Hooray! The first duel of the story! This is going to be fun. The next five chapters will take place simultaneously. I claim this bandwidth in the name of Mars. Isn't that lovely? They're all going to be duels so some may be shorter and some may be longer, depending on how creative I can get with the duels and the decks themselves. Originally, these duels were all going to take place in the same chapter, but I decided to make this thing super-special-awesomely long by extending as much as I possibly could. My plan was to make these duels the final touches to the story and then I started thinking and I came up with ideas that I haven't seen in other works thus far. Why do I explain my reasoning behind each chapter? So you all can know. And knowing is half the battle! So now read, review, and tell your friends! And tell your mother! And tell your friend's mother! And tell your mother's friends!

Chapter 5: Shadow – Envoy of the Dark Abyss

(Shadow Realm, Dark Field)

"I can't walk another step!" Téa cried out and collapsed to her knees. "I'm so tired, my legs feel like jelly."

"Wow, Téa, you're really out of shape," Yugi told her. "We've only been walking for a few minutes."

"Try a few hours," she replied. "Excuse me for not having endless stamina like you do."

Yugi frowned at his friend. "Hours? That can't be right. We decided to start walking only a little while ago."

"You think I'm lying?" Téa shot back. "Does it look like I've been walking for a couple minutes?"

"Alright, alright," Yugi gave in. He sat next to her, hoping not to start a fight. The last thing they needed was to be lost with bad tempers. "We'll rest for awhile, okay? It doesn't seem like we're making all that much headway anyway."

"Thanks, Yugi," Téa smiled. "You're always looking out for me. By the way, have you remembered where you've seen this place before?"

"I think so," he told her thoughtfully. "Well, at least I know of something that looks a lot like it. It was on a Duel Monsters card. A spell card called Yami. No relation to the Pharaoh, of course."

"Based on a Duel Monsters card…?" Téa wondered out loud. "Or maybe it's the other way around. Pegasus made the game based on the legends he found, right? What if this is what the Yami card is based on?"

"Then that would mean…" Yugi continued. He gasped. "That would mean that this is the Shadow Realm!"

Téa shut her eyes and hung her head. "I was afraid you were going to say that…"

"Hey! Don't worry, Téa!" Yugi said to comfort her. "I've been in the Shadow Realm more than once before and I came back just fine every time! It'll be the same for us this time too!"

Téa smiled weakly at him. "I hope so. And I hope everyone else will make it back as well."

"Don't worry about them," Yugi told her. Téa looked up at him in surprise. How was she supposed to not worry about them? "It's only us here. I bet you anything that the others are back home already, trying to figure out a way to get us back!" Suddenly, a look of horror came over his face. "Oh, no…if we're both here…that means…there's no one to keep Joey and Tristan out of my refrigerator!"

Téa forced a short laugh. Her nerves were too shot to produce any true laughter, but she knew Yugi's attempt at humor was for her sake to make her feel better. That's how he dealt with difficult things after Yami had left. He had admitted that Yami always had some encouraging words for him whenever he got down, but since he had left, Yugi had to find another way of picking himself up again. Dry humor, apparently, was his new way.

"Hey, Téa? Do you hear that?" Yugi asked softly.

"Hear what?" Téa asked him, surprised at his sudden seriousness. She strained her ears trying to hear whatever Yugi had picked up but to no avail. "I don't hear a thing. It's probably your imagination."

"No, I definitely heard something," Yugi told her. His tone made it clear that he wasn't making it up. "It sounded like metal. But it was steady, like someone walking."

"You're very perceptive, little one," a raspy voice echoed around them. "Even though your mind was clouded by the Shadow Realm, you still heard my approach."

"Alright, Yugi, you win. You heard something," Téa whimpered as she scooted closer to her friend.

Yugi ignored her. "Who are you and what do you want?" Yugi called out into the darkness. He couldn't see anyone or anything around him nor could he even tell which direction the voice came from.

"I am a servant of the Dark Lord," the strange voice hissed. "I am known as Shadow and I am here to claim your souls."

"Well, you can't just take our souls! You won't get them without a fight!" Yugi yelled into the darkness. His outburst surprised Téa. Yugi had been so shy and timid in the past. Sure he had always been there to protect his friends, but he had never been so proactive about it.

Shadow cackled evilly. "Now, who said there wouldn't be a fight? The Shadow Realm only accepts souls that have been lost," he rasped. A faded purple aura grew in front of them and gradually took on a humanoid shape. The shape became more detailed and solid as the seconds passed until the full form of a suit of dark purple armor trimmed in gold was complete. A dark shadow crept along the ground and slid up inside the armor and pushed out again in the places the head and hands would be. The extensions formed into two three-digit hands and a smooth, elongated head. No face appeared except for two narrow red eyes.

"Okay, that's really creepy," Téa shuddered. Yugi said nothing though. His eyes were trained determinately on their antagonist.

"You humans are unfamiliar with the true magic of the Shadow Realm, so these will suffice for our game," Shadow told them. His hand waved and Kaiba Corp duel disks appeared on their arms. At the same time, Shadow's left gauntlet morphed into its own version of a duel disk. "And now we will duel, two against one. But even so, don't think the odds are in your favor."

"No. Leave Téa out of this. Duel only me," Yugi said boldly.

"Yugi, let me help," Téa begged softly. "I know I'm not nearly as good as you or Brian, but my soul is on the line too. And the sooner we finish this guy off, the sooner we can get out of here."

"Téa…" Yugi tried to talk her down. He could see Téa's will in her eyes, however, and realized that she wouldn't back down so easily. "Alright. Just be careful. I don't want to lose you in the shadows."

"Pathetic humans," Shadow grumbled. "Just make your move so I can send you into oblivion!"

"Fine then!" Yugi said as he drew his first card. Not a bad hand, but still not the greatest. "I'll set these two cards face down, then summon Skilled White Magician in attack mode!" Yugi's white robed monster appeared and tapped its staff on the ground in a ready position. "And now I'll end my turn and shift the duel over to Téa."

"What?" Téa murmured, momentarily forgetting she was in the duel as well. "Oh! Right!" She drew her card then looked her hand over carefully. What do I do? I'm no good at this! If I mess up Yugi's strategy we're done for!

"Come on, Téa. Take your turn," Yugi's kind voice broke into her thoughts. She looked at him expecting to see him glaring at her for taking so long. Instead, his eyes radiated encouragement.

Yugi uses spellcaster monsters. So maybe this can help him… "I summon Gemini Elf in attack mode!" Téa's twin elves appeared, flew around each other, then floated back to back next to Yugi's Magician. "I also set this face down and that's all."

"Not a bad start for you, kids," Shadow hissed. He drew then seemed to glare at his cards. "But these pathetic cards will never do. Time to start over, Card Destruction!"

Téa's jaw dropped and she looked at her hand sadly. They weren't her best cards, but they still might have helped. Reluctantly, she folded her hand and placed it in the graveyard slot in her duel disk. Yugi, on the other hand, grinned. "Thanks to your spell card, my Skilled White Magician gains one spell counter," he spoke up.

"No Matter," Shadow replied. "I get five new cards. Ah, this is much better. I set these two face down, as well as a monster face down. And now it's little Yugi's turn again."

Yugi drew and frowned at his hand. Two powerful monsters but no way to get them out yet. I guess I'll just have to use this for now. "I summon Skilled Dark Magician!" Yugi's second Magician appeared, this one the exact opposite of his first. It held its staff horizontally in front of it. He only has one monster. I can clear it out now, hit him for some heavy damage, then Téa can do even more. Yugi and Téa looked at each other momentarily and nodded to one another, apparently thinking the same thing. "Now I'll attack your face down monster! Skilled White Magician, attack with White Magic Purge!"

Yugi's Magician raised its staff. The tip glowed with a white light, then sent several orbs streaming towards Shadow's face down monster. The monster appeared for only a second before it was engulfed in the attack. "Why thank you, Yugi," Shadow laughed. "When you destroyed my Mystic Tomato, its effect activated. It allows me to summon a Dark attribute monster in its place. And my choice is another Mystic Tomato!"

"That's fine with me," Yugi told him calmly. "Your monster is summoned in attack position, meaning my other Magician can destroy that too, but also take some of your life points with it. Skilled Dark Magician, attack with Dark Magic Purge!"

The second Magician attacked the same way as the first, with the exception that Skilled Dark Magician attacked with a deep violet ray. Shadow took 500 damage to his life points, but simply laughed it off. "Again you activated Mystic Tomato's effect. And now I'll summon yet another Mystic Tomato!" he informed them.

"Very well," Yugi replied calmly. I need to keep an eye on Téa's turn carefully. I destroyed his monsters easily and it didn't even faze him. I need to figure out exactly what he's up to before he can complete his task. "I end my turn there."

"My turn now!" Téa announced. She scanned her cards and an idea came to her. "Alright, watch this! I summon Fire Princess in attack mode!" There was a burst of fire on the field, but it soon cleared to reveal Téa's monster in the spot. "Next, I activate Dian Keto the Cure Master! This card gives me an additional 1000 life points, free of charge. Not only that, but it also gives Yugi's Magicians one more spell counter each as well as activates Fire Princess's effect. Whenever I gain life points, she drains you of 500 of yours!" Fire Princess raised her staff which glowed in flame. She pointed it at Shadow then released the energy. Fire danced around Shadow for a moment as his life points dropped to 7000. "For my next move, I'll attack your Mystic Tomato with Gemini Elf! Go, Gemini Double Radiation!" Téa's elves each formed its own orb of energy and launched their attacks simultaneously. The twin forces combined on impact and blew Shadow's monster away, along with 500 of his life points. "That's been three Mystic Tomatoes that you played so you're all out. You'll have to summon something else…if you can."

"Alright, Téa!" Yugi cheered. "That was a great move!" Téa turned to him and gave him a thumbs up, but Shadow merely laughed at them.

"My Mystic Tomatoes may be gone, but you've only put them right where I wanted them," he laughed. "I could have stopped your attacks several times, but I chose not to. And now you'll see why!" A yellow glow appeared on the field and from it emerged a humanoid monster in tattered robes and gold gauntlets. "My Chaos Necromancer will be your downfall!"

"How do you figure that?" Yugi asked. "Your monster has no attack power!"

"That's true, but my Necromancer doesn't attack itself," Shadow explained. "Instead, it uses its undead servant to do its work for it." With Shadow's words, Chaos Necromancer's finger tips released strands of light and pulled a zombie from the ground. It was made up of different parts of the monsters in Shadow's graveyard. "See this creature it controls? It gains 300 attack power for every monster in my graveyard."

"I don't know where you learned to count, but 900 attack isn't enough to beat any of our monsters," Téa informed him.

"How pathetic!" Shadow cackled back. "What do you think I was doing with my first move, picking flowers? No, I discarded five cards, all of which were monsters. That gives my Necromancer, not 900, but 2100 attack points!"

Téa gasped and looked at her Fire Princess, the only monster she had left to attack with. 1300 attack wasn't nearly enough to defeat the Chaos Necromancer. "I set one card face down and end my turn."

"This will come in handy later," Shadow commented when he drew. "But for now, Chaos Necromancer, obliterate that Fire Princess!" Like a puppet master controlling a puppet, Shadow's monster twitched its fingers and sent the controlled zombie at Téa's Princess. Mere moments before it struck, however, three blue-robed maidens appeared around Fire Princess.

"My trap card, Waboku, protects my monsters and my life points for one turn," Téa proclaimed proudly.

"Very well. I'll simply destroy you on my next turn," Shadow told her.

"Don't worry, Téa, I'll turn this duel back in our favor," Yugi told her as he drew his next card. Yugi flinched as he suddenly ate his words. And how am I supposed to turn it around with a hand like this? I'll have to rely on my face down cards for now. "I pass this turn."

"Wait, Yugi! You're just going to pass?" Téa cried out in shock.

"Sorry, Téa. It's all I can do for the moment," Yugi replied apologetically. "Just go ahead and take your turn."

Téa shook her head slowly. She seemed to be doing better than Yugi in this duel, and that wasn't good. Her strongest monster was already on the field and it was already outclassed. Wait, what was it that Yugi and Joey always said? Attack points aren't everything or something like that? Her gaze shifted to her Fire Princess then to her hand. Maybe I can use Fire Princess's effect to beat him. No, that would make things too easy. But maybe I can use her to stall for time until Yugi can do something. "Alright, before I draw, I activate my face down card, Solemn Wishes. This gives me 500 life points every time I draw a card. So now I'll start my turn by drawing a card. That gives me 500 life points and activates Fire Princess's effect which reduces your life points by 500." Once again, Fire Princess raised her staff and swarmed Shadow with her flames. "Now, I'll set this monster face down, change Gemini Elf and Fire Princess to defense mode, and set one more card face down. And that's all for this turn."

"Seems like your luck is rather low today," Shadow observed. "I expected as much from the girl, but such a duel coming from the former vessel of the pharaoh is rather disappointing."

"You know about that!?" Yugi asked in shock.

"Of course I do, as does my master," Shadow told him.

"So who is your master?" Yugi questioned.

"That information is of no concern to you," Shadow laughed. "You'll be losing your soul pretty soon, remember? Let's continue the duel shall we?" Shadow looked over his cards after he drew. "I'll set this monster face down. And now I'll finish what I started last turn. Chaos Necromancer, destroy that Fire Princess now!"

"You failed last time and you'll fail again," Téa told him. "I activate Waboku!"

"You're only delaying the inevitable," Shadow growled as he ended his turn.

Yugi's next card surprised him. Millennium Power! This is the card Brian gave to me. Let's see if I can make this work. "You'd better pay attention, Shadow, because my next move will make your head spin. First, I'll activate Monster Reborn to bring back my Magician's Valkyria. Before she comes back though, I'll use my face down Serial Spell card to duplicate Monster Reborn's effect at the cost of 1000 life points. This time I choose to revive the Mystical Elf in Téa's graveyard. Now that I've activated two spell cards, all of the spell counters on my Skilled Magicians are now active, but I'll get to that later. For my next card, I'll need your help, Téa."

"My help?" came Téa's confused reply. "Well, alright, but I don't know what you want me to do."

"You don't need to do anything, Téa. I just need your permission," Yugi told her. Téa nodded slowly and Yugi continued. "I activate the Black Magic Ritual. I need to tribute monsters of level 8 or more, so I'll use my Magician's Valkyria and Téa's Gemini Elf to summon the Magician of Black Chaos! Next, I'll tribute my Skilled Magicians to summon Buster Blader and Dark Magician from my deck! Don't think I'm done yet! Now, I sacrifice Mystical Elf to summon Dark Magician Girl! Thanks to her effect, she gains 300 attack from the Magician of Black Chaos that I discarded when you used Card Destruction. One card left. This one was given to me a short while ago by a good friend. I activate Millennium Power to increase the power of my three Magicians by 1000!"

Téa watched as images of the eight Millennium Items appeared around Yugi's monsters. They floated to the ground in a circle and the same ritual symbol that was drawn on the floor at Kaiba Corp when Yami left appeared and cast a yellow glow around Magician of Black Chaos, Dark Magician, and Dark Magician Girl. The sight of it seemed to lift Téa's heart. Not only had Yugi made a powerful move in order to save their souls, but Brian had helped out as well.

"Because I activated Millennium Power this turn, I can't attack so it's Téa's turn now," Yugi finished.

"Now that it's my turn, I draw a card and gain 500 life points while you lose 500," Téaannounced. Alright, Yugi made a great move, but I'll be defenseless after my monsters are gone. Gift of the Mystical Elf? That would give me 2400 more life points with this number of monsters. 12400 life points is pretty high… "Wait, I should have 10000 life points right now, why do I only have 9000?"

"I have 9000 as well," Yugi said, suddenly concerned about Téa's discovery. "I paid 1000 on my last turn, I should have 7000."

"You haven't figured it out yet?" Shadow asked, almost stupefied. "You're dueling as a team so your life points are shared. When one of you loses, you both lose!"

"Oh no, now he's just going to go for me," Téa murmured. "I'm holding you back, Yugi."

"Don't think like that Téa!" Yugi told her. "Thanks to your trap and spell cards, our life points are higher than normal!"

"Oh, yeah, that's right," she said to herself. "I'll just keep going then! I set one card face down and end my turn."

"Now then…" Shadow said as he drew his card. "This will be interesting. I sacrifice my Chaos Necromancer to summon Patrician of Darkness!" Shadow's Necromancer vanished and in its place stood a white haired vampire in black armor. "That's all for my turn."

"My turn now," Yugi informed him. He sacrificed his Necromancer for a weaker monster, but why? It must have some ability that makes it better than Chaos Necromancer. This Ritual Raven card that I just drew won't help me find the answer so I'll just have to attack and hope for the best. "Let's see how you handle this. Magician of Black Chaos, attack his Patrician of Darkness with Chaos Scepter Blast!"

"Excellent, now you'll witness my new monster's ability first hand!" Shadow proclaimed. The orb of magic that the Magician of Black Chaos had attacked with suddenly changed trajectory and went straight for Shadow's face down monster. The attack exploded on contact and a billowing cloud of smoke rose from where the monster was. "Your attack has failed."

"You seem to forget that I have four monsters on the field," Yugi laughed. "Not only that, but they also have more than enough attack points to wipe out your life points completely! Dark Magician Girl, attack with Dark Burning Magic!" Yugi's second monster attacked with a pink beam of light that went straight at Patrician of Darkness.

"You didn't pay attention last time did you, Yugi?" Shadow laughed. Dark Magician Girl's attack suddenly veered to the side to where the last attack had gone. "Not to mention that you didn't even bother to ask what monster you attacked instead."

"Alright, so what monster did I attack?" Yugi asked curiously. Shadow swept his hand across the field as the smoke cleared to reveal skeletal creature in a purple robe and carrying a scythe. "What is that thing!?"

"This is my unbeatable defense, Spirit Reaper," Shadow replied.

"No! Not Spirit Reaper!" Yugi exclaimed.

"So what's the deal with that monster, Yugi?" Téa asked.

"Spirit Reaper is a monster that can't be destroyed in battle at all," Yugi explained. "He's right, too. Because Patrician of Darkness chooses our attacks for us, they'll all be deflected at Spirit Reaper. It really is a perfect defense."

"So what are we supposed to do?" she asked in response.

"We'll have to figure something out, but until then, go ahead and take your turn," Yugi told her.

"If you say so," Téa said as she drew her next card. As she did, she and Yugi gained 500 life points while Shadow lost 500. "Now, I'll set a monster face down, then activate a trap card called Gift of the Mystical Elf. This gives me and Yugi 300 life points for each monster on the field. I count nine monsters so that's 2700 life points for us, giving us a total of 12,200. Then, I'll set another card face down and end there."

"You should have destroyed me when you had the chance, kids," Shadow laughed after he drew his next card. "Now I hold in my hand a creature of absolute darkness. But first, let's do some damage to your defenses. Patrician of Darkness, attack Téa's face down monster with Shadow Wave!" Shadow's monster held out one hand and a black wave of energy surged towards one of Téa's two face down monsters. Cure Mermaid appeared for only a second before being torn apart. "Now, Spirit Reaper will wipe out the other one! Attack with Scythe Slash!" Spirit Reaper charged the other monster and a monster that looked a lot like squirrel was cut in half.

"You've destroyed my Nimble Momonga!" Téa announced. "When it is destroyed I gain 1000 life points. So you now lose 500 from Fire Princess. Now that that's over, I can set two more Nimble Momongas on the field. Looks like we're back to where we started."

"That's what you think," Shadow cackled. "It's now time to summon the instrument of your demise! I sacrifice Patrician of Darkness and Spirit Reaper to call forth the unstoppable creature of darkness known as Yubel!" The monster appeared wrapped in its wings. Slowly, the wings unfolded to reveal a humanoid figure in a fetal position. Once the wings were at full wingspan, the body itself unfolded. To finish, Yubel's eyes opened, one a golden yellow, the other a bright aquamarine. Suddenly, a third eye opened sideways on its forehead. The third eye looked directly at Téa making her cry out in shock and cover her mouth with one hand while the other clutched at her heart. Yugi, on the other hand, was able to shake off the feeling, having faced off against creatures such as the Winged Dragon of Ra in the past.

"Téa, don't worry, we'll beat it," Yugi tried to console her. Téa gave no response, however, and only trembled in fear. "It's my move now and it doesn't have any attack or defense points. See? It's no threat at all."

"That's where you're wrong, little Yugi," Shadow laughed. "When your monsters attack, your life points will be wiped out."

"Alright, then I won't attack," Yugi told him.

"You don't have a choice!" Shadow yelled. "I activate a trap card called Battle Mania! This forces all of your monsters into attack position for the turn as well as forces them to attack. From what I can see, Yubel is your only attack target. Also, the combined attack powers of all four of your monsters add up to your exact amount of life points! So now, Yugi's monsters, attack Yubel now!"

"No! Stop!" Yugi called out in vain to his monsters as they rushed forward to attack. All four of them struck Yubel but nothing happened for a moment. Then after Yugi's monsters had returned to their starting positions, Yubel's third eye released a beam of black light that struck Yugi in the chest.

Shadow laughed maniacally as Yugi dropped to his knees. But something wasn't right. "Why haven't the monsters disappeared? The duel is over! I won!"

"No, you didn't…" Téa spoke up softly. She was on her knees with tears streaming down her face. Her finger was held over a button on her duel disk that activated spell and trap cards. "I activated Numinous Healer before our life points hit zero. It gave us an extra 1000. I hope I saved us Yugi…"

"Téa…you did great…" Yugi told her weakly.

"NO! How dare you!?" Shadow hissed at his opponents. Before anyone could take action, two black vortexes appeared, one under Téa and one under Yugi. "What's going on now? What did you do?"

"Téa?" Yugi asked quietly. She didn't respond. She had her eyes forced shut and was unaware of what was happening.

Much to his dismay, Shadow's victims faded away into the vortexes below them. "No…" he rasped into the shadows. "The master is going to be very displeased…"

End of Chapter Notes

HOLY COW! That was a tough duel. Not only in the sense of the duel itself, but also to write. It took a lot more work than I thought it would. And what about those vortexes at the end, huh? I know what they are, but Yugi, Téa, and Shadow don't. Perhaps another character does? Well, for right now, you know them as PLOT DEVICES. Anyway, let's just hope the next chapter doesn't take too long for me to do.