Ripples

By Alexis Leeper

Romance / Drama

Terror, Love, and Strength

When Tima was taken out of the kingdom, Atem felt a jolt in his heart that told him something was very wrong. He wanted to figure out why he felt that way but he was stuck in a meeting. Thankfully, Tarra was in the window sunning and sensed how tense he was. Hey, are you all right?

Not wanting the Royal Court to see him distracted, Atem mentally asked her, Can you see if Tima came back yet?

Tarra nodded and flew off. Since Tima was not Tarra's guardian, there was no way the phoenix could project her thoughts to the Hebrew from a distance; however, she could still do a mind scan and see if she could sense Tima's presence. After scanning, she determined, She's not back yet. She might still be in the market.

Normally, Atem would have accepted that answer but something still felt off so he stood up and stated, "We'll have to continue this another time."

The Royal Court was surprised to hear this; Atem had never interrupted a meeting before. Mahado asked in a concerned tone, "Is everything all right, my Pharaoh?"

Not wanting to cause any alarm, Atem simply stated, "I just want to check on something."

Aknadin was about to argue when Seth took a guess: "Is it the Queen?"

Atem did not answer but his face spoke volumes. Aknadin silently grumbled, believing that Tima was now cutting into the politics of the palace, but the rest of the court knew that something must be wrong for Atem to behave this way. Karim offered, "Is there anything we can do?"

Atem smiled softly, grateful that the court was accepting of his actions. "No, thank you, Karim."

The Royal Court nodded as Atem left to find the guards to organize a search party. They hoped that this was just the Pharaoh worried about his pregnant Queen but Seth could not help but wonder if there was something more…

---

Moments later, Jouno came out of the palace dressed in commoner's clothes. A few guards and Earthzina volunteered to go with him to look for Tima but the blond stated that only he and one other, a hooded man, would go to not attract attention. They were about to leave when Seth, also dressed in commoner's clothes, approached them. "What are you doing?"

Jouno glared as the other hid his face a little more. "What do you think? We're going to find the Queen."

Seth shook his head and looked at the other male. "I was talking to you."

Jouno paled; did Seth know who this person was? But he tried to play it off. "He volunteered to help me and we can cover more ground this way."

Seth looked at Jouno with a small glare. "Don't lower me down to your intelligence level; I know who this man is."

Angered by the insult, Jouno was about to yell at Seth when the volunteer stopped him with a hand gesture and took off his hood to reveal the Pharaoh. "How did you know?"

Seth first said, "Forgive me, my Pharaoh." Reaching forward, he held up Atem's left hand. "No one else in the palace wears a wedding band, especially a gold one."

Atem glared and took back his hand. "I have to go see if Tima is all right. It's just…a feeling I have."

Seth could have argued but he knew that Atem was behaving the same way he did when Tikali was kidnapped. Nodding once, he declared, "I'm going with the two of you."

Jouno shook his head. "Are you crazy? The two of us can handle this and--" His statement was cut off by Seth shoving his hand in the blond's face. The High Priest said, "I know what it's like to have a funny feeling about the woman you love. That is why I am volunteering; if, for nothing else, to keep you calm."

Atem snapped, "I am calm!"

Jouno peeled Seth's hand off his face and was about to talk when Seth stated, "With all due respect, Pharaoh, you are not; how do you expect to save the Queen if you are rash like this?"

Atem was about to argue back when Tarra came down and nuzzled Atem's cheek. You need to calm down…if you act like this, you can't think straight and that is the last thing you need.

Atem took a deep breath and nodded. "You're right…forgive me. Let's go to the market and check on her."

Jouno was about to say that it was all right when Seth said it first. As Atem put back on his hood, the blond glared at the High Priest. "Am I ever going to speak around you?"

Seth just smirked in response. Tarra added, Pharaoh, I think I should join you from the skies. That way, I can keep an eye out for Tima but still be far enough away so that people don't recognize you.

Thinking about it, Atem nodded in agreement.

---

Soon the three men made their way through the marketplace. The salesmen tried to get their attention with all the things that they had to sell but Atem ignored them, trying to find the fabric salesman. Seth and Jouno stayed near the Pharaoh, glad that the disguise kept people from realizing who he was. Finally, after walking and getting pushed around by rushed people (which annoyed Seth but Atem and Jouno brushed off), they found the fabric salesman. Atem made a beeline for the stand, which brightened up the man. "Hello, my kind sir. With your hurriedness to get here, you must be in trouble with the little woman and want to make up for whatever you did with a beautiful dress. Can I interest you in a rich red fabric?"

Not used to Atem being treated like a common man, Seth tensed up while Jouno tried not to laugh at the idea of Atem making a dress. Atem, however, stayed on subject. "I'm here for information." He could tell that the fabric salesman was disappointed but still willing to help. "Did you sell fabric to a woman this morning? A foreign woman?"

The salesman thought for a moment. "Well, good sir, this morning was very crowded with both locals and foreigners coming and going. Tell me, this woman…did she have something specific that would make her stand out?"

Atem thought for a moment before remembering that his Queen had one thing that was rare in Khment: "She has blue eyes."

Taking this piece of information, the salesman started to remember. He was about to say that he never saw her when he suddenly snapped his fingers in remembrance. "There was a foreign woman wearing a hood with blue eyes here this morning. I tried to make a sale with her but this blond Greek woman cut me off and made the blue-eyed woman run off."

That caught everyone's attention: why would Tima run away, especially when she supposedly had guards with her? And what did the Greek woman say to make the Hebrew run off? Atem asked, "Did you see where she went?"

The salesman pointed in the direction that Tima took off and Atem quickly headed in that direction with Seth and Jouno close behind. Along the way, they heard Tarra call out to them. I found the guards!

That was worrisome, especially since Tarra did not mention Tima. Following the phoenix's voice, they found Marik and the other guard passed out in the alley where Sabeen and Lilith left them. Though on guard, Seth stayed calm while Atem was close to having a mental breakdown. More upset that two of his guardsmen were attacked, Jouno revived Marik, who saw Jouno and was confused. "How…?"

Atem lowered down and revealed his bangs, making Marik bow in respect. "Where is Tima?"

As Jouno worked to revive the other guard, Marik braced himself for a lashing. "We were attacked from behind…choked out…"

Atem gripped his head, on the verge of freaking out, when Tarra went to him and squeezed his shoulder to help. Atem! Calm down!

Atem was about to argue that he could not afford to calm down when the other guard, now revived, touched his head, revealing a piece of paper tied to his hand. Seeing it, Jouno took and opened it, only to have his face scrunch up with confusion. "What the hell is this?"

Atem and Seth looked and knew immediately what it was: "Greek."

Jouno raised his eyebrow at the answer both men gave him. "Why the hell is this letter in Greek? And why do my guards have it?"

Seth glared a little. "If you were paying attention, you might have remembered that the Queen ran off when confronted by a Greek woman."

Jouno glared back as he helped the guards up. Grateful that Lapidos was left all those months ago, Atem took the letter. "Let's go back. The sooner he can get started translating, the sooner we'll be able to get Tima back."

Everyone agreed and headed back to the palace. Marik tried many times to apologize for not doing his job but Jouno and Atem told him that they did do their jobs; Jouno especially pointed out that attacks from the back are always to predict. To their surprise, Isis was waiting for them when they came back to the palace with a grave look on her face. Moving away from the group, Atem removed his hood and asked, "What is it?"

Isis took a deep breath before explaining, "I had a vision of the Queen…and who's she with now."

Atem could tell from the look on Isis' face that this news was going to be really bad.

---

At the moment, Tima felt something pinch her cheek and she woke up with a yelp. To her surprise, she was in a tent with her hands and feet tied. Looking around to figure out where she was, her eyes fell on the one who pinched her cheek and widened at who it was, said person commenting, "Why, hello, Tima…we meet again."

Tima could not believe who she was seeing. Her hair was messy and she was covered with dirt and dust but there was no denying who she was: "Roxanna! Y-You're alive!"

Roxanna sneered, feeling her hatred grow for the Hebrew. "Don't 'Roxanna' me, you peasant! And yes, I am alive! I survived this gods-forsaken place, no thanks to you."

Tima held up her tied hands to both protect herself and plead with the insane Greek. "Roxanna…please…"

Without warning, Roxanna slapped Tima extra hard across the cheek. "Don't you go begging for mercy, bitch! I have a little score to settle with you."

Her cheek stinging from the slap, Tima peeked at Roxanna. "Please…don't hurt me…"

Roxanna laughed darkly at the plea. "Hurt you? You wish I would be that generous to you!"

With that, Roxanna grabbed a nearby dagger and was about to cut Tima when she noticed that the Hebrew covered her stomach in a protective way. The Greek froze, feeling another straw fall on the camel's back. As she hesitated, Yima came in to remind Roxanna that Tima was off-limits. Tima gave Yima a pleading look as Roxanna glared at Yima. "The bitch is pregnant?"

Yima gave Roxanna a blank stare. "Didn't we tell you?" Off of Roxanna's hiss, the scarred Hebrew continued to be mockingly numb. "Oh…thought we did."

Hoping that there was still some good left in Yima, Tima looked at the elder. "Yima…please…help me…"

Adding to the Queen's pain, Yima glared a cold look at her younger sister. Tima scooted back a little as the scarred thief grabbed Roxanna by the wrist and pulled her to her feet. "Let's go, bitch. You're not spoiling our plans."

Roxanna held back, refusing to be treated this way when she had Tima right where she wanted. "Hold it! I am royalty so I get to kill--!"

Her demands were cut off by a sharp cry of pain: Yima twisted the Greek's arm behind her back, causing Roxanna to drop the dagger, and pinned her against one of the tent's poles. Yima stated with a sinister look, "You listen and you listen good: the only person who deserves to kill this bitch is me."

In pain and afraid, Roxanna was still greedy enough to protest. "Not true…she stole my man…"

Yima tightened her grip, making Roxanna cry, and hissed, "And she's my sister, having a better life than me. Therefore, I win."

Keeping Roxanna's arm twisted behind her back, Yima brought Roxanna outside the tent and threw her to the ground. Everyone looked up and laughed at Roxanna, the once daughter of a politician now being thrown around by a common thief. Smirking, Yima ordered, "Now go help Niva sharpen the blades."

Spitting the sand out of her mouth, Roxanna massaged her sore shoulder while muttering, "Sharpen your own blades…"

All of a sudden, the dagger she tried to use suddenly flew into view, missing her hand by mere centimeters. Frightened but getting the message, Roxanna went to Niva, who was sharpening the swords and daydreaming, and started to help her. "Man…I'm glad Yima held back and didn't kill me with that dagger."

Niva looked at Roxanna with a blank but creepy look. "What do you mean? Yima doesn't hold back…she missed."

Roxanna felt all the color drain out of her face.

---

Back in the tent, Yima turned her attention back to Tima, who was trembling with fright. "Y-Yima…T-This can't be you…what happened to my loving sister?"

Yima rolled her eyes with a groan. "Don't tell me you're still hung up on that sister crap. You're making me sick!"

Tima sat up, still covering her stomach. "B-But…what happened to you…? Please, Yima…I want to understand…"

Yima's eyebrow twitched at Tima's request. "What happened…? You want to know what happened to me…?" Before Tima could nod, Yima started slapping her little sister viciously. "You have no idea! You don't know what it's like to be taken as a slave, to be beaten, raped, and starving! You don't know what it's like to scratch and claw your way through life!"

Yima would have continued to slap Tima if Eris had not peeked in and pulled her scarred leader back. By that time, the Queen had a bloody nose and felt woozy. But she was still clinging to hope. "Yima…"

Yima tried to attack her sister again but Eris kept a firm grip on her leader. However, she did not cover the scarred Hebrew's mouth, which allowed her to spit venom. "Don’t talk to me, bitch! You don't deserve to be my sister!"

Tima felt her heart breaking and, because of her pregnancy, tears started to form in her blue eyes. "Y-Yima…please…"

Having enough, Yima screamed, "Don't 'please' me! You are a disease to my air! I wished that you had never been born!"

Her heart reduced to dust, Tima lowered her head and started to cry. Rolling her eyes, Eris pulled Yima out of the tent. Now alone, Tima laid down and wondered what happened to the sister she had attached to all the good times growing up: bathing together, taking care of each other's needs, Yima telling her little sister stories both made up and those attached to their faith, Tima bringing her older sister anything she thought was pretty, and Yima always being Tima's protector. The last memory made Tima cry even harder. Outside the tent, Yima groaned and plugged her ears. "Damn it, can't she shut up?"

Looking up from making arrows with the Serbian twins, Malik smirked darkly. "You know…I can shut her up…if you know what I mean." Seeing that he had Yima's attention, he added, "You know…something that will really make her cry in silence."

Yima smirked, knowing that Malik was getting at. "Have fun."

Malik smirked a sinister smirk and stood up to head into the tent. The twins looked up and found themselves jealous. They murmured to each other how lucky Tima was and Eris, overhearing, could not believe it. "Really? You two are jealous that she's about to be raped?"

The twins looked up and nodded. Sabeen stated, "Of course, it's more fun that way…" and Lilith ended with, "…especially with someone with those delicious looks."

Eris shook her head with disgust and walked away from them. The twins watched as Malik entered the tent and gave Tima a frightening look, making her back up. "Well, well, well…aren't you a cute one? Normally, I don't go after someone else's victim but, for you, I'll make an exception."

Scared, Tima asked, "W-Who are you?"

Malik's eyes widened a little in his insanity and he grinned psychotically. "What's the matter, your highness? Are you scared of me? Or is it because this is your first time with another guy?"

Tima's eyes widened and she backed up as much as she could with being tied up. "S-Stay away!"

Malik crouched down to Tima's level, keeping his look of insanity on his face. "C'mon, my Queen…I won't bite…too much, that is."

Getting on his hands and knees, he was about to pounce when he sensed that he was being watched. Looking back at the tent entrance, he noticed that it was the twins. He smirked and licked his lips. "Well, this is a first. Come in…I would love to have some company."

As Sabeen and Lilith came in, Tima looked at them. "Please help me!"

Lilith raised her eyebrow. "Why spoil the fun?"

Sabeen agreed. "This can be great foreplay."

Lilith glared at Sabeen, who covered her mouth at her blurting out hers and Lilith's fantasies. Malik blinked in surprise before smirking again. "Oh, believe me…having you two here is really…getting me in the mood."

The twins giggled both darkly and excitedly as Tima's eyes widened with fear; she felt like she was looking at servants of the Evil One. Turning his attention back to Tima, Malik pulled her forward and immediately bit her neck, making her cry out. "Mm…you taste good…I wonder how the rest of you tastes…"

Tima tried to get away but was unable to with Malik keeping a firm grip on her. Grinning in his insanity, he ripped apart her disguise, revealing her white under-dress, and painfully grabbed her breasts. He was ready to fully take her when his hand brushed her stomach. Suddenly a bright light emerged from Tima, blinding the three and forcing Malik back. "What the hell?!"

Tima did not understand what was happening as a tall figure emerged from the light. Seraphita spread her six wings and held up a hand towards Malik. Be gone, Demon of the Dark One!

Energy gathered upon Seraphita's hand and, once there was enough, she released the energy into a beam of light. The beam hit Malik, throwing him into the girls and blasting all of them out of the tent. Bakura went up to them and demanded, "What the hell was that?!"

The twins were too hurt to answer but Malik shook his head and sat up. "That bitch has a powerful Ka…"

Coming over, Yima laughed, refusing to believe. But Bakura shut her up by grabbing her neck and making her look into the tent from the new rip. The two of them could see Seraphita, waiting to protect Tima. Seeing it, Yima removed Bakura's hand and growled, "Who the hell is that?!"

Bakura helped Malik up and told Yima, "Something you don't want to mess with."

---

Inside the tent, Tima sat up a little and looked at Seraphita. Still scared from the attempted rape, she stuttered, "W-W-Who…Who are you?"

After determining that no one would come after Tima again, Seraphita turned around and gave Tima a gentle smile. Tima could feel her lips form a smile as well as she felt a warm radiance and a sense of protection and love coming from this female. Seraphita bowed before the Hebrew before speaking to her with mental speech. I am your Guardian Seraphita. I was chosen by the Good Lord to watch over and protect you.

Tima could not believe it but welcomed the surprise. You were sent by God?

Seraphita nodded. That is correct. I have wanted to appear before you when the time was right but, due to what was happening, I had to come out and protect you. Seeing Tima sigh with relief, Seraphita added, And don't you worry: your husband will be here soon to rescue you. Until then, I will watch over you and your child.

With that, Seraphita disappeared into Tima's heart again. Feeling safe for the first time today, Tima wrapped herself up in a blanket and closed her eyes. A tear fell as she whispered, "Atem…come soon…"

---

At that moment, Atem was pacing in his study as Lapidos worked to translate the letter. Working with the Greek man, Seth looked up at Atem. "With all due respect, my Pharaoh, please sit down. We're working as fast as we can."

Atem glared at Seth but he felt better as soon as Lapidos finished and read the letter in Atem's tongue: "If you want your Queen back, come alone to the nearest oasis outside the city before sundown. If you do not, she will die."

Atem growled at the threat and Seth shook his head. The closest oasis was by a ghost town, a perfect place to stage an attack. "My Pharaoh, I object to you going alone. This is clearly a trap."

Nearby with the three phoenixes, Jouno looked up from sharpening his dagger. "I agree with the High Priest. This is too risky."

Atem stated, "Your objections are noted. But they have Tima and I need to get her back."

Tarra flew over to Atem. Atem, you can't go out all by yourself.

Atem smirked. "Who said that I'm going completely alone?" He looked at Seth, Jouno, and the three phoenixes. "This will be tricky but I need all of your help."

After Lapidos left to give them privacy, everyone listened to what Atem had to say.

---

As the sun started to lower, the thieves, their followers, and Roxanna were getting impatient. Yima growled at Roxanna, "They're taking too long. I knew it was a bad idea to let you write the letter!"

Roxanna shrunk back a little, too scared to argue. Niva crawled over to Yima and put her head on her master's knee. "Yima, we need to be patient…" She was pushed away by the scarred Hebrew but Niva just giggled. "Yima, you're fun when you're mad."

Malik rolled his eyes, still not fully understanding why Niva was so dedicated to Yima. Just then, Bakura came up to them with a dark smirk on his face. "He's here."

Yima and Roxanna looked up, knowing who the "he" was. They got up but Yima knocked Roxanna down. "Who said you could come?"

Getting her spine back, Roxanna stood up and glared at Yima. "I want my revenge against that man as well!"

Yima wanted to yell at Roxanna but Bakura pushed the two women apart and whispered in Yima's ear, "We can get rid of her as soon we're done with the royal couple."

Yima smirked darkly and told Roxanna, "Looks like we're going to team up."

Roxanna grinned darkly, in the dark about the thieves' ultimate plan about her. Bakura went to get Tima and Yima got her sword. "Just think, ladies: the next time you'll see me, I will be rid of the bitch."

Her followers grinned with delight as Malik grumbled, "I still don't see why I can't be a part of this." His tone quickly changed, however, as the twins started to turn him on. "Have fun, bitch."

Yima rolled her eyes and went to get the horses ready, unaware that there were three birds circling above…

---

Moments later, the four rode off to the oasis. Bakura had gagged and put a bag over Tima's head to add to her fear and put her trembling body across his horse, knowing that Roxanna and Yima would not resist the chance to kill her. As the oasis came into view, they would see Atem was there with two horses, one of them presumably for Tima. Bakura smirked and stopped his horse, prompting the women to stop theirs. Seeing the three, Atem looked at Bakura, assuming he was the leader. "I came alone, just as you wanted."

Tima's head lifted a little at the sound of her husband's voice. Bakura chuckled darkly and pushed Tima's head back down. "I'm surprised you're so good at following orders."

Yima stared at Atem, impatient with her want to kill Tima. Roxanna licked her lips at the sight of the Pharaoh, remembering how handsome he was and how much she wanted him and his power. "Hello, sweetie."

Atem's spine tingled at the sound of Roxanna's voice. But he ignored her, keeping his eyes on the woman with the bag over her head: he made note that she reacted when he first spoke and he did recognize the ring on her finger. Feeling his nerves raising, he ordered, "Let me see her."

Bakura smirked and looked at Yima. "What do you think?"

Yima smirked and got off her horse before going to Bakura's and pulled the woman off the horse. Making her stand and grateful that the victim's hands were still tied, Yima removed the bag and yanked Tima's head back by her hair. "Looking for her?"

His anger growing, Atem was about to step forward when Yima drew a dagger and placed it under Tima's neck, snaking her other hand around one of the Queen's arms. Getting off his own horse, Bakura told Yima, "Hold off on killing her. After all…we want this to last."

Yima sneered in response. Tima tried to run to Atem but Yima kept a firm grip on the Queen and pushed the dagger a little deeper in her neck. "Please do that again; I welcome a chance to kill you in front of your husband."

Atem growled. "Let her go! Now!"

Bakura glared as Roxanna got off the horse and sneered, "You don't have any power here. Look around; your Royal Court is not here to help you out."

Tima whimpered in fear, believing what Roxanna said, prompting Atem to hold his hands to show that he did not have a sword or any sort of weapon. "Please…just let her go…"

Bakura chuckled and was about to step forward when Roxanna grabbed his chest, making him stop. To her surprise, Yima felt her spine tingle at this sight. She was about to yell at the Greek when Roxanna ordered, "Remove your DiaDhank." When the Pharaoh hesitated, the Greek joined Yima's side and clutched Tima's stomach. "Do it or your child will die before your wife."

Now Atem had no choice. As he removed his DiaDhank, Roxanna smirked at the thieves. "You're welcome. Now we won't have any monsters interfering."

Yima blinked in response, not understanding. Bakura grunted his thank you and kicked Atem's DiaDhank away. Atem tried again. "Please…let her go…take me if you wish but leave her out of this…"

Bakura smirked, accepting one part of the invitation. "Not just yet…" Quickly standing up, the albino kicked the Pharaoh in the face, causing Atem to fall with a deep cut on his eyebrow. Bakura's smirk turned evilly. "We're going to have some fun with you first…while your Queen watches."

Roxanna laughed, especially when Tima started to cry. The Greek hissed at the younger Hebrew, "This is going to be so much fun. If only you would have kept your cheap body away from him like you were supposed to."

Yima rolled her eyes at the Greek as Bakura dug his heel into Atem's back. But the older Hebrew hissed in her sister's ear, "Look what your husband is going through, all because of you…still glad you're alive, bitch?"

Tima whimpered as she watched in horror. Ignoring the stinging pain on his face, Atem asked, "So tell me, thief…how much did Roxanna pay you to get you to do her dirty work?"

Growling, Roxanna ran forward and kicked Atem's ribs a few times. Bakura shuddered with delight, relishing in Atem's cries of pain. He then stated, "Don't play dumb with me, Pharaoh. You of all people should know what you and your father, that merciless son of a dog, did."

Atem glared at Bakura: it was bad enough that he and the women were threatening his woman but insulting Aknamkanon was rubbing salt into the wound. Seeing this, Bakura spat on Atem's face and stomped on his spine, causing the Pharaoh to scream in pain. Licking his lips, the albino stated, "Just know this: this could've all been avoided…had your so-called father had a soul."

Roxanna added, "And if you had kept your eye on me instead of that peasant bitch."

With that, the two continued to stomp and kick Atem, relishing in his cries of pain and Tima's cries. Roxanna wanted to stomp on Atem's head to kill him but Bakura stopped her many times, wanting this fun to last. Finally, they paused to take a breath and look at their victim. Atem was covered with blood and bruises. Tima cried bitterly, watching how much he was going through to make sure that she and their unborn child was safe. Bakura pulled Roxanna to his horse so he could get his dagger to deliver the final blow. Yima giggled with sick delight and stated, "Too bad we're alone; everyone should see what we've reduced the powerful Pharaoh to."

Coughing up a little blood, Atem asked with a smirk, "Who said we're alone?"

Everyone looked at him in surprise as Jouno and Seth suddenly appeared in the midst of the oasis: they had been there to the whole time but kept hidden in the shadows and brush by the combined powers of Earthzina and Itami. The two men wanted to stop the attacks on Atem but they were under strict orders to not interfere until they heard those four words. Though the two phoenixes were weak after using their powers, Tarra (who was hiding in the trees) was not: Seth and Jouno shot arrows at the two thieves while Tarra electrocuted Roxanna. But the arrows hit the shoulders and the shock was not enough to kill as Atem wanted the three to be punished later. Now free, Tima went to Atem, still crying at the state he was in. With Tima's back to them, the three enemies wanted to attack again but Earthzina, though weak, used a bit of her powers to make the sand attach to their feet, keeping them pinned. Jouno, now equipped with a DiaDhank of his own, stood before the group as Seth untied Tima's hands and helped Atem up. Tima removed her gag and shook her head at Atem. "Atem…"

Though he was in a lot of pain, the Pharaoh managed to smile at Tima. "You're safe…my love…"

The three enemies could not believe that they were tricked and left as injured as they were. Yima was too busy trying to get the arrow out of her shoulder to do anything else and Bakura knew that, with this injury, he was too weak to summon his Ka. Roxanna, however, was still stubborn enough to not see the truth. "Come on, you two…we can still kill them!" She tried to get up but was stuck in the sand. Resorting to sitting up, she looked at the thieves. "Come on!"

Yima ignored her and Bakura glared. "Bitch, look at us! We can't win!"

Roxanna shook her head, refusing to give up. "No! We can win!"

Rolling his eyes, Jouno got a pebble and flicked at Roxanna's forehead. "Wake up, little girl. You're clearly outnumbered."

Yima and Bakura, to their disgust, knew that Jouno was right; if they wanted to win this war, they had to admit that they lost this battle and wait until they were fully ready. Believing that the message had sunken and ignoring Roxanna's screams, the blond turned back and helped Seth pull Atem up to his feet and onto his horse. Once he and Tima were on the horse, they put their respected phoenixes in their bags on the horse they shared and got on the animal, not looking forward to sharing the horse all the way back to the kingdom. As the two horses started to leave, Yima looked at Bakura. "Nice going."

Bakura grabbed her arrow, making her cry out in pain. "I didn't see you helping out!"

"Hard to do that when I'm holding the hostage!"

Bakura was about to argue back when he noticed Roxanna. Yima turned to look at the Greek and her eyes widened. Roxanna's head was lowered so her eyes were shadowed and something was coming out of her back…

---

Some ways away, Tima was still crying as she looked at Atem's wounds. "Atem…why…?"

Ignoring his pain, Atem smiled at Tima. "Don't worry about me." Seeing Tima about to protest, he kissed her gently. "A husband does what he can to protect his wife and child."

Tima touched his cheek as Jouno gave a playful whine. "Why can't Kiko love me like that?"

Seth smirked, unable to resist. "Because she has brains."

Jouno growled and was about to elbow Seth when Atem's Sennen Pendant and Seth's Sennen Rod reacted to something nearby that was very evil. Before they could properly react, the sand between the two horses exploded, causing the horses to fall and the four riders to fall. Atem cried out in pain, landing on a bruise, and Tima ran to him while Seth and Jouno recovered and stood in front of the royal couple. Tarra was about to check on her master when something attacked her, knocking her out. Seth looked around. "What was that?"

Jouno paled and pointed ahead. "I think it was her."

Coming up on them was a mysterious Ka. It appeared to be female held together almost like a doll with blue eyes, no hair, and an odd outfit made of metal. Seth recognized it as the Ka that Roxanna had. His suspicions were confirmed when the Ka was shown to be carrying Roxanna in its arm in place of the broken doll it had last time. Roxanna had an insane look in her eyes as she made her Ka stop before the group. Surprising, Roxanna and the Ka spoke as one: "You will not leave today…if I can't have Atem…no one will…"

Seth knew the danger of this: the Ka had attached to Roxanna's soul and was driven by Roxanna's anger. As he activated his DiaDhank, the Ka suddenly widened its eyes and a red beam came out, hitting Seth in the shoulder. Jouno held up Seth, seeing the bloody shoulder and remembering that their phoenixes were too weak to heal them. "Come on, High Priest. Let's get rid of this bitch."

Ignoring his painful shoulder, Seth stood up and pushed Jouno away. "I can take this."

Roxanna and her Ka laughed. "I have waited for this day…to exact my revenge!"

The Ka tried to attack again but Seth was ready this time. Holding up his DiaDhank, he called out, "White Dragon! Defend us!"

The DiaDhank glowed and the White Dragon came forward, attacking with its lightening attack. When the two attacks hit, they cancelled each other, giving a powerful explosion. However, when the smoke cleared, the White Dragon was gone, Roxanna and her Ka were still standing and Seth was the one on his knees panting; thanks to him being injured, it took a lot out of him to summon his Ka. Atem tried to stand to protect his comrade but Seth was stubborn enough to tell the Pharaoh, "I will not let this evil Ka destroy you…"

Atem was about to argue when Jouno beat him to the punch. "Damn it, Seth! You are injured; you know controlling your Ka in this state takes some of your Life Force!" As Seth tried to push the blond away, the guard moved and declared, "Forget it, I'm summoning my Ka! Black Dragon, appear!"

Before Seth could protest, Jouno activated his DiaDhank and summoned his Ka; while he was not part of the Royal Court, he was given a DiaDhank which he kept for emergencies when it was revealed that he had a powerful Ka. Seconds later, a black dragon with red eyes appeared. Jouno ordered his Ka to attack and the dragon spat out a powerful dark-red energy ball towards Roxanna's Ka. The blond believed that he would win but it was not to be as Roxanna's Ka was powered by the Greek's bottomless pit of anger and need for revenge. The Ka sent out its powerful beam again: it cut the attack in half and hit the black dragon, destroying it and bringing Jouno down to his knees coughing up blood as if he got punched in the stomach. Atem and Tima could not believe that their comrades were being hurt like this, especially since they could not do a thing about it. Relishing in her victory, Roxanna and her Ka looked around to see who they should kill first. Jouno and Seth wanted to protect the royal couple but they were too low on Life Force to do so. Soon Roxanna's Ka looked at Tima and Roxanna smirked. "Tima, Tima, Tima…the woman who destroyed me. To think I took you in and this is how you repay me? By betraying and destroying me?! Well, now…I shall destroy you…"

The Ka attacked and Seth and Jouno tried to get in the way to protect their Queen. But Atem beat them to the punch with a very desperate and very dangerous move: the Eye of Horus glowed on his forehead as his Sennen Pendant glowed and he held up his DiaDhank. "Slifer, I call unto you!"

The sky growing dark, lightening struck and the clouds parted to send a powerful attack that stopped Roxanna's Ka's attack. As the God-Ka Slifer appeared, the two attacks exploded and Roxanna and her Ka could not be seen from the dust. Atem thought that he won as he collapsed to the ground as Slifer disappeared. Scared, Tima helped him sit up and noticed how weak he was: he was barely breathing and his eyes were getting glossy. Because of how weak he already was, summoning Slifer left him with nothing but a flicker of Life Force. But the worst was yet to come: the dust settled and Roxanna and her Ka were still there! Roxanna started to laugh in her triumph as Seth and Jouno cursed the situation: their Pharaoh was close to dying and they were low on energy so they could not defend. They started to believe that all was lost when Tima walked past them. "You'll face me now."

Roxanna and her Ka laughed. "You? Do you realize the situation you're in? Look around you: death is at every corner, waiting to strike. There is nothing you can do! You are a slave! You can do nothing!"

The three men looked at Tima, wondering what she was doing. They had never seen her in battle so they did not know what she was capable of. Atem reached for Tima weakly, wanting to protect her, as Tima lowered her head, evaluating the situation. She was Hebrew who came from nothing, whose family was destroyed by bandits, leaving her on her own, whose only family was out for her blood, and she was surrounded by her friends and husband who were dying. With Tima's head lowered, Roxanna and her Ka were about to attack when Tima spoke up: "I am not the same person you once knew, Roxanna…God has given me the trials and I took them on to be a better person." Lifting her head, she revealed the light of courage in her eyes. "I am Queen Tima of Khment and your actions shall be punished!"

To everyone's surprise, a bright white aura surrounded Tima. Roxanna and Ka hissed at the light. Raising her arms to the sky as if she was praising her God, Tima called out, "Seraphita, appear!"

To everyone's surprise, a powerful Ka came out of Tima's body. Her six wings spreading, the humanoid Ka was wearing angelic armor with a metallic tiara and a sword in her right hand. The three men looked at the Ka in surprise as Tima heard the words she needed to hear: "Heaven's Gate!"

Seraphita lifted her left hand and it started to glow brightly. The darkness was destroyed, replaced with a specter of color. Roxanna's Ka hissed at the light, feeling its power drain under the light. At the same time, the men and the phoenixes felt their power and Life Forces restore to the max. Jouno and Seth were impressed while Atem stared at Tima. She almost seemed like a different woman, stronger and more sure of herself than ever before. Roxanna and her Ka could feel that they were weak, almost dying, but they still refused to admit defeat. They were about to attack when Tima stated, "Your services are no longer required. Celestial Slashing Sword!"

For a brief second, Roxanna woke up, recognizing the line as what Hypatios used to say before they killed a slave. Takings her sword, Seraphita slashed the Ka in half; in doing so, Roxanna was killed instantly and disappeared with her Ka. Taking a deep breath, Tima looked at Seraphita as the light disappeared that reveal it was now early evening. The Ka smiled at her and mentally told her, Tima…you have passed the trials of our Lord with flying colors. You are now the strong woman He wanted you to become. For that, I shall always be here to serve you and call you my Queen.

Tima smiled. "thank you, Seraphita."

Seraphita bowed her head in respect before returning to Tima. Taking a moment, she touched her heart and stomach, knowing that her guardian and child were there. She then heard, "My love…"

Turning around, she looked and could not believe it. Atem was standing before her, completely healed thanks to Seraphita. Tears forming, Tima ran to him and jumped into his embrace. Atem held her tightly, as if afraid that she could disappear. Seth and Jouno held back, allowing the royal couple to have a moment together. Between sobs, Tima admitted, "I thought…I was going…going to…lose you…"

Atem smiled and kissed her gently before pulling back and wrapping her with his cloak. "I'll never leave you…I promise you and our child."

Tima smiled and leaned into his embrace. Taking a deep breath, Atem looked at Seth and whispered, "We'll need to discuss those two tomorrow."

Seth nodded, knowing that Atem was talking about Bakura and Yima: they were still out there and out for blood. Rubbing Tima's back, Atem led her to the horse and helped her up before getting on and leading his comrades back to the kingdom. Along the way, the men thought about Bakura and Yima. They were a real threat to the royal couple since they had personal reasons to go after them. What they did not know at the moment was that the two thieves saw the battle and felt affected by Seraphita's Heaven's Gate. Realizing that they were not strong enough to attack the kingdom yet, they decided to wait until they were ready. In the dark about the decision, Atem wanted to tighten security so that the kingdom was safe and so he could focus on the most important thing: his kingdom's prosperity and his child's birth. At that thought, he reached down and touched Tima's stomach. "Roxanna is finally gone…our child can grow with no worries now." Tima nodded and smiled in agreement.

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