Author's Notes: This was, well, finished as a gift for Snare-chan (LoverofSilverHairedBishies). I started this thing AGES ago, back when Yu-Gi-Oh!: Duelists of the Roses first came out. I'd been stuck on it for a long time, and was getting irritated with it. But Snare requested that I finish it up, gave me a deadline, and so here we are.
This is set pre-game, and explores Yami's decision to summon the Rose Duelist. I couldn't NOT hint at Darkshipping (Bakura/Yami) a little; after all, in the video game, Bakura (of all people) was mysteriously Yami's last line of defense against the opposition, so of course the fangirl in me kind of tackled it. Nothing explicit here, though; I wrote them as friends. Please try to keep in mind that DotR!Bakura doesn't have the same background as the Bakura we know from the series. Hence the lack of burning hatred. :)
Warnings: I call "Henry Tudor" 'Yami' throughout this, despite his being called 'Yugi' in the game itself, because frankly anyone familiar with YGO who looks at that pic of him can tell that the character's Yami, not Yugi (it's the eyes). If it bothers you heavily, though, it's easily fixed by copy/pasting this into Word and doing a find/replace on the names. XD;
Disclaimer: I don't own YGO, or any of its spin-offs.
A Risk Worth Taking
As Simon McMooran hurried through the long halls of the palace at Brest, he wondered for the thirty-eighth time what in the world he was doing there. After all, it was not every day that he received such a mysterious summons to appear before the esteemed Prince Henry of Lancaster. True, Simon was one of the prince's many advisors, but most matters of the court had a tendency to fall under the jurisdiction of the boy's uncle, Jasper Tudor.
Whatever the reason, the prince's messenger had been no more informed than he as to the reason for this meeting. He thought back over the past few weeks. Strange things were happening all over England and France. This was to be expected, what with the war still raging on, but Simon sensed that the future of the Lancastrians – and the Tudors as well – was nothing short of dismal.
Simon reached the ornate doors of the Prince's conference room, feeling as though he'd just run several miles. 'No,' he thought wearily, fighting to catch his breath, 'things aren't quite what they used to be.' When he had properly composed himself, the aging Celt rapped lightly on the door in front of him. A voice from within bid him enter, and he did so.
The room was warm and welcoming in crimson and gold splendor, not unlike the disposition of its single occupant. Simon managed himself into a bow as Prince Henry stood from his gilded mahogany chair and crossed the room to stand before him.
"Come now, Simon. You've known me long enough! You needn't be so formal," the prince said cheerfully, surprising the elder man. Simon straightened and looked at the prince for any sign that he might be feeling under the weather, but saw nothing but a kind smile directed at him.
"You are certainly in a good mood, my liege," the Celt said, returning the smile as the prince led him to a chair and helped him sit.
"With good reason," the prince said. "And call me 'Yami.' You know how I despise all these titles."
"And you know that I cannot ignore the decorum that comes with our positions," Simon said sternly.
The prince huffed softly in irritation, and Simon felt a pang of pity for this gentle young man who so loathed the rules and regulations that shackled him. Nevertheless, Simon wasn't about to get between the prince and his uncle, and so as much as he wished he didn't have to, he stuck rigidly to convention.
"Well, anyway," Yami – as he had chosen to re-name himself – said, "I've stumbled across an interesting bit of information that has the potential to swing this accursed war back into our favor."
"Have you, my liege? Well, this certainly is cause for some cheer!" Simon said, genuinely glad to hear it. "But I must wonder what this 'information' has to do with an old man like me." He chuckled.
"Oh, it has plenty to do with you, my friend," Yami said, suddenly solemn, and Simon was instantly on alert. "The moment we came across the legend, I simply had to heed Mother's advice and send for you. She seemed quite certain that if any one of our allies were to know if there is any truth to it, it was bound to be you."
"A legend, your majesty?" Simon asked, startled. Of course it made sense, he supposed, considering that he was well-versed in the legends and myths surrounding the royal family and its ancestors, but it had never occurred to him that any of those could do anything in regards to the war. "I'm not sure I understand…" he admitted.
"It has to do with ancient magic," the prince said seriously. "I thought… well, maybe it would be better to show than to tell."
Yami turned and reached for something resting on a short table behind him. Shifting back around, he placed a decorated wooden box on the table between Simon and himself.
"This," this prince said, motioning the box, "was given to me recently by Shadi – our royal historian; I assume you have met him?"
At Simon's nod, he continued, "Inside is a parchment detailing a Druid legend and what appears to be some sort of summoning spell."
Simon didn't respond as he studied the engravings on the box. There was a large rose emblazoned on the lid, surrounded by smaller replicas of the design along the sides of the container. It sparked a vague sense of déjà vu, but nothing in particular came to mind.
The prince addressed him once again.
"Please, my friend, have a look at the content and see if you can make any sense of it."
Simon was surprised.
"Is it in another language, my liege?"
"No, no; nothing quite so fancy," the prince replied. "It just sounds… well, like something out of an old wives' tale – a bit too good to be true. I am unsure whether I believe it, although I'd certainly like to!" And there it was again; the cheerful countenance had returned.
Casting a final glance at the rose décor, Simon carefully lifted the lid. Nestled at the bottom of the box was a thick roll of aged parchment, which Simon picked up tenderly, worried that it might crumble.
As his eyes scanned each line of calligraphy, the old man felt his heart begin to pound. This could not be what he thought it was… he had thought this passage long lost; it was written well before his own time. There was legendary, powerful magic contained within these words, magic of the type that one might hear of in children's fairytales. Finally coming to the end of it, he looked up at his prince with an expression of awe.
"This…" he exclaimed, struggling to calm himself, "This is about the Rose Duelist!"
Yami remained silent, and Simon's excitement overrode his judgment for a moment as he spoke out of turn.
"If we were to actually manage the summons," he breathed, "we would doubtless be the victors of this war!"
"So it's legitimate, then?" the prince asked, his face carefully guarded, and Simon suddenly sensed something was wrong.
"I'm certain of it," he affirmed. "It's nothing short of a miracle that this text fell into our hands like this. This could be the chance we've awaited!"
"Then I suppose I have a decision to make," Yami murmured, and Simon felt his initial elation begin to slip away.
The prince stood suddenly and strode to the window, looking out over the land of his exile. It had begun to rain.
"Would you be able to prepare such a ritual?" the young man questioned.
"Certainly, your majesty. I have heard of this magic before, although this is the first I've seen of the original document. However, I feel sure that it is much more truth than legend."
"And how many attendants do you think you might require?"
Simon shook his head. "If you wouldn't mind it, sire, I believe I could accomplish the ritual itself alone. I find it more and more difficult to trust soldiers the longer this war goes on. I will have to travel to Stonehenge, of course, so I will need a handful of men to crew a ship for passage. But my liege…" he paused. "What troubles you? You seemed excited at the prospect before…"
"Yes, I know," Yami said softly, his eyes still focused out the window, "but it occurred to me just a moment ago…" he turned to face Simon. "If we are to manage this, we must do so in absolute secrecy," he said firmly. "If Seto Rosenkreuz's army gets wind of this…"
'Ah,' Simon thought, 'that is his concern…'
"I certainly agree with you, your majesty; our opposition must not learn of the legend. However," Simon paused, wondering how to phrase his question respectfully.
"Yes?" The prince tilted his head inquiringly.
"I wonder…" Simon said hesitantly, "if perhaps we should tell at least our certain allies?"
"You mean the heads of each defense outpost," Yami said, and Simon nodded.
"Most especially your uncle," Simon added. "And if it is not too bold of me, my liege, I'm rather surprised not to see your Secretary of Defense here! I would have thought that he'd be keeping a closer eye on you than ever at this stage of the game…"
"And so he has been," the prince affirmed softly. "However, I feel as though telling our allies of this will make them think that I don't trust them to do their duty to me, when in reality…"
"On the contrary, your majesty; I'm sure they'll be happy you informed them!"
"But they will protest…"
"You are concerned that they will talk you out of the idea?"
The prince nodded. Simon frowned.
"Perhaps, then, you are not entirely confident in the idea yourself, my liege…?"
"We are desperately short on time, my friend," Yami said quietly. "We cannot afford to delay things. I fear that I will have to go against all of them on this account. I will explain things to them once the plan is already set into motion…"
Simon stood from his chair and bowed deeply.
"Very well, my liege; I will do my best."
As Simon scuttled out of the room to carry out his orders, Yami sank deep into his chair. There was a headache forming in his temples and between his eyes. He rubbed at the soreness, but it seemed to have no effect. He wondered blandly if this and the rain were signs to indicate that he'd made the wrong choice.
It wasn't that he didn't trust his fellows; that was far, far from the truth. He trusted them more than anything. But that was precisely why he hoped that this 'Rose Duelist' would put an end to the war. He did not want to see any of his friends get hurt. He felt in his heart that he would rather die himself than watch Seto slaughter them before his eyes.
Téa, the furthest ally from him, was the closest to Yorkist territory. Windsor was still heavily under Yorkist control, and Yami wasn't about to pretend he didn't know the citizens would turn on the Lancastrians at the slightest provocation. If Seto's army managed to make it past Téa's soldiers, Yami knew it would only be a matter of time before the fort fell into the hands of their enemies. Yami clenched his fist against his forehead. He would never forgive himself if Téa's fortress was infiltrated by that scum. He had tried to get her to see reason – he trusted her, but he did not want her to be the start of the Lancastrian defenses.
"You think I can't handle the battles because I'm a woman!" Téa had hollered at him in fury.
"That's not true!" Yami had defended. "I am sure you can handle them. What I am unsure of is what Seto will do with you if he should get past your guards!"
There were things that Seto could do to her that Yami was loathe to consider; things that were worse than a simple death sentence or imprisonment. The thought made Yami's skin crawl.
He feared for her, and he wished with all his heart that he hadn't allowed her to convince him to let her go.
Next in his line of defense was T. Tristan Grey. Stationed in London, Tristan was close enough to Téa to lend her his support, but to do so would strain his own defenses. He was situated right in the heart of the Yorkists' land, and any breach in his resistance would be the perfect chance for Seto to bring the fort down. Tristan's reports had grown non-descript and scarce due to the number of Yorkist spies in the city around him. His position was vital, and his information was as well, but to be caught sending detailed posts to the exiled Prince Tudor… Tristan had his head on the chopping block, and Yami was in no position to aid him.
Then came Yami's own mother, Margaret Mai Beaufort. It was she who had known to call Simon about the legend. Mai was his eyes and ears over on the English side of the Lancastrians' limited territory. Being further from the capital as she was, she was better able to supply Yami with information regarding the movements of Seto's troops. Having her over there made Yami feel better – though only slightly – about the safety of Téa and Tristan. His mother was a strong, clever woman. She would not go down without one hell of a fight.
The port city of Dover lay between Mai and Yami's next ally, Mako. Mako was something of a newer acquaintance of Yami's compared with the other three, but he had no doubt at all that the young man was trustworthy. The son of a fisherman, Mako had always wanted to take his love of the sea one step forward – he wished to defend her. With that in mind, he had quickly climbed up the ranks of the royal navy, and Yami had always appreciated the man's quick wit and gentle nature. It was for these reasons and more that he had entrusted Mako with the responsibility of defending the Strait of Dover. The strait was the critical link between England and France, and if Seto could get past that… Yami didn't want to consider what that might mean for his cause.
However dismal the idea, however, Yami had had to plan for just such an event, and so he had positioned his most familiar and closest friend – Joey – at Amiens. And if it came down to such a situation, as the blonde had put it, "I'll beat Seto down so bad, he'll wish he never got on that boat in the first place!" His friend was completely put-off by manners, but Yami had known him since the two of them were children, and he knew the other was more than capable of making good on his boast.
Tucked away in Paris was J. Shadi Morton, possibly the quietest man under Yami's employ. Shadi was his historian, and when the man had quietly protested against being taken back to the relative safety of Brest in favor of staying with his precious books, Yami had compromised by setting up an outpost of soldiers to defend the area. Shadi himself was no stranger to military action, ranking as Senior Admiral in Yami's own army, and so he himself was in charge of the makeshift base. Now, with this legend of the Rose Duelist that Shadi had so benevolently provided him with, Yami was a bit more glad that he had made such a deal with him.
Then, because the old man couldn't bear to just stay put like a normal person his age, Yami's uncle, Jasper Dice Tudor, had absolutely INSISTED upon setting himself up in Le Mans, much to his nephew's dismay. They had argued for days over Jasper's self-appointment, but despite Yami's being the prince, Jasper's position outranked his own, if only because the man had practically raised Yami himself and the younger felt somewhat obliged to the elder. It wasn't as if the man were insensitive – really, he was quite a kind and jovial man. But occasionally Yami wondered if, like his own late father, his uncle was stark raving mad.
Most of the times Yami thought as much were when he and his uncle would argue over Yami's eighth and final defender, Bakura. Though Jasper himself had brought Bakura to Brest for military training years ago, he seemed rather vehemently against the man's relations with Yami. The two had a strange sort of friendship. Bakura, whose post was in Rennes, had been orphaned in that same city as a child. Jasper, having heard of the deaths of Bakura's parents, had gone to collect him due to the fact that Bakura's family was honor-bound to protect the Tudors. Like his parents before him, Bakura had served Yami's family with pride, and Yami was greatly impressed – if not sometimes irritated – by the extent of the man's loyalty.
However, the man had a bit of a mouth on him, and Jasper was constantly jabbering about his lack of tact and decorum – traits which Yami, to the contrary, found to be rather fascinating. Bakura was the highest ranking official in Yami's army, and was therefore directly in charge of the prince's protection. Yami gave him a lot of leeway to do as he saw fit; the man was a brilliant strategist.
Which was why Yami was certain Bakura would throw a fit the moment he received word of this Rose Duelist's summoning.
The Duels themselves were a new and strange phenomenon. It had been only a few years ago that the card-based technology had been discovered. At first, the blank cards had been produced simply to hold those bizarre creatures which Yami himself and various others of exceptional strength were able to summon, seemingly out of nowhere. Before the cards, the creatures – which ranged from the human-esque to the truly frightening – had wandered freely, and posed a threat to the common people. Now, they could be contained within the confines of the cards, where they would remain until their creators called them forth.
However, because the technology hadn't been considered dangerous at the time – it was certainly safer than letting the monsters run amuck – it had become common knowledge to all those with such creatures at their disposal. And that included those in Seto's army.
Seto had apparently found all normal methods of warfare too boring for his tastes, and had shocked Yami and his followers when in the midst of battle, the Yorkists' commanding officer had given the order for the soldiers to drop their swords and concentrate on summoning monsters. The Lancastrian army had suffered a great loss that day before being forced to retreat.
After that, it was clear that those with the power to summon the strongest creatures would be the ones to dominate the war.
Yami's hope was that this Rose Duelist would have the strength necessary to turn the tides on the Yorkists and secure a swift victory for his side. Even more than that, perhaps, he felt pathetic for hiding behind so many people for so long already, putting their lives in jeopardy for the sake of his own. The time for clever strategy was over. The war had been raging on for too many years now, and Yami needed to end it as quickly as he could. If bringing a Duelist from another time would ensure that Yami's allies would live to see the morrow… then that was exactly what he intended to do, even if he had to step on a few toes to bring it about.
It wouldn't be long now. Yami knew that despite his best attempts to keep his plans a secret, his fellows would catch wind of it eventually. He just hoped that they would understand the necessity. He knew Bakura and Joey were already suspicious of him. His mother knew already, of course, since it had been her idea to send for Simon. He was sure that his mother would also have told his uncle, and it was certain that Shadi had at least suspected the importance of the documents he had found, otherwise he would not have brought them.
Yami sighed deeply, still rubbing at his aching head. Too many variables… it was nearly impossible to keep anything a secret anymore.
Retiring to his bedchamber, the exiled prince readied himself for sleep. It would be several days before Simon returned, and he couldn't very well sit up all that time waiting and worrying.
'Please let everything go smoothly,' he pleaded silently to whatever deity might have been listening, before his head hit the pillow and he fell into a dreamless slumber.
The following morning, Yami's breakfast was interrupted when the door to his dining room burst open to reveal a bedraggled and severely irritated-looking Bakura. His scarlet armor was spotless as ever, but his hair was still damp from journeying through the rain. Somewhere between the castle gates and the dining room, he must have discarded his traveling cloak. Yami had just gotten to his feet by the time the white-haired man crossed the room to stand towering over him.
"I came as soon as I heard," the taller said, his voice tense.
"Heard what?" Yami asked, ushering the other into a chair before sitting back down in his own. Noticing several of his attendants standing in the doorway and looking quite startled, he quickly waved them away as the other opened his mouth to continue, rolling his eyes skyward.
"'Heard what?' he asks… You know damn well what I'm talking about!"
Yami went back to his breakfast as the other sat seething beside him.
"Have you eaten since you arrived?"
"No," Bakura said curtly, "but that's not the point—"
Yami cut him off briefly as he summoned someone from the kitchen to bring Bakura something to eat and drink. Bakura sat in steaming silence until his meal was brought out. For a moment, he glared at the prince before practically diving onto the food. The corner of Yami's mouth turned up ever so slightly; he'd known the other must have been famished by the time he got to Brest from Rennes, even if it was the closest outpost.
When the other finally slowed to a less-frantic pace, Yami said calmly, "Now, let's try this again: what was it that you heard that put you in such a frenzy that you felt it necessary to personally leave your post in Rennes to come rushing to my side? Not that I mind the company, I assure you," he added as Bakura opened his mouth with what was sure to have been an angry retort. Instead…
"…You're such a dolt," Bakura said sullenly around a mouthful of eggs.
"Don't let my uncle Jasper hear you saying things like that."
"The old badger's here, too?"
Yami shook his head, and Bakura relaxed again.
"Would've been just my luck," he muttered. Swallowing a mouthful of tea, he continued, "It just so happens that I managed to catch Shadi on his way back to Paris. It seems he dropped off quite the important document for you to look over."
Bakura gave him an accusatory look.
"Oh, that," Yami said flippantly, inwardly cursing at just how quickly Bakura had gotten wind of it. He was certainly good at his job. "Yes; he found it lying in the archives collecting dust and thought I might get a kick out of reading it. You know how bored I've been, cooped up in this awful place…"
"Don't lie to me; you're no good at it." The other gave him a burning, searching look. "Shadi wouldn't reveal the contents of the document to me. Said he was under direct orders not to tell anyone, regardless of their authority. That is what had me abandoning my post in Rennes to come check up on you here in your wonderful little solitary confinement ward."
Another glare was directed in Yami's direction.
"I'm not an idiot, Yami – I knew it must have been something vital if it was too confidential to discuss in front of the trainees and important enough for Shadi to trek all the way out from Paris for. He wouldn't bother if it was just to relieve your boredom."
Yami sighed, giving in to the fact that he'd been caught.
"All right," he said quietly, and Bakura immediately put his dining utensils down, focusing entirely on Yami, much to the latter's dismay. "The document was a spell – a summoning spell."
"Like the ones we use to contain and release the creatures in those cards?" Bakura queried.
"Similar, yes," Yami admitted. "Only this spell can summon… well, it can summon a human being."
Bakura looked skeptical.
"Can it, now?" he asked, relaxing somewhat as he returned to picking at his food. "What good does that do us?"
"The person it summons is powerful, Bakura. A warrior from another time period."
Bakura snorted softly into his teacup.
"And I suppose it hasn't occurred to you that this person might be some primitive, stone-throwing caveman?"
Yami frowned at the other's lack of faith.
"I'm no fool, myself," he said testily. "The spell specifically says that the warrior would be brought from the future."
"Impossible," Bakura said instantly. "The future has not even been determined; how could someone be summoned from a future where they may not even exist yet?"
Yami felt his headache begin to make a comeback from the night previous.
"And even if it were possible," Bakura plowed onward, ignoring the prince's faint plea, "how can you be sure this 'esteemed warrior' is trustworthy? Perhaps he's such a great warrior because he has no remorse; perhaps he won't be particularly enamored with the idea of being torn from his homeland and expected to fight for our cause, a cause that likely means nothing to him. Perhaps he's a descendant of the Yorkists." This last, Bakura said with a look of revulsion.
Feeling slightly ill, Yami looked down at his hands in his lap as Bakura's words slowly sank in. Every bit of it was true, and Yami hadn't considered any such possibilities. For all he knew, he could have just sent Simon to his death. He clenched his fists.
"I want to see this document," Bakura was saying. "We don't have the resources to waste on something that has no guarantee of success. Personally, I think we should disregard it entirely; we're perfectly capable of handling this war ourselves. We just have to," he smirked, "play our cards right. However, if it will make you feel better to have tried, I will look it over for any sort of loophole in the spell, and by God, if we have to, we'll run it by your uncle—"
"It's too late." Yami's voice sounded far away to his own ears, but it silenced Bakura in an instant. He could feel the other's eyes burning into him.
"What do you mean, 'too late?'" he snapped.
"I've already given it to Simon. He's on his way to Stonehenge as we speak, to commence the ritual."
There was a long, suffocating pause. Yami couldn't bring himself to meet Bakura's eyes, and he felt suddenly and utterly alone.
Without further warning, Bakura leapt to his feet, his chair tumbling backwards to the floor with a crash. Several attendants came running at the commotion, but Bakura ignored them entirely.
"What were you thinking, you wretched, brainless child?!"
Their company gasped at the white-haired man's uncouth outburst, but none dared to reprimand the head of the royal military.
Very quietly, and without addressing Bakura, Yami dismissed the growing crowd, who left him with reluctance.
As the doors clicked shut, Bakura began pacing furiously up and down the full length of the dining room, his fists clenched at his sides.
"Don't you 'now, Bakura' me, you little imbecile," the taller snapped. "Why would you do something so brash and utterly stupid without first consulting me? ME! Remember me?! The one charged with defending you? The one who leads your army?"
"I did not consult you because I knew you would be against the idea. I thought I'd save us an argument," Yami explained as patiently as he could, hoping the other would calm down if he himself didn't lose his head.
"You…" Bakura trailed off, growling under his breath.
Yami rubbed futilely at his aching temples. "I know you're upset—"
"I'm a bit more than upset!"
"—and you have every right to be—"
"—but it had to be done," Yami finished. "There's no other way."
Even as he said it, though, Yami knew he was simply fooling himself. Bakura was absolutely right; it had been a terrible decision. Had he discussed matters with Bakura as he should have, he probably would have decided against the whole thing. But Yami couldn't take it back now, and in his heart, he knew he had to take this risk – he would do anything to keep his friends alive.
Bakura stalked over to him, and Yami flinched as the other clamped his hands down on the arms of Yami's chair, leaning in close.
"There is always another way," Bakura hissed, his voice filled with venom, but Yami saw the hurt that flashed in his eyes for only an instant.
Despite knowing that Bakura was upset, and despite his pounding headache, Yami managed to keep a firm edge to his voice.
"You mean a way that puts you and everyone else in danger," he said, realizing a second too late how horrible that must have sounded.
Bakura took a step backward, looking down at the prince as if he'd never met him.
"It's good to know the extent of your faith in me, Tudor," he sneered coldly, whirling around to leave, "that you'll gamble on the abilities of a stranger rather than depend on me to do my job."
"It's for the best," Yami said very softly. Bakura gave him one last look of disgust before he threw the doors open and stormed out, slamming them shut behind him.
Yami, left alone, finally allowed himself to abandon posture and slump into his seat. He felt sick. He had known full well that his decision would be a harsh blow to Bakura's pride; the young man had spent his whole life preparing to serve the Tudor family, and Yami was nothing but grateful, but…
It was selfish of him, but he didn't want to see the other get hurt. It had eased his mind to be sending a stranger into battle, though he was disgusted with himself for even thinking such a thing. Now he wasn't even sure if that stranger would go into battle for him. All he could do now was await Simon's return, hope that the plan had been carried out successfully, and pray that his friends would not abandon him for wanting to save their lives.
Whenever Bakura came to Brest from Rennes, he always remained there for at least a week, nitpicking at every little detail of the soldiers' training exercises and generally making a pest of himself with his concern for his prince.
This trip, however, he'd apparently deemed to have been a waste of time.
It was nearing sunset when a messenger knocked cautiously on the door to Yami's private chambers. He had been sent to inform the prince that Bakura was at the stables, preparing a horse for the journey back to Rennes.
Yami had sat frozen in his chair for a few moments before getting up and rushing past the startled young man.
Now, as he approached the stables, he saw for himself that it had been no joke.
Yami rushed forward until he was standing right beside his Secretary of Defense, who had just mounted his horse and was holding the reins in his clenched fist.
"Where in God's name are you going?" Yami snapped, still stunned that the report had been true.
"I am returning to my post at Rennes, and will be there by nightfall in two days' time," Bakura said thinly, not loosening his grip on the horse's reins. "I believe that is, in fact, the message I just had sent to you…?"
Yami craned his neck, staring up at him. "Bakura," he said, a note of panic entering his voice. "I know you understand my actions… I know you do…"
"It is not my business to understand the reasoning of the upper-class, my prince. I'm just a soldier, after all. I do what is asked of me; I fight to defend the royal family."
"And I am asking you to stay!" Yami said angrily.
If Bakura left, he would be alone at Brest, alone with worries for the safety of his friends and his people. He did not want Bakura to leave without hearing the proper explanation; he wanted to confess his true feelings to the other, because Bakura was the only one here, and Bakura was the most likely to take him seriously and not force him to hold back for decorum's sake.
He wanted someone to know how frightened it made him to think of poor Téa, Tristan, and his mother, trapped in England. He wanted someone to understand that he didn't want it to come down to Mako, Joey, and Shadi fighting to defend their homeland from the Yorkists, because the Yorkists could not be allowed to make it that far. And he wanted to tell someone that no amount of intelligence or strategy in the world would make him feel better about sending his uncle or Bakura into battle, because there was always that chance that they could be killed, and Yami never wanted to be responsible for putting their lives in danger, whether it was their duty to die for him or not.
All of this circulated his mind, but he couldn't seem to say it aloud. Bakura remained silent, watching him with an unreadable expression.
"Please, try to understand," Yami said, his tone dropping so only Bakura could hear. "I have absolute faith in you – in all of you, truly. I just… I cannot allow…"
"You cannot allow any of us to die," Bakura finished for him, glancing away with a roll of his eyes. "We will live forever, immortalized by our friendship. Don't be delusional, Yami – we are all going to die eventually. It may not be very appealing, but it is the inevitable truth. It is our duty to fight for you; we chose this path ourselves. It is not as if we were forced into servitude."
"I know that…"
"Then why not just let us do what makes us happy, and stop worrying about what Seto's army might be capable of?" Bakura looked back at him, his eyes serious.
"If this Rose Duelist can keep my worst fear from coming true, then it will be worth the risk."
"If this 'Rose Duelist' tries to undermine our cause in any way, shape, or form, I'll make it my personal goal in life to kill him right alongside those Yorkist scum," Bakura said, and Yami had no doubt at all that he meant it. "And then I'll come back here and holler at you until your ears bleed."
"Just as long as you come back," Yami said, and Bakura laughed.
"You really are going stir crazy here," he said. "You're not going to get rid of me no matter how many of these other-world duelists you summon. But, by your leave, now that I know what has transpired, I do need to return to Rennes. I was preparing a new wave of troops to head towards Dover. If all goes according to plan, they should cross over into England by the middle of next week."
"You're on top of things, as usual," Yami said, relenting. "I will send a messenger as soon as Simon returns from Stonehenge," he added. Bakura nodded, once again clutching his horse's reins.
"Give my… regards to your uncle, if he stops in to check on you," Bakura said, his eyes glinting devilishly. "I'd love to see his face when you tell him you and I were here alone for a whole day. He seems to think I'm irresponsible or some such thing."
"I can't imagine why," Yami said.
Bowing slightly from his place in the saddle, Bakura snapped the reins and took his leave. When Yami could no longer see him, he returned to the castle, determined to maintain faith in his plan.
Yami sat alone in the dining hall, staring mournfully out the window, the meal in front of him forgotten. Rain fell thickly over the place of his exile, as it had been doing for several days. The sea, visible even from his position, churned with the storm's force.
By his count, Simon should have returned from Stonehenge yesterday. He hoped that it was merely the weather that was stalling the man, and not something more sinister. The longer he waited, however, the more he began to wonder if Seto could have found out about their plan somehow. After all, Stonehenge was located within Yorkist territory. There was no fortress there, but…
Yami's worried musings were interrupted as the doors opened and a rush of sound hit his ears. He leapt to his feet, a brief feeling of hope stirring in the pit of his stomach.
The procession that entered the meeting hall was larger than he'd expected, and Yami felt immediately better to be surrounded by friends. Simon had returned, looking perfectly safe and sound. Joey, Shadi, and Yami's uncle were with him; Yami assumed Shadi must have informed the others of the document as well. Also attending was a stranger. Simon quickly presented this newcomer as the fabled Rose Duelist.
Yami took a deep breath.
"You serve us well, Simon…"
End Notes: That last line there is direct from the game, thus, the end of the fic, since the rest of what goes on there is the game itself. Hope you enjoyed!