Disclaimer: If I owned Yu-gi-oh, Malik's name would not have been changed.

I'm using the conventional Malik=hikari, Marik=yami. I've seen it the other way around, so just making it clear.

Yay! The last ch of Light in the Darkness! I'm actually done with a story. On the other hand, it's really just a series of 1-shots...but whatever.

I got no reviews for chapter 2! Wah! Please make me feel better. :puppy dog eyes:

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Malik sat alone in his room, lit only by a single candle on his desk, given him so that he could study the scriptures. It was cold in the room, deep underground, but his father had refused to give him more wood for a fire until he could recite five hundred more lines.

He tried to interpret the tiny writing, but even though the lack of wind meant the candle's light was steady, the passage of time and many hands had smudged the papyrus until it was almost illegible in the dim light.

Malik had been near the opening of the tomb complex once when those who were allowed to live above had opened the door to give the supplies they had made to those who dwelt in the darkness.

His father had beaten Rishid for allowing him to be there. The heir of the family was never supposed to see the light of the outside world until he had gone through the Tombkeeper's Ritual.

It was so...he should feel guilty. Rishid had suffered for what he had done. But the light...it was...he could understand the fervor with which the ancient scriptures praised Ra, the god of the sun. If the pharaoh was indeed the blessed avatar of that glory... perhaps he did indeed deserve what his family had done for him. Perhaps.

His thoughts were interrupted by a quiet knocking on the door. "I brought food, Master Malik."

"Are you alright, little brother?"

It was Rishid and Isis. And...

"Fo...!" Malik yelled, but Rishid's hand clamped over his mouth before his outburst could attract attention. People were used to him yelling in frustration.

"It's not much, but..." Isis whispered. "I'm sorry. This is all we could hide."

Malik eyed the meagre feast Isis held out to him. Half a roll, some peppers... "Thank you, sister, Rishid! Thank you!" He whispered enthusiastically.

His father held that a full stomach hindered concentration. Malik had gotten no food since yesterday, when he had been assigned these pages.

Isis and Rishid quickly left, after Isis squeezed his hand and Rishid mussed his hair. NO one would notice: Malik rarely brushed his hair. It was an act of minor rebellion, the only safe kind. His father never looked at him long enough to notice.

Malik inhaled the food. Then he sighed and turned back to the scroll. He wished things were different. Little kindnesses like this highlighted how little kindness there was in his life. His father...did he blame him for his mother's death in childbirth? Malik could understand that. He blamed himself. He had killed the kind woman Rishid and Isis talked about so longingly.

Perhaps that explained the glee with which his father gave him difficult tasks and withheld necessities, then punished him when he was too weak to go on. Even the other Tombkeepers...

He had often received hidden glances of sympathy when his father tormented him in front of others. But no one was willing to go against the leader, who they were bound to by unbreakable tradition. Not for the sake of three children, one to have the honor of being made head of the clan. It was necessary, right? His father wanted to make him tough, to be able to bear the burden of carrying on the legacy of his clan until the fabled Pharaoh's return.

Maybe his father was afraid that the legacy would be lost? That there would be no one to aid the Pharaoh? Rishid had told him how happy his father was that he had been born, that there was a male heir to carry on the legacy. Told him one night when Malik sobbed in his arms at the latest beating. Told him when he was convinced his father hated him.

Filled with rejoicing, even though his 'beloved' wife had just died.

Malik laid his head in his hands and wept.

Wept for the hatred his father bore him. No, not hate. You hate people. You don't hate a tool that does not accomplish its task as well as you wish. Punish, yes. Throw at the floor in annoyance. Yes, his father had thrown him to the floor many a time.

Wept for his destiny, to never see the sun, to serve one long dead who had assigned his family this task without caring about the suffering they would experience.

Wept because in the morning, his father would come to see what he had done and would find that the ink in the scriptures had run from the tears dropped on it, and that his unworthy son had failed to accomplish the task he had been ordered to accomplish.

Wept as he could not when his father beat him, because such a sign of weakness would only make his father beat him longer.

Wept, and beat his fists on the table and screamed and screamed. No one would hear him, deep in the bowels of the tomb, far from anyone else.

He hated. Oh, how he hated.

Hated the pharaoh, who had caused all this.

Hated his father, for doing it to him.

Hated Rishid, who had promised to protect him.

Hated Isis, who stood by, and held her hands, and wept.

He hated them so much, he wanted to kill them.

VAVAVAVAVAV

Malik stared at the signs Rishid had carved into his face. Did he think this was enough? A few lines on his face enough penance for failing to protect him from the ritual, when he had begged and begged Rishid to help him?

His father had sent the others away once Malik was tied down. Then...

He had laughed. That was what he could not, would not forgive. His father had laughed at his screams, and told him that he was weak, and unworthy of being his son.

After Malik had been forced to walk back to his room, the blood still running from the cuts, and they had bandaged him, obeying his father's orders not to waste any of the precious painkillers on a weakling who could not bear what generations before him had borne gladly, Rishid had come in.

Malik had raged at him. Said the things he had never before dared say, lest his father hear him. But he was past caring. His father could do nothing worse than he had already. What more did Malik have to fear?

Rishid was staring at him shyly, awaiting a response to his act. Why not give him what he wants? Malik wondered. You're going to need all the allies you can get, until you pull it off.

So he told Rishid that he was impressed, and forgave him, and the ritual wasn't so bad, now that someone shared the pain.

Soothing lies, so far from the truth.

Later, Isis came in. And he acted her sweet brother, the one who had made her that necklace out of the offering flowers.

The idiot had worn it where their father could see, and when he caught them...she didn't even have the courage to lie and say she had made it. She turned pale, and turned him in.

Yet another beating. Yet another reason to carry out the deed he had sworn to himself he would do, while his father carved yet another line.

Destroy his father. Destroy the Tombkeepers. Destroy the world: what had they ever done for him?

Malik would not be some nameless servant of the Pharaoh. The world would know his name, and tremble.

He begged Isis to let him see the outside. Just once. He pleaded with puppy- dog-eyes to see his future kingdom. And for once in her life, convulsed with guilt, she went against her father: did something for her little brother, who said she loved, but did not truly. If she loved him, she would have helped him, done more than just what was without risk to herself.

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He gazed at the people, letting only wonder show on his face. Couldn't drop the mask now, could he? He'd given too much away in his rant to Rishid. Better they forgot about it, lost suspicion, let him use them to gain his revenge.

He looked at the people who lived free in the sky and hated. Hated the ones who were loved, and happy: all the things he had never been. Hated the ones who ignored his suffering.

He picked up a picture that blew on the ground, with a pious, how could someone treat a book that way? comment. It was a ma-keen, one of the things he had heard of when others discussed legends of the outside.

A box with pictures? The ma-keen...the man who had it was a rebel. His lips curled upwards. He was a rebel, too. He'd have this ma-keen, this 'motorcycle'. He'd have lots of them, when he lived in the outside.

Isis hurried them home, her scant courage used up.

Malik paused outside, to imagine himself on a motorcycle. Free, no people around. Because they were all dead. He'd keep the picture. As a reminder of what everyone tried to deny him.

He noticed a contraption on the door and pointed it out to Isis. It seemed his father already knew they had gone. A pity, he'd be watched now. Oh well. Isis would be punished as well. He smiled quickly as Isis ran to his room. He could have told her it was futile. And, sure enough, Rishid was gone.

Malik ran to where he knew his father would have taken him. The room of the Items, the room where the ritual had been carried out with the knife in the Millennium Rod.

And he stopped when he saw Rishid being whipped, as Malik had been so many times before, but the so-servile Rishid had escaped.

Isis almost fainted. Typical.

His father noticed them, and turned to strike him with the whip.

He could have taken it. Taken the beating. Picked his moment, pushed his father down one of the steep flights of stairs with no one the wiser.

But...he couldn't wait any longer.

So he caught the whip, and laughed at the shock on his father's face at the rebellion. Weak little Malik dared?

Oh yes, he dared.

He felt power fill him. His eyes wandered the room, wondering what to do next. Of course.

There was the Millennium Rod. Kill his father with the instrument of his torment? How delicious.

He walked over and took it, as his father stood, stunned. His father yelled at him to put it down, but he waved it and his father flew against the wall. He unsheathed the knife and walked over.

Isis tried to get in his way. He smiled at her outburst. Not her brother? No, he was Malik. The real Malik, who had been kept caged far too long. He threw her against another wall. He'd deal with her later.

He looked at his father, picked his spot, and struck.

Afterwards he licked the knife and felt regret. He should have made it last longer. Oh well. And it wasn't like he was done yet.

He would kill them. All of them, until the tomb where no body lay was filled to overflowing.

First, Rishid...

But as he walked over, Rishid stirred and whimpered, calling him Master. And Malik felt something happen.

It was the Millennium Rod! It was...doing something to him! He was being pulled apart...

He threw the rod away, but it was too late, too late...

VAVAVAVAVAV

He had his hands over his eyes. He wondered why. Then he remembered who he was.

He was Malik. Malik the ignored, Malik the tormented, who only wanted his father to accept and love him.

Rishid had pulled him into his arms, begging him not to see. He turned, and screamed.

There was his father, slumped to the ground against a wall. And...so much blood...

A figure appeared out of the wall. He seemed familiar, but as soon as the thought occurred it disappeared.

So, this was the pharaoh's will, was it? The pharaoh's will his father lay dead? The pharaoh's will he suffered?

Malik's eyes narrowed. He would make the pharaoh pay.

He would live in the sun. All would bow down to him.

He was no one's servant.

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Here's my view of the Malik situation. All the Yamis are the past personalities, right? So it makes sense for Marik to be the real Malik. My theory is the Rod split him, like it did the others, to make him more useful. It wanted him to challenge the pharaoh, make him develop his powers and give him reason to get the god cards so he would fight Zork for them. Challenge, not poison. Marik doesn't give a damn about the items, just destruction. So he wouldn't have to beat Yami or Yugi in a fair fight. All he wanted to do would have been to kill them right away.

Philosophy stuff: This is original sin. The new Malik is formed from Marik's soul, but he's a blank personality until he gets Marik's memories. Even though he's distanced from the suffering by not having actually experienced it himself, he still immediately becomes corrupt, seeking revenge and world domination instead of carrying out his father's wishes. No one is truly innocent, not even a hikari. And without some outside force for salvation, corruption is inevitable and total. Without any light, there is only darkness.