A flurry of daggers flew through the air, tightly spaced but spread far enough apart to prevent Bel from dodging out of the way. He leapt up to avoid the ones near his feet and swept the rest aside with a blade of his own. Rasiel flexed his fingers, pulling the knives back towards himself. Bel flung a knife at the retracting blades and sheared a few of them from their strings. He dashed forwards as the knives fell to the ground, and the game was on.

Everything was moving almost too fast for him to follow. His eyes darted up and around and back at Rasiel as his body struggled to block, dodge, jump, run, duck… He knew that if he slowed down or slipped up even once, Rasiel would win.

Bel slashed his way through the web of knives and strings to the smirking spider in the middle. Sidestepping Rasiel's side kick, Bel swiped a fallen dagger from the grass and jabbed it through a tiny opening in his guard—Rasiel flung himself downwards, reaching for the back of Bel's knees in an attempt to unbalance him. Bel kicked him hard in the face. A satisfying crunch sounded as blood dripped down Rasiel's chin and stained the grass. He swore and spit a tooth out of his mouth, along with a glob of blood. His nose was crushed.

Bel made the mistake of throwing his head back in laughter—Rasiel slammed a knife-hand strike against the inside of his thigh, hitting Bel's femoral artery. He collapsed on top of Rasiel. The two brothers grappled at each other, throwing close-range punches and knee strikes with glaringly poor technique.

The blade of a discarded dagger ripped through the back of Bel's shirt and sliced a shallow cut in his skin. Grinning, he pulled it out from under him. Rasiel tried to knock it from his grasp, but Bel snickered through his teeth and drove the knife straight through his hand.

Rasiel howled. "Fuck!"

"Oops." Bel pinned him to the ground, giggles escaping his mouth. He swept the bangs from both of their faces to reveal faded red scars. "Look, brother," he crowed, "we match!"

Rasiel, struggling to breathe and clutching at his mangled hand, still managed to give him a piercing glare. The scars around his eyes stood in stark contrast to his unblemished cheeks. Bel reached out—Rasiel tried to punch him, screaming when Bel twisted the blade in his hand—and laid a hand on Rasiel's cheek. Such a beautiful alabaster canvas.

Bel set his knife gently against the side of Rasiel's face and traced an invisible line down to his chin. A warning of what was to come. Rasiel shifted anxiously underneath him, ragged breaths escaping his mouth. Bel pictured lines of red seeping blood across his pale skin.


He turned and looked at her, his lovely sister, Azrael with her soft voice and gentle eyes and power greater than anyone else's in the entire kingdom. He hated her, but they were the same in the end, veins hot with the same burning noble blood, so he loved her—at times, he wished he could bring himself to kill her.

He said, "I'm going to kill him." A challenge.

Azrael tilted her head, blond tresses sliding silkily over her shoulder. "No, you aren't."

"Yes, I am!" Bel stabbed his knife through Rasiel's other hand to pin him down and stood up, ignoring his howls. "You can't stop me."

"Can't I?" Azrael stepped out from the shadow of the wall, the sunlight illuminating her beautiful features: porcelain skin, the envy of every tittering noblewoman; camellia-pink lips frozen in a knowing smile; crystal eyes hiding an ocean of dark secrets…

Bel despised his own helplessness in the face of her—was it beauty? Charm? Familial love? He stifled a giggle. No, certainly not that. He couldn't fathom what it was that prevented him from lifting his hand and embedding a knife in her heart. But it didn't matter.

"Nope," Bel declared, meeting her gaze with a smirk. "I may not be able to kill you, but you can't stop me from killing him!" Satisfied with this defiant announcement, he turned his back on Azrael and idly kicked at his brother's twitching body. He twirled his knife around his fingers, humming a cheerful, nonsensical tune.

Azrael only smiled. "We'll see."


Bel looked down to see Rasiel glaring at him through a freshly blackened eye. "Hm?" he prompted.

"You bastard," Rasiel gasped out. "I'm going to fucking kill you—"

"Language, Rasiel."

"Shut up, idiot sister." After a moment, Bel added, "You too, idiot brother. In case you've forgotten, we're twins."

Azrael's smile never faltered.

Realizing that he'd gotten sidetracked, Bel returned to perusing Rasiel's face. Somehow, he no longer felt like carving the intricate designs he'd imagined. "Idiot sister," he called, frowning, "you've ruined my fun."

"Apologies," Azrael murmured, looking entirely too remorseful for him to believe it.

Bel huffed and spun the knife twice before driving into Rasiel's shoulder. Muscle tissue squelched and bones squeaked. Rasiel groaned, head lolling to the side. "Oops!" Bel cried. "I already injured you too much; you aren't screaming." Disappointed, he stabbed Rasiel in the chest, then through the stomach a few times for good measure. He gave his brother one final kick to the temple and stood.

Azrael was gone.