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Shadow Reign

by Lisa Ann McLean

 

This story is dedicated to my daughter, my husband, and any others who may have wanted to see a sequel to The Queen of Hearts.

To be true to the first story, I continued to use the characters and situations that I had initially created.  More specifically, when I had written The Queen of Hearts, I was not aware of a character called "Ryou", and therefore had created my own name for the spirit in the Millennium Ring ("Samekh").  I used that name in this story.

Please note that this is a considerably darker story than The Queen of Hearts.  So, because of this, and because of occasional language, violence and *implied* violence, I have decided to rate it PG-13 right at the off.

Disclaimer:  I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or any of the characters therein (but from the amount of time I spend on these stories, you'd think that I did...)

 

Chapter 1 - Conscious 

"Agony profusely stains the inner thinking of the brain..."
--Skinny Puppy, Assimilate 

Awareness descended in the form of a sharp pain grinding into his hipbone. Rock, he thought muzzily, and tried to move his hand down to dislodge the offending nodule - and found that his arm would not move. 

Pinpricks of feeling began spreading down his spine, through his legs, and through his arms like an unpleasant anointing. He realized that his hands were clenched into tight balls. He tried to unclench them, but just the effort involved started a wave of shaking through every limb. Then a strangled cry of pain wrenched itself out of his throat as every over-fatigued muscle in his body squeezed itself into spasm. 

It seemed like he had laid there for a long time, his body nothing more than a quivering bundle of agony, before finally - one by one - his muscles began to untwist themselves, and his mind was able to focus on something other than the pain. Something like where exactly he was. He became aware of the sharp smells of earth, sweat and blood penetrating into his brain. Remembering his fists, he once again slowly tried to unclench them. They were sticky. 

He decided to try to open his eyes. Squinting, careful, he allowed only narrow slits at first, which proved useless as he saw only blurred shades of darkness. Widening his field of vision slightly, he tried to sort through the shadows - still blurry - that shifted eerily in front of his eyes. He was lying front side down on the ground, one cheek pressed against mossy, prickly grass. He blinked, hoping to clear his vision, hoping that he wouldn't have to shake his head - which was pounding rhythmically in time with his rapidly increasing pulse. 

It was another lengthy interval before he braved an attempt at sitting up. Pushing up with his still trembling arms, he swayed a moment on all fours before he gently swung his rump down to the grassy earth, and just sat there, chin to chest, his creamy blonde hair hanging in stringy tassels around his face. 

Okay, he thought, where am I...? 

He tried to make some sense of the jumble of thoughts flying in his head, tried to remember why, exactly, he was lying here in the dark... on the grass... 

Slowly he raised his head from his chest, trying to survey the area around him, which was difficult since it kept blearing in and out of focus. It looked like he was surrounded by... trees. Trees - shifting and moving in a night breeze. Moving. And whispering... whispering... 

He closed his eyes abruptly against the tears that were suddenly stinging them with unwanted harshness. He didn't like the whispering. It reminded him too much of voices... 

He brought his cold fingers to his eyes and pressed against them until the stinging subsided. Opening his eyes, the first things he saw were his own hands - which looked to be covered with something dark... 

As he stared at his dark, sticky hands, a horrible, black something began to grow somewhere around the base of his stomach. 

A faint buzzing and ticking disturbed the dead night air, and a street lamp behind him and to his left first flickered, then burst into luminescence. He could see more clearly around himself now, and he saw the disturbance of the ground around him - a large circle drawn in the earth. Shaking, heart pounding, he bent to smell it... 

The rank smell of blood filled his nostrils. 

Gagging, he sat up and smelled his hands. 

Blood. Again. 

Horrified, he recoiled, and his eyes dropped to his clothes. They, too, were streaked and smeared with dark. 

Blood. I'm covered with blood... 

He began to gasp great gulps of air in rapid succession, which didn't seem to help him at all. Something was pressing down on both his head and his chest at the same time with alarming force. The black something inside him lurched and turned his stomach with such violence that he threw up. 

Oh god... what did I do...? 

He stared wildly around him, around the clearing and the bushes surrounding him, looking - but afraid to see - for something: a body, a knife, anything... 

But there was nothing. 

Then he changed his mind. He didn't want to see. He closed his eyes. He felt dizzy. And weak. And terribly, terribly afraid... 

He just wanted to go home... 

Maybe it's nothing, he told himself. He had blacked out before. Nothing had ever happened. No one had ever died. Maybe you were just helping someone. Someone in trouble. Maybe... 

But the horrible, twisting fear never left. 

Have to stand up. Have to get out of here. 

Gritting his teeth, he pulled his legs under him and stood. A rush of stars showered in front of his eyes, and everything tilted. He stumbled, fell to his knees. 

Get up, damn it. Get up... 

Again, he dragged himself to his feet. This time, he kept his balance through the dizzying rush of blood and stars, and was still standing when it passed. He took a few steps, and remembered that he didn't know where to go... 

...then he felt a tug around his neck, heard the voice again... 

His heart began to race, and he fought the tears behind his eyes. Please... not again..

But the voice didn't overpower him this time. It only told him one thing: Park. 

And it stopped. 

He looked around him. Of course. This was the park. In fact, he used to come to this very clearing all the time when he was a kid. He used to play here with... 

He closed his eyes. That was so long ago. Things were so much simpler then... 

It didn't matter anyway, he thought. He knew the way home from here. He would go home. He would put his clothes in the garbage. He didn't have to tell his mom anything; he didn't have to tell anyone. Then it would be over... 

...and maybe, maybe this wouldn't happen again. Maybe it would be the last time... 

With the shifting, furtive eyes of a fugitive, he melted into the protective shadows of the trees. 

* * *

 

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