Author: sarcasticrocker86 PM
On passage to the Valley of Kings, Ryo Bakura is left confused and hungry. He is given one night to find his answers, and the Millennium Ring is his only source. But is this really his chance for peace, or is it time for one, final game?Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Adventure - R. Bakura & Zorc - Chapters: 2 - Words: 13,609 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 10-26-10 - Published: 08-07-10 - id: 6215558
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Part One: Hunger Games
Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The black coat flutters against the air as he falls. He is so tired. His steps have been stumbles, his body aches, his head is dazed, lost and confused.
Why does he suddenly feel so very empty? Why does he feel like something has been ripped out of him? Like he has been gutted and left to drown in his confusion. He feels little relief as arms catch him. The warm body stumbles against his own sudden weight. A swift awful feeling overcomes him. He would almost double over in the pain if he weren't so weak and exhausted. This is a pain that pushes past every other discomfort he is feeling. It is biting and overcoming. His eyes are weighed down in his distress. He lets his head fall against his holder's shoulder. Suddenly, he can't think of much else to say. He only has one phrase to put his ailment.
"I'm so very hungry..."
Ryo Bakura frowned at the sudden memory. He placed a hand to his stomach as the other let another grape fall into his mouth. He didn't want to think about anything now. Everything was still so new... how could he focus enough to comprehend his position and to fulfill his body's needs? He shook his head and took another sip of milk. His feeling of starvation had passed, but his stomach was still raw. And he felt so distant from the world, like he was a ghost watching these turn of events from above. His friends saw his feelings, though. They always seemed to understand. After they had taken such careful care of him, they left him alone with his food, to regain his strength and find his head while they traveled by sea to the final resting place of the Pharaoh. Bakura suddenly paused. To find his head...
Spirit? Bakura called for the Millennium Ring's spirit quietly in his mind. There was no answer. Just like before.
They had tried to explain it to him. Why couldn't Bakura comprehend it himself? Why couldn't he bring himself to finally admit that the evil spirit was gone? Gone, after all of his suffering, his pain, his torment, his imprisonment. Why couldn't he let himself accept it? Because, Bakura knew as he filled his mouth with another rice cake, musing as he chewed with a thoughtful look on his pale face, every time he believed the evil one to be gone, he came back. And he always returned with a little more sting than before.
Bakura falls to his knees. Every muscle aches. His bones feel like fire. He's confused. Where is he? The pain pulses up and down his body like a flowing river of fire. That's it, Bakura realizes in the back of his mind. His veins are flames in his anatomy.
This isn't real. Bakura knows it. He is in his own dream. There can be no real pain here. But then, why does he hurt?
"'I am Ryo Bakura,'" he hears a dark voice say in the void surrounding him. "'I won't let you hurt my friends. I will fight, too.'"
Bakura hugs himself. He knows the words well. He knows the voice just as well. "Y-you..."
"Those were the words you said to me, remember?" the darkness still calls to him. "That was your first statement of defiance. Surely you must remember?"
"How are you...?"
"It's funny, boy. You think that hiding behind your friends and running from my Ring can save you. But look at yourself. Look at me. We're two sides of the same coin, little Ryo. You are the light. I am the darkness." The voice pauses for a moment of waited torture to Bakura. "Still, though," the voice finally says, "you seem to be catching onto my own shadows rather fast. Why, you'll be just like me in no time."
"I don't want to be you! I want you to go away and leave me alone!" Bakura tries to scream out in another act of rebellion, but it is quickly squashed by a sharp pain in his head. He falls to the floor he can't see.
"It hurts, doesn't it?" There is a soft laugh. "Did you know that you aren't actually experiencing any pain? Why don't you look a little closer at this 'hurt' you feel, hmm?"
Bakura doesn't want to listen to the voice. But in order to fight a danger, he knows, he has to face it. He does as the Spirit bids and shuts his eyes, scouring through his mind. A strange sensation fills him, and he feels as though he is being carried away. Away to somewhere far from the void. Into his own mind. In an instant Bakura tries to pull away in fear. He knows where the Spirit is taking him. The Ring Spirit is going to take him into the fearsome darkness of Bakura's own mind.
A thousand nightmares can't express all of the pain and suffering his mind can conjure. And the Spirit is always there remind Bakura, as he suffers through all the crippling images, that it is not the Spirit that creates this awfulness, but it's Bakura's own heart.
The Spirit was right, it isn't the physical pain that torments him. It's the pain of knowing, far inside his soul, the Spirit has been speaking the truth.
The shadows are overcoming Bakura.
Tonight is a night that will haunt him forever.
"The funny thing about thieves, Bakura," a voice said from the doorway, "is that they're almost always lying."
Bakura broke away from his sullen memories in surprise. Yugi smiled at him from the doorway. No... not Yugi. This was the Pharaoh. The one who had freed him.
Or, Bakura thought quietly, so they all believed.
"What are you talking about?" Bakura was suddenly frightened. What would the Pharaoh want with him? Was he coming for penance for the crimes Bakura's Ring had done to the noble king?
"There is no need to be afraid, Ryo. I would never want to harm you."
Bakura stopped. He was rarely called Ryo anymore. But, as his mind picked apart the sentence, the surprise quickly turned to despair. "And why wouldn't you want to penalize me? If it weren't for me, my Spirit would never have attacked you or stolen from you like he did. It's all my fault, Pharaoh! I'm the vessel that lets him be here—in this world! He told me so! What have I ever done other than put you all in danger!" Bakura was shaking. He tried to calm himself down. "I'm so selfish, Pharaoh," he cried in desolation. "The Spirit showed me. Do you know how many times I've murdered the drunk driver who killed Amane? Do you know how many times I cursed my father on his expeditions for leaving me alone again and again? You, of all people should know how selfish I am. I can't even let myself stay away from you all. I want friends so badly I don't care that they're in danger! Pharaoh, I'm no better than the Spirit of the Ring! You should punish me! I've done nothing to deserve mercy. Every time I've had the chance I've thrown it back in your faces."
The Pharaoh let Bakura go on without a word. He listened intently. By the end, Bakura was at the Pharaoh's feet. The Pharaoh's heart ached at the site. Such ancient humility. Such childlike innocence.
"Ryo," he said softly. "Get up. Please."
But Bakura showed no sign of rising. Finally, the Pharaoh sighed sadly and knelt down to the boy himself. The former king of Egypt had learned so much recently. He had no idea how much time had passed since he had been engulfed in his memories, but the Pharaoh did know he was no longer the same person. He would be forever different. "Ryo," he tried to gently raise the teen's head to meet his eyes, but Bakura stubbornly refused. "Ryo, your strength and purity is what allowed you to survive all the evil you've had to endure. You are not the Spirit of the Ring. You are not the same Bakura."
Now Bakura stared up at the Pharaoh. "Did... did you just call him 'Bakura'?" Bakura was truly shaking now. Out of all the things the Spirit had stolen, he had thought his name would remain intact, safe from the Spirit. And now the Pharaoh called this thief Bakura.
The Pharaoh nodded sadly. Slowly, so as not to shock the poor teen, he reached into his pocket and revealed the Millennium Ring to Bakura. Bakura fell back at the sight of it. He shook his head swiftly. "No. I don't want it. Not anymore."
But still the Pharaoh kept his hand out. "It wants to show you one, final thing."
"But I don't want it. Keep it. You need it more than I do."
"Just for tonight, Ryo. Just one more time."
Suddenly, Bakura stood stubbornly, his humility fallen to outrage. To terror. "No!" he shouted. "Keep it away from me! I don't want it to touch me again! Don't you see what it did to me? Look at my eyes, it feels like I haven't slept without nightmares in years! Look at my hands, I can't imagine what evil they've done! Look at my chest!" Bakura raised his striped shirt. Five small scars revealed themselves. "I don't want to see that... thing again! Please, Pharaoh! Don't make me put that back on! Please!"
The Pharaoh had not expected a reaction this strong. Still, it was only fair that the boy feel this way. He sighed again. "Very well, Ryo. But I will leave it in your charge tonight. You never know. Maybe after a little sleep, you will feel more up to it."
Bakura didn't look at the Pharaoh as he placed the Ring on the table, then proceeded out of the room. Just as the door opened and the Pharaoh was stepping out, Bakura called hastily, "Atem, I— Pharaoh, I mean. Wait."
The Pharaoh turned and stared at Bakura. Bakura said nervously, "Tell Yugi I said good luck. And, Pharaoh?" Bakura looked down suddenly. He faltered with his next words.
"Yes?" Pharaoh waited.
The Pharaoh smiled. "Of course." And he left with that. He had a duel to prepare for.
Bakura stuffed another cream puff into his mouth. His stomach had been aching sharply during the talk with the Pharaoh, and he tried to concentrate on satisfying his hunger, rather than on the golden object almost staringat him as he ate. A drop of cranberry juice dropped onto Bakura's jeans, and he stared down in annoyance. As he started trying to wipe away the stain with his napkin, his eyes he met at the soft, pink scar on his left arm. He lingered on it, bringing a hand to stroke it gently. His eyes jumped back up suddenly. He couldn't think about it. Just like he couldn't think about the Ring, or the other "Bakura." He just couldn't think.
He tried in vain to turn back to his food.
The Millennium Ring continued to stare.
As the Pharaoh stepped back down the hall to his room, Yugi appeared in his transparent spirit form beside him."Do you think Bakura will be all right?" he asked anxiously.
"I don't know," The Pharaoh admitted. "I don't think he will be until he is able to face his problem. He's hiding."
"But all he said when we found him was that he was hungry. Is there something he's not telling us?"
"I believe so, Yugi. The Spirit always suppressed his emotions. Now that there is no one to hold those emotions back, Ryo is confused."
"So that's why he's so upset? Because he's never really dealt with those emotions before? What about the other times we saved him?"
"Don't you understand, Yugi? The Bakura of the Ring has never really been gone before. He's always had a piece there, inside Ryo's mind. You cannot just erase that in one night."
"But what does the Item have to do with this?"
"That's for Ryo to find out."
Bakura's eyes snapped open, his heart pounding. He had fallen asleep somehow, and the nightmares plagued him once again. Stiffly, he brought his head up and rubbed the back of his neck. He wondered how many years would have to pass before they would fade away.
He looked at the Millennium Ring, and his face set into a glare. If it hadn't been for you, he thought, I would have had a fine life. I mean, Amane's dead, but I would have learned to move on. Because of you, I can't let go of her. Because of you, I can't trust myself. Even with you gone, how am I supposed to ever just shake you off? Like you never existed? How am I ever supposed to have a normal life after you came and ruined it?
The Ring did not answer. The only way he was going to get one, Bakura knew, was by wearing that Ring one, final time. Just as the Pharaoh had said. But what if Bakura didn't like the answer?
Bakura was so afraid so often. The only time he ever felt true courage was when his friends were in danger. But here? On his own? Why would he want to learn anything the dark Item had to offer?
But Bakura had to try. Just once, he had to try.
Slowly, fearfully, the boy placed a hand on the Ring, and for a moment his fingers lingered on the sharp spikes hanging off the end menacingly. But he sighed, and carefully fit the cord around his neck.
The sensation of having your spirit ripped from your body is never a pleasant feeling. And although Bakura cries out in pain, he cannot be heard. It feels as though he is being tossed forever in a sea of broken dreams and tragic memories within his own soul. The agony of seeing these awful thoughts and feelings laid out before him far exceeds the actual pain of being virtually torn apart. But, mercifully, the pain subsides in a moment, and Bakura is left swaying in the dark.
He immediately panics. Where is he now? Is he going to be tortured one more time? The Spirit's final revenge? Bakura begins to tremble in fear. Something tells him not to worry. There will be no real pain.
This is little comfort to know.
The scene changes, and the black begins to form into something. His feet are bare, it sifts in the sand as he stumbles. He feels so small. He stares down. He is no longer wearing his same clothes. He touches his hair. It's shorter. He stares at his hands. They're too small to be his, but how can that be?
"Bakura!" someone screams his name. He turns swiftly. A woman, blood pouring down her head, is staggering toward him. For a moment, he is afraid. Does this woman need help? What could he be expected to do? She had called him Bakura, yet he has no memory of this at all.
"You are not the same Bakura."
Bakura, for one long, terrible moment, can hear nothing but the terrifying beat of his own heart.
He is in the body of the Spirit of the Millennium Ring. Before he had ever been a Spirit.
When he was just a child.
Bakura stares back at his hands. He looks back to the woman, but she is gone. Frantically, Bakura turns round and round in search of her. All around there are fires and screams. He is lost among the cries. The crude buildings and homes remind Bakura that the Spirit had lived so long ago. In Ancient Egypt. But why is there so much destruction? Two large men, clad in clothing marked with some ancient marking on each article, stand before him. In their hands are spears. On their sides, swords. These are soldiers. Egyptian soldiers. Maybe they will help this place, whatever is going wrong.
But why are they both laughing?
"Look!" one soldier points a hand to Bakura. "It is another cur! Akunadin will be pleased. This one almost got away."
Bakura is too stunned to move. This body has to be no more than ten years of age, what are they thinking of doing to him? He does not miss the blood on the soldiers' arms and spears.
The other soldier cries, blood lust filling his voice, "This one will be the final sacrifice. In the Pharaoh's name, none shall be spared!"
The Pharaoh? Bakura stares into the eyes of the men, pleading without words.
The second soldier starts to approach Bakura, unsheathing his sword."Wait," the first solder stops the other suddenly. "This is the last one, after all. Why don't we let it last just a little longer?"
Bakura feels his stomach lurch as the second soldier asks, "How?"
"He can make a run for it." The soldier smiles evilly at the child and says, "You have five minutes to run as far from here as possible. But if we find you, tiny thief, you will be the last act of justice to the gods."
Justice... Bakura is sickened. But his fear overcomes his repulse. He turns immediately and races as far from these men as possible.
This body is strong, but it is still so young. Bakura is out of breath before long. The night is illuminated by the fires, and Bakura feels far too exposed. He hurries, breath rasping, for some kind of shelter. He turns the corner and hugs the walls, searching for any sign of the soldiers as he looks for shelter. He enters a courtyard. It is darker here; his eyes struggle to adjust as he crouches to avoid sighting. He tries to cross the courtyard, but in a moment he stumbles over something. He falls over and feels the sudden bulk cover him, and struggles to push it off. He can begin to make shape of the object with his hands.
He freezes once he realizes he is holding someone's ice cold arm.
Bakura falls back in shock, a cry escaping his lips. His eyes finally begin to take shape of the piles of corpses he has accidentally stumbled onto. A scream begins to rise in his throat, but he forces it down. If they heard him, if they found him, he would be as good as dead. Slowly the boy tries to crawl away from the horror. He suddenly feels uncomfortably wet. His mind screams not to look at himself, to just leave and run away from this awful place, but his frozen terror numbs himself from any reason. He stares down, and sees the mass of blood on his wool robe.
This time he cannot hold back his scream.
Bakura cried out as he fell back on the floor. He threw off the Millennium Ring in his terror. It fell against the ground with a sickening clatter. Bakura tried to stand again, but he was too drained. He fell onto his hands and knees in failure.
It was the worst time possible for a knock on the door.
Bakura wanted to say something in the like of, "I don't feel very well. Could you come back when I've convinced myself I'm not going insane?" but all he could do was moan. And that, he knew, would do the opposite of having the others leave him alone.
The door opened quickly. "Bakura?" Joey asked as his eyes met Bakura on the floor. "Bakura! Are you okay?"
"I, I..." he could say little more.
"Oh, man. Tristan! Get in here! Bakura's not lookin' too good."
Tristan hurried in at his friend's call. "What's going on?"
"Beats me, but we've gotta get him up before he pukes all over the floor. This boat may be big but... I doubt that the smell won't carry."
"Jeez, pal," Tristan muttered as he and Joey pulled Bakura off his knees. "How many times do we have to carry you around? Sooner or later, we'll have to keep a stretcher around, reserved solely for you."
Bakura could only say, "Bathroom..."
"Aw man! We'd better get him to that toilet!"
Luckily for all of them, there was a separate restroom for the kitchen. The two stronger boys were only just barely quick enough to get Bakura to the desired toilet before Bakura fell onto it's rim and let loose all of his stomach's contents that he had striven so hard to fill.
"Gross!" Joey and Tristan fell back at the vomiting. Tristan asked, "What happened here?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Joey laughed and gave Bakura a good slap on the back, which only made the albino's uncomfortable situation even worse. "He isn't an experienced eater like we are. Bit off more than he could chew, get it?"
"Don't be an idiot, Joey. He really doesn't look too good. Maybe we should find him a doctor. I'm sure there's one somewhere on board."
"No!" Bakura rasped, his throat dry. "No, I'll be fine. Joey's right, I ate more than I should have. That's all."
Tristan and Joey both hesitated. "Well, maybe we should just stick around..."
"Hey, Joey, Tristan!" Téa appeared at the door. "You have to see this! Mokuba is dueling Rishid... and winning!"
"What?" Joey exclaimed.
Tristan laughed. "Looks like he isn't quite so tough after all, is he, Joey?"
Joey fumed, the Battle City duel strong in his mind. "Rishid's just faking it! How could you not let a kid with a face like that win? It's like pounding a teddy bear at hopscotch!"
"Sure, sure," Téa said, not completely convinced. "Are you coming or not?" She glanced in the room, and finally set her eyes on Bakura. "Is Bakura okay?" she asked.
"I'm fine," Bakura replied, still hunched over the toilet. He said to Joey and Tristan, "You should go and see yourself. I'll be along soon. After all, it's going to be quite the show to watch you try to defend your credentials, Joey." He managed a weak smile.
Joey scowled. "All right. All right. Let's go see. I'll bet ya he's goin' easy on him..."
"Oh, yea, sure..."
Bakura was reluctant to see them go, but then he reminded himself harshly of all the trouble he had caused for them. The shame reddened his cheeks. He was too ashamed to want to even follow them. He wished they had left him in Egypt. He could have found a way to get back home quietly, then. But he had been unconscious when they brought him on the boat, and there was no quiet escape here. So the British teen was determined to wait out this trip in solitude. In fact, his sudden sickness would make a convenient excuse for him to stay behind tomorrow for the final duel between Yugi and the Pharaoh.
Bakura sighed. He didn't deserve friends like this.
He washed his mouth out and looked back at the table of food. Now that his stomach was empty again, he would need to eat more to compensate for that. But would he just vomit again at the first bite? His stomach growled already.
Bakura was about to take a bite of the spaghetti, when a glow stopped his thoughts short. The Ring shone brightly on the ground. Bakura felt his stomach lurch again in remembrance. If those really had been the other Bakura's memories, Bakura was horrified. Why would someone do that to a town? To a child? Bakura sat back on the chair, confused. He didn't know what to think anymore. Was he feeling pity? Pity for the darkness that had tried to swallow him whole? But to do the things the Spirit had done to him, to steal from him again and again, it was wrong. Yet, Bakura felt pity. Were those real memories, or some kind of trick?
The Pharaoh had warned Bakura that the Spirit lied.
But what was the purpose of showing him all of those horrid memories? What was the Spirit, or the Ring, after with all of this? Bakura ran a hand down his face. The Spirit had tricked him many times before.
"It wants to show you one, final thing."
"Well?" Bakura spoke aloud to the Item on the floor. "You showed me one thing. Now leave me alone."
But the Ring still glowed stubbornly, as though it were speaking to him. It takes many sketches to see the full picture, It said.
Bakura let out a cry in frustration. "Why? Why should I let you in again? You're already inside my head now, what more do you want? Why should I let you in further? I don't know if you're the Spirit or Zorc or my mother and I don't care! Just leave me alone!"
But the Ring's aura continued to glow, and the tug still hit Bakura's heart. The Ring set one word into Bakura's mind.
The body is already out of breath. The sun beats against his back. He stumbles as he runs. Where is he now?
Bakura has no idea why he is running, but if this body has been running since before he took over, there must be a reason. The Egyptian village is buzzing. Bakura wonders if he is back in that awful town before it's destruction, but he looks himself over to see that he is no longer a child. In fact, Bakura finds, this body is that of a grown man. A young grown man, but older than Bakura, surely. His hands are large and calloused and dark. These hands are ones had been through a lifetime of hardships. Bakura is wearing little, his strong built is covered only by a kilt and a pair of slippers. For a moment, Bakura is pleased. Always the sickly child, he's never been strong like this.
All the pleasure fades away when he is made finally aware as to why he is racing away as he is.
"Stop that thief!" someone calls from behind.
Bakura stares down at his arms again, and at last takes notice of the golden necklace wrapped in his left hand. A thief! Bakura always has great timing, he thinks sourly. He stares back at the merchant following him. Remembering his History classes, Bakura knows just handing it back and apologizing would do little good. He will have his arm cut off or throat slit. He shivers at the thought. Better to keep running.
He runs straight with no real direction. The town is all gawking at his display as they purchase their items at the market. Frantically, he tries to think of a plan.
It comes in the form of a horse.
Oh, Bakura feels terrible. He doesn't want to steal the chocolate colored horse that the girl is leading to the outskirts of town. Bakura doesn't even know the first thing about horses, save for the times he played cowboys and Indians with Amane on broomsticks. But the boy in a man's body knows he has little choice in the matter; the angry merchant is growing closer. With little strategy in his mind, he leaps onto the horses bare back, crying out how sorry he is to everyone.
As the human and the horse bodies meet, something strange happens to Bakura. Bakura, who has never once ridden a horse in his life, feels completely at ease. Somehow, he knows exactly what to do, and he isn't afraid. No, not afraid of the horse, but terrified as to why he feels this way. But, despite his situation, a smirk crosses his face. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, he decides to himself as he sets into a gallop away from the village and the poor merchant, tossing the stolen necklace back behind him.
Of course, Bakura not only has no idea how to ride a horse, but also no idea where he is going. He just leans forward on the horse and gallops away, slightly worried at the sudden adroitness of it all.
As the miles pass, Bakura tries to understand his situation. Is this another memory of the Spirit? It has to be, but Bakura has always thought the Spirit and himself look similar. This "vessel" bears almost no resemblance at all to himself, as far as he can tell. But the Spirit is an ancient ancestor, so shouldn't there be similarities. Bakura immediately longs for a mirror. Just to see what the Spirit had once looked like. And what about the Millennium Items? Where are they? Bakura knows little about the Spirit's past, but he does know that it was the Millennium Items that he had always sought, even in this life. If this is where they had been created, then where could they be?
Something forms in the horizon. Bakura squints through the sun's evening rays to try to identify the shape. It looked like a town. Bakura is relieved, glad to know that he is not wandering in the middle of nowhere.
But soon the town grows, and Bakura hesitates. Something feels wrong. Even feels familiar. He knows he shouldn't go in there, for something dark and sinister awaits his arrival. But Bakura, morbidly curious and ignorantly blissful, enters the town, anyway.
The streets are hauntingly deserted. The air feels still, yet at the same time, without rest. The wind blows hollowly, and Bakura strangely feels a strong tug toward the center building. From the outside, he can see that this construction is the largest of the town. Knowing that he would probably regret it, he sets the horse by the architecture and ventures inside.
The sanctuary is one large room, and it is strangely empty, aside from the altar at the center. Torches are unlit, and the shadows are daunting. Bakura looks around, eyes meeting the ancient Egyptian writing surrounding the walls. He inspects them closer, watching the ancient carvings form tangible words before his eyes. "Darkness spell. The rite between the gods and ourselves. Out of these sacrifices,grant us peace... Bakura falls back at this, although he knows he shouldn't be surprised. If he can ride a horse, he can read in this language. His eyes catch the word "Millennium" and he looks closer.
Bakura is engrossed in the words. They tell of the Millennium Items, and how they had been created. Bakura reads about the need of sacrifices, and how the thief village of Kul Elna had been the sacrifice to achieve world peace. Hours pass, and Bakura feels just as confused as before. By the sounds of it, Bakura can only assume that the unlucky Kul Elna—the town that had needed to be purged in the name of justice and the Pharaoh, was the Spirit's homeland. The soldiers words to him in that horrid memory had been little different than the words scrawled on these walls. He stops reading and stares at one of the mirroring surfaces. Is this the Spirit reflecting back at him? The skin is dark, the hair short and the white sun stained to a pinkish hue. The eyes are lavender... and sad. Bakura places a hand on the face's reflection, then turns away.
There is one more thing he wants to examine. The alter. He can see the stone tablet on it. It's presence is strong, Bakura can almost feel the power. Slowly, carefully, Bakura steps up the alter's steps, and gasps at the sight. The stone... it's the one the Spirit had shown him so many times.
The stone tablet that is to hold the seven Millennium Items.
It's empty now, only shaped holes tell him that it's meant to hold the Items in place. But Bakura is still held by it's existence. Right here, just within reach. He reaches out to touch it...
An arm grasps Bakura back. In panic, he struggles against the grip strangling him in the neck. The cold steal against his neck tells him he should stop.
"I've found you, thief!" the voice is that of the merchant. "All thieves find their way to Kul Elna. The evil spirits lead them here to devour them."
Bakura is in Kul Elna? His blood turns cold. That meant that all the deserted buildings, the unrest, the stillness...
Bakrura struggles to say, "I gave it back..."
"You're a thief! You give back one necklace and you'll steal another two! No, thieves are like beetles. Every one should be squashed before they can be allowed to take over."
Bakura is frightened. This man cannot be reasoned with. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wonders what will happen if he would be killed in this illusion of his mind. If he were to allow this body to die, would he die, too? Bakura shuts his eyes in fear as the merchant readies his blade to cut his throat.
The floor begins to quake. The merchant cries out, and Bakura tries to break away with that moment of distraction. But the merchant holds on tightly, and Bakura begins to believe, as he struggles for breath, that he will just suffocate in this merchants arms, rather than bleed to death. His head feels lighter, lighter...
"Release the boy."
The voice is strong, loud and as dark as the shadows themselves. Bakura's lavender eyes flutter open. The room has grown nebulous and cold. Bakura hears a blood curdling scream, and the arms let go of him. He falls to his knees, gasping. The lights return, and Bakura stares at the tablet. He doesn't know how he knows, but the voice has come from there.
"It's all right, Bakura. You may touch it."
Bakura eyes widen. It knows his name. Or rather, the Spirit's name. His voice is shaking, but he manages, "Who are you?"
"I am the darkness. You, you are the light, pure one. The darkness has not yet touched you, yet look at your village. No real light has met this land since the massacre. And you just abandoned it."
"Abandoned it!" Bakura screams at the darkness. "I was only a child, what was I expected to do?" He stops short, staring at his hands. Are these really his own words?
"It is not what you could have done, Bakura, the shadows say. "It is what you have done. Kul Elna is destroyed, lost in the darkness, and you run from it. You are a coward."
"Coward!" Bakura feels the rage in his very own heart. "I am Bakura! I am a thief, a stealer! I watched my family die before my eyes, and my town burn for the name of justice and honor! In the name of the Pharaoh! I am many things, but you will not call me a coward."
Bakura can feel the pleasure the darkness is feeling from Bakura's own outrage. It laughs, sending shivers down Bakura's spine. "Good!" it says. "Good! You want revenge, boy? Then join me. Touch the tablet and let our souls become one. You will feed on my darkness, and I, your light. Together we will destroy the Pharaoh the way he did you. He thinks he can run behind his sickness, and let death gently take him. But we will do so much more than kill him, Bakura. We will take everything he holds dear."
Bakura hesitates. "Why should I let you in? How do I know you won't just devour me whole?" The merchant's words are still on his mind. "All thieves find their way to Kul Elna. The evil spirits lead them here to devour them."
"Because I need you," the voice returns plainly. "I am bound away, Bakura. But with your help, I can be released. For now, only a piece of me can walk with you, but soon you will help me be set free, and in the process you will have your revenge. Now, place your hand on the tablet, and our wake of destruction can begin."
Bakura thinks of his village, of his family, of his life. He has nothing to live for. He is a petty thief and nothing more. But what this... thing can offer is more than just a life as a thief, but of a king. Bakura chuckles darkly to himself at the very thought. A king.
"I am the King of Thieves," Bakura says aloud as he approaches the tablet again. "I will take back what's mine. The Millennium Items..." Bakura shakes his head at that, knowing he can never what he had before. But he can claim back what was stolen from him. "I will take you. Our spirits will be joined as one, and I won't stop until we have what we desire for, or we are both destroyed."
"I am Zorc Necrophades," the darkness names itself as Bakura raises an arm. "I will be released, and the world will be plunged into darkness just as it always should have been."
Bakura, the Thief King, places a firm hand on the tablet.
Bakura collapsed as the Ring released him from the vision. He did not feel nauseated this time, but exhausted. Fatigued, as though all of the air had been sucked out of the room and he had just run fifteen miles. He couldn't find his lungs for a moment. The Millennium Ring looked like dead gold, hanging from his neck, swaying like a deadly pendulum. Bakura was too tired to even try to pull it off. Bakura fell completely to the ground, face on the floor, and struggled to keep his eyes open.
He felt the Ring begin to glow again, and Bakura tried to stop it. "No," he argued, his mouth barely able to form the words. "No, no more. Not again."
But the glow grew, and enveloped Bakura back into the memories of the one he loathed.
The Thief King stares at the men beside him. "Well, friends," he smirks. "It seems that, although we've lost a few of our fellow thieves along the way, we've finally made it to the Pharaoh's true tomb. His body and riches beyond imagining are here. The spoils are yours. But I want three things in particular..."
Bakura feels no different than when he was being controlled by the Spirit of the Millennium Ring. He watches the Thief King through his eyes, yet he is unable to control the actions himself. He ponders as the Thief King steps forward into the large Egyptian resting place. Why are the circumstances different now? Up until the meeting with Zorc, Bakura was still very much in control. What's changed?
Is the key Zorc?
Bakura stops his thinking and sees the Thief King reach through the different articles of clothing the Pharaoh had in his room. He pulls off a bright red coat and grins evilly. This was the first thing he desired. Was this what you wore when you ordered my land to be destroyed, great Pharaoh? The Thief King's thoughts are audible to Bakura. Fine. Then this is what I'll wear when I kill your son, the great new king, Atem.
Yugi's spirit's name. Bakura remembers how special it is. It was what sealed away Zorc. What will seal away Zorc in this memory. Bakura knows this has to be coming. The Thief King will challenge the Pharaoh and turn his world upside down, just like his spirit has done to Bakura. And then the Pharaoh will seal the Thief King and Zorc away forever. Or forever they will want to think. Neither Zorc nor the Thief King will ever truly go away. They won't ever be destroyed until three thousand years later. This is just the first try. The first memories of this ancient world.
Bakura wonders why he must fall witness to it all.
The second thing on the Thief King's list: all of the former Pharaoh's favorite jewelry. Rings, gold arm and leg bands, and head jewelry. The Thief King throws the coat on with a flair, it's soft material meeting his back with pleasure. He places the jewelry on his body, relishing in the act of wearing the enemy's clothing. His greatest act of rebellion as of now, and the best is yet to come.
Finally, the third and final insult to the grave of the former Pharaoh. The Thief King smiles at the sarcophagus. He lets out a laugh. "Don't I look more like a true king of thieves now?" He raises his arms to show himself off to the robed thieves. "Why don't we take the dead Pharaoh along with us?" he pats the sarcophagus hideously. "After all, this is a show he wouldn't want to miss."
Bakura gapes at the implications of the sentence. They are going to completely defile the Pharaoh's father's resting place? But they can't. They can't take this body to the new Pharaoh! It will break his heart! Bakura has never thought of himself as a good friend, but he knows he cannot let the Thief King do even more damage than he already has. He has to stop at least this one act.
Bakura had fought the Spirit of the Millennium Ring before for control before. The Spirit usually won, but this isn't the same soul, Bakura reminds himself. The Thief King does not know every weakness of Bakura that he can exploit to obliterate his resistance. Maybe that is the key to winning back control. Bakura focuses all of his energy into taking over this host's body. Feeling strangely like the Spirit of the Millennium Ring, he can feel the Thief King's confusion and sudden panic at the fight suddenly building in his mind.
What's going on? the Thief King cries out.
My name is Ryo Bakura, Bakura feels strangely strong against his enemy as he breaks through the mind. I won't let you hurt my friends. I will fight, too. Those same words he had said to the Spirit in his first moment of rebellion, he says to the Thief now. This is a game just like Monster World had been, Bakura tells himself. It's all about how you play it.
Bakura feels himself take a breath. He takes another one. He smiles. He is in control now. The Thief King has been pushed to the back of his mind. Just like where the Spirit had kept him.
You're causing trouble for me, little Ryo.
Bakura stops. He searches his mind. The Thief should have been pushed back, who's speaking now?
Don't you remember? When you saw my little thief accept our contract, our souls intertwined. The Thief and I are one in the same. Just like you and the Spirit were. Well, are.
Bakura is shocked. How does this one know him?
You were correct when you said that this was all just another game. It's a very special game, dear boy. It's the fight for your soul.
"What?" Bakura cannot help but speak out loud. He grips the sarcophagus in his own confusion.
Don't you understand? This is the RPG for your life. The Thief against me.
"B-but you're Zorc, then. You're supposed to be gone."
Oh, no, little one. I'm right here. In the Ring. Our souls have been kept together to form the Spirit of the Millennium Ring. The one that controlled you and tormented you and loved every moment of it. You should understand this by now, of course. We may have been destroyed in the Millennium World, but a small essence of us still lingers in that Ring, if only for a short while longer. But a little bit of time can make such a big difference, don't you think?
"What does this have to do with me?"
It's simple. You're the vessel I need. The Thief wants this to end, but I am not yet ready to call myself lost. So, I devised this little game between us. It's just like the Millennium World and Atem's memories, but on a much smaller scale. We play through these events yet again. You and the Thief are one team, I am another. If you can stop the Thief from sacrificing himself to me, then you win, and I disappear. But, if I win, your body is mine. And, to be frank, I'm tired of your constant spoiling of everything. I'm going to destroy your soul and mind. Slowly. Painfully. I don't need those two things, after all. The only reason I never killed your spirit in the first place is because the Thief always held me back. It's a pity, really. Had he not rebelled, he would have been treated handsomely. For a while, anyway. But that's where you both seem to be so much alike.
"But the Thief King doesn't seem to be aware of this game at all."
Well, I may have smudged the rules just a bit. I am the game master, after all.
"That's not fair! How is he supposed to help me?"
Don't be such a child, Ryo. You'll have a chance to tell him. I'll even leave this body to just you and him. I'll take control of the outside forces trying to stop you, and you'll have to stop me from emerging and destroy my piece. It's just like your favorite game, isn't it?
Bakura suddenly grasps his throat. It feels like he's being choked. I should warn you though, you're already losing. How could you have allowed your lovely body to sign a contract with me? Why, had you stopped him there, this game would already be through.
"I didn't know... I could," Bakura can breathe no longer. He can almost feel the hand that's holding his throat. He falls to his knees.
Oh, Ryo. You have to start thinking outside the box if you're going to beat me.
Bakura has the feeling of something ripping him from the inside out. He tries to scream, but with no breath he cannot even utter a sound. A shadow passes him as Zorc leaves the body.
Don't scream, Ryo, he says as he disappears. It isn't like the King of Thieves to scream, and you have to play the part. That's just how the game works. Oh, I should also mention that those thieves over there only obey my soul.
Bakura is released, and he lets out a loud gasp of relief as he tries to fill his lungs with air again. He stares up to see the hooded thieves slowly begin to inch toward him, menacing knives in their hands.
A/N: How's that for a twist? This story started as a humor then to a drama, from a one-shot to a two-shot and was finally turned into this. Apparently I write best when I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, but that's for you to decide, isn't it? Part two coming soon. This is the longest chapter I have ever written, three part or no. Tell me what you think. See that "Review" button there? It's one of my favorites.