DISCLAIMER: Soul Calibur 2 is the intellectual property of NAMCO, all rights reserved. Distribution of concepts, artwork and any other form of multimedia, without the permission of the appropriate bodies, is strictly forbidden. I, Crimson Wraith, am not the creator of Soul Calibur 2. No such permission has been acquired from NAMCO, and as such, am liable for copyright infringements. This fan fiction will be removed upon request of appropriate bodies.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cry of a Valkyrie
Chapter 2: Enter the Serpent's Lair
What is a miracle? I'm not so sure what it is, but I know one when I see it. Pealing back the gauze from my arm where a deep gash in my flesh came to existence only yesterday, it now revealed with the morning light only fair untouched skin. This was nothing short of a miracle. Silently, I thanked Athena for guarding my life and Hepheastus for giving me the strength to recover from my injuries, as it certainly would be inconvenient for the gods to find another champion for their conquest. A new surge of energy flowed through my body as the sun rose with a faint amber light in the east. The quest for Soul Edge was only beginning. I turned to my shoulder to find Taki still staring out the window, curiously clutching a pouch in her hands. I understood her faithful vigil, knowing that what was at stake was not our lives, but our immortal souls. I made a noise as I rose from my bed, she shifted an eye in my direction.
'I see that you are feeling better this morning. That is good for you.' She turned again outside, saying nothing else.
Breakfast was served, and about time too! I turned to the side of my bed to find a tray of food, but only enough for one. Sure I was really hungry, but I wondered if my companion would like to share breakfast with me. 'Hey Taki! Have you had something to eat already?' I asked her as I reached for the bread. She remained silent, shaking her head. 'Would you like some?' I offered her the roll. She didn't turn my way.
'It's dawn,' she observed, looking out the window. 'We better leave soon.'
Already tearing through the roll, I turned to her with a raised eyebrow. 'But why?' I swore her eyes fell on the streets below as she heard me. For that, I felt guilty myself.
'I have sensed a brooding evil dwelling here. My senses tell me that they are after us.' She threw the pouch at me. I quickly dropped a slice of steak to catch it. It was the pouch holding the seven shards of Soul Edge we took from the creature yesterday. Taki told me the night before that she had cast a strong spell to bind its power. I asked her why, but she didn't tell me. Yet looking at it, I couldn't help but feel the same brooding Taki felt. I could have sworn it glowed every time I placed my sword near it.
I quickly raised my head, turning to the… Ninja, I think that's what she called herself, just in time to see her nod off. Even she was just human. 'Hey Taki! Did you get any sleep at all last night?' Again there was no answer, as if she hadn't heard. 'I said did you-'
'I heard you the first time, Cassandra. I'm not deaf!' Her eye shifted towards me. 'We of the Fuma ninja clan are people of the night. I can do without sleep…' she paused heaving a deep sigh. 'It's time to leave, Cassandra.'
She was right. The morning sun has already risen above the rooftops to filter through her shadow. 'I'll go pay at the front, just stay here and eat something.' She turned to me angrily, but I didn't look away from her frigid glaze. 'Or can your people go without food too?' I stood up and pocketed the pouch, ignoring the death glare of the woman of the night. With loud footsteps, she traced me as I walked towards the door and disappeared behind it. 'I'll see you at the front! Jus-'
As I closed the door behind me, my gaze was still fixed on it walking backwards. Sophitia often describes me as having my mind in the Olympus, she may be right. While it dwelled upon Olympus, thinking about my quest for the gods, I forgot that I was on earth, dwelling with other mortals. How else could I have walked right into a man standing in the middle of the hallway? Both of us fell to the floor with a large crash, lying still in a tangled mess. Everybody must have heard the crash because when I finally looked up, every door was opened, filled with vacant expressions all staring at me… 'Get a room!' one of them screamed in disgust. No they weren't looking at me, they were looking at us!
The young boy groaned beneath me. As I looked down, I found my elbow jabbing into his ribs. I shot up my face blushing with embarrassment. 'I'm so sorry! I didn't see you!' Extending a hand to him, I waited anxiously for him to accept my help.
Thankfully, he took it and pulled himself up and shot me a smile, all to my surprise. 'Jeez lady! What have you been eating! You weigh a ton!'
Alright, I did crash into him, I did stab his ribs with my elbow, but did he have to say that? Any girl can tell you that weight is nothing to poke fun at, this holds true for me. I kept a straight face, but inside I felt like drawing my sword and cut him a new one. 'Are you alright,' I managed though my teeth.
'Yeah I'm fine,' he said, dusting himself off. 'You really should watch where you are going.'
'I'm sorry alright,' I snapped back. I thought of walking away before things got ugly… I should've done that earlier. Suddenly I felt a hand fall upon my shoulder. Drawing my sword from my sheath, I thrust it up to his neck, the tip barely touching his skin. 'What do you want? A song and dance?'
He waved his hand in front of me, probably telling me that he meant no harm. I didn't lower the blade. Suddenly he reached for something behind him, a sword. With a swift arc, he knocked my sword from his throat. 'Are all girl's in Egypt like this?' He maintained a casual stance, lowering his sword to his side. I followed suit and lowered my guard. 'The woman downstairs was like this too.'
The image of a scantily clad dominatrix came to mind. 'I already said I was sorry, okay. I have more important things to do than stand here and talk about this!'
'I was just wondering if I brought enough protection.' I turned to his blade. It was beautiful. Shaped like nothing I've seen before, the blade gleamed though the poor lighting of hallway. I saw something else. I could have sworn I saw Sophitia's face in the blade, but shook the thought from my mind. He then returned it to a sheath behind him. 'It's nice to talk to someone who understands me though?'
'I don't understand you at all,' I grumbled. This only seemed to make his smile widen.
'You speak Korean well enough.'
What in Hades was he talking about? 'I've had enough of you stupid jokes-'
'My name's Yunsung,' he said stepping aside. I was about to pass when another, louder more desperate crash sounded behind me. It came from my room. My eyes suddenly widened at the thought of a single name: Taki. She was still in my room. I quickly turned around and bolted in the other direction, kicking down the door. The room was completely destroyed, the wall suffering a gaping hole. 'What's going on?' a voice behind me asked. It was Yun.
'Taki!' I screamed through the debris. 'Taki!'
'Cassandra!' I heard. The voice came from outside the hole. I ran to the edge and peered to the empty streets below. A crowd had formed a ring around two fighters. Taki was at one end, suffering several cuts to her arms and legs. The other was that strange woman, her cleavage all but bearing for all to see. They were both in a fighting stance. I was late again.
'I'm not here to play games! Give me the shards and you shall live. Fail to do so and you shall die a slow and agonizing death!' she declared. Her blade snaked around her like a living whip. I turned to Taki: the determined look on her face told me she wasn't going to give up those loathsome shards. She was going to fight to her dying breath, but as things seemed at the moment, that's what was she was going to do. She was going to die, but I couldn't let that happen.
My sword slithered as I drew it from my back and gripped my shield in my other hand before I jumped onto the street. The crowd gasped as they saw a third fighter enter the arena, then a fourth. I turned around to find Yunsung behind me, his sword drawn and ready to strike. 'If this is what Egyptian girls are like, then I think I'm going to like it here,' he said smugly.
'Little girl and little boy, get out of my way before I spank both of you. Haven't your mummies ever told you that not to play with knives?' She moved her sword, or did the sword move on its own? The blade suddenly extended and began to snake around her.
A voice behind me broke my trance. 'Hey Cassandra and kid, both of you get over here.'
'But,' Yun whined, 'three against one is so unfair.'
'NOW!' Taki screamed.
I slowly moved towards her, keeping an eye on the sorceress behind me. 'We can take her,' I told Taki.
'Not without killing everyone else around us.' I turned around. She was right. All these bystanders would get hurt if we fought now. But where did that leave us? 'Get behind me, both of you, now!' Both me and Yun obeyed. Taki raised her head to the sorceress. 'You shall die another day.' She raised her fist high into then slammed it into the ground. A moment later, the sorceress was gone, along with the crowd and the whole city.
'Where are we? Yun whined, walking over yet another sand dune. Endless sand stretched as far as the eye could see and the blazing sun was burning my fair skin. Taki wasn't doing well either, bleeding through the countless cuts along her body. At least now she was silent as I carried her over my shoulders. Yun seemed to be coping with the heat better than both of us. 'Do you know where we are?'
'No,' I screamed back over the weight of the cataleptic warrior on my shoulders. I thought this was a man's job. The world was indeed changing.
'Hey! I see something!' he cried to me. 'Its not much, but I guess it'll have to do.'
I followed his gaze to see the commotion. Indeed it wasn't much. Not far in the distance was a stone doorway, or was it? It didn't matter. It provided shade, and under this sun, that was all that mattered. 'Hey Yun! Help me with Taki!'
If Helios could hear me, I would have cursed him, but only my friend mattered now. She was still unconscious, but at least she was doing better in the shade. Her breathing was deeper now, and allowed me to tend to her wounds. Yun shot a fascinated look towards me as I cut a bit of my skirt to bandage the woman's cut, revealing more flesh than I would have otherwise liked. 'Nice legs Cass.'
'Shut up Yun! If you're not going to help, then don't bother me. Go do something!'
I turned to him angrily. 'Like anything! You're not a child anymore, Yun.' I knew I shouldn't have yelled. The heat must have gotten to me. My words must have struck a chord because he turned away with a disgusted expression as he walked down the hallway towards the darkness. In a way I felt guilty, screaming at the guy like that, but I had to. Taki needed me. I turned to her and found her smiling weakly.
'I'm glad to see you!' she gasped.
'What happened to you,' I asked as I tightened the bandage around her. She winced painfully as did I.
'Shards of light burst through the room shortly after you left. Her sword, it's enchanted.' She stopped reeling in pain as I wrapped a cloth around another wound. 'Easy on the bandages, Cassandra.'
'I'm sorry Taki,' I apologised, falling down on my rear. 'I'm not sure how to do this. I'm really useless, aren't I? I shouldn't even be here. I should be baking…'
'You are baking... in the Sahara sun!' she joked. For that, I tightened another bandage around another wound. Needless to say, she was silenced. 'So what do you about that guy?'
'Who Yun? That's because he couldn't shut up!' There, the final bandage was placed across her arm, but my skirt was torn to shreds. Yun would die if he saw me like this. 'That chauvanist pig is so full of himself.'
'Remind you of anyone?' asked Taki. I wish she had more cuts, and with it, I wish I had more clothes to turn to bandages. 'I barely understand Korean, but it seems you speak it fluently.'
'He spoke Greek!' I insisted.
Taki shook her head. 'No you weren't! You spoke Korean!'
'I think the sun's getting to you too. If you haven't realised, I've never been out of the country until five days ago, I didn't do much besides train and bake, so there's no way in Hades I could possibly I could possibly speak another lang-'
'HEY!' Yun's voice screamed through the darkness. Both Taki and I turned around to find Yun scrambling towards us. 'Hey Cass! You should check this out!' he paised suddenly to take a long gaze upon my legs. 'Have I told you that you've got some nice legs?'
'This is impossible!' I gasped, tracing my hand along the art on the wall. The whole wall was covered in them, the whole catacomb was dedicated to it: the sealing of Soul Edge! I looked at one hieroglyph, depicting a woman devoured by the evil blade. How long had this evil blade been consuming souls? It was older than this ancient civilization, certainly older than mine. Some say it was born with the beginning of the world, others say at the beginning of time itself. One thing was for certain: it had plagued humanity for as long as there were souls to devour. I turned to my back, finding a puzzled Yun staring at the wall. 'This is horrible.'
In the middle of the room was a platform surrounded by a deep pit similar to the ruins I fought Charade on. The torches surrounding the room burned eternally, revealing the horrifying chronicle for all to see. Maybe this was a warning to those who sought the blade. 'Taki would've loved to see this…'
'Indeed she does!' Both Yun and I quickly turned to face the icy voice. The woman was there, holding a blade across Taki's neck. 'She's not holding the shards, she's no use to me.' A shrill cry escaped the ninja as the blade dug into her neck.
'No!' I screamed. 'Leave her alone.' I dug into my pocket and produced a familiar pouch. 'Fight me…' I drew my sword and pointed it to the platform in the centre, '…. in there, beat me and the shards are yours.'
I could almost see her licking her lips at the opportunity. 'Have it your way…' she dropped Taki on the floor and moved towards me. 'It doesn't matter where I kill you, where you stand or over there. One thing stands: your soul will stay in this mausoleum… forever.'
Granted, this was definitely not the smartest thing I've done, but I couldn't let Taki die: she saved my sister and me. I owed her my life. Yun walked over to me as I placed the pouch full of shards in his hands. 'Hold this until she comes back for it.'
'Wow,' he gawked, 'you don't sound too positive.'
He was right, I wasn't confident at all. After what she did to Taki, I began to imagine what that sword of hers could do to me. I looked over in her direction again. 'No matter what happens to me, please take care of Taki.'
'You mean the Japanese girl?'
I nodded. 'Well, here I go.' Looking into his deep brown eyes almost convinced me to forfeit the shards to her, but something within me to keep fighting. With a heavy heart, I drew my sword and walked away towards the woman on the far side of the room. She looked formidable, and with her enchanted sword, my hopes pf victory seemed falter. This was definitely not a good idea.
'Little girl,' she called to me in a mocking voice. I scorned her for that. 'What is your name?'
'Cassandra,' I hissed back. 'And you are?'
'You can call me Ivy.' She flashed me an evil smile before she drew her sword. 'EXTEND!' she screamed. Suddenly the blade shot forward, arching to the edge of the makeshift arena, imbedding itself on rock. 'After you, dear Cassandra.' I nodded nervously. If going into the arena was hard, I could only imagine how difficult the fight would have been. Don't look down, don't look I down, I repeated this over and over as I slowly made my way across the bridge of blades. I should have listened to myself. I did look down.
The darkness was unending, as was the pit in the ruins. Falling down would mean certain death. Why did the creators of this mausoleum create such a void to surround the platform in the middle? Were people meant to be kept out, or were they trying to keep something from escaping? Whatever the reason was had to wait as I found a foot onto solid rock. With that out of the way, only thing left was for me to fight her.
'My my, how delightfully athletic you are,' she commented, raising the hilt to the air. The bridge suddenly glowed white as it broke into a dozen pieces and flew through the air like shards of light, forming a pillar upon the hilt. I gulped, nervously clenching my sword. 'Too bad you will die with your gifts unrealised.'
What I did next was one of my better ideas. Indeed anyone in such a hopeless situation would have done what I did: pray. I raised my eyes to the ceiling as if looking to the sky. 'Gods!' I cried loudly, 'Show me your light.'
'Your heathen gods do not hear you,' she scoffed.
I turned to her bitterly. Had she said that five days ago, I would have bought her a tankard of ale at the local tavern, but I had seen something I shouldn't have: the power of the gods. Fixing my shield in my left hand and gripping my sword in my right, I nodded to her. 'I'll do the best that I can.'
She nodded likewise. 'Too bad it's not good enough,' she said and took her stance. It was awkward, standing with her blade pointed downwards, standing as if she were posing for a painting. This exposed everything from her stomach to her head. Maybe I can win this after all. I raised my sword and shield with renewed vigour. The gods were with me.
I should have known why she took that stance; she wasn't expecting me to get close to her. As soon as I took a step forward, she drew her sword back and thrusted it forward. 'EXTEND!' she screamed. The blade obeyed, darting through the air, aimed straight at me. Quickly stepping aside saved my life, but only barely. I could have sworn I felt the wind of the blade as it screamed past. From a distance, I watched as she swung the hilt in my direction, causing the enchanted blade to veer towards me, clashing against my shield as it returned to its origin. How do I fight her if I can't even get close? 'Come little girl and meet your doom,' she snapped her sword like a whip, cracking it in the air twice before enveloping herself with it. 'I can kill you where you stand, or I can kill you up close. Where I kill you doesn't matter. It doesn't matter me at all.' She then directed a finger at me. 'Over there!' she commanded her blade. Again the tip leaped from the hilt, this time arcing through the air. As I looked upon the curving tip, something clicked. I didn't know why, but I began to run forward, as if to greet the blade. I didn't, it passed well over my head leaving a trail of bending metal with her guard left completely open.
I charged towards her with my sword held high, not caring for the tip reeling back to its hilt. It got there well before I did, to my great surprise, and soon, to my regret. A few meters more and I would have slain her, a few meters more and I would have won the battle, but I didn't have those few meters, and she knew this. I stopped a short distance away with my shield covering my face, it wouldn't take long for the blade to travel now that I have found my way to it, but what else could she do? Her eyes gleamed, no doubt with another attempt to kill me at a distance. I looked puzzled as she drove her sword into the ground, burying the blade completely. What was she trying to do by this? Suddenly the tip burst from the cold tiles half a meter from me. It was too late to do anything. The cold blade pierced through my left shoulder before returning beneath the ground, travelling back to its master. I fell to the ground, desperately suppressing an agonized cry. A crimson flow spurt through the puncture, staining the ground before me. I looked to her, finding her tongue licking the crimson that streaked across her sword. Where were the gods now?
As I stood up, pain surged through my arm, unable to raise the shield. I was completely defenceless against the next attack, and as I looked across to Ivy, I knew that she knew it too. 'You have outlasted my expectations, Cassandra, and I congratulate you on that. However, I'm not here to play games. Give me the shards and I'll spare your life.'
'Never!' I screamed defiantly. Against all rational thought, I began to charge towards her in a final desperate bid for victory. At the time, I must have reasoned that if I can't defend, then attack was the only option. Surrender certainly wasn't. Her eyes gleamed an ominous red as she pointed the sword at me, suddenly breaking into a dozen pieces and speeding through the air. Twelve shards of light streaked through the air, all aimed at me. What happened next was has to explain. They left a small gap on the floor. A few inches less and they would have pierced through my skull and ended my life there, but I had those few inches, sliding beneath the swarm of shards and right in front of Ivy. Her mouth gaped open as I plunged my sword into her heart, climbed on it then jumped away. A surge of pain overcame my senses, disorienting me in the air. I should have landed on her shoulders, crushing them beneath my heel. Instead, my arm heaved with pain and I fell flatly upon the floor behind her. I painfully turned on the ground to face her, finding not only my sword in her chest, but also a dozen shards of light protruding through her torso.
'This can't be,' she cried in disbelief before falling onto the floor, never to rise again. Only I stood up, walking over her and drawing my blood-drenched sword from her chest. It was only then that the thought dawned on me: I won. But it didn't feel like victory. The hallowed feeling within my soul was sobering, that though I had to kill her, taking a life was still taking a life. I was a murderer. I looked at the blood that covered my hands; Ivy's blood mingling with my own, all spilled for that loathsome weapon known as Soul Edge. There was something else protruding from her, a note from her pocket. I reached over and found out that it was a diary. I opened its pages and turned to the last entry.
I have tracked Soul Edge to the Egyptian Harbour Alexandria. The creature known as Charade was slain before I found it, taking with it the shards I needed to destroy. I mustn't let anyone else fall prey to its power, as my father has.
I reeled back as I read this. She was going to destroy Soul Edge? Why didn't she tell us? We were on the same side. Tears began to fall upon the letter; I had better finish reading it before my tears soak the letter completely.I have tracked the mercenaries who slew Charade to my very own inn. I will have to take it before it bestows upon them untold power and evil. That young girl I found staring at my extremities couldn't be the one who defeated Charade, someone else must be helping her.
Never the less, I must turn to Athens once I retrieve the shards. I have learned the dark knight Nightmare has foreshadowed upon it borders, seeking vengeance upon the one who destroyed its other half. It must be stopped.
I have to leave now, the girl has left her room, probably leaving her companion alone in the room. She has crashed into a young man of Asian decent, giving me more time to take the shards as they converse. They look like such a nice pair.
'Come now, Cassandra, it's over.' I heard Taki say behind me. I turned around to see Taki held by Yunsung. 'It's time to go.' Yunsung reached over to carry my arm over his shoulder, and turned to a bridge of wooden planks behind them.
I dropped to my knees, wiping my tear covered face with my arm. 'She's like us… trying to destroy Soul Edge.'
Feeling a hand fall upon my right shoulder, I turned to find Yun looking down at me. 'We should get out of here.' He offered a hand. I accepted.
Outside, the night sky was clear, blanketed with a magnificent mantle of stars shimmering in the void. The moon was unusually bright this evening, glowing a calm yet radiant light. Selene must be watching over me as she rode across the night sky, yet even this spectacle couldn't remove the sorrow shadowing my soul. I looked at my gauntlet. It was still stained with the blood of Ivy. The wrenching guilt building up in my stomach threatened to overwhelm me, until a hand quickly snapped me out of my self-loathing.
It was Yunsung. 'Cassandra, you don't look so good.' I shook it off my shoulder and stepped out of the crypt. He followed closely behind me, carrying the weary Taki on his side. The desert sands weren't so bad in the night. A cool wind blew softly towards us, carrying with it sand. It blew into my wound, sending pain to surge through my arm. I grit my teeth to stifle an agonized scream. Yun saw this from behind me. 'You're hurt Cassandra. Alexandria's not so far away. I can carry both you and… Taki here.'
He was nice, but I shook my head. 'I thought you said I weighed a tonne!' I reminded him. Certainly it was dark, but I could see him blushing in the shadows. 'It's alright Yunsung. I'll be alright.' A long awkward silence followed this, all three of us unable to say anything: Taki, naturally because she was unconscious, though her bleeding had stopped. I wasn't sure what the young man had in mind. He has only been with us for a very short time, yet he was willing to place himself in danger, for us… for me. 'Hey Yun!'
'Yeah?' he shot back, trying to hide the awkwardness in his voice. 'What is it?'
'Thanks for helping us out.'
'No problem!' He bowed a little, well as far as one can bow whilst carrying someone on their shoulders.
I smiled back at the gesture, paining me to ask him my next question. 'Why are you helping us?'
His expression immediately changed, darkening a shade or two. The warm smile on his face was now gone, leaving a vacant expression staring back at me. 'I'm looking for the Sword of Salvation. I heard that it was here a month ago, but I'm not quite so sure now.'
The Sword of Salvation. It certainly didn't sound anything like Soul Edge. The evil sword can only bring destruction. He sought hope. 'What do you need it for.'
Yunsung's gaze seemed distant, staring into the heavens as if searching for an answer. His voice was soft, but radiated confidence as he answered me. 'I will protect my country…'
He was patriot, I concluded, not a puppet of gods like me. For a long time I stared at him with admiration in my eyes. 'I hope you find what you have come so far to find.' After that, I turned forward, eyeing the moon in the distance that hid lay amongst a bed of glittering stars. I couldn't help but feel watched by a dozen eyes staring from the heavens, though I felt safe with them doing so. The gods were watching over me as I continued my quest to find and destroy the devourer of souls: Soul Edge.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Okay, no. Ivy's final move is not in the game but in introduction movie where she had it chase Taki around the arena. I just thought it would be nice if she can really do it in a fight.