Memories of Ostrheinsburg
Raphael finally saw Ostrheinsburg's towers from the distance. He couldn't help but feel a little nervous. To come back to this place was a little disturbing…
Last time he left this place, he was in an almost dead state. Quite the opposite than when he arrived.
When he first came here, he was told not to go there countless times on the path. He was also told in the near villages that Nightmare had killed all the people of the castle in a frenzied fury and was doing black magic ceremonies with his servants in the walls of the ruins. But whatever people told him, he didn't listen to those who warned him. He was so confident in his fighting skills, all those stories about Nightmare's slaughters didn't reach him, they only boosted his arrogance even more. He would be the one who would kill this monster and he would certainly not back off in cowardice now that he was so close to his goal! Soul Edge was there! He was so excited, he laughed at the villagers' advices to stay away from there and rode recklessly toward the castle. The air smelled like victory already. Everything seemed to celebrate his soon to be success. The birds were whistling winning chant, the trees were bowing to the champion and the sun was shining upon him to congratulate him of his future triumph. Victory was so sweet!
He was even already preparing his text for what he would say when he would give the sword to his father. Then as the despicable nobles would fight among themselves for the sword, he would quietly go back to Amy and they would be safe and happy together! Yes, his heart rejoiced; he would go back to Amy soon! It has been so long! He was eager to see his daughter again and hold her in his arms! It was soon, very soon! Tears of joy came to his eyes as he thought about his beloved daughter and the perspective of their reunion. He wondered what gift should he buy her; she loved dolls, but she also loved poetry, she loved to draw, in fact, she liked so many things… Suddenly an idea struck him: maybe he should buy her a pet; a little kitten or a little doggy. Yes, a little kitty would make the perfect gift! Raphael never really liked dogs, and they were not as neat as cats...
When he arrived at Ostrheinsburg castle, he saw the castle was a ruin, as expected. He tied his horse to a tree and crossed the drawbridge with confidence and arrogance. He was eager to see Nightmare, to destroy him and to get Soul Edge!
Inside the castle though, the ambiance was mostly desolate, all was broken, the stables, the carts, the barrels… Skeletons were laying everywhere inside the castle's walls. Their positions suggested their violent death. The sight of this did slow down his enthousiast a bit, but not his resolve and confidence. He was more than ready to kill the perpetrator of this carnage, he would certainly look like a hero and he would most of all get his hands on Soul Edge. Because more important than looking like a hero was securing Amy's future and his own by getting rid of the annoying nobles. The heroic thing was just a bonus.
But inside of the castle's walls, everything was so silent, he wondered if anybody was there at all. Maybe Nightmare got away? But what was strange was that he didn't even hear the birds or any other animal. The air was kind of eerie, the wind was blowing strangely and Raphael felt like he didn't belong there. He shouldn't be there. But nevertheless, he continued searching the ruins for Nightmare or any hint to where his adversary was. Nightmare better not have got away! It took him so much time to find where he was hiding! He didn't want to lose more time to search for this monster.
Raphael remembered he had just climbed the stairs leading to the now ruined chapel when he saw a young man kneeling head down in front of a giant sword. Some kind of small lightning rays seemed to come into the sword. Were they souls coming to it, nourrishing it, like people said the evil sword fed on? The young man had long blond hair and he wore some knight armor greaves but no armor on his torso which made him look like some kind of barbarian. In fact, he was topless except for something Raphael had difficulties to say if it was tatoos or scars or even something else, like big veins? Because the young man's left arm had a normal metal gauntlet but his right arm seemed extremely strange, it seemed to be a monstrous arm with three big claws… Raphael had difficulties to believe it was real. The giant sword was very ugly and had an eye on it. A real giant eye. The eye even blinked and looked at him. Raphael felt destabilised by this sight; he never saw something like that before, it truly felt out of this world and Raphael felt like he didn't belong in this place again. But he still didn't listen to the small voice of wisdom telling him to get out, he looked at the sword with curiosity and covetousness.
-So this is Soul Edge…
He arrogantly advanced toward the young man, who was still kneeling with his head bowed and his eyes closed, and adressed him; he was certain it was Nightmare; this young and weak-willed boy was certainly the one Soul Edge had possessed seven years ago. Raphael thought he would now end his misery by killing him then take Soul Edge. This evil sword wouldn't be able to possess him since he was not weak like this boy. He advanced and told him:
-You're too weak for that… aren't you?
Suddenly the young man got on his feet and shouted, with a powerful voice Raphael hadn't expected, as he took the giant sword from the floor where it was stuck and lifted it with only one hand.
-You conceited wretched human!
Raphael almost backed off in surprise but kept his cool, he simply widened his eyes and lifted his head a little in surprise then made a confident smile and took his fighting stance. Finally, he would met Nigthmare in battle!
The young man angrily stated as he looked at Raphael with an intense hating gaze, holding his sword above his head:
-I will show you... the greatest nightmare! Offer yourself to the unending darkness!
Unimpressed, Raphael replied:
-I'm not here to play. Are you done?
Nightmare shouted as he swung his enormous sword above his head:
-My thirst is endless! You shall become my nourishment!
He then moved toward Raphael and swung his sword at him. Raphael had difficulties to understand how this man could swing that monstrous sword around like that and he concentrated to evade all the strikes that monster could give him while trying to hit Nightmare with his rapier. A hit from that sword would be deadly.
Raphael succeeded in wounding Nightmare and stated with a proud smirk:
-You cannot go against my blade.
But the young man only looked at him with even more hate in his green and strangely golden eyes and didn't seem to suffer from the wound. Raphael thought he should at least have winced from it, but Nightmare didn't seem to even have felt it, except for his changing expression. Raphael succeeded in slashing his adversary three times again but it never seemed to hurt Nightmare yet the wounds were not that small…
-Die! Even beasts know when to give up!
But suddenly Nightmare slashed at Raphael and this time Raphael didn't have time to dodge; he got hit on the hip and fell on the ground some feet farther from Nightmare who seemed to invoke some dark forces.
-Blood, darkness... come unto me!
Raphael groaned in pain and evaded Nightmare's next strike by rolling on the ground to his right. The impact of the strike broke the stone floor, sending bits of rocky floor on Raphael. Raphael quickly got up again, ignoring his wound and threw himself at Nightmare before the monster had time to disengage his sword from the ground.
-Coup… de grâce!
Nightmare received a thrusting blow to his left shoulder; this time he grunted and grimaced in pain but took his sword and slashed at Raphael who swiftly threw himself on the ground to dodge the powerful sword. But while he was getting up, Nightmare thrusted Soul Edge toward him and empalled him in the chest, sending Raphael tumbling some feet away. Blood was flowing from his wound but in spite of the pain, Raphael didn't wince, got a hold of himself and looked at Nightmare with a defiant and arrogant gaze. He got on his feet again and tried to thrust his rapier into the monster. But Nightmare waited for his attack; he evaded the weapon and grabbed Raphael's arm, bringing him toward him and into his sword, thrusting it into Raphael's stomach.
Raphael grunted in pain and fell but he still had the reflex to roll again to evade the mortal strike Nightmare had for him. As he laid on the ground, he looked again at his adversary with a resolute air. He tried to get up again, but fell down; his wounds hurted too much. He rolled away again from Nightmare's strike and tried again to get up. As he painfully got up, Nightmare swiftly grabbed him with his giant monstrous hand and slammed him on the wall. Raphael stabbed the monstrous hand still holding him with his rapier; Nightmare let him go and dropped him on the floor but told him:
-It doesn't matter... how much you struggle! This is the end! Let darkness take you!
Raphael's vision was beginning to blur and the floor was beginning to move; Raphael knew he didn't have much time to defeat Nightmare before he lost consciousness; he got up again to launch himself at his ennemy while yelling some battlecry to boost himself. He thrusted his rapier at Nightmare's tigh but Nightmare slashed him back on the chest, Raphael fell down again, groaning. Nightmare came toward him and slashed at him again while Raphael was still down. Nightmare screamed and began to slash the fencer again and again, spilling Raphael's blood everywhere.
Nightmare grabbed him again with his monstrous claw and slammed him repeatedly on the wall before he threw him down violently on the floor. Raphael groaned in pain as he was beaten almost senseless by Nightmare but never looked at him with fear or regret. Each time Nightmare looked into his eyes, he saw courage and determination and this defiance infuriated him. So he beat him more.
Raphael tried to rise again but his wounds were too painfull and he was too weak from the blood loss. He looked at Nightmare who was about to give him the final blow and gave him a determined gaze, showing him he would never give up. Nightmare told him in a sinister tone as he was still holding his sword above him:
-I shall share with you... my darkness!
Raphael tried to get out of Nightmare's soon to be strike trajectory but could not. His mind was determined to continue fighting but his body would not listen anymore. Suddenly, Nightmare froze with his sword in the air, ready to strike, but not acting. Raphael wondered what happened yet he knew he had to seize his chance, he would not have another chance like that! But he felt too weak to act; he suddenly thought about Amy, she was waiting for him at home, he could not die here. He would not die here! He murmured his daughter's name as he gathered all his remaining strenght to get up and gave one last strike toward Nightmare while the monster was strangely frozen. He succeeded in hitting the giant eye and suddenly heard Nightmare scream an horrible cry of agony. Raphael staggered and fell down as he heard Nigthmare fleeing while letting go an atrocious cry, then lost consciousness.
After his defeat, Raphael didn't really remember anything. He remembered he stayed on his back for some time, having difficulties to move and even to breathe because he suffered too much. But the suffering calmed itself after some time and he suddenly had the impression he was not really there in his body, he seemed to be detached from the suffering and the physical pain; he remembered looking at the blue sky, the sun was bright, a bird flew above him and he thought about Amy. Since it was about supper time, he wondered what she had eaten for supper. He didn't know why he thought such a stupidity, such a minor and futile thing, he may already have begun to be delirious.
Then his memory faded and he remembered leaning on a window in a corridor while he was trying to get out of there, feeling an horrible pain in his stomach, in his chest, everywhere. But he didn't know how he rose on his feet and walked over there.
Then it became dark again and he remembered he was already on his horse, weakly holding on to it, laid limply on his horse as it was riding away from there. The suffering he was feeling was unbearable and he cried in pain while galloping. He didn't care about keeping his composure, nobody was there, so he cried; he cried for his sufferings and for his humiliating failure. He no more had the arrogant and proud attitude he had when he entered the castle.
Raphael didn't remember most of his trip back home, he thought the horse must have known the way back because he didn't remember being conscious at all. He woke up on his bed, while servants were talking around him and he found out he was totally bloodied on his chest, his wounds were deep and he still suffered unbearable pain. But he was finally back home to Amy. To Amy which he… infected. Maybe he should not have come back, she would still be human today… but who would have taken care of her then? Who would have loved her? The servants didn't seem to care about her at all. Raphael noticed this the day he found out they let her alone to take care of him. It infuriated him deeply. Amy needed him. He was right to come back to her, it was Nightmare's fault that he got infected, so he would make this Siegfried Schtauffen pay for his daughter and him. It was all this man's fault, not his.
Raphael finally reached Ostrheinsburg castle for the second time. But this time it was night time because Raphael would not want to feel weak in front of his sworn ennemy. As he reached the castle, Raphael's nervosity had somehow calmed down; this time he would not come foolhardily and recklessly. He wasn't afraid but he was careful. He knew there could be dangers and that he was not invincible. He was probably better at fighting than before and if he met Nightmare, he knew his combat style, so he was more prepared, but he would still use caution while exploring the castle… The perspective of leaving the castle beaten and humiliated once more scared him still. Raphael looked at the castle and noticed the drawbridge was up. Last time he came, it was down, someone lifted it up, and so someone came here. Since the castle was completely surrounded by a river and he probably was not good enough to swim the distance, he wondered how he would go inside the castle and turned around it with his horse to try to find a way. He found a raft. A big raft, very well built, on his side of the river. It was luck; he didn't know who left that there but he would use it too. He tied his horse to a tree and jumped on the raft to get to the other side and reach the castle. He still wondered who raised the drawbridge and kept on his guards.
Suddenly, Raphael felt being watched; he only had time to duck before someone slashed where he was before and landed in front of him. The mysterious attacker seemed dressed like a samurai. He was wearing some kind of octopus mask and had a katana and a banner in his back. He adressed Raphael holding out his hand and holding his weapon on the other hand.
-Thou should giveth me those evil shards thou possess!
-And you also have something of interest that you should give me; your sword! answered Raphael as he glanced greedily at the katana the samurai held; it felt like Soul Edge. Raphael wanted it; so he unsheathed his rapier and prepared to fight while the samurai replied holding his katana with his two hands above him:
-Overconfidence is the greatest enemy. A raging fire becomes dying embers.
Even if Raphael knew the man was right about overconfidence, he arrogantly replied:
-Overconfidence is mostly a danger for you, so do not take any chances and give me your sword at once!
-Heaven's net is wide but lets nothing through.
-What are you talking about?
Raphael already wasn't sure about the meaning of the ember statement yet he didn't really care but now this was really perplexing. As if not already confusing, the man began to repeat the same word over again:
-Iza iza iza iza iza!
The samurai then began to spin on his sword and jumped toward Raphael who evaded this strange attack while trying to slash the mysterious man.
-Nothing is as it seems. Suffering of the ages cometh in infinite forms.
-Who are you? You're starting to annoy me.
Suddenly the man stopped his spinning attack and took a normal fighting stance.
-I feel thy anger! It is I, Yoshimitsu! I have arrived! Announce thy name!
Raphael understood this bit at least and bowed before his adversary while he presented himself.
-I am Raphael Sorel, Lord of the Night!
He might as well use the nickname Walachia's peasants gave him.
-Let us duel! Thou shalt be slain... my apologies!
Suddenly the man began to say strange things again.
-Namu, namu, namu... Namu!
Raphael thought the samurai must be preparing another strange attack so he threw himself at the man who parried his strike before replying with a kick.
-Evil spirit, begone! Thou shalt breathe thy last! I shall assist thy suicide!
-Do not delude yourself, wretched fool! If someone should die here, it's you!
-Those without courage oppress the weak.
-That is true, but I hope you're not refering to me, I do not lack courage! Even if I may oppress the weak. And the strong. Anybody.
-I shall show the errors of thy way!
-What a joke!
Suddenly a young girl jumped on the raft. She had a crazy glint in her eyes.
-Can I join? Please? Please? A little bird told me two newcomers were here, I had to greet you! Well, in fact, I had to tell you that you two are not allowed to be here! Now, I'll just tear you limb from limb!
-Storm and stress cometh from all direction, stated the crazy samurai who standed a little farther from the others.
Raphael didn't listen to the samurai's rantings while he answered the girl:
-I don't find your humour amusing. I think it's time for you to disappear!
He wanted to get rid of her to continue his fight with the crazy samurai. He launched himself at the girl and tried to kick her into the water.
-Me? No! It's you who don't belong in this place! You know, three's a crowd! Out of the way!
She tried to hit Raphael with one strike from the sharp hoop she held as a weapon but he evaded it while the samurai still stated something bizarre before he advanced toward them and tried to hit both Raphael and the girl with his katana.
-A mighty bolt of lightning travels in many directions.
As Raphael tried to evade the samurai's strike, the girl hit him again with her weapon and Raphael fell into the water. She then cheerfully said:
-Okay, let's move on to the next one!
While the raft continued its way on the water leaving Raphael behind, the samurai looked toward Raphael who had emerged and was now choking from the water swallowed, as if not knowing if he should do something but the girl interrupted and told him:
-Don't worry, I'll take care of him right after I took care of you!
The man turned his attention to her.
-And I shalt take care of thou now! Thou art the one I searcheth! Shame on thee! Repent! I cameth here because thou hast killed one of my own! My clan members cry out for vengeance! The Manjitou ninja clan will always stay together and defend or avenge its comrades! Thou shalt have no mercy! Prepare thyself! Naaaaaamuuuuuuuu!
The raft continued floating into the current and entered a tunnel. Raphael, who stopped choking, could not see or hear anymore what happened between those two strange persons. They seemed to have something going on between them.
-I shall let them fight among themselves. It seems I was wrong, I thought the man was a samurai but he was a ninja… The young girl seemed like some sort of guardian to this place, so there may be something to search for… It seems the castle isn't abandonned at all. I shall try to find Nightmare!
Raphael swam on the other side of the river and reached a place where he could climb, with some difficulties, unto the drawbridge. He climbed and entered the castle at last to search for Nightmare. He first went where Nightmare was last time and reached the chapel, nobody was there. As he walked toward where he fell down last time he saw that his blood had stained the floor that had now reddish spots, a big red spot was still where he had laid in his blood puddle for some times after his defeat at the hands of Nightmare. The blood really imbued the stone floor, tainting it a pinkish red shade while marking this event forever. Raphael leaned on it and touched it with his hand.
-When I still had red blood… When I was human…
He looked around; he didn't notice sooner but the blood spots seemed to have stained all the way he walked back outside like if it was a warning to not come back again. But it had the opposite effect on Raphael, it enraged him; It reminded him of his sufferings at the hands of Nightmare, he wanted even more to kill that wretched monster!
He searched the castle again and while he visited the basement, he found the remains of some sort of ritual. A bloody ritual, as the remains of the victims of this ceremony seemed to be piled up in the corner. All children. Raphael was troubled by this horrible sight. Seeing the kind of victims used perturbed him greatly.
-This is disgusting…
But he knew from his knowledge of the occult what this kind of rituals were for: it was either for eternal life, for ressurrection or for beauty.
-I don't think beauty was really required here… So it must have been for one of the other reasons. Maybe Nightmare really was killed by someone… Me or the others… Even though I am truly beginning to think that I had nothing to do with his death… but anyway it doesn't matter who did it since Nightmare seems to have been restaured to life. This will give me the chance to truly kill him myself! Zasalamel told me I was one of the few who could… It shall be me, I shall kill this Siegfried Schtauffen once and for all and avenge Amy and me!
Raphael glanced at the young victims of the ritual.
-…and those other victims…
Raphael then left the room a little shaken by what he saw. He continued to inspect the castle and found an area that possessed no evil energy at all; it was strange because the castle was filled with evil. The place smelled evil everywhere. Except there.
-Somebody came here to purify the place… but could not continue it seems… Those with the Holy Stone? Are they here? Maybe they didn't return to China but got killed here… after they purified this small place…
Raphael was really questionning himself and found out he had more and more questions but not enough answers. He angrily exclaimed:
-Where is this damned Nightmare?
Suddenly the young girl who attacked him and the ninja on the raft appeared at the end of the corridor. She cheerfully told him:
-You're looking for my master, Nightmare? He's gone for now! You'll have to come back… unless I can do anything for you? I know what Nightmare would do to you; I can do it for him!
She made a crazy smile and began to tumble toward Raphael.
-So you are Nighmare's servant? Asked Raphael holding his rapier in front of him.
She stopped tumbling and answered with some pride in her eyes:
-Yes! I work for the great Nightmare! I am a loyal servant to him! But like I said before, you don't belong here! He doesn't need you! So go away! Or stay forever… which could also do.
-Where you the one who did the resurrection ritual? If so, you're disgusting!
The girl didn't seem to understand Raphael's revolt.
-Why are you being such a goody-goody? Well, I did it in part. Some man told me to bring victims to him and he would revive my master!
-Who was this man?
-I dunno. Some man.
-You don't know?
Raphael asked that with some uncredulity.
-No, I dunno. Who cares? Nightmare is revived, that is all that count!
-Who killed him?
-Don't you know anything? Asked Raphael with a bit of exasperation in his voice.
-There is a lot of things I dunno like… I'm a little shy to ask that…but… can I kill you? Please?
-Are you crazy or what?
-I dunno. What do you think? Hey! I know! Let's dance!
Tira began to make pirouettes again toward Raphael who had understood by now that this girl was completely crazy and there was nothing to do with her, so he advanced toward her with his rapier in his hand.
-What a buffon… Well then, let us dance!
Tira cheerfully exclaimed:
-Allow me to... entertain you. Stated Raphael while making hand mills with his rapier.
Tira suddenly stopped coming toward him but not by fear, she had something to tell him.
-Let's see you dance! By the way, I'm Tira. If we are to dance together we should get better acquainted, don't you think?
-Well, then, Tira…
Raphael stated her name with some contempt in his voice.
-… I shall add you to my list of relatives.
-Oh Thank you! Thank you! Wow! We are becoming very close!
-You don't get it, I hate my relatives.
-I killed mine! Stated Tira with a big smile, like if she did better than Raphael and won some sort of contest.
-You are completely crazy! How pitiful! I think this place truly have an influence on the sanity of those who come here. I didn't meet one sane person today… I should get out of here as fast as I can!
-You don't want to stay? You don't want to dance anymore?
Tira suddenly pouted and told Raphael:
-I don't need you. You're no fun.
-I am not amused either. So let's get this over with. Die already!
Raphael striked at her but Tira quickly dodged out of the way, her voice suddenly changed and became more raspy;
-I'll cut your heart out!
Raphael defiantly answered:
-You're too weak to stop me.
Tira advanced toward him and swung her eiserne drossel vertically at him but Raphael evaded it while thrusting at her with his rapier. He wounded her right leg and Tira grunted in pain and growled. She screamed while preparing to attack.
-You deserve the most painful death imaginable! I'll tear you apart!
She swung her weapon at him again but the corridor was high enough but not very large so Tira had some difficulties handling her weapon there. Since the strike was horizontal this time, the loop hit the walls and made sparks with the stone walls while slowing her weapon's momentum. Raphael parried her weak strike by putting his rapier in front of him. Raphael didn't have this close quarter problem and launched another attack at her.
-Time to perish!
Tira evaded the strike by making a backflip. But she really was upset with the close quarter fighting conditions.
-I don't like this. Stay away! You irritate me.
Raphael attacked again and hit Tira on her left arm, transpercing her arm from one side to the other. Tira let go a small piercing cry; she had enough of this corridor so she turned around and fled. Raphael began to run after her, swinging violently his rapier at her.
-Don't think, that you can flee!
-Don't bother me! You pest!
They ran for a while in the castle's corridors until the young girl ran to the highest tower and threw herself into the river. Raphael stopped on the tower's ramparts and leaned on it to see if she got out of the water. But a flock of raven suddenly flew by and obscured his view. When they finished passing, Raphael didn't know if the girl had escaped or not. He cursed the annoying birds and began to get out of the tower. He had nothing more to do here. Nightmare was not here and he had enough of this damned castle. He would have to go search in China now for the Holy Stone. Assuming the users of the stone had not died here…