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Knight's Title

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We had seemed to reach a crucial point in the duel. Sonja may have had more Life Points than me right now, but I had wiped out two of her best Monsters, and torn down her Field Spell, a vital part of her strategy. Even better, I now had one of my own best on the field.

But the attack I made had caused the spell she had been using to disguise herself to end prematurely. Her true form was now revealed to me, one that seemed to combine the features of a human woman with those of a female lion, or some other great cat. I have to admit, this was sort of a surprise. I had entertained the possibility that she was a Shadowkind, but this? She was supposed to be a master water elementalist, and I thought cats hated water.

Clearly, she had other secrets, and I was starting to have a feeling about what her true motivations were… This duel would continue, but not before I had all the answers…

Ember surveyed the field.

She had Flamvell Urquizas, Molten Destruction, and Salamandra Equipped to Urquizas. Her opponent had a clear side.

But even more importantly, Sonja's true face was no longer hidden. Ember was not about to continue until she knew what the whole deal was.

"What are you?" she asked. "A rakshasa? A lycanthrope?"

Sonja glared at her.

"Your species may call me a Shadow," she replied, "but I am no common demon or shapeshifter…"

"Then what?" asked Ember. "A wookie?"

"I'm no pop-culture creature either," replied Sonja, with a snarl.

"This is weird…" said Ember. "I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a deeper reason why you wanted to recreate the wager that Jamor made with Athentia."

"Of course there is…" snarled Sonja. "I'm her daughter."

Ember almost fell over in shock.

"Daughter?" she exclaimed.

Then something occurred to her.

"Wait… You mean Athentia had a mate? A male sphinx?"

Sonja sighed.

"Of course she did…" she replied. "It's usually like that, isn't it? The male sires the child, and the female carries it.

"His name was Kelemvor. He was almost never seen by mortals, because while Athentia represented knowledge and wisdom, he represented strength and power. He only appeared when his mate was threatened by an enemy whom she could not affect with her Conundrum Curse. The only folks who saw him were the ones he had to protect her from, so they never survived to tell anyone that Athentia had a mate.

"And they had a more important purpose. Although Athentia would impart her wisdom on anyone who came to her who was willing to accept her Curse as a payment, she and Kelemvor were to guard a special portal, the only means of access to a realm of great importance to their master."

"Their master?" said Ember. "Who…"

Sonja grinned, showing elongated canine teeth.

"My parents served a great power…" she said. "The entity who taught the first ur-priest how to steal power from the gods… The being that spawned the Worm Empire and pointed it towards its goals…"

"The Light of Ruin!" gasped Ember.

"That's right…" replied Sonja. "Then one day, Jamor came, and proposed the contest, asking for immortality should he win. My mother was going to refuse, but the Light was tempted and enticed by the thought of gaining a powerful dragon as a slave. Due to an agreement she had made centuries earlier, the Light rightfully owned anything that she acquired. It ordered my mother to accept the challenge, thinking she could never lose."

Ember's eyes opened wide.

"Wait…" she said. "This agreement… Did you…"

"Uh huh…" said Sonja.

"So if I lose this duel…" said Ember.

Sonja nodded.

"The Light doesn't make requests often," she said. "It usually lets me do as I please. So when it makes a request, I deliver."

"What does it want with me??" gasped Ember.

"Don't know, don't care," replied Sonja. "It isn't my place to ask questions. It could make you into a zoo exhibit for all I know.

"But as I was saying, it thought my mother couldn't lose, but lose she did. What was she supposed to do, break her word? Break her word with so many celestial beings watching, including Rao himself? You break your word in front of the Lord of Reason, you can expect an army of platonics to be after you the next day. Kelemvor would likely have taken down a few of them, but he would have been overwhelmed, and his mate would have been next. So she gave Jamor the gift of immortality…"

She growled a little.

"But immortality was a gift she was only able to give once!" she shouted. "There would be none to give her daughter, who was only a cub at the time!"

Ember looked at her.

"Hold it…" said Ember. "Did your mom ever tell Jamor that?"

"Huh?" said Sonja, somewhat surprised.

"Did your mom tell Jamor that she could only give immortality once?" asked Ember. "Did she tell him she was saving it for her daughter?"

There was a long pause. Sonja didn't answer.

Ember crossed her arms.

"Of course she didn't," continued Ember. "Athentia the Great Sphinx was supposed to be an almighty, omnipotent being, who once counted the Titans among her peers. She would never tell anyone that her powers had limits!

"If she had, Jamor might never have proposed the wager… He might have looked elsewhere. Ever consider that?"

Sonja still didn't answer.

"So…" continued Ember. "When Jamor was poisoned, your mom told Jalal what to do to transfer the gift… Why be merciful?"

"She wasn't going to at first…" growled Sonja, now sounding as much depressed as she was angry. "She was at first going to crush Jalal, and make Jamor suffer twofold, both from the poison and from knowing his son had perished trying to help him.

"But just as she about to pounce and devour Jalal, she came to her senses. What if Jamor somehow recovered? What if he developed immunity to dragonsbane? It was possible to do so with other poisons, such as snake venom… If Jamor was restored to full strength, then a powerful dragon whom she could not outsmart with riddles would be alive, immortal, and would be burning with anger, hungering for revenge for the death of his son. She didn't want such an enemy.

"So she told Jalal how to do it, hoping that Jalal would live in mourning forever. Or even better, would succumb to the dreaded immortality insanity.

"But even this backfired. Soon after, Jalal founded the Shadowchasers, a group that would work to establish peace between humans and Shadow, a goal that was the antithesis of the Light's goal. The Light does its best to sow discord among sentient races, for it feeds on hatred and despair caused by unrest and conflict. It feeds on destruction… It feeds on death…

"Any organization that promotes peace is an enemy of the Light."

"It must not think highly of the United Way…" muttered Ember.

"Silence!" shouted Sonja. "From its faraway realm, the Light saw the Shadowchasers grow stronger with each passing year, spreading around the globe, becoming more and more a thorn in its side, and it was powerless to stop them.

"The Light blamed my mother for losing the contest in the first place, and for not killing Jalal when she had the chance, and my father was guilty by association. One day, they looked into the sky of their home dimension, and saw the mystical glyphs they had hoped they would never see… The warning signs that said their master was coming for them. They weren't naïve. They knew that they would face the harshest of punishments when brought to the Light's home realm.

"I was allowed to stay behind, spared of punishment but deprived of my parents. The last thing they told me before they were taken away was to take back what was mine, one way or another.

"I resolved to do so…

"When the time in my life came when I became able to evolve into the titanic, bestial form that my mother had assumed, I forfeited that chance, keeping my humanoid form and giving up the raw power that would come with it for the ability to study sorcery.

"I discovered a great secret… One of the greatest sources of power in the universe is actually Water. The Power Primordial!"

"What?" gasped Ember. "The power source unleashed at the beginning of Creation?"

"The one and the same," replied Sonja. "It makes sense… All life begins in water, and water has the power to create whole worlds… It can create life… And take it away.

"I started to study the magic of Water, determined to learn how to tap the Power Primordial, the force that would give me unlimited power. Eventually, I learned how to channel my power though certain focuses not unlike the Regalia of Day to cast spells more powerful than I would normally be capable of, and I devoted all my time to learning the forbidden writings that would enable me to cast the Deluge. Eventually, I learned it, and I used it to flood one world, and use its dying energy to rejuvenate myself."

"And you've done this a total of five times?!" gasped Ember.

"It was the only way I could increase my power and attain a facsimile of immortality," replied Sonja. "Sure, I would become a parasite, but it was necessary to prepare for my ascension.

"If it makes any difference, all five of the worlds I flooded were home worlds of scoundrels and riff-raff who I knew no-one would miss. Take the world we're on now. The dominant humanoid race that lived here were called the Gutharn. Probably the most violent, warmongering people in existence.

"They were anything but subtle. A Gutharn who saw an enemy charged. One who didn't see an enemy went looking for one. They made orcs look like boy scouts.

"And they were proud of their toughness. Their language's word for someone who couldn't fight was the same as their word for dung. Someone once said that a Gutharn would care more for his armor and weapons than he would for his mate.

"But that's not saying much, really. Their race was not only patriarchal, it was chauvinistic and misogynistic. To them, a woman's worth depended solely on the strength of her male children, nothing more."

Ember didn't know what to say. She knew that genocide was never justified, but still…

"They were smart enough to be afraid of magic, though…" continued Sonja.

She chuckled.

"This was their strategy for dealing with a wizard," she chuckled. "Get this… On a battlefield, at the first sight of anyone casting a spell, the commander leading the troops would point to that person and shout the word for 'wizard' in their language, and every archer in the company would fire at him at once."

"I assume that wouldn't work?" asked Ember.

"Of course it wouldn't," replied Sonja. "Smart wizards never go into a large-scale battle without multiple layers of spells that can protect them against things far more powerful than arrows. And smart wizards know that the first order of business in a large-scale battle is to wipe out the archers. That's what the first spell would do. Those fools were ignorant. Most other worlds were grateful that the Gutharn spent most of their time fighting each other.

"They never expected to be devastated by a flood… Something that no number of swords could fight against.

"But I don't have to waste my time with the scum of the universe any longer. I'm closer to the Power Primordial than I have ever been. With the power that Earth holds, I can finally claim it. And in doing so, I'll strike against Jalal, and his own world, the place he holds dear.

"Jalal took from me my birthright… He took all I had… I'm taking all that he has."

Ember stared at her.

"Lady…" she said. "You're nuts! If you had any sense, you would have blamed the Light of Ruin for forcing your mom to accept that contest. But I'm guessing that would be biting the hand that feeds you.

"And it wasn't the only one to blame. Your mom's enormous ego was at fault too. She couldn't admit to a weakness, and made Jamor think that immortality was something she could give out freely.

"Well, I have news for you… I'm not going to let you make Earth number six!"

"We'll see about that…" said Sonja. "This duel is not finished…

"And I believe it's my move!"

(Ember: 2,200) - - - - - - - - - - (Sonja: 4,200)

Sonja drew a card.

"I play Trap Booster," she said, as a Spell Card appeared in front of her. "So I toss one card…"

She discarded her Chaos Command Magician.

"…and I get to activate a Trap Card directly from my hand."

A Trap Card? thought Ember. The one she got from that Wrath of Endymion card?

"I play Pyramid of Light!" exclaimed Sonja, as the card appeared.

Thunder flashed over the field, and a glowing, golden pyramid rose behind Sonja. The light coming from it was almost blinding. Ember almost had to cover her eyes.

Sonja raised her staff to the heavens…

"Mother… father…" she chanted. "I call upon your power to strike down this foe… Send me your aspects so our vengeance may be complete!"

Outside the ziggurat, a super-intense beam of light fell from the heavens, striking the apex of the temple…

"What's going on?" shouted Ember.

"You deal with me, you deal with my whole family," said Sonja. "So I pay 1,000 Life Points… Actually, I'm paying 500 twice…

"And behold!"

Ember stepped back as two titanic creatures materialized in front of Sonja. Each one was easily twenty feet high, and radiated an aura of incredible evil.

The first one resembled the traditional sphinx, described in Grecian myth. She had the body of a bestial cat, covered with grey fur, with small wings, which would likely be too small to actually provide flight. Her head was that of a beautiful, comely female, with violet hair worn long. She sat on her hindquarters. (3,000 DEF)

The other one seemed to be an inverse of the classic design. He had the body of a human (more or less) clothed in an armored tunic, with savage-looking claws and the head of a demonic lion with a full mane. (3,000 ATK)

"Your parents?" gasped Ember.

"Not truly," replied Sonja. "These are merely aspects. As such, they are known by different names.

"Meet Sphinx Teleia and Andro Sphinx!"

The two sphinxes looked at Ember and grinned evilly…

"I seem to remember you saying that my mother had too much pride to admit a weakness," said Sonja. "Well I'll admit one… These Beasts can't attack this turn.

"So I'll throw a card facedown, and end my turn."

A reversed card appeared.

(E: 2,200) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 3,200)

Ember slowly drew a card.

She looked at the three cards in her hand.

No Monsters to summon, she thought. Only three Trap Cards…

She looked at the two sphinxes.

Flamvell Urquizas has 3,600 Attack Points! thought Ember. He can easily beat his Attack Score or her Defense Score…

She was about to order Urquizas to attack…

Then she noticed the facedown card.

She glared at Sonja.

"You almost fooled me…" she said, narrowing her eyes.

She took one of the cards from her hand.

"Well, let's see if this discourages you just as much…"

A facedown card appeared behind Urquizas.

"I end my turn."

"My move!" shouted Sonja, drawing a card.

"Since you didn't fall for this," she said, as her facedown card lifted up, "I'll trigger it now… Dust Tornado!"

A tornado ripped across the field, and the Salamandra card was blown to bits. Urquizas fell to an Attack Score of 2,900.

Sonja chuckled.

"And to answer your question," she continued, "I will not be intimidated by any Trap Card. I move Teleia to Attack Mode…"

Sphinx Teleia sprang up, ready to pounce. (2,500 ATK)

"Andro Sphinx… Crush Flamvell Urquizas! Vengeful roar!"

Andro Sphinx loomed over Urquizas, and let out a bellow that shook the whole chamber.

"Not gonna happen!" shouted Ember, as her facedown card shot up. "Activate… Draining Shield!"

A dome of energy surrounded Urquizas, and he braced himself from the powerful sonic attack.

"So you survive one more round," said Sonja. "Well, your Monster won't be so lucky…"

She quickly played a card.

"I play the Spell Card, Shrink! Now Urquizas loses half of his base Attack Score…"

Urquizas fell down to an Attack Score of 1,850.

"…which means Teleia can finish what her partner started…"

Teleia's beautiful face suddenly turned just as savage and hideous as the rest of her body. She slammed her right claw down, pinning Urquizas under it. She lifted her other claw…

Ember forced herself to look away as the savage creature made the killing strike.

(E: 4,550) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 3,200)

"Well…" said Sonja. "That's enough for one turn…"

Ember closed her eyes.

She made a draw.

She looked at the Monster on the card.

Hope this works, she thought.

"I summon Royal Firestorm Guards!" she shouted.

In a fiery aura, a new Monster appeared. It was a bizarre creature, somewhat reptilian, with a humanoid torso atop a serpentine lower body. Its face had four eyes and a scalp covered with horn-like protrusions, and its long arms had four wing-like appendages on their undersides. (1,700 ATK) –) (2,200 ATK)

"Guards?" said Sonja. "As in plural? I only see one creature. Why is it called Guards?"

"You know…" said Ember. "I often wonder that myself…

"But anyway… By Normal Summoning it, I get to take four Pyro-Type Monsters from my Graveyard…"

She took Urquizas, Flame Ruler, Inferno, and Molten Zombie from her discard slot.

"Then I add them to my deck, reshuffle, and make two draws."

She shuffled, and then drew twice.

"Think I'll use both of them! I first play Double Summon!"

She quickly played the Spell Card.

"Now I get a second Normal Summon. And I'll use it to summon Rose, Warrior of Revenge!"

In a burst of flame, the leather-clad female Warrior holding a dagger appeared next to the Pyro. (1,600 ATK) –) (2,100 ATK)

"Now… I Tune both of my Monsters together!"

Rose's eyes burned with flame. Then she and Royal Firestorm Guards flew into the sky, and faded into eight glowing stars…

"Synchro Summon… Jalal the Dragonborn!"

In a flash of light, Jalal's avatar alighted on Ember's side of the field. The two sphinxes growled in anger… (2,600 ATK)

"So…" said Sonja. "I summon the aspects of my benefactors, and you summon the aspect of yours to face them… How ironic…

"How utterly useless. Andro Sphinx is stronger."

"But I'm going to use Jalal's effect," said Ember. "I pay half my Life Points… And I get to remove one Spell or Trap Card in either Graveyard from play.

"And I think I know just the one…"

She glowed with a red aura, and a card fell out of Sonja's discard slot. She was surprised to see that it was her Lightning Vortex.

Jalal's sword glowed, and a golden rune appeared on it.

"Now, I remove the Rune Counter from Jalal's sword, to duplicate the effect of that Spell!

"I'm sending your sphinxes back where they came from…"

Jalal raised his sword to the sky, and lightning flashed. Sphinx Teleia and Andro Sphinx let out unearthly screams as lightning struck them and they were reduced to ashes.

Then Ember noticed something was wrong.

The whole room had become shrouded with an eerie fog… And Sonja was smiling.

"Fool…" she said. "You did just what I wanted you to do…

"My parents were not only mates, little girl… Like Kronos and Rhea, like Zeus and Hera, they were also siblings…

"But they only had one parent… Their parent was one of a group of abominations that existed on Earth even before the Titans, a primordial being of unspeakable power…

"And I can Special Summon it to the field by paying 500 Life Points when both its children are destroyed in the same instant. Come forth…

"Theinen the Great Sphinx!"

Ember stepped back in fear as a Monster even bigger than the previous two Sphinxes towered over the field. It was just as big as Worm Victory. The best way to describe it was to say it combined features from both Sphinx Teleia and Andro Sphinx. From the waist down, it had Sphinx Teleia's body, but was far more muscular and had bigger wings. From the waist up, it had a humanoid torso, but was bare-chested and looked even more demonic than Andro Sphinx. The most frightening part was its head, which had two faces. It had a male face on the front, and a female face on the back, both of which didn't suggest anything but rage and bloodlust. (3,500 ATK)

Ember gulped hard. She looked at the two remaining cards in her hand.

This is going to take perfect timing… she thought.

She fit both of them into her Disk, and both appeared facedown.

"It's…" she stammered. "It's your move…"

(E: 2,275) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,700)

Sonja chuckled as she drew a card.

"Perfect," she said, looking at it. "If one of those facedown cards is a Trap that can destroy Theinen, then by all means, feel free to use it!

"Theinen, murder that mongrel! Primordial roar!"

Theinen's eyes glowed with a savage energy. It opened its jaws to let loose a howl that would likely be twice as devastating as the one uttered by Andro Sphinx…

"Go, Trap Card!" shouted Ember, as one of her facedown cards shot up. "DNA Transplant! Now, I can change Jalal's Attribute to Fire!

"That means he gains the benefit from the Field Spell…"

Jalal's Attack Score rose to 3,100.

"Fool…" chuckled Sonja. "Your Trap Card affects Theinen as well! So he also gains the benefit!"

Theinen's eyes glowed even fiercer… (4,000 ATK)

Then it let out its roar, and this time, cracks appeared in the roof of the temple around them. Ember was barely able to trigger her other Trap.

"Go, Martyr's Flame!" she shouted, as it shot up. "Since Jalal is a Fire Monster now, this forces Theinen's attack to hit me instead, and cuts the damage in half!"

Then Ember screamed as the most intense wave of force she ever felt slammed into her, sweeping her up like a leaf, and throwing her backwards and against the wall.

She slowly looked up. She coughed, and blood dribbled out of her mouth.

(E: 275) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,700)

"You must be insane…" said Sonja. "No sane being would have willingly taken Theinen's roar that was meant for someone else…"

Ember got up, and held her chest.

"I… I lost 2,000 Life Points…" she moaned. "But I saved Jalal… And he's the only one who stands a chance of defeating that thing…"

"I'd like to see him try it…" said Sonja.

She fit the card in her Disk, and it appeared facedown.

"Make your move…"

Ember paused.

She dared me to use a card that would destroy Theinen, she thought. That means that the one card she had in her hand last turn, the one she just set, was My Body as a Shield. It can negate any card effect that destroys a Monster.

She looked at her deck.

Here goes…

She made a draw.

"I summon Familiar-Possessed Hiita!" she exclaimed, playing it.

In a burst of fire, the older version of Hiita, holding her ruby-tipped staff, with her fox by her side, appeared. (1,850 ATK) –) (2,350 ATK)

"Big deal," said Sonja.

"It is a big deal," said Ember, "because I'm using Jalal's effect a second time.

"I'll cut my Life Points in half again…"

(E: 138) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,700)

Another Spell Card slipped out of Sonja's discard slot.

Sonja gasped. It was her copy of Shrink.

Jalal's sword glowed, and the Rune Counter appeared on it.

Then he lifted his sword, and it glowed with eldritch energy. Theinen the Great Sphinx roared in rage. (2,250 ATK)

"This can't be!" she shouted.

"Oh, but it is," said Ember. "Hiita, topple that titan with fire magic!"

Hiita leapt into the air towards the colossal Beast. It bellowed, but she made a mighty blast of arcane energy with her staff.

The Great Sphinx fell to the ground with a great crash, and then exploded in a fiery conflagration that shook the whole temple even further.

"Jalal…" ordered Ember, "attack directly and finish this duel!"

The Dragonborn charged at Sonja, and smote the evil sorceress with his blade. She screamed, and was propelled against the altar.

She slumped over.

(E: 138) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 0)

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Back in our world, in Draco's office, Shichiro, Jinx, and Gears were looking out the window, watching in dismay as the rain came down harder.

"People!" shouted Jalal.

They all turned, and saw that the aura surrounding the Regalia of Day was fading.

"Ember did it!" said Jalal. "The protective spell is disrupted somehow!"

"Then what are you waiting for?" asked Shichiro.

Jalal drew his sword.

"Brace yourselves people…" he said. "When powerful magic items go, they tend to go big…"

He swung his sword down, smashing through the Silver Hemisphere…

The four Shadowchasers hung on as a wave of energy ripped through the whole floor of the building and the two floors directly above and below, shattering every window…

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Sonja got up. She didn't levitate this time. She stood up.

"What's happening?" she gasped.

She concentrated.

"No… NO!" she shouted. "The Regalia of Day is losing power! The Deluge being dispelled!"

She started to concentrate again.

"NO!" she screamed. "I can't renew it! I've lost the focus!"

Ember looked at her.

So she never intended to stop it, she thought, regardless of who won the duel. Why doesn't that surprise me?

"YOU!" shouted Sonja, pointing to Ember. "I don't know how this happened, but I'm sure it's your fault!"

She pointed her staff at Ember. Ember slowly backed up.

Then Sonja froze in fear. Thunder rolled.

She turned to the altar, where a glowing aura of light was starting to appear…

"Tell me, Sonja," asked Ember, "did the Light of Ruin have anything to gain from you destroying the Earth?"

Sonja didn't answer. She was paralyzed with fright.

"I think it did," continued Ember. "And now that plan is ruined…

"Well, Sonja… Seems you have some explaining to do…"

Ember would have loved to see what punishment the Light had in store for Sonja, but seeing as the Light of Ruin was an evil cosmic entity dedicated to, well, evil, she figured she was better off not staying around to find out. She turned and ran the way she had come, not daring to look back.

As she did, lightning started to flash over the abandoned city, and the whole place started to shake.

"Stormbringer!" she shouted. "Stormbringer!

"Aw, crap, it's not working!"

"Ember!" called a voice.

Ember stopped short. She knew that voice…

"Mr. Draco?" she exclaimed.

"Yes, it's me, Ember!" said the voice. "Or what's left of me. Follow my voice…"

"You think I'm going to trust you?" asked Ember.

"What choice do you have?" asked Draco. "This island city is going to sink in a few minutes. You do not want to be on it!

"I was a knight at heart, Ember… I may have lost my right to call myself one, but I still remember that I once followed a code of chivalry not unlike the one that human knights followed.

"Now please… Follow my voice."

Ember knew he was right. She didn't have a choice. She ran in the direction of the voice, just as the buildings around her started to crumble.

"That's right," said Draco. "This way…"

Ember turned a corner, down a road, and saw a glowing portal.

There was no time to ask questions. She dove through it.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Ember let out a cry as she fell, stumbling into the office.

"Grab her!" shouted Jalal.

Jinx and Shichiro helped her up.

"Ember?" asked Gears. "It's a miracle… The connection we had to you was broken! We thought we had lost you…"

Ember gasped for breath.

"Well…" said Jalal. "In the Astral Plane, sometimes the power of the mind can point a dimensional traveler in the right direction. Ember's desperate desire to get home was likely what enabled her to do so."

Jinx laughed.

"Maybe some of my luck just rubbed off on her," she added.

"People," said Shichiro. "Have you been in this business so long that you simply don't believe in miracles?"

Ember took a deep breath.

"Actually, you're all wrong…" she said. "I had help…"

She paused.

"Draco guided me back… A small piece of his spirit remained, and he used it to help me.

"After all that happened, after becoming a ruthless business tycoon, after being forced into this insane plan, he remembered who he used to be… A heroic knight who fought the enemies of his people."

Jalal sighed and put his hand on her shoulder.

"May he rest in peace…" he whispered.

"Look…" said Gears, looking out the window. "The sun is rising…"

They all looked.

"Y'know…" he said. "You can see the sun rise so many times… But there are times when you see it when it just means more…"

"Jalal…" said Ember. "I have a question…"

Jalal looked at her.

"That woman…" said Ember. "She said that the Power Primordial was a force of Water… If she's right that means that the power of my soul opposes one of the greatest forces in the universe.

"Is she right?"

"It's hard to say," said Jalal. "The Power Primordial is an ancient, mysterious power that very few can understand…

"I suppose some Water might be in it… Life begins in the sea, and water is needed for life to exist…

"But Ember… Most theorists believe that the universe was born in something called the Big Bang… An explosion with greater force than billions of supernovas, which was believed to be hotter than anything that has ever since been created.

"Certainly then, if something with such astronomically high temperature created the universe, then the Power Primordial must have some Fire in it too, wouldn't you say?"

Shichiro grinned.

"This is why he's the boss," he said.

"Never thought of that," said Ember.

Jinx put her arm around Ember. They looked at the rising sun.

"Such a strange world…" said Jinx.

Jalal extended his hand to Ember.

"Welcome to the Shadowchasers, Michiko…" he said.

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Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking with it. Whether you believe it or not, well, that's up to you.

The Deluge only lasted a few hours, and in the end, it helped the Earth more than it hurt it. Like Jalal said, those few hours brought life-giving rain to many nations suffering from drought and famine. I guess there's a bright side to everything.

Jalal's concern that sundering the Regalia of Day would upset the international elven and dwarven community was premature. Several powerful clans from both races were shocked to learn that an artifact they had cooperated to create could be used for such an evil purpose, and many important members of their clans came to the conclusion that had the two races never broken their alliance, the Regalia would never have separated and this all would never have happened. Representatives from several elf and dwarf clans are now meeting in hopes of burying the past and ending their rivalry once and for all, and the Shadowchasers are acting as mediators. With any luck, something good might come from this.

As for the three Swords, they were distributed among three clans of dwarves, who know how to use them best; exactly which clans and where they live is a secret known only to the high levels of the Shadowchasers.

With DaPen, Edmund, and Draco dead, and Sonja's fate unknown, only one criminal known to have knowingly cooperated in the plan will face justice: Hebi-Na. Her first court date will be scheduled as soon as her sanity is evaluated. Although lawyers often jump at the chance to defend high-profile criminals, this is not the case with ophidia. Lawyers know that defending them is a big headache that they don't want. In fact, at the end of Saramanda's trial, her lawyer said that it had taken incredible willpower to do his job, and would give up practicing law before he ever defended another "accursed snake". Who could blame him? Saramanda showed him no gratitude, and insulted him the whole time. For this reason, appointing a lawyer will be difficult, and will likely be a Shadowkind species known for having no emotions.

The ceremony where I was formally inducted into the organization was a gala event that I won't forget for a long time. I was thrilled when Jalal actually let my parents and cousin attend. Sure, they were told it was for an academic honor society that I had been accepted to, but the fact that they were proud of me was satisfying enough for me, even if they weren't proud for the real reason.

It seems that, like Draco, I've gotten my own Knight's Title…

The story has already started to spread. I have a feeling it has been exaggerated after being retold a few times. I've gotten more than one letter from Shadowkind, from simple praise, to offers from Shadowkind artists who want to do my portrait, to letters asking if I have any intentions of replacing Jalal if he ever retires. One gnome joker already commented that he wonders who'll be playing me in the movie.

After what I did, Jalal would have gladly given me any assignment I wanted at any location, globally. But I just couldn't leave the three folks who had helped me throughout my apprenticeship.

And even though I am no longer an apprentice, they have continued to teach me over the past month. I was given a real sword, forged by blacksmiths of the Ironhand Clan, and Jinx has been teaching me how to use it.

Gears has been teaching me how to drive a D-Wheel, and has promised to build one for me as soon as I get my license. I've been studying to take the test, and have already been working on a deck for Turbo Duels.

Like I said at the beginning, there's so much to see in this world, and so much that most people miss. So much that folks take for granted. It's such a shame that the biggest wonders the world has to offer have to remain hidden from most… But then again, if everyone knew about Shadowkind, it likely wouldn't be very pleasant.

Oh, and in case you're wondering if Shichiro and I are going out… Well, not yet, I'm afraid. He hasn't exactly shown any real interest that I can see…

But I do know one bit of good news about Shichiro… He managed to make peace with his old apprentice…

Shichiro drove his D-Wheel into a large parking lot, as the sun was beginning to set. As he did so, another D-Wheeler on a fire engine-red D-Wheel was waiting for him.

The two duelists dismounted, removed their helmets, and looked at each other. The other D-Wheeler was a young man with black hair wearing a blue jacket with a high collar over a black shirt and jeans. A criminal mark was on the left side of his face.

On his right arm was a strange symbol. It looked vaguely like the outline of a dragon's head.

"Hey, Yusei," said Shichiro. "How long has it been?"

"Rather long…" said Yusei. "Since everything went… wrong…"

"I dunno, Yusei…" said Shichiro. "I always thought you were special… I wanted to get you out of Satellite, turn your skills into something we could use…"

"I wanted to leave on my own terms," replied Yusei. "And I simply couldn't see what you could see, no matter how hard I tried…"

"I know, and now look…" said Shichiro.

He pointed to the mark on Yusei's arm.

"Turns out you were special… Just not the way I figured… Seems you became somewhat of a hero on your own."

"The world will always have problems, Shichiro," said Yusei. "And they will always need folks to handle them…

"But not all of them will need Shadowchasers."

Shichiro sighed.

"Ain't it the truth…" he said.

He smirked.

"What do you say? One more time for old time's sake?"

Yusei looked at him.

"How can I say no to someone who so many of my best Monsters seem to like?" he said.

The two Duel Disks activated…


I hope you enjoyed "Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's: Shadowchasers".

There will be a sequel, as this fic has been more of a success than I planned. But for now, I'm going to take a break for a while. I cannot say when my new Shadowchasers fic will come out, but it won't be until at least the New Year. Until then, now's your chance to read this one all over again.

Until then, anyone who desires can send me a Shadowchaser File. I'd love to see them.

Until next time…