Chapter Seven Wrath of the Guardian
"I've only seen stuff like this in picture books and the internet!" Anzu awed as Jazzel walked them under a rand arch of the temple entrance. The stone was solid gold and had hieroglyphics etched into every inch of it. All telling stories of the Beast Gods and how they were locked up in the first place.
"Master Atem once rode with me out here on a joy ride after a gazelle hunt. I've never been this close though…" Jazzel tossed her head as she too looked around with wide-eyed appreciation.
As Jazel walked into the temple, the golden walls reflected Anzus and Jazzels reflections with a healthy shine, but he granite floors were dusty and under kept scrolls lay battered and scattered about, some even torn as if by claws. The temple seemed abandoned as well and from the looks of things- it was a struggle.
"What happened here…?" Anzu thought aloud.
Jazzel suddenly tensed and tossed her head nervously. The mare slowly backed up with a whimper of uncertainty.
"Jazzel?" Anzu yelped in alarm when the mare's muscles tensed underneath her.
"I don't like this. Not one bit! I think we should leave now." Jazzel started to turn around, intent on getting out of the strange place.
"But Jazzel, we can't leave now!" Anzu tugged back on the mare's mane, "Look how far we've come!"
"I don't like it here!" Jazzel insisted, taking another step back as she tossed her head and gave a low grunt of nervousness, "Let's leave now please!" the mare turned her body slightly to face the way they came, but Anzu held her back with a tug of her mane.
"What don't you like about it-," a low growl echoing the halls of the suddenly dark temple startled Anzu and Jazzel to silence, "Wha-What was that?"
"Now I reeeeaaaally don't like it here!" the mare's head was held high as she turned about quickly, intent on bolting out the way they came, but a dark shadow blocked the entry way to the temple. Jazzel squealed and bolted the other direction, deeper into the temple, before Anzu got a good look at what had blocked them, but she didn't question Jazzels sudden desire to distance them from the threat. Her skin instantly prickled with fear as goose bumps inflamed over her skin and her heart pounded as she clung to Jazzels back desperately as the mare wove around the pillars of the temple. Her hooves pounded in a four-beat rhythm under them as the mare scrambled to escape the snarls behind them. Clawed feet ticked against the marble floor behind them as their pursuer gave chase, if anything, it sounded either much larger than a horse or it was very heavy-footed.
Jazzel took a whip-lashing right turn so suddenly that Anzu fell from her back and rolled on the marble floor. She tumbled until she was stopped by the wall that had caused Jazzel's sudden turn, coughing and gasping for the breath that was knocked out of her. She slowly tucked an elbow under her and lifted her torso up enough to see what was going on, but the darkness of the poorly lit temple was near-blinding.
"Juh-JAZZEL?" she called, her voice echoing down empty corridors of the ancient temple of marble, ivory, gold and stone.
She could only make out shadows along the walls and could hear the echo of Jazzels hooves pounding on down another temple hall. There were no sounds of clawed feet coming anywhere. Soon it was only her harsh breathing, thumping heart, and rushing blood in her ears as eerie silence consumed her in a terrifying embrace. She didn't trust her quivering legs to hold her if she tried to stand so she stayed very still on the floor, trying to calm down enough to stand as she panted out her fear.
"You, Woman." A rumbling voice startled Anzu as its booming frequency bounced off the walls, confusing the actual direction where it must have come from, "Are you not the one they call Tamer?"
Anzu's breath hitched, her voice refused to reply as her body locked up in fear. At her silence, the voice seemed to release a frustrated growl, "ANSWER ME, WOMAN! ARE YOU OR ARE YOU NOT THE TAMER?"
Anzu pressed herself against the wall in a curl, terrified, "I-I-I don't know!" Anzu babbled.
She could hear a ruffling sound- as if feathers were fluffing up and being shaken the way a baffled parrot often did, "I grow tired of your human tendencies to fear." The voice grumbled. Her heart stopped beating for a split second when she heard the click-clack of sharp claws walking across the marble floors towards her and her feeble lit wall where a single burning torch flamed proudly in the night on a torch holder attached to a nearby pillar.
The first foot that stepped into the light had the look of a bird of prey. Three toes in front and one at the heel, each with claws the size of her head that gleamed like daggers in the firelight. A fifth toe was further up the leg with an even more dangerous looking claw than the others. The skin was dark and scaly in a bird-like way. Up to the elbow, the scales gave way to long wolfish fur the color of white snow. As the creature walked fully into the light, Anzu could only hold her breath in awe. Its front legs were that of a large bird-like creature while its hind legs were split-hoofed like a camel or a cow. Its torso was lean and muscled under long white fur, taking the athletic appearance of a carnivorous hunter. Its neck had thicker fur that was like a mane of silvery-white. The head was sleek and very canine, he looked like a white wolf from the neck up. He had a lashing tail that was, again, much like a wolf, but it fanned out more at the end, as if he used it as a rudder. He had two large, feathered white wings perched on his shoulders that folded into his body, they almost looked like Barn Owl wings. His golden eyes had no white to them as most animals did. It was simply a golden iris against a black eye. The gold matched the collar about his neck that was a single gold band with a golden chain connecting to golden cuffs around each of his front legs. He snarled at Anzu with saber-like canines.
Anzu could only gulp as the creature the size of that blasted thief's camel sat on its haunches and tucked its tail about its self, regarding her almost as broadly as a tomcat did before it pawed the death away from a cornered mouse in the barn.
"I'll ask again…," She was only half aware that it was actually speaking in human tongue, and even her own native Japanese, "Are you, or aren't you the one the call Tamer…?" its tail swayed behind it against the floor.
"I have…..I have been called…. That." She managed to squeak out.
Golden eyes leered at her, "Then you're to blame for tricking me into slumber while someone released the Three Beasts." It growled.
"What? I don't have any idea what you're-," she quickly tried to explain that she barely knew what the purpose of the Tamer was, let alone how to trick something like HIM into slumber!
"SILENCE!" it barked, the power behind his voice once again echoing the halls and even making a bit of dust fall from the ceiling as the walls shook with the after shocks of his power, "DO NOT TRY TO DENY YOUR SIN, WOMAN TAMER!" he snarled.
"But I-," Anzu's eyes widened as the great beast's wings opened slightly as his fur stood on end. A rumbling growl of frustration emitted from him as the wings sharply cut through the air. Though it was a small movement from him, the blast from the wind it stirred flattened Anzu against the wall behind her, strangely it took the air from her own lungs as well, and not just from impact. It was as if the blast of wind caused by its wings sucked the air from her very being. She could only choke for needed air to return to her as the beast crowded near her. Tears of strain and fright gathered in her eyes as she willingly flattened herself against the wall this time while the massive head lowered to her level- the massive snout snorting hot breath through large nostrils in her face.
"Repent for your sins, woman." The beast rumbled as her eyes locked with his. She was suddenly caught up in them, as if –no matter what- she could not look away, "Since you are the Tamer, I will be merciful." Golden eyes flashed white and Anzu felt another powerful gust of wind rush into her lungs, over filling them as if he was forcing air down her lungs- drowning her with air- go figure.
Anzu's world was starting to darken around her. Her lungs were being filled, but they weren't allowed to exhale at all and her body refused to even acknowledge the instinct to survive at all costs. For the most part, she thought that if this was the way she was to die, at least her body was completely relaxed and she was only feeling discomfort when she knew she should probably be feeling abnormal chest pains for her lungs being over expanded- apparently this beast could somehow suppress her pain for her. He was keeping his word.
The air was abruptly cut off from slamming into her lungs with a sudden sucking sound of wind as it stopped all movement completely. Anzu's lungs instinctively coughed out the excess air in massive exhales as she started to regain her breathing. Her eyesight was useless- she was fading in and out of vision clarity. Her ears were ringing from all the loud gushing of wind and her other senses were just as muddled. She fell the to the floor weakly, only able to lay there. She could feel the marble floor beneath her tremble rhythmically under her from the movements of the great beast- was he just going to leave her here?
As the ringing in her ears began to fade and her senses slowly started to clear up one by one, she could hear the melody of some kind of flute….
Who was playing the flute?
The melody was hypnotic and it willed the listener to want to relax. It gave you the feeling that you had no other desire other than to just lay back and rest. Anzu's body once again relaxed thankfully under its influence- it previously had been convulsing slightly, tightening and releasing tension with out moving from her prone spot on the floor. A low breathing nearby her was slowing to an even pace and she felt a large body curl around her as a large, scaly claw rest over her lightly- not harming her in the least. Gaining mobility again, Anzu lifted her head to see the avian claws of the beast lightly resting over her body as if putting a light cage over her. The beast its self was curled around her, its head resting on its forearm as it snored lowly in slumber. Her body shook as she got an up-close and personal view of the claws it could have unleashed on her.
"Are you alright?" Anzu looked up sharply in the other direction to see a young man in ratty robes much like what Bakura had forced on her when he stole her away. The hood was back and she could see his tanned face with strange dark designs under his violet eyes. A full head of silvery hair haloed around him in the moonlight. On the wrists that were holding the claws of the beast, Anzu could see golden wristbands bound tightly to his limbs- was he a slave?
"I-I'm fine." She replied breathily. Her blue eyes darting down to avoid the intense look of concern on the handsome young mans face-
Great…. She found three men attractive….
Her blue eyes spotted something that gleamed in the moonlight that was tucked into his sash around his waste, "Was it you who was playing the flute?"
"Flute?" the young man drew back confused, then his eyes followed her line of sight and he understood, "The Slumrus Tool? Yes, I am the holder of the Slumrus. Its an instrument used to tame dark beasts and emotions." He quickly explained as he once again took hold of the claws holding Anzu down lightly trapped under them, "However, it doesn't last for long and cannot be preformed twice in the same night." He started to try and urge the claws apart, but they wouldn't budge, "We gotta get you out of there before Nanuke awakens again," he grunted with effort as he started to pull at one claw, trying to get an opening going for Anzu to slide through, but once again the claws refused to release their prey.
"Nanuke?" Anzu blinked.
"The thing that's on top you. He's the guardian of the Three Beast Gods," the boy gritted his teeth as he gave up pulling and was trying to shove them apart now by leverage of his shoulder, "Damn over-sized half-buzzard!" he hissed and kicked the claw. The tip resting on the marble floor screeched as it slid diagonally slightly. The noise rivaled that of nails being run down a chalkboard! Both Anzu and the young man cringed and quickly turned to look at the beast that snorted in its sleep as if it were disturbed, each holding their breath in anticipation.
The beast simply whimpered puppy-like in its sleep and shifted its chin to its other forearm before settling once again and snoring away like nothing happened. Anzu and the young man let out a collected sigh of relief.
"Come'on, you should be able to wiggle your way out now," the young man knelt by the small opening of claws that was slightly wider than the rest. Anzu carefully maneuvered her body so she could slip out the small opening- ever thankful for her dancer-boy limberness. She was able to get her head positioned by the opening and slid out slowly on her back. Once her torso was cleared, the young man gently grasped her under her arms to help drag her out- much to her embarrassment, since his hands were awfully close to something she normally didn't let men touch.
"Good, you're safe now." The young man seemed very relieved and then raised a brow at her, "Do you make it a habit of running head long into danger? Why didn't you stay in the caravan?"
"Running head-long- wait a minute! Who the hell are you?" she hissed alarmed.
"I, Malik Ishtar, just saved you from said danger you could have avoided if you had just stayed put in the thief's caravan until I could rescue you, Ms. Tamer-who-yet-has-a-name…?" he waited expectantly.
"Anzu Mazaki." She replied much thought, "Look, no matter how stalker-ish you seem right now, you didn't happen to see what happened to the mare that I rode here, did you?"
"Hmmm," his lips twisted curiously with each syllable as he tried out her name, "Annnnzoooo Maaah-Zaah-…MaahZaahKeey? Strange name. You really aren't from around here are you?" he ignored her request.
"Have you seen her or haven't you?" Anzu demanded a bit loudly as she grabbed his collar to show she meant business.
"What do you care if you lose a horse? Its not like there's not that many around to replace it." He replied as if she were a delusional person worried about finding a penny she dropped.
"Jazzel is not just some horse." She scoffed, "Now have you seen her?" she tightened her grip on his collar.
"No, I haven't, but if she is as special to you as you seem to think, she probably just escaped the temple and is waiting somewhere outside at a safe distance for you." he gently pried her hands away from his collar, "Don't tell me you can hear her speak to you like the legends say you can. Is the whole thousand tongue thing really true or is that an allusion to uh…. Something else?" why was he blushing like that?
Suddenly it dawned on Anzu as she watched his violet eyes dart to and away from her lips just as embarrassed now, as he was, "No-no, its true- the talking to animals is true and I assume you're speaking Egyptian to me since I can understand you as well."
Malik once again regarded her as if she had grown a second head, "Of course I'm speaking to you in Egyptian, woman, can't you tell?" he shook his head, "What do you think you're speaking?"
"My native tongue happens to be Japanese, which I thought I was speaking to you people until PRINCY decided to kiss his language into me!" she blushed furiously as Malik stood, waiting for her to do the same. He felt they had loitered for long enough in the slumbering guardians presence.
He took a double-take when he processed exactly what she just said, "Japa-what? And what's this with the kissing and Princy person?" He watched her as she stood and bypassed him to walk out the temple, his violet eyes watching her expectantly for her to answer as he followed her on their way out of the temple's maze of tunnels.
"Forget about the language- it's a few hundred years in the coming, but yeah. Prince Atem was the first Egyptian that I understood because he helped my gift of tongues recognize the Egyptian language." She explained in an almost flippant way that didn't help ease the sudden heat in Maliks chest.
"So he kissed you? I thought the gift was supposed to let you speak any tongue!" he scoffed as he stalked behind her in a bad mood suddenly.
"Yeah, apparently only animal languages are an automatic knowledge to the gift. Human languages I have to kiss a speaker of that language or they have to kiss me." She shrugged, not seeing the falter in his step.
"Is that so?" he lowered his head to glare at he floor as his eyes flashed red, "Did you enjoy it?"
Anzu stopped slowly and turned to him with a taken-aback look, "I don't see how that's any of your business." She said, trying to hide the shrill of surprise in her tone and the hot blush across her cheeks.
But she couldn't keep that from his sharp eyes, nor the sudden spike of her scent from his heightened senses, "You did, didn't you," his voice lowered as barely contained hatred towards prince Atem sized him.
"Look, pal-yeek!" she cut off with a yelp as he suddenly appeared before her, holding her wrists in his fists. He wasn't hurting her, but she had the feeling that if she struggled, he wouldn't exactly let her go…
"That bastar- wait…" his nose twitched as he took in her scent, "Did you…" he bowed his head to breath in her scent near her neck, she could feel small puffs of air tickle her neck as he satisfied his inquisition with her scent before he drew back with a disgusted look. It almost looked as if he were a child that had just been forced to drink the nasty cherry-flavored medicine to help his cold, "Tell me you didn't sleep with him!"
"I DID NOT SLEEP WITH THAT PRINCE-GUY!" Anzu didn't bother to whisper as she full out yelled in his ears, but he endured it.
"Not ATEM!" Malik gritted his teeth as his hands tightened their grip slightly on her wrists, making her wince, "Though he's not much better…" He grumbled under his breath with a dry look now that he thought about the pompous prince, "That thief! BAKURA!" he snapped.
Neither took in to consideration that they were still well with in the temple's halls, or that the beast's heavy breathing was no longer heard….
"I NEVER-," Anzu's tongue suddenly felt heavy as she remembered the way she woke up…. With Bakura….
"I never had SEX with that asshole!" she corrected herself.
"But he did share your bed?" he growled as his eyes darkened a deeper hue of red.
"Look, what do you-," she was about to put the man in his place, but a sudden impact from behind Malik tossed them over and sent them tumbling away across the marble floors. The lashing tail of the now awake beast whiplashed back away as the canine-head curved like a hooded cobra as it bore its fangs.
"GGGGRRROOOOAARRAAAH!" it roared in rage as it charged.
Malik grabbed Anzu and rolled them out of the way just in time to miss being trampled. The beast had trouble slowing down since its claws weren't made for balancing on polished marble with no traction. It slid away and stumbled over itself trying to turn too quickly to get to them again.
"Are you alright?" Malik panted.
"I will be once you get OFF!" Anzu kneed him in the gut. Malik grunted at the sudden pain and winced as he rolled off her. he had rolled them over out of the way and pressed his body close to hers to keep her from injury, but it had put them in a …. Compromising position.
"Did you have to knee me there?" Malik coughed as he pushed himself up to his hands and knees glaring at her as best he could though it was through a grimace, "You could have GELDED me!"
"INCOMING!" Anzu screamed.
They both tossed themselves in opposite directions to avoid another charge from the enraged guardian. This time, it was ready and more nimble and quickly turned after Anzu, claws bared.
"ANZU!" Malik gasped as it pawed Anzu like a cat toy, watching her slid across the floor and slamming into Maliks body. He wrapped himself around her as best he could to absorb most of the impact, "Hey, are you hurt?"
"It didn't claw me," Anzu shook her head no.
"It's coming back!" Malik grimaced as the guardian roared and leaped in the air to pounce on them, trapping them between its front claws. Malik had forced Anzu under himself to block her from any attack the beast tried.
"WAIT- MALIK!" Anzu yelped as the beast tilted its head and sniffed at his back. It snarled in rage when it realized this wasn't its target. The man was hiding the woman it had been determined to kill before- once again blocking it from its kill.
It pinned them both with one clawed foot, a claw resting above Maliks back, poised to do some damage.
"Let go of the female and your life is spared, male." The deep voice of the guardian rumbled, "You are not the one I must kill to repent."
"SCREW YOU!" Malik spat over his shoulder as he tried his best to keep his weight off Anzu as the claw behind him bore down on them, "Anzu! Get the hell outta here!"
"BUT-," Anzu gasped as Malik cried out in pain. His body shuddered above her as the large claw poised above him started to dig into his flesh, "MALIK!"
"GO!" he gritted out, "GO NOW!" he shoved her from under him, "RUN! IT CAN'T WANDER OUT OF THE TEMPLE! THE GAURDIAN IS BOUND TO THE INNER WALLS- GRAAAAH!" he hissed in pain as the large claw scratched against him deeply and suddenly as the beast's attention was distracted towards Anzu's sudden escape from under the 'male'.
"WOMAN TAMER!" the guardian hissed as it lunged for her, leaving Malik abandoned on the floor and wounded terribly across his back. Nanuke's wings flew open as much as they could given the tight space of the halls. They once again cut through the air and sent Anzu spiraling forward off her feet. She collided with the ground with a smack she knew she would feel later- if she survived for later. The marble floors kept her sliding until she could see the moonlight from outside- she was almost free!
But what about Malik?
She turned in time to see the guardian barreling towards her with death intent on her! She screamed in surprise and started to backpedal away from it. Nanuke once again had her pinned under its claw in a matter of seconds as it growled in an avian/wolfish way, "You cannot escape fate!" Nanuke declared, "You will not be spared this time!" he lowered his fangs down towards her, ready to do damage when he jerked back in pain.
Nanuke screamed as he pulled back from Anzu, shaking his head. He roared loudly as he slammed bodily into a wall, as if trying to knock something invisible off him that was hurting him. Anzu could only stare- not quite understanding that he hadn't killed her yet.
Anzu didn't turn to the voice, but strong arms with cool metallic golden arm bands scooped her up and held her close as Atem fell to his knees and gathered her up to himself, "are you alright?" his eyes were a mixture of his autumn violet and golden amber as his beast was very close to the surface.
"Hands off my woman prince-boy." Bakura growled in warning as he appeared beside them. His eyes completely golden and glowing as he stared at the beast- he was somehow attacking it! Was it the power of Slyfer?
"Soon as I take care of Nanuke, you had better not be touching her!" Bakura snarled, unable to look at them since he had to keep his eyes locked on the beast, Nanuke to keep the spell going.
Atem merely glared up at Bakura before looking over Anzu, "I don't think anything's broken, but you are bruised!" he fussed over her, "We need to get you back to the palace as soon as possible! KATSUYA! KAIBA!" he called over his shoulder.
"No- I can't leave him!" Anzu struggled against the young pharaohs hold.
"I think its best to say this is for the best that you leave beasty here." Katusya said out of breath as he and Seto were immediately at their lords side, keeping a guard up with the rampaging guardian falling back slowly into the temple.
"Not him- MALIK! He's wounded badly and still in the temple!" Anzu freed herself from Atem's hold and started running back into the temple, startling all four men. Bakura lost his contact with the beast and so lost the spell he held on it. Nanuke shook its head to clear it and roared as it retreated, too weakened mentally to fight back. It completely bypassed Anzu for now and slipped into one of the other hallways that lead to its den deeper with in the temple.
"ANZU!" Atem called after her as Bakura was already pursuing her. He growled in chagrin that the thief still followed her about, "DON'T GO RUNNING OFF ALONE!"
"The same can be said for you," Seto rolled his eyes as he and Katsuya followed after him.