Twelve Little Duelists

Disclaimer: I don't own anything (including the Energizer Bunny).

Author's Note: We're now at the eigth chapter out of thirteen. All questions shall be revealed soon enough.

"Speech"

---------------------- Changing character stand point

-------------------------------------------- Change in time or place

Warning: Character death still in effect, of course.

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Chapter 8: Making the Island a Man's World

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Seto was the first to reach the den, the other three only a few steps behind. The sight that greeted their eyes was not a pleasant one. Malik lay sprawled across the plush rug now dyed crimson where it had been brown and white. The Hikari's platinum blonde hair cascaded into his still face, mingling with the thick trial of blood that oozed from the wound just above his left ear. He painted the picture of a slain angel with the golden jewelery glittering mournfully in the artificial light, white feathers scattered about him haphazardly, some tinted with splotches of blood. Still gripped tightly in his hands were Tea's pink cellphone and the wooden spoon Seto had given him earlier in an attempt at momentary silence. Now that silence was permanent. No more insane giggles. No recitations of the morbid poem. Utter silence.

"He was the last Hikari left," Bakura muttered, eyes narrowed and glossy as his mind went to his bedroom where Ryou lay in eternal sleep.

Yami tore his crimson eyes away from the murdered Light, his mind also going to images of his Hikari. His gaze fell upon a serenely white pillow left abandoned on the floor. He would have thought nothing of it, if not for that massive hole through the center, where most of its feathery stuffing had escaped to surround Malik.

Seto spotted the pillow as Yami stooped to pick it up, a baffled expression on the pharaoh's face. "That explains why we couldn't hear the gunshot." Seto turned his attention back to Malik, surprising himself by having a feeling of remorse. As obnoxious as the Egyptian was, he had begun to grow on Seto. Malik had reminded him a bit of Mokuba when the boy was on a sugar hype. He also felt, with a stab of guilt and further surprise, relief.

Relief that he would no longer have to put so much effort forth in looking after Malik. Relief that the suspect was one step closer to being caught. And relief that Malik had not suffered in his death, like most of the others had.

"So it's one of us," Tea whispered as she looked at each of the three boys. "One of us has been killing everyone..."

"It's Kaiba!" Yami and Bakura accused in unison.

Seto's icy blue eyes narrowed to near slits as he glared at the pair of yami. "I'm getting fed up with these unfounded accusations. You're basing everything off suspicion and nothing upon fact." Turning his back to them, he strode towards the dining room, halting long enough to add over his shoulder, "You'll only be able to accuse me of actual murder after you've wrongfully accused me again." And with that threat, he was gone. The slamming of the dining room door the only evidence that he was even present in the house.

"Maybe we should take some time alone for a little bit," Tea suggested as fresh tears began to well up into her eyes.

Yami and Bakura exchanged glances, eyebrows raised in inquiry to each other. Splitting up wasn't remotely intelligent to do, but it was obvious each of them needed at least a few moments of solitude to gather their thoughts. Yami nodded as he spoke, "All right, but only a short amount of time. In thirty minutes, we will return to the dining room." With that, the three trudged up the staircase, separating as they reached the hallway and entered their rooms. Bakura didn't look back once at them, focused solely on the much desired isolation of his room.

Before entering his own room, Yami look at Tea, taking in her rumpled clothes and worn, tear-stained face. He smiled reassuringly, giving her as much warmth as he was capable of. Silently, he told her that everything would be okay in the end.

Grateful for Yami's kindness, Tea forced herself to smile back as she lifted her hand in a weak thumbs-up.

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They all heard it. How could they not when it echoed so loudly throughout the massive house?

Seto heard it from his resting spot against the dining room wall, where he'd sat for the past twenty minutes absently stroking the smooth forehead of the Blue Eyes figurine. It had startled him into a standing position, shaking him out of his thoughts.

Bakura heard it from where he sat beside Ryou, continuously brushing strands of snow-white hair from his hikari's pale face. He had leapt to his feet like a cat who'd sat upon hot coals.

Yami heard it, loudest of all. It had come from the room next to his, after all. And there was no mistaking that high-pitched scream of sheer terror.

Tea.

Yami was the first out his door, crossing his room in considerable strides that most twice his height never attempted. He was opening Tea's door when Bakura collided into his back. The thief hissed in pain, hand going to where his nose had been jabbed by one of the points on Yami's imfamous hair. Seto appeared at their sides mere seconds later, arriving in time to behold what the other two had discovered.

There, slumped over her bed as if she'd fallen asleep while praying to some invisible deity, was Tea. Blood was everywhere. Dripping from the mantlepiece, oozing down the walls, puddling on the bedsheets, flowing into a red pool around her legs. Her slender neck, once flawless, now bore a long open gash where blood no longer seeped as it had drained itself swiftly through the new hole.

Seto was the first to speak as he continued to gaze about the room with the same critical eye as a forensic detective. "How did she have time to scream and still lose so much in a matter of seconds..?"

"How can you think about technicalities when Tea's dead!" Yami demanded, utterly bewildered. "Don't you have any remorse for those taken from us?"

Seto looked sidelong at the irate Pharaoh, his expression deadpan. "No, sorry, but I've used up what grief I was alloted a long time ago."

As the rivals glared silently at each other, both challenging the other to back down, Bakura uttered a sound of confusion. With that, the soundless battle between CEO and Pharaoh was ended as they turned to see what had baffled Bakura.

The thief smirked, relishing the attention the two gave him. He was silent a moment, only to make them twitch with impatient, before clearing his throat. "The poem says, 'Four little duelists going out to sea/A red herring swallowed one and there were three.' But this death has nothing to do with fish." He paused a moment, glancing around the room again. "Although, it's certainly red enough."

"A redding herring is something that draws attention away from the central issue," Seto scoffed.

Yami frowned at the definition. "That doesn't make sense. How does this murder draw our attention away from the issue that one of us is a murderer?"

"The killer could just be getting lazy and not following along with the lyrics." Seto shrugged, dismissing the poem as pure idiocy. "Seriously. Think about it. The next line is 'Three little duelists walking in a zoo/A big bear hugged one and then there were two.' There isn't a zoo on this island, and certainly no bears."

"Either the killer lacks imagination or has way too much of it," Bakura stated in a tone suggesting he was conversing with himself. "If it's a lack of imagination, then Kaiba'd definitely fit that profile. The guy probably sends e-mails to that battery company ordering they change their mascot because pink bunnies with drums are completely illogical." He sneered at Seto as the CEO clenched his fists with surpressed rage. "And if it was too much imagination, the number suspect would have been our newest victim. It doesn't get any more outlandish than complete unity and friendship among everyone." As Seto took a menacing step towards him, the thief grinned and held his hands up disarmingly. "It could have been any of us," he stated, adding as an after-thought, "I still think it's Kaiba though..."

Yami nodded. "Yes, we still can't completely accuse anyone. As far as either of you know, I could have done this by climbing from my window into Tea's room, and back." He turned to Bakura. "You could have left your room and picked the lock on her door and done it yourself or," he fixed his crimson eyes on Seto, "you could have just as easily snuck upstairs earlier and been in your room, waiting for us to split up. Any one of us could have done it, and until we have proof of who did it-"

"We all remain suspects," Seto finished.

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KT: Nyahaha.

Seto: You're laughing? You've cried at the end of most of the other chapters…

KT: In case you didn't notice, Musey-me-love, I hate Tea with a passion.

Seto: Ah, so this was a good chapter for you?

KT: Very much so. It may just cheer me up when I have to kill you in one of the upcoming chapters…

Seto: ……I was hoping you'd forget about that…

KT: Nope, sorry.