Written as a treat for Hokuto in 2009 Yuletide Madness.
Soul Calibur. Voldo/Vercci. R. ~650 words.
He will guard the Soul Edge as he had guarded the Pit’s vast treasure: faithfully and without mercy.
Neither Eyes Nor Words
In the perpetual dark of the underground, Voldo listens to the sound of his own breathing. It echoes back at him from the cavernous stone walls to buffet the exposed skin of his limbs and surround him in a hurricane of whispers like ragged cotton, a living shroud of nothingness. Somewhere in the madness he can still hear his master’s voice. He strains to catch the wisps of it, the sweet lulling words that hide amongst the ruins of his breath.
He has found the sword again. Always he has learned from his mistakes, no matter the cost. Briefly he touches the narrow striping scars near his spine, the marks so faded now as to be nearly invisible. He is wiser, stronger, and he has been ruthless in his hunt. This sword is no weak imitation. This cruel weapon is the true blade his master sought and it hums like a living thing itself, power dripping off the thirsty razor gleam of it.
Protect it, he has been bidden, and for the first time since his eyes were sewn shut, he had been blessed with a vision that was more than just the memory of sight. Whole and vibrant, almost too bright to gaze upon, Vercci came to him. An illusion crafted as if living, and garbed in the gems and finery Voldo remembered so well, Vercci had praised him for his service.
Voldo opens his mouth on a hiss that pretends itself a moan. The broken sound of it disrupts the chamber’s rhythmic echoes and he falls again to silence, fingers once more tracing the fine pattern of scars on his body. Some had been made by Vercci himself, most by the biting blades of his foes, but all of them had been in his master’s service. He bites his lip bloody, licks the taste of it and twists around himself, muscles stretching to fold his bones into a seemingly impossible shape.
Manas and Ayas gripped in his hands, the twin blades scrape on the stone, kicking up sparks that he can feel in the instant before they die. He balances on the katars’ needle tips and hears the word beautiful amongst the clamouring silence of this place. He curves his spine just that much more, his body protesting the strain, and yet he holds it, the sharp hurt of his organs unable to contest with the glorious pain of his master’s voice. For now it is all he can do to prostrate himself for the memory of his master, but one day he will dance for Vercci again. He will move like water and wind, his entire being an invitation that his master will laud for its grace and sweet, unyielding embrace.
After long minutes holding his body in the most complicated of knots, Voldo unwinds. He lays flat on the cold stone and goes still, slowing his breathing to once more become as perfect as the tick of a clock.
Within reach, the presence of his master’s prize writhes fitfully as a shadow cast by flame. Someone is coming, it seems to say, and Voldo knows to heed the warning. He will find his silence afterward, when Manas and Ayas have had their dance and the Soul Edge is darkly triumphant.
He rises to turn his sightless gaze towards the faintest disturbance in the dead air. His laugh is the grinding rasp of ancient bones. He twirls lazily, gauges the ricochet of sound for what doesn’t belong.
He will guard the Soul Edge as he had guarded the Pit’s vast treasure: faithfully and without mercy. Whomever he finds to carry on his task when his body rots beyond his will shall share that faith or he will sense their falseness. He needs neither eyes nor words nor life in his veins to do his duty.
Come and fight, he challenges with the hard strike of his katars against the ground. Come and die for my master’s pleasure.