Insert Disclaimer here: I own no parts of Yu-Gi-Oh. In fact, after dressing as Ryou Bakura at A-Kon, I don't think I even own my own soul anymore. But I do own the soul of the emcee. I won it in a Shadow Game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
A white haired teen walked briskly through the rain. His hands trembled, tightly clutching the millennium ring. He ripped the gold spikes out of his chest with surprising strength.
Waves of pain rippled through his mind as he recalled the various instances where his yami had gotten the best of him. He felt his hand impaled on the poly-resin tower. He felt his body go numb from destroying the dice. He felt the knife stab through his left arm, and his muscles fall limp. He felt his legs be greedily consumed by the shadows. Eventually the pain centered in his chest, a lasting reminder of the day he first met Yugi and saw the millennium puzzle.
The blood on his chest had already started to dry.
The rain increased as Ryou approached what resembled an old temple. A crack of lightning struck the spire above him, followed by thunder shaking the ground below. Large wooden doors eventually creaked open, revealing Yami Yugi in the dark entryway.
"Are you ready?" he asked stoically. The millennium puzzle glistened in the candlelight, the only real indicator that anyone was physically there.
"Yes." Ryou answered with nearly steadfast determination. He pulled the millennium ring from around his neck, and let it dangle from his left hand. "I am ready. When can we begin?"
It had only been a week since he spoke with Isis and Malik. The former had mentioned a way to rid the ring of the thief king's wicked spirit, once and for all. And the more Ryou considered it, the more eager he was to send his dark side into the void of oblivion.
He was tired. Tired of being manipulated, of being a danger to his friends, and most importantly, he was tired of being a pawn in his yami's shadow games.
The pharaoh beckoned Ryou inside.
By the time his eyes could adjust to the darkness surrounding him, Isis had already emerged from the shadows.
"I knew you would come." She whispered, startling the young teen. The ring jangled at his side. "My brother is waiting for us inside."
Ryou gulped. The candlelight against her dark skin gave her features a demonic quality.
"Don't be frightened, Ryou." Yami Yugi whispered.
"I'm not frightened." He lied, feeling the weight of the ring double as his spirit thrashed violently from within it. In the back of his mind, he could hear his yami shouting curses at him. He tried his best to ignore them, lest he fall back on the promise he made to the pharaoh.
"This is a ritual of purification." Isis stated calmly, leading Ryou down a long stairway. "No force of darkness can stand up to its power."
"Malik recently translated the words necessary to invoke the incantation." Yami Yugi elaborated. "As soon as Isis realized what he had discovered, he contacted me. I instantly thought of you."
Ryou nodded weakly. His chest hurt.
The pharaoh knew Yami Bakura was listening. He could feel the spirit's fear. Some of it was no doubt rubbing off on his hikari.
"We have tried so many times to destroy the millennium ring." Yami Yugi sighed. "But no matter what we did, the ring would always return to you. Just like it did at Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, and here in Dominio a few months ago."
Again, Ryou nodded silently.
"But this time will be different."
"Yes, Ryou." Isis interrupted. "Your friends had good intentions, but they were approaching the problem from the wrong angle. The ring cannot be destroyed. But it can be cleansed."
"You mean, my yami will…"
"He will be purified." Yami Yugi answered. "Isis says it has worked well in the past."
The ring shook, as though the spirit inside was throwing himself against the walls, trying to break them apart.
"We used this ritual on Malik." Isis continued. "To rid him of whatever still remained of the evil spirit his soul created."
Ryou thought back to Battle City, and shuddered at the evil spirit that had sent his body, as well as his soul, into the shadow realm.
"The darkness was completely destroyed. Malik is safe."
"But what about you, pharaoh?" Ryou finally found his voice. "Have you…"
"I cleansed my own darkness, Ryou." Yami Yugi sighed, "Through my recent battle with Dartz, and the wicked Seal of Oricalkos."
"The pharaoh is not a prisoner to his dark side, and young Yugi is not burdened by it." Isis added. "With so many mysteries still unsolved within the millennium puzzle, I worry about subjecting the item to such a ritual. But with the ring…"
"This item has been tainted for three millennia." Yami Yugi announced. "The spirit inside was born of the darkness, from a thief's appetite for vengeance. He cannot overcome the darkness, because he is the darkness."
Again, the ring shook violently, the gold spikes clamoring against each other with powerful dissonance.
"You do wish to rid yourself of the darkness, correct?" Isis finally asked.
Ryou paused. He could hear his yami's shouts turn to pleading. The spirit was begging, cursing and begging.
"Yes." Ryou nodded, listening to Yami Bakura scream. He remembered everything that happened to his friends. He didn't want to go through with this, but the situation had left him little choice. He finally continued, "We have all suffered long enough."
Isis opened another door, leading Ryou and the pharaoh into a small chamber. Malik was already there, sitting on a small stone bench against the far wall. He glanced up when Ryou walked by.
"Isis said you would come."
"Thanks to you, I can finally be free of…" his voice trailed off as the ring swung towards Ryou on its own accord. The spikes missed him, much to Yami Bakura's dismay.
"I am only glad that I can help…" Malik continued, "after everything that happened back in Battle City… it is the least that I can do to make it up to you."
"I know it wasn't your fault." Ryou smiled. "You were possessed by the darkness."
Malik smiled back. There was an unspoken pact of forgiveness between the two teens.
"Pharaoh…" Malik finally spoke again. "It would be best if you could wait outside."
Yami Yugi nodded. The force of the ritual would be too strong for him to endure. He had arrived at the temple because Yugi wanted to see that Ryou was safe, but this is where his involvement had to stop.
"I will wait on the steps of the temple, Ryou." Yami Yugi smiled. "You can meet me there when the ritual is over."
He gave the white haired teen a gentle hug before climbing back up the winding staircase.
"Trust Isis." He added. "Her soul is good. Everything is going to be fine."
Ryou nodded again.
Ripples of emotions rose from the millennium ring, a potent tincture of anger and fear. It was just like Yami Yugi predicted. The tomb robber was actually afraid.
Again, Ryou pushed it to the back of his mind. He had to… if he didn't, he might not have the courage to go through with the purification ritual.
"Are you ready, Ryou?" Isis asked softly.
"Then place the millennium ring on the altar."
Ryou took the ring in both hands. Again, he could feel his yami's outbursts. They were so strong, that the ring literally vibrated in his hands. After a long sigh, he walked slowly to the front of the concave, and placed the ring on the stone altar. The sound of gold against the cold rock stung Ryou's heart.
He carefully backed away.
Isis whispered several Egyptian prayers as she lit a series of white candles on and around the altar. Ryou didn't understand any of the words, but from her actions, he guessed she was asking Ra for protection or guidance.
"What's happening?" he whispered to Malik.
"She is purifying her soul before the ritual." He answered. "As we both know, confrontations with spirits are dangerous. If an impure soul attempts this ritual, there is a chance that they would be possessed by the dark spirit, instead of driving it out."
"Don't worry." Malik comforted him. "She is strong in the forces of light. Her ka will protect her."
Ryou watched Isis' as she burned a small piece of parchment, allowing the smoke to waft around her body like a spirit in its own right. She drew a deep cleansing breath, and turned back to face him.
"I am now ready." Her voice echoed, more serene than before.
"Isis…" Ryou interrupted the gentle echo.
"Will… will there be anything left of my yami… when you're finished with the ritual?" he asked meekly.
Malik placed a hand over Ryou's shoulder.
"If there is any light in him, that will remain." The tomb keeper sighed. "Only the evil will be destroyed."
"But what if there is no light?"
"Then nothing will remain." Isis added, kneeling before the altar. She started chanting.
Malik joined her, echoing her Egyptian chant. Ryou simply stood in silence, listening to the voice of his yami echo in his head.