Raphael Sorel's seven years war

Adieu

Taki, Raphael and Dampierre were following the traces of the oni in the wood for a while. Suddenly they saw her. Kamikirimusi was sitting on a tree branch and was looking at them calmly.

-I was waiting for you.

She then gazed at Raphael and asked:

-Why are you with her?

-I am her ally.

-Why? Why are you on her side?

-Because I made a deal. I must help her seal you back.

-Have you ever been sealed away?

-…Luckily I have never experienced that.

Raphael was kind of annoyed at her questions. This monster seemed to be considering him one of them. Was it that obvious that he was also a monster? Well, his black blood stained his clothes… All over his pants and shirt… It was hard to hide it… Raphael felt there were two categories here: the humans and the monsters. And he belonged to the second category, even if he hated it. The oni continued:

-You're lucky indeed.

-…How is it? How does it feel?

Even if he was not too happy feeling like a monster, Raphael could not help but wonder how this punishment he feared since he met Taki was like.

-… Boring. Black. There is nothing. Your spirit stands there thinking but unable to do anything else. You don't feel your body. You don't know what is going on around you. You are just thoughts in emptiness.

She then added:

-Do you feel alone?

Raphael was caught offguard by the question. He didn't want to talk about his feelings in front of everyone, it was none of their business and anyway, talking about this would imply the fact that he missed Amy and he would not talk about her in front of Taki to whom he still wanted to keep her existence secret. He decided to send back the question at the oni girl. After all, she didn't care about his life; she asked this because she must want to express herself.

-Do you feel alone?

The oni girl looked sadly at him and said:

-Yes.

Even though he didn't care about the oni at all, Raphael looked at her with a fake compassionate expression. They had to get her to surrender after all.

-It must be hard.

Taki then told the oni girl:

-Kamikirimusi, it is time for you to go back to where you belong. Do not worry; like I told you, it is only for a while. We had agreed to this.

-I suppose I should surrender. But I still don't understand why do we have to follow your rules humans? Why can you decide if I should be punished or not? Why can't I just follow my rules? Or the oni rules?

-Well, you attacked humans. So humans can decide your punishment. Like I said you are not sealed forever. Only for a time since you only destroyed houses.

Kamikirimusi then addressed Raphael:

-Do you trust her?

Raphael was still surprised by the question. Why did she always asked him? He looked at Taki.

-Yes. She is trustworthy.

-Very well, then I shall surrender to your justice, human… said the oni as she looked at Taki.

-…but on one condition…

She addressed Raphael again.

-…If you think she is so reliable, then you wouldn't mind to swear that if she doesn't release me after the time she should, you will be sealed instead of me? You wouldn't mind undergoing a ritual to bind yourself for this? The ninja knows how to do it…

Raphael was shocked.

-What?

-You trust her no?

Raphael was not so sure now. It was embarrassing that when it concerned him, he didn't quite believe what he said.

But Taki then addressed the oni:

-Sorry but I cannot do what you ask. I promised him that if he helps me sealing you again, I would not pursue him anymore. I would leave him alone and never bother him again. I cannot do what you request and involve him into our deal since it would break my deal with him. Even if he won't be sealed since I swear on my honor that I will let you go, but having told him that I would never bother him again, I cannot involve him at all so I cannot bind him with a serment. Even if he would not be harmed and sealed.

Raphael was relieved. But he had the feeling he messed up everything with his lack of trust toward Taki. Yet he knew she was reliable, well mostly… why did he panicked when he was asked to trust her?

-I'm not certain I can trust you. Your ally doesn't even trust you. Said Kamikirimusi to Taki.

Raphael told her:

-Don't take my opinion into account: I do not trust anyone. But among the people I know, she is one of those I trust the most.

The oni jumped from her branch.

-Too late! It won't work now! I don't trust you either! You lied! If you want me, come and get me! Get ready!

Raphael got angry. Maybe at himself because he messed up, but also toward the oni girl because she embarrassed him by considering him a monster like her. He directed all his anger and his frustrations toward her.

-Humpf! If you don't trust me or her, I don't care! I'm here to beat you and I shall do it!

-I'll crush you!

Raphael unsheathed his rapier.

-You will have no chance to strike!

Dampierre tried to interrupt the fight.

-Oh, Come now! Take it easy!

The oni answered him:

-Hesitation will lead to defeat! I will not hesitate to kill you too! So stop talking and fight!

Taki then told her:

-We made a deal! It's you who will not be trustworthy if you don't respect it!

-Well then, I want to see if you are worthy of keeping me sealed. Prepare yourself! I will not hold anything back! Bring it on!

Kamikirimusi swung her big spiked club around and continued toward Raphael who made handmills with his rapier while walking toward her before he swiftly thrust it at her.

While the two others fought, Dampierre asked Taki:

-Hum… must we all fight against her or is it just you since she wants to see if you are worthy or is it between her and Raphael since they don't seem to like each other very much?

Taki sighed.

-Well, she broke her part of the deal when she escaped and don't want to come back, it's her oni instincts that make her act this violently…, so we don't really have to fight fair… I think we all can go but if you don't wish to, you don't have to do so… It is my duty…

And she went toward the fight.

-I suppose I should too… or else she may not give me the ingredient…

Dampierre went toward the fight but just to look like he was participating: he really didn't do anything. Anyway, Raphael and Taki were already enough to take care of the oni girl even if they both where wounded from their previous fights and weakened by this. Kamikirimusi swung her kanabo wildly at her adversaries hitting them some times while she also got wounded from some of their attacks. But after a while of fierce fighting, Kamikirimusi threw her kanabo away even if she wasn't losing.

-Alright. You win. I surrender. But will you still keep your promise?

Raphael and Taki stopped fighting and Taki answered:

-Well, you broke your part since you refused to surrender at first, but then you did surrender. So yes, I shall also keep my promise. I will free you in five years like I told you, I swear on my honor.

-Okay. I will trust you. Now seal me. I am ready.

-Very well.

Taki sealed the oni away.

After she had finished, Dampierre went toward her.

-So, you do know about my poor daughter?

-Yes. But, what will you do with the spirit?

-Well, I am not the one who will do the cure but…

Dampierre began explaining the few he knew to Taki as Raphael stayed a little further away. Raphael wondered why he had such a bad temper in this fight and wondered if Taki would keep her word now. He also wondered why he didn't trust her when the oni asked him. The oni seemed to have finally trusted Taki while he could not completely. But he knew the answer was simple: because aside from Amy, he trusted no one. Not one of those here had deserved his trust. He had some consideration for the two humans but he trusted none of them. Yet when Taki called him by his name, he really felt he had succeeded in winning her respect and to be considered as a person and not a monster, but when they met the oni, he felt so… apart from the two others.

As he thought about that, he looked at how the negociations between Dampierre and Taki were going. Dampierre seemed to gesticulate a lot while explaining his sad story to Taki who kept her arms crossed and listened to him with a somewhat strict expression then after a while, her expression softened and she began to look uncertain. Dampierre was still gesticulating and now seemed to cry. Some time later, Taki took one of her parchments and looked at it hesitantly. She then handed it to Dampierre while seeming to give him endless recommendations and warnings with her finger. Dampierre then gallantly saluted her by taking his top hat and Raphael outlined a smile; it seems the little girl will be cured soon.

Taki then came toward Raphael.

-Thank you for your help. I appreciated your collaboration Raphael.

-Merci, Taki. …If I may ask, which demon was the Wandering Grudge?

-It was the second demon we beat. You know the gorilla looking one. In fact, it's a shape changer but this time he looked like a gorilla.

-You do know a lot of things about paranormal.

-I was raised for that. It's normal.

-I am sorry that I could not trust you entirely.

-If you do not trust me, why did you made this deal with me? Won't you fear I will not keep my word?

-Non. You will. But… this time… I… don't know why I acted this way.

-Well, fear not. I am bind by my word. I shall not hunt you down anymore. But if you keep persisting in your evil ways, others will come to destroy you. Yet you seem to have a desire to act well. You changed since the first time I met you. I am glad you willingly handed the shard to me, I took a chance by asking you, I was in no position to argue but still you handed it to me. It shows that you are not a truly evil man. When the demons beat me and threw me in the burning barn, you could also have come and finish me off or simply leave me to die…

-And I also didn't take your Soul Edge weapon while I could have… proudly boasted Raphael.

-Indeed. You make efforts. I appreciate it. Just keep fighting the best you can the influence Soul Edge has on you. It will be a fight of every instant but I wish you luck in it. Farewell.

Taki then slightly bowed to him and Raphael graciously saluted her before he told her:

-I never thought we would part this way.

Taki smiled then jumped on a big tree branch before she jumped on another then swiftly disappeared from sight. Raphael kept looking at where she went.

-Adieu Taki…

He then turned around.

-Strange but I will miss her… Well, I am glad she is gone… Now Amy and me won't be bothered by her any longer…

But somehow he felt sad.

Dampierre came to him.

-So she was hunting you? That is why you seemed so certain to find her! But why was she pursuing you? Ok! sorry! Not my business! We all have our secrets… But then why did you stay to help her if you knew she wanted to destroy you? Why didn't you side against her? …Was it to get the spirit for my daughter? To save the villagers?

Raphael indeed wondered all along why he did this instead of plainly kill Taki. He then thought maybe he did this to remain human.

Dampierre continued talking:

-And… euh… there is also something else I wonder about…

Dampierre seemed a little embarrassed as he asked Raphael:

-…your black blood… It has something to do with Soul Edge?

Raphael looked at him and coldly answered quite on the defensive;

-Why do you want to know?

-I thought about something… I don't know much about Soul Edge myself but I know a woman who knows a lot of things about magic… She is an alchemist who lives in England… She may know something about the swords you are looking for… If it can help you with what you need… Her name is Isabella Valentine, she is a countess. I know you don't like aristocrats very much but she could be useful…

Dampierre thought he could tell Raphael about the alchemist princess Hilde came to see for her father's illness. He didn't know her personally, it was the princess who made the deals with her but he knew some fact about her and even if Dampierre didn't know exactly the nature and symptoms of the king's illness, he knew the fact that Hilde's father was sick because of Soul Edge, so it may hint that this woman could know something about it. Maybe not, but it was the only thing Dampierre thought about to thank back Raphael.

-You think she would know about those swords?

-Well, she already has a magic sword of her own…

-She does?

-Well, it is rumoured, yes. Not one of the swords you are searching for, but I suppose she may know about Soul Edge or Soul Calibur too…

-Well, monsieur Dampierre, you really help me! Merci! I think your information shall be really useful!

-You know for the black blood if anyone ask just say its ink. You dropped ink on your shirt and your pants.

-Yes, and for the scar and the ripped clothes, I scratched myself with the quill while writing?

-Non. But if the clothes are not ripped, the blood stain could be ink.

-En effet. Bonne idée. Except that I will look truly clumsy with all this ink on me… I should change now… I don't have any spare clothes… At least my vest and my cape are not too bad… but my shirt is completely stained… my pants too…

-I could lend you some of my clothes. Let's head back to the inn! I'm exhausted! The only thing I want to do now is lie in my bed and snore!

Raphael was horrified at the idea of looking like a clown with Dampierre's clothes. He looked at Dampierre a little embarrassed; he also knew that even if he try to fight it, he will need blood soon and travelling many hours alone with Dampierre might prove deadly for the funny moustache man. He didn't want to wear his clothes and even less attack him.

-Well… hum… Forgive me for sounding rude, monsieur Dampierre… but I do not want to go back to the inn. I must leave you now, I wish to go see this alchemist as soon as I can. I shall find some clothes somewhere…

-Oh… Well… It will be even harder to go back alone… I'll fall asleep on the way back… I hoped we could still talk together… But I understand. Very well. I'll try to ask for hospitality for tonight among the villagers here… I could also ask for clothes for you, if you wish… I don't have to worry about waking them no more… I'll go take my stuff at the inn tomorrow and be on my way with the ingredient for my daughter.

-Well… I would just need a new shirt and pants, if you could. I will keep my vest and cape. I shall stay here. Thank you.

-All right. I'll be back.

And Dampierre went toward the village. He thought that even if he was responsible for the breaking of the seals, the villagers didn't know it and they only saw him fight the demons… So he could thrive on this and look like a hero… Beside if Raphael had to go now that meant he would not insist to see his daughter… that was a relief.

Meanwhile Raphael hoped Dampierre would not bring him some ridiculous clothes but he was relieved when Dampierre came back with a plain white shirt and black pants. Peasant's stuff but he would buy something more fitting in the next city. What mattered now was to hide his blood stains.

-Merci, monsieur Dampierre.

-Merci aussi Raphael, for your help. I also learned the nearest port town is a little west from here. But about seven hours of walk…

-Very well, I am not afraid to walk. Well, adieu monsieur Dampierre, take care. Take care of your daughter too. I am sorry again if I could not accompany you to the inn but I have a really good reason for this.

-Yes, I understand. But now that you are presentable, are you sure you don't want to come rest to the village for a while?

-I do not have anything to do there.

-Okay, well, say hi to your daughter for Le Bello! Take care too!

And Dampierre went toward the village again hoping to receive the congratulations and the praises for the slaying of the demons while Raphael went to the nearest port town to get a boat to England. There he bought new stylish clothes to replace the peasant ones he had. He also bought a bowl, a funnel and a bottle.

Since he was still afraid to lose control on the boat and murder everyone during the trip, he had to drink blood before he would go and to take some in reserve for the journey. His blood loss from the fights also increased this need. So before he went to the port, he caught a victim and tried not to kill her; he tried to take her blood like he did for Amy's reserve; something he haven't bothered with before in his travels. He cut the victim's wrist and let the blood flow into the bowl then he put bandages on the wound to stop the bleeding. He really wanted to get out of this curse. Not as Taki thought, to be good but to know that he was still able to control himself, that he would not become a beastly monster.

He decanted the blood into the bottle and closed it. He then drank the remaining blood in the bowl to appease his present thirst. But when he drank the blood from the bowl, his vampire nature took over again and he wondered why he tried to make those futile efforts; blood tasted so good… it was ridiculous to try to control himself. He would always stay like this; humans were merely preys; who cares about them? They would burn him if they caught him anyway. Why try to do efforts for them? He grabbed his unconscious victim lying down beside him, bit her neck and drained her of her blood completely. It took him a while to begin to think right again and realise that he had failed to remain master of his acts even without the shard.

He sadly sighed and hoped Taki wouldn't know. She swore she would let him alone but she also congratulated him and he would be embarrassed to prove her wrong. And so soon. Raphael already was ashamed of himself he didn't want anybody else to know it. He then bought his way on a boat going to England.

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