To Last the Turn - PART 1
Yugi Mutou watched with wide eyes as purple and black shadows started to consume the Duel Monsters field before him.
"I will defeat you," his opponent, Duel Monsters creator Maximillion Pegasus, told Yugi, a smirk lighting his face, "in one realm or another, Yugi!" His Millennium Eye glowed gold in his left socket as he willed the shadows to race across the field.
Yugi straightened slightly, realization dawning on him. "Huh?" he said aloud. "It's just like last time . . . he's sealing us in another dimension! Cutting me off from my friends." The tri-color haired boy glanced around with a tiny gasp as the fancy mansion they'd originally been dueling in was clouded with the shadows, purple sparks crackling like lightning.
There was a pause of wonder as Yugi took time to whip his head back and forth, gazing at the Shadow Realm with bleak curiosity. This place always gives me the creeps, he thought. Whenever Pegasus brings me here, it only means one thing.
He and the spirit of his Millennium Puzzle said it at the same time.
"He wants a Shadow Game."
He wants a Shadow Game!
"You'll find your experience in the Shadow Realm this time around will be a lot harder than your last," Pegasus informed Yugi darkly. "The strain of maintaining your Mind Shuffle will make it more difficult for you to mentally conjure up your monsters."
The second he said it, Yugi knew he was right. Suddenly, standing felt hard, and it felt like he'd been injected with liquid lead. He began to pant-every heartbeat hurt. He's right . . . I feel weak . . .
From behind him, the spirit of the Puzzle looked at Pegasus in anger and eyed Yugi with worry. The very fact that they were here outraged the spirit-he knew Pegasus was aware of the strain it would put on Yugi. After everything the poor boy had been through, this had been Pegasus's plan all along: to trick Yugi into dueling to the death. Every situation the spirit had considered Pegasus would throw them in was nothing in comparison to the risk they faced in the Shadow Realm. He gritted his teeth, seeing the obvious effect it had on Yugi. Realizing every second Yugi spent in the Shadow Realm put him in even more danger, the spirit proclaimed, I'll take over, Yugi! as he switched with the teen, allowing him to be safe.
"I think I'm strong enough," the spirit said boldly. "So let's finish our duel, now." He drew a card.
You'll be safer if you let me handle Pegasus, Yugi, the spirit told Yugi. I can survive in this realm . . . easier than you.
But we can't abandon our strategy, it was the only thing keeping Pegasus from reading our minds! Yugi protested, appearing in spirit form. He looked much better than he had only moments ago, now not looking like he was about to fall over. On the inside, Yugi was apprehensive-the feeling of being in the Shadow Realm was terrible, weaving pain and exhaustion together into one atrocious experience. But he couldn't let himself be afraid-if the spirit wasn't, then neither was he.
You're right, the spirit admitted, scowling. And it's the only reason we have our narrow lead.
Pegasus drew a card, his white hair draped over the side of his face like a curtain. He chuckled in delight. "For my next brilliant move," he claimed, "I play my Dark Eyes Illusionist in attack mode! And did I tell you? It's a monster I created just for this game!"
On Pegasus's side of the field spawned a mysterious monster with the Millennium Eye for a head, long purple arms, a green cape, and a bottom half that ended in a sharp point. The spirit's eyes bulged at the sight of the new monster, and Yugi winced inside his Soul Room, sensing trouble.
"And, don't forget," Pegasus reminded him, "in this realm, it's as real as you are!"
"I can see that," the spirit retorted.
"Oh, I know he looks formidable, but what sort of a threat could he be to you? He has zero attack pointsandzero defense points. Of course, since it's a monster you've never seen before too, you have no way of knowing its hidden secrets! And I have been known to keep a few tricks up my sleeve from time to time, huh Yugi?" Pegasus added coyly, laughing.
"I don't know what secrets your Dark Eyes Illusionist holds," the spirit said with valor, "but I'm certain it's not as harmless as you would like me to believe. I'm sure it's quite dangerous."
"Yuuuugi," Pegasus gushed, drawing out the spirit's partner's name. "You're so suspicious!" He giggled, amused by the waves of irritation his opponent gave off.
The spirit growled and plucked a card from his hand. "I'll lay my Curse of Dragon on the field. Dragon, come forth!" he commanded, with the expertise and mastery Yugi secretly wished he could have. At his words, the beige dragon flew from a wormhole in the shadows and took his place on the field, screeching like a majestic bird.
We've got to keep Pegasus off balance! Yugi encouraged. We've got to keep switching our minds!
Alright, Yugi, the spirit allowed reluctantly, switching with him.
I think Yugi overestimates his mental prowess, Pegasus thought to himself. And underestimates the burden of fighting a duel in the Shadow Realm. "I don't think you have it in you, Yugi-boy," he told the teen condescendingly. "You now have two creatures to maintain: your Curse of Dragon and your Dark Magician."
Yugi groaned quietly, squinting at his monsters. "This is so hard," he croaked, marks of strenuous effort showing on his cheeks. "The strain . . . it hurts . . ." Dots of sweat pooled on his neck and temple as he began to pant again, violently this time. Why were there three Pegasuses, and why was he holding six cards? It's like nothing I've ever felt before,he thought shakily. The whole world . . . is spinning . . .
Yugi, the spirit of the Puzzle said gently, materializing beside him. If this is too much for you, you should let me take over. He watched in concern as the boy's violet eyes went in and out of focus. He wanted nothing more than for him to retreat to his Soul Room and stay there for the remainder of the duel, where it was guaranteed he'd be unharmed, and away from the claws of the Shadow Realm. The spirit felt only a fraction of the stress Yugi was under and felt his heart sink at the fact that it was much, much worse in reality. He sensed Yugi have a moment of consideration.
Gimme a minute. Yugi's tiny hand gripped the space in front of him on the Dueling Arena to keep himself up. He knees were wobbly, like they were made of paper and were slowly being filled with water. Yugi hated his weakness but he knew he couldn't have changed this outcome-he couldn't help it if he was human, no matter how much it frustrated him at that moment. I just want to try to last out the turn,he told the spirit, his body wracked with surges of pain.
Pegasus oversaw the boy's struggles with a cruel smile. He's too young and unskilled to cope with the stress. And communicating with that other spirit splits his concentration even more! His mental and magical abilities will soon be exhausted.
"You're looking a little pale, Yugi," he said nonchalantly, choosing a card from his hand. "Maybe you should give up your Mind Shuffle strategy. Take a breather!"
Yugi peered up from the empty space he'd been staring at to now stare at Pegasus in fear, trembling from head to toe. Disbelief added itself to the hurricane of emotions Yugi was dealing with-how could the man just ignore the pain he was in? And he'd been the cause of it, and obviously held no regret! He acknowledged with clenched teeth that he was possibly gazing at the face of a monster. Or worse-a murderer.
"I can send you back to your world," Pegasus purred. "Anytime you're ready to surrender!"
Yugi moaned, the man's words messing with his pounding head. His heart was thumping much too quickly, and each thump sent a shock of pain through his limbs and chest. He was suddenly reminded of clay and how similar he felt to it-being pressured, squeezed, and pushed from all sides.
Yugi! the spirit cried next to him. For once, Pegasus is telling the truth. Your mind just can't handle the stress of maintaining our monsters. His eyes glinted in worry, despising the sight of the mere child slowly dying before him. He had to convince him-he'd made it his personal duty to protect Yugi since the day Yugi freed him from the Puzzle and showed him the glory of friendship, trust, and mercy. He'd always disliked seeing Yugi in trouble and had accepted the self-appointed job as his guardian with open arms. If he couldn't protect the boy from this, the one low he hadn't anticipated Pegasus to stoop to, he'd never forgive himself.
The relief that Yugi's answer brought almost made the spirit dizzy. O-okay . . . take over . . . for now. They switched, and Yugi felt like the Solar System had been lifted from his shoulders as he resumed spirit form.
The spirit threw every sharp object he could think of at Pegasus with his facial expression. "I'll use my turn to attack with Curse of Dragon!"
At his command, Curse of Dragon swooped into the air and shot toward Dark Eyes Illusionist, cawing savagely.
An impulsive attack, Pegasus noted silently. Precipitated, no doubt, by his concern for little Yugi. But in his rush, he's made a fatal mistake.His closed eyes flicked open as the Millennium Eye glowed with power.
"Your attack activates Dark Eyes Illusionist's . . . special ability," Pegasus claimed as his monster's head did a three-sixty. The eye on its blank face shone bright purple. "Mesmerizing Magic!" Pegasus named the attack.
With a flash of green and black, Curse of Dragon's assault was halted, and the monster stood there, frozen.
"He stopped him!" the spirit muttered in shock.
"To make up for Dark Eyes's nonexistent attack and defense points, I endowed him with a special ability," Pegasus elaborated with confidence. Curse of Dragon got the eye symbol on its chest and was covered in purple crackles. "Dark Eyes Illusionist can use the power of its mesmeric eye to paralyze attacking monsters in their tracks! With such a superb monster at my disposal, what could my next brilliant move be?" While he spoke, Dark Eyes Illusionist's head clicked down and rolled, clucking like a strangled chicken.
"Just play it," the spirit growled, the poison in his voice making even Yugi shrink.
"As you wish." Pegasus revealed his face-down card. "Believe it or not, I'm going to use the Black Illusion Ritual card to sacrifice my incredible Dark Eyes! Has he gone insane, you might ask? Sacrificing a creature who can paralyze any monster I play? No!" he suddenly continued. "I'm merely using this ceremony to create a better monster!"
The spirit watched as the ritual played out on the field, a golden tube sucking in Pegasus's monster.
"I hereby sacrifice Dark Eyes Illusionist!" Pegasus announced. "To summon another spellcaster monster. Yes, there's more! The incredible . . . extraordinary . . . unforgettable creature known only as . . . Relinquished!"
Yugi prided himself in not being afraid of any of the freaky monsters he'd encountered in his day. But the sight of Relinquished struck fright into his heart like nothing he'd ever experienced before. It was huge, gray and blue, and alive, with metal claws, an opening, shriveled shell, and bulging veins. Its chest was a breathing vortex, and a tentacle shot out above the chest to act as a head, it, too, having a lonely, unblinking eye. It seemed to be staring right at Yugi-or at least, that's what he thought. He hated it, but he shrunk back at the monster, biting his lip, despite it having zero attack and defense points.
"Quite a looker, huh?" Pegasus asked.
The spirit met Relinquished's-and Pegasus's-piercing gaze head-on. Yugi could sense no fear emanating from the spirit, and was instantly jealous. "What kind of monster can this be?" the spirit questioned. "I've never seen anything like it."
"I'll show you," Pegasus offered ominously. "By activating its special power! It's even more irresistible than my previous creature."
The gaping lung/chest/mouth part of Relinquished ceased its gasping and suddenly opened wide, sucking in air. Curse of Dragon was caught in the gust, and no matter how much it fought, it was eventually absorbed into the swirling vortex, the lung/chest/mouth popping shut.
"Oh no! My Curse of Dragon!" the spirit cried.
"Gone, but not forgotten," Pegasus jeered.
The spirit growled. "Dark Magician, go now! Attack Relinquished! Dark Magic Attack!"
Yugi's favorite monster rose to the challenge, sending a shockwave of magical energy from his staff at Relinquished.
"Relinquished, activate your defense shield!" Pegasus ordered swiftly.
Relinquished's skeletal shell closed back over itself, and protruding from the shell was Curse of Dragon, trapped. Dark Magician's beam of magic zapped Curse of Dragon.
"Oh no," the spirit realized. "It's using my captured Curse of Dragon as a shield against the attack!"
Curse of Dragon shattered into bits. "The Dark Magician's attack eliminates Curse of Dragon from the game!" Pegasus announced with a smirk. "But since he was your creature, you lose the life points!"
The spirit twitched in frustration as his life points dropped to 400. He didn't think it was healthy to be so mad at so many things at once-Pegasus's tricks, Pegasus's gall, Pegasus's influencing hand, and Pegasus's attempts to put Yugi in danger. And he knew there were more frustrations to come-how were they to win?
"By absorbing its opponent's monsters, Relinquished can use them-and their attack and defense points-against any attacking monster," Pegasus bragged. "Relinquished remains unharmed, while the opponent suffers the damage!" He smirked as the spirit quivered with rage. "Your own attack reduced your own life points. As long as I have Relinquished in play, you're your own worst enemy!" Moments of silence ticked by. "Ooh, how frustrating it must be to be you," Pegasus went on smugly. "You have all these great monsters in your deck, and if you dare play any of them, they'll be used against you!"
"This game's not over yet, Pegasus," the spirit quipped.
"Nope, but it might as well be." Pegasus drew from his deck. "My monster's unstoppable. Watch!" He extended a hand. "I activate Relinquished's hypnotic attraction!"
Familiar purple streaks of energy burst from Relinquished as it hypnotized the Dark Magician. "Try as he might to resist, your Dark Magician will find my spellcaster as irresistible as your dragon did! Like your dragon, he'll soon be mine."
As the first time, Relinquished opened wide and sucked in, and with the force of a tempest, it captured the Dark Magician, vanishing into the swirling vortex.
"No, my Dark Magician!" the spirit shouted in dismay. "It captured him too."
As the mouth popped shut, the Dark Magician reappeared on the shell, trapped as Curse of Dragon was.
The spirit growled lowly. "And now it's turned him into another defense shield."
"That's right, Yugi!" Pegasus chortled. "You're beginning to catch on. And this time, I've got one of your most powerful monsters to use against you . . . not to mention your personal favorite. But in an attack, he'll take your life points all the same. Guess you're not his favorite. Not anymore."
How can I possibly win? the spirit pondered, distraught. Any monster I use will be turned against me, and even if I come up with another strategy, Pegasus will know it instantly.
We can't give up!Yugi's hopeful, determined face swam into view, catching the spirit off guard. We have to Mind Shuffle again long enough for me to play a card and retreat before Pegasus can read my mind. It worked before . . . it'll work again! Yugi wasn't entirely sure what he was proposing-it was very dependent on luck for this turn not to be useless. Plus, deep down, he was terrified-terrified of the Shadow Realm, terrified of Relinquished . . . terrified of Pegasus.
Are you sure you're up to this? the spirit asked carefully. His voice softened. We don't know how long you can last in the Shadow Realm.
I don't have to last long, Yugi replied. Just long enough to pull one last card.
The way Yugi said "last" worried the spirit completely. But if you reach the limits of your endurance, your soul will be shredded. Dispersed in the Shadow Realm for all eternity!
The spirit watched as Yugi put on a brave, selfless face. He gulped, peeked at the shadows that surrounded him, and gulped again. Whatever the risk, I have to take it. For Grandpa's sake. We both have to trust in the Heart of the Cards!
And so, with a blinding shower of light, they switched. Immediately, Yugi felt as if someone had kicked him in the stomach. His cards weighted a thousand pounds each, and he tripped forward, catching himself before he could hit the ground. "I've-I've got to play fast," he mumbled, dark spots under his eyes.
Yugi reached for his deck to draw. His hand, in sync with the rest of his body, trembled like he was freezing.
It's little Yugi, he's back! Pegasus thought. Some people never learn.
Yugi's eyelids were becoming heavy too. He knew he hadn't been sleeping much at all lately, but no way was he sleepy now. Stunning terror bloomed in his chest.I could die. I could really die right now. I'm close to DYING.
But images were born in his mind: Grandpa's soul being whooshed through the TV, his lifeless body collapsing to the floor; Kaiba losing his duel to Pegasus and having blank canvases for eyes; Mokuba being kidnapped to lure Kaiba into Duelist Kingdom.
Pegasus had hurt people, and he had to pay. Being scared wouldn't make him pay.
I've got to have faith in the Heart of the Cards, Yugi thought as fiercely as he could, despite his inner voice even sounding exhausted. Because the next card I pull . . . He swallowed. Might be my last. As his vision blurred and twisted, Yugi started to pray. Please . . . make it one that can defeat Pegasus . . . PLEASE!
Yugi drew the card, peered at it, and nodded. The panic in him calmed down, even though the pain seemed to escalate.It's all up to the spirit of the Millennium Puzzle now.
"Pegasus . . ." Yugi addressed the game creator directly as he made his move. "I play one card face down. And for my last move . . . I throw Feral Imp in defense mode!"
Yugi's voice cracked as he summoned the green demon. Everything felt complete now-he'd done all he could do and more, due to his hidden card. At least now . . . there's one card that Pegasus doesn't know about. Yugi kept his eyes on the miracle card, not wanting to see Pegasus's strength. It made him envious, but not as envious as he was to the spirit, who he secretly idolized. Now maybe we stand a chance.
Hmm, Pegasus considered. If I try to read his mind, they'll just switch again. He held back a grin of triumph. So instead, I'll overtax it, like this! "Relinquished, prepare for attack!" he commanded. "Use the Dark Magician's power!"
Yugi's eyes shot up, overwhelmed. No . . . he's . . . he's actually . . . I-I can't . . .
"Bilford Power Attack! Destroy the Feral Imp!"
A pink and purple orb of power pummeled the Feral Imp, causing it to crack to tiny pieces. The force of the attack blew through Yugi, and he felt like shards of glass were shooting by him. "My Feral Imp!" he cried, and then gave yell of agony.
The spirit of the Puzzle emerged and put his hands on Yugi's shoulders. He stood slightly in front of the boy, trying to protect him from the blast.Yugi! Switch now! Quickly!
But it was too late-Yugi's eyes drooped closed and he went limp.
Yugi? The spirit watched as he fell to his knees. YUGI!
"Spirit . . ." Yugi whispered. "You've got . . . to beat Pegasus."
The spirit gasped in alarm and horror, and Yugi collapsed into his own arms on the dueling platform, cards still in his hand, but gone.