He was my mirror image. That much was clear. He even had the same small scar on the tip of his right wing. I did not know how it was possible. Nor was I certain of how he had fooled Illyana. It could not be simply through virtue of his appearance. He had to be able to convincingly act like me as well.
The pressing question was where he had come from. A creation of Sadow, perhaps. It was a horrifying thought, but I had to consider it as a possibility given the circumstances. I recognised his blade. It was the Phoebian Blade I had found in the cavern after my crushing defeat.
In order to defeat this fake, I would have to convince Lynai and the others to assist me. I would also have the burden of proving my legitimacy to Illyana. Her magics would easily be powerful enough to turn the tide against us. The vulpine feralial was an unknown element. I had never seen her before. She would absolutely side with the fake.
They fought well together, certainly. When the arena match began, he lifted her into the air and threw her at their opponents with air magic assisted speed. She delivered a brutal kick to the human on the opposing team before disappearing into a shadow.
He followed up on the strike, assisted by Illyana’s magic. It was a concentrated strike designed to throw the opposing team into disarray.
They were, however, professionals and they quickly recovered and banded together to strike back. Unfortunately for them, Illyana and the imposter had predicted their counter-attack and were well prepared.
The match lasted for twenty three minutes, seventeen seconds. The Pteropis Trio kept the momentum throughout and finally managed to finish their struggling opponents.
“What do we do?” Lynai asked.
“Maybe we say hi to our draconian friend’s twin,” Callie suggested. I allowed the quip to slide.
“That is exactly what we should do,” I stated.
My companions’ seemed taken aback by my words. “We will not resolve this unusual situation if we do not confront it,” I explained.
I felt a strong slap against my back. “That’s the spirit!” Tynan’s voice bellowed. He seemed to find considerable mirth in the situation.
“Then let’s figure out where they’re going,” Lynai said. “We’ll talk with them and figure this out.”
She put considerable emphasis on the word “talk.” Which was fine by me. I would not, after all, learn the purpose behind this imposter simply by defeating him in combat.
We managed to track the trio easily enough. They weren’t bothering to hide their tracks. Nor were they moving rapidly.
My mind was racing. Why were there two Michaels? Who was responsible? Most importantly, which Michael had I met in the forest and had helped rescue me from the palace so long ago?
“Okay,” I whispered. “Everyone stick together. “I’ll get their attention. Remember, we aren’t looking for a fight.”
“I will get out of sight,” Michael stated. “We will see how he reacts to you.”
“Probably a good idea,” Callie said.
I nodded in agreement. Then I steeled myself and cried out. “Hey, Michael!”
He turned, his violet gecko eyes studied us. “Lynai Elfblood,” he smiled. “It has been a while.”
“You know her?” the vulpine woman asked.
Michael… or whoever he was, nodded. “She is Lynai Elfblood. We travelled together in the great forest. Her father imprisoned me and was going to force her into marriage. Thankfully, we were both able to escape.” He sighed. “We lost track of one another after I lost my battle with Sadow. Thankfully, I was able to make my way to Illyana and recover. Lynai, these are my friends, Illyana & Aiko.”
I didn’t know how to respond. He seemed to know me and everything that had happened… to a point.
“These are my friends Tynan and Gabriel. And this, ” I gestured “is Callie. She’s… more than a friend.”
Michael chose that moment to fly back down. I could see Aiko’s fur standing on end but she seemed more startled and confused than anything else.
Illyana seemed to sense the change in the atmosphere. “What’s going on?” she asked. Her wispy hand went to her Michael’s shoulder. “Hey, tell me.”
“There appears to be another me,” he answered. “How? What are you?”
“I would ask the same of you,” Michael stated. “You seem to have proper knowledge of my history with Lynai. You have fooled Illyana. Who are you and what are you trying to accomplish?”
“Me?” the other Michael seemed angry. “I am Michael Ryufan. The last scion of Drahaven. Childhood friend of Illyana Fensen and former travelling companion of Lynai Elfblood.” He drew his sword and moved into a defensive stance. “Who and what are you?”
Michael spoke without a trace of emotion in his voice. “If you will not tell me the truth and reveal your true intentions, then I am left with no recourse but to force it out of you.” He drew his own blade.
Callie moved close to me and whispered “What do we do?”
“I… I don’t know.” It was the only answer I could come up with.