I humbly beg the pardon of Yu-Gi-Oh! purists, as I am basing this story on the Americanized version of the "Master of the Dark Magician" story as aired by the KidsWB.
The Graveyard. That place where Duel Monsters card spirits were sent when they were defeated in a Duel. Most often, it was a resting place, quite a morbid one, but merely a resting place until they were summoned back into the game. If they were still in the Graveyard when the Duel they were in ended, they'd simply fade away to reappear again when their particular card was next played in a new duel.
The Graveyard was nearly always occupied by some monsters, low level ones who were sacrificed to bring higher monsters into play or simply defeated because they were such low level. It always caused a stir when high level monsters appeared in the Graveyard.
A stir such as this had not happened for millennia. Two high level monsters arriving at the same time! Each having taken the other one out in the same Duel...such hadn't happened before! Two Dark Magicians appeared in the Graveyard. The lesser monsters gave way before them, tacitly acknowledging that the Dark Magician was very near the top of the monster ecology.
One of them glared at everything nearby and strode over to one of the tombstones liberally scattered throughout the Graveyard. He chased the creatures seated there with a glance, sat upon the stone and turned his back to everyone. Deeply held pride and resentment stiffened his back. There was nothing at all relaxed about his attitude.
The other one looked around at the gathered monsters, even going so far as to walk a little bit in each direction to get an idea of who was here. He returned and stared at the turned back of the other Dark Magician for a long time. Finally he went over and laid a hand on the other one's shoulder.
That shoulder shrugged. The standing Dark Magician's mouth tightened at the rudeness before he turned and walked away. He too sought out a gravestone to rest on. Unlike the other one, this Dark Magician was approachable, readily entering into conversations even with 'lesser' monsters.
He was deep in a discussion with a Mystical Elf when a voice from behind him demanded, "Why?!"
He turned to see Arcana's Dark Magician glaring at him. The angry Dark Magician stood with crossed arms and his staff grasped defensively in his right hand. The Mystical Elf scrambled to get away from the negative energy charging the very air around this Dark Magician.
"'Why' what?" Yugi's Dark Magician asked.
"Why did you deliberately sacrifice yourself to save him? You weren't forced to give up your soul as I was...you did that to yourself!" he accused.
"I did. If I had not saved Yugi from your attack, he would have lost the Duel. And if he had lost..." the calmer Dark Magician shuddered. "He would have been lost to the Shadow Realm."
"And you care about this?!" Arcana's Dark Magician demanded. "You know how they treat us! What does it matter if one player or another is lost?"
"It does matter. I heard what Arcana said about you, about commanding you with fear, about you being nothing more than his servant...or slave. He is wrong. All players are not this way. Yugi is my master, true, but he respects me."
"He'd never strip your soul to use it as an attack?!" Arcana's Dark Magician sneered. "Then he's a fool!"
"No, he might do that, or have to sacrifice me in some other way to win a Duel. But only if he had no other way. He would regret it and even while sacrificing me, he would respect me. Yugi earns the obedience I freely give to him. He doesn't coerce it from me with fear...as Arcana does with you."
"Then he's soft!" Arcana's Dark Magician snarled. "He will fail!"
"Fear could not have empowered me to free myself from that trap to protect him," Yugi's Dark Magician countered. "I could only give up my soul to save him from your attack because I...care for him."
"He doesn't care for you! You delude yourself if you think he does!"
"I know he cares for me," Yugi's Dark Magician was serene in his assertion.
"Then why hasn't he recovered you from the Graveyard yet? He has Reborn the Monster in his deck, does he not?" Arcana's Dark Magician was slyly insinuating.
"He might not use it to revive me," Yugi's Dark Magician responded. "It might not be the best way for him to win."
"Then how do you know he cares for you?"
"He would never belittle me as Arcana did you," the answer was soft. "He'd never try to command me with fear. My purpose is to help him win. He has always respected that, and me, in all his Duels."
"Respect..." Arcana's Dark Magician mused. "I've never had that. I've never heard of a duelist respecting his cards before. Fear or intimidation is the way to command cards."
"How long have you been Arcana's card?" Yugi's Dark Magician asked.
"Always. He has since gotten two other Dark Magician cards, but he is the only master I have known."
"I can tell you are an experienced card. I could see it in your eyes on the dueling field. Your eyes sparked a challenge to Yugi and to me."
"Have you noticed that low level cards never seem to change?" Yugi's Dark Magician asked casually. "I've talked with them before, to pass time in the Graveyard. They never seem to have a memory beyond the particular Duel that they are in."
"Really? How odd."
"I think it is only the higher level monsters that retain their memories from Duel to Duel. You must be well-experienced to have developed such an individual personality."
Arcana's Dark Magician stared into the distance of the Graveyard at that.
"I could wish to be like a lower level monster, then. What good does a memory do me? It only makes what my master said..." he trailed off.
"It makes what Arcana said hurt that much more," Yugi's Dark Magician observed. "I'm sorry."
"What does your pity do for me?" Arcana's Dark Magician snorted. "OH!"
"What? What is it?" Yugi's Dark Magician asked.
"He's played one of the other ones, one of the other Dark Magicians. My master doesn't need me." Despite himself, Arcana's Dark Magician seemed dismayed.
"Then he is the fool!" Yugi's Dark Magician claimed fervently.
"Fool or not, without you there, your master will lose. As his rarest card, my master will claim you. Then you will learn for yourself how to be obedient to my master through fear," Arcana's Dark Magician realized.
"No...there is a reason Yugi left me in the Graveyard. I know what it is," Yugi's Dark Magician stated. "And you can help me, if you wish. You can teach your master that intimidation isn't the right way to earn any card's obedience."
"My apprentice will soon call. From the Graveyard I can send her some of my power. It won't be enough to defeat your brother Dark Magician...unless you help me."
"Why would I help you?!" Arcana's Dark Magician demanded. "Do you have any idea what he'd do to me if I did that?!"
"My master, Yugi, the one who respects his cards and never uses fear to coerce us, will die if you don't. Look into your heart. Don't you want to save him? Don't you want to show Arcana that intimidation is not the answer?"
Arcana's Dark Magician considered the words of the Dark Magician who claimed to have his player's respect.
"Her call comes. My apprentice, the Dark Magician Girl, asks for my help. I must respond, giving her as much power as I can to help her," Yugi's Dark Magician hearkened to the call only he heard.
He reached out his hand.
"Please...answer it with me. With your help, and mine, she can defeat the other Dark Magician."
Arcana's Dark Magician looked into the face of the other. Yugi's Dark Magician met his eyes with a direct gaze that made Arcana's suddenly realize that everything he had been told was true. This wasn't a trick to get him to turn on his master. Yugi's Dark Magician really believed he had his duelist's respect. Perhaps it was just a delusion. What a wonderful delusion to hold though! Respected, not intimidated... Could such a mad thing be true?! Was there really a player who respected his cards?!
Arcana's Dark Magician smiled cynically. Even if it was a trick just to get him to turn on his master, he'd do it anyway. Arcana didn't deserve any loyalty from him! Maybe, if he helped Yugi's Dark Magician empower his apprentice, he'd actually get to see Arcana's face when he realized what his Dark Magician had done. Fear surged in him at that thought. If he acted against Arcana, he was certain there would be consequences! For some reason though, the thought of those nebulous consequences didn't paralyze him like it usually did...
He reached and took the hand offered to him.
"What do I have to do?"
Arcana dithered madly in the corner. Despite the fact that Yugi had tried and succeeded in saving his opponent from the mind-destroying banishment to the Shadow Realm, Arcana's mentality had snapped. Perhaps it was the strain of serving as Marik's conduit. Perhaps Marik had spitefully broken his mind with his Millennium Rod for failing to beat Yugi in the Duel. Perhaps it was the shock of seeing his own Dark Magician aiding his opponent's Dark Magician Girl. It could be a combination of all three.
The Dark Magician who had been Arcana's reluctant pawn found he didn't care. The moment he faced his ex-master while helping Yugi's Dark Magician give power to his apprentice had been a moment of sublime, sweet revenge. The look on Arcana's face had been worth it. He didn't know what was going to happen to him now, as his spirit faded from the arena. He wished again that he could be as the lesser monsters, carrying no memory from Duel to Duel. Though, perhaps, he wouldn't mind remembering the conversation in the Graveyard with Yugi's Dark Magician.
Maybe it was a fairy-tale...the idea that the other Dark Magician actually had his player's respect. But, the other Dark Magician believed it. Maybe that was naive...but Arcana's ex-Dark Magician wished he could be that naive too.
It certainly hadn't harmed the other Dark Magician's abilities at all, to believe in and trust his duelist. Quite the contrary! Because of that belief, Yugi's Dark Magician had been able to choose to accept de-ensoulment, so he could protect his duelist from the Ectoplasmer attack, by making himself into an ectoplasmic shield. Had a card monster ever acted of his own will like that before?! Was it the belief in Yugi that gave him that power?
Even if there was no power in it, the Dark Magician who had been Arcana's thought he'd like to believe in someone that strongly as his consciousness faded completely away. To believe in someone, to trust someone that much would be better than fear. He thought he'd like to have that chance...maybe...someday...
Yugi took the locator card from the box on Arcana's side of the arena. He knew he could claim a Dark Magician card from Arcana's deck as well, as Arcana had staked his rarest card on their Duel. He reached for Arcana's deck to sift and find a Dark Magician card to take. A sudden urge came over him to claim instead the Dark Magician card from Arcana's Graveyard.
Yugi smiled at his own foolishness. He thumbed through his cards until he regarded the purple-robed Dark Magician he always had in his deck. He always felt his own Dark Magician card was special, unique, even, but logically his mind told him any card was the same as any other card if it showed the same monster. Yugi placed the new card of the Dark Magician alongside the card of 'his' Dark Magician and regarded the different image depicted there. It appeared more...Dark, almost sinister than the image he preferred. Still...this Dark Magician of Arcana's had defiantly stood shoulder to shoulder with his own Dark Magician to power his Dark Magician Girl. Yugi imagined he'd seen a gleam of triumph in the spirit of this Dark Magician's eyes at that final confrontation with Arcana.
The likelihood was he'd never use the card. He had his own Dark Magician, who he favored greatly. But after all the abuse this Dark Magician had taken from Arcana, Yugi thought perhaps the spirit of the card wouldn't mind something of a rest. And he admitted, after seeing the wounded pride in this Dark Magician's eyes, it was possible someday he'd play the card. He'd like a chance to earn this Dark Magician's respect.
The low level monsters of the Graveyard had never seen the like before! First the two Dark Magicians arriving together having taken each other out in a Duel, then their conversation here, then standing together and creating a huge power flare in the Graveyard and now, finally fading back into their cards as the Duel they were in was over.
"Yugi's always been receptive to me," his Dark Magician smiled in satisfaction. "I tried to influence him to select your card. He did."
"I wonder why? Any card is the same as any other...to a duelist that is."
"You will learn that Yugi is different. He knows that not all cards are the same. He respects us. He will respect you."
"Respect...not intimidation...that would be satisfying."
The two, different spirits of the Dark Magician faded from the Graveyard as Yugi placed his Deck back into its case.
Reviews, comments and constructive criticisms are always welcome! Please feel free to email me also if you see something awkward that needs to be clarified or fixed. I need all the help I can get!