SC: I got this idea from this awesome poem I've read, "Erlkönig." Unfortunately, I don't speak German, so I had to read an English translation. My friends in German corrected all the poor translation errors for me, though.

(And for those of you who have me on your alert lists, I'm sorry this isn't an update to FBK. I've had two major projects and an AP test to deal with recently, and doing a quick one-shot just seemed to be a good idea to calm my nerves...)

Yugi shivered as a cold wind blew over him. He had just left the arcade where he had spent the last several hours with Joey and the others. It was a Saturday, a day where they could all let loose and play – but now it was much too late, and he needed to get home. Grampa would probably be a little angry with him for being out so late, but then again, he was a more lineate guardian than many other parents were. Yugi knew that all he would have to do is clean up the shop to earn a smile from his Jii-chan.

To quicken his arrival, he decided to cut through the park. It was dark, and the branches above him swayed and groaned like grasping arms, but it was still much faster than to go all the way around. The Game Shop was right on the other side. All I have to do is make it out of here alive… Something snapped in the bushes and Yugi jumped with a frightened squeak. He shouldn't think thoughts like that, not while he was out here alone…


The voice, low and smooth like marble, resonated in the air. It was warm, but dark; it overpowered the night, and yet was at one with it. Yugi cried outright this time, spinning around to see the owner.

There was no one there.

Yugi was panting, trying to regain his breath. He could have sworn someone had been right behind him; he had even felt the being's warm breath strike the back of his neck. When he turned, however, he saw a wisp of fog trailing away through the trees. "The fog," he said numbly. "That's it, I felt the fog and my head imagined a voice at the same time," Yugi told himself in an effort to calm his nerves. Though it had been unsettling, the voice had nonetheless sounded… caring. "I was just imagining Jii-chan's voice when I get home. Yeah." He started walking again but his mind still squirmed with apprehension.

The gentle caress of a hand on his shoulder; "The night is no place for you, young one."

Again Yugi leapt, this time swinging his hand around to strike at the person he knew was behind him. Frantic eyes, darting amongst the branches and shadows, strained to find the owner of that haunting, dark chocolate voice. Still he saw no one.

I'm going crazy… but I know I felt that! I couldn't have imagined it! "Who's there?" he decided to ask, still trying to regain his breath.

There came no answer. Yugi turned to continue on his way yet he had only taken a single step when he felt that not-real touch, this time grasping his hand. "The night is no place for you. Why don't you come with me?"

This time Yugi stayed completely still. He didn't move or cry out but instead looked down at his hand. He could feel another hand, a warmth shielding him from the chilly night air, lightly but firmly gripping his own. He felt it, but he saw nothing.

"Who are you?" Yugi asked again, keeping his voice steady despite the rising urge he had to scream.

Whatever it was ignored his question. "Why don't you come with me?" it repeated. "I can take you to a place filled with flowers of every color and warmed by the brightest sun."

"Are you a ghost?" Yugi couldn't see or feel anything beside him except the hand in his own. He remembered reading something in a story about ghosts being able to control what they touched.

"My mother weaves robes of gold for all who visit. She decorates the grandest halls with her works. Would not you like to see such splendor? Would not it be a sin to let such wonder go unseen?"

By now the panic Yugi had felt before was creeping back to him. "Stop it! I don't want to go!"

"Young one," it said, its voice now a rolling whisper. "My daughters dance like birds and are gems to the eyes. Come with me and watch them dance. Young one, my daughters sing like stars and harmonize with any heart. Come with me and hear them sing."

Yugi tried to pull his hand free. "I said I don't want to! Stop haunting me!"

It held fast to his hand. "Young one, come with me and be safe from the chills of night."

"I don't want to go!" Tears began welling up in his eyes. "Why? Why won't you let me go? Why do you haunt me?"

Now its voice grew dark and intense. "My young one, your innocence enchants me." It planted a second strong hand onto Yugi's shoulder, thus gripping him tightly. "The night is no place for you."

Yugi felt himself held immobile by its arms and looked up. Through his tears he saw the distorted image of a pair of eyes floating on the midnight air.

Sobbing, he asked finally, "Who are you…?"

Eyes of crimson swirled with intensity. "I am the Earl King."

The next morning, a search was carried out by the police, for Yugi Mutou had never returned home.

He was found dead in the park, laying facedown on the forest floor.

In his hand was a piece of gold fabric.