Pharaoh and the Thief
Author's Note: I wrote this at the request of fellow author Nikki7716. It's gotten pretty long and involved. This isn't exactly canon, but I tried to keep it close. Some of it I changed around a bit for the sake of the story. I'm almost finished with it, and I plan on updating once a week or more often if I get enough reviews. Which are much appreciated!
Atem wandered silently through his palace. It was warm and balmy out, and the breeze gently blew through the palace windows, rustling the hangings and wafting the scent of jasmine in from the gardens. Atem sighed as the breeze blew across his face, playing with strands of his hair.
The pharaoh had spent several long days in council with his advisors over the future of Egypt. They had finally wrapped up this morning and the pharaoh was feeling restless from being cooped up for so long. He longed to go and entertain himself in the village market and mix with the common people. Atem enjoyed going out into the city, where he was just another person lost in the crowded streets and not the pharaoh of Egypt. He found it relaxing to mingle with his subjects as one of them, but Akhenden didn't approve of Atem's jaunts in the city. He thought it was dangerous and disapproved of the ways of peasants.
Atem strolled into the garden. As he neared the palace walls, he could hear the chatter of merchants in the markets outside and he decided he didn't care if Akhenden would disapprove. He was the pharaoh after all. Slipping through one of the side gates and depositing a silver coin in the guard's hand for his silence, Atem wondered into the city, the hood of his cloak pulled over his head.
The thief Bakura slipped cautiously into the pharaoh's city, staying in the shadows. He was fairly sure his infamy had not spread as far as the capital yet, but he was taking no chances. His purpose here was personal, and he wasn't going to let a petty thing like getting arrested ruin his chance at the pharaoh. The pharaoh had stolen his life from him, and now he was going to destroy his.
Bakura ambled along empty alleyways and finally emerged into the crowded market. Brightly colored tents lined the streets and merchants were shouting their wares, trying to make themselves heard over the chaotic noise. The thief blended himself into the crowd, inspecting the gold jewelry hanging from a particularly extravagant tent. No, he thought to himself, that can wait for later. What he really needed was something to eat and a place to sleep. He'd been traveling almost nonstop for the last few days, eager to get to the city, and now he was feeling the effects.
The white haired thief made his way to the section of the market that was selling food. He slipped among a group of old travelers that were standing in front of a fruit seller's cart. While the man was occupied with the group of men bargaining over price, Bakura palmed several pieces of fruit and slipped them into his pocket. He had money of course, though not much on him, but as a personal rule, Bakura never paid for anything he could steal instead.
Bakura found a deserted alley and leaned against the dirty wall, taking a bite of his prize. He scowled at the fruit but swallowed anyway. It wasn't nearly ripe and tasted bitter.
Bakura sighed, but ate the rest of the fruit anyway, throwing the other two at the opposite wall of the alley and watching them burst as they made contact with the brick.
Bakura emerged back into the main streets again, mingling with the crowds. He had spotted an inn on the far side of the street and decided it was as good a place as any when something glittering in the sun caught his eye.
Bakura turned towards it and saw a golden scarab beetle amulet hanging from a heavy chain in a nearby merchant stall. A large deep green emerald was set in it, twinkling in the sun. Bakura glanced at the inn down the street and back at the golden scarab, debating.
His lips twisting into a dangerous smile, Bakura yanked the hood of his robe lower over his head and submerged himself amongst a group of chattering women. He passed the booth and then doubled back slyly, slipping out of sight of the merchant as he showed some tiny rubies set in a bracelet to the gaggle of women he had just departed from. He sidled up to the corner of the booth, his back to it and stood staring at the passerbys. Before there was even a chance to blink, the scarab amulet had disappeared from the stall and was securely tucked in the inside of Bakura's robe. He leaned back against the pole of the stall for a few more minutes, and then disappeared into the crowd.
As he was congratulating himself on a job well done, Bakura felt a strong hand close around his upper arm. He whipped around to face his assailant and was met with an obscenely muscled man in the palace guard uniform. Shit, Bakura thought, experimentally trying to wrench his arm out of the man's grip and only pulled a muscle in his shoulder for his trouble.
"I believe you have something that does not belong to you, thief," the man growled at him, spitting out the last word as if it was a disgusting curse.
"Nope," Bakura said, eyes innocent, "I haven't stolen anything, sir. I'd never think to do such a thing." The soldier glared at Bakura and felt around in his robes rather roughly, pulling out the amulet.
"Oh yeah," Bakura said, acting rather embarrassed, "There was that..."
The thief yanked him harshly forward. Bakura stumbled and allowed himself to fall to the ground, pulling the other man with him. As soon as Bakura hit the ground, he twisted his arm harshly and the soldier lost his grip. Bakura was only a flash of white locks in the crowd before the soldier even had a chance to recover.
Bakura sped through the crowd, dodging people and zigzagging through the mass of bodies swarming the street. He didn't even glance back to see if the burly guard was following him. He assumed by the commotion someone was.
How could I have been so stupid? He thought as he leapt between two priests walking in the middle of the street and sped past them and hooked a left down a side street and emerged on a smaller, but still crowded market street. His side soon started to ache, and after crossing into many different streets, Bakura finally stopped just inside an alleyway and caught his breathe. He leaned against the grimy wall of the building and pulled the amulet from inside his robe, grinning as it sparkled. He'd snatched it from the stupid guard at the same time he'd slipped away. He was the greatest thief in Egypt after all.
Bakura was tucking the sparkly beetle back into his robe and turning to leave the alley when he ran bodily into a figure turning into the alley.
"Oh, pardon me," said a deep surprised voice. "I didn't see you there."
"It's fine," Bakura muttered as he tried to shove past, but the irksome man stepped in his path. Bakura glared at him, finally looking him in the face. He wasn't a very tall man, slightly shorter than him, with spiky tri-colored hair that Bakura found amusing. The strange man's lavender eyes caught Bakura's, and he stared at him for a moment, mystified.
"What's your problem?" Bakura growled, shaking off the man's gaze.
"Nothing," the man responded idly. "That's a nice piece of jewelry you have there."
Bakura glared at the man, but to no apparent effect.
"You stole it didn't you. That's why they're making the fuss about in the Khnemu market, isn't it?" the man said in a manner that was more inquisitive than accusing.
"So what if I did?" Bakura spat. "Are you going to turn me in?"
The man ignored Bakura's questions, but looked at him thoughtfully. Bakura knew he should just shove past this man before he got himself into even more trouble, but he was curious as to how he would respond.
"I think you should return it," came the soft but authoritative reply.
Bakura gaped at the man, not able to hold back his astonishment. "Return it?" he asked. The other man nodded.
"Why?" Bakura asked before he could stop himself.
"Because the man who was selling it worked hard to make it, and its price could support his family for a month," he answered.
Bakura shrugged off the man's penetrating gaze and responded, "Well, it could support me for three months."
The shorter man simply looked at him. "I'm not returning it," Bakura snapped, shoving past him to return to the street, only to spot five guards scouring the area.
"Shit," Bakura said, retreating back into the alley. He pressed himself against the wall and calculated his options. The other man was still leaning against the opposite wall, watching him as if he had all the time in the world.
"I can help you, if you'd like," he said. Bakura glared at him. He didn't need this puny man's help to escape an alley of all places. He snuck a quick glance at the guards in the crowded streets and noticed three were getting very close to the mouth of the alley. He was tired and hungry and did not want to waste anymore time outrunning the giant oafs that protected the bloody pharaoh. Bakura growled low in his throat and turned to the stranger.
"What's the catch?" he asked.
"What makes you think there is a catch?" the man asked.
"There's always a catch," Bakura responded. The man smiled at him.
"I want you to return the necklace," he said simply. Bakura sneered, but another glance into the street showed the guards were almost upon them.
"Fine," Bakura growled.
"Back there," the man said quickly, "in the shadows, behind that rubbish." He motioned to the back of the alley which was cast in shadow by an over hanging of the building. Some crates were tossed in the corner, giving some sort of coverage.
Bakura whipped around at the man. "This is your idea?" he demanded skeptically.
"Just trust me," he responded. Bakura didn't have much of a choice as he saw one of the guards heading towards the alley. He darted to the shadows and dropped behind the crates, pulling himself tight into the corner and cursing the stranger to all manner of horrible ends. If he had deceived him and those guards merely came over to find the great Bakura hunched in a corner behind a rubbish pile... He didn't think he could stand the embarrassment.
He heard two guards enter the alley. The stranger spoke to them in a lowered voice. Bakura couldn't hear what they were saying, but soon he heard retreating footsteps, and the man was standing over him once more. "They're gone," he said.
"What'd you say to them?" Bakura asked in disbelief.
"Nothing really. Just told them I was here alone."
Bakura regarded him suspiciously, then decided he didn't care what had made the guards leave and didn't want to spend another second in this dank alleyway with him. He quickly got to his feet, nodding curtly in the shorter man's direction, and snuck out of the alley to blend back into the crowd once more.
Atem watched the man go, shaking his head slightly, wondering if he really would return the artifact. He sighed and decided he should probably head back to the palace before Akhenden came looking for him, as the sun was beginning to sink behind the walls of the city.
Bakura had absolutely no intention of returning the necklace, but nevertheless, he found himself back in the Khnemu market. He thought of trying to get a room at that inn he'd seen before as he walked past the stall he had stolen from. The man there looked rather pathetic, Bakura noticed. No, he thought viciously, I'm not going to start pitying the old fool. At that thought, three tiny dirty brats followed by a raggedy woman ran past Bakura, towards the stall. The smallest and dirtiest of the children jumped into the man's arms squealing, "Daddy!"
This is ridiculous, Bakura thought. Damn fool probably stole it himself in the first place. He glanced at the inn, then glanced once more at the impoverished family with distaste. With a sigh, Bakura turned back towards the family, preparing to slip the amulet amongst the other wares, thoroughly disgusted with himself, when a gruff voice shouted.
"Thief, you are under arrest in the name of the pharaoh!"
Bakura whipped around and before he had a chance to face his attackers, something heavy and solid connected with the back of his skull and everything blurred and went dark.