Troubled by his friend's strange behaviour, Yugi returned to his room and flopped back onto his bed. He then took the Millennium Puzzle into his hands and sighed deeply.
'Are you alright Yugi?' The ghostly image of the Pharaoh appeared above him.
'I'm worried about Joey. Something's bothering him and he won't tell me what it is.'
'I'm sure his has a good reason for that.'
'Well if he has then he won't tell me that either.' He sighed again.
The Pharaoh shot him a sympathetic look and was about to speak again, when a loud cough from the other end of the room made them both jump. In hides of a shadowy corner, they could just make out a clocked figure. Instantly Yugi glanced towards the bag he was now keeping the Millennium Items he acquired in. Between them they held a lot of power, maybe even too much power, he couldn't let them fall into the wrong hands.
'I'm sorry to disturbs you.' A voice trembled across the space between him and the figure. 'You weren't to know I was here at all. In fact I was just about to leave but…' the stranger paused. 'I had to see if it was you, I just had to.'
'Who are you? What do you want?'
'No one, no one at all I promise. In fact, to prove it to you I'll go now.'
With that the cloaked figure disappeared, leaving Yugi feeling even more disconcerted than before. His gaze shifted towards the Pharaoh, who was clearly lost in his own thoughts.
'I wonder who that was.' Yugi frowned. 'There was something about them... I mean, I know we couldn't see their face, but... they felt more like an old friend than a stranger, don't you think?'
The Pharaoh didn't reply.
'Are you alright? You don't think they were after the millennium items, do you?'
The Pharaoh's head moved from side to side almost vacantly and Yugi couldn't help but wonder if he'd heard him at all. He could sense the Pharaoh was thinking deeply about something and no amount of talking to him would get a response before he was ready.
The Pharaoh could hear Yugi calling out to him, but his voice registered as little more than background noise. Something about the stranger had unlocked something inside of him. Long forgotten memories began playing through his head until suddenly he was hit by the clearest one of all...
It had been a particularly hot day in the height of the dry season. The young prince was barely into his teens, but his thoughts were already clouded with the prospect of ruling. So much so he had skipped his lessons in order to roam aimlessly through the busy streets of Memphis. It had felt like a good plan at the time, but without his cousin to share in the excitement he was quickly getting bored. Just as he was contemplating returning back to the palace shouts from somewhere nearby caught his attention. Skilfully he manoeuvred his way through the crowd in order to see what was going on.
To his surprise a boy, no more than one year his elder, tall, with a shock of blond hair and dressed in simple garments was shouting at a man twice his size and age. The reason for his anger appeared to be a flowerbed full of weeds at the front of the man's tavern.
'How can you, when the vast part of your country is desert, restrict what plant life that does grow by surrounding it with weeds,' the youngster's eyes pricked with anger. 'By Mov it is a crime, it's a sheer crime.'
'By Mov, hey?' The landlord's face filled with a look of annoyance. 'You're not from round here are you boy? Well if I were you, I'd quit your whimpering and return home. Or else you could be in for a lot of trouble.'
'You savage!' The boy growled. 'How dare you threaten me?'
'Oh I dare, my lad. It's up to you to decide how serious I am.'
The pair locked eyes, neither all that willing to back down. Then, after what felt like an eternity, the boy gave. Snorting, he turned and walked quickly towards the outskirts of the city. Curious as to the identity of the youth the prince followed him. Aware of this the boy picked up speed and tried to lose his stalker in the maze of streets. But to no avail. Irritated upon leaving the city, he turned round to confront his follower.
'What do you think you're following me for?'
'I wanted to find out why you got so angry about a few weeds?' The prince approached him.
'A few weeds?' The lad looked as though he were about to explode with anger. 'There were more weeds than plants.'
'But even so...' he stammered, 'you seemed to take it all far too seriously.'
'Are you kidding me?' The youngster gave a bitter laugh. 'I didn't take it seriously enough. If only I had held my ground, I'm sure I could have made him give. But no, I had to think too much of my own life. I am not worthy of my name.'
'What does your name have to do with anything?'
The boy ignored him and walked further out into the desert. Unwilling to end their conversation with so many unanswered questions, the prince was compelled to follow him. After a short way they stopped. The older boy then bent down and wrot in the sand.
'Smut? What does that mean?'
'It's pronounced Sim-oat,' the boy corrected him, 'and it's my name.'
'Your name? Why'd you write your name in the sand?'
'To try to remind myself of who I'm meant to be.'
'And has it?'
'Sort of,' Simüte glanced up at the prince. 'So what's your name anyway?'
'Yoam Atem Ana-her.'
Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth he regretted it. What was the point in disguising yourself if you were going to tell a complete stranger your real name?
'And how old are you?' The boy appeared unfazed by Yoam's identity.
'I began my thirteenth year thirty-three days ago at the start of the dry season.' He felt as though his nerves were doing the talking for him.
'That was a long-winded reply.' The older boy gave him a bemused look.
'Well how old are you?'
'I turned fourteen last week.'
'Where do you come from?'
'I was born in the Silkoniousmacarmakayeon province of Lun, a stones through away from the Odraian capital. I was lucky, in that way.'
'Why is that lucky?'
'Well,' Simüte tilted his head to one side, 'not only did I grow up surrounded by my own kind, but I also got to experience the life of the mother kind.'
'My kind are not Odraians, but we evolved from them. And as such both cultures are fairly similar and get on well. We have provinces in their cities and they have provinces in ours.'
'It all sounds very confusing to me.' Yoam shook his head.
'So where are you from?'
'Well I was born in Memphis, but I've travelled around a lot.'
'Your family traders then?'
'No, my dad's the Pharaoh.'
'No way,' Simüte laughed, 'are you serious?'
'Well I guess Lillyannu was right, power does attract power.'
'What does that mean?'
'Well, it means that people who have power are attracted to other people who have power. It's like they can sense it and why you tend to find powerful people making friends with other powerful people.'
'But you don't look very powerful to me.'
'No I don't suppose I do dressed like this. But then again neither do you.'
'True enough I suppose. So what makes you so, err, powerful?'
'I'm the first son of the third house. When my father dies I shall take over his spot in the ruling council.' Simüte stuck his tongue distastefully. 'But I don't ever want to be like my father, he's forgotten his roots. To him everything is about order, regulations and control. But life is like the plants, untameable. All you can really do is plant it in good soil and hope it grows well. Like my ancestors my roots are buried deep into the soil, but my father's are not buried at all. And to add further insult to this he says that I need to learn what it means to be a son of the Lutoni house. Me, as if he's the one who's got it right.' A look of defiance glinted in his eyes. 'But Lutoni are givers of life, not organiser of it. Makay was a gardener, the greatest; his legacy was the creation of Silkoniousmacarmakay's paradise gardens. Since him all Lutoni's have been gardeners, who understand the relationship between our people and nature. My father is a Lutoni only in name; to say any different would make MY ancestors turn over in their graves.' He kicked the ground angrily, his face flushed with the passion of his speech.
'Do you hate your father?'
'Hate? Never! My people don't know the meaning of the word.' Simüte shook his head. 'Besides which he is my father. I might not respect him or agree with him, but I owe him my unconditional love. No matter what else he might be, he is my father.'
Yugi began to feel uncomfortable; the Pharaoh had been staring motionlessly into space for a long time.
'Yami?' He ventured anxiously. 'Are you alright?'
'Yes Yugi,' he blinked as if the spell he was under was finally broken.
'Are you alright, you've been a little out of it for a while now.'
'I'm sorry to have worried you. I was just remembering a long forgotten friend.'
'Oh... Do you mind if I ask who?'
'Of course not, Yugi. His name was Simüte Lutoni; I met him when I was a young boy. We were friends for many years and…' suddenly his eyes went wide. 'I've just realised something, Simüte Lutoni he... he looked exactly like Joey.'