The two Michaels faced each other. This time they didn’t show any interest in drawing their weapons or fighting. It seemed that Illyana had convinced them it was unwise to fight each other.
They were quickly exchanging information about what they’d been up to. Aiko kept close to her Michael. She seemed very protective of him.
“Never thought I’d see a situation like this,” Callie said. “When do you suppose they separated?”
I thought for a moment. “Well, they both seem to know me and remember their fight with Sadow. Maybe it happened after we fell in that hole.”
“That seems to be accurate,” Michael said. “He does not recognise Callie, Tynan or Gabriel. He recalls waking in the cavern, crawling out and making his way to Illyana. The Academy proceeded to treat his wounds. I, in contrast, was carried to Callie’s estate for treatment.”
“Our memories diverge at the point where we grabbed our swords,” the other Michael added. “It is highly probable that the blades themselves are somehow responsible for our current dilemma.”
“Well, if you two know that much you should have no problem fixing it, right?” Callie asked.
“You can have one of those divining spells used on the swords to figure out exactly what their magic is,” I added.
“It is unlikely to be that simple,” the other Michael stated. “It was my observation when I first noticed these blades, that they were likely forged by Hephaestus.”
“Which means that the magic instilled into them may not be readily replicable by ordinary humans,” Michael chimed in.
“Michael, don’t be so negative,” Illyana said. “We’ll figure it out.”
“We could always leave them as two,” Aiko suggested. “I can think of quite a few things they could do.” Her cheeks flushed and her tail wagged.
“Your companion is vulgar,” Michael stated, looking at his other self. “I am surprised you tolerate her.”
Aiko seemed shocked by his reaction. She looked almost like she was going to cry.
“She is speaking in jest,” the other Michael explained. “It is an attempt to lighten the mood.”
“Michael!” Aiko ran over and hugged him. He gently pat her head.
“I was not aware it needed lightened,” Michael said.
Looking at them arguing made me realise something. The other Michael had a lot more empathy. Our Michael seemed to take things more seriously and came across as more unapproachable.
“Well, one of them has human emotions,” Callie whispered. “Why couldn’t we get that one?”
“Shush, he’ll hear you,” I whispered back. Truthfully, I was grateful for his help. But I also wasn’t going to say she was wrong.
My work began in earnest as soon as we returned to Wicadia. Professor Mord, Aiko, Lynai, Callie, Tynan, Gabriel and both Michaels systematically went through every book on magic we had in the Academy library.
I locked myself in my mum’s office and used a reading spell to go through all the books that weren’t open to the public. I put a silence spell around the office itself to prevent the sounds of the books being read from escaping. Drake helpfully watched the door for me so I always knew when someone was coming to interrupt me.
It all proved to be in vain. There wasn’t any mention of any kind of spell that could fully duplicate a person. There were illusory doubles and spells for copying something on a temporary basis. Spells that could last twenty four hours at most.
The next step was checking the swords themselves.
The divination spell was easy enough. “I’m detecting conditional strength-enhancing magic as well as enchantments to increase the sharpness and lightness of the blades. The Phoebian Blade has built in magic that allows it to fire off great bolts of Void-fueled power. The Helion Blade Blade has built in magic that allows it to surround its wielder in an Aether barrier.” I reported.
“What are the conditions for the strength enhancing magic?” Michael asked.
“The Phoebian Blade and Helion Blade have slightly different conditions,” I answered. “The Phoebian Blade requires a high degree of empathy. The Helion Blade requires a high degree of rationality.”
“Why would that cause our separation?” Michael asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Theoretically, you should be able to have both.”
“This is not helping,” Michael stated.
“She is doing her utmost,” Michael countered. “It is not her fault. Besides, we have not found any clues either.”
Professor Mord chuckled aloud. “Sounds like you’re at war with yourself.”
“Maybe that’s the answer,” I muttered.
“What is?” Aiko asked.
“If someone tried to use both blades, someone who was used to burying his emotions in favour of rationality, what do you suppose would happen?” The more I thought about it, the more certain I was that I’d hit upon the solution.
“I get what you’re saying,” Callie said. “The buried, more emotionally in touch part manifested itself as a separate but connected version.”
“I don’t really get it,” Aiko said.
“I’m really lost too,” Tynan reassured her.
“I think I understand,” Lynai said. “He couldn’t use both swords as he was and the magic Hephaestus put into the swords somehow decided the way to fix it was to take those two different aspects of his personality and turn them into different people. Is that basically what it is?”
“Right,” I confirmed. “But because they are the same person, just different parts, they are connected to each other. When one gets seriously hurt, so does the other.”
“Wouldn’t that make both of them weaker?” Callie wondered.
“I have not felt as strong,” Michael admitted.
“I can confirm that,” Michael agreed.
“The weakening effect has probably been offset somewhat by the strengthening magic of the blades,” I stated.
“So, how do we get them to reform into one person?” Aiko asked.
“I may know a way,” I said. “But it won’t be easy, for either of them.”