Title: For You I'd Do Anything – Chapter 14
Thank you for all those great reviews!
I'm terribly sorry for the long delay! I was in an accident, and when I finally got out of the hospital, I had so much catching up to do in all my classes that my parents restricted my computer access (One would think they'd be happy about me being alive, pout.)
To make up for the postponement, the following chapter will be extra long.
When Yugi finally arrived in front of Seth's temple, entirely out of breath and probably a little bit sweaty, though he hoped no one would notice, he was greeted by a giant crowd. The moment he saw this, he knew he'd never make it up to the front on his own. They'd crush him, probably without them even noticing.
From where he was at he couldn't even say for sure if the ceremony had begun yet. All he could hear were the cries of the crowd. They were ecstatic. He'd never seen anything like it. You couldn't compare it to the crowd when he had played Duel Monsters. His fans had been more civilized, and also more disinterested, Yugi had to confess. Nobody's life had depended on whether he or Seto Kaiba won a duel. At least none they knew of.
It couldn't be compared to their own religious events either. In his time, most young people didn't go to church, to a mosque or a temple unless they were forced to (or they had really bad grades, and were grasping to anything to get a positive mark). Over ninety percent of the people you met when going to mess were old people. With all these new inventions and fresh insights into biology, the young generation had kind of lost its beliefs.
"Yugi!" Jono's loud voice could be heard over the euphoric crowd. Yugi turned around, and looked into every direction, not quite sure were the voice was coming from. He couldn't see the head guard anywhere.
"Over here!" Jono shoved a few people roughly out of his way, and finally made it to Yugi's side. "I've been looking for you. Where in the name of Ra have you been? Do you know how difficult it was to keep his royal highness from noticing your disappearance? I had to make up lies, telling him you were in the bathroom, and else." Jono grabbed Yugi's hand, and dragged him through the crowd, in the direction of Seth's temple. "I'm probably going to end up in hell." Yugi thought he heard Jono mutter.
Once up front, he ended up face to face with one angry looking high priest. Seth's blue eyes were blazing angrily at him, flames dancing in them. "Where in the world have you been?" Seth hissed. "I've been looking everywhere for you! Do you know how worried I was? After all the things that have happened recently…one would think you'd have learned by now to be more careful!"
"Shhh…he is looking over." Jono intervened quietly, tugging at Seth's long sleeve, and looking at the pharaoh with a bright smile. Atemu had just noticed Yugi's presence, and was checking him for signs of injuries. Yugi tried to look as thought he had not just been thoroughly scolded, and Seth nodded at his king respectfully, not betraying his feelings.
Once Atemu's attention returned to the ritual, Seth turned back towards Yugi. "I'm glad to see you're alright." He uttered, having calmed down somewhat. "Let us hope his highness can concentrate on what he is supposed to do now. We have enough to deal with without any angry god's wrath. People will get worried if the Nile doesn't rise soon. The last thing we need right now is a panic."
"I'm sorry to have worried you guys." Yugi said softly, refraining from telling them what he had been doing. There was no need for them to learn of Dartz. They would never meet him in this life. Zorc would be more than enough for them to deal with.
He listened quietly to Atemu's strong voice, droning out what was said exactly. He knew the words anyways, having been the one putting the prayer together. He would have liked to sit down a little bit to rest, the day finally catching up on him but he couldn't show this sign of weakness at the moment. His friends needed him to be strong. Atemu might interrupt the ceremony if he felt something was wrong with Yugi.
He followed the ceremony outside, walking next to Seth who wanted to make sure Yugi didn't disappear once again, and therefore walked so close to him that their shoulders brushed every now and then. Jono strode on his other side, making sure nobody else came too close to him, his left hand placed dangerously close to his weapon.
Yugi didn't notice any of those things; he concentrated on not stumbling over his own feet. Up to now he hadn't noticed how his search for Dartz, and their little talk, had drained his energy. He wouldn't be able to do much this evening. Perhaps he could take a short nap before the dance. Atemu would be very put out if Yugi didn't want to dance.
After agonizing long minutes, the ceremony was finally over. Yugi could tell by the cheers resounding from all sides, while he was rushed back to the palace by Seth and Jono. Normally he would have objected, reasoning that people would find it strange if he was absent, but he was too tired to really mind. He only hoped the Gods would forgive him for not paying much attention to a ritual in their honor.
He entered his room, and was fast asleep the second his head hit his pillow. He didn't even hear Jono's amused chuckle or Seth forcefully dragging his boyfriend out of the room, and closing the door behind them, giving Yugi some privacy.
At first Yugi didn't realize what it had been that had woken him up. He lay still while listening to his surroundings. Then he heard it again. Somebody was screaming. As quietly as he could, he got up, realizing suddenly that Atemu was lying next to him. He wondered when the pharaoh had come to his room but it was not the right time for questions. Something was wrong.
He opened the door, and peeked outside. After not seeing anything move, he stepped outside, and quietly closed the door behind him. Atemu was obviously very tired if he hadn't reacted to the noise up till now. There was no need to wake him.
He met Seth and Jono a little further down the hall. They both looked as worried as he felt, and without saying anything to each other they continued walking down the hallway together.
A bright red light flashed at the end of the hallway for a second, but was gone so soon that Yugi thought he might have imagined it. The noise that had originally woken him had died down. He could only faintly hear somebody say something from where the light had been coming from.
Yugi was about to enter the room but Seth stopped him with a hand, stopping Jono in the process as well, shaking his head at Yugi's carelessness. You didn't just enter a room that was perhaps full of enemies. He motioned something, and Jono nodded, obviously understanding what the high priest was trying to say, even though Yugi himself didn't. What were they planning to do? Jono disappeared around the corner. Perhaps there was another entrance on the other side of the room, Yugi thought.
After waiting for a few more minutes, Seth seemed to signal him that he was going to enter the room now. Yugi frowned, not really understanding why he had been stopped in the first place when they were going to go inside after all. He agreed nevertheless, and motioned that he would accompany him. Seth might have wanted to disagree, but hadn't been paying attention to Yugi anymore, and therefore could do nothing to prevent it. They entered the room together, quietly.
The first thing Yugi saw was Isis, passed out on the floor. There was no blood surrounding her body, so he was hoping she was just knocked out. Then, his gaze fell upon a hooded creature in the middle of the room. Somehow he knew that that creature had been waiting for them, though he didn't know how he could be so sure about it.
Seth had raised his millennium item, ready to put it to good use, but hesitated when the man in front of them raised one of his hands in silent surrender. You didn't attack somebody that was no threat. Yugi wanted to say something, to tell Seth that he had a bad feeling about this, that he didn't think that man to be harmless, but found he couldn't say anything. It was as though he had lost his voice. He frowned confused. What in the world was wrong with him? He hadn't felt that man using any magic, so it couldn't have been him. But why wasn't he able to say anything?
The man raised his other hand, and took of his hood slowly, showing his face to them. Yugi gasped slightly, when recognizing that person but Seth didn't seem to notice. It was Akhenaden!
Yugi wanted to step forward to make sure the former high priest couldn't attack his friend, but found to his surprise that he once again couldn't do anything. It was as though he was frozen stiff! What kind of weird magic did Akhenaden possess?
Seth seemed to say something but Yugi couldn't understand a word. Obviously the former high priest had not only sabotaged his voice but his hearing as well. Yugi could feel himself get angry. He felt desperate to do something. Seth was in immediate danger!
Frustrated he could do nothing but watch the two of them talk. Jono had not reappeared, and no matter how much Yugi concentrated, he couldn't break the spell he had been placed under. He was helpless as long as Seth didn't realize what was going on.
Akhenaden stepped closer to Seth, putting a hand on Seth's shoulder and talking to him intently. Yugi wished he could at least understand what the former high priest was saying. Was he telling Seth that he was his father? Did he want to corrupt the high priest? Seth shook Akhenaden's hand off his shoulder, and took a step backwards, clearly not trusting the former high priest himself. Yugi could see him looking at Isis for a short moment. He guessed whatever Akhenaden had just told his son had not outweighed Isis' condition. Luckily Seth didn't just trust the former high priest.
Yugi saw the Millennium Eye glitter as Akhenaden skillfully used it to read Seth's mind. Even though another millennium item could usually protect its owner, Akhenaden had possessed his item far longer, and was much more practiced in dipping into the shadow powers than his son. He overpowered Seth easily, and the high priest fell to the floor, holding his head and crying in agony. Yugi could do nothing more than watch.
Then, Seth shakily got up, throwing his father away from him with an angry burst of white light. He was using his powers without control at the moment, having realized that Akhenaden could otherwise overpower him again.
A loud noise had Yugi sitting upright in his bed. He heard Atemu grumble next to him. When had the pharaoh entered his room? He forgot that question when he realized Jono was banging against the door in a desperate manner, and calling out for them to help him. Yugi ran to the door, opening it for the head guard, while Atemu smoothened out his now wrinkled clothes inconspicuously.
"What's wrong?" Yugi wanted to know worriedly. "What happened, Jono?" He continued after receiving no answer from his distraught looking friend. "Is something wrong with Seth?" He asked, feeling uneasy about the last dream he had just had.
Jono nodded, and stammered something about the throne room. Atemu and Yugi left Jono in the charge of one of the guards that had appeared because of the noise. They went to the throne room hurriedly, immensely worried about Seth. It had not been too long ago that Mahado had been killed…nobody wanted to lose somebody else. They entered the throne room together, Atemu for once not trying to stop Yugi from entering a place where he could be harmed because he was too distracted himself to even think about it.
The first thing Yugi could make out was Isis' prone form on the floor. He could detect her still being alive, which was a great relief for him. Then he noticed Atemu was yelling at somebody. Seth was kneeling in the middle of the room, holding his head as though he had a major headache. The pharaoh was following somebody outside. Yugi guessed it was Akhenaden but couldn't be sure about it. Quite confident of Atemu's powers, he chose not to follow the king, but instead opted on sitting next to Seth, trying to relief him of his pain. He knew from his own experience that it hurt a lot if you tried to stop the owner of the Millennium Eye from reading your thoughts.
He embraced Seth gently, and put his palm on his friend's forehead, kneading it gently while infusing his fingers with some of his healing magic in hopes of making the pain fade away. He stopped only when he heard a sigh and felt Seth slowly relax into his embrace.
"That idiot!" Seth growled, curling his hands into fists. "He really thought I'd believe all that bullshit." Blue eyes blazed at Yugi angrily, lips set into tight lines, as Seth straightened himself. "As if I would ever think about-" Seth didn't continue that sentence.
Yugi threw him a questioning look, and refrained from lending his friend a hand. Seth clearly didn't want any help at the moment.
"I hope his royal highness drags his lousy ass back into one of our dungeons." Seth grumbled. Before he could say anything else, though, he was tackled by an anxious looking Jono. Yugi turned towards Isis, noticing with surprise that Shada was already taking care of her. He hadn't even realized the other had arrived.
Atemu returned only a few minutes later, unfortunately without Akhenaden. He told some of his guards to help Shada take Isis back to her chambers to rest. Then he turned towards Seth and Jono. "How is he?" Atemu asked Yugi quietly.
"More annoyed than anything else." Yugi answered. "He should perhaps get a little rest, though. When does the dance start?"
The pharaoh sighed. "At nightfall. Some of the guests are already arriving. This is why I lost Akhenaden in the first place. It was easy for him to disappear into the crowd. I couldn't very well attack my own people."
"Do not worry, my pharaoh." Yugi uttered. "I'm sure he is going to show up again." He will try to corrupt Seth once more.
"I should have executed him when I had the chance." Atemu snarled.HH "He has been nothing but trouble lately. I will never understand why my father ever put up with him."
"He might not have been like this when he was younger." Yugi admonished gently. "The millennium items are very powerful, and quite able to corrupt a weak soul." Besides, people often have a soft spot for those they love, Yugi added in his thoughts. He wasn't sure if Atemu knew Akhenaden was his father's brother.
"You might want to get ready for this evening." Atemu suggested finally. "I will make sure those two get some rest." Yugi nodded willingly, kissed Atemu's cheek tenderly, and left the room, not without throwing one last look at Seth and Jono.
Yugi stayed close to Shada throughout the evening, while Atemu was greeting his guests personally. All his other friends stayed in bed, resting from Akhenaden's short visit. Yugi and Atemu had agreed to dance later in the night, once the pharaoh had greeted the most important people at least.
It was the first time he was really talking to the high priest. Up to now they hadn't exchanged more than a few sentences, and Yugi suddenly found out that Shada had a dry sense of humor.
He was telling Yugi interesting stories about their guests, and they tried to interpret Atemu's behavior towards them, in case their pharaoh disliked one of them, and it was up to them to salvage the situation. Atemu could be very vocal when angered, not talking of his magical powers.
They came to a halt close to the buffet, and Yugi went to get himself a small snack, remembering he hadn't eaten anything since his late brunch. He was about to try a weird looking, orange colored piece of meat when he sensed a strong source of magic approaching them. He turned around warily, looking for the source. He would recognize that distinct mixture of magic anywhere. Zorc was close by!
Suddenly the torches that had illuminated their party went out. Almost the same moment an explosion shook the ground underneath them. Some people fell to the floor ungracefully; others tried to run away, screaming loudly. Flashes of light illuminated the otherwise dark night, and Yugi could see smoke everywhere around them. He coughed, and tried to breathe as little as possible.
Atemu raised a defensive shield to protect his guests while they were trying to escape. Several guards appeared, and positioned themselves next to their king. Shada had raised his Millennium Item, ready to put it to good use. Yugi more felt than saw Isis and Seth appear close to him. They had probably heard the commotion.
To Yugi's surprise it was not Zorc who appeared the moment they had finally managed to illuminate the terrace once again. Instead, he had barely the time to jump aside as a sizzling fireball was thrown in his direction. Zorc had summoned a giant dragon from the shadow realm!
Seth frowned, as though he had seen that dragon somewhere before but hadn't connected it to Bakura up till now.
Isis helped Yugi back onto his feet, while Seth and Atemu each summoned a shadow creature of their own. Everybody else had to retreat back inside while the individuals fought each other. They would not stop until one had destroyed the other, not caring how many people they hurt in the process. It was not in their nature to care about mortals when being summoned for a shadow duel.
"It is incredibly strong." Isis assessed calmly. But Yugi could see she was worried. She had probably already seen glimpses of how the duel was going to end. Yugi didn't need to see the future to know that Seth's monster wouldn't be able to fight much longer. The high priest was still weakened from Akhenaden's visit, and kept only going because of his master's anger. If only there was a way for Yugi to help him…
"Do you really think that will be enough to stop me, pharaoh?" Zorc's voice resounded from everywhere. He was making it especially difficult for anybody to locate him. "I would have thought you to be stronger."
Yugi sighed, feeling Atemu getting angry. Bakura had always managed to hit the pharaoh's sensitive spot with accuracy. "Try to calm his royal highness down, Isis. It will do us no good if he is too angry to concentrate properly."
"And what are you going to do in the meantime?" The priestess wanted to know.
"I will try to find a way to distract Bakura." Yugi answered with clenched teeth. It was difficult to talk about Bakura when knowing he was not responsible for anything he was doing. He wished the others could distinguish between Zorc and Bakura as well. But it wasn't the right moment to dwell on those thoughts.
"You know it is the only way." Yugi emphasized, when seeing Isis' uncertainness.
"Very well." Isis agreed after a small pause. "But please, be careful, Yugi."
"Am I not always?" Yugi smiled at her tiredly. "Do not worry, Isis." He added as he saw her doubtful look. "Concentrate on helping those two. They will need any help they can get. You know as well as I that Bakura has gotten incredibly strong because of the demon that now resides in him."
Then he turned left, walking towards another door that would lead him outside. He was glad of all the time spent wandering these endless hallways. By now he knew very well which way to take to get fastest to where he wanted to go. He would sneak outside, undetected by any of their various guests, and would try to lure Zorc away from the palace. At least long enough for everybody to get into safety. Seth could get himself killed if he kept going much longer. He would never stop until he passed out from exhaustion. He had been trained to fight until death, if necessary. Yugi would do anything in his power to prevent that from happening.
He was hit with a wave of fresh air when stepping outside. Up to that moment he hadn't realized how warm it had been close to the shadow creatures. The dragon, especially, had heated up the air around them. Once outside, he only had to walk in the direction he felt Zorc's magic coming from.
Purple swirls made it impossible to see clearly. Yugi was blinking like a madman, and tried several times to wipe the purple tendrils of magic away as though they were spider webs even if he knew it wouldn't actually help. He carefully tried out the floor underneath him every time before taking another step, remembering the explosion from the beginning, and afraid of suddenly falling into a deep hole.
"Zorc! Where are you?" he yelled into the purple swirls around him, knowing the other could hear him from wherever he was at. Yugi wouldn't be able to get much closer. The dark magic around him was already putting a strain on his nerves. His own magic was flaring out, trying to protect him with soothing white light. At least he had somewhat recovered from his meeting with Dartz.
"Yugi…" a cold voice drawled behind him. He spun around to face Zorc. "What a surprise! You were just the person I was looking for. So much energy…what a pure soul…" The demon grinned maniacally. "I can see, asking you to join me would be nothing but a waste of time. I will have to force you, then. My friend over there is keeping his royal highness quite occupied anyways. By the time they will realize you are missing, your presence will already be eradicated." Zorc cackled evilly.
A cold shiver ran down Yugi's spine. It wasn't because he was afraid of what Zorc would do with him, though. He had more or less been prepared to die if it served his purpose; if he could save the others that way. It would be a lie, of course, to say he wasn't afraid of death in general. But that hadn't been the reason for his uneasiness in that moment. As always, it was the way Zorc had looked at him. To have familiar brown eyes, now darkened to an undistinguishable black, look at him with so much hatred was almost too much to bear. It reminded him of the sacrifice Bakura had made for him, of what he owed to Bakura… It was not time to die yet, Yugi knew. There was still something left to do.
He more felt than saw Zorc raise his hand, and summoning a great portion of his shadow magic. Yugi hardly dared thinking about what that meant. Zorc had already summoned a dragon, strong enough to keep both Seth's and Atemu's own shadow creature at bay. To imagine he still had enough power left to attack Yugi on his own…and judging by how carelessly Zorc used his magic, Yugi could only guess he didn't even use his full capacities. He was much stronger than Yugi had realized. Zorc could not pull Yugi into the shadow realm, his soul was too pure and powerful for that, but the demon could very easily kill him.
Suddenly, a roar distracted Zorc, and the demon was occupied with something concerning his dragon. Knowing better than to turn around and grace his enemy with an open rear, Yugi stepped backwards as fast as he thought himself possible. He was afraid of falling to the ground. It would be his doom. He didn't have to be quiet, though, because the shadow creatures and the magic around him drowned out any other noise. Only at a safe distance, Yugi finally allowed himself to turn around, and run away from the palace as fast as possible.
A loud roar told him Zorc had noticed his disappearance. Daringly, he used some of his magic to show the other where he was at, hoping that the other would either not notice he was doing that on purpose or simply not caring about it. People who thought themselves stronger than any other living being often became careless. Yugi hoped Zorc would be the same. He ran through empty streets, in the direction of the desert. It wouldn't help anybody if the demon started attacking the houses or their inhabitants.
He felt Zorc follow him, even though the demon had obviously left his dragon behind. The creature could still be heard fighting Atemu's and Seth's own summoned monsters. Yugi had been hoping for that. The dark priests had summoned Zorc by offering him a pure soul, and the demon must have felt cheated when he had ended up with Bakura. Even though the tomb-robber did not possess a completely darkened soul (Yugi was sure about that because Bakura had saved him), he most certainly was no innocent creature. His soul was probably best considered grey; or perhaps black with white spots. Yugi's own soul was much purer, and Zorc wanted that soul more than anything else. It would give him immense strength; even more than he possessed at the moment. He probably did not realize that he would never be able to possess Yugi's soul in the same way he fed off Bakura's soul.
Yugi had been hoping that Zorc's desire for his soul would be stronger than his need to rule the world. The demon would withdraw all his powers from the palace, and consequently from Yugi's friends, if he had the feeling he needed all his resources. But it would be enough for Yugi if he could distract the demon for a little while until Atemu and Seth had finally managed to defeat Zorc's dragon. He just needed to keep running away from him as long as possible. If he got lucky, the demon would retreat in the shadow realm when feeling his creature had been defeated. If Zorc would continue following him, he just had to think of something to escape unnoticed.
The chilly air burned in his lung with every step he took. It always surprised Yugi how cold it could get in Egypt during the night; especially when you left the city. He ignored the pain, and kept running, not caring where his feet would take him. Zorc was catching up. The demon was probably using magic to get faster to his prey. Having been bullied his entire life came quite handy now. Yugi could run long distances without completely exhausting himself.
The stars above them were twinkling madly, as though cheering Yugi on. That fact, however, remained unnoticed. Yugi concentrated more on the sounds Zorc made by following him, and Zorc didn't care for trivial things like that. The demon had taken to flying after Yugi, supported by nothing but his own magic.
Yugi passed the temple he had first met Bakura at, and then stopped suddenly. Maybe he could distract Zorc long enough in the many corridors of the temple. Maybe he could even lose the demon inside. He still remembered where most of the traps where hidden at. He could only hope that most of Bakura's memories had been lost upon Zorc. It would be much easier for Yugi to escape if the other didn't have the temple memorized.
He crawled through the small hole, entering the dark temple. Summoning a small ball of light, he immediately turned to the only one of the three hallways that actually led somewhere. Sidestepping every trap he remembered, he walked deeper and deeper inside the temple. From time to time he could have sworn he had seen something white out of the corner of his eyes. But when turning around to where he had imagined seeing something, he could never find anything. And he knew for a fact that Zorc had remained at the entrance. The demon probably wanted to wait there until Yugi had to go back to the entrance if he didn't want to starve to death. Yugi had to think of something to lure the demon further inside.
Yugi entered the long hallway with the differently colored tiles that could only be crossed if you knew the right rhyme to go with. Once again he thought back to the time when he had heard Yami reciting the poem:
"Up left you go, start one, two, three,
Watch the steps, I'm warning thee.
Black, then white, then white and black,
One step right, don't look back.
Now you jump, not once but twice,
Just look out you won't jump trice!
Step left again and two steps forward,
Then go right and keep your guard.
Jump again, miss two not one,
In this game you'll play the pawn.
Two-steps-opening, enemy to the left,
Hit him hard or he'll be cause for your life's theft.
Continue onward, one two three,
Then jump right, missing one with glee.
Three forward and then left again,
This is our master plan.
From the beginning one more time
You'll have to recite this ancient rhyme."
Whispering the words to himself, Yugi slowly stepped forward. At the end of the corridor he turned around, looking back down the hallway. How would he be able to lure Zorc deeper inside? He thought about hollering but wasn't sure that would help his cause. Zorc would probably just ignore him.
Maybe Zorc would follow him if he realized Yugi was trying to leave through the actual entrance? The demon should be able to sense him using his white magic to break the magic seals on the entrance. The only question was if Zorc wouldn't rather go outside, and await him from the front instead of going through the many hallways that he might not know anything off. But as Yugi couldn't think of anything else, he decided to go along with that plan, and wait for Zorc's move before doing anything else.
He finally reached the room he had first encountered Bakura at, and went to the locked door, crouching against it while closing his eyes in concentration. It would be a difficult task to break the spells. Yugi knew Atemu had put some of them up himself. But if Zorc made his move soon enough, Yugi wouldn't have to finish undoing those seals.
Yugi had been sitting in front of the locked door for about ten minutes, when he finally felt Zorc moving again. The demon was coming closer but he couldn't be sure yet whether the other had left the temple or was walking the corridors. He had to wait a little bit longer, even if that would make it more difficult for him to actually escape.
Yugi focused back on getting the door open. It wouldn't be enough to hold off Zorc anyways. If the demon wanted to get inside, he'd most likely achieve his goal even without Yugi removing the last sealing spells. And if Zorc was in the temple, this former entrance would be Yugi's only escape route. He had to hurry. The demon was getting closer by the minute.
He'd just removed another seal when he finally knew for sure Zorc hadn't tried to follow Yugi through the maze of the hallways but had instead opted for exiting. The demon was only a few feet away from Yugi, on the other side of the door, ready to kill him once he broke the last seal.
Yugi got up hurriedly, and went back the way he had just come from, hoping the door would keep Zorc from entering at least for one more minute, until he was safely hidden in the darkness of the corridors. The little light ball still in his hand wouldn't be enough for Zorc to find him right away, and Yugi was ready to stop the spell as soon as the demon was close by. He wouldn't be given away by his own magic unless he wanted it that way.
Maybe Zorc would finally get careless or impatient enough to follow Yugi inside the temple. Otherwise he'd have a big problem. With both his escape routes easily overlooked, Yugi would never be able to get out of the temple alive. He wished once more he would be able to control his teleporting abilities but his wishes wouldn't help him achieve his goal. At least he knew by now that Zorc didn't have all of Bakura's memories. Otherwise the other would have entered the temple right away. Bakura had been able to walk the hallways with closed eyes, drugged or seriously wounded. Zorc wouldn't have hesitated if he had been sure he knew the path better than Yugi.
The hallways looked different when you came from the other direction. Yugi wasn't entirely sure which tiles he could step on and which triggered the traps. He could only go by memory, and soon discovered it was a lot easier for him to remember what cards an opponent had played than to remember the exact steps he himself had taken only about ten minutes before.
Scolding himself for not having trained his memory properly, he almost ran through the hallway, ducking a few times to evade curses thrown at him whenever he would take a wrong step. Breathing heavily he made it to the end, only barely avoiding being hit by an axe. At the end of the hallway, though, he didn't even have time to check if Zorc was following because a shadow creature appeared in front of him. Apparently he had stepped on enough wrong tiles to summon a protector of the temple. Unfortunately, Yugi couldn't summon any shadow creatures of his own. He was a being of light, and didn't have any connection to shadow magic. Previously he had only been able to summon them because Yami had borrowed him his own magic through their connection. Without his other half Yugi could do nothing.
An imp appeared in front of Yugi, blocking the way. Yugi almost involuntarily took a step backwards before reminding himself that the tiles behind him were the reason for his problem in the first place. That's why he stood his ground even when the imp was approaching him, growling threateningly.
"Uhm…I'm really sorry to have disturbed you." Yugi tried the practical approach. "You see, this evil guy is hunting me…and this was the only way to get rid of him." His words didn't show any effect.
"Please let me pass…he is the one disturbing this temple. Try to fight him, to stop him from hurting even more people." The imp was still approaching him.
"The pharaoh would tell you the same. We are friends…I work for him." He'd tried everything he could think off. There was no way to influence the shadow creature. He had triggered its summoning, and it was thinking of nothing but getting rid of the intruder – him.
That was until another person entered the same hallway. "There you are, little light." Zorc snarled, and stepped on the first tile. A cloud of grey smoke began to surround him; he'd stepped on the wrong tile. It didn't affect him, though; the curse was simply absorbed by his own, much stronger and darker magic.
As if the imp had been reprogrammed, it jumped over Yugi, and landed gracefully on one of the right tiles a few feet away in-between Zorc and him. Its teeth were bared, and the yellow eyes narrowed angrily at the demon.
Yugi used this moment to leave the hallway, running in the direction of the small hole that had been his entrance in the temple. The imp would not be strong enough to detain Zorc for long. It was only to scare off tomb-robbers without any magic powers. Soon Zorc would be hot on his trail again. He had to get away from the temple as fast as possible. A part of him felt sorry for the imp; the shadow creature was only doing its job, after all. But he didn't have time to dwell on that thought for long. They were at war. There was no war without casualties.
"Thank you." He whispered silently, hoping the words would be carried to his savior. It should at least know its help had been appreciated. Yugi wasn't sure if the imp would just be destroyed, and could reappear any time it was summoned again or if it would actually be killed when Zorc destroyed it. This shadow duels could not be compared to the ones he had participated in. There were no cards that could be used again and again to call forward your monsters. These duels were entirely different.
He crawled outside hastily, bumping his head several times in the process. Once outside, he didn't stop to take a deep breath. Instead, he tried to put as much distance between himself and Zorc as possible.
Alas, he was not fast enough. He had barely reached the outskirts of the city when Zorc appeared in front of him, surrounded by purple swirls of light. He had exited the temple by means of teleportation. Unfair, thought Yugi, why can't I use my powers like that? He didn't have much time to sulk, though. Zorc was preparing to kill him.
"I think we've played hide and seek long enough. It's time we end this game once and for all." Zorc raised his hand, and was just about to throw a curse at him when he was attacked by something white.
It was Sekhmet! Bakura's pet cat. The giant white cat landed on Zorc's back with all her weight, her claws digging in his flesh. Zorc screeched eerily, and landed sprawled out on his stomach. Sekhmet's weight would have been enough to knock over any person.
"Thank you!" Yugi said again and again, only stopping when the cat started hissing at him, as if she was telling him to get going. He thanked her once more, and then ran away from the scene, hoping strongly the cat hadn't just signed her own death certificate. It had surprised him that she was attacking her own master but he guessed she had been able to sense he wasn't himself anymore. She probably knew Zorc only inhabited Bakura's body, and couldn't sense her master's soul anymore.
He ran through the streets, trying not to think about how tired he actually was. He had used more magic than was his wont, and had been running longer than even the bullies had ever chased him. None of them had been sportive enough to follow him for more than ten minutes, half an hour the most.
On his way he passed many half-destroyed houses. Several fires had broken out in different places of the city. He guessed that had been the work of the dragon before Atemu and Seth had been able to stop it.
"I just hope he will give up on following me." Yugi muttered, throwing a doubtful glance backwards. There was no sign of the demon yet. "Maybe he is regrouping."
When entering the palace, Yugi was greeted by Isis. Everybody else had left, Yugi noticed.
"I have been able to conceal your disappearance." Isis told him. "You have been successful with your plan, I can see."
"Yes." Yugi agreed. "Almost too successful." He winced slightly.
"Where is everybody? Was anybody hurt?" He looked around worriedly.
"Seth had to be transported back to his room. He has overexerted himself, as you prophesized. His boyfriend accompanied him to make sure he would stay in bed this time." Isis reported. "Although he is currently visiting the kitchen to get some food. So he is not really making sure high priest Seth is staying out of trouble. You should check on him." Isis looked at Yugi strangely, as though she tried to tell him something. He didn't understand her hint, though.
"And where is A-, I mean his royal highness?" Yugi inquired.
"I have ordered him to rest as well. He has been put under immense pressure." Isis told him. "When Seth collapsed-"
"He collapsed?!" Yugi gasped, eyes wide, and worry evident.
"Yes. His dragon was destroyed. He was not able to concentrate enough." Isis scoffed. "He should have known better."
Yugi sighed. "He will recover, though, won't he?"
"He would. If he rested long enough. However, he has other plans." Once again Isis hinted at something Yugi didn't quite understand. He only knew that he had to check up on Seth as soon as he had found out about Atemu's condition.
"His royal highness had to summon a second Shadow creature in Seth's stead?" Yugi conducted from what Isis had told him up till now.
The high priestess nodded. "He called upon one of the holy creatures. Slifer appeared at his bidding. It drained a lot of his energy." Yugi nodded, well aware of how much energy you had to sacrifice if you wanted a God to appear.
"I was able to convince him to go to his room to rest." Isis repeated. "Even though he doesn't realize it yet, he will soon need all the energy he can get. It is almost time. You know that as well as I."
Yugi nodded slowly, his tiredness suddenly catching up with him. He felt as though he was a hundred years old. "I'm going to check on Seth now. You should rest as well, Isis. There is no purpose in repairing the damage done to the palace. It might not be the last time Bakura chooses to attack." He looked up, only to notice she had appeared already. "I swear, she is doing that on purpose." He muttered.
Yugi softly knocked on Seth's door, not wanting to wake the other in case he was asleep. But from the hint Isis had made, Seth was doing anything but sleeping. When receiving no answer, he opened the door, peeking inside carefully. Maybe she hadn't been able to distinguish the present from the future, and his friend was asleep after all. His hopes were destroyed, though, when he saw Seth walking around purposefully.
"I don't think I allowed you to enter." Seth said, without looking at him.
"I didn't know I had to ask for your permission." Yugi retorted, slightly insulted.
"Why did you knock, then?"
Yugi shrugged. "Habit, politeness…I don't know. Maybe I didn't want to scare you?" His smile died when seeing Seth didn't see the humor in his answer.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" Seth turned around with a sigh, and looked at Yugi as though he had been asked to strip naked in front of the entire staff. Yugi would have found the expression funny if it had not been directed at him. Seth usually didn't mind talking with him. He glanced back at the door unsure, wondering if he should just leave his friend alone.
"You should rest." Yugi reproached softly, it having been the first thing that had come to his mind.
"Do you really think I can sleep now; after everything that has happened?" Seth retorted, anger rising. He turned around, huffing slightly.
"What are you doing?" Yugi asked, his eyes falling onto a bag made out of linen, lying on top of Seth's bed. He only realized now that the high priest had been busy stuffing things inside of that bag. "You are packing…" he answered his own question. "What for?"
Seth faced him once again, looking at him tiredly. "Strange…almost every day I have to worry about you because you always end up doing something secretly, without telling anyone about it, and the first time I actually plan on doing something I probably should have done years ago, you appear and try to stop me. I should have figured." He rolled his eyes, turned back to his bag, and put a scroll in it. Yugi watched wordlessly.
"I have to do this, Yugi. I could never look at my face again if I didn't do this now." Seth continued, pulling at the cords to close his bag. "And I especially couldn't look at any of you anymore if I didn't do this." The high priest sighed, lowering his head to stare at his hands intently.
Yugi approached him slowly, putting a hand on his shoulder. "There will never be a reason to feel ashamed in front of any of us. You're a great person, Seth. Do not tell yourself otherwise. You have not failed us…and you never will."
"You don't know what you are talking about." Seth whispered. "You don't know me…how I am really like. You would despise me."
"I would never hate you, Seth." Yugi said determinedly. "You are one of my closest friends."
"I can't believe he did that." Seth suddenly said, clenching his fists. Yugi was slightly surprised by the sudden change of topic but didn't interrupt his friend. "How could he let Bakura use his dragon?"
Yugi frowned slightly, not sure what the other was talking about. "Akhenaden gave Bakura one of his shadow creatures?" He asked carefully, after remembering Seth's expression upon seeing Zorc's dragon.
Seth nodded. "Yes. I recognize it from when I was younger; when he was teaching us; when he was still a high priest himself." He straightened up again, Yugi's hand falling to the younger one's side.
He spun around, facing Yugi angrily. "How could he turn against us? Against his king?!" A burst of angry energy made a vase to Seth's left explode. Yugi didn't even turn to look at it.
"I can't understand him! What's even worse is that I'm supposed to be related to that…that…scum!" Seth nearly yelled. He dropped to the floor, burying his head in his hands. "How can I be related to someone like him?"
Yugi knelt next to his friend, hugging him carefully, almost afraid the other would push him away. "We can't help our parents. We can only work on ourselves. And you are not like him; you will never be like him."
"How do you know?" Seth looked up slightly. "How can you ever be sure about it? It's in my blood…it's my heritage."
"I just know." Yugi said, looking Seth directly in the eyes. "I know." He repeated, hugging his friend once again, trying to curl around him protectively. Seth slowly relaxed in the embrace, burying his head in Yugi's clothes.
Yugi's eyes fell back towards Seth's linen bag. "You wanted to challenge him to a duel." He suddenly realized.
"I have to." Seth mumbled into Yugi's stomach.
"I will accompany you." Yugi said after some time, in a voice that left no room for discussion. "I will not interfere with your duel but I'm not letting you go alone. The times are much too dangerous for any one-man-shows."
"I've never seen you waiting for any of us to accompany you." Seth protested weakly. Yugi knew it was more pro forma than an actual objection.
"Don't tell me I have to bind you to your bed?" Yugi joked. "You'll have to knock me out if you want to leave on your own."
"Very well." Seth grudgingly agreed. "But we have to leave now. Jono might come back any minute."
"You should at least rest some more." Yugi objected, knowing fully well he was tired himself. "We can always send Jono away with an excuse tomorrow."
"No. He will get suspicious. He is already worried as much as necessary about me." Seth said, getting up slowly from his crouched position. "It was difficult enough to get rid of him for even a short time. Only when I told him I was starving, he was willing to leave me for a short amount of time. We have to leave before he returns."
"You will only lose when you fight Akhenaden now." Yugi tried to reason with his friend.
Seth didn't even listen. He grabbed his back, threw on one of his cloaks, and went to the door, looking outside carefully. "If you really want to accompany me, then you better come now. The coast is clear. We need to leave."
Yugi got up silently, and followed Seth down the hallway. He'd said he'd accompany his friend, and he meant to keep his word; even if he was exhausted.
They passed Kisara, who was looking at them with an odd expression. Then, they took one of the side entrances, which weren't as heavily guarded. Yugi threw one last look to Atemu's chambers. He could see that the other was pacing his room agitatedly, and felt very sorry for leaving without seeing the pharaoh first. But at the moment Seth's safety was more important to him. He couldn't let the other risk his neck for something that might not even be necessary. "I'm sorry." He whispered quietly, still looking up to Atemu's window.
Seth returned to him with two horses, and the two of them took off.
"Do you know where to find Akhenaden?" Yugi wondered once they had left the palace's grounds. Seth nodded.
"Do you have a plan to defeat him?" Yugi wanted to know.
Seth didn't answer right away. "I'm not sure it will work. His eye…" the high priest trailed off uncertainly. "I do not know yet how to trick it. He keeps reading my thoughts."
Yugi nodded knowingly, remembering his encounters with Pegasus. "I might be able to help you." He muttered finally. "I can protect your mind from being read."
Seth looked as though he wanted to protest for a moment. "Very well." He answered finally. "But I want you to keep out of sight. I don't want him to notice you. He might target you."
"I will try." Yugi agreed. "But I might not be able to conceal my presence completely. His eye might tell him of my presence." Seth seemed satisfied. They continued the rest of their journey quietly, each too tired to talk much.
By the time they had reach the place Seth thought his father was hiding at, the sun was rising. Yugi enjoyed the first rays; in his opinion the night had already lasted long enough. Maybe he just felt that way because he had been up all night.
"Wait here for a few moments before you follow me." Seth told Yugi while getting of his horse. Petting the animal softly for the good job done, he led it over to the shade, and bound its rein to one of the pillars.
Yugi watched his friend disappear between two large stone columns that led up to the temple. Then, he got off his own horse, bound it close to Seth's horse, and quietly trailed upstairs, the same route he'd seen Seth take. Taking care he was hidden from view, in case anyone inside the temple would be looking, he crept closer and closer to the place he felt Seth being at.
"So you've come!" Yugi heard somebody say. He guessed it was Akhenaden, couldn't be sure, though, without actually looking at the two of them.
"Obviously." Seth answered frostily, and Yugi could almost imagine the high priest rolling his eyes.
"I have to confess I'm somewhat surprised at seeing you here." Akhenaden continued. "When we talked the last time you were quite adamant about not wanting to join me."
"I have not changed my mind." Seth said. "I've come to make sure you won't be helping that tomb-robber ever again."
"Oh, really?" Akhenaden laughed. Yugi had never heard such a mad laugh before. It was the laugh of a person wholly corrupted by his Millennium Item. There was no way to save his soul. It already belonged to the shadow realm.
"Why did you give your Dragon to Bakura?" Seth asked through clenched teeth.
"Why shouldn't I?" Akhenaden retorted. "You were not ready to help me, and I wanted to get rid of that pathetic excuse for a pharaoh for quite some time. Bakura came handy. Though I have been told he has not succeeded. What a pity. Just shows us: when you want something getting done right, you have to do it yourself."
"Your attempt to kill my pharaoh ends here." Seth stated. Yugi could feel the high priest call upon his shadow magic. He was summoning one of his dragons.
"Ah, as always…" Akhenaden snorted. "Still into dragons, I see. But you will not defeat me with those weak creatures. If you want to defeat me, you'll have to summon a much stronger dragon. Do you want to try again? Perhaps the blue-eyed dragon?" The former priest laughed again. Yugi could feel him summon a shadow creature as well. It was some kind of zombie, and oozed of strength. Seth would have a lot to deal with.
As Yugi had promised Seth, he was concentrating very hard on concealing his own presence, and on covering up Seth's own plans. If the high priest had a plan to defeat his father, it wouldn't do them any good if Akhenaden knew about it beforehand.
Father and son had started to fight each other as well. While their two summoned creatures fought, they had started to throw curses at each other, blocking them expertly at their turn. Yugi knew that unconsciously, even though he wasn't able to look at them directly. He couldn't quite explain how it worked but he could see in front of his inner eye what the others were doing. He guessed he could see them because he was so worried about Seth's well-being.
Since Seth was still weakened from all his duels before, he had difficulties concentrating on both, his shadow creature and his father. Yugi was frantically searching for a way to help his friend. Sometimes he infused Seth's dragon with some of his own magic; however, he soon realized he couldn't help the shadow creature. His magic was too pure to have any positive effect. The only reason for not completely stopping was that Akhenaden lost some of his conceited behavior whenever he could feel Yugi's magic around him. The former high priest could sense something was wrong.
"How dare you defy me!" Akhenaden yelled angrily. A blast of shadow magic was emitted by his Millennium Eye. Seth was thrown backwards, landing wobbly on his feet. Yugi concentrated even more on his friend's protection, disregarding the tell-tale-signs of having been exposed to too much shadow magic for too long.
Seth reacted to his father's anger by summoning even more shadow magic, in hopes of defeating him. He had to win this duel soon. Yugi knew Seth was at least as tired as him. The high priest wouldn't be able to keep it up for much longer. For a moment he thought about making his presence known; Akhenaden would be more distracted if he had another opponent. But Yugi had made a promise to Seth; he couldn't go back on his word now. Should Seth faint, then Yugi would do anything he could to protect his friend from death. As long as the high priest was still standing, Yugi could do nothing but watch; even if it hurt him almost as much as it hurt Seth whenever Akhenaden successfully hit him.
Yugi rolled behind another pillar, as a stray curse flew his way. He hoped Akhenaden hadn't seen his movement but guessed that there was too much energy in the air after their long duel to see anything clearly. He couldn't be sure, though, how much the Millennium Eye would help Akhenaden see through the mist. It was certainly an advantage. Seth could only guess by now where his opponent was at. Even Yugi hadn't been able to dispel the magic. Sometimes he would tell Seth where Akhenaden had moved at but he couldn't open a mind link for long. Firstly, it was draining a lot of his last magic reserves, and secondly he was afraid of Akhenaden picking up on the change in Seth's head.
Suddenly a picture of Kisara appeared in Yugi's head, even though he didn't know why. Why was he thinking about her at a moment like this? There were more important things to concentrate on. Like the flames Seth's dragon had belched in his direction! Yugi barely managed to get away this time. Out of breath he crouched behind yet another column. "That was close." He whispered to no one in particular.
"What was that?" Akhenaden wanted to know. "I thought you had come alone?" Yugi could feel the former priest approaching him. Shit, he either saw or heard me. I should have paid more attention!
"What in the world are you talking about?" Seth growled, feigning ignorance. "Imagining things already?" While Seth kept mocking his father, Yugi used the time to hide himself somewhere else. When Akhenaden finally reached his former hiding spot, the smaller one was long since gone. Yugi was especially careful to hide his presence from the former high priest. He could feel the other reaching out, searching for him.
Once again Kisara's image came to Yugi. He didn't know what that was supposed to mean. Obviously his unconscious tried to tell him something. But he didn't know what. Maybe he had forgotten to tell her something? But even if that was the case, there was no reason to be thinking about it at a time like that. He would get himself killed if he didn't pay more attention to what was going on around him.
He saw Kisara sitting down in front of a fire place. She closed her eyes, similarly to what Yugi was doing when concentrating. Her hands were folded neatly in her lap, shaking to some extent. If Yugi hadn't been somewhat distracted, he would have felt sorry for her. She seemed to be afraid of something. But he had to once again move behind another pillar, and forgot about Kisara almost as soon as he had seen the scene.
"There it was again!" Akhenaden exclaimed, moving in the direction Yugi was at. The younger one sighed. His column was disadvantageously placed. He should have seen that beforehand. There was no way he could hide himself somewhere else without Akhenaden knowing. If he hadn't been so distracted the last few moments, this would have never happened. He was probably already hallucinating because of his fatigue. There could be no other reason to be thinking about Kisara at a moment like that. The girl was sweet but by no means the person Yugi would be thinking of, had he thought himself in danger.
"It's time to end this charade." Akhenaden hissed, eyes narrowed dangerously in Yugi's direction. Seth said something in hopes of distracting his father once more but it didn't work. Akhenaden was fixed on Yugi's position. Yugi was shaking because of how much magic he was using at the moment to hide his presence. His hands were curled into fists, and his face was as white as a sheet of paper. He was by no means in a condition to fight the former high priest. Even though the Gods had granted him an unlimited amount of magic, he was too young and inexperienced to be able to summon it for long periods of time. He had almost reached his limit. He could only hope Seth fond a way of taking care of his father soon but in his heart he knew that his friend didn't fare any better.
When Kisara appeared in front of Yugi's inner eye the next time, she seemed almost as real to him as the pillars around him. He could feel her presence. Was she thinking of him so strongly back in the palace? She had seen them leave. Maybe she was worried about them, and tried to contact them? He hadn't thought her to be able to use her own magic like that already. Seth hadn't been able to teach her anything yet. They had all been much too busy the past few days.
He turned to look at his charge. Kisara was crying. Frowning slightly, he tried to tell her that everything would be alright, that she didn't need to worry about him. Unfortunately, his words didn't seem to reach her. Or perhaps she didn't believe him.
By now Akhenaden had come to a stop right in front of the place Yugi was hiding at. Yugi concentrated on the former high priest once more, pushing Kisara's picture to the back of his mind. Giving up on concealing his presence anymore, he stepped out from behind the column, making sure his thoughts were at least still protected.
Akhenaden's face was twisted in a strange way, as though Yugi was looking at him through a funny mirror. It was about twice as long as it should have been, much thinner than was normal, and where the eyes should have been, he could only see hollow holes. His mouth stretched from one side of the face to the other; his teeth were elongated, sharp and silver, as though made out of metal. Yugi had seen too much to be scared about an appearance like that but he knew that wasn't a good sign. Akhenaden was so close to the shadow realm that it was already changing his appearance. The former priest would soon be sucked into the darkness.
"Ah, so it was you, holding me up…" Akhenaden said, though his mouth made no movement. The former high priest had opened a mind link to talk to him. It made Yugi wonder if that had been the way Akhenaden had talked all the time. It had always been easier to understand him than to listen to Seth during the duel.
"Why am I not surprised?" Akhenaden continued, successfully cutting off Yugi's train of thought. "But it doesn't matter now. You will die. His sadness and anger at seeing that-" Akhenaden gestured to his son, "will be enough for me to be able to turn him against the pharaoh. I will possess him, lead him. He will be mine!"
Blazing hot energy sizzled around Yugi suddenly, throwing him backwards a few feet, making him yell in pain before he could stop himself. He faintly realized he had landed in front of Seth but it was so difficult to concentrate now. He felt something touch his face, and heard somebody say something. He tried to look for his friends but his eyes wouldn't obey him. He was tired. He wanted to sleep but couldn't. He knew he couldn't sleep now but didn't remember why. What had he been supposed to do? Where was he at anyways? Everything was hazy.
The picture of a young woman appeared in front of him. Kisara, his mind supplied after some time, faintly registering what he was seeing. What was she doing here? Was he back in the palace? No, he could hear Akhenaden say something; although he didn't understand what the other was saying. He only knew the former high priest was closer to him than he should be. Was he the one kneeling next to him? No, that had to be Seth.
He could feel anger, so much anger…and pain, and helplessness. Why was he feeling like that? Was he the one being afraid? He didn't remember what he should be afraid of. Was he afraid of everything in general? Or was he feeling Seth's feelings? Was the other feeling like that? He had to tell him something. It didn't matter what he'd say, he just had to make a sound for the other to hear. He wasn't dead. He wouldn't die now. He was only tired…so tired.
Somebody was yelling. Were they arguing? Over him? No, Akhenaden wanted something from Seth. He didn't remember what exactly that had been but it hadn't been anything good. At least he still knew that. Everything else was hidden behind a deep fog. It was difficult to concentrate.
He dimly realized his face was wet. When had he started crying? Or was it raining? But the rest of him seemed dry…if a little burned from Akhenaden's attack. Had Seth cried over him? Couldn't the other see he was just tired? But he couldn't close his eyes…not now. It was important to stay awake. He couldn't remember what for but that didn't mean it was less important. He had to do something. If only they'd stop screaming. Maybe he could concentrate better if they were quiet. What were they talking about anyways?
Something blue was flying over him. Was that a dragon? Kisara was falling to the floor, fainting. What was the girl doing here? He heard somebody scream: "Nooooooooooo!" Then it was quiet. What had happened?
Seth was dragging him away. Where were they going? What had happened to Akhenaden? Why was he being dragged? It hurt. There were stones everywhere from the fight. Couldn't Seth see the stones? Why wasn't the other carrying him? Could he sleep now? Could he close his eyes? Was it finally over?
There was this blue thing again. It seemed to circle them. Or was it simply so large to be everywhere around them? Was that Seth who was talking? What was he saying? Yugi couldn't understand him. It sounded somewhat like "Aiiiiah oooonoooooovaaaaa eeeeuuuuuuugiiiiii." Had a language-modifying curse hit Seth? He didn't make any sense. Every sentence was stretched out three times as long as was usual. Maybe Seth had been caught in a time-warp?
Everything around him turned black.
"He isn't as gravely hurt as it would seem." Isis said. "Nothing, a good batch of sleep can't cure, my pharaoh. Though perhaps you shouldn't hold him like that. It could affect his rest." The high priestess bowed, and left the room. She had said everything that needed to be said.
Yugi could feel Atemu's arms around him, his own body pressed tightly against the king's. He wanted to protest at their uncomfortable position but found he couldn't talk. His body felt like lead. He hurt at so many places that he couldn't even say where the pain was coming from. Everything seemed to hurt.
"I've made sure high priest Seth gets his rest this time." Shada said suddenly. Yugi nearly jumped when realizing he was not alone with Atemu. He hadn't felt Shada's presence. "Jono is once again watching him but I've also stationed ten guards all around the room. I do not know what he was thinking! To leave in his condition." Shada scoffed. "He should be lucky they both survived. It could have ended much worse."
"Yes, I know." Atemu sighed. Yugi could feel Atemu touching his face softly. "He must have had his reasons. And Yugi was accompanying him…he will be the death of me yet." The king smiled fondly, and looked at his charge with worried eyes. "Isis said he would be fine. I can only hope she is right."
"She has never been wrong before." Shada countered.
"I have been informed, Kisara has been found." Atemu changed the topic.
"Yes." Shada confirmed. "I don't know what she was doing in the library. Teana has obviously not paid as much attention to her sister as she should. At least she noticed Kisara was missing eventually. The poor girl…to have a sister like that. No wonder she tried running away." Shada snorted. He was no fan of Teana; or concubines in general. "Kisara has been brought back to her room. She fainted, though we have not yet found out why. Isis went to look at her. And I asked a healer to attend to the girl as well. Yugi would have wished for her to be looked after."
"Thank you, Shada." Atemu finally said. "You should get some rest as well."
"If you allow, my king…I would much rather take your place in the throne room." Shada turned that offer down. "I can see you wish to stay with high priest Yugi, and I've had a good night's rest. You must be in more need of sleep than I am."
"Thank you, high priest." Atemu spoke. "You may go now." Yugi could hear the door closing only a short moment later. He was finally alone with his pharaoh.
"How do you feel?" Atemu asked him. Yugi opened his eyes surprised. Atemu smiled gently. "I felt you wake up." He explained. "Can you tell me where it hurts? I might be able to do something about it. Though I'm no experienced healer, of course."
Yugi shook his head carefully, and tried to tell the pharaoh that he couldn't distinguish where the pain was coming from with as few words as possible. Atemu helped him sit up and drink a cup of water. Yugi felt somewhat soothed by the cool liquid.
"What happened?" Yugi wanted to know, once he felt he could talk without making the pain any worse.
"Seth brought you back on his dragon. He finally managed to summon his ultimate monster." Atemu sounded almost proud about it. "He is very tired, though. The blue-eyed dragon used up much of his magic. He won't be able to duel for some days. We can only hope we won't depend on him in that time." The king sighed, worry evident in his eyes. Atemu turned away from Yugi, opting to look out of the window instead of at the young one. He could feel time was running short.
"I've sent some of the guards to fetch your horses." Atemu finally continued, thinking perhaps that part of the story was a safe topic. "Before Seth fainted, he told me he had defeated Akhenaden. He is finally gone." The king still didn't look back at Yugi, guilt now seeping in his aura. Did he blame himself for what Akhenaden had turned into?
"It's not your fault." Yugi objected weakly. "You could not have stopped Akhenaden from becoming what he did become. He chose the darkness. He was not strong enough for the item. You could not have known. Nobody could have." Yugi closed his eyes in pain, and tried to breathe more eavenly. He had talked too much. Atemu turned back to him almost immediately, and Yugi could feel the other trying to ease his pain.
"Perhaps not. We will never know." Atemu said quietly. Yugi was in too much pain to really register what the king had said.
"What happened to Kisara?" Yugi asked after some time, when feeling somewhat better.
"I'm not sure." Atemu confessed. "From what I've heard, it almost looks as though she tried some kind of ritual." He sounded suspicious.
"She is no dark priestess." Yugi said firmly.
"How can you be sure?" Atemu said heatedly. "You were saying the same of that tomb-robber, after all!"
"Bakura is not evil!" Yugi yelled, starting to cough almost immediately. Atemu pushed him back in a lying position, and concentrated on making the pain go away. Yugi felt his tears being gently wiped away.
"Let us not talk about that topic now." Atemu said, not leaving any room for objections. Yugi knew the other would not change his mind about Bakura. There had been too much hatred for too long between the two of them to ever change their feelings about each other. They only stopped talking about it because Atemu knew it was upsetting Yugi, and Yugi was in no condition for an argument.
"She was helping us." Yugi finally realized. "I saw her during the ritual. She was trying to help me." He thought back to his visions. "I did not fully understand at that time. But she was giving us her energy. She was the one helping Seth summon his ultimate dragon. She gave him her powers." Yugi was quiet some time, shocked by the revelation. To use so much energy over such great a distance…it was almost impossible to do so without sending pieces of your soul along with your magic. "She will never wake up." Yugi muttered, tears in his eyes. He had saved her from Zorc, only to let her sacrifice herself in an attempt to stop Akhenaden. This wasn't what he had hoped would happen. He hadn't known about that.
Atemu was quiet for some time, wiping away Yugi's tears. It was a hopeless business, though. As soon as he had dried up some of Yugi's tears, they were replaced by new ones. "Stop crying, little one." Atemu begged, kissing Yugi's forehead tenderly. "Please don't cry."
Yugi tried to do Atemu this favor but he couldn't stop feeling guilty and immensely sorry for Kisara. If only he had been able to control his own magic better. If he had been able to summon more energy, he would have been able to defeat Akhenaden on his own. He wouldn't have needed Kisara's help. Her soul was now bound to Seth's dragon. It was bound to the shadows. Nobody deserved that, even if you did it to help those you cared for.
"Is there any way to restore her soul?" Yugi inquired almost inaudibly.
"I'm not sure." Atemu hesitated. "If what you think is right, then her soul is bound to Seth's shadow creature. Without the piece of her soul, Seth might never be able to summon that dragon again. She has given us a strong weapon."
"Are you saying we shouldn't try to restore her soul just because Seth might be able to summon a stronger creature that way?" Yugi's voice rose once again. He stared at Atemu unbelievingly.
"If that is the only way to defeat Bakura, yes." Atemu answered just as heatedly. "What good would it do us to restore her soul if that just gets all of us killed? To sacrifice one…for the greater good…" he trailed off when seeing Yugi's expression. The younger one turned away from the king angrily. How could he even suggest something like that?
"I'm sorry, Yugi. I know it is unjust." Atemu sighed. "But I have to think of all my people. Bakura has gotten immensely strong. Ever since he merged with that demon from Sakkara…even my strongest creatures are nearly powerless." He paused. "If he attacks the next time, without being distracted for some reason, I might not be able to defeat him again. I will have to call upon all three Gods this time. If Seth has a strong dragon to boost my Gods, then a win might be in closer reach."
Yugi didn't answer. Deep inside he understood what Atemu was trying to tell him but it went against anything he believed in to just sacrifice Kisara. After all he had gone through to safe her… She deserved to live as much as anybody else.
"Would you be so ready to sacrifice my soul?" Yugi wanted to know in a fit of stubbornness.
"That's hardly the same." Atemu protested.
"Yes, it is. You just know me better. You care about me more deeply than about anybody else. You would do anything to save my soul, if it was within your reach; even if it meant not being able to destroy Zorc right away." He emphasized on Zorc, hating it how Atemu still blamed Bakura. Didn't he realize that Bakura wasn't his enemy anymore? That Zorc had taken the tomb-robber's place?
"You're right." Atemu consented. "I care for you more than I should. I would do anything, sacrifice everything, just to save you." He got up from the bed, and went to the window tiredly. "But I cannot stop feeling this way, even if I wanted to. It cannot be helped anymore." He sighed, running his hand through his hair despairingly.
Yugi watched the other sadly. He knew it was difficult for Atemu to feel the way he felt. He was a king, and had been raised to never favor anybody. He was supposed to treat everybody the same, even if that meant to show nothing but distain. Atemu had changed a lot over the past year. He had had to change for what was about to come. For the sacrifice Atemu had to make. There was only one way to defeat Zorc.
"I have to ask you a favor." Yugi said after a long pause. Atemu turned to look at him questioningly, motioning for him to go on.
"Please come back to me." Yugi begged, and padded the spot on his bed that had been previously occupied by his king. Atemu came obediently. He had never been able to turn Yugi down. Yugi carefully buried himself in Atemu's embrace. He stayed like that for some time, not really wanting to talk about the subject he had wanted to broach now. But he knew he was running out of time. He had to leave soon. He had to tell Atemu now, to ask him the last favor, the biggest favor of them all.
Atemu didn't say anything. He reveled in their embrace as much as Yugi did himself. The king probably felt that their paths would soon part. At least Atemu had the chance to see Yugi again, if everything went as it should. Yugi would not meet Atemu again until he died. And for a young boy like him that was an awfully long time to be separated from the one you loved.
"Will you promise to not interrupt me until I'm done explaining?" Yugi asked before beginning. Otherwise he'd never get it done. They'd just start arguing again. Bakura was a soft spot for both of them, though out of different reasons. Atemu nodded, cupping Yugi's cheek gently, and kissing his forehead once more. Yugi sighed in contentment. He wished it would never end. But, as happened with so many good things, time did not suddenly decide to stop to let them experience this moment for longer.
"It's about Bakura." Yugi began, stopping when feeling Atemu stiffening. But the other did not interrupt, as he had promised he wouldn't.
"I know you have difficulties believing me in this aspect…" Yugi continued softly, staring at Atemu's chest. It was much easier to talk when he didn't have to look into accusing and angry looking crimson eyes. Even if the hatred was not directed at Yugi, he still didn't like it.
"But Bakura is not himself anymore ever since Zorc took possession of his body. You have to understand that, while Bakura hated you, he would have never wanted to kill everybody in Khemet. It is Zorc's wish that is now controlling the tomb-robbers body." He stopped once again, knowing he was not explaining this the right way. It was much easier to think about what he was supposed to say, when he didn't have to fish for the exact words. Now that he had to say it, he had problems to say what he wanted to say. The right words were somehow escaping him.
"Bakura has been sealed away by Zorc." He tried again. "Much in the same way as Mahado's soul has been sealed away." He felt Atemu wanting to protest, and put a finger on Atemu's lips, effectively stopping the other from saying something. "I'm in no way saying Bakura and Mahado are the same. I'm just saying that they suffered the same fate, even if under different circumstances. Both their souls have been sealed into the shadow realm, and cannot be freed for the Afterlife until Zorc has been defeated."
Yugi removed his finger from Atemu's lips when he felt the other kissing it. This would just distract him from what he was supposed to do. If Atemu didn't understand him, everything would go wrong. "I know you want to kill Zorc, or Bakura for you. I know you don't care how you defeat him, as long as he dies." He could feel the king nod vigorously.
"The problem is that Zorc cannot be completely defeated if you kill Bakura just like that. As long as the demon inhabits Bakura's body, he cannot be sealed away again. You will just kill the soulless body he inhabits, and Zorc will leave undetected to look for another victim. I'm sure you know as well as me that he will find enough souls not strong enough to keep him from taking over. The war will never end that way. You will never win." Yugi felt Atemu sigh against him.
"The only way to effectively defeat Zorc is to remove his presence from Bakura's body, and fight him once you have exorcized him." Yugi finally looked up at Atemu, trying to see if the other understood what he was saying.
"Zorc can only be defeated one way, Atemu. You have to get Bakura's soul back into his body. Only when Bakura is present as well, you can get Zorc to leave the body, and only when Bakura's soul is present, you will be able to see Zorc himself. Otherwise you will never be able to distinguish the demon from another human being."
Atemu frowned. "Didn't you tell me yourself that Bakura died? You tried for weeks to get me to believe you. How am I supposed to get his soul back?"
Yugi sighed, trying to smile at the other encouragingly, and failing miserably. "There is only one way, Atemu." He paused, and looked down at their clasped hands. "You have to seal him with your own soul." He whispered, fervently trying to hold back tears.
"What!" Atemu hollered. He quieted down once more, though, when seeing Yugi's pained expression.
"I'm sorry, love." Yugi murmured, kissing the back of Atemu's hand. "But it is the only way. Only your soul is strong enough to seal a demon as strong as Zorc is."
Atemu sighed, shoulders drooping.
"You will have to seal your souls in the millennium items. Zorc will be sealed in the item he has taken possession of, and yours will be sealed into your puzzle, of course." Yugi traced said item for a moment fondly.
"Then you have to make sure the items won't be found until the time is right." Yugi rushed on, desperate to get it over with. "Seth will do that for you, if you ask him to. Tell him to destroy the puzzle, and to put it in a charmed box. We have to prevent anybody from unsealing either you or Zorc before the right time comes. There is a family of grave-keepers that you know and trust. Ask them to look after the items, to protect them from any harm for the next generations, as long as it is necessary." Yugi paused, his thoughts straying to Ishizu and Malik. He was the one responsible for their life. Everything they had to go through was his fault. He hoped they would eventually be able to forgive him, though they had every right not to.
"Does it have to be Bakura?" Atemu almost whined. "Couldn't I kill the tomb-robber first, and seal the next person Zorc chooses to inhabit?"
Yugi smiled weakly. "No. Only Bakura's soul will be strong enough in the future to help you defeat Zorc. You need a powerful priest for that. You know as well as I that Bakura is very gifted. Once he chooses to fight Zorc as well, the demon will be forced to exit his host, showing his true self. Only then you can defeat him. If a normal citizen is taken as host, Zorc will never be forced out of his body."
"But one of the other high priests would be strong enough as well." Atemu suggested.
"Do you really want the demon to go after Seth?" Yugi asked surprised. "I always thought you wanted him to be your successor if anything happened to you?"
"I do." Atemu justified himself. "I was just wondering…" He trailed off.
Yugi knew it was hard to sacrifice oneself. Even more so when you did it for a person you didn't care about. Atemu's hatred would only hinder his soul-seal. He sighed again.
"It wouldn't work anyways. If he took possession of another high priest, he would get too strong even for your soul to seal. You know as well as I that Seth, Shada, Isis and every other high priest has a very powerful soul. Otherwise they would have never been able to control their Millennium Items or their shadow magic. Zorc would feed off their energy. You could not seal him anymore. You can only overpower him as long as he is in Bakura's body. And once the two of you have been freed, Bakura will help you defeat Zorc, even if unintentionally. I'm not so delusional to believe he could ever like you…" He chuckled weakly.
"Concentrate on me, Atemu. Remember my love…do not think of Bakura or anybody else. Just think of me, of what you feel for me, and your seal will be stronger than anything Zorc would have ever expected." Yugi hugged his pharaoh tightly, burying his head into Atemu's stomach. He held on for dear life, feeling tears run down his cheek. He was crying for both of them; for what should have been, but never could be.
"We will meet again, won't we?" Atemu said after reflecting for some time over what Yugi had told him.
"Yes." Yugi nodded. "I will put your puzzle back together when the time is right. I will do anything to help you achieve your goal." He didn't mention Atemu would not even remember what he was supposed to do. The king didn't need to know that.
"Will I remember you?" Atemu wanted to know.
"Do you really think your heart can forget whom it belongs to?" Yugi asked mischievously, tears still running down his cheeks.
"No, I guess not." Atemu smiled sadly, and bent to kiss him.
They sat cuddled up close together for a long time. This would be the last night they could spend together for a very long time. From time to time, one of them would steal a kiss from the other. Even though they were tired they didn't want to spend their last night sleeping. They wanted to enjoy each other's presence.
"Do you know how to perform the seal?" Yugi wanted to know in the morning. The two of them had opted for sitting on Yugi's terrace, and were now watching the sunrise together. Yugi was sitting on Atemu's lap, and the older one was hugging him tightly.
"I wish there was any other way." Yugi confessed.
"I know." Atemu sighed. "At least I get to see you again." Yugi felt him kiss the top of his head.
"I'm going to talk to the others about this once they are up." The king continued.
"Good." Yugi nodded. He didn't really want to talk about that now. He wished he could take back what he had said. He didn't want to leave yet. He wished his time with Atemu could last forever. Why were the Gods torturing him like that? To give him everything he had ever dreamed off, only to take it away again. He would never meet Atemu again. He would have to return to his own time, forever being alone. Just like Ryou, an evil voice reminded him.
They passed Isis on their way to Seth's chambers. She was looking at them knowingly, and stepped up to Yugi, surprising him when she suddenly hugged him. "I'm going to miss you, little light." She whispered in his ear. "Until we meet again." Then she walked away, ignoring that all the people in the hallway were looking at her as if she had lost her mind. She had never showed any emotion like that before.
"Good-bye, Isis." Yugi whispered, just as quietly.
They entered Seth's room together, Yugi holding back his tears. They would only attract more attention if he suddenly started crying without any apparent reason.
"Hello Seth, how are you feeling?" Atemu wanted to know, waking up Jono in the process. The guard had been snoring loudly on one of the chairs. "Would you mind us talking alone for a second, Jono?" Atemu then addressed the sleepy head-guard. Jono nodded, and Yugi followed him outside. There was no need to listen in on Atemu's and Seth's talk. He didn't need to be present to know that the high priest would be furious. Seth would not understand their reasons. And he had wanted to say good-bye to Jono anyways.
"He looked awfully serious, didn't he?" Jono asked suddenly, bringing Yugi out of his stupor.
"Yes." Yugi agreed, trying to smile. Luckily, Jono was regarding the door instead of looking in his direction. Even he would have realized that something was wrong.
"It's almost time for me to leave." Yugi stated.
"What?!" Jono twirled around, and looked at him as though he had grown a second head. "What do you mean – leave – ?"
Yugi shrugged, trying to appear unfazed. "The mission I came here for has been completed. There is no need for me to remain."
"No need-!" Jono was too angry to even find the right words. He was opening and closing his mouth in a desperate manner, looking like a fish out of water.
"And what about us?" He finally accused Yugi. "I thought we were friends." He suddenly looked at the floor, staring at it as though it was changing color in front of their eyes. "Oh, forget it." Jono muttered in the end.
"We are friends." Yugi confirmed. "You are my family. I love you all just as I would if we were actually related by blood." He sighed softly, now looking at the floor himself. He hadn't realized up to that moment that the white marble had black spots. How careless he had looked at his surroundings. He snorted at his own stupidity. Why was he thinking about marble at a moment like that?
"But my mission has been accomplished. I have been sent somewhere else. I am a high priest. The Gods biddings…" He trailed off, not really knowing what to say. He already felt guilty for not telling Jono the actual truth. The guard didn't need to know he had been sent to them from the future.
"Does his royal highness know about it?" Jono asked after some time.
"And he lets you leave?" Jono exclaimed.
"There is nothing he can do about it." Yugi said. And there would be no point in asking me to stay anyways. He will be gone as well. But he didn't tell Jono about that. He would find out soon enough.
"When?" Jono wanted to know.
"I will leave today. Once I've said good-bye to all of you."
They stood next to each other quietly, leaning against the wall, each lost in their own thoughts.
"Whaaaaaaaaaat?!" They could hear Seth's yell even through the thick walls of the palace. Only the fraction of a second later, the door was thrown open, and an angry looking high priest stalked out of his room. He looked livid.
Jono eeped, and scurried away from them, knowing fully well when best to hide from his boyfriend. Yugi didn't move. He knew he deserved getting yelled at.
"Seth." Atemu called quietly, trying to calm the high priest down. He didn't listen.
"So…" Seth hissed, "I've been told you are leaving us today." He looked murderously. The walls around them were vibrating because of the shadow magic he was emitting. If Yugi was still sensible of it, he didn't notice. He was too distracted by the way Seth was looking at him to feel any kind of pain. And the remnants from their last fight had not completely disappeared, in spite of Atemu's attempt to heal him.
Yugi sighed but didn't back down. Seth was angry but he would never hurt him. "That is right." He agreed softly. "It is time." He looked at his friend sadly, willing him to understand. "I'm looking forward to meeting you again, one day." He added as an afterthought.
"Will we meet again?" Seth asked doubtfully.
"Of course." Yugi smiled brightly. "We are friends, after all." Then, he looked back at the floor. "I will never forget you, Seth. Never."
Atemu stepped up to his high priest, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We should prepare everything for the ritual. There is not much time left."
"Now?" Seth asked surprised. "Can't we wait a little bit longer? There is still so much to be said…" He looked back to Yugi for help.
Yugi just shook his head, realizing he was crying again. "I will miss you." He whispered. "All of you." Then he cowardly turned around, and ran back to his own room, passing Shada on his way. This was more than he could bear. To see their sad faces, to feel their pain…and there was nothing he could do about it but feel the same.
"Yugi!" Atemu yelled after him worriedly. But the pharaoh didn't follow him back to his room. As he had told Seth, there was much to be done, and only very little time left to achieve it.
Yugi threw himself on his bed, not even looking at his surroundings. It would only remind him of how much Atemu had done for him. This room had been prepared for him. Atemu had insisted upon it. He didn't want his love to be so far away from him, and he was worried somebody would try to kill him. Yugi had argued he didn't need it but gave in in the end. He had wanted his king to be happy. Now it only served as a reminder of what he could never have.
He cried, and cried, and simply couldn't get himself to stop. His small body hurt from all the sobs, and his eyes became puffy and red from the tears. He would never see Atemu again. And even if he would, perhaps Atemu hated him now because he had been the reason for the king to seal himself away. He hadn't told Atemu how long he would be locked in the puzzle; didn't mention that Atemu would remember nothing about himself, about his friends, or about anything else in general. Yami hadn't wanted to stay with him, after all. He had never mentioned he would like to stay. Maybe love had turned into hatred?
How would he ever be able to go on when knowing his heart remained in the past? What was he supposed to do in his own time? There was nothing he was especially good in except games. And there was no place in his world for adults who still behaved like children. People were looking at him weirdly already. It would only get worse over time. And he wasn't even sure if he wanted to play games anymore; without his other half. It would only serve to remind him of what he had lost.
A noise coming from outside alerted him that Zorc was attacking once again. He thought about going to the window, watching what was about to happen, but he couldn't bring himself to move. He knew the ending anyways. He could hear Shada scream in pain as Zorc attacked the priest. For a short moment Yugi saw Shada lying on the ground in front of his inner eye. The priest had bravely given his life for his king, to give Atemu more time to finish the ritual. His Millennium Item glittered softly for a moment, and then dulled without its master's presence.
"Atemu…" Yugi sobbed, big crystal drops pouring out of his eyes, and dripping of his chin. Eventually, he fell asleep from exhaustion, taking no more notice of the racket all around him.
- THE END -
Thank you guys for staying with me for so long, and for putting up with the long waits in-between my updates! You are the best readers anybody could wish for!
I'm working on the epilogue to this story. Half of it has already been put down on paper but unfortunately the more difficult part has not yet been written. I'm still very busy with catching up with all my classes, and have a lot of exams during the next month. It would be a lie to tell you that the epilogue will be up soon but I'm hoping you can read it at least some time in May. Please be patient one last time!
WARNING: I'm planning to write a happy ending for our protagonist. Everybody who thinks this ending is more realistic, should stop reading here. I don't want anybody to complain that Atemu somehow returning to Yugi is completely far-fetched. This is my story, after all, and I have a craving for happy endings. Everybody else should wait for my last update, and enjoy it. Should anybody have specific suggestions, feel free to tell my. I might be able to put some of your thoughts in my story. But, as I said, the first part of the epilogue is already finished, and I'm not going to change it.