DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.

Hearts, Souls and Shadows
Chapter 1: Concerns of the Sons

By Shadow's Mirror

The magician leaned over the thin band of silver lying on his workbench, peering at it through his magnifying lens and muttering to himself. "Yes. Yes. This looks good. The spells are holding within it this time. I'm close. This is the one. I can feel it. This time I will succeed."

The door at the other end of the room creaked open and the magician waved one hand, not needing to look to know who had entered his sanctuary. At this time of night, there was only one it could be. "Come in, my son! Come and witness your father's finest achievement!"

The tall youth, who looked to be in his mid-teens, came forward slowly. His father frowned slightly as he heard the hesitation in his son's footsteps. "What's this? You doubt me?"

"No father. I do not doubt you. Nor do I doubt your power." As his father smiled at the words, the youth sighed and continued. "But I doubt the men who have asked you to do this. I do not think they are who they claim to be. I think their words false and their intent nothing more than deception." He finished in a rush as his father whirled, glaring angrily at him.

The magician placed his lens carefully on his workbench before he began walking towards his son, his stern gaze locked with the boy's anxious eyes. "Am I not a mighty magician? Have I not served our beloved Pharaoh faithfully in all the years of his reign? Did I not serve his father with equal faithfulness? Did my father not serve his father, and his father before him? Has our family not always been known for the faithful loyalty that we show to our Pharaoh? And yet now… you… my oldest son… you, who I should be proudest of… you, who will one day, Gods will it, take my place as magician to the Pharaoh… You would have me turn away from my duty to our Pharaoh? And for what? Your belief that it is not the Pharaoh's will that I do, but that of another?"

He stopped directly in front of the boy, his eyes burning into his son's as the youth refused to look away. The bright blue of the boy's eyes remained unwavering and, for a moment, the magician doubted his convictions. But it was only for a moment, and then he silently cursed his son for creating that doubt.

His voice remained as calm and as soft as it had since he'd begun speaking. But now it was laced with bitterness and anger. "Do you truly believe me to be so old and feeble-minded that I no longer recognise the man who is head advisor to the Pharaoh? He came himself to give me this commission. He told me that no other has the skills I have. The skills our Pharaoh needs. And you would have me refuse he whom we have vowed to serve?"

His hand lashed out, catching his son across the cheek with enough force to snap the boy's head to the side. "Be gone from my sight! I do not wish to see you here again! Not until you are willing to forget this foolish nonsense!" Turning, he strode back to his work.

Holding his stinging cheek with his hand, the magician's son silently turned and left the room. Once outside he bowed his head and glanced back at the closed door. "No, Father. I do not believe you to be old and feeble-minded. I believe that you want to believe his words are true, and so you deny the truth that your heart tries to show you." His whispered words were balm for the wounds on his heart that were far deeper than the mark on his face.

Sighing, the youth started down the hall. He was passing the shadowed alcove at the end of the passage when a soft voice came from within the darkness. "Big brother?"

The youth turned, a slight smile on his face as the shadows stirred and the pale face of his younger brother came into view. "What are you doing up at this late hour? You should be asleep."

The boy, who appeared to be about ten years old, shrugged and sighed. "Our sisters keep talking and I cannot sleep until they stop."

"Ah. Tell me, my brother, what pearls of wisdom have our sisters brought back from the market this day?" He sat on the narrow seat beside the boy.

"Who has fallen in love. Who has betrayed her family's honour and married beneath her station. Who will be wearing what to the next feast day. The usual. Except… They said the Pharaoh won another Shadow Game today."

"Yes. I heard that also."

"He… is very powerful, is he not?"

"He is. As he should be. His strength keeps Egypt strong. His power ensures that we remain at peace. As long as Egypt is at peace, so too is the peace of the Shadow Realm assured."

The boy nodded and was silent for a moment before he spoke again. "Then why would the Pharaoh seek what his advisor claims he seeks? What need would the Pharaoh have for something that can give him only the power he already possesses?" He turned to his brother and reached up to lightly trace the outline of their father's hand, still visible on the older boy's cheek. "Why can Father not see the truth that you and I can see so clearly?"

The youth sighed and shook his head. "I do not know, my brother. All I know is that, unless Father sees the Pharaoh's Advisor for the power-hungry man he truly is, he will complete his task. If that happens… If such an object should fall into such evil hands… I fear, not only for the fate of the Pharaoh, but for all of Egypt, for the world beyond, and even for the Shadow Realm itself."

To be continued…