The Shadow Realm has taken over the Earth, Duel Monsters are everywhere and the few humans left are trying to survive.
This is an AU that takes place after Battle City, but the Ishtars kept their millennium items and stayed in Domino city.
Shadow World: Realm I
The skies were dark,
The sun impossible to find,
He did not know,
If it was day or night.
He lived in a nightmare,
His worse fears came true,
The skies were dark,
No longer blue.
It was cold and dark as it always was since it happened. The seal's final moment came and the protectors failed. The Earth and the Shadow Realm had become one and he was facing his nightmares everyday as everyone else was. For some unknown reason the Shadow Realm now surrounded the Earth.
Ryou Bakura ran to the shadows. He hated the shadows, but he had to hide. One day when everyone least expected it, the skies turned black as the Shadow Realm surrounded the Earth. Duel monsters now ran free in the streets of the city once called Domino. They were hunting for humans, their only food. Humans hid, but they also needed food and water and today it was Ryou's turn to go out and find supplies.
Most monsters were wild, hunting for humans all the time, but a few remained loyal to their former masters. Cards were no good anymore, duelists, now called shadow masters, called their monsters to fight as they wished. When the Shadow Realm first took over, Yami tried to stop it and Bakura for some reason agreed to help him. Ryou remembered that.
"I have to help him..." Bakura concluded, it was something Ryou did not expect to hear. The hikari found guild in his yami's voice. "I don't really care much about that Pharaoh and his hikari, or the people of Domino, or even the people of Earth, but if the Shadow Realm wins then you." The tomb robber did not finish, instead he said something else. "I won't blame you if you never forgive me even after I'm gone." Ryou was confused. What did Bakura mean by 'after I'm gone'? If he worked together to help Yami, they could defeat the shadows and save the Earth, right?
They couldn't and they didn't, regardless of how hard they tried. Yami and Bakura teamed up for this and failed. They somehow knew before everyone else the danger that this meant. They fought against the Shadow Realm's army and lost. All of the monsters loyal to them, all those that used to be part of their decks back when cards meant something were gone. The only monsters left to protect Ryou, Malik and Yugi, who were now living together, were Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl.
What caused the Shadow Realm to become one with the Earth? If the yamis were destroyed, what will happen now? Will the world be like this until the human race is no more? Many questions were unanswered for Ryou. One of those questions hurt the most, was Bakura destroyed thinking that Ryou hated him or did he know he was forgiven?
Ryou ran out of the shadows and into the ruins of what once was a supermarket. He grabbed a bag and put whatever eatable food he could find in it. Most of the food was gone; most of the people were dead. He made haste, knowing that the monsters could come any second. He made his way to the back of the supermarket where at last he found a few old fruits, not much and not tasty, but non the less food.
The scent of the victims was in the air, the scent of death, the death that fed the monsters that threatened to end the human race, a race that had become slave to the Shadow Realm. Even those who were called shadow masters in truth were slaves of survival. Humans, they were all shadow slaves.
Ryou quickly put all the fruits in the bag and was ready to run back to his hide out when he heard footsteps. Those steps did not belong to a human, they sounded like sharp claws. Ryou hid a broken refrigerator. He did not look out for fear that the monster would bite his head off if he did, but he saw the shadows on the wall, shadows of monsters that are hungry for human blood.
Once the monsters were gone, Ryou ran out of the ruins of the supermarket and back into the darkness of the streets. He was in more danger there than inside, but at least he had more room to run, Not that it would matter since monsters ran or flew faster than humans. He held the bag of food close. Yugi and Malik needed these supplies and it was his turn to come back alive, it was more dangerous to travel in groups, the human scent would be too strong to hide. Ryou ran to a nearby alley, hiding in the darkness that he hated, but was his only protector.
When the coast was clear, he ran again. Run and hide, run and hide, it was all he did now. It was all he could do. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Ryou arrived at what used to be Yugi's game shop. The building was in much worse state than it was when he left, that made Ryou think Yugi and Malik were attacked while he was gone. He quickly ran inside.
"Ryou!" Malik called when he saw him come in.
"Hey, guys. I found some food, it's not very good but it's edible, I think," Ryou handed the bag to Malik.
"Anything edible is good," Malik walked to a small table, which was actually just a board on some boxes.
"What happened here?" Ryou asked.
"We were attacked by Winged Dragons," Yugi come from the next room. He had a cloth stained with blood in his hands.
Ryou opened his eyes wide. "You?"
"No," Yugi replied, "Dark Magician was injured."
"He'll be okay, Dark Magician Girl is taking care of him," Mai came from the other room.
"Mai?" Ryou looked at her in surprise.
"Hi, I'm just here for a little while, I'm going to leave this city in search for a better place to live. Somewhere with less monsters and more edible food," Mai explained.
"Joey's here too," Yugi added. "Mai has three Harpy Ladies and Harpy's Pet Dragon, and Joey had Flame Swordsman and Red Eyes Black Dragon."
"He's resting, he said he was leaving to look for," Malik paused, "his sister."
"I see..." Ryou knew the truth without having to be told. It was probably because of Mai and Joey's monsters that they survived the Winged Dragons' attack. What would happen when they left?
xoxox xox xoxox
They shared the food that Ryou found and rested. Later Mai and Joey took their separate ways, leaving Yugi, Ryou and Malik alone again. The three boys didn't need to search for supplies at the moment. They always made the most of what they had, even if it meant small rations.
Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl slept and Yugi sat alone in a dark corner. It was always dark, no electricity and no sun, just darkness. Ryou and Malik sat down beside him, one at each side.
"You miss them..." Ryou spoke.
"Yes," Yugi admitted. "I can't believe that Grandpa and Yami are both gone."
"I know this may sound strange buy I miss Bakura," Ryou confessed.
"I miss Ishizu and Odion," Malik noticed it was getting colder. It must be night time; the cold was the only way to tell the difference between day and night since it was always dark. They hugged each other and stayed close in the corner, hoping tonight wasn't as cold as last night.
Yugi, Ryou and Malik remembered when things started to really fall apart. That time when what was to come finally sunk in. Téa was still alive at the time. After searching for supplies with Yugi, Ryou and Malik, they were heading back to the Game Shop.
"We can't give up guys, I'm sure things will improve," Téa tried to cheer up the mood, but she didn't really believe it, even if she was trying hard to convince herself that there was still hope. "We have to-" the sentence was literally cut short as a Feral Imp jumped on her out of no where and clawed her head off.
They let their guard down and now Téa was dead, just like so many others. Yugi stood there petrified, eyes wide open, jaw dropped, as the Feral Imp began to eat his pray. "We have to get out of here!" Malik called out.
"Run Yugi!" Ryou pulled Yugi away by the arm and the three boys ran, knowing it was already too late for Téa. They didn't stop or look back until they were inside the Game Shop.
They had seen so many die this way. They didn't want to think about it, especially since they could be next. The wild monsters outside were getting stronger and more ferocious. They had to be that way if they wanted to survive. Their first instinct on any unknown moving life form was to attack. They were running out of humans to hunt and hunger made them more dangerous.
Most of those who had monsters to protect them, could not call them on time or their monsters weren't strong enough to defeat those who had no master. When a duelist falls, the monsters once loyal to that duelist become like the ones who killed their master, wild, ferocious and dangerous. The three boys currently hiding in the Game shop, or what was left of it, feared that one day there will be so many wild monsters that they could no longer hide and survive.
xoxox xox xoxox
The supplies that Ryou brought were running out and now it was Malik's turn to leave their little hide out. The Egyptian boy left cautiously, looking in every direction for a random rampaging monsters jumping out of a dark corner. He then started running. He didn't know where he was going, but wherever it was, it had to be fast.
Malik was about to run passed what used to be the Ishtar Museum, which was now a pile of rocks. There he made the mistake of stopping. He looked at the pile of rocks that was once his home in Domino City. "Ishizu..." He walked towards the pile of rocks and just stared at it, remembering the day the museum ended up like this. It was a group of Thousand Dragons along with a few Baby Dragons that did this, but the Thousand Dragons made most of the damage.
"Sister I hear them! They're outside!" Malik held on to the Millennium Rod, an item that scared him at some point, but now somehow helped him feel secure.
"Ssh! Quiet they have very sensitive hearing." After that statement from Ishizu, they both remained silent. The only thing that could be heard was the roar of the Thousand Dragons outside.
Soon Malik started to smell smoke. "Ishizu, the Museum is burning!"
"I know," Ishizu expected it.
Malik just looked at his sister. How could she be so calm at a time like this? It was strange; he saw fear and sadness in her eyes, yet no sign of a will to fight. It was as if she was expecting to die soon and knew nothing could save her. Another sound was heard once the Thousand Dragons stopped roaring. It was a strange kind of footsteps. The Thousand Dragons where to big to go inside unless, "Baby Dragons," Malik whispered.
"I know Malik, I know. I have made a choice," Ishizu took off her Millennium Necklace.
"Ishizu, what are you talking about?" Malik looked at her in shock. He had a small idea of what she meant, but that just couldn't be true. He didn't want to believe it. Had she foreseen her own death? Why not stop it? Was it impossible to stop like Odion's had been?
"Take my Millennium Necklace as a reminder of your sister." Ishizu managed to smile one last smile, hiding her sadness in it. Then she hugged Malik like she did long ago when they were younger. "Take care of yourself brother," she would miss her little brother, but at least he would have a chance to live.
"What are you saying?" Malik tried to give her back the necklace. "I can't take this, your keeping it and you're staying alive!" He wasn't going to accept it so easily.
"The dragons will not leave without a human prey. I have foreseen that we will both eventually be discovered." Ishizu tried hard not to cry, but one tear managed to escape her eyes. She quickly dried it and looked away.
"Then use the power of the Millennium Necklace to find us a safe hiding place!" Malik insisted, stepping in front of her so she couldn't look away, "please sister."
"This vision came to me too late, when the Thousand Dragons and their Baby Dragons were already on their way close by. We couldn't leave the museum, we would have both died. If we try to hide and are not discovered, they will simply demolish the museum and we will be killed when it comes down. However, if I go now, you will be able to escape. According to my visions this is the only way one of us will live." Ishizu looked at Malik, it seamed like he was still processing all that information, but he didn't really want to.
"Sister I..." Malik realized then that there was nothing he could do. Maybe if she would have gotten that vision earlier they could both survive. If only whatever caused the Shadow Realm to fuse with the Earth had never happened, then they wouldn't be in this situation. But thinking of what could have, or should have happened, but didn't happen, would not help. He wished that it was him that had to stay instead of her, but he knew she wouldn't give up.
"Listen carefully Malik, I will distract the Baby Dragons heading this way and when I yell, you will run to the backdoor. As you turn the corner I will be killed, but please do not look, do not turn back, it's me or both of us and I don't want you to die. After you're at the backdoor wait there still and quiet until you hear a Thousand Dragon's roar then run. Run as fast as you can to the Game Shop, you will find shelter there." After saying those words, Ishizu unlooked the door of the small secret room where they were hiding and went out to face her cruel destiny.
The stone were pictures of Atemu and Seth dueling were carved was moved and the secret room was revealed. Ishizu ran out and the Baby Dragons immediately attacked her. Her vision was blurry from tears but it didn't matter, no matter how fast she ran, she knew they would catch her.
Malik did as his sister told him, following every direction exactly as she said and he lived. He arrived at the Game Shop out of breath, with the Millennium Rod in one hand and the Millennium Necklace in the other.
Ryou and Yugi were there. Tears ran down Malik's face as he told them what had happened. He knew that his sister was gone forever and hated the fact that he couldn't save her. She gave up her life to save him and even if they would have both died anyway, he appreciated it all the same. He knew she would choose his life over hers no matter what and wished that it was his choice to make instead.
Malik kept staring at the pile of rocks lost in his memories. The Thousand Dragons must have destroyed the entire building after he had ran, but Ishizu was already dead by then, so the museum didn't matter. He knew he should get going because he was easy to find by the monsters out there, but something told him to search the ruins. As if something was calling him.
Malik looked around in the darkness of the empty streets. It was quiet, too quiet he knew he should hurry, but he wanted to look in the ruins. He moved a few rocks out of the way and found a small tunnel that must have been formed when the museum came down. It was too small to go in, but he could see a pair of green eyes inside. Was it a monster? No, it was too small. Maybe it was a baby monster? No, those eyes were too familiar.
Suddenly, the creature with the green eyes bolted out of the little stone tunel and jumped on Malik. "Mr. Fluffy!" It was Malik's cat that somehow survived. The cat jumped off Malik and started running and meowing as if he wanted Malik to follow. Cats had an extra sense. They could almost predict what monsters and the Shadow Realm itself would do, so a cat was good to have around. Mr. Fluffy was a tan spin cat, meaning he was hairless. Malik has had that cat for a while now; he was a birthday present from his sister.
The cat could run very fast and Malik was having a little trouble keeping up but he didn't stop. Mr. Fluffy ran into an alley instead of continuing down the main road. In Egypt cats were very important for a reason; they could sense the monsters' presence as well as the presence of shadow spirits. "Mr. Fluffy, wait up!" It was a strange name for a hairless cat, but Malik thought it would make the cat feel more comfortable.
Finally, the cat stopped in front of a tall iron wall. There stood a large fortress at the other side, with a statue of a Blue Eyes White Dragon on top of it. They called that place Dragon Castle. "Why are we here? This is Kaiba's place but he won't open the gates for us. I bet he has plenty of supplies in there, but doesn't care that everyone outside is dying." Mr. Fluffy continued to scratch the wall trying to climb it, but the cold metal was too slippery.
"I understand, you miss her don't you?" Malik picking up the cat. "Of all the cats in this city, you had to get a crush on the Kaiba brothers' cat. Well she is a cute cat... What am I saying? I'm supposed to be looking for food and here I am playing with my cat. I thought you were leading me to place where I could find food, food that's accessible I mean." Malik started to walk with the cat in his arms; he had only taken a few steps when Mr. Fluffy started hissing. "Monster," Malik jumped into a dark corner near the walls of Dragon Castle, just in time as four Feral Imps ran by.
The memory of what happened to Téa replayed in his head and he started feeling sick just thinking about getting his head ripped off in a similar way. Maybe having a cat was more useful than he thought. Once the Feral Imps were gone, Mr. Fluffy calmed down and Malik resumed his search for food. "Ryou told me not to even bother with that old supermarket anymore. Then where should I go? Maybe there's another place that used to be store around here that still has food."
xoxox xox xoxox
In a far away place, outside of Domino City, she felt the tears run down her face, he didn't like it when she cried, but she couldn't help it. She missed her brother so much, but he wasn't here. Was he even alive? Her brother trusted him so much yet she wasn't being treated as expected.
He was to take care of her, to protect her but he didn't. Her current situation scared her so much; she didn't know what he would do. Was he even the same person? Whatever it may be, there was nothing she could do about it. She admired Mai because no one ever pushed her around. She was her own boss and no one could deny that. But it was different for Serenity; she always needed her big brother to protect her, but what if the circumstances and fate itself made it so he couldn't be there for her? Like right now.
She heard footsteps coming her way. They both lived in a small dungeon-like place, hidden underground to keep them safe. All he had left to protect them was Garoozis and that wasn't much. She pushed herself as far into the corner as she could, she was so scared. Her back came in contact with the wall, it was so cold even if they were underground.
The door opened and someone stood there, once familiar to her, now a stranger. "Where are you Serenity?" Tristan's voice came harsh and cold, far from how he spoke before he became a shadow master. The Shadow Realm was affecting his mind, taking over it a little more every day, but neither of them realized it until it was too late and if she did she was too afraid to say anything about it. He was not strong enough to be a true shadow master and this was the consequence.
"I'm here," Serenity tried not to sound scared, but she couldn't help it. She wished with all her heart that Joey would come for her soon.
"Why are you sitting in that dark corner? You won't want me to think you're afraid of me would you?" Tristan grinned evilly. Serenity could somehow sense the darkness around him and kept pushing herself against the wall as if she wanted to go through it. Tristan came closer. "Are you sure you're not afraid? You won't want to upset me, right?"
Serenity was frozen looking into his eyes, something was different and it was worse with each passing day. There was certain darkness in his cold emotionless glare that Serenity had never seen before in anyone, "no."
"That's good; you do know that if it weren't for me you'd be dead, right? Your brother abandoned you!" Tristan said what he shouldn't have said.
Not knowing what happened to Joey was what hurt Serenity the most. "That's not true! My brother would never abandon me!" The fear left for a short moment and she wanted to try to do something, anything, to escape and go find her brother, but she couldn't.
"Silence!" Tristan yelled. "We will speak of him no more!" Without another word from either of them, Tristan left and locked the door, leaving Serenity alone again.
"Joey will save me one day. He has to be alive. He'll save Tristan too, the real Tristan." Serenity remembered the last time she saw Joey.
"This is looking pretty bad." It hasn't been too long since the Shadow Realm came and things were just starting to fall apart. "I'm going to try to make a run for it to the Game Shop. I'll be back as soon as I can." Joey thought it was necessary to somehow contact Yugi and the others. All ways of distant communication were out, so this was all that was left to do. The phone lines had been destroyed by the monsters as had been the electric lines. Cell phones and wireless communication were useless because there was no signal anywhere since this started.
Serenity shook her head and started crying, as hugged him. "Don't go, please don't go! Mom and dad are gone, killed by those monsters outside, please don't go, you're all I have left Joey!"
"Maybe I should go," Tristan was at the time still himself.
"No way pal, you've already risked your life today going out to get some food, now it's my turn. Stay here and keep Serenity company, I'm counting on you," Joey extended his hand.
Tristan shook his hand. "Right, don't worry I'll make sure Serenity's okay, I promise."
"See ya soon!" Joey stepped outside of the Wheeler's apartment. He looked around to make sure the coast was clear and made a run for it.
"Come back soon Joey," Serenity whispered. Everything was quiet until she almost screamed when she thought she saw something moving in the shadows. "Tristan there's something there!"
"Where?" Tristan looked around but didn't find anything.
"Right there in the shadows," Serenity pointed.
"It's okay Serenity, there's nothing there, you're just imagining things. Maybe you should rest and you'll feel better after a nap." Tristan tried to calm her. He wasn't sure what she saw, but he was trying to convince himself it was nothing. He had a feeling they where being watched, but he ignored it. There was nothing there, it was just his imagination, or was it?
"No, I'll feel better when Joey comes back! I won't sleep until he's here, I just can't, I'm already worried about him." With Serenity worried Joey and Tristan consoling, neither of them noticed that a shadow spirit was floating around behind Tristan.
The creature had been watching them, waiting for the right moment to strike. In appearance it looked like a semi transparent black ghost with glowing red eyes. In had no definite form, it just floated around like a strange shapeless shadow, making itself almost invisible in the darkness.
"Tristan, behind you!" Serenity's warning came too late, the shadow spirit now found a new vessel in Tristan's body. After that, he got up as if nothing happened and convinced her that he was fine.
As they waited for Joey, Serenity noticed Tristan was lost in thought, occasionally giving her strange looks, almost glaring. He insisted that they leave and practically dragged her away in the opposite direction of the Game Shop. Even if she kept asking to go back for Joey he didn't listen.
"I know you'll come, I'm waiting for you big brother," Serenity whispered into nothingness.
xoxox xox xoxox
Joey found himself in a deserted area of an unknown city. Maybe his sister was here. He was by now very frustrated and angry. It took a while to accept the fact that Tristan had practically kidnapped his sister. Who else could have done it if he was the only one there? It was either that or they were both killed by monsters. If the first possible answer made him feel depressed, the second made him feel even worse.
"I'm coming, Serenity," Joey tried to think there was still hope, that his sister was alive. Even if in the back of his mind he knew Tristan had to have something to do with their disappearance, he liked to believe there was an explanation for everything.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile at Domino City, "this isn't good," Malik had been walking for hours with no sign of food. Mr. Fluffy, the cat, lay still in his arms sleeping. Malik continued his search, but he was so tired, too tired. Maybe he should sit down for a minute, just for a minute. So what if he was out in the open. There didn't seem to be any monsters here and if there were, Mr. Fluffy would sense them, wake up, and alert him.
Malik sat on a gray rock. Everything was gray now, except the sky which was black, but that wasn't much of a difference. All was in ruins, it was very rare to find a building still standing, almost impossible. Every time he went out, he could see further into the dark horizon, otherwise impossible when Domino city was full of tall buildings. But the view wasn't good; it was like a nightmare, a never ending nightmare that was real.
Malik lay down on the hard and cold gray stone. It was certainly uncomfortable, but he was so tired. Mr. Fluffy continued to sleep on Malik's chest. The Egyptian closed his eyes.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Ah!" Malik, who had fallen asleep, was woken up by his cat that had to scratch him to get him to move. "Ouch, Mr. Fluffy, I already have plenty of carvings on my back, I don't need more on my chest." Malik still felt dizzy and very thirsty. He hadn't had enough water, if food was hard to find, clean water was even harder. They sometimes drank whatever they found so they wouldn't die out of thirst even if it meant risking poisoning.
Malik shook his head and tried to wake up completely; the lack of water made him feel very weak, but if his cat has woken him up there had to be a reason. Maybe he sensed the presence of a monster near by. Malik looked around yet found nothing. He looked at his cat. Mr. Fluffy's ears were straight up so was his tail. His claws and teeth were showing like he was ready to fight any minute.
"Poo," Malik heard something. "Poo," he heard the same sound again. "Poo, poo," it was like an echo that surrounded him. "Poo, poo, poo," it sounded like there were many of them. "Poo, poo, poo, poo," it sounded like they were all around. "Poo!"
"Kuriboh," as soon as the word escaped Malik's lips, the first little monster came into view, followed by many others.
A heavy fog had formed while Malik was sleeping and it was very hard to see. It may be true that a Kuriboh alone was week, but in such great numbers they could be very dangerous.
The explosive fur balls quickly surrounded Malik and his cat. Trapped with no way out, Malik and Mr. Fluffy stood still, waiting for the Kuriboh to make the first move. Maybe then they could find a way out of the deadly circle the monsters formed around them and run for their lives.
xoxox xox xoxox
Far away, Mai Valentine's journey led her near the ocean. The ocean was an unusual shade of dark blue and all the ships were destroyed. Pieces of wood and metal could be found on the shore. A black liquid appeared to be spreading into the distance in the sea and there was fire on land as well as in a few ships that slowly sank. However, the flames did not disappear as the ships sank, but became stronger as if the sea itself was going to burn; it was that black liquid that must serve as some kind of fuel to the flames, maybe it was some kind of oil or something worse.
"Mai!" She heard someone call her name and turned around to find Mako Tsunami.
xoxox xox xoxox
In Domino city, Ryou and Yugi were at the Game Shop waiting for Malik to return. "Yugi, why is Malik taking so long?" The white haired boy asked.
"I don't know, but I hope he's alright," Yugi was also starting to worry.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the ocean, "it's nice to see I'm not the only one alive here. You're heading across?" Mako asked.
"What's out there?" Mai truly saw no reason to cross the ocean. Wouldn't the world out there be the same? It's true that she was searching for a better place to live, but she was beginning to think there was no such place.
"Some sailors came a while ago, they found an island with no monsters, an uncivilized island with no houses or no sign of human presence, small but monster free none the less. They spoke of fruits and clean water on that island. I'm heading there in search of a better life, they said that their companions who stayed are starting to build a small village there," Mako explained.
It wasn't the first time Mai heard a story like this. In her travels, she had met many people who spoke of a better land, but they were just chasing an impossible dream. She used to be one of those people, but now it was different. She was starting to accept the realty that there was no peaceful land without monsters. "If that place is so great, why did they return?" The question was an obvious one. Who would want to come back to this war, to this fight for survival, if they have truly found a peaceful place to live in?
"For their friends and family that they left when they went in search of supplies. But came back to the cruel truth, near the ocean there was a beautiful town that, as you can see, is gone now." Mako had visited that town before and even stayed there for many days. He always came to restock on supplies before he left in his boat in search of his father. Mako Tsunami had at last accomplished his dream of traveling around the ocean, but this dream was short lived. Not too long after he returned from his first trip, anxious and exited to start the next, the Shadow Realm took over.
"To come back here after they found a safe place, how foolish!" Mai turning away.
"They wanted to find their friends and family!" Mako called after her. "They didn't go on a journey to leave them behind, the left to search for supplies and then when they found that island, they had to come back. Wouldn't you go back for your friends and family Mai?"
"No, because I have no family, they're all dead and my friends... We were never that close. I can't truly call them friends and they're probably dead too!" Deep down Mai regretted her words sounding so careless. Her friends were her true family.
As much as Mai tried to convince herself that she was doing the right thing by leaving, a part of her felt out of place. She wanted to return to Domino city and from there go off to search for Joey and help him find his sister. Yet Yugi had not gone with him, it was all about survival now, had the coming of the Shadow Realm affected them that much?
There was no room for friendship now, just survival; maybe going across the ocean wouldn't be such a bad idea. Mako and Mai could help each other, then go their separate ways when they get to safety. They could make a deal, just a deal. "Let's talk about business, Mako." Mai broke the uncomfortable silence that had formed. "I'll share my food with you if you get me across. I assume you have a boat and know the way?"
"Aye Mai, I do. We must leave now before the sea burns." After a short walk they reached Mako's boat. Mai hopped in and tossed her bag with food inside.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Stupid fur balls," Malik had developed a strong dislike for the Kuriboh right now. After standing perfectly still for a few minutes, finally the fist hairball decided to attack. Kuriboh were usually friendly, but given their current situation, in order to survive they had to become more aggressive and protective of their lands. Malik, although very tired, thirsty and hungry, was going to fight for his life if he had to, he quickly jumped out of the way and the Kuriboh hit another one. They both exploded but did not die, instead they fell on the ground unconscious.
At least Malik knew what to do. He just had to get the Kuriboh to hit each other. Trick one to attack and get out of the way at the last second so it would collide with the one behind him. Mr. Fluffy however, had his own way to do tings. The cat jumped from one Kuriboh to the other activating their attack as he jumped. After a few explosions Malik saw an opening and ran for dear life after his cat.
"Good work, Mr. Fluffy!" The Kuriboh were still chasing Malik, but at least he wasn't surrounded anymore. He saw what looked like the ruins of a tall building that was ready to fall apart. He would run in and the little hairballs would run after him, then he would grab a rock from the ground and throw it at one. That one would most likely hit another while exploding and so cause a chain reaction.
Even if they didn't all explode and get knocked out, they might still cause the building to fall apart and be crushed under it. But what if Malik didn't find a way out on time? He couldn't think about that now, he was in no condition to run a long distance and he felt like he would faint any second, this was his last hope to escape the army of Kuriboh.
Malik carried out his plan, making the Kuriboh follow him inside that building, throwing a rock at one and causing a chain reaction just like he thought it would happen. Finding at exit was the hard part. He couldn't go back out the way he came in because the explosion was there, but what if this building had no back door? What if he was trapped? "Meow!" He looked at his cat.
"Want me to follow you?" Malik followed Mr. Fluffy. How did the cat know where to go? Maybe he didn't, maybe he was just guessing. After running a little more, the building began to shake and fall. It was so dark, all Malik saw was the glowing green eyes of his cat that jumped and disappeared into more darkness. Malik didn't know what had happened but he followed also jumping and found himself in a dark fog.
They were outside, after having jumped out a window. Malik heard the building falling apart behind him and began to run again, getting away from it, the flying rocks and fragments of unknown material, the smoke, the dust and the Kuriboh. Once at what he calculated was a safe distance, Malik stopped to catch his breath.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the ocean, Mako's ship started sailing away just as the fire began to spread into the sea itself. Nothing to worry about, they would get away before it reached them. "Mako, can you make this thing go faster?" Mai asked. It wasn't exactly the best ship ever. The wooden ship that relied mostly on wind to move didn't look like anything Mai was used to traveling over the ocean in, but she had no choice. There was nothing else to travel in.
"Sorry Mai, but there's really not much I can do about this. The wind is very weak so we'll move slowly all the way, but don't worry, with some luck we'll get there in a week." Mako was doing a bad job trying to make something bad sounds as if it wasn't so bad, instead he made it sound worse. Who knows what may happen in a week, the ship could sink by then.
"A week! But I only have supplies for three days at most!" Mai protested. Why couldn't he have mentioned that before? It was too late to go back now, as the fire had created a wall around the land. "It's always the important things that aren't said until it's too late, always the important things," such words brought back memories and Mai asked herself if she had said all that needed to be said.
There she was, leaving to a strange place she wasn't even sure existed and Mako couldn't say he was sure either, he had never been to this island in person, he only heard about it. She didn't know when she would be back but most likely she wouldn't. There was nothing left for her in Domino city. There was nothing left there for anyone. Her goal now was to find a better place to live in, a place away from the duel monsters. Why would she return? Mai Valentine was smarter than that.
"We'll just have to diet," Mako half joked about their lack of supplies. "We couldn't wait any longer, look at the fire now. We would have been trapped and besides, I think it will be worth it if this island is as good as they say it is."
"If..." Mai continued to stare at the fire wall as if in a trance. She was trying to keep her memories out of her head. She was specially trying to forget a certain event that occurred before she left Domino city.
"So you're leaving Joey?" Mai was currently in the Game Shop. "Yeah, I'm off to find Serenity." For a moment it looked as if Mai, Joey, Yugi, Ryou and Malik would stay together, but Joey had to go. He had to go find his sister and it was something he wanted to do alone. It's not that he didn't appreciate help; it's just that he didn't know what he would find on his journey and didn't want to endanger anyone.
Later Mai also left. She wasn't looking for any lost family or friends, she was looking for peace. She was starting to think the way she used to before Duelist Kingdom. That she was better off alone, that she didn't need anyone. She was going back to that life from before. She tried to tell herself it was for the best and acted as if she was convinced, but she never managed to convince herself completely.
"Traveling by ship like this may be slow, but it's better than fighting for our lives all the time, don't you think? Besides, if we call our duel monsters that will attract attention," Mako turned his attention to the waters ahead, everything was darkness. The horizon couldn't be distinguished; there was no place in the distance where the blue of the sky touched the blue of the ocean because there was no blue. It looked as if they were sailing towards an endless void of dark emptiness.
"I suppose so," Mai was still staring at the fire. "When are we going to start moving Mako? The ship seems to be moving only up and down a few inches while floating in the water, but not going forward." That wall of fire was starting to worry Mai.
"We are going forward," Mako was looking at the water. "If you look at the water near the front of the ship you can tell we're moving, slowly but we're moving." Mako hated to watch the ocean in this state. The clear blue sea used to be so beautiful before, but now it was just depressing.
Mai had not stopped looking at the fire. "Are you sure we're going forward? Because that fire wall looks as if..." Mai paused still looking at the fire. "It's closer now; I think we're going backwards!"
"You're not a sailor so you can't tell the difference by how it feels when a ship is moving in a certain direction. You just feel the ship floating and base yourself in the surrounding area to tell if the ship moved or not. Such slow movements can only be interpreted correctly by a true sailor like me," Mako didn't admit it but the movements of the ship and the surrounding area didn't make sense. The ship was moving forward, but the fire was also closer.
"The water is burning isn't it? As impossible as it may sound it's burning even if the black stuff isn't as dark here." Mai directed her attention away from the fire. Her eyes were getting teary from staring at it for so long.
"The ocean, stupid Shadow Realm," Mako didn't want to believe it, but Mai was right.
They weren't safe in the water, the ocean itself would burn and it wasn't because of the oil, it was because of the Shadow Realm. "The water further ahead isn't as dark, it's bluer." Mai pointed a flashlight at the waters ahead. "The fire will be weakened there and maybe eventually stop."
"According to my calculations if the wind continues to blow like this we will reach semi clear waters before the fire touches the boat." Mako hoped the barely perceivable breeze continued. "Once we're in better waters my Legendary Fisherman and the fish he rides will pull the boat, making us move faster than the fire, but we can't risk getting the attention of other monsters here. They could see us from the shore and some can fly after us."
Everything was silent for a few seconds. The boat continued moving slowly. It looked as if they would make it until, it began to rain. But this wasn't ordinary rain; the rain water was black like the strange substance in the sea. The rain ended just as suddenly as it started. The fire that burned the ocean became stronger, surrounding the boat. "Why didn't you get a boat that actually has an engine!" Mai complained.
"It had an engine but it was damaged some time ago," Mako answered.
"Can't you do something?" Mai was starting to panic.
"No, that stuff in the water may hurt my Legendary Fisherman, it's not like he can fly," Mako was beginning to panic as well.
"Come to me Harpy's Pet Dragon!" Mai called. From the darkness of the sky above came a dragon flying down to them. It was Harpy's Pet Dragon. A few flying monsters came but Harpy's Pet Dragon was stronger. None the less, they had to get out of there quickly before they became too outnumbered.
"Sailing is much more fun than flying and safer too!" Mako complained holding on to the dragon he and Mai were now riding.
"Is that so? Look at your boat," Mai pointed out.
Mako looked down and saw that the fire had somehow reached his boat and it started to burn and sink. "My boat!"
"Forget it, just tell me which way is the island before more monsters come." Harpy's Pet Dragon flew higher, away from all the smoke and the smaller monsters.
xoxox xox xoxox
Malik looked around the darkness. It was so dark that he couldn't see anything. "Where am I?" After all that had happened, he truly had no idea where he was, it was as if his sense of direction had been completely shut down by the darkness. "How will I get back to the Game Shop?"
Staying out there was not a good idea and even if his confused state, Malik knew that all too well. His recent experience confirmed the dangers that were all around the city, if he could even call this a city now. Then he remembered he still hasn't found any food. It was his turn to find it and Ryou and Yugi were counting on him.
Malik suddenly felt something touch his leg. "Who's there!" The thing was small from what he could tell. He looked down and saw a pair or glowing green eyes. "Oh, it's you Mr. Fluffy," Malik petted the cat. "You can see in the dark, right? Okay boy, take me to some food!"
The cat meowed and started walking, not too fast so his master could keep up without tripping on anything in the darkness. He occasionally looked back to make sure Malik was still following him. As long as Malik saw the glowing green eyes, he knew he was going in the right direction. Cats were something special back in Ancient Egypt and now once again they were starting to show why. Maybe something similar happened back then.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Game Shop, Ryou and Yugi were very worried about Malik. He was taking too long to come back and all the fog outside made it impossible to see. "Do you think he's okay?" Ryou feared a truthful answer.
"I hope so," Yugi truly feared the worse. He had lost so much already and he didn't want to lose anyone else, it would be all he could take.
"How will he find his way back?" Ryou asked.
Yugi thought for a moment, he wanted to give Ryou a good answer. He wanted to give him an answer full of hope. An answer that would not only convince Ryou that everything will be alright, but convince also Yugi himself, but he could only say the truth, "I don't know."
Ryou was silent for a moment, then he got up and walked toward the door. Yugi picked up the candle that was their only light and followed him. "Where are you going?"
"Out," Ryou replied simply.
"Ryou, you can't look for him, you'll get lost. I'm sure Malik has found shelter somewhere and is simply waiting for the fog to pass before he comes back. I'm sure once this clears up a bit he'll come back as soon as he can see which way to go." Yugi was worried about Malik and wanted to go out and search also, but he feared what could happen if they did. They could both die, he wasn't worried about himself, with all that happened, Yugi didn't care what happened to himself, but he didn't want any more of his friends to get hurt.
"No Yugi, I can't wait, I have to go now!" After saying this, Ryou ran out into the darkness and disappeared in it. He had to find Malik; Yugi would be okay in the Game Shop for a few minutes. He wasn't going to take too long; Malik had to be near by. Ryou just couldn't stand it when the three of them were apart. Ever since he lost Bakura and allied with Malik and Yugi for the survival of the three Ryou had gotten quite attached to them and couldn't stand the thought of losing either of them. The Shadow Realm had taken Bakura; it would not take Malik also.
"Ryou! Ryou come back! Ryou!" Yugi hoped that he would return, but Ryou did not return or say anything at all, so Yugi ran after him. The candle hardly provided enough light to see where he was going.
xoxox xox xoxox
Malik was still following his cat. The cat stopped and Malik wondered why. "Is everything okay, Mr. Fluffy?"
"Meow! Meow!" The cat didn't move.
"What is it?" Malik took a closer look. It was a Kuriboh that was knocked out on the ground. "It's okay Mr. Fluffy, this one can't attack us. Now let's find some food."
"Meow!" Still the cat didn't move.
"C'mon Mr. Fluffy, please lead me to some food. Oh, no, you don't mean... Fine, fine," Malik picked up the Kuriboh and finally the cat got up and started walking. "I don't like your idea of food. I gave you the best cat food I could afford and this is what I get?" With this thought Malik remembered the time when he tried to turn his cat into a vegetarian. That idea didn't work out so he ended up giving him cat food instead.
"Meow!" The cat protested.
"It's okay; I understand there's nothing else. This will just have to do, let's go back to the Game Shop, you know the way right?" It appeared that the cat had quite a good sense of direction. If he could sense the monster's presence, maybe he could somehow sense Yugi and Ryou also.
"Meow!" Malik and Mr. Fluffy started walking toward the Game Shop. Soon they would be back in the place they now called home and everything would be alright, or as good as it can get in the current situation.
xoxox xox xoxox
Yugi was still searching for Ryou and there was no sign of him anywhere. Then again, he could be near by but there was no way to tell in this darkness with only a candle that was almost burned out. "Ryou!"
"Ryou... Ryou... Ryou..." Yugi heard the echo of his voice coming back in a ghostly way. A cold chill ran down his spine, was it just him or did the shadows that covered Earth get creepier by the day? No, it wasn't just him, things really where getting worse, much worse.
xoxox xox xoxox
After walking for a little longer, Malik and Mr. Fluffy arrived at the Game Shop. "I'm back!" Malik felt around for the door and opened it. "Ryou! Yugi! I'm here!" He called out once again, but just like the first time there was no answer. "Hello?" Malik was beginning to think he was alone in the Game Shop. Could Yugi and Ryou leave without him? Why would they do such a thing? No, they wouldn't just leave him, but then why weren't they here? Did something happen to them?
Did they get attacked and captured or killed? So many questions flooded his mind. "Guys! This isn't funny, please answer me!" Malik held his breath as the images of Ryou and Yugi's possible fates at the hands, or paws and claws, of the monsters replayed in his head. Malik remembered more clearly than he would like what had happened to Téa and Ishizu. Could Yugi and Ryou had found their death with the wild duel monsters that roamed the ruins of Domino city also?
Malik could see it so clearly as if it had happened. He could imagine the Duel Monsters coming to attack, Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl fighting to the last of their strength. The two loyal magic users were out numbered and over powered, fighting against the wild reckless beasts. With one last effort they, combine their magic to protect Yugi and Ryou. The duel monsters counterattack and soon Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl fall dead at their feet.
Yugi and Ryou are left without protection. The two humans run for their lives but the merciless beasts are faster. They are cornered, helpless, they are killed. Malik shook his head. That never happened, his imagination was betraying him, yet he couldn't get the images out of his head. How could it be that he could picture something that never happened so clearly? Was it another effect of living in the Shadow Realm? That is what the Earth had become, an extension of the Shadow Realm.
After what felt to Malik like an eternity, he saw a light coming from the next room. He breathed at last and relaxed a little. Duel Monsters didn't walk around with candles, so even if no words were spoken, the one holding the candle was a human, right? He was ready to complain about the joke Ryou and Yugi had just played on him, when the one with the candle came closer and Malik realized it was neither Ryou nor Yugi. Duel monsters did walk around with candles after all.
To Be Continued...
Shadow World: Realm II
"Ryou! Ryou!" Yugi kept calling out into the darkness that surrounded him. He didn't like being here, who would? Maybe Bakura? No, not even the tomb robber would feel comfortable in this much darkness, even if he claimed to be the darkness, he had proven otherwise when this mess started and he tried to help Yami.
"Yugi?" Yugi heard Ryou's voice and tried to follow it, but it seamed like the faintest sound had an echo in the darkness. The Shadow Realm was making his search much more difficult than it already was. Yugi listened carefully and tried to determine in what direction the echo started. Finally, he gave up on that as the voice sounded the same from all directions and took a guess. Fortunately, he was able to find Ryou, but unfortunately Ryou was not in a very good condition.
"Ryou!" The candle burned out just as Yugi spotted him. From what he could see before the candle burned out, there were small seeds all over Ryou. The strange small seeds were a reddish brown color and where covered in small needle like spikes. He saw small dots of blood in Ryou's arms. The seeds slowly dissolved into dust and were gone, but their effect on Ryou had already been made.
xoxox xox xoxox
Joey started hearing something as he walked. It was someone ordering a monster around. He tried to look into the distance, but the fog was too thick so he just kept walking, concentrating on that voice. It was a man and the voice was familiar, could it be?
xoxox xox xoxox
Malik stared at the figure in front of him, who was holding a candle out to him, as if he was supposed to take it. Malik took the candle and the duel monster walked away, back into the darkness of the next room. "Dark Magician, wait!" It looked like Dark Magician was okay, but where were Ryou and Yugi? "Where are they?"
Dark Magician simply shook his head as if saying no.
"I have to find them, see if you can cook this," Malik gave Dark Magician the unconscious, not yet dead, Kuriboh, and was about to go out when he heard the door being opened. "Who's there!"
"Malik? Ryou's hurt!" Yugi had brought Ryou, who was unconscious. Malik helped Yugi get Ryou to Yugi's old room and placed him on the bed.
The two boys looked at Ryou. The white haired boy teen looked like he was having trouble breathing. Yugi placed a hand on his forehead and quickly removed it as if he had been burned. "He has a really bad fever!"
"What happened to him?" Malik didn't take his eyes off Ryou.
"We were worried about you and I tried to stop him, but he said he was going to find you. I'm so sorry I couldn't stop him, he just ran off and I called him, but he wouldn't stop so I went after him and found him like this." Yugi hated himself for what had happened, he didn't want anyone else getting hurt and felt as if it was all his fault. "There were some little seeds all over him, they disappeared just before the candle I had burned out," Yugi explained. Those seeds looked familiar, but Yugi didn't remember where he saw them before. He had a feeling they weren't really seeds.
"What did the seeds look like?" Malik hoped there was a cure for whatever Ryou had. He had already lost his sister, Ishizu and his brother, Odion. Malik tried to keep his hopes up, their sacrifice would not be in vain, he had to survive and do something to fix this mess, but he didn't know what to do and it was so frustrating.
Malik felt like he was letting everyone down, even the siblings that would give their lives for him and he knew that Ishizu and Odion were not the only ones willing to do that. During his stay in the Game Shop, Malik, Ryou and Yugi had become very close friends and would without a doubt risk, and even give, their lives to save each other. Now Ryou was sick. Malik just couldn't take losing one more person in his life, there had to be a cure.
"The seeds were small, reddish brown, with spikes like needles and they looked familiar, I think I've seen something like that before, but I can't remember where." Even if Yugi tried not to show it, he was scared for Ryou. He felt guilty that this had happened. If only he caught up to Ryou sooner, if only he comforted him and convinced him to stay and wait.
"Try to remember, Yugi! This may be important to make him better." Malik didn't mean to sound as angry as he did, it just came out that way. He didn't blame Yugi for anything; he was just upset about the entire situation.
"I know, I'm trying," Yugi was trying to remember and at the same time trying not to cry. So many lives had ended. So many friends were lost; he didn't want to lose anyone else. He couldn't stop a tear from rolling down his face, but managed to hold back the many that followed.
Even if it was dark and Yugi wasn't crying too much, Malik noticed. "Yugi, I'm sorry, it's not your fault, I didn't mean to yell."
Yugi didn't answered he just stared at the floor in a trance and let the tears fall freely. Yugi's life flashed before his eyes, as if he had died, he felt so horrible he might as well. Everything from the day he met each of his friends, to Duelist Kingdom, to Battle City. Wait, Duelist Kingdom? Suddenly he was remembering his duel with Seto Kaiba right before the Duelist Kingdom finals. Yes, that card he used; that virus, that's what the seeds looked like! "Crush Card Virus!"
"What?" Malik looking at Yugi with confusion.
"I remember where I saw them, they weren't seeds, they were some kind of germs and they looked like the Crush Card Virus, it's a card Kaiba used in a duel against me in the Duelist Kingdom tournament," Yugi explained.
"So Kaiba could be behind this? He did lock us out of his castle and while he's in there safe from everything and has plenty of supplies, we're out here starving in the middle of danger," Malik looked angry now.
It was true Seto has shown no intention of helping. In fact, it was almost as if he knew everything would come to this, judging by the way he prepared. When the Shadow Realm started to take over, no one imagined that things would get this hard, but Seto Kaiba prepared as if he knew.
Yugi shook his head. "No, Kaiba wouldn't do this, he may not help us, but he wouldn't attack us for no reason and he doesn't have a reason to want anything bad to happened to us. Kaiba just doesn't want to share. I don't think he can control viruses. Think about it, I had traps and magic cards in my deck, but I could only call the monster cards and now all I have left are Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl. I don't think Kaiba did this, he probably doesn't even know about this," Yugi concluded.
Malik sighed. "Yeah, you're right, he wouldn't." Malik was still a little suspicious of Seto, but he didn't speak of the matter, there were more important things to discuss right now. "What did this virus did in Duel Monsters?"
"I could only play my weakest monsters, but I don't know what effect it may have in humans." After Yugi said this, once again the room remained silent.
The silence went on until an unknown male voice was heard. "I know what's going on."
xoxox xox xoxox
Mai and Mako were riding Mai's Harpy's Pet Dragon to the island Mako spoke of. "How much longer until we get there?" Mai asked.
"Not too long!" Mako wasn't sure if they were almost there or not, he couldn't measure distance as easily in the air as he could at sea, he hoped they could land safely soon.
The wind picked up at an amazing speed and it was getting very difficult for Harpy's Pet Dragon to fly, at least the other flying monsters had given up and stopped following, but somehow that worried them even more. Riding Mako's Legendary Fisherman was out of the question. The ocean was having a storm unlike any other. This storm looked even stronger than the one that took his father.
The waves were high and strong, crashing against the ocean violently. Watching this brought back many memories to Mako. He remembered how frightened he was as a child and he had to admit that even now the storm scared him. Getting a little distracted by his memories Mako slipped and almost fell off the dragon, but he managed to grab on to its tail. Mai was holding on for dear life to the dragon's neck almost choking her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Far away, Joey had managed to find someone, "Tristan."
Tristan looked at him and gave him an evil glare. "Attack!" He sent his only monster, Garoozis to Joey.
"Red Eyes Black Dragon!" Joey called out. "Blast that thing back to the real Shadow Realm!" Soon the dragon let out a massive fire ball that destroyed Garoozis.
Tristan glared at Joey and his dragon and made a run for it. He headed for his underground hide out where Serenity was locked.
"Come back here coward!" Joey couldn't believe this used to be his best friend. What had he done with Serenity? It was as if Tristan was an entirely different person.
Joey chased after Tristan but Red Eyes Black Dragon was too big to enter the cave where Tristan ran to. That cave led to the underground dungeon where Tristan always hid from the monsters, also where Serenity was trapped. The Flame Swordsman could go inside easily since he was about the same size as a normal human. "Flame Swordsman, let's go!"
The Flame Swordsman came from the shadows that surrounded the Earth at Joey's call and followed him, while the Red Eyes Black Dragon flew up into the dark sky and disappeared. The Red Eyes Black Dragon would stay in the shadows until he was called again.
Joey continued to chase Tristan inside the dungeon. It was dark but the, Flame Swordsman's sword glowed with fire, lighting the way. Tristan didn't even look back as he ran. They ran until they reached the room where Serenity was locked. By now Joey knew that Tristan was not the same. The Shadow Realm had brainwashed him and he was nothing like he was before.
Tristan quickly unlocked the room and ran to take Serenity hostage. However, the Flame Swordsman was faster than he thought. With a quick movement the Flame Swordsman jumped over them, landing in front of Tristan, between him and Serenity.
"Joey!" Serenity got up and ran to hug her brother. He gasped in horror when he didn't recognize her at first. She looked like she has not eaten anything in days; she was very pale and weak. She had a few cuts here and there, the biggest one on her left arm, where she had a piece of cloth tied to it with dried up blood stains. Her hair was a shorter, barely reaching her shoulders, and uneven, as if it had been burned rather than cut.
"Serenity?" Joey asked as if he wasn't sure that this was his sister, as if he didn't want this to be his sister. No, not this girl that looked like she had suffered greatly. This couldn't be his sister, this just couldn't be Serenity. Joey remembered the times before the Shadow Realm came.
Serenity had always been so full of life. She was always the one to cheer him up no matter what. That girl Joey remembered always smiled, the only time when Joey had seen his sister truly sad, was when they were separated years ago. After that, when they talked over the phone, Serenity always tried to sound cheerful. Just listening to her made him happy. She didn't deserve to go through any of this. Why Serenity? Why his little sister? She never hurt anyone; she never did anything to deserve being treated this way.
"Yes, it's me, brother," when Serenity spoke, the realty sunk in for Joey. He wanted to know what happened and make the one who hurt her pay. At the same time, he didn't want to know, he feared he couldn't handle knowing his sister had suffered so much pain. He knew she was hurt, but what about the wounds he couldn't see? Even now he could see the fear in her eyes, as if she could never be at peace again, as if whatever happened would torment her forever. The truth was no one could really ever be at peace, not with the Shadow Realm like this.
Joey woke up for his thoughts and glared at Tristan. His ex-friend, the one he used to trust. No, this wasn't Tristan, this was a traitor. "Kill him," Joey ordered, not even looking at the Flame Swordsman. The traitor would pay with his life; he would die, burned by the Flame Swordsman's sword.
The Flame Swordsman raised his blade above Tristan's head. He slowly moved it to the side and prepared to decapitate Tristan, waiting for the moment when Joey gave his final order. Tristan's mind was freed by the shadow spirit at that very moment, the darkness had no use for one that was about to die.
The dark spirit came out from the vessel not realizing that the Flame Swordsman could sense it, despite it trying to make itself invisible. The dark spirit was destroyed by the burning sword in one swift impact, then the Flame Swordsman returned to his position with his blade near Tristan's neck.
Tristan blinked a few times, until everything around him came to focus. What was going on? The last thing he remembered was waiting for Joey, Serenity was there and then... The memories slowly flooded his mind and flashbacks of what he had done replayed in his head. Had he truly hurt Serenity so badly? The Shadow Realm had taken over his mind. He knew now he was being controlled by the darkness.
Tristan watched the scenes play over and over in his mind, as if he was in a trance. He could hear the distant echo of Serenity's voice telling him that she wanted the real Tristan to come back. He remembered the dark spirit saying that he was the real Tristan. He wasn't there for her when she needed him the most. He promised the one who used to be his best friend that he would protect Serenity, yet it was because of him that she was hurt. It was because of him she nearly died.
He failed to protect Serenity and instead hurt her. "Forgive me..." Tristan whispered looking at the floor and closed his eyes to await Flame Swordsman's fire blade.
Tristan didn't want to live anymore. He didn't think he deserved to live, he wanted to die. That would be better than standing there in front of the girl he loved. He failed and he just couldn't stand the memories of what he did while he was under the Shadow Realm's control. Even if it was the Shadow Realm controlling his vessel, Trsitan blamed himself because he wasn't able to push the dark spirit out of his mind.
As Flame Swordsman was about to strike, Serenity let go of Joey and grabbed the Flame Swordsman's arm. "No, don't kill him!"
Joey pulled her away. "He hurt you, Serenity. He's a traitor, he caused you all this pain!"
Tristan looked up, "I deserve to die."
Serenity looked at Tristan, then at the Flame Swordsman and finally at Joey. "No, it wasn't him. He didn't hurt me, it was the Shadow Realm! The Shadow Realm took over his mind and controlled him!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Yugi and Malik looked at the one who spoke. "Dark Magician!" The both exclaimed in surprise. Up until now, the duel monsters had not said anything. The duelists just called whatever monsters they had to help them and the monsters would listen. No one could figure out how to control trap and magic cards, and no one knew what happened to Ra, Obelisk and Slifer, since they had mysteriously disappeared from Yugi's deck right before the Shadow Realm took over.
Sometimes Yugi, Ryou and Malik would sit around in what was left of the Game Shop talking just to pass the time away, always in whispers, just in case. Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl were there, but they never said anything. Now Ryou and Malik's monsters had been lost to the Shadow Realm in one way or another and only Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl remained from Yugi's deck.
"Yes, I was once human in Ancient Egypt, so don't be too surprised that I can speak," Dark Magician revealed.
"I'm not surprised you can speak. I'm surprised you didn't say anything before. Why didn't you say something?" Yugi asked.
"I didn't have anything of importance to say," Dark Magician simply explained. "Now I do. About Ryou, he has a very powerful virus that will affect everything vital. His heartbeats will slow down, the oxygen will be consumed faster, his natural defenses will be affected, everything. In this state he might not last long unless we cure him."
"Cure him Darky!" Yugi requested as if it was that simple. He knew it wouldn't be that easy, but he hoped that it was at least possible.
"Darky?" Malik repeated. "I knew you had a nickname for your duel monsters, but you called him Darky?"
"Makes sense," Yugi looked at Darky. "Cure him, you can cure him right?"
Dark Magician was silent. Yugi and Malik looked at each other then at Ryou. Finally Dark Magician spoke, "no, but I know who can, unfortunately I don't know if she is still alive."
xoxox xox xoxox
Joey still insisted on killing the traitor and Serenity remained firm in that it wasn't his fault. Tristan was so disappointed and felt so bad for hurting Serenity, that he didn't care to live anymore. It was true that the Shadow Realm made him do things he would never do on his own free will, but he didn't have the strength to fight it off.
The Shadow Realm had not taken over Joey's mind so why Tristan's? Why couldn't he resist the shadows like Joey did? He let Serenity down and instead of protecting her, he hurt her and for that he would never forgive himself. "Just end it..." Tristan refused to make eye contact with Joey or Serenity.
"I will," Joey started. "Flame Swordsman-"
"No!" Serenity stood in front of Tristan and wouldn't move out of the way. "Please Joey; please let him go, do it for me. If you care about your little sister at all, don't kill him, please!" She started crying, she was really scared before, but even more now. She didn't want Joey to fall into the darkness too.
"I won't kill him," Joey finally agreed. "Thank you Flame Swordsman, I'll call you again when I need your help." The Flame Swordsman nodded and disappeared, back into the shadows.
"Thank you big bother," Serenity was relived.
"Let's get out of here sis," Joey looked back at Tristan. "You too, I know it was the Shadow Realm and not you."
"I'm still beyond forgiveness," Tristan didn't move.
"Then come back with us and earn it, or do you not care to earn it?" Joey replied. Tristan finally looked at him and nodded.
The three left the underground dungeon place and walked back to the surface. It had been a while since Serenity had seen the outside world and she didn't like it, it was worse than she remembered. It was very hard to see in the dark fog. Joey called the Red Eyes Black Dragon to carry them and the Flame Swordsman to light the way. They were going to Domino city.
With the light created by the Flame Swordsman's fire sword Serenity could see the Earth a little more clearly, yet she didn't recognize anything. Not in the sense of being in a strange city, but she didn't feel like she was in a city at all. Everything was in ruins and there were no people to be seen anywhere. They saw a few duel monsters fighting with each other, but no people at all. They wondered if there was anyone left. If there were any humans, left they must be well hidden, probably underground.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Game Shop, Yugi and Malik awaited Dark Magician's explanation. "Who is she?" Malik asked.
"Mystical Elf," Dark Magician replied.
"But I haven't seen her," Yugi recalled. "She was in my deck before, but when the Shadow Realm came, she just disappeared and so did Ra, Obelisk and Slifer."
"She couldn't have just disappeared, she wasn't like the other three," Dark Magician reasoned. "She must be somewhere else, we just need to find her or find someone who can tell us where she is."
Dark Magician Girl came in. "We have a visitor," she announced.
To their surprise Espa Roba was there. Yugi didn't know him well, but he had heard about him from Joey. Either way, any human was welcomed there; very few people were left anyway.
It turned out that Espa had been wondering around the city when he came to the Game Shop. The duel monsters had captured his brothers and destroyed must of his monsters, except Ginzo, who soon came upstairs also following Espa. He protected him, even when Espa stopped caring about surviving after his brothers were captured by the monsters; they were probably dead by now anyway.
"Espa, you're welcome to stay here with us if you want," Yugi offered.
"Than you, but I don't want to be a bother. I should go now, I was just passing by. Please let Ginzo stay with you, I'm sure he'll be able to help." After Battle City, Espa had found another Ginzo card and that was the only monster he had left from his entire deck.
"Ginzo, can tell us where Mythical Elf is?" Dark Magician asked. Ginzo nodded and showed them a psychic mental picture. They all saw it; Mythical Elf was at Dragon Castle.
"We have to find a way into Dragon Castle," Malik concluded.
Not too far the Game Shop, there was a large castle with a statue of a Blue Eyes White Dragon on the tallest tower. Seto Kaiba had ordered the construction of that castle where Kaiba Land used to be, when he noticed the Shadow Realm had started to take over. Some said he knew all along about the Shadow Realm and was the only person who was truly prepared. He knew it was going to be more than just a strange storm, as everyone thought at the time. Seto was already prepared by the time things got worse.
xoxox xox xoxox
The storm over the sea seamed to become calmer and Mai saw an island ahead. Mako was holding on the dragon's tail still. "Mako! Is that the island?" Mai looked behind her, where she thought Mako was still sitting. "Mako? Oh great, he fell and drowned," she complained with more anger than sadness, she did not have enough patience left for sadness.
"I'm fine!" Came Mako's voice, "I'm on the tail!"
"Everyone rides a dragon in whatever way they like I guess, but tell me, is that the island?" Mai asked again.
Mako looked ahead. "It must be!" Finally, they were close to their destination and would land soon.
They were heading to the island when out of no where, a bat came and tried to bite Mai. She screamed and tried to slap it away.
"Mai?" Mako looked up, trying to see what was happening, but he couldn't see Mai from the dragon's tail. "Mai, what's going on?"
"Bat!" Mai yelled back. It was strange, there weren't supposed to be any bats in that area. Birds maybe, then again, the Shadow Realm killed most living creatures, so birds would be a strange thing to find too.
The bat gave up trying to bite her and instead bit Harpy's Pet Dragon. The dragon roared and started flying wildly. Mai had to hang on, almost chocking her again, and Mako was sure he would fall if this didn't stop.
"Tell her to stop!" Mako battled not to fall, but Harpy's Pet Dragon looked like she wanted to shake them both off.
"The bat bit her!" Mai thought it was very strange for a bat bite to cause a big strong dragon to act this way. Harpy's Pet Dragon changed the direction of her flight and instead headed away from the island. Up ahead there was a floating Dark Castle. She shook Mako off her tail and he fell to the ocean. Mai and Harpy's Pet Dragon crashed into the Dark Castle.
xoxox xox xoxox
Mai had no idea what happened. The last thing she remembered she was screaming at the top of her lungs when she realized they were going to crash into the Dark Castle. Now she was waking up in a strange room. Someone had put her in a bed and left her there.
Mai got up and looked around. It looked like there was a lot of black there, but what else could to be expected from a Dark Castle. The walls were painted black and the floor was covered by fuzzy black carpets. There were few windows, but it's not like there was much to look at out there anyway, just the darkness of the Shadow Realm.
Mai picked up a candle that was on a small table next to the bed and walked to the window. The glass window was framed in silver and was opened, letting a light breeze into the room. She tried to figure out where she was, but the island she saw was her only way to tell how far she had gone and she couldn't see it from here. Maybe it was on the other side of the castle.
"Harpy's Pet Dragon, come to me now!" Mai called out the window but received no answer. Instead she felt a pain in her heart, as if she had suffered a loss. "No," the thought crossed her mind that her dragon might be gone, but that just didn't make sense, yet the scene she put up with the bat didn't make sense either. "Harpy's Pet Dragon!" Mai had no choice but to accept the truth when her dragon didn't come. How was it that her dragon died? Was it the crash with the Dark Castle that killed her or was there more to that bat?
Slowly, Mai walked over to the bed, placed the candle back on the table and lay down. She looked at the ceiling where there was a silver chandelier with candles. She felt water running down her face and thought she better stop staring at the candles in the chandelier, because it was making her eyes water, but it did not stop, even after she sat up and stared at the floor.
She was still sitting there crying when she heard someone knocking on the door. She stared at it for a few seconds, not knowing what to expect and decided it was best to be prepared. So she picked up a base, that was also black, and stood next to the door.
"Come in," the door opened and Mai threw the base at the one who opened the door, hitting him on the head. The man tried to regain his balance but he was too dizzy and fell on the floor. Mai poked him, wondering if he was dead, but a hit on the head doesn't kill someone unless it's really hard and that base that was now in a million pieces, but that wasn't hard enough, right? Mai shook her head and decided it was best not to think about it, then poked the strange man again.
Mai took a step back when he opened his eyes, but he didn't move. "Why did you do that?" He was still on the floor.
Mai blinked, now she felt like an idiot, why did she do that? If this guy wanted to hurt her, wouldn't he have already done it? "I'm sorry," she extended her hand to help him up.
"It's okay," as he smiled at her, she screamed and grabbed the nearest solid object, another black base, when she saw his long sharp looking fangs.
He backed away until he was up against the wall. "Calm down lady. Don't hit me again," he tried to sound as friendly as possible.
"You're a vampire!" Mai sounded like she was accusing him of a terrible crime.
"Yes I am, my name is Varon," he reminded himself not to smile again. "I was a human once."
xoxox xox xoxox
Yugi and Malik had decided to journey to Dragon Castle and do whatever they could to find Mythical Elf to cure Ryou of the virus that threatened to take his life. At the same time, they would watch out for other viruses that could possibly attack them and of course, hungry monsters.
They were both hungry so they headed downstairs to eat before the journey, leaving Dark Magician taking care of Ryou, who was in what used to be Yugi's room. They had managed to convince Espa to stay at the Game Shop with Ginzo and everyone. All of them lost people whom they cared for, but those people wouldn't want them to give up.
Dark Magician Girl had taken the task to prepare and cook the food that Malik brought, the unconscious Kuriboh. However she did not want to feed the hikaris something that might make them sick, so the first thing she did was try to clean the Kuriboh, but it woke up.
Dark Magician Girl reached for her staff, but the little Kuriboh just looked at her sadly. "It's okay," Dark Magician Girl put her staff down and smiled at the Kuriboh.
"Poo!" The Kuriboh jumped on her and hugged her happily.
"You didn't explode," Dark Magician Girl was surprised.
"Poo! Poo!" The little Kuriboh told her the story.
"Ah, so you can't explode and the others are mean to you. Don't worry; you're one of us now." Dark Magician Girl tried to think of a name for the Kuriboh. "I shall call you Plushie!"
"Darky Girl!" She heard Yugi calling and ran to him with the Kuriboh in her arms.
"Yes?" Dark Magician Girl voiced as she entered the room.
"Did you take the... Kuriboh! It's alive!" Yugi exclaimed.
"Do something before it explodes!" Malik urged.
All of this scared Plushie. "It's okay Plushie," Dark Magician Girl gently petted the Kuriboh. "No one will hurt you."
"Plushie?" Yugi and Malik said in unison, as they looked at each other silently asking if the other knew what this was about.
The confused looks confirmed that they had no idea what Dark Magician Girl was talking about, so she explained. "This is Plushie, that's what I named him. He can't explode so the other Kuriboh were mean to him." Obviously the meal was canceled, not that either Yugi or Malik were looking forward to finding out how Kuriboh tasted.
Yugi and Malik got their candles, as they were out of batteries for the flashlights, prepared to go on their way to Dragon Castle. "Stay here, Malik," Yugi requested.
"What?" Malik was not expecting this. Why did Yugi suddenly want him to stay? Did he think he had a better chance of hiding from the wild duel monsters and getting to Dragon Castle alive if he was alone?
"I just... I need to do this by myself, okay? Just go back, there's no need for both of us to go." Yugi hoped that Malik wouldn't ask him what he meant by that. He just had a bad feeling about going to Dragon Castle, but he knew he had to go to help Ryou and there was no sense in putting both their lives in danger.
"Yugi, what is getting you so worried?" Malik noticed appeared to be thinking of an excuse. "Do you think Kaiba will turn against us for some reason? Is that it?" Malik looked at Yugi for a few seconds and waited for an answer.
Yugi really couldn't explain to Malik how he felt right now. He just somehow knew that there was something wrong, something very wrong. "I don't think he would... I just... don't... I..." There was a moment of silence. The two boys looked at each other, as if trying to guess what the other was thinking. They never thought that simple survival would be so hard and that they and Ryou would need to help each other to accomplish it. Many memories came back to them while lost in thought.
"Meow!" They were taken out of their thoughts by the sound of Mr. Fluffy's meowing. Malik's cat had followed them there.
Now that the silence was broken Yugi spoke. "Just trust me, please."
Malik sighed and gave up, just for this once. Obviously Yugi wasn't going to change his mind about this. "Alright, but take my cat with you. Cats can sense duel monsters and I think he knows the way to the Dragon Castle too," Malik patted Mr. Fluffy. "Good boy, stay near Yugi and take him to Dragon Castle," Malik thought for a moment, "take him to that cat you like." This way Mr. Fluffy understood and walked towards Yugi, meowed at him, then continued towards the exit of the Game Shop.
"I'll be back as soon as I can!" Yugi ran after Mr. Fluffy.
xoxox xox xoxox
Mako had reached the island he and Mai were heading to. He called the Legendary Fisherman after he fell from Harpy's Pet Dragon's tail and the fisherman caught him. The swim to the island didn't take long. Mai didn't fall, or at least Mako didn't see her fall. He wondered where she was now and if the dragon calmed down after a while or... He didn't want to think about that other possibility.
"My dragon, is she..." Mai started, but she didn't feel like ending her question.
"I'm afraid so," Varon knew what she was referring to, "I'm sorry."
Mai tried to push away the sadness. "Never mind, I'm Mai Valentine. You said you were a human once, what do you mean?"
"I was bitten by a vampire girl, actually she was a duel monster but I defeated her, even if it was a little too late," Varon explained. "My friends and I found this castle and came to live here, it's better than out there, believe me."
"I know; I've been there. I come from Domino city and I've been searching for a place to live where there aren't any monsters trying to bite my head off all the time. What of those strange bats around here? Are those duel monsters too?" Mai asked.
"Yes, I think so. There are many strange bats around this area, but they never actually come inside the Dark Castle so you're safe here. There are also plenty of supplies to go around and we've trained several duel monsters to go out and look for anything we may need. You're welcome to stay," Varon smiled, forgetting about his fangs.
This was what Mai was searching for, a safe place with no duel monsters trying to eat her alive. A place where she could, for once in a long time, relax. Then why didn't she feel happy or even relieved now that she found such a place? Was it the less than friendly atmosphere? Even if the Dark Castle itself wasn't very inviting, Varon appeared to be nice enough, but there was something missing.
Mai started to understand why those sailors returned after finding that island. This wasn't the same without her friends. She could make new friends now; she could have people around her to keep her company. It wasn't that she would be all alone. It was that she missed her friends and no one could replace them. She specially missed Joey, more than she would ever admit.
xoxox xox xoxox
Yugi headed to Dragon Castle following Mr. Fluffy. It was a good thing the cat appeared to know the way, because Domino City had changed so much, that Yugi wasn't sure which way Dragon Castle was. Everything was so dark Yugi could hardly see. He just kept walking following the cat's green glowing eyes.
Suddenly, Mr. Fluffy hissed and hurried to hide in the ruins of a near by house. Yugi quickly followed, wondering what had scared the cat. He watched from the hiding place as an Alligator Sword walked by, looking for anything alive to hunt. Yugi stayed hidden until it was gone. Mr. Fluffy made his way in the ruins until he jumped out what used to be a window.
Yugi followed, feeling hopeless, sure he knew his purpose now was to find the Mythical Elf and bring her back to Ryou so she could heal him, but what then? Even if Ryou did recover, it wasn't like any of them had anything good to look forward to. Their world was dieing and they didn't even know why it began or how to end it.
As he continued his trip following the cat, Yugi remembered the better times when this city was so full of life. All those times when he and Yami had dueled on behalf of the world and this is what it all came down to. What was it that went wrong? Would he ever know? Did it even matter?
After what felt like an eternity, Yugi and Mr. Fluffy finally arrived at Dragon Castle. The tall walls stood there as if assuring Yugi that there was no way he could get in. He didn't bring any monsters and he wasn't planning to call Dark Magician or Dark Magician Girl, though they could come to him instantly since he was their master.
There was no use in fighting anyway, it just caused the wild monsters to call for reinforcements and in the end the situation would be much worse than it would be just trying to run away. Yugi and Mr. Fluffy circled the large castle a few times looking for an entrance or a way of communication with the inside, anything. After finding nothing, it seamed that ever contacting Seto to ask about the Mythical Elf was impossible.
Yugi turned around to leave. He wasn't the kind to give up, but this was over. He lost and he had to admit it. Just as he started to walk away, Mr. Fluffy started meowing and hissing. Yugi turned and saw a pair of red eyes glaring at him. The creature came closer and Yugi noticed it was a Battle Ox. Wasn't that one of Seto's monsters? Yugi stood there motionless, unsure if the creature would attack. The Battle Ox swung his axe at Yugi and then it all went dark.
xoxox xox xoxox
As Mako explored the monster free island, he learned that it wasn't such a great place as he thought. There seemed to be a strange sickness in this island, possibly the result of some kind of virus that killed humans and duel monsters alike. Maybe this place was better when he heard about it, but by the time he got there, it was not worth the trip. "I was foolish to think I could find a peaceful prosper place in this dieing world."
Knowing that staying there wouldn't do him any good, Mako decided to set off again. He called the legendary fisherman and hopped on the shark that carried him. "Let's go somewhere else, somewhere far away, anywhere." The fisherman nodded and soon they were off. It didn't matter where they went, it didn't matter if they just wondered endlessly in the ocean; nothing really mattered anymore.
xoxox xox xoxox
Yugi slowly woke up to find himself in what looked like a dungeon. By his headache and the large bump on his head, it was obvious that the Battle Ox knocked him unconscious with the blunt side of his axe. Outside the cell there stood Seto Kaiba. "So you finally wake up Yugi, I was stating to think you were dead," he grinned evilly.
Yugi blinked a few times to get his blurry vision to clear up and stared. "Kaiba, you... Why?"
Seto ignored his question. "We'll have a duel, we'll duel tomorrow, even if the cards are just pieces of paper now," he started to leave.
Yugi quickly stood up despite the pain that indicated that he must have been dragged there and thrown into the cell. "Kaiba, I can't wait that long, I need to take the Mythical Elf with me!" Seto continued walking down the hall. The metal walls on the dungeon reflected the dim light of the torches around it. "Kaiba! Ryou will die if he isn't healed by Mythical Elf!"
Seto stopped and looked at Yugi for a moment. "That is none of my concern," then he left.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Game Shop, Malik placed a cloth with cold water on Ryou's forehead in a useless effort to lower his persistent fever. He was getting worse by the second and there was no sign of Yugi or Mythical Elf, not even of Mr. Fluffy. Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl and Plushie, the Kuriboh, were downstairs. Malik told them to go and keep a look out for Yugi when he returned.
Malik sighed and sat on the end of the bed. Ryou's eyes were closed, but he could easily notice the expression of terror in his face. He was having a nightmare.
xoxox xox xoxox
In his dream, Ryou was in a dark cold place. "Come hikari," a voice called in the distance. Ryou looked around and found no one, yet the voice was so familiar. "This way, hikari."
"Bakura, is that you?" Ryou started running in the direction he thought the voice came from, but he felt like he wasn't moving. His surroundings were always the same, as if he didn't move an inch. There was darkness everywhere, Ryou wasn't even sure he was standing on anything, there was just darkness and emptiness.
"I'm here hikari," Ryou knew for sure it was Bakura, so he ran faster now and soon began to see something up ahead in the darkness. It was someone that looked like Bakura, but he wasn't sure. He looked a little older than Bakura, but not by much, his skin was tan and his eyes were purple. His hair was white just like Bakura's.
Although even if he looked different, his presence felt like Bakura's. "Bakura?" Ryou asked uncertain.
"Yes," Bakura confirmed. Ryou stared in shock and as soon as he got over the surprise, he quickly tried to remove the chains that kept Bakura from moving. Yes, he was Bakura even if he looked different, but it was him. The chains were not attached to anything, but they seamed to hold Bakura in place quite well. "Don't bother, Ryou."
"No, I won't leave you here!" With this statement, the question came. Where was here? Ryou tried hard to remember. The seeds! He passed out and the last thing he remembered was darkness and voices in the distance. He must have been unconscious and now dead? "We're dead, aren't we?" Ryou didn't stop his efforts to free Bakura.
"I'm a yami, I wasn't alive," Bakura stated as a matter of fact. "You are not dead,"
Ryou looked at him, for a moment taking his attention off the chains. "Then why am I here?"
There was a moment of silence as Bakura thought about it, "because you're not awake."
In his dream, Ryou stayed with Bakura, sitting beside him in silence having given up on the chains. He waited to wake up or to die whatever came. "How is it that I'm here simply because I'm not awake?"
"The shadows have advanced; they haunt human minds when they're unconscious. Normally, when you sleep, there are nightmares, but since you're so close to death, instead you were brought here. Your spirit is still connected to mine and mine was taken by the darkness." Ryou wasn't sure he understood what Bakura explained.
From what the hikari could interpret, the Shadow Realm was taking over everyone's mind slowly. They were doing a lot more than they realized to survive. But people needed to rest and sleep, what then if being asleep weakened their defenses? Ryou realized that the nightmares he, Yugi and Malik had, were more than just nightmares. Was the end of humanity really coming? Was this truly the inevitable end?
Again Ryou sat in silence, the darkness around them seamed to change colors like strange smoke. There was black, dark grey and a little bit of dark purple. The colors melted into each other in an endless fog of darkness. Dark purple, black, dark gray, they looked really strange when Ryou stared at them. Every thing was so endless and empty. It was dark gray, black and dark purple, slowly moving in the endless shadows. There was dark purple, dark gray and black, mostly black. Ryou couldn't stop looking at the distance.
"Don't do that," Ryou jumped when he heard Bakura's voice.
"Don't do what?" The hikari inquired.
"Don't stare into the distance for too long or you'll go insane," Bakura warned. Ryou blinked, he looked at the darkness one last time, then back at Bakura. "Trust me, the shadows are out there. If you stare at them too much, they'll hypnotize you, they'll invade your mind faster. You'll be looking around, thinking that something's going to jump on you any second. All you'll know is fear and nothing will come. Then you'll start to wish that something would just jump out of the shadows and bite your head off so you're put out of your misery. Constant fear and panic are not the best things to feel for eternity, if you've been scared before, believe me that was nothing."
Ryou felt a cold chill as Bakura's words sunk in. He did feel fear when staring into the darkness, but he couldn't stop. "Did that happen to you?"
"I'm feeling better now that you're here," Bakura admitted, "but at the same time I wish you were not, because being here means something bad for you."
xoxox xox xoxox
Another day came, not that it could be distinguished as a day, but a considerable amount of time passed, so Seto had decided that it was the next day and the day of his duel with Yugi. He ordered the Battle Ox to bring the prisoner. When Battle Ox didn't arrive with Yugi, he went to check what was wrong and found Battle Ox searching the castle on his way to the dungeon. Seto rushed to the dungeon arrived at Yugi's empty cell.
Yugi was lost in thought in his cell. How could Kaiba do this? There was something strange about him; something was out of place. But Yugi wasn't sure what was out of place, where it belonged and what was there before. He never knew too much about Seto Kaiba, but he did know more then most thought.
"Yugi," Yugi tried to find to source of the sudden voice that broke the ever present silence and got him out of his thoughts.
"Mokuba?" Yugi was surprised but happy to see him.
"My brother is in danger. Something's happening to him, I think it has something to do with the Shadow Realm. I'll let you out," Mokuba used the key he stole from his brother's room to open the cell. He also opened the cell that held Mythical Elf. "My brother is sleeping now; you have to leave before he wakes up. The cat that was with you earlier is waiting at the door."
Seto glared at the Battle Ox who had followed him. "Idiot, Yugi escaped, you let him escape!" Seto raised his hand as a black orb of dark light began to form; he threw it at the duel monster making Battle Ox disappear. "Useless duel monster," still many questions remained. Where was Yugi now? What about... Mythical Elf! Seto rushed to a different part of the dungeon, Mythical Elf was not in her cell.
xoxox xox xoxox
"I'm back!" Yugi called out as he entered the Game Shop.
Malik ran down stairs and saw Mythical Elf was with Yugi. "You found her!"
"Now Ryou will have to recover," Yugi couldn't wait to see his friend wake up. They went back to Yugi's room where Ryou was.
"I will do my best" Mythical Elf started casting a spell that sounded like a heavenly song in an unknown language.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Bakura, do you hear that?" Ryou asked.
"Hear what?" Bakura looked at Ryou, who seemed to be staring at something in the distance. "Remember not to stare at the darkness," he warned.
Ryou shook his head, "not the darkness, the light. Don't you see it? Up ahead there's a bright light, it changes from white, to silver, to light blue. It's coming closer and there's a song coming from it. I don't understand the words, but it's a very beautiful song. Don't you hear that voice? It's so peaceful."
"I can't see that light and I can't hear the song, but I do sense the presence of Mythical Elf. She must be casting a spell on your body to heal your vessel and bring you back," Bakura realized. "I guess it's goodbye again..."
Ryou turned around, ignoring the light and the song. "I won't leave you."
Bakura smiled at his hikari, something that took Ryou by surprise. "You need to go, I'm glad you're going to survive, being in this place isn't good for you."
The light came closer and Ryou looked at it. The light appeared to form a tunnel and at the other side he saw his vessel and a Mythical Elf singing that strange spell. Yugi Moto, Malik Ishtar and Espa Roba were looking at him for any signs of life. Ginzo, Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl were also there and she was holding a Kuriboh, even Mr. Fluffy was watching expectantly. His friends were worried and wanted him to return, but Ryou couldn't leave Bakura. "I'll stay with you."
"Just go, there's nothing you can do here, go!" Bakura knew Mythical Elf couldn't keep the spell going forever. "Go hikari, there's nothing you can do here."
Ryou understood, "you're right, it's clear I can't break the chains from here, I'll go, but only to find a way to get out of here!" Ryou hugged the one that used to be his yami, then jumped into the light.
Ryou heard the song's echo all around him, until the bright light turned to darkness. He slowly opened his eyes, he was finally awake and completely healed from the virus. Time passed slowly from that moment on. Things went back to the way they used to be for them, just trying to survive any way they could.
xoxox xox xoxox
Mai was getting tired of living in the Dark Castle. She got along with the others who lived there, Varon, Allester and Raphael. She could tolerate Dartz, even if his constant complaining of how evil humanity is and how the great Leviathan would come and save them got on her nerves occasionally, but she could tolerate him most of the time. Nevertheless, she still missed Joey. One day without warning, Mai disappeared; she flew away with the Harpy Ladies.
xoxox xox xoxox
The Legendary Fisherman had brought Mako back to where they started. "Why did you come here again?" The fire was out, but the land didn't look any better, it looked worse. Mako stared into the distance. "Domino city..."
xoxox xox xoxox
Though their adventures led them far, in the end they were all once more reunited in Domino City. The yamis remained captive in a space in-between the Shadow Realm and Earth, inside the closing gap. Yugi and his surviving friends once again stood together will small but undying hope. The answer awaited in Dragon Castle, for the darkness had taken Seto as its main vessel and he too fought to remember who he once was.
The end is only the beginning...
Disclaimer, I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh! Credits to Laria Kaiba for the character of Mr. Fluffy.