|A Dangerous Game
Author: TechnicolorNina PM
Why are there no Yubel support cards? Pegasus isn't playing Yubel's games . . . or at least, he thinks he isn't. Pegasus and Yubel. Sixth in the All That We Are series.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Pegasus J. C. & Yubel - Words: 3,094 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 1 - Published: 01-20-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5683142
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: A Dangerous Game
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!: GX
Pairing/Characters: Pegasus, Yubel
Word Count: 2 912
Spoilers: Third season.
Story Rating: PG-13/T
Story Summary: Why are there no Yubel support cards? Pegasus isn't playing Yubel's games . . . or at least, he thinks he isn't.
Notes: This universe is starting to need a name. Any suggestions? Also, none of these cards (except Yubel, of course) are real; all of them were created for this story.
Feedback: There may be something out there that's better than a review containing concrit, but if there is, I haven't found it yet. So if you have two minutes and you wouldn't mind? Please? Arigatou. (And concrit is cool. Flames are not.)
Special Thanks/Dedications: Thank you to Kevin from AnimeExplosion, who very kindly vetted the effects of the made-up deck in this story to ensure the cards 1) would work within the existing framework of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game and 2) were balanced enough to be realistic.
A darker dream that has no ending Will the ghosts go away?
That's so unreal you believe that it's true
A dance of death out of a mystery tale
The frightened princess doesn't know what to do
Will she will them to stay?
Either way, there's no way to win . . .
Will the ghosts go away?
-- "Dangerous Game," Jekyll & Hyde
How he knows it's finished he doesn't know, any more than he knows when he came into this room and began to paint. He got home at six-thirty and sat down to dinner almost immediately, so logic says he couldn't possibly have entered the studio before a quarter past seven, but beyond that time is an unmarked slate—until he glances at the clock and sees that it's now a quarter to midnight.
Four and a half hours. Four and a half unaccounted hours that, even for the small size of the painting in front of him, are not nearly enough to draw and correct and block and paint. For a simple design four and a half hours would be ample, but this is far from a simple design.
There is a woman staring up at him from the two-foot-square canvas on the easel in front of him. He knows it is a woman, somehow, although he does not know how; he can see the edge of a single breast showing through the nearly-shredded fabric of the once-white robe this creature is wearing—some kind of wrapped thing, he thinks, that does not impede the large horned wings on her back—but except for the faintest suggestion about the face, there is nothing effeminate in the being on his canvas. He knows it in the same way that he knew, the first time he painted the Black Magician Girl, that her hair should be a bright golden blonde, not a darker shade, but then it was as though someone had spoken in his ear, told him. There is none of that feeling here.
Isn't there, shaman?
The door is locked—he never leaves it unlatched, for fear of prying eyes and light fingers even though he (mostly) trusts his staff—but he turns abruptly all the same, searching out the owner of that deep but somehow coquettish voice.
There is nothing behind him.
He looks back at the canvas, slowly, wondering without daring to speak aloud. He knows there are those who can see the spirits he has called forth with his brushes and paint; he also knows that sometimes, before he lost that accursed Eye, he could see them himself.
Sometimes he wonders if the molecules-thin layer of gold residue almost certainly left behind by the Eye, first embedded in his skin and then sealed in it when the socket was sewn shut, has left him with a residue of his own—a residue of power instead of metal.
These cards are important, shaman, that voice says again, so close he almost feels he could turn on the "record" feature on the tape deck he sometimes listens to and actually pick up something to play back.
"There's only the one," he murmurs aloud, and then his eyes light on the eyes of the woman in the painting—two-toned, one green, one orange. There is a certain kind of come-hither in them that he supposes would appeal to a certain kind of man . . . but then, he thinks, if those eyes were real, they would perhaps entrap any man who looked into them too closely, as a snake holds a rabbit. There is a triumphant light to them, as though the woman in the shredded, bloodstained robe with the dagger on her knee has overcome a great enemy . . . but they also look somehow desperate, helpless, and he realises with a jolt that even as the one who painted this canvas—if he is the one—he is unable to tell if she is laughing, or screaming. They are captivating—not by far the eyes of his Cyndia, nor any in which he would take any particular kind of interest, but they demand attention.
Enough to make a man lose sleep in more ways than one, if he were the right man, he thinks.
You painted this, and others like it, shaman, the voice says, and he goes without being bidden to the cabinet in the corner, the cabinet he hasn't touched in years—
—except for the stack of canvases from which he can still smell fresh paint, stacked within.
He pulls them out, spreads them over the table. All of them have the same quality as the one on his easel—the feeling that any moment now the eyes will start to move, the jewels will sparkle, the blood will seep through the canvas to stain the layers beneath it. They are more than just paintings; they almost look like photographs.
He dislikes the position of two of the paintings strewn across his worktable, and switches them. Then he looks at them all again and moves the third from the left to the end before putting the fifth from the right in its place.
Then he looks at the canvases again, and feels a chill creep over his skin.
He reaches out one hand and touches the first painting in the row, a girl in a dark dress holding out a goblet to the being in the portrait still sitting on his easel. This time the robe is untorn, draped loosely over her shoulders. A nightdress of some kind, then, maybe, since the window beyond is dark. "Poisonous Exchange" is pencilled on the loose edge of the canvas, as is the glyph "M/T". Magic/Trap. He turns it over, afraid but curious to see what kind of effect this particular card has been given, and is confronted not with his own small, looping handwriting, but with a series of curves and lines he does not recognise.
"What . . . . ?" he almost whispers, and hears a voice in reply—the voice that told him he painted this, and others like this.
Select one card from your opponent's hand, the voice says. Allow your opponent the same choice from your own. If the card selected is a Magic or Trap, it is to be exchanged with the opponent and placed in their deck, which is then shuffled. If it is a Monster, the player selecting it is dealt 500 points of damage.
He turns the next canvas, the one showing the girl in the dark dress alone and with a ghost of a crown on her head. "Maiden of Treachery 600/1200/3/dk" is written across the top, and on the back, more of those strange, curving symbols.
This card may not attack in the first turn it is summoned to the field, that strange voice tells him. If the Maiden is on your field during your opponent's Standby Phase, this card becomes part of your opponent's field for one turn. All attacks must be directed at this monster when she is on the field, and any battle damage accrued is negated and returned to the attacking player.
"It can't be destroyed . . . .?" he murmurs to himself, looking up at the winged woman on his easel. Somehow it doesn't feel right.
Oh, the battle will destroy her, shaman, the voice in his head assures him. Such as she are not intended to live, only to be used in exchange for pretty things and then thrown away. If he isn't much mistaken, there is a heavy element of scorn in the voice he hears.
He moves down the line, looking at the paintings, trying to remember when he painted these, gave them types and descriptions . . . and what is that alphabet, if it is an alphabet, on the back of these canvases? Whose hand wrote those foreign words in a foreign tongue?
He sees another image with that oddly-coloured, long-nailed hand in it, this time on the side of someone's face—stroking it, he thinks. Stroking the face and the thick brown hair above it. It's a gesture all the more poignant when combined with that taloned, mannish hand—poignant, yes, because the kiss depicted on the card is almost certainly the last one these two people ever shared. He doesn't know how he knows that this is a shred of truth, not a fiction; all he knows is that the image on the canvas is a true event.
The spell's effect is the only one he has seen that appears completely straightforward, and the only one he has seen written in his own hand: The player may regain 1000 LP by sending "Jubel" to the Graveyard. But, he thinks, there is no such card; he has designed hundreds of cards since the game's inception only a few short years ago, but his memory is nearly flawless, and he knows he has never created a card of any kind with that name.
Nor is it my name, shaman, that voice tells him, and with a sense of mixed awe and terror he watches his hand descend without his command to pick a pencil from a jar, watches it erase the word . . . and then stop. His other hand reaches out for a clean sheet of paper, and on it his first hand draws letters—draws, yes, like a small child still learning how to make a circle for an "o," a circle and a line for a "d," a series of curves for an "s." "Ieubel," his hand writes, then pauses and draws "Yubel" beneath it. The same name; two different dialects. He doesn't know how he knows that, either. The spelling he originally gave it had something of a German flavour, perhaps a Scandinavian one, but this is not a German name and most certainly not a German woman, either.
It means "little jewel," the voice tells him, sounding as though it thinks it's being helpful. But I'm not so little now, am I, shaman?
He drops the pencil as though it has grown spines and brushes a series of canvases aside into a haphazard pile. One of them sticks out, and he pulls it from the pile, somehow helpless to look away, and when his fingers land on the paint he does not see a portrait but a full town square. The figure from his newest creation is bound to a stake in the middle of that square, wood at her feet. She is crouched—as far as she can crouch with her hands chained behind her and a thick rope around her waist—and hissing, her teeth bared at the people in front of her. He does not understand the language they are mocking her in, but he doesn't need to—the hurt and anger in her eyes tell him enough. One of them—maybe drunk, perhaps just too full of himself for his own good—steps forward and seizes her chin in one hand, his other in her hair to keep her from pulling away.
The kiss is short, and ends with a scream. The man staggers backward, hand to his mouth as it is in the painting, blood spouting between his fingers. The woman spits something out, her entire face twisted in a mask of grief and disgust, and he's nearly sick when he realises the blood is not from a bitten lip but from the place where the man's tongue was a few moments ago.
He wrenches his eyes open and looks down at the painting. There is no title on it—not yet—but it, too, is a spell card, and though the back is written in that strange other language he realises that this time he can read it: the opponent gains 2000 Life, and then the ATK of all monsters on the opponent's field are combined, and dealt to the opponent as direct damage.
He attempted to steal a privilege that was not his to take, shaman, that voice says to him, angry and full of grief. As though stealing the man it belonged to weren't enough.
"The man . . . ?" But it is a question that needs no answer. The man is the same one from the portrait of the two lovers, the long-haired brunette with a brooch of some kind pinning a cape to his shoulder.
Which King? he wonders, and takes the last image from the table.
"No," he says, and "No. No more. No."
He was and is my beloved, shaman, the voice says. And you are the—the priest? They call it such in this world, yes?—the priest who will unite us once again.
The portrait is detailed—the engraving on the brooch, every fold in the thick fabric of the cloak over the man's shoulders, the shine of light on the sword he holds up—and every detail is perfect.
Every one except the face, that is.
The face that is nothing but white, unmarked canvas beneath a title: King of Supreme Sorrows.
This is what he thinks to himself as the flames in the fireplace blaze, devouring paint and canvas. They eat at the man with no face, lick along the edges of the poisoned goblet, cover the pair who are kissing while they die together in the dark. They devour the pencil that put those two words—Ieubel, Yubel, one name, two spellings—on the piece of tracing paper that is already ashes at the bottom of the grate.
He reaches for the last canvas—the winged, clawed woman with her torn and bloody clothes, her dagger, her eyes with their strange double-expression layered over a hint of seduction—and feels panic fill the room around him.
No! that voice shrieks in his head, no longer playing but genuinely terrified. No, you mustn't!
He pauses, the canvas only a gentle toss away from the flames. Part of him says that now is the time to end whatever strange thing has happened here—something odder than the Blue-Eyes White Dragon or even the Egyptian God Cards—even Ra, a card he is fairly certain may be about to start not just a duelling storm but a duelling hurricane. But there is another part, and that part . . .
That part says that leaving this strange, wild, half-human woman out of his game is a very big mistake.
My beloved is alive on earth at this moment, shaman, the voice says, calmer now that he's stopped moving but by no means at ease. As you must very well know. He feels the faintest ghost of what might be a touch, or maybe just an air current, against his right hand. This talent of yours does not extend to the living, but for those of us who have died, you are the medium whose brush draws us back into this world, for good or for ill . . . albeit in only a temporary form. You . . . awaken us.
He feels his eyes drawn back to the canvas. Awaken? He has woken the creature depicted in this painting?
My beloved is far more important a person than anyone would credit him with at this juncture, shaman, the voice tells him. He requires a guardian . . . as I was in his past. As you must help me to be in his future, lest all be lost.
"Mutou Yuugi?" The boy has shown surprising promise, and somehow this woman's words—for he has no doubt it is the creature in the painting speaking to him, bizarre as it may sound—do not surprise him.
I don't know that name, the voice tells him. He was called Samah Jyuudai by the people of our home. A good man, kind and just, but with the fate of all worlds on his shoulders. In our homeland we kept the Light of Destruction at bay for close on to forty years, but in the end it prevailed, and Delain as we knew it is no more. The time for that battle to be fought and won has come again to this time and place, shaman, and directed by your brush. You must give aid to set things right, or this world, like ours, will fall to destruction.
The fire crackles. He looks up at it and sees the hand of the Maiden of Treachery, the girl who set off the chain of events to damnation for a world this voice—this Yubel—claims to be far away and long ago, finally disappearing into the flames. Then he looks back to the canvas.
"Not this," he says then. "Never with this."
As you wish it, shaman, Yubel the dragon-queen tells him. I require only a gate to pass through to find my beloved that I may fight alongside him once again. Its form is of no importance, save that it must have one.
He puts the canvas down on the table and looks into the flames. Separation from a loved one by death . . . to be able to see and wish but never to touch . . . this is a thing he understands very well. Far too well, if truth be told.
Tell me, shaman, the voice asks. Will you paint me, and reunite me with the one I seek?
He decides he will.