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Found 11 results

  1. The sensation came to Vanitas every time he was unprepared for it, when he was the recessive part of Ventus that he hated most, vulnerable. Over time the feeling became more overpowering, it would channel through his body like the very darkness that he had been created from. Only he didn't recognise this as darkness. No he couldn't be weak. He couldn't think about her. The feeling intensified, it raced through him up and down, never finding a heart to rest in and so came to a still at the usual place, his mind. Vanitas had done well to ignore this feeling and brush it off as a weakness that would disappear when he one day finally defeats his weaker self, Ventus. Oh how he hated the name. But lately he had found it difficult to think about that, or to even focus on the task Master Xehanort had set for him. How could he when his mind was plagued, infested with thoughts of her. Her who he was told to forget, whose name Vanitas only knew from his time spent in the shadows watching Ventus spar with her, learning his keyblade fighting techniques so that they could one day be used against him. But whose name would stay in his mind. Her name was Aqua. Itch. She was nothing more to him than collateral damage, a pawn in the game. She would serve as the stepping stone for Terra's darkness to take over and allow Master Xehanort's plans to take form. And yet she had a strong connection to Ventus. Weak, insignificant and a tool that will eventually lead to the forging of the X-blade. And above all that, he was Vanitas's enemy. Every time he mentioned her, Master Xehanort was besides himself - for years Vanitas had showed no signs of light in him, he showed nothing but hatred and anger and resentment. Every day he handled the missions he was given with brutality, he had a vicious fighting style, overpowering his enemies by channelling the darkness in him. Why was he letting this weakness in? It happened more often lately and it happened today. Vanitas woke early as per his Master's demands. "Awaken Vanitas!" the old Master Xehanort said. "Every minute that you sleep, Ventus grows more powerful than you do." Vanitas was up in an instant, donning his mask and armour and ready for a battle within minutes. "Not a chance, Master." he said, calm and getting increasingly cocky in his confidence as his powers and abilities were growing, becoming more of an asset to his master. "Oh really? Then we can skip the formalities. Show me what we went over yesterday before we begin today's assignment." Master Xehanort said and with a wave of his white glove covered hand an unversed was spawned into the training room. But itch itch, her image returned to Vanitas again. Like a bad itch he would never be able to scratch off. He thought about her as he struggled to fight against the unversed enemies, his dark powers failing to destroy them as they usually did, merely wounding instead. She was the same girl he saw sparring with Ventus that day at the land of departure. The same one he met. As he observed how Ventus was fighting he saw her, her blue eyes and her blue hair, she carried herself strong, her keyblade fighting style was as majestic as it was masterful. She made her swings look like choreographed dances at times, but her use of magic and strong attacks made her more stronger than her beautiful appearance would let on. After the two of them had battled, Ventus left and went in to speak to Master Eraqus. And Aqua remained outside, she was stitching together was Vanitas could only see as good luck charms. As Vanitas gazed upon her, he saw her not as an enemy but as something else, he wasn't quite sure, a friend? Something more? Either way it was a far cry from the hate and fiery aggression that filled him just a moment ago. And when she spoke to him her voice was soft and calming, not at all like the viciousness he received from his Master, Xehanort. But he appreciated it. His master punished him to make him stronger. Stop thinking of her Vanitas. Stop the itching. Stop the scratching. And yet as Vanitas readied his keyblade against the unversed in front of him, itch itch, the feeling returned to him again, striking him harder than his physical swishes of the blade were to the unversed, he channelled the feeling and used it as power believing it would help to soothe the itch in his mind. A bright blue beam of water shot out of his keyblade, the edges of the blade raised toward the creature. The blast shot across the room, it took the unversed with it and pinned it against the wall and then both the water and the unversed were gone in an instant. Master Xehanort's menacing grin turned to a frown of anger his expectant look turned briefly to one of confusion and then back to anger, he knew this magic. Light. Vanitas was supposed to be created from pure darkness, why had this happened? No. This plan was years in now, Master Xehanort knew his destiny, he knew that Vanitas and Ventus must clash. But the light had to stay away from Vanitas. "There you see! She makes you weak boy! She sees you as the enemy she uses this against you." But she hadn't. She was kind. She cared and she always put her friends before herself. The short amount of time Vanitas had spent with her before Master Xehanort disallowed him to see her any more was a happy one. Don't talk to her, don't see her, don't even think about her, those were his instructions to him. The radiance of her soul and heart made him stronger. SLICE! "AH!" Vanitas was so wrapped up in his thoughts of her that he didn't notice Master Xehanort had summoned in another unversed. The creatures sharp claw slashed at his arm holding the keyblade. He slammed the blade down in frustration. The pain had at least cleared his mind of the thoughts he was having but it didn't take long for them to return. But the unversed in front of him was destroyed by Master Xehanort, who had approached the area Vanitas was fighting. Vanitas felt the wind swish past him as the tip of Xehanort's No Name keyblade passed his face. And yet through all this, the itch persisted in his mind. She would be taking her Mark Of Mastery exam soon and with that Vanitas and his master's plan would finally begin. All the training, all the physical and mental attacks from his master, they would be all leading up to this. He had the light, the feelings for her beaten out of him by his master enough now. He hated her and yet he did not. Why did he have to hate her? Was it an extension of his hate for Ventus? Was it a reflection of the hate that had consumed Master Xehanort? If I have faith that says to a mountain "jump" and it jumps but I don't love, I'm nothing. Did he love her? No he couldn't. He was born from darkness. So then why did he feel powerful when he thought of her in a warm and positive light? The only thing he was certain of was that he either wanted to be with her or for these cursed thoughts to leave him for good. For a moment his mind had left the room but was bought back into it as the metal smashed into his ribs. Screaming out in pain, he barely had time to react any further before he saw her there again, this time Aqua smiled at Vanitas, just as she did that day and she spoke to him, his vision and hearing was blurred even within his mind but he understood what she was saying "It's okay. You can lose yourself to the darkness, I'll be there to get you back." And with that the No Name keyblade pierced Vanitas this time in the chest. The last thing Vanitas saw was a blue light leaving him, it coursed through the keyblade and into the gazing eye that trademarked the hilt. When Vanitas awoke some time later, the itching had stopped. Only now it felt like it had never been there. Forgotten in a dark void with Ventus's other weaknesses that had been destroyed from him. He hurt but he couldn't remember why. "Vanitas?" Xehanort looked at him expectantly "Yes, Master?" He replied, gathering his breath and slowly standing. "Do you remember her?" Vanitas looked confused, who in the World was his master talking about? "Aqua?" "Yes boy. What is her use to us?" Xehanort knew of course but he needed to hear it from Vanitas. "She is our enemy along with Terra... And Ventus. Terra's destiny will lead her to hers. And I will destroy Ventus myself. The X-blade will be ours!" And Master Xehanort could no longer sense that light, that weakness within Vanitas had gone. No more scratching. No more itch. "At last. You are ready." Vanitas's training was complete.
  2. My Friend from the Dark (A Dark Souls/Kingdom Hearts story) Sora stared at the blue, swirling portal. Fog emanated from the centre and out to the portal's edges, where it dissipated into the air. “Whart d’yeh reckon’s in there, Sora?” questioned Goofy, who sounded like he was perpetually tripping over his own words. “I d’know,” replied Sora, thoughtfully sucking on an ice cream stick. He stared at it distantly, entranced by its unique magnificence. In a way, the portal reminded him of the sea of skies. The deep blue expanse, vast and lined with hundreds of stars, was a sight to behold from the Gummi Ship; indeed, Sora noticed that the occasional twinkle of light glittered among the fog, perhaps not in the hundreds, but like stars nevertheless. In another thought, Sora believed it to be a great, ethereal sapphire. “Looks dangerous, Sora!” squawked Donald, who knew full well that his hints would never be registered. It wasn’t that Donald Duck was a coward. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he was known for his intermittent feats of heroism. Even Donald might admit on a good day that these feats were by-products of his exceptionally plucky ineptitude. Still, it got the job done, and had earned him the rank of court wizard. However, behind his surprising career as an officiated wizard, he was more popularly known for his emphatic investment in avoiding a premature death. To him, diving feet first into rips along the fabric of space and time was pure madness. Dip a toe in and test the waters, maybe, but throw yourself into it? What if it was suspended above lava? A pool of sharks? An empty void of nothingness? In theory, Donald was a master of self-preservation in these matters. In practice, not so much. Sora lacked the cynicism to be truly afraid, which made Donald wonder whether he was the stupidest or the bravest individual he’d ever met. “I think we should have a look,” Sora eventually decided. “Y’know, just in case.” “In case of what?” Donald muttered to himself. There was no point in arguing. Sora flicked the stick out of his mouth, and inspected it closely. Whatever he was looking for did not reveal itself today, for he appeared slightly disappointed, and put it into a satchel on his belt – right next to his ‘emergency’ sea salt ice cream, which was concealed by a cloth. It was unlikely to melt anytime soon, as the bag was ice cold. Sora knew that food preservation was not a totally conventional use of Blizzarga, but, as far as Sora was concerned, he was merely pioneering. Besides, he had to satiate his sweet-tooth somehow. As soon Sora stepped into the portal, the blue fog enveloped him. The blue turned to black, and Sora felt the sensation of falling, and then nothing. He coughed himself awake, and spat out some ashes. He pushed himself up, brushed off some residual ash, and nearly fell over flat at the sight that lay before him. Impossible geometry surrounded Sora. Above and below him were brick buildings, a veritable city of sorts, and the narrow land he stood upon connected to a path, which led up to what appeared to be a plateau. The jagged buildings rose and fell around Sora like a static sea, most of them protruding out of an unseen ground at awkward angles. Some of the closer buildings seemed to sit horizontally; they loomed over him as a tidal wave of brick and mortar. The city landscape stretched for what appeared to be an infinity, and Sora thought each building to be blackened primarily by soot, until he realised that they were also silhouetted by an enormous, eclipsed sun. Donald and Goofy were nowhere to be found. Sora walked up the stone path, noting its smooth, ashen appearance. It looked slightly melted, as if the pebbles or the gravel you’d expect to find had been forged back into the stone it had once fallen from. Before the plateau was a crumbled gate, and as Sora stepped through it, he was greeted by a sight of warped beauty; a field of blooming flowers, and among them, hundreds of tarnished swords plunged deep into the ground. At the centre of the field, an armoured figure sat. It stared at a pile of black objects, and seemed indifferent to Sora’s approach. A few cinders burned among the ashes of the pile. Sora wondered whether the thing was a statue, until its head slowly turned to acknowledge him. The being remained silent, the shine of its steel armour and the white fur adorning its shoulders stood in stark contrast to the charred backdrop. Sora could not see the eyes through the T-shaped slit of the helmet, but above it he could just make out the etching a warrior. It seemed to be fighting a serpent – no, a dragon. Where the being had sat in the smut and powder, the once, Sora assumed, light cerulean cloth that draped over each leg from the hip was now stained and thus darker, so that little of the original colour remained. “I was not expecting anyone at this time,” it rumbled. Sora was struck by the voice. He could not discern a gender, nor even a species. It looked human, it probably was human, and yet… Its voice was deep and guttural, and yet somehow gentle. “Where am I?” Sora eventually decided to question. “A kiln. Quite open-air, one must admit, but a fire burneth here all the same.” Sora peered at the flame the armoured being spoke of, and was not impressed. “It looks like it’s all burnt out,” laughed Sora, who then had an idea. “Hey, you want me to light it up for you?” “Doth thou know what you must do to ignite this fading flame?” croaked the bemused being. He did not, but Sora was an optimist. He summoned his keyblade, preparing to cast Firaga upon the dull flame. “What a peculiar weapon thou has; a foolishly blunt one indeed. Doth the weight of the teeth not throw off your strikes?” “What? Uh… No, not really…” “Hm. Well, if thou canst truly reignite the flame, then be my guest.” Sora stood closer to the pile. He noticed that that the black heap itself was not comprised of traditional fuel, such as wood or coal, but rather of bones, and that a dark, almost camouflaged, coiled sword impaled it vertically. Although he was disconcerted by the sight, he held his hand above the sword and, through the power of the keyblade, cast a fire spell. The flames coiled about him, and through the directing of his hands they bounced into the embers. Nothing. Sora tried again, two, three more times. The armour chuckled. “As I suspected. It is a little more complicated than that.” Sora felt a little embarrassed, but brushed it off. “Yeah, well, maybe you need better fuel.” “Alas the fuel thou sees is irrelevant. This fire is not the fire thou knows. It feeds not upon wood or coal or kindle, but upon souls. It is the Flame - the power of the Gods. It is the beacon that both warms and guides us undead, but ultimately burns us all to ashes. Thou should’st recognise it, if thou art undead.” He gazed at the tiny embers that smouldered among the bones. Could such a thing so small be as powerful as the being described? For a moment he wondered whether it could be the physical manifestation of Light. Sora realised something the being had said. “Undead?” The armour pondered for a few moments. “One suspects that thou art not of this world. One is far too young. Too full of life.” “I’ve been to other worlds before, but I’ve never been to one like this.” From the moment Sora had arrived, he’d felt grounded. Not heavier, or weaker, but as though his ability to glide or perform an aerial dodge had been stripped from him. Elsewhere he’d have no qualms with leaping from mountains, but now… Is this what it’s like to be afraid of heights? “Really? And what doeth thou do upon the arrival in a new… world, didst thou call it?” “Well, that depends really. I help people, and help people help themselves. I fight the Darkness, and the Heartless. Oh, and the Nobodies.” “I assume these ‘Heartless’ and ‘Nobodies’ are of the dark?” “Eh… Sorta.” “And what about men?” Sora was confused. “What about ‘em?” “Doth thou not fight man?” “No, why would I do that?” “Thou figheth the Dark, did not thou just say? So, doeth thou fight Humanity?” The question seemed odd to Sora, so he decided to answer with what his Heart told him. “Our Hearts may have darkness in them, but they were born from the Light.” “Ah. Noble sentiment. We sing from a different hymn sheet, for thou must not know that humanity is of the Dark. No matter. So thou art something of an Abyss Watcher?” “Abyss Watcher? You’re gonna have to explain a little more.” “In this… world, the Watchers rooted out all signs of the manifest darkness - the Abyss. They were quite effective, the Undead Legion. Purging the Abyss, to them, was no different to preventing the spread of a disease, for they would slaughter whole cities if they had reason to believe the area was infected.” Sora was horrified. “But surely-“ “The Watchers have no mercy for creatures of the Abyss, boy. Anyone could be infected by it, and, right or wrong, they controlled it exceptionally.” “But you can’t just do that…” “It is ancient history, I am afraid. Anyway, if it is any consolation, I put those dogs down.” These concepts were new to Sora. The thought of someone who fought for the Light massacring innocents… it made him physically sick. But then for a moment he felt stupid. Just because someone fights the Darkness, or the Abyss as it called it, then it doesn’t mean they fight for the Light. Sora believed the Light and the Darkness to be liminal opposites. To be with one is to oppose the other, and vice versa. Could this notion be different here? He stared at the eclipse, in deep thought. You fight for the Light for so long, you try to help as many as you can… And yet it all feels for nothing when you know that the Darkness isn’t your only enemy. Would he be like that? Would he destroy the dark at all costs, forsaking innocents along the way? Another, darker thought came to Sora. Would Riku, or Mickey, or even Kairi have to destroy him, if he went down that path? “I would not think too much on it, if I were thou. Light and Dark are not… well, they are not black and white. None of it is. Not here.” The being, having noticed the boy’s disconcertion, decided to change the flow of the conversation. “Ah, I do not even know your name.” “… Sora. It’s Sora. Yours?” The being was silent for a few moments. It drew a name from memories of regret. “Anri. Why art thou here, Sora?” “I came through a portal with- Oh, you didn’t see anyone else, did you?” “Just thou, I am afraid.” Sora stared at the sun once again, and realised he was sweltering from it. Reaching into his bag he pulled out his ice cream, removed the cloth, and stared at it thoughtfully. As he removed it from the bag, it began to thaw instantly. “Aren’t you hot under all that armour?” he asked Anri. “Not as much as I should be. We undead feel less, after dying time and time again.” This intrigued Sora. “It’s happened more than once? Then surely… then surely you can’t die.” “In a manner of speaking, we can, and cannot. When it happens, we get up again sooner or later, brought back by this fire, so we can continue on with our journey.” Anri’s attention turned to the melting ice cream, which sat neglected in Sora’s hand. “What a peculiar thing. Tell me, what is that?” “Oh. Sea salt ice cream.” “And what doth thou do with such a thing?” “You eat it, silly,” laughed Sora. Anri humoured the boy, and let out a raspy chuckle. “Forgive my ignorance, it has been a long while since I have done that.” Sora realised the being would never taste such a treat, so he offered it to Anri. “You are kind,” it said, taking the ice cream. Anri turned away from Sora, and lifted its helmet up slightly. Sora couldn’t see what it did to the ice cream or what it looked like, but when it turned back to him, all that was left was the stick. “How’s your head?” asked Sora, impressed by its ability to eat an ice cream in so quickly. Surely Anri had brain-freeze? Sora could remember his first experience with ice-cream vividly because of it. “Quite fine. Hm. Sweet, and yet salty. My friend, I could not remember these tastes before this. I have not had such a joy in so long, and to hark back to our previous life is pleasure few are privy to. Thank you. We undead do not get to enjoy taste. Oh, and apparently I am a ‘Winner’,” Anri mused, holding the stick aloft. “What? I’ve been looking for one of those for a while now!” Anri offered the stick back to Sora, but he declined. “It’s yours. Keep it.” Putting it into its belt, it sat back a little, and then had a thought. “Ah, one moment.” It reached into its own pouch, and pulled out a small, handled barrel. “It might not be as flavoursome as your gift...” Anri passed it to Sora, who had to hold it in both hands, as it was surprisingly heavy. He heard liquid slosh around inside. “What is it?” he asked. “Siegbrau. An old friend brewed it.” He opened the top, sniffed it, and recoiled slightly. “Urgh… It smells a little off.” “Indeed, as it supposed to.” Sora could sense Anri’s invisible gaze, and, not wishing to be rude, decided to give the ‘Siegbrau’ a swig. He gulped half a mouthful before he realised how bitter it was. Acrid, he could go as far as saying He swallowed, and shivered slightly. He felt slightly light headed, hiccupped, and began to splutter slightly. Anri burst out laughing. “Perhaps when you are older, friend!” “Thank you, but no thank you,” Sora gasped as he handed back the mug. It had a frankly awful taste, Sora knew as much, but, strangely, he felt better for having it. He felt warm inside. Not the overbearing warmth generated by the eclipse, but the kind of friendly warmth that makes anything possible. Sora sat down next to Anri happily. The sun remained static in the orange sky as if time itself had halted. Around him the flowers, almost pinkish in appearance up close, did not stir, for there was no wind. Sora had many questions, but knew he would get no clear answers. He decided to ask one final question regardless. “Why are you here?” Anri did not immediately answer, because the being itself was not entirely sure. “I am here to make a decision,” it eventually answered. “Need any help with it?” “A second opinion would not hurt, I imagine.” It sighed heavily. “I have four choices. To give myself to the Flame, to let it burn out, to take it for myself, or to usurp it for Humanity. If I give myself to it, humanity will no longer be undead, and humans may die in peace once again. However, it is doubtful I myself will survive the sacrifice. Possible, but doubtful. I’ll just burn to ashes, and become another one of these bones.” “Is that such a bad thing?” “Unfortunately the cure to our ailment is also the cause. Every time the Flame begins to fade, humans are cursed with undying existence. The Flame was claimed by the Gods, and we are punished for basking in its warmth. Humans are of the dark, meaning our very presence puts the Flame at risk. I’ve wondered whether we our both the fuel that bolsters it, and the gust of wind that smoothers it, in the same way that it warms and burns us. Regardless, undead have had to make this same decision many times before now. This awful cycle will go on and on, because no matter how many times an undead chooses to let the Flame fade, eventually another will come along and give themselves to it. But unlike my predecessors, I am Unkindled. I have… other choices. I have already failed this task once before.” Sora had no idea what ‘Unkindled’ meant, but decided to press on with the other choices. “And what if you leave the Light to burn out?” “Then the Age of Dark, the Age of Humans, will finally come as it should have millenniums ago. The Gods will fade away, and man will reign. Or perhaps it will not come at all. Perhaps, without the guidance of the Flame, we will destroy ourselves, and the world with it. Maybe the Flame will never burn out, for its powers are so great it can convolute time, and thus it seems able to prevent its own natural extinguishment.” “That’s quite risky then,” Sora muttered. Giving up on the Light seemed unthinkable to Sora, and yet… The Light here caused suffering. Was it truly the Light? Sora had no desire to sit by and allow a world to be swallowed by Darkness, but now he was reluctantly considering it. Yet he couldn’t simply accept all that Anri said as true. “Are you sure the Light is causing this?” “The Flame, thou means. Yes, I am certain. Now, tell me, why do you assume that the Flame and this ‘Light’ are one and the same?” “Are the Flame and the Light not the same thing?” “When the Age of Dark comes, the sun will rise at dawn and set at dusk, as it has since the Age of Ancients ended. But, conceivably, I misunderstand also. Explain ‘Light’ to me.” “It’s… the determination of the Heart. Worlds have hearts, and the Light is what makes it pure. But in people, it’s the will to do right when wrong seems like the easy choice…” Sora was not entirely convinced by his own definition. The Light was something you felt, like an instinct, rather than something that was explainable. Sora decided that a visual aid might help. “This keyblade,” he said, brandishing it to Anri. “The strength of my heart allows me to summon it.” “A strong heart, like a great soul. Can thou summon such a weapon for might, or for virtue?” “Both, I guess.” Anri peered at the strange weapon. Even it could admit that it felt power radiating from the so-called ‘keyblade’. “What locks does this key open?” Anri queried. “Any. Chests, doors… safes,” he added, recalling an instance in Traverse Town. “Have you ever used it to access places you should not go?” “Well… yeah, but for the right reasons.” “Oh, well, as long as you say it was for the right reasons.” “Er… What about the other choices?” “Hm. I have the choice to take it for myself, or to take it for my fellow undead. To rule as a God, or to rule as an equal. To fill myself with Flame, or fill the Flame with Dark. I do believe that either would end the suffering of humanity at the hands of the curse.” Everything Sora had once believed began to crumble about him. The Darkness was the best option, even Sora had to concede that for once. As for Anri taking the Flame for itself, Sora had a competitive nature, but had always believed it was better to be part of something greater, rather than being the greatest. Even then, Sora did not trust the Darkness. Who’s to say it isn’t the Darkness causing this curse, anyway? He only had Anri’s word to trust. “The Age of Dark must come to pass, Sora,” continued Anri. “The Dark must shine our way, lest we lose ourselves in it.” “You’ve already made your choice, haven’t you?” Sora realised. “I have, and you have opened my eyes. I understand that the Light is precious to you, and in thine realm I hope you never lose sight of it. Thou must understand that the Dark must always be stronger than the Light, if the Light is to prevail. Otherwise this, everything I have told you, comes to pass. The Light becomes the new Dark, so to speak.” “Is there any Light left in this world?” Sora murmured, as he did not know how to feel about Anri's choice. The being held up its hands. From one, fire sprouted, and from the other, a blood red vortex. “Fire. Cold. Light. Dark. If you look for it, you shall find it. Because of this I have witnessed acts of evil the likes of which thou would not believe. Acts by the mad, the brave, the stupid, and even those who would call themselves ‘pious’. Some committed these crimes for the Light, some for the Dark, and others for themselves. For all this I sincerely believe that the first and last true Light of this world rests within you, Sora. As the Flame departs this land, so must you. I wish you the best in your battle against the Darkness, and I pray that we do not meet on separate sides.” Anri’s attention turned to the entrance of the plateau. “I think it is time for you to leave.” The blue portal had appeared silently. Sora stood, and turned back to Anri. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” “I got this far without thou, did not I?” Sora smiled at the being, and felt that it was reciprocated. “Goodbye, Sora, my friend from the Light.” “Goodbye, Anri… my friend from the Dark.” Sora walked right up to the portal, and turned to look at Anri one last time. It was staring at something in its hand. Sora could not see it, but knew in his Heart that it was the ice cream stick. He smiled, turned back, and entered the portal. As soon Sora stepped through, the blue fog enveloped him. The blue turned to black, and Sora felt the sensation of falling, and then nothing. In an instant found himself walking upon dry, cracked earth, with Donald and Goofy at his side, as if nothing had happened. They looked about the barren landscape, silently aghast, as a gentle wind pressed against their faces. Sora sensed a change in the air and, soon after, those gentle winds picked up into a howling gale. Before him, a dust cloud formed. It cleared within seconds, and before them a caped suit of armour stood, clutching what looked like a keyblade. “Aqua… Ven…”
  3. Departure This land had seen many changes in the sky and it was destined to see many more, but on this particular night, Xehanort felt that the sky looked more vast and glorious than ever before. It could just have been the emotional significance of the moment, but as he gazed up into the deep reaches of the beyond, he didn’t think the world had ever shown him a more beautiful sky. Skies were full of promise, Xehanort knew. Skies were something every world had in common. Dividing them, but also connecting them. Skies themselves were the limitless containers of limited worlds and Xehanort had long since grown tired of limits. The time had come to go further than the sky; to trek beyond its reach. No matter how beautiful it was, Xehanort needed to do more than look at it. The stars were out, each of different shapes and sizes but ever twinkling and shining as they always did and perhaps always would. They were so far away but Xehanort also knew that these too were never out of reach. Xehanort felt himself tingle with anticipation, knowing that he was finally about to close the gap forever. He felt almost more free than he did the day he left his boyhood home. In some respects, he had just travelled from one prison to another, but he had done so without any knowledge of what lay beyond. This time, he was truly ready. And this time, he would be alone. Xehanort stepped forward and continued down the steps, heading directly out of the castle that he had called home for so many years. To leave this way was a little riskier but to leave any other way felt wrong. Xehanort was determined to leave the Land of Departure the way he’d entered it, even if nobody was there to see it. Xehanort respected this world and all that it had done for him. It was a dignified way to see it off. The only sounds to be heard were his own footsteps; the night was still. Xehanort reached the bottom of the stairs and continued to the centre of the large round courtyard where he came to a stop. He let the moment sink in and in many ways felt relieved that everything was over, but still there was a strong sense of nostalgia. He had an emotional attachment to this place that would hopefully go away with time. He looked up at the boundless sky once again and let out a long cathartic sigh. “Leaving without saying goodbye?” Xehanort spun around in surprise to see who had spoken, but somehow he had still expected this on some level. He knew the voice and the face he turned to look at was just as familiar. It was impressive that Xehanort hadn’t noticed him and he’d been certain that nobody would be out here at this time, but of course, here he was anyway. Eraqus. Xehanort had to correct himself; he was Master Eraqus now. It was a new title they both shared after a long time spent preparing for it. He was sitting on the wall at an edge of the courtyard, his hands resting beside him as he watched Xehanort from a distance. He hadn’t spoken loudly, but the stillness of the night allowed him to be heard clearly. He was a young man in a white tunic that contrasted Xehanort’s dark clothes. His hair was black and wavy where Xehanort’s was silver and sharp. His grey-blue eyes gazed into Xehanort’s golden ones and as they did, Xehanort felt more distant from his fellow pupil than he had ever done before. Xehanort lowered his gaze to the ground, trying to mask any sadness he felt with indifference. “My mind is made up,” he stated bluntly. “Now that both of us have become keyblade Masters and you have been named our Master’s successor, there is no reason for me to stay here.” He raised his eyes again and looked back at Eraqus once more with a colder look. “My future is out there.” Eraqus looked back at him quietly for a moment before he broke out into a soft chuckle and hopped off the wall. “I never said I was here to stop you,” he said kindly. “I’m asking why you’re leaving without saying goodbye.” Xehanort frowned with the faintest hint of embarrassment and looked away while he paused to give his next answer more carefully. “…What good would that do?” he asked vacantly. “Come on, Xehanort,” Eraqus frowned and stepped forward, out of the shadows. “Don’t you owe that to me? We’re friends, right?” Xehanort turned his head further away from Eraqus. A sad silence took over the conversation while Eraqus sighed. Xehanort didn’t know what the right thing to say was and part of the reason he’d tried to slip away was the fact that he didn’t care. Or perhaps he just didn’t want to care. After all, the hardest thing about having a bond was letting it go. The land that Xehanort had seen as both a home and a prison was one thing. His fellow prisoner was another. It was as if Eraqus could tell what Xehanort was feeling. “And here I thought you didn’t like things to be easy,” he teased, the smile back on his face as he moved back into Xehanort’s field of vision and stood in front of him. Xehanort raised his eyes again to look directly at him; the two former students facing each other directly. Both of them became suddenly aware of how serious this all was and a few seconds went by while they simply looked at each other. One look that conveyed a lot more than they likely would have with words. Xehanort could see in Eraqus what Eraqus could likely see in Xehanort: Their lives were about to become lonelier than either of them were used to. “The Master is going to miss you,” Eraqus said sadly. “I doubt that,” shrugged Xehanort. “Well, I’m going to miss you,” Eraqus smirked. “Yes,” Xehanort nodded slowly. “Though I can’t fathom why.” Eraqus laughed and then gestured over his shoulder, to the hills in the distance. “Come on, Xehanort,” he urged. “It’s our last chance. One more game?” Xehanort contemplated his offer and found himself unable to resist it. “All right” he responded, finally wearing a smile of his own. “One more game.” That was how the two of them later found themselves atop the hill where they used to train, on a flat area near the top where lampposts had been set up to light the surroundings at night. The night was no less still and the sky was no less clear, but all of that seemed so much less significant now. Xehanort and Eraqus were sitting beneath one of the lampposts, playing chess as they had done so before so many times. The game was still enjoyable and their usual conversation had been brisk, but even this had found itself amongst a certain stillness. Both men knew this would be the last time they would see each other in a long time, but neither of them knew how to make the moment count. It had been a while since either had spoken. Eventually, Xehanort broke the silence as he made his next move. “The Master was wise to select you as his successor,” he said quietly. “You were the right choice.” Eraqus glanced at him before returning his focus to the game. “Do you really think that lowly of yourself?” he asked while he contemplated. “No, you misunderstand,” answered Xehanort indifferently. “I don’t belong here. I need to explore and discover things for myself; I’ll never be satisfied without the answers. You were a more stable student than I, who could never live the way our Master did.” For a moment, something bristled in Xehanort involuntarily. It went unnoticed by Eraqus, but in that instant, Xehanort felt something he didn’t expect. Bitterness? Jealousy? Did a part of Xehanort want this life? Did a part of him resent his own heart’s longing for more? Xehanort couldn’t be sure. His ambition and curiosity almost defined him. How could he possibly resent that? What else could he want from himself? He regained focus and saw that Eraqus had already made his next move and was looking at him. “It’s because you always resisted the Master’s teachings,” he pointed out. “To be honest, I always thought you were better than me… At everything.” Xehanort looked at Eraqus in soft surprise; he’d never known Eraqus could feel that competitive towards him. Did Eraqus perhaps even look up to him? He was a couple of years younger than Xehanort, but that hadn’t made much of a difference in Xehanort’s mind. Still, if Xehanort was honest with himself, he’d always subconsciously felt somewhat superior to Eraqus as well. He chose not to say this and returned his attention to the chess board. “You were cleverer than me,” Eraqus went on, “more talented than me, stronger than me… You were the model student. You just couldn’t accept the Master’s teachings. It was your one flaw: You had to question everything. If you just had better judgement, it would have been you being named successor, not me.” Xehanort made his next move. “It is the role of a teacher to teach,” he responded evenly. “It is the role of a student to learn. You can’t learn anything if you never question what you’re being taught.” He straightened up, a sign that he was on the verge of a lecture. “I don’t think we should just accept that it’s our job to safeguard. Is that really all there is for us to learn? It’s too simple. There has to be more to this. More for us to do. More to see. Maybe there’s a way for us to make a difference to the state of the World. Find the truth amidst the legend. How can we do that by staying here as part of a stagnant cycle? That isn’t good enough.” Eraqus listened to him quietly while Xehanort spoke. In the game, Xehanort had him cornered with an excellent strategy and Eraqus was stuck. He was thinking very carefully about his next move while he let Xehanort talk. Moments of passion like this were rare, but they let Eraqus see a more thoughtful side to Xehanort and gave him much to think about. Xehanort stood up and held out his hand. There was a flash of light as a weapon appeared in his hand. It was metallic in an elaborate pattern with strange imagery etched across it. It stretched out like a sword with a round hilt enclosed around the handle where a chain dangled off the end of it. Xehanort’s keyblade. Most keyblades took a form that reflected their wielder’s heart, but the keyblades wielded by Master Xehanort and Master Eraqus were recently inherited ones. A parting gift, in Xehanort’s case. A piece of history to receive before he went out to make his own history. Xehanort held it up and examined it now. “The keyblade,” he continued. “Look at it. Feel it. What is its true purpose? What is its full story? To be a simple tool used to destroy darkness? It must be more than that. There has to be more to the story than what our Master has told us.” Now Eraqus stood up and there was an edge to his voice as he looked directly at Xehanort. “What if there isn’t, Xehanort? What if you’re wrong? What if you go out there and when you looking for answers, there aren’t any to find?” Xehanort looked back at him curiously. “It will still be better than staying here and never knowing for sure.” Eraqus scoffed and walked away a few paces before rounding on Xehanort again. “You don’t trust people! That’s your problem. You never talk about where you grew up even though there’s apparently nothing to tell and you won’t even give the one who taught you everything you know about the keyblade the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what you know about it.” “I never talk about where I grew up because there’s nothing to tell,” Xehanort replied with a hard voice. He let the keyblade vanish, deciding it would be wise to continue this conversation without it. “And the Master is wise. I am grateful to him, truly, but he cannot know everything there is to know and how will I know if he’s wrong about something unless I test what he’s taught?” “So what are you going to do?” Eraqus challenged him. “Turn to the darkness? Become the very thing we’ve been trained to stop? The Master warned us about these things for our own good!” “Did he!?” Xehanort challenged him back, anger slipping into his voice. “How do you know he’s trying to protect us and isn’t just too afraid of something he doesn’t understand? What if it’s something helpful? What if it’s something powerful? What if it’s something that could give us the whole truth?” Xehanort’s frustrations rose and suddenly he was almost shouting. “Why are you so afraid of the darkness!?” There was a long pause while the two young keyblade Masters stared each other down. Eraqus was taking his time before he gave his answer, allowing the two of them to calm down. The silence was deafening and Xehanort became aware of how loud his breathing was in contrast to it. How had he come this close to losing his composure? And more importantly, why? Looking straight into Xehanort’s eyes, Eraqus replied. “Because I’m afraid I’ll lose you to it,” he said sadly. Xehanort’s resolve melted. He lowered his gaze and turned away vacantly. He couldn’t get through to Eraqus’ absolutes and in his heart he could now see why Eraqus had them. Fear and love. It was an overwhelming pity and Xehanort felt shame for the differences between him and Eraqus. Xehanort had always scoffed at the proverb that “ignorance is bliss” having no greater disdain for anything other than ignorance, but he was faintly aware of a mild desire to know the bliss behind that phrase. To be someone who didn’t seek answers all the time. To be more like Eraqus. It could never be, of course. It wasn’t in his nature nor was it in his heart. Xehanort would always be a seeker of darkness while Eraqus would be more suited for the role of guardian of light. That’s the way things were. Right here, in this moment, Xehanort hoped with all his heart that this divergence in destiny would never divide the two of them more than it had been doing now. Xehanort moved vaguely back to the board and sat down. He needed to distract himself and saw almost immediately that Eraqus had only been pretending to be stuck. He’d already made his move that had not only accounted for Xehanort’s trap, but set up an excellent counter, leaving Xehanort low on options. Xehanort had never seen it coming. “I daresay you’ve become better at this,” Xehanort murmured. Eraqus returned to the board but didn’t sit down. He just smiled at Xehanort despite clearly having no joy to express. Xehanort merely reached forward and made the final move. “Stalemate,” he declared. “An unsatisfying conclusion to a never-ending battle. A fitting result for the end of my time here, wouldn’t you say?” Eraqus just stared at the board in disbelief, which made Xehanort almost want to grin. “Do you ever run out of contingency plans?” he asked with a smile. Xehanort shrugged. “I guess I’ll find out once I’m out there,” he surmised, looking up at the sky. “Speaking of which, I should probably go now.” Eraqus’ posture fell slightly but he made an effort to keep smiling. “Take care of yourself, Master Xehanort. You’re going to be a great Keyblade Master.” Xehanort looked at Eraqus fondly. “As will you, Master Eraqus.” He turned to go. “Wait, Xehanort.” Eraqus called to him. Xehanort stopped and turned his head, waiting to hear what he had to say. “Just tell me, just once. I need to hear it from you.” There was something strange in Eraqus’ voice. “We are friends, right?” Xehanort turned around to face him properly, surprise written across his face. He just looked at Eraqus, who nervously looked back. “I just…” Eraqus continued. “I can never really tell what you’re thinking or feeling and… We don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things and… you don’t…” he trailed off and saw Xehanort still staring at him in bewilderment. Eraqus sighed in frustration and walked over to Xehanort. Xehanort felt his wrist being taken as Eraqus pulled it up and put something in his hand. “It’s just a gift,” Eraqus told him. “A keepsake. Something for me to give you before you go. You don’t have to keep it; in fact, you can throw it away if you want. Maybe I’m not your friend, maybe you don’t even like me, but I’m just giving it to you because you’re my friend.” Eraqus smiled despondently. “You always have been.” Xehanort looked at the gift and felt himself gasp. It was a seashell. “Don’t ask me how I got it,” Eraqus told him, backing away slowly. “But I know that you came from a place with a beach and I figured I’d give you something to remember it by. Then again, you never seemed to miss your home, so I guess it was a dumb idea. I just thought if you ever wanted to look back instead of forward, you could…” he trailed off again and turned away. “Forget it.” He started to walk away. “No,” Xehanort said. “Huh?” Eraqus turned back to Xehanort in surprise. In that time, Xehanort closed the gap between them and had put a hand on Eraqus’ shoulder firmly. “No,” repeated Xehanort. “We aren’t friends.” Eraqus’ face fell and he gave a nod of affirmation, as though he had expected this. “Oh,” he said quietly. “I see.” Xehanort reached over with his other hand, placing it on Eraqus’ other shoulder and looked into his eyes. “You are my brother,” he told him. Eraqus’ eyes widened and his face froze as he registered what Xehanort had said. Xehanort smiled and spoke gently. “You are the only friend I have ever had and you will always be my little brother. If I haven’t done enough to show that, I am so sorry, but it will always be true. No matter how different we may be, no matter where we may go or what we may do or even how we may change, you will always be in my heart.” Xehanort let go of a stunned Eraqus and put a hand to the plate of armour on his shoulder. At once there was a flash of light and he became clad in his keyblade armour, covering him from head to toe. It was heavy and strong, offering protection from both physical blows and the darkness of the lanes between worlds that it was designed for. For now, Xehanort would continue to bear it to start his journey. He turned away and headed for the broken bridge. It had a few names among the residents of this world, but Xehanort and Eraqus had always known it as the broken bridge. It was a stone structure that jutted out from the hilltop before falling away to the ground before. The keyblade wielders in training would use it to practice summoning and using their keyblade gliders. How long ago that had been for Xehanort. It almost felt like his infancy. He walked to the edge of the broken bridge and gazed at the horizon. Now he was definitely ready. “Do yourself a favour and get some students!” Eraqus called to him as Xehanort summoned his keyblade. “If there’s one thing you’ll be good at, it’s teaching. Besides, you shouldn’t be too alone. Get someone to challenge you for a change! See how you like it!” Xehanort glanced back at Eraqus and saw he was grinning happily. Though Eraqus couldn’t see Xehanort’s face through his helmet, he smiled at his old friend one last time before opening a portal in the air and transforming his keyblade into the glider that would carry him through it. He had meant every word that he’d said. Even now he held Eraqus’ shell in his hand and clasped it tightly. He took one last look back at his brother pupil while he waved Xehanort off. “Goodbye,” Xehanort whispered. With his adrenaline pumping, he shot his glider forward into the pathway and departed the Land of Departure. He never looked back ever again. ------------- This is a short story I wrote for the giveaway contest. I always enjoy writing little bits and pieces and contests like this are fun opportunities to get creative. It's a story from Xehanort's perspective, which I tried to keep as accurate to the games and characters as possible. I tried to throw in little nods to the series as a whole with it but also try and accurately represent how an encounter like this might have gone. Xehanort is such an interesting character to write for, especially when exploring his emotional side, which would be more apparent in a younger less knowledgeable version of him. The relationship between him and Eraqus is as interestingly tragic as it is underdeveloped and I wanted to give their past together a little love. I hope you enjoy the story. ------- Xehanort Report 8 My brother pupil Eraqus thinks only in absolutes. He has persuaded himself that light is the only way, but forgets that light cannot exist without shadow. I believe a balance of light and darkness is what sustains our World, but too much of the darkness has been stamped out, disrupting that balance. Someone must tear down this tyranny of light and reorganize the World around the darkness which then creeps back in. Eraqus and I did not see eye to eye. I left, and wandered the World. This was perhaps the first time I felt truly free since that day I departed my boyhood home. But free to do what? I had already shown the Mark and become a Keyblade Master—but having been passed over as Successor, all that remained to me was the road of teacher. Ordinarily, Keyblade Masters take pupils under their wings, malleable minds in which to impress the precepts of the Keyblade wielder and keep our profession alive for generations to come. Was my time drawing to an end, then, after all I had accomplished since casting away the place of my birth? Surely waiting for a quiet death would not do, not when there was still so much I needed to see for myself. Powers help me, I thought, my body is so old…
  4. So I've had this idea for a while. This is supposed to be an alternate timeline where the series is darker than the original one. Note that this is just a random chapter and not the actual start of the story. Originally I wasn't going to write this story, but i was in a writing mood today and was thinking about Kingdom Hearts so I decided to write about this part. I'm afraid I might not actually write the whole story and might instead just add major plot chapters instead. Part of this is because I honestly don't know how I would write the parts that are related to Disney worlds since there isn't much I can change without ruining the essence of the Disney worlds. Anyways I need to sleep Do give this a read and tell me what you guys think and if you would like to see more of this story (possibly the whole thing) in the future. Might just give me motivation to write the whole thing. Chapter (??) DROWNING LIGHT Not long after, the trio walked out of the dark corridor to see a familiar yet daunting sight. The dark, rainy sky coupled with the murky, uninviting atmosphere brought back memories and certainly not happy ones. Not much had changed in The Realm Of Darkness, not much except - as Riku and Mickey immediately noticed - for the fact that the once majestic castle at the center of it all was just barely visible. Only the top of castle's ramparts and towers could be seen amidst the shadows of the several tall buildings in what always seemed to be the central hub of the Realm Of Darkness. "We better hurry", said Riku. Kairi, who was focused on her surroundings, flinched. This part of the Realm Of Darkness certainly felt more terrifying than the castle. "Don't forget, Kairi, we're going to hafta be really alert here. The Realm Of Darkness is a scary place", Mickey told her. Kairi nodded, and the trio began moving towards the darker, rockier area, further and further away from the tall buildings. Kairi kept looking around,her Keyblade at the ready, half expecting a group of Heartless to ambush them any second. She wondered if Master Yen Sid really knew what he was doing, sending her to this place. "Riku, Mickey, you two shall take Kairi with you", Yen Sid ordered, shocking everyone in the room. "But Master Yen Sid, won't that be too dangerous?", Mickey argued. "Maybe you ought to send me instead?", Lea suggested. Master Yen Sid shook his head. "Xehanort is a cunning man, he may have even set traps for Kairi in many of the worlds, but even he may not have considered the idea of us sending Kairi to The Realm Of Darkness on her first mission. It is also safe to assume that many of the events after the Mark Of Mastery exam are no longer events Xehanort can fully predict. Our most recent incident in Twilight Town was something perhaps nobody could have predicted. I believe young Kairi has been trained well enough to hold her own against an enemy, she only needs experience now. Keeping all this in mind, I decided it was best to send her with Mickey and Riku", Yen Sid explained. Everyone looked at Kairi and at each other. It sounded like a big risk, but they could not argue with him. "Don't worry everyone, I'll be fine. I'm going with Riku and the King after all", Kairi tried to assure everyone. When everyone had departed on their missions, Yen Sid laid back in his chair. "This young girl has a far more important task to perform on this mission than everyone thinks. I trust Kairi will be the one to save her when the time comes". The trio continued walking through the rocky terrain. Kairi pinched her arm. "Nope, not a nightmare", she thought, "we're actually here for real". Strange spiky pillars and glowing blue rocks surrounded them, the atmosphere around them had a purple and red mist. There was a certain beauty to this terrifying place. They had been walking and searching for a while and at this point something certainly made them all feel more worried. Where are all the Heartless and Nobodies? The Realm Of Darkness was swarming with them the last time they were here, but now there wasn't a single creature in sight. Kairi's thoughts drifted towards Sora. Where was he? What was he doing? Would everyone be able to return home safely at the end of this journey? Will they really put a stop to Xehanort? Will they- Kairi's focus shifted towards Mickey who looked really depressed. "Is everything okay, Your Majesty?", she asked him, though she already knew what troubled him. "I'm just...so worried", Mickey replied," Master Yen Sid said her light has become so faint, he can barely see it. Master Aqua has been down here for so long I just....I just hope we can get to her in time". "We will! We're getting close to the area where Master Yen Sid told us she might be. Just a short walk and we'll save her", Riku assured Mickey. "I hope s- THERE! A NOBODY", Mickey exclaimed, pointing towards a large group of Dusk Nobodies who seemed to be rushing towards something. A group of them noticed the trio and began charging towards them. "Get ready!", Riku yelled, taking down two of them with one swing of his Keyblade. Kairi looked towards Mickey who had already sliced through four of them. Kairi knew that at this rate, there wouldn't be any left for her so she charged towards the nearest one. Kairi swung her Keyblade, hoping to take it by surprise, but the Dusk executed a dodge that would be impossible for any other creature and got around to her side. Kairi managed to block it's strike and the contact with her Keyblade caused the Dusk to become stunned. Taking advantage, Kairi attacked again, successfully beating her first enemy. She turned around with the widest possible smile on her face. "Guys! I DID IT! I actually beat my first Nobody!", she yelled to her partners, both of whom had finished off all the Nobodies that attacked them. "KAIRI LOOK OUT!", Mickey yelled. Kairi turned around to see a Nobody attacking from above her in a strange spinning motion as her eyes widened and her body prepared itself for the impact. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a small glow on her Keyblade and then, almost as if her Keyblade had controlled her, she moved out of harm's way and appeared behind the Nobody which had now become tangled up in it's own limbs, looking around in confusion - Dusks were kind of stupid that way. Immediately realizing her Keyblade had moved her out of the way she seized the opportunity and struck down the Nobody. Two points for Kairi; zero for the Dusks. "That was close", said Riku. Kairi smiled at him and Mickey, both of whom smiled back. "Now come on! We hafta see where those other Nobodies were going!", Mickey said, running off towards a path hidden by some of the spiky pillars and glowing rocks. They arrived at the beach to find a large horde of Dusks walking towards the sea and they appeared to be fighting someone. The trio heard a loud, terrifying noise that sounded like a mix between a roar and a screech. One bright streak of purple light cut through the Dusks, annihilating them instantly. Right in front of the trio stood a strange, humanoid figure, it appeared to have an armour made of darkness that covered its entire body, but that was not what bothered the trio as much as the weapon the figure held. "That Keyblade! It's- oh no", Mickey was in shock," M-Master Aqua...? It's me! Your old pal Mickey!". Mickey de-materialised his Keyblade and began to approach her."Aqua, it's me". Master Aqua clutched her head and growled, raising Eraqus' Keyblade. "KING MICKEY LOOK OUT", Riku yelled as he dived towards Mickey, pushing the disillusioned king out of the way as an orb made of light and dark exploded where Mickey was standing. "Your Majesty, we have to fight her! She's too dangerous right now, if we weaken her we might have a better chance at saving her", Riku told Mickey. "Alright", Mickey summoned his Keyblade. "Forgive me, Master Aqua", he mumbled to himself as he got ready to fight. "I'm sorry your first mission turned out to be so dangerous. Just stay back and let us take care of this, alright?", Riku said to Kairi. The duo rushed in and the fight began. Master Aqua, The Faded Welp so here it is. I can't guarantee I'll eventually get around to writing this whole story since that would require me to watch a few Disney movies, which I won't have time for until June. Hope you enjoyed.
  5. Let's start a disturbing fanfic. Continue as I begin. One day, Sora was walking down a hill in Twlight Town, until he saw a big button. As he press it, he had turn into a girl! But suddenly......(Continue the story, other users.)
  6. Hey, everyone! I'm grateful for the time you've taken to read this, so I'll make this introductory statement as brief as possible. Let's start with an explanation. My inspiration for this story came from none other than our very own Master Eraqus, whose story, "The Extreme Purifier"(Link), has been floating around the forums for quite some time. After hearing about his own inspiration for his story, a theory video by HMK and Skyward Wing(Link), I thought that it would be fun to pen my own take on the concept of an Extreme Purifier. So over the past few days I've been working on this brief prologue, and I've posted it here to get some outside opinions. I hope you'd be willing to take the time to post your thoughts, but please, do not say the story is perfect as it is. Oh, and just a heads up, some of this could be considered not safe for kids. Nothing graphic, but it definitely isn't Disney levels of innocence. Key: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The arrogance of the human mind is to believe that we understand anything. The humility of the human mind is to understand that we know nothing, but must strive to know all.” ~Nameless Report, Entry 9 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Out of nothing, I awoke. At one moment, there was only darkness around me, but in the next my senses returned like lighting. Pain and irritation shot down my limbs; my vision blurred as the dark veil obscuring my eyes was torn, revealing a harsh world of blinding light. I could barely move, forced to wait and struggle like an infant as my worthless limbs refused to obey me. Something wet stung my face. Tears, perhaps tied to the uneasiness that brewed within my chest. I could recall nothing. No sorrow, no bliss that would awaken such a stirring in my soul. I knew immediately that something was terribly, horribly wrong. The cotton deafness in my ears peeled away, as a barrage of dull noise assaulted me. I could feel something through the cold floor below, something shaking and reverberating. I feared what it was, but why I could not say. I struggled to my feet, my arms and legs burning with the strain. My head swam with a myriad of thoughts as I struggled to take in everything at once. And it was only then that I noticed the dull quakes were growing more frequent. Standing prostrate as I could manage, I peered around the room. Everything was white as snow, at least, all that I could see. I stumbled forward, my impaired vision forcing me to feel my way through the white void. My legs buckled, sending me stumbling forwards, yet I managed to catch myself upon a large cold object. I blinked away the wetness in my eyes, and focused upon my sight as hard as I was able. Slowly, a riveted surface came into view before me, and its definition rang a familiar tone in my mind. “A pillar.” I muttered to myself. Suddenly, the rest of my senses started to come flooding back. My vision sharpened, my ears stiffened, and my hands clenched shut. A choking breath caught in my throat as I was briefly overwhelmed, yet I managed to fight it off. Now at least partially lucid, I finally managed to take a full view of the room in which I found myself. Everything looked as though it had been white-washed, from the floors to the aforementioned pillars, an almost countless number of which adorned the large halls. They climbed high into the space above my head, disappearing into heights which my eyes could not reach. The room truly was massive; I could see very little beyond the spires that jutted up from the floor around me. After getting my bearings, I once again took notice of the monotonous quaking still resounding all around me. With little else to occupy myself with, I resolved to find the source of whatever the strange sound was, and hopefully some kind of clue that would shed light on where I was. I took a few careful steps, the dull reverberations almost throwing me off balance at certain points. Using the pillars to support myself, I proceeded through the seemingly endless room, towards what I thought may be the source of the incessant noise. Luckily, it seemed like my guesses were paying off, as I could sense the quakes growing louder as I continued on. Methodically gauging the distance to each thump, I slowly began working my way towards the epicenter. As I approached, I noticed that the pillars around me began to diverge and become less clustered in their arrangement. By observing the patterns in the pillars, I made a guess that they were gradually opening up to a large and expansive area. After a few more moments of careful treading, the Pillars began to disappear completely from my field of vision, becoming too distant for my eyes to follow. I found myself in a vast expanse of white, a place almost devoid of being, save for one lone structure. Not too far ahead, I noticed a large and extravagant marble throne, upon which stood a tall, fair woman. She possessed long and golden hair that flowed down her sprawling white robes, and wore an ornate mask that obscured her eyes. Kneeling before the woman was a haggard man, gasping for air and struggling to keep himself upright. In his hand he held a large key, which he used to support himself as he tried to stand. With some effort he found his footing, and immediately charged forward with a deafening yell. He braced the key with both of his hands, and in a single swing brought his full momentum crashing towards the woman, who merely stood, unfazed. I watched in confusion as the man’s strike was stopped short in the middle of the air, and as he was thrown back like a rag doll. Yet, despite seemingly striking nothing, the contact of the man’s attack reverberated through the chamber in an ear-splitting clang, almost as if he had struck an iron wall. The peal was so unbearable, that I was forced to cover my ears in an attempt to keep out the horrible noise. Following the man’s strike, a deft rumble shook the foundation at my feet, nearly rocking me to the ground. After the shock-wave had passed, I looked up and slowly began to remove my hands from my ears. The man, despite being tossed aside, quickly found his footing, and proceeded to leap forward for a second strike. I preemptively moved to cover my ears once more, as again the man’s attack merely bounced off an invisible wall, and another agonizing metal screech rang through the air. I looked up. The man who had been attacking knelt again before the woman, struggling to catch his breath. Suddenly, as if from nothingness, a voice sounded all around me, invading my mind and sending a shiver down my spine. I couldn’t even put into words how it felt; indescribably soothing, yet somehow terrifying, malicious and shrill all at once. Slowly, the voice began to form words from thin air, and those words began to weave into piercing thoughts. From the emptiness, it spoke. “Why do you fight, knowing what you know? Why do you resist that which must come to pass? You have seen the end… and it is soon. In time all will be complete and you will be revealed for what you truly are; pitiful worms mewling for the promise of a long-dead salvation. And you will fight and bicker and destroy for that which destroys you, and I will watch as this pitiful world is reborn into a land of promise and jubilation. You will be remembered as nothing more than a villain who fought this very salvation I sought for you, if you are fortunate enough to be remembered at all. So I ask again, why do you fight?” All was quiet. A terrible sense of dread filled my heart, something darker than anything I could possibly imagine was taking place. My eyes darted around the room, as I struggled to stifle my shivering body. Where had the voice come from? The man had done nothing, and the woman’s mouth had yet to move. Was there someone else here? Suddenly, the silence was broken by something almost foreign to me at this point, the sound of another person’s voice. The man rose to his feet, and addressed the woman directly. “What’s become of you?” He said softly. “You were once so full of hope, so full of joy. Your smile brought comfort to all; you could mend a broken soul and patch a shattered heart. You sought to make the world a better place… not to burn it down and start a new one!” The man threw his arm to the side in anger. “You’ve changed.” He muttered bitterly. “You’re no savior, you’re a monster.” The man raised his weapon and braced himself. “And you need to be stopped.” He finished. The woman showed no signs of emotion, no change in expression that would show the man’s words impacted her at all, if they were even meant for her in the first place. Once again, a cold chill racked my body, as the voice returned to speak once more. “Your words mean nothing, and your actions, even less. You know that you cannot defeat me, not now. There remain only two… and soon they will both receive their just rewards. As for the one who fights alongside you…” the voice stopped, and with it, my heart. A bitter wind blew by as I was assaulted with an indescribable sense of dread. “My dear!” The voice echoed. “Why, I didn’t see you there!” The woman turned towards me, her expression terribly lifeless as her concealed eyes shook my soul with their invisible glare. Suddenly, the man turned to face me, shocked and terrified. “Raid!” He called out, as he lunged for me with blinding speed. Almost faster than my eyes could follow, a large white spear appeared in the woman’s hands, and in the time it took for me to draw in another haggard breath, she had sent it flying towards my heart. Time froze, and it felt like everything would hang forever more in motionless terror. But in a split second that felt like an eternity, time began again. I looked up to see the man standing before me, his soft face and warm blue eyes meeting my terrified gaze. A large white spear-head stained in blood jutted from his chest. Struggling to speak, he muttered the words, “Run.” I was unable to think. Unable to breath. All I could do was turn and flee as fast as I could. The pillars surrounding the area began to shake uncontrollably, as a horrible scream ripped through the vast chamber. From within the pealing shriek, the voice from before called out in a shrill echo: “No! You will not escape me again!” I ran as fast as I could, not daring a second to look back. The pillars began to collapse around me, as darkness slowly started to encroach upon my vision. I felt my legs grow weak, and the air grow heavy. I felt countless arms reaching for me, desperately trying to pull me into the abyss. I felt pain and terror the likes of which I could have never even imagined. And then, everything faded to black. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. “Aqua never understood why Terra liked the game so much. She especially never understood why she was so bad at it.” Checkmate All was quiet in the library. As it well should be, Aqua thought to herself, for a non-quiet library is an abomination to the senses. Aqua sat at a rather large table lain out amidst the countless scores of book-shelves, a small tome in her hands and a glazed look in her eyes. Yes, again, all was quiet. As it well should be. “Aqua.” It was taking a lot of effort to ignore him nowadays, but she was getting good at it. “Aqua.” Maybe not good enough. “Aqua!” Aqua sighed. Listlessly, she turned her spectacled eyes to the side and spoke audibly. “Yes, what is it, Terra?” She asked, trying her best to sound annoyed. Aqua didn’t know much of what she expected in return from her famously stubborn companion. Another question, perhaps? Some kind of biting or sarcastic remark? Perhaps even, if she dared herself fortunate, a healthy round of witty banter? Instead, all she received was a loud thump as Terra’s crestfallen image fell before her on the table. He turned to look at her, his eyes lidded and lax. “I’m bored.” Oh dear. Now this simply wouldn’t do at all. Aqua’s expression shifted to one of odd disgust coupled with something almost akin to pity. Fortunately, she managed to compose herself, and after masking her change in demeanor with a brief sigh, Aqua quickly found her way back to her callous ways. Feigning apathy, Aqua turned her gaze back towards her book and replied, “You’re in a library, Terra. Read a book.” Terra made some kind of noise, a mix between a sigh and some kind of long drawn out grunt, as he stood prostrate once more. He reached his arms outwards, motioning to the numerous shelves of books that surrounded them. “Aqua, I’ve lived here my entire life!” He said quite loudly. “I’ve read all these books. Seriously, you think the master would update his collection after 20 years, but NO!” Terra slumped over in defeat, but still managed to keep his head high. Aqua was trying her best to look uninterested, even though it was getting exceedingly difficult. “Have you ever thought about, oh, I don’t know, re-reading them?” She said, still refusing to turn from her book that she stopped reading quite a while ago. Terra turned towards her, a look of disdain on his face. “Aqua, I’m not like you. I’m not crazy enough to read through foreign Keyblade War erotica 7 times and actually enjoy it.” He finished with a slight smile on his face. “H-hey!” Aqua said, an octave higher than before. In a single motion, she stood and turned towards Terra, her cheeks red and her eyes furious. “Now you listen to me! ‘Passions of the Star Fruit’ is an underrated masterpiece, infinitely better than that primordial drivel you fill your Neanderthal brain with!” Terra’s smile grew wider at her words, as he stood up straight. “So, your tastes are a little more sophisticated, huh? Perhaps even… hierarchical…?” Aqua’s heart and face both began to fall as she slowly came to realize what Terra was building towards. “No.” She said suddenly. Terra’s unbearably cocky grin grew even wider. “One game. That’s all I want!” Aqua’s stare turned deadly, as she hissed out her response, “Not. On your. LIFE.” Terra’s smile fell somewhat, but it was too late to dissuade him. He had his heart set on one thing now. The game of kings. “Chess.” He said. “One game, winner gets the library all to themselves, and all the quiet that comes with it.” Aqua covered her ears in defiance; she wouldn’t let his words poison her resolve. “No!” She exclaimed as she turned to run out the door. “Never! NEVER!!!” On her mad dash out of the library, Aqua could have sworn she saw Ven passing by, a look of utter confusion on his face. But she couldn’t afford to stop and explain. All she could do was hold out faith that one day he would understand. And that he would never play Chess with Terra so long as he lived. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Aqua was good at a lot of things. She was good at chores. She was good at magic. She was good at reading and writing, and she fancied herself a competent critic. She could make wonders in the kitchen, and the things she could do with a deck of cards would boggle the mind of even the most accomplished illusionists. Terra was good at none of those things. But it’s not like that mattered much, Terra never really wanted to be good at anything like that. All he ever wanted to do was fight, which is why Aqua never understood why he loved Chess so much. Aqua wasn’t good at Chess. It was actually kind of shocking, really. Chess is more a game about outwitting your opponent than just plowing through them, which is why she should be good at it. But no, for some unfathomable reason, Aqua was absolutely awful when it came to the so-called game of kings. Perhaps it was some kind of cosmic mishap that occurred as she was being put together within her mother’s womb, Aqua didn’t know. But all that mattered to her was that she was utterly helpless when playing on a chess board. Terra, on the other hand, was a natural. It made no sense, and to be honest, it was actually kind of scary sometimes. No one could beat him. Not Ven, not the Master, not even people from other worlds. And least of all, especially not Aqua. It infuriated her to no end, and Terra knew this. It was something that she would never be able to change, something besides fighting that Terra was better at than her! Every time Aqua would do something incredible, or reach some kind of milestone, it didn’t matter. Because no matter what she did, Terra was always better at Chess than her. And no amount of accomplishments would ever change that. Learned how to summon fairies? Terra’s still better at Chess. Finished writing a novel? Terra’s still better at Chess. Learned Mega-Flare? Terra’s still better at Chess. Defeated a time traveling abomination of nature? Actually, Terra did that too, so it doesn’t really count, but you get the idea. And so, here she was. Hiding in a storage closet like a frightened little girl, the very notion of a simple game striking fear into her soul. “Aqua.” Terra’s voice sounded from outside. Aqua stilled her breathing, trying to trick herself into thinking that made her harder to find. “Aqua, I know you’re in there.” His voice sounded once again, but she wasn’t listening. She still had her hands to her ears. “Aqua, the Master taught us how to sense each-other’s auras years ago. You know that hiding is pointless.” He said, his voice muffled by the wall between them. Of course, Aqua knew that. But that didn’t mean that she was ready to accept it. “Aqua, please. Just one game, and I promise I’ll leave you alone.” Aqua pouted. He said please. His voice resounded one last time. “Please.” She sighed. He said it again. Carefully, she moved to unlock the door to her little hidey-hole. It opened to reveal Terra standing at the entrance, looking a little sad, but still expecting an answer. Aqua looked at him, her face tinted with small hints of worry and reluctance. “One game, on one condition.” She said. Terra’s eyes lit up. “Anything.” Aqua’s eyes narrowed in response as she grabbed his throat and pulled him in close. “Never. Again.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Aqua begrudgingly took her seat at the table. Terra had already set up the game in the library, figures. He knew she would crack. Terra sat opposite Aqua, his cocky grin now out in full force. He rubbed his hands together excitedly as he gazed out over the chess board and said, “Alright, let’s get this show on the road.” Aqua rolled her eyes. The amount of joy he was taking in this was rather sickening. Terra looked over at Aqua, his smile turning into a sly grin. “Ladies first.” He said, as he motioned for her to proceed. Aqua scoffed. “How courteous of you.” She said. Aqua turned her attention back towards the board, and began to absentmindedly stroke her chin in deep thought. Don’t misunderstand; she hated the game, but if this was really going to be the last time she played with Terra, she wanted to give it everything she had. After a few pensive moments, Aqua moved one of her pieces forwards. She was hoping to lead Terra into a trap too obvious for him to see, so that she could claim some of his more important pieces. Aqua may have been bad at the game, but she knew Terra’s style. He would try to win with as many casualties as possible, just to add insult to injury. Terra’s sly grin returned as control shifted to his side. “My turn.” He said maliciously. In a single motion, he moved one of his pawns to f3, a first move that almost always set the flow of the game in the opponents favor. Aqua almost jumped. The move was mad, even for Terra’s standards. She turned to look at him, and practically yelled, “Are you crazy?” Terra’s only response was to sit back, confidently, with that ever-present grin still etched on his face. “Your move.” Aqua’s eyes narrowed. Okay, so that’s how he wants to play. What followed was too much for any single person to recall. In what can only be described as a flurry of Chess bound fury, Aqua and Terra exchanged move for move on a second by second basis. For every piece that Aqua lost, Terra would go out of his way to make sure he lost two in exchange. And yet, somehow, Aqua still found herself on the losing end of things at every step of the way. In a matter of moments, the game-board had been whittled down to a sparse few pieces, and any outside observer would have immediately called it a stalemate. But Aqua knew better, Terra would never allow for something so menial. It was always part of the plan But then, the tempo shifted. Terra stopped, and his eyes grew wide. He paused for several moments, as he surveyed the aftermath of his endurance match with Aqua. Stunned, he looked up and spoke clearly. “Wow, Aqua. You might actually win this time.” Aqua’s eyes widened in response, as she too looked down upon the game-board. Sure enough, Terra had been locked into a desperate position. With only a pawn and two rooks left in addition to the king, his case seemed hopeless. Aqua couldn’t believe it. She was almost too afraid to believe it. As the utter crushing weight of the situation finally began to dawn upon her, the corners of Aqua’s mouth began to contort into a demented and toothy grin. “You’re right.” She muttered. “You’re right!” She said again, almost trying to convince herself even further. She looked up at Terra, whose expression was slowly growing increasingly distressed. His eyes darted back and forth across the game board, his mind desperately trying to find an impossible solution to an impossible situation. And Aqua was loving every moment. So, this is what the legendary Terra looked like when he was desperate. Delicious. Terra had said nothing, and he honestly didn’t need to. His face belied his dying confidence, and the slow realization of just how dire the situation really was. It truly looked like he would fold at any moment. Now, all that remained was the final move. Relishing the moment, Aqua leaned over the table, her slightly disjointed expression filling Terra’s haggard vision. It was time for the final blow. “Terra.” She mockingly jabbed. “It’s your move.” And just when it seemed like the entire world was about to stand still, fate decided to intervene. Of course it did. It always did. “TERRA! AQUA!” The Master’s voice resounded from outside. Terra’s hypnotized gaze on the Chess board broke as he turned towards where the voice sounded. Aqua’s crooked smile disappeared as she also turned in sort, her face red with burning fury. “WHAT!?” Aqua snapped in frustration. She really didn’t care what the Master thought of her right now, she could apologize when she was lucid. If the Master was surprised at Aqua’s tone, he certainly didn’t sound like it. “I need your help! I think Ventus is trying to fly on his Keyblade!” Aqua sighed, venting her inner rage as she started to calm down. “Master, I’m sure that you can handle –“ “He’s about to jump off the main plaza!” Aqua and Terra immediately turned to meet each-other’s gaze, their expressions shifting to a sour mix of worry and a strange kind of look that said, “not again”. “VEN!!!” They yelled simultaneously, as the two proceeded to high-tail it out the library and towards the front of the castle. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Aqua sighed as she placed a gentle hand upon her forehead, trying to quell the headache her young friend’s antics had brought. For hindsight, she replayed what he said in her mind, something along the lines of “Don’t worry! If I can’t fly, I’ll just come back up and try again!” Aqua sighed once more, although she had to give Ven credit. He could certainly make a very compelling argument for jumping to his demise. However, now that he was firmly planted in the study hall with an intimidating round of physics lectures ahead of him, Aqua could finally get back to her game with Terra. Turning into the library, Aqua was hardly surprised to see Terra waiting for her, pensively looking over the Chess board once again. He had left the scene a little earlier than Aqua, since Ven specifically demanded that she stay and tell him how old she was when she learned how to fly the Keyblade (she was sixteen, by the way. She beat Terra by a year.) Aqua wasn’t worried about Terra being alone with the board, however; she knew that he would never cheat at a game that meant so much to him. Aqua let a cocky grin adorn her features as she moved to sit back down. “You can look all you want, Terra, but sooner or later you’ll have to face the facts.” She said, her cockiness reaching the levels of Terra in his prime. “The simple truth is, you’ve finally los-” “Ah!” Terra finally said, as he made a quick motion with his Rook, capturing Aqua’s king in a single, devastating motion. “Child’s play.” He said confidently, as he crossed his arms in victory. “Checkmate, Kiro.” Aqua froze. She didn’t hear that. He was lying. What, one final jab to try and crush her spirit? Pathetic, simple! You’ll have to try harder than that, Terra. She looked down. Her king was gone. It made sense. No, this wasn’t happening. It just wasn’t. Aqua simply REFUSES to let it happen. Oh no. No, no, no, no. It was happening. It was. And Aqua couldn’t change it. She couldn’t change anything. She felt like a little girl again. Helpless, frail. She hated feeling that way. How could he do this? How could he make her feel this way? No, this was her fault. She made her feel like this. It was her fault. It was all her fault. That was just about the breaking point. Aqua could handle a lot of things. She could handle Amnesia, just fine. She didn’t need a majority of that part of her life, anyhow. She could handle the possibility of never having a boyfriend, because hey, that just gave her more time for her books. She could even handle one of her only friends almost getting himself killed, though that was pushing it. But this? Losing to Terra in Chess, even one more time? She simply couldn’t take it. And to top it all off, he used her nickname. How dare he. Aqua’s right eyebrow began to twitch rapidly, as her eyes started darting back and forth. She began to swing her arms sporadically, as her mind slowly began to fade into unfathomable pain and rage. All Terra could do was look on in concern and slight confusion. “Uhm, Aqua?” Suddenly, she turned to look at him, and yelled out something quite unexpected. “Swong.” It didn’t make much sense, of course. And Aqua never really found out why she said it, but everyone seemed to agree that it fit the moment. In a single, jerky motion, Aqua lept from her chair and out of the library. She sprinted down the halls while continuing to swing her arms wildly, as she began to laugh like a maniac. Terra got out of his chair, and looked back at her as she gallivanted off. “Does this mean you’re not open to a rematch?” He yelled after her. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Aqua ran out of the Castle and through the main plaza, passing Ven and the Master on her way out. Needless to say, Eraqus was confused, and Ven was terrified. “Stay here, Ventus.” Eraqus said, as he began to follow Aqua, perplexed. Terra immediately followed out of the building, and quickly took notice of Ventus. “Ven!” He called out, as he stopped and knelt before him. “Hey, did Aqua happen to pass by here?” He asked. Ven’s only response was a confused, “Uhm…” Terra looked up in a start, as a large pillar of flame erupted from the sparring grounds. He looked back at Ven and said, “Thanks, Ven, I’ll be back in a bit. Trust me; this doesn’t happen as often as you’d think.” He patted Ven on the shoulder, and then proceeded to run off towards Aqua. Eraqus stood before the large tornado of fire that had appeared not too far ahead of him, completely at a loss. “Aqua?” He spoke out, “Are you alright?” In response, Aqua’s voice sounded from within the tornado. “OF COURSE I AM, MASTER! WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK SUCH A THING??? I JUST HAVE TO SHOOT A COUPLE THOUSAND FIREBALLS AT THESE STUPID FLOATING METAL RINGS!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!” Immediately following Aqua’s words, several balls of flame emerged from within the tornado and relentlessly struck the training equipment nearby. Fortunately, it was indestructible. It was then that Terra arrived on the scene. Stopping besides his master, he was forced to shield his eyes from the burning air and blinding light of Aqua’s fire. “She’s really going at it, huh?” Eraqus nodded in response. Terra turned towards the Master, and said, “Should we do anything?” Eraqus shook his head. “She… just needs some time.” He said. Terra looked back towards the giant pillar of flame burning before him, and the maniacal laughter that continued to sound within. Yeah, that was probably a good idea. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ It took Aqua a good half hour to burn herself out. Honestly, if she could have, she would have gone on for days. But fortunately enough for her companions, she had a finite magic pool. Now, she lay upon a large circle of scorched grass, staring up at the sky. Tinted orange by the setting sun, it probably helped contribute to her growing sense of peace. Terra’s face entered her vision. Well, it was nice while it lasted. He looked surprisingly relaxed, given what had just happened. But then again, so did Aqua. “Hey.” He said. Aqua’s expression remained placid. “Hey.” She replied. Terra sighed, as he took a seat beside her. “You scared the life out of Ven, you know.” Aqua stayed motionless. “Sorry. I’ll apologize to him when we get back to the castle.” Terra nodded. “You better.” A long moment of silence followed, as both sat calmly before the sunset. Suddenly, Terra broke the stagnant pause. “I cheated.” Aqua’s eyes widened, as she finally sat up. She turned to look at Terra, and asked incredulously, “What?” Terra sighed once more. He turned to look at her. “I cheated. I moved before we left… and again when we got back. We skipped your last turn, so you would have won.” Aqua’s stare was piercing, almost empty. Terra could tell that she was still processing what he said. Finally, she managed a smile. “Thank you, Ara.” With that, she stood, brushed herself off, and walked away. Terra turned to watch her leave, and blinked. It was rare for them to use each-other’s nicknames, but that was probably the last thing on his mind. “Thank you…?” He said, to no-one in particular. Still a little surprised, Terra turned away and sighed. For a while, he sat quietly, mewling over the day’s events. If nothing else, it certainly turned out a bit more exciting than he thought it would at first. Maybe that was good enough.
  8. [This is a story about how Terra and Ventus became friends. This is my contest entry.] --- “Terra, you can’t keep putting this off.” Terra stopped gazing at the floor and looked up to meet the frustrated eyes staring back at him. Awkwardly, Terra turned away to stare at something else while he searched for a response. She was right, of course. Aqua was usually right and Terra took a moment to be thankful that she never rubbed that fact in. She may be about the same age as him but sometimes she seemed a lot older. She was standing across from him with her arms folded while he leaned against the corridor wall, clearly uncomfortable. When he couldn’t think of anything to say, Aqua spoke again. “He’s been getting a lot better. Really! I’ve spoken to him; Master Eraqus has spoken to him. Why won’t you go talk to him?” Terra sighed. He had to say something. It might as well be the truth. “I’m worried I might say the wrong thing again. I messed him up pretty badly the last time I tried to talk to him. What if I…?” “Terra,” Aqua softened. “That wasn’t your fault; you just didn’t know. Don’t blame yourself.” When Terra hung his head, Aqua sighed. “Well, don’t blame yourself anymore. Forget about it and just start over.” Is it that easy? Terra wanted to move on from this more than anything right now, but every time he remembered those cries he would go back to feeling terrible. He needed to atone for this, somehow. “What am I supposed to say to him?” He looked back up at Aqua. “How do I make things up to him?” His face must have had shame written across it, because Aqua took sympathy and stepped towards him. “Just go in there and be his friend. Once you’re there, you’ll know what to do.” She put a hand on his shoulder. “You need to be more confident in yourself, Terra. You can do this.” Terra gave her a shaky smile then hesitated to reply, still enwrapped in doubts and nerves. Aqua turned and started walking away. “If you don’t go talk to him, I’ll stop going easy on you during sparring.” Despite himself, Terra couldn’t help but give out a brief laugh. It wasn’t much but it made him feel better. Once he’d relaxed again he scratched his head, considering Aqua’s words. Terra wanted to be more confident in himself, but that was easier said than done. He wasn’t afraid to fight anything, but talking to people was a very different story. He appreciated being able to chat with Aqua the way they did. As Terra had these thoughts, it occurred to him that the support he had in Aqua was exactly the kind of thing he needed to give. Be his friend. That’s what Aqua was doing for Terra right now. Terra had to take that example in turn and pay it forward. If the least he could do was make him laugh, that was enough. Terra straightened up and made up his mind. He made his way down the corridor until he reached the right room. Originally this had just been one of many spare rooms in the castle, but now the door had a name plate attached to it where it had previously been bare. This was new since Terra had last been here. VENTUS Clearly what Master Eraqus had told them was true; Ventus was going to live with them from now on. Reading the name on the door filled Terra’s stomach with butterflies again. Suddenly his confidence was draining. He nervously reached for the door handle, but stopped himself. I probably shouldn’t just walk in. He slowly raised his hand to knock on the door, but held back at the last second. I’ll probably disturb him; I’m not a gentle knocker. Terra cleared his throat to call Ventus’ name and ask permission to enter, but the words were caught in his throat. He’ll probably freak out when he hears my voice. Dejected, Terra turned around to walk away and almost bumped into Aqua, who looked like she’d been watching him the whole time. She was shaking her head, she had her hands on her hips, she was sighing and she even looked like she was trying not to laugh. Terra stammered to make an excuse but Aqua was already walking past him. “Let me help,” she muttered, rolling her eyes. Before Terra could stop her, she had her hand on the handle and was opening the door. She did so gently, with an air of caution that was not lost on Terra. “Ventus? It’s me, Aqua. Can I come in?” There was silence, but Ventus must have nodded because then Aqua was stepping into the room and waving at Terra, beckoning him to come in as well. Fighting every impulse in his body, Terra stiffly followed her in. The room was still quite bare. Nothing but the simple necessities currently decorated it, but Ventus didn’t have much personality to personalise it with yet, nor had he been living here very long. Terra felt a wave of sympathy as he remembered that Ventus had no idea who he was, so how could Ventus know what kind of room to live in? The room is as empty as his memories, Terra reflected sadly. But with a spark of hope, he thought: It won’t be empty for long. Ventus himself was sitting upright on the edge of his bed, no book in hand, no creases on his covers, no sign that he’d been doing anything else when they’d walked in. With his current state of mind, he could easily have been doing that for hours. He was smiling faintly at Aqua, as though he were practising happiness, but when he saw Terra his smile faded. Terra could feel his own heart sinking but there wasn’t a trace of fear or accusation on Ventus’ face, just curiosity and a blank lack of recognition. “Do you remember Terra?” Aqua asked him softly, gesturing to Terra. “…Terra.” Ventus mused, staring at him. Terra made himself stare back and tried to look friendly. I probably look like guilt itself. There was a pause while Ventus sat in thought. It started to grow uncomfortably long and Terra was beginning to wonder if Ventus even remembered what he was trying to remember when his eyebrows furrowed slightly and he finally said: “…I think so.” Terra was heavily regretting every second of this. “You know, he doesn’t have to remember me,” he whispered to Aqua. “Given what happened…” Aqua took his point. “It’s okay, Ventus. You only met Terra once before. He’d like to talk to you so that you two can get to know each other.” Ventus looked at her as she spoke, hopefully registering what she was saying. “Okay?” she added after a pause. “Okay,” Ventus replied. He seemed impossible to read, but then Terra reminded himself there was nothing to read. Not for the first time, Terra wondered what had happened to cause Ventus to lose all his memories like this. He wanted to help, but he was still afraid. “Okay,” Aqua finished. “I’ll leave you two alone.” She must have spotted Terra’s fear because right before she left, she whispered “Be brave,” to him. She closed the door behind her, leaving Terra awkwardly standing around the centre of the room, alone with Ventus. Ventus gazed at Terra vacantly, while Terra glanced about as he fumbled for something to say. Okay, how do I start talking to him? Terra could never find the right words to say, as evidenced by his last talk with Ven. I should say ‘Hello’ or something first. Wait, did I already say hello? Will he find it weird if I say hello twice? At this point, Terra was certain Ventus would find anything he said weird. How much time had passed already? 30 seconds? A minute? 5 minutes? It felt like an age and nobody had said anything. Finally Terra went for a greeting. “Um, hi there.” He threw in a smile and a wave, trying to be welcoming. “Oh, hello.” Ventus responded as though Terra had just walked in. Even so, Terra was sure Ventus must have found him strange. It had been so easy to talk to him the first time, but now Terra felt disarmed. He had to find a way to make them both comfortable. “So…” Terra began, before he was even sure what he wanted to say. Whatever you do, don’t ask him a question. Don’t ask him a question. Do not ask him a question. “…How are you?” Terra mentally buried his face in his hands. “I’m fine.” Ventus replied without missing a beat. Oh good, he is getting better. However, Terra was sure he was about to mess him up again. Be his friend. Try and make him laugh. “Great! That’s really good. That’s…” Terra tried but he couldn’t think of any humour that Ventus was likely to get at this stage. Forget it. Just talk to him. Talk to him without asking any more questions. Terra tried to think of something to talk about, but he was unsure what Ventus would be interested in. No questions! “What do you want to talk about?” Terra mentally buried his head in the ground. “I don’t know,” came the response. Terra would have appreciated it if this kid just said more than a few words at a time. He began to feel very isolated standing in the one spot. He gingerly trod towards a table to try and find something to distract them. He didn’t expect the sudden remark that came next. “You look nervous, Terra.” “Huh?” Terra spun around looking back, perhaps a little too sharply. Ventus hadn’t moved and was still looking at him but his face showed concern. More than that, Terra had heard concern in his voice. So he isn’t completely empty. “Are you okay?” Ventus asked. “I-I’m fine,” Terra replied. Terra still felt foolish, but this time he also felt renewed. I’ve been forgetting to just talk to him like a real person. Ventus had been an unstable and even alien element until a few moments ago. Terra had been letting his fear get in the way of talking to a friend. He hadn’t been letting his heart do the talking. That was going to change now. “How about I tell you a little bit about myself?” “Okay,” Ventus nodded and actually smiled slightly. His eyes still had a ghostly quality to them, but he had a heart like everyone else and Terra was determined to help him find it. With newfound confidence, Terra opened up to him. They spoke for nearly an hour. Terra told him about where he came from and how he came to the Land of Departure. He talked with him about learning under Master Eraqus and how he was almost as close as a father to Terra. He told Ventus about his friendship with Aqua and how both of them were training to become keyblade Masters. When he told Ventus that becoming keyblade Masters was a shared dream of theirs, Ventus nodded and supposed aloud that since he would be staying with them, he’d have that dream as well. Terra encouraged him to find a dream he really wanted, something he cared about most of all and to give it everything he had, with whatever he had. “Thank you, Terra.” Ventus almost seemed to have brightened over their conversation. “You’re very nice.” For the first time in a while, Terra felt self-aware again, but now he was able to shrug it off easily. He was having a good time with the kid. He was a little spacey, but he listened to everything Terra said with genuine interest. Terra had also never known that he had so much to talk about. He felt like he was learning about both of them. It was very pleasant. “Well, yeah. I want to be your friend.” Ventus looked surprised. “You want to be my friend? Really?” His seriousness nearly made Terra chuckle. “Of course! I want to help you. I want to look out for you and be there for you. I want to be your friend, Ven.” The words came easily to him, but that was probably because they came from the heart. While still wanting to make up for their first meeting, Terra had really grown to care about Ventus and felt protective of him as though he were an older brother. “Do you want to be my friend?” Ventus looked truly happy as he replied. “Yeah, I sure do!” Then he frowned for a moment. “Wait. You called me Ven. But my name’s Ventus.” Terra smiled. “I know. I called you Ven as a sort of nickname. It’s shorter than Ventus and friendlier sounding. Is that okay? If you don’t like it, I won’t call you it.” Ventus considered for a moment. “So a nickname is a shorter name for friends? And you think ‘Ven’ could be my nickname?” Terra could tell Ventus had a lot to learn, but he wouldn’t resent a second spent teaching him. “Yeah,” Terra made a little arm-pump gesture, an excitable quirk he’d acquired over the years. “My friend, Ven.” Ventus paused for a moment, then smiled more broadly than he ever had. Terra laughed cheerfully. “Yeah! Ven. I like it, Terra. I can tell my friends to call me that! Should I tell Aqua to call me that?” “Definitely! Aqua would love to be your friend.” “What about Master Eraqus?” “Uh, well… He’s our Master so it’s a little different. I guess he can call you that if he wants.” Terra stood up and looked out the window. “You know, we’ve got a few hours left of sunlight. You want to go out and train for a bit? Together?” “Okay, let’s do that.” “Do you know the way to the training grounds? I could race you.” Terra had intended to go easy on Ven, but was surprised to discover just how fast Ven could run. He sped down the corridor where he shot past Aqua who had shouted a startled “Ventus?” at the sight of him only to hear an over-the shoulder cry of “Call me Ven!” Despite Ven’s claims, he actually didn’t know his way to training grounds and did two circuits of the castle before making it outside where Terra was waiting. The two of them had laughed over it, although Eraqus later complained that next time he’d like a little more warning before his catatonic guest nearly knocked him over. Aqua soon joined the two in their training, which eventually just became three friends hanging out. The trio spent that night lying under the cloudless night sky, watching for meteors and shooting stars.
  9. -1- Departing Refrain Roaring wind and swirling blacks and purples blanketed everything. His eyes were squeezed shut as the world stretched and tore; pulled backward through the Space Between, there was nothing that could be done as the island was ripped into infinitesimal pieces beneath his feet. His brown hair was matted down hard around his face, damp and freezing against his forehead. His arms were pressed to his sides as he traveled, though he wouldn't have had the strength to fight whatever was pulling him along if he wanted to. He ground his teeth, pulled faster and faster through the darkness, feeling as though his legs might be left behind if it didn't slow down. Bright white light suddenly burst through the tiny gap in his eyelids. The blue eyes snapped open as the urgent pulling sensation gave way to gravity; his arms and legs came free, his neck swung up to see what he was flying toward as he was blasted from the portal. A sizzle filled the air as long black claws raked out after his body, snaking through the air toward him, as if it were going to snatch him like a fish on a hook and send him whizzing back the other way. Arms came up to shield his body unnecessarily; the short-lived portal snapped shut only moments after his exit, the shadowy claws bursting into wisps of smoke before his eyes. His relief was cut off by the wall he slammed against. Sneaky buggers, walls. His body clung to its yellowed surface for a moment, leaving the former Keyblade Master to slowly peel off and fall to the dirt with an unceremonious thump. Pain reverberated through all his limbs, spreading from the back of his head through his limbs, pulsing in his marred fingertips. His bare hands were scraped and already covered in dirt and sand. They were shaking as he tried to bring his arms under him to bear his weight. His head rose slowly, the soaked brown spikes clinging to his face as he tried to gather himself. His voice was a hoarse whisper, barely able to reach his own ears, "No... No, no!" He coughed, his whole body shuddering once as his arm slipped, bringing him back down to the earth. Lying on his stomach for minutes that felt like lifetimes, he closed his blue eyes once more as he silently wished himself away from his dirty resting spot. As he teetered on the edge of consciousness, his mind forcing him to relive the confrontation once more. He had been sitting on the floor of his house, back against one of the couches in the living room, that silly ear to ear grin spread over his face. His hands were wrapped around a spiky auburn haired young boy, both of them laughing as they wrestled on the floor. A typical summer night, it seemed; roughhousing on the floor, shooed inside by an oncoming storm. As dusk wove into evening, and his son was ushered on to bed by his wife. The retired Keybearer took a moment to relax on the carpet, letting his head sink down into the cushions of the couch, staring up at the ceiling fan as it spun hypnotically. The smile still on his lips, he pushed himself to his feet. "Dad?" The shaky voice of a younger girl echoed down the stairs to him. As she asked him to come up, he was already taking two steps at a time, for no particular reason other than he could! He hopped around the corner, poking his head into the room. Another auburn haired kid was kneeling on the bed in her pajamas, pointing out the window to something. Sora chuckled, pushing some of his own light brown locks out of his eyes as he walked over to the window to see what was so startling. He ruffled the long red-brown tresses that made her look so much like her mother as he spoke, "It's just a squall; you remember how they turn the sky funny colors." He took a look for himself, despite his own assurances. Blinking a few times, he pushed off the edge of her bed, standing frozen at the window for a long moment. Before he'd fully registered what he was doing, he'd raced to his room, thrown on actual clothes and barreled out the door; he wore just a pair of jeans and a plain white t-shirt. His old adventuring outfit didn't exactly fit him anymore. The Keybearer was in a hurry in any case. He never would have been any the wiser if he hadn't looked out the window. Just woulda gone to bed, and woken the next morning none the wiser. He skidded to a halt in the grass in front of the mayor's home, fists clenched tight as he glared up at the figure perched at its apex. It was as black as the sky all around it, like a shadow in a dark room, and the only thing lighting it up was its hands held up to the sky: thin white bolts of lightning were arcing up every few seconds, becoming more and more frequent until the moment Sora arrived. The man on the rooftop lowered his arms to his sides, the hood peering vacantly downward; its contents were a mysterious void in the dark. As they stared each other down, the skin on the back of Sora's arms was crawling, spreading slowly up to his neck and seeping down his spine. How had he managed to miss such overpowering Darkness? His bright blue eyes fluttered open again, bringing him back to the bit of dirt he was recovering on. His head was still aching, pain pulsing throughout the rest of his limbs, but he managed to control his arms enough to bring his body upright. He leaned back on his wall, which still bore his imprint, blinking slowly at the world he'd arrived in. "The Land of Departure...? Aqua!" he murmured to himself, pushing off the wall and stumbling up the hilly path that led to the main building. His bare feet slid along the grass and the rough edges of the dirt road, the cool, itching sensation drawing him back into his nightmare again. He was back on the grassy field in front of the mayor's house, golden flashes all round his hands as both Fenrir and Sleeping Lion appeared. The hood jerked backward, as if the person underneath had let out a derisive chuckle. Leaning forward, the cloaked figure was off the rooftop in an instant. Gloved fingertips, arcing white sparks, were centimeters from his face before Sora even realized he needed to move. Leaning back, he swung Sleeping Lion hard, connecting awkwardly against the Man in Black's hood as he fell to the ground. The hooded figure vanished into a puff of shadow, leaving the Keybearer to stare at it for a moment from the ground, wondering what had just happened before white light lit up everything above him. His head snapped forward; the man was suspended horizontally in the air, spinning around to focus on Sora. The gloved hands pressed together, wild arcs of blue static shooting off to the empty air around him as he brought the hands to bear. As Sora tried to roll away, he felt something brush against the backs of his legs. There was a sudden release of pressure in the air for a split second, and everything went silent. Just for a second. Sora was sent skidding backwards over the grass, his heels catching on something as his momentum carried him along, sending him spinning and tumbling back until he finally rolled to a stop on the edge of the beach. Water rushed through his fried pant legs, two still-smoking handprints on the back of his calves where the connection was made. The remnants of the attack were still making him twitch and spasm when he heard slow, deliberate footsteps moving steadily closer. His ears were still ringing as Sora pushed himself over onto his back. The walking shadow nearly standing on top of him, his silhouette ruffling in the gusting wind. He could see the lips moving in the darkness of the hood, the slow, monotone voice of his enemy impossibly clear in the storm, "To think, that that is all the force to be mustered by the strongest of the Wielders." A divot in the dirt caught his foot. He was brought back from the troubling memory to stumble. Sore fingers caught on the doorframe that led to the lower corridors. His soaked jeans weren't helping at all as the slightest breeze sent chills up his spine, making Sora feel even more lifeless than he thought possible. He called for anyone, receiving no reply as he tried to make his way along the corridors and up staircases. It seemed the Wielders in training had already fled, and Master Aqua had gone with them. As he mounted the final spiral staircase, he was leaning heavily on the banister, and nearly toppled back down when he finally came to the landing. Doors up and down the dormitory were left wide open, the contents of some strewn out into the hallway; one door looked like it had been blasted or torn off its hinges. The heavy oak doors at the end of the corridor were barely cracked open, but scorch marks marred every inch around them. His voice was caught in his throat, reaching out to push on one of the handles, which looked as though someone had tried to melt it away, the barrier creaking slowly as he entered. "Empty... What could have happened here?" His mumbled words gave away his despair as he sunk down inside the Master's bedroom, his back pressed to the door, and his palms pressing to his eyes as he waded through the catastrophic fight again. The points of his Keyblades were digging hard into the sand as Sora used them to prop his body upright, two more scorched hand prints on his back. He was panting hard now, his whole body weighed down with water. Shaggy brown locks sticking across his face and forehead as he stood at the edge of the island, his bright blue eyes just barely able to make out the curved tree where he and his friends had spent so many carefree days and nights wondering up the unforgettable experiences they might have on other worlds. Half-lidded and trying to wipe sweat and a sticky crimson substance from his eyes, he heard another boom of thunder from across the main island, bringing up his Keyblades as he waited for the shadow to strike once more in hopes of catching it off guard and landing a lucky blow. A hefty gust of wind rushed past, a precursor to the danger that was causing it. Sora gritted his teeth hard as he waited for sudden pain. "What good are you?" The voice was hard and hushed, the sand around the shadowy figure's feet swirling around him as he came to a sudden halt, making the Keybearer stumble backwards as he tried to figure out where his opponent was coming from so quickly. "Well... No use wasting time. Hardly worth the effort. Doubt you're going to save anyone." The hood turned, looking down along the dunes, catching sight of the woman with her long auburn ponytail flowing in the breeze. "Least of all, your family." Another boom broke the clouds above them, and everything began to swirl. Pieces of houses were already being pulled in, ripped out of the ground as winds immediately started to gust over the islands. Sora took off down the beach toward his home, all thought of the battle gone, only wanting to reach her before everything was ripped apart again. The ground shuddered; a column of earth shifted up in front of him, leaving his section of beach to sink below the raging waves, foaming as they rushed in toward him. He leapt up, managing to drag his worn out frame onto the shard of land above him. Almost there... Just a bit more... His feet sank into the sand as he ran, hopping over fractures that were appearing all along the island, yelling for her to grab the kids and go, to run, to get away. Wind rushed around him as another boom echoed across the shattered landscape. A palm wrapped around the back of his head, pushing him forward into the sand. It wrenched his head back by the long, brown spikes, holding him down to watch what was going to happen. The monotone voice hissed in his ear, the flapping hood muffling the words, "Ah, my favorite part. The sappy goodbyes..." Twisting and trying to fight away from the grip on top of his head, he felt a knee crash down between his shoulder blades, and the hand bunching up in his spiky brown hair yanked hard. Pops issued all along Sora's spine as he felt the pain spread like wildfire down his back. The earth shifted again, the house suddenly dropped down several feet, before the whole piece of land started to lift away. The swirling clouds, glowing bright yellow in the middle and turning purple along the outside edges, were a sickening whirl of color overhead as they drifted toward the unsettlingly black eye. The movement was enough to unbalance the shadow. Sora's arm whirled around over his head, actually feeling the connection this time: Fenrir managed to catch right along his attacker's chest, knocking him flat on his ass. The Keyblade Wielder scrambled to his feet, ready to try and jump the gap, but then he saw the look on his wife's face. She'd made it outside again, his son and daughter holding onto her tightly, both of them calling for him to hurry. It was the sad little smile, the one she hadn't worn in years, and that slight shake of her head that kept him standing right on the edge of the abyss. "Remember what I said?! I still mean it!" His eyes open once more, still sitting alone in what had been Aqua's bedroom, his back resting on the door and his legs sprawling out across the tile floor. His body no longer shook as he rose once more, testing his grip as he turned to a wardrobe next to the entryway. He pried it open, finding nothing but a gold plaque inside, with a simple sentence etched into it: Step Right Up. He pulled at the remnants of his tattered clothes, the hand prints on his back and chest making it flimsy to the point of almost disintegration, and did as he was told; his last words to her were ringing in his ears as he shut the door, feeling warmth surround his body. Being electrified and shot through a portal can make it easy to forget who you are sometimes. The doors sprung open again, giving him enough light to see what had been done. He flexed his glove-covered palms, looking over the scuff marks on his fingertips, the only visible reminder of the events that had transpired. Sora said the words one more time, a quiet murmur in the broken halls, "I'm always a part of you, too. And I'll come find you; always will..." The leather squeaked as he clenched his fist, a weary smile slipping back onto his face as he straightened out his jacket. Throwing the doors wide open, he strode back down the mangled corridors. "Kairi. Riku. Just hang tight. I'm coming to find you." The gilded hem of the long, taupe coat trailed along at his heels as room after room went by again, the flames embroidered along the back flicking and shining near enough to make them look alive. His freshly gloved palms ran over the burn marks that were scattered throughout the dormitory hallway. Under the scuffed and sore tips of the Keyblade Master's fingers, the stone felt so brittle he thought he might have been able to break a piece off. It looked as though a dozen or more explosions had rocked just that part of the castle, leaving everything blasted and broken in its wake. The damage wound erratically up the steps to the Great Hall, and left a pile of rubble and kindling at the base of the stairway. The fingers curled into a fist, slamming it down on the center of a scorch mark. The stone around it groaned under the unnecessary force. Shafts of light filtered through a hail of dust and debris that shook loose form the wall, coating Sora down to the shoulders. It blew off swiftly as he stumbled blindly toward the stairwell that led to the Master's Hall. Resting his palms on his knees, panting hard and letting his head sink down, he felt the remnants of the palm prints tingling on his chest, parting gifts from his opponent. The one who had destroyed his home and taken him away from his family. It was him. His blue eyes stung as he looked at the door blocking his way, looking over the blocking bar snapped cleanly in two as if someone had gone through it with an axe and the burn marks left all around the outside masonry. There was no one else he knew who could do anything as terrible as this. His tired legs caught on the edge of a step, sprawling him flat onto his chest. He should have known when he saw the Man in Black from the start of the fight until the last moments, which were still replaying in his imagination. Riku had been right... Wind ripped through his hair again; fingers dug hard into the collar of his shirt, yanking him back. Sparks arced across every one of the man's free fingers, the deep black cloak whipping around his waist as he stood before the distraught Keyblade Master. Without hesitation, the hand came down, and lightning cracked the sky once more, illuminating everything in terrifying relief for the briefest of moments. The Man in Black straightened up, leaving the spiky brown haired man to lie battered and broken in the damp earth, finally beaten on the sandy shores of his home. The earth creaked and groaned beneath them, waves lapping up to them suddenly as they sank a foot, but then their sundered bit of land started to lift away from the rest. They were moving up toward the bright yellow clouds, swirling furiously with reds and purples as bits of the Destiny Islands were finally swallowed up into the pitch black at the very center. Tipping his head back to the rain, the Man in Black spoke softly again, rousing the broken Keybearer from his shocked stupor. "Honestly. How you ever managed to save anyone is a bit of a mystery." The hood twisted down to look at its target, the rush of movement still pulling at the hem of his cloak as they made their way skyward. Sora's whole body felt stiff as he lay on the ground, pain pulsing across every shocked and frayed nerve ending. He was barely able to shift his body as the Man in Black peered from the shadows of his hood. "Look at your home. Broken. Destroyed. And never going to return. And those poor people. Think of it: you couldn't save a single one. Not even your own family." A gust of wind nearly took the hood away from his face, a tuft of brown hair the only piece of his head that became visible before gloved fingertips caught the edge and pulled it down tight once more, scoffing as the Keybearer twitched at his feet. "'Keyblade Master Sora'." The gloved hand reached down and pulled Sora up to his feet, letting them look at one another for a moment. The spiky haired man struggled at his challenger's wrist, trying weakly to free himself, but froze as the Man in Black hissing his last words, "You should have listened to Riku." He was suddenly in the air, the shadowy figure standing on the hunk of earth far below him with his hands pressed together, sparks building all over his fingertips, arcing like some kind of Frankensteinian machine. A tiny glowing orb suddenly pushed his palms apart and sparks shot out into the air all around his hands. Even as Sora was hurtling away from the man, he could feel the tingle of static in the air as if a massive bolt of lightning were about to strike. There was a whisper of air unlike the rushing wind all around him; Sora looked up just in time to see a dark portal split open above him and to hear the Man in Black below him bellow his displeasure as his target flew across the threshold. He felt like he could still hear the angered scream ringing in his ears as his mind came back to the Land of Departure. His fingernails dug into the spaces between the stone blocks on the wall, the knuckles turning white as the Keyblade Master pulled himself upright again. His breath hadn't completely come back to him. His left hand pressed to the burns hidden underneath the steely gray vest that enveloped his torso and the zipper along the front chilling the skin between the aching palm prints on his skin. He pushed off the wall, his knee nearly giving way after the first step though Sora managed to steady himself, and stepped around the corner into the Master's Hall. The stained light from the glass above the intricately carved wooden thrones of the three Masters illuminated the room, freezing Sora as he stood among the rainbow of scattered sun shafts. His feet began to move again; the shuffling steps echoed in the silent space. The left chair, where he'd sat during his tenure, had been kicked over, tossed aside carelessly. The sun shone through the hollowed spaces around his selected emblem, charred entirely black on one side. He reached the foot of the dais, his legs unwilling to push him up the few steps onto the platform. The blue irises slipped to his right, the second Master's seat, Riku's seat... It had joined much of the wooden accents in the lower parts of the keep as a sizable lump of matchsticks and kindling that had been hurled into the nearest wall with pieces scattered around the base of the platform. The Keyblade Master forced his body each step up to the very center of the platform. Cracks formed a spider web all around him, the remnant of a blow so strong it spread out a few feet from the epicenter. The high-backed throne that had been set in the middle, the Grand Master's seat, was pushed back from the battle, sitting in the shadows underneath the stained glass. He stepped off the far edge, his aching limbs catching him and letting him stumble. His bare fingers found the arms of the chair, digging into the wood as he held himself upright. Sora did his best to breathe deeply, his whole body shaking as he exhaled. With a sudden effort, he started to pull the chair out of the shadows. Grunting, Sora managed to drag the thick wood into the light, illuminating the damage Aqua's attackers had inflicted. The back had been cleaved in two all the way to the seat, the two halves creaking eerily as he dragged it back toward the platform. He stopped to breathe again, panting as he ran his fingers along the back and the sides, feeling scorch marks all over. He lifted, groaning and wheezing until the feet scraped back onto the cracked masonry, sliding back into its proper place. The Keyblade Master looked up at the shorn back as he caught his breath and brushed his palms off on the flowing legs of his pants. Looking back to the corner of the Great Hall, to the third armchair that nothing could be done for, he stepped around to the side where the remaining seat was. He reached out carefully, brushing his fingers along the scorch marks for a moment. They felt different than the ones in the dormitory, and as he looked closer in the colored light, the pattern was entirely different. It flowed around everything, blazing hotter in some spots than others. The lightning spots were mazes of burn marks, and as he looked around the chamber for further evidence, he felt his heart sink. There were both the swirling fire spots and the arcing lightning strikes. "He's not alone." Sora mumbled, his hands working without instruction to pick up the throne and set it next to the other. His spikes bounced as he stood back, his irises moving back and forth to both empty chairs. His coat lifted as he turned in place, a gentle breeze rolling through the stone hall and whistling in the corners. "And I've managed to lose everyone." The words startled even the Keybearer, blinking as he felt the loneliness creeping forward again. His fingers searched around his neck, closing tight around the silver emblem and golden band that he'd worn for years. His legs started to shake once more, falling back into the empty throne. The wood gave a screech of protest as it was pushed back under his weight, coming to a stop in a crack before it toppled over and tipped him out backwards. The Keyblade Master set his elbows on his knees and leaned forward. His fingers let the charms go to rest against his chest, warmed in his palms so he couldn't feel them on his skin anymore and brought his palms up to rest over his eyes. The breeze whispered through again, teasing the legs of his jeans and the hem of his coat, but eventually even that died down. There he sat. The last of the Keyblade Wielders, alone in the Light, and waiting for the Darkness to fall.
  10. (So, this is obviously my KH1 fanfic. I know this one kind of sucks. I kinda rushed through it ) ~Kingdom Hearts; Neera's Story: Chapter 1~ I open my eyes slowly and I see three people who I do not know, at first I did not realize them completely. "Hey guy's, she waking up!" A little girl says. "Hey, are you okay?" A young man asked. "H-huh?" I say faintly as I was now fully awake, I gasp frighteningly as these three strangers are surrounding me. "I think we're scaring her." Said a young woman. I sit up and try to scoot away from them. I'm scared, I don't know who they are. Or where I am. "It's okay...." Said the young woman. "We're not gonna hurt you." I look at all three of them again, I stand up, back up a few steps. I then run away from the very spot. "Wait come back, it's not safe!" The young man called out to me. I did not want to listen to them, so I kept running. I run around another corner and run into another young man. "Oomf." I say as I fall to the ground. "Woah!" The young man says looking at me. "Are you okay?" He asked kneeling down. The other three people caught up to me. I breathe fast in fear. "Sorry Cloud, we must have startled her when she woke up. Is she okay?" The young woman says. "I think so." Cloud says inching his way closer. I look around at all of them, very scared, tears starting to come out of my eyes. "It's okay, don't be scared." His voice is comforting. "We're not here to hurt you, we're here to help you... What's your name?" "N-Neera...." I say almost in a whisper. "That's a nice name." Cloud says. I smile, feeling grateful about the comment "You okay?" "Mhmm." I let out with a nod. "I'm okay, where am I?" "We're at Radiant Garden." Cloud informs me. "Let me help you up." Cloud took my hand and pulled me up. "My name is Cloud." He says. The young man then took a step forward, I then hid behind Cloud still feeling kind of scared of the other's. "That's Squall, Aerith, and Yuffie." I look up at Cloud. Squall is a fifteen years old , Cloud is twelve years old and Aerith is the same age, and Yuffie is six years old. "You know them?" I asked still hidden a little bit behind Cloud. "They're my friends." Cloud informs me. "Oh..." I say with relief. I walk slowly from behind Cloud. "We didn't mean to scare you." Aerith said apologetically. "We were just making sure you were okay." Squall explains. "You can trust us!" Yuffie says happily. "How did you get here?" Aerith asked. "I.... I don't know." I say with a frown. "I don't remember anything." "How old are you?" Yuffie asked. "Five." I say. "Cool, you wanna be friends?" Yuffie asked with a grin. "Sure." I say with a nod. "Here, how about you stay with us for a while," Squall offers. "in till we find your parents." "What do your parents look like?" Cloud asked. "I don't know....." I say trying to think about them. "I don't think I have any parents. Can I still stay with you?" I'm worried if I don't have parents, I still can't stay with them. "Of course!" Aerith says. "Can we show her around town?" Yuffie asked excitedly. "Not today, we'll just show her, her new home for today." Aerith says. "Aaaww..." Yuffie says looking down in disappointment. I glance down at my clothes and pulled at my shirt. I'm wearing a purple thin strapped halter top, she then looked under her shirt and saw black mini shorts. She lifted one of her feet up and then the other and saw that she is wearing gray laced moccasin boots. She smiled and turned around to look at her reflection in the window. Neera put her hand through her hair, in her reflection on the window, I see black bob-styled hair. My facial feature's were nice, I have oval-shaped eyes, long eyelashes that curl at the tip, and thin lips. My eye color is a blueish-green (like Riku's) and I'm kinda pale, and I have a petite body structure. "What's wrong?" Yuffie asked. "Why are you looking at yourself like that?" I turned around and shrugged. A month after my arrival, three newcomers arrived and I managed to bump into all of them. One morning, I decided to sneak out of the house while Squall, Aerith, and Yuffie weren't looking. The first person I bump into was a tall man, I spotted him chasing after something and I ran after him. "Hayaaa!" I hear him yell as he swung his weapon and slained one of the unversed. "Wow..." I say a little louder than I expected. "Huh?" He says turning around. "Who's there?" I walk out from behind the wall I was hiding behind and walked forward. "Oh... you're just a kid." He says lowering his weapon. "Did you think I was someone else?" I ask folding my arms. "Uh... yeah." He says. "It's not safe out here, you need to go back home." He insists "I can look out for myself, you know?" I say boldly. "What's your name?" "It's Terra." Terra says with nod. "I'm Neera." I say with a smile. Terra and I both hear a weird sound, and one of the unversed appears behind me. "The unversed!" Terra gasped. "Huh?" I say turning around. The unversed lunges at me, I shriek and I duck. Terra then had his weapon appear and said. "Neera run!" "What about you?" I asked with concern. "I'll be fine." Terra assures me. "Now go!" I nod and I run behind a building and watched Terra, his fighting was really good and I got curious of the weapon he has. Since I do not know what it is, and I could see that it is powerful. Terra then slained the last unversed then looked around. "Is it safe?" I asked behind the building. "Yeah." Terra assures me. "You must get home." "What is that?" I ask. "What's this?" Terra asked raising the Keyblade. "Yeah." I say with a nod. "You mean you've never heard of the Keyblade?" Terra asked in shock. I shake my head. "Well, it is something to help protect the light." "Really?" I asked excitedly. "How do I get one?" "It's not that simple kid." Terra says with a chuckle. "The Keyblade chooses its master." "You think I'll get one?" I ask. "Hmm..." Terra said thinking, he then knelt down. "Hold this." Terra handed the Keyblade to me and I held it, it didn't evaporate. "I think you will be able to wield one day." Terra said happily. "Really?" I ask excitedly. "Yeah of course." Terra said with a reassuring grin. "If you get one, you can be trained to become a master one day. Like I'm training to be one. Here." Terra hands me a key chain it was interesting, it was black and looked like an outlining of a black comet. "What is it?" I asked observing it. "It will give you great power one day." Terra said placing his hand on my shoulder. "Keep it with you at all times, okay?" "Okay." I said nodding. "Now you must be getting home." Terra said standing up. "Bye." I said. "You gonna be okay by yourself?" Terra asked. "Yeah, I know secret passage ways home that always safe." I said. "Bye." Terra said walking away. "Good-bye!" I said waving. I then ran into an underground passage to the plaza. A couple of hours later I bumped into another person that day, and it was a woman. I was playing with the key chain I had just received, in the middle of the plaza. The woman noticed that I am alone and became curious. "Hi there." The woman says said bending down to look at me. "Hi!" I say with a smile. "Are you out here all alone?" She asked. "Yeah." I said nodding. "Why are you out here by yourself?" She asked with concern. "Who are you?" I asked changing the subject. "My name is Aqua." Aqua says. "I'm a Keyblade Master." "Really?" I asked. "I was just talking to Terra about being a Keyblade master." "You know Terra?" Aqua asked curiously. "Yeah, do you know him?" I ask pulling on the chain of the key chain. "Yeah he's a friend of mine." Aqua explains. "How do you know Terra?" "He saved me from the scary creatures." I explain. "He's really nice, you're lucky to have a friend like him." "Yeah, I guess I am." Aqua said with giggle. "But do you have a safe way home?" "Yeah, I have passages I go through." I explain. "Passage's?" Aqua asked. "Are they safe?" "Yeah, the passages are safe, no scary creatures are inside them." I say. "I need to go! Hopefully they didn't notice I sneaked out..." I whispered the last part a little louder than I anticipated. "What do you mean 'Sneak out'?" Aqua asked. "Oops I mean... um... heheh..." I said with an innocent smile. "Your family might be looking for you." Aqua said in concern. "I don't have a family." I said with a frown. "But I live with friends." "They must be worried about you." Aqua says with concern. "Well... yeah... but..." I said feeling a little guilty. "You really need to go home." Aqua said. "I know... Lea!" I said excitedly seeing Lea walk by. Lea stopped and turned around, he then noticed it was me and walked over. "Hi, Neera." Lea says walking over. "You know him?" Aqua asked. "Yeah." I say assuring her. "So, you got my name memorized now, do ya?" Lea asked tapping his forefinger on the side of his head. "Of course." I say with a smile. Aqua then straightens up. "Are you leaving?" I asked with disappointment. "Yes, I'm gonna have to go find Terra." Aqua informs me. "Which way did he go?" "Hmm..." I say scratching my head. "That way!" I say pointing to a street in between buildings. "Okay thanks." Aqua says with a smile. "Wait... who's Terra?" Lea asked placing his hand on his hip. "He's a friend of mine." Aqua explains. "You know, Neera, I can see there's a lot of light in your heart. I think Terra is right, you might wield a Keyblade one day. Take this, it'll help you." Aqua then hands me a white key chain that looks like a comet. "Thanks." I say holding it close. "Good-bye Lea, Neera." Aqua say before she walks away. "Bye!" I say waving. "See ya." Lea said with a nod. "So, uh... how do you know Terra?" "I bumped into him." I say with a shrug. "Was... 'who ever she was', with you the whole time?" Lea asked. "No, she walked to me earlier." I inform him. "Wait you're by yourself?" Lea asked with a raised eyebrow. "No. I say putting the key chains in my pocket. "Well, who's with you?" Lea asked. "You!" I say giggling. "Well... that's not what I meant." Lea says shaking his head with a smile. "I know." I say twirling my hair with my finger. "Come on, let's go get some ice cream." Lea says gesturing me to follow him. "I have to go meet my friend Isa over there." "Okay." I say following Lea. "Can I have the see-salt ice cream again?" "You can count on it!" Lea says holding his hand out for a high-five. I give him a high-five, and follow him with a skip. I return to the plaza shortly after ice cream with Lea and Isa, and I meet a young boy, that I've never seen before. "Hi." I say walking up to him. The little boy slowly turned around to look at me and nods. "I'm Neera." I say. "What's your name?" "Ienzo." Ienzo says so quiet, that it's hard to make out. "Are you shy?" I asked, Ienzo just shrugged. "I've never seen you around before." Ienzo just nods a little bit and goes to walk away. "Wait, why are you leaving?" "Uh..." Ienzo says but then jumps as the Unversed pops out of nowhere, and I gasp and run next to Ienzo. We both stood back to back, they slowly started to surround us. A boy then see's the two of us in trouble and runs to help. "Who are-" I begin. "Run!" He orders to Ienzo and I. As Ienzo and I run behind a tree, we both watched the boy fight the Unversed. I was more interested since I saw the Keyblade again, but this Keyblade was different. So, are all Keyblade's different? After the boy was done fighting, a man then came from a street."Ienzo, where are you?" He calls out, while the boy turned around to see who was talking. "Answer me!" Ienzo and I both walked out from behind the tree, Ienzo kept walking to Even while I stopped by the boy. "Ah, there you are." The man said walking to Ienzo. "Didn't I warn you to not wonder off? I see we owe you our thanks." Even said turning to the boy. "We've done our best to raise the boy, since his poor parents weren't here to do it." "Oh, you're on your own huh?" The boy asked Ienzo. "Sir, I'm looking for a friend of mine, he's a tall guy dressed kind of like me. Have you seen him?" "Hmm..." The man says thinking. "Perhaps, I did see him at the outer gardens. Just follow this road." He nodded to a road on his right side. "Thank you!" The boy said happily. "No, thank you for keeping Ienzo out of harms way." The man says. "And well.... let's say I have a feeling we are destined to cross paths again." "Huh?" The boy said with a confused look as the man walked away with Ienzo. "Who are you?" I asked. "Oh, I'm Ventus." Ventus says turning to me. "But you can call me Ven." "Hi, Ven, I'm Neera." I say with a smile. "So, you wield a Keyblade like Aqua and Terra?" "You know them?" Ventus asked with wide eyes. "Yeah." I say with a nod. "I wanna wield a Keyblade one day just like you, Terra, and Aqua." Ventus smiled. "Really?" He asked. "Yeah!" I say. "Are all Keyblade's different?" "Well... yeah I guess." Ventus says. "Neera!" Squall yelled. Ventus turned around startled by the voice. "N-Neera!" Squall said as he spotted me. "Uh-oh..." I say in a low whisper. "Wait... I've never seen you here before..." Squall said turning to Ventus. "Well... uh.... yeah." Ventus says with a smile, rubbing the back of his head nervously. "This is Ven!" I say happily. "He saved me." "Really?" Squall asked looking at Ventus again. "Thanks. How can I repay you?" "No need." Ventus says shaking his head. "Are you sure?" Squall asked, Ventus nodded. "Now Neera, I told you to not sneak out! You could've gotten hurt, we were all worried about you." "I'm sorry, Squall, please forgive me." I say looking down with a frown. Squall than sighs. "We'll talk about it later." He says. "Okay..." I say, knowing this won't end well. "Well I've gotta look for my friends...." Ventus informs. "Aw... so soon?" I asked even more disappointed. "Yeah, but I'll be back one day." Ventus says kneeling down. "Here." He gave me some sort of crystal ball. "You can give it back to me when I return." "Okay." I say enclosing the crystal ball in my hand. "Bye." Ventus says. "Bye, Ven!" I say with a smile. "Thanks for saving her." Squall says. "No problem." Ventus says walking away to find Aqua and Terra.
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