The Puzzle in the Puzzle

CHAPTER 1: "Why is it so BLOODY DARK!?"              

It was not going well.  To say the least. Yami Marik had sent Mai to the shadow realm, and Odeon and Bakura were unconscious.  But then, that was partially his fault – Yami's fault, Yugi's fault.  But what else could they have done?  Little did Yugi know that as he tossed restlessly, unable to sleep, Yami Bakura was dueling Yami Marik; that the real Marik was sharing Bakura's body through the power of the ring; that in a few minutes they would all three disappear, and that soon things would get interesting…

            "Yami?" Yugi stopped his uneasy movements, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling.

            "Yes, Yugi?  You should get some rest." The spirit gently admonished him.  This battle was a long way from over.

            "I know." Yugi sighed, "but how can I when that other Marik is here?  He's evil." The teen shuddered.

            "Yes," Yami agreed solemnly, "I just wish I knew who he was.  I feel somehow I should."   Yami would have sighed, had he not felt it would have disturbed the small teen even more.  He placed a hand over Yugi's shoulder. "Get some sleep, or we've no hope of defeating him."

            Yugi did fall into a restless sleep.  But it was soon interrupted as a wave of something darkly powerful ran through both he and Yami.  He jolted awake and Yami appeared.  It was shadow realm magic, of that he was certain.  Yugi shot up out of bed, grabbing his coat as he did so.

            "Something is wrong we have to-" Yugi's body crumpled to the floor as he passed out, but Yami was unable to take over and prevent his body from falling – he had passed out as well.

***

            *THUNK*

            "Ow!"

            "Who was that?" A voice demanded suspiciously.

            "Me!" the first person responded, his voice low and husky with pain.  Whatever he had run into it was going to leave a mark.

            "Who is me?" the angry voice demanded again.

            "Forget that," a third voice joined in, it was raspy yet oddly powerful, "Why is it so bloody dark!?"

            "Well perhaps – ooff!" the man uttered a curse as he once again ran into something.

            "Terribly sorry!" the cultured, quiet, voice was truly apologetic; the soft British lilt, coupled with that apology, betrayed his identity even in the dark. 

               Yugi stirred and opened his eyes slowly, moaning in pain – his head felt like it'd been hit with a bulldozer.  Gradually the pain decreased until it was a mere whisper in his mind. That's when he noticed he had other problems.  He blinked several times.  Why couldn't he see anything?  Where was he, and who was making all that noise?

            "Yami?" he called tentatively.

            "I'm here Yugi," the spirit assured him.  His voice sounded close.  That was a plus.

            Yugi turned toward the voice, "Oh good.  Could you tell me where here is?  Because my eyes don't seem to be working."

            The conversation had drawn the attention of the others in the room.  After all, someone had finally revealed their name! 

            "Yugi? Is that you?" the British boy asked, hope flavoring his words with a bit of excitement.  There was someone normal in here with him!

            Yugi's head shot up in the dark, "Bakura?" he said in surprise, "But you're-"

            "Bakura!!!" the raspy voice was raised so loud it echoed off the walls, well, Yugi assumed this place had walls.  It echoed just the same, and it was frighteningly familiar.

            "But, aren't you Bakura?" another of the voices spoke up, this was the voice of the man who had been injured – twice.  It held a familiar undercurrent of superiority or mocking.  He addressed the rasper.

            "Of course fool!" he snapped back.

            Yami was getting a sinking feeling in his gut, as was Yugi, he knew all of those voices.  The question was… how were they all here?  Together? And where was here? What was going on?  Bakura was supposed to be unconscious, and besides, both Bakuras couldn't be in the same place at once – could they? 

            But then, he and Yugi were apparently in the same place at once.  What was happening?

            "Where are the lights!?" An angry voice yelled.  Yami almost flinched; it was the voice of the other Marik, the evil one, the spirit.  He had thought so.  Was the real Marik here as well?  But wasn't he in the Shadow Realm?

            "I wouldn't tell you if I knew thief!" An even angrier voice spat.  Well that answered Yami's question.  That had definitely been the real Marik.

            "Careful," Yami Bakura warned, "I might take offense.  Comparing that fool to me!"

            "Who's the fool? You lost the duel." Yami Marik scoffed.

            "Duel?" Yugi's innocent voice piped up with concern.  "What duel?"

            "Our Shadow duel." Yami Marik's voice held a cold pleasure.

            "Excuse me." Bakura spoke up. "Shouldn't we be looking for a light?"

            As if cued, a small light began to glow.  It expanded until it revealed the one who held it.

            "Shadi!" Yami had sensed a familiar presence, but was still surprised.  He had not expected Shadi to be here.

            "My Pharaoh." Shadi inclined his head in respect.

            Both Mariks and Yami Bakura snorted.  The other two ignored them, but Bakura looked confused.

            "Shadi, do you know where we are?" Yami asked.

             Shadi nodded, "Yes.  And so do you."

            Yami's brow furrowed.  No he didn't.  He had no idea where they were.  He felt… disoriented.  Shadi saw his confusion and stepped away.  They watched in silence as he walked further away.  As he passed by troches sprang to life.  Their flickering revealed walls of sand colored stone and bits of staircases.

            "Yami," Yugi gasped, "this looks like-"

            "Yes." The spirit said solemnly, "it appears we are within the puzzle."  And at his words the entire room lit as though in daylight.  They were standing in a large, clear area, but it was the only flat ground in the room.  Surrounding them were stairs and doorways without number; most of which were not properly oriented.  Many were side-ways, others appeared to be upside-down.  It reminded Bakura of a painting he had once seen.

            "Where are we?" the British boy asked in wonder.

            Marik snorted, "Obviously we are inside the Millennium puzzle.  The question is, how did we get here?"

            "I believe I know why that fool and I are here," the ancient thief punctuated the word fool by pointing at his better half. "When our body disappeared I sought refuge here, and I evidently pulled him along with me."

            "Our body?" Bakura asked in disbelief, "Don't you mean my body?"

            "No!" his yami snapped, "but we could make it my body, and I could dispose of you entirely filthy mortal." Bakura looked taken aback.  So this was how his yami behaved.  He shuddered.

            "You always say that as though you were never mortal." Yugi commented thoughtfully.

            Yami Bakura looked disgusted, "I was never a normal mortal." He spat.

            A vague memory stirred in Yami's mind.  Yes, that was true, he was certain of it, but how did he know that?  The memory slipped away.

            "That probably explains how I got here as well," Marik put in, "After all, I was sharing that vessel," he indicated Bakura, "through the power of the ring."

            Bakura looked uncomfortable, he didn't like being referred to as a 'vessel', as though he were merely an empty shell with no will of his own and no purpose but their use.  "You were in my body too?" he asked weakly.

            "That's what I said." The Egyptian boy said rudely.

            Bakura's eyes widened, "What was I doing?" he inquired quietly, almost to himself.

            "You were unconscious." Yugi said kindly.

            "Oh-"

            "That doesn't explain how Shadi and that man ended up here." Yami couldn't bring himself to refer to the false Marik by name so he nodded toward the spirit.  Yami Marik was leaning against a wall looking a little angry, but then, he always seemed to look angry.  That or maliciously happy.

            "That is indeed a puzzle." Shadi's gaze was without expression, "And one to which I have no answer."

            Yami managed to mask his surprise, but Yugi did not.  The small teen's eyes widened, "You don't?"

            Shadi shook his head, "I have no answer." He repeated.

            "I guess the real question is, how do we get out of here?" Bakura mused.

            "Yes," Yami agreed.

            "It's your puzzle, don't you know?" Marik snapped, pulling his glare away from Yami Marik and directing it toward the five thousand year old pharaoh.

            "It doesn't work like that fool." Yami Bakura said with a scowl.

            Now Marik turned his glare toward Yami Bakura, but the ancient thief was far from deterred.

            "Don't glare at me" he snapped, "- you just lost our Shadow duel, nearly sending me into oblivion!"

            "How was I to know he had that card?" Marik defended.

            "You knew it was a possibility; you should have told me about Ra's weakness before the duel began." Yami Bakura growled menacingly.

            Yugi shifted uncomfortably as the Egyptian teen and the spirit argued.  He and Bakura exchanged worried glances.  Bakura had never seen Marik or Yami Marik, and the spirit of the ring was unfamiliar to him as well, despite the fact that they shared his body.

            Bakura tried to remember all he knew about the spirit, but found there wasn't much.  Tristan had once said the ring made him act 'all weird', but no one had ever told him exactly what had happened.  Now he had an inkling.  The spirit of the ring was not a nice person.

            "Watch your tongue mortal-" Yami Bakura's voice had gone dangerously low and quiet.  The look in his eyes was murderous.  Bakura wasn't sure what the blond boy had said, but it appeared it might cost him his life.

            "That's enough," Yami stepped toward them warningly.

            "Stay out of this Pharaoh!" snapped the thief.

            Yami refused to back down, "We need to find a way out of here.  And we can only do that by working together." He continued firmly.  Yugi was amazed at how calm he was.

            "Ha!" Yami Bakura scoffed, "we can get along well enough without him." He moved menacingly toward Marik, who didn't even have the intelligence to back away.

            "Bakura!" Yami's voice rose and he grabbed the ancient thief lightly by one arm.  Bakura jumped, thinking at first that the spirit was referring to him.  He quickly realized Yami meant the other Bakura.

            Yami Bakura's eyes narrowed to mere slits as he focused on Yami's hand on his arm.  "Release me." He hissed.

            Yami made no move to comply. "We have to work together." He repeated calmly.

            For long seconds the pharaoh and the thief stared at one another coldly.  Then Yami Bakura yanked his arm away.

            "I'll find my own way out." If he could escape without the rest it might give him control over Yugi's body.

            The others watched in silence as the angry thief stalked across the room.  He placed his hand on a door with the millennium symbol on it.  Suddenly Yami stirred.  He stepped forward, reaching out a hand as if he could physically stop the spirit even though they were far apart.

            "Bakura no!" he warned, "Don't open that-" but it was too late.  Yami Bakura stepped through the door and dropped out of sight.

            "No!" Yugi dropped to his knees.

            Even Marik started.  After all, he didn't know for certain how he had come to be here.  But if it was because of Yami Bakura, if a connection had somehow been created, then he might disappear when the spirit did.

            "Bakura." Tears streamed down Yugi's face, they could be heard in his voice.

            "Quit crying and help me!"  Yami Bakura's voice sounded distant.

            "What!?" Yugi jumped to his feet and cautiously approached the spot where the thief had disappeared.  Clinging to the edge of the now missing floor was Yami Bakura.

            "You're alive!" Yugi said joyfully.

            "Yes," snapped the dangling yami. "But I won't be for long if someone doesn't help me!"

            Bakura approached and together he and Yugi pulled Yami Bakura up.  For a few moments he just lay on the ground panting.  Then he looked up at Yami murderously.

            "Don't be angry at me.  I tried to warn you." Yami said with a touch of amusement.

            Yami Bakura stood and brushed the wrinkles out of his clothes. "Well, next time warn me better."

            "It's not as though you would have listened." Marik pointed out. He would never admit it, but he was relieved the spirit was alright.

            "Keep quiet fool." Yami Bakura snapped.

            Yami Marik began to laugh, a low, deep, chuckle that grew into nearly maniacal laughter.  The others turned slowly to look at him.

            "What is wrong with you?" Yami Bakura growled.

            "Fool!" the yami laughed harder, "I thought you were a thief, a tomb robber.  You more than anyone should know about traps."

            Yami Bakura clenched a fist, but, having learned his lesson only moments before, restrained himself.  He turned his back to Yami Marik and found himself facing a confused Bakura.

            "WHAT!?" Now he was just plain exasperated.

            Bakura gulped, but gathered his courage, "Could someone please explain all this to me?"

~~~~~~~~~~

Soooo… what do you think?  Hmmm?  Let me know by reviewing.  Do you like it?  If you do, visit my site www.exclamationanimetion.com it's a work in progress so be nice.  And if the buttons won't work, or you can't see the navigation, I'm trying to fix it.  It should be all better by 02/14/04.  Oh, and FYI  reenas_as and reenas-as are both me.  For some reason FF.net won't allow the _ (underscore) in my pen name, but it will in my reviews (*shrug*) whatever.

            Oh, this story has six chapters I think.  I post twice a month, so that's three months to the end.  But if you want to read it before then… I post all my stories in completion on my site before I start posting chapters on FF.net .  You can always go there to read them, and check out the rest while you're at it.  I have lots of stories!  And you could send me stories or give me permission to post your FF.net stories as well.  You'd get full credit!  But I do edit spelling… 

            Review!  See you next chappie!

~~~~~~~

Slightly edited, I just let Yugi catch some shut eye before being dragged into the puzzle.  It was important for later (which is why I try to have the entire sotry finished before I post.  I hate to change things on you! – which reminds me… gotta chance this on my personal site as well…)