Longinus Connor leaned against the wall on his right side. He stood quietly at the Corrida Coliseum II's entrance, observing another person who trained at the center of the arena. Connor's face was tense, his senses were up, though his mind focused on the person in there...he could still feel what was happening around the nearby parts of the closest city of Dressrosa.
There it was. The lustrous jade coliseum that stretched on for 207,000 square meters. The masterpiece of Dressrosa, Corrida II. Its audience seats were lined in circular rows of a hundred seats each, forming concentric circles around the true stage itself. It was an open, circular space, framed with walls painted with floral designs of all colors in the rainbow. It was truly a spectacular place, worthy of being any warrior's final battle.
However, instead of that, it was being used as a training ground. A youthful individual with brown hair covered in a dark green bodysuit stood at the center. The man held two spears, one gold and the other crimson. With a deep breath, the man held both spears and retracted his arms so that the tips of his spears pointed back. In a single, clean and powerful movement, he snapped both arms outward, swinging both of his spears with enough strength that the wind itself moved in the direction of his slash. Shockwaves of such strength and precision were emitted that steel training dummies almost two hundred meters away were cut perfectly in half with almost no interval of time felt.
However, the spearman paused. He could feel an antagonistic presence eyeing him from the entrance of the coliseum. Without any hesitation, the man turned around and identified the individual peering at his training routing. He needed only to take a single step, and he had appeared on the wall opposite where Connor stood, causing a marking on the wall to disappear. "Can I help you with something, Connor? You normally do not interrupt my training." This fearsome man was none other than the Crown Prince of Dressrosa, and the eldest child of the Longinus Family: Longinus Judas.
Connor kept his cool, despite his brother's sudden appearance. He was used to it since quite some time ago. He eyed his brother. "Indeed, I wouldn't like to interrupt you..." Connor paused, a vein popping up on his forehead as his hands tightened into fists. His eyes hovered around the coliseum from time to time. "However, recently, I have been thinking about many things. And noticed that all of the subjects...culminate into you."
He looked around. "It's...q-quiet, okay"
Connor paused a bit again, checking for any questioning expression on Judas' face. His eyes looked around once again. "I-I remember all the scenes of the fight that transpired between you...and late brother Yeshua..." Connor breathed, his right foot tapping on the ground as his eyes did a quick scan of the place once again. "You're supposed to be so strong...a role model for the others..." The image of a dead Yeshua flashed in his mind. "Yet...how could you submit yourself...fully...to that woman?!" He grit his teeth, pointing at the direction of the castle with his thumb.
"What stops you from killing me...or the others?!" Connor pointed furiously at Judas, expecting any answer at this point. He looked behind himself quickly and turned again towards Judas. "If you may as well do it, it may as well be in a fight!"
"..." Judas was silent for a moment. The topic of Yeshua's death always caused him to become absent-minded. Even now, he felt the spirit of Yeshua haunting him through his blood-red spear. But it was a feeling he had become used to. But to think, his own younger half-brother had been so blind as to avoid seeing the reality of their Mother's cruelty. Or...was it a coping mechanism?
"Was that it?" Judas asked, as he began to walk away, turning his back from Connor. "Let me answer your questions, one by one. I shall see if you believe my words." Judas did not dare say Connor was delusional. After all, under the exposure of the Red King, any mental condition had become...normal. "I submit myself fully to our Mother because there is a clear difference between us, Connor. Or did you forget the Day of Red?"
The image of Niu cloaked fully in blood came to mind once again. Involuntarily, his red spear had begun shaking violently in his hand, but Judas tightened his grip and refused to let go. "And what stops me from killing you and the others...is that woman herself." Judas' voice traveled to the air, as opposed to Connor. Was he attempting to console himself? It was a matter that he couldn't guess. As the Crown Prince answered these questions, however, a vision came back to his mind once more.
The King, when Judas was eight years old and had achieved victory over Yeshua. A genuine smile appeared in Niu's face on that day. And yet...tears streamed down her face. Judas, till this day, has never asked that woman about the circumstances that lead to that conflict. Nor did he dare to raise the question of her tears. But...perhaps there was something he was missing, even after all these years.
Connor grunted at Judas' seeming mockery towards the question, feeling that his brother made less of it than it is. "The Day of Red is one of those I can never forget..." His fists tightened even more as the memories flooded his mind. Connor didn't lower his guard either, his eyes which once hovered to the scenario now observing the many mannerisms of his brother. Judas was quite expressive when it came to gestures, at least in Connor's opinion, though he wasn't completely readable.
"Stops you...? So you could say you're pretty much out for our head...even if we don't betray Mom?" Connor's face gained a frown as he observed Judas' expression and gestures. "I'm still surprised you seemed to never question her though...I could never feel it from you. And for some reason it bothers me...but seems I was right...you really are willing to kill me...us" This time, Connor looked at the scenario once again.
Connor sighed. "I may as well give you an opportunity now...a serious battle, no one's here." He grunted, his right hand hovered over his left one, which trembled. "I don't think the King values me that much, our siblings don't talk much to me either...none of you would be at loss if we carry on."
"...What poor self-esteem." Judas noted as he held his spears in his hand. "If you believe you can defeat me, then come at me with all your strength. But before that, answer a question for me. Would you like me to use a single spear or both of them? You must understand that this red spear harbors the will of our brother, Yeshua." It was a peculiar question Judas asked. But anyone with keen eyes like Connor's would be able to see that the blood red spear in Judas' hand was trembling in anticipation, with Judas' grip being the only thing to control its rampage. Was it truly possessed?
Connor breathed heavily as he stared at his brother and the words sank in. He began to sweat, feeling the aura coming off from the spear. "W-Will?...Brother Yeshua?" Connor questioned, almost at himself. It was the same sensation he felt those many years ago when Yeshua and Judas fought. Connor's eyes widened and his mind quickly worked to make a conclusion. This was brother Yeshua's spear and an additional weapon which would aid Judas in combat.
Connor would think that Judas would have become less powerful with the use of just one spear, but... "I...d-don't want to s-see brother Yeshua, no, I don't want him to suffer by helping you killing someone...I ask you to use a single spear."
"I understand." Judas stated, he spun his blood red spear with tremendous velocity, forcing the very winds to wrap around the polearm. In the next instant, what would look like a mere snapping motion would occur. The spear had left his arm, following a sonic boom that would resound in the ears of both princes. It made contact with the nearest jade wall, and what could be heard was a piercing "crack" so violent that it caused the nearby animals to screech and retreat. The impact had, in fact, broken through the first layer of orichalcum in the wall — a nigh invincible material — and had thus hung there for both brothers to clearly see.
"Ah...I never mentioned the names of my spears to you all, did I? Now is an appropriate time, then." Judas pointed to the red spear he threw moments ago, "That was Nekama Aduma, the Red Revenge. Or, as I like to lovingly call it, the Rose's Revenge." Judas switched his golden spear over to his right hand, pointing its tip towards Connor with murderous intent. "This is Yerusha Muz'hevet, the Golden Legacy. I have a nickname for this one as well...the Golden Heirloom." As he spoke, an almost devilish grin appeared on his face, with his shining teeth on display, and eyes narrowed. It was an almost ghastly, artificial sight from the Crown Prince. And yet here it was...in the flesh.
"Before we begin, allow me to tell you something amusing, Connor." Judas began to chuckle, "The last time I used a single spear in combat...was when I murdered Yeshua. Would you like to know where those techniques came from?" Judas' tone went grim, "Our dear mother." An eery silence followed his words, the tension so heavy it could only be penetrated with a spear. "This spear will give you, but a glimpse, of the enemy you should be fighting, my dear brother."
Connor's single eye widened as much as it could once the spear pierced through the walls. Not only the animals felt intimidated by the event, though they were mostly because of the loud sound, while Connor himself got to witness it all. Once he calmed himself a bit more, Connor nodded at the names of the spears, the tension on the atmosphere was dropping down, at least for him...
But then it all came back as Judas spoke once again. Connor shivered, his brother was chuckling. Not even their King did that, not once, not twice, never. He couldn't deny it if Judas wanted to intimidate him, he succeeded. But, Connor had to swallow all of this fear and try to use it to not lose. However, he surprisingly felt slightly more at ease at the last words of his brother. "...s-should...?" He muttered, more to himself as he gestured with his head for them to get into the arena.
Judas walked calmly to the center of the arena. Even though Connor was behind him and, by all means, could have attacked him at any given moment, he knew the man's paranoia would not allow a reckless sneak attack. No, more than that, Judas understood that Connor would never fail his training, even if it were from his current enemy. He reached the center of the arena, as the wind died down slightly. The Crown Prince turned around, and with a sincere smile, told his younger brother, "I am glad you kept your training in mind, Connor. Out of all of the Longinus siblings, you were the only one who kept to your principles." However, his smile faded once more, "Unfortunately...even with that fact, I cannot show you mercy."
Connor swiftly followed his brother, though he walked a few meters behind him. For a split second, the thought of attacking his brother then and there came to Connor's mind, but he instantly shrugged it away. This isn't how he was raised. Connor came here and showed himself to Judas so they could resolve this, not only would this make their conversation pointless, but it would spit on his principles.
Connor's eye shot open once Judas spoke. "I...u-understand." He felt thrown back by the comment, more even by the fact that Judas seemed to really mean it, yet had to remind himself Judas wasn't whom he thought he was. Connor had previously admired him, not only because he was the oldest brother...but because of the Warrior and person he was. That is...until that night. "This sword was given to me by my father, it isn't really s-special...but it holds me some value. If you allow me, J- Brother Judas...we shall commence." He showed his katana.
He instantly dashed towards the older prince and held the handle of his katana using his right hand. However, Connor didn't close all the gap between them, choosing to make his right arm instantly shift into a dark red substance and burst forward, drawing the katana upwards in a diagonal slash against Judas' torso.
Judas observed Connor's tone of voice. He was losing confidence in this battle already. But as the eldest sibling, Judas was given a duty, by his Queen, to do one thing: make sure no child of the Longinus suffers from the fate of death. He gripped his spear loosely, shifting it to his lower left, where the polearm intercepted the path of Connor's blade and the tip dipping underneath the sword. The illustrious, golden spear soon turned to a complete black, and Judas spun his hand to the left, lifting both his spear and the katana in a circular motion, exposing his younger brother to attack.
With not a moment to spare, Judas grabbed a hold of his spear with his left hand instead, pulling it downward and dashing forward with the intent of directly piercing through Connor's chest.
Connor almost choked upon seeing how gracefully Judas deflected his blow, making him open for attacks. But, still, his guard wasn't totally down. With the use of his Kenbunshoku, Connor was capable of feeling the type of movement Judas was about to do. He did the only thing he thought he could. Shift his body into Napalm, starting with his chest, in the form of a hole, which would make the spear pass through him.
The napalm which surged would fly into the air around Judas, as it was Connor's body being deformed. Connor opted to partially block Judas' vision with the immense amount of Napalm, reappearing behind Judas and the substance surrounding him. He had to hide from Judas. "Goshawk!!!" Connor yelled, delivering a sword slash against the surface of the Napalm, the friction being enough to produce sparks which would lit and make the substance explode with Judas within.
Judas was well-aware of the substance that now surrounded him. It was a black goo he found particularly foul but was nonetheless a viable, and impressive combat tactic to avoid being killed in that first strike. Judas had no time for admiration at this point, as he knew what Connor's next move would be, for he had encountered attacks much like this throughout his career as a Gladiator. "Longinus Style: King of Rejection." Judas changed the grip on his spear, moving his hand towards its end. He swung it in a wide arc surrounding him, much like one would a sword. It was a seemingly simple stroke, but its true purpose lay here. As Judas swung the spear full three 360 degrees, he heard the sound of Connor's technique. He used his left arm to grab the center of his spear. With a single, seamless motion, Judas flipped the spear so that its piercing point would face the ground directly, before impaling the ground with enough force to magnify the effect of the air pressure formed by Judas' previous stroke, pushing away the explosive Napalm as it created a ring of flames surrounding Connor and Judas, while leaving both intact.
As opposed to complete his maneuver here, Judas instead dug into the ground slightly more with his spear, before pushing it forward, and then upward, with enormous strength while still within the ground. The very earth began to crack under the pressure of Judas' spear, with the wave of force branching within the ground and seeking to topple Connor over through the quakes formed by the Crown Prince's spear.
Connor was overwhelmed with surprise as Judas completely got rid of the Napalm around him, sending it away. He tried to yell, but the words didn't come out. "Y-You...deflected it?!" He gritted his teeth and couldn't focus his Kenbunshoku properly, not seeing it coming when the ground beneath him shook. "That s-style... GAAAAAAAH!" His body stung in pain as it was hit by the shock, sending him away.
He took a tighter grip of his katana and pierced it against the ground. "Don't let it surprise y-you..." Connor used enough strength to stop his body from flying to the water. He panted heavily. "Y-You...really are the oldest sibling of the Longinus..." Gathering his courage and taking his sword from the ground, Connor dashed towards Judas, gripping its handle with both hands. "Too bad...our Brother can't be proud of you!"
The napalm surrounded his arms and then his sword, molding around it as it took form and became gigantic. All of it as he ran towards his brother. Connor readied the big sword to his left, it being almost three times his size. "Sparrow..." Swiftly he slashed towards his right, aiming for Judas' torso once again. "HAWK!!!"
"...I never needed him to be proud of me." Judas responded as he observed the gigantic sword coming towards his torso. There was no way to outright deflect this, and Connor was fast enough that Judas could not dodge this easily. He switched his spear hand to his left, carrying the spear with its point facing the incoming blade. "Walk: Parting of Moses." His spear glowed with an iridescent white, despite its coloration being pitch black. Judas pushed it against the blade of Napalm with great force. With a modicum of struggle, the spear perfectly split the Napalm away from his body, leading the other half of the sword to fall flat on the ground, releasing enough Napalm to cause minor burns on his body, which he shrugged off.
It should have been impossible, no doubt. However, Judas' Devil Fruit, the Teko Teko no Mi, operated on the principle of creating bridges that ignored all obstacles and, in the process, split them apart. When infusing that property into his spear, there was very little in this world that could not be cleaved in two.
"You are not fighting properly, Connor." Judas said, refusing to take a step. "Is this what I taught you? How dare you fight the eldest sibling of the Longinus Family with such paltry technique! If you wish to avenge your fallen brother and rebel against the Red King herself, then focus your heart, steel your mind and prepare your body to face death itself! Do not act as if such half-hearted resolve will get you anywhere!" Judas took upon the voice of a stern tutor teaching his student. If Connor was to see the truth, he had to see through all the deception. But that would not happen through simple fighting. The only way Connor learned, Judas found, was if something was drilled into him.
"The fruit capable of building bridges?!" Connor stopped for a second as his attack got overwhelmed. The words sunk in one after the other, those said by Judas that is. "Am I n-not?! Then why is it that you're using your powers? I can hold my own!" Deep down, it would seem as if Connor was more telling this to himself rather than to Judas. "I-It's easy to say but difficult to do, no?! I'm prepared...I'm prepared." He shook his head a little and began to summon Napalm from both his hands this time, his katana inside its sheath. "I'm n-not afraid of dying!!!"
The napalm took the form of large swords. "Sparrowhawk: LOVEBIRDS!!!" Two of them now, both being similar to the previous one, albeit now they didn't surround Connor's sword. "With them not around m-my katana...I can harden the Napalm without having to worry about it affecting anything!" He ran towards Judas once again. "MY RESOLVE IS NOT HALF-HEARTED!" He swung both of them from opposite directions and against his brother's torso, again.
"Predictable." Judas lamented, "Longinus Style: King of Karma." The Crown Prince placed his spear directly in front of him, as if he were to block Connor's attack from both sides. But he knew that simply blocking would not be enough. The man placed his left palm underneath the spear, and his right palm on top of the spear. In a single, swift motion, he pushed his left palm towards the sky, and his right palm towards the ground simultaneously with a burst of force. The spear began to spin of its own volition, accelerating at such a rate that the wind itself gathered towards the ends of the spear. Connor's attack was closing inwards, and the wind concentrated itself into drill-like shapes on the ends of the spear.
Suddenly, Judas' palms would grasp the spear once more and stop the spear right in its tracks, leaving all that concentrated air to burst outward as the spear's ends confronted Connor's napalm blades. The wave of pressure applied a degree of force onto the blades that reduced the strength of Connor's swing by a sizable degree. In doing so, when his spear came into contact with the blades of napalm, they had halted entirely, as if submitting to the will of the future king.
"D-Damn!" Connor wouldn't lie and hide his admiration towards Judas' prowess and attacks. He took his arms out of the immense napalm blades, seeing how they lost their inertia, while backing away quickly. However, Connor checked his hands all of a sudden and noticed the wounds in them, work of the clash against Judas' spear. His breathing got erratic and he immediately leapped towards Judas once again.
"I-I'm not done!!!" Sweat descended all over his face as he instantly reached Judas. Connor was losing himself between his battle plans. "GOSHAWK!!!" He rubbed his palms together countless times and rapidly pushed them against the Napalm, invoking an explosion. Despite this, Connor didn't remember the fact he was at point-blank from the explosion.
Judas' eyes widened at the actions of his younger brother. "YOU FOOL, GET OUT!" He shouted from the top of his lungs, but Connor's eyes were locked onto Judas, and refused to move. The Crown Prince grunted, and pushed off the ground with his strongest leg in order to leap forward into the explosion. "No...I won't let it happen this time!" He spread his arms out wide as he flew forward, grabbing his younger brother tightly and falling onto the floor in the vicinity of the explosion.
His entire body was soon coated in a black pigment, and the explosion triggered. A tremendous noise erupted within the arena, as flames towered over the illustrious coliseum. The fate of the two Gladiators, and Princes, were left only to fate.
Connor's eyes could only wide at the scene unfolding before him. His eyes saw red, his mouth felt dry, his expression wavered. Many different kinds of sensations filled his being, as he took his sweet time to what was truly happening sink in his mind. Judas' prior shouting had done nothing to help Connor's condition. In fact, he didn't hear the words which got out of his brother's mouth.
Judas' warm embrace, the visage of his worry, the smell of his sweat, the sound of his inner words. All of his senses, specially Haki, told him...no, yelled at him all at once. "He won't let it happen!!!"
Connor's heart had surprisingly found an answer, that he never thought it had sought, with those simple sensations. His eyes softened slowly and he responded the warm embrace with one of his own.
His Kenbunshoku Haki was not only skilled, but also incredibly fast. It could tell him all of what was happening at Dressrosa and all of a person's thoughts. Like his Busoshoku, it was influenced by the years and years of immense animosity that Connor harbored for his mother and his eldest brother. Years of mistrust, of hate, of insomnia... it didn't vanish, but, Connor felt his body stop trembling... and most importantly...
Relief that he was wrong. Relief so great that it was enough to overshadow, even if for the moment, all of that past animosity and fuel Connor's Busoshoku Haki. For the first time ever, Connor didn't know all of what was happening around him, all he knew was... him and Judas were instantly covered by an empowered Buso armor, taking away most of the subsequent damage to their beings.
Black fogged Connor's mind, but he didn't give matter to it at all.
"...You really are an idiot." Judas stated, as burns covered his body and broke through his Haki. However, Judas was smiling. "Listen, Connor." He began to speak, "I'm...sorry." There was only sincerity in his formerly regal voice, "I know...it was my fault that Yeshua died...But, please...I can't let you all die too. It's my responsibility as older brother to keep you all safe. So...even if you hate me, do not go against our mother. I...don't want to see you all die too..."
Connor's eyes openned and widened, once again, to the sight of Judas' wounds. He moved to try and check them out, but Judas' words quickly cut him off, making him listen. His ears took in all of the words, as Connor downed his head briefly and rose it to look at Judas.
"My animosity won't...fade right away, but...J- Brother, I'm not a warrior as capable as you, yet." He reached his right hand towards Judas, which trembled, but, this time, it wasn't out of fear, it was out of happiness. "And...after this, I-I can see that I've done a grave mistake...I was t-too blind... I will accept your apology, even if it's not needed. Let's carry this burden together, y-you w-won't be alone!" He took Judas in an embrace and only let his tears come out. Tears which had built up for decades.
His Kenbunshoku was back. "No o-one saw t-this..." Connor meakly stated, cleaning his eyes as he frenetically looked around. The fear of any presence having made it into the colisseum filling him. "Let's h-hurry and take care of those w-wounds, we ought to get back to training." He managed to smile at his brother.