A/N: Infinite love and gratitude to ChaosRocket for being my beta for this fic. This story occurs way before the Memory World arc, so at least 3-5 years before it.
Warning: Two angry boys = violence = swearing = mature situations that will eventually make this rated M.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.
Chapter 1: Nut Steals the Sun
It was so quiet, I almost didn't catch it. I paused long enough to listen, bathed in my own sheen of cold sweat, poised to sprint if the noise was human.
There it was again.
An intermittent swish against the sandy floor, dragging over the grains of dirt and my own ears.
Shit. I wet my lips out of habit and dropped back against one of the columns in the hypostyle hall, letting the shadows consume my shape. If I had any luck, it was just an animal. At this point, even a viper would be friendlier than a guard.
The rustle drew closer. A breeze blew through the rows of columns, cooling my warm face and sticking the linen to my clammy skin.
Then, an accompanying sound—and when I recognized it, my heart clamped in my throat—footsteps. I ceased to breathe.
But abruptly I realized this could indicate only one thing: a trespasser. Why else would he, like me, skulk around these sacred rooms so late, after Nut had entirely swallowed the sun and dotted the heavens? The intruder was quieter than me, whoever he was. He crept as silently as a snake gliding through water, causing a minimal ripple in his surroundings.
I followed him.
He was bold, striding across the middle of the hypostyle hall, where the moonlight fell from the window slits in the roof, lighting his path. The rest of the hall was submerged in darkness, and I took to the columns, hugging their contours and moving only when he moved, letting his noise mask my own.
The pale light caught his blood red cloak, making the color glisten and drip as he moved. Instantly, I recognized the rustling noise: the cloak dragged on the sand behind him as he walked. Though I couldn't see his face—I stayed at least seven columns behind—I guessed he couldn't be much older than me.
He cut through the second hall.
Here I had to drop back. There were no windows in the roof and the columns were a dense thicket on each side of the hall. One loud step, one loud smack into a column and he would hear me, so I had to leave some distance. The hallway was dank; the very air was thick and oppressive because this chamber was seldom in use. Only the pharaoh and the high priests could step here.
He entered the sanctuary.
I didn't follow immediately because this room was small and he would hear me at once. But on this cool night, standing in a chamber restricted to civilians, surrounded by walls sculpted with rituals and gods and sacrifice, I shuddered. I knew I shouldn't be here.
And the next thing made me freeze.
"So what are you hesitating for?"
His voice rang out in the silence, reverberating against the walls and deafening me. It was pitch black in the sanctuary, but I heard the intruder shift, turning toward me.
"You followed all this way but won't come into the sanctuary?"
My throat went dry. I pressed myself against the gateway between the second hall and the sanctuary, begging the walls to swallow me up. How could he have heard me? My footsteps had been measured and silent. I had made no noise at all.
The next sound chilled my bones: He laughed. Low and loud, hurtling at me like a stampede.
Suddenly, he approached me. I couldn't see two feet in front of me, but he moved as surely as if it was noon. Silently, as though slithering over the sand, he was at my side and his breath was hot and humid on my face. I didn't even have time to realize I should move.
He shoved me hard at the wall, keeping a grip on my shoulder, and I felt something cold and sharp trace my neck.
"I don't think I've had the pleasure," he jeered.
He moved the knife leisurely against the edge of my jaw, without breaking skin. If nothing else, I could see his smirk.
"Hand it over," I finally spoke, keeping my voice low and demanding.
He paused, as though finding my resistance amusing. "Hand what over?"
"What you just stole from the shrine."
He shifted, and I heard the chink of gold clashing on gold in his cloak, perhaps the edges of the object clanking together. He paused again, calculatingly.
"So you knew what was hidden in the shrine? I'm impressed. No doubt you're from the palace, to know something like that."
His body was warm, barring my escape, and I could smell the musky perspiration on him. He leaned closer, and the tips of his wild hair prickled my face. My hand edged toward the belt hanging on my hip, while I prayed he would stay distracted.
"Of course, if you're from the palace, you're not a very good thief. They indulge your every whim, so how you could possibly need anything?"
I grasped the hilt, now it was just a matter of pulling carefully…
He chuckled. "You probably thought you were being careful, following me so far behind. That's a pathetic way to—"
Grabbing his arm, I twisted it around until I heard him scream. But before he could retaliate, I pulled the dagger from my belt and slashed through the darkness, making three strokes before I heard the rip of fabric and a sharp intake of breath.
"You asshole," I said in a low voice. "You don't even know shit about me, so I don't know how you can make these assumptions."
I heard him breathe with effort. Then, a rustle of fabric—most likely his attempt to stem the blood flow.
"And you're awfully slow, for someone so arrogant," I continued, drawing toward him.
I still needed the object in his cloak, but he was stepping back, and all I heard was the shuffle of feet over the dirt floor.
"Bastard," he growled, his voice at least a good ten feet away.
I moved forward carefully; he was armed and pissed, not the friendliest of combinations. Following the sound of his heavy breathing, I angled the knife in front of me and stepped over the packed earth.
"Oh shit," he breathed, suddenly going still.
I instantly realized he wasn't reacting to me. I turned, glancing back at the gateway of the second hall, and the sight stopped me in my tracks.
A pale light beamed in the blackness, coming toward us. The possibilities were limited: this building was forbidden to villagers and it was the dead of night.
He was still in the hypostyle hall, at least, but he was nearing the sanctuary quickly; he would be on us in mere minutes.
The punishment for breaking into a sanctuary was steep, but bearable—I would live.
But the punishment for stealing from the shrine was death.
I had to get out of here; no gold was worth my life. Forgetting entirely about the thief and the object in his cloak, I broke into a run, heading in the opposite direction of the approaching guard. The darkness pressed all around me; there was probably no immediate way out of the sanctuary, but the adrenaline made me reckless.
It wasn't long before I found the opposite wall. I smacked right into it, dashing into mud brick with full force. Ignoring the ringing in my head, I pressed my hands over the walls, hunting for an opening. There had to be a door here somewhere. How else would the high priests leave? There couldn't only be one way in.
"Are you an idiot? If you're looking for a door, you're shit out of luck," the thief whispered, somewhere behind me. "They build these things for rituals and festivals—not for thieves."
I cursed, realizing he was right. "So what do we do?"
I felt childish, asking my attacker this sort of question. And the use of we was just sickening to me.
"Well I don't see any other option, do you?" he snapped, breathing with difficulty. "Kill him."
A chill ran down my back, hearing him say it so plainly. I had never killed anyone in my life. I was a thief, yes, but not a murderer.
The torch light drew closer. I bit my lip hard, realizing the guard was probably near the second hall gateway.
"You can't do it, can you?" the thief sneered. Despite the venom in his words, I still heard the panic. He was as tense as I was.
I dodged the question. "Can you?"
"Easily," he said bitterly. "But I'm no help to you now. I can't feel my arm and I'm bleeding like hell."
"Shit," I muttered, and ran a hand through my hair, thinking. The sanctuary was small, maybe twenty by twenty feet overall; we couldn't hide. The guard's torch would light up the room and give us no refuge. The gateway was tall but narrow; we couldn't slip past him.
"We're stuck," I concluded.
"Thank you," the thief said in exasperation. "I realized that. Now what are you going to do about it?"
I heard footsteps. The torch shone at us brightly, illuminating the sanctuary. I could see through the darkness, faintly, and the first thing I looked at was the thief.
He had a handsome face; boyish, with high cheekbones and full lips. He was holding his torso with his left hand, bunching the red cloak around the knife wound, and allowing his right arm to hang limply at his side. He caught me staring and glowered, no doubt hating me for injuring him at such a critical time. The scar under his right eye marred his otherwise flawless face.
I edged toward the gateway of the sanctuary and crouched down to wait, letting the shadows hide me. I took a deep breath, but my pulse quickened regardless. I was about to kill a man. I was about to seal my death, if I failed.
The thief had hidden by the shrine, where the shadows were abundant. I glanced at him, but he just stared at the gateway, his jaw set.
The footsteps neared the gateway. Nearly the whole sanctuary was lit. I waited. Just a few more seconds now—
The guard had stepped two feet into the sanctuary when I attacked.
Swinging the knife forward, I pierced his shoulder, causing him to shout and drop his torch. It rolled over the dirt floor and flickered. The guard's eyes landed on me and it took him only a split second to understand it all.
He blocked my next attack by throwing his arm forward, letting the gold bracelet on his arm strike my knife. A sharp clang rang out, and while I was momentarily thrown by his quick reflexes, he drew the khopesh at his side and brought it to my neck.
"Drop the knife," the guard ordered, and I obeyed without word. The knife landed at my feet with a thud.
He pressed the sword against my neck, hard enough to draw blood.
"What are you doing in the temple?" the guard asked, narrowing his black eyes at me. "Answer me."
I glanced toward the shrine instinctively and he followed my gaze, understanding instantly. He must have realized that the only thing of interest in this temple was the gold object from the shrine.
"A thief, then," he spat, and forced the blade deeper into my throat.
This was it, then. I would be killed rather than kill. I shut my eyes, feeling warm liquid drip down my neck.
"Kill him! Kill him, you fucker, what are you just standing there for?"
I snapped my eyes open, and glanced at the shrine to see the thief emerge from the shadows. We locked gazes momentarily, and I understood his intent.
The guard looked back and allowed his arm to go slack in surprise. In that instant of distraction, I grabbed the sword from his hand and elbowed him in the side, causing him to drop back and wheeze following the hard shove.
I brought one hand to his throat before he could react, and used the other to bring the khopesh to his chest, where I imagined his heart would be. I didn't pierce the skin, but simply held the sword at him in preparation. This had to be done quickly or not at all.
The guard's eyes were wide, bright with fear. I could kill him. I could stab him right in the heart to make it quick; all I had to do was press the blade forward.
All I had to do is forget that he was human.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from his expression. Caught in surprise and fear. He must have been praying to the gods right then, reliving his life in a split second and wondering if he had any regrets, any unfinished dreams.
All these unspoken thoughts roared at me, shattering my conscience.
My hand dropped from his throat, and my grip on the sword went slack.
I lost my chance.
The guard recognized it, because the next thing I knew, he'd slammed me against the wall and I was sliding down with my head ringing and my vision fading.
I heard the thief cry indignantly and then the clinking sound of chains going around my wrists.
I closed my eyes and slipped away, before it could all go to hell.
A/N: This should be updated pretty regularly as I'm a little bit ahead right now.
Please let me know what you think!