Okay. Here's the deal. I read Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfiction, and the Dark Magician Girl is always always ALWAYS portrayed as this ditzy little... thing. I hate it! So, I decided to write a story in which she was more focused and intelligent. In my own weird way, I failed miserably. The ditz holds true.But it was just too much fun writing to quit! So here's Dark Magic Attaque! By the way, when you see italics, the character is THINKING! Which, franky, I cannot relate to. Oh, well!
Shepu's Point of View
Shepu awoke to sunlight streaming in her window. She stretched, her slender fingers combing the air, blinking her large green eyes. Another day, another training session... Training! It was a training day! She leapt out of bed as though pricked by a pin. Oh, she hated to be late for training! How stupid of her to forget like this! Shepu scrambled to get dressed, yanking on her uniform Please don't tear, please don't tear! and searching for her left boot Drat! Lost it again! and trying to comb her hair all at once. Finally, Shepu forced herself to calm down. She took a few deep breaths and finished getting dressed, uniform, boots, gloves. She walked over to the mirror and picked up her brush, running it through her long golden hair Dratted tangles... until she managed to get it looking at least semi-decent; she had fly-away hair that never seemed to want to be the same two minutes in a row. Once she had it sort of flat, she slammed on her helm and grabbed a bag containing her staff, spellbook, and a few basic potion ingredients. She left without eating, that could wait, after all. She hoped he wouldn't be angry with her...
Sai's Point of View
The Dark Magician leaned against a pillar outside the training hall, waiting for his young apprentice. Her being late didn't anger him at all; she never made a habit of it. He wondered vaguely what could be keeping her, however. She usually arrived at the training hall even before he did, and he would arrive to find her already practicing hard. He knew he was lucky to have an apprentice like Shepu. He often heard other high-level spellcasters complaining about their students, complaining that they lacked discipline, interest, focus, or talent. But not his Shepu. She was serious about learning, she wanted to be the best, and she worked harder than anyone else he knew. She had a sharp memory and a quick mind hidden beneath that pretty face. He was very lucky, indeed, but there were times when he worried about her, times when his good fortune seemed too good to be true... Presently he spotted her, running for all she was worth towards the training hall. She took the steps two at a time, and came to a stop before him, panting. "So sorry... I'm late... Master Sai... Overslept... It was an accident..."
He chuckled. "No need to worry, Shepu. I know I've made you wait more than once. Just don't make a habit of it." Shepu nodded eagerly, and he could tell she was relieved. Shepu hated to be scolded, hated to think she had done anything wrong. The girl put her heart into her learning, and tried harder than anyone he'd ever met. Sometimes, Sai worried that she worked a little too hard. It wasn't natural for a girl her age to devote all her time to her training. She didn't worry about her hair or clothes, she didn't spend weekends at the mall... Sometimes he wondered what she would look like with a bit of make-up and a new dress. He studied her now. She was breathing hard, she must have ran the whole way from her home to the training hall. Her helm was on crooked, and her cheeks were flushed, but her eyes were sparkling. "Shepu," he asked out of the blue, "Tell me, just what do you plan to do with your life? What will you do when you complete your training?"
The girl blinked at him. "Oh, my training will never be over, Master Sai! Never! I'm going to keep training until I'm a master just like you! I'm going to be one of the best someday, you just watch!" She giggled. "You'll see, Master Sai, I'm going to make you proud of me!"
Sai raised an eyebrow. "But don't you ever want to settle down and have a family of your own, the way other girls your age do?"
Shepu looked thoughtful. Finally she shrugged. "Training comes first, I guess. If I do, I do, if I don't, I don't."
Training comes first? He studied her more intently, suddenly not liking what he saw. "Shepu, you look... thinner. Have you been skipping meals? You have, haven't you?"
"Sometimes," the girl admitted guiltily, "Like this morning, when I woke up late..."
"You came to train without eating?"
"Yes, but I try not to. It's just, sometimes I get so caught up in my work..." She shrugged again. "Training comes first."
Those three words haunted Sai for the rest of the day.
Shepu's Point of View
Someday, she would be the Dark Magician. Not the Dark Magician Girl, but the actual master mage. It was her dream, and she'd built her life around it. Shepu smiled to herself as she studied her spellbook that night, looking over a tricky hex she wanted to learn. Her growling stomach reminded her to take a bite of the apple that sat beside her. Gradually her thoughts filtered away from her studies, however, drifting over to Master Sai. Why had he been staring at her like that? Why had he asked if she had been skipping meals? Frowning, she went in and stepped on the bathroom scales. Ninety-eight pounds. Is that right? That doesn't seem right... She decided the scale must be off, yes, that was it. No way she was that light. The scale was of. That was all. She had nothing to worry about.
Sai's Point of View
Sai flopped down on his back on the couch, staring up at the ceiling. Why didn't I notice before? It's so painfully obvious! How could I have been so blind? She was definitely thinner, and she had been moving a bit slower as of late. The fool girl was so focused on her training that she didn't realize she was starving herself! Something had to change, he decided, and it had to change soon.
Sai arrived at the training hall early the next morning. He stood waiting outside, in the same spot as before, and presently saw his young apprentice come bounding up the stairs. "Master Sai! Master Sai, you're here early today!"
He studied her. "Did you eat this morning?"
Shepu blinked. "Yes, Master Sai. I woke up early so I wouldn't forget or run out of time."
She was lying. Sai stared at her a moment. He could see straight through the lie, read the truth right there on her face. She had not eaten. It had slipped her mind completely. She also had not slept enough; there were dark rings under her eyes. He turned away, away from the training hall, away from her. "Come for a walk with me, Shepu. There are things we need to talk about."
He led her away from the training hall, and soon they were walking in the rose gardens. He stopped at a small bench. "Sit down, Shepu." She sat, confused, and he took a seat next to her. "Shepu, I'm worried about you. You're taking your training too seriously."
"Too seriously?" Her green eyes widened in disbelief.
"Yes. You train all day, you forget to eat, I never see you so much as talking with the other students. You're too introverted, Shepu, far too focused on your studies. You're forgetting to take care of yourself."
"No buts, Shepu. From now on, I want you to take it a bit easier."
"But then how can I ever become as strong as you?"
He sighed. You little idiot... "Come. We will not train today. There are things I want to show you."
Shepu's Point of View
Shepu followed her master, dumbfounded. No training? What was he thinking? She needed to train, needed to get stronger! Presently she saw that he was leading her to the mountains. The mountains! What could possibly be so important in the mountains that she had to miss training? Frowning, she followed the Dark Magician as he led her up a steep, narrow path. Her stomach growled, and she mentally scolded herself for skipping breakfast again. She felt the energy draining from her body. Perhaps she shouldn't have stayed up so late last night, studying that spell. She made up her mind to be in bed before midnight for the rest of the week. No more studying until four AM! Maybe... Maybe Master Sai is right. Maybe I am taking this too seriously... She staggered slightly, and felt a strong hand take hold of her elbow. "Easy, now, Shepu. We're almost there."
Her feet felt like lead. "Master Sai, please, where are we going?"
"You'll see, Shepu, you'll see."
She wasn't sure how much longer she could keep going. She was tired, hungry, the strain of climbing the steep trail was really bothering her. But she did not complain. Showing weakness, showing any pain, was the quickest way to loose a fight because you let your opponent know they were hurting you, and that told them that they could beat you. You had to hide your pain away, keep going, no matter what.
It was something she had learned in the other realm, the one she'd been born in. You had to be very careful there, careful not to show your fears, your pain. You had to stand up for yourself, push forward, be brave, and never, ever back down.
Don't let him know you're tired. Make him think you're still strong. Shepu forced herself to walk quicker, stand taller. Gotta keep going, can't look weak...
Sai's Point of View
She wasn't fooling him in the least.
Does she think I can't tell? This girl is ready to drop where she stands. The little idiot! Well, if that's the way she wants to play it, then fine. I'll push her to her limits and then some. Then maybe she'll get the idea.
The path Sai had chosen to get up the mountain was a fairly easy one, but now he broke away from it, leading her up a more difficult path, steep and rocky. He could hear her breathing heavily behind him, and looking back at her, he saw the pain in her eyes that she tried so well to hide in her body. He stopped. The girl won't give up. If I keep pressing her on, I'll only hurt her more. I don't want to cause this pain... Suddenly, more than anything, he wanted that look in her eyes to go away. Using this trail had been a mistake. "Come on. I know an easier path."
"This is okay. It's nothing I can't handle."
He reached out and took hold of her hand. "Well, then, I can't handle it, how's that?" He led her back down to the trail he had intended on using. "Come on. It's not as steep, and we'll make better time."
She followed along obediently, and they soon found themselves back on the original path. Shepu's breathing was normal again, and Sai was glad. Why would I have wanted to overwhelm her in the first place? After another hour or so of hiking, Sai smiled. This'll show her. He pointed to the rocky peak only a few yards away. "Well, looks like we've reached the top. Why don't you go up and have a look, Shepu? See what you can see."
Shepu gave him a quizzical look before scrambling up the rocks. He followed. He wanted to see her reaction to this.
Shepu's Point of View
Shepu blinked as she reached the very top, her breath literally taken away by the view from the mountain. Looking down, she could see the city where she lived, all of it, spread out before her. There were the library and the training hall, the two places where she spent the most time, with the rose gardens in between. There was the mall, with duel monsters moving in and out. They looked so tiny. There were the little clothing, book, and grocery stores where she did all her shopping. Over there, that tiny cottage, was that really her house, the place she'd been given and had lived in for the past eight years? There was the gym, with the outdoor pool that looked, from this distance, like a polished piece of turquoise. The town she thought she knew now seemed new to her, so many buildings she could not identify, so many places she'd seen, heard of, but never visited. And there, all the way across the city from her, was the palace of Exodia, and beyond that, the glittering sea...
"This is where I come..."
Shepu jumped, startled. She had forgotten that Master Sai was even there. She turned, and met his eyes. He continued.
"This is where I come when the world down there gets to be too much for me. Sometimes I'll spend the whole day and even part of the night just sitting here, watching and thinking. In the evening, seeing the sun go down over the ocean, and all the lights coming on in the city, and everything is so still, so peaceful..." His voice trailed off for a moment. "I remember when you first came here, Shepu. You were only nine, and you still possessed all the wonder of a child. This place was amazing to you, you wanted to see and do everything and know absolutely everyone. But then..." Another pause. "But then you began to change. You became so quiet, so shy. Soon the little girl who gave flowers to strangers in the park wouldn't even look up from her books. And yet, no one seemed to notice as the child you once were faded away..." He looked back out over the city. "When I learned that you would be my first apprentice, I felt blessed. I couldn't have asked for an easier job! You were so eager to learn, so devoted to giving it your all. But now, I see... that you were a little too eager... a little too devoted..."
"What are you saying?" Shepu stared at him. It was true, all of it. That city had fascinated her. She had wanted to see everything, everyone. She knew she'd become less outgoing as she started studying. But had she really changed that drastically? "Master Sai, what are you saying? I don't understand!"
He looked back up at her. "Don't you see, Shepu? Don't you understand?" His voice was soft, sad. "You're destroying who you really are. And you're hurting yourself in the process. Do you think I don't notice these things?" His gaze traveled the length of her body, then rested on her face, her eyes. "When I first met you, you looked so healthy. Your cheeks had this rosy glow to them, and you were so pretty, such a... such a beautiful child! But now..." Master Sai shook his head sadly. "You're so thin, so pale. Even your hair is limp. You just don't eat enough. And now I see that you don't sleep enough either, do you, Shepu?" He didn't wait for an answer. "You're hurting yourself, hurting yourself badly. And, whether duel monster or human being, people just can't live that way."
Shepu felt her throat constrict. The way he made it sound... "But... but I have to train, I have to!"
"Even I never trained as much as you do, Shepu. Training is important, yes, but it is also important to live a balanced life. And your life is by no means balanced."
She blinked back tears. "But... but... Oh, Master Sai, I'm so confused!"
The mage nodded. Reaching behind a large rock, he pulled out a basket. "We can talk about it more later. For now... eat, Shepu." He held the basket out to her. "If you don't eat something, you're not going to make it back down this mountain."
She nodded dumbly, and took the basket.
Sai's Point of View
Sai sat there, watching his apprentice eat. From the way the girl devoured the breads and fruits and cheeses, Sai knew that this was the first full meal she'd had in days, maybe even in weeks. He stared back out over the city. There had to be some way he could keep an eye on her, monitor her. He just didn't know how to manage it... well... there was one idea that came to mind...
Would it be right? It's by no means natural. But this girl needs to be watched over. Constant vigilance! I suppose it could work... I'd have to run it by my grandfather, though... He might not like it... But what's to be afraid of? I'm old enough to be her father, it would be like... what do they call it in the realm of the mortals? Oh, adoption. Yes. It would be like adopting her. So... Why not?
Later that afternoon, Sai walked back from the manor of the Dark Sage. His grandfather had approved of his plan. Now he needed to make some final preparations... A little magic will be in order now. I wonder what colors she likes... Pink? Girls like pink...
The preparations lasted three days. On the third evening, Sai looked over his work. Perfect... On the fourth morning, he decided, it would all come together. And not a moment too soon, either. He felt a jolt of excitement rush through him. He could help his apprentice now. He could save Shepu from herself. It had to work, it just had to...
Shepu's Point of View
Shepu woke on that fourth morning to a blinding light in her eyes. Her curtains had been opened, and the sun was rising in her window. She blinked and rolled over- then let out a small shriek. Someone was in her room!
The figure straitened, a greenish maiden about Shepu's size who had been packing things in a little trunk. "Oh, please, miss, please don't be afraid! I won't hurt you! I'm only here to take you to your new home!"
Shepu blinked. "N-new home?"
"Why, yes," the girl, an Aqua Spirit, smiled. "Now, up with you! Out of bed!"
Shepu didn't move. "What new home?"
The Aqua Spirit blinked. "You mean you weren't informed? Well, if he didn't tell you yet, than it's not my place to do so. Up with you!"
Shepu grudgingly got out of bed. The Spirit smiled and held out her training uniform. Shepu scowled and went down the hall and into the bathroom to change. When she was finally dressed and ready, she went back to see what the green girl was doing. The Aqua Spirit was just snapping the locks on the trunk shut. "All right. Come along, then!"
"Listen, either you come with me, or I'll go back alone and he'll come get you himself and I'll get in trouble! Please, just come with me!"
"At least tell me who 'he' is!"
"Not my place, now come along!"
Shepu followed the Spirit out of her little house, fuming. What is going on here? Boy, when I meet whoever arranged this, I'm giving him a good-sized piece of my mind.
They walked down the streets, the Aqua Spirit carrying the little trunk, and finally arrived at a pair of large gates. The Spirit smiled. "We're here!" Pushing open the gates with her foot, she led Shepu inside.
Shepu gasped. A sprawling mansion sat before her, surrounded by gardens and pathways lined with hedges. Tall marble pillars flanked the doorway. She followed the Spirit up the path, eyes wide as she looked around her. Small twinkling lights darted about the bushes. Fairies! Real, live fairies! She climbed the marble stairs one by one, admiring the carved pillars. So beautiful... Finally, she stood in front of the great, intricately carved double doors. The door on the left creaked open, and a tall figure stepped out. Shepu's heart skipped a beat.
Sai's Point of View
Sai chucked at the startled look on his apprentice's face. "Hello, Shepu."
"What... what's going on?"
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" He smiled gently. "You're going to live here now, where you'll be taken care of."
"I can take care of myself," the girl grumbled.
Sai shook his head. "You've already proved that to be untrue, Shepu. But don't worry. You'll enjoy it here." He paused. "As it is, I have a fairly large library you might like. There are some very rare books you wouldn't find at the public library..."
"So... I'll be able to continue my studies?"
"Yes, of course you will. Come on now, I'll show you to your room."
Fifteen minutes later, Sai walked back downstairs into his study, giving the girl a chance to adjust to her new surroundings. It was risky, taking her into his home like this, but he could not watch her wasting away without making some sort of effort to help her. He leaned back in the most comfortable chair by the fire and closed his eyes. Dear Ra... please don't let her hate me for this... please...
Shepu's Point of View
Shepu flopped back at the large bed, staring at the pink canopy above her. Why had he done this? She didn't need to be looked after like... like a child! Tears stung her eyes. Was that what he thought? That she was a child? Some little girl who couldn't take care of herself? Shepu scowled. If that was how he viewed her, fine. She'd be better than him someday, after all, so it didn't really matter.
There was a knock at the door, and the Aqua Spirit came in, carrying a large tray. "Well, you're here! Do you like it?" She didn't wait for an answer, but set the tray on a bedside table, and Shepu saw that it was loaded with fruits and pastries. "Just eat your fill, now, that's a girl." The Spirit beamed as Shepu picked up a pastry. "Now, my name is Marjorie, and if there's anything you need, anything at all, you just tell me! I gathered a few basic toiletries, they're in the little trunk, and your books will be brought later on. Don't worry about you're wardrobe, I imagine you'll be getting an all new one anyway, as Master had me see what you had, and really, there wasn't much there." She giggled. "Oh, but he has been exited about this, really, he has. We thought he'd sit back and let us prepare things, but, no, not him. Master was right in the middle of it, getting things ready for you. Even had us clean up the gardens, and he hasn't bothered with them for years now! And of course, when it was all green again, the fairies just moved in. Oh, it's been some fun, getting ready for you to live with us! It's been so long since Master's ever taken such an interest in this place!"
Shepu stared at Marjorie blankly. Marjorie grinned.
"Oh, it's not that he doesn't care, it's just that he's so busy all the time! There are meetings to attend, parties to go to..."
"Why, of course! Master has quite a busy social life. I imagine you'll start accompanying him now..."
Hell no! "I don't want to go to any parties."
Marjorie turned to look at her. "You don't?" Shepu shook her head. "Oh... oh, dear... That is a problem..."
"And why is that a problem?"
"Well, you see..." The Aqua Spirit fidgeted. "The Annual Spellcasters Ball is tomorrow night, and... well..."
"And?" He'd better not be expecting me to go.
"And he's already ordered a dress for you and everything..."
"A dress... He's ordered you a dress..."
"How... dare... he..."
Marjorie's Point of View
Marjorie stepped back, wishing she could put something, anything, between herself and Shepu's obvious rage.
Why's she so angry? I'd give anything to be in her shoes! Having someone as well-known and as... as positively handsome as the Dark Magician taking me to a ball, living in this house as a guest, being treated like a... a princess or something! And she seems positively enraged!
"I'm not... going... to any... parties..." The young mage almost snarled as she spoke. "I'm not going to be treated... like some silly little girl... I don't need to be waited on... or looked after... I... can take care... of myself."
Marjorie backed away further. "But..."
"No buts. He can't make me go anywhere or do anything I don't want to do. There is nothing, nothing at all, that will keep me from my training. He can just send the stupid dress back. I'm not going."
"But Miss... please be reasonable..."
"Go away! Just go away!"
Sai's Point of View
Sai's thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He opened his eyes. "Come in."
The door opened, and a slight figure stepped in. It was Yuzuke, a gentle Spirit of the Breeze who saw to the needs of the household. She looked concerned. "Sir... I don't know how to say this, but Marjorie just came downstairs from taking breakfast up to young Miss Shepu, and she was absolutely in tears."
Sai sat up. "In tears? Why?" What has that little idiot done now?
"It would seem that Miss Shepu was rather, well, hostile towards her."
He sighed. "I'll go speak to her, don't worry." He trudged upstairs and knocked on the door of the girl's room. "Shepu?" No answer. "Shepu, are you in there?"
"Go away." The girl's tone of voice was sharp. "Go away and leave me alone."
Yep. She hates me now. Sai pushed the door open and stepped inside. "Shepu..." She threw a pillow at him. He sidestepped it, walking towards her slowly. "Shepu, listen to me..." He dodged another pillow. "I'm not doing this to punish you for anything..." A hairbrush narrowly missed his head. "Or to control you in any way..." One of her boots landed at his feet. "Or to make your life miserable..." The other boot sailed past his left arm. "Or to interfere with your studies..." Her small staff flew at him, and he caught it. "Stop throwing things, Shepu, and listen to me." He had to duck to keep from getting hit in the head by her helm; he had to fight not to loose his temper at her. "Shepu, that's enough! I said stop throwing things and I meant it. Now, will you please just listen to me?"
"Just leave me alone." Shepu pulled her knees up to her chin, sulking.
"Shepu..." Sai sat down on the edge of the bed. "Listen, Shepu, I'm honestly trying to help you by bringing you here to live with me. I'm trying to make your life better for you, not worse."
"How, by treating me like a little kid?"
"I'm not trying to treat you like a child, honest. I know you're not a child." Although, I am having my doubts just about now... "I'm just trying to keep you from harming yourself."
"Yeah, right, by dragging me off to some stupid ball. By the way, I'm not going."
"Marjorie mentioned that, did she?" The little blabbermouth.
"You can't make me go. You can just send the stupid dress back."
He shook his head. "You're right... I can't make you go... but I was hoping you would anyway. It would be a good chance for you to meet other spellcasters." He tilted his head to one side. "And, of course, it would be an excellent opportunity to see the palace of Exodia up close."
"The palace?" Shepu almost looked interested.
"Of course. After all, that will be where the ball is held..." He raised an eyebrow. "And, of course, the galleries would be open... you could see some neat things, maybe learn a bit..."
"Well... okay. But I'm NOT going to dance or... or make a fool of myself. I'm only going to see the palace!"
"All right." Well... It's a start...
Shepu's Point of View
She had never felt this obstinate in her entire life.
Shepu leaned back against the headboard after Master Sai left. Why was he trying to force her into things? Oh, she'd go to the dumb ball, but only to see the palace. And she would NOT enjoy herself.
She looked around her new room. The walls were white, the carpet was bright pink and very thick. The bed frame was white, with a pink canopy and pink side curtains. The bedspread was white with pink and lavender and baby blue flowers. Pink curtains hung over the windows. Good thing I like pink... There was a white vanity, with a heart-shaped mirror and a little chair. The chair had a pink cushion, and the drawer pulls were pink as well, and shaped like hearts, like the mirror. He's never been in an actual girl's room, has he? There was a large bay window, and a window seat built in, with a large pink cushion there, too, as well as a large lavender pillow and a smaller blue one that just matched the flowers on the bedspread. Two more windows were located on either side of the bay window. A large white wardrobe stood in the corner, next to a matching dresser. She walked over and pulled the pink, heart-shaped handles. More of those heart-shaped knobs. Is there something he hasn't told me yet? They were empty. So, she saw, were the white book shelves lining the wall by the windows. So were the drawers in the vanity. So was the white trunk with the flowers painted on the lid and the clasp shaped like a pink heart. So were the single drawers in each of the two white night stands, one on either side of the bed. And still more pink heart knobs. Someone has definite gender issues...
Shepu walked over and sat on the window seat, leaning back against the large pillow. Looking out, she could see part of the gardens below her. A small fountain danced in the sunlight. She sighed. It could be worse, she decided. There could be bunnies...
I think the character I liked the most in this chapter is Marjorie. She reminds me of myself; I never shut up! She was a LOT of fun to write, and I believe that if something is fn to write, it will also be fun to read. I also especially love that very last line... So! Tell me what you think! And be on the lookout for To Life, in which I actually embrace the air-headed DMG concept- the two stories will update alternately! Aeris out!