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Pendulum of Light and Darkness

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Once upon a time, there were five kingdoms. These kingdoms were situated in a place known as the divided lands. There was the land of light, and right across from it there was the land of dark. Both lands were surrounded by the infinite forest, a wood so enormous that many who ventured into it’s clutches never returned. 

 

The first of the five kingdoms lay in the land of the dark. It was known as the kingdom of DM, and was ruled over by the great Pharaoh Atem. Known to his friends as Yami, he ruled over the land with a kind heart but a strong sense of justice. He would probably be even harsher with criminals were it not for the influence of his chief advisor and best friend Yugi Muto. It wasn’t the fact that Yugi complained or asked Yami to be more merciful, it was simply having him around that softened the regal man’s heart. Along with all his other friends to, like the court priest Seto Kaiba and the captain of the royal guard Joey Wheeler, as well as his second in command Tristan Taylor. The royal healer Isis and her family were highly valued to, her children Ishizu, Marik and Odion had lived in the palace and been friends with the pharaoh for a long time. The other members of the court were like family too, this included the royal sorcerer Mahad and his apprentice Mana; one of his vizier’s, and Yugi’s grandfather, Solomon Muto; the kingdom’s spiritual advisor Shadi and Yami’s personal spy Duke Devlin. The group were also very close to some of the nobles, such as Lady Téa Gardner, Duchess Mai Valentine and Lord Ryo Bakura. 

 

Then just a hop skip and a jump away from the kingdom of DM was the kingdom of 5D’S, the other kingdom in the land of the dark. This kingdom was ruled over by Prince Yusei Fudo. He was a calm and reasonable ruler but believed in protecting the innocent and equality amongst everyone, his people both loved and trusted him. His court consisted of his advisors and best friends Jack Atlas, Crow Hogan and Kalin Kessler. Then there was his adopted brother and sister Luna and Leo, the two had lost their parents in a tragic accident but Yusei had taken them in and treated them as if they were his real siblings. Another important member of the kingdom of 5D’S was Yusei’s friend and personal mechanic Bruno. He had need of a mechanic, for the kingdom of 5D’S was famous for turbo duelling and the royal palace even had its own duel track. Yusei and his friends battled on it whenever they could, even though no one could defeat Yusei, he was the turbo duelling champion after all. When he wasn’t duelling he was running his kingdom with the help of his friends. Aside from those in the palace, he also found friends in Dame Sherry LeBlanc, Countess Akiza Izinski, Lady Carly Carmine and Baroness Mina Simington. With all of them around, as well as all the children Crow kept taking in, much to the annoyance of Jack, the palace was always full of life. 

 

Then over in the land of light, there was the kingdom of GX. This kingdom was under the rule of Supreme King Jaden Yuki (don’t worry he’s not evil). He was a good ruler but he had a tendency to slack off and not worry about things. His friends chose to describe him as laid-back, though they used the term loosely. Due to his way of seeing things, he tended to rely on his advisors Chaz Princeton and Cyrus Truesdale to get things done. Cyrus’s brother Zane Truesdale also worked in the palace, as head of the guards, he frequently butted heads with his second officers, Aster Phoenix and Tyranno Hassleberry, but all in all, they were good friends. Other members of the palace included the kingdom’s intelligence advisor Bastion Misawa; Jaden’s personal spy Axel Brodie and the duel spirit trainer Jim Crocodile Cook. You see, the kingdom of GX was inhabited by many duel spirits and while most were friendly, some could be a bit hostile. Fortunately, Jim had lots of experience with duel spirits and was able to help them open up to humans. Jaden himself was famous for his strong connection to the spirits, particularly to his partners Yubel and Winged Kuriboh. The nobility of this kingdom consisted of Dame Alexis Rhodes and her brother Duke Atticus Rhodes as well as Jaden’s best friend Sir Jesse Anderson. 

 

The other kingdom in the land of light was the kingdom of ZEXAL. The leader of this kingdom was Prince Astral, although his personal servant and best friend Yuma Tsukumo helped him out so much, they pretty much ruled the kingdom together. For you see, Yuma was hot-headed and prideful but he was also kind-hearted and loyal, he believed in second chances and never gave up on anyone or anything. Astral was rather stoic and serious, but he was logical and always had a plan for everything. In short, the two completed each other, a mind and a heart. Then there were the other servants in the castle: the royal messenger Bronk Stone; the head maid Tori Meadows; the healer Dextra; the royal spy Flip Turner; the disciplinarian, in charge of the servants, Caswell Francis; the chief advisor Kite Tenjo, and the royal protection force. Unlike the hoards of guards all the other kingdoms had, the kingdom of ZEXAL had an elite team of warriors in charge of protecting the kingdom. They were known as the Emperors and were stronger than the combined forces of most armies. They were lead by Reginald Kastle, although his friends knew him as Shark and the other Emperors called him Nash. He was somewhat reclusive and apathetic, but deep down his heart was good and he would do anything to protect the kingdom and those he held dear. His second in command, Dumon, was also his best friend and the two would frequently team up for assignments. Dumon was incredibly loyal to Nash and always follow his orders without question. Vector and Alito would sometimes tease him for it, but he just ignored it, he was one of those people that just didn’t care what others thought. Alito on the other hand could get incredibly frustrated when others insulted him. He was very outgoing and eccentric, and though it sometimes annoyed the others, in truth they were very fond of him and his childishness. He was like Yuma in many ways, and the two adored dueling each other, each seeing the other as their perfect rival. As I said before, Alito didn’t take well to people poking fun at him, but he got no where near as worked up as Mizar. He would snap if someone so much as hinted that he was weak in any way shape or form. Out of all of the Emperors he was the most prideful, he saw himself as the master of the galaxy eyes (his favorite monster), and one of the greatest duelists in the kingdom. He frequently butted heads with Kite over this, as Kite also possessed a galaxy eyes monster, and thought he was the most worthy of being its master. Moving on from them though, another member of the Emperors was Girag. Now Girag was what you would call, big, loveble, but make him mad and it’ll be the last thing you ever do. He wasn’t the smartest of the Emperors and his plans frequently failed, but you had to give him points for perseverance. He stood by his friends to the bitter end though, and was always first to defend them if ever they were in trouble. Unless of course Yuma was there, no one could beat him to protection. But enough about that, the next member of the Emperors was Ray Shadows, known as Vector to his teammates, he was the scariest member of the group. While he generally had an outgoing fun loving personality, some of his ideas about fun could get a little out of hand at times. He was a good person really; he just didn’t have a very good concept of what was going too far. Although his methods of fighting were questionable, and Nash had to keep an eye on him during their battles, he was still brave and loyal and would do anything to protect the kingdom and its people. Then there was the final member of the group, Rio Kastle. She was Shark’s sister and the only girl in their little team. The rest of them knew her as Marin, and she was known for her “heart of ice”. Though really she was kind and always helping those in need, if anyone got on her bad side, they would either live to regret it, or not live at all. The nobles in the kingdom of ZEXAL, as well as friends to those in the palace were: The lords, Quattro, Quinton, Trey and Vetrix; however these were only titles, their official names were Tomas, Christopher, Michael and Byron Archlight. Then there was Lady Cathy Katherine, Duchess Anna Kaboom and Sir Nistro. In short the kingdom of ZEXAL was incredibly large, and everyone there treated those around them like family, no matter who they were. For the kingdom of ZEXAL was inhabited by both humans and Astral beings. The astral beings had come to earth many years ago in search of somewhere new to live since their home on astral world had become too crowded. The humans of the ZEXAL kingdom, who were so few at the time, gladly accepted them, and in a few short years the kingdom had advanced incredibly. 

 

Now we come to the final kingdom in the lands. This one was very special, it was formed many, many years ago when two people from the light and dark lands met for the first time. Never before had anyone crossed the borders between the lands. While these two people did not look it, they were incredibly different. For you see, there was a reason they were called the light and dark lands. The land of light got its name because all the people there had light magic, and in the land of dark people had dark magic. Of course there were those that were born without magic and some who chose to move between lands, although this didn’t occur very often. Anyway, when these two people met, they crossed the borders for the first time, and after meeting all the people in the other lands, more started crossing. Eventually, these people formed their own kingdom right on the border, it spread out into both the light and dark lands, with the royal palace sat on the very heart of the boarder. Since the kingdom lay between both lands and was inhabited by people with both light and dark magic they named it the Kingdom of the Pendulum. Nowadays the kingdom was ruled by Queen Yoko and King Yusho Sakaki. The two were incredibly kind and fair rulers, much beloved by their people. They worked as hard as they could to ensure everyone, whether light or dark, was accepted. Yoko was incredibly wise and always knew the right thing to say or do in different situations. Yusho was much the same, although he was a bit more reckless than her, he enjoyed dueling and putting on shows. The entire pendulum kingdom was famous for its action duels and great dueltainers. Yusho was known throughout both lands as the best dueltainer in the kingdom. However, even though he had to rule a kingdom and preform for it, he still managed to make time for his family. This family consisted of him, Yoko and their three, triplet sons. The eldest of the three was Yuto, a friendly but serious boy with flared eggplant hair, purple in the front and black in the back. He had grey eyes that always seemed to be looking around him with caution and coldness. However, this was because he was very protective of his brothers and friends, Shay and Lulu Obsidian, because he was the oldest out of all of them and felt he had a duty to protect them. Though he was never harsh with people he thought might be a threat, as he was against violence and had no desire to hurt anyone. Very much unlike the youngest of the triplets, Yuri. Yuri was sadistic and thought it was fun to bully and torment people. Yoko and Yusho frequently tried to discipline him, but it never worked. He would always set up pranks and tricks to mess with his brothers, but never did anything to really hurt them. Sometimes he would to others but Yugo would sort him out for that. Yugo was the middle child and the most open of the triplets. He was hard-headed and stubborn, but very optimistic and fun-loving. He enjoyed playing games with his best friend Rin, and the two were often joined by Lulu, Shay and Yuto. Sometimes even Yuri would join in, when he wasn’t torturing some innocent person. All in all, life was good for the three young princes; and it was only going to get better. When they were five their parents informed them they were going to have a new brother or sister. All three boys were ecstatic. Yuto couldn’t wait to have a younger sibling to care for, Yugo was looking forward to teaching them how to duel and playing all kinds of games with them, and Yuri… Well, Yuri was just wondering how he could make them upset or angry. Unfortunately, none of them got the chance to for fill their goals… But we’ll get to that later. The queen’s pregnancy was completely successful and a healthy baby boy was born to the royal family. Yoko gave him the name Yuya, he had bright red eyes, and small tufts of red hair showing on top of his head. He was adorable and his family simply adored him, except Yuri, he just kept scaring him and making him cry. Yuto and Yugo would do what they could to make Yuri behave though. Now, as with all new born children, Yuya had to be taken to the kingdom of DM to find out about his magical abilities. The millennium items, owned by Atem and his court, could show a person’s soul and the magic within it. With most people this was just to tell whether they had any magical powers, and how strong they were, but with children from the pendulum kingdom they also had to determine whether it was light or dark magic they possessed. Since the kingdom crossed into both lands, the people born there could have either power. Yusho and Yoko both had light magic, as did Yugo, whereas Yuto and Yuri had dark magic. What power, if any, that Yuya possessed was unknown, until they reached the kingdom of DM and the high priest Seto used his millennium rod to gaze into Yuya soul. He saw that he had a pure heart, full of happiness and fun, but he saw something else to. Something that shocked the entirety of both lands. Yuya had been born with both light and dark magic! No one in the history of the divided lands had ever been born with both kinds of magic. His two entities were pretty powerful too, according to the readings. It was such a shock to everyone, they didn’t know whether to be thrilled of terrified by the news. At first Yoko and Yusho simply took Yuya home and decided to give people time to come to terms with the news, and as it began to set in, people started to believe this was a miracle of some kind. There were celebrations all throughout the five kingdoms for the child with light and darkness. Since it was also known he had a good heart, people believed Yuya might be able to do wonderful things for the world. There were parades in the streets and fireworks in the evenings, everyone celebrating the miracle of Yuya’s birth. All except one. The evil sorcerer Don Thousand was not at all thrilled with the news. Someone with light and dark power could be a threat to him and his goals. For you see, Don Thousand was an evil man who sought to become the most powerful sorcerer in both the lands. In fact more than a sorcerer, he wished to be a god. To have infinite power and control over everything. This Yuya was supposed to be incredibly powerful, and not just one but two kinds of power, he could be a real danger. Though on the other hand… The more he pondered over it, the more Don Thousand realised Yuya’s abilities could be just what he needed. He already had an idea of how he would gain his infinite power, but he would need a powerful soul and strong magic. Yuya could be just what he needed… 

 

So one night, while the kingdom slept, he crept into the room of the prince. He used his skills as a sorcerer to reach into Yuya’s heart, trying to steal his soul away. The entire room was bathed in crackling white light as Don Thousand searched for Yuya’s soul, he’d never felt so much resistance before, even in the most powerful of magicians. Eventually he couldn’t take the strain and was forced away. The evil man stared in shock as Yuya simply whimpered a bit and shifted around in his sleep. Clearly his powers were stronger than anyone realised. Don Thousand was snapped back to reality by the sound of shouting and general commotion throughout the palace. Clearly his presence had been discovered somehow. Acting purely on instinct, he grabbed Yuya and transported away. The king and a handful of soldiers burst into the room a second later, only to find it empty with no trace of the evil sorcerer or the young prince. The two had been transported back to Don Thousand’s castle in the infinite forest. As soon as they arrived Yuya began wailing in distress, almost as though he understood what had just happened. Don Thousand immediately silenced him with a spell, then took a moment to process what had just happened. Kidnapping the prince had not been his plan, he had only intended to steal his soul. However, since there seemed to be some kind of barrier preventing him from doing so, this would appear to be the next best thing. He decided he would keep Yuya here and raise him to be his servant, all the while monitoring his powers, until the time was right for him to take them for himself…

 

Though first he decided he would need to ensure no one ever recognised Yuya, should they somehow see him, plus it would be an excellent excuse for why Yuya had to stay here in his castle. So Don Thousand used his magic to transform Yuya into a monster. His physical form remained the same, but his skin turned to a deep, inky, black and dark, ruffled, wings now sprouted from his back. Fortunately, his hair remained the same small red tufts it had always been, and his face was left the same pale pink colour, although large curls and spikes of black grew around the edges of his face, curling onto his cheeks, chin and forehead. It satisfied Don Thousand that no one would ever recognise the boy, especially once he’d grown a little. 

 

Meanwhile, back in the pendulum kingdom, great fear and panic began to weave its ugly hands around the citizens. They were fearful of who could have taken their prince, and for what purpose. This panic spread across the lands until everyone was feeling concern for themselves and Yuya. When the news reached the other four rulers, they ordered their guards and/or soldiers to search every inch of their kingdoms. Yusho had already had the pendulum kingdom searched thoroughly, but of course, they came up with nothing. The dual magical prince had vanished off the face of the earth.

 

After a few months, it became terrifyingly clear to everyone that the missing prince was not going to be found, and as a result, the searches were called off. The people were still encouraged to have hope, and report anything they should hear concerning the matter. However, as the months faded into years, people’s hope began to fade also, until most simply forgot about it altogether. 

 

Yusho always blamed himself for what happened, despite the protests of his wife that no one was at fault. Their three other children weren’t much support either. Yuto kept saying it was all his fault, and that because he was the oldest he should have been there to protect Yuya. Yugo was much the same, only unlike Yuto, who only mentioned it when asked, he was more than happy to go off into rants about how stupid and careless he, and everyone else, had been. Yuri kept to the sidelines, watching his family’s distress with a smirk on his face. To him this whole thing was like a show, one that helped distract him from the pain in his heart. Despite his sadistic nature and reluctance to show his feelings, Yuri did care somewhat for his family, and like all of them he had a hole in his heart right now. A hole where Yuya should have been…

 

Unfortunately, Yuya was miles away in the infinite forest. The forest surrounded the entire divided lands, and Don Thousand’s castle happened to be in the land of the light. The closest kingdom to it was the kingdom of GX, it was about half an hours walk away. Though Yuya would never get to make that trip. He spent the first thirteen years of his life slaving away for his “master”. Don Thousand told him he’d been abandoned as a child for being a freak and a monster, he said that as he was so repulsive he must never leave the castle, else people would attack him. He also said that Yuya was a freak for having light and dark magic, and in order to protect himself, he must never use his powers. Yuya believed every word he said, after all, there was no proof he was lying. In fact, Yuya thought his mere appearance was evidence enough that those words were true. By this time his red hair had grown into a thick mane around his head, and a patch of green hair sat directly on top of it, with one green curl spiking upwards. His skin had remained the same inky black and his eyes were still a perfect crimson. Whist his wings had grown to reach his waist, and were shaped as though meant for an angel, even if they were black as the night. Yuya wasn’t really as monstrous as he’d been brought up to believe, but that belief had been carved into his mind and continued to torment him. Each time he looked in the mirror he would wonder whether anyone could love someone as hideous as him. Though he tried not to dwell on it too much. He always went around with a smile on his face, no matter how much work he had to do. He liked Don Thousand, because he was under the impression the man liked him, and had taken him in when no one else would. Someone who accepted and took care of a monster like him couldn’t be a bad person. Sure he was harsh at times and Yuya had to work almost every waking hour, but at least he had food and shelter and a warm bed, he knew there were people in the world who would give anything for those, so yeah, he was happy. He learnt all he knew from reading the many books in the vast library Don Thousand had, whenever he could snag a small second to himself he would grab a book and learn something new. He loved it because it allowed him to enter a new world, even for a moment. For despite being grateful for his life, he couldn’t help dreaming of more. What he wanted more than anything in the world was the make people happy. No, more than that, he wanted to entertain them. Whenever he read of magicians or performers and the way they could make whole crowds jump to their feet with cheering or laughter, it made Yuya feel something deep in his heart. Like performing was in his DNA or something. It was as if destiny had wanted him to discover what it means to entertain. Sadly, he knew deep in his heart it would never be more than a dream. People would never smile and cheer for him, they would scream and run away. For he was a monster, and that was all he’d ever be, and it made his heart ache with pain and longing. Longing to be different, to be free. Often he would look out his window, in his high tower, at night and think to himself:

 

What’s the point of having wings, if I cannot fly…?

Chapter Text

“Yuya! Yuya!” Cried a shrill, childish voice. The thirteen-year-old tomato-headed boy looked up from his work to see who was calling him. He smiled when he saw it was Ali, one of his closest, and only friends. She wasn’t your typical friend though; she wasn’t even human. Ali was a small kitten with ginger fur, covered in pink stripes. She was one of three magical talking animals that lived in Don Thousand’s castle. The others were a blue puppy named Tate and yellow rabbit called Fredrick. The three of them had once been ordinary human children who lived in the lower areas of the kingdom of GX. One day when they’d been playing in the forest, they had accidently wandered into Don Thousand’s garden. The evil sorcerer was furious with them for trespassing, and turned them into animals. He then forbade them from leaving and kept them within the walls of his castle for years. Yuya had been six at the time and was horrified to discover what his master had done. Don Thousand had been raising him as his servant, and tried to teach Yuya to be cruel and hateful like himself; but the more he tried to corrupt Yuya, the purer his heart became. He even tried to beg with Don Thousand to let Ali, Tate and Fredrick go and punish him instead, but Don Thousand wouldn’t hear of it. It hurt Yuya to think these innocent children would be trapped here forever like himself and did his best to make them feel welcome. The four grew very fond of each other over the years and Yuya was happy to finally have some real friends. 

 

“Good morning Ali.” Yuya greeted, putting down the brush he was using to scrub the floors to give her head a soft pat. Ali purred affectionately and leaned into his touch as he stroked her kindly. She was so content she almost forgot why she was there, but as the memory returned she snapped out of her daze looking frantic. 

 

“Oh Yuya you must come quick, Fredrick’s in trouble!” 

 

“He is?” Yuya cried, sounding worried.

 

“Yes, follow me.” She replied, rushing off down the hall. Yuya ran after her as fast as possible. 

 

“Help! Help!” A terrified, German accented, voice cried out as the two made it to the garden. 

 

“Over here.” Ali said, rushing over to where Yuya could see Tate sat on the edge of a fountain.

 

“Oh thank goodness you’ve come.” He said. 

 

“Where is he?” Yuya asked.

 

“I’m up here.” Came the sound of a small whimper. The three hybrids looked up to see their friend clinging to a tree branch with his paws, long ears pressed flat against his head in fear. 

 

“How did you managed to get up there?” asked Yuya. 

 

“I got hungry and tried to grab one of the apples.” Fredrick squeaked, pointing at the large ripe fruit growing on the tree’s higher branches. Yuya sighed, half in exasperation, half in fondness. Fredrick was often hungry and his attempts at getting his hands on food were frequently amusing, but they did tend to get him in some tough situations. 

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll get you down.” Yuya assured, flapping his wings a bit before taking off into the sky. He lowered himself till he was hovering just beside the frightened rabbit and scooped him up in his arms. He also flew a bit higher and plucked an apple from the tree while he was at it. “There you go.” He said, placing Fredrick on the ground and placing the apple in his hands. 

 

“Oh thank you Yuya.” He said, bursting into tears of relief. Ali and Tate both laughed and nuzzled him playfully. Yuya smiled fondly at his friends, just enjoying the lightheartedness of the situation. Until it was broken by an angry, yet all to familiar, voice. 

 

“Yuya!”

 

The young hybrid gasped and whirled round to face his master, the evil sorcerer Don Thousand, looking at him with a scowl on his face.

 

“I told you to clean the floors while I was out, and when I return not only do I find them half finished but you playing in the garden with these little freaks.” He gestured to Ali, Tate and Fredrick. The three of them squealed and scampered off, not wanting to face Don Thousand’s wrath. Yuya would have done the same, if he didn’t know running away would only make his punishment more severe. 

 

“I’m very sorry, master, I promise it won’t happen again.” Yuya said, dropping to his knees, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the ground. Don Thousand sighed tiredly and grabbed the shoulder of Yuya’s shirt. He pulled the boy to his feet and dragged him forwards slightly as an indication to follow him. Yuya stumbled for a second, then followed obediently behind his master once he’d regained his balance. 

 

“Yuya, Yuya, Yuya.” Don Thousand said as they walked, shaking his head with each ‘Yuya’. “Such a free spirit you have, and yet.” He stopped abruptly, causing Yuya to almost trip himself up in an attempt to stop also, Don Thousand turned to face him with a serious look plastered on his face. “You cannot leave this place; you know full well what will happen if you do.”

 

“Yes master.” Yuya mumbled, dropping his head, sadly. 

 

“And still I can see in your eyes, you want to leave me, always running off to play when you should be working, can you not accept things as they are?” His tone suddenly grew very angry. He grabbed Yuya’s collar and pulled his face close. “To think I took you in after you were abandoned, a freak, a hybrid monster, are you not grateful?!”

 

“Yes, yes of course I am!” 

 

“Well then stop all this nonsense and do as you are told.”

 

“Of course.” 

 

Yuya broke away from his master’s hold and bowed respectfully. Don Thousand shook his head again. He continued walking until he reached the door to the castle’s high tower, otherwise known as Yuya’s room. 

 

“You will remain in your room until tomorrow.” Don Thousand said, opening the door. “As punishment for not doing your chores you will not get dinner, and extra work will be issued tomorrow, am I making myself clear?”

 

“Yes master.” Yuya replied. He bowed one last time and began the ascent to his room.

 

Don Thousand retreated to his secret lab beneath the castle. 

 

“That child is far too annoying; the sooner I am rid of him the better.” 

 

He went over to the mystic looking glass he kept on his wall, to ask it of Yuya’s progress. He raised his hand to the symbol above the mirror, a purple spiked emblem with red jewels carved into it. The emblem glowed a soft red colour which overtook the entire mirror. 

 

“Tell me.” He commanded. “How strong are the boy’s powers?”

 

“Far more so than any other in the united lands my lord.” The mystic mirror replied. 

 

“How long before they are powerful enough for my purpose?”

 

“The child shall be ready on his fourteenth birthday my lord.”

 

“His fourteenth birthday… That’s only a week away!”

 

“You are correct my lord.”

 

“Finally! At last after all these years I shall gain the infinite power I seek.”

 

“Yes my lord.”

 

Don Thousand lowered his hand, having finished with the mirror for now. He suddenly became overcome with laughter, a nasty sadistic type of laughter. After thirteen years of raising the annoying pest, he would finally be able to use him for the very purpose he kidnapped him. To become the most powerful being in the united lands…

 

Meanwhile, up in his room, Yuya was blissfully unaware of his master’s plot to steal his powers. He was gazing longingly out of his window as the sun began to set, something he did most nights. His wings fluttered around, desperate to just take off and sail across the horizon. Yuya stroked them gently, as if telling them to calm down, they wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight. 

 

“Yuya?” A small voice said. The thirteen-year-old hybrid looked in the direction of the voice to see Tate, Ali, and Fredrick. He smiled at them and patted his palm on the windowsill. The three animals jumped up and each accepted a stroking from their friend. 

 

“Listen Yuya.” Tate said. “We’re sorry you got in trouble today because of us.”

 

“Yeah, I swear I’ll never go climbing trees again, even if I’m really hungry.” Said Fredrick.

 

“Oh, don’t you worry about that.” Said Yuya, giving them both an affectionate pat. “I’ll always help you out when you need, and it was my choice to leave my work for it.”

 

“The way Don Thousand treats you really stinks.” Ali grumbled, pouting. 

 

“Oh now don’t say that.” Yuya said, “it was good enough of him to take me in and look after me, even though I’m a monster…”

 

“You’re not a monster Yuya!” Ali cried. 

 

“Yeah.” Tate added. “You’re the nicest person we known.”

 

“Thanks guys.” 

 

“You mustn’t believe what Don thousand says about you Yuya, you’re not a freak, or a monster.” Ali insisted. 

 

Yuya smiled at her, but didn’t respond to her comment. 

 

“It’s getting late; we should be getting some rest.” He said instead. He picked Ali up in his arms, while Fredrick and Tate both jumped down themselves. He placed Ali in the basket the three of them slept in and the others hopped in beside her. 

 

“Goodnight.” They chirped. 

 

“Goodnight.” Yuya replied, settling himself in his own bed. He didn’t fall asleep for quite sometime, as his mind was far too laden with thoughts to even consider it. 

 

I appreciate that my friends were trying to make me feel better. But look at me, how could I be anything but a monster? I really am grateful to my master for taking care of me, but I can’t help wishing I could see what the rest of the world is like, to see other people smiling, to make them happy, what I wouldn’t give to do that. But I must remember what my master told me. That I’m a monster and no one would smile for me, they would run away screaming… 

Chapter Text

Yuya yawned tiredly when he finally awoke the next morning. He rubbed the crust from his eyes and stretched his legs out in attempt to rouse them. When he finally stood up he looked over to Ali, Tate and Fredrick’s basket to find them missing. He didn’t worry though; it was quite often for them to wander off at random times to do who knows what. One of the advantages they had, being such small animals in a large castle, was that they could move around undetected by the other two occupants whenever they liked. 

 

“YUYA!” Came the cry of his master. 

 

“Coming,” The young hybrid called, throwing his clothes on and rushing down to see what he wanted. He burst into Don Thousand’s bedchamber to find the sorcerer on his balcony looking out over the forest.

 

“You called master.” He said, bowing respectfully. 

 

“Ah, yes Yuya.” Don Thousand said as he turned around. “You may rise.” 

 

Yuya did so, watching carefully as his master went over to his desk and picked up a scroll. He walked over and placed the roll of cloth in Yuya’s hands. The edge slipped as he did so and it went trailing down past his waist to the floor. 

 

“These are all the extra chores you will do today to make up for the ones you didn’t complete yesterday.” Don Thousand said calmly, as if he’d just announced he was getting a hair cut, or repainting the walls or something. Yuya looked at oversized list in his hands with his mouth half open and large bulbous eyes. He couldn’t be serious! There’s no way he’d be able to get all of this done.

 

“But- but-” Yuya stuttered. 

 

“No buts!” Don Thousand snapped. He sauntered past Yuya and opened the door to leave. “I’m going into town today, you had better have everything done by the time I return.” 

 

He left before Yuya could reply. The slamming of the door echoed in the room for a while as Yuya contemplated what he should do now… He knew he ought to be getting on with his work, but a part of him wondered if it was worth it. He’d get in trouble for not completing it anyway, there was just too much… The only way he could get everything done in time would be to use his magic. Which was most definitely not an option. He’d only ever resorted to it once, and he never wanted to live through that moment again. 

 

Flashback…

 

A nine-year-old Yuya was scrubbing the steps of the castle one afternoon, just as he always did. When he suddenly heard the clock strike four. It was at this hour that his master normally came to inspect his work, if the steps weren’t finished he knew he would be punished. However, there were still thirteen undone, if he wanted to be ready on time there was only one thing he could do. He summoned a portion of his light magic and used it to sweep each step clean in one stroke. It was quite the experience actually. Ever since birth Yuya had been told his powers were dangerous and unnatural. He’d never dared use them, for fear of getting in trouble, or worse hurting someone. Now, though, actually using them, it didn’t feel anything like he’d expected. It felt kind of fun. He began to laugh as he swirled the light energy around in the air, making it dance around him. He became so caught up in it, he hadn’t noticed his master’s presence. Until it was too late.

 

“YUYA!!!” 

 

Yuya gasped and immediately froze where he was, the magic suddenly vanishing as though it had never been there. 

 

“What do you think you’re doing!” Don Thousand yelled, marching swiftly to the quivering boy. “I thought I specifically told you to never use your magic under any circumstances.”

 

“I’m sorry master. Really!” Yuya cried, dropping to his knees, keeping his head bowed low, afraid of what his master might do to him. 

 

“Sorry?! How dare you just appologise after what you did? You think that’ll make up for this?!” 

 

Yuya didn’t answer, he was too terrified to. He’d never seen his master so upset before. 

 

“You realise I can’t let you off lightly for this.” Don Thousand carried on, picking Yuya up by his shirt and dragging him inside. He slung him over his shoulder and marched downstairs to the dungeon, all the while muttering things like, ‘ungrateful brat’ and ‘disobedient freak’. He stopped when they were at the final cell, in the long passage that was the castle dungeons, and threw him inside. Yuya moaned in pain as he tried to get up. He then released a strangled cry as Don Thousand slammed his foot on Yuya’s back to prevent him from doing so. 

 

“Now, for your punishment.” The evil sorcerer said, reaching for the many weapons lining the walls. Yuya’s stomach dropped, realising he was really in for it this time. He’d made mistakes now and then before, but he’d always either received a slap, been sent to his room or lost his meal privileges. Sometimes it was all of those; but he’d never been truly tortured by his master before. Not until now that is. 

 

Don Thousand selected the whip out of the many instruments of pain and began to prepare Yuya for his punishment. He grabbed both edges of the collar on Yuya’s shirt and pulled them apart, creating a huge tear right down the middle. He then slipped it off his shoulders as though it was a jacket and tossed it aside. Yuya didn’t struggle, he knew there was no point, it would only get him into more trouble. He did, however, tense up when Don Thousand decided to remove his trousers and pants as well, so that he was now completely naked. His wrists were then shackled to large chains sliding through hooks on the walls. The chains were yanked, forcing Yuya’s arms apart, and his entire upper body off the floor. So that he was suspended in mid-air by his arms, with his feet dragging slightly on the floor. He suddenly very self conscious, having his body displayed like this. He could feel the blood rushing to his face as his hands fought the shackles to cover himself. 

 

“It’s useless to resist, you sealed your fate when you disobeyed me.” His master said, sounding so indifferent about the situation. Yuya craned his neck against the chains to look at him. He felt the blood fuelling his blush drain right out of his face as he saw the sorcerer standing behind him with the whip raised aloft ready to strike his defenceless back. Yuya screamed in agony at the first crack. He felt the flesh on his back split open, allowing the searing pain to seep through. His master didn’t seem to care how much pain he was in, he just kept lashing him over and over. Neither of them were counting how many lashes it was exactly, because neither of them cared. All Yuya cared about was getting this over with, and all Don Thousand cared about was making sure Yuya never disobeyed him again. He couldn’t risk him discovering how strong his magic was and maybe using it against him. 

 

“Please stop.” Yuya begged as the whip made another mark on his back. By this time, he’d stopped screaming and was just sobbing and groaning in pain. “I can’t take anymore, I’m sorry I used my powers I swear it’ll never happen again.”

 

“I know it won’t.” Don Thousand said. Moving round to Yuya’s front, he cupped the boy’s chin in his icy hand. “I just want to be certain.” 

 

He then reeled back and, with no warning, brought the whip down across Yuya’s chest. Yuya screamed in both surprise and pain. Then again as another lash struck him in his legs this time, as Don Thousand proceeded to make gashes and scars all over his body. And I do mean ALL his body. He kept at it for quite sometime, until Yuya stopped screaming and crying and it was getting kind of tiresome. It was then that he noticed the boy had fallen unconscious. He sighed heavily and coiled the whip back on it’s hook. Then left Yuya there to go get some rest. 

 

He went down and released Yuya the next morning, he also gave him the rest of that day off so his wounds could heal. He may have been cruel, but he was smart, he knew Yuya would be physically incapable of working without rest first. Yuya didn’t realise it was just a technicality though, he thought it was a sign his master still cared about him, and that he’d just done something awful that needed a severe punishment. So from that day on, no matter what, no matter how many times he got in trouble for not completing his work, he never used his powers. 

 

Flashback end.

 

He’d gone four years without using magic once and he wasn’t about to start now. He’d never risk being punished like that again. So he did the work on his list himself. It was tiring, and time consuming, but he managed to get a quarter of it done by midday. 

 

“Yuya.” Ally said, from where she, Tate and Fredrick were watching him. “You really should take a break, you need to eat and I doubt it’s very healthy for you to work so much without rest.” 

 

“It’s okay Ally.” Yuya assured with a smile, though it was very strained. “I can manage, it’s nothing I’m not use to.” 

 

Tate, Ally and Fredrick exchanged worried glances. It was always hard for them to watch Yuya slave away for Don Thousand, who treated him poorly even when he did everything right. It was like Yuya was unable to see just how cruel and evil the man was. Tate had explained to Ally and Fredrick once that he thought Yuya created a delusion that his master cared because it was the one thing he truly wanted. Someone to care about him. They also knew Yuya did everything his master asked because he wanted to make him happy; because making people happy was what Yuya loved to do more than anything. 

 

“We have to do something; he’s going to work himself sick.” Ally whispered to the others. “Again.” She added. Fredrick and Tate both nodded. 

 

“Well we’ll never get anywhere up here, let’s get down.” Fredrick said, hopping off the, incredibly large and unidentified, object they were stood on. Some of the furniture Don Thousand owned really was strange, a lot of them wonder what it was all for, it’s not like he used most of his castle anyway. That was another thing they didn’t like. The way Don Thousand made Yuya clean the entire castle on a regular basis; when he never went anywhere in it aside from his chamber and study. Although they’d explored almost all of this castle and had never seen said study anywhere, so it confused them as it where he disappeared to so often. 

 

“Woah!” Fredrick cried suddenly as he swung off a lamp on the wall. He’d miscalculated his jump and was forced to grab it so stop himself hitting the floor and severely hurting himself. 

 

“Fredrick!” Ally and Tate cried, alerting Yuya to the situation. 

 

“Oh dear.” Fredrick said, scrambling to keep his balance. Suddenly, the lamp he was clinging to slide down the wall several inches and a long flight of steps appeared in the floor. Everyone gasped watching the floor open up to reveal an old crumbling staircase. 

 

“What the?” Ally said in confusion. The three animals immediately clambered down from wherever they were and gathered beside the stairway. Yuya completely forgot about the work he’d been doing and left his cleaning apparatus abandoned on the floor to join his friends. 

 

“It would appear to be some kind of secret tunnel.” Tate noted. “Quite common in old buildings like these.”

 

“Really?” Fredrick asked, fascinated. 

 

“I wonder where it leads…” Yuya muttered, making his way to the head of the stairs. 

 

“Wait, wait!” His friends cried. “Are you crazy! If Don Thousand finds out he’ll do worse than lock you in your room.” 

 

“I know.” Yuya replied, mind suddenly wandering back to his experience in the dungeons. “I won’t be long though, I’ll never get all my work done anyway, he doesn’t have to know about this.” 

 

Ally, Fredrick and Tate exchanged uncertain glances as Yuya descended the steps. Then finally made up theirs minds to follow him. It was dank and dark down in wherever they’d found themselves, and the lower they went, the danker and darker it got. Something brushed up against Ally’s leg and she squealed, jumping onto Yuya’s shoulders. 

 

“You should go back.” He advised. 

 

“We all should.” Tate said, tugging on the leg of Yuya’s trousers. “Come on, before we all get in trouble.” 

 

Yuya carried on, too curious to heed his friend’s warning, when suddenly he bumped into something. 

 

“Ow…” He moaned, clutching his nose. He felt around in front of him to find something protruding from the wall. As he examined it with his fingers he realised it was a lamp. He knew lighting it was a good idea, then they’d be able to see where they were. He took a box of matches out of his pocket and struck one. He had a lot of odd articles in his pockets for his many different jobs around the castle. He used the match to light the lamp on the wall, it flared up revealing their location. There were in a long tunnel, with old crumbling stones and cobwebs lining the walls. The floor was slightly damp and the metal lamps on the walls were rusted, indicating no one had been down here for quite some time. 

 

“Okay, now we really need to get back.” Tate insisted, while Ally and Fredrick nodded, looking terrified. 

 

“Alright, you go then.” Said Yuya, taking Ally from his shoulders and placing her beside the others. 

 

“You have to come to.” Ally said. “Please Yuya.” 

 

Yuya knelt down in front of his friends. “Guys, I know I’ll get in trouble, but… I think this tunnel leads out of the castle, I just want to go somewhere else, even for a few minutes. I just want to see what it’s like, I swear I’ll come right back.” 

 

“But—” Fredrick stated but Tate shoved his paw in his face.

 

“No, Yuya’s right, he deserves a little time away from this place. Besides, haven’t we always wanted him to get out more.” He joked. Ally and Fredrick smiled, and Yuya looked like he was going to cry out of happiness. 

 

“Oh, wait, one moment!” Ally cried, rushing upstairs, Tate and Fredrick hot on her heels. Yuya stood up again, wondering what she was up to. She came back five minutes later with a long brown cloak in her teeth. “’Ere.” She said with it still in her teeth. Yuya took it from her so she could speak properly again. “So master won’t recognise you if you see him.” 

 

Yuya smiled, knowing that wasn’t the only reason she got it for him. He would need to hide his hideous appearance from people. 

 

“Thank you, I’ll try not to be long.” 

 

She nodded and ran back upstairs while Yuya proceeded down the hall, slipping the cloak over his shoulders. He took the lamp from the wall and used it to guide him through the long passage. Cold breezes would flow through the tunnel every now and then, forcing Yuya to huddle deeper in his cloak. It felt like hours before he finally reached the end of the passageway, when in actual fact it had only been ten minutes. He gasped when he stepped outside; he was in a small glade just a few inches from a huge kingdom. The houses and buildings seemed to go one for miles, until they finally reached an enormous castle. It was just like his master’s only much larger and fancier. It was breath-taking. All Yuya had even seen in the last thirteen years had been the rooms and gardens of his master’s castle, this was the first town he’d ever visited. He gazed around in wonder as he entered its borders; large wooden buildings towered overhead and people were running all over the place, shouting and laughing. It was so noisy and hot, and yet, Yuya loved it. He’d always craved excitement and adventure, and finally he was getting some. 

 

“Fresh pastries.” A woman said, holding out a tray of freshly baked goods. 

 

“Oh, no thanks.” Yuya replied, knowing he couldn’t afford it. He nodded politely and moved on as the woman offered to another young man. 

 

“This is wonderful.” Yuya whispered, looking up at the wonderful heights of the town, being careful the keep his face concealed. His face was slightly more normal than the rest of his body, but it still had black swirls curving around the edges, he couldn’t risk people seeing them. 

 

“Stop thief!” Some yelled. Yuya turned to see a young girl around his age with pale skin and pink hair.

 

“Look out!” She screamed, but it was too late. She ran straight into Yuya, sending them both the ground. “Oh no are you okay?” She asked, sitting up. Yuya sat up to, rubbing his head. It was then that he realised how close this girl was; afraid she may see him, if she hadn’t already, he jumped to his feet, tugging his cloak even tighter around himself. 

 

“Yes, yeah of course.” He stuttered. 

 

“Hey, get back here!” A man said, breaking out of the sea of people and pointing an accusing finger at the girl with the pink hair. 

 

“Oh shoot.” She exclaimed. It was at this point that Yuya noticed she had a bundle of food clutched in her arms. 

 

“You’re a thief?” He realised. She looked at him with a frustrated and slightly deadpanned expression, but he wasn’t sure if it was directed at him directly. The angry man who seemed to be after the girl began barrelling towards them, and suddenly Yuya felt a hand on his arm, dragging him away. “Woah hey!” He cried out, running to keep up with the girl. 

 

“This way.” She yelled, pointing towards a small, almost invisible lane between two buildings. She shoved him inside then hoped in herself, just as the man chasing them ran past. They remained still for a few more minutes, until they were sure it was safe. “Phew.” The girl said when she got back out, satisfied the man wouldn’t be coming back. “That was close. You alright?”

 

“Yeah…” Yuya said, absent-mindedly. “Why did you drag me away like that?”

 

“He saw you with me, I didn’t want to leave you to get in trouble to.” She replied, taking a bite of the bread she had, then broke off a bit and held it out. “Want a piece?”

 

“No thank you. I couldn’t eat something that’s not mine, you shouldn’t either.” 

 

“Yeah I know, but I can’t do much else…” She looked sad all of a sudden. “I can’t afford to buy food because I have no money, but I don’t want to starve…” 

 

Yuya suddenly felt sorry for this girl, she seemed like a sweet person, she’d just had a hard life. Judging from the dirty dress she wore, and the tangled up state of her hair it was obvious she had little in the way of living previsions. 

 

“I’m sorry.” He said, giving her a sympathetic look from under his cloak. 

 

“It’s okay.” She replied, smiling brightly again. “So, what’s your name?”

 

“Yuya.”

 

The girl tensed at that. Yuya, that was the name of the missing prince… She shook her head, he’d been missing for years, she’d only been a baby when it happened. She’d only ever heard the stories and rumours about it, living on the streets was great if you wanted to gather information. It’s incredible the things you hear when hiding on someone’s roof or in their bins. The “missing prince of the pendulum” had been big news for years; but slowly became forgotten. Plus, the name Yuya wasn’t that uncommon, there was no way this kid could be the missing prince, it was just too good to be true. 

 

“I’m Zuzu.” The girl said, holding her hand out to Yuya. He took it and gave it a shake, a huge smile forming on his face. He couldn’t believe he’d finally made a friend, aside from Tate, Fredrick and Ally. 

 

“Nice to meet you.” 

 

“How come I haven’t seen you around here before? You’re pretty hard to miss.” She giggled, gesturing to his appearance. Yuya blushed and tugged his hood self-consciously. 

 

“Well… I uh… Come from somewhere else.” He said vaguely. 

 

“Oh, like one of the other four kingdoms?”

 

“Something like that…”

 

“Cool! Which one?”

 

“Um… Well… Uh…” Yuya stammered, unsure of what to tell her, he didn’t want to lie to her, but he couldn’t exactly tell the truth. Zuzu watched him curiously, wondering why he was having such difficulty telling her. Her eyes widened as a thought suddenly struck her. Perhaps something horrible had happened to his home or family…

 

“Never mind.” She said, smiling. “I shouldn’t pry.” 

 

“Oh, oh no that’s alright.” Yuya said, smiling back. 

 

“There you are!” 

 

They both turned to see the man from before, red faced and seething. 

 

“Oh no…” Zuzu whispered, grabbing Yuya’s arm again and trying to make a run for it. 

 

“Oh no you don’t!” The man cried. “You’re not getting away from me this time!”

 

He made a grab for them and managed to get the back of Yuya’s cloak. Zuzu and Yuya both cried out as their dash was halted. Zuzu was the first of the two to recover and spun round to try and free Yuya from his grasp. 

 

“Let go of him!” She yelled. 

 

“No way!”

 

Zuzu growled and tried to think of a way out of this. Her eyes drifted to the clasp on Yuya’s cloak, and it suddenly gave her an idea. With one swift movement she unclipped it and dragged Yuya out into the open with the intention to run, but the sight of Yuya made her stop. The young hybrid gasped in horror as he was dragged out of his cloak. His black skin shinning in the sun, wings flaring out behind him in a desperate attempt to regain their feeling after being trapped for so long. 

 

“No…” He whispered in fright as hoards of people stopped what they were doing to stare at him, both shocked and horrified. 

 

“M- M- Monster!” The man holding his cloak cried, dropping it in disgust. 

 

“No, no.” Yuya shook his head, desperately hoping this was all a dream. A horrible nightmare, and he was about to wake up in his room, in his tower and go do his chores just like every other day. Unfortunately, the screams of people as they pointed at him proved him wrong. He looked at Zuzu next to him to see she was staring at him with a look of disbelief and something else he couldn’t make out. It didn’t see like a good sign. He didn’t have time to dwell on it though, by now a large crowd had gathered, and they looked awfully threatening. Yuya backed up as they advanced on him. 

 

“Please stay away, I don’t want any trouble I swear.” He cried frantically. 

 

“Demon!” A woman cried. 

 

“No I—” Yuya began but was cut off by a rope snapping around his arm. He followed it to the hands of a young man, probably in his mid-twenties, glaring hatefully at him. Yuya gasped as another rope coiled around his other arm by another young man. Then suddenly a dozen more shot out from the ground snapping at every part of his body. His legs, arms, neck, even around his wings. 

 

“Go back to hell!” Someone shouted, throwing an apple, they happened to be holding, at him. 

 

“Ah!” Yuya cried as it struck the side of his head. He reeled to the side, only the support of the ropes keeping him upright. For some reason the crowd of people found this hilarious and decided to laugh and point at Yuya, who just stared in shock. This wasn’t right, he’d always wanted to make people happy but not like this. They shouldn’t be getting pleasure from his pain, no one should ever get pleasure from pain. Beautiful, and exciting and mysterious things were supposed to make people happy, like adventures and plays and duels and all kinds of other things. Not the suffering of another. 

 

“Yeah monster, go back to whatever darkness you spawned from.” Someone yelled, before Yuya was hit in the chest with an egg. It shattered on contact, making a horrible sticky mess of his shirt, not to mention so of it splattered his face and hair. This made the crowd laugh harder, and prompted them to join in on the assault. Yuya suddenly found himself under heavy fire from a variety of produce and even some rocks. Whatever people could find they threw, laughing cruelly. Yuya tried desperately to escape, flailing about in his bindings and flapping his wings around in an attempt to take off. The men tying him down retaliated by throwing more ropes, and pulling the other ones to the ground forcing him onto his knees. 

 

“Hey stop that!” Someone cried. Yuya looked over in shock to see Zuzu trying to wrestle a rope from one of the man restraining him. He shoved her aside easily, sending her sprawling across the floor with a cry on pain and surprise. 

 

“Zuzu!” Yuya yelled out, concerned for his friend. Unfortunately, her form was absorbed by the growing crowd as more people came to sling food and insults at him. 

 

“Freak!”

 

“Devil!”

 

“Monster!”

 

“Stop! Please!” Yuya screamed. He looked around the crowd, trying to see if anyone had heard his cry for help. However, his eyes froze as he recognised someone. Behind the crowd, sitting resplendently on his horse, with a dark scowl on his face, was his master. As soon as he saw him, Yuya’s eyes filled with hope, surely his master would save him. Surely he would… Yuya’s thoughts drifted away as his master shook his head, looking disappointed. Then merely continued to watch his torment. Yuya slumped over in defeat, dropping his head to the ground, allowing tears to fall from his eyes as he realised he’d let his master down. This was his punishment, he realised. He’d been warned of what would happen if he stepped outside the castle, but he did so anyway. And why? Nothing but the selfish desire to have fun. He should have been grateful and stayed in the castle; now he was paying the price for his mistake. Man… If he thought it was hard to see himself in the mirror before… Well now he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to face himself again. He was so disgusted with himself. He didn’t even try to fight now, just allowed the crowd of people to attack him how they wanted. He deserved it after all. 

 

Don Thousand watched as dozens of people threw food and rocks and other items at his young servant. Laughing and jeering as they did. He had to fight down a smirk when the poor boy gave in and slumped to the floor. He could have even sworn he saw tears trailing down his face. This was wonderful. Not only did he get a good show but now he didn’t have to punish Yuya as the people on the town had taken care of that for him. He watched the proceedings for quite some time, until it finally began to bore him and he decided to step in. He couldn’t risk Yuya becoming desperate and using his magic to get away. That would ruin everything. He pulled on the reigns of his horse and took off towards the crowd. They panicked and rushed aside to allow him through; the men holding the ropes loosened their grip in surprise and Don Thousand was able to slice through them with his sword in just one motion. He picked Yuya up and sat him on the back of the horse, then took off into the forest. 

 

“Yuya!” Someone called as they vanished amoung the trees, neither Yuya nor Don Thousand hearing the cry. The cry that came for Zuzu Boyle as she tried to catch them up, wanting to see if Yuya was alright. She ran into the woods just as they had done, following the vague trail they left. She felt bad that she had been the one to expose Yuya, and then been unable to help him as he was publically degraded. She made herself a promise then and there, that she would not return to town until she’d found him. With that set firmly in her mind, she began the journey to Don Thousand’s castle. 

Chapter Text

Don Thousand threw Yuya as roughly as possible into the castle. The poor boy was so exhausted from the day’s events he was unable to steady himself and collapsed against the floor. He rolled onto his back and looked up at his master with wide frightened eyes. Don Thousand just looked down with disappointment in his eyes. He walked slowly inside, leaving the door to bang shut behind him. He kept pacing around the room, looking deep in thought. Yuya didn’t move from his spot on the floor. He was too afraid to do anything. He had expected his master to yell at him. To beat him. So the unexpected silence and pacing was very unnerving. 

 

“Do you see now?” Don Thousand asked, turning a glare on Yuya. “Do you understand why I won’t allow you to leave?”

 

“Yes, master.” Yuya nodded, tears welling up in his eyes as the horrible memories flashed through his head. “I swear I’ll never disobey you again.”

 

Don Thousand sighed. “Exactly how many times have you made that promise?”

 

“I don’t know.” Yuya felt the guilt swirling in his heart.

 

“You never learn.”

 

“I have this time I swear!” Yuya got of the ground, looking pleadingly at his master. “I’m so so sorry I left I was going to come back I promise, I just wanted to see it… Just once… I will never do anything like this again. I realise now that you were right. Even in a disguise I was a fool to think I’d get away with it.” 

 

Don Thousand looked at him for a few minutes, as he panted and waited patiently. The two held their eye contact, neither very sure what was going through the other’s mind. Until finally Don Thousand turned away and told Yuya to get out of his sight. 

 

“Master I—” 

 

“Go.” He said firmly. “I will not be in the presence of a failure.” His words punctured Yuya’s heart like the smoothest of daggers. “You will remain in your room until I choose to send for you.” Yuya nodded sadly and began to leave, when Don Thousand stopped him. 

 

“Oh and you might want to get changed.” He smirked, now that Yuya was no longer looking. The young hybrid tensed at the comment. Blushing hard as he remembered the way he’d been publically humiliated today. He kept walking calmly though, trying not to make even more of a fool of himself. As soon as he got outside he released a sob and rushed to his room. 

 

Meanwhile, Don Thousand had returned to his secret lab, laughing like a manic. 

 

“Oh that was priceless.” He chocked out between his laughter. “The way he begged for my help when they attacked him. How pathetic.” He halted his laughter in order to smirk. “In just five days I’ll drain his soul and steal his powers. It almost seems a shame, he’s become such good entertainment… Oh well, at least he’ll die doing what he loves.” 

 

Whilst upstairs, Ally, Fredrick and Tate were eagerly awaiting Yuya’s return. They were sure he’d burst through the door with a huge smile on his face, going on and on and on about how wonderful his day had been. So they got a big shock when he did finally get there… In all fairness they did guess some of it right. He did burst through the door. However, instead of a smile, he had a full waterfall of tears cascading down his face; his hair was matted; and his clothes were absolutely trashed. He threw himself onto his bed and began sobbing uncontrollably, coughing and sniffling every now and then. The three animals exchanged disappointed glances, realising the day had not gone to plan. 

 

“Yuya?” Ally asked hesitantly, approaching the bed. She, Tate and Fredrick hopped up beside him, nuzzling him gently in an attempt to get his attention. He sniffed and raised his head to look at them with red puffy eyes. The look on his face broke the three hybrids’ hearts. It couldn’t be summed up in one word, though broken, humiliated, crushed, depressed and hopeless came to mind. 

 

“What happened?” Tate asked. Yuya just sniffled again, swinging his legs round to hang off the side of his bed. He still kept his head down and looked like an innocent puppy that’d just been beaten in every way possible. 

 

“I—I- there was—it—and—” Yuya just began stuttering nonsense. Ally placed a paw on his leg sympathetically while Fredrick crawled into his lap. 

 

“It’s okay.” Tate continued. “But you might feel better if you talk about it.” 

 

Yuya sighed; he knew they were right, but he hated to think about it. He’d been so terrified, alone and confused; but no one had stepped in to help him. Well… it looked like Zuzu was trying to help. Zuzu… His first friend on the outside. Did she still want to be his friend? He shook his head sadly. No. There was no way. She probably thought he was a monster just like everyone else… Tears stung his eyes again but he held them back. He took a deep breath and proceeded to tell his story…

 

“Ow!” Zuzu cried as she got her foot caught in a tree root. She’d been wandering through the forest for hours, following the trail left by Yuya and that strange man who rescued him. It was getting dark and cold out but she refused to go home until she’d seen Yuya. She felt really guilty that he’d been hurt by the villagers and she’d been powerless to help. Sure she’d been shocked by his appearance but… He was the first person in years to had actually be kind towards her. For as long as she could remember she’d been on the streets. She knew she’d had a family once but all she could remember was a lot of shouting and screaming then nothing. It was all blank. Her earliest memory was being found sleeping in an alleyway. Ever since she’d been on her own, the people of the town knew her as a thief and a menace and either avoided or tried to catch her. They never could though, she was too good for them. Yuya though, he was different. He didn’t avoid her, even when he found out she was a thief. He was even kind and understanding about it. He was probably the first friend she’d had in years… So she felt awful about what had happened. She had been powerless to stop it but she still felt extremely guilty. At the same time, she also felt furious. Furious at the townsfolk for what they’d done. Yuya had looked so terrified and even pleaded with them to stop but they just carried on laughing and tossing things at him when he was so vulnerable. It was lucky that stranger was able to get to him and take him away from there. However, she was sure he’d still be upset, perhaps even angry at her for not helping. So she knew she had to find him and straighten things out. Besides, it wasn’t like she had anywhere else to be. Her “home” was nothing more than a few sheets and sticks atop one of the tall houses in the town. She lived alone, so there wouldn’t be anyone worrying about her and wondering where she was… She sighed heavily, feeling the strain of her many years of loneliness. When her thoughts were suddenly distracted by a light shinning in the distance. Could that be where Yuya lives? The thought made her rush towards it even despite how tired she was. As she got closer she found the place was a lot bigger than it first seemed. When she finally broke out of the trees and into a garden she discovered it was an enormous castle. She had no idea it this place existed, and there weren’t a lot of things she didn’t know. Did the people in the village even know about it? As she pondered over reasons for why there was a strange castle in the middle of the woods, her eyes suddenly caught sight of a familiar figure. At the window of one of the towers, the one from which the light was shinning, was Yuya. He was gazing up at the sky with a look of longing and sorrow. 

 

“Yuya!” She cried, running towards him. “Hey! Yuya!”

 

“…And then I ran up here.” 

 

Tate, Ally and Fredrick both just stared into space with wide, horrified eyes as Yuya finished his story. At first they had been thrilled, Yuya had finally made a friend his own age, who also happened to he human. However, their happiness soon deteriorated when they discovered he’d been tied up and forced to endure an onslaught of numerous things from the people. They knew there had been some truth in Don Thousand’s words about how people would act if they saw Yuya, but they never thought it’d be this severe. 

 

“We’re so sorry Yuya.” Tate whined, ashamed. 

 

“Oh it’s okay.” Yuya said, giving him a stroke. He picked Fredrick up off his lap and stood up. “It was mine, master warned me what would happen if I left, but I had to be selfish and stupid and try anyway.” 

 

“Don’t say that.” Ally cried. “You didn’t do anything wrong Yuya, it was those humans who attacked you and Don Thousand who locked you up here.”

 

“Now don’t talk like that about master.” Yuya said, walking over to the window. “He was only trying to protect me.” 

 

The three animals sighed. Why couldn’t Yuya see Don Thousand didn’t care about him, that to him he was nothing but a slave. They shook their heads. They knew why, because Yuya didn’t want to believe there was no one in the world willing to care about him. Aside of course from the three of them. Though they’d only met Yuya when he was six years old, before that it’d just been him and Don Thousand. So for those first six years, Yuya had built up an illusion that Don Thousand did everything he did because he cared about him. It seemed to them he’d been doing it sub-consciously, since it was often very obvious that his master didn’t care for him. His sub-conscious probably built the illusion as a defence. The three of them knew how weak Yuya’s heart was. It would crush him to be alone and unloved. So he had to fool himself. He had to believe his master cared for him. At least that was how it looked to the three animal hybrids. They looked on silently as their friend stared out the window the way he always did, when suddenly a faint noise caught their attention.

 

“Yuya! Hey, Yuya!” Someone yelled. Yuya was startled out of his thoughts and looked around to see if he could spot the voice’s owner. He almost jumped in surprise when he saw none other than Zuzu running across the garden towards his tower with a big smile on her face.

 

“Zuzu?!” He cried. “What are you doing here?” She stopped below the tower, not even looking tired. 

 

“I needed to speak with you, can you come down?”

 

Yuya flinched at the request, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Zuzu or the three animals still sat on his bed. 

 

“No way!” He yelled back. “I’m never going outside again.” 

 

Zuzu’s eyes widened. She hadn’t expected him to say that. Not that she was surprised by it. If she’d been through what he had today, she’d avoid going out to. 

 

“Well then I’ll come up.” She said.

 

“How?” He asked. 

 

“Um…” She thought about it. How was she going to get up there? “I don’t suppose you could fly me up? You wouldn’t really be coming out if you did that.”

 

Yuya looked hesitant. 

 

“You shouldn’t be here.” He called down. “Please just go home.”

 

“No.” She said firmly. “I have to speak to you, now either you come down and bring me up or I’ll… Uh… I’ll start screaming.” It wasn’t much of a threat, but it was all she could think of. It was enough for Yuya; if Don Thousand heard her screaming she’d be in trouble, who knows how he’d punish her. He quickly jumped from the window ledge and flew down beside her. He stopped just shy of the ground, still too scared to place his feet on the outside again. 

 

“Come on then.” He said, offering his arms to her. She laughed nervously and placed her arms around his neck, then hooked her feet into his arms. He flapped his wings, flying a lot slower up to the tower than he had coming down from it. It was only when the two got inside that it finally dawned on her he was going carefully so as not to frighten or risk harming her. He really was a sweet boy… 

 

“Thank you.” She said. 

 

“Um… You’re welcome.” Yuya said. 

 

“Yuya, who’s this?” Fredrick asked. Zuzu looked at the three animals on the bed and jumped back in surprise. 

 

“Did—did they j-just—”

 

“It’s okay.” Yuya said, placing a soothing hand on her shoulder. “They’re my friends. Zuzu this is Tate, Ally and Fredrick.” He pointed to each respective friend. “Guys this is Zuzu, from town.”

 

“Oh…” The three of them said, as the realised who she was. Ally hopped off the bed and padded over to her. 

 

“Nice to meet you.” She purred, rubbing affectionately against Zuzu’s leg. Zuzu giggled and picked her up, giving her a stroke in her arms. 

 

“You’re so cute.” She said. Yuya laughed and she went over to pet Fredrick and Tate also. 

 

“So um… Why are you here?” Yuya asked. 

 

“Oh…” Zuzu sighed, putting Ally down and dropping her head. “Well I wanted to apologise.”

 

“Huh…” Yuya tilited his head, confused. 

 

“It was my fault you got… Well you know… Today…”

 

“Oh that, don’t worry about it, it was my fault.” 

 

“No, no it was mine, I was the one who took your cloak off and then… I just stood there while they…” She broke off to conceal a sob. Yuya went and sat next to her, placing a comforting hand on her arm.

 

“No, I saw you trying to help, thank you for that by the way. I thought you would have been afraid like the others. I don’t blame you if you’re disgusted with my appearance.”

 

“What?” She cried. “How can you think that, there’s nothing wrong with the way you look.” 

 

“You’re joking right.” He laughed nervously. “I’m a monster…”

 

“You’re not a monster Yuya.” Fredrick said, Tate and Ally nodding along. 

 

“I think you’re the kindest person I’ve ever met.” Zuzu said. “No one’s ever been nice to me, I’m just a poor, worthless nobody.”

 

“No you’re not.” Said Yuya. “I think you’re amazing, and smart and kind. You even came all the way here to see me, and I’m a freak.”

 

“Oh will you two stop putting yourselves down!” Tate cried, tired of seeing the two try to make each other feel better and downgrade themselves at the same time. “Neither of you are pathetic, lowlife freaks can we just agree on that.” 

 

Everyone was silent for a few minutes. Then they all collapsed, laughing. It made them all feel wonderful to let loose and laugh for once. None of them could really recall a time they’d been so happy and content before. They all wished it would last forever, but sadly… All things must come to an end eventually… This one ended with Yuya’s door flying open; with his master stood on the other side. 

Chapter Text

“Master!” Yuya cried in alarm.

 

“Yuya, I’ve decided that—” Don Thousand began, but cut himself off when he saw Zuzu standing next to Yuya. “And who is your friend?” He glared darkly at Yuya as he asked this, trying to keep his voice even. 

 

“I-I’m Zuzu, I just came to see if Yuya was okay after what happened today,”

 

“Did you now.”

 

“Are you the one who rescued Yuya?” She decided to ask. Don Thousand nodded.

 

“Master, please it was my fault don’t punish her.” Yuya began to beg. 

 

“He shouldn’t punish either of you.” Tate said, walking over towards him. “Yuya and Zuzu have done nothing wrong so just—”

 

He was cut off as Don Thousands foot connected with his stomach, sending him crashing into the bookcase at the side of the room. 

 

“Tate!” Everyone else cried. Ali and Fredrick rushed to his side. Don Thousand gave them a disgusted stare and they cowered away from him in fear. Yuya took the opportunity to grab Zuzu and attempted to take off out the window again but Don Thousand caught the two in an energy beam. He threw them into the wall and held them there, completely immobilised. 

 

“Now then.” He said, approaching Zuzu. “I don’t like it when people trespass on my land, or interact with my servants.” He glared at Yuya. “So… How to punish you…”

 

“No!” Yuya cried. “Please it was my fault punish me, just leave her alone.”

 

“Yuya, you know full well I can’t let her get away with this, I don’t bend my rules for anyone, even you.” 

 

“Look I’m sorry I didn’t mean to trespass I just wanted to see if Yuya was okay.” Zuzu reasoned. 

 

“I don’t care what your reason was, you still entered my grounds without permission so I have no choice but to punish you.” 

 

He raised his hand, a bright red orb appearing in the centre as he prepared his spell. Zuzu winced preparing herself. 

 

“No!” Yuya screamed, unintentionally summoning his powers. They released a massive burst that knocked Don Thousand across the room. Yuya and Zuzu were released from his spell and fell back to the floor. Don Thousand staggered to his feet and looked at Yuya with the most murderous stare the young boy had ever seen. What he had just done finally hit him and he thought he was going to collapse in fear. He’d used his powers again, even if it was involuntary, he’d still broken his promise. “I-I swear I didn’t mean it I was—” Yuya stammered, shaking in pure fright.

 

“Yuya?” Zuzu said hesitantly, tugging on his sleeve in an attempt to get him to move. Unfortunately, he was so scared he couldn’t feel his legs. 

 

“That’s it!” Don Thousand said, his voice low and horribly dark. He raised his hands and conjured his magic. A bright red light surrounded the entire room, and when it died down Yuya, Zuzu and Don Thousand were all gone. 

 

The three of them appeared down in the dungeons. Don Thousand chained Zuzu against the wall of one of the cells, then tossed Yuya in the cell opposite. 

 

“How dare you.” He growled. “I told you never to use your powers under any circumstances.”

 

“It was an accident.” Yuya whimpered. He cried out as he received a back-hand slap from his master. 

 

“Hey!” Zuzu yelled angrily. “He didn’t mean it, and so what if he used some magic, that’s not such a big deal is it?”

 

Don Thousand glared at her but didn’t respond. Instead he turned back to Yuya and chained him to the wall with anti-magic shackles. 

 

“Master please.” Yuya begged. “I’ll take any punishment you can think of, as many as you like, just please let Zuzu go.”

 

“I don’t think so.” Don Thousand replied. “I’ll deal with her at some point, for now she can keep you company while you’re down here for the next week.”

 

“Week?!”

 

Don Thousand used his magic to sense Yuya’s soul. He felt that the young hybrid had all his usual emotions loneliness, determination, desire, love, kindness etc. However, the ones that stood out the most were fear and hope. He almost smirked. Even after everything, the pathetic child still hoped he cared about him. Time to crush that hope. 

 

“You think I kept you here to protect you don’t you? That I wanted you to keep your magic contained because it was dangerous?”

 

“Yes…” Yuya replied hesitantly, not sure where his master was going with this. Don Thousand smirked. 

 

“Then it’s high time I told you the truth.” 

 

Yuya looked confused. 

 

“Time I told you the true story of your life. Your parents were horrified when you were born, they were utterly disgusted to have given birth to such a hideous monster. They tried everything to get rid of you but no one would take you in, they didn’t want to raise such a freak. Eventually they came to me, at first I too was disgusted by you but then I took a look at your magic. I found incredibly strong magic within you, and decided to keep you until it had matured enough for me to steal it. I never cared about you, I only ever cared about your powers, once they’re ready on your fourteenth birthday, I’ll drain them and your soul.” He turned away from his horrified servant. “I thought you should know the hard truth before you die.” He exited the cell, locking it behind him. “That no one ever loved you.” He walked back down the corridor and out of the dungeons, laughing the whole time. 

 

Zuzu stared with her mouth open, too shocked by what she’d just heard to say anything. While Yuya just stared at the floor, looking exactly how you’d expect someone who’d just discovered they were hated by everyone would look. It was more than that though. What Don Thousand had said had shattered his illusion; and he was finally able to see just how much his master had hated him all these years. In the way it had been obvious to Ali, Tate and Fredrick it was now obvious to Yuya. He began scolding himself in his head for being such a fool. How could he have ever thought there was someone who cared about him. He was a freak, a monster, a demon. This new revelation made him question everything. Were the people in town right about him? Did he deserve to die? Did Ali, Fredrick, Tate and Zuzu ever really like him? Of course they didn’t… They were probably using him too… He’d never have real friends. He allowed these thoughts to consume him as he laid down on the cold stone floor of his cell, curled into a ball and started to cry. He tried not to make too much noise but couldn’t help the small sobs and sniffs that escaped now and then. 

 

Zuzu felt a few tears escape her eyes too, it pained her to see how devastated her friend was. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. There was no way it could be true. Yuya might have unusual features, but he had one of the kindest hearts she’d ever seen. One of the weakest too. He’d obviously been through a lot in his life that had made him desperate for love. Perhaps it was being abandoned by his parents; or growing up alone. Maybe both. Either way, Yuya had developed a heart of glass. Pure and fragile. 

 

“Yuya?” She tried to get his attention. “Please look at me.”

 

He sniffed and peaked out behind his bangs, but didn’t uncurl himself. Zuzu almost gasped when he looked at her. His eyes were so broken and hollow. 

 

“Listen, I know you must be hurting right now, but you can’t believe what he says. There are people that care about you, you’re one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.”

 

“Come on…” He muttered, lowering his head again. “I’m a monster, no one could ever care about me.”

 

“Oh stop being such a moron.” Zuzu yelled. He sat up in surprise. “I care about you! Ali cares about you! Tate cares about you! Fredrick cares about you! And I’m sure if you spent more time outside this place you’d find others like us who can look past your appearance. So you have black skin and wings, it could be worse.” She lowered her head. “I always grew up thinking no one cared about me, I was always alone. I had to steal to survive and sleep on the street or wherever I could find. No one offered to take me in, though some threw me the occasional penny now and then, just out of pity. But then I met you.” She looked up. “I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours since we met but you, and your other friends, well the four of you are the first people in a long time to be kind to me and make me feel wanted.” She looked at him pleadingly. “So please don’t give up yet.” 

 

Yuya just stared at her, completely dumbstruck. He flopped against the wall, becoming lost in his thoughts. He was so conflicted right now. There was one voice in his head, that sounding suspiciously like his master, that was telling him he was worthless and alone. While at the same time, another voice that sounded rather like Zuzu’s was telling him he did have friends and should carry on for their sake. 

 

Meanwhile…

 

Don Thousand had returned to his bedchamber and was stood out on his balcony, trying everything he could to not fall over in laughter. The look on Yuya’s face when he spun him that load of garbage was priceless. He’d looked like a lost kitten; or a puppy that just got kicked; or some other cute animal that had been hurt in some way. The point was he’d looked innocent and heartbroken. Don Thousand had always enjoyed playing with his servant’s emotions. He craved power, and being able to control Yuya made him feel powerful. Someday he would command everyone that way. 

 

“Besides.” He said aloud to himself. “It’s not like it was a total lie. Sure his parents didn’t really abandon him, but I have really just been using him for his powers.” He chuckled. “To think someone so weak and pathetic houses one of the strongest magical entities in the world.” 

 

He began to laugh again, not realising he’d been overheard by the small, temporarily forgotten animals, that had snuck into his room and made off with his keys…

 

Back in the dungeons, Yuya was still conflicted over what to do. 

 

“Do you…” He began, drawing Zuzu’s attention. It was the first thing he’d said in ages. “Do you really think I could find people… And…” 

 

She smiled. “Yes. If we get out of here, find your friends. The five of us could get away from here, find somewhere peaceful. We could all be free, and happy.” 

 

He smiled back. “I’d like that.”

 

“Then let’s do it.” 

 

The two of them jumped at the new voice. Then broke into massive grins as they saw it was Tate who had spoken. He, Ali and Fredrick stood in the corridor between the two cells, and Fredrick held the keys to said cells in his mouth. He passed them to Ali who climbed up the bars to the lock of Yuya cell and opened it. She then freed him from his shackles and gave him the keys, he then proceeded to free Zuzu and the five of them left the dungeon. 

 

“Don Thousand’s in his chamber, if we head over to the hall with the secret passage on the other side of the castle he shouldn’t catch us.” Tate said. Yuya nodded and the five of them hurried to the hall as quickly and quietly as they could. Once there, Yuya pulled the lamp down opening the secret passage. 

 

“Wow…” Zuzu whispered in awe. Yuya began making his way down the steps, gesturing for the others to follow. He snatched the lamp from the wall on the way and lit it with one of the matches in pockets. He also worked out that pulling on that lamp shut the entrance to the staircase. Having successfully escaped the castle and covered their tracks, the five of them began making their way along the tunnel to the outside. 

 

“This tunnel comes out just at the entrance to the kingdom.” Yuya informed the others. They all noticed the slight hitch in his voice. 

 

“I don’t think we should go back there.” Zuzu said, knowing Yuya would never be able to set foot there without being caught. Plus, she didn’t think he was mentally prepared for it, considering he felt uneasy about even putting his feet on the ground outside his master’s castle.

 

“But you—”

 

“Have no reason to go back there. I have no friends or family, and my only worldly possessions are a tarp and some cardboard boxes.”

 

They all lapsed into silence for a few minutes, unsure of what to say. Eventually they reached the end of the tunnel, and all hell broke lose when they stepped outside. The minute Yuya saw the village in-front of them he panicked and rushed back inside, whimpering in fear. The other’s sighed. They understood why he was afraid but they were never going to get anywhere this way. 

 

“Come on Yuya.” Ali soothed, going inside and nuzzling against him. “We’ll head off into the forest and you’ll never have to see that village again.”

 

Yuya sniffed and hesitantly crept outside. Zuzu took his hand and lead him away from the village and into the forest. She didn’t stop walking until it was completely out of sight. 

 

“There. Now there’s nothing that can hurt you. Any of you.”

 

“Hey she’s right!” Fredrick exclaimed. “We’re free!”

 

“We’re free?” Ali said. 

 

“We’re free!” Tate confirmed and the three of them began dancing and cheering in joy. Zuzu and Yuya laughed fondly as they watched their friends. 

 

“Thank you.” Yuya said. 

 

“What for?” 

 

He turned to her and smiled. “For not giving up on me.” 

 

“Oh yea I almost forgot.” Ali cried. “Yuya we have great news.”

 

“What is it?” He asked. The three animals stopped jumping around and gathered in-front of the two humans. 

 

“You might want to sit down.” Tate advised. 

 

“Okay…” Yuya said, unsure. 

 

“Over there.” Said Zuzu, pointing to an overturned log just a few feet away. The five of them went over and sat down. “There’s still a few hours of darkness yet before the sun comes up.” Zuzu continued. “We better rest here for the rest of the night and figure something out tomorrow morning.”

 

“Alright. Why don’t we get some rest first then, you can give me your news in the morning.” Said Yuya. 

 

“Fine.” Ali replied. Zuzu climbed a nearby tree and pulled down some of the branches with thick leaves. She layed them out in a kind of large bed for them to sleep on. 

 

“Come on then.” She said, laying down. The others coming to join her, Yuya laying on the other side of the leaf bed while the three animals huddled together in the corner. “I hope it’s warm enough.”

 

“Much warmer than the dungeons that’s for sure.” Yuya muttered. “This is fine.” He then added, sounding sleepy. No one replied. Tate, Ali and Fredrick were already asleep, and Zuzu was about to drift off herself. It didn’t take long for them to all doze off, it had been a long and incredibly stressful day. Thankfully they weren’t in any danger, most people kept out of the infinite forest, and Don Thousand didn’t bother to check if they were still locked up in the dungeon. So they made it through the night without issue. In fact they were all so exhausted they slept till midday the next day. 

 

Zuzu was the first of the group to awake, she immediately began searching for something they could use for breakfast. She went off to scour through the trees for some fruit or berries or whatever other edible things grew in the forest. By the time she made it back, with an armful of various fruits, the others were all awake and sat on or around the old log again. 

 

“Good morning.” Ali greeted. 

 

“Good morning.” Zuzu replied, placing the food down. Everyone grabbed something and sat down to eat. 

 

“So what was it you wanted to tell me?” Yuya asked. 

 

“Oh yes!” Ali exclaimed. “We overheard Don Thousand last night, and he said you weren’t really abandoned.”

 

“He— He said what?” Yuya stuttered, completely shocked. Tate, Fredrick and Ali told him everything they’d overheard. Yuya was completely overjoyed at the news. If he hadn’t been abandoned that meant his family was still out there somewhere, and might actually miss him. 

 

“This is great!” Zuzu cried. Then she stood up, seeming to have reached a decision. “Now I know what we’re going to do. We’re going to help Yuya find his family.”

 

“Really?!” Yuya said, at the same time Ali, Tate and Fredrick voiced their agreement. “But how will we find them, we don’t even know them, and what if they don’t want me because I’m a monster and—” He was cut off as Zuzu slammed a hand over his mouth. 

 

“We’ll worry about those things later. I’m sure your family misses you and will be thrilled to see you again. Also, we don’t exactly have anything else to do so why not look for them.” She giggled and sat back down again.”

 

“I think it’s a great idea.” Said Tate.

 

“Me too.” Ali agreed. 

 

“Well…” Yuya muttered. “Okay, but where do we start looking?”

 

“Well.” Said Zuzu, pulling a parchment out of her pocket. “Most people live within one of the five kingdoms. We can’t go back to the kingdom of GX, after… Well… You know…” Yuya nodded with a slight shudder as the other three shot him a pitying look. Zuzu unrolled her parchment, revealing it to be a map of the divided lands. “So… The next closest kingdom is the kingdom of ZEXAL.” 

 

“Okay then, let’s go.” Said Fredrick. 

 

“What go? Just like that?” Cried Yuya. 

 

“Why not?” Zuzu laughed, she then began tracing lines on the map. “If we continue north for about two days we should make reach it without problem.” 

 

“Great let’s go.” Ali said, shifting about on her feet eagerly. The others all laughed. 

 

“Are you guys sure about this?” Yuya asked one more time. They all nodded, staring into his eyes with such determination that he knew there was no way to talk them out of it. He smiled gratefully, and for the first time in his life, he felt truly loved. 

 

So with that final thought, the five friends set out on their adventure…

Chapter Text

The journey to the kingdom of ZEXAL was two days long, not including the time the five friends took for breaks. To pass the time the five of them told stories. It began with simple tales they’d known as children that set them all laughing. However, as the days dragged on, they began to share more about their lives. The things they said began to get deeper and they started to get to know each other better.

 

Fredrick’s story…

 

Three years after he and his two friends had been transformed into animals and made to live in the castle of an evil sorcerer, they were still trying to get use to their new lives. Fredrick found himself tripping over his large feet a lot now that he was a rabbit. Though on the bright side, since gaining such large powerful teeth, eating had become a lot easier. He’d always loved food, though his attempts at finding some often got him into trouble. Like today. He woke up after oversleeping to find the other three people that slept in the room had already left. He yawned and hopped out of the basket. He pushed the door open with his forehead and hopped down the stairs. He made his way to the garden where he and his two friends had taken to playing. He wandered along the garden wall for a bit trying to locate his two animal friends. About halfway down the line he heard shouting coming from one of the windows just above him followed by a crack and a cry of pain. He sighed, the sound of Don Thousand abusing Yuya wasn’t uncommon but very heart wrenching.

 

“Ow.” He moaned, rubbing his nose. He’d been so distracted he’d walked right into a tree. It had been planted too close to the wall and grown into it. He looked up at it too see a huge, bright, ripe apple growing on one of the upper branches. It was so mouth-watering to look at. Fredrick couldn’t resist, he clambered up onto the branch he’d walked into and hoisted himself up through the tree towards it. When he got to the branch bellow it he found he was too short to reach it. He stretched as hard as he could, moving his big paws up so he was on his tiptoes until he was finally able to reach. He knocked it so the stem snapped, however when he tried to catch it he slipped and went tumbling to the ground. He landed in a head of leaves with the apple on his stomach. He moaned in pain for a few minutes then rolled over and shook his head. He pulled the apple into his lap and sat to eat. With his powerful teeth it took only four bites before the entire thing was gone. He sighed happily once his stomach was full and stood up, giving his body a quick shake to reawaken his senses. When he looked around he found himself in an unfamiliar part of the gardens, there were trees all around, their roots buried into a swimming pool of leaves. He knew he couldn’t be in the infinite forest because the apple tree he’d fallen from was in the centre of the gardens. This had to be that collection of trees he’d seen from time to time over the wall separating the regular part of the garden from the part that remained unused and overgrown. He began to panic as he realised he was probably trapped, and since no one came to this part of the garden any more, they might not find him. 

 

“Help! Help!” He cried, running up to the wall and scraping at it with his claws. “Please someone help!” Unfortunately, no one heard his cries. Don Thousand was in his lab, Yuya was dusting the west wing and Tate and Ali were playing tag through the castle’s main halls. His voice rose several octaves as his cries became more frantic. He screamed out for help for several more minutes until his voice became so horse he had no choice but to give up and slump down against the wall.

 

“All this for an apple…” He sighed. Sure it had been a nice looking apple but it wasn’t worth getting trapped down here for the rest of his life. Not that he enjoyed life as a yellow rabbit in an evil lord’s castle but it was better than nothing; and nothing was definitely what he had right now. He began stroking his paws over the leaves of the ground sadly. He mulled over what to do when a snap caught his attention. His long ears danced around as they searched for the source of the sound. They flicked upwards again as another snap sounded. Fredrick jumped to his feet and hopped in the direction he’d heard it. 

 

“Hello?” He called. He rounded a tree and was surprised to come face to face with a red fox. The two animals froze and stared at each other for a few minutes with wide curious eyes. The fox looked as if it was sussing him out, trying to determine whether he was a threat or not. Eventually it seemed to settle on not and wandered away. 

 

“Hey wait up.” He called, hopping after it, not exactly sure following the fox was a good idea but he didn’t want to be alone in this weird place. The fox scampered around the trees for several minutes before finally selecting one and climbing it. Fredrick tried to dig his claws into the tree and climb it like the fox had done, but he just didn’t have the upper-body strength. As soon as he got his claws in the bark and pressed his feet up against it, he slid right back down again. He had several more attempts, all with the same outcome. He let out a heavy sigh and looked up to see the red fox observing him. It tilted its head at him, big black eyes staring unblinkingly at him. He shivered slightly under their gaze. Then all but jumped out of his skin as the fox decided to jump down beside him. He took a few deep breaths to calm down as the fox walked round behind him and began nudging his back. 

 

“Woah!” He cried, spinning round to face the fox. “What are you doing?”

 

The fox simply nodded his head at the tree and pushed Fredrick with his head again. Fredrick stayed rooted in position for a few seconds, looking between the fox and the tree. Then finally it clicked. 

 

“You’re trying to help me?!”

 

The fox paused, looking at him with big eyes again. They sparkled in some form of a smile and Fredrick couldn’t resist smiling back. The fox went back to butting its head against him and this time he didn’t resist. He clawed at the tree again and this time was able to get part the way up thanks to the fox’s support. Enough to get him to one of the lower branches, from there it was easy to hoist himself between the branches and back onto the surrounding wall. The fox followed behind, sitting on a branch to watch him. Fredrick turned back to the animal and thanked it for its help. It seemed to smile at him for a moment then took off into the trees again. Fredrick smiled to himself once it was gone, silently promising to never come pick apples here again. He remembered this story because it taught him there are always people, or animals, in the world willing to help. 

 

Yuya’s story…

 

His 10th birthday. Now that was a memory. Every year, Don Thousand ignored Yuya’s birthday. In fact, it wasn’t until Tate, Ali and Fredrick came that it was ever acknowledged at all. The four friends had been having a conversation when Yuya casually let slip that his birthday was on May 4th (Note: It’s never been clarified when his birthday is so I made it up, but I promise I’ll change this if they ever do tell us.) So when the day rolled around that year Ali, Tate and Fredrick made arrangements to give Yuya the best birthday ever. They didn’t need to worry about distracting him, Don Thousand would take care of that. So while Yuya worked they set up a small party for the four of them in the library since Yuya liked spending time there so much. Nothing over the top, just a cake and gift, normal party stuff. It took them three goes to get the recipe for cake right in their current state; not only were they children but also animals, cooking wasn’t exactly easy for them. It still looked pretty sloppy but it’d have to do, they were sure Yuya would appreciate it anyway. Then there was the matter of a gift. Now this was where things got difficult. They couldn’t buy him something since they couldn’t leave and didn’t have any money anyway. They couldn’t make something because they didn’t have anything to make the something with. There was only one thing for it. They’d have to steal something. Just something small. Something Don Thousand wouldn’t miss. They decided to check the east wing of the castle. Don Thousand never went there. Not that he visited much of the castle anyway. He spent nearly all his time in his study, that none of them had seen, or his room. Sometimes he would go to other parts of the castle, but it was usually to find Yuya. Don Thousand liked to check on him to see he was doing his job right, and punish him if he wasn’t. Though even if Yuya had done everything to perfection he still found some excuse to torment him, it was the only entertainment he had. He was even at it now. The three animals heard him yelling all the way from the east wing. They entered the first room to find it was an old unused drawing room. A bookcase, two chairs, a coffee table, a harp by the window, nothing abnormal. 

 

“Okay, get searching.” Tate ordered and the three of them fanned out to try find something Yuya would like. Ali checked all the books in the bookcase but none of them seemed particularly interesting or special. Tate and Fredrick searched under the chairs and around the furniture but also came up empty handed. 

 

“This is hopeless; we’ll never find anything.” Ali said. 

 

“We can’t give up.” Tate said. “Yuya wouldn’t give up on us.” 

 

“Yeah!” Fredrick cried, he jumped happily and accidentally hit his head against the bookcase. “Ow.”

 

Ali and Tate giggled as he rubbed his head, when something suddenly hit the floor beside him. It was a small wooden box. Fredrick’s head forgotten, the three surrounded the box, wondering what it was and why it had been hidden atop the bookcase. They opened it. 

 

“What is it?” Fredrick asked, looking at the soul item in the box.

 

“It’s perfect.” Ali replied. They had found their gift. 

 

Meanwhile, Yuya had been spending the entire day dusting the north wing. It looked completely spotless but Don Thousand wasn’t satisfied. He told Yuya his work wasn’t good enough and gave him a quick back-hand slap just for emphasis. Yuya was sent to his room feeling depressed, but he was in for a shock when he arrived. 

 

“Surprise!” The three animals cried when he entered. 

 

“What the? What is this?” He stammered, staring in amazement at his three friends who were stood on a table beside a lopsided cake and a small wooden box. 

 

“Happy birthday.” Ali said, jumping into Yuya’s arms and licking his face affectionately. 

 

“H-Hey.” Yuya laughed. “Cut it out.” 

 

She stopped obediently and re-joined her friends. Yuya sat down beside them with a huge smile on his face and tears shinning in his eyes. 

 

“Thank you so much, no one’s ever celebrated my birthday before.”

 

“Well from now on we’ll celebrate every year.” Tate assured causing Yuya even more happiness. 

 

“Sorry we couldn’t find any candles, but we figured you could make wish anyway.” Ali said, offering Yuya a slice of the cake they made. He accepted it gratefully and took a large bite out of it, wishing hard as he did so. The others all cheered and tucked in themselves. Thanks to Fredrick’s healthy appetite it was finished off pretty quickly and the time came to give Yuya his present. 

 

“Here, from us.” Ali said, nudging the box towards Yuya with her forehead. 

 

“That’s kind of you guys but you didn’t have to get me anything, it was enough that you actually celebrated with me.”

 

“Oh just open it.” Tate whined playfully. They all chuckled and Yuya opened his gift. His eyes widened when he saw what it was. He took hold of the string and lifted it out to get a better look at it. It was a beautiful crystal pendulum with a silver crown woven around the top. He felt tears of happiness prick his eyes again. It was the first gift he’d ever gotten from anyone, and it was such a wonderful one to. He’d wanted to wear it everywhere everyday, but he knew Don Thousand might find it and take it away if he did that, so he hid it under the floorboards in his room. 

 

Thankfully he’d remembered to grab it before the five of them ran away. He took it out of his pocket when he finished his story to show it to Zuzu. She took it from him and looked at it carefully. 

 

“What’s this?” She asked, pointing at the silver decoration on it. 

 

“What’s what?” Yuya asked. 

 

“There’s some writing here.” She said, pointing at the silver. “For Yuya, love mom and dad.” She read. 

 

“What?” The others cried. Yuya grabbed it and brought it down so the others could see it, they all checked and it did in deed say: “For Yuya love mom and dad.”

 

“My parents gave this to me?” Yuya said. “How is that possible?”

 

“Isn’t it obvious.” Tate said. “You weren’t really abandoned and your parents gave you this so evidently your parents did love you and you were somehow separated from them. When Don Thousand found you, you must have had this with you and he took it away.”

 

“That man’s the cruellest person I’ve ever known.” Zuzu grumbled. 

 

“Agreed.” Added Ali. 

 

Yuya dropped his head. “I can’t believe it took me so long to see how horrible he was.” 

 

“Don’t worry about it Yuya.” Tate reassured. “We know you just wanted to feel needed.”

 

“And you are needed.” Ali continued. “By us.”

 

Yuya looked around at his friends and they all nodded, confirming what she said to be true. He smiled at them and they continued on their way. 

 

Ali’s story…

 

The way the four hybrids of the group act you’d think they’d been friends right off the bat wouldn’t you? Well you’d be wrong. When Ali had been much younger, she had lived on the edge of the kingdom of GX with her parents. The house to the left of her’s was owned by the family of her best friend Tate, and to the right was the home of her other best friend Fredrick. Life was good for the three children. They spent their week days at school and weekends playing in the forest. They liked to pretend they were spirit trainers like so many people in their kingdom or brave knights that slayed dragons and demons. They were only make believe but the three loved to think that one day they really would be brave, strong heroes. They played these games among the trees of the forest on the outskirts of town. Their parents warned them to be careful and not wander too far into the woods as it was easy to get lost. Usually they heeded the warning and always marked a trail or played with the village still in their sight. Unfortunately, one day while they were pretending to be hunters, they accidentally got so invested in their game, they didn’t realise they’d wandered too far into the woods. By the strangest coincidence the area they’d wandered to was Don Thousand’s castle. As soon as they saw it their game was forgotten. They were completely awestruck. 

 

“What in the world?” Ali muttered, looking up at it. 

 

“Incredible.” Said Fredrick. 

 

“Come on, let’s get a closer look.” Tate said, curious as ever. The three of them headed over to the large wall surrounding the castle and began to climb it. When they reached the top they found themselves staring at a huge garden, complete with well kept rose bushes, daffodils, lilies, bluebells and all variety of flowers. The hedges were trimmed and neat and there were fountains and arches set up around the different sections. 

 

“Beautiful…” Ali whispered. She jumped down and ran over to smell one of the roses. 

 

“Ali!” Tate cried, rushing after her. Fredrick tried to jump down too, but he slipped and fell on his backside. He moaned and trailed a bit the way behind Tate, still sore from his fall. 

 

“This place is lovely guys.” Ali continued, dancing around happily. 

 

“Ali…” Tate whined tugging on her arm. “We should leave it’s not our garden.” 

 

“Who’s there?” A voice asked, making the three kids jump. They turned but couldn’t find the source of the voice, though it sounded to be that of another child, maybe a few years older than them. 

 

“Um… We’re lost.” Tate explained. “We’re sorry we entered your garden without permission we didn’t mean harm honest.” 

 

The voice giggled. “That’s alright, no harm done. It’s not my garden anyway, it’s my master’s. I was just trimming the hedges.” 

 

“Where are you?” Fredrick asked, looking around again. 

 

“What were you doing out in the forest anyway?” The voice asked, ignoring the question. 

 

“Hunting demons.” Ali said excitedly. “Have you seen any around here?”

 

“Yes actually. It just so happens that you’re talking to one.” Said the voice in mock pride, though there was an obvious tone of sadness mixed in. 

 

“Really?” Tate asked, playing along. “Then I guess we’d better catch you.” 

 

The voice laughed and the three then caught a glimpse of green rush past behind one of the bushes. The three immediately raced after it, laughing happily. The owner of the voice laughed to, and they followed that laughter all throughout the garden, until they were out of breath. 

 

“We needed to spilt up and surround the demon if we want to catch it.” Tate said, using his strategic mind, which was pretty strong even back then. “We’ll spilt up and corner it in that small colour garden we passed a few times, then cut off the only three exits.”

 

The three nodded and initiated their plan. Ali chased the allusive demon with a smile on her face as she managed to get him into the garden Tate mentioned. Then just as planned they cut of the exits and pounced on their prey. The four of them collided and ended up in a heap at the centre of the garden.

 

“Yeah we win!” Ali cried as the four of them laughed. It was only when she began to calm down that she became aware of her surroundings. She was surprised to feel something soft and feathery beneath her. She looked down as the others untangled themselves to see pitch black wings. She rolled off them in shock and the four young kids were finally able to sit up and get a good look at each other. Ali, Tate and Fredrick all gasped. In front of them was a boy, maybe a few years older, with waist length wings as black as his skin. Not the kind of black skin most people think of when they hear the term. A real ebony shade of darkness. It touched every part of his body except some of his face, which was framed by messy red hair with a mop of green hair perched on top. His eyes were a deep crimson like blood. He had been smiling happily, but the smile dropped from his face when he heard their gasps. 

 

“Oh my gosh! A real demon!” Fredrick cried. Ali screamed and they all clambered to their feet and tried to run away. 

 

“Wait!” The demon cried desperately, but they kept going, scared of what he would do to them. They were so scared they weren’t watching where they were going and ran right into something big and heavy. They were all knocked to the ground moaning in pain. 

 

“And what do we have here?” Asked a deep, menacing voice. The three children looked up to see a tall man with long gold hair, aside from red bangs on the side of his face, and mismatched blue and red eyes. He was wearing a dark black accented coat over a black shirt and pants with black boots. The three cowered in fear as he loomed over them threateningly. “well? Answer.”

 

“Um… I- I’m Tate.” Tate stuttered. “This is Ali and Fredrick, we accidentally wandered in here when we got lost, but we were just leaving.”

 

The three of them scrambled to their feet and made to leave but they were halted by a large blinding light. They shut their eyes and suddenly felt very strange. Their bodies twisted and contorted in a painless but unnatural way. When the light died away they opened their eyes and blinked several times, surprised by how much bigger everything around them looked. I mean they were only like 2ft tall so things looked pretty big anyway, but this was ridiculous. Ali heard a gasp next to her and turned to see a very surprised dog with bright blue fur. 

 

“What’s going on.” A familiar voice asked. She turned to see a golden furred rabbit with a very confused expression on his face. She shook her head and brought a hand up to her face but was startled by how soft and fluffy it felt. She brought her hands away to look at them and was shocked to find, not her hands, but paws. 

 

“Ali?” The dog asked. “Is that you?”

 

“Tate?” She gasped. “What’s happened to us?!”

 

“This is your punishment.”

 

They turned to look at the mean looking man from before. He looked even scarier from this height and the three huddled together. 

 

“You trespassed onto my land so you must pay the price. Now you will remain here forever and stay in these forms for the rest of your lives.” 

 

The three of them stared in shock. 

 

“Yuya!” The man called. The three of them huddled together further, terrified by what was happening. After a few seconds the demon from before was seen hurrying towards them making them shake even further. 

 

“Yes master?” The demon, apparently called Yuya, asked. 

 

“These children trespassed here and have been suitably punished. He gestured to them. Yuya looked at them and gasped in horror. They whimpered and shied away from him, still scared.

 

“You will keep an eye on them.” The man said, then snapped his fingers and disappeared in a flash of red light. 

 

“Wait!” Yuya cried, but the man was already gone. He looked to the three, now animals, with pity in his eyes. 

 

“I’m so sorry about this.” 

 

He took a step towards them and that was enough. After all the insane things that had just happened the three animals were so overwhelmed they just ran blindly and as fast as they could, sub-consciously hoping they could simply outrun this horrible fate. 

 

Unfortunately, they discovered they were now unable to climb the castle walls to escape and were forced to either go along with Don Thousand’s demands or die of starvation or hypothermia. Don Thousand was busy with his work or Yuya most of the time and soon forgot about the new editions to his home, occasionally he saw them wandering around the castle but it just became such a normal experience he learned to ignore it. Yuya on the other hand had taken a great interest in the three young hybrids. He would often try to talk with them when he saw them. The three of them were terrified, thinking him to be a monster that wanted to hurt them. It wasn’t until much later that they discovered Yuya had simply wanted to ask them if they’d play with him. It had hurt him when they ran away, but he didn’t blame them. This was back in the early days of his brainwashing. Where Don Thousand tried to drill it into his head that he was a freak of nature. However, it had already been affecting him. In fact, the new house guests’ fear of him strengthened that belief. Yuya didn’t let it deter him though. He tried his absolute hardest to befriend the young animals because he felt bad about them being trapped here. He could understand better than anyone what it was like to be separated from your family and forced to stay in the same place every second of every day. It became harder and harder each day though. His chores got bigger and more complicated, and over time new ones were added. Then whenever he could find a moment to try talking to the animals they would run away from him. The other day he’d almost caught them when they came up with the idea to use their size to their advantage and trip him up. He bruised his hands and felt embarrassed when they laughed, but he knew they probably couldn’t resist, he must have looked pretty funny. His embarrassment was soon replaced with happiness as he watched them laughing. He had been reading some books in the library recently about entertainment but it was much better in real life. To see the genuine and happy smiles on their faces, well it made him feel… Proud. Something he’d never felt before. He’d never had anything to be proud of, but now he did. He had their smiles. Unfortunately the pride was short lived as they bolted moments later, still scared of him. Though that would change later that night. 

 

Tate, Ali and Fredrick slept in a large basket in Yuya’s room. Normally they waited until Yuya was definitely asleep before daring to sleep themselves. However tonight, there was no going to sleep for them. A horrible storm was raging outside and they were huddled together, quivering in fear. They whimpered and squealed every time the thunder struck, squeezing their eyes shut, willing it to disappear. It seemed as though their wish had come true, for the sounds of the storm were suddenly muffled and the three felt a warmth surround them. They opened their eyes to the last thing they expected to see. Yuya was sat next to them shielding them from the storm with his wings. They’d formed a kind of protective dome around the four of them, and Yuya was looking at them with so much kindness in his eyes. 

 

“Don’t worry, just go to sleep I’ll see the storm doesn’t bother you.” He said. The three of them just stared at him. If their jaws dropped any further they’d hit the floor. All the kids at school, and even their parents, told them demons were cruel and would torture them until they begged for mercy. This demon wasn’t anything like that. He was protecting them, being nice to them. It was horribly confusing. Perhaps they were dreaming Ali thought as exhaustion took hold of her body and she slipped into sleep.

 

The next morning, she woke up thinking it had been a dream. Until she looked up and saw a worn out, unconscious boy with his wings draped around her and her friends. He’d stayed there all night? Why? It didn’t make sense…

 

“Hey, wake up.” She said, nudging Tate and Fredrick. The two groaned and yawned tiredly. 

 

“What?” Fredrick asked. 

 

“He stayed.” She said.

 

“Huh?” The two looked up to see Yuya, sleeping but still keeping his wings around them. 

 

“This is so strange.” Said Tate. “This is not what everyone says demons are like at all.”

 

“Yuya!” Came the cry of Don Thousand. The boy jolted awake and rubbed his eyes; he didn’t look very well at all. It can’t have been healthy to stay up so late and then fall asleep upright like he had. However, he uncurled his wings and went off to work anyway, he didn’t even complain once. 

 

Later that day, as Ali was wandering the halls, she overheard Don Thousand and Yuya having an argument. She decided to investigate and was shocked by what she saw. 

 

“Please master.” Yuya begged. “They didn’t mean to trespass here, let them go home.”

 

“I thought you’d be happy.” Don Thousand replied. “You did say you were lonely did you not? Now you have some friends.”

 

“They don’t like me.” Yuya said sadly. 

 

“I’ve tried to tell you, you’re a monster and people don’t like monsters.”

 

“Yes, but it’s not just that. They’re just kids, they didn’t mean any harm. I’m sure they miss their family and friends.”

 

“What would you know about family and friends?”

 

Yuya had no reply, but Ali could tell from the look on his face those words had cut deep. 

 

“Please, just punish me, let them go.” 

 

This seemed to be the final straw for the cruel man. He turned to Yuya, grabbed his collar and shoved him into the wall. 

 

“For the last time, they remain here. Now go and tend the garden, I have more important things to do than waste time with you.” 

 

He threw Yuya to the floor. The young boy staggered to his feet and left the room as quickly as he could. Ali was very shaken by what she’d just seen. Even though they were scared of him, he stood up for them and tried to help them. He had already protected them when they were scared… Ali was starting to question whether he was really a demon at all. She was so lost in these thoughts she hadn’t been paying attention to where she was going. She snapped out of her trance to find she was in the garden. She looked around and spotted Yuya trimming some of the flowers, he had such a warm smile on his face, the same kind, caring look he’d had last night. Suddenly, it became clear to her that they’d misjudged him, and he was really just a nice, lonely kid like themselves.

 

She ran back to Tate and Fredrick to tell them what she’d seen. 

 

“And you’re sure it’s not a trick.” Fredrick asked cautiously. 

 

“I’m sure.” She said. “He tried to help us guys, I think he’s just like us.”

 

“You know I agree.” Tate added. “We’re the ones who always run away from him, he’s only ever been nice to us.” 

 

It was true. Don Thousand couldn’t care less about the three young hybrids and didn’t bother to take care of them at all. Yuya was the one who brought them food and water, who let them sleep in his room and comforted them when they needed it. They felt bad for thinking he was a demon and went to look for him to apologise. They found him still in the gardens taking care of the flowers like he was asked. 

 

“Um… Hey.” Ali said nervously. Yuya jumped, not expecting them. It only took a second to get over the shock though and he turned to them with a big smile. 

 

“Yes?”

 

“Well uh…” Tate started. 

 

“We were wondering if you would like to play.” Ali cut in. 

 

“Really?!” Yuya exclaimed, looking at them like they just offered him a million dollars and all the chocolate he could eat for the rest of his life. He must have been really lonely to get so excited about just being able to play, Ali thought. The three animals nodded enthusiastically and Yuya cried out in happiness. They all laughed and proceeded to play all their favourite games together for the rest of the day. Yuya got into big trouble with his master later but he thought it was worth it. Ali remembered this experience because it was when she learned that you can never judge people before you get to know them. 

 

Zuzu’s story…

 

When she was thirteen she went after the best steal of her life. Ever since she was five years old she’d been a thief on the streets, normally she’d just grab an apple or a loaf of bread from a stand in the market when no one was looking. However, this time, she was going bigger. It was the evening of the 3 rd of July, and on the evening of the 4 th there was to be a party at the palace. The supreme king had just knighted Sir Zane Truesdale and the whole kingdom was invited to celebrate. Zuzu had been slipping through people in the market and snatching a few scraps if food when the announcement was made. One of the palace servants stood on a large podium in town and read the declaration to everyone there. When it was announced the invitation was extended to everybody she was over the moon. Finally, she could have a decent meal she didn’t have to steal and mingle and celebrate with other people as an equal for once. Unfortunately, her festivity was interrupted by a stall holder just next to her. 

 

“You go to the palace? Get real.” She laughed. “They’d throw you out as soon as look at you.” She gestured to Zuzu’s scruffy appearance. 

 

“They just said everyone was invited.” Zuzu argued. 

 

“They meant people, not garbage.” 

 

Zuzu’s eyes widened and she tried not to look hurt. She took off towards the nearest alleyway feeling tears sting her eyes. She was not garbage! She was worth something… right? She leaned against the wall of the alley and mulled over what the woman had said. Perhaps she really would be thrown out, she was after all, not technically a part of this kingdom. She didn’t have a home or a job, she just wandered around and slept on the streets, stealing the odd bit of food now and then. Tears pricked at her eyes again as she realised that woman was right. She’d never get into the party… Suddenly, a loud crash sounded from the end of the alley, startling her from her thoughts. She walked to the edge of the lane to investigate, being careful to keep to the shadows. She saw man lying sprawled out on the ground surrounded by several boxes. Clearly he’d been carrying too much and tripped. She immediately ran over and helped him to his feet asking if he was okay. She noticed he was wearing a waistcoat made of very expensive materials, with a white shirt and grey pants. He had brown curly hair and a tape measure draped around his shoulders. 

 

“Yes, thanks very much…” He tailed off as he looked at Zuzu properly, seeing how dishevelled she was. Zuzu blushed, suddenly feeling self conscious. She quickly busied herself by helping to pick up his boxes. He didn’t say anything, just began to do the same. Eventually they had all of them and he motioned for her to follow him into the shop they were stood in front of. She looked up at the sign above as she entered: Francis’ Dresses and Tailoring. She peeked through the folds of the lid in one of the boxes as she placed it down inside, seeing some kind of blue silk. She looked around the shop to see stands and mannequins wearing all kinds of outlandish outfits that were clearly very expensive. 

 

“Thank you.” The man, Francis she assumed, said. 

 

“No problem.” She replied, smiling. “I’ll just be off.” She began making her way towards the door. Francis simply nodded and returned to unpacking his material. Then, just as Zuzu was reaching for the handle, she caught sight of something that made her freeze. In the corner of the shop, almost hidden by several suits, was a purple ball gown. It was strapless and hugged the chest and waist of the mannequin wearing it. The skirt spread out in massive ruffles right down to kiss the floor and had a light purple boarder on the edge of each ruffle. They waist line was covered with diamonds and a large bow was fashioned on the right side. It was the most beautiful dress she’d ever seen, and right away she knew she wanted to wear it. No, she had to wear it. She found herself walking unknowingly towards it, still unnoticed by the shop’s owner. She reached the dress and stretched out her hand to stroke it. The silk slid through her fingers, leaving them tingling in desperation. Desperation to have this gown hugging her waist and sweeping the ground she walked. She found her fingers brushing against a white piece of card stuck out of the bow. She flipped it open to reveal the price of the garment. $100,000. She nearly fainted when she read that. Were clothes really that expensive these days?! Naturally she hadn’t paid for the clothes she was currently in, she found them in someone’s bin a few months ago. The pants were grey and fading slightly and torn at the ankles, but they were warm and easy to move in. The same went for the oversized brown stained shirt she had on. She knew she’d never wear a dress like this one. It would hug the figure of someone worthy, someone who could afford such a dress. She dropped her head and kept her eyes on the floor as she left feeling more dejected than ever. She wished she could afford to buy such nice clothes and food and have home and a warm bed. Sometimes she would close her eyes and pretend she was a rich, beautiful, upper-class girl able to wear fancy garments like the purple dress and eat banquets every evening and be invited to parties. She paused just outside the shop to glance through the window at the dress one more time, when suddenly she caught something in the glass’ reflection. Just across the street was that woman from the market, she was in some jewellery store purchasing an expensive necklace. Zuzu watched as she handed over the large wad of money like it was nothing and smugly agreed to wear the necklace out. She felt something boiling inside of her as she watched. Why was this cruel woman so successful and wealthy while she slept on a bag? She’d always been courteous to those around her, and never taken more than she needed, and certainly not from people who needed it more. She looked back at the dress and thought back to what that woman had said this morning, and then and there she knew what she was going to do. She’d steal the dress, and maybe some other stuff too, she’d go to the party and prove that she could fit in with the other people in this kingdom. Naturally she’d take the stuff back once she was done, she just wanted to be an ordinary person, to be accepted, just for one night. 

 

So the next evening, after Francis had closed up for the night, Zuzu broke into his shop. She climbed the supports on the side of the building and swung through a window on the second floor. From there it wasn’t hard to get downstairs. She was thankful to learn that Francis wouldn’t be attending the party, so no one would confront her about the dress. She pulled the cloth that was protecting it away and began peeling it from the mannequin. She pulled off her rags and slipped into the beautiful silky arms of the dress. It hugged her waist perfectly, and touched the floor around her at just the right length. As she spun around enjoying the feel of it, she noticed some odd looking hair clips on a table, she figured they might help her hair look less messy so she clipped them in her hair. There was an old mirror in the corner of the room and she wandered over to get a look. She nearly fell over when she saw herself. Was that really her? The girl in the mirror had short pink hair in two symmetrical pigtails that really complimented the shape of her face. The beautiful purple gown she was draped in hugged her perfectly, showing off her curves in all the right places. This girl was gorgeous. This girl would fit in and be accepted at the party. She smiled at the girl in the mirror, ready to go be her and have fun. Just once…

 

As she walked up the steps to the palace, she felt the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. Would someone recognise her? Would she really be able to blend in? She knew nothing of high society life after all. She bit her lip as the guards opened the door for her, scared of what would be waiting on the other side. When she stepped inside, the whole party halted. Zuzu felt the blood rush to her cheeks as everyone stared at her. Whispers spread across the crowd, each person wondering who this mysterious girl was. Zuzu nervously began to walk forwards, everyone parted for her, still staring. She rung her hands together nervously and tried to keep her gaze anywhere but the people. 

 

“Why stop, the party was just getting good!” Someone yelled. Everyone looked over to see it was the supreme king, Jaden, who had spoken. His advisors, Chaz and Cyrus, were shaking their heads, clearly embarrassed by their friend’s outburst. 

 

“Yeah!” Someone stood next to him said. He had sharp blue hair and Aqua eyes. Zuzu recognised him as Sir Jesse Anderson, the supreme king’s best friend. He threw his arm round said best friend, agreeing that they should start the party again. Zuzu giggled at their antics as the music started up again and people went back to dancing or chatting. 

 

“You certainly know how to make an entrance.” Someone said. Zuzu whipped round to see a woman behind her. She had long blonde hair and soft hazel eyes. She was wearing a long red gown that stretched round her neck and flared past her knees. She was smiling at Zuzu warmly. 

 

“You’re dame Alexis aren’t you?” Zuzu gasped, making to bow respectfully but a hand shot out from the dame in protest. 

 

“Please non of that, and just Alexis will do fine.” 

 

Zuzu blushed again, embarrassed, and nodded. “Sure, Alexis.” 

 

“Hey sissy, who’s your new friend?” A new voice said. The duke Atticus Rohdes came over and put his arm round his sister. She scowled and removed it violently, bending his fingers in the process, eliciting a howl of pain. 

 

“I told you not to call me that.” 

 

“Ow…” He whined, clutching his hand. “Sorry. So who are you?” He asked again, turning to Zuzu this time giving her hand a quick kiss while was at it. She blushed again and Alexis rolled her eyes. 

 

“Zuzu Boyle.” She said. 

 

“Nice to meet you Zuzu.” Alexis said, holding her hand out. Zuzu accepted it and shook hands with her, happy to finally be getting along with people. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to my other friends.” She pulled Zuzu over to a group of people, among which she could see the supreme king. She began to grow nervous at the thought of meeting the ruler of the land, but he was actually really cool for a king. He and his friends clowned around a lot while Zuzu and a few more sensible people with them laughed appreciatively. They danced and ate and talked – though Zuzu was careful not to give anything away about who she was – and for the first time in her life she felt completely happy. She felt free, like she could just be herself, personality wise, and no one would judge her. It was the best night of her life and she wished it could last forever. However, all good things must come to an end. Eventually the clock began to strike the early hours of the morning and people began filing out. Zuzu realised she’d have to get the dress back to the shop before anyone discovered it was gone. 

 

“I must be going now.” She excused herself, waving politely at the royal party. They looked disappointed but smiled also and bid her farewell. She left and hurried back into town, running so hard her lungs almost exploded out of her chest. Just one block from the dress shop she tripped and began falling towards the dirty pavement. No, she couldn’t let the dress get damaged, she had to return it! Suddenly there were arms on her chest, holding her upright and preventing her from hitting the floor. 

 

“Careful, there you are.” A voice said, steadying her. Zuzu looked up, opening her mouth to thank this stranger, when she suddenly noticed, she was no stranger. It was the woman from the market, who’d insulted her. She had a warm smile and her eyes showed concern. Zuzu was speechless. The same woman who’d belittled her and called her garbage was now helping her. “Are you okay miss,” She asked, sounding worried. 

 

“Oh.” Zuzu snapped out of her daze. “Oh, yes I’m fine.” She straightened herself, trying to rebuild her aura of sophistication. 

 

“Good, you shouldn’t really run in a dress like that.” The lady advised. “Though I don’t blame you, not a very nice neighbourhood this one, I don’t like spending too much time here, too many disgusting rats running around.” She practically spat the last words out, and Zuzu was fairly certain what she meant by rats. The woman nodded to her and continued on her walk. Zuzu watched her go for a few minutes until she was completely out of sight. She then hurried to the dress shop and climbed back up the supports, being careful not to damage her outfit. Thankfully it was still dark out and she was able to get in, put the dress back on the mannequin and get out without any bother. She rushed back to her makeshift home on the roof of some building and crawled inside. It wasn’t much, just a few boxes and sticks for support with an old warn blanket over the top and an assortment of old rugs and clothes on the ground. It was pretty comfortable really, albeit a bit cold and smelly. She lay down on her back just looking up as she went over the day in her mind again. It was confusing to say the least. To think she was stealing scraps in the market this morning and partying with the royals only an hour ago. Then there was that woman. The one who’d insulted her in her rags and helped her in her ball gown. The more she thought over it, the more she realised that the reason she treated her differently was because that woman, like so many others in this kingdom, only judged her on how she looked, how she spoke and how she acted. As long as she looked and acted like she belonged with the richer people they would accept her. She sighed. It wasn’t right, she should be accepted for who she was, she knew that. Apparently she was the only one though… Zuzu always thought this day was important because it was when she learnt that some people can’t see past the way others look; but you can still be yourself, whether you’re in rags or stolen ball gowns. 

 

Tate’s story…

 

Tate was always trying to escape from the castle since the day he was trapped there. He tried all sorts of techniques, but none of them worked. He tried to climb over the outer walls, but they were too worn down and he couldn’t get a grip. He tried to build a catapult, unfortunately he learnt he couldn’t grip tools in his paws. He could get them in his mouth but he couldn’t control them like that at all. This of course meant he couldn’t build any contraption to get out. Probably the best idea he had was to stow away inside Don Thousands satchel when he made one of his trips into town. Unfortunately, he was discovered and punished with a week in a bird cage. Thankfully the others still brought him food and water so he didn’t starve. He was, however, too scared to attempt that escape method again. He would have to come up with a new one. Which was exactly what he was mulling over this very morning. 

 

“Hey Tate?” Ali called, jumping up beside him on the table in Yuya’s room, where he was currently basking in the sunlight. “What are you up to?”

 

“Thinking.” He replied. 

 

“About?”

 

“How to get out of this place.”

 

“Again?” Ali let out an exasperated groan. “Your plans to escape never work and yet you spend every second of every day thinking about them, can’t you just relax once in a while.”

 

“How can I relax when I’m trapped here?” He snapped at her. “What about our friends? Our parents? Don’t you want to see them again?” 

 

“Of course I do, but be reasonable.”

 

“What’s so unreasonable about it?”

 

“Well for one how do you think they’ll react when they see us like this? Do you think our lives can really be the way they were now that we’re animals? Also… There’s Yuya…”

 

Ali’s first words were still ringing in Tate’s ears. What would their families think? Would they accept them as they were now? Yes! He told himself. Of course they would, they loved them no matter what. But still… Life probably would be different… She was right. Then the last thing she’d said suddenly hit him. 

 

“What about Yuya?” He asked, all anger now gone from his voice. 

 

“Well… He’s taken such good care of us.” She wandered over to the edge of the table and leapt up to the windowsill opposite. Tate followed her and they both looked down into the garden where they could see Yuya painting one of the many wooden archways. His eyes had a faraway look and a soft smile graced his lips as though he were deep in some beautiful dream. “He was all alone before we came here, it would break his heart if we were to leave. I know he’d want us to be with our families again but I also know it would hurt him if we left.” 

 

Tate didn’t say anything. He just continued to watch Yuya work, Ali’s words running round his head. He hadn’t even thought about how it would affect him; he’d just been so determined to get home he hadn’t considered their new friend’s feelings. 

 

“Besides.” Ali continued. “He’d never leave, he cares too much about Don Thousand, and thinks he’s too much of a monster to go anywhere.” She muttered the last part darkly. Tate couldn’t help but agree. At first the three of them had thought the same, but the more time they spent with the young hybrid the more they realised he was the complete opposite. Tate wanted to smash his head against the wall as he thought about it. Ali was right, they couldn’t leave Yuya, but he wouldn’t come with them either. He was lost in these thoughts he didn’t even notice Ali leave. She felt she’d given him a lot to think about and decided to give him some time. She didn’t however expect him to take five hours. By the time the other three were eating their dinner on that same table Tate had been sunbathing on earlier that day, he was still perched on the windowsill. 

 

“Tate?” Yuya said, getting up and going over to him. “Aren’t you joining us?”

 

“Hm?” Tate hummed, looking up. Yuya sighed fondly. 

 

“Okay, talk, what’s on your mind?”

 

“Nothing.” He muttered. 

 

“He wants to go home.” Ali said. Tate glared at her but she just shrugged. 

 

“Oh.” Yuya said, sounding deflated. “I understand; you must miss your family.” He smiled, sadness instantly masked. “I’ll talk to my master and see if I can get him to let you go, I’m sure I’ll find some way to convince him.” 

 

Tate stared at him. He was willing to lose his only friends so they would be happy? 

 

He’d been arguing internally all day but this finally made up his mind. 

 

“I’m staying.” He said. 

 

“What?” Said Yuya. 

 

Ali sent him a knowing smile and he was more than happy to return it. 

 

“I’ve thought about it and I’ve realised if we’re going to leave here than we’re all leaving together.” Tate said firmly. 

 

“But—” Yuya stammered. “Your family…” 

 

“Is more than my parents.” Tate said, addressing everyone. “It’s you three as well, and families don’t turn their backs on each other, so the four of us are sticking together.” 

 

Yuya was still gaping at him, while Ali looked pleased and Fredrick was stuffing his face with dinner, but there did seem to be a slight glint in his eyes as he glanced at Tate. 

 

Tate remembered this well because he learnt that families were held together by more than blood. They were held by love, and the love the four of them shared as friends would keep them together for a long time. 

Chapter Text

“Good morning!” A cheerful voice cried out. Yuya, Ali, Tate and Fredrick awoke to see Zuzu with an armful of food and a bright smile on her face. The five of them had spent the night in a cave, now just 80 or 90 metres from the kingdom of ZEXAL. Zuzu placed the food on the ground and the five of them began to eat. They all knew it was probably going to be a long day. 

 

“So do we have a plan?” Ali asked. 

 

“Well.” Zuzu said. “For starters I’m going to go into town and find something to help Yuya blend in more. So you know, we don’t have a repeat of… uh…” She trailed away, not wanting to discuss what had happened. She didn’t have to; they all knew what she meant. Yuya’s eyes dimmed a bit but he’d been less affected by the subject recently. Much to the delight of the others. 

 

“Okay then.” He said, managing to keep his voice even. “We’ll wait here.”

 

“Right.” Zuzu smiled. “Be back in a sec.” 

 

She took off through the woods towards the kingdom while the four hybrids remained in the cave, discussing plans for their time here. 

 

“Okay… Something to disguise Yuya…” Zuzu muttered to herself as she walked through the gates of the kingdom, eyes roaming around for anything she could use. She found her mind wandering, however, the further in she went. This place was nothing like the kingdom of GX. This was much more advanced. The kingdom of GX had duelling technology but it was mostly a primitive place where people still shopped in markets and lived in wood or stone buildings and went to bed by candle light. This kingdom was more like a metropolis. It had major advancements like cars and litterbots and malls and electricity. It was built on many levels too, with the royal palace directly at the top. The whole kingdom towered above Zuzu and she couldn’t help raising her head to admire it. She was so busy gazing in awe she didn’t watch where she was going and ploughed right into someone. 

 

“Oh I am so sorry!” She cried, bending down to help the poor person up. 

 

“That’s okay miss…” The person began, but tailed away when they actually caught sight of Zuzu. They pulled away from her almost instantly, causing her to sigh inwardly. Even in this kingdom she was treated like garbage. Now that they’d pulled back from her she got a look at them properly. It was a woman, an Astral woman, she was clearly much older than Zuzu, with glowing green hair and pupiless red eyes. She had blue skin and wore a green dress. As with all Astral beings her body was bathed in a soft glow. She looked at Zuzu with distaste, and not for the first time the young theif was fully aware of how rugged and dishevelled she looked. 

 

“I’m really very sorry.” Zuzu said, bowing her head, unable to bare the disgusted stare anymore. 

 

The Astral woman immediately disguised her revulsion with a smile. “Oh that’s alright dear.” She said kindly causing Zuzu to raise her head again. “Just try to be more careful.” 

 

“Um, of course, yes, I’ll… I’ll do that.” Zuzu replied, stumbling over her words a bit. 

 

“You look cold.” The woman stated, though something in her face told Zuzu that wasn’t what she really meant. “You better take this.” She removed a black cape from the bag she was carrying and draped it round Zuzu’s shoulders. “I brought it in case it rained but I think I’ll make it home before that happens.” She smiled again and left hastily before Zuzu could say anything. 

 

“Thank you!” She yelled after her, not sure if she heard or not. “Man…” She sighed. “Even here… people are so disgusted they wish me to hide myself.” Tears suddenly formed in her eyes as a thought struck her. “This must be how Yuya feels… No wonder he’s so scared of being outside…” As she said this an idea struck her. She grabbed the cloak from round her shoulders and tore off to get a better look at it. She clutched in her hands, yes, it would be perfect. She spun on her heel and dashed off the way she’d come. 

 

When she made it back to the cave she found her four companions had emerged into the clearing and were engaging in a game of tag. She smiled at the sight, all of them laughing and having the time of their lives, she wished she’d had friends to play with in her youth. Well, she had friends now and that was what mattered. 

 

“Hey, I’m back!” She cried, running over. 

 

“Zuzu!” They yelled, also braking into a run. When the four of them met Yuya enveloped her in a hug and the three small animals jumped to their shoulders and nuzzled against their necks causing the two humans to giggle. 

 

“Here, I got this.” She said, handing the cloak to Yuya. 

 

“Thank you.” He said, flashing her a smile and draping the black silk round his shoulders. He fastened it carefully and pulled the hood up to hide his face. 

 

“Great, let’s get into town then.” Tate said, bounding off in the direction Zuzu had come from. The others laughed fondly and began to follow. 

 

“What’s the plan anyway?” Yuya asked. 

 

“Well, kingdoms usually keep records of all their citizens at the palace. I’m sure if you had disappeared of been kidnapped your parents would have reported it. How about we go to the market and fetch some supplies then go check the archives?”  

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Ali said. Yuya nodded and smiled, even though no one could see it under his hood. 

 

“Wow…” 

 

They all turned to see Tate standing at the edge of the forest with a completely awestruck look plastered on his face. The rest of the group caught up with him and found themselves at the towering gates of the kingdom. It was like a huge, glowing tower. So bright and built on so many levels. 

 

“Incredible…” Yuya muttered. Zuzu giggled and headed off into the kingdom, having already been through the awe most have the first time they visit the kingdom of ZEXAL. It took the others a couple of seconds to snap out of their daze and run to catch up with her. 

 

“Any idea which way the market is?” Ali asked. 

 

“No…” Zuzu said, only just realising herself. 

 

“Don’t worry, I’m sure if we ask around someone will know.” Said Yuya, trying to stay positive. As they continued walking they came across a street of shops with several people strolling around, glancing in windows and such. 

 

“Excuse me.” Yuya said, addressing a young man that was passing them. He stopped and looked down at the unusual group. 

 

“Yes?” He asked uncertainly. The sight of a rugged girl, black caped boy and three brightly coloured animals was not something he was use to. 

 

“Can you tell us which way the main market is?” Yuya asked politely. 

 

“Oh, sure. It’s on level two, just walk to the end of this street and take the elevator.” He replied, pointing down the street he’d just come from. 

 

“Thank you very much.” Zuzu said, the others nodded and the five of them headed off in direction he’d indicated. Sure enough at the end of the street there was an elevator. They all hopped in and pushed the button marked two. As they began their ascent Zuzu noticed Yuya’s hands were beginning to shake ever so slightly. “Is everything alright?” She asked. 

 

“Huh?” He grunted, snapping out of whatever daze he’d been in. “Oh, oh, yeah I’m fine.” 

 

She took a hold of his shaking hands, causing his eyes to widen. “It’ll be okay, I promise.” She soothed, knowing he was worried about the crowds. Ali, Tate and Fredrick also sensed their friend’s discomfort and stroked against his legs comfortingly. He smiled at his friends, calming down considerably. Just in time too. A loud ding signalled their arrival, followed by the clattering of the doors opening. They all stepped out into chaos. Market stalls lined every inch of the large square they’d arrived in and swarms of people were rushing all over the place, both frantic and excited. Yuya shied away behind Zuzu, still uncomfortable in crowds, but the other four were beginning to feel the joy in the atmosphere. 

 

“Let’s go shopping.” Ali said, slipping through peoples’ legs towards the stalls. 

 

“Ali! Wait up, you could get lost!” Tate yelled, running after her, Fredrick hot on his heels. 

 

“Come on, let’s go!” Zuzu said happily, grabbing Yuya’s arm and dragging him into the crowd. 

 

First they went to the food stalls and bought previsions with the small amount of money Zuzu had, but after a while, they all began getting distracted. Ali, Fredrick and Tate couldn’t resist messing around with the stuff on the toy stalls, until they were chased off by the stall keeper causing both Yuya and Zuzu to laugh. Zuzu took time to admire a lot of the jewellery being sold and eventually bought herself a small gold ring with a purple butterfly on top, though it cost most of what she had. Yuya was drawn to stalls displaying duel monsters cards. He’d read about these before but never actually seen any in real life. They were amazing, the colourful designs had him mesmerised. He found himself imagining what they would look like in real life; he had heard of holographic technology and solid vision but he’d never seen it before. Now it was all he wanted to see. No, even more than that. He wanted to be a part of it, looking at the cards in front of him, all he wanted to do was to have them. To become a duellist and entertain people with his awesome duels. 

 

“You seem quite interested in that card.” The shop keeper remarked, snapping Yuya out of his daydream. 

 

“Oh, um… Sorry I was staring.” Yuya mumbled, blushing a bit under his hood. The man laughed heartily. 

 

“No harm done, to tell the truth I’ve had it here for a few weeks but no one’s seemed interested in it till now. Why don’t you take it?” 

 

“Oh, I can’t, I don’t have any money, but thank you.” 

 

Yuya bowed and turned to leave but the man stopped him. 

 

“Tell you what why don’t you just take it, on the house.” 

 

He held out the card for him. 

 

“R-Really!” Yuya stammered in shock. 

 

“Yeah I would have had to send it on the next day anyway, go on take it.” 

 

Yuya did as he was told. 

 

“Thank you so much.” He said, clutching the card happily. 

 

“Your welcome, you have a nice day now.” 

 

“Yes, you too.” 

 

He then ran off the find the others. It didn’t take him long, they were stood by a lamp post just a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the market. 

 

“There you are.” Zuzu said as he caught up to them. 

 

“What kept you?” Tate asked. 

 

“This nice shop keeper gave me this card.” He said, showing it to them. 

 

“Wow! Cool!” Ali cried. 

 

“That sure was nice of him.” Zuzu said with a smile. 

 

“Yeah…” Yuya breathed, looking down at the card in his hands. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon it was called. He didn’t know why he’d been so interested in it, there was just something that felt right about it. Like he was being drawn to it. But that was silly. He slipped the card in his pocket to keep it safe then turned to Zuzu. 

 

“Well, better head over to the archives.” She said. 

 

“Right.” He nodded. “Do you know where they are?”

 

“In the palace, on the top level, come on the elevator’s this way.” 

 

The group followed her back to the elevator and headed up another floor to the palace. It took up the entirety of the upper floor of the kingdom and most people never visited unless they worked there or were members of the council. Some servants and the Emperors lived in the palace as well as the prince of course. The elevator dinged and opened onto a large hall with an oversized staircase on the opposite side, a clean marble floor and barely any furniture aside from a desk to the left of the room at which a young Astral male was sat with his feet propped up and a tired look on his face. 

 

“Excuse me.” Zuzu said, approaching the desk. The young man raised his head slightly to look at her. Just like everyone else did, he looked her up and down with distaste. “We’d like to visit the kingdom archives please.”

 

The man yawned, a little rudely in Zuzu’s opinion. “I’m afraid our archives are private, sorry.” He said, tone as bored as his expression. 

 

“What?” Zuzu gasped. “Please, you’ve got to let us check just for a few minutes, my friend—”

 

“Look!” He interrupted, sounding mildly irritated. “I said it’s private and that’s that. Now go away you’re annoying me.” 

 

Zuzu’s mouth dropped open, shocked by how rude he was. She huffed in indignation and returned to her friends. 

 

“So?” Tate asked when she reached them. 

 

“No good, the archives are sealed. 

 

“What?” Fredrick gasped. 

 

“We came all this way for nothing?” Ali asked, sounding upset. In fact, everyone had hurt looks on their faces at the thought that they wasted their efforts. 

 

“No way!” Zuzu said, determination clouding her eyes. 

 

“What?” Yuya asked. 

 

“I’m not letting this be a waste of time.” She continued, walking, or rather sneaking towards the door on the opposite side of the room. 

 

“Zuzu.” Yuya hissed as she reached for the handle. “What are you doing?” 

 

“Shh…” She said, putting her finger to her lips and slipping through the door. Yuya looked back at the receptionist to see he was still struggling not to fall asleep. With a heavy sigh, he followed Zuzu through the door, the three animals slipping in behind him. They found themselves in a purely white room with golden chandeliers providing a glowing effect, much like the rest of the kingdom. They didn’t waste time admiring it though, Zuzu had obviously carried on trying to find the archives, they had to catch up with her. So they headed over to the door at the end of the room. However, when they got there, they heard quite a commotion on the other side. They opened the door to a sight that shocked and horrified them. There was Zuzu, caught in the arms of a soldier. He was at least twice her size, with huge muscles, big lips and spikey green hair. 

 

“Let me go!” She cried. 

 

“You’re trespassing; I’ll be taking you to the prince now.” The big soldier said shoving her roughly out of the room. 

 

“Oh no!” The other four gasped. “Zuzu!” 

 

Meanwhile…

 

Back at his castle, Don Thousand was having a meeting. To say he’d been furious when he discovered his prisoners had escaped was an understatement. However, after having calmed down he consulted his mirror and discovered the group was in the kingdom of ZEXAL. Rather than trouble himself, he decided to get someone else to do his dirty work for him. So he hired the best criminals he could find. The kingdom of DM’s notorious thieves and assassins Bakura and Marik Yami. They were brothers and despite their names not related to Lord Ryo Bakura or Marik Ishtar, though the two bared a slight resemblance to them. Like Ryo, Bakura had pale white hair and brown eyes but these features were much softer on Ryo and sharper and edgier on Bakura. The two Mariks shared the sandy colour of their hair but unlike Marik Ishtar’s downward spikes and curves, Marik Yami’s hair flared out all over the place. The two Yami brothers had committed many horrible crimes in the kingdom of DM throughout their lives, such as Murder, Rape, Arson, Theft and so on… There was no doubt in Don Thousand’s mind they were the ideal pair to hunt down Yuya and his friends. The two weren’t accustomed to taking orders but Don Thousand had offered them a price they simply couldn’t refuse, so they listened quietly as he explained their task. 

 

“These are the people you’re after.” Don Thousand said as an image of the five friends appeared in his mirror. The two criminals laughed. 

 

“We could take them in our sleep.” Bakura said arrogantly, while Marik had an equally arrogant smirk on his face.

 

“Don’t underestimate them. Most are harmless but the boy…” He paused as an image of just Yuya appeared on the screen. “He has incredibly strong magical abilities. Fortunately for you he doesn’t know how to control them but if he gets cornered I’m not sure what’ll happen.” 

 

“We can take him; our magic is unmatched.” Marik assured. 

 

“Excellent.” Don Thousand said. “Bring him back to me and you’ll get your reward. He needs to be alive, whether harmed or unharmed I don’t care. As for the others do what you want with them, though I’d prefer if they be left in a position not to tell anyone what they know.” 

 

“We understand.” Bakura said, adjusting his blood-red coat. “They’ll be silenced.

Chapter Text

“Hey! Let me go!” Zuzu cried, as she was shoved through yet another door. This time into an enormous room, bright blue and sparkling with golden decorations here are there. It had perfect circular pillars lining both sides of the room reaching to the, what looked to be about, 30ft high ceiling. At the far end of the room were a series of steps reaching up to a platform, upon which two blue and gold thrones sat. Zuzu was dragged through the middle of the room and throw to the floor in-front of the steps. She looked up at the figure sitting on one of the thrones. He was an astral being but not like the ones she’d seen before. This one had heterochromic eyes, one gold and one a pure white. His skin was a translucent blue and covered in blue gems and green swirls. His matching blue hair curved up into a Mohawk style and he had two silver earrings dangling neatly by his shoulders. Zuzu knew him right away, he was Prince Astral, ruler of the Kingdom of ZEXAL. She gulped as he looked down at her, face completely void of emotion. He stared at her for a good three minutes as the room held its breath, everyone present too nervous to say anything. Finally, he opened his mouth.

 

“Who are you?” He asked, his voice deep and resonating. 

 

“Um…” Zuzu stammered, her nerves jamming the words in her throat.

 

“Well? what is your name?” He tried, his eyes softening a bit as he registered how anxious she was. 

 

“Zuzu, my- my name is Zuzu.” She said. 

 

“Zuzu…” He repeated, as though testing the name. “And what were you doing snooping around the palace?”

 

“Well… It’s kind of a long story.” 

 

“Hey!” The guard with the spikey green hair who’d dragged her in here yelled. “Show some respect, the prince asked you a question,” 

 

“Um… Well—” She began but was cut off as the door burst open and three small animals ran to her, followed by a figure in a billowing black cloak.

 

“Zuzu!” They all cried at the same time as the cat, dog and rabbit all jumped on her.

 

“Guys?” She gasped in shock as she was tackled to the floor. 

 

“What is the meaning of this?!” The guard demanded. 

 

“I’m sorry,” A new voice called out. Everyone looked to see a tanned boy in royal armor like that of the green-haired man. He had green eyes and brown hair that framed his face in thick curves, one set of which completely covered his left eye. 

 

“I couldn’t catch them in time,” He said, bowing his head. 

 

“It is quite alright Alito.” The prince said. “Please, would you mind summoning the rest of the emperors and my advisors, I suspect I will need their input.” 

 

“Yes sire.” He said, bowing again and leaving. 

 

“Now, I take it these are your friends.” Astral said, gesturing to the room’s new occupants. 

 

“Uh, yeah,” Zuzu said.

 

“We’re very sorry about this.” Said Yuya.

 

“And who might you be?” The prince asked. 

 

“My name is Yuya.” He replied. The prince’s eyes widened at that, like Zuzu, he wondered if he could be the same Yuya that vanished from the Kingdom of the Pendulum nearly fourteen years ago. He opened his mouth to say something but was cut of by the noisy entrance of his personal servant and best friend Yuma. 

 

“Astral!” He cried as he burst through the door and ran up to the prince, not even noticing the other people in room. “You sent for me? What do you need, I will do anything, just say the word, well, unless it’s something stupid, come on what is it!” Yuma babbled endlessly. Astral smiled fondly, Yuma’s enthusiasm was both infectious and entertaining. 

 

“I assume these people have something to do with it.” His advisor Kite said, gesturing to the group huddled on the floor as he entered and stood by the prince as Yuma had. The rest of the emperors filed in behind him. Their leader Nash, Shark, Reginald, whatever you wanted to call him, went to the front of the room to stand next to Astral with Kite and Yuma. The other six emperors lined up on either side of the room, effectively surrounding the group on the floor. Zuzu and Yuya suddenly became aware of their position now that there were so many eyes on them. They stood up quickly, while Tate, Ali and Fredrick cowered at their feet; intimidated by the hoard of scary looking soldiers. 

 

“Yes.” Astral said. “Perhaps you would all care to tell us your story now.”

 

“Well you see we came here to—” Yuya started but Shark cut him off. 

 

“First, I think it would be better if you took you’re cloak off.” Yuya tensed. “Forgive me but I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t show me their face.” He sneered at Yuya. 

 

“I—I um…” Yuya stuttered, clutching his cloak tighter around himself. “Please.” 

 

A lot of people in the room were taken aback at the desperate, terrified tone in his voice. 

 

“I think Nash is right.” Kite said. “He should take off the cloak so that we might see who it is we’ve captured.” 

 

“Yuya…” Zuzu said softly, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “We’re here for you.” 

 

Tate, Ali and Fredrick rubbed against his legs in an equally soothing way, letting him know he had their support too. Yuya smiled, he was lucky to have such wonderful friends. He took a deep breath, hands shaking horrible as he reached for the clasp protecting his identity. He shut his eyes, too frightened to see their reactions as he took the cape off and let it drop to the floor. His wings instantly flew up into the air, desperate to breath after being trapped for so long. 

 

“Oh my goodness.” Marin cried, hand flying to her mouth to stifle a gasp. Everyone else had similar reactions. Gasps, coupled with wide eyes came from all those that had never laid eyes on Yuya before. The three animals at his feet took offensive stances and Zuzu tightened her grip on his shoulder. The only one who didn’t react in any way was the prince. He just calmly observed Yuya. 

 

“Pardon my asking.” He said. “But what are you?”

 

Yuya tensed again, keeping his eyes shut. “I don’t know.” His whispered, pain and fear evident in his voice. 

 

Astral didn’t reply, just kept observing. He found he learnt a lot that way. So far his observations about the boy in front of him told him he was timid, self-conscious and friendly. His fear of revealing himself and self-consciousness told Astral he’d been abused because of his appearance and his interactions with his friends told Astral he was kind. 

 

“I can see you’ve been mistreated for how you look.” He said aloud. Yuya’s eyes flew open in shock. He could read him that easily? 

 

This time Astral did react. He could see Yuya’s eyes now. They were a perfect crimson, exactly as people had said the lost prince’s eyes were. Astral was becoming more and more interested. 

 

“That’s awful.” Yuma said. Everyone turned to him, having temporarily forgotten he was there. “My parent’s always said it was wrong to judge people by how they look. To think people have abused you for—” He clenched his fists in anger. 

 

“Hmm…” Astral placed a hand on his chin thoughtfully. “Perhaps this is too much pressure. A change of setting might help.” He stood up and turned to Shark. “Tell the other emperors they may leave.” 

 

“Are you sure that’s—” He began.

 

“Yes.” Astral said firmly. 

 

“As you wish.” Reginald nodded, he turned to the other emperors and ordered they return to their own activities. Like himself they weren’t thrilled with the idea but wouldn’t go against their leader’s orders. Ray and Alito went back to the duel they were having before all this started; Girag went to the training arena; Dumon returned to the library to finish the book he’d been reading; Rio retired to her room and Mizar decided to go get a snack. 

 

“Now I suggest the rest of us go relax in the lounge in the East Wing and you can tell us the full story.” Astral said, already standing and making his way to the door. Yuma ran to catch him up, rambling nonsense to him. Shark and Kite followed silently behind, both with blank yet scary expressions. Zuzu, Yuya, Ali, Tate and Fredrick didn’t move, still a bit unsure of what was going one. 

 

“Come on then.” Kite said, turning to them. They all exchanged looks and followed to the lounge. 

 

Meanwhile, two rough looking criminals had just begun to make the two-day journey from Don Thousand’s castle to the Kingdom of ZEXAL. Sharpening their knives to pass the time…

 

“Now.” Astral said when they were all settled, Yuya and his friends on one sofa, Astral, Yuma and Shark on another with Kite taking a nearby armchair. “Perhaps you would care to explain why you’re here and why you were snooping around the castle.”

 

Zuzu explained everything from the beginning. She told them about how Yuya had ended up with Don Thousand under mysterious circumstances and not long after the three animals had joined him and the four had suffered his abuse for years. She talked a little about her meeting with Yuya, but saw he was still affected by it. Everyone else seemed to notice too and allowed her to move on. She then explained their plan and how they wanted to get into the archives. 

 

“We just wanted to help Yuya find his family.” She said. Yuya lowered his head.

 

“I’m sorry.” He said. 

 

“What?”

 

“You got in this mess because of me.”

 

Zuzu laughed and shook her head. “Don’t be silly.” She smiled, “You’re our friend, we know you’d do the same for us. Besides, I’ve never had a family, I know what it’s like to grow up without anyone, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

 

The other group of people in the room watched this with interest and took time to consider the story. Yuma then surprised everyone by walking over calmly and placing his arms around both Yuya and Zuzu in a hug. 

 

“That was so horrible, no one should be treated like that.”

 

Those in the room that knew Yuma weren’t surprised by this but moved none the less. He’d always been sensitive when it came to things like this. He had a big heart. Trouble was he had a big mouth too but that wasn’t important right now. 

 

“I agree, I am sorry to hear of your hardship, and I will have to revaluate the visitor system in this castle.” 

 

“Yes, someone better tell that no good reception guy he should let people in if they want to help it’s just—” Yuma began rambling again. 

 

“I will see to it we take better care to listen to those who come here.” Kite said solemnly.

 

Astral nodded at him gratefully. “Now, it has been a long day, perhaps you would all care to spend the night.” 

 

“Are you sure that’s wise sire?” Shark asked. Astral nodded. “Yuma would you show them to their rooms.” 

 

“Just leave it to me!” The energetic young boy said confidently. “Follow me.” 

 

The six of them left. 

 

“Are you certain—” Kite began but Astral cut in. 

 

“Yes.” He said firmly. “I don’t think they’re bad people, the way that girl stood up for herself and her friends even though she was scared, you could see in the way her hands shook, she’s very brave. Those animals, they care for their friends, and that boy… I’ve never seen so much pain in someone’s eyes before. He’s suffered a lot in his life but you can see he still has hope.” 

 

Both Kite and Nash were unsure of how to respond. They were both cautious characters but could hear the truth in their prince’s words. They decided for the time being they’d give them the benefit of the doubt, but one wrong move… 

 

Yuma lead the five friends down some corridors. Whenever they passed people they’d stare at them. It wasn’t everyday you saw three brightly coloured animals, a scruffy street girl and a boy with black skin and wings. Yuya placed his arms around himself shyly, still uncomfortable being the centre of attention. (Ha! The irony) 

 

“Here we go.” Yuma stopped, opening a door. 

 

“Yuma?” Came the sound of a female voice. The six all filed into the room to find a young maid with green moon-shaped hair making the bed.

 

“Tori!” Yuma said happily. 

 

“How nice to see you.” She said with a smile. It dropped when she noticed the other people in the room. She looked at them with confusion. “Who are your friends?”

 

“This is Yuya, Zuzu, Tate, Ali and Fredrick. They’re going to be staying with us for a bit.”

 

“Nice to meet you.” Zuzu said with a bow. 

 

“Hello.” “Delighted to meet you.” “Hi there.” The three animals said. 

 

Yuya just gave shy wave. His wings folded behind him self-consciously. Tori smiled, she could tell just by looking at their faces these people were friendly, even if they looked a bit strange. 

 

“It’s nice to meet you, I’m Tori.” 

 

“Zuzu.” Yuma said. “This will be your room.”

 

“Really?!” Zuzu gasped. She’d never had a roof over her head in all her life. Now this entire room was to be hers. It was huge and beautifully decorated with carvings of flowers and white drapes and rugs. 

 

Tori laughed, “I’ll help you settle in if you like.” She offered. 

 

“Really?” Zuzu asked again. “Thank you.”

 

The two girls smiled at each other and Yuma lead the other’s out. He took them down two more doors then opened onto a room decorated with blue paint and wooden furniture. 

 

“You three can stay in here.” He said to the animals. 

 

“Yeah?” Ali asked. 

 

“Oh thank you.” Fredrick said, running to jump on the bed. Soon the other two joined him, laughing happily. 

 

The two boys left them to it. 

 

“And this one is for you.” Yuma said, opening the next door. Yuya walked in and gasped. The room was huge. It was a pure white with a large four-poster bed in the middle. 

 

“Yuma?” He asked. 

 

“Yes Yuya?”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“What for?”

 

“For not thinking I’m a monster…” Both his voice and head lowered. Yuma walked over and embrace Yuya in a hug. 

 

“Don’t let anyone make you think you’re a monster Yuya, I can just tell you’re a great person.”

 

“Thanks.” 

 

They both smiled and broke the hug. 

 

“Goodnight.” Yuma said, leaving Yuya to himself. Yuya smiled and went to collapse on his bed. Now that he was alone he suddenly realised how tired her was. It had been a long day. He fell asleep feeling incredibly warm inside. 

 

Zuzu was right… People can accept me…

Chapter Text

Astral was up first the next morning, he headed to the library to research the lost prince. He still had suspicions about Yuya. It would seem no one else made the connection because of his appearance. The lost prince definitely did not possess wings or such unusual skin. However, Astral knew some things in life were never as they appeared. He knew it would take incredibly powerful magic, but it was still possible to change someone’s appearance. Magic was practiced widely throughout the five kingdoms but most only used it in emergencies and used their own skills in life, they didn’t like to be lazy. There were some people out there, though, who sat on their sofas all their lives and used their powers to do everything for them. 

 

Transformation spells were very rare and took an incredibly large amount of power, but they were not impossible. Astral look through his books to see if there was any evidence Yuya may have been transformed by a spell by this “master” of his. All throughout the story last night he had only ever referred to him like that, not once did they mention his name. Astral decided to ask Yuya about it later, perhaps it would help. In the meantime he would research the lost prince and transformation magic to see in the two lined up in some way. 

 

Yuya awoke only an hour after Astral. His body was still use to the early mornings of work he’d been subjected to his entire life. It wasn’t until he was dressed and halfway out the door that he remembered where he was and why he was there. He sighed to himself, no use trying to get back to sleep now. So he wandered down the corridor looking for something he could do. He couldn’t believe he was really in the palace in the Kingdom of ZEXAL. Not only that, but he was around other people, without a disguise, and they didn’t seem to care at all. It felt like a dream… Oh how he hoped he’d never wake up. 

 

“Yuya?” 

 

He turned to see who’d addressed him. He found Yuma leaning halfway out a door, to what Yuya guessed must have been his room. He was still wearing his grey pajamas and rubbed a hand over his half-lidded eyes tiredly. 

 

“What are you doing up at this hour?” He asked with a yawn.

 

“Oh,” Yuya said. “Well… I always get up at this time, you know, to go do my chores.”

 

Yuma seemed to snap awake at his answer. His body straightened and his eyes lost their exhaustion. 

 

“I’m sorry.” He said. 

 

Yuya tilted his head in confusion. 

 

“What for?”

 

Yuma waked over and pulled Yuya into a hug. Something, Yuya noticed, he’d done a lot of since they’d gotten here. 

 

“I’m really sorry you had to go through so much…”

 

“Oh!” Yuya realised. “Don’t worry.” He pulled away and smiled. “I’m use to it, besides things could have been worse, at least I had my friends and a warm bed and good food you know…” He lowered his gaze to the floor as he thought things over. “Zuzu never had any of that… She’s always been alone… I wish I could have done something…” 

 

“But you did!” Yuma exclaimed happily. 

 

“Huh?”

 

“You, and your other friends, gave her a family and now that you have each other you’ll all be happy right?” He flashed Yuya a huge grin. “My dad always says making friends is the most important thing in the world and everyone needs a good friend to be there for them.” 

 

Yuya smiled. “You’re right, thank you Yuma.” 

 

The two laughed happily for a few moments. They were really becoming good friends fast. 

 

“How about I get dressed then we can grab your friends and go get some breakfast.”

 

As if Yuya’s stomach heard and understood what Yuma had just said it gave a loud rumble. Yuya wrapped his arms around his middle and blushed. Yuma laughed. 

 

“I’ll take that as a yes.” 

 

“Well?” Astral asked. Anyone standing nearby would think he was talking to thin air, there didn’t appear to be anyone in the library but him. Of course, Astral had better senses than most and could easily tell when he was or wasn’t alone and right now he it was the latter. 

 

“I did as you asked my lord.” A short boy in blue clothes with big glasses and a small hat said, emerging from the shadows. This was Flip Turner, royal spy. 

 

“What did you discover?” Astral asked. He’d instructed Flip the previous night to sneak around and find out what he could about Yuya and his friends. 

 

“I’ve learned that the three animals, Tate, Ali and Fredrick, are actually children who disappeared from the Kingdom of GX eight years ago.”

 

So… Whoever’s behind this can preform transformation spells… Interesting… Astral thought. 

 

“I also discovered the girl, Zuzu Boyle, is the missing daughter of Lord Skip Boyle of the Pendulum Kingdom.” 

 

Astral seemed shocked by this news. He’d not formally known that Lord Skip had a daughter. 

 

“My investigation revealed she was kidnapped fourteen years ago, around the same time as the prince which is why not many people head about it. What happened to her after that I don’t know…”

 

“I see… Fascinating…” Astral said. “And what of Yuya?”

 

“I cannot say for certain if he is the missing prince, however, I can confirm he is the right age and aside from the skin and wings his features match the prince’s description.”

 

Astral nodded. “Thank you Flip. You are dismissed.” 

 

Flip bowed respectfully and left. Astral stayed still, chin resting on the palm of his hand, as he mulled over everything he’d heard. 

 

Yuma had lead Yuya, Zuzu, Tate, Ali and Fredrick to the main dining room where the emperors and Kite were already eating. The five of them grew a little nervous, not use to this situation at all. Yuma noticed their hesitance and gave them an encouraging smile. 

 

“Don’t worry, it took me ages to get use to life around here, and even now I mess up all the time. Just sit down and eat, don’t worry.” 

 

They all nodded and the six of them sat down. Well, the three humans sat, the animals hopped up onto the table and began chomping down the food on their plates. The emperors watched them carefully, still not quite trusting the strange travelers. 

 

Everybody ate in silence for a while; until finally Astral showed up. 

 

“Hey Astral!” Yuma cried, running over and embracing his friend. Astral smiled and hugged Yuma back. Astral motioned for Yuma to return to his seat then took his place at the head of the table. 

 

“I hope you all had a pleasant night.” He said. “Shark, you and the emperors will proceed with your normal activities. Myself, Yuma and Kite will take care of our guests today.”

 

“Are you sure that—” Shark began but Astral cut in. 

 

“Yes quite sure.” 

 

Shark sighed but didn’t argue. He trusted the prince to know what he was doing. 

 

So after breakfast the emperors went to do some training exercises while Yuma, Kite, Astral, Zuzu, Yuya, Ali, Tate and Fredrick all gathered in another small living area. 

 

Yuma began to play tag with the young animals while the others sat down to discuss certain matters. 

 

“Now, I apologise for not informing you but I have done some research on all of you.” Astral admitted. 

 

“You have?” Zuzu gasped. Astral nodded.

 

“It would seem your friends over there are all young children who disappeared from the kingdom of GX, is that right?”

 

“Yeah.” Yuya whispered sadly. “They accidentally wandered into my master’s garden one day and he turned them into animals as punishment…”

 

“And you.” Astral continued, turning to Zuzu. “turns out you are the daughter of Lord Skip Boyle of the Kingdom of the Pendulum.”

 

“What?!” Everyone cried, except for Astral and Kite.

 

“She’s that Zuzu Boyle!” Yuma gasped. 

 

“Well duh.” Kite said, deadpanned. “How many Zuzu Boyle’s do you think there are.” 

 

Yuma turned red and gave Kite an angry glare. 

 

“Zuzu…?” Yuya asked hesitantly, wondering how she was taking all this. 

 

“I— I have a father…” She whispered. “I don’t… My earliest memory is wandering the streets of GX when I was five… I— I knew what my name was, but that was all I knew.”

 

“Well…” Astral said. “The story of Zuzu Boyle is not widely known as it happened at the same time as the prince’s kidnapping, however, my spy was able to find out enough about it. Apparently, Skip is incredibly close friends with Yoko and Yusho Sakaki and was visiting them with his newborn daughter when they returned with their newborn son so they could all celebrate their new children. Unfortunately, on the way his car was attacked by a gang of criminals who took not only all his valuables but you, Zuzu, as well. We’re not sure what they intended to do with you however they must have gone to the kingdom of GX and somehow lost you there. I expect you were injured and lost your memory.” 

 

Everyone sat in silence, just absorbing what Astral had said. Thoughts raced through Zuzu’s mind at a mile a minute. 

 

“If you would like.” Astral said. “I can send a message to Skip and ask him to come here so the two of you can meet.”

 

Zuzu’s eyes widened at the thought. Meet her father… After all these years.

 

I have a family, a father. Someone who can care for me, and love me. I’m not alone… 

 

As soon as that thought crossed her mind she couldn’t help but look around her. She looked at the three small animals still playing happily with Yuma and at Yuya who was looking at her with a mix of shock, understanding and happiness. 

 

No… I’m not alone… I haven’t been for a while now. 

 

She smiled. 

 

“Thank you for the offer Astral. But I must decline.”

 

“What?!” Everyone gasped, Yuya being the loudest.

 

“Don’t get me wrong I want to see my father.” Zuzu explained. “But you guys,” she gestured to the four hybrids, “are my family too, I promised I would help Yuya find his family and I intend to keep my promise. I’m sure there will be plenty of time to meet with my dad afterwards.”

 

“But… Zuzu…” Said Yuya. “I can’t let you do that. We may never find my family; you have a chance to be with your dad. You have to take it!” 

 

Zuzu shook her head. “Like I said, you’re family too Yuya, I can’t and won’t abandon you.” 

 

Yuya was speechless. She was willing to give up the chance to meet her father… For him? Tears welled in his eyes as he grabbed her and pulled her into a hug, sobbing into her shoulder. Zuzu smiled and hugged him back; tears beginning to prick at her own eyes.

 

Kite and Astral were beginning to feel a little awkward watching the emotional moment exchanged between the two friends. Yuma and the animals were still playing, blissfully unaware of the tension in the room. 

 

“Well then…” Astral said, drawing everyone’s attention. Yuya and Zuzu broke their hug, blushing heavily. “If you feel so strongly, I shall do everything in my power to help you find your family Yuya.” 

 

“Really?” Yuya and Zuzu asked. 

 

Astral nodded. “In fact—” 

 

He was suddenly cut off as the door burst open. 

 

“Sire.” Nash said, entering. “Pardon the intrusion but there has been a breech of security on level three.”

 

Astral and Kite stood up. Yuma also ceased his activities. 

 

“We’ll have to finish this later. Yuma take care of our guests.” Astral instructed, then he, Kite and Shark left. 

 

Tate, Zuzu, Ali, Fredrick and Yuya all looked slightly worried but Yuma just smiled at them. 

 

“Don’t worry, this happens all the time, it’s usually nothing.” 

 

“Well okay,” Ali said. “In that case…” She jumped and landed a hit with her paw on Yuma’s arm. “Tag, you’re it!” 

 

Yuma laughed and began chasing her and the other animals once again, this time out the door and off down the corridor. 

 

“Well uh…” Zuzu mumbled, not quite sure what to do now. 

 

“Perhaps we should go back to our rooms.” Yuya suggested. 

 

“Good idea.” 

 

They both headed off down the hall, following their vague memory of the way they’d come. Eventually they reached the rooms and both parted ways with quick “bye’s”. Zuzu entered her room and went over to the window. She leaned on the windowpane and looked out. A sigh escaped her lips as she mulled over what had happened that morning. She’d discovered she had a father, Lord Skip Boyle, who lived in the Kingdom of the Pendulum. To tell the truth, she had said she didn’t want to contact him mainly because she wanted to stay and help Yuya. However, it wasn’t the only reason… Deep down she was scared. What if he didn’t like her? What if he’d already forgotten her? It was thirteen years ago after all. If he was a lord that would make her a noble’s daughter. Something she was certain she wasn’t cut out for… 

 

Yuya entered his room, walked over to his bed and flopped down onto it. He sighed, just as Zuzu had. She really gave up the chance to meet her father? For him? His heart clenched with guilt just thinking about it. Why did she care so much anyway? He was just a freak. He brought a hand up to his face and felt his skin. To most it would feel no different than their own, but to Yuya, it was cold as ice. His moved it to stroke his wings. 

 

“I’m a monster…” He said. “Why does she care so much for a monster like me…”  

Chapter Text

“Is that definitely them?” A gruff, almost impossibly deep, voice asked. His friend with the binoculars nodded. 

 

“Definitely,” he had a voice just as sharp but not quite as low. The one with the binoculars lowered them and stood up, his red cape flowing around in the wind along with his sharp, white hair. The notorious criminal Bakura Yami, wanted in the kingdom of DM for numerous crimes, everything from pickpocketing to mass murder. His brother, Marik Yami, equally as ruthless, came up behind him, looking down at the palace. The two had secured a small base atop one of the towers around the palace. Conveniently on the side of Yuya, Zuzu, Tate, Fredrick and Ali’s rooms. From here they could spy on the group freely, though, there was a minor issue earlier when they’d set off an alarm sneaking in, they’d managed to avoid the guards with skills that could only come from years of experience in these things. Right now they could see Zuzu and Yuya both relaxing on their beds in their respective rooms. From the looks on their faces, they both had a lot on their minds. 

 

“Shall we strike now?” Marik asked.

 

“No.” Bakura replied. “We’ll wait until the sun goes down, we need the cover of darkness.” 

 

Marik nodded and smiled. The kind of twisted evil smile only people with a love for the suffering of others can pull off.

 

Meanwhile, the two they were spying on were too wrapped up in their own turmoil to even consider the oncoming danger. 

 

Zuzu couldn’t stop thinking about her father. He was a noble… What would he think when he learned his daughter was a penniless street urchin? She groaned in frustration and grabbed her pillow, slamming it over her head in an attempt to block out her thoughts. 

 

In his room, Yuya wasn’t faring much better. He was putting himself down as normal. The voice of his master echoing in his head; tormenting him even now.

 

“You’re a monster.”

 

“Worthless brat, how dare you!”

 

“Don’t touch me you disgusting creature.”

 

“I should have slaughtered you when I found you.”

 

“No wonder your parents never wanted you.” 

 

Tears welled in his eyes. He sat up and rubbed them fiercely with his hands, determined not to break down. For years he’d heard these things said about him, and while they hurt he accepted them as the truth. But now, it was so much worse. Now he’d spent time outside, met other people, even traveled to another kingdom. He was beginning to question his status as a monster, and that made the words all the more terrifying. Before they had been the definite truth to him, but now that he had been given hope they might not be true. He was scared his master had been right all along and that his new hope would be ripped away from him. 

 

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door. 

 

“Yuya?” 

 

It was Yuma, Yuya recognised his voice immediately. The door opened and his familiar black and pink covered head poked into view. 

 

“It’s time for dinner.” He said, smiling that goofy smile of his. Yuya smiled also and the two walked to the dining room together. When they arrived, Zuzu, Tate, Ali, Fredrick and the Emperors were already there. Astral, Kite and Shark were all absent. 

 

“I’m afraid they’re still looking into the breech yesterday.” Yuma explained as they sat down. “Apparently someone managed to sneak inside the palace grounds!” 

 

“Really?” Tate asked, getting nervous. 

 

“Oh, don’t worry.” Yuma said. “They won’t be able to hide forever, believe me the Emperors are the best, they’ll catch ‘em, no doubt.” 

 

“Got that right!” Alito shouted from down the table, giving Girag a high-five. Everyone laughed and continued to eat. It was silent for a while, then when mostly everyone had finished, Tate decided to speak.

 

“Zuzu, Yuya.” He addressed his two friends.

 

“Yes?” Zuzu asked. He looked nervous all of a sudden, Ali nudged him and she and Fredrick gave him encouraging looks. 

 

“We’ve decided to stay.” He said finally. 

 

“What?” Both Yuya and Zuzu gasped. 

 

“We were speaking with the healer here, Dextra, yesterday,” Ali explained. “She said it might take a while but she could make a potion to cure us.”

 

Both Zuzu and Yuya’s faces softened in understanding. 

 

“You can still come visit and we’ll visit you guys when you find your families, it’s just, we can’t pass up the opportunity to be human again. We’re not exactly much use as animals.” The three of them sighed. 

 

“What are you talking about?” Zuzu said. They looked up, seeing her and Yuya smiling at them.

 

“Yeah,” Yuya continued. “You guys were the only ones able to sneak past my master to get the keys to help us escape. If it weren’t for you, we’d still be captured and I’d only have three days to live. Not only that but if it weren’t for you guys I’d have been lonely for my entire life, I’d never have gotten up the courage to go outside and meet new people. In fact, I don’t know where we’d all be right now without you.”

 

The three small animals felt tears forming in their eyes as they jumped into the arms of their friends. The five of them hugged each other tightly, knowing they might not be able to for quite some time. The kids were like a sister and brothers to Yuya, he’d grown up taking care of them. They were amongst the first people to accept Zuzu as more than a dirty, street girl. Unable to resist, Yuma jumped on them and forced his way into the hug causing them all to laugh, even the emperors all cracked smiles at the display. 

 

“We understand, but we’re gonna miss you guys.” Yuya said, wiping tears from his eyes. Zuzu nodded. 

 

“Don’t worry.” Yuma said. They all broke away to look at him. “I promise we’ll take good care of them, and the three of you will be back to normal in no time.” 

He grinned at them and they grinned back. 

 

“Well,” Zuzu said, getting up. “I think that’s enough excitement for one evening, I’m gonna turn in.” 

 

The others nodded, making to leave as well. On the way back Zuzu was stopped by the last person she expected. Astral. 

 

“Zuzu. A word.” He said, opening a door and gesturing for her to follow him. She entered the room to discover it was a small library with maybe four rows of bookshelves jutting out from the walls and a desk opposite them. Astral went and sat on the chair by the desk but turned it to face her. 

 

“Um… Yes…” She said hesitantly. “What do you need?”

 

“I thought it best I ask you as it’s obviously a distressing topic for the others, but what can you tell me about Yuya’s former master.” 

 

Zuzu flinched at his request. 

 

“W-why do you want t-to know?” She stammered, both shocked and confused. 

 

“I want to help him, I suspect there is more to him than any of us realise and his master kidnapped him for a reason. If we can figure out why he was kidnapped it might lead us to where he was taken from, so knowing as much as possible would be useful.” Astral explained. Zuzu’s face seemed to register understanding of his logic and she relaxed a great deal. 

 

“Well, I don’t know much, I only met him briefly, but I do know he is a cruel man. He turned Ali, Fredrick and Tate into animals and kidnapped Yuya and kept them all locked up for years. I know that he forced Yuya to work for him and tortured him often. He convinced Yuya that he was a monster and also forbid him from ever using his magic. He’s also a very powerful sorcerer.” 

 

“Did he have a name?” Astral asked, sounding a little irritated. Zuzu pretended not to notice.

 

“I think it was Don Thousand.” 

 

Astral flinched, very obviously. Then almost instantly his mask was up, he turned away from Zuzu and asked, politely but forcefully, for her to leave. She wanted to know what got him so freaked out but his tone told her quite clearly he needed to be alone for a bit. She felt it would be better to ask when he was calm again. 

 

As soon as she’d left, Astral let the damn burst, allowing the river of memories to flood into his head. 

 

5 years ago…

 

“Your time is up your highness.” The evil sorcerer sneered. He’d defeated all the emperors and had challenged the prince directly to a duel, with the entire kingdom of ZEXAL on the line. He’d made it clear his goal was to one-day control all the kingdoms and drain the power from all magical beings to become the most powerful being in the divided lands. He’d drained a large portion of magic from people of the kingdom already, destroying parts of the kingdom in the process. 

 

“Your insane plan will never work. I shall defeat you!” Astral cried, drawing his next card. 

 

Present day…

 

Astral rubbed his head as the images of his people being drained of their magic and their homes being destroyed swarmed his mind. He’d beaten Don Thousand and sent him running, but he should have realised he wouldn’t stay down for long. He’d only won because of Yuma. On the verge of defeat, almost ready to surrender, his friend had jumped in and reminded him to “feel the flow”, and together the two managed to preform a Zexal morph. Their souls had a special connection, they’d been chosen by a special type of magic, the power of Zexal. With it, they could merge their bodies, minds and hearts. With Zexal, the two could become one and together they triumphed over Don Thousand and his evil.

 

“I should have known he’d return.” Astral sighed. “But why Yuya…” Astral gasped as the answer hit him. If Yuya was the lost prince, he had light and dark magic. The most powerful light and dark magic seen in the divided lands in centuries. With power like that, Don Thousand could defeat them all easily, none of the kingdoms could stand up to that kind of power. 

 

“But he’s had Yuya for almost fourteen years… Why wait? Why not drain him as a child?” He placed a hand on his chin. “So many questions…” 

 

The door to the room suddenly slammed open to reveal a distressed looking Nash. 

 

“My prince, the visitors, Yuya and Zuzu, they’ve been kidnapped.” 

 

“What?!” Astral cried. “What of their other friends?”

 

“They were with Yuma, I’ve got Dumon and Marin protecting them and the servants are all barricaded in the servant’s quarters.”

 

“Excellent work.” Astral praised, getting up and joining him to run down the corridor. Kite and Mizar were waiting for them outside Yuya and Zuzu’s rooms. 

 

“The other emperors are searching the castle.” Mizar said, Nash nodded at him. 

 

“What happened?” Astral demanded. 

 

“See for yourself.” Kite replied, opening the door to Yuya’s room. Astral and Shark looked in to find the place torn apart. The dresser was pushed over, sheets and curtains were torn and scattered, the mattress of the bed and the walls had numerous, unnerving slashes through them. 

 

“Oh no…” Astral whispered. “He’s found them.”

 

“Who?” Kite asked. 

 

“Don Thousand.”

 

“What?!” All of them cried. 

 

“That nutcase that attack us five years ago?” Asked Mizar. 

 

Astral nodded. “Zuzu told me he was the one that tortured Yuya all these years.” 

 

They all gasped again.

 

“Pardon me sir, but this doesn’t look like his handiwork.” Shark said. Astral waited for a second. 

 

“No.” He finally said. “It doesn’t, but he wants Yuya… Perhaps he isn’t working alone.”

 

“Well whatever’s going on we need to find them.” Kite stated firmly. Everyone agreed and split up to help with the search. 

 

Yuya and Zuzu were at the top of the west tower, bound and gagged. Marik and Bakura loomed over them with a disturbing hunger in their eyes. 

 

“Hmmm Mphmm.” Yuya tried to speak but the cloth over his mouth prevented the words from being coherent. 

 

“Aw, what was that?” Marik asked tauntingly. “You want us to beat you into submission? Well if you insist.” He kneed Yuya in the face, sending him sideways onto the floor, moaning in pain. Zuzu cried out as Marik and Bakura were overcome with sadistic laughter. Bakura knelt down by Yuya and removed his gag, curious as to what he wanted to say. 

 

“What…” Yuya rasped. “What do you want with us?”

 

“It’s not what we want.” Bakura replied. “Rather, what your master wants.” 

 

Both Yuya and Zuzu’s eyes widened. Zuzu’s in surprise, Yuya’s in fear.

 

“Yes.” Marik laughed. “He’s put quite the price on your head, and those of your friends. Only difference is, you he wants alive.” He pulled a knife from his pocket and placed it on Zuzu’s neck, she reeled back. “Whereas your friends, are expendable.” 

 

“No!” Yuya cried, as a sharp surge of light exploded from his chest. Marik and Bakura screamed as they were both knocked back into the wall on the opposite side of the tower. They slumped to the floor, dazed but conscious. 

 

“Don Thousand wasn’t kidding.” Bakura hissed, trying to regain focus. “He is powerful.” 

 

Yuya was scared, he still wasn’t use to using his powers, he was still afraid of hurting others with them. 

 

“Humgh, Urghm.” Came the sound of Zuzu’s muffled voice. Yuya looked over at her, bound and powerless. He knew then he had to protect her. No matter what. 

 

Okay… Focus… He thought, his chest tightened with fear at using his powers but he pushed ahead. He had to save his friend. Astral… He called, using his magic to call out to the prince. Astral help. 

 

Astral was with Shark searching the east wing of the castle when he felt the powerful magic calling out to him. He froze, clutching his head as the words penetrated his mind.

 

“My prince!” Shark cried, worried. 

 

Astral, please help. Yuya’s voice resonated inside his brain. 

 

Yuya? Astral replied. Where are you?

 

I don’t know.

 

Show me. Astral tried to connect with Yuya, tried to see what he could. Yuya allowed him through, allowed him see what he could. Astral’s eyes snapped open, showing their determination.

 

“Prince Astral?” Nash asked, slightly confused as to what was going on.

 

“They’re in the west tower.” Astral said, taking off in that direction. “Come on, we may not have long.” 

 

Shark was even more confused now but decided to follow him anyway. The prince was usually right about these sorts of things. 

 

While the two rescuers were making their way over, the two master criminals were beginning to regain their strength. As soon as they looked over at their captives they saw, a now freed, Yuya attempting to undo Zuzu’s binds. Growling in anger, Bakura shot a blast of dark magic at him, sending him flying into the wall. 

 

“Yuya!” Zuzu cried. The young hybrid groaned in pain and staggered to his feet, determined to protect Zuzu from these evil sorcerers. Marik laughed, seeing the situation clearly. He took aim at Zuzu, who’s eyes widened in horror. 

 

“No!” Yuya cried, jumping in front just in time. He spread his wings around the two of them, letting his back take the full force of the attack. Zuzu gasped and looked up into his face as he shielded her. It was contorted in unimaginable pain but he bore it as best he could for her sake. 

 

“Yuya, please stop.” She begged. The magic dissipated and Yuya fell to his knees, hissing and moaning in pain but refusing to collapse. “Go, save yourself.” 

 

“No!” He insisted. “Not without you.” 

 

“Aw… Isn’t that sweet… What do you think brother, should we let them go?” Marik asked, tauntingly. 

 

“How about we destroy them both, that way they’ll be together forever, in hell!” Bakura cried, laughing manically. 

 

“You’re the only ones going to hell!” A new voice cried. Everyone turned in shock to see Astral and Shark stood in the doorway, panting heavily from the long run over. Yuya and Zuzu both smiled in relief while Marik and Bakura scowled. Bakura hid his right hand behind his back, allowing one of his most powerful spells to charge up undetected. 

 

“Too late your highness, their time is up!” He cried, then without warning, sent his magic straight at Yuya and Zuzu. 

 

“NO!” Astral and Shark cried, unable to stop him. Zuzu and Yuya both looked on in horror as the immense amount of magic came hurtling towards them. 

 

It struck.

Chapter Text

At the edge of the kingdom of ZEXAL, a dull wooden carriage stopped at the border between the kingdom and the infinite forest. Two figures, heavily clad in thick brown cloaks, dismounted, caring a bag each containing only the most essential of items. 

 

“If you continue east for about a week you should reach the kingdom of 5DS,” The one driving the carriage said to them, as the fourth member of the party exited the carriage. 

 

“Thanks Shark,” One of the cloaked figure’s said to Shark, the one acting as the driver, and if necessary, protector. 

 

“Here,” the fourth person said, handing a letter to the other two. A pair of dainty, smooth hands reached out and took it, before tossing their bag to the floor and slipping it inside. “When you arrive take this to the castle and give them the letter, they’ll be able to help you.” 

 

“Thank you Astral.” The one who’d taken the letter said, slinging the bag back over their shoulder. 

 

“No problem, we wish you luck.” Astral said, returning to the carriage. The other two said their farewells and disappeared into the forest. 

 

“Are you sure they’ll be okay?” Shark asked. 

 

“Honestly… I don’t know. All we can do now is hope.” Astral replied. He then shut the door and the two returned to the palace. 

 

Meanwhile, when the two cloaked figures had made it deep enough into the forest, they removed their hoods to reveal the faces of Yuya and Zuzu. 

 

“Do you think Ali, Tate and Fredrick will be okay?” Yuya asked. 

 

“Of course, with people like Yuma, Shark, Astral, Kite and everyone taking care of them. They’ll be just fine.” Zuzu replied. “Besides, that healer of theirs, Dextra, will be able to cure them and then they’ll be human again.” 

 

She smiled happily at the thought; it was such an infectious smile Yuya couldn’t help but return it. He was glad she was safe. When Bakura had thrown that spell at them he was terrified they’d both be killed. What happened though, wasn’t much better…


Yuya covered his face with his hands in a desperate form of protection. He squeezed his eyes shut waiting for the impact, but it never came. After a while, when the lack of searing pain was starting to confuse him, he cracked his eyes open. What he saw made them snap wide open in horror. Zuzu was in front of him, facing the attackers, smoke hovering from her chest. She suddenly began falling sideways and Yuya rushed to catch her. She fell into his arms, her eyes were shut and horrible burns now covered the front of her body. Tears instantly formed in Yuya’s eyes as he assumed the worst. 


The two broke through the thick trees and into a clearing. 

 

“This looks like a good place to set up camp, don’t you agree?” Said Zuzu. 

 

“Yes,” Yuya nodded, pulling the blanket he had out of his bag and laying it down. “I’ll go get us some fire wood.” He took off into the woods, gathering some sticks and dry leaves as he went. 


“Damn b****.” Bakura growled, “I was hoping to destroy both of them.” 

 

Yuya placed Zuzu on the ground, rising slowly to his feet. His bangs covered his eyes but it was obvious from the way he bit his lip and clenched his fists that he was unimaginably angry at this point. 

 

“You hurt my friend.” He whispered. His voice was so dark and threatening even Bakura and Marik were somewhat unnerved by it. Astral and Nash stood in the doorway still, staring open-mouthed at the scene in front of them. He raised his head, showing cold, compassionless eyes. “I won’t forgive you for that.”


“I’m back.” He cried, running into the clearing. While he was gone Zuzu had laid out their blankets and fashioned a small fire pit in the middle of them with some stones. She’d also taken out the tins of meat and spaghetti they’d been given to make dinner. Yuya placed the firewood in the pit and used some of his magic to light it. Zuzu placed a pot on top of it, being careful not to let it fall, then added the food and waited for it to cook, stirring it ever so often. The two sat in silence throughout the cooking process, both focused on not letting their dinner spill of burn. Once they were settled and munching on their food, Zuzu finally spoke. 

 

“You know; I’ve been wondering…” She began, pausing for Yuya to properly focus on what she was saying. “Why is it you’re so scared of using your powers?”

 

Yuya stiffened, however, Zuzu wasn’t looking at him so she hadn’t noticed. 

 

“Why would your master not want you to use your magic, it’s really amazing.” She turned and smiled at him, silently awaiting his answer. Unfortunately, he didn’t know what it was yet. His magic was a touchy subject… He was scared of using it because the punishment he’d received for using it that one time still haunted him to this day, but also because he believed it to be dangerous. That was the whole reason he’d been forbidden to use it, because having light and dark magic was unnatural. It was like another deformity, only unlike his wings and skin colour, he could actually conceal this one. That was why he’d only used light magic in front of people up until this point, he couldn’t risk people seeing he had dark magic as well. So to answer Zuzu’s question he told her the story of being whipped for using magic. By the end of it she was embracing him in an offer of comfort and had totally forgotten the issue of his powers. For the time being…


Pure bright energy surrounded Yuya. Though they wouldn’t admit it, Marik and Bakura were beginning to feel scared. Marik moved his arms to cast a destruction spell and sent it at Yuya in a stream of dark energy that should have ripped him apart. However, to everyone’s surprise, he absorbed the blast without even flinching. Marik and Bakura gasped, taking a step back in shock and fear. Yuya raised his hand and sent out a stream of energy so powerful it blasted the two criminals right through the wall of the tower, sending them plummeting to their deaths. They probably would have screamed had they not been fried unconscious by his magic. Yuya just stared emotionlessly at the gaping hole he’d created in the wall. 

 

“She’s alive!” Shark cried. Yuya’s eyes widened and he turned around to see Shark holding Zuzu with his fingers pressed on her neck, clearing feeling for her pulse. 

 

“Take her to Dextra.” Astral ordered. Shark nodded, picking her up and leaving. Yuya made to follow them but Astral raised his hand, signaling him to stay. “I think you should go rest, after what just happened.” Yuya was confused at first, before the memory of blasting those evil sorcerers through the wall. He seemed to only just realise what he’d actually done and fell to his knees in shock. 

 

The ashes from the fire were what woke Yuya the next morning. A random gust of wind blew them into his face causing him to cough and splutter. He rubbed them and the sleep from his eyes as he sat up. He stood, stretching his arms with a groan as the tiredness left his body. It wasn’t hard for Yuya, he’d had many rough nights and early mornings when living with his master, his body was more than use to instant wake ups and unusual sleeping patterns at this point. In no time at all he was wide awake and gathering some fruits from the nearby trees for himself and Zuzu to eat for breakfast. 

 

“I think it would be best if the two of you were to leave us.” Astral said to the two thirteen year-old’s stood before him in the throne room. 

 

“Leave?” Yuya asked. Astral nodded. 

 

“The attack yesterday proved that you are not safe here. Your master, Don Thousand, knows you are here, and as long as he knows that he will keep attacking until he gets to you. Therefore, it would be safer for you to leave.”

 

Yuya looked at Zuzu next to him as he remembered yesterday. She looked the picture of health right now. Thanks to the spell their healer had used all her wounds had simply vanished as though they’d never even existed, and thanks to the new clothes, a simple yet clean white dress, she’d been given there were no signs of her street life left either. She looked… For lack of a better term, normal. 

 

“Where do you suggest we go?” Zuzu asked. 

 

“I have thought about it and the safest place for you now would probably be the kingdom of 5DS.”

 

“The kingdom of 5DS?” The two gasped. Both knew of the kingdom of course, it was famous for it’s Turbo Duels. 

 

“It would be for the best.” Kite added. 

 

“Okay then…” Yuya said, understanding their logic. “When do we leave?” 


Yuya heard a yawn and looked over to see Zuzu sitting up and stretching her arms. He held out the dish full of food he’d gather for her and she took it gratefully. 

 

“Thanks Yuya,” she said with a smile. He smiled back and the two began eating in silence. It was comfortable silence at first but after a while both felt the need to strike up conversation.

 

“So um—” 

 

What do you—” 

 

Both tried to speak at the same time, the broke off to chuckle. 

 

“You first.” Yuya offered. Zuzu smiled and happily accepted. 

 

“Well I was just wondering… What are your interests?”

 

“What?!” Yuya gasped, the question caught him off guard. 

 

“Well you must have something in the world that interests you, especially being locked up for so long, there must have been something you wanted to get out for right?” She laughed nervously. “Sorry, I wasn’t sure how to make conversation.”

 

“No, no, it’s fine,” Yuya assured, “it’s just, I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me about myself before…” It was true. In his entire life, not even Ali, Fredrick or Tate had asked him about what he wanted or enjoyed. Don Thousand didn’t care, and it never really crossed the minds of the three small animals; understandable given their situation. “I dreamed of leaving sure,” he told her, “I always dreamed of having a real family when I was kid; parents to watch over and care about me; to tuck me in at night and tell me stories; to embarrass me by kissing me goodbye on my first day of school; to yell at me when I sneak out of the house to go hang out with me friends.” He stopped and laughed sheepishly. “That sounds really silly doesn’t it.” 

 

“Not at all…” Zuzu reassured him. His answer felt so bittersweet to her. Those were all simple things that most people complain about, but that most people still have. What Yuya was really saying, was that he wanted to be normal… 

 

“Of course, I always wanted to be an entertainer.” He said suddenly. Zuzu looked up from her thoughts to stare at him. “We use to have books in the library at my master’s castle, my favourite characters were always the ones who brought smiles to people, by preforming and stuff you know?” He waved his arms around for emphasis making Zuzu giggle. 

 

“What about you?” Yuya asked. “What are your interests.”

 

“Well, I always wanted to be a musician.” She replied shyly. “When I was really down or feeling especially lonely I use to sing to myself… Sometimes I would even sing on the streets for money but while people would often stop and listen only a few ever gave me anything… Usually just a few coins. My dream… Is to be a professional singer.” 

 

She looked up at the sky wistfully, her mind fully wrapped in her dreams. Yuya watched her silently, thinking about what she’d said. 

 

“Zuzu…” He mumbled, unsure if he was being to bold with what he was about to ask. 

 

“Yes?”

 

“Can… Can I hear you sing?” He asked nervously. Zuzu’s eyes widened, taken aback by the request. 

 

“Well… Um… Sure.” She stammered. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm her beating heart. She’d sung to crowds before but it was different singing to Yuya. They had been strangers; he was her friend. To her it actually mattered what he thought. What if he thought she sounded awful?

 

“Um…” Yuya said, noticing how distressed she looked. “If you don’t want to that’s okay, I was just… That is…” 

 

Zuzu laughed again. 

 

“It’s okay.” 

 

She relaxed, Yuya was a good friend, he wouldn’t say anything bad about her. She shut her eyes and opened her mouth. Within seconds the world around her had faded as she allowed the song to take over. She could hear the entire orchestra in her mind as she sang, the music blending together around her like magic. 

 

Yuya sat frozen as he listened. She sounded like an angel, surely he was dreaming… 

 

When she finished, she paused before opening her eyes, still held up in the emotion she was feeling.

 

“Wow…” She heard Yuya whisper. She opened her eyes to see he looking at her in awe. “You have the most amazing voice ever.”

 

She blushed and smiled. “Really?”

 

“Yeah! Zuzu… I know that dream of yours is gonna come true someday.”

 

He grinned at her prompting her to grin also.

 

“I bet things will work out for both of us.” She said. 

 

“Yeah.” Yuya nodded. “Better get moving then.”

 

“Mm.”

 

They began to gather up their things.


“It’s true isn’t it?” Kite said, as soon as Yuya and Zuzu had left. “He’s the missing prince.”

 

“There’s nothing to say for certain…” Astral began, “but at this point I’m almost 90% sure he is.” 

 

“Why didn’t you tell them?”

 

“The less people that know who he is the safer he’ll be. Think about it, if they don’t know, they won’t be able to tell anyone.” 

 

Kite nodded, understanding his logic. Astral got up to leave. 

 

“Where are you going?” Kite asked. 

 

“To write Yusei a letter, I’ll have to explain things if he’s to help them. After all, we can only delay Don Thousand's attack. Sooner or later he’ll find Yuya again and when he does, Yuya’ll need to be ready.” 

 

Kite nodded and turned away as Astral left, letting the door click softly shut behind him. 


“Are we going the right way?” Yuya asked, following Zuzu. She had her map out and was constantly observing their surroundings. 

 

“Definitely, we keep on this course for about another five days and we’ll reach the kingdom of 5DS.”

 

“Awesome!” Yuya said, smiling. They kept walking, weaving through the trees and over the small rocks and mounds of the forest. Things were so nice and peaceful this morning. Birds chirped and fluttered around in the trees above and the sun cut perfect rays through the leaves of the trees, making the whole forest shine a brilliant green. 

 

Suddenly, the tranquility was broken by the clattering or wood and metal, accompanied by voices. Another group of people were clearly up ahead. The question was, were they friendly? Zuzu and Yuya headed towards the the noise and came to some bushes marking the boarder of a large glade. The sounds were very loud now, just behind the wall of sticks and leaves. Crouching down and keeping absolutely silent, so as not to draw attention, the two pulled back the branches. 

Chapter Text

“It’s over now Gong, my victory is certain.” A sharp, teasing voice said. It sounded like it belonged to a child. When Yuya and Zuzu pulled the leaves out of the way to see into the clearing they saw that it was indeed a young boy who had spoken. He had baby blue hair tied in a short, high ponytail with a fringe and bangs hanging halfway down both sides of his face around his green eyes. He was wearing a simple blue shirt and brown shorts with brown, lace-up, flat shoes. He had a blue duel disk on his arm and was in the middle of a duel with a guy twice his size. Said guy was incredibly tall and strong with black eyes and hair, which jutted out above his face, except for one strand that hung down off the end. He was wearing a white shirt and black pants with black boots. He too had a duel disc on his arm except his was grey. Zuzu wasn’t sure whether to speak to them or avoid them. She took a good look around the clearing and realised it was much larger than it first seemed. There was a lake a few metres away to the left and to the right there was a series of trailers parked. Some plain brown, some with cages and some painted in bright colours. There were a few people walking or sitting around, some even dressed up and practicing tricks. It was fairly obvious to her these people were part of a traveling circus. Yuya, however, hadn’t noticed any of this, he was far too entranced by the duel between the tall guy and the boy with the blue hair. The boy had a huge vending machine on his side of the field and one of the creepiest monster’s Yuya’d seen. Well, he’d never actually seen duel monsters in real life before, but he hoped they weren’t all like that one. It was some kind of hybrid stuffed animal with three heads; a bear, a sheep and some kind of animal he’d never seen before. It also had a bunch of mechanisms and metal tools jammed in it connecting it together like a three-headed cyborg. He had one facedown and 2500 lifepoints. His opponent had a couple of monsters on his field that looked like old samurai warriors. He had 800 lifepoints. 

 

“On the contrary Sora, it is you who will lose.” He said, drawing a card from his deck. He glanced at it and smiled. “I tribute my two monsters to summon my Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei.” A huge glow erupted on his side of the field, completely engulfing his two monsters. When it died away a new one had taken their place. This one, like the two before it, was dressed as a samurai, which made sense to Yuya now that he knew it had samurai in it’s name. It’s armour was mainly red but with a few gold accents. “I activate my card’s effect.” The tall boy continued. “This lets me summon him in defense mode, and I’m allowed to attack you using his defense points.” The small hologram showing the monster’s stats that had appeared earlier told Yuya the monster had 3500 defense points. Enough to destroy the blunette boy’s monster but not enough to wipe him out. “Now, Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei, attack!”

 

“Not so fast!” The boy cried. “I activate my trap card: Frightfur Defender. Now, not only is my Frightfur Chimera saved from your attack but it gains 800 ATK.” His monsters attack points went up to 3600. 

 

“Oh no!” His opponent cried. 

 

“Oh yes!” The boy smirked mischievously. Now that the creepy three-headed monster, apparently named Frightfur Chimera, had the most attack points it easily destroyed the other monster. “Now my Chimera’s effect activates: When it destroys a monster in battle it gets summoned to my side of the field and my monster gains 300 ATK.” The destroyed monster rematerialised on the boy’s side of the field and his monster’s attack increased from 3600 to 3900. 

 

“You win Sora, just get it over with.” His opponent sighed, though he smiled after he’d spoken. The boy, Sora, drew a card but didn’t bother to look at it. There was no need, as soon as he’d ordered his two monsters to attack, the tall boy’s lifepoints dropped to zero. They both deactivated their duel disks causing their monsters and generated cards to explode in a lot of gold pixels. 

 

“Oh my god that was amazing!” Yuya cried, running from the bushes and right inbetween the two, who were now both staring at him in shock, “I’ve never seen a real duel before but I always wanted to and now I wish I could try it that looked so cool the way you both got so into you were so sure you would win and you went all out in your attacks that was amazing. And the effects… Oh… They were so cool it was like it was all real. I bet it feels wonderful to duel.” Yuya rambled on endlessly, so caught up in his excitement he wasn’t thinking about anything else.

 

“Yuya!” Zuzu scoulded, rushing to join him and trying to snap him out of his craze. “We’re suppose to be staying out of trouble.” She hissed into his ear when she’d reached his side. This seemed to finally get his attention and pull him back to the real world. 

 

“Oh right, I’m sorry Zuzu.” He appologised sincerely. Zuzu shook her head and smiled, she couldn’t stay made at him, no matter how hard she tried. 

 

“Um… Sorry, but who are you two?” The boy called Sora asked. 

 

“Oh,” Zuzu gasped, remembering the situation they were in. “My name is Zuzu and this is my friend Yuya.”

 

Just as with everyone else the two boys thought of the prince then dismissed the idea. 

 

“We’re travelers,” Zuzu continued, “we didn’t mean to intrude.” 

 

“That’s quite alright.” The tall boy said, walking over towards them. Sora did the same so that they were all much closer and could hear each other better. 

 

“My name is Sora.” Sora introduced with a bow, “I’m an acrobat.” 

 

“Acrobat?” Said Yuya. 

 

“Yes,” The other boy said, “you see we are part of the Fusion Travelling Circus.” 

 

“Fusion Traveling Circus?” Both Yuya and Zuzu said. 

 

“Yeah, come on we’ll show you.” Sora said, laughing and grabbing both their arms. He dragged them over to the trailers on the other side of the clearing. The other boy followed them. Sora stopped when he reached a trailer that was covered in posters. Most of the circus’ other performers had noticed them by now but made no move to approach. “This is everyone.” Sora gestured to the posters. He then pointed them all out to Zuzu and Yuya, explaining who each of the people on the posters were and what they did. 

 

“This is me and the other acrobats,” the poster he pointed to had a picture of him and a hoard of other boys and girls though from the picture it looked as though they were much older than him. All of them were dressed in blue leotards, each with their own different features and accessories. “We’re called the Obelisks.” 

 

“Why?” Zuzu asked. 

 

“Long story.” He laughed. 

 

“This one is of me.” 

 

They all turned to see the other boy with the black hair pointing at a poster. They all walked over to get a better look. It showed him holding a stack of massive metal beams with just his hands, under the headline: “Gong the Strong man.” 

 

“As you can probably guess I’m the circus strong man.” He said. “You guys can just call me Gong.” He smiled at them. 

 

“It’s very nice to meet you both.” Zuzu said as she and Yuya shook hands with Gong and Sora. 

 

“Who are the rest of these people?” Yuya asked, gesturing to the other posters. 

 

“Well there are the animal acts of course.” Sora said, pointing at the posters of the animals. Some of them had a man in them as well, Sora explained he was Jean Michel Roget, the animal tamer. “Then we have the clowns Bonz, Rex, Weevil, Sid and Zygor. (Yeah I was running out of characters alright) And this is Dennis our magician.” He pointed to a poster with a boy that had orange hair framing his face in downward, wavy points.

 

Gong then pointed to a poster of a young man that had purple hair with blue highlights. He was sat on a motorcycle. “This is Shinji, he’s like the daredevil in our group, he does these cool stunts for the crowd.” 

 

“That’s about it except for Leo, Declan and Riley of course.” Sora said. Gong nodded, agreeing with him. 

 

“Who?” Asked Zuzu.

 

“Leo Akaba is the ringmaster and owner of the circus.” Sora explained. “He prefers not to have his face on the posters though, he’d rather people see the actual acts.” 

 

“Declan and Riley are his son and daughter.” Gong continued. “Riley’s a bit shy, she barely talks to anyone except Declan, she’s very attached to her brother.” 

 

“As for Declan he’s very straightforward and kind of uptight but he’s alright.” Said Sora. “He organises venues and advertising and stuff like that.”

 

“I also need to keep you focused and in-line.” A new voice said, this one was calm and had a bit of a whisper to it. 

 

“Ah!” Sora jumped, spinning round to look at the voice’s owner who was stood directly behind him. “Declan! Don’t sneak up on me like that!” 

 

The others all snickered. Sora turned to scowl at them, moving sideways a bit as he did so, allowing Yuya and Zuzu a better view of the new person, Declan. He was wearing white pants with a matching white jacket and tie. He had a plain black shirt on underneath and white shoes on. His hair was dark grey at the base with thick streaks of lighter grey over the top. He also wore steel square glasses over his dark purple eyes. 

 

“And who do we have here?” He asked, bending down a little to examine Zuzu and Yuya closer. As he did a shape shifted behind him. Yuya tilted his head to get a better view and saw that a young girl was clutching Declan’s hand and doing her best to look invisible. She was wearing brown shorts with a darker brown poncho that had a hood which she’d pulled over her head. Her hair, from what Yuya could see poking out under the hood, was a greyish blue and her eyes were a deeper blue. They seemed to dart around in panic before they locked with Yuya’s and widened in fear. She immediately averted her gaze and tried to conceal herself further behind Declan. This must be Riley, Declan’s sister, Yuya realised. 

 

“I’m Zuzu and this my friend Yuya.” Zuzu said, in answer to Declan’s question. “We’re travelers on our way to the Kingdom of 5DS, we accidentally came across your clearing here.” She gestured around. 

 

“I see.” Declan replied, pushing his glasses further up his nose. “Well no harm done.” He smiled at them. “It’s nice to meet you.” He held out his hand and both Yuya and Zuzu took turns shaking it. 

 

“Perhaps you could take down your hoods.” He suggested. He was surprised at their reaction. Yuya immediately grew tense and Zuzu stood in front of him defensively. 

 

“You’ll have to forgive us,” said Zuzu, “my friend is a bit conscious of his appearance.” 

 

“Ah don’t worry.” Sora said, grinning. “We’re in a circus, we don’t judge.” 

 

Zuzu and Yuya both hesitated, when Yuya surprised everyone, even Zuzu, by unbuckling the clasp on his cloak and letting it drop to the floor. He ruffled his wings a little and ducked his head, feeling self-conscious as always. Zuzu removed her cloak as well and stood in between Yuya and the others, placing her hand over the hilt of the dagger on her belt, a little gift from Astral in case they ran into trouble. 

 

“Wow…” Sora whispered, eyes shining. “You have wings! That’s so cool!” 

 

Zuzu and Yuya both straighted up in surprise. This was the first time anyone had reacted this positively to his appearance. 

 

“You’re… you’re not scared?” Yuya asked, still in shock. 

 

“Of course not.” Sora laughed.

 

“I admit I’ve never seen anyone quite like you before but you seem like a decent person, I don’t see why we should be afraid.” Declan added. Although Riley seemed to counter his statement by whimpering and hiding herself even more behind her brother. Zuzu relaxed and removed her hand from her dagger. 

 

“Thank you.” Yuya said, giving a small but incredibly warm smile to the three circus performers. 

 

“Come on, I want to introduce you to the others!” Sora exclaimed. He grabbed Yuya and Zuzu by their wrists and dragged them away towards the other performers. Gong quickly took off after them. Riley inched out a bit further from behind her brother now that they were gone.

 

“You alright?” Declan asked, kneeling down so they were eye-level. Generally, he liked to remain calm and keep his feelings to himself. Stoic, that was Declan. Riley was one of the few people he allowed himself to relax and be a bit more expressive around. 

 

“Yeah.” The young girl mumbled. “He was weird.” 

 

“I admit I’ve never seen anyone like him but it’s pretty obvious he’s got a good heart, try to be nice to him okay?” 

 

Riley nodded and Declan smiled at her. Then, without warning, he lifted his younger sister by her arms and swung her round his shoulders into a piggy-back. Riley squealed in delight causing Declan to chuckle a bit too. The two of them then headed off to see where Sora had dragged the others to. 

 

“Oh my, simply incredible!” An enthusiastic adult voice said. Declan found the group stood by the animal trailers. The trainer, Roget, was tugging on a distressed Yuya’s wings. “Remarkable I’ve never seen a creature like it.” 

 

“He’s not a creature he’s a person.” Gong said firmly, forcefully removing Roget’s hands from Yuya’s wings. 

 

“Thank you.” Yuya whispered. Gong smiled at him and nodded. 

 

“Hm… A person? How rude of me.” Roget said, taking Yuya’s hands in his own making the poor boy feel uncomfortable. “Please accept my apology.” 

 

“Um… Sure…” Said Yuya, unable to stop his voice from going up a few octaves in nervousness. He was getting a really bad vibe from this guy. 

 

“Gong, Sora.” Declan interrupted, making his presence known. “Perhaps you could escort Yuya and Zuzu to my father’s trailer, I’ll meet you there.” 

 

“Sure.” Sora said, smiling, clearly not feeling the tension in the air at all. As so as they were out of earshot Declan glared at Roget until there eyes locked. 

 

“I’m warning you now, if you do anything—”

 

“Declan, please, who do you take me for?” Roget said with fake innocence. Declan simply scowled at him. 

 

“You’ve caused enough trouble over the years, I still don’t know why my father keeps you around. Those two are innocent travelers simply trying to get the the Kingdom of 5DS, the last thing they deserve is whatever you’re thinking.” Roget opened his mouth but Declan cut him off before he could say anything. “Don’t try to deny it, I recognise that look on your face.” 

 

Roget hummed in amusement and turned his back to Declan. 

 

“Are you sure it’s me you want to be having this conversation with?” He asked suggestively. Declan scrunched his eyebrows in confusion but quickly shook it off and turned to leave. 

 

“No matter what you try to do you can’t stop me.” Roget said, even though Declan was gone. “That “person” is the most unique creature I’ve ever seen and one way or another, it’ll become a part of my collection.” 

 

Meanwhile…

 

“Hm… Intriguing…” Don Thousand said, watching the events unfold in his mirror. The crystal's glow diminished and he was once again faced with his own reflection. “Perhaps I’ll wait a bit before going to retrieve him, this looks like it could be quite entertaining.” He smirked and turned to the table behind him where two criminals with eccentric hair were beginning to stir. 

 

“What happened?” A deep, grating voice groaned. 

 

“You were both careless fools, is what happened!” Don Thousand thundered causing both of them to sit upright. Marik and Bakura looked down at themselves finding they looked exactly as they always did, though they vaguely remembered getting blasted through a wall. They looked around to find they were back in Don Thousand’s secret lab. “I’ve revived you because I’m going to give you a second chance at hunting them down,” Don Thousand continued, “but fail me again and I’ll have your heads mounted on my wall!”

 

The two brothers had received many threats throughout their careers as criminals but Don Thousand’s was the first to actually make them a bit fearful. Of course they didn’t show it in any way. Instead they simply nodded and, reluctantly, thanked Don Thousand for his generosity. 

 

“I’ll teleport you as far as the edge of the kingdom of ZEXAL, I haven’t enough power to get you closer, you’ll have to make your own way through the forest. Don’t fail this time, remember, bring Yuya to me and kill the others.” Don Thousand instructed. Marik and Bakura just nodded, not really in the mood for speaking right now. They simply stood stoically as they were teleported away. Determined not to fail this time.

Chapter Text

Gong knocked on the door of the largest trailer the circus had, bar the ones holding animals. This one belonged to the ring master, Leo Akaba. 

 

“What?” A voice asked harshly from inside. 

 

“It’s me sir, may we come in we have something important we need to discuss.” Gong said.

 

“Fine.” The voice said, “but it better be important.” 

 

Gong opened the door and he and Sora went in first, followed by Yuya and Zuzu. 

 

“Now just what’s so…” Leo said, looking up from his desk. He tailed off when he saw Zuzu and Yuya stood beside his performers. Not only did he have two strangers in his tent but one of them had black swirls covering his cheeks and forehead and the entirety of his neck was black. 

 

“This is Yuya and Zuzu.” Said Sora. “They were travelling to the kingdom of 5DS we were thinking we could bring them along with us.” 

 

Gong nodded along with what Sora was saying. Leo looked at the group skeptically.

 

“What’s wrong with that one?” He asked tactlessly, pointing at Yuya. The other three looked affronted and Yuya clutched his cape tighter to himself feeling ashamed. Zuzu placed a hand on his arm protectively. 

 

“I was born this way.” Yuya admitted. 

 

Leo was about to say something but he was stopped by the opening of his door and Declan entered the trailer with Riley on his shoulders. 

 

“Ah Declan, did you these two were here?” Leo asked. Declan just pushed his glasses further up his nose, his face showing no emotion as always. 

 

“Yes, Gong and Sora brought them to see me earlier, I see no harm in them coming with us to the kingdom of 5DS.” 

 

“Hmm…” Leo hummed thoughtfully, getting up and coming to stand closer to Yuya and Zuzu. He looked down at the two of them with a hand placed thoughtfully on his chin for a few moments then reached down as removed Yuya’s cape without warning. Everyone gasped at the action as Yuya’s wings flared out instinctively, almost whacking Declan’s side had he not been quick to react and dodge the appendage. Yuya clutched his arms self-consciously as Leo began observing his full form. 

 

“I think you should all come outside with me.” He said after a few minutes. He opened the door and exited the trailer the other six people following him. When they were all finally outside they saw Leo talking with a few of the workers, glancing back them every so often. Suddenly, the workers came over and grabbed both of Yuya’s arms. 

 

“Hey what are you doing?” Zuzu asked angrily as they began to drag him away. 

 

“What’s going on?” Yuya cried. Zuzu, Gong and Sora made to go after them but a bunch of the other circus members stood in their way. 

 

“Your friend’s quite unique.” Leo said, addressing Zuzu. “I think he’ll make a fine edition to Roget’s act.”

 

“But Roget deals with animals!” Gong said angrily. “Yuya’s a person you can’t treat him like that.”

 

“He’s right.” Declan said, actually having some emotion in his voice for a change. “You can’t let Roget take him.” 

 

“Sorry Declan, if they want to travel with us, they’ll have to earn their keep by performing.” Leo said, as casually as he could. He then bent down so he was eye-level with Zuzu. “I think this lovely lady with make a nice assistant for Dennis.” Two of the workers immediately came over and began dragging Zuzu in the opposite direction they took Yuya. 

 

“Hey! Stop! Let me go!” She cried, trying in vain to reach for her knife. 

 

“Stop this.” Sora demanded, unable to comprehend what was going on. 

 

“Sorry Sora but I can’t allow those two to travel with us if they don’t work for me.” He smiled cruelly. “Besides, that boy is a very interesting creature, and the girl is quite beautiful, they’ll be such fine additions.” 

 

“You monster…” Declan hissed. He’d known his father to cruel and harsh often in his life but he never expected he would be so cruel as to force people to work for him against their will.

 

“Gentlemen.” Leo said, addressing some of the other circus workers. “Escort these people back to their trailers and see they don’t bother anyone for a while.” 

 

The workers nodded and grabbed Declan, Riley, Sora and Gong and began dragging them back to their trailers. Riley was too scared to resist, Declan remained calm as he always did, Sora and Gong, well, they put up a bit more of a fight. Gong managed to break free easily, given his incredible strength. He started to fight his way in the direction Yuya had been taken but unfortunately one of the circus workers managed to get hold of one of the clubs the acrobats used and hit him over the head with it, effectively knocking him out.

 

“Gong!” Sora cried, worried for his friend as they were both dragged away to be locked in their trailers. Leo looked around once they were all gone seeing the way the other members of the circus were all looking at the spot were the incident had taken place. Some looked shocked, some looked entertained, some looked afraid and some just looked resigned. After all, it was no secret among the performers that Leo Akaba was a harsh and sometimes cruel man, but he’d never done something like this before. It was essentially kidnapping. However, they’d never encountered a person as unique as Yuya before either. It came as little surprise to some that Leo couldn’t resist making him an attraction. Most felt sorry for Yuya, though they were far too scared of Leo and his most loyal and most cruel workers to do anything. They turned away from the scene in fright as he sent them a glare before walking back to his trailer, he needed to remake the plans for his next show…

 

“Stop, let me go, please,” Yuya begged as he was dragged and throw into a cage. It was elevated on wheels with a wooden roof and bars on all sides for people to surround and gawk at the poor creature inside. It was clearly made for an animal, there was no furniture to speak of, just straw covering the floor and chains attached to the floor. 

 

“See.” A cold and horribly familiar voice said from behind Yuya. He turned to see Roget standing in the door of the cage. “I knew you’d become part of my collection.” 

 

Yuya was terrified. He didn’t even think, he was so scared he panicked and tried to run around Roget through the open door.

 

“Naughty little pet.” Roget mocked, producing a whip from his robe and snapping it at Yuya. It struck across his torso sending him back against the floor. Roget laughed and slammed the cage door shut. He placed the key in the lock and turned, trapping Yuya inside the cage with him. Yuya shied away from Roget as he came towards him, scared of what he was going to do. “You are going to be the main attraction in my next show…” Roget said with a sick smile on his face. “But you can’t possibly go on stage like that,” he gestured at Yuya, “we have a lot of preparation to do…” His grin got wider and he pulled on his whip for emphasis. Yuya actually began shaking he was so afraid. He backed up until he hit the corner of the cage and there was no where else he could go. Roget laughed as he advanced on his helpless prey.

 

“Put me down! I swear I will—” Zuzu was cut off as she was thrown into a trailer. She picked herself up as quickly as she could and flung herself at the door but it slammed shut in her face. She heard the horrible sound of metal sqeaking against itself as the door was bolted closed. She hammered on the door in anger but after a minute she realised it was pointless and slumped against it in defeat. She sighed heavily, feeling a huge weight on her chest as she thought of the horrible situation she and Yuya were in. Suddenly, a hand descended on her back causing her to jump in surprise and whip round to face the hand’s owner. It was a boy about her age with orange pointy hair, black pants, blue shirt and an orange waistcoat. She recognised him from the posters they’d seen earlier, he was Dennis, the magician. 

 

“Hello there.” He said politely, he pulled a deck of cards out of midair and did a series of complicated shuffles with them as he talked. “I guess you’re the new assistant Mr Akaba mentioned, what’s your name beautiful?” He folded all his cards into his left hand and took Zuzu’s with his right hand, planting a kiss on the back of it. She grimaced and pulled her hand from his grip. 

 

“Zuzu, and I am not your assistant I’m a prisoner, I have to escape.” She grasped his shoulders suddenly. “Can you help me get out of here and find my friend?” 

 

“Woah there…” Said Dennis, shaking his shoulders free, “I’m just a humble magician but I work for Mr Akaba and if he says you are to be my assistant then that’s that, whether it’s your choice or not is no concern of mine.”

 

Zuzu gasped indignantly. Didn’t he care at all that she was being held against her will? Well if he really thought she was going to just go along with this and be his assistant he had another thing coming.

 

“Okay now, let me teach you the routine.” He stated, going over to a trunk and pulling out various props such as boxes, hoops, paper, pens, boards, pins, dice, knives etcetera. He started to set up while Zuzu continued to try and break the door down but try as she might it would not budge.

 

“Come now, there’s no escape, you may as well save your strength, take a seat, enjoy the show.” Dennis said, grabbing a cane and doing some little spins. Zuzu sighed despairingly. She was by no means ready to give up trying to escape, but maybe a break to catch her breath wouldn’t hurt. She flopped down in a nearby chair and looked towards Dennis only half watching what he was doing. She was mostly thinking, trying to come up with some kind of plan…

 

Yuya was layed out across the floor on his front, his face buried in his arms and his shoulders shaking as he sobbed in pain. There was hardly any part of his skin showing that wasn’t blemished. Roget’s handiness with a whip and knives was not to be underestimated. 

 

“I wish I didn’t have to punish you, I do so hate displaying damaged merchandise if you understand what I mean. However, what I hate even more is pets that don’t know how to do what they’re told.” Roget cooed softly, running his fingers through the feather’s of Yuya’s wings. Roget was mocking Yuya, treating him like an animal. It made Yuya feel humiliated. He wished to wake up from this nightmare. The thought of what was to come was even scarier than his awful experience in the kingdom of GX. That seemed like a birthday party compared to this. 

 

“Roget.” A voice said. Yuya peaked up past arms to see Leo Akaba looking through the bars of his cage. 

 

“Yes sir?” Roget replied. 

 

“How is the training coming? I expect a new and exciting act prepared to show off our newest edition at the next performance.”

 

“I believe I’ve made it clear to this thing what will happen if it doesn’t cooperate, I’ll get to work on a routine first thing tomorrow.”

 

“See that you do. Remember it should only be another two days before we reach the kingdom of 5DS. I am told the prince himself and his closest associates will be attending the performance, so there is no room for error.” 

 

“Of course sir.” Roget bowed humbly and Leo nodded to him, formal and stoic as always. He left without another word and Roget returned to grooming Yuya’s wings. Yuya shived feeling violated for some reason but he was so drained and fearful he didn’t make any move to stop Roget. 

 

Neither of them saw the cold purple eyes watching their every move as they had been for the past few hours. Declan wasn’t sure how he was going to do it, but this was wrong and he was going to stop it. No doubt he could enlist Gong and Sora’s help on this. He just hoped they could come with a plan before it was too late. 

Chapter Text

Two more days, that was how long it would take for the circus to reach the Kingdom of 5DS. Declan was determined to free his new friends and get them away by then. He was currently holding a secret meeting in his trailer. His good friend moonshadow, one of the acrobats, was keeping an eye on his father and Roget and anyone else who might disrupt their plans. He’d gathered a group together including Sora, Gong, Riley and Shinji. Shinji hadn’t actually spoken with Yuya or Zuzu but he’d seen the display in the yard and was appalled that their ringmaster had decided to kidnap two kids and force them to perform.

“Okay.” Declan said, getting everyone’s attention. “We need to figure out how we’re going to free Yuya from Roget’s cages and Zuzu from Dennis’ trailer and get them away before anyone notices.”

“Well first things first we have to make sure your father, Roget and all their lackeys are distracted.” Shinji said logically.

“We should do it during the show in the kingdom of 5DS, they’ll be dozens of people around and everyone will be rushing to get everything set up.” Sora chimed in.

“But by then it may be too late.” Riley cried.

“Maybe so,” said Gong, “but we probably won’t get a better opportunity.”

Declan sighed and adjusted his glasses. “As much as I hate to say it they’re right. Okay, it’s settled, we put things into motion when we get to the kingdom of 5DS.”

“Next we need to figure out how we’re going to get our hands on the keys to the trailer and the cage.” Gong said.

“Moonshadow and myself can probably take care of that.” Said Declan, “Father will be so busy he won’t notice they’ve gone.”

“Dennis will be performing first, then me, so I can go rescue Zuzu afterwards.” Sora chimed in.

“Good, me, Riley and Moonshadow will rescue Yuya at the same time. The rest of you should focus on your acts so my father doesn’t know anything is amiss and if you get the chance keep Roget distracted.”

They all nodded.

“We can rendezvous at the entrance stand, it’ll be empty by then, and make our next move from there.” Sora concluded.

“Sounds like a plan.” Said Gong.

“I just hope nothing goes wrong…” Riley muttered, cling to her brother. Everyone in the room shared her thoughts, there would be consequences for all of them, including Yuya and Zuzu, if things didn’t work out.

Yuya and Zuzu were unaware of these proceedings. They were both just trying to find some hope in their bleak situations.

Dennis had continued to demonstrate his tricks to Zuzu and she’d reluctantly listened, deciding it was in her best interest to go along with things for the time being. She was actually quite impressed, he was an incredibly talented magician. He taught her a few of his simpler tricks and explained how she’d help with the more complicated ones.

“I’m so glad you’re coming around.” He told her happily as he shuffled his cards.

“Well, I don’t have much of a choice do I?” Zuzu grumbled.

“Mr Akaba can be harsh at times but he does what’s best for all of us. I’m sure in time you’ll come to appreciate it.” Dennis assured her.

“I can assure you I won’t.”

Zuzu angrily marched to the other side of the room where the window was. She looked out of it, hating how she was so close to the outside world and yet was still trapped in this small wooden trailer.

“Come now, frowning like that’s not going to impress a crowd. You need to work on your personality as an entertainer.” Dennis told her.

“I’m not an entertainer!” Zuzu yelled. “I’m a street urchin who got tangled up in some plot involving an evil sorcerer, a bunch of hybrid children and the royalty of most kingdoms.” She continued to rant her frustrations. “My life was already turning into a circus, now I’m trapped in one.” She began to get more and more upset. “My best friend’s probably being tortured by that psychopath and I can’t even help him.” She collapsed to the floor, tears streaming down her face. “I’m sorry Yuya.” Her words became a mess as she was overcome by harsh choking sobs.

Dennis stood frozen, completely at a loss for what to do. He’d never been around someone while they were crying before, unless you count little kids who were sad because they’d dropped their ice-cream. He didn’t really know anything about comforting people. He went over to her and sat down next to her, placing a hand on her shoulder like he’d seen others do for their friends when they were upset.

“Um… Hey… Don’t cry.” He stuttered feeling very uncomfortable.

“I just wanted to help Yuya…” Zuzu whispered, still crying but much more softly now.

“Uh… Well… Would it make you feel better if I went and saw how he was doing?” Dennis suggested.

“Really?” She asked hopefully. “You’d do that?”

“Sure, if it’d put a beautiful smile on you’re face.” Dennis said, attempting to be charming but it came out rather awkward.

“Thank you.” Zuzu muttered tiredly, she suddenly felt very worn out, not surprising considering all she’d been through in the past twenty-four hours. Dennis helped her into his small room at the back of the trailer and let her lay down on the bed.

“You may sleep here for a bit, I will go see about your friend.”

Zuzu nodded tiredly and shut her eyes quickly succumbing to her exhaustion.

Meanwhile, Yuya was curled up in the corner of his cage trying to imagine himself being somewhere else. His room in prince Astral’s castle, the cave he’d shared with his friends even his tower prison; but not matter how hard he tried he always came back here, to the corner of a small cage. He’d been stripped of all his clothes except his pants, His hair was matted, his cheeks were stained with tears and his skin was marred with cuts and scars. Some old ones from his master and some fresh ones from Roget. He’d been sat in this exact same position for hours now, too hurt and exhausted to move. He only just managed to muster enough strength to turn his head when he heard the telltale jingling of keys as someone entered his confine. He immediately lowered his gaze and began trembling as he recognised the cruel man who was responsible for his current state.

“My beautiful creature, are you feeling any better?” He asked with fake concern. Yuya didn’t say anything, he just continued to shake. Roget came over and placed a tray at Yuya’s feet. When he looked he saw it was split into two sections, one was filled with water and the other with some kind of unidentifiable meat. “Eat.” Roget ordered. “You will need to regain your strength for the show in two days.”

Yuya didn’t move.

“Did you hear me? I said eat!”

Roget grabbed Yuya’s hair and pulled him forward causing him to yelp in pain. He pushed Yuya down next to the food. Yuya took in several shaky breaths and tried desperately to sit up, not wanting to be punished again. Eventually he was able to drag himself to his knees and clasp the food tray in his hands. He shoved whatever the brown mess was into his mouth, fighting the urge to spit it out because it tasted so bad.

“Good, you see, just do as you’re told and everything will work out fine.” Roget said as he watched Yuya slowly swallow small mouthfuls of disgusting food. Roget stood patiently waiting for Yuya to finish. It wasn’t a very big amount of food but Yuya was in so much pain it took him over half an hour to finish the whole thing. He then pressed the edge of the plastic tray to his lips and tipped his head back allowing the cool water to run down his throat. As soon as it was gone the tray was ripped from his fingers, not that they were clutching it all that strongly. “Excellent.” Roget praised, stroking Yuya’s head as though he were a dog. “Now, let’s talk about your routine. We’ll bring you on in this cage, then let you out. You’ll be on a leash of course, can’t risk you trying to escape.” Yuya felt his heart fall as he realised there was no way out of this situation. He was going to be paraded in front of complete strangers by this cruel man. “If you could act a bit more feral and jump at the audience a bit that would be wonderful. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this…”

“Please…” Yuya rasped, his voice warn down from all the screaming and crying he’d done recently. “I don’t want this… Don’t make me do this please, please…” Tears slipped from his eyes as he begged. Roget raised his foot and brought it down onto Yuya’s neck grinding him into the harsh metal floor.

“Do you really think it matter what you want creature?” Roget asked, coldly. “You’re just a freak that needs to learn it’s place.”

“I know.” Yuya rasped. “I know I’m a freak, but still, even freaks don’t deserve—” He was cut off as Roget increased the pressure on his neck.

“Yes, you do. This is what unique and beautiful creatures like yourself were created for, to be displayed for the world to marvel at. I have the most incredible collection of rare animals ever amassed and with you as an edition it will never be surpassed.”

“Roget.” The voice of Leo Akaba cut in. Roget turned to see the ringmaster standing at the door to the cage. “We’re about to move off, you can play with your new pet once we’ve arrived.”

Roget looked disappointed but didn’t argue. For his part Yuya was greatly relieved. He took in huge gulps of air as Roget’s foot lifted from his neck. He watched as the cruel animal tamer walked to the door, closing it behind him and locking it slowly to taunt Yuya. Then suddenly he was alone, the cold night air whipping angrily through the bars of his cage. Yuya was too beaten down and exhausted to move so he curled up on the floor where he lay and proceeded to silently cry himself to sleep.

Chapter Text

Dennis wasn’t really sure what he was doing. His new assistant had been very depressed worrying about her friend which wouldn’t do at all. He could hardly entertain people with an assistant that was bawling her eyes out. Still, sneaking all the way to the other side of the circus to look in on some boy Roget had in a cage, was it really worth it? If he was caught he could get in some serious trouble, Mr Akaba had specifically instructed everyone they were to have no contact with the kid. He wasn’t sure what he thought about all of this. He’d just always gone along with whatever Mr Akaba wanted without question. After, the man had given him everything. Before, Dennis had been an orphan among dozens at an orphanage in the Kingdom of the Pendulum. Being smaller and weaker than most of the other boys he’d easily been written off as a runt and was frequently left out of activities and meals, even picked on and beaten up at times. Once, after a particularly nasty beating from some of the older boys he’d run off into town trying to ignore the tears trailing behind him. He eventually collapsed outside a small bookstore. He stayed on his hands and knees panting and sobbing heavily. After a good five minutes he heard the sound of a door opening and a bell jingling, he looked up to see a man in a dark coat and a top hat with points of black hair sticking out and a faint neatly cut beard and moustache. 

 

“Oh my?” He said, noticing the young orange-haired boy sitting on all-fours with dried tears stains on his cheeks and a bright red tint around his eyes. Dennis suddenly became very conscious of his state and curled in on himself, hoping the man would just ignore him and move on. “Hey.” He heard the man say, sounding like he was stood in front of him now. Dennis slowly looked up, curious. Suddenly the man clapped his hands and with a puff of smoke a swarm of doves seemed to appear out of thin air and fly into the sky. Dennis unfurled completely, staring after the birds in shock and awe. The man took the opportunity to reach out towards Dennis’ ear pulling a deck of cards from behind it surprising him yet again. The man fanned the cards and began tossing them around and shuffling them impressively. 

 

“Wow, I wish I could do magic.” Dennis said, standing up. “I was born without it…” 

 

“What if I told you I did all of that without magic.” The man said, smiling. 

 

“What?” Dennis gasped, “but that shouldn’t be possible.”

 

“I know it’s easy for most people to just use their magic to make their lives easier, even in entertainment. I think there’s something exciting about doing it yourself, fooling people into thinking you’re using real magic but it’s just a trick.” 

 

Dennis stared at the man in wonder, hanging on his every word. “C-could,” he stuttered, nervous, “could you teach me to do that?” 

 

The man laughed happily. “Sure, I’d love to kid.”

 

Dennis grinned excitedly, “thank you, thank you.” He repeated, bowing in gratitude. 

 

“What’s your name kid?” The man asked. 

 

“Dennis Macfield.” Dennis said. 

 

“Nice to meet you Dennis, my name’s Yusho Sakaki.” The man said, removing his top hat. 

 

Dennis gasped. Yusho Sakaki, as in the king of the Kingdom of the Pendulum?! Now, looking at him without his hat, Dennis realised he really was the king. Dennis threw himself to the ground, fear coursing through him as he realised he’d just spent the last five minutes talking to the king without even a hint of the proper respect. He felt a hand suddenly descend on his shoulder and looked up to see the king kneeling in front of him with a reassuring smile on his face. 

 

“No need for formality young man, to you I am not the king.”

 

“You aren’t?”

 

“No.” Yusho smirked. “I’m your teacher.” 

 

True to his word, Yusho became his teacher. Every Friday they would meet outside that small bookstore and the king would teach him magic tricks. Then, when Dennis was twelve the circus came to town. Turned out they didn’t have a magician so Dennis auditioned for Mr Akaba who was impressed with his skill for someone who didn’t possess real magic, he thought it could be a great attraction, someone without real magic who could preform amazing tricks and illusions and thus decided to hire him. Two years had passed since then and he and Mr Akaba had maintained a good relationship, Dennis did whatever said and Mr Akaba provided him with food, a bed, clothes and all the other necessities. Right now he was trying to do what Mr Akaba said and train his new assistant but it seemed the only way to get her to cooperate was to disregard another order from Mr Akaba: don’t go near the kid with the wings. It was quite the conundrum but ultimately he thought this would be fine, Mr Akaba was only worried about people helping the kid escape and he had no intention of doing that, sure he felt bad, but he wasn’t about to jeopardise the good life he had here for some stranger. When he made it to the animal cages he quickly looked around to make sure there was nobody about before searching for this strange demon. He eventually turned a corner to see Roget locking the door to one of the cages, thankfully with his back turned to Dennis. The young magician quickly dropped to the ground and crawled under the tiger cage. His eyes followed Roget’s boots as the man walked past him and in the direction of the makeshift food trailer the circus had. It was only then that Dennis realised how late it was getting, it had just gone seven and he himself was starting to feel hungry. As he crawled back out and stood up again he made a silent promise to just quickly look in on this friend of Zuzu’s then hurry back and get some dinner for her and himself. As he approached the cage he saw two black wings sticking up from a crumpled lump in the corner he assumed was the boy in question. The setting sun illuminated the appendages making them look almost purple in colour. He cleared his throat to get the boy’s attention and was surprised when he flinched violently, his wings flapping about in obvious distress. The boy began shivering uncontrollable and covered his head with his hands. 

 

“Hey.” Dennis hissed at him causing him to look up, clearing surprised by the unfamiliar voice. The boy looked at Dennis in confusion and fear. “Zuzu sent me.” Dennis decided to say, hoping this might calm him down, if he made too much of a fuss and drew attention he’d be in big trouble. 

 

“Zuzu?” The poor boy whispered. “You— She sent you?” He sounded like he didn’t really believe it. “Is this a trick?”

 

“No, I swear, look she’s worried about you and she can’t do anything so I told her I’d come see you.”

 

“I see,” he said, his wings relaxing. “Is— Is she okay?” 

 

“Um… Yeah, well, she’s a bit sad, and worried about you, but she’s not hurt or anything.”  

 

“Thank goodness…” The boy breathed, smiling weakly. 

 

Dennis was having mixed feelings about what he was seeing, on the one hand he wished to just leave, get some food and tell Zuzu her friend was fine, on the other hand, looking at this poor beaten boy kept in these awful conditions against his will, and yet, seemed only to be worried about his friend, he felt bad. He felt this was wrong, what had been done to him. 

 

“What’s your name?” 

 

Dennis looked up, startled from his thoughts, the boy was looking at him expectantly. 

 

“Dennis, Dennis Macfield. And you?” Dennis asked, he was sure Zuzu had mentioned it but he hadn’t really been paying attention. 

 

“Yuya. I remember now… from the posters… you’re the magician right?” The boy, Yuya, said. 

 

“Yeah,” Dennis laughed. “I don’t even have magic, I just perform tricks, I use machines and slight of hand.” 

 

“Amazing.” Yuya said, smiling honestly. “To perform for people, to make them smile, I bet that’s wonderful.” 

 

Dennis blushed, placing a hand behind his head shyly. “Well, I guess, yeah. I’ve always loved magic, I was heartbroken when I learned I didn’t have any but then I met someone who knew how to do magic without any power and well, I couldn’t have been happier.” 

 

“That’s such a great story.” Yuya said, he paused, as though unsure whether or not he should continue. “You know, I felt heartbroken when I was first able to comprehend I was a monster nobody would ever love but then I met my friends Ali and Fredrick and Tate, and after that I met Zuzu and through them I’ve met other people, people who don’t seem to mind what I look like.”

 

“I— I see,” Dennis said, not really sure what to say. 

 

“I— I know it’s wrong of me to ask, but can you do something for me?”

 

“What?”

 

“Keep Zuzu safe.” 

 

Dennis was taken aback, he wasn’t sure what he was going to ask, to help him escape maybe? Bring him food? Certainly not what he had said. 

 

“I know she’ll want to help me, even though she shouldn’t, please don’t let her do anything that would get her in trouble.” 

 

Dennis just stared at Yuya, still shocked. He was badly beaten, forced to eat shitty food from a dog bowl, chained like an animal and yet all he seemed to be worried about was his friend. There was no way anyone in the world could be that selfless. 

 

“Also…” Yuya began, regaining Dennis’ attention, “thank you. I know you must be taking a risk by being here, talking to me, it means a lot.” 

 

Dennis blushed, he felt Yuya was giving him more credit than he deserved, thanking him when his motives for coming here were actually pretty selfish. He wanted to say something to Yuya but he wasn’t sure what. Thank you? I’m sorry? This wasn’t how he was expecting this conversation to go. He’d expected maybe some begging or cowering from the poor caged hybrid not gratitude and empathy. As he mulled this over the sound of people chattering and heading in their direction drew his attention. Yuya also looked up, startled and afraid. 

 

“You have to go before someone sees you.” He said, panicked, eyes pleading with Dennis to get away quickly. Dennis was more reluctant to leave than he thought he’d be but he nodded and ran off in the opposite direction of the voices. Yuya was left alone, to the mercy of whoever was coming. A few minutes later small group, three men and two women, probably early twenties with obviously died silver and blue hair rounded the corner of the various animal trailers. They had grey tracksuits on and, through process of elimination from all the posters Gong and Sora had shown him, he concluded they must be the acrobats, the obelisks he thought they were called. 

 

“See, I told you.” One of them said, pointing straight at Yuya as they all came to stand in front of his cage. 

 

“Wow, a person with wings, you weren’t kidding.” One of the girls said, looking at Yuya in awe. Yuya shied away to the back of the cage, not comfortable being ogled at. 

 

“Look at his skin, it’s like coal, how disgusting.” The other girl said, scrunching up her face. The rest of the group snickered at her statement and Yuya’s wings drooped slightly. 

 

“Hey!” One of the guys yelled, slamming on the bars and making Yuya jump. “Don’t just sit there, do something.”

 

“Yeah,” another laughed, “perform for us. Dance. Sing. Be entertaining.” 

 

They all laughed cruelly. Yuya cocooned himself in his wings, shoving his hands over his ears in a desperate attempt to block them out. He tried to imagine he was back with his friends in Astral’s palace. He shut his eyes and pictured one of the palace’s cosy living rooms with everyone sat there together, Zuzu, Ali, Tate, Fredrick, Yuma, Astral, Kite, Shark and the rest of the wonderful staff members of the palace who had all been so kind, so accepting. Why were most of the people in this circus so different? It reminded him of the way the people in the Kingdom of GX had been. He was so confused, was he a monster or not? Why were some people accepting and others disgusted? He suddenly felt a sharp prod to his wing causing him to gasp in pain. He unfurled himself to see the group of acrobats had circled the cage and were now holding large sticks. Each one grinned at him with an evil glint in their eyes, thoroughly enjoying his misery. He felt another sharp prob on his back causing him to jump forward. He suddenly found himself being poked and jabbed from all directions, his assailants laughing like it just a harmless fun activity. Yuya flattened himself against the floor in the middle of the cage, covering his head and hoping any second to wake up from this awful nightmare… 

 

As he walked back to his trailer, not even bothering to get food for he had lost his appetite, Dennis continued to ponder his opinion of Yuya. He felt the two of them were similar in many ways, both outcasts, both bullied, though he got the sneaking suspicion Yuya had suffered far more than him. Also, while this circus had been his haven, his way out of the horrible life he use to live, made only bearable by Yusho’s lessons, for Yuya it was hell. He wasn’t sure if it was fate, or destiny or just a subconscious desire but he quickly found himself standing outside the door of a beautifully decorated purple and blue trailer. He knocked on the door and waited patiently. A minute or so passed and the door opened to reveal the ever blank face of Declan Akaba. 

 

“Dennis?” He said. 

 

“Hey, I uh… I suspect you’re planning some way of rescuing Yuya and Zuzu.” Dennis said, trying not to show how nervous and uncomfortable he was. This went against his nature, to keep his head down, do what he was asked and not cause trouble, but it felt right. 

 

“What if am?” Declan asked cautiously, he too knew what kind of person Dennis was but he had a suspicion as to why he was here. Dennis took a deep breath then looked up with determination shining in his eyes. 

 

“I want in.” 

Chapter Text

The circus made it across the border with little to no problems. The guards were slightly startled when randomly checking the trailers to find a black-skinned boy with black wings protruding from his back but fortunately for Leo, Roget had given Yuya some medicine earlier that caused the inside of his throat to seal up. Unable to communicate, Yuya seemed like a simple-minded creature, exactly what the circus was passing him off as. Leo also saw to it that his son and anyone else likely to make trouble was out of the way and they were soon over the border and into the kingdom. As they wheeled through the streets, Yuya gazed up in amazement, his current predicament temporarily forgotten as he was overwhelmed by the size and beauty of the Kingdom of 5DS. Like the Kingdom of Zexal it was massive and very modern. The entire city was connected by massive four-lane tracks and consisted of huge white towers, the tallest and widest of which was slap on the edge of the kingdom. Yuya stared at it in awe knowing it had to be the palace. He and Zuzu were supposed to meet with Prince Yusei there as Astral had arranged but it looked like that wasn’t going to happen. Zuzu’s bag, wherever it was, probably still had the crisp, pristine white envelope tucked inside it, containing the letter that the prince of this kingdom would now never get the chance to read. Yuya continued to stare longingly at the palace as the trailer wheeled over the bumps and potholes of the lower streets jolting him from side to side. Eventually they came to a wide green park not a hundred metres from the beautiful palace. The trailers were all wheeled over to the edge of the park and dozens of workers and performers began dragging equipment out of the trailers and into the centre to sent up the circus tent. Yuya watched in awe, once again temporarily forgetting his predicament, as a huge pole was erected in the centre of the field, around which was placed a metal ring that the tent was attached too. At least fifty people dragged the great circular canvas outwards until it covered pretty much the entire park. They then all set about hoisting it by rope to the top of the flag pole as well as nailing it to the ground and setting up the other supports. Yuya was drawn away from all the action by the squeak of his cage being opened. He looked to see Roget enter and immediately shuffled to the other end of the cage, as far from the man as possible. 

 

“Aw… Now don’t look so frightened my pet.” Roget cooed making Yuya feel sick to his stomach. “I hope you’re excited for the show tonight.” 

 

Yuya flinched, memories of his experience in the Kingdom of GX flashing through his mind. He knew what would happen to him here would be similar, perhaps worse. He curled up, clutching his legs lightly to his chest. 

 

“I don’t want to do this… Please don’t make me go out there.” He begged, though at this point he knew from experience it wouldn’t work. Roget just laughed at him. He approached Yuya who leant away from him in fear. Yuya heard a clinking sound then cried out as he was forcibly dragged out of the cage by the chain around his neck. He scrabbled along the floor in a pathetic attempt to keep up as Roget hurried eagerly to his own private trailer. Once there, he grabbed Yuya by the shoulder and shoved him inside. Yuya lay still on the floor, too tired and hurt and afraid to move as Roget closed and locked the door. Suddenly, Yuya felt a pair of hands stroke his back and hips, he gasped and tried to pull away. Roget kept a tight grip on his chain as he brought his hands up to rub Yuya’s nipples. “No…” Yuya whispered, voice shaking in terror. “Please… Don’t…” 

 

“Mmm…” Roget hummed, his hands mercilessly roaming the poor boy’s body. “You know ever since I laid eyes on you, I’ve been so captivated by your beauty. Such glorious wings,” he ran his hands softly through the feathers of Yuya’s wings. “Such a cute face,” he gently cupped Yuya’s cheek making the distraught hybrid even more uncomfortable. Tears were streaming down Yuya’s face and his entire body was shaking like a leaf. “I thought I could just look at you, but that’s not enough anymore, I just had to touch you.” His hand suddenly slipped into Yuya’s pants and the poor boy felt a rush of panic. A bright light shone throughout the entire trailer and Roget found himself slammed against the wall. He groaned, shaking his dazed head. He looked up to see Yuya cowering weakly on the floor. He stared at the boy for a moment, amazed that such a fragile creature could possess such powerful magic. “You’ll pay for that.” He seethed angrily, causing Yuya to panic even more. 

 

“No, please.” He sobbed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, it was an accident, I didn’t— No—” He became hysterical. Roget went over to a draw and pulled out a strange looking pendent with various symbols carved in it. Roget snapped it to a hook on Yuya’s collar. 

 

“There,” Roget said, pressing his hands to Yuya’s body again. “That’ll keep your magic suppressed.” 

 

“Stop…” Yuya cried, but he could feel his power being pushed down, chained within him, unable to save him. He was completely at the mercy of this cruel man. 

 

“You need to be punished for hurting me…” Roget said, his tone chillingly kind. He manifested his own magic into a powerful flame in his hand, then pressed it against Yuya’s body. Yuya screamed as his flesh burned. Roget continued to softly stroke Yuya, focussing on the more sensitive parts of his body, his hands covered with flames the entire time, making Yuya’s skin blacken and scar. Yuya continued to scream and sob in agony as he was molested. Roget shoved his hands into Yuya’s pants again and this time his magic couldn’t save him. Roget grabbed Yuya’s dick with his burning hands. He spent a few agonising seconds savouring the poor boy’s torment before letting the flames die away. Yuya gasped in relief as the burning stopped but that relief was short lived as Roget began simply massaging his dick. Yuya felt tears well in his eyes again and his cheeks began to burn with humiliation as grew hard. He didn’t want to give this cruel man the satisfaction but his body was just reacting as any body naturally would. “That’s it… See… You’re enjoying this…” Roget cooed. Yuya just cried harder. This went on for about three minutes and Yuya felt himself close to coming. “Oh no…” Roget whispered, mouth disgustingly close to Yuya’s ear. Yuya felt the tell-tale heat of Roget’s magic again but it wasn’t hot enough to burn this time. Yuya suddenly found himself desperate but unable to release and quickly realised Roget had used his magic to prevent him from coming, despite how much he needed to. “There, bad little animals don’t get to come.” Yuya whimpered, feeling his shame increase tenfold. Roget’s cock pressed against his trouser cover ass and he whimpered louder. The cruel animal tamer immediately pulled down his trousers and shoved his length into Yuya’s unprepared ass. Yuya howled, it felt like his insides were being ripped in half. Roget began cruel thrusting into the young hybrid pressing him harshly against the floor and destroying his rectum. A disgusting mix of blood and come began sliding down Yuya’s leg and the poor hybrid wondered if he could possibly be made to feel more uncomfortable and violated. Yuya clenched his eyes shut and prayed it would soo be over. 

 

Zuzu laid on her bed in Dennis’ trailer, unfocused eyes staring straight at the wall opposite. She was in a world of her own, praying the escape plan she’d heard about from Dennis would work. She was upset to hear they’d have to wait until after the show, she was sure Yuya would be tormented out there. 

 

“Hey,” 

 

She looked up to see Dennis arranging his props, making sure everything was ready for tonight. 

 

“Don’t worry,” he said, giving her a reassuring smile. “Declan’s plans never fail, you and Yuya will be out of this place by tonight.” 

 

“Thanks,” she replied, “why did you decide to help us?”

 

Dennis’ face suddenly became serious. “I… I’ve never gone against Mr Akaba because without him I’d have nothing, but Yuya… he’s suffered so much. And to think I thought my life was rough. And somehow he’s such a nice person…” 

 

“Yeah, Yuya was the first friend I ever had.” 

 

Zuzu smiled and went to help him. She’d been practicing over the last few days and was actually starting to get the hang of being a magician’s assistant, it wasn’t all that hard really, Dennis was very good at explaining the tricks. She felt confident she could pull off the performance. They were set to go first, then, once they were done, the Obelisks would be performing, meanwhile they would join Declan and Moonshadow in rescuing Yuya. 

 

“How long do we have?” She asked. 

 

“The show starts at seven tonight, it’s nine in the morning now so that gives us ten hours,” Dennis replied, “We should probably revise the act and the plan a few more times.”

 

“I just wish this could all be over…” Zuzu sighed. She gave her cheeks a good smack to snap herself out of it and began practising the routine for tonight, hoping it would distract her from her worry. 

 

Roget had been going for three hours when he finally pulled out of Yuya. The poor boy was covered in bruises and blood. He was shivering violently. Roget cleaned himself up and properly dressed. Once he was done he knelt down beside his victim and cradled his head on his knees, softly stroking his oily, matted hair. His light touch sent needles piecing over Yuya’s skin and the kind words he whispered in his ears made bile rise in his throat. 

 

“My most beautiful pet, a part of me doesn’t even want to show you off to others. If only you could be mine for eternity, so that only I may gaze upon your beautiful body.”

 

Yuya tried to mumble a response but his throat was raw from screaming. 

 

“What was that my darling?” Roget asked, leaning closer to hear him. 

 

“I’m not… I’m not b-b-beautiful…” Yuya rasped. “And… I-I’m not your p-p-pet.” 

 

Yuya expected Roget to hurt him again but he just continued to card his fingers through the poor hybrid’s red and green locks. 

 

“It’s okay, someday soon, you’ll understand, you’ll realise the truth beautiful.” Roget said. 

 

Yuya felt a small prick on his arm and suddenly a numbness was spreading throughout his entire body. 

 

“Sleep now love, the potion should kick in fully just in time for the show.”

 

Even as he was drifting into unconsciousness, Yuya could feel the smirk in Roget’s voice. 

 

“Ladies and Gentle, welcome to a world of magic and mystery, welcome to the Fusion Travelling Circus!” 

 

Leo Akaba may have been a cruel man who only cared about turning a profit, but no one could deny his skills at entertaining a crowd. As he spread his arms to the audience and grinned from ear to ear, the people dissolved into a roar of cheers. Excitement ran thick as the crowd anticipated the first act. 

 

“Now allow me to introduce our first performers for the night, the magician able to perform amazing feats despite not being born with magic, Dennis Macfield! And his beautiful assistant, Zuzu!” 

 

There were some surprised mutterings throughout the crowd at the thought of seeing a magician without magic and a round of applause as Dennis and Zuzu took to the centre of the ring. 

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, for our first trick, be amazed as my lovely assistant here disappears before your very eyes.” Dennis said as he gestured to the large rectangular box behind him, he took Zuzu’s hand and led her inside, closing and padlocking the door. He then waved his arms around in a dramatic gesture and with a clap of his hands the four sides of the rectangle fell away to reveal nothing, not even a trap door, the audience stared in amazement.

 

“Now,” Dennis said, drawing their attention. “I bet you’re all wondering what happened, well fear not for she is perfectly fine, isn’t that right Zuzu?” He suddenly looked up and a spotlight snapped on revealing Zuzu stood atop a platform right at the top of the circus tent, the crowd gasped and began applauding in amazement. Zuzu grinned and waved happily. She’d always imagined being in front of a cheering crowd, though in her dreams it was after she’d just finished a song. This was still a wonderful experience though, it almost made her forget the trouble she was in, looking around at the smiling faces of the people. Her whole body froze suddenly and her smile immediately dropped off her face as she noticed a mop of white hair in the crowd, stood at the top of the stands, clad in his blood red coat, was one of the magicians who’d attacked them in Zexal. He realised she’d noticed him and smirked darkly, it was then that she noticed he had his hands behind his back and it didn’t take her long to figure out why. There was hardly anytime for anyone else to react, they hadn’t seen it coming, when a huge blast of destructive dark magic went hurtling from the stands straight to Zuzu’s platform. Knowning it was her only option, she took a deep breath and lept.