Hello, dear readers! After a much longer wait than the last one, here's the latest installment! I'm so sorry for making you all wait this long! I've been playing Lolo and Lolo3 very often. For those who have no clue, Lolo is an awesome puzzle/strategic game for the original Nintendo system (aka NES). I was able to find the full versions of the game, as well as the original Super Mario Bros and I've been addicted to those for a while now. Classic games rock! On another front, it turns out I'm moving again (sigh) so with cleaning up to prepare for prospective buyers trampling through the house, trying to enjoy my summer break and then having to go back to college at the end of the summer, fanfic procrastination's been happening a bit too long!! I'm back now and I plan to update like no tomorrow! – Hopefully…
I'm finishing this at 1 am. I'm certain at least one thing in here doesn't make much sense, so if you get confused, feel free to leave it in a review or PM me. I'll respond either way. Enjoy.
/Blah/ is spirit to host.
/Blah/ is host to spirit
I don't own YGO. By now, you should know who does and it's not me. I do own all of the original characters mentioned previously in the last disclaimer and who may appear in this one.
"Wouldn't it be much easier to have these lessons when it wasn't snowing?" Seto asked, throwing on a long black overcoat (one that didn't, miraculously enough, billow out dramatically behind him like his Battle City trench) and following his brother to the beginner's slopes. The snow was lightly falling from the grey sky and the remaining fluff from the previous blizzard had already been shoveled off of the walks around the château.
"It's barely snowing, Seto! Besides, I already had my lesson an hour ago. That's the next group over there. I'm gonna practice now on the slope that's farther away. My instructor said that's the practice one."
"He's letting you practice without supervision?" asked Seto, shaking a clump of snow off of his shoes, "A bit risky isn't it?"
"No. There's always someone watching the beginner's slopes just to be safe. Usually they're off to the side of the slopes near the trees. See, down there, there's one!" Mokuba pointed to a figure about halfway down. The slope lifeguard waved back. "There's nothing to worry about. Ready to watch me fly?"
"Go ahead." Seto pulled out his phone and aimed it halfway down the slope.
"Seto, you're never going to snap a picture at the speed I'm moving down the hill. You're just going to get snow!"
Seto looked down at Mokuba, a small smirk playing across his face, "Would you like to bet on that?"
Mokuba looked up at his big brother's smirk and frowned, "I don't like that look."
"If I'm right…" Mokuba began, "You have to go all tomorrow without one drop of coffee."
"Alright, Mokuba. But if I'm right, you have to go all tomorrow without sweets."
"Not one pastry!?"
"Not even a crumb."
Mokuba frowned, "That's cruel."
"You started it. The odds are that you're going to be right anyways, so why worry?"
Mokuba glanced down at the slope. "You got a deal!" He turned to prepare for his descent. Glancing down at the slope and then back at his brother, he smiled, "Ready?"
"Whenever you are, go ahead."
Mokuba pushed off from the edge and glided smoothly down the slope, passing the lifeguard and coming to a stop at the bottom. That wasn't so bad! He turned to head back up the hill on the side path. I hope Seto missed that shot….
On top of the hill, Seto closed his phone and turned to head toward the path leading back up the slopes when he froze, staring down something half-hidden in the snowy trees. Someone, face hidden, was frozen, probably staring back at him. Slowly, Seto turned away, towards the path Mokuba would be coming up through, but keeping the stranger within his sight. When his brother was halfway to the top, he took a quick peek around. There was no one else in the general area.
He grimaced as he became snow-covered once more, "Nice trip down the hill, kiddo." When Mokuba let go of him, Seto went back to shaking the snow off of his shoes and the bottom of his pants.
Mokuba looked down at the phone in his hand, "You missed the shot, didn't you? You missed it – please tell me you missed it!"
Seto opened the phone, pushed a few buttons and turned it around so the screen faced Mokuba. While his little brother was occupied, Seto made a quick scan of the trees. The man had fled.
Mokuba took one look, and kicked the nearest pile of snow.
"I wonder what's keeping Joey and the others," said Yugi.
"They still might be in the tunnels," said Ryou, "Or maybe they're following an important clue they found." He looked at the torn cloth in his hands, "I wonder what kind of fabric this is. For all we know, it could belong to anyone in the resort! Solving this mystery can take a while!"
"Well we know there have been three accidents so far here and each of them was to someone from Industrial Illusions," said Yugi, "That's one place we can start from. The first accident was on the ski slopes and the second was suspected poison. The third was in the conference room and was a stabbing."
"So," Ryou began, "If it means anything, it's whoever's responsible doesn't repeat his attacks or his victims."
Yugi nodded, "It's a possibility…." He paused as he noticed two familiar figures sitting across the room. "Maybe they can help!"
"Who?" Ryou asked, following Yugi.
One of the two turned as he saw Yugi and Ryou approach, "Yugi Muto. Didn't think we'd see you try and strike a conversation with us. Where's your gaggle of friends?"
"Off somewhere," said Yugi. "Croquet we need your help."
Pegasus's security guard raised an eyebrow and glanced at Roland, who was typing on a laptop. "Our help? Please tell me Mr. Pegasus didn't find – and go nuts over – a bottle of wine?"
Yugi laughed nervously, "Not exactly, but we found this around the château near where Hartlin was stabbed. Do you recognize what kind of fabric this is?" He handed the torn cloth over to Croquet.
"I'm no fashion expert, Mr. Muto. I can tell you that it's expensive though – feels like the material of an expensive suit – maybe part of someone's jacket." He handed it to Roland, "What do you think?"
"Definitely a suit. It's the right kind of material at least. But if you want a fashion nut, go to New York or Paris," said the Kaiba Corp employee, "the edges around here look like it might've been torn off by something – or someone. Where did you find it?"
"Outside a secret passageway leading from Conference Room Three," said Ryou.
"Well this could've belonged to anyone. I think everyone taking part in these conferences has at least one black item of clothing. Unless you can nab prints off this, I don't think it'll be much use," said Roland, "Unless, of course, there's someone walking around with a torn suit."
"I doubt it," said Ryou, "But thanks anyways."
"Maybe we should talk to Hartlin when he gets back in the morning," said Yugi, "He might've gotten a glimpse of his attacker."
"But the room was dark!" Ryou exclaimed, "I don't see how he would be able to know!"
"Well we won't know unless we ask him," said Yugi, heading out of the room, "I guess the only thing we can do now is find the others."
The snow was continuing to fall, this time at a more rapid pace. Most of the skiers had retreated back into the château.
"Can't we stay out a little longer, Seto?"
"Last thing I need is for you to get sick for being out here too long," said Seto. "You can ski again when the snow stops."
Mokuba frowned, "Fine…."
As they walked back into the château, the man hiding behind the trees showed himself, and he wasn't alone. He moved closer to his companions, who were deep in conversation.
"We can't use the entrance like before," said one man, "There's always someone in the room now."
"Who?" asked another man, lighting a cigar. He replaced the lighter into the pocket of his suit. The edge of the jacket had been torn off.
"One of the businessmen, I couldn't tell from far away. Since the day we used that room one of them had been working in there. I think he's suspicious of us."
"I would too if I caught you following me like you are him."
"There are only three exits to that tunnel," said another voice, this time a woman, "One is in the ski shack, another hidden in a back staircase and then the meeting room."
"We can always make a new exit," said the first man "shouldn't be too hard. The guests will just think the place is haunted and leave. It'll help us."
"I wouldn't," said the second man with the cigar, "The château might be too old to be messing with the tunnel. You might cause too much damage and collapse the whole place, and then it won't do us any good at all! See if you can get this guy to vacate the conference room. If not, force him to."
"Should we plan a fourth attack?" asked the woman.
"Yes. Get them scared. I don't care who or how, just pick someone. The first guy you come across if you have to. If you play your cards right, you might be able to pin our fun on this Marshand fellow. Pegasus seems to think he's attacking everyone."
"That man?" laughed the woman, "He couldn't hurt anyone if he wanted to!"
"It'll get the accusation off us, and that's all that matters," said the first man. He turned and disappeared through the trees toward the ski equipment shack. The others glanced back at each other and then followed.
"Man, you'd think someone with hair like Yugi's would be easy to find," said Joey, "Can't spot him anywhere, and I'm starvin'!"
"Can't you think about anything other than your stomach for once?" Tea hissed, "For all we know, Yugi and Ryou might've found an important clue!"
"Well they should hurry up," Joey pouted, flopping into an oversized chair by a roaring fire, "I don't like waiting."
"You won't have to wait too long, here they come," said Tristan.
"There you are," Ryou said, "Find anything?"
"We know that portion of the passage leads to the ski equipment shack," said Tea, "but that's all. How did you manage?"
"The path we followed led to a stairwell in the back of the château. We did find a torn piece of clothing. Ryou and I found Roland and Croquet and asked them about it. They think it might be from someone's suit," said Yugi, "But now we at least know how these assailants are organizing their attacks. The person who attacked the woman on the slopes probably hid back in the passage via the ski equipment shop, and whoever stabbed Hartlin disappeared through the passage in Conference Room Three."
"What about the guy who was poisoned?" asked Joey.
"We don't know that he was or wasn't. Pegasus said he thinks he was."
"Maybe we should go back into the passage and look for any other exits," Tea said, "Maybe we might be able to prevent another attack if we know where the entrances to the passages are."
"Good idea, Tea!" Joey grinned, and then his stomach did another grumble, "But after we eat, okay?"
Yugi sighed, "Always thinking with your stomach, huh Joey?"
"No, I'm just hungry!"
"You guys go and eat," said Yugi, "I'm not really hungry right now. I think I'm going to go check out that passage."
"You sure, Yugi?" asked Tea.
"I'll be fine," said Yugi reassuringly, "you all go ahead. I'll see you later." He turned and headed towards the back of the château. /I hope I can find the entrance to the passage without Ryou's spirit. What do you think?/
/We might be standing there a while, but I have full confidence in you, Yugi. We'll find it. Don't worry./
/Do you think there'll be another attack, Pharaoh?/
/It's hard to say Yugi/ Yami said appearing in spirit form beside him, /If we found out why the attacks are taking place and who is doing them, we might be able to put a stop to them. However, right now, we don't have enough information to answer either of those questions./
Yugi stopped before the wall where he knew the hidden door to be. Now, how to open it?
"Look for hidden switches," said Yami beside him, invisible to everyone but Yugi, "something that might activate the door."
Yugi nodded, patting the wall down. After a few minutes, he sighed, backing away from the wall. "It's no use, this won't open."
However, when his foot hit one of the floor tiles, the hidden door swung open! Yami chuckled, "Then again…."
Yugi walked into the passage and closed the door behind him, "It's a lot darker in here today. The lamps that were on last time are mostly off now. I don't know how I'm supposed to look for more hidden areas with this little light!"
"Do the best you can, Yugi," said Yami. "If you need to, you can always come back later with a flashlight."
"That's true," said Yugi, feeling the walls, "I think this is where we split up before. The path goes straight ahead and to the right."
"Well," said Yami, "The right leads to the ski shack. Straight ahead goes to the conference room. Which way do you want to go?"
"Straight I suppose," said Yugi, continuing on. He very slowly made his way through the corridor, feeling the walls for turns and adjoining halls….
Meanwhile, Seto showed his ID to the guard by the door separating the conference areas from the rest of the château and turned at the end of the hall. Entering Conference Room Three, he tossed his long (and now damp) overcoat onto the back of a chair and opened his laptop that he retrieved from Roland. He shook his head, thinking of the snowballs Mokuba managed to pelt him (or rather his coat, as they all missed his head) with before they got back inside. After signing in, he grabbed his mug and left for the dining room to grab a cup of coffee.
He returned a few minutes later, steaming mug in hand and paused at the wall where Yami Bakura opened the secret entrance. He looked the wall up and down; it looked pretty ordinary to him. Not that he cared about the hallway behind the wall, not when there was work to complete. Shaking his head, he returned to his laptop, opened a file, and resumed his inhumanly quick typing….
…Yugi paused. There was another passage, veering off to the left! "Strange," he muttered, "I don't remember this ever being here."
"If you're going to go down, be careful," said Yami, "We don't know what's down here."
"Right," said Yugi. He took a step forward, but immediately stumbled and fell. The fall echoed throughout the passage.
"It's alright, Yami. I couldn't see; this passage is higher than the others. Don't worry about me; I'm fine." Getting up, Yugi continued, this time, going slower than before….
….Seto glanced up and looked toward the wall. Did he just hear a thud of some sort?
Don't be ridiculous, you're just imagining things. He shook his head and tried to concentrate on his work once more, but then he got the feeling he was being watched. He glanced up towards the door. On the other side of the hall, was a figure, looking back at him. It looked like the same one that was staring at him from the ski slopes and was probably the same man who was watching him work once before.
He quickly rose and went to the door. The man had darted down the hallway once Seto had stood. Seto opened the door and walked out. He looked in both directions; there was no one in sight, so he rounded the nearest corner. Still no one. Slowly, Seto walked back into the conference room when he stopped dead in his tracks.
The secret passage was open….
….Yugi rounded another corner when he froze. He could hear footsteps; someone was in the passage with him, but where?
/Get out of here, Yugi!/ Yami cried through their mind link.
/Don't have to tell me twice!/ He turned down the nearest intersection he found, trying to remember his way back to the stairwell entrance. The footsteps were getting louder. Yugi quickly turned around a bend when he bumped into someone. A flashlight was shined into his face and Yugi put his hand up to shield his eyes. When it was lowered away from his face, Yugi looked at who he had hit. It was a man, though a mask was hiding his face.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" the man demanded. He had a strong French accent.
"I-I got lost," Yugi stammered, "I was trying to find my way out when I hit you. I'm sorry."
"How do I know you're telling the truth?" asked the man. In the darkness, Yugi could make out a glint of something metallic in the man's hand.
"It's true – I'm lost," said Yugi.
"Found something?" asked another man, coming up behind Yugi, "What's he doing here?"
"Says he's lost," said the first man with the flashlight.
"No he's not," said the second man, "Saw him and his friends earlier snooping around in the conference room when they found the entrance. They're looking for it."
"I'm not looking for anything!" Yugi cried, "I'm lost – that's all!"
"Don't lie to us, shrimp," said the second man, and Yugi felt something small pushed against his back, "You're looking for them. You want to get them before we do."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Yugi said, extremely confused.
"Liar," said the first man, grabbing Yugi by his collar, hoisting him up and pushing him hard against the wall. "You're looking for the diamonds so you can turn them over to a museum."
"W-what diamonds?" Yugi gulped.
The second man studied Yugi through the flashlight light and then turned to his companion, "He doesn't know what you're talking about. Now you've done it!"
The first man swore under his breath, and then noticed the Puzzle. Taking one hand off Yugi's collar, he took the Puzzle in his hands, weighing it. "Quite a bit of gold you've got here."
"Get off my Puzzle!" said Yugi fiercely.
"A bit heavy for a little guy like you," the second man said, "I think we'll relieve you of it."
"No!" Yugi hugged it to his chest, "You can't – it's mine!"
The first man chuckled, "Not for long, kid. You know too much, so you can't live." He began to yank on the chain, choking Yugi when the second man grabbed his arm.
"Stop," he hissed, "Someone else is here with us. I hear footsteps."
The first man brought his masked face dangerously close to Yugi's, "You're lucky, little man. Speak of what happened here and you'll wish you never visited this place."
With that, the two men disappeared down the corridor, leaving Yugi clutching his throat, on the ground.
He too heard footsteps, and they were coming closer.
/I'm sorry I couldn't do anything, Yugi. I didn't want to make the situation worse by activating the Puzzle and taking over./
Yugi felt his breath escaping from him. /It's ok, Yami. I'll…I'll…be al-alright…/ He slumped over against the wall and everything went black….