In the courtyard
Amy walked for some times in the dark forest when she suddenly saw the remains of a battle that took place not so long ago. Amy could tell because she noticed that the corpses of the dead imperial soldiers were still fresh. But she noticed something even more important and mostly interesting: they all had bite marks on their neck and were completely drained of their blood. Amy outlined a smile and muttered:
-Father… You are here… Alive…
She looked again at the corpses.
-… But you cannot be that thirsty… You are not alone…
She then continued to walk again toward Ostrheinsburg.
-Too bad you didn't leave any for me…
Raphael and his minions continued on their way toward the castle, feeling their bloodlust rising again. They really hoped they would see other soldiers so that they could drink again. Right now, Raphael's mind was obsessed by two things: blood and Soul Calibur. Nothing else mattered.
Some deformed beasts attacked them on the way but they met no other humans and the four bloodthirsty vampires finally arrived to the castle. Raphael could see that the place was completely corrupted by chaos. Blue flames and red flames were slowly flying around the castle like the will o' the wisps he saw surrounding Cervantes' ship. They must be the souls of all those who died here. It was really windy around here like if there would soon be some storm coming. Raphael also sensed a big evil around the place; Soul Edge was really powerful now; its aura was reflecting everywhere in the corrupted area. It was strange but Raphael could feel that the ruins of the castle seemed like if it was now one entity, like if the walls were alive… and almost breathing. Like if it was some big monster sleeping.
-This place is disgusting… I really hate this place… But I do not see any tower… That so powerful king has not appeared already or Nightmare has already gotten rid of him… or the tower may be invisible since it leads to another world… But I now have to get to the throne room… To kill either that king or Nightmare or both and take Soul Calibur from whoever has it… I do not care who I have to kill for it, I shall get it for Amy!
Raphael also noticed that there seemed to be some fight going on at the castle's gates; he thought that it must be the imperial army against Nightmare's own. The drawbridge was up and the fights were going on mostly in front of it. Raphael wondered how they would get inside; if only the raft he used last time was still there; it would be a luck if it still was… Raphael motioned for his minions to follow him by the river to search for the raft or anything else to cross the water.
As he had hoped, the raft was still there. He ordered his minions to get on it; they would reach the drawbridge with it and climb on it while both the armies were fighting against one another.
As the minions rowed the raft, something suddenly hit it violently from under. The impact sent Auguste down the raft and falling into the water. Jacqueline and Marienbard quickly went to try to get him back on the raft when some kind of very big fish jumped on him and grabbed his legs in its jaws. Auguste screamed while the women tried to pull him on the raft, fighting against the monster trying to take him down into the water. Raphael unsheathed his rapier and set it aflame while lifting it up in the air then swiftly whirled and slashed at the monster grabbing Auguste.
-Better luck next time! Go get another meal! This is my servant! Only I can mistreat him!
The burned fish got scared and let go of Auguste. Marienbard and Jacqueline then pulled him on board. They suddenly noticed that the river seemed to have many monsters like this one. The water was moving around them and big shadowy forms could be seen in the water around the raft. Jacqueline screamed in terror.
-Iiikk! We're surrounded! They'll eat us! They'll jump on us!
Raphael quickly took the oar Auguste dropped when he fell into the water and began to row.
-Quick! Row to the drawbridge! We will climb it as soon as possible! I do not want to stay in those infested waters!
Marienbard and Jacqueline took their oar too and quickly rowed. Looking at Auguste ripped and stained clothes while the wounded man was lying down on the boat in pain trying to stop the bleeding from his legs, Raphael told him:
-You shall definitively have to get a new uniform soon, Auguste…
After some bumping attacks from fishes that tried to capsize the raft but failed, Raphael and his minions finally reached the drawbridge. The imperial soldiers seemed to be very busy fighting the many deformed monsters on the ground and nobody did anything against the vampires. Anyway besides firing on them, they could not have done anything since they were on the other side and Raphael noticed that nobody even seemed to have spotted them.
-Sometimes having a small party is very useful… Yet I would not be surprised that Nightmare is aware of our presence… But if we can avoid some fights, it can only do us good… Even though, it would be good to get some blood…
He turned to the wolf headed man.
-Auguste, are you fine enough to climb?
-Yes! I'd rather climb this a hundred times than remain on this scary river!
-Good. Then climb as fast as you can. I shall wait for you.
Raphael transformed into mist to get on the drawbridge while his minions began to climb the wall.
Once on the drawbridge, Raphael heard noises inside the castle's courtyard; it seemed some fights were also going on there. He approached the entrance and discreetly peeked inside. The courtyard was full of human soldiers fighting against one another while some others were fighting some ugly monsters. Raphael noticed that as some soldiers fell down during the fight, they rose on their feet not long after to fight alongside the ones who killed them and against their former friends so Nightmare's side only grew while the human side decreased. Now most of the humans seemed to be on Nightmare's side.
From among the small remaining human group, a woman seemed to be yelling orders and encouragements while holding a lance with a banner in one hand and a sword in the other. It made Raphael think of France's great heroine Jeanne D'Arc from last century. Amy loved this story since it showed a woman who was fighting like the men. He always told her this story to encourage her in her fencing lessons. Even if the end was not too good, since she ended up being burned at the stake at the Old market place in Rouen…
-Stand your ground my brave soldiers! We shall not fall at their hands! Righteousness is on our side, victory will soon follow! Fight with honor and Wolfkrone shall stand victorious! Have courage! Do not give up! Our swords and skills give us the strength to fight!
She then impaled a monster with her lance.
-Vile beast! Feel the vengeance of my people!
Raphael thought: The humans need the drawbridge brought down… because those inside now can't get any reinforcement… while Nightmare is getting stronger with his new 'allies'… What would be best for me? If I was still human, I know what I would do without a doubt, but now? If the humans don't get reinforcements, we shall be alone against Nightmare's forces once they killed them… They shall all be against us… the slain humans and Nightmare together… but if the humans came in… they will be against us anyway… yet we are not the worst threat to their eyes, I think… only four persons… And they probably would be too busy against the other monsters while we would take the sword… Divide to conquer…
Meanwhile, his minions had climbed the wall and came to his side.
-Auguste! Jacqueline! Lower the drawbridge! We shall help Jeanne D'Arc…
The two looked at him questioningly but did not argue and began to run toward where the lever for the drawbridge was. But as they were getting toward the mechanism, a group of humans ran toward them. They looked like a bunch of crazy berserkers. As Jacqueline almost reached the lever, a berserker ran toward her and tackled her on the ground while another swung his two-handed sword at Auguste who bended over to evade the would-be decapitating strike.
-Who are those? Exclaimed Raphael. Marienbard! Stop these men!
Marienbard quickly nodded and went toward the berserkers with her scythe while Raphael disappeared and reappeared before whom he thought was the leader of the group, a man seemingly in his fifties wearing an imperial full plate armour and a long sword. Raphael pointed his rapier at him and asked:
-Where are you going?
As the man stopped in surprise, Raphael swiftly launched at him and aimed to thrust at the man's head but the man deflected the hit with his long sword. Raphael asked the man:
-Who are you?
-I am Johan Dürer, leader of Ostrheinsburg's berserkers! This is Misery, my trusty sword! I shall kill you with it! You shall not lower the drawbridge!
Raphael swiftly evaded the strike by gracefully whirling beside and slashed at the man hitting his armor. He was not used to fight people in complete armor. This man seemed to have only a few spots that could be mortal for him: by beheading him, by hitting the small uncovered part under his armpit or the big gash on his breastplate apparently made before by a big sword.
-So the evil sword has sent you to do its bidding… You're on Soul Edge's side…
Raphael could now indeed feel Soul Edge infecting the man. It was hard to really tell at first since Soul Edge's presence was invading all the area now that it was all powerful but the man really had some Soul Edge essence inside of him.
-You fool… Now do not get in my way… or you will have no chance to strike. Never again.
Raphael tried to decapitate the man with a powerful slashing strike but his adversary parried again and asked him:
-You are on the imperial side? Why? Soul Edge runs in your veins too! You should be on Nightmare's side!
-Nightmare shall be destroyed tonight. I shall personally see to it. By the way, I am Raphael Sorel, Lord of the night, enchanté.
He made some steps back and gracefully bowed before he took a defensive position to greet his adversary now coming at him.
-I shall personally see to your own demise! Traitor!
-How can I be a traitor if I never worked for Nightmare? You are the traitor, betraying your imperial army for this demon!
-I once was in the imperial army, indeed and once was loyal to the emperor but I realised Soul Edge was the one that would win! Being on the other side is a big mistake. I lost my two sons to Nightmare while trying to fight him.
-Then why are you on his side if he killed your sons? I would kill anyone who would kill my child, not side with them!
-Ever heard of the saying: If you can't beat them, join them? And once we win, Nightmare will bring back my sons!
-How pitiful! Do not delude yourself, wretched fool. He will only bring them back like those rising over there!
Raphael showed the undead soldiers rising and fighting their former friends. But Johan Durër didn't listen to him anymore and lifted his sword to crush Raphael's skull.
Raphael decided to aim for the scar on his armor since the man really protected his head with his parrying skills and he had now an opening. Raphael swiftly thrust his rapier in the man's armour side gash. He smiled in satisfaction as Johan Dürer widened his eyes in stupefaction, let go a small groan and fell on the ground after Raphael quickly took out Flambert from his chest and licked the black blood on his rapier. Soul Edge blood…
While Johann Dürer was now writhing in pain on the ground, he tried to grip Raphael's leg as if imploring him. Raphael looked coldly at him before he kicked him in the face.
Raphael turned his back at him and was about to leave while muttering:
-That's right. Stay down there and grovel…
But as the former imperial soldier agonised on the ground, something seemed wrong; he began to make strange sounds and Raphael turned back toward him. The side of the man's head began to move as if he had no skull and that something was inside of it and trying to get out. Raphael stared at it with astonishment when suddenly something popped out of the man's cranial section stretching the flesh; it was some kind of head with a giant mouth and sharp teeth forming on it, while some kind of clawed arm got out of the man's hip, ripping and smashing his armour. This deformed monster then jumped on Raphael, completely ripping the flesh of the dead man and bringing it with him covering itself, still hiding two bulging big eyes under it even if its mouth was uncovered and seemed part of the flesh, the eyes still seemed under it. Raphael fell down, letting go of his rapier, completely startled by this horrible sight. The creature's giant mouth then tried to bite him.
Raphael was now trying to keep the giant mouth from gobbling up his head entirely by holding its jaw open with his hands. But the creature's sharp teeth were cutting through his fingers and made them bleed. The creature's mouth was dangerously approaching Raphael's head when Jacqueline and Marienbard suddenly came to his rescue while Auguste tried to occupy the last berserkers.
After he overcame his surprise and horror, Raphael suddenly disappeared into mist and reappeared behind the monster. He took back his rapier while the two women were keeping the monster busy. Then the creature jumped on Jacqueline but before it reached her, Raphael quickly impaled it and teared down its flesh. Like if it had been only a blanket wrapping it, the creature got out of the flesh with only its muscles, veins and its organs, showing a slimy moving mass of living organs. An horrible stench suddenly came from it. The thing landed on the ground and jumped back again at Raphael who was still appalled by this horrible sight. Marienbard stopped the creature in its path by swiftly putting her scythe in its way, cutting it in two. The two viscous parts landed each side of Raphael with a splat. They still wiggled and Marienbard struck at them repeatedly before they totally immobilised themselves for good.
The sight of this abomination completely relieved Raphael of the bloodlust he felt before. He was totally disgusted; he took on an even paler complexion and had to hold up a sudden and strong envy to vomit. He was really shaken by this horrible sight and worst; he just took some blood from this abomination! Seeing his sickened expression, Marienbard asked him if he was alright. Raphael looked at her with panic in his eyes, then quickly ran to the side of the castle wall to vomit.
-Mon Dieu… Oh mon Dieu… Quelle horreur…!
He then thought: Maybe drinking Soul Edge blood is not a good idea… Yet it is so enticing… and I barely took some this time… It was the monster that was repulsive… It doesn't mean I will turn into that either…
Raphael took some deep breath then took back his composure and tried to look casual; he didn't want to look weak in front of his minions and they didn't have time to lose. He told Marienbard who still looked worriedly at him as he came back:
-I am fine. Merci.
He quickly changed the subject.
-Has Auguste finished with the remaining soldiers?
He looked around him and noticed that Jacqueline seemed as sick as him. She was holding her trembling hand in front of her mouth, looking very disturbed. Raphael asked her if she was all right. He did not want her either to turn into the next monster like they just saw even if she didn't drink his blood. Jacqueline looked at him and nodded.
-…It's only… that this… creature… was disgusting!
Not being able to hold it up any longer, she quickly ran to a corner were she also vomit. Not being too interested by this, Raphael looked at Auguste; it seemed he had killed the remaining berserkers and was now wiping his mouth from the blood he drank. Those humans seemed normal so there was probably nothing to worry about. Jacqueline came back and she seemed very ashamed.
-I'm sorry master… I'm better now…
She didn't dare look anymore were the creature had fell. The stench was still very present and sickening and both her and Raphael tried not to smell it. Raphael looked at her and told her:
He then addressed his two minions who didn't seem as repulsed as him and Jacqueline.
-Now, Marienbard, Auguste, lower the drawbridge!
The two minions executed his orders and the drawbridge was now lowered and accessible to the imperial soldiers and their allies.
-Now let us leave this disgusting courtyard and go to the sword!
They took the stairs to get to the other floor while some soldiers of the invading army began to enter the place. While Raphael and his minions climbed the stairs and were about to reach the third floor, a floor Raphael knew very well since it was the chapel floor, a woman voice told them:
-Your fight ends here!