.:Author's Note:.

To those who didn't read the summary, this is a Sickle/Citronshipping fic set in Ancient Egypt. I'm also writing this on a whim and primarily concentrating on my own fictionpress slash story, so updates to this story may be irregular.

Edit: I've organized this story into three parts. Part one is now complete, part two is shorter and set directly after it, and still a work in progress, and part three is set after a short time gap and likely about as long as part one.

Warnings: Part one is non-slash, part two is pre-slash, and part three will have slash. Violence, blood/gore, and foul language are present in each part.

Anywho, enjoy, and please review.

-DxH

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Chapter One: Initiation

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Darkness.

Unwavering, deep, darkness the color of solitude and misplaced desperation. It was a darkness so black I couldn't see my fingertips when they tore at my eyes, and neither could I compare it to anything I had ever seen, not the deepest, darkest cave nor the thickest, purest ebony.

It was dark, and it was silent. Not a single sound. Only darkness, silence, nothing. Nothing. I reached out. I took a step forward. Nothing.

I bent over to touch the ground, but there was nothing. As far as I ran, there were no walls, no doors, no light. Nowhere to escape the dark.

Here, in this darkness, I waited. Patiently. For what? I don't know. But there was nothing else I could do. So I waited.

The morning sun rose above the mountainous horizon of Egypt, a brilliant orange globe tamed by the early morning and surrounded by a blanket of purple and fuchsia. The sun's rays settled calmly over soft dunes and sun bleached mounds of stone and rock hundreds of feet tall.

Civilization rested here and there, beside the occasional oases' of green-leafed date palms and shallow rivers surrounded by bushes of pink and green laurels. Cubic houses of clay and straw nestled amidst the towering trees housed entire families, and were generally spaced out between large plots of land growing various crops tough-headed enough to stand the sun's heavy lashings over the long summer. Small markets ran through the larger villages. Narrow streets bustled with merchants and traders, vendor, peddlers, and hawkers calling out in wind-hoarse voices. Small stalls squeezed together along the walls of the streets, making up for their size in color and commodities. As crowds of olive-skinned men and women buzzed through the streets, sellers bared their goods atop colorful table-scarves, presenting riches from exotic fruits to silver jewelry to exquisite embroidery and clothes of fibers dyed in peacock colors.

Far, far away from the bustling crowds and exotic colors, beneath the surface of the patient desert, a boy lay sleeping. His skin remained a traditional olive tone, though paler from lack of exposure to the sun, and his features defined a delicate youth, still a mere child. His long-lashed eyes were closed and lined with dark kohl, and twitched in his sleep, as though restless. The boy breathed softly and steadily, nudging at a shock of dirty blond hair which settled just past his shoulders.

A small sound from close by awakened the boy. He released a small sigh, his hand curling into a loose fist, and slowly opened his eyes, blinking absentmindedly. He nudged at an amethyst eye with one hand and stiffly sat up, swinging his legs over the side of his wood-supported white cot. He looked around the plain, familiar space that made up his room; a russet colored square space furnished only with his bed, a small wooden dresser, and a palm-wood table covered in calligraphy scrolls, old, leather bound books, and a few charcoal pencils. The room was dimly lit by several oil candles which flickered and wavered on their think wicks.

Dressed only in a long white tunic, the boy left his bed and padded quietly towards the door. He opened it and peered out into the dark corridor, an expanse lit by several torches bound to the wall. He left the door partly open behind him and scurried down the hallway on tiptoe until he reached a thick wooden door. Here he stopped, pressed his right ear against the door, and listened.

Slightly muffled voices reverberated from the other side of the door.

"Don't you think it's too early? He's still just a child. The initiation could kill him!" he heard a soft, feminine voice say frantically.

Initiation? Kill? The boy shivered.

"Nonsense. He is strong, unlike his mother." Berated a deeper voice, rough with age. "I myself acquired the marks of the initiation at twelve. He is of age."

"Please, father. You don't understand. Marik is not as strong as you are. He does not understand the weight of this future. The pain itself, he won't be able to –"

"That's enough, Ishizu. He is my only heir, and he will undertake the initiation."

Before the boy could hear more, a large hand snaked from behind him and clamped itself around his mouth. He released a muffled yelp and struggled against the firm grip until his captor knelt beside him, his hand still pressed to the boy's mouth.

"Come, master Marik, you should not be here." Whispered a tall young man clad in a similar white tunic with dark, slanted eyes. His head was completely shaved save for a long extension of black hair tied up by a leather thong at the back of his head. The young boy, Marik, relaxed and nodded. The two hurried back to Marik's room, where they closed the door and settled on the bed. After a few minutes of silence, Marik looked up at the older boy.

"Rishid, what exactly did sister mean by the 'initiation?' And what's a tombkeeper? I've heard dad mention it to me a few times, but I'm not really sure what it means. What does it have to do with me?" Rishid's eyes widened slightly, but he quickly averted his gaze, a troubled look upon his features.

"The initiation… is a ceremony. It means that you're ready to accept your responsibilities as keeper and guardian of the Tomb's secrets."

"If I go through the initiation, does that mean that I'll be able to go to the surface?" Marik asked, a tinge of hope seeping through his voice. Rishid sighed.

"I doubt it." He replied quietly. The duties of the Tombkeeper require your attention to remain on duties here underground. You may be able to go up once in a while if something comes up, but… I do not think you will have much of an opportunity."

Marik glanced at Rishid then down to his hands.

"I see." He replied quietly, his expression crestfallen. He suddenly remembered Ishizu's words and stiffened.

"Rishid?" He asked, "The initiation. Does it hurt?" Rishid bit his lip and looked down, his features contorted.

"I –" Before he could say any more, the door to the room opened, and a man and woman entered the room. Rishid rose stiffly and bowed his head in greeting. The woman, a young lady younger than Rashid but old enough to claim womanhood, was clad in a white robe clashing with her long ebony hair which cascaded down her shoulders. She was blessed with soft features and enviable beauty, delicate olive skin, large blue eyes, and long, dark lashes. She nodded towards Rishid. The man beside her was a tall, intimidating person despite his age with shaggy pale blond hair matching a thick beard and dark, stern, violet eyes. He, however, barely acknowledged Rishid and locked his eyes on the young boy before him, who flinched under his gaze.

"Marik, have you completed your studies for the week? Your tutor will arrive soon." Marik nodded weekly. Aknadin Ishtar walked over to the wooden desk and pushed around a few papers, letting several scrolls clatter and roll to the ground. He perused various documents and, with a satisfied grunt, dropped them back onto the desk, scattering papers along the floor.

He strode back to Marik and looked down at him purposefully.

"In a few days time, you will receive the Tombkeeper's initiation." He said gravely. "Make no mistake. This is no flimsy ceremony, but a ritual crucial to your future. The initiation will pass along to you a most ancient secret, and it will be your duty to protect this secret, and the Sennen Items, with your life. Do you understand?" Marik nodded uncertainly.

"Father please –" Ishizu began, pleadingly. Aknadin silenced her with a sharp glare. Rishid clenched his fist and stepped forward defensively in front of Marik, facing the Ishtar Family's patriarch.

"Father, please allow me to take Marik's place. He is too young and frightened, and he may not survive such an ordeal. If you allow me to –" Rishid was abruptly stopped as Aknadin's hand flew out and struck Rishid across the face with a resonating crack. Marik released a small squeak of alarm and Ishizu stifled a yelp, but Rishid simply remained in place, his face slightly inclined to the side and his eyes wide with shock. A red welt began to form on his cheek, but he only clenched his fists even tighter.

"You are no son of mine." Aknadin hissed angrily. "You will never claim the position of Tombkeeper. That duty is only for the legitimate heir of the Ishtars." He turned back towards Marik, his eyes boring deep into the boy. Marik began to quiver under the pressure of the gaze and averted his eyes.

"Look at me!" Aknadin roared. Marik flinched, biting back tears and looked up at his father.

"You will carry out the initiation. I expect you to be ready on the say of the seventh sun." Aknadin said in a softer tone. Marik nodded, blinking back the tears which threatened to fall. Marik's father narrowed his eyes and nodded before turning on his heel and striding out of the room.

As soon as his footsteps could no longer be heard echoing down the corridor, Ishizu burst into tears. She fell to her knees, burying her face in her hands and sobbing openly. Rishid hurried to her side and knelt beside her, wrapping an arm protectively around her trembling shoulders. Marik remained seated on the bed tears sliding down his face, more shocked and confused at his sister's sudden breakdown than his own sudden predicament.

"Sis?" He said tentatively, standing up and taking a step forward. "Rishid, what's wrong with Ishizu?" he asked imploringly. Rishid glanced up and placed a finger to his lips. Marik immediately closed his mouth and watched helplessly as his sister wept openly in Rishid's arms.

The morning of the seventh sun, Marik lay quietly in his room, expecting in a sullen, hollow way. He was still uncertain of what lay before him. All he knew was that he had been raised for the sole purpose of guarding the tomb of a once great Pharaoh and to protect the powerful items buried with him.

"What's the point of guarding the corpse of a long dead guy anyway?" Marik muttered into his pillow. He started upright as his door suddenly slammed open. Aknadin's figure appeared through the doorway. He met Marik's eyes and made a beckoning motion with one hand.

"Get up." He ordered. "It's time." Marik felt a shudder run through his body but obediently clambered out of bed and followed after his father. Marik treaded after his father down the long corridor and through several large chambers supported by wide pillars. Torches braced to the walls flickered as they passed, sending ominous shadows to tear at the walls around them.

With every step, Marik felt his feet grow heavier and heavier. His breathing began to accelerate with his pulse and a light sweat formed along his brow. He father suddenly stopped in front of a large wooden double-door. Before opening it, he turned to regard Marik. Marik stumbled to a halt behind his father and looked up tentatively. Aknadin looked over his son's face and sighed. He reached out a hand and gripped Marik firmly by the shoulder. Marik blinked startled, and looked up into his father's eyes. The man returned his gaze for a few minutes before turning away, his hand retreating from Marik's shoulder.

Marik followed his father into a large chamber. A fireplace on the right of the room sheltered a small fire which glowed red hot on a bed of burning coals. The space was relatively empty except for a large, rectangular table made of gray stone slate. An iron ring protruded from either side of the table, and, to Marik's increasing discomfort, coils of rope and a variety of sharpened knives hung from the wall on the left.

"Father, what are those for?" Marik asked quietly, his voice trembling.

"Your safety." Aknadin replied, refusing to expand. Marik felt a sudden urge to escape far away but bit his lip and stood his ground.

A strange man in a dark cloak stood in a shadowed corner, watching them through piercing green eyes. Aknadin and the man exchanged a few words before Aknadin turned and began to walk towards the door. Suddenly struck by a lance of fear, Marik grabbed at his father's cloak.

"Father, where are you going? Don't leave me here!" He pleaded, tears springing to his eyes. Aknadin paused but tore his cloak from Marik's grip and strode out of the room. Marik called out and made to follow him, but was suddenly held back as the strange man's hand gripped his wrist. Marik yelped and struggled, but the stranger's grip on his arm tightened painfully. Suddenly, the man dragged him towards the table and slammed him down. Marik let out a small bark of pain as his head connected with the table. His vision went fuzzy and he was vaguely aware of his hands being tied together in front of him. Marik felt his body hoisted up and dropped ungallantly atop the table. He groaned as a sharp pain stabbed through his arms. Marik blinked, clearing his head, and realized that his wrists had been tied together by a rope and bound tightly to the iron hoop at the front end of the table.

Marik heard a noise behind him and swung his face around. His body suddenly froze, his voice caught, and all the blood in his body suddenly ran cold. The sinister, green-eyed man pulled a long, thin knife from the fireplace and advanced upon Marik, the knife one hand and a long white cloth in the other. Marik fought against the rope, thrashing wildly and screaming. Tears ran down the boy's face as fear and desperation clawed at his stomach.

The man, realizing the extent of Marik's rebelliousness, set down the knife and grabbed another rope. With quickness and familiar dexterity, he whipped the rope around Marik's flailing legs, tied them tightly together and bound them to the iron ring at the end of the table. Marik began shrieking, hardly bothering to control the tears running down his face.

"Father, Ishizu, Rishid! Help me please! Anybody! Help me!"

Someone help me.

The man grabbed the white cloth and roughly jammed it across Marik's mouth, tying it behind his head. Marik tried to scream, but his cried were muffled by the cloth crammed between his teeth. The flickering torches sent dark creatures lunging on the walls. From the corner of his eye, Marik spotted the shadow of the man advancing upon him and the glitter of the glowing hot knife in his hand. Marik twitched in fear and clenched his eyes shut.

Pain. Searing pain unlike he'd ever experienced. Marik choked and gasped against the cloth. He bit down until his teeth ached and stung with the effort. He strained against the jarring stabs of pain as the searing hot knife carved ancient secrets into his flesh. Each new touch of the blade felt fresh and hot, equally as painful and mind-numbing as the last. Tears flowed freely from Marik's eyes as he sobbed from behind the cloth. The pain sent sparks of white flickering in front of his eyes until suddenly, he was engulfed in darkness and the pain disappeared.

I waited. Silence and darkness surrounded me, but I waited.

Suddenly, I heard a voice. A pleading, helpless voice. Where was it coming from? From me? From the Outside? I head someone sobbing. I reached out a hand and groped blindly.

Can you hear me? I asked. I heard a sniffle.

Yes, I can hear you. Who are you?

I don't know. I suppose I am you.

Me?

Perhaps.

Can you help me?

What do you need help for?

It hurts. Everything hurts so much.

It's alright. The pain will go away soon.

Really?

Promise.

.:Author's Note:.

I hope that wasn't too painful to read. This is actually my first fanfiction. Ever. I finally decided to write a fanfict after putting it off for... a long time. I just can't seem to write much about characters from other series. Maybe its because I feel insecure about the correct portrayal of their characters...? So if the characters' personality seems a bit off, I apologize. Besides, this is a slash story so of course it's not going to be much like the original story.

Sorry for the long intro. I prefer setting and details first. And for those reading this like "Gee this was all in the anime, I already know all this." Well you know what? PISH AND POSH. It serves a purpose, just wait and see.

Also, no card games in here.

Review?

-DxH