Ripples

Battle

Waking up with a start, Seth clutched his head in pain. When the Dark Priest grabbed him, Seth was hit with painful memories: hearing that his father was killed, the destruction of his village and the death of his mother, the death of Kisara, Tikali's kidnapping, and her brush with death after giving birth to Mesu. Being hit with the negative memories all at once knocked him out for a short time. Shaking his head to clear his mind, he looked up and saw, to his surprise, he was back at the palace and Aknadin was nowhere to be found. Struggling to stand, he heard a female voice call out his name, making him look up. Tikali was running towards him and he gently grabbed her arms. "Tikali! It's not safe here!"

Just as surprised that he was back and alone, Tikali became alarmed at how shaken he seemed. "Seth, what's going on? Where's the rest of the Royal Court?"

Knowing that he had to find Aknadin and get back to the Royal Court somehow, Seth shook his head. "I have no time to explain! You need to go into hiding!"

She shook her head. "I can help you. I might not be able to fight but I can do something."

Seth shook his head again more urgently. "No, Tikali! This is too dangerous! You need to take the boys and hide!"

As if on cue, Mesu and Noa ran up to them. For a moment, Seth thanked Ra that Mesu offered to stay behind and protect the palace. Mesu asked, "Father, what's going on?"

Noa kept his eyes on the sky and noted, "Dark clouds are starting to gather…something's very wrong."

Seth was about to tell his family to run when the earth started to shake and the palace started to crumble. Seeing that their sons were understanding the danger, Seth looked at them and ordered them, "Take your mother and find a safe place to hide!"

Tikali wanted to stay, even as her sons started to drag her away. "Seth, wait! There's something I must tell you!"

Seth turned around to try and find Aknadin; he believed that Tikali would tell him whatever it was she wanted to tell him when this war was over. As he opened his mind to let Itami know where he was, he felt the earth shake more violently and stayed as still as possible so he could keep standing. But his blood went cold when he heard Tikali scream his name. He turned around just in time to see rubble fall on and bury his family. Screaming in sadness, he tried to get to them but more rubble fell, blocking his path. When the earthquake finally stopped, he stared at the pile of rubble, stunned. In a single moment, he lost his entire family; the weight of his depression made him fall to his knees. He shook his head in shock before lowering his head. "Tikali…Mesu…Noa…"

Because of his sadness, he almost did not hear the Dark Priest approach him from behind and stand next to him. Too depressed to remember that the Dark Priest was a traitor, Seth murmured to himself, "Gone…my family…all gone…"

While the Dark Priest was happy that Tikali and her sons were dead because he believed they were not worthy of Seth, he still knew how upset Seth was. "To witness such a tragedy…fate sometimes does not smile kindly…"

Seth almost collapsed but his hands propped him up. Why did fate have to deal him such a cruel situation? Was fate not satisfied with just taking his first love Kisara? Why did fate have to steal his two children and the light and love of his life, Tikali? Did the gods want him to suffer even more? The Dark Priest looked at Seth and said, "I know how it feels to lose a loved one…my wife was my sun as well…"

Seth stood up, feeling the tears fall, and started to walk to the rubble pile. While he could not bring back his family, he could at least see to it that they get proper burials. But he paused when he heard the Dark Priest say, "At least you're still alive…that is a blessing."

Seth growled and turned around to confront the Dark Priest but another earthquake, smaller but still significant, started, causing him to focus more on having stable footing. Looking around as the palace started to crumble again, the Dark Priest leaned his head back with glee. "The palace is about to disappear beneath the earth. With the awakening of Zorc Necrophades, all will be purified and a new world of shadows will be born!"

As the earthquake stopped, Seth growled, "Not if I can stop it."

Whispering for forgiveness as he needed to fight before burying his family, he turned to find a horse that would take him back to Kul Elna but he froze at the Dark Priest's next statement: "I will make you king of the world of shadows…my son."

Seth felt his heart skip a beat: the Dark Priest Aknadin, a man who used to be his mentor and who was now a murderous traitor, was his father? Seeing that he now had Seth's attention, Aknadin revealed the long-kept secret: "The old Pharaoh Aknamkanon was my older brother. You know what that means, Seth? Royal blood flows in your veins."

Seth could not believe it. He was royalty? The Dark Priest told Seth, "The Pharaoh is our enemy as light is to the shadows and, with the shadow powers now awakened, a new age will be born! Join me! Kill the Pharaoh and rule over this world!"

Though his mind was riddled with shock and grief, Seth knew that joining the dark side was not the answer and turned to answer. "Even if you were my father, I will never sell my soul to the darkness!"

The Dark Priest was stunned that Seth did not join his side with the revelation of their family ties. "Why, my son?! With the power of the Sennen Rod, you could use the power of the White Dragon that white wench left you and become king!"

Seth growled at that. It was bad enough that the man who used to be his father did not care about his current family but he crossed the line with insulting Kisara like that. But he calmed his anger down, knowing that he could not let his anger control him because it would lead to his defeat as it almost did with Atem. On top of everything else, however, he also felt torn: he hated the Dark Priest with every fiber in his being because of his traitorous actions but, if Aknadin was really his father and even if that was a lie, Seth still owed the elder priest a lot. Were it not for his training in combat and studies, Seth would have not become the man and priest he was. He then made a decision: he owed Aknadin a lot, not this creature that stood before him, and he would live with the story that his mother told him when he was growing up. Praying for Tikali and Kisara to protect him in this battle, Seth looked at the Dark Priest and told him sternly, "You are not my Father. The best part of him died long ago…when he gave his life bravely on the battlefield." He then peeked at the rubble pile that covered his family. "Besides…who cares about power? I was given something even more precious than power…and you took her away from me."

The Dark Priest felt his anger grow. It was insulting that Seth was refusing to join him but it was rubbing salt in his wound that Seth was still hung up on Tikali, a woman whom the Dark Priest thought his son was wasting his time on. Growling in his anger, electricity shot from the Dark Priest's hands, damaging the land around him. "Very well…I will make you accept my offer!"

His fury growing as well, Seth summoned the White Dragon, ready to do what was necessary. "Aknadin! Once you were my master but, now that you serve the evil one, you are nothing but my enemy!"

The Dark Priest felt like Seth stabbed him in the heart with cutting the ties in such a way. Wanting to give his son one more chance, the Dark Priest told him, "Seth, I have gained the power of the shadows…not even your White Dragon can defeat me!"

Refusing to let the darkness win, Seth hissed, "For the first and last time, I will rebel and defeat you!"

With that, the White Dragon started to attack but the Dark Priest's Sennen Eye glowed brightly, causing the White Dragon to freeze, as if it was frozen in terror. Seth was about to summon Duos when the Dark Priest attacked the White Dragon and the High Priest himself with the dark lightning. Hearing Seth scream, the Dark Priest hissed, "The pain you feel will reveal your true path! Let the illusions that the Pharaoh instilled in you be destroyed along with your precious Ka!"

As the White Dragon was destroyed, Seth collapsed to his knees in pain. Seeing this, the Dark Priest ceased the lightening and approached Seth as if to comfort his injured son. But, as soon as he was close enough, Seth pulled out his hidden dagger and stabbed the Dark Priest in the chest. "Stay away from me…you monster…"

The Dark Priest looked down at Seth and knew that there was now only one way to make Seth Pharaoh now…

---

Finally arriving at the palace, Atem looked up at Itami and asked, "Can you sense Seth?"

Itami was about to say that she knew exactly where he was when the skies were pierced with a horrified scream, making Atem and the two phoenixes look up in surprise. Itami then chirped in concern. Pharaoh, I've lost him! It's like something has blocked me from him!

Tarra looked at Itami and asked, Where did you last sense him? We'll check there first.

Itami told her that she sensed him in the courtyard and Tarra passed on the message to Atem, who guided his horse through the rubble of the palace towards the courtyard. To their relief, Seth was still there, standing in front of the White Dragon stone tablet. But their relief turned to fear when Seth started to talk: "Such a tragedy…the palace has fallen, you've lost your family…without your wealth and power, you are a naked Pharaoh."

Itami flew over to Seth and demanded, Seth, what's wrong?! What's going on with you?!

To everyone's shock, Seth backhanded Itami to the ground, knocking her out. Silence, you flying rat!

Atem could not believe what he saw: while he and Itami did not get along from time to time, Seth would never hit his phoenix like that. As Tarra went to help Itami, the Pharaoh's sense that something was very wrong grew when Seth barked with a demonic laugh, "Pharaoh! I will defeat you here and win the crown of the Kingdom!"

Atem yelled at Seth, "Seth, snap out of it! The High Priest of Darkness is still out there! We need to--!" He then stopped as he looked into Seth's eyes. Seeing how glazed and demented Seth's blue eyes appeared, Atem figured it out: the Dark Priest was possessing Seth. Knowing that he needed to save his friend and comrade, he told himself, "Seth…I will save you."

Just as Atem suspected, the Dark Priest was standing over Seth in Seth's soul room. Believing that he was winning the war, the Dark Priest took off his white mask, revealing his corpse-like face. Seth could have easily taken control again and dispelled the Dark Priest but the shock from learning the traitor was his father and the depression from losing his entire family weighed heavily on his mind and heart. The Dark Priest grinned with insanity, knowing that his greatest victory was very close and that his wish to have his son on the throne was very close to coming true. Using Seth as a puppet, the Dark Priest summoned the White Dragon from the tablet. Knowing that he had no choice, Atem summoned Mahad from Kul Elna to battle for Seth's soul. But Atem knew this was a big risk since he and Mahad were weak from the battle with Bakura and, while Seth was a little low on Ba, the Dark Priest and the White Dragon itself were at full power. Still, the Pharaoh was willing to do anything to get his friend back. Hearing Mahad think the same thing about how weak they were, Atem told him to aim his attack at the stone tablet instead of the White Dragon itself. Grinning in his possessed nature, Seth ordered, "White Dragon! Attack the Pharaoh's servant!"

Not wanting to be the last to attack, Mahad attacked at the same time as the White Dragon, aiming for the stone tablet. After launching his attack, the magician dodged the dragon's attack but he and Atem froze when Seth sneered, "Attacking the stone tablet…but you're too slow."

When Mahad moved out of the way, the attack went straight for his stone tablet and hit its target first, cutting off Mahad's link to the real world and making the magician and the magician's attack disappear. The Dark Priest laughed through Seth. "Such a pitiful king! You now have naught but the clothes on your back!"

Atem glared at the Dark Priest inside Seth, who took a few steps forward to marvel in his victory. "Prepare yourself, son of my cursed brother! All my years of hatred for your father and your sullied family are coming towards you in this next blow and will kill you!"

Atem knew that talking to the Dark Priest was a waste of time so he looked deep into Seth's eyes and said in a loud and strong voice, "Seth…can you hear me? Even if you defeat me…you can never become a true king as long as you are ruled by the darkness! Take what light I have left! Kill me and reunite me with my family if you have to, but take it! And ask yourself: what kind of king are you? In the prison of your soul, do you shine with the pride that your family and I have come to expect of you?!"

Seth looked up a little, thinking of Tikali and his sons. How would they react to seeing him like this? Ignoring Atem's words, the Dark Priest looked at the White Dragon through Seth's eyes and ordered, "White Dragon! Kill the Pharaoh!"

But the White Dragon did not attack, shocking the Dark Priest to no end. "Why won't you obey me and attack?!"

As if answering the Dark Priest, the Ka started to fade away; the dragon even faded away from the stone tablet. Inside Seth's mind, The Dark Priest took another step forward in shock. He tried to comprehend what happened when a light started to appear in front of him. "What…what is this light?!"

The light grew brighter and brighter until the Dark Priest finally had to shield his eyes in protection. When he looked again, the light was not in front of him but he could tell that the light was behind him with Seth. He turned around and he froze in shock. Seth was being comforted by two figures of light. He was leaning his head against the glowing body of Tikali, who had her arms around him while glaring at Aknadin. Above the two was Kisara with her white hair flowing. Kisara looked down at Seth and told him, Seth…you must not be captured by the shadows.

Tikali held him tightly and kissed his forehead. We will protect you from this evil.

Seth leaned more into Tikali before the two of them disappeared, leaving Kisara behind to take care of Aknadin in the form of the White Dragon.

---

Seth woke up with a start. Hearing Atem call out to him, the High Priest looked around, trying to figure out what happened when he suddenly remember. 'That's right…my Father chose to follow the darkness and dragged my soul down with him…and…Kisara…Tikali…you two saved me with your light.'

As Itami was starting to regain consciousness, Atem went to Seth and helped him stand. "Are you all right?"

Remembering what he lost, Seth lowered his head. "No…I lost everything…"

Atem looked at the rubble and noticed something that made him smile softly. "Maybe not."

Seth looked at Atem, confused, until the Pharaoh pointed to the rubble pile. The High Priest looked and saw a few stones move. He felt his heart get hopeful and then soar when the rubble was blown away, revealing Celestia. Once the Ka saw that things were safe, she disappeared to reveal that Tikali and the boys were all right. His eyes widening, Seth went to his family and held them close, letting his tears of joy flow. For a few moments, he was alone but he now had his lights back. Mesu and Noa held their parents, grateful that Tikali called out Celestia before the rubble could crush them; they once again owed her their lives. Tikali sniffled a little and smiled when she heard Celestia tell her from her heart, Everyone has a beginning and an end…and God is not done with you just yet.

Atem felt a little jealous watching Seth: Seth was able to keep his family while Atem lost all but one member of his. After kissing Tikali deeply, Seth asked, "Are you all right?"

Tikali nodded. "Yes…yes, all four of us are all right."

Seth was about to check on his sons when he paused and looked at Tikali. "What did you say?"

Noa chuckled. "Mother, I think you need to tell him now."

Mesu nodded quickly, having wanted to tell Seth ever since he and his younger brother learned the news. Blushing a little, Tikali looked at Seth and told him, "Seth…I'm pregnant."

Seth looked at Tikali in shock. Was this what Tikali wanted to tell him before she was almost killed? That she was carrying his third child? Even Itami was shocked as she had not been around Tikali enough to notice the second soul in Tikali's stomach. Seeing his look, she explained, "I wanted to tell you sooner but, with Bakura attacking…"

As if on cue, another earthquake started, alerting Atem. "Seth, we need to go. There's still a war to be won."

Seth woke up from his shock and nodded. After coming close to losing everything, the High Priest had to make sure that the darkness did not win, for the sake of his wife and children. Kissing Tikali again, he touched her stomach and told her. "Go…I will be back soon."

Tikali nodded and smiled. "Together forever…be safe."

With that, she and her boys left to find a place to hide as Seth watched them until they were out of sight. Taking a deep breath, the High Priest felt Itami perch herself on his shoulder and turned back to Atem, who reassured his friend, "Your family shall be safe. The servants will make sure of that."

Seth nodded. "Thank you…for everything."

Atem let Tarra get on his shoulder before mounting his horse. "Don't thank me just yet. We still have to save our kingdom."

Seth nodded in agreement as Atem held out his hand to Seth. The High Priest was about to get on the horse when he noticed Aknadin's Sennen Eye laying on the ground. Not wanting it to fall into the wrong hands, Seth took the Eye and put it in one of the horse's pouches before getting on the horse with Atem. They then rushed back to the battle with their phoenixes following them in the air.

---

Moments later, Atem, Seth, and their phoenixes came upon a hilltop that was just outside of the kingdom where their phoenixes had spotted everyone gathering. As a guard went to them and took the horse's reins, Atem and Seth jumped off the horse and started to walk to the edge of the hill. They walked through palace guards, nervous but ready to do their duty, and what remained of the Scorpion Warriors, determined to avenge their fallen princess. A few guards were working on catapults and some Scorpion Warriors were making spears so that they could help out in the battle. When they finally walked through everyone, they approached Isis and Shada, all that was left of the Royal Court, Jouno with Earthzina, and Scorpio. Seeing that both of them were all right, Jouno nodded to them and commented, "We're here for you, my Pharaoh."

Scorpio agreed and peeked back at his clan before turning back to Atem. "Yes, Great Pharaoh. We will join you in this fight…all of us."

Shada and Isis nodded and looked out to the horizon. Coming from Kul Elna was a humongous black shape that they assumed was Zorc Necrophades. Even from a distance, everyone could see how big the demon was and that made them nervous. But they knew better than to take off running: not only were they the only lines of defense for Khment but they vowed to help Atem in any and all battles. Looking at the demon, Seth hissed, "If only we had the Sennen Items with us…"

Atem did not say anything because he was not sure if he wanted the Sennen Items around since they were used to open the door that led Zorc into their world in the first place. Just then, everyone heard a familiar voice call out to Atem. The Pharaoh and Royal Court look behind them and saw Mana running up to them carrying most of the Sennen Items in her arms. Atem looked at Mana in surprise. "Mana, what are you doing?"

As the Royal Court took their respected Sennen Items, Mana looked up, revealing a few tears, and explained, "I heard my master calling me to the Items…saying that you would need them."

Gripping his Sennen Rod, Seth asked, "Where are the Sennen Pendant and Ring?"

Mana was about to answer when they heard a familiar trill behind Atem. The Pharaoh looked behind him and was surprised to see the smallest Ka in front of him, holding the Sennen Pendant. Nodding his thanks, Atem took the Pendant and commented to Mana, "Very interesting of you to call for this little one."

Mana wiped her eyes and admitted, "I didn't…I think…the prince did…"

Atem was about to ask why Mana thought that when he was hit with a flashback: Heba was able to touch the smallest Ka, revealing his magic when he was young. Burying the sting, the Pharaoh put back on the Sennen Pendant but froze when Mana admitted, "But…I could not find the Sennen Ring…"

Seth was about to yell at Mana for not looking hard enough but Atem stopped him. "We will look for it later. We have more pressing matters."

Seth nodded and everyone turned to look at what was approaching. They could not believe it: Zorc looked to be the same size, if not bigger, than Obelisk. What was even more frightening than his size was how he looked; his demonic head was the least frightening part of him. Having large bat-like wings on his back, he also had a large appendage between his legs that was in the shape of a terrifying dragon. Jouno put on his DiaDhank and said, "We have a difficult battle ahead of us…"

Seth looked at the blond. "Feel free to go back and be with Kiko if that is what you want."

Jouno was about to yell at Seth for suggesting that but he saw that Seth was being sincere. Smirking a little, the Head of the Guard commented, "Better two dragons than one."

Seth nodded in agreement as Earthzina nuzzled her guardian. I promised Kiko that I would return you to her…and I will.

As the High Priest looked at the guards who were manning the catapults, Atem felt a light touch on his shoulder. He looked up and saw that it was Seraphita, who smiled softly. I will be here to protect you…at my Mistress' request.

Atem smiled softly and looked back at Zorc, who was now dangerously close to them. Sensing everyone's uneasiness, Shimon reminded everyone, "If we don't defeat this evil god, the world will be covered in shadows. Our lives and the lives of all those living and who will be born will be sacrificed to the never-ending darkness and evil."

Seeing that he was close enough, Seth ordered the guards to launch the catapults. The guards obeyed, launching boulders towards the large demon. At the same time, the Scorpion Warriors launched their spears at Scorpio's orders. But the weapons never hit the target; in fact, the boulders and spears were reduced to dust as soon as they got close enough, as if Zorc's very aura was poisonous to everyone and everything. Seeing that conventional weapons were not going to work on the demon, the Royal Court and Jouno knew what to do. Seth called forth the White Dragon, Isis summoned Spiria, Atem summoned Mahad to fight alongside Mana's Ka and Seraphita, and Jouno summoned his Black Dragon. Shada wanted to summon his Ka but knew that he was still very weak from battling Zorc and Belial in the underground temple. Looking down at the Kas and humans, Zorc laughed a laugh that shuddered the earth. You dare go up against me with these pathetic creatures? I can easily snuff them out as easily as you snuff out a candle.

Knowing that Mahad and himself were still weak, Atem was still determined to finish this battle to keep the world from plunging into darkness, even if it meant battling to the death. Thankfully, Mana had plenty of energy and magic to spare so she had her Ka gave some to Mahad to keep him disappearing right away. With the magical renewal, Mahad and Mana's Ka decided to make the first attack on the dark god. To everyone's surprise, the combination of the two attacks was the most powerful magical attack anyone had ever seen. But their hopes were dashed when the smoke cleared and Zorc was still there without even a mark on him. Hissing a little with insane glee, the evil god whispered, My turn…

Moving his right hand to the side, Zorc used his powers to knock everyone away by simply moving his hand across the air above them. The guards and Scorpion Warriors were blown away, some dying instantly from the power. Seraphita moved in front of the Royal Court to protect them but she was still pushed back a little from the amount of evil that hit her. Seeing this and assuming that she would be destroyed, Shada raced to the Pharaoh and became a human shield. However, doing so made the priest get a brush of Zorc's power because of the power that coiled around Seraphita's shield. When the attack ceased, Shada collapsed and Atem caught him, lowering him to the ground. "Shada! No!"

Shada looked up at the Pharaoh and weakly smiled. "Farewell…my Pharaoh…"

As the tattooed priest died, Atem could feel his heart breaking. He wanted to summon the gods to battle Zorc but he knew that he did not have enough energy to summon one. Standing up, Scorpio noticed that Zorc had summoned an army of skeletal demonic warriors to take care of the few guards and Scorpion Warriors who remained. Because the army came from Zorc, the Head of the Scorpion Warriors believed that attacking the army was a suicidal move but he owed Atem so much so he bowed his head to Atem. "Allow me, my Pharaoh…my clan and I can take care of these creatures."

Looking at Scorpio, Atem nodded so Scorpio unsheathed his sword and led the guards and Scorpion Warriors towards the army of the dead. Mahad, Seraphita, Mana's Ka, and the phoenixes helped out with the demonic warriors, especially when the warriors revealed that they could fly. As he watched the three Ka work together, Jouno got an idea and looked at Seth. "Seth! You and I have the last powerful Kas left! We need to combine their attacks!"

Seth was about to point out that their Kas could not be combined since Kalim, the only one who could wield the Sennen Scales, was dead but he then realized what Jouno said: they would combine their attacks, not their Kas. Seth nodded and looked at the White Dragon. 'This may work…'

Seeing Seth's nod, Jouno ordered his Black Dragon to attack with its flare attack. Seeing that the Black Dragon's attack was heading towards Zorc, Seth told his White Dragon, "White Dragon! Attack Zorc and banish him back to the dark!"

The White Dragon attacked the Black Dragon's attack, combining the two attacks into one fiery, electrical attack, hitting Zorc right in the middle of his chest. While Zorc did flinch a little, the flinch was as small as a human's flinch to a pinch. The two men were able to tell their Kas to attack again but Zorc's second dragon head attacked the two dragons, destroying them and damaging their guardians. Jouno passed out since he was not trained to handle Ka battles while Seth was knocked to the ground, extremely weak. As Itami and Earthzina left the battle to tend to their guardians, Shimon looked around, especially when many guards and Scorpion Warriors were killed by the army of the dead, and knew that there was one move that could work. He turned to Isis and told her, "Isis, your Ka alone can't turn the tide of this battle so give the rest of your Ba to the Pharaoh."

As Isis transferred some of her life energy to the Pharaoh, Shimon looked down at Shada. Very few people knew that Shada was Shimon's protégé and, as the original owner, Shimon was the one who gave Shada the Sennen Key. Kneeling down, he gave Shada the respect he deserved in his death before taking up the Sennen Key. He was about to do something that he vowed he would never do again. "Great Pharaoh! Leave this to me!"

Atem looked at Shimon, about to ask what he was about to do, when Shimon ripped off his mask, revealing an old but determined man with a white beard on his face. The Pharaoh was stunned as he had never seen Shimon without his mask, remembering that his majordomo explained when the Pharaoh was a child that the mask was a reminder of a vow he made years earlier. Now it was time to break the vow: holding up the Sennen Key, Shimon chanted the spell mentally (as he did not want anyone else to use the monster he was about to summon as it was extremely dangerous). 'Forbidden God of the Palace! Five Sacred Parts sealed into stone slabs! I now release you…Defend us in our hour of need!' Verbally, Shimon called, "I summon you! Exodia!"

In response to hearing the sealed words, five lights came towards the battle ground from the Wedju Shrine and joined together into a large demi-god Ka that appeared to be the same size as Zorc. Brownish-gold in color, its limbs had shackles, as if it broke out of its prison, and the head looked like a Pharaoh's crown with a small mask that outlined the chin and eyes. The rest of the face appeared to be rotting away, as if Exodia was the body of a deceased Pharaoh that took up armor to continue defending the kingdom. Atem and the Royal Court stared at the Ka in awe, having heard legends about the Ka that could only be summoned by Shimon. The guards celebrated the fact that Exodia was there, for they knew the legend of Exodia being so powerful that it defeated a thousand armies in a single night. Praying that he would be forgiven for breaking his vow, Shimon said in a strong voice, "Exodia the Forbidden One! Burn our foes with the fire of your rage!"

Hearing the order to attack, Exodia used its fiery attack to wipe out the entire undead army. Remember how Heba's Ka was unable to tell the difference between friend and foe and assuming that Exodia was the same, the guards and Scorpion Warriors lowered themselves to the ground, saving their lives. With the undead army wiped out, Shimon told Zorc to aim his next attack at Zorc and the demi-god obeyed. Everyone watched as Zorc's attack hit Zorc and covered the demon with flames. But Zorc remained standing so Exodia continued to attack him with his fire, not letting up. Everyone kept their eyes on Zorc, not realizing that Shimon was including his soul and his anger to power up Exodia's attack; the old man just hoped that he had enough energy in his soul to do away with the demon. But Zorc surprised everyone. No fire on Earth can light my darkness…now see my power!

The demon sent a line of power towards Exodia, splitting the fiery attack and the demi-god itself in half. Everyone was stunned that the demi-god was defeated so easily as Shimon collapsed with a bloody mouth and a broken body. Atem managed to catch his vizier and was able to watch him die like he had done so many times in the past couple days. Laughing in his triumph, Zorc looked down at Atem. You're lost, Pharaoh! Your pitiful souls will never defeat me!

Atem looked up at Zorc as he lowered Shimon's body to the ground and stood up. "Even if you scatter our souls to the wind, we will never stop fighting you!"

Zorc looked down at Atem and almost laughed at Atem's strength. You can't win…for I AM the Dark! What do you see after you throw your lives to the darkness? You see nothing but your own foolishness and regret! You mortals fear the dark but, in truth, it rules you as you are powerless before the shadows!

Atem refused to believe it as he saw how strong and noble he became with the good things in life and how much pain and suffering came from Aknadin falling to the darkness. "That is not true! The soul in this body is the light of life and it will never go out!"

The demon looked down and asked, Then, "Great Pharaoh," now that you've lost all your allies and family and your life force is but a flicker, do you really think you can defeat me?

Atem nodded. While it was true that he could feel his life force fading, he knew that he had to defend the kingdom and his daughter who was still out there. "Even if this body is destroyed, the light in my soul will pass to someone else! The light will go on and one and will never go out until you are defeated once and for all!"

Zorc laughed and decided to tell Atem, Haven't you figured it out yet? It is your humans who give me my power! Seeing that he had Atem's attention, the demon continued. Shadows are born in the human heart! In fact, when humans are in the light, they only know themselves when they turn to the darkness and see their shadow! It is my shadows that keep humans from becoming drones! It is my shadows that make you question the meaning of your existence! If you doubt me still, let me ask you: why are there never-ending wards and slaughter among men? They are the instincts of mankind, the regular adjustments needed to sustain life! With my power, I will create a world of eternal darkness and give your foolish mortals an endless hell!

With that, Zorc started another earthquake that started to shatter the land but Atem refused to give up. "Zorc! I will fight for the spirits of those who lost their lives searching for the light! I won't let this world be swallowed by darkness!"

Grateful that Mahad, Mana's Ka, Seraphita, and Tarra were still there, Atem had then attack Zorc. He knew this was a big gamble since he had very little Ba left but it was a gamble that he had to take. Zorc paid no attention to them and was about to kill Atem when the three Kas and Tarra attacked him. More angry and annoyed, Zorc attacked all four of them with his most powerful attack. Mana's Ka and Tarra were spared because Seraphita shielded them but Seraphita and Mahad were destroyed, almost killing Atem. Mahad and Seraphita looked at Atem as the Pharaoh collapsed in a bloody heap and tried to get to him but their bodies disappeared before they could reach him. Laughing as Atem was on his knees with barely a flicker of life left, Zorc taunted him with, Now, Pharaoh…you will vanish into endless night…

Hearing Tarra call out of him, Atem coughed up a little blood but he knew that that he had another left: his Kas were gone, his comrades were either very weak or dead, and he was dying. 'Is this…the end…for me…? I have lost…'

He was about to fade away when, suddenly, everything went silent and the air went very still. At the same time, Atem thought he heard something so he looked up. Everyone around him, from the humans to Tarra in midair to Zorc to the earth itself, was frozen, as if time had standing still. Standing in front of him was a young man but he was not a man. Clothed in white robes, the man had a youthful look with his blond hair down to his shoulder blades but there was a wisdom in his eyes that was older than he looked. But what stood out the most was the pair of white wings on his back. Believing that this person was similar to Seraphita but still cautious, Atem uttered, "Who…?"

The winged man smiled sadly. "I go by many names but you know me as Apt." Atem was about to bow since he was in the presence of the messenger god but Apt said, "I am here because the Lord or Ra has given me permission to give you the spell of sealing that will seal away the Dark One."

Atem looked up and saw the hesitation on Apt's eyes. "Well? Give it to me!"

Apt looked down at the Pharaoh and told him, "It will come at a heavy price."

Seeing Atem's eyes did not waver in his decision to use the spell, Apt almost told him verbally but got an idea instead. Holding up two fingers, he pressed them to Atem's forehead and delivered the message of what the price would be to use the spell. Now the Pharaoh was not so sure. It was a very heavy price but, if it meant saving the world from the demon before him, he would do it. Looking up at Apt, Atem reached up and touched the winged man's forehead, delivering a message to the winged man and making him be surprised. "Are you aware of what you're asking?"

Atem nodded. "Those are my terms. If you let me have that, I will take the spell of sealing."

Apt immediately covered his face with his hands for a moment. Atem was about to ask if they had a deal when Apt uncovered his face and nodded with a small smile. "Your terms will be met. We will give you the spell…and you will willingly use it."

Atem nodded and closed his eyes as Apt pressed his hand on Atem's forehead and transferred the spell to Atem's mind. The Pharaoh closed his eyes and only opened them when he felt Apt remove his hand. Seeing that Apt was gone and the world was very slowly starting to move again, Atem staggered to his feet as he started to relax, knowing what he was about to do. As he thought about what he had to do, he started to remember all the memories that meant something to him: learning to walk with his father's help, Aknamkanon saving him from the gods' wrath, his friendship with Mana and Mahad, finding Tarra, meeting Jouno, Kiko, and Seth, his father's death and he becoming the Pharaoh as a result, meeting Tima and his secret, then open relationship with her, watching Tima grow in emotional strength, the births of his children and all the firsts his children accomplished, Heba's heading his first meeting as crowned prince and Aziza's first as an advisor, the Scorpion Clan arriving and Heba finding love in Merina, and his last moments with Tima and Heba when they were still alive. As his right hand reached up to unclasp his cape, he held out his left hand and stared at his wedding ring, focusing his thoughts on his family that was watching over him. As soon as the cape blew off into the wind, time resumed at its normal speed and Zorc noticed that Atem was a sitting duck, not even paying attention to him. You are foolish to stay open like that, Pharaoh!

With that, the demon launched an attack at Atem but Tarra, having arrived at Atem's side, summoned as much energy as she could and produced an electric shield around her guardian. But, as the attack dissipated against the shield and the phoenix collapsed from lack of energy, she grew concerned when Atem did not even notice what was going on. Their minds growing clearer, Seth and Jouno looked up with their phoenixes and they noticed how calm Atem looked. Tending to a scared Mana, Isis looked up and wondered the same thing Seth did: had the Pharaoh given up and joined Zorc or was he simply accepting that he could not defeat Zorc? Both the humans and phoenixes got their answer with what Atem did next: lowering his hand, he looked up at Zorc with a determined look and said to himself, "I'll see you soon, Tima…"

The humans and phoenixes could not believe what they were hearing but were too weak to do anything as Atem closed his eyes and started to chant a spell that no one had ever heard before. Tarra tried to get Atem to stop chanting but she was suddenly moved next to Itami, as if someone dragged her away from her guardian. Zorc was about to attack Atem again but he noticed that the ground under him started to produce light that did seemed unnatural. The demon tried to attack the ground where the light was coming from but the attack did not work for an unknown reason. As soon as Atem stopped chanting and threw his head back with his arms spread like Tima did when she gave praise to her god, suddenly strands of lights burst from the ground and wrapped themselves around the demon, trapping him. The light started to drag Zorc down when Tarra screeched and Seth cried out, "Pharaoh, look out!"

Since he still had his eyes closed, Atem did not realize he was in danger until Zorc's second head bit his arm. Screaming in pain, Atem was captured by the strands of light as well. As he realized what was happening, he heard Zorc say in his mind, If I'm going…so are you…

No one was able to do a thing as the strands of light grew brighter and brighter until everyone had to shield their eyes. When the light disappeared and daylight returned, Seth was the first to his feet and ran to Atem, who had collapsed face first on the ground. Squawking in sorrow, Tarra flew to her guardian. Seth gently turned Atem around and was heart-broken by what he saw: Atem's eyes were dull with his life energy all but a very small flicker and the Sennen Pendant was shattered into many pieces. Tarra started to cry in sorrow as electricity started to surround her. Seth looked down at Atem and smiled softly. "You did it…you defeated him."

Atem looked up at Seth and whispered, "Only just…" Turning to Tarra, he told her, "Watch over…Aziza…for me…"

Remembering that there was someone she still needed to watch over, Tarra nodded, causing the electricity to disappear. The dying Pharaoh then turned to Seth and told him, "Erase…all traces…of me…and my family…including…my name…to keep...Khment...safe"

Seth found that request a little odd but he could tell that Atem was being serious so he nodded. "Yes, my pharaoh"

Atem smiled softly and whispered, "Be strong...old friend...and remember…"

With his final message, Atem, Pharaoh of Khment and son of Aknamkanon, died in the arms of his close comrade and friend. As Mana screamed in sadness and Isis held her close and Jouno cursed the gods, the phoenixes cried in sorrow, Tarra crying the loudest, and Seth lowered his head in sadness and closed Atem's eyes out of respect. "Yes…Great Pharaoh…"
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