Friends somehow always find the time...

Conversation in the Graveyard

Notes: Two Duel Monsters have a heart-to-heart talk in the graveyard while waiting out their Master's duel. Not romantic in the least. Will probably confuse people who have only seen the Kids WB version: here are a few tidbits that might clear things up. A tribute summon is something that was introduced in the Battle City story arc of the manga, and involves the requirement of sacrificing 2 monsters in order to summon (put into play) a level 7 or higher monster. (Level 5 or 6 monsters need one monster sacrifice.) In addition, during Battle City, Yuugi took the Celtic Guardian out of his deck because he restructured it. Knowing that, YGO fans should be able to follow what the two monsters are talking about in this fic.
Hope you enjoy!

“Hello, Dark Magician.” He waved from his seated position on a fallen tombstone at the disoriented monster who’d appeared in the graveyard.

The most powerful magic-user in all of Duel Monsters blinked, and the other monster knew he was trying to adjust to the daunting atmosphere of the card cemetery. Finally, he walked over, “Celtic Guardian?”

“I haven’t seen you in a long, long while,” the elven swordsman tried to smile in something of a cheerful manner; it was difficult in this place. “In truth, I hadn’t expected to see you ever again.”

The Dark Magician regarded him solemnly as if trying to read some more meaning out of those words. The Celtic Guardian let him—he might be the greatest sorcerer of all time, but an elf was synonymous to “master of dissembling” and met the sharp gaze with complete evenness. In the end his friend sighed and sat down, placing his staff beside him. The Celtic Guardian noticed that he didn’t loosen the grip on it though. Just as well. He still had one hand on the hilt of his sword. The graveyard had a way of making you want to keep your weapons as close as possible. . . “I’m sorry.”

That apology startled him, but he knew immediately what the Dark Magician was referring to. “What, for Master taking me out of the deck before that last series of tournaments? How was that your fault?”

“I’m not saying it’s my fault. I’m just. . .sorry.”

“Well, don’t be. You’re his favorite monster, and level seven to boot. I’m just a level four.” There was no bitterness in the Celtic Guardian’s voice. Merely a statement of fact. He shrugged to emphasize his words.

“Master treats all of us equally,” the Dark Magician protested, but his words rang false in the hollow graveyard, and both monsters knew it well. Discomfited, the sorcerer silenced, suddenly finding some distant tombstone very interesting. Eventually he cleared his throat and, seeking to change the topic, asked, “Where are the other monsters before me and you?”

“Wandering around,” the Celtic Guardian shrugged again, this time waving a hand vaguely to indicate ‘around.’ “That fairly new one, Magnet Warrior Alpha? He’d long since rushed off, saying something about how unfair tributes were and…oh…” Well, curse the gods. He’d gone and forgotten the new tribute rules, as well as his companion’s high-level. What happened to the good old days, when one only had to place a card to get them onto the field? “He didn’t really mean it,” the elf finally said lamely, feeling rather stupid and insensitive.

The Dark Magician sighed. “I wish I were a level six. Summoned Skull has the same attack strength and he’s a level six. He only has one monster on his conscience during a game.”

“Well, your defense strength is a lot higher than Summoned Skull…” the Celtic Guardian pointed out.

“It’s worth nothing. Master only plays me in defense mode when he thinks I’m about to get destroyed and he’s trying to save life points.”

“Well…” the elf trailed off helplessly. It was true. What could he say to that? “At least he’s kept you in his deck throughout all the games.” He pointed out, hoping he sounded cheerful.

It was the wrong thing to say, if the elf had wished to make the sorcerer feel better. The Dark Magician abruptly stiffened, as it dawned on the black-clad monster that he had been sitting there the entire time, feeling sorry for himself in front of a fellow monster who had once been taken out of the deck! He wanted to shrivel in the heat of a Neutron Blast. “I am so sorry,” he apologized, feeling utterly ashamed. “I didn’t think. . .”

“Stop it,” the Celtic Guardian’s voice booked no argument. “Now.”

Despite the fact that the Dark Magician was 3 levels higher than the Celtic Guardian, with an attack strength of 2500 against 1400, he promptly closed his mouth.

“I didn’t mind,” the elf continued seriously. “He did what he had to for the deck to be stronger. I don’t have any effects, I’m a typical level four, and really, there’s many monsters out there to replace me.” At the look of increasing dismay in his companion’s face he added, “Besides, I’m back now, aren’t I?”

The Dark Magician seemed not to hear that last reassurance. “There is no monster that is expendable,” he said with a conviction that was touching to the Celtic Guardian. None. Don’t ever think you’re expendable. All the other monsters were convinced Kuribo was useless, and look at him now!”

“Strutting around like a fool peacock, harping about being ‘the ultimate defense,’” the Celtic Guardian snorted. “I had half a mind to plant my sword through the furry little demon the last I saw him.”

In true speak-of-the-devil style, Kuribo floated by, wide eyes indignant as he caught sight of the two monsters sitting side by side. He had obviously heard the last comment about the sword and was rather displeased. Turning up his nose (which, considering his body, nearly made him flip over), Kuribo floated away again, as if to say, “I have better things to do than hang around the likes of you.

Both monsters hid undignified snickers. “How did he get here anyway?” The elf asked. “I was gone too soon to see.”

“Master’s opponent used a De-Spell and got rid of Multiply,” the sorcerer replied, his slight depression lifted at the thought. “You should have seen Kuribo’s face when that happened!”

“So I take it whatever monster on the other side clobbered him then?” The Celtic Guardian smirked in an uncharacteristically devious manner. “I wish I’d seen that. Kuribo needs a humbling lesson.” He paused when the Dark Magician didn’t reply, and looked over at the sorcerer, puzzled.

“Actually. . .” the normally unruffled monster was almost fidgeting. “Master used Kuribo and Magnet Warrior Alpha as tributes. To. . .uh, summon me.”

“Oh.” Damn. Why couldn’t they ever get away from the upsetting topics?

Just as Celtic Guardian sought to salvage the deteriorating situation, Kuribo and Magnet Warrior Alpha chose the moment to show up again. Pretending not to notice the other two monsters, Alpha turned to Kuribo and said, “. . .Yes, and didn’t it hurt? Tribute summons are awful!” Kuribo nodded vigorously. . .or tried to. He wound up bobbing up and down in mid-air. Before the Celtic Guardian could think of a suitably painful way to kill the two infuriating monsters, they had left.

Meanwhile, the Dark Magician looked aghast. “Tributes hurt? But I thought. . .” Having never been used as one, the sorcerer naturally had no idea how tributes felt, and the Celtic Guardian knew his friend had been hoping against hope that they were relatively painless. And it was likely he’d never gotten a chance to ask his fellow monsters, either, seeing as Duel Monsters were sealed and asleep while in the deck, and could only communicate on the field or in the graveyard. Besides which, given the reclusive, quiet nature of the Black Magician when not battling, the Celtic Guardian doubted that his friend would have asked any of the tributed monsters such a personal question.

“He’s lying,” the Celtic Guardian cut in swiftly, interrupting both his friend’s words and his rapidly flying thoughts. “Tributes are probably the only way to go that doesn’t involve pain.”

“But you’ve never been tri—”

“I asked Magnet Warrior Beta, who, unlike his brother, doesn’t hold a grudge.” He glared in the direction where Alpha and Kuribo had gone off.

“Well, that’s a relief,” the sorcerer mused, looking immensely reassured. He even marginally relaxed, which the elf thought was a vast improvement over how tense and unhappy the monster had been over tributes and the fact that the Celtic Guardian had been left out of the deck once. The two sat in silence for a while, each caught in their own private thoughts. The Celtic Guardian wondered how the duel was going, and if his Master was winning. It was impossible to tell in the graveyard. . .he’d have to wait until another monster appeared for some news. And speaking of the graveyard. . .the elf nearly started. He’d almost forgotten where he was because he’d been so busy trying to distract the Dark Magician from his worries. The place seemed almost. . .peaceful now. Almost. It definitely helped, to have a friend there with you. He cast a sideways glance at the Dark Magician staring contemplatively into the misty air, and smiled faintly. As little as the two monsters saw each other, especially now that the tribute stipulation was in effect, there was no denying that they were friends.

“. . .ever worry?”

“Eh?” The Celtic Guardian snapped out of his thoughts with several rapid blinks, just in time to hear the last two words of his friend’s question. The Dark Magician was raising an eyebrow at him. There was a pause. “I apologize. I have no idea what you just said.” He admitted almost sheepishly.

“Don’t you ever worry?” The Dark Magician repeated, not the least annoyed at the other monster. He had turned again to face forward and was once again peering into the mist, as if something vague yet vitally important were hidden there.

“What about?” The Celtic Guardian asked, though he had a fairly good inkling of what it was about.

“Being tributed.” The Dark Magician looked very troubled. “Being tributed. . .so I can be summoned.” Immediately the Celtic Guardian knew what his friend was truly trying to ask. The unspoken question hung in the air, something heavy on a thin string.

If you were used as tribute to summon me, how would things stand between us?

The thin string suspending that question seemed to hum, an unearthly sound in the graveyard. The Celtic Guardian, without any hesitation, reached out and snapped it. “My friend, I would be absolutely honored if you were to be summoned through me.”

“Really?” The Dark Magician gave up staring into the distance and looked instead toward his friend, who was right there beside him.

“Really.” He had never meant any word more in his life. “And nothing would ever change.” He met the Dark Magician’s inquiring gaze and held it evenly, pushing every ounce of reassurance he could muster into his own expression.

And slowly, the Dark Magician smiled. A second later, Celtic Guardian smiled right back.

* * *

It’s every monster’s hope to be summoned as soon as possible. To feel that rush, that thrill of being awake and unsealed…even the pain of death doesn’t deter the weakest of us. Truthfully, I can understand—but not condone—Alpha’s attitude. His time on the field was cut short so another monster could be summoned. . .I suppose that makes him very bitter. But my friend, the Dark Magician, will never awaken, will never experience that wonderful freedom, if there isn’t a tribute to bring him out. Sure, there’s magic cards like Card Destruction and Monster Reborn.(1) But magic cards are fickle, less eager to be drawn into the hand. They are, after all, not alive and cannot understand the need to be released. Monsters are the reliable ones; nothing can go wrong if the tribute summon is done with monsters. And if it means giving up the wonderful freedom of being on the field, if it takes going to the graveyard, so my friend can experience living, then I’ll do it without a qualm. Because, really, there’s so little else we monsters can do for each other.

* * *

Yuugi looked through the cards in his graveyard as he was about to put them back in the deck. He stopped abruptly when he noticed two cards. “Well, that’s odd. . .”

What is? His other self asked curiously from within him.

The Game King slowly, thoughtfully pulled the two cards from the pile and put the rest back in the deck. “I could have sworn there were cards in between these two…they certainly weren’t destroyed one after another…”

In his hand lay the Dark Magician and the Celtic Guardian.

* * *

(1) For those of you not familiar with the game, the Celtic Guardian is talking about using Card Destruction to get the Dark Magician (or similar high-level monsters) into the graveyard, and then using Monster Reborn to bring him back. This allows the player to avoid the tribute requirement.