Welcome, my dear lords, ladies, and gentlemen. You will, of course, know me as Iced Blood, tormentor of orphaned siblings; Iced Blood, venerator of clichés and tired plot devices (so long as they are used in earnest, and without reservation).

Iced Blood, chief-level procrastinator with too many ideas in his head.

Ahem. Okay. I think I'm done talking like that. My point is that I should be working on a number of other things, but found that I could not. This is the most difficult, and frustrating, aspect of organic writing. I go where the story takes me, and for the most part this is a freeing experience. But sometimes it makes it very hard to focus.

Nonetheless, I welcome you to this new project of mine. Actually, this is more of a prologue to the main event. I'm putting this up now to show you what I have in store for the future of my work with the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that I will be focusing on everyone's favorite misanthrope. It may interest you to note that, as a first in my work, I will be confining myself entirely to manga canon. Nothing from the anime will touch this narrative; names, places, plot points, what have you.

Now then, I think the time has come to get this show started.

Please turn off your cellular phones and other electronic devices. Relax, sit back, and enjoy.

If you can.


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"I know what you did."

A shiver of superstitious fear, like a traitorous pet with a flair for rebellion, skittered up Kaiba Seto's spine and nestled somewhere in the vicinity of his shoulder-blades. His thin right hand twitched for a gun that wasn't there; he'd left it at home. Perhaps he'd done it because somewhere in the murky ocean of his intuition, he'd known that this would happen, and he didn't trust his body to obey him on willpower alone.

He trusted willpower for a great many things but, on the subject of not killing Pegasus Crawford, he trusted nothing.

Adjusting the collar of his shirt—because it gave him something to do that almost felt like strangling someone—Seto took a step back, turned slowly on one heel, and faced his old tormentor with an expression like someone might expect to see on an ancient coffin: deadened, but still imperial.

"Crawford," Seto said flatly, taking in the silver sheen of the man's hair, the cool precision in the cut of his suit, the impeccable ruffle of his blinding white shirt. Seto registered this information with resigned apathy.

Pegasus, in starkest contrast, took in Seto with an expression that bordered on religious awe. "Kaiba-boy," he said, almost fondly. "You never fail to make a public gathering more . . . interesting. If I might be so forward, why did you choose to accept this invitation? I would have thought you were done with my little game."

"Magic & Wizards has been the flagship franchise for the Kaiba Corporation ever since the Duel Disk," Seto replied scathingly. "I am here as a matter of course."

There were other people gathered in the hotel ballroom—which had been converted into a convention hall for the weekend—but none of them were of any sort of interest to these men. They were reporters, and spokespeople; they were enthusiasts. The others were here in the pursuit of shared interests and passions.

But Kaiba Seto and Pegasus Crawford were tied to this innocuous little children's game through something much more primal, much more visceral, than passion. They both searched every little speck of color in the other's eyes; neither knew what he would do if he happened to find anything of consequence, if indeed he opted to do anything at all.

It was, like Seto's appearance at the event, a matter of course.

"What are you talking about?" Seto asked after the silence had gone on for too long, and too amicably. "What, if it matters, have I done?"

Pegasus put on a strange expression. He glanced around, and for just the barest flash of a moment Seto could see the empty socket where a sparkling golden eye had once sat; he wondered for another flash why the man hadn't replaced his lost eye with a glass one, or at least elected to wear a patch, before he remembered: It's Pegasus Crawford.

The one-eyed lunatic grinned like a child and gestured excitedly for Seto to follow him. "Come, come, dear boy. Let us sit. Do you drink? The spread here is ravishing. What about food? Have you eaten? Come, come with me!"

Seto affected an exasperated sigh before following his antagonist across the hall. After a perfunctory sip of champagne and the barest sliver of some pungent imported cheese whose name he didn't even pretend to remember, he said, "This charade is pitiful. Your games had a greater effect when you had a more overt aura of danger about you." Seto gestured vaguely to the left side of his face. "Right around here."

Pegasus, for his part, laughed. He plucked up a snifter of Armagnac and toasted his enemy. "Do you know, I learned quite a lot about people while in possession of that golden eye? I learned to match faces to feelings, expressions to attitudes. It wasn't nearly as much of a crutch as you might think, Kaiba-boy."

"Fascinating." Seto flagged down an attendant and requested a pot of oolong tea. "Do continue."

Pegasus smirked, in a frighteningly accurate imitation of Seto's signature expression. His single visible eye had the same hard, gunmetal glint that Seto's had, as well. Pegasus said, "I've watched you since you arrived yesterday morning, Kaiba-boy. You have a new look about you. A new harshness in your face. I wondered what sort of thing could have done that. So I looked into it. I understand young Mokuba took a rather extensive leave of absence from school, some time back. How is the little darling?"

Seto's face tightened, and his eyes flared with hot anger tinged with something deeper, something more poisonous, that had the flavor of guilt. "Do yourself a favor," he whispered. "Never speak his name again in front of me."

Pegasus, without batting an eyelash, bowed with a flourish. "Of course. My apologies."

They sat down. Seto's tea arrived, Pegasus sipped his brandy, and the silence was almost companionable. Some of the others noticed that the Godfather and the Golden Boy of Magic & Wizards were sharing a drink together, but most knew better than to approach. Those few who did not earned themselves a salute from one and a Byronic glower from the other.

Pegasus polished off his drink first, and leaned his head back to stare contemplatively at the chandelier hanging dead-center from the ceiling.

Seto's body froze from the inside out when Pegasus said:

"I know what you did to Philip Greene."