Notes: This is my special fantasy type fic that I've been wanting to write for some time The YGO characters aren't mine, the story is, and this is sibling cuteness! o Oh! And I've used the Geates talisman/Fafnir thing before in a different fandom (though that story was much different), so I don't need anyone telling me I've ripped someone off because I'm the one who created those elements XD This may start a bit confusing, but bear with me and please don't complain X3 I'll explain more as each chapter unfolds! I apologize for the removal of the songs, but the new policy has forced me to remove them.
The young teenager struggled as the guards dragged him down the endless hallway littered with strange carvings and paintings of ancient peoples and pagan gods. The dim lights from the hanging torches above his head cast strange shadows that danced across the walls, morphing the normal humans into demonic chimeras and ghouls that seemed to be laying in wait for the kill. The youth's own shadow elbowed one of the ghoulish creatures and then was slapped harshly across the face.
"Thy struggles avail thee nothing!" the man belonging to the unearthly shadow cried with a sickening grin that showed all of his unkempt teeth. He chose to speak in the "Olde English," though none of the others in his party did. "Thou art being taken to our great ruler. He shall decide what is to become of thee!" His fingers dug into the teen's exposed arm sharply, leaving several angry red marks in the tan flesh. "Thy crimes shall be punished!"
The boy, already weary and badly hurt from everything else he had just come through, barely noticed the extra pain. But he hadn't committed crimes. There was nothing for him to be punished for.
He still displayed the wounds on his chest and shoulder from his swordfight with Apolla, as well as the harsh bumps and bruises all over his body from his fall down the ravine in the land of Juno. His blonde hair, which often seemed to take on a life of its own, now fell about his shoulders, and the long bangs brushed against his lavender eyes, defying all logic by standing up and sticking out as much as they had always done.
His eyes, half-hidden behind the soft locks, were filled with many emotions. Though he was weary and injured—both physically and mentally—he remained strong. Unbroken. Defiant. His quest in this unfamiliar world was to find his loved ones, whether they were dead or whether they were yet living. And though the odds had been against him from the start, his eyes still shined with the determination and fierceness his spirit had always been possessed of. This one was not easily broken, though many had tried. He had come through the darkest of trials . . . the blackest confusion. . . . He had fought against the vilest of souls. The scars under his eyes and the unwanted tattoos covering his back testified of the unrighteous traditions he had once been forced to uphold against his will. The golden jewelry, black leather, and lavender hooded shirt showed his defiance of those traditions and his desire to start something different for his family and future descendants.
Now he met the taunting gaze of his captor, ready to go up against whatever was put in front of him. "Very well then." His voice, unique in its tone and pitch, betrayed none of the weariness he felt inwardly. "I will speak with this ruler of yours. But do not mistake my acceptance of this to be submission. I will never submit to you."
Had he ever willingly submitted to anyone? He thought not. This beautiful soul, often hidden behind a mask of alternating defiance and dancing smiles when he felt lost or sad, was as deep and independent as the flowing waters. At times he felt as free as a passing breeze. And sometimes, as trapped as a creature caught in a jar by a mischievous child.
"You hear that, mates? He won't be submitting to us."
Laughter rang out through the dark walls as the squint-eyed, burly man who seemed to be second-in-command of the scraggly group of guards—and head tormentor—took control of restraining the boy and promptly threw him to the stone floor. A whip cracked over his injured back as his shirt was wrestled off of him. Again and again it struck him, and he bore it with all of his strength, refusing to scream or cry out though this new, insistent pain was overwhelming, especially when he was hit over an already existing wound.
"I'll tell thee something, boy," the assailant said as he drew his arm back for another strike. "Our king doesn't take kindly to defiant gnats. Once he sets his eyes upon thee, I swear by the blood of everyone in the room that he will take thy life himself. Thou wilt never be free again in this realm!"
In the split second it took for him to bring his arm down, the teen had rolled over and snatched the weapon in his bare hands, pulling on it with all his might. Blood dripped down his back and over his arms, splashing red on the stones underneath him, but he paid it no heed.
What made one truly free? It was something he had pondered upon much in his young life. He still had no concrete answers. Perhaps, he reflected, it is an individual matter. And what made him free was being true to himself and those around him.
Again he was hauled to his feet and restrained as the party approached a massive staircase made of marble and limestone. Apparently his captors didn't care about the blood that was staining their clothes or their hands as they gripped their prisoner tightly against them. But then, they had been harming and murdering for so many years that it probably didn't bother them anymore. They would see the blood as a sort of morbid trophy of their achievements—if killing could be seen as an achievement. And with their barbaric nature, the blonde-haired, tan-skinned boy didn't doubt it for one minute that they would see it that way.
"We ascend the stairs now," the one in the lead cried, raising his sword above him. "Our wise and great ruler is at the top!" He brought the weapon down to his eye level, licking a long stream of blood from off its metal.
The teen's lip curled in disgust as he watched this. He himself had known some who took pleasure from such things, but it never ceased to disturb his heart and soul. What if whoever had harmed his precious siblings had gleefully drunk their blood from off the long sword before stabbing it into the torn pieces of their cloaks and leaving those there for him to find later?
It had been so horrible. . . . To come home and not find either of them—only their ripped and bloodied capes. He remembered the feelings of despair that had come over him . . . falling to his knees and gingerly lifting the tattered cloth . . . sobbing into it, not knowing what had happened. Not knowing if they were alive. Not knowing who would be so cruel, so wicked as to harm them. . . . And then for Shadi to appear and tell him that he must journey to this other dimension to find the ones he loved so much. . . .
"They are still alive," the enigmatic Egyptian had said, "and following along the trail of those that have taken them is the only way to get them back."
"But why the devil were they taken!" the boy had screamed in confusion. "What did those barbarians want with them!"
"I cannot tell you," Shadi had replied. "You must uncover these secrets yourself."
And so Shadi had sent him to this realm, where for endless days now he had struggled with pain-filled hardships and emotional agony, unable to find any clues to his siblings' whereabouts. The only information he had picked up in his travels was that this strange land was slowly being taken over by a demented man named Fafnir, but he hadn't seen how that could have any relevance to his problems. All this man wanted was a strange talisman crafted by his nemesis Geates many centuries before. And many in this world didn't believe Fafnir was truly the one behind it all, because of the man's clever scheming and manipulating of the people. But this boy knew otherwise. He had fought against many of Fafnir's minions since first arriving, and now he had been taken prisoner by these guards after falling down a steep ravine courtesy of one of this Fafnir's dragons. Perhaps, the boy worried now, for some reason Fafnir was relevant to his problem. Maybe the cruel man had targeted him and his siblings for his plot. If that were so, there was nothing that would keep this youth from stopping him!
He truly could barely walk, but he was still forced to do so. The stairs he was climbing now were endless. They spiraled around in such a way that every time a corner was reached it was thought to be the exit, though it actually was not. Footsteps echoed loudly on the marble stones, resounding about the room as if they would never fade. And with every step the boy felt more and more weak as the pain from his wounded legs grew more intense and overwhelming. Several times his poor limbs gave out and he collapsed, receiving a harsh beating every time it happened, and sometimes a kicking as well before being pulled up again.
"Not very good at balancing, are you?" A foot pressed the youth down the next time he fell. "Maybe you should just stay like this. Of course, it's making a very bad fashion statement on the carpet," the guard added with a smirk, looking at the blood dripping onto the woven rug that covered twelve of the numberless stairs.
The boy reached up and wrapped his hands around the ankle, shoving the person back enough so that he could get free. "I'll go on without any of you," he hissed. "Gladly I will!" Swaying, he got back up and pushed past them all, ignoring the terrible dizziness he instantly felt.
Now that he had come this far, he felt all the more drawn to meet this king, as he had been ever since he had begun this quest all on his own, without any allies. For some reason, he knew he could not leave without seeing the man, whoever he was. This puzzled him immensely, but when he was on a quest of such importance and magnitude, he knew he couldn't ignore such a feeling.
Two people seized him on either side, their menacing forms casting grisly shadows on the walls. "I don't think so," said one. "You are still our captive. You will not escape!" He produced a knife and pressed it against the small part of the teen's throat that was exposed above the golden choker. The boy tensed as he felt the cold metal touch his flesh, but still he refused to back down.
"Defiant child, aren't you," the guard grinned, putting the weapon away.
The remaining stairs seemed just as long as the ones before. By the time the top had been reached, the weary teenager was ready to collapse again. He always pushed himself to the limit without admitting it, and now was no exception, though this time he could not help the way he had been overexerted.
He could hear heavy doors being opened nearby, but this new level was as dark as midnight and he could not determine where the sound was coming from. The echo was so great that it seemed any and every direction could be the correct one.
His captors seemed to know the proper direction, however, and soon he found himself being thrown meanly in onto a hard floor, his bare back still bleeding. Many of his wounds were jarred as he hit the marble, but he refused to cry out. The tiles underneath him sparkled in the glow of the mounted torches on the walls, and when he looked into them, he saw scenes from other parts of the kingdom. Intense battles . . . passionate romances . . . strange creatures that didn't exist in the normal world. . . . All of this provided momentary fascination, but the boy was soon distracted from it.
"Who is entering this throne room unannounced!" a deep voice boomed. The sound reverberated across the walls unmistakably and the youth froze, certain he was becoming ill and hearing things that weren't there. That voice. . . . He had never heard that particular tone before, but he knew the voice! Never could he forget that voice! The voice belonging to one who had always been close by him . . . one who had always watched over and protected him. . . . One who had always loved him as a dear brother. One for whom he had been searching so long. It was he! There was no question in his mind. It was his brother!
Before he had a chance to get up and run forward, or even to cry out his loved one's name, he was again pinned to the floor by the lead guard's foot.
"Forgive us, O great lord Odion," the man purred, "but once you have seen who we have brought to you, I am certain you will understand. We have . . . disciplined him severely for his crimes and know that you will be pleased." He bowed low and his amulet knocked the teen on the forehead.
Ignoring it, the boy struggled to throw his assailant back once more, screaming his brother's name frantically. "Rishid! RISHID!" Was it possible! Was it conceivable that . . . Rishid had survived and now was king over this land of Juno? That was impossible!
So many emotions were coursing through the confused teenager's veins. Shock . . . disbelief . . . joy. . . . He wanted to reach out and grab his brother's hand. He wanted to embrace Rishid and hold him close to his heart. It seemed ages since he had done so. Ages since he had been with his brother.
Rishid had never wanted to be a king. All he had ever wanted was just to belong somewhere, and he had known he was loved by his younger brother and sister and belonged with them. Why would he be here now? WHY? It didn't make sense!
Now the boy's elder brother stepped into the light and stood over him. At first the youth barely recognized him. Instead of the more simple clothes Rishid usually wore, he was now attired in the most fancy, silk-lined robes of royalty. Expensive rings were on his fingers and his ankh earrings were now bejeweled. But the most striking change now was his eyes. Where once they had been kind and soft, they were now cold. Cold and unknowing. A chill ran up the boy's spine. No! This wasn't happening! It couldn't happen!
"Who have you brought?" Rishid demanded, kneeling down to look at this unfamiliar blonde boy. He could not remember his past, nor anyone who had meant anything to him before. He remembered only waking up after being injured and being told that he was the king now that his father had been killed by a zealot. And so he had been forced to accept the throne, not knowing what else there was to do. Though he denied it, inwardly he often had felt so out of place and lost of late. Rishid had no way of knowing of the treacherous plot he was unwittingly a pawn in. "What crimes has he done? This boy doesn't look as though he would harm an insect."
The head guard released the boy from his grip to let Rishid do as he pleased with him. "He calls himself Marik, O great one," the deceitful man replied. Friend against friend. Brother against brother. This was exactly what he had wanted from the beginning. This was what every traitorous act of his would culminate in. And all of this would help him gain the ultimate thing he desired.
"Marik?" Rishid tilted the boy's chin with his rough hand and made him look into his frosty eyes. "And this is of interest to me why? I know no such child. And I insist he looks harmless." But even as he said this, even as he could not recognize a single thing about the boy, he felt a tugging at his heart. At his very soul. And he couldn't explain it.
Marik stared back at the one who was his brother, his own heart and soul shattered into pieces. Rishid didn't know him. The last time Marik had seen him, everything had been such a confused muddle. He couldn't even recall if he had remembered to tell the man how much he loved him. And now Rishid wouldn't care if Marik told him. Marik was a complete stranger to him now. Rishid had known Marik all of the boy's life, but now . . . now . . .
The entire quest finally took its toll on this poor, brave soul and he cried out in anguish, gripping at Rishid's silk-covered arms desperately. "RISHID! I'M YOUR BROTHER, RISHID!" Marik's agonized voice echoed throughout the tomblike room, his lavender eyes wide with shock and terror. This wasn't happening! Rishid couldn't forget him! Rishid never would! NEVER!
Rishid only gazed in shock, pulling himself free from Marik's frantic grip. "Is he mad!" he wanted to know, refusing to speak directly to Marik himself. He had no brother. He had often longed for a sibling instead of this cold, dark throne room, but there was no other family at all, which was why he had had to become the king.
"Not quite mad, my lord," the guard replied smoothly, crossing his arms. "If you would allow me to explain . . ."
"That would be appreciated." Rishid stood up slowly, keeping his eyes on Marik as if he thought the boy would bring some harm to him.
"He is the zealot who has singlehandedly been destroying the kingdom," the guard declared triumphantly. "When we captured him, he was in the process of slaying the mighty dragon Luna! And he is the one who murdered the previous king—your father, my lord!—and left you for dead! Now he is attempting to slither his way into your good graces by telling you that he is your brother!"
Marik began to rise. "That's a lie!" he screamed in anger. "It's all lies! Rishid, you were adopted into my family," he said then in earnest, struggling to calm his fears and feelings of helplessness. "Your birth father never wanted you and neither did your adopted one! And the last king, whoever he was, was certainly not your father. We don't even belong here, Rishid! You and Ishizu were sent here by some ridiculous mistake and I came to bring you back. We belong home, in Domino City!" He closed his eyes tightly, clenching his fists. "I would never hurt you, Rishid. You were always there for me when I needed you, and you and Ishizu are the ones I hold most dear." He prayed that the sincere truth would get through to his dear brother. Rishid couldn't be lost to him! Not now . . . not in this way. . . .
Rishid stared at him, not certain what to make of this spectacle. Who was this boy truly? Was he the zealot, devoid of sanity, who had brought this torment upon the people of the kingdom? Or was he some tortured soldier who had gone mad with the pressures of the war? Or . . . was he speaking the truth?
But there was so much that didn't make sense. Why did the boy call him by this unfamiliar name? His name wasn't Rishid. And if Marik meant so much to him, why would he have forgotten the boy?
No . . . there was no way that what he said could be true, Rishid decided then. He had always been in the palace. There were even photographs to prove it. Everyone knew him in this kingdom. And no one had heard of this Marik before now.
The head guard slapped Marik now, causing the boy's head to snap back painfully. "Enough of this! Admit your crimes to Lord Odion!" he ordered, enjoying the turmoil being created. Everything was according to plan. And he didn't really care if Rishid eventually remembered the truth. It was time to move to the next stage of the plot, and if Rishid remembered things, all that had to be done was eliminate him.
Marik glared back, defiant as always. "I didn't kill the king, nor did I slay the dragon. It was Fafnir and his minions who did all of that!" he retorted. "Luna the dragon assisted me in coming to this part of the land. It was another dragon that then slew her!"
It was as if a jolt had gone through Rishid. "Fafnir?" Instantly he gripped Marik by the hair and pulled him the rest of the way up. "Why do you accuse him!" Fafnir was known throughout this land of Juno as the one who had gotten it civilized many years prior. He wouldn't be the one causing this destruction!
Marik was so stunned at this action that he couldn't even think of the words to say at first. Rishid was hurting him! The brother who had always strived to keep him safe from harm now had no qualms about inflicting it on Marik himself. And this knowledge hurt him far more than any physical pain ever could.
"TELL ME!" Rishid roared, gripping the boy's shoulders and shaking him.
"Rishid, stop it!" Marik pleaded, again trying to grab for his brother's wrists. "You would never treat me like this!" His eyes were filled with the pain and anguish that only comes when someone dearly loved has turned against them. He knew something horrible would have had to have happened to Rishid for him to be this way. Fafnir had done it. Marik knew he had! Fafnir had caused Rishid to forget everything and everyone important to him!
"Call our king by his rightful name!" a second guard ordered, stepping forward with a spear in hand. "He is Lord Odion!"
"He is my brother Rishid!" Marik retorted in rage. "And I will never address him as anything else!"
"BE SILENT!" Rishid screamed then, his golden eyes flashing with rage and anger of his own. "All of you! Be silent!" All of this was too strange for him. Every part of him was screaming that Marik was lying . . . except for his heart. And he still didn't know what to make of it.
He released Marik from his grip, shoving him hard against the marble wall without completely thinking about what he was doing. Marik's eyes went wide as his back hit the smooth stone and left a long stream of blood as he collapsed to his knees in front of Rishid. The boy looked up, his eyes completely haunted by what had been done.
Rishid met Marik's gaze, his eyes now showing no emotion. But something was happening within him. He couldn't stand the look Marik was giving him. He couldn't stand seeing those lavender eyes, so full of anguish and disbelief. But why couldn't he handle it? He was supposed to be immune to those sorts of things. That was what he had been told. He was a merciless king, just like his father, who never broke down and excused anyone. That was the way he had been taught from his childhood.
"Cease looking at me in that way!" he screamed then, so confused by these seemingly new emotions that he was becoming enraged. Slowly he raised his hand to slap Marik.
The boy's shoulders shook with silent sobs as he continued to gaze up at the brother he still loved so much. What was wrong with Rishid? Even with amnesia, why would he treat Marik this way? Rishid was such a gentle person!
Shakily Marik spoke, tensing as Rishid prepared to slap him. "Rishid . . . don't hit me," he whispered. "Please . . ."
Another jolt went through Rishid, this time one of alarm. What was he doing! He wasn't like this! Somehow he knew he wasn't! Why was he hurting this boy? Even if he didn't know him, even if Marik was simply insane, it wasn't an excuse for this. And . . . if Rishid knew that he wasn't the type to continue harming this Marik, despite what he had been told, what if . . . what if some of the other things he had been told somehow weren't true? He didn't understand how they couldn't be, but what if . . . what if he truly was hurting his own brother? The thought was alarming to him.
He lowered his hand now, turning away from Marik. The boy looked almost ready to collapse! Had the guards really "disciplined" him that badly? Marik didn't deserve it. Somehow Rishid knew that Marik didn't deserve it. How could he have been willing to add to his suffering?
Now Marik was struck with the stick part of a spear and forced to the floor. "You have angered Lord Odion!" his unseen attacker roared in chastisement, striking him again and again. "He has turned from you in outrage because he cannot stand to look upon you any longer!"
Marik bore the pain, though hidden tears sneaked down his face. Rishid wasn't stopping this from happening, though he had chosen not to slap him. His brother didn't care anymore. Marik was convinced that he hadn't been able to get through to him. Nothing indicated that he had been. And so his quest had failed. He still didn't know where Ishizu was, but she most likely didn't remember him either. The fight was gone from him now. He knew he couldn't give up, and yet . . . he didn't know what he could do to remedy this living nightmare. Oblivion looked so nice now. . . . He had been fighting it for so long. . . .
And then . . . suddenly . . . the pain stopped. Marik froze, unable to comprehend what had caused the guard to have a change of heart. But soon he saw that it wasn't the guard who had at all.
"Leave him be!" Rishid yelled in fury, restraining the guard from dropping the spear once more. His golden eyes were filled with the fire of righteous indignation at a gross injustice. "You are the one who has angered me." He tore the spear away and snapped it in two. The sound echoed down the halls with finality and the guards flinched.
Marik looked up at Rishid with hope. Did his brother remember, or was it simply that he couldn't stand to see anyone being tortured? Either way Marik was happy. It meant that Rishid's true spirit was shining through the lies someone had forced upon him.
The guard backed up, a fleeting angry glimmer in his eyes as Rishid broke the spear. "But Lord Odion . . ." He faked a shocked expression.
Rishid now delivered his slap to this person instead of to Marik. "This boy has done nothing wrong! Certainly nothing worthy of your inhuman beating!" He turned to several other of the guards. "He is severely wounded. Carry him gently into my private quarters. I will meet you there." Rishid's ice cold gaze returned to the abusive man. "And as for you. Leave this place. Now."
The guard snarled, but at Rishid's next booming command, he turned and stalked away. Once he was out of sight around a carved pillar, he sneered wickedly. "Everything according to plan," he hissed as he laced his fingers together.
Marik smiled up at Rishid weakly as he felt himself be lifted onto a makeshift stretcher and carried down the hall. Though Rishid's servants tried to be gentle, Marik was being jostled quite a bit. But he didn't complain. "My brother . . . you may not realize it now, but you still do care," he said softly. Nothing could have meant more to him than what Rishid had just said and done. Now he could finally accept the oblivion coming over him. Perhaps his quest wasn't a failure. He knew that he would find Ishizu again, and now he had hope that Rishid truly would remember him.
Rishid looked down at him rather coldly. He couldn't explain why he had done what he had, only that it seemed right. But he still didn't know if he could trust this boy or what he had said. "Don't try to talk," he said in a harsh tone. "You've come through much and you are gravely hurt."
"Emotionally more than physically, my brother," Marik replied quietly as his eyes closed in unconsciousness.
Rishid gazed at his poor body for a long moment before he turned away. That was when he noticed that Marik had gripped part of his robe. A strange feeling welled up in him as he looked at the bloodied, tan-skinned hand clinging to the material . . . a sort of protectiveness. Brotherly protectiveness. It was almost like a memory, Rishid realized. But he pushed it aside and gently pried the boy's fingers away from the silky cloth before laying his hand across his bare, bleeding chest. He would worry about the truthfulness of Marik's tale later. Now, he needed to tend to the boy's wounds.