Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh or any characters from Yugioh described in this fic.

Author notes: This fic is set in Ancient Egypt and Sumer (the lower portion of Mesopotamia in 3000 BC). The events making up the storyline are based on canon, but do not adhere to it, in that it describes the battle between Atem and Bakura, Bakura's subsequent defeat and imprisonment and a different fate for the Millenium Items. The necessary map can be found on my profile for referral purposes.

The River of Thought

There is silence at initiation of the waters. The Armenian hills echo with the soft chime of falling water as the Euphrates is born, pouring in pure iridiscence to the awaiting rock pools below. Captured and locked in the strong embrace of rocks, the stream narrows, gushing towards the valleys of the Taurean mountains, ever gaining in volume. The roaring waters pass, still fresh, to the awaiting Fertile Crescent. The river of purity passes the eagle's eyerie, the mountain goat's indifferent eye.

The first signs of decay show themselves as the waters churn up the rich silt of the valley, dragging its murky burden to the lush green hills awaiting it. The river of murk passes the villages, the farms, the irrigation channels and the men and women, ankle deep in mud and sludge. It carries their whispers, of darkness, of illness, of dread to the cities.

The river of fear passes though the cities of Lagash and Ur, absorbing their foetid breath, the decay and despair at their hearts. The river of thought, of disease and corruption, flows to the sea.

It was dark in the cell. He could not distinguish his own fingers through the gloom, and waving them about sent harsh jolts of pain flaming along his nerves. He knew that this was only part of his punishment, this chained and solitary vigil in the bowelsof the palace. His wounds were raw and throbbing with imminent infection. Arms and legs bound to metal brackets set into the wall at angles designed to cause acute discomfort, he shifted slightly, muscles screaming with prolonged strain. Matted white hair, once gleaming in unique defiance, lay against his cheeks, putrid with vomit and his own blood. He heard a rat rustle amongst the rotting straw scattered over the cell floor and lifted his head, eyes glinting with undiluted rage into the darkness.

He had lost. The weightless sensation around his neck where the Millenium Ring had once hung dragged him down worse than any previous failure had done. It was gone. Back into the Pharoah's hands, to be handed over to Mahado's apprentice when she was fully trained. His Millenium Ring. His people's. He could feel them surround him in the shadows, silent and mocking, their cold, dead eyes holding silent reproval. He had failed them.

A low growl escaped the captive's lips, helpless and enraged. He could not summon his Ka. Diabound's presence was barely tangible over the fever and delirium. But he was there. Waiting to be unleashed again. He just didn't have the key. The Thief King closed his eyes and lowered his proud head in the shadows of his cell, where none but the dead could see.

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"My Pharoah, you summoned me." Seth's deep, confident voice echoed through the audience chambers as he approached his Monarch, seated at the head of the conference table. Atem looked up, his weary features relaxing into a smile at the sight of his most trusted advisor and High Priest. Seth bowed low and seated himself to the right.

"Seth, my dear friend, I never got to thank you properly for your part in defeating Bakura."

Seth looked slightly discomforted and Atem smiled. He had never been one for shows of affection. Seth coughed. "Indeed, my Pharoah. There remains the question of Bakura's public execution."

"Yes," breathed Atem with a sigh. "Once his period of solitary confinement is over, I'll trust that you announce his execution to the people."

"My Pharoah, do you really think it's wise, allowing him a period of recuperation before his death?" asked the High Priest, a slightly worried expression crossing his features, "You know how resilient he is. He may attempt something . . ."

"His Ka has been contained, Seth. Our combined attacks saw to that. He is nothing but a weakened, bitter man. There is no physical danger from him."

Seth frowned, still unconvinced. "All the same, I think you should bring the execution forward. Let it occur in three days time, he will still be weak."

Atem nodded slowly. "Perhaps you are right. Inform the executioner and send out runners to all the assembly points of the city."

"It is done, my Pharoah."

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Light shifted across his vision. Eyelids gummed together with sweat and grime opened blearily as the numerous bolts and levers holding him captive were undone and the cell door pushed open.

"Here's the scum," said a rough male voice and a hand, matching the voice in texture, tugged his hair up brutally and pinched the bridge of his nose. The clink of scimitars and the glint of torchlight on gilt breastplates told him that the elite Pharoah's troops had been sent down to prevent any escape attempts. His air supply cut off, Bakura opened his mouth to gasp for air and was rewarded with a piece of mouldy bread. He gagged, choking on the rock-like crust as it was cruelly forced down his throat, tearing through the soft tissue. The clink of a bottle cap was heard and icy water followed the bread. The man who had him by the hair deliberately tilted back his head such that some water flooded his nostrils and poured into his eyes. Wheezing and twisting away desperately, Bakura shot him a venemous glare, an expression that had once sent brave men scampering for their lives. Now all it earned was a harsh laugh and a heavy blow to the side of his head.

His vision blurring over, Bakura's rage surfaced once more, an irrational, animalisitc flare. He lunged forward, feeling his teeth meet in the flesh of the man's forearm, hearing a satisfying shout of pain. He hung on, feeling the meat tear slightly between his pointed teeth as a heavy sword butt came down hard between his eyes. They beat him then, re-opening old wounds, smashing in the new. He screamed, he thrashed, he howled in rage and laughed at his own impotence as they drove him deeper and deeper into agony and despair. And then, just before the darkness took him, he saw how it was to be done.