"What?" Kaoru voice shook on Hikaru right. Hikaru grabbed him and pulled his arm around his shoulders. "What did she say?"
"Kaoru, Kaoru," Hikaru urged, trying to get him to focus. "We'll be fine. They probably got it mixed up." He looked up again to see the other challengers retreating to the sidelines to watch the first fight. Hikaru's heart sped as he looked from left to right; they were all looking at them with pity in their eyes. Finally he looked up at the Queen who was watching the brothers expectantly.
"Well?" the old woman called, gesturing at them.
Hikaru's eyes flicked to Tamaki, pleading with eyes. 'Please Tamaki. It's my own brother.' But Tamaki looked back at him with wistful eyes and shook his head. There was nothing that could be done.
In a hurry, Hikaru turned to his brother. "We have to do this."
"No," Kaoru denied, looking utterly scared.
Hikaru's eyes pricked with tears. "We have to," he murmured. "It'll be just like practice, okay? If we have a draw, we have a draw. Maybe they'll let us go."
"So aim for a draw?"
"Aim for a draw," Hikaru repeated. Then he ruffled his little brother's hair but only got a sad smile this time.
Full of regret and worry, Hikaru turned away and paced to the center of the arena and away from Kaoru. He glanced up into the stands and listened to the leers and call of the people. Their faces were afraid, excited, and savage and he hated every single one of them. How could they sit by and watch this all happen?
He paced across the dirt, hearing it crunch under his feet, feeling his chainmail shifting beneath his clothes. Breathing shakily, he halted in his path and slowly he turned. His heart stuttered when he turned to see his brother opposite to him with his hand on his hilt and his face so pale. Hikaru vowed to sacrifice himself it came to it. He swallowed hard.
Hikaru put his hand on his hilt and together he and Kaoru raised their swords, standing at the ready. Then suddenly the call came, "Fight!"
And, with only a moment's hesitation, Hikaru and Kaoru charged each other, raising their swords and they clashed in pure power. The momentum forced both swords back but they were back just as quickly, deflecting each swing.
Hikaru jumped back and Kaoru swung his sword wildly and closely to Hikaru neck, but Hikaru dodged and moved the right. The crowd's cheers and the sound of the blades rang in Hikaru's ears as he spun and blocked another lunge.
They both backed off for a second, circling, and looking into each other's eyes. After second, Kaoru lunged again and it was sudden. Hikaru blocked the attack but Kaoru was strong, and for a second Hikaru could feel himself falling backwards. They grappled for a moment; he could see the panic on Kaoru's face. He pushed all of his weight forward and forced Kaoru away from him.
By this time, Hikaru was starting to pant but he was far from tired. He sprang at his brother, thrusting at his brother's skull, but as he expected, Kaoru ducked and spun, bringing the sword back at Hikaru's own face. He jumped to left, narrowly escaping the blade swooshing so near his face.
Kaoru threw another swing at him, but Hikaru ducked. Hikaru saw the opening and in naturally instinct, he jabbed at him. Kaoru threw himself out of the way but what happened next was exactly what Hikaru had feared.
Kaoru flew backwards, his sword flew from his hand, and it landed with a sharp clang into the dust. Then Kaoru was thrown onto the ground and suddenly the crowd was louder than ever. "Finish him!" were the words that rang in Hikaru's ears. And the worst was that Hikaru was still moving; he couldn't stop himself!
Hikaru's breath caught as his sword tilted down towards his brother's chest. In that moment, Hikaru knew that if he accidently killed his brother, he would surely kill himself afterward. Kaoru's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen.
Suddenly, Kaoru threw up his hands in terror and they burst green, full of power. Hikaru was thrown backward onto the ground, knocking the wind out of him, and his sword was forced from his hand.
The crowd went silent.
"He's a sorcerer!" The Queen screamed. "Kill him!"
Hikaru pushed himself to his elbow and watched in a panic as Kaoru picked himself, glowing in power. Guards burst into the arena, charging at Kaoru. For a split second, Kaoru's brown hair flickered and he saw a glimpse of orange. What the hell was that?
The guards closed in but Kaoru was yanking a red crystal from his neck, throwing it down into the dirt and with another flash of green light, Kaoru was gone.
The arena was quiet and Hikaru was dazed, not sure what he'd just seen. The Queen screamed out, "Kaoru Hitachiin is a traitor and a sorcerer! I will have his head on a pike! Search for him!" The guards disbanded. She turned to Hikaru. "You are victor by default," she declared. "Rise as an anointed knight!"
Hikaru was frozen, just for a second, but then he struggled to his feet.
He didn't feel like a knight. He didn't feel much of anything.