"Duel monster cards can be grouped into normal monster cards, fusion monster cards, ritual monster cards, effect monster cards, trap cards and spell cards." It was our first lesson of the school year and it was decently interesting, even if it wasn't what Alexis was saying that roughly half the guys were focusing on. "Trap cards can be further divided into normal traps, counter traps and continuous traps. Spell cards can be segregated into normal spells, continuous spells, equip spells, quick-play spells, ritual spells and field spells." This perfect recount off the different types of cards was quite impressive, but no-one was more impressed than Dr. Crowler.

"Perrr-fect!" Cooed our teacher and head of the Obelisk blue dorm. "Well done Alexis! Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less from one of my Blue Obelisks!" I'm oddly reminded of Chazz's elitism… "Hmmm… Now who shall we question next…?" He started looking along the front rows towards the Slifer Red students. Maybe he's not that bad.

I look to my right and see Bastion entirely focussed on Crowler, whom I had dubbed 'Creepy Crowler' due to his overly Hermaphrodite voice and appearance (he was worse than the Vanity's Ruler in this way), whilst everyone else in the back row of the yellow section was talking quietly. I had recently been told that the greater the marks, the further back you sat, so we in the back row of the Yellow section were basically the people who should be in Obelisk Blue, but just got in through the entrance exam. No-one in the entrance exam could get higher than Yellow, so we have to wait until the first dorm switch exam – which takes place on the last Friday of each month.

"YOU! Syrus Truesdale!"

Evidently Creepy Crowler had made his decision and changed my opinion of him. Everyone was aware of how shy Syrus is, so why pick on him in class? "Y-y-yes?"

"Explain to the class what a field spell is!" At least he knew this one. I had heard him and Jaden discussing them on the way to school this morning, so he wasn't in trouble.

"A-a-a field spell is- i-it's the thing tha-that-that affects the thing that is… ah-" Poor guy. This bod really suffers from stage fright... He probably know more about field spells than half the Slifer Reds, but when you're put on the spot in front of 200odd people…

"EVEN PRE-DUELLISTS KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS YOU SLIFER SLACKER!" This comment from the smaller of Chazz's lackeys got three quarters of the Obelisk Blue students roaring with laughter – met my over half the class' menacing stares - and about ten percent of the Yellows sniggering guiltily, but hiding it.

"No! I know! It's a-a…" You really have to feel for Sy right now… The lad's trying to redeem himself, but has ended up making things worse for himself. I catch Bastion shifting his gaze to Syrus quizzically, almost observing human nature as an outsider. I catch Jaden whispering into Syrus' ear. Good idea. A confidence boost was probably what he ne-

"I think not!" Creepy Crowler had had enough, and, although I don't blame him for trying to keep the Blues quiet, it took a lot to stop myself walking up there and punching him in the face after what he said next. "Now sit down, and could someone give me the answer? NOT someone wearing red thank you." This comment wasn't what I hated; it was how the laughter from the Blues and many more of the Yellows – none of whom had decided to conceal their mirth this time – was fuelling him. This guy had no right to educate kids while he was picking on them for others' pleasure.

I notice Syrus muttering to himself before I hear Jaden stand up and speak. "Y'know something teach? You shouldn't make fun of us Slifers like that." This catches Crowler's attention, although not for the reasons I wanted it to. "I mean, I beat you. So if you make fun of us, you make yourself look even worse!" This got laughs from many of the Yellows – myself included, a few of the Blues and ALL of the reds.

I saw Creepy Crowler's face twist with rage at this, but I saw more than that in his eyes. It was almost as if he had declared a grudge or hatred for Jaden. I decided it wasn't worth trying to learn any more – as did everyone else (except Bastion of course, who persisted in poring over his book) – and decided to have a talk with Tory, a girl in front of me who would giggle at anything and everything you said to her, for the last five minutes of class as we weren't going to get any more work done.

After that class, the students were given a five minute break while the teachers changed. A few people moved about for a while to natter with each other, but I stayed put. I saw Jaden at the centre of a small crowd at the front, evidently revelling in the hero worship he was receiving for standing up to Crowler. Suddenly, the next teacher walked in.

"Hello class!" This professor had a softer and kinder voice, so I started to relax a bit, despite the class starting. "As some of you students know, my name is Professor Lyman Banner and I specialise in the lesser known tactics and strategies that some might consider to be… unnatural. Duel alchemy for example is a tactic where you use fusion monsters as fusion material. This is primarily done in dragon decks which revolve around 'Five-Headed Dragon'. This is because this immensely powerful monster requires many materials, totalling to five, so duellists require strong monsters to maintain a defensive presence on the field to keep the duel going long enough to get the required materials to your hand or fie-" Another teacher's eyes wandered to Syrus… This teacher had better not be a bully as well. "Syrus?" That was odd. I'd expected Banner's tone to become stronger or rougher, but he seemed to simply be asking a question.

"Y-yes Professor Banner?" Syrus was still shy, but evidently more familiar with this teacher than the others. Perhaps he's the head of the Slifer Red dorm? It would make sense as Crowler's the head of Blue and Sartyr's the head of Yellow.

"Could you please do me a favour and grab Pharaoh?" I guess he was just asking a favour. Syrus' confusion was evident from his repetition of the last word, to which Banner responded, "Unless you are minoring as a scratch post." Not the wittiest thing I can remember hearing, but I recognised it as a jest to make Syrus comfortable rather than to make him feel humiliated, nonetheless, a few seconds later, Syrus had picked up a cat – quite large for its height – and walked to the front to pass him to Banner. I guess he was genuinely being used as a scratch post.

I suppose Banner's a decent guy. If I need help with something, I'll probably ask him as Sartyr had the habit of boring my arse off whenever I tried to have a decent conversation with him last night and as Crowler's… well… a dick.

The class went batter than the last one, but after this lesson, all the students were to change into their P.E. uniforms. In the guy's changing room, I saw Jaden having trouble getting into his locker. Syrus came to his rescue and let him use his own locker to hold his stuff, but I told Jaden to talk to Banner about his locker problems. After receiving his agreement, we all went into the gymnasium.

Our instructor for the semester was Miss Fontaine. She was a little overly enthusiastic, but was easily the nicest teacher I'd been under (and after I thought that, I realised that I needed to clear my head). I noticed Sy headed back to the locker room for a few minutes and come back jittery, but I thought nothing of it.

After class, I decided to head for the volcano. It wasn't off limits as far as I knew and yet no-one went there, so I figured why not. I wasn't in the mood for company, but something came up on the way that made me change my mind.

"Hello stranger!"

On the way to the volcano, I passed many students – most of whom ignored me. It was only when I passed Alexis that anyone had bothered acknowledging my existence. "Hello Alexis, how are you?"

"So formal, sir!" A couple of people had picked me up on that in P.E., but I had cast it aside. It's odd that I only mull it over after Alexis brings it up, but I decide to focus more on it later. We begin to walk together, although I'm unsure if Alexis is aware of where we're going or not.

"What're you up to then, little miss nit-pick?" Alexis ignores this raillery - possibly for my own good - and continues on with the conversation.

"I'm just avoiding Crowler-" I interject with my nickname for him, which provokes a small fit of laughter - something that raises my own spirit. After recovering from her outburst, Alexis tries again. "Yes, I'm avoiding Creepy Crowler. Jasmine and Mindy told me he was looking for any Obelisk Blues who haven't done enough timed duels to stay in the dorm…" At my puzzled expression, Alexis explains that we're given duel scenarios on our PDAs and we're supposed to have at least half of them done if we want to stay in or rise to the Obelisk Blue dorm.

"All the Obelisk Blues who just came up to Duel Academy went to Junior High. We got top of the classes there, so it was logical to put us in the top dorm here." After hearing this, something came back to my mind. Something from last night.

"Chazz is an Obelisk Blue." Alexis confirmed.

"Chazz is in our year." Alexis confirmed.

"You two have some kind of history, don't you?" Alexis didn't say anything, but her silence was probably a more effective confirmation than if she'd said yes.

After half a minute, she started talking. "Our fathers grew up together, so we already knew each other well when we went to Elementary. The thing is that a few days before we went to D.E., Chazz's brothers had an argument with… someone I cared about." I asked hew who this was, but she continued her story - ignoring or unaware of my interjection. "Me and Chazz got to school and it was the first thing we spoke about and we had our own argument about it. We ended up constantly trying to one-up the other… In the end, it was like we'd always been at war."

I was moved. I was about to suggest she write a book about it, but decided against it. I moved the conversation to a more positive note. "Who are Mindy and Jasmine?"

Alexis seemed a lot more comfortable with this question. "Some friends who came up from Junior High with me. Jasmine's always been a nut about Girl Power, even if she has been calming down. Mindy's just… one of those girls who it's impossible to dislike, no matter how much she annoys you."

It seemed like Alexis was the responsible one in this trio. I'd have put her down as the type of girl who keeps everything together myself.

"Oh god, I'm sorry…" What? "I just remembered…" Oh…

I don't have anything to say to keep this conversation going. I lost all my memories of my old friends, of growing up, everything…

"It's fine. I asked, you responded. What's there to be sorry for?" Alexis seemed comforted by this. I asked her about the timed duels before and she said they were on our PDAs. We simply handed them in for a few seconds at the start of our dorm switch exams. She explained how to get to them and explained that we could see the opponent's hand and their facedown cards, but we had to win in one turn.

It wasn't until we got to the Volcano that Alexis realised this was where we were going all along, but she didn't complain. We just sat down near the crater so that we felt the warmth from the magma inside and relaxed, doing timed duels on our PDAs. After two or three hours, Alexis had done another 15 (which put her total up to 58), whilst I had done 64 out of the hundred. Alexis was shocked and impressed at how quickly and efficiently my mind had worked, but it seemed natural to me. Almost as if it was not schoolwork, but a puzzle game to squander time away…

"Come on Noah, we've been here for nearly five hours! People are going to start rumours…"

It wasn't until 21:30 that Alexis and I had decided it was time to go back, but it was a few more seconds before I realised with a loud groan that the Ra Yellow dorm was on the other side of the island - over 25 minutes away… This made Alexis giggle so much that I shoved her, but I got a harder shove in return. After threatening to leave her alone in the dark forest, I managed to goad her into chasing me through the trees. In less than five minutes, we had already gone through the 10 minute walk from the crater to Alexis' dorm.

"That was quick!" I could feel my heart beating at nearly double its normal speed. "Hopefully the rest of the walk will be just as swift…"

Before she was able to remind me about my journey to come, Alexis and I heard her name being called from inside the gates. I looked to see Alexis' two accomplices on the day of my exam and…

"Syrus! What are you doing here?"

He couldn't speak. The red-haired of the girls was holding the back of Syrus' coat and her height compared to him was raising his red jacket up to cover his mouth.

"Stupid guy came to our dorms with this." The girl holding Syrus held up a letter. It had a shapeless red smear on the side which opened to reveal the letter inside. She passed it to the black haired one who carried to it over to Alexis, then turned to me and said hi. After reciprocating the greeting, she started asking me a couple of questions. Simple things like my name and how I heard of duel academy, but when she started asking about where I was from, I asked Alexis for the letter.

As she passed it over, she stated that she absolutely did not write it. After reading it, I could see why. It was a love letter - supposedly from Alexis - to Syrus. I read it all the way through and looked at Alexis, who looked mildly disturbed at the contents. I was about to ask Syrus about it, but Jasmine refused to let go until she was outnumbered three to one (not including Syrus, but I'm sure he would've gone for being let go).

"Where did you get the letter dude?"

"I found it in my locker when I went back to change my shoes in P.E." Syrus' explanation explained why he was jittery when he came back. Jasmine blurted out that she thought it was bullshit, saying it was just a lame attempt at attention seeking (also saying she'd expect nothing less from a guy) but I saw from Syrus' expression that he wasn't lying at all. I took a closer look at the smear.

On closer inspection, the smear was a dark pink. It felt greasy. Almost solid, but equally lubricous.

"It's lipstick." Alexis had piped up, evidently aware of my ignorance. I looked carefully at her lips and saw she was wearing some too, but nowhere near this much. Jasmine piped up about it not being Alexis' colour either (whatever that means). Suddenly, I heard people running up to us from behind.

"Syrus? Noah? What's going on? Oh, hi Alexis." Jaden had arrived to the scene, apparently because some guy called Chumley had noticed Syrus cheerier than normal and that he had left early. I would've been a bit offended as it was the cheeriness that made people think something was wrong, but Syrus wasn't upset. He was miserable.

Still, after filling Jaden in on what I had witnessed, he seemed up to date. After a few more moments I remembered something from earlier.

"Syrus let you put your boots in his locker didn't he?" Jaden nodded and Syrus made a weird noise of realisation. Mindy was still clueless, but Jasmine had understood. "Someone could've been trying to embarrass Jaden for doing the same for Crowler…"

"Pffft. Paranoid much?" Jaden obviously didn't believe it and to be honest it sounded horrendous when I said it out loud. Still, we know someone left a fake letter and Syrus found it. After apologies to the girls for disturbing them and some advice not to come through the gates again in case teachers catch and expel us for perversity. It was good advice, so, after a thanks, we all left for the dorms.

"Well, that was entertaining(!)" My sarcasm was meant to lift everyone's spirit, but only half worked. While Jaden smirked slightly, I could almost feel Syrus' mood drop even more.

"Calm down Sy. You fell for someone's joke, it's over. Move on!" Jaden may not have approached this in the right manner, but his point was valid. What's done is done.

Still, Syrus doesn't improve. It's not going to do good to keep taking stabs in the dark (metaphorically) and repetitively hit Syrus by mistake. I decided to ask plain and simple what was wrong from his point of view and I got a response that I hadn't expected, but should have known was coming.

"All I've done is make the Slifers look bad. I faltered at a simple question today, thought that ridiculous letter was for me and even acted on it! Anything I do to try and remedy the situation just makes us seem worse." I don't point out that I am in fact Ra Yellow, but Jaden doesn't seem bothered at all by Syrus' schoolboy errors.

Suddenly, he comes up with an Idea. "A duel always cheers ME up Sy, why not try one?" This idea is cast aside with a statement of Jaden's skill in comparison to his own and the frequency of his losses.

"Why not duel me?"

The words had popped out of my mouth before I had realised they had gone through my head. That was a ridiculous idea! I'm supposedly a champion duellist (albeit an amnesiac as well) and Syrus has seen me duel. Nonetheless, Jaden thinks it's a great idea.

"Yeah! Go on Sy, what's the worst that could happen?" Syrus brings up the rule Chazz had ignored when he had duelled Jaden, but forgot it was specifically arena duels that were prohibited. After caving in, Jaden pulled me over to ask something crucial.

"Don't just try to win, okay? Wait 'til Syrus gets pumped, or he'll just get more depressed."

After nodding, me and Syrus put a decent distance between each other and drew our first hand.

My turn -

I offered Syrus the first move, but he didn't take it. Reluctantly, I drew.

I had a decent hand. More defensive than offensive, but if I wanted to coax Syrus out of his shell, that was mandatory. "I play Vanity's Forfeit!" With this spell we both send two monsters from our hands or decks to the graveyard. I send my two ace monsters - Vanity's Ruler and Fiend - to give Syrus a chance. He sends… two Bokoichi the Freightening Cars. At least he's sending weak monsters instead of strong ones, but how weak will his deck be if he's running those?

"I set two facedowns, a monster and end my turn."

Hand: 2
LP: 4000

Opponent's turn -

"Let's get this over with then…" Syrus is evidently not enthused to be in a duel, but after he draws a card, his face lights up in a sort of… surprise.

"I play Tribute to the Doomed!" And I was worried about this guy having weak cards in his deck. "I discard a card from my hand to destroy a monster on your field!" The monster he discarded was… another Bokoichi. My destroyed monster was Vanity's Spy, a weak monster that could SS itself from the grave purely as tribute fodder. "I then play the spell card Tri-Wight." The three Freightening cars appeared out of holes in the ground, forming a wall of sorts. Was he going to tribute them to summon a really strong monster or… "I set a monster and end my turn." So he was setting up a large defence. I can see where he's coming from, but no facedown spells or traps?

Hand: 2
LP: 4000

My turn -

"I draw." I look at my options. With only three cards in my hand, I had few options. I could try to set up more defence myself, but Syrus might get suspicious. I decide to go for the offensive, but maybe Syrus has something set up with that facedown…

I can mock the offensive and get an insanely powerful monster to my hand, but it takes loads to summon it. I'm never going be able to bring it to my field, so it should frighten Syrus into brining his game to the field.

"I set three more cards. When there are no other cards in my hand, I can special summon Vanity's Underdog from my hand. When this happens, his base atk/def are doubled and I can add two Vanity cards to my hand. A monster and a Spell/Trap." I add Vanity's Chapel and Vanity's Hand - a 4000 atk monster that requires Vanities' Emptiness, Ruler and Fiend. It also requires a card that negates the effect of Vanity's Emptiness, whether it's Royal Decree, Vanity's Chapel or Vanity's Warlock; so when Syrus saw the revealed monster had 4000 atk, something clicked in his head. I saw him get serious in that instant and look to his facedown monster - my first target.

"I activate Vanity's chapel! This boosts the atk/def of all my Vanity's Monsters by 600 and prevents you from special summoning. Then, I attack your facedown card with my 3000 atk Vanity's Underdog!" From below the card came… another train, but it looked different to the Bokoichis. It looked more aggressive and… like the main carriage of a large train.

"When Dekoichi the Battle Locomotive is flipped face-up, I draw a card." He drew one for his deck. "Then, I draw another card for each Bokoichi face up on my field. I have all three!" He drew another two cards from his deck, I was impressed. With this set-up, he had drawn four cards from his deck, completely restocking his hand. I wouldn't be surprised if he used Shallow Grave and Book of Taiyou to draw another bundle of cards! After Dekoichi was destroyed, the Bokoichis seemed to get really nervous, but I ignored them. They were just holograms right now.

"I end my turn."

Hand: 1
LP: 4000

Opponent's turn -

"I draw!" Syrus' eyes glint at his drawn card. "I play Vehicroid Connection Zone!" What's that? "It's a special fusion card exclusively for Vehicroids. While it doesn't work non-Vehicroid monsters, it can't be negated by spells, traps or effects and neither can the monster's summon!" Syrus doesn't stop impressing me! He's a really strong trainer, but he just suffers from nerves. If he had Jaden's confidence, he'd be in Obelisk Blue! "By sending Steamroid, Drillroid and Submarineroid to my grave, I summon Super Vehicroid - Jumbo Drill!"

The ground glows a bit, but nothing happens. Is there something wrong with the disks? Suddenly, the ground opens up… and a living drill the size of my bedroom rises out of the ground. It seemed powerful and rightfully was! With 3000 atk, it was equal with my Underdog! "Then I summon Expressroid!" A monorail train of sorts came by with… only 400 atk? "When it's summoned, I can get two Vehicroids from my grave and add them to my hand." He chose Steamroid and Drillroid, not that he seemed to need them. I guess he wanted some backup in case he lost his big monster. Something that I guess was a clever move after all…

"I attack Vanity's Underdog with Super Vehicroid - Jumbo Drill!" With their equal atk stats, they would destroy each other. I have to do something…

"I activate Vanity's Shield!" The Ruler and Fiend of the Proud leapt out of the ground and grabbed the drill by the bit and squeezed until it exploded. The force from the explosion focused itself at Syrus as the 3000 atk of his destroyed monster was taken out of his life points. He picked himself up and I noticed something in his eyes.

He wasn't sorry his monster got destroyed, he seemed focused rather than let down. Perhaps this duel was doing what it needed to.

"I play Lightning Vortex! This destroys all your face up monsters at the cost of one card in my hand!" As soon as sent the card to his graveyard, a hole appeared in the ground below Vanity's Underdog and he was dragged down by ropes of pure electric energy and the hole was sealed when he was below ground level.

"I place one card facedown and end my turn."

Hand: 3
LP: 1000

My Turn -

"I draw!" I looked at Jaden before I looked at my card. He couldn't keep a grin of his face. He was obviously trying to stop himself blaring in excitement, so it was a safe assumption to presume that Syrus was as well. It's decided. This turn will be the last one.

I drew… Dark Hole. Not exactly useful as I need something to defend myself with. I need something to add a Vanity monster to my hand.

Then I remembered that I can.

"I activate the effect of Vanity's Spy in my grave. By removing him from the game, I can add one 'Vanity' card from my deck to my hand." I added Vanity's Chaos. "Then I activate Vanity's Emptiness. This card prevents us Special Summoning, but as Chapel is on the field, I'm exempt from that effect. I also remove Vanity's Ruler and Vanity's Fiend from my grave to summon Vanity's Chaos from my hand! I then play Dark Hole!" A black hole opened up in the middle of the duel and expanded until none of the monsters could be seen. When the darkness cleared, Vanity's Ruler and Fiend were left behind. "When Vanity's Chaos is sent from the field to the graveyard, I can special summon the monsters I banished for its summon."

With Emptiness, Ruler and Fiend on the field, I was set up to bring out my strongest monster. "I summon Vanity's Hand!"

At first nothing happened. I didn't understand… was there something wrong with th-

And a flash of light blinded all three of us for nearly five seconds. By the time we had recovered our sight, we were knocked backwards by the sight in front of us.

A large and prismic hand was floating in the air, upright and roughly eight foot above the ground. It seemed to be shining white like a god of sorts, but a closer look and you could see it was pitch black underneath the glow. The aura wasn't coming from the hand though. Each square inch of the pitch-black polygon had pearly armour - the true source of the glow - on its face, leaving the vertices and edges exposed. Roughly as big as the Obelisk Blue Boy's Dorm, it looked powerful - and with 4000 atk and 3950 def, looks were not deceiving.

I looked at Jaden and saw him staring at the appendage floating in the air in wonderment. I looked at Syrus and he was doing the same thing. Was this card different from the norm? I looked carefully at the card. It had 10 stars at the top of the card, more than I'd seen on any other card. Was this a symbol of its power in some way?

I heard footsteps and turned around. Alexis and Mindy had come to watch our duel instead of going to bed. I get that it hasn't been too long since we left their dorm, but it was still after 10 O'clock. Then again, the light that had blinded us probably acted as a beacon that led them right to us. I heard more footsteps around us. Other people from the Red, Yellow and Blue dorms were watching. Most were looking in awe at my monster, others were chatting to try and get the full story and a few were shouting my name. I noticed that one or two people were calling to support Syrus around the corner that most of the Reds were in, but their voices were drowned out by the crowd.

Syrus had not been able to ignore the assembled crowd. Once they had appeared, I could see the nervousness in his eyes. I wasn't the only one who had noticed apparently. A tall and mildly obese guy in Red had walked up to Syrus and started talking to him. Syrus seemed happy to have him around, so I assumed this was the guy Chumley that Jaden had mentioned.

Hang on, it's still my turn!

"I attack you directly with Vanity's Hand!"

The hand changed its angle, tilting forwards until the palm was directly above Syrus. The pearly plates on the underside of the hand seemed to fold back so that the section facing Syrus was pitch black. Suddenly, a smog floated from the hand straight at my opponent. This was the end.

"I play Magic Cylinder!"

What?

"This card negates your attack and inflicts damage to you equal to the atk of the monster who's attack I negated!"

Two cylinders appeared, enormous in their appearance. One appeared in front of Syrus, collecting the smoke so that it wouldn't affect him. The second appeared in front of me, pouring the pollution on me.

I couldn't see at all. The haze was thick and suffocating, not just a hologram! This isn't any old card, this was dangerous.

It needs to be removed.

As the haze turned red, it thinned and disappeared. I took deep breaths to air out my lungs as Syrus was declared the winner.

End of Duel -

There were many shouts from the crowd. Some were yelling at me, abuse for losing to a Slifer. Others were yelling congrats at Syrus, who was filled with thrilled over his win. The crowd dissipated, with disgusted elitists and joyous underdogs heading for their dorms. At the end, only Alexis, Mindy, Bastion and I were left in the forest clearing that had been the location of the duel.

"Wow, you ARE strong!" Mindy really was one of those girls you couldn't dislike. "But how did you lose?"

"Well he had a monster's attack with 4000 power sent right at him. That was kind of hard to miss." Bastion wasn't in a good mood, but I doubt it was Mindy's question that was irritating him so.

"You're mean." Mindy's voice was different to her excitable tone that she'd addressed me with, but it wasn't sullen. It was jokey and light-hearted. I asked Bastion why he was in a mood, but he waved it aside and said he would be talking with me later.

"So how come you came to watch our duel?"

Alexis answered. "We couldn't get to sleep anyway coz of the noise you two made! After we were wandering around, the surge of light drew us towards you." I guess it was a beacon after all.

I took another look at Vanity's Hand. It the only card I had held onto rather than return it to the deck. I looked at its attribute and noticed something odd.

In Prof. Banner's class, we had been given a textbook at the end to look through. I had gone through the first few pages, but it was simple stuff, so I hadn't read on. It had said though that there were six attributes: Dark, Earth, Fire, Light, Water and Wind.

This monster is of the Divine attribute.

"Noah?"

The girls had noticed my lack of focus on the conversation that had continued after my detachment. "I'm fine, just tired I guess. I'll see you all tomorrow I guess?"

The girls agree and say bye. Bastion walks with me, but instead of walking in silence, he brought up something I didn't think I'd have to discuss.

"Where did you get that deck?"

Uh-Oh. "Why do ask?"

"Because I looked in the Industrial Illusions public record for cards in your deck. They say nothing about a series of Vanity cards and haven't made anything in your deck that I've seen so far except for Dark Hole, Vanity's Emptiness, Vanity's Ruler, Vanity's Fiend and Royal Decree." Really? "So I looked at European, American and African companies that also release cards and they haven't done your cards either. The last thing to assume is that they're fake, but we're all using Academy Duel Disks and they work with them, so there's no chance of any kind of hack."

Bastion's clever, but there's one thing I don't understand. "Why were you looking up my deck?"

My answer was a little more… mechanical than I'd expected. "In the dorm switch exams, we face duellists from our own dorms. As we're the two who got the highest scores in the entrance exam, we're obviously going to be pit against each other."

So right now, Bastion's supposed to be my enemy? He certainly seemed to be taking it that way, but it was more than that. He didn't see me as an equal or as a peer. He saw me as an obstacle to be overcome. Nothing more. Then again, should I be doing the same to him?

"How about we do a deal? I tell you a bit about my deck and you do the same."

Bastion mulled this over. He seemed genuinely stuck between a rock and a hard place over this. In the end he agreed. I told him that my deck used Light/Fairy and Dark/Fiend monsters and primarily stopped the opponent from activating their spell/traps and from special summoning . He said his deck functioned mathematically and scientifically, combining Hydrogeddon and Oxygeddon to make Water Dragon in some examples, compressing Carbongeddon to make Hyozanryu - a dragon made of diamond and that he combined the Magnet Warriors into Valkyrion - The Magna Warrior. I knew he'd be a difficult opponent to face and I honestly couldn't even hazard a guess on who would win just from these quick skate-overs. Then again, I doubt Bastion would have fallen for Magic Cylinder.

As we got back to the dorm and headed up the stairs, we went into our rooms and said goodnight. It took a while for me to fall asleep though because I was dwelling on two things.

The first was Vanity's Hand. It wasn't one of the six attributes, so what exactly was it? It had also had a physical effect of me and affected the real world, despite supposedly being just a hologram. I need to remove it from my deck until I know more about it, but how will I find out more? The only one analytic enough to find out more to my knowledge is Bastion Misawa, but that would mean I'd need to tell him everything about me. I'm not in a hurry for that to happen, so I'll need to find an alternate method, but unless I do…

The second was something I had noticed during the duel. During the surge of light, I had felt a massive pull towards the Volcano, as though there were something there I should be trying to find. Is that why I had been pulled there after class? Would I have been pulled further than the crater's edge if not for Alexis' company?

Mulling these thoughts over, I shut my eyes and drifted off to the land of our own rules for the second time in this bed.