Reverse Side of Darkness
By: Koorino Megumi
Chapter 1: The Journey Begins
Not heeding his friends' cries of warning, Sora picked up Riku's Keyblade and held it level with his heart. He hesitated for an instant to give Donald and Goofy a reassuring smile, letting them know that he was sure about this and knew exactly what he was doing. Then he turned back to his task. Without another thought, Sora thrust the Keyblade into his chest. He felt it disappear from his grasp, releasing the six princess' hearts that had created it.
Then the thrust of the Keyblade took effect. In a daze, Sora could do nothing but fall backwards as his own heart was pulled from his chest. The world dissolved around him. He was not aware of Kairi's awakening just in time to see him falling, of her crying his name and running to him, or even his dissolving into sparkles of light in her arms. He did not hear his other friends' cries or see Donald come running. Sora saw nothing but darkness.
He was falling through the darkness. It was thick and pressing against him, as if it were a living entity. I saved Kairi, he tried to tell himself, but it was hard to think. The darkness was crushing him--smothering him. Donald, Goofy, I'm sorry. But I had to save Kairi. That was the only thing that mattered...
Now he was stumbling in the darkness. When did I stop falling? What did I land on? These questions only dimly registered in his mind, forgotten in an instant. The darkness was pressing so tightly against him...Why didn't he simply give way to it? I can't leave my friends. But even as the thought came to him he did not know what it meant. Kairi. A word that kept repeating in his mind but held no meaning... Why was he resisting like this? Why was he trying to hold back the darkness? Who was he--what was he to try to stop it? And why?
So Sora stopped struggling and allowed the darkness to engulf him.
Kairi awoke gasping for air, her body bathed in a cold sweat and the sheets in tangles about her. She thrashed for a moment before she became aware of where she was. "Four years ago," she breathed, trying to calm herself, "It was four years ago, and that's not what happened. He never gave in. I saved him first. I saved him." Suddenly tears were pouring down her cheeks. "Four years...Sora, where are you? And why do I keep having the same dream? Three times now. Of you becoming a Heartless and me not saving you..." She buried her face in her pillow. "What happened to you, Sora? Why haven't you come back? Have you saved Riku? Or did you forget about us?" New tears came pouring down. "What if that's why I'm having the dream? Because something's going to happen to you and I won't be there to help? Or what if something has already happened? Sora..."
Without even untangling herself from her sheets, Kairi proceeded to cry herself back to sleep. "You promised, Sora. You have to come back to me. Someday..."
Sora sighed in frustration, staring at the ceiling. He couldn't sleep--again. Donald, Daisy, and even Goofy had noticed the dark circles under his eyes that day. He had tried to make it sound like he'd simply stayed up too late recently, but he knew that they hadn't really believed him. They were starting to get worried about him. He knew that if they knew the details about his alternation between strange dreams and insomnia, they would be much more worried than they were. That was why he never said a word. But if something didn't change, he would have to soon.
"Maybe I'll go back there again," he mused to himself, "I know Donald and Goofy told me to just wait, but with these dreams... I wonder if I'll find anything different?"
Four years ago Sora had come to this world with Donald and Goofy, planning to find the door to the light and save Riku and King Mickey. The three had chased after Pluto with a note from the king in his mouth, hopeful that this adventure would be short-lived. Sora sighed again. Pluto had led them to a strange cave with nothing but a pond inside. It certainly didn't have anything even remotely resembling a door to anywhere. And the note had been even less helpful. Sora reached into the drawer of his nightstand and pulled it out, reading it to himself for the thousandth time.
Don't worry about Riku and me. We'll do our best to keep the darkness in Kingdom Hearts while you're searching for the door to the light.
Donald and Goofy, stay with Sora as long as you can, but if you get separated, don't worry. I think he has to find the door on his own. You have your own jobs to do, too. Make sure the kingdom stays safe for me, okay?
Sora, I know you'll find the door eventually. But right now it's too early. Your journey will start in this place when the time is right. And you'll know when the time comes.
Tell Minnie not to worry about me,
Sora tucked the note safely back into the drawer. Donald and Goofy wouldn't approve of his keeping it with him and reading it over and over again. King Mickey had told them to wait, so that was what they were going to do. But Sora couldn't stand just waiting. He had been back to that cave a thousand times, scared to death that the time for his journey may have already come and he had missed it. "Donald and Goofy won't let me go back again. They'll say, 'Just be patient, Sora. Trust King Mickey, Sora. You'll know when it's time to go back, Sora'. Well, what if my wanting to go back means that it IS time to go back? And what about those dreams... What could they mean?" Sora shuddered at the memory. The dream was always the same. He was stabbing himself with Riku's Keyblade in order to release Kairi's heart. Except this time, Kairi didn't save him from the darkness. He gave into it.
Reaching back into the drawer, Sora pulled another object out of it--Kairi's lucky charm. He hugged it to his chest. "That can't happen. Not as long as Kairi and I are connected. And we'll be connected forever. She's always here with me. Even when I can't see her..." Tears filled his eyes, but Sora refused to cry. His heart ached to be with Kairi again, but he couldn't go back to Destiny Islands. All the worlds were separated now. And even if there were a way for him to go back, he couldn't just abandon his mission. He couldn't leave King Mickey and his friend Riku trapped with the Heartless forever. "I will be the one who opens the door to the light. I will be the one who opens the door to the light..." Sora chanted the phrase to himself, but it gave him little comfort. "I'll go there again tomorrow. I'll get up before anybody else and sneak away. Donald and Goofy will be mad at me, but...but I have to do this. Maybe something will be different. Maybe my journey will finally begin."
With that, Sora gently placed the charm back in the drawer and shut it. He rolled over and finally began a fitful sleep. For the first time in more than a week, he had a dream other than the one of himself becoming a Heartless.
"Do you know where you are?" the hooded figure asked.
Sora looked around at the tall buildings and neon signs. The sky was dark as if a storm were brewing, but the city looked as bright and full of life as ever. "Is this...Traverse Town?"
The figure shook his head. "You're thinking in terms of your side of the mirror. This is Crossroads City."
Sora frowned. "My side of the mirror?"
"Just because something is familiar does not make it the same. In fact, most things are opposites on this side of the mirror, although some are parallels. Don't mistake one for the other. This is the parallel of Traverse Town. I am a parallel as well."
"Who are you?"
"Your heart is strong, Sora. Make sure that it survives. No matter what happens to you, your heart must survive. Understand? Remember, Sora. You are the one who will open the door to the light."
Sora gasped. "Your voice!"
The figure nodded. "It has been me from the beginning. I can only give you this last piece of advice before your journey. Your heart must survive. No matter what happens to you." The figure spun on his heel and began to walk away, his dark cloak flowing behind him.
"Wait!" Sora cried, "Who are you?"
The figure stopped, but didn't turn. "A friend. I don't know when we will meet again, or if, but know that I will help you as much as I can. Farewell." He continued down the road. Despite the bright light of streetlamps and signs, he faded into the darkness within seconds. Sora wanted to run after him, but his feet would not respond. Thunder cracked overhead, and he heard that familiar voice one more time. "The storm is beginning. Don't be afraid. Your heart is the strongest weapon of all. Your journey begins at dawn. Are you ready?"
Sora awoke to find the sky as dark as pitch. He didn't even bother glancing at the clock. He knew he wouldn't get back to sleep, and after that dream, he definitely wanted to get to the cave. His mind was trying to convince him that it was nothing more than a dream, but at the same time, something in his heart told him otherwise. Either way, I have to go back there. I have to know...
He briefly considered waking Donald and Goofy. If he told them about the dream, they would have to let him go, and maybe they would even agree to come with him. However, something about the thought of bringing them into this felt wrong. The mysterious hooded figure in his dream had not even mentioned them, and even King Mickey had said that they would be separated from him.
So Sora tumbled out of his bed and quickly straightened it up. He wanted it to be obvious to Donald and Goofy that he had set out on a journey; hopefully then they wouldn't worry about him or think he was attacked. He discarded the more formal clothing that he had been wearing since arriving at the castle, and put on a shirt and shorts somewhat similar in color and style to that which he had worn during his first adventure. He needed to have plenty of mobility in case he had to battle Heartless along the way.
Sora walked over to his desk and scrawled out a note for Donald and Goofy, just as a last precaution to keep them from worrying about him and, more importantly, trying to follow him.
Donald and Goofy,
King Mickey said that I would know when the time came for me to start my journey. He was right. I had a dream last night. I'm not really sure what it means, but I know that I need to leave now and go alone. Sorry. Thanks for being such great friends. I'll be sure to tell King Mickey how awesome you guys are when I find him!
He walked over to his bed and placed the note in the middle of it. Opening the drawer in the nightstand beside the bed, he pulled out the note from King Mickey and Kairi's lucky charm. The note he placed beside his note on the bed. The lucky charm he stowed carefully away in his pocket, where he could easily reach in and touch it. Then he took out the last remaining item from the drawer: a small key. Taking it over to his dresser, he opened the bottom drawer and pulled the clothing out of it. Underneath was a long, thin box. Removing this from the drawer, he unlocked it and pushed back the lid. Despite the darkness of the room, the Keyblade still seemed to shine, as if catching all the light that existed in the room and allowing it to play off its surface. Sora turned it over in his hands a few times, then set it down and replaced the box and the clothing in the drawer, shutting it. He picked the Keyblade back up and stood, giving it a few practice swings. It wasn't as though he hadn't used it during the four years he had been here. Sora had been very careful to keep training both in using the Keyblade and in using magic. After all, he hadn't known when his journey would begin. Now that it was about to begin, he was glad to be so prepared. Hopefully he was prepared enough.
He allowed the Keyblade to disappear as it always did when it wasn't needed. He gave the room one last glance before sneaking out and shutting the door behind him.
The halls were entirely deserted. The windows revealed that it was still pitch black outside. Sora decided that it would be best to eat before embarking on his journey, so he snuck to a back servants' staircase that he assumed led straight to the kitchens. After all, he always saw the cook and other kitchen workers using it.
A few creaky floorboards made enough noise for him to stop dead, his heart pounding, but he didn't hear so much as a peep from anywhere else in the castle. Everyone was fast asleep. Reaching the kitchens, he managed to find some bread, jam, meat, and cheese without too much difficulty. He ate his small breakfast quickly--there was no telling when the noise he was making might disturb someone--and then ducked out the kitchen's back door, snatching an unlit torch from its bracket on the wall.
From there ensued a stumbling journey through the dark. There was no moon, and Sora didn't want to light his torch until he was out of sight of the castle. By the time he did finally cast Fire to light the torch, he realized that he had been traveling toward the west of where he had intended to go. It wasn't a long detour, and by now Sora knew the way to the cave like the back of his hand. However, it was a bit chilly out, and Sora began to wish that he had packed some provisions for the journey. Bringing a blanket or a supply of food had never occurred to him. He hadn't had an opportunity to prepare himself before his last journey, so it hadn't seemed like he should do so this time. His mind told him to go back to the castle, but he didn't. He didn't think he could at this point. It had to be close to dawn by now; his journey was about to begin.
Sora entered the cave just as the first rays of sunlight began to peek over the horizon. He stopped short in the doorway. Had something glittered along the back wall of the cave?
Sora approached the wall cautiously. Whatever it was continued to catch the light as he drew near it. It was something embedded near the bottom of the wall, about the size of a coin. Sora knelt beside the wall and looked down at the object.
A small gem was embedded in the wall. Somehow it threw off a white light when the sun shone on it, but glowed the same dull black as the rest of the wall otherwise. Is this what Mickey meant about the time? I would never have seen this rock if it wasn't dawn with the sun shining right on it. If I had come here at dawn four years ago, I could have started my journey then!
But Sora pushed those thoughts away. He hadn't had the dream then; he had had the dream now. Obviously there was some other reason he had needed to wait for four years. Even if there weren't, dwelling on it now wouldn't help him. He had found a strange gem; now he just needed to figure out how it could lead him to the door to the light.
Nervously, Sora summoned the Keyblade. The moment it appeared in his hand a white light shot out from it, striking the gem. He heard a splash in the pond behind him.
"What?" Sora tore his gaze away from the gem to look into the pond. Small ripples were filling it, but not in the circular pattern in which ripples are meant to travel. The ripples were creating shapes.
Slowly the clear water began to change colors, and the ripples simultaneously formed distinct images. Sora gasped. "My island!" It was a mirror image, as if his island rose up behind him and the pond was reflecting its image. Sora reached out and touched the water. He cried out in shock as he felt something in it grab him. Before he knew what was happening, a strange force had his hand tightly in its grasp and was pulling him into the water. He tried to hold himself back, but the force was too strong. Within seconds, Sora tumbled face-first into the pond. He didn't come back up. The image of the island abruptly disappeared, leaving the pond looking just like any other pond. When Donald and Goofy came looking for Sora hours later, there wasn't any sign that he had even been in the cave.