CatStar - Yes, this was a hard chapter to write, but I felt really good after writing it. Notice how Yami has cried more often then Atem. Their differences are important later on in YLPII.
Kyoko - This is not wholly an AU. It can actually happen in the story. As for Bakura being a follower.... Was that a mistake or a prediction?
Shibby - God, I love your reviews! So intelligent and always certain to make me smile!
digigirl - Those who are not afriad of the reviewers are the true writers. hides pitchforks, bazookas, and various death weapons saying, "ROWLING KILLED SIRIUS!!" Anywayz...
High Priestess Ente - You gave me the best review ever! I saved it onto my document to remind me. Thank you so much!!
Strawberrylover - Here's the stuff! Hope you enjoy it all!
SilverWolfe - holds up "Rock On" sign Peace!
Kiyama - Thank you for the lovely review. My endings are always ones I take pride of!
Jessejames - Glad you liked it, girl! passes out treats
Matthew - OO
Serafina - hugs God, I've missed you all so much!
Una: Important notes for the bit. Think of it like a DVD menu:
Abandoned Concepts - Snippets of ideas or themes I wanted to add and why I did not. Each are separated by brackets.
Cut Scenes - The first bit in brackets have the explanation of where it goes in the story. Then is the cut scene, with a paragraph or two preceding it from the chapter. Finally, in brackets again, are my reasons for cutting it.
Alternate Ending - Self explanatory.
Oh, and in case you haven't gotten word, {these now mean Yami's thoughts.}

Abandoned Concepts

[When first coming up with Kei in relation to the others, Keiko's first impression was to make her a concubine with radical ideas, who captures the attention of Atem and Seto. Keiko actually wrote out the scene where Atem chooses her as his future bride, then Kei hears Seto chanting, follows the voice, and falls in love with him then and there. This was changed to add more depth to Kei's character, and set the play on a larger scale.]

[I had many scene ideas for Minkabh's role in Atem's life in early chapters. You'll see why in the cut scenes.]

[In Chapter 4, "The Divine Shukura", Minkabh was going to challenge Shukura to a guessing game with cards and monsters, not the cup game. She would have caught him with cards up his sleeves. Changed for difficulty in writing out, and as a tie-in to YLP.]

[Remember when Shukura got Atem to save Naeem from being beaten? Well, I almost added that Karim began paying a little too much interest in Shukura, in a romantic sense, from then on. Sort of a one-sided amorous detail that I felt would better fit in the sequel.]

[In Chapter 11 "A Prince's Worth", Kei finds Naeem praying in the temple. Originally, I was going to place him in one of the practice rooms, punching a wooden dummy to the point in which he bled, and Kei reads Naeem's thoughts. I changed it for a few reasons: 1) OOCness; Naeem, like Yugi, is a pacifist. And Kei doesn't pry quite so much into other peoples' private thoughts. 2) Too violent and painful for both of them. 3) My new version more easily shows Naeem's struggle by turning to the gods.]

[In later chapters, I wanted to add the detail that some of the priests and concubines were troubled that Shukura had not conceived a child yet. Although its not entirely important to the story (it will for a future story), Minkabh had placed a powerful curse on Shukura, so she could never bare any offspring, and therefore stop Atem's legitimate bloodline.]

[There was originally no Jabari/Jonouchi character. I stuck him in for color, humor, and for Naeem to have a best friend. He will also function as a link in the sequel, developing the climax to make a HFIL of a lot more sense! (I'm not saying why yet!) Coming up with characters off the top of my head and adding them at the last minute worked wonders for DBBC, (Rubaru and Nipper come to mind…) and it seems to have served me well here, too.]


Cut Scenes

[From "Chapter 9: Atem's Radical Declarations". The original song for Atem and Shukura. "As Long As You're Mine" from the musical Wicked.]

"I can't believe you are breaking tradition for me," she said, wiping tears from here eyes. "I keep expecting to wake up any moment now."
Atem leaned forward and kissed her. Such a simply gesture, but held all the meaning in the world. Forbidden fruit of the gods touched her lips, and she accepted it gratefully. The moon shown brighter, delighted by the young couple's happiness.

Kiss me too fiercely, hold me too tight
I need help believing you're with me tonight
My wildest dreamings could not foresee
Lying beside you with you wanting me
Just for this moment, as long as you're mine
I've lost all resistance, and crossed the borderlines
And if it turns out its over too fast
I'll make every last moment last
As long as you're mine

Maybe I'm brainless, maybe I'm wise
But you've got me seeing through different eyes
Somehow I've fallen under your spell
somehow I'm feeling its up that I fell
Every moment as long as you're mine
I wake up my body and make up for lost time
Say there's no future for us as a pair?
Though I may know, I don't care

Just for this moment as long as you're mine
Come be how you want to and see how bright we shine
Borrow the moonlight until it is through
And know I'll be here holding you
As long as you're mine

[I consider Atem and Shukura a bit different in character to Yami and Nazo. Okay, very different! Somehow, "Bring Me To Life" doesn't suit them (Atem and Shukura, I mean). Shukura doesn't have nearly the angst her future counter-part does. This was their original love song on their wedding night. I scrapped it because I had added Naeem's theme later in the chapter, and the two songs clashed too much.]
[From "Chapter 12: Ship to Ship Battle." Jabari Comforts Shukura.]

"Thank you," said Shukura. She walked gracefully to the window and stared out into the moonlight. 'Atem, please be alive when we get there! I couldn't bare it if… if…' A sob escaped her lips.
Jabari put his hand on her shoulder. "Naeem told me stories about how strong his brother was. He'd say, 'Honored Brother will not die unless he wishes it! Such is his own power!'" Jabari chuckled. "Kinda exaggerated, but after meeting Pharaoh, I don't blame him for saying so."
Shukura gave Jabari a questioning look. The nomad vagabond scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "What I mean is, I may not have powers like you guys, but even I can see that Pharaoh is a true representation of what a pharaoh always should be: a warrior shepherd who will look over his flock, those he loves, until he is no longer needed. His job has only begun; there's too much left for him to do! He won't give in for anything in the world!" He patted her shoulder. "He'll survive. Don't worry."
Shukura smiled. "Thanks Jabari. I needed to hear that most of all."

[I think it would have been nice as a comforter for Shukura, and to add a bit of softness to Jabari's persona, to show he really doesn't hate Atem. But the physical contact was too much of a no-no. Plus, it slowed the story down!]
[From "Chapter 11: A Prince's Worth." Seto's Sense of Humor]

Shukura nodded in understanding. I'll get you guys out of this. I promise!
Seto glanced over at his pharaoh and let out a small chuckle. What could possibly be so funny,asked Atem.
==This whole sequence of events is ironic, don't you agree?==
{I don't follow you.}
==You forced the brat to remain here to keep him protected. Now he is captured within the palace walls, right under your so-called 'protection!'==
Atem glared at the dark wit. {Thy mother mated with a scorpion!}

[Since the chapter felt so heavy, I initially wanted to end it on a more comedic note. To put simply, not funny enough, and a little too sad considering what eventually happens.]
[No intro, Cut from "Chapter 7: Caught!" Naeem and Kei Meet In the Streets.]

Bakura cursed several times rapidly in his head. Why oh why did he ever agree to another session of stealing with Kei?! Especially when she was one of the clumsiest women in all of Kemet?!
"You just HAD to fall on that guy's face," Bakura seethed as he and Kei sped down the street, pushing the crowd of people aside.
"It just happened," said Kei over her shoulder. "He snored, and I reacted. I can't help it!"
The guards shouted something behind them and the two thieves realized they were headed straight into a caravan of traveling merchants. "Duck," Bakura yelled, and they both dove under one of the wagons, emerged from the other side, and fond themselves trapped by walls and the backs of houses with no windows.
"Now what," Kei asked. But as she did, she scanned the carts slowly moving past. The guards would surly search each of them if they hid, except… "That one! Hurry!"
Bakura saw Kei point to a cart piled high with, as the sign dictated, 'Quality Camel Manure.' "No."
"They'll never look through that!"
"You got a better idea?"
"Then LET'S GO!!" She grabbed Bakura by the shirt, and they dove into the greenish filth.
It took a few minutes before the guards had left to another street. They pulled themselves out, gulping precious oxygen, and dashed to a nearby alley. In this time, Bakura felt as though he would never be clean again for the rest of his life! "So much for a spotless reputation as the King of Thieves," he muttered.
"Well," Kei squeaked in humility, "at least we got away!"
Barkura growled. "Into WHAT?!?! Its YOUR fault we went on that stupid mission for a stupid necklace on a fat, stupid nobleman in the middle of the stupid day," he snapped at her. "You are so… so…"
"Stupid," she offered. Her large eyes watered up with tears, and her voice squeaked with shame and sadness over nearly getting them both killed.
The thief stopped his rants. His heart melted at the sight of Kei ready to cry, and he knew he couldn't bare it. Oh, how he hated her talent for cuteness! He felt things for her he felt in no other person, dead or alive. Whatever those feelings were, he did not know what to call them. After all, he remained alone for the most part, and lost his family at an early age. "Kei," he sighed.
She held up a two fistfuls of glittering jewels. "Besides, the spectators had loads of stuff in their pockets!"
Bakura blinked and gave a small smile. "Good job, Kei. Guess you aren't so hopeless after all."
Kei grinned in appreciation. But her smile faded to surprise when she heard a familiar voice not too far away in the direction of the caravan. "Wow! Father never lets me see foreign stuff up close except at dinnertime!"
She peeked around the corner of the building. Standing around a cart with clothes from distant lands stood several children, all barely dressed except for one boy, who wore a hooded cape. Kei recognized his face immediately; Naeem!
"What's up," asked Bakura.
"What's he doing out here," Kei wondered out loud. "He's supposed to be resting up after that beating he took the other day from Karim!"
"Who? What beating?" Bakura tugged at her tunic impatiently. "What aren't you telling me?!"
"Hold on." Kei made sure her black bandanas were secure, and walked out into the crowd.
One of the boys tried on a sparkling veil and pranced around like a makeshift dancer. "I am Madam Serena, of the southern dancers!" All of the other boys laughed. Another donned a fancy, large hat with feathers, pretending to be a bird goddess. Another still took a green tunic and pretended to be a monster. Naeem grabbed a tall, purple, jeweled turban and pink veil. He batted his long eye lashes, and said in a distinctly high-pitched version of Shadi's voice, "I am Madam Zeroni! I will tell you of your accursed future!"
Kei smirked. She was much better at impressions than Naeem. So, in Shadi's real voice, she said, "It is unwise to test the waters of Fate."
Naeem froze up and threw off the hat. "Sh-Shadi!! What are you-" He stopped when he saw Keiko, dressed in black and veiled. He, like Kei, recognized his friend right away. He scowled. "What are you doing out of the palace," spat angrily.
"What are you doing out of bed," Kei demanded in the same tone.
They both folded their arms and stared hard at each other for several seconds, until they both burst out laughing. Naeem hugged Kei around the waist.
"Who's that," asked one of the boys.
"This is my sister, Kei," said Naeem. He looked up at her. "Can you play with us?"
"Can't. I'm on a secret mission." She winked.
Naeem's eyes widened. "Oo! Can I come? Pleease?"
"Sorry, Madam Zeroni. Maybe next time."
"Aw!" Naeem pouted. "Alright. Next time, then." He was old enough to know that adults always said that to kids when they meant "Not in this lifetime."
Kei left Naeem to his fun with the children and found Bakura still in the alleyway, watching the actions from afar. "Why didn't you come with me, Bakura? I'm sure Naeem woulda liked to meet you!"
Bakura's eyes were downcast. It took him a minute before he responded. "That was a member of the royal family, wasn't it?"
"Yeah." Kei cocked her head innocently to one side. "Why?"
"Are you close to him?"
"Yeah. Why?"
"To all of them?"
"Yeah. Why?"
Bakura struggled with his own inner demons. He'd sworn his revenge against the Pharaoh for what had happened in his village. But if Kei was so attached to them, how would she be affected? He cherished the time he and Kei spent together, and did not want anything to happen to his only real friend. He did not want to see her cry.
"I have to go," Bakura said. Before Kei could protest, and thief slipped away and disappeared into the crowd.
That night, Bakura promised himself that he would not seek his vengeance against the pharaoh until Kei was out of the way, one way or another.

[Long one! The idea was to strengthen the bond of Kei with Naeem and Kei with Bakura, plus add more humor. It was cut for a few reasons: 1) Bakura would know Naeem's face, and in the future, recognize Yugi as the prince. I made sure NO ONE would know on purpose, except my reviewers and Minkabh! 2) At the time, I didn't want chapters over three or four pages long. I obviously think differently now. 3) I just didn't like my portrayal of Kei in this scene. TT I tried to be as funny as Keiko, but failed!! 4) As much as I call it child abuse, Naeem is not to have many friends, except those from the palace. Just a general rule, like Harry Potter not having any Muggle friends.]
[No intro; no specific chapter. WARNING: Rated R for lotsa gore! Young Atem and Minkabh]

As Pharaoh Akunamukanon's high priest, Minkabh had to give the older prince lessons on Philosophy and Magic Arts. Minkabh relished in this, thoroughly delighted to have the confidence of the pharaoh so tightly in his grasp. He knew he could do the same to the High Prince if done in the correct manner.
At the age of four, Atem walked into Minkabh's chambers as usual, but found that there was a man chained to the floor. Children normally do not develop a sense of fear or humility until older years, and the High Prince was no exception. In fact his over-inflated ego only overblown his immaturity. His eyes widened with childish curiosity. "What's going on, Lord Minkabh?"
The tall, olive-skinned priest glided forward to his awaiting pupil. "My dear High Prince, do you recall what the greatest sin of them all is?"
Atem stood a bit taller, proud that he knew the correct answer. "Betral!" (He's only four, remember?)
"And what is 'betrayal'?"
"Um… Unfait'ness to yourself, your country, and Pharaoh!"
Minkabh's long fingers emerged from the dark folds of his robes, and he petted the boy. "Good, good, you remembered. You have a good memory." (Bad joke!!)
Atem made a face; Minkabh never answered his question, and he already answered two of his! "Who's that man," he demanded.
Minkabh grabbed the man's hair and held up his face. He opened his eyes and tried to scream, but the gag in his mouth stopped him. "This man, this filth, was caught rabble rousing against your family! I asked Lord Akunadean to have him for today's lesson: Penalty Games."
"Pe-nal-ty…" Atem liked the way the word sounded, even though he did not know the meaning.
"Look at him, Prince," said Minkabh with more force and venom than he dared in front of others. "This man betrayed your father! He betrayed Kemet! He betrayed the gods! He must be punished!" He untied the gag.
The man coughed, and his eyes shone with frightened tears. "Mercy! Mercy, Your Highness! I was angry! I meant nothing, really!"
"Silence," commanded Minkabh, kicking the man in the back of the head. "Do not speak so easily to the Son of Pharaoh!"
Atem took a few steps backwards. Minkabh's actions scared him. He wanted to leave, to run. But the priest waved his hand, and Atem found his legs taking him closer. "Your father, the good and wise pharaoh, has already sentenced this man to torture," Minkabh said.
Atem relaxed a little. 'If Father believes this man's evil, it has to be true! Father is always right!'
Minkabh smiled in a twisted way. He heard the boy's simplistic thoughts. "Good, good boy. Father is always right. And Minkabh helps your father know what is right. You trust Minkabh."
"Then watch what Minkabh does to those who slander Kemet." Minkabh stood up and faced the man. His neon green eyes shone with brilliance and malice. He held up his hands. Atem felt a large amount of magic rise up from the depths of the earth. "MIND CONSUMPTION!!"
The man let out a scream, then his eyes rolled back into his head, and he started making gurgling noises. He stiffened and fell to the ground, writhing in pain or fear or both.
Minkabh grabbed the frightened boy by the arm, and shared his powers of mind reading for a moment. The four year old saw through the man's eyes. The chains had turned into a giant snake that coiled around his body, squeezing him, brandishing its long fangs dripping with venom. Another snake protruded from his mouth, in place of his tongue, repeating the heresy against the pharaoh he had apparently said to the crowd.
Atem regained his own consciousness in time to see the man sticking out his tongue, staring at it in horror. Panicked, the man bit down on the offending appendage, and spat it out. The raw piece of flesh flew through the air and landed with a squish at Atem's feet, splashing a bit of remaining fluid. It tensed involuntarily, then flopped, like a dying slug.
The affects of the Penalty Game continued, because the man did not seem to notice that he now had no tongue. He screamed and bubbled through the rivers of blood pouring in his mouth, not from pain, but fear.
Minkabh forced Atem to face this horror. He ignored when the boy screamed, cried, struggled, and vomited; he simply made sure that none of the other magicians in the area would feel it. His long, dark tongue caressed his lips at the sight of pure terror and pain. "Learn this, Prince," he said in a dangerous tone. "This is the fate of those who betray my pharaoh. Who betray me! You will one day have this power. Revel in it! It is the power of total supremacy! The power of absolute control! The power… of the gods!"
He added, much softer in his ear, "And Minkabh will be there to help you know right from wrong, when you receive that power…"
Every time Atem watched a Penalty Game, bloody or not, he got more and more used to it. By the age of eight, he stopped flinching at the screams of the games' victims. No, not victims, criminals. Each game played fit the crime each one committed. This was justice in the highest sense.
Minkabh felt proud of the progress he had made with desensitizing the future pharaoh to punishment. Atem's pride in his own developing powers grew, but to Minkabh's frustration, he held no blood lust. Like most young princes, he wanted to conquer the rest of the known world for Egypt, so that was a start.
None of the rest of the palace seemed to notice the darkening change in the high prince. Kei, or "Rei," noticed the harshness of his temper mounting, but not enough to alarm her. Seto only thought he was maturing. Pharaoh and Shimons held some suspicions, but Minkabh's spell blocking off knowledge of the training methods prevented any cause for more suspicion.

[shudder Creepy! And I never put this up! I had planned on many streams of this sort of thing, but I handed power over to Keiko for the first few chapters, and this was definitely too graphic for her style. But I wrote a couple of possible flashbacks for YLPII, so I won't reveal them all.]

Alternate Ending

[This was the ORIGINAL ending for the last chapter.]
Kei nodded, and watched the landscape slowly go by. The lush, green reeds would soon be ready to cut, and the dark-red desert sand soft and vast as ever. She looked upwards to the sky. The clouds began to part slightly, and a long, beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky over the land. Flying beside it was what resembled a large bird. But as it flew closer, Kei realized it was a person, with spiky tri-colored hair and glittering jewels.
Kei tried not to cry with happiness. She had found his soul at last. The figured waved a good-bye to his surrogate sister, and flew off to Thebes amid the beautiful colors.
Atem watched half-heartedly as the veiled women danced. He knew he should enjoy the pleasures of the body, even while his wife was away. As Pharaoh, he had the right. But without Shukura, no other woman seemed to please him nearly as much.
It had been almost a month since she and Kei left on the ship, and Atem prayed nightly for their safe and swift return. Seto acted as though everything was normal, but Atem sensed the loneliness of his High Priest. But this loneliness seemed to be handled better by the latter. The former, on the other hand, couldn't stand the silence. He longed to hear Kei's silly laugh, and see the smile that could light up a room. He burned for Shukura, body and soul, to lay beside him once again and hold him, speaking sweet, soothing words into his ears.
Shimon talked to Pharaoh in his ear about the construction of his tomb, but Atem only half listened. Jabari left with his family ages ago. Whether the nomad still planned on searching for his friend's remains was left unclear.
"I accept his death," he said to Atem in a low bow. "Its taken some time, but it got through this thick skull a' mine that he's gone through the Western Gates."
"If even," muttered Atem.
Jabari stood up and placed a hand on Atem's shoulder. "Have faith, my pharaoh. I'm sure he's at peace."
(End Flashback)
"Acceptance," repeated Atem to himself. "That is where I am. I still need to fully accept his death." He smirked darkly. {Its hard… Its as if I lost a part of myself… How can I…?}
A semi-transparent figure sat on top of a statue, not really feeling the cool stone against his milk-chocolate skin, but sitting all the same. His large, magnificent, silver wings clung close to his small body, occasionally fluttering in anticipation of flight. No one in the palace had the strong abilities Kei had, so no one could see or hear this creature at all. It made for a tragic and desolate existence.
Naeem watched sadly as his brother dealt with his emotions. He could read Atem's mind easily, and sighed at the memory played. /I may not be able to pass though the Gates, Honored Brother, but as long as I'm by your side, I am at peace./
"Pharaoh," whispered Shimon.
Atem's head snapped up. "Huh?"
"We are ready for the punishment ceremony."
The six priests of the Millennium Items stood in front of the pharaoh as they tested the man brought in, who had broken into the tombs. Naeem glided down gracefully and stood by Atem's left side, opposite Shimon. /Have faith, Honored Brother,/ Naeem said to the deaf ears. /Jabari spoke the truth. Have faith in yourself! In your friends and family!/
Seto sealed the evil man's kaa into a tablet.
/In your subjects! In the gods and the monsters!/
Akunadean sent what remained to work for seven years in the prison camps.
/I am trapped in the mortal plain, condemned to wander in an eternal day without night./
Mahado requested and was granted permission to have more guards for the tombs.
/Such is the burden - my burden - that I accepted years ago./
Isis warned them of an evil approaching.
/I only have a vague sense of what is to be, but as I am sentenced to unending light, you have been sentenced to unending darkness./
The Ring reacted to the approaching force.
/Evil times lie ahead of you. I can only watch, but I am here, Honored Brother!/
A guard entered and said that Bakura wanted to see the pharaoh. Two more guards were thrown away by a burst of energy.
/And I'll be right here, through it all…/
The priests lined up to shield Pharaoh Atem. Bakura, King of Thieves, Robber of Pharaoh Akunamukanon's Tomb, walked through the door in almighty splendor, dragging the old king's body behind him with a rope. Atem stood up and saw the face of his perpetual nemesis.
/…through the sands of time…/
"At last, Pharaoh-yo," Bakura said with his feral grin, "we meet face to face."

[Um, yeah, longer, more prophetic, more info, more emotion, explains the title, but WAY too sad! I preferred a happier note with Kei. It also tied in scenes from the beginning of the Memory Arc, to show that this isn't necessarily an AU fic. It could have happened! At least with this you have another few hints as to the details of Naeem's curse. I know I keep saying this, but all will be revealed in YLPII. Be patient!]

Special thanks to all those who helped make this story possible, whether through reviews or inspirations.