A/N: ACK! I'm SO sorry I didn't update last month, I was having a serious case of writer's block. Plus I had to look up a TON of political themes and history for this chapter. Ay mama. But the important thing is that this chapter done and updated ;) WARNING! There is going to be some intense scares and violence (i.e. Crusnik action and a LOT of blood,) so don't say I didn't warn you. Though don't worry, there will be fluff at the end. ^^ Here it is: Chapter XI. -Speaking of 11, I'm now getting into Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, it helped me tremendously with the political set up. BTW was caused the setback of this chapter, was the fact I was trying to write two chapters instead of one at a time. Oy vey! Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this. ^^
Chapter XI: Endeavors and Encounters
"Blood hath been shed ere now, I'th' olden time..."
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV.
Forty-Five Minutes Ago
The darkening skies no longer bore the sun's golden light nor its fiery countenance as night proved victorious once again. All that was left now was the bloodied dark light of the second moon, as its silver sister hadn't returned. The darkness, too, had laid its claim on her.
Such a night as this easily foretold that Death loomed nearby, seeking to find those who held the most promise of an early demise. A peculiar observer of the darkness felt that Death was soon to pay him a visit, unless by some miracle, he would be spared.
Lewis Stone, once a man of great promise and power was now a disgraced criminal, charged with espionage and the attempted assassination of his sovereign. The only reason he was not facing a death warrant for it was because he had turned himself in and was willing to talk. However, there were many who knew that he could not, and would not, be allowed to speak.
The Knights of Tudor, the very people he had once looked up to before their fall into corruption now wanted him dead. It was because of the fear of dying at the hands of the late Chief of Justice Creedy that he had kept his silence. Until that bizarre priest Nightroad had given him something that he had never felt in years: hope. That was the hope now: that he did not have to fear death. But Lewis was no fool. He knew another organization wanted him dead, one worse than the Tudor Knights. It was the Order of Rosenkreuz, the ones who had mired the Tudor Knights in depravity.
Looking upon the fear-inspiring atmosphere once more through the small window of his cell, Lewis began musing how the Order members he had encountered were like demons in their own way. The very fact that he had sold his soul to them for a time and then had turned around and betrayed them made him wondered if Death at their hands was more frightening than Death at the hands of Lord Creedy. He wondered idly if he would be delivered straight into the Ninth Ring of Hell itself (1) at their hands.
He heard the movement of metal against stone, the banging of iron bars against their fellows and the sound of leather heels approaching.
"I heard you were willing to talk, Stone," a firm feminine voice spoke to him. He lifted his head and looked upon its owner.
Colonel Mary Spencer crossed over the threshold to stand before him as he was leaned over on his prison cot. Her cobalt blue eyes glared at him such that he could almost feel the icy stare pierce his flesh. She was garbed in a darker blue Albian military uniform replete with golden epaulets, embroidery and braids, which gave way to white form-fitting pants that, were caressed from the thigh-down in black leather boots. Around her waist was an ox-blood gilded belt that held her sheathed saber. Her white gloved hands were fisted at her hips. Her attire and stern visage as well as the dark garnet tresses pulled into a tightly braided bun upon the back of her head added to the impression that she was not a woman to cross.
"I am willing," Lewis said hoarsely, due to more than a parched throat, "but only if I can speak to Her Majesty. It is crucial that she hears this information."
"And why would that be?" Mary queried.
"This information is vital into exposing the Rosenkreuz to the world. If I can speak to her, and only her, I can trust that the message has been delivered. There are those within Albion that have become assets to their spies, I must speak to Her Majesty and Her Majesty alone."
"Very well. I will adhere to your request. I will see to it that Her Majesty will be here within the hour. You have my word." Mary then turned and nodded to the uniformed guardsmen outside the cell and once more he was locked in.
Lewis then made a sound of laughter, or it would have been had it not been filled with resentful bitterness. "Her words are like poison; no wonder vampires called her 'Bloody Mary.' I'm quite surprised she didn't off me right here."
"She would have liked to, but I'm afraid I'll be the one to do that job for her," a tenor voice sang, sadistic glee laced in every word.
Lewis' eyes widened at the sound and his head jerked up. He knew that voice. He's heard it countless times before when the Knights held meetings with Rosenkreuz agents where he had been present. This one agent in peculiar had intimated him, mostly because of the fact he was-
Here, in the cell and his cold dark, evil smile had Lewis frozen in terror. Out of all the agents he had met from the Order, this one was the worst of them.
"You- you are-" before Lewis could finish the man's fingers snapped and all that came out of his throat was a scream.
Death at the hands of the Order of Rosenkreuz was indeed worse than Death at the hands of the Tudor Knights. They would have just killed him with a bullet in his head. Lewis knew that the excruciating torture was only just beginning and he had just collapsed from only the first snap.
"Did you honestly think that we were going to let you off that easily? I want to see 'Her Majesty' just as much as you do, but I don't think either of us will get the chance." He chuckled, then sighed. "But that doesn't mean I can't leave her a parting gift. Luckily for you," the heel of his boot then came upon Lewis' brow, "I'm going to have to be quick about this, even though it's not as entertaining, but I've got orders. Oh and one more thing," he then pulled a peculiar device from his jacket and placed it in Lewis' numbed palm, closing his fingers around it. "Make certain this gets to Esther after you're dead."
Another scream echoed throughout the deserted hallway as the devil laughed.
Abel's eyes slightly widened at feel of Esther's lips brushing against his for the first time. However, he couldn't bring himself to break away from her or their kiss. In fact, he closed his eyes and tangled his hands into the silky scarlet tresses of her hair as he pressed in closer. He could feel her gasp against his mouth as her hand began caressing his neck, threading her fingers through his silver hair as their kiss became an open-mouthed passionate kiss. They could have lost themselves there, continued this kiss for hours, forever...
Until someone cleared her throat.
They froze, lips locked. Neither one wanted to be the first to move. Slowly Abel, then Esther, opened their eyes. Esther pulled away from the priest and then he could see that she was blushing. Then his field of vision expanded to include the stern face of Colonel Spencer glaring at him and at the back of Esther's head. The Queen, for her part, did not want to turn around. One because the look on Father Nightroad's face was so... and two she could feel Mary's eyes boring into her back and did not want to take in that sight directly. The pair put some distance between their bodies as well as their faces, although very reluctantly.
"Your Majesty, there is an urgent matter of which we must speak."
That did it. Esther had to turn around and look at her now. Reading the apology in Abel's eyes, she smiled sweetly before putting on her "official" face and turning away from him.
"As you wish, Colonel Spencer."
Abel started to get up from the bed, but the Colonel fixed him with a stony glare.
"You will stay here, for the moment, Father," she stated sternly, a hint of anger in her tone.
Her freezing gaze then turned to her monarch, "I ask to speak with you alone." Mary gestured towards the door at the end of the room. "Your Majesty."
The Queen swept past her, trying to retain her composure. It was all Father Nightroad could do not to get up and follow them. The door at the far end of the room closed with a heavy thud as the pair exited into the hallway.
Colonel Spencer didn't waste any time getting to the point. "I do apologize in advance for this. It is not my place to criticize My Queen," she began.
"Please speak your mind," Esther urged, despite knowing full well she was going to regret the invitation.
"Esther, just what did you think you're doing with a priest of all things?"
"You know damned well, Esther, how behavior like that could result in damage to your reputation as a ruler. If word spread to the public about…" she bit her lip in order to contain her anger. "I am asking you, Esther, not as a Colonel of the Albian Maries, but as your half-sister to practice some discretion. You already know about Gilbert- that is, our... father- did before he married your mother. What you don't know is that my mother, the late Viscountess of Carlisle, had always been living in the shadows. After Gilbert had married, she was then made a social outcast by the very man to whom she had borne a child. Her spiteful scorn became the lullabies I had to grow up listening to for over eight years, until her death. I am not saying this to be cruel, Esther. But…" She took a breath before continuing, her eyes both filled with concern and bitterness, "Don't repeat Gilbert's mistakes. I know you love him, but if you really, truly loved him, you would let him go. He cannot be your Prince, you know this."
"Mary, you know I'm not like our father and it is true I do love him. But he promised me that he would stay by my side. Don't make me make him break his promise. I had to live without him for two years, believing him to be dead. I don't want to live like the zombie I was before he came back to me. However, this should please you, Mary; I will not forsake my virtue until marriage. You do recall that I was a nun before I became Queen."
"I am glad to hear that. You are indeed wiser than Gilbert. I will argue that no more. But…" she made a face, "don't let me catch you two snogging every time I turn around."
"I'll try to keep that toned down."
"Well... now that that's been settled, there are more pressing matters we must attend to. Lewis Stone has requested your presence. He says he has information about the third world power. I suggest we leave immediately."
After "waking" the young Count, requesting Father Nightroad as an escort, and changing Esther into a more suitable attire of a white turtleneck, a black leather jacket, pants and boots, Esther and Mary eventually completed their trip to the Tower of Londinium. It's bloodstained past was evident in the cold, stone structure. It had held countless enemies of the state, political hostages, rivals, terrorists, traitors and the like. Often times this horrid place would be the last their living eyes would see. As such, it was no surprise that Lewis Stone should be held here. What was a surprise to the Colonel was the clamor and terror that reigned within the storied building at the moment, especially in the vicinity of the disgraced lord's cell.
Blue uniformed guardsmen were gathered about, some to keep order, others to see what had occurred.
"What happened?" Mary demanded from the closest guard.
"Well, Colonel, the thing is," the man hedged. "That specific prisoner you wanted us to keep watch on, Lewis Stone, well, he's dead, ma'am."
Mary parted the assembled troops like Moses and that certain sea with Esther, Abel and Ion in her wake.
The cell contained the body of Lewis Stone and two ashen-faced guards.
The corpse of the Lord Chamberlain was crouched in a peculiar position. It looked as though he died while bowing to someone; not at all the position one would expect of a disgraced yet deceased nobleman.
"Do you think his God struck him dead while he was praying, Father?" Ion asked quietly, looking at the horror-stuck expression that was now permanently etched on Stone's face.
"God doesn't do that, Ion," Esther gently chided.
"Then what did?" Colonel Spencer asked no one in particular.
"Stay back," Father Nightroad commanded, laying a hand on Mary's shoulder. "Something's not right here."
"You have a talent for understatement, priest," she returned, shrugging his hand off. But she stayed back, throwing out an arm to bar Ion and Esther's way.
Abel moved cautiously forward and then knelt over the body, examining first the face and then the limbs. He swept his gloved hands over the arms and back of the dead man's coat, patting down the right pocket in a move so swift no one else could follow it. There he saw it.
The Queen noticed that Father Nightroad's back stiffened as he sucked in a short intake of air.
"What is it?" she asked.
The priest turned slowly to pat down the left side of the body, while seemingly holding something between his right index finger and thumb.
"Abel?" the redhead queried again, moving forward toward the entrance to the cell.
At the same moment, he felt a rectangular object in Lewis Stone's other coat pocket.
"Esther, get back! Get out, all of you!" He straightened and flew towards the trio, pushing them back into the hallway.
"GO!" the AX officer thundered.
As they opened the security door into the next chamber, the room was engulfed in an inferno, burning a like a gigantic Balrog (2) trying to overtake them.
The force of the explosion knocked them flat on their faces; Abel landing on their collective backs, but taking the brunt of the blast himself.
Debris both large and small crumbled from the ceiling and from the sides of the walls covered in the strident black markings of the detonation.
As the deafening roar died away, the screams of the injured could be heard despite the loud ringing in the ears of all present. The smoke billowed, blinded and choked them as they struggled to rise and make sense of what had happened.
"Damn that priest. If 'e 'adn't interfered, Sutler 'ould still be alive and that witch 'ould be dead!"
If the previous Tudor Knights could have looked upon the ruinous state that had befallen their sacred order, they would have wept to see just how far they had fallen.
Currently hiding in the abandoned manor house of Number Thirteen Grimmauld Place, the place that once served as their personal headquarters, Mr. Horace Ethridge and Mr. Jasper Heyer were arguing about the fact that they should be in power and wallowing in luxury instead of being on the run from the Albian police and hiding out like the criminal traitors that they were.
"All o' t'is 'ouldn't 'ave 'appened if that fecking traitor Lewis 'adn't opened 'is damn mouth!" Heyer screamed as his fist came crashing down on the ancient wood of the dining room table.
"If you want my opinion, Jasper, I think all this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't gotten involved with the Rosenkreuz! Have you forgotten that THEY were the ones that nearly destroyed us that night before the witch took the throne? If you'd ask me, I think it's because of that bloody lot that she gained the favor of our fellow Albians and why they're hunting us down," Ethridge declared while crossing his arms over his chest, looking incensed.
"Ef it weren't for the Order we 'ouldn't 'ave destroyed St. Paul's nor 'ould we 'ave come so close to ridding Albion of that witch! I say we should contact them and let them know-"
"Know what? That we failed? They'll kill us first before we ask them for anything."
"Normally that is what we would have done. Fortunately for the both of you, that's not the case, this time, gentlemen," a tenor voice spoke from the shadows of the manor before Mr. Heyer could speak.
Mr. Heyer's visage resembled a man who had just seen an angel with good news, while Mr. Ethridge's face resembled a man who had just seen the devil himself.
The angelic devil in question smiled and said "We're giving you a second chance to end the witch. However, should you fail this time; you'll both be wishing you had never been born."
On the car trip back from the Tower, Esther had reviewed over the events that had taken place there. She was still slightly shaken from the bombing but what had frightened her more than anything was Abel's revelation that the one who had killed Lewis had done it by means of an electrical overdose and the method consisted of a translucent puppet string. The moment his eyes locked with hers, Esther knew one thing: the possibility that someone that she feared and believed to be dead could still be alive, after these two long years.
Dietrich von Lohengrin.
When she met him back in István, she believed him to be her ally against the vampire Marquis, Gyula Kadar. It was through her leadership and her desire to help her suffering people and Dietrich's charisma that they eventually created the Partisans, a rebel faction against both vampires and the István Military Police who were living off of the pain and burdens of her fellow human Hungarians.
Not only had Dietrich been her ally, he was also her best friend. She had trusted him to protect her, to keep her secrets and to be there for her when Bishop Laura couldn't. She had put her trust in him completely and he had supposedly also borne similar pains that she had suffered. He had told her that his parents were killed by Gyula's men and he was the one who inspired her to take up her sword and fight for justice. If it weren't for Dietrich, she wouldn't have become the woman she was today.
Esther had believed him to be her angel when in truth he would be a devil to bring her into Hell.
He had told her to stain her hands with the blood of the man who had murdered Laura. He had "died" fighting Gyula's men when they attacked and eventually burned her only home, St. Matthias Cathedral, to the ground. Yet that very night Dietrich had been revealed to be, not only alive, but also the traitor the Partisans sought to find in their own midst. What was worse than that, he had confessed his deepest love for her after he had betrayed her and used her.
That pain left a terrible scar upon her heart that once had been filled with trust for him.
When she had seen him again, in the Empire of all places, he was using Radu's shell to toy with her heart once more. He wounded Ion with a bullet that caused him to go into bloodthrist and Dietrich had handed her a silver sword to use in his twisted game. No, he wouldn't kill them and stain his hands with their blood; he was going to let them kill each other. Before he left, he had once again confessed his love for her, twisting the knife.
The last time she had seen him, he had bound her with his threads. With an evil smile playing on his lips and his eyes boring into hers, filled with an un-sated lust, Dietrich told her his intentions to destroy the world and also told her about the advent of the Angel of Death. Then he left her to die at the hands of his toys. Later... when she saw Abel... die... at his hands, she briefly saw Dietrich's bloodied body and the horrible wound in his chest. His evil, black heart had, ironically enough, had been blown out of his body. There was no way he could have survived that, not even the Change from Terran to Methuselah could have revived him from that state.
If was the work of someone pretending to be Dietrich to scare her, or if there was a faint possibility he was still alive, that did a good job of frightening her as Esther shivered.
Abel had been watching her in the rearview mirror the entire trip. The Count of Memphis had done the same, sitting next to her in the rear seat. They were both aware of her distraction, though neither commented on it.
Ion and Abel noticed Esther's tremor at the same time. Abel asked first.
"What is it?" he asked, his piercing blue eyes stared at her in the glass.
"I don't understand how he could still be alive. Not with the wound he had…" she trailed off.
"It might just be someone trying to intimidate you by imitating this Germanic corpse," Mary offered, casting a sidelong glance at the priest before looking back at them.
"If that hell spawn IS still alive, we will dispatch him to back to Hades where he belongs!" Ion declared. "We will rip out his heart and drink his blood for what he did to our Tovarås!"
"I hope it won't lead to-"
The night was heavy with the smell of freshly spilt blood and the burning smell of napalm.
To say that the Night Guard, the Queen's Guard and the Blues and Royals were unprepared for such a vicious attack would have been an understatement. Not only were there legions of vampires, each of them being of the terrorist group the Fleur du Mal, but also the familiar hulking forms of the Auto-Jäger Death Hunters and their bulk weaponry. They appeared as if by magic, seemingly from the shadows of the now blood red night.
The only thing that had alerted the Palace security was the sharp eyes of the Methuselah Night Guard and their head, Vanessa Walsh, just a scant few seconds before the terrorists made their attack. Now the white fountain outside the palace was stained with blood, the dark, red-black blood of Methuselah, and the water was brimming with bodies and body parts as the Night Guard and the Fleur du Mal attempted to dismember each other in an attempt to gain the upper hand in the battle. As the vampires attacked one another in a frenzy, the Auto-Jägers moved with their slow, rumbling movements and their large weapons towards the human guards at the front of the palace. The Death Hunters were slow enough for the more skilled Terrans to confront and kill them, but the less skilled were quickly added to the ranks of the dead and dying. Methuselah on the fringes of the confrontation in the great courtyard outside the palace turned to either prey on the slower, weaker ranks of the human guards or to defend them.
As the quartet returned from the prison, still covered in dust and ash and smelling of smoke, they attempted to enter through the front of palace. Esther was so enraged at the carnage in front of Buckingham, the bodies of her guard and of her enemies littering the grounds, that it was all Abel could do to contain her and prevent her from leaping out of the car to join the fray.
Mary Spencer expertly turned the car away from the scene and raced towards the back of the structure under attack.
"You cannot help them. You are too valuable to be killed," she reminded the redhead.
"This does not make sense," Ion stated. "If they wanted to storm the palace, why did they not bring overwhelming forces? This is merely a slaughter."
"Yes, a slaughter AND a diversion," Father Nightroad concluded quickly. "They're trying to keep everyone's attention on the front courtyard. We have to get-"
"Around the back," Mary finished for him. "I know!"
Now, blood also stained the once pure, gilded white walls of the palace interior and corpses of both Albian Terrans and Methuselah soldiers littered the hallways.
Vanessa swore as an Auto-Jäger attempted to strike from behind before her brother, Virgil, sliced its head off with his talons, as she began blasting through enemy after enemy with her assault rifle. The three handmaidens, Sarah, Naomi and Erica, counter-attacked with their own weapons of choice. They and the Walsh siblings formed a tight circle of defense.
Almost every human soldier, even though they were armed with silver bullets, were simply were no match for their combatants speed and strength. In seconds, most of them were already dead or bleeding out on the floor.
Virgil and Vanessa were about to be ambushed by a vampire attempting to take them down from above... who might have succeeded had there not been a bullet entering its brain.
"Excellency! Vanessa! Are you all right?!"
The Walsh siblings heard the voice of their sovereign cry out running up to them with her trustworthy partisan gun gripped in her right hand. Father Nightroad was behind her with a smoking revolver in his clutch. Ion had discarded his white cloak to reveal crimson armor and a bronze breastplate with his titanium scimitar unsheathed and Mary with her garnet strands of hair disheveled held her sword aloft. Apparently, the four of them had to fight their way to this point in order to reach them.
"Your Majesty, what the hell are you doing here?! You need to get out of here!" Vanessa shrieked.
"I can't! Not when there are people dying for me!" Esther declared.
"Your Majesty," Virgil cut in, his voice laced with frost, "Our priority is your safety. They're here for you, not for anyone else; therefore, you must leave before they succeed in their intentions."
"Your Excellency, I cannot stand around and do nothing. As Queen, I must do everything in my power to protect my people. Letting them die for me is violating the oath I made on my coronation."
Virgil turned his head for a second, considering her words then lifted his head and said. "Very well. Father Nightroad," the Earl addressed the priest.
"Yes, my Lord?"
"She stays, but keep her in your line of sight. Protect her with your life, swear to it."
"You have my oath." Abel swore before he queried, "Is there anyone guarding the Ghetto?"
"I kept two of my best guards there when I heard the palace was breached. You don't think that they-"
"That's probably why they're here!" Abel exclaimed as he pulled Esther into his left arm. Esther made a slight sound of protest but couldn't complain. "I will be back to help you, but for now, I must make sure that he doesn't get a hold of that." For a brief moment, there was tinge of blood-red seeping into those winter-blue eyes.
And in the twinkling of an eye, the AX agent and the Albian Queen were gone.
A scream was heard as a Fleur du Mal agent attempted to slice through two of the girls, when suddenly the tip of a titanium scimitar that could only be classified as an Imperial weapon appeared through its heart. Behind it, the young Count, growled in satisfaction.
"So far, so good, for Terrans-" he nearly complimented, but was cut off when Erica fired a round into the head of an Auto-Jäger and cut off a lock of Ion's hair in the process.
"You're not too bad yourself," Erica quickly stated, brushing her dirty-blonde hair out of her eyes before she turned to take her next shot.
Mary sliced the head of a hulking Auto-Jäger and then joined Virgil and Vanessa's circle of defense.
"I never would have thought in my life I'd be fighting back to back with vampires." she smirked.
"The allies watching your back are Methuselah," the Earl stated, "the ones that are trying to kill you are vampires."
"I stand corrected, Lord Walsh, but right now we've got a fight to finish!" She pulled out her revolver and fired into the heart of a Fleur du Mal agent.
"Father, what's going on?" Esther queried while the priest sped through the palace halls, corpses lessening by the yard as he headed toward his destination.
"Esther, tell me, are there other ways of entering the Ghetto besides through the palace?" Abel asked, his voice laced with an unreadable emotion.
"Except for Lady Buchanan's passageway from her home, the only way in or out is now the secondary elevator that only I can access."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. I used that elevator to get the enslaved Methuselah out when I ordered their release. There were still those who wished to stay, so I didn't deny them that right. However, I used that means to achieve their freedom. Also it's because of that elevator that Virgil found out who I was."
"How was that?" Abel asked, evidently curious.
"The elevator only responds only to my genetic signature. I used it on the day you..." Esther trailed off, recalling what she used that elevator for and who she was attempting to follow once she caught up to...
She saw it again. The black winged fallen angel berserk with rage, screaming the true name of the Contra Mundi; his blood-red scythe was poised to bring forth the swift wings of death...
Then he saw her. His scarlet eyes widened in shock of her sudden appearance. He whispered her name before he suddenly halted his attack, bloodlust and rage disappearing in an instant. The white fiend smiled, extended his hand and, with a great outburst of power, the heart of the man she loved stopped beating.
The Crusnik fell and returned to his human form, the blood red eyes reverting to their winter blue... losing life... as he uttered his final word: her name.
All she could do was watch helplessly as he fell... to his death.
At the memory, the questions that had haunted her for two years suddenly took dominance in her mind.
Did he hate her for her interference? Did he blame her for his death? Was one of the reasons he left her because he was angry with her? What would he say if she ever asked him these questions, so full of doubt, especially after he had expressed his true feelings for her?
Abel shifted from foot to foot, wanting to pace in the confines of the elevator, but having no room to do so. Perversely, the urgency of reaching their destination made the time of the ride telescope and elongate. Although Esther was caught in her thoughts, the frantic energy that was radiating off of the priest still penetrated her reverie. After what seemed an eternity, the doors finally opened onto the desolate landscape that was the Ghetto.
"Target in sight," came disembodied, monotone voice from somewhere in the blackness.
The priest and the Queen stood back to back, weapons drawn, as they searched for the threat. Whatever was out there, it was not visible in the shaft of pale light that penetrated the murky darkness and Esther could not see into the shadows. Father Nightroad however could see almost as well in the night as in the day. He spotted the outline of a small figure fairly far away.
But not far enough away Abel realized as he determined that they were up against a deadly android.
"Get back!" he ordered, pushing Esther into the open door of the elevator.
"Rewrite resident tactical program from surveillance mode to assault mode. Mission Objective: terminate the Albian Queen. Commence combat."
Materializing before him was what appeared to be a young girl, a facsimile of one really; her appearance was that of a porcelain doll in a white and black maid outfit. The powder-white skin, her tyrian-dyed hair in a perfect bowl-cut and the blank expression in her violet eyes all completed the illusion. However, the image was distorted by the monstrous sword she wielded and the eyes were that of an emotionless machine.
The priest barely had time to pull out his revolver in defense before it was too late. With a quick precise movement, the automaton had removed the sword from its sheath and the blade met the armored guard upon Abel's left shoulder, cracking it in two, blood beginning to seep from the slice. Abel felt a stab of pain ensuing from the cut and heard Esther's gasp but he couldn't bring himself to stop, not now. Using superior speed and strength, Abel jabbed his elbow into the auto-doll's midsection and pushed her back before shooting her right shoulder joint, knocking the sword out of her hand.
"Esther, stay in there!" Abel commanded. Before Esther could object, he closed the elevator doors and it was good timing for the android had recovered.
"Right arm joint demolished- operation impossible. Rewriting program. Commence use of left arm operation," the android spoke before picking the sword back up and resuming its mission. "Rewriting Mission Objective: annihilate obstacle obscuring previous mission objective."
She was about to slice at the AX officer, however...
"Nanomachines Crusnik 02: Power output to 40% activate!"
Cold steel had met a blood red scythe instead of flesh. That same powerful creature, the one that had taken the life of the arrogant warlock and Chief of Justice Seeley Creedy, had now appeared before the soulless man-made killing doll.
"Target: Crusnik 02. Rewrite resident tactical program from Assault Mode to Genocide Mode. Combat Engage."
And so a deadly dance between the Crusnik and the murderous machine began. With the swinging of blades and deft evasion, the deadly dance of twisting and turning and the chorus of clashing blades continued as both beings of death attempted to slay each other. Abel threw every ounce of his being into protecting the woman he loved as he attempted to overcome the machine.
"0.23, too slow."
He felt the icy metal slice down the length of his back, splitting cloth and flesh with absolute ease. Abel had to bite back a yelp, attempting to keep himself from falling back or conceding. The Crusnik aimed for the nearest limb, in hopes of slowing down this metallic killer; however, she easily dodged the blow and drove the blade deep into his right shoulder, forcing him to drop his scythe. She was about to land the blow that would bring swift demise until...
A gunshot rang and the sword fell upon the hard metal floor. Abel dared to look up and saw that the killing doll's arm was useless, having been hit by a large caliber bullet in the shoulder joint, golden sparks emanating from where the bullet entered.
"Left arm joint demolished- operation impossible."
She then turned her head into the opposite direction, as if hearing something the Crusnik couldn't.
"Rewriting Mission Objective: Return to Masters Pygmalion and Marionettenspieler. Issuing retreat."
And in a blink of an eye, the mysterious android had vanished.
Abel stood absolute still for a moment and then a moment more, wanting to assure himself that his opponent was truly gone. His breathing was harsh and wracked with the pain of his injuries. It echoed loudly in his own ears, shutting out what he needed to hear. He tried to compensate with his unique sight, scanning the darkness with alert eyes as though it were day.
Then another sound and another smell penetrated the noise of his laboring lungs and the smell of his own blood.
It was her breath, stuttering and shallow, and the smell of fear that over washed her own lovely scent that caught his attention and had him turning slowly around.
Esther was standing there, the gun still extended in her hand before her from where she had fired the shot that had disabled the mechanized merchant of death. Her chest was heaving and her hair was disheveled. Her lapis-lazuli eyes were as big as saucers and focused on the long bloody line the doll had carved into this back. Her face was pale, whiter than-
Except he was no longer white- he was paler than her- he was still in Crusnik form, somehow he was unable to return to normal, for battle-rage was still singing in his veins.
"Don't look," he rasped. He didn't want to look at her fear-filled eyes from her terror of him, he didn't want her to see the thing that he was. "Please, I don't want you to..."
The words were pathetically inane. She had seen him that that form already, hadn't she?
Unleashing a strangled sob, Esther flung herself onto the Crusnik, her arms wrapping around his waist and burying her face into his chest. She dropped her gun in the process. Abel had to repress a gasp of surprise and, as he felt hot tears streaming down his cassock, all he could do was wrap his arms around her small form, careful not to hurt her with his diamond-hard talons.
"I'm... not... at all... afraid..." her words were muffled by her cries of frustration and sorrow, "...of you. I was afraid... I was going... to... lose you... again… especially... here... of all places!"
Her words sent a flood of emotion through him, like a cold, refreshing river rushing down a mountain side. He couldn't believe what had just transpired, he just couldn't. She wasn't afraid of him, she was afraid for him. It was that realization that sent a surge of warmth throughout his entire being. The hot fire of fury in his blood cooled almost instantaneously and when Esther looked into his eyes, pristine tears still streaming down her cheeks from the exquisite pools of lapis lazuli that were her eyes, she saw that the lurid shade had faded into those winter-lake like orbs that she had loved. His hair then fell from its diadem to form a waterfall of silver, which she felt fall around her wrists as it cascaded down his back. Warmth then returned to his skin and she felt it as his normal hand brushed away her tears as color flooded his face. The last phase of his metamorphosis was his mouth. His lips lost their blue-ish tint and his fangs retracted back into his canines. It was no longer the fearsome Crusnik and the embattled Queen. They were just Abel and Esther, two lovers joined at the heart that had been apart for far too long.
His hand snaked up her back to settle onto the back of her head, threading his fingers through her brilliant red hair. He kept the other firmly around her waist as he slowly pulled her towards him. Esther's hands moved up his back in response, tightening her grip on his priestly robes. Abel bent down slowly, bringing his free hand to cup her cheek as he gazed into those beautiful sparkling lapis lazuli eyes, which seemed to see straight into his soul, before he leaned in to gently brush her lips. Esther wasn't having anything to do with patience as she crushed herself against him and his mouth, locking them together in a passionate kiss.
The battle was nearing its end.
However, the conflict had increased in its violence. Despite equal losses on both sides, the invaders were gaining the upper hand. The numerous hoards of vampires and Auto-Jägers had almost wiped out all of the Queen's Guards. Fortunately, thanks to the protection of the Night Guard and the Walsh siblings, the total loss of human life was not as great. The handmaidens would have suffered a similar fate to those who were wounded or dying around them had it not been for the Count of Memphis.
Just when Sarah's AK-47 and Naomi's pistols had run out of ammunition, the vampires nearly sank their fangs into them until a cloaked figure joined the fray. With two fell sweeps of his staff, those who had impersonated the dead joined their ranks. Ion, who had just cut off the head of another Fleur du Mal agent, barely had time to turn his head and see the monsters fall to their deaths. His eyes turned to their hooded savior, only the staff he wielded had become a silver blade, reddish-black blood staining the sword in streams.
"Omnes enim qui acceperint, gladium gladio peribunt, Amen. (3)" the man whispered.
"We don't know who you are, but we give you our thanks," stated the young Count.
"The same goes for me and Naomi," Sarah stated as Naomi nodded her head.
The shadow had removed its cowl and the blonde man beneath it was so handsome one could have nearly described him as beautiful. The peridot eyes were his predominant trait and they shown with a deadly light.
"No need for that," AX Enforcement Officer Father Hugue de Watteau, the Sword Dancer, stated.
"Save the banter for later," Erica declared, as she took out an Auto-Jäger with a swarm of kunai knives. "Kill these things already!" she said before she tossed an extra semiautomatic machine pistol to Naomi.
"Well, then let's finish this!" Sarah smiled as she unsheathed her military saber, the blade appearing to have been impregnated with silver nitrate as she diced an approaching Auto-Jäger.
Mary had just diced up another vampire and Vanessa had fired another barrage of bullets when the screams of humans had caught the attention of her sensitive ears.
It was Horace Ethridge and Jasper Heyer. They were about to be sliced apart by an unmasked Death Hunter. The sight of would have made the average human retch; its empty eye-sockets were sewn shut, mechanical parts were into screwed its cerebellum and a gag was sewn into its mouth, its remaining fangs exposed. Fortunately, this tortured soul didn't have to endure this harsh existence any longer as Virgil's talons had brought it the swift blessing of death.
Mr. Ethridge's widened gaze would have been comical had it not been for the gravity of the situation. After the monster that had nearly taken his life, he sank to the floor and began begging Virgil to spare him. The same could not have been said for Mr. Heyer. He had grabbed the nearest fallen weapon and pointed it directly at his subordinate's head.
"Bloody traitor!" Heyer spat. "Ye 'ave no pride's a Knight of Tudor. Ye kno' th' price for treachery!" He then turned his face to Virgil, "Ef ye get any closer, leech, E'll blow this motherfecking bastard's 'ead rig' off!"
Virgil had only taken two steps and Heyer's fingers had tightened upon the trigger, "E said, not anot'er step!"
"Do that and I'll blow YOUR head off, filthy Terran!" screamed Vanessa.
"WAIT! Vanessa! Don't do it!" Virgil ordered.
"He's a Knight of Tudor and a traitor! Why shouldn't I?!"
"Because he has information on the Order! We need them to talk."
"Like 'ell E'm goin' to talk! E'll kill meself before that 'appens!"
"Then why don't you?" Virgil challenged.
The seconds that passed then felt more like a century before Mr. Heyer had looked at Mr. Ethridge's twisted expression of fear, then at Virgil's determined stare and Vanessa's glare. The gun began to tremble in his hand until he dropped his hand. Virgil was about to approach him but then a shot rang out and Virgil fell.
"BROTHER!" Vanessa cried she then turned back to the monster that fired the round and pulled the trigger.
Mr. Heyer had been granted the death he had desired, to die fighting vampires.
Mr. Ethridge had immediately went to the fallen noble's side, but then Vanessa's rifle aimed at him.
"Get your filthy hands off him, you damn dirty Terran! Do it now or I'll kill you!"
Mr. Ethridge raised his hands then said, "I'm only trying to help!"
"Like hell you were!" Vanessa spat.
"He saved my life from one of my own! You might think we don't have honor, but you're mistaken. I was once a doctor before I became Lord of Appeal. Let me save him and in return you can hold me for my crimes and I'll give you all the knowledge I have on the Order of Rosenkreuz. I swear," Mr. Ethridge promised.
Vanessa looked at him and her dying brother. Swear? That was nothing more than a flowery word that only ended in betrayal. She learned very well from bloody Mary how wonderful swears and promises worked out. The thought brought back the time when her people were being oppressed by Bloody Mary and how she planned to do unto the Ghetto what she did unto Belfast. The memory left the bitterest gall upon her tongue; however, she then remembered the young Pope who had spared her, despite her scaring him with her yelling and her holding him hostage. Then she recalled her brother's words:
"No one is as good or as bad as we think they are. That holds true for both Terrans and Methuselah."
However, how can she trust this Terran? He was a member of that band of traitors that were hoping to wipe out her race. After that she recalled that after Esther had become Queen, Bloody Mary herself had a change of heart and afterwards sworn to protect the Queen, and the Albian people, both Terran and Methuselah.
"Vanessa," the Earl choked. "We need him. Don't..."
As Virgil began coughing up his own blood, Vanessa had made her decision.
"Fine. But, I'm warning you, if you backstab us, you'll wish you've never been born."
"Believe me, I already wish that."
"Reminds you of the time the Rosenkreuz invaded doesn't it, Ceres?" Integra asked, after slicing the head off a Death Hunter, her silver sword held aloft.
As soon as the battle began, Sir Integra had used herself as bait to lure the vampires into the quadrangle, where Victoria had finished them off with her anti-Methuselah cannon, the Harkkonen. The Velvet Nightmare was nothing compared to this leviathan. The Harkkonen was thirty meters in length and was designed to be used with both depleted uranium shells and exploding incendiary shells. One shot from this monstrosity would wipe out at least five vampires.
"I'd rather forget that time, Integra," Victoria replied.
"If it weren't for that time, you wouldn't know how to fight, now would you?" Integra snarked.
"Ef ye want, me honest opinion, lassies," Prime Minister Stuart said, one of his eyes had become blood red while the other remained its characteristic forest green, as he stood over two deceased vampires, his cane-sword stained with their blood, "All this fightn' weig's 'eavily on me poor nerves."
"Sometimes we must do what is required of us despite our circumstances. Isn't that what you have told me so long ago, Berserker of Scotia?" Integra declared.
"I'm no longer that man, lassie. Ol' age tends to make ye weaker tha' ye once were, Iron Woman."
"I would think otherwise considering that recent display of your 'Geis.' I can see why the Erins consider you to be the second coming of Cu Chulainn. (4)"
"Um, I hate to interrupt this walk down memory lane... but has anybody noticed that the enemy has vanished?" Victoria asked from between the second floor windows.
Sure enough, all the battalions of vampires and Auto-Jäger Death Hunters had vanished; the only trace left behind was the numbers of the dead and the deceased.
"First the assassination attempt by the Knights of Tudor, then the Tower of Londinium gets blown up and now these legions of vampires and monsters attack the palace. What the bloody hell are those Germanics planning?" Ceres questioned.
"Krieg.(5)" Integra stated icily. "Like on that day two years ago, they plan on sowing the seeds of chaos and hatred, so they can watch the world destroy itself."
Caterina was sitting in her office in the early morning hours trying to digest not only the dried cake that's she'd washed down with tea long gone cold, but also all the information that she had received from her various sources in the Albian court. She pulled the thin mauve robe more tightly around her white nightdress. She couldn't sleep, so she had taken herself as well as her late night snack from her room and returned to her office. When she had gone to bed last night, the thing that was worrying her was her half-brother's placing the Fleet in Franc. This morning, Francesco's machinations had become the least of her worries.
It was hard to say what out of all the conversations she had had during the day was the most troublesome. All of the things Her Eminence had been told had come one on the heels of another. She had no sooner finished pondering the ramifications of one near disaster, when reports of another would present itself. Caterina supposed that she should take comfort in the fact that she had so many people eager to bring her the news, even if what they reported wasn't altogether pleasant.
Cardinal Sforza had last seen the silver haired priest four days ago. As always, he had done what he set out to do. The Queen was still alive, despite the best efforts of multitudes of Esther's enemies to bring about her demise. He had spoken to her of the numerous losses of palace guards, both human and vampire, and of the fact the whole attack was merely a ploy.
The true goal was to keep security on the surface while they had descended into the Ghetto, taking with them peculiar ancient artifacts of Lost Technologies. One of these the Crusnik priest had called the B-VI, the Devil's Sword, was a weapon that could take the lives of many more than those who met their demise that night. The other was a hard drive and memory chips to a rocket control panel. The thieves were none other than the ones who were pulling strings behind the scenes this whole time, the Order of Rosenkreuz. When Abel had specified what these technologies consisted of and who he deemed responsible, Caterina could almost swear that his eyes were stained blood red and the expression on his face was cold with icy rage and wide with agonizing guilt. It was after that that she had inquired about the Crusnik. He had told her that even though he was loaded 100%, he still retained every aspect of his sanity for some unknown reason. However, he still feared that the Crusnik could still do unto him what they did to his lost brother. There was, unfortunately, a side effect to this, despite being at 40% capacity on the night he taken the life of the Tudor Knight, Mr. Creedy, the Crusnik had given him the mentality of when he was in 80% capacity. What had chilled the Woman of Steel to the core was the way his eyes had been so filled with self-loathing and fear of what he could become.
Caterina decided right then to shift the disturbing topic to the Albian Queen. One of the reasons was because she didn't want to see her best friend suffer by his own guilt, but the other was that she couldn't bear it if he had told her that he had blamed her for having done the forbidden by fusing him with his lost love's nanomachines. Fortunately, Abel had gotten the clue and had told her that Esther hadn't suffered one injury from the attack, nor from the attempted assassination. However, the loss of so many Terrans and Methuselah had caused a great deal of mental and emotional weight to descend upon her that Abel was forced to confess his involvement in comforting her. Caterina still smirked at the memory of the blush that spread across his cheeks and the comedic look upon his face.
Afterwards he spoke of Ion's involvement in protecting the handmaidens, despite suffering from silver poisoning, and how one of the girls, Sarah, had personally thanked him by giving him Aqua Vitae, with much appreciation on the Count's part. Then came the topic of Hugue's dramatic arrival into the fray, thus turning the tide in favor to the Albians. Caterina couldn't deny her pleasure of hearing the Sword Dancer had, for once, obeyed her orders and hadn't gone AWOL once the battle had ended. Abel had also told her that another handmaiden, Erica, had taken a liking to the golden blonde priest and he saw him to talking her, despite Hugue's characteristic of being a loner and usually not seeking attention from the opposite sex. The conversation had ended with Abel's stomach comedically growling before she dismissed him.
It had been pleasant to see her old college friend, Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, again. But like her conversation with the AX officer, the report had been a mixture of dark clouds and linings as silver as "Lord" Integra's hair. Integra had reported her side of the attack and bore the same suspicion as to who was really involved than just random vampire terrorists who wanted to paint the town literally red. She had also reported that the Earl of Manchester had been shot by a traitor, but was fortunately recovering with the aid of the turncoat Horace Ethridge, the former Lord of Appeal. Caterina couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief to know that, at last, they had someone who dealt with the Order who was willing to speak. Integra also had confessed that she, too, was content with the sudden turn of events, especially after Lewis Stone was killed. Integra had also mentioned that Virgil's fledgling, Victoria Ceres, was also doing well, despite her refraining from drinking blood, or blood tablets, which resulted in Integra deciding to take the drastic action by feeding the Methuselah herself. Caterina wasn't sure how that was going to end, but hoped that she was making the right choice.
Which reminded Caterina of the fact that she hoped she had made the right decision by sending Father Havel to spy on Emmanuel D'Annunzio. At the time, when she sent the cyborg priest out on his mission five weeks ago, she felt that she was in the right, especially now that Francesco's fleet had landed in Normandy just a few hours ago. Archbishop Emmanuel D'Annunzio, the head of the Vatican Special Police Force, also known as the "Carabineri," had worked consecutively as the former Director of the Inquisition and was the private secretary to the Pope since the time of the previous Pope Gregorio. The Dean of the College of Cardinals at the time feared his abilities and reputation enough to keep him at a distance. However, it was because of Emmanuel D'Annunzio and his political prowess that the city of István was reconstructed after the "Star of Sorrow" incident four to five years ago. And it was D'Annunzio who had proclaimed Esther Blanchett to be the Lady-Saint of István due to her victory against the monster Gyula Kadar and charismatically had the College of Cardinals approve his proclamation.
Unfortunately, Caterina knew that, in private, D'Annunzio's views about vampires were just as extreme as Francesco's. She knew that in the Archbishop's mind, vampires were nothing more than evil beasts that needed to be vanquished and that the Accords would bring for nothing but disaster. Due to his popularity amongst Francesco's followers and his personality, he was gaining power within the Vatican; so much so, it was close to rivaling Cardinal di Medici's influence. If Francesco and D'Annunzio made an alliance and influenced the College, the Accords would no doubt be thrown into flames and inevitable war would break out between the Vatican, the Empire and Albion.
The Minister of State had to ascertain whether D'Annunzio had made such a maneuver to ally himself with Francesco. In response to this internal threat, she had sent Father Václav Havel to keep the Archbishop under surveillance. Being one of Caterina's closest companions, she was confident that he could fulfill his mission without any mishaps. Bearing in mind that his loyalty to Caterina was unquestionable, she could trust him to not rouse suspicions. However, Caterina was now considering a change in his orders; to not only perform surveillance on D'Annunzio, but also Francesco, especially now that the Minister of Doctrine's fleet had landed in Normandy just a few hours ago.
The Republic of Franc was actually the only Human State that had a democracy as a functioning political system. However, the Vatican feared the Republic, and as a means to keep Franc under their control, the Vatican had created a political figurehead to ensure that the Republic would remain loyal to them. Officially, the figurehead held the title of a Potentate, with limited political powers and was only a ruler in writing not in executive and legislative powers. Unfortunately, the current Potentate Henri XI had the audacity to call himself a King and in doing so had created the proverbial political minefield. Worse yet, Henri was a self-absorbed, licentious excuse for a ruler and should he attain absolute power, the people would no doubt suffer because of it.
Now that the Inquisitorial Department had landed in Normandy, the situation would only get worse. She knew of the Inquisition's intolerable acts toward those they held under Martial Law and, if either humans or vampires acted against them or interfered, they would die despite the Franco-Vatican treaty and the Accords. The Cardinal also suspected that whatever plans that Chief Minister of Doctrine and the Francian Potentate plotted, they were probably using the failed assassination of the Albian Queen to set it into motion. No doubt the Francians would blame the Albians for bringing the Inquisition down on their necks. To the Francians, it was almost as if the Albion had plotted to have their own Queen assassinated in order to give the Vatican free reign over their country.
As bad as the self-proclaimed King as well as the Duke of Florence were, the person the Duchess of Milan was currently most concerned about was the President of the Francian Republic and former General of the Francian Army, Marie de Guise. Marie was of the distinguished de Guise family and had supplied the poor with food and money out of her own fortune. She, along with the Methuselan Senator Diane de Portieres, had begun to sway the Congress into giving the Methuselah of Franc more rights and legalizing the selling of enriched blood products for Methuselan citizens. Marie also had an incredibly successful political military record of ending the border skirmishes with Germanicus, and was an incredible diplomat, turning conflicts to the favor of the Francian people.
President de Guise had been outspoken in many a Congress Session that the Republic should consult with the Vatican to remove the so-called King from power and many times she consulted with Cardinal Sforza to speak with His Holiness that he may decree the dismissal of the Potentate, so that Franc could function as a normal democracy once more. Unfortunately, Francesco had interfered each and every time with the statement that only a Cardinal or the Potentate may consult a meeting with the Pope and hinted that should the Congress move against the Potentate, they would be moving against the Vatican and doing so would result in open hostilities between the Inquisition and the Francian Military. Marie had expressed great sorrow, anger and regret in attempting to consult with the Vatican and Caterina suspected that those in the Order of Rosenkreuz would attempt to make allies with her with the false promise of removing Henri from power and hereby removing the Vatican from the country... permanently.
The Chief Minister of State needed to ascertain whether or not Marie had done the worst, which was why she sent Father Tres Iqus. Being an android, he could logically assess the situation and fulfill his mission without any chance for a faux pas. The Milanese Cardinal had an incredible feeling that the Inquisition's landing in Franc was probably one of Francesco's illegal political abuses and she may yet, after two long years of covering up Francesco's shenanigans, in flagrante delicto -catch him in the act.
Despite how much weight could be lifted off her shoulders at that possibility, what would enlighten her spirits more than anything would be the achievement of her lifelong goal: retribution for the monsters who took the life of her beloved mother. She hoped that she may yet live to see the day when the Order of Rosenkreuz would be exposed to the world and both Terrans and Methuselah would unite to bring them down. Caterina knew that she did not have much time left. It was soon to run out.
It was evident as she began coughing up blood.
A/N: Dun da Dun DUN! (laughs maniacally) The eeevvviiilll Sith Lady has not only returned after a long period of time, but also leaves you all a cliffie! (Mwa, ha, ha, ha!) Finally after seven months of writer's block I have completed THE MOST difficult chapter for me to write. (Dances with a flurry of blue roses.) Though I must confess another reason why I've been taking so long to write was because of college exams and paperwork I need to fill out before the next semester starts. (Ay Mama.) However, I got to go to MegaCon once again, see dear Vic Mignogna-sama (the English voice of Virgil Walsh) I also got to meet Todd Haberkorn (Viscount Druitt from Black Butler), Laura Bailey (Tohru Honda), and Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang - who is dead sexy in a miniskirt. XD.) And while I was suffering from writer's block I found inspiration from Hellsing: Ultimate OVA 1-4, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, TsukiYomi MoonPhase, the Fullmetal Alchemist Original Anime, re-watching Trinity Blood and also listening to my new favorite: Vocaloid music. XD. And good news to everybody, I now have a Facebook account. (So friend me, 'kay?) Anyway, I hope the next update will be A LOT quicker than this one. Have a blessed day, to you all. 3 BTW Kudos points to the one who can spot the Harry Potter reference and the Planet of the Apes reference.
Updated A/N: The reason I decided to alter the last paragraphs of this Chapter was because I altered former plotpoints that I removed because I was getting too out into left field with my ideas. (I give my personal thanks to smcandy for helping me to figure this out.) The original plotpoints I had intended for this fanfiction had originated from an original fiction about an Alternate Universe concerning the French Revolution. I hereby decided to eliminate this plotline and henceforth will no longer be involved with this fanfiction.
(1) Indirect reference to The Inferno by Dante Alighieri. It was Dante's belief that the Ninth Ring of Hell held those who had committed treason in their life on Earth before death. It was also believed by Dante that the Ninth Ring of Hell was not a burning pit of flame but a place of darkness and coldness. For the absolute absence of God, who is warmth and light, is dark and cold.
(2) Indirect reference to J.R.R Tolkien's second novel Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.The Balrog of Morgoth, Durin's Bane, was a powerful fire demon that haunted the halls of Khazad-dûm. (And by fire demon I don't mean like Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle. Think of a monstrous horned beast with flames spewing from its body and its mouth, armed with a flaming sword and a many thronged whip.) It almost led to the demise of Gandalf the Grey, but instead Gandalf destroyed the Balrog with his Elven-sword, Glamdring, and eventually became Gandalf the White due this victory against a great evil.
(3) Quoted from the Latin Vulgate Gospel of Matthew 26:52, the translation from the KJV is: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." This proverb is also regularly used by Hugue throughout the Trinity Blood novels and Manga.
(4) Cu Chulainn was an Irish warrior who was so strong that as a boy he killed a lunging hound with his bare hands, which earned his name meaning "Hound of Culann." He also defended Ulster from Queen Mebd's army in the Cattle Raid of Cooley. However, she along with the Goddess of War, Morrigan, through betrayal and the power of a "Geis" (Note: to all Code Geass fans who are reading this, this is where we get the word "Geass" from. ;) ), bestowed madness upon him and eventually he was mortally wounded by his own spear. However, he refused to fall in battle and therefore he lashed himself to a stone pillar and died on his feet. The only one to disturb him was Morrigan who took on the form of a raven and perched herself upon his shoulder.
(5) German for "War." If you want an example of Nazi German war listen to the Major's "I Love War" speech from Hellsing OVA 4. Here's the YouTube link www. youtube watch ?v= KUB9QGKCNmI (remove the spaces, and add the punctuation is picky about that. :P )
(6) Indirect reference to Revelation . War, Plague, Famine and Death were said to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that would come when the Lamb of God would open the first four seals of the World's Fate.