Part of crafting believable fiction is establishing rules. Whether you're talking about a contemporary thriller, a supernatural romance, a space opera or an epic ballad, there are rules to follow. That's part of what makes the fantasy genre so special to me. Specifically, I'm talking about medieval fantasy. It's the mixing of realistic people in unrealistic situations.
In the vein of this idea that is so fascinating and inspiring to me, we have this project. Aside from fleshing out the "Good Intentions" universe, this story began as a way for me to break one of the rules that I established for the series when I started. See, when I wrote out the first chapter of the original "Good Intentions," and then the second, and then the third, I started noticing something.
There wasn't any magic.
Yu-Gi-Oh! (or Yuugiou, if that's your bag, baby) is full of magic. Every conflict of the entire series is either caused, or solved, by magic. Most of the time, both. And "Good Intentions" was my way of getting away from that. It's why I set the story long after the timeline of the series. Magic isn't involved. It's just life. Life for Seto, life for Mokuba, and life for the gang.
Well…I wondered what might happen if I introduced magic into the mix at some point. And I decided that I couldn't, in good conscience, do it. Not in the main story.
But…I could do it in another story.
In such throes was "Lightbringer" born.
This is a side-story. A filler arc, if you want to be cynical about it. But I beg that you have patience with it, and with me. I think you'll like where it goes.
This story takes place after the "Shot in the Dark" storyline, so if you haven't read the original "Good Intentions" up until that point, then thar be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
Now, then. Shall we begin?
"You will bring me."
Yugi Mutou woke up with a shock, staring up at the ceiling of his bedroom short of breath and sweating, even though he didn't think he'd been having any kind of nightmare. He took a long, long moment to compose himself before he set his mind, such as it was, to working.
He tried to think; what had just happened? What had he been dreaming about? He couldn't remember. It wasn't like typical dreams or nightmares, where the image is clear as summer daylight and fades with all the quickness of a spirit; he had nothing. He could remember nothing. When he tried to reach into the back of his mind for the slightest inkling of what had put his body into such a state that it was practically seizing, all he got was a blank, black slab of...nothing.
It was still dark. He checked the digital alarm clock on his nightstand. 3:38. He had a couple hours yet before he had to wake up. He turned around, settled the covers about himself, and closed his eyes. He'd been having trouble sleeping for a while, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out what it was that had been bothering him. He didn't think it was anything psychological. Things were pretty good now.
Oh, sure, there was the fuster-cluck of a meeting with Téa a few days back, when Joey had gone on a self-righteous sermon about Kaiba of all people, and Mokuba had all but sentenced the poor girl to death. But he'd been having problems with sleep for about a week before that had happened, and anyway, he wasn't entirely sure that he was upset about that.
Siegfried von Schroeder's kidnapping of Mokuba Kaiba would probably go into Domino City's (colorful) history books as one of the most polarizing events of the Kaiba family's legacy. The way it had ended, with Kaiba putting a bullet through his former business rival's throat and Mokuba subsequently being withdrawn from school (he'd gone back as of a few months ago, but had spent a good half a year being home-schooled by his brother and the Kaiba Estate's staff), had caused a rift between the city's population as wide as the Grand Canyon and twice as deep.
On the one hand, there were the indignant finger-pointers ("haters gonna hate," Joey had said once, then sent himself into a fit of self-deprecating laughter), who said that Seto Kaiba was a murderer and that he was training Mokuba to be the same, that Siegfried von Schroeder had only been guilty of being in the way and his actions were all just one big misunderstanding.
On the other, there were the supporters, who were so haughtily insulted by the arguments of the latter group that they'd all but exploded. Yugi had read some of the blogs and forums and articles in various online magazines, and he couldn't help but be impressed at the level of...well, dedication. The Kaiba family's fans were devoted, heart and soul; the Kaibas were the golden children of the city, and their supporters treated them accordingly. Pages on pages of surprisingly well-thought-out arguments as to Seto Kaiba's innocence had invaded the internet.
But if the support for Kaiba was surprising, then the rabid defense of Mokuba was astounding.
Anyone who dared bring Mokuba into the argument was summarily eviscerated. The proverbial Boy Wonder to his brother's Dark Knight (Yugi actually found a chuckle, in spite of his confusion, at the image of Kaiba stalking the night-shrouded Domino City in tights and a cape), Mokuba was ascendant. He was the victim, no argument accepted, and to even suggest anything otherwise was suicide.
Some people suggested that Kaiba was calling in the troops, calling (read: paying) for his people to make these arguments for him, but Yugi knew better than that; he knew that Kaiba hadn't paid attention to a single word of the media explosion Siegfried von Schroeder's depraved, bloody swan song had caused. He had more important things on his mind. "Like making it so that his brother doesn't cry himself to sleep anymore," Detective Darren McKinley had muttered once, on camera, forgetting in a blaze of anger that this would be embarrassing to both the Kaibas and that neither would appreciate it.
Yugi thought it was good that he'd said it, though. People needed to remember that for all his exposure to the public, for all his ungodly exploits both as his company's vice president and his brother's protégé, Mokuba was still a little boy. He wasn't like Kaiba, who had always looked older than his age and was now a legal adult; people called Kaiba a boy, too, when they wanted to be sympathetic, but everyone knew it wasn't true; not in any of the ways that mattered.
Mokuba was a different story.
The poor kid was eleven.
Mokuba was far older than his years, too, but he didn't look it. Unlike his brother, who had apparently looked like an adult before there was ever a "-teen" suffixed to his age, Mokuba looked about nine. He was small, and his face had an inherent innocence about it that tended to work in his favor. Usually.
For some stupid reason, people forgot how young he was in the face of his almost dying.
These thoughts and a thousand more whirled through Yugi's mind, and eventually he just threw the sheets and blanket off of himself and got up. There was no use; he was never getting back to sleep tonight. He stationed himself on his desk and turned on his lamp, thinking he might play Solitaire or something, maybe build a new dueling deck, and he was already reaching for cards before he realized what was sitting in front of him, framed perfectly in the round lamplight.
He'd thought it to have vanished two years ago, to have gone to rest with its owner. He'd thought that he would never see, touch, or think about it again. He'd thought that that part of his life was over. But here it was, staring him in the face, glaring and glowing in an infinitude of tiny pieces.
Tiny shards of memory.
The Millennium Puzzle.