Curses From The Orient

It was small, brown, and shriveled. At first glance, it looked like nothing so much as a piece of dried dung.

Upon second glance, it was just as disturbing, but more terrifying. It looked like a human hand. One missing a finger.

Otogi Ryuuji, who had been to more foreign lands than most people had teeth, informed all the comers that it was, in fact, a monkey's paw. If anyone uttered a wish around it, the monkey's paw would be granted in the most unusual, and oft-times most annoying and occasionally downright painful way possible.

And someone had given the monkey's paw to Marik, the Royal Executioner. The most insane man in the history of the palace. Which, considering the stories still told to that very day about the late, not so great, Ethelfride, Uncle to one of the first Pharaohs in recorded history, was very insane.

Ethelride had been most commonly known for dressing as a woman and dancing around the palace grounds on feast days. He'd been less commonly known for holding conversations with the crocodiles in the moat, and summoning hoards of Kuriboh to annoy the palace populace when he was feeling particularly playful.

Mana chewed anxiously on her lower lip and hid behind Mokuba as he approached the clutch of people gathered around Atemu's throne to discuss the latest happenings in the palace.

"Does Marik know how the monkeys paw works?" Mokuba asked. If he didn't, maybe they could arrange for him to 'lose' it, and no one need fear anything.

"Unfortunately, yes," Seto said. "He's insane, not incompetent or stupid." Which was the only reason he still held his job.

Well, that, and the Pharaoh not actually having any executed since Marik had been appointed to his position. Atemu seemed willing to continue in that vein. He had a strange attachment to the idea that 'all human life is sacred.'

Balderdash. But try telling his brother that.

"So…what did he wish for?" Malik asked, voice filled with worry and curiosity in equal measure.

Anzu curved her lips up in an expression halfway between a bemused smile and a smirk. "Marik is insane. His work as the Royal executioner is helped by the fact that he always knows how to find someone's deepest fears. However, he has no fears of his own."

"So he wished for one," Shizuka told her lover. "And I…fear what might happen," she said, fretfully nibbling on the ends of her gold-lacquered fingernails.

Malik blinked, trying to take in the knowledge that his look-alike had made such a potentially volatile wish. He really must have been insane. "What is he afraid of now?" he asked, feeling trepidation well up inside himself.

Anzu snickered and pointed toward the parade of multi-colored, floppy-eared, all shapes and sizes, bunnies that were hopping past.

Mokuba sighed as he watched the rabbits hop past, fearing exactly what his elder brother's reaction would be to yet another one of his coronation gifts being put to such use. There hadn't been any rabbits in Egypt…at least until the envoy from Aussa, the Land Down Under, had sent some called 'jack rabbits.' They had quickly taken over the unpopulated regions of the desert and had propagated with extreme swiftness. "At least Marik didn't end up afraid of sand."

"Or kitties," Mana added, reaching up with one hand to stroke the back of her pet panther.

Mokuba did his best not to let Bastia smell his fear. "Yeah, or kitties."