The Thief

By The Inspector

Disclaimer:  I do not own the Yugioh characters.  And I do not own the original idea of 'The Thief.'  This story is largely based on the book of the same name by Megan Whalen Turner.  Much of the plot and some of the lines are taken directly from the original story.  I loved the book so much that I wanted to write it with my own twists and with the Yugioh characters.  Ms. Turner, I mean no disrespect by doing this story.  I am making no profit in any way.  If this story or I offend you in any way, please let me know and I will remove this story.  Honestly, I mean no offense.  I love 'The Thief.'  It's my favorite book and have read it so many times that the book is starting to fall apart.  I am NOT plagiarizing.

~The Inspector

Note: The story takes place in an imaginary area that exists near Greece.  The three countries in this area are Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia.

And I will be using the names of the Egyptian gods, even though they are not in Egypt.

Kura is of course, our Yami no Bakura.

~~~~~

Kura didn't know exactly how long he'd been in the King's Prison.  Time seemed to pass differently here.  Everything was the monotonously the same, expect that he seemed dirtier with each passing day.  Day light only reached the barred window of his second story cell in a weak yellow imitation and at night the darkness was complete.  With every passing day, Kura promised himself that he was one day closer to getting out. 

He was a lot thinner now, but the metal circle around his waist still wasn't loose enough to fit over his bony hips.  The other chains around his wrists and ankles could be pulled off at will, had been from day one in the prison, but sometimes they had to forced on quickly and all the rubbing of metal against skin created sores and before long it just hurt less to leave them on. 

Kura spent a lot of his time going over his memories, examining them and holding onto the pleasant ones.  He reviewed over and over the plans that had seemed so foolproof before he was thrown in jail and swore to himself and every god he knew that if he made it out of the jail alive he'd never never never take such abysmally stupid risks again. 

It had been early spring when he'd been arrested outside the Old Oak Wineshop.  Kura wasn't sure, but he figured it had to be early to middle summer by now.

Of course, in the cold, damp prison, the seasons' change didn't effect anything.  The only things in Kura's cell with were a wooden board and moth eaten blanket that served as his bed, the chains he wore, a chamber pot, and twice a day, food.  Oh, and of course the regular prison companions.  He had named the big black rat Mr. Paws.

Sometimes, when he got really bored, Kura would move around the cell as much as he chains would allow, trying not to make a sound, and look out into the courtyard when some of the prisoners got to go during the day. 

In the time before the invaders came, the prison had been a market place, each cell a stall for merchants to sell their wears.  The invades had preferred to do their business down by the waterfront and had turned the marketplace as a place to hold the formerly prominent members of the city.  Eventually the people of Sounis had revolted against the invaders, took back their land, and put their own King in power.  The new King had been content to keep using the old marketplace as a prison and the people continued their commerce at the waterfront. 

By the time Kura had even entered the prison, most people had forgotten that it ever had any other purpose than a holding pen for the country's criminals, those that couldn't pay their taxes, and the people that the King didn't like.

Kura was lying on his back in his cell, debating which would be better; food you didn't have to close your eyes to eat or clean clothes, when the door to his cell suddenly opened without warning.  Caught by surprise and nearly blinded by the light from the lamp, Kura almost fell off his bed, looking anything but impressive. 

"Are you sure he's the one?" a voice asked skeptically from beyond the light.

"Yes, magus," the guard with the light replied.

Kura hauled himself to his feet.  The King's magus was the most important adviser to the King.  In ancient times the people had believed that the magus was a kind of sorcerer with great magical powers.  Not even the lowest of the poor believed that any more. 

The magus was a scholar.  He read books and scrolls in every language and studied everything that had ever been written, and then some.  If the King wanted to know how much money could be made from an acre of wheat, the magus knew that.  If he wanted to know, however unlikely, how many people would starve if he burned that acre of wheat, the magus knew that too. 

The magus's knowledge, coupled with his powers of persuasion, gave him power over the King and made him a powerful figure at court.

Kura had seen the magus at his trial.  He was young for a magus, his brown hair without a trace of grey.  His blue eyes made him seem older than he probably was and Kura guessed that the magus was only a few years older than himself.

"Bring him," the magus said, and Kura found himself being dragged out of the cell and down the hall looking just as graceful as a sick cat.

They walked for a long time, it seemed to Kura.  He was dragged past the other cells and into a finer part of the building that was tastefully decorated until they finally stopped outside a heavy door.  The magus knocked once and then let himself in, the guards dragging Kura after him 

In side the room the sudden and bright light seared Kura's eyes and as they smarted and stung he blinked fiercely, trying to adjust.  He heard the magus moving over by the large desk and slowly he opened his eyes and looked around the room.  He didn't see anyone else.  In his chest, his heart began to speed up with excitement.  But he also felt deathly tired.

When the two guards on his sides let go of him, Kura swayed for a moment as if drunk and nearly fell before he caught his balance on the back of a nearly chair.  The chains still on his wrists and ankles clanked nosily.

"You may go," the magus said to the guards.  "Return in half an hour."

Kura's hopes, which had been rising a little since he had left the cell, fell.  Half an hour wasn't a long time.  With a sigh, he sank into the chair he had caught his balance on and sank into the feathered pillows on the seat and the back of the chair.  It felt almost as nice as clean clothes.

The magus's face darkened.  "Get up," he commanded in a tone that that bore no room for arguing.

But Kura only settled more fully into the seat.  He was tired, felt like shit, and what little he had eaten recently seemed to be churning in his stomach, trying to decide if it should make a second appearance.

The magus moved over until he was looming over Kura.  "You and I might someday attain a relationship of mutual respect," he said, his eyes burning into Kura's.  "Until then, I shall have your obedience."

Kura marveled at the magus's ability to convey a threat that would turn most men into quivering babies in so few words.  But his legs wouldn't lift him.  So the magus's threat be damned.

At least the magus seemed to realized that there was no way Kura was able to get up on his own and turned away in disgust.  "Never mind," he said waving Kura back as if he had tried to get up.  "You might as well stay there.  The seat would have to be cleaned even if you did get up now."

Kura felt his face grow warm and he grit his teeth together.  It wasn't his fault that he stunk.  He highly doubted that if the magus spent several months in the King's Prison he'd still smell like soap and book dust.

The magus watched Kura for several minutes, clearly unimpressed with the young, thin thief with red eyes and hair that had a frosted brown color.

"I am Seto Kaiba," he said at last, "the King's Magus.  I saw you at your trial."

Kura didn't reply.

"You've gotten thinner."

Kura shrugged.  Prison food did that to you.  It's called near starvation, idiot.

"Tell me," Kaiba said, "are you reluctant to leave the King's hospitality?  If I recall correctly, you claimed at your trial that not even this prison could hold you.  I almost expected to find you gone by now."  Kaiba was clearly enjoying himself.

Kura crossed his legs and wiggled deeper into the chair, making Kaiba wince.  "Some things take time," Kura said with another shrug.

"True," Kaiba agreed.  "And just how much more time to do you believe you will require?"

'About half an hour,' Kura thought to himself.  But he didn't say that to Kaiba.

"I believe that it's going to take a long time," Kaiba said, "the rest of your life, most likely.  After all, when you're dead you won't be in the prison any longer."

Kura scowled.  He didn't find Kaiba very funny.  "I suppose not," Kura ground out.

"An idle boast then," Kabia said, pretending to look bored.  "You boasted about a great deal at your trial."

"I can steal anything," Kura replied promptly.

"Yes, so you claimed," Kaiba returned.  "It was a bet on that ability that got you here."  He crossed his arms across his chest and shrugged.  "Such a shame that intelligence does not accompany such talents.  However, it is your skill and not you mind that I need.  That is, if you are as good as you claim."

Kura, trying not to appear over excited, repeated as calmly as he could, "I can steal anything."

"Except, of course, yourself out of this prison," Kaiba returned, leaning against his desk and raising an eyebrow.

Kura shrugged, he seemed to be doing a lot of that recently.  And he could steal himself out, eventually, but he wanted Kaiba to propose a faster way.

"I see that you're learning how to keep your mouth shut," Kaiba said, pushing away from the desk and walking across the room.  "That's something at least."

With Kaiba's back turned to him, Kura took a quick look around the room.  It was Kaiba's study, but Kura had already known that.  Every wall was covered with shelves that were stuffed past the brimming point with books and scrolls.  Any space on the shelves not containing books was occupied by glass bottles, jars, and clay containers.  At the far end of the room was a curtained alcove and a barely visible pare of boots under the curtain.

"You could shorten your time here without cutting short you life."

Kura jumped in his seat and turned back around to look at Kaiba.  He had somewhere lost track of what Kaiba has been saying and it took him a second to recover.  "Go on," Kura said.

"I want you to steal something."

Kura relaxed as he noted the nervousness in Kaiba's posture.  "Do you want the King's Seal?" Kura asked with a smirk.  "I can get you that."

Kaiba's eyes flashed.  "I'd stop bragging about that, if I were you," he snapped.

Kura only snickered in response.  The King's Seal, a gold ring with an engraved ruby, had been in Kaiba's possession when Kura has stolen it.  Kura was sure that losing the seal had hurt Kaiba's standing in the King's court.

"There's something I want you to steal," Kaiba said, finished playing little games with the thief.  "Get it for me or not, I will make sure that you do not end up back in prison."

Kura rolled his eyes, ignoring the subtle death threat tagged onto his possible failure.  He only cared about one thing.  "What am I stealing?"

"It doesn't matter," Kaiba said, dismissing Kura's question with a wave of his hand.  "I just need to make sure that you've not become permanently damaged by you time in prison."

"I'm fine," Kura ground out through clenched teeth.  "But I need to know what I'm supposed to be stealing."

"It's none of your concern," Kaiba replied.

"What if I can't steal it?"

"I thought you could steal anything," Kaiba taunted.

"Anything except myself out of this prison," Kura replied sweetly.  Frankly, he was surprised that Kaiba didn't slap him across the face for that one.

"Don't try to be smart," Kaiba instructed.  "You don't pretend well."

Kura, offended, open his mouth to say something that he shouldn't say in polite company, but Kaiba cut him off.

"We will have to travel a bit to reach my item.  You can learn about it as we go."

Travel.  The word resounded through Kura's mind.  If he could just get outside the city of Sounis he'd be free; no one could bring him back.

"Don't think I'm a fool," Kaiba said, knowing exactly what Kura was thinking.

Kura resisted smiling.  Kaiba was no fool, but he didn't have Kura's motivation.  Kura was just about to thank the gods for finally listening to his prayers, when he heard the metal rings of the curtain slid across the bar and remember the pair of feet he had seen in the alcove.

Determined footsteps crossed the room and a hand came over the chair and grabbed Kura's hair.  "Don't think that I am a fool either," the King said, coming around the front.

He was short, just like his father had been, and his hair defied the very science of gravity.  His eyes were violet and held nothing but cold arrogance.  His hair, all three colors of it, made Kura think of the old legends that his mother had told him when he was little; stories about gods that controlled thunder and lightening.

Kura felt his hair pulling free from his head and he rose up on his toes, trying to relieve the strain.  If he had been at his full strength he would have just gotten up and kicked the snot out of King Yami.  But no, he had to feel as weak at a half downed kitten.

Suddenly Yami let go and Kura fell to the floor with a thump, his legs folding under him.  Kura rubbed his poor head and pressed down on his hair, trying to force it back into his scalp.

Yami looked at Kura in disgust and wiped his hand on the front of his clothes.  "Get up," he snarled.

Kura cursed under his breath and hauled himself to his feet.  The King of Sounis did not intimidate him.  For the love of the gods, the King was shorter than Kura and only a year or so older than his magus.  In a fair fight, Kura could kick his ass.  Of course, Yami would never fight fair.  Kings didn't seem to know the meaning of that word.

Still, King Yami was a shrewd leader.  He routinely doubled taxes and kept a large army to stop rebellion from his citizens.  The taxes then supported the army and when it got too powerful, he'd send them off to fight their neighbors.  It had been King Yami's father who had driven the Attolians out of the land on the Sounis side of the Horusial Mountains, pushing them through Eddis and back to the Attolian homeland on the far side.  The rumors were that King Yami wanted to finish what his father had started and claim that part of Attolia too and that the Attolians were preparing for an all-out war.

Brushing past Kaiba, Yami picked up a box on the desk and tipped the contents out.  A cascade of heavy gold coins.  Just one would buy a family's farm and all their livestock.

Kura shrugged and crossed his arms, keeping his twitchy fingers to himself.  "My uncle used to keep that much hidden under his bed.  He'd count it every night."

"Liar," Yami sneered.  "You've never seen so much gold in one place in your entire, pathetic life."

Kura only smiled and declined to inform the King that he'd spent several days creeping through his palace and had fallen asleep in the ceiling above his treasure room.

Yami gestured back to the pile of gold on the table.  "This is what I'm offering to anyone who brings you to me if you fail to recover what you're being sent for."

Kura frowned.  There was no way he could outrun a reward like that.  He'd be hunted from one end of the world to the other.  See?  Unfair.

"Alive or dead, it doesn't really matter to me," Yami continued, studying his nails, "But I'd prefer you alive."

Kura tried to shut out the grisly, gory examples of what Yami would do to him, but he was mesmerized like a mouse in front of a cat.

Kabia sat on the edge of his desk, not nervous any longer.  It was clear that the King supported his plan and that he believed that the King's threats would keep Kura in his place.

When he was finally returned to his cell, Kura found it seemed warmer and safer in comparison to the magus's study.  Grumbling as the guards locked the chain back around his waist, Kura dumped the King's threats out of his head.  They were too unpleasant to dwell on anyway and he concentrated instead on the fact that he would be leaving the prison.  With that thought in mind, Kura made himself as comfortable as possible and fell asleep.

~TBC