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Chapter 13 - Game

"Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there..."
--Loreena McKennitt, The Mummer's Dance

I... we have to summon, Yugi. We can't withstand a direct attack...

Yami's thought was a blur to Yugi as he rallied against the pain screaming through wounds he could not see. He pushed himself up from the floor, squinted up at Bakura, and followed the night-black eyes. But they were not looking at him...

Wait, he thought, I don't think he's attacking us...

Then he caught the movement to his left and whirled around in time to see Téa recklessly intercept the soul-sword that Samekh had intended for Cora - saw it swing down and impale itself into her shoulder at the base of her neck.

"TÉA!"

Yami felt Yugi's anguish-filled scream thunder through his heart, sparking an anger more potent than any he could remember. Samekh, he thought, glaring lethally through Yugi's eyes at the nemesis before him, you will pay for this...

Samekh's furious stare fell balefully on Téa, hunched over Cora with the Soul Sword embedded in her shoulder.

"Well, Yugi, it looks like I'm taking care of your annoying little friend sooner than I thought," Samekh growled through Bakura's lips. "How about I just finish the job?"

Bakura's hands drew together, and the black, static energy sparked between them. "Seki!" he shrieked, flinging the power towards Téa.

Fuelled by the rage of two souls, Yami dragged Yugi's body to its feet, ignoring the pain slicing through him like hot knives as he rose. Once more, Yami's words burned across Yugi's mind.

"A'nen," he cried them out, "Ryu-Kishin!"

Yugi felt a tug from somewhere deep inside him, as though something was pulling on an invisible rope. Then, like a deadly flower, a massive, red gargoyle-like creature with sharp, pointed teeth bloomed out of the ground in front of him. Leaping upwards, it flung itself in front of the black power streaming towards Téa. The sound of the power striking its heart was drowned out by its scream as it absorbed the full impact of the fatal spell, and exploded into sawdust.

The tug inside Yugi backfired sharply at the destruction, sending the air rushing out of his lungs and Yugi doubled over as though he had just been punched in the stomach. There was a ripple of concern from Yami, but Yugi vehemently pushed it down

I can do this, he snarled both to himself and to Yami, as he drew his protesting body upright. I can do this...

Samekh's eyes flew to Yugi.

"I see I'm going to have to attend you first. Good idea, Yami," Samekh sneered. "Let's play. Bring back old times, eh? Didn't your little host at one time play with this miserable, pathetic little brat? Didn't he? A'nen, Dark Warrior of Fiend!"

"A'nen," Yugi cried out in defiant response, "Shadow Ghoul!"

As a many-eyed green monster exploded into existence before Yugi, Samekh's shrill cry keened over the thunder of its nascence.

"Attack!" it commanded.

Too soon! Our Shadow Ghoul won't stand the attack, Yugi! Yami's thought erupted into Yugi's consciousness. Strengthen...!

The word to strengthen was Yugi's as soon as Yami conceived it, and by the time his monster had fully emerged into terrifying substance, Yugi had cried: "Nekhet!", and the full power of magic alone surrounded his Shadow Ghoul like a shield. Samekh's attack exploded around it in futile pyrotechnics.

But Yugi learned very quickly that it was easier to summon a stronger monster than it was to strengthen a weaker one with his magic, for although his monster withstood the attack of the Dark Warrior, every one of Cora's shadow-wounds roared pain through his body at the impact, and he felt as though he had lost a piece of himself.

Yugi...

Yugi forced his body to straighten out of the ball it had become. Just... never mind...

It's your body, Yugi... the stress...

I said never mind my body! I can handle it...!

Yami's warnings sank into troubled silence. Yugi glared up at Samekh. Samekh, eyes blazing with hatred at his attack being thwarted, drew his hands together, summoning a reckless power.

"Seseh!" he screamed.

The entire building shook, and Samekh's own monster was abruptly engulfed in a blinding sphere of blue-white fire, destroying it in an instant. But the destruction did not stop with Samekh's creature. In fact, the Dark Warrior seemed to feed the fireball, and it expanded and grew until it had engulfed the Shadow Ghoul as well. There was a resounding death cry that rose above the thundering flames. Only then did the fireball finally dissipate.

Blinking in the absence of the glaring fire, Yugi waited for his eyes to readjust to the dark. He didn't need to see, however, to know that his monster was gone. The feeling that he had just been tackled was enough to announce its demise. That, and the sharp stabs of pain coming from the wounds that Cora bore.

"Look at yourself," Samekh sneered from the opposite side of the room. "Is it worth it, Yami? Is it worth sapping half your strength to keep that little witch of yours alive? You know," - Samekh adopted a silky timbre - "you should really give this whole thing up. I don't think you've got it in you anymore."

Yami pulled Yugi's posture upright once more. "I took you down once, Samekh," Yami resonated his response through the room. "I will take you down again."

"Luck, Yami," Samekh's snakelike hiss came in reply. "You don't stand a chance against me now. This time, I think, you will be going down. You and that pathetic wench of yours."

"Try it," Yami threatened.

"Oh, I will do more than try, Yami," Samekh smiled wickedly. "Much, much more."


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