A Note From the Authorial Figures: Alright - this takes place in ancient Egypt, during the time when Yami was Pharaoh, and Yami Bakura (hereby known as Barak) ran rampant through the streets of Cairo. This story is our version of the events leading up to the final confrontation between the two half-brothers...And the rating is subject to change. Enjoy!
Barak & Tola: The Untold Story
By Invaders Sam & Shaun
Pharaoh Yami II unfurled the scroll of the morning reports, as he sat down to break his nightly fast in the royal meal hall. His queen, Dedi, sat at his right hand, distractedly eating while her main attention was on him. His brow creased and she asked, "What is it?"
"Another convoy has been raided," he huffed irritably, "The smoke was seen four shadows after dawn coming from the position their last messenger relayed. Our scouts barely looked at the scene before setting out to find the bandits," the mightiest ruler of Egypt threw his information aside, a foul mood befalling him. It was the fourth time in less than a quarter season trade caravans headed for Cairo had met this fate.
"It seems we're always one shadow too late," Dedi sighed, "Perhaps some of our own military could be spared to use as escorts to the caravans?"
"It is too great a risk to the country for them to abandon their posts around my people and their cities," he tapped a finger on the table, pondering, "And they are still trying to track down the Temple Raider. I dare not unleash the power of the Gods with both High Magi Seti and the holder of the Millennium Ring at large." The more he spoke of his current situation, the darker his frame of mind became. It was a difficult time to be Pharaoh. The fact that the summer months dragged on and made living conditions uncomfortable did not help, "My peoples' happiness and prosperity is the most important thing right now. What men I can spare will be looking for the raiders first."
Dedi nodded solemnly, when she had agreed to marry Yami she had known there would be difficult times, but she had not realized to what extent. She accepted them, and was grateful her husband allowed her into his confidence, but all the same, she couldn't help but pray that better times were coming. "I understand," I only hope the bandits can be located before any more of our civilians are placed in danger. The dessert is such a lonely place to die…"
* * *
The wreckage from the latest attack left much to be desired to the eye. Not that it mattered. The raiders were idiots. They would take what was large and shiny and be on their way. They always left the diamonds in the rough. Barak slid down off of his weather-worn horse, surveying the scene. The desert sun blazed away, attempting to make him retreat from the scene. The blood-stained, dirtied gray cloak he wore clung to his back from the sweat his body produced. He let down his hood, beginning towards the ruined and smoldering wagons at a leisurely pace. The Millennium Ring around his neck shone brilliantly, the only garment amongst his possessions not tainted by his particular…profession.
The smell of burned wood and flesh smothered him as he moved about the remains, examining everything. From his cloak, he drew a draw-string sack and began to fill it with what trifles he could recover. There was no food of course – there never was. But there were jewels on the dead bodies that had not been damaged by the now dying flames. He picked his way through the caravan, overturning wagons as he went. One wagon in particular revealed beneath it a young woman, whose body had been protected from the fires the bandits had lit.
He knelt beside her lifeless form. Her hair was a shining brown, her skin smudged with clay and soot. Her thin figure was draped in a cloak a bit less dirtied than his own, and around her neck was an exquisite piece of jade carved into a scarab. Eyes shining with greed, and appreciation for the finer things in life, he reached for it.
The woman's hand shot up instantly and caught his. He stopped, staring at her wide-eyed, having taken her for dead. Her eyes flickered open for a split second before she lost consciousness again. 'It was a reflex…' he thought as her grip loosened and her hand dropped to the sand. Apparently the bandits had missed one. 'Idiots…' He yanked the necklace off of her and tossed it into his bag with the rest of his things. Then he got to his feet, slinging the sack over his shoulder and heading back to where his horse stood waiting.
The thief began tying the pack to his animal's saddle. It whined softly, shifting its hooves on the burning desert sand in protest. Barak growled irritably, "None of the others ever complained this much. I certainly won't miss you once you're dead," he told the horse, climbing up onto it. Travel animals (between his harsh ownership and the desert conditions) never lasted long. Not that it really mattered. If they died, it was a simple task to steal another. People were always so careless with their valuables.
He shifted his grip on the reins and mistakenly took one last look at the wreckage. The body of the lone survivor was still clearly visible, the soft brown hair being lifted up by the dessert breeze. With a snort, he jerked the reins and the beast moved off at an easy pace. He did not get far, however.
Cursing himself for his "bleeding heart" (he always was such the softy), Barak hopped down off of his animal and trekked back over to the girl. He picked her up with one arm and hoisted her over his shoulder. Once she was able to traverse on her own, his cave wouldn't have to be burdened by the likes of this filth.
* * *
Tola awoke to the smells and sounds of burning wood. Her last memory being the sight of a team of bandits on horseback galloping over the hill towards the caravan, she sat up sharply. Instantly she regretted her hasty move. Whatever she had been lying on had been unstable, and her sudden movement had caused it to capsize, sending her sprawling onto a hard rock surface. Her head throbbing, she moaned and sat up for a second time, massaging her temple. 'Where am I…? I remember we were being raided…but what happened after that?'
She looked around, she was in a cave of some kind, its walls were lit by the flickering flames she had smelled. Her gaze traveled to the fire, and she could make out a figure hunched over in front of it. A bandit, perhaps? But they never traveled alone. He hadn't heard her ungraceful return to the world of the wakeful, or if he had, he was ignoring it. As her eyes grew more adjusted to the dim light, she could see he was sorting through a bag of what had to be jewels. She drew her legs under herself as she watched him, not knowing if she should try to speak with him. Judging by the amount of stolen goods that littered the cave, he might have been a member of the bandits after all. Perhaps the others had left him to watch her – see that she didn't escape.
Barak was examining the necklace she had been wearing. The light of the fire shone on it brilliantly, making it seem almost life-like. The girl had fallen out of his sleep-hammock. Idiot, "You're awake," he said finally, breaking the silence of his home, "I was beginning to wonder whether I was mistaken in my belief that you were alive."
He was no bandit. His speech was too perfected, not anything like the course dialect of the raiders. She spotted her necklace in his hands and wanted to demand that it be returned to her, but instead only asked, "Who are you?"
The man scowled at her, his dark brown eyes seeming almost to glow in the light of the conflagration, "Does it really matter?" He stood erect, walking over to a large pile of bags and tossed the latest one in, his dirtied, cut-up fingers still twirling the necklace between them.
Her lips pursed as she felt the ever increasing desire to reclaim her property. "I only wish to know whether to call you kidnapper or rescuer," she told him simply, her hands twisting the skirt of her cloak distractedly.
"Unless you call dragging your burning carcass from that wreckage kidnapping, I presume you'll call me your rescuer," Barak told her, returning to the fire to watch the dead jackal he was cooking over it.
"I assume then, you do not count yourself among the bandits that no doubt destroyed my family," her voice shook only slightly, as the fate of her kin dawned on her for the first time.
"No. I make it my business not to associate with the idiocy of the desert."
She nodded. He was not among her family's murderers, but judging by the state of his clothing, he was not above the slaughter of living creatures. She wondered how much of the blood that bedecked him belonged to human victims.
From outside, a loud, almost-whining Neigh! Was heard from just outside the grotto, causing a short groan of tetchiness to escape from the thief's lips, "I eagerly await the day that animal dies," he commented. Conversation with others was a rare occurrence for Barak, as he didn't particularly like any of the beings of his species. His subject matter for discussion probably didn't suit the girl, but he really didn't care.
Tola blinked once, puzzled. "Why would you want you mode of transportation to die?" she asked.
"It's easy enough to acquire another one," he told her shortly, folding his hands and resting his chin on them, "Hopefully the next one won't complain as much!"
"That's terrible…" she said, getting to her feet, feeling a bit braver then she had originally. She strode past him to the cave entrance, and climbed up the few step-like structures out to the open dessert. The sky was red with twilight, and the sand matched. Tied to what was left of a frail-looking dead tree, was what had at one time been a beautiful white stag. At the moment, it was pawing at the ground and whinnying impatiently. Cooing to it softly, Tola managed to get close enough to stroke its head gently. "You poor thing…"
Barak snorted, feeling more and more disgusted with himself for rescuing the young woman. The pendant in his hand felt smooth against his course skin. It was a rare find…and the least that she owed him for his trouble. He turned the burning animal on its spit, making sure every side of his former prey was well prepared. He licked his lips, managing to take his mind off of his situation for a moment. The meat of a lively animal was always better than that of the desert rats that clung to his cavern like flies on a cadaver.
A moment later she reemerged, sandals making barely any sound on the stone floor, "Do you even feed that animal?"
"Once a day, yes," he answered, not looking up.
"If you would care for that creature properly, it wouldn't complain," she said, "And it would probably last you ten years, at least."
The tomb robber laughed bitterly, "Who needs commitments such as that? Why not let the beast die and take another? There are plenty, after all…"
Tola sighed, planting herself down opposite him in front of the fire. "Judging by the brand on its side, it was once a prized race horse," she said mildly, "In the right hands, it would be nigh uncatchable. Isn't that something a thief would desire?"
He looked up at her, distracting himself from the smell of his cooking meal, "What makes you say I'm a thief?"
She pointed at his folded hands, "The fact that you have my necklace that was given to be as an engagement present by my fiancé. Who's most likely dead…along with the rest of the caravan except for me."
He let the bauble slip from between his hands, retaining control of it by the chain on a single finger. It twirled around slowly, the fire still being reflected in it, "I have no need for a fast horse," he said, finally answering her question, "No one can stop me whether they catch me or not."
"I see…" she said, though not fully understanding.
There was a short pause, in which silence settled in. It took several minutes for the awkward lack of noise to be broken, "Dinner is ready, if you're hungry." With ease, he removed the animal from its place over the fire and pulled a knife out from the folds of his cloak.
It didn't look appetizing, but it smelled good and she was starving. "Yes, please," she nodded.
He nodded and began to slice of pieces of the meat from the animal's side. Barak set down his knife, which now had a crimson blade from its work. The large hunk of cooked animal innards he gave to her was still dripping with blood, though it was now heated and runnier. The thief licked his lips in anticipation.
Tola took the meat gingerly with one hand, while she tore a length of cloth from her cloak, with which she wrapped the meat, to better protect her hands from its heat. The linen quickly soaked with blood. She felt her stomach church with a mix of revulsion and hunger. Exposing the top half of the slab, she blew on it, watching the steam rise and fade before biting into it tentatively. It was surprisingly tasty and she swallowed, hurriedly unwrapping more.
Barak held his own burning meal in his bare hands, biting into the meat furiously and tearing off a decent-sized piece that he barely chewed before swallowing. The maneuver caused small droplets of blood to spatter about, but the thief merely licked his lips and continued.
Tola did her best to ignore him, knowing that watching him for too long would most likely interfere with her appetite. They both finished at almost exactly the same time.
Barak smiled savagely, quite satisfied. He tossed the bone he was still holding in his hand into the fire, causing a few short crackles and sparks.
Tola wrapped up the remains of her own meal, setting them aside and then wiping off her hands on her cloak. A few of the embers from the flame shot out near her and she leaned backwards instinctually.
The wild-haired man raised an eyebrow at his rescuee, confused, "What are you doing?" he asked, nodding at her saved meat.
"I can't eat it all," she said, "What else am I supposed to do with it?"
The thief rolled his eyes, "Burn it, bury it, I don't really care," he told her, standing and stretching, his spine making several odd cracking noises, "Dispose of it or the rats will swarm tonight. I don't particularly feel like having my home overrun by those creatures."
She shuddered, and tossed the remnants of her primitive feast into the fire, jumping back again in surprise as the flames rose up near her face.
Unable to contain himself, Barak laughed out loud, "Foolish girl!" he cried, picking up a stick from the blaze (one end burning) but no smoke seemed to come from it, "Do you fear fire?" the man asked, waving it close to her.
Her eyes threatened to leak humiliated tears. Of course she feared fire – hadn't it been the weapon used in destroying her family? She forced herself to look past it and find his face behind the flames. "Why did you bring me here?" she asked him, voicing the question that had been dwelling in the back of her mind ever since she had awoken, "To mock me?" A new possibility struck her and she added, "If you're intending to rape me, please get it over with."
Disgusted by her train of thought (and opinion of him) he tossed the stick aside. This was nothing but a scared little girl. A brat, and nothing more, "I brought you here to spare your life!" he shouted, the Millennium Ring appearing around his neck in a flash of gold as his emotions rose, "And you aren't worth my spit, let alone my time!"
Infuriated and doubly frightened by the appearance of the infamous Item, she fled the cave with such a rush of wind from her flowing cloak that the fire leaned dangerously. Having nowhere to go and no idea where she even was, she flung herself down on the moonlit sand outside. The thief's horse whinnied softly and nudged her with its nose. Tola pushed herself upwards in response, and with sand and tears smearing her face, she took comfort in the company of her fellow prisoner.
Still inside the cave, Barak took several deep breaths, trying to clam himself down. He noticed the Millennium Ring around his neck, but didn't think much of it. He had lost control over that particular spell in his rage. He sighed and sat down on his large stone; No one ever understood him. He had always been destined for loneliness and solitude, ever since his father's banishment of him and the death of his mother. Perhaps his joke had been too harsh for the girl, but what had he ever done to make her think he would take advantage of her in that way?
Outside, Tola shivered, pulling her cloak more tightly around herself. The cold dessert nights were not unfamiliar to her, but she usually found herself surrounded by her younger brothers and sisters, their body heat providing substantial warmth for all through the sunless hours. She brushed the mess from her face as she admonished herself for dwelling on the past. It was over now – she was alone and she had to accept it. No one left in this world cared if she lived or died. She would have to grow stronger – learn to survive on her own. Her own life was all she had left to cling to.
Barak glanced up at the entrance of the grotto. He wouldn't be surprised if she tried to smother him in his sleep tonight. Or worse...try to make off with his latest additions to his collection. Not wasting any time, the tomb robber walked briskly over to his large, bagged pile of stolen valuables and lied down atop it, resting his hands behind his head. Ungrateful whelp…
Tola didn't dare reenter the cave, though she was astonished that he hadn't chased after her. With a temper like that, she would have to watch what she said to him in the morning. If she lived to see the morning. As she curled up beside the stallion (which had lied down next to her a few moments ago, weary of standing), she thought mildly that if the stranger didn't emerge to murder her in her sleep, the cold of the night might do the job for him.