Chapter 13: Turning Point
The months passed and fall came to Astraea Island. Jaden was no closer to finding the Wicked Gods, even with the help of Chikaru and her friends. He was becoming a bit more frustrated. Not that his time on the island wasn’t enjoyable. He had after all made a few friends. Jaden felt that he was running out of time, however. Banner’s warning about the Wicked Gods throwing the world into chaos weighed heavily on his mind.
The island had become a buzz with activity in the recent months. For one thing, the three schools had just finished holding a play that was traditionally held for an annual drama festival on the island. Jaden found it a little odd that schools that were devoted to dueling would have a drama festival, but after spending so much time on the island, Jaden had gotten used to such occurrences. The play that was performed was an adaptation of Carmen, which Tamao herself had written. Shizuma and Nagisa had ended up with the lead roles. Jaden was quite impressed with the performance. He had no idea that Shizuma and Nagisa were such good actors.
The other reason why the students on the island were so active was because the Etoile Tournament was fast approaching. Some of the students were helping with the preparations, while others were gossiping about who they thought was going to win. Amane was still the current favorite, but she had yet to enter. One particular afternoon, Jaden was strolling by Miator, when he saw Nagisa and Tamao outside talking.
“Hey girls.” Jaden greeted as he walked up to the two girls.
“Hi Jaden.” Nagisa greeted back in her usual enthusiastic manner. “What brings you here?”
“I was just passing through.” Jaden answered. “What have you two been talking about?”
“Well, we were starting to talk about the Etoile Tournament.” Nagisa replied. “We were kind of wondering if Amane would actually enter.”
“The bigger question is who Amane’s partner would be if she did enter?” Tamao added.
“Partner?” Nagisa and Jaden asked in unison.
“Oh, didn’t you two know? The Etoile Tournament is a tag duel competition.” Tamao replied. “Both partners have to be from the same school, and the team that wins becomes Etoile.”
Jaden suddenly remembered something that Amane had said to him just before their last duel. She said that one of the reasons why she didn’t want to enter the tournament was because she didn’t want to be tied down with a partner.
“But Shizuma is the only Etoile.” Nagisa observed. “If there are supposed to be two Etoile, what happened to the other one?”
“…The other Etoile died.” Tamao answered a bit hesitantly. Both Jaden and Nagisa were shocked by what Tamao had told them.
“What happened to her?” Nagisa asked.
“I don’t know. It happened the year before I started coming to Miator.” Tamao answered. Suddenly the bell rang. “Oh, time for our last class Nagisa. See you later Jaden.”
“Yeah, later.” Jaden replied, and with that the two girls went into the building. Jaden pondered what Tamao had told him and Nagisa about Shizuma’s dead partner. It did seem to explain a few things about the mysterious Etoile, but he wanted to know more, so he decided to ask someone who he thought might know more of the story.
* * *
Inside Miator, another meeting between the three student council presidents had ended. Chikaru was just leaving the meeting room. It was a little harder than usual because she had to walk around on crutches. She had injured herself just before the play, and Nagisa had to take her place in the roll of Carmen. As soon as Chikaru left the room, she found someone outside waiting for her.
“Oh, Jaden! This is a pleasant surprise.” Chikaru greeted with her usual warm smile.
“Hi Chikaru.” Jaden greeted back. “I came here to ask you about something.”
“What about?” Chikaru asked.
“I just found out from Tamao that the Etoile Tournament is a tag duel competition.” Jaden answered. “I also found out that Shizuma’s partner in the tournament died. I was wondering if you knew anything about it.”
“Why do you want to know about that?” Chikaru asked.
“There’s something about Shizuma that’s been bugging me for awhile.” Jaden answered. “I think that maybe if I find out about this partner, it’ll clear up some things.”
“Well, I do know a little about Shizuma’s partner.” Chikaru replied. “Her name was Kaori Sakuragi. I didn’t know her too well, but she died not too long after she and Shizuma became Etoile.”
“What happened to her?” Jaden asked.
“She had some kind of disease that proved to be fatal.” Chikaru answered a bit sadly. “It was a big shock to everyone. C’mon, there’s something I think you should see.”
“Where are we going?” Jaden asked as he followed Chikaru.
“To Miator’s library.” Chikaru answered. “There’s something there that might answer some more of your questions.”
A few minutes later, Jaden and Chikaru were in Miator’s library. Jaden was waiting at one of the tables when Chikaru finally came back with a large book.
“I could’ve gotten that for you.” Jaden told Chikaru as she sat down.
“Oh it was no trouble.” Chikaru responded as she opened the book to a certain page. “Here’s what I wanted you to see.”
Jaden looked at the page that Chikaru presented to him. It had a picture of two girls standing in the church on the island. The picture looked like the girls were just awarded something. One of the girls in the picture was Shizuma, who was wearing an elegant red dress. The girls standing next to Shizuma was shorter and had pale skin and short black hair. A large pink bow was on the back of the shorter girls head, and she was waering a gold dress that was just as elegant as Shizuma’s. Jaden noticed that the two girls in the photo were holding hands.
“This is Shizuma and Kaori just after they won the Etoile Tournament.” Chikaru explained. “As I recall, they’re victory was quite a surprise to everyone.”
Jaden’s eyes wandered down to the bottom of the page. There was a line that told Jaden what kind of decks that Shizuma and Kaori both used. Apparently, Kaori used a Fairy deck. That didn’t surprise Jaden since that was the type of deck that Shizuma had used against him, but then he read what the book said that she used.
“Shizuma used an Elemental Hero deck?” a surprised Jaden asked.
“Oh that’s right. I’d almost forgotten about that.” Chikaru answered. “After they both won the tournament, neither of them dueled very much. In fact, Shizuma didn’t duel again until the night you came to the island.”
Jaden looked thoughtfully at the picture for a moment. He found that it was disappointing that Shizuma didn’t use her Elemental Hero deck against him that night when she dueled him. A Hero against Hero duel would’ve been really fun. One thing was clear to Jaden though, Shizuma was obviously using Kaori’s deck that night.
“Well, I have a few things to get done. Please take that book to the reference desk when you’re done.” Chikaru said as she got up to leave. “See you at the next God Hunter Club meeting.”
Jaden waved at Chikaru as she left, then turned his attention back to the book.
‘Shizuma and Kaori must’ve been really good friends.’ Jaden thought to himself.
“I’d say that they were more than just friends.” Yubel said as she suddenly appeared.
“You think they were in love?” Jaden asked the Duel Monster with a whisper. Yubel nodded.
“I also think that Shizuma hasn’t gotten over Kaori’s death.” Yubel added. “Look at the melancholy way that she acts. She didn’t even try to beat you in that duel, and she even told you herself that she’s lost passion for a lot of things in life. It’s like she’s stopped living.”
“…I’m guessing that there isn’t anything we can do to help her, right?” Jaden asked sadly. Yubel shook her head.
“The only person who might be able to help Shizuma is Nagisa.” Yubel answered. “Though there is a chance that Nagisa will only end up getting hurt.”
“What do you mean?” Jaden asked.
“Well, Shizuma obviously has feelings for Nagisa.” Yubel began. “If she actually is in love with Nagisa, she’ll have a reason to start living again. However, if Shizuma is only using Nagisa to try and fill the void left in her heart by Kaori, than Nagisa’s own heart will only get broken.”
“It’s that serious?” Jaden asked sounding more concerned. Yubel nodded.
“Shizuma and Nagisa’s relationship has reached a turning point.” Yubel continued. “It’ll either become something more, or end in heartache. Now that Nagisa knows about Shizuma’s dead partner, it’s only a matter of time before their relationship changes.”
Jaden reflected on what Yubel had told him. She was right; there was nothing that he could do to help the situation. Not that it was really any of his business anyway. All he could do was wait and hope for the best.
* * *
Meanwhile, Nagisa was out by the lake, thinking about what she heard from Tamao. For the past two months, Nagisa and Shizuma had gotten a bit closer, but there were still a few things that Nagisa still didn’t know about her. One of them was this dead partner that Shizuma had, and it was a secret that really seemed to trouble Nagisa. Who was this dead girl, and just what was she to Shizuma? Nagisa needed to know the answers to those questions.
One thing was clear to Nagisa though. She did truly love Shizuma. It took her awhile to figure it out, but there was no question about what she felt, it was love. After all, who wouldn’t be able to fall in love with someone as beautiful, smart, and elegant as Shizuma? Nagisa didn’t want any more secrets between her and Shizuma though. She wanted to know everything about Shizuma. Nagisa tried looking for Shizuma earlier, she wasn’t there. So Nagisa decided to wait by the only other place she knew Shizuma would be, out by the lake. At long last, Shizuma finally showed up. The silver haired beauty stood starring at the lake.
“Shizuma!” Nagisa called out as she rushed over to her potential girlfriend. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Is something wrong?” Shizuma asked in a concerned tone.
“…There’s something I need to know.” Nagisa began nervously. “Earlier, Tamao told me about the Etoile who died. I want to know who she was… and what she meant to you.”
A shocked expression appeared momentarily on Shizuma’s face before being replaced by a pair of the saddest eyes that Nagisa had ever seen.
“…I suppose it’s time you know about that.” Shizuma finally said. “I won’t tell you here though. I want to tell this weekend at my villa here on the island.”
Nagisa looked at the serious expression on Shizuma’s face. There was no way that she could turn down Shizuma’s invitation. Nagisa nodded as a sign that she accepted.
“We’ll leave on Saturday at noon.” Shizuma told the redhead before kissing her forehead. “I’ll pick you up outside of the dorms.”
With those words, Shizuma left. Nagisa turned to look at the lake. Never before had she felt as anxious as she did at that moment.
* * *
Later that night, Shizuma was in the empty room in the Strawberry Dorms that she often visited. The room belonged to Kaori when she was alive, and over time it had become a shrine to her. The door to the room was usually locked, and only Shizuma and Miyuki had the key. So Shizuma knew exactly whom it was when the door suddenly opened.
“You’ve finally come Miyuki.” Shizuma greeted, not once turning away from the window.
“What is it you wanted to see me about?” Miyuki asked with her usual stern expression.
“I need the key to the villa.” Shizuma answered, surprising Miyuki.
“You aren’t doing what I think you’re going to do?” Miyuki asked in a slightly worried tone.
“I’m taking Nagisa up there for the weekend.” Shizuma replied, finally turning to face Miyuki. “It’s time that I told her everything.”
“You know how I feel about you getting too close to Nagisa.” Miyuki said disapprovingly.
“You worried about me getting hurt again?” Shizuma asked.
“It’s not you getting hurt that I’m worried about.” Miyuki answered as she looked down at the ground. “It’s Nagisa that I’m worried about.”
“Why are you worried about her?” Shizuma asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Are you really in love with Nagisa, or are you just using her to take the place of Kaori?” Miyuki asked, causing Shizuma to pause. After a moment, Shizuma began to walk towards Miyuki.
“I’m not sure.” Shizuma finally answered. “All I know is that I have feelings for Nagisa. It’s time for me to move on and put the past behind me.”
Shizuma started to undo the top buttons of Miyuki’s uniform, revealing a large metal key around Miyuki’s neck. Shizuma took the key from Miyuki.
“There’s no way that I can talk you out of this, is there?” Miyuki asked sadly.
“Since when have you been able to talk me out of anything?” Shizuma asked back with a half smile.
“I guess I’ll be going than.” Miyuki said as she buttoned her uniform back up and left the room. Shizuma was once again left alone with her thoughts.
* * *
Later that night, in the secluded house on the outermost grounds of Miator, the mystery man who was seeking the Wicked Gods was once again admiring The Wicked Eraser, along with another card that he had.
‘It’s only a matter of time.’ The man thought to himself. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of his young female assistant.
“What brings you here at this late hour?” the man asked as he put down his cards.
“We need a quicker way to find the cards.” The mystery girl answered.
“Are you still worried about Jaden Yuki finding the cards first?” asked the mysterious villain.
“That’s part of it.” His henchwoman answered. “It’s just that something’s come up. We need the cards sooner than later. If we don’t, my own plans might be ruined.”
“Well I’m afraid that isn’t much we can do.” The mystery man responded. “We must wait for the Wicked Gods to reveal themselves.”
“I still don’t know what you mean by that.” The henchwoman replied in a somewhat impatient tone.
“I suppose it’s time I explain.” The mystery man said with a sigh. “I’ve mentioned to you before that the Wicked Gods want to be found, but they don’t want to be found by just anyone. They want someone with the right qualities.”
“Qualities?” the henchwoman asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Each of the three Wicked Gods embodies three different traits,” the mystery man explained, “cunning, ruthlessness, and wrath. The cards want to be wielded by duelists who have the capacity for those qualities. Ms. Chikaru for example has the capacity for great cunning, which is why The Wicked Eraser chose her as its wielder.”
“Do you have all of these qualities?” the henchwoman asked.
“Well you know that I am a cunning individual my dear,” the mystery man continued, “and I am ruthless in both dueling, and carrying out my plans. As for wrath, well… you know how I feel about Yugi Muto.”
“What about Jaden Yuki, doesn’t he have these qualities?” the henchwoman asked. At this question, the mystery man chuckled.
“I’ve done a little research on our Mr. Yuki.” The mysterious villain answered. “He’s obviously a powerful duelist, but from what I’ve found out about him, I doubt that he has the qualities that the Wicked Gods are looking for. He doesn’t seem all that cunning or ruthless, and I don’t really think that he has anything to be wrathful about.”
“Well if you have these ‘qualities’ that the cards are looking for, why don’t you go out and look for the cards yourself?” the henchwoman demanded. The mystery man sighed.
“We’ve been through this before my dear.” The man said as he got up from his chair and stepped into the light being produced by the lit fireplace in the room, revealing his features. He had long light-green hair and pale-green eyes. The man was wearing buttoned up a black leather coat and white pants. “This isn’t an island that I can walk around on unnoticed. If I’m discovered, my plans will be ruined, and neither of us will get what we want.”
“So you want me to be your scout.” The henchwoman cut in. Her green haired master nodded.
“You can look for the cards without being noticed.” The mystery man continued. “If you find the resting places where the cards are hidden, you can lead me there and I can get the cards myself. However, if the cards have already been found, than it’s your job to defeat the wielder and bring the card to me. Although with Jaden Yuki on the island, that part might be unnecessary.”
“It’s just more urgent now that we find the cards.” The henchwoman said sounding a little frustrated.
“You must be patient.” The green haired man said with a reassuring smile as he put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “The cards will reveal themselves soon. Just keep your eye open for them.”
“As you wish Mr. Tenma.” The henchwoman replied.
* * *
Saturday finally came, and Nagisa was anxiously waiting out in front of the Strawberry Dorms for Shizuma. Never before had Nagisa felt so nervous. Spending the night at Shizuma’s villa was something that Nagisa was both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Not only was Nagisa going to be spending a night alone with Shizuma, but she was also going to learn the truth about Shizuma’s dead Etoile partner, and that was what Nagisa was dreading most. Nagisa was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn’t notice Jaden walking up to her.
“Hey Nagisa.” Jaden greeted, causing the redhead to flinch and cry out a bit.
“Oh, hi Jaden.” The startled Nagisa greeted back with a nervous smile as she caught her breath.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. What are you doing out here?” Jaden asked.
“I’m waiting for Shizuma to pick me up.” Nagisa answered. “I’m spending the night at her villa here on the island.”
“I see…” Jaden replied with a slightly worried expression that Nagisa didn’t notice. If Yubel was right about Shizuma and Nagisa’s relationship, Jaden could guess what was going to come of this trip to the villa. It would either end really well or very badly.
Suddenly a long black limo pulled up in front of the school. The back door opened and both Jaden and Nagisa were very surprised to see Shizuma get out. Shizuma glanced over and noticed Jaden.
“I’m a little surprised to see you here Jaden.” Shizuma said to the wandering duelist. “Come to see Nagisa off?”
“I guess so.” Jaden replied, still a bit surprised by Shizuma’s entrance. “Um, is that your limo?”
“Why yes it is.” Shizuma answered with a chuckle. The silver haired girl turned her attention back to Nagisa. “Well Nagisa, we should get going. The limo will take us part of the way there.”
Nagisa nodded and started walking toward the waiting vehicle.
“One more thing.” Shizuma added, causing Nagisa to stop and look at the silver haired beauty. “I want you to hold onto this for me.”
Shizuma pulled a large metal key on a chain out of her pocket and put it around Nagisa’s neck.
“Now let’s go.” Shizuma commanded. Nagisa nodded and got into the limo. Shizuma followed her in, closing the door behind her. As soon as both girls were inside, the limo drove off.
“So they’re finally gone.” A voice suddenly said. Jaden turned around and saw that it was Tamao, standing at the top of the steps to the doorway.
“Yeah, why didn’t you see Nagisa off?” Jaden asked, though he had a feeling what the reason was.
“I just couldn’t. Don’t ask me why.” Tamao answered with a sad expression. The blue haired girl suddenly looked up at the sky. “It looks like a storm is coming.”
Jaden looked up and saw that there were storm clouds approaching.
“Yeah, I guess there is.” Jaden replied, thinking that there was more than one kind of storm approaching.
* * *
Later that night at Shizuma’s small but magnificent two-story villa, a storm raged outside. It began to rain while Shizuma and Nagisa were out walking towards the villa. They both had to run to get to the door. After showering and changing into some robes, Shizuma and Nagisa sat in the main room by a lit fireplace sipping tea. When both girls finished, Shizuma put down her cup and saucer and looked at Nagisa serious expression.
“You asked me about my Etoile partner, and it’s time that I finally told you about her.” Shizuma began. “Her name was Kaori Sakuragi, and she was my first love.”
Shizuma’s words greatly shocked Nagisa. The redhead knew that Shizuma had some sort of relationship with this girl, but she had no idea that it was something so significant.
“She was a kind and gentle girl.” Shizuma continued. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw her, at least I think it was love. To this day I’m not quite certain just what love is, but whatever it was that Kaori and I had, it was wonderful. The happiest days in my life were the days that I spent with her.”
“…What happened to her?” Nagisa asked hesitantly. Shizuma’s expression saddened at the question.
“Kaori had been sick since the day I met her.” Shizuma answered. “Her disease slowly worsened as time went on. She died a few months after we won the Etoile Tournament. …Come to think of it Nagisa, you’re about the same age that Kaori would be today.”
Nagisa suddenly felt a little uncomfortable being compared to Kaori. She tried to put the feeling out of her mind though.
“My world lost all color when Kaori died.” Shizuma continued. “Everything in my life became meaningless. That changed when I met you though Nagisa. I feel like I can be my true self with you.”
Nagisa didn’t quite know how to react. It seemed to her like Shizuma was saying that she loved her, but she couldn’t escape the feeling that Shizuma was only using her to replace Kaori. Shizuma glanced over at the clock on the wall. A small smile was on her face.
“It’s late, we should get to bed.” Shizuma said as she took Nagisa’s hand.
Shizuma led Nagisa up the stairs to a room. It was a small room, but very neat and well furnished. Nagisa noticed a picture frame on one of the tables that was turned facedown. It didn’t take much thought for Nagisa to figure out who’s picture it was, but she tried to ignore it and pretend it was nothing.
“This was Kaori’s room when she stayed here.” Shizuma explained. “Though there were a few nights when we shared it.”
Nagisa blushed a little when she realized what Shizuma had implied. Shizuma walked over to a small dresser in the room and pulled what looked like pajamas out of one of the drawers.
“These belonged to Kaori.” Shizuma explained as she handed the clothing to Nagisa. “I’m sure that they’ll fit you.”
Just as Nagisa was about to take the clothing from Shizuma, lightning flashed outside the window. In that instant, Shizuma saw Kaori in place of where Nagisa was standing. Shizuma broke down and fell to her knees, holding onto Nagisa as she began sobbing.
“Kaori…” Shizuma called out tearfully. “Kaori…”
It was at that moment that Nagisa felt as if she’d been shot through the heart. She could deny it no longer. Shizuma didn’t love Nagisa for who she was. She was only using her as a replacement for Kaori.
“I’m no good…” Nagisa suddenly said as tears began to form in her eyes. She pushed Shizuma off of her and ran out of the room. Shizuma got to her feet and looked at the door, quietly calling out Nagisa’s name as another tear ran down her face.
Outside Nagisa was running as fast as she could in the pouring rain as fast as she could. She finally stopped to catch her breath. Shizuma had followed Nagisa out and finally caught up with her.
“Nagisa, come back inside!” Shizuma called out. “You’ll get sick if you stay out here!”
“Go away!” Nagisa shot back. “It hurts to be near you right now! I love you so much Shizuma, but we both know that you don’t love me! You’re just using me to replace Kaori!”
“Nagisa I…” Shizuma began, but she couldn’t finish. Nagisa ran off again. At first, Shizuma started to go after her, but stopped when she realized that Nagisa was right. Shizuma was using her to fill the void that was left by Kaori, to try and pretend that Nagisa was Kaori. The silver haired girl gave back and headed back towards the house.
* * *
Morning came and the sun once again shined on Astraea Island. Jaden was once again passing by the Strawberry Dorms, when he suddenly saw a familiar redhead in a pink rode walking towards the building. It looked to Jaden like Nagisa was walking all night. Nagisa got as far as the gate in front of the dorms when she suddenly collapsed. Jaden was quick enough to catch her though. He looked at Nagisa’s face and saw that she had been crying. It didn’t take much for Jaden to realize that the trip to Shizuma’s villa had ended badly