A group of knights entered the room where a fierce battle had just taken place, though neither contestant remained. Aside from the gashes and scorch marks, adorning the walls and floor, the only evidence that anyone had even been here were a few pieces of scattered armour and a sword seemingly stuck halfway into the ground as if to mark a makeshift grave. The sword looked positively alien in design, large and green in a shape that seemed unconducive for a weapon designed for cutting, with edges much too thick to actually cut anything.
While his companions secured the area and searched elsewhere, the leader of the expedition approached the sword and slowly circled the weapon, taking in every inch of the unearthly design and scribbling down notes, utterly enthralled by the discovery.
"Fascinating. How truly... f-f-f-fascinating."
He reached out with one leather glove-clad hand and touched the hilt lightly, causing a deep crack to form and run down the length of the blade before the entire weapon caved in like shattered pottery. Although the weapon's sudden collapse was interesting, if a little unexpected, what the scientist found even more interesting was what lay within the shattered remains.
"Ah, here it is." The man's smirk grew wider and he gently and delicately held the item in both hands and lifted it up for a closer look. It was the white hilt of an eastern-style sword, with roughly half the blade missing, evidently broken off in the fight, perhaps by another sword. He ordered his men to search for more such pieces and the result was swift. Another piece, which seemed to be the dull tip, was found nearby and opened up to find the tip of the real prize.
Once a few more smaller pieces were found, the entire blade could be put back together like a jigsaw puzzle with all of its pieces accounted for, though they naturally would not stay in place. Regardless, the mission was a success and this place would likely be destroyed soon if the other Son of Sparda had indeed come to slay the Demon King as His Holiness had predicted. The scientist ordered his men to pull out and return to the boat, an order they quickly obeyed.
Upon escaping the island and its impressive blast radius, the man used the boat's radio to send out a broadcast message back to Fortuna. Once the signal was received, the receiver on the other end was handed over to His Holiness, who had apparently been awaiting word in one of the boathouses at the docks.
"Agnus. I trust you have good news to report," came the elder man's gentle voice.
"Oh, b-b-better than we could ever h-h-have imagined," Agnus stammered, barely able to contain his glee.
"Do not let your enthusiasm impede your ability to speak," His Holiness advised in an almost fatherly tone.
Agnus took a deep breath and calmed himself down, despite the incredible discovery. "We have it. We have his sword here right now, though it is unfortunately damaged."
"So long as we have the means to repair it, our grand plan may proceed." Even through the static, poor quality of the radio and His Holiness' naturally calm demeanour, Agnus could sense that the older man was just as excited as he was.
"Of course. Once I have been given adequate time to study the weapon, I am sure... But what of the blood of the Saviour?"
"In the event we cannot acquire the other brother, the boy will be ready. I am told he wishes to follow that bright young cadet, Credo, and become one of the Order's knights. Given sufficient training, I am sure he will be ready before he even reaches twenty."
"Excellent. We will be back in Fortuna within the week and my research can t-t-truly commence."
"Very well. Stay safe, Agnus."
"And you as well, Your Holiness."
Soon. Very soon, the decade-old plan could finally begin in earnest. Agnus could only imagine how they could have even begun making progress if not for that incident ten years ago…
Fortuna port was abuzz with activity. Moreso than usual. This was likely a result of returning natives and visiting tourists arriving for the upcoming festival dedicated to the town's patron, the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda. Sermons would be held, plays depicting the hero's great deeds would be performed, and trade between Fortuna and the outside world were at a record high. With so much hustle and bustle, very few noticed a small fishing vessel pulling in to dock.
By the time the ship's captain had finished mooring his vessel to the dock, his charge had already stepped off of the boat and was on his way down the docks, identity masked and weapon hidden by a simple grey cloak. The few that noticed the man as he headed toward the town saw only his steely grey-blue eyes staring ahead at his destination, and perhaps a few strands of silver hair. The man passed through the bustling streets, going largely unnoticed by the celebrating and talkative natives. His path to the Opera House was simple and swift, helped along by a number of signs pointing the way, likely arranged for tourists during the festival. As he approached, he took note of the massive black structure not far from the Opera House, a structure that could only be the legendary Hell Gate.
He arrived at his destination mere minutes after entering the town and entered the large church-like facility to find a large congregation in the middle of a mass, no doubt in tribute to the demon they worshiped as a god. The priest giving the sermon seemed a good place to begin his search for information, but it would be some time before the two would have a chance to meet face-to-face, that much was clear. The man, who was nothing if not a patient man, took the nearest empty spot on a bench and opted to wait until the end of the sermon.
As he waited, paying only the slightest attention to the words the priest was saying, the man took note of people's whispers all around him. Evidently, a few of them had noticed him and told those next to them, who had told those next to them, and so on. Why it was that they felt he seemed so out of place was a mystery, given their own hooded robes concealing their faces. Regardless, it was not long before the priest had no choice but to take notice of the people's lack of interest in his sermon and his eyes fell on the latecomer.
"I see that, despite the purpose of our festival, you are all much more interested in our newcomer than the tale of our Saviour's grand heroism. Why is it, dear guest, that you choose to disrupt our sermon at so important a time?"
With no other recourse, the man stood and walked to a spot in between the rows of benches, all eyes planted squarely upon him. He reached up with one gloved hand and unclasped his cloak, allowing it to fall to the floor at his feet the metal clasps causing an echoing clatter as they struck the solid marble floor of the cavernous hall.
The man stood tall, blue longcoat flapping slightly, as if alive and overjoyed to be free of the thick cloak that had confined it. Beneath the coat lay the man's black sleeveless turtleneck and tight leather pants, leading down to a pair of brown boots. To most, the man's attire would be enough to cause a stir, but what truly caught the eye of everyone in attendance were his spiked up silver hair and long, sheathed Japanese-style sword.
"Th-That sword," the priest stuttered as fevered whispers spread amongst the crowd. "That is the Y-Yamato."
The sword's owner looked down as he held it firmly in his hand. It was styled after the style of Japanese sword many would call a "katana", though somewhat longer like swords designed to battle cavalry forces. The sword's hilt was white as snow and the scabbard that housed the blade bore a golden ribbon tied near the guard.
"If you know of the Yamato, then you must surely know who I am and why I am here." There was a certain coldness in the man's voice that made the hairs of those around him stand on end.
"You are one of the fabled sons of the Legendary Dark Knight," the priest replied, slowly steeping down from his podium to get a better look at the man he was addressing. Despite the priest seemingly approaching his twilight years and the newcomer being no more than twenty years of age, there was a very clear and distinct level of awe and reverence in the priest's voice.
Seeing opportunity in being known as the son of the city's god, the man nodded, his steely eyes never leaving the old man before him.
"I am Vergil, eldest son of Sparda."
The hall immediately erupted with gasps and praises as the captive audience beheld the son of their saviour.
"I am Father Sacerdos," the priest responded to the other man's introduction. "On behalf of the Order of the Sword and the people of this fair city, I welcome you, son of Sparda to Fortuna, the city your father built."
"Fortuna?" Vergil repeated as he looked up from his book upon first hearing the name of the city he would soon be visiting.
"Yes, Fortuna," replied the bald man with heterochromatic eyes and a horribly scarred face. "It is said that Sparda ruled over the city in feudal times, establishing an order of knights trained to slay the hordes of the demonic realm. I must wonder if he knew his time on this earth was limited and desired a successor to continue his work..."
Vergil said nothing regarding his father's work. Although he knew it was not truly his fault, he still felt some resentment towards his father for dying and allowing his wife, the mother of his sons, to be killed.
"To this very day," Arkham continued, regardless of Vergil's silence, "the people are said to still worship Sparda. Just... like... a god." Arkham's wording was very specific and Vergil could see his intentions clearly, though he chose to feign ignorance for now.
"They worship a demon as a god?"
"So they say. Regardless of the validity of these claims, Sparda did indeed visit the area at least one time. That area houses a number of, what were they called...? Ah, yes. Hell Gates."
"You bore me with your theatrics, Arkham," Vergil warned, tightening his grip on Yamato's hilt in a subtly threatening way.
But Arkham merely smirked. "And your sword, the Yamato, is the key to this tale," he said at a very deliberate pace. "For Sparda used that very blade to destroy all but one of the four Hell Gates... and their demon guardians along with them. Only one Hell Gate is said to have survived; the massive Great Hell Gate, merely being sealed shut by Sparda's power"
"Seal? Not destroy?" That piqued Vergil's curiosity. Were these gates truly too powerful for his father to destroy. He had heard of a demon that Sparda had only sealed due to being unable to destroy it, so it was possible the same applied here.
"Indeed. Perhaps Sparda grew weak in his old age. Or perhaps, despite his change of allegiance, Sparda still felt a certain connection to his demon brethren. A feeling I'm sure you of all people can relate to."
Vergil considered his options. Clearly, Arkham was attempting to manipulate him. Indeed, their entire partnership was built on the two trying to manipulate one another as thoroughly as possible before disposing of them. Vergil knew that Arkham planned to use him, though he was unsure if Arkham knew that he knew. But the bigger question was, to what end was Arkham trying to manipulate Vergil in this particular matter? Whatever it was, Vergil was sure he would come to understand both his father and his new 'partner' better if he agreed.
"Fine. I'll go and find information on the tower. That is what you want me to find, right?"
"I see you inherited your father's keen eye in addition to his power," Arkham smirked. "I have already arranged transportation for you to get to the city. You leave first thing in the morning while I continue the preparations for our grand plan."
"You knew I would agree to go?"
"You or I. Though I suspected you would wish to see the city intact... before we welcome chaos."
Word spread quickly that the Son of Sparda had arrived in Fortuna. It was the obvious result, of course, and the people's response was equally foregone. The people of the city practically worshiped the ground he walked on and Vergil concluded that this would work more to his advantage than anything else.
The priest, Sacerdos, immediately took Vergil to the headquarters of the Order to meet its current figurehead, Solemnis. Sacerdos was apparently a former Knight Commander in the order, who had retired in his old age and become a simple priest, desiring a more quiet life. Clearly, there was more to it than that, but Vergil cared little for the motivations of an old priest and chose to let the issue drop.
The journey was a lengthy one, for which Sacerdos apologised profusely, explaining that Solemnis was in his late nineties and quite frail, and would thus be unable to make the trip to the city from the headquarters, to which Vergil feigned understanding. The path to their destination took them through the abruptly snowy mountains to Fortuna Castle, a massive structure that had been built around one of the four Hell Gates Arkham had mentioned, in order to have an immediate response in the event the remaining gate ever re-opened. It seemed that the power of the Hell Gates had forever tainted the areas around them, leading to a number of sudden and bizarre weather anomalies.
From there, they were to pass through a jungle, which had once housed another Hell Gate, before they would finally reach the headquarters. When asked why the headquarters was so far away from the city itself, Sacerdos explained that it was the site where Sparda had slain the first of the four Hell Gate guardians so many years ago. It also held a tactical advantage as the city had once fallen to the demons, but the headquarters' distance had prevented it from being overrun before a proper counterattack could be prepared, a counterattack that had ultimately won back the city, thanks in no small part to the defenders of Fortuna Castle holding the line.
Upon arriving at the castle, the two were greeted by a number of the Order's knights, all adorned in magnificent white armour and wielding swords and lances. One of the knights stepped forward, his armour different from the rest, signifying him as their commander. Sacerdos greeted the man with a bow.
"Knight Commander. What brings you here?"
"His Holiness has been informed of the situation and wishes to greet our esteemed guest in person." The Knight Commander briefly looked at Vergil, but averted his gaze so quickly that Vergil could tell his presence made the man nervous. Whatever the cause, Vergil was sure he would find out soon enough.
"Hi-His Holiness is here? In his condition?" Sacerdos' tone displayed deep concern for the man, indicating one of two things; that Sacerdos was one to worry about absolutely everything, or the Order's current figurehead was a very unwell man. Either way, it did not concern Vergil, so long as neither man interfered.
"He was adamant about coming to greet our... guest in person," the Commander explained. "Please, follow me to his chamber."
"Y-Your Holiness!" Sacerdos practically shrieked with concern upon seeing Solemnis in the bed chamber on the upper floors of the castle. "You know you should not... In your condition-"
Solemnis raised a withered hand to silence the panicking priest. "Your concern is appreciated, Sacerdos, though unwarranted. I may be far beyond my youthful years but I am not so frail that I cannot make a small trip for the convenience of our honoured visitor." Despite the old man's claims to the contrary, everything about him displayed his age, from his deeply wrinkled skin, to his thin grey hair, to his frail yet commanding voice. Vergil could quickly surmise that this man may well have been quite the commanding figure once, though one could not reach that conclusion from sight alone as the man now more resembled a corpse than any kind of warrior or leader.
"Speaking of which, you must be he," Solemnis continued as he turned his soft brown eyes on Vergil, who simply nodded. "Oh, where are my manners? My name is Solemnis. I am the current head of the Order of the Sword. I am honoured to meet you, Son of Sparda."
As the old man bowed before him, Vergil mentally rolled his eyes. This deification of his father was dreadfully embarrassing and he wanted to get this over with and get searching as soon as possible. He feigned a smile and replied.
"I thank you for your continued belief in my father's ideals. I'm sure your longevity is a result of his blessing." Vergil was certain his facade would be seen through immediately, given his lack of acting experience, but his host seemed overjoyed at his response.
"We are unworthy of such high praise, My Lord," Solemnis replied with a wide smile. "But please, you must be tired after your long journey. I have a room prepared for you within the castle. Please feel free to make use of it as you see fit."
Vergil had not really considered a place to stay up to now - a notable oversight on his part - so he took Solemnis up on his offer and followed a maid to his room.
She was a mousy little thing, face soft and black hair short, a stark contrast with Vergil's own ice-like features. Her eyes were brown and innocent. Her attire was a traditional black and white maid uniform with a surprisingly modest skirt and white stockings leading down to a pair of black high heels. She was, for all intents and purposes, cute. As a young woman - most likely not much older than twenty, if that - her serving in such an important location at such a young age implied that she had either already been serving others in this manner for years before being sent to work in the castle, or that she had been training from an even younger age in preparation. Either way, Vergil thought her life story must be a pitiful one indeed.
Vergil returned to the present as the clicking of the maid's heels on the marble floor came to a stop, leaving only an echo as she bowed and indicated towards a set of large double doors to her side. Concluding that she had been taught to not enter a room ahead of her guests, Vergil proceeded to push the two doors open simultaneously, finding himself in a surprisingly large, regal room, likely intended for the head of the Order.
To the left-hand side of the room's centre lay an elevated platform supporting a king-size bed with a large head, including curtains. Beyond the foot of the bed lay a large red carpet filling the gap between the bed and the roaring, welcoming fireplace, above which sat a large ovaline mirror overlooking the bed. The far wall was mostly taken up by a pair of large windows and a set of double doors that led outside to what seemed to Vergil in the dark of night, to be a cemetery of all things. Three of the room's four corners were decorated with various paintings of Fortuna, from a moonlit shot of Fortuna Castle, to the sunset outside the Opera House, to the massive statue of Sparda housed within the Opera House. The final corner bore two massive sets of bookshelves, filled to the brim with books that Vergil would inspect later on.
The maid entered and seemed to notice Vergil's observational motions and found the nerve to speak up. "Th-They say this room belonged to the Legendary Dark Knight when he lived in Fortuna," she explained in a shy, nervous tone. She was clearly intimidated by his presence, though not necessarily fearful for her life; more like how most people would react upon meeting a 'celebrity' they admired, which Vergil realised that in many respects, he was.
He turned back to her, false smile putting her at ease somewhat. "Thank you for your assistance. This room will do nicely."
"Th-Thank you, Master," she replied elatedly with a deep bow. "If you need anything, please do not hesitate to call upon me."
Vergil stepped forward and delicately lifted her chin with his hand until their eyes met. "I shall. But what name shall I call if I need you?"
The maid's cute face flushed at Vergil's actions and she averted her eyes. "A-Agnes, M-Master."
"Are you sure it's wise to allow the Son of Sparda full access to the castle, Your Holiness?" the Knight Commander asked Solemnis after the servants had helped the old man into bed and exited the room. "Given the Order's... unsavoury history before your election..."
Solemnis shook his head, an understanding smile formed across his lips. "I understand how you feel, Commander, but we should be completely open with Sparda and his kin in all things, even if our forbearers have made choices we would rather keep hidden."
"But, Your Holiness..." the Knight Commander sounded desperate now. "If he learns about the Order's past corruption-"
"It will be fine," Solemnis interrupted, speaking much more deliberately with more pronounced annunciation to make his tone clear. "If he truly carries Sparda's blood, he must surely also carry his just spirit. No ill will befall us, Commander, so let that be the end of it."
"I... Yes, Your Holiness."
The Commander left the room after bidding His Holiness a good night. Maybe Solemnis was right and he had nothing to worry about. It was true that the Order, in its current form, was simply a group that faithfully followed Sparda's example, so there was nothing to punish. But he feared that Solemnis' estimation was wrong. And if it was, there would be hell to pay. For everyone. It seemed that he would have to take matters into his own hands.
Vergil chose the spend a few days at the castle, where Agnes informed him a large number of books on the city's history and Sparda's alleged involvement were stored. The books in his room were mostly books about human history up until roughly two hundred years ago. It seemed his father had wanted to learn everything he could about the human world after spending so long defending it from the demons. Not much could be gleamed from this new information, though it did cast an interesting light on Sparda in Vergil's eyes, not that it mattered much any more...
The castle's library was far more useful to Vergil for his purposes, containing books on the city's founding and long history. Supposedly, Sparda had travelled to the area in search of the Hell Gates, one of many types of portal between the two worlds that the demons had been taking full advantage of.
By this time, Sparda had already amassed a large number of human followers to assist him in his grand quest. Upon sealing the Hell Gates and slaying the final guardian in the nearby Mitis Forest, Sparda founded the Order of the Sword, so named for their purpose in keeping sealed the portal Sparda had closed with his sword, Yamato. He ordered and oversaw the construction of the city around the Great Hell Gate, the castle in the mountains and the Order's headquarters in the forest, before reigning over the city for some time - some sources claimed decades while others were adamant of centuries, with one even claiming he had simply left upon completion of the city to pursue other threats, and yet another declared him to have been captured by the demon king and subjected to eternal torture in the demon world.
The vast library was situated at the entrance to the castle and was currently its primary attraction and purpose. This also made it difficult for Vergil to find some time alone with all the people wishing to pay tribute. They presented him with lavish treasures and other assorted presents, none of which interested the Son of Sparda, though he did ask Agnes to take them to his room every time to maintain appearances.
The people were one thing, but there was another obstacle that was even more irritating; there was a smaller library accessible only by the highest members of the Order elsewhere in the castle that was under constant guard by some of the order's knights. When asked, the knights guarding the area had explained that the area was cordoned off while some of the older books were being moved to a new, safer location to be preserved, and newer books were being brought in to replace them. As such, they had no choice but to suggest Vergil use the other library for his uses.
Vergil did not believe it, and Agnes secretly voiced concern as well. According to the maid, the town's history - according to a comprehensive history book she made a point of showing to Vergil - indicated that the city had existed for only a few centuries, not enough time for deterioration to be such an important issue, especially as suddenly as it had supposedly become.
Vergil concluded that something else was afoot, something that the Order did not want him to know about. Thoroughly intrigued, Vergil decided that he would have to get inside at some point. But for now, he feigned acceptance and returned to reading in the main library. He knew that, when he eventually did make his move, the Order would turn against him. While he had no doubt that he could slay any human that attacked him, it would be difficult (or perhaps just irritating) if he was under constant attack while trying to read anything he may have missed in the main library. As such, he would finish up his research in the main library until he was ready to make his move.
Eventually, Vergil did manage to find some peace and quiet within the main library while most of the castle's residents were taking part in a sermon back in the city. He had attended a few himself, at first to try and gauge what kind of resistance he would face after making his move and then simply to maintain his facade.
By now, Agnes was practically Vergil's personal assistant, seeing to his every whim and accompanying him everywhere but his bedroom, which she had not actually entered since the night of his arrival. As such, she had been given permission to not attend the sermon and stay with Vergil so long as she prayed more that night, leaving the main library host to only Vergil and Agnes.
As he glossed over a short book detailing what little of the area's pre-Sparda history had been recorded, Vergil noticed Agnes over in the corner, sitting with her own book. She had told him when first guiding him to the library, that she loved books, so much so that she wished to become chief librarian of the castle's library some day. For now though, she seemed content serving others as a maid, giving her a distinctly submissive air.
But despite that, Agnes seemed to be paying very little attention to the book in her hands. Every so often, Vergil could feel her eyes on him, watching him, intently yet briefly, averting her eyes when they met his. He pretended not to notice. The woman's actions amused him somewhat and helped alleviate the mundanity of waiting for the right moment to break into the restricted area. But the way she looked at him, her tone of voice when addressing him, her willingness to do anything and everything for him, her affection for Vergil was clear as day.
He stood suddenly, causing the startled Agnes to quickly pull her book up over her eyes and pretend not to notice. With each reverberating step Vergil took towards her, the girl nervously shook as if Vergil's steps were causing small earthquakes. She trembled as the footsteps stopped right in front of her. With one finger, he lowered the book, exposing the bright red face she would have preferred to remain hidden. Vergil smiled.
"I've seen you staring at me," he said simply.
"I, um... I..." Agnes was at a total loss for words. "S-Sorry..."
Vergil chuckled. "I don't mind. I've stolen a glance or two your way as well."
"You… You have?" Agnes tried with all her might to look away from Vergil's beautiful face, but his steely grey eyes gripped her attention tightly and refused to let go.
"The Divine Comedy," Vergil read aloud as he held up the book that Agnes' grip had slackened on at some point unknown to her. "My father's favourite."
Agnes said nothing. Her cheeks were positively on fire from the attention she was receiving, but Vergil seemed to exude an ice-like coolness that the young woman found herself more and more drawn to.
"Perhaps we could... discuss our interests somewhere a little more... private."
That word - 'private' - drew Agnes over the edge, past the point of no return. This was an invitation from the son of the legendary Dark Knight, her patron deity. She was his; mind, body and soul. She would do anything to appease him, obey any command given, anything to make him feel for her as she did for him.
Her words escaped her, but she did manage a simple nod. Vergil smiled and held out a hand for her. She reached out, hesitantly at first, but filled with confidence as she gazed into his steely, grey eyes. She took his hand, shivering slightly as their skin touched for the first time. He noticed. Of course he did. He could read her as easily as he had read the title of her book. But he did not comment. He simply tugged at her hand gently, willing her to step forth and follow him, their destination obvious.
Agnes lay panting on the king-size bed in Vergil's room. Never in her twenty-three years of life had she ever felt so energised, so... alive. She simply lay, staring up at the ceiling, as the events of the last... however long it had been, replayed itself in her mind on endless loop. She didn't know how long she lay there, lost in thought, her mind awash with visions of her perfect first time.
She snapped out of her reverie as something in the corner of her eye moved. She refocused her vision to find him there, sitting on the edge of the bed, a contemplative expression playing across his handsome features as he stared up at the brilliant silver moon casting beautiful pale light into the room through the open windows. Vergil seemed to notice her staring as he turned his head to gaze back at her.
The light struck his pale skin in just the right way to make him appear the image of a perfectly chiselled marble statue. Seeing this perfect man before her, Agnes felt rather inadequate, unworthy of bearing witness to such an awesome sight. She self-consciously pulled the bed sheets up to cover up her sensitive areas, despite how thoroughly the man had explored them already.
He chuckled at her display, which only made her feel hot and bothered again.
Vergil turned fully around to properly face Agnes. "You're wonderful, Agnes."
"N-Not as... wonderful as you..." Agnes replied, rather surprised that she had worked up the nerve to say such a thing to him.
Vergil place his hand on hers. "Ever since I arrived, everyone has seen me only as the son of Sparda - a gift from their god, to be worshiped and appeased at all times. But you? You saw something else within me that no one else ever has."
Agnes pulled the sheets up past her button nose to hide her embarrassment.
"You are so unlike any other human I have ever met, Agnes. Which is why I feel that I can share anything with you. And you with me."
Agnes lowered the covers a little and stuttered, "O-Of course. I swear to keep the strictest confidence with you, Master."
Vergil squeezed her hand a little, seemingly made nervous by what he was about to divulge. "You know that my father passed away when I was young, yes?"
Agnes' embarrassment melted away to give way to sympathy as she sat up and inched closer. "Yes. A pair of priests reported as much shortly after... after the demons..."
"I see. I was visiting his grave alone when the demons attacked. I managed to fight some of them off and escape but my mother… I remember precious little of my father. I barely remember what he looked like. Which is why I came here. There is information I was hoping to acquire from the library, but it seems to be locked in the restricted area, which I have not been granted access to."
Agnes wiped her eyes before Vergil could see her tears. His story was so very sad. She herself had been orphaned at too young an age to remember her own parents. She understood what it was to be made to go through life without knowing her parents. She felt compelled to help him get a hold of the information he sought.
"Well, there... is another way in," Agnes said, barely above a whisper, a part of herself strangely hoping he wouldn't hear her. But he did. He turned back to her, an enquiring expression presented to her, urging her to continue. "There is... a secret door that leads to the library. Behind one of the mirrors in the large hallway that runs the length of the castle's northern half. It leads to a spiral staircase up to a secret door inside the restricted library."
"I think I know the mirror you speak of," Vergil replied contemplatively. "The one near one of the entrances to the dining room."
"Yes, that one," Agnes confirmed. "I'm sure if you go through that way and stay quiet inside, they'll never know you were there."
Vergil smiled and stroked Agnes' cheek with the back of his hand. "You are very kind to help me like this."
Her cheek warmed up immensely to his touch. "I-I'm only doing what..." She trailed off, mind going blank as Vergil leaned in and kissed her. As he pulled away, Agnes averted her eyes and let out a tiny giggle. "You're worth it," she said simply.
Within half an hour, the two were well on their way towards the secret entrance, he fully dressed aside from his coat, and she dressed in her uniform but leaving her shoes behind to make less noise. There were two paths they could take: the first was through the Soldier's Graveyard and the main courtyard into the hall that ran the full outer length of the castle, the second was through two long corridors leading onto the same path, only further away from their ultimate destination. Agnes had suggested the latter as they would be much less likely to be seen than if they took the former route. Vergil took her word for it and agreed. He brought with him his sword, a keepsake of his father that he never let out of his sight, even as the two were...
As they walked along what the residents of the castle had nicknamed "the large hall" for its sheer length, Agnes pondered what exactly Vergil was looking for and for what reason the Order could be trying to hide it. Whatever the reason, she was sure she would get the answers to both of her questions once they were inside.
After ducking into the dining room to avoid a patrolling Order member, Agnes lead Vergil back into the large hall and down towards what appeared to be a dead end at the hall's south-eastern end. She turned to look at the massive mirror hung on the wall to their left. It was large enough to reach both the floor and ceiling of the Master's Chamber, though it was elevated roughly two metres above the ground here to be in the centre of the wall, or rather to hide the path they sought.
"This is it," she informed him. She gripped the lower right-hand corner of the mirror's intricate golden frame and pushed to the left, exposing a large gap behind it. Vergil hopped up into the gap as if he were merely stepping up to a curb. He rested his still-sheathed sword against the interior wall before easily holding the mirror in place with one hand - a task Agnes struggled at with both - and held out his other hand to help pull her into the passage. Though 'passage' was perhaps a generous word; it was closer to a broom closet in size and was merely there to house a pair of double doors for them to pass through. 'Alcove' would be a more accurate description, though an alcove that was needlessly difficult to actually gain access to.
"You make it look so easy," Agnes gasped as she gained her footing inside the alcove.
"Maybe you just make it look difficult," Vergil responded teasingly.
Agnes felt annoyed, yet also strangely happy about the banter they shared. She knew Vergil was being facetious. Maybe that was just his was of cheering her up. Either way, she pushed open the double doors as Vergil released the mirror and retrieved his sword.
This was it.
The doors opened to a spiral staircase leading upwards. Agnes led Vergil up the staircase, walking up a good few floors before reaching the top: a small, octagonal room with a bookcase in every second wall. The books looked untouched; suggesting that the Order was indeed trying to cover up their true motives, thought Agnes would need to see the rest of the library first before she could make that call.
She approached the bookshelf directly before them and ran a finger along the spines, looking for the secret door switch. Her finger found one not bound in leather, but instead a fine mahogany. She pulled it, leaving it sticking out diagonally and revealing the mechanism beneath that caused the shelf to slide to the side and expose the real library.
She noticed Vergil watching her curiously, so she explained, "The head maid showed me. In case of a demon attack where the exits aren't safe."
Vergil simply nodded and stepped across the threshold onto the marble floor of the room. It was very large, consisting of two massive floors and eight large bookshelves that curved outwards; two on either side of the door they had entered from, two stacked atop those on the upper floor, and the mirror image on the opposite side of the room. To the right was a small door leading outside, if the windows above were any indication.
The walls were either beige or white, impossible to tell in the low lighting which, aside from the moonlight shining in through the high windows, emanated only from candelabra mounted to each pair of pillars around the ground floor bookcases, with an additional pair on each wall of the upper floor and an extra three on the ground floor.
"Wow," Agnes uttered in awe. "I've never actually been inside this room before."
"It doesn't look all that special," Vergil replied.
"Maybe not the room itself, but the kind of things that must be contained within these books... It's like... nothing I've ever felt before." Agnes noticed Vergil running a finger across the spines of a few books and asked, "What exactly are you looking for? I-If you don't mind my asking."
Without looking away from the book before him, Vergil responded, "It relates to my father's exploits. He sealed countless gateways to the demon world during his time in this world, but one in particular interests me."
"Temen-ni-gru," Agnes said quietly without thinking, but Vergil heard it like the rumble of thunder. He turned to face her, his expression betraying his surprised that she had guessed so easily.
"How did you...?" His reaction made Agnes slightly nervous.
"W-Well, that was the big portal He had to sacrifice his great power to seal, wasn't it? And if it was the Hell Gate you wanted, I know for a fact that there are ample records of the Hell Gate in the primary library. You obviously needed some rather sensitive information if you had to come in here to get it."
Vergil simply smiled. "Perceptive. As always. Yes, Temen-ni-gru is indeed the subject of my research. I wish to understand my father more, understand how and why he sealed away his power."
"And you need more power because you couldn't save your mother?"
Vergil paused a moment before responding. "Yes."
"So then, you want to be strong enough to protect your brother?"
"Okay. Let's find that book then." Agnes smiled at Vergil, who patted her on the head.
Their search continued for half an hour before finally yielding results.
"You found it?" Agnes asked upon noticing the extended period of time for which Vergil had been staring at the same book.
"I believe so," he replied as Agnes stood beside him to take a look. "There." He pointed to a full page illustration of a massive tower jutting out of the ground, hordes of demons spewing forth to murder and maim. Agnes simply stared at the picture in awe, shuddering at the thought of how many demons could be housed within such a huge tower. She snapped back to reality as Vergil turned the page to continue reading. She watched him intently as his beautiful eyes darted back and forth across the page, searching for the answers to his questions. He suddenly slammed the book shut, once again returning Agnes to the present.
"This is the one," he declared as he turned back to her.
"You've found what you're looking for?" Agnes asked elatedly, so very happy that she could be of assistance to Vergil.
"Very touching." A sudden voice from the main entrance of the library struck Agnes like a fierce slap to the face. She and Vergil turned to see a number of the Order's knights stood in the doorway, the Knight Commander in front. A second group of knights rushed in from the secret entrance, blocking off both escape points and totalling roughly a dozen in number.
"But I'm afraid your blasphemous sabotage ends here," he finished as he drew his sword. "The verdict is guilty and the sentence is death."
"Kn-Kn-Knight Commander?" Agnes was shaking. She tried to move but her body refused to obey, simply stayed put and shaking. "But we... Master Vergil was only looking for information regarding his fa-"
"This area is forbidden to all but those chosen by His Holiness," the Commander snapped. "Were those instructions not clear, servant girl?"
"Y-Yes, Milord, but I thought the son of Sparda-"
"The offspring of the Saviour is not the Saviour himself! Even he must abide by the rule of our Order so long as he stays within our city."
Vergil, for the first time in this conversation, spoke up. "Your Order is a joke, Knight Commander. And not a very funny one. My brother acts like a complete clown, yet manages to retain more dignity and respect than your brainwashed cult."
Everyone else was taken aback by Vergil's sudden, insulting response. As if speaking on behalf of them all, the Commander voiced their collective thoughts. "You... you dare insult our holy order? The Order established by your father-"
"You said it yourself," Vergil interrupted coolly, "I am not my father, nor do I care for your Order. And I am sure he would not either if he discovered this." Vergil reached into his coat and retrieved a small book, which he showed to those assembled. Agnes had no idea what it was but from the Commander's' stunned reaction, he evidently did.
"Where did you get that?" he demanded as the colour drained from his face.
Vergil's lips formed a slight smirk. "You mean this damning piece of evidence detailing the Order's more… shall we say, less-than-virtuous activities? With which I could make the Order completely collapse? It was here the entire time. This probably should have been one of the first books you took when you started moving the old stock out when I arrived." Vergil's words caused some of the knights to shift about nervously. Vergil's smirk grew at this response. "What? You thought I didn't realise you were moving the books under cover of darkness to avoid suspicion? What would your god think of you not pay due diligence in your actions?"
"Do not presume to know-"
"You worship a long dead martyr - a demon - as a god. His spirit has long since left this place. He did not protect his wife and children from demons... nor will he protect you."
A sudden spike of demonic energy erupted from Vergil's body, leaving him transformed; his skin now a scaly blue, a summoned coat seemingly a part of his flesh, a large metallic plate protruding from his skull, face now only two rows of razor-sharp teeth and two glowing green orbs for eyes, and scabbard seemingly alive and scaly as if also a part of him.
Time slowed to a crawl for Agnes as a million thoughts passed through her mind at once. How had the knights found them? Had someone seen them enter through the secret passage? Had there been a guard outside who had heard them? Was Vergil really here for purely innocent reasons? What were his intentions with a book on the great tower? Did he really feel for her as she did for him?
Vergil gripped the hilt of his sword and swung it with such speed and intensity that a wave of demonic energy flew out of the blade and through one of the knights before him. He then swung in the direction of the knights in the secret entrance, hitting two more with a second such strike, before swinging again towards the Knight Commander's group, hitting another man. Vergil slowly sheathed his sword while everyone else stood motionless.
As the guard struck the scabbard, blood burst forth from the wounds that stretched diagonally across the knights' torsos, which slowly slipped apart. Before anyone could react further, Vergil lunged forward and swung his sword. Another knight dropped while Vergil continued forward towards their Commander. He blocked Vergil's attack - a dropkick to the chest - with his sword, only for Vergil to kick off from the blade, flip over his back and swing his sword again.
The Commander turned and jumped back away from Vergil, bringing up his sword to guard again. It was not enough. Vergil's sword sliced through his as if it were made of paper. The Commander cried out as the sword sliced a narrow gash in his chest and sent him careening onto the floor.
By now, the secret entrance knights had started to move. Seeing this, Vergil delivered a swift kick to the gut of the only remaining knight between him and the main entrance, knocking him flat on his back and opening the way. Vergil fled the scene as the Commander screamed out an order to pursue.
Agnes stood frozen as the knights stormed past her to pursue Vergil. This was it. Whatever Vergil's intentions, there was no way he could stay in Fortuna anymore. He was leaving. Tonight.
"You… traitorous whore!" the Commander howled, clutching his wounded chest in agony. "Do you have any concept of what you have done!?"
"I-I was helping him learn about his father-"
"You helped him steal from our sacred library a book detailing our Order's most secret history, and detailing various methods of summoning demons to this world. With those, he could bring down our holy order and wage war with the rest of the world with an army of demons at his beck and call. And you helped him do it!"
Agnes felt sick. The man before her may not be telling the truth, but what if he was? She needed to know why Vergil was here and what how he felt about her. Had he been using her, or had he merely panicked and fled? As the Knight Commander managed to get back to his feet, Agnes fled through the door to the secret entrance and slammed it shut before knocking over a small statue to block the way behind her.
Vergil managed to elude his pursuers inside the castle before making his way back to the Master's Chamber. He needed his coat and there were also a few other books there that he planned to take with him when he left Fortuna forever. Some would be useful in summoning the seven sins and binding them to his will. Others were just books he felt might help kill time while Arkham worked.
He gathered up the books and whatever else he felt like taking into a small satchel before heading back out into the Soldier's Graveyard. The yard was surrounded by a high wall on the two outer edges, behind which was the edge of a cliff. Vergil had planned early on to jump over the wall in the event he could not leave peacefully. As he made a beeline for the wall, he caught something in the corner of his eye and came to a stop.
"Is it true?" Agnes asked as she stepped forward from behind the central fountain, hoping everything he had said was the truth. "Did you really come here just for information about your father, or did you have something else in mind?"
Vergil stepped closer to Agnes, but she stepped back away.
"Tell me!" she cried. "Did our time together mean anything to you!? Or were you just using me to get your books on summoning demons!?"
Vergil said nothing. He eyed her up, seemingly trying to decide what best to say to her, only making Agnes fear even more that he had been dishonest. His expression softened a little. It seemed genuine, though he might have simply been a very convincing actor.
Before Vergil could speak, the door leading to the central courtyard burst open and the remaining order knights rushed into the graveyard, white uniforms still covered in the blood of their dead comrades. Following them were a batch of fresh knights they had gathered during the pursuit. They quickly encircled the pair, swords drawn and ready to strike.
Seeing this, Vergil took one last look at Agnes and said in that perfectly even tone of his, "I'm sorry, but I have what I came for. You were a big help, Agnes."
Agnes' heart shattered. Unable to even stand, she fell to her knees and could only watch as Vergil used this demonic power once more to send a wave of energy at the outer wall, destroying a massive chunk of the obstacle before him. That done, he hopped up, kick off a nearby knight's head and glided through the gap in the destroyed wall and down into the mist below.
Vergil was gone. He had most likely been using Agnes the entire time. As the true weight of what had happened hit her, she found it harder and harder to breathe until she fell unconscious.
"And then he escaped down the cliff, leaving the traitor behind. No one has seen him since, so it is most likely he has already left the island." The Knight Commander concluded his report to Solemnis a few days of rigorous searching later. By now, his wound had started to heal; though he was informed he would most likely be left with a scar from his wound.
"How could this have happened?" Solemnis inquired. "You say he took a book on summoning demons?"
"Yes, Your Holiness."
"And only that?"
"There were a few others taken from the Master's Chamber, though we have yet to positively identify which of those he took."
"Then we will need to decide what to do with the remaining books now that the library has been compromised. But that can wait for later. You are dismissed, Knight Commander." Solemnis rubbed his temple with his right hand. The stress caused by this whole incident had given him a migraine.
"Yes, Your Holiness. But if I may, what is to become of the woman?"
"Agnes... She is young and naive, no great challenge to manipulate into assisting in nefarious schemes. We will seek to re-educate and rehabilitate her that she may be forgiven in the eyes of the Saviour."
"Your Holiness! Surely given the magnitude of her crime-"
"That is enough!" Solemnis snapped. "You would have me publicly shame a young woman for one foolish mistake made in her youth? I think most young women in our community would so easily fall prey to the Saviour's offspring. We will give her a chance to redeem herself and that is final. Is that clear?"
The Commander took a moment to respond. "Y-Yes, Your Holiness."
"Good," Solemnis sighed tiredly. "Then you are dismissed."
"Yes, Your Holiness. Would you like me to close the window before I go?"
"Hm? Oh, yes. Please."
"At once, Your Holiness." The Commander walked past Solemnis' chair towards the window in the back of the room. As Solemnis heard the window close, he could feel the cold air dissipate and he felt more at ease.
Until a blade burst forth from his chest, having been run through him from behind. In complete shock, he looked back over her shoulder as best he could. "S-S-Sanctus... Why?" he uttered feebly.
"Your soft-handed rule has made our order weak," Sanctus replied, voice ice cold. "If you had heeded my warning, our Order would not be in the danger it is now. Had you more ambition, we would have ascended long before now. And if you were to let the whore go unpunished, the example set for the rest of the community would be that punishment for criminal acts is too lax to take with any degree of seriousness. But fear not, for the Order will be in good hands once I ascend to your position as your successor."
Y-You…" Solemnis rasped his final word before Sanctus ripped the sword out of the old man's body and let it fall forward out of its seat, dead.
Sanctus looked down at the unmoving carcass, blood oozing from the gaping wound he had inflicted. Before he could decide how best to dispose of the body, one of the doors opened and another man entered the room. His attire suggested he was one of the Order's scientists – short white robe with orange trim, matching legwear, black gloves and brown footwear. He was hunched over as he walked, and seemed to be taking notes as he entered. These quirks sounded familiar but what truly gave away his identity were his physical features. He had a stocky build, and although the two had never met, the man's dark skin and hair told Sanctus exactly who he was, as those traits were rather uncommon on the island.
"Pardon the intrusion, Your Holiness, but I've finish my work on…" Agnus trailed off as he looked briefly away from his notes to see the man he had come to see sprawled across the floor, a pool of blood congealing beneath his unmoving form."Y…Y-Y-You're Knight Commander S-S-Sanctus," he stuttered in shock. "His Holiness is-"
Sanctus swiftly brandished his blood-stained sword, cutting Agnus off. "Dead, yes. Need I send you after him?"
Agnus' response was… unusual, so say the least. Instead of cowering or stammering or running away, Agnus simply smiled. It was a smile that displayed a twisted, sadistic pleasure from the proceedings. His tone deepened, displaying a dark confidence that had not been there before.
"I did wonder how long it would take for that fool to meet his end," he commented, his sinister smirk growing wider. He slowly raised his clenched fist and extended his index finger to point directly at Sanctus to emphasise his words. "You saw how he held the Order back. Kept us from truly delving into the heart of darkness to fully understand the demons that plague our world. You saw what could be accomplished without his pacifistic ways keeping a leash around our necks."
Taken aback somewhat, Sanctus struggled to find his words, though he did manage. "Yes. For all he did for our Order, he ultimately became nothing more than a hindrance to our ascension. So I eliminated him."
"Correction," said Agnus as he lifted Solemnis' chair, carried it over to the window and shattered it with one swing. He then produced a small piece of blue cloth from his pocket and stuck the cloth onto a jagged piece of glass still in the window.
"The treacherous Son of Sparda did."
Agnes stood at the edge of a small cliff overlooking the vast ocean, into which the bright orange sun was setting. This had been one of her favourite places to go as a child, despite the danger of the jagged rocks below. As she looked out over beautiful, sparkling ocean, she wondered what had become of Vergil. Perhaps he had found another woman to manipulate and betray, or achieved whatever it was he had needed the stolen book for. But the thought that made Agnes smile was the possibility that the bastard had gotten himself killed horrifically, dying alone and unloved, exactly the way he had left her.
Vergil had apparently stayed on the island for a few days before assassinating Solemnis and fleeing. Agnes knew it was untrue. She knew Sanctus has done it so he could succeed him and take over the Order. Not that she felt any desire to defend Vergil after what he had done to her, and even if she had, no one would have believed her anyway. Sanctus' first act as leader of the Order - even before converting the main library into a church, moving the library to the smaller room and burning any incriminating evidence - was to brand Agnes a traitor and a harlot, which damn near everybody on the island accepted immediately. She lost her position as a maid, her home was burned to the ground by religious townspeople and she was left with nothing left to live for. Well, there was one thing she had been left with.
The result of her and Vergil's 'love affair' was a baby boy. Agnes had been unable to bring herself to dispose of or harm the child as it was not his fault he was the son of a manipulative bastard. But even so, she had felt no love for the child, which had only made her despise her own weakness all the more. The boy had his father's eyes, though less cold and vile. His hair, too, matched his father's in colour. Agnes had felt the sickening aura of Sparda's lineage in the boy and could not bear to be near him.
One of her friends, Nicaea, had been one of the few to not believe the Order's lies and had even given Agnes a place to stay for the duration of her pregnancy. Nicaea and her husband had a pair of children of her own; one son and one daughter. Once she was well enough to move, Agnes had left the boy with Nicaea, hoping he could at least find love with this family, for he would never find any with his own. With the boy were a dark blue blanket and a letter asking for forgiveness from her friend.
That done, Agnes had come to this spot to look out at the sunset one last time before she departed this rotten zealot-filled world she lived in forever. Although she could not give her son any love, she had at least been able to give him a name; a name that reflected his father's black, loveless heart. A name she had written at the end of the note she had left for Nicaea. A name she uttered one last time before she departed.
To celebrate the upcoming release of Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, here is a story I've been working on for quite some time.
The concept for this was a response to the original planned explanation of Nero's link to Sparda. DMC4's original writer, Bingo Morihashi, adapted it into a novel, which revealed that Vergil visited Fortuna years ago and slept with a random prostitute, resulting in Nero's birth. Since that's completely out of character for Vergil, I devised this story is how I would have made the reveal of Nero's parenthood. I hope you guys enjoyed the story, or at least some of the ideas within it. I may write some more stories in the future and I've got something DMC-related planned for my YouTube channel in the near future. And remember to buy Special Edition to tell Capcom we want more of classic DMC, because they're kinda stupid that way.
I hope you guys enjoyed the story, or at least some of the ideas within it. I may write some more stories in the future and I've got something DMC-related planned for my YouTube channel in the near future.
And remember to buy Special Edition to tell Capcom we want more of classic DMC, because they're kinda stupid that way.
In my original story plan, the woman Vergil seduced was to be a librarian working in the single library with a restricted section. Even after introducing Agnes, she was only going to help Vergil learn more about the librarian to seduce her, possibly seducing Agnes too. But as I wrote Agnes, I started to take a like to her and made her the focus instead.
Sanctus was originally supposed to be the priest at the start, but I decided to take the direction with him as Knight Commander serving under Solemnis from the official book instead, but with certain details changed. I think he was briefly going to be the "pope" as well at some point. I forget.
The scene with the explanation of Hell Gates was originally written when I was under the impression that all four were there originally, but I checked and found that Agnus actually created the three lesser gates guarded by Berial, Bael and Echidna. I didn't want to rewrite a large part of the since I liked how it came out, I tweaked it a little so that there were Hell Gates before, but Sparda destroyed the lesser ones and left on remaining. I think the scene still works quite well this way.
Whoever was seduced was originally going to commit suicide out of depression at the end. But as I stated earlier, I grew attached to Agnes, so I left the ending and how Vergil felt about her a little more ambiguous.