I have fairly decent writing skills, I'm going to make this completely up as I go and see what happens. I know it could use work, better explanations and cleaning up, that's what you get when you "stream of consciousness" something. Raw material. Also fixed the topic title to not make me look like an illiterate boob. I contemplated having Cassandra die, and writing a whole different ending, but I generally prefer the "everything is all right in the end" thing. Also, yes, I wrote a lot more than I intended. I always do that. ____________________ "Hephaestus... why will you not answer my calls?" It was no use. Ever since a shard of Soul Edge had found home in her stomach, Sophitia had not been contacted by the Gods as she used to. She was no longer pure of heart, the evil contained within Soul Edge had tainted her. For years she had remained committed to her prayers, hoping against hope that Hephaestus would change his mind and accept her back into the fold of The Anointed. However, for years, all she had received in return was stone silence. She may as well have been speaking to a wall. That would have been bad enough, but then on top of that, Soul Edge's evil had been growing. She had been finding herself unaware of passing time on rare occasions. At first these intervals were short; a few seconds. As the evil grew, she found herself unaware of the passage of minutes at a time, and once she had lost a whole hour. When she regained her senses, her kitchen had been destroyed and Cassandra was all but choking her in an effort to restrain her. She had been baking bread, which was the last thing she remembered. The next was Cassandra restraining her in the middle of a lot of obliterated pottery. Cassandra had relayed to her what had happened: She heard the smash of the large pottery bowl, had come to see what had happened, and had just managed to duck a flying plate. Sophitia smashed a few more dishes before Cassandra had managed to grab a hold of one of her arms, twist her around and hold her in place, all the while Sophitia was screaming obscenities. Her children were afraid for her safety, but Cassandra had assured them it would be alright in a while. Sophitia never knew when these attacks would come. Once she went blank three times in a week. Then not for a year. Then once. On and off again. And the severity was increasing. "Hey Sis! How was today?" "Same as usual. No contact again. I suppose I should know better by now." There was a slight tinge of bitterness in her voice she couldn't hide. "Well, you ARE my sister. I'm pretty sure I know you, and I know your faith is unwavering. Stay strong." Cassandra reassured Sophitia. "I know, it's just that... I have these blank-outs, and I never know what I do while I'm... not here. All I know is it's bad things. And Hephaestus won't talk to me and guide me..." "Well... I guess what I would do is forge my own path, if the Gods won't lay one out for me. I don't know if that helps any. I just want you to be happy..." Cassandra continued speaking, but the voice was getting fuzzy, distant. Then it snapped back into focus. "...not the end-all and be-all of the world. Faith is what you make of it." "Cassandra, can I tell you something?" asked Sophitia. There was a hint of an unnatural echo around her voice Cassandra didn't catch. "Of course". "You talk too damned much." And pivoting around, she threw a superkick that caught Cassandra squarely in the jaw, snapping her head back from the unexpected impact. "Ungh!" grunted Cassandra as she hit the floor, unprepared. Her head bounced off the stone floor, and she momentarily saw a lightning bolt in her field of vision. She recovered quickly enough to avoid a stomp that would surely have caused a lot of damage. Scrambling to her feet, Cassandra shouted "What are you doing?!" then she saw the red glow in Sophitia's eyes, getting brighter. Soul Edge was exerting its influence again. Cassandra had to be careful: Soul Edge may be using her as a puppet, but it was still her sister. Any harm that came to Sophitia would be done to her, not Soul Edge. Sophitia, on the other hand, had no control over her actions, and as such, Soul Edge cared not so much about sparing or not harming people. Cassandra and Sophitia circled for a while, Cassandra trying to reason her down. She knew it was fruitless, but it was her nature. "Sophitia, you're not yourself. You're going to regret doing something bad when you snap out of this. Now, I don't want to hurt you, but if you don't leave me any choice..." "Believe me," said Sophitia, the evil echo in her voice noticeable by now. "It isn't her you should be worried about. One of us will not walk away from this. And I have no intention of losing this puppet. She is far too much of a crown jewel. It's been a long time, but I have finally worn her down and she is now mine. Do you have any idea how much of a struggle it's been to wear down an Anointed? If you don't do what you have to to defend yourself, then this will be your last day." Sophitia, or her body at least, darted in for a punch to the jaw, but Cassandra blocked it and instinctively fired back, catching Sophitia in the nose. Sophitia reeled back two steps. "Sophitia, I don't want to do this. But I can hope you will forgive me when you come out of this." Sophitia examined her nose. A small amount of blood, but not broken. "Clearly, girl, I have underestimated you. I won't do so again." The echo was getting stronger, and less like Sophitia's voice. Cassandra started to pray in her mind to Hephaestus. "Please Hephaestus, I beg you. Please help my sister become an Anointed again. Please dispel the evil in her. Why has it gotten to this point?" Concentrating on her prayer, she didn't notice the attack coming from Sophitia. A kick to the stomach doubled her over. "Ough!" Cassandra wheezed, as the air was forcibly removed from her lungs by the blow. Sophitia spun, catching Cassandra in the face with a spinning backfist to the jaw. Cassandra's head whipped to the side, but she stayed on her feet. A small bruise started to form under her left eye. Sophitia incorrectly assumed she had done more damage than she had, and as a result caught a right cross on her way in for another attack, followed by a body shot. Trying to protect her ribs left her face open, and she took a left hook for her trouble. "Ungh" grunted Sophitia. "You fight better than you look like you do. Maybe you are not so weak... perhaps I could another such as Sophitia... perhaps..." The thought was left unfinished as Cassandra faked with a low kick and used the opportunity to land a hard knee to the stomach. "Urrgh!" groaned Sophitia as she took two steps back. "Yes... you are worthy... you... aughaga!" Sophitia clutched at her head as a white light fought with the red one for purchase, producing a lurid pink. Cassandra watched with a mix of horror and concern. "Wh... what's happening?" The thought was answered in her mind: "My child, I am attempting to fight the influence of Soul Edge, but the evil has manifested itself almost fully. It will be difficult to fight Soul Edge. Please continue to be wary." The lights continued to vie for dominance for a minute or two. Gradually, the red light in Sophitia's eyes began to burn brighter. "So... Hepaestus finally decides to intervene. Where were you years ago?! Where were you when I prayed for your intervention? Why have you let me get to this point? Why have you done nothing except watch my mental constitution degrade over time? And now, NOW, you decide you're going to help? Well, I have decided I do not want your help!" Cassandra could not be sure if this was Soul Edge or Sophitia talking. Cassandra decided to take a risk and approach Sophitia. However, in all the thrashing, Sophitia had made her way over to the armoury. When Cassandra went to check on Sophitia, Sophitia had grabbed a shield unknown to Cassandra. When Cassandra got close, Sophitia whirled around and drilled it into Cassandra's head. "mmmmnn..." she groaned. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she dropped to her knees. Attempting to shake it off, she stood back up only to receive another blow to the head with it. "Ahhnn.." she fell over backwards, striking her head off the table. Bolts of light danced through her vision. Sophitia kneeled over Cassandra, and began punching her in the face and head, over and over. Hooks, crosses, straight punches. It was all Cassandra could do to stay conscious. One blow caught her in the eye, breaking the orbital bone. Finally, Sophitia relented on the attack. Cassandra lay limp, trying to focus her sight through the blinding pain and the concussion she had. Everything sounded like it was under water. She saw triple. Sophitia produced a hidden knife, and in one swift motion, stabbed Cassandra in the chest with it. "Aunh..." Cassandra tried to scream, but didn't have the energy. Blood began to ooze around the knife. Sophitia didn't remove it, fortunately for Cassandra, as the blade acted as a plug for most of the blood. Had it been removed, she would easily have been in more danger of bleeding to death. "... and now.. done with... will finish.." Cassandra could only catch bits and pieces of whatever Sophitia was saying, or taunting her with. She felt Sophitia prop her into a sitting position, blood dripping onto her legs and the floor, but could do nothing to fight back, the cold steel of the blade still in her chest, resting up against the wall of her heart. One millimeter to the left and she would have been dead. With Cassandra unable to defend herself, Sophitia slipped her left arm arm under her neck and clasped her right bicep. She put her other arm behind Cassandra's head, and began to choke her. Cassandra began to gurgle, half from the choke and half from the stab wound. Blood was dripping from the knife onto her legs and the floor. Cassandra's field of vision played havok with her, getting fuzzy, seeing multiples, and she was unable to breathe. She started to feel cold despite the heat. "Hephaestus... please don't let it end like this..." Sophitia continued to choke Cassandra. Cassandra's eyes slowly began to cross, she was turning purple in the face, and then they rolled into the back of her head. She shuddered as her lungs tried to force air into them, to no avail. Another shudder, more fierce. Then she went limp in Sophitia's chokehold. At that moment, the white light reappeared, more fierce than ever. Sophitia immediately relinquished the chokehold, dropping Cassandra to the floor. Clutching her skull, she screamed, half in pain, half in rage. "Hephaestus! No! You and the Gods will pay for this! AUNGH!! I will not give the girl up! You will have to fight me for her!" And the red light started growing in intensity. Sophitia was now a vessel for both forces, speaking in two voices, conversing with herself in the physical world, neither of them hers. "She is my daughter, and it was wrong of me to turn my back on her. I will help her become a pure Anointed again!" Hephaestus spoke through Sophitia. This time the white light shone through. "No! I have worked too hard to get to this point. I will not let you do this!" The red light in her eyes returned. "I am not perfect, I have made mistakes. But Sophitia is my daughter, and she is one of my Anointed. You have no claim to her!" as the white light returned. The bizarre supernatural argument being waged through the human woman continued. The two forces continued to try to dominate one another. Cassandra weakly opened her eyes, then began to sputter and cough. What had happened? She felt weak and cold, and appeared to be lying on the stone floor of the temple of worship. Managing to come to just enough to take in the scene, she could see what looked to her like a supernatural battle taking place. Anybody else would just have seen a woman acting crazy, but with Cassandra's connection to the Gods, she could see what others could not. She began to pray, to add her strength to the battle. Concentrating hard, she willed Sophitia to fight off the evil of Soul Edge once and for all. It was now or never... If they failed here, Sophitia would be lost forever. Gradually, the scarlet light in Sophitia's eyes became a rose colour... then pink. It was working! Cassandra redoubled her prayers, and Hephaestus drew on it to combine with his power. The light became glassy looking... and then suddenly both lights were gone. Sophitia dropped to her hands and knees, panting. Cassandra tried to do everything she could to get up, but her concussion and loss of blood wouldn't let her. She moaned weakly and laid back on the stone. She was cold, so cold... and tired.. "It is over," Hephaestus communicated to Cassandra. "She has been purified of the evil. The shard of Soul Edge is gone. I will accept her as my daughter again." Sophitia stood up, completely unaware of everything that had just happened. She surveyed the situation; The temple was a mess. Torn tapestries. Armoury weapons scattered all about. Tables overturned. What had gone on? What had she done? "This is terrible", she thought. "I will never be forgiven for this." And then she saw Cassandra. "No!!" she screamed, and ran over to her sister. "Cassandra, what happened?? Are you all right? Speak to me! Say something! Please! Anything!" She cradled Cassandra in her arms. "unh... So... Sophitia... are you alright..?" "Forget me, what happened to you?? Did I..." "... in a sense. It was Soul Edge... you were... taken over again... almost... lost you for good... Hephaestus.. answered my prayers..." she coughed and choked, then belched up a mouthful of blood. "Did I do this to you?" Sophitia asked. "Yes... but... I forgive you... it wasn't.. your fault... I'm cold, sister..." "Hephaestus!" Sophitia called out. "If ever there was a time I needed you, it is now! Please answer my prayer! Please save my sister's life! Even just a fraction of your power so that she doesn't die. Please! She did not deserve this!" And holding Cassandra, Sophitia began to cry. A blue cloud of thin fog descended from the ceiling. "It is true. She did not deserve the harm that has come to her. It is not out of my power to undo it. Please remove the knife from Cassandra." Sophitia looked at Cassandra. This... uh, might hurt." Cassandra weakly smiled back, "Don't worry about that. I lost the ability to feel pain after my head hit the floor for the eighth time." Sophitia removed the knife. Blood began to quickly flow from the wound, but the fog descended upon the sisters. Immediately the bruises began to recede, the cuts stitched themselves closed, blood stopped flowing out of Cassandra's wound as it too knit itself over. Cassandra stopped seeing flashes of light, and fuzzy triples, and regained her proper hearing. "It is now over. Cassandra, your wounds have all healed. Sophitia, you are again pure of heart. I promise you, I will not abandon you again. It was a shameful act to have done so, one which I can only hope one day to make up to you in some way." "You already have, Hephaestus. You've given me my self back, my life back... and my sister." Cassandra stood up, none the worse for wear. Stiff muscles at the worst, nothing a nice stretch couldn't take care of. "Thank you, Hephaestus. For everything." Cassandra said. And then the sisters were alone in the armoury. "Thank the Gods you are back, Sophitia. We... we almost lost you for good." "I am so very sorry for what I did you do, Cassandra. To think that I did such a thing..." "No, you didn't do it. Soul Edge did. But that will never happen again, so don't even give it a second thought. Of course you're forgiven. Now... it's time to go home."