Author Notes:

So Chapter 10 is done!

-Remember these: [Brackets] indicate setting, Italics indicate thoughts,"This font" (italics + quotation) is used for either Yugi or the Pharaoh, depending on who's in spirit form

- Yugi and the Pharaoh do swap places so don't get confused!

-Disclaimer is in Chapter 1

-That's really all I have to say, so on to the chapter!

Chapter 10: Facing the Shadow

The four rushed through the halls of the lodge as fast as they could. The augmented reality-labeled walls twisted and turned in front of them but Astral was concentrated on something behind the running duelists. Noticing this, Yuma put on the brakes.

"What's up Astral?"

Astral didn't answer at first. He kept his eyes fixed on the darkness behind the group; worried that if he looked away, whatever he sensed might materialize. All the while he listened intently for the slight creaking of footsteps that had tipped him off to their pursuer. After a moment of dead silence, he turned to Yuma and replied, "I have the feeling that someone or something is following us!"

"Then, let's move!" Yugi prompted from the side.

The four raced down the corridor, sliding around corners, and doing their best not to run into the walls.

Astral looked behind them, expecting a figure to be right on their heels. However, he found that the hallway was still clear. Relief started to fill him until he picked up on the sound of moaning floor boards. It was farther away than before but the sounds ensured that the stalker's route matched the one they had just taken.

"How is it?" Yuma yelled to Astral.

"No good!"

"Our next option is to confront this thing!" the Pharaoh opted.

Yugi nodded in agreement. With Yuma and Astral quick to follow, he chose a random room door and motioned for everyone to get in.

The four of them crowded by the crack in the door; waiting silently for their pursuer. Astral's ears pricked up on the sound of footsteps. Each step caused the floor to slowly groan like it was in pain. Finally, the noise was close enough that Yugi, Yuma, and the Pharaoh picked up on it too. Yugi imagined that their owner must have been turning the last corner before the room they were hiding in. It got closer and the footfalls became more hesitant. Finally, the shadowy figure reached the door's entrance. Everyone held their breath.

"NOW!" the Pharaoh yelled!

The four jumped out to tackle the unsuspecting pursuer! Astral and the Pharaoh tried their best to help pin down the shadow, despite being in intangible form. Luckily, the figure fell to Yuma's and Yugi's combined strength.

"Not so tough now that you've been caught!" Yuma boasted from the side. He was expecting an angry reply from the captive and boy did he get one!

A crazed feminine voice rose from the captured figure, "What Do You Think You're Doing? Yuma, you IDIOT!"

Yuma's face turned bright red in the dark hallway. He took a better look through his D-gazer to confirm but the childhood insult was already far too recognizable.

Kotori was pinned to the ground underneath the two male duelists and their respective spirits. Upon recognition, all four retreated to standing positions; leaving her to dust herself off.

Yugi asked in a slightly embarrassed tone. "Kotori, is it? We're sorry about that," he explained while extending a hand to help Kotori up. "We heard someone following us and assumed the worst. You know how darkness can play tricks on the mind."

Yuma let out a sigh of relief as Kotori accepted Yugi's excuse for the sudden attack but then something crossed his mind. "Kotori, why were you following us anyway?"

Kotori looked over at Yuma, "I heard this loud thump come from your room so I decided to check it out but when I got there it was deserted. Then, I heard you guys walking through the halls together so I followed."

Yuma rubbed his backside a bit, taking an accurate guess as to what the thump sound she heard was.

"So what are you doing up at this time of night?" Kotori asked.

"We think there may be a troubling presence on the grounds so we were on our way outside," answered Yugi.

Kotori turned to address Yuma, "So that means you're running headlong into danger again?"

Yuma stiffened and a little, "Uhh," escaped his mouth.

With that Kotori stepped closer to him and pointed accusingly at Yuma, "Of course you were!" She sighed heavily and took a step back. "Then, I'm coming too."

"You are Not!" Yuma proclaimed!

"Yes, I am and there is nothing you can say to stop me!" She crossed her arms again like she was daring Yuma to try and change her mind. Lucky for her, neither of the boys could think of a way so group increased by one member.

Together they found the door that led outside the duel lodge. As they gazed around at the grounds a nocturnal bird shrieked from a nearby tree, causing everyone to stiffen. After regaining his composure, the Pharaoh turned to Astral.

"Do you still sense the dark presence from earlier?"

Astral focused on the dark woods in front of them and pointed ahead. "In there, no mistake."

Astral led the charge to the tree line. Yuma followed closely along with the rest of the group. The pace was brisk and the group found themselves jogging at times to keep up with Astral's flying.

"Yugi," the Pharaoh nudged from the side.

"What is it?"

"If Kaster is waiting for us, then we might be running right into a trap. We must be prepared for anything he might pull!"

Yugi nodded in agreement but failed to notice a small log in front of him. A second later, Yugi found himself heading for a face plant into the leaf litter.

"Yugi!" The Pharaoh called as he reached out to take over.

With the Pharaoh's quick reflexes, he recovered mid-trip and continued trekking.

"Thanks for that Pharaoh!" Yugi replied in response to the sudden save.

The two didn't bother to switch back. Instead, the Pharaoh continued on to catch up with Yuma, Astral, and Kotori. Yuma looked back quickly to see what all the trouble was. This time, Yuma almost fell in shock when he noticed that Yugi had gained an extra inch and his hair had changed to match the Pharaoh's.

"How did…?" Yuma couldn't finish his question because he finally realized that intangible Yugi was now next to the solid D-gazer-wearing Pharaoh. In summary, the two had changed places.

Astral too, stole a look back at their time traveling kings. Unlike Yuma, Astral had an easy explanation. He thought to himself, So… that is their bond.

A sparse forest glade opened up before the group but the moon and trees created shadows across the open grass, making the ground look scarred. All eyes were drawn to the center of the grass, where a lone figure stood looking up at the stars. The human figure had jet black hair that was set in unruly spikes. The moonlight enunciated the few neon green colored bolt patterns in his hair and the shining duel disk on his left arm. Finally, he took notice of the group that had appeared out of the forest. With a creepy grin on his face he looked down from the stars and acknowledged his guests.

"Well that was fast!" Kaster called out cheerfully. "And here I thought I'd have to make camp in the middle of the woods in a different period of time! It looks like I won't have to go hiking into that futuristic maze they call a city. Lucky me!"

"I'm guessing that's the Kaster guy you were talking about?" Yuma asked.

The Pharaoh and Yugi nodded. The only difference in their opponent was that his voice had an air of slick confidence to it this time.

Without waiting a second longer, the Pharaoh addressed Kaster boldly, "Why did you come to this time? Aren't you satisfied with the mess you've caused already?"

"Satisfied?" Kaster stared back in a confused manner. Then, the tone of his voice did a complete 180, going from smooth and confident to one filled with rage. "How could I be satisfied? You're right here in front of me!"

"What do you mean? You sent me here during that duel. You fulfilled what you set out to do!"

"WRONG! You don't get it," his voice grew even sharper and more irritated. "The people of the past weren't supposed to miss you. They were supposed to Forget You! The reason that little boy is standing next to you is because he recognized you, isn't that right?" Kaster asked while pointing to a fury-filled Yuma. "That wasn't my intention. Not by a long shot! NO! I'm here to finish what I started in that final match! We will duel and when I'm through you, not only your title but every aspect of your being will be wiped from the face of history!"

The Pharaoh shook his head. The rematch was a predictable move. He lifted his duel disk and loaded his deck before turning back to the Heartland and Astral World residents. "Yuma! Stand back! You shouldn't get involved with this. This person is extremely dangerous and highly unpredictable!"

"Nice try but do you know how many times my one friend tells me not to get involved?" Yuma clenched his fist. "I'm here and I can help so there's no way I'm going to let you go it alone!"

Before the Pharaoh could answer, Kaster's evil laugh interrupted him.

Kaster's voice lost its furious tone. Instead, a shrill mocking laugh arose from the dark duelist. "You? Help the King of Games? Pfffft… Know your place Runt! For the King to accept your offer would be a fool's gamble!"

Yuma's eyes shifted to the ground and his fist clenched even harder. The black and neon green-haired duelist's words had a ring of truth and Yuma knew it. How couldn't begin to compare his duel to Yugi's?

"That's not true!" Kotori yelled.

Yuma looked up and over at his longtime friend. His fist started to unclench slightly. "Kotori…"


This time, the voice came from the Pharaoh. Yuma looked over at the King of Games.

"Yuma, this is your time and your city. I also believe that Kaster is wrong. I want you to fight alongside Yugi and me in this duel. Will you do us that honor?" Yugi nodded in confirmation behind him.

Yuma almost couldn't fathom what the Pharaoh had said.

Astral floated beside the dumbstruck Yuma and looked between the duelists. "Kattobingu, Yuma."

"Huh?" Yuma was shocked by Astral repeating his own catchphrase but then he caught on. If there was ever a time to rise to the challenge, it was now! "All right, Kattobingu daze Ore!" Yuma yelled excitedly.

The Pharaoh smiled and exclaimed, "It's time to Duel!"

Meanwhile, Kaster finished tapping his foot in the center of the open area. He muttered quietly, "Sorry kid, but there's no happy ending awaiting you and the king at the end of this duel."

Author's Afterword

Duel starts next chapter… which means I have to write a duel…

I'll do my best!

Look forward to it, and thanks to all those who are reviewing and following this story! I salute all of you for having a ton of patience with me.