Insert Disclaimer Here - The following is a work of fanfiction. And what does that word suggest? That this is fiction. Made by a fan. I think that's clear enough.

The first sensation he felt was pain, radiating across his face.

A few moments later, Ryou Bakura realized he was lying face down on what appeared to be long staircase.

"Whe..where am I?" he whispered under his breath, his eyes slowly coming into focus. Light fed in from behind him, stopping just short of illuminating the vast darkness before him. The stones were warm, still caked with sand. He had not gotten far before he apparently passed out. "I… don't… remember anything…"

He slowly sat up. His heavy body ached, and protested with all the strength it possessed. Ryou knew he must have been unconscious for a long time, several days at least, to warrant such exhaustion. It felt as though he had been lying on the stone steps for an eternity.

"The… last thing I… remember was… running into a church…" he whispered, trying to clear the clouds from his mind. "A church… that's right. And… and I heard the voice of…"

He looked down. Although he didn't remember even having it before, the millennium ring dangled from his neck. He picked up the ancient treasure, and stared at it. It was strangely cold.

"Of you, yami… You came back to me… You finally came back to me! And… and that's the last thing I…"

He stopped.

There was a strange silence. Something was missing.

Ryou blinked, surprised. He'd half expected his yami to berate him, to harangue him. The least he would have done was acknowledge his recent acquisition of the body they shared for the past several years.

But there was nothing.

"… yami?" Ryou whispered, shaking the ring a little. The metal spikes jangled as they struck against one another. But there was no voice coming from the ring, or from the adjoining soul room the spirit had crafted in Ryou's mind. It was completely empty.

"Is… Are you gone?"

He stared at the ring for what felt like a second eternity before dropping it. The metal fell lifelessly to his chest.

"I… what happened?" he whispered again.

Suddenly, something else caught his attention.

Deep within the darkness, he could hear several other familiar voices: A clear dark tone, attributable to Yugi Muoto's other self, the spirit that resided in the millennium puzzle. The rough scratchy voice of Yugi's friend, Jonouchi. The competing voice of Honda, trying vainly to get a word in edgewise. The friendly, often concerned voice of Anzu. And to his surprise, he could even recognize the gruff raspy voice of the teenage CEO, Seto Kaiba.

The whole group of his friends was at the bottom of the staircase.

"They… they must know what's going on…" he whispered, looking down into the darkness. Although he couldn't judge the distance, he assumed it would be quite a trek down.

He slowly tried to stand up, testing his legs cautiously, in case they would no longer support him.

"Did I come here with them?" Ryou asked himself aloud. "And… m..more importantly, where is… is here?"

His hand gripped the stones on the side of the wall as he took a timid first step. His stomach growled violently, a testament to the fact that it had probably been days, maybe even a week, since the last time he'd eaten. His eyes blurred and his head spun. Ryou fought to keep himself awake.

He took a few more steps, each one more assuredly than the rest, until he could see a faint light coming from the bottom of the tunnel.

The voices were growing much stronger. Ryou could hear everything clearly, as if they were directly beneath him. They were talking about the millennium eye. Ryou couldn't understand how they had obtained it. The last he remembered, it was still sitting in his apartment, on his dresser. His yami's trophy, so it would have seemed.

But from the conversation, it was evident that Seto Kaiba had somehow obtained it. And he was giving it to Yugi.

Ryou weakly reached the last few steps. And each of the voices turned quickly towards him.

"Bakura?" they whispered in unison, gasping. The millennium ring reflected in their staring eyes. It was evident to Ryou, just as it always was; they didn't know whether to be relieved or be afraid. But he could hardly focus on that.

He steadied his balance, and drew a shallow breath.

"… Wh…where am I?" Ryou blinked several times, attempting to make the three extra Yugi images disappear from his field of vision.

Jonouchi and Honda exchanged strange glances, while Anzu turned to Yugi. Kaiba, as stoic as ever, needed nobody to turn to.

"What… what happened? Please… wh..what am I doing here?" he whispered, his voice as dry as the sandstone that surrounded them.

"I think that's… the nice one…" Jonouchi finally added, still a little unsure. That was how he differentiated the two, anyway.

"The game is over. The spirit of the millennium ring is no more." Yami Yugi answered, confirming Jou's timid observation.

"I… don't… feel very well…" Ryou managed to whisper as he fell forward.

"Ryou!" Anzu shouted, jumping to the side. Jonouchi reached out, and the weak boy just collapsed right into his arms.

"Ryou? Are you okay?" Honda gasped.

"Like it matters anyway." Seto Kaiba answered for him. His mind drifted back to what brought him to Egypt in the first place. "He tried to kidnap my brother. He deserves a lot worse than what he's going to get."

"Kaiba." Yami Yugi stood between them. "The one who tried to take Mokuba was the spirit of the ring. And he's gone. For good."

The businessman snubbed such fantasy logic.

"Ryou is finally free of his control, after years of being an unwitting host." The pharaoh continued. "He won't hurt you, or anyone else. He was just a victim here."

While Yami Yugi confronted Kaiba, the other three friends were more concerned with Ryou himself.

"Are you all right?" Honda reiterated.

"Do you need to go to a hospital?" Anzu volunteered.

"Is there something we can get for you?" Honda asked again. "Speak to us…"

"… f..food…" he managed to answer before finally losing consciousness.

"Hey, I'm hungry too, but you don't see me fainting." Jonouchi snapped.

"That's not very nice." Anzu quickly snapped back.

"Come on, all of you." Yami Yugi eventually interrupted. "I think Ryou Bakura has suffered enough for now."

Honda nodded, and put one of Ryou's lifeless arms around his shoulders. Jonouchi took the other arm, and did the same, attempting to carry him back up the long flight of stairs.

"Hey, Yug." Jonouchi looked back around. "What should we do with his ring?"

Yami Yugi walked closer, taking the golden pendant in his hands. It was indeed cold to the touch. There was no trace of the spirit anywhere inside, and as is, it had only one more purpose. It was the last millennium item that he needed to collect, to place in the stone, and finally ascend to the afterlife.

"You should probably look after that." Honda added, helping him remove the ring from around Ryou's neck. "It is the last one, after all."

"A good idea, Honda." He smiled back.

"And we have a long journey ahead of us now." Anzu whispered, her voice bittersweet.

"Yes." The pharaoh smiled again. "With my friends by my side."

Anzu put her hand reassuredly on his shoulder, the best offer of encouragement she could muster in the face of realizing he would be leaving them. Meanwhile, Jonouchi and Honda silently carried Ryou Bakura out of the underground passageway, and back up to the surface. Malik Ishtar and his sister Isis were already awaiting them there. Isis would guide the pharaoh to his final challenge.

It was another few hours before Ryou even opened his eyes again.

When he finally came to, he was on a boat. He was alone in a small cabin, the weak trickle of water against the starboard side the only escape from the silence in his mind. At least they had left a generous amount of food, he thought to himself.