And here we go, time to continue the 'return home' arc. I hope you enjoy reading.

Note: (()) denotes thoughts

Rushing through the forest, tripping, stumbling, but barely managing to retain her footing, Cassandra slashed thorns and branches aside as she followed the huge boot prints that adorned the soft, muddy ground. ((He has to be here, or… it, or whatever it is… I can't let it get to town…!)). Hoping, and praying, that her meager skills would be enough to vanquish the creature, or at least drive it off, Cassandra burst out from between a small copse of trees, coming upon a wooden footbridge that led over the sparkling stream she had crossed several moments earlier. Looking up, her eyes set upon a massive, ghastly armored figure… ((THERE! I've found him! Oh, Hephaestus, what if I can't beat him… NO, I can't think about that now, I have to attack!)).

"Sophitia?" the armored figure shouted out, sounding somehow confused. ((I thought… she went back to the town!)), Siegfried thought to himself, mistaking Cassandra for Sophitia at this distance due to their similar appearances.

"Stay away from my sister, you monster!" Cassandra shouted, hopping up onto the bridge, ((This is it! Here goes!)).

Siegfried stepped up onto the opposite side of the wood bridge, hauling up Soul Edge to rest it on his shoulder. "What are you… huh?" the tall warrior began, as Cassandra scampered towards him, coming down with a hard vertical clash for his shoulder. Reflexively slamming the large end of Soul Edge near the hilt into Cassandra's sword, Siegfried knocked the smaller woman off-balance, stepping back in surprise, "What the hell do you think you're-" suddenly realizing, ((Wait, this is not Sophitia… but, they look so similar?)). Feeling Soul Edge growl with hunger, pulsating violently in his arm, Siegfried shouted out desperately, "Fool, you're making a mistake!" ((No, if I fight without Sophitia here, I may not be able to hold back the blade…!)).

"No mistake, DEMON!" Cassandra shouted, stepping forward to swing a back-handed slash towards Siegfried's head. ((I can't think, I can't stop, the second I feel fear, I'm going to lose!)) Cassandra thought to herself in a near-panic, trying to hold onto her courage as she faced the vicious, armored warrior wielding an incredibly evil-looking sword before her, doing her best to save the town from its hideous wrath.

Ducking under the attack, Siegfried felt Soul Edge's power growing, its veins seeping into his own, clawing back from the depths of its hiding place, yearning for control, lusting for blood, for souls… Launching himself forward in a shoulder thrust, Siegfried slammed his body into Cassandra, knocking her off her feet to fall back onto the wood bridge, the young woman grunting in pain as she hit the hard planks. Rolling aside, Cassandra quickly scrambled to her feet, lashing out with her sword in a protective slash while regaining her footing.

Struggling to hold back the slimy demon blade, fear and pain racing through his mind, Siegfried failed to notice Cassandra's swing, as her blade cut across the deformed arm that held the Soul Edge. Crying out in glee, Soul Edge latched onto the physical pain that lanced through Siegfried's arm, using the moment to snatch control of the desperate warrior's already clouded mind.

((NO!)) Siegfried shouted internally from behind the mask of Nightmare, as his dark, disgustingly deformed counterpart hauled its heavy, two-handed sword around behind its head, preparing to cleave its young, female opponent in half. Somehow finding his voice within the swirls of madness in his mind, Siegfried shouted out, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!" As Nightmare brought Soul Edge down with deadly accuracy.

Surprised by the warning, Cassandra nonetheless took heed, diving to the side as the huge blade fell down upon the wooden footbridge, sending splinters of wood flying every which way. ((Why would he warn me? He must be toying with me! I have to hurry!)) Cassandra thought to herself, adrenaline racing through her veins. Lunging for the hulking form of Nightmare, the young woman sought to skewer the best while its blade lay flat, giving it no chance to retaliate or parry.

Nightmare, however, even for its size and girth, was far too quick, and easily whipped the Soul Edge up from the bridge, deflecting Cassandra's weapon with a loud clang. Grabbing the blade with both hands, Siegfried's deformed body brought Soul Edge down upon the woman in a brutal overhand strike. Raising her sword in panicked reflex, Cassandra tried vainly to stop the incoming weapon. Soul Edge met with Cassandra's old, battered sword, cleaving through the aged weapon, and descending towards the young woman's tender flesh as her eyes widened with shock and fear.

((I can't let this happen!)) Pushing with all his mental might, Siegfried barely managed to divert the weapon, as the huge, deformed Soul Edge swooshed just past Cassandra's left side, cutting into the now-battered footbridge underneath her. Soul Edge easily smashed through the damaged planks, collapsing the entire bridge and plunging both Cassandra and Nightmare into the stream below.

Losing her footing in the fall, Cassandra landed in the foot-deep water on her bottom with a loud splash, soaking her skirt and leggings in the cold water, ((I've… I've LOST! This is it! Oh, Sophitia, I'm so sorry! Mother, father, Lucius, please forgive me!)).

Crouching and easily maintaining his balance, Nightmare's armored feet crashed into the stream rocks underneath the brook, spraying water everywhere. Cackling with glee, Soul Edge lifted above Nightmare's head, ((I HAVE you, Siegfried! You have LOST! This body is MINE!)) taunting its host without care or mercy. As Soul Edge swung down towards Cassandra's head, the young lady shut her eyes, tensing her body to prepare for the awful pain and the end of her life that was about to come…

Just as the blade was about to cleave through the inexperienced warrior woman's skull, Sophitia's face flashed through Siegfried's mind, briefly replacing Cassandra's. Soul Edge stopped mid-swing, mere inches from the nose of its defeated opponent. ((They look SO similar…)) Siegfried found himself thinking once again, as memories of Sophitia flooded his mind, Sophitia helping him up from the ground, offering him a hand when none other would, lowering her weapon when threatened for her life, laughing, smiling, clumsily dropping things upon the ground… her movements, her attitude, her valiance, everything about her…

Soul Edge angrily battled with Siegfried's consciousness, hungrily trying to take control and consume the soul of Sophitia's young sister… but no, Siegfried would not budge, not to a monster such as this, not to destroy someone so close to the one he cared so much for. ((This is MY body. GET OUT!)) Siegfried screamed internally, adamantly holding the blade in place, viciously shoving Nightmare away from his soul, back into it his deformed, injured arm.

Control finally returning, Siegfried's mind quickly assessed the situation, still holding the hideous Soul Edge firmly in place. ((The tracks… she followed them here, thinking I was a demon… surely she knew of its presence, then… But I followed the tracks here too, from the other direction… where did the beast then go? It didn't just disappear, think, you bumbling imbecile, where the hell is it…)). As the water of the stream flowed past Nightmare's armor, swirling and eddying about to fill the cracks and seams of the metal, it suddenly dawned on Siegfried, so close, so obvious.

"The damned stream! It followed the stream! That's why it has no damned tracks! It must already be upon the village by now! Son of a bitch!" Siegfried cursed vehemently, wrenching back full control of his body, shouldering Soul Edge and pulling himself out of the stream. Taking off at full bore, the warrior's armor clanked and rumbled as it shook from the force of each footfall, Siegfried's legs rushing forward as fast as they could carry him, along the stream and straight towards the village market square.

Cassandra slowly opened her eyes, unsure of what had just happened. ((But I… I lost, didn't I? Why am I still alive? And… what was he saying? The stream? Why would he care about the stream…?)) Peering around, Cassandra barely saw the shape of the armored warrior flitting between several trees some distance away, rapidly moving away from her. ((Why was I … spared?)) Pushing herself to her feet shakily, rotating her wrist, which hurt like hell from Nightmare's sword-breaking strike, Cassandra fished around in the water, retrieving her broken blade.

((Should I… go after him?)) Looking at her shattered blade, Cassandra felt her heart sink, ((I failed… what's going to happen now…? Is everyone… is everyone going to die?)) The feeling of horror and dread still lay thick within her chest, though, strangely, it had not increased when she met with the hideously armored fighter. ((Well… I can't just stand here! I have to go after him, maybe I can do… something! At least I can distract him and let people escape!)) Shaking her head to clear it of thought, Cassandra hopped up onto the shore of the stream, breaking into a sprint, racing back towards the village square.

"Rothion?" Sophitia and Achelous both voiced in surprise simultaneously, as the young man wiped sweat from his brow, taking a low combat stance.

"I am sorry I did not arrive earlier. But, allow atone for my lack of manners by aiding you in battle!" Rothion shouted proudly, facing down his opponents with a steely gaze.

"Rothion! Thank heavens!" Sophitia called out, ((But Rothion cannot possibly have enough skill to face both assassins… if only Siegfried were here, he could defeat them… oh Rothion, please, do not get yourself hurt…)), "Please, be careful!"

"One more will make little difference. Especially one of such lowly skill." Astaroth smirked, "Go, kill them all!" He bellowed to the assassins. As if commanded entirely by the words of the huge demon, the smaller, but no less deadly warriors lunged forward, lashing their blades out towards the young man blocking their way.

Rothion reacted immediately, throwing out a practiced shield-punch to knock aside the first assassin's strike, while sweeping his hand-forged blade down to neatly parry the second attack, pressed backwards by the force of the blows. Ducking under a third sweeping slash, Rothion thrust his blade forward, tight-lipped as he battled his two superior opponents with vivacity and determination. His target easily twisted its lithe, agile body aside, avoiding the lunge and swiftly cutting across the blacksmith's arm with a nasty backswing, adorning the fallen awning with a splatter of blood.

Rothion cried out in pain, stumbling back as he clutched the bleeding wound.

"Rothion!" Sophitia shouted in worry, careful to keep her eyes on Astaroth as she tried to edge her away around the massive warrior, desperately seeking a way to aid her family. Astaroth, fully aware of his position of advantage, kept in Sophitia's way, grinning cruelly and holding his axe at the ready, prepared to lop off the annoying woman's head at a moment's notice.

Crouching low and ripping a brutal slice across Rothion's leg, the second assassin pressed the attack, sweeping its blade upwards for the wounded smith's neck. Rothion haphazardly swung out his sword, barely knocking the falchion aside with a noise like a hammer hitting a stubborn nail, stepping back once again, almost colliding with Sophitia's father.

"I… ungh.. I will never give in!" Rothion shouted boldly through grunts of pain, despite his horrid wounds, ((They are… too skilled! How can this be happening? We cannot all die here! Has Hephaestus abandoned us?)) .

"Stay away from my FAMILY!" Achelous suddenly hollered, rushing forward, pot handle clenched in a tight, white-knuckled grip. Taking a massive swing and completely blind-siding one of the assassins, Achelous's pot collided with the deadly creature's head, ringing like a summer bell as yet another dent appeared in the uneven bottom of the steel cooking implement. Springing from his hands like a rabbit escaping a hunter, the pot flipped through the air to land with a clang, tumbling along the roof of the market bakery before dropping into a nearby alleyway.

((Now is my chance!)) Rothion's heart raced as he whirled around, swinging his blade in a wide arc towards the stunned assassin's neck. Recovering almost immediately, the assassin rolled backwards, Rothion's blade slicing along its shoulder and drawing an oozing line of blood. The second assassin wasted no time, bringing its blade swiftly up into Rothion's stomach in a horrid, leveraged slash.

Grunting in agony, Rothion doubled over in pain, clutching his wounded torso as the cruel demon pulled back its blood-covered blade. Falling to his knees, Rothion's entire body shook with fatigue and pain, barely holding together after the numerous cuts and slices that had been torn across his well-muscled figure.

"By Hephaestus! ROTHION!" Sophitia screamed, rushing towards her hideously wounded fiancé, her thoughts awash with fear and worry, ((Oh please, do not die, PLEASE, Rothion, DO NOT DIE!))

Astaroth let out a satisfied growl, stepped in the way and lashing out with a brutal hack towards Sophitia's face. The warrior woman ducked the attack, dancing under the battered axe and quickly rising in between Astaroth and the pair of heartless assassins. Taking a half-second to glance at her downed fiancé, Sophitia felt a brief sense of relief, ((Not dead… if we get help, perhaps Rothion may have a chance…)) then, raising her eyes to assess the tactical situation, realized she had put herself in a very poor position, as her three blood-lusted opponents faced her from all sides, ((What can I do? I cannot possibly defeat all three of them, alone…Oh Siegfried, where are you!)).

Suddenly, the heads of the three demons swiveled around, all six eyes instantly drawn to a hideous, deformed sword…

"Is this what you were looking for?" Siegfried called out derisively, pushing aside a piece of broken rubble with his foot, stepping over a fallen merchant's tent to place himself within reach of the terrible battle. "Well here it is. Come and GET it." Siegfried held up Soul Edge before him, as the weapon pounded with excitement from the proximity to its demonic minions. ((Shut up.)) Siegfried mentally scorned the evil weapon, pulling upon his immense feeling of disgust to help maintain control of the pulsating blade.

"Siegfried! Thank Hephaestus! Come, let us finish these demonic hellspawn!" Sophitia shouted to her companion, feeling renewed courage from his presence, overjoyed beyond words to see the blonde warrior join the fray. ((My prayers are answered!)) Somehow, the fact that she had prayed to be aided by the wielder of Soul Edge did not even occur to her pure, incorruptible mind.

Seeing the injured form of Rothion lying near an older man and woman nearby, Siegfried's thoughts quickly assessed the situation, ((If that's who she called out to a few seconds ago, that must be Rothion. He looks badly injured... If he is important to her, I MUST protect him! He will give her a bright, future, filled with happiness, caring, love...one that she deserves! I can't let him die here!)) Stepping forward, speaking words vastly different from those of the blacksmith a few minutes earlier, "I'm going to rip your lungs out and eat them for breakfast, you goddamn twisted bastards! You damn cowards, can't beat her unless you attack three against one? You make me sick!"

((We can do this! With Siegfried here, we can win!)) Sophitia pulled up her weapon, turning to face Astaroth, trusting Siegfried completely with the two assassins. "What now, devil? Do you think you can beat the both of us?" Sophitia said coldly, advancing upon the massive demon.

Achelous, kneeling over the wounded Rothion, hurriedly pulled the injured blacksmith back towards Nike, "Please, help my daughter!" He shouted to Siegfried.

((Parents? They're trying to kill her parents, and her fiancé? Everything that she cares about? For WHAT?)) "For this SWORD? You'd destroy everything she cares about for this GOD DAMN PIECE OF METAL! I'll give you this worthless, sickening blade! Right in your damned SKULL!" Siegfried charged forward, heart pounding wildly with rage, spinning Soul Edge around in front of him like an immense bladed staff. The assassins darted towards the armored warrior, one trying to snake its slender falchion in between the swooping blade. Catching the weapon with his own, Siegfried's whirling sword flung the assassin's blade aside, easily ripping it from the demon's injured arm, knocking apart a piece of aged pottery that had been set out on a table before the battle. Continuing his enraged assault, Siegfried whirled his blade up, deflecting a low slash from the second assassin, spinning around and using the force of his momentum to deliver a massive slash to the disarmed demon. Scrambling out of the way, the assassin was not fast enough to avoid the full force of the attack, Siegfried's blade cleaving through its arm and severing it at the shoulder. The beast screamed out in a hellish howl, curling up against a piece of rubble and futilely clutching at the wound while it gushed blood all over the cobbles of the now devastated market square.

Astaroth, losing himself to a fiery rage upon hearing Sophitia's well-placed words, lowered his head, rushing forward in a bull-like charge, trying to bowl right over the lighter warrior woman who stood against him. Sophitia dropped to the ground, spinning to deliver a powerful sweep to Astaroth's legs. The stalwart warrioress' graceful maneuver clipped the humongous demon from his feet, pitching him forward to slam hard into the rocks and stones that littered the market proper. Growling and shoving himself up with both hands, Astaroth rolled over and up onto his knees, swinging his axe around low in an attempt to cleave off Sophitia's foot at the ankle. Springing up over the attack, Sophitia flipped in the air, letting her heel slam into the demon's nose as he attempted to rise. Leaping up again, Sophitia followed with a brutal kick to Astaroth's jaw, breaking the already mangled bones in several more places as she spun in the air to land soundly several meters away.

Achelous and Nike, desperately pressing torn clothes to Rothion's awful wounds, watched, dumbstruck, as their daughter and her unlikely companion battled the demons skillfully, fending off attack after attack, returning with brilliant maneuvers the likes of which Sophitia's parents had never seen.

Raising his blade to deflect another of the remaining assassin's assaults, Siegfried lifted his foot to slam his opponent in the stomach, momentarily knocking the wind out of it. Stepping in close, the strong warrior slammed his gauntleted fist into the assassin's jaw, snapping its head back and knocking it straight into the air, sending it sailing for a few feet before falling hard onto its back. Angrily repressing Soul Edge's lust for power, Siegfried hauled his mighty weapon overhead, leaping into the air and bringing the huge sword down with both hands, burying the razor-sharp blade in the skull of the reeling assassin, nearly splitting the creature in two.

"You wanted it? NOW YOU HAVE IT!" Siegfried shouted in rage, wrenching the weapon out of the bloodied heap that lay at his feet. Then, he heard the voice of yet another warrior, one inexperienced, yet well-intentioned, call out across the market…

"Sophitia?" Cassandra shouted in surprise, panting as she finally arrived in the market square, ((Sophitia is here? She's come back!)). As her gaze swept over the devastation of the market, Cassandra soon noticed the disfigured form of the armored warrior she fought only minutes ago, approaching her sister from the flank. "Sophitia, WATCH OUT, BEHIND YOU! It's a DEMON!"

Hearing the voice of her beloved little sister call out a warning, Sophitia quickly turned her head, watching as Siegfried hauled his blade from the mangled corpse of his foe. Realizing immediately what her sister must believe, Sophitia turned back to face Astaroth, stating once, clearly, "No. Siegfried is my friend." ((I have no time to explain… I need to take Astaroth down before he has time to recover…)).

"IT'S TIME TO DIE, LITTLE GIRL! YOUR SOUL IS MINE!" Astaroth bellowed in an awful, rumbling voice, pulling back his axe and tightening his muscles, preparing to sweep a massively powerful attack upwards to chop into Sophitia's tender, unprotected stomach.

((Yes, I recognize this, just like before… )) Sophitia thought to herself, her warrior reflexes pulling her body to the side, as she lowered her blade, focusing her soul energy in a single, masterful blow. Sword coursing with flames, Sophitia concentrated, ((I can do this! Just like I used to! Hephaestus, grant me strength!)).

Pulling his huge cleaver-like weapon through the air, Astaroth levered the blade upwards for Sophitia's exposed gut, just as the warrior-woman stepped forward, whipping her blade up in an fiery dazzle of soul energy. Astaroth's huge axe sliced across the smooth skin of Sophitia's supple leg, as the woman's astounding, flaming blade ripped up through the hideous demon's stomach, chest, and up through his gullet, nearly decapitating the horrendous creature. Grabbing her leg and stumbling back a step, Sophitia kept watch closely as Astaroth's huge body toppled to the ground, landing with a thunder of noise as rocks and metal were broken and flung aside by his immense girth.

Panting, trying to catch her breath, Sophitia stood over the fallen corpse of Astaroth, not quite believing what she had just done. ((I did it… I beat him! For good? Is he gone?)) Warily keeping one eye on the disgusting being, half-expecting it to rise at any second, Sophitia quickly surveyed the situation to be sure there were no more threats. ((Siegfried is unhurt… thank the heavens…oh, but, Rothion!)) Hurrying over to where her parents knelt over Rothion, Sophitia checked for signs of life in the young blacksmith. ((He's still alive…)) "Help! We need help, can anyone hear?" she shouted out lamely. ((How could they hear us, they've all fled or… or been killed… oh Rothion, please, don't die…)).

Siegfried stood over the corpse of the assassin, stunned. Shocked. Apalled. Incredulous, even. ((….. Friend? Did she call me… a friend? How could that… how could that be?)).

"Sophitia, are you hurt?" Cassandra called out to her sister, quickly scrambling over the debris of the market square, finally coming within view of Rothion. Gasping, Cassandra was momentarily paralyzed, seeing the severity of the blacksmith's wounds. "Is he…?"

"No, he's alive." Sophitia said, "But we must get him help, soon!"

"And… what about…?" Cassandra said, looking cautiously at Siegfried, who was standing still over the corpse of his fallen foe.

Sophitia shook her head, "No, Siegfried is my friend, he is no demon."

((There it is again..!)) Siegfried thought, ((She said it again… I couldn't have imagined it!)).

"But… his arm?" Cassandra said, looking down at the hideously deformed appendage that held the demonic Soul Edge, "It's hideous, it's evil, I can feel it!"

Barely glancing at Siegfried's arm, Sophitia stated calmly, "An obstacle we will conquer. That is all." And she looked up at Siegfried himself, smiling briefly, "You always come to my aid when I need it. Thank you, Siegfried."

Her smile sending shivers down his spine, Siegfried's rage towards the demons quickly vanished, replaced by a strange, fluttery feeling… like, nervousness, somehow…"Yeah, whatever. What kind of pathetic dog would I be if I didn't come?" Looking over at Cassandra, Soul Edge's wielder smirked crudely, "I would have been here earlier, but I got hung up."

"I guess… I owe you an apology." Cassandra said, looking at Siegfried sheepishly. "I thought… I thought you were someone… uh, something else. I'm… uh, my name is Cassandra, I'm Sophitia's-"

Just then, in mid-speech, the assassin with severed arm, who had gone unnoticed during the greater part of the battle, snatched up his weapon with his uninjured hand, lunging towards the unexpecting Siegfried.

"Beware!" Cassandra yelped, leaping forward to tackle the bloody assassin, pulling the demon to the ground. "Why don't you just die?" She shouted, grabbing the cruel killer by the head and pulling back, placing her broken blade to its throat. Pushing and scratching with its single good arm, the demon struggled and kicked futilely as Cassandra wrenched her blade across its neck, severing it from its mortal coil. Tossing the corpse aside, the disgusted woman rubbed blood from her hands off onto her leggings, "Oh, gross…" looking around to see the surprised expressions of her friends and family.

Siegfried offered no more than a rude grunt as a thank you, his attention quickly turning to Rothion's badly injured body. "Talk later. Right now, we have to take care of your fiancé. Where can we bandage him? I'll carry him." The large warrior slung his massive blade over his shoulder, kneeling down beside Rothion's broken form.

"I can… I can walk…" Rothion murmured defiantly.

"No, you can't. Let him carry you." Sophitia said sharply, ((Don't be stubborn… I get enough of that with Siegfried…)).

Looking at the fallen blacksmith, Siegfried felt something tug inside him… something familiar, somehow. Some sort of… mutual pride. The pride of a man who was willing to give everything to save those he cared about. "Here. I'll help." Siegfried grunted gruffly, offering Rothion his natural arm, the arm untouched by the deformity of Soul Edge.

"But… Siegfried, he's too injured-!" Sophitia began, but was quickly cut off by Siegfried,

"No, he's strong. This will be faster." Siegfried said, as Rothion climbed to his feet, leaning against Siegfried.

"He's right, Sophitia. Do not fear, I will live. I assure you." Rothion said, smirking slightly.

"Very well…! So stubborn!" Sophitia said, annoyed with the two, but, at the same time, feeling immensely proud of Siegfried for all the aid he was offering. ((He is so kind at heart, even if he's terrible at showing it… so clumsy, but so innocent.))

"I'm going to see if anyone else needs help!" Cassandra said, bounding over a piece of rubble to scour the rest of the market for injured victims of Astaroth's heartless assault.

Sophitia nodded, "Right, I'll check over here." Tying a piece of canvas around her leg to staunch the bleeding, she began to limp to the south section of the market.

"No." Siegfried said angrily, ((Why must she always run off while injured? Does she want to make things difficult for me?)), "You will come with me. You," nodding rudely to Achelous, "Will bring her," nodding to Nike, "with us, then you'll go back and look for injured," Siegfried stated flatly, leaving no room for argument.

"Of… of course." Achelous said, reaching down to give his wife a hand up.

"How… how DARE…" Sophitia began, then, shaking her head, ((No, he's right, we need to take care of our own wounds or else we won't be able to help those who need us.)) "Yes, of course. You are correct."

"I know." Siegfried rolled his eyes, ((Fools…)).

Sophitia smiled inwardly, despite herself, ((He is so rude… why do I like it so much?)) as the five of them limped back towards Sophitia's house, seeking a place where they could take refuge and repair their wounds. ((We did it… thank Hephaestus, together, we did it… we protected them…))

….

((She called me friend... I am… I am Sophitia's friend…)) Siegfried thought to himself as he helped his only friend's fiancé to shelter, feeling happier than he had in a very, very long time…perhaps… happier than he had ever felt in his entire life.

End chapter 9.

Ha, how many of you thought I was going to kill Rothion? Eh, eh? No way, what a cop out. I have much more interesting plans for the Rothion/Siegfried/Sophitia conflict, which I'm probably going to solve somewhere in the next few chapters.

Lots of fighting this chapter and chapter 8, next one will be much more peaceful, as they rest in the village for a bit. It'll be a nice break. Hopefully I'll have time to write it up soon.

Author's note: This is not to say that I believe Cassandra is a poor character in game, I think she's a great character, but I am trying to be more realistic in this fanfic in terms of skill creep. Cassandra, this being her first real adventure outside of town, would be nowhere near the skill of Sophitia or Siegfried, who had been through entirety of Soul Blade and Soul Calibur by now. Cassandra is still certainly very skilled for her level of training, but she has nowhere near the experience of some of the other warriors, and I don't want to ignore that fact in this fic.