Calai'di: Quick notes, that's it. For anyone who's never read my fics before (and I urge you to, even if you don't review, though they're all Yugioh based), I spell Yami Marik's name "Merik". I just find that it can be confusing sometimes (for me at least) when two characters in the same story have practically the same name but for one letter. This way, it's easier to distinguish between Merik and Malik. Sorry to my beta-er, who had to correct me on that each time 'cause I was being stupid and forgot to tell her.

And thank you very much to my beta-er: Hikari Tsuki Chi! Told ya I didn't make that many mistakes!

And I've read Vol. 6 now! Even better for my plans in this fic! -cackles evilly-

Äegypt Nubeia: Act 2

"So, which of your cousins are we meeting here?" Duzell asked as he and Ishtar trotted into the city of Sum Meso just as the sun was setting. He'd caught up with and passed her only five minutes after he'd left the stables, so they'd been next to each other for most of the trip.

"My two favorites!" Ishtar answered happily. "Trust me, you'll like them."

"I don't want to like them; I want to find Phelios."

"Whatever." She led him down a couple of streets to a shabby looking bar called The Red Dragon where she dismounted and started tying up the horse's reigns.

"Um, Duzie?" she started timidly as the vampire slid off his horse as well.


"You should probably know...I, uh...I kinda told my cousins that you' boyfriend."

"You WHAT?!" Duzell yelled, accidentally catching the attention of a few of the passer-by.

"Hey, at least it's not a guy this time," Ishtar reasoned, trying to defend herself.

"That's not the problem! The problem is you told them that without asking me!"

"Well, I had to tell them something so to get them to see you, and I just thought of that, and...I'm sorry."

"I'm sure," Duzell muttered as he finished tying up his horse. He turned back around to glare at her, his red eyes flashing with anger. "Damnit Ishtar, couldn't you have thought of something else? I thought you liked Darres, anyway!"

Ishtar nodded vigorously, still looking very ashamed. "I do, but...well, it kind of came out otherwise in the letter. And I didn't want to re-write everything so I left it."

"Typical," he muttered, burying his face in his hands. Did she honestly have to think of that

She glared at him and pulled his hands down. "Look, you want to find Phelios, right?"

"Unfortunately," he agreed quietly, avoiding her eyes. Even though I think I know who he is. "I'm starting to wonder whether it's worth it with you hanging around."

"I'll pretend you didn't say that," Ishtar said, insulted. "So, just play along and you'll be fine. It's not like I'm going to kiss you or anything. I mean, technically, I'm not supposed to like anyone who's not part of the Pheliosta royal bloodline. Not that my cousins really care," she added quietly. She stared pleadingly at him and went on, "Will you forgive me? Please?"

Duzell glared at her for a few moments then glanced at the ground. "Fine," he said grudgingly. "But you had better not kiss me or do anything else of that nature. And you owe me big time when we get back home."

"Okay...Thanks, Duzie!" She hugged him quickly and started dragging him into the bar. "Come on! My cousins are probably here already!"

How do I get myself into these things? Duzell wondered silently as he was dragged from table to table as Ishtar looked for her cousins. Well, technically, she got me into this, but...ugh, how could she do this to me?! This is going to be so embarrassing! It doesn't matter if I– he blinked, wondering whether what he was about to think was correct or not– if I like her. It's still–

"Hey, 'Kura!" Ishtar called suddenly, waving to someone at the other end of the bar. A figure stood up and waved back, beckoning her over, and she hurried faster than ever to get there. Duzell pouted silently and hung back a bit as they reached the table, and Ishtar instantly began chatting with her cousins. He figured out by listening to them that they were called Bakura and Merik and that the two boys sitting next to them, who were not her cousins at all, were Malik and Ryou. The one called Bakura had pure white hair that spiked up haphazardly yet beautifully, contrasting sharply with his tanned skin and chocolate brown eyes; Ryou, though obviously younger, looked just like him, only his hair was longer and his skin was almost white it was so pale. Merik looked to be a few years older, and he had platinum blonde hair that spiked up above his head and storm colored eyes, features that also contrasted with his tan skin. Malik could been his younger brother with how much they looked alike; the only difference being that his eyes were a lighter purple and his hair hung to his shoulders instead of high above him.

"And this," Ishtar said loudly, bringing Duzell back to reality, "is Duzell, the guy I told you about in my letter."

Bakura held out his hand to Duzell. "Pleased to meet you. Ishtar's said quite a few good things about you, kitten."

Duzell scowled at the nickname though he briefly took the hand offered to him. "I can only imagine what," he answered, trying to sound as though he wasn't bothered by anything, which was hard when both cousins were looking him over.

"You know, you look a lot like the Vampire King Duzell," Merik remarked, also holding out his hand.

Maybe that's because I am. "I've been told that a lot," the vampire answered, taking the blonde's hand briefly as well. He briefly noticed that Ryou's expression had suddenly changed considerably just after he'd thought that, and it worried him.

"Duzie, this is Merik, Bakura, Ryou, and Malik," Ishtar said, pointing at each of them in turn, "but only the first two are my cousins. Yami and Seto are my other cousins, but they didn't come to meet us."

"Which reminds me, Princess," Bakura started, turning to her again, "we should get going if we're going to get there before your shadow of a bodyguard finds you."

Ishtar laughed and shook her head. "Darres doesn't even know which way we went. It'll take a while for him to get here–"

"Unless Yujinn helps him again," Duzell added.

"Since when has Yujinn liked Darres? Or vise versa?" Bakura asked, confused.

"Since about six months ago or longer," Duzell answered easily. He found it quite easy to get along with this cousin of Ishtar's; they seemed to be a lot alike.

"So, shall we eat something?" Ishtar suggested, seemingly oblivious to the minor discussion going on. She plopped down next to Merik and wrapped an arm around his shoulder, staring at the food her cousins already had on the table. "What're you guys having?"

A few hours later...

"–So then Seto, like the fool he is, told everyone in the whole court that Pegasus could kiss his ass!" Merik announced, obviously drunk, to an enraptured crowd. Duzell smiled and shook his head slightly in amusement, taking another sip of his own drink. He'd learned a lot about Ishtar's cousins already, most importantly that fact that they got drunk quite easily. That could be advantageous in the long run, but for now–he shook his head and got up from the table–it was just annoying.

"I'm sorry, but I need to be alone for a while," he said, answering the questioning looks. Merik shrugged and went on with his story, once more catching the attention of almost everyone who'd been listening, so Duzell walked off to somewhere more secluded. It turned out that the bar was also an inn, though they probably wouldn't be staying the night if they didn't want Darres and Yujinn to find them, but the staircase up to the top floor was good place to think. He leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor, lost in his own world again.

Damn it, I'm not going to find out anything in a place like this... He glanced back out into the bar at the table where Ishtar was. And I can't shake the feeling that she's Phelios. But I know I'm missing something. Something important. He sighed and closed his eyes. My life was so much easier as the Vampire King. Boring, but easier.

"Who are you?" asked a soft voice, bringing him back to reality. He glanced up and noticed that Ryou had followed him and was now staring at him almost fearfully.

"Excuse me?"

"Who are you?" the boy repeated, more forcibly this time. Duzell sighed and got to his feet, causing Ryou to shrink back a little.

"Who do you think I am?" he asked.

Ryou shrugged, though he still looked a bit afraid. "You're Lady Ishtar's boyfriend. That's all I know. That's why I'm asking."

Maybe he doesn't know then. Though if he really doesn't know who I really am he wouldn't be afraid of me. "Are you sure that's all?"


No. "Then who are you?" Duzell asked, turning the tables.

Ryou stared at the floor, glancing once back at Ishtar and her cousins. "I am Lord Merik's servant and bodyguard."

Duzell was surprised at this. "You're his bodyguard?"

"Well, I can't fight or anything, but I protect him from getting shot or poisoned or things like that," Ryou answered. "Malik does the same thing for Lord Bakura."

The vampire smirked at him. "So I guess we know who each other is now, don't we?"

"Yes, I suppose." Ryou stared at him again, looking as though he wanted to ask something else, but shook his head and walked off.

If I didn't know better, I'd almost think he was Phelios's reincarnation, Duzell thought as he watched Ryou sit back down at his place at the table. But Ishtar said he wasn't one of her cousins, so he couldn't be. He's not a descendant. He sighed and pushed away from the wall heading back to their table. I might as well ask when we're going to leave. And I need to ask her something else anyway.

"Hi, Duzie!" the princess greeted. Then, noticing his troubled expression, she asked, "What's wrong?"

"I need to talk to you. In private," he added, glancing at Ryou.

"O-okay..." she followed him back to the secluded staircase. "What is it?"

" you know if any of your relatives minds?" he asked, knowing how stupid it sounded. As he thought, Ishtar laughed and shook her head.

"Are you serious?......Oh, you are, I don't think so..."

"What about...Ryou or Malik?"

She eyed him curiously. "What's going on, Duzie?"

"It's just...Ryou was asking me some weird questions earlier, and he seemed afraid of me even though I've given him no reason to be yet," Duzell answered. He looked out into the bar again and noticed Ryou was watching them. "And he's watching us."

She glanced around herself and shrugged. "Maybe he's just worried about me. He really is a sweetheart and cares about almost everyone he meets. But just in case, maybe you should be careful about what you think about, especially when he's around. Anything else?"

"When are we going to leave? We'll have to leave soon if you don't want Darres to find us."

"Oh, um..." She shrugged and stared at him apologetically. "I'm not sure, actually. Merik's pretty drunk right now, so we may not leave until tomorrow morning–"

There was a sudden commotion behind them in the bar, and, turning, they saw that Merik had decided to pick a fight with someone, over what they couldn't tell. They rushed to where Bakura was standing so they could see better.

"What happened?" Ishtar asked, watching the older cousin with concern.

"Someone was messing with Ryou," Bakura answered impassively.

"Oh," she said with complete understanding.

"But isn't Ryou his bodyguard, not the other way around?" Duzell asked, confused.

"Well, technically I suppose that's true, but...well, it's a long story," Ishtar said, watching the fight intently.

I have all the time in the world to listen, you know. I could listen to your voice forever. He blinked, realizing that thoughts like that were getting to be more and more frequent. Ack, Vampire Kings are not supposed to thinking things like that!


Everyone turned to stare at the location of the voice, even Merik and the guy he had in a headlock. The owner was a tall brunette with ice-blue eyes who had just entered the bar and was now staring aghast at the fight.

"Hey Seto!" Merik greeted, his drunken mind not allowing him to be concerned. "What are you doing here? Come to watch me beat the crap out of this bastard who was trying to hit on my Ryou?"

Seto sweatdropped and shook his head. "No, though that could be entertaining. I came because we expected you to arrive over an hour ago. Father sent me to find you guys."

"Wow, Seto, you got here that fast?" Ishtar asked, amazed.

"Well, I borrowed the fastest horse and…yeah." He walked over to Merik and pulled him off the poor guy he'd been choking. "Come on, we should get Princess Ishtar back to Äegypt Nubeia as soon as possible."

"Our horses haven't rested enough," Duzell spoke up, startling the newest arrival.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Duzell," he answered, holding out his hand. "I'm Ishtar's...boyfriend."

"Ah, she told us about you!" Seto said, briefly taking his hand. Then he started pulling Merik towards the door, saying, "You may be right about your horses, but we'll have to deal. Father wants us back as soon as possible."

"Seto," Ryou started quietly, "um, where is Yugi?"

"He's guarding my horse. Come on, you guys know how awful he is at guarding anything...even me."

"I'm surprised you let him," Bakura answered, following Seto and pulling Malik along as well. "He's so small, and he does suck at guarding."

"He said he could handle it."

They followed him out of the bar to where the horses were; there was a small boy sitting top one of them, and he jumped down and into the light when they got closer. The boy was so short he could have been eight years old, and he had crimson-tipped black hair that stood high above his head like Merik's and gold bangs that framed his face. Very large violet eyes grew bigger as they approached, probably from fear of the stranger than anything else. Duzell assumed this was Yugi, and he was mildly surprised since he'd thought the boy would look at least a bit like Seto.

"There are only five horses here," the vampire commented as the bodyguards began untying the horses. "How did all of you get here?"

"We doubled up, of course," Merik remarked as he mounted one of the horses, Ryou following to sit in front of him. "We should probably leave one behind, just in case Darres does show up. Maybe he'll think you just took two horses to spite him."

"Yeah, but he'll probably get pretty mad about that," Ishtar said as he mounted her own horse. Bakura and Malik were already mounted, as were Seto and Yugi, so Duzell sighed and hopped on behind Ishtar, wrapping his arms around her waist to keep from falling off. She smiled at him before turning the horse to follow her cousins.

"Sir, we can't find Lady Ishtar anywhere!" a servant exclaimed hysterically. "And two horses are missing from the stables!"

Darres frowned and stared out Ishtar's bedroom window at the ground far below. "Why the hell would she take two horses?" he muttered almost inaudibly. Then to the servants, he ordered, "Ask around in the village. See if anyone spotted a 'beautiful knight' headed away from the castle."

"'Beautiful'?" Krai asked as the servants left. "Are you sure that's the right word to describe her? 'Cause she's not exactly a knockout, especially in those clothes."

"More like 'annoying' if you ask me," Jill added, grinning.

Darres shrugged, too tired to fight with the lower guardsmen. "It worked before."

"Sidia's missing too, Darres," said a quiet voice from the doorway. Darres glanced up, surprised, to see Yujinn leaning there. "But I'm sure you already knew that," the wizard added, taking a step into the room.

"She's made a habit of carrying that thing," Darres agreed. He looked out the window again to the west, unknowingly in the same direction Ishtar had gone.

"And she took two horses along, instead of one," Yujinn said as he stopped behind Darres.

"Probably just to annoy me again. She has a habit of doing that, too."

Yujinn smiled, knowing that was true. "Yes, though...perhaps there was a different reason."

"Like what?" Darres asked.

"Hmm, I'm not sure yet...but I'd bet it has something to do with that cat of hers–"

"The kyawl?" the three guards exclaimed.

"I don't know, but I'm guessing that cat is involved somehow. I just don't know how yet."