Chapter 26: New Blades

Once he had arrived at the Yellow Submarine, Yoshimitsu Hayashi found his friends by its entrance. Ryuuji Yamazaki and his little brother Reiya had huge grins on their faces, Daisuke Hashimoto was adjusting his glasses with a more timid smile, and Nagisa Mizushima was sighing.

"Hello, Yoshi-san!" Reiya excitedly greeted the fair-haired youth.

"Welcome back!" Ryuuji added "We've missed this place a lot, and I think the owner missed us just as much, so let's get to it!" The statement earned him a chuckle from Taka.

"Yeah, it does feel nostalgic to be back here, even though it hasn't been that long." he said "It's here that I've learnt how to play, after all." Nagisa scowled.

"Why do we have to distract ourselves with such things?" she said, in a cold and quite annoyed tone "I wouldn't want you to forget we have more dangerous things to deal with, Ryuuji!"

"I haven't forgotten, Nagisa!" the red-haired duelist replied "But we can't give up our practice sessions, still!"

"I have to agree with Ryuuji." Daisuke suggested, making both of his teammates turn to him with confused expression.

"What?" Nagisa couldn't help but ask.

"Well, if we do this and keep a low profile, the Omicron Crucis might lower their guard down for not seeing us on their trail, and that would give us the chance to find out what they're up to..." he timidly suggested. Celestia dropped her gaze pensively, then nodded.

"You might have a point..." she mused "But I doubt Ryuuji had thought about that while calling us here."

"Can't deny that..." Rayearth said, scratching the back of his head, before he let out a sigh, making his teammate frown at him.

"Besides..." the duelist continued "We still don't know what they're capable of. Maybe Soaku and Mazui would let themselves be fooled like this, but Unzari and… Him are much smarter than that. I find it hard to believe that they will let their guard down." As well as everyone shivering from the mere mention of the Demon, everyone could agree with that.

"All the more reason to get here and train, in my book!" Ryuuji said. Then, he turned to his little brother "Besides, my brother is already excited to see us duel! Isn't that right, Reiya?"

"Mhm!" Reiya nodded vigorously "Can't wait to see you all in action! I'm looking forward to learn from you!" Daisuke couldn't help but smile and blush a bit at the comment, and even Nagisa's face couldn't help but soften a little in front of the little boy.

"So!" Ryuuji said, with a big grin plastered on his face "Shall we go in?" Nagisa's expression returned to a stoic frown at her teammate's statement, but still, she entered the Yellow Submarine along with everyone else, and approached Yoshimitsu.

"Yoshimitsu-kun." she said, in an apologetic tone "Please forgive my teammate. I wonder if he has only duels in his head more often than not..."

"That's not it at all." Yoshimitsu replied, without thinking, making the blue-eyed girl turn to him. He continued, with a bit of uncertainty in his voice due to her gaze cast upon him "Lately… H-He's been helping me with trying to reason with Hiniku-san..." Celestia slightly tilted her head to the side, then she spoke again.

"Yes." she said "I know what kind of guy he really is. Remember that I've known him for more time than you did..." Immediately, the fair-haired youth's skin became pale from the fear of having angered her, jumped back and bowed repeatedly.

"I'm deeply sorry, Nagisa-san!" he said "I'm terribly sorry, I didn't mean to berate your friendship with Ryuuji! I really didn't!" He stopped when he heard a giggle and, much to his surprise, he understood that it was from Nagisa, who was smiling at him.

"You don't need to apologize." she said, shaking her head. Ryuuji couldn't help but snicker at the scene.

"What is Yoshi-san doing?" Reiya asked, confused.

"He's being too polite, that's what." his brother replied, before turning to Yoshimitsu and calling him with a wink "Hey! Come over here! It's time to buy some booster packs!"

"Ah, coming!" Taka swiftly replied and hurried to the vendor's desk, along with Ryuuji and Reiya.

"Ah, it's so good to see you again, guys!" the vendor replied with a warm smile on his face.

"Same here, man!" Ryuuji replied, grinning.

"So, how many booster packs would you like?" the vendor asked.

"3 packs for me, please!" Reiya quickly said.

"I'm taking 5." Rayearth said, before turning to Taka "And you? How many are you taking?" The fair-haired youth thought about it for a moment, then he decided.

"I'm taking 3 too, please!" he said, making the vendor instantly pick up some booster packs from behind him and turn back to the clients, giving them what they wanted.

"Here you are." they said. The three players immediately began to open their newly acquired booster packs on the desk. Yoshimitsu couldn't help but smile, seeing that the cards he had found could have been pretty useful for his deck. But his joy was nothing compared to Ryuuji's.

"Oh yeah!" he exclaimed "I've finally found the Ruler I've been searching for so long!" Everyone turned to him.

"You mean..." Nagisa murmured in stupor as her teammate showed everyone his find. It was a Fire Ruler named "Falltgold, the Dragoon". It was a knight in a menacing red armor, armed with a spear. Its J-Ruler side, shown by Ryuuji shortly after, was an enormous and fiery dragon named "Bahamut, the Dragon King".

"I've finally found Bahamut!" Rayearth exclaimed, his eyes shining in happiness.

"Will you build a deck with it right away?" Nagisa asked, while Daisuke was still rendered silent from stupor, his eyes open wide.

"Not yet, maybe after this." Ryuuji said. "I'll have to elaborate a strategy with it, first." He then looked at Reiya, who was slightly confused with the cards he had found. He was just blankly staring at them, not knowing exactly what to do with them. Ryuuji lowered to his level and looked at the cards.

"Nice find, Reiya!"he said, smiling warmly.

"Really?" Reiya asked, beginning to get excited.

"Definitely!" he nodded "I can show you how you could use them, if you want."

"Yes, please!" he replied "But first, I want to see Yoshi-san duel." At the comment, Yoshimitsu couldn't help but blush.

"B-but why me, Reiya?" he couldn't help but ask.

"Because I've never seen you duel before, but I'd like to." the little boy replied. His big brother chuckled.

"You heard the boy, Yoshimitsu!" he added "It's still too soon for you to face Nagisa, who's the strongest of the three of us, so you'll be facing off against Daisuke!" Windam then stepped up, adjusting his glasses, and smiled at his opponent.

"I'm looking forward to learn from you." he said "Ryuuji had told me your dueling style is quite similar to mine..."

"It is?" Yoshimitsu asked, uncertainly.

"Daisuke is a control player." Ryuuji explained "He focuses on his opponent's plays and cancels the most dangerous ones. You've been using a similar strategy lately..." Eventually, the fair-haired youth understood what his red-haired friend was talking about.

"Oh, right!" he replied "Yeah, I do have cards for such a strategy in my deck..."

"I think it would be fitting to put you against someone who has a strategy much like yours." Ryuuji smiled "It would definitely help you improving." Yoshimitsu nodded at the remark.

"Yoshimitsu, have you got any interesting new cards you wanna add to your deck before we duel?" Daisuke asked.

"Actually, I have some..." the fair-haired youth replied.

"Then take a look at your deck before we begin!" Windam recommended, with a smile "Here, take a seat in front of me! I won't peek!"

"Thank you, Daisuke!" Yoshimitsu replied while complying. Then, he began looking at the cards in his deck and made the modifications he needed.

"I'm ready!" he said as soon as he had done.

"Good, let's begin then!" Daisuke replied while beginning to shuffle his cards before setting them in front of him. Once his opponent had done the same, the bespectacled duelist made a suggestion.

"We could decide who goes first with Rock, Paper, Scissors." he said. Taka nodded at that and they shook their fist twice before showing their chosen signs. Daisuke had his hand open like paper, while Yoshimitsu's fist was still closed like a rock.

"Looks like you go first, Yoshimitsu!" Daisuke remarked, with a smile. Yoshimitsu smiled back, nodding, as the two of them drew their initial 5 cards from their decks.

"I'm resting Grimm for a Magic Stone!" Taka proclaimed as he plucked a Stone from his stack. Much to his chagrin, it was a Light Stone, which didn't allow him to use his usual game start. Yoshimitsu looked at his hand, checking if there was still something he could do with that Stone.

"I'm summoning Tinker Bell, the Spirit!" he finally proclaimed, putting on the table one of his new entries. It was a Resonator with the cost of 1 Light will, and it had Flying as well as 0 Attack and Defense Points. However, its ability more than made up for it.

"Tinker Bell gains 200 Attack and Defense Points for every Fairy Tale I have on the Field, including itself." the fair-haired youth explained.

"So that means it has 200 Attack and Defense right now." Daisuke deduced. Yoshimitsu nodded.

"There's nothing else I can do now, so I'll end my turn." he said. Windam immediately drew a card from his deck and rested his Christie for a Wind Stone.

"I summon Elvish Priest from my hand!" he said, slamming on the table his will-producing monster and thus using the game start Yoshimitsu had always used in his previous duels.

"When Ryuuji said Daisuke played a lot like me, he meant it!" Yoshimitsu thought. "But still, I'll have to be on the lookout for other tricks he could pull off..." Since Daisuke couldn't use his monster's will ability right away, he had no choice but to pass the turn to his opponent.

"Your move, Yoshimitsu." he said, prompting the fair-haired duelist to draw a card, recover his Stones and rest his Ruler for a new one. Taka sighed in relief in seeing that he had gained a Gusting Skies.

"I'll summon Gretel." he proclaimed "And I'll use her entrance ability to check the next card of my Magic Stone deck." After putting on the table his own Human girl, the fair-haired duelist checked the first card of his Stone stack and sighed in relief again in seeing that it was a Wind Stone, which meant it was added to his other 2 Stones, ready to be used. Also, with 2 Fairy Tales on Yoshimitsu's Field, Tinker Bell had 400 Attack and Defense.

"I'll use my Wind Stone to summon my own Elvish Priest!" he said, slamming on the table his own will producer.

"By using Daisuke's tactic, he had managed to invert the will gap in his favour..." Nagisa observed while watching the two duelists facing each other "But for how long will Yoshimitsu-kun be able to keep his advantage up?" Ryuuji and Reiya were watching the duel as well, and while Reiya was smiling from amusement in watching the duel, Ryuuji was also admiring the progress Yoshimitsu had made.

"For now they've been using the same tactics..." he thought "...This will get interesting!" Taka ended his turn and his opponent quickly drew and recovered, before resting Christie for a second Wind Stone.

"I'll rest my Elvish Priest to summon a second one, and then I'll summon Gretel!" Daisuke said, attempting his signature gamble, which his opponent had managed to pull off in his turn. Luckily, he managed to gain an extra Wind Stone as well.

"With the Elvish Priest and that Stone, he has 2 wills open..." Yoshimitsu thought, as his opponent passed the turn to him "He might use them for a counter..." He drew and recovered, before resting Grimm for a second Gusting Skies. "Perhaps I shouldn't make moves which could put him on alert..."

"I'll summon Hansel!" he proclaimed, summoning Gretel's brother on the Field. As a consequence, Tinker Bell's strength rose to 600. Taka thought it safe enough to attempt a first strike on Windam's Life Points, since even the combined strength of the monsters the bespectacled duelist had on his Field was enough to destroy the little fairy after the attack.

"I'll attack you with Tinker Bell!" he said, resting his monster. Daisuke was unable to block due to Tinker Bell's Flying ability, and so his Life Points dropped to 3400.

"With that, it's your move, Daisuke!" Yoshimitsu said, with a smile, prompting his opponent to smile back and begin his turn, drawing and recovering. He then rested his Ruler for a 6th card for his hand.

"I'll summon Fina, the Silver Player!" he proclaimed, The summoned monster boosted the strength of all other Elves on Windam's Field by 400, rendering his Elvish Priests more resilient. Not only that, its presence made Tinker Bell lose its Flying ability, leaving it open to blocks.

"With that, I'll end my turn." he proclaimed, leaving his two Elvish Priests open for an eventual counter. Taka then drew and recovered, before resting Grimm for a Light Stone.

"I need to find a way around his Fina..." he thought, as he looked at the Field and at his hand, thinking about what he could do. He managed to think of a plan.

"First, I'll use Grimm's effect!" he said, resting one of his Stones as a cost for the ability, which could be used only once per turn "I can discard a Fairy Tale in my hand and look for another one in my deck!" He discarded from his hand a Light Fairy Tale, a Blinded Prince, exchanging it for an Athos of the Three Musketeers from his deck.

"That's his most powerful monster!" Daisuke quickly realized, tensing up. Yoshimitsu decided not to summon it right away, knowing that his opponent might have a block ready for use. Instead, he summoned a second Tinker Bell, the Spirit, which had 800 Attack and Defense Points from the get-go due to the great presence of Fairy Tales in his player's Field. His first Tinker Bell had a strength of 800 as well.

With that summon, Taka ended his turn, prompting Windam to draw, recover and rest his Ruler for a Light Stone. However, just as he had gained it…

"I play Law of Silence!" Yoshimitsu quickly played his Quickcast Chant, trying to make his opponent lose a turn.

"I'm negating it with Absolute Cake Zone!" Daisuke countered it. However, the fair-haired duelist was prepared.

"I'll use an Absolute Cake Zone of my own to counter that." he said, surprising not only his opponent, but the rest of the Sephiroth Tetragram as well.

"So he added that card in his deck as well..." Nagisa thought. Daisuke decided not to counter the card, and so lost a turn while its player gained an extra card, having 2 cards in his hand. Not wanting to waste his attacks and risk the destruction of his monsters, the bespectacled duelist had no choice but to pass the turn to his opponent, who drew, recovered and rested his Grimm for a Wind Stone. He had a plan for his turn.

"I'll summon Athos of the Three Musketeers from my hand!" he proclaimed. However, he was met with Windam's quick reaction.

"I'll negate the summon with my Absolute Cake Zone!" This time, Yoshimitsu had no means to counter the card, and Athos was sent to the graveyard before it could enter the field. He then moved to the second idea he had for his turn.

"I'll summon my second Gretel!" he proclaimed. He knew that its effect would have worked for sure, since he had only two Light Stones, while the remaining ones were eligible to be plucked out from the ability. In fact, he managed to gain his 7th stone, a third Gusting Skies. Also, the power of both his Tinker Bells rose to 1000.

"With that, it's your move!" he said, prompting her opponent to draw and recover. Daisuke then rested Christie for a 6th card for his hand.

"I'll summon my own Hansel." he proclaimed, and he had both the brothers on his Field as well. "Then, I'll play Light Palace, the King's Castle, buffing all my Humans by 200!" Both of the brothers were buffed as a result of the move.

"Lastly, I'll summon a second Gretel as well!" he proclaimed, trying to pull off his will gamble for a second time. However, Gretel's ability revealed a Light Stone as the first Stone in Windam's Magic Stone deck, thus marking the failure of the attempt. With nothing left to do, he ended his turn.

Yoshimitsu drew and recovered, before resting Grimm for a Wind Stone. He had only 2 cards in his hand, and he was planning to use one of them, hoping not to be countered.

"I'll summon Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess!" he proclaimed, putting on the table a cost 3 Resonator with 600 Attack and Defense Points. However, that monster's true purpose lied in its ability. "It can't be recovered during my usual Recovery Phase and I can recover it only by resting other Resonators of mine. I can rest it to grant the Flying ability, as well as an Attack boost of 200, to anyone of my Resonators!" Since it was a Fairy Tale Resonator, the Tinker Bells' power rose to 1200.

"That card is remarkable!" Daisuke thought, tensing up "That's his way around my Fina's effects! I'll have to be able to strike him down before he's able to use her..."

"Your move, Daisuke!" Taka said, prompting his opponent to draw and recover. He then rested his Ruler, gaining the Light Stone he had revealed in his previous turn.

"The card I've drawn is just what I needed!" Windam thought, looking at his hand, then he looked back at the Field.

"I'm summoning Elvish Bowman!" he proclaimed, before slamming on the table the Addition-destroying Elf, which entered the Field with 700 Attack and Defense Points due to Fina's boosting ability. "Then I'll summon a second Fina!" However, his second summon met his opponent's swift reaction.

"I'm negating the summon with Absolute Cake Zone!" Taka used the only card left in his hand, swapping it with another one from his Deck as he negated the dreaded summon which could have spelt his defeat. Stupor was on Daisuke's face as well as his teammates as they watched the rookie duelist pull off that maneuver.

"I should've performed Christie's Judgment and destroyed that Rapunzel before he had a chance to use it..." Daisuke thought, quickly understanding he was about to lose. He passed the turn to his opponent, who drew and recovered, before resting Grimm for his last Stone, his fourth Gusting Skies. Yoshimitsu prepared himself to deliver the finishing blow.

"First, I'll summon Blinded Prince!" he proclaimed. It was a cost 2 Fairy Tale Resonator with 800 Attack and Defense Points, which, however, was unable to attack or block unless Rapunzel was on its player's Field as well. As a result of its summon, the Tinker Bells' power rose once more, reaching 1400.

"Then, I'm using Rapunzel's rest ability on one of my Tinker Bells!" he proclaimed. By being rested, Rapunzel restored Tinker Bell's Flying ability, as well as making its Attack Points reach 1600.

"Then, I'll rest my first Gretel to recover Rapunzel, so that she will be able to use her ability on my other Tinker Bell as well!" However, the power of two flying Tinker Bells with an attacking power of 1600 each was still not enough to finish off Windam, so Taka had to use Rapunzel's ability on a third monster of his.

"I'll recover Rapunzel with my second Gretel, then I'll use her ability on Hansel!" he proclaimed. Then, with a Hansel with 900 Attack Points, he was ready to attack. Due to the Flying ability, Daisuke was unable to block. The first one to attack was one of the Tinker Bells, who dropped his Life Points to 1800, then the other Tinker Bell's attack dropped his Life Points to 200. Lastly, the finishing blow was dealt by Yoshimitsu's Hansel, which thus secured the fair-haired youth's victory.

Daisuke smiled and extended his hand for his opponent to shake.

"Good game, Yoshimitsu!" he said "You've really grown up!"

"Thank you!" Yoshimitsu replied as he shook the bespectacled duelist's hand "I'm glad you think so!"

"You'll need it for next tournaments, and you're most certainly on the right track!" Windam cheerfully concluded before beginning to clap his hands for Taka, soon to be joined by his other teammates and Reiya. The fair-haired youth couldn't help but blush, stand up from his chair and bow repeatedly.

"Thank you! Thank you all so much!" he said.

"Way to go, Yoshimitsu!" Ryuuji exclaimed "Keep it up, man!"

"That was awesome, Yoshi-san!" Reiya cheered "I knew you were great!"

"Congratulations, Yoshimitsu-kun!" Nagisa said, smiling rather warmly. When Yoshimitsu noticed, he couldn't help but blush, since he wasn't used to see her smile like that. However, he was wise enough not to say anything about it and covered his blush up with a warm smile of his own.

"I would say more, but I think Daisuke's words sum up what I wanted to say." Celestia concluded, with that smile still on her face.

"You'll be rising the ranks in no time!" Rayearth said, cheerfully, patting his shoulder.

"Thank you, Ryuuji!" Yoshimitsu replied, his eyes shining. In that moment, the Sephiroth Tetragram members' mobile phones began vibrating in their pockets. The fair-haired youth's phone was vibrating as well. They had received a message in their chatroom from Zappa.

"Guys, I know how to catch Kashikoi-san!" he had typed "It seems she likes to go to the arcade in weekday afternoons, because there aren't as many people as there would be during weekends."

"Yeah." she couldn't help but sigh "She is quite the solo player, isn't she?"

"Um..." Reiya said, slightly confused "Who are you talking about?"

"Oh, nothing!" Yoshimitsu quickly replied. "We're just talking about a friend of ours.

"Friend? That's a bit of an exaggeration..." Celestia thought, though she was clever enough not to betray such thoughts in front of little Reiya.

"So, what's the plan?" Daisuke asked, adjusting his glasses.

"I have one." Ryuuji exclaimed "Yoshimitsu and I will try going there on Monday afternoon in hopes of finding her. If we do, we'll take her by surprise..."

"I think we should spend some time with her to begin with..." the fair-haired youth mused "There's no better way of making a person warm up to you than do something she likes to do with her."

"I couldn't agree more!" the red-haired duelist replied, with a big grin on his face.

"Ryuuji-kun, Yoshimitsu-kun, best of luck." Nagisa said, her tone had resumed its original, slightly cold color.

"Thank you, Nagisa-san!" Yoshimitsu replied, bowing politely. Ryuuji snickered at his excessively polite antics.

"Thank you, Nagisa!" he then replied to his companion, with a smile.

"Hopefully this will help us..." Nagisa thought.