Summary: In the moment of sealing, not only did Atem have to sacrifice his life and soul, but also his name… (One-shot)
Toboe LoneWolf: Huzzah, I'm back. XP This is an old, old idea; finally the YGO muse creaked out and got this thing finished after two years at staring at three total lines. XP Wheee.
Yami's full past name aka his five royal names, is mine collectively,
although Takahashi gets credit for coming up with the nomen, though I
came up with the placement. For reference, that would be the Horus
name, Two Ladies name, Horus of Gold name, prenomen (throne name),
and nomen (birth name); kudos to those that get the references…
And yes, I'm using old forms of the names (Ex: Zork vs Zorc) instead of the current Shonen Jump translation, simply because I'm used to it and to keep to my own little continuity within my fics.
On a different note, I will be using both Ancient Egyptian and Quenya Elvish (Tolkien; don't own) in this fic; both will be translated. XP
Disclaimer: Toboe LoneWolf does not own YGO or our favorite bishie Pharaoh.
In the Name of the King
Atem, son of Ra, stood in the remnants of his palace. Pillars fallen and great stones cracked, a sad remainder of the seat of power. His head was bowed, his cape torn and dirty. Sand blew through the gaping holes, filling in crevices and tearing eyes. Outside Atem could hear the screams, the constant screams, as darkness surrounded them in a heavy weight.
It was time.
The Darkness was rising, the Thing the Thief Bakura called upon was approaching, and there was nothing Atem could do about it.
Firm steps crossed the short distance between them. Seto grabbed Atem's shoulders and turned him around, shaking him twice to emphasize Seto's bitten-off words.
"Damnit Atem. You. Are. Not. Doing. This!" Seto bored his eyes into his king's, emotions flickering through his eyes, breaking past Seto's stiff control. Fear. Anger. Defiance. Seto's arms quivered slightly, and he couldn't stop them. He was losing it, emotions once tightly kept inside leaking outside where he knew Atem could see it. Damn him, he was always the more perceptive of the two of them with emotions, and now he was going to die—
Atem raised his head, glaring at his closest friend. Purple eyes flashed red, tired and yet unbroken. Of course he was; he was the pharaoh, his spirit couldn't be broken because if he did, Egypt itself would break. But no, he was going to break himself… Pain, Seto saw in Atem's eyes; that much was clear. And perhaps…perhaps acceptance? Seto was never that good with interpreting emotions. Even if the two of them were close friends and loyal to death to each other. Atem's eyes told no lies to Seto. "Then what, Seto? Tell me! There is no other way."
"There has to be!" Seto cried. His hands tightened against Atem's shoulders, almost painfully, as if he gripped hard enough Atem wouldn't leave; wouldn't do this… "There has to be!"
A chunk of stone crashed from above, sending bits of shattered rock flying everywhere and stirring up the air. Seto shouted as a piece of shrapnel came towards them, automatically forcing Atem to the ground and protecting him with his body, the only thing he had left. With his Ka exhausted and his reserves drained, there was nothing Seto could do to support his king except for his loyalty.
Seto coughed as the two of them sat back up as the stone settled. A glowing hand pressed against Seto's shoulder, carefully healing the place where Seto had been hit. Fresh blood covered Atem's hand, over hands that were already crusted with red from constant fighting. Seto hissed, pushing Atem's hand away. No, Atem should not waste his energy healing him; he should save his energy for fighting, to keep pressing on…
"How else?" Atem cried back, answering Seto's unspoken question. He raised his bloody fist so that it stood between their glaring faces. "How else? The rest are dead, Seto. Mahado, Karim, Shadi, Isis, Akunadin…"
Seto's eyes flashed at the last name. "Akunadin…the traitor," he hissed. "If it hadn't been for him then all of this wouldn't have happened."
Atem unclenched his fist and rested it against his loyal priest's shoulder. "I know. But Seto…" he closed his eyes as he felt the wind picking up again. "The sands of time are changing."
"They can change again. Please…" Seto pleaded. He stretched out an open hand in an almost pitiable gesture. "Don't do this. Let me take your place, it is only right—"
"—You know you cannot. I have to." Gently Atem clasped Seto's outstretched hand before pushing it away, already letting go. Atem turned and stood back up, his back facing Seto's once more. "In another time, Seto, old friend."
Seto broke off a choked laugh as he rose as well. "In another time, I will stop you." He turned to face Atem squarely and raised one eyebrow. "I will beat you."
A tired smile crept across Atem's face. "If you can."
"You can count on it." With that, Seto placed the Millennium Rod in Atem's left hand, before gripping Atem's hand tightly. Looking downwards, Seto spoke in low tones, fiercely saying the words. "I swear my fealty to the Pharaoh of the Past and Future, He Who Commands the Wind. I swear it upon my soul of honor. Let Ma'at be my witness. We shall meet again, and finish what we have started." Seto paused, before letting go and taking a step back.
Atem nodded, and slowly removed the cover on the Millenium Rod, dropping the sheath to the ground. The metal falling was strangely loud in the midst of the roaring outside, or perhaps it was only Seto's imagination. Atem looked down at the deceptively light dagger in his hands. Forged in shadow magic, it would be the trigger to sealing the shadows, sealing them aside so that somehow, somewhere, they could destroy this madness once and for all.
Slowly, because he was tired and weak, shadow magic surrounded Atem. They came, whispering from their other realm, coming to the one they called master. Even if he was tired, or weak, he was still their master, and they would come to his call as he bid it.
But Atem needed more. He needed more than what they could give him. He needed to bind them to his will, to forge them into a cage that would enclose their own. He needed to make them betray one in favor of him, and who was he to command their entire realm? He was master, to be sure, but there were others, although he was the greatest.
We want more, they whispered. We want…life.
The shadows always hungered for life.
"Then this, I give thee."
With that he slashed open his right arm, letting blood pour out. The shadows around him writhed hungrily, lapping at the offered blood. They shifted and concentrated on the slow pumping flow, as Atem gritted his teeth as he transferred his grip on the Millennium Rod to his other hand. Faintly he heard Seto cry out as Atem slashed open his left arm, blood running down in rivets before being lapped up by the shadows. He dropped the Millennium Rod as the shadows encircled him even tighter. More, they hungered.
Fighting back tears of pain, he drew his left arm close to his chest, letting the trail of blood drip onto the Millennium Puzzle, every drop bringing the magic tighter together. His shaking right hand formed runes upon the air, the blood floating as it was held up by magic. Focusing, Atem called up the powers of the Puzzle, following the words of ritual that would bind the shadows to his will.
I summon the shadows.
The shadows fluxed,
taking on form. With an echoing, shaking voice, the shadows replied.
The shadows answer.
Outside Atem could
hear the crushing roar coming closer and a high pitched laugh that
could only come from the Thief Bakura. Atem had to work quickly. With
one last stroke he finished writing in the air, and opened up his
palms, entreating to the shadows around him. "Iash-i her heka
I call upon your magic.
swirled, encircling the pharaoh. Rising and falling, pacing in
circles, as if pondering the question. "An nima medew?"
and stood tall, in the middle of his interrogation ritual. The
Millennium Puzzle rested proudly in the middle of his chest, even as
blood dripped down its cracks. Atem's eyes flashed as he spoke.
"Per-a'a, sa Ra, setep en sheweteu, medew."
Pharaoh, son of Ra, chosen of shadows, speaks.
The shadows receded
a little at the naming. "Peter redi-ek?"
What do you give?
Atem's eyes closed.
The shadows would not act freely, not for a request as great as the
one he would ask. Atem could command the shadows, yes, but this was a
request where the shadow's law was higher. Here, the greater the
request, the greater the sacrifice needed. The shadows always
hungered for life; was intrigued by it, as much as it was intrigued
by death. They wanted life, and they wanted death. They valued a
sacrifice that gave them both. "Senef-i, heka-i, … ka-i."
My blood, my magic…and my soul.
In the background Seto shivered as Atem spoke the damning words. Oh, the sacrifice was great indeed. A pharaoh's blood, steeped in his magic, and the willing destruction of his soul? Yes, the shadows would do much for such a sacrifice.
The shadows swept in close, studying the face of the sacrifice. They saw no lies. And yes, he spoke truly, and he willingly came to them. The shadow's cold breath whispered into the sacrifice's ear. The shadows asked the final question of the ritual. "…Peter debeh-ek?"
…What do you ask?
Atem's eyes opened and narrowed.
"Bind him, shadows. Let him be bound, let him be chained, let him be sealed unto the shadows. Bind him, shadows, bind him in a vessel that he cannot break. Let him be broken, let him be shattered, until he be reformed by another's will. Let his fate be mine. Fiat. By runes and blood and sacrifice may my will be done."
With a screeching cry the shadows answered his command. The blood written runes floating in the air broke apart and swirled in circles, spinning and reforming, expanding and contracting, before a black portal formed and shadows began streaming outward. They cascaded over and out, running out of the portal in gushing rivulets. The overflow of shadows flooded outside and began reaching for the one named Zork Necrophades, dark god.
The shadows began twining around Atem's body, delicately sending out tendrils that wrapped around Atem's limbs, climbing upward like silvery snakes. With cold pressure they forced Atem's arms open, like a sacrificial offering. Atem gritted his teeth as the shadows latched on, digging inward, before seeping inside him.
He was being consumed by the shadows.
In the corner of the palace, Seto remained, watching his pharaoh. Though his heart fell in despair, knowing that his pharaoh had bound his fate with the dark god, Seto knew that the utter destruction of Egypt had been averted. For this, Atem had sacrificed himself. Seto would not leave; he would witness his pharaoh's final moments. Atem would not be forgotten, Seto vowed; Egypt would remember their pharaoh's sacrifice. Outside Seto could hear the roars of Zork, and loud curses from the thief. Seto smiled thinly; the shadows were taking effect.
Suddenly, a hissing voice echoed in the palace remnants.
"We ask for one part more."
Atem's eyes shot open. "What?"
"We ask for one part more." The shadows grew closer, hovering around Atem's face. "We require one part more for a sealing. We cannot seal him ourselves, no…we cannot bind him ourselves, no…we cannot seal him by only your blood and your magic and your soul."
The shadow's next words made Seto's blood and Atem's remaining blood run cold.
"We must seal him by your name."
Names meant power. True names greater still. To know one's name was to know oneself. One's entire existence hinged on one's name and its remembrance; for one's name to be forgotten or worse, erased was the worst death. It was beyond death, it was a ceasing of existence. How could one be let into the next world if one had no name? How may one be judged, be remembered, be spoken about if one had no name?
Atem's head hung low, as if in defeat. The shadows encroached closer, eating away at his body.
The silence exploded as the roof caved in, crushed underneath by Zork falling. The dark god twisted as the shadows coiled around him, squeezing Zork tighter and tighter. Zork's roar was cut off as the shadows wrapped themselves around his mouth, binding him tight. Then Seto saw the Thief Bakura stagger out, the shadows twining around him as well.
"Curse you, Pharaoh! What have you done?"
The shadows ignored him, and repeated its statement. "We must seal him by your name."
The thief's jaw dropped. "That? That? You would dare trying that? Oh, you are cursed indeed, Pharaoh."
Seto growled and tackled Bakura, pinning him to the ground. The two of them struggled, with shadows constantly flowing around him. Though the shadows continued to enfold around Bakura, none ever touched the priest. Bakura swore even more as the shadows tightened their grip on the Millennium Ring, and Seto realized that Bakura could no longer use the Ring.
Bakura sneered at Seto's looming face above him. "Keep smiling like that priest and you'll get a pointy tine in your eye."
Seto glared. "I cannot wait until the shadows seal your mouth."
Behind them they could hear the muted roars of Zork. Bakura barked a laugh; Seto mentally marked the man as crazed.
"Seal me?" Bakura laughed again; Seto was really getting tired of that. "I'm the King of Thieves, priest." Bakura raised his head, baring his teeth as he smiled. "And nothing can imprison the King of Thieves forever. You are fools, the pharaoh and you, thinking you can seal me and the darkness."
Seto's eyes burned. "He will not seal you, worthless graverobber," he snarled. "He will shatter you."
The shadows repeated their demand again, the shadows darkening as it demanded an answer from its silent sacrifice. "We must seal him by your name."
In a low voice Atem spoke, his head still hanging. "You ask for my name, shadows?"
Seto whipped his head around and stared. No, Seto whispered, no.
But Atem's eyes rose and said yes.
He spoke his final, damning words. "Then so be it."
The room filled with a loud scream, a collective howl as the shadows tightened their grip and seeped even deeper into their bounded souls. Seto screamed as well, mindless, thoughtless, the only thing coherent in his mind was the shout of his pharaoh over the roar, fueled by the ritual's magic.
"I sacrifice the Horus Athelas!"
The entire world turned one shade darker as the shadows pulsed and grew, sweeping across all of Egypt. The shadows invaded every crack, every home, every stone.
Seto screamed as flashes of memory ran through his mind, memories of the Pharaoh. From childhood to teenage life to his short reign on earth, Seto could feel the memories fading away, eaten by the shadows.
"I sacrifice the Two Ladies Ammon!"
Every memory, every reference was being wiped out. His name would be stripped from all the records, from every person's memory, to fuel the shadow's power. No one would remember his life, his deeds, his existence except for a faint memory.
He would become the Nameless Pharaoh.
"I sacrifice the Horus of Gold Tehuti!"
With each shout by Atem – Atem, Seto fiercely told himself, he would not forget, no – the shadows howled even louder, fueled by the name's power.
Healer. Hidden. Thoth.
Bakura was buckling underneath Seto's hands, screaming himself hoarse – Seto noticed detachedly that he did not mind Bakura screaming now; did that mean Seto was losing his mind? – the Millennium Ring shaking in spasms as the shadows wiped his memory clean, one by one – did Seto notice that his own memory was fading? No, because it was never there—or was it? Seto wasn't sure.
Flickers of memory, of Atem (yes that was his name, Seto remembered) dueling with the shadow monsters, of playing tricks on old Simon, on teasing older Mahado, faded away.
"I sacrifice the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Yami-Ra!"
He was a Pharaoh of darkness, Seto remembered. The name was foreign, the name coming from a vision the Pharaoh had experienced the night before crowning; a name that directly linked him to the shadow games he was so skilled in.
The shadows were building, and building, a bulwark of massive, elusive shadow energy. The dark god and the thief were almost completely covered in shadows, and all that was left was Bakura's still crazed smile, laughing even as the shadows tore away at his soul. Seto's hands fell through as the thief's body began to evaporate, seeping away.
Seto whirled around to look at Atem, who was still hanging by the shadow's power. Only faint traces of his body could be seen as the shadows pulsed and moved. The Puzzle still hung around Atem's neck, the eye on the Puzzle being the center of a swirling vortex of shadows. In shock Seto realized that Atem was turning into shadow, that he was being sucked into the shadows and sealed inside the Puzzle… Turning with horror Seto could see Zork falling to shadow as well, a darker stream that also flowed towards and into the Puzzle, intertwining with the lighter stream. The Pharaoh's shadow and Zork's shadow remained separate and distinct though, two darker shades of shadow being pulled into and sealed into the Puzzle.
They had shadows running through their veins, holding them and locking them into a never ending maze. Seto could see the shadows writhing inside them, coursing with dark power. He could also see Atem's soul slowly fracturing, breaking off in pieces before being swept into the Puzzle.
Atem raised his eyes to meet Seto. Only a trace of Atem's former self remained – but how could Seto know that if he couldn't remember, and he couldn't, Seto realized; he remembered nothing, nothing at all, but a whisper and a reason – a haunting look in Atem's eyes as they glazed over in phantom pain. Seto struggled to remember, fought by sheer will and training, clawing against the shadow's grip on his mind as one by one they faded away.
No! He would not forget his name, at least! At least if he could remember his name, he could remember everything else!
"I sacrifice the Son of Ra, Atem!"
Seto screamed and fell to his knees as the last memory slipped away. He screamed and he screamed, deaf to the world as he lost his pharaoh's name.
The Puzzle shattered and broke into a hundred pieces, falling onto the cold stone floor, the only remnants left of the Nameless Pharaoh.