DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place after the final duel in the Egyptian Arc and is intended to 'bridge the gap' between the events of the series (canon) and the events in all of my fics (fanon). So this is the first story in the loose timeline that weaves through all my stories. I hope you all enjoy it!

A New Beginning
Chapter 1: The Hall of Black Marble

By Shadow's Mirror

He had failed.

All of his plans... for the defeat of the Pharaoh, for control of the world, for revenge against those who had killed his friends and family... They had all come crashing down around him.

He had lost.

Not only the duel against the Pharaoh, but everything that had mattered to him. His pride, his skill, his chance at vengeance... even the tiny sliver of his life that had remained. All had been lost.

Oddly, the one thing he had left was his mind. During the duel, his sanity had slipped from his already tenuous grasp. But when the last card had been played and the duel lost... in that moment his mind had cleared and he had seen, perhaps for the first time, just what his arrogance and scheming had cost him.

He had vanished from that world and awoken to find himself floating in a place he did not know. This was not the cold, dark void within the Shadow Realm, where Marik had once trapped most of his soul. Nor was it the echoing emptiness within the Ring that he had inhabited for over five thousand years. This was somewhere new and Bakura did not like it at all.

It was not cold, but he felt chilled and numb. It was not hot, but he felt flushed and feverish. There was no light. No smell. No taste. No sound. Not even the beating of his heart broke the dreadful silence.

A part of him knew that he would never hear that particular sound again.

He could not see his body, but he could feel it. He knew he was curled up in a foetal position, his knees drawn up to his chest with his arms wrapped around them, his head buried against them. He hated himself for assuming such a childish pose, but he could not bring himself to move from it. Although he gained no warmth from it and his body was too numb for him to even feel his own touch, still there was something comforting about the position. He hated himself more for craving that comfort.

How long had he been there? He wasn't sure. It seemed like hours. Days. Centuries. Moments. His concept of time was constantly changing.

Perhaps his mind was slipping away from him again.

Such a thought had never bothered him before, but it did now. He had lost so much, he didn't want to lose himself as well. He began to fight back against the feeling of hopelessness engulfing him. He forced himself to remember as much of his life as he could.

But the only image that came to him was a pair of sorrowful eyes the colour of melted chocolate.

Then his world was flooded with light and he felt himself falling.

- - -

Bakura blinked and gasped, completely thrown by the sudden change in his surroundings. One moment he'd been floating in nothing, now he was standing in a large chamber. The chill of the black marble tiles crept into his bare feet, but that was nothing against the chill that invaded his heart as he studied the room. It looked as if he was back in Ancient Egypt, in one of the tombs he had been so good at getting into. The walls were the same, sandstone carved with the symbols of his first language, but no tomb he had heard of had been built with black marble floors... or a ceiling of swirling shadows.

Something about the sight of that shadowy ceiling sent an icy shiver down his spine and he quickly looked down again. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a flutter of white cloth that made him take stock of himself for the first time. When he did so, he was greeted with a sight that was at once both familiar and different.

It was his body. Not the puny form he had been forced to endure for the years he had been within Ryou, but his own body with its muscles, strength and height. The body of Bakura, the King of Thieves. But what in the Shadows was he wearing?

Bakura plucked at the white robe and held it out from himself, studying it in bewilderment. It wasn't anything he had worn before. It was a simple white robe, like something a young priest might wear. Definitely not his idea of fashion and definitely not something he would have willingly dressed in.

Thoroughly confused by this new development, it took Bakura several moments more to realise that he was not alone in the room.

On the far side, a familiar figure sat on the floor, his back against the wall. He was dressed in the same sort of robe as Bakura and his head was bowed, but he was easily recognised.

Bakura snarled, his fury at the sight of that hated tri-coloured hair overcoming his reason as he stormed across the room.

"Pharaoh! What trick is this? Where have you brought me?"

He grabbed the boy by his collar and hoisted him up off the floor, determined to get the answers out of him, even if he had to shake them out! He glared at the boy he had known both as Yami and as the Pharaoh Atem. "Answer me, damn you! Where are we?"

Yami raised his head and Bakura froze, shocked speechless by the tortured look of pain and misery in the dark violet orbs now locked with his eyes.

For a moment, Yami did not speak. When he did, his voice was barely a whisper and strained with emotion. "Can you not tell? This is the antechamber of the Hall of Judgement. We are about to be judged by the god Osiris to see if we are worthy to enter the Afterlife... or instead be cast into eternal oblivion."

To be continued...