Yu-Gi-Oh!
Desert Rose

I Dream of Rain
I Dream of Gardens in the Desert Sand
I Wake in Pain
I Dream of Love as Time Runs Through my Hand

CHAPTER ONE

The palace of Thebes was alight as always, its radiance in the desert night able to be seen as far south as the open mouth of the Nile. Those that dwelled within were supposedly as brilliant as the place they lived; after all, it was the home of the pharaoh and his court. Pharaoh… the man revered as a living god, the one who protected all of Khemet from hardship and strife…

Well, most of Khemet.

Dark purpose lurked about that night, making that so called "peaceful" night different from all the others the palace and its inhabitants had seen. All that dark purpose was in the shape of a boy… a boy with blazing white hair, and who was balanced easily on the edge of a building overlooking the palace gate. His narrow brown eyes observed the guards milling about below him. Such tight security tonight… apparently his last attempt to break in had raised some eyebrows, though he thought he had escaped without anyone's notice. Then again, it could have been because rumors of "the white devil" being in town had spread like wildfire since he arrived.

He muttered under his breath, pulling the hood of his blood red coat up over his head. His hair was his pride, but it made him stick out like a sore thumb in a place like Thebes. After all, this was a supposedly "clean" city, purged of wickedness by the will of the pharaoh and the so-called holiness of the Sacred Prince who was his son.

Whatever; he would believe that when he saw it.

The boy stood up after a moment, stretching himself out like a cat, before pulling a length of rope with a hook tied to one end from where it was hidden within his coat. He may have been above the stone gate, but that did not mean it was close enough for him to do something crazy, like jump.

"I'm going to do it tonight…" he whispered, though no one was around to hear his words.

With a grunt of effort, the boy threw the hooked end in a perfect arc. It flew over the gate a bit, and he pulled back on it until he heard a satisfying clank. He tested the rope to be sure, before tying the end off on a nearby pole. Going back to the edge, he looked over and, taking a deep breath, grabbed the rope and swung his legs over the side. He slid down slowly, carefully, making absolutely sure that he did not burn his hands on the rope. After all, he could not afford to have any injuries once he made it into the palace, especially any that would prevent him from holding anything… like the dagger tucked into his belt.

Reaching the massive stone wall, the boy swung his leg up, coming up and straddling the wall before letting go of the rope. He looked down below; perfect, he was over the palace menagerie just like he planned. Assuming the information he had received was reliable, the entrance into the palace from the menagerie was the one that easily led to the chambers of the prince and the pharaoh. Not only that, but there were plenty of trees near the gate for him to climb up in the event he had to make a hasty retreat, which was why he unhooked the rope and let it swing back to the building he had come from. He swung his leg over the side, before jumping off the wall, landing in a crouch before darting off behind one of those trees, keeping eyes and ears alert for the guards.

He ducked into the shadows just in the nick of time, as a guard passed by where he had landed barely a moment later. The guard looked around, before walking away and out of the boy's sight. A bit of a relieved sigh came out of him, before he slunk out from his hiding spot, following the shadows as he made his way to the unguarded door.

Hiding in the shadows of the doorway, he made absolutely sure the corridor he was going to be entering was absolutely deserted before creeping in, moving with a stealth and grace not normally seen in someone his age. Then again, not many people his age had trained themselves day in and day out with hardly any time for sleep, all for one simple driving purpose…

Revenge.

Turn down a hall… up a flight of stairs… turn down another hall… if this was supposed to be the most direct route to the pharaoh's room, he did not want to see the most roundabout one. Though, he supposed it was a good thing; the guards changed shifts when the moon above was at its peak, and he would hopefully arrive right at that shift change. That way he could slip in, do what he needed to do, and then slip out before anyone even realized what happened. He put a hand over the dagger in his belt, fingers twitching slightly in anticipation. Yes…

Unfortunately, approaching the final hall that led to the pharaoh's room proved that this was not going to be a night that ended well for him. Something soft squished underfoot, and just when the boy was about to look down and see what it was, he suddenly found himself crashing to the ground face first. A weird, high-pitched voice behind him started shouting "KURI-KURIIIII!!!" as loud as it could… and then he heard a voice that made his blood freeze.

"What was that?" a guard down the pharaoh's hall asked.

The boy nearly panicked, scrambling to his feet and doing the only thing he could think of: running like all hell.

"There!"

"Stop! Intruder!"

The boy shook his head. "Yeah, like I'm really gonna stop," he muttered under his breath, cursing his foul luck. So close… he was so close, Ra dammit!

He ducked down a deserted corridor, looking around frantically, trying to keep his panic at bay as he heard the footsteps of the guards quickly approaching. Hide… hide… he needed a place to hide! Spotting an unassuming door, he raced up to it, nearly melting in relief when it swung open.

The inside of the room was elegant, but there were not many places to hide… except for under the bed. He did not even pause to see if there was anyone in the room or not; the boy just dived under the bed, knocking his head on the underside rather hard. Stars danced before his eyes for a moment, and he held his head, trying to get the dizziness that threatened to go away… before he froze entirely. Did… the bed above him… just shift…?

Suddenly, there was the sound of the doors bursting open, and torchlight came into the room. The bed shifted again, before a tired sounding voice came…

"What's all this nonsense…?"

"My prince," came the voice of a guard, "are you unhurt? Did anyone come in here?"

There was a brief pause before the tired voice came again, sounding irritated. "Does it look like anyone has come in here, other than you bumbling fools stupid enough to disturb my sleep?"

"M-m-my prince, I—"

"You what?" the voice snapped. "I swear, this is why I do not let you idiots anywhere near my room. Now get out!"

"A… a thousand apologies, prince," the guard said, before there came the sound of the door closing swiftly.

Were he in any other position, the boy probably would have sniggered at the guard's misfortune. As it was, however, the prince above him was more than likely awakened by him knocking his head on the bottom of his bed instead of the noise of the "bumbling fools" that were the guards. He reached for the dagger in his belt, holding onto it tightly as he felt the bed above him shift again. Hopefully the stubborn little brat above him would just go back to bed; he did not want to have to kill anyone other than his target if he could avoid it. A long silence followed, before…

"Are you going to come out…?" came a quiet voice, making the boy jump and nearly crack his head open on the bed again. He growled under his breath as the prince giggled, gripping his dagger as he rolled out from under the bed, coming up to his knees with his dagger raised…

…and froze when he found himself staring at a pair of wide purple eyes.

"Hi!" the prince said cheerily, obviously not the least bit concerned about the dagger hovering mere inches above him.

The boy blinked rapidly; if anyone ever accused him of having weird hair again, he would laugh in their face. This prince… it was like the Gods could not decide what color they wanted to make his hair. It was spiked up and mostly black, with raspberry edges and a crown of golden bangs. He blinked rapidly, before reaching out and bending one of the spikes over, only to have it flop back up as soon as he let go. There was probably a bewildered look on his face, as the prince giggled again.

"Are you from outside?" the prince asked, bringing his legs up so they dangled idly above him. "I've never seen anyone from outside before."

The boy raised an eyebrow, absently lowering the knife. "You don't get out much, eh, kid?"

He pouted. "I'm not a kid," he said defensively. "I'm ten."

The boy raised the other eyebrow, a bit of a smirk tugging at his lip. "Riiiight…" he replied, letting out a sigh before pushing back his hood. It was the prince's turn to look surprised now, and somehow he stayed still as the younger boy reached out to touch his hair.

"Wow…" he murmured. "Your hair's so cool…! Does everyone outside have hair like this?"

"No… not in Khemet anyway," the boy replied with a smirk. "My mom's from the south. I suppose there's people there with white hair."

He nearly face palmed as the prince observed his hair with fascination. Why had he just said that much? It was not any of this palace brat's business. Well… he did not seem like much of a brat actually. That haughtiness from before was probably just a show for the guards.

"What's it like outside?" the prince asked suddenly, lowering his hand. "People don't tell you what you have to do like they do around here, do they?"

The boy raised an eyebrow. "Why would they?" he returned. "And why would anyone tell you what to do anyway? You're the prince!"

Said prince sighed dejectedly, waving a finger in the air. "I may be the prince, but there are things that I have to do. Like I have to wear this outfit on certain days, or I have to go to this lesson." He sighed. "The only time I get to see the people outside is when I go out on the balcony, and even then they're so small and far away." Another sigh. "I hate this place… it's just a golden cage."

The boy blinked slowly, completely caught off guard. He… had never expected to hear anything like this; after all, how could someone who would have all of Egypt at their disposal someday be upset with the life they led? There were people out there that would give their right arm for just a small portion of the wealth and power the pharaoh and his family had…

"So…" he found himself saying, "why don't you just leave?"

The prince gave him an almost pathetic look. "Where would I go? Unless…" His face brightened suddenly, and his used his arms to push himself up a bit. "You could take me with you!"

Shocked, the boy backed up a bit. "Wh-wh-wh-wh-what?!" he exclaimed.

"You heard me," the prince replied, a mischievous grin on his face. "It'll be fun! And you could show me what the world is like beyond the palace."

He probably looked like he was going to say what was on his mind (which was an emphatic "No!"), because the prince stood up on his bed, looking down at him in a sort of mock commanding manner.

"Shall I make it an order, then?" he asked, his snobbish tone thrown off by the grin on his face. "Very well then… ah…" He blinked. "What's your name?"

"B…Bakura…" the boy replied, too caught off guard to do anything else.

"Very well then, Bakura!" the prince continued. "I order you to kidnap me, this very moment!"

Bakura sat there on the floor, staring up at the prince as if he had just sprouted another head. There was no way this was really happening… unfortunately, the sound of more guards approaching outside the door proved otherwise.

"Damn them…" the prince murmured, spinning around to face the door. "They're probably going to check in here again… and it sounds like ugly old Akunadin's with them."

Bakura took that moment to stand up. The prince was not very tall in the least, and therefore it was easy for him to wrap an arm around his waist. He pressed his dagger against his chest, not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to make him look down at it with a concerned look on his face.

"Do you know what I came here to do?" the boy asked, invoking the prince to shake his head. "I came here to kill your father."

The prince stiffened slightly, but Bakura ignored his reaction. He was more concerned about the sound of guards getting ever closer…

"Do you still want to come with me?"

There was a moment's hesitation… before the prince nodded. A grin tugged at Bakura's lips, but he managed to suppress it, taking his knife away.

"Very well then," he stated. "I'll do my very best to kidnap you, Your Highness." He paused a moment, before stating, "There's no way we're going to get out that door and escape easily. Is there another way out of here?"

"Of course," the prince replied, slipping out of his grasp and jumping off the bed.

He motioned for Bakura to follow, leading him to a heavy tapestry on the far side of the room, which looked like it had real gold woven into it. The boy nearly drooled; just a few of those threads would probably make him filthy rich… but he did not have time to try and take some. Someone outside knocked, just as the prince pulled aside the tapestry, revealing a door.

"My prince, are you all right in there?" came an elderly voice. The prince made a face, before unlatching the door and pushing it open.

"This way," he mouthed, slipping through. Bakura followed right behind, not wanting to find out if that voice was "ugly old Akunadin" or not.

Not a moment after the door had been latched once again and the tapestry settled back to where it had been, did the door to the prince's room open. It only opened a small bit at first… and then swung open when it was apparent that there was no one there. An elderly man stepped into the room, scanning the place with his one good eye as the guards behind him entered, looking around.

"High Priest Akunadin," a guard by the bed said suddenly. "It looks like there was a bit of a struggle."

Akunadin stepped over to look, his other eye glinting eerily in the darkness…

"Raise the alarm," he ordered. "Alert the other guards. Wake the pharaoh. The prince has been kidnapped."

.oOOo.

In a few short minutes, guards from all over the palace were sent searching, trying to find the prince that had vanished mere moments ago. No one, however, was paying any heed to the stables… and therefore missed it when a small section of stone started to shudder. After a moment, the large stone fell to the ground, and Bakura crawled out, coughing slightly from the dust and sand he had just needed to crawl through. He landed on the ground roughly, shaking his head about a bit to get the sand that still clung to his hair out, before reaching up and helping the prince out.

The younger boy took his hand once his feet were on the ground, looking about cautiously before heading over to where two horses were set off from the rest.

"There's a private exit we can use," he said, letting go of his hand as he went for a saddle hung up near the small white horse that obviously was the prince's. "It leads right out of the city. We'll avoid all the guards that way."

Bakura rolled his eyes when he saw that the prince was going for something as lame as a saddle, before grabbing him around the waist. He went over to the white horse, settling him down on its back.

"If you've known all this," he began, grabbing a riding blanket and draping it over him, "why haven't you escaped already?"

"Like I said, where would I go?" the prince replied, pulling the blanket low over his face as Bakura grabbed some water flasks. "Besides, I don't know the first thing about living on the outside. If you had met me on the street, would you just reach out and help me?"

Bakura looked up from where he had started tying a length of rope into makeshift reigns. "Point taken," he replied. He finished with the rope quickly, and went to put it on the horse. Unfortunately, it did not seem to take kindly to being treated like a mere mule, and stated as much by backing up, snorting at Bakura. The prince petted the horse, encouraging it to calm down as the older boy gave the animal a critical look.

"Hey, I know you're used to the royal treatment, but that's not exactly going to get us very far, 'ya hear?"

The horse snorted again, as if insulted, but stayed still as Bakura fitted the makeshift reigns into its mouth and around its head. Patting the horse again, the prince pointed toward the far wall.

"Tap the center of that three times," he said. Bakura raised an eyebrow, but was not about to object, not when they were so close to getting out of there alive. He did as he was told, and to his surprise, the wall slid away, revealing a long, torch-lined corridor.

Bakura blinked a bit, but a snort from the horse reminded him that now was not the time to just be standing around amazed. He took up the animal's reigns, before starting down the long path…

.oOOo.

There was a small, unnamed oasis not that far from the crown city of Khemet. As was to be expected, where there was water, people gathered, and the small spattering of huts and tents that was gathered about the oasis was no exception. One of the small huts, however, was actually a tavern. Like the buildings that surrounded it, the place was small and simple, but it was where good food, good spirits, and warm beds could always be found aplenty for travelers. The woman that owned the business was plump and friendly, despite the fact that she had lost her husband not all that long ago, and always greeted everyone that came with a warm smile.

Even if they came only a few hours before Ra's gaze would blaze upon the land.

"Coming, coming…!" she called sleepily as whomever was at her door continued to pound on it mercilessly. If whoever it was broke that door down… Finally reaching it, she swung the door open, only to be treated with a surprise.

"Bakura!" she exclaimed. "I thought you said you were going to the city…?"

Bakura looked up at her worriedly, worrying his lip in a matter that practically screamed, "I screwed up big time." She gave him an exasperated look, before looking at the large bundle he was holding in his arms with concern. Did she just see it move…?

"Nana… I've… got a bit of a problem…"

With that said, he moved a bit of the riding blanket aside, to reveal the peacefully sleeping face of the Crown Prince…

Nana nearly fainted. Oh no…