The Prince stubbornly refused to wear the Millennium Puzzle. He was scared to death of it. His father had kept his promise and told the Prince everything about the Millennium Items. Atem was amazed at their power but still refused his own. His father told him that the Millennium Puzzle chose him when he completed putting it back together and that he should not fear it. The Prince never swayed though. He wasn't lured into wearing it by its power as most of the guardians seemed to think he would. That seemed to explain to the Prince why the others kept theirs with them at all times, even when they didn't think they would need it, the reason Seto and Karim could bear caring them in their hands the whole day long. He didn't like this, power needed to be earned, not given to you by some possibly evil item that none of them even seemed to understand. He wanted to earn his power; it would feel more his that way. When he expressed this to his father he seemed to understand, but still felt Atem should keep the Puzzle with him.
"I think you have earned the power that it will give you Atem."
"I have not." He and his father were having a semi-private conversation. They weren't the only ones in the room, but no one was listening in on them.
"I believe that is why the Puzzle broke when you touched it. It knew that you would rather work for it, so it had you put it together in order to use it."
"Yes, because we all know it cares how I feel. That is why it so kindly gave me nightmares, one of witch I find myself dreaming of every night." The Pharaoh gave him a concerned look.
"Which one?" he asked. The Prince sighed.
"The first one."
"I truly believe that it had a good reason to show you those things Atem, and I think you should trust it."
"Well I do not. I still think that the Items are evil, all of them." Atem said crossing his arms, a habit he had used to replace pouting. He noticed Aknadin watching him for a moment, before his uncle turned away.
"Someday you will change your mind, my son."
"I seriously doubt that." The Pharaoh shook his head and gave a small laugh. Suddenly some of the guards ran into the room.
"Intruder!" They yelled. "There is an intruder in the Palace!" All at once everyone became active. The Prince found himself being dragged randomly by his father.
"Where are we going?" He yelled trying to be heard over everyone else's yells. His father didn't answer. They passed Mahad and Mana watching them in shock.
"Mahad!" The Prince yelled trying to stop his father. He was sure there was something dangerous going on and he wanted to make sure Mahad was safe. Of course he wasn't near as strong as his father and couldn't stop. So he yelled again hoping Mahad would follow. "Mahad!" Mahad appeared behind him.
"What is going on?" The magician asked easily keeping up with them. They stopped in front of a wall and the Pharaoh opened it revealing a secret room.
"Wow" Atem said as he looked in the small room he hadn't even known existed. His father swiftly pushed them both in and shut the door behind them. "I did not know this was here." He looked at his father with an accusing look.
"Calm down, Karim just found it not too long ago."
"You did not even know it was here."
"It would seem that my father forgot to mention it to me when I was your age." The Prince looked around, there wasn't much there, a few boxes in the corner but that was about it.
"I think I should be out there helping." Mahad said worried that he was not supposed to be here.
"No I think it would make us much calmer if you stayed here. Anyway, what if someone found us? I am an old man; I am going to need help defending the two of us." Atem agreed wholeheartedly. He hugged Mahad.
"I am scared, protect me Mahad." He said kindly, hoping to calm Mahad down. It worked Mahad laughed.
"I can not promise I will be much help." He said humbly.
"I am sure you will be much help."
They stayed in there for a very long time. Atem quickly got bored and started playing a word game with Mahad. One of the reasons the Pharaoh kept Mahad with them, he kept the Prince calm, somehow. Mahad with out warning got quiet and stood quite still.
"How many people know this is here?" He asked.
"Only the Guardians. Why?"
"There is someone outside the door." Mahad answered as the door began to open.
"Hide." The Pharaoh whispered and pushed them behind the boxes. Atem began to protest but Mahad grabbed him and covered his mouth. Strangely not even feeling guilty for restraining the Prince. "Who is there!" They heard the Pharaoh demand. His only answer was a crazy sounding laugh that made their hair stand on end. Suddenly the Pharaoh flew back against a wall and passed out; there was no explanation for it. Before Mahad could stop him the Prince ran out from behind the boxes.
"Father!" He yelled. There another strange laugh and the Prince stopped and looked at their attacker just in time to see a large energy blast coming straight at him. He closed his eyes and screamed, but there was no impact. The Prince opened his eyes and saw Mahad in front of him. For a second he worried that Mahad had taken the blast instead of him, but when he looked hard enough he could see a small barely visible shield in front of Mahad. Mahad was breathing heavily; it had obviously been a very powerful attack. The hooded man took a step back; he obviously hadn't expected to encounter a magician during his assassination attempt. He heard the assassin mutter something, but couldn't understand what it was.
"Get back!" Mahad told the Prince as he used the attacker's distraction to his advantage and formed an attack. It was the first time the Prince had ever seen Mahad use his magic to harm someone. The attacker easily defended himself, Mahad may have been crazily skilled with his magic, but he was still only twelve. The attacker won their little fight, though not easily. He looked exhausted when Mahad's shield finally broke and his attack made contact.
"Mahad!" The Prince yelled collapsing under the weight of the older boy when he fell on top of him. The man prepared another attack; Atem stood and blocked Mahad from his attack. He didn't know why, it was just what he had to do. Something in him told him that this was how it had to be, and he was not about to argue with it.
"You are an idiot, do you really think I am attacking him." Atem didn't respond, there was nothing he could do, there was no way he could run, the attacker was blocking his only exit, though he would not have ran if he could. There was only one way he could he could get out of this and he had no idea how to make it happen. He trusted himself though, he knew it was going to happen, he just didn't know what it was. He refused to show any fear, this man didn't deserve to see fear in his eyes. He would go down fighting, even if standing in front of his friend in a protective manor and hoping for a miracle was the closest he could get to fighting.
"If that is how you want to die, than so be it." He shot another energy ball Atem closed his eyes and braced himself for an attack he was praying wouldn't hit him. He refused to scream, he wouldn't even whimper.
"What the..." He heard the attacker yell. He opened his eyes to see once again someone blocking the attack. Unlike Mahad though this someone wasn't a human.
"What is that?" The man looked at the creature that was standing proudly in between him and his victim. Atem stared at the monster.
"Kuriboh?" Atem stared at the puffball that was as almost half his size. Kuriboh seemed to be excited he was jumping around happily.
"Is this some kind of joke." the man said angrily. He was offended that this kid expected such a pathetic creature to actually be able to defend him. Atem knew instantly that this man had made a mistake. Kuriboh did not like to be underestimated. He stopped jumping around and glared at the man. He still looked just plain adorable though. To both their surprise another Kuriboh appearing right beside the first one. The first one began to float and charged straight for the attacker. The man attacked Kuriboh; the puffball just dodged it easily. When he hit the man Kuriboh exploded. Atem screamed, when he opened his eyes again there was only one Kuriboh again and the attacker was lying on the ground clearly unconscious.
He looked at Kuriboh who was bouncing up and down happily again.
"Are you my Ka?" He asked the hyperactive ball of fur. It bounced over to him and rubbed on his leg. "I am guessing that is a yes." The Prince smiled at Kuriboh and petted him on top of the head. Kuriboh seemed to purr and then disappeared. Atem ran over to his father, momentarily forgetting about Kuriboh.
"Father. Father wake up!" he said attempting to shake his father awake. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. He ran over to it. "Who is there?" He asked loudly.
"Seto and Karim." Atem heard Seto say from behind the door before they opened it.
"You sure took your good sweet time getting here!" He yelled
"We searched the entire..." Seto's voice died when he saw the three unconscious people. "Pharaoh!" They both yelled at the same time and ran over to their king.
"Yes, I am fine thank you for asking." He said sarcastically. They heard a moaning from a man they didn't recognize. "He did it." Atem said pointing. Karim restrained him before he could wake completely. His hood was ripped off and his face was visible. It wasn't anyone they recognized though.
"My Prince are you alright? What happened?" The Prince sighed and described to them exactly what happened.
"He is a magician, that is how he found us. He probably used magic." Atem told them. Seto grunted.
"This is why all magicians should be put behind bars." The Prince's face turned red and they quickly got into an argument because of it.
Mahad awoke to the sound of Atem's yelling. To Karim's surprise the attacker began to struggle. He had given up quickly, but it seemed he changed his mind.
"Seto! Help me out here." Karim said and Seto walked over to them. Atem laughed when Seto hit him with the Millennium Rod. The guy fell limp in Karim's hands.
"I do not think that is how it is supposed to be used Seto." Atem laughed. Seto shrugged.
"Whatever works is good enough for me." Atem laughed again before he noticed Mahad was awake. The Prince ran over to Mahad, who was holding his head in pain.
"Mahad." Atem said cheerfully. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, but you must not worry about me. What about you my Prince, are you alright?" He asked.
"Yes, I am fine." Mahad sighed in relief. He looked over to Seto and Karim who were arguing over who was going to go tell the others what was going on. They needed to get the Pharaoh to a healer, but it would take both of them to carry him and one of them had to do something about the unconscious attacker. Mahad looked at the ground and saw the attacker's unhidden face. He instantly froze.
"Mahad?" Atem waved his hand in front of the magician's face. "Hello... Mahad. Are you in there?" Mahad didn't move. The Prince turned to Karim; Seto apparently went to get some help. "There is something wrong with Mahad." Karim looked up and walked over to them. He put his hand on Mahad's shoulder, Mahad jumped at the contact; he stood and began to back away.
"No" He whispered backing into the wall. Atem noticed he was looking at the attacker. "NO!" Mahad screamed and ran out of the room.
"Mahad!" Atem yelled and followed. Karim stood there knowing it would be better for him to just stay there. He walked over to the unconscious Pharaoh and began looking to see if there was anything he could do for him.
Atem ran after Mahad, trying his hardest to keep up. Unfortunately, Mahad was a lot faster than the Prince. He lost Mahad pretty quickly.
"Mahad!" He called knowing that Mahad wouldn't answer. "Where are you?"
"Prince." Atem turned and saw Mana standing beside him.
"Mana, you are alright." He said momentarily distracted. She nodded.
"I thought Mahad was with you?" She walked over to him with a worried look on her face.
"He was, but something upset him and he ran off. Now I can not find him." She looked surprised; running away wasn't typical Mahad-like behavior.
"Well we need to find him than." He nodded and they went to look for him. They looked everywhere, all of Mahad's favorite places, even all of the places he hated thinking that he may have been trying to trick them. There was no sign of their friend. Atem stopped in a random hallway.
"It is no use! He could be invisible if he wanted to!" He said ready to throw a fit.
"How can I calm down! We have looked in nearly a hundred rooms now and we still failed to find him." He said crossing his arms.
"We have not failed to find him in a hundred rooms. We just know that there are a hundred rooms he is not in. Come on." She said grabbing his arm and dragging him down the hall. "How about we try for a hundred and one rooms." Mana's optimism didn't help them find him easier. Another hour and they still hadn't found him.
"Now what Mana." Atem said about to give up hope.
"Come on Prince. You are his best friend. You should know where he is."
"How am I supposed to know! We have checked everywhere I thought of at least three times!" He yelled, officially going into fit mode.
"Do not yell at me I am not the one he is mad at!" She yelled back.
"Who said he was mad at me!"
"Why else would he be hiding from you?"
"I do not know alright!" He said starting to cry. The tears vanquished his anger, he was scared. What if Mahad was mad at him for some reason? "I do not know why he is hiding from me."
"I do not think he is Prince." She said, after some thought. "I think he wants you to find him. Where would you go if you were upset and you wanted only him to find you?"
"I do not know." He repeated and shook his head and repeated it again. Suddenly he opened his eyes again. "The plum tree!" he said and ran off. Mana followed.
"What?" She asked.
"The plum tree out back! It is where we were when we first became friends!" He yelled back and ran outside. Mana was surprised to see that the Prince was right. Mahad was there sitting under a large plum tree. The Prince ran over to him and knelt down beside him. Mana sat on Mahad's other side.
"Mahad." The Prince said gently trying to keep from startling Mahad. Mahad moaned in response. He didn't raise his head from his knees though. "Mahad it is alright, you know we will not laugh at you. We just want to know what is wrong." Atem put his hand on Mahad's back hoping to comfort him. It worked a little, Mahad gained the ability to talk to them.
"I do not want to talk about it." He said quietly not lifting his head. The Prince nodded.
"Ok then you do not have to." He told Mahad who looked up a little.
"Really?" He asked Atem just nodded.
"If you do not want to talk about it than I am not going to make you." The Prince smiled. "But I am not going to sit here and let you mope about it. So if you are not going to tell me about it, than I am going to have to resort to other methods of cheering you up." He heard Mana giggle, before she yelled.
"TICKLE FIGHT!" They jumped on him and started tickling him. He stood and tried to run from them, laughing as they chased him. The Prince cut him off and he ended up on the ground again. He knew he was fighting a losing battle.
"I give! I give! I will tell you everything!" He yelled in between laughs. They got off of him and he sat up still laughing.
"Well... talk before we change our minds." Atem smirked.
"I thought you were not going to make me." He said his smile slowly disappearing.
"I changed my mind." Mahad sighed. His smile completely gone.
"I know the guy who attacked us." Mana stood.
"You got attacked!" She said angrily. "When were you planning to tell me about this?" She yelled glaring at the Prince. He shrugged.
"Woops! Woops! You could have died and you did not even bother to mention it!" She yelled. They got into an argument. Mahad smiled and watched their bickering from the sidelines. He laughed when the Prince finally stood hoping to keep her from looking down at him anymore and was still shorter than she was.
"You guys fight like an old married couple." Mahad finally interrupted.
"Stay out of this!" She yelled, then the Prince yelled at her for yelling at him, and she yelled at him for yelling at her for yelling at him, and it continued.
"I am not kidding you guys you should really get married or something. At least then you would have an excuse." He said still smirking. They turned red and looked at him then at each other.
"Ewwwwwwwwww!" They both said at the same time, causing Mahad to start laughing.
"That is sick, Mahad." The Prince said sitting back down staying as far away from Mana as he could while still sitting next to Mahad. Mahad laughed again when Mana stuck her tongue out at him. "I am sorry we interrupted you Mahad. Please continue." Mahad winced he had been hoping they would forget about it. "You said you knew who that jerk was. I am assuming that with the way you reacted you did not hate the guy."
"It was my teacher." He said. Atem waited for him to continue. Tears began to fall from Mahad's eyes. "He did the same thing with me as I am trying to do with Mana." She winced imagining how she would feel if he attacked her. Mahad continued. "Only I was with him for five years." he said hiding his face behind his long hair. Atem rubbed Mahad's back, he didn't exactly understand, but it was clear to him from spending so much time with Mahad and Mana that magicians get strangely attached to their teachers. Apparently they became like father figures or something, and though he couldn't exactly know how Mahad felt right now, he knew he had to help. This time though, not even a tickle fight could make it better.
"I am sorry." The Prince told his friend. Mahad looked up, he looked strangely alarmed.
"It is not your fault; please do not think that you are to blame for this." The Prince gave a small smile.
"Oh, do not worry. I know it is not my fault." Mahad sighed in relief. "But I am sorry anyway." Atem chuckled it felt kind of strange to feel sorry for something that wasn't your fault.
Mahad attempted at a smile. "Thanks I think." Mahad rested his head on the Prince's shoulders, only vaguely aware that he should not be leaning on the Prince. For a moment the Prince wasn't a Prince, he was merely Mahad's best friend, and Atem wouldn't have had it any other way.
A/N) Kuriboh saved the day!