the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="skyla_doragono"> (Yu-Gi-Oh! Ancient Egypt fics)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: Matarab leena ahbaab (Return our loved ones to us)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Pairings: Yuumeishipping ('yami' x 'hikari')
Genre: (AU) supernatural, romance
Warnings: sappy angst and melodrama.
Summary: Bakura Ryou, renowned archaeologist, has followed into the footsteps of his father, working for the government at an excavation site in Egypt. After discovering the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh, Ryou, together with his good friend Yugi and the local guide Malik, is suddenly pulled into a series of events that will change his life forever.

Key: ----- = scene change



----------------------------



Yuugi’s breathing was erratic. His heart pounded in his chest and he was overcome with fear as he watched his legs disappear, as if someone was wiping out the writing on a school’s chalk board with an eraser. Strangely enough, he didn’t feel any physical pain, but he had no illusions what was happening to him: he was going to die. If he didn’t solve this riddle in time, he would be gone forever, with no remains to be found! Only his backpack would be a morbid testimony to his presence here.

Yuugi tried to calm himself down, gasping and panting, his mind frantically searching for the solution. He had activated this ‘game of shadows’, he was the only one to blame! He had to solve this riddle, fast! To reach those flames in the distance, he had to construct a bridge to cross the abyss. He had picked up the Earth symbol first as it had been the most logical choice: a bridge made from Earth, sturdy and firm. Ignoring the ticking sound, Yuugi put the Earth symbol in the leftmost slot, in front of Air, leaving him with Water and Fire. What kind of sequence did they need to be put in? He shoved the symbols around.

Water and Fire as elements to create a bridge of Earth, but what was the significance of Air? A bridge of Air perhaps, leaving Earth, Fire and Water in its wake? Transcending the other elements? He shivered uncontrollably. He didn’t dare to look down and see how far his body had disappeared. Frustrated, panicked and afraid, Yuugi’s eyes started to water. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to disappear into nothingness! If the rescue team ever managed to make it down here, they would only find his backpack and the burnt-out glow sticks. They would probably assume he had fallen down the abyss… Yuugi swallowed. A bridge made of Water perhaps, supported by Air and Earth, but where did Fire came in? What was the sequence? If only he had one more clue!

He rubbed brusquely at his face to wipe away the tears. As long as he hadn’t drawn his last breath, he had to try to solve this! A bridge of Fire… he put the corresponding symbol first… Fire cooled off by Water and Air, shaping the Earth element? The ticking got louder and in a moment of weakness, Yuugi looked down and screamed. Both his legs were gone. Fear froze his heart. He was running out of time fast! Water to cool the burning bridge… he slammed the Water symbol down, followed by Air; Air like the wind, breathing down the elements, calming them down and shaping them into Earth. Nothing happened. Yuugi’s hands shook so hard that he pressed them against his chest, as if he could stop his heart from beating so loud. This wasn’t the right sequence.

The ticking continued, every second eating away at his life. So many combinations were possible. Yuugi frowned. He hadn’t studied Ancient Egypt like Ryou, but he knew more than enough about Pharaohs to pass for a seasoned archaeologist. He was approaching this riddle all wrong. A Pharaoh was a son of the Gods. A son of Ra, the God of the Sun. Sun was Fire. Fire in the first slot had to be correct. But then… to construct a bridge, you needed Earth. Yuugi’s breathing was beyond erratic. One didn’t approach the Pharaoh with a stone or Earth bridge. You had to approach him with respect, with reverence. Always with your left foot forward, on an invisible bridge… to walk up to the son of the Gods with the right amount of dignity and elegance. Air! He had mistakenly put Earth as the last symbol, but it had to be Air! Fire-Water-Earth-Air!

Yuugi switched the symbols around and the ticking noise stopped. The silence was so deafening that it took him a while to realize that the only sound was his own breathing, harsh and hitching in his throat. He dared to look down once more and when he saw his legs and feet he let out a wail of relief and shock. He curled up into a fetal position. He didn’t know how long he lied in that position, but his legs started to feel all cramped up. Yuugi had never thought that he’d welcome the feeling of cramp in his legs; right now he was just so relieved that he still had all his limbs. He slowly uncurled himself and stretched his legs.

His curiosity got the better of him at last. If he had truly solved the riddle, would there be a bridge so he could reach the flames? Very carefully, he looked over the edge of the abyss. Nothing. He waved his glow stick around. Still nothing. Wait… with Air was the last symbol, the bridge would be invisible, of course. You couldn’t see Air; that had been the whole trick. Yuugi took a handful of sand and pebbles and threw it into the distance. The pebbles clattered upon the bridge, the sand sliding over the material, revealing its edges. There it was! It wasn’t very wide, but a bridge nonetheless! Yuugi marveled at the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the Ancient Egyptians. But no matter how advanced their technology was for their era and culture, even they couldn’t construct invisible bridges, could they?

He threw another hand of pebbles and sand on the bridge. It looked solid enough. No, he wasn’t thinking of actually… crossing it, was he? Yuugi shivered once more, despite wearing his vest. He had never been this curious before. His usual place was behind Ryou, and he was content to be his assistant, staying safely in the background. This certainly was a strange moment to be this curious and to act upon it, as if he was compelled to… because of the voice he had heard earlier? Yuugi had no idea how long he’d been underground, his watch had stopped working ever since he had fallen down. He had no idea if and when a rescue team came searching for him. He felt incredibly alone. What did he have to lose? The flames in the distance tempted him, luring him in with their warmth. He decided to do it, but it seemed like the decision had already been taken for him, the moment he had ventured deeper into this tomb.

Very carefully, Yuugi lowered himself upon the bridge; it was as solid as Earth. It was quite eerie to not see exactly where he was going. Talking about a leap of faith! Step by step, searching with his feet, Yuugi moved forward, holding the glow stick as close to the ground as possible. He walked like an ancient old man all hunched over and he tried to ignore the pain in his back, eyes fixed on the floor. Still, his precautions didn’t warn him for the sudden narrow part in the bridge and he stumbled and lost his footing. Yuugi fell from the bridge, dropping the glow stick as he cried out.

He sank into he darkness and he flailed with his arms in a last ditch effort to grab a hold of the bridge. He grabbed the sharp edge with his left hand, dangling precariously. With all the strength he could muster, Yuugi brought up his other hand and hung from the edge. Adrenaline pumped through his veins. How was he ever able to pull himself up? He lacked the physical strength and he could already feel the strain on his hands, his fingers slipping from the smooth, sharp edge. He was going to fall. He was going to die after having come so far.

He was paralyzed by fear. The darkness all around him, the never-ending abyss below him… solving the riddle had been scary as his body was disappearing, but it was nothing compared to the fear he was feeling right now. If I have to die, please, let it be quick and painless… All of the sudden, a warm light washed over him. A gentle light, illuminating a large part of the bridge. Yuugi gasped. What was going on? Had the rescue team arrived? The light, it was so comfortable, so warm, he didn’t even need to shield his eyes. He wanted to know where the light came from, but he slipped further away from the edge. Yuugi heard something. Footsteps. Someone was approaching him. Another surge of relief went through him. He was right, it had to be the rescue team! He was safe!

Craning his neck, he looked up. The light was interrupted by a shadow, cast by the one who approached him. Yuugi opened his mouth to speak, to yell out something like
“Help! I’m right here!” but the words died on his lips. The person standing in front of him looked like him. Was he hallucinating? Why did he see himself? No… it wasn’t like that. Yuugi’s throat ran dry. Wearing a long, purple cape that stressed his tan figure, dressed in traditional Ancient Egyptian garb combined with golden bracers, the person knelt down on the bridge, reaching for him.

“I have been waiting for you,” he said, smiling. Yuugi knew that he had to be the Pharaoh, the golden, bejeweled crown in his hair a dead giveaway of his identity. Without hesitation, Yuugi let go with his right hand and reached for the Pharaoh in return. Their hands clasped and a shock went through Yuugi: so warm, so familiar, so trusted... every bit of fear and anxiety went away as soon as their hands touched. It was such a wonderful experience, that he could cry tears of joy. The warmth disappeared the next second and the light was gone.

Confused and disappointed, Yuugi looked around, finding himself lying down on his stomach, the glow stick in front of him, petering out. He was back on the bridge! He tilted his head from left to right. Where had the other gone to? The Pharaoh? He was the same one who had spoken to him - Yuugi had recognized the timbre and depth of his voice immediately. He didn’t dare to move a muscle, afraid he was going to fall off again. It took him a long time to gather his bearings and work up the courage to start moving after all. Just to be sure, he crept along the bridge on his stomach, keeping his hands close to the edge so he knew how much space he had left.

After what seemed like forever, Yuugi reached the end and carefully, very carefully he positioned himself first on his knees, before raising his arms and feeling around if he could pull himself up. He was exhausted, but Yuugi wanted to continue. He didn’t wonder where his strength was coming from, he simply forced himself to do this. He wanted to know, he wanted to see…! Finally, Yuugi was on solid ground again and he rolled over. Now he was in front of the two burning flames that had lured him from the distance.

The soft, gentle flames flanked a golden box, placed on a pedestal. The golden box was intricately carved, with a set of hieroglyphs close to the bottom. A stylized Eye of Wdjat was on the front, not on the heavy looking lid. Yuugi stepped up to the pedestal and before he knew it, his hands were around the box. His fingers crept up to the lid, trying to move it.

“What kind of box is this?” he said, breathlessly. Putting some more effort in it, he lifted up the lid, amazed at its weight. He peeked inside, noticing a bunch of weirdly shaped golden pieces. What kind of tomb was this? No sarcophagus, no death mask, no shrine, but a golden… puzzle box? This had to be a gift to the Gods, a gift from the Pharaoh to get into the afterlife, right? Or was it a gift from his people, to honor this beloved, but nameless Pharaoh?

He reached into the box and took out two pieces. Fascinated, he tried to match them together, intrigued by its design and pattern. Yes, it had to be a puzzle! He took out a third piece and continued his attempt to put them together. A sudden urge overwhelmed him. He wanted to solve this puzzle, he and he alone. A wave of possessiveness took hold of him. Yuugi had always shared, always obeyed, always played by the rules. He was well aware of the fact that each and every discovery had to be notified to the Egyptian Bureau of Antiquities. He’d have to photograph and document the puzzle box, and hand it over to the authorities. The thought to be separated from this magnificent artifact made his skin crawl and stomach turn upside down. He wanted to keep it for himself, he wanted to have this, it was his! Yuugi returned the pieces to their rightful place and put the lid back on. He lifted the box up from the pedestal.

“Yuugi! Yuugi, where are you? Are you here?”

He almost dropped the priceless artifact. A gut-wrenching shock of embarrassment went through him. What was he even thinking? Yuugi looked over his shoulder. In the far distance he could see flashlights dancing all over, and his name was called out again, echoing through the hallway. It was only a matter of seconds. He opened up his backpack, a lot emptier without his vest, bottled water and glow sticks, and he picked up the puzzle box and shoved it inside. He closed his backpack and slung it over his shoulder, the weight pressing against his back.

“Stop! Wait!” He hollered. “Watch out for the abyss!”

“Yuugi! Yuugi, is that you?”

As if there’s anyone else around, Yuugi thought with a grimace. “Yes, it’s me!”

More lights, someone was carrying a huge electrical torch.

“Yuugi! How did you get all the way over there?”

A beam of light shone right in his face and Yuugi squinted. He had recognized Jounouchi’s voice and nonetheless, he felt relieved. “I solved an ancient riddle,” he said. “There’s an invisible bridge. Wait, I’ll cross it.”

“What the… be careful!”

Yuugi made sure to test if the bridge was still there before he stepped on it; he threw another handful of sand on it. Just as careful as before, he lowered himself on the bridge and step by step, he crossed to the other side, reminding himself that there was a small part in the middle. He didn’t think the Pharaoh would come to save him a second time around. Inch by inch, Yuugi progressed towards Jounouchi and the rescue team, who looked on with growing curiosity. As soon as Yuugi put his foot on the smaller part of the bridge, it started to shake. He cried out.

“Yuugi!”

“Help!” Yuugi barely kept his balance. The bridge shook and rumbled, it was dissolving under his very feet!

“Grab the rope!” Jounouchi threw a heavy rope to him. “Put it around you with the safety clip! Quick!”

Yuugi caught the rope and stared at it dumbfounded, until he saw the black, metal clip on the end of the rope. He put the rope around his waist and attached it to the metal hook, adjusting it like a seatbelt. He was scared out of his wits. This was happening because he had removed the golden box, wasn’t it?

“Jounouchi-san!” He cried out as the bridge ceased to exist and there was nothing under his feet but the never-ending darkness. He let out an inhuman scream as he fell, totally forgetting about the rope he just had attached around himself.

“Hold on!” A firm tug on the rope showed Yuugi that he wasn’t falling to his death, but Jounouchi couldn’t avoid him slamming into the rock wall. Yuugi was dangling from the rope like a fish caught on a hook.

“Get me out of here!” He cried, as he was staring into the dark depths of the abyss. He wanted to get out of here, right now. His heart couldn’t take no more.

“We’re going to pull you up!”

“Hurry!”

With combined strength and effort, Yuugi was pulled up and he stretched out his arms as soon as he saw Jounouchi, almost begging like a baby to be held. Jounouchi knelt down to grab him by the arms and pulled him up for the last few inches. Yuugi held onto him, all but crawling into his arms, panting and breathing erratically once again.

“I’ve got you.” Jounouchi wasn’t disturbed by how Yuugi clung to him. He patted him on the shoulders. “Are you all right? You didn't break anything?”

“I’m so glad to see you! You too, Honda-san,” Yuugi said. Honda popped up next to Jounouchi, carrying an electric torch with enough brightness to wake the dead. Yuugi shivered at that thought. “I’m fine,” he answered Jounouchi’s question, a little too fast. The weight in his backpack pressed down heavily on him. He had never taken anything from an excavation site before. The golden puzzle box was far too special to let it fall into other people’s hands.

“Let’s get you topside as quickly as possible,” Honda said.

“Ryou-kun? Malik-kun?”

“Both safe and sound,” Jounouchi answered. “You scared us to death, though! Malik said that he saw you fall through the floor and we couldn’t find a trapdoor. We’d lost all communication with you and when we ventured deeper into this tomb, it was so dark and eerie. It took us a very long time to set up the lights. It’s a good thing we found Malik first, he’s injured.”

“Injured? Oh no! What happened to him?”

“I don’t know. He has cuts all over his hands and arms,” Jounouchi said. “It looks like the poor guy tried to crawl his way back out.”

Yuugi felt sorry for his friend and guide. “Ryou-kun?”

“Hypothermic, but he’s fine now. Scared too, and very worried about you. We couldn’t find you and had to dig a way through the rock.”

“You destroyed a centuries old tomb to just find me?” Yuugi said.

“Hey, sorry about saving your life,” Jounouchi gave back, though he didn’t sound angry. He recognized Yuugi’s archaeological heart speaking.

“Malik wasn’t happy with the bright lights either,” Honda said.

“Of course not! Intense light destroys the colors of the beautiful paintings on the wall!” Yuugi gasped, then coughed, blushing furiously. “I’m sorry. I… it’s the emotions,” he finished lamely. His eyes traveled to the floor with the mosaic; the element symbols were still in place and Honda was standing on top of it. The other rescue workers were traipsing around with the industrial-strength lights and Yuugi cringed at their every move.

“Are you all right?” Jounouchi asked again. “Do you want me to carry your backpack?”

“No no, I’m fine,” Yuugi repeated. “I’m just freezing, that’s all.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Jounouchi said. “Sorry it took us so long, but like I said, we had to drill through an entire layer of rock and stone. We wanted to get to you as fast as we could.”

“It’s all right, Jounouchi-kun, thank you.” After saving his life, Jounouchi deserved to be addressed with -‘kun’. Even though the KaibaCorp. employee didn’t use honorifics himself, Yuugi could see that he was quite pleased to be promoted from -‘san’ to -‘kun’. Exhaustion claimed his body. He had narrowly escaped death three times in a short amount of time; the riddle, the bridge and the bridge collapsing… he was at his limits and it seemed like his body realized it as well; pain traveled through him, a sore ache that made it difficult for him to walk.

Jounouchi and Honda supported him all the way back and with their encouragement, he made it up the rope ladder. He had no strength left and he stumbled out of the tomb, falling on his knees in the sand. When the sun hit his face, Yuugi smiled brilliantly. He had always had trouble with the intense heat, but now he wanted to embrace it, submerge into it! Both Honda and Jounouchi reacted shocked when they saw Yuugi in the sunlight.

“Yuugi, your face!”

“You need to see Fatima,” Honda urged him. She was one of the few women in the base camp and a fully trained nurse.

“I want to see Malik-kun and Ryou-kun first,” Yuugi shook his head stubbornly. The words had barely left his mouth or his name was being called.

“Yuugi-kun! I’m so glad to see you! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!” Like a whirlwind, Ryou jumped at him and took him in a bear hug, overcome with happiness to see his best friend alive and well again. “It was my fault! If I hadn’t touched those walls…”

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Yuugi said, enjoying the awkward hug nonetheless. Ryou couldn’t get his arms around him due to the volume of his backpack. He blushed. If Ryou put his hands a little lower, he would’ve touched the square shape of the golden puzzle box…

“You look awful,” Ryou said. “Malik-kun told me that you fell through the floor…”

“Is he all right?”

“Cuts all over his hands and arms,” Ryou said, confirming Jounouchi's earlier words. “He was very upset. I wanted to send him to base camp, but he didn’t want to leave. I gave him some tea with a mild sedative. He’s asleep for now.”

“You’re not going to leave either,” Yuugi concluded.

“Are you kidding? This is the greatest discovery since Tutankhamen! The palace of the long forgotten Pharaoh - what we saw, was just the beginning!”

“I think it’s a tomb,” Yuugi said. “We saw the paintings from the Book of the Dead.”

“But we didn’t see a sarcophagus,” Ryou objected. “There’s so much work to do, so much to uncover! We…” He went silent, his eyes filling with shame. “I’m so sorry. It looks like I, the one who caused all this, got off with the least injuries. You look haggard, Yuugi-kun. You’re bruised from the fall.”

“I’m hurting all over,” he admitted.

“You’re not going to base camp either, are you?”

“No, I’d like to stay here.”

“Then I’ll send for Fatima. If we don’t go to her, she can come to us.”

“Sounds good to me,” Jounouchi spoke up and the two turned their heads around, startled. They had totally forgotten about him and Honda. “You need to be checked out.”

“I’ll take Mahmoud with me,” Honda said. “He’s not as good a guide as Malik, but he knows the way to base camp.”

“All right. I’ll stay here, just in case.” Jounouchi grinned at them. “I guess congratulations are in order? It’s a great discovery, even after everything that has happened.”

“You can inform Kaiba,” Ryou nodded, “it’s impossible to keep this under wraps. Soon, the entire world press will be here!”

“We should beef up security,” Jounouchi rubbed his chin. “Maybe Kaiba himself will come over to take a look.”

“All I want is to give the nameless Pharaoh his name back,” Yuugi said.

Ryou threw an arm around him. “You can barely stand up. You need rest. Let’s get you comfortable while we wait for Fatima. And take off that heavy backpack, you’re all hunched over.”

“Y-yeah.” Yuugi blushed at Ryou’s mention of the heavy backpack. His fingers curled themselves tightly around the straps and he followed Ryou to the tent, his thoughts drifting off to something else. When Ryou had hugged him in his enthusiasm, he had pressed himself against Yuugi and he had felt something solid, a circular shape, against Ryou’s chest. Was he wearing a pendant? He didn’t know his friend even possessed something as large as this, and Ryou wasn’t prone to wear pendants. What could it be? He was too tired to give it any further thought. He stumbled into the tent and found himself a spot to lie down, his arms protectively around his backpack.


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