I probably shouldn't be starting new stories the night before going on a week-long vacation, but I couldn't not post this after finishing the prologue. I'm not sure yet whether this will take place before the events of FF3 or if Bakura is essentially replacing Rei, but I suspect it might be the latter. We'll see. It is definitely set after the events of the anime. Also, I apologize for the beginning of the story; Jounouchi and Honda are both absolute twats, and to write them as anything other than twats would make them OOC, which goes against every fiber of my being, even though they kill the mood. They'll be making their way out of the fic as soon as I can boot them. Finally, I'm going to try to write this so that Yu-gi-oh fans can follow it even if they haven't played Fatal Frame 3, so if you're an FF3 fan, I apologize in advance if I bore you. I don't own either franchise (if I did, Fatal Frame 4 would be brought to America, and so would the uncut version of YGO), please read, please review, tell me if it's a good idea or a waste of brain juice.
Prologue: Zero Hour (The Calling)
"Guys, check this out!"
The group of teens jumped at the sound of their friend's shout, but they were not overly concerned. They had decided on a group hiking trip in the mountains, intending to spend four days traveling among a few local villages and campsites. Last night had been their second night, spent in a small village to the south, and now they were taking a small break in the midst of hiking to their next camping area. Jounouchi had wandered off to use the bushes, and it was his voice that now called to them.
Yugi was first to reach the clearing where his best friend waited with a grin stretching ear-to-ear on his face. When he saw what Jounouchi was pointing at, he made a much less complimentary face. "Jounouchi-kun, we're supposed to be hiking, not trespassing," he said.
"Trespassing?" Bakura asked as he, Anzu, and Honda pushed through the last of the underbrush to join them. Then he noticed what they were talking about. "Ah. I agree with Yugi-kun."
Jounouchi waved a hand at the crumbling ruin that once called itself a mansion. "It's not trespassing if no one lives there."
"It is trespassing if someone owns it," Anzu reminded him sharply.
"Come on, who would want to own that rotting hulk?"
"It looks haunted," Honda said with a grin.
Anzu turned to him with a pained look on her face. "We're not ghost hunting," she told him.
"I think I know where we are." Bakura spoke quietly, but he caught everyone's attention. He looked taken aback when everyone stared at him, but he continued. "The people in the village mentioned it, remember? They said that supposedly there is a rift to the underworld here or something like that. According to legend, people once came here to meet the dead. It really is supposed to be haunted."
"Hah! After all we've been through together, no dead person is gonna scare me!" Jounouchi proclaimed, thumping his hand into his fist. He started for the sagging steps leading to the mansion's front door.
"Wait, Jounouchi-kun!" Yugi said, trotting after him. "We shouldn't really be wasting time here."
"Well, why not?" Honda asked, joining them. "Sounds like fun to me, and we've got plenty of daylight left."
"No way," Anzu said. "It's a bad idea to poke arouind in a house that might fall on our heads at any minute, haunted or not."
"I agree," Yugi said, nodding at her. "So that means you guys are outvoted."
Jounouchi and Honda made identical faces until Bakura spoke up again. "Actually, they're not. I think it would be a great adventure."
The others stared at him again, this time in disbelief, and he blushed. "What? I've always been interested in ghosts."
"You'd think being possessed by a ghost half the time would make them less interesting," the blond grumbled at him.
"On the contrary, it made me want to know more. I wanted to understand better what was happening to me," Bakura stated.
"Can't argue with that," Honda said. "Last one in is ghost chow!" He turned and sprinted for the entrance, ignoring Anzu's cry that running up the haphazard steps was a bad idea.
The entrance opened into a small alcove with a long hallway running from the back. There was almost no light, and the group was forced to take out their flashlights.
"Creepy," Jounouchi commented as they made their way single file down the narrow hall.
"You're the one who wanted to check it out," Anzu said from behind him.
"Yeah, yeah." He stopped as the hall split. "Which way, guys? Wait, the left is blocked. Guess that means we go right." He turned that way, Anzu following. Honda stopped long enough to shine his flashlight down the left branch.
"It's just a few beams and a broken door," he said. "We could push them down."
"Why bother when this way is clear?" Yugi asked, tugging him towards the right branch.
Bakura, bringing up the rear, chuckled at him, though the sound was strained.
The hall continued on the left, turning a couple of times before ending in a door that was still more or less on its hinges. Jounouchi pushed it open gently, and then he grinned and stretched as he moved into the cavernous room beyond. "All right! Let's look for some ghosts."
Anzu only looked at the roof in distrust, but the beams that held it up seemed to all be intact. Against the left wall was a staircase that had half collapsed. At the back of the room was a dark opening where another set of doors had once been. A few weak rays of sunlight filtered through, and Yugi walked back to peek into the next room. Its roof had fallen in, and beyond he could see a few timbers from other rooms and structures.
"This place must have been really big once," he said. "I wonder what happened."
"Didn't you hear Bakura-kun earlier?" Jounouchi said. "This house leads to the underworld. No one wants to live in a place like that."
"That's just a legend, Jounouchi-kun," Bakura said. "It isn't necessarily true."
"Yeah, I have yet to see a ghost," Honda grumbled.
"Thank God for that," Anzu told him. "Our past experience with spirits hasn't always been good."
"Sorry," Bakura said in a small voice.
"Don't do that," Yugi said. He walked back to the group and stood across from the white-haired teen. "We all know it's not your fault."
"There must be some reason why the Millennium Ring chose me," Bakura countered. "Why Zorc chose me." He averted his gaze, studying a ladder that against the wall.
"Ah, what's it matter?" Jounouchi said, slinging an arm around him. "Zorc's gone, the Millennium Items are gone, that whole deal's sealed and done. We don't have to worry about it anymore."
Bakura flinched away from him. "I still feel responsible. If I had been stronger, maybe I could have stopped him somehow."
"Not likely," Yugi told him. "It took all the power and knowledge Atem possessed, and a good bit of help from us as well. Bakura, you really don't have any reason for blaming yourself for what happened."
Bakura couldn't find an argument for that, but he continued to look uncomfortable.
"Now, where are all the ghosties hiding?" Jounouchi said, turning away to wander around the big room. "Hey, come on out, dead guys!"
Honda followed him. "Jounounchi, it's probably not a good idea to shout at ghosts like that…"
"Back off, bud, I know what I'm doing."
Anzu shook her head. "Those two can be so juvenile. How long do we have to stay here, Yugi?"
"Probably not long at all. The room beyond this one is too ruined, and the other way back in that hallway was blocked. This is the only place to see, and we've pretty much seen all of it just by standing here."
"So no ghosts after all, huh?" she stated more than asked.
"Doesn't look that way," Bakura said.
"Hey! Check out what I found!"
Honda came running back to the group with something in his hands, Jounouchi one step behind. "I saw it first," the blond grumbled, but Honda only grinned and held his new treasure out for the others to inspect.
"What the…?" Anzu said. "It looks like an old camera."
"An ancient camera," Yugi amended. "Like one of the first ones ever made. What's something like this doing in here?"
"I dunno. It was just sitting in a corner," Honda said. "Bakura, are you all right? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"A ghost? Where?" Jounouchi wheeled around, shining his flashlight around.
Bakura ignored him completely. His focus was on the camera, which looked familiar to him. I think I've seen this before, or a picture of it. But it can't be… "Can I hold it?" he asked, holding out his hands.
Honda handed the camera over, and Bakura held it up, playing his flashlight over its surface. "Oh wow," he murmured.
"What is it?" Yugi asked him.
"I can't be sure, but I think this might be a Camera Obscura," he said. "I'd have to take it home and look at some pictures to compare, but the markings look the same."
"A camera what-sa?" Jounouchi asked. "What the hell is that?"
"A Camera Obscura is a special camera invented by an occultist who lived in the eighteen hundreds," Bakura explained. "He wanted to use Western technology to prove Eastern beliefs, so he made three devices: a projector that could show scenes of the spirit world, a radio that could capture the thoughts of spirits, and this, a camera with a special lens and film that could capture images like the projector. It's also said that the Camera Obscura has exorcismal powers."
"Man, that's kind of creepy," Honda said.
Anzu gave him a scathing look. "Weren't you one of the ones who wanted to hunt for ghosts?"
"I didn't think we'd actually find any…"
"Someone must have thought they would find some," Yugi said. "Someone must have brought that camera here looking for the ghosts that are supposed to be here. But I wonder why they left it behind."
"Because it's broken." Bakura pressed the shutter button, and the camera gave a tired click. "Most of the spirit inventions are. They're still highly prized among collectors, though. You should take it back with you to sell, Honda. You could get quite a lot of money for it."
He held the camera back out, but Honda waved it away. "Tell you what. Since you're so interested, why don't you keep it? And how do you know all this stuff, anyways?"
"Didn't I say that I'm interested in ghosts?" Bakura cradled the camera in his hands, giving it a curious look. "I wonder if it could have exorcised me…"
"Probably not, since it's broken," Jounouchi pointed out. "Look, if there ain't no ghosts here, there's no point in sticking around. Let's get out of here."
"Gladly," Anzu said, starting for the door. She, Jounouchi, and Honda headed for the hall, but Bakura was still studying the camera, and Yugi hung back with him.
"You'll be able to see it better when we get outside," he said.
"Right," Bakura said. "I was just wondering if it really worked once." He rubbed the crust of dirt off the viewfinder with his sleeve and held the camera up to his eye. Yugi's face smiled at him through it.
"Maybe you can fix it and find out."
"I doubt it." Bakura swiveled as he spoke, looking all around the room through the camera. "It would still need the special film, and I have no idea…" He stopped, his train of thought derailing as the viewfinder came to rest on the door opposite the hall.
Someone was standing there. Bakura lost the ability to breathe. He knew that figure. His mind fumbled for an explanation to what he was seeing, because it just couldn't be possible. There's no way…not here…not now…I must be hallucinating. Yes, that's it. I'm seeing what I want to see because of this house's legends and this camera's supposed abilities. But if I stop looking through the camera, it'll go away. It has to.
Somewhere in the background, he could hear Yugi talking, but Bakura couldn't understand his words. Slowly, he pulled the camera down.
The figure stayed.
"Amane," he breathed.
The girl turned and disappeared into the room beyond.
"Wait!" Bakura cried, running after her. He didn't notice that he no longer heard Yugi, he didn't realize that the room beyond was supposed to have fallen in. He saw only his long lost sister, and he had to reach her. He ran through the door and stopped cold.
This room wasn't a room at all anymore; now it was another hallway. This strange fact didn't register at all in Bakura's mind. All he noticed was that the air had suddenly gotten a lot colder. Color faded from the world around him, leaving everything portrayed in shades of black and white. The Shadow Realm, he thought, and this brought a fresh wave of panic. Amane's in the Shadow Realm? I have to get her out!
He ran forward, through a door at the far end, and found himself in a long, narrow courtyard. A large monument made of dozens of tombstones filled the right half of the courtyard, and snow fell gently from the dark sky above. Snow? It's the middle of summer.
Amane was ahead of him, disappearing through a door on the far side, and Bakura forgot all about the snow when he saw her. "Come back!" he yelled as he ran across the courtyard. "Let me help you, Amane!"
He jerked the door open and found himself in another hall, this one much longer. Amane was nowhere in sight. Bakura paused; he didn't like the look of this hall. Part of the roof had fallen in halfway down, and snow fell through the hole, making a small drift on the floor. There was a dark opening near that drift, and the wall around the opening was latticed. Bakura didn't know if Amane had continued straight down the hall, or if she had gone through that opening. One way to find out, he thought.
He trotted down the hall, clutching the useless camera tight to his chest. For some reason he expected to feel it clink against his Millennium Ring, even though he had lost the Ring last year after Yugi's duel against Atem. He stepped around the snow drift and stopped at the opening to peer in.
It was a closed alcove, its walls made of lattice as well. Through them, he could see another hallway running alongside the one he was in. A woman in an old-fashioned kimono stood on the other side, facing him. Her eyes were covered by bloody bandages.
Bakura gasped and backpedaled until he hit the wall. "Who are you?" he cried, holding up the useless camera like a weapon.
The woman faded from view.
Bakura stared at the spot until his eyes swam. Slowly, his breathing calmed down and he was able to look away from the spot. "A soul," he muttered aloud. "Someone caught, trapped in the Shadow Realm. Amane. I have to find Amane." He took off down the hall at a dead run.
The door beyond led to another courtyard. This one boasted a grassy area surrounded by a wooden walkway, and here snow fell again. In the middle grew a large tree surrounded by tall, thin stakes with red paper dolls on their tops, but Bakura barely noticed them. Beyond, he could see a grand set of double doors in a recessed section of the opposite wall, and Amane was just disappearing through those doors.
"Come back!" he called. He started around the grassy area, only to stop short at a hallway that ran back from the left wall. Another trapped soul stood there, this one a small girl with pigtails who wore the traditional clothing of a shrine priestess. "Nii-san," she whispered, staring up at him with pain-filled eyes.
"What?" Bakura asked, but she too faded away. He shook his head and went around to the double doors. The little girl troubled him, but he had a real sister who had just gone through here, and she was his first priority. He reached out to push the doors open.
Light burst forth when he touched them, obliterating first his sight, and then all his senses. What the—did I just get hit with a penalty game? But that didn't make sense. He had to agree to a Shadow Game and then lose it first, and this didn't feel like a penalty game. It was too bright.
Then the light cleared away, and he found himself lying flat on his back, his arms and legs pinned down by something. Around him stood four more of the shrine maiden girls, long black hair framing their expressionless faces. Each one held a stake in her left hand and a hammer in her right. Bakura's eyes widened, and he forgot about Amane. He opened his mouth to ask them what they intended to do, but no sound came out.
The girls simultaneously dropped to their knees, positioning their stakes above his wrists and ankles. They raised their hammers high. They brought them down fast.
Bakura started violently and blinked his eyes.
"Are you okay?" Yugi asked. "You spaced out for a moment."
"N-no, I was…" He looked around in confusion. He was standing back in the ruined room where Honda had found the camera, facing the doors to the caved-in room. Yugi was looking at him in confusion and concern, and there was no trace of Amane or any shrine girls. "I…I'm fine, but I think I want to get out of this house now," he said. Was all that…seeing Amane…chasing her through the old mansion…was it all just a…daydream? A hallucination? It felt so real.
"I agree," Yugi said. He was giving Bakura a concerned look. "Come on then, the others have left us already."
"Right." He let Yugi take the lead, and cast one last look back at the large room as they left. Amane's dead, he chastised himself. She's been dead for years. She couldn't possibly be here, or in the Shadow Realm. For that matter, there's no way to get to the Shadow Realm now. The Millennium Items are gone. I must have been hallucinating. I just need to get out of here and never come back.
He ignored the feeling that someone was watching him leave, someone who whispered words barely heard in the back of his mind.
I don't want to see…anymore…