Michael and his double were about ready to tear into each other. My mind raced. Were we going to have to intervene? Was it even wise to get involved? I still wasn’t sure which was the one I’d escaped Het Wald with. I knew which one had helped us fight the trolls, but was that some kind of ploy?
The other Michael turned to Aiko. “Protect Illyana. I will keep him away from the two of you.”
“What about his friends?” Aiko wondered. She was looking more than a little nervous and glancing directly at Tynan.
The other Michael looked at me. “I believe I got to know Lynai relatively well. I do not believe she will try to harm anyone innocent. The battle should remain between me and the fake.”
“Interesting,” Michael stated. “You are attempting to use emotional manipulation to make my former companion as well as my current comrades sympathetic towards you. However, there is one fatal flaw in your method. Illyana and I have known one another since childhood. She will not fall for your deception for long.”
“As long as we are agreed to keep this betwixt us, I am satisfied,” the other Michael said. He spread his wings and took to the air. Michael quickly followed behind.
They flew around each other, each one occasionally moving in ever so slightly and retreating back. They were each trying to force the other into making a move.
Their movements were nearly identical. If I hadn’t known better, I might have believed he was flying around a mirror rather like a dog who doesn’t realise their reflection isn’t, in fact, another dog.
Simultaneously, they both cast a cutting winds spell. The magic collided, canceling itself out.
Illyana had a thoughtful look on her face. She seemed focused on the sounds of battle coming from above.
“Aiko, what are they doing?” she asked.
“They’re circling each other,” Aiko answered. “A moment ago they both tossed the same spell.”
The pairs eyes met. Seemingly, they came to an agreement in that instant and they both flew forward, their blades clashing. It was almost like watching a production. Their movements were so perfectly matched.
“There’s something…” Illyana muttered. “I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Is that fake casting some kind of secret spell to hurt my Michael?” Aiko asked. She looked up nervously.
“It’s not that,” Illyana said. “But there is some strange magic at play something I…” She trailed off
“You are quite skilled,” Michael gasped, the pair broke apart and resumed circling one another. “I see you have copied my fighting style flawlessly.”
“I was going to make the same observation about you,” the other Michael stated. He also seemed out of breath.
“Stop, both of you!” Illyana cried out. The pair looked down at her. Michael seemed curious about her outcry. The other Michael seemed more concerned.
“Illyana, stay back, Michael stated. “There is no telling what this imposter may have done while in your company.”
“You dare imply that I would harm my closest friend?” The other Michael demanded. There was actual anger in his voice unlike any I’d ever heard him express.
They resumed their match.
“Catch them,” Illyan said. She chanted quickly and quietly. “Body Bind!” She cried out. Both Michaels froze in mid-air and started plummeting towards the ground.
Aiko bounced off of the side of the nearest building to catch the other Michael in mid-air.
“I’ve got him,” Tynan declared. He moved under Michael and caught him.
“Okay, let’s resolve this like rational adults,” Illyana said. “Aiko, you caught the Michael we’ve been fighting with, I trust?”
“Yeah, I got him,” Aiko confirmed.
“Uncover his right shoulder,” Illyana said.
Aiko nodded and did as she was bidden.
It was a nasty scar, not only that but a familiar looking one. I glanced at our Michael.
“Tynan, uncover his too,” Callie said.
“They’re the same,” Tynan agreed.
“Let me ask you something,” Illyana said, moving towards us. “How did he get that scar?”
“He took a shot from an axe from some trolls who had us cornered in an alley,” Gabriel answered. “All three of us were beyond lucky to escape with our lives.”
“How did yours get it?” I inquired. “The Arena?”
“No,” Illyana answered. “One night he cried out in his sleep. When we got to him, his right shoulder and his side were injured.”
“The same spots Michael was hit,” I muttered. “How is it possible?”
“They’re connected,” Illyana answered. “If one is severely injured, it gets passed to the other. I’m certain that also applies to healing magic and who knows what else.”
“Did whoever created the fake connect the pair of them?” Aiko wondered.
“I don’t think either of them is an imposter,” Illyana stated. “I… I can’t explain it, but they both seem to be real.”
“And how exactly is that possible?” Callie wondered. “There’s no magic I know of that can perfectly duplicate a person. Especially not without their knowledge.”
“I don’t know of one either,” Illyana said. “But we’ll take them back to Wicadia and find out what happened. Don’t let them fight.”
“I… will not fight at the expense of myself,” Michael managed, regaining some control over his body.
“I concur,” the other Michael stated.
“Then let’s find a way to resolve this,” Illyana said. “There’s no telling what other kinds of problems this kind of magic could cause.”