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Eine Mitternachtsstimme Ch.4 (Yu-Gi-Oh, Seto , Téa , Yugi , Joey , & Mai ; #11)

Title: "Eine Mitternachtsstimme" ("A Midnight Voice") Chapter 4: The Dinner Party, part II (other chapters available in other LJ comms and/or ff.net)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Subject: Seto Kaiba, Téa Gardner, Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, and Mai Valentine
Theme(s): 11; A Night In
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but the story is

Will be cross-posted to platonicism and http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4586339/4/


Téa was beginning to get concerned when Seto did not return after the fifteen minutes. Von Krolock was still in conversation with the three bikers, and so she quietly slipped away in search of him. Certain that he would not be at the party, she followed the same darkened corridor that he had gone through, marveling at the paintings and sculptures.

In the meantime, Seto’s assailant took a step towards the unconscious CEO, her long, white-blonde hair falling over her shoulders. She, too, was wearing an evening gown for the night’s occasion, but she was also wearing a satisfied smirk.

“I’ve said it before,” she purred. “You’re too shrewd for your own good.”

She knelt beside the unconscious CEO. She was in a position that could easily allow her to get him out of her way for good. But no… he was much more useful here, at the moment.

She slipped a piece of paper into the youth’s hand as a voice called out from down the hall.

“Kaiba? Kaiba, are you here?”

The woman beside Seto scowled as Téa approached. She gently touched the red leather book—the one that Seto had nearly placed his hand upon. The bookcase shifted, revealing an opening through which the woman made her escape. The bookcase slid back in place an instant before Téa arrived. She gasped as the flashlight beam fell upon Seto.

“Kaiba!?” she exclaimed. She knelt beside him now, trying to revive him. He seemed alright, save for the blow to his head.

Seto couldn’t hear her at first as he began the process of awakening. Instead he was hearing the same whisper in his mind that he had heard in his room that night. Shaking it off as an aftereffect from the blow, he decided to ignore it as Téa’s voice became clearer.

Seto finally rose up to his knees, glaring at Téa as he noticed her.

“What happened, Gardner? You were supposed to cover for me.”

“That’s just what I was doing!” she snapped. “But you didn’t show up!”

“And neither of our gracious hosts left the hall?”

“No… why?”

Seto glared at her.

“What do you think—I fell over on my own?” he asked, sardonically. “Someone attacked me from behind.”

“Well, it wasn’t either of the von Krolocks; they were talking to Valon and the others,” said Téa.

“Well, someone here has something against me, not that that’s new…” Seto said, trailing off as he noticed the paper in his hand. He unfolded it with a frown. “What’s this?”

Téa shined the flashlight on the paper, revealing only two words written in red ink.

Loxosceles kaiba,” Téa read. “Well, that doesn’t make any sense at all. And I wonder why they didn’t capitalize your name.”

Seto stared at the note, frowning. It looked completely unfamiliar to him. Was Loxosceles a person, and was this, perhaps, the calling card of the person who attacked him? But Téa was right; why wasn’t his name capitalized, though the writer of the note had seen to it that “Loxosceles” was?

“Well, it looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands,” said Téa, with a sigh. “But after solving the case of the Morse code dancing, this shouldn’t be too difficult; we have to home advantage this time.”

Seto merely deadpanned. Clearly, he saw no advantaged to getting clobbered, only to awaken with a cryptic clue in his hand.

“Let’s just get back to the dinner before we’re missed,” he said at last.

*************************************

“I don’t see anything here,” said Mai, as she, Yugi, and Joey began searching the upstairs rooms. “If this von Krolock is up to something, he’s certainly hiding it well. Did you guys find anything?”

“Nothing, aside from a lot of artwork and modern art sculptures,” said Yugi. “Whoever he is, he must be wealthy to afford it all.”

“Well, you know from Kaiba how rich these guys can get,” said Joey. “I’ll bet that Kaiba has enough money to turn his manor into the next Louvre. He could care less, though—that’s why it isn’t one already.”

“Kaiba, an art connoisseur…?” mused Mai, smirking at the image.

“Hold on…” said Yugi, knocking against a panel of the wall. “This part of the wall sounds hollow. There must be some way to open this panel…”

Mai glanced at one of the paintings on the walls, frowning. It was an oil painting of the artist himself, but she noticed that the frame looked crooked when compared to the others.

“This painting is off-center,” she said aloud.

“Yeah, you’re right,” said Joey, tilting his head slightly to see the proper alignment of the painting.

Yugi glanced up; something about the tilted painting intrigued him.

“Guys, can you help me take it down?” he asked.

“What!?” asked Mai, stunned. “Yugi, I thought we…” She trailed off, deciding to go along with the idea. Silently, the three friends removed the portrait from the wall. “Well, what do you know…?”

A section of the panel was sunk into the wall slightly.

“So who wants to do the honors?” asked Yugi.

“Allow me!” said Joey, pressing down on the switch.

There was a slight creak as the panel of wall swung in, revealing a secret room. However, the room looked nothing like the rest of the luxurious mansion. The part of the house they had seen so far had been marble and granite, painstakingly polished and maintained, but this room had walls of old, ill-maintained wood. However, footprints were visible in the layer of dust on the floor, and the desk in the middle of the room was dust-free and held several sheets of paper, illuminated by a moonbeam that shone from the open window.

“Well, that’s… weird…” Joey stated.

“Not the most eloquently put, but he has a point,” agreed Mai. “This room is clearly in use, so why wasn’t it redone with all the glitz and glamour that the rest of the place has?”

“Maybe these will tell us the answer,” said Yugi, glancing at the papers on the table. To his surprise, they were mostly handwritten invoices about NightWing Enterprises, along with product details and meeting dates. The previous day’s meeting with Seto had been documented.

“This must be his home office,” said Joey. “Weird place for it, though… Why wouldn’t he use one of the nicer rooms instead of this place?”

“Maybe he wanted it hidden from the rest of the house,” said Mai. “If I had a home office, I wouldn’t want uninvited guest dropping in; I’d hide it behind a secret panel, too.”

“Not much of a secret; we figured it out, didn’t we?” the blond boy asked.

“Hasn’t anyone else noticed something strange about these invoices?” asked Yugi, going over them.

Mai and Joey glanced over his shoulder.

“Well, they seem to be in order,” said Mai. “No suspicious transactions, or anything of the sort…”

“And von Krolock’s handwriting is pretty good,” added Joey.

“That’s just it!” exclaimed Yugi. “Look—every single one of these documents is handwritten!”

“Yeah… so what does it mean?” asked Joey.

“Why would the head of a company handwrite every single official document and invoice?” asked Yugi. “Why wouldn’t he use a computer for convenience and efficiency?”

“Maybe they’re just not his forte?” offered the blond youth.

Mai frowned.

“Yugi has a point,” she said. “How could this von Krolock work as a CEO without using computers at all? How does he keep in touch with his employees and clients? He couldn’t possibly run this show by himself…”

She trailed off as flapping of wings was heard, and the three turned to see a large bat fly in from the window and land on a perch beside the desk. It hung upside-down, glancing at them with its beady eyes.

“Looks like he has a pet…” remarked Yugi.

“Something isn’t right here,” said Joey, frowning at the bat. “I’m certain that’s the same bat I saw two nights ago when I was pulling that all-nighter…”

“You mean the bet with Tristan that you lost anyway…?” Mai teased, unable to resist.

“Yeah, that…” Joey grumbled. “But, seriously… This guy flew by my window, landed in the same tree where Delphi was, and scared her half out of her wits. I’d never seen a bat this huge.”

“Well, let’s just leave him alone for now,” said Yugi. “I want to see if there are any more secret panels in this floor.”

They slipped out of the door, the bat watching them from its perch.

**********************************

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Marik Ishtar had been pulling an all-nighter of his own. He, of course, hadn’t been interested in video games at all; he was going over the photographs of the odd Anubis medallion and researching book after book, trying to figure out what on earth it signified. He gathered that it was created during the reign of Lord Sethos, probably by a disgruntled enemy, intended to be a curse. But the exact details of the curse were still unknown to him.

He sighed. One thing was certain, though; the others should get the medallion out of their possession as soon as possible. The images chilled him every time he looked into the ruby eyes of the jackal-headed creature… and that was just a photograph. The real thing would be undoubtedly worse.

Marik yawned. Right now, he was the only one in the library, having stayed behind after closing time; he had purposefully chosen this time and location, knowing that he did not want to be disturbed in the middle of his research. And he had read and researched all through the night.

And for all that work, I’ve only found vague information,” he thought, sending Yugi an email with what little details he had learned.

He gathered up the photographs and books. The library would be opening soon, and he felt as though that the less who knew about the odd medallion, the better it would be.

Carrying the stack of books and references under his arm, he headed for home. he was surprised to see the door ajar as he approached.

“Ishizu? Odion?”

There was no reply. Surely they wouldn’t still be sleeping now! They were both early risers and would have been having breakfast at this time. But when he glanced into the breakfast nook, it was empty.

Puzzled, Marik took the books to keep them in his room, but he stopped short upon seeing an unconscious figure lying in the corridor. The books fell from his arms as he stared, horrified.

“Odion!” he cried, rushing to his adopted brother’s side. “Odion, what happened!? Who did this to you!?”

The older man stirred, beginning to come to.

“Marik…?” he asked, shaking the cobwebs from his mind. “Are you alright?”

“Me? I was not the one unconscious!” the younger youth replied. “What happened?”

“I am not sure,” Odion replied. “You didn’t see anyone when you entered?”

“Not at all,” said Marik. “The door was opened, and I thought it was strange, but I didn’t think that it foreshadowed something so terrible. Someone must have come in; they attacked you! Did you see who it was?”

“No…” Odion said, suppressing a shudder. “Marik, this… entity, or whoever or whatever it was… It did not leave just like that.”

“What are you saying?” asked Marik, sensing that he would not like the news.

The older man pointed to Ishizu’s room.

“I had come here to check on our sister,” he said. “But the room was empty when I arrived, and then I felt the blow descend upon me.”

He didn’t need to go on; Marik knew exactly what had happened. Ishizu had vanished—the next victim of the mysterious disappearances.

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