Me: Grrrr. First I don't get on the computer for a while 'cause I'm busy, then when I finally do get on, I get freakin' writer's block! Argh! (bangs head repeatedly on desk)
Crystal: Hey! Don't do that! If you get a concussion, you won't finish the story! Then we'll have a bunch of angry readers after us!
Me: (Stops) Oh fine.
Disclaimer-So far my evil plan to get Kazuki Takahashi to give me ownership of Yu-Gi-Oh hasn't worked, so until it does I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh.
He turned to Yami and Bakura. "Who're your friends?"
Malik froze, frantically thinking of how to get out of this one. Unfortunately, Seth was one step ahead of him.
"Guards! Restrain and unmask them!" He barked.
About seven Imperial Guards immediately surrounded the trio, blocking any escape routes. The one that was right behind Yami and Bakura tugged at their hoods, revealing their identities.
"It's the King of Thieves!"
"I thought he was locked up?!"
"RUUUUUNNNNNNNN!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!"
"Shut up!" Seth snapped at the screaming minor priests, who had apparently come with the guards. Turning back to Bakura, Seth asked, "How did you-" he caught sight of Yami wearing the same robe as the servant girl sent to give Bakura his 'dinner'. "Ah, I see. So, is this the King of Games? He's younger than I expected." Before anyone could stop him, he reached out and grabbed Yami's chin, to examine his face. "So," he turned back to Bakura who was seething, "I guess it is true." Bakura knew he was talking about what Seth asked him in the dungeon. (A/N see chapter three)
When Yami finally managed to tug free, Bakura subtly tried to stand a little in front of him, like a human shield.
While Seth and Bakura glared at each other, Malik was busy studying Yami's odd behavior. As far as Malik could tell, Yami hadn't taken his eyes off the Millennium Puzzle except when forced. Sure, he was a thief and it was solid gold, but Yami was acting like he was being possessed. It kind of reminded Malik of...Malik. When he looked at the Millennium Rod, it was like there was a little voice inside his head, urging him to just snatch it away, and face the consequences later.
But that still didn't explain why Yami wouldn't stop gawking at the Puzzle. The Millennium Puzzle only belonged to the rightful Pharaoh.
Wait a minute. The rightful Pharaoh?
At that moment, something clicked in Malik's mind, and, suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle (no pun intended) fit together.
He stared at Yami.
Out of the corner of his eye, Bakura saw Malik's own eyes widening in realization. He wondered what Malik had discovered, but couldn't risk asking him with all the witnesses around. That, and the fact that he'd lose the glaring contest he and Seth were having. However, they both had to stop and look when Malik said something to the Pharaoh.
"That's not your Puzzle." Malik stated matter-of-factly. Akhenaden's eyes, er, eye narrowed.
"What?" He snapped.
"That's not your Puzzle." Malik repeated. "Come to think of it, the fact that you have royal blood in your veins is probably the only reason that, when you put on the Puzzle, the Shadows didn't eat you alive."
"Nonsense," Akhenaden protested. "The Puzzle belongs to the Pharaoh-"
"Which isn't you, is it?" Malik interrupted. "The only way the Puzzle would properly accept you is if it deemed you worthy, which it obviously hasn't. Even now, your soul is being devoured by the Darkness. Even I can see that. There are a few possible reasons as to why this may be. Perhaps the true heir is still out there, and the Puzzle will accept no other, even another member of the royal family. Or maybe the prince is dead, but you've proven unworthy to be Pharaoh." Malik let that sink in before grinning. Time to plant a few seeds of doubt in the other priests. "Or maybe," he continued. "It's a little of both. Perhaps the prince is still alive, and you've done something so horrible that you cannot be Pharaoh." Malik paused for effect, before finally saying, "Tell me, Pharaoh, how did the prince disappear?"
Akhenaden scowled. "Are you implying I murdered my own nephew?"
Malik glared right back. "I'm implying that you arranged for him to mysteriously go missing. After all, with him out of the way, you'd be next in line for the throne-"
"Silence!" Akhenaden barked. "I've heard enough lies. Guards, take them to the Dungeon! Now!"
Bakura was angry. Again. There they were, just about to be home free, when that idiot priest, Seth, went and ruined everything! Bakura's inward cursing was interrupted when Malik opened his mouth.
"Four years," he said to Yami. "You've been with us for four years, and you couldn't find one moment to tell us the truth?"
Bakura looked up curiously, wondering what on Earth was going on.
"Oh," Yami shifted guiltily. "You figured it out, huh?"
Malik glared. "Yes, how could you keep something like that from us?"
Okay, now Bakura was getting annoyed. What the hell were they talking about?
"Oh get real, Malik." Yami glared at his friend. "You know if I'd told you, you'd have killed me without a second thought."
Bakura could feel a headache coming on.
"Yeah, back when we didn't know you!" Malik retorted. "But after we all became friends, and in your and Bakura's case more, why didn't you tell us then?"
Yami hesitated, before quietly saying, "I thought...that maybe...if you knew I'd been lying to you all that time...you'd kick me out."
"Then you're an idiot." Bakura said. He still wasn't quite sure what was going on, but decided to go with it anyway.
"Bakura's right." Malik said. "If you thought we'd abandon you, just because of that, you don't know us as well as we thought."
Yami looked down, ashamed. "I'm sorry...Are you-are you angry?"
Malik sighed. "Yes, but not at you. I'm actually madder at myself. I'm the best spy around these parts, and I couldn't even figure it out 'till now. And the fact that I've had my spies looking for the prince for years, and he turns out to have been right under my nose the whole time!"
Bakura blinked. 'What?'
Yami grinned sheepishly. "You did? I didn't know that. I would have told you otherwise." He blinked. "Wait. Why did you have people looking for me anyway?"
Malik shrugged. "Well, Akhenaden turned out to be the worst Pharaoh ever, so we decided to try and find the real Pharaoh to replace him."
"But you didn't know if the prince would be a good Pharaoh either."
"True, but anything was better than Akhenaden. Plus I had some inside sources that said the Crown Prince had the potential to be one of the Greatest Kings in history." Malik grinned. "And now I know they were right."
"Wait a minute." Bakura interrupted. "Let me get this straight," he turned to Yami. "You're the Prince of Egypt?"
Yami looked down guiltily. "Yes."
Malik rolled his eyes. "Geez, Bakura. Took you long enough."
Ignoring Malik, Bakura got up, and walked over to Yami. Yami flinched, thinking Bakura was going to hit him. Crimson eyes widened in surprise when Bakura instead embraced him. That did it. Yami broke down, and cried.
"I-I'm so s-sorry, Bakura," he sobbed, clutching the front of the thief's red cloak. "I...I was going to t-tell you, b-but I was afraid. I'm sorry. S-so sorry."
Bakura gently stroked his tri-colored hair. "It's alright. I understand. What with me always going on about how I'd get revenge on the royal family and all, I'd be reluctant to admit it too." Once Yami's shaking subsided, Bakura gently pulled away. He placed a finger under Yami's chin, and forced him to look up at him. "Who did it?"
When Yami simply looked at him confused, Bakura elaborated. "Who sold you into slavery?"
A scowl marred the Prince's beautiful face. "Akhenaden," he spat.
Bakura nodded. "I thought so. Looks like we've got a job to do."
Yami looked confused again. "What?"
"We've got to get you your Crown back." Bakura said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Puzzle." Malik cut in. Bakura looked over at him, annoyed.
"What?" He snapped.
"Not Crown, Puzzle," he repeated. "The Pharaoh gets the Millennium Puzzle."
Bakura's eyes narrowed. "And you know this how?"
Now it was Malik's turn to look guilty. "Uhhh. Well, it's kind of a long story."
Bakura raised an eyebrow. "Well, it doesn't look like we're going anywhere soon."
"How do you know Isis?" Yami suddenly asked.
Malik's head snapped to him. "What?"
"How do you know Priestess Isis?" Yami said again. "She seemed to know you." His eyes widened. "Wait. I remember Isis telling me, a long time ago, about her little brother running away. Maliku, I believe it was."
Bakura snickered. "Your name is Maliku? And I thought Maaliki was bad."
Malik glared. "Oh shut up, Akefia!"
"Don't call me that!"
"Well, don't call me Maliku!"
They both turned away from each other and glared in opposite directions. Yami sweatdropped.
Sighing, Yami walked over to the bars, looking out into the room where the guards patrolled.
"Yami? That you?"
Yami looked at the guard in surprise.
Jono grinned. "That's me. Man, Yami, I haven't seen you in years, and suddenly you turn up here! Not exactly the kind of reunion I had in mind, but..."
Bakura and Malik came over to see what the fuss was about.
"Yami?" Bakura said. "Who's this?"
Yami grinned. "This is Jono. He's one of my friends from the City. But I haven't seen him since I came to live with you guys." He turned back to Jono. "How're the others? Maia? Teanna?"
"They're fine. Teanna's one of the best dancers in the City, and Maia and I are expecting our second child."
"That's great! Hey, Jono? Where are all the other guards?
Jono shrugged. "This is such a high security dungeon, there's usually only one guard on duty. My shift just started, and there won't be another guard down here for a few hours."
Yami grinned. "Think you can help us?"
Jono frowned. "Help you? How?"
"Uh, let us out?" Yami deadpanned. Yup, Jono hadn't changed a bit.
The blonde shook his head. "Sorry, Yami. I would if I could, but I'd get fired, or worse. I've got a wife and kids to think about."
Yami sighed again. "I understand."
"Of course," Jono grinned. "They couldn't blame me if the oh-so-cunning King of Games lured me over here, knocked me out, and took my keys."
Yami perked up. Maybe Jono had changed a bit after all. "Hey, Jono?"
"Huh? For wha-"
Yami crouched down and slipped his arms through the bars. Rummaging in Jono's pockets, he pulled out a ring of keys. He carefully pulled them back into the cell, and sorted through them.
The other two watched him muttering, "That's not it...no...that's not it either...that's definitely not it...aha! Found it!" He held up the key, triumphantly. He then slid it into the keyhole on the other side, and gave it a twist.
Yami smirked. "We are out of here."
Mahaado looked up. "Yes, Mana? What is it?"
Mana hesitated. "Um, well, it's about the arrest you made earlier. The one with the Trio of Kings?"
"The one you shouldn't have seen, because you were supposed to be studying?" Mahaado said.
Mana flushed. "Yeah, that one. Didn't the King of Games look an awfully lot like Atemu? Except the hair of course."
The Priest didn't reply right away. The truth was, Mana had voiced his exact thoughts. But it couldn't have been. Atemu would have said something. He would have given some sign that it was him. Wouldn't he?
The teacher and student stood together, both absorbed in their own thoughts.
They both looked up to see a servant boy standing in the doorway.
Bowing, he said, "The Pharaoh requests all High Priests in the Throne Room."
Mahaado nodded, and turned to his apprentice. "Come Mana. You may join us."
Mana's face lit up. "Thank you, Master!"
Together, they walked (or in Mana's case, skipped) to the Throne Room.
Thanking whatever gods were out there that they still had their cloaks, the Trio of Kings walked casually through the palace.
Looking around, Yami remarked, "Where is everybody? The only time I remember the Palace being this empty is-"
"Choosing Day!" Malik exclaimed, horrified. "I forgot!"
"Choosing Day?" Bakura repeated, bewildered. "What in the name of Ra is that?"
"Choosing Day is when the Millennium Items select their new Holders," Yami explained. "They choose from a selection of priests-"
"Who wear ceremonial robes?" Bakura interrupted.
"Yeah, how'd you-" he looked down at their 'disguises'. "Oh."
It was official. Fate hated them.
Turning around, they faced who appeared to be a high-ranking priest, though not as high as the High Priests.
Malik recognized him. He inwardly cursed.
"Shouldn't you three be in the Throne Room?" The priest snapped.
Luckily, Yami had a good excuse for him. "Our deepest apologies, Master(1)," he said smoothly. "We haven't been to the Palace before, and got lost."
"Hmph," the priest scowled. "Well, I suppose I can show you the way, but don't wander off."
"But first," he looked at them suspiciously. "What are your names?"
"I'm Mariku," Malik said quickly. "These are Akefia, and...Yuugi."
"Very well, follow me." The priest spun on his heel, and headed down the hall. "You know," he said idly. "I once had a student with a name similar to yours. Maliku was his name. He was one of the worst apprentices you could have. Always daydreaming, and never studying. I remember one time-"
As Baruti continued to talk about the 'inappropriate' things he'd caught Malik doing, Yami and Bakura were laughing behind his back.
"By the way," Yami said quietly to a flushed Malik. "Yuugi? Where did you get that?"
Malik shrugged. "It was the first thing that came to my mind. It's well known that Yami is the name of the King of Games, and I couldn't call you by your real name."
"Yes, but Yuugi?"
"Shut up. Maybe that was your name in another life, or something." (A/N Ohhh. Malik's psychic!...or maybe just psychotic.)
"Here we are," Priest Baruti stopped in front of two enormous doors. "Now get in, and get in line."
Exchanging glances, the three obeyed, walking over to the long line of priest hopefuls.
"And now," Siamun announced. "Let the choosing begi-!"
"What's happening?!" Everyone looked over at the High Priests, and stared wide-eyed. Three of the Items were glowing; the Ring, the Rod, and...the Puzzle.
"How is this possible?" Akhenaden demanded. "An Item only glows if it's not in possession of its rightful Holder on Choosing Day. Why is the Puzzle glowing? I am its rightful owner!"
"Obviously," someone interrupted. "You're not."
Akhenaden's eyes narrowed. "What did you say to me?"
"You're not the Puzzle's rightful owner," the person said.
Seth, deciding to shut this imbecile up for good, stalked over to the priest in question.
"Really," he sneered. "Then who is?"
Yami raised his head, as he had kept it down until now to hide his face. "Me," he replied, before reaching out, and grabbing the Rod. There was a flash of light, and a shriek, before the light dimmed to reveal Yami holding the Item, and Seth cradling his burnt hand, glaring murderously at him.
The Eye of Ra glowed brightly on Yami's forehead.
Ignoring his cousin, Yami spun around and tossed the Millennium Rod into the air. "Malik, catch!"
Malik, out of instinct, reached up, and snatched the golden artifact out of the air. There was another blinding flash of light, before it too faded to show Malik still holding the Rod, looking dazed, but not harmed.
Yami smirked before walking over to Mahaado. Everyone else was too shocked to even try to stop him.
He held out his hand. "May I?"
Mahaado eyed him warily for a moment before smiling. "Of course," he replied, and handed his friend the Ring.
Seth gaped. "Mahaado, wha-"
Yami concentrated on the Item, and one of the needles slowly rose and pointed at Its true Holder.
Yami grinned. 'I knew it.'
"Bakura," he called. "Come here, and get your new Millennium Item."
Bakura's eyes widened. He came over, but didn't take the offered object. "I don't know, Yami." He said, eyeing it warily. "I've spent almost my whole life trying to destroy these things, and your telling me to keep one?"
Bakura hesitated, but nodded reluctantly. "Alright, but you owe me."
Yami placed the rope around Bakura's neck, and there was yet another flash of light, before Bakura could be seen with the Ring hanging around his neck. Yami and Bakura smiled at each other. Perhaps things would be alright.
"Wait a minute!"
"The King of Thieves as a High Priest," Akhenaden exclaimed. "Preposterous! As Pharaoh, I will not allow it!"
"Funny," Malik remarked. "From what I can gather from that Puzzle hanging around your neck, you're not the rightful Pharaoh." he smirked. "Tell me, Akhenaden, what happened to your nephew? What happened to High Prince Atemu?"
Akhenaden flushed as everyone turned to stare at him. "How should I know what happened to the brat?"
"Because you sold him," Yami's eyes burned with hatred. "Didn't you? You sold him into slavery. After all, he was a pampered Prince, who'd never stepped out of the Palace before. How could he survive? He wouldn't. It would be a fate worse than death for him. That was what you thought, wasn't it?"
Akhenaden stared at him in horror. "What-who are you?"
Yami smirked and pulled off his wig, shaking out his tri-colored hair. He grinned at the 'King' malevolently.
(1) All low-ranking priests are expected to call any higher ranking individuals "Master".
Me: Well, that's all for now. Mwa ha ha ha! Another cliffie!
Crystal: Hey! I have an announcement! It's my parents' 37th anniversary today! Let's celebrate!
Me: Ano...sure. (turns to readers) Review, kudasai!