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Fears and Dreams of the Heart

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Fears and Dreams of the Heart

A maze can seem like an endless, tortuous place, some leading to dead ends with others encased in endless loops. This particular one was filled with doors and staircases that stretched on for miles. Not one intended for exploration, it was an enterprise for a person’s soul.

Yami, a spirit trapped within the walls of an upside pyramid, searched the representation of himself. He held little idea of who he was, and he needed answers. His only clues were a Puzzle accompanied by several more pieces—a stone tablet telling him he was a pharaoh; a love of games, particularly Duel Monsters; and a partner who was his friend. He hoped he could uncover them by opening the doors that led to even more corridors.

“Nothing,” he mumbled with disgruntlement, embittered of uncovering empty rooms or ones that carried lethal traps. He didn’t know if that was part of the Puzzle’s reaction to intruders, or his own mind keeping people out, including himself. Aside from his lobby that was directly across from his partner’s, he only knew of a one other room that carried something. He positioned one elbow on top of an arm engaged across his chest as he placed one index finger and a thumb around his chin. “Hmm…”

He had hidden himself in that section while he challenged Shadi to a game back at Duelist Kingdom. Said room was filled with Duel Monster tablets for an odd reason. He had been told that there was connection to the popular trading card game and Egypt. That was another option for examination. Before taking another step, he glanced down a dark hallway. Something anomalous had caught his attention. He faced one pathway but continued on his way.

Veiled among the shadows, Bakura smirked.

“What a foolish pharaoh.” he cackled. “All this time he has been unable to detect my presence.”

He made it his duty to prevent misfits from interfering with his own desire, but he also had enjoyment in his own games. He believed now was the time to play another. This time, he imagined extra players. The Ring over his chest glowed, and shadows cascaded from it. The dark magic crawled into a new room. On the ground were tiles of different monsters. The magic began to take shape, forming into a fiend, The Wicked Worm Beast. The grotesque creature was created and awaited orders from his master.

“Now, my pet,” Bakura commanded with a wicked grin. “Why don’t you go and entertain the pharaoh?”

Enlisting his arms across his chest, he closed his eyes as the vile creature slithered away. It wasn’t long before he heard the shrieks from his greatest enemy.

“Dark Magician!” he heard a cry. “Defeat this monster by using dark magic attack!”

Bakura chuckled. He did not craft this monster to particularly harm the pharaoh, although that idea would be a bonus. He only needed that feeble beast to distract Yami.

“He can handle this on his own.” he laughed to himself. “There’s no way he’d wish to disrupt poor Yugi’s rest and have him worry. And as for Yugi.”

The heinous grin turned into a scowl. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten what you did over at Duelist Kingdom—making me look like a fool by sending me to a graveyard after my host betrayed me—just because you had higher attack points.”

He smirked roguishly once again, “Lucky for me, I know what makes your heart weak.”

On the lookout for his enemy, he heard battle cries, so he knew he was safe to enact his dirty deed. He dashed. The Ring glowed as it guided him to his needed path through such a complicated maze; something he already knew existed.

Opening a door, he came into a foyer constructed out of sandy bricks. Across from him was a metal door, an important gateway; once opened, it led into a significant hallway. This directed him to an imperative room, the room of a host. Taking his time, he stepped over and pulled on the handle. The door opened swiftly, and he clearly saw the room he needed. However, he carried no intention of dropping in even if his other enemy was busy battling a monster. Like a cat he snuck his way over.

He placed his back against the wall, leaning over to inspect the doorway that steered into Yugi’s Room. He spotted the young teen asleep, resting from a long and happy day he bore through at school.

“How perfect would it be to attack and destroy the pharaoh’s friend at this very moment?” he chuckled. “But alas, I am well aware that the pharaoh needs this boy, this body. Even if I were to destroy little Yugi now, that foolish pharaoh would be unable to search for his past; he would be too busy sobbing over the loss of his brat. If I am to allow the pharaoh to unlock his past and have him play the ultimate Shadow Game, I cannot physically harm this host.

“However,” his grin grew widely. “This doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun.”

The Ring flamed, signaling its activation. Dark magic began to flow out once more. The black art sailed down to the ground and crawled to the door, seeping underneath.

Bakura watched with pleasure, remembering the events that took place at Duelist Kingdom.

“Let’s see if little Yugi can handle himself without the pharaoh.”

Young Yugi slept peacefully on the floor of his Soul Room. As his body rested in the outside world, his soul was at peace. He had turned in at his usual bedtime after arduous sessions at school. He was glad to spend another day with friends rather than sitting by himself playing games. During his lectures he had been distracted; his heart pondered a grave problem. He figured his expression gave away his discomposure, for Ryou had asked about his wellbeing. Yugi only smiled and insisted he was fine. He failed to realize that the dark spirit of the Ring had seen the act as well.

As he slept serenely, the dark enchantment surrounded him. It crept into his domain and aimed for him, slowly wrapping itself around him. Once the witchcraft secured a sturdy grip, it lifted him up into the air and kept him like a puppet. Feeling the overwhelming darkness, Yugi’s eyes unlocked. But before he could analyze the situation, the magic tugged on him, on his soul. He found himself growing weary once more, far worse than any tough day at school could bequeath him. His eyes grew heavy, shutting them in defeat. His head hung lost in his world of dreams once more.

A dark chuckle bounced against the room. Entering the childlike domain, Bakura placed one hand into his pocket. He studied the boy he had captured.

“A simple spell for a simple soul,” he remarked mollified. “Little Yugi is now back to dreaming thanks to this magic. But the fun won’t stop here.”

He looked around the Room. He spotted many toys scattered, the colorful balloons on the wall, and the bright light that demonstrated virtue. He was aware of how pristine Yugi was, and he intended to undermine that.

“How fun would it be to corrupt someone as innocent as little Yugi?” he chuckled. “I’m sure the pharaoh would be just peachy. But I’m here for something else.”

His eyes landed on a toy.

“Ah, here’s something we can use.” he laughed. He wandered over and picked up a Kuriboh doll. He tilted his head towards the floating adolescent. He had purposefully spoken his last line because he intended for Yugi’s role as well.

The Ring glowed. Slowly, the sleeping teen returned to the ground. His body laid itself into the same position as before. The spell cast on him prevented him from waking up despite the even darker presence arriving.

Bakura held the toy in front of him. He observed the cuddly appearance. Dark magic left the Ring and came over the toy. Kuriboh’s expression transformed into something malicious. Now that one task was completed, the next part was ready to begin.

Bakura casually strolled to the sleeping boy. He knelt down and grabbed Yugi’s arm. He slipped in the besmirched toy, and he placed back Yugi’s arm, having it wrap against the toy. The augury from the toy covered itself around the teen. Once the magic was in effect, the expression on Yugi’s face transformed from peaceful to painful. He clamped his eyes as his eyebrows lowered themselves.

Seeing his plan in action, Bakura lifted himself up.

“Sweet dreams, little Yugi.”

Yugi, dressed in his school uniform as always, darted his way to school on a typical, clear day. He carried his brown backpack with one strap in his hand as he checked its content. He couldn’t risk forgetting his homework, lest he be meat to lions thrown in by his angered teachers.

As he laughed to himself at the idea, the wind picked up harshly. Black clouds rolled in, blocking the treasured sun.

Yugi looked around for shelter and spotted a door. He at once dashed for the school. He snatched the door’s handle and pulled. He made enough of an opening for him to slip through. He grunted as he tried to protect himself from the harsh blow.

“That was odd,” he remarked. “But at least I’m safe inside.”

He turned around to study his new area. To his side and above him he made out the stairs. Looking up ahead, he spotted some light. He jumped upon hearing a large roar outside.

“I better move away from this side,” he mumbled, sensing the danger. Shaking himself from his rocky event, he walked towards the lighter side of the building. “I hope the electricity doesn’t go out. Last thing I need is to bump into desks or trip over boxes.”

Exiting a storage room, he came to an empty hallway. Because school was typically crammed with many students of different grades, Yugi found his whereabouts anomalous. He asked himself befuddled, “Am I already that late for class?”

Examining the hallway, he spotted a group of teens in uniform, three guys and one girl. He at once recognized his friends.

“Hey, guys!” he called out delighted as he picked up his pace.

However, Joey, Tristan, Ryou, and Tea ignored him.


The cluster appeared as though they were in deep discussion of something unpleasant. Upon hearing a high pitched voice, they looked across from where they stood. Their faces at once turned to antipathy.

Yugi immediately picked up the apprehensive growing atmosphere. He was especially puzzled as to why such scornful looks were plastered onto his groups’ faces. His body grew tensed; such expressions were reserved for their greatest enemies and snobby classmates.

“Guys?” Yugi questioned. “What’s… what’s up?”

“We got a bone to pick with you,” Joey spat directly.

“With me?”

“Yeah,” Joey at once yelled, “I’m sick of you always rubbing your Duel Monsters’ victories in my face!”

“All these adventures we have are ridiculous!” Tristan argued loudly. “I don’t want to get killed over a bunch of stupid cards!”

“You’ve always played these games ever since you were a kid.” Tea interjected with a scowl. “When are you going to grow up?”

“Do you really think you’re better because you have an ancient spirit that served as a pharaoh teaming up with you?” Ryou asked harshly.

Yugi’s eyes amplified shocked. He never expected to hear such views on himself from his source of strength.

“Let’s go,” Joey instructed to the clan of adolescents.

The group obeyed, leaving without a second thought.

“Guys!” Yugi shouted. “Wait! Please don’t leave!”

Seeing the other teens carrying on, he froze. His pleas ignored. The group he cared about carried on without his presence. The hallway lights turned off. He clamped his eyes and placed his fist near his heart; the sharp words cut the center of his being. The pain and loneliness from his past crept its way into him. He always had his friends to help him out, but now he was alone in the darkness. His heart was hurt and vulnerable.

Lost in his indecisive action, he heard an evil chuckle. He turned around and spotted someone vile. He gasped in terror.

He looked behind him, seeing the other adolescents still walking away, and knew what to do. He immediately widened legs and held out his arms for protection of his friends. His face carried a mean glower as he grunted.

“No need to carry such a mean frown,” Bakura taunted. “After all, we’re gonna play a game.”

“A game?” Yugi echoed confused, slightly relaxing his pose.

A strange form of magic roped around him. He found his clothing transforming from his sapphire school uniform into violet armor. His hand held an emerald-colored staff decorated with a green gem towards the top.

“Wha?” he gasped, examining his outfit and weapon. “What’s going on? Why am I dressed as Dark Magician?”

“As I said,” Bakura reiterated. “We’re going to play a game. I am the master, and you all are Duel Monsters.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Look behind you.”

The teen hesitantly followed his instruction. He gasped; his friends were now wearing different outfits, outfits that matched the Duel Monsters they had identified with at Duelist Kingdom. Flame Swordsman, Cyber Commander, Magician of Faith, and Change of Heart—all were present.

“And to start our little game,” Bakura directed as held up a certain magic card. “I now play Change of Heart.”

“No!” Yugi screamed, already aware of Bakura’s strategy.

Bakura chuckled menacingly as a bright light flashed from his card, signaling its activation. “I can control Change of Heart because I am his master. I may possess his body from time to time, but that doesn’t mean I never grant him a few thrills once in a while.”

Ryou winged himself from his original position and now stood in front of the wicked spirit. His body was split between light and dark. His eyes were a solid brown, but his eyebrows arched over his eyes, giving him a disdainful countenance. He held his hands in front of him. A blaze glowed around them, and he shot the powerful beam to his opponent.

Yugi covered himself for protection by lifting up his arms in front. He was directly blasted with the magic. He screamed as the supernatural influence attacked his heart. He tried with all his might to resist the dark enchantment congregating inside of him. He clamped his eyes. His fists tightened. His heart ached.

“Don’t resist the magic, little Yugi.” Bakura jeered in pleasure. “Don’t you want to make your friends pay? What they said to you just now wasn’t exactly nice.”

Yugi cracked one eye open. He saw the backs of his friends, freely ignoring him. He gasped in pain as one hand holding his staff slowly moved his weapon into a firing position. He tried to resist.

“No!” Yugi howled. “I can’t! They’re my friends!”

His undefended hand automatically transposed to a higher position on the staff. The weapon was powerful, so the recoil would be fierce.

“How can they be your friends when they clearly have abandoned you?” Bakura posed menacingly.

The staff fired.


Yami stood in Yugi’s Soul Room doorway having just arrived. He had defeated Wicked Worm Beast and had sensed an evil existence. He knew the dark magic would attack his partner, so he rushed over. He scanned the room, and the scene appeared unsoiled. He spotted his partner lying on the ground with his back turned to him and knew the boy had been asleep while he had committed to his own exploration earlier. Now he needed to check in with his buddy to see if the teen could report anything suspicious.

Yami dashed right inside. He came down on one knee and gently placed one hand on Yugi’s shoulder. Before he had the chance to shake him, he spotted the pained expression on Yugi’s face.

“He’s having a nightmare!” he at once concluded.

Although identifying the source of dark magic was important, he needed to secure the safety and health of his other half. In addition, his sense of evil magic had gone haywire. He at once spotted the despoiled toy. He snatched Kuriboh from his partner’s grip and threw it in the air. The Eye glowed in the center of his forehead and out came his own magic. The toy froze in midair and changed into negative colors as the dark magic was released. Once free, the toy landed on the ground with its original look.

Yami turned his attention towards Yugi. The sleeping boy maintained his pain filled countenance. Yami gasped imagining the problem.

“He’s still living in that nightmare!”

He knelt down next to Yugi. He grabbed hold the boy’s shoulder and shook the body.

“Yugi!” he shouted. “Wake up!”

The boy remained underneath the spell. Whimpers escaped from his throat. His eyebrows cornered over his eyes.

“I have no other choice,” Yami surmised. Although he hated committing such an act, he knew he must invade his partner’s privacy in order to save him. “I must go into his dream.”

He gingerly positioned Yugi to lying on his back. He gently placed one hand over the teen’s forehead and the other on his chest. He closed his eyes and concentrated.

Coming out from the shadows, Bakura chuckled as he entered. He carried no fear of the pharaoh sensing his presence, for he knew Yami was in a trance, attempting to rescue his partner. Seeing his enemy in fear for his partner, he decided to get into the fun as well.

“No!” Yugi cried, eyes tearing up. He couldn’t believe his weapon had shot an attack. Insults may have crossed his path, but he couldn’t injure his friends. He was destitute to stop his forced assault.

The magical blast from the staff was absorbed.

“Wha?” Yugi questioned, his eyes remaining a tad watery.

“I have played a trap card, Negate Attack,” a confident voice explained. “It prevented the attack from harming our friends.”

The original players of the game turned and spotted a familiar face.

“Yami?!” Yugi gasped.

Yami, holding a card of his own, smirked.

“I can see why Yugi is having an unpleasant sleep,” he commented. “What are you up, evil spirit of the Ring?”

“Can’t you see we’re playing a game?” Bakura replied, remaining composed.

“What an unfair game this is,” Yami remarked. “Only playing by yourself. If you wish to be the master of this game, you’ll need another player to fight against.”

“Fine, we can add some minor alterations.” Bakura nodded, agreeing to the modification. “Little Yugi can be on your team. Have fun with the runt.”

Yugi’s gaze remained on his other self. He didn’t know if Yami was ready to spit invectives at him as well. He sometimes viewed his darker half was his better half; Yami never backed down from a challenge and always came out with victory.

“Don’t worry, Yugi,” Yami assured, unaware the tragic event that took place earlier. “We’ll fight as a team and take down this evil spirit, just as we always have.”

Yugi tried to take into account what had been dispatched between the spirits of two Millennium Items. He understood Bakura had altered his game for a reason. Perhaps Yami was truly present and Bakura was truthfully willing to go along, to play against his arch enemy. Yugi looked into Yami’s eyes, searching for their bond.

“You ready, Yugi?” Yami asked. His tone demonstrated his relationship with his light, not a ruler commanding a servant.

“I don’t think he has much of a choice.” Bakura ridiculed with a smirk. “Despite these modifications, you don’t stand a chance.”

Yugi was unaware of the spell. He assumed the monsters were his real friends despite the luckless mishap that occurred earlier.

“He and I will pull through.” Yami declared with heart. “We’ve defeated you before, and we’ll do it again.”

“True.” Bakura acknowledge. “But that game and this game do depend on heart. We’ll see how little Yugi handles himself.”

The astute thief knew of the bond beforehand. And he intended to demonize that situation as he cleverly committed in his plan earlier.

Yami did not fully grasp what the wicked spirit had uttered. He only saw the magic card that was inhabited by a student of Domino High remained on the field. He formed a quizzical demeanor.

“Although my host is a magic card, he is able to stay on the field because I am his master.” Bakura explained. “I can use him whenever I want.”

Yugi’s grip on his staff tightened. The last line his opponent mutter reflected the relationship his friend held with the Ring and the spirit.

“But then again,” Bakura added. “We’re not exactly playing a game of Duel Monsters like before.”

“Then what are we playing?” Yami asked. “How is it, then, that everyone holds the ability related to their chosen Duel Monster? And how was I able to negate Yugi’s attack with a magic card?”

“We’re not playing Duel Monsters, but these cards and our hosts along with their friends do serve a purpose.”

“And that purpose is?”

“Simple: This game.”

At that moment, mammoth-size, black top hats appeared right above the field. They were decorated with a red and white checker-style band and a large, yellow question mark in front. Yugi and Yami looked up at them in awe. They then descended to the ground, covering Flame Swordsman, Magician of Faith, and Cyber Commander. The same hats soon multiplied with a glow beneath them and stood in front of the malevolent spirit, forming a barrier.

“Why was Magical Hats activated?” Yami asked. “And why did they only cover our friends but not Ryou or Yugi?”

“How does it feel to have this card played against you?” Bakura posed his own question. He had seen how many times this tricky magic card had saved a certain magician from annihilation. “But allow me now to explain the game. Magical Hats are not covering our hosts because mine is only a magic card while yours is what you need to play through. Your goal is to blast away as many hats as you can to get to me. If you somehow manage to, little Yugi will be set free. But be careful. Some hats will carry traps, traps that will be used against little Yugi. Others will be monsters. And of course, you should be careful, lest you accidentally destroy your friends. If you destroy even one before you reach me, you automatically lose. I don’t think you want to know the consequences towards little Yugi.”

Yugi gasped as his eyes broadened. He was far too shock to think or speak. He was far more terrified of harming his friends than his own safety. He couldn’t bear the thought of harming them because of his poor performance. He wanted there to be another way to play, but he understood Bakura had set the game now to weaken him, possibly just to get his hands on the Puzzle once more.

He looked down at himself. He noticed he was not wearing the Puzzle. He turned around. He wondered how it was possible, then, for his darker self to be present.

Yami’s eyes fell onto his light.

Yugi is under some sort of spell and doesn’t know it. The results may be just as harmful as losing a Shadow Game, unless this is now one. How can I win without risking his wellbeing? Should I lose, what will happen to him?” Yami disliked the cruel game play as much as Yugi. He understood, however, that he needed to play through. He gave Bakura his attention as he asked, “How is this game fair? What can I do to help Yugi out?”

“You’ll have some magic cards of your own. You can use them against the other monsters that pop up, or you can find a way to negate a trap. Despite this little gift, you’ll be limited on how many your have for this game.”

A stack of cards appeared in front of Yami. He held out his hand, and five cards piled into his palm. Clinching his so-called gift, his eyes narrowed. It appeared as though plenty had been stacked against them. Nonetheless, he agreed to the terms. He needed to free Yugi.

Bakura raised one hand into the air and declared, “Game start!”

Yugi looked across the field. There were so many hats. These hats had served great purposes in saving Dark Magician in his matches, and now they were being used against him. Some had monsters or traps. Others had his friends, friends that had mocked him before turning into pawns. He trembled. He didn’t know if he was to attack his dear crew.

“Don’t worry, Yugi.” Yami secured, understanding his partner. “We’ll find a way to win.”

He studied the field. The only monster exposed right now was Dark Magician, who was played by Yugi. There was also a magic card, Change of Heart, played by a controlled Ryou. Yami had seen Bakura activate the effect of Change of Heart; he had little idea of when the wicked mind planned to call upon the powers once more. But until then, he needed to destroy a few hats to thin out the barrier.

“Come on, pharaoh.” Bakura urged. “Select a hat and see what’s underneath it.”

Yami followed. He lifted one arm and pointed to a hat far from any others. He believed he could start out to see what damage could ensue without harming anyone.

The fancy head wear rose up and vanished. Headless Knight (1450/1700) was underneath the chosen hat. As the name suggested, a knight in silver armor without a head carrying a shield and sword appeared. The human-like monster stood still.

The first monster we encounter.” Yami observed. “It has an attack lower than Dark Magician. If we attack, there would be no need for us to use a magic card for protection—

His concentration broke hearing his partner cry out, “What?!”

Yugi’s body moved on its own. Though his face fully displayed his bewilderment, his arm not holding the staff shakily elevated. When his arm was straight like printed lines on paper, his palm widened. The two at once recognized the stance. A powerful surge of magic shot out of Yugi. The teen grunted and clamped his eyes in pain, unaccustomed to the magic.

His magic hit Headless Knight, successfully destroying it. Despite the attack points’ differences, life points were not part of the game.

Once the monster was destroyed and the attack had been served, Yugi’s hand dropped down to his side. He bent forward a bit and panted. “What was… that?”

“I didn’t call for that attack!” Yami bellowed, his tone representing his anger towards his enemy.

“You don’t need to.” Bakura replied evenly while his face presented his arrogance. “In fact, you can’t.”


“Once you have selected a Magical Hat with a monster underneath, little Yugi will automatically attack since that is his purpose. He will also attack if he finds a trap, like Mirror Force. This makes you think on your feet—to use a magic card or allow the attack to go on through.”

Yami grunted. He then looked at his hand. “This will mean that I’ll need to decide which cards to use quickly before any harm can come to Yugi or our friends.

He looked over at Yugi. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” Yugi nodded as he recovered.

“I’ll level with you,” Bakura responded. “If there are any monsters under here, they shall be under attack mode. That way, we already can see if little Yugi will be strong enough to take them down.”

“Fine,” Yami complied. He then reviewed the traditional Duel Monsters game. “Dark Magician carries an attack power of 2500. The evil spirit of the Ring will need to have a monster with stronger attack points for him to prevail. If that happens, I should have something to defend Yugi or increase his power for one turn. But Yugi and I should be safe for some time.

Bakura smirked. “I understand what I’m doing for the game. No doubt finding a powerful monster to go against Dark Magician is a challenge. But I’ve allowed little Yugi to be that monster for a particular reason.

The malicious grin on the villain washed out for a moment. “He still must pay for what he did back at Duelist Kingdom.

Yami was ready to continue with the game seeing his partner fine. He selected another hat; this one was on the opposite end of his first choice.

A grotesque mannequin, Necro Mannequin (500/500), emerged. The whole piece was mismatched; one arm seeped out of the undecorated face’s mouth; a leg with a foot was attached to where an arm was placed, and an arm with a hand was where a leg and foot where to go. It appeared as though the monster could be standing in either position, for a head and a neck was also built on its pelvic.

“It looks as though you’ve managed to uncover one of my favorites,” Bakura commented. “It has no effects, so what will you do now, Pharaoh?”

Yami found the uncovered monster held no threat to Yugi or him. He saw his friend already moving position for an attack. There was no need to activate any of his cards, yet his heart ached seeing his partner in pain.

“Don’t worry, Yugi!” he assured. “Just obliterate this monster so we can get closer to saving our friends!”

Dark Magician played by Yugi assaulted the incongruous beast. This time around, the magic leaving the teen was not as brutal. He was well this turn, but his heart still feared the great possibility of finding his friends. He understood his body would inevitably attack, but he didn’t want to bestow them harm. Yet the words they spat at him still hurt. He closed his eyes. “Guys, for whatever reason you hate me, I hope you can forgive me.

He unlocked his vision hearing Bakura gibe, “All these hats and so far you managed to uncover two monsters. You’ll never defeat me if you play it safe for too long.”

He heard Yami rebuke, “You only wish to rush so we can fall into your hands.”

“Perhaps, but I am still correct about the game play.”

Yami reviewed what had been selected so far and what had remained. “We have yet to have a run in with our friends. Change of Heart had remained frozen all this time. Yugi has only battled monsters with attack points far below his, so I have not needed to use any of my cards. Those are pluses for us. Despite this luck, we still must be careful.

He looked over at Yugi. There was a spell around the teen, so he honestly believes he is fighting his friends. Despite that factor, Yami didn’t know what could happen to Yugi should they lose. And if they do, Yugi would be more devastated for destroying an illusion of a friend.

The two heroes needed to endure the game. Yami selected a hat closest to them.

Underneath it was a trap card, Zoma the Spirit. An undead dragon emerged. Its dead skin was grey, its eyes were blood red, its claws were sharp, and its jaw was large.

“This trap can be treated as a Zombie-type monster with 1800/500,” Bakura explained, overjoyed at the heroes finally finding a trap. “And that’s how I’m using it. And if the card is destroyed as a result from battle, then it inflicts damage to my opponent equal to the attack that destroyed it. But since we have no life points in this game, the attack goes directly to Yugi, destroying him. Looks like I win since you no longer will have a monster to continue playing!”

“WHAT?!” Yami shrieked. His eyes averted to his friend, who was grudgingly in motion for his oncoming blitz. He needed to think quickly.

Yugi heard every word Bakura had uttered. He was frightened, but his arm was already raised with his widened hand.

The aggression was made, and it had been absorbed by the undead dragon, its eyes glowing a brighter red. The trap card taking a monster form cried out as it rose into the air. With its crippled wings, it swooped down, prepared to strike whatever had assaulted it with an equal force.

Yugi cried out seeing the beast aim his way, sharp claws ready to tear him. He feared the game was truly over.

“I activate the magic card, The Living Arrow!”

Before any damage could be done to the teen magician, a large, gold arrow with grey fletching formed in front of him. The traditional target arrow sped across the air and shot through the undead dragon. The effect of the trap card in the form of a monster was redirected at three hats. Only low level monsters were underneath. The heroes now had fewer hats to worry about.

Yugi turned around and looked directly at his other half. He was grateful for the fast plan his partner implemented. He truly was afraid of the end.

Yami merely nodded. He understood the risk, and both partners were glad that none of the deflected attacks landed on a hat that masked a friend. They were still in the game.

Bakura growled. He ravenously assumed that he had victory within his hands. He now had fewer hats to act as his wall. “No matter. This will give them time to find one of their friends and truly end the game.

Some confidence rose within Yugi. “I have Yami to help me out. I am determined to finish the game without harming my friends. I hope this courage will show them how loyal I am and they will accept me back.”

That round proved to be a challenge,” Yami thought. “I now have one less card to work with, but Yugi and I are still players.”

He noticed his partner’s stance. “Looks like Yugi is now willing to play. We have defeated a good number of hats. Hopefully this luck will be maintained as we destroy the barrier surrounding Bakura.”

He pointed to hat towards the center. He had selected Necroface (1200/1800).

The arisen monster was only a glass doll’s face. It was an ugly doll. An open eye with a black iris remained, it had a pudgy nose, and the lips had been painted on. But the hair had been torn, leaving only strains. The opposite eye and upper side of the head had been shattered; most likely caused by some sort of hidden alien-like monster. Coming out of the doll on all ends were red tentacles.

Yugi was unafraid. He lifted one hand and easily shattered the incongruous beast.

Yami smirked. He was proud of his friend. He picked another hat.

Puppet Master (0/0) appeared. The human-like monster wore a violet and gold-colored jester costume, including little bells on the hat. The beast had pointy ears like an elf, and the eyes were fully red. The bronze complexion was like a senior citizen, wrinkly. For the title of the card, red strings were wrapped around its fingers. These threads made their way towards Yugi.

Dark Magician did not panic. Puppet Master is an effect card, but such an effect was voided for this game. Yugi blasted away the imp with ease. So long as the monsters were not his friends, he vowed he would fight bravely.

Bakura growled. “How unfortunate for me that they have yet to stumble upon their friends. They are still loaded with plenty of cards for protection. I despise the strength forming in Yugi and the smirk on the stupid pharaoh’s face. I need to intervene.”

Yami was searching for another choice when he heard the thief goaded, “Come now, Pharaoh. Why not let little Yugi select a hat?”

He did not trust his opponent’s tone. He asked directly, “What are you planning?”

“These hats contain Yugi’s friends. Shouldn’t he also have a say in which to pick? He should be working just as hard as you are in saving them. We can’t have him always taking the back seat in these duels, can we?”

Yami snarled as Yugi took in those words. He wasn’t gullible; he knew Bakura’s plot, yet he believed the evil spirit made a convincing argument.

“Yami, let me pick now.” Yugi directed.

“What?” Yami asked. He looked into Yugi’s eyes.

“They’re my friends, too,” Yugi persuaded. “I need to try and save them, too.”

The former pharaoh understood. “All right, but be careful. You know there are tricks out there.”

Yugi nodded and faced forward. He saw so many hats, hats that concealed deadly traps, noxious monsters, and his friends. He used his mind and his heart to deduce the best choice. He risked his turn for his friends by picking a hat in the center of the field.

Gotcha!” Bakura chuckled to himself as his eyes widened in pleasure.

The hat lifted up and vanished. Underneath it was a monster, a small, yellow beast with two stubby antennas on top of its head along with a tail in back. The eyes were designed like a lizard’s, and its mouth was red, bearing sharp teeth. This was a monster the two heroes had faced before.

“Electric Lizard?!” Yugi and Yami shouted at once.

“Indeed it is!” Bakura happily professed. “And it has a nasty effect, as you’ll soon embrace once again!”

“No!” Yugi cried. He had already pounced on it once in the wizard’s uniform, and the results were unpleasant. His arm had been lifted up like a puppet’s, and out from his palm shot a wave of magic, destroying the yellow monster on spot.

There was only a brief moment of silence before the field was embraced by a loud cry from Yugi. A powerful shock in the physical form of electricity jolted his body. The magician now under the effect dropped to his knees. His face was scrunched together in pain as he wrapped his arms around his shoulders. His body was turning numb for a turn.

“Yugi!” Yami bellowed. He growled hearing the malevolent titter coming from his enemy.

Yugi grunted in physical and emotional pain. He remembered how he foolishly attacked that exact same facedown monster while entombed as Dark Magician. He had acted irrationally, believing he needed to prove something to his friends and subconsciously to himself. He viewed himself as someone who is uncool and holds a frail heart. Even now he wasn’t even confident enough to tell his so-called friends his true wish he made while trying to assemble the Puzzle. A part of him feared letting them know, believing they all would see him as someone who is weak and wasted such a wish on something so trivial and typically easily obtained.

Yugi remained on his knees as his heart battled his emotions of past pride and current sorrow.

“Looks like little Yugi will need to wait a turn before he can do anything again,” Bakura stated, elucidating the situation. He never suspected his enemy’s host, who had been viewed as an angel by all, to have committed such a naïve act. He grinned in enthrallment.

Yami grunted, angered at the evil spirit.

“Don’t get mad at me, Pharaoh,” Bakura mocked. “It was Yugi’s choice, and he needs to learn to deal with the results. Just like another spirit that chose pride over safety and over fellow duelists.”

The former pharaoh’s eyes narrowed. He suspected the wicked soul had referred to the event of him playing in a vital duel just before the group’s access into the castle at Duelist Kingdom. He didn’t understand how Bakura found that information at all since Bakura had been sent to the graveyard after their own duel.

He closed his eyes. “My heart has been through some trouble ever since that match against Kaiba. My action had cost me Yugi’s trust. He had to hold me back in our duel against Mai in the semi-finals. I understood that, but what I hated most was that Yugi then feared me. It did take time for that trust to be reestablished once more, trust that had already taken time to build. We had talked, he had forgiven me, and I had forgiven myself.

He focused his gaze at his partner. “Yugi needs to do so as well.

The small teen panted as his body slowly recovered. His heart had remained in sorrow for his action. He had feared what else could have been placed aside from Electric Lizard. His partner had warned him, but his mind was already set, and he took that option. Yami and Joey had spoken about that situation, and Yugi agreed that he needed to move on.

With his eyes still closed, Yugi slowly rose as his sore body still tingled.

“Is the runt ready to play?” Bakura heckled with delight.

Yami clinched his free fist. He hated how successfully tactical his enemy was. His eyes rotated towards Dark Magician. Like with his own past battles against himself, Yugi needed reassurance of the strength in his heart. “Yugi, go and pick the next hat.”

The slightly injured adolescent turned his head towards his darker self with a half open eye. His expression questioned his partner’s decision.

“Give it another go.” Yami encouraged sincerely, his voice showing trust.

Yugi cracked open his eyes as his breathing leveled. He cautiously looked over the field. Doubt was present in his heart once more. He heard Yami cheer, “You can do this.”

Yugi believed in Yami’s verdict. Someone bestowed in him credit, so he needed to move forward. He picked a hat on his very right.

Underneath the hat was a trap, Mirror Force.

“No!” Yugi gasped. He tried his best to select another hat, hoping it would be a low-level monster, but what appeared instead was a powerful trap capable of destroying him. Despite his effort to resist, his arm rose, and a blast of magic escaped him.

As the teen’s magic aimed for the giant purple card, the card transformed into a mirror sheet. The attack was deflected back at him.

Yugi cried out seeing his attack reverting.

“Remove trap!”

The attack was stopped before it could reach the teen.

Yugi lowered his head in shame. He knew Yami needed to use a card to protect him because of his poor choice. He viewed the entire situation as a good card being wasted.

He heard Bakura mock, “So much for trust, eh, Pharaoh?”

He grew a little shock hearing Yami reply, “I still do.”

He remained in his spot unsure of what to make of the situation.

Yami understood his partner needed another boost. The two needed to be careful in which ones they tabbed. They had yet to unlock a friend, so fate had remained with them. He hoped fate would continue to remain with them as they battled the spirit of the Ring. He looked at his hand to see if anything could assist.

“I play Eye of Truth!” he avowed as he showed a card from his mini deck. “I have a feeling we won’t be able to see everything, so let’s just take a quick look at a few options.”

Bakura gritted his teeth; he had no control over that opportunity.

A bright light flashed from Yami’s chosen card. A number of Magical Hats remained in place but turned clear, illuminating what was underneath them while others lingered concealed.

Knowing the card’s action, Yugi glanced up. His eyes enlarged spying someone wearing a purple dress with red sleeves underneath while wielding a magical staff decorated with a narrowed crescent moon on top. He instantly gasped, “Tea!?”

Indeed it was the girl. She was on one knee on the ground, holding that position since the start of the game. Her blue eyes usually filled with pep were now hollow, showing that she was still under the rules of the game, which meant she would strike if called upon. She held her weapon closely across her chest.

Yugi stared at her, greatly missing her cheering.

Bakura grunted as Yami hailed, “Looks like we found one hat not to attack!”

As Yugi kept his view on the girl, Yami quickly surveyed the field. He spotted a few good traps, some low-level monsters, and even a powerful one near Bakura. His vision of everything underneath soon ceased as the Magical Hats came back into view.

“You may have seen a few clear shots, but that doesn’t guarantee you victory.” Bakura stated in a low voice. “There are two friends still hidden, and I can always use Change of Heart. Not to mention, you now have an even lower amount of cards to play.”

“Regardless,” Yami countered, feeling confident. “We are here to save our friends and defeat you. And that is what we intend to do.”

“Let’s just see how little Yugi is up to that.”

Yami looked at his partner. He understood the pain within his heart. He needed to help him out. “Yugi you have learned from your past mistake. We must now continue on. Choose another hat.”

Yugi only stood in place. He was at a loss of what to do. He had found one friend, but there was a chance he would end up fighting another. He had a higher attack than any of them, so he could destroy them with one hand. He panicked.

The spirit of the Puzzle relied on Yugi’s will and purity during their matches. He needed Yugi to perform the same for himself.

“You can do this, Yugi. You are brave,” he reminded his partner. “You are brave because of your heart. Your heart will know what to do.”

Yugi took in those words he had heard once before. He had made sacrifices before for his friends. He had also committed stupid mistakes, but these errors were turned into light; he accepted his flaw and tried his best to move forward, especially after hearing kind words from Yami and Joey.

But are they right?” Yugi questioned. He looked over the field; a number of hats remained to select, strategize against, and destroy. However, he had been more focused on his female companion that he neglected to see other options. He picked a hat on his left that was closest to him.

The Earl of Demise (2000/700) appeared. Wearing torn up clothing that appeared from European royalty including gold-colored cuffs; a purple ruff in the crisp, white shirt; over-sized burgundy pants; and brown boots that went up to the caves, another human-like monster wielded a wealthy sword. Its skin was green, it had a missing eye, and its jaw was askew while hanging wide open. It slowly made its way over to attack, dragging one foot across the field like in the movies.

“You can do this, Yugi.” Yami encouraged, clinching one fist. “It has lower attack points than yours.”

Yugi kept his head down as his arm was lifted habitually.

The monster was gone in an instant.

Bakura smirked. “I may have lost another monster, and although no friends had been damaged, Yugi’s confidence has been shaken. I must say, I feel a little better after being blasted away due to my host betraying me.

Yami growled a little; he despised the satisfying expression on his enemy’s face. He hated the joy the corrupted soul was receiving from a stirred event. He needed to win the game, and he needed to show Yugi that he was not weak. He asked his friend, “Are you ready to go, Yugi?”

The magician only stood in silence.

Yami’s eyes altered from determination to somber.

Bakura chuckled, “It looks as though little Yugi is ready to surrender. That is an option, you know. Every game has it, even if it has never been stated. Players lose hope, or see it is the only option. I say this situation calls for one.”

“I don’t think so!” Yami spat daringly. “This game is not over!”

“Perhaps not, but it is looking like it’s heading towards the end one way or another.”

The former pharaoh observed the field. Since Yugi was now in a rough spot, Yami concluded he needed to make the next move. He searched around. He selected a hat deep within the mine field.

Yugi looked up to see what had been chosen. His eyes amplified fearfully seeing what monster was underneath. He spotted a human-like monster in a blue uniform with an orange helmet accompanied with an orange sword in hand.

“Joey?!” Yugi gasped.

“It… it can’t be,” Yami whispered doubtfully.

The blonde adolescent’s spot had been exposed. He stood in his place. His honey-colored eyes were hollow, and his demeanor remained blank.

“You have selected the hat!” Bakura yelled joyfully. “Now prepare to face what’s underneath! And because he is a monster with lower attack points, he’ll be destroyed!”

Flame Swordsman played by Joey gripped his sword with both hands. He at once raced across the field towards the wizard in the purple armor.

“Joey! No!” Yugi begged. He never wanted to hurt his best friend even if their friendship began on a rocky start with the blonde bantering the petite teen. But his body was set in motion, both hands gripping the green staff. Dark Magician had higher attack points, so he can easily destroy the Flame Swordsman’s oncoming slaughter. “No!”

“I play Mystic Box!”

Before the teen wizard could fully set his staff, a giant box engulfed him. The containment was made out of three black cases, each one decorated with a yellow question mark and gold-colored bindings. Yugi unlocked his wet eyes. It was dark inside. He had no method of knowing what was happening on the field. His heart raced, wondering what became of the game and of Joey. Soon the doors opened, allowing light to flow through. Yugi was free as the box around him disintegrated.

“Mystic Box switches what you have chosen to attack, keeping my Dark Magician safe.” Yami stated.

Yugi turned confused. He knew that this magic card could only allow another thing in his place. He looked at the second box that had appeared. The style of the container was the same, but this one had been pierced by swords in multiple sections. His eyes enlarged: Inside the box was a magic card, one from Yami’s set. He looked at Yami shocked. The spirit of the Puzzle willingly sacrificed one of their limited cards for his and Joey’s sake.

“You wasted your final card for these fools?” Bakura grunted. One friend had been found, and he was sure victory was his once more.

“No card holds greater value than friendship.” Yami replied fearlessly. “That is the strength Yugi and everyone has taught me.”

Yugi took in those words. He wanted to end the game badly. And so did their enemy.

“I’ve had enough of this!” Bakura bellowed, his antagonism and resentment taking over. “There’s no way friendship will save you, and I’ll prove that right now! I activate my Change of Heart once more! I’ll have little Yugi attack the stupid Flame Swordsman on my terms!”

“No!” Yami cried.

Change of Heart placed his arms in front of his chest. A glow formed around his arms. Once a ball of energy molded, Ryou pulsed it forward, sending the magic across the field, directly hitting the wizard in the purple armor.

Yugi’s eyes expanded as he gasped in pain. The magic made a direct hit over his chest, over his heart. It slowly sank inside, causing him to lift his staff. The green wand with an emerald on top morphed into a straight line, being held with one hand towards the top and the other towards the bottom. He tried with all his might to resist, but his efforts turned futile.

“Yugi!” Yami cried. He wished he could do something, but he did not own any more cards.

The small teen cracked one eye open. His weapon was aimed at his best friend. Tears formed underneath his eyes once more. He couldn’t destroy anyone he cared so deeply about. But so many hats remained, and it appeared as though the heroes had hardly made a dent. It seemed to be the end for them. Either way, Yugi could not injury a friend. He may have heard painful words prior to the start of the game, but his heart battled against the magic, trying to remember all the fun and painful times they shared, as what true friends do. All members had sacrificed themselves in one manner or another for a friend. And Yugi was eternally grateful for them. The joy forging in his heart gave him strength; it was no enough to stop his attack, but enough to redirect it.

He had enough memory to recall where another monster was hidden, not a friend or a trap. Yugi redirected his attack towards a hat in back closest to Bakura that hid Dark Necrofear (2200/2800). The effect of the monster was voided, and by default it was set to attack mode, giving less attack points compared to Dark Magician. In one move, the blue mannequin-like beast was obliterated.

“What the?!” Bakura cried in disbelief. “How did this brat evade the effect of Change of Heart?!”

“Yugi’s compassion for his friends aided him.” Yami answered confidently. “There is no way Yugi would ever harm a friend.”

“Even at the cost of his own life?”


The statement was proven true: The magician released his staff and dropped to his knees. His whole upper body then smacked against the field. His eyes were shut. He did not move.

“Yugi!” Yami bellowed.

Bakura tossed his head back and laughed manically. “Looks like little Yugi couldn’t handle the game anymore!”

His eyes soaking with achieved vengeance turned down towards his enemy. He affirmed happily, “And it looks like the game is finally mine! You no longer have little Yugi to control, and you have no more special cards! You lose, Pharaoh!”

“Yugi!” Yami shouted. He no longer cared about the game, fearing the worst. “Please! Stand up!”

Just as the light of hope began to fade, Yami gasped seeing Joey race across the field while bearing in hand his orange sword. “No!”

“It looks as though one of my puppets is ready to end the game officially.” Bakura cheered. “Since he still has lower attack points from Dark Magician, he’s only going to destroy himself, making me the winner.”

Flame Swordsman dashed across, passing by the lasting hats. Coming up to the fallen magician, he stopped. All remaining eyes watched him, waiting for him to draw his lethal sword. Despite the anticipation, he knelt down instead.

“What?!” Bakur and Yami cried out at the same time.

Joey placed one hand over Yugi. He then grabbed his small buddy’s arm and placed it over his neck, carefully maneuvering over his bulky helmet. He called out gently, “Yug, it’s time to get up.”

Yugi managed to open his eyes halfway. He tilted his head and spotted his friend wearing the Flame Swordsman’s outfit. He voiced weakly, “Jo… Joey?”

“Come on, Yug,” the blond urged. “It’s time to kick this evil spirit’s butt once more.”

“I… I can’t,” Yugi whispered in defeat. “He’s got Change of Heart, and Yami is all out of cards. Not to mention you guys hate—”

The teen couldn’t finish his sentence. His heart couldn’t take the idea of how his buddies viewed him, wanting him out of their lives, leaving him alone once more in darkness. He admitted submissively, “I… I just can’t.”

“What are you talking about, Yugi?” Joey questioned. “Of course you can do this.”

Yugi looked at his friend once more.

The blond at once assisted his small buddy to stand.

Dark Magician watched as his friend supported him. Moments ago, the slow witted adolescent spat at him for viewing him as a superior. He believed those unkind words because he was aware of Joey trying to improve his skills as a duelist. But even so, in past duels and in hard times, Joey had supported his friends. And he was truly glad to be around Yugi, the one who had helped change him for the better.

“You can win this game because you’re cool,” Joey explained with heart. “And you’re cool because you’re you.”

Accepting his friendship with Joey once again, Yugi proudly stood up.

Yami smiled seeing the bond between the two had not been broken.

“How is this possible?!” Bakura shouted enraged.

“The strength of our friends keeps our spirits burning.” Yami explained. “A soul can be placed under exhaustion in the Shadows, but his spirit can be revived and strengthened through harsh conditions and finding the courage to stand up for what he believes in.”

Bakura grunted. “Regardless, Pharaoh, we’re still playing. How do you intend to win?”

At that moment, the unexpected happen. Cyber Commander and Magician of Faith leapt out of their hiding spots. Alongside Change of Heart, they hastened over to Dark Magician and Flame Swordsman. The bond between Yugi and Joey motivated them to unfreeze themselves. Having arrived, all cards but Dark Magician shot an angered look towards the evil spirit of the Ring. They were prepared to follow orders of their leader to take him down.

Yugi looked around. The people who spat at him earlier and stormed off were now by his side once more. Yugi smiled a little; he was happy to have his friends stand by him once more.

Yami smirked as he folded his arms across his chest. He was glad to see his partner well once more. He and everyone else now needed to end the game.

“You were wrong about friendship,” Yugi addressed to Bakura. “And you’re about to find out what happens again when friends stick together.”

Ryou gathered his energy and spread it all around the remained hats, causing them to move out of the way, giving everyone a clear shot their enemy.

Yami rose one hand and shouted, “Yugi! Use the power of Dark Magician to defeat the evil spirit of the Ring!”

The teen in the violet armor lifted one hand, and magic dispersed. His attack multiplied as Flame Swordsman slashed fire, Cyber Commander shot a powerful missile, and Magician of Faith swung out magic all towards their enemy.

The overgrown assault afflicted Bakura. He placed his arms in front of him to form a shield, but he was blown away. He cried out as he vanished.

“We did it!” Yugi cheered. He turned around. “Yami, we—”

He cut himself off no longer seeing his partner behind him. He studied his environment befuddled. All the Magical Hats had vanished with no remaining monsters or traps. His eyes fell on his group.

Everyone carried a smile on their face as they slowly faded.

The momentum from the attack blasted Bakura to the wall. He had been sitting on the ground in meditation to enter his own invocation. He grunted disconcerted as he sat up. “Looks like they’ve managed to break free.”

He saw the other two bodies moving. The game had been played, the heroes had won, and they had broken through the incantation.

“Curses!” Bakura shouted displeased. The magic from his Ring wrapped itself around him, and he vanished from the light domain, concealing himself once more inside the Puzzle, inside the shadows.

Slowly, Yugi unlocked his eyes. His body was far too exhausted for him to awaken in the real world, but his mind was at least conscious and free from the hex. He looked around to examine his space. He saw he was in his Soul Room.

“Yugi,” he heard a kind voice call. “Are you all right?”

He looked forward and saw his partner, his friend. As he sat up dazed, Yami placed a hand behind his back for support. He asked bemused, “What… what happened?”

“You were under the spell of the evil Ring.” Yami answered. He didn’t understand how the curse was initiated at all, but he was glad seeing his partner fine.

“I… I was?” Yugi reflected on his explanation. He found it difficult to believe; the sharp words he heard earlier from his friends seemed quite authentic based on his mute speculations. Recalling them to mind, he at once shut his eyes and buried his face into his hands.

“Yugi?!” Yami called, feeling concerned upon hearing his other half crying. “What’s wrong?”

Feeling a great pain developing in Yugi’s heart, he pulled the boy closer to him.

Yugi trembled. He tried his best to explain his situation, “We were all Duel Monsters… and I almost attacked them… If… if it wasn’t for you using that trap card at the beginning, I might have…”

“It’s all right,” Yami assured. “It’s over. We won.”

The teen remained voiceless as he proceeded to sob.

Yami hated seeing his partner in pain. Some emotions formed out of emblematic life like school or family, but an enemy causing these disorders was inadmissible.

“Yugi, you shouldn’t treat yourself so harshly.” he soothed. “We all make mistakes, and we must find ways to handle them. I was the one who selected the hat with Joey underneath.”

Yugi clutched his partner’s shirt, unable to brush away his torment. He appreciated being part of a team, but he wandered if he was performing his part well. He needed help at times, and he viewed he rarely returned the favor, believing the answer lied in him being feeble.

“Yeah, but you had a plan to save him.” he countered. “I was just there to make attacks.”

“But you made some excellent judgments in picking the hats.”

“But I was still at fault for making you waste your magic cards. You couldn’t do anything when the spirit of the Ring had Ryou used his magic on me again since you didn’t have anymore. I feel lucky that Joey had managed to help out, but what if something like that happens again but without everyone with me? On my team?”

Yugi began to sob once more.

Yami understood what had been racing around his light’s heart.

“Yugi,” he called gently. “You mustn’t dwell on scenarios like that. You’ll worry yourself with false assumptions.”

“But I can’t help it!”

Yami stared at Yugi befuddled.

“I just mean that…” Yugi sniffed, having calmed down a bit. “If Ryou hadn’t taken control of his own monster back at Duelist Kingdom… Would I have attacked my friends then?”

Tears fell down his face once more. He acted fearlessly in facing what the evil spirit of the Ring had plotted, but he was a Duel Monster, and he was bounded by the same rules as anyone else. He had managed to save some time in this past game, but he doubted his skills from the previous one held at Duelist Kingdom.

He was pulled off his other self by caring hands placed on his shoulder. He looked at his darker half.

“I honestly believe not.” he heard Yami assured. “I believe your own heart would have prevented that magic card from taking control. You care about your friends, and they care about you. That bond is far stronger than any magic, any shadow magic. And it will keep guiding us in our paths, whether it pertains to the Shadow Realm or everyday aspects of life.”

Yugi turned mute for a moment. He had managed to control a little of his own will despite what Bakura had placed on him.

He closed his eyes. He was glad to have a friend like Yami; the spirit always knew how to cheer him up. The teen grasped their shared destiny; they needed each other, but he questioned his connections with everyone else. Somewhere inside of him believed they had the option of walking out on him just like in his cursed nightmare. He buried himself into his friend as tears raced down his cheeks. His heart drowned in a pool of sorrow.

Yami tenderly held on to him picking up the angst inside his light. He was the only one inside the group who knew about Yugi’s greatest fear: His friends leaving him. Yami had always reminded Yugi of his great treasure, but the fear was relentless, relentless in seizing control of Yugi’s heart at every opportunity.

As tears fell down the boy’s face, he reviewed in his mind the game he had competed in. He accepted he couldn’t win on his own. He needed help; otherwise, he may have truly ambush his friends. He was glad he had Yami and everyone helping him. (He would later receive phone calls from everyone in his group talking to him about the spell that served as a dream. Because of the distress the teen had undergone and his desire to never hurt his close companions, they were truly able to aid him.)

Yugi was grateful for everyone, especially his darker half at this moment.

“Yami?” the young teen whispered, his voice showing he had something important to discuss.

“Yes, Yugi?”

“Thanks for being there for me.”

Yami smiled.

Tired from his adventure, Yugi closed his eyes. His heart had tussled with a long battle, and he knew more were aiming his way, with one particular ahead. It may be true he held such fears in his heart regarding his close companions, but he also held a dream. He dreamed that one day he would allow his friends know what his one wish was. He may have gained courage thanks to them and Yami, and he wanted to allow others to see more and more of himself, his own heart.

The evil spirit of the Ring stood in the maze of a Soul Room. He was eclipsed by the shadows, masking his unremitting presence. He was heated. He was close to his goal, and he was made a fool again by his greatest enemy, his host, and their friends.

He was a little steamed that his own host had managed to overcome him once more; he didn’t like how strong Ryou had been growing. Perhaps it was because of Yugi and everyone. Bakura was also unsure of how the small teen’s friends were able to support him. He thought back to their match at Duelist Kingdom.

“Little Yugi was able to divert his attack in this game despite being controlled by Change of Heart. He is willingly to even foolishly sacrifice himself for his stupid friends, especially the pharaoh. For all I know, he might have been able to break through Change of Heart back at Duelist Kingdom.

“For now, I will accept how much that pharaoh aids his brat. I’ll need something stronger… in due time.”

Taking his leave, Bakura walked into the darkness of the Puzzle, preparing for his ultimate game.

The End