Notes: This is the last chapter. Whoa. But, no worries- the sequel is up! So, go have fun with that as soon as you finish this chapter! Bye!
(Chapter 29 is reuploaded with Joey and Mai's conversation accurate.)
(Oh, and be warned: the beginning is slightly insane. Can you tell I was floundering?)
Yugi expected the worst.
A battle, maybe. A clash of the titans. The Blue Eyes White Dragons trying to fry Dark Magician Girl to a crisp, perhaps.
He didn't expect Dark Magician Girl to bounce up and latch her arms around the nearest Blue Eyes' neck. He definitely didn't expect her to affectionately give the dragon a hug, cooing, "I'm sorry, guys… I got carried away. You're still the best." She swung herself up and balanced on the Blue Eyes' back, while the dragons preened and arched their graceful necks. Seto wore a slightly flabbergasted look on his face, and Yugi stifled a snicker.
The Dark Magician, however, looked most displeased. He shot frigid glares at the Dark Magician Girl. When she finally noticed, her face burned red again and she cringed, trying to shrink behind the Blue Eyes.
"We are getting distracted from the important matter," he finally spoke, causing everyone to gape anew. "My Pharaoh is ill."
"Is he really?" Yugi asked worriedly, any laughter he'd felt at the unusual and humorous events faded instantly.
"He is struggling," Dark Magician intoned solemnly, closing his eyes. The haggard lines of his face showed a little of the pain he was feeling for his master.
"Yami…" Yugi said, gripping his hand.
Shooting the Dark Magician a cool sneer, Seto strode around him and crouched by Yugi's side, examining Yami's face. "Looks like he's dreaming," he commented.
Everyone else rushed up. Joey accidentally knocked into Seto, nearly causing him to fall on top of Serenity and Ezra. Seto shot Joey a death glare, but the clumsy blonde didn't seem to notice.
Seto had been right; Yami's face was twitching slightly. He was muttering in a constant stream under his breath.
"What's he speaking, Greek?" Joey asked, wrinkling his brow. Mai rolled her eyes.
"I highly doubt it."
"What are you talking about, Wheeler?" Seto asked, shooting Joey a weird look. "He's muttering something about a game."
"Huh?" Joey asked blankly. "Do you speak Greek?"
"It's not Greek," Bakura finally spoke up. He was hovering on the outskirts of the group, his arms crossed defiantly. "Don't be an idiot, Wheeler."
"For once, I agree with Bakura," Seto grumbled.
Everyone's eyes turned to Kaiba, who looked duly horrified. "Not more fairy tales!" he groaned aloud.
"I thought you said you believed Yami was a Pharaoh," Joey said, scowling at him.
"That doesn't mean I had anything to do with it," he snapped back.
"Oh, no, you can just speak Egyptian because you were born that way!"
"Guys, Yami needs our help," Serenity begged, putting her hand on Joey's fist. "Can we stop fighting and focus on what's really important?"
"You're right," Joey said, his gaze immediately softening. On impulse, he reached over and put his hand on Yami's shoulder. One by one, everyone squeezed in and placed their fingers on Yami, whether his forehead or his shoulder or his foot (as only Malik opted to do, winking at Yugi and pretending to tickle it).
"Wake up," Serenity whispered, her voice full of emotion.
A great shadow seemed to fall over the room as the three Blue Eyes stretched to their full heights. All eyes turned to look at them, the Dark Magician tensing up again. They'd nearly forgotten the dragons were still there.
The Blue Eyes stood in a mock 'V', the largest one in the front. The dragons eyed Yami, everyone else instinctively drawing back to let them view his unconscious form. Cold blue glinted off of pure white, and suddenly the dragons seemed to be glowing.
Slowly, reverently, the lead dragon spread the large wings. The other two followed suit. Arching the long, powerful neck, the dragon bowed low, the sleek head hovering slightly above ground. The two dragons in the back bent over far, their scales scraping the stone and their eyes half-closed.
They stayed like that for a few moments of awed silence. Joey, of course, had to speak up first.
"Hm, are we switching sides here? Defecting?" he muttered, but softly. Seto's upper lip drew back in a snarl, oddly reminiscent of the dog he kept comparing Joey to.
"They're paying homage to the Pharaoh," Dark Magician Girl's soft voice said behind them. "They recognize the rightful ruler, not show disrespect to their master. There is no disloyalty among us."
"I think you've got that right," Joey mumbled, remembering how the Flame Swordsman had helped him out of that prison. It felt like a lifetime ago.
"They would follow their true master anywhere, even to death. Even into battle against the Pharaoh," Dark Magician Girl continued. "When they pay tribute Yami now, they are acknowledging that their master too has recognized Yami as the true Pharaoh."
Seto hated the way they all kept staring at him like that.
Abruptly, the Dark Magician strode forward, in front of Yami. The Blue Eyes White Dragons rose languidly, eyeing him cautiously. Dark Magician Girl winced, hoping her master wouldn't get angry with them. He'd never gotten along with the dragons.
But, unexpectedly, the Dark Magician laid down his staff. Then, in a formal gesture, he put a hand on his back and a hand on his torso, and bowed slightly.
Dark Magician Girl let out a low whistle that was quickly stifled. The Blue Eyes appeared satisfied. The one in front arched over, bringing the powerful face up close to Seto; the dragon's rough tongue licked his face (and nearly took off a layer of skin) before the three of them disappeared. Their exit was not silent, as most Duel Monsters were prone to do; this time, they crackled with white lightning. The lightning surrounded their bodies, encasing them in a snapping aura, before shrinking down to nothing.
"Intimidating dragons, they are," Mai muttered, brushing her hair out of her eyes.
Seto gingerly touched his raw face, but inside he felt pleased. "That's your cue to wake up now, Pharaoh," he said, glancing over at Yami.
And the Pharaoh opened his eyes.
"Can we go now?" Joey asked eagerly, bouncing up.
Yami shook his head tiredly. "No, Joey. There is one more thing we must do."
"But you said 'It's over', in that big booming voice," Joey pointed out, albeit childishly.
"For me," Yami intoned. "I shall return to the other world, none for the better or the worse. Perhaps my memories will return with time.
"But there is one more left here."
Everyone looked largely confused, until Malik cleared his throat significantly.
"Marik!" Mai exclaimed, her purple eyes widening. "He's in here too!"
"I thought he made this place," Yugi said, confused.
"I think… this was more the place that made him," Yami said quietly.
"Wait a second," Malik started.
"I know what you're going to say," Yami interrupted. "Marik was of your own creation. That is true. But the Shadow Realm gave birth to all thoughts of evil- and all clouds of darkness. Both of these things are affecting your other half now."
Malik looked slightly miffed at still being 'Marik's other half', but nodded. "Because of the God Cards," he mused.
"Yes," Yami nodded. "We have to find him."
"But how?" Geoff pointed out.
"The Shadows will bring us to him," Yami said grimly. And sure enough, before the sentence was out, the world had swirled again. "This is the hour of judgement."
"It looks like a graveyard," Mai breathed ominously. Serenity shivered, and she and Yugi instinctively grabbed hands.
"There's no tombs," Joey pointed out doubtfully.
"But it has that ominous feel," Ezra agreed.
"It smells like death," Ryou said, looking inexplicably close to tears. Bakura roughly clapped a hand on his shoulder and Ryou latched onto it, looking grateful. (Bakura, on the other hand, looked horrified. Luckily, Ryou didn't see his startled expression.)
"Up there!" Malik said, pointing at the yellow sky. Everyone automatically craned their necks to see Marik, suspended above them. He was screaming soundlessly, his whole body writhing. Veins stood out on his face, neck, arms… his eyes were opened wide.
"He's in pain!" Serenity said in alarm.
"MARIK!" Yami roared. "CAN YOU HEAR ME!"
Nothing but screams.
"MARIK!!!!" Malik shouted desperately. "SNAP OUT OF IT!"
"He's hurt," Geoff said slowly, agreeing with Serenity. "He's hurt very badly."
"Mental anguish," Seto diagnosed, ignoring Joey's snort, staring at the scene.
"It's the God Card!" Ezra said suddenly, pointing at the tiny object clutched in Marik's hands. Everyone's eyes zeroed in on it. Sure enough, he was clinging onto the Winged Dragon of Ra.
"LET GO OF IT!" Malik urged.
"DON'T BE SUCH A WIMP!" Bakura, of course. Who else?
"MARIK!" Yami suddenly commanded, and his voice boomed through the shadows. Mai involuntarily put her hands to her ears. "LISTEN TO ME- I AM YOUR PHARAOH! GET RID OF THE CARD!"
Malik was very close to snorting "Like that'll work," but withheld it just in time. Instead, he decided to test the mental bond that had been nearly severed last time Marik threw him from the corridors of his mind.
That was all he could manage, but Marik's body suddenly stiffened.
"GET RID OF THE CARD!" Yami shouted again, and suddenly he seemed much larger than life. The Millennium Puzzle around his neck lit up with a shimmering gold. The tunic he wore seemed turned to the sacred garments of the king, fastened around his neck like a cape; and his eyes were burning crimson.
Struggling, Marik brought Ra's card up. Oblivious to the frantic cheers of those below, he grasped the opposite edges of the card and tore, as hard as he could.
The holding vessel ripped in half with a furious sound, and the world fell to pieces.
"Can you walk?"
Marik groggily opened his eyes to see five concerned Maliks dancing around in the air. He quickly squeezed his eyes shut again.
"We'll have to carry him," Malik decided, letting Marik's head fall to the ground.
"What do you mean we?" Bakura asked grumpily. But even as he complained, he helped Ryou hoist Marik half-on Malik's shoulders, half-on his own.
Yami, Kaiba, and Ezra were flying in circles above the city on their respective dragon-type Monsters. Joey and Yugi were making frantic dashes through on foot, accompanied by Gaia, the Fierce Knight and the Rabid Horseman (Yami and Seto had offered use of these Monsters due to their speed. Time was all-important now, and they didn't have much of it.). All were spreading the same message: "VACATE THE CITY! RA IS COME AGAIN! GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!"
"Are you sure you still have enough energy to Summon a Monster, Mai?" Serenity was asking worriedly as she and Geoff stood on either side of the blonde, ready to catch her if she fell.
"Of course I do," she said through gritted teeth. "Here goes nothing…
The three sisters burst out of the card in a wheel of rose petals and metal armor, thanks to the two cards Mai was holding under it. "Oooh…" she whispered, swaying. It had sapped so much of her energy, but she forced the words out of her mouth.
"There… are prisoners… in the castle. You have to fly through… open doors…"
Screeching, the three Harpies made a sharp turn in midair and sped toward the castle, swooping through the open doorway one by one. They split off, tearing down the hallway and kicking open every door they saw, shattering the stone. Behind them, confused prisoners made a mad dash for the exit. They paused only briefly to gape at the huge ball in the sky- it hovered there, enveloped in a golden glow. Underneath, a mass of solid feathers shifted, and the ball throbbed, as if preparing to be let loose. Then Serenity would urge them on with a passionate cry, and they made hastily for the wall.
The wall- it was crumbling slowly. In fact, the whole palace was breaking down. The wall was going first, coming apart in bits as the ground shook violently. Some of the fleeing people, after a year of imprisonment, were struck down by falling stone and destined never to go any further.
Rare Hunters ran heedlessly among the prisoners, past grudges forgotten in a desperate flight for survival. Those who loyally approached Marik and Bakura were given a roaring "RUN, YOU FOOLS, IF YOU WISH TO LIVE" from the latter, and that was all it took to get them to start fleeing.
In the midst of all this a jackal swiftly bypassed everyone else. She carried in her mouth the Millennium Scales and the Millennium Key. Her jaw was straining with the effort but she kept up a steady pace, getting as far away from the apparition in the sky as possible- before it was too late.
The lone person moving against the current, Odion Ishtar grimly forced his way into the palace grounds. His whole body ached from the hike over here, and the world was tilting beneath his feet, but he fought doggedly onwards. Téa was in there… as were Masters Marik and Bakura and Malik and Ryou. He had to find them. He owed them all.
But even as he raised a giant arm to shield his head from a falling piece of white marble, another section collapsed. He had time only to whirl around and stare in horror before he was buried under a pile of rubble, completely hidden from the panicked gazes of those fleeing the palace.
Téa was still determinedly pressed against the stone door. She could hear something now. Running footsteps… people screaming… and a distantly familiar screech. But what was that noise?
The ground was shaking ominously under her feet, but she ignored it, flattening her body against the stone. Something was breaking further down in the castle. And wait… it was coming closer. Closer. Closer. Right next door!
Realization came too late. Téa's blue eyes widened, and she had only started to pull away when the Harpie Lady viciously kicked in the door. She was carried with the blow, slammed against the stone wall on the opposite side. Half of the door crumbled atop of her prone body.
"Malik?" Marik moaned faintly. "Did I do something… nice? Or stupid?"
Malik huffed with the exertion of carrying the other boy. "Both, actually."
"…oh." A pause, and his head lolled. "Can you tell me what it was?"
Malik gritted his teeth, in no mood for playing games. "You tore up Ra."
"And it released him into the physical world."
"Pharaoh's coming," Bakura said flatly, ignoring his turn-around use of the respectful title.
"Is this everyone?" Yami asked, landing next to Marik and looking at the last of the people leaving the city. Joey, Serenity, and Geoff were anxiously lifting an unconscious Mai into the waiting arms of the intimidating Jinzo, who cradled her carefully and took off at a swift pace through the city. Joey grasped Serenity's hand and began to follow him out.
"Impossible to tell," Bakura admitted. "There are simply too many. More are leaving by the back entrance."
"Let us hope our friends got out safely," Yami said grimly, turning his attention back to Marik. "Now! Winged Dragon, Guardian of the Fortress!"
The blue Monster appeared, crouching low on the ground. "Malik and Ryou, you should ride with him," Yami suggested. The two frightened boys nodded mutely and Bakura helped them on, handing up Marik after them.
"Don't drop him," Bakura suggested with a note of irony in his voice.
Malik nodded and clutched onto Marik's arm determinedly. Ryou gave a frightened squeak and closed his eyes as the Winged Dragon spread its wings and began to fly upward swiftly, heading out of the city for the open desert.
"We've decided to regroup in the desert," Yami informed Bakura, reaching for his deck. "Kaiba is getting Mokuba and the others."
"Here, let me," Bakura said, shaking his head and reaching for his own deck. "Gear Golem!" he commanded roughly, and a strange-looking Monster appeared. "The Moving Fortress!" Indeed, this Monster was covered in metal spikes and gears. Bakura shoved Yami onto Gear Golem's back, and climbed up himself, and unbelievably this steel beast rose into the air and started flying at high speed after Winged Dragon.
Hours later, the city lay empty. The sun had nearly gone, casting everything in shadow but for that one bright ball in the sky. Far away, thousands of eyes in the desert watched anxiously as Ra still struggled to emerge.
The lawn was littered with corpses, stone rubble, and- in the very center- a forgotten golden trinket. The Millennium Rod lay carelessly on the grass. Slowly, lazily, something shuffled up to it. This small being had been making its way slowly across the ground in search of heat ever since the temperature had begun to drop, and after the people with the trampling feet had all gone. Finding the Millennium Rod to still hold a nice, cozy glow, the grey lizard settled down atop the rounded surface, preparing to sleep for the night and perhaps find food in the morning.
And with a roar, the heavens tore open. Ra, still smoldering, set foot upon the earth for the first time in five thousand years.