Solomon knew what he was about to do was potentially very dangerous... however this woman had taken an open interest in his grandson and he had to know. Particularly considering some of the rumors regarding the crown she wore.
The Phoenix Crown was made for only one person, and that was a queen who seemed to move in and out of the history books on a whim.
Avatre, the Undying Queen. Many scholars assumed they had found her tomb, only to learn that the real one had been hidden elsewhere and they had simply stumbled across one of her many female lovers. Some had claimed she didn't exist at all, except her picture kept appearing in other important areas...all of the same woman. The most striking factor was the revelation that her image appeared in dynasties that occurred long after she should have died.
The only thing that stayed his hand was that all accounts of the mysterious figure claimed the same thing. That the queen was benevolent, kind, just and would not harm the innocent.
Solomon took one look at her gaze and knew...this wasn't a normal young woman. This was someone who have lived out of time longer than anyone else had been alive.
"I should have guessed someone who spent as much time as you did investigating tombs would have figured out my identity," said Lotus calmly.
"A queen who lives outside of time. Avatre, the Undying Queen," said Solomon.
She calmly sipped her tea, not really caring he had found her out. It wasn't like she was trying to hide it after all.
"I have no intentions of harming your grandson. Quite the contrary...I'm very invested in not only keeping him alive, but seeing him flourish."
"Why?" asked Solomon.
"What do you know of my legend. Specifically I mean?"
"It's said that you have taken mostly female lovers, or at least those are the only ones that have been found. Most of the time they are mistaken for you until proven otherwise," said Solomon. That was the main reason for why he was concerned for her interest in Yugi.
"There's a reason for that. After a certain incident, I swore to the gods to never take another man into my bed until my husband was either given a second chance or laid to rest. And after five thousand years, he's finally returned to me."
Solomon stared at her.
"You think Yugi is your husband?" he said incredulous and more than slightly alarmed.
Lotus gave him an annoyed look.
"Don't be ridiculous. Yugi is clearly an innocent, and I wouldn't dare take Luna's claim. No, my husband is the spirit trapped inside his Puzzle. Yugi is simply his reincarnation, which is likely the only reason he was able to solve that thing in the first place. The resonance between him and the soul contained in the Puzzle was out of sync until recently."
Solomon stared at her. She continued to drink her tea.
"What do you plan to do with my grandson?"
"Until the spirit in the Puzzle is either freed or put to rest, I intend to stay in Domino and help Yugi whenever possible. Items of power such as the Puzzle always attract headaches...case in point, my crown which originally was just a simple birthday present. And considering the powers that dwell in that puzzle are often tied to darkness and messing with souls, he's going to need all the help he can get."
Solomon thought back to what he knew about the Undying Queen. All of it pointed to one thing...her nature was that of a protector and Great Mother goddess.
All in all, his grandson couldn't have found a better "big sister" type to keep an eye on him.
Did not make the potential relationship she had with the spirit in the Puzzle any less awkward, since it could possess his grandson.
Lotus seemed to know what was going through his mind. She smirked.
"Just so we're clear, Luna has already staked her claim on Yugi. I'm not so rude as to usurp it simply because my beloved is possessing him for a time. I've waited five thousand years for him to come back to me...I can easily wait however long is needed for the great destiny Yugi has unlocked to be resolved and hopefully set him free."
Yugi looked at his new costume eagerly, turning this way and that.
"This is so cool Nee-san!" said Yugi. It looked like a real Egyptian outfit!
"You are going to be my special assistant for the day, Yugi!" said Lotus smiling at him.
"Won't Tsuki-chan be jealous?"
"Not if I'm dressed up as well," said Tsuki cheerfully. Unlike Yugi or Lotus, her outfit was more of a noble's garb. Still rather fancy, but nowhere near as much gold on her.
"Luna here will be my loyal Lady in Waiting. You are an Egyptian Prince. Jounouchi is going to be a Black Knight who wields a shield instead of a sword," said Lotus.
"Why a shield?" asked Yugi, curious.
"Not all knights fought with swords. Besides, Jounouchi is more of a 'protector' than a 'fighter'. Not to mention even a shield can do damage if you hit someone hard enough."
There was also the fact that Jounouchi couldn't exactly carry around a sword with him like Marik could. It took years of training to learn how to master a sword, and Jounouchi was more of a brawler to begin with. A shield was perfect because it provided defense as well as being 'harmless' enough that most cops wouldn't demand he leave it at home.
(On an unrelated note, it turned out that Jounouchi was a secret fan of the hero "Captain America" and was easily convinced to learn how to use a shield to emulate his favorite hero.)
Yugi was over the moon about wandering around the museum chatting with the guards in his costume. It was a lot of fun and he was able to direct the patrons to various exhibits.
What he didn't notice was the way the guards were looking at him while his back was turned.
"What is the Great Mother playing at?" asked Odion.
"I think she's mostly having fun...and reminding herself why she waited so long. Besides, have you noticed the way she treats him?" said Marik.
Odion observed them carefully, before he understood. The Great Mother was loving towards Luna, but her interactions with Yugi were more in line with the way she treated Marik or the honored grandchildren.
Then Yugi spotted an artifact he didn't recognize. He waited until after closing to ask about it. Jounouchi looked tired, but he was having a lot of fun acting as tour guide for the day.
"Who's that woman? The one on the painting in the Egyptian exhibit near the corner?" asked Yugi. She looked really familiar for some reason.
Marik looked at the painting, before he answered.
"That is the Great Mother, commonly referred to by scholars as the 'Undying Queen'. She's a figure that appears almost at random during important points in history and on more than one occasion she's acted as regent until the Pharaoh at the time was old enough to claim the throne properly," said Marik.
"Why is she called the Great Mother then?" asked Jounouchi.
"That title is the one the Medjai know her as, though we also call her the 'Honored Ancestor' or to a select few, 'Grandmother'," replied Odion. "In ancient times, she was the wife of a powerful Pharaoh...but upon his disappearance she secluded herself in the deep desert and allowed his cousin to rule with his wife, despite having already given birth to the heir and carrying a second in her womb."
Marik took up the story from there.
"She took them deep into the desert with her thirteen most loyal disciples, and from them created the Medjai clans. It is said she swore an oath to the old gods to never allow another man into her bed or carry their seed until her beloved husband was either freed from his imprisonment or finally laid to rest. It was because of her that the clans are still thriving today, despite modern influences."
Yugi frowned at that.
"Wait...I think I have heard of her. Grandpa mentioned someone like that, and said she was a really unusual queen because she only slept with women or something."
Marik snorted at that. Considering Solomon had already guessed her identity, it was little surprise he'd share that unspoken tidbit.
"The oath only specified that she would never sleep with another man or carry another's child. She never said anything about remaining celibate while she waited and in those times it wasn't unusual for pharaoh's to take multiple partners into their bed. In fact it was pretty much encouraged because harems were very common at the time," said Marik flatly. "I think the only reason she remained the sole wife was because he died before he took another into his bed chambers. Well that and because by marrying her he increased the favor he received by the gods."
"Wait, you said she had two kids. What happened to them?" asked Jounouchi.
Marik smirked at him.
"What do you think happened? They got married, had kids of their own and lived their own lives without being tied down by royal responsibilities. You have to remember, she had them five thousand years ago...that's enough time for her genes to spread pretty much all over the world and then some. Though some of the bloodline remained with the Medjai and another with a different sect dedicated to serving her husband and keeping what little mention of him exists alive. There's a reason only a chosen few are permitted to call her 'grandmother'."
"Essentially the Medjai consider her to be a 'Mother goddess' on par with Amaterasu," clarified Odion helpfully. "She's our protector and great ancestor and by this point our dedication to her has passed cult level into an unspoken religion."
"The only difference being that she had zero issue with us worshiping other gods so long as we remember our oaths to her. As long as we answer her call and fulfill any missions she gives us, she's fairly hands off about what we're allowed to believe."
Though some were a bit more...dedicated to her and her alone than others. Case in point, Marik and Odion. Most of the Medjai respected her as an honored ancestor rather than a goddess, which allowed them to skirt the issue.
Unknown to them, another person was listening to the story. Yami Yugi (as Yugi had taken to calling him) felt a strange pain in his chest, hearing that this queen had waited five thousand years for her husband to return to her. She must have truly loved him to wait so long, and the fact she had taken only female lovers made perfect sense. She would have been expected to share anyway had he lived, once he found others to add to his potential harem.
Still, why did he feel only heartache knowing that this queen had waited so patiently? Or that she had two children who lived long enough to have descendants of their own?
He wondered if this had anything to do with his missing memories. Only time would be able to tell though.
"So what's this meditation thing supposed to do?" asked Jounouchi. And why were they in a specially protected area that was normally used for heavy spell damage?
He had known about having magic, but he never thought he'd be able to learn how to use it. Suddenly all the hell training he had to go through wasn't so bad after they started him on the other sort of training.
"It seems your continued proximity to Yugi has had unexpected benefits. Specifically you've awakened a very rare and powerful ability known as shadow magic," instructed Lotus. She was wearing the female Medjai uniform, as it was easy to move in and made blending in with the tribes easier.
Marik clarified it for him, as he still had his own trouble using it.
"If you learn to meditate properly you can summon your spirit beast that can help you defend against the nut jobs that will come for Yugi eventually. Every person had their own unique Ka beast that is a reflection of their true selves, or as close as it can get. Often times it takes the form of their 'deck master' or the monster that carries their duelist deck against strong opponents," said Marik.
"You mean that card game Duel Monsters?" said Jounouchi highly confused. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"For starters, that 'card game' is based off the same principles as the shadow mage's most protected spells and enchantments. Pegasus got the idea directly from one of the few people who know how to use shadow magic even though the majority of it was sealed," said Lotus flatly. "The monster cards were originally stone tablets or incorporeal manifestations of a person's spirit beast. The spells and trap cards however were more of a hybrid of shadow magic and normal magic made manifest."
"What's an incorp..." started Jounouchi.
"Incorporeal manifestation. Basically a ghost beast that had no actual substance beyond that of a really pissed off ghost," said Marik.
"Why did she use such big words then?" complained Jounouchi.
"Because she can and because she's being a troll," said Marik.
He narrowly dodged the heavy book that almost hit him on the head for that comment.
"Did you say something Marik?" she said sweetly.
"You must have heard the wind," said Marik quickly.