What Comes in the Night Without a Soul


Chapter 1:

Nitu wasn't sure what he'd done to deserve this.

All he'd wanted to do was get through school, finish this stupid apprenticeship, and take care of his younger brother. Nothing else mattered. He didn't have dreams of being a hero, like Toran did, or of reaching far beyond his station, like his mother had held. Nitu wasn't looking for anything unrealistic. He just wanted to be left alone, to stay out of trouble, and keep Toran safe. He avoided trouble. He kept his head down and did what he was told. He ignored the bullies and they ignored him. He didn't stick his nose where it didn't belong. He didn't break the recently-created curfew. He didn't talk about revenge for the few people who had died, like the kids in his class had. Nitu kept his head down. Nitu did what he was told.

So why, why, was it that he was the one who was going to die because of the Heartless? What kind of karma punished for keeping your head down and doing nothing to annoy anyone?

Nitu thought all this in that split-second before the Heartless's claws descended onto him to tear his heart out, his little brother screaming in the background. He didn't have regrets going through his mind, only a hope that Toran would be smart enough to run for help so the village headman would use the transmission jewel and call a Keybearer to help, and not try to stay and save Nitu, and the disgruntled thought that he didn't deserve this.

Then, there was a flash of silver.

A clang, and the black creature flew backwards, knocked away by slash from a blade… a blade made of silver and gold, with teeth in the outline of a crown—a Keyblade. Its wielder would already have been taller than Nitu, but as he had fallen back when the Heartless came for him, the Keybearer looked even taller, brown hair in spikes sticking up all over his head, armor glinting on his left shoulder.

"Nitu!" Toran yelled, in the moment after the Heartless had been deflected and before the Keymaster turned around.

Without having to look, Nitu threw out an arm and stopped his brother's headfirst lunge, unwilling to let him get close to the monsters, but Toran just hugged his arm, burying his face in the worn sleeve.

Then, the Keybearer turned, a wide smile on his face, his blue eyes finding Nitu's dark ones with a sparkle and a surge of inexplicable calmness. His expression said there was nothing to worry about, even though the Heartless were gathering closer behind him. "You guys just wait here a second, alright? I'll take care of these things and get you back home." His voice was smooth and reassuring, calm and capable. Nitu nodded dully, still uncomprehending what was going on. Toran had lifted his head to meet the Keybearer's eyes too, his own still wet with tears and fear, but Nitu felt him freeze when he saw the warrior.

Then, there was movement. It was hard to keep track of, because the Keybearer was so fast that he rarely seemed to touch the ground. The Heartless stood no chance; they moved to attack only to have the silver Keyblade spear them. Clangs and slashes and blurs were really the only things Nitu could understand from the battle. His brain was still trying to catch up to the fact that he wasn't dead, that Toran was next to him, watching awestruck, that this was even happening in the first place. Heartless, in the middle of the town. Heartless, attacking him.

A Keybearer, right there in front of him.

Toran had recovered quickly from Nitu's near-miss with death though, and he began shaking with excitement, jumping up and down and hissing under his breath to Nitu, "Th-that's him, that's a Keybearer, Nitu, Nitu, look, look—it's a Keybearer, the one who's in all the stories, he's the one who sealed the Keyhole! Master Sora, the headsman said, he's the one who saved the worlds! Look!"

"I see him, Tor," Nitu responded, subconsciously. He was too busy watching the fight to really register it. Master Sora was swifter than the wind, his blade singing through the air like it weighed nothing. The man moved like he didn't give a thought to the rest of the world, like he never placed a foot wrong or wondered what could go wrong—this Master Sora was sure, confident, a better fighter than anyone Nitu had ever seen.

And then it was over. The last Heartless had dissipated in a spray of black matter, yellow eyes flicking into nothingness. Master Sora came to a halt, glinting Keyblade raised, eyes wary but mouth still in a half-grin.

Toran was vibrating still, so excited to see one of the Keybearers he prattled on and on about becoming one day, but Nitu was suddenly aware that the other villagers had stopped fleeing and stood by to watch too. Master Sora let his blade fall, and then it disappeared in rings of light that spread from the tip to the handle, and he turned back to Nitu and Toran and the others, smile still fixed. "M-Master Sora!" Toran nearly squealed, and the man's grin grew.

He stepped closer, and held out a hand to help Nitu to his feet. "Glad I got here when I did!" Master Sora quipped, blue eyes locking with Nitu's again. It was like he was searching for something in them, like he was examining Nitu from the inside out. "Th-thanks," Nitu made his tongue work.

"Least I could do," Sora replied, gesturing to the town. "Especially since no one's come by to get rid of that infestation yet. I promise, me and Master Ventus are here today to send the rest of these Heartless packing for good." The last sentence was partially addressed to the small crowd around them, most of whom nodded in numb agreement and hope.

Still almost jumping with excitement, Toran stepped forward and burst out, "You're the Keybearer!"

Master Sora grinned at him. "One of many," he said, and stooped down to eye level to look at Toran as well. It seemed to Nitu that Toran was being examined just as he had been. "I'm Master Sora. Nice to meet'cha." He held out his hand to the suddenly-nervous Toran, who looked like he might explode. Not only was he meeting a Keybearer, it was one who treated him like a grownup and not a brat. It made Nitu's respect for this Sora guy rise. Most people in the town brushed Toran off as idealistic and too excitable, but Sora kneeled down to meet his gaze and looked at him like an equal and not a baby. Even though he was growing what seemed like daily, Toran was still small for a nine-year-old, Nitu knew.

"I'm Toran!" Nitu's brother shook Sora's hand with a vigor that would have pulled off most people's fingers. "And my big brother is Nitu! You saved him, with your Keyblade!"

Sora kept smiling. How did one smile for so long, Nitu wondered, without it seeming strained? "Lucky I came here when I did, I guess."

"When I grow up, I wanna be just like you!" Toran kept babbling, and Nitu grit his teeth. It was one thing to never stop talking about becoming a Keybearer to Nitu. It was one thing to babble this to every person they knew. It was an entirely different thing to talk to a Master about it—what would this guy think? Would he dash Toran's hopes once and for all? "I wanna be strong and brave and protect people and travel the stars and, and…" the words were so familiar to Nitu—Toran said it at least once a day. It was all his brother could think about. He didn't want to study for school, didn't want to try to learn to be a tailor like their mother had been, didn't want to think of anything but the stories passed around at night by the headsman and the adults. To be a Keybearer... Nitu never had the heart to tell him it was never going to happen.

But something in Sora's eyes had changed. The Master quirked an eyebrow, and his grin shifted to something nostalgic, something fond. "I was the same as you, when I was younger." Though he had no way of truly knowing, Nitu got the impression that Sora was weighing something in his mind.

"Where do you guys live?" Sora switched tracks suddenly. "Why are you out here without your parents?"

Toran's face fell slightly, and Nitu set his jaw. "Our mother died, recently." He couldn't bring himself to say that his father was a jerk who hadn't even showed up for her funeral, not in front of Toran, who still believed their dad was a trader and they couldn't reach him.

Sora's expression fell too. "I'm sorry to hear that. Are you living by yourselves?"

"Nitu takes care of me!" Toran bragged, smile back, "We live by the town hall, and I go to school, and he helps the Hansons with tailoring, until Dad comes back!"

He was sure that Sora noticed how Nitu clenched his fists with the mention of his dad, but the Master said nothing. "Sounds like fun," Sora said, and Toran kicked at the sand. "School's boring, though."

"Ah," Sora grinned again, "I thought that too. But you know what changed my mind?"

Toran stepped forward with an eager smile. "Huh?" If Sora gave him a reason to like school, no matter how tiny, Toran would cling to it like gospel, Nitu knew. This would get Toran to endure class for another year at least.

Sora gestured at the town around them—the other people in the street were still trying not to watch their interaction too obviously and failing—then at Nitu and Toran themselves. "I learned that all of the worlds, and everything in them, is all connected. Everything from the long lists of words you gotta know, to all the names for animals, to the numbers, all make our worlds the way they are. Without all those little pieces working together…" Sora mimed an explosion sound, making Toran giggle. "Everything falls apart."

Toran stuck out his tongue as he thought about it, screwing up his eyes like he was fond of doing when he wanted to look like he was a big kid. "I don't get it." He said finally.

Sora laughed. "That's okay. I didn't either."

Another grin lit Toran's face. Nitu was about to suggest they leave so Sora could get to whatever Keybearer business he undoubtedly had to take care of, when his brother blurt out, "Could you show me your Keyblade again?" His eyes flashed with envy, and hope. Nitu hurried to put a hand on his shoulder, tell him that they couldn't bother the guy any further, but Sora furrowed his brows in thought. "You know, I might be able to do that…" Nitu and Toran looked at him at the same time; Toran with glee, Nitu in shock. "But only if you let me take you guys home." Sora finished, and Toran actually leaped with joy.

"Uh-huh!" He stopped though, and glanced at Nitu. "Can he, please?"

Nitu blinked at him, glancing at Sora, who mirrored Toran's pleading expression with laughter in his eyes.

"Uh, y-yeah?"

Toran and Sora cheered together, and Nitu had the sudden overwhelming thought that they were the same age.

Sora stood, having been kneeling this whole time to be eye-to-eye with Toran, and looked at the boy in deference. "I don't actually know how to get anywhere in this town, think you could show me the way?"

Toran looked delighted at the chance. Immediately, he started skipping off in the direction of the town hall, glancing up often at the Keybearer in awe and eagerness, babbling about this and that—Nitu was used to letting his brother's meandering words slide through him without having to pay attention to the conversation, and he just followed them.

He examined Sora while they walked. The Master was very careful to always look at Toran in the face, and never showed anything close to contempt or allowed himself to be condescending towards the kid, no matter that his sentences were choppy and frequently interspersed with mispronounced words and he could barely keep himself on one topic for more than a minute. He looked… honestly intrigued by Nitu's brother. Not annoyed. Not faking it so as to make Toran feel better. Sora was either the best actor Nitu'd ever met, or he actually was that genuine and caring. It wasn't something Nitu was used to seeing in adults. It wasn't something Nitu ever expected to see in a Keybearer. They were like the worlds' police, as far as Nitu was concerned, and he'd always expected them to be uptight and strict and far too busy to take notice of mere citizens like Nitu or Toran.

Sora was nothing like that. Not only was he not stuffy or old or stuck-up, he had a bright grin and moved not with authority, but with ease. He seemed totally comfortable in the town, among the dust and dirt and garbage, and though he had the Keybearer symbol on his chest and armor on one of his shoulders, he wasn't wearing any other uniform. He looked… normal. Natural. Like any other young man from the town, albeit stronger and more optimistic. Nitu couldn't wrap his head around it.

And though he'd said he didn't know where the town hall was, Sora never wavered in his stride, keeping up with Toran's skipping steps easily, unsurprised by any turn they made or any view they came upon. Nitu suspected that he'd said he didn't know where they were just to get Toran to lead the way, and that he actually knew at least the basic layout of the town.

This analysis of the Keymaster distracted Nitu all the way until they reached the dingy front door of the only home Nitu'd ever known. Then, he realized that he hadn't cleaned either of the rooms in months, and it probably was as dirty as one would expect when the only occupants were a teenager and a nine-year-old.

Nitu slammed to a stop at the door, inserting himself in front of them before Toran could fling the door open. "Thank you," he mumbled, holding his brother back with one hand and the other on the doorknob, "for taking us back, and for getting rid of those monsters. I'm sure you've got Keybearer business to attend to, so, uh—"

Toran pouted immediately. "Nituu!" Then he turned to Sora. "You don't have to go, do you? I want to see your Keyblade again!"

Sora grinned at him. "That's all right. I'll show you out here, okay? I actually should get back to Ven and tell him the Heartless are cleared out…"

Nitu's brother began pouting again—Nitu knew he'd always dreamed of meeting a Keybearer. He was sure Toran wanted Sora to stay for as long as humanly possible—but before he could start complaining again, Nitu felt Toran shiver. It was the kind that shook his whole body, visibly, and suddenly, Toran's frown disappeared, sliding right off his face. His eyes had glossed over, staring off in space, over Sora's shoulder—a fixed, slightly fearful stare. Nitu's stomach clenched.

"Tor," he began, hoping to snap his brother out of it before Sora noticed, but the Master was already turning, eyes going to the same spot as Toran's. Though Nitu saw nothing but empty air and street, for one second, he swore that Sora was looking at the same thing Toran was.

The white things.

Toran had gone so long without seeing one. Nitu had hoped these flashes were gone altogether. Whenever it happened at school or in public, Nitu inevitably was visited by some concerned parent, or schoolteacher, asking how Toran was doing without their mother, without a father, whether he was eating regularly. The questions seemed like they accused Nitu of not treating his brother well enough.

But honestly, this had been going on for years. Their mother, Kara, when she'd been alive, had been with Toran almost all the time, and she had been good at deflecting suspicion. But Nitu, at work most of the day, couldn't cover for his brother when Toran glazed over, eyes fixed on nothing. If no one snapped him out of it, the kid could spend minutes with his eyes roving the room, following shadows that weren't there—or, rather, they weren't shadows. When he'd asked, Toran had told Nitu that they weren't shadows. The things he saw… were white. Pure white. They had arms and legs and a head but no features, and they were fuzzy around the edges—or so Toran said. No one else had ever seen anything. The one psychiatrist their mom had taken Toran too said it was a sign of overactive imagination, and would go away with time.

They hadn't.

Nitu couldn't help the moment of panic when Toran froze up. He had tried his hardest to get his brother to understand that whenever he saw one of the… things, he needed to not let people know. It was hard enough convincing people that he and Toran didn't need to go to the group home without the social worker realizing his brother saw things that weren't there. Would Sora tell someone? Nitu couldn't lose Toran. They couldn't go to the group home. It was the one thing Nitu could never let happen.

But the Master turned back to Nitu and Toran. His gaze did not linger where Toran's was, and his brows had furrowed. He looked much more serious suddenly. Nitu had to repress a swell of fear. Sora looked like an authority figure when his grin wasn't lighting his eyes up.

"Tor," Nitu said again, and his brother started. He hoped his glare was enough to remind Toran that they weren't supposed to tell anyone about the white things. Whatever they were. If they even existed. But unfortunately, Toran shook his head, eyes wide and face distressed. "This one's bigger, Nitu!"

Nitu locked his jaw and shook his own head. "Toran," he said, trying to remind his brother of the many discussions they'd had about the white things. Toran needed to understand that no one else could know what he saw. "Didn't you want Master Sora to show you his Keyblade?" Distract him, Nitu thought desperately. Before he decides Toran is insane.

Toran wouldn't be distracted though. "Nitu," he began, voice thin and reedy with a whine, but before either of them could speak, Sora bent down again to meet Toran's eye.

His gaze was steady, not carefree. "Hey, Toran. I seem to remember you telling me you'd made a sword out of wood to practice with. Think you could show me? Maybe I can show you some pointers."

This, in contrast, was enough to get Toran to forget about the white thing. He nodded so fast Nitu worried he'd get whiplash, and dashed into the house, closing the door before Sora could see the mess inside.

Nitu knew what was coming when Sora stood back up and locked eyes with him.

"He's not crazy." As soon as he could get the words out, he did.

Sora blinked at him, caught off guard. He opened his mouth, but Nitu continued.

"Look, I know it's weird, but he just sees these things sometimes, it's just his imagination. He eats fine, and I can totally take care of him. There's nothing wrong with him." Though he couldn't keep his hands from shaking, Nitu refused to back down. He was not losing his brother. They wouldn't take him.

"I wasn't going to say there was." Sora preempted more excuses with an upraised hand. "That's not what I was thinking. I know he's fine, and I'm sure you take good care of him." Nitu waited for the "but."

"I was going to ask," the Master leaned in just a bit, "How long has he been seeing the white things?"

Nitu froze for a long second. How did Sora know about the white things?

"Wh-what?"

"How long has he been seeing them for?" Sora repeated. "Where does he see them?"

Nitu let out a breath. He didn't sound concerned for Toran's mental health. He didn't seem like he was going to report them for not being able to take care of themselves.

"Uh," he began, wracking his brains, relief stripping him of thought. "As long as I can remember. It doesn't happen often, but… Mostly around here. Here, or his school." Nitu gestured at the schoolhouse, a block down the street.

Sora looked contemplative. He said nothing for a long moment, then asked, voice low, "Have you ever seen anything?"

He couldn't keep his gaze on Sora's. "I…" It wasn't that he didn't believe Toran, because he did, but there was a part of him that said Toran was a child and was prone to over-imagination. "No."

With a nod, Sora glanced over his shoulder again, at the same spot Toran had been looking. When he locked eyes with Nitu again, though, his face was even more serious. "You hesitated. Have there been any times that stick out to you? Special occasions when he saw them? Or you did?"

It wasn't something he liked to think about. Wasn't something he'd ever admitted to anyone, even himself.

But here finally was an adult who didn't think Toran was insane after learning that he saw things on a regular basis.

Nitu dragged his courage up and said, "The night my mom died." He couldn't keep eye contact, so he glanced at his shoes. They were dirty. Kara would've been appalled that he hadn't bought new ones when the soles started wearing thin a month ago. "I… I haven't told anyone. But we were here, and she was sick. Her fever was bad, and all we could do was stay with her through the night. The doctors said she'd either make it through the night or die."

He took a deep breath. "It was late. I was half-asleep, but Toran was still awake and froze, eyes locked on the corner. I couldn't see anything, but he said there was one there. A white thing. Waiting. Hovering. I told him to go back to sleep. He did, but after that I couldn't relax." He remembers the endless night like it was yesterday. They couldn't keep the lights on past ten, so there was just a flickering candle or two to light the room. Kara had been coughing intermittently, and every time she did it was a ray of hope for Nitu. "Just… just about when I realized she'd grown too still, I felt that shiver up your spine you get when someone's just behind you, you know? I couldn't see anyone, but I could feel someone there."

Sora's eyes were sad. "I'm sorry for your loss."

Nitu shook his head. Platitudes didn't do anything for him anymore. She was gone, and that was that. It didn't stop him gasping awake in the night, dreaming that he'd felt the same presence, but only it was at Toran's bedside and not his mom's.

But Sora also looked contemplative. He looked like he was going to say something, but just at that second, Toran burst back out, waving his silly wooden sword in the air. They'd bought the materials from the carpenter back before Kara had died. Toran was obsessed with playing with it.

The seriousness in Sora's gaze was wiped away in an instant. "Wow, how cool! Can you show me what moves you know?"

Toran nodded, enthusiastically, having completely forgotten about the white thing, glancing once at Nitu to share his triumph.

Nitu stayed on the porch while Toran and Sora took turns swinging the sword around, and though Sora's moves with his Keyblade had seemed like dances, perfect and practiced and smooth, once he got the sword in his hand he turned into a kid, swinging it like a baseball bat and playing like Toran always did.

They held a mock-battle in the street for a while, Sora with his Keyblade and Toran with his too-big, unwieldy toy. All Nitu could think was that Toran would be so bummed when Sora left, and Nitu would have to try to get him to understand, once again, that being a Keybearer was just a dream, a fantasy. Toran was going to have to learn, eventually, that you couldn't just become a Keybearer. No one did. Sure, the Keybearers had a school, but it wasn't like you could send in an application and receive a reply. Nitu thought it as more of an elite club.

And Toran couldn't place hope that one of the Masters would somehow choose him to join them. It just wasn't rational. Realistic. Toran didn't understand that.

Nitu did.

The two were interrupted, however, when Sora froze, and his pocket started glowing. Nitu and Toran stared as Sora made a face like he'd been found out by a principal, and gave them a guilty look. "I totally forgot to check in with my friend."

They watched as Sora grabbed a jewel out of the pocket, maybe six centimeters long, glowing fuzzily green. Nitu didn't have time to do more than blink before Sora held the jewel up in front of him, slid a finger along the side, and said, "Sorry, Ven."

A voice issued out of the jewel with a sigh. It was so clear that someone might have been standing right next to them. "Sora, how many times do I have to tell you we have to actually check in with each other if we split up?" The voice sounded kinda similar to Sora's, actually, but a bit older, and a bit deeper.

"I got a little distracted saving people from Heartless?" Sora's face twisted, like he knew it was a lame excuse.

"Uh-huh." This "Ven" replied, and sighed again. It sounded to Nitu like he was actually relieved to hear that Sora was okay. "Listen, I'm all wrapped up out here, where are you?"

"By the Keyhole—the town hall," Sora gave Toran a grin. "I made some new friends."

There was a laugh out of the gem. "I'll have to come meet them."

The device stopped glowing, and Sora tucked it back in his pocket. He seemed unaware that both Toran and Nitu were staring at him in utter amazement.

"Ven'll be here soon, but until then," Sora leaned down in front of Toran, "Can you show me your special move?" Toran looked thrilled that Sora had asked. Nitu had watched Toran practice this weird, made-up spin/slice for hours until the kid had fallen over, too dizzy to stand. But before long, Ven showed up and interrupted them.

Nitu had expected him to come walking down the street, like a normal person, but was instead thoroughly scared out of his mind when there was a rustle above him, and a figure dropped off the roof and landed right next to him. Nitu jumped, just as Sora called out "Ven!" in greeting.

Ven was just the same height as Sora, with lighter, but no less spiky, hair. His outfit looked more foreign than Sora's, but only because of the glimpses of armor under his black and white jacket, and the bracer on his left hand. Though he looked more like a Keyblade Master than Sora, it didn't stop him from breaking into a grin as wide as Sora's when he saw Toran's gaping mouth. Two Keybearers in one day. It was going to be the only thing Toran talked about for the next year.

"Hey," Ven replied, glancing at Nitu too, with a nod of greeting, and humor in his eyes. "I'm Ventus," he stuck his hand out to shake. Nitu did, still getting over the shock of his sudden appearance. "Nitu."

Toran rushed over, eyes wide and smile lighting his face, to say hi to the other Master too. "I'm Toran!" He almost yelled, excitedly bouncing in place.

Ven kneeled down to meet his eyes, grinning, and said, "Good to meet'cha." Toran beamed.

Sora walked closer, and, his smile not abating but his voice more serious, "I took care of the Heartless here."

Standing, Ven nodded. "And I found the ones in the north mill. We should be good."

Nitu's stomach sank. This meant they were going. Toran hadn't realized yet that the Keybearers couldn't stay, and he still looked thrilled, eyes going back and forth between the two warriors in front of him.

But Sora was looking hesitant. "One thing," he mumbled, glancing at Nitu and Toran. When Ven raised an eyebrow, he shrugged and said, "I think there's one thing we need to do."

Ven frowned slightly.

Another glance at him and Toran, and Nitu stood up straighter. "Toran, let's go inside for a second," he said, and ignored his brother's slump.

Sora nodded a thanks, and he dragged Toran inside, saying, "Just a second, Tor, we'll come back out in a minute, yeah?"

But once the door was closed and Toran went to mope in the other room, Nitu stuck by the window and listened. He should've felt bad for listening in, but he didn't really care at this point. He'd just been attacked by Heartless, for Kingdom Hearts' sake. He deserved a break. Listening in on one conversation wouldn't bring bad karma. Right?

The first couple words, he couldn't make out. It was Sora's voice, but he couldn't string together the sentence.

"…he sees…it happened again…I don't think they're safe—"

Ven's voice was louder than Sora's, but not quite audible still. "We can't… you know what Yen Sid would say."

"I don't think we should wait!" Sora shot back, and his voice was slightly angry. "I'm getting worried, Ven."

There was a sigh. The voices were clearer. Maybe they'd moved closer to the window. "I agree, but you can't just up and choose two new successors like this." Nitu's heart skipped a beat. He didn't know what a successor was, but it certainly sounded like…

"Do you think Toran and Nitu aren't worthy of Keyblades?"

…like something that would change his and Toran's lives.

There was a pause. "I'm not saying don't choose them—"

"I don't think we should wait."

Another sigh.

Just when Nitu thought they weren't going to say anything else, or they'd moved far enough away that he couldn't hear them, Ven said, "Fine."

Toran ran out of patience, running back into the room, as Ven spoke, and Nitu turned back to him. "Hold up, Tor," but his brother was already out of the door, and Nitu rolled his eyes. He followed him, out into the sunlight, but it seemed that Toran had been distracted.

Nitu saw why a second later.

Sora and Ven stood together, on the edge of the porch where daylight glowed, both Keyblades summoned. They looked intimidating, suddenly. Like real Keybearers.

But Sora then shattered the illusion with a smile and asked, oblivious to Toran's gaping mouth, "How would you guys like to come and learn how to be Keybearers with us?"


A/N: oh my gosh you guys i haven't been this stressed about posting a fic in forever gah
so this is my baby! WCITNWAS is the byproduct of too little sleep, NaNoWriMo last year, an angsty dream, and playing waaay too much Kingdom Hearts, and over the past year I've been writing more and more of it, and now i'm finally ready to start posting! I've got the first three chapters almost done, and an outline to follow for the rest, but i still don't know how long it'll end up, or how long it'll take to finish.

This is set approx 11 years after KHIII, which is of course not out yet and I have no idea how it will end, but I am going to ignore all ominous signs and all bad possible outcomes, and pretend everybody lives through Xehanort's plot. There won't be much about the games-era in this fic, as it only takes place years afterwards, but there's lots of headcanons about what follows Xehanort's defeat.

The basics:
Sora and co. freed Terra, saved Aqua+Ven, and after defeating Xehanort, opened a school for Keybearers with all the current Keywielders as teachers, under Yen Sid's leadership. Eleven years have passed since they opened it. They continue to patrol the various worlds, defeating Heartless (who did not disappear with Xehanort) and keeping the peace. They are generally adored and admired, and many kids wish to be chosen for a Keyblade when they grow up. But a new threat just might be rising...

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Yes, okay, an OC-centered fic. there will be lots of OCs here, but let me tell you, the KH crew features really prominently, Sora especially, but they'll all get their due-Lea too! I don't have many plans for Disney characters, but Mickey will be mentioned at least. I never really thought I'd be writing anything with lots of OCs, but this just happened... and I really like it. I hope you all do too.

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Thank you so SO much for reading, and please drop a review if you enjoyed! I really do need encouragement to keep going, especially given that this is the most involved multi-chapter I've ever tried writing.

come talk to me on tumblr, under the URL literally-in-too-many-fandoms, for lots of Kingdom Hearts III hype.
If you've got questions about this fic, you can message me or ask me on there! I'd LOVE to talk about my plans for this and hint at what's to come.

this is also on Archive of Our Own, under My5tic_Lali.

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Chapter 2 is on its way, and depending on the response to this, could be up in a few days! Thanks again for reading.