Did I just die for 50 years? I promise more updates after next week. Exams.

Chapter 7

"Open up!" Raphael screamed as he landed a foot on the door. He could feel the blood trickling onto his hands and arms, life leaving the woman he loved. Warm, wet blood. He saw crimson everywhere. Cassandra choked, and spurted out blood from her mouth. Sophitia opened the door and nearly died of shock. She was the only one at home for the children had gone to school while Rothion was smithing weapons.

Raphael charged through, his head whipping around to find a bed. He saw one, and he gently but quickly laid Cassandra on it. His hands were smeared-no, not smeared, drenched-with blood.

"Raph-"Sophitia had scarcely said one syllable before the Frenchman had dashed out, the door swinging on its hinges and banging wildly. Raphael sprinted down into the fields, and searched fervently. Finding the plant, he tore it out from the roots and raced back to the house, shouting, "Hot water! Hot water!"

Sophitia had barely managed to fill up a wooden basin before it was snatched out of her hands. She heard vaguely an "Ow!" from Raphael as splashes of hot water nicked him. Raphael gently laid the basin on the floor, then tore the leaves up and let it soak. After a few seconds, he grabbed the leaves and crushed them into smaller pieces. Raphael hesitated, before sliding Cassandra's garment down, just exposing her shoulder wound. Raphael grabbed the leaves and placed them in a circle around Cassandra's bloody wound. His superb, in-depth knowledge of medicine told him these plants would cool down the wound, preventing swelling, and also rapidly heal the wound.

"Bandage," Raphael snapped, and suddenly a roll of bandages was in his hand. Carefully, gingerly, he wrapped them slowly around the wound. He would remove the healing leaves the next day. Raphael trailed a finger over his eyebrow, and suddenly, like magic, sweat slicked his finger. He looked into Cassandra's face, willing her to heal, to live. He stared for a long time before Sophitia cleared her throat and said, "I don't expect you're going to tell me what happened?"

"Bandits," said Raphael shortly, not reverting his gaze from Cassandra. He seemed too entranced in staring at her face. There was a glazed look about him, as if it had been his fault. Raphael mused silently…perhaps it had been.

Thirty kilometers away, a storm was raging violently. Two young men, were struggling to maintain their balance. "Argh! Damn this storm!" the older one shouted, a pair of nunchakus flailing wildly from his hands. The older one, with a pole across his chest, adjusted his feet with rapid vicissitudes of movement. "I knew we should have bought a better boat…I thought a great pirate like Maxi would be able to handle a situation like this…" he sighed.

The one named Maxi growled and held on to a side of the boat. He desperately tried to steer the rudder, but it was like attempting to shove a full ship. The boat swerved dangerously-
"Careful, Maxi!" a shout rang out.

"I know what I'm doing, Kilik!-WOAH!" The boat started rocking vigorously, like a snake trapped in a livewire. With one almighty groan of splintering wood and splashing water, the boat slowly flipped over. Maxi and Kilik were dumped unceremoniously into the roaring waves which crashed over their heads. Intermittent raindrops were hardly felt as cold wrapped themselves around the two. Maxi grabbed for the overturned boat and pulled his head out of the water. Kilik was already treading water.

"Yeah Maxi, you had no troubles at all…you absolutely knew what you were doing!" Kilik yelled over the tumultuous cheering of the waves, sarcasm resonating in each syllable. Maxi doused his head in the ice-cold water, preferring not to answer.

He spat a profanity and said, "I'm bleeding. Must have been a splinter of wood which scratched…uh…KILIK! Get onto the boat quick!" Kilik was astonished and leapt quickly onto the overturned boat, almost losing his balance. Maxi vaulted up and pointed in the distance. A shark's fin could clearly be seen, lit up along the horizon. And it was approaching...its silhouette carrying a definite air of menace and intent.

"Shark's fin soup for dinner!" yelled Maxi happily as he leapt into the water, nunchakus whirring like a pair of well-oiled synchronized machines. The shark gaped and lunged, and Maxi met its mouth with a bitter blow to the jaw. The shark shook in the water and lunged under water…circling Maxi. Kilik stretched out Kali-Yuga and sent a thrusting strike into the shark's open mouth. Maxi then grabbed the shark by its head and held it above water. His nunchakus were everywhere, beating and hurting; the shark twitched once and fell limp in Maxi's hands. Bright red blood spread over his hands and dissolved under the bite of the waves.

They swam to shore, a rowdy pair of young men, carrying the shark. Maxi wondered if they would ever find the guy who had previously encountered Soul Edge. His name was Raphael Sorel, right?

Cervantes was a blazing inferno of power, with flames licking out at objects standing in his way. His red eyes glowed with pure malevolence. He mouthed a word. "Soon…soon…"