Saix and his prey, fighting in the domain of the void. Spoilers for KH2. No blood but lots of violence.
The Dark Corridor was a maze of twists, turns, and hidden pockets; and as he had proven during the events of Castle Oblivion, Axel's skill at trickery and deceit was unparalleled in the Organization. Had it not been for the unpredicted exterior element, Saix was not entirely certain that even time and his relentless hunt could have pinned down his prey.
He had set the trap, and succeeded. It was a simple matter of cause and effect; even if he was uncertain as to why the girl mattered so much to Axel, the fact that she did pared the equation down to a simple line.
They weren't human and didn't bleed, and even their uniform black cloaks were formed out of the same essence of the void that their material bodies had become. Which was a pity: the struggle for survival was on some levels sacred, and there was just something missing without the color of blood.
Both were too experienced to give in to child's play, and there was no sound so bright as the sharp retort of clashing steel. The thin rings of Axel's weapons were not made to deflect something as heavy as the greatsword, and Saix would never make the mistake of allowing his single weapon to be locked down when his opponent wielded two.
The size and weight of his sword made it as effective a shield as sword, and he suffered himself to be moved by its momentum as much as he moved it. The wide blade could block anything short of a full-on assault with ease, and failing such an attack would cost Axel dearly. Instead of the usual flurry of attacks, Axel dealt quick, glancing blows, never committing himself fully into each motion, while Saix dodged carefully, his movements as conservative as Axel was extravagant.
When Axel withdrew, Saix did not press the opening, knowing it to be a feint. Despite appearances, he knew better than to assume a lack of control in his opponent's lazy, seemingly random steps. Attempting to hit Axel without a certain opportunity was like trying to catch the wind, and he would not waste his energy with no promise of return. Beneath his skin the fury of war raged, demanding release, but to do so would play straight into his opponent's hands; the swift, unreadable movements of Axel's chosen style were not something that Saix could follow even with the heightened reflexes of his battle rage, and allowing instinct to override reason would only bring unnecessary risk. Saix had nothing to gain from hastening the conclusion of their duel. Quite the opposite: with their respective advantages cancelled, it came down to a trial of endurance, in which between berserker and assassin there was no contest. The victor had been decided as soon as the chase was over, so why did his opponent stand and fight?
For timeless moments they danced beneath the not-moon in a liquid pantomime, punctuated by the click of footsteps on the hard floor, wordless breaths, and the thin scrape of metal when their weapons briefly touched. As time flowed past, unmarked, the sixth sense that served Saix so well in his confrontations told him that perhaps it was time, even if his opponent was too experienced to obviously falter.
Testing for signs of exhaustion, Saix swung his sword around at head height; even though there was not much force behind the blow, it forced Axel to duck. He rolled beneath the path of the blade, and whipped his arm around as he rose, snapping his weapon into flight. The flash of flame tore past the side of his head, which Saix ignored as the distraction it was, and then the other chakram rolled upwards towards his shoulder in a vertical trail of heat and light.
Rather than backing away, Saix dashed forward in a half-turn, closing the distance in a flash and bringing himself through his opponent's ideal range, robe whipping out behind him in a poor attempt to follow his momentum. The edge of the spiked wheel tore a line of black ink across the edge of the dark fabric as Axel hastily spun away, a fraction of a second too slow.
It was all the opportunity that Saix needed. The coiled rage burst forth in a whirlwind of force as he brought his sword around in a tight arc. He heard the crunch of bone as he slammed the blade into Axel's chest and used the forward momentum of his charge to drive them both across the room, lips curled in a wordless snarl. The nameless white substance of the castle grated and gave way beneath the impact of the sword point, pinning Axel to the wall.
They could not feel emotion, but physical sensation was hardly alien to their existence. Green eyes hazed with pain glared back at him as Axel attempted belatedly to reverse the trail of his weapon - in vain, as Saix caught the too-thin wrist and slammed hand and weapon against the wall above Axel's head.
See how we've transcended, Saix wanted to say. How that which is deadly to mortals cannot destroy us.
Fury and blood, carefully channeled and controlled, roared in his ears. He could see that taunting spark of something, trapped but fluttering as a butterfly under glass, and reached out - whether to grasp it, or rip it away, he was uncertain.
With his senses heightened by the battle rage, Saix felt rather than saw the closing heat of firelight from the weapon behind him, returning in a graceful arc towards its master. The spiked wheel narrowly missed hitting him full in the back. Instead, it caught his arm as he spun away from its path, and he watched, briefly, flesh and bone tear and melt in the heat before the illusion of life fizzled back into nothingness.
The heavy sword thudded to the floor as Axel pulled himself free, and rolling into a defensive crouch, Saix called his weapon to his hand and surveyed his opponent from across the room.
The energy Axel had expended in his string of battles, and then traversing the Dark Corridor - searching for Roxas, searching for Kairi, avoiding Saix's pursuit - had finally taken its toll. His breath came in ragged gasps as he staggered against the wall, and the gash in his chest was only slowly beginning to mend.
You were the best of us. In a conflict without boundaries of both cunning and might you destroyed three of our number and survived with none the wiser. When did you become so weak?
Reluctant to break the flow of battle but somehow unable to help himself, Saix finally spoke. "Why, Axel? What could possibly be worth this? We walked as gods."
". . . yeah. But we used to be people, too. When did we forget?" Axel smiled, not his usual self-satisfied smirk but a wistful, resigned expression with which Saix was completely unfamiliar. Once again the berserker's domain of stillness and absolutes rippled with an element of uncertainty.
The momentary distraction cost him. Too late he noticed the familiar tendrils of the Dark Corridor rise from the shadows, as Axel stepped - fell - backwards and disappeared from sight.
The crimson rage within howled at being denied the kill, but Saix forced it down with the unbreakable will of a god. He was familiar enough with the properties of their existence that he knew it to be pointless: after the damage he had inflicted, Axel would be gone in a matter of hours. It was insignificant, then, if the traitor wished to find a different place to die. Slowly, the tingling energy of the hunt began to fade as he channeled it towards a more useful end.
Almost absentmindedly, Saix re-formed his arm from the shards of the void, skin, flesh, and the cloth of his robe exactly as before. As much as he desired to deny it, the encounter had unsettled him, that spark of something that seemed to slide from torch to tinder with disconcerting ease. Saix turned, and walked through shadows to the familiar silence of his domain.
The sombre, clear arena of mist and shadows was peaceful and empty as always. Beyond the balcony was the not-moon on high, pale yellow and clear, like the pure brilliance of the boy hero, and the soft warm glow of the trapped princess. Like the glimmer of twilight in what had been the youngest of their order, and the last embers of the dying flame. Had it been a night such as this, when he had first surveyed the halls of his kingdom and heard the voice of a god?
Saix stood beneath the illumination of the not-moon, gazing up at its filling heart, and finally the question that he had not thought to ask came to him.
Was this your light?