His mother had always warned him to stay away from Collinsport, Maine. But, after her death, with his relationship with his father so strained by all that happened in Domino City (some his father knew about and most that he didn’t), Ryou had found himself in a rented car following coastal highways to this isolated little town overlooking the Atlantic.
Before he had even found lodgings for the night, he had taken the twisting, pot-hole marked road that led up to Eagle Hill Cemetery. Dead leaves crunched beneath his sneakers as he left the path and made his way gingerly between tilting gravestones beneath the gnarled branches of ancient trees. Here and there, the roots had forced their way up beneath the soil, throwing the markers off kilter and lurking in the tall grass for the opportunity to trip an unsuspecting pedestrian.
One such root caught Ryou unawares, snagging the toe of his shoe. His ankle twisted out from under him and he tumbled gracelessly, face first into the dirt. He sat up, spitting leaves and bits of grass, hands and knees stinging from the impact. One palm was scraped raw where it had caught the edge of a marble angel's plinth. He looked up into the carved face of the angel, its blank eyes filled with sorrow and moss, and only then noticed the fullness of the moon peeping over the tops of the denuded trees. In another day, it would be a true full moon.
The silver light illuminated the graveyard almost as clearly as if it were daytime, picking out highlights on the statues and tombstones. In the distance, further up on the hill, he could see the pale bulk of a family mausoleum looming over the run-down cemetery. Using the mausoleum as a starting point, he pushed himself to his feet and scanned the cemetery. For such a small town, there were certainly a lot of people buried in this little graveyard... Not so little, really, now that he got a good look at it. Row after straggling row of headstones -- some newer, some ancient -- meandered across the hillside, interspersed here and there by gnarled trees scraping at the sky with skeletal branches.
Driven by sudden curiosity and a need to move, to do something other than wallow in the still-raw grief he could feel rising to consume him, Ryou rose and began pacing slowly along the uneven rows of graves, reading the names on the markers as he passed. Some of them were so worn with age as to be illegible, but enough were readable. He found himself murmuring the names under his breath as he walked: Evans, Haskell, Trask, Collins... There were an awful lot of Collinses (Geoffrey, Edith, Gabriel, Edward...) and some of the older stones were so worn, he couldn't make out more than the general shape of the ubiquitous surname. Made sense, he supposed, to find so many Collinses in a town called Collinsport.
Finally, he stumbled (almost literally, as a cloud passed over the moon, obscuring his path) over the headstone he was seeking.
He knelt beside the stone, stretching out a hand to caress the deep carving of his mother's name: Angela Marie Jennings Bakura. His father hadn't wanted to bury her here, in her hometown, but it had been stipulated in her will. This was where she had wanted to be laid to rest. She hadn't ever asked much of Ryou Bakura Sr., rarely complaining even when his job took him all over the world, leaving her home to raise their two children practically alone. She had even let her husband choose their names (Amane, Ryou Jr.), though she had insisted on picking Ryou's middle name herself. (That he even had a middle name was a surprising concession from his father; perhaps it wasn't much of a stretch that the name she'd chosen for him was as unique as everything else about her. He'd never gotten the chance to find out why she'd picked "Quentin," though.)
Tears pricking at his eyes, Ryou knelt and ran his fingers over the deeply carved words and the dates underneath. He lingered a bit longer over his mother's maiden name. Jennings... He wondered how many of the Jennings family had lived in Collinsport. Were there others who shared the Jennings name, other members of his family, still living here? Maybe he could ask around in the morning, find someone (someone who had known his mother, someone who shared her eye color or had his nose...) to talk to, to anchor himself again... He glanced around at the profusion of Collinses again. He'd have to remember that his ancestors might have married into other families, sharing the other names displayed here. Heck, maybe he even had a Collins relative or two?
With a sigh, Ryou rose and trudged back toward the iron gate guarding the entrance and the deserted stretch of dirt road where he had left his car. He was tired from the long drive, and he needed to get into town and find a place to stay. As he picked his way through the rustling grass (more careful this time of stray roots), the wind clashed through the bare tree branches, sending grotesque shadows twisting on the ground all around him. His own shadow seemed to writhe in agony, losing all semblance of human shape.
Shivering, Ryou told himself to stop being foolish. He had faced Zork, a soul-stealing thief, and the Shadow Realm. What was there to fear in this silent place? But it was with gratitude that he settled into the driver's seat of his rented car and started the engine. Feeling foolish, he locked the doors and cranked up the heat before turning the car back toward Collinsport. Over the thrum of the engine, he never heard the agitated howling of the dogs that arose in his wake.
And, in the dark sky, the bloated moon lurked like a tick gorging on blood. Tomorrow was Ryou's twenty-first birthday.
The moon would be full.