Yugi: We are all amazed. Now get on with it.
Ari: *sulks* You're not being very nice and Yugi-ish.
Yugi: Not my fault. This story isn't mushy enough.
Ari: Eh-heh. Um, well, to make room for the plot, this isn't all that mushy. However…
Yugi: NOT MUSHY?!
Ari: Ahem. You still need to say the disclaimer.
Yugi: *mutters* This story isn't mushy enough. Ari doesn't own Yu-Gi-Oh or any of its characters or whatever. The plot for this story is her own, and she's very proud of it. This story contains yaoi between myself and Yami. This story is semi-A/U, and semi-real.
Ari: Okies. Now, please read, people… ^_^
Yami no Yuugi – "Dark Game"
The 17-year-old Pharaoh pursed his lips and glanced at the new batch of slaves before him. They were so skinny and weak-looking, their ribcages showing through, their faces full of despair. He turned away. Disgusting creatures. They were already broken. He had wanted to be the one to break them, to teach them that no matter how hard they resist, he would always be the master.
The Pharaoh sneered.
"Have some… fun… with them, and put them to work in the kitchens," he commanded his advisors. Tat was one thing they were good for. Broken slaves never bothered to poison the food.
His head advisor hesitated, as if he still had something to say. The Pharaoh turned to him and waited, tapping his foot impatiently.
"Th-there is another," the advisor stuttered nervously, bowing. "No more than a boy, really. We found him poking around the palace this morning. He is an orphan that no one wants. Should I send for him? He is a much more pleasing sight than those."
The Pharaoh wrinkled his nose delicately. The slaves shown to him were wretched! Anyone would look better than them. A boy would look fine. It was by his own law that children were not allowed to be mistreated. For a while, people had mistakenly believed that he was less cruel than his father, their old Pharaoh. They soon discovered otherwise. He had merely learned that destroying youngsters greatly reduced the population. What was the point of ruling if he had no people over which to rule?
"Bring him in." He was intrigued. What would an orphan boy be doing around his palace? And what was he going to do with the child? He could not, by his own laws, torture the kid. But then, he was the Pharaoh. Laws could be bent, and people who knew too much usually… disappeared.
"Pharaoh Yami," the advisor said respectfully, giving another low bow. "The boy…"
Yami spun around, his mouth open in preparing of delivering a furious speech for sneaking up behind him. No sound came out as he stared in shock at the image before him, for it was himself.
No, not quite… Yami breathed again. It was merely someone that looked like him. But the resemblance was startling! The boy had blonde bangs that stuck out around his face, and a crown-like mass of black hair, pointing out in angles, rimmed with crimson. The only difference between the hair of the boy and the Pharaoh were the three vertical streaks of blonde through Yami's hair.
"What is your name, boy?" Yami demanded. "Don't take all day, and look at me when I'm talking!"
Deciding the boy was taking too long to comply, the Pharaoh grabbed the boy's hair harshly and wretched his face up to stare into Yami's blood-red ruby eyes. Often, their colour and coldness would make even a warrior blanch. But this time, it was the Pharaoh that flinched, though his gaze still held. The boy's eyes… were sparkling amethysts. They glimmered with soft, beautiful innocence. But through that innocence rang defiance, strong and firm.
The boy was the first to look away. None could hold the Pharaoh's gaze for long, and this child had been the longest. There was an unsettling quality of icy cruelty in the young Pharaoh's eyes. Imbued with magic, the Pharaoh was cold, condescending, and heartless.
"Yugi," the boy mumbled.
"Speak loudly and clearly in the presence of the Pharaoh!" the advisor commanded, striking the boy on the back of his head. The Pharaoh shot him a look and he hung his head. "My apologies, Pharaoh."
"My name is Yugi, Pharaoh," the boy said, a slight bit louder this time. "I…" He braced himself. "I have done nothing wrong. Why have you captured me?"
He was on his back immediately, the fist of the advisor flying towards his face. Suddenly, the first stopped. The advisor screamed as the Pharaoh crushed the bones in his hand.
"Never act without my orders," Yami hissed. He turned to Yugi. "And you. You knew that your 'question' deserved what he would have done."
Yugi bit his lip.
"Yes," he whispered, "I knew."
"Your courage impresses me," the Pharaoh commented, an eyebrow arched perfectly. "Most who dare speak this way would have been dead by know. You know this, and still act in this impertinent manner. Tell me, how old are you?"
"Sixteen," Yugi answered, and added a belated, "My lord."
Yami drew a sharp breath. Sixteen… Then he was no longer a child. The law no longer protected him. He could do whatever he wanted to the boy. And if it was true that the child – no, adolescent; he was no longer child, however young he might look – was an orphan, then by law, he belonged to the Pharaoh. To Yami.
"And you are an orphan?" Yami asked. He hoped he was. It had been long since he owned such a fine-looking slave. The… creatures… that they sent him now were not fit for him. He was their Pharaoh, not a minor lord! He demanded only the finest quality. He needed perfection. This youth was as flawless as humans went.
"I am…" Yugi whispered, guessing what was to be his fate, knowing that he had nowhere else to go. "My parents have been killed recently in a raid. I have no relatives that I know of, and nowhere to turn."
"And you came to the palace because…?"
"Do not listen to him, my lord!" the advisor, silent all this time, exclaimed. "He came as a filthy thief, using his mask of innocence as a disguise. He stole this from the table in your garden."
He held up a golden pyramid shape, the Ancient Symbol of the Pharaohs on one of its sides. It hung, the tip of the pyramid pointing down, from a sturdy red cord.
"Do you know the consequences for stealing?" Yami asked sternly, coldly. He felt his insides churn. The penalty was death, unless it was a slave and the master was willing to pay for ten times the object's value. He did not want to kill this youth, and he wondered why. He had ordered hundreds to be executed. Maybe it was because they looked alike. Oh, if only it was some other object that was almost stolen…
Yugi bit his lip and looked up, large amethyst eyes shimmering mystically with unshed tears. The Pharaoh nearly reeled back from their effect. What was more was that the innocent youth was completely unaware of this. Yami searched his eyes for traces of pleading and found none. It hit him. This boy had nothing. He did not want life, but a quick release from existence.
The Pharaoh shook his head, confused by the sudden ache in his chest. What as it? Why…
"Shall I have him hung?" the advisor asked, strangely eager. "Just give the command, my lord, my Pharaoh."
Yami hesitated. He did not want the child – ugh, why did he still think of him as a child?! – to be hurt, for reasons he did not know, did not understand.
"Let's hear his side of this first," Yami suggested diplomatically. The advisor gaped. The Pharaoh had always killed without thought. Why did he suddenly change?
"It looked beautiful, Pharaoh," Yugi explained. "And I wasn't going to steal it. I was merely looking at it. I'm sorry, my lord. I did not know that this was your palace."
softly, and though it was cold, there was a flash of something else in his
eyes. He believed the boy. How could it be possible to not to believe someone
so innocent and pure, someone so beautiful and… angelic?
"I forgive you," Yami announced formally. Now the boy would have to belong to him. He felt no anger, now that his treasured object was not stolen. He could bend the rules. If a slave stole from his master, the master could forgive him. Now… now, Yugi would have to recognize him as his owner.
To the Pharaoh's surprise, Yugi bowed low and lowered his head in submission.
"Thank you, my master," Yugi murmured. But when he looked up, his eyes still burned with defiance.
Yami clapped twice, and a figure came, bowing. It was a somewhat-looked-after slave, trembling in fear, expectant only of duty. He held his gaze to the floor, remaining silent as a mouse. Yugi wondered if perhaps the man was mute. Would he get his tongue cut out too?
"Prepare him," the Pharaoh commanded, his voice devoid of emotions. "Clean him and give him new clothes, and send him to the room beside my chamber. I want this one to serve me. Only me."
"That was the Pharaoh?" Yugi asked curiously. He was in a bath – a scented bath! – being scrubbed clean. The coat of dirt and sand was slowly coming off, revealing soft porcelain skin that was snowy white despite the burning sun of the desert. His dusty hair now shimmered like satin, as if made of silky strands of obsidian, outlined in dark garnet, with bangs of spun gold. His large eyes shone with violet fire, a strange innocence of a child mixed with the rebellious sadness of a teen that had seen too much. "He's that young?"
"It was," the slave that had taken him there replied patiently. Yami had not removed their tongues yet; they were merely not allowed to speak in public. "And a more cruel Pharaoh there never was, or so I was told since childhood. Colder than ice, that one, and more merciless than even his father. I pity him, truly, it was not his fault that he came out this way. Anyone else would have turned out the same."
"What do you mean?" Yugi asked, splashing around in the bath almost cheerfully. He could easily be cheered by even the smallest things. If something bad was going to happen, then so be it. He would enjoy the time he has now.
"Poor child, really," the slave muttered, shaking his head sadly. "Had no one to bring him up properly. See, his mother fell ill and died when he was but a wee lad. His father, though Pharaoh, actually managed to learn to love that woman and was heartbroken when it happened. Vowed never to let his son fall victim to love, that one did. He treated the kid, the little toddler, like his heir. He was, of course, but the old Pharaoh never gave him any love or care, like he was an object rather than a son! And he'd beat us, too, whenever we tried to show the lil tot a bit of kindness. It's no wonder he turned out like this, really."
"When did his father die?"
"Ah yes, that's another reason he's like this. See, the old Pharaoh died when little Yami was but seven. The little guy had to uphold the whole kingdom for ten years already. Poor thing, our young Pharaoh. He was well-named. Yami, the Darkness. His mood's been dark for years. Didn't even cry at his own father's funeral. Cried for his mother, though. Now, I'll tell you a secret. My lord Yami's heart is not completely frozen yet. He's cruel and arrogant because of his powers, not only as Pharaoh but also as an arch sorcerer and the undisputed champion of Duel Monsters, but there is frost only around the surface of his heart. He treats us bad, because he fears we might break that shield. Oh, don't get me wrong, we're all terrified of him, even if we pity him. Soon, something horrifying will come to pass, and my lord Yami's loyalty to his people will be tested. I have no doubt that he will fail in his present condition of mind. But who knows, maybe between now and then, some little sweetie'll come along and thaw out that piece of ice, teach him to love."
Yugi shivered despite the steamy warmth of the room. He had originally determined to hate the cruel Pharaoh, but how much anger does he still harbor towards the teen ruler with a broken past? He will never obey Yami by will, of course; he had caused the death of Yugi's family. But could he fight back? And why was the old slave looking at him so strangely when he said the last sentence? Did he expect Yugi to…
"Here are the clothes that you are to wear," the slave instructed, placing a pile of dark blue-purple materials near the bath and handing Yugi a towel. "Your possessions are by the door. Dress yourself and come out. I will wait for you in the corridor to bring you to your new chamber."
Yugi put on the silk garments, surprised that they fit perfectly. He checked his raged pack and found that nothing was lost. Checking himself in the mirror, he was amazed at how… good… he looked, and just how much he resembled the Pharaoh. With a last glance, he stepped out.
"What's your name?" Yugi asked, stepping lightly down the hall.
"I have none," the slave replied. "We are to forget our names as soon as we enter the service of the Pharaoh, and we remain nameless until the Pharaoh asks it. You, however, have a name, since Pharaoh Yami asked it of you."
"Yes… I am Yugi…"
"Yugi… Hmmm… Interesing name, that. It signifies 'Game', did you know? The boy named Game for Yu-Gi-Oh (A/N: or 'Yuugi-Ou' in actual Japanese, I think…) the King of Games."