Yu-Gi-Oh! Fan Fiction ❯ Echoes of Forgotten Times ❯ Hanging By A Thread ( Chapter 13 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Disclaimer: See the prologue

Echoes of Forgotten Times
Written by Shukumei no Kagi
Notes: I'd like to take this moment to thank those of you who reviewed last chapter. Thank you for the support! I'll keep the fic up as planned. Don't anyone worry, this is a project I vow not to drop until completed. Thanks again!
Warning: Yaoi, sorta deathfic

Chapter Thirteen ~ Hanging By A Thread
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It felt so slow how he tumbled forward from over the wall, the rope escaping his grip with violent jerks. Then Yugi could see nothing but darkness, his stomach lurching in sickening terror before dropping along with his gaze toward the encompassing blackness under him. He was falling, plummeting downward into the nothingness! Yugi cried out again his voice choking with fright as his wide eyes found that nothingness below him, fixating on the empty air which wouldn't hold him, or anyone else, up. He would just fall right through!

Words, noises both froze in his throat, becoming caught there by his wide eyed terror. His vision being engulfed by the blackness which rose up to him and he shuddered, finally becoming aware of air brushing by him. Yugi's heart thundered frantically in his ears, accelerating it's crescendo as the wind of his fall picked up speed. The rush of wind soon beginning to whip past him as his uncontrollable downward descent remained unchecked.

Everything was too dark, making Yugi unable to see anything rushing by anymore. All there was, was the feel of the air passing, catching his kalasiris and sending it flapping around his form. Yugi could only shudder as he was chilled more by terror than by the cold wind whipping around him, carrying the sound of the growls ever closer to him.

Yugi choked out a denying sob, in his hammering heart this all felt unreal. It all seemed as insubstantial proof, the noise and feel...he didn't want to believe that it was happening. It didn't feel real! Yet a scared tear escaped Yugi, he didn't want for this to be happening! All he could think of was his want to curl up into a scared ball. He gave in to the fright then and there, moving to draw his knees up against himself but they encountered something more solid, pressing it tightly to his chest.

There was a brief moment of confusion before Yugi realized that the pyramid had remained steadily pressed against the teen, the solid presence not comforting really. But he could feel the cool gold on his fingers as he touched it, the item having a substance everything else currently lacked. It's stable presence lending him strength simply by existing at the moment, though only enough to keep him from breaking down entirely.

"I did what I could, mother." He whispered sadly, sniffling in his sorrow at not having been able to do more in protecting the pyramid. His hands closed around the pyramid carefully to keep it close, still trembling in terror with a whimper escaping. The sound had barely been spoken when everything changed! The wind around him faltering just as there was a yank on his kalasiris, the motion jolting him roughly as his fall was suddenly slowed. The material tightened as it caught him solidly for a moment, making him lose his grip on the pyramid though the comfort it had given didn't withdraw fully with it. Yugi gasped as it fell away from him, surprised more by the sensation of being slowed. He didn't have a single clue what was happening!

Something tangled into the tears of his robes, holding the teen from falling fully. Yugi felt it weaving more into the cloth as his kalasiris was blown about. Whatever it was, it was drawn closer by the torn fabric until it was sliding along Yugi's bare arm. The rough fabric cutting roughly over his skin, leaving a burning sensation tearing through his arm in it's wake. Yugi gasped once more at the pain caused as the coarse material tangled about his arm, the dragging burn spreading out with it. The lengths of the coils finding their way downward, falling in short order into his hand.

The rope! The realization had just dawned in Yugi's mind as his fingers curled tightly shut, frantically clamping down on the cord before it could escape his grasp another time.

The rope dug roughly into his fingers as his momentum refused to cease, the burning rub cutting slightly into his hand. He bit at his lip to keep from making a noise as fresh hurt took a-hold but he didn't want to be heard by whatever might have been waiting down there for him to fall to it. Yugi tightened his grip desperately, grabbing hold with his other hand to as he hoped that he could stop his own fall.

His fingers were dug into again by the coarse fibers but this time Yugi was jolted by a gruff yank upwards. Pain shot through his aching arms in response as they were forced to hold his weight, however his feet dropped down below him and the pyramid fall back down to thump heavily against his chest. His downward tumble ended abruptly by that, the sudden stop of the momentum leaving the teen gasping in air, for a second too stunned by pain to react to the understanding that he wasn't falling anymore.

For that time his arms were too busy screaming aches into his head. Both the aches and cuts from the rope flaring as he hung there unable to do a thing. The cord jerked once upwards then stilled to tremble under his own weight, his arms shook too under the strength it took for him to hold on. It hurt, a lot but Yugi clenched his fingers tighter, trembling fearfully as he refused to consider letting go to ease the pain. He didn't want to fall down!

Though this time, when the idea crossed his mind, another joined it. Yugi clutched to the ropes much like how his mind was beginning to grasp the tangible reality that he wasn't falling anymore.

Yugi wanted to believe that it was true! It had to be for he most certainly didn't want to end up down there! Yet it was with disbelieving wide eyes that he turned his gaze downward to search through the darkness, not quite comprehending that for the moment he was safe. There being fear lurking mainly with the teen, he swallowed hard as his ears were more aware of the growling echoing around the well, as he hung there still tenuously swinging from his tumbling halt. Only now they were much closer to where he was, though yet further below.

No fall... Yugi pleaded silently while tightening his fingers in determination not to let go, only to be startled as a deeper second growl joined the first. He started but managed to keep his desperate death-grip upon the rope, despite how the aches in his arms and the threatening snarls down there were aiding his fright. His heart surging to his throat as his rope was jolted upwards suddenly, his hands slipping slightly as he was tossed around by the motion.

But the teen clung on, too scared to unclamp his grip from the rope. He buried his head between his arms, his forehead resting against the rope as he clung on, not even daring to risk looking around lest he lose his precious grasp on the cord.

There was only darkness for his eyes to rest on there, but he didn't dare close his eyes. His scared gaze remained locked on that nothingness, not knowing what else could be done right then. Even if his arms weren't protesting in pain Yugi wouldn't have dared trying to climb. The cord was being jerked around too much, though at the moment the teen realized a stillness to the air. The rope trembled in his grasp but didn't move while below even the growls had lowered to near silence, leaving Yugi nearly alone... Though he eased a bit for this peace, there was still a nervousness to his features as he was still hanging who knew how far down in the well.

What am I to do, Yugi questioned plaintively while hanging there, that being not where he wanted to be at that instant. The teen longingly raised his head from where it rested safely, his violet gaze turning up pleading toward the mouth of the well. His frightened eyes locked on the glow of light farther above him, the pulley glimmered darkly as the only thing he could see besides the stone alcove. Only his eyes blinked in amazement as he found the longed for place wasn't as far away as he'd expected. Still, Yugi shuddered in fright as he was unable to turn his wide eyed gaze from where he'd much rather be standing. Safe and sound instead of hanging here where he knew he could soon slip from!

Yugi shook harder at the idea of slipping. No, no, he thought with a definite panicking of thoughts, tears gathering in his eyes but they were shed by the teenager as his mind ran in frantic circles. "Khenemet?! Lady Archer?! Please help!" He called up though he didn't see how either of them could possibly hear him from down here, yet he still hoped that just maybe one of them might notice his cry.

The rope trembled in his grip in an immediate answer to his outcry and up above the pulley creaked dangerously in threat from all the strain put upon it. Yugi froze at the noise, his eyes filling with a terror as his eyes sought out the pulley. Don't give, he entreated as he pinned the creaking item with begging violet that clearly didn't want it to slip free of the stone dropping him into the unknown depths.

Violet eyes were unwavering as he waited, the rope jerking him upward a bit. He might not have noticed that if his arm didn't ache as Yugi was jolted by the stop. Yugi bit at his lip as he just wanted to sob in fear, already his vision was starting to blur from upset tears demanding to be released. Only he didn't feel safe enough to start crying, he held back the sobs but a tear leaked from his eyes. The drop ran down his face, falling to soak into his kalasiris without his eyes leaving where he could be safe.

That was until a flicker of movement caught his eye by the pulley. Yugi's gaze wavered for a moment, his glance being pulled to a swaying cord that clearly wasn't the one he was directly clinging to for dear life. Puzzled fractionally under his fear, the teen watched the rope sway strangely before the taut length was jerked down. His own rope responded by shaking before lurching with a sickening abruptness upward, stopping just as abruptly to send pain lancing through his arms. He gripped the rope harder as a few more tears slipped free.

By then the safety he so sought was much closer, not anywhere near enough for the teenager to reach for and Yugi's arms were aching horribly. But he was hopeful, he smiled glad that he was at least going the right direction. Just so long as the pulley held out...

Yugi stopped those thoughts as the other end of the rope bounced wildly, catching his worried attention even as he was jerked around by the interconnected motions. His end stilled and in wonderment he waited to see what it would do next, his gaze following the rocking motion with careful precision. The weaving motion of the rope leaving him rather entranced as he kept waiting, not comforted but not fully thinking about the danger that he was in until the rope swung again. Even then the violet-eyed teen didn't react right away, not until the movement heading for him caught his attention.

Gasping in surprise, Yugi clutched as tight as he could to his end of the rope. He barely secured his grip before the other rope slammed into his side. The impact sending pain lancing through his side even as the kalasiris protected him from the worst of it, but Yugi yelped out as he was sent spinning off to the side. He buried his face quickly between his arms in fear, his spinning body slowing just before bumping into the wall.

The light touch stopped the momentum and Yugi went swinging back the way he'd come. His arms now blazing hurt through them, demanding relief but Yugi bit at his lip, trying not to let go though his limbs were exhausting fast. The whimper he gave was one of pure fright for he once again wanted this to *not* be happening. "Khenemet?" He mumbled, still pleading to be saved from this fate and Khenemet was the only one he could think of that would be able to pull him out.

He was jolted upward then, the motion nearly making his grip give out. As it was his arms felt like they were about to be pulled from their sockets. Yugi was beginning to really just want this over with, it was so hard especially when the other rope connected with his side again!

Yugi cried out in pain without moving his head. His eyes shut as he trembled, no longer able to hold back the threatening tears and the first one slipped down his features to splash onto his kalasiris. He didn't know how much longer he'd be able to hold on, his grip already felt like it was slipping... I don't want to, he thought as he tightened his grip which had been starting to loosen too much. This is so hard he added to himself sorrowfully, barely noticing a breath of air from above.

He blinked his eyes open at the sensation, startled and curious about what that had been but his wondering gaze had only begun to lift from it's hiding place when a gasp reached his ears.

"Yugi?! Oh no! Can you hold on?"

"Khenemet!" He cried out, his head jerking to look up hopefully. Yugi blinked in surprise to see how much closer he'd been yanked up by whatever was on the other end of the rope. He was almost at the mouth of the well, but it was as far beyond his reach as was Khenemet. For his eyes landed on her, the mismatched pair of wings and her hazel eyes proof that she was really and truly there! The sight of her there to help had his gaze flaring with hope and giving him reason to strengthen his grasp on the rope. "I'll try. Please hurry!" He spoke, his voice steadier than he really was inwardly.

"I will." She responded hurriedly as she grasped at the end violently being wrenched around, her grip trembling as she struggled to pull the lengths of cable from over the pulley. Yugi watched with wide eyes as she pulled, gritting her teeth at the strain before the rope was yanked once out of her grip. Yugi seeing clearly that rope snapped from her control to recoil at him.

He gasped, flinching toward his own rope before the second cable knocked into him. The rope this time catching on him and pushed him rather roughly into one of the walls, having him gasping as the pain left him in a bit of a daze. One that almost had him missing the words that drifted down from Khenemet. "Yugi? Here! Try to grab hold!" Only the snarls below suddenly seeming much closer to him again as his arms threatened to give out. "Yugi, there isn't really that much time..."

Yugi groaned as he forced his tearful eyes upwards, blinking at the blurry image of the girl with her hand outstretched toward him waiting for something. She looked so far away suddenly. Yugi whimpered in fear and shook his head in terror as he tried to get his loosening fingers to tighten on the rope. "I can't reach!" He responded weakly as he was certain the hand looked too far away to his fuzzy vision. He'd fall if he let go, he was too scared to risk it.

"You've got to if you're going to get out, just let go and grab..." She cried out louder than necessary before her eyes suddenly widened as she looked past him at something. "Look out!"

Yugi shook, too scared to let go until her warning cry. He wouldn't be able to hold either way, his arms hurt too much and all he had to do was reach out to her...he hoped. And he let go with one hand, frantically reaching out for the offered rescuer just before the other rope connected with his arm. His rope clinging grip gave out at the pain and Yugi whimpered thinking just for a moment that he would feel the wind rush past him again. But instead hot fingers clamped down on his wrist, preventing any fall he could have taken.

Yugi hung there, his eyes having shut the instant his wrist had been grabbed. The teen still waited for the wind to come, for the growls below to get louder but neither happened. It took him a long moment to realize that there wasn't any wind whipping by. There was only a warmth wrapped around his wrist, the heat turning him curious since he had been so sure that Khenemet had been too far away to help.

So what had happened? Slowly violet eyes opened and he looked upward, surprise filling his gaze just before relief as he saw Khenemet's hand holding him up. "Okay..." Yugi's voice cracked with a combo of his fright and relief even as he gave in to the tears, letting them fall freely along his features. "Maybe I could reach." He managed to choke out rather sheepishly, a wan smile touching his face.

"Maybe, but I did get you at least." Khenemet agreed through gritted teeth, her voice shaking, she didn't seem all that steady yet or braced to pull him up. But Yugi felt himself being hauled up, his arm searing a protesting pain at the treatment as it was used to bring up his weight. The teen fought back a whimper and instead brought his other arm up to scrabble at the well wall until he found the edge.

His arms hurt too much to do any more than that, but Khenemet managed without his help to lift him over from the edge of the abyss and he brought his feet under himself, feeling the wonderous sensation of the ground beneath them as she let him down on the proper side of the wall.

Being safely on the ground felt wonderful, no more dangling by his arms but his heart was still thundering. His fright not giving up it's hold so easily and Yugi shook badly enough that his legs couldn't keep him up. The teen half-slid, half-collapsed to the ground, drawing back quickly until he met with a wall. There he curled up, drawing his knees up to his chest without a care of how the pyramid pressed painfully against him. He was just a bundle of shaking nervously as he buried his face into the kalasiris.

"Yugi...you're hurt?!" Khenemet's voice reached him, though at the moment his emotions were so knotted up that he wasn't able to speak. He just nodded since it was much too late to hide where the rope had cut into his skin, the only sound he could make was a strangled sob. "You should be more careful." She seemed to be scolding, but Yugi was focusing more on the tears that were soaking into his kalasiris.

He didn't try to stop the leaking liquid. He was still so scared even now that the danger was past, it was lingering in a refusal to go away so easily despite his relief at being safe. He whimpered with the beat of his heart as Khenemet took a-hold of his injured arm. "That was ow." He murmured as he raised his head, though the fear hadn't abated yet, Yugi was doing his best to not worry Khenemet too much. "I didn't like it." He added with a sniffle, pausing then to bring his other hand up to wipe away his tears.

"There, there." Khenemet patted his shoulder carefully, her touch nearly the weight of a feather. "I wouldn't either. I'm now glad I woke up when I did." She noted while withdrawing that hand, her attention returning to his hand and he felt cloth being bandaged around his cut up arm. The injury stung painfully, though Yugi was thankful that it wasn't as bad as it had been when hanging over the well.

"Thanks," Yugi had to pause, swallowing hard as he almost had to sob again. His tears hadn't fully stopped either and he wiped away the newly fallen drops. "Khenemet. It's a good thing you are arou...." A rope whipped loudly against the stone wall of the well, the sound startling Yugi into gasping. The teen gulped hard to keep from dissolving into sobs again.

It's over, it is, he told himself while shakily pressing his back against the wall. The floor was really under him, the hard surface being an indication that he was safe now. The fear lessened but refused to go away and Yugi shivered, not wanting to think about it anymore but the fright wasn't making it easy. After all, it was over. Yugi sighed at that, burying his head once more as he rested there calming. "It sounded mad." He stated as another snarl faintly echoed up from the well, but he found himself not frightened by it anymore.

"I don't know about 'sounded', but the rope looks like it is." Khenemet responded as she laid a hand back on his shoulder. "How are you though?"

Yugi looked up at the question, giving the girl a grateful smile. "Much better now! Thanks!" He responded, actually meaning it. His insides weren't shaking nearly as bad, plus the fear was fading...slowly but surely. However his delight and relief was overwhelming that terror now and he smiled reassuringly. "I'll be okay. Though...we don't have any water."

"It's only a slight problem. I'm not touching the rope until it lets go." Khenemet answered with a point down the well, quickly pulling her hand back as the rope was yanked further downward by whatever was there.

The teen blinked at that, grinning softly at Khenemet's reaction and nodding in agreement. "I proved that's a bad idea already, I think." He stated brightly with his good cheer improving the longer he sat there on the hard stone floor, the comforting presence was one Yugi didn't want to particularly leave. Still he had to sometime and now would be as good as any, so he got his feet under him, slowly levering himself up. Though a physical exhaustion filled him, there was little he could do at the moment but lean on the wall.

"You definitely did that." Khenemet agreed while watching him with a careful eye and Yugi sheepishly flushed at his weakness. He really hadn't been expecting anything like that with the well! Even with how different the place was. He had just been trying to get some water!

That concept had him looking thoughtfully at the well, his eyes confused and uncertain as they sought some sign of how to get the liquid they all needed. The wrenching about ropes, the creaking pulley, a stone wall. Yugi looked them over, then shook his head, his gaze going questioningly hopeful toward Khenemet suddenly remembering that she wouldn't have eaten yet. She must be starving, he thought sadly and his gaze turned apologetic. "You haven't eaten yet have you? I'm sorry."

"It's fine, just so long as you're fine." Khenemet said rather off-handedly as she gazed at the well. "Do you think what's down there had been fed lately?"

Yugi blinked at that sudden question. "Well I didn't even know it was there until just now..." He trailed off a bit wondering what kind of monster might be down there, though after the reaction he got trying to get the water the teenager was unwilling to attempt to go down there to find out. But maybe he was supposed to be feeding whatever was down there too... He could, perhaps it would like his cooking just as much as the other monsters did! "I should feed it! I'll be right back!" Yugi said with eagerness reflecting in his tone, his eyes shining brightly with the emotion as well. If he hadn't been so exhausted he'd even have taken off running.

As it was, he was already shoving off from the wall before Khenemet could stop him. "It would be better if you rested." She countered rather hurriedly, though uncertainly, before Yugi felt her hand close around his arm, arresting his forward momentum. He was pulled back to the wall he'd been resting on before he could protest. "Uh! Sorry!" Khenemet gasped out seeming not to have meant to pull that hard, though it was more that Yugi was too weakened to resist. "I can get the meat for it though."

Yugi nodded with a grateful expression turned to her, his face lit up with a smile as he responded. "Okay, then I'll wait here!" He offered as it didn't really matter to him who got the meat as long as the creatures down there were fed so they wouldn't be starving since they likely hadn't gotten any food for nearly two weeks.

"It'll only be a moment." Khenemet replied with an odd look in her eyes, almost gratitude of her own. "You be careful, okay?" She waited for him to finish his 'yes' then turned. Yugi watched her make her way down the stone hall, looking away as she went around the corner. His violet gaze shifting toward the well nervously. The bouncing and jerking ropes holding his attention as he waited. His mind playing over in his head the question of what might be down there, the ideas he had left him in utter wonderment as he had no way of knowing for sure.

He'd been watching for sometime, listening to the occasional growl when the sound of rustling fabric reached his ears. The teen looked over at the corridor, watching the empty hall in curiosity though he was right in expecting it to be Khenemet. The girl walked into view carrying a couple red slabs of raw meat at which Yugi blinked curiously.

"I figured to start with raw first." Khenemet explained, obviously having caught the look Yugi had given the meat. Though he wasn't so sure he liked the idea, cooked could be better at times but he nodded as he gave in to her judgment.

"Okay! So let's feed them!" He responded anxiously as he pushed off from the wall, finding that he felt more steady on his feet now that he'd rested longer. For which he was relieved, but he was more eager than anything else when he stepped over to the well and peered downward as Khenemet glided over to his side. Yugi looked up at the movement, seeing her hold the slab of meat out over the well. "Ready, set...?" He questioned rather brightly.

"Go?" She countered hesitantly and at Yugi's nod dropped the meat, his gaze dropping to trail it's downward fall until it vanished from sight.

For a long moment there was only the sound of their own breathing. Yugi didn't even hear a snarl or growl from below, everything was so silent... The pleasant lack of agitation pleasing him, maybe the monsters had calmed. If so, he noted that such was the scene as he'd found the well, all quiet and serene. Only though having fallen into it, Yugi knew better than to believe that image. There was something down there... But seconds of silence followed as the meat fell.

Then the silence was broken by the splash of the food finding water. Then it sounded as if chaos erupted below. The racket of hissing, growls and snarls sounding up from the depths as the rope shook once or twice then stilled. The noises not ceasing at the same time, instead they grew louder and Yugi shuddered nervously, nearly starting in surprise as there was the sound of several creatures splashing into the water. Which was followed by a sudden yowl shrieking up from below.

Startled, the teen jerked back as he clapped his hands to his pained ears. His heart nearly skipping a beat in shock for he was torn between surprise and worry at the awful noise. He turned his violet eyes to lock all widened on Khenemet as she mirrored his reaction. Their gazes meeting at that moment in confusion in the wake of that loud outburst.

"What was that about?" Yugi's question trailed off at Khenemet's unknowing shrug.

The racket quickly fading away then, but Yugi's ears were still ringing unpleasantly. He shrugged his shoulder to Khenemet uncertainly, holding the gesture as he stared at her hoping to see some sort of clue about what had just happened dawn on her features. Only that didn't happen and despite the ringing he could make out the sounds of the growls growing farther away. "Can we try now?" He asked with a nervous look at the ropes, part of him not too eager to try pulling on them again. That experience of being yanked in, he realized, had actually been worse than what he'd found in the cellar. Yugi was rather startled by that discovery and bit his lip in reaction but he hesitantly reached out toward the stilled ropes.

"I think the phrase, 'it's now or never' is appropriate." Khenemet murmured though he heard a tremor to her voice. But he grasped the rope slowly with the girl grabbing on as well an instant later. Yugi looked to Khenemet questioningly, thinking to see if she was ready but found her looking to him. He slowly nodded then pulled, Khenemet faltered then joined in to help drag the bucket back up.

The rope lurched downward with an ease as they pulled, bringing a bright smile to Yugi's face. The other end rising up in synch with their efforts being enough to finish chasing off the last of the teen's worry. "It worked!" He cheered joyously, glad that whatever was down there had been fed and nothing worse than a few cuts had been the result. Yugi beamed happily throughout dragging the bucket back up, his expression soon carrying over to Khenemet's features too as she plucked the container off of the end of the rope.

"I'll take it! Please!" Yugi pleaded eager to be the one to carry the bucket back to the kitchen. Or at least he wanted to see if he would be able to pull that off just this once. He'd started this mess so he did sort of want to finish this first go around. "I want to see if I can do it!" He cooed while holding his hands out for the bucket. Khenemet hesitated a moment, looking at him oddly before her grin widened and she handed the water over to him.

His features beamed as he struggled to stay standing, but he started off while trying to ignore how he was wobbling under the extra weight. Yugi set his jaw determinedly, and with one foot in front of the other started along the corridor focusing solely on not falling over. Though he was aware of how he plodded past the archer's cage, stumbling a bit around drunkenly as he made his way along. Though his straining arms were shaking even more than Yugi's walking.

Yugi grinned good-naturedly as the stumbling gait slowed his passage even more. This had to have been his longest time down there walking. But he felt like it was worth it as he wobbled past the double-headed dragon, which rumbled questioningly at him. "Hello, it's fine. I'm just taking this water back to the kitchen." He panted out, pausing at the stairs to catch his breath then. He didn't remember ever feeling so much exhaustion before... The teen was certain he'd love sleeping tonight, only there was so much he had left to finish.

Looking up at the stairs he knew getting up them would count as one of those obstacles.

Not deterred in the slightest, Yugi took a deep breath and picked the bucket up once more, slowly taking one step at a time as he started up. The teen only making it up three steps before changing tactics, heaving the bucket up to rest on the next step up before following it up. That was a bit easier but it still took a long time before he was at the top, feeling proud at the accomplishment as he continued on to the kitchen, soon pouring the water into one of the larger buckets.

There, he thought, that's one done! Happy about that fact he made his way back out with the bucket. His trip back to where Khenemet waited being quicker now that the only load he had was the empty bucket. She let him retie the bucket to the rope then together they refilled it, this time Yugi let her take the water back up. It was a slow process and Yugi knew that, exhausted as he was he was going to stay to see it through anyway.

Time passed as did the filling, emptying out in the kitchen and Khenemet making her way back. But finally Yugi was untying the last bucketful. "Done now!" He said beamingly before giving a huge yawn that he stiffled with his now freed up hands. As it was Yugi could barely keep his own eyes open, he swayed sleepily as he stood. His eyes shutting just before a hand shook him, he started in surprise as he popped open his eyes from sleep's doorstep.

"You should not be sleeping until you're in bed. It's comfortable there." Khenemet advised while slipping the handle of the bucket over her arm and then reached out to put a steadying hand on Yugi's shoulder.

The teen nodded dully, too sleepy to do anything but give a tired smile before stumbling ahead. "Bath first, must." He countered as he walked, feeling Khenemet catch his arm. The girl's hand steadying his swaying form and he managed a grateful glance to her. "Thank you, Khenemet. Will manage." He mumbled as he meant to be reassuring but he was just so tired, and the girl stayed quiet just nodding to him though not seeming to believe him. However he didn't have anything else to say as they wound their way back to the cages.

Khenemet's gaze was fixated ahead, so it was Yugi that saw the eyes of the archer watching them first. The teen promptly stopped with his eyes widening in surprise before he was yanked forward a step for Khenemet had noticed he'd paused. "She's out!" Yugi said rather hurriedly while determinedly pulling free, delight and curiosity chasing off the visages of sleep at least for a moment.

"What? Who? Oh! Sorry!" Khenemet blurted out from behind the teen so he didn't see her expression as he stumbled back to the cage from which the half-woman was observing them. His sleepy steps drawing a giggle from her.

"Now know." She questioned between the giggles as she tipped her head back the direction they'd come from, and Yugi blinked, not understanding at first but then it dawned on him what she must mean. The words she'd spoken last time! 'Sounds not, there is some. Unless slipped might not be, only just not that way.'

Had she meant the well? The teen wondered with his wide eyes peering as perfect mirrors of confusion and curiosity. "The well...the creatures?" He wondered outloud rather perplexed while he remained focused on the archer, though he heard Khenemet gasp behind him as the archer nodded in confirmation. The half-woman giggled at the noise the other girl had made without taking her gaze off of Yugi. "How'd you know?" Yugi questioned, his energetic curiosity renewed by the odd half-woman's admission. Only at the question the creature fell silent, cocking her head as if curious, her judging gaze examining him. Then the clam shell started to close... "Oh...please, I'd like to know." He begged as he watched the two edges grow closer to shutting them out.

For a moment Yugi thought the woman wouldn't give an answer, that she'd spoken all she would for now. But as the shell reached half-mast the archer opened her mouth again, her expression turning an unusually deadly serious and Yugi blinked nervously. "Stand not, tread not. Others know where, more and more. For not lest bared. Follow not." The confusing drone of words ended and the shell continued closed. Since he was exhausted the words took a moment to register, the realization of what was said only starting to sink in to him by then.

"What's that mean? We won't be able to understand it!" Khenemet managed to protest, not as dazed as the younger teen. But if there were any replies to be made the clam shell closed on them, clacking shut into the silence. "Now we might never know what that means." She muttered and Yugi looked up confusedly at her in time to catch sight of a near pout of her own features before her hand shot up to cover it. "And I think you've rubbed off on me." The girl added with an uneasy cough that sounded somewhat like a laugh.

Amusement struck at that moment and Yugi let out a spurt of his own giggles. "It wasn't what I'd meant to do." The teen replied perfectly innocent of the charge and it showed with how he beamed up at her cheerily. Only the moment was cut short as another yawn slipped from him, Yugi hurriedly covered his mouth with curled fingers but there was little that could be done by anyone to hide his exhaustion.

"Bath then bed, I'll make sure of it." Khenemet said while taking Yugi's arm, steering him away from the cage. Yugi wasn't in any shape to protest as he was on the verge of slipping off to sleep, the steps were barely noticed by him until a dragon roared rather loudly near his ear.

Yugi gasped with his eyes flying wide from where they'd been about to shut. His awareness of the surroundings returning briefly as he noted the stairs ahead of them while beside him a certain twin-headed dragon rumbled softly as they passed. Yugi fixed the Shadow Realm monster with a friendly nod as well as a grin while continuing on his way to the stairs, starting up first unthinkingly when Khenemet pushed him ahead of her.

"I am awake." He commented as he started up, truly conscious at the moment. The exhaustion having been driven away by the last roar, yet he got only a shake of Khenemet's head in answer and he pouted at the lack of speech. Still he couldn't stay disappointed for long as he padded up the stairs even too softly for his sandals to make noise, the tiredness was slipping back into his head while he made for the bathing chambers. He wound with ease past the pillars, to the first hallway and then to the bathing chambers before being stopped by a voice.

"Here you'll need this." Khenemet spoke up for the first time in awhile and Yugi blinked as he was handed the bucket of water. Unprepared as he was, Yugi was pulled over, with the bottom of the bucket rather quickly hitting the ground. Water splashed out from the container, splattering over his kalasiris some but mainly it slopped over his feet wetly.

Yugi blinked once at the mostly full bucket, the exhaustion falling behind a step for another time. "It would be a big help for sure, it would be a short bath without." He said with a giddy laugh, his tired state definitely affecting him more than just physically. Still he straightened with the weight, nearly having to limp his way into the bathing chambers, being very grateful when Khenemet closed the door to give him privacy.

Alone he hurried through the bath, not thinking about a thing but getting done. Only his pace slowed as the clean water relaxed him and the soap helped in refreshing his dirty state. The sensation of being clean alleviating his exhaustion for a bit longer, only Yugi's mind felt numbed, unable to think beyond how tired he, himself, was.

It was pure relief as he stumbled from the bathing chambers dressed. His course taking him straight back to his bedchambers and he wasted no time snuggling down onto the bed, pulling sheets up over the pyramid as his eyes shut.

'Stand not, tread not. Others know where, more and more. For not lest bared. Follow not.' Yugi started in his bed, but was too tired to do anything else as the words the archer woman had spoken finally settled firmly into his mind. And his last thought before the darkness of sleep claimed him was his confusion over what that might mean....


To Be Continued

A/N: Wow! I hadn't expected the chapter to get *that* long! I also was thinking Yugi would be out of the well by the third page... Silly me. Review please! I'd be interested in knowing what people think of the story thus far.

Chapter 12
Chapter 14
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