Valhalla Chapter 3


By Chocobo Goddess

The sun beat down on the arena. Fighters who waited their turns lounged in the stands, soaking up the heat. They were a motley bunch: men, beast-men, birds, intelligent beasts. They wore chainmail, plate, or leather armor; bronze swords clinked against gunblades and lasers. Cloaks, trenchcoats, furs lay beneath some of them, SOLDIERs and SEEDs, knights and gladiators mingled in groups of two or three, sharing war stories. They talked lazily, half-watching the sparring going on beneath them.

Sephiroth never joined these men. He waited to appear until someone was foolish enough to try their luck and fight him; he had beaten them all. This afforded him the deep respect of all the fighters, but also meant that they viewed him with awe. It is very difficult to be friends with someone who worships you.

Not that he minded, he was used to being alone.

He strolled through the cool, shadowy gallery, idly watching the two men in the arena. He always looked for those with unique traits, or those who had potential to become better than they were. The fact that the worlds overlapped made for some very interesting training possibilities. However, no one sparked his notice at the moment.

Except, perhaps, for that boy. Sora.

It had been several days since he’d last fought the boy. No more than a child, but he had…something. A determination, perhaps, or a strength of heart…Sephiroth shook his head, hair rippling. Perhaps he was trying to justify the boy’s ability to wound him. It was probably no more than luck.

"Something on your mind, Sephiroth?" a voice asked from behind him, humor evident in its tone.

He turned to see the healer coming from the stillroom, a basket of herbs and fresh bandages under her arm. She smiled at him.

He frowned. "It’s none of your business, Healer," he said coldly.

"Fine, forget I asked." She craned her neck a bit. "How is the wing doing?"

"It is well." He tried to turn away, but she had reached out to touch it, expert fingers moving the feathers gently to check for swelling or remaining injury. Outraged, he nearly dragged it away, then remembered just in time how much that had hurt before. Clenching his teeth, he said, "Good gods, woman, can’t you keep your hands to yourself?"

"Oh, stop it. This is my job. You never came back afterward, so I haven’t had time to see if the pinions set right." She grunted as one of them hit her in the nose. "And I have a name, you know."

"Not that it matters. The wing is healed, you did your job. Now kindly unhand it, so I may continue on my way."

"It does matter, you great lummox! Or would you rather get injured again, and let it heal crookedly? Or not at all?" She batted him on the shoulder. Sephiroth glared down at her, ready to retaliate, when Hercules came around the corner.

"Oh, great, Ellie, listen, one of the guys got himself banged up pretty bad. Can you help?" He seemed to notice the tension between her and Sephiroth, and his voice faded on the last few words.

The woman nodded, releasing Sephiroth’s wing in disgust. "Sure, Herc. I’ll be right there." She spun on her heel and marched away, toward the arena and out into the harsh sunlight. Both men stood staring after her. Hercules turned to Sephiroth.

"You know, you could be a little nicer to her," the Olympian said. He was one of the few people who hadn’t been beaten by Sephiroth. Their match had ended in a draw, with both battered and exhausted after hours of fighting. Since then, the two shared a relationship that was not quite friendship, but one of peer-to-peer. It allowed Hercules to say things like that to him without fear of finding himself impaled on Masamune’s tip.

Sephiroth snorted. "She presumed to tell me what to do. Imagine, ordering me around!"

He was surprised to see Hercules’ expression turn to anger. "I can’t believe I just heard you say that. Do you have no idea what she did for you?"

"Of course I do. She healed my wing." Something in the other man’s tone made him look over at him. "That is what you’re talking about, isn’t it?"

Hercules gaped in amazement. "You really don’t know, do you?" At Sephiroth’s confused frown, he sighed. "Okay, but you didn’t hear this from me. Right?"

"Whatever. Who am I going to tell?"

"Good point. All right—Ellie is a healer, as you know. You may or may not know that she came from your world."

The silver head nodded. "I remember her using materia. Only someone from my world could do that."

"Exactly. So, usually, healing is really basic with that stuff. Except, when Ellie heals something that isn’t part of the person’s original form, like something that happened after they were born, or was changed on them, through magic or surgery or something, it’s harder to do. Sometimes it’s just a question of concentrating more. Sometimes, though, it’s near-impossible."

"I fail to see your point, Hercules."

"I’m getting there, Seph, so hold on. Now, your wing appeared not only after your birth, but also after your death. It took very powerful magic to create it, and it requires more than just your basic Cure spell. Ellie isn’t someone to back down from a challenge, either, so she wouldn’t let you go around half-healed. She puts everything she has into her work, demanding nothing less than perfection."

"So you’re saying she worked extra-hard to heal me. I don’t see how this means I should bow down to her in thanks."

"Geez, Seph, you don’t understand!" Hercules began pacing across the stone floor. He became agitated. "Whenever Ellie heals something that powerful, she has to give up something of herself. Seph, to fix your wing, she gave up some of her life."

Sephiroth felt like he was rooted to the floor. "What?"

"She gave up a portion of her life. The worse the injury, the more she gives up." Hercules crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. "I’m surprised she was still standing afterward. Phil said she didn’t even wake up until the following afternoon."

As if on cue, Philoctetes, Hercules’ personal trainer, clopped over. "Yo, Herc, you’re up. Some schmuck from Agrabah wants ta try ‘ta show Hercules what real fightin’ is’ or sumthin’. Ya wanna get out there an’ put him down?"

Hercules flashed his million-dollar grin. "On my way." As he left, he glanced at Sephiroth, who seemed to be stunned for once. "Just think about what I said, okay?"

Phil peered up at Sephiroth. "Huh, he told ya about Ellie?"

"You knew this, too?" he asked. "About what she does? And you still let her work?"

The round little satyr sighed and wiped his forehead. "Like I could stop her."

Sephiroth frowned again. "What if she hurts herself? Or goes too far?"

"That’s her own prerogative. I got better things ta worry about." He began trotting down the hall. Sephiroth walked beside him, his long legs taking one stride to every five or six of Phil’s squat ones. "Take this kid Sora. He’s got somethin’ in him, like my boy Herc. I think he’s got what it takes ta go the distance, y’know?" He scratched one fuzzy, pointed ear. "Ah, fahgeddaboudit. I’m just an old goat, relivin’ the glory days."

Sephiroth "hmph"-ed, but said nothing else. He wasn’t really listening to Phil; his mind was focused on what he’d learned about Ellie. Abruptly, he stopped walking. "Excuse me, Philoctetes," he said absently, pivoting and striding back down toward the arena.

Phil chuckled. "Mister ‘High-an’-Mighty’ got somethin’ ta think about, huh?" Still chuckling, he clopped on down the hall.

Chapter 4

Kingdom Hearts Fanfic