I watched with utter disbelief as Neal and Alex fought.  My mind was filled with memories of our childhood and our years together in high school, the easy camaraderie of those early days.  They had been two of my closest friends, and they were family.  And now they sought to end each other’s lives.  This fact was difficult for me to fathom, even though I had known it was coming.

            Watching them, cousins and friends at odds, clashing together in armour on horseback, I was struck by a memory.  I could picture us as children in the fields of my grandparents’ farm, wearing imaginary armour and fighting imaginary battles as the knights of Camelot.  Now we had come full circle:  Arthur and Lancelot were fighting for Guinevere.  I was stunned at how our childhood game had seemed to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            Every blow they struck against each other caused me to shudder.  Evie tried to pretend she was indifferent, but I knew she felt those strikes deep in her bones just as I did.  Neither one of us wanted this to be happening.  While the two armies cheered whenever their respective leader scored a hit, I cringed either way.  I had loved these men as companions and brothers once upon a time, and could not applaud their battle.  I only wanted it to end.

            And then it did, with a finale that was as brutal as it was unexpected.  I marvelled at the audacity of the figure in white, who must have crept up in the night and lain there as it snowed, letting it bury him and his tracks.  He was as lucky as he was fearless, for the duel had begun far away and then moved to exactly where he could be the most effective.  I guessed that he had figured to burst out of hiding and attack Alex no matter where the duel went, but this positioning had been, for the killer, a fortunate turn of events.

            As shocked as anyone by this startling murder, it took me a moment to realize Eve was running out to the field by herself, drawing her slender sword to exact her revenge.  I sprinted after her, intent on keeping my sister from getting herself killed.  I ran as fast as I could, knowing that if I could not get there in time, she was doomed.

            I remembered my dream from the desert:  There was still snow, but the blizzard was no more.  I stood on a hill, holding a sword in my hand.  I wore leather armour, and warm furs.  My breath steamed from my nostrils and mouth, rising like smoke into the frigid night air.  A battle raged all around me, and the spilled blood steamed as it hit the snow, painting it red. 

            Several metres away I saw two figures struggling.  They were at the edge of the battle, away from the others, and I suddenly saw one drop its sword and fall.  I rushed towards them, and saw the other run, heading west towards the setting sun.  It set like a thin line of blood on the horizon and the sky was painted in rich violet as the stars began to come out, but I saw little of this.  I was more concerned with the fallen figure, lying at my feet in the snow.

            Long dark hair spilled around her face in waves.  Tendrils of it covered her visage, so I pushed the strands of hair away.  It was my sister, and a thin trickle of blood lined the edge of her mouth and headed down her cheek towards the ground.

            “Evie?”  I asked, his voice seeming to echo in the dream.

            “Ethan,” she answered, her voice carrying the same way, “Ethan, you must stop him.”

            “Who?”  I asked, clutching her hand in mine.  I looked into her eyes, such a dark blue, so different from my own, and I panicked.  She seemed to be drifting from me, hardly seeing me at all.  She looked up, perhaps at the stars, and I saw how blue her lips were, how pale her skin.  Her leather armour was bloodstained, but I couldn’t tell if any of it was her blood.

            “He is the Reaper.”  She said.  “The Dark Warrior.  He is the Tiger.  He is Death.  You must stop him.”  She closed her eyes.

            “Don’t leave me, Evie!”  I demanded.  I screamed it over and over, clutching her hand, my head tossed back.  I could see the stars, staring like billions of cold eyes in the dark, eyes that didn’t care what happened below, so long as they could go on watching.

            I had to stop it if I could.

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