He made a foolish mistake.
He had taken Bakura’s bait and chased him through the kingdom with their Ka above their heads. He was led to a barren land at the outskirts of the Capital.
It was obviously a trap, yet he fell for it anyway.
Osiris’ thunder force had fizzled out, leaving the God Ka vulnerable to Diabound’s attack. As he succumbed to the stabbing pain brought about by its destruction, he was ambushed by robed beings on horseback.
They pulled him from his steed. The last thing he saw before he was rendered unconscious was Karim, Shada, and Seto helplessly looking on from the other side of a chasm.
He woke up in the middle of a dark chamber. Sore but uninjured, he managed to sit up. The event prior immediately came back. How long had it been since then? He didn’t know.
“Look who finally woke up.”
“Bakura,” the Pharaoh growled as he turned to the source of the voice. The thief was standing atop a circular slab. His eyes widened when he noticed the details. It had six holes, each shaped like one of the Items! There was a glint between Bakura’s feet and his hand quickly reached to grab the Puzzle around his neck.
It wasn’t there.
“Right here, Mr. King,” Bakura gloated whilst lowering himself on a knee and resting a hand on the Puzzle. It had been slotted into the stone. “Where it’s supposed to be. It was made here, after all.”
The Pharaoh was taken aback. He surveyed his surroundings. Columns stood supporting the ceiling, forming two rows from where Bakura stood. Light softly filtered through slight cracks from above. The air was cool and the sounds echoed off the walls. Atem frowned. He was definitely in some sort of underground temple.
Bakura’s chuckle resonated around the dark chamber. He rose, a grin splitting his lips as he locked eyes with the king. “Welcome to my home, Pharaoh.” He spread his arms. “Welcome to Kul Elna!”
The temperature dropped. The air thickened. Atem took an involuntary step back as the thief laughed. He gasped when a fog started to form from behind Bakura, spreading like thick tendrils of ghastly white smoke. The tendrils wisped around every corner of the chamber, like fine ribbons of cotton swimming through the wind. His heart fell to his stomach.
He was alone with Bakura and the wisps had him surrounded.
Excitement coursed through Bakura’s veins upon seeing the Pharaoh’s expression. Those red eyes were wide and glancing from side to side. His stance was defensive. His lips were parted to reveal clenched teeth.
The reckless fool finally realized that he was in deep shit.
“It’s not as luxurious as your fancy kingdom, but the people here are quite hospitable.” He reached forward. The spirits around him twisted and coiled protectively around his body, sending a comforting cool tingle through his skin. “They’ve been dying to meet you, Pharaoh.” His grin widened and he couldn’t help an excited giggle from passing through his lips. “And now that you’re here, they wish to give you a proper welcome!”
The spirits that were lazily swimming around the chamber suddenly sped towards the Pharaoh. Atem struggled as they coiled tightly around him, gasping at the oppressive cold that seared his nerves. He tried to summon a Ka, or even use Heka*, but found that he couldn’t do either. A heavy weight had settled in his heart, as if a thick chain was squeezing hard, weighing it down and suffocating him.
The spirits were repressing his Ba, rendering him completely helpless.
“Ba-Bakura,” he rasped, breathing becoming laboured. He fell to his knees from the lack of air and from the spirits that wrapped themselves tightly around his legs and pulled him down. He squirmed and thrashed as they pressed his arms to his sides. They coiled tightly around him like cold serpents crushing prey. It chased away his breath and sent goosepimples all over his skin. He wanted to scream as he felt something slithering around his neck, but he didn’t have his voice. All he managed was a pained gasp. His bonds were so cold. So cold that they burned!
Bakura sauntered over to the shuddering figure on the ground. The Pharaoh had fallen to his side and was curled in on himself. “What’s the matter, Mr. King?” he sneered, planting a foot on the side of his head. It earned him a glare. “Don’t like commoners hugging you?”
“I-I think yo-you’re confusing hugging with—gah!—with s-suffocating.” Atem’s teeth were chattering. He shook his head, or at least tried to. Bakura was pressing hard. The spirits were tightening their hold. Cold was seeping its way into his core.
The foot was withdrawn. Atem was slightly relieved for a moment before Bakura grabbed a fistful of his hair. The pull that followed stung so bad, he thought it would tear his scalp off. Tears pricked at the edges of his eyes as Bakura forced him to his knees.
Bakura’s face appeared just inches from his own, contorting with absolute madness. He felt the bite of a blade against his neck. For a second, fear gripped his heart and made it race just a little faster, but it only served to power his defiance. “Go ahead! Kill me!”
“It would be my pleasure.”
Atem shut his eyes. But instead of feeling the knife slash his throat open, it pulled away along with the thief’s face.
“But I don’t want to ruin the fun for everyone else.” Bakura released his hold on Atem and took a step back, letting the spirits keep the boy-king upright. “My friends have been looking forward to this moment for fifteen years. They want to savour it.”
Atem squirmed against his bonds, feeling them coil and slither. More of those wisps closed around him. He could hear them giggling and whispering about just what they had in store. Their excitement was palpable.
“Tell me, Mr. King. How well do you handle agony?”
“I think I can handle you just fine.”
Bakura growled and placed his hands on his hips. “Watch your tongue, Pharaoh. You aren’t in a position to be a cocky little shit!”
Atem was about to voice his comeback, but what came out was a wordless shout. An intense, burning agony overtook his senses. It shot through his veins and burned his nerves, setting him on fire from the inside. It froze and burned.
There was laughter. It wasn’t just from one source. It was all around him, like a crowd had gathered around to mock his suffering. The force that held him up on his knees allowed him to fall and writhe on the ground. They still had a tight grip on his body.
Darkness was creeping at the edges of his vision. He fought to the best of his ability to keep them at bay.
The sound of Seto’s voice pounded in his ears along with the echo of hurried footfalls. The blurry figures of his priests and some guards appeared in his line of sight, too far for any of them to be burying a hand in his hair.
Bakura smirked, eyes on the intruders as the ghosts kept them from advancing. He pulled their king to his knees. His plan worked. The Items were now right where he needed them. The enemy was on his turf. This was almost too easy! He couldn’t help a chuckle from slipping.
“So which will it be,” Bakura taunted, a satisfied grin on his face. “The rest of the Seven Treasures? Or your treasured king?”