castle."
"Wait," Denise uttered. "So...if this is your castle, then..."
"Yeah, I'm ruler of the Underworld." Grim spat back.
"Hold on," Mandy interjected. "So you mean to tell me that this is Grim's castle, and he never told us?"
"That's right." Boogey shot back. "Ever wonder why?"
There was a long, awkward silence after that.
"Well, I'm here now, and here to take back what's mine." Grim thundered. He summoned his scythe to his hand. It glowed red once he grasped it, infusing it with the deadly power he never used.
"As am I." Boogey's hands cracked with blue sparks.
Boogey was the first to throw the first blow. His blue sparks shot through the air, intended for Grim, but he moved out of the way. The reaper sent a red beam heading straight for him. It grazed Boogey on the upper arm, but he managed to duck and then he leaped into the air, flying without the need for wings. Grim took to the air and flew after him.
"So this is what you're after?" Grim hollered. "To expose me? To humiliate me? Cause you've already done that back in high school."
"Aw, well, this is different." Boogey replied.
"What's the point of all this?" Grim ascended higher. "You humiliated me all you wanted and now you're just throwing a tantrum for nothing."
Boogey shot him a side look. "Maybe, but at least I know I can win."
There was more silence between them. The gang down below watched them, waiting, wondering what was going to happen next. Seconds passed and it seemed like a thousand would pass and neither of them would notice it.
Boogey shot blue sparks at Grim, catching him off guard, dropping his scythe. As Grim plummeted, the boogeyman grabbed his scythe. The reaper crashed and it felt like one of those beating Mandy gave him. His vision warped between blur and clear. Boogey's form flickered in and out, as he descended majestically like a hawk.
"I've got your scythe. I've got your castle." Boogey surveyed the hall, taking note of every single thing and person in sight. "You cost me a queen to crown, but I don't need her anymore. She was weak anyways." He strode over to the throne. "No matter, I will keep you all as my slaves." He cast a sly look to Artemis. "At least you and the reaper will have each other."
The goth woman sent him a pointed glare as he walked past her.
Grim searched for room nothing in particular. All of Boogey's minions were dead. The ones that survived were probably too weak to come back and defend their master. That centaur girl probably broke her legs when Mandy kicked her out the window. His eye sockets spotted the box. The box with the crown in it! How could he have forgotten about it? The reaper crawled, trying not to make any noise. He grabbed the box once it was in his reach, opening it and gazing at the golden wonder.
The Crown of Achylis. It'd been years since he heard the stories of the legendary Queen. He always listened to the stories his parents told him when he was younger. He always wanted to find it and keep it for his collection. Looking at it now brought back all those nostalgic times of wanting to find the Crown. He could take it right now, but taking it..wouldn't solve anything. He picked it from its cushion. It looked everything as dazzling as he imagined. Gold, black diamonds. And when the Queen passed, she infused her powers into the Crown to await a worthy heir. Someone like—
Grim stood up.
Boogey stopped in his tracks. He looked over his shoulder, his grin still on his face.
"You were right," the reaper said, "you were right to call me out like that." He looked at the Crown in his hands and then at him. "But you know, wouldn't you say you have secrets too?"
This time Boogey turned around. Something in him told him to escape, but he was too afraid. He knew this was really the end. He couldn't even move when Grim walked towards him.
"'Cause I know why you took Athena. You were obsessed with her. Every day since the day your memories were restored. You couldn't get her out of yer head!"
"Now, now, Grim, l-l-let's not get in over our heads now." Boogey sputtered, his voice full of fear. He held up the scythe, hoping he could stop him with his own weapon. But Grim only smirked and telekinetically whipped the scythe from his hand and back into his own.
"And it's no coincidence that you kidnapped Athena. Because she is special. Because she has friends who love her; something you can never have!"
All eyes were on Boogey. Denise. Artemis. Mandy. And Billy. There was no escaping it. He was humiliated ten times worse than that the at the race. He was standing alone with no minions to defend him. They were all gone. Everyone was gone.
"So, why don't I give you that moment to shine?" Grim was already so close that Boogey didn't even notice him.
"Wait, what are you—"
The skeleton placed the Crown on his head. The moment it touched his head was when it all started. The Crown became fused to his head; Boogey did everything to get it off. Next that happened was the black veins striping every inch of his skin. Then the whites of his eyes reddened like blood had been injected into his eyes.
Grim backed away and he told the others to do the same. This next part was only the beginning. The screaming only added to the process and the searing pain. Boogey clawed at the floor. Black liquid poured out of his mouth. He rolled over on his back, convulsing, arms thrashing, the black vile streaming out of his mouth. Grim saw red blood seep out of Boogey's eyes. Something told him this was the middle stage or the end. Either way, Grim shuffled back more, and his friends did the same. They hid behind the columns as the next stage happened.
Thick black smoke bursted, followed by red light. The last thing they heard was Boogey screaming. The smoke cleared away. The only thing they saw was the gold crown surrounding in a black soot ring. That was the end of Boogey. It was over.
Mandy was the first to emerge and walk up toward the Crown. Curious, she bent over to pick it up when Grim's scythe cracked its surface. She looked over her shoulder at the reaper who had a new dark loom over him. He cracked it with the scythe again, black diamond spilling everywhere. Grim knew this would happen, and he would ensure this would never happen again.
A hand clasped his shoulder and Grim didn't need to turn around to know it was Artemis. She knew very well that destroying that Crown was for the best.
"It's over." Denise said. "It's really over." She looked around the hall, from the ceiling to the empty throne. "Now what?"
Athena. He almost forgot about her in the midst of this aftermath. Time to find her.
"I know my castle inside and out." Grim said. "If I know Boogey, he must've locked her up."
"Yeah, but where?" Denise asked.
That was what they needed to know. And now.
"We'll search for the room he locked her in and start from there." the reaper instructed. "Let's get a move on before things get dangerous."
So they took off, thumping up a set of stairs. They headed left and kept going straight until they reached a fork. Left, right. Which way should they go? Grim decided on the left and the gang headed there until they made a right—stopping altogether. There was blood splattered all over the wall and the floor. It came from an open room. They huddled closer and approached it slowly. Upon closer inspection the blood belonged to the three bodies of a satyr, a gargoyle, and a goat imp. Their blood reflected the candlelight.
"What happened to them?" Mandy inquired.
The reaper looked from the bodies to the room—that's when he noticed the open window and the rope of sheets. He walked inside, wondering. Athena saved herself for the first time since he met her. He was proud of her, but also worried. He looked out the window, scanning the dark forest beyond the castle grounds. From where he was standing, Athena could be anywhere, but after he got to know her, he trained himself to think like her and know her motives.
The gang behind him gathered around the window, looking at the forest as well.
Artemis looked at the makeshift rope. Deep down she was proud of her daughter managing to save herself, but she also needed to know that she alright.
"Let's go." Grim quoth, swooping out the window. The rest had to climb out the window via rope. Once they were all out, the search commenced.
There were no surging guards, and if there were, they were probably too worn out to do anything anymore. Grim flew the rest of the way, assuring them that he could keep track this way. The gang exited through the archway, heading into the unknown.