Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!
Hey, everyone! I'm back with the "sequel to my sequel." I promise to Ra that this one will be much more interesting and exciting! Please don't forget to review!
Mana awoke to find her wrists and ankles bound in thick, dark chains of shadow magic. The chains also attached her to a freezing floor of rock, and hanging over her was a ceiling of rough, dark stone. She was in some sort of cave.
Suddenly, Mana became aware of harsh breathing behind her; she twisted around to see the Thief King lying several feet away on the cold, hard ground. He appeared to be sleeping.
Mana sighed, glancing down at herself. Here she was, bound with shadow chains that bolted her to the ground. There was no hope of escape. With another heavy sigh, she settled back down to an uncomfortable sleep.
"GET UP!" A harsh voice sounded, and the girl's eyes cracked open. She looked up, expecting to see the Thief King's hard eyes glaring back down at her. But they weren't there.
She twisted about some more, trying to find him; Bakura stood farther back in the cave. He appeared to be talking to two moving figures...
What? thought Mana. Who else is here?
"My humblest apologies, Master," a familiar voice said, followed by an unfamiliar one which added, "I'm sorry, Ba—I mean, Thief King—no, Master!" The second voice was completely foreign to Mana, not to mention the strange accent which accompanied it.
Hearing footsteps, she quickly looked away, but Bakura caught her movement. "Ah, you're awake," he sneered, walking over to her. He lightly touched the glowing black chains around her feet and pulled her up by her arms. Mana merely glared at him throughout this whole process, but when he started to drag her towards the back of the cave, she resisted.
"Where are you taking me!?" cried Mana, trying to pull away, but Bakura held fast.
"There are some friends I'd like you to meet," he said, grinning evilly, as if he was about to burst out laughing any moment.
He dragged the female magician by her arms, with her legs clumsily tottering after her, just barely keeping her from falling.
An enormous cage came into view. Upon closer inspection, Mana realized that the bars weren't made of metal—they were made of thick, purplish-black bands of shadow energy! But it wasn't the strange cage that stunned her into speechlessness—no, it was the people in the cage.
The Thief King grinned again—"I'll just let you all get acquainted now," said he. With a wave of his hand, more bars slid out of the ceiling, crisscrossing and trapping them in the darkness. The thief smirked at them from the other side, turned on his heel, and left.
Mana gaped at the two men in the cage.
"High Priest Akhenaden!" exclaimed Mana. The elderly man stared back at her, sadness etched in every line of his wrinkled face.
(One month after the Pharaoh's arrival in the Afterlife...)
"My Pharaoh, I wish to step down from my position. I no longer wish to be a guardian." High Priest Akhenaden's words were met with exclamations of outrage and shock from the court; angry and stunned, Mahad started to say something, but this time, it was High Priest Seto who voiced his disapproval first.
"Father! Until we are unable to do so, it is our sole duty to serve the Pharaoh! Being guardian of the Pharaoh is not something you can simply walk away from!"
Pharaoh Atem nodded to Seto and held up a hand, motioning for him to hold his tongue. Seto fell silent, glaring at the elderly man who now knelt humbly before the King. Atem leaned forward, his eyebrows rising in surprise. Akhenaden was also wearing a cloth patch over one eye which he kept touching lightly.
"But Akhenaden," Atem said, "why?" The elderly man looked uncomfortable and guilty, but he quickly shook himself out of it and proceeded to explain.
"I feel that I am no longer fit for priesthood," Akhenaden began, "for I have grown old and weak. He hesitated before continuing, as if ashamed of something. "And the Millennium Eye… it no longer responds to my commands."
He reached into the depths of his robe and pulled out a small golden sphere; flawlessly carved into it was the Eye of Horus.
"Then there is the issue of my punishment for my deeds in life---"
Standing up, the Pharaoh cut him off, frowning.
"Akhenaden, no. Your betrayal was the result of your link with Zorc and your love for your son. Nothing more. We have discussed this---your sentence in the Shadows was served, hence your being allowed in the Afterlife! Everything has been forgiven!"
Suddenly, the Pharaoh stopped. There was something else... the massacre of Kul Elna... what of that?
Akhenaden shook his head vehemently. "My apologies, my King, but I am not fit for priesthood. It is the undeniable truth!"
After much arguing and pleading, Akhenaden was escorted out of the Palace. The Pharaoh offered to see him off to his destination, but he declined.
After that, no one ever knew for sure what had become of him.
Staring at the gaunt face of the elderly man before her, Mana understood everything. "You left months ago. He… threatened you too, didn't he, Master Akhenaden?" she whispered, leaning closer.
The man nodded. "Yes," he replied, in a much softer tone than the one he normally used to use on her, "he did. He left me with no choice."
The man glared in the direction of the cave's entrance. "He has once again been swallowed by darkness. My Millennium Eye only increases his shadow power."
Mana started at this new bit of information. "You gave him the Millennium Eye? But then, where is it?" Only now did she notice the empty eye socket, the one in which the Millennium Eye used to reside.
Sighing heavily, the ex-High Priest confessed, "I don't know. I lied about the Eye's refusal to obey me; it was part of my excuse to leave to find that thief. When I found our meeting place, he fought and defeated me. He took it from me that day, and I haven't seen it since. But wherever it is, he has harnessed its powers."
Mana recalled the elaborate illusions designed by the Thief King: the Prince, the Kingdom, and the illusion of the two-day journey which only took one day to complete. She had to agree—his power over the shadows had increased. He was even more dangerous now than he had been in life...
Mana then turned her attentions to the quiet stranger. He sat in a corner of the cage, staring off into space. He looked so similar to the Thief King that he could have passed for his twin brother! However, as she examined him closely, she noticed that his features were softer, his brown eyes were warmer, and his manner was more timid.
Feeling her eyes on him, the pale-skinned boy turned to meet her gaze. He smiled at her sadly, and Mana felt a rush of sympathy for the stranger. Whoever this boy was, he clearly didn't want to be here, and he clearly didn't deserve to be here.
The smile faded away, and he lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "This is my fault. Other people are getting hurt... 'cause of… me." He looked off to the side, shamefaced.
His obvious and genuine guilt and fear caused Mana's heart to ache with sadness. She wanted to reach through the bars and hug the stranger, comfort him, let the poor boy know that everything was going to be all right.
"Please don't blame yourself. What could you have done? And who… who are you?" Mana asked; she reached awkwardly through the bars and gave his hands a reassuring squeeze.
"His… lighter side. I'm… Ryou Bakura."
Oh. They're like Yugi and the Pharaoh… and they have the same names too, thought Mana, her eyes widening slightly. She smiled and said as cheerfully as she could, "Well, hello, Ryou Bakura. It's nice to meet you."
A small smile crossed Ryou's face as he nodded to her. "And you are…?"
"Mana. I'm Mahad's apprentice… but I'm almost done with my training! Just… not yet." Ryou smiled, although confused by her babbling; Mana grinned sheepishly.
"I'm glad to see we're all getting along," a cold voice sneered. The expression on Ryou Bakura's face was one of sheer terror as he looked up to behold his Yami side.
"Well, Hikari," the Thief King said, "I'm glad to see that you've made a new friend."
He nodded to Mana, who scrambled to her feet, her muscles tense. Bakura pointed to her feet, and the shadow chains once again wrapped themselves around her ankles.
With a cry of shock and anger, the magician girl fell to the floor. The Thief King bent down and lifted her up as easily as if she was a sack of potatoes. Mana grumbled with indignation at this treatment.
"Oh no…" Akhenaden breathed, as he watched the thief carry the magician girl towards the entrance of the cave.
"What's going to happen to her?" asked a worried Ryou. A look of fear crossed the old man's face.
"The true power of just one Millennium Item is very dangerous," he murmured, "and he has learned to harness the power of the Eye. But if he needs Mana…" The ex-High Priest closed his eyes. "… We are all doomed once he performs the ceremony."
"What ceremony?!" asked Ryou Bakura frantically, leaning towards the old man. The High Priest opened his eyes and looked at the youth with a frown.
"A sacrificial one... Millennium Soul of Magic ceremony."
"Where are you taking me!?" snapped Mana angrily.
She groaned as the thief walked out into the bright sunlight. As he turned to climb down from the ledge of rock that led into the cave, Mana glimpsed the charred remains of large structures.
She saw piles of wreckage and shattered rock. She was looking down, once again, on the ruins of Kul Elna.
The Thief King landed on the sandy dirt with an agile leap; he strode away from the scene of wreckage to another cliff face.
Suddenly, they were falling! Mana screamed in shock as the Thief King slid down a large column into an underground chamber.
He landed smoothly on the stone floor and tossed Mana unceremoniously to the ground.
He looked down at her, a wicked sneer crossing his face again. "This place should be quite familiar."
And it was, Mana realized as she took in her surroundings. The Pharaoh, the High Priests/Priestess, and she had battled the Thief King in this very chamber during their lives.
"Why am I here?" Glaring at Bakura, the young woman struggled to sit up. He strode over to her; with a snap of his fingers, the bonds on her ankles were gone. However, he held on to her arm tightly to keep her from running.
Mana shot the thief another cold glare before looking around again; this time, she noticed something new. A slender, golden altar gleamed in the middle of the room. Strange symbols were engraved on its sides. Bakura steered her firmly towards it.
She looked at it carefully— it was hollowed out, and a silvery mist swirled around inside it.
"What is this?" asked Mana, momentarily forgetting her situation. She turned questioningly towards the thief, but he merely smirked at her.
"The reason you're here," he whispered menacingly, and Mana looked at him in a mixture of bewilderment and horror.
"What…?" Mana looked at the altar again, and this time, she was able to make out something engraved on inside of its base. It was the Eye of Horus.
"Two nights from now," the Thief King announced, "there will be an eclipse of the moon. During that eclipse," he grinned, "I will perform the Millennium Soul of Magic ceremony."
"Soul of Magic…?"
Suddenly, realization dawned on Mana, and her heart sank. She recalled his words during the confrontation in the "throne room": Your little girl is powerfully magical. I needed her for my own reasons.
"What do you want from me?" Mana's voice sounded hoarse.
Reviews please! (Falls to knees) For the love of all Atem X Mana stories, please review!