Ornstein disliked the silence around him, expanding the room until its limits were unreachable in one lifespan. In time he had discovered those were the hours his heart was closest to stopping, it was the time he was motionless enough to make others believe he was dead.
Others? How long has it been, my friend, since they last came here? How long, again? Thou art gone, for such a long time as well...
But he would never be able to completely be killed, condemned to stay in the silence for just another thousands of years.
Ornstein's heart would just keep on ticking in its mechanic cage, calm as the clock it was. In ancient times, as a scientist was lured to their lair by the seductive presence of the treasure, it had mattered. The feeble human's word were long forgotten, his body withered and decayed by now. In death, he had stopped the analysis, in death, they were all the same. They would approach as a renowned person, a famous artist in their own line of business... once the spear cracked their skull and the hammer crushed their bones, they became just another chunk of meat. A graceful figure would turn into tissue, a genius into a melted human candle, the skin soaked with blood as it sunk to the ground.
The scientist had been no surprise, squeaking and praying for a savior. But in the end, they all kept quiet and stopped torturing the world with their little worries.
His heart clicked the seconds away. There had been a time when he had lived and breathed; now all he did was fight and kill, kill and fight. Once upon a time Ornstein had been human himself, or at least that's what he believed. Someday, however, his face had been replaced by the mask, his skin by metal plates and his thoughts by intuition. And now there was nothing beneath the armor anymore, there was merely the gilded knight he had become. Ornstein didn't have to sleep or eat or drink or feel. He existed, without a plan or ambition; he existed to guard what had been entrusted to him.
A bell was rung outside and he acknowledged it by slowly getting up. It was time, it seemed, for the chosen undead to rise once again. They were sure of themselves, each and every one, so bent on following the path they were destined to follow.
Ornstein jumped to his feet and slowly paced over to the edge of the balcony. His body clinked with every step, even drowning out the mechanical ticking. Swiftly looking down into the hall he made sure the stranger had not yet arrived.
Thou goest the straight way to hell... So head straight yonder.
Smough would be waiting down there, he always showed up a few moments before the arrivals did. Ornstein did not particularly like the way his partner handled the situations, but apart from that, they got along. Their fighting differed greatly, so that they were complementary and that was crucial for protecting the sanctum. Everything else was just luxury.
Ornstein had lost his ability to talk centuries ago, when the mask replaced his features, welding his lips together. No words had ever been spoken in these battles; but there was no need to anyway. They would emerge from the shadows, hunt and leave the scenery; off to the place they called their own. The fight, however, was what kept them alive. In time he had discovered those were the hours his heart was closest to beating, it was the time he was feeling almost like a human.
Smough would never understand, though, he was slow both in his movement and his thinking. Ornstein himself had extinguished the thoughts; he moved on and did what he had to do.
Footsteps were becoming audible and he quickly reached for his spear and rushed over to the railing.
Thou hast arrived in time... Thy fate is sealed upon entry; thou never will traverse the light once again.
His heart ticked faster as he ran for the balustrade and vault over it. Even though it happened to be a thirty feet jump, he did not feel anything as he landed. Smough did not react, he focused on the enemy.
Indeed, it was an undead, one of the chosen few, even a Hollow, it seemed. It wore a long cloak of red, a silver helmet and a sword engulfed in flames. Ornstein could fear no more, intimidating armory never impressed him in the least. Whoever walked in would leave the metal and his life behind for the vermin to relish.
Smough raised his hammer above his head and smashed it on the ground, shaking the whole hall and maybe the world to his very foundations. The hollow dodged, but that was surprising no more. A fighter who had come this farthest of ways would not go down in a second; and that was what their restless souls craved for.
Ornstein did not love the battle; he did not dislike it either, though. There was nothing left to feel with, his heart had decayed long ago in this golden prison. It was the soul that still wanted and thought and judged; and it was the soul that drove him to fight.
It appeared their opponent had requested the assistance of two other human creatures, their will burning strong within their minds.
The appealing sound of meat squeaking as it burned to a crisps erased the conviction. The spear sliced through the human tissue easily, so satisfying easily. The woman- Ornstein faintly remembered that there was a distinction between male and female regarding humans- did not make a sound as the lightning lance pushed through her helmet, then her bones, then the brain. Her mouth was agape, but no voice carried her feelings, emerging from deep within her soul, released to the world. Her body was thrown into spastic fits, blood dribbling from her mouth as her head was cut in half.
Ornstein removed the spear as the body fell limb.
A few meters to his right, Smough smashed a second human against the walls, the silver plates clinking as he collided with the stone. A pillar crumbled and buried the corpse, leaving only one of the attackers.
It was the small, barefooted figure in red; the one that had been the first to approach. It seemed he had inflicted quite the damage on Smough's golden armor; there were several cuts and sooty parts.
Ornstein faced the human and prepared to dash, as the feeble creature interfered.
"Though I may be a hollow, I will never be as empty as you."
It fazed him. Normally, the people would only beg or insult, scream and cry. The red hooded man was calm and quiet. His voice did not crack, nor could it be associated with an emotion.
"Even if you kill me, I will never be as dead as you, either- what a twisted, twisted world this is."
Ornstein stopped dead in his tracks, listening to the voice. It had been such a long time- he remembered how it had felt to speak, to change the facial expression; he suddenly knew that in ancient times he had have to breathe and how the air would fill his lungs.
The hollow person made a sound Ornstein deemed strange; he needed a few moments to recognize it was laughter.
Smough ran for the human and swung his hammer and he decided to follow him. Both of them sprinted toward their target, as a fireball exploded right before their faces.
Ornstein was instantly caught in the fire.
After a moment of hesitation, he stepped out of the inferno and tried to focus and grasp where his opponent had gone.
It was then the sudden impact of something rocked through his body, sending him down to his knees. Ornstein turned and looked at the sword that had cut through his armor. There was no pain, there was no blood.
The blade was shoved completely through his stomach, fully piercing his body. Fire spit and crackled; it didn't cease when it was taken away.
Ornstein felt his heart ticking softly, reminding him of something else. He had been human. It was no assumption anymore; it was a fact, based on memories that flooded back into his mind. A knight, a hero, a dragon slayer; but then he had been betrayed by his king.
The ticking slowed down with time, echoing in his mind as he collapsed.
With time, you will learn, he said... but with time came nothing but the burden of repeating. What worth did thy statement hold, Gwyn, after those thousands of years? I curse thy curst soul... and albeith thy body art agone, this hollow shall too spell your doom.
Smough's hammer smashed down upon his torso, breaking the armor that for millennia nobody had been able to shatter.
There was no pain, there was no blood.
Ornstein feared the silence; in time he had discovered those were the moments his mechanical heart suspended its constant ticking.
And then it stopped, at last.