Chapter 30 - A Pair of One
Oh how she loved her city.
It wasn’t really her city, that was Meadowyn further east, but every Jun thought like that. Wherever else they were born was just their hometown. Spellgate was their city.
And what a city. It was lively and exciting, full of people and colors and things moving as if they were alive. The music sounded off behind all the fun, may it be drugged, drunken or sober, and the machines roared and cracked as they worked to entertain everyone around them.
The city of joy, it was called, the carnival city of Spellgate. The only downside was that it was about to become a battleground.
Because, oh, how her brother was spoiling for a fight.
The group had split up to try and find signs of the bull and the rest of the crew, and as before, she and Sanpu had split up. An idea she wasn’t much of a fan of after what happened last time, but showing too much concern hurt his feelings and made it even worse. She instead convinced him to let her know if they found them.
But as always, he did the unexpected. He convinced Kazuki and Jomiko to split, and then somehow got his hands on Spellgate’s stone, and on the location of the men they were hunting. He contacted her in private communication and told her to meet him there.
This was the mistake everyone made. Sanpu was a moraless berserker, and as reckless as they come…but he wasn’t dumb. And yet, everyone assumed he couldn’t make plans.
They’ve killed employers and royal guards, pissed off criminal organizations, got rich on the blood and guts of countless defeated foes, becoming the enemy of more people than she could even count, and feared by even more. And they all thought they had accomplished this by steamrolling their way through it all. Not giving anything any thought.
As if. They weren’t the brightest warriors around but they could still be smart. And the fact everyone expected them not to made it ll the easier to pull off.
Sanpu did feel some attachment to his friends so if he could avoid fighting them over the stones, he would. She had a feeling he was planning on ransoming the stones later so she’d have to convince him to make sure each city only got one again.
Otherwise, things would be pretty bad.
Upon arrival, though, she had been much less overjoyed about the opportunity. Turned out how he managed all that he did was because it was all handed to him in a silver platter, by Ramachandra. He had given the stone to Sanpu and told him to head over to some house of mirrors.
Fuun’na did not trust Ramachandra. At all. A pan who thrived in the Jun city, and liked it even, was nothing but suspicious. But whatever hesitation she had was lost the moment she touched the stone.
“Can you feel it?” Sanpu asked, his eyes beaming with the stone’s reflection. It was glowing with a reddish feverish hue, as if it was alive.
“So you can feel it too?” Sanpu asked her, with that prankish tone that easily got her excited. Fuun’na opened her eyes at him in surprise and realization.
And then they laughed. They could use the stone together, simultaneously.
They took some time to test out the stone, finding out it took about 5 seconds for its effects to wear off, and then, they set out for the house of mirrors.
And indeed, mere minutes later, they were bulldozing through a corridor of mirrors, straight at where the bull and the rest were at.
They couldn’t wait to unleash the power. They couldn’t wait to tear into their foes and make them pay for the humiliating defeats they had so far been served. She couldn’t wait to make them pay for how much they hurt her brother.
She knew it was a lot simpler for Sanpu. That’s why she loved him, he was the most simple guy in the world. Mayhem was fun, so he loved it. Chaos was fun, so he loved it. And he always steered himself towards what he loved. Like he steered himself towards her.
She couldn’t imagine life being as fun as it was without him in the picture. She just couldn’t. And once again, he brought up the adrenaline. His anxious foreboding laughter made her skin crawl with excitement.
They kicked down the last mirror to find the three they had met plus a Fea woman, looking in their direction. Shinyaki had already drawn his scythes and the Fea now pulled out a small staff, double-ended with spheres.
“Well hey there!” Sanpu greeted with Spellgate’s stone grasped tight. “We’re here for the stones. Give them to us or die.”
“How many times do I need to make you bleed, little Jun?”
“Name’s Sanpu,” her brother said, lifting his hand to show the stone to the Jun, “and this time it’s a fair fight. And if it was a close match before, boy will we be stomping you now.”
Fuun’na giggled at that.
“We still have more than you, little Jun, or aren’t you old enough to count to two?” The Fea spoke, condescending.
“Oh really? Because by my count…” Sanpu opened his arm towards Fuun’na, and she reached out too, and then they were both grabbing the stone. Its insides spiraled uncontrollably as Sanpu and Fuun’na smirked with confidence, “because by my count, there’s also two of us.”
“Agathon, give your stone to Danatcia.”
Agathon looked at him with a dumbfounded look.
“No,” he menacingly stated, stepping back.
Shinyaki snorted with frustration and repeated himself with a murderous though clean tone of voice.
“Give her the stone and don’t get involved, we need to finish them as quickly and quietly as possible or we’ll bring the whole city down upon us. And I don’t think we can survive that.”
“You ready, little sis?”
“And willing, big bro,” she jested, enticingly. He smiled right at her and she smiled back, the warmth of their connection clear and evident.
“Then let’s go.”
They charged. Sanpu wielded his usual saw with his left hand, allowing for Fuun’na to carry her big ax in her right. They wouldn’t have as much power one-handed but the stone would more than make up for it.
“Give it to her,” Shinyaki almost growled, dashing towards the twins.
Their hands, grabbing the stone, pushed forward as they pulled their weapons back, and then pulled behind them as they turned their bodies to swing their weapons down at Shinyaki, who knew better than to allow that strike to hit the floor.
He sucked air in anticipation and crossed his scythes to meet their swings.
His feet almost broke as they dug into his ankles upon the moment of contact. He bit his lip and felt the rock of the floor shatter around his feet. The sound of the clash alone shattered the untouched mirrors around them.
Shinyaki’s face reddened in effort, his eyes watery in concentration.
“Fu…” he breathed out, opening his scythes to separate the twins. But they instead flipped backward, landing, then spinning around to cut at Shinyaki who had only the time to step back and pull his scythes back into a better fighting stance.
Two daggers flew by his side then, so perfectly aimed that they went through the twins’ double spin. They stopped their spin and Fuun’na noticed she had a new cut on her right forearm.
Datnacia stepped forward to stand at Shinyaki’s side.
“Thank you, Agathon,” Shinyaki said amongst short breaths.
“Go to hell.”
“Not today, my friend,” Shinyaki smiled, “nor the next,” he clashed his scythes together, “nor for years and years to come!”
He dashed for the twins.
“The Blood twins cannot be torn apart!” Sanpu and Fuun’na yelled, hands if grasped through the stone.
Any warrior in the world, so trained, has picked his specialization. Once they have picked it, they will have trained it, and the training is always the same thing. To learn how to conduct the energy of the living world into a particular skill, may it be magical, mental, physical or even emotional.
Pain, hesitation, exhaustion, these are all emotions the body is enslaved to at any point in time. Marauders, the common name for the role the twins first chose, learn to shut off that feed.
Physical ability, as in strength and speed, was the specialization of Jomiko’s kind. Battle ability, as in weapons mastery and technique, was the specialization of Arata and Kazuki’s kind. The Blood twins specialized in, exactly…mind over matter.
They could take the hardest hits because they could shut off the pain. They could last longer because they could shut off fatigue, pain of the muscles and organs. They could hit the hardest because they could shut off whatever pain they felt in the nerves and bones. They filled themselves with heavy and all-consuming feelings, not necessarily rage, though that was the most common, and through that, they surpassed their limitations.
They did not increase them, as others do, but surpass them temporarily.
They did not expand the sphere of their abilities, but simply ruptured its domain so to go outside, and use whatever they could find.
For that reason, what the stone did to warriors like Agathon was ever so more obvious than what it does to warriors like them. Thaumaturgists simply raised the scope of their power. But they? Warriors who channeled energy to, in layman terms, control the mind? And induce it into as raw an instinct-based emotional state as they could?
Their eyes filled up completely betraying their enraged state of mind, killing all thoughts. There was only motion and sound - what they saw and what they heard, and what they did in return.
The aforementioned sphere of their limitations was nowhere in sight. From then on, things happened, and they reacted, which resulted in what could only be described as a very aggressive, very brutal dance.
Shinyaki rushed in and closed the scythes at each of their sides, but they found the time to hop and forward-flip over it, swinging their swords at each of the scythe’s pole’s ends.
The swords pushed the scythes against the ground and landed as they crashed, about to leap for Shinyaki. Danatcia showed up in front of them, though, as if sprouting from a shadow on the ground. She rose her arms, dagger in each hand, to cut at Fuun’na and Sanpu’s wrists, the ones holding onto the stone.
They let go of the stone, to avoid this, and punched Danatcia square in the face, expelling her towards Shinyaki, and she did hit him, throwing both of them into tumbling across the ground. The twins immediately pulled back their hands and cupped the stone again, staying with their feet firmly on the ground for but a second.
Shinyaki rolled and pushed Danatcia away from him, just in time to swing his scythes to parry Fuun’na and Sanpu’s twin swing.
“HA!” They yelled, and pushed, and the parry turned into a block.
Fuun’na could smell the blood, even if it was just wet squashed and under the sweat from gripping the scythes so hard, and it was driving her insane with battle-lust. Her vision was narrow as if she was speeding so fast it tunneled, and it was focused on Shinyaki.
Her ear heard a whistle then, and she didn’t even feel the hair brushing against her eyes as she quickly turned to avoid the dagger thrown at her cheek.
She didn’t even know how much she was smiling, and the effect that her ecstatic gaze had on her opponents as she temporarily let go of the stone to snatch the dagger off the air. She threw it back without loosening her weight on her weapon.
Fuun’na grabbed the stone again and then noticed a shadow behind Sanpu. She pulled on the stone and he hopped to allow himself to be pulled around out of Danatcia’s strike.
She threw him at Shinyaki’s side, who shifted to her own blindside, bringing the scythe behind to slice at her own belly, but she hit the scythe away, letting Sanpu land, and then hopped so Sanpu could pull her out of Shinyaki’s counter attack.
Danatcia emerged to intercept her but Sanpu again pulled her out of the way, swinging his own saw at Danatcia who had to parry. The blow pushed her away.
And so they danced.
Pulling and flipping and spinning around Shinyaki all while Danatcia used the shadows to maneuver out of sight and then try to catch them by surprise.
And the wounds did come.
The cuts and the bruises, but to the twins, they weren’t signs of defeat, because, for every one they took, they gave in return. When Danatcia cut at Sanpu, she received such an elbow to her face she needed three mirrors and the wall to break her fall. When Shinyaki managed to knee Fuun’na, Sanpu round-house kicked him into an uncontrolled aerial spin. When he cut at Sanpu’s shoulder, Fuun’na cut at his hind-leg.
On and on they danced, with Agathon and Fiahra just trying to keep up with their eyes. “Shouldn’t we help?”
“We can’t,” Agathon replied, “it’ll draw too much attention.”
“They’re breaking the mirrors to pieces.”
“Which can’t be heard over all the ruckus outside.”
“Well there’s something I can do,” she started spinning her double-ended staff, concentrating.
It glowed and then started shooting out a dark mist aimed at the clearing the battle had made amidst glass shards and shattered frames. It filled them by the knees and then formed a spherical half-dome around them, and this seriously improved Danatcia’s contributions to the fight.
And still, they could not tear the Blood twins apart, least of all put them down.
The fight went on, for minutes and minutes on end. A stalemate since Agathon and Fiahra couldn’t participate. It seemed like it would last forever.