So usually I wouldn't write a second chapter so soon, but I feel that readers will get more into the story if actual Soul Calibur characters are introduced. And of course I'd prefer it if that happened, because more interest equals more hits which equals more feedback and self-satisfaction. Anyway, this chapter jumps between multiple people's perspectives so take notice of those lines that separate the thing; they serve a great purpose.
Siegfried Schtauffen shot upright as he awoke from a fitful slumber, his hand flying to the hilt of Soulcalibur as he did so. As he wrapped his hand around the Spirit Sword's handle, a wave of emotions, thoughts, and fears rushed through him. The sudden influx of emotions that were not his own stunned the German warrior.
It was undoubtedly the power of Soulcalibur, which he had felt as often as he wielded the sword in battle. But the power of the sword was different this time. Instead of strengthening him, as it usually did, it poured its mind into his, showing him things he did not understand.
A maelstrom of emotions welled up inside of Siegfried, although he knew they belonged to the living sword and not himself. He could not decipher most of the emotions, for Soulcalibur's inner workings were beyond him. However, he could determine two of them; one was hope, a glimmer of it that was overpowered by one other thing; fear. Sheer, absolute terror was pouring out of Soulcalibur, and Siegfried had no idea why. Finally, after what felt like eternity, the cascade of uncontrolled feelings quieted, and the power of the spirit sword withdrew from him entirely.
He released the hilt of the blade, uneasiness in his heart, for never had he felt fear such as that, even when he battled against Nightmare himself. Siegfried's own heart raced uncontrollably as he sat in the bed of the inn room he had rented whilst staying in a countryside town. He knew not what to do, as he waited for peace to reassert itself in him, but he knew he would get no more sleep that night. As he calmed himself, Siegfried reached for his shed armor in the corner of the room, eager to leave the place where such a fearful premonition had taken place.
"Tira! Come to me! Now!"
Tira nearly fell off of the watchtower she was sitting on as Nightmare's bellow reached her ears and scattered the Watchers she had been tending to. The fact that she, out here on one of Ostreinhsburg's many towers, could hear him, all the way in the throne room, meant that the Azure Knight was very, very angry, and Tira bolted towards the sound of his booming voice as quickly as possible, lest she incur his wrath even further for being to slow in responding to his call.
As she ran, or more accurately sprinted, to the throne room, a thought from her gloomy side presided over the rush to reach her master.
Does that fool have any idea how much of a nuisance he is?! The birds will be too scared to come back here for weeks, unless we round them up ourselves!
As she rounded the corner of one of the many hallways that would lead her to Nightmare's throne, Tira's jolly side tried to put a positive spin on things.
But at least it'll be fun, right? You kept saying you were bored anyway, now that there aren't any souls to collect for Master, so it might not be all bad to play hide and seek with the ravens.
Is every suggestion you make this undeniably stupid?
Well I don't think so... do you have to be so mean to me all the time? I mean, we are the same person.
Tira's conflicting personalities continued to squabble over their beloved birds and their treatment of each other until they entered the throne room, where the sight of Nightmare nervously pacing in front of the throne instead of sitting on it distracted Tira from her internal altercation.
Nightmare was never nervous. He didn't pace; he didn't fret or worry or fidget in anxiety. He just sat on that throne of his and issued orders and yelled at his servants when they didn't do things right. To seem him do anything other than that was disconcerting. But despite these thoughts, Tira decided to quickly move to her place and bow before Nightmare, lest he catch her staring and get even angrier than he usually was.
As she bowed, Nightmare continued to pace back and forth in front of the throne. He soon began dragging the tip of Soul Edge's blade along the stone floor, emitting a high-pitched screeching that made Tira want to cover her ears. As she waited for Nightmare to address her, she couldn't help but notice that Soul Edge itself looked as though it was agitated. It's grotesque eye darted erratically to and fro, as if desperately searching the massive chamber for something it had lost, and the flesh-like part of the sword itself was writhing, as if out of pain of irritation.
After a few more minutes of Nightmare's nervous movements, it became obvious to Tira that she would have to alert the Azure Knight to her presence herself. "Uh, Master, I'm here, like you asked."
She kept her voice as low as possible, in hopes of keeping Nightmare's obvious agitation directed at something else besides her, but to no avail. Nightmare turned his crimson gaze towards the girl in the harlequin-like red outfit and roared without reservation.
"Asked?! I don't ask, I command, and you obey!"
Tira cringed at the rage emanating from the hellish warrior; he hadn't yelled at her in a long time, for of all of those who served Soul Edge besides Nightmare himself, Tira was the most reliable. She usually got things done quickly and efficiently, unlike that bumbling, rumbling giant Astaroth. He had done nothing useful except kill the occasional band of adventurers outside of the castle, unlike Tira, who was an active hunter of souls for the Cursed Sword.
So all of this yelling at her was unusual, and Tira didn't like it one bit. She simply bowed even further, her pigtails practically brushing the floor, and apologized for offending her master. "Y-yes! I'm sorry, Master. Like you ordered, of course!"
Nightmare growled, seemingly dissatisfied by the girl's rushed apology, but he said nothing more. Instead, he resumed pacing for several minutes. Tira, afraid to say anything and therefore tempt fate with her untimely demise, kept her mouth shut. After many minutes of this situation, Nightmare finally returned to his place on the throne, but his posture was still tense, and his grip on the hilt of Soul Edge was so powerful that a normal weapon would have shattered. Clearly his apprehension had not dissipated, despite his seemingly calm return to the throne.
Tira tried to judge Nightmare's thoughts as best she could without looking directly at him. Of course, it was hard to tell what kind of emotions the abnormal entity was thinking, considering he didn't have a physical body; and even though his horned helm may have counted as a face, it's expression was always the same, so it didn't matter. But nevertheless, Nightmare's whole demeanor; his nervousness, quick-temper, and even his posture on the throne, spoke volumes about his current state of emotion. It was fear. Tira couldn't be sure, but it seemed to her that Nightmare, of all people, was afraid. He gripped Soul Edge like he was preparing for a fight, and his eyes scanned the chamber endlessly, as if searching for some unseen assassin. Tira thought it was kind of funny, that both Soul Edge and the wielder of the Cursed Sword were behaving quite similarly.
A faint grin appeared on her face as she thought of it, only for her thoughts to be interrupted by Nightmare.
She flinched and squeezed her eyes shut, thinking that the Azure Knight had seen her smile and was about to punish her for it, but blows did not rain on her as she had expected them to. When she dared to crack open one of her purple eyes to check on things, she realized that Nightmare was impatiently waiting for her to acknowledge him, so that he could issue his orders.
She spoke tentatively, eager to keep Nightmare from raging again. "Y-yes, Master?"
Nightmare flexed the large claw that held Soul Edge, as if holding the sword was paining him. However, his voice showed no pain whatsoever, instead exuding an underlying tone of worry as he gave Tira her orders. "You are leaving Ostreinhsburg; there is something I need you to investigate. Someone."
If Tira hadn't been so afraid of Nightmare's anger at that time, she would have celebrated. Both her personalities were ecstatic to finally leave this stupid castle and go kill something again. She had run out of nearby villagers to hunt quite a while ago.
"Where is it, Master? Who am I hunting? Oh, is it one of those blonde bimbos from Greece? That'd be fun!"
Nightmare slammed his normal fist into the arm of his throne, causing an ear-splitting crack to resound within the chamber. Clearly Tira had overstepped her boundaries.
"Silence, you worthless garbage! How dare you interrupt me!"
Tira clamped her mouth shut, fear easily overcoming her curiosity as to the identity of her prey.
Nightmare grumbled, his deep voice causing a faint rumble in the floor. "I do not know the identity of this soul... it is unfamiliar to me."
Tira was honestly shocked. Usually Nightmare always knew who he wanted gone; that he didn't even know who the target was... pretty strange, to say the least.
Nightmare continued when he saw that Tira would not foolishly speak out of turn again. "However, I do know where it is. It is far in the East, near the continent of Asia, or perhaps within it."
Tira's gloomy side couldn't help the incredulous thoughts running through her mind.
Well that's informative. Somewhere in the largest continent inhabited continent on earth. In fact, maybe not even in it, just nearby! It could be on the other side of the border or something!
But of course, she uttered none of this. Nightmare was irritable enough as it was, and Tira had no qualms about keeping said irritation to a minimum.
Fortunately Nightmare did know a little bit more information than he had originally stated. "This soul rages with an incredible power... it is far from this place, yet Soul Edge still feels its presence as though it were within the castle itself. You must find it, and tell me who or what the owner of this power is. It is a danger to me, and it must be consumed."
He still hadn't told Tira where exactly she was supposed to go yet, but she still refrained from speaking.
Nightmare paused in thought, no doubt the powerful force of this soul bothering him. But when he continued, he showed new resolve. "This soul is not yet on the mainland... you must find a place to await it's arrival."
The girl receiving these orders had to resist giving Nightmare a look of confusion. So she was just supposed to pick a place and hope that this individual came to her? The success rate for such a plan was abysmally low.
The Azure Knight quieted as he pondered where Tira should wait for her prey. "Hmm...there is the remnants of a place known as the Ling-Sheng Su temple. It was destroyed by the Evil Seed, but there is little doubt that this soul will investigate that place. Soul Edge is sure of it; whatever being possesses this soul is attempting to locate the power of Soul Edge, and will investigate places where its power lingers. You must find this temple, and wait for this soul to arrive. Find out who or what it is."
Thinking that Nightmare had calmed just enough to ask a question, Tira tried to clarify her exact objective. "Find out? You mean...I shouldn't kill it? Just leave it alone?"
Nightmare's crimson eyes flared for a moment, and Tira was sure she had just angered him again, but then he returned to normal and answered Tira in a surprisingly tender tone. "No. It is too powerful, and will kill you if you fight it. I do not wish for you to die, and would prefer it if you return to my side once your mission is complete."
Tira's heart skipped a beat as she heard these most unexpected words from Nightmare. Even her dark side was smitten. Nightmare was worried about her? Her master actually cared about her? The joy that filled her at the thought of it was incredible; it reminded her of the days she had spent with her teacher in the Birds of Passage, the woman who had cared for her so much. The only person Tira knew had ever truly loved her.
Enthralled with the idea of being not only needed but truly wanted by the being she served so faithfully, Tira replied to Nightmare with utmost enthusiasm. "Of course, Master! I'll leave right away, and do what you command, so I can come back and serve you forever!"
Nightmare watched as Tira finished her response and then gleefully bounded away to grab Eiserne Drossel from her room before he even finished speaking. No matter; she had the gist of what he had commanded her to do, and he knew that the most reliable of his servants would get it done.
Still, what a foolish girl. To so readily accept his false words of concern for her. He cared for no human, malfested or not, and his words had only been used to strengthen Tira's loyalty in performing this task.
Of course, he didn't wish for her to die yet. After all, if she died, he wouldn't know what this powerful new soul was.
Speaking of such a thing, Nightmare's thoughts returned to how he had first detected it. Or them, rather; there had actually been four of these incredibly powerful souls, detected far in the west, the south, and in the east by Soul Edge. And that was what worried him. Of course Soul Edge had the power to detect strong souls, but these four were so powerful they could be sensed from here; which was worrisome.
And furthermore, Soul Edge had not responded to the detection of these souls as it usually did. Instead of the intense hunger to consume, the Cursed Sword had been thrown into a terrible tantrum of rage and fear.
Fear. It was a foreign word to the Azure Knight. An alien one. One he was never in the same room with. Yes, he knew what fear was, but he never felt it. He was the one who caused fear, the one who struck it into the hearts of humanity. He was surrounded by fear, but he had never known it. Until now. Until mere minutes ago, when his grip on Soul Edge formed a connection between the minds of the two evil beings, and the all consuming fear had poured out of the flesh-like blade.
Honestly, Nightmare was a little scared too. Soul Edge did not even fear the Spirit Sword in such a way. What force in this world could truly strike fear in the Cursed Sword greater than that of Soulcalibur? While the answer to that question did intrigue his fell mind, on many levels he did not wish to know, nor was he eager to meet that power.
Still, the four souls that had so suddenly been detected were far off from Ostreinhsburg, and he yet had servants to carry out his will should they be hostile. It was a good way to dispose of the useless malfested servants anyway, and Nightmare had no qualms about using this new power to unwittingly take out his trash. That comforting thought filled him as he resided on his throne, waiting for the next whim of fate to strike the world he so detested.
Voldo sat motionless beside the tomb of his old master, Vercci, guarding the treasure he had finally managed to recover from the thieves who had ransacked it in his absence. His vigil was for now undisturbed by anything or anyone, and no sound beside the constant drip of water in the pit could be heard. Because of this, he was satisfied.
His mind focused only on that dripping of liquid, all other things seemed to cease existing for a few minutes. So was the peacefulness that presided over the money pit, until a rumbling blast of sound consumed the silence of the pit from the outside, shaking the ground and toppling precarious piles of money. Voldo jerked, shocked out of his stupor by the strength of the blast and the wall of sound that had shattered his peace and severely damaged his over-sensitive ears.
After the painful ringing had stopped, his first thought was that the blast had sounded a lot like cannon fire. Cervantes, perhaps? Voldo had always thought that the once loose business partner of Vercci's would come to steal the treasure here; and why not? Only he, Vercci's loyal servant, guarded this place. But Voldo would fulfill his master's wishes no matter what the cost, and quickly scampered, slithered, and crawled towards the source of the disturbance.
Chrysaor was sprawled out on his back, in a pose somewhat similar to being spreadeagled as he recovered from his violent entry into the mortal realm. He knew not where he was, for his vision was totally dark, the few lights he did see blurred, and the recovery of his vision was slow. His entire body felt as though it was on fire, but the spasmodic pain in his muscles kept him from making any move to deal with the sensation.
And so he lay motionless, trying to determine his surroundings through the senses that were not damaged. Through his helmet, he heard many things that were quite familiar to him. The lapping of the waves against the seashore, the squawking of flocks of birds as their rest had been disturbed, and the sound of a mild ocean breeze echoing through his helm among them.
As Chrysaor took account of all of these things, his vision had cleared somewhat, and the pain in his muscles had eased a bit. He slowly sat up and cracked open his eyes, still hidden behind the dragon-head helm he wore, and observed the area with his sight as well as his hearing.
He first saw the vast ocean that stretched from the beach he was on out to the horizon, and the stark blue sky above it. He reached a trembling hand out towards a velvet sky that he wished he could feel, to confirm that it actually existed. Oh, the sweet things of this world he was now seeing. How he had longed for them, to see and smell and hear them once more, instead of the eerie quiet and dreary onyx of Valhalla.
Unable to contain his euphoria at the setting he found himself in, Chrysaor began to cry, the tears falling into the bottom of his helmet unchecked. This was his world; this was his home. He had been separated from it for nearly a decade, and the pure joyful bliss of returning to it overwhelmed him.
He knew not how long he remained there, crying as that sheer joy filled him, but when he was finally through, he noticed that the sun had sunk a bit closer to the horizon, tingeing the sky a fiery orange with little wisps of clouds that almost seemed pinkish. The grandeur of the sunset almost made him cry all over again. This was also something he had missed during his time in Valhalla. He remembered watching so many similar sunsets with his little sister, during a mortal life that felt much further in the past that it truly was.
Looking down at the ground to avoid focusing on the beauty of the sky, Chrysaor finally noticed that what he sat on was not sand, but actually glass. Fascinated by this, he turned to look behind him, and noticed for the first time the carnage his entry into this realm had wrought.
A large, rough-edged circle of glass marked where Chrysaor had landed; he knew what had caused this. He, as the Sentinel of Lightning, had his entry marked by a powerful lightning strike, and the tremendous heat and rapid cooling had almost instantly vitrified the sand it had struck. What really surprised him was the destruction further inland of the area. Several of the tropical trees had been either incinerated or splintered into many pieces, and the ground itself looked as if a small meteor had impacted it, instead of a heavily armored Sentinel.
Ironic, that the very nature he had missed so much in Valhalla had been destroyed by him in his transportation here. Currently though, he cared little for the trees and the dirt, and he returned his veiled gaze to the ocean beyond.
It lingered there, his thoughts now focused on his objective. How was he to find this catalyst that The Four spoke of? The first step was to figure out where he was. In this respect, he had an advantage over the other Sentinels, who had been gone from the world far longer than he. Still, his surroundings indicated that he was on some sort of island, and if it was uninhabited, he'd be in quite a spot of trouble...
Chrysaor's thoughts were interrupted by the patter of light footsteps behind him, signaling the presence of some other human or animal. And in his naïvety, he turned to offer a handshake instead of Naegling's blade. As he did, a pair of hands wrapped around his neck, and Chrysaor was flipped over someone's back and slammed into the ground. He tried to get up to view his assailant, but before he could, several thumps resounded against his armor as his attacker practically crab-walked over him, stabbing his torso multiple times with strange claw-like contraptions.
After the unknown attacker passed over him, its blows deflected by Chysaor's sturdy armor, the Sentinel rolled to his feet and shot a none-to-pleased glare at his enemy. Who, or what, ever it was, was quite surprising. Some sort of gray-skinned humanoid creature with straps and scraps of clothing wrapped around it, with a set of goggle like things where its eyes should be, and a mouth gagged by one of the straps that wrapped around the thing's body. As he looked down at its hands, Chrysaor noticed that it was not claws the creature wielded, but actually katars, a unique weapon that did not find much use in modern combat.
The creature even stood in a strange way, its feet sliding across the ground without actually moving it forward, which didn't seem physically possible. But while strange, whatever it was seemed human, and it had yet to attack him again, so Chrysaor thought that he may try reason with it.
Holding up his hands in the universal sign of peace, Chrysaor said attempted to relay his wishes. "I do not wish to fight you. If we can but talk-!"
His useless attempt at peace was interrupted when the creature sprinted forward, flipped around, and kicked Chrysaor in the head. The Sentinel stumbled backwards, not so much injured by the blow as he was staggered in his unpreparedness for it.
Now Chrysaor was a gentle man, but when things refused to even acknowledge his wishes for peace, he tended to lose his temper. He pulled Naegling from its silver sheath, and the last rays of the sun at his back caused the magical blade to shimmer an iridescent orange, much like the sky above him. He held the blade diagonally in front of him, a stance he deemed most efficient for blocking multiple unexpected attacks.
As he reoriented himself to face his opponent, he noticed that he/she/it had not turned to face him yet, but instead remained crouched and showing its back to him, as if it intended to fight him while looking in the opposite direction. Somehow that angered Chrysaor even more. Was this thing so arrogant that it thought it could fight him backwards?
However, this exact notion was proven as Chrysaor was stabbed in the face with a katar. The blow bounced off his helm, but the force of the impact snapped his head back anyway. He angrily retaliated by swinging his fist at the creature's head, but it nimbly dodged the backhanded blow and freakishly rolled out of striking distance.
Chrysaor was actually glad that the blow did not find its mark, for he had not restrained his strength in his anger, and his fist would have easily pulverized the skull of crocodile, never mind a person. He did not wish to make a bloody mess out of his attacker, despite its successful attempts at patronizing him, and he would be more careful to gauge the strength of his attacks from now on.
The creature made a strange hissing noise and ran at its foe with large, clownish strides, this time opting for an uppercut with its right katar. Chrysaor, wielding the element of speed and now ready to fight for the first time in ten years, used his lightning fast reflexes to intercept the weapon, quickly following up with the immense force he possessed as a Sentinel to shatter the blades of the katar by merely clenching his fist.
The creature that opposed him stumbled backwards in astonishment at Chrysaor's extraordinary strength, and the armored warrior took advantage of the moment to send his fist flying into the creature's face, sending it several feet backwards and easily fracturing its jaw. It would seem that Naegling would not even be necessary for this battle.
Chrysaor's downed adversary squirmed on the ground for a few moments before staggering to its feet and holding the side of its head. Chrysaor made no advances on it during this time, as he had no desire to slay the thing, and instead gave it time to recover.
Once it had finally regained its senses, it resumed its creepy combat stance and began moving towards him again. It was a persistent individual; Chrysaor would at least admit that. The embattled Sentinel raised Naegling above his head, and readied himself to end this fight by incapacitating his enemy with a well-aimed bolt of electricity. But before he could finish accumulating the required energy for such an attack, the creature stopped abruptly in front of him and cocked its head to the side, as if listening to the sound of some approaching danger. Then it quickly turned around and retreated into the tropical plant-life of this island or coast, disappearing from Chrysaor's sight. The Sentinel kept his blade in front of him, anticipating some sort of deception or trickery, but several minutes with nothing eventful occurring convinced him otherwise.
He sheathed Naegling, wondering why his opponent had retreated, besides the fact that it was simply no match for him. His answer came a few moments later when he heard the shouts of several men and the rowing of oars in the ocean behind him.
Chrysaor turned to face them, surprised to find a small band of men in rowboats coming his way and a larger sailing vessel anchored a ways off, covering the sun that was now just barely peeking over the edge of the world. Somewhat ashamed of his lack of awareness, Chrysaor could not help but believe his years in Valhalla had dulled his senses.
I don't think I have ever written two 4000+ length chapters one right after another. Usually 3000-3500 seems good to me.
But hopefully introducing some actual Soul Calibur characters will garner some more interest in this story, because I have a hunger to write it and I need readers to keep it going.
No, but seriously, thanks for reading, and please feel free( Or feel oppressed, I don't care) to review, PM or email feedback to me. Please? Do you have any idea how depressing it is to not get any feedback for all of this hard work?! WELL?!
Thanks for reading~Shadow0Fire