Dark Light

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Chapter 15

King Amora’s heart lifted further and further as Lucille opened up to him. He watched her bloom like a blossom in the spring. She started smiling. She looked to actually be listening to those around her. Nothing changed when they went to Church, but he was praying for her and knew it was only a matter of time. She didn’t look perpetually sad, and she talked to him. She let him in, and he built her up. He poured out all the love he could on her and tried to explain Jesus to her. She listened but hadn’t seemed to be very receptive, yet.

He watched Dirg, too. The prince worked hard in the kitchen and earned a manager title. King Amora noticed that the food took a jump up in quality when he did. He attended Church often, though after a little talking to he and Benaiah started attending a different service. Amora didn’t want Lucy distracted by his presence. He hadn’t heard of any problems around Dirg, and the few times they actually came face to face the king noticed a marked difference in his demeanor.

He prayed frequently for the two of them, and he prayed that God would help them separate. He didn’t want them together because Dirg had hurt her too much. He prayed that God would open the two of them to that idea and let it come about with little fuss or drama. However, before he could try to separate them, he knew he had to smash them back together. They had to be friends, and they had to understand one another. It was necessary because he realized that Lucy may have let him in the door to her heart, but Dirg fought and earned the possession of the key.

Lucy didn’t let Amora in until Dirg showed up and said he didn’t want her to die. He was following King Amora, so Lucy was accepting her father. The more she opened up, the more he realized how connected she was to Dirg. She had spent two months listening to his voice inside her head instead of those around her. If Amora let her and Dirg come together, hopefully she would follow Dirg’s decision to follow Christ, and prayerfully she would become more herself. Dirg held the pieces of her heart, for he was the one that broke it.

Dirg had to fix it, but Lucy’s father would tell him how. He didn’t trust the dark prince.

Simon was not thrilled that I advanced to manager so quickly; in fact, his little attacks became more frequent and less little. He saw me gathering the others in the dinner shift and getting ready to pray over our time. His features immediately darkened, and he walked straight up to me and tried to punch me in the jaw. Of course I ducked it, but I couldn’t avoid the verbal assault he threw at me right after.

“What right do you think you have to just enter our land with your dark trash wings and make a mockery of our Lord by pretending to serve him! How dare you even stand here, in our sanctuary from your kind! You were at least a little tolerable when you were just an insignificant little human with a bit of dark blood, but a pureline dark prince has no right to bask in our light! You are a pathetic, wimpy, coward with not a hint of honor to his name, and you need to leave before you corrupt all of us good lights! Your black wings are a disgrace to the title skyrunner! Your kind should be extinguished, and you need to be the first, arrogant idiot that you are!”

I crossed my arms and glared at him, but I knew not to retaliate. Still, my blood boiled.

The rest of the kitchen gathered around us, but no one intervened or protested. Some looked down nervously; I took it that they were thinking along the same lines. He ended with a verbal kick to my gut.

“We don’t want your dark trash around here creating more of those idiotic half-breeds! Begone from this land, demon!”

He ended, his fists clenched white at his sides and his face red with fury. My eyes narrowed and I blocked out everything else. He insulted Lucy, what was I supposed to do? The only warning he got was the little bright lights that came as my anger built, and by the time he registered that I was at least half a foot taller than him it was too late.

I exploded out of my self-restraint and pivoted in a high roundhouse kick to his face. I smiled as his lip burst under my heel and was on top of him as he fell. Many hands grabbed me and pulled me off of him before I could do much damage, and many voices yelled at me to calm down. I yanked out of their grips and glared around at the dark skinned faces, all glaring at me, as if this was my fault.

I pointed at Simon. “How dare you? How dare you all?!”

I cursed and stormed out, running because I would not hurt these people. I hurried out of the castle, ignoring and dodging people. Their smiles faded when I came near. Apparently, they had all forgotten I was a darky. Hell, maybe even I had forgotten.

I scowled as the light barrier approached and summoned my wings. I purposefully didn’t look at them because I didn’t want to get any angrier than I already was. I just launched and circled for a bit, looking for some darkness.

I found the city where I had left Kindness. I couldn’t wait until the sun went down and looked to the dark alleys longingly, but I sat on a roof in the shade of an AC because I knew eventually someone would come looking for me. Probably Ben.

I sat and forced my muscles to relax. Instead of replaying what Simon said, I quoted John 3:16, putting emphasis on all. I brought my wings in and enjoyed the little bit of darkness. I hadn’t had a break from the light in so long; I might have been going blind. Maybe this little trip was a good thing.

I bowed my head and thanked God for his plan for me, whatever that was, and began talking to him. I prayed that Lucy would get to know Him too and for my family. As I talked to my Savior, I felt myself calm down. I didn’t feel loved, but I felt less hated. That feeling of love was rare and usually only came when I was invested in worship. I heard wing flaps in the distance and growled, banging my head on the AC in annoyance. I had enough of lightsies and their judgments for one day, and I really didn’t want Ben’s lecture on how annoying it would be to sit by as I lay nearly dead on the ground. That was how he described it, anyway.

The person I assumed was Ben landed behind me and approached. He leaned on the AC, still in the light. I scowled.

“I need some darkness, Ben,” I said.

“I’m not Ben.”

I jumped slightly and looked up to King Amora. “I didn’t beat him that bad.”

He quirked an eyebrow but otherwise remained stoic. “How bad did you beat him?”

“Knocked him unconscious and then punched him a few times.”

“You hit him after you knocked him out?”

My scowl deepened. “I’m a darky, remember?”

“That gives you no excuse to hurt someone who can’t fight back!”

That hit deeper than he thought it would. I jumped to my feet and looked him in the eye.

“The best defense is a good offense! Throw an extra punch in while they are weak so they don’t attack again!”

“That’s fear, not God’s love!”

“Well, God has wrath, too. Or have you not read Revelation?”

“I have. The third of the stars that fell? Those were your ancestors.”

That made me wish I were a darkheart. It was very rare when I wished for that, and when I did, it was usually around lightsies. I couldn’t help but feel betrayed. He must have seen the anger and betrayal in my eyes, for when I turned my back to him, he hurried to apologize.

“Dirg, I didn’t mean-”

“You meant that! And it’s true, so don’t apologize. Why does truth hurt so much?”

“Because once the pain is accepted, the truth can be used as understanding.”

“So I can understand darkies better?” I clarified.

His voice was soft. “Yes, Dirg. You need to understand your own kind better than anyone else if you are to reach them for Christ.”

“Yes, but there’s one I have to focus on before I can go back home.”

He sighed. “That’s actually why I went to find you. I think she is almost ready. I want you to write out what you would say to her.”

I turned to him and glared. “Write it out? You want me to tell her scripted truth?”

“I want to know what you will say.”

“Why, so you can control it?”

He tilted his head. “So I can contain it. I don’t trust you with her.”

I tilted my chin up in indignation. “And how will it sound to her if I recite from a script?”

He scowled ever so slightly. “It will sound like the truth because I won’t let you say anything else.”

“I. Won’t. Be. Scripted,” I asserted forcefully.

He stood to his full height and regally flexed his wings. “She is my daughter. My daughter, Dirg. Who tried to kill herself because of your words.”

“I won’t be scripted,” I repeated. “You can be in the room and slap me if you need to.”

He seemed unsure. “This is just between the two of you.”

“Exactly,” I stated plainly, daring him to challenge me. “So let me say what I say. You can sit there and glare at me the whole time and make sure I don’t lie.”

“She will see it more as being controlled by me if I’m there. She will not like it.”

“Yeah, I know. But she needs to know you are there. If I sound scripted, she would blame me for lying. If you are there, she would blame you for being overprotective, and she needs to see you as overprotective.”

“Why?”

“I’m speaking from experience here; she needs both rewards and punishment. Have you punished her since you’ve met her?”

He wrinkled his nose and spoke with disdain. “No. She is an adult, and what exactly could I punish her for? Not talking?”

“Did you punish her for trying to kill herself?”

“No, she didn’t need any more pain than that she was already in.”

“Did you at least threaten her with punishment if she did it again?”

“Yes. If she sneaks away from my family or has any contact with you, she will be put in a cell under 24-hour guard.”

I clapped sarcastically. “Congratulations! That’s why she opened up to you.”

He scowled. “What?”

“She may be 51% lightsy, but she is still 49% darky. You have to deal with both sides, like a human.”

“Darks need punishment?” he asked for clarification.

“Most definitely.” I took my shirt off and turned my back to him. He gave a low whistle.

“Are those brandings?”

I shrugged. “Yes. My mom figured since I burn people, burning me was a suitable punishment.”

“Did Lucy see these?”

“Yes, she did.” I put my shirt back on. “They are not abnormal for darkies. We don’t learn well without pain.”

“So the thing that spurred you to accept Christ was Lucy’s pain.”

“Yes.”

“Then to get other darks to learn about him...”

I had already come to that conclusion, so I smirked and asked, “Why do you think I’m not chomping at the bit to leave the land of eternal light?”

“Because you want to see Lucy.”

“That too.”

“Alright, we’ll go with your way. No script, but I will be in there with the two of you. I will have my sword in there, and if you lie...”

“I’ll die. Yeah, got it. I walk a fine line, I could mess up and doom my kind to extinction, or I could succeed and make us like lightsies...”

“Is that why you are so hesitant to take on this call? Because you think you’re a light?”

I tilted my head and summoned my wings. He watched, his golden eyebrows slowly going to meet each other on his brow. His eyes widened when my feathers started to grow out. His mouth formed a perfect O, and he was dumbstruck.

I flapped a little and let my wings rest against my back.

“There’s a reason I used that cover to get in the land of eternal light. There was no such thing as a white winged darky...”

He came closer and reached for my wing, so I stretched it out for him. He brushed his hands down my flight feathers in fascination.

“How?”

“I don’t know. When I summoned them after I accepted Christ, they were white. I haven’t had them out much since.”

He looked me in the eye. “Are you ashamed of your decision to follow Christ?”

I shook my head. “No. He saved me and has changed me more than I could ever deserve. I just... My wings are white. I wish He hadn’t done that.”

He backed up and looked me over. “That’s not just white. It looks like you have light in each shaft.”

I scowled and brought them forward so I could see them. “I know. I hope they don’t glow.”

“Why?”

“So I don’t burn my brother next time I see him.”

He was subtly shivering, and I realized that the sun had set. I frowned.

“How dark resistant are you?”

He stood up straighter and looked around as if just noticing the darkness.

“I can’t fly in the dark.”

“And you get cold.”

He shrugged and took out his phone. “We will have the meeting between you and Lucy the day after tomorrow, preferably right after lunch. Does that sound satisfactory?”

“It means I will probably miss quite a bit of work, but yes.”

He found a contact and hit it, smiling slightly at me. “Good. How late are you staying out?”

I sighed and stared at my wings. “I’ll be back by morning. Do you need help?”

He shook his head and a twin voice answered on the other end. “Hey, Dad. Where are you?”

“On a rooftop in France. It’s dark and I need help.”

“Which city?”

I cut in. “I am a lightheart...”

He glared at me and said the city’s name.

“I’ll be right there, Dad.”

There was a beep and he put his phone away. “I don’t trust you, dark prince.”

I shrugged. “Apparently that’s normal.”

“What did he say that made you beat him so badly?”

“I didn’t beat him badly at all,” I grumbled.

“What did he say?”

I closed my eyes and sighed. “You don’t need to know.”

“Boy...”

“You don’t.”

“Why don’t I? I am a king. You are technically my prisoner.”

“That doesn’t mean I have to tell you of my personal problems.”

“Yes, but they are my subjects. If one offended you, I want to know who.”

“His name was Simon.”

“Of where?”

I shrugged. “I didn’t know you all had an of tacked onto your name.”

“I am Amora of Iraq.”

“Iraq?”

He nodded. “We have our children in another country. Have you not noticed the lack of pregnant women and tiny babies?”

I smirked. “I just thought your kind were prudes.”

He rolled his eyes. “No, your kind are sluts.”

“Not me.”

“Uh huh. How many women have you slept with?”

I formed a zero with my hand and looked at him through it.

He looked shocked. “You’re a virgin!? At how old?”

“Almost 21.”

“Yet you’re a dark skyrunner?”

I glared at him. “Yes. I never dishonored your daughter, though I would have if she had let me. She’s feisty.”

His amazement turned to disgusted anger. “Don’t talk about her like that!”

I held up my hands innocently. “I mean that in every positive way possible. If she wants something, she will fight to get it. The only reason I could take what she wanted to keep was because I was manipulative and I cheated, but she learned how to combat that after a while, too. Thus why we never slept together.”

“You would have if you could have,” he stated.

I nodded. “But I couldn’t because I taught her to defend herself.”

“Were you the one who taught her to sword fight?”

“Yes.”

“Well, good job. She gave one of the twins a run for his money.”

I grinned at that and went to a little alcove. “Would you like to meet my best friend?”

“Your best friend is here?”

I took my sword from the hiding place and looked it over, checking for rust that I knew would not be there. I buckled the sheath around my shoulder and went back to the king.

“King Amora, meet Kindness. Kindness, that’s the king of the lightsies.”

He squinted past me in confusion. “There’s a dark named Kindness?”

I laughed and remembered that he couldn’t see very well out here at all. I drew my sword and held it in my hands out to him. He stared at it, so I grew light around it to help him see. He ran his hand along the blade, looking for ridges around the word as most did when they first saw it.

“How is it black?”

“It’s called dark steel. The recipe for it is one of our kind’s most coveted secrets. It doesn’t rust or dull, and it’s the only technological advantage we have over your kind, which is probably why my father would kill me if he knew I showed this to you.”

“Is the wording in normal steel?”

I nodded. He reached for the hilt and paused.

“May I?”

I nodded but scowled. “Drop him and I’ll let him gut you.”

He quirked an eyebrow but stared at my sword, swinging it to get a feel for it. “Kindness” stood out in silvery letters against the black on the blade on both sides, while near the hilt was my family crest, a dragon wrapped around the moon looking longingly at a star. The leather grip fit my hands perfectly and the blood red ruby on the end had witnessed more of my life than any of my family.

He nodded approvingly and handed Kindness back. “Why do you say your sword is your best friend?”

I sheathed him with a familiar ring. “Well, let’s see, he doesn’t care that I’m the crown prince or a lightheart or a darky, and he has my back and he never argues with me, and he’s been around longer than anyone else...”

The king of the lightsies looked at me sympathetically, so I scowled and trailed off. He didn’t need to know that my sword was my only friend. Tain and King Zinx always wanted me dead. Mother was loyal to her husband outside of bed, and Fon was a daddy’s girl, which meant I rarely ever saw her because she was usually with the king. Maybe that separation was what made us get along so well, but I couldn’t count on her as a friend. I had to mature fast, and my upbringing as crown prince didn’t help me make any childhood friends. If I told King Amora any of that, I’d call it fishing for pity. I learned a long time ago that pity, especially self pity, was wasted breath and thought.

“Where’d you get Kindness?”

“King Zinx asked me via letter what I would name a weapon to kill him with. I said Kindness, and a few months later my sword instructor gave him to me.”

“How old were you?”

“Six.”

“That’s a huge sword for a six-year-old.” He said skeptically.

I shrugged. “It fits me now.”

I heard two wing beats coming, and I saw two forms wrapped in light coming to the rooftop. I lit the king and myself up so they could see us better, and then I felt a sting on my neck. I frowned and picked something off of my neck.

It was a dart with a note attached. It read, “Happy Birthday, son!”

I cursed and sniffed it. I had forgotten it was my birthday, but King Zinx or Mother didn’t. King Amora asked something, but I couldn’t hear him past the wringing in my ears. I fell to my knees. Someone took the dart from me and a worried face came in front of me. I chuckled.

“It’s my birthday present,” I mumbled.

King Amora noticed Dirg go stiff. He picked something from the back of his neck and cursed. Amora went over to him and asked,

“What’s that?”

Suddenly, Dirg fell to his knees. Theo and Benaiah landed nearby. Amora went to a knee and took the thing from Dirg’s stiff grip. It was a dart with its contents already dispelled. A message on a piece of paper read, “Happy Birthday, son!”

He began, “What kind of birthday present-”

Dirg choked and fell over. Amora caught him and laid him on his back. He started convulsing and the king had to hold him down.

“Go get a medic!” he yelled.

Theo took off, leaving Ben and his king stranded on a rooftop.

“Ben, look around for the guy who did this. He would have a blowgun. Possibly a dark, possibly human.”

Ben nodded and ran off into the dark. Dirg’s convulsions went wilder, and Amora had to practically sit on him. As suddenly as they had begun, the convulsions stopped.
Amora looked Dirg over. Foam flecked the corners of his mouth as he panted heavily and his eyes rolled around in their sockets.

Something hit Amora, and he rolled away, drawing his sword. He looked up and saw... Diana? She didn’t look any older than when he last saw her, 19 years ago. She smirked down at Dirg and put her foot on his chest.

“I asked if I could deliver your birthday present myself this year. I wanted to see you writhe in pain for what you did to me.”

He grunted. King Amora stood, sword ready. “Is he dying?”

She jerked her head up to him and narrowed her eyes. “You’re that little slut’s father.”

“Her name is Lucille.”

“No, he’s not dying.” She kicked him viciously and grinned as he rolled to his stomach coughing. “He’s just in pain and won’t come out of it for a day or two. Hopefully three.”

“How do you know he won’t die?”

She shook her head. “He’s had it before. It almost killed him, how many years ago?”

“Ten,” Dirg groaned.

King Amora risked a glance at him. “Is this normal?”

The girl smirked. “Completely. Except...his wings.”

She stepped on his wing arm and ground her heal into the white feathers. His wings and back arched in pain, but he didn’t scream. King Amora wasn’t sure what to do. He could possibly make her leave, but he needed to know what in the heck was going on.

“What did Dirg do to you?”

She sneered at him and came closer to him, her black wings flexing behind her. He maneuvered his sword directly in between them, making her stop.

“Mom said you were a catch. Maybe you were when you were younger. Those lips though...”

He scowled. “Dirg is currently my prisoner, making him subject to me. You hurt one of my subjects, I have every right to protect him.”

Her eyes glinted. “And who are you to have subjects?”

He lifted an eyebrow, still scowling. “King Amora of Iraq.”

She paled but held her sneer. “He was my betrothed, but he broke it off because he was in love with your slut daughter.”

King Amora advanced a step towards her; his eyes flashing in a way that made her heart skip a beat in fear. She had heard the lightsies were pansies, but he had the look of a man that would kill if need be.

“Do not refer to my daughter in such terms!”

She snorted. ”Everyone knew that she and my betrothed were sleeping together, and lying to all of us about it. You could at least have the decency to admit to it!”

She kicked back, hitting Dirg’s hip. He writhed around, his initial bout of pain resurfacing.

“They both have told me adamantly that they weren’t.”

She shrugged and her face went blank. “That’s what they told everyone. His family isn’t allowed to have toys, so he called her a pet and trained her to lie to everyone and hide their relationship.”

He glanced at Dirg, still writhing on the ground. Ben ran up, sword in hand and slid to a stop when he saw the lady and his king glaring at each other and Dirg writhing on the ground with no screams or groans.

“I’m guessing you’re Mira?” he asked quickly.

She nodded, not even looking at him.

King Amora tilted his chin up. “Begone, Mira Diana Thory. Get out of my lands before I have you arrested for attempted murder.”

She looked between them and nodded. She turned and took off, adding one vicious kick to the now unconscious Dirg for good measure. She disappeared into the night, but the lights didn’t sheath their swords.

Finally, King Amora noticed light in the distance. Theo was coming. He prayed they would hurry.

My body was stiff, and even little movements sent prickles of pain screaming up my spine. It felt like I was sleeping on a bed of nails, something I had done before but didn’t hurt as much as this. It did get easier as the years passed, but it still hurt. I opened my eyes and sat up, feeling for Kindness on my back. He was there, good. I had felt virtually naked without him, but I had thought I was safe in the Lightsy realm. Now that I thought about it, I didn’t understand why I thought I would be safe in a land of my opposites.

One of the twins slept soundly on a chair next to the bed. I was back in the hospital... The king must have thought I was dying. If I hadn’t known the background, I might have thought so too. I felt around my body, grimacing through the pain and making sure everything was intact. The ring was on my finger, my clothes were still on, and my wings were still out. I remembered Mira and went to preen my wings, but the damage had already been fixed. That surprised me greatly. I sat there and stared at it for a while.

The first time I awoke here and was healed, I had expected it. This time, I could acutely feel the absence of the bruises I should have. It was unnerving. There were always bruises after a birthday present, especially since Mira had kicked me several times. I stood and started stretching, ignoring the pain of the poison still in my system. The healers must not have been able to eliminate all of it, or they didn’t know what it was and that it was there.

The twin shifted as he awoke and blinked sleepily at me. “You’re up. How do you feel?”

I grunted. “Really...normal.”

He smiled and stood to stretch a little. “Is that bad?”

“Usually, I feel horrible after my birthday. By the way, what day is it?”

He told me, and I looked at the ceiling and sighed.

“What day is your birthday?”

“The day before yesterday. The present was late, but that was probably because I was in here.”

He scowled. “That was a present!?”

I nodded. “Every year. That particular poison they have been using since I was eleven.”

“They poisoned their eleven year old son? What kind of parents do you have?”

“The king and queen of the darkies.” I smirked. “What, your parents don’t send you into agony on the anniversary of your birth?”

He shook his head in sympathy. “No, they don’t.”

I checked my watch. It was the next morning, about the time I usually woke up.

“Where’s Ben?” I asked.

“Busy with family issues. He asked us to stick with you today.”

I nodded. The medic came in and glared at me. “You aren’t supposed to be up.”

“I wasn’t told not to.”

He shot a look at the twin, who shrugged helplessly. He pointed to the bed. “Sit, dark.”

I rolled my eyes and sat on the edge of the bed, crossing my arms. He checked my vitals and had me do some weird things. He asked me if anything felt wrong, and I shrugged, sending pinpricks up my back. He narrowed his eyes.

“Does anything feel different than normal?” he insisted.

“Normal after this is usually bruised and battered. This is the best I’ve ever felt after the poison.”

He looked at me askance. “This is a common occurrence?”

I lifted an eyebrow. “I’m a darky.”

He shook his head. “That is not an explanation.”

“Yes it is.”

He digressed. “How bad do you feel?”

“Not bad.”

He sighed in frustration and looked at the twin, who was trying hard not to smile. “How do I get a straight answer from him?”

“Make my dad or Lucy talk to him.”

He scowled and looked back to me. “Answer me straight. Do you feel worse than a normal day when you are not poisoned?”

I tilted my head, my neck screaming at the movement. “Yes. My nerves are going crazy, but I’ve dealt with this before. The more I move the more it goes away.”

He frowned and reached for my chest, pausing an inch away. “May I?”

I rolled my eyes and nodded. He put his hand on my chest, over my heart, and the pain disappeared. I inhaled deeply in surprise.

He grinned. “Do you darks not have healers?”

“No, we don’t.”

He left his hand there for a minute or two before he removed it, but the pain came crashing back. He noticed the pain flash across my face and frowned.

“Is it back?”

“Yes.” I stood. “Thank you, but I don’t need you to take it. I’ve lived with it before, and I will live with it now.”

He frowned but seemed to resign. “Fine, but you need to stay here-”

“No, I don’t, and I won’t. Goodbye, doctor.”

I pushed past him and strode out the door. The twin quickly followed and grabbed my arm, “Dirg, he was just trying to help.”

“Yes, but I did not ask for help. I don’t need help.”

“We all need help.”

“I wouldn’t know. Tomorrow is when your dad wants me to talk to Lucille, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t practiced in weeks. Where is the lightsy training ground?”

“I’ll lead.”

He led me to a flat, uncovered area within the castle. The huge cobblestone square was littered with training individuals on one side and training squads on the other. I smiled and breathed in the smells of sweat, blood, and metal. Even in the light, this felt good, like home.

I found an open area and began to do my forms, warming up. The twin joined me and did his forms, and I listened to the battle cries and grunts and let them soothe the pain in my limbs.

After a while, the twin looked at me mischievously. “Would you like to spar?”

I grinned back. “I heard Lucy beat one of you two.”

He rolled his eyes. “It was a draw; she didn’t win.”

“I taught her. Do you think it is wise to face me without your other half?”

He smirked, and his voice came from behind me. “Who said we were planning on doing that?”

I felt my grin grow wider and turned so I could see both out of the corner of my eyes. I looked at Kindness.

“What do you say? Two on two, sounds fair, right?”

I took the way his name gleamed in the light as a yes and twirled him around myself and backed up until the twins and I were a triangle.

“Alright, what are the rules?”

“No death blows.”

“Near death blows are fine,”

“because there is a medic on standby,”

“but try to avoid it at all costs.”

“All you have to do to lose is say ‘quit,’ and then the match is over.”

“You can be jailed for attacking after the word quit.”

“Other than that,”

“just try to be a good sport.”

“Oh yeah, don’t hurt bystanders.”

“We tend to attract crowds.”

I nodded, signaling my understanding. I went into my ready stance, right hand on the top of the grip, left lightly grasping under it, Kindness directly in front of my nose, about a foot out, and my weight on my back foot, ready to move at a second’s notice. I let my muscles relax and waited.

The twins looked at each other and charged me at the same time, using the same starting foot and the same hand, their left, my right, holding their swords as they sprinted at me. I assumed they would attack in concert, doing the exact same thing at the same time, and they did. They both raised their swords above their heads and brought them down on me with all the force of their momentum and weight. I pivoted back, sidestepping the right one, and parried the other into his brother’s area. I could have ended it right there by kicking the now unstable one on the left into his brother trying to correct his movement, but I wanted this to be a long bout.

I hadn’t realized how much I was missing violence.

Instead, I let them recover, and they tried again, this time with much less force. One slashed up from my hip to my shoulder, and the other swung from my left to my arm. I batted the former away from me with an inch to spare and threw myself into a spin to avoid the other. I pressed on in attack, and one of them blocked while the other positioned himself so he could get behind me. I still had my wings out, neither of them did. I grinned as I realized where I could find an advantage.

I parried an attack from one, turned and blocked the other and ducked under it, putting both of them on the same side of me again. Then, I turned and ran. I sprinted to the wall, not very far away, and heard them chase. I did not slow as the wall approached, but jumped, kicking off of the wall and flapping to switch the course of my momentum. I flipped in the air and landed behind them, Kindness ready. One slowed and spun to block an attack that I hadn’t yet gotten to, and the other kicked off the wall and basically did what I did minus the wings, so he was still between me and the wall. From there, I used my wings, and I had the both of them backed to a wall. I had learned years ago that wings are generally seen as cumbersome in a ground fight, since they are basically just extra targets to aim for, which is why most people brought them in for a fight. I taught myself to use them. A small flap at the precise moment and angle could add power to Kindness, making my hits harder than my enemies accounted for, and the back flap after could help propel me out of their retaliation.

Now that I was using all six limbs together, the two of them were having a difficult time, even when they split. It was an even match, and within minutes we were sweating and panting. My mind was absorbed in the fight, for using six limbs was not an easy feat. Every move and countermove took my full mental capacity to calculate and deliver. Add to that the pain from the poison in my system sending pinpricks all over my body and the fact that I was three or so weeks out of shape with no sparring practice for months, it was not a surprise that they eventually won.

One got in a lucky slice to my thigh, and the other took out a couple of my flight feathers while I was in midstrike. I stumbled and found Kindness flying out of my grasp. Two swords rested on my neck, and the two teens panted and smiled.

I panted out a “quit” and put my hands on my head. They sheathed their swords together, and we all grinned and panted.

“No one has ever” one began but then started panting, so the other continued,

come that close”

“to beating,”

“the both,”

“of us.”

I laughed. “No one has ever beaten me on their own, except my instructor.”

They laughed too, and my heart warmed. They both stepped forward and clasped me in a brotherly embrace. I tensed and quickly pushed out. I turned my back to them and listened carefully to where they were as I retrieved Kindness. Memories resurfaced, and I turned quickly to where I could see them. I’m sure they saw the annoyance on my face, for they looked at me worriedly, and I bowed slowly to the both if them.

“Thank you for the spar, Princes Ed and Theo. I’m going to eat lunch, shower, and then go to work. Which of you shall join me?”

They looked at each other. The one on my right stepped forward. I nodded and turned, Kindness still in my hand. He jogged quickly to follow me. “Dirg, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I said curtly.

“You’re lying,” he stated

“Maybe, but I don’t need to tell you.”

He sighed. “Dirg, don’t bottle your emotions up. If you do, something will happen like it did with Lucy.”

“I won’t try to kill myself.”

“No, but bottled emotions tend to explode. Theo and I learned that the hard way.”

“That just reminded me of once when Tain and I sparred.”

“What happened?”

“We embraced and he stabbed me in the back, so I lit him up.”

“Literally?”

I nodded. “He didn’t like losing, but I hurt him more than he did me.”

“Your family is messed up.”

I nodded. “We need Jesus.”

I finally sheathed Kindness as we got to the cafeteria. Ed and I ate in silence, and I turned my mind to what I would tell Lucy. In fact, once I started thinking about it, I didn’t stop until the next day and she was there, right in front of me. As soon as my eyes met her lovely light brown gaze, my mind went blank.

Oh, Lord help me.

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