Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Cm (Op. 10)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will continue analyzing Beethoven sonatas in blogs but I will no longer make YouTube videos on the subject as it takes way too much time. I have also struggled with some time to describe melodic line and harmony changes without being tedious, sounding like I’m merely describing every little thing in the music, and making YouTube videos does not help. I should hopefully do better. – I should still learn to condense this a bit. Sonata form movements are the hardest. It should only have 4 paragraphs.

The Cm sonata (Op. 10) is Beethoven’s first published piano sonata to have only three movements instead of four. Beethoven wrote the first four sonatas to sound like symphonies through many different means; he wrote them in four movements, wrote each movement to be large to allow subjects much space to develop, and often writes for orchestral parts such as clarinet parts in the Fm sonata (Op. 1) and horn parts in the Eb sonata (Op. 7).

Now Beethoven tries something different and writes a more typical sonata; with only three movements and with no obvious orchestral parts. Still, Beethoven develops his subjects and follows his ideas in a clear, forceful, concise way, in fact even more so in this sonata. It is useful to see the striking differences between this Cm sonata and the Fm sonata (Op. 2) Beethoven wrote a while back as both are dark and impassioned music but approached in very different ways.

The way Beethoven ends this sonata is also important; a fizzling out to a quiet finish rather than slamming thick chords at the end. Indeed Beethoven ends many future sonatas in this way as an alternate way to finishing a piece of music and fulfilling the journey back to the home key.

Allegro molto e con brio

The first movement is in sonata form and is based on the Mannheim rocket; an intense phrase where notes rise in a broken chord to a high register. The main subject in Cm is short but complex, broken into three parts. In the first part Beethoven forces two sharply contrasting colors together; a thundering Mannheim rocket played in dotted notes to make it even more intense followed by a soft sighing motif. In the second part Beethoven builds off a descending scale, starting at a high G (the dominant note), and repeats it, each new phrase more intense, until he hangs at a low G (again the dominant note). In the third part, Beethoven suddenly breaks away into new material again; right hand arpeggios resolving in Cm. Beethoven consistently plays Cm and Bd (diminished) chords the entire time, using Bd as a darker counterpart to G7. He uses only two chords for most of the main subject but he does much with them.

The transition is simply the Mannheim rocket again, using G (again) as the high note. Beethoven simply uses Cm and G the entire time and simply decides to break it off after he resolves in Cm. The main subject and transition here are very different from their counterparts in the Fm sonata (Op. 2). The Fm sonata main subject is far simpler as it slowly moves from piano to sforzando using a simple Mannheim rocket the entire time. The Fm sonata transition, by contrast, is complex as Beethoven makes a big deal modulating to Ab, using Dba (augmented) and Bbm to spice things up. But in this Cm sonata, it is quick and simple. Beethoven is fine jumping from Cm right to Eb (the mediant).

The subordinate subject is based on the submediant; the first phrase starts in Eb7, the second in C7, the third in Ab7. A simple descending base makes up the backbone while the soprano and alto parts fill the harmony in. From now on Beethoven stays in Eb, which is pretty typical for classical sonata form. The second subordinate subject is a rising arpeggio with an Alberti base underneath, harmonies simple Eb-Bb7. He quickly gets more interesting with a chromatic melody, using Ad and Aa harmonies. He thunders with the Mannheim rocket again for a while so he can lead us to the closing subject, but he uses Ebd and Cd7 instead of Bb. The closing subject itself is built on the small sighing motif we saw way back in the main subject to slowly fall to a low Eb, while Beethoven uses some Cm7 and Gm7. The purpose is to darken the Eb closing theme a bit and connect it to the main theme in Cm, to show how close we are to dark and minor keys.

Beethoven builds the development with two cores, both based on the less striking melodies in the exposition. He elevates those melodies by playing them in octaves in a very singing manner. But first he needs to make a bridge to lead you to the first core; and he does this with the Mannheim rocket subject in C (submediant leap from Eb), and he uses it like he did with the transition by cutting it off after he resolves. The first core in Fm is based off the filler melody of the first subordinate subject underscored by an Alberti base. The second core in Bbm is based off the second subordinate subject while the base is taken from the closing subject. The retransition is based off the sighing motif but he strings many motifs together to make a long melodic descent all the way from a high G (dominant) to middle C (tonic). Meanwhile, he keeps the base at G to emphasize a V-I return to the main subject. But do notice how many different harmonies Beethoven plays throughout; it’s anything but a boring V-I for 11 measures.

The main subject is just as before and Beethoven skips a transition altogether, making the journey even more streamlined. The subordinate subject comes right after, now in Db7 (IIb7 of Cm), and he breaks his descent by submediant theme to quickly move to Cm. However, do note how he frequently plays C also, the mutation of Cm to make the harmonies more interesting. But the quick resolution to Cm is a ruse. The second subordinate subject is in F instead (mediant of Db) then quickly goes to Fm (the subdominant of Cm). This is important as the subdominant is usually emphasized in a recapitulation but Beethoven delays for a while to keep the listener guessing. The closing subject neatly wraps it all up in Cm.

Adagio molto

The second slow movement is in sonata form without development but with a coda with a variation of the main subject. The main subject is in Ab and is played twice; the first in its “base” form and the second as a variation where the base becomes arpeggios and repeating 16th notes. The subject is based on a rising and falling third, the melody rises to a climax in Db (the subdominant) before making a long fall back to Ab. The transition is a striking contrast to the lyrical subject; a loud drop by two octaves. The harmonies sometimes blur together in the little sighing motifs and, while F7 is a striking submediant leap from Ab, the harmonies are the usual ones around Cm.

The subordinate subject in Eb is made of two different parts. The first part; we have a rising 3rd motif similar to the main subject, and it also peaks at a subdominant note (Ab in this case). The virtuoso 64th note arpeggios in Bb9 is a development of the rising 3rd. The second part; a long rising scale from G to Eb on dotted notes. This would be boring in itself but Beethoven uses Eba, Dd7, and Ad7 to make chromatic use of it. The variation that follows peaks in the harmony of Cb7, the tension highest in a distant key of Eb. The retransition is based on the subordinate subject and is in Eb, preparing to return to Ab.

The main subject has little change in it except some variation in the base, first dotted notes and later arpeggio triplets. The transition has an extra phrase; sighing motifs clumped together to make a chromatic descent to Db. Beethoven uses many distant keys such as Fb, Gbm, and Fhd7 (half diminished); a striking alternate way to going to the dominant. The usual method is F-Bb-Eb or Dm-Bb-Eb, but Beethoven plays odd F chords before going to Bb-Eb.

The subordinate subject and retransition are almost verbatim similar as before except now in Ab. The coda is a variation of the main subject, now in cantabile as we have a viola part in the middle made of syncopated notes. The coda has no dramatic peaks but simply slowly falls down the Ab scale: from Eb5 to Ab4, from Ab4 to Ab3.

Prestissimo

The finale is in sonata form but is very brief, much like rondos of classical sonatas, a breezy finish. Still, it has some weight. The main subject is based on a rising chord, this case Cm, but the melody dramatically peaks in dissonant F while the harmony is F#d7. The second time around Beethoven climbs up the G scale and peaks at F again while the harmony is in Fm. Then the rhythm intensifies to 16th notes so Beethoven can rush down to G (dominant) with flair. There is no transition. A jump from G to Eb happens instead. Notice how the melodic line of this main theme climaxes on a subdominant note, not too unlike the main theme from the last movement, while also highlighting G like in the first movement. The harmonies matter too; Beethoven sometimes mutates Cm to C, while he uses the F#d and Bd chords to lead to G and Cm.

The subordinate subject is based on a rising and falling 3rd with a distant last note; it reaches a sudden climax in Ab (subdominant). At first Beethoven falls to Bb into what seems a quiet finish but suddenly rises to Eb at the last moment; a creative way to avoid a typical resolution. The closing theme uses the turn motif of the main subject over different registers, and it peaks at Ab (again subdominant) before resolving to Eb. Beethoven then resorts to more distant harmonies; Ed and Bd, diminished versions of the tonic and dominant, and frequently uses Fm and Cm too. He does all this to make the ear less certain it is in Eb, making Cm stronger. He also drops a sudden Cb7; instead of going from Bb to Eb to goes from Bb to its Neapolitan (IIb7/V).

We only have a small development of the main subject motif; though in Eb it uses Bd, Dd, and Bb, all related by a 3rd. Beethoven also briefly uses C7 to again disrupt the expected Cm and he develops the melodic line by having it rise to a very high F (subdominant of Cm). The main subject makes little change while the subordinate subject is in C (mutation of Cm), except with a chord progression from Dm-D7-G. The closing theme is different, starting with the main subject motif rather than a tremolo. The next part has the same chord structure as before except tailored around Cm; this includes C#d leading G and the sudden drop now in Ab7. The closing theme halts, holds the tension on suspended Ab7, withholding the ending.

We enter a brief coda based on the subordinate subject in Db, the music suspended in a slow calando. It’s mostly V7-I except for a brief Ebm-Eb-Ab (chromatic base) and how the colando suspends in Ad7. Then, an abrupt eruption as the music resumes its normal tempo, but rather than race to the finish it fizzles out, slowly moving from Ab to C. Beethoven does this by pretending the C is just Cm and playing the usual nexus of neighboring chords. The melodic line, back in the main subject motif, starts at a high Eh note but falls down the C chord to lowest C on Beethoven’s pianoforte. The lowest range of the pianoforte back then was F1.

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Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Eb (Op. 7)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As interesting as it is to analyze Beethoven’s sonatas this may be my last analysis. Even if I did analyze each sonata for my benefit as a composer I would still need to analyze symphonies, string quartets, and works from other composers. I would never get to write anything of my own ever again! The best path to take now is to work on my ear training, sight reading, and piano playing. Then I can easily analyze any music I listen to.

The Op. 7 Eb sonata is the young Beethoven’s most massive piano piece; only the Hammerklavier sonata will surpass it in size. Beethoven seems to have truly struggled to take his music to the next level by putting more stuff into the sonata; longer subjects, denser harmonies, more detours to prolong the music before resolving it. The sonata is truly a great work and while the score is cumbersome to look at the music itself is smooth, leniently winding down its way like a river into the sea.

Of his first sonatas, like mini-symphonies, this one is the most like a symphony of them all in scope, grandeur, and orchestral-like score for the piano. His later sonatas feel less like symphonies not because they are lesser works but because they don’t have the symphony’s four-movement structure or formal and harmonic progression you hear in symphonies. On the contrary, the later piano sonatas are greater works as Beethoven strives more for depth and less to impress as time goes on, likewise making the sonatas more connected as he outgrows the stilted formula of a four-movement sonata.

Form of Eb (Op. 7)

0:00 – The first movement, in sonata form, is famous for its horn calls and gently rising and falling triplets, but don’t think Beethoven uses 6/8 time only for triplets, he creates all sorts of different rhythms. Beethoven uses a false closing theme to mislead the audience into thinking the movement is over only to float around in many different chords, all this for a striking effect. Beethoven uses diminished chords and the chords they lead to in the transition more densely than he had ever before.

8:23 – The second movement is a complicated sonata-rondo form where the main subject refrains like the chorus part of a pop song yet the other rondo parts behave like sections of sonata form; transitions, subordinate subjects, development sections, and so on. Beethoven keeps putting turning the main subject this way and that as he gives it different embellishments, which he contrasts with a stark and gloomy subordinate subject in Gm.

15:24 – The third movement is a gentle minuet based on the Eb chord and a cadence based on chords as well. Beethoven develops the minuet subject in Ed7, the Neapolitan of Eb, assumes a false reprise, and trails away. The pause he takes before he resumes is a musical joke as if he forgot the script and doesn’t know how to get back. The trio is a small tempest in Ebm where triplets are once more used, this time with vigor and angst. Again, Beethoven avoids convention as he modulates from Ebm to Bbm instead of Bb and begins the development on that same key.

21:24 – The fourth movement is the greatest in emotion and harmonic density. The subject itself uses such blurred harmonies and changes them so often it was a nightmare for me to analyze; he pulls this off by using four voices while using the base to constantly hum away in 16th notes. Many parts of the rondo are like this, with gentle singing melodies underscored by blurred and complicated harmonies, they create a very gentle and surreal feeling. Then Beethoven jolts you with a terrible beast to contrast the beauty, a creature made of strong chords and clear minor harmonies. But Beethoven tames his beast, as he often does, and rewards beauty with the laurel; in the coda the terrible beast transforms into a sweet melody to bid you goodbye, the most beautiful passage Beethoven ever wrote up to this time

Beethoven’s Style

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At this moment I have a strong grasp of Beethoven’s personal style with harmonies and overall music structure, at least the style of early Beethoven. He tries very hard to avoid the cliché I-IV-V harmonies in classical music to the point where it almost feels forced at times. He is fond of taking you to remote keys using otherwise ordinary intervals and builds many a harmonic structure on the 3rd interval. The whole idea is to make the music dense and weighty while also expanding the overall structure of the peace by delaying IV-V-I cadences in creative ways.

Examples:
– The 5th interval normally takes you to V, the 4th to IV, but Beethoven may take you to v and iv instead, the minor versions of those keys. C to Gm is one example.

– The 3rd interval normally takes you to iii or vi, which usually comes before a IV or V and then I. Beethoven takes you to a major or a minor version of those keys that is very remote. He will go from Eb to G, or C to Ab. He may even do something crazier like take you from B to Abm.

– The whole step (M2nd interval) usually takes you to ii, which resolves into IV or V and then I. Beethoven instead takes you to II or VIIb such as C to D or C to Bb.

– The half step (m2nd interval) is often used to go to the Neopolitan (IIb) before going to IV or V then I. Beethoven does that but he also likes going down a half step to a remote harmony, such as Eb to D.

– Beethoven is fond of using diminished chords and the leading tone (especially a chromatic base) to lead to a chord in an interesting way, even if that chord is common in a certain key, like C to F#d to G. He will sometimes pull a twist where the diminished chord leads to the dominant of its intended target, like C to F#d to D. During these times he may leap by a tritone, the Devil’s interval.

– Beethoven sometimes likes to mutate a chord into many different forms; such as D to Da or D7a or Dd to Dm. In this sonata he sometimes goes from Dm to Eb instead of Dd to Eb. Sometimes he will simply he happy to turn a major to a minor chord and back again, something other composers like Schubert did well. Sometimes Beethoven will even play a minor version and major version of the harmony at the same time.

– Beethoven will blend two chords together or mismatch the melody and base. This often creates a chord, like one in Eb, which can be read as Ebs4, Eb9, or Eb11. (He is also fond of minor 7 chords.) Beethoven will sometimes delay a melody, usually to keep it in the dominant of a chord, while the base will play the intended chord itself on schedule. Baroque composers often used this technique but at the end of pieces, not in the middle.

– Another trick is to play an ordinary melody yet make the harmonies going with it to be anything but.

When it comes to creating music subjects, Beethoven builds them from small cells based on intervals; in fact he builds the entire piece from these cells. Some composers are painters as Debussy, others are poets as Chopin, others are miniaturists as Scarlatti. Beethoven is an architect and sculptor, and so he builds his music brick by brick, chiseling out the raw stone of his improvised ideas until they are concise, defined, and strong. Beethoven places intervals, counterpoint, and voice leading over typical harmonies more and more as he grows as an artist so by the time he composes the Great Fugue he writes “pure interval music” as Stravinsky described it.

As for melody, Beethoven is usually careful to balance close intervals such as the step with striking leaps up or down the keyboard. He will often create the most lyrical music out of simply going up or down a scale or chord. As for large intervals, he tends to save them to help craft a distinct form to the melody, highlight a key point in the melody, or simply to strike a strong emotion.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 3

Duel 3 – Emergence

People expect sudden breakthroughs, revolutions, and emergences of consciousness to be loud, violent, and obvious to see, but in truth they are born so quietly into this world at moments so mundane you would miss it if you blinked. The violence, fanfare, and flame are merely echoes after the fact the way your thoughts are born of your passions but only dimply echo them. Xiaoyi pondered these thoughts, amusing herself with philosophy, in the bathtub where Gernand her master would soon join her. While the old man readied himself to pluck his favorite peony flower, to crush his favorite butterfly, she turned her thoughts to many years ago when master and student met.

Xiaoyi was twelve and a half years old when she ran away from home, stranding herself on the great mid-West American desert, the highway her lifeline, sometimes hitching a ride on people ready to lend a helping hand to an urchin. Her pale skin was burned red into a blush as it was in Egypt, she remembered. And there she saw Gernand for the first time, in action; the large fat man dragged two boys with his monstrous strength from an old car out into the highway, gripping their heads with large vices for hands. The young men pleaded for their lives, tried appealing to the man’s heart as if he once loved them, but Gernand was cold as ever. They outlived their usefulness in pleasuring him or being worthy students to his cause, so he crushed their skulls as the giant he was. Xiaoyi saw Gernand kill with his monstrous strength, screamed, ran as far away as she could.

She met that fearsome man again on the highway again later that same early June day, during sunset. The girl froze in terror but did not run away this time as he stood in front of her path, sitting still as a little bird in front of a cobra, hoping he would leave her be. He never did; instead he went out to talk to her, and the whole dialogue went as such:

GERNAND: “I know you saw me dispatch my last two students for they were too weak to fulfill the tasks I require them. I am as a farmer and I prefer large, strong trees with deep roots that yield the sweetest fruit, but enough of my obscure metaphors. I, like you, am a drifter of sorts, searching for something but a little lost. I have traveled the world for centuries, believe it or not, going on many libertine adventures to expand my tastes and learn all about mankind and the world. Yet I need a companion, someone to transmit by knowledge to so it may remain immortal should I perish, yet no apprentice is strong enough to keep faithful to my evil principles, and they waver. I tire of them anyway and dispatch them as I see fit.”

XIAOYI: “…”

GERNAND: “I must have frightened you, no doubt; a pity. I see from your shirt you come from Los Angeles, yet why would you leave? It is a fine city with warm sunny days, Hollywood nearby, easy drugs and porn as they are the true trades of the land, anything a spoiled child could want. You want to run away as fast as you can, which I easily understand, but mark my words only I have a gaze penetrating enough to know what you truly want and how you may get it. You want freedom, hence you ran away, but I wonder how that desire pressed itself upon your heart, my little creature.”

XIAOYI: “M-Mama was not well in the head. Shortly after she became pregnant with me she had vivid dreams of a great black demon, the Devil she thought. S-She kept having them after I was born, thought the Devil sired me, not dad, tried to drown me when I was a baby, so dad locked her up. Mama just died in hospital and dad killed himself.”

GERNAND: “I am very sorry to hear that.”

XIAOYI: “Please, Sir, let me go. I am frightened and I don’t understand your riddles. I will never tell anyone what I saw you do to your… b-back there.”

GERNAND: “That concerns me not in the slightest. You want freedom after such a woeful childhood, do you, but do you know what freedom is?”

XIAOYI: “I never want to be in such a bad home anymore, full of pain. I learned from school it means having your rights protected and doing what you want as long as you don’t infringe on their rights and –“

GERNAND: “Wrong! Fools and dupes everywhere prattle freedom but have no idea what it really means, what sacrifices you must make to be a free man! Look around, desert wildflower; you see this wide dessert and setting sun, home to lizards, snakes, and scorpions with no pity for you. Nature is the cruel mistress who rules over all, She alone grinds the cosmic mill, the creatures crushed underneath it doomed to live an endless cycle of raping and killing, these being the true and only principles of living beings.”

XIAOYI: “But what about God?”

GERNAND: “Don’t be an idiot. I know you are too smart to be believe in fairy tales, let alone big for your age, so let me outline the grade school truths for you. God, like all orthodox religions, is a lie created by earthly powers as propaganda to control the minds and hearts of its people, working in tandem with the State to do so. Excuses in believing in gods or afterlives beyond this world are specious at best; you have no way of perceiving either except through mental illness and they are redundant to Nature in the end, who is the only God there is. Of all gods, you can only touch this cruel mistress and thus only Her Divine Laws exist; Power and Pleasure at all costs!”

XIAOYI: “But what of other people and the animals? I wish I stayed home, maybe to become a vet one day to take care of animals?”

GERNAND: “It is only natural that one who loses God flees to his vestiges, humaneness. – How interesting out little chat is! We have moved past two and half centuries of thought already! – We are born in this world utterly alone and in misery; our flesh separates our minds so far apart true understanding of what it is like to be another person cannot be done, and your very life proves that evil rules the world. Every moral in this world, I repeat, every moral is a human invention, created by a ruling class to dominate their subjects, bolstered by their deluded pride, and upheld by centuries of convention, and every moral is man is a dupe taken by one of the three. Quickly looking at cultures around the world you will see that not one virtue or vice exists in the entire globe that is upheld by all peoples. It is natural for living creatures to will for power, to take what they can, to pursue what pleases them. Only then can they have a few trifling pleasures before Nature grinds them to dust under Her millstone.”

XIAOYI: “So freedom to you is only license. Sir, please let me leave. Your speeches are so tedious.”

GERNAND: “Girl, you know nothing of freedom.”

XIAOYI: “I don’t know how to feel. I want to leave you this instant but listening to you somehow makes me feel strong.”

GERNAND: “You want to become powerful, to compensate for a life of powerlessness and frustration, oh yes! I foresee your natural talents emerging already; you will have power greater than the earth’s, a cunning surpassing the worst tyrants, and an evil so great you will ruin man and his children, forever will you be known as his greatest Enemy. I will help you gain this power; become uncivilized, let no restriction bind you, answer to no man but me and you will be the cruel embodiment of Nature herself.”

XIAOYI: “What inspired your prophecy?”

GERNAND: “The Supreme Being that is Nature. I am no prophet but merely a philosopher able to predict the far future by observing natural laws. You may say the two are similar in essence. I say no, and here’s why!”

And Gernand expounded on his philosophy for another hour. Xiaoyi knew a classmate back in Los Angeles who just discovered Atlas Shrugged, and he would read the book aloud whenever not in glass. It’s author was the dullest, most conceited human to have ever lived, hence her prose, and Gernand was almost as bad as she was. Yet despite the decrepit man’s failings the young Xiaoyi was strangely compelled by his doctrines, drawn toward their owner in fascination and revulsion at the same time. She knew there were indeed a few kernels of truth in his creed, however dimply she could perceive them, and she resolved she would learn everything she could, and then, when the time was right, break away and find her freedom.
“I will show you everything.” Gernand beckoned her. “You will learn all the secrets of Nature.”

And that was how Xiaoyi submitted herself to the cruel Gernand, going down and under to find her knowledge, who in turn wasted no time giving his eager pupil her first lesson. He forcefully tore the sunflower from its roots, ripping it apart, and Xiaoyi knew someone by the flesh for the first time.

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Maya pulled an all-nighter rebuilding her deck from the ground up. She completely discarded her old deck, the one that swarmed the field with low ATK high Level Dinosaurs to Xyz Summon all sorts of powerful monsters. It was great, but not enough for the finals, especially not now, and she even suspected that Pegasus created Link Monsters just to make her deck useless. She wondered if every other finalist had the same suspicions.

She built a new deck but it too was a failure. She threw her cards at the wall of her lodging. It was frustrating! She knew what she saw, what she wanted, and was so close to grasping it yet unable to! Her thoughts turned to Sophia; she lusted after every other person, treating love with ridicule as she was too disgusting and evil a person to deserve it, but with Sophia things were different. She felt she could trust her heart for once, the only time in her life, she listened to it. What did she feel to that sweet sunflower? It must be infatuation; she never knew what love was like before and she wasn’t ready to make any wild guesses in that area.

Sometime when her team was in Luxor, Sophia mentioned being in love with a boy, to which Maya scoffed off at first. But Yukio coaxed Sophia on to get to understand her feelings, something Maya would never let him to do her, and Sophia did answer what she thought love was like. She had said, “Love is not a feeling but life itself. It is a doing, not a being. Only it lights the stars.” Maya pretended not to listen to her younger and better peer, but she did.

Maya could indeed relate that description of love; it was passion, specifically the desire to give, to give the creative life force, and being enlarged as that life force erupts out in the greatest show of power and strength. Maya loved when she wrote or played music, she loved when she worked on a story or some other writing while Jolene drew, she loved when she created anything for Sophia. It was limitless, a power that could break past every cruelty and limit of the earth, every weakness of being human, and reach even beyond the stars, greater than the universe itself. She picked up one card, Beatrice Lady of the Eternal, the card where she always thought of Sophia. Now she got ideas! And she started working. This new deck would have deeper strategies, every facet of the deck linking together into a far greater whole, a deck that could touch almost anything. A Beatrice Almighty deck.

Maya looked at you, the audience, directly. “Let this new way of dueling work. Let me evolve Yugioh and go to a higher game.”

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Gernand slid himself into the bathtub with great effort, his total mass nearly crushed Xiaoyi inside it, his body riddled by so many folds his shriveled small penis could never be seen. But there was no want of trying, the old man fancied himself a young and vigorous Don Juan and took his time toiling with Xiaoyi. The old man bit and carved into Xiaoyi’s flesh until blood came out, taking special delight in biting her tits and ass until blood came out, which caused him to eject a few drops of sperm with Xiaoyi’s assistance, then collected the blood into a basin. He darkly muttered an Egyptian chant from millennia ago, causing the blood to whirl upward on its own, assuming a snake-like shape then slithering into Gernand’s mouth. The effects came right after; his pure white hair revived some blond in it, his small watery blue eyes lost some cataract, and his flesh sagged slightly less.

Gernand told Xiaoyi a long time ago that his ritual prolonged his life for a while, provided he cruelly withdrew and drank the blood of one he lusted after while in the whitest heat. The spell itself. Gernand told her, came from the Book Isis, the only spell known after the one that used ninety-nine sacrifices to create the Millennium Items. Gernand, now done with his chores, could relax in his bath with his slave.

Now was the time. Xiaoyi quietly excused herself so Gernand would not notice, returned with a meteorite blade, and drove it straight through Gernand’s chest, bowls, and groin thirteen times each. The old dog woke in a fright, startled but not dead, his fat saved him. He was many times Xiaoyi’s size, able to crush her bones with no effort, but he fled in terror. He tripped out of the bathtub, over the wet floor, out of their private room deep in the Luxor country, his jowls, stomach, and ass cheeks desperately flabbing after him. Xiaoyi calmy walked after him, sure to take her time in witnessing the coward bleed to death with fleeing for his life.

The student soon cornered the master in a deserted alleyway with little effort. The frightened Gernand called forth his Ka to defend himself in a last resort for his safety, an ancient and great but flightless eagle, only for Xiaoyi to smash to bits with her dragon Ka, the damage rupturing Gernand’s internal organs. He lay dying, he glanced up at his student one last time, now towering over him, and cackled while chocking in his own blood. He created the person to embody Nature in all Her caprice, viciousness, and destructive power, but he did not have time to say his thoughts or even appreciate him.

Xiaoyi drove the dagger into him in a white hot fury hundreds of times, her face pale with rage, her lips peeled so far back every ferocious tooth in her wide mouth could be seen, shredding Gernand’s body so much she skinned him and bathed herself wet in his blood.

It was over as quickly as it began, an event surreal even to a seasoned killer as Xiaoyi. She dropped the meteorite dagger in fatigue, not caring about it anymore. She went back to the hotel room, slinking in the bathtub alone, the water inside mixed with her and her former master’s blood. Gernand was dead and she needed to make excuses for his superiors. But now was not the time.

Well, Xiaoyi thought, this is a pretty nice blood bath. Get it? She helped herself with some red wine and turned on the bathroom television to the Yugioh channel. It was time to see which basement-dwelling loser played a children’s card game better than anyone else. She crossed her fingers, hoping Maya would win, as she was the key to all her planning up to this point. Maya had retrieved the Book of Isis. That was certain. Now she needed to keep winning, keep that book in store until the right moment came. Xiaoyi had no idea gambling could be so fun – no wonder it was so addicting! – and though Maya was the dark horse at the races she hoped the dark horse would win for a change.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 2

Duel 2 – Infinite Mirrors

Each finalist saw a white jet with blue stripes cut across to clear blue sky, seemingly coming out of the sun, as if from Heaven itself, and gracefully land on the runway. The jet was so pale and gleaned so brightly under the sun that no finalist could look at it directly before adjusting their eyes. Only one man stepped out of that bird of paradise, Isono; a tall severe man with short, neatly trimmed graying hair and whiskers who somehow managed to wear a suit under such blazing heat, everyone knew him to be Kaiba’s right-hand man. Things were getting serious.

Isono seemed to have access to the airports controls for the finalists heard his grave voice, “Attention please. The Battle City Tournament No. 13 finals have begun. Gate K-13 will currently be boarding with the finalists each team selected. Mathias Blackheart, finalist No. 1, begin boarding! Maximus Clay, finals tournament commentator, also begin boarding!”

Mathias and his comrades grimly heard those words, knowing that the test of the Headmaster’s weighty prophecy was soon to be tested, but nonetheless Mathias stood as tall as he could, as if he wanted his shadow to obscure Maximus and Ivy with his towering shadow, ready to face the challenges ahead. However, Maximus and Ivy rose from their seats to face Mathias from the front, Maximus offered his hand to his brother in arms, “Godspeed. May our choice be wisely made and you be up to the momentous task.” To which Mathias hugged his friends, hiding his umbrage towards his brother, and the two men walked out into the concrete plane beyond leaving Ivy behind.

“Hannibal Davidson, finalist No. 2, begin boarding!”

The famous archeologist and bearer of bad news accepted his destiny with courage, duty-bound to the Stoic tradition he willingly embraced many years ago. He gave his wife, Indira, the Minerva and Venus of his life, a final call on his phone, telling her loved her, worshipped her, bidding her farewell as a Spartan off to war. This grim and self-important man left the common world to the fight ahead, determined to stop the rogue Matthew and Maya, whoever be the Red Dragon, at all costs.

“Svanhildur ‘Stella Nova’ Minvervadottir, finalist No. 3, begin boarding!”

Stella embraced her friends, took a last selfie with them all, and left for the finals, a little nervous but happy to duel such challenging foes, and the fame and outreach! If every girl in the world saw her become world champion, the bright light of inspiration she would infuse in their souls would make the world a better place.

“Maria Wight, finalist No. 4, begin boarding!”

Maria, who carefully eyed each finalist with scrutiny, cast her sharp scrutiny at the dismal and gross fiend Maya for a second, which Maya returned with her own piercing tigerish glance, before heading on out. She wished Kaiba to see her ascend to becoming champion every step of the way, so she may prove to be worthy of him and win his love.

“Marina ‘Maya Brook’ Bozuslowsky, finalist No. 5, begin boarding!”

Maya only felt her broken ribs at that point, each breath she took splintered her chest, but she would never tell Yukio and Sophia that because they should surely never let her go off to fight in that condition. Believe it or not, Maya always felt like this since childhood, a constant dull pain or weight on her shoulders but one inside the mind, but whenever saddled too much she would stoke the flame inside her extra bright to burn it away for a while.

Now was such a moment, with no room for fear of failure or death but only glory for the spirit, and she would shine bright and strong. She gave Yukio and Sophia every card she owned except for a black binder of the most essential ones she would need. Before Yukio could object, saying he would never take such a gift, Maya shut him up by grabbing him and kissing him ardently, lewdly, then gently hugged Sophia with a sweetness and candor mirroring the girl’s heart. She bid them farewell and stepped into the concrete plain full of glaring sunlight beyond.

She say Mathias and Maximus standing close together, their shoulders turned away, Hannibal trying to marvel what little nature was around him, Stella waving at her, Maria gazing at her with contempt. She joined with Stella to discuss the finals, wondering where Kaiba and Pegasus would take them; if Egypt was not exotic and epic enough than what was? Something from the future, beyond the dusky history of Egypt perhaps?

“Tamas Vargas, finalist No. 6, begin boarding!”

They saw a man with a crew cut on top of a head with a nondescript face, wearing a black leather jacket despite the head and worn out jeans, his eyes shielded by sunglasses, and couldn’t help poking fun at him. He looked like every other local tournament jerk out there, the kind of guy who would beat eleven-year-old kids with the current meta deck then strut around like he was the toughest shit since Kaiba came out of his ludicrous Blue-Eyes White Dragon Jet with a jetpack. But this Mr. Vargas did make it to the finals, somehow, but the two women could not overcome their prejudice and kept taking potshots at him.

“Weevil Underwood, finalist No. 7, begin boarding!”

No one could suppress their laughter; even the stiff Isono twitched his manicured thin mustache and smirked a little, but arrive Weevil did, short, squat, and bug-eyed, barking up at everyone like a small dog, demanding respect. Stella, noticing something strange with her sharp eyes, gave Maya notice of it; as the workers crammed a few bags in the jet, did one seem to move like someone was inside it?

“Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!”

Silence. Maya felt very cold, waiting to see the man who wanted her dead was far worse than being with him in person. Everyone else waited as if frozen. Isono checked his watch after fifteen minutes. He repeated, “Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!” Nothing. He decided it was time. “We shall all board.” In everyone went. Maya was last.

She was just about to get in when she saw HIM stalk towards her, Matthew himself, a short but sturdy light brown-skinned man, his brown eyes piercing, smoldering with volcanic hate underneath the earthen surface. Maya and the man she destroyed looked at each other for a brief moment, not saying a word, matching his steel resolve for her own. She didn’t care how he felt, he nearly killed her, Sophia, Yukio, and actually killed many others. Maya began to wonder, once again, how a tournament where so many people died and a government shattered in could high rating and scores of cheering fans, but she dropped it. It was all too late.

All the finalists huddled inside the jet, all seats facing each other, making any privacy impossible and forcing all duelists to face each other for hours on end. Isono retreated behind the crew as a flight attendant of sorts and the jet took off. Maya knew the jet was flying west of Egypt into the Atlantic with Earth’s orbit as the noon sun stayed behind them rather than setting in the evening.

Regardless, Matthew stared at her throughout the entire journey with a fixed intense gaze Maya did not believe was possible. To say she felt deeply uncomfortable was an understatement, but she could not reveal any weakness to such a dangerous man, a monster she created by daring to fight for her right to live and duel the way she wanted all those years ago. The other finalists were nearly as daunting a challenge; there was no weak link among them, even Weevil could defeat her if she was not careful. Mathias kept his eyes closed the entire time as if meditating. Hannibal kept his head down to read a book. Stella studied her rivals closely with a caution that mirrored Maya’s. Maria stared at a small picture of Kaiba she kept with her with a restless look on her face. Tamas slept the whole time with his leg awkwardly stuck on Maya’s lap. Weevil fidgeted the entire time, sometimes happy, sometimes anxious. Thus did six numbingly intense hours pass in this way until they landed on the unknown island.

Isono opened the door, the first to leave, directing the finalists to their final destination. The island was as Shangri-La except it did not float; most of the ground was fine white sand or short grass and trees, heated bright by the sun but cut by start black shadows, the weather warm and mild but with a sometimes chilly wind, nothing but the wide blue ocean and the wide blue sky surrounded it for miles around. The finalists walked to the mainland, and gasped at the sight of the massive pyramid at the center, almost as large as Khufu’s at Giza, with two other giants, Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, waiting for them at the pyramid’s base.

The austere yet august Kaiba greeted them in his frosty manner, “Congratulations at making it to the finals. As host of this tournament I applaud your achievement but as you are all too aware the real struggle has just begun. Every duel you fought through before is nothing but child’s play compared to what you will face tomorrow. At eight o’clock sharp everyone will arrive to the base of the pyramid and climb to the top where every duel will be held. Each duel will last for exactly twenty minutes at most, with each duelist given thirty seconds at most to make any move, and if the duel doesn’t end on time the duelist with more Life Points will be declared the winner.”

“Hey! Wait up, guys! Aah!” Everyone turned to see Rex gasp for air as he ran after them. Weevil was as shocked as everyone else to see his friend, asking how he god here, with Rex explaining, “I snuck in the luggage, you know, like we did in the Doma Arc, the one nobody liked.” The two bros laughed together at their silly adventure thirteen yeats ago, with Kaiba seething in annoyance and everyone else rolling their eyes.

Pegasus, smarmy as ever, gestured to the finalists, “This way to your lodgings, fellow duelists. Even the greatest men need to sleep.” He said, twirling his cane around in a gentlemanly way as he guided them to what looked like a large building. He showed them inside, directing them to the dining hall n the center surrounded by mirrors and the surrounding rooms, each designed to match the character of each finalist, then notified them of dinner being served within a few hours, so it is good to be prepared.

Everyone did so. Maya crashed unto the bed of Room V, nearly shouting in pain from her broken ribs, clutching her chest and writhing in bed. She could never relax, could she? Joking aside, she unpacked her bags, hiding all her cards in her binder and the Book of Isis, stashing both away in a trap door underneath a drawer – almost as if Pegasus knew she would hide the Book the first thing she did – The room itself was simple with great color contrasts, a sun of deep red, bronze, and burning gold painted above where the ceiling light hung at the room’s corner and dark greens, blues, and blacks below on the floor level. A wide desk was placed below the ceiling light and golden sun so she could work on any dramatic art form she wanted while right next to a single large window to the sea and sky outside. Truly, it was an inner sanctum; Pegasus only needed his mortal eye to see into her heart and she fully understood that Pegasus was a profound man beneath his foppish demeanor. How did Pegasus design everyone else’s room?

Maya took a long warm shower, shaved her body hair, tamed her mane of black hair with conditioner, afterwards donning black sneakers, black jeans, and a black sleeveless shirt. Everyone sad down to eat a simple yet filling dinner of soup and meets, each finalist had many chances to look into all the mirrors surrounding them, to see themselves infinitely reflected and refracted among the reflections of the other finalists. It was all too surreal, easily dislodging any comfortable sense of self. Maya knew Pegasus was an artist as she was, though a painter to her the musician, and she pondered exactly what message did Pegasus want to tell them or the world for that matter.

After dinner, the host Pegasus appeared before his guests, with the press of a button he caused a small hologram projector to appear at the center of the table, the lights dimming. He threw his finalists the final curve ball the tournament had to offer, “Ladies and gentlemen, you have all evolved prodigiously as duelists in my marvelous tournament, now you must evolve further, for in the finals I will have you premier a new game mechanic into Yugioh, none other than Link Summoning!”

“What?”

The projector revealed all with Pegasus making the right comments to their questions. A duelist could no longer Summon monsters from the Extra Deck: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum for that matter, with impunity like they did throughout the entire tournament. They could only Summon one monster from the Extra Deck in a new Monster Card Zone for each player made for that purpose. But they could Summon more monsters by using Link Monsters, new Extra Deck monsters, that each had one to eight Link Markers on the card pointing to another Monster Card Zone based on the card’s Link Number, which now became “Linked Zones”, allowing the player to summon more Extra Deck Monsters. Imagine the Extra Deck Zone as one electric socket; most an Extra Deck monster was one plug but Link Monsters were plugs with extension sockets, allowing you more plugs.

But how did a duelist Summon Link Monsters? A Link Monster needed the number of monsters equal to its Link Number, thankfully no Level requirements needed. Examples: Decoe Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Effect monsters”, needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Effect monsters. Encode Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Cyberse monsters” needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Cyberse monsters. Link Monsters could be used as Material for the Summoning of other Link Monsters, but only as 1 Material or the number of Materials equaling it’s Link Number. Example: Firewall Dragon, a Link 4 monster needing “2+ monsters”, could be made using Decode Talker (3 Materials) and 1 other monster (1 Material) but not by using Decode Talker and 2 other monsters. Also: Link Monsters had no DEF, so cards like Book of Moon, Burden of the Mighty, and Return to the Frontline had no effect on them since they could never go into Defense Position.

All the finalists were dumbfounded at first but soon reacted violently to this astonishing twist in different ways. Tamas, a typical reactionary gamer, stormed out the dining room, shouting how Yugioh was dead and the game was broken now and he would never play Yugioh again. Maria held a frozen look of mild distaste but sighed and resolved to learn the new rules before retiring to her room. Mathias shrugged, then proclaimed to Pegasus, “You got yourself a game, old man.” Pegasus was pleasantly surprised, it was the reaction he liked but was too smart to expect it from anyone.

Maya cocked her head and laughed out loud, rueful and glad at the same time. “So Konami, I mean Pegasus, finally figured out Dracoslayer Pendulums were cancer killing the game. You have no idea how many Ghouls used that against us! But I must ask: how long will it take for these novel Link Monsters to become old and replaced by something even more outlandish? Three years? Two this time?” She didn’t even mention how Pegasus thought Internet references were still novel: Decode Talker, Firewall Dragon? What was this, the late nineties? Did Pegasus still use AOL dial up or something? Did Space Jam just come out?

Maya could see Pegasus deflate a little and it was a good sign, for it was always important to curb the pride of nobles: aristocrat, bourgeois, or otherwise. This got Pegasus to hand over binders to the remaining finalists, holding none other than a set of staple Link Monsters of all kinds for all different archetypes, yet to be released to the public and slowly over many years. “And I still have yet to tell you about the New Duel Disks you will use for the finals.” Pegasus cheerfully chipped in.

The finalists groaned, which Pegasus swatted aside, “Oh hush, you babies.” Before he called the hologram projector back into the table and opened a large silver briefcase, revealing what looked like a novel, high-tech gadget but had no board to place any cards and only one slot for the Main Deck. “My dear friend Kaiba-boy wanted to show you his new toys tomorrow but I couldn’t help it but show this wonder of technology to you, I hope you keep it our little secret. From now on, even the cards you will play with will be holographic but that won’t mean you can use any card you want. You have to scan your cards in the Main Deck to build a card database, then use it to build your Deck. I’ll leave it up to you bright souls to figure out how to do all of that.” Pegasus finally bit his guests farewell and bed time, it was long in the night, so the finalists made their way to their rooms.

Except Maya. Pegasus abruptly grabbed her shoulder, and Maya, on edge this whole time for so many different reasons, nearly attacked the man out of shock but stopped herself at the last moment. Pegasus said to her, deathly serious, “Thank you for looking after and protecting Sophia, my adopted daughter and prodigy, your responsibility was not at all expected but you fulfilled it. Please protect her life and ensure her well-being in the future.”

Maya replied simply, “You have my word.”