The long path to destruction

Standing in the middle of the forest, Viola and Zwei wondered what to do now that Patroklos left.

-I don't think we continue to Eastern Sachsen now? Asked Viola.

Zwei thought for a moment.

-I think the captain wanted us to keep an eye on the Holy warrior. So that we go on the battlefield without him would be useless. But… if we follow…

-He will flee from us. Anyway he will be back. I told you.

-Yeah, but… How do we explain that to the captain?

-We just say the dog will come back soon.

Zwei didn't seem too happy with that solution. Siegfried asked them to keep an eye on Patroklos and the first thing they do is let him go away with Soul Calibur… Viola continued.

-We should go home. To tell where the sword is and if we go on the battlefield in Eastern Sachsen, we may get injured and not be able to inform the captain about the dog's departure.

-Yeah, but we could follow the dog…

-Non.

-You're quite categorical…

Zwei thought about it again. He really hated the idea of coming back home to Siegfried and tell him they let Patroklos go with Soul Calibur… Just to imagine the face Siegfried would do…

Viola suddenly stopped moving, she quickly gazed around and lifted her head to some tree, quickly sending her orb over there.

-Ouch! I'm not ready to play yet! Said a voice in the tree as the orb hit it.

Zwei quickly turned around and looked at the much bushy tree. Something was falling from it, or maybe climbing down quite fast, maybe falling and climbing down at the same time… But the branches and leaves were quite agitated. Then both Viola and Zwei noticed the colourful haired assassin letting herself fall down from the tree for the last distance remaining and landing with a smile on the ground. She seemed amused.

-Woah! You almost had me there, Amy! That was… fun! I thought I'd surprise you but… you won! At least, you didn't make me fall in the mud like Solnhofen! That was so funny! It's quite muddy around here but I didn't fall in any mud puddle! You missed for that!

Tira made some steps as she swung her ringblade around her.

-I wanted to kill your boyfriend by surprise before you noticed me but now it seems I'm against the two of you… Oh! But I got friends as well! I'm not alone! Nope! Nope!

Tira then whistled and many watchers, very large watchers, came. They quickly launched at the malfested couple, hitting them with their beak and talons… As Viola and Zwei were busy trying to parry their attacks and to reply, Tira ran toward them and not far away, she crouched and swung her ringblade at both their feet.

-Dance!

Viola quickly jumped over the dangerous ringblade while Zwei fell down, grunting in pain. With the birds in his face, he didn't see the low attack. At least he wore leather boots, the wound was not as bad as it could have been. Still on the ground, he called Ein. The spirit wolf appeared and launched itself at the flock of birds over Viola and Zwei, sending them falling everywhere. Meanwhile, the werewolf quickly rolled toward Tira and slashed at her.

-Time to... finish this!

-Yeah right! Said the crazy assassin while backing away from the blade.

She continued backing away some distance and began to talk alone. She wondered what kind of fun she could have with Zwei, so Jolly asked Gloomy:

-Can I use him?

-Nah, he's useless. We can only kill him fast. answered Gloomy.

Agreeing with herself, she then came back swinging her dangerous weapon toward Zwei who was getting up. She swiftly slashed her ringblade at Zwei who parried the strike with his sword but fell down with the force of the blow. Tira then quickly ran and jumped on his stomach, sending him sliding in the mud as she was surfing on him.

-I don't need you. You're no fun! I want to see you destroyed!

Still standing on him, Tira told him:

-I'm gonna kill you now, you ready?

-Silence. Leave him.

Viola quickly slashed Tira from behind with her claw, stopping Tira's momentum as she was about to swing her ringblade to cut the werewolf. The assassin turned to her with a smile as her back was all scratched and bloodied.

-Amy! Glad you joined the game!

Tira quickly began to holahoop with her ringblade, trying to slash the seer who quickly backed away some feet.

-So you can predict the future? Can you predict… this?

As she spoke, Tira jumped down from Zwei who gasped and launched at Viola like if she was about to swing her ringblade at her but quickly finished her move with a kick in Viola's stomach, sending her down.

-Oh, you can't…

She turned to Zwei once more as he was getting up.

-Hey! Boyfriend! Can you predict this?

Since Zwei was still standing on the muddy patch, she quickly ran to him and threw herself on her knees to slide toward him, making him fall over her by tripping over her ringblade. She told them merrily:

-But I can predict your future! You'll marry… Nah, you'll die! Today!

Viola sent her orb toward Tira who quickly sidestepped the glowing orb, once as it came toward her and another time as it came back to Viola.

-Owie! That was fun! You're funny! Maybe we can be friends again!

-Fiend.

-Fiends are as fun as friends! I can't wait to see you in pieces!

Viola sent her orb again toward Tira.

-Perish.

Tira once again gracefully evaded the orb by tumbling away. She really liked that game of evading the ball. Amy was fun!

-Over here! I'm here! Woohoo! Here, kitty, kitty! Let's play more!

But as she was having fun with Viola's orb, she didn't notice Zwei who quickly came and slashed at her left arm. Tira back away some feet, a little surprised. She then bashed her head on her ringblade repeatedly while Zwei stared at her a little surprised before she looked at him and asked him as her forehead began to bleed:

-Are you afraid?

Zwei wasn't afraid but mostly confused: Why does she hurt herself? She was crazy! Whatever. He pushed those questionning aside and decided to attack. But Tira had become Gloomy and violently slashed at the werewolf.

-I'll... shred you!

Backing away as she cut his thigh, Zwei got surprised by the sudden increased violence. Tira's attacks now increased in fury and in speed.

-Sorry, time's up. said the gloomy assassin.

And she quickly slashed reapeatedly at Zwei who tried to parry her furious strikes but got hit many times and fell down.

-Lie down and die already!

Viola sent her orb and as Tira evaded it, she came and slashed at the crazy woman with her claw, cutting through her right arm. Viola coldly told Tira:

-Don't touch him.

-It's too late, I already touched him! All the blood on him is proof enough! Said Tira with a maniacal expression.

She quickly rotate her Eiserne Drossel and slashed at Viola who didn't have the time to back away and fell down.

-Ein! Come forth!

The spirit wolf interrupted Tira, who was about to slash at Viola again, picked her and threw her toward Zwei, who had got up. The werewolf welcomed her with his blade and thrust it in her shoulder. Tira screamed in pain and fell down. Before she could even get up, Viola, who had got up, made some gesture, crossed her arms and said:

-Time for bed. Now sleep forever.

A magic mark appeared behind Tira and she suddenly felt pushed toward the orb and immobilized. As Viola launched at Tira, violently slashing her with her claw and kicking her, Zwei also came and slashed at the crazy assassin who fell down with the many unending strikes.

-Ungh… You're such pains… You're getting... boring! grunted Gloomy Tira, trying painfully to get up.

Zwei ran to her trying to knock her out. Maybe they should not kill her already; they had a lot of questions to ask her about Raphael and they should give her to justice after. After all, she was wanted.

-Tremble. Said Viola as she also came toward the assassin to slash at her. She would make her pay for her father. She really didn't like that woman, she probably killed Raphael and she was now trying to hurt her beloved. No need to keep her for questionning, she'll never talk. Viola only wanted to slash her throat. But suddenly, many birds came before them, annoying them and forbidding them to reach Tira. Viola furiously sent her orb in the flock, trying to reach Tira while Zwei slashed at the birds as well. When they cleared up, Tira was nowhere to be seen.

-... the hell?! Said Zwei, wondering how she could disappear that fast.

He looked around: The crazy assassin really had disappeared… He only heard in the distance the caws of some birds. Gazing in this direction, he said:

-You'll never win, not in a hundred years.

He quickly turned to Viola with concern.

-You okay?

Viola had been scratched and cut in many places but Zwei seemed to have suffered more from Tira's brutallity, so Viola worried for him.

-Yes. And you?

-I'm fine, thank you.

But this 'surprise' attack convinced Zwei to go back to the fortress. Even if none of them was seriously wounded now, they had many injuries and he didn't want anything to happen to Viola. If that crazy woman had her mind fixed on killing her, she would probably come back sooner or later. Siegfried would probably understand that. Viola's safety was more important than following Patroklos and Soul Calibur.


Meanwhile far away in Hungary, Graf Dumas thought he would now have to prepare his trip to see Rudolf… He already delayed it enough… And he had to take back his daughter from that dirty werewolf… He was still annoyed at himself for his earlier bad mood while talking to his friend: Dampierre asked him two times about Amy, Dampierre was willing to help him in his relation with his daughter, Dampierre is the only one to know his real identity and he knows Amy, Amy knows him, even if she may not remember him but Hilde or Siegfried could tell her about him since they don't know he was working for Graf Dumas… Dampierre could have come subtilely, like a friend and take her back… Dampierre was the best choice for such a mission… He offered to help him, he was willing to help…! And Graf Dumas sent him to go search for a stupid book instead… He was cursing his stupidity! But this time, he would really take back Amy himself… Yet he did write to Dampierre and asked him to come back as soon as he could in case he couldn't retrieve his daughter alone… Raphael didn't realize it but it was Soul Edge again that made him react that rudely when Dampierre talked about his daughter, the evil sword was not certain if Amy's presence would be good… Amy will influence Raphael's good feelings… His love for her may show more than his hate for everyone else… Her presence may calm him down… but the vampire was getting always more influenced by the sword and it confused him even more; he really didn't understand why he acted that way.

Graf Dumas looked at the report from the attacks his malfested made against the Schwarzwind on some battlefield in Eastern Sachsen. The mercenary team lost many fighters… Dead or wounded… They would be weaker for when the real attack will come… The vampire smiled evilly: all was going as planned… Now he really had to see Rudolf… to convince him that the Schwarzwind and Princess Hildegard were traitors… He would then take Soul Calibur and destroy it once and for all!

But as he was still receiving news of Germany from his spies, he learned from one of them some astounding news.

-What? You're telling me the sword is no longer at the Schwarzwind fortress?

-No, my lord… they gave it to a man named Patroklos Alexandra…

Graf Dumas was even more astounded.

-What? Patroklos? The 'Holy' warrior? How come they gave the sword to such an undeserving pest? I just cannot believe it! It must be because of his mother who was renowned as Holy… and he would then supposedly be… Ugh… I just can't stand him! This pretentious little boy… Holy… What a joke! They are even stupider than I thought! This boy is so annoying! I can't stand him! Humpf! I should never have spared those kids in Greece, seventeen years ago…

He then called for his blind servant.

-Voldo! Come here!

Graf Dumas didn't send for the Italian weirdo since he knew Voldo always crept around unoticed. He didn't really care about it since it somehow could be useful. He just had to call and his servile servant would quickly come. As he guessed, Voldo appeared only moments after Graf Dumas called him and bowed respectuously in front of his master who adressed him:

-I have a job for you… You know that annoying 'Holy' boy, Patroklos? Finish what you started and kill him.

Voldo bowed once more and left.


Once at the Schwarzwind fortress, Zwei explained what happened to Siegfried: How Patroklos left with his sister to go back in Greece, how Viola saw that he would come back and the attack Tira did on them, aiming at Viola. At first, Siegfried seemed a little disappointed at the fact they didn't finally get along with Patroklos like he had wished, and he was surprised that they let Patroklos go like this but maybe Viola was right with her prediction, she normally was, and beside the siblings would surely go back to their family as they said… Cassandra was there, so they could ask her to keep an eye on Patroklos or to retrieve the sword from him if he was not worthy enough, yet Siegfried wasn't sure on how would Cassandra react to this… He didn't know her that much but she would surely keep him from killing 'malfested'. But when Siegfried heard about Tira's intentions of hurting Viola, he became worried and told Viola:

-You stay inside the fortress, Viola. I won't let anything happen to you. I'm glad you came back, you both made the right decision. Tira is a crazy and extremely dangerous killer. I don't know why she is focused on killing you, maybe to get over with the family, but you stay inside. I promised Raphael I would take care of you and I won't let anything happen to you.

At least as Zwei described her, Tira seemed quite wounded right now and would not be able to hurt Viola, Patroklos and his sister or anyone for a while but Siegfried wondered if the fact that Raphael's brother was in prison may have to do with Tira since she was focused on the family somehow and already attacked him. Yet it was not her style to act in a political way… Maybe it was some French intrigue that had nothing to do with Raphael and Viola… Yet it did happen at the same time… But this was more Hilde's part and she had just returned from Prague now… still empty handed… Siegfried was sad for Hilde, despite all the efforts she was making; she never could obtain anything… Yet she did tell him, the Archduke seemed inclined to help her and may have found a place… He would have to hope for Hilde that this time it was true; the Empire already told her that and gave her nothing…


Since Viola and Bangoo wanted to meet with her, Hilde politely listened to their plea. Hilde tried to remember who Claude de Sorel was, aside from Raphael's brother. Since he was count, the Sorel family had fallen into obscurity… She didn't know him… His family in law was renowned but she could not say anything about Claude. She asked Viola:

-Why don't his family in law do something about him?

-Maybe they do. I don't know.

Viola wondered indeed. Maybe they are already doing all it takes to get him free… She felt a little ashamed; maybe she was complaining for nothing and annoying Hilde with futilities… During their conversation she had heard Claude say something about his brother-in-law not appreciating him too much but to which extend? It seemed like some normal family bickering to her… But Hilde continued speaking.

-I think someone from the Holy Roman Empire doing something in your uncle's favour may indicate he really was a traitor to France… I would like to help but I'm not sure my intervention would be good for him… I do not want to put him even more in trouble…

Indeed. thought Viola who had only thought about the fact Hilde was a princess and could talk to a king. She didn't think about the frontiers and alliances. Hilde addressed Bangoo.

-But your father may be released since he only resisted arrest. Unless they could prove he was involved into that treason as well…

-He was not, I swear. And I don't think the Count is involved in anything…

-I believe you. So if the Count of Sorel is victim of some intrigue to get rid of him, his servants and people working for him won't be absolutely accused and the one accusing the Count of Sorel may not absolutely want your father's death and won't make false evidences against him.

-But once in prison, will he be punished? I mean… maybe they won't arrest the servants and all but my father got arrested already… They won't make the effort of releasing him…

-Maybe just to pay some bail to the guards would free him. I can help you for this and lend you the money they would ask.

-Oh, Thank you! What can I do to repay you?

-Repay me only once your father is free. And be careful yourself, they may arrest you as well.

-Oh, indeed…

Bangoo thought he had completely panicked once his father got arrested and didn't think much. He would have to go back in France and be careful not to get arrested while paying the bail… If there was one… Maybe he should go see Claude de Sorel's family in law to ask for help… They probably are not his enemies… Or maybe his sisters… Claude de Sorel's religious sister, Victoire, probably could do nothing but pray for them but maybe Charlotte would forgive her brother and accept to help them once she would know in what trouble her brother is… But Princess Hilde was very kind to lend the money… Hilde continued speaking.

-But as payment, if that was possible, I would like you two to find my father. You seem good to find people and my father is lost somewhere… But… he is now a malfested…

Viola told Bangoo:

-Bangoo… Once in France, could you also check how is my uncle doing? Then tell me once you're back here. Okay?

-Okay. If I can do something for him, I will. If I can't, I'll tell you how he is doing.

-Merci.

Once Bangoo left the room, Hilde told Viola:

-I'm sorry about your uncle…

But Viola replied something to Hilde that surprised her:

-Don't do anything about him. It will bring you troubles as well. The Emperor will accuse you soon of something.

As Hilde was speaking to Bangoo, Viola suddenly had a vision. It seemed Hilde already had problems with her lands of course, but she would have more if she meddled with some French traitor… The Emperor may see her as a traitor, like France saw Claude as a traitor. She saw Hilde would have troubles with the Emperor soon yet she didn't know why but this reason could be the one.

-What? Of what?

-I do not know.

Hilde thought for a while. Maybe she should go back to Prague to get some news and defend herself from any accusations… She was not the kind to flee or hide… Maybe she could go see Ivy to see if the countess knew more about this. Ivy was one of the Emperor's favourite, she would know… and even if they did not ally themselves as much as they maybe should, they were still allies… Thinking about all this, she sighed. She would still have to leave Siegfried… They almost never get to have any time together anymore… Their happy time of acting mushy together was over… Siegfried did kiss her each day as he promised but only the days she was here and they didn't have time to cuddle together or spend quality time together or anything. Only a quick kiss on the lips and that was it. But Hilde was also wondering if she should leave her children behind as she did before… Viola talked about some attack on the fortress… and now also said she was in danger with the Emperor… Was there a safe place for her children? Yet if she was arrested, her children won't be… The Emperor won't harm them… But the danger on the fortress seemed bigger than this… Maybe she should take her children with her this time…


Delayed by some revolt he had to take care of, Graf Dumas was still preparing his trip for the Holy Roman Empire when he learnt from his spies that Voldo had been beaten by Patroklos and his sister, that the Greek boy had finally found, and they were now continuing on their way to Greece. A little frustrated, Graf Dumas decided he would take care of this himself, then go to Prague. Beside Dampierre had not answered yet and he would like him to take Amy away before he acted against the Schwarzwind since it could get messy. The Greek kids were still in Italy; Graf Dumas took a few soldiers with him and went over there incognito since it could bring some political problems if he attacked as Graf Dumas. Along the way, he created other malfested to join his rank for the attack. Then they took a boat and went in Italy to Brindisi where his spies said Patroklos and Pyrrha were going to.

Once on the sea, gazing at the stars, Graf Dumas suddenly stopped and stared at some other direction. South as some now malfested sailor told him. Graf Dumas kept staring in that direction for some times before he muttered:

-Your madness… How it shines like a beacon…

He then went to see the newly malfested captain and ordered him to go faster. He had sensed the Adrian coming. Of course, Cervantes was probably lured by Soul Edge… Nightmare remembered that as Raphael, he had sworn to not navigate again; the sea was only trouble for him… This pirate was only trouble for him… They now had to reach land before the Adrian reached them. The pirate ship was still far so even if it seemed to navigate faster than his ship; they may have time to reach the land before. It was not that Nightmare feared to meet Cervantes but he had no time. He had to destroy Soul Calibur, a priority. Anyway, he may know he was stronger than Cervantes but the boat was not. He didn't want to find himself drifting on the sea again. Luckily, they reached Brindisi's port before the Dread pirate reached them.

Once on the port, Graf Dumas casually got off the ship under the indifferent stares of the passer-by and the sailors on the port, then gave his orders, simple and direct:

-It's time for a bloodbath! Devastation for the weak! Kill them all! Destroy everything! Burn everything in its path! Leave no survivor!

And he showed the example by slashing at the people around who were beginning to flee after hearing his orders.

-None of you… have any reason to live! Blood! Darkness! I shall drown the world in both! Hahahahaha! Listen! Listen to the quickening of darkness!

After he hit some citizen with Soul Edge, he went to were the man had fallen, grabbed him as he was agonizing and savagely bit his neck to drink the blood.

-I thirst… for souls!

After he had finished, he dropped the man like if it was some worthless garbage, to go toward another victim. As the blood was staining his mouth and rolling on his chin, his neck and his armour, Nightmare exulted.

-Death! I want to taste more deaths! More, I need more souls!

He slashed at another person.

-Souls, come unto me! No escape! You cannot run away from me! Ha ha ha ha ha! You exist only to become my sustenance!

But killing and destroying everything on his path, Nightmare did not forget his primary goal: He walked in an assured way toward where he could feel his hateful enemy, Soul Calibur, as people died alongside the way.

-What sweet sounds of death… Your souls were rather good…

And after he quickly wiped his mouth from the blood of another victim, he continued to walk toward where Soul Calibur should be as houses were burning around him, his malfested men being really eager for creating destruction. After a while, he noticed the Greek warrior: He was with a girl… His newfound sister probably… and Soul Calibur… The young Greeks seemed surprised and appalled by the attack and were looking around in horror. As he continued walking toward them, they suddenly noticed him as well and Patroklos said:

-Dumas? What are you doing here? What do you want?

Nightmare had not transformed yet into his true form since he didn't see the use. The humans were already so easy to kill and none of them would survive to tell of Graf Dumas' attack on them. Anyway, none of them knew him. Except Patroklos now, but he would die soon. Yet by the way the 'Holy' warrior answered, it seemed Patroklos thought he was the main reason of Graf Dumas' presence here. Graf Dumas thought this boy still had such a sense of self importance like if the world revolved around him…

-I am not here for you. I am here for that sword.

-What?

You think you're that important, stupid boy? Thought Graf Dumas before he said:

-Hateful sword! I shall destroy it here once and for all!

And with this, Graf Dumas lifted his sword and planted it on the ground. Suddenly black energy and fire surrounded him, his reddish brown eyes suddenly glowed bright red, his right arm grown into an inhuman claw and an eye appeared on the hilt of his sword. The eye opened and gazed at the two siblings. Graf Dumas was now fully dressed in the Azure armour of Nightmare. Now was the time to transform since he may confront Soul Calibur…

Impervious to the fact fire and strange black energy was revolving around Grad Dumas, Patrokos told him:

-You think you're Nightmare? Take off that silly armour! He doesn't exist!

Patroklos believed in magic but apparently Nightmare could not exist in his eyes. With a name like Nightmare, he had always considered this like the sandman or anything of the sort. Even when Siegfried warned them about Nightmare, he had the feeling that Siegfried somehow acted in a fatherly way, warning his three little kids going alone in the wood to take care of the big bad sandman and not talk to strangers, so he didn't take it seriously.

Without listening to the Greek warrior, Nightmare slashed at him to show him he existed but Pyrrha quickly pushed Patroklos out of the way and received the strike at his place.

-Watch out! Arrgh!

Pyrrha tumbled some feet away with the impact of the sword. The sword seemed to glow in satisfaction as it could taste Pyrrha's malfestation. Patroklos noticed the glow and asked:

-Is that the real Soul Edge?

Not bothering to answer this stupid boy, Nightmare continued walking toward him. Then once before him, he told him in his dark voice:

-The Azure knight stands before you now!

And he swiftly slashed at Patroklos who barely had time to parry with his sword. But Nightmare quickly slashed at him again. Patroklos parried again and finally realized:

-Dumas! You were Nightmare all along? I don't understand. Why did you have me kill the malfested?

Patroklos was completely confused: Not only Nightmare seemed real but this story made no sense. Inside his helmet, Nightmare smirked: this boy was definitely retarded…

-You haven't realized it yet?

He continued pointing his sword at the confused young man.

-Those I ordered you to kill were nothing but weak and foolish humans like you!

The realization suddenly hit Patroklos straight in the face.

-No! You're lying! I never killed any humans! They were monster! They were all monsters!

But as he said the last words, his voice faltered as he realized Nightmare was right and he never bothered to really make sure of it. He killed anyone in his path… Suddenly very angry, he threw himself screaming at Nightmare who swiftly sent him tumbling away with a strike of his powerful weapon. Now Patroklos was tormented by every single person he killed. Now that they were humans, their lives did matter to him and he was horrified…

-No!

Patroklos mumbled a thing about the fact they were really monsters but he just could not persuade himself of it anymore.

Meanwhile Nightmare continued moving toward the downed warrior to finish him.

-Soul Calibur will end here and now!

As he prepared to give the final blow to Patroklos who was still in a state of shock, Pyrrha suddenly interrupted again and parried the mortal blow.

-No! You'll have to get through me first!

This didn't seem a problem to Nightmare who began to put all his strength on his sword to break Pyrrha's parry.

Meanwhile, Patroklos was stunned at his sister's action, he was so confused, troubled and remorseful. He could do nothing: Only muttering:

-Pyrrha…

-So a puppet controlled by a fool intends to stop me? Said Nightmare to Pyrrha whom he did not consider worthy of the sword. She was just a weak little girl. But Pyrrha did not intend to let both her brother and her die at Nightmare's hands and resisted the strike. She had enough, she would not be pushed or mistreated again. Now that she had another person loving her and caring for her, she didn't want to lose him like she lost Jurgis.

-Stop hurting me, stop rejecting me, stop killing me!

Suddenly as Pyrrha resisted, Soul Edge felt the growing resolve she had while it also felt that Raphael somehow was still troubled by their mother's killing. And Pyrrha looked so much like her mother, it troubled him and he also remembered the frightened little girl he met seventeen years ago in Ostrheinsburg, the little girl he felt pity for and even tried to find to save once he escaped. It was his fault she was orphan and lost her mother. His trouble was weakening Nightmare and something unexpected suddenly happened: Soul Edge left Raphael and went to Pyrrha. When she gathered her will to fight Nightmare, she also gathered the Soul Edge energy inside of her and Soul Edge felt it. The evil energy from Soul Edge merged with the already absorbed evil energy by Pyrrha in a swirl of black energy. Somehow her revolt made her stronger while Raphael's remorse made him weaker. Her eyes turned a glowing yellow and her right arm changed and became a smaller version of Nightmare's own deformed arm since Soul Edge now possessed her. She let go a screech as she transformed into some version of Nightmare while the evil energy was still swirling around her. Somehow this turn of event confused Nightmare/Raphael and he was too surprised to do anything. If he had not his helmet on, both the siblings could have seen the confused expression on Raphael's face as he was completely freed from possession for some seconds. The now possessed Pyrrha violently attacked him and easily sent the confused Raphael, who barely had time to do anything or even resist efficiently, down.

As Pyrrha fought, Soul Edge wondered if she would make a better host. It observed the young girl fighting and wondered if it should change host now. Maybe Tira was right; Raphael was not the right host. He was sometimes too rebellious and sometimes Soul Edge feared losing control over him. Yet now having sensed the girl who apologized to Nightmare while hitting him, Soul Edge thought she seemed too emotive, too weak, too kind… She had that determination now but she had not impressed Soul Edge enough… Soul Edge decided to take the time to think about it and returned to Raphael for now, leaving some of its energy in Pyrrha, just in case. Both those humans had problems…

-Not my fault! You brought this on yourself! Said Pyrrha who didn't quite well understand what happened.

After a small confused moment as Soul Edge was taking back control over Raphael, Nightmare got up and said:

-Humpf! Is that all?

Then having to take some time to think about it, Nightmare turned into fire, disappearing and teleporting away, leaving a whirlpool of fire around him that flew through the air before it disappeared as well, leaving the siblings to their own problems.

Nightmare reappered some distance away on the port in another whirlpool of fire to gather his troops and go back to his ship. Soul Calibur will wait, Soul Edge had to think about the hosts. Beside the Greek kid didn't know how to use it properly since it was not completed. For now, Nightmare intended to take the ship while following lands to go toward Venice. Then if Cervantes caught up with him, the ship would be less in danger… But as he was thinking about it, he noticed his ship burning with all the other ships. Cervanted was laughing in front of it.

-Mm, mm, mmmwah, ha, ha, ha! Welcome Nightmare! Bow before me while you have the chance!

Seeing Nightmare seemed frozen in surprise as he stopped walking, Cervantes told him:

-What? You thought I was stuck on my boat? That I couldn't put my feet on the ground? Guess again, landlubber! Hahahahaharr! Nothing holds power over me! Not the land, the sea, the gods and not even you, Soul Edge…

One of the old host… Soul Edge knew Cervantes was not controllable, mostly now that he seemed to have broken free of his grip yet retained his power for his own ambitions. He was worst than Raphael who was trying to break free but was in fact mostly losing the fight, getting corrupted and enslaved bit by bit. Yet there were still those moments were Raphael seemed in control but they were getting rarer and the vampire was always more corrupted by Soul Edge. Soul Edge didn't intend for Raphael to break free like Cervantes or Siegfried did and since it could not control him anymore, Cervantes was an abomination that needed to be destroyed. The pirate also was determined to destroy Soul Edge to prove he was above it and above everything. And for revenge. This sword had controlled his life for much too long… So with revenge in mind, Cervantes told Nightmare:

-Long I have awaited this moment. All will speak of the day that Cervantes bested you! Heh heh heh… I'm tingling with excitement…

And Cervantes fired on Nightmare, hitting him on the thigh where he had no armour, before he quickly threw himself at his old master who was still grunting in pain.

-Taste the pain I have endured!

Cervantes seemed to back away while floating, then quickly came back flying at Nightmare, making the knight fall down as he slammed into him. As he backed away, charging his pistol, he told Nightmare, who was still getting up.

-By the way, you turned this town into a nice place. Except you just didn't leave any jobs for my crew to do… All the slaughters were already done.

Cervantes showed around him as almost every houses and buildings were burning and corpses were lying down everywhere.

-… You didn't leave any jobs except killing your own men and burning the ships… Added Cervantes with a smile, knowing he was annoying Nightmare with this.

-Humpf! You will regret coming to me like this…

Nightmare then lifted Soul Edge in the air.

-Blood... darkness... come unto me!

And souls came to the sword as Soul Edge glowed, receiving more power. But Cervantes didn't seem impressed.

-Well well, aren't we scary…

Cervantes violently slashed his sword at Nightmare who quickly parried.

-You shall taste fear! Answered the evil knight as he slashed back at the pirate.

Cervantes parried with both his swords and kicked Nightmare away.

-To Cervantes, you are nothing!

Nightmare growled. He shall make that insolent pirate pay! As they were violently exchanging blows, Soul Edge began to glow and fire covered the blade. Nightmare yelled:

-Soul Edge… Burn!

And he violently slammed his blade on Cervantes who fell down with a groan, stopping short his mockeries and boasting.

-Arrghh!

Nightmare stomped on him.

-Receive the punishment of darkness!

Nightmare lifted his sword and fire appeared on the blade once more.

-You deserve nothing less than the destruction of your soul!

But Cervantes quickly rolled away as Nightmare was about to crush him with Soul Edge. The giant sword smashed the ground where Cervantes' blood was now staining the ground. Meanwhile, Cervantes swiftly got up and staggered some feet away before lifting his sword pistol and shooting at Nightmare once more.

-There won't be anything left of you!

But too dizzy, he missed and quickly leaned on the wall of some three stages building to keep standing. Nightmare went to him and they clashed once more.

-In the end you will give into despair! Shouted Nightmare, intending to crush his rebellious ancient host once and for all. But Cervantes resisted well and always parried or evaded Nightmare's strikes. Both were very powerful and stubborn.

-Admit your defeat… and become a part of my power! Receive the curse of the ancient mariner!

Cervantes suddenly stabbed Nightmare, piercing through his armour, penetrating his chest, before he threw him in the air, while letting go of his swords as well. The swords began to quickly whirl around Nightmare creating some kind of whirlwind lifting the evil knight even higher in the air and slashing at him as they kept on whirling around him, then before Nightmare fell down and crashed on the ground, he quickly grabbed the roof of the three stages building beside that he was now reaching with his deformed hand while Cervantes' swords returned to the pirate. Cervantes was a little surprised that his enemy didn't fall down to receive the stabbing ending of his dangerous attack but thought it was funny to see the Azure knight gripping some roof, scared to fall. He began to charge his pistol once more and shot at Nightmare on his human arm, making him lose his grip with his left hand, stopping his attempt to climb on the roof. Nightmare then kicked into a window and entered through it. Seeing this, Cervantes quickly entered the house to continue to fight his adversary. The building was not on fire already but the ones beside were.

-Coward! Come here!

Hearing the pirate coming and not finding any place to fight in those small rooms, Nightmare quickly ran to the flat roof to wait for Cervantes. There he would have more place to swing his sword… Once Cervantes appeared in the door frame, Nightmare ran to him.

-I'm through with you! Your existence is meaningless! You only exist so that my sword skewers you!

And they clashed once more. The fire surrounding them, burning all the houses around and now even the one they were fighting on, was somehow giving some strength to Nightmare as he began to overwelm Cervante who began to mostly parry and back away. Before the pirate could pull himself together and come up with some better offensive, Soul Edge burned once more and Nightmare slammed his sword into the pirate who flew away and banged into the small parapet, keeping him from falling into the fire below. But Nightmare didn't intend to let him get away: He quickly went to the groaning pirate, grabbed him and threw him down the roof into the flames.

-Fall into… the abyss!

-Damn you, I won't allow this!

Cervantes tried to resist and grab Nightmare but was unable to and fell into the fire while screaming in rage. Nightmare stayed on the roof looking down at the fire burning the pirate while chuckling. But he suddenly noticed among the burning wood and remains of the house, some human form crawling toward the door, well, the hole that previously was the door. He silently cursed Cervantes once more. This pirate truly was immortal… Nightmare jumped down from the roof to meet the Spanish captain. Severely burnt in many place, half disfigured by the fire, still lying down on the ground as he crawled out of the house, Cervantes lifted his head to look at Nightmare with hate. He quickly tried to slash at the Azure knight's feet with his blade but the knight quickly thrust Soul Edge to the ground, parrying the violent strike that would probably have passed through his armour with the force Cervantes used and kicked the pirate's arm brutally before he stumped on his head with his feet. Then as Cervantes grunted in pain, Nightmare lifted Soul Calibur above him with his two hands, the normal one and the deformed one.

-With this, you die!

And Nightmare stabbed Cervantes in the back with the giant sword making the pirate scream in pain. As Cervantes was groaning and suffering, Nightmare lifted his left hand to invoke some souls to give him power. Many small lighting came to his claw, passed through his body and reached his sword as they formed a bigger lightning that struck Cervantes who let go an horrible scream.

-With this, you burn!

-This isn't over! Arrrrgghh! I'll see you… in Hell…

And Nightmare watched as Cervantes was writhing in agony. But he suddenly realized that as the pirate was dying, the Adrian was sinking once more… Near the port. Somehow making bigger waves than a normal ship would, so Nightmare left the port to go away while muttering.

-Drown in the cesspool of darkness…

Beside he had nothing to do there anymore since he had no ship. He would have to continue to the next city by foot. Or horse. There probably was some remaining somewhere in the city… Ignoring his wounds, he gathered his followers and searched for some mounts.

Then taking back his human appearance, he travelled with his remaining men to take a ship in the next city. Now that he had beat Cervantes, even if he wasn't even certain Cervantes was dead or not, he thought that the immortal pirate probably won't come back for a while, so he had the time to reach Venice and from there, go to Prague. Not wanting to be held responsible of Brindisi's carnage, he continued to travel incognito and this time, didn't make any minions on his way, for more discretion. With his few followers remaining, it was easy to be discreet as well.

In Venice, Graf Dumas inquired about Dampierre to the contacts he knew from Dampierre's company. They told him Le Bello was gone for now, out of town, searching for a book and they didn't know where. He was doing some important inquiry and was probably pretending to be someone else for it so he would be even more difficult to track down. That was one problem with him, he knew where they were, but when he was on some case, they almost never knew where he was. And he sometimes came back in surprise and played jokes on them while they didn't recognize him. Graf Dumas began to hate this stupid book. He needed Dampierre to help him take his daughter back! Quite disappointed, he rented some Venice palace to stay for the night. Tomorrow, he would continue without Dampierre toward Prague. He would get Amy back somehow. After ordering some supper to be brought to him, he entered his room. As he was about to take off his clothes to take care of his wounds that were slowly healing before he would eat, he suddenly sensed a presence in the room.

-Graf Dumas! I have discovered who you really are! You're Nightmare! What you did at Brindisi just proved it! It's time to end this once and for all… Get ready! Said a woman's voice from the window.

Graf Dumas recognized the voice that was speaking with a Japanese accent and smiled. Without even turning toward her, he asked her:

-Oh, and, have you discovered also who I really am, Ninja?

Standing on the windowsill, Taki stared at Graf Dumas with some questioning: She didn't really know what he meant by that. But she had the feeling she had already seen and heard that man somewhere… Even from behind, his carriage was majestic and he had a regal bearing, not like the old Nightmare, who looked like a mighty and powerful warrior but didn't have the carriage of a king. This Nightmare seemed very haughty and proud.

-Are you a woman of honour? Continued Graf Dumas.

-I am.

To Taki's surprise, Nightmare seemed happy of it since he began to chuckle.

-Hahaha! Yes, I thought so… Then you must remember something you said before… long ago…

Nightmare laughed again and turned to her. The room was dark so Graf Dumas made some steps toward the moonlight to be more visible to her while taking off his mask and revealing a face she knew long ago and confronted many times before she allied with him: Raphael! Taki's eyes widened in surprise.

-Raphael! What are you doing like this? I thought you had changed!

-I have changed… just not the way you thought. Now my dear Taki, I ask that you keep your word and leave me alone… Go away! Do not interfere in my affairs!

Still under the surprise, Taki stared at him with a very intense gaze.

-Those eyes. You're possessed by the evil spirit. This evil energy… it's so… powerful!

Taki continued staring at him for a while; she didn't know what to do; this man was responsible for all the slaughters happening now, he was the one reason she had come to Europe. But she had given her word to this same man that she would leave him alone forever… But she knew he was Soul Edge's host, so not really himself… Yet has Soul Edge ever acted this diplomatically before? How much of his own will did he still had? But the evil of Soul Edge definitively had something to do in his behaviour… yet she couldn't interfere… As she was tortured by her dilemma, Graf Dumas gazed at her with an arrogant smirk, seemingly enjoying the conscience problem she was in now. Taki then told him on a calm tone:

-I'm rather disappointed in you Raphael… Indeed, I said I would not pursue you anymore… but your 'affairs' are far more wider than just taking care of you. So I'll go now and leave you, and only you, alone… but know that your evil plans will suffer and like I told you before, if you keep persisting in your evil ways, somebody else will come and destroy you! Many are already gathering to put an end to your reign once and for all!

Raphael sneered.

-Humpf! Let them come. I do not fear them, my dear Taki.

Suddenly his gaze softened and he continued on a less arrogant tone.

-You know, I still remember our alliance with much nostalgia… If you could accept to eat with me tonight, I would be delighted… We could talk about the good old times… To be honest, I… almost had feelings for you in the end…

Taki didn't seem shaken by this declaration like she may have been seventeen years ago and stayed cold. She did also begin to have feelings for him in the end… but she had to leave him, not only did he made her swear to leave him, but she didn't want to fall in love, her mission, her life didn't allow her to… But she did felt awkward near him in the end and did remember with tenderness their fights side by side… Over the years, she even dreamed about Raphael many times… But now, this declaration was troubling her more in the way that it was hinting that Raphael was in control of himself… Soul Edge would not know that or act this way… Would it? Maybe it was using this to try to trouble her? But Nightmare never acted this way before… She then asked on a serious tone:

-… What happened to you? How did you become Nightmare?

Raphael gave her a charming smile.

-I'll tell you over supper…

-I said I would have nothing to do with you. I would not fight you but I would not eat with you either. So I have to refuse your invitation.

-Too bad. I would have really appreciated… Well then, adieu, Taki. I am glad to have seen you again, you still are beautiful…

Even if she had aged a little, Raphael thought Taki was indeed beautiful. The few streaks of white hair she had in the ponytail were giving her a beautiful style. He had hated her the first time he saw her, hated her all the times she pursued him but after they fought side by side… in such a desperate battle… He did develop some feelings for her… He had felt something he could not really describe. Like Taki, he did felt troubled beside her… Hate and love are closely related they say… Of course, he hated Tira too but it was not the same thing: He respected Taki who had honour and fought for a good cause while Tira was just a crazy sadistic little girl. And he had been allied with Taki in the end. He never been friend or allied with Tira… She did work for him but… he hated her all along. But seventeen years ago, he had tried to fight this feeling that was growing inside for Taki; he knew it would fade as Taki would go away. And it was for the best since he didn't have any time, any intention to have a romance. He had Amy to take care of then. She was the one he truly loved, the only one that really mattered: his beloved daughter. So even if both Raphael and Taki felt something, they both fought the feeling for different reasons. They both fought against something that could have been but never was.

-… Arigato for the compliment. Soul Edge would never tell me that… If you are Soul Edge's host, how come you still have your mind?

Raphael smirked before he answered with pride.

-Because I am not weak.

-You are weak since you let that sword control you anyway… You are his puppet even if you still have your mind… You just don't realize it.

Raphael didn't appreciate this last comment and seemed annoyed by Taki's statement. He knew she was right: He was trying to get out of Soul Edge's hold but also clang to the sword. Mostly now that Soul Edge thought about dropping him for Pyrrha. He didn't understand why but Raphael had felt fear toward this perspective. Maybe because dropped meant having his soul eaten… or being in lack of Soul Edge and he needed Soul Edge to live… Maybe because he needed Soul Edge for his own plans… He needed Soul Edge power to wreak revenge for Amy… To secure a place for her… He lowered his head and frowned.

-Get out. Unlike you, I swore nothing of the likes I would not hurt you…

Taki stared at him without a word for a while. Even if she tried to look neutral, there was a faint glint of sadness in her eyes.

-Very well. I'm going… Sayonara, Raphael. But remember what I told you when we parted.

Taki emphasized on his name in the hope he would remember who he really was because she knew that even if he seemed to have retained his mind, he was strongly influenced by the evil sword and was not himself. He once demonstrated to her that he wanted to get out of Soul Edge's influence and she believed him. Now he was deeply enslaved by the evil sword, more than he probably knew. She could not interfere but just this small act of provocation may help anyway… Then Taki left the palace to blend into the night, leaving Raphael confused and angry.

-When we parted…

Raphael faintly remembered what she told him… What was it, exactly again? … Just… keep fighting the best you can the influence Soul Edge has on you… Soul Edge's influence… Assuming he was controlled by Soul Edge… Which he was not. He was Raphael Sorel but he wanted to make this plan… It just happened that his plans were the same as Soul Edge… Humans are disgusting and since he was no longer human, he hated them all… Taki couldn't understand that, she was human… She hasn't been looked down or chased away… or hunted like a beast. Humans were so despicable… He remembered when he escaped from Ostrheinsburg, he didn't receive any help from anyone and some even tried to attack him. That coachman who fired on him, those Hanover guards who attacked him… Nobody tried to help him when he needed help… as they mostly never helped Amy, save from a few, very few, rare exceptions… Humans were indeed contemptible and detestable… Why would he fight this influence? Soul Edge hated humans and he hated them as well… He had no doubts on who he was and what he wanted to do… He wanted to do what the sword desires… Kill… and destroy… Create a new world… for the malfested, mostly for him and Amy. Destroy this present world in fire and blood. Darkness will cover all…

But for now, he felt he needed to get some strength from the sword… Taki's visit had somehow confused him… Some small part of him was telling him that to destroy the world was not exactly what he wanted… and it was annoying. That damn ninja, who fought him since so long… How could he let her go? Raphael was weak… Even if she didn't look like it, Pyrrha may be stronger… He should not be weak. He needed Soul Edge… He needed to bow and let the sword give him strength… Like he first saw Siegfried doing many years ago, he needed to bow to his master… Show his devotion… Somehow he feared Soul Edge will abandon him for Pyrrha… He just saw the young malfested girl's arm… and it scared him… He was so confused… Raphael somehow had his mind yet his mind was now really twisted by the evil… and confused… Pushed by some instinct, he bowed to the sword and muttered:

-Master…

After a while he seemed to become less confused. He said on a more determined tone:

-Darkness… give me DARKNESS!

Soul Edge glowed. The sword was pleased to keep control on the confused Raphael. It may take time but he will give himself up entirely one day. The fear he felt not long ago from being replaced somehow pushed him faster to obey more docilely now even if he still wanted to be free deep inside. Raphael really didn't know what he wanted now but Soul Edge knew it had chosen the right host and it would keep it's grip over him until the body was completely exhauted and too used up to continue.


Okay, maybe it really does seem confused in the end... I hope you don't find it too confusing. Raphael is supposed to be confused, not the text. Okay I'm confusing now...

Now the story will deviate a bit (maybe more than a bit) from the original one, so I'm sorry for those who liked the canon (technically this story has not followed the canon too much already… But the lack of info and other reasons made me deviate and write something else).

It's been a while since I didn't personnally thank you, I'm sorry if I may look impolite, so all who favorited the story or me, put the story or me on their alert list or reviewed : darkwings13, Atrum Ferox, TheDemonicSylvia, DarkButterflyOfNight, Bloody-Funeral, Cristal Knight, Ruby-Blade-Princess, Blue Harbinger, Vampuric Spider, RAPHSIEG007, 1wngdngl, 2 Lucky, Orika, Kiliklover13, Keyboardsaurus, Amirat, DR2334, Djmadsauce, nekuromansa000, l3largus, Candlethorn, CodyGotKilld, Layagg, Maedel II, Iu, Kris (by the way, yes, it could be that in the game Raphael stopped seeing Amy as his daughter, I would not be surprised at all), epicwinston, Matthew, Raphael949, Skull2012Cat and 'Guest' and everybody else reading this. I hope you are all still following the story and if so, thank you again. I'm sorry if I forgot someone.