"Back to Reality"

by Mikazuki Yuriko

Disclaimer: Ok, first of all, I don't own YGO or the rights, or anything. So don't sue me. Believe me, it's not worth it. I'm poor. Now, as for the second half of my disclaimer, don't flame me or anything. I've only seen a portion of Yu-Gi-Oh, and the English version at that. If you like my story, great! Terrific! If not, well, I always accept CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Again, I have no idea what happens for most of the show, so just pretend you're in an alternate dimension or something.

Yugi Moto sneezed as he caught a heavy wiff of dust-laden air. He sneezed a couple more times as the dust cleared and wiped his eyes. He'd been cleaning out the basement of the shop for over an hour, and it still didn't look like he'd made any progress. He lifted a couple more heavy boxes out of the way and swept the floor with his short broom. He tried to be optimistic about his work, but his usual unfailing cheerfulness was starting to erode. He didn't think anyone had cleaned out the basement of his grandpa's store in years. He still thought of it as his grandpa's store, even though the old man had long since retired and left it to him. Now the store that sold the still-famous Duel Monsters game cards was helping Yugi pay his way through college.
Yugi shoveled the dirt and dust that littered the floor into the dustpan and paused when he caught sight of a piece of parchment in the pile. 'What's this?' he wondered. 'I don't remember seeing it there before.' He picked up the piece of parchment and gently blew the dust off of it.
"A scroll?"
Curious, he unwound the rolled-up parchment. Stamped on the long, yellowed paper were black symbols and pictures. Yugi recognized them immediately as Egyptian hieroglyphics--the same writing he was studying in school in his Ancient Egypt course.
"I wonder where it came from," Yugi mused as he tucked the aged papyrus into his jacket pocket. It must have been his grandpa's. After all, the old man had several archaeologist friends. One of them must have given it to him. "I'll have to see what it says later on," Yugi said, mood lightened at the prospect of an ancient scroll to study. His heart fell as he surveyed the basement room. "I'll have to finish up here first, though," he said to himself gloomily.

Later that day, in his apartment building's recreation room, when all thought of the mysterious scroll was wiped from his mind, Yugi bent over the table on which his Duel Monsters cards were spread out. The spacious room was empty except for the two players. Joey was on the other side facing him, a smug grim on his usually cocky face.
"Come on, Yugi," he said in an irritating voice. "Why don't you just give up already?
"I'm thinking!" Yugi protested as he surveyed his cards. His hand was next to useless at the moment, and the only monster he had out on the field was the Dark Magician. It was one of his unluckiest games ever. And even though believing in the "heart of the cards" had always gotten him out of a jam before, it was almost as if his cards knew that this wasn't a life- or-death situation. Although the violet-clad Magician on the card didn't betray anything, he was down to only 300 life points. It was a tough situation for Yugi. He couldn't believe how good a player Joey had become over such a short space of time. He was almost as expert a dueler as Yugi. Almost. Yugi stared at the Red Eyes Black Dragon facing his Magician on the table and tried to think of a strategy.
"By the way, Yugi," said Joey, leaning back lazily in his chair, "sorry I couldn't come over and help you clean out your grandpa's basement like I promised. I was...sorta busy."
"Hot date with Mai?" Yugi asked with fake disinterest as he drew a card, fully aware of his friend's inherent allergies to work.
"No!" Joey protested strongly, going red in the face. "Well...actually...yes..."
Yugi chuckled. "It's okay," he said. "It wasn't too bad. In fact, I found a whole box of unopened Duel Monsters cards in the corner. Really good cards. In fact, there were some I'd never even seen before!"

"Really?" asked Joey keenly.
"Yeah! And...oh, wait!" Suddenly remembering the Egyptian scroll, Yugi pulled the yellow roll of paper out of his pocket. "I found this down there, too," he added. "I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but I think it's from ancient Egypt."
"Wow! Cool! Lemme see," said Joey. Before Yugi could say anything, he grabbed the parchment out of Yugi's hand, leaving his friend wide-eyed and open-mouthed. "Hey, you're right!" he said. "I'll try to read it..."
"Joey!" Yugi complained. He had been hoping to be the first one to see the scroll. Besides, he was better at reading Egyptian hieroglyphics than Joey. They were in the same class, but Yugi had the feeling that Joey was only in there because his friend was, and not because he was interested in ancient Egypt.
"Let's see..." Joey muttered. He poked his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and narrowed his eyes as he concentrated. "The Beast shall drop a cabbage, and the..."
"Oh, just give it to me," said Yugi, swiping the scroll out of Joey's hands. He studied the ink markings on the page and began to read aloud. "The Beast shall reawaken and rise from the dust, and disaster will once again be unleashed in the flesh." He looked up from the scroll and looked at Joey, who had a blank, unintelligent look on his face.
"What on Earth is that supposed to mean?" Joey wondered out loud.
"I don't know," Yugi answered. "Maybe it's a--"

FLASH!!!

With an ear-piercing boom of thunder, a bright light suddenly exploded from the scroll in Yugi's hand, filling the room with a blinding whiteness. Yugi and Joey both yelled in surprise and pain as the light scorched their eyes. Hurriedly, they clapped their hands over their eyes to block out the intense beams. The table and chairs trembled like there was an earthquake going on. In a few moments the thunder subsided, and the room was restored to its quiet state. Yugi risked opening his eyes, and was relieved to see that the dazzling light had gone, replaced by the normal fluoresecents above. 'Strange earthquake,' he thought. 'And what was that light?' He looked at Joey, who had also uncovered his eyes. His friend's face had gone completely white, and his brown eyes were huge, nearly popping out of his face. His mouth was gaping open and looked wide enough to swallow a turkey whole.
"What's the matter, Joey?" Yugi asked. He blinked as he tried to clear the spots from his vision. "That was strange," he said. "Where did that light come from?"
"Uh, Y-Yugi," said Joey in a shaky voice. "I think we've got a problem."
"What?" questioned Yugi. Joey simply pointed to the space behind his friend.
"Look!" he instructed.
Yugi turned around in his chair and in a split second his face was an exact replica of Joey's. Wedged between a floor and a ceiling that weren't large enough to accomodate it, was a snarling, red-eyed dragon.
"The Red Eyes!" Yugi exclaimed, falling backwards in his chair.
"I don't believe it!" cried Joey in shock. "We're not even using one of Kaiba's special gaming devices. His face split into a huge grin. "This is great! It's just like being in a dueling arena, but from the comfort of your own dorm!"
The black dragon growled and lifted its long, pointed head, hitting the ceiling. It opened its mouth to reveal long, jagged teeth. It looked like it was snarling in displeasure.
"Uh...Joey..." Yugi said cautiously. He tore his gaze away from the dragon to eye his friend, but something else caught his attention. There was another person standing behind Joey. The staff-wielding Dark Magician. "The Dark Magician!" Yugi gasped loudly. The young Magician was standing just a few feet away from the two players, but instead of the constantly serious expression he wore, the Dark Magician was looking around in uncertainty. He stared down at his hands, then at the duelists, as though seeing them for the first time, eyes wide with unmistakable surprise. Then the Dark Magician noticed the Red Eyes Black Dragon on the other side of the room. In an instant, the long, magical staff was in his hand and at the ready, pointed at the dragon. After a moment, though, the Magician suddenly looked confused.
"Yugi," he said in a soft, gentle voice. "I cannot act without your direction."
Yugi's eyes bulged in amazement. The Dark Magician was talking to him!
"You...you can talk!" he uttered.
"Hey, Yugi, check it out!" Joey piped up, still fascinated with the appearance of his best card. He seemed oblivious to the presence of the Dark Magician. "The Red Eyes looks almost real. Look!"
The Red Eyes snorted out a river of smoke.
"Joey," Yugi said, "I don't think this is a simulation..."
"What do you mean? What else could it be?" Joey asked. He laughed in delight and started to walk towards the hunched-up Red Eyes.
"Joey, wait!" Yugi cried.
The Red Eyes, already mad-looking at being trapped in a room that was much to small for it, now turned its attention on the two-legged figure striding boldly towards it. A vague feeling of familiarity passed through its tiny brain, but its present condition was occupying its thoughts. Stuck! Cramped! Had to get out! Had to find food! Food! Hungry! The dragon turned its blood-red eyes on the blonde human approaching it. Was it food? YES!
"Joey!" Yugi shouted. His idiot friend was still smiling, walking towards the dragon like it was an animal in a petting zoo.
"This is so cool!" he cooled. "Wait until I tell Mai about this!"
The dragon sensed that its prey had come close enough. It snorted, sending vapors of smoke shooting into the air, then pulled its head back to aim.
"JOEY!" Unable to stand by any longer, Yugi rushed towards his friend just as the dragon whipped its head forward. From the mouth of the dragon came a stream of bright orange and red flames. Yugi used all of his momentum to knock himself and his friend out of the path of the super hot fire, stumbling to a fall just a few feet away from where the fire hit. After a couple of seconds that felt like forever, the burning ceased, and Yugi and Joey raised their heads to stare incredulously at the six-foot, smoking hole in the floor, ringed with glowing bits of carpet and wood paneling. Joey looked like his eyes would fall right out.
"Yugi," he said breathlessly, "I think that's a real dragon!"
Yugi felt like rolling his eyes, but there was still a dragon in the rec room to worry about. The Red Eyes seemed extremely upset about its prey getting away. It glared furiously at the two duelists sprawled out on the carpet. Yugi met its gaze with his own purple eyes and prayed it wouldn't try to take another shot.
Although the Red Eyes still looked mad about being deprived of a potential meal, it seemed that it couldn't stand its surroundings any longer. With growls that nearly drowned out the sounds of twisting beams and metal ducts, it tried to rear up to its full height, creating a huge impression in the ceiling with its shoulders. Then, it gave up and instead threw its weight into knocking down the side wall, destroying a bookshelf and a large painting in the process. The wall bulged and cracked. Little sprays of dust from the ceiling sprinkled down into the room. The Red Eyes pulled back and then slammed all its weight into the weakening wall. With a loud BAM, the wall gave way, and the dragon looked with pleasure at the gigantic hole it had punched through the brick, and the view of the well- trimmed lawn on the other side.
"Yugi!" exclaimed Joey. "We gotta do something! It's gonna try to escape! You're the brilliant one! Think of a way to fix this mess!"
Yugi was too mesmerized by the sight of the dragon to really hear what his friend was saying. 'What do I do about a real dragon?' he thought desperately. He tried to pull an idea out of his head, but it was like trying to wade through a pool of molasses. Nothing was coming. He glanced around the damaged rec room for something, anything, that could solve this disaster. His eyes fell on the Dark Magician, who was still solid as a statue, looking back at him.
"The Dark Magician!" Yugi said. If the Dragon that was once a card had become real, with all of its magical abilities, then maybe...
The dragon had finished widening the hole it had created and was squeezing its sinewy black body through the gap, stepping into the sunny outside world.
"Yugi!" Joey cried, almost in tears at the prospect of losing it, "the dragon! We gotta stop it!"
"I know!" Yugi replied. He tried to think. Would the Dark Magician be able to stop it? Nothing was making sense right now. When he had begun his game with Joey, he hadn't expected things to turn out like this. Still, it was worth a shot. "Dark Magician!" Yugi commanded. "Stop that dragon with a Dark Magic attack!"
With a nod, the Dark Magician stretched out its hand. Although Yugi couldn't see anything, the mind-shattering clap of thunder that rang out proved that the attack was taking effect. The invisible blow hit the Red Eyes Black Dragon in the hind leg. The dragon's back end recoiled, and a deafening roar filled Yugi's ears. The Red Eyes backed up and swiveled its pointed head around to glare evilly at the Dark Magician. Yugi immediately remembered the dragon's fountain of flame just minutes earlier. It had been real--real enough to melt a six-foot hole in the floor. If the dragon used it again, on the Dark Magician...
"Dark Magician!" Yugi shouted quickly. "Knock out that Red Eyes! Dark Magic Attack!"
With swift obedience, the Dark Magician reached out again and hurled another blast of his power, aimed right at the black beast's head. The roaring monster choked on its own fire, sending torrents of it in every direction. Yugi and Joey both leaped to keep away from the deadly flames, which ignited furniture and carpet all around. Then, with a resounding THUNK that could be felt through the floor, the Red Eyes Black Dragon collapsed, unconscious. Joey and Yugi didn't waste any time celebrating.
"Quick, Joey! Get that other fire extinguisher!" The duo hastily ran around the ruined rec room, putting out the fires that the Red Eyes had started. On his way to extinguish the flaming window curtains, Joey passed the table where he and Yugi had been dueling.
"Oh, great! At least our cards are still in one piece!"
Yugi finished spraying the edges of the carpet where the fire had spread, then turned his attention to the Dark Magician, who was still staring around in wonder at his surroundings. Yugi could hardly believe it. The Dark Magician was standing right in front of him. But not as a simulation. As a real being.
"Are you...alright?" Yugi asked, feeling awkward.
The Dark Magician glanced at himself briefly, then nodded. "I seem to be," he said.
"I never knew you could talk!" Yugi said admiringly.
"Neither did I."
Yugi gazed at the figure of his favorite card made flesh and blood. Nothing like this had ever happened before. He was still trying to get over the shock. It was so incredible!
"Hey, Yugi," said Joey, distracting him. "Get this. Our cards are missing. The Red Eyes and the Dark Magician. They're not on the table any more."
"I think," Yugi said, "that they've become real. They're not cards anymore." He turned to stare at the immobile pile of black scales and ripping claws that was the Red Eyes Black Dragon. This was all so baffling. He surveyed the destruction that had been caused in the wake of the real-life duel. "Our landlady is going to kill us," Yugi sighed with a heavy sense of forboding. There was no way they could cover this up."
"Yeah, but what are we gonna do with the dragon?" Joey inquired. They had a twenty-foot, unconscious dragon on their hands. This would be hard to explain...
"Wait a minute," said Yugi, hurrying over to the table where the decks of card still lay. He searched the area quickly, looking for any trace of that scroll he'd found in the basement of his grandpa's store. He couldn't see it anywhere. "Hey, Joey," he said, "where's the..."
"Look at this," said Joey. Between his fingers was a Duel Monsters card. Yugi examined it carefully. It wasn't like any Duel Monsters Card he had ever seen before. It certainly wasn't one from his deck. It had a picture of a scroll on it, plus some Egyptian writing below.
"Is this one of yours, Joey?"
Joey shook his head, no. Yugi took the card from his friend and scanned the Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were the same inscription that had been on the scroll.
"This is strange," he commented. The Duel monsters cards turned into real Duel Monsters, and the scroll turned into a card.
"I don't get it either," admitted Joey.
"Hmm..." Yugi couldn't make heads or tails of anything going on, but at the moment they had a more severe dilemma.
"So what do we do about the dragon?"
"And the mess?"
Yugi and Joey looked at each other searchingly. The Dark Magician stood by, waiting. Yugi stacked his deck of cards and withdrew one from the pile.
"It's too bad this one didn't come to life too. It might have solved our dragon problem at least," said Yugi regretfully. He showed the card to Joey. Cloak of Invisibility. A recent addition to his deck.
"I hope it doesn't wake up any time soon..." added Joey, looking nervously at the Red Eyes.
Yugi turned to the Dark Magician. "So what do we do about you?"
"I still can't believe it!" cried Joey. "A real life Dark Magician!"
"I don't know how I got here," said the Dark Magician quietly. "But I think there is an ancient magic at work here."
"You know, Yugi," Joey commented, "I think he's right. That scroll you read did sound sort of funky."
"Maybe it is a spell," Yugi mused thoughtfully, looking at the card again. "It brought the Dark Magician and the Red Eyes Black Dragon to life. They were the only card on the field at the time."
Joey was quiet for several seconds. "It brought the cards on the field to life..." he mumbled. He went over to the table and picked up a few of his cards. He turned one over and grinned broadly. "Hah!" he crowed triumphantly.
"That's the Time Wizard," said Yugi, not understanding. Joey looked disappointed.
"Ah, c'mon, Yugi, you're the genius when it comes to Duel Monsters, right?"
Still wondering what Joey was getting at, Yugi studied the Time Wizard card, then the scroll card, then the Dark Magician.
"I think he means to use the Time Wizard to age me and transform me into the Dark Mage," offered the Dark Magician.
"That's a great idea, Joey!" Yugi cried excitedly. "I just hope it works!"
"Well, if that scroll of yours made all of the monsters on the field real, maybe it works with cards I had face down on my bench. It may not have been made into a walking, talking Duel Monster, but hey, it can't hurt to try."
"It's your card," Yugi pointed out. "Maybe you should do it."
"Okay," said Joey compliantly. "Here goes. Time Wizard! Listen up! Age the Dark Magician by a thousand years and turn him into the Dark Mage!"
There was a heavy, silent pause for a few seconds. Nothing happened. Joey began to get worried, and was about to say something, when all of a sudden the Time Wizard card began to glow in his hand. A swirling vortex of distorted space-time formed around the Dark Magician, enveloping and surrounding him. The the Time Wizard returned to its normal state, and the vortex began to dissipate. When it had disappeared, an elderly, gray- haired Dark Magician, suspended in a meditative position in the air, remained.
"It worked!" exclaimed Yugi happily.
Joey's face was plastered with a smug look, and he congratulated himself on his cool use of logic...or maybe it was luck.
"Yep, Joey has saved the day once again," he said triumphantly. "I'm just incredible."
Ignoring his friend's big-headed remarks, Yugi turned his attention to the Dark Mage.
"Please," he asked, "can you do something about the Red Eyes and this mess?"
The Dark Mage nodded once, and with ancient, wiry limbs wrapped in a loose, dark robe, stretched his staff over the scene of carnage. In the blink of an eye, the mess was all cleaned up. The furniture, carpet, and the wrecked wall were completely restored, looking as though there had never been a fire-breathing dragon in the room at all. The Red Eyes disappeared as well. Where the enormous monster had been, there was now a small, black box. Joey and Yugi hurried over to check it out. It was only four or five inches on every side. Joey picked it up and turned it over in his hands.
"Don't," came the deep, wise voice of the Dark Mage.
Joey stopped what he was doing and looked at the Mage questioningly. "What? What's the matter?"
"That box holds the legendary Red Eyes Black Dragon," responded the Dark Mage.
"What?!" Joey accidentally let the black box slip through his fingers. Luckily, Yugi caught it before it hit the ground and handled it gently.
"This box has the Red Eyes in it?" he wondered.
"Yes," replied the Mage. "It will hold it...for now."
"Here," said Yugi, carefully placing the box containing the dragon in Joey's hands. "You'd better keep an eye on this."
"'For now'?" asked Joey uncertainly, repeating the Dark Mage. He looked at the little container in the palm of his hand. "What happens if the dragon gets out again?" he asked fearfully, a grim expression on his face.
"Don't worry," said Yugi with a smile. "You're the incredible Joey, remember? If anything happens, I'm sure you'll be able to take care of it."
Joey wasn't sure if Yugi was kidding or not. As Yugi went to rejoin the Dark Mage, he called out, "And you'll help me, right? Buddy?"
As Yugi returned to the Dark Mage, the Time Wizard's spell wore off, and within seconds he was restored to the youthful form of the Dark Magician.
"Thanks," said Yugi gratefully. The Dark Magician, uncomfortable, was silent in response. He looked at the deck of Yugi's cards on the table. Yugi, unaware of the troubled expression on the Dark Magician's face, said, "This is so great! I can't believe you're here! I never thought anything like this could ever happen. I mean, I never thought of you as just a card, but back then you were just a simulation! A computer program! This is just awesome!"
"Hey, Yugi," interrupted Joey as he crossed the room to join them, "just what are we gonna do with this guy here? We don't know how to turn him back to a card, and we can't just hang around here all night."
"You're right," Yugi agreed. He turned to the Dark Magician. "You can come with me upstairs to my apartment." He took a second glance at the Dark Magician's strange attire. "We'll just have to hope that we can get you up there without too much of a commotion. But if anybody asks, we just got back from a costume party. Joey," he added, addressing his friend who was still nervously cradling the small, black box, "take care of that Red Eyes. Come on, uh, Dark Magician!"
The strange duo left Joey downstairs and made their way up the few staircases to Yugi's apartment, a moderate and more-or-less tidy place on the fourth floor. Luckily, they didn't encounter anyone on the way, although they had to duck down a side hall and wait for a cleaning lady to pass. When they finally reached Yugi's door, the Dark Magician stood there uncertainly, staff still in hand. He was still completely baffled at the mystical transformation that had raised him up from his previous existence as a card. There wasn't much of a difference--as a game simulation created from a card he had sight and hearing, as well as a sense of smell, touch...But they'd never meant anything before. They were only elements of a game. Computer-generated sensations. But now he could see things that were strange and completely foreign--things that he'd never seen outside of a dueling arena. The sounds and smells were strange too, some pleasant, some not. And they all felt totally unfamiliar.
Yugi unlocked the door and opened it, picking up the mail as he entered. The Dark Magician instinctively followed him in, like a soldier following a general. After all, that's what the young man Yugi was to him-- a leader in battle. But now that the Dark Magician had been taken out of the battlefield, the only place that was familiar, he felt alone and insecure.
Yugi flipped on the lights and closed the door. He set his deck of Duel Monsters cards down on the coffee table in front of the sofa
"Uh...make yourself at home," he offered, gesturing to the Dark Magician to sit down. After a minute, the violet-clad Magician did as he was bid, taking a seat on the sofa, somewhat awkwardly. He kept a firm grip on his staff, however, not willing to part with it for any reason. It was his sole source of comfort at the moment. Being in the presence of his master in the living was still unsettling.
"Um...just...uh, wait there for a minute," said Yugi, eyes darting as though he expected to Dark Magician to fly away like a bird at any moment. "I have to go make a phone call! I just have to tell someone about this! Maybe Kaiba! Oh, yes! And Teia and Tristan also! Hold on. I'll be right back." He hurriedly walked into another room beyond the kitchen and disappeared from view. The Dark Magician watched his receding back, feeling the oppressively quiet solitude closing in on him once more. More than anything he wished to be back in the companionship of his fellow cards. With that thought still fresh in his mind, he gazed down at the neat stack of Duel Monsters cards lying down on the coffee table's transparent glass. He tentatively extended slender, delicate fingers towards it and felt the smooth card surface, which was fairly worn with use. Was this what he used to be? A simple piece of thick paper printed and stamped with writing and illustrations? The thought was somewhat disturbing.
The Dark Magician picked up the card on top of the stack. It was the Celtic Guardian. A serious-looking warrior armed with a helmet and sword, long pointed ears sticking out of his head. The Dark Magician felt a deep kinship with the card. He could recall what it felt like to be one of this deck--the feeling of companionship. In a way, even when he wasn't joined with his fellow card on the field, he felt like he was always with them. They were his friends. His family. And now, to be so surprisingly separated from them was heartbreaking. He was lost in the world of the unknown. With no idea of where he was or how to get back. Would he ever regain the intimate relationship he'd shared with his fellow cards? He flipped through the deck some more, gazing nostalgically at his familiar friends. Gaea the Fierce Knight. Summoned Skull. Mystical Elf. Winged Guardian of the Fortress. Karibo.
The Dark Magican slowly turned over the cards, one by one. He stopped suddenly when he came upon the Dark Magician Girl. The heartache and loneliness he felt before were nothing now, compared to this new emotion. As magical forces in an ancient Egyptian game of power that took place millennia ago, and even as cards in a deck, they had a deep past. Out of all the Duel Monsters, she was closest to him. His cheerful, smiling apprentice. No, she was more than that. She was his eternal companion. His...love. Would he never see her again?
The Dark Magician was startled to feel a hot drop of something watery running down his cheek. Bewildered, he brushed it off and looked at the glistening dampness on his fingers. A tear? He'd never felt a tear before. He hadn't been capable of it as a card.
'What is happening to me?' he wondered. Again, he felt a start. 'As a card I would never have asked that question...' he realized. He looked again at the pretty figure of the Dark Magician Girl, the soul mate he might never see again. When that realization hit him, the Dark Magician felt a heavy darkness descending on his heart. Would he ever be able to see her again? Ever see any of his friends again? He was trapped in the alien world of the living, among mortals and nonmagical folk. With a longing heart, the Dark Magician brushed his lips againt the Dark Magician Girl's card in a soft kiss. 'For as long as I can remember, I have wanted nothing. I was not capable of desire,' he said in his mind. 'But things are different now. I'm a being of flesh and blood, thinking in ways I never even imagined. But it's all empty. I would throw it all away, because...I want nothing more than to be with you,' he thought, holding the card close to his heart.
The sounds of approaching footsteps distracted the Dark Magician, pulling him out of his lonely thoughts. He looked up to see Yugi emerging from the room behind the kitchen, face bright and excited.
"I told my friends about what happened," Yugi explained. "They're coming right over. This is just so amazing! There's so much I can show you! I could take you to dueling tournaments all over the country! Scientists all over the world will want to see you, not to mention duelists and historians and all sorts of other people." He halted his long, excited speech and waited for a reaction from the Dark Magician. Then he noticed the wet tract the tear had made on the Dark Magician's face, and his features melted into those of concern. "What's the matter?" he asked.
The Dark Magician wasn't sure how to respond. His nature had always been one of loyalty and obedience. Now he was afraid that what he was about to say might go against the wishes of the one he served so faithfully. But then again, wasn't he a real person now? With real feelings and emotions? Didn't what he wanted count? Trying to summon his nerves, the Dark Magician rose.
"Yugi," he said finally, in a soft, gentle tone, "I was never meant to be real. Not like this. All of the things you speak of would be wonderful, but they go against my very nature." He lowered his gaze. "Please understand. I want to go back to the way I was. The way I was meant to be."
Yugi stood there, motionless, for several seconds, wide-eyed. After a moment's thought, his expression softened into a friendly face. "I understand," he said with a nod. "You just want to be yourself." His gaze fell on the Dark Magician Girl's card in the other's hand, and suddenly he understood. "You miss her, don't you?"
The Dark Magician was silent in response, but Yugi could tell just by the look in his eyes.
"Alright. We'll find some way to turn you back into a card. Although...I'm not quite sure how."
"Perhaps the key lies with the scroll that started this whole thing."
"Yeah, maybe," answered Yugi. He pulled the scroll card out of his pocket and studied it. It looked like a replica of the scroll, only on a Duel Monsters card. "I never did get to finish reading it," he murmured contemplatively. Narrowing his eyes, he focused on the hieroglyphics and began to read them. "The Beast shall reawaken and rise from the dust, and disaster will once again be unleashed in the flesh." He looked up at the Dark Magician and thought of the Red Eyes Black Dragon. "Well, that's already happened," he said dryly. He continued. "Yet what has been summoned can be reversed when the spell is broken."
Yugi went back and reread the words on the card. "What has been summoned can be reversed when the spell is broken. That's what we need to figure out," he concluded. "How to break the spell."
"Is there anything else?" inquired the Dark Magician.
"No," said Yugi, discouraged. "That's all." He looked at the card, wishing for an answer to come to him. "I don't understand..." he said in a low voice.
"Neither do I," echoed the Dark Magician.
Three hours later, Yugi rubbed his eyes tiredly and tried to concentrate on his search. He'd spent the whole evening trying to find a solution to his problem, trying to break the cryptic spell on the Dark Magician. He'd read the card at least a hundred times, but the words never inspired anything that could be of any use to him. Next he'd pored over every volume on ancient Egyptian legend and history that he possessed, looking for answers. Now, on his twelfth volume, the quest was still fruitless. The Dark Magician was standing by the window, a little ways away, gazing out over the city lights. What he was thinking, Yugi had no clue.
The duelist stifled a yawn and stretched out his arms. Lightly tossing the old book he was reading aside, he picked up another one off the shelf and settled down on the floor to read. He pried open the cover and turned the introductory page. He accidentally tugged on the page, and a hairline tear formed on the edge, like a little, crooked bolt of lightning. Yugi suddenly had a vision. He wasn't sure if all of his searching had finally paid off, or if his bleary-eyed, tired state had allowed him to see the obvious.
"That's it!" he cried, no longer sleepy. The Dark Magician turned from the window and looked at his master curiously.
"Did you find something?" he asked.
"Well, sort of," Yugi replied. "It's so simple that it never even occured to me before. He picked himself up off the floor and retrieved the scroll card off of the coffee table. The Dark Magician watched him silently. "What has been summoned can be reversed when the spell is broken," said Yugi. He chuckled a little. "It's almost like a riddle," he continued. "It's meant literally. When the spell is broken, things will go back to the way they were."
"I still don't understand," said the Dark Magician.
Yugi held up the card. "We have to break the spell. This card is the spell. So if we break it..."
"But what if you are wrong?" asked the Dark Magician. "Then you will be destroying the only key we have to this mystery."
"Maybe," replied Yugi. "But I have faith that this is the right thing to do." He looked at the Dark Magician with the innocently sincere expression that so characterized his nature. "Please believe in me."
After studying Yugi's face for a moment, the Dark Magician let his eyes fall on the precious Duel Monster card he still held in his hand and allowed himself a small, rare smile. "I believe in you," he answered, meeting Yugi's gaze. "My life is in your hands."
Happy with the trust his friend showed for him, Yugi smiled and took the scroll card in his hands. With one quick, sudden movement, he tore the paper in two. Immediately afterwards, the same blast of light that had come at the beginning returned, pouring into every crack and corner of the room. Yugi had to shield his eyes from being blinded. He lost view of the Dark Magician. A sound like the thunderous firing of cannons filled the air, and a tremor rippled through the floor. But, as quickly as it had come, the noise and light faded, then were gone. Yugi opened his eyes and blinked away the purplish-black blotches that were crowding his vision. He looked at the spot where the Dark Magician had stood only moments ago. The Magician was gone. On the floor in his place, was a single Duel Monsters card. Yugi crossed the floor and picked it up. The Dark Magician was framed in the picture, arms wrapped around his pretty, smiling apprentice. Yugi thought he saw a hint of gratitude in the Dark Magician's smile. Yugi couldn't help but grin himself at seeing his friend's wish granted.
A sudden banging on his door snapped Yugi out of his pleasant thoughts. Card in hand, he rushed to the door to answer it. Half a second later, a surprised-looking Joey stumbled in, waving something in his hand.
"Yugi!" he said, nearly in a shout, "look!" He showed the item in his hand to his friend. It was the Red Eyes Black Dragon, back in its original state. Somehow, it looked much less intimidating as a card just a few inches long. "Say, what happened to the Dark Magician?" Joey asked, looking around as though expecting the Dark Magician to be hiding somewhere.
"He's gone home, just like your dragon," Yugi replied, showing Joey his new card. "Back to reality."
Joey stared at the card for a minute. "Ohhhh," he said. Then he tripped over his next words. "I dunno what's going on or how this whole mess got fixed, but it seems like everything's back to normal, and I don't want to hurt my head by asking for details."
Yugi smiled agreeably. "Sounds fine to me. Say, how about a game of Duel Monsters?"