“You’re more than welcome to join me, King... anytime now,” Hraken takes out his sword and holds it to his side as Traegr loads on the rest of his armour.
“At the end of this battle, you will never get to see the future of our planet... Hraken the Fool. A suiting name,” Traegr smirks and I watch from my central position to see that every Gem in the crowd is tense within their seat.
Sabir has his eyes focused upon me and I smile at his calculating stare.
“I was granted, commentator, of the first trial,” I speak loudly as Sabir watches me as I watch him, and I continue, “We must keep this formal. Hraken Obsidian vs Traegr Ametrine. Get onto the field, Traegr, it is time for the battle to commence –”
“Oh no, cheeky girl,” Traegr finally has his armour on. He picks up his sword, eyes it and decides to drop it with a clatter back on the Ametrine podium with a cocky smirk. He had decided to fight with Celeste’s drained magic in his bones. A dangerous option. A Dark Gem could wield a female’s magic but only until the source was empty, “Before I do destroy this imposter. I need to introduce everyone to a new King – if I ‘die’,” Traegr grins sadistically and turns to lay his hand flat towards Sabir, “If I lose this battle. This is the rightful Obsidian man, right here. Let it be known. It will not be Hraken the Fool.”
“Sabir is not a ruler,” Hraken growls out from the field, “He has his place in the Gem Palace as Punisher and prime interrogator of any dangerous, rogue Gems. And if you insist on calling me a fool, you will be losing your life to a fool. Is that how you’d like to go down in history?”
“Yours is the only life lost today, Hraken... the Fool,” Traegr rubs it in.
“Sapphire is a Royal Gem,” Hraken points out, very seriously. He let’s this fact register with the King until there is an intense interest evident on Traegr’s face, then Hraken continues, “Perhaps you didn’t know. Now. If you die, I become King. If I die... Sapphire will no longer have a unquenched thirst for water. My brother will have a Queen’s worth of magic at his finger-tips... so if you don’t fall to a fool like me, by the Curse of the Stars, you will fall to my brother.”
“So, let it be to the Curse of the Stars then... imposter, fool and traitor," Traegr smiles, appearing surprisingly unfazed.
My own instincts suggested it was all bluff, however.
“Sabir,” I address him as he slowly stands from the couch, “Would you like to say any words?”
“Yes. Before the fighting begins, I need proof of your blood claims, Hraken,” Sabir stands beside Traegr on the edge of the podium. He holds out an open palm, “Throw to me your Obsidian orb you hold so close at hand.”
“You’ve never touched Obsidian, brother,” Hraken reaches into his back pocket and takes out the small orb willingly, “It never breaks so smooth, keep this special piece safe. And don’t lose your mind.”
I watch as Hraken throws the orb at Sabir, who catches it with one hand – and he almost drops it from the shock at first contact.
Everyone pauses as Sabir holds onto the Obsidian with sudden enhanced pupils and a slow flush to his cheeks.
It was all true.
It was the confirmation everyone needed to know Harken wasn’t just full of empty statements.
Now, I focus back on the field.
“Hraken the Warrior, I wish you the most luck in this battle,” I speak and watch as Sabir turns to meet my gaze, now with clear blue eyes. I’m almost shocked into a sudden new silence, forgetting to breathe, as his eyes are no longer a cruel midnight blue; but an ocean blue.
Like reflective water.
And suddenly Sabir looks impossibly more handsome.
Sabir glances at Traegr, then. While the King briefly glares at me, only to look to Sabir for support from his long-term right hand man.
“Is it true, then?” Traegr growls at Sabir, a slither of hope fading from his eyes as he analyses Sabir’s expressions of realisation.
“You recruited me into the Dark Gems when I was a year old from a small forest town, barely a town, more so a village. Do you remember?” Sabir asks, raising a brow. I furrow my own, I am intensely interested. Even I have not heard this story, so I stand with my ears pricked, “I was so young, I can’t remember my parent’s faces. All I know is one day I was there and one day I was gone. You always told me I ‘most likely’ had blood from a blue or perhaps green Gem. Yet you never let me go to the Gem vaults to see which line I truly belonged to. But you knew. All along. Who my family really was.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Trager growls, cutting him off, ”After everything. After all the power I gave you. The past does not matter, you can-not betray me.”
“Betray a traitor?” Sabir asks, with a monotone, “I believe there is no such thing. Your rule, emphasised the abandonment of acknowledging magic-bonds and in drowning in lust and violence... the darkest aspects of a Dark Gem... and it forced the Royal female Gems to abandon the planet for a thousand tortuous years. Your rule failed monstrously. It tortured us all, as if we weren’t already Cursed enough with our gifts,” Sabir motions to the men behind him and they all rally him on with comments of support as they all stand together, behind him, “Not only that, but you lied to me about my name,” Sabir quietens his tone, “I was an Obsidian all along. I’m curious, is my first name even Sabir? Or did you lie to me about that too?”
“Enough of this,” Traegr spits at Sabir’s feet after the other Dark Gems have stood up against him. Traegr jumps straight off the podium, “You’re a traitor, Sabir, you will pay.”
“At the end of this fight, you will tell my brother his real name,” Hraken states plainly while backing up towards the middle of the field. He saw right through Traegr and always had.
I watch as Sabir turns to me and drops his little remote onto the ground. A button hits and I get a large shock, which makes me squeak, embarrassingly. However, I pass it off as a sneeze, right before Sabir smashes the remote with his boot. He smirks at the noise I’ve made and I just blush.
“Take off her collar,” Seraphine asks of Sabir, who slowly turns to face her.
“No, I don’t think so. It suits the dress,” Sabir raises a brow, ”Sister. You must know my real name, why don’t you tell me?”
“I do know it,” Seraphine smiles, “But it is not for me to tell, Hraken will force the name on Traegr’s lips as the battle comes to an end.”
“You’re with us?” I ask Sabir, hoping he at least admits this to us, even if my question has rang around the stadium, loud and true.
Traegr also hears my words and turns to snarl at me from the field as he settles into place.
“Commentate, princess,” Sabir nods at the field, “It’s your gift, so use it well. There are no sides for the taking. Simply one ruler. And that will be determined when the combat is over. Everything else can wait.”
I nod at Sabir. I guess his answer was clear permission, that he would not interfere and simply let things play out as the Stars would have it.
“Take your places,” I call out, as Hraken stalks to his side of the field and Traegr rolls his shoulders while helping himself to his half, “Prepare yourselves, Dark Gems, there will only be one winner. Watch carefully, everyone. The new King of Kiyr will reign at the end of this battle... you may begin.”
Celeste stiffens beside me, reaching for my hand.
Hraken makes the first move. He holds out his sword and uses a Dark Gem’s skill to control inanimate objects. He hovers the sword just to the side of his wide and outstretched hand, just as Traegr bursts with uncontrolled, mocking laughter.
He slowly lifts his own hands, and the field grows with thorny vines, heading straight for Hraken like fast moving spears.
“Let’s make this quick, fool,” Traegr chuckles as Hraken swings the sword in a wide arch through the air, chopping the ends of the vines before they can touch him.
“I plan on it,” Hraken answers by starting a quick approach to Traegr while his sword swings through the air to protect him from an onslaught of lethal nature. It is compelling, as the sword is clearly completely under Hraken’s strict command from his incredible strength of mind, “What is my brother’s real name? Answer now and perhaps I’ll make your end not so foolish. I’m sure you now fear for the worst.”
Traegr refuses to answer, but with Hraken’s impending approach, there is no where to run too.
“It seems Traegr made a mistake in leaving his sword on the podium,” I call out, happy when a corresponding chuckle resounds from the crowd, “Perhaps Hraken will put down Traegr in the fastest battle in all of our histories?”
Everyone watches as Traegr tries to attack Hraken with his earthen magic from Celeste.
He tries to wrap Hraken’s feet in branches, but the warrior skips past the attack as if he is simply in the movement of a graceful dance. Traegr also tries to wrap Hraken in a growth of thorny roses, but Hraken’s sword does all the work for him. Traegr even tries to hold him back with quickly grown hedges, but Hraken simply cuts them down.
“Perhaps the King’s idea to conquer the fool, is futile,” I call out, smirking, “What will the King do now, as Hraken the Warrior approaches with a sword cutting down the King’s last few feet of defence –” I go quiet as the sword at my feet clinks along the Ametrine, right before it flies through the air and lands straight into Traegr’s grasp.
He had started cocky, but he was desperate now.
“You can’t beat me with a sword, boy,” Traegr tries to threaten Hraken as the experienced warrior comes forward to make the first swing from above.
Traegr raises his sword, quickly and the two metals clash with corresponding sparks.
“I’m counting on it,” Hraken smirks and dances back as Traegr lunges forward. He swipes for one side, his other side, his ankles, his upper torso; and with every shot... he misses. Every single shot is well-intended to hit the mark, yes. Yet nothing can touch Hraken as he dances around him and blocks each move.
Eventually Hraken steps far back, once again letting go of his sword with his physical hand. This time his mind will do the rest.
“An ultimate test of strength,” I call out, “Is through the mind’s power, as we will all soon find out.”
My suggestion has Traegr provoked beyond reason. He also unhands his sword, to let it hover.
And this is his biggest mistake.
Celeste gasps beside me as Traegr draws the sword back to strike fast.
And it does, heading straight for Hraken’s forehead.
But it doesn’t make contact.
The veins on Hraken’s forehead are clearly swollen as he strains to counter the Ametrine power. Everyone holds their breath as the sword slowly spins 180 degrees. He succeeds. The point had hovered before Hraken’s head... and now it is pointing towards the King.
“There is no escape, now, my King,” I can’t help but grin as the two swords, in Hraken’s power, gracefully split the distance between warrior and King. One sword hovers, positioned at the back of Traegr’s head while the other one is at the forefront of his gaze.
“The name,” Hraken orders, “Now. Perhaps I’ll spare you your life if you tell my brother what he wants to hear. Now, speak.”
“You need me alive for the input codes to the portal, boy,” Traegr is forced down onto his knees.
Clearly, he was drawing from his bag of pathetic last tricks.
“Traegr kneels in defeat of the new King and he must answer a King’s request,” I remind him, smugly. Far too smugly.
Even Seraphine snorts, but when I glance at Celeste, she is looking distraught and frozen in shock at the two swords pointing at Traegr. Celeste turns to me, sudden desperation in her eyes.
She no longer wanted him to die.
“Say the name!” Celeste calls out, so her voice is picked up by my mic, “Please, Traegr. Just say it. Do it, or you’ll be the fool with no head.”
There is a long pause as Traegr turns to watch her, unblinking with tears of defeat and humiliation seeping from the corners of his eyes.
“Sabir,” Traegr finally speaks, in abrupt acceptance of his down-fall, “I may as well speak it. What difference will it make?”
"Speak, in the name of your King who has ordered you to. What is his real name?” I suddenly snap myself, hating that he was delaying this further.
“Now... fool,” Hraken adds in a second warning for good measure, “My Queen just asked you a question.”
I see the look in Traegr’s eyes from the big screens above.
He finally cracks it and his ego is completely shattered.
“Fine, then,” Traegr meets Sabir’s gaze to tell him directly, “You are an Obsidian.”
"And my birth name?" Sabir prompts him to get to the point, on the verge of a snarl.
“Is not Sabir,” Traegr grits his teeth. It is hard for him to further his humiliation by giving in to us all; to Hraken, his cheeky princess and his traitorous Punisher. But, Traegr has no choice to delay any longer, and so he finally speaks true, “Your birth name, Sabir, is Alexander.”