Yu-Gi-Oh!
Shadows of the Past
By Lucky_Ladybug


Notes: As always, the characters aren't mine (except for Khu; and Kythiopia is Des's character, BTW) and this is NOT yaoi! ^_~ Thanx to JP and Des for all their help! ^^ Hope you all enjoy! ^^ Oh, one more thing: I portray Yami B as a "semi good guy" in this story, so if that's gonna bother you for some odd reason, just go somewhere else! ^_~


Bakura shivered as he walked down the deserted street. He had hoped that it would be a shortcut to his home, but it seemed as if it was actually taking longer to get there than if he had just gone the regular way.

The snapping of a twig made him whirl around sharply, his brown eyes wide. "Who's here?" he demanded, his heart pounding.

Several rambunctious-looking men emerged from the shadows, each holding a deadly weapon. "Kid, you're trespassing on our turf," the first one growled.

Bakura stood his ground. "I've passed this way many a time before, and I've never seen you," he said bravely.

"So you thought you'd come this way again?" a second one taunted. "Not a very bright idea." He drew back his arm and unfurled the chain in his hand, letting it strike Bakura sharply across his cheek.

Bakura fell back, crying out in pain.

Before he could attempt any kind of defense, all of the men had surrounded him and were beating him viciously.

Suddenly the Millennium Ring glowed brightly and Yami Bakura appeared, his brown eyes flashing angrily.

"Hey! What's going on?!" one of the men burst out, staring at the new arrival in disbelief.

"Where did he come from?!" a second one cried.

Bakura looked up weakly as his Yami began attacking the muggers and soon sent them fleeing back into the safety of their alley. "Cowards," the thief muttered, kneeling down next to Bakura. "You idiot! What were you thinking?!" he snarled, trying to pull him up.

"I . . . I'm sorry, Yami," Bakura replied, his voice barely discernable as he sank back to the cold ground. "I . . . I didn't realize there'd . . . be trouble . . ."

Muttering angrily to himself, Yami Bakura hauled Bakura into his arms and began carrying him home, yelling at the boy the entire time. He called Bakura every rude name he could think of and growled that he didn't know why he put up with such nonsense.

Bakura had no choice but to listen, though he tried to block out his Yami's voice. He knew the old tomb raider really cared about him, no matter how often he denied it, but still Bakura didn't like hearing his stinging rebukes. With a sigh, he somehow managed to drop off to sleep. Or maybe he had passed out. He wasn't sure. He only knew that he had fallen into a dark oblivion where he couldn't hear his Yami's angry screams.

Yami Bakura looked down at the boy in concern. "Bakura? . . . You dolt," he said in irritation as he somehow managed to balance the boy's body and also get the front door unlocked. Gently he carried Bakura upstairs and laid him in his bed.
****
When Bakura awoke, he found that his Yami was cleaning and bandaging his wounds and muttering to himself in Egyptian.

"Yami?" the boy said softly, and the thief looked up.

"What is it?" he asked grouchily.

Bakura winced as Yami Bakura dabbed a cleaning pad over the cut on his cheek. "I'm sorry for getting into trouble," Bakura said, his eyes sad. "But I honestly never thought anyone would be on that street. . . ."

"Oh, hush," Yami Bakura growled. "You never think about things like that!" He started tending to a gash on the boy's arm. "You just don't realize how cruel this world is, Bakura."

Bakura shook his head, his silvery hair flying. "Oh no, Yami," he protested sadly. "I know very well. But there is also still much good in the world."

Yami Bakura grunted. "Show me, Bakura. Show me something that proves that life is not all worthless. Show me something that proves that humanity isn't completely caught up in its cruelty!"

Bakura blinked, surprised by that response. "Well," he said finally, "there is Yugi Muto. He is the kindest, most compassionate person I have ever met. He would do anything to help anyone, even if that person was someone who hadn't treated him kindly."

Yami Bakura snorted. "The only person you can ever trust is yourself," he said bitterly.

"Surely you can't really believe that, Yami!" Bakura cried.

"And why shouldn't I?" Yami Bakura retorted. "Hardly anyone ever showed kindness to me, not even my own family." He paused, painful memories swirling through his mind. "I was never loved. My father hadn't wanted any children, and when my mother had two of them it was bad enough. But when I came along, it was the final straw for him. At least he could get the other two to do whatever his sick mind wanted, but I always refused. . . . And then he would beat and force me into it. He was an evil man, Bakura." The thief finished bandaging Bakura's hand and leaned back.

Bakura didn't know what to say. The thief's meaning was clear. "What about your mother?" he asked at last.

Yami Bakura's expression didn't lighten. "She never wanted me either. And she never raised a finger to stop my father's actions. She just allowed him to do whatever he wanted with us and didn't seem to care. As soon as I could, I left that treacherous place and never went back."

Bakura was horrified. "I . . . I'm so sorry, Yami," he said softly. "I . . . I never knew. . . ."

"Of course you didn't," Yami Bakura said grouchily. "I never told you." He glared at the boy who looked so much like himself but was so vastly different in personality. "You could have been seriously hurt tonight," he scolded.

Bakura smiled weakly. "But I wasn't, Yami. I'm alright."

Yami Bakura grunted and then lapsed into a deep silence. At last he spoke again. "I'm going to tell you a story," he said, catching Bakura completely off guard. "And I want you to listen."

"Of course, Yami," Bakura said, looking puzzled. "What is it?"

Yami Bakura sat back and closed his eyes, then slowly began. "This happened long ago, when danger and intrigue roamed through the Pharaoh's palace and many unfortunate souls made it from day to day only by stealing."

Egypt, Five Thousand Years Before

"Hey you! Stop, thief!!"

Bakare chuckled to himself as he tore through the marketplace with a bag of jewels, a cloth concealing most of his face and hair. No one had ever caught him before, and he certainly didn't intend to let tradition be broken now. Getting captured was not how he had earned the name King of Thieves. He could strike anywhere, at any time, and he always got away in the end.

Now several law enforcers h begun to give chase. Bakare weaved around through many vendors' carts, acquiring a turquoise-studded bracelet as he went, and disappeared around a corner.

"You're not going anywhere as long as I have something to say about it."

Bakare felt a sharp object cut across his cheek and he turned to find himself facing one of the law enforcers. The man held his spear threateningly, as if about to run him through.

"You underestimate me," the crafty thief replied in a smooth tone, "and overestimate yourself."

"I'm tired of robbers running wild in this kingdom," the law enforcer told him, tempted to plunge the weapon right into Bakare's thieving heart.

Bakare, however, was unconcerned. He knew that he had the advantage in this situation and so he allowed himself to be backed up against the stone wall. "Perhaps you have caught me this time," he admitted, seeing how the man's hands were shaking. "But would you actually deliberately spill someone's blood?"

"If he was a thief such as you," the man replied, but Bakare could hear the wavering tone to his voice. "Of course I would!"

The robber snatched the spear and held it fast. "I don't believe you. You do not have the heart or the stomach to kill someone, even one such as I." He yanked it free from the man's grasp and now pointed it at him.

The man's eyes widened, but he stood firm. "And I suppose you do," he said.

Bakare didn't answer. He tickled the man's chest with the spear in a dangerous manner, but then somersaulted up onto the wall high above them without injuring him. Sneering, the thief threw the spear back down and it landed straight up in the ground not far from the law enforcer. The man jumped back, startled.

Almost as if daring the man to follow, Bakare now caught hold of a nearby clothesline and hoisted himself up onto the roof of a modest adobe house. Laughing nastily, the young thief bid farewell to his pursuers and disappeared into the darkness.

When he was safely hidden away in his hideout, Bakare counted his new treasures thoughtfully. His career as a robber was very profitable, he mused, but it didn't always come without casualties.

Gingerly he reached up to examine the angry slice on his right cheek. It was irritating him now, but it would soon heal, and in the meantime Bakare had what he wanted.
****
"What is this I hear of a threat against me?" Pharaoh Yugioh stared at his most trusted bodyguard somberly, his violet eyes narrowed in concern. It was already a stressful time for him—his elderly and faithful high priest, Menmaatre, had passed away recently and Yugioh missed him greatly, especially with the funeral approaching the next day.

Khu, a young man with striking dark eyes and hair, bowed respectfully. "Forgive me, my Pharaoh, for relaying such abominable news, but I am afraid it is true."

Yugioh arose from his throne. "Do you have any knowledge of who is plotting this?"

"Regrettably, my Pharaoh," Khu apologized, "I do not." He paused. "I only overheard the traitors conspiring in an old vacant building near the edge of the village, but when I tried to capture them they used an evil spell and managed to elude me."

"They can use magic?" Yugioh's expression was grim. "This news is very ill."

Khu bowed low. "I assure you, my Pharaoh, I will find these treasonous souls and have them all appropriately . . . punished."

Yugioh nodded and returned to his throne. "I have no doubt of that, Khu. I trust you completely with the matter."

"Your trust is well-placed, my Pharaoh." Khu bowed again and turned to leave.

As he left, he passed by another of Yugioh's bodyguards—Kythiopia, the very stern and silent one. Khu wondered if she ever smiled. Now the woman looked at him stonily and nodded curtly, leaning on her glaive. Kythiopia had never liked him, he knew, and sometimes he wondered if the woman knew what he was really up to.
****
One of the Palace priests was standing in a dark corner outside the grounds, idly studying the stars in the sky.

"What are you doing?" Khu asked as he approached.

The priest turned. "The Pharaoh believed your tale quite easily, did he not?" he commented, not bothering to answer the question.

"The Pharaoh is a naive fool," Khu snorted. "We do not need someone such as him ruling Egypt."

"Careful, brother," the priest cautioned with a smirk. "You could get beheaded for such statements."

Khu wasn't amused. He grabbed the priest and yanked him forward by the ankh around his neck. "You imbecile! No one can know that we are brothers!"

The priest was unfazed. "There is no one to hear but the gods, and I doubt they will reveal our secret."

"You find this all amusing, don't you?" Khu snarled. "But our plans must succeed. If anything goes wrong, I will hold you personally responsible." He turned to go. "And you won't be very amused if that happens, I can assure you."

The priest watched his brother vanish into the night, still unconcerned. "There is nothing to fear, Khu," he said smoothly, though he knew he was talking to himself. "Our plans will succeed."

Present

Bakura listened, captivated. "Is all of this true?" he exclaimed.

Yami Bakura grunted. "What do you think? Of course it is true."

Bakura sat back and blinked. "But how do you know all of this, Yami?" he asked.

"Never mind that," Yami Bakura grumped. "Now, the story's barely begun, you dolt. Listen carefully."

Egypt

Bakare happened to be passing by when he overheard the strange conversation—or at least the tail end of it. "How interesting," he mused. "I wonder what they're up to. Whatever it is, it sounds intriguing and dangerous." He watched as the figure disappeared into the shadows. "Perhaps it would profit me to find out what he's up to."

Slowly the thief moved stealthily after him. He had overheard the priest address this older man as "Khu" and then knew that something very out of the ordinary was going on. Everyone knew who Khu was. What could the Pharaoh's chief bodyguard be plotting? And why had it been kept a secret that he had a brother who was also living at the Palace?

Bakare quietly crept after Khu as the man began to head for the village. It was late at night; where would he be going now? Did it have anything to do with this covert plot?
Bakare had the feeling it did, and the events were strange enough that the thief wanted to see what was happening.

Eventually Khu reached his destination—an inn near the edge of the village—and knocked softly and distinctly three times. After a pause, the slat near the top of the door opened and a stern-faced man looked out.

"Lord Khu," he said in relief, obviously having been expecting someone else.

"Have the others arrived?" Khu wanted to know.

"Yes, my lord," the doorman nodded. "We have been anticipating your arrival."

Khu's lips pulled back in a smile. "Then our meeting shall begin."

The other man quickly opened the door and Khu stepped in. As the door slowly shut, Bakare heard him say, "The Pharaoh suspects nothing."

Bakare's eyes narrowed. Were they plotting against the Pharaoh? That was punishable by death if they were caught. Curiously he pressed himself up against the door to listen in.

At first he only heard strange and unintelligible mutters and chants, but then Khu cried loudly, "The Pharaoh isn't utilizing the immense supernatural powers he has in his control, nor is he properly handling any of the situations in our great kingdom!"

Cries of agreement were heard.

"But now he will be overthrown," Khu vowed solemnly. "Tomorrow, he will be attending the entombing of his deceased high priest. It will be the ideal time to be rid of him and all of those bothersome fools who are loyal to him—and then we can claim the throne!"

More cries echoed across the walls.

Bakare didn't like what he was hearing. He was a thief and a tomb raider, but he had no desire to overthrow the Pharaoh. Of course, he also didn't want to get mixed up in all of this. Surely the Pharaoh wouldn't really be unsuspecting of such a conspiracy! Everyone at the inn must be involved, Bakare decided, and that must be at least fifty or more. Perhaps this was the local zealot band that had tried a couple of times in the past to get rid of Pharaoh Yugioh? Bakura decided he wanted to see.

Silently he slid the door slat open and took a cautious look inside. Khu was holding what looked like a staff, which was glowing a dark, almost black color.

Khu isn't a sorcerer, Bakare said to himself. What in the name of Heaven is he doing?

Now the traitorous man paused and looked angry. "There is a spy in our midst," he intoned.

Quickly Bakare shut the slat and dashed around the side of the inn. He had always been an agile person, and now he used his knowledge to quietly climb up onto the inn's roof. By the time Khu and his followers burst through the doors, the thief was sprawled flat on the cold surface and unable to be seen by them from the ground.

Khu, however, looked up at the roof. "Our intruder hides there," he deduced grimly. "We must find out how much he knows of our plot!"

Bakare didn't intend to be caught. Stealthily he felt across the roof until he grasped a trapdoor which led downward into the inn. Since Khu's ridiculous group were all outside and not inside to watch, Bakare had no trouble slipping through the door unseen. He dropped silently to the floor below and glanced around. He had only bought himself a short bit of time, but that was enough. Without another thought, he pulled the veil over his face so only his eyes showed and then disappeared out through the back door of the inn. The shadows were dark enough to conceal him until he was much too far away for Khu's followers to ever hope to catch up.

Present

"Oh my!" Bakura exclaimed. "How intriguing!" He paused. "But that is terrible that the Pharaoh's most trusted guard is turning against him," he said sadly, wincing from the pain of a bruise.

Yami Bakura muttered something and handed him an icepack. "That is what happens in this world," he said bitterly.

Bakura accepted the ice gratefully. "What did Bakare do?" he asked.

"What makes you think he did anything at all?" Yami Bakura retorted.

Bakura blinked. "The Pharaoh's life was in danger! Surely he didn't just stand by and do nothing!" the boy cried.

"Why should he do anything?" Yami Bakura grunted. "The Pharaoh never did anything for him. In fact, he was always trying to have him captured and put in prison."

Bakura shook his head. "But he was a thief!" he protested. "The Pharaoh couldn't just let him run free!"

Yami Bakura sighed loudly but seemed to otherwise ignore that comment. "You're right, you fool—Bakare did do something," he admitted at last, wanting to get on with the story.

Egypt

Bakare stayed in the shadows outside the Pharaoh's palace. He could see one of the guards—a stern female—standing near the gate, holding her dangerous weapon out in front of her. He still didn't want to get involved in all this, so what was he doing here? he wondered. Did he owe anything to the Pharaoh? Certainly not! Besides, how could the Pharaoh truly be so naive as to not see the rebellion rising against him?

Perhaps, Bakare reflected, he did indeed see it but had no idea that his most trusted bodyguard was their leader. Most people did not think that their friends would suddenly turn against them, which was a pity. They should be prepared for the inevitable, Bakare thought angrily. Friends were either phony and were only there during the fair weather, or they were faithful and wound up dying tragic, unnecessary deaths.

"You've been lurking outside the gate for a long time now. I do hope you're trying to be obvious."

The cold female voice interrupted his thoughts and he whirled around to face the Pharaoh's guard, who stared back at him stonily.

"What is it you want, and why do you hide your face?"

Bakare still had the veil pulled up over the lower part of his face. If he was actually going to drop any kind of hints or a flat-out warning about the danger the Pharaoh was in, he didn't want his identity revealed. "I am only here to warn you that Pharaoh Yugioh's life is in danger," the thief said in a low tone. "He will be ambushed tomorrow at the tomb of his high priest."

The woman's expression darkened and she pressed the end of her weapon against Bakare's chest. "Is that a threat?" she demanded. "I could end your life right now."

Bakare stood his ground. "It is not I who is against him," he explained. "Surely he knows of the zealot band that has been after him for some time."

"Of course he knows," the guard replied, "but how am I to know whether you are involved with them or not?"

"If I was," Bakare said, "I would not be coming here to warn him. It is someone in his own court who is behind this conspiracy—Khu, his trusted bodyguard."

The woman's eyes narrowed. "You're awfully well-informed. How do you know all of this?" she demanded. "Even the Pharaoh's guards have failed to discover the zealot band's secret meeting place."

"I overheard them conversing," Bakare said smoothly. "They meet at the inn near the edge of the village. But you need not worry about my identity—only those guilty of treason, which I am not." With that he grabbed the guard's weapon and forced it away from him before turning to vanish into the shadows.
****
Kythiopia watched the fleeing figure in annoyance before turning away. Could all of what he'd said be taken seriously? It was easy enough to believe that the zealots would try something again, but was her suspicious nature just manifesting itself again by condemning Khu as their leader—simply because she had never liked him and now because a stranger had told her he was involved? She would have liked to know who that irritating person was and exactly how he had come about his information, but that would have to wait until later.

After finding another guard to finish her watch, Kythiopia disappeared into the palace and headed for Pharaoh Yugioh's throne room. She was struggling with the decision of whether to mention everything now or not. The Pharaoh definitely needed to be warned of the possible danger on the morrow, but should she also mention that his most trusted bodyguard could be the mastermind behind it all?

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted as she passed by Seth, one of the priests. She had never liked him much at all. There was something about him that reminded her of Khu, but also . . . Seth was a very amorous person and often said and did things that Kythiopia found annoying and objectionable.

"Ah, good evening, Kythiopia," he greeted now, stopping to smile at her in what she found to be a too-familiar way.

"Seth." She gave him a curt nod and walked on, disgust evident in her eyes.

When she reached the throne room she found Yugioh staring out the window, seeming to be lost in thought.

"My Pharaoh?" she said quietly.

Yugioh turned to look at her. "Kythiopia," he said in surprise. "You seem troubled."

"I have brought grave news," Kythiopia replied slowly.

Yugioh surprised her with his next words. "I have heard news of the planned ambush," he said. "These zealots are not abandoning their cause, it seems."

Again Kythiopia struggled. She knew how much Yugioh considered Khu to be a friend.

"There is something else bothering you," Yugioh observed with concern. "Tell me, Kythiopia, what is it?"

Then she decided. She would confront Khu herself before saying anything definite, but she would try to tell the Pharaoh now of her suspicions in a more subtle way.

"My Pharaoh," she said at last, "I fear that there is more going on than what appears to be." She hesitated, unsure whether to say more. She certainly didn't want to turn the Pharaoh against his friend if Khu wasn't even involved.

Yugioh gave her a long, searching look. "I have sensed this as well," he told her grimly. "I will make certain to have extra security tomorrow."

Kythiopia bowed slightly. "I will do all I can to protect you, my Pharaoh."

Now Yugioh smiled slightly. "I know you will."

Present

Bakura smiled. "I'm glad that Bakare went to warn them!" he declared.

"For all the good it did," Yami Bakura muttered.

Bakura stared, wide-eyed. "Why do you say that, Yami? What happened next?"

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Yami Bakura replied, not intending to rush forward in the tale's events.

Egypt

Kythiopia tried to keep her mind on the funeral ceremony the next day, but her thoughts kept wandering as she glanced about looking for any sign of the zealots. She was certain they would strike at the most unexpected time, so she had to be on guard every minute.

One thing that annoyed her greatly and that she found highly suspicious was that Khu hadn't come in until late the previous night—and he had apparently come in through one of the secret entrances, as Kythiopia never knew he had returned until the next morning when Yugioh mentioned that he had sent the man on an errand before the funeral.

Now Kythiopia turned to study Khu intently. They were standing on either side of the Pharaoh—herself on his left and Khu on his right. The dark-haired man was staring ahead stonily, seeming to be concentrating on the ceremony, but Kythiopia could see that he actually seemed to be looking for something . . . or someone. He clenched his spear tightly, his piercing violet eyes surveying the surrounding area and the other mourners. She followed his gaze but saw nothing out of the ordinary.

Kythiopia turned her attention to Pharaoh Yugioh. He truly was intently listening to the ceremony, watching as the priests—Seth among them—began to burn the incense in front of the sarcophagus and the ka statues. With an inward sigh, Kythiopia turned back to the ceremony as well, still watching Khu suspiciously. If he tried to do something, she would make certain to take note of it and stop him before he could do any harm.
****
Khu continued to hold his spear tightly, all the while looking out over the congregation that had gathered and searching for those belonging to his zealot group. Upon catching sight of several of his top leaders, the traitorous man sneered to himself.

He had never been truly loyal to the Pharaoh; he found Yugioh's methods of handling things absolutely ridiculous, and so did the others whom he had gathered. Together they were determined to overthrow him by whatever means necessary and then claim the throne for themselves. Khu didn't care whether he actually wound up with the throne in the end; all he cared about was making certain that Yugioh would have it no longer.

Khu's younger brother Seth wanted to overthrow the Pharaoh as well, but Khu knew that Seth's reasons were purely for the power he would have if he became pharaoh instead. Seth's ultimate goal was to rule the entire world . . . and to have every available female at his beck and call, Khu thought wryly. Seth was a womanizer—always had been, and always would be.

Khu didn't especially want Seth to become pharaoh—he was certain that his brother wouldn't be that much better a ruler than Yugioh, and perhaps he would be worse. But Khu had tricked his brother into joining his little band of zealots anyway. He could use someone with dark magical powers, he had reasoned, and once Yugioh was defeated he could figure out what to do about Seth.

He forced himself to come back to the present. This was, perhaps, the perfect time to summon his organization. The Pharaoh and his other guards were all concentrating on the incense ritual at the moment—Menmaatre had been beloved by all of the Pharaoh's court and they all wanted to help him journey to the afterlife.

All, except for Khu. He found the old man to have been an old fool, just as Yugioh was. He had neither the time nor the patience to worry about the man's funeral rituals. He had a much more important job to do.

Determinedly, he moved his spear just slightly so that it flashed bright in the sun. He repeated this two more times—this being the signal for the ambush—and then watched in delight as his zealots perked up and drew their weapons. With a loud war cry they rushed forward by the numbers, knocking people to the ground mercilessly as they headed for the guards surrounding the Pharaoh.

Instantly Kythiopia snapped to attention and wielded her glaive as one of the zealots tried to attack, noticing with irritation and a certain suspicion that Khu had seemed to have vanished in the melee.

Yugioh, angered by this sudden interruption and not willing to just stand back and let his guards defend him, matched wits and weapons with a cloaked figure who approached him from the right.

"You will never accomplish what it is you are trying to do," the Pharaoh said sternly, shoving him against a wall and holding him fast. "This is not the way to express your opinions."

"You've been in power much too long, Pharaoh," the zealot hissed, trying to raise his javelin. With a powerful blow, he managed to knock Yugioh backwards onto the ground and stood over him, prepared to plunge the weapon into his heart.

Suddenly the man gasped and fell over as Kythiopia abruptly attacked from behind. The stern woman watched him fall, a seemingly emotionless expression on her face, and then she turned to look at Yugioh with concern. "My Pharaoh, are you alright?" she asked.

Yugioh slowly got up and nodded. "I am fine. But these zealots are not going to give up easily. There's more of them now than there ever were before. And I don't understand how they all got in."

Kythiopia pressed her lips together, saying nothing but finding her opinion of Khu getting lower and lower. How else could all these zealots have gained access to this area? He must have done something.

"Come on!" a guard yelled as he drove his weapon into an attacker's chest. "We still outnumber them! We'll drive them back into that dead end, arrest all who surrender, and kill those who won't!!"

Quickly the other guards followed suit, creating a protective barrier between the murderous zealots and the Pharaoh. Slowly they moved forward, advancing on their enemies fiercely.

"Don't give up, men!" the zealots' leader, a mysteriously cloaked figure, cried in a muffled voice. "Attack!!"

And so the battle resumed.

Present

Bakura was leaning forward on the bed, captivated. "What happened, Yami?" he demanded, seeing that the thief had paused in his narrative. "They didn't kill the Pharaoh, did they?"

Yami Bakura shook his head. "No, they did not. But it was a very bloody battle, and many perished on both sides. Eventually the zealots' leader—Khu, of course—had no choice but to order a retreat."

"Were they captured then?" Bakura wanted to know, taking a sip of water from the glass his Yami had brought up for him.

Again Yami Bakura shook his head. "No. All those who were able to run managed to escape."

Egypt

Bakare, wandering amongst the nearby tombs, had been preparing to break into one and raid it when he heard the sounds of an approaching army. Turning to look, he discovered the entire zealot band charging toward him, the Pharaoh's guards following close behind. With an angry mutter, the silvery-haired thief went to step out of their way as they lunged past—but he was abruptly snatched by one of the zealots and dragged along with them.

"What is this?!" Bakare screamed. "Put me down this instant!!" No one paid him any heed as they continued to retreat from the Pharaoh's guards.

Every now and then one of their number would be wounded by a flying javelin and fall to the ground, and Khu always insisted that they stop to retrieve them. No matter how traitorous he was to the Pharaoh, he was quite loyal to his fellow zealots. Bakare watched as this went on, his long hair flying in front of his eyes as he struggled to break free.

"Let me go, you imbeciles!!" he screamed again, but to no avail.

"The Pharaoh's guards are catching up, Lord Khu!" one of the other zealot leaders cried. "Most of our men have been wounded now; there is no way we can fight back!"

"The Nile river is just ahead," Khu replied. "Once you cross it, we'll have the advantage." He himself was going to find a way to double back and be found with the Pharaoh, as if he had never left. His treasonous acts certainly couldn't be discovered—not now, after this latest attempt to overthrow Yugioh had failed.

Now more javelins flew overhead, striking down several more of the zealot members.

Suddenly Bakare let out an ear-piercing scream as he felt something sharp viciously tear into his shoulder and then blood spill down over his back. The man carrying him stumbled, but quickly regained his balance and continued to hurry along. As the thief was jolted and jostled, the immense pain from his wound became too much and he fell completely limp, the deadly javelin still protruding from his shoulder.

Present

Bakura gasped, horrified at the pictures Yami Bakura was painting. "Oh my!" he exclaimed. "Was he killed?"

Yami Bakura grunted. "No, you dolt. He wasn't killed. But what with everything that happened to him after that, he almost wished he had been."

"Why did Khu's zealots grab him, anyway?" Bakura wanted to know, intrigued and saddened by his Yami's last remark.

"You'll find out soon enough," Yami Bakura replied, preparing to continue the story.

Egypt

Kythiopia cursed under her breath as she saw the zealots making their escape across the Nile. There was no chance of catching up to them now. She'd best make certain that the Pharaoh was alright, she decided as she turned around and started back.

When she arrived, she found Khu standing over a dead zealot's body and holding his bloodied weapon over the man's heart. Khu's garments were stained red with blood as well, and his hair was flying wildly as if he had been involved in a vicious brawl.

"This one nearly got to the Pharaoh," Khu said as he looked up, "but I managed to get rid of him in time." That, of course, wasn't true at all—the zealot had already been dead when Khu had found him, but the scenario he'd just created did make it appear as though he had been trying to protect Yugioh, instead of being the main one behind his attempted murder.

Kythiopia looked at him suspiciously. She hadn't seen him at all during the intense battle, but could she have just overlooked him? After all, there had been zealots coming at them from all sides. It would've been quite easy to misplace one man amongst so many.

But still . . . she couldn't ignore the matter of the stranger's warning from the previous night. The attack had happened, just as he had said. Was it possible that Khu truly was behind it all?

He seemed sincere enough, she thought, watching him run up to Pharaoh Yugioh in concern and ask if he was alright. . . .

But she herself had never liked Khu at all. There seemed to be an ominous darkness surrounding him, and whenever Kythiopia encountered him somewhere, she always felt the need to stay perfectly alert and on guard, as if he would bring harm to her or someone else.

Someone like the Pharaoh.

But should she just trust her instincts and the word of a stranger? It was all so confusing to her. She didn't want to incriminate the Pharaoh's closest friend without concrete proof, and yet she also didn't want to allow him the opportunity to cause another catastrophe if he was guilty.
****
Cold. It was dark and cold all around him.

Bakare struggled to emerge from the blanket of oblivion, a soft moan escaping from his lips. Slowly he moved his hand across the surface he was laying on and heard a soft clanging sound. What was that?

"You're chained, my friend."

Who was that? Bakare reached into the depths of his mind for an answer, but the recognition wasn't coming to him. He didn't know this person . . . did he?

"Open your eyes," the voice ordered.

Bakare growled inwardly. He wouldn't let anyone tell him what to do. He would open his eyes if he possibly could, but not because someone else wanted him to.

Now he became aware of an intense burning in his shoulder and the memories came flooding back. The ambush . . . the capture . . . the javelin. . . .

He forced his eyes open and found himself looking at a complete stranger who was attired in costly robes and had adorned his fingers with many rings. "Who . . .who are you?" he demanded.

The other man leaned back and chuckled to himself. "Oh, you will learn soon enough." He paused. "I don't know how you wound up with us. You certainly aren't part of our movement."

Bakare growled angrily. Now he knew where he was. He must be down in the wine cellar of the inn belonging to those blasted zealots.

"But," the richly-dressed man went on, "my leader has heard of your capture and wishes to speak with you. He will be arriving shortly." He turned to go. "Until then, feel free to get acquainted with your surroundings."

Bakare watched him disappear up the stone stairs and tried to raise himself up as much as he could, but his shoulder would not permit it. With a grunt of pain, the thief slammed back down onto the hard table he seemed to be chained to.

He could feel blood coming from the javelin wound again and felt immensely irritated. Were they just going to allow him to bleed to death?

"Ah. Hello, my friend. Bakare, isn't it?"

The thief looked up at the voice. This one he recognized. Standing before him was the Pharaoh's chief bodyguard, Khu.

"How do you know my name?" Bakare growled defensively. True, he was the most notorious robber in all of Egypt, but hardly anyone knew what he actually looked like.

"You were talking in your sleep," Khu replied. "Or would it have been your delirium?"

Bakare struggled against the shackles, but they held fast. "Why did you take me prisoner?" he demanded.

Khu paused and then slowly shook his head. "A pure mistake. I don't know why on earth my men grabbed you off the side of the road as they did, but I certainly did not tell them to." This, as most everything Khu said turned out to be, was a lie. He had told his men to grab Bakare when they saw him, hoping that he could be of some use to them later. And he probably did unwillingly prevent more of my men from being shot down by being struck with that javelin himself, Khu thought to himself with a smirk.

Bakare didn't buy Khu's story, but he would go along with it for now. "And what about after I was wounded? Why didn't you just leave me for dead?"

"I never leave my men to die," Khu replied smoothly.

Bakare growled. "But I am not one of your men!"

Khu turned away from him slightly. "That . . . could be arranged."

"What do you mean?" Bakare asked suspiciously.

Khu turned back to face him. "Join forces with me," he hissed, kneeling down to look Bakare directly in the eyes.

Bakare was repulsed. "Why should I?" he growled, pulling away as far as he could get his chains to go.

"The Pharaoh must be overthrown," Khu replied. "I am recruiting everyone who believes in my cause to assist."

Bakare struggled again. "I have nothing against the Pharaoh." Of course, that wouldn't be the case later on in his life, but at this time his statement was true. "Besides, even if I did, I have never agreed with you ridiculous zealots and your methods. You are always causing disturbances such as the one today and I am becoming weary of it!" He yanked at the chains weakly. "And I don't take kindly to being shackled. Do you actually believe I would join any organization that tried to intimidate me this way?"

Khu stood up slowly. "Very well, then." He paused. "You do realize . . . if you don't join us, you know far too much. I can't have my identity revealed."

Bakare grunted. "I am not afraid of you, and I certainly do not respond well to threats." He tried again to rise.

Instantly Khu struck out with a rod and slammed him back down, striking him on his injured shoulder. Bakare cried out in pain, feeling new blood course down his flesh from the harsh blow.

"You have made an unwise decision, my friend," Khu said, clucking his tongue. "I can't let you go free."

Bakare lay gasping on the table, the pain almost unbearable, but still he would not give in.

"Now," Khu continued, "you will suffer!" He raised the rod, which now Bakare saw was the same javelin that he had been wounded with earlier, and pressed it sharply into the thief's back.

Bakare screamed, clutching at the edge of the table and trying to block out the pain, but it was no use. It filled his mind, engulfed his entire being, and brought back nightmares of the past.

Roughly Khu brought the javelin down in a jagged line, then pulled it out of Bakare's flesh and studied the blood dripping from the tip. "You see, my friend, it's quite simple. Either you join me, or else I will have to torment you to your death."

Bakare tried to ignore the pain shooting up his back. "You are a fool if you think I will give in because you are torturing me. I am not that weak!"

"Very well," Khu replied, jabbing the weapon once more into Bakare's flesh. "You have chosen."

Bakare didn't know how long Khu stayed there tearing into his flesh with the deadly weapon. He only knew it felt like an endless eternity of agony from which there was no escape except unconsciousness or death. Once he had fallen unconscious, but Khu—wicked person that he was—had forced him to wake up in order to again feel the harsh punishment. Bakare was certain that he was going to die, but he hadn't lived much of a life anyway . . . and no one would miss him when he was gone. No one cried over a thief.

Khu was about to deliver the killing blow when he was suddenly interrupted by an urgent voice from upstairs. "Lord Khu! The Pharaoh's guards are approaching!!" Bakare recognized the voice as belonging to the first person who had spoken to him upon his awakening.

"What?" Khu looked up in irritation. "How did they find out where we are?!"

Bakare smirked to himself through the hazy fog of pain. So that guard had listened to him after all.

"I don't know, sir, but they've almost reached the building by now!" the zealot returned.

Khu cursed under his breath and looked Bakare over. The poor thief had screamed piteously for ages while Khu had alternately beaten and stabbed him with the javelin, and now he was sprawled on the table, gasping, his arms hanging limply over the edges. "He's almost dead anyway," Khu muttered, turning away and letting the javelin drop to the floor. "Round up the others and prepare to fight!" he yelled as he followed the man up the stairs.

That was the last thing Bakare heard before he slipped away.

Present

"Oh Yami!" Bakura exclaimed, his eyes wide. "Is . . . is that how he died?" He looked sickened at the thought of anyone meeting such a grisly fate, even a thief such as this Bakare.

To his surprise and relief, Yami Bakura shook his head. "No. That is not how he died. He lived on for quite some time after that."

Bakura smiled, but then looked confused. "But, Yami, how did he get free? Did the Pharaoh's guards defeat the zealots and find him in the cellar?"

"Hardly," Yami Bakura grunted. "Their battle went on for ages, and once again Khu somehow managed to avoid being seen by the guards. His treachery wasn't officially discovered until several months later." He paused. "But that's another story entirely. As for what happened to Bakare . . ." A faraway look came into his eyes. "You know, he never did quite understand how it was that someone found him, nor did he understand who that someone was."

"Oh please, tell me, Yami!" Bakura begged. He had become completely caught up in the picture his Yami had painted of ancient Egypt—the intrigue, the danger, the people—and he had to know what had happened to everyone.

Yami Bakura sighed and leaned back. "This is all that Bakare remembered about then," he began.

Egypt

"Hello? Hello?"

Somewhere through the thick mists of unconsciousness, Bakare thought he could hear someone calling to him. Was it Khu returning to finish the job? No . . . this person didn't sound like Khu. In fact, it didn't sound like anyone he'd ever heard before. He started to slip deeper into his oblivion when he felt an urgent hand on his uninjured shoulder.

"Oh please wake up!" the voice cried, sounding horrified and frightened.

Slowly Bakare's senses returned and he managed to open his eyes half-way. He couldn't clearly see the person standing before him, as his vision was much too blurred, but the thief sensed that he was here to help.

"Who did this to you?" the person said in horror. Now Bakare could hear that it was a young boy's voice.

"Zealot," Bakare choked out feebly, feeling his strength depleted. "He . . . he'll be back to . . . to kill me."

The boy gasped, shakily reaching for the shackles binding Bakare to the table. "Oh! I have to get you away from here!" he cried.

Bakare only watched him through half-open eyes, feeling as though he were disembodied somehow, as the pain was so overwhelming.

The boy looked around frantically, eventually finding something small and sharp on the floor. "Perhaps I can use this to pick the locks," he said hopefully, gently lifting the thief's limp wrist and inserting the object into the keyhole of the manacle. After a moment he heard a click as it snapped open. Relieved, the boy hurried to do the same with the other chains.

When Bakare was at last free of the shackles, the boy looked him over with wide eyes. "Can . . . can you walk?" he asked at last.

Bakare struggled to stand, but his limbs collapsed under him and he fell back to the table with a groan.

"Oh my!" the boy cried, terrified.

"Just . . . just leave me," Bakare managed to say. "If . . . if they come back and find you in here, they . . . they'll surely kill you as well."

"I won't leave you!" the boy vowed. Bakare felt him drape a soft cloth over his wounded back and then tie it on. "I will get you away from here and then I will nurse you back to health!"

Bakare drew a ragged breath which turned into a hacking cough. "That's . . . that's going to be quite a challenge for . . . for one as young as you," he remarked.

"I will help you!" the boy assured him. "Please, can you try to stand? You can put all your weight on me if you have to."

Bakare grunted. "You . . . you couldn't carry me," he objected.

"Perhaps not," the boy conceded, "but I certainly shall try!" Gently he draped Bakare's arm over his shoulder and tried to raise him up. "It's alright," he said softly. "I will get you away from here!"

Bakare was in such a daze that he didn't even stop to wonder how the boy had even gotten inside. He shakily stood, or rather, he tried to. His legs buckled under him as soon as his feet reached the floor, and then he started to topple over.

Quickly the boy rushed to assist. "I'm so sorry," he said softly, gently pulling the thief up again. "Can . . . can you just take a step forward?"

Feeling almost mechanical, Bakare managed to take that step forward before he felt the dizziness start to overtake him. He leaned heavily on his rescuer, trying hard not to pass out.

"You can make it," the boy encouraged. "Just keep taking one step at a time!"

And so somehow Bakare found himself able to make it outside. He still couldn't see very well at all, and he felt as though he were living in a slow-moving dream as he tried to stumble along, but eventually he felt himself being half-carried, half-dragged by his rescuer and laid on a soft bed.

"You can sleep now," the boy told him kindly. "I will tend to your wounds."

Bakare was already slipping into his oblivion, where he remained for quite some time. He often heard the boy talking to him, but it was only occasionally that he could clearly hear what was being said.

"You're going to get better," the boy assured him at one point or another. "I know you will!"
****
Pharaoh Yugioh listened grimly to Kythiopia's and Khu's report on the zealot band. It had been several days since their meeting place at the inn had been discovered, and now it was estimated that over half of the band had been killed or captured. Unfortunately, Kythiopia concluded, that still left another half that was unaccounted for.

"They could be anywhere in the kingdom, my Pharaoh," Khu said in concern, "plotting more of their mindless, destructive attempts to gain control of the throne for themselves."

Yugioh stood up slowly, the Millennium Puzzle around his neck clinking softly. "This is bad news," he said gravely. "Several of those in my own court perished during the battle. I don't want to see anyone else die!"

"Be assured, my Pharaoh," Khu said smoothly, "no one else will have to. Kythiopia and myself will see to that, won't we?" He turned to look at the grim-faced woman, who gave a sharp nod in reply and then spoke to the Pharaoh.

"I will not rest until every one of these traitors have been accounted for," she vowed.

Yugioh smiled. "I know," he said softly. He had been growing quite fond of Kythiopia during all the time she had been employed in his court. She was so different from any other woman he knew—so strong and bold and unafraid of danger. . . .

Now he looked from Kythiopia to Khu. "With my life in your capable hands, I feel perfectly safe," he declared.

Khu bowed—as did Kythiopia—but inwardly the man smirked to himself. Oh, Pharaoh. If you only knew! he laughed silently. His plotting was far from over, and now it was time to involve his brother more directly.
****
When Bakare finally regained consciousness on what seemed to be many days later, he found himself laying on the bed in his hideout. His wounds—which had been carefully bandaged—were healing now, and he was alone. The boy who had rescued him was nowhere in sight. He was gone. Had he been a dream, or maybe a hallucination brought on by the thief's intense pain and suffering?

But if that were the case, how had he gotten back here?

The boy must have been real, he decided. What other explanation was there?

Bakare stumbled out of bed and stood near the door of his hideout, looking out over the vast Egyptian desert. That boy—a complete stranger—had shown him more kindness than he ever would have believed anyone was capable of bestowing on anyone any more. The last person who had been kind to him at all was his friend, who . . .

He blocked that out of his mind, unwilling to once again recall the pain surrounding his friend's tragic death.

Whoever you are, Bakare said silently, returning to the mystery of his rescuer's disappearance and saying something that he wasn't sure he had ever said before—

Thank you.

Present

Yami Bakura leaned back. "And that," he said, "was what happened to Bakare. His life was spared . . . that time, anyway." He glanced at Bakura, who looked almost pale. "What in the name of Heaven is wrong with you?!" he burst out.

Bakura blinked, almost as if emerging from a trance. "Yami," he said softly, "I have heard that last part of your story before."

"What do you mean?" Yami Bakura demanded, crossing his arms. "I never told any of it to you before now."

Bakura hurried to correct himself. "Well, no, I suppose 'heard' isn't exactly true. You see, Yami, I . . . I experienced it."

"Have you gone mad?" Yami Bakura cried.

The boy quickly shook his head. "No, Yami, I'm quite myself. But you see . . ." He paused, struggling for the right words. "Several years ago, I was struck down with a high fever and laid for many days in a comatose state. My father told me later that I was nearly dead."

Yami Bakura continued to watch him, unsure of where this was going.

"During that time," Bakura tried to explain, "I seemed to have left my body for a while and I found myself in a strange village that I eventually realized was somewhere in Egypt. I was somehow able to understand their language as I wandered through the marketplace and around the buildings, and I wondered how exactly I was going to get home.

"Somehow I found myself over by an inn near the edge of the village. I could see a terrible battle going on and I wondered if there was anything I could do to help. . . . And that was when I heard my mother calling to me."

"Your mother?" This was sounding more ridiculous by the minute.

Bakura nodded. "My mother . . . she . . . she died when I was five," he said softly, and then tried to continue with his tale. "When I heard her calling to me in Egypt, she said that there was something I must do there before I could go back home . . . and then I found the unguarded back entrance into the inn. Everyone was fighting on the other side of the building, so I had no problem entering unobtrusively. Once inside, I somehow found my way into the cellar and . . . and that was when I saw a young man laying chained to a table, beaten almost to death—just as you described Bakare was."

"You don't say," Yami Bakura muttered, seeming almost as if he himself was trying to remember something.

"I . . . I tried to help him as best as I could," Bakura said quietly. "I couldn't do much about his wounds until I was able to get him away from that dreadful place, but in the meantime I gave him my jacket and tied it over his back."

Yami Bakura found himself intrigued in spite of himself.

"He was delirious," Bakura went on, "but somehow he managed to give me directions to his home when I asked. I was able to get him back there and then properly clean and bandage his wounds." The boy shuddered, recalling the horrid abrasions delivered by the cruel hands of Khu. "I stayed with him for many days until I was certain that he would be alright. Only then did I suddenly heard my father calling to me and . . . and then I found myself waking up in my bed."

A faraway look came into his eyes. "I never did tell my father about my experience, as I was certain he would only dismiss it as rubbish. I myself decided later that it had just been a strange, lifelike dream." He smiled softly. "But you know, I never have been able to find that jacket."

Yami Bakura grunted. He found this all too strange . . . but then again, could such an experience truly have happened to the boy? For now he would suppose it had, because there was a question he needed the answer to. "Bakura . . . you saved the life of a complete stranger," he said slowly. "Why would you risk your own life to rescue someone you did not even know? If those zealots had found you, they would have killed you in cold blood."

Bakura blinked in surprise. "Someone else's life is just as precious as my own," he said at last. "If . . . if I were laying somewhere beaten horrendously, I would hope that someone would have pity and rescue me." He paused, weighing his next words carefully.

"Yami," he asked now, "who was Bakare?"

Now Yami Bakura blinked, taken aback. "Bakare was a thief and an old fool," he replied.

"But he had a good side," Bakura said softly. "What happened to him, Yami? Did he later become so embittered about life that he turned cold and unfeeling?" He paused again. "Yami . . . were . . . were you Bakare?"

Yami Bakura's eyes narrowed. "Certainly not. Bakare died long ago, and his foolish ideas died with him. I have never cared for anyone besides myself, unlike Bakare."

Bakura smiled. "I don't believe you, Yami. You are not completely evil and terrible, as you would like everyone to believe. I know you still have good inside you. You could have let me die tonight, but you saved me."

Yami Bakura growled. "I need you in order to take over the world. I couldn't let you die."

Bakura chuckled. "I know that's what you say, Yami, but I can see through your facade."

The old thief turned away, muttering something under his breath in Egyptian. Finally he turned back. "You truly believe I care for you, don't you?"

"No, Yami . . . I know you do," Bakura said softly. He paused. "But Yami, I must admit I'm curious—why have you been telling me this story?"

Yami Bakura was silent for a time. "To illustrate a point," he said finally. "You saw the treachery of Khu, turning against the Pharaoh when they were supposed to be friends." He clenched his fists. "That's the way this world is, Bakura. You never know when someone might stab you in the back. This life is cruel and brutal," he growled bitterly.

"I know it is, Yami," Bakura replied sadly, "I honestly do. But you can't just assume that everyone will turn on you. One could never be happy if they just went from day to day without any loved ones to think about and be with."

"Don't tell me about loved ones!" Yami Bakura seethed. "Even those you hold most dear can turn against you!"

Bakura was silent. "This isn't just about Khu's treachery, is it?" he said softly. "Someone you deeply cared for betrayed you, didn't they?"

Yami Bakura turned away, refusing to answer. He stared out the window, his brown eyes aflame with fury at the memories returning again to haunt him.

Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and he slowly turned back to look. Bakura had gotten out of the bed and was gazing at him with concern and compassion. "Yami," the boy said quietly, "I . . . I know I can't possibly imagine what you've been through in your life, nor can I ever know the immense hurt and anguish you must have endured, but . . . I . . . I want you to know that you do have someone who will never betray you." He smiled gently. "I will always be your friend, Yami."

Yami Bakura stared at him in silence for a long time, his face expressionless. Finally he looked away again. "You should get back into the bed, Bakura. You're too weak to be walking around."

Bakura nodded slowly. "Alright, Yami," he agreed, turning to walk back to his bed. As he took a step forward, pain shot through his leg and he collapsed with a gasp.

Yami Bakura whirled around. "Bakura . . . you fool!" he muttered, reaching down to help the boy stand. With the thief's assistance, Bakura managed to limp back over to the bed and climb in.

As Yami Bakura pulled the quilt up around him again, Bakura watched him with knowing eyes. "Yami, that was you, wasn't it?" he said softly. "You were Bakare and I . . . I saved your life back then."

Yami Bakura was silent for many ages, but then he turned away slowly to face the window once more. "Yes, you did, Bakura," he said at last, knowing that he had much to ponder on. "You did." And, he decided now, if there was any hope left for kindness in this heartless world, Bakura would be the one to bring it about.



Final note: This is only part 1 of a possible trilogy of stories about ancient Egypt. Please review and tell me if you wanna see more! ^_^