"How does it feel to watch your brother's torment?" The voice rang throughout the huge chamber, deep and tumultuous, like a wave breaking in a storm. It drew Vergil's mind slowly back to the present. Still he couldn't tear his eyes away from the pool of red liquid at his feet and the image swimming on the surface of his brother, body chained, burned and beaten as he slid into unconsciousness.
Vergil knew however, that silence or distaste could cost him his life so he set steel in his gaze and glanced away from the seeing pool to the foot of the gigantic marble statue that stood against the back wall of the room.
"We have not been brothers for a long time," he replied callously although his tone held an air of wistfulness. He raised an eyebrow, let his lips quirk downwards as though the very thought of being related to the other half-demon was distasteful to him. "What do you intend to do with him?"
From somewhere above there was a rumbling laugh. Vergil understood this was a test, to see if the proximity to his twin that the eldest son of Sparda had recently endured had weakened his will. If he had been affected by insipid human emotion enough to rekindle some kind of brotherly love for his twin. Mundus clearly had not quite believed that Vergil had destroyed the bond he had with his brother all on his own; let it wash away amidst the thunder storm atop Temin-Ni-Gru. But valor remained important to Vergil and the knowledge that Mundus would play these dishonorable games irked him. Dante had been tortured purely for Vergil's benefit and somewhere deep down something inside the elder twin recoiled at the thought. And Lady… why had she been included? Did Mundus possibly think he could possess feelings for her as well? He could only admire the woman's skill, her fierce loyalty to his brother – she wasn't a part of this…
"I didn't think you cared," the voice replied accusatorially. Vergil didn't know what he disliked more, that he was conversing with Mundus or that the demon had never chosen to reveal himself beyond the form of a huge marble statue. Not since their battle anyway, and Vergil barely remembered it, he hadn't been powerful enough and the demon king had beat him down in minutes. It had been foolish to think he could ever best Mundus without his father's power. Not that it mattered exactly what form Mundus chose to take. His demonic presence buzzed like static throughout the chamber, cloying at the back of Vergil's mind. The son of Sparda could no longer remember whether Mundus' omnipotence in the lower circles of Hell was truly that or merely some parasite that had been implanted in his own consciousness. Mundus was there constantly, and Vergil was forever checking himself, until his little escapade back into the human world he had almost forgotten that it was an act.
Vergil smiled at the corner of his mouth as he turned bodily to look up into the face of the demon king. "I merely want the satisfaction of killing him with my own hands."
There was silence a moment as the demon King considered his Knight's proposal. Vergil could feel the evil in the air; it hung thick and heavy like a leaden cloak weighing him down, probing into his mind. He wished he could shake the thought off, but he knew any sign of discomfort could cost him his life. Vergil also knew that whatever evil he could possibly consider, the torment that Mundus would put him through went beyond anything he could imagine. The same went for whatever they would do to Dante. Perhaps it was better that he was human now, Dante might die quickly, or from a mere infection. His brother would not have to suffer the fate that Vergil had endured at any rate, the one that truly made him fear the King of Hell's wrath.
"I think it is only fitting that my Nelo Angelo dispatches the son of the treasonous Sparda." The voice spoke, satisfied that his well-trained pet had not been spoiled by a taste of freedom.
Nelo Angelo black angel… he had often wondered if Mundus was being ironic in some way, if the name was an insult to his demonic heritage. It was not like the King of Hell to be poetic and besides Vergil had never fallen from grace, his blood had always been demonic, through and through. At least until now…
"There is just the matter of my powers being returned to me," Vergil spoke keeping his tone level his eyes void of emotion. Did Mundus suspect all along that Vergil would attempt to usurp him? Was that why he had insisted that Vergil be stripped of his powers along with his brother? Even after being tormented by Mundus for what felt like years Vergil didn't understand what went on in the demon's head. Mundus was cruel beyond reason; the epitome of demonic evil and Sparda had given him plenty of reasons to want to destroy his bloodline. But perhaps the truest insult to the Dark Knight's memory was his replacement; his son at Mundus' side, a loyal servant.
"And you will have them," the Demon King replied. "But first I have one more test for you."
"Anything Master," Vergil replied trying not to sound too eager. He loathed carrying out the demon's commands, but it was the only way to get his powers back. Still there was a fear uncurling at the back of his mind that he understood what Mundus would ask of him.
"Your brother will be dead soon," Mundus said a hint of regret in his voice – but not for Dante's life, merely that he would lose a new plaything so quickly. "We have no more use of the human. Dispose of her."
Dante was starving, he wondered if the hunger pangs had been enough to pull him back to consciousness. His mouth was impossibly dry and his breath rasped painfully across his chapped lips. He lay for a while drifting in and out of consciousness until finally his mind moved beyond the hunger, to the fact he was no longer strung up. Although his limbs ached, he was mercifully, laying on the hard stone floor. He pressed his aching cheek into the cool stone his mind unable to account for the sources of pain which sent tingling agony up his spine. He wanted to sleep, to pass out again, but the hunger gnawed at the pit of his stomach like a wild animal keeping him from falling back into feverish sleep. It was only after minutes of laying still concentrating on his own shallow breathing that he felt the softest brush of fingertips against his scalp… someone was slowly running their fingers through his hair.
Had Dante been in possession of more energy he would have scrambled to his hands and knees. As it was he barely managed to move his aching head, to rasp out some quizzical sound, which didn't quite form into coherent words. His eyes fluttered, the room was dim and his face felt swollen, even trying to gauge his surroundings proved exhausting.
The hand stopped moving, drew back. "Dante?"
Lady's voice was hesitant, almost afraid; Dante was only just beginning to recall why.
Dante groaned, closed his eyes, his whole body stung, every nerve flared at the slightest movement. His limbs felt impossibly stiff; his head was light and the room span as he tried to move, to sit up. He didn't get very far. His hands were shackled before him and the weights were leaden on his wrists an impossible heaviness. Instead he attempted to roll his body to shift towards the huntress, but even the slightest movement to turn his face upwards and pain rippled across his chest. The burned skin, red raw, cracked as he moved, the barely healed wounds threatening to tear open again. A pathetic sound of pain passed his lips and he hated himself for it. Pride was meant to be Vergil's sin, but Dante was proud; he didn't want Lady seeing him so… weak.
"Just stay still," Lady hissed alarmed, her voice quaked at the end, as though she were fighting down an onslaught of emotion.
Dante squeezed his eyes shut, enough to hurt his blistered cheek, opened them again. Nothing changed. The room was not the one from earlier. This one was smaller, cooler and darker the air filled with moisture which was at least soothing to his burned skin. He felt the cool steel chaffing his wrists, tested any mobility he had in his arms and heard chains chink against the stone floor.
"Dante you shouldn't move," Lady's voice was close by, but not close enough. She hadn't moved towards him, her outstretched hand returned caressed his shoulder, he felt the tension in her fingertips… Finally Dante found the strength to turn his head, to roll towards the ceiling enough to see that they were held in separate cells, that she was stretching through the bars between them. In the dim light of a torch, which flickered a few cells down, her expression was haunted. Her hand fell slowly, retracted as she took in his wounded face, his blood flecked hair. She swallowed hard obviously fighting down some onslaught of emotion, he wondered idly why she wasn't chained up like he was. Dante knew somewhere in his subconscious mind that he could barely move, couldn't fight, couldn't even run…
"You should stay still," Lady repeated her voice filled with worry, her bi-coloured eyes shining.
"W-what?" His voice cracked, throat dry, Dante hated himself for it.
"You lost a lot of blood," Lady replied trying to keep her voice measured. She swallowed hard, blinking back tears. Theo had left the demon slayer hanging there for what seemed like ages until she begged him to cut the man down. When he finally did there was a significant pool of blood at the base of the crude wooden X. Theo had let her run to Dante, had reveled in her pathetic attempts to dress his wounds with the fabric of her shirt-sleeves. Eventually the demon had thrown some rags at her and Lady had done the best she could with the minimal supplies not caring about Theo's motives just knowing that Dante would not survive without some kind of treatment. And even then the job had been poor the equipment dirty… he was just as likely to die of infection as he was blood-loss. When Lady had finished she had been dragged to her cell not far from what she assumed had been a torture chamber. Dante had been deposited roughly in his own not much later, chained up despite the fact he stood no chance of escape. Trapped and left alone in the darkness Lady had given in to despair and wept, had after some hours come to accept the fact that the demon slayer could die from shock and had finally reached through the bars to stroke his hair to will him better.
Despite her warnings the demon slayer moved to push himself up, planting one hand solidly against the ground the chains clinking. The exertion nearly caused him to pass out again.
"Dante stay still," her voice sounded pathetic, he wouldn't listen to her.
The demon slayer's arm trembled as he forced himself onto his side, he teetered forwards, caught himself with his other hand teeth clenched around a groan. He would not allow Lady to see the agony merely attempting to sit up caused him. Slowly, steadily he focused all his energy into each movement until, despite Lady's protest he could slump against the bars separating them. The chains about his wrists clanged, restricting his movements so that he had to lean his arms towards the center of the small cell where the chain was bolted securely to the floor. Pathetic. These chains should be in pieces around him, each breath shouldn't cause searing pain to race across his chest… he shouldn't be so weak, but even sitting caused his head to swim. Of course the manacles were only designed to humiliate him further, Lady remained unbound, Dante didn't possess the strength to escape, he doubted he could stand.
Lady reached a hand through the bars, placed it gingerly on his shoulder. "Dante…"
"Don't worry about me," Dante said feeling helpless, hating that merely speaking seemed hard. His head was swimming from fatigue. He had never known how far his demonic abilities extended. Before he could go without food for days – not that he ever chose to. Now he felt the emptiness of his stomach almost as acutely as his wounds. Every breath he took was painful, his body screamed for sleep. The hunter let his eyes drift shut head resting back into the cool steel behind him.
Lady sighed. She wanted to make him feel better and didn't know what to say. Her mind wandered searching for something, anything to make the situation seem less desperate.
"I haven't seen him," Lady replied wishing she could give him better news.
Dante took a breath, shifted slowly so that he could glance sideways at her through the bars. He had turned just enough, his right shoulder pressing into the cool metal, enough for Lady to see the ugly wound carved into Dante's chest. His skin was black and blue or burned a horrible scarred red. In the dim light of the moon the letters stood out an eerie black against his abused skin.
She couldn't help the gasp which escaped her lips. Her bi-coloured eyes stared into his own blue ones now glassy and distant from fatigue. She bit her lip and rocked back on her heels, her brows furrowing in concern eyes shining with the threat of tears.
"Don't look at me like that," Dante admonished breaking from her gaze. It was bad; he knew it was bad from her face. He glanced downwards at the word carved into his skin and shuddered. The smell of burning flesh was still stuck in the back of his throat.
"Like what?" Lady asked softly feeling helpless, hating herself for it.
The corner of Dante's mouth quirked into a sardonic smile. "Like I might break." He raised an eyebrow and caught her eye again. This time she beheld some glimmer of life there. "Seriously, I will bring this up every time I owe you money."
Lady laughed inadvertently and sniffed, she couldn't help the wan smile from spreading across her lips. But she didn't know what to say. She'd never seen Dante so broken – it wasn't just his injuries – his pride had been destroyed in those last few moments and she'd watched it happen. She knew that being unable to defend her and himself had wounded the demon slayer more deeply than he would admit.
"Lady you have to try and get out", Dante said, voice husky and dry. He tested the chains once again; his wrists were going numb from the strain. "The first chance you get you have to escape."
"I'm not leaving you," Lady replied forcefully, eyes burning. "We'll find a way out."
Dante drew in a slow breath as though to calm himself. She could hear as it wavered, his shoulders hunched forward as the pain of breathing strained across his chest. "Lady, look at me," he gestured weakly to the wounds; his hand lingered over the word carved into his flesh. Every moment of conscious realization seemed to be torture to Dante, every moment he remembered that he had succumbed to pain. "I can't fight like this, I can't protect you, they're going to kill me-"
"Don't say that," Lady did reach out this time and grabbed his hand through the bars, pressing it into her own. She wanted him to be okay, she just wanted him back to normal.
"Lady," Dante paused, took a breath tried to quell the panic that rose in him as he thought about what they would do to her now he had given away just how much she meant to him. "We're not exactly in the position to be optimistic about this…" The ghost of a smile painted his lips. "It was never going to end well and I've always been fine with that". Not like this though. With his demonic powers Dante would have gone down fighting, not succumbed to his wounds, chains would not have held him down. Lady felt the grip on her hand tighten. "But I cannot die knowing what might happen to you…"
Lady was silent, his face had gone deadly serious, his blue eyes suddenly intense with raw emotion.
"I cannot watch that… that demon… I can't…"
His voice trailed off, he closed his eyes unable to look at her and fighting down a fresh wave of shame. No matter how much physical pain he felt nothing could compare to the torture of watching demons destroy someone you loved. His eight-year-old self had watched his mother suffer from their torment; he could not see that happen to Lady, who he had protected, watched over, like a sister, for so long, even when she laughed at him for doing so.
Lady understood his fear; she felt it for herself, for both of them. The shame she felt when Theo touched her, that she hadn't been able to stop him… Lady realised that it wasn't just Dante's pride that was suffering.
"You have to get out," Dante said steadying his voice; he was so close to begging her. "Vergil is still here somewhere, Theo would have told me if they'd killed him. Lady even if you don't leave you can find him."
"Lady," Dante cut her off, looked her in the eye, his grip on her hand was impossibly tight.
"Even if I could escape…"
"Promise me you'll try," Dante said softly, he wouldn't beg, but his eyes were pleading. "They want me, they will use you to get to me."
Lady knew it was true, the only reason she was still alive had been so that Theo possessed something to bargain with if Dante put up a fight. Now he could neither pick a fight nor win one. She let her eyes rove over his seared flesh. The wound on his chest had been cauterized by the flames and hadn't needed much in the way of treatment in comparison to the gouge in his thigh, the inflamed side of his face where dried blood still glittered in the torchlight. His hair was stained a dark red just above his temple his lip and eye swollen. Lady knew as she looked at him that she would never leave him in Hell, no matter how adamant he was that he didn't care. She had always known that he didn't, it wasn't out of some suicidal wish, but Dante's indifference to his own wellbeing was what gave Dante his edge. He had never cared one way or another; he was just along for the ride.
Still, seeing him now, wounded, rapidly losing hope that he could even attempt to escape. That bothered her. The sons of Sparda didn't give up easily, but Dante appeared to have admitted defeat. She felt the emotions balling in the back of her throat again and tried to calm herself. Hell was taking its toll on her as well, and she was hungry. She glanced up to check Dante's expression, let her gaze linger on the ugly word carved into his flesh. It pained her to look at. How cruel these creatures were to take everything from him and still demand more, for a crime he didn't even commit.
Dante felt her eyes on him, felt her gaze linger on the word carved into his seared flesh. He allowed himself to turn so that his back was to her once again. He would not admit that the strain of supporting his body had become too painful or that watching him stare at her like that was more than he could bear.
"It's rude to stare," Dante admonished allowing his eyes to slide closed, glad he could no longer see her pale, concerned face. He would not admit that he was ashamed of the lasting reminder that the demons had got the upper hand. Ashamed he had been chained to that cross whilst Theo branded him.
"Sorry," Lady said softly her eyes roving over the rippling muscles of his back, the blossoms of purple, which marred his once perfect flesh.
"You always did stare, it's alright, I am used to it," the hunter goaded his voice airy, his chest rattling.
Lady was about to throw back some retort relieved that he couldn't quite stop being a dick. But then the door to the chamber where they were being held creaked open. Light flooded the room and two Hell Prides shambled towards Lady's cell door.
Dante's body jerked forwards and he swore, instincts reacting to the sound as he slid onto his hands and knees unable to push himself further panting hard to clear the spots from his vision. Lady was on her feet backing away from the cell door as it swung open and the prides shambled towards her.
"Lady," Dante ground out alarm clear in his voice. He grabbed the bars he had been resting against moments ago; attempting to pull himself upright, but the chains prevented him from going more than half way.
Lady saw the wild panic in his eyes as the Hells grabbed her by the wrists in clawed bony hands. They were inhumanly strong, dragging her forwards out of the cell even as she dug her booted feet into the harsh stone floor of the chamber attempting to use the momentum to free her restrained wrists.
"Lady!" Dante's voice sounded pathetic even to his own ears. He tried once again to fight the bonds which held him, to stand, but his knees shook and wouldn't take his weight. With a growing sense of dread he felt the aching weakness of his human body, his limbs would not obey his commands his grip slipping as he attempted to push himself upright against the wall.
Lady thrashed in the demon's grip, but it did no good apart from slicing her wrists on their ragged claws. Slowly but surely she was being dragged towards the doorway, the Hells completely oblivious to her struggle. She cast her gaze back to the demon slayer; hearing him call her name and feeling her heart rise into her throat in a moment of sheer panic. She couldn't protect him like this, she was most likely being lead to her death and Dante wasn't strong enough… The surge of adrenalin renewed her attempts at escape. For a moment the Hells could not force her forwards. It was just enough time for her to watch as Dante's legs gave out and he slid forwards, fell awkwardly onto his hands and knees, back heaving from the exertion, glittering with sweat.
The demon slayer was helpless to watch as the Prides began to regain control of their captive once more. It was all Dante could do to keep himself from passing out as he supported his body on all fours trying to steady his breathing, trying to force himself to stand through sheer strength of will. His limbs shook, his vision danced with black spots and cool beads of sweat ran across his brow, plastering silver locks to his skin.
"Lady…" This time his voice was barely more than a whisper. Dante could only watch helplessly through his blurred vision as Lady writhed against the Pride's hold, kicking out with booted feet, fighting until the demons clawed hands sliced deep into her pale flesh and red rivulets of blood spilled from the wounds. With one final surge of strength, Dante attempted to stand, hand outstretched as Lady disappeared from view. But it was too much for his broken body to bear and he crashed back to the ground. His jaw cracked against solid stone and his vision went black Lady's cries still ringing in his ears.
Lady felt tears of rage burn the corners of her eyes as the Hells dragged her further away from Dante. She could no longer see the demon slayer, but she had heard him fall, knew he didn't possibly have the strength to follow her. She kicked at the Hell's ankles, tugged against them until her wrists were torn to shreds by their jagged claws – anything to get herself free. Nothing worked. The creatures continued to drag her onwards mindlessly, uncaring for their captive's wellbeing – or their own.
When they finally dragged the woman into a new chamber she was panting, exhausted, swearing every insult she could think of at the creatures in an attempt to vent her frustration. If Lady had to she had a mind to tell all of Hell to go fuck itself. This new room was larger than before, more ornately decorated; checked marble tiles spanned the floor of the room covered occasionally by intricately detailed red and golden rugs. Before Lady had time to examine her new surroundings further she was hauled roughly onto a raised dais at the opposite end of the room and thrown harshly to the ground, her eyes level with a pair of booted feet facing away from her.
"Leave us," the voice was unmistakable, and even if it had not been the golden trim fluttering before her face was a dead give away. Everything began clicking into place with alarming clarity; Vergil, it had always been Vergil. The snide, sneering, son of a bitch had dared to play them…
Lady had the sense to pause a moment, regaining her strength, allowing the Hells to leave… The booted feet turned towards her, but Lady was fast. She had sprung upright just as the door banged closed behind the receding demons. Vergil's expression changed from one of quiet confidence to surprise as she jumped to her feet, balled one fist in the collar of his blue silk coat and slapped him open-handedly across the face. The force of the attack sent them both stumbling backwards, but Lady continued her onslaught, balling her fist and slamming it into Vergil's cheek until he regained enough composure to take hold of both her bloodied wrists.
"How could you?" She screamed at him alternating to kick him in the shins instead when she could no longer land a blow. The elder twin threw her backwards roughly and she fell hard to the ground. The shock of the harsh landing did not faze the huntress. She was back on her feet in seconds racing bodily into the elder twin and slamming them both backwards into a twisting pillar that supported the ceiling above them and opened out onto the empty space of a balcony on either side.
Vergil gasped, winded by the attack, and surprised at the woman's strength. Whilst he had expected some display of defiance he had not anticipated such pure rage. Her bi-coloured eyes were burning with flaming hues of red and blue, her pretty features marred by cuts and bruises all the more fierce for their imperfections.
"How dare you?!" She roared at him hammering her fists into his chest and shoulders as Vergil once again attempted to subdue her. "He's your brother! He's you're brother- how could you?!"
"Lady," Vergil tried to speak calmly, commandingly, finally regaining his hold on her wrists and spinning them round until they were out from behind the pillar and he had her pressed backwards into the edge of the balcony. He forced her backwards warningly, she felt the base of her spine rest against the cool rim of the balcony's edge, knew that he possessed the force to throw her from it. "Lady, listen to me."
"You bastard," she hissed at him venomously landing one final blow before he applied more pressure and her actions ceased. She was aware of his much larger frame pressing into hers, forcing her backwards until the harsh stone was biting uncomfortably into the small of her back. Beyond, above and below her was nothing but grey clouds. She had no idea what would happen if she fell… if she would fall… Lady did not wish to find out.
"You're a piece of shit Vergil you know that?" Lady growled at him glaring upwards into the ice of his blue eyes. "You're pathetic! You're worse than that, you have been nothing but Mundus' puppet this whole time!"
"It's not like that," Vergil replied bitterly fearing that he would be struck down by the King of Hell, that he had been mistaken in thinking that he could protect himself from Mundus' penetrating gaze. "Just let me explain-"
"Why should I believe you Vergil?" Lady asked her voice quaking with barely contained rage. "Everything… everything we have been through – You sold him out for this? They are torturing him… he's going to die…" Her voice trailed off, raw emotion caught in the back of her throat, her eyes stung. She wanted to kill him; she wanted to strangle the life out of him.
"I hope to God they take you apart piece by piece," Lady said softly shaking her head in disgust. "I'll even give them a helping hand…"
"Enough," Vergil insisted, voice firm and then he did the only thing he could think to do and let go of her hands, taking a step backwards. "Just listen to me-"
Vergil didn't get a chance to finish as Lady slugged him across the cheek, his skin split from the impact as the blow sent him reeling backwards.
"Now I'll listen," Lady smirked shaking her aching hand as Vergil spat blood onto the ground.
For a moment she was afraid he might attack her, might actually throw her from the balcony, but he didn't. He merely straightened up, wiped the pad of his thumb idly across the corner of his mouth. It was only once her rage had subsided a little that she noticed how pale his skin looked against the crimson blood that trailed from his mouth, that his eyes were blood-shot, and his face appeared drawn somehow, the veins highlighted beneath his skin.
"I deserved that," he acknowledged coolly. He would not let her know that she had fazed him.
"You deserved everything you got," she replied, "and everything that is coming to you. I will make it my life's work to destroy you."
"You were never a part of this," Vergil said the icy chill returning to his voice as though he were reciting lines rather than in the middle of a fight. "You can escape if you go now."
"Go where?" Lady asked incredulously. Lady was loath to admit it, but she probably wouldn't have made it this far by herself and without her weapons there was no hope of escape. "I have no weapons and besides, I am not leaving without Dante."
"Your humanity will get you killed," Vergil warned, eyeing her warily one hand resting instinctively on Yamato's hilt. Mention of his brother set him on edge.
"At least I'm not already dead," Lady replied callously folding her arms across her chest trying to ignore the stinging pain of her bloodied hands, the aching in her spine. She hated him, she realized in those moments as she stared at the elder twin, the spitting image of his brother except for the ice in his eyes. She hated his guts, he was cold and evil and everything Dante was not, no matter how much he pretended to care. "At least I didn't sell out my own flesh and blood."
"It's more complicated than that…"
"Oh really?" Lady asked sarcastically, she took a step forwards, eyeing the elder twin up. "Because from where I'm standing it looks like you got Dante to follow you into Hell again just so that you can have some demonic bastard do your dirty work."
"Well if you want to stay here and become that demonic bastard's play-thing then be my guest," Vergil snapped finally losing patience with her. Lady was small, but formidable, always so stubborn, so like his brother. Vergil knew what she felt about him, Lady was making that clear, he could feel the rage rolling off her in waves. And he understood why… he had watched Dante's torture with her although she didn't know it. Vergil had seen Theo humiliate his twin and seen him use Lady to hurt his brother more. Everything that had happened to them was his doing; Vergil knew that Lady blamed him for every moment she had spent as Theo's captive. "I never wanted you to come with us. I would have never brought you here Lady, you were not part of the plan."
"And that makes it okay?" She asked incredulously voice rising. "How chivalrous of you Vergil – well everything is fine now that I understand you only wanted Dante dead I'll just be on my way…"
"It's what he would want," Vergil replied, his tone was beseeching. He felt attached to her somehow, protective, because despite everything she thought about him he wasn't heartless. Dante had walked into this with his eyes open, but Lady… ever hopeful despite how jaded she appeared, she had trusted him to help his brother, and Dante had trusted him to protect her. He and Dante were too far gone, his twin could never forget Vergil's betrayal on Temin-Ni-Gru, but at least Vergil could do this one thing right by him and get Lady out of Hell alive.
"Now you care?" Lady asked sarcastically, she was almost shouting again. If she had been in possession of more strength she might have attacked him, but she was exhausted and her eyes stung.
"My orders are to kill you," Vergil replied matter-of-factly. He glanced down to Yamato; the gesture didn't go unnoticed.
"But what Vergil? You found some humanity in there somewhere?" She was goading him, he realised, she wanted to fight. Maybe she would win.
He swallowed, looked away, beyond her to the swirling grey clouds outside the room where lightning sparked behind her, lighting the room eerily with silent sparks of pale light. How much longer could he evade Mundus' gaze? He had taught himself to shut the King of Hell from his mind for moments, but not for long. Vergil knew he was poisoned, that the King of Hell was slowly taking control of him, that Mundus would notice the absence of his beloved Dark Knight. Vergil might die for this girl's foolishness.
"This is your last chance," Vergil growled warningly and Lady could hear the steel in his voice as Vergil pushed Yamato's tsuba with his thumb to show a glimmer of the shining blade. "This is between Dante and I, it always has been. I am prepared to let you live if you leave now."
Lady paused. Play time was over; Vergil was deadly serious and she sensed something akin to fear dancing in the back of his pale blue eyes. He was obviously risking a lot to keep her alive, that should mean something, but it didn't. She still wanted to kill him and run back to Dante… save him… But she couldn't. She had tried before and failed. Lady understood begrudgingly that she was at Vergil's mercy and he had had the decency not to make her beg. It would be stupid not to take his offer even if she didn't intend to leave Dante.
"I don't stand a chance without my weapons," she said finally, defeated, lowering her gaze to the checked floor beneath her feet.
The bloodied corner of Vergil's mouth curled upwards into a disdainful smirk. He admired her character, the anger that boiled through her in accepting defeat.
"Leave this room by the side-door," Vergil replied thankful that Lady had finally decided to see sense. The pressure in his mind was becoming unbearable, he needed to return to Mundus and hope that the King of Hell couldn't uncover his deception. "Your weapons are in the room opposite."
Lady was strangely thankful her beloved bazooka hadn't been destroyed somewhere in the depths of Hell. She regarded Vergil one final time, wondered if she wanted to attempt killing him with her bare hands, wondered if she could return with her weapons and kill him – or if this was all a trap and something else waited beyond that door. She decided that she didn't have much of a choice but to find out. She stepped forwards, made to walk past him with a glare, but he raised his hand and caught her shoulder.
"Get off me-!"
"I need something from you," Vergil replied tone cold, he didn't look at her.
The huntress bristled. "I'm not giving you anything!"
"I need proof," Vergil said giving her a sharp sidelong glance. "That I killed you."
Lady blanched, but understood. For a moment she wanted to yell at him again, but before she could his hand slid across the skin of her collarbone and grasped the red jewel about her throat tugging hard enough that the chain that held it snapped. She glowered ready to hurl an insult at him for daring to touch her, but he merely raised an eyebrow.
"Unless you would prefer that I take a finger instead."
She shook her head then shoved his hand away roughly so that she could pass glancing quickly at the ruby red teardrop dangling from his hand. Mundus wouldn't believe him… how could he? Vergil was right; a body part would be more fitting, an eye, her head. He was walking dangerous ground, but she couldn't be thankful not after the bitter betrayal, not after seeing Dante so weak…
As she made her way across the room, the sound of her booted footsteps echoing in the silence broken only by ominous rolls of thunder Vergil hesitated. The blood red tear-drop hung from his outstretched hand lightning catching in its heart, flashing like Lady's bright red eye. The static in his mind was growing stronger with every second reaching a near-deafening crescendo. Yet Vergil knew the sound, the humming like a thousand insects swarming in his ears was for him and him alone. Mundus was growing bored of their lost connection; he could sense something was amiss with his Dark Knight.
"Lady," Vergil's voice was weaker than he would have liked, he forced more effort into sounding calm, but sweat was beading on his brow his nerves aflame. "Don't trust your instincts down here. They are human. They lie."
"I think I've already found out that Hell is a place full of liars," Lady shot back, she hadn't turned to face him, hadn't even stopped. Vergil watched her go helplessly. It was only when she reached the door which he had gestured to that she turned hand on the cool metal door-handle. She bit her lip as though considering whether he deserved any more of her attention. "I'm going to get him out," she said finally, resolute. "Leaving isn't an option anymore. If you think that being human means I can walk away then you are desperately wrong."
Vergil sighed, his breath shook. "I know."
And with that she yanked the door open, hesitated only a second before she walked out into the unknown and then the door swung shut behind her. Vergil allowed himself to stop fighting the screaming in his mind and crashed to his hands and knees. His skin was on fire his mind burning. He felt Mundus' presence all around him, tearing at his flesh, cloying at his mind. The skin on his hands had grown paler, the veins standing out blue-black against his skin. The demonic assault on his mind was too strong, it would kill him if he didn't relent and yet he had the sense to create some barrier, to lock away what he could in the depths of his consciousness.
"Is it done?" The voice wasn't merely disembodied, it was in his head.
"Yes," Vergil ground out hand clenched around Lady's necklace. It was too soon, she had only just left he had to give her more time before Mundus discovered his betrayal.
"Good," Vergil thought he heard a rumbling laugh echo around his skull. "I have another task for you".
A/N: I had a lot of concerns with this chapter so I'm sorry it took so long to post. I'm still not 100% happy but I realise that it's been over a year since I updated - sorry for that, but I've written 45,000 words between November and August for my Masters degree and didn't really want to look at a word processor for a while. I hope I get an update to you sooner, but I'm also aware I say that every time I update. Stay tuned. We're getting close to the big reveal :D
As always thank you for the support and the wonderful reviews :3