Categories > Anime/Manga > Yu-Gi-Oh! > When Everything was Real

When Everything was Real

by exdee 2 reviews

The maze in the Pharaoh's soul tests the strength of trespassers. Those with a pure purpose should find what they're looking for, and Dark Bakura's is the purest of all. Sealed in the Puzzle, he se...

Category: Yu-Gi-Oh! - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Ryou Bakura,Yami Bakura - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2006-01-01 - Updated: 2021-11-17 - 2560 words

1Insightful
Notes:
1. Written for the livejournal community Yu-Gi-Oh Extend, where people offer their drabbles as inspiration for longer stories. The indented bit at the beginning was written by Cheysulinight. It's set in the future, happening way after the rest of the events in this chapter.
2. This fic follows manga canon and begins in the Battle City arc, using chapters 237 and 277. It goes AU after that, completely ignoring the events of Yu-Gi-Oh R (as I haven't read that and don't want to babble about stuff I don't know about) and goes on to contain stuff from Egypt Arc, particularly chapters 294, 307, 319 and 320. It's also going to focus on the Bakurae. I can't help it!
3. This probably wouldn't have been written without my playing "Like a Stone"/ /by Audioslave and "One Man Army" by Our Lady Peace on near permanent repeat. Those songs were huge inspirations, capturing moods in the story perfectly.
4. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! was created by Kazuki Takahashi and belongs to a bunch of people who are not me. The title for the first chapter is a line from the song "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World. This work of fanfiction makes me no money and is not intended to infringe on the copyright of the above-mentioned works or to undermine the rights of those who own them.

- -

Chapter 1: On sleepless roads the sleepless go

They called him heartless. They called him cruel and cold and
selfish. Just because he decided to stay home instead of going with
them to the service. Why would he want to go to that pathetic little
service anyway? It was completely pointless.

But they didn't see it that way. They said it was to honour the one
they had lost. They said it was their last chance to say goodbye to
a good friend who had always been there for them. To a friend who
had always been there for him.

They couldn't understand why he didn't seem to care about what had
happened. He couldn't understand why they thought Ryou was gone
forever just because of something that didn't even feel real. He
couldn't understand why everyone was so upset; couldn't understand
why everyone wanted to say goodbye.

He didn't want to say goodbye. He saw no reason to. It didn't feel
real. So while everyone was at the church, saying their pointless
goodbyes, he was alone in the house, sitting on the sofa and staring
out the window. Waiting for Ryou to come home just like he promised he would.

Bakura was never one to believe things that weren't real.

---

---

The spirit of the Millennium Ring reeled as he landed on the stone floor and slammed into a wall - then he straightened, took a moment to orient himself, and inspected the wall.

He grinned faintly as he drew a finger along the grooves between the bricks, reflecting on the luck of it that Malik had said the loser of their dark game would 'disappear'. The spirit had disappeared from perception, so the conditions of the game were fulfilled - but he had not been lost in the darkness as Malik had surely intended, instead having anchored himself on the part of his soul that was sealed in the Millennium Puzzle. Now he was hidden from anyone who might want to bother him by being an enemy or an ally, and free to do what he most wanted to.

The grin hardened into an expression of businesslike intensity as the soul-splinter that had wandered the Puzzle reintegrated with the rest of him. One part of him learned from the other part's memory, and suddenly he knew the tricks for getting around the room of the Pharaoh's soul.

The walls of the room were solid and well constructed - impossible to break through - but that meant that the gaps between the bricks were at regular intervals and equally deep. Once he'd adjusted to the minuteness of those gaps, he used them to climb the walls with a fair amount of ease.

Pharaoh was certainly too regal and stupid to consider the value of taking things from this a perspective, the spirit thought as he inched along the walls. It was especially in this labyrinth, where gravity took a new direction at every other corner, to think that you saw things from all angles just by staying on the pathways and staircases.

Traps were easier to avoid from halfway up the wall, as most of them were on the walkways. Pharaoh played a paranoid game, however, and there were triggers to skirt even where he climbed.

But there were doors, too...

Behind a jutting staircase, the spirit of the Ring saw a tiny metal door and crawled to it. Pharaoh had probably never managed to find this little, hidden door. There were so many doors to his own self that he had never seen; so many pieces of himself /lost /... wouldn't it be nice to tear a little more from him?

The spirit shook his head to get rid of this lovely but distracting thought and tensed. He whipped his leg out in a kick at the doorknob, which popped off. By rights, he should have fallen from where he clung to the wall, but the gravity in the room of the Pharaoh's soul was forgiving of impossible movements.

The door swung slowly open - a claw shot out and crumbled a chunk of the staircase - the door swung slowly shut.

The spirit laughed, loudly and at length. Though he didn't care to be burdened with something that was a lot like physical sensation in the mind-world, at least it allowed him to have the satisfying, chest-bursting feeling of laughter. It seemed that Pharaoh was good enough to take himself apart for the amusement of his guest!

He moved on in good humour as he tested more more doors. He had been doing this for weeks - at least, his soul-splinter had - and had found nothing, but patience came to him easily. He was in his enemy's heart and closer than ever to victory, and after such a long battle he wasn't bothered by a few days.

Then, without warning, the room's atmosphere changed - it seemed that Pharaoh was aware of something. The spirit stopped, only his eyes moving as he looked for a hiding place.

Then he calmed himself and dropped lightly to the floor. The Pharaoh's awareness didn't seem to be focused on him. What had changed, then? He went to the source, letting the Ring's needles point him in the right direction.

Few traps opened beneath him as he sped along the walkways, and they were too late to catch him. It was lucky that being a spirit meant he made almost no impact on this place. Perhaps he should be grateful that the duel against the other Malik had allowed him to sever himself from his host body. If he'd been burdened with a connection to it, his spirit form would have had enough substance for Pharaoh to notice easily. (Having the other Malik keeping control of the Ring was out of the question, however. Well, Pharaoh would null that claim on the Ring when he beat the other Malik - since Pharaoh had managed to defeat the spirit of the Ring, anyone else couldn't be too hard to handle.)

He reached the source of the disturbance and slid behind a wall to watch what happened out of sight. It seemed that another intruder had entered the room! Of course, it was Yuugi, and Pharaoh probably wouldn't point any interesting pyrotechnics in his direction. The spirit decided to listen to what they had to say to each other anyway, just in case.

The first thing he heard had him readying himself for a fight - they spoke of a dark feeling coming from Pharaoh's room. The rest of his soul having entered the room must have been jarring enough to make them feel something. Fortunately, both seemed to ignore the feelings, going on to wonder at the fact that the room of the Pharaoh's soul was a maze instead.

The shape made sense to the spirit of the Ring. It was all a puzzle, after all, so either the pieces would fit or they wouldn't. For this mad king, it was natural that the pieces wouldn't fall together. It wouldn't happen yet, anyway. But soon...

And quite naturally, what they said next reminded him that he wasn't ready for what was coming. Their conversation about how hard it was to find the true door in the room of the Pharaoh's soul was not encouraging. That door hid his true power, and if he didn't find it in time, things would be far more difficult...

The Pharaoh and his host talked about the Battle City finals, and started some confident babbling. Pharaoh would be distracted by the semi-finals, meaning he wouldn't be able to afford paying attention to what was going on in the room of his soul. That was good ... but the spirit of the Ring couldn't focus on it, and stewed on the fact that he was facing his enemy (even if it was from a far away and around the corner) without having anything to show for his efforts. The face of his nemesis, ecstatic in contemplation of victory, ruined his patience.

The next time he saw the Pharaoh, he told himself, he would have what he wanted. He would be one with his power. He might even have his host body to return to, so that he would feel his stomach twisting and chest aching as he laughed without breath, watching the world being consumed. Perhaps he would be able to watch Pharaoh crumble, too, and then turn his back on the sight.

He returned to the parts of the room that remained unexplored, muttering to himself about the destruction he would bring to the world. He could hardly see as visions filled his eyes. He turned doorknobs in passing, uncaring about the useless things the open doors revealed and letting the monsters roar impotently as he walked past.

In dreaming and doing what he could to make the dream real, the spirit was behaving in the way he needed to. His intent was pure, and that was what the defences in the Pharaoh's heart measured. Confusion, doubt or weakness would have left him wandering in a trap of his own making, but he thought only of the power that he craved to be reunited with. Unity was the key to any puzzle, and this one responded by having the mind-maze straighten, as if the spirit's purpose was a blade that cut the walls away, until he found himself on a road.

This, at last, reached his conscious thoughts. He stopped walking and looked ahead.

In the room of the spirit of the Ring's soul there was also a road - there was only a road. When he released his control of his host's body, he walked this road. It helped him think. He didn't pay attention to the surrounding countryside, but knew the feeling of the road: good, solid dirt. In all his ages and eras, he had never reached the end of that road. He assumed that it had no end, that it reflected the loop made by the Millennium Ring.

It was too dark for him to see the end of this road, but the spirit knew that this was either the punishment for a trespasser in the Puzzle, or it was everything that he wanted. He ran to it.

He no longer remembered to feel the steps he took towards the door. It was habit to think within the boundaries of mortal sensations, but now he remembered the boundless senses he had once had and would regain soon. Cut off from his vessel, he was simply a spirit, made of pure power and purely himself. His last mortal urge was to laugh with satisfaction, but he did not.

It would not do, to open the door and laugh as he knelt in prayer.

He saw a floor of smooth stone that stirred memories of opulence in an ancient world. A tendril of blackness curled across the floor, widened slowly, and grew to become like a shroud of tar that obscured everything beneath it.

"The great god Zork..." He said it as if announcing an entrance - a warning to the world about what was to come.

"My servant," said Zork Necrophedious.

"Until the /end/."

"In all these trapped years, I have thought of nothing," Zork said, "but what I am. I am darkness and destruction, and the first who will know this is the Pharaoh. You will help me show him."

The god's rumbling voice was as promising as the sounds that came from distant storm clouds. The spirit could not reply verbally to the order; he was choked with devotion, triumph and pleasure. But the god knew his thoughts well enough at this range.

"I remain bound to the Memory, and to break free means that I must use the rules laid down in its magic," Zork continued. "The Memory cannot remain as it is, or I will remain trapped in the role of loser. The events must change here for change to occur for us, and I know how best to bring this about." His voice was glad and vicious. "We shall play a game."

The spirit felt a wave of cold spill into him, lifting the hairs on his arms and legs as it rose through his knees from the stone-paved floor. Echoes of the voice resounded in his mind.

"Great god..." It was difficult, coming back from his euphoria, like being thrown on to ice. "In this time, Pharaoh has fought many battles, and in doing so, he's won the title 'King of Games'..."

"I knew he would not change so much from when I knew him," Zork said in satisfaction. "He still loves taking gambles."

"The King of Games," said the spirit. "I mention it because the title suits him..."

"Indeed," Zork rumbled. "His love of games means that his spirit will be snared in one easily."

"The King. Of Games. Because he /always wins/."

"Skill, faith and luck ... that is what will make a game a fine test; a good final test. A game," said Zork, "is something that Pharaoh will not resist. He loves games, which will make it easy to bind one into his Memory. Do not doubt me, servant."

"This is not a game."

The spirit had not intended to reply, and the words surprised even him. His chill grew stronger, making his fingers shake as they turned mottled pale and purple. "It's not skill ... it's not luck. It's justice."

The god rumbled disapprovingly. It said, "You are foolish. Why would it matter how it is done, as long as it is done?"

Of course, the thrill said within him, it must only be /done/. After so many years ... with only his power and his victory in front of him ... why would he feel doubt? This was his god, the one that he had helped create; Zork could not be wrong. His chill vanished as abruptly as it had come.

"We will win," said the spirit, and bowed until his head touched the floor.
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