"Light Of Intervention"

[ Trap / Continuous ] Monster cards cannot be played face-down. Monsters Set in Defense Position are played face-up on the field and are considered summoned.

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World blurring past in curious gray noncolor. Joey's hand clasped tightly around my own. Weight of heavy, itchy clothes. Scratch idly at the cap perched precariously on my head.

Why... why is it so hard to think properly?

Valentine and her strange vial of poison. Heart so full of battered mercy. Strength and knowledge in that one, but no wisdom. Her aid only touches maladies of the brain. Not of the mind. It fades, but so slowly.

Where are we?

A dim mental echo of rushing cars and the near unfamiliar rumble of an engine beneath my feet. Rough canvas seats smelling oddly like the couches of the visiting room, stained with the scents of smoke and age. A screaming child. Blaring rock music so cultivated with modern apathy but still resonating with primal rhythms.

"Joey?"

"Yeah?" his voice is full of fear, but apprehension and worry weight his single word to a monotone.

"Perhaps we should get off now."

He furrows his brow and glances down at his watch. Joey's eyebrows dart towards his hairline and a startled yelp drops from his mouth. "It can't be this late!" He leans over me, pushing me back into the seat, and looks out the window. We're approaching that lovely false night of late autumn. The sky grows dark and heavy. "Fuck." Joey slumps back into his seat and drags a hand through his hair. "What are we gonna do?"

The bus lurches to a halt. Clothes rustle and people call out their goodbyes. Some groan as they rise to their feet and others struggle with crinkling bags of paper. Joey gets up and tugs me after him. Heavy bodies press tightly ahead and behind us. We step to the rough asphalt outside, the scent of car exhaust rising hot around us for a moment before getting tugged away by the wind. This wind is so cold it burns and I have to resist the brief urge to pinch my nose.

The bus pulls away. We're left standing alone amidst the crush of bodies. Skin on skin, but no one's really touching anyone. Except for Joey's hand clutching mine. He's still standing there. Shifting from foot to foot. Waiting as though the heavens will part and show him the way.

"This way."

We walk down the street. The world rushes past and about and above us. Loud and pressing and insisting so very harshly for my attention. Where are we going? I don't think he knows. We pass different buildings, stores selling books, lots selling cars, offices set facing the street.

"We need a place to calm down. I think there's a shelter nearby that'll take us in for the night if we get there in time to snag a couple beds. Got a buddy that owes me a favor, he might take us in for a few days, but that's halfway across town, so no good for tonight. What about food? Don't know about you, but I haven't eaten yet. The shel"

Oh god.

For the love of light, what is this!

Something shattering into my mind and tearing darkness across my vision. Quicksilver band of cold that tightens around my throat and my wrists. What is this... Slow spread of sudden feeling through my veins.

I can feel it. A blessed dichotomy of flesh and spirit.

Khemet. Standing at the edge of the Nile. Dark sky and dark earth meeting in the lover's embrace of night. A hot, dry wind carrying with it the scent of the desert, blending and merging with the shimmering moist air rising off the river. Green stalks of papyrus bowing and whispering in that wind.

Birds cry out in the stillness. They flee like a startled school of leaves, wings thrumming through the air. The hum of the air current directs the flock and weaves them into a passing anarchy of willful chaos. It is a dance they sing with their movements.

That song, lyrics of motion and wing, sway my heart away from dark apathy. Hawks dance for me the song of some unknown emotion. Such solitary creatures, but here they stain the sky with their golden wings by the score and the thousand. Golden of the sun and of Ra, a thousand thousand eyes black as the womb of the earth, birthing the life of her harvest.

Glory in that song of black and gold! Wings and wind and eyes that dance the song of some ineffable thought and presence, something I thought torn from me. What is it? What can it be but

Home. But something

"Dark!"

is missing. The glorious golden fury above me is swallowed in a sound that trembles like a rain of crimson. A word even yet fading that moves me to weep. Heaven and earth are torn from their lover's embrace by a net of silent echoes. The golden dance of the hawks turns into a deafening crescendo of defiance and fear. The silence of their voices is shattered by a thousand shrieking cries and they flee, leaving behind only this unnatural silence.

A single feather drifts lazily down before me. It, like myself, is all that remains against that fading word. I reach to pick it up, some small measure of the glory to hold against this atrocity of silence.

"Such a tiny talisman, is it not?"

"What are you?" the words escape my lips before my mind could give proper form to them.

"You show wisdom, Lord. Asking my name is akin to begging the moon for her milk. It cannot be offered because it does not exist," the voice continues with a hint of amused respect.

I tremble. This is madness, and disturbing, even if it is my own madness. "If I show wisdom, then I ask *you* to show yourself."

"Very well, Lord."

The terrible crimson echoes dissolve into silence, chased by ribbons of darkness. Existence comes crashing down only to the noisy sound of my quivering breath. Darkness. So sudden and complete that my sight must have halted in the midst of a blink. Not even the suggestion of light.

"My Lord, my God-King, you must give light back to the world. Grant your people dawn."

Dawn.

In this limbo, devoid of even chaos? There is only the reflection of nothing reflecting nothing, only the sound of my breath and the beating of my heart and the mad stranger's voice. This darkness. Bland and total. My eyelids reversed and I stare into the emptiness of my mind without closing my eyes.

Dawn.

Something inside of me knows what to do. Open the third eye. Bare the sign of the gods and *will* it into existence. I close my eyes (not that it matters in this darkness) and clutch at the memory of the golden dance of hawks. In the distance of my mind I can hear the sound of wings beating against the breast of the sky.

Light spills across the land, burning and shattering away the inky black that clings defiantly. The tumultus scream of a hawk rips across the newborn sky. Life returns in a sudden agonizing gasp of laughter. The pain and joy of it are inseparable. New breath sears my lungs and I am tempted to weep as a newborn would. Joy and shock and pain.

This first breath of this newborn world of old is followed by the stranger's laughter. "Well done, Lord! Truly, well done. One of your finer sunrises, I must say." He smiles at me, and I can see in his pale face a flicker of somber reverence.

It is more than his face that flickers through attitudes. His whole form follows. At first he carries with him the lanky indolence of a court jester, violet robes and flashing blue eyes. It is then that he appears in a fold of light to walk with the solid assurance of age and broad shoulders, browned in the sun as a child of Khemet.

He tilts his head and looks at me quizzically. "Lord?"

"You keep calling me that," I reply softly. "Why?"

The stranger laughs again, the sound flat and hollow despite the vast space of river and shore around us. "A game is it, my Lord and God-King? Very well. Let us introduce ourselves for this game. I am your black magician, dark spellcaster, your shadow sorcerer. But I am also Your teacher, adviser, Your counsel."

Frustration claws at my eyes with burning claws. I will not weep in front of this madman. "Who are you?" I cry. "Stop speaking in riddles. Who are you? And who am I?" It is this last question that weighs heavy on my chest. Who better to answer than a stranger appearing from a sacred dream?

"I am your jester and wiseman, my Lord," he replies with a solemn smirk. He taps his chin and the infuriating smile drops for a moment. "But who are you? Truly, a vexing question to be laid upon me. Would you not prefer to ask the moon for her milk, as I jested earlier?" He tilts his head. "No then?"

"Who am I?"

"One has named you Dark. Others call you son, one called you friend and brother. Others still have named you Yuugi. But you have also answered to Pharaoh, to Lord. You have answered to the secret name of Ra spoken to you only upon the moment of your birth."

"Answer my question!" Desperation wells within like a boil soon to burst. I feel a sudden hatred for this smiling, mocking man. I can feel my voice sliding upwards to a shriek. "If I am your Lord and God-King, than answer me! What is my name!"

He does nothing but stare for a few moments. This jester and wiseman seems to shrink in upon himself. "I cannot answer," he replies in the tone of a playful child struck down by a cruel adult. "I am sorry, Lord, truly. But what you ask is beyond my ability. It is not the place of those such as I to give name to one such as you."

My vision clouds and hot liquid like colorless blood traces a path down my cheek. Perhaps I'll weep in front of this stranger after all. I want to crumple to my knees and wail my sorrows to the merciless blue sky and dark earth before me. Neither would answer. But there is something in the look of that stranger that will not allow me the blessing of loosing control. I remain on feet, not out of any inner strength, but of the shame that pieces me from that gaze.

The stranger bows to his knees and hides his face in the sand at my feet. "I am sorry, Lord. I cry your forgiveness."

"Get up. Please." The words claw themselves from my throat and hang awkward in the air.

He rises to his feet with an eerie, boneless grace. The mocking, reverent smile returns to his face. "I am able to tell you this my God-King. There will come a time when you must stand before Osiris and the Keeper of Memory. You must offer not only your heart for judgement, but the feather of your fate. You stand outside of Maat and destiny.

"There are two feathers you may offer to weigh against your heart, Lord. One is the golden feather you hold in your hand. The other feather you have yet to find. But when it is found and you stand before the gods, you must choose which you will lay at their feet for your judgement." He stops suddenly, furrowing his brow and cocking his head to the side like a curious hound. "Do you hear something?"

"What?"

"Yes. I believe I hear something, Lord."

"What are you talking about?"

"Something here that isn't here, something that should be." He smiles again and it is a slow, satisfied smile. "My God-King, could it perhaps be your companion?" The stranger reaches for me. His touch is burning and cold, like liquid shock and solid light. A single tapering finger traces the shape of an eye upon my forehead.

His voice drops to a low murmur. "Yes. Your companion. Golden and brave. He rescued you, didn't he, my Master, my Lord?" He steps closer and I can feel a welcome chill radiating from this strange man. A chill like snow and ice. He wraps his arms around me and draws me into his embrace. I want so very much to sleep. "But you cannot yet. Not until you've shown this to him, shown your companion the glory of your kingdom, my Lord."

Yes. My kingdom. He would look so lovely here. The pallor of his skin bronzed by the kiss of the sun. I want to see him dressed in the proper garb of my people, his form anointed with sacred oils. He could banish this chill settling around me. But he

"DARK!"

isn't here.

"Wake up!"

No. I must complete this vision. I want him here with me. I want

"Please!

I want

"Dark!"

him.

I want

"PLEASE!"

Joey. My beloved. So vital in his dead gray world. So golden. Like the feather clutched so tightly in my hand. Please. Let him come to me. I cannot bear that dead world again, but I cannot bear this one without him.

"Then go to him, Lord." The stranger pulls back far enough that I can see his face, first pale and blue-eyed, then bronzed and dark-eyed. He flickers like a benign Janus. All begins to fade but I can feel his arms bearing my weight. He leans down to whisper, "My name is Mahaado."

And the world descends into night.

"Wake up, damn it!"

I return. A stinging pain jars my head. Dead gray sounds filter through and I open my eyes to a dead gray world. Only Joey remains golden. He shakes me again and again, my teeth clacking together before I clench my mouth shut.

"St-stop!" I manage to sputter. "Joey!"

He crushes me against his chest and I hear the dim steps of people walking around us. It hurts. I'm pressed so tightly to him that the rough denim of his jacket cuts into my cheek. His hands skitter up and down my back as though checking a tattered hide for holes.

"What am I going to do with you, Dark?" Joey asks with mournful panic. "I can't take care of you. You just passed out on the fucking street for god's sake!" He pushes me away just far enough that we can see one another face to face. Panic stirs in amber depths and frustrated tears swim in the corners of his eyes. "But I gotta--"

"I trust you Joey." He winces as though struck. "Don't." I reach up and cup his face in my palms. "Whatever comes, it is enough that I'm here with you now."

"I gotta take care of you," Joey replies. "I have to."

I struggle from his arms and get to my feet. I burrow against his side when he stands next to me. "I know, Joey. And thank you."

He looks down at me with an unreadable expression on his face. Don't worry Joey. I will learn the language of your body and your moods. He plucks at my hair and pulls back a golden feather. "Where'd you get this?"

A laugh bubbles up from some unknown depths within me. It feels good. "From a friend," I say and tuck the feather into my pocket.