Chapter 12: On the Trail We Blaze

The Shadow Realm, outside of time

"Darling! Darling!"

Yugi could hardly breathe. The air around him pressed against his chest. 'Dark air... Evil energy... All around... Hurts to move…'

"Darling! Please be alive!"

Yugi forced his eyes open. Rebecca shook him again. "You're okay!" She pulled at him. "Hurry! Get up!"

Yugi groaned. The fall had bruised him somewhat, and his face hurt from hitting stone. The dark energy of the Shadow Realm seriously damages all pure-hearted souls who enter, and Yugi knew he might not last very long without a shield charm. Shaking the cobwebs from his head, he asked, "Rebecca? What happened?"

She hugged onto him. "It's dark, it's cold, and I'm scared! Get me out of here, Darling!"

Yugi grunted, pulling his arm away to pick up the Shen. 'Rebecca must be feeling the effects of the dark powers here, too,' Yugi decided. 'No pure-soul deserves this! I've got to protect her!' He held the magical object above his head. The light shone over them both, and Yugi felt his lungs fill with clean life. "That's better!"

"What was that," asked Rebecca.

"Something to keep us going until we find help." As Rebecca awed at the Shen, Yugi looked around. They were definitely in the Shadow Realm; no mistaking the purple and black clouds and endless stretch of space. They landed on a bridge of sorts made of cobblestones. Behind them was the mirror, or at least it's other worldly duplicate. That must have been how they arrived. The bridge lead to a stone archway, which further lead to the dark depths of a large rock floating amidst the magic of the Shadow Realm. It appeared to have been part of a greater whole, but of what Yugi did not know.

"Come on," said Yugi, pulling Rebecca towards the archway.

"But... the mirror..."

"If it managed to pull us through, then a spell triggers it. Without the proper spell, I can't reverse the portal to take us back to our world. And I don't know one by heart." [1] He squinted, trying to make out the writing on the top of the archway. "We ought to at least find out where we are."

"What makes you think we can," asked Rebecca, pulling away from him. "Let's get away from here!"

"Hang on!" Yugi lifted the Shen higher to read by the light. "'En memorium et Manetho.' That means 'In memory of'... something."

"Manetho," said Rebecca impatiently. "He was a historian from Ptolemic times! He was connected to the Mediterranean coastal areas, including Rome, Greece, Crete, Egypt, and Libya!"

"Right," said Yugi, trying to not snap at the know-it-all. "He was an Egyptian priest who wrote the first whole recorded history of Egypt."

"Not whole. It was never fully found!"

"Either way," Yugi added, raising his voice to talk over Rebecca, "he's connected to whatever this is. Looks like a city of sorts." He examined the walls. "But Manetho lived around the fall of the pharaohs of Egypt. Magic in practice had died long ago, so he couldn't've been taught how to come here. Unless someone else knew magic - and him. But why this crumbling memorial?"

"Looks like a pathway to me."

Yugi only just realized that Rebecca had stepped through the archway. "Rebecca!!" Yugi cautiously walked through and grabbed her wrist. "Are you crazy? We don't know if something might be booby-trapped! Don't move or touch anything unless I sense its okay first, got it?"

Rebecca stared at him for a moment. "Any ideas?"

"A few," he lied. "If this is a maze, as it appears to be, we'll have to take things slowly and surely. There are bound to be obstacles." He held up the Shen to light the way. "Stay close behind me. I'll keep you safe."

The two walked along the narrow passages and silence. They took each left turn, so as not to get lost or miss a room. Most of the walls had little design on them; perhaps a line or pattern for decoration. The floor was checkered, with half of the stones tinted green. Yugi kept his eyes open for any movement. By the time half an hour had passed with no incident, Rebecca suggested that it may be a sign they were headed the wrong direction. "Maybe we should turn back."

"We've come too far already," Yugi insisted. He scanned the present fork, shining his light cautiously down both passages. "Besides, I'd rather be sure to find the exit later than not find it at all." He made to go down the next left passage, but noticed that Rebecca's footsteps had stopped. "Rebecca!"

She peeked around at the right passage. "Shh! I thought I heard something!"

Yugi grabbed her arm, tired of her in many ways. "All the more reason to move this way!"

Rebecca's eyebrow rose. "You take longer to act than your brother, you know that?"

"Yami's more powerful than me."

"Says who?" She used Yugi's own grip to pull him closer to her. "I'll bet that you've gotten better than him since he retired. You've always been cleverer than him!"

Yugi stared at her. Why does she think she is such an authority on magic; she's never had any powers of her own. Unless she has read many books on the subject, which he always found to be inaccurate. "I don't want you getting hurt, Rebecca."

She leaned closer, her nose nearly touching his. "You do care!"

Yugi closed his eyes, pushed her to arm's length, and sighed. "I do, but not the way you want me to." He pushed her away a few inches and looked deeply into her eyes. "I love Anzu, Rebecca. I do not love you. After all of this, I doubt I ever could!"

Rebecca's eyes widen. Yugi may as well have slapped her. Reality seemed to crash down around her. She looked away, stricken. Yugi's heart went out to her. Rejection is tough, and he may have gone a bit too far. But she needed to know the truth. He owed her that much. And now, she needed a friend. He tried to touch her shoulder, but she pulled away. And with a sob, she fled down the right passageway.

"Rebecca!" Yugi flew after her, forgetting his concentration on the shield charm. All he knew was he had to make certain Rebecca was safe!

This passage ran straight down the center. Yugi caught up to Rebecca at the entrance to a larger room. She leaned against the stone column at the entrance, gasping for breath. When she heard Yugi's approach, she took one step inside.

The whole hallway seemed to light up. Darts shot from different angles at Yugi, who was still running to catch up with Rebecca. He quickly chanted a spell to set up a shield around him, but not before a couple darts hit his arms and legs. Poison seeped into Yugi's bloodstream, and he collapsed onto the stone floor. Rebecca screamed for him, but could not enter for fear of the same fate.

Behind her, a stone statue in the form of a minotaur grabbed her shoulders. She struggled to fight its grasp. "Let go of me," she shrieked. It dragged her further into the room out of sight.

Yugi opened his eyes, his body shaking. "Rebecca!" He pulled the Shen closer to himself, willing it to heal him faster. He got to the point where he could stand and pushed the shield further, destroying the mechanisms which shot the poisoned darts at him. "Rebecca, I'm on my way!" He dashed down the hall the rest of the way.

Another stone archway, the end of the maze, led to a blue sky with white clouds. The Minotaur grew wings, clutching Rebecca close to it. The blonde girl was crying in fear. "Yugi! Help me!"

"Rebecca!" Yugi tried to reach her, but the Minotaur fell backwards, disappearing into the clouds below.

Yugi grabbed a hold of the archway to search for her. He finally spotted her and her captor flying in the direction of an island. From the distance, he could see tall buildings resembling castles, expansive forests, and long stretches of beach. But there was no way he could get there as he was.

Yugi pulled himself back inside Manetho's maze. He leaned his back against the archway, feeling totally helpless. 'No! This can't be happening!' He slid down until he sat on the stone floor. 'After all of this time, people I care about are still getting hurt… because I wasn't able to save them! I'm so sorry, Rebecca!'

One thing he knew for sure: He needed to tell Yami! Not only was there a new way to enter the Shadow Realm, but the Duel Monsters were taking people to a strange area beyond it. He looked around back into view of the island. Oddly, it seemed to be closer. Odder still, it looked familiar. He watched in wonder as the entire island seemed to be coming closer to the opening. It came to a halt once the archway was hovering over the nearest beach.

"Good God… That castle in the center… It's the Duel Monster World!"

-0-

Yugi had a hard time finding his way out of the maze. He was convinced that the walls were changing even as he walked on. After what felt like hours, he spotted the stone archway with the Latin inscription. "Rebecca, I'll apologize for thinking you were a smartass when I see you" he promised aloud. In a small way, the statement salved his conscience for the time being.

He ran across the floating bridge to the mirror and began searching for a possible hint to the spell. Nothing on the mirror except the Seal of Orichalcos, and that alone gave Yugi traumatic flashbacks of worse times. "It must be something else," he thought aloud. "A knob, a trap, a gesture…"

The Mirror of Manethos began to swirl in a vortex portal. Yugi jumped into it, letting it pull him back to the museum and his friends.

-0-

7:14pm, November 15th, New York City, USA

Yugi landed face-first on the carpeted floors of the museum. 'Once,' he thought angrily, 'just once, I'd like to go through a portal and not end up in pain!' He heard his name shouted a few times as two sets of arms pulled him to a kneeling position.

"Yug, what the hell happened," asked Terri on his right.

"Can you stand, Yugi," asked Hawkins on his left.

"Are you okay," asked Anzu in front of him.

"What's going on," asked Brandon from somewhere behind him.

Yugi just gave a nod. His head still spun from the affects of the Shadow Realm. "R-Rebecca… Rebecca was taken… I'm not sure what it was…" He looked up at Hawkins meaningfully. "I couldn't save her! I'm so sorry!"

Hawkins looked shocked. "What took her? Where does that lead?"

"I…" Yugi looked away. "I don't know… But it's nothing from this world!"

"But you have only been gone for ten minutes!"

"Ten minutes?!" Yugi cried out. "We've been gone at least an hour!"

"Perhaps there is a time lapse," suggested Destiny, who stayed well away from the mirror and the others. "Think about the myths of Avalon; one day here is one hour there. This might not be as extreme a difference, but it is noticeable."

Terri looked at his watch. "So while we're here yappin', Becky's been gone for around twenty minutes?!"

"We've got to get her back!" Everyone turned to look at Brandon. The millionaire's son had his back to them, facing the mirror. "If someone has been hurt by this, I take full responsibility. This belonged to my family, and even if I don't understand it, I feel as though it is my job to handle the situation."

"Are you insane," cried Anzu. "You just said you have no idea what it is?"

"Or how to get there," added Destiny.

"It's a spell," said Yugi, no longer caring if he might give himself away. If Brandon felt responsible, Yugi must be ten times guiltier! Ra's blood, what happened to him! "Spells can trigger the opening of magic devices like this. All we have to do is figure out what we said!"

"You two were arguing when it opened," supplied Anzu.

"Okay… What did we say exactly?"

"We couldn't hear most of it."

"Somethin' about betrayin' Yami's trust!" Terri's perfect memory hummed as he mentally recounted the fight.

"Do not say it," said Yugi. "Write it down!"

Terri got out his small sketchbook and a pencil. "Let's see… When the portal opened, Yug had just said dis." He wrote, 'I'm sick of you trying to pull us apart again!' "Den Becky said dis." 'And I'm tired of you accusing me all the time.'

"Exactly when did it open, after my words or Rebecca's?"

"Yours."

Yugi took the paper and pencil and wrote his own mutterings before returning through the mirror. "It must be something else: A knob, a trap, a gesture…"

"You seem to know a lot about this stuff," commented Brandon suspiciously.

"I read a lot," Yugi responded. He started at the writing. If the magical object was a mirror, perhaps the counter spell was the reverse of the original. That often occurs in spells on objects. He looked at the writing carefully, then gasped. "This is it!" He underlined the word "apart" and the phrase "trap a".

"That must be it!" exclaimed Anzu.

"Worth a shot," reasoned Terri.

Brandon nodded. "This is the best we have for now. Still, before we jump into a potentially dangerous adventure like this, I'm going to get my medical bag. Tinkerbe-"

"'Ey! At least call me Toriello!"

"You can get us some sleeping bags from the theatre. There are at least four left over from our Camp Broadway production. Ann, Yugi…" He considered them. See what kinds of protein bars and bottled water we can lay our hands on. I'll pay you back for everything, so save your receipts."

"Why do you care so much?" asked Anzu suspiciously.

Brandon looked at them very seriously. "That thing is my mirror! I consider it my responsibility to help save Rebecca! Besides…" his eyes focused on Professor Hawkins. "No one deserves to suffer the loss of a young family member. Not like that!"

A part of Yugi wanted to ask what Brandon meant by that statement. There was something beneath the playboy surface that Brandon had intended to keep hidden. Yugi used to believe in the goodness in every human heart. Perhaps Brandon hid his better traits, or Yugi had been so blinded by jealousy to bother searching for them. His eyes were covered in shadow in his shame. "I agree. No matter how much Rebecca and I argue she's still my friend." Yugi casted his eyes back up to Brandon. "What do you need me to do?"

-0-

Anzu and Yugi dragged in four large backpacks worth of supplies with Destiny's help. The aqua-haired girl had been very quiet the past hour, even after she had offered her services in gathering their materials. She kept staring at them behind their backs, and then turning away each time they almost caught her. Her heart sank as she witnessed Terri arriving jovially with five sleeping bags. "I'm not coming."

"Why not," he asked, crestfallen.

"I… I'm afraid…"

"'Ey, you don't need to be scared while I'm around!" He nudged her playfully. "I'll protect ya if Yug an' Pretty Boy don' step up!"

Destiny blushed bright red. Of all of the people to touch her, it had to be Terri! "I… I…"

"It's alright, Destiny," said Anzu as she attached the sleeping bags to the backpacks. "We all understand that we're getting into a bad situation."

Terri groaned. "My ma's gonna kill me when I don' show up fer Thanksgivin' dinnah!"

Yugi closed his cell phone. "I tried calling Yami eight times!"

"Did you try Nazo," asked Anzu.

"Twice! Same with Jiichan, Okaasan, and even Jonouchi!"

Anzu walked over and kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry you couldn't tell them you wouldn't be reachable for a while."

Yugi chuckled darkly. "Believe me, I'm sorry, too!"

"Everybody ready to go," Brandon called out as he entered the room. The medical bag he was carrying was very old fashioned: Black bag that snapped shut at the top with a red cross on the side. His eyes narrowed at Terri, who obviously wanted to make a joke. "Don't get smart! It was my grandfather's bag in the Korean War!"

"Wasn't dat a police action?"

Brandon ignored the transvestite and proceeded to look over the contents of one of the bags. "Not exactly the best of rations, but you guys did a good job of covering the essentials."

"My dad liked to take me camping," said Anzu, who was still wary of Brandon's attitude.

"It shows." He shouldered his bag, looking at them over his shoulder. "You all coming or not?"

"I'm coming," said Anzu, lifting her bag as best she could.

Terri helped her lift it from behind. "I'm gettin' my Becky back, safe an' sound," he declared with confidence.

Yugi gulped. If they were really going back to the Duel Monster Realm, then sooner or later he would have to tell them about his past life. He hated to go back on a promise to Yami, but he would have no choice! Their lives might depend on his magic!

But how will Anzu, Terri, and Brandon react?

"I'm ready," said Yugi.

Brandon gave a nod and stood in front of his mirror. "Apart!"

The mirror began to glow, and the vortex appeared. Yugi and his friends were whisked away to their next adventure: Duel Monster Kingdom.

-0-

[1] Spells into the SR - Yugi knows that the Mil. Items can open doors in and out, but does not know them by heart. He had Keiko read him a spell from Seto's notes in YLPII to rescue Yami-tachi.

-0-

Una: Yes, yes, its been a year. A number of factors have contributed to my lack of muses. I am sincerly sorry, from the bottom of my heart. I do want to finish this saga at some point. All I ask is that I get some reviews. I put a lot of effort into the big chapter before this, and didn't get very many reviews. My confidence in my story went downhill from there, as did my inspiration and motivation to complete it. Let's hope they continue singing as I reformat all of my stories again!