Knocked a quick one off in half an hour. Nice change of pace from recent ones. _____ "For you, my sister... your quest is almost fulfilled." Cassandra laid Soul Edge on the altar. She would begin praying to Hephaestus, and the sword would finally be destroyed. Soul Edge's evil would be erased for good. Lost in prayer, she did not hear her niece, Pyrrha, approaching behind her. Tira had told her that Cassandra was plotting her death, and to save herself, she had to strike first. Pyrrha agreed immediately to kill her, not knowing Cassandra was her aunt. She detested fighting, so she figured the best way to do it was without a confrontation. "Hephaestus.. please lend your energy to destroy this evil sword. The stain of evil left on this world ulggk-" a sword blade blossomed forth from Cassandra's chest, coated with her blood. She tried to speak, but blood filled her mouth and spilled out from it. The blade was withdrawn from her. Cassandra weakly turned to see her attacker. She recognized Pyrrha, but could not tell her of the extreme magnitude of mistake she had just made. She fell to her knees, clutching her throat, uselessly trying to stop the bleeding. The light in Cassandra's eyes dimmed and then went out, and she fell to the stone floor, blood spreading from under her. Forgive me, Sophitia... Hephaestus... I was so, so close... A light blue light appeared above Soul Edge, growing in intensity. Pyrrha sprang into action, snatching up the sword a split second before the light struck down, which would surely have spelled the end of Soul Edge. Pyrrha held the sword by the handle. It threatened to consume her, to overwhelm and devour her mind. She had to return it to Tira immediately. But why would she want something like this? Pyrrha thought to herself. Well. She must have a reason. She will be pleased with me... Pyrrha set out quickly to return to Tira, having to consciously will herself not to give in to the temptations and demands of Soul Edge's energy, a feat made even more impressive because of the evil embedded in her very being. Her whole life had been a constant struggle. For someone who disliked fighting as she did, she had done enough of it in her life, most of it being an internal strife. She walked for hours without stopping to reach Tira. She dared not stop to rest, with Soul Edge constantly tugging on her mind, attempting to peel back even just a small corner to slip through and overtake her. When she finally reached Tira, she threw the sword down. It landed with a thud on the grass. Tira was too impressed to be annoyed by the presentation of the sword, which she had been prepared to reprimand Pyrrha for if not delivered into her hands. "You have recovered it in time?" "Barely. She had it on an altar, and was praying. I... I killed her. I stabbed her through the throat, and she died. A blue light appeared above the altar, and I grabbed the sword... the light struck the altar, it would surely have destroyed the sword." Tira grinned widely. "You have done well, Pyrrha. Present it to me." Pyrrha paused. "I.. I'm sorry.. I cannot. It was all I could do to fight off the influence Soul Edge tried to exert over me. I... I cannot touch the sword any longer." Tira nodded. "It's quite all right. I understand." Tira gave Pyrrha a quick peck on the cheek. Pyrrha smiled. That was how she knew Tira was pleased. Tira took up her bladed hula hoop. "You've done very well, Pyrrha Alexandra. Very well indeed." Pyrrha smiled wider. "However, I no longer require your services..." Pyrrha looked confused. "But I... what?" Tira swept Pyrrha's legs out from under her, pushing her forward. She smacked off the ground with her face, stunning her. Tira put the inside blade of her hula hoop against Pyrrha's throat. "Say hello to the aunt of yours you just killed. If you make it to your afterlife with all that evil of yours, anyway." "My... my aunt? Cassandra was my aunt?? You had me kill her! Tira, no, don't do this! I can-" Tira pulled on the hula hoop, at the same time stepping on the back of Pyrrha's head. The bladed hoop was yanked three quarters of the way through her neck, killing her instantly, even before she could feel the pain. Pyrrha's cursed blood poured out of her throat like water being emptied from a canteen, washing through the grass. Her evil blood caused the grass it came into contact with to wither and die, and any place her blood touched the earth would never bear growth again. Tira smiled wickedly. She gave another hard pull on the hoop, cutting through the bones in Pyrrha's neck that had stopped the hoop's journey the first time. Pyrrha's head came free. She stooped over and picked up Pyrrha's decapitated head by a handful of hair. She looked at it. Pyrrha's eyes were still open, having died suddenly. She closed them with her fingers. Then Tira gave her decapitated head another kiss on the cheek, and with a cruel smile, tossed her head by her body. A large patch of grass had already withered and died around where Pyrrha lay slain, her contaminated poisoned blood robbing the earth of good where it touched. Tira picked up Soul Edge. Soul Edge did not have to fight Tira to take her over. A new nightmare was about to be unleashed.