The Name of the Game

Memory

Isis sighed as she gazed out across Egypt. The land would soon fall into chaos, she knew. It worried her, and she shifted uncomfortably as she looked across the expanse of dark buildings that was her home. She had far too much on her mind. Maybe meditating would help.

She left the part of her large suite that she was in and entered her Meditation chambers, dismissing the guards, who left without hesitation. It was nice to know that she could rely on them to give her such small comforts as being alone. She just hoped that it wasn't because she was a woman.

Being the only female Priestess was hard. Not that she wasn't grateful; she thanked the Gods every day for bestowing her with such a great honor. After all, it was a great privilege to be a bearer of the Millennium Necklace. But it was difficult being the only woman. Men tried to treat her as if she had special needs, often in a bad way. Many of the other Priests didn't believe that she was even worthy of her Item. She often grew tired of their constant arrogance.

She shook her head as she removed her headdress, laying it on one of the tables up against the wall before she went and sat by the glowing blue flame of burning incense. She took a deep breath, inhaling the sticky and sweet smell of the room. She reflected over the other Priests' mistreatment of her. The multiple times Seto had tried to seduce her, following her around or having his guards stalk her every move. Every day of her life when Shada ignored her remarks, saying that 'A woman would not understand such things'. Karim was the worst, however. He had once taken her to his rooms in a vain attempt to force her to make love to him. Thankfully, Mahad had saved her. He was the only man there that she could rely on; the only one who hadn't tried to make their relationship physical. The rest of them were just stupid spoiled palace brats. Just because they were Priests they automatically thought they were smarter than the other lower classes. They didn't have to earn their right, like her. They had just inherited it.

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, her mind wandering from the other members of the royal court to the events of today. That was more vital. Bakura had come, bursting into the palace and accused the Pharaoh of horrible things, things that could only be lies, right in front of his own court. She was… apprehensive… about seeing him there. She hadn't seen him for years, not since…

Her mind wandered back, back three years into the past, when she had first met him. It was before she had been chosen by the Millennium Necklace; before she was brought into the palace to live; before she was even a free citizen. True, she had been born into a life of wealth and lavish living. Her father was one of the Pharaoh's scribes, so they could always afford to live in glamour. But when she was ten, her father had died and her mother had remarried another scribe in an attempt to keep her social status. It worked for her, but not Isis. Her new step-father didn't want her around, so he told her mother to 'get rid of that wretch!' Her mother didn't even give it a second thought before bringing her daughter to the slave markets of Egypt. Isis never forgave her.

The young slave girl traveled from owner to owner for the next three years before finally being taken to work in the palace. From the time she was thirteen until she was nineteen, she cleaned the floor in the Throne Room and the hallways outside. It was difficult work. She was on her knees all day on the hard marble floors with nothing but a pail and a rag to keep her company.

There came a day, when she was fourteen, when she was not so alone for a time. She was walking through the Throne Room late at night, for the King had recently had a banquet and it had taken her a while to clean the marble until it shined liked the did every other day, when she noticed a shadow passing through the far side of the room. She hid behind one of the pillars, not wanting to be noticed by the figure she saw.

She watched as the figure passed by the many objects made of precious metals that had been gifts for the young Prince's birthday banquet, grabbing one every now and then and shoving it quietly into a sac. At one point, he stepped into a beam of moonlight, making him visible for a few seconds. She was surprised to find that it was another teenager, probably as old as her, or maybe a year older. He was tan, like the slaves who worked outside the palace in the sun. His hair was whiter then the limestone they used to build parts of the palace. He snapped his head around at a noise he heard and she saw his pale blue eyes, cold and alert. They reminded her of her own eyes, but hers were a deep sapphire blue as opposed to his sky blue.

That's when she heard the same sound he did. It was the guards, who had obviously heard rummaging and were coming in to check it out. She didn't know why, but she felt as if she had to help him. He was only her age, and better off then her, for he was free. If he were caught, he would be jailed and taken to the slave market. She couldn't let him end up like her.

She snuck across the room and put a hand on his shoulder, for at that moment he was turned away from her. He jumped and turned around, anger in his eyes. 'Come with me, and be very quiet.' She whispered, her soft voice echoing off the hard surfaces around her. He hesitated, but then heard the guards again and nodded his head. She grabbed his wrist and pulled him swiftly along. There was a room on the other side of the Pharaoh's throne that was used for storing extra supplies such as food so that the Pharaoh would always have something handy to eat.

She shoved him inside and glanced around before following him in. There was a large empty pot in the corner, five feet tall and just under four feet wide. It was used by the younger children who were slaves as a place to hide when they needed to cry. You couldn't be seen crying in public or you would be beat or whipped. Nobody knew what it was supposed to be used for, though. She shoved him in, then followed pulling the lid closed on top of them. There was a small crack in the lid that allowed some pale moonlight to enter, allowing them to barely see each other. They sat in silence for a moment, listening for guards to come barreling into the room. Or, at least he was. Isis knew that the guards were too stupid to even think of this room as a hiding place. He eventually calmed down, and turned his attention to the girl who had saved his life.

'Why are you helping me?' he whispered, perplexed.

'Well…' She didn't really know how to say this, especially to a complete stranger. 'This might seem… awkward, and…strange… but…' She took a deep breath and looked at her feet. 'I didn't want to see you end up like… me.'

'What?'

'If they had captured you, you would have become a slave. I know what it's like, and it's much worse than having to steal to survive.' She sighed. 'At least you're free.'

It was silent for a moment. She couldn't believe she had just poured out her heart to a complete stranger. It was even more awkward when she realized that it was such a tight squeeze in the pot that their legs were entwined very… embarrassingly.

'Being free isn't all it's cracked up to be.' He replied after a long silence.

They spent another short while in silence, and then he realized that he should probably be going. She led him out of the storeroom and to window that emptied into a deserted alleyway. He swung his legs over the side and was about to jump the ten feet to the ground when she exclaimed softly, 'Wait!' he turned back to look.

'Yes?'

'I just realized, I don't even know your name.'

He smiled. 'It's Bakura. You?'

'Isis.'

'Well, Isis. Maybe I'll see you again someday.'

She smiled back at him. 'Hopefully it will be under better circumstances.'

He winked, then dropped skillfully to the ground and ran off. She secretly wished that she would see him again. And she got her wish.

Bakura came back to the palace every now and then for the next two years, stealing the occasional golden statue or silver platter. She didn't mind, because she knew that the Pharaoh had many more stacked up for his disposal. He wasn't going to miss the few items stolen. They became good friends.

The last time he saw her changed her forever. He met up with her in their usual spot; the alleyway that she had first parted with him. But something was different. He was usually very playful and full of spirit, if not sometimes obnoxious. This time however, he wasn't smirking. He was faced away from her, staring up at the full moon.

'I won't be able to see you again.' Bakura had a way of getting straight to the point.

'What?' This single remark crushed her. He was her only friend, and now she had just heard him say that she would lose him.

'You heard me.' His voice was harsh, cutting into her like a knife.

'Why…?' She breathed, trying to hold back the tears. Unsuccessfully, however, for her vision blurred as her eyes filled and spilled over. She tried to swallow her sorrow, to be strong and not let him know. But she unwillingly uttered a small sniffle. She closed her eyes, quickly trying to wipe away the salty tears.

She was surprised when she found herself wrapped in a warm embrace. She buried her face in his exposed chest, embarrassed. He didn't seem to mind her crying however, and even stroked her hair and softly shushed her. She felt his lips in her hair.

'I don't want to leave you,' he whispered, 'but…'

She swallowed. 'It's alright.' She said. 'If you have to go, then you have to go…'

He pulled back a little, still keeping his hands on her shoulders. He stroked away the tears with his right hand, and her eyes widened in surprise. He sighed and dropped his eyes to the floor. She did the same, embarrassed, and yet… she felt strangely comfortable in his arms.

Too enveloped in her own thoughts, she wasn't prepared when he lifted both of his hands to her face, held her still, and pressed his lips to hers.

Her mind went blank. She accepted the kiss, but was too surprised to act on it, either by pushing him away or putting her arms around him. She simply closed her eyes. When she no longer felt his lips on hers or his hands on her face, she opened her eyes. He had vanished, and that was the last she saw of the only friend she had ever had.

Her life got lonely again after that, again accompanied only by her cleaning materials. Sometimes she would get remarks from passers-by. 'You missed a spot.' They would sneer. She resented them. They were often the very same class her mother was. She even saw her mother once, when she was cleaning in the hallways scrubbing away at the dusty floor. A group of women passed by, gossiping and sneering, when they stopped to torment the working sixteen year old, obviously having nothing better to do with their time. Her mother was among them.

'Look at her,' remarked one of the four, 'It's a pity that the palace slaves are so ugly, isn't it?'

'You missed a spot!' teased another, shaking the dust from the bottom of her dress onto the previously cleaned floor.

Isis wasn't affected by their sneering, until she noticed her mother laughing along with them. Didn't she know that it was her daughter? Would it have made a difference if she did? Isis shifted her position, moving to wipe away the newly fallen dust from the Pharaoh's garden (She had become very familiar with different types of dust since she spent so much time looking at it). She bit her lower lip and tried not to cry, but she couldn't hold in the single tear the dripped onto the floor. She hastily cleaned it up, and swore to herself that one day, she would pay. There would come a day when Isis would be above her sorry mother, who would beg and grovel at her daughter's feet. Someday.

Although she never really believed it, that day came.

She was cleaning the floor in the Throne room when it happened. The Old Pharaoh's Priests had gathered around him and his throne, bringing him the Millennium Necklace and bearing the sorrowful news that the old Priest had passed away, and that the Millennium Necklace must now be passed to someone else.

That was all she heard of their conversation, because she tuned them out when they began chanting and focusing their powers in order to find the one who would be the next Priest. She glanced up from her work once and saw the man who wore a ring with five triangles hanging from it leading the others. One of the triangles was glowing and pointing to what she thought was the door behind her. She moved out of the way when she saw them coming nearer. They all passed through the door that her back was now towards.

'Her!' She jumped and looked around. The five priests were behind her now, gazing at her with mixed expressions on their faces. Some were perplexed, one looked surprised, and the one wearing the glowing ring was awestruck. She wondered what she had done wrong, but rather then ask, she simply bowed her head, stood, picked up her pail and rag and began to walk away; the thing every slave is supposed to do when they have misbehaved.

'Stop!' She halted at the command. Now she was frightened. What would they do to her?

'You,' He approached her, 'you are meant to wear the Millennium Necklace.'

Her head snapped up. Wide eyed, she looked from Priest to Priest.

'Mahad,' said another, older man, 'are you sure?'The fact that he had one golden eye almost made her cringe.

'My Ring does not lie. She is the one.'

'Blasphemy!' yelled another. 'No woman has ever held a Millennium Item! It is inconceivable!'

'Calm yourself, Shada.' Mahad replied. 'Let us not be sexist. The Item chooses its rightful bearer, not you.'

'I still believe it impossible.' He grumbled.

'Believe what you like,' he motioned to another slave holding a pillow. Resting on top was a necklace of gold in the shape of an Eye. 'But the Millennium Necklace is hers to hold.' He gingerly took the jewelry from its resting place and fastened it around her neck.

From then on, she was the first High Priestess. And she started at only nineteen years of age. Once the old Pharaoh died, she was Priestess for his son, who was kind but never really paid attention to her. He always asked his Priests before he asked her.

But she had not come to her private meditation room to reflect on the distant past. It was hard to believe that a single year ago felt like the distant past. And yet, it seemed even more distant after the events that day. Bakura had come back.

When he burst into the room, mounted on his horse, she had almost exploded with joy. But then she realized that he was the Thief King they had all been talking about. The evil man who had killed many innocent lives of people on the outskirts of the city. And what was worse was that the rumors seemed truer than ever when he carried in the sarcophagus with the Late Pharaoh inside. In the years she had known Bakura, he had never been capable of something like that. Something had changed.

She was almost thankful when she realized that he didn't recognize her. It would just complicate things and turn the already skeptical male Priests against her. How could he? Even Bakura knew that it was against everything they believed. And then he had made those horrible accusations. Could Pharaoh Akhenamkhanen really be capable of something like that?

All of these thoughts were getting her worked up. If she continued down this train of thought, she would start crying, and she definitely didn't need that right now.

"So, I was right." The voice shattered the silence and gave Isis a start. Her eyes flew open. She stood up and looked for the source of the voice. It didn't take her long to find it.

"Bakura…" She whispered. He was leaning against the window frame with both hands, his back to the outside, and his head down, eyes fixed on the floor. His unruly white hair covered his face and made it impossible to see his expression.

"You really did become one of them." He spat. He lifted his head and glared straight into her eyes. She noticed the scar running down the right side of his face, a scar that he hadn't had when they were youths, but one she had noticed when he had burst through the doors earlier that night.

This remark confused her only for a moment. Then she remembered how hateful he had been towards all of them in the Throne Room. She averted her eyes. "It wasn't my choice…"

"Yes, I forgot. You were 'chosen by the item itself'" his words cut her like a knife, the way they had years ago when he had left. "What a load of-"

Isis turned away, closing her eyes. "I didn't choose this." She said again, more forcibly.

"Right." The sarcasm in his voice so heavy it filled the room. "I'll bet you ran straight to them as soon as the old man who had that thing died. It wouldn't surprise me in the least."

"Stop it! You know that I'd never…" She trailed off, taking deep breaths to control her anger. If she yelled loudly, the guards would come back and find him. No matter how much he had changed, she still couldn't turn him in.

"What? Can't even bring yourself to make a comeback? They've turned you into a palace idiot alright."

She took another deep breath. "Well at least I don't defile graves. That's a pretty pathetic way to make a living." Not a very good comeback, but then she was never very good with comebacks anyway.

"Not as pathetic as being the Pharaoh's personal sex slave. I'm keeping you from his bed right now, aren't I?"

That was hitting below the belt. Her eyes flew open and she spun around. She saw that he had crossed the distance between them and was standing only a foot away. He was half a head taller than her, which is tall considering she was tall as well. She opened her mouth, but couldn't find any words to say. All of the anger was immediately replaced with a deeper emotion when she saw that he was smiling, his mouth twisted into a satisfied smirk. He was actually enjoying her anger.

She couldn't speak. She couldn't think. She didn't even register how silly she must have looked standing there with her mouth agape, saying nothing. He only smiled wider. "What? Amazed because I guessed right?" the words slipped off his tongue as if they were a hissing cobra, driving the venom of his speech deeper into her already weak heart.

All she could do was shake her head and stumble back half a step. "They were right about you." Whispered Isis, her own words chilling her down to her core. How could this be the same Bakura she had known six long years ago? She remembered a time when she younger, when Bakura had smiled that same way at her as he did now.

Young Isis sat on the half-wall that encircled the roof of the Pharaoh's Palace's Western Wing, her feet dangling over the edge and swinging idly back and forth. She held her left hand up and examined the blood that was draining from the long red gash on her palm. It trickled down the length of her forearm dripping off her elbow onto the stone she sat atop.

As she watched the red spots drip onto the clean stone, she reflected on the day's events. The slave master, Master Ptah, was angry at the younger children for something they didn't do. Isis didn't know what, exactly, just that there was no possible way that it could have been the young children's fault. When she had tried to tell Ptah that it couldn't have been them, he had pushed her aside and proceeded to solve the problem by producing a whip and beating the children. Isis couldn't let them be hurt, so she stepped in the way of the first crack of the whip. It had caught her on her upheld hand, leaving a long deep wound across her left palm. What a fifteenth birthday.

After a long and painful beating, she had received not only the bloody gash, but a black eye and several red marks along her cheek, arms and legs. She sighed and used an extra rag that she had brought with her to wipe up the blood on her arm and on the wall. When she was done, she held the soiled cloth upon the gash in her left hand. She gazed to the hard packed dirt of the road three stories below her and thought to herself, Maybe I should just jump. No one would miss me. No one would miss me…

'I'd miss you.'

Startled, she twisted around to see Bakura leaning against a nearby pillar. She hadn't realized that she had said the previous thought out loud. He crossed the distance between them and squatted beside her. Taking her injured hand gently, he started cleaning the wound as if he had done this many times before. Isis hadn't realized that you would need to know how to clean a wound if you were constantly on the run, but it made sense. When he was finished, he used the rag as a make-shift bandage. He gave her back her hand, looked up at her and smiled.

It was hard for her to believe that the same expression could be used in such diverse ways. But there was no doubt in her mind that it was the same pleasured, happy smile that she remembered him by. When she found herself back in the present, she put her left hand in her right and stroked the pink scar with her right thumb. Her left hand curled into a fist.

Her fist flew up towards his face, but he caught her attempted punch easily with one hand. She was genuinely surprised by what she had just done. The smirk remained on his face as he held her hand, which she had relaxed so that his thumb was now inside her half curled hand and against the scar.

A look of confusion crossed his face, and he moved to examine her hand. "Your calluses are gone." He remarked.

She made a face. "One of the first things they did when I became a Priestess was to scrub them away." They had taken her the very day she was given the Millennium Necklace and 'beautified' her, scrubbing away the hard skin on her hands and feet, oiling the newly soft membranes along with the rest of her body and her hair. She had protested, but they would hear none of it. "'A woman of the Pharaoh's Court can't be seen looking like a common slave'" she quoted sarcastically.

He grinned at her remark, and she recognized the old Bakura, the one who was her best friend. That is until he let go of her hand and said, "You just loved that, didn't you."

This time she knew exactly what she was doing when she slapped him across the face, leaving his cheek red in the process. His eyes widened in anger, and he frowned. He turned his head slowly back to face her. He grabbed her by the forearms, and she closed her eyes and prepared to be beaten.

His lips forced themselves onto hers, and although she was shocked she didn't protest. This was the Bakura she remembered, not the savage biting thing she had witnessed before that day. His hands moved to her face, and hers moved to around his neck. Sensing her agreement, he locked one arm around her waist and the other in her hair.

This is what you want said a voice inside her head. It was right, she did want this. She wanted it with all her heart. And yet…

He accused the Pharaoh of genocide argued another part of her conscience.

Before she could decide if she wanted to take this farther, there was a knock at the door. Bakura broke away from her hesitantly, but when the knock was heard again he sighed and started towards the window. He stood on the ledge and cast one look over his shoulder, smiling once again and giving a last wink before jumping out into the moonlight.

Shada and Karim entered the room when she called for them to come in. They saw her in full wear, for she had hastily replaced her headdress so as not to receive even more scorn from them. They wanted to know if she had seen anything with her Millennium Necklace, and she admitted that she had not had the chance to look into the future as of yet, but would do so for them at that moment.

When she saw nothing, they were annoyed and tried to send her off to bed. She refused, however, and they soon left her to her meditation.

Bakura leaned against a rock and bit into a vegetable. He wasn't sure which one it was, but it didn't really matter to him anyway. All he knew is that he felt pretty darn good. He hadn't seen Isis in a long time, and it was good to know she didn't hold a grudge.

You fool. The girl doesn't matter, just get her Item!

Bakura ignored the voice inside his head and bit again into his food. He looked out over Egypt, thinking that maybe trying to get all of the Millennium Items at once was a bit too much. He smirked as he chewed, for he had another plan up his sleeve. Sleep well, Pharaoh

Silent Lucidity

"Mahad, you startled me." He had just popped out of nowhere when Isis was taking a walk through the palace.

"Greeting Isis." An awkward greeting, but she knew he really meant sorry. At least he hadn't immediately asked her about her visions. "Have you discovered what the future holds for our kingdom?"

Well, so much for not immediately asking about the future. "No, I have not." She replied. "My Millennium Necklace has been acting strangely." Ever since last night when Bakura had appeared, she hadn't been able to concentrate long enough to seek visions of the future. So, it wasn't a complete lie…

"I see. So has my Ring." Apparently his Ring didn't or couldn't sense her lie. He looked up at her. "You need not worry," Oh great, now he was treating her like a fragile woman. "I have faith that our new Pharaoh will lead us from this darkness."

"Yes." He walked past her, and she couldn't help but feel strangely uncomfortable about him. She decided that the best thing to do was to try and actually seek visions of the future.

She held her hands up by her neck, almost making parenthesis around the Millennium Necklace. Please, Millennium Necklace, I beseech thee. Peirce the Shadows and show me the light of the future! It was true that there were newfound shadows that clouded the way, she soon found. But she had to push through them. There! It's getting clearer, just a little more, and…

"I must tell Mahad!" She ran from the meditation room not even bothering to put out the fire. She had to find him. Even though she had just seen jumbled pictures, she knew that something was amiss.

She saw the procession of guards that he was leading through the palace courtyard and out the gate. She remembered her 'Priestess Manors' in time and walked out from behind a pillar.

"Isis." He greeted when he saw her. He pulled off to the side and allowed the guards pulling the tablet to carry on without him briefly.

"Mahad," worry was thick in Isis' voice."I'm not sure you should go through with this."

A look of shock, then understanding crossed his face. "So, you were able to read my future, weren't you?"

She nodded. "Please-"

"Actually I would prefer not to know."

"Huh…?"

"Isis," He closed his eyes as a wary smile crossed his lips. "Keep an eye on the Pharaoh."

She knew what he meant. He thought that he would not return, he might be planning on not returning, of dying in his attempt to defend the kingdom from Bakura. But he misunderstood. He passed her. "Please wait." She could hear him stop behind her. "Just know that, in my vision… you do return."

"Thank you." He rejoined his procession.

The Valley of the Kings isn't this way…

I swore I would never do this, but I see no other way…

I guess it's just you and me now…

Raise the tablet!

I am more powerful than you can imagine…

"Mahad, No…"

A valiant effort, Mahad…

It is all over for you, Bakura…

It can't be…

All good Shadow Games must come to an end…

What have you done to me?

Be careful…

I'll see to it that your soul is removed from this world permanently…

"Mahad…"

Do not worry about me…

I shall finally repay my debt!

What is going on?

He has been separated from his Item, I sense it!

"Mahad!"

The Millennium Ring is mine!

It can't be, I've already destroyed you!

Finish him off…

No!

Master… can you hear me?

Watch out!

Mahad… why…?

"Mahad…no…" a tear rolled down Isis' face as she saw her only friend from the palace locked away in stone, forever fused with his Illusion Magician. Why, why, why? Every time something good happened in her life, it was taken from her.

Worse still was that Bakura was behind this. Bakura stole Mahad's soul and locked it away. Bakura did that… he used to be her best friend… maybe more…

Oh, who was she kidding? Bakura was more. She felt guilt at the fact that the little voice inside her heart was saying, well at least it wasn't Bakura. At least it wasn't Bakura…

She needed to think. No, she needed to help the Pharaoh. She wasn't going to let the others take her place, pronouncing it a man's job once again. She would show them.

Before long she was racing on her horse to where the other guardians were. They needed her help, and No amount of sexism was going to stop her from helping. She pulled to a halt close to where they were standing. Mana was kneeling in front of her Master's Tablet, bawling her eyes out.

"So it's true!" Isis cried as she ran up to the remaining guardians and the Pharaoh.

"Please come back, Master!" cried Mana. The Pharaoh tried to comfort her, but there was nothing he could do.

"Mana!" there was no time to be gentle with her. "Please, Mahad's spirit is very much alive deep within that stone! In fact, he's even stronger now." She sighed. "My Millennium Necklace has shown me all. He fused himself together with his most trusted creature."

"What? I'm confused…"

"Mahad has been transformed," Isis approached the rock, gazing upon the engraving of the Illusion Magician. "He will now be known as the Dark Magician."

"Dark Magician…? But my training is incomplete and I need Master Mahad!" she began crying again. "I want to become an Elite Spellcaster! I can't do it alone!"

Isis could sympathize with Mana's feelings. She felt like she wanted to cry forever too. But there was no time. They had a job to do for the Pharaoh and the Kingdom. Mourning would have to wait.

She stormed into her bedroom. How, how could they do that? Shada and Seto were probably in the city right now stealing the souls of innocent citizens to try and defeat Bakura! But the worst part was that the Pharaoh was going along with it! How could they, how could they?

Isis saw an empty table in the middle of her room and flipped it over, the crashing sound echoing throughout the stone walls of her rooms. She righted the table and flipped it again, and again, and again until she was tired and breathing hard. She righted the table one more time, but left it standing. Her breathing slowed as she made her way to the balcony overlooking the palace courtyards. She shook her head.

Annoyed by her headdress once again, for she hated wearing the heavy thing, she swept it off her black hair and let it crash onto the floor behind her.

She turned away from the balcony and folded her arms. She felt so useless, she couldn't help the Pharaoh because her Necklace wasn't showing her anything, and she couldn't stop Seto and Shada because she was a woman and had absolutely no power in their eyes. She leaned sideways against the frame of the balcony as the Sun set, fading into night.

"What's wrong, darling?" Isis felt his strong arms wind around her. Bakura was back. How did he keep getting past the hundreds of guards posted in and around the palace? He pressed his head into the side of hers as his hands wrapped themselves tightly around her.

What was she supposed to say? Her mind went completely blank as the fingers of his left hand played with her long black locks of hair. She found herself closing her eyes and leaning back into him, for he held her from behind. Her head rested on his right shoulder, and she could feel his left hand moving to trace her collar bone with his fingers as the other held her fast around the waist.

The dress she wore was off the shoulder and was laced up the back with simple wool string. She was suddenly very aware of how visible her Millennium Item was, and she secretly wondered if he was going to try and take it.

He made no such motion, however, and proceeded instead to turn her so that they were face to face. Resting her head against his bare chest, her eyes wandered from his open crimson robe down to their shadows on the floor. She slid her hands up his front and around his neck.

She felt his hands glide up from her waist and to the back of her dress where the tie was. He stroked her long hair out of the way with one hand while the other progressed to pulling on one cord of the ties that kept her dress on.

Isis realized then what he was after, and in the same moment decided that she would give it to him. She also knew that she was about to sleep with a convicted criminal who was against her entire way of life, who had imprisoned her only friend in stone. But all this was pushed from her mind as she looked up and kissed him, slipping her hands under the cloak on his shoulders and sliding it off of him and onto the floor.

He swept her up, loosened dress and all, and carried her across the room to lay her on the bed.

Bakura lay with his arms behind his head, smiling to himself. He looked to his right at the woman lying in bed beside him. He had had a very…satisfying night so far. It was still dark and probably just after midnight.

There you are, fool. Bakura frowned. It annoyed him that the Dark Spirit could find him inside the palace walls. Why didn't it just do its own dirty work?

You must have forgotten, it sneered, but we have to put phase two into action.

He gazed back to Isis. What would she think if she woke up and he was gone? She already had enough anger for him; did he really need to make it worse?

Who cares what she thinks. Phase two is much more important.

Making up his mind that he would finish his task quickly and be back before morning, he reluctantly got out of bed and pulled on his clothes. He cast one last look over his shoulder at Isis. She was so peaceful, so unaware of what was really happening. There was even a small relaxed smile on her lips as she slept. Taking a deep breath, he used the power of the Millennium Ring to become invisible and set his mind on the task ahead. He had a date with the Millennium Eye and its Priest.

It seems the Pharaoh has taken my bait…

The battle for the future of Mankind shall begin…

Stop running like a coward and face up to what you've done!

Time doesn't heal all wounds…

You'll…pay for that!

I have the advantage…

Looks like a dead end, Pharaoh!

What have you done?

It shall be too late…

How shall I conclude this battle, Pharaoh?

I can't let him harm my people.

Kneel before me, I command you!

This is quite an interesting predicament, isn't it?

We shall save thee!

We're outnumbered, let us go…

Well put, Pharaoh…

Your reign ends now…

Let's finish this, right now.

"Bakura… Pharaoh…"

It's…up to you now… Seto…

Another monster! But how…

Impossible!

How could those four brats infiltrate this realm?

This doesn't make any sense!

Once again we shall save mankind together…

"Isis, look! Only the Sun God could cause it to be so bright in the dead of night!"

Isis stood on a balcony beside the Pharaoh's Grandfather, watching the fight from afar. Bakura had left her, obviously, and when she had awakened the night was as bright as the afternoon. She had sought out the Pharaoh's Grandfather immediately. But she could see the scene more clearly than he thanks to her Millennium Item.

Let us attack now!

I wield the power of an Egyptian God as well!

Now's your chance!

Burn through the shadows!

The Pharaoh has restored peace once again…

"Oh, Bakura…"

He is defeated…

Egypt is now safe…

I won't let it end like this!

Is time flowing backwards?

Now, to pick up where I left off…

I'm having some Major Déjà vu…

Let's try this again, shall we?

My King!

He's gone!

I have your Puzzle…

Enjoy the Shadow Realm…

You fools, your no match for us…

I'm in control of this Shadow Game…

Now I have five more Millennium Items to seize…

Isis was in shock. How could Bakura be capable of something like this? How? Not the Bakura she knew, not the one she loved…

There was only one answer, then. One reason why he would sleep with her then leave, one reason why he would attempt murder two members of the royal court including the Pharaoh, one reason why he had pretended to love her; He had always been that way. She had just been too blind to see it.

She could see how perfectly his plan worked out; He meets a slave girl who won't turn him in so that he can steal all he wants, then when his plan changes to lie on stealing the Millennium Items he uses her to get closer to the Pharaoh then he could have ever hoped to. He seduces her so that she won't suspect what he is really planning. Then he gets what he wants by killing the Pharaoh, never giving the girl a second thought before taking the Item from her by force.

But the Pharaoh couldn't be dead, even Seto didn't believe that he was gone, and she knew that he would jump for the throne in a heartbeat given the chance. He must be out there somewhere, he must!

Determined, Isis made her way to the stables where they kept the horses. She would no longer be fooled by Bakura, she wouldn't be fooled into staying in the palace while the men went out to find the Pharaoh, and she most certainly would not be left out again.

As she mounted her horse and took the reins, Shada burst through the door. "Priestess Isis! You mustn't, it's-"

"I know, I know. 'It's not safe for a woman to do men's work.'" She couldn't take his sexism any more. "For once, Shada, can you just shut up and trust me?"

Isis galloped off without another word.

When Shada was searching for the Pharaoh on his own horse sometime later, he saw Isis' Spiria flying overhead. Instead of scorning her, he only whispered, "Best of luck."

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Isis's heart was pounding as fast as the footsteps of the dashing horse underneath her. Dust was all around and she could barely see the outline of Seto's horse in front of her. As soon as she had gotten news of the Pharaoh's whereabouts, she had joined Seto and Karim immediately so that they could assist.

What was he thinking going to Kuruelna? Without help Bakura will slay him for sure! She thought as they approached the decimated buildings of the Village. She would have to put her personal feelings aside for now and deal with them later. Her first duty was always to the Pharaoh.

When they pulled up next to Shada, who was fighting for his life against the evil spirits clouding the air, he sent them immediately to the underground ruins to help their king. Without another word, they raced off.

The trio ran down the ruined steps and came out into a large underground room. Isis noticed the natural light coming from holes that had apparently been blown open in the ceiling. She paid no attention to Seto, who had just summoned his monster to protect the Pharaoh, but looked instead across the room to Bakura, who was standing on an alter-like platform. Behind him were not one, not two, but three of his Diabound. How could there be three of one monster?

"Fear not!" She called to the Pharaoh, pushing aside her personal feelings once more. "We've come to help you!"

"What have we here? Three more Millennium Items?" sneered Bakura.

While Seto and the Pharaoh's Grandfather checked to make sure that the Pharaoh was unharmed, Isis noticed something the others did not; the Pharaoh's monster seemed all too familiar.

"It's Mahad!" Isis was almost overwhelmed with joy at the fact that her friend had not been lost.

"I have returned." He said, smiling knowingly down at her.

Isis beamed. "Just as I predicted!" Her Millennium Necklace hadn't lied to her after all!

"And know this," He grew serious. "Although my spirit is sealed in stone I shall continue to protect our King."

"We shall have plenty of time for this later," Seto reminded them, "Right now we have a villain to defeat!"

Bakura drew back his lips in a merciless smirk. Isis would not be intimidated.

"I call forth Mystical Elf!" She was going to protect her Pharaoh, even if it cost her only love. She had to. "Replenish the life energy of our King!" She wasn't going to let him fight weakened if she could help it.

Bakura was not intimidated. "I really should thank you all for making this so easy for me; now I shall have three more Millennium Items!"

"I don't think so!" Seto called forth another Monster; Curse of Dragon. Their battle commenced. All of the guardians united to try and destroy it, but the Dark Spirits of Kuruelna protected it.

The next beast to be attacked was none other the Isis' Elf. Isis put a hand over her heart, which was suddenly in pain. She was weakened, but not defeated. "I am fine." She said to the men who were looking at her like they would lock her in a nice safe house if they had a chance. There was no way that she was going to let them underestimate her. She would continue to fight.

"Gyahh!" Bakura cried as he fell to his knees, grasping desperately at his chest as if he were trying to hold in his heart. "It is… not over!... Your empire shall… crumble…Pharaoh!" he spouted disjointed statements as his breathing became labored and his eyes widened to the point where Isis was sure they would pop right out. "Zorc the dark one will return! Mark my words!" With a staggering breath he fell face down on the hard stone beneath his feet, eyes petrified in a look of shock and pain.

"I'm afraid it's all over, Bakura. Your plans for destruction will never some to pass. So let it be written, so let it be done."

The withering man on the floor clawed slowly and hopelessly back up the steps to the alter with the stone where the Millennium Items fit.

"Egypt will once again be safe." Finished the Pharaoh.

"Never…" Bakura used what appeared to be his last ounce of strength to fit the few Millennium Items he had into their slots in the great stone tablet.

"That's enough! Now return those Items to me!" demanded the Pharaoh.

"Those Items will stay right where they are!" but it was not Bakura speaking. It was Oknaddin, the Priest who held the Millennium Eye. The Guardians turned to gaze upon their former ally, who had apparently turned against them. But what was most disturbing was that he held the Millennium Key, Shada's Item, in his boney old hand.

What had happened to Shada? Was he hurt? Killed? The question came from Seto's mouth.

"What's more important is that his Millennium Item will be put to good use. As will all of yours." Isis suddenly became aware of the cool golden necklace around her throat. The only Items that had not been taken were her Necklace and Seto's Rod.

Their attention was turned back to Bakura, who was now surrounded by Dark energy pouring from the stone slab he now sat upon. But he was suddenly very confused. He stood up and scanned the room. "Who are you?... Where am I?" he appeared to be another person inside Bakura's body. No, not another person! Isis recognized the look on his face all too well. It was the Bakura from her youth, the one she had thought lost forever behind the new cruel façade he had adopted. "My hands… what's happening to me?"It was obvious that the true and pure of heart Bakura was being consumed. His hands were covered in a thick blackness that no light could ever hope to penetrate; the darkness straight from the Shadow Realm. Isis stood helpless as her true friend was swallowed by darkness. He looked from his hands to the small crowd around him. She thought she saw him mouth her name as they made eye contact.

"I was just using that fool as my pawn!" Came Bakura's voice, but it didn't come from him. It appeared to be coming from nowhere at all. What was going on?

"Who are you?" yelled the Pharaoh to the voice.

"The shadows are taking me! Someone, help!" cried Isis' best friend. Before she could run up to his aid, he fell away into a cloud of nothing.

What was going on? Isis couldn't think. Her best friend became her enemy, just in time for him to turn good again and die? What did the world have against her?

"It's time you learned the true nature of this shadow game!"

"Explain yourself!" called the Pharaoh once more.

"Pharaoh! You must stop him!" Shada appeared, wounded and fatigued at the same place where the traitor Oknaddin had just come from. They watched as Shada limped his way over to the traitor. "Now give me back my Millennium Key!"

But Oknaddin was not wounded, and pushed Shada off with ease. He crumpled to the floor in a heap of clothes. The Pharaoh's Grandfather rushed to his side. Oknaddin didn't utter another word before freezing them all in time so that he could complete the task Bakura started.

Diabound opened its mouth and a thick blackness fell upon the remaining Guardians.

"We're going to play a little game of hide and seek!" Bakura laughed into the growing darkness.

Soon Isis couldn't see a thing but blackness. She began to panic when she could no longer feel Karim, who she had been supporting a moment ago, in her hands. The fact that Bakura had suddenly rematerialized in front of her swiftly left her mind and was replaced by uneasiness. "Steady, Isis." She whispered to herself. "This is all just another trick. I hope." Attempting to calm herself, she took long, deep breaths. It was like she could almost feel the shadows she was breathing in.

Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She bolted to her feet and turned around, but she saw nothing. Her feet moved almost of their own accord as her fight or flight reflex kicked in, telling her that she had to flee to somewhere where she could see, anywhere where she could see. I can't see anything! Not even my own hands!

Her misfortune caused one of her footsteps to be false, and she immediately began falling backwards. But, just as she prepared for her head to crack on the hard stone floor, she felt arms catch her on her knees and on her back. Her blood ran cold as she felt his familiar hands clutch her and hold her closer.

She was aware of being carried off only because she felt the sensation of motion. Isis didn't know how he could move so easily and assuredly through the black expanse, but it seemed as if he had perfect knowledge of where they were headed.

For a while she was numb, in shock, but after the initial stun wore off, she realized just how stupid she was being to let him just carry her off. She was not going to be his next victim. "Put me down, Bakura!"

"In good time, my dear." His response was level, and not at all threatened by her tone.

"I mean right now!" She pushed against what she assumed was his chest, since she couldn't see and all, and thrashed around as much as she could possibly move with his arms binding her to him so tightly.

"For the love of… Will you stop squirming?" his voice was rising, and Isis knew she was getting to him now. So she kept moving.

"No! Now put me down!"

"Ugh!" Isis had managed to shift so that she could put her foot in his face. She assumed that it connected with his jaw and had caused him to grunt unwillingly. "That's it!" Bakura was beyond annoyed now.

The last thing Isis heard was Bakura grumbling to himself, then something cold trailed down her spine and she blacked out again.

Bakura held her limp figure in his arms. He really hated to knock her out like that, but it was her own fault. He told her not to squirm. Shifting her weight so that she was easier to carry, he continued on towards their previous destination. She was now in the same position as before, but with one difference; her head rested on his broad, muscular shoulder.

He smirked to himself as they approached the end of the short trek through the dark; his private suite, deep beneath the Village of Kuruelna. She would be safe there until all of this was over.

As he walked in and placed her on his bed, he thought to himself, why not have a little fun? After all, the world will only be around for a short time longer.

He used some of the dark energy in the room around him to create a barrier between it and the outside, after all what would be the fun of anyone crashing in here? And the barrier also froze time in its place, so he could have all the time he needed and when they finally left this chamber they would be in the same moment they entered it.

Swimming in self-accomplishment, he turned back to his sleeping prize and removed the charm he had put on her to make her sleep.

Isis' eyes fluttered open, and she realized with elation that she could now see. But the feeling didn't last long as she realized that she had just been asleep for who knows how long and she didn't know where she was and that the world could have ended already and she had to find the Pharaoh if it hadn't and she was frightened because she had no idea what was going on.

It was in the midst of all of her worrying that she realized she was not alone. She was lying in a bed, with Bakura sitting by her feet. He wasn't looking at her, but staring idly at the floor.

She swallowed and slowly use her arms to slide into a sitting position. Seeing that he didn't even flinch, she proceeded to pull her legs towards her so that her knees were at her chest. For some reason this made her feel slightly safer, but the emotion of dread stayed within her as she noticed some frightful details that made her heart pound faster. One was that Bakura was not wearing his usual crimson robe, leaving his chest and back completely exposed. She then noticed that someone had removed her sandals and her headdress. The wide straps of her dress were also loosened, so they now fell against her arms leaving her shoulders completely bare and exposed.

It was at this moment that Bakura turned his attention to her. His eyes trailed up her legs, across her shoulder, and up her neck to her face, his face changing from a guarded frown and slowly creeping into a pleased smile. She knew what he wanted the moment he made eye contact with her.

No, no, she couldn't. This was the man who betrayed Egypt, tried to kill the Pharaoh, took Oknaddin and then Seto.

But…

What's the harm? Argued the little voice inside of her, you want him, he wants you, isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Her indecision was killing her.

To make matters worse, Bakura took advantage of her silence and moved closer to her, shifting so that he was bent over her, his arms on the headboard Isis was now pressing her back against. His face was mere inches from hers. "Um…" She had to convince him to at least wait until she could make up her mind. "Isn't there… not enough… time… for this?"

His smirk grew larger and amused. "This chamber is cut off from time. We can stay here as long as we like and we'll come back right into the exact time we left in when we step outside."

What's the harm? Urged her inside voice. It wasn't a very reliable conscience. Go for it!

But he…

I said go for it!

But…

That's it! Her third and final voice stepped in to make the decision for her. Her hands flew almost of their own will; one entwining its fingers in his snow white hair, the other pressed itself against his face, discovering a bruise on his jaw from where she had kicked him earlier. Her arms pulled her away from the headboard towards him until her lips connected with his. He responded almost immediately, pulling her closer by entwining one hand around the small of her back and running the fingers of the other through her long black locks. He then proceeded to rest both hands on her shoulders, sliding them down her arms and pulling the straps of her loosened dress with them.

Still breathing hard, Isis rested her head beside Bakura's on her pillow. She watched his chest rise and fall as his fast breaths slowed with hers. He played with a lock of her hair, twining and twisting it through his fingers, that now familiar triumphant smirk upon his face.

His face fell into a frown as he appeared to listen to a sound not heard by Isis. He turned his annoyed expression towards the door. "I wasn't dawdling. There is no time in this chamber, so don't make such a fuss."

Isis was quiet as she listened to the only side of the conversation she could hear, not even daring to move.

Bakura sighed. "No, I didn't mean to take that tone with you." He seethed in annoyance at whomever he was talking to. Then he became suddenly more alert. "What?" he listened intently for a moment. "But I can't just leave her… oh."

He sighed once more and sat up, the covers of the bed collecting around his waist. "It appears that we didn't have as much time as I foresaw." He apologized. "I'll try to make up for lost time later, Isis, but we're going to have to separate for now."

In a flash the scene changed before her. She was no longer in Bakura's secret time stopping room. She was back in the same position she was in before the darkness had come, kneeling and bending over Karim, who was still wounded. To her relief her clothes were all on, including her headdress and sandals. She cast an annoyed glance over her shoulder and across the new landscape she now found herself in. She was above ground, lost somewhere in the ruined city.

Stand By Me

Karim was dead. He risked his life, giving his last breath of life to Shada to save the Pharaoh. And he had died right in her arms. All of the hate, the resentment she had felt towards him for his repeated attempts at seducing her, his obvious and uncaring sexism, it all melted away as she watched his body go limp. However much she hated crying in front of the other men there, she couldn't control the tears that flowed down her face. But they didn't look at her with scorn any longer. There was no reason for them to be so prejudice against one of their fellow Guardians. They all finally understood the immeasurable difficulty of the task ahead of them. There was at last unity among the Pharaoh's High Priests.

The Pharaoh had raced off alone again to find Seto. She hoped and prayed that he could get to him before another Priest was lost to the shadows. There were only four of them left together, and they just kept getting weaker.

And to make matters worse, Zorc had finally arisen. Isis contemplated all of this as she rode alongside what little remained of their forces; the Pharaoh's Grandfather, Shada, Mana, and herself. The Pharaoh was still away, hopefully he had already found Seto. Even if he had, the future looked all but lost. But they had to try.

She told Shada that she was able to see Zorc nearing the City through her Spiria's eyes. They had to hurry.

As they neared the capitol, Isis grew uneasy; though that was partly due to the darkness of their surroundings. Lightning cracked menacingly through the night as they rode as fast as they possibly could towards the palace, shrouded in shadow and looming in front of them. Even their home looked frightening in this atmosphere.

They arrived and got the Imperial Army ready for their last battle. As they were nearing the final preparations, the Pharaoh arrived with Seto riding behind him. Isis was relieved that he had not been swallowed by the shadows after all. Not yet anyway. Her heart sank once again as she realized that this had only expanded his life by a little. His fate would be to perish along with the rest of them.

No, no. She mustn't think like that! There was still hope. There was always hope…

Due to the Kings sudden and surprising weakness, Seto took up command of the army. Isis stood on an outcrop, staring out at the indestructible force they were about to face. She looked sideways at the people who stood beside her, and was immediately aware of just how much the last few days had changed them all. They no longer glowered at each other and made shrewd comments. They respected and protected one another, and from now until the last moments of their life.

As they hurled everything in the catapults at the huge looming monster, Isis couldn't help but remember Bakura. She felt a pang of guilt as she remembered their last conversation, the one spoken in the room outside of time.

'Soon you shall be safe.' He had whispered in her ear.

'Hmm?' was her reply.

'I did this all for you.' Isis' blood ran cold as she realized his meaning. 'When I left you all those years ago, it was to protect you.'

'I… I don't understand…'

'The day before, I was approached by the Evil Spirit of Zorc, the part of him that could roam free. He told me, showed me the inevitable age of darkness he would bring to the world. I couldn't let you be swept into the shadows, and he promised me that if I joined him he would spare you, free you from the eternal night. I knew he was Evil, I knew I was going against the kingdom of Egypt. I didn't care. I saw every day that I came to the palace what those so called bringers of justice were doing to you. So I joined the winning side. Not the right side, the winning side.'

Isis stared into the eyes of Zorc and felt the guilt grow deeper. This whole thing was because of her. All of it was her fault. If she had just…

But there was no use dreaming up what could have been done, she reminded herself. The only thing that mattered was what would she do now? Which side would she choose.

She chose the Pharaoh's side. Ever since she had been given the Millennium Necklace, her life had only once purpose; serve the Pharaoh, and serve justice. Her personal feelings didn't matter, either way. It was what she had to do.

Zorc raised his right hand and Isis watched an entire battalion fall into death and darkness.

How could Bakura have unleashed this? How? It was too awful. She ,made up her mind at that moment that no matter what, she had to defend these people. Even to her death.

They fell back to the palace and regrouped. They had half the soldiers they had started with.

Seto called for them to summon their strongest shadow creatures, and all at once they were surrounded by Monsters; Dark Magician Girl, Spiria, Two-Headed Jackal Warrior and Duos.

"Your weak monsters are powerless against me!"

They attacked the giant beast, but it did no damage.

"Now watch and learn!"

Zorc attacked, but none of them fell victim to the shadows, thankfully. Not yet, anyway.

Suddenly, a stray bolt of lightning plunged out of the sky, directly at the Pharaoh. But when the light subsided, Isis saw not their King lying on the ground, but Shada.

"You're safe now…My King…" Shada spoke weakly, having been struck down in the Pharaoh's place.

Another one of them had given their lives for the Pharaoh. As Isis stared in disbelief at him, she silently wondered when it would be her turn.

Shada faded into the shadows before their very eyes. The Pharaoh swore that he would defeat this menace. Isis remembered all of the times that he cut her off when she spoke her mind, the countless times he restricted her from doing anything for being a woman. All of it washed away. She forgave him, only too late. He was gone.

Zorc advanced, drawing closer and closer to where they were. He was in the city, destroying thousands of innocent people. Their mortal army had no chance against the immortal menace.

The Pharaoh discussed this with his Grandfather, and the only solution was to summon the Egyptian Gods. But the King couldn't do that without his Puzzle, not without the Millennium Items. Isis had her first brain storm. "Then the only thing to do is search the desert and find them."

"But weren't the Millennium Items destroyed?" responded the Pharaoh.

"No, don't you remember," said his Grandfather, "When Zorc first arrived in our world the seven Millennium Items were scattered throughout the desert. If we can just locate them we may be able to save Egypt."

"Fine, then I'll go." Replied his Grandson.

"No," Isis wouldn't let him put himself in danger again. "You have other matters to tend to, My Pharaoh. These Brave soldiers are depending upon their King for support." He still looked shocked, so Isis continued. "Trust me. With Spiria by my side I know I can locate those Items. I won't fail you." Not this time. She added silently. She considered her affair with Bakura failing the Pharaoh. And she was right.

"And neither will I! Let's go!" came the unexpected soprano voice.

"Mana!" exclaimed the Pharaoh as she ran past.

"Come on!" she urged. "If Mahad were here he'd want me to go! I promise I'll be careful!"

He sighed. "Alright. Both of you, go."

"Right." That may very well be the last thing I ever say to him

"We won't let you down!" Mana was a little too much of a happy little girl since the world was ending. But, Isis guessed, they all needed a little positive encouragement.

Isis heard her Pharaoh's solemn, "Best of Luck," as she ran off with her new companion standing by her side.

The duo got past the palace and stopped only long enough for Isis to summon Guardian of the Fortress. But she fell to her knees, weak. As her head throbbed and her vision become fuzzy, she glance down at her Diadiunk. The energy was lower than the half way point.

Mana rushed to her side. "You don't have enough energy to do this!"

"Nonsense," Isis falsely assured her, "Now let's go."

They climbed on the back of the big blue dragon, her Guardian of the Fortress, and took to the skies, Spiria leading the way.

They flew back over the sands of Egypt. Finding the Millennium Items had been surprisingly easy, and Isis was glad to feel the familiar weight of her Necklace around her throat. As they approached the Palace, they could see to their relief that Zorc hadn't even gotten past the palace walls yet. Those soldiers were brave men.

But their joy didn't last long, for the gigantic evil beast had seen their approach and tried to shoot them down with fire. In some instances Isis could feel the flame's heat as they flew at lightning speed and barely dogged his blasts.

As she looked across the darkened sands, Isis realized something. There would be no way that they could fly them to the Palace while Zorc had them as a fixed target. From the moment this realization hit her mind was made up. When she landed the large beast they rode on, she told Mana to take the Millennium Items to the Pharaoh.

"I won't let you fight him alone!" cried the defiant girl.

"Mana, if the Pharaoh doesn't get these items, all hope is lost. Now go!"

"Yes, but I-"

"This is not the time for debate. I appreciate your courage but you have a task to complete and time is running out." Her voice was frosted with ice cold determination. She met Mana's frightened gaze."The fate of the world is at stake and your place is with the Pharaoh. Mahad would have said the same thing."

Mana began to cry, tears flowing freely from her emerald green eyes. But she obeyed, jumping swiftly if somewhat sloppily from the dragon's back and hurrying away, the burlap sack containing the Millennium Items bounced against her back, flung over her shoulders. Isis watched as their last hope wound its way back to the palace. She prayed the Mana would make it.

She shook her head. "Millennium Necklace, grant me strength."

When she took off from the ground in flight, she did feel reassured to have the familiar jewelry around her neck. It gave her the extra courage she needed to fight her last battle. Isis knew she couldn't survive attacking Zorc by herself, and her only job now was to stay alive for as long as possible.

As she took to the skies, Isis reflected on her life. It was a good life, she guessed, and she had learned many important values. When she was a lowly slave, she learned how to work hard and defend herself. She had learned betrayal from her mother, and from herself she had learned to disregard all else and trust only herself when it came down to the big decisions. When she had met Bakura, she had learned friendship and trust, then later learned love. And she had loved him with all her heart. From the guardians she had learned not to judge others as they judged her, and eventually she had learned that people can be capable of great understanding in the long run. She had learned loyalty from the Pharaoh; loyalty to her beliefs and to her people. And when she had finally found her friend again, she had learned secrets and heartbreak.

She had loved, and she had definitely lost. But the most important thing was what she was going to do with all of her knowledge in the last moments of her life. Isis intended to use that knowledge well.

Zorc's attention was caught almost immediately by the obvious blue monster in the grey sky. He fired at her, and she dodged and attacked, then proceeded to lunch a counter attack by ramming into the side of the great Evil beast.

"For that you shall pay with your soul!"

He knocked her away with one hand, sending her plummeting towards the ground below.

I am sorry, My King, she thought as she fell, almost in slow motion, for now I shall join the others in the Realm of Shadows.

Isis had only one thought on her mind as the wind whipped around her. It drowned out all of the sounds that filled the air. She no longer heard Zorc's growl, she no longer heard the cried of the last remaining soldiers as they fought their desperate battle. The only sound that lived through this was the sound of her fading heartbeat, and her one thought. No matter what you did, Bakura, I will always love you.

Tears poured from her eyes as she thought of the man she had some to love. Moments flashed before her eyes, memories filled her inner vision. Bakura was there, saying goodbye to her the first time they met. Bakura was cleaning the wound on her hand. Bakura was stroking her face and telling her not to cry. Bakura was laughing at one of her stories of goings-on in the palace where she worked. Bakura was kissing her for the first time when he said goodbye. They were the memories of the Bakura from her youth, not the twisted being that had come to replace him.

And in that last instant, when all of the life had left her body, that instant, she knew she was dead. She could no longer feel the rushing wind winding around her body. She felt nothing. And in the last instance of nothingness before everything faded completely, she could swear, swear with all of her heart and soul, that she felt warm hands wrap around her back and under her knees, just like they used to carry her.

Bakura?

"NO!" His white hand slammed down on the floor. He could feel the jolt of pain from how hard his hand hit, even though he knew there was no floor there. He wasn't anywhere with substance, but inside Zorc's soul. "You swore to me," his voice was thick with the venom of hate, "you swore that you would spare her."

That pitiful human was holding you back, Bakura.

"She was not a pitiful human!" He spit back, his long white hair flowing over his shoulders. He wore a horizontally striped shirt under a long and flowing black cloak.

Oh, don't attach yourself to those mortals. You are destined for greater things.

In his mind's eye Zorc showed Bakura a vision. It was a familiar vision that Zorc had used to tempt him on several other occasions when he had grown questionable of his choice to follow the darkness. In it, Bakura saw himself perched on a great throne in the middle of a palace, Ruler of the New World of Shadows. But there was missing what had been in all of the other apparitions, the one thing that had always convinced him to stay his path before. Isis wasn't there.

In the other hallucinations, she was always with him, either standing or sitting by his side. Recently, Zorc had shown her draped in his arms or sitting in his lap. But not this time. This time he was alone, utterly alone.

Alone.

The single word echoed in his mind. Before, there had always been someone; Isis, Ryou, even his mindless minions. But no more.

Alone.

She was gone, swallowed by the Shadows. He hadn't succeeded in saving her, only harming her. He had loved her, done all of this for her. And she was gone; in the instant that he thought she was finally safe, she was gone.

And he knew for the first time, he knew that he had made the wrong choice.

There's nothing you can do about it now, is there? It was rather annoying that Zorc could read his mind all of the time.

He was right. What could he do? There was no way to give up his service now. He kneeled bent over double on the non-existent floor, empty of all hope. The Darkness of Zorc's soul swirled around him, tinged a black-purple. He realized that he had been swallowed by Darkness as well.

But, wait; what's that? He blinked in confusion as he noticed a dim white light coming from… where? He looked around, and realized with amazement that it was coming from his hands. He leaned back on his knees and turned his hands upward to inspect the new found glow protruding from his palms.

As Bakura wondered over the light, he saw in his mind's eye what was happening in Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh had been deserted by his soldiers, all of his Guardians had been surrendered to the Shadow Realm, and he was standing there, facing Zorc, and speaking his last defiant speech of hope. Alone.

Alone.

Was he alone too? No, he was never alone. He always had friends somewhere. He didn't know how painful it was to be truly alone, when your family is slain when you are a child, when you must leave the one you love to save them, when you lose them in the attempt and are left alone.

Yet…

Bakura couldn't help feeling that, although they had been enemies for the longest time, he needed to side with the Pharaoh now. The Pharaoh had chosen the right path, and he did have the power to defeat Zorc. There had to be something he could do…

As Zorc readied to deliver the final blow to the Pharaoh, something caught the great beast's eye. It was Yugi and his three friends! In that instance, Bakura knew what he had to do, and he understood.

He understood the light coming from him. He understood its power had been given to him through Isis, for she had shown him the ultimate light; love. And he understood how to use it.

Time was all they needed. Bakura stood and let the white Light pour out of him and penetrate the Dark. Burn through it until Bakura was in control. After all, his favorite magic was from the Change of Hearts.

The Darkness was strong, and he still had to fight. But he fought as hard as he could, and he was able to keep Zorc from firing so that the Pharaoh's friends could deliver the vital information; the Pharaoh's name. He wasn't able to control Zorc all the time, however, and a few stray attacks made it through. But they got it to him.

Nice name. Not to mention the whole calling forth the Creator of Light thing. But Bakura's gloating was short lived, for he realized with a sickening shock, that when the Pharaoh defeated Zorc, Bakura would be destroyed as well; after all, he was inside Zorc's soul. But it was what he deserved. He had never done right be anyone, and it had almost cost the entire world.

As the black expanse around him was enveloped in Light, Bakura knew it was the end. But it was for the best. In his last instant of life, the split second before his soul was completely destroyed, something strange occurred. He could feel, with all his soul, with all his heart, he could feel the familiar arms wind themselves around his neck.

Isis?

Thus ends the tale of the two young lovers, who never had a satisfying ending to their story. They were never able to be truly together, for what one does not accomplish in life, they cannot accomplish in death.

Not all endings are happy.

But, then again, the world is full of second chances…

For a long time, and yet only a moment, there was nothingness. But for an unaccomplished soul there is never truly an end, and a new life was given the chance to begin again. And it so happened that Five Thousand years passed in an instant, and there came to be born a little boy named Ryou. And seven months later there was born a little girl named Ishizu.

Epilogue: River Flows in You

He leaned against the railing, letting the wind play with his hair and inhaled the salty smell of the sea. He picked idly at some chipped paint of the railing and thought. He thought about the events earlier that day, contemplated the confusing and mystifying powers that he had witnessed. But mostly, he thought about her.

She would never forgive him for what he had done to her. And she was right; he didn't deserve her forgiveness.

Immersing himself in the memory, in the one night where everything had gone wrong, he felt his stomach drop. Previously, he had either been too preoccupied or, recently, unconscious, and was therefore not able to dwell on what had happened between them, what he had done to her.

It felt like so much longer then only a few days ago that his other half had come back. He remembered running through the alleyways, trying to lose the following tormenter in the twists and turns. He had even tried ducking into a church for protection, but nothing could stop him.

What he had done after was unforgiveable…

He had stared in the mirror, examining. His shirt lay draped over the bathtub and he inspected the pale skin of his chest and arms. There were several small harmless cuts on his chest and on his arms, and his forearms held bruises from where he had slipped and fell as well as the cuts. There was one particularly nasty gash on his left upper arm, and he frowned as he wrapped it in a clean white cloth bandage. Or, at least he was watching his dark side do all of this, for he himself had been locked back in the dreadfully familiar corner of his mind.

'You just had to go and resist, didn't you, Ryou?' sneered his yami as he pulled the shirt back on over his head. 'Now look what you've done to yourself.'

You mean what you did to me. He responded mentally, for he had no control over his own body and therefore was unable to speak aloud.

'Oh come on, don't be like that. You're going to help me greatly. Doesn't that make you happy?'

Bakura knew very well that it didn't make Ryou happy. He just liked to watch his light side squirm. This was confirmed by the smirk that was on his face as he left the bathroom and preceded to the living room of the apartment where he lived. There he retrieved his long black cloak from the back of the sofa where he had left it.

As he slid the clothing over his shoulders, carefully, however, so as not to tough any of the wounds on his body, he heard a knock at the door.

'Expecting company, are we?'

Ryou didn't know of anyone coming over tonight. Or, did he?

Panic set in as he realized that today was Friday. He had completely forgotten. On Friday nights, she came over to spend time with him.

'Oh, so that's who's here?' Bakura had access to all of Ryou's thoughts and memories. Not good. 'I think it would be rude to leave her hanging, don't you?'

No! Leave her out of this!

'Come now, where's your sense of fun?' he replied as he made his way to the door. 'You two have been dating for a year and you haven't had any fun. I'm going to do you a favor; after all you have been a good little host for the past few years. It's only fair.'

Putting on Ryou's personality as a false façade, Bakura opened the door. Ishizu stood outside, and she greeted him with a smile. She was wearing a cloak that was wet, obviously from the rain outside, and he also noticed that she wasn't wearing her usual shoes. Since battle city, Ishizu had worn heels to make her appear taller. She had confided in Ryou that it was originally so that Kaiba would believe her older, and possibly have a better chance of believing her. In reality, she was a few inches shorter that him. Today she was wearing flats, instead of the uncomfortable heels.

'Hello Ryou.' She greeted.

'Hello, Ishizu.' He replied in Ryou's voice.

Run Ishizu! Ryou wanted to scream to her to flee; flee from the monster that was standing in front of her. She was in danger. Ryou could see into Bakura's mind as well, and he knew what he was planning.

As the night wore on, Ryou grew more and more anxious. After a while of exchanging seemingly harmless conversation like Ryou usually did with Ishizu,-it bothered him greatly that Bakura was playing the part so well- they eventually wound up sitting next to each other on his sofa, staring out at the rain. Jealousy ran strong in Ryou's mind as he watched helplessly while Ishizu, not knowing who she was truly sitting with, leaned her head against his left shoulder. Bakura wrapped his arm around her. He pulled her closer, and although she was surprised, she gave in willingly. His dark side was going to enjoy this.

Stop! Please, Bakura, don't make her do this! He could see through Bakura's calm collected appearance and into his ulterior motives.

Jealous, are we? Replied his yami silently.

I just don't want to see her hurt…

Please. I know you, Ryou. And, if it will make you feel better, I have something special just for you.

Suddenly, the atmosphere around him was different. True, he was still not in control of his own body, but where before he had felt like an outsider, looking through his own body and seeing the events taking place, he now felt as if he were back in his own body. He could feel her pressing against his side. He could feel the smooth strands of her hair as his right hand played with them, weaving the dark locks throughout his fingers. But he, Ryou, was not doing any of this. It simply felt more real to him than a moment ago.

Bakura made his move. He put a finger under Ishizu's chin and turned her face towards his. She stared into his eyes for a moment, smiling. Ryou was still trying to overcome the new sensations he was feeling, but he wished desperately that she would just realize the danger she was in. He stared into her eyes, unwillingly, for he was still being controlled.

Her eyes narrowed. Then they widened, and she pulled herself away and stood up. 'You're not Ryou.'

Yami Bakura's smirk crossed his face. 'How'd you know?' not even bothering to stand up, he relaxed against the back of the sofa and spread his arms across the back of the couch.

'It's in your eyes.' She replied, taking a hesitant step backwards.

'Oh, does it really matter either way? Besides he is in here,' he tapped his temple with one long white finger, 'I'm just helping him out.'

'Helping him? You're controlling him!'

'And giving him what he always wanted.'

'What? I'm pretty sure Ryou doesn't want to be inhabited by an evil spirit.'

'Not that at all, darling. I'm going to grant him what he's always wanted from you, but was too shy to ask.'

'I'm not following…'

'Do I need to spell it out for you?' he sneered and stood up, circling Ishizu as if she were his prey. 'He's always wanted you, if you catch my drift.'

She was silent, her eyes moving back and forth as she dissected his meaning. Her eyes widened again as she understood. 'You mean…'

'Yep,' He sneered as he moved closer to her, forcing her to take a step back. 'And I intend to let him have you. After all, it's the least I can do. He's been a good little host for so long.'

'I won't let you.' She tried to show courage, but Ryou heard her voice shake on the last word. So did Bakura and he laughed.

'Oh don't pretend to be so innocent. I know for a fact that you want this as well.'

'I… I don't know what you mean…'

'Please. You have birth control in your purse.' He held up the package that he had obviously stolen from her when her back was turned. 'And by the looks of it, you've been taking them for a while. Face it, you've been anticipating this. You want it just as much as Ryou does.'

She gulped and blushed. Could that really be true? Ryou thought. His yami laughed at her embarrassment.

Ishizu shook off her humiliation, and replied, 'Even if I do, it doesn't mean that I'm going to give in to you.'

'I'm afraid you don't have a choice.' He stated. Dark energy began pouring from him, flowing from him to her. The black-purple tendrils wrapped themselves around her body, binding her arms to her sides.

No! Ishizu!

'Now, darling, you have two options. We can either do this the easy way, which believe me is the more enjoyable for everyone, or the hard way.' He turned away towards the hall. 'As you can imagine, I get what I want either way, so it all comes down to how easy you want this to be. Now follow me, please, like a good girl.' He began walking down the hall towards the bedroom, and Ryou could hear Ishizu sigh, then follow obediently a few feet behind.

When he stepped through the doorway into the room, he could see that it was filled with the dark energy. They were wading waist high in it. He turned around and waited for his prey to join him. When she crossed into the room, the darkness binding her melted into the collective shadows flowing about them. The door closed, and Bakura smiled, stepping closer to her. He wound his arms around her and whispered in her ear, 'Don't worry, you'll enjoy this. I promise.'

He pushed her up against the wall behind her, pressing his body to hers. His hands shackled her wrists to the wall by her head, and his lips pressed on to hers.

Ryou felt so guilty. How could he have done that to her? No, no it wasn't his fault. Bakura did that not him.

Oh, who was he kidding. He was guilty because it had been him. As the night had drawn on, he began to enjoy it. Although he had wished the circumstances were different, he enjoyed having her there. Ryou's heart leapt every time Bakura's hands ran through her hair and over her skin. He wanted it.

She shouldn't forgive him. He sighed as he watched the waves ripple away from the boat he rode on. He turned around. It was dusk and he would need to get something to eat soon. He lifted his head from the floor, and was surprised to see her standing there.

"Oh. Um… Hello Ishizu." He stuttered incoherently.

"Hello Ryou." She dropped her eyes awkwardly.

It was silent for a moment. Then she swallowed and spoke. "I…wanted…" She took a deep breath then continued. "I wanted to talk to you. About… about what happened…" She stopped, too embarrassed to go on.

"Oh."

They stood in silence again, then said at the same time. "I'm sorry."

"Wait," said Ryou after. "Why are you sorry? If anything I should be apologizing."

"It was my fault."

"No it wasn't. How was any of that your fault?"

"Because…" She blushed harder. "Because I enjoyed it." she confessed, staring at the floor.

"Ah…" He paused. "Um… actually…." He scratched his head awkwardly. "I enjoyed it too…"

"Really?"

"Yeah…"

She smiled, then laughed. "I can't believe this whole time…"

"Me neither…"

They grinned at each other. Ryou silently thanked Bakura. True, his 'gift' was misdirected, but it had brought them closer together. "Um…" He began, "It's almost time for dinner. Would you…?"

She giggled. "I'd love to."

They walked away, hand in hand. Beginning anew and resolving the perils of their unknown past.

Sure, it took a while, but they won in the end. Although deceiving and sometimes perilous, the journey love takes is necessary, and rewarding in the end.

That's the name of the game.