Yu-Gi-Oh! (and Capsule Monsters) and all its characters, are the legal and intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi and any entities he has granted legal rights to. I claim no rights at all with my story. I greatly admire Mr. Takahashi for the amazing story and characters of Yu-Gi-Oh!

Reshaped

Awareness floods me, bringing me from my resting state to full consciousness with a single flash of light. In this existence I now possess, I have become used to it. As usual, I send my senses out to determine what I can before being called into play. Strange, I have sight, but not the sight I am used to, that of my beloved pharaoh, or his Chosen One. I push that concern to the side while my Dark Magic sense founders against the boundary of Shadow. By that, I know I need to be most careful. We are in a Shadow Game. If my senses do not lie, it is the largest, most massive Shadow Game ever. The power to create such a large playing field of Shadow... I shudder. I might have been able to create one so large when I wielded the Millennium Ring, if I had unleashed its full, evil power.

I sense familiar presences – familiar monsters and familiar duelists. Yugi's grandfather and friends battle the Shadows outside. Why is my pharaoh or his Chosen One not battling alongside them?

I sense your nearness before I can see you, my pharaoh. Odd, normally I am held between your capable hands, along with the cards of other duel monsters, facing you unnoticed until the time is right for you to play my card, or, waiting patiently in your deck for a ritual to permit you to place my card directly on the field of play. But this time, it is different, and strange. I am here, before you, but further away than the reach of your hand; and somehow contained, waiting, waiting for the touch of that very hand to release me.

I can see you now. Oh, no! The walls close in upon you, and you don't even know I am here! How can I help? How can I save you from such danger when you don't even recognize that I am here... and I'm trapped somehow, waiting to be released.

Ah, Kuriboh, you are near, aren't you? I can sense your presence near my pharaoh. As with all the monsters of Yugi's deck, you sense me, don't you? Please, I beg you, let him know I am here! I can save him, if only he knows I am here.

He, he fires you from that device on his arm? You were contained in a cylinder instead of bound to a card? Interesting. Ah, Kuriboh, I would pet you if I could! You are trying to draw his attention here, just as I asked.

Look, pharaoh. Look and see me! Don't you know I am here? Don't you recognize me? The walls are closing so fast – I can not bear to see you crushed and do nothing to save you...

Yugi spies me. Oh, what a relief! Surely, my pharaoh, you know I am here now. Just, touch me, release me, and I can save you. Oh, so close! You are so close! Just a few inches more. I, I can't move. I can't give you the inches you need to release me, but I must be touched before I am free to act. Please, somehow, you must touch me...

Kuriboh! It is to laugh! You – you didn't! You must have rammed into the pharaoh from behind, pushing him with enough force so that he had those few inches he needed, and more.

Oh, my pharaoh, I feel your touch, your palm flat upon my prison, breaking it, releasing me, releasing my overwhelming, pent up desire to save you. Away. We must get away from this dangerous place. A moment of respite, of sanctuary to see where we are, and what is going on. Yes, you need an overview of the situation. I can sense the desperation of your friends outside. You would be crushed if anything were to happen to them.

Wonder of wonders! As my form solidifies I cradle you in my arm. I, I can touch you, my pharaoh, I am permitted, not simply to fight for you, but to keep you safe. I am worried that we are within a massive Shadow Game, but, bless the one who crafted it, that I can hold you – that I am permitted to fight alongside you, and protect you directly. I understand. The danger you face is far more immediate than usual. You are down here, so to speak, within the game, within the realm of the monsters. But, we are here, too, your monsters fighting for you. No attack will touch you as long as I am here!

The setting sun draws my attention. Along with the ability to touch you comes an ability to sense the worries troubling your mind. The sunset brings the end. The end of what? Ah, the end of the challenge you must win in order to break free from this place. But...

The Chosen One has noticed your friends. They are in trouble as the evil Shadow monsters gain the upper hand against their duel monsters protecting them. Oh, remember what I can do, I beg you. That is the only way you can help them, and yet beat the setting sun to win this contest!

Are you able to sense my thoughts, my pharaoh, as it seems I am able to dimly sense yours? Both you and Yugi call forth the attack that can help your friends. Magical Crossroads takes care of the monsters harrying them. I bring Yugi back to the temple just in time for him to beat the sunset and complete his task. Why does the armor he earns seem to shine with destiny?

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I can sense it. This storm you face is not born of natural means and neither are the Medusa Worms that weave devious paths under the sand. There is an evil presence here... The voice is carried on the wind, but there is a solid monster – somewhere – uttering it. The sand whips by with even greater ferocity as the voice starts to taunt you directly, my pharaoh. Disoriented by the whirling storm, your friends and allies mistakenly attack each other before falling prey to the worms. More worms crawl beneath the shifting sands trying to catch you in a sneak attack. There! One has targeted you from your blind side and now hovers above you. I will not allow this to happen!

Safe in my arms, I carry you up – above your friends, above the sand, above the clouds and tempest of the storm. You look down and I sense a sort of weariness take hold in you as you see the immensity of the task before you. But, my pharaoh, the task does not need to be so overwhelmingly large. The evil I sensed dimly below is easier to sense up here in the quiet air. It comes from...

"Behold, the source of the storm."

You look directly ahead at my words and see what I spotted. A whirling channel of wind hovers in place not far from us at all. "It's a tornado!"

You discuss with your Chosen One, deciding upon your course of action.

"You're right. Dark Magician, let's go."

I'm not happy with the command, even as I hasten to obey. I know you want me to take you back down. 'Down' is where the blinding sand and attacking worms are. Would it not be better to fly closer to the tornado that is the source of it all up here where it is safer?

Your friends. I know you will always put the safety of your friends above your own. I know we must return to them. This is only one of the qualities that made you such a righteous and beloved pharaoh in the past – your loyalty to your friends and even those who served you.

Things are bad. There is not much time left as your friends and their duel monsters slowly turn to stone from the vile secretions of the sand worms that hit them. Why, my pharaoh, do you command me to return to my capsule, seeking my safety instead of your own?! I cannot disobey though I would do anything to remain by your side. Dammit!

Still, you surprise me, my pharaoh. Even without defenses, you weave a safe path through the dangers and forge unerringly ahead toward the storm's source. It is only a little way further...

No! You fall and your consciousness dims...

A power approaches you, but it is not the evil one creating the storm. A man wearing a mask takes shape before you and offers advice. But, here in this strange game, can this advice be trusted?

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What did that masked man say? My pharaoh and I must become one? For who else aside from me would be your 'most trusted creature'? Someday I hope to be able to talk, simply talk, face-to-face with you and discuss our memories of all these strange things that have happened to us. So many times you've reached out to me, depending upon me as in days of old, though I appear as just a duel monster to you, now – can it be you really do not remember me? Why then, do you rely on me so much?

Time for such reminiscing later. You've summoned me back to your side again. Oh, taking the advice of that man, you are activating the mystic armor your other self had been gifted with. What a drain on your spirit that thing is! I can sense it even as the power reaches out and coaxes me toward you. I can lessen the drain on you a little, as I'm not at all reluctant to help you in whatever way I can, no matter how strange it is.

I feel – I feel as if I'm dissolving, yet still... Ah. The armor you wear gathers me into itself. What am I supposed to do? How do I help you in this incorporeal way?

Suddenly, I have form again, but such a strange one. Unlike when you plays effects and magic cards on me, boosting my abilities within the game of Duel Monsters, I'm not still myself, or rather, the Dark Magician (since you appear to have forgotten about Mahaad), or even human in form. Still, I am somehow, me – whatever manner of creature I'm being turned into. What does this armor want me to do? For I can tell it is this strange, mystic armor that is doing this...

Oh. I've become... Somehow I've become armor for you, my pharaoh! As each piece takes shape around you, I'm able to give you more and more of my power. Wrapping around you from behind, I give you flight with wings of purple armor. Increasing your defense and speed is easy with purple boots and greaves. I'll keep your heart safe, along with your Millennium Puzzle, wrapping both in a purple-plated embrace. Gauntlets and gloves grant you full use of my staff of Dark Magic, and all the power it contains. Dare I? I'd not obscure that distinctive hair with a full helmet, but how can I protect your head? Ah, a simple diadem, showing that though you might be merged with me, you are still a king! I'll set my devotion and recognition of your kingship upon your brow with a simple, regal crown, unlocking the full use of my power and ability within your mind.

Strange, but not unpleasant. I have no objection to helping you, my pharaoh, in this way. Indeed, embracing you such, and granting you full and willing use of my abilities... I have no objections at all!

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You've called me a few times, now, using the mystic power of your duel armor to reshape me so that I can protect you and help you become the Dark Warrior – allowing us to strive together as one against the creature of shadows in your second test; and then again to save your friend, possessed by the chaos-controlled Red-Eyes Black Dragon armor of the third test. This fight is no different. I've barely begun to form after being released from my capsule before you roar out the command, activating your duel armor and triggering the mystic effect. We fight against a Great Moth. Our Dark Magic attack is balanced with the two dragons commanded by your friends. The creature should fall. It doesn't? No! We fall, instead. I cushion the blow against the wall and the ground as best I can, but some of the hurt of it passes through me and injures you!

That was the strongest attack we can muster. There are no stronger monsters we can call. You confer with your Chosen One and...

How bright your thoughts are and how quick your intellect! That must be the answer, my pharaoh. It takes but a moment for you to wing us up to the pillar upon which rests a glowing, golden apple. One bite and the energy floods us. I am powerless against the force of Dark Evolution as it rips me away from you. Filling me with the combined energies of light and shadow, I evolve, becoming the Magician of Black Chaos. Do not remain so vulnerable, my pharaoh, I beg you! The moth circles again and you are so open to attack on top of that pillar!

Again through the magic of your duel armor, I am permitted to protect you directly, becoming your shield and your attack strength within this strange Shadow Game. I suppose now, as you have evolved me into the Magician of Black Chaos, we become the Chaos Warrior. The bond between us is so strong, how can you not realize that it is me, my pharaoh? Can not the strength of my heart break through time's block on your memories?

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You stand ready to fight against a dragon, even as all of your friends do the same, striving to protect a village from the monsters that have preyed upon it for so long. Ah, the capsule you discover here in the lava fields releases Black Luster Soldier, another powerful friend to help you in this Shadow Game. The battle is curiously easy as the dragon falls into the lava below from a single slash. Wait! It rises again, completely undamaged from the Luster Soldier's attack! It takes to the air, heading toward the town you have vowed to save. Black Luster Soldier grabs hold of its tail, thinking to slow it down for you to catch up. I'm pleased the duel armor grants you flight with my power, my pharaoh, as you dash forward to save the Soldier when the dragon dislodges him and sends him plummeting toward the ground. You honor us all with how concerned you are for each one of us.

Not only does our battle go poorly, but all of your friends are struggling to defeat their dragons as well. Your thoughts turn toward the Sword of Divinity again, thinking that it must somehow hold the key. We lead the dragons toward the very village we are trying to save from them. You warn the villagers to leave as you banish me back to my capsule and merge with the Black Luster Soldier donning his armor and skills even as you have already donned mine so many times. I see. A warrior can free the sword if the conditions are right – a magician has no use for a sword, not to mention little skill. I might understand the reason I am relegated to the sidelines, but that does not mean I'm happy about it.

As the battle continues and the five dragons merge into one fearsome beast, I itch to help in some way, but my Shadow alignment would render my attacks useless. Instead of helping you I would be a hindrance. There must be a way... There has to be a way to defeat this colossus!

Five energy attacks lance toward you! No! There is no one more able than you to vie against this monster, but there is no way even you will survive this powerful attack. Dammit! This – this can't be happening!

Blue-Eyes White Dragon – I can tell it is he deflecting that five-pronged attack and saving you. Never have I been so relieved to see my fellow duel monster, or to grudgingly admit his power. How odd is it that the monster who so often is my most tenacious enemy is now the only one who can help you? Even I must admit the White Dragon armor the Blue-Eyes becomes under the mystic power of your duel armor is most impressive. My pharaoh, surely you are a king that one such as the proud Blue-Eyes, worshiped here as a god, would deign to merge with you and serve you! Invested with Blue-Eyes White Dragon's might, attacking with his White Lightning Blast, the five-headed dragon beast finally falls. The cheers of the villagers mingle with those of your friends. I, too, cheer for you my pharaoh, though you cannot hear it.

I cannot help but feel sad. You have conquered the last challenge, cleared the last level, and now the path back to the world outside this Shadow Game lies open to you once more. Of course I will serve you as eagerly as ever before, even though I am once again relegated to a card-summoned monster manifesting on game boards where the grace of being able to protect you directly is denied to me, but I will miss the honor of fighting by your side, or through the magic of your duel armor, directly giving you my power to use as your own.

But, wait. Even though you leave the world of the Capsule Monsters, you have not yet left the Shadow Game. The pyramid itself hosts a Shadow Game. I cannot help but feel sympathy for the one you fight as I can tell he succumbed to the soul-splitting power of the Millennium Ring. All the darkness in his heart is set free, overwhelming him. And so, he pits himself against you, to claim the power Shadi must have set aside and guarded so many millennia for you, my pharaoh.

The final showdown begins. You summon three of us, Celtic Guardian, Black Luster Soldier and myself to fight for your side. Ever the pharaoh, you are not content to sit back and have us fight for you. You merge with Black Luster Soldier, claiming his protection and battle skills to fight alongside us. Can I admit to feeling regret that you did not select me, my pharaoh? Yet, by merging with Luster, you have left me free to act on my own. I shall trust your judgement.

The battle is vicious, taking its toll on both sides. It is clear that Alexander's heart has been claimed by the evil in his soul as he attacks and abuses his own vassals. As often as not your wishes are not verbal but impulses of intent that Celtic Guardian and I follow as clearly as if they had been ordered aloud. In this way, following your lead and doing as you intend, we hope to protect you in this most deadly Shadow Game of all. Still, I watch closely in case something you did not anticipate threatens.

Your plan works brilliantly, first destroying the seven-armed fiend facing us, then getting us close enough to Alexander's Reshef the Dark Being to land three powerful attacks. Clearly shaken, but not defeated, Alexander reveals the massive firepower of his ultimate capsule monster. I swoop down as fast as I can as I realize how many of his laser attacks are aimed your way. If not for the fact that dodging that barrage takes all my concentration, I would laugh at the low-voiced, rueful apology you gift me with.

"Sorry. Slight miscalculation on my part."

We watch in horror as Alexander abuses his followers in a wantonly selfish way you would never condone, powering up his fearsome monster with their very life-force. You call him to task for this abuse and earn Alexander's disdain and malevolent attention. You fall to the pummel attack of one of his 'hands' before all of your friends and allies are struck from the sky as well. Alexander taunts you while he charges his most powerful attack, promising to aim it, not at you, but at your defenseless friends.

It tears at me to follow your order and leave you, but I do. I place myself between Yugi's Grandfather, whom you have developed a deep respect and an even deeper concern for, and the promised mayhem of Alexander's attack. I may be forced to leave your side for good, as so many of your friends' duel monsters already have when defeated in this Shadow Game, but I vow to you, my pharaoh, none of Alexander's attack will get past me to harm Grandpa.

No! Pharaoh, do not leave yourself to vulnerable! You have divested yourself of Black Luster's power and protection, sending him to stand guard over Téa. I understand your need to protect all your friends, but you have left yourself wide open to the attack instead! Bless Kuriboh for not leaving your side, but though the little one has a huge heart, he has not the power to back it up. Kuriboh won't even slow that attack down...

What's this? All of your friends – not a word is uttered, yet each of their dragons rises and rushes forward to protect you – even as you delegated each of us to protect your friends. But, these marvelous dragons do not heedlessly throw their lives away seeking to interpose themselves between you and the massive attack, instead they filter through your duel armor even as I have so many times to protect you directly.

Again, I regret that I am not powerful enough to have helped you myself, but, my pharaoh, so brilliant is your greatness that every duel monster here fighting on your side, knows it, recognizes it, and bows down in service before it.

Unified with your friends' dragons, acting with a single will, you, yourself become the attack taking mad Alexander down for good. I feel the evil presence evoked from within him by the power of the Millennium Ring ease and dissipate. The trial is over. This Shadow Game is likewise over.

There is no time for a good-bye as the massive Shadow Game ends. My pharaoh – my king – my will is ever to do your will. Someday I hope to be able to tell you so, and let you know that I have always been here, at your side. As my consciousness fades toward the familiar sleep I endure as an inactive duel monster, the honor of serving as your capsule monster – being permitted to protect you and give you my power directly in this Shadow Game – becomes a cherished treasure of my heart.

- end -

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Author's notes -

Reviews, comments and constructive criticisms are always welcome! Please feel free to email me also if you see something awkward that needs to be clarified or fixed. I need all the help I can get.