"We cannot be sure that she is the one," Shadi said, his eyes riveted to the disappearing form of Téa, as she exited the Domino City Museum and returned home.
Isis, standing beside Shadi, shook her head. "No, I am sure. It can be no one else but her."
Shadi glanced at Isis, a single eyebrow raised; nothing else on his face betrayed any emotion. "The girl of Legend; she who is able to save both the Pharaoh and his Priests?"
Isis fixed Shadi with a fierce gaze, "Yes. For in no other person have I seen that determination... that blue fire... no one other than Her."
Shadi paused a moment, finally turning to face Isis. "If she is the one... you must tell her of the danger she will face. Of the possibility that she will not escape her Destiny, and she will die."
Isis' azure eyes turned icy; her lips narrowed into a thin line.
"I will do no such thing!" she spat, "Destiny will change!" And with that, she stalked back into the Domino City Museum, leaving Shadi alone in the night.
"Destiny..." Shadi murmured, his robes swaying in the gentle Tokyo wind, "Hmph."
The same dream again.
It wasn't so perplexing this time, Téa realized, for she was acutely aware that she was dreaming and that she'd had the same dream before.
This time, she didn't see Yugi at all, nor hear the flapping wings of any pigeons.
Rather, she found herself inside the Museum again, the choking smell of ancient dust filling her. She coughed until her chest hurt until her mouth felt dry.
It wasn't dust that covered her hand, but...
The pain in her chest didn't go away, even after Téa's coughing fit had ceased. When she glanced down to find the source of the intensifying pain, she was startled to see a golden dagger embedded in her chest, a hand just slipping away from its hilt.
"Wh--" Téa began but found herself unable to speak.
All she could see in the growing darkness were two, piercing blue eyes.
Her thoughts completed the words she couldn't speak aloud, as the black blotted her vision and her body went numb.
People all around Domino turned to face the sound of the voice. Televisions and radios across Tokyo blared Seto Kaiba's message.
"Today, a tournament like no other begins! Today, duelists can prove their skills in an ultimate test! The rarest and most powerful cards will be pitted against one another, and the champion shall take the title of Duel King! Today, this city will become Battle City!"
Téa Gardner glanced up towards the nearby Tokyo TV Broadcast screen in downtown Domino.
Two nights in a row, she'd had that dream. Téa had visited the Museum late Saturday afternoon, in the hopes of getting answers, but only found herself with more questions.
What was her Destiny? How was her past intertwined with the Pharaoh's... and with Kaiba's?
How could she possibly save them, when she had no idea what the threat was?
Sunday morning, Téa had tried to rid her confusing thoughts by going shopping in downtown Domino. But Seto Kaiba's announcement --the start of Battle City-- had her thoughts muddled all over again.
'Those eyes...' Téa found herself thinking, even as her mind drowned out Kaiba's voice as he detailed the tournament.
They were so familiar, so piercing, and--
'No way! He can't be!'
But Isis had said that Kaiba was part of the Pharaoh's Destiny... and so was hers. If her past somehow tied to Kaiba's...
'Was he the one that... that killed me?'
There were too many questions and not enough answers. As much as she hated the thought of seeing Shadi again --of being controlled by any Millennium Item-- she knew she had to return to the Domino Museum and find Isis and Shadi.
She had to find out what her dreams meant.
And what her Destiny was.
"You want me to WHAT?!" Téa exclaimed, dropping her teacup on the floor. The ceramic shattered into a multitude of pieces, scattering all over the cold concrete floor.
"Oh dear," Isis' blue eyes glanced down at the pieces, "That was 10th Dynasty. Neferkare."
Téa's eyes widened, "I-I'm... I didn't mean to-- but what the heck do you mean, 'You have to enter the Battle City tournament!' Are you nuts!?"
Isis fixed Téa with a cool stare, "No, I am not," she paused, contemplating Téa's odd slang, "'nuts.' I am quite serious."
"But I-- I've only dueled twice before in my entire life! Kaiba made that announcement of his, saying only skilled duelists would be allowed entry!"
"That would surely eliminate all competition where Kaiba is concerned, isn't it?" Shadi spoke up, calling attention to his presence in the doorway of the dim room.
"Yes. The only one Kaiba considers to be his true rival is Yugi."
"Because of that ancient duel, right?" Téa murmured softly. "Because of their Destiny written on the tablet."
"Yes," Isis murmured, "A Destiny which..." she trailed off, glancing towards Shadi. He merely stared at Isis, and then averted his gaze entirely.
"Téa, they both died horrible deaths back in ancient times. We can't allow that to happen again."
"You know how serious Kaiba can be about dueling, do you not?" Shadi intoned. Immediately, images of Duelist Kingdom --of Seto Kaiba threatening to end his life if Yugi didn't admit defeat-- came to mind.
I... I was so scared when he did that. When he jumped on the tower ledge, as if... he had nothing left. No hope, nothing else to strive for. I thought then that Mokuba meant that much to him, but maybe... maybe it was never about Mokuba. It was about the duels. Win... or die.
"I originally intended to enter the tournament myself," Isis said, shifting to take a golden box from a nearby end table. She placed the heavily ornamented container on her lap.
"But you came to me. I was unsure if you actually would--"
"But the other night, I thought you said you were expecting me!" Téa interrupted, confusion and suspicion written plain on her face.
"Indeed, I was. But I cannot control one's free will. It was your choice to come here, Téa. Yours and yours alone."
"But I thought that Millennium Necklace of yours allowed you to see the future."
Isis shook her head ruefully, "Its powers are ancient indeed, but I have not been able to unlock them fully. What it shows me is a possible future, if present events continue their course. I have seen no change in the future..." Isis's fingers brushed against the cool metal of the necklace; "I wonder if the Necklace still works for me."
"I thought only one person could hold a Millennium Item, though. After all," Téa remembered with a grimace, "Anyone that tried to handle Yugi's Millennium Puzzle, or Bakura's Ring ended up..."
Certainly not alive and well!
"It is true that certain people are destined to hold the items at certain times... they contain a measure of darkness that only someone with a pure heart can combat," Shadi spoke up, coming up alongside Téa. She stared up at him and then Isis, a combination of fear and confusion on her face.
"But-- your brother!" Téa whispered.
"There are two ways to deal with darkness, Téa. Balance its presence with light or increase the darkness. Malik has done just that, by allowing the powers within the Rod --the blood spilled on it-- to consume him."
"Tell her, Isis." Shadi said quietly, "Tell her."
"Tell me what?" Téa asked in sheer confusion, looking from Egyptian to Egyptian, "What am I not being told?"
Isis looked hesitant, her eyes dropping to her lap, where her hands clasped together tightly over the golden box.
"...Many years ago, our father formally initiated Malik into the Tombkeeper's clan with a ritual. It involves a process that-- well, it signifies the difference between ordinary people and us. The same legend on the tablets was..." Isis winced, "Burned into his skin. I, too, have similar markings... we all do." She glanced towards Shadi, who slowly nodded.
"The process brought out hatred in Malik like I'd never seen before," Isis murmured, "He wanted nothing more than to be an average boy in the outside world, but our father would hear nothing of it. He forced Malik to go through with the ritual, and--" Tears threatened to spill from Isis's lashline. So many years had passed, and yet the memory of Malik's screams still echoed fresh in her mind.
"And as vengeance, Malik took the Millennium Rod he was destined to protect and used it to kill his father," Shadi finished.
Téa went wide-eyed and ashen, "He murdered his father?"
Isis nodded slowly.
"Even so, Malik is still one of us. One of the Tombkeepers. We are Guardians of the Pharaoh's tomb, protectors of his legacy-- his Memory."
"His memory? Why doesn't Yugi remember his past? Why was his memory locked away?"
"Should he remember, his Destiny would inevitably repeat itself..."
Isis glanced up at Shadi, then Téa.
"And he would die."
So, she had no choice. People had three days to enter qualifying tournaments held in game stores throughout Domino-- and three more days to battle enough people to gain the six locator cards required to enter the quarterfinals.
And Téa would duel-- with cards rarer than anything anyone in Domino had ever seen before. Cards with such great power, of such legend...
Cards Isis had possessed for years, awaiting that very moment.
She had been hesitant in revealing them to Téa.
"The contents of this box are not like anything you have ever seen before," Isis said, opening the hieroglyphic-laden container slowly.
"Wha...?" Téa peered over the rim of the box, "But they're just Duel Monsters cards!"
Isis flipped one of the cards over, allowing Téa to see the card.
"It is a powerful trap card that forces your opponent to switch their deck with their graveyard."
"...And if someone runs out of cards in their deck, they automatically lose the duel."
"Precisely. It is the method I was going to use to defeat Seto Kaiba in the quarterfinals of Battle City. But now it is yours."
"M-Mine? All these rare cards?"
"No, not all," Shadi spoke up, "You will find the cards that call to you, that speak to the light in your heart. We will train you-- not just in the art of the Legendary Duels, but controlling your soul. You will become a formidable warrior, and only then will you be able to save the Pharaoh."
"..and Kaiba," Téa added, mostly for herself. She was still unsure about the whole thing; Kaiba being such an integral part of Yugi's destiny, of being not just his rival, but his Guardian? It was too confusing, but the only way Téa could get any answers was to go along with Isis and Shadi's plan.
The two Egyptians exchanged a glance, nodding as they brought all the cards out of the box.
"You cannot go back from this, Téa. From the moment you touch these cards, you will bind your soul to them. And you will duel."
Téa glanced up at Shadi, then Isis, her eyes shining like twin sapphires. If she did this, her dreams would make sense. Yugi's past would be revealed. And...
They would be saved.
"Let's do this."
'This is it, girl. This is the time when you prove yourself to be more than some "simpering, friendship-speech giving spoiled brat!" I'm going to save them! I'm going to duel! And I'm going to win!'
She couldn't tell them.
Not Yugi, not Joey, not Tristan, not ANYBODY!
...Because it might change things. But she would train-- she would find out about her shadowed connections to the Pharaoh... and to Seto Kaiba. She would change Destiny... she'd save them.
'Even if it's the last thing I do!'