There he is, standing center. Waiting for me.

"I came alone, as instructed."

He doesn't make any response, save for a slight smile. A gust of wind whirls the dust between us, lifts up the tails of his long coat.

"So, let her go." A metallic whisper rings through the air as I draw my blade. "She has nothing to do with this." The sky rumbles grey overhead.

"My, my, my." His fedora's tilted over his eyes. "You must care so much. For her."

A flash of lightning. "Where is she?" I growl.

"Well, you took so long getting here." Low laughter.

I clench my sword. No, Ven. The psychic butterfly floats by my ear. Don't you see? He's trying to provoke you. I swat it away. "Where is she?" I charge at him, to wipe that smug grin off his face.

But, by the time I reach him, he's no longer there. I come to a sudden stop.

"Don't expect this to go like last time."

I look up, as he comes hurtling down. I barely bring my sword up in time to meet him. Such a thin blade against mine, one would think it would merely shatter. But, sparks fly in the air, and the impact nearly makes my arms numb. For a moment, his crazy smile presses close to me. Then, with a sudden movement, he leaps away.

"Oh, Venatius. Still holding back?" He tilts his head. "You must not hold back." A thin blue aura surrounds him, and his blade. It looks different, somehow. With an outburst of laughter, he comes at me again.

It's getting steadily darker, as clouds gather, but the clashing swords create more than enough light to see. It's absolutely insane how many attacks he's able to get off, in such a short period of time. Red and blue sparks dance in the air around us. I have to focus solely on blocking him. Strangely, he doesn't tire. All of a sudden, I think I see an opening and go for it.

A bite on my shoulder, as I fall back. He throws off his hat. A line of blood under his right eye. And his eyes.

No, it can't be. I glance at my shoulder. Good. It's only superficial. I grip my sword again.

Stop this! The psychic butterfly hovers between us. What madness has it come to, that two heaven's knights must fight like this?

A moment's pause. He lifts his hand, and a blue line of light passes through the butterfly. It explodes with a shriek of agony, into shards of pink. Sorry, Shelley.

Thunder booms in the silence. Blood falls down his face, and he licks it off.


And the sky opens up as we come together once again.

I deflect his first blow to my head. He's going for the kill, I can tell. I can't keep this up much longer. He's fast, much faster than I've ever seen before. The rain drenches us, red and blue almost blend together. And in a sudden flash of lightning, I can see for certain. His eyes.

"How could you?" I scream at him. He just laughs crazily, and renews his attacks.

I have to end this now. I let him hit me for a while, only defending the vital spots. While I gather my internal energy. The cuts accumulate, on my arms and body. But finally, it's ready. Red fire consumes me, incinerating the raindrops around us. The look on his face. With an inarticulate roar I lift my blade for the final blow.

The feeling of impact, and something flying through the air. It crashes to the ground, raising a cloud of dust the rain soon disperses. I approach the crater. Is it over?

Low laughter. He stands there, in the rain. "Still holding back." He looks bad, a gaping wound where I hit him in the chest, his fair hair almost completely soaked with blood. "What must I do? To stop you. From holding back." He collapses to a kneeling position, leaning on his sword.

"Vincent." I slide down next to him. "That's enough. Let's stop this. Now." He turns and looks up at me for a long moment. His eyes. The rain falls around us, softly. He looks down.

"Wreak havoc," he whispers.

No. Chills raise up my spine. Please, don't do this.

"Wreak havoc," he continues, "Cry havoc." Streaks of white light illuminate his blue. "Cry havoc." It consumes him. "Cry havoc. And unleash the dogs of War."

I jump to the edge of the crater, as a column of iridescence erupts in front of me. And gradually starts to change form.

Must I use this? The Rune weighs heavy on my neck. Must I use this? I stare up at It, in terror. Must I use this? Its eye suddenly shoots open, and It turns to look at me. A rainbow myriad, intangible, indescribable. If I look for a second longer, I will surely be lost. Slowly, I close my eyes.

I'm sorry. For a moment, I see her face. I'm sorry, Ariadne.

I smash the Rune.