A loud scream, then the sound of someone falling to the floor violently. A dark, filthy room, with things that barely can keep someone alive.
…then the sound of ribs breaking. This was the usual for her though. She has been abused for so long by these men that she has somewhat accustomed to the pain. Half-dressed, those guys just were finished “playing” with her, so she’s on the floor, motionless, trying to avoid crying. One of the men tells something to who seems to be the leader, getting him mad. She’s then grabbed from her hair, then slapped.
“How come you didn’t win that tournament, you piece of shit?!” he yells before throwing her to the floor again. “You have no value at all. Playing this damn card game was the only thing you were good at, yet you fail at it. Now what you expect us to do if you don’t win prize money for us, huh? HUH?! You useless bitch!!”
She’s kicked in the stomach. The girl cannot breathe because of that, but the man doesn’t care. His companions just laugh at her, struggling to wake up.
One of the underlings speaks up. “Hey boss, isn’t it time for us to get another toy? Even raping her is boring these days”.
The “boss”, as they call him, ponders. “You’re right. This one is already broken, we need a new one.”
As he grabs her from the neck, looking to slap her a last time, she drops something. A small case containing a Duel Monsters card. Not any card: a white-colored one without a picture. One of the underlings picks it and immediately recognizes it. “H-hey boss, isn’t this a White Frame?!”
Even being thugs, they know those things are damn rare and hard to get. One of those could earn them a lot of greens. Dropping the girl as if it was a lifeless object, he takes the case. “So you had one of these and didn’t tell me? You have guts missy!” he yells, kicking her again. “Well, I suppose it will be a good parting gift. I’ll take this.”
She has endured abuse for so long she doesn’t care really, but those words were what broke her inside. “No… Return… it…” she says while trying to stand up. They did break some of her ribs, so standing is painful. Still, she can’t let them take that. “Return it… to me…”
The man laughs. “You DARE to speak up to me? You worthless scum?” And then he swings his arm, hitting her and making her fall again. She twisted her ankle, so she can’t get up again. “Be grateful that we’re not killing you.”
As the guys reach the door of that dark room, she cries. Not from pain, but rage. Regret. Despair. She couldn’t resist to them, as always. They did what they wanted with her, then threw her away. But she didn’t mind, because she was alone. She was worthless.
But that card was everything for her. The only thing that reminded her that she once had a family. That she once was happy. Her only memory of those times was that card, and they were taking it. They’re the worst. They’re not human. But she cannot do anything.
Then, why don’t you reduce everything to ashes…?
She opens her eyes, scared. She had been abused, but wasn’t crazy. Yet she was listening a voice. Struggling to sit on the floor, she looks ahead. It has just been a split second: those men are still at the door. They’re about to lea…
Wait. Why they don’t notice? The White Frame is gleaming. But it seems no one notices. Why’s that? It’s shining so brightly, yet…
You’re tired of this, right…? I can help you… I can do what you couldn’t, and reduce everything to nothing…
…it pulsated. The card pulsated. The voice comes from that card. They really can’t see or listen it?
“What in the world…?” she says, confused.
The men turn to her. It seems they hear her, but not the weird voice.
Are you sure you want to let it go…?
Withstanding the pain, the girl stands up again. Her ankle makes cracking sounds and the pain on her ribs is unbearable, but she manages to stand. “I won’t allow you… to take that from me!”
The voice echoes on the room and laughs, pleased with this reaction.
Then I’ll lend you my strength… Close your eyes and listen… Listen to the chant, and repeat it… Allow me to roam this world once more…
The girl closes her eyes, trying to not succumb to the pain. After a second, she hears it. Those words, forbidden to the unworthy. The words that will change her life.
Cold flames will engulf the entire world… Pitch-black flower, bloom!
“What are you babbling ab…”
The man cannot finish his sentence, because the case of the frame breaks. Devilish purple flames emanate from the frame, surrounding the men and the whole room. Screaming in agony and despair, they burn slowly to their deaths, being reduced to ashes.
The girl can only look. It’s not fear… It’s…
Yes, it was amazement. And ecstasy. They’re gone. They are finally gone. After so much pain, they’re finally gone. They don’t exist anymore. She’s free.
The cramped room is on fire, but she couldn’t care less. She doesn’t care if she dies there. She’s finally free. Closing her eyes, she sits on the floor and leans into a wall, waiting for the end…
…but the flames won’t touch her.
Confused, she opens her eyes again, only to watch the subsiding flames. When she tries to grasp the situation, she notices something odd. As if dancing around something, the flames encircle the place where those men died.
Withstanding the pain, she reaches that place, and it seems the flames welcome her, as they dissipate when she’s near. And right in the center of the fire, she notices the Frame. It’s sparkling, as if it was just printed. Relieved, she proceeds to pick it up, only to notice something.
It’s not blank anymore.
~ Chapter 3 – The Beginning of the Symphony ~
It has been a long day for the freshmen at the Duel Academia. After the tests and a REALLY long speech from the Chairman, they are finally assigned their dorms and rooms. As he expected, Shinkurou got assigned to the “middle” section: Ra Yellow. Still, he was at the very top of the Yellows during the test, so a promotion to Obelisk during his first year isn’t impossible.
The young man walks to his dorm, which is in the middle of a really nice garden. Unlike in the old times, the dorms differ only in color and not in quality: they have more-less the same things, are similar in design and no privileges for the Obelisks, which pleased a lot of people.
Most of Shinkurou’s things were already delivered to the dorm with a moving service, so he just has a small bag with his belongings on his shoulder. He reaches the door, opens it and finds no-one inside: apparently he got there first. He was assigned a roommate, but it appears he’s not there yet. It’s a perfect situation for him, as he wants to continue that “special” talk with his “partner”.
Tossing his bag into one of the beds, he looks for the boxes containing his belongings and starts unpacking, raising his voice to talk.
“Sorry, but I’d like to continue where we left off. Is that okay?”
A familiar black flame materializes, and the translucent mannequin appears on the room. She doesn’t have her doll currently and you can see her legs entirely this time. The spirit sits on the opposite bed, crossing her legs and leaning her chin into her arm, chuckling.
“You’re rather impatient Master. Is that how you behave when that lady is involved?”
“Wanna make something out of it?” He’s not angry, but dislikes that his partner always finds something to tease him with.
“Not at all, I just find it interesting”, she answers while smiling creepily. Regaining her serious face, she starts to talk. “We spirits roam this world every now and then. We have our own dimension to live into, but some strays round this world. Some of us are also protector entities on your world as well. I’m sure you’re familiar with this.”
“Protector entities?”, ponders the boy. “Like the three Phantom Gods?”
“Similar to them, yes”. The spirit raises her hand and Shinkurou’s Deck case starts to glitter. It opens, and the cards start to float on the room. The “Dark Necrofear” card, a splitting image of this spirit, hovers on her hand. “While some of them roam this world freely, thanks to that man, some of us can interact with you humans by manifesting through these cards”.
Shinkurou’s busy unpacking and putting things in the drawers, but nods in agreement. “I heard from my old man back then. They’re kind of a modern version of some ancient sealing ritual or something”.
“Yes. But unlike those ancient methods, these cards are gentle to us spirits. It’s easy for us to roam into them, but in order to manifest on this world, a period of time is needed”, she answers. Shinkurou’s Deck piles neatly on a table at the order of Necrofear’s finger. “That’s what that man called “stabilizing”. Once we have stabilized, we are permanently linked to that card, and can manifest on this world”.
“But the White Frames were created several decades ago, weren’t they? What kind of creatures they host that need so many years to stabilize?”. Shinkurou’s rather concerned about this. He would probably be okay thanks to Necrofear, but Chisa and other Frame holders might be in danger.
“That much I don’t know. There’s a rather strong seal on these cards. It seems that nothing can be inquired on them until the seal is released, yet we cannot decipher the method to perform such task without unsealing the card.”
The boy sighs. “So it’s a case where the key is locked inside the chest huh.” Shinkurou starts to ponder. “Then that’s probably what Maeda-san wants with us: to tell us the way to undo that seal”.
Floating around, Necrofear throws her arms around Shinkurou’s neck, embracing him from behind. “I don’t think it’s so simple, my Master. Pegasus was a fickle man, and if so many precautions were needed, the cards themselves should hold some great powers. It’s possible that Maeda only gives you a faint hint, and lets you work the rest from there”.
“I hate those kinds of things”, he answers while scratching his head. “My old man used to do that all the frickin’ time. What if the holder never deciphers their riddle?”
“Then it would mean you weren’t the chosen one.”
“Chosen one?”, says a confused Shinkurou.
“Don’t you remember? We won’t lend our strength to any random individual. We choose who deserves us.” Necrofear separates from him and hovers, putting a hand on her chest. “I swore to be your loyal servant because I chose you. I’m sure those cards are the same. They won’t reveal themselves to anyone, except the right person.”
Finished with his stuff, Shinkurou sits on his bed. “Right person huh. I wonder what is the purpose of these things”, he says while looking at his White Frame.
Suddenly, Necrofear’s doll appears from the door, reaching its owner’s hands and apparently whispering something she understands. “Master, we shall continue this later. Your companion for this room is coming.”
Dropping on his back, he waves his hand at her. “Roger that. Thanks for the info.”
As suddenly as she appeared, Necrofear vanished on the darkness of the room. Then the door opened. A young man popped up from behind it.
“Hello! Is someone here already?”
A tall, slender man with chestnut hair and deep brown eyes steps into the room, carrying a bag on his back. Even among men, he’d be recognized as a very attractive individual. He turns to face Shinkurou, which gets up from the bed with a quick jump.
“Hey there”, greets the black-haired boy. “Sorry, I went ahead and took this bed”
“Haha, don’t worry! You came first, so it’s obvious you can choose!”. Laughing the issue off, he puts his bag on the floor and extends his hand to Shinkurou. “I’m Athos Lombardy, nice too meet you!”. He appears to be very bright and energetic.
Shinkurou responds with a handshake, glad that his roommate seems friendly. “Kimura Shinkurou. Shinkurou is okay.”
“Shinkurou huh? Hm…”. Athos seems to be pondering. “That’s too complicated. How about Kuro instead?”
And then Shinkurou gets up from the floor after falling when he listened to that nickname. “Not you too…”
Confused, Athos tilts his head. “You don’t like it?”
…this guy is of the same kind as Chisa, he thought. After a quick sigh, he concedes. “Nah, it’s okay. Nice to meetcha’.”
“We’ll be together for a while, so I hope we can get along!”
Shinkurou helps Athos with his luggage. Making small talk while at it, they finish sorting out the room. Other than having an interesting name (from Shinkurou’s point of view anyways) and good looks, Athos is a pretty normal guy with impressing dueling skills. They spent most of the night dueling against each other, giving useful feedback and testing different things and strategies.
…and as a result, they are almost running late to class next day. Someone called Shinkurou early in the morning, waking up Athos as well. Noticing the time, they rushed out as soon as they could, making it to the classroom in time. The tired pair is greeted by an energetic Chisato.
“Kuro-chan, good morning!!”
“Oh, hey Chisa…”, says while gasping for air. A pair of seconds later, he has regained his breath. “Nice save, thanks.”
She answers with a smile. “I figured you would need it.”
Raina appears behind Chisato, curious. “What are you guys talking about?”
“Ah, you see. She called me this morning. Apparently she’s an ESPer or something, because she knew that I was going to sleep in late”, answers Shinkurou with a big yawn.
Raina looks at Chisato with a surprised expression. “So you’re forgetful with your own stuff, yet remember things like that? You’re like a clumsy wife, y’know?”
While Chisato flaps her arms in embarrassment, Athos makes a comment. “Ah, so this is who called you at that time”. Turning to Chisato, the young man smiles. “Thanks a lot!”
The dazzling smile takes Raina back, while Chisato smiles back, apparently oblivious to his charms and regaining her composure. “No problem!”
Whispering to Shinkurou, the red-headed girl inquires about the brunette’s identity. “Hey, hey, who’s this guy?”
“Oh, right, you haven’t been introduced to him yet”. Clearing his throat, Shinkurou goes through the formalities. “This guy is my new roommate, Athos Lombardy. The long-haired girl is Raina Phillips, and the shorty is Chisato Kikaijima, a childhood friend”.
Athos bows respectfully. “Nice to meet you ladies.”
Raina does the same, somewhat nervous. Chisato bows as well, immediately turning to Shinkurou. “It’s awesome that we’re all in the same classroom, isn’t it?”
Raina ponders about that. “Now that you mention it, is an amazing coincidence. I’m sure I saw at least 200 students yesterday”.
Walking towards the seats, Shinkurou yawns and answers again. “Not all of them were accepted, from what I heard late night. Apparently more than half failed the exam, and as a result we only have 3 freshman groups.”
“It’s still a neat coincidence that you ended up with your friends Kuro, you should be more glad!” says an energetic Athos, even though he was yawning as well.
Chisato notices and her eyes gleam. “Oh, so you call him Kuro as well? See how it is a cool nickname?” she says while turning to Shinkurou, which is already in “zombie mode”: he’s not even listening and is half-dead on his seat. “Sheesh, Kuro-chan, that’s why you shouldn’t stay up late, you’re drowsy the whole day!”
The boy can hardly articulate words now though. “Lea’me ‘lone…”
Raina and Athos watch him with an expression of mixed surprise and disappointment. He was really composed just a second ago, and now it looks like a lifeless mass.
Pouting, Chisato decides to sit right next to him. Though appearing to be angry, she’s actually rather happy to be together with him. Raina seats next to her, while Athos is on the other side of Shinkurou.
A minute or two later, the other students begin taking their seats. The teacher has come and it’s giving an introductory speech. Not really listening to it, Shinkurou is deep in thought, hiding his concern with his sleepy face.
Maeda-san knew from the start we had Frames, else he wouldn’t have approached us directly… He also went to talk with the Principal after that. I’m sure that Chisato and me being together isn’t a coincidence… I wonder what kind of mess we got ourselves into with these blank things…
Since it was the first day, only really basic things were explained. The way classes would be handled, schedules, etcetera. Having only 1 event to attend after lunchtime, the students would be free to explore the facilities on the Academia for the rest of the day.
Assembling on the largest hall of the Academia, all students on campus gather for the special event. There are roughly 500 people from the first, second and third years combined: it IS an elite boarding school after all.
“I wonder what’s all of this about” says Raina, apparently uninterested.
“I don’t know, but seems important. Maybe a special school event?” comments Athos. “What do you think Kuro?” he asks to his friend, who is deep in thought. “Kuro?”
Chisato looks at Shinkurou, concerned. “Kuro-chan? Did something happen?”
The boy denies with his head. “Nothing yet, but I have a bad feeling about this…” That Maeda guy had something to do with this, that’s for sure.
And he took longer to think that than it took Maeda to appear on stage! Introduced as the President of Industrial Illusions, Maeda takes the microphone and announces a big event.
“Greetings, future duelists!! You’re all here to help me in this special campaign, an event without precedents!!”. As he says that, staff brings into the hall lots of sealed boxes. “On these boxes, we have hundreds and hundreds of card packs! With your student ID, you can proceed to receive 3 of those packs, totally free of charge! I’ll continue explaining once you get your packs so go on, go on, grab’em all!!”
Before they can rush wildly to the attendants, the teachers and security personnel organized things so people could take their packs peacefully. All students in the Academia ended with 3 packs, and Mr. Maeda continued with his explanation.
“Now open your packs, and look at the cards you got. It’s a special pack with reprints of lots of cards, so you might find very rare cards there!”
As people started opening the packs, you heard yells of joy and disbelief, with some awesome pulls and other not-so-good acquisitions. But one thing puzzled the whole Academia: there was a new kind of monster there. Noticing the confusion and apparently pleased with it, Mr. Maeda speaks up.
“I’m sure you already noticed the new cards, the “Tuner” monsters!! The truth is, no one knows what those monsters do, not even us!!”
The comment stirs confusion between the attendants. How come that not even the card designers know what their cards do?
“Actually, these cards were a design made by Mr. Pegasus himself when he was alive! But he didn’t tell us how to use these cards. The only thing we know is that their way of working is programmed into the KaibaCorp’s Database, so as long as you meet the conditions, the cards will fulfill their purpose… And that’s your work!! The purpose of this campaign is to find how these “Tuner” monsters work!! You have 2 weeks, and the winners of this contest will receive the privilege of having a card custom-made for their Decks!!”
The whole hall uproars in excitement. Getting a card tailor-made? That’s an once-in-a-lifetime chance! And since the cards were free, it’s worth a shot indeed. Still, Maeda had a last announcement to make.
“The only thing that we DO know about these “Tuner” guys is that they apparently work better with a “special” kind of card. So look out for people who might have a “special” card, and those who have them, work hard to discover the secret!!”
“Special card” he said. Is it a rare card? Is it a limited edition one, or a certain print? No one knows… Except Shinkurou. His serious face made Raina realize as well, while Chisato is confused and tilting her head. Athos just looks at them, knowing they’re up to something, yet not knowing exactly what.
As the event ended, lots of students remained on the outside of the hall, trading and buying/selling the rare cards pulled on the special packs. Shinkurou and the others instead went to a nearby park, which didn’t have a lot of people at the moment. As soon as they get there, Raina asks the obvious question.
“Shinkurou, did he mean…?”
“He couldn’t have meant anything but that”, says a worried Shinkurou. “Right into his hands.”
Chisato looks confused, but Athos beats her to the punch. “Eh, you guys lost me. What are you talking about?”
Shinkurou turns to him with a rather serious face. “Athos, do you know about the White Frames?”
“White Frames? Sure thing! They’re extremely rare and prized c…” Athos realizes what is this about. “You won’t tell me that…”
But Shinkurou nods, confirming his suspicions. “Both me and Chisato hold one each. Actually, Maeda-san approached us directly yesterday, so this makes it even more obvious. Most people won’t realize it, but these “Tuner” monsters are meant to be used with the White Frames somehow”.
“I… see. Hahaha! Then it means you guys have a lead start on us!” says Athos while smiling, but still showing his disappointment at the situation. It’s unfair that only holders of these extremely rare cards can win that type of contest. But his disappointment is suddenly turned into fear when Shinkurou steps closer to him with a menacing look. “K-kuro…? W-what’s up?”
“So you now know the situation. Sorry Athos, but I have to ask you to keep quiet about this”. The young man seems rather serious about this.
“I’m probably going to be okay, but I don’t want people attacking Chisato to try and get her Frame. No matter how good of a duelist she might be, she’s still a girl, and she’s rather frail. You know what I’m getting at, don’t you?”. It’s not a threat, but a warning instead. Now that they’re roommates, it’s inevitable that they can keep the secret from him, but Shinkurou wants to be sure that he can trust Athos on this matter.
The boy takes a deep breath… And then holds out his hand.
“One week of lunch”.
“…excuse me?”, answers a confused Shinkurou.
“One week of lunch will be enough to bribe me. Be grateful that my stomach is bigger than my greed!!” says a smiling Athos. “I could’ve kept quiet if you asked nicely, so this is for making me drop a cold sweat, you idiot!”
Shinkurou just bursts out laughing. “What kind of condition is that?!”. After a bit, he just smiles and shakes his hand. “Thanks.”
Raina is still concerned about this issue though. Whispering to Chisato, she still looks at Athos with disbelief. “Say Chisato, you think it’s a good idea to trust him like that?”
But the girl isn’t worried at all. “It’s no problem!” Looking at Shinkurou, she smiles. “You probably won’t believe me, but Shinkurou can look through peoples’ lies”.
“Huh?”. Raina doesn’t know what to think about that comment, while her friend just giggles.
“He told me a long time ago that he can know when people are lying, thanks to the eyes he “borrowed” from someone else. He never told me who was that person, but he’s always right on the mark when it’s about telling if someone says the truth.”
“You seriously expect me to believe that?” says a confused Raina.
Chisato denies with her head. “I won’t force you, but I believe in Kuro-chan, and you’ll believe me, right?” she says with a wide smile.
Giving a sigh, Raina can’t help but smile as well. “So it’s decided then”.
Chuckling from behind the girls, the spirit partner of Shinkurou just looks at the scene. “Looking into the hearts of people, she said? Fu fu fu… That’s only me peeking at your thoughts, then telling my Master, you naïve little girl”. Setting her sight into Athos, the mannequin smiles. “I’m glad you found a reliable set of companions so early Master, I’m sure you will need all the help you can gather to wake them up…”
The demon looks behind her, revealing an even bigger silhouette. “Isn’t that right, darling…?”
The big figure roars, echoing in the spirit world, yet inaudible in the human world. As Shinkurou and Athos decide on the menu for the next week, the sun sets on the hill overlooking the Academia, putting an end to the first of a series of hard days to come…
Burn, burn faster… BURN, EVERYTHING, BURN IN HELL!!
~ Continued in Chapter 4 ~
Hm, I wonder if I did go overboard with the first half... Although I did tone it down. Anyways!
Hope you enjoyed it, and wait for Chapter 4! This one should be ready in around a week, so probably next Friday it is!
Thanks for reading!