Okay, so I was surfing the 'Net, thinking about inconsistencies with my favorite Soul Caliber II character, then decided, "What the heck! I'll write 'em a fanfic anyway!" And so, this was born. Deal with it, or it'll go all Rosemary's Baby on ya.
Blue Eyes Blind
Azure eyes blinked contemptuously at the sun-glinting glass above, as the stained-glass windows of the once-vaunted chapel – miraculously still standing, after all that had befallen it – caught the light of the German mid-day.
Raphael Sorel, blue-eyed ex-scion of House de Sorel, had little time to appreciate the ruined aesthetics of this foreign land. When he'd set out on this journey, his only goal was to retrieve the so-called "cursed sword," return it to the half-mad, traitorous jackals who served his homeland as "nobles," and watch from a safe distance as they tore themselves to pieces; clearly, such a busy itinerary left no time for sight-seeing. Indeed, as he'd made his way through the Mittelburg Forest – on foot, for the undergrowth was enough to ensnare the most nimble-footed stallion – he'd seen quite enough of the "sights" to sate his palate; his search had led him first to the ruins of the old Ostrheinsburg Castle, moldering on a mountain-top like the beached carcass of a great gray whale. His search of the remaining buildings was tedious and in vain; he found nothing in the crumbling stonework but the dark-green lichen of the mountains, growing like a plague across flagstones stained with long-dry blood. And then, looking in frustration to the horizon, in an attempt to calm his seething temper, he'd noticed that flicker of colored light; the sure sign of stained-glass, marking what in any other place would be considered a House of God.
'Hn,' he'd thought, having lost his faith for near a decade, now. 'Nothing of any consequence.' And yet…
The people in the village below, when they'd heard of his intended destination, had tried to warn him away, spinning superstionist tales of spirits that haunted the mountains, and of the Devil that had plagued them in years past; "Beware!" they'd said, "Lest you share the fate of all who travel beneath the shadow of the fallen fortress, and the bell of the ruined chapel toll for you!" He'd more or less brushed their concerns aside, of course; any man of learning knew that these old wives' tales were meant to frighten children away from dangerous playgrounds, and thieves from potentially-ripe pickings. But there was the chapel, indeed still standing, and if – for as he recalled, the final battle that ended the "Demon Seed" incident took place in that chapel – if that were the case, then perhaps the sword he was seeking lay there… in the ruins of that once-vaunted "House of God."
And so, he'd climbed down the mountainside and started across the forest that separated the two peaks; this put him in a less-than-charitable mood, for after traipsing across half the known world, he was now being stymied by a few miles' worth of mountain-range. At last, however, he'd made it halfway up the side of this second, nameless mountain, which proved just as tall and craggy as the first; wary of what he would find at the summit, Raphael had paused to recover his breath, and to plot out his next move.
It would, no doubt, be simple enough. If the sword was indeed there, he would take it; if it were in the possession of someone else, he would defeat them and take it anyway. And if the sword were not there…
Raphael stood, taking up his Flambert anew with his gloved hand. He didn't want to contemplate what he would have to do if this arduous search left him empty-handed.
'The sword will be there,' he thought, half-climbing his way up the mountain's surface, a treacherous mix of loose soil overlying sharp-edged rock. 'It WILL…'
As he pulled himself up over the final ledge, Raphael was almost swept off again by a chilling gust of wind; managing, with some little effort, to regain his footing, he noticed for the first time how strangely complete the stained-glass was; though the roof and most of the walls were missing (one wall was entirely gone), the windows that remained were almost completely intact; they seemed to depict rows of figures in shining armor, apparently a representation of the armies which had once offered prayers here… for whatever good it had done them. Immediately following this cynical thought, he noticed that he wasn't alone; there was an actual figure in armor, a strange metal of mottled black, kneeling quixotically before the great rose-styled window… presumably where the chapel's alter had once been.
Raphael waited for the figure to raise its helmeted head and turn towards him, demanding the reasons for his presence or perhaps attacking without words, and yet… nothing. Perhaps, he thought, the person… creature?... is unaware of me; or perhaps it's hoping that I'll leave it alone. 'Little chance of that,' he thought. 'I believe you hold the sword I'm looking for; I'm not going to just let you be.' Scrutinizing the kneeling form, he realized that it seemed to be ever-so-slightly trembling; yes, Raphael was certain that his journey was near its end. After all, was not the cursed sword said to drain the life from those who would wield it?
Aloud, with a note of mockery in his clearly-carrying voice, he only said, "You're too weak for that… Aren't you?"
The figure half-started, then rose to its feet and turned to him; it was taller than he'd expected, and Raphael took an involuntary step back as the blazing-red eyes within the horned helmet fastened on him. In it's gauntleted hand it carried an immense sword, one whose veined appearance seemed almost organic, one which bore a single red eye in its hilt; there was no doubt in Raphael's mind that this was the cursed sword, the fabled Soul Edge, and that this monstrous suit of armor was his final obstacle to retrieving it. His metal-clad opponent spoke with a rasping voice that was male, though apparently having become rusty from disuse; in a tone of something like anger, it growled, "You wretched, conceited human! Do you want to die so badly?"
"Not at all, but there IS something else you can help me with," retorted Raphael, voice light even as he shifted into a defensive stance. "I want that sword you're carrying… and unless you simply hand it over, I'm perfectly willing to destroy you to get it."
"Many have tried," came the voice, hefting the great sword and bringing it to bear, "but none have succeeded for long. I will show you… the greatest nightmare…"
"And I," replied Raphael, making a falsely-languid bow in the monsters direction, "will put you out of your misery."
His cavalier attitude was quickly dissipated, though, when a moment later the massive blade came at him, half-thrown, and he was forced to leap aside to prevent his legs from being severed. Crouched defensively on the crumbling flagstones, the sunlight filtering through the stained-glass to cast a multicolored sheen over his form, Raphael re-evaluated his opponent. Definitely not one to take lightly… but the sword and armor combine made for a ponderous pace. He could definitely turn this to his advantage…
And as the wielder of Soul Edge turned towards him, eyes blazing redly, Raphael realized that he had no other choice.
What seemed like hours later, the battle was still a stalemate; while Raphael was far too quick for anything but a glancing blow to impact, a glancing blow from the Soul Edge could break bones, and he was only lucky that he was yet intact. Also, the armor that covered the Knight of the Cursed Sword was apparently unbreachable; it barely showed sign of wear, and there was little chance that Raphael's Flambert could somehow pierce that protective shield. For his part, Raphael was growing tired of dancing about like a thrice-damned mayfly, and he knew that, if that battle wasn't concluded soon, his lifespan would be only marginally longer than that of the notoriously short-lived insect.
And then, as Raphael rolled out of the way, the Soul Edge became embedded in the ancient stone of the chapel, and Raphael saw his opening; literally, in fact, as the horned helmet of the creature had been knocked askew during the battle, and now revealed a bare slit of reptilian-esque skin. His body reacted while his mind was still weighing the consequences, and even as the monster pulled Soul Edge from the floor, gravel flying, Raphael thrust the tip of his rapier between the shields of metal. There was the brief rasp of steel on steel as the sword slid between helmet and armor, sinking into the soft flesh within; the monster noted Raphael, with a small dose of satisfaction, was at least human enough to bleed.
With a cry of agony that seemed to shake the very stones, the dark knight began thrashing as though in the midst of a fit, and the flat of Soul Edge caught Raphael in the stomach, knocking him – rapier in hand – across the battlefield to crash roughly into a stone wall; dazed and winded, almost certain of a broken rib or two, Raphael slid to the base of the wall, only half-watching as the sword was released and skidded back towards the chapel's head. Slowly, the creatures cries of pain quieted, becoming less and less monstrous as they faded, until at last only an eerie silence filtered through the broken chapel.
Blinking the haze from his eyes, Raphael reached for his Flambert, where it had clattered loudly next to him, and pulled himself to his feet; he swayed a moment before regaining his balance, and was surprised to see that the dark knight's struggles had removed it's helmet… apparently in a futile attempt to staunch the bleeding. Sword in hand, he approached the still form, the person inside now revealed to be a young man; his open eyes were blue, clouded and sightlessly staring into the equally-azure sky, and his length of dark-blond hair was now stained a rusty-red from the blood still pumping sluggishly from his pierced-through throat. Raphael blinked in momentary bewilderment; he hadn't expected the dread Nightmare to be so… young.
His bewilderment, however, was only momentary. This man was dead; Raphael still had much to do. Kneeling beside the still form of his fallen opponent, Raphael closed those sightless eyes with his free hand: "You, perhaps, have failed," he murmured, rising. "I, however… will not."
With those words, he took quick and assured strides towards the sword, which lay on the stones not three yards away; he was but five or six steps away when there was suddenly a blinding flash of light, which made him turn away, and a blast of heat that alerted him at once to the way that something was very, very wrong…
When he found that he could seen again, he was immediately confronted with a black-and-red landscape, where the stones were heated until they ran like red-hot rivers around his feet; this accounted for the oppressive heat – or perhaps it was the other way around – and Raphael was half-expecting to burst into flames. When he returned his gaze to where the sword should have been, his eyes widened as he beheld what had taken its place… This, most definitely, was a monster, only human in the most rudimentary of ways, and with a glowing ball of energy where a person's torso would be. And within that energy-sphere, only barely visible, was the cursed sword itself.
Raphael watched as the creature burst into flames, and it suddenly occurred to him that, when he'd first sworn to retrieve the sword or die trying, he hadn't known he might be dying in Hell. And yet, he'd come this far; his lips twisted into a wry grin as he readied his blade. "So this is the origin of the evil sword… How entertaining."
The creature descended to the earth, and a spurt of liquid flame ran along one arm before reforming into a perfect replica of Raphael's own Flambert. It mimicked Raphaels opening position exactly, even down to the impatient flick of the "wrist," and Raphael scowled. "So you're playing it that way, eh? En garde!"
His opening lunge was parried, carrying him past his opponent; pivoting, Raphael dove for the energy-sphere on its chest, but the creature moved and he only pierced it through the "side." He withdrew quickly as the creature screeched in pain; the heat it was giving off was so intense that he feared his weapon would melt. Miraculously, it remained intact, and Raphael went in for another try.
Some time later, Raphael was still trying to make contact between his weapon and that glowing sphere; things were only getting worse for him, as the heat was quickly inflicting incredible amounts of fatigue. He was stumbling more and more often, as the flames danced dizzyingly before his eyes, and it was some kind of miracle that he hadn't yet been skewered on the demonic replica of his own beloved sword.
There comes a time, in the course of a battle, when a fighter knows that the end is near; one way or another, the fight will soon be over, and there's only just enough time left to try the last trick in their book. For Raphael, this revelatory moment had come, and in a flash – for a second can feel like eternity, in a situation such as his – he knew that he'd been left with only decision. He threw all of his flagging strength behind one final lunge, and as the creature moved to counter it, ducked under the mock-Flambert, driving the silvered steel blade of his own weapon through the energy-sphere and up to the hilt.
The creature roared as Raphael fell away, exhausted; he collapsed to the rocky, fiery ground, gasping for breath as the air seemed to super-heat and become too thick for his lungs. In the corner of his eye, he could see the howling puppet rise into the air again, this time as though a marionette pulled into the air by it's strings; he was too busy trying to force himself to breathe, though, to care very much… until the creature gave a final, earth-shattering screech and burst into another flash of blinding light.
Almost immediately, the air cooled down to normal levels; inhaling the chill mountain air, Raphael nearly collapsed in relief. After he'd forced his pulse to return to an almost-normal rhythm, he looked around to where the beast had been; embedded in the ground was his own Flambert, but somehow changed… As Raphael got to his feet and approached, he noted that there was a second Flambert lying on the ground behind it, and that the first sword featured strange red veins tracing their way from the hilt to the blade, and a yellow topaz planted firmly in it's hilt. He quickly realized that, while the second sword was his own rapier, the first was Soul Edge itself; the ancient tomes he'd discovered in that nobles library indicated that the sword would change shape to reflect it's current owner. "Well, well," he managed, grinning despite the hoarseness in his voice, "This is certainly worth fighting for, I'd say." He knelt to recover his own sword first, then sheathed it and grasped the hilt of the Soul Edge; a thrill ran through him, akin to the spark of electricity produced by those electric lamps, and he pulled the sword from the stones in one swift, fluid movement. He examined the weapon closely, watching approvingly as electric-blue currents of energy ran along the blade, and nodded in satisfaction.
"Indeed. This is surely the end of those scrabbling dogs. And now, to return to Aimee, and my beloved home."
Unbeknownst to Raphael, even as he reveled in the impending downfall of those who would see him dead, the sword in his hands flowed with electric-blue flames… and his eyes flared with azure light in reply.
A/N: This was intended as a one-shot, but may be continued; I'm not really sure, yet. I do, however, know that I haven't plyed SCIII, but already hate his re-design. Plus, I'm no big fan of the "vampire" thing, which apparently he is... but I digress.
Read. Review. It'd make me happy. Please?