The Darkness Within

The Pyre, Part I - Act II

I breathed in as I drew my opening hand. Ugh, not the best hand. I have Striker, but I'm lacking anything that's Level 3 or 4 so I can Synchro Summon. I could use Stellar Hoard, but right now, it's too risky. I can very possibly end up with no monsters to Summon, and in this kind of Duel, I can't afford any mistakes.

The sound of the seal appearing on the ground pulled me out of my thoughts. The circles with the strange runes and the mark of that malevolent, evil star… it gave me the goosebumps, especially as it widened out and became larger and larger, until it had sealed off Rust Town completely. I looked outside, and I could see some of the residents that had dares to come outside were stumped by the seal.

I could only look on as they seemingly turned into purple orbs and were absorbed into the seal. Then, back inside the chapel, the people re-materialized, and became ten black orbs. Five then flew over to Blaze, and began circling around him, while five began circling around me.

"Surprised, Alkain? This is a Darkstar Duel, and dueling like this is the most dangerous kind of duel there is, and in order to duel like this, we have to make a sacrifice to the Darkstar," Blaze spoke. I felt unease as I gazed at one of the orbs that circled around me. I recoiled back as I saw faces inside the orb, twisted in agony.

"Inside those orbs, are the souls of the residents of this scrapyard. For every counter you lose, the souls inside the orb you lose are condemned to eternity in the Netherworld. We're dueling not only with our lives at stake, but their lives too!" Blaze cackles as he looks through his opening hand. I gave mine a glance as well, quickly formulating a tactic for now. It wasn't the best, but it had to do for now.

"I'll take the opening move!" Blaze declared, as he drew his first card. "And since it's the first turn of the Duel, I don't have to remove any Seal Counters during the Standby Phase!" Blaze looked intensely at the card he just drew, like he knew he would be drawing it.

"I Summon the field, Jurrac Velo in Attack Position!" Blaze cackled as from a gateway appeared a green velociraptor-like creature with a bright red head, and both its hands and feet were adorned with sharp claws.

Jurrac Velo Lv: 4 Dinosaur/Effect ATK: 1700 DEF: 1000 (ATK)

"Then, I'll Set three cards face-down, and that does it for my turn now, Alkain. Now, show me what you're capable of!" The two face-down cards emerged behind Velo, who did a quick jump into the air in an attempt to intimidate me. I wasn't fazed however, as I drew my first card.

Jay's Seal Counters: 5 -) 4

I tried to focus on my hand as one of the orbs around me vanished, signaling the damnation of the souls inside it. I looked over my hand and my newest draw: Nova Reflector. Nothing I could use. It was the only monster in my hand, barring Striker, so using Stellar Hoard to draw would be risky. I would lose one of my best Tuners if I did, but I had to take that risk.

"I activate the Spell Card, Stellar Hoard!" I declared, as I slapped the card onto my Duel Disk, and the card appeared on my field. "Now, by discarding a Nova from my hand, I get to draw 2 cards!"

"Hah!" Blaze chuckled. "Was your starting hand that bad? And here I was, expecting a challenge!"

Come on, come on! I thought as I prepared to draw my two cards after I sent Reflector to the Graveyard. "Draw!" I declared, as I looked intensely at my draw. My first card was Destroyer, which made my face fall somewhat. My next draw then, made my heart pound. Nova Strategist! I cheered inwardly as I looked my hand over.

"Here we go!" I declared as I pulled Striker from my hand, and slapped it on my Duel Disk. "I summon Nova Striker in Attack Position!" I declared, as forth from a blazing gateway came an armored warrior, wielding both a sword and a shield. His sword blazed with fire as he took his place on my field.

Nova Striker Lv: 3 Warrior/Tuner ATK: 1400 DEF: 800 (ATK)

"And now, since he was Normal Summoned, I activate the effect of Nova Striker!" I declared, as Striker threw his shield up in the air. The shield stayed in place as it was enveloped by a sphere of fire. "I am allowed to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower "Nova" monster from my hand! So come on out, Nova Strategist!" I declared, as from the fiery gateway appeared the old sorcerer clad in red. As soon as he landed, he raised his staff into the air, creating a barrier around my monsters, as per his effect.

"Now, I use tune my Level 4 Nova Strategist with my Level 3 Nova Striker! It's showtime!" I declared, as Striker raised his sword into the air, and he turned into three stars. The stars began rotating, until they turned into three red rings. Strategist leaped upwards into the rings, the light from the rings shining right through him, revealing the four stars inside him.

"Strife covers the world. From the fires of war, comes a dragon-warrior with unmatched bravery!" I chanted, as a beam of red light shot through the rings created by Striker. "Burn forever, Nova Dragoon Blader!" I chanted as the light faded, revealing a tall, humanoid dragon with a large, ferocious-looking blade. His wings were tiny, but his body was incredibly muscular, as well as being protected by a suit of golden armor. He roared into the sky as his eyes opened, revealing the flames that burned within his eyes. With a ferocious war-cry, the Dragoon took a battle stance on my side of the field.

Nova Dragoon Blader Lv: 7 Warrior/Synchro ATK: 2500 DEF: 1200 (ATK)

"Battle Phase!" I declared, as I stretched my arm out, pointing my finger at Blaze's Jurrac Velo. "Nova Dragoon Blader attacks Jurrac Velo!" I declared, as Dragoon Blader let out a roar, and charged towards the small raptor. "Shred him to pieces with Furious Whirlwind Slash!" I bellowed as Dragoon Blader swung his sword violently around him, creating a small whirlwind that sent Blaze's raptor into the air. When it fell down again, Dragoon Blader swung his blade fiercely, cutting the raptor in two, and sending the torn bits of it towards Blaze who was pushed back by the force of the attack towards the wall. As Blaze got up again, a new dark orb materialized around me.

Blaze: 4000 -) 3200

Jay's Seal Counters: 4 -) 5

"Not bad, Alkain," Blaze taunted as he dusted himself off. "But you walked right into my hand!" Blaze laughed, as he raised his arm up in the air. "The effect of Jurrac Velo activates! Since it was in Attack Position, and was destroyed by battle, I can Special Summon one "Jurrac" monster from my Deck with 1700 or less attacking strength to the field! So welcome to the field, Jurrac Guaiba!" Blaze declared as he placed a card from his Deck onto his Duel Disk, and forth came another dinosaur. This one had a very long neck and tail, and had fire blazing in its hands and eyes.

Jurrac Guaiba Lv: 4 Dinosaur/Effect ATK: 1700 DEF: 400 (ATK)

"So, Alkain, have you got anything else?" Blaze questioned. I quickly looked over my hand, trying to read what Blaze would do next turn. This is a Darkstar Duel, so Blaze is undoubtedly going to try and get something powerful out when it's his turn to try and get more Seal Counters. I'm beginning to smell a Synchro Summon coming. In that case…

"I Set two cards face-down," I declared as I slid my two cards into the holders, and cracked my neck. I still had Destroyer in my hand if Blaze would try to destroy Dragoon Blader, but for the moment, I didn't have to worry too much, unless Blaze was about to pull out some ridiculously powerful Synchro Monster. Dragoon Blader was immune to destruction by battle, and the Traps I had laid would help me generate an advantage, even in the face of heavy damage.

"And I'll end my turn." I declared as Blaze sighed with relief. "Finally. I draw!" Blaze declared as he yanked the card out of the Duel Disk holder, and he smiled. Whatever he just drew was something good.

Blaze's Seal Counters: 5 -) 4

"I Summon to the field, Jurrac Aeolo in Attack Position!" Blaze declared, as another dinosaur appeared on his field. This one was barely more than an infant dinosaur, the little blue thing with yellow stripes still hid inside the fragments of the shell of the egg it was born from.

Jurrac Aeolo Lv: 1 Dinosaur/Tuner Lv: 1 ATK: 200 DEF: 200 (ATK)

"Now, it's go time, Alkain!" Blaze bellowed. "I tune my Level 4 Jurrac Guaiba with my Level 1 Jurrac Aeolo!" He declared, as the small, infant dinosaur turned into a single, solitary star that flew up in the air and turned into a green ring. The other, longer, leaner dinosaur jumped into the rings, and the light shining from the ring revealed the four stars inside it.

"Synchro Summon!" Blaze bellowed, as the whole thing was enveloped in a green light. "Scorch the fool, Jurrac Velphito!" The light faded, and revealed a blazing raptor. It was lean, elegant, and both its feet, hands and tail were ablaze with a brilliant bright fire.

Jurrac Velphito Lv: 5 Dinosaur/Synchro ATK: ? DEF: ? (ATK)

"Wait, what's the deal with the question marks?" I questioned, as I saw the question marks that adorned Velphito's attack and defense statistics. "Simple," Blaze began. "Velphito's attack and defense strength becomes equal to the combined attack and defense of the monsters used as Synchro Material!"

Velphito (ATK): ? = 1900

Velphito (DEF): ? = 600

The statistics of that dinosaur confused me. Blaze must have known how strong Velphito would have become, so he would know full well that it didn't have enough attack points to best Dragoon Blader. Then it hit me. Velphito must have had some sort of effect to counter my higher attacking strength, and I was right.

"Now, I'll activate my Spell Card, Book of Moon!" Blaze declared as the card appeared on the field. I cursed inwardly, Dragoon Blader's defense points were only 1200, which meant that Velphito was stronger. But that curse turned into a smile as I remembered; Dragoon Blader couldn't be destroyed by battle.

The card then fired a blue ray at Dragoon Blader, and the force of the ray forced him to kneel down, and disappear beneath the ground as his card was flipped face-down.

"Now, Jurrac Velphito attacks the face-down Dragoon Blader!" Blaze declared as the sleek raptor zoomed towards the face-down Dragoon Blader, and jumped into the air to strike. "I'm sorry, Blaze, but Dragoon Blader can't be destroyed by battle, so your little maneuver was for nothing!" I taunted, but Blaze just smirked.

"I'm no fool, Alkain. I activate the effect of Jurrac Velphito! Since Velphito is attacking a face-down Defense Position monster, I can use this effect to destroy your monster outright, not factoring any special abilities whatsoever! Dino Bombardment!" Blaze declared, as Velphito let loose a flurry of fireballs towards the face-down Dragoon Blader, destroying it. I grimaced as I took his card and placed it in my Graveyard.

"Your hardships aren't over just yet, Alkain! I activate my first face-down, Destiny Activator!" Blaze declared, as his first face-down revealed itself to be a Spell Card.

"Destiny Activator lets me send the top card of my Deck to the Graveyard," Blaze said as he sent the upper card of his Deck to the Graveyard, which was another Jurrac Velo. "Now, if you draw a Monster Card, Destiny Activator will be destroyed, and your Life Points will be halved." Blaze explained. From the card, came out a fiendish hand holding a detonator that looked like a bone. "Now, it's your turn, Alkain. Let's see if fate smiles upon you. Turn end."

I gritted my teeth. I was only on my second turn, and I was already facing such a powerful card. I put my hand on top of my Deck, and breathed out. Please don't be a monster… I drew my card.

Nova Gatherer. My face fell completely. I flipped it, and Blaze smirked as he saw it. "What a shame, Alkain," Blaze mocked as he looked at my card. "It seems that destiny is working against you. I would pity you, but there is no room for pity in this world! Destiny Activator activates! Prepare to have your lifeforce halved!" The hand pressed the detonator, and immediately, a massive blast hit me. I was flung backwards, through the wall of the chapel, and into a container ten metres away. The shock knocked me out for a second, and I couldn't move, and as icing on the cake, the container I was knocked into had other containers balanced on top of it, which came crashing down on me.

Reflex dictated that I held my hands up, in an attempt to somehow block the incredibly heavy container headed right for me. I closed my eyes as it approached, waiting for my hands to be crushed.

They weren't. I had forgotten my superhuman strength, the momentum of the container forced me down onto my knees, but with a few sweatdrops, I flung the container off me, and locked eyes with Blaze, who stood at the other side of the street, with Jurrac Velphito right next to him, as well as his one other face-down card. He didn't say anything, but he didn't need to. This Duel was serious business, just like when I dueled with Anna.

Jay's Seal Counters: 5 - 4

I dusted myself off, and per the rules of a Darkstar Duel, another of the orbs vanished. I looked Blaze in the eyes, and there was some unspoken agreement between us. We were engaged in a Duel for life and death, with the lives of several people at stake.

We were truly fighting a Duel of Darkness.

"Since you control monsters, and I don't, I can Special Summon Nova Destroyer from my hand!" I declared, and slapped the card onto the Duel Disk. A vortex of fire appeared on my field, which was quickly dispelled by a large, elegant and ornate blade. The fire faded to reveal one titan of a man, claid in red-and-black armor, with two large red wing-frames on his back, which kept him flying. With a swing of his mighty sword, and a cry of "HEY-YAH!", Destroyer took his battle stance.

Nova Destroyer Lv: 6 Warrior/Effect ATK: 2200 DEF: 900 (ATK)

"But the party doesn't end there, since I haven't Normal Summoned yet! So say hello to Nova Gatherer!" I said, and forth came the small girl wearing the big wizard's hat with her red robes and her basket of flowers. She gave a giggle as she jumped over beside Destroyer.

Nova Gatherer Lv: 3 Spellcaster/Tuner ATK: 1200 DEF: 300 (ATK)

"Nova Gatherer's effect activates!" I declared. "Since Nova Gatherer was Summoned in face-up Attack Position, she can add a Spell Card from my Deck to my hand!" Gatherer giggled, and pulled out a small orb from her basket. Inside the orb, was the unmistakably green color of a Spell Card. She threw it into my hands, and the orb faded to reveal the Spell Card inside.

"Battle Phase!" I declared. "Nova Destroyer attacks Jurrac Velphito!" I declared, and Destroyer spread out his wing-frames, and rushed towards the sleek dinosaur, fire adorning his wings. "Trap Card, activate!" Blaze shouted in response. "Chaos Barrier Field!" He declared, as his other face-down card appeared. I cursed myself for not picking Mystical Space Typhoon earlier with Gatherer's effect.

"Chaos Barrier Field negates your attack since you control 2 monsters in Attack Position, and then forces the two monsters you control to battle!" Blaze declared as Destroyer backed away from Velphito, and rushed backwards towards Gatherer, who made a scared face as the big bad Destroyer got ready to swing his sword.

"Trap Card, activate!" I declared as my Trap flipped up, and revealed itself. "Resolute Nova!"

"This now prevents the destruction of Gatherer this turn!" I declared, as a red shield appeared in front of Destroyer's blade, stopping it dead. "And even better, all the Battle Damage this turn goes right to you!" I declared, as a beam of red light burst away from the shield, impacting Blaze right in the chest, who went flying backwards into a large container, stunning him briefly, but he easily shrugged off the damage, although scrapes began to show on his body. There was even a small tear on his arm.

Blaze: 3200 -) 2200

"Hmph," Blaze grunted. "The final part of Chaos Barrier Field ends the Battle Phase after the damage calculation." I looked over what was left of my hand, before I felt a stinging pain in my side. I looked down, and saw a small shard of metal impaled into my side. I grunted, and quickly pulled it out, eliciting a loud howl of pain from myself as the sharp stinging reverberated through my body. I shook it off, however, and looked over the rest of my hand. I had Nova Hell Burst in my hand, but I wanted to save that for later, in case an opportunity to end this early presented itself.

"I Set one card face-down, and end my turn," I declared as another face-down materialized next to the other one I had left. I breathed out, and began to focus. Quickly, the wound the shard had made had been healed. I did it subconsciously, not even noticing it. It was as if it was second nature to me.

"Then it's my move!" Blaze declared, and drew his card, as another orb that held the souls of the innocents sacrificed for this duel vanished.

Blaze's Seal Counters: 4 -) 3

"I Summon Jurrac Gallim in Attack Position!" Blaze declared, as forth came another dinosaur, this one looking more like a reptilian bird than a toothed predator. It looked surprisingly calm, even as its own feathers were ablaze.

Jurrac Gallim Lv: 2 Dinosaur/Tuner ATK: 1200 DEF: 0 (ATK)

"Now, it's go time again!" Blaze declared, as Gallim turned into two stars, which began to rotate and turned into two green rings. Velphito jumped into the rings, exposing the five stars inside it.

"Synchro Summon!" Blaze chanted, as a green light enveloped it all. "Burn everything down, Jurrac Giganoto!" Blaze chanted, as the light faded to reveal a massive flaming predator dinosaur, colored blue and red, with its entire head full of sharp, vicious teeth on fire. It did an incredibly loud roar to signifiy its arrival, a roar that echoed through the ruins of Rust Town.

Jurrac Giganoto Lv: 7 Dinosaur/Synchro ATK: 2100 DEF: 1800 (ATK)

"Giganoto's effect grants every Jurrac monster on my side of the field an extra 200 attack points for every Jurrac in my Graveyard! I have five right now, which means that Giganoto gains an extra 1000 attack points!" Blaze declared as Giganoto's flames intensified greatly, and the enormous dinosaur roared loudly as its strength grew.

Giganoto (ATK): 2100 – 3100

"Now, I activate my third face-down card, Survival of the Fittest!" Blaze declared as his third face-down from his first turn turned up.

"The world of the dinosaurs is a world where only the strongest survive, and Giganoto is one of them! By equipping Survival of the Fittest onto Giganoto, Giganoto gains a thousand attack points, and the ability to attack a monster twice!" Blaze declared, as Giganoto grew even larger. I paled. With 4100 attack points, Giganoto would have more than enough to send me straight to hell by attacking Gatherer.

And I had nothing I could do.

Giganoto (ATK): 3100 -) 4100

"You should have stayed dead, Alkain!" Blaze roared, as Giganoto stomped on what used to be a building, which was utterly crushed beneath the enormous dinosaur. "Battle Phase!" Blaze bellowed. "Giganoto attacks Nova Gatherer! PRIMAL STREAM!" Blaze declared, as Giganoto let loose a massive blast of fire, headed right for me. If this attack it, it was over. I had nothing I could do, it seemed at that moment, that I had lost.

I closed my eyes, as I prepared to be incinerated along with every hope I had left. I began to think of all she had given me. The happy days, the hugs and kisses, her angelic voice that soothed the darkness within me. Her smile. Her smile broke my heart, and tears began to fall. I-I can't lose here. I have to... I have to save her! I WON'T LET HER DIE! My teeth grit together, and anger began to fill me once again. I WON'T STOP HERE!

"I activate the effect of Kurinova!"

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