falling through nightmare

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grey fox
Falling Through Nightmare

Chapter 1:


The monster stood on top of a cliff, gazing at the wooded valley below him. Sunlight from the afternoon sun lay bright on the lush green of the pine forest, and the cliff face (steep, but not so steep that an agile man couldn't make his way down) was scattered with green across it's brown and white rock face. A herd of mountain goats were busy eating their way up the mountain.

The monster took in none of this (except for possible ambush points, because one could never be too careful). His blue armor covered all his body except for his right arm. This latter was a hideous mutation, more a claw than a hand. In it, an enormous sword that resembled a meat cleaver was held, the tip resting on the ground. A single, bloated eye opened and shut seemingly at random, casting manic glances all around. The entire sword was a brownish color- the color of dried blood.

The face itself was mostly hidden by his helm, but out from the corners one could make out hair (hair that once, long ago, had been blonde and was now gray). Inside the helm burned twin coals of hellfire.

The monstrosity known as Nightmare was still, an aberration on an otherwise beautiful landscape. Although the figure was silent, in it's head a battle raged across a stormy darkness. The combatants were two minds, one the mind of the Soul Edge, the mind of Inferno. The other belonged to a human man-

a man named Siegfried.

*Damn you, Siegfried!* Inferno's voice, raspy and hellish, rang out in the darkness of Siegfried's tormented mind. The voice carried an undertone of madness that promised pain to those who crossed it. *Why will you not just die?*

Siegfried himself didn't know why either. All he knew was that he had a special place within his mind, a place Inferno couldn't touch. He had been given a chance, a chance to atone. He didn't know if a patricide like himself had any chance of redemption, but he had to try.

Siegfried knew, however, that whatever strange force had spared him, that it couldn't protect him outside his bastion. He retreated to it- in his mind's eye, it appeared to be his room in the fort his father had built, back before the taint of the Soul Edge had entered his mind. It was simply but lovingly furnished. A red four-post bed decorated the far corner, and the door he had just entered (that's the way it was in here- one moment he was a formless entity, the next he was in human form) was made of stout oak, with iron bracings. He heard Inferno's mind slam the door, but it held. It barely shook as Inferno vented his rage on it.

The room was stone like all the fort was (had been, Siegfried reminded himself) and chandeliers lit the walls. A dresser for his clothing was seated to the left of the door, and a rack of weapons and armor finished the decorations. On the rack lay Requiem, the sword he'd used when he thought he'd broken free. The sword he'd had when he'd met Ivy.

he bitterly thought to himself.

But, as helpless to stop it as a fawn is to stop the wolf, he was swept away in memory....


England. Land of the kings. A land that had recently come under some great trouble. A creature called Voldo (whom Siegfried had met once, as Nightmare) had taken up residence in an old castle, attempting to use the black magic of the castle's former owner to revive his master. Siegfried had went after him as soon as he heard. His quest to atone for his sins had carried him here.

He had been traveling from a small English town on a country road, watching the rolling hills of England pass by. It wasn't the forests of Germany, but it was still quite pretty. Requiem slung across his back, he had been enjoying the walk. Soon he came to a fork in the road. A young woman stood at the crossing, and from her dress (and the sword she carried) Siegfried thought that she was probably a mercenary. Her outfit was odd (and a little titillating, part of his mind added) but he could see how it would offer her freedom of movement, which would be very important to a smaller, weaker fighter. Siegfried himself was wearing his plate mail. He knew he was slow, and figured that he might as well take his licks.

When he got there, she turned towards his footsteps, right hand touching her sword. He put out one of his hands to ward off attack.

" Hold on, ma'am," he said, putting his right hand on Requiem's hilt just in case. The massive sword's weight shifted slightly as he moved it to a more comfortable and battle-ready position. " I'm not looking for a fight. And I'm honorable too, if you know what I mean."

She half-smirked at this, and her hand dropped from her sword's hilt- but not very far. " Yes, I quite understand," she spoke, her accent British. Her hair (which had looked white from afar but on closer inspection was light purple) swayed as she tilted her head. " Are you German?"

He nodded. Accents were wonderful for telling you who people were. " And you're British, correct?"

That half-smirk again. , Siegfried thought, . Wrenching his mind back with an effort, he asked what was on his mind.

" Are you heading after Voldo?" he said.

Instantly her face tightened and grew wary. Her hand, which had been drooping loosely at her side, jumped back to her sword hilt. " Maybe. What business is it of yours?"

Putting his hand out again, Siegfried continued. " I'm after him too. I was just asking. Not something to lose your temper over." He found himself getting angry with her. What the hell was she doing?

" Then if you're after him, you want the reward," she said, her eyes still wary (and, Siegfried noted with concern, her hand was still on her sword). " Right?"

Siegfried nodded. Even though atonement was his main concern, he did have to eat. He decided on a half-truth to put her mind to rest. " Yeah. But that's not the only reason. I want him dead for personal reasons."

Ivy nodded. Revenge was quite common in this world. " I'm after the reward as well. But, like you, I have... personal business with him."

Siegfried, working on an impulse, said the first thing to hit his mind. " What if we join up?"

She looked at him from the corner of her eye, her face partially turned away. Siegfried noted that, although still wary, she had relaxed somewhat.

" What about the reward?"

Siegfried shrugged. " I just need enough to eat on. Hell, let me have a quarter of the reward and I'll be fine. Besides, if he really is dabbling in black magic, it's not going to be pleasant for a single person, is it?"

Another half-smirk. " No, probably not. I'm an Alchemist, but even so, I don't like dealing with magic."

Siegfried raised an eyebrow. " Alchemist?"

Ivy nodded, and he saw something light up in her eyes. She apparently liked this topic. " Alchemists like myself seek to merge the two greatest Disciplines of this world- Science on one hand, and Psi on the other. We seek to make them meet as one. My sword itself is a creation of alchemy." She demonstrated by pulling the sword out, and then snapping it. The blade flew apart into segmented links and sliced into a tree several feet away, causing sap to ooze out of the cut. The links remade a sword as she snapped it back. Siegfried was impressed, and she must have seen it on his face, because a small smile came onto her face. " It's my own little masterpiece. I call it the Snake Sword."

He nodded his head. " Damn. That is something. I'm not much myself, just a hungry mercenary." And that was true. Neither Science, the study of the material world, nor Psi, the study of the mind and what realities it could create, were his strong suit.

She shrugged. " It takes all kinds. What's your name?"

" Siegfried," he said.

" My name's Ivy," she replied. Suddenly hit with a bout of shyness, she said, " Uh... this is embarassing, but do you know which way to go?"

Chuckling, he nodded. " Yeah. This way." He pointed towards the left path.

They walked down the path together, talking of where they were from, what they were hoping to do...


Siegfried snapped out of the memories of his time with Ivy. It had seemed like eternity- all spring and light and warmth, a burning brand against the dark, a stand in the rain.

He shook his head to clear it. It was over now, and that was for the better. Inferno hated him, and he would kill Ivy in a heartbeat just to get back at Siegfried for existing within his mind, like a cancer.

Siegfried supposed he could complain that it was over (and rant and rave at all creation while he was at it) but for some reason he couldn't. He was simply happy he had been able to experience it, even if for only a little while.

He looked up, from his sitting position on the bed. If for nothing else, he had to stop this monster for her. For Ivy.

He stood up. He couldn't do much but slow him down, but by God, he meant to slow him down all he could. Sophitia and Kilik were behind him and Inferno, and if they caught up they could kill Inferno in his physical form as Nightmare. That it would kill Siegfried was probable, but he didn't care. If he did die, it would be an atonement for his sins, many as they were.

he thought as he opened the door and hurled his consciousness against the gestalt of evil that was Inferno.

On the mountain, the figure of Nightmare stopped once more.

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