Disclaimer: I don't own Devil May Cry, nor do I own Mithras or Virgilius.
This is my contribution to the Holiday Fic Contest/ Challenge, which is to write a holiday-themed DMC fanfiction (any winter holiday) before Feb. 1st. I'm running the contest, and invite all of you to enter. Just Private Message me to inform me of entries.
Information on Mithras came from Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, and a cliff notes version of the stories of Virgilius can be found, along with stories about other ancient magicians, in A Cavalcade of Magicians edited by Walck. I could do better research, but I'm not going to. My excuse is that most of the records of the invasion were destroyed.
I'm using Virgilius because I like him and wanted to do something on the human view of the Sparda story without using OCs. If I do my version of Mundus' war, I'll be doing more with him.
The maidens led the bull to the alter, where the priest chanted and made ready the sacrifice. The crowd watched.
A soldier's rite, why were there so many women here? An entire generation of young men had fallen in the war. In the end, the only one left with the right powers to help with the seal had been a woman. His own powers were demonic magic and had been no use. He'd only been an escort in that final race against time, to seal the dark tower.
"Why do you continue to worship Mithras? Mithras fell early in the war. And you do not have many bulls to spare."
"Why do you keep following me?" Probably not the wisest thing to say to a demon that had almost killed him so many times, ally or not.
In the old days, 'Sparda' would be hailed as a god now, but too many had died for his kind to have their old status. Even the gods that had survived resisting Mundus, their followers were drifting away. Too few here… too many good men gone. And women. "You know I would kill you if I could, savior or not."
"You intrigue me. A human who outwitted a demon and stole his power, not driven mad by it. The greatest defender of this city."
Virgilius snorted. "It wasn't that difficult. 'But you're such a grand being, how could you have been imprisoned in such a small hole?' Your people aren't as much above us as they say they are."
"Hubris, to challenge the gods." Dux Atrum Desparo, the Dark Commander who brought despair, was looking at him out of a copy of his own face, the only difference darker clothes (Imperial purple! But even now the emperor would not dare challenge him) and strange reversed eyes, black where they should have been white and white where there should have been color.
"You're the traitor here, not me." Even though he and the last emperor had had occasional… differences over taxation and taking cuts from his mother being cheated out of her rightful due. Involving armies.
"You fear me, yet you don't run."
Virgilus snorted. "I ran many times. It's called a strategic retreat."
"You would kill me if you could."
His fist clenched. "You killed my wife."
"I killed a lot of people." The throat of the bull was cut, there on the throne, held by Lady Febrilla. His first love. Her betrothed had been a general, well behind the lines but that hadn't helped when a Phantom had called down hellfire. She hadn't even glared at him as she'd walked by leading the bull. Such a stupid little spat that had been, she leaving him halfway up the side of the building, him doing that thing with every fire in the city and her dress…
So petty it seemed now. Little things had mattered so much, before the war. "And I tried to seal you, after we escaped the tower. Seal you in the tower with the rest of the demons there. I've sealed a lot of demons. I failed."
"I am on your side. You were the one who said to trust me."
"What option did we have, with the granaries almost exhausted and the fields burnt five years running? With our armies dead and our allies fallen one by one?" His father-in-law had been eaten while the Hanging Gardens fell.
"Why do you have this feast, when there is so little?"
"Because you didn't win. Now go away, hero or not no one wants you here, assassin." So many questions. Something he wanted to kill wanting him to give it information.
"They do not dare to drive me away."
A bitter pill to swallow. "No one left with the strength." The bull was being butchered for the feast to come. There was a celebration. "We're celebrating. We've won. There's been nothing else to celebrate in years. We're still starving, there's no one alive who hasn't lost someone to battle or slavery, but it's over."
"You still worship one of my kind, despite all Mundus' forces did."
"Mithras was our god. He fought bravely. We will not forget him." Virgilius turned to him. "The soldiers of Rome will not forget him. The world will not forget that we fought your kind, we fought the gods, and we won. People may be turning away from the gods that are left, to worship false gods, human gods, but Mithras will not be forgotten, this victory feast will not be forgotten. A millennia from now, there will still be rejoicing on this day, there will still be feasting and gifts in celebration. There will still be joy and the blessings of the gods, not the endless grief and starvation you wished to bring down upon us."
His own face regarded him. "Gifts of goodwill."
Virgilius paused, then turned away. "Stay, then, if you want another mad widow trying to kill you."
"It was …irritating to not kill her."
"We'll see how long your oath lasts."
"We shall see how long this day remains." People were carefully staying away from them as they streamed toward the feast.
"Longer than your oath."
"Perhaps." Virgilius could sense Dux Atrum (he would always be that to him, the one whose scythe smashed through the wall and his wife) prepare to change his form.
Not his true one, not here! There would be panic, and in this crowd…
Hair turned silver, eyes blue. "You look like a northern barbarian, only no beard."
"I though I would cease to mimic you." There was enough space around them Virgilius could see that shadow now. Winged. "A gift."
His shadow had always been like that no matter what form he took, spying. A clue the fool humans would not see. Mocking them. Even Virgilius had never noticed until too late. Plans overheard, wards unlocked from the inside…
"Bring me back my wife, and then I might feel goodwill towards you." Virgilius snorted, and turned away. Commander of the city's magical defenses or no, he hadn't eaten more than his troops, and they hadn't been fool enough to weigh themselves down with food, daring the tower Temen ni Gru itself.
"It is too late, I cannot do that."
"You brought back the priestess."
"She died on the spot, her spirit was still there."
"Her spirit would not abandon me."
Sparda stayed silent.
"No matter what you do for us, you still helped kill thousands. You think we can be bribed with gifts? Maria is the hero here: her name will be remembered with glory this day, not yours."
Sparda was still silent. The hill was almost deserted, except for the priests butchering the bull. The gods would receive their portion, the humans the meat.
"Gods…" Virgilius bit back his words. "Come to the feast."
"You invite me?"
"You were part of our victory. And this is a day all should celebrate."
Those strangely calm eyes, eyes like a lion he had seen in the arena, power and nobility and inhuman wisdom. "Thank you."
"…thank you." Virgilius had to force the words out, but they had to be said. "Thank you for not stealing my form any more."
"Thank you for letting me stay."
Virgilius snorted. "As though we could force you to leave. I simply do not want another battle today." He'd had enough of battles. Enough of battles he could not win, a war humanity could not.
But the gods had been defeated. Locked away from the world. Except for this one. "You should have gone back to your own kind."
"You intrigue me."
"Curiosity all that saved us?" He laughed. "Well then. Any victory is better than none."
"Strength is all. Or so our customs say."
"You don't have anything to prove to anyone, then. Least of all to powerless humans. Why do you want to stay?"
"Why would I want to abandon power? You know that seal sapped my own strength."
"And I still couldn't defeat you."
Bells were ringing and the songs from the chorus clashed with drinking songs from inside. "It's the festival of Mithras. The soldier's festival. I'm sure he wouldn't begrudge you it." Virgilius turned to go inside.
"I shall remember this."
Another laugh. "You'd better. I hate you, you know that."
"I can taste it."
"Drink your fill then, there's more where that came from."