I hope everyone is ready to celebrate Redux's first anniversary with its newest and longest chapter so far! I can't believe a year has already passed...in which I was only able to upload seven chapters...since I can't bully time for it to slow the eff down, I'll instead ask Vince to bully G.O.D, who has the powers to control it.

But by now I understand that it can't be helped: the world won't wait on me to upload new chapters for my stories (plural, because I'm not only working on Redux) and I have a personal life to worry about. I can't let go of my stories because I love them and I love writing, so I hope you readers can give me the time to create new and beautiful chapters.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter!

- In response to Zeromk7's review:

"I'm glad to know you enjoyed the chapter! As for your questions, I guess (...?) Manek's Masked Warriors can be considered the cousins or even predecessors of Masked HEROes. Since I'm not their creator, I can't really give you a sure answer. But for your other question...sadly, Vince won't get a Monster like that...but somebody ELSE will, heh heh."

- In response to AlterNetBeing's review:

"I'm amazed how you readers manage to guess what's to come in the story. As you thought, Angra Mainyu will appear in Vince's deck, although starting from Season 3 (Xyz Dimension) and onward."

- In response to green rose's review:

"Sure thing."

[Using Anime/Manga Effects.]


You Show School consisted of colorful people: the sunny Yuya, the hard-working Yuzu, the childish yet strong Sora, the cheerful trio of kids, and the fiery Shuzo. Yoko and Gongenzaka, who weren't part of You Show, supported us, too. And I've just learned nothing escapes their notice.

Or maybe I'm too easy to read? I had a feeling Demiurge would agree with me on that one.

I was worried about Manek, and obviously, I was thinking of paying him a visit in the hospital. All of my friends already Dueled today and we were going to hit the food stalls set outside the stadium, so it's not like I had anything better to do. That's when they noticed my concerned expression and offered to join me; I reassured them I can go on my own and they shouldn't worry about me—but they didn't want to hear any of that.

"Turner-san!" I called out when I spotted her in the hospital's reception, relieved to see a familiar face. The doctor was reading through some documents she was holding in her hands, quickly going from one paper to the other.

She looked in our direction upon hearing me. "Ah, Sakushi-kun." she smiled. She put a hand in her uniform's pocket, while she held all the documents with the other. "What brings you here?"

"I want to get information on a patient if it's possible..." I stated. "His name's Manek Wierrd."

"Wierrd-kun?" Clarissa's eyes slightly widened. "You're lucky: he's one of my patients."

"Really?" well, those were some good news. "How is he? Can we visit him?"

"Even if that would be possible, he's currently asleep, so you should come back tomorrow during visiting hours for that," she explained and looked at one of her documents. "But I can assure you he's fine. The rubble that fell on top of him caused a concussion, but it's nothing he can't recover from. One day and he'll be back in top shape."

I gave a big sigh of relief at that. Yuya placed a hand on my shoulder in a comforting manner with a smile, and I nodded back in reply. Thank the gods it's nothing serious.

"Are you a fan?" Clarissa chuckled at my reaction.

"N-No." I shook my head. "I...was his opponent...in the Duel."

"Oh..." the amusement left her face. "I'm sorry, I must have made this awkward for you."

"D-Don't sweat it." I reassured her with a smile. "I should be the one apologizing for the trouble, ha ha..."

"Trouble?" Clarissa raised an eyebrow. "There's nothing to apologize for, Sakushi-kun. If a new patient is brought in, then I'll do my best to help them, always. This is my work."

"Vince." Shuzo spoke up with a solemn voice, and we turned to him. "You must feel guilty for what happened to Manek." ouch, spot on... "But you shouldn't. What happened at the end of that Duel was something out of your reach, and I'm sure you didn't want it to escalate like that. You don't have to take responsibility for anything."

I know he's right...and that I might be overreacting...but, "I declared the attack." I pointed out as I placed a hand on my chest. "Even if it was just an accident, my attack hurt him."

"That could apply for anybody, Vince." Gongenzaka remarked, confusing me.

"What Gon-chan's saying is," Sora cut in. "Whoever would've Dueled Manek, the outcome would've been the same, and they would be in your shoes now." he then shrugged. "I personally think you're just overreacting."

"I'll have to agree with the little human on this one." Demiurge huffed. Maybe...I was?

"Accidents happen." Yoko showed me her reassuring smile. "And it's important to avoid letting them stop you. Action Duels are, without a doubt, dangerous, but I'm sure Manekun accepted the risks that come with it." both statements are absolutely true, but...Manekun...? Was that her way of addressing him...? "And he'll appreciate your concern."

"I hope so." I nodded. These guys... "Thanks for supporting me, everyone."

"Friends help each other out, don't they?" Yuzu used my own words, causing me to chuckle.

"Yeah." I turned to Clarissa, who was watching us with a smile. "I'll come back tomorrow, then."

"Of course." she said. As we were leaving the hospital, Clarissa called out my surname, and I went back alone; I told the others to wait for me outside.

"Yes?" she was sporting a serious expression again.

"I shouldn't tell you this, but if it can remain between us..." she trailed off, to which I nodded in understanding. Did something actually happen to Manek...!? Clarissa continued in a low tone. "Apparently, the Real Solid Vision system malfunctioned at the end of your Duel."

"Malfunctioned...!?" I whispered in shock, while Demiurge whistled.

"The damage output increased on its own." Clarissa stated. "Then returned to normal when the Duel ended. If it weren't for that glitch, then your attack wouldn't have hurt Wierrd-kun like that." she sighed before continuing. "What happened was truly unfortunate...but thanks to it, Leo Corporation will now enhance the system to avoid new accidents. In a way, you two made Action Duels safer."

Huh...we did, didn't we? So this was her way of encouraging me.

"Thank you for telling me this, Turner-san." I smiled again. "My chest feels lighter now."

"That's what I hoped to hear." she smiled back. She then bowed. "If you'll excuse me."

"Goodbye!" I waved at her with a hand and joined my friends outside.

Yuzu's smile widened when she saw my relieved expression. "Why did she call you back?" she asked.

"Ah, it was something about the visiting hours. With that out of the way...where are the food stalls?"

"I want to know, too!" Sora exclaimed, followed by the kids' own questions.


Turn 8:

Ardent Stars


The sun began to set by the time we returned to our mini school bus after we finished checking out all the stalls. That's when a certain trio of Duelists approached us.

"Hiiragi Yuzu!" Masumi stepped forward, sporting a serious expression. Unlike her, grateful smiles graced Hokuto's and Yaiba's faces as they stood behind her.

"Masumi?" Yuzu inquired in surprise. Don't tell me she wants a rematch already or wants to insult her. Although...I doubt somebody like Masumi would ever do that.

"You better plan on winning after you defeated me!" and there it is, wishing her opponent good luck by acting tough. Such an appropriate thing for her to say. But even I was surprised when she walked up to the pink-haired youth. "I wouldn't be able to stand losing to someone who doesn't even win the tournament! So...here."

She handed over a card, which caused Yuzu's eyes to widen.

"This is...Crystal Rose?" she asked in bewilderment. "Why?"

Masumi threw her hair back with a hand and showed us a genuine smile. Heh, show off.

"You'll need that card to shine again like you did in our Duel today." she turned to leave. "Later!"

"Ah—" Yuzu called out in an attempt to stop her.

"I won't forgive you if you lose, got it!?" Masumi teased without looking at her. What a girl...and by looking at the expressions of the others, it seems I wasn't the only one to think that.

Seeing there was no use in arguing, Yuzu smiled wide and started waving at her, "Masumi, thank you!" she shouted. "I'll make sure to shine even brighter from now on!"

Masumi stopped beside her two friends, and then Hokuto walked up to yours truly.

"First it was Pendulum. Then Masumi told me you also had Synchro and Fusion. And today, you showed us Ritual." the purple-haired youth listed. "Am I correct in believing you also have Xyz?"

"You are." I confirmed his words with a smirk. "I wasn't able to use it in our last Duel, but if we'll get the chance to Duel in the next rounds, I'll make sure to summon it."

"That's how it should be." Hokuto agreed with a firm nod. "I'll prove to everyone LDS' and my Xyz is stronger than yours and than all of the other Summoning Methods! Defeating a strong opponent like you is why I've honed my skills!"

"You..." did he just...praise me? He did admit out loud I'm strong...heh, it seems he took my words to heart. "Very well, Hokuto!" I exclaimed with a smirk. "I accept your challenge! But don't think it will be a walk in the park."

"That's my line." he grinned back and walked off with his two friends. So this is how it felt to have a rival, huh? I had to admit, it's pretty exciting—

"Ugh, finally it's over. This was getting hard to watch." Demiurge snorted in disgust.

...You just had to ruin the mood, didn't you!?

Time Skip: at night

Life, in general, is exhausting, I thought as I stared at the ceiling while lying in bed, but here in an anime, it was even more. Or maybe I wasn't used to so much action? While I can befriend people very easily, which was a charm of mine, I always preferred staying home. Sigh, I'll get used to it, sooner or later.

"I have a plausible theory of why the Real Solid Vision system malfunctioned."

I blinked at Demiurge's sudden words. "Really?" I wondered, but then I realized it wasn't such a big surprise; Demiurge's true strength didn't lie in his muscles alone, but his brain, too. "I'm all ears."

"It's only natural that gods like me are superior to any other living being." yes, Demiurge, it was completely necessary to boast, thank you. "As such, fighting against us is extremely dangerous since we can channel our very energy into the Duel...that can, for instance, increase the damage one would take."

I immediately sat up. "What?" I almost shouted in surprise. Then Demiurge's responsible for what happened!?

"But we can choose not to do that. And that's what I've been doing up until now." the god added, unconsciously denying my question. "However...it slipped my mind I wasn't the only god around you. Gods, as Duel Monsters, can't do stuff like that on their own; it's the user who can unleash their full potential."

"Indeed." Xolotl's voice rang out in my head.

"That theory is likely the case." Nattmara added in my head. "When I regained my strength through Mythorror Familia's special ability, I felt a strong pulse of energy enter my body."

"Eh!?" I whisper-shouted in disbelief. Then I was responsible after all!? "But I don't know how to do that!"

"Exactly. You don't, which means your power is rampant." Demiurge confirmed with a prideful tone. "That's a brilliant display of your potential! As expected of the vessel chosen by yours truly."

"Your eye for strong servants is also praiseworthy, Demiurge-sama!" Camazotz exclaimed in glee.

"Hello? Can we not lose focus on what's important!?" I waved my hands around, much to their irritation. "Is there a way to avoid my power from going out of control? And why did it do that to begin with?"

"You must've gotten too excited when you Ritual Summoned, I guess." Demiurge reasoned. It...it was the first time I summoned Mythorror Familia, of course I was fired up! Dammit! I ran my hands through my hair in agony, which didn't calm Demiurge at all. "Oi, don't make matters worse! Blaming yourself won't get you anywhere!"

I opened my mouth to retort, but I closed it when I realized...he had a point: panicking won't solve anything. I may be responsible for what happened, but that didn't mean I can't redeem myself. Tomorrow, I'm going to visit Manek and apologize for what happened, and maybe I will be able to keep this entire ordeal about my powers a secret; that's the first thing I will do.

As for the second, "Is there a way to control my power?" I asked him.

"Hmm, yes, that's possible. But it will take time." whoopee do... "However, if it means getting over this tiresome issue, then I guess I could help you. From now on, I will worry about your powers as well, making sure to keep them in check while you Duel."

"Y-You can do that, too!? Perfect!" I cheered in a low tone. Thank the gods we can avoid this accident from repeating itself! Well, 'thank Demiurge' would be more accurate, heh heh...

"Demiurge-sama, you're truly a perfect leader." that's your opinion, Balor, because I had my own. Not taking into account Demiurge's attitude, which on its own doesn't make him 'perfect', the only reason why he helps me is so he can leave my body as soon as possible, not because of kindness or pity.

For who knows how long we'll be sharing a body and working together? By the looks of things, he won't leave me anytime soon, so shouldn't we get to know each other better and avoid an unpleasant experience? Apparently, only I thought that because Demiurge snorted after I suggested it.

"Humans and bonding." he complained with an annoyed voice. "Why waste time on such petty things? As long as we don't get in each other's way, this 'unpleasant experience' you speak of won't come to."

This guy—! "I didn't ask for a full bio." I rebuked, now annoyed, too. "We can start with simple things like your alliance with your Monsters."

"Hoh? So you're interested in my army, I see." Demiurge teased, suddenly interested in the conversation. Heh, I knew that would lure him out: he likes to boast like there's no tomorrow! "I guess I can entertain you with that. Consider it your reward for passing the first round of the Maiami Championship."

"Sure." I nodded, and he immediately continued talking.

"As you might have already noticed, the servants under my leadership are divided into two main categories, namely those that are 'Gnostic' servants and those that aren't. The first division didn't exist yet during the Great War, I created it after the war while we were hiding in the shadows."

"Created?" I blinked twice. "Not bring together? You actually created the 'Gnostic' Monsters?"

"Of course! You'd be surprised by how many things I can do." the god inside me chuckled. "At first, I molded into existence three mages: Sidonia and Howard, whom you're already familiar with, and Hevelius. I was thinking of summoning him soon, so fear not, you'll meet him eventually, and I think you two will get along nicely; your curiosity reminds me a lot of his."

"Hevelius, huh..." I repeated his name to make sure I won't forget it. Finally, a Monster of his that doesn't seem to hate the idea of opening up. "They're references to actual people, right?"

"Sidonia of Saxony, H. P. Lovecraft, and Johannes Hevelius." Demiurge listed.

"Thought so. But...they aren't that old." I pointed out in confusion. "I mean, they didn't exist in periods where gods and Different Dimension Daemons were still a thing, right?"

"Indeed, they didn't." he confirmed my words. "I had to replenish my strength after the Great War, meaning some time passed before I was able to create my three Magi. All 'Gnostic' servants are blessed with my darkness, thus tying them to my very own existence and turning them into royal retainers. It goes without saying they perish if I die."

"...Not that would ever happen, your Majesty..." Howard murmured, prompting Demiurge to laugh in agreement.

"After we were reborn as Mythorrors, we obtained new powers, which our Majesty's darkness further enhanced," Sidonia took over the explanation. "Using those powers, we had to execute special tasks. Hevelius had to handpick several constellations which we would then turn into servants; Howard had to build them artificial bodies; then I gave them birth using witchcraft and His Majesty's darkness."

"The astronomer searched them out, the writer designed their bodies, and the witch gave them life...fitting." I commented and then realized something. "That means...the Mythorror Gnostic Kerberos you gave me isn't the actual Cerberus, but the constellation. That explains why he and Orthrus don't interact much..."

"So that's how it is." Ereshkigal pondered, and I already knew of what. She was deeply shocked when Demiurge's Mythorror Goddess Tiamat, who was also a 'Gnostic' Monster, joined my deck, which wasn't a big surprise considering the primordial goddess was slain in the past by Marduk. Tiamat hasn't spoken to me or my Monsters yet. "Your Ummu-Hubur servant's appearance was so identical to the real one that, if it wasn't for her different aura, I couldn't have told the two apart. My suspicion that she wasn't the real Ummu-Hubur was correct then."

Demiurge hummed to confirm her words. "Then there's the second division, formed by those who joined me by their own will, in order to accomplish something, and fought by my side during the Great War. Each one of them plays a different role in my army, that way I can cover all the bases."

"I am Demiurge-sama's best hunter and assassin!" Camazotz proclaimed.

"I, on the other hand, am the second-in-command of Demiurge-sama's army." Balor calmly added. "I was able to obtain said title thanks to a steadfast loyalty and strong skills of leadership."

My eyebrows furrowed at that. "If I recall correctly, you once lead an army..."

"Yes, in the Battle of Mag Tuired." Balor specified as his voice was tinted with anger. "I may have lost that battle to my grandson, but Demiurge-sama gave me the opportunity to prove my mettle. I also wished to defeat my grandson during the Great War, but he died before that, killed by Cermait's three sons. A fitting death for a fool like him." he gloated, causing me to sweatdrop as he finally revealed his true nature.

But something he said caught my attention: Balor dies in the Battle of Mag Tuired, but according to him, that didn't happen. That means the Balor I was talking with and I had in my deck wasn't the same Balor of my universe! So Ereshkigal wasn't the only exception, huh...

"What about you, Supay?"

"Hmm?" the third and last Mythorror God Demiurge handed me responded. It seems I snapped him out of his thoughts, which wasn't really a surprise as he always tended to get absorbed in his thoughts outside of a battlefield.

"What's your role in Demiurge's army?" I repeated the question for him.

"Ah, that?" he proudly chuckled. "As you may already know, I'm the ruler of the underworld's demons. It was easy to forge an army that would help me and Demiurge-sama in the Great War."

"I see..." I remarked before I yawned. "Let's end it here for today... That was an interesting conversation, thanks, guys! And...Demiurge, thanks for helping me control my powers...I really appreciate it."

"That's nothing for a god as great as me." he pointed out. "Now, go to sleep already. It's so irking how humans need rest to function properly; so much wasted time doing absolutely nothing."

Sigh, he's so hopeless I couldn't contain a chuckle. "Goodnight to you as well."

The next day...

To start the second day of the Maiami Championship was Gongenzaka, who Dueled Gen. It was a really hard Duel to watch because of the latter's underhanded tactics, which was mentally cornering our friend by making him believe Yuya was in danger (since he had to leave the stadium to recover Gongenzaka's sash) and by stealing his Monsters! And we couldn't search for Yuya, we didn't know where he was after all...how I hate feeling so powerless. But in the end, much to our relief, Yuya returned to the stadium with the sash, and Gongenzaka defeated Gen in one-hit by using Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo.

"This time, the machine that carries his name won him the match, huh?" Yamatochi mused as his spirit appeared near us. We were walking to Yuya and Gongenzaka, and I made sure to stay a little behind so they wouldn't hear me.

"Last time we saw Susanowo, I felt you were really shocked." I whispered to him. It was weird: one would expect him to be angry at the god, but Yamatochi...actually wasn't. In fact, I could detect a very faint sense of admiration when he speaks of Susanoo. Well...Yamatochi is a powerful god, to defeat him is no easy threat, that must be why he respects him. But that still doesn't stop me from hating him.

"Yes. The machine that young man uses may not be the Susanoo I once fought, but it was still a surprise," Yamatochi explained. "However, it makes sense men would build a soldier that carries his name... An impetuous god he may be, but his strength was the real deal. Rejoice, my master: with Susanowo by his side, a bright future awaits your friend. Even if it's a replica, there is some strength to it; imitating the strong is but another way to become strong or to find one's own battle style."

I weakly nodded. "Y-Yes." I didn't expect that...he was glad Gongenzaka had a card that referenced the god who once defeated him. Also, that life lesson came out of nowhere. "...Gongenzaka will grow even stronger, I'm sure of it like you." I agreed with a smile, to which he nodded and vanished. I then addressed the god inside me, "You've been awfully silent for the entire Duel."

He scoffed. "It started out nice, but in the end, the oversized brat lost." he said in disappointment. "I guess I was expecting too much from a human. I hope the next Duel won't fail me, I'm slowly dying out of boredom!"

Sadly for him, that didn't happen, because I could feel his irritation growing as Yuya Dueled Sawatari. Why's he so hard to please...? In any case, their Duel was amazing! It was another Pendulum vs. Pendulum and action-filled Duel, which the crowd went crazy for! It had all the right backs-and-forths and ended with- no surprise- Yuya's victory!

Following that was...well...I always wondered if we'll ever see Sora Duel with a serious face, which he certainly did against Shun, but to think his serious face would be that of a grinning maniac... Demiurge finally got the Duel he wished for, and I realized how it all made sense: Sora's evil and the way he acted during our Duel with Yuto... I prepared myself for this moment, but damn, Sora got us good.

And Shun's strength...was on par with Yuto's and The Hitwoman's and apparently surpassed Sora's. They literally destroyed the Action Field- which was a reproduction of the actual Heartland that existed in this universe! Reiji set this all up, didn't he?- and Shun almost killed Sora by letting a building fall on top of him! Unlike Yamatochi, he doesn't have any intention of letting his opponents off the hook...

Sora's life luckily wasn't in danger, but he'll have a lot of things to explain to us once he wakes up. That is, if he's willing to cooperate and answer our questions, or if LDS will even allow us to talk with him; I'm sure Reiji won't take risks and potentially lose his only way of learning more about Academia, especially if he really has the means to alter people's minds.

While the others waited for him to regain consciousness, I excused myself and paid a visit to Manek. I was able to find his room thanks to my Monsters, who've guided me to the source of his Monsters' aura.

I took a deep breath and let it out; here goes. I politely knocked twice on the door and waited...

"Come in." a voice that wasn't Manek's told, and I did just that. The actor/Duelist was sitting on a bed with some cards scattered on the mattress and he was looking at the cards in his hands, while Masked Warriors Eternal and Accel were leaning against the wall on each side of their user's bed.

Accel was glaring at me, sporting an expression filled with hatred, and I could feel Eternal's aura was formed of the same emotion. Great, his Monsters didn't like me (after what happened, no wonder), already off to a bad start... The two exchanged quick glances before Accel vanished from existence, leaving me, Manek, and Eternal the only ones in the room.

"H-Hey..." I addressed my fellow Duelist, who continued ignoring me. "Sorry for the sudden visit, but I really wanted to see how you're doing...after...well, you know..."

Silence. That's how Manek answered me, with silence, staring at his cards with a rather blank expression, which didn't do a good job at calming me. Was he mad at me, too, or...?

"...He's OK." Eternal eventually replied, and I noted his voice was the same as the person's who told me to come in earlier. He looked at his user in concern, "I think." he unconfidently added, causing my eyes to widen. "He's ignoring everybody except us for the moment, but his life isn't in danger. The last attack during your Duel...it did something to his head. He always had a delicate mind..."

Oh no. "What happened to him...? He didn't only hit his head...?"

"He hit his head, yes, and on top of that..." when he looked back at me, his hatred from before returned but with double the intensity. "You did something, too. With that Ritual Monster of yours!"

I gasped at his sudden outburst. That means...he also felt it when my powers went out of control...and blamed me for putting Manek into this state.

"I-I'm sorry, I didn't want—"

"Apologizing is easy!" Eternal cut me off with a snarl. It wasn't just him...I could feel Manek's entire deck loathing me, which was making it very hard to stay calm. "His mind is in disarray now! Putting back together a fractured mind is an intricate procedure that needs time, which would be impossible if we, his family, weren't around. I don't even know if he'll make it back...!"

I looked at the other youth in the room for a second time: his expression didn't change ever since I got here; it was like he was trapped in his own mind, unable to interact with anybody except his dearest Monster- his family- which was on the edge, waiting for their trusty user to reawaken. All of this because of me.

I...wasn't ready to take responsibility if Manek remains like this.

"Manek didn't feel it, but we did. Accel even tried to protect him, but it didn't work out," Eternal explained as he narrowed his eyes at me. "You and your followers are monsters. They scare us all, including the likes of me. If this keeps on going, all of your opponents will end up like Manek, if not worse! This is only the beginning."

For a second, I forgot about the entire problem and turned angry myself. He had every right to hate and insult me, but none to do the same to my Mythorrors! 'Monsters'...you know nothing of them, so don't call them that, especially if they didn't do anything wrong!

"My comrades—"

"Vince-kun." a sudden and familiar voice interrupted me. When I glanced backwards, I saw Snow standing there, sporting a worried expression. Right...this wasn't the time to lash back with anger. She covered her mouth with the sleeve of her white kimono and resumed speaking, "...Please, let us take our leave."

"...Let's." I agreed with a nod after I calmed down. Staying here...sadly won't solve anything, and I'm sure Eternal and the others wouldn't mind me leaving. I addressed the Masked Warrior for one last time, though, "I'm sorry...for what happened. Also...my comrades aren't monsters." I managed to declare confidently.

Eternal scoffed, but said nothing back, prompting Snow and me to leave the room. I let out an anxious sigh after I closed the door behind us: this wasn't how I pictured it to go at all...!

I balled my fists in anger and concern. "Manek...because of me is...!"

"Calm down." Demiurge suddenly instructed. How was I supposed to stay calm in a situation like this!? "That human will definitively recover."

"But what if he doesn't...!?" I whispered while quickly glancing at the door of Manek's room.

"Boy, my words weren't of consolation. I was stating a fact." that made me blink twice. "This isn't my first experience with this kind of aftereffect. If his servants help him, then he'll recover in two or three days."

Right, he's well-versed with these supernatural things. Thank the gods...a large weight was just lifted from my shoulders.

"You ended up saving my ass for another time..." I finally found the strength to smile. "I'm in your debt even more now, heh."

"Indeed." Demiurge sighed. "All you need to do is win for me. As long as you do that and don't fail my expectations, I might overlook all these times I had to lend you a hand."

"I understand." I nodded and raised my head high. My powers are being kept in check and Manek's going to recover; I may have stumbled, but now I'm ready to continue my journey!

...Well, I wasn't sure Manek's Monsters or he himself will forgive me, but if we can clear things up, then there's still hope. Once their user's back on his own two feet, his Monsters might be more willing to hear me out, and I hope Manek will be as well.

Oh, right, Snow! "Thanks for stepping in." I told the yōkai who didn't return to her card yet.

"No need to thank me." she reassured me with a small bow of her head and a smile. Although...I could feel it was...fake: her aura...it was sad, seeping with a type of regret I had already felt once—I gasped in realization.

Snow...oh, Snow...

That regret...I felt it when I had a Vision featuring her. My situation with Manek reminded her of her past, hence why she stepped in to support me. She, too, hurt an innocent soul by accident once, but in her case, that soul...a young, smiling child...never had the chance to recover because he died.

I unconsciously went to grasp her hand, but it just phased through hers, surprising both of us. Right, she's a Duel Spirit, it's impossible to touch her when she's like this. But...I felt something.

Her hand was cold. I thought in amazement as I stared at my hand. Did she feel my body temperature, I wonder? By the way she was staring at her own hand, I think she did. "Sorry about that."

"...Ah." she finally said. She then closed her hand and placed it to her chest with a smile. Oh, I was able to make her happy. "That's nothing to apologize for, Vince-kun. Since we're done here, you should regroup with your friends."

"Yeah." I nodded, to which she vanished from existence, and I headed back to the others.

Turns out things weren't bound to get easier: that same night, Sora escaped from the hospital, and while we searched for him, Yuzu found Yuya passed out in the Central Park. And he stayed asleep for two whole days! What was even more concerning- only for me though, since I couldn't reveal it to the others- was that 'magic' was involved, since Demiurge and my Monsters told me they could feel Yuya's soul in a disarray...

Apart from us being worried for Yuya and Futoshi losing to Reira in the Junior class' second round, who defeated him with a Synchro Monster and as impassively as she did with Ayu, nothing else noteworthy happened. Only Yoko and Yuzu were there when Yuya woke up, since the rest of us were watching the Junior Youth class' first round conclude at the stadium; I didn't want to miss Hokuto's Duel after all.

Yuya's soul was back to normal according to my comrades, and after we reunited at the stadium, he and Yuzu immediately approached the LDS trio, asking if they could meet with Shun, but they said they shouldn't bother, the Raidraptor user didn't listen or talk with anyone, except Reiji. Honestly...no surprise there, with how uncooperative he was.

We decided to watch the last match of the first round after that, featuring Yaiba and a guy named Kachidoki Isao...which ended horribly. During the Duel, Kachidoki brutally beat up Yaiba in order to prevent him from getting any Action Cards and won. The X-Saber user had to be carried away on a stretcher because of that guy and that damned Duel School's Duel style! Nobody in the audience liked that, even Demiurge who said "martial arts alone can't win you a Duel", but it didn't appear to bother Kachidoki or his school at all.

"W-With this, all of the Round One Junior Youth matches have concluded!" Nico spoke up as Kachidoki left the arena and Yaiba was carried away by the medical team. "We will be announcing the matchups for Round Two momentarily. All Duelists who have advanced, please put your registration cards into your Duel Disks!"

We all did as we were told, and the image of our opponent was shown. I bounced up from my seat with a wide grin.

"Alright, my opponent is Hokuto!" I announced in high spirits. Finally, I'll get to fight my rival! Seeing him Duel today really set me in the mood to fight him again. No doubt he was as delighted as I was at the moment.

"So we'll get to see your revenge match." Tatsuya smiled in excitement.

"I'm already getting the shivers!" Futoshi exclaimed.

I nodded in agreement. "I'm the third match tomorrow. What about you guys?"

"I'm the first match tomorrow." Gongenzaka told. "My opponent is Tanegashima Yuzo from Surprise School."

"I'll be fighting Naname Mikiyo of the Duel Girls Club in the second match two days from now." Yuzu stated.

"What about you, Yuya-oniichan?" Futoshi asked our friend, who stayed silent in response, prompting us to look at his Duel Disk in confusion.

"Kachidoki Isao!?" no wonder he didn't answer us.

"No way!"

"Yuya..."

Aya and Yuzu added respectively in concern, but much to our surprise, he handled the reveal with a calm expression.

"Yuto told me to make people smile with my Duels," he explained. Wait, Yuto? When did...that happen? Yuzu wasn't shocked by this, so she must know what's up; I'll ask her later about it. I didn't want to interrupt Yuya's moment after all, heh heh. "I don't know what he wanted to tell me exactly, but...I'll do the Dueling I believe in! Because I believe that will answer to Yuto's expectations of me!"

He raised his head with a confident smirk, looking in the direction Kachidoki exited the arena.

"Hm!" Yuzu nodded in agreement with a smile, followed by yours truly. I was sure his Dueling will set Kachidoki and maybe even Ryozanpaku School straight!

"Fufu, this might turn out to be an interesting Duel..." Demiurge commented in a low tone.

Later that night, Yuzu filled me in on what she and Yuya talked about this morning: apparently, while we were searching for Sora, Yuya found him in the Central Park fighting Yuto and tried to defend him, but the Duel ultimately ended in a No Result when Sora was forcefully called back to the Fusion Dimension.

Yuto then explained everything to Yuya regarding the existence of the four Dimensions and subsequently Academia's attack on the Xyz Dimension; I had to fake shock while Yuzu was telling me this, but when she mentioned Yugo, another youth who shared Yuya's face, who Yuto called 'Pawn of Fusion', and was responsible for Ruri's capture, my shock turned genuine. It made sense the writers would make at least one Yuya-lookalike evil...

But something didn't add up: this Yugo- huh, his name sounds very familiar to Fusion...- used Synchro Monsters and Dueled whilst riding a motorcycle. I'm pretty sure that was actually a D-Wheel...so he's from Synchro. But if he's a Pawn of Fusion, did that mean Synchro was also evil like Fusion...?

Aaah, too many questions and not enough answers! Moving on, Yuto Dueled Yugo, which didn't end too well since the former lost while defending Yuya, and then gave his ace Monster to him and told him to make people smile with his Duels. He just vanished in light after that, Yugo too was nowhere to be seen, and that's when Yuzu found the unconscious Yuya in the park.

Man, all of that in one night...this show isn't joking around at all! I may be repeating myself, but I couldn't help it. Can things get even crazier at this point?

The next day...

Answer: yes, definitively.

The day started off fine with Gongenzaka winning his Duel, but then Yuya's came and...well...as expected from Yu-Gi-Oh, Kachidoki pushed our MC into a corner by using a powerful Fusion Monster, Idaten the Conqueror Star, and when Yuya was supposed to start his big turnaround turn...

Something happened. A dangerous and vicious aura suddenly began emitting from him, and I think I was the only one to notice his eyes glowing. The Action Field turned ominous as well, almost as if in response to our friend's...change?

My Monsters, too, noticed this change, and my head was filled with their comments of wonder, amazement, confusion, and distress. Demiurge was the most interested in this, which was very easy to understand from his enthusiastic and thoughtful words. None of them knew what happened, but it's obvious it wasn't something normal.

Yuya proceeded to destroy Kachidoki by using Yuto's Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon; so that's the Monster Yuto was about to Summon against me and Sora...damn, I had to admit, it had a cool design and strong aura. Everything luckily returned to normal once the Duel ended, but Yuya didn't remember anything about his weird 'berserk' moment...

Sigh, things will just get crazier and crazier from here on, won't they?

"A-And now, let's proceed with today's third match!" Nico broke the awkward silence that formed after the short break following Yuya's Duel. He smirked wide as an image of me and Hokuto and a blazing 'VS' between us appeared on the screens in the stadium. "Dear audience, let's welcome our Duelists!"

That was our cue! We revealed ourselves to the crowd, who started fervently cheering once again, but I could see some girls glaring in my direction. More than probably, they were Manek's fangirls...

"Entering the field are You Show School's Sakushi Vincent and LDS' Shijima Hokuto!" Nico continued from where he had left off. "Both of these participants have amazed us during the first round with their skills, and I'm ready to bet all my money they will take our breath away for a second time!"

"It seems fate, too, wants to see who'll win." Hokuto commented when we stopped walking.

"Yeah." I agreed with a smile but then I frowned. "How's Yaiba?"

He blinked in surprise, not expecting my concern for his friend. He then frowned, too.

"A lot of bruises, but nothing too serious. He's a tough nut to crack. I'm thankful to Sakaki Yuya for teaching that bastard a lesson, but...honestly, I never expected him to go that far..."

Nobody expected that, believe me. "I'm glad Yaiba's OK." I said in order to close the subject. All we should worry about at the moment is our revenge match! "And I hope you will show me your full power this time around."

"Hoh?" Hokuto smirked wide at that. "You're saying I was holding back during Round One's Duel?"

"If you told me all you learned was how to perform a double Xyz Summon during the same turn, then I wouldn't believe you." I chuckled while equipping my Duel Disk.

"Heh, of course I would never say something stupid like that!" he also equipped his Duel Disk, causing the crowd to erupt in cheers again.

"If there's one thing you know how to do well, it's how to excite the audience." Demiurge commented. "Let's see what the Constellar boy has up his sleeve."

"With both Duelists ready to battle, it's time to decide a Field Spell!" Nico shouted as the giant Action Card encased in a sphere of lines of white squares appeared and started spinning. The card eventually stopped, causing the sphere to shatter. "And here it is! Action Field on: Field Spell, Cosmo Planetarium, activate!"

The entire arena started glowing, taking the shape of a planetarium projecting a starry sky and the twelve zodiac signs. Big and simplistic models that referenced the aforementioned signs were also floating around us, and a large star projector was planted in the field's center. Why does a star-themed field always emerge whenever Hokuto Duels...?

"Duelists locked in battle!" Hokuto exclaimed.

"Kicking the earth and dancing in the air alongside their Monsters!" I continued.

"They storm through this field!"

"Behold!" Nico continued for us, now grinning. "This is the newest and greatest evolution of Dueling! Action...!"

"DUEL!" Hokuto and I declared in unison. Nico snapped his fingers, causing Action Cards to scatter around the field.

Hokuto: LP 4000

VS

Vince: LP 4000

"Here I come, Sakushi!" Hokuto declared, playing a card from his hand. "First I activate the Spell Card Reinforcement of the Army, using its effect to add the Level 4 Warrior-Type Constellar Pollux from my Deck to my hand. Then, I summon Constellar Leonis!"

A warrior clad from head to toe in armor, which was decorated with blue spikes and energy claws extending from its fingers, and had a cloak fastened to his shoulders, whose interior glowed with a starry sky, appeared.

Constellar Leonis: Light / Beast / Effect / ATK: 1000 / DEF: 1800 / LV: 3

"Reonisu no kōka!" Hokuto's Monster let loose of a battle cry, akin to the roar of the beast its constellation referenced. "I'm permitted to perform an additional Normal Summon or Set this Main Phase, at pact I summon a 'Constellar' Monster this way. Come, Pollux!"

A warrior whose armor was divided into two sides, with its right side colored gold and its left side white, had a cloak, whose interior glowed with a starry sky, and held a sword appeared next.

Constellar Pollux: Light / Warrior / Effect / ATK: 1700 / DEF: 600 / LV: 4

"Porukusu no kōka!" Hokuto's smirk widened. "During the turn this card was Normal Summoned, I can Normal Summon or Set another 'Constellar' Monster. Come, Constellar Sheratan!"

A small warrior clad in armor like his comrades but having ram horns attached to his head joined my opponent, twirling the gun-like object he held before pointing it at yours truly.

Constellar Sheratan: Light / Beast / Effect / ATK: 700 / DEF: 1900 / LV: 3

"Three Normal Summons in total!" Nico remarked in awe. "And two Monsters have the same Level!"

"He's getting ready to Xyz Summon..." I pointed out in a low tone. Twice, actually; that must be the reason he searched and summoned Pollux as well.

"Sheratan no kōka!" a card ejected from Hokuto's deck, which he took hold of. "When this card is Normal Summoned, I can add one 'Constellar' Monster from my Deck to my hand. I choose Constellar Caduceus, and I Special Summon it!"

Eh? That's the first time I heard that name...well, I guess it made sense for Constellars to get new support considering the importance of this Duel. A warrior that resembled an older Constellar Rasalhague and a purified Evilswarm Kerykeion appeared on his field with a swing of his staff.

Constellar Caduceus: Light / Spellcaster / Effect / ATK: 1600 / DEF: 1550 / LV: 4

"Shijima-senshu now controls two more Monsters with the same Level!" Nico observed, prompting the crowd to cheer even more. "Yesterday, he performed two consecutive Xyz Summons during the Duel's last turn, but now, he can do so on his first turn! Is this his true strength!?"

"This is just a portion of it!" the person in question corrected him. "After all, a good player doesn't reveal all his cards right away. I activate Caduceus' effect, adding one 'Constellar' Spell or Trap Card from my Deck to my hand. I choose the Continuous Spell Constellar Star Chart, which I activate."

Of course he would go for draw power... After he played the card, he pointed at the starry sky above us.

"I overlay the Level 3 Leonis and Sheratan!" his Monsters turned into yellow beams and entered a swirling galaxy, from which a pillar of light shot out. "Stars shining in the northern sky, take the shape of a legendary hero and descend! Xyz Summon! Rank 3! Constellar Persei!"

An imposing warrior clad in ornate armor, which had yellow energy glowing where his joints would be, and a cloak, whose interior glowed with a purple, starry sky, emerged from the portal and banged the shield he held with his sword. The shield had a round shape and the infamous head of Medusa sculptured on it.

Constellar Persei: Light / Warrior / Xyz / Effect / ATK: 2100 / DEF: 1800 / RK: 3

"It's Perseus." I realized the reference in surprise. I couldn't help but smirk, too. "Have you taken a liking to Greek mythology?"

"Not really, after all, it wasn't me who designed the card." Hokuto honestly admitted with a shrug, followed by a chuckle. "But beating you at your own game doesn't sound too bad." heh, does it?

"This hero formed of stars certainly holds a strong aura." Seth suddenly commented from his card. "My king, I'm eager to test my strength against a servant that would be praised by Nut!"

"Strong or not, I'm just glad Hevelius isn't here..." Sidonia muttered. "He wouldn't stop blabbering if he were to see Monsters based on constellations like the ones this boy uses."

"On that, we agree." Demiurge scoffed, causing me to chuckle in a low tone.

"Upon Xyz Summon, I can activate Persei's effect to add one 'Constellar' card from my Deck to my hand," Hokuto explained as his Xyz Monster banged his shield with his sword again, causing a card to eject from his deck. "I add Constellar Tempest to my hand. Then Star Chart's effect activates since I Special Summoned a 'Constellar' Xyz Monster, allowing me to draw a card once per turn!"

"Some search power was indeed crucial for that deck." Demiurge commented. Yeah, but that's bad news for us... And with Tempest in his hand, I'm going to lose 2000 Life Points when this turn ends! Going for an Action Card would also be useless since his Monsters could physically stop me... "Hmm, maybe he won't be an utter disappointment this time around."

"Next, I overlay the Level 4 Pollux and Caduceus!" Hokuto declared. "Bring order to these ignorant lands! Xyz Summon! Rank 4! Constellar Praesepe!"

A new imposing warrior joined its comrade on the field, this one with pincers attached to its arms, two container-like objects on its back, and a cloak whose interior glowed with a crimson, starry sky. The crowd was obviously impressed by the arrival of a second Xyz Monster.

Constellar Praesepe: Light / Machine / Xyz / Effect / ATK: 2400 / DEF: 800 / RK: 4

"Now that I control two 'Constellar' Xyz Monsters, I can activate the Continuous Spell Constellar Tempest! I set a card and end my turn." Hokuto laughed after doing so. "But you know what's going to happen next, don't you?" sadly, I did. "Constellar Tempest's effect activates during my End Phase, halving your Life!"

Like last time, the card fired a flare into the sky, and seconds later, meteors started pouring towards my direction. I started running towards the star projector in an attempt to take cover, but Persei swung his blade to the side, creating a gust of wind that blew me off my feet.

"Come on!" I hissed in frustration as I landed on my butt. Seconds later, the meteors slammed into the ground around me, engulfing me in explosions. And that hurt a lot, dammit!

Vince: LP 40002000

"Sorry for that." Hokuto said with a solemn expression, devoided of any mockery. "But seeing how you managed to find an Action Card while hiding during our last Duel, I won't allow you to slip out of my field of vision."

"...At least," I groaned while standing up. "You had a valid reason and apologized for it."

"Shijima-senshu doesn't plan to draw this Duel out!" Nico remarked. "It's just the first turn, but Sakushi-senshu already lost half of his Life! But now's his chance to retaliate!"

"Exactly! Boku no turn! Draw!" it's a bummer I didn't have Anti-Trunade or a card that can destroy his Continuous Spells in my hand, but I guess I couldn't be lucky all the time. Now then, how to retaliate? Considering Praesepe's effect and that I don't know his set card and if Persei has another effect, I should... "For starters, I activate the Spell Card Carpo's Benevolence!"

A card, which depicted a close-up of a smiling, fair-skinned woman with brown hair that had yellow highlights, donning an amber eyeshadow, and wearing an orange dress and a red shawl, appeared. Her eyes were closed, her nails were painted orange, she wore her hair in an updo, and she held a dimly glowing grape bunch between her raised hands, whose grapes were at varying levels of ripeness.

"As one of the goddesses of the order of nature, Carpo can lend me a hand to harvest new cards." I placed my fingers on top of my deck. "I can draw two cards, at pact I discard a Mythorror afterwards, but if I cannot do that, then all the cards in my hand are sent to the Graveyard."

"But that won't happen since you have a Monster to discard." Hokuto said as a matter of fact. "Or else there would be no reason to activate that card."

"That's right!" I shouted while drawing. I glanced at a Monster I was holding, and after I felt she was alright with it, I discarded her. She wasn't mute like Huldra, but she preferred to let her aura (and eyes when you could see them) do all the talking. "I discard Aylith. With that done, I summon the Tuner Monster, Mythorror Baphomet!"

The tall, translucent-bodied, humanoid Monster with a goat head, blank white pupils for eyes, dark brown fur covering the majority of his brown skin, small horns protruding from his head and shoulders, hoofed feet, and a pair of black-feathered wings appeared. Now that I thought about it, like Aylith, he doesn't talk that much—no, wait, concentrate!

Mythorror Baphomet: Tuner / ATK 0 / DEF 0 / LV: 1 / SC: 10

"A Tuner Monster!?" Nico burst out in shock, unlike Hokuto who grinned zealously. "This means Pendulum and Ritual weren't the only Summoning Methods he had in store for us!"

"Baphomet's effect activates on Normal Summon, letting me target Aylith in my grave and Special Summon her with her effects negated!"

A glowing pentagram formed on the ground, from which a tall, humanoid, female Monster with a body that consisted of branches wrapped around each other and a yellow glow radiating from where her eyes would be between those branches, emerged.

Mythorror Old One Aylith: Dark / Fiend / Pendulum / Effect / ATK: 2000 / DEF: 1600 / LV: 7 / SC: 8

"Because I control a Mythorror, I can Special Summon this card from my hand!" I revealed the card. "Emerge from the angles of time, Mythorror Tindalos!"

The large dog's skeleton with a red glow radiating from inside their empty eye sockets, a pair of bat wings with dark red membranes sprouting from their back, and a long blue tongue appeared on my field through a portal of smoke.

Mythorror Tindalos: ATK 2400 / DEF 2700 / LV: 7 / SC: 6

"I tune the Level 7 Tindalos with the Level 1 Baphomet!" as Baphomet's body morphed into a green ring that surrounded Tindalos and turned them into seven stars, I chanted. "My patient hunter lurking in the darkness! Feast on those who defy me, and gather their heads as trophies! Synchro Summon! Fly down, Level 8! Mythorror God Camazotz!"

A bright beam shot through the rings from which the anthropomorphic bat god emerged with a loud screech, causing Hokuto's Monsters to assume battle stances, ready to fight us.

Mythorror God Camazotz: ATK 2800 / DEF 2100 / LV: 8

"A Synchro Summon!" Nico roared together with the crowd.

"Tindalos gifts Camazotz with two new effects since he was summoned by using them as material," I explained. The god beat his swings as a purple aura surrounded him. "Upon his Summon, I can draw a card, and he gains 300 Attack!"

(Camazotz: 2800→3100 ATK)

"Next, using the Scale 2 Mythorror Lindworm, I set one of the Pendulum Scales!" the pillar of blue light appeared on my left, containing my serpentine dragon.

"Only one?" Hokuto's eyebrows furrowed.

"Yeah. I don't need Pendulum at the moment." I admitted with a smirk. "What I need is Lindworm's Pendulum Effect, which I now activate! By using Monsters in my hand or on my field as materials, I can Fusion Summon one 'Mythorror' Fusion Monster from my Extra Deck!"

"Even Fusion!" Nico exclaimed. "To think You Show School had such a talented Duelist in their ranks...not for nothing they're entertainers!"

"I fuse Aylith from my field and Succubus from my hand!" a pale-skinned woman with pointy ears, two horns sprouting from her messy gray hair, two bat wings, a forked tail, and wearing a revealing, black evening gown materialized beside the Old One and winked at our crowd.

They then turned into red and blue energy respectively, which then spiraled into a portal as I chanted and clasped my hands together. "Widow in the Woods! Seducing demon of men's dreams! Let your desires awaken the canine deity of heavenly fire! Fusion Summon! Level 6! Mythorror God Xolotl!"

My canine headed god emerged from the portal, brandishing his broadswords in a menacing manner at our opponents.

Mythorror God Xolotl: ATK 2200 / DEF 1300 / LV: 6

"Thanks to this summon, I activate three effects." I stated while raising my pinky, ring, and middle fingers. "The first: since I Special Summoned a god to my field while controlling Camazotz, I can draw a card. The second: since Xolotl was summoned by using Succubus as material, I can draw another card. The third: since Aylith was also used as material, I can Special Summon an Adult Mythorror Token to my field!"

Bursting out of the ground was a tall, humanoid Monster with a body that consisted of branches wrapped around each other- which greatly resembled his mother's- but possessing only one yellow eye in the center of his face and a spear-shaped right arm.

Adult Mythorror Token: Dark / Fiend / ATK: 2000 / DEF: 0 / LV: 7

"Sakushi-senshu is showing no signs of stopping." Nico grinned in excitement. "Will Shijima-senshu be able to handle what's coming his way!?"

"Only one way to find out." I chuckled before gesturing at my comrades. "I activate Xolotl's effect, releasing Adult Mythorror Token for it! By doing so, Xolotl gains the released Mythorror's Attack until the end of this turn!"

"Young warrior, will you lend me your strength?"

Without any hesitation, the Adult Token raised his spear-arm to his chest and turned into purple particles which then enveloped Xolotl. Aylith was pleased with her child's bravery and devotion, and since he wasn't actually being 'sacrificed', she had no problem with me releasing him.

If that weren't the case, then she would end my life before I could say "I was joking!"

(Xolotl: 2200→4200 ATK)

"Truly, a valiant warrior." he commented as he tightened the grip on his broadswords. Huh... Now that I thought about it...the irony for a god who couldn't sacrifice himself in the past to have an effect that requires a sacrifice...was beautiful, but it left a foul taste in my mouth.

"Why do I keep fooling myself humans could ever entertain me?" Demiurge's voice brought me back to reality. He sounded disappointed, which wasn't something new, really. "The Duel ends this turn."

"Let's not sell the skin before we've caught the bear." I told him in a low tone. I doubt Hokuto would lose so quickly. I raised my voice as I continued with my turn, "Allow me to show you two of the other weapons I treasure in my armory. I equip Fragarach - The Answerer to Camazotz and Archfiend Staff of Despair to Xolotl!"

The short, silver sword with glowing letters of the Ogham alphabet engraved on it and a circular hilt materialized in front of the bat god, levitating in the air, while Xolotl stabbed his broadswords into the ground so he could grasp a demonic staff.

"Fragarach raises the equipped god's Attack by 400." his ATK went up to 3500. "Next, I activate Archfiend Staff's effect, lowering the Attack of all Monsters my opponent controls currently controls until the End Phase by half the equipped Xolotl's Attack!"

"What did you say!?" Hokuto's eyes widened.

Xolotl raised the staff as it unleashed a spiraling wave of crimson energy that surrounded the opposing Xyz Monsters, prompting them to groan in discomfort.

(Persei: 2100→0 ATK; Praesepe: 2400→300 ATK)

"Shijima-senshu's Monsters have been severely weakened!" Nico reported.

"To finish my preparations, I activate Camazotz's other effect!" I stated. "By destroying one other face-up card I control, this god will gain the ability to perform two attacks on Monsters per Battle Phase this turn. I choose to destroy Archfiend Staff of Despair!"

Demiurge hummed in agreement. "Since its effect doesn't end if it leaves the field, that staff was the best card to sacrifice."

Xolotl threw the staff into the air as it exploded into purple particles which enveloped Camazotz, who chuckled menacingly at our opponent, prompting his body to stiffen before gesturing at his field.

"By detaching both of its Overlay Unit, I activate Persei's effect!" the two lights orbiting Persei were sucked into his chest, summoning a shield of light with the Constellar's crest on it in front of himself and Praesepe. "I target my two Constellars and make it so they can't be destroyed by battle or your card effects this turn. On top of that, I activate the Trap Card Constellar Meteor! During this turn, if my 'Constellar' Monster battles an enemy Monster and doesn't destroy it, that enemy Monster will be shuffled into the Deck!"

"Since I can't destroy your Monster, Meteor's guaranteed to shuffle my comrades into my Deck..." I realized his plan. Pendulum Monster go to the Extra Deck when they're destroyed, released, or used as materials, allowing you to re-summon them through a Pendulum Summon, which is what makes it such a strong weapon. But if this process is disrupted... "An anti-Pendulum combo."

And where have I already heard of shuffling into the Deck one's Pendulum Monsters...? Ah!

"It's similar to Sawatari's Yosen Lost Tornado..."

"Yes, and as we saw in his and Sakaki's Duel, it's a very effective strategy." Hokuto told with a smirk. "It's true you don't control any Pendulum Monsters, making its timing not very appropriate at the moment, but you'll still lose your Monsters if you attack mine, and I have other anti-Pendulum strategies in store for you."

I chuckled at his commitment to defeat me. "I see. But why did you activate them now? It would've been more shocking if you do it during my attacks."

"Yes, but seeing those combos of yours made me get a bad feeling." Hokuto admitted, now frowning.

"Your instincts are sharp, then." I pointed out with a wink. "When the god equipped with Fragarach - The Answerer attacks, until the end of the Damage Step, my opponent can't activate cards or effects."

"That...isn't something too good to hear..." Hokuto's frown deepened. "But at least my instincts were correct. If you attack, Meteor will return your gods to the Extra Deck after the battle!"

"Sore wa dokashira?" I inquired, causing his eyes to widen in confusion. "Camazotz, attack Constellar Persei! Death's Dive!"

With a beat of his wings, Camazotz took off, grasping Fragarach while he was at it. By performing a front flip to gain momentum, the bat god swung down The Answerer at Persei, causing sword and shield to collide with each other, neither emerging victorious, releasing a strong shock wave which sent Hokuto flying off his feet.

Hokuto: LP 4000 - 3500 = 500

Instead of just falling to the ground face-first, Hokuto landed on his feet by performing a series of skillful maneuvers, also collecting an Action Card while he was at it.

"Constellar Meteor's effect comes into play!" Hokuto reminded me.

"That won't happen!" I corrected him while Camazotz returned to my field, carelessly dropping Fragarach, which started levitating before it would hit the ground. "A 'Mythorror' Synchro Monster that was summoned by using Baphomet as a material becomes unaffected by my opponent's card effects until the end of that turn."

"What!?" Hokuto gasped.

"Wield The Answerer with more care, you idiot." Balor scolded the bat god from his card. As a god from Irish mythology, he should be very familiar with this sacred weapon. "Do you have any idea how majestic that sword is?"

"It's mine while I use it, so I'll decide how to wield it, thank you very much." Camazotz spat back, angry at him for trying to order him around.

"Why you—"

"Enough, both of you." Demiurge intervened before they could start an argument, earning hasty apologies from both of them. Thank the gods he did that because they surely wouldn't listen to me if they argued...

Hokuto gritted his teeth. "However!" he interjected and played the card he had found. "Because I took 2000 or more battle damage, I can activate the Action Magic Amazing Escape!" a card, which depicted a similar scenario to Big Escape but with the female emerging from a water tank of glass, appeared. "On top of the fact your Battle Phase is forced to end, I gain Life equal to half the battle damage I took!"

Hokuto: LP 500 + 1750 = 2250

"I almost got you there." I teased him with a playful smirk. "But of course this Duel won't be an easy ride. That said, I set two cards and pass it over to you! With the end of my turn, the effects of Xolotl and Archfiend Staff of Despair expire."

(Xolotl: 4200→2200 ATK; Persei: 0→2100 ATK; Praesepe: 300→2400 ATK)

"Shijima-senshu was able to survive by the skin of his teeth!" Nico shouted over the cheering crowd, both of whom were happy the Duel didn't end yet. "He lost almost half of his Life in one turn, but his Monsters and Continuous Spells were left untouched by Sakushi-senshu, setting the stage for a counterattack. The question is, what kind of counterattack will he show us!?"

"Heh heh, don't avert your eyes then." Hokuto boasted before drawing a new card. "Boku no turn! I activate the Spell Card Holy Meteorite! Since I control two 'Constellar' Xyz Monsters, I can destroy both of your set cards! Vanish!"

"Like last time, I'll chain one of their activation to your effect!" a card, which depicted a female archer shooting a barrage of glowing arrows at a giant boar with red eyes, straight hairs that resembled spears, mist flowing out of its mouth, and tusks the size of a mammoth's, bathed in a menacing aura, revealed itself. "It's the Trap Card Calydonian Hunt, an event that's taken from the same mythology as your Persei!"

"And what does it do?" Hokuto raised an eyebrow.

"Shoot down your cards like the great heroine Atalanta's arrow did to the fierce Calydonian Boar, a feat many heroes didn't even come close to accomplish." I specified. "By releasing a Mythorror I control, I can target and destroy up to two cards on the field."

"Take advantage of the situation." Demiurge instructed me. "With no Overlay Units, Persei is useless to the Constellar boy, and Tempest has an effect which destroys itself, so the cards to purge should be obvious."

I nodded to confirm his words. "I release Xolotl and aim for Praesepe and Star Chart!"

"As you wish, my master." my Fusion Monster nodded. He then morphed into purple energy and was absorbed into my Trap.

"Never mind what I've said!" Nico laughed as Hokuto started looking for an Action Card with an annoyed expression. "Sakushi-senshu was waiting for his opponent's turn to further corner him! It seems he doesn't intend to give Shijima-senshu the chance to turn this around!"

"I didn't need his permission to do that anyway!" Hokuto pointed out defiantly. He jumped into the air and grabbed the tail of the Scorpius model that was floating there, using it to thrust himself upwards at the Pisces model. He snatched the Action Card that was glued to its side and gracefully landed on the ground.

"Look at him, stealing all the attention." Snow observed. She was impressed, and I couldn't help but feel the same way; I learned how to do stuff like that at You Show, so I know how hard they are to perform...

"Action Magic Mirror Barrier!" Hokuto declared. "By targeting Praesepe, it won't be destroyed by your effect!"

Calydonian Hunt fired two arrows of purple energy at Praesepe and Star Chart, piercing the latter but not the former as a square mirror appeared in front of it to deflect the arrow, which exploded in a pretty rain of particles. Seconds later, Hokuto's Holy Meteorite fired a shooting star, piercing my cards and causing them to explode in yellow particles.

The audience seemed to enjoy our little light show. Bummer I couldn't destroy Praesepe and Tempest, though...

"I lost Star Chart...but that doesn't matter." Hokuto stated with his familiar, confident grin. "I already have everything to defeat you this turn."

"What's this!?" Nico exclaimed. "Shijima-senshu has just declared this will be the last turn!"

"Bold of him to assume he'll trample over me or Demiurge-sama." Camazotz sneered.

"Bold of him to assume something remotely close to winning." Demiurge corrected him.

"Well, in his defense, his field and hand aren't empty." Ereshkigal pointed out, and I had to concur. In this game and anime, you never know what'll happen.

"I activate the Spell Card Xyz Treasure, letting me draw two cards because there are two Xyz Monsters face-up on the field," Hokuto explained. "Next, I summon Constellar Algiedi!"

The warrior who represented the Capricorn appeared on his field.

Constellar Algiedi: ATK 1600 / DEF 1400 / LV: 4

"When this Monster is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon one Level 4 'Constellar' Monster from my hand!" Hokuto played his next card. "Come, Constellar Kaus!"

Algiedi waved her staff as its tip glowed, conjuring a portal from which the centaur-themed Constellar emerged.

Constellar Kaus: ATK 1800 / DEF 700 / LV: 4

"Seikuriddo Kausuto no kōka hatsudō!" so he's aiming for a Rank 5. "Twice per turn, I can raise or lower the Level of a targeted 'Constellar' Monster by one! Obviously, I'm targeting Algiedi and Kaus and raise their Levels by one each!"

Kaus fired two arrows in unison, enveloping the stated Monsters with particles.

(Algiedi: Level 4→5; Kaus: Level 4→5)

"I overlay the Level 5 Algiedi and Kaus!" his Monsters turned into yellow beams and entered a swirling galaxy, triggering a pillar of light to shoot out from it. "Light of the stars, descend and shake this very earth! Xyz Summon! Rank 5! Constellar Pleiades!"

His signature Xyz Monster emerged from the portal with a battle cry.

Constellar Pleiades: ATK 2500 / DEF 1500 / RK: 5

"And there's more! By using Constellar Persei as the only Xyz Material, I perform another Xyz Summon!" Hokuto cried out, shocking everyone except me and You Show. He didn't summon it this way in his first match, no wonder they're surprised. "Rain down your dazzling light! Xyz Summon! Come forth, Rank 6! Constellar Ptolemy M7!"

The mechanical dragon flew out of the portal, landing next to Hokuto's other Xyz Monsters with a valiant roar.

Constellar Ptolemy M7: ATK 2700 / DEF 2000 / RK: 6

"Battle!" my opponent threw an arm forward. "Constellar Praesepe attacks Mythorror God Camazotz!" eh? why do that? Even after using its effect, Praesepe's ATK would be 100 short from my god's. "At this moment, the effect of Constellar Caduceus activates! Since Praesepe has it as an Overlay Unit and it battles a Light or Dark Attribute Monster, I can banish that Monster before the damage calculation!"

"He had an additional effect!?" I gasped in surprise. And since that effect doesn't destroy, I can't protect my god with Fragarach's other effect...! I have to find an Action Card!

"Shijima-senshu forces Sakushi-senshu on the defensive!" Nico said after seeing me start running around. Luckily for me, I found an Action Card on the star projector's stand.

"Action Magic Final Sacrifice!" a card, which depicted a humanoid silhouette holding a sword upwards with both of his hands, appeared. "By destroying a Monster I control, I take no battle damage for the rest of this turn! I'm sorry, Camazotz."

"If it's for victory, I guess it can't be helped..." he grumbled. "But make sure to punish this human for thinking about defeating Demiurge-sama."

"I'll defeat him, don't worry..." I reassured him with a nervous chuckle before he left my field. Fighting with all these different Monsters was fun but stressful at the same time; will my hair turn white by the time this journey ends, I wonder?

"Your persistence is lively as ever." Hokuto commented, annoyed how he didn't end me this turn. "But I wouldn't call you my rival if you can't survive a turn or two. I end my turn!" he then grinned wide. "And at this moment, Constellar Tempest's effect activates!"

There was no reason to take cover since Hokuto's Monsters could prevent my moves, so I begrudgingly accepted a second hit to the face from his Continuous Spell.

Vince: LP 20001000

"Sakushi-senshu managed to escape from Shijima-senshu's fierce assault, but with only one card in his hand and in his Pendulum Zone, how will he respond!?" Nico yelled.

"I won't keep anybody waiting." I chuckled and drew my new card. "Boku no turn! First is a blast from the past: I banish Solemn Command from my Graveyard during my Standby Phase to activate its effect, negating the effects of your Pleiades!"

A lightning bolt shot down from the sky and washed over Pleiades, causing him to grunt in pain and fall to one knee.

"Tch, that effect again...?" Hokuto's right eyebrow twitched.

"Here's another card you're familiar with: the Spell Card Sevenfolded Luck! I toss a coin, and depending on the result, an effect is applied. Let's see what the Seven Lucky Gods have in store for me!"

A coin materialized between us and it flipped into the air, landing back down on heads.

"Nice!" I cheered with a wide grin, while Hokuto gritted his teeth. "Since it landed on Heads, I can excavate the top five cards of my Deck, then add two of those cards to my hand and shuffle the rest into my Deck!"

After slowly revealing each card to the crowd and adding two of them to my hand, Hokuto's lips formed a lopsided smile.

"So Ritual's next..." he noted.

"Of course. But before I summon my goddess, I must prepare my field." I remarked before playing a different card. "I activate the Spell Card Hephaestus' Gift, whose effect allows me to draw a card and add the face-up Mythorror Baphomet from my Extra Deck to my hand, who I will then use to complete my Pendulum Scales!"

Once the pillar of blue light containing Baphomet appeared on my right and the word [PENDULUM] flashed between my cards, the crowd started chanting 'Pen-dulum! Pen-dulum!' like it did during Yuya and Sawatari's Duel.

"Fear not, people! This time, I will perform Pendulum Summon!" they cheered loudly at that. "Battalion of mythical creatures and gods! With our souls on the line, our power becomes the hammer which crushes despair! Pendulum Summon! Be reborn, Mythorror Tindalos, Aylith, and Succubus!"

A portal opened between the two pillars and three beams shot out of it, landing on my field and revealing the mentioned Monsters in Attack Position.

"Here to steal all your hearts once more!" Succubus winked again at the crowd.

"If you don't mind, I'll have you take part in a disappearing act." I offered her.

"It would be my pleasure, sweetheart!" she laughed.

I nodded, "Then let's do this! I activate the Ritual Spell Horrific Occultism! By releasing Monsters from my hand or field, I can Ritual Summon a 'Mythorror' Ritual Monster from my hand or Graveyard."

"Sakushi-senshu's Pendulum-Ritual is next!" Nico exclaimed with an excited grin.

"I release Succubus and perform the ancient ritual!" the magic circle in Horrific Occultism materialized on my field, and as my Monster turned into particles and was absorbed into it, I started Demiurge's chant for this Monster. "Goddess of the beginning. Bring to a conclusion what you started all those eons ago! Ritual Summon! Arise, Level 4! Mythorror Goddess Tiamat!"

Blue stars lit up one by one on the magic circle, followed by a blue line that connected them all, revealing the Draco constellation. Seconds later, a tall woman emerged from the circle: she had pale skin, the hind legs of a dragon instead of human ones, covered in viridian scales with crimson veins running between them, which also decorated her arms and hands, and she had long, black claws to top it off. Two oversized horns sprouted from the back of her silky gray hair, which pointed downwards and were colored like her scales, she had crimson eyes and wore rather revealing clothing, with her top being a black bra with crimson edges, while her bottom was a black thong.

...OK, who designed her attire!? That's way too revealing! Now I have to hope people won't call me a pervert!

Mythorror Goddess Tiamat: Dark / Fiend / Ritual / Effect / ATK: 2000 / DEF: 1000 / LV: 4

"Oh my." Reynardine cleared his throat, clearly flustered.

"Oh my, indeed~!" Adaro, on the other hand, was quite impressed.

"That's fanservice alright." Succubus added, causing me to blush.

"Not! A word!" I whisper-shouted to my entire deck. Her card's picture did a good job at hiding all that skin...now that she was on the field, I realized just how much she was revealing! "Seriously, Demiurge, or whoever gave her those clothes, what were you thinking!?"

I could feel Demiurge was confused. "What's all this fuss about?" what did you say!? "Don't tell me this is the first time you see a woman's skin?"

"Somebody's a sheltered child~." Sidonia sang teasingly.

"Am not!" I shouted through gritted teeth. The nerve of these people...! Now's not the time for these things, so get ready to be lectured once this was over!

"What are you waiting for?" Hokuto snapped me back to reality, confused by the long pause.

"A-Ah, don't worry about me! I thought I saw an Action Card, but it was just a trick of the light." I quickly lied, although I don't think it worked because Hokuto raised an eyebrow in confusion. Thank the gods! This world was apparently oblivious to Duel-Monster-underdressing...I hope it was. "Because I released Succubus for the Ritual Summon, I can draw one card. Then I activate Tiamat's effect!"

The goddess silently outstretched an arm, conjuring a whirlpool of saltwater under herself.

"By banishing a Spell Card from my Graveyard, I can Special Summon one face-up Level 4 or lower Mythorror from my Extra Deck," I explained as I copied her movement. "I banish Final Sacrifice. Return to me, seducing demon of men's dreams!"

The said Monster emerged from the whirlpool, waving a hand at the crowd.

"So this is the power of the glistening one..." Ereshkigal thought out loud. "Or a portion of it? This game puts her powers of creation on the same level as my powers of resurrection, making it hard to judge her true strength..."

"...A letdown..." Howard muttered in disappointment.

"Don't say that. Her strength as a Duel Monster is good, too. After all, I can do this now: I overlay the Level 4 Tiamat and Succubus!" my Monsters turned into purple beams that entered the swirling galaxy, from which a pillar of light shot out. "Avatar of windstorms, cross the vast desert dyed in red, and claim the throne of Egypt! Xyz Summon! Descend to us, Rank 4! Mythorror God Seth!"

The anthropomorphic jackal god leaped out of the portal, spinning his golden staff that seemed a cross between a was-sceptre and an axe from one hand to the other.

Mythorror God Seth: ATK 2400 / DEF 1000 / RK: 4

"It's my time to shine like the stars!" he declared with a chuckle.

"From a Pendulum-Ritual to an Xyz Summon!" Nico cried out in awe. "And by using a Ritual Monster as an Xyz Material to boot! This must be the first time I see such a thing!"

"Finally." Hokuto smirked zealously while the crowd cheered. "You revealed your Xyz."

"I told you I'll make sure to summon it in our future Duel." I reminded him. "Since Tiamat was used as material, I can activate her effect, returning Final Sacrifice that I banished with her effect to my hand. Now's time for a wardrobe change! I activate Mythorror Snow's effect from my hand, equipping her to Aylith!"

The beautiful woman with inhumanly pale skin, blue lips, gray eyes, black hair cascading over her back, and wearing a white kimono materialized behind the Old One, throwing a glistering, white veil around her shoulders before turning into a spirit.

"As I thought, it fits you perfectly." Snow nodded to herself. While some girls from the audience were left mesmerized by the veil's beauty, Aylith inspected it in confusion, unfamiliar with the sensation. "Hmm, white branches remind me of winter...how nostalgic. This is good inspiration for a haiku."

She writes? "Y-You write haikus nya~?" Nekomata shily voiced my thoughts.

"Yes, I do." Snow giggled and nodded. "If you'd like, I can show you my collection."

"P-Please do! Thank you!" Nekomata exclaimed. That's nice...she's a very shy girl, so I'm glad Snow will keep her company.

That said, "This veil isn't just beautiful. If the comrade who wears it is used as material for the summon of a god, I can treat them as a god as well!" I raised my hand to the left. "You who earns to battle, activate your Pendulum Effect once more!"

Lindworm replied to my words with a roar, causing Aylith and Tindalos to turn into red and blue energy respectively, which then spiraled into a portal as I chanted.

"Widow in the Woods! Relentless pursuer of time travelers! Let your desires awaken the deity of eternal drought! Fusion Summon! Level 7! Mythorror God Balor!"

To emerge from the portal was the imposing Cyclops with a muscular build, maroon skin, black claws, pointed ears, a bald head, and an insectoid mouth, who kept his eye closed. He was clad in gray armor adorned with spikes and chains and held a spear in his right hand.

Mythorror God Balor: ATK 2600 / DEF 2000 / LV: 7

"I offer all the blood I'll spill in this battle to you, Demiurge-sama!" he proclaimed.

"Sakushi-senshu performs another Fusion Monster." Nico reported. "However, only Balor has enough Attack to defeat one of Shijima-senshu's Monsters! At this rate, he can't win this turn!"

"I can't win, you say?" I faked a shocked expression to entertain the audience, followed by a smirk. "Even if I do this? Aylith's effect activates again, Special Summoning a new Adult Mythorror Token to my field! Tindalos also gifts Balor with new effects, letting me draw a card and raising his Attack by 300!"

Another Adult Token burst out of the ground, proudly displaying its 0 DEF to my opponent, and at the same time, Balor gained a purple aura.

(Balor: 2600→2900 ATK)

"I activate the Spell Card Complete Homonoia!" I stated. "By targeting Balor and the Adult Token, the latter's Attack and half the difference between my Life Points and yours is added to the former's Attack until the End Phase!"

"What!?" Hokuto's eyes widened.

(Balor: 2900→5525 ATK)

"Lastly, I activate Baphomet's Pendulum Effect, targeting Balor for it! Now the Attack of all other Mythorrors I currently control becomes equal to the targeted Balor's Attack until the End Phase!"

Obeying my command, Baphomet held out a hand as it glowed purple, conjuring a glowing pentagram of the same color under each of my three Monsters.

(Adult Token: 2000→5525 ATK; Seth: 2400→5525 ATK)

"Look at all those Attack Points!" Nico cried out as Hokuto started looking for an Action Card. "If Seth's and Balor's attacks hit their marks, then it's game over for Shijima-senshu!"

"Let the climax commence!" I threw an arm to the side, before thrusting it back forward. "Battle! Balor, attack Ptolemy M7! Evil Eye of Destruction!"

Hokuto jumped onto the star projector's stand, from where he jumped again towards the Aquarius model, snatching the Action Card that was hanging from its mouth.

"Action Magic Gravity Well!" a card, which depicted a comically drawn gravitational potential, revealed itself. "By paying 1000 Life Points, I take no damage for the rest of this turn!"

Nico's eyes widened, "A miracle saves Shijima-senshu!"

Hokuto: LP 2250 - 1000 = 1250

A powerful energy beam was unleashed from Balor's eyes once he opened it to perform his attack, piercing Ptolemy M7's body and causing it to explode in blue flames. A transparent barrier appeared around Hokuto to protect him.

"You aren't out of the woods yet!" I informed my opponent. "One of the three effects Balor possesses banishes all Monsters destroyed by battle involving a Mythorror, therefore, Ptolemy M7 is banished."

"As long as I draw breath, my stronghold continues to exist." Balor struck the ground with his spear, conjuring the spectral image of a ring of tall and pointy rocks around us. "Those who perish in my presence are forever lost to the world! Tór Mór!"

The spectral image of Ptolemy M7 suddenly appeared, trapped inside one of the rocks. It and Tór Mór vanished moments later, and I pointed at Hokuto's field.

"Since a 'Constellar' Monster left your field, Tempest is destroyed by its own effect. Battle! Seth, attack Pleiades! Lord of Sepermeru!"

"Fear not, warrior of the stars!" Seth twirled his weapon in his hands. "I'll make sure to list all your names to Nut next time I see her! But for now...vanish!"

He unleashed a whirlwind of sand with the swing of his staff, which enveloped the Xyz Monster.

"Thanks to Gravity Well's effect, I won't take any damage!" Hokuto remarked.

"But your Monster is still destroyed and then banished." I pointed out as Pleiades exploded in blue flames.

"Tór Mór!" and then got trapped into Balor's stronghold.

"With that, my turn comes to a close." I bowed to our viewers. "Complete Homonoia's and Baphomet's effects also expire."

(Balor: 5525→2900 ATK; Adult Token: 5525→2000 ATK; Seth: 5525→2400 ATK)

"Boku no turn! Draw!" Hokuto declared. He smirked upon seeing his new card. "I activate the Spell Card Pot of Extravagance! By banishing face-down six random cards from my Extra Deck, I can draw two new cards!"

"From the Extra Deck!? Six!?" Nico cried out in disbelief. "That's a rather dangerous gamble he's willing to take!"

I wouldn't call it that dangerous... "He must have filled his Extra Deck with multiple copies of the same Monster." Demiurge was thinking the same thing as me. "I'm more interested in why he's relying on luck. He scorned when you did so in your first Duel."

It's not luck, but inevitability...was what I told him, shamelessly copying Tenjo Kaito's words. But it looks like he took them seriously. That's...honestly...a beautiful display of growth.

After drawing his next cards, Hokuto couldn't contain a short laugh. "By the looks of things, you aren't the only one blessed with luck today." it seems his gamble paid off... "Allow me to show you my new ace Monster, Sakushi! I release Praesepe to Advance Summon Constellar Alrescha!"

A warrior clad in bulky armor, had a cloak fastened to his shoulders, whose interior glowed with a starry sky, and held two large carving forks connected to each other by electricity appeared.

Constellar Alrescha: Light / Warrior / Effect / ATK: 2200 / DEF: 1200 / LV: 6

"When Alrescha is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon a Constellar from my hand in face-up defense mode!" Alrescha crossed his forks at his user's command, conjuring a portal next to himself. "Appear, Constellar Siat!"

A little kid clad in armor with a cloak fastened to his shoulders, whose interior glowed with a starry sky, and holding a vase appeared next.

Constellar Siat: Light / Fairy / Effect / ATK: 100 / DEF: 1600 / LV: 1

"Now I activate Siat's effect, targeting Alrescha for it." the little kid threw his vase into the air, showering himself in a rain of yellow particles. "Siat's Level becomes the same as the targeted 'Constellar' Monster's, in this case 6! I overlay the now Level 6 Siat and Alrescha!"

His Monsters turned into yellow beams and entered a swirling galaxy, from which a pillar of light shot out.

"Star shining in the distant galaxy! Become a mighty supernova, and defeat all those who oppose you! Xyz Summon! Show yourself, Rank 6! Constellar Nebula M1!"

A mechanical dragon clad in ornate armor and possessing wings whose membranes glowed with a starry sky and a web-like structure on top of it emerged from the swirling galaxy, landing in front of its user with a grand roar. Instead of legs, it had a long tail with a pointed tip attached to its waist, and two bull horns adorned its head. This dragon...it's the one which appears on Constellar Belt alongside Ptolemy M7! So it finally debuted, huh...

Constellar Nebula M1: Light / Machine / Xyz / Effect / ATK: 2800 / DEF: 1900 / RK: 6

"I activate the Continuous Spell Constellar Transcendence." a card, which depicted numerous parts of different Constellars, except for those of Castor, Sombre, and Rasalhague, fusing together to form Nebula M1, appeared. "You'll learn soon what it does. For now, worry about Nebula M1's effect!"

The mighty dragon ate one of the lights orbiting its body. "By using an Overlay Unit, Nebula M1 returns all Monsters you control to the hand! Cosmic Star Shower!"

My eyes widened. "Its range isn't limited to only one card...!?" talk about a strong effect. "But I also have effects to use! I activate Seth's effect at the cost of his two Overlay Units, then the Action Magic Final Sacrifice! Seth, do you mind?"

"Of course not, my king! Death is a trivial thing before my ability!" Seth shouted as he crushed his two Overlay Units with his weapon before vanishing from the field.

The dragon fired a beam from its mouth into the sky, and seconds later, stars poured down and enveloped my remaining Monsters, causing them to vanish into nothingness.

"Sakushi-senshu's Monsters are purged, however, thanks to the effect of Final Sacrifice, he won't take any battle damage for the rest of this turn!" Nico pointed out.

"This is all within my expectations!" Hokuto exclaimed. That's not the voice of somebody who's about to end their turn because they can't do anything else...! "Behold Nebula M1's strength! By using its other Overlay Unit, it returns all Spell and Trap Cards you control to the hand! Cosmic Star Shower!"

The dragon slashed the other Overlay Unit in half with its tail and unleashed a second shower of stars at my Monsters. A twice-per-turn effect and it also affects Spells and Traps at once!?

"It's strong..." I thought out loud as I took hold of the cards in my Pendulum Zones.

"It's stronger than all his other weaklings, that's for sure." Demiurge snorted.

"I'm not done yet!" Hokuto cried out. "Constellar Transcendence's effect! All non-'Constellar' cards that would be returned from the field or Graveyard to the hand by the effect of a 'Constellar' Xyz Monster are instead shuffled into the Deck!"

"What!?" I gasped in shock. Dammit, he had a card to strengthen his main playstyle, too? I thought in vexation while placing Lindworm and Baphomet onto my deck, which immediately auto-shuffled.

"Shijima-senshu reveals another anti-Pendulum combo!" Nico shouted. "Sakushi-senshu's field has been completely emptied!"

"That's not all! Battle!" eh!? Why attack if I can't take damage...? In any case, I can use this to my advantage! "Nebula M1 attacks you directly, Sakushi! You won't take any damage, but by not doing so, Constellar Transcendence's other effect activates."

His dragon started charging energy in its mouth. "Once per turn, if my opponent doesn't take any battle damage from my 'Constellar' Monster's attack, they take 500 damage! Go, Sacred Supernova!"

Nebula M1 let loose of a golden energy beam, enveloping me in it and sending me tumbling to the ground with a pained gasp.

Vince: LP 1000 - 500 = 500

"If I can activate Transcendence's effect one more time, then your remaining 500 Life Points will perish." Hokuto pointed out the obvious. "Hiding behind a wall-Monster will be useless! Taking into account your talent to turn things around in any pinch, I won't count you out of the Duel just yet, but things are looking pretty desperate for you, Sakushi."

"Correction." I grunted out while standing back up. Hokuto's eyes narrowed when he saw I was grinning. "They looked desperate...but then you entered your Battle Phase. I thank you for it, because now—" I aimed a finger at him. "My victory is assured!"

"Assured, you say?" he smirked. "And why's that?"

"With the end of your Battle Phase, Seth's effect continues!" his eyes widened at that. "I can Special Summon from my Graveyard as many 'Mythorror' Monsters destroyed this turn as possible, at pact I halve their Attack and Defense, and as a bonus, those comrades can't be destroyed by card effects this turn! The only Mythorror that was destroyed is this guy!"

"Burn the strength of the true King of Egypt into your eyes! Return from Amduat!" Seth's voice echoed around us before a miniature tornado of sand appeared in front of me, from which he emerged in defense mode.

(Seth: 2400→1200 ATK, 1000→500 DEF)

"Not fully revealing his effect came in handy." Demiurge chuckled, impressed with my underhanded tactic. Well, not everyone reveals all the effects of their cards from the get-go, so why should I?

"Your Xyz Monster?" Hokuto raised an eyebrow. "Its Attack is nowhere near my Nebula M1's, which means you must have something planned... I end my turn!"

"I won't keep anyone watching in the dark about my plan." I reassured him. "Boku no turn, draw! By using a 'Mythorror' Xyz Monster I control with no Overlay Units as the only Xyz Material, I can Xyz Summon this god!"

"What!?" Hokuto cried out in shock, a sentiment shared by the other viewers.

Seth turned into a purple beam and entered a swirling galaxy, triggering a pillar of light to shoot out from it as I chanted.

"Ruler cloaked in death's scent. Gather the army that will defeat those foolish enough to defy me! Xyz Summon! Descend, Rank 7! Mythorror God Supay!"

To emerge from the portal was a tall man with stone blue skin decorated with black tattoos and four-toed feet with gray talons. He wore a black and golden headdress with the Supay-mask Duel Monster on his face, a brown loincloth with blue orbs strapped to its waist, a pair of bracelets made of blue orbs around his ankles, and clawed stone gauntlets. A purple flame lit up in the god's right palm, which he menacingly crushed under his grip.

Mythorror God Supay: Dark / Fiend / Xyz / Effect / ATK: 2700 / DEF: 1600 / RK: 7

"An effect...that's similar to my Ptolemy M7's...?" Hokuto muttered, still shaken.

"Imitating the strong is but another way to become strong or to find one's own battle style." I told him, using Yamatochi's own words. The dragonic god hummed in agreement.

"My strength isn't an imitation of anyone." Supay pointed out flatly, slightly offended, too.

"I know, I know, it was just to fill the silence." I reassured him with an amused smile.

Hokuto covered his face with a hand, prompting me to sweatdrop. Did I offend him, or—

"Pfff, hahahahahaha!" Hokuto threw his head back as he burst out laughing. Oh, OK, I didn't offend him. "I guess I can't argue about that." he replied to my earlier words, now sporting a genuine smile. "Well done, Sakushi. However! Your new god's Attack is 100 short from Nebula M1's. At this rate, it can't defeat it!"

"Attack loses its meaning before this god." I remarked and gestured at my Monster. "I activate Supay's effect! By using his Overlay Unit, this turn, when my gods attack an enemy Monster, that Monster will be destroyed before the damage calculation!"

"As the god of death, I shall decide when the strings called life will release you from their hold." his mask absorbed his only Overlay Unit, causing purple flames to envelop his gauntlets.

"This time an effect that's similar to Caduceus'?" Hokuto's eyes widened, although his smile never left his face. He was enjoying this as much as the entire crowd and I were. "So no matter how strong my Monster is, you'll just destroy it without breaking a sweat...!"

"By the looks of things, Sakushi-senshu wants to end this spectacular Duel with a battle between Xyz Monsters!" Nico noted.

"You bet I do! Battle!" I exclaimed and pointed forward. "Supay, attack Nebula M1!"

Supay bumped his fists eagerly and leaped at the opposing Xyz Monster, which roared in reply before unleashing a burst of golden energy from its mouth. Supay dodged it by performing a midair bounce, and then took hold of the Sagittarius model he came across and threw it at Nebula M1.

The dragon broke the model apart with a whip of its tail, but in turn obscuring its vision with dust, which gave my god the opportunity to sneak up from behind it and seize its neck.

"Off you go to my realm! Ukhu Pacha!" he declared and performed a suplex on Nebula M1, which exploded in purple flames upon touching the ground.

"Shijima-senshu's ace in the hole was destroyed!" Nico roared over the cheering crowd.

"To finish you off, I activate the Quick-Play Spell Eschatos Logy!" I revealed the card from my hand. "This allows a Mythorror to declare an additional attack during the Battle Phase, at the cost of halving all battle damage you take for the rest of this turn! Of course, the one to attack again will be—"

"Me!" Supay shouted over me and smashed the ground with his fist, unleashing a wave of dark energy at Hokuto, who was thrown off his feet by it and landed on his back with a pained cry.

Hokuto: LP 1250 - 1350 = 0

Winner: Vince!

"Hokuto!" I gasped in concern and rushed to him, worried I overdid it for a second time. Luckily, that wasn't the case, because when I reached him he was faintly chuckling and raising his body into a sitting position.

"For crying out loud..." he sighed in exasperation, prompting me to smile in relief. Right, I have Demiurge who's keeping my powers in check... "I lost...again."

"It's settled!" Nico's voice rang out in the stadium, together with the cheers and claps of the audience. "The winner of this fantastic Duel is none other than Sakushi Vincent, who'll be advancing to the third round of the tournament!"

"And here I thought I've gotten strong enough to defeat you." Hokuto narrowed his eyes at the ground with a crestfallen expression. "But, by the looks of things, I still have a long way to go..."

I extended him my hand. "But you're on the good road." he raised his head as I said that. "After all, you aren't the same Hokuto with a fragile and overblown pride I Dueled the first time. If you hadn't entered your Battle Phase in your last turn, I might have lost. So...this time, I'm waiting for a rematch with open arms!"

His eyes widened in surprise. "...Thank you." he eventually smiled back and took my hand.


Fan-made Cards:

Action Cards:

Amazing Escape

Action Spell

If you take 2000 or more battle damage from the attack of an opponent's monster: End the Battle Phase, and if you do, gain LP equal to half the battle damage you took.

Final Sacrifice

Action Spell

Destroy 1 monster you control, and if you do, you take no battle damage for the rest of this turn.

Gravity Well

Action Spell

Pay 1000 LP; you take no damage for the rest of this turn.

Hokuto:

Constellar Persei (Light/Warrior/Xyz/Effect/ATK: 2100/DEF: 1800/RK: 3)

2 Level 3 "Constellar" monsters

If this card is Xyz Summoned: You can add 1 "Constellar" card from your Deck to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Constellar Persei" once per turn. (Quick Effect): You can detach 1 material from this card, then target 1 "Constellar" monster you control; this turn, that target cannot be destroyed by your opponent's card.

[Trivia: this card's a reference to the Perseus constellation and the Greek hero of the same name.]

Constellar Nebula M1 (Light/Machine/Xyz/Effect/ATK: 2800/DEF: 1900/RK: 6)

2 Level 6 "Constellar" monsters

Twice per turn: You can detach 1 material from this card; apply 1 of these effects.

- Return all monsters your opponent controls to the hand.

- Return all Spells/Traps your opponent controls to the hand.

If this Xyz Summoned card is destroyed and sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 "Constellar" Xyz Monster from your Extra Deck, and if you do, attach this card to it as a material. (This is treated as an Xyz Summon.) You can only use this effect of "Constellar Nebula M1" once per turn.

[Trivia: this card's a reference to the Crab Nebula.]

Constellar Transcendence

Continuous Spell

If a card(s) would be returned from the field or GY to the hand by the effect of a "Constellar" Xyz Monster, shuffle it into the Deck instead, unless it is a "Constellar" card. Once per turn, if your opponent does not take any battle damage from an attack involving a "Constellar" monster: You can inflict 500 damage to your opponent.

Vince:

Mythorror Gnostic Kerberos (UNKNOWN)

EFFECTS UNKNOWN

[Trivia: in Greek mythology, Cerberus was a multi-headed dog that guarded the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. It's also an obsolete constellation created by Johannes Hevelius. This card's concept was made by DestinyBlazer.]

Mythorror Goddess Tiamat (Dark/Fiend/Ritual/Effect/ATK: 2000/DEF: 1000/LV: 4)

(This card is also always treated as a WATER "Mythorror Gnostic" monster.)

You can Ritual Summon this card with "Horrific Occultism". You can only use each of the following effects of "Mythorror Goddess Tiamat" once per turn.

- You can reveal this card from your hand, and if you do, discard it and add 1 "Horrific Occultism" from your Deck or GY to your hand.

- You can target 1 Spell in your GY; banish it, and if you do, Special Summon 1 face-up Level 4 or lower "Mythorror" monster from your Extra Deck.

If this card is used as material for the Summon of a "Mythorror" monster: You can target 1 Spell in your Banish Zone banished by this card's effect; add it to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Mythorror Goddess Tiamat" once per Duel.

[Trivia: this card's a reference to the Tiamat, a primordial goddess of the salt sea in the religion of ancient Babylon, and the Draco constellation. Her design, as well as her backstory which we'll see later on, were inspired by Fate/Grand Order's own Tiamat.]

Mythorror God Supay (Dark/Fiend/Xyz/Effect/ATK: 2700/DEF: 1600/RK: 7)

2 Level 7 "Mythorror" monsters

(This card is also always treated as an EARTH monster.)

You can also Xyz Summon this card by using a "Mythorror" Xyz Monster you control with no materials as the Xyz Material, other than "Mythorror God Supay". You can only Special Summon 1 "Mythorror God Supay" per turn this way. Once per turn: You can detach 1 material from this card; this turn, if a "Mythorror God" monster attacks a monster, that monster is destroyed before damage calculation.

[Trivia: in Inca mythology, Supay was a god of death and ruler of the underworld and demons.]

Carpo's Benevolence

Normal Spell

Draw 2 cards, then discard 1 "Mythorror" monster from your hand, or, if you do not have any in your hand, send your entire hand to the GY. If your "Mythorror" monster(s) is destroyed by your opponent's card: You can banish this card from your GY; draw 1 card. You can only use 1 "Carpo's Benevolence" effect per turn, and only once that turn.

[Trivia: in Greek mythology, Carpo was a Horae and a goddess of the order of nature, in charge of ripening. Name credit goes to scififan599.]

Mythorror Old One Aylith (Dark/Fiend/Pendulum/Effect/ATK: 2000/DEF: 1600/LV: 7/SC: 8)

Pendulum Effect: You can only Pendulum Summon "Mythorror" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. During your Main Phase: You can Special Summon 1 "Infant Mythorror Token" (Dark/Fiend/Tuner/ATK: 0/DEF: 1600/LV: 1) or 1 "Adult Mythorror Token" (Dark/Fiend/ATK: 2000/DEF: 0/LV: 7), then banish this card. You can only use this effect of "Mythorror Old One Aylith" once per turn.

Monster Effect: This card is also treated as a Plant monster while on the field. If your opponent controls a monster, you can Normal Summon (but not Set) this card without Tributing, but halve its ATK/DEF. If this card is used as material for the Summon of a "Mythorror" monster: You can Special Summon 1 "Infant Mythorror Token" or 1 "Adult Mythorror Token". You can only use this effect of "Mythorror Old One Aylith" once per turn.

[Trivia: Aylith, also known as The Widow in the Woods or The Many-Mother, is a Great Old One who appears in the "Cthulhu Mythos". Name credit goes to Erik.]

Mythorror Succubus (Dark/Fiend/Pendulum/Effect/ATK: 1000/DEF: 1000/LV: 4/SC: 3)

Pendulum Effect: You can only Pendulum Summon "Mythorror" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. You can send this card to the GY; draw 1 card. You can only use this effect of "Mythorror Succubus" once per turn.

Monster Effect: This card is also treated as a Spellcaster monster while on the field. If this card is Tributed for the Tribute or Ritual Summon, or used as material for the Summon, of a "Mythorror" monster: You can draw 1 card. You can only use this effect of "Mythorror Succubus" once per turn.

[Trivia: A succubus is a fiend that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity.]

Calydonian Hunt

Normal Trap

Tribute 1 "Mythorror" monster you control, then target up to 2 cards on the field; destroy them. You can only activate 1 "Calydonian Hunt" per turn.

[Trivia: this card's a reference to the Calydonian Hunt.]


I have to say, I'm very satisfied with this chapter.

Starting from the top, we see Vince is repenting for hurting Manek in their previous Duel and finds out just why that happened. Demiurge, in order to progress the plot because he wants to leave our MC's body already, decides to help him by keeping his "power" in check so another accident like this will never repeat itself. Then we also more intel about his army and such, which I hope you all liked because I put a lot of thought into it (and Erik helped me out with it, too!).

Following that, we pay a visit to Manek in the hospital and learn what happened to him. His Monsters, obviously, aren't too happy about it, and tension forms between them and Vince, which they'll resolve later on in the story. For my older readers, as you can see, I removed the part where Eternal tried to attack Vince, not because I didn't like it, but because a Duel Spirit can't actually interact with the Real World (or at least in my story they can't), so it didn't make much sense to keep it.

Then comes this chapter's main attraction, Vince vs. Hokuto Round 2! Since this was Hokuto's send-off Duel, I wanted it to be perfect, hence why I made so many changes to its previous version, and I love the end result!

Reviews really make my day and it's a great way to communicate with you readers, and maybe find out errors I can avoid making. Please review, and with that said, here's the chapter's last scene!


Two cards appeared on the screen before turning around, revealing Mythorror Snow and Constellar Nebula M1. They suddenly glowed, and Vince and Hokuto emerged from them respectively, both smiling.

"I forgot to tell you something." Hokuto addressed his rival. He then placed a hand to his chin and narrowed his eyes. "No, two, actually... The first was your Entertainment Dueling has gotten really good. Even though I lost, I couldn't stop smiling till the very end."

"Heh heh, thank you." Vince rubbed his nose with a proud grin.

"But that takes me to my second point... Tiamat, was it?" Hokuto asked, causing Vince to freeze on the spot. "By your reaction, I presume you already know where this is going... Look, Sakushi...that Monster seriously needs some censoring. One can practically see everything."

"Th-That's what I told Demiurge and his Monsters!" Vince quickly raised his hands in defense. "You know how embarrassed I was when I noticed it!?"

"...But you still use it." Hokuto pointed out flatly. "So you don't mind it, do you?"

"E-EEEHH!?" Vince cried out, beat red. "W-Where did that come from!? Do you think I can just refuse Demiurge's strong cards when I'm in an anime!? Her effects are amazing, of course I would use her!"

"OK, so you don't mind." Hokuto revealed his teasing smirk.

"Oi, you're just toying with me now!" Vince pointed an accusing finger at him.

"Maybe, maybe not." Hokuto shrugged, much to the Mythorror user's annoyance. "With that out of the way, it's time for the Secret of the Chapter."

"Yeah..." Vince glared at him for a couple of seconds before turning to the viewers. "Here's the secret: in case you didn't notice, Clarissa is actually a reference to a character that appears in the next Yu-Gi-Oh! series!"

"You don't know how it's called?" Hokuto raised an eyebrow.

"Ah, you see, SakushiRyu refused to tell me its name in order to avoid spoilers and such. Not that I mind," Vince explained. "With that said, see you everyone in the next chapter!"

The screen faded into black, followed by the words [To Be Continued...].