Soul Calibur II - Dawn of Darkness

Chapter VIII - Haunting Pasts and Preparations

A body of black-armored soldiers in ranks as far as the eye could see were locked in a struggle with an equally large force of unnatural beasts from the deepest pits of hell. The colliding armies pushed each other violently, neither able to gain ground, and neither giving it. The roars of war endlessly played throughout the battle, the clangs of metal on metal, skin and bone resounded higher than the cries of pain. Banners flowed with the cold wind that blew from the high mountains of Angoria to the swamps of Vedigaard, land under the demonic beasts.

In the center, a tall warrior stood higher than the rest, his sword and shield bloodied from the fight. Across the small distance stood a humanoid clad in heavy armor. The helm of this evil combatant was shaped like a funnel, only having two small holes for the wearer to see through, yet his mouth and nose was left unprotected by the visor.

The warrior was clad in the same black armor as his fellow soldiers, only he bore the black cape that symbolized the highest of ranks. King.

The king's golden locks were meddled with sweat and dirt that had been kicked up by the skirmish he and his soldiers had fought in all morning. His dark and menacing glare burned his target, the enemy general, Onyx, whose sinister and overly confident grin taunted his opponent. The black king snorted at his arrogant enemy, the sweat on his nose creating a mist and reminding those who were watching of a bull ready to charge. The glowing blue eyes of the Dragon and Wolf, emblem of the dark king, shimmered ominously in the dim light of Kingdom's day, taunting the enemy with its signs of life, challenging them to make it die.

A stray demon soldier broke through the line that formed the small arena where the army's leaders had fought for the majority of the time and rushed the king. It lifted its hideously malformed sword arm and launched a clumsy stab. The king side-stepped the attack, grabbed the creature's arm, pulled it to his side, released and than struck it in the chest with his mighty fist. The leverage of the move gave the king the momentum to lift the demon high and slam it down on its spine. The force of the impact caused several bones to break on the rock beneath their feet. All in one fluid motion.

It didn't have time to cry out as the black boot of the king crushed its head mercilessly. But as the king looked up, the enemy general had made his move. He was too close to counter this crushing assault.

Cassandra opened her eyes slowly, it was another vision of the king's bloody past. She sighed, that was the fifth one since they bunkered down in this abandoned cave earlier that night, after fleeing the castle which had been consumed by the king's suicidal fire. She still couldn't believe that she was now in the middle of a thousand year war between two rulers in a world filled with shadow. She didn't even understand how she came here. Sophitia had taken her out for a ride in Athens when all went black. They had felt as if they were being ripped apart and reformed somewhere else. When they awoke, the two were laying in the middle of a road at the foothill of a lone mountain with a massive cave entrance.

She wiped her weary eyes, yesterday was a long day full of crazy things that happened so fast. She barely even had time to register that she was in a new world that her realm had never even knew existed. Her sky blue eyes glanced off to the darkness of the fields. Something was following her, several eyes had been on her since the group left the castle. Although she gave no hint that she was looking, she never spotted the perpetrators.

She spoke to the three leading them about this, but the general's had not felt as if there was any threat following. By Wolfiah's words, if danger was close by, they would know by natural instinct. Yvi and Veran also felt no threat. However Raphael and Yun-Seong believed her, as did the quiet Sophitia who was still accepting the fact that she was dead for a minute or so only hours before hand.

Sophitia. Even now as Cassandra glanced at her, she could see that she was as determined as she was. The Moon Pearl, as Veran called it, was being safely guarded by her sister who held it close as Link instructed. She had given that Draconian bow and quiver of arrows to Sophitia to use, she had no skill with archery, but Sophitia was somewhat experienced at best and was a better choice as the archer. Added, it was important to keep her at reasonable distance from any of the evil king's spawns.

A small hum drew Cassandra's attention to the legendary blade of Evil's bane, the Master Sword which rested next to her right leg. For some reason, when she held it, she always used her left hand. However when she swapped back to her Athenian sword, she felt more comfortable with the right hand. It must of had to do with the spirit of the hero now resting in her, or the Triforce relic on her left hand. Which one it really was, she couldn't tell. Another odd thing was that she could not leave it alone for a moment or it reappeared on her back, as if it refused to be left behind, even for a moment.

It annoyed her, the sword was rather big and really heavy. She needed breaks every now and then after walking with it on her back. The only time she got the rest she wanted was if she was still touching it in some way while it was off her back. However she knew no one could steal it. Yun-Seong tried to touch it once and was sent flying. The Korean's hair was even spikier than last time because of the shock it had given him as warning.

She had to admit, that was pretty amusing. Raphael, of course, found it hysterical but Sophitia reprimanded them for laughing at the sight. The only ones who didn't show anything on that was the general's and the two servants. They opted to remain neutral and ignored that scene. Whether they did it out of sense of duty, or nothing was really funny in Kingdom.

This land was really strange, and despite the similarities to her home world, very different. It was in a constant state of twilight during the day, and the night was not natural at all. They had tried to light torches to see where they were going but a shroud of the night's darkness consumed that light and left them with a very short and unreliable range to see.

Yvi, luckily for the group, could see in this type of pitch blackness. It made sense, she was a blood-drinker. But not like a typical vampire, she could withstand daylight. And, as it turns out, she was based on a tribe that is native to the Dark World, known simply as blood-drinkers of Revinor. Soul Edge must have felt that that tribe was perfect for what it needed in a servant. Too bad the evil sword never got the chance to make more like Yvi. Ivy and Siegfried crushed it before it could unleash a second Evil Seed.

It was cold, even with the warmth from the fire nearly singeing the six who were still flesh and bone, the cold of Kingdom was practically immune to Life's warmth. It seemed to pass right through the protection of warmth and seep into the fiber of the living, sending a constant shiver across their flesh. One more thing that annoyed Cassandra greatly. As if the task she decided to take on was not enough of a burden, but a persistent holy sword and the cold that wont let her stay comfortable long enough to fall back to sleep.

She hated it here. Already she missed Patroklos and Phyrra, the warmth of her home and the love of her parents. It could not dawn on her how the people of this world lived in it without loosing their minds. She surely would of, standing on some mountain top and screaming her head of to the land to stop making her miserable.

Such a silly thought, she concluded. At least she still had the capacity to day dream her own madness...'For now,' she thought darkly.

Nearby, princess Sheik sat cross-legged at a fire of her own. In her hands was the shawl she wore in the presence of strangers. It had been awhile since she had used it. She smiled down at it; as if greeting an old friend. She missed the days of old, almost wishing she had not inherited the gift, or curse in her opinion, of immortality from her mother, the Sheikan Queen and Shadow Sage Impa. How furious she would be when she finds out that she left her leadership training under the black rider's general at Angor Mountain. But she was ready to counter it with the fact that she was now siding with the king's chosen.

But she couldn't think of a good excuse for the king ordering of his guard removing their presence from Fan'Gorn. She knew to be wise and stay out of her mother's way when she gave that report. Despite the defeat that Link suffered a thousand years ago, the war was still active, but at a stalemate. Neither side had made a move since Link was sealed away. It made her and the Sheikah wonder what Ganon was up to. Without the support of the dark army, the Sheikah nations were utterly powerless to stop an onslaught. So...what was he waiting for?

She lifted her gaze from her shawl to the figure in front of her. In front of her, sat the black rider himself, washing and sharpening his sword in silence, as if he knew she was thinking and gave her the peace to contemplate her next choice. In his right hand was a smoothly shaped rock he carried with him, in his left was that ridiculously huge piece of metal he used as his weapon. As if massaging his mistress' back, he passed the rock back and forth on the edge of the black steel with smooth motion.

He briefly lifted his eyes from his task at her and returned to sharpening.

"...You've been thinking." He stated.

She didn't answer him, but rather glared off to the distant forest path that led to Para Du'l. Evil lurked in the outskirts of that once beautiful place inhabited by the angelic elves who served the kingdom as servants, now transformed into male Centaurs and female succubus demons. She had friends there when the evil radiation reached the woodlands of Para Du'l, friends she had grown up with, friends that never made it out.

"They're getting too close to Para Du'l..." She noted quietly. He nodded, obviously aware of this. "We can't let them get any closer, Morgoth. Those devils could snatch them up and drag them to the very pits of the Underworld and-"

"-And that would be the end of my lord's chosen, I know, Sheik." He silenced her. "I have faith in Wolfiah, Shadowess and Dragonia. You should too. Yvi and Veran know well that failure is never met lightly, they wont lead them astray. And I advise you to not doubt the Chosen One's spirit. I can feel how strong she truly is...Even at this distance." He muttered without meeting her gaze. Sheik glared furiously at him.

"I'm not going to let the only chance of freeing Link slip my fingers because you have faith in a couple of ghosts, a sarcastic pair of servants, and some girl who can cave in under pressure because she lacks experience with this darkness! Why can't someone else take her place? Someone who knows what they're doing?" She hissed like a serpent. Morgoth lifted his head with an unimpressed frown rather quickly.

"You shouldn't be so picky. She made it out alive with her sister and the others, did she not? The Master Sword accepts her as its new wielder, is that correct? Nya?" He asked to seemingly no one with a sharp tone. The ball of white light with wings floated out of the hood of Sheik's cloak and landed on her head.

"It's true...If the blade of Evil's bane sees fit to allow someone other than the hero to touch its hilt, it considers them worthy enough to wield it." Nya acknowledged, her glow dimming and allowing her wise figure to be seen. Morgoth gave Sheik a small, wry smirk of victory. She continued to glare with doubt.

"I know how the Master Sword works-" She tried.

"Then you know now that she can be trusted to lead in our king's step. She's proved herself already by surviving the infestation of the Black Fortress." Morgoth interrupted, speaking slowly, as if the subject did not interest him. His way of saying he wished to drop the topic. Sheik grunted her protest. But said no more. She grumpily put her shawl on and turned her heated gaze back on Morgoth who had returned to silently washing his sword and sharpening out any missed ends. Nya shook her head at the two and retreated to the hood to finish sleeping.

"...If something goes wrong-"

"-Which nothing will,"

"-I'm holding you personally responsible..."

"As you wish, my princess."

"We're loosing ships fast!" One of the soldiers called from the crow's nest of a nearby warship. Cannon fire resounded constantly as the fight continued without rest, only the odds were now split. A new enemy had come to fight, but not for either side. The conflict was now split into a three-way battle for the participant's lives.

The king burst through the doors of his flagship, the Dragons Head, with his sword in hand. Following closely behind him was Sarah, his caretaker, who shouted command after command to the soldiers on deck loading the cannons and firing their bows at hostile infantry and sailors.

With heavy stomps, the king reached the railing of his flagship and looked out to the seas, gripping the black oak with a viscous grip. He could see the problem, Mermaids allied with Dark World Zora, looking for meals. He watched as they tore through one of his vanguard vessels in phalanx formation and dragged his soldiers to the depths of the Blood Sea. Turning on his heel, the king marched up the stairs to the helm and the wheel, pushing the captain aside without remorse and turning the wheel to full port. The massive ship began to turn, the dragon statues that decorated its hull seemed to creek with the wood of the deck. Messengers shouted commands to the other vessels to stir clear of the flagship. They barely had time to comply and nearly escaped the Dragons Head's spiked and heavily armored bow, but several of the enemy's vessels suffered ramming.

The Dragons Head quickly made its way to the intruding fleet of aquatic creatures, to whom were now targeting the king's vessel. Their hands tore at the wood, but some mysterious force kept them from penetrating it. As if the gods themselves forbade them to harm the king's vessel. Their morale began to decrease as superstition took hold. As the Dragons Head neared the intruder's middle ranks, the king stepped up to the railing once more.

He said nothing. His seething expression spoke louder than his desire to roar in outrage. He stepped onto the railing, standing tall and raised his palms above his head. The emblem on his armor began to glow more brightly, the atmosphere seemed to be pulled into the space in between the king's palms and a dark shadow formed. He closed his eyes, focusing on the power that now pulsed vividly in his veins, willing the darkness to obey his command. Sudden sparks of light appeared near him and also entered the swirling void the king had summoned, converting themselves into the darkness he called. As the void grew larger and stronger, a loud hum overcame the canon fire.

Now, all eyes were upon him. He mentally smiled, he did not want the enemy to miss just how hopeless it was for them. With a whirl of his hands, the mass ball disappeared briefly, but as the king pushed an invisible force at the sea where the third faction had come, it was unleashed.

A thousand screams of pain and terror welcomed his assault. The answering cheer of the black army at his back, cried louder than the horrid screeching. But it was not over, the king moved his hands into the same direction of the enemy's vessels, and a large majority of their flank was consumed.

There were no survivors. No Zora, no Mermaid, and no demon.

General Sarah walked up next to him, horrified by the display before her. She gagged as she caught wind of burned flesh and the sight of the decimated Mermaids and Zora. She looked up to her father, the one who breathed his life into her chest. He did not acknowledge her presence, not as he turned away and walked back into the cabin. She followed him, climbing the dais of his throne and taking her position behind him. He said nothing as she gazed at the back of his head. Finally, she mustered the courage to speak.

"My lord, perhaps that wasn't the best way to mediate the intruder's from participating in the battle...we could face a war on two fronts..." She cautiously reasoned. She knew he didn't care for that, he was the dark king. He feared no race, no warrior, no nation of any size or power, war was just another era of fighting in his existence. He turned his head slightly to his left, seemingly to address her.

"They have not accepted my peace keeping envoys that I sent out of respect, asking they not partake in the war. If they want to participate in this war, I will bring the war to their doors. If they want a fight; I'll give them a fight, if they want a contest of strength; I'll give them a contest! Next time, their deaths will not be so merciful." He answered harshly.

Sarah lowered her head in defeat. She would not be able to silence his rage this time, the two races have just insulted him with their involvement in the war. He did not take such action kindly. In this war, you were either on the dark king's side, or the evil king's. Most races were wise to side with the dark king, their alliance with him guaranteed he would not raze their lands to the grounds. They all knew he was hellbent on annihilating the evil one, and anyone who stood in his way.

"-Cassandra, wake up." Sophitia's voice called. Cassandra opened her eyes once more. She grunted with irritation, another glimpse of the king's involvement in the Shadow Wars. She looked up to her sister who stood over her, she smiled assuringly at Cassandra, as if she knew she wasn't having much luck resting.

"I keep seeing him in my dreams." Cassandra admitted. Sophitia put her sack down and sat next to her. She gave a brief glance to the others who were now awake and moving about the cave. Except for Yun-Seong, who was still sleeping with a disgruntled Raphael trying to wake him up but not having much luck.

"What do you see?" Sophitia asked, somewhat cautiously. Cassandra shrugged.

"Well, the last few were about him and his soldiers fighting his enemy, this last one though took place in a sea. I saw him wipe out a rather large group of Mermaids and some other kind of sea warriors that were attacking his and his enemy's fleet."

"It sounds like they were kind of doing him a favor...but I can see why he did what he did. Mermaids are treacherous. They have phenomenal strength..."

"I know, I remember the stories back home. It's just how he did it, that makes me think if he is different from that demon king."

"If I recall the stories correctly, I think I remember something about that betrayal changing him in his heart as well. Being controlled by an evil monarch will really affect you after 6 years." Sophitia pointed out. "He is different, its just what he went through still affects how he goes about doing things."

"I'm not saying that I doubt him as a good leader, I mean, I never heard anything about the people complaining about his rule. In the dream, he said something about peace envoys he sent to those things, I guess they didn't want peace."

"That usually is the case. Especially with Mermaids, they're strong-willed. Alliances isn't something they care about, if your human, and they're hungry, to them you're their dinner."

Cassandra nodded. She knew plenty on the Mermaids, but none about those other fish-like creatures. They were strange and hideous. She recalled seeing one of them with its jaws open, and the row of teeth she saw glimmer in the light of the cannon fire were reminiscent of sharks. She had faced Mermaids before, they could lure any weak-minded man to their deaths, but their seductions were of no effect on women. Yvi and Veran suddenly appeared at her side.

"We must move on, gather your gear...and help us wake this imbecile up." Yvi begged, gesturing to the still sleeping Yun-Seong. The two sisters shared a look, Sophitia pulled Cassandra to her feet without bothering to pick up the Master Sword. Right on cue, it instantly was strapped to her back. She reached up with her left hand and pulled it free of the decorative scabbard, and walked towards the sleeping Korean and the frustrated aristocrat. She bent down next to Yun-Seong and let the hilt of her sword touch his hand and watched the sparks fly.

A lone Sheikah galloped across the dark fields, ahead of him was the magnificent city of Nergia. Behind him, a group of Moblins chased after. He urged his stallion faster, trying to reach the city gates before the Moblins reached him. On the battlements of the wall, Sheikan archers readied their bows for the Moblins.

"Hoy! I come by order of the princess! Open the gates!" The rider called as loudly as he could.

At his words, several patrol officers shouted commands to the sentries on guard at the gates. The large doors fitted with heavy spikes began to creep open, it would be close. The rider huffed and puffed as his horse did, he could hear the roars of the creatures behind him grow closer. He could almost feel their spears upon his back. But luckily for him, several painful grunts emitted from the brutes at his back just as the archers gave him some cover fire, now that he was within their range.

Just as the last Moblin was shot down, he dashed into the gates and the soldiers heaved it closed. He jumped off his tired ride and let a stable hand collect the tired animal. With renewed breath, he dashed into the streets, calling the citizens to make way.

After a long run through the markets, he finally stood at the royal palace gates. He showed his mark to the guards who opened the gates for him. As he strode rather quickly on, he repeated his sign of clearance and was eventually at the doors that lead to the queen's throne chamber. The two thickly soldiers standing at the doors pushed it open and let him in. He walked in, it was kept lit by torches on the wall, lined like knights presenting their arms in salute.

The room was narrow, not like most throne chambers, pillars lined the sides to which the torches were mounted upon, and at the other end, stood a dais and a purple throne with black velvet covering the cushions. Upon the elegant throne sat a woman who's beauty was eerie, but very enchanting. She seemed to be in her late 30's, but her immortality protected her from the decay of time. Her ruby eyes were lined by black mascara, her hair was whiter than snow, but with what little others could see of her physic under the fur and armor she wore, she was in excellent shape to fight on a moment's notice.

Her armor bore an odd sign, three balls circling themselves with small tails behind them. The sign was that of the Shadow Sage. This same sign was embedded on the throne and the walls also bore this symbol. The crimson red lips of the queen curled in a smile of greeting to which the messenger bowed his head in respect.

He reached the dais, stopping as he stood before the queen of his people, the great Impa. He dropped to his knee and waited.

"Rise, my friend. I trust you bring me news that my daughter is passing her training?" The queen's strong voice spoke gently. The Sheikah shook his head as he stood back up.

"No, my queen. I bring an urgent message from the princess..." At his words, the queen stood from her throne. Now that more light was on her, it was easy to see the Gothic-like design of her attire, she wore a black shirt and dark blue shorts that fit her form well under her armor, and a single short sword was sheathed behind her back.

"The Imperial king has awoken-" At this, the queen's eyes widened, "-several warriors from his past now ride for this city, he has named them his chosen. And, he has named one of them the new Hero. She carries the Master Sword with her, and the relic of Courage..."

"...What else?"

"The princess has called on the rider to join her as she watches over them on their journey here. The princess also sends word that when she returns, she must speak with you in private." With that, the messenger stepped back.

The queen placed her right palm on her head. Closing her eyes, she searched the land for the chosens, within moments, she caught sight of them running by the woodlands of Para Du'l, far away enough to not draw the attention of the lurkers within the cursed wood. She sensed a presence looming behind the group, passing her vision by to the source, she saw her daughter on her mare and the left hand of Link on his stallion galloping just slow enough to keep a reasonable distance from the others.

" has begun. Our lord has named his chosen champions, ready a battle force to ride out and meet them at the end of the Path of Orgus." Queen Impa commanded to her captain of the guard who saluted and stepped out.

The queen unbuttoned her ceremonial fur coat, discarding it on her throne. She stood tall, her figure thin yet athletic, dressed in her familiar assassin's guard that she used when she guarded the Hero's sister. Striding to a mirror, the queen took a cloth and wiped the mascara from her eyes and took her crown, which was red in color and shaped with many spires that were designed so that the middle was the highest point and the sides declined in height, and placed it on the arm rest of her throne. She pulled a small band from a pocket behind her and pulled her long, wavy hair into a single pony tail so it would not obstruct her view.

She turned around and looked to the portraits upon the walls, reminiscing of the old days. With one more small and happy smile, she was ready.

A/N: That's all I have for this chapter. I have to say, despite how short it was compared to the last few, I favor this one over the rest because it didn't seem as corny or...stupid, as the last one did. No more little dumb chants or blah blah blah, I felt like a bloody fool now that I read back on it.

So yes, story is now more serious as it should be, I opened up a bit more to its background and named a few places. Yes, the elves of Para Du'l are affected by gender in what they were transformed into, so the male elves became large and short tempered Centaurs, while the female elves were transformed into dangerously seducing succubus. I'm also, keeping the humor to a minimal as much as I can, don't want to spoil the story which is meant to be as morbid as I can make it. I am planning on redoing the first dozen chapters like before, I already have an intro made that may require me to delete the previous chapters. So if you read those, you'll have to review with anonymous reviews. Wish it wasn't like that, but we know how it is, don't we?

In a weird, twisted way, some of my other stories are linked to this one and others, in that I use the same background for the other large projects, the same places in this story exist in the others, such as Para Du'l. And I use the same pattern as well, like Oni being the Hylian god of Darkness and the Terminian god of Demons. But time line wise, this story takes place wa-a-ay ahead of the others, so these incarnations have no recollection of the adventures they shared in the story, for example, "Tale of Heroes". But, if you look at it a little more closer, the time lines between this story and the other stories are so far-stretched that they are almost not linked with each other. So it's a 50-50 chain link. This one, either takes place way before, or way after my other stories, but the main point of it is to be radically different in what you would typically expect of a Zelda or Soul Calibur story. And with any luck, I'm doing that well, aside from the last few chapters that I am not satisfied with...

Now, I ask that if you're reading this story, please leave me a review on your thoughts. Good day! Also, sorry for the wait, if I want this story to be done right, I have to go about writing it right, and that means long breaks without thinking of it that much, and then returning and spending a few days working on it, like I did with this one.

Please review! Good day.