Hello! :) Here I am with my second entry for the contest, a pairing that I'm not quite so passionate about but is very sweet nonetheless, Mizushipping; Priest Set x Kisara.
I'm rather divided about my opinions on this one. Kind of ambivolent about it! :/ (However, the historian in me absolutely loves it! XD)
You have no idea how much research went into this... Insane amounts. Seriously, wikipedia and I are now engaged to be married, had you heard?
Note on Main Concept: I've read quite a few reincarnation fics before in another fandom (if you're a fan of that show, you'll know which fandom I'm talking about! ;D) and I wanted to try my hand at one. As a result this is a slightly bizarre story (not sure when it stops being mizushipping and starts being blueshipping!) and I would like to stress that I'm not making any religious implications here; I don't want to start a debate about whether reincarnation is real or not, and the views of the characters are only that of how I think they would feel at a certain time. It's not me speaking, it's them! *points finger of blame* (Wow, that sounded like the copyright shpeel from the start of a movie! xD!)
That being said, I hope you enjoy! :D
"Since I met Kisara, I realized how much of the world was dark and dry. And the solution to make this darkness disappear is through this light called love."
-Priest Set, Episode 214
1000 BC, Egypt
- The First Life
Priest Set never cried.
Priest Set never did anything really, some would grumble (mainly Mana or Atemu after they'd been told off one too many times for their cheerful, noisy games in the palace courtyard).
He sometimes smiled (it was more of a smirk really), rarely laughed and never cried.
But when he held Kisara's limp body tight to his chest, her hair (it was the colour of white lotuses, he thought vaguely) spilling over his arms and her eyes blank and lifeless, Set cried. Tears, great rolling droplets, raced down his face until they fell like rain on her white (so pale, so pale) face.
He stared at the great stone tablet with the dragon (the beautiful, cursed, hateful) dragon engraved on it and muttered an oath to himself through shaking lips.
He would not break the oath. It meant more to him than any other promise he'd ever made; more than when he'd said farewell to his dying mother, even more than when he'd sworn allegiance to the Pharaoh.
"I'll find you, Kisara. Whatever it takes, I'll find you one day. Wait for me."
And the High Priest buried his tear stained face in her hair, praying that he might still detect the scent of lotuses there and that it might take some of his pain away.
450 BC, Greece
-The Life of Discovery
Set was filling a pitcher full of water at the town fountain when it happened.
The agora was fairly empty; there were only a few women chattering over a jewellery stand on the other side of the square and some children racing about with exuberance that seemed to defy the midday heat. Set leaned against the stone lip of the fountain for a second and took a gulp of water; it was the season of summer and even though the small village where he lived was on the Greek coast, and therefore there was always a cool sea breeze in the air, it was still uncomfortably hot.
Set idly dabbled his fingers in the fountain and watched a small boy trip over his own feet and lie wailing on the flagstones until his exasperated mother came over and helped him up. Set suppressed an amused grin which caused the woman to shoot him an irritated look, so he turned his back on her and gazed at the ocean- a faint blue glimmer in the distance, somewhat obscured by villas and the olive trees that dotted the hillside.
He felt an inexplicable pang of longing and shook his head, bemused. He'd had that feeling before- the nagging voice at the back of his mind that there was something more out there than this tiny, closely knit community that he had grown up in. He'd heard that inland there was so much to be seen; Athens with the Olympic Games and the Parthenon, incredible temples to appease countless deities, philosophers arguing their case standing in public squares, places he'd never dreamed of, power and opportunities that he could only just imagine…
But Set shrugged it off. He couldn't leave his mother just like that and besides, travel was not something to be undertaken on the spur of the moment.
(The voice of ambition and longing at the back of his mind just wouldn't leave him alone, no matter how hard he tried.)
Set lugged the pitcher along as he pushed himself away from the fountain and began his slow journey back to his small cottage, splashing water on his bare legs as he went.
Just as he was about to leave the agora he spotted the group of children once more; they were now crowded around a doorway, eyes wide with awe and glued to the ancient man sitting hunched over in a wicker chair just inside. Set paused a moment, remembering how he too used to listen rapturously to the old man's stories as a child.
"…And Heracles slew Ladon, the great Drakon that guarded the golden apples by twisting its scaled serpent body around the tree, so that yet another of his Twelve Labours was completed-"
"Excuse me," Set suddenly interrupted, and seven children twisted around to glare at him balefully for ruining the story. "But what was that about a… Drakon?"
The old man turned his cloudy eyes to Set and intoned in his slow, creaking voice, "Ladon, one of the great Drakons. His body was flung into the sky after Heracles defeated him and you can still see its shape in the stars." He paused for a moment, squinting at Set suspiciously. "Will that be all?"
Set nodded absently, before turning on his heel and walking briskly out of the agora despite the heavy weight of the pitcher in his hand.
The Drakon. Why was that word, and the description, so familiar?
The pitcher clattered to the rocky ground and water and shards of clay flew in all directions. Set ignored it, staring straight ahead with terrified realization as his own voice (but at the same time it wasn't his voice) echoed in his ears:
"I'll find you, Kisara. Whatever it takes, I'll find you one day. Wait for me."
Set stared out at the glittering Aegean Sea and felt the memories of her flood back; her hair, her eyes, her laugh, her death…
Set left the broken pitcher on the path before setting off at a run to pack his few belongings.
He said he would find her. Even if it took more than one lifetime, he would keep that promise.
As he ran, he could swear he smelt the scent of lotuses.
182 BC, China
-The Life of Desperation
Unlike his second body, Set remembered everything from the beginning in his third life.
(At least, he remembered it from such a young age it may as well have been the beginning.)
He never really figured out why his memories had been triggered so easily and so early; he gave up in the end, and reasoned that it must be because of the hundreds upon hundreds of dragons that he saw daily- on pottery, clothes, beads, walls. Growing up in Imperial China, dragons were regarded as divine and hard to ignore.
He assumed (somewhat desperately) that she would surely be here- in the country where dragons were revered and even worshipped. Surely, surely this would be the life where he found her.
(It wasn't, and he didn't.)
It was his twentieth birthday. He was sitting at the side of a forest path pondering which way to go, having been wandering aimlessly for over a year now, when he briefly looked up and glimpsed a figure between the trees; long hair flowing around a slim body, eyes twinkling, tinged green by the light that filtered through the overhead leaves. He started up before realising that his mind was playing tricks on him- there was no one there.
Set rubbed at his eyes, wearily. Her memory was haunting him.
"I'll find you, Kisara. Whatever it takes, I'll find you one day. Wait for me."
In a helpless haze he stumbled to his feet and continued on his way.
Three days later he was shot by a group of bandits for trying to take from them a small ornate jar, with a white clay dragon for a lid.
801 AD, Scandinavia
-The Life of Death
Set huddled against the dark wood and felt the galley rock beneath him. Wearily, he cupped his hands around his mouth to try and breathe some warmth into them before he began to cough violently. When the coughs had finished wracking his body he rubbed the spittle and blood from his cracked lips, shivering, and pulled his fur cloak tighter around his body. He listened to the wind buffeting the ship and imagined the snowy swirl that surrounded them; on deck you wouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face, everything would be white.
Their longship was not far enough away from home to have escaped the harsh northern winter, and although Set had braved over twenty of them before he had somehow fallen ill during this one. The other Vikings on the ship had been avoiding him with suspicion and fear, and Set knew perfectly well why. He was dying, and without the glory of death in battle they believed he could not gain entrance to the feast in Valhalla. Was it a punishment from the Gods? they whispered. Is he cursed?
Set had laughed bitterly to himself upon hearing this; he had lived through too many lives and had worshipped too many gods by now to believe that he was going to receive divine help or damnation.
Funny, he thought wryly. When I was a Priest I would have considered that thought blasphemy.
A hacking cough shook his body, and blood flecked the wooden boards. Miserably, Set closed his eyes and waited in the darkness for the death he knew was inevitable.
"It's a pity," he muttered. "I thought I was going to find you in this one, Kisara. I've been travelling on these accursed ships for so long, I always assumed you'd be waiting for me when we landed in some foreign land."
He opened his eyes but they were foggy and the pain in his chest seemed to be fading and although he wanted to speak his mouth would not make the words and everything was going dark…
His hand went limp, and a small scrap of paper fluttered to the ground from where it had been tightly clutched in his grip.
It was the ship's doctor who found him. He didn't even blink, just called some men to help him shift the body.
Stooping low, a young cabin boy grabbed the piece of paper and thrust it in the doctor's direction.
"What's that?" he asked, gesturing at the crude drawing.
The doctor shrugged, irritably. "I don't know. Some sort of snake? He always was a crazy one."
1496 AD, Italy (Renaissance)
-The Life where he Gave Up
Set's eye wandered out of the small window to the sunny cobbled street outside. He drummed his fingers against the table top absent-mindedly and sighed with boredom. A mixture of the warm sunshine and the inexplicable high spirits that always seemed to descend on Florence when summer began had left Set feeling rather lethargic. He would have preferred to be out on the streets of Florence, quietly enjoying the hustle and bustle of his home town, but Set had been granted a rare opportunity and he wasn't going to waste it.
"Good morning," a voice came from a small door on the other side of the room. "I'm sorry I'm late. Would you like to come in to the workshop?"
Set looked up at the man who was speaking, and studied him with interest. Nothing about his outward appearance would suggest that this was arguably the brightest, most creative mind of his generation; his slightly graying hair was shoulder length and wavy, he wore a simple white shirt and a black doublet which appeared to have various chalk smudges and paint flecks dotted all over it. A typical academic, Set would immediately have assumed, if he hadn't know him to be what his friends were enthusiastically describing as a 'genius'.
"Well?" the voice interrupted his musings.
Set walked briskly across the room before holding out his hand. "Set di Asta. The university sent me; I believe you consented to allow me to look at your engineering projects?"
The man nodded slowly. "Yes, I did. It is a pleasure to meet you, Set. I've heard a lot about you and your own projects."
Set's eyes burned with pride. "Coming from you, Signor da Vinci, that is a great honour."
Leonardo da Vinci's eyes sparkled with mirth, and he turned back to the door. "Do come in."
Set bent slightly to enter the room and, in spite of himself, bit back a gasp. It was a scientist's dream (and a maid's nightmare); books and papers lay in piles everywhere, drawings, both artistic and scientific, scattered on the tables, models of contraptions that made Set's heart leap with excitement were strewn all over the room, some even hanging from the ceiling. There was a large easel covered up with a sheet in the corner, and one wall was covered with a bookshelf. Set could see the dust motes in the triangular stripe of sunlight that streamed in through the only window, and as he breathed in he smelt the musty scent of old books. Grinning, Set settled down in a wooden chair.
"I wished to talk to you about your engineering aspirations, Signor," Set began. "Your work has... impressed me, to say the least."
The professor smiled. "I assume that you are not impressed very often, Set."
He inclined his head. "True. Most scientists are so very... uninspired." Set realised as he spoke that he sounded extremely arrogant, but this was how he always was, and he was damned if he would behave differently towards anyone, even if they were a 'genius'.
"Well. I'm glad you find me inspired." Set had the slight feeling that the man was teasing him, but ignored him and turned his gaze to some of the sketches on the table next to him.
"I was especially intrigued by your siege warfare theories..." his voice died away as he shifted one of the diagrams to reveal a small, rough sketch on top of a pile of papers.
With a trembling hand he drew out the parchment and held it up to the light, before breathing out shakily.
Da Vinci peered round curiously, wondering why Set had suddenly stopped and had gone so pale. "Ah, one of my drawings. I apologise- they do get mixed up." He chuckled to himself, before squinting at it. "I call that one 'A Fight between a Dragon and a Lion'."
Set placed the drawing down gently, his calm expression at odds with his mental chaos.
Dragon. Egypt. Priest. Lotus. Kisara…
"A tad fantastical, maybe," the other man continued to muse. "After all, dragons are merely creatures of myth…"
"Who's to say?" Set interrupted, smoothly, flexing his fingers in his lap to calm himself down. "Maybe they do exist."
Da Vinci eyed him. "Perhaps," he said, slowly. "There are many things we do not know about this world. Many things that we don't know are possible may be exactly that."
"Like living forever." Set said, quietly. He gazed at the professor with piercing blue eyes (an icy blue, they'd become so cold and hardened over time…). "Would you say that is possible, Signor?"
He held Set's gaze. "I'd say it wasn't. But who knows? Maybe one day the secret to eternal life will be revealed," he said, thoughtfully.
"What about travelling from body to body over many lifetimes?" Set was leaning forward now, desperate to hear the man's answer. "What would you say to that?"
"Ah, you mean rebirth. Reincarnation- you have been reading too much Plato. You are on dangerous territory, Set," he remarked, seriously. "Some people might regard that as heresy."
"But is it possible?" Set insisted. "And can the cycle ever be broken?"
The man shrugged, slowly. "I'm afraid I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe there is something that ties the soul to earth; maybe it is all fantasy. It is impossible to ever tell."
Set smiled, with a touch of sadness. "But you dream in the impossible, Signor." He pointed (almost respectfully, but not quite) at the large drawing of what looked like a wooden bird. "If you can dream of flying, then surely you can dream of this."
Da Vinci bowed his head and smiled. "I dream of freedom, Set. And of art, and of science. But being trapped in an eternal cycle, bound to this earth with no way of getting out… That is not freedom. Besides," he waved his hand. "I am no philosopher. You'd be better taking this up with some of your friends at the university."
Set nodded and heard the man change the topic back to engineering without really listening. He watched a swallow swoop down to its nest outside the window, and wished for one second that he could be free.
(He was so tired. So tired of losing).
I'm so sorry, Kisara. But I don't think I can do this.
1872 AD, England
-The Life of Heartbreak
Set walked briskly down the cobbled street, studiously ignoring everyone around him. Hailing a cab, he bumped into a muddy beggar boy and immediately cursed and brushed off his coat tails in disgust. Wide eyed with fear, the boy raced off. Not feeling the slightest bit guilty, Set reasoned that he had a right to be bad tempered after what had just happened. Stepping up into the carriage, he muttered his address irritably to the driver and slammed the door shut.
How could he have just done such a stupid, irresponsible, immature… Set curled his hand into a fist as he pondered furiously on his reckless actions.
They had been perfect for one another. At least from a purely practical point of view; she was a member of a noble family who needed to marry into money; he was a rich factory owner who needed to marry into the nobility to be taken seriously. Everything had been engineered towards this day, the day where their bond would be made official and he would ask her to marry him.
It was the perfect plan, no, the obvious plan. One didn't marry for love in this day and age, Set thought angrily, unless one planned on ending up destitute. It was quite ridiculous how he had balked at the final hurdle, how he had turned and run at the most absurd time…
He had prepared his speech, the ring was in his pocket, the meeting had been arranged- everything was ready. And at the last minute, when he was standing in the centre of her elaborate drawing room and she was seated primly in one of the armchairs, he had stammered some foolish excuse and hightailed it out of there so fast the poor girl hadn't even had time to blink.
Seto leaned back into the padded seat and sighed in frustration. It wasn't her fault; she was really quite pretty, well educated, musical, quiet and domesticated. Surely that was everything he wanted? (Or at least, what he'd convinced himself he wanted). Why hadn't he been able to ask her one simple question that would benefit them both?
Because you're in love with someone else.
Set's head jerked up at the thought. Could it be true? No, that was preposterous, he thought dismissively. He would definitely remember something like that- no matter how trivial he considered many emotions, he wasn't so cold-hearted as to fall in love and then forget about it!
A memory stirred at the back of his mind. Long hair, the colour of a white lotus, and such wonderful sparkling eyes…
Tears welled up involuntarily in Set's eyes though he refused to let them fall. He remembered (of course he remembered, how could he forget yet again?)
"Kisara," he let out a moan, and clutched at his face in horror as he recalled how he had abandoned his quest in his last lifetime, just because he was tired of searching… He had given up on the woman he- what did he feel for her? Set stifled a bitter laugh; was it really true that after two and half thousand years of searching he still didn't know how he felt about her?
Love. That was the only explanation.
"Kisara… I love you," Set rolled the words around in his mouth. They felt right. (They felt good.)
But with the confession came the pain that had been sealed away behind his icy eyes, that agony some dub 'heartbreak'. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, before rapping on the small window and shouting to the driver: "Take me to the docks!"
Set had made a promise.
And he intended to keep it.
1945 AD, America
-The Life of Hope
Set stopped in the middle of Times Square, giving up on his determined quest to push through the crowds of people waving newspapers and flags, and stood still for a second to soak in the atmosphere. The good mood was infectious, and Set felt a grin twitch at the corners of his mouth. There was noise everywhere; screaming and shouting and laughing and crying and above all the shout of : "It's over! The war is over! They've surrendered! We've WON!" Fireworks flashed in the sky and the crowd appeared to be a sea of red, white and blue there were so many flags.
The crowd stretched on for what seemed like miles; countless happy people, forgetting for one moment how much they had lost in the cursed war and just wanting to rejoice in the fact that it was all over.
Set, despite having lived through more wars than he cared to mention, couldn't help but feel buoyed up at the end of this one. Maybe this was a sign of hope, maybe from here on out everything would be different…
"Of course, what people are forgetting is that war's still going on," Set overheard a man next to him say, his voice just audible over the clamor.
"Exactly," his friend agreed, dubiously. "What about our troops in the East? Do these people think Japan is just going to fall into place just like that?"
The crowd surged forward, and Set was borne away from the two men, which was probably a good thing because he had suddenly felt like punching them for spoiling his good mood.
All the same, Japan.
It sounded familiar.
It sounded... right.
Set suddenly felt assured that it would be soon that he would see her again, and that in spite of everything that was going on now it would be in that country.
His heart lighter than it had been in years (centuries) he took off his hat and waved and cheered with the rest of the crowd.
2003 AD, Japan
-The Life where he Found Her (also known as; The Final Life)
Seto Kaiba didn't believe in magic.
Seto Kaiba didn't believe in myths, legends, fairies, and especially not Dragons.
(Of course, that was what he wanted them all to believe.)
He had to admit this life had been better than many of his others. He hadn't expected to form such a quick attachment to his little brother (who had actually triggered his memories with the crudely drawn Blue Eyes White Dragon 'card') but it was certainly comforting to finally have someone instead of being alone again. His childhood hadn't been good, but he'd endured worse, and he was definitely enjoying this modern day version of the Shadow Games.
And the best part of all?
They were here.
They were all here with him; his Pharaoh, Isis, Shaadi, Mahaado and Mana (admittedly sealed into cards)- he was even relieved to see the Thief King again. Because if they were all here, then that meant he was finally close to finding her. 3000 years he had waited; yes, he hadn't been sealed into a card or a Millennium Item, but how was that any worse than what he had had to endure? Surely spending 3000 years in sleep was better than 3000 years of bitter self-loathing and disgrace?
He wondered mildly if any of the others had gone through as many rebirths; somehow he doubted it, they all seemed so young. So why had he alone been reborn so many times? Maybe he'd get Isis (no, wait, Ishizu) to explain it all to him one day. Maybe.
But as Seto held up the Blue Eyes card he held clutched in his hand to the stone tablet, and as he muttered words (spells, incantations) he had dredged up from the back of his memory, and watched the form of a young girl slowly form on the stone floor, he didn't care why.
He just cared that, finally, it had.
He wrapped his arms gently around the unconscious girl and let the blank card (that had just minutes before been decorated with a white dragon) fall to the floor. Burying his face in her hair and smelling the scent of lotuses once more, Seto was finally happy.
He had found her.
:DDD Yay for happy (slightly ambiguous) endings! Anyway, prepare for the massive A/N list of doom! (If you don't care about the finer historical points, feel free to skip! ;D)
1) All historical information is as accurate as possible. For example, the scene set in the USA is actually taken from real photos I found on the internet of the event. (Had to do right by all you Americans out there, didn't I? xD) I'm not going to go into detail, but if you think I got something wrong feel free to ask!
2) Ladon the Drakon was thrown into the stars (in the myth) and is now the constellation 'Draco'.
3) The surname 'di Asta' is a sort of private joke- it means 'of the Rod'. Heh heh, stupid puns FTW!
4) Leonardo da Vinci was an engineer, and one of his passions was the idea of flight. Also, the drawing 'The Fight between a Dragon and a Lion' is real- go look it up!
5) The mention of Plato refers to the fact that some of his work, only translated in the Renaissance from Greek, talked about the idea of reincarnation and really sparked the first Western interest in the theory.
Well, I hope you liked. And I hope I didn't completely frustrate too many history students out there *is worried*
(Oh, and message for Doubleplusgoodduckspeaker: Did you see? Are you proud of me? I really cut down on them this chapter- I went through and cut about half of them in the final proofread! xD!)
Thanks for reading! :D