a soul calibur 3 fanfic by d.
In a small village in Scandinavia, the spring rain pours down from the sky. It is cool and clear and fresh. 'Not,' thinks a young woman, tilting her face upward to look into the clouds, 'at all like that terrifying rain a few years ago.'
It is all mixed up in her mind. But this young woman, small and slight for her age of sixteen years, has seen much more than anyone else in the village; she knows this for certain. More places, definitely, and more people...people dead, dying, tormented... And she has seen enough and knows enough not to speak of such things, not even-especially not even-to the family that adopted her when she came to the village.
A hoarse bird-cry pulls Tira from her reverie, and she just barely catches a glimpse of the night-black raven that swoops down from the sky. Rearranging her kerchief to wrap more tightly around her hair, Tira hurries down the street, sloshing water with her boot-clad feet. She has only stopped for a minute, to watch the rain and remember as best she can, but her adoptive father enforces a curfew for all the family. She does not want to be late.
Most people would call Tira Hrafn a cold girl. She certainly gave that impression. Her eyes were like violet-tinted crystal, hard and appraising; her dark chestnut hair was kept bound in two tightly-spiralled buns, one behind each ear, spiky with loose ends; and her face, finely sculpted and pale complexioned, was most always in a downcast and somewhat distant expression. But Stígandr and Vigdís Hrafn, her adoptive parents, were not particularly affectionate people themselves. Their first child, their son Hákan, was the one that they lavished attention upon. Whether they had taken Tira in out of kindness, or simply out of necessity, was never discussed.
Also not discussed was how Tira had come to the village in the Jotunheimen. Stígandr's merchant business had him traveling much of Europe over the course of the year, and he had come home a few years ago with the young woman-then more of a girl than anything-in tow. Villagers had privately exclaimed over her appearance, unnaturally colored with makeup and dyes as it was. But in the months that followed her arrival, Tira's new family had gentled her, although it showed more outside than in.
Unlike the twin sisters she gained upon her adoption, who could charm all those who met them, Tira has always been quiet; her silences verge on sullen, but her rare smiles bring a spark to her strange purple eyes. It is the things that she smiles about that worry her mother Vigdís.
Tira pushes open the back door of the Hrafn family cottage, noting that both Hákan and their father are not home yet. She removes her heavy black leather boots and pads softly across the floor to the kitchen fireplace, where she adds her outer wraps to the head coverings and cloaks that dry before it. Then, plucking the ladle from its hook on the wall, she lifts the cover of the cast-iron cookpot to stir its contents.
"It tastes fine," someone says to her, nastily, "so don't think that you'll be sneaking any before Father gets back."
Tira glances at the girl, who is standing in the doorway that leads to the front of the house. Ragnborg, hands on her hips and a sneer on her lips, glares back. Tira is her elder by at least three years, but that does not guarantee the girl's respect.
Both Ragnborg and her twin, Ragnfrid, have bright blue eyes and long, wavy hair of red-gold. But where Ragnborg is a robust, active girl in the prime of youth, her twin is a sickly invalid. A childhood bout of the measles, which passed over her sister, has ravaged Ragnfrid's health. Tira suspects, sometimes, that this is why Stígandr was so willing to drag her from the battlefield in Germany all the way to this distant northern place.
'Sometimes, especially when Ragnborg is being this tyranical,' Tira thinks sullenly, 'I wish he had left me behind. I would be able to survive on my own.'
She frowns at the thirteen-year-old and turns back to the cookpot, murmuring, "I was checking to make sure you hadn't burned it, like last time. You blamed it on me, I recall, and Father was quite upset."
Ragnborg narrows her blue eyes and hisses, "You're nothing but a foundling, Tira. A camp-following bitch. And don't you forget it."
Tira smiles then, without warmth. She turns to look at the other girl, and for a moment, Ragnborg is afraid. A flame burns in those strange violet eyes, cold and cruel. Tira takes a step toward her, and Ragnborg finds herself backing up without really thinking of it. Tira's smile widens.
"With you constantly reminding me, dear sister," she points out in a gravelly, harsh tone, causing the younger girl to shiver, "I am not likely to forget that any time soon." Then, with studied casualness, Tira shoves Ragnborg away and walks out of the kitchen.
Once inside the main part of the house, Tira greets Vigdís and Ragnfrid, both of whom are busily at work with domestic duties. The mother is sewing clothes, making some new and patching others, while the daughter weaves the high-quality cloth that the family garments are made from. Tira has never quite grasped the art of such activities, but she does have a talent at the spinning wheel, producing a smooth-grained, thick yarn that Ragnfrid primarily uses to knit socks. Ragnborg's own attempts at spinning have been soundly dismissed as lackluster by their mother, which is another thing that feeds her ire. Tira is unmoved by Ragnborg's resentment, but for some reason, Ragnfrid's admiration and praise reach her, and warm her wintery heart.
Tira takes her customary place at the spinning wheel and begins, thinning the yarn to a thread at the request of Vigdís. In a sweet, cheery tone, totally unlike the one she just used with Ragnborg, Tira asks, "What do you have planned for this, Mother?"
"We have quite a few yellow onion skins that can be used as dye." Vigdís responds, "I thought that you might like a new summer outfit, and the dark gold would look lovely with those long boots you favor."
Tira nods, thinking of the soft brown boots and matching leather gloves that her mother speaks of. "And Ragnfrid would design it, of course."
Ragnfrid laughs, a melodic sound, if weak. "I already have, big sister. A black-and-gold dress, past your knees, without sleeves. An over-tunic, embroidered, with a cream trim. And a matching short-sleeved half-jacket to finish it off. Perhaps a fur collar on the jacket, too; I haven't decided."
"Sounds nice," Tira muses. Of course, she'll talk her younger sister into reducing the length of the dress-she would hardly have freedom of movement in an outfit that long, if she was to wear her long boots.
The evening goes on, quiet, not particularly special in the minds of any of the Hrafn family. But later, much later and very far away, Tira would think back on that rainy night with both pleasure and regret.
A few weeks later, Tira stands in the middle of the cottage's main room as Vigdís puts the finishing touches on her new outfit. Tira's fingers pluck at the hem of her dress, and she comments, "Mother, can't you hem this a little higher?"
"Let's see how it looks before you begin complaining, Tira." Vigdís responds, more focused on pinning the soft white fur of the half-jacket's collar to it.
Tira begins to answer with a soft sigh and a 'Yes, Mother,' when Ragnborg exclaims, "Don't do that, Mother. She'll look like a whore!"
"What?" Ragnfrid cries, distressed.
Vigdís leaves the collar hanging askew as she stands up and slaps Ragnborg across the face. "Don't you upset your twin! And how do you know what a whore looks like, young lady?"
Tira answers instead, saying, "All her friends wear as little clothing as possible, because they're trying to catch a man."
Ragnfrid gasps, "Oh! I remember, I asked Vili where the rest of her outfit was a few days ago, and she blushed and told me I wouldn't understand. Is that what you mean, Tira?"
Vigdís, looking scandalized by this new piece of information, gives her daughter a hard shake. "Is this true? Oh, just wait until your father hears about this!"
And behind her back, seen only by the twins, Tira covers her mouth with both hands to muffle a spiteful giggle.
That evening, the whole Hrafn family eats dinner together. Ragnborg stands, too sore from a beating to sit down. The others are all sitting, and Tira is farthest from her, no longer clad in her dark yellow dress, but in a plain white shift. Hákan regales them all with a hunting tale, prominently featuring his own prowess with the bow.
As his son finishes his story, Stígandr smiles proudly. "Soon," he tells his family, "I will be leaving again. The trade winds are blowing."
A harsh cawing from outside interrupts. Stígandr directs a sour glare out the window, at the dark, feathered shapes sitting in the trees surrounding the cottage. Hákan stands, already pulling out his sling and a flat bankstone to load it with, and mutters something about scaring the birds away. Tira moves to stop him, but he is already out the door by the time she gets past the rest of the family.
Another harsh cry sounds, followed by a thud and the rush of many black wings. Tira's hoarse shout blends eeriely with the screams of the murder of ravens, and she runs to the side of the dying bird. Her hands are trembling, but she is not sure why. She reaches to stroke the proud feathered breast of the bird, to smooth away the blood that darkens the already black plumage...
She voices another shout, this one of pain and fear. Memory floods her, surrounds her, takes her deep into a past that she does not want to remember...a past that will destroy this fragile present.
"Why do you let your victims cry out? It alerts others, and makes your escape difficult."
Tira tossed her head, flipping blue-green bangs out of her violet eyes, and replied, "Because I like to hear it, Abaddon. It's soooo pretty!"
The elder Bird of Passage member snorted, pretending to frown disapprovingly as the young teen giggled. But truly, he was fond of this girl, in his way. Though he certainly didn't love her, for love bred weakness, and weakness was something to be destroyed. But Tira was strong. She was a natural assassin, far more skilled than many others who were two, even three times her age. He had raised her and trained her in the ways of the Bird of Passage, ever since she had been found as a baby.
Abaddon shook his head. Tira was as she was. And it didn't really bother him if she gave her targets the opportunity to scream for death. Let her enjoy her life, and the death that she brought to those unworthy of life. He was guilty himself, in a few cases, of torturing his victims rather than ending their lives swiftly and silently. Most of Bird of Passage members probably did the same.
Soon, new orders would come. Abaddon suspected that they would either be sent to the Spanish Empire, to investigate and eliminate a rumored pirate uprising, or to the Germanic lands, seeking out the remainder of Sir Stefan's supporters. Both locations promised much bloodshed, and many chances for both Tira and Abaddon to perfect their already wide-ranging battle skills.
Tira jumped down from her hiding place in the ruins of Sir Stefan's castle. She stood with her primary Aiselne Drossel held before her in a guard stance. The mercenary, whom Tira knew-based on Bird of Passage intelligence-to be one of the old knight's many defenders and benefactors, stared at the young woman, hardly believing that such a small, strange-looking youth would challenge him. Her eyes flashed like the metal of her ringblade, hard and unfeeling.
Her outfit was made mostly of green leather: very short-cut pants and a ragged-looking top trimmed with large feathers, dyed green. Her boots and gloves were both bright purple, the gloves wrapped with what appeared to be long bandages. Obviously, from the large tears throughout and haphazard sewing job done with purple ribbon, the girl had been through a growth spurt and not been able to replace her clothes. That pointed toward poverty, and desperation in challenging him. He ignored the rich teal dye that colored her hair, the bright purple streaks of warpaint, and the imported makeup that colored her lips and eyelids, which indicated wealth, and the truth of Tira's financial situation. The man drew a knife from the belt slung across his chest, but did nothing more than brandish it threateningly.
"I'm gonna kill you now," Tira said with a savage, green-lined smile, "you ready?"
The man scoffed in amusement. "Aren't we cheeky? Get out of my way!"
Tira's only reply was a wild laugh as she leaped high into the air, performing a Diving Wing Flap. Not expecting the ferocity with which she slashed her strange weapon, nor the speed with which she moved, the man fell back, bleeding heavily from a long cut across his chest.
He recovered quickly, and aimed a vertical slash at her while rising. Tira stepped back, calling out mockingly, "How's that?" as she held the ringblade horizontally, stabbing him with one of the three wing-shaped blades and wiggling the weapon. He followed her, although slowed by the wounds inflicted by her Pizzicato move. Then, deflecting his triple-stab, she whirled the hoop on one wrist as she sidestepped. As expected, the target went into a high guard stance, and she hit him with the leading-leg high kick she'd drawn his attention from.
"Let's play!" she taunted the dazed mercenary, just before she went to her knees to deliver a devastating Tenuto Sweep, stabbing her weapon down with the full force of her body weight.
The man screamed in terror and agony, as the blades ripped off his feet. Thus mutilated, he couldn't stand, much less attack Tira. She let him writhe for a while, amusing herself by slicing his limbs off in sections. But she soon lost interest in the lackluster opponent and beheaded him.
"Very mediocre," Tira muttered to herself, "this won't do! Nope, nope."
She spied Abaddon and some other high-ranking assassins, as they took down their victims. They were a fair distance from her, on the old battlefield, but she could tell from their laughter that their opponents were no match either. As her mentor whirled in place and spun his tri-spiked ringblade, which ignited with bright spirit-fire, Tira bounced up and down, clapping her hands. The elder man completed the Chattering Pinion move, and his victim collapsed to the ground in two parts, sliced through the torso.
Perhaps if she had been paying attention to her surroundings and not been so focused on her master, Tira might have seen the column of white light in the distance. Or perhaps not. In any case, she felt its effects soon enough.
The first to fall was one of the new recruits, pierced by what appeared to be a beam of white light. Then the screams began.
Tira rushed onto the battlefield, realizing as she pounded her way across it that what was raining from the sky were fragments of sharp metal. The chain of command was disintegrating, and the assassins and targets alike were running about in abject panic. Some of the higher-ups dredged up the strength to call upon the secret art of the Bird of Passage-their souls fled their damaged and dying human bodies, to find refuge in the form of birds.
Abaddon turned toward her, bloodied and torn. His eyes blazed with the same sort of spirit-fire that he'd called upon in his attack, and even as she neared him, his lips formed the words of power to transport his soul.
"Nooooo!" Tira howled, ignoring the physical pain of the sharp, reddish metal fragments slicing up her skin. It was nothing, nothing at all compared to the horror and anguish of her mind. "Don't leave me! Abaddon! Don't leave me!"
The empty shell of his body fell, and she caught him. Shaking him hard, Tira screamed, "Abaddon! Please, Abaddon! Don't leave me!"
Stígandr Hrafn drags the still form of his foster daughter from the side of the dead bird and into the house. Her reactions, as usual, have both confused and frightened him; he once more questions his own wisdom in bringing the girl to his village. He turns to his wife, about to order her to take the teenager up to bed, when Tira's eyes snap open suddenly.
"Die," she rasps, snatching his hunting knife from his belt and cutting his throat open with it. Stígandr's last sight of this world was his foster daughter, drenched in the red stream of his lifeblood, kicking him away like a stray dog.
Vigdís shrieks and goes to her husband's side, only to find him already dead. Tira spins in place, raising the knife high. Her violent violet eyes stare into Vigdís's own wide, terrified ones, and she slams the blade up to the handle into the woman's heart. The girl moves quickly, almost supernaturally aware of the other presences in the room, and Cadence Back Kicks her foster brother, who has approached from behind, whirling his loaded sling.
Hákan falls back against the table, and Tira grabs the serving knife and two-pronged fork from the platter of the roast. Stabbing through each of his wrists, she pins him to the tabletop, snarling, "You killed Abaddon! I lost him once to that horrible rain, and now I've lost him forever!"
Before she continues with her tirade, the dark-haired teenager elbows Ragnborg, skewing the younger girl's aim. The stout branch she held strikes a glancing blow to Tira's shoulder, instead of the forceful one to the back of her head that Ragnborg intended. She grins at the youth who is sobbing and thrashing on the tabletop. "Be right back."
She leaps on Ragnborg, locking her hands around the girl's neck. "Bitch!" she yells, "You've had this coming for a long time!" As Ragnborg chokes and struggles, Tira laughs insanely, slamming her head against the floor and tightening the hold on her throat. In a few minutes, she rises, looks down at the bluish-faced corpse, and spits contemptuously. In the time that it has taken Tira to strangle his sister, Hákan has weakened from blood loss.
"You're...crazy..." he gasps. "It was...a bird! Worth...killing...your family for?"
Tira glares down at him without pity. "That bird held the spirit of my real family, you puffed-up, worthless fool. All of those ravens are my family! Not you! Not you pathetic weaklings!" She reaches above his head and twists the knife in his left wrist. Raising her voice above Hákan's screams, she continues, "Not one of you was ever kind to me! Not one of you ever tried to understand what I'd been through! It was so terrible that I tried to block it out of my mind! And not one of you cared...except Ragnfrid."
She looks now at the weaker twin sister, who stares down at the bodies of her parents and sister. Ragnfrid lifts her head once she realizes Tira's scrutiny. Tears are streaming down the girl's face. Tira takes them as tears of sympathy.
"Yes, Ragnfrid cared for me like a sister...a true sister. She's weak, so she loves me, but I can forgive that. I'll protect her. I'll take her away. Do you understand that?"
There is no reply. Furious, Tira screams, "I'm ordering you-answer me! Why don't you respond?"
Hákan stares up at his tormentor with glassy eyes. Dead eyes. Appeased by the sight, Tira giggles. "Silly of me. You're already dead." She walks to Ragnfrid's side and places both hands on the girl's shoulders. "Come on, Ragnfrid, let's get ready to leave this place."
"Leave? Oh, no, I couldn't. I must tend to Mother, and Father...I must warm Ragnborg, she looks so cold...so cold..." Ragnfrid's blue eyes stare blankly into Tira's face. "Cold as death..."
Tira feels an unexpected twinge of sorrow as she recognizes the madness in that stare. She never thought of how Ragnfrid might react to the deaths of her family, being so inured to the shock of murder herself.
"I'm sorry," Tira whispers, cradling Ragnfrid's red-gold head to her chest. "So sorry...little sister."
And the loud crack of shattering vertabrae fills the room, signaling the end of the Hrafn family.
After washing the blood from her body and hair, Tira finds her old possessions in a haversack beneath Ragnfrid's bed. She should have known that the sweet-natured girl would have kept such things, to surprise Tira with later. After changing into her original clothes, she rinses her hair in the chemical bath that will lighten it to platinum blonde, and selects the teal dye to color it with. Then she paints her eyes a smoky green, with a brighter green on her lips. Her fingers brush her pale cheek, as though wiping away a tear. But there are no tears there, and only a purple streak of paint is left behind.
She must next go to the blacksmith's. She has seen her weapons hanging in his back room, both her primary Aiselne Drossel and the secondary one that looked like Abaddon's. They will be useful. Because now she has a new mission.
Kill everyone who stands in her way.
Tror the blacksmith was the first casualty of Tira's rampage. He had dared to try to stop her from taking what was rightfully hers. So she gutted him on one of the spikes of her brass-and-silver ringblade. And then she stole his latest project: the weapon he'd made from studying her blades, the beautiful Bifrost. It had three triangular blades, like the Drossels, but each were shaped in a way to suggest winged horses, or angels' wings. And the inner part of it was like stained glass, all the colors of the mythological rainbow-bridge it was named for. Thus armed, she slew the whole Jotunheimen village.
They were the first, and they would not be the last to fall to the whims of Tira, who swept all the land with her black wings of death.
let the story sink in before you scroll to the name notes!
More Notes: 'Tira' is probably a respelling of "Tyra", which is Scandinavian. 'Tyra' is the feminine form of "Tyr", who was the Nordic god of war. "Abaddon" is a Biblical name meaning 'destruction, ruin' and was the name of the angel of the abyss in Revelations.
'Hrafn' means 'the raven' in old Norse; 'Stígandr' means 'the wanderer'; 'Vigdís' means 'war goddess'. 'Hákan' means 'high son', and was the name of seven kings of Norway. The daughters' names are Ragnborg (protection advice) and Ragnfrid (beautiful advice).
Read and review! Or you might get Tira mad!