Hey! Look! An update! Time for the happy dance!
Sylvia – Thanks for the long reviews. I miss when you had the time to do this for everything. Still, it makes me happy to go back and read what you've said about things. hugs best beta-reader ever
Amber – Can ya believe I finally updated? I'm still in shock myself, actually. I had skipped ahead a bit but decided that it made the story move too fast and suck too bad, so I had to rewrite. If you wanna read the cut stuff I can send it your way, but it's fast and sloppy. Not my cup o' tea, if you know what I mean. Hope you enjoy.And look, I broke free of the two chapter curse of the PegsxKai fic! =)
noone – Thankies! Sorry it took so long to update. O.o;
SW – This is the second story I've updated in one day too. I think I may keel over afterwards, but at least I'm not being negligent anymore right now. Hehehe… I know its been done before but hey, its hard to find time for PegsxSeto to actually have begun. I do intend to take this all the way through DOOM as well, so it could take a while. Hopefully I won't be writing at this lazy-ass speed the whole time. ;-)
Rosalyn Angel – Wow, you liked it so much you died? That's a little counter-productive, isn't it? Glad you thought it was all IC too. Thanks for reading, just don't nearly die every time.
SweetCandie – Ack, going through just now I relized I need to email you! Yes, you can put stuff on my website. Tell you what, just email me at the addy on my main page and I'll get back to you. I'm terrible unless I have a message in my inbox.
Leland Lancaster – Thanks! Lovely Pegasusness is always a good thing!
Ruler-of-Da-World – I'm glad you're enjoying it so much. I think I pretty much screwed up the "hurry up" part but hopefully it's still just as good. Thanks for reviewing!
It didn't take long to find his way back to the guards, their low voices nothing compared to the resonance of their collective thoughts as they loitered about awaiting his return. The Millennium Eye zeroed in on them like a dog on meat, leading its master with as much enthusiasm. It was unused to so much excitement, obviously the repeated taking of souls upped the level of power, and it took a great deal of control for Pegasus to hold it back from latching upon the minds of his servants, sucking their souls as eagerly as it had sucked Kaiba's. Something was terribly off about the whole situation, but Pegasus couldn't think of any other way to keep the Kaiba brothers at bay long enough for his plan to work. Mokuba had proven to be as much of an escape artist as his brother, and with the two boys together Pegasus would have a hard time keeping them from teaming up against him without employing drastic measures. He sent soothing feelings to the Eye, which seemed to lose interest for the moment in capturing more souls, instead contenting itself with reading the thoughts of its prey.
::Jeeze, I thought the kid was creepy, but that Crawford is even worse up close. He should join the circus or something. Nothing but crazy kids running around the island and a kid in command too!::
::I'm sure glad I get paid so much for this, but is the boss ever coming back? I've gotta piss like a racehorse …::
::Shouldn't have wasted all my loose change on that boy in the cell. I hope the drink machine takes bills.::
Randomness as usual. As intriguing as some might think the power to read minds could be, there was no end to the downright idiotic thoughts that flowed like a constant electric current through the average mind. The only person Pegasus had ever met who surpassed that theory was Sha'di, and from the feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach every time the strange flat-eyed boy approached, Pegasus was none too sure the turbaned Egyptian was completely alive. It was enough to make the skin crawl.
He approached his men with a flourish, the mechanized secret door lifting to reveal them lazing about by the torchlight. All eyes turned to him as he spoke, "You may return to your posts, but no more games. I will not have my prisoner tormented."
"Yes sir, Mr. Crawford sir!"
Pegasus nodded, brushing past the trio easily. It disturbed him that such antics could be performed without his knowledge. Perhaps he should expand his telepathic range. It was true the Millennium Eye significantly boosted his natural enhancements, but already the golden orb was becoming unruly. Thoughts had sprung up in Pegasus' own mind that were truly detestable – capturing Yugi Muto's own soul for example and keeping the collection for himself. Inwardly he shrank from the thought. He'd discovered how to capture souls through sheer accident, his anger at a certain irritable servant finally exploding in a flash of ancient life. Pegasus had been working on a new card, the blank cardboard laid out at his side that he might note the contrasts of color against the muted tones of his subject. The whole thing had happened so fast, and suddenly the card appeared as though printed, the face of the irritable housekeeper staring out in helpless shock. He'd released the boy swiftly, explaining away the situation with as much tact as he could muster.
Snatching souls always made him tremble.
He passed guard after guard before emerging at last in the open air. Pink and white roses sprawled abundantly over the varied trellises and masonry, the scene made picturesque by the koi pond at its center, the sweet perfume of night-blooming jasmine greeting his senses. The whole ordeal was giving him a splitting migraine. During the course of his visit the moon had risen full as a silver dollar over the sparkling sea. The sky was cloudless, velvet blue inset with glittering stars. He allowed a few moments to simply breathe, listening to the familiar quietude of the island. A low horn sounded, signaling the departure of the mainland staff via ferry. Pegasus framed a white rose between his fingers, breathing in the heady aroma. It was difficult to believe that so many people were continuously suffering when such beauty existed in the world.
He stiffened slightly as the Eye reacted, sending a brief signal. Someone was approaching, and in an instant Pegasus had reached out with his mind, relaxing as the intruder was identified. "I thought I told you to see to our guests."
Pegasus paused in his musings, turning to the familiar voice reluctantly. "I don't seem to recall arranging for Yugi Muto to be given free reign here, do you?"
Croquet, ever lacking in humor, remained impassive. Pegasus sighed, plucking a few dead blossoms from the plant, letting the dried useless husks fall. He had sensed fear all over the island mingled with, something Pegasus himself found difficult to accept – doubt. It wasn't a doubt concerning his sanity – that was something Pegasus had long ago grown accustomed to as a foreigner attempting to create and flourish in Japan. Neither was it a doubt concerning a justification for the many underhanded tactics being taken during his tournament, as most of the men and women Pegasus employed were more interested in their paychecks than the well-being of any outsider. Though he felt these doubts emanating from Croquet with increasing frequency, it was the doubt that success could be achieved which nagged at his heart. Pegasus had tested Yugi Muto's skill using a simple dark game and had come away with a scant win. He'd almost lost, and had Yugi been free of the time limit Pegasus had no illusions about the outcome of their duel. This knowledge, instead of proving the boy to be a novice duelist with a bit of luck on his side, had instead revealed a multitude of unexpected obstacles. "Croquet, what is your expert opinion concerning young Mr. Muto?"
The bodyguard arced an eyebrow, and Pegasus had to stifle a laugh. It was always such fun catching the older man off guard. "Sir?"
"Yes, I suppose it must be shaping gel he uses, but then again he'd have to be terribly determined to pick each color and separately gel it."
Croquet would undoubtedly seek for the safest response, but Pegasus had no need to content himself with carefully chosen words meant to placate. Invoking the powers of his left eye, the full array of observations were laid bare before him. Croquet was an expert at many things, but one of the gifts his employer valued most highly was his keen observational talent and the ability to derive hundreds of conclusions from the barest of facts. Pegasus had little experience in deductive crime solving, but Croquet had been schooled by some of the most outstanding figures in the field.
"I'd say his affinity for hair color has driven him to extremes, sir, and that people driven to extremes will exhibit erratic behavior."
"You say that, yes, but you have no proof he dyes his hair. No, Croquet, I have a feeling that his appearance is perfectly natural and furthermore – don't laugh – that it has something to do with that golden trinket he carries so devotedly. Surely you've noticed the Sennen Eye has been behaving rather … oddly."
"I have, sir. A few of the less trustworthy of our staff have begun asking questions. Those we could spare have been fired accordingly, of course." The bodyguard's face had become grave once more, but his loyalty outweighed the desire to make his complaints heard. Pegasus had already argued with him once this evening, and it would be unwise to further provoke an already unstable man. "What are you getting at, sir?"
"Do you remember the tablet, Croquet?"
"There have been many tablets, sir. You're an archeologist."
Pegasus rolled his eye dramatically. "No no no … the large one, the one with the God Cards."
At the phrase Croquet became very still. He remembered the arguments he'd had with his employer at that time too, and Pegasus' insistence upon working on the cards himself despite the curious events surrounding their existence. The cards had been painted lovingly, then printed quickly, the original canvases burned, the cards themselves taken to Egypt somewhere. "The one surrounded by mysterious deaths, sir?"
"Yes that one. Yugi-boy has something to do with the tablet, I believe."
Croquet frowned. "It's thousands of years old, sir. I doubt Yugi Muto could have any involvement."
Pegasus sighed, plucking absently at a dew-moistened leaf. "You're right, of course. How silly of me." Croquet was not one to buy into the idea of reincarnation or any of the Ancient Egyptian magic surrounding the mystery of the Sennen Items. He only acknowledged the power of the Sennen Eye because Pegasus had displayed its vast powers many times. But Yugi Muto … his resemblance to the image of a long-dead pharaoh carved in stone had occurred to him, but the laws had already been set in place for their game. He hadn't been certain the physical resemblance was significant or if he were only imagining it – now he would have to prepare himself. Though he'd waited seven long years for the possibility of putting his plan into action, Pegasus cursed his own rashness – had he investigated the boy, and most importantly the boy's appearance in conjunction with the Sennen Puzzle, he might have had some warning.
"I hope you intend to carry out my orders at some point this evening, Croquet. Yugi Muto won't guard himself, you know, and I want him kept under close observation. I don't trust that boy." He thought of Seto Kaiba, mournful and blank, locked away in the quietude of his own thoughts, his soul sealed away. Surely if he could take on Kaiba and win there would be no problem challenging Yugi. The image of the forbidden tablet burned in his memory, no longer focused so much on the God Cards, but upon the figures beneath engaged in an eternal struggle. "Fetch me the video taken of the God Card tablet. Have it sent up to my chambers."
"Sir, if I may ask …"
"No you may not, now get moving before I whip up something unpleasant to teach you better manners."
Croquet tightened his jaw but nodded, stalking away like an angry Doberman. He had a bad feeling, and he couldn't help but notice that it got worse every time Yugi Muto was mentioned. It was just like the God Cards, except this time Croquet knew he didn't stand a chance of warning his master away from his crazy plan. He decided to have a few guards placed at strategic points throughout the castle and the surrounding grounds. If something went down there would be ample security to contain the mess and hopefully avert disaster. Still, it was as effective as casting pebbles into the sea. If anything like the power of the weird Eye was involved, the tight security would mean nothing.
Pegasus closed his eye and counted backward from ten slowly, regulating his breathing and willing the eye to remain calm and Croquet retreated. It wouldn't do to lose control as he had done upon defeating Seto Kaiba and especially not if his suspicions turned out to be justified. He held the image of Kaiba in his mind, the boy's blank eyes as a soulless shell not as satisfying as the fury expressed as he'd stood, demanding answers though his body was weakened, making threats without possibility of ever carrying them out. Though he tended to behave like a stubborn child, Seto Kaiba was certainly fiery enough to distract the mind. The Eye was gradually soothed by the memory of Kaiba helplessly held in an unwilling embrace, and soon Pegasus was able to relax his control and allow his thoughts to return to the issue at hand. If Yugi Muto was really … if he and Seto Kaiba were destined in such a way, could the outcome ever be in his favor? His bitter smile was obscured by his cascading silver hair as he thought of the fury in those endless blue depths. If Yugi Muto proved undefeatable and Seto Kaiba was released, the vengeance would be swift and terrible. It was like having a tiger by the tail, and Pegasus had no idea how long he could avoid the inevitable jaws.
He turned, cupping a large mauve rose, the moonlight catching in the sprinkled dew upon the petals as the heady scent wafted toward him. Yugi Muto knew nothing, and Seto Kaiba was just a petty child. Surely he was overreacting, neither of them were ultimately of any importance. Wouldn't Ishizu have warned him if the Pharaoh himself were approaching? Wouldn't the turbaned boy with empty eyes be present as well, determined to pay homage to the one he so eagerly served? But more importantly, wouldn't the Eye have reacted to the presence of a living god? There was nothing in the tablets he'd translated or the cravings he'd studied to indicate that the items acted any differently around the Pharaoh, but it would surely make sense for their powers to be diminished in his presence, and the truth was that the Eye had suffered no setbacks. Pegasus had been able to read Yugi Muto's mind as easily as any other.
Slowly he began to make his way through the gardens and back toward the sanctuary of his castle. He would spend the night studying those tapes and solving nothing. For all intents and purposes, Yugi Muto was a cookie-cutter image of the legendary Pharaoh down to the spiked hair and the glittering Sennen Puzzle on his chest; but other things must first be present. The Black Magician, for example – but Pegasus couldn't work around that prospect either. He'd watched every duel Yugi Muto had performed in since the boy's arrival. There was no way he could miss the presence of that tell-tale monster. But aside from that, the Dark Magician had appeared at the hour of its master's need, revealing itself during their duel without Yugi-boy even having to look. He'd known the monster he'd drawn and set even before he'd flipped it. Was it dumb luck, or could the appearance of the Dark Magician be significant?
The walk back to his chamber was long, yet he still hadn't sorted through events to his satisfaction by the time he'd mounted the stone stairs and stood in his expansive rooms. A terry cloth robe had been laid out alongside a bottle of wine and chilled strawberries, but it was the carefully labeled tape which interested him the most. It was dated last year, but time meant little to the silver-haired man who inserted the vhs tape, munching a strawberry as he reviewed the film. The footage had been kindly forwarded to the key moment where the God Card tablet had been discovered, but it didn't take long to see what was necessary. He paused the tape, moving toward the plasma screen as though he'd never seen it before, the realization dawning as he stared at the carved images of Pharaoh and High Priest. "So, this is my opponent. I never dreamed it would turn out this way."
He reached forward, brushing the zoomed face of the priest. "And you I never would have expected. I should have seen it far sooner – quite foolish of me." It occurred to him that Kaiba had not made the connection, nor had he even an inkling of the underlying animosity between him and his rival. "All this time you coveted the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and I never noticed this similarity." Pegasus chuckled a little at his own foolishness. The God Cards had that effect on people, catching them up in a spiraling obsession, and certainly Pegasus had been no exception. He wondered idly what might have happened had Seto Kaiba and Yugi Muto been given the Gods, if they would have been able to control the ancient power that at once tempted and terrified their modern creator. "Did you know, Ishizu, when I delivered to you the Gods that the Pharaoh himself would soon be here on my island?"
Pegasus smirked, his curiosity overtaking him and he sweept his luxurious silver hair back from his face, reaching out with the Sennen Eye to touch the mind of Yugi Muto once more. There was a terrible dream ongoing as three souls called desperately for help. They were in pain, terrified…
He cut off the link quickly. It was just a trick, sealing them into cards. No harm no foul, and certainly the souls were safe. He'd looked at them only a few moments ago and nothing was amiss. How could they be in any pain? Of course, Yugi Muto was afraid for his grandfather and felt responsible for the Kaiba brothers as well. Of course he would think they were in pain – it would make his duel all the more important. Pegasus switched off the television, popping out the vhs tape and leaving it on the desk for his servants to collect and file once again. Sleep was what he needed, not agitation. The more he read into the minds of others the more paranoid he became. If he undermined his own abilities before the duel even started, all would have been for nothing. Though he drained the entire bottle of wine the little sleep that came was fitful and unsatisfying.