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Today, January 31, 2014, is the Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year). Happy Lunar New Year! Cheers to all our Horse zodiac folks!

Beginning of this fanfiction is HERE. You will also find more fic intro notes there.

RE:Play by Shiraume

[Written: 5/29/2009 - 12/31/2010]

IV. RE:Call

Chapter Eleven


Yuugi glanced at the shimmering forms of Shaada’s Two-Headed Jackal Warrior, Atem’s Black Magician (Mahaad? it was less the Black Magician and more Mahaad at the moment), and his own Silent Swordsman, then back at the perforated ceiling above them, and finally the blockaded entrance to the Temple of the Underworld.

“I’m beginning to think maybe we should have planned this better,” he murmured to Atem, who flicked him a half-annoyed, half-amused look.

“Mm.” Atem’s attention was mostly at Diabound, whose form now sprawled visible under the dappled shafts of light. The giant skeletal turtle still hovered protectively over the Stone of King’s Memories, defending it from attacks and falling debris alike. The Thief King coughed, still on his knees in the aftershock of Silent Swordsman and Black Magician’s combined attack, which had thrown back Diabound halfway across the temple, destroying a dozen columns in the process.

“Your Magician gained more power after training in the Underworld,” Bakura gasped, but the eyes that rose to meet their gaze had lost none of their ferocity. “But not enough to finish me.”

The Millennium Ring gleamed on Bakura’s chest, mockingly close, yet they were no closer to taking it than when they first arrived. And it was clear Bakura would never surrender the Ring while he still breathed. Yuugi cast another nervous glance at the ceiling, riddled with holes from Black Magician’s attacks, and deprived of the supporting columns after Diabound’s fall.

“We need to get out,” he whispered for Atem’s ears alone. “You can’t summon the Gods here, the ceiling can’t take it—”

Diabound roared as Bakura struggled to his feet, and Yuugi wrenched his attention back to their opponent, startled. He hadn’t thought Diabound – or Bakura – would recover so quickly. Just then, something pale and cold streaked through the air, nearly brushing the edge of the Silent Swordsman’s robe. The vengeful spirits! He’d forgotten about them!

“Let me show you the true strength of Diabound,” rasped Bakura, amber eyes glowing like those of a wild beast. “Spirits of Kur-Elna! Enter me, and become my strength!”

Atem sucked in a sharp breath, watching the spirits gather around Bakura with a frightening speed and eagerness, pouring into the body willingly proffered as instrument for their hatred. “Mahaad!” Atem barked, and the Magician’s attacks blasted into Diabound, fluid and precise. For a moment, Yuugi thought perhaps they could still finish this—

“Mahaad!”

—Atem’s warning came a fraction of a second before the Spiral Destructive Wave hit the Magician squarely in the chest, the impact flinging him across the hall and slamming him into one of the intact columns. Atem swayed, gritting his teeth, and Yuugi put his arms around him to steady him. Here, any damage to the summoned Monster was felt directly by the duelist, and Yuuta cast a worried glance over Atem. But Atem’s attention was on Diabound, on the shimmer of protective barrier formed by the spirits, absorbing the Magician's attacks. Yuugi gasped, realizing Diabound wasn’t done, was ready to attack the Magician again. Atem was already shrugging off his support, almost visibly willing Mahaad to get out of the way.

“Pharaoh!”

A scarce arm’s length from Atem, Two-Headed Jackal Warrior’s form was lit with the crackling magic of the skeletal turtle’s attack. The Two-Headed Jackal Warrior disintegrated, leaving Shaada collapsed to his knees clutching his chest, a trickle of blood staining the corner of his mouth. And at that moment, Diabound released its attack on Black Magician.

“Silent Swordsman!” Yuugi’s desperate command sent the monster leaping through the air to the Magician’s aid, although he knew it would be too late to save Mahaad.

“What?” Bakura’s anger was what gave Yuugi enough hope to lift his head. His heart leaped to see the shimmering form of Black Magician Girl hovering in the air, pulling up the Black Magician’s much lankier form by one wrist. The effort was visibly straining Mana’s newly-summoned Ka, but there was only concentration and determination on Mana’s face while she knelt by one of the holes in the ceiling, a pair of watchful guards standing over her. Yuugi didn’t bother to call out, his intent like a scythe through the darkness, sending the Silent Swordsman leaping across the air once more. The huge blade slashed through the turtle soundlessly, living up to its wielder’s name, and the turtle disappeared in a shimmer of magic. The familiar form of the Curse of Dragon whipped through the air, followed by Karim, making a beeline for Atem, who was helping Shaada to his feet. It seemed Shaada’s courageous shielding of Atem had cost him dearly. And his Millennium Key, knocked out of his hand by the shock of the attack, had already been carried off by a pale wisp of the spirits.

“Are you unharmed, pharaoh? Lord Yuugi?”

“We’re fine, but Shaada is wounded. How did you...?” Atem shifted his grip, allowing Karim to take Shaada from him.

Karim supported Shaada easily, being much taller and broader than Atem. The look Karim gave his king was part irony, part reproach. “Lord Siamun had us follow you, my king, ever since your previous trip here.”

“Busted,” Yuugi murmured to Atem, and felt him twitch, not in annoyance but in silent laughter.

“We’ll thank him later,” Atem replied, turning his attention back to Bakura and Diabound. The Thief King definitely looked worse for wear, but the amber eyes were glowing with killing intent. Yuugi stopped dead in his track, realizing the soft murmurs didn’t come from the ghosts at all, but Bakura, probably casting a spell.

“Atem!” Yuugi pushed him away a heartbeat before the flames hit, and felt the sharp burn of magic sear through him, driving him to his knees. Ookazi – inflicts 800 points of direct damage to the opponent, Yuugi thought hazily as he gasped, gray dots swimming in his field of vision. And Bakura’s low laugh, cruel and amused, was like an icy blade resting against his spine. Yuugi forced himself back to his feet, throwing up a hand to stop Atem from coming over to support him.

“To think I have your old mage to thank for teaching me that spell.” Bakura’s lips curled maliciously, eyeing Yuugi with a speculative look, and at Atem, who would have come running to his side but for Karim bodily holding him back. “Well, well, well. So that’s how it is, eh?” With a look Karim sent his Curse of Dragon to hover above Yuugi protectively, sharp glance cutting through the air at Bakura, daring him to try again.

Atem didn’t wait for Bakura. His head snapped up, eyes cold and hard as ice. “I summon the Dark-Knight Gaia!” A purple horse with golden mane reared, and a knight in azure armor sat on its back, twin ruby-red spears held ready. Yuugi held his breath, safely shielded behind Curse of Dragon’s golden scales. He’d been the one to watch Atem duel the longest. For Atem to summon Gaia now...

“Karim! Use the Millennium Scale to combine Gaia and the Curse of Dragon!”

Bingo. Bakura’s incredulous exclamation was a distant background noise as the two Monsters shimmered and coalesced into the Dragon-Knight Gaia. Their joint attack pounded the shield of vengeful spirits, and the ghastly forms twisted as if in pain, trickling away from the impact like molasses. As the shield melted away under the onslaught, the Black Magician, shimmering with added magic from the Black Magician Girl, prepared to attack.

“Spiral Destructive Wave !”

The glint of gold arced in the air, and the Scale tumbled to the ground, instantly snatched away by the vengeful spirits. Yuugi stared in horror, realizing the target of Diabound’s attack wasn’t Gaia, but Karim, momentarily left without a defending monster while Gaia and Curse of Dragon were fused.

“Don’t think the same trick will work on me twice,” Bakura drawled. “And without the Scale, fusion of the monsters is undone!” Atem didn’t answer him, his eyes burning with fury, and the next instant, Black Magician’s attack struck the weakened spot in the shield where the Dragon Flame had hit moments ago. The shield of spirits faltered then shattered, and the Magician’s attack slammed into the unguarded Diabound inside. “Impossible...” Bakura gasped, blood staining his lips and dripping down his chin and Diabound, also reeling, stumbled back. Yuugi breathed a short sigh of relief, and turned to check on fallen Karim.

“Aibou!” Atem tackled him to the ground, and Diabound’s tail slashed the air where Yuugi had been, missing them by a hairbreadth. Midair, it twisted and changed its path, the sharp tip slicing lower, straight through the leather thong that held Millennium Pendant secured.

“The Puzzle!” Yuugi sprang up and reached forward, but Atem, sporting a shallow cut on his chest, yanked him back. The vengeful spirits whistled by like razor-tipped arrows where Yuugi’s hand had been a second ago. “Let me—”

“No.” Atem’s voice was fierce, and Yuugi wrenched his attention away from the Puzzle flying through the air to Bakura’s waiting hand, looking up at Atem. “Not again,” Atem hissed, and Yuugi started, a memory piercing through him, of scorching flame and shattered pieces of Millennium Puzzle pulsing in his hands. Just like the time when the two shared one body, the memory burned between them, hot as the blaze that razed Black Crown to the ground. Yuugi stilled in Atem’s grasp, Jounouchi’s half-remembered, desperate pleas ringing in his ears.

Yuugi, please! Let go of the Puzzle!

No. Never. Had he ever truly wished to let go? Not the Puzzle, but of Atem? If Millennium Items really could grant wishes, then...

“I’m sorry,” Yuugi whispered. “It was me all along, wasn’t it?”

Atem shook his head once, the motion jerky and emphatic. “We’ll get it back. You’re...it’s not worth it.”

It took Yuugi a moment to remember they weren’t talking about the same thing. “It is. We have to stop him from summoning Zorc.”

“I don’t need the powers of darkness to finish off both of you,” Bakura called back mockingly, the Puzzle dangling from one hand. Yuugi frowned. Come to think of it, Bakura hadn’t bothered to place the Items into their grooves in the Stone, either. “I told you. I will steal your kingdom from you. I don’t need help from some antiquated demon god to do that.”

“Then why did you take the Items?” Atem demanded angrily. Atem’s arm was still around him, and Yuugi took care not to move too much, mindful of Atem’s injuries. Shaada was slowly pulling himself to his feet, and the Black Magician and his apprentice, even without Atem’s direction, were hovering nearby, guarding them. Without the Puzzle, Atem couldn’t summon the Three Gods anyway, so the best they could do was stall for time while searching for a way to get the Items back. Yuugi resisted looking at Karim, refused to note the unnatural stillness of Karim’s unmoving body.

“I don’t need a demon’s help,” Bakura hissed furiously, contempt dripping from each word. “But you’re not keeping the things created using my family’s flesh and blood.”

Yuugi grimaced. The thieves and grave robbers they might have been – formerly artisans left displaced and unemployed during the periods of unrest following the war – but people of Kur-Elna nonetheless had been the pharaoh’s own subjects. And he knew Atem felt responsible for the tragedy, even though the creation of Millennium Items had been before his time. We should just have melted the damned things down when we realized how they were created. We should have never come here.

“Bakura!” Atem’s voice did not hold anger, but warning, a mere second before the cold glint of gold.

Blood marked a crimson trail from Bakura’s stained lips, trickling down slowly. Bakura coughed, or tried to, but nothing escaped him after the surprised whoosh of breath. Slowly, Bakura crumpled to the ground, and Yuugi, to his horror, found himself staring at the bloodied hidden blade of the Millennium Rod.

~*~*~*~


“You’re not needed anymore,” said a cold, gravelly voice. “In fact, you’re in the way.”

Bakura froze, uncomprehending, as pain blossomed in his back. A hand ripped the Ring from his neck, and Bakura suddenly knew who it was without looking. As Bakura sank to his suddenly powerless knees, Akhenaden moved to the Stone, placing each Item in its groove.

The frozen look of horror on the king’s face – speechless for once – was no comfort. He’d made a mistake. What was he thinking, balking at the thought of letting loose an underworld demon into this world? And after all he’d done to take his revenge? After sacrificing the blood of his treacherous men, why had he shrunk away from the final step? He should have been the one to break the seal, not Akhenaden. That power should have belonged to him. It was his right, paid with blood.

Gathering all his remaining strength, Bakura focused on the Ring. Among the seven Items, the Ring had been with him the longest, and knew him best. To its immense, destructive power, he added his own anger, his pain, and all of his vengeful hate. Even now the enchanted metal called to him, dark and warm. And he fed the link between the Ring and himself, fueling the insidious draw of the Ring on his soul with his willingness. The Items called out to unwary souls so seductively, so eager to swallow yet another. All he had to do was to stoke that malevolent hunger.

As the last of his consciousness faded, Bakura felt the liquid gold of Millennium Ring’s magic flood through him, grasping for his core. Then he knew no more.

~*~*~*~


Seto woke up slowly, mind drifting in the space between dreams and the waking world. He felt warm, his head supported by something soft. Slender fingers caressed his forehead, light and gentle.

Mother?

His mother had done that when he was little, stroking his forehead to sooth away a fever. It was one of the few memories he had left of his mother, cherished beyond all others because it was one of the rare moments of security and innocent happiness in his life. Was he dreaming of her, then?

“Lord Seth.”

That was his name. Then, a more coherent part of his mind objected, nudging his mind toward wakefulness. That was his name before. He was someone else now, with another name and another purpose, and other important things to protect. Protect...?

An image of Mokuba speared through his mind like a streak of lightning, and Seto’s eyes flew open. His eyes focused on twin orbs of purest blue, and he blinked once, then twice when the image refused to fade. Those blue eyes were striking next to the white hair falling softly over thin shoulders, framing her in a halo of light.

Kisara.

“Are you awake, Lord Seth?”

Seto sat up and immediately winced, feeling a sharp ache lodged in the back of his neck, and felt Kisara’s arms around him, steadying him. Right. He’d come to set her free before Akhenaden—

Akhenaden!

Instinctively, Seto groped for the Millennium Rod. Gone, he thought grimly, lips pressing in a thin line, a hand gingerly feeling the back of his head. A large bump told him how he had ended up in the cell himself. He should have acted sooner. He’d known Akhenaden had changed, had even told Atem as much, yet why did he think Akhenaden would miss a chance to claim the Rod? Preposterous, to let his guard down so much, when he knew how much was at stake.

“You should rest a little more.” Kisara’s gentle hands were still on him. Although he knew logically it was impossible, it was like something radiated from her very touch, soothing away his pain, refreshing him.

“I’ve rested too long,” Seto said, pushing away her support. “Ahkenaden must be halfway across the city by now, if not already across the river.” It was bad enough he’d botched her rescue so spectacularly. If he was very lucky, he might have just the time to free Kisara and head off Akhenaden before he reached Kur-Elna.

“Lord Akhenaden?” Kisara’s smooth brow creased. “Why would he do this to you? He seemed fond of you.”

“Lord Akhenaden is no longer himself. He’s...” Seto swallowed hard. The sharp stab of betrayal couldn’t be his emotion, because Seto had never trusted Akhenaden. And Seth hadn’t even known that Akhenaden was his father... “He’s fallen prey to the darkness.”

The distant tingle along the edge of his consciousness was so subtle, Seto nearly missed it. But the way Kisara stiffened was unmistakable. Even before her worried voice reached his ears, Seto’s head snapped up, feeling the tingle erupt to something much more sinister.

“Lord Seth...”

The western sky was darkening, turning the day into an artificial night. Even without the unnatural chill in the air, there was no way anyone with magic could miss the feeling of wrongness. There was something foul in the air, some kind of malice that didn’t belong in the living world, spreading with every heartbeat. Seto shuddered, looking at the pitch black that was the western sky now, knowing without a doubt something had gone very, very wrong. Had Atem and Yuugi... No, best not to think about that. He needed to get out of here, plan his next move. Kaiba Seto didn’t give up without a fight, no matter what kind of odds he faced.

“Come, Kisara. We have to get out of here.”

Only his growing anger, the only weapon he had against the unease, kept him from swaying on his feet when he stood. Kisara was at his side instantly, supporting him with a strength that belied the frail frame, and it was all Seto could do to not lean on her. Seto forced himself to pull away. She was someone he had to protect, not hide behind. If nothing else, he was going to get her out of here.

The ground shook, and Seto cursed, just barely avoiding being knocked off his feet. The tremor didn’t ease, and the earthen walls of the building started to crack under the strain.

“Lord Seth, is this...could it be the creature inside me that’s causing this?”

Seto couldn’t help the short bark of laughter that escaped him. As if it could be something that benign. “No. Nothing of the sort. But I need you out of here. Now.”

“But how...”

Millennium Items were necessary only when calling out more than one Ka, Seth’s memories supplied readily. For a Ka bonded to a caller, as Dios was to Seth, nothing but magic and strength of will were needed to call it out. Even without the Rod, Dios responded to him readily, and the pull on his magic as his Ka materialized was reassuring. Once called, Dios’s sword made a quick work of the sturdy bronze bars.

“Come.”

The blue eyes met his without fear. The next moment, Kisara held out her own hand to firmly clasp Seto’s proffered hand, trusting and brave, so willing to believe in him. Seto tightened his own grip and stepped through the remnants of the bars, leading her out of the room.

“Lord Seth!”

The dark lightning speared through him, immobilizing him, and Seto went down heavily, pulling Kisara down with him. Something prickled at the edge of his senses. Within the heavy presence of evil surrounding them, he thought he’d recognized something familiar.

“We,” Seto murmured, his grip like a vice on Kisara’s hand, “are in serious trouble.”

~*~*~*~


“Isis!”

The priestess caught herself, putting one hand on a stone column for support. “I’m all right, Lord Siamun,” she murmured, eyes closed against the sudden dizziness that threatened to overwhelm her.

“I was afraid for you when I found you knocked out.” The wizened violet eyes found hers, darkening with concern. “I would force you to rest, were our need less grave.”

“Safety of our people, and of the queen, first,” Isis agreed, opening her eyes. “May the gods forgive us, for desecrating the holy grounds of Ipet Resyt.”

With the continuous earthquake the walls of the royal city and the palace had collapsed, and the tallest structures struck down by lightning bolts. They had no chance of defending themselves in the city. Even then opening the Southern Sanctuary should have been unthinkable. But the queen, the usually quiet and reserved lady, was nothing if not surprising, and Siamun was nothing if not practical. Between the two of them, they had come up with the idea of sheltering the city’s populace within the walls of the Southern Sanctuary.

“The Southern Sanctuary is only place big enough to hold the entire city’s population. And the only one close enough that is defensible, if only for a little while.” The old advisor’s grin was clear even through the veil covering the lower half of his face. “The queen thought of a wonderful idea, didn’t she? The temple granaries are full to the brim. If...” A shadow passed over Siamun’s face, but did not shake the firm resolution there. “They can hold out for weeks, maybe more than a month. If we can just bring the pharaoh back to safety.”

“All the more reason to hurry.” Isis forced herself away from the support of the column, aware that even in this organized panic, there were eyes that looked to her for reassurance as one of the Millennium Items’ wielders. She consciously kept her hand away from her throat, though it was difficult to ignore the absence of the Tauk. Any hint of unease from her would quickly pass down to other priests, and from there, to civilians. As yet, none save Siamun, Isis, and the queen knew that the pharaoh’s whereabouts – never mind his safety – was uncertain, two of the six Millennium Item wielders were unaccounted for, and most (if not all) of the Items themselves were likely in the hands of their enemy. Isis had glimpsed at the oncoming enemy through the eyes of Spiria. The enemy forces, heralded by unnatural earthquakes and storms of lightning, weren’t human. Nothing that belonged under the bright rays of the sun, those foul creatures of the netherworld. To face them without the Millennium Items was hopeless, but Isis dared not show even merest hint of her terror before the eyes of the people.

“What worries me is that Seth is missing, so soon after Lord Akhenaden disappeared.”

Isis looked at Siamun, surprised. “You don’t think that Lord Seth was the one who—”

“No, no, I’ve known the boy for years. His heart’s in the right place. A bit impatient and arrogant perhaps, but such is youth. I do not doubt Seth’s loyalty to the pharaoh. But it isn’t like him to be absent in an emergency like this. Given how I found you, I cannot help worrying. He, too, may have been surprised by the enemy.”

“Or perhaps he is already on his way to the pharaoh’s side. That would be like him.” Isis knew she was saying the words partly to reassure herself. If anyone could take care of himself, it was Seth. With the exception of the pharaoh, Seth was the strongest mage of their generation, rivaled only by the late Priest Mahaad. If Seth had been taken down, too... Isis pulled her mind away from troubling thoughts. She had a duty to complete here in pharaoh’s absence: to protect their people, and their queen.

“Lord Siamun! Priestess Isis! The scouts report the enemy forces have crossed the river and entered the fields outside the city walls!” A soldier on horseback reported with admirable composure, even with the urgency of his report.

Siamun nodded shortly. “Ride ahead and report to the queen. Tell her that the people must hurry to the Sanctuary as quickly as possible and bar the gates behind them.” The soldier saluted quickly, and rode away toward the head of the crowd. The senior advisor next turned to the priests and other members of the court following them, whose faces showed fear, but also determination. “We have no choice but to divide our forces. A number of our soldiers must be dedicated to defending the Sanctuary, to safeguard our people and the pharaoh’s wife. I will lead the rest to the field and meet the enemy there. Gods willing, we will hold them off until the pharaoh returns.”

“You have the responsibility of seeing our queen and our people to safety, my lords,” Isis reminded them, her voice firm and resolute. “You mustn’t fail us. Until the pharaoh returns, you must keep them safe within the Southern Sanctuary. Lord Siamun and we will hold back the enemy forces no matter what it takes.”

The courtiers and priests bowed to them, and hastened away. After the generals of the army were dismissed with further instructions, Siamun turned to her with a thoughtful frown.

“I would have liked to send you to the Southern Sanctuary with the people, Isis.”

“Not while the pharaoh’s safety remains uncertain. The foremost duty of the six priests is to protect the pharaoh.”

Siamun smiled at her, fond and proud. “Nothing less from one of the six.”

Isis smiled back, trying to hold back yet another disquieting idea lurking in her thoughts. Of the six, Seth was quite possibly the best duelist. She herself held the Tauk, which enabled her to foresee the future. And Akhenaden, whose Eye never missed a threat, rarely left the Temple of Stone Tablets, which was one of the most heavily guarded place even within the palace. How could an outsider, even one as cunning as Bakura, penetrate the defenses of the palace so easily and take down three priests at once? Unless there had been a collaborator hidden within the walls of the palace itself, someone who not only knew who possessed the Items, but also where they could be found. Even then, to elude the powers of three Millennium Items seemed improbable at best.

Doubting her fellow priests was like doubting herself. But wasn’t it strange that she was the only one found, unconscious but alive, while the other two priests simply disappeared? Why would Bakura leave her alive at all? And if Mahaad was of any indication, the Thief King could have simply killed the three of them and left their bodies behind as a message. Kidnapping wasn’t his style, if it were even possible to keep both Seth and Akhenaden subdued. So where were the other two? If only Mahaad were still alive, Isis thought, biting her lower lip. If no one else, she knew she could trust Mahaad.

“Isis.”

Isis found the violet eyes studying her with a knowing look. Siamun nodded, eyes calm and understanding. “Doubt has no end. At a time like this, what one needs is faith, not doubt. Let us believe that Seth and Akhenaden are safe, and that their hearts are with us even if they’re not.”

A genuine smile tugged at her lips, and Isis nodded. “Yes, Lord Siamun.”

“Come.” Siamun mounted his horse with the poise of an old warrior, which, Isis recalled belatedly, he was. Before he became the chief advisor, he, too, had been one of the six priests chosen to wield the Millennium Items. “We must not allow those foul creatures to overrun our city.”

Isis mounted her horse, declining the helping hand from the soldier who held the horse’s rein. Now was not the time for doubts or weaknesses.

“I am with you, to the end,” she promised, steel entering her voice.

Siamun nodded curtly, then with a swift kick to his horse’s flank, he was off, Isis following closely behind. The thunder of the hooves and feet rang out clear despite the rumbling ground, as the soldiers followed the two priests down the main avenue, toward the gates of the royal city, toward the encroaching darkness.

~*~*~*~


“Yuugi! Yuugi! Answer me!”

“I’m here,” came a faint answer, and Atem let out the breath he hadn’t noticed he was holding. Less than ten feet from him, there were neatly sliced chunks of rubble lying in a rough circle, tip of a huge broadsword visible behind them. “Just had to get something. Give me a second.”

A few flashes of the silvery sword, and the rubble fell away in smaller slices, revealing the Silent Swordsman with his sword resting on one shoulder, its tall figure dwarfing Yuugi. Atem let out a soft sigh, relief sagging his shoulders at seeing Yuugi unharmed.

“What did you have to get?” Atem asked, not quite able to work up the proper level of concerned anger at Yuugi’s recklessness. Yuugi, looking rather triumphant for someone who was bruised and dusty, brandished a large, rectangular object in his hand.

“I caught a glimpse of it before. I figured it must be important if Bakura was keeping it so close. You’d said the Millennium Grimoire was missing, and well, the design on the cover looked familiar, so...”

The Eye. Atem sucked in a sharp breath. A book whose cover featured the very design of the Eye also featured on every single Millennium Item. If this book was indeed the lost Millennium Grimoire, it would explain how Bakura knew so much about the Items. “And the scrolls?”

“I don’t know, notes? Translations? I figure, if Bakura kept them—”

“—Then they must be important.” Atem gave him a wry look. “All the same, I wish you wouldn’t take risks like that without warning me first.”

“What, so we can take them together?”

Atem did not grin back. “Yes.”

Yuugi met his gaze for a moment, then nodded. “Okay. Sorry.”

“Akhenaden... Zorc could have finished us off.” Atem glanced around, surveying the damage. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed completely, leaving the underground temple caved in underneath. Mana and her Ka, Black Magician Girl, seemed mostly unscathed while the Black Magician looked a bit worse for wear. Shaada and a handful of the soldiers had also survived.

Karim, cradled in Shaada’s arms, was as still as the stones surrounding them.

“Karim?” Atem asked, looking straight at Shaada, who shook his head heavily.

“Pharaoh, the Items,” Shaada said, and Atem started, realizing the Seven Items were still resting on the Millennium Stone, which had been left miraculously intact throughout the ordeal. Almost all of them – the Rod was missing, but Atem had a good guess who might have taken it.

“I don’t understand. Even if they don’t need the Items anymore, don’t they realize you can call out the Three Illusionary Gods with the Puzzle?” Yuugi asked while he and Atem cautiously made their way with help from the soldiers and the summoned Monsters. “Not to mention – you know.”

“Perhaps they didn’t realize the true power of the Three Gods.” Atem gathered the Items carefully, retying the Puzzle to a strap of leather and replacing it around his neck. “In the RPG, I heard the secret from Hassan. It’s possible that the Dark Priest and Zorc don’t know it.”

“Or...maybe, the Dark Priest had a more pressing business.” The pointed look from Yuugi made Atem start. Come to think of it, during the RPG, Seth had gone missing in the final battle against Zorc because the Dark Priest had abducted him, intent on forcing his son to join him.

“Seto,” Atem said, his blood suddenly like ice in his veins.

“Pharaoh!”

The cry was from one of their soldiers, pointing towards the sky. Atem and Yuugi hurried back to the ground, and gaped at the sky. Darkness was spreading eastward like black ink, blotting out the sun. Crackling lightning struck the ground, and the entire earth shook, as if trembling in fear.

“The earthquake. It’s only happening across the river,” Yuugi said sharply. “It’s right outside the city.”

“Demons,” Shaada breathed, looking at the writhing mass of darkness creeping over the land like poison. “Creatures of the netherworld.”

“We need to get to the city. The people—”

Yuugi didn’t have a chance to finish. Atem had his hand on the Puzzle faster than thought, invoking the name of a god, summoning a pillar of monstrous strength reaching to the heavens.

“Come forth, Great Soldier of Obelisk!”




Notes: It’s always challenging to re-write an existing canon scene. Particularly the scene at the underground temple where Atem and Thief King Bakura face off, because it’s a crucial moment in the manga (and anime). I had to reconstruct that part completely, have it make sense (more or less), but in the end reasonably match the canon events. One tiny infinitesimal bit I can’t help but point out? In the canon, Diabound uses Thunder Force by this time. I’d originally written that, too. Then I remembered Diabound learned that attack from Osiris, and that was from the battle in Volume 34. In this version of the events, Diabound would not have learned it at all, since that particular battle never happened. Hence I had to revert it back to Spiral Destructive Wave. Bummer.

Yes, I also had a blatant ripoff moment from The Mummy (1999). Sorry about that.

I know in the Yugioh canon, the “past” events are supposed to take place in the Memory World where the rules of physics are bent all the time. Even still, I wanted the events in RE:Play to have some reasonable connectivity so that the overall “historical” events still made sense. So I took quite a bit of liberty with the canon. Hopefully it all makes sense in the end?

There is one more chapter to come, and then it will be the epilogue! (Finally.)

April 2014

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