This is a co-written fanfic between myself and Dracomancer6491. We both acknowledge that we are both posting the same fic and will write every other chapter if we are able. So please enjoy our Co-written Demon's Souls fic.
-Dracomancer6491 and animeman12.
Disclaimer: We do NOT own Demon's Souls, as it is the property of From Software
On the first day man was granted a soul, and with it, clarity. On the second day on Earth was planted an irrevocable poison; a soul devouring demon. For years mankind fought the demon, but to no avail. Many lost their lives and those who had strong souls became demons. The four strongest of them all became the demon's main force: Its Vanguard. Until one day a group of 100 monks and nuns walked to the demon and granted it a name, The Old One, before giving their most precious possession, their souls, to God in exchange for the power to put the mighty beast and its hoard to slumber. They did, dooming themselves to a half-life ending with a slow and painful death, and became the Monumental before giving the six keys used to lock away the Old One to the six elders of the land: The human king who ruled with a kind but firm hand, the king of the dwarfs, master of the underground, the wise queen of the ivory tower, where prisoners were held until their deaths, the greatest warrior of the giants, a titan of unmatchable strength, the leader of the shamans, the strongest magician in the land, and the ruler of the valley, caretaker of unwanted souls. This granted the land of Boletaria, and all others, years of peace and prosperity or so the Saints Urbain and Astraea say.
Then king Allant of Boletaria sought the power of the Old One, after leading Boletaria into an unprecedented age of peace using the Soul Arts, and awoke It from Its slumber, releasing the colorless fog and the demon hordes once more. No one heard from the land until Vallerfax of the Royal Twin Fangs broke free from the fog and spoke of how the demons awoke and began to prey on mankind. From a foreign land, whose name has been lost to the sands of time, two travelers entered the fog in hopes of defeating the horde, like many before them. Erika di Angelo a good-hearted girl with piercing green eyes who, when angered, is as fiery as her hair, princess of the land, and daughter of king Allant's sister, and Sir Raven Saberson her wild brown haired, bodyguard who keeps the life of his charge, be it Erika or any of her family, above all others. They ventured into the fog, Erika: to help those in need and end this blight where it stood and Raven: to keep Erika safe, prepared for a hard fight.
What they found... neither had considered: death and destruction on a scale not heard of since the Old One first came unto the earth. Erika had expected mankind to be fighting back, to be able to kill a few demons before returning to her father to tell him it would be appreciated by the Boletarians to send their army to aid them, but what she saw as the fog closed behind her, trapping her in this land until her death or the Old One's defeat, was death all around her. The few remaining humans alive were running at her in an attempt to leave the fog as the undead and soulless chased them, to claim the souls of the living and regain their own.
Standing paralyzed at how different this land really was Erika didn't react when one of the people, a black haired man wearing tattered clothes, grabbed her shirt, right above her chest, with both hands and said "Please milady! You have to help us!" All the while he was shaking as the rest of, what looked like, his family cowered behind Raven and he threw glances over his shoulder at the figures that drew ever closer.
"Erika!" Raven barked drawing his longsword and kite shield from his back, "Now is not the time for second guessing. So stay behind me and let me deal with this!" With that he grabbed the man and threw him behind them with the rest of the people before nudging Erika back and charging, his armor making a loud 'clank' every time his foot hit the ground. The nudge breaking her out of her stupor Erika nodded before pulling out her rapier and buckler and standing at the ready in case any of the beasts got past Raven.
As he ran Raven noted that the monsters in front of him looked vaguely like humans, before he chose the closest one and slammed his sword into its chest killing it and causing it to drop the dagger and shield it was carrying. Grunting as he pulled the sword from the corpse he briefly acknowledged a white, gas like substance that left the monster in front of him and entered his body before turning his attention to the four left as they looked dumbly from the dead body of their companion to the armored man standing above it.
Taking advantage of their confusion Raven charged the next one and, in a single horizontal strike, removed its head. Now roaring in anger the remaining three charged the knight, two of them leaping at him with their weapons raised while the third charged past him. Blocking the daggers and throwing the monsters back he turned to see the third approach Erika "I don't think so!" he yelled charging the thing as it began to slow.
When he reached the monster he pushed a little harder before jamming his sword into its back and forcing it to the ground growling out "And stay down" before crushing its head with his boot and removing his sword, and out of the wound his sword caused came that white gas that once more flowed into his body as he turned back to the other two of them... only to see one of them in the air already, its dagger aimed for his throat.
As time seemed to slow Raven expected several endings for this scenario; his death, the ultimate death of his charge, his severe injury, him killing these last two monsters before Erika trying to save his dieing self, but what he didn't expect to see was a blue beam suddenly blindside the monster, sending it several meters away as the white mist rose from it once more, signaling its death, but this time it flew to Erika, who stood with her silver catalyst still aimed in his direction still panting from the energy cost of casting magic. She soon remedied that by bringing her right hand up to her nose and sniffing the ring on her ring finger, its fragrance releasing the tension in her body.
"I said let me handle this Erika!" Raven called sighing inwardly at his continued survival, "Don't waste your energy" he then turned to the final monster and cut it down.
"That's the thanks I get for saving your life?" Erika huffed before turning to the people behind her, kneeling down, and asking "Are any of you hurt? And what were those things?"
"W-w-w-we're fine mi-mi-milady" a brown haired woman holding two young boys to her waist stuttered, out of both fear and respect, "Th-th-thank you f-f-f-for asking" with this she did a low, and pretty bad, curtsey.
"Those things" the man spat glaring at the corpses as Raven approached, having thoroughly cleaned his longsword of the blood from the monsters and taking his place at Erika's back, slightly to the right, "Were the people we payed to keep us safe as we left this... Hell"
"Those were people?!" Erika asked turning to look at the corpses that lay haphazardly on the ground where they fell to Raven's blade, "Why were they attacking you!?"
"They were people no longer" the man said waving his hand as if nothing were wrong, "One of them got killed by one of those things, it took his soul, and with it his mind, and then there were two of them attacking two people who'd already fought off five each. It all went to shit from there" taking one last moment to spit on the closest corpse to him the man turned to Erika and said "Thanks for you help and try not to die" before leading his family into the fog.
"This has been a good insight..." Raven said watching the four leave, "We should be more careful around people from now on; at any moment they could die and join our foes"
"I can't believe you!" Erika yelled, stomping her foot, "Are you saying we should just ignore people here because they could be a danger?! That's all the more reason to help them survive!"
"Bu-... Very well" Raven said knowing Erika to be to stubborn to argue over something she feels this strongly about, "But I advise extreme caution; its not impossible for those with souls to lose their minds. Shall we be off?" at Erika's nod he started the trek into Boletaria's most northern fortress.
With in the fortress was more of the corpse like monsters that looked decayed even though Erika and Raven had seen them created, a disgusting process were one of them kills someone before sucking their soul out of their mouths complete with loud and stomach churning sounds, and much to Erika's dismay they never managed to save anyone. To her even greater dismay their appearance was the distraction that one of the monsters needed to kill one of the soldiers fighting them off, though Raven killed the monster and then put the man out of his misery soon afterward.
Their journey thus far was uneventful until they found, and saved, a soldier who was fighting off a group of the monsters, his helm having been long ago knocked off, revealing the man's black hair and blue eyes, along with a scar running from his right eyebrow down over his nose and ending at his left jaw, just barely missing his eyes. "Fucking dreglings" the soldier muttered, just quiet enough for it to be missed, before turning to the duo "Hail! Are you scouts from the neighboring kingdom?"
Looking to Raven with a slightly confused look on her face Erika turned back to the soldier and simply said "In a way"
"What's that supposed to mean?" The soldier demanded sheathing his sword angrily, "You're either scouts or you're not! So which are you?!"
Before Erika could answer Raven cut in, saying "We are not scouts" and just like that the soldier seemed to lose all of his willpower.
"I've been fighting for days..." he mumbled falling to his knees, his voice leaden with sadness and guilt, "I told everyone else 'Keep fighting! Our neighbors will send aid! They have to; their queen is king Allant's sister! She'd never let her brother's kingdom fall!' And fight they did... down to the very last man: me" He looked up to Erika tears flowing freely from his eyes, "Please... let me join my comrades where every they might be..."
"You want me to kill you?!" Erika demanded, shocked that anyone who looked perfectly fine would beg for death. The fact that the man then nodded shocked even more.
"Very well" Raven said drawing his blade and walking towards the soldier, who simply said 'Thank you' with tears still running down his face, "Make peace with God" Raven said raising his sword.
Just as it was about to be brought down Erika yelled "Wait!" causing Raven to pause in his swing, the sword stopping just shy of the soldier's neck. She then ran up to the soldier and knelt before him, putting her hands on his shoulders, before saying "I'm sure the army will come... no not sure; I know they will come"
"How?! How would you know?" The soldier demanded wiping the tears from his eyes, "Ever since General Arthur died, I've been the only one expecting help... but no one's come for weeks! So tell me how do you know they're coming!?"
"I know... because I'm sure my father would do anything to get me back, as would my older brother" Erika said with a small smile, inwardly shocked at hearing that General Arthur Levisson, a man of unparalleled might in battle, so much so that both king Allant and her father had both named him Sir Arthur of the Legion, could have been killed.
"Erika..." Raven almost growled out, obviously wanting to know just why she revealed the fact that she was a princess to someone who could kill her out of spite in seconds, this reason being why he moved closer and put his hand on Erika's shoulder protectively.
"What do your father and brother have anything to do wi-..." the soldier began before realization hit him and his jaw dropped and began to twitch slightly "Y-y-y-y-you... you're the princess of... milady!" he moved one knee onto its foot and bowed his head, mentally smacking himself for not noticing her royal ponytail, even if it did look like a regular one "I'm sorry I didn't realize sooner, please forgive my lack of respect!"
Sighing Erika said "Its fine, now can you tell me exactly what's been going on... starting with your name?" to which the soldier nodded gratefully.
"My name is Eric Bevinsson, I'm one of the vanguard station at this fortress" the newly named Eric said still kneeling to Erika "I was one of the people who were stationed here to await your nation's reply to our call for help... but the demons came upon us before we got the response" This caused Erika to look at Raven in confusion, after all she'd never heard of them asking for help, the knight simply shrugged. "We put up a brilliant defense at first, though mostly because General Arthur was alive and fighting with us; when we fought with him we felt like we couldn't lose. For six days we fended off the demons and the soulless, and on the eve of the sixth we considered sending a garrison of men to take the royal family from the palace, in the heart of all this madness, and bring them here... but on the seventh day... the Old One's Vanguard arrived. Maybe it felt that we'd put up to much of a defense, maybe that General Arthur was to strong to keep alive or to not be a demon. I don't know, but either way, at dawn on the seventh day the four members of the Old One's Vanguard arrived completely alone"
"General Arthur chose twenty men, our finest and strongest, to accompany him in battle against the Vanguard. I watch with my telescope as he ordered them to keep the gray one busy while he dealt with the others"
Having been silent up until now Erika asked quietly and simply "Is that how he died? Fighting the Vanguard with his men?"
"That would make sense" Raven said nodding, standing with his hands clasped behind his back, but his head looking around every so often, "The Vanguard are supposed to be the most powerful of the original demons that the Old One created and made with the souls of Four Dragons of the East, the strongest warriors of their time each of them supposedly able to take on an entire army on their own"
"No" Eric laughed smirking "General Arthur slew three of the Vanguard in what looked like single combat, one after another" he said to Erika and Raven's shock, though Raven's helm made it hard to actually see his reaction, though he did stop looking around and slowly turn his head towards Eric and gave a glare that said 'Explain. Now!'
"He killed... three of the Old One's Vanguard..." Erika muttered falling from her knees onto her butt in shock "Wait... you said he killed three of them? What happened to the fourth one?"
"After General Arthur killed the three of them... the fourth, and most powerful, threw away all the soldiers around it before charging him. Normally it would have been easy to kill... if it hadn't gone past him and ate the souls of the other three before the General could claim them" Eric explained sadly, looking down "After that if attacked him with speed that it didn't have before and soon it pick him up and threw him to the ground before lifting up its great axe... and cutting him in two. After that, directly after that in fact, a flash of light came from his body and it disappeared, but I don't know where it went. Hopefully the Old One didn't take it and his soul to make a demon to rival his entire Vanguard. After the flash of light the twenty soldiers attacked the last of the Vanguard, only to all be killed in one stroke of its axe. It then roared and drew in the souls of the dead, before setting an army of dreglings on us... a few of the knights that had fought against the Vanguard stood up, completely healed, their eyes glowing blue while the rest stood, also healed, and began to march on us"
At this point Erika cut him off "What are 'dreglings' exactly?" she asked "I get that the last Vanguard created what appears to be new demons... but dreglings?"
"The decayed corpses that you fought on the way in, men whose souls have been removed through their mouths. I call them that because they look like they've been eating nothing but the dregs of the poor and diseased for years" Eric said looking up and pointing to the monster he had killed when he had first met Erika and Raven "That's one of them right over there"
"Thank you. Now let me get this straight" Raven said "General Arthur Levisson, a man whose legend states is a god among men, though legends tend to twist with telling, defeated three of the Vanguard before being killed by the final and most powerful of the four. Then the last one summoned an army of... dreglings... and lay siege to this fortress?"
"Aye, our defenses broke soon after due to the shock of losing the General" Eric said depressed "Soon everyone save my group of thirty men were dead, dreglings, or had risen again to fight us. Its been a death trap the entire time... we just couldn't see it"
"All the more reason to fight back" Erika said standing up and offering Eric her hand, her words causing Eric's head to shoot up in confusion, "Prove that even with out General Arthur, your comrades, or even a chance stem the tide of demons that you'll fight with everything you have. If you do this while others watch, or even if they only hear of it, then their thoughts will go from 'We're going to die, God just please let it end!' to 'He's fighting even though he knows he'll die... if he can do it why can't I?!" She smiled and her head tilted to the right as her hand sat in the air for him to grab, "If you can't follow your General, and your king hasn't given any orders... then follow me! I promise that I'll stop this scourge even if its the last thing I do!"
"You have a way with words, I'll give you that" Eric laughed grabbing Erika's hand and standing with her help "I'll follow you, and hold you to your promise"
"Excellent! Now lets go kick some demon ass!" Erika exclaimed, only for Raven to clear his throat loudly causing her to flinch "I mean... lets go kill some demons!" She said quickly after before running forward to avoid Raven's gaze.
"What just..." Eric asked looking to Raven in confusion only for the knight to shake his head and chase after the red head, leaving Eric to yell "W-wait for me!" before taking off in pursuit.
"By the way" Erika called from ahead of the two men to Eric "My name's Erika, and the tin man is Raven"
"If my suit of tin will keep me alive long enough to keep you out of trouble than I would gladly wear it over any suit of plate" Raven said as he trudged after his charge, as Eric laughed the entire time.
After searching for more soldiers to no avail Erika decided that now would be a good time to rest, seeing as they weren't surrounded by dreglings and there were no, as Erika had named them so difficultly, blue-eyed knights around. Soon she was snoring lightly, her ponytail undone so that her hair was down to her shoulder blades with some of it draped over her face, resting her head on one arm her other gripping her silk shirt at the collar.
"Energetic isn't she?" Eric asked laughing lightly at how she had run into one of the now named blue-eyed knights and then ran back past the two of them to hide behind a pillar calling out that she'd 'keep a look out for dreglings that might sneak up on the two while they fought.
Raven just nodded, having removed his helm to eat some of the rations that he and Erika had brought with them into the fog. After a few minutes of silence that Raven used to finish his food, set some next to Erika for when she awoke, and replace his helm, he spoke up and said to the soldier in front of him "If you hurt her, in any way, I will kill you" Seeing the look Eric was giving him Raven more or less growled "I'm serious. If any harm, of any kind, befalls her because of you... no one will save you from me"
"Okay okay I get it. What are you her l-" Eric began bringing his hands up and would have finished had Raven not immediately cut him off.
"Bodyguard" he answered coldly "I am her bodyguard, and one of her father's knights, nothing more nothing less" the helm making it hard for Eric to see anything but his anger and suspicion filled eyes.
"Alright alright. No harm, got it" Eric said once again, before returning to his food, which suddenly tasted... rather bland. Erika woke up soon afterward and had her fill of food, and confusion as to why Eric was looking warily at Raven, but she decided that it was nothing and continued on with her meal.
A couple fights later and Erika found herself fighting up close to something for the first time. Raven was dealing with the blue-eyed knight and Eric was tearing through the dregling ranks so none of her companions really noticed how she had been cornered by two dreglings, their mouths opening and closing repeatedly with a wet sucking sound as if waiting for when they could suck her soul out of her mouth. The thought of losing her soul, and that of having the dreglings' mouths on hers, made her sick to her stomach and nearly paralyzed her with fear.
"Raven?... Eric?... anyone?" She asked backing up to the wall as the thought 'These things look different up close' went through her mind... or it would have if it weren't for the fact that the only thing her mind was thinking about was how she would die here, alone and separated from her friends and family.
That last thought filled her with sadness... which turned into rage the moment the thought 'No one is stop me from going home!' went through her mind, overriding her fear enough to allow her to pull out her silver catalyst and rapier, killing the dregling on the left with Soul Arrow and stabbing the dregling on the right in the neck before pulling it out by pushing the former human off of the rapier with her foot and then stabbing it in the heart while it was down before falling to her knees and panting.
"Erika you okay?" Raven asked after finishing the blue-eyed knight with a well timed stab absorbing the white gas once more, "Why're you just sitting there? Come on we need to move... Erika?"
"They look human when they die..." She said in response still staring at the dead bodies in front of her, her knees to her chest and her arms holding them close to her body "They're monsters... but when they die they look human... and I had my sword in them when that happened..." tears began to well up in her eyes as she continued "I know that they aren't human anymore... but they all look human in the end. And that's what scares me; that at any moment I could die, become one of them and then when I'm killed I'll come to my senses for a split second and see someone I know at the end of the sword"
Sighing Raven knelt down and wrapped an armored arm around the twenty year old "Good" he said causing her to look at him in confusion "Fear is good; it tells you when to run, it gives you that extra push to defeat an enemy, it proves your humanity. These were the first dreglings you've fought up close, without the safety of distance and us in between you and them and you came out unharmed, and of that I am eternally grateful" The fact that she simply nodded numbly caused Raven to sigh quietly and continue "This is the first time you've killed anything that resembles a human being?" He asked getting only silence in return.
"She came here without..." Eric asked letting the question drop once he saw Raven's glare through the eye slits in the man's helm, "I'm going to..." he said his eyes flicking to Erika before turning and walking over to the blue-eyed knight's corpse to see if it had anything on it that could be of any use, the weapon had been lost having fallen off the wall when the monster had died and the armor was to damaged by Raven's blade to be of any use.
"Erika I'm glad this happened now" Raven said bluntly causing the woman's eyes to widen and her head to shoot up to look at the man, but he held up a hand silencing any retort she could come up with. "Let me finish. I'm glad this happened now, as opposed to when we are fighting more or stronger enemies. These are your first kills, and depending on how you feel, they determine the kind of person you are. Do you feel bad?" she nodded, her tear glinted eyes looking up at him intently. "Then you're a good person, who regrets having to end lives, though what we're doing right now could be considered putting these poor soulless men to their final rest"
"Does it... does it ever get easier?" Erika asked trying to blink the tears from her eyes, "Killing I mean. You two do it a lot and you don't seem to be effected..."
"Honestly... no it doesn't... or you don't want it to, because then its changing you for the worse" Raven said sitting next to her and pulling her close, "As men... and women... trained to fight in a war, we've learned to keep those feelings bottle up... until its a safe time to let them out. And for you... right now that would be a time like that, so its okay to cry" And cry she did. It started soft, with light and small sniffs, but soon turned into full blown rivers of tears coming from Erika's eyes as she more or less jumped into Raven's chest and wrapped her arms around his armor, the occasional hiccup interrupting her sobs, as she idly wished that Raven wasn't wearing metal armor right now.
More used to cutting men in half than comforting sad princesses Raven awkwardly returned the pseudo hug, gently patter Erika on the back as she let out all the emotions she was feeling right now in a flood of tears.
"Hey I found a couple gras-..." Eric called turning around to see what was happening and was silenced by Raven's glare, "I'll just go back to searching for useful things these guys could have been carrying..." the soldier sighed shaking his head, rolling his eyes, and going back to searching the dead.
When she finally stopped crying Erika looked up at Raven before looking down sheepishly "Sorry about..." she said letting the sentence hang and letting go of his armor before kneeling on her shins with her hands in fists on her knees as she avoided his face with her eyes.
"Its fine" Raven assured her rolling his eyes slightly, not that that could be seen all that well "You okay now?" At her nod he stood up and held out his hand, much like she had done with Eric earlier that day, "Lets get a move on then" turning his head to face Eric "You done?"
"Yeah! Found a couple of crescent moon grass and a few shields but other than that their equipment is shot to hell" Eric answered kicking a dregling corpse off of the wall and out of the fortress, where it landed with a loud 'thud'. "We heading out?"
"Yeah" Raven said as Erika grabbed his hand and he pulled her to her feet, "We should have cleared out all of the dreglings, blue-eyed knights, and... soldiers in this part of the fortress" He said fumbling on figuring out what to call the soulless bodies of the dead soldiers within the fortress, "So I think we should head into the fortress proper now"
"And I see just the place to do it" Erika said walking down a walkway to reach a piece of the wall that had crumbled, leaving nothing to prevent one from jumping from the wall into the main part of the fortress.
"Erika, don't do something stupid" Raven said looking warily over the edge of the wall at the approximately ten to fifteen foot drop.
"It'll be fine" Erika said, waving off Raven's concern and her own previous weakness with a wave of her hand before walking up to the break in the wall and turning to the soldier and knight behind her "If you have any rope, and you want to climb down go for it" With that she turned and leapt from the wall, much to Raven's chagrin. Flipping, either intentional or accidental was unknown, Erika landed on the ground in seconds, rolling a few times once she hit the ground to lessen the impact, she stood up and looked up at the two that still stood on the wall. "You coming or not?!" She called to them grinning wildly.
"Armor makes it hard to jump down and land gracefully you know!" Eric called back shaking his head and smiling slightly before jumping down and landing with a loud 'clank', before his armor and momentum caused him to fall on his face with a 'thud' "Ow..." he muttered dragging himself up and pulling his spear and shield off his back and began looking around.
"I swear you're going to be the death of me" Raven sighed before jumping down himself, landing with a louder clank and managing to stay upright. "Shall we..." the knight's words were cut off by the sound of approaching footsteps causing him to raise his left hand in a fist, his elbow forming a ninety degree angle, to silently tell the other two the stay quiet and stop.
As the footsteps grew louder Erika drew out her rapier and catalyst, Eric brought up his shield and held his spear at the ready, and Raven slowly drew out his longsword with his right hand. The telltale clanking of an armored knight was soon heard following the footsteps. "Maybe someone's chasing dreglings to kill them?" Erika suggested quietly as the number of footsteps and clanks increased.
"I don't think so" Raven said as the owner of the feet making the footsteps rounded the corner to reveal a group of maybe ten dreglings, followed by five soldiers, and three blue-eyed knights. "Erika! Stay back and start casting!" Raven yelled grabbing his shield from his back before looking at Eric, the two of them sharing a nod before charging into the monsters.
Upon the sight of those with souls the soulless dreglings immediately charge in a simple pattern: when close enough they leap at the men and women they are attacking, bringing down their, what the group had realized through looking over the bodies of dead dreglings, broken swords upon the closest vulnerable spot to them on the average soldier: the neck. Attempting this with Raven and Eric, however, proved fatal for the soulless beasts as Raven caught the sword on his shield and in one smooth motion threw his shield up, knocking the broken sword from the monster's hand, and stabbed it in the heart before slamming it on the ground and crushing its head with his boot as he removed the longsword staring through the slits in his helm to look at the largest of the blue-eyed knights, a creature standing at around seven feet tall.
Eric stabbed the first dregling that came into range in the neck and ripped it out, taking most of the monster's neck with it, before immediately stabbing the next one in the chest, his spear getting stuck on its ribcage. Putting his foot on the dregling's chest and pulling with all his might he didn't notice the third dregling that was charging him until a hungered roar tore from its throat just before a beam of blue caught it in the chest, sending it into the soldier behind it.
"You can get the spear after we've put these bodies to rest!" Erika said in between mutterings of the incantation for Soul Arrow, bringing her ring up to her nose every so often, as she killed the remaining dreglings from a distance of at least ten meters.
"Right!" Eric agreed drawing his broadsword from his belt and rushing the soldier that had been hit by the dregling just as it was getting up, stabbing its neck and ripping the head free of its torso. As Eric dealt with the soldiers and Erika leaned against the wall panting from the exertion it took to fire off so many spells, Raven was dealing with the blue-eyed knights.
Doing what he did with the dregling to the first one, all the while staring at the largest one with a death glare, Raven forced himself to pay more attention to the knight he was trading blows with right now. Knocking away the knight's blade with his own he rammed it with his his shield in an attempt to knock it off balance. What he managed to do was knock it into the other knight who shoved it forward with a growl. As if commanded the second knight charged forth once more swinging its sword in an upward diagonal arc.
Growling at the knight's tenacity, Raven leapt to its left and rolled with a 'thunk'. Standing up as quick as possible he charged its back and, right as it turned its head, stabbed his longsword into the monster's back, cutting through its armor, lungs, and spine, before placing his foot on its back and pulling the sword out as the body fell to the ground lifeless for the rest of eternity.
The final blue-eyed knight growled as it lifted its sword and walked over the Raven, who had turned in the monster's direction at the sound of the growl. To put it bluntly: Raven was not in the best of situations. He just killed a dregling, a blue-eyed knight, and fought another one without rest so, needless to say, he was tired and his panting was letting the massive knight in front of him know this fact loud and clear. Once the knight got within striking distance Raven had intended to make the first move by striking out with his sword as fast as he could but the knight beat him to it with a single stroke of its blade, which Raven could barely bring his shield up in time to block.
This was when his exhaustion caught up with him, for Raven's shield was thrown to the side and the knight's strike was immediately followed by a stab that found its way through Raven's shield arm's shoulder, and would have found his heart if he hadn't dodged at the last second.
The knight brutally kicked Raven off of its sword, in an ironic twist seeing as how Raven had been doing that to blue-eyed knights and dreglings all day, knocking Raven's helm off in the process, and stood looming over the man before slowly raising its sword. Once more time seemed to slow as the sword came down only for the wielder to, once again, get hit with a blue beam.
Looking over to where the beam had come from he saw a panting Erika muttering under her breath and jab the catalyst in her hand at the monster sending yet another Soul Arrow at it. Eric removed his spear from the dregling's corpse and managed to sneak around the blue-eyed knight's back while Erika distracted it with Soul Arrows.
Seeing his chance Raven scrabbled backwards holding his only defense, his longsword, for dear life. The blue-eyed knight noticed this and growled, walking forward to catch up to Raven while hold its shield up to protect it from Erika's Soul Arrows. Erika paused in her barrage to rest a bit, just long enough for the blue-eyed knight to drop its shield and catch up to Raven, before firing a Soul Arrow with the last of her strength hitting the monster in the chest and causing it to back up and bend over slightly.
Seeing this as his chance Eric broke into a dead sprint and once he was less than five meters away he leapt onto the monster's back, slamming it to the ground with the force of his armor weighted body suddenly landing on its back, and drove his spear into its unprotected neck before pulling to one side with all his remaining might. The neck gave way and Eric's spear was ripped from the monster's neck, blood spurting from the wound as the body died for the second and final time.
"Raven!" Erika called jogging over to the knight "Are you okay?" she asked kneeling next to him and reaching into a pouch on the right side of her butt.
"Yes" Raven lied propping himself up on his right arm and trying, and failing, to reach for his helm with his left without showing any pain.
"Right" Erika said rolling her eyes at his statement, "And your making a pained face every time you move your left arm because you want to fool those without souls" she finished pulling out a small lump of crescent moon grass as Eric walked over, picking up Raven's helm and putting on the ground next to him. "Eat the grass Raven; it'll stop the bleeding before you die" Erika said holding the grass out for him to eat.
"You can't very well protect her if you can't even protect yourself" Eric said sitting down cross-legged next to the Raven as he watched the knight slowly chew the grass.
"If it comes down to it" Raven said in between chews, "I'm entrusting her safety to you. Don't make me regret it"
Erika glared at the knight laying below her before saying, sounding absolutely sure of herself, "But it won't come to that; because you're going to be fine. Understand?"
Staring up at his charge as she looked at him from above he had been about to say something that began with 'but' however her 'Understand?' cut him off. Sighing at her stubbornness and closing his eyes as he finished chewing the grass before swallowing it he opened his eyes, his red meeting her green, and said "Very well. If her majesty commands that I shall live then so I shall" grinning at the annoyed expression that crossed her face at his final comment.
"You know I don't like being called that!" Erika huffed pouting, looking away, and crossing her arms underneath her chest, causing Eric to laugh. Hearing the soldier laugh she turned to him and almost yelled "Its not funny!" this display bringing a smirk to Raven's face, which turned into laughter soon after.
The group decided to rest in the shadow of the wall for a while, waiting for Erika's and Eric's energy to come back and Raven's shoulder to feel better. Once these conditions were met, much to the use of the moon grass's ability to scab wounds over quicker and speed up the body's natural healing rate, the three stood and rounded the corner that the monsters from earlier and they came across a small courtyard with a statue of a sword in what looked vaguely like a shrine.
"What'd you think it is?" Erika asked once they had walked up to it, after making sure nothing could stab them in the back of course, as she circle the object.
"I don't know; I've been in this part of the fortress before, and I've never seen this before" Eric said rubbing his chin. "All well, only one way to find out eh?" he asked reaching for the sword.
"Wait we don't know what it-" Raven said trying to stop the soldier, but his words came only seconds to late; the man had grabbed the sword.
"Its just a sta-" Eric said shaking his head before disappearing in a strange green flash of light, causing Erika and Raven to look at each other before looking back at the statue.
"-tue" Eric finished before he realized that he was standing in the courtyard anymore. "Where the hell am I?" he wondered out loud, scratching his head and looking around.
Back with the other two, Raven was currently trying to stop Erika from touching the statue herself. "But if we don't then we might never see Eric again!" she argued as the knight in front of her held her back, her arms reaching around him in an attempt to touch the statue.
"We don't know what it does, other than make people disappear" Raven argued back glaring softly at the princess, "I cannot allow you to use something that you don't know what it does"
"But if I use it then I'll know what it does!" Erika shot back at him as she ducked under his arms and reached for the statue.
"Erika! Don-" Raven was cut off by the same flash of light that caused Eric to disappear. "Dammit! Why do you have to be so reckless!?" Raven growled before sighing "Her father will kill me if he finds out about any of this..." and with that he to grabbed the statue.
"There you are Raven" Raven blinked looking from Erika to his surroundings with an appropriate amount of confusion and suspicion.
"Where are we?" He asked not recognizing the surroundings as similar to the ones that they've been traveling through recently.
"We're in the main area of the fortress" Eric's voice sounded from behind Raven as the man turned to look at the soldier, who was looking around in wonder. "That statue brought us from the edge of the fortress to its very center"
"Wonderful. Now where do we go?" Raven asked seeing only one direction to go and turning to Eric to figure out where it leads.
"Well this one passage should lead to the barracks" Eric said, almost as if he had read Raven's mind. "If we're lucky there might be some people still alive there. If we're not..." he let the sentence hanging due to the lack of need to complete it.
"I hope that we're lucky" Erika sighed sadly turning and walking down the passage.
"So do I, milady. So do I" Raven agreed as he and Eric followed her.
Truth be told the passage did lead them to the barracks. And unfortunately for Erika they were not lucky. Not at all. The barracks were swarming with dreglings, and the only way to the rest of the fortress was 'through the barracks or through the walls' as Eric sadly put drawing his spear and shield, with Raven following suit and Erika taking her catalyst out once more. Nodding to each other Eric and Raven each raised a foot and slammed them into the door with enough force to break it from its only slightly rusted hinges, before walking into the first room and acting as a wall at the door, but still giving Erika room to fire her Soul Arrows.
With this method they made quick work of the first room and, after giving Erika enough time to get her energy back, they used it to clear the next few rooms until they came across the room with the blue-eyed knight.
To clear this room all they did was change the strategy slightly: Once the dreglings had been reduced to a more manageable amount Raven and Eric would run forward and deal with the knight while Erika picked off the rest of the dreglings. This first room was particularly helpful due to the fact that the knight was carrying fresh spices specifically bred to reinvigorate the body, almost a complete counter to the moon grasses which used your bodies energy to improve the rate at which it heals.
Deciding that it would be good to preserve the amount of spices that they had, Erika only ate one when the number of dreglings a room didn't seem to drop after she ran out of energy. For once they were lucky and this only happened once, in the last room they went through.
This room lead out into a hall way that lead to stairs to the left and another part of the castle to the right. "The gate looks closed to the right, but maybe that's because someone closed it to keep monsters out of the cleared part of the fortress?" Eric shrugged turning right and walking down to the gate, but not before noticing the late moon grass that the dead body had in its hand which, if the color was anything to go off of, was recently dead.
"Maybe he had the same idea?" Raven muttered constantly looking around for signs of danger. Even though he couldn't see any it is unseen danger that is the most dangerous.
"Hello?!" Erika called from in front of the gate causing Raven to flinch his thoughts along the lines of 'That probably alerted everything within earshot of where we are'. When no response came Erika tried again, this time even louder, "Hello?! Can anyone hear me?!"
Having waited several minutes and getting no response Eric said "If they're there then they probably didn't hear you"
"Or they think they're hallucinating because they've lost all hope" Raven suggested causing Erika to sigh.
"Do you ever have anything pleasant to say?" she asked turning her gaze on the knight.
"Only if nothing can go wrong. And something can always go wrong" Raven answered smirking under his helm.
"I can literally hear the smirk on your face Raven" Erika deadpanned before shaking her head and turning towards the stairs. "If no one's come by now, then they obviously didn't hear us" With that she began walking towards the stairs, with the two men behind her following as quickly as their armor would allow.
"What is that?" Eric asked staring at the white opaque substance that was blocking the doorway at the top of the stairs, which Eric had said was a meeting room.
"It looks like the fog" Erika said staring at the doorway blinking at the similarities between the to.
"No" Raven said as he began walking up the stairs. "It doesn't look like the colorless fog that separates Boletaria from the rest of the world. It is the colorless fog that separates Boletaria from the rest of the world" Looking at each other Erika and Eric jogged up the stairs to catch up to him, and did so halfway.
"Its... acting like a wall..." Eric muttered pushing his shoulder into the substance and getting the feeling that he'd have an easier time moving a wall.
"Not a wall... a gate" Raven said from the side of the doorway, "It doesn't look like it extends farther than the doorway. And since its in a doorway, you should be able to get through"
While the two of them were working on figuring out why the fog was blocking their way into the meeting room, Erika was peering through it at a gray blob that she saw on the other side of it. "What is that?" She muttered to herself putting her hands against the fog and pushing to try and get a closer look, when the fog gave way and she fell through with a quiet 'Eep!'
"Erika?" Raven asked hearing the sound and looking over to see her on the other side of the fog. "Erika!? Are you alright!?"
"Yeah, just a little shocked" Erika responded, the fog muffling her words. "I got through by pushing on it with my hands, just like how we got into Boletaria to begin with. You try!" Nodding Raven elbowed Eric to get his attention and walked through the fog, Eric not far behind once he figured out what they were doing.
"I don't think we can get back through" Raven said as he and Erika inspected the wall, while Eric just stared at the gray blob that Erika was looking at before.
"W-w-w-w-w-we'd b-b-better be able to..." Eric said quietly and shakily causing Erika to look at him.
"Why?" She asked, her brow furrowing at his scared expression.
"Because... that's the l-l-l-last of the V-v-v-vanguard..." he answered pointing a shaky finger at the three eyed, fat, ugly, small winged, massive axe wielding gray demon in front of them. That looked at them for the first time, as if mentioning it drew its attention.
"Eric... get ready to fight for your life" Raven said as the last of the Vanguard roared and began to lumber towards them from the other side of the circular meeting room. At the man's lack of answer or movement Raven turned to the man to see him shaking violently, crying again, and just staring at the beast walking towards them. "Get yourself together!" Raven yelled grabbing Eric by the shoulders, turning the soldier to face him, and shaking him "We have to fight it! If we don't we die!"
"But that... THING killed General Arthur!" Eric said glancing back at it every few seconds. "What chance do we have?!"
"It looks slow" Erika said watching it slowly traverse the distance, and it was slow; it had only crossed half the room so far. "Maybe it hasn't had any souls in a while so its weak?"
"If that's true then why not use this opportunity to avenge General Arthur?" Raven asked drawing Eric's attention. "If its slow, we'll be faster. If its weak, we'll be stronger! If we can avenge the death the General then why not take the chance?!" By now Eric had stopped crying and shaking and had turned his head to look at the last of the Vanguard.
Looking back at the knight Eric nodded with a serious look on his face "Alright. Let's kill this piece of shit!" With that he pulled out his spear and shield as, Erika pulled out her catalyst and her buckler, only to be stopped by Raven.
"Even if it is weakened, its still to big for us to block its attacks. The only hope we have is if it doesn't hit us, so put your shields away" Nodding Erika replaced her buckler on her back, switched her catalyst to her left hand and drew her rapier. Eric simply shrugged and put his shield back on his back. Following his own advice Raven drew his longsword and held it with two hands before saying "Erika stay here and hit it with spells, Eric and I will go to opposite sides and try to keep it away from you okay?"
Erika and Eric nodded as Erika began to mutter under her breath before whipping her arm holding the catalyst at the last of the Vanguard, the expected blue beam of a Soul Arrow launching itself from the tip of the catalyst and slamming into the last of the Vanguard's right shoulder, causing it to roar in pain.
Take this opportunity Eric and Raven ran to the left and right respectively, with Eric leaping to the ground and rolling to avoid the demon's axe. Once at it sides they began to stab the demon's side and legs backing up whenever its axe came near, while Erika kept firing her Soul Arrows. This kept up for about ten minutes, the last of the Vanguard slowly with every injury it sustained. It looked like they would kill it, until Eric's spear entered the fat on the demon's right leg and didn't come out.
Growling in frustration he gave one last pull, only for it to break where the spear head met the shaft. "Damn it!" Eric swore throwing the broken stick at the demon's head only for it to bounce off harmlessly, before a Soul Arrow smack it in the forehead where the stick had hit it causing the demon to roar again. Pulling out his broadsword Eric growled, dodging its axe once more, before charging and yelling "For General Arthur!" and leaping onto the demon, driving the broadsword into its upper gut, right under its left lung.
Roaring in pain it grabbed Eric before throwing him at the only remaining pillar in the room, his back breaking with a sickening 'snap!' "Eric! Damn it all!" Raven swore knowing full well that the man was dead.
"Eric!" Erika yelled running over to his dead body, despite Raven's calls to stay where she was. "Eric... are you okay?" she asked kneeling by the man's body.
"I don't... I don't think I'm gonna make it" Eric said much to Raven's shock, before he began to vomit blood. "Erika... I want... I want you to... p-promise me... promise me that you'll avenge the General and me" he begged slowly bringing his hand up to grasp the collar of Erika's shirt, while Raven distracted the last of the Vanguard by circling it and stabbing and slashing at its heels.
"I promise" Erika said tears flowing from her eyes as she watched Eric mouth 'Thank... you' before dieing, making him the first person that she's known to die.
"Erika! I need help!" Raven called snapping her out of her sorrow and causing her to turn to see the last of the Vanguard having backed Raven into a corner, its axe raised and ready to swing.
Yelling something unintelligible do to the last of the Vanguard's premature victory roar Erika fired off Soul Arrow after Soul Arrow, each slamming into the nape of its neck. Turning to Erika once the barrage stopped, its yellow eyes glowing red with anger, the last of the Vanguard charged with slow thundering steps that threatened to bring the ceiling down on top of all of them. Running after it Raven slashed at its ankles with his longsword, hoping to sever its Achilles tendon and bring it down. Unfortunately the fat and the movement of the leg worked against him, and all Raven's slash did was bring the demon's anger upon him instead of Erika.
Sweeping its axe at the knight, the sharp edge of the blade scrapping against the floor, the demon smacked Raven across the room, luckily for him he landed on the ground and slid to a halt instead of hitting the wall or remains of one of the pillars. Its attention now back on Erika Raven stood up shakily before yelling at the top of his lungs "Don't you dare touch her!" His yell caused the last of the Vanguard to turn and look in his direction, the look on its face almost as if it were tired of dealing with the man, before lumbering towards the injured knight has he held his longsword in front of him.
Taking a deep breath Raven broke into the fastest run his heavy, and heavily damaged, armor would let him and, once close, he leapt onto the demon much like Eric had earlier and slammed his longsword into its chest, just barely nicking the coronary artery. Roaring in pain the demon reached for the man hanging off of its chest, intending to do with him exactly what it had done with Eric. Realizing this Raven pulled out his mail breaker and, using the broadsword that Eric had put into it as a springboard, leapt up to the last of the Vanguard's face ramming the mail breaker into its third and topmost eye.
Roaring in pain, a third blind, and now flailing the demon somehow managed to get a hold of Raven and proceeded to smash him onto the ground until he lived no more, leaving Erika alone to fight the monstrosity in front of her, and it continued to hit Raven's body against the ground until the sheer amount of blood that the body had let out caused it to slip and go flying, hitting the wall with a bloody and stomach churning 'squelch'.
"R-r-raven?" Erika muttered falling to her knees as she watch the body of her overly cautious but kind bodyguard hit the wall and slid down, leaving a blood streak on the wall. "This... this can't be happening..." she muttered dropping her catalyst and grabbing her head. "This isn't how it was supposed to happen" she said, tears now flowing freely as the memory of how Raven had comforted her after her first official 'kill' came to mind against her will soon followed by her promise that Raven would never have to trust Eric with her life because he was going to be fine, something that had happened not two hours ago. "You're not supposed to die... you're not supposed to leave me alone..." She muttered as the demon lumbered over to her, obviously tired and hurt from the fight with the two men it had just killed. "Why?... Why did you have to go...?" she asked quietly as the last of the Vanguard stopped in front of her. She saw its shadow through her tear veiled eyes, and she looked up to see the demon almost grinning in satisfaction. It raised its axe and Erika muttered "I'm sorry" before the axe fell and everything went black. On that day. Erika di Angelo, princess of Boletaria's northern neighbor, Sir Raven Saberson, knight of said country and Erika's caution filled bodyguard, and Eric Bevinsson, soldier of Boletaria and last man alive from those stationed at Boletaria's most northern fortress, died at the hand of the last of the Old One's Vanguard and with them humanities last hope... or did it?