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



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


Desert nights were cold, so very cold. He couldn’t care less. His body felt frozen and his heart was like a clump of ice but he remained standing, as if rebelling against the chilly temperatures. How long had it been since he had actually seen the night sky? Two thousand, three thousand years? He looked at his hands. Soft, weak, pale flesh, yet solid. His hands. Amazing. He stared up at the sky again. It was dark, obviously, but the many stars created a touch of light that was almost awe-inducing. Yes, it had been a very long time since he’d seen anything as beautiful as this.

“Sahib Bakura, what are you doing here, so late at night?”

The voice rang a bell. He turned towards the man and a name popped up in his mind. “Mahmoud,” he said.

“The tomb is well protected, sahib,” Mahmoud said. “I left Fatih and Youssef at the entrance. Word of the discovery is already spreading fast.”

He tilted his head and stared blankly at him, his eyes slightly narrowed. Mahmoud fidgeted.

“Don’t you remember, sahib? That man, who you call ‘Kaiba-sama’, will be arriving tomorrow.” He kept staring while he dug through his memories. Ah yes, Kaiba Seto himself was coming. No, that’s not good. We must keep people away from the tomb. From us.

Ryou blinked and showed Mahmoud a friendly smile. “Of course I remember. Jounouchi-kun should be in Cairo right now, picking him up from the airport.” He shivered. “I’m freezing!”

“You only wear a shirt and a thin jacket, sahib.” Mahmoud shook his head, relieved that he acted normal again. “It’s not like you to be out at this time of hour.”

“No, true.” Ryou shivered once more. What was he doing here? He was supposed to be in bed! “I wanted to look at the stars,” he said. It wasn’t a lie. He loved the Egyptian nights, despite the cold. “Have you seen Yuugi, by any chance?”

“Sahib Yuugi went to bed earlier,” Mahmoud answered. A silence fell. He looked like he wanted to say more and Ryou waited for him to speak up, but no more words spilled over his lips. After another minute of silence, Ryou asked: “Is there something you wanted to say to me, Mahmoud?”

“It’s nothing,” Mahmoud quickly replied. He coughed and nervously moved his arms around, plucking at his robes. “Sahib Yuugi wasn’t looking very well.”

“He’s battered and bruised from his fall,” Ryou said, the guilt immediately gnawing at the back of his mind. He had endangered the life of his best friend, and he was never going to forgive himself. “He needs some rest to recover.”

“Something came with him when he left the tomb,” Mahmoud blurted out. His voice rose in volume and he quickly put his hand over his mouth. There was no one around to overhear them, but he lowered his head, embarrassed.

“What do you mean, ‘something came with him’?” Ryou demanded to know.

“Darkness, sahib,” Mahmoud said. “Something dark.”

He arched an eyebrow. “I hired you for your expertise, Mahmoud, not for spouting superstitious nonsense at me. What are you talking about?”

“The tomb. We’ve desecrated the holy rest of the Pharaoh! Now darkness will come after us!”

“Keep your voice down!” Ryou was taken aback by the volume of his own voice. “Mahmoud, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you. I don’t understand why you’re so upset. You’ve been at excavations before, your experience…”

“This isn’t like any other excavation, sahib.” Mahmoud’s eyes darted from left to right and back again. “Something dark came with sahib Yuugi. Something evil came with sahib Malik. Something…. malicious came with you.”

“I don’t believe in curses,” Ryou said. He’d been interested in the occult since he was young, but his love for Ancient Egypt had put that hobby on the backburner. Still, for the most occult occurrences, there was a good and solid explanation. The curse of the Pharaoh however, or any curse, was just superstition and he had always refused to believe it.

Mahmoud looked devastated. “This isn’t about a curse, sahib. I’m afraid to tell you.”

“Tell me what you know.” Ryou’s voice took a commanding tone. “I’m your boss. Tell me, Mahmoud.”

“The Pharaoh has no name,” Mahmoud squeaked.

“So? We’ll identify him as soon as we have recovered and catalogued his belongings. Yuugi is excellent at identifying objects. From there, we can derive his name.”

“No, you don’t understand. The Pharaoh has no name because he was buried without one. It was stricken from the records before he entered his tomb!”

Ryou finally caught on. “Yes, that was a severe punishment. It meant he was denied the afterlife… so you’re saying that because he was buried without his name, this Pharaoh was evil?”

“The entire tomb must be filled up with concrete and buried under tons of sand,” Mahmoud said heatedly. “You know where my experience comes from, sahib. I’ve seen many tombs and this one is infernal!”

“You’re exaggerating.” Ryou tried to calm the other man down. “I won’t close off the tomb, have you gone insane? The discovery of the century, of a lifetime, and you’re demanding to fill it up with concrete?”

“If need be, I’ll beg you,” Mahmoud said. He moved his right arm behind his back. Ryou stared at him.

Beg me? You’re out of your mind. We’ll go to bed and talk about this in the morning.”

“There’s no time!” Mahmoud suddenly swung his right arm forward, revealing a curved blade in his hand. Ryou calmly leaned back and grabbed the man’s wrist with such a forceful grip that he could hear the bones grind against each other. With a short cry, Mahmoud dropped the blade.
“Sahib!”

“You’ve threatened me,” he answered calmly. “I can’t allow you to get away with that. You should’ve been more careful.”

“Sahib, please..!”

He grinned. A glowing circle appeared on his chest. Mahmoud’s eyes went wide in disbelief. “You have to tell me where you’ve got that knowledge from. I know you’re a former grave robber, caught while smuggling artifacts from Deir el-Medina. Faced with prison, you turned straight and worked for the Bureau of Antiquities ever since. What gives, Mahmoud? You couldn’t part with your old ways after all? Did you want to steal the treasures of the Pharaoh and keep them for yourself?”

“N-no, sahib, honest, no!” His face was grotesquely distorted in fear. “I… ever since the permit for this excavation was given, I made sure to be included in the group of workers. I knew from the start that something would go wrong as soon as the tomb was found!”

“Interesting. Tell me about Yuugi,” he hissed. “Who is with him? Is it the Pharaoh? Has he awoken yet?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mahmoud breathed heavily, fighting against the pain. A high-pitched chime resonated through the desert. Mahmoud’s eyes went even wider as the golden circle changed and five prongs became visible. “I was only curious! I wanted to know why the Pharaoh was buried without a name. And… and maybe earn some extra money with the knowledge!”

“Once a thief, always a thief.” His grin turned wider, almost bizarre. “In that case, we should shake hands. I’m a thief and a stealer of souls, Mahmoud. You know too much. I can’t have that weak little vessel know yet that the Pharaoh has attached himself to him. I need time.”

“Sahib, please!” Mahmoud tried to pull himself free, but the grip on his wrist was too tight. He groaned in pain. “Let me go, please..! I’ll leave, I’ll never speak of this..!”

“I’m sure you won’t,” he answered and pulled the man brusquely towards him, as if he wanted to take him into a hug. The prongs on the circle sprang upwards, the end tips sharp and merciless. Mahmoud didn’t have the time to realize what was happening when they embedded themselves in his chest, piercing muscle and tissue. The Egyptian gasped, voice hitching in his throat as incredible pain seared through his body. His heart beat wildly against his chest until it stopped from one beat to another, the stress and the pain too great to bear. With a soft gasp, a small trickle of blood dripping from the corner of his mouth along his chin, he sank onto his knees. His body detached itself from the Ring, the prongs smeared with blood. Mahmoud fell with a thud onto the sand. A few spatters of blood, in a neat circle, were visible on the front of his robes. The curved blade he dropped earlier lied next to his face, his eyes glazed over. A soft chuckle was the only sound in the cold, empty night.


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



Yuugi woke up, his head a lot clearer and his body a lot more energetic. He rolled out of his sleeping bag and checked his watch. It was late in the morning! Why had nobody called him for breakfast? Yuugi opened up his compartment and stepped out. The workers usually put a jug of fresh water in the tent for a quick fresh-up, but this jug was empty. Yuugi frowned. Had everyone left for base camp? He got dressed and out of habit, looked at Ryou’s compartment. From the looks of the shadows and light through the fabric, his friend was still asleep.

“Ryou-kun, wake up!” Yuugi said. “We’re late! Kaiba-kun is coming over today, we have to prepare ourselves!”

“Wazthat?” Something unintelligible came through the fabric.

“Get up, slowpoke!” Yuugi reached for his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. He wasn’t going to let it out of his sight, no matter what happened. The heavy weight of the golden puzzle box already felt familiar, soothing.

“I’m coming, I’m coming…” Ryou pulled the zipper down and yawned loudly as he stepped out of the compartment. He took a look at Yuugi and laughed excitedly.

“Wow, Fatima’s ointment really is miraculous!” he said.

“It is?” Yuugi said, dumbfounded.

“All your bruises are gone! That’s amazing!”

Yuugi looked for a reflecting surface and found a small mirror on one of the chests in the tent. His jaw went slack. His face was flawless; not a bruise, not a scratch! Let me carry your pain.

“Impossible,” he said. Ryou hopped from one leg to another to work himself into his pants.

“What?”

“Impossible,” Yuugi repeated. “Those bruises should’ve been visible for at least two more weeks. The scratches…”

“Maybe we should give her ointment to Malik as well,” Ryou said. “If it works this great with just bruises, I wonder what it’ll do with…”

“Sahib!” a voice called them from outside.

“Jounouchi-kun might be back,” Ryou said. He had adopted the -‘kun’ to refer to Jounouchi just like Yuugi, after the KaibaCorp. employee had rescued them from the tomb. He fastened his belt and shoved his feet into his sandals.

“Sahib!”

“Yes, yes!” Ryou grabbed his shirt and was about to put it on, when he halted.

“What’s the matter?” Yuugi asked.

“This… this one is dirty,” Ryou said, crumpled the garment into a ball and threw it into the corner of his compartment. He opened his large duffle bag and pulled out a new, clean shirt. Grabbing his jacket and his light-colored cloak to protect himself from the intense sun, he left the tent along with Yuugi. To his surprise, Fatih, Youssef and a couple of other workers were standing in front of them, with grave expressions on their faces. Yuugi was just as surprised.

“Salaam Aleikum,” Ryou greeted them, but no one greeted him in return.

“You have to see this,” Fatih said, voice curt.

“Where’s Mahmoud?” Ryou asked.

“Come this way,” Fatih urged him. Not-understanding, Ryou shrugged and did as he was told, accompanied by Yuugi. They plowed through the sand to the eastern edge of the excavation site, not that far from the opening of the tomb.

“Why is no one guarding the opening?” Ryou asked, aggravated.

“Sahib, please,” Fatih said and tugged at his sleeve, forcing Ryou to turn to the right. Someone was lying on the ground, his face partly covered by sand. Ryou recognized him immediately.

“Mahmoud! What happened?” He closed the distance with a few steps. Yuugi looked paler than usual; his backpack dropped from his shoulder and landed with a thud in the sand.

“We don’t know, sahib,” Fatih said. His brother positioned himself next to the lifeless body, with a glare that promised death to anyone who dared to approach. Ryou ignored him and reached for Mahmoud, hand on his shoulder.

“How horrible…” He trembled. “He…”

Fatih knelt next to him, removing his hand from Mahmoud’s shoulder. He gently turned the body over and Yuugi turned away, dry heaving. Very little blood was visible but for the five punctures, five wounds in a circular pattern.

“Has he been stabbed with that knife?” Ryou nodded towards the weapon, lying next to the body.

“It’s a khopesh,” Fatih said, calmly. “A short sickle sword. He always wore it, hidden in his robes. Just in case.”

Ryou was silent. Just in case thieves wanted to enter the tomb and rob it blind. The edged curve wasn’t capable of making such perfect round punctures. Five. In a circular pattern. He put his hand on his chest and leaned a little forward, as if he was going to throw up.

“What do we do now, sahib?” Fatih asked. His calmness was commendable, he’d been good friends with Mahmoud. Ryou had no answer.

“He.. he deserves a proper funeral,” he stammered. Kaiba could show up any moment and he wasn’t going to be happy to find out that someone from his team had been murdered. Mahmoud had been more than just a worker. Thinking of Kaiba, Ryou’s mind went to the two KaibaCorp. employees: Jounouchi wasn’t around right now, but Honda was. “Go get Honda,” he said and one of the workers ran away. He looked over his shoulder to see Yuugi, standing a little bit to the side, still pale.

“Honda knows what to do,” Ryou said, as if he needed to explain himself. Mahmoud had family, a couple of brothers and sisters who deserved to know what had happened to him… but how could he explain it? His stomach turned itself inside out. The shirt he had grabbed earlier this morning… it had blood stains on it, a couple of smears. He didn’t know if Yuugi had seen it; he didn’t think so, but what if he had?

“It had to be a robber,” he weakly said, to no one in particular. Pure nonsense of course; these people weren’t rich and even though they were paid in cash for their work, no one carried large amounts of money around. It was so random, so strange… yet Ryou had the feeling that he himself knew more about it. How was that even possible?

“What’s going on? What’s all the commotion…” Honda’s voice trailed off as soon as he arrived at the scene. He was tall enough to see over Ryou’s and Fatih’s shoulders and he fell silent.
Everybody waited for him to say something and allowed him the time to think.

“We’ll bring him to his tent,” Honda finally said. “Fatih, help me carry him, please?”

“Yes, sahib,” he merely said.

“Bring that knife along,” Honda said. “Don’t touch it with your bare fingers. Use a cloth.”

Fatih translated it as he was the one who had the best command of English, now that Mahmoud was gone. Both Yuugi and Ryou turned their heads away when Mahmoud was lifted off of the ground and carried away. Yuugi came to stand a little closer to Ryou.

“Are you all right?” he asked, his voice wavering.

“I have to notify his family,” Ryou said. “And… I have to inform Kaiba-sama about this.”

“Maybe he’ll shut the excavation down,” Yuugi said. He had to suppress another dry heave at the sight of the blood spatters in the sand, as small as they were. “He’s such an important CEO, he can’t use something like this.”

“I agree.” Ryou stared after the workers, returning to their posts. Youssef went back to guarding the tomb, and that reassured him somehow. “Negative publicity is a bad thing.”

“But what about Mahmoud?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never had someone dying on the job before. I…”

“I’m sorry,” Yuugi apologized. “It’s not your fault.”

Ryou turned his attention to his friend. “You’re upset,” he said.

“I’ve never seen someone… well, aside from my grandfather when he passed away… but… I’ve never seen someone dead before. Killed, I mean.”

Ryou didn’t know what to say to that. His first instinct was to call the police, but would they come out this far into the desert? “There’s a killer among us,” he said.

“What?”

“One of us has done this. Someone here, present at the excavation site.”

“I can’t imagine anyone of us killing Mahmoud…”

“Everyone’s a suspect,” Ryou mumbled. “Someone waited for him to do his evening rounds, or he stumbled upon someone in the darkness of night…”

“Ryou-kun, please stop talking like that!”

“Yes, yes, you’re right. We should prepare for Kaiba-sama’s arrival, and… the current situation.” He took a step forward but then halted again. “Yuugi-kun?”

“Yes?”

“Why are you lugging that heavy backpack around all the time? You used to leave it in the tent.”

“Oh! I…” Yuugi stared at his backpack as if he saw it for the first time. “I just think it’s handy to have around, that’s all.”

They were both silent for a moment. A knowing silence where no words were exchanged, but something was changing, definitively. Yuugi was the first to lower his eyes and with his arms firmly around his backpack, turned around to leave.

“Yuugi-kun, wait!”

He stopped moving. “Yes, Ryou-kun?”

“We might… no, we’re having some setbacks and difficulties, but you still believe in the tomb, don’t you? The discovery of a lifetime?”

“I’m very glad you found the tomb, Ryou-kun,” Yuugi said, but he didn’t turn around to face him. “It was your greatest wish, and your father had been right all along. His name, and yours, will be revered in the archaeological world.”

“So will yours,” Ryou gave back. “You were always there, Yuugi-kun, to help me and to support me. Without you, I wouldn’t have ended up here.”

“You would’ve followed into your father’s footsteps no matter what.” Yuugi beamed at him. “And now you found the Pharaoh’s tomb… or palace, because it sure is a complicated structure. Who knows what more we’ll find!”

“So you’re still on board?” Ryou asked.

“Yes, sure, why do you ask?”

“Because I feel that… something has changed. Something is changing, don’t you think?”

Yuugi thought about it for a moment, then nodded. He didn’t notice how cramped his grip on his backpack had become. “It’s natural for people to change,” he said but he had no idea why he said that. “We better go back and prepare for Kaiba-kun’s visit.”

“Jounouchi-kun can be back any moment now.” Ryou started to walk, but not after one more look at the dried blood spatters in the sand. He put his hand on his chest and a wide smile tugged at his lips.


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




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