The count meets the countess
Once in London, Raphael asked directions to Valentine's manor and went to see the alchemist Dampierre recommended him. Once he arrived, he was surprised at what he saw: The land around the manor did not seem too well maintained. The grass had not been taken care of since a while and was very long with weeds and dandelions among it, fallen tree branches were scattered along the land, not even being picked up as they fell from the trees… Even the paved road to the manor had grass growing between it… The place looked almost abandoned. Yet the people he asked about the countess really told him it was here…
Raphael walked toward the manor and knocked on the door while staring at the many cobwebs on the side of the door. He really wondered what had happened here.
Since it has been a while he didn't socialize with aristocrats, he didn't want to give a bad impression: He especially groomed his appearance and bought new accessories like boots, frill and gloves in London's finest shops to look presentable to the countess, he also bought some expensive Eau de toilette, even selling the horse he just stole for it, and it was her manor that looked neglected.
He thought: There must be an error; it must not be here… This place has the appearance of a haunted house…
But he waited for some time until someone opened the door.
A lady with white hair but not that old looking, probably about his own age, answered him; she was a very beautiful woman. She wore a very lovely dress and did not seem to be a servant. Raphael was surprised that she answered instead of a servant doing it. She asked him what he wanted.
Raphael presented himself as the Comte de Sorel, the title he would have rightfully held if he haven't been chased away. After all, he still proudly wore his family's arms on his precious cape, even if he had been cast out, He was proud of his family, but not of his relatives. He was still a Sorel and nobody could take that away from him, he would bear the name until his death. But he pretended to be Claude, in case the countess had heard about his disgrace even if he didn't like impersonating his contemptible brother.
-And what gives me the honour of your visit, my dear count? Asked the lady. But please, come in.
Raphael followed the lady inside. He quickly gazed at the room: it had expensive rose marble floors and many columns sculpted in a classical style. Drapery and paintings were all along the walls. The stairs going up to the balcony were large and had beautiful carved railguards. The place seemed very sophisticated from the inside with only some cobwebs still hanging on top of the columns and the ceiling, out of reach of someone with a normal broom. Once inside, the lady turned back at him and presented herself as Countess Valentine while doing a gracious curtsy.
As Raphael gracefully bowed to kiss the countess' hand, he sensed Soul Edge aura in her and knew he would find something here. A smile of satisfaction outlined on his face. But if he could sense her, she may be able to sense him too… Yet if she was infected by Soul Edge too, she must understand his condition and she may be an ally… but maybe not…
The countess then invited him to her salon and Raphael followed her in the great stairway to the second floor. While walking, he still gazed at the place. He noticed some portraits on the wall were the countess seemed to be in her teen with a man and a woman by her side, probably her parents, and it seems she already had white hair.
Once in the salon, the countess presented him an armchair.
-Forgive my disorder, lately, I had some problems… I now have only one servant remaining to do everything and she is old, she cannot do it all by herself… Please, have a chair… Would you care for a cup of tea, my dear count?
-I would be delighted, madame.
The countess rang a bell and turned toward Raphael with a smile.
-Call me Ivy.
-It is a little familiar, madame, I would not feel at ease…
-If I call you Claude, would you feel more at ease?
I would hate that, thought Raphael, but he simply answered:
-Madame… it is just… that I do not call a lady by her nickname…
While he was mumbling his reply, Raphael thought: I should not act so stuck up, I may lose her possible support. It has been so long that I haven't had to play those stupid games; I did not remember that I must adapt myself to the wish and mood of the person I try to win, those are more important than etiquette. And seeing her house, etiquette may not be that important… He gave her a charming smile.
-But if you insist… Ivy…
-Well, seeing how you seemed bothered by that, I shall allow you to call me Isabella if you prefer…or madam, milady or countess if you really can't be more familiar, whichever you like…
-Well, I would like to do what pleases you, Ivy. I do not mind, I just did not want to show you disrespect.
Seeing the conversation was getting nowhere with the stupid name thing, Raphael tried to change the subject. He pointed a painting hanging on the wall above the couch.
-So, this is your portrait? Very resembling! My daughter paints portraits, she is very talented!
Ivy stared at him with a surprised look.
-You already have a daughter? But you just got married!
Raphael froze then blushed. He forgot he was supposed to be his brother.
-… Well… my… illegitimate daughter… I had ten years ago… I keep her with me at the manor… It has always been a secret…
Raphael kept blushing: The rumours he would now create on his brother's reputation… He will probably laugh about it later but for now, this whole daughter thing was mostly embarrassing. The countess seemed amused by the turn of event. Such a little scandal…
-Oh, really? And what does Madame de Sorel says about her?
-Well, she… she can't really say much since I wasn't married with her at the time…
-But does she appreciate her?
Raphael couldn't stop blushing; he had committed such an error by mentioning Amy! He only seemed to say one stupid thing after another. Well, he may look like Claude even more like this but it was truly embarrassing. How he missed being in the tranquility of his castle… No need to socialize… His blushing could very well explain itself by the fact that he was talking about an illegitimate daughter he was hiding but he tried anyway to look casual while he answered.
-Yes. She does. Very much. She considers her like her own daughter.
-That is sweet. What is the name of your daughter?
This time, Raphael decided he would not speak about Amy. He invented a name.
-A beautiful name. Who was her mother?
Raphael began to get really annoyed.
-Madame, please! You are getting into the intimate details of my life! I cannot reveal!
Isabella made a small amused smile then asked, slightly changing the subject:
-I'm sorry. And are your daughter and Madame de Sorel doing well? I heard your mother was ill… How is she now?
Raphael was really annoyed, he thought: Why do you know all these things about my family? You know them better than me! Stupid aristocratic gossips where everyone knows everything about anyone! Even from one kingdom to another!
Rouen was a port town with much contact and trade with England, since it was one of France's nearest cities to the British kingdom. In time of peace or war, the trade was always going on and travellers were going from one kingdom to the other almost freely and so were the rumours.
-Yes, they are fine. Mother is… recovering.
Raphael wondered how his mother really was. From what could she be recovering? Was she that ill so that the rumours spread? She must not just have some cold. But of course, he could not ask Isabella about it since he was supposed to live with his mother; he was supposed to be the one who knew. Unwillingly, he felt some worry for his mother but he was still angry at her for letting him down in front of his father seven years ago so he would not go see her. She never gave back the devotion and loyalty he had for her in his younger years. She never even lifted a finger for him when he clashed with his father for her; she always took her husband's defence. What was the use of fighting for her then? That was when Raphael stopped caring about her and began to distance himself completely from his family to isolate himself with his books. He really didn't feel his mother loved him or cared for him at all, the worst time really being when his father pointed his pistol at him and she didn't even seem to care. He had made a last attempt to get his mother's help and she denied it again. It was the last time and probably the most painful one where he had hoped for her support. He didn't know what hurt more that day: his father's pistol shot or his mother's icy stare. She could die now for all he cared! Anyway, he could not go visit, he was a wanted criminal there and he had other things to do, like taking care of someone who truly deserved it: His real daughter, Amy, not some imaginary Constance. Amy was always there for him. She never asked for anything in return, so he wanted to give her everything. He now missed her so much…
Suddenly an old maid came bringing the tray with the tea on it and some cakes.
-The tea is served, milady…
-Thank you, Beth, said Ivy on a kind tone.
The maid bowed and left the room. Beth has been there since many years, even before Ivy was born. When Ivy's father got ruined, died in madness, his wife following him in death soon after, all the servants left but Beth stayed faithfully in the house. Anyway, she was also already very old, partially blind and deaf and would have had nowhere to go but the streets. Ivy kept her and asked her only to cook, sweep and dust the more apparent furniture in exchange of living in the house, being fed and dressed. The old maid didn't dust the furniture very well with her blindness but Ivy didn't mind since she remained mostly in her lab and when she had to meet people, she met them outside. If people coming here were not happy, they just had to leave.
Ivy and Raphael sat and talked for a while of anything like in all aristocratic salons while sipping their tea. Raphael began to get reaccustomed to the way he must act in those situations and was now more at ease to converse with the countess. Ivy served Raphael another cup of tea and he felt confident enough to go about the Soul Edge/Soul Calibur topic which he was itching to do from the start. He took a sip of his tea and went into the subject.
-Your reputation as an alchemist has spread very far. Throughout France and beyond, we talk about your skills and your knowledge. Some call you the new Nicolas Flamel or another Paracelsus.
-It is very flattering… I do much research indeed in my laboratory. In fact, I spend almost all my time into the basement.
-Have you worked on le Grand oeuvre? Some say if you would, you surely could discover the secret to change lead to gold…
-Hum… No… As you probably can see, I do not have infinite gold… Anyway, I have other things to take care of… more important things…
-Like swords? Asked Raphael a little too eagerly.
Ivy looked at him but did not seem surprised.
-You are getting somewhere. Tell me what you want.
-Do you know about Soul Calibur or Soul Edge?
-Why would you want to know about that? My dear Claude, I do not think you should get involved with those kinds of things: Theses swords are dangerous. It is true that I know them and mostly Soul Edge, both are powerful swords, Soul Calibur being even more powerful than Soul Edge since it was made to counter its powers… But I also know the dangers…
The countess continued talking about Soul Edge but Raphael couldn't follow anymore; he suddenly felt dizzy; his vision began to blur and he had difficulties moving, his limbs became completely numb. Ivy didn't seem to be bothered by the fact her guest seemed not feeling well and continued explaining to him her goal for Soul Edge.
-…So that is why Soul Edge must be eliminated from the face of the earth. All of Soul Edge; the sword, its fragments, anything or… anybody…
Isabella seemed to insist on that last word.
-…contaminated by this evil… Only then shall the world be free from this malevolence.
She got up from her chair and crossed the salon, walking toward Raphael. Now too numb to hold it, Raphael dropped his cup of tea that fell and broke on the floor sending pretty English porcelain everywhere in the room as he tried to lean on the armchair. He felt really stupid, he knew he had been poisoned. Damn! How could he have fell for this? He knew about those methods aristocrats often use, he also used it to get his mansion in Toulouse, the 'friend' having threatened to denounce him to the authorities with blackmail, Raphael had to end the negotiation he was trying to do with him and get rid of this danger, but he didn't think he'd fall himself so stupidly for it one day! And moreover, this woman was an alchemist and she was connected with Soul Edge! He should have been more careful!
Isabella then stopped in front of Raphael. She bent over to him, grabbed his chin, lifted his head toward her face and told him from a very close range in the most serious tone:
-You do understand that I shall make no exception; not for you, not even for me. I shall also kill myself once every other bit of this evil is rid from this world. You, me, everyone infected by this evil…
Raphael thought: Meaning Amy too… She may knows of her existence… Why do I always speak about Amy? This woman is crazy… She is a danger to my daughter…
He tried to get up to fight her and through his strong will, he succeeded in getting up, but just to fall flat on his face. He was still conscious but his body would not respond anymore.
Even if he was completely immobilized, lying still on the salon's floor, Isabella continued to speak to him, letting him face down on the carpet:
-I promise you won't suffer… much. The poison is not too slow, your suffering will be over in a moment. Curse me all you like, I do not expect forgiveness! Curse your fate for running into me.
Raphael had the feeling he would have died faster if it was not for his new slower vital system. The poison was now only slowly penetrating his system. He thought maybe if he changed to mist, he would be able to expel the rest of it that didn't already mix with his system because the poison that didn't already enter his vital system may not become part of him and may not stay with him as mist. It was just a guess, but it was the only thing he could think of. So he concentrated and began to evaporate into a red and black mist before Ivy's surprised stare.
When he came back into human form, Raphael could sense he was less weak, his vision had also returned to normal. As he guessed, he felt better coming back to solid again; he even expelled some poison that began to have effect on him. Maybe what became mist was what he chose too (since even his clothes became mist) and since he didn't want that poison in his body, much of it had left it but since his mind could not truly believe he could get rid of it totally, some remained. Whatever the reason, he weakly rose on his four limbs and smiled in a taunting way, slightly showing his fangs at the countess as she looked at him with surprise and anger before he changed again to mist. Since he couldn't stay for long in this form, he returned to solid on the roof in front of the window. He retreated and ran as quickly as his weakened state allowed him on the other side of the roof when he heard Ivy cursing while approaching the dormer window he went out from. But Raphael was still dizzy and weak; he needed to get an antidote for the poison. He had to find the countess' laboratory. She told him during the conversation that it was in the basement so he turned to mist again, appeared before a basement window protected by iron bars, keeping any thief from coming, and entered there.
At first, he was in a big cellar where the countess kept her wines and such. But there was a door at the end of the room and Raphael walked to it. It wasn't locked so he entered. It seemed to be Isabella Valentine's laboratory and library. He locked the door from inside and went to the tables. Since he knew the symptoms he felt, he had some kind of idea which kind of poison it was and since he knew about that too, he began to work on the antidote.
As he was preparing his potion in Ivy's laboratory, he heard footsteps coming quickly toward the laboratory. Raphael eagerly waited for the antidote to boil as the doorknob was being violently turned in vain. Raphael then heard Ivy kicking on the door while angrily swearing. He looked at the potion and after a while, it had boiled enough. He now had to wait for it to cool down a bit before he could drink it. The door suddenly slammed open and Isabella Valentine stood in front of the door, having finally succeeded in brutally kicking her way in. She was not wearing the elegant and lovely dress that she had before but she was only wearing some sort of very revealing underwear, extremely revealing in fact. Raphael wondered why did she walked around dressed or rather undressed like that. It must be for fighting purposes but it may be showing a little too much skin… She had a very troubling body which made Raphael blush at her sight and he put his hand in front of his eyes in prudishness before he glanced again at her because he had too; she was also holding some kind of bladed whip and seemed very irritated. A fight would certainly arise.
-Madame! Please! Put something on! You are an offending sight to decency! I can't bear to look at you!
But Ivy began to move toward him and unleashed her whip at him.
-No one, no one can escape from me! This place, shall be your grave! Sing, my sword! shouted Ivy as she whipped her weapon at Raphael.
-Well then, let us dance! answered Raphael as he unsheathed his rapier and deflected the strike. He then quickly turned toward the table and took the phial of antidote he made and drank it even if it was still hot in his throat. His remaining poison symptoms almost instantly began to fade. He turned again to Ivy and smirked. Ivy seemed very upset and unleashed another attack at him which Raphael evaded before he launched at her.
But as they fought, Raphael tried to convince her to stop fighting. He still needed her knowledge.
-But madame, we are both tainted by this sword, why don't we get along?
-Why would we get along because we are monsters? My own cursed father is the being I hate and despise most in the world! This monster is responsible for my tainted birth! He fathered me just so I could become Soul Edge's next host! He abused my mother and willingly made me into a monster! We may be both monsters from the same blood but my father is a despicable fiend and the man I hate most!
Raphael was horrified.
-The earl did… such a thing?
-No. Not the earl. He and his wife where my adoptive parents. Replied Ivy. The earl was the one I loved as a father. But as much as I hate it, Cervantes de Leon is my real biological father.
Raphael was confused. He knew only one Cervantes de Leon…
-Cervantes de Leon… the Immortal pirate?
-Yes! This monster!
Raphael stepped back in surprise.
-Oh! So Cervantes the… is in fact your father? Poor you… And I hated my father… Yours is so much worst!
Raphael tried to win her again.
-Maybe you would be happy to know then, that I beat your father some months ago and sent his ghost ship back into the depths of the sea…
-You may have beaten him but not killed him. He is called the Immortal pirate for a reason, my dear… But… did you made him suffer? Asked Ivy with an eager gaze.
-I hope so. He must have suffered in his self esteem at least… I did infuriate him quite some times…
Raphael boastfully added while thinking of his fight:
-Yes… I think I can say I did not spare him… He suffered…
Ivy smiled in satisfaction.
-Thank you… An enemy of my father is a friend of mine… But I must still destroy you. Sorry.
-Why can't we get along? Desperately asked Raphael.
-Nothing good will ever come from this sword, we are monsters. As I can see, you are now a vampire, so you kill people and drink their blood without being able to refrain from doing so. You can even spread this evil disease. You saw what my father was, he kills and damns others. I, too… did… things… Too many sins have been committed by all of us. We must not exist anymore! We do not belong in this world!
She sorrowfully added:
-We only do evil, I don't want that…
-I do not wish to kill people either, we both agree on that. Yes, I have too but what if we created a new world? Where we may change our condition?
-With Soul Calibur! Like you said, the sword is more powerful than Soul Edge, so it can undo everything Soul Edge did! And both swords together, don't they grant wishes? They could give us power to change things and even to change the world!
-Huh? Isabella then muttered:
-What an imbecile…
She was stunned at Raphael's proposition. He seemed so naïve. She then answered back:
-Humpf! Soul Edge never will grant wishes… Nothing will change our condition. For a time, I thought I could change my own destiny. Ha! How foolish of me! But now I know this is impossible… No longer will I fear anything. I am ready to end my cursed life as I now know I can never go back to my old life. And you can't either. So, my dear count, do you have any last words?
-If you're so eager to die then so be it. coldly snapped Raphael, bitter over his failure to convince her.
He didn't try to reason with her anymore. He would find about Soul Calibur alone. He launched himself toward her and slashed her on the right arm, creating a deep big gash alongside her arm. Ivy winced and backed away while blood poured abundantly from her wound.
A strong and sudden lust for her blood suddenly seized Raphael. He stopped attacking and looked at her bleeding wound with a crazy and obsessive gaze. Soul Edge blood… It seemed so tasty… He had to drink it…! He must drink it!
Raphael was staring wide-eyed at the blood, suddenly thrown in a blood frenzy by it. He began to move toward it, impervious to anything else. The sound of Ivy speaking slowly brought Raphael back to his senses:
-See? You want to drink my blood, Soul Edge aura is attracting you; Evil has infected your soul, you're becoming more and more possessed by the evil sword… You won't be able to get out of its grasp since you have become its slave… The only way for you to do it, is to die.
Raphael shook his head to shake off the powerful bloodlust still invading him. He asked Ivy:
-… So you are saying that the only choices I have are to kill myself or…
-There is no or. If you live, you will forever remain a slave to this bloodlust, you will remain a slave to Soul Edge.
Realizing the truth of Isabella's words, Raphael felt a wave of despair come over him. All those times he killed because he had this urge for blood! The fascination and obsession Soul Edge seemed to have taken over him since he became vampire…! He fought against it sometimes but how many times did he succumb to it? What he did when he had the shards… When they controlled him… Even without the shards, he killed… He truly felt he had not always entire control on his mind and became a beast each time he lacked blood… He felt the situation only worsened as time goes by, he also became more insensitive than he already was. He knew he changed and it scared him. How will he be in one year? Five years? Ten years? If he was to become a mad beast, he might as well kill himself today. He backed away and looked at Ivy with a desperate look as she looked back at him with a sorrowful one.
He then thought about Amy, he would not leave her in this horrible state! He had to do something!
-Non… I will get out of this! Soul Calibur will help me!
-To rely on the power of a sword is futile, my dear… You must accept what you are and… the consequences.
-Non! Never! As long as I live I will fight!
He then threw himself at Isabella and slashed at her while trying not to think about the blood.
-Sorry madame, but as you said earlier, to achieve my goal, I shall make no exception: If you try to oppose me, I shall kill you!
He mercilessly attacked the alchemist and Ivy had difficulties countering his swift attacks. She backed away, trying to find an opening but Raphael was too fast to leave one.
-You're revolting! You're far too pessimistic! I can control myself! I am not some crazy monster!
Raphael angrily slashed and thrust at her without rest.
-Are you trying to convince me? …Or yourself? Asked Ivy while parrying his angry strikes. She then slashed his left arm.
-You know the truth! Accept it! We must die! We must die for the rest of the world to live!
-What do I care of the rest of the world?
Raphael was only thinking about Amy.
-You don't care! Soul Edge is speaking through you… Its influence is strong on you! Die!
Ivy suddenly thrust her sword into Raphael's rib. Raphael fell down and quickly rolled under the table to evade her next strike. He then got up on the other side and jumped on the table before he kicked Ivy in the face. She fell down. He jumped beside her and impaled her in the stomach. Ivy gasped and after some time of moaning, she fainted.
Raphael then tried to brush away all the things she told him and quickly left her side so that her flowing blood may not attract him anymore. He retreated near the library and began to search in it for something about Soul Calibur. He was amazed at the quality of her library: Compared to Ivy's collection, his own books about mystery and magic seemed to be completely amateur books. Her collection seemed to have so many original and important grimoires about magic and occult subjects… The Sworn Book of Honorius, three of the four books of the Picatrix… Johannes Hartlieb's book on all forbidden arts, superstition and sorcery, and many more… All books Raphael had heard about but never seen before. Raphael stared at the books in a way almost as excited as when he saw Ivy's blood. He was like a child in front of a candy shop.
-This is amazing! Your library is extraordinary! C'est merveilleux! Fantastique! Incroyable!
While Raphael was busy looking at Isabella's books, something wrapped around his legs and made him fall. He looked and saw that the countess' swordwhip was moving alone and entwining with him as it was sliding along his legs. Before he had time to do anything, the sword had completely ensnared him. He suddenly heard someone laughing. Ivy had regained consciousness and was looking at him.
-Hahahahahahaha! This sword, is my treasure! She stated proudly before adding:
-Now, my dear Valentine, strangle!
The sword began to tighten its grip on Raphael but the vampire turned into mist again and reappeared beside the deadly weapon.
-You seem to forget, très chère comtesse, that I was tainted by Soul Edge, so I have powers…
Raphael declared that with a bit of arrogance in his tone. Isabella's expression became darker.
-See? You like being a monster! You enjoy your powers! It's over for you! It's time to die!
She rose to her feet and her sword came flying back in her hand. Raphael unsheathed his rapier and walked toward her.
-I only have to take what serves me in certain circumstances and leave aside the rest! If those powers should help me to achieve my goal, then I shall gladly use them, ma chère! Now, would you like a taste of my powers?
Raphael was holding Ivy's furious gaze with a cheeky smile. Ivy angrily replied:
-This is the end!
They violently clashed at each other. The battle was very violent and they began to destroy Ivy's laboratory, hitting the table and making the phials, test-tubes and other laboratory accessories fall and shatter on the ground.
In the end, Raphael stood victorious and looked at Ivy who was now unconscious. He thought: You're a danger to Amy, I cannot let you live…
He looked at her cursed blood again with envy.
Even if her lack of clothes troubled him, he leaned over her while thinking about what she said. 'Soul Edge aura is attracting you…'
-Yes, it does attract me… Your blood is special… I cannot leave it here… I shall take some… just some of it. Just for its properties. It must have some… but I will not drink it all… I shall refrain myself after a while… just some won't hurt… I need it for now… but one day, I shall be free from this thirst… Soul Calibur will help me. I shall keep my powers but have total control over myself. And for now, ma chère comtesse, I shall use every means to achieve my goal and drinking your blood is probably a good way to get power…
He bit her on the neck and began to drink with delight.
-Mmm… Soul Edge… Sweet nectar…
While drinking, he thought again at Ivy's words: 'Soul Edge aura is attracting you… you're becoming more and more possessed by the evil sword…' Raphael suddenly stopped drinking and lifted his head. He was somehow confused, not to mention her revealing body was also very troublesome and Raphael blushed again at the closeness of their bodies. He felt extremely awkward.
-This woman is really… attractive. In many ways… This is so embarrassing… Why is she so… uncovered? But… I shall just drink some more blood…
He pushed aside his prudisness and leaned again on Ivy's neck to drink her blood. After a short while, he stopped and wiped the blood from his mouth.
-Now I'm done! I won't drink anymore!
But then he thought: Why should I stop now, when I drained so many people completely of their blood? Why should I stop for her now? Because she said so, she defied me, saying that I could not stop? Because she's naked? I do this to achieve my goals, not to obey Soul Edge's dark nature!
He looked again at her neck with the blood still flowing from it and the urge to drink again was really hard to resist. He thought: It's Soul Edge blood! A rarety! I should take it all! … But… if I do resist to this attracting blood, I should be able to resist anything! It is a test! I must prove my will, that I have not become a beast entirely! I am not possessed by the sword! She is wrong! Anyway, I do not even know what this blood could give me… Is it like a shard? I do feel stronger…
He got up on his feet.
-… But no one will control me!
Isabella's blood made him feel stronger but his victory over his thirst made him feel even better. Then feeling great, he turned his attention toward the library. He began to scour again among Ivy's books.
-Humm… Soul Calibur… Now, what do you have about it, très chère Isabella… You do have a very interesting collection of occult books…
Raphael looked for a while, picked some books to take with him then suddenly found something.
-Oh! This book seems quite interesting… The rules and legends of a tribe of guardian to Soul Calibur…
His eyes widened in joy.
-Extremely interesting! A real treasure!
Raphael eagerly glanced through the book.
-They were entrusted long ago to keep the sword Soul Calibur, also known as the Spirit sword, from falling into the wrong hands… This tribe comes from Mesopotamia and they are trying to keep the secret on the Holy Sword since then… There is some formula written in a paper put between the pages of the book… with star alignment… It must be some notes the countess took… I shall have to see what it is… But not here, the old maid may come to see what happened and alert the authorities… If she didn't already… Maybe the countess alerted them before she came down here… Hum… Non. I don't think so, since it involves her as well… I don't think she would appreciate to be branded as a witch… a very indecent witch…
Raphael blushed again at her lack of clothing before he took the book with some others and began to walk outside. But first, he stopped by Ivy's side and told her:
-Toute ma gratitude, chère comtesse… I mean, Ivy. Your help has been most precious… The invitation for a drink was also quite enjoyable… The drink you offered… Well, the last one… was most delightful…
He began to laugh exultantly then stepped over Ivy's body before he left the laboratory and the manor without problems.
While walking away, he thought:
This countess made me realise something: Maybe, yes… maybe I like being a monster… I thought I hated it but… I love my powers… I grew accustomed to them… The countess also told me that I have to accept what I was, and the consequences. But I just won't accept the same consequences as she would. What I must realize is that I may not be able to control myself all the time… If I appreciate my powers, I have to accept the bad sides of it. This annoying lack of control… I will not be able to control myself alone. I did it this time, well, pretty much… but I won't always be able to, I know it… How many times did I try and failed? Like the monk once told me, alone, I cannot succeed… I need help. But if Soul Edge can't do anything good, the Spirit sword can… Only Soul Calibur can help Amy and me overcome the bad sides of this condition. Meeting those people has proven quite useful… I understood many things…
As Raphael was walking in the streets, some thought hit him: I forgot to kill the countess! I was so concentrated in my resolution to not drink all her blood and my preoccupation for Soul Calibur… and also being too embarrassed by her outfit… that I forgot to finish her off! I had to! She is dangerous!
Raphael turned toward the road to the manor.
-I can't go back now… Well…
He then turned away again and began to walk away nonchalantly.
-Never mind. She probably died of her blood loss… With all I drank from her… It's a good thing Taki doesn't follow me anymore… I don't really behave myself… Attacking women, stealing horses, killing countesses and stealing books…