Disclaimer: The following piece is in no way a claim to ownership of the depicted characters. Yu-Gi-Oh, Yu-Gi-Oh R, Yu-Gi-Oh GX and Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's are owned by TV Tokyo, Konami Corporation and Kazuki Takahashi. The song with which this fanfiction document shares its name is the property of Sarah Brightman. This story as presented is strictly for entertainment purposes, both for its owner and readers.

Chapter 1 – "Will I ever be Free?" The Night the Darkness Came

Lying alone in the spare bed of Judai's loft, Aki stared up at the ceiling as she thought about the man's generosity. Her own apartment was not yet within her ownership, so Judai was letting her stay at his place until she did. And to her, the large penthouse Judai paid for with money from his pro dueling career, made her feel truly safe and comfortable.

Hearing the door creak open, the girl noticed the crack of light from the hall because it contrasted the blackness of her room. Standing in the doorway was Judai, smiling at the girl to keep her in a positive state of mind. The two of them both needed it in the aftermath of everything that had occurred.

It had been 3 months since the incident with Darkness and Godwin. The pentagram on Aki's forehead had healed over, and she had grown closer to everybody around her. She had begun dating Yusei, but she still also had some sexual tension with the Spirit-wielding Pro Duelist.

"How are you doing?" Judai asked, entering the room slowly. Aki had been suffering from pneumonia for the past couple of weeks – she'd been almost confined to bed.

"I'm managing," the girl replied hoarsely. "My, uh…" she swallowed. Her mouth was dry from the antibiotics. "My breathing is a little slow… but I'll be fine." With a concerned look now showing on Judai's face, she added, "Really I'll be fine."

"Well," Judai nodded, "If you need any help we'll be downstairs." Smiling, Aki turned her head off to one side and closed her eyes as Judai turned around and stepped out the door.

Closing it behind him, he walked down the stairs to the common room, where Yusei, Jack, Crow, Johan and Manjyoume sat at a round table with a deck of playing cards in the middle. "How's Aki doing?" Yusei asked solemnly.

Stepping over to an empty chair and taking a seat Judai replied, "She says she'll be fine." Picking up the deck of cards in the middle, he began to shuffle them as Yubel's spirit image appeared beside him. Johan and Manjyoume could see her, but because the three from Satellite could not she said nothing, simply standing there as Judai finished shuffling and dealt 2 cards out to everyone.

"500," Crow called, tossing 5 red chips into the centre. Jack and Johan threw in the same amount, but when it got to Manjyoume he picked up a white chip instead.

"Raise: 1000." Tossing the white chip in the middle, Yusei and Judai did the same while the others tossed in 5 more red each.

Ever since the craziness of the events that had unfolded, everyone had needed some sort of way to get away from Duel Monsters every now and again. Poker offered a good outlet; a card game that was about luck – and the ability to see that luck. Yusei had the best poker face – absolute stoicism.

Picking up the deck, Judai pulled the top card and put it face-down on the table. After that, he pulled three new cards and put them up: 10 of Diamonds, 8 of Spades, Ace of Diamonds. "Pretty spread-out cards," he observed, putting the deck down. Looking at his own 2, he saw that his odds were good.

"Indeed," Johan noted, smiling slightly as he checked over his own hand. Normally smiling is a bad idea in poker, but with Johan's usual cheery attitude a small grin was meaningless. Manjyoume chucked his cards into the centre – 6 and 5 of clubs.

Crossing his arms over his chest and scowling he said, "I fold. Damn cards. Never seems to go my way."

"Could be worse," Crow pointed out. "You coulda gone for a straight. 1500."

"Somebody's got good cards," Jack noted, tossing 1500 into the centre before Johan and Yusei did the same.

"Or they're bluffing," Yubel pointed out. Crow put out a pretty proud-looking face, but Yubel and Judai could both tell his face wasn't quite right – he was almost too happy.

"Oy, don't try and interfere with the game," Manjyoume declared.

"She's not helping me," Judai pointed out, receiving a nod from Johan. Since three of them couldn't hear Yubel, Judai needed someone else's verification to defend anything she said. "2500," he added, putting in 2 white chips and 5 red ones.

"Fold," Yusei issued, tossing in his own cards face-down.

"What are you, a coward?" Jack asked jokingly, placing in another white chip. However, when Judai flipped over the next card – an Ace of Spades – Jack stared at the card shocked as Yusei smirked slightly.

"No, just smart." Putting his hand down on the table, Jack stood up and walked over to Judai's liquor cabinet to grab a bottle of sake while Crow also dropped his hand.

"Just you and me now," Johan pointed out as Judai burnt one more card, then flipped one over. It was the King of Diamonds. Not showing his true thoughts, Judai realized the hand he had been dealt and saw Johan reach for an entire stack of chips.

"10,000," Johan declared. Whistling, Crow showed that he thought Johan was making a bold move. Clearly he had something good, otherwise he wouldn't bet so high – but he wanted the game to go on, and he was too cautious to go all in.

"Think your hand is so good?" Judai declared. "Let's test that theory. Raise: 25,000." Picking up a single black chip, he tossed it in with a flick of his wrist as though he was tossing a coin. "If it's that good, you'll see my bet; if not, you'll fold."

"I'm wise to your tricks," Johan said, taking back his white chips to put in a back one – right before he put his hand down. Ace of Clubs and Ace of Diamonds. "Four aces."

"Whoa," Yusei said in surprise, one of the few times he did so.

"Holy shit!" Crow yelled out as Jack returned. "You've been sitting on two aces and you just saw the bets in play?"

"It's an old trick of psychology," Judai verified. "Get the opponent overconfident so they raise their own bet. They'd never see it coming. Unless of course, they've known you as long as I have."

"Just knowing what I'm doing doesn't change my cards," Johan smirked. "Only two things beat four Aces."

"How right you are," Judai tilted his head. Quickly flipping over his cards, a Queen and a Jack of Diamonds, Johan's grin quickly turned to a complete look of stunned defeat. "And a Royal Straight is one of them."

"You just got lucky," Manjyoume grunted.

"Maybe," Yubel responded as Judai took the chips, "but even being lucky isn't good enough to win if you don't play your cards right."

-------------------------------------

Sleeping up in her room, Aki was in a veil of darkness that gave her safely from the outside world – no pain, no cold, no evil. She was completely at peace. In her dream she walked through a hedge maze of roses dressed in a red satin gown, surrounded by the bright sunny day her mind had created.

Stepping up to a purple rose in the garden, she grabbed it with her index finger and thumb, plucking it and bringing it up to her nose. The flower smelled as sweet as the very nectar of life itself. But, seconds later, the rose turned black without any warning. Dropping it, she saw a black fog-like fluid shoot off from it in all directions, forming into Duel Zombies all around her.

"What is this?" she thought to herself as the sky turned dark. Her duel disc appeared on her arm as her day clothes appeared on her body, and soon she remembered what this was.

A feint growling echoed around her, making the Duel Zombies back away suddenly. Stepping into the shadows, she saw their forms disappeared into the darkness and change into the fluid blackness.

"Izayoi Aki…" Aki heard a voice echo out; a low, deep voice with malice and power in it. Turning around slowly, she noticed a whirlpool-like body of shadows on the ground that erupted into a geyser of black fluid, from which the form of a gigantic robed figure.

"Who… are you…?" Aki whispered out. In her dreams she could not speak in any way but a tranquil whisper, but she remembered that she had gasped out this line in terror last time. She had needed to keep herself from screaming.

"I am the Darkness…" the figure answered as it took form. Standing at about 40 feet tall, the grey and black robes with red interior and gold trim were around a gigantic skeletal figure with a draconian face and glowing blue eyes. "My identity holds the true destiny of this world."

"Destiny?" Aki questioned softly.

"Indeed. The human world has become a corrupt wasteland strewn with the darkness in the hearts of humanity. My role is to clean this world of its impurities, in whatever way is necessary."

"What does this have to do with me?"

"As a Signer, you hold one of the powers of justice upon this planet, but you are too weak to use it to its full power. Therefore, I shall take it from you and cleanse this world with it." As if on cue, five jets of black fluid erupted from the figure's back and erupted into five wing-like structures, and then five gigantic cards formed from darkness in front of him, facing away from Aki.

"You duel?" Aki questioned. As if his knowledge of the Signers were not profound enough, this demonic figure possessed the ability to produce cards.

"I use the ancient forces," Darkness explained. "The power of Duel Monsters' origin is the spawning force of this world." Not acknowledging with words, Aki pulled 5 cards and both said,

"DUEL!"

Aki: LP 4000

Darkness: LP 4000

"It is my turn first," Darkness declared as a sixth card appeared before him. "I summon Darkness Seed in Defence Position (DEF: 1000)." One of the cards flipped around and instantly disintegrated into darkness, and then a spout of black fluid erupted from the ground. From they emerged a grebe-brown-coloured stock with two blade-like leaves and a blue bulbous head with many eyes and spikes mounted on brown leaves.

"What…" Aki questioned As its whole body turned blue, "…is that monster?"

"The Darkness cards are forged directly from the darkness in the hearts of man," Darkness explained. "I set three cards." Three of the cards from in front of him also disintegrated into blackness and reappeared behind the plant monster. "Turn concluded."

"Draw!" Aki declared. "I summon Night-Rose Knight (ATK: 1000)!" In front of Aki formed a purple-armoured light-skinned warrior figure wielding a small sword. "And when she is successfully summoned, from my hand I Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Plant-type monster. I select Lord Poison (ATK: 1500)!"

Beside the purple-armoured warrior emerged a grey-coloured figure with many spikes jutting from its body.

"I see," Darkness declared. "You intend to Synchro Summon your Signer Dragon: Black Rose Dragon."

"How do you know…?"

"Izayoi Aki, the Black Rose Witch," Darkness stated. "You are responsible for some of my power; after all, you created darkness in people's hearts with fear and anger, while your own inner turmoil fed me as well. I look forward to taking the power of that Dragon."

Growing slightly angry, Aki yelled, "You want Black Rose Dragon? You've got it; I Tune my Level 3 Night-Rose Knight to my Level 4 Lord Poison!" The purple and white warrior drew her sword, which released 3 white orbs of light from the blade before her image faded out. Those orbs changed into green rings, surrounding the grey creature and changing it into 4 more orbs, then into a vertical column of light.

"Cold burning flames, engulf this world," Aki began to chant. "Pitch-dark flower, set into bloom. Synchro Summon! Come forth, Black Rose Dragon (ATK: 2400)!" From the light emerged a dragonic beast with a flower-shaped body of petals and matching wings, with black thorny scales making up its neck, tail and legs.

"Your emblem of the Signers," Darkness observed as his eyes quickly flashed brighter than normal.

"I activate Black Rose Dragon's effect," Aki declared, noticing her voice was now at normal volume. "By excluding the Lord Poison in my Cemetery, I change Darkness Seed to Attack Position and make its ATK 0!" As the card slid from Aki's Graveyard, a translucent form of the grey monster rose up into the jaws of the dragon, where it bit down on it and released thorny tentacles. These brambles wrapped around the plant monster, changing it back to normal colours as its power dropped.

"A clever trick Izayoi Aki," Darkness declared, "but this duel is not yet won."

"Black Rose Dragon, attack Darkness Seed! Black Rose Flare!" The red and black dragon released purple flames with rose petals in them at the plant, burning it to ash and setting the ground at Darkness' field ablaze. The dark deity growled out in contempt as his Life Points fell.

Aki: LP 4000

Darkness: LP 1600

"I set one card and end my turn." As the flames fell, Darkness stopped growling and the card appeared before Aki.

"Then it is my turn," Darkness declared as another card materialized to his row of hand cards, then spun around. "Field Magic, activate! Come forth, Darkness!" Out from the card began to spill a torrent of shadows that blanketed the field and formed a dome around the duelists. "When this card is activated, I destroy every card in my Magic & Trap Card Zones, then set 5 Trap Cards from my Deck."

The three cards at Darkness' feet all shattered, and soon the black fog materialized 5 new ones. "But that doesn't make any sense," Aki declared. "You just destroyed three cards you never tried to activate."

"Ah, but that is where you are wrong," Darkness declared, positioning his hand in front of him as the transparent images of three Trap Cards appeared before him. "At this moment, I activate the three cards I destroyed."

"That's impossible!" Aki shot back. "Not only are your cards destroyed, you have no free Magic & Trap Card Zones!"

"These three Trap Cards have effects that activate when destroyed by the effect of Darkness." A huge expression of shock washed over Aki's face as each of the cards lit up. Continuing, the Dark God added, "and each one has its effect multiplied by the number of cards destroyed. Activate: Darkness Idol, Darkness Drain, Darkness Altar."

"And what do these cards do?"

"First off," Darkness informed at the first card glowed brightly, "Darkness Idol lets me draw 1 card for every destroyed card." Three cards appeared into Darkness' hand as he laughed darkly, Aki grunting at the idea he drew 3 cards for free.

"Next, Darkness Drain costs you 1000 Life Points for every destroyed card." As the first card disappeared and the second lit up, Aki burst into black flames and screamed out in pain as her Life Points fell.

Aki: LP 1000

Darkness: LP 1600

"And finally," Darkness issued as the second card disappeared and the flames burnt out, "Darkness Altar gives me 3 Darkness Tokens (ATK: 0)." Three orbs of dark matter that each opened a single eerie eye appeared before him as the final card disappeared.

"Three monsters, 3000 damage and 3 draws in one turn!" Aki exclaimed. "But even so, your monsters cannot attack or defend you."

"No, that is true," Darkness agreed. "But even so, they are not useless." A single card in Darkness' hand turned into blackness and spun around as two of the Tokens were consumed by black flames. "By Releasing 2 Darkness Tokens, I advance Summon a monster. Come forth: Dark Tuner – Darkness Worm (ATK: 0)." Up from the ground burst a gigantic worm-like creature covered in spikes that opened a four-part mouth lined with fangs. Along the first three segments of its body opened 8 eyes, all of which fixed on Aki.

"Dark Tuner?!" Aki stammered.

"The symbol of the Dark Signers," Darkness explained. "By using the power of the Underworld amplified by my World, I call upon the powers of Darkness. I Dark Tune my Level 8 Darkness Worm to my Level 1 Darkness Token!"

The eight pupils of the eyes all glowed white as the entire body of it turned to blackness. With a blood-curdling screech, the eight orbs detached and struck the Token's body, piercing into it and negating a single orb inside it. The seven remaining turned black and burst out through the Token's body, spinning around with black electricity until they went vertical and made a column of blackness.

"When the Dark overlaps with the Dark, a gateway is opened up… to a world without Light," Darkness declared. "Dark Synchro. Come forth, Darkness Death (ATK: 3000)." From the light emerged a black cloaked figure with a single glowing eye under its hood, holding a scythe with an eyeball on it in its bony hands.

"A negative Level 7?" Aki issued.

"Darkness Death's battle damage is instead recovered to the Life Points of a player whose monster it destroys," Darkness informed. "In return, I regain 1000 Life Points for every star that monster has. Darkness Death, attack Black Rose Dragon." The dark creature swung its scythe through the dragon, slicing it into pieces as it exploded. Then, both Darkness and Aki recovered Life, although he recovered far more.

Aki: LP 1600

Darkness: LP 8600

"I must at this point conclude my turn," Darkness declared.

"Draw!" Aki declared. "I activate Hand Obliteration, replacing our hands." Aki inserted her hand full of cards into the Cemetery slot and pulled 3 new cards, while Darkness' cards turned to black mist as 4 new ones emerged.

"I activate Ground Smashing, and I destroy Darkness Death!" A huge body of air shaped like a fist smacked into the giant creature, exploding it.

"Very well," Darkness declared.

"I summon Guard Hedge (DEF: 2100)." In front of Aki rose up a beige and brown wall covered in bamboo-like chutes that turned blue. "I set 1 card and end my turn."

"Then it is my turn," Darkness declared as his second card materialized, and then the ground erupted into another geyser of blackness.

"What… what's going on?" Aki yelled out.

"When Darkness Seed is sent to the Graveyard," Darkness explained, "It is Special Summoned to the own field during the following Standby Phase (ATK: 1000)." And sure enough, some of the black ooze took on the shape of the monstrous plant, snarling at the creature before it.

"Next, I release Darkness Seed to Special Summon Darkness Bramble by its own effect." Flipping around, the card of the mentioned monster appeared and turned into dark fog as red and green vines came up and surrounded the existing plant. It was destroyed and the new monster rose up as a twisted mass of thorns and vines with a bulbous head covered in eyes.

"With this monster in play (ATK: 2000)," Darkness revealed, "The Cards I have set with the effect of Darkness cam finally be revealed. With his eyes glowing, he saw that from right to left his cards were Zero, Infinity, Darkness 3, Darkness 1 and Darkness 2. Growling lightly, Aki got hopeful.

"Your cards aren't in the order you want, are they?" She taunted, to which Darkness began to chuckle darkly. "What's so funny?" Aki followed up, sounding worried.

"The monster I have hasn't enough ATK to destroy your monster, but… I can defeat your beast one way or another. Trap Cards Activate: Zero, Infinity!" The two side-by-side cards rose up, and Aki saw their text.

"They do nothing like that."

"No, but at the End Phase Darkness reshuffles them. I summon Darkness Raven (DEF: 0)." Appearing before Darkness was a large black bird-like creature with 4 jagged wings and a serrated beak. It called out ominously before turning blue. "I end the turn." The two face-up Trap Cards reset themselves as they all turned into dark matter, moving around and replacing themselves in random order.

"That's all?" Aki said, working up the nerve to smile confidently. "Then I'll take my turn. Draw!" Pulling her card, Aki looked at it quickly before putting it onto play. "Magic Activate: Avarice Pot!" As this card came into play, the cards for Black Rose Dragon, Night-Rose Knight, Copy Plant, Ivy Wall and Phoenixician Seed slid out of her Cemetery and she held them up. "I now shuffle these cards into my Deck and draw 2 cards."

"You plan to pull the cards you need to defeat my Combo?" Darkness questioned. "If that is your desire, then I have no objection." With that Aki put Black Rose into the Extra Deck compartment and the other 4 on top of the Deck, making the Auto-Shuffler mix the cards. Then, Aki reached slowly before quickly pulling 2 new cards.

"I summon Black Rose Witch (ATK: 1700)!" A black beam of energy rose up that spawned a female figure with purple hair wearing a black dress buttoned with black roses. "And since this monster was Summoned, I now draw a card. Unless it is a monster, I destroy my Witch."

"Gambling in defiance of my Darkness Trap Combo?" Darkness chuckled. "You must truly be desperate."

"We'll see." Pulling yet another card, Aki spun it around to reveal it as Thorn Fairy, a Monster Card.

"So you've succeeded. That still guarantees nothing."

"I wouldn't count on it. Because I drew Thorn Fairy with an effect, I can Special Summon it (ATK: 300)" Slapping the card down, a small pixie-like creature made out of rose vines materialized before her. "Now, I tune my Level 4 Black Rose Witch to my Level 3 Thorn Fairy!"

"What? Synchro Summoning again?" AS Darkness watched, the female witch changed into 4 green rings that turned the pixie into 3 white orbs, fusing them all into a single beam of light.

"The world shall be engulfed by a cold-burning flame," Aki chanted. "Pitch-Dark Flower set into bloom. Synchro Summon! Come forth, Black Rose Dragon (ATK: 2400)!" The light beam once again spawned up the flower-like dragon, but this time in the middle of a squall of rose petals. "And I activate the effect of Black Rose Dragon to destroy all cards on the field."

"This I cannot allow," Darkness bellowed as his black bird rushed the dragon, wrapping its 4 wings around it as it cried out scarily. "By releasing my Darkness Raven, I negate an effect to destroy Darkness cards and draw 1 card." The black bird was shattered by the flying petals, which then died down as Darkness materialized another card.

"I have to make this next move count. Unless I can take down that little pest Darkness Bramble, I'm stuck." "I activate my Card of Death, and draw 5 new cards." With the last card in her hand gone, Aki pulled 5 fresh cards, looking at them quickly before pointing at her set card. "Trap Card Open: Trap Stun!"

"What?" Darkness spat out as lightning shot off of the card that had been played, striking Darkness' set cards and flipping them over. Each one of those cards turned to stone as it did so, and as such their effects were declared null and void.

"Your Trap Cards can't interfere. Magic Card: Riryoku! I halve your Bramble's ATK (ATK: 1000) and add the points lost to my Dragon for this turn (ATK: 3400)!" A powerful light blue flame of energy built up around the vine monster, then leapt off and onto the flower dragon before dying down.

"Black Rose Dragon, attack Darkness Bramble!" Looking at the vine creature before it, the dragon began to build up a gigantic orb of purple flames in its mouth, but unfortunately one of Darkness' cards in his hand spun around.

"Foolish mortal. You became so secure in freezing my Trap Cards that you didn't realize my hand might contain threats. Such as, Darkness Raincrow."

"Effects from the hand?" Aki stammered.

"Exactly. And now, because Darkness Bramble was attacked, I may send Darkness Raincrow from my hand and that Darkness Bramble from my field to the Cemetery. In exchange, from my Deck I Special Summon Darkness Neosphere (ATK: 4000)." The card from Darkness' hand and his plant both burst into a column of black flames that faded to form a dark-coloured lotus.

Up from that spouted a mound of dark-grey slime that morphed into the form of a tall pink-skinned monster with one angel wing, one demon wing, large eyes on its torso and no real face save for a mouth and what appeared to be an eyelid. "4000… ATK?" Aki gasped.

"The attack of Black Rose Dragon is now made invalid. And what's more, Darkness Neosphere allows me to reveal and rearrange my set cards, regardless of Darkness' effect. Traps Activate: Zero, Infinity!" The two cards made themselves known, flipping up Darkness 1 and Darkness 3. "Now, I destroy the opposing monsters!" The Darkness 1 card shot out 2 black flares that struck Aki's monsters, destroying them both.

"I set 4 cards," Aki declared as her last cards went down. "I end my turn." Aki did not notice that in the background, another person was standing behind the wall of darkness that was watching the duel. AS this happened, the 4 face-up Traps Darkness controlled reset and the 5 moved around seemingly at random.

"I draw," Darkness declared.

"Trap Card: Call of the Living Dead! Return, Black Rose Dragon!" Up from the ground in a flurry of flower petals returned Aki's red and black rose dragon. "All is going according to plan. If he tries to destroy my Black Rose Dragon, I can use Rose Reverse to negate Darkness 1 and destroy that Neosphere. If he attacks, Rose Blast will destroy Darkness Neosphere and end his turn. And finally, my Rose Nightmares can make Black Rose's ATK higher by that of Neosphere's. I'm in a pretty safe spot."

"You must think your 3 set cards have made you safe," Darkness pointed out. "You think you're so clever, don't you? Your Black Rose Witch façade has worn thin, and your Darkness of Heart has come forth."

"What do you mean?" Aki asked.

"You're scared and alone. You were abandoned by the people who love you. Nobody deserves that." Aki's eyes began to tear slightly as Darkness continued. "Treated as a monster, discarded by your friends… your own father. There is no excuse for that. And your pain… I would think you would want to escape that."

Sobbing, Aki began to tremble as a black fog appeared around her body. "Now I shall release you from that pain. Trap Cards Open: Zero and Infinity!" Appearing at opposite sides of the field, the two Traps opened to the remaining cards: Darkness 1, Darkness 3 and Darkness 2. "I destroy your three set cards!" The Darkness 1 card then shot 3 black flares that struck and destroyed Aki's 3 reversed cards.

"This... card's be..." "Why… why is this happening to me…?"

"Your pain is over," Darkness declared. "Darkness Neosphere, destroy Black Rose Dragon!" Spinning its head around 180 degrees, the scalp of the gigantic monster opened up vertically into an eye that shot a beam of purple energy right through the dragon. When it hit Aki, she was instantly vaporized into the darkness as her dragon roared out in pain.

Aki could only watch as her body was pulled into a deeper chasm of shadows. Around her was no light, and no sound save for the sinister laughter of Darkness. Then, it began to get more and more dull until nothing remained…

***

Bolting up into a standing position from her bed, Aki began to scream and cry in a trembling manner as she walked over into the corner of her room. Still half-asleep and delirious, she thought she saw a dark shadowy figure standing in front of her, laughing at her, and taking the form of Kiryu. Kiryu, whose face Darkness had adorned, and who had kidnapped her after she escaped Rudger.

"Who's trembling now, Black Rose Witch?" his high-pitched cackling voice echoed out as Aki continued blathering. At that moment Yusei and Judai burst in the door, looking rather hurried and worried at Aki's situation, and it was clear that Judai could see whatever Aki saw. Yusei ran to comfort his girlfriend as the spirit said, "Don't try and help her!"

His eyes flashing over into Yubel's orange and green ones, Judai said, "You think I'd let the likes of you stop him?!" With that he ran forward and struck the dark apparition in the chest with his closed fist, making it dissolve and slither out into the night. Turning to Aki, Judai saw Yusei catch her as she collapsed in hysterics, her black nightgown soaked with her cold sweat and her eyes red from her tears.

"Aki…" Yusei gasped out worriedly as the others appeared in the doorway. None of them said anything, partly because they understood it was a serious situation and partly because Judai motioned to tell them to be quiet. "Aki… are you alright? What happened?"

Aki couldn't answer. She had stopped screaming, but she was still crying and sobbing in such fear and terror that she could not speak. She seemed drained of all energy, and Yusei had to help her to her feet. Clearly concerned for her well-being, Yusei motioned to Jack and said, "Give me your coat." Nodding, Jack ripped off the white trench coat to reveal a black sleeveless shirt and his fairly-muscled form; and he tossed it to Yusei, who wrapped it around Aki.

"She's had some sort of nightmare, evidently," Judai deduced, receiving a light nod from the frightened girl. "Whatever that thing was, it was at least partly responsible for…" His sentence was interrupted by a flow of more dark energy out of Aki's nightstand drawer. "Don't touch it!" he told Yusei when he reached for it, and so instead he took Aki aside as Judai approached it instead.

"What the hell's going on?" Crow asked as Judai opened the drawer and pulled out Aki's Deck. The black energy was flowing out from it, which made it clear to Judai what was going on.

"Damn it, not this again!" he said as his eyes flashed brightly, exorcising the black flow from the deck into the form of another spirit, which was instantly obliterated. Closing his eyes, his original irises reappeared as he opened them and said, "Her deck, and possibly her spirit, is polluted with darkness from her being dragged into the World of Darkness."

"What?" Yusei asked in shock as Johan and Manjyoume both cringed, since they knew exactly what he meant.

"When Darkness pulls someone into his world," Johan explained, "he brings their greatest fears and turmoil to the surface. That's how be preys on people. He must have done that to her."

"Then what do we do?" Jack asked.

"Until I can know for sure," Judai said with a defeated sigh, "we keep watch over her."

Card of the Week – Darkness

Darkness Death (Ankoku Kami – Dakunesu no Shinigami/Dark God – Darkness Death God)

Level: -7

Attribute: DARK

Type(s): [Fiend/Dark Synchro/Effect]

Effect: 1 [Darkness] non-Tuner monster – 1 Dark Tuner Monster

In order to summon this card, you must subtract the Level of the Dark Tuner Monster from the Level of the non-Tuner Monster to equal this card's Level. When this card destroys a monster by battle, any Battle Damage is instead recovered to your opponent's Life Points. Then, recover Life Points equal to its Level x1000.

ATK: 3000

DEF: 0

*A shorter staring chapter for a minfic. It will get better, I promise. Review if you wish.*