The sunlight shone through the dense cover of the forest. Hiko kept walking, carrying Shinto over his left shoulder. Shinto seemed heavier than he remembered him being. That said, he was light enough to carry. It was still a mile to the healer’s house on the other side of the forest. I should make it before my legs give out.. His mind revisited the conversation he had with his father before he left. He had told no one about his training sessions with his best friend Uraki. He hid the bruises and wounds from everyone, sometimes not putting his full into spars with his brother because of it. But he refused to let his gift wither; and his father’s legacy with it. Shinto would have to learn that he would no longer win by handicap. He would have to win by sheer power. Armaro was shocked but happy. His father approved of his choice. “But you know when he comes to he won’t be happy” He remembered his father remarking.
“ We’ll work it out somehow.” Hiko replied. He offered to take Shinto to the healer so his father would not be late for the council meeting. His father got into enough trouble with the council already without having to add tardiness to the list.
“Uggh..” Shinto groaned over Hiko’s shoulder.
“You're awake.” Hiko replied.
“What…” Visions of the end of the battle made the rest of his question unnecessary. Shinto knew what happened. He had lost. Raising his upper body he pushed off of his brother sliding backwards as he landed on the path. His legs buckled, feeling for the first time the effects of taking his brother’s gift .
“You cheated.” Shinto shouted.
“Grow up brother.” Hiko replied. “ You won all of our spars with dad’s gracious handicap and believed that you would beat me without it. You've had your time to gloat. But no more; you want to win? Do it when I can use everything. Then maybe you’ll have the right to gloat.”
The words stung, more than Shinto could bear at that point. Legs still shaking, he ran towards his brother left arm pulled back to land a punch. Hiko sighed. Lifting his right hand in his brother’s direction, Shinto floated in the air.
”Put me down and fight fair.” Shinto screamed
“ Lesson number one:” Hiko replied “ There is nothing fair about fighting. Now stay right there. You will block out the sun that is coming through the canopy. “
Hiko knew he was being rough. It wasn’t his fault that he was this way. He allowed him to believe the lie. His father for peace went along. He already knew his mother favoured Shinto, but it didn’t matter. It was time to see where his gift would take him. He also hoped it would shake Shinto out of his comfort zone enough that he would start to grow. Then if he won, it would be because he deserved it.
“I hate you!” Shinto screamed as he struggled in vain to break free from Hiko’s invisible hold.
“If that makes you stronger brother, hate me as much as you need to. “ Hiko replied. He continued the walk to the healer he carried Shinto in the air who was still screaming obscenities at him, ruining the tranquillity of the forest.
’If it makes you stronger brother, I will bear your hatred.’
Soon they reached the healer’s home. Hiko lowered the now hoarse Shinto on the ground and knocked on the door. Like most houses in the forest, it was quaint and creaky. The moss covered shingles and rusted locks; every part of the house showed signs of decay.
“ Mr. Sinei!” Hiko called out. “ Are you in? It’s Hiko. Shinto needs some patching up.”
“I’ll be right there!” A cheerful voice rang out from the other side of the door. Hiko could hear the shuffle of feet and the jingle of keys. As the door opened a diminutive bald man met them. He looked in his early seventies but his cheer was infectious.
“Finally decided to dish out what you’ve been taking Hiko?” Mr. Sinei chimed trying to contain his snicker.
“Please just help him.” Hiko replied. Shinto had enough salt rubbed into his wounds. Shinto’s wounds.
”Bring him in.” Mr. Sinei moved out of the way as Hiko carried his brother into the house. Inside was as quaint as the outside; odd figurines, human skeletons and antique furniture creating a morgue chic look.
Through the living room and down the hallway was the healing room. There was a cabinet containing medical supplies on the far side of the room. “Lay him there” Mr. Sinei said pointing to the table in the center of the room. As instructed, Hiko laid Shinto on the bed. The pain of his overexertion had caught up with him. “I’ll be outside brother.” Hiko spoke as he turned to step into the hallway again. As he sat in the chair, the day’s events ran through his mind .Things will be very different now.