Ripples

By Alexis Leeper

Romance / Drama

Betrayal

Around the time Atem and the Royal Court arrived back at the palace, Malik was preparing Yima's funeral pyre and ignoring the screams of Yima's women and of Bakura, who was ripping the camp apart. The deranged man looked over his shoulder in time to see the albino stab a pathetic for trying to calm him down. Malik shook his head and went back to putting the finishing touches on the pyre before looking at Yima's body, which lay nearby. "I don't get what he's so upset about…so what if you died? You at least took the Queen with you."

All of a sudden, he was turned around and punched in the nose by Bakura. He overheard his right-hand man's off-color comments about Yima and became furious. Infuriated both with Yima's death and Malik's a comment, he grabbed Malik's neck and yelled, "You bastard! You need to watch your mouth before I rip your tongue out!"

Unaware of the screams that were coming from the edge of the camp, Malik let Bakura have his rant and then head-butted the albino, getting his neck free. "You are a fucking idiot! Why should you care about my opinion? Besides, you never gave a shit about the woman!"

Screaming in fury, Bakura tackled Malik to the ground and the two men started a vicious fist fight. After a few minutes, however, Bakura kicked Malik away and got up, wiping the blood from his forehead. Looking up with his black eye and bloody mouth, Malik was surprised by what Bakura did. "What are you doing? Are you actually giving up a fist fight?"

Bakura went to Yima's body, muttering, "It's not worth it…", and picked her up. He looked at her with a numb look. While Yima was nothing but a battle and pleasure buddy, he was still very upset that she was dead. In his mind, she was not supposed to die; they were supposed to exact their revenge and rule over Khment together after they killed off Atem and Tima. Malik stood up and asked, "Are you sure you didn't care about her?"

Bakura laid Yima on the pyre and got a torch before cursing Malik out. The deranged man rolled his eyes in amusement as the scarred albino was about to lay the torch on the body before realizing something. Giving the torch to Malik, the albino took the ruby pendant back and put it around his neck. Malik was about to make a sarcastic comment about how touching such a gesture was when Bakura grabbed the torch back and hissed, "Keep your mouth shut."

Malik hissed at his leader as the albino laid the torch on the pyre and set it ablaze. He watched it burn as memories of his village burning down ran through his mind. Shaking his head and looking at her body, he could feel his anger and hatred growing stronger and stronger by the second. For the first time, he had the perfect partner, even more perfect than Malik was, and she was taken away from him thanks to the Royal Family once again. "Damn you, Pharaoh…first thing in the morning…I will make sure you suffer."

Malik smirked. "Now you're talking my language."

Bakura was about to say that Malik was not invited this time when, suddenly, Nattie and Lysandra ran past them, traumatized by something. The deranged man looked up and rubbed his ear with his little finger. "What the hell is up with them?"

Bakura looked up in a daze before they heard the familiar insane giggle of Yima's most devoted follower. They turned around and both men reacted to the sight: Niva was walking towards the pyre dripping wet with blood and clutching a dagger in her hand. Malik looked at her and asked, "What the hell did you get into? And why didn't you invite me?"

Insane from Yima's death, Niva tilted her head, keeping her eyes glued on the burning pyre. "We made a pact…when she dies…we die too…they tried to get away…I wouldn't let them…must obey…"

Finding this entertaining, Malik decided to test her devotion. "Oh really? Well, in that case…die in the same way as your leader."

Bakura looked at Malik and then stepped away. He did not care what happened to Niva; all he cared about was getting the revenge he desired. As he walked away, he heard Niva's laughter becoming screams of pain and assumed that she did what Malik suggested, an assumption that grew stronger by Malik's deranged laughter. Shaking his head, he eyed his bow and arrow and got an idea of how to deliver the message of the Pharaoh. "And what better place…than where it all started…so many years ago…?"

---

The next day, Atem was preparing his horse to ride out while Tarra was discussing a plan of defending their guardians with Itami. While he had no idea what Kul Elna was, he knew Bakura was waiting for him and the thief king needed to answer for all his sins. Taking a moment, he took a deep breath and whispered, "Heba…I will avenge your death…by killing that bastard."

Coming up from behind, Shada heard what Atem said and cleared his throat to get the Pharaoh's attention. "My Pharaoh, the Royal Court will be by your side. They will be ready to go very soon." He almost told Atem that Aknadin would be accompanying them as well but he thought of something else that needed to be asked first: "Do you really intend to kill Bakura?"

Shada knew that Seth wanted to kill Bakura himself but the Royal Court knew that Atem should have that honor. But, because of how noble and democratic the Pharaoh was and how angry he was now, the priest wanted to make that Atem was ready to deliver such a punishment. The Pharaoh looked behind at Shada, showing the fire in his eyes. "That man has killed many, including my friend, my wife, and my son. I will send him to Osiris myself. Kul Elna…will be the sight of our final battle."

Shada felt a shiver go down his spine at Atem's intensity. He almost pointed out that it was Yima who killed Tima but he knew it was not wise to split hairs at the moment. Instead, he bowed down to his knee. "The Royal Court is prepared to follow you."

Atem nodded and got on his horse. "Then get on your horse and tell the Royal Court to meet us there. I can't wait any longer." Shada was surprised at the statement, especially since he was willing to go without Tarra, but the priest nodded and prepared to leave while telling a nearby stable boy to both gather guards and tell the Royal Court that he and Atem were going ahead.

---

When Atem, Shada, and a group of guards reached Kul Elna, everyone looked around and could not believe what they were seeing. It was a decrepit and broken down village that was littered with the dead, both visible skeletons and invisible spirits. Hearing Shada comment about the town having a sinister aura, Atem gave a half-nod, still looking around. 'So eerie…ever since I arrived, I have had trouble breathing…as if something is trying to tear out of my heart. I haven't felt like since…' He shook his head a little, not wanting to remind himself of the shock he felt when Tima was killed so he whispered to himself, "What happened here…to leave nothing but bodies and ruins?"

Shaking his head in ignorance, Shada got off his horse and approached Atem to keep him safe. Just then, a guard approached the priest and told him and Atem, "My Lords, there is a hidden trapdoor that leads underground a few houses away. A group of guards went to investigate."

Shada told the guard to be careful since Bakura was possibly in there. He then turned to talk to Atem, only to find that the Pharaoh was following the guard towards the house. Shada shook his head in frustration that Atem was going into battle without thinking but Marik, who was nearby, admitted, "The Pharaoh has much anger in his heart…I would be the same way if I lost my family the way he did."

Shada nodded a little, knowing that he and the Royal Court would probably feel the same way. Gathering their strength for a possible battle, he and Marik followed Atem. The three soon came across the trapdoor. The stairwell led down to darkness and horrified screams. All of a sudden, a guard came into view but there was something very frightening about him: he was covered with ghastly spirits. Seeing Atem, he reached out and screamed, "My Pharaoh! This shrine is pure evil! Stay out for your life--!"

He could not finish his warning as more spirits erupted from his mouth and eyes, killing him. Seeing yet another person die thanks to Bakura, Atem growled and took a step forward to go down the stairs, only to have Shada grab his shoulder. "Pharaoh, I strongly advise that you stay back! We cannot defend you against spirits! Go back to the palace where it is safe!"

Atem roughly took his shoulder back and hissed, "Never turn your back on what you believe is right…that is what my father told me on his death bed! I will honor my father's dying wish and avenge my loved ones!"

With that, he raced in before Shada could stop him or tell him to at least wait for the rest of the Royal Court. Once down in the cavern (which turned out to be a temple), Atem looked around and saw that the ground was littered with fallen soldiers and Bakura was standing at the top of small stairs in front of a tablet. As Marik checked on a twitching guard, Atem glared at Bakura, feeling his blood boil at the sight of Bakura. "Bakura, you bastard! You will pay for everything you've done to the kingdom and to me!"

Bakura chuckled; if this Pharaoh was going to be this vicious, it would almost be a shame to kill him. But the tablet reminded him of his purpose so he decided to bring it up. "Don't get yourself all hot and bothered; at least…not until you take a look at this."

Still angry, Atem looked behind Bakura and his eyes widened in shock: the tablet was in the shape of a sarcophagus and the top was covered with holes that were shaped like the Sennen Items! Almost convinced that Bakura made the tablet to mess with Atemu's mind, the Pharaoh demanded, "What the hell is this?"

Bakura chuckled and peeked at the tablet, remembering that awful night. "Why do you think the tablet has the holes that are shaped like your precious Sennen Items? This is where those cursed items were forged!"

Anger subsiding and logic taking over, Atem started to get confused. While it made sense that such a tablet would be used to help mold the liquid gold into the desired shape, what was odd was the location: why was the tablet here, in a ghost town surrounded by corpses and spirits? He knew that the tablet was not moved here from another place since it was clear by how the tablet was positioned that it could not be moved. Seeing that both Atem and Shada were confused by why the tablet was there, Bakura looked down at his ruby pendant. "Shall I tell you the truth of your family, young one? Out of lust for power, your father and his Royal Court used shadow alchemy to create the Sennen Items. Maybe you already know that part. But what you probably didn't know was the price that the shadow alchemy needed to make it work: the lives of every single man, woman, and child in this village!"

Atem, Shada, and the living guards paled at the revelation. Though he did not want to think that his own father was responsible for turning Kul Elna into a town of death, Atem did remember Aknamkanon pleading with the gods to spare Atem because of the horrible sin that was committed in the making of the Sennen Items. Was the massacre of the entire town the horrible sin his father mentioned? Refusing to believe what he was hearing, especially since the royal family helped his own for many years, Marik brought up the question, "Why should we believe you? Lies are your native tongue."

Bakura smirked, recognizing Marik as Malik's little brother. "This is one thing I don't lie about…for I am the sole survivor of Kul Elna!" Finding himself surrounded by spirits, he looked at a black spirit. "Show yourself so we can give these bastards what they deserve."

The black spirit expanded and solidified until it revealed itself to be Belial, even more grotesque than ever before. Its wings were nothing but skeletons and covered in blood while its face and arms were cracked and looked ready to fall to pieces at the slightest touch. The Ka even looked more insane, using its scythe to dig into the black line that was under its eye. Looking at Bakura, it told him, My Mistress…wanted me to serve you now that she is gone…and as we know…spirits cannot rest…

Bakura smirked, finishing the thought verbally: "…until they have their revenge. After all…I have one who's still thirsting for her revenge. Ghosts! Tear him apart!"

Correctly assuming that Atem was too shocked to summon a god, Belial pointed to Atem with its scythe, guiding the spirits to attack Atem, Shada, and the remaining guards. His priestly duties taking over, Shada stood in front of Atem to protect him; however, the spirits continued to attack Atem and Shada. Belial chuckled evilly at Shada's attempt of protection. Bakura almost pointed out the obvious, that Shada could not protect the Pharaoh from vengeful spirits, but the sick glee he got from hearing Shada, Marik and Atem scream in fear and pain took over. Laughing evilly, the thief king hissed, "Can you feel their hatred? They will continue to surround you until they crush you like a vice. You will go mad with pain until you die a slow and agonizing death. My revenge over you and your family will be complete."

Marik passed out and Shada and Atem collapsed to their knees. Atem was suffering the most from the ghosts ripping him apart and from learning the truth about the Sennen Items' origins. If the mystical items were really created through the slaughter of Kul Elna, that would make his father, a man he respected and admired, a man he strived to be like, and a man he tried to honor every day of his life, a mass murderer. If so, maybe his death was the justice that these spirits needed. He prayed, 'Father…please tell me…if he's lying…or telling the truth?'

All of a sudden, the spirits were blown away from everyone, shocking Bakura and Belial. Still weak from the pain, Atem looked up and saw Mahad in his new spiritual form and Tarra guarding Atem. Bakura hissed at Mahad, knowing that the magician was a ghost instead of a Ka thanks to the spell that fused Mahad's Ba and Ka together. Tarra went to Atem and started to shed tears all over her guardian's arms, very concerned. While she could heal his physical wounds, she sensed a very troubled mind and heart and knew that her tears could not heal those. Looking at Tarra and silently apologizing for leaving her behind, Atem then heard Mahad speak directly to his mind: Please stand, my Pharaoh! Your faith has brought me here…but I will disappear if you lose your will to fight…

Atem suspected that Mahad was talking about the last shred of hope that Bakura was lying about what happened to Kul Elna but he knew that the hope was dying because of his confusion. He thought he knew what was right and wrong but, in this situation, it was not as clear as others. It was wrong to slaughter an entire village but the Sennen Items that came from such an evil brought about peace, which was right so did that mean it was right to murder an entire village to save Khment? Was that his father's legacy: an era of peace brought on by murder? Feeling the Pharaoh's feelings of being torn, Mahad decided to tell Atem the truth. Great Pharaoh…Atem…when I was alive, I sensed the evil in the Sennen Ring and, when I looked deeper into the evil, I leaned the origin of the Sennen Items. But your father, Pharaoh Aknamkanon, did not know!

Atem and Tarra looked at Mahad in shock: the magical priest knew all this time? Voicing Atem's doubts, Tarra asked, How do you know he didn't know?

Mahad lowered his eyes, remembering that day. Soon after I became a priest and sealed away the evil within the Sennen Ring, I confronted Pharaoh Aknamkanon and told him what I saw about the Sennen Items. He closed his eyes in sorrow and said the one sentence that he knew would clear Atem's mind of doubt: Your father felt the same pain that you feel right now…and that was the reason he fell ill…and died… Mahad gave Atem a strong look and told him, Even through it all, your father's desire for peace and justice never wavered…a desire that you inherited!

As Mahad predicted, Atem felt his doubt wash away: while it was still horrible that Kul Elna was massacred, he took great comfort in knowing that his father had no idea about what happened. After all, a mass murderer would not feel such guilt that he would die from grief. Tarra looked at Atem and told her guardian, If the Sennen Items fall into Bakura's hands, the world will be plunged into darkness! We need you to stand up to him!

Atem nodded and stood up, whispering, "Tima…Heba…give me strength…"

About to send the spirits over to kill everyone, Bakura overheard what Atem said and smirked. "Oh? Is your son dead? Such a weakling…what did he do, kill himself?"

Feeling his anger boil over again, Atem growled, "Don't even try to fool me! You murdered him with the Night Death and White Death!"

Bakura smirked with interest. "Night Death? White Death? Those sound like rituals. I wonder if Malik knows about them."

While Atem was too furious to realize what Bakura said, Mahad, Tarra, and Shada did hear what he said and thought it was unsettling. His anger blinding him, Atem hissed, "Your bastard! I would sell my soul to Apep himself if it meant getting revenge for my son!"

Bakura smirked and sneered, "Well then, sell away because I didn't do it."

Atem was about to yell at Bakura again until Tarra whispered, Atem…listen to what he said.

Atem took a deep breath and finally registered what Bakura said: not only did he not know what Night Death and White Death were, the thief king was never one to not take credit for a killing if he did it. So, if Bakura did not murder Heba, who did? Turning his attention back to the battle, the thief king hissed, "Well, 'Pharaoh,' if you miss your family so much, maybe I should do the 'honorable' thing and reunite you with them. Spirits! Tear the Pharaoh and his magician spirit to shreds!"

Off of Bakura's order and Belial's direction, the vengeful spirits flew towards the group. Shada wanted to take part in the battle but he knew that Mahad was more powerful and the former priest knew how to handle Bakura and Diabound. As if to reassure Shada and Atem that they were in good hands, Mahad destroyed the spirits with ease. A few made it past Mahad but they were destroyed by the electric shield that Tarra put around her guardian. Refusing to let Atem win this battle, Bakura summoned Diabound, which looked even more diabolical and powerful than ever. No one could believe how powerful this Ka looked; if this was the result of a long exposure to the Sennen Ring alone, what would happen if Bakura got more of the Sennen Items? Laughing at everyone's reaction. "I'm not just collecting the Sennen Items to fit them in the stone tablet! By absorbing the evil, I can make Diabound evolve! Diabound! Attack!"

Hearing Atem quickly telling Mahad that Diabound could copy attacks from all his opponents, Mahad braced himself for a magical attack but, instead, Diabound's snake head attacked with Slifer's thunder force. The albino expected everyone to freak out by Diabound attacking with an attack from a god but Mahad was prepared for any attack, thanks to his training in the afterlife. Chanting a short spell, the magical spirit created a portal in front of him, which took in the attack. Mahad had planned on creating another portal behind Diabound but Atem got a different idea and silently told Mahad his idea. Nodding in understanding, Mahad created a second portal behind Bakura which directed the attack towards a pillar. While the attack grazed one of Belial's wings and, in turn, made the albino wince at the pain in his shoulder, Bakura laughed. "You missed!"

Belial looked at the pillar and wanted to tell its late mistress' comrade but Atem answered first by smirking and asking, "You think so, you bastard?"

As the pillar started to fall, Bakura looked at it and realized that Mahad did not miss but, instead, was aiming for something else. Because of how low the attack hit the pillar, it started to fall at an angle and the pillar was going to hit and destroy the tablet. Not wanting his plans to go to ruin, Bakura yelled, "Diabound! Protect the stone tablet!"

Using its snake-headed tail, Diabound stopped the pillar from landing in the tablet. But the albino was almost as white as his hair when he realized that was Atem and Mahad's plan all along: as long as Diabound was touching something solid like the pillar, it could not hide within the walls since solids could not go into a solid and the thief king knew that, as useful as Belial was, it was too weak physically to hold up a pillar. With its defenses gone, Mahad attacked Diabound with his magic blast attack. Belial tried to act as a shield but one attack that detached a skeletal wing was enough to knock the Ka to the ground. To his disgust, Bakura felt the pain from both Kas, his left eye going almost blind from Diabound's pain and his right shoulder blade cracking from Belial's pain. After his senses came back, he overhead Atem telling Mahad to hit Diabound again with another magic blast. Ignoring his bleeding eye, Bakura looked at Mahad and yelled in a crazed tone, "You're living on borrowed time, you damn wizard! You can't hit me twice!"

Believing that Bakura was in denial about his upcoming defeat, Mahad was about to attack Diabound again when Diabound's snake head suddenly crushed the pillar it was holding, creating a shield out of the fragments. But he created the distraction for another reason, as Atem and his comrades noticed when the fragment shield dropped: Belial was now covering the tablet, using its damaged body and remaining skeletal wing as a shield. Bakura then activated Diabound's new special ability of invisibility. Marveling at his enemies' being baffled at Diabound turning invisible, he rubbed salt into their wounds by teasing, "He could be anywhere…but you don't find out where until you're dead!"

Atem started to look around, his mind racing about how to find his greatest enemy's Ka. However, it was impossible for him and Mahad to find something that was invisible but Shada summoned his Ka the Two-Headed Jackal Warrior, knowing that his Ka's strong sense of smell would be able to pinpoint Diabound's exact location. Sure enough, the Ka threw its ax at a nearby wall and Diabound's head and hand emerged to stop the ax. Racing ahead, Atem ordered Mahad to attack but Bakura smirked. "Good job finding him…but it's too late!"

As if on cue, Diabound's snake head appeared behind Atem and Tarra and aimed to attack them since the snake head was behind Tarra's electric shield. Atem turned around just as the second head started to attack with Slifer's attack. It was too late for him to summon a Ka and Mahad could not react fast enough. But Shada and the Two-Headed Jackal Warrior could; while Shada knew that his Ka could not survive a god's attack, it could still be a shield. While the Jackal Warrior blocked the attack, Shada raced to Atem and knocked him and Tarra down just as his Ka was destroyed, causing significant damage to Shada's body. Atem was worried about him but Shada told him, "Great…Pharaoh…please run…save yourself…we will…avenge everyone…for you…"

While he knew that Atem wanted to kill Bakura for everything, Shada knew that Atem was needed alive to lead Khment; not only that but, now that they knew Bakura did not murder Heba, the Pharaoh needed to live to go after who was really responsible for the young prince's death. However, Atem was still determined to finish this battle with Bakura. But how could he find something that was hidden in the dark? While he thought of the answer, one of Heba's earliest riddles popped into his head. Feeling the sting in his heart, Atem opened his eyes with determination and told Mahad to attack everywhere. Remembering Heba's riddle as well, Mahad attacked the walls and ceiling. Bakura chuckled, amused that the magician was seemingly attacking at random and hoping he would hit Diabound that way. "You won't find him that way."

He especially knew that to be true because, while Mahad was in front of Atem, Diabound was behind Atem. But the albino was shocked when Atem asked, "You really think so?"

The thief king then looked around and realized the truth: all of Mahad's attacks let in floods of light and, because of that, Diabound could no longer hide in the shadows. Atem whispered, "I am your follower in the light / Yet I am invisible in the night. In order to see a shadow, one must have light and now…Mahad has Diabound in his sights. Now it's time for you to answer for everyone you killed!"

Mahad raced towards Diabound and attacked him with a thousand magical blasts, making the Ka collapse and reducing Bakura to a bloody mess. Shaking his head to clear his mind, he smirked at Mahad. "Well…training in the afterlife has given those blasts a little more of a sting…but it's still not enough to kill me!"

Atem and his two comrades almost waved off Bakura's words as someone who was refusing to admit that he was dying but their attitudes changed when Diabound stood up, showing that he still has strength within him. Seeing everyone's look, the albino smirked evilly and bragged, "I'm going to make him even stronger! Ghosts of Kul Elna! Enter my body and give me your power!"

Sitting up on the tablet, Belial raised its scythe and all the ghosts of Kul Elna gathered onto the blade, making it glow red. Then, to everyone's stunned disgust, the damaged Ka swung its scythe around and stabbed Bakura in the back with the blade. But there was no blood from Bakura; instead, the ghosts were transferred directly into Bakura's body and soul through the blade. While Bakura was still physically weak and a bloodied mess, his soul got even more power and, therefore, Diabound grew stronger than ever. Grateful that Yima left him her Ka to help him in this final battle, Bakura yelled in a craze tone, "Kill them, Diabound! Send them to hell!"

What was worrisome about Diabound now was the Ka was not even bothering to hide. While there was some pockets of darkness that Diabound could hide in, the Ka was not even going to try, which could only mean that there were new things to worry about now. Knowing that the best defense was sometimes a strong offense, Mahad quickly flew in and attacked with a thousand more magical blasts. But Belial had one more surprise for them: pointing its scythe at Diabound, it unleashed more spirits that formed a barrier around Diabound, protecting it from Mahad's attacks. But there was a special power with the shield: attacks could not enter but attacks could escape, which was shown when Diabound attacked with its spiral wave attack, knocking Mahad to a nearby pillar and almost knocking Atem out with internal injuries. Now almost insane with power and the taste of his own mortality, Bakura hissed at Mahad, "You'll never return to this world again…this time, I won't leave a piece of you behind!"

Both Mahad and Atem were too weak and injured to do a thing to stop Diabound's attack; even Tarra could not make an electric shield around Mahad because she had limited power left from shielding Atem earlier. But Shada, while weak as well, had more strength than both of them so he started to offer up his Ba and Heka to summon another Ka for protection but Bakura and Belial were not going to let the tattooed priest do that. Belial quickly broke off a piece of its skeletal wing and threw it at Shada as if it was a dagger. The sharp bone hit Shada in the middle of the back, causing him to throw the Sennen Key into the air in surprised pain. As the sharp bone dissolved into nothingness, a ghost grabbed the Sennen Key and brought it to Bakura. Knowing that he was finally winning, he screeched, "Now die, magician!"

Now completely helpless, Shada and Atem could do nothing but watch as Diabound sent an attack towards Mahad. The attack destroyed what was left of the pillar but, to Bakura's surprise, Mahad's body was nowhere to be found. The albino and Atem then heard a female voice say, Hang in there, Master!

The two looked up and saw that Mahad had been picked up by a young, female magical Ka. Atem looked up at one of the holes Mahad made and saw that the owner of the new Ka was Mana, who was there with a few guards. Atem and Bakura then looked at the entrance and saw that the rest of the Royal Court, including Shimon, was there. Everyone was glad that Atem was still alive, even if he was really hurt. Kalim asked Shada if he was all right but Shada did not waste any time: "We need to unite our power…or we'll never defeat Diabound. Its strength is stronger than before!"

Seth looked at Diabound and smirked, ready to kill Bakura. "It's time to fight together with us five surviving priests!"

Atem corrected Seth. "No…all six priests!"

Looking up at Mahad and Mana's Ka, everyone was pleasantly surprised to see their fallen comrade had returned to help them. As Mahad thanked Mana through her Ka, Bakura chuckled insanely. "Well…this day is getting better and better: you've come to me with presents hanging your necks…saving me a lot of trouble. I have two now…and, if I defeat all of you here…I'll have them all…"

Deep down, Bakura knew that he had to hurry since he felt his strength starting to dwindle away. Refusing to let the mad man win, Seth told the albino, "This is it, Bakura! We priests will crush your mad ambitions!"

Allowing Atem and Shada to rest, the three priests summoned their Kas (Seth choosing Duos since he knew the White Dragon was too dangerous to use in such tight quarters) and began their battle with Diabound. Belial wanted to take an active part of the battle but the Ka knew that it was dying after seeing its bone shard dissolve and thus continued to protect the tablet. Atem wanted to take a part in the battle as well, despite Shimon telling him to stay back. Atem also knew that Mahad was very hurt but Mana told her Ka to transfer some of her Heka to her master since her Ka was not battle-ready yet. Overhearing Shimon telling Atem to leave the battle to the priests, Seth had all the Kas dodge Diabound's punch and regroup behind the demonic Ka. But, as their Kas attack, Seth noticed something discouraging: Aknadin was missing. But his attention diverted back to the battle when the Kas' attacks revealed the ghost shield that still surrounded Diabound. Deciding to go after the weak first, Diabound's snake head viciously attacked Isis' Ka, damaging the priestess. The Ka then went after Duos but the Ka easily jumped out of the way. Seth growled in frustration. "Our individual attacks are having no effect on him whatsoever!"

Hearing that, Kalim got an idea. "There is a way! I can use my Sennen Scales to combine two Ka into one."

After getting Seth and Atem's permission, Kalim combined his Ka with Seth's Ka and Mahad, creating the Duos Dragon. Bakura could not believe what he was seeing; up until this point, he had no idea that Kas could be joined. Kalim was confident that this would work. "This is the hidden power of the Sennen Items: the power of unity! A power you'll never have, Bakura!"

Bakura growled at that, knowing that he did have unity when Yima was alive and these wretched people took her and his family away from him. With that reminder, Bakura brushed off Atem's comment that Mahad's magic would double the attack power of the Duos Dragon. "Oh, really? I'll show you! Against Diabound, it doesn't matter how many of you there are! He'll crush you like the worms you are!"

Getting more infuriated by the second, Seth had the Duos Dragon attack with its Dragon Flame. While Bakura knew he could have simply blocked the attack with the ghost shield, he knew there was no fun in that so he had Diabound attack with its Spiral Wave attack. To everyone's surprise, the two attacks were equal in strength. Refusing to admit defeat, especially when he was so close to winning, Bakura decided that, if the Royal Court could fuse their Kas, he could fuse Diabound's two attacks. With the Spiral Wave and Thunder Force attacks now hitting Duos Dragon's attack, the flame attack started to be pushed back. As the combined attacks came close to hitting the fused Ka, Seth's mind raced and came to the only conclusion that presented itself: cancelling its own attack, Duos Dragon used its sword and own arm to block the blast. Seth knew this was very risky as the pain made itself known almost immediately in Seth's arms but this was the only way. "Kalim, we have no choice! Attack Diabound when I sacrifice my arm!"

Kalim wanted to protest Seth's decision but, like Seth, the muscular priest knew this was the only way. The Duos Dragon moved out of the way, sacrificing its arm and giving Seth an immense amount of pain, and attacked Diabound again. Knowing that he would not have the same luck twice, Bakura had the ghosts shield Diabound again. "Weep, priests! Weep for your useless 'unity!'" Off everyone's determined faces, Bakura laughed and said, "How many times do I have to tell you? You can't--"

He stopped short, seeing the ghost shield starting to melt away. The thief king could not believe it since the shield was fueled by the ghosts' hatred, which should have been limitless. Knowing that it was their faith in each other and in the Pharaoh, Kalim was determined to keep attacking until they finally broke through the barrier. But Bakura peeked at Belial, who nodded. The genderless Ka broke off another bone from its wing and threw it at Kalim, hitting him in the chest and causing him to drop the Sennen Scales. A ghost immediately grabbed the Scales and gave it to Bakura. Thanks to the villain having the Scales, the Duos Dragon separated into the three individual Kas. Atem went to Kalim, catching him before the priest could fall to the ground, and started to check on him, only to watch Kalim die from lack of energy and from the bone shard in his chest. Seeing Atem's look and imagining how the Pharaoh's look was when he discovered Tima dying, Bakura laughed in insane glee. "So much for unity! How does it feel to hold someone else's corpse in your hands, Pharaoh?! But don't despair! All I have to is have my invincible Diabound send you to hell and reunite you with your bitch of a wife and pup of a son!"

Lowering Kalim down to the ground, Atem stood up, now more determined than ever with the bodies piling up. "It won't be that easy to kill me." Seeing Bakura confused, Atem just commented, "Take a look."

Bakura looked at the ghost shield and could not believe it: there was a hole in the shield. Atem hissed, "Bakura…the power of our unity broke through your shadows. The Dark Magician has been waiting for this moment…"

Bakura paled at this, seeing Mahad racing towards the hole in the shield. He thought that he had nothing left but Belial had one last trick up its sleeve. Gathering all its remaining strength into the blade of its scythe, turning it black, the damaged Ka stabbed the ground with its weapon and yelled a single command. Before anyone could react, the ghost shield rapidly closed in on Mahad, trapping him and keeping Diabound safe, and the blackness spreads towards the Royal Court, popping out of the cracks in the floor as black hands and grabbing everyone, keeping them from moving. Tarra and Itami tried to fly towards Bakura but they were grabbed by two black hands as well. All but dead with that final move, Belial looked at Bakura and told him, You can win…the last move…is yours…

Bakura smirked before coughing up blood. He knew that he was on the verge of dying thanks to the battle and the ghosts entering his body. As Diabound started to fade because of its host dying, Bakura started to crawl towards the tablet, refusing to be defeated. But he and the rest of the Royal Court looked towards the entrance when they heard the sound of footsteps coming towards them. To everyone's surprise, it was Aknadin, unaffected by Belial's spell. As the eldest priest went towards Seth, Atem asked, "Aknadin, what are you doing?"

Appearing to be in a daze, Aknadin took the Sennen Rod from Seth and murmured, "Great Pharaoh…the time has come…"

As he took Isis's necklace, Seth hissed, "Aknadin! What the hell are you doing?! How dare you betray the Pharaoh!"

Aknadin moved over to Atem and looked the Pharaoh in the eyes as he removed the Sennen Pendent. "It is time for a new order…one that began with the final drink of the mudblood heir…"

With that, Aknadin turned and started to move to the tablet. While the eldest priest did, everyone paled at what Aknadin said, the two phoenixes screeched in anger, and Atem immediately remembered Heba's final riddle: "'What you can show but you can't see." The Pharaoh was suddenly and sickeningly hit with the answer: you can show murder but you can't see the murderer. The only people who knew how Heba was killed besides the victim and the murdered were Kiko, Tikali, Seth, and Atem. So, for Aknadin to know that Heba was poisoned by a drink, there was only one logical conclusion as Atem's eyes narrowed to slits and his blood began to boil again. "Aknadin! So it was you who murdered my son!"

Aknadin started to put the Sennen Items into their proper slots, leaving his Sennen Eye for last. As he did, he stated, "His death was necessary for the new order to begin…"

Seth was equally furious. While he and the Royal Court knew that Aknadin was never happy with Tima and her children, they never thought he would stoop so low as to murder the crowned prince of Khment. The High Priest growled, "Aknadin, how dare you betray the Pharaoh like this!"

Standing up at the tablet, Aknadin gripped the Sennen Rod and murmured, "I am innocent of sullying the kingdom with a tainted bloodline. For the greater good…sacrifices must be made."

He then looked at Bakura, who looked uncomfortable about the mention of sacrifices for the greater good but he then focused on the positive. The albino was glad that his attack on Aknadin at the Wedju Shrine worked, especially since his gut feeling about the eldest priest was right; he remembered that Aknadin was the only one who answered when Yima suggested that there was someone on the Royal Court who wanted the throne, thus drawing more attention towards himself than he meant. Still trapped by Belial's power, Bakura stated with a voice that started to gain more confidence, "We can destroy the Pharaoh…you and I…we can do it!"

Aknadin suddenly pulled the Rod into two pieces, revealing a dagger that was hidden in the main part of the Sennen Rod. "The evil god needs a sacrifice…"

Bakura looked at Atem, believing that Aknadin would sacrifice Atem to finish the slaughter of the royal family. But Belial noticed that Aknadin was looking at Bakura and, more specifically, his throat. The demonic Ka tried to reach for Aknadin but, in its dying state, it could not stop what happened: the betrayer stabbed Bakura in the throat. The albino froze in stunned silence, especially when Aknadin whispered so that only Bakura could hear him, "Kul Elna is no more…and, once again…by my hand…"

Bakura could not believe what he said as he collapsed to his knees, coughing up blood. As he collapsed onto the tablet, he watched Belial dissolve into nothing but he then got a surprise: Yima appeared before him and shook her head before telling him, Follow my lead…

Watching as Yima put a portion of her soul into the ruby pendant, Bakura choked to death but not before doing the same with the Sennen Ring. Unaware of the soul transfer, Aknadin kicked Bakura's body off the tablet, knowing that the split blood was more than enough. With Belial gone, the Royal Court and phoenixes wanted to stop Aknadin but, to their horror, the black powers continued to hold them tight. He then removed his Sennen Eye and slowly lowered it until it was fit into its slot. Having completed the ritual, the eldest priest lifted his arms and hands in worship and said loudly, "Sennen Items! Become the Key to Victory! Resurrect the Great Evil God! Come to me, Zorc Necrophades!"

The Sennen Items glowed bright until their bright lights revealed a dark circle in the air. Everyone correctly assumed that it was a portal that led to a world of darkness but there was something that worried them: what was waiting for them beyond the portal? They then paled at what appeared in the portal: a huge black demonic head with red eyes that seemed to pierce the soul at everyone it gazed upon, curved horns on either side of its head, and four horns on its face, two at the top and two on either side of its mouth, which was nothing but sharp teeth like swords. Atem felt a shiver go down his spine and, for a moment, he wondered if this was the Evil One that Tima never talked about from her faith. The Pharaoh then shook his head in shock. 'Aknadin…what have you done?'

The demonic head known as Zorc Necrophades looked down at Aknadin and demanded with a demonic, booming voice that froze everyone else's voice, Who awakens me? Who desires the power of the shadows?

In awe at the appearance of his new master, Aknadin bowed down to one knee and hissed that it was he who wanted the powers. Zorc stared at Aknadin, looking deep into his soul. With the forbidden treasures, you opened the door to darkness and unleashed me and my power onto this tiny world…and you wish to receive a piece of my power? Such a power that will blacken the skies and reduce men to dust?

Atem and the Royal Court wanted to tell Aknadin to not accept Zorc's offer but Aknadin eagerly accepted the offer. Zorc's evil eyes glittered with an evil glint. Ah yes…Priest Aknadin…I knew you would come here to complete the dark contract you forged with me…for you are the creator of the Sennen Items!

Everyone was shocked to hear that it was Aknadin who created the Sennen Items and, therefore, was the mastermind behind the Kul Elna Slaughter. But what was equally sickening was Aknadin's statement: "Yes…all was according to your will, Lord Zorc…ever since you spoke to me the translations of the Millennium Tome."

Remembering that the Millennium Tome was a legendary spell-book of dark alchemy that no one had ever been able to translate, Atem paled at the realization that Aknadin had been willingly manipulated by Zorc from years ago all leading up to this point where he would betray everyone and side with the darkness. 'But why?' Atem wondered. 'Why betray your people…your gods…your home?! Why?!'

With their voices still frozen from the overwhelming power of Zorc, they could not stop Aknadin as Zorc opened his mouth, revealing a dark energy ball, and said, Aknadin…I give you my power! Become the slave of my soul and rule the world!

Just as the Royal Court and phoenixes found their voices again, it was too late: Zorc's evil energy blessed Aknadin and transformed from head to toe. When the blessing ceremony was complete, everyone could not believe what they were seeing: Aknadin was no more; instead, there was a demonic High Priest of Darkness in his place. His face was covered with a white mask with a small red section around his left eye where the Sennen Eye was supposed to be. His hair had grown long, down to his knees, and wild. But what was equally frightening was his new priestly robes. His tan, simple priestly outfit was replace a black outfit that combined that of a priest and a warrior. The bottom half was that of a priestly robe but the top half was made of metal, as if designed to repel magic. Covering his entire chest and arms so that no skin was visible, his shirt was covered with metal plates that were accentuated by his high shoulder guards. In the center of his neck that was covered in a choker was the Sennen Eye, almost as if mocking his previous commitment to the Royal Court. After taking a moment to marvel at the blessing his god gave him, the Dark Priest took the Sennen Eye and put it back in his eye socket before turning back to the Royal Court. "'Great Pharaoh'…the Sennen Eye will soon watch you writhe in agony until you die…you'll soon be with your bitch of a servant and your mudblood of a son."

Growling at the Dark Priest's insults towards his deceased family, Atem then heard Zorc demand Aknadin to move out of the way so he could burn everyone to ashes. Everyone wanted to defend themselves but they were still trapped by the hands of darkness. The Dark Priest stepped towards Seth and said almost to himself, "Now I must take my leave…but first…"

The Dark Priest grabbed Seth by the shirt, breaking the dark hand of power, and disappeared with the High Priest. Itami screeched at her guardian disappearing as the rest of the Royal Court were let go from the dark hands. But there was a reason why they were set free: Zorc wanted to destroy them himself with his inferno attack. With nowhere to run and not enough strength to summon a Ka protect themselves, the Royal Court could do nothing but wait for their death as Zorc launched his inferno attack from his mouth. But, to the evil god and everyone's surprise, the attack was being blocked by something. Atem looked up and his heart both broke and soared: it was Seraphita who was blocking the attack with her shield. The Royal Court was stunned that Tima's Ka was still around to help them, especially when the attack disappeared and Zorc saw that the only thing he hit was Seraphita's shield. Tarra was the first to ask: How is this possible?

The angelic Ka stared down the evil god as she spoke directly to Atem's mind. My Pharaoh…before Queen Tima gave her final energy to protect Khment from her wicked sister and her Ka Belial, she had one last request for me: she told me that, when the time came, I should return to protect you. This is Queen Tima's gift to you: my help to help you save this world from the evil god who wants to turn it into darkness.

Zorc glared down at the female Ka and hissed, You who guard the Pharaoh…to live through my hellfire, you must be a spirit from the afterworld.

Seraphita said nothing, believing that he did not deserve an answer from her. Infuriated, Zorc launched another inferno attack, which Seraphita blocked with her shield. Sensing that this attack would last longer than the previous, she told Atem, Go! I'll keep him back as long as I can! You need to regroup and gather strength!

Atem nodded and he and Tarra led the Royal Court and the few guards out of the underground temple as Seraphita continued to block the attack. Once outside, the guards took over caring for Marik as Atem got to his horse and told Isis and Shimon, "Go and gather what guards and Scorpion Warriors we can find. We need to be ready for when Zorc comes."

Sadly agreeing that there was no way to stop Zorc from crossing from the darkness into their world, Shimon nodded but Isis asked, "Where will you be, my Pharaoh? We need you."

Atem looked at Isis and answered, "And I will be there for the battle. But first…I need to find Seth." With that, he and the phoenixes raced back towards the palace, having a feeling that the palace was a good place to start.

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