Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

I've gone back and edited chapters--the Millennium Stone is now present in the previous chapter. Yes, I know the Millennium Stone was destroyed at the end of the series... wasn't it? Right?

I know that the Millennium Eye allows the user to seal others' souls and see into their minds, but the illusion thing is just something that I tossed in. I'm using the ideas of the Millennium Items being full of dark magic and Bakura having power over the shadows because of his affiliation with the Shadow Realm and Millennium Items to create illusions.

Sorry about any canon mistakes I've made so far. Please alert me to any you've detected... even though I probably won't be able to do anything about it.

Onward!


Chapter 4

Defiance

"DARK MAGIC ATTACK!"

Dirt, debris, and shattered rock flew everywhere in a thunderous explosion as a ball of blackish-violet energy blasted its way through the ceiling, followed by an enraged Dark Magician and the Pharaoh!


Bakura and Mana were thrown off their feet! However, Bakura still gripped Mana's wrists tightly, pulling her along with him—his face was twisted in a terrifying grimace of pain and hatred.

"GET AWAY FROM HER!" roared Atem as Mahad swung his staff in preparation for another attack.

Another blast of magic sent Bakura and Mana flying in opposite directions—Mana crashed against the wall and lay still.

"My King, take Mana! I will take care of the thief!"

"NO, Mahad, I—"

"GO!"

Knowing that it was of no use to argue, Atem sprinted over to his unconscious friend and scooped her up in his arms. Dodging more flying debris, he pulled her over to the opening in the ceiling.

Pharaoh Atem gritted his teeth. How to get her out? Sliding down a stone column into the chamber was one thing, but climbing back up with Mana in his arms—

"My King, we'll take her!"

Several of the soldiers who had accompanied them on their journey appeared overhead—a rope was thrown down, and several men descended. Atem exhaled sharply, relief momentarily filling him as he handed the young woman over to the leader of the troop.

"Take her back to the camp," whispered Atem urgently to the men.

They obeyed without hesitation; Mana's limp form rose with the soldiers as they climbed back to the surface.


The Thief King's cry of fury was audible even from this distance. The soldiers unconsciously urged their horses forward into a faster gallop. A few men even glanced anxiously over their shoulders.

An explosion was heard.


Tea watched the horizon worriedly. Yugi walked out of the tent to stand beside her. The two frowned at the distant sand dunes, each occupied with his/her own thoughts.

Finally, Yugi spoke.

"Tea, worrying about them isn't going to do any good."

Tea smiled humorlessly and turned to face him. "Yeah, but I can't help it. Remember the last time they fought the Thief King?"

They both shuddered, remembering the havoc, mayhem, and destruction caused by the thief in the Memory World.

Yugi sighed and glared out at the desert again. "I wish the Pharaoh had let us come along with him."

Tea frowned again. "I do too. But you know how he is—"she scowled and folded her arms, "—he doesn't want us in any danger. No matter what the price is for him."

Suddenly, Yugi squinted out at the horizon. Noticing this, Tea followed his line of sight until she found just what had caught his attention.

Dust clouds swirled in the distance, and the sound of pounding hooves could be heard.


Relief flooded both of them as they realized it must be the Pharaoh, Mahad, and the soldiers returning with Mana.

Joey and Tristan emerged from the tent. "They back already?" Joey asked, surprised.

Tristan's brow creased as he stared at the approaching line of men and horses. "Yeah, I thought it'd take much longer than that since it's the Thief King."

Suddenly, Yugi frowned and looked at the ground. "It's not over. Mahad and… Atem aren't there with them."

Tea carefully scrutinized the men before them and sighed. "He's right. They're not there."


Several minutes later, the gang was gathered around Mana's unconscious form inside the tent. Two soldiers stood guard outside the opening.

Take care of her.

Those were their instructions. Tea was busy administering to Mana's bleeding hands.

Finally, she straightened up. "Done."

"D'you think she'll be all right?" Tristan asked, worried.

"Yeah, she looks… kinda…" Joey trailed off uncomfortably.

Smiling gently, Yugi replied, "Don't worry, guys. Remember, we're in the Spirit World. They can't die."

Joey grinned sheepishly. "Oh, yeah."

"What… happened…?" Mana's faint voice starled them all, causing them to jump.

"Mana!" Tea exclaimed, kneeling down beside her. "How do you feel?"

"Tired… sore… ouch." Mana gingerly placed her hands on the ground and made to push herself up.

"Hey, wait a minute, you need to rest!" Yugi exclaimed, attempting to push her back down.

"Pharaoh… Mahad… Where are they?" Mana's sleepy eyes began to widen as she took in her surroundings. She brushed off Yugi's hand and sat straight up, her green eyes fully open and full of concern and grief.

She repeated herself, more urgently—"Where are they!?"

Yugi, Joey, Tristan, and Tea exchanged worried glances. "Well—" Tea began, but Mana had seen enough.

"I'm going after them." Despite the gang's protests, she pushed herself to her feet. The young woman wobbled slightly and began to fall, but Joey and Tristan quickly caught and steadied her.

Tea was the first to speak. "You can't! Mana, you can't even walk! You'll be…"

She trailed off, unsure of how to continue. Yugi shook his head slightly and said —"You won't be able to help them like this."

"I… can't let them… do this alone." She sounded hoarse, but determined. "I'm going. The Pharaoh and Mahad are more than just my king and teacher. They're my friends, and I'm not leaving them!"

She pulled herself out of Joey and Tristan's grip, her voice growing stronger with each word, and she glared stubbornly at the gang. The orb at the tip of her staff glowed slightly, and she stood up a little straighter.

Frowning worriedly, Yugi finally spoke. "The Pharaoh's our friend too, Mana, but he wouldn't want you to go after him and Mahad. He made us stay back, and we wanted to go with him!"

Mana shook her head and glanced at the tent flaps; the guards' shapes were visible. A determined scowl spread across her face. "I've got to go. No matter what."

Before anyone could stop her, she darted towards the entrance.

There was a brief scuffle, yells, and then silence. Tea, Yugi, Joey, and Tristan cautiously peeked out of the tent.

The guards stood… frozen. The four teenagers looked at each other, then at the frozen guards, and then at the figure of a young woman standing among the horses…


"Hey, wait!"

Mana glanced over her shoulder to see Yugi, Joey, Tristan, and Tea hurrying towards her. Yugi stopped and looked up at her.

"We're coming too!"

Mana almost agreed. Suddenly, she shook her head.

Protests filled the air and the four teenagers stared fiercely back at her. "You're going!" Tristan exclaimed indignantly.

Joey scowled. "Before you showed up, we tried ta get past the guards the Pharaoh set on us!"

He and Tristan rubbed their arms—bruises were already beginning to show. "That didn't work out too well."

"No matter what," Tea said, "we're all in this together."

Mana looked at them, a strange expression forming on her face. "I can't—"

She looked away, pondering her next move. They couldn't come—what could they do? She had her magic and the Dark Magician Girl—but what about them? They were powerless teenagers in the Spirit World—she couldn't allow her new friends to be put in danger by the—

Suddenly Joey made a mad dash for the nearest waiting horse—the creature snorted and tossed its head, taking a few steps back.

Tea darted forward and grabbed the reins, speaking softly but firmly and stroking the horse gently to calm him. Carefully, she stepped forward and pulled herself onto its back. The mare tossed her head but otherwise remained fairly calm.

Tea guided the horse towards Mana. Surprised, the young magician girl asked, "What are you doing?"

"Coming with you," Tea replied simply.

Yugi appeared on Mana's left side, already seated on another horse, with Joey seated behind him. Tristan climbed up behind Tea, and the mare shifted slightly. His eyes widened, and he quickly grabbed Tea, who rolled her eyes and elbowed him sharply.

"Tristan!"

"Ow!"

"No matter what," Yugi said, and Mana bit her lip.

The Pharaoh wouldn't want his friends endangered, and neither did she. It looked like she would have to use her last resort—her grip on her staff tightened and she raised her arm, shaking her head slowly.

"I can't let you—I'm sorry about this, but—"

Realizing what she was about to do, Tea and Yugi quickly urged the horses forward, leaving the young magician in the dust!


"HEY!" Mana's mouth fell open in shock, and she urged her own steed into a powerful gallop. "Come back here!"

Mana leaned forward and urged her horse to move faster—"Come on, I've got to catch up!"


Within seconds, she had taken the lead. Sighing, Mana decided that freezing and returning the gang to the camp would be too much trouble at this point.

Biting her lip, Mana prayed that Atem and Mahad were all right…

Oh, I hope I'm not too late…


The air was thick with dust and dirt. Mahad, the Pharaoh, and the Thief King had moved their battle to the surface.

The Dark Magician lay sprawled across the rocks at the bottom of the cliff face.

Pharaoh Atem was shaking on all fours—even the powerful Slifer the Sky Dragon hadn't been able to defeat the Thief King's Diabound. Apparently, Bakura's beastly Ka still retained the powers it had absorbed from the monsters it had defeated during their war in life.

A large shadow loomed over Mahad and Atem, and they glared up at Bakura. Suddenly, the thief's hand shot out and grabbed a handful of Atem's clothes, and he pulled the King of Egypt up by the collar to face him. Mahad roared in outrage, but Bakura merely laughed harshly.

"Now," he hissed, his eyes flashing, "you will be sealed in the darkness. Forever."


(Grimaces) I've been so neglectful to this story. With all the time off I had, I could easily have released two or three chapters. Instead, here I am presenting one.

Reviews please!