Adventures come and go, suspense, thrills and dangers pass as quickly as they arrive. And with them, years are dismissed, slowly passing, or quickly flying day by day. No one is immune to the passage of time. The KH team was no exception. As the years past, the once vibrant youth had all, but vanished. The decades passed quicker than expected, though there was strife and suffering in the meantime. So one must ask, what of the ones who remained? Of the original ten, only five were left.
In most stories bearing happy endings, one may expect the key players to live their lives unmolested after their endeavors. But the reality of life is that not all are allowed such a lucky destiny. A few members of the KH team had met terrible tragedies indeed, while others were allowed to prosper until the end with only their memories to bear the drama of their legacy.
Mickey, Donald, and Goofy continued to oversee the prosperity of the Disney Kingdom for years since the end of the faction period and the fall of the Imperial Axis. As the years passed, the age of King Mickey and his subjects began to dwindle.
Goofy had served as captain of the royal guards for years, becoming one of the most trusted guardians of the Disney Kingdom. However, he was one who did not live on to an old age. During a rendezvous to Oceansburg, as a form of diplomacy to the new era of peace, the convoy to which Goofy was part of was attacked by pirates. It was said that the rogue buccaneers had boarded the gummi he was on. Goofy, being an expert combatant was able to fend off many enemies. But in the process, a detonating grenade supposedly took his life along with all that were on board the gummi ship. Goofy's remains were never found. News of Goofy's death was disheartening to the entire Disney Kingdom, especially to King Mickey and Donald who grieved over the demise of their lifelong friend. Goofy was succeeded by his son, Maximilian, who served as one of the finest captain of the guards ever to be instated. But despite his efforts, he could never exceed the legacy of his father.
Donald too met with a sudden end. The arrival of an evil sorceress threatened to destroy the Disney Kingdom. Taking the responsibility into his own hands, Donald confronted the dark scourge on his own. Using his extraordinary magic skills, all those he had learned in his battles with Organization XIII, the Heartless, The Dark Empire, and the Imperial Axis, he made a brave effort and fought valiantly, ranking equal to his old friend, Goofy. However, the battle against the sorceress reached the point where both Donald and his enemy were sapped into a dimensional portal. Thus, Donald was never seen again. No one knows if he was still alive or not, but because the sorceress had not emerged a second time to wreak havoc on the Disney Kingdom, this indicated that Donald must've succeeded. However, in the end, after years of no word or sign of possible return, he was presumed dead and given royal honors. As a replacement, Donald was succeeded by his three nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie who acted as cooperating chief wizards.
Mickey was heartbroken at the loss of both of his best friends. However, he continued to reign over his people, still believing that somewhere Goofy and Donald were still alive. Under King Mickey, the Disney Kingdom continued to prosper, maintaining is sovereignty and independence.
All the while, back on Oceanaria, the father and son duo, Cuchulain and Cunla, played a significant role in the peace time effort. With Cuchulain alive once again, the security of the Universal Alliance was absolute. Cuchulain acted as the front line soldier for years, carving his name into the history of the Universal Alliance as being one of its greatest champions. All the while, his legend in Erin had made a dramatic turn. In the Gaelic version, Cuchulain was killed by the advancing forces of Queen Maeve and later died, strapped to a stone pillar. In reality however, he and Maeve proved equals, always trying to outdo each other on the front line of the Alliance military. Cuchulain would eventually retire to private life after his decreasing health forced him to submit. In his twilight years, he wrote a book on his life's adventures. Cuchulain would eventually die of natural causes at the age of eighty two. Yet he would never again step foot on his home soil of Erin. In the end, by his last wishes, Cuchulain's body was burned and his ashes were scattered. Cunla was happy to have his father sent to the other worlds that way. "He belongs to all worlds now" he quoted at the eulogy.
As for Cunla himself, he served faithfully as a higher up of the Anime Branch of the Universal Alliance until his retirement at fifty four. Through the years, he too had raised a family, blessed with two girls and one boy. He was honorably discharged with military honors. He and his family eventually settled with the rest of his friends on Destiny Island and eventually ran for mayor and serving two terms. His efforts went to cleaning up Destiny Island and established the Destiny Island National Battlefield Park, preserving the entire extent where the fighting between the Arakis Foundation and the Aryan Faction had commenced. He eventually retired to private life altogether and still lives quietly. He now takes up a teaching position as a history professor at the recently established Destiny Island University, a prestige school that has attracted many not only locally, but from other worlds as well.
Kirin was one of the first of the ten to die. He had gone into business and became very successful in real estate and finance. Yet his generosity was legendary. It was said that during every Christmas holiday, he would offer a large holiday banquet to the impoverished citizens. He also did all in his power to see that those impoverished individuals were given an opportunity to serve for the better of the community. He was also very active in rescue operations. However, this would eventually lead to his demise. When Kirin reached age forty five, he was involved in a rescue during one of the most devastating storms in Destiny Island history. Three fishermen were stranded off of the coast. Kirin immediately took charge. However, in the midst of the rescue, Kirin was caught by a rogue wave and sent to the bottom of the sea. The next morning, his body was found on the beach. Kairi mourned the loss of her brother. He was taken from her and her friends before his time. He left behind him a wife and three children, two boys and one girl. But because of his financial background, his family was set for life. And because of his deeds, the three fishermen that he rescued survived. They were the first to speak at his eulogy saying that because of Kirin, they were allowed to live on. Kirin was buried in the town cemetery, next to Namine. His death marked the establishment of the KH row, in which only those of the KH team were allowed to be buried.
Sora and Kairi of course ended up together. They married no more than two years after their return from their endurance against the Imperial Axis. They would eventually have four children, two sons and two daughters and live out their lives together. Sora went on to become chief editor of the Destiny Star, a major newspaper company in the middle of town. He also had taken up a position as a script writer and director at the Theater of Arts. Many of his plays were based off of the experiences he had undergone in his youth, featuring epic battles, dramatic deaths between friends, and romantic love scenes. Of course he did a few comedies that are still performed even to this day. At the age of fifty five, he retired from his position as chief editor and focused on his script writing. He would then retire from public appearance altogether and would eventually write a series of books based on the adventures of him and his friends. He titled the tales Kingdom Hearts and separated the stories into five volume books.
Kairi went into business with her brother Kirin as an equal partner in finance. However, after the death of her brother, Kairi decided to leave her position. She went into early retirement, leaving the efforts of keeping up the business to hired managers. She was still too grief stricken to continue employment there. However, as the years passed, she eventually recovered and Kairi was back to her old self. She took up a teaching position at the University as well, lecturing on English works. Only recently, with a steady income and secured future for herself and her family, did Kairi finally retire from her job as a college professor. She now does mini comics for the Sunday paper as a simple hobby.
Ophelia Billiard continued to act as an undercover Alliance agent, always watching for suspicious outer activity on Destiny Island. However, ten years after her dispatch, she was relieved and discharged with military honors. In that time, she and Riku eventually married and started a family, giving birth and raising four children of their own, the same number as Sora and Kairi, two sons and two daughters. Never was the young couple so happy. Ophelia took up a position as an assistant advisor to the Destiny Island Bankers Association. There she continued her work serving the citizens until her retirement at age sixty one. She would go on working at a local bakery on her spare time. She and Riku would live out their days in a happy and steady marriage, watching their four children grow up to become respectable adults. However, at the age of seventy six, Ophelia contracted pneumonia. For two months she remained in her bed, her condition slowly getting worse. Then finally, unable to continue her fight, Ophelia succumbed to the sickness. She was buried alongside Namine and Kirin, forever a member of the KH team. Riku was heartbroken with the loss of his beloved and he never truly recovered in health after that. He had never undergone such a depression since the death of Namine decades earlier.
Riku had gone on to serve as chief superintendent for city hall and was responsible for overseeing all city projects, from demolitions, to architectural work, to repairs and restorations of streets, public facilities, historic buildings, and the founding of neighborhood parks. Riku also ran a program on self defense. He also displayed his fighting skills during demonstrations. He was one of the other outgoing individuals. He would travel to other worlds, courtesy of the Universal Alliance, who still held their side of the bargain, and would demonstrate his skills. However, as he grew older, Riku retired from live demonstrations and went on to acting as a judge to battle competitions. It was always considered an honor to have him present. He and Sora would go together at times, but Riku carried on, even without his best friend to be there. He even advised as a stunt coordinator for sword fights during theatrical productions. He even ran for mayor for one term before handing over his public responsibilities to Cunla. Riku invested in stocks and bonds, becoming wealthy at his age. However, his life began to spiral downward after the death of his beloved wife, Ophelia. Although he was secure and his family set for the future, his heavy heart could not shake off the death of his wife. Eventually, his health began to fail and Riku retired from public life altogether. His only real comforts were his family and old friends.
As for the keyblades, these mystic weapons fell out of use and remained dormant as a part of Riku and Sora's hearts. For a time, they had been able to unleash them at will. However, with no more battles to fight, the keyblades were eventually withdrawn for good. To add, with their aging years, it became more limited and less frequent to summon forth the keyblades. Until one day, the keyblade vanished for good. Thus, the tales of the keyblades faded into legend and legend in to myth. Even the grandchildren of the two heroes had some trouble believing that the keyblades every existed at all.
So of the original ten members, only five remain. Of those five, four are settled on Destiny Island. And of those four, three of them had been together from the very start. From the day they first met as children, to their adventures in other worlds, to the courses of their lives in a time of peace, to their twilight years, Riku, Sora, and Kairi, the original three together in youth, still stay close even as they reach their golden days. So the legend of the Paopu continues to ring true. Once shared, destinies become intertwined. So has this been a lasting testimony in the lives of the original key bearers.
As had happened before so many times in the past, morning had beckoned to Riku with the sun beaming through his window. However, this day was different. This was a day of dedication and solemn ceremony.
"It's already time to get up?" Riku thought to himself. "Oh well, if I don't get up, I'll be in bed all day. And today is the day I have to make a speech at the dedication ceremony for the sixty-fifth anniversary since the battle of Destiny Island. I'm getting too old for this."
He arose to an early start. But no longer was he the vibrant and agile youth he used to be. Riku was now an ailing old man, who barely had enough strength run about so recklessly as he could have ten or twenty years before. Although he still had that physical panache, his enduring vigor was dimmed. His fair skin, once so tight, had given way to aged wrinkles. Though his body was still thin, it hadn't the same firm muscular tone as it did. His stiffened and aching joints further prevented him from engaging in any activities too strenuous on the body. And his long flowing silver locks, the signature of his boyhood and early manhood have been cut short, no lower than his neck.
Riku stood from his bed and freshened himself up in the same manner he did for over fifty years. His sense of dress had changed as well, becoming something more sophisticated and mature for a man in his golden years. Yet he still had style. All he while he was reciting the lines of his speech little by little, hoping to remember them and get all key points straightened out.
"Father," a voice shouted from the first floor. "Are you ready yet?"
"In a moment…!" Riku replied. "I'll be down soon!"
Putting on his Sunday best, he descended down the stairs as best he could. Because of his stiffened knees, he found it harder and harder to descend and ascend the staircase. Awaiting him at the bottom of the stairs was Riku's eldest son, Vaughn. He was man who already was in his middle age years. He was stern and proud, a splitting image of his father.
"Let me give you a hand, father." Vaughn said as he came up the stairs to help his dad.
"Don't trouble yourself." Riku replied with a chuckle. "I might be old, but I can still master the stairs. I also still have my pride you know."
"Where are my two grandsons?"-
"I'll call them." Vaughn called out to his sons. "Marcus, Kadaj, your grandfather wants to see you!"
Through the front door, two young men entered and presented themselves before their aging grandfather. Marcus, the younger of the two was only fifteen. The elder, Kadaj, was nineteen and a blossoming college student.
"Grandpa Riku." Both said in unison.
"My God," Riku thought to himself, "I must really be getting old alright. I keep forgetting how big those two have grown."
"Are you ready for the ceremony, grandpa?" Marcus asked.
"Of course I am." Riku chuckled. "I'm always ready."
"Grandpa Sora and Grandma Kairi are already at the memorial." Kadaj said. "They called us up a few minutes ago."
"I must be falling behind in my times. I would usually be the first one there."-
"Shall we go then, dad?" Vaughn asked.
"Of course, let's skedaddle."-
"The rest of the families are also gathering at the battlefield memorial for the opening ceremonies. They should be starting the ceremony in about an hour or so." Vaughn turned to his sons. "Help your grandfather to the car, you two."
"Right," Kadaj and Marcus replied. They took Riku by the hands and led him to their auto. Riku slid into the seat of the car with young Marcus at his side. Vaughn and Kadaj get themselves in and the car drove off towards the town cemetery.
As they drove off, Riku looked outward to the bustling streets of his hometown. It was no longer the way he remembered it. The town had grown substantially since he was a boy. It had become a metropolis of galleries, folk art, industry, and commercialism, combined with a sense of agricultural. Looking to the growth of his hometown, Riku underwent a moment of nostalgia and his long lost youth.
"There was a time when I was able to do anything." Riku uttered. His son and grandsons listened. "I could recall an age, before I became so shriveled up, when I could leap over the tallest of buildings, fight the greatest of foes with the strength of a hundred men, and was agile as a cat, with reflexes as quick as lightning." Riku raised forth his hand. "And I remember the keyblade."
"Was your keyblade really powerful, grandpa?" Marcus asked.
"Of course it was. And it still is."-
"Wow, can I see it some day?"-
"C'mon, Marcus," Kadaj said, "You don't really believe in all that keyblade nonsense do you?"
"Oh it isn't nonsense, Kaddy." Riku replied. "It's just as real as you and I."
"That's the truth, son." Vaughn added. "The keyblade is real. I've seen your grandfather use it too. In fact if I recall, there were two of them. Of course I was very young."
"Then how come we've never seen it since then?" Kadaj asked.
"My heart just isn't what it used to be I guess." Riku explained. "Then again, you could always ask your Grandpa Sora. I'm sure he's still capable of unleashing his keyblades."
"I don't know about that, grandpa. His grandson, Abel, hasn't seen it either. He said that Grandpa Sora couldn't summon it anymore."-
"Is that so?" Riku inwardly thought to himself after making his comment. "Perhaps it requires more than just a strong heart to maintain the keyblade's power. It also requires a strong body and mind. Sora and I have lived far beyond our prime. We may have unknowingly passed on our keyblades to a much younger generation, either in this world or the next. Then again, Sora and I may not be capable of summoning them because of our decrepit old age and those weapons are secured in our hearts until the day we die." Riku looked out towards the surroundings the vehicle swiftly passed. "It's been so long since the last time I used the keyblade, I've forgotten how to unleash it. But with such a long era of peace, there has been no need for me to use the keyblade."
"Is something wrong, dad?" Vaughn asked.
"No son, nothing at all. I'm just thinking about the past." Riku kept to himself until they reached the memorial.
It wasn't long before the four arrived at the memorial. The war memorial was a giant statue of copper in the shape of a woman of freedom. In her arms she held the body of a slain soldier, a soldier that bore a striking resemblance to Kirin. The woman pointed to the vast open fields to which the erected stone epitaph overlooked. The statue had long since been deprived of its golden shimmer. It had dulled down to a dull brown. Yet the sight of the image of the woman girdling the fallen combatant was still a stirring and powerful image to look at.
Assembled below the memorial were thousands of white chairs to which the general public was to seat themselves. There was a great collection of flora placed specifically along the walkways and upon the stage where the important attendants would be stationed. The day was clear, a good time for solemn remembrance.
As Riku was assisted out of the car by his two grandsons, they were met by Sora and Cunla. Sora had ripened well through the years. Though his youthfulness had left him, he still had that look that made him seem younger than he actually was. His vibrant brown hair had turned grey and he was slightly thinning at his temples. His face bore a few wrinkles, but not so much that people might mistake him for being over a century old. Even as a man in his seventies, Sora still had that happy smile on his face as he did when he was still a boy. He was accompanied by two of his granddaughters, Elva and Mimi, beautiful as any eye could behold, and one of his grandsons, young Jonahs, a strong young man for the age of fourteen and best friends with Riku's grandson, Marcus.
Cunla had also aged substantially. His hair too had thinned and grew grey. He also bore a bushy moustache, which was normal for a man in his late sixties. He was still thin, agile, and feisty, showing that the spark of youth had not truly diminished. Cunla was accompanied by his eldest granddaughter, twenty year old Emer, and his youngest grandson Setante, who was also another close friend with Marcus and Jonahs.
Riku, Sora, and Cunla converged.
"Hey there, Riku," Sora chuckled, "How have you been doing? We haven't seen each other since Christmas."
"I just haven't been my old self lately." Riku replied.
"Our age is catching up to us, old friend." Cunla chuckled.
"I'm glad to see that you two are still healthy. By the way, where's Kairi, Sora?"-
"Oh she's already seated herself at the head with the other VIPs." Sora replied. "In fact, we should get ourselves over there now. The ceremony will be starting soon."
"We'll go to our seats too, dad." Vaughn said.
Thus, all except the three elders went to their seats stationed at the first row. Riku, Sora, and Cunla made their way towards the stage. There, Kairi awaited them.
"Riku, Cunla," she said, hugging them both as they approached.
"You look well, Kairi." Riku complimented. "I hope that you are in good health."
"Of course I am, silly. Shall we take our seats?"-
As the hour passed, and the seats had been filled to capacity, the brass band began to play a triumphant tune to signal the opening of the ceremony. Cunla was the first to take the podium and speak. He was after all the chairman of the Destiny Island National Battlefield Park. He looked over the crowd and openly spoke with powerful tones.
"We have gathered here today to mark the sixty-fifth anniversary since the great battle of Destiny Island." He began. "We do this not only as a commemoration to that epic struggle and for those who were killed here, but for all those in every other world who were fighting that similar enemy. This battle has proved to be the turning point, where the tide started to shift in favor of our cause. To many of you young folk, such events seem trivial and so far distant. You may not think it relevant. However, many of your families have been affected by the outcome of the Battle of Destiny Island. Your grandparents, those who are still alive now, underwent that horrific period, where death and destruction reigned down on them and pelted their minds with permanent scars. Never again will their lives be the same and never again would this world find itself isolated. In fact, many of you have come to accept those who are from other worlds. You students at the university have come in contact and have made friends with other students who have traveled from other places outside of the Destiny Island boundaries. That is another reason why this battle was so significant. It opened the Destiny Islands to the outside, realizing that there is an even greater world out there. Hence, you have gained a sense of social bonding. You no longer feel isolated. This world does not feel isolated. As a boy, I had always had a fascination with wanting to see different places. As a teenager, I had experienced that. And the vastnesses of the worlds we live in have their good sides as well as their bad. But despite that, we always have that wonder, that feeling of wishing to break ourselves from the confinements of our everyday lives. And the one person who knows that more than anyone is our own honored elder, Riku!"
Cunla and the public began to clap and hoot as Riku stood up to gave his long awaited speech. Riku looked upon the crowd, spying the faces young and old. Seeing the older generation alongside the recent generation gave him a sense of accomplishment. Riku prepared his speech notes. But the most significant gesture was the pulling out of his spectacles. Sora and the other old members of the old KH team felt somewhat saddened to see Riku in his age. Riku placed the glasses over his eyes. He looked upon his notes on his cue cards. He inwardly read the first line. "Ladies and gentlemen, we gather here again to commemorate the great battle…" But he halted his tongue.
"This speech seems so irrelevant." Riku thought to himself. "Every year it's the same thing." He took his glasses off again and looked straight into the eyes of the spectators. He began to speak, not from the words written on the cue cards, but rather from the depths of his own heart.
"I don't know how to begin." Riku began. "I was going speak of the significance of this battle and how it changed our history. But the message has always remained the same, as if it had been rehearsed. And day after day, the remembrance grows frail, not bearing the same type of intensity that it once had. What seems so important to us may seem trivial to you. But then again, that is probably one of the effects that we are pushing for. I look upon so many young faces, a second and third generation sprouting after my own. My own generation is slowly dying out. They were the ones that suffered the greatest, endured the harshest times, and underwent the cruelest of periods. However, that was what we wished, that was something that we brought on ourselves, so that you, the next and youngest generation would keep on living and establish your own futures in a secure world, free from the terrors of the battlefield and liberated from the threat of war. We took the burden of our actions and their consequences head on, thinking of those who have not been born, or those who have not been given a chance to live to their fullest. As I see the happy faces of my children and my grandchildren, seeing so many boys and girls playing about in the neighborhood without fear, and seeing young men and women making something of themselves, becoming responsible adults in an environment without fear, gaining a fine education, that indicates to me that I have done my job. I have achieved my life's accomplishment." Riku turned his attentions towards the youths of the crowd. "You children, you teenagers, you lively youngsters, in the near future you will be the ones to take our places. You will become future politicians, workers, and citizens, etc. and you will be telling your children of your own experiences in life and your own family history. You will reflect on the accomplishments of your lives and would praise or falter within, depending on whether or not your successes have equaled to your standards. You are the ones who will carry on where we left off. I know the harshness of the history that commenced where we stand now. We all know of the blood that was soaked into the ground those many years ago. And taking time to remember the fallen, those who have been interred upon these vast green fields, as well as those that fought on so many other battlefields in other worlds to help obtain this era of peace, is one of the greatest priorities that we have. I am confident that those who fell did not die in vain. Their legacy, both the victorious and the defeated are important. There was no evil. Those who opposed your grandfathers, grandmothers, and I were just as dedicated to their cause and were willing to do anything to see it fulfilled. I know how harsh that sounds, sympathizing with individuals who attacked our world and made us suffer for a time. But what I say is true. We all fought with our beliefs and with our lives. Every drop of blood and ounce of sweat was given up to realize this ideal time of prosperity. However, despite this fact, we fought not only for our individual flags, but rather to help establish a valuable lesson and hope that you, the young people, would not repeat the same mistakes we made. Your elders are slowly dying away and it is you who will be the ones left to continue the story. And when the time comes where war seems eminent, you must take into consideration the lessons that we have left, so that you could continue on with maintaining a stable future for your own children." Riku paused for a moment. "You all bear a proud legacy. Your families have undergone some form of strife as a result of what has gone on in other worlds. Make them proud not only by living, but by taking some time to reflect and know that someone in your family had helped to shape this world of ours."
There was a pause and a silence after Riku gave his final utterances. He feared that he may have made a mistake to make such a declaration aimed at both younger and older generations. He inwardly thought that a scornful sentiment had arisen and his message had failed to get across to the crowd. Perhaps his makeshift speech intensified anti-sentiment. But as he looked of the faces of many in the audience, he noticed that their faces showed not scorn, but a sad jollity. Some bore tears in their eyes.
Then, almost like a subtle thunder that shattered the calm before the storm, there came the sound of a single clap coming from almost behind him. He turned to see his old friend Sora standing from his chair and applauding. His eyes were teary. Kairi stood up as well and started to clap, followed by Cunla. Meanwhile, in the audience, Vaughn stood up and began to clap. His standing ovation affected the rest of the families and close friends. They too stood and applauded. Then, like rising waves, clapping became more frequent as more and more people in the crowd started to clap more frantically. Almost in an instant, Riku saw himself being given a standing ovation by cheering youths and respectful comrades.
"Bravo," some elders would shout.
"Way to go!" the youths cried, hooting and hollering for the elderly man. Riku could not express his thoughts in words. Instead he smiled slightly, expressing his relieved and joyful emotion as he walked away from the podium back to his seat. That was all which was required of him. The message had been made clear to everyone present. And the impact was in a positive manner far greater than Riku himself had expected.
The ceremony went on without incident. The ceremonial procession had gone on as planned, followed by the annual reenactment of the battle itself upon the actual grounds. The event lasted for a full hour with a standing applause at its conclusion. And as the day wore on, the hours growing late, people went their separate ways, back to their ordinary normal lives. But even as their own relatives withdrew after such a busy day, the old KH team members were still together.
"Another successful year," Cunla chuckled, "We've lived to see another passing of the torch, another ceremony gone without much incident."
"I don't know." Sora replied. "Riku's speech was the cream of the crop during all that."
"Was that your actual speech, Riku?" Kairi asked.
"To tell you the truth," Riku explained. "That speech I gave was all in earnest. The original speech was bent on strict dedication to those who died on the field, giving a brief history and the effects the battle had. It was basically the same speech that I gave every year since the day I made my first appearance on stage."
"That's possibly the reason why you were given such a standing ovation." Sora said. "Even I found that speech moving. I believed that you expressed your words with your heart. And now I realize that you had."
"All these years, I'd been speaking about the events of a significant battle, a battle that I wasn't even a part of. Yet I'm always expected to give a speech because of my reputation as being a one of the key players involved in the fall of the Imperial Regime. For the first time in a long time I have expressed my feelings the way I saw fit instead of the way it traditionally was supposed to be."-
"Well, if you have anymore speeches like that, Riku, you should do it again."-
"You certainly got a lot of flowers over it." Cunla chuckled.
"That's true." Riku said. "But then again, it's the same as it is every year."
"I wonder though." Sora looked up into the sky, watching the sun reaching its mid waning phase. "Do you think they were watching us?"
"Our other friends, Kirin, Ophelia, Cuchulain, and the others…?"-
"No doubt…" Riku put his hand on Sora's shoulder. "They have been watching us from the very beginning, watching us live our lives day by day. Don't worry, Sora. In the end, we'll end up together again, friends forevermore."
"Until that time comes, let's make the best of it." Cunla declared. "Our families are forming a get together in our honor. They'll be assembling at the Destiny Island Theater of Arts who so graciously offered to hold our celebration with some good entertainment."
"Sounds like fun." Sora chuckled.
"First things first though." Riku said. "I must first pay my respects to the others. It's only proper that they be involved in our celebration as well."
"Yes," Kairi added. "That would be a nice gesture for us to make as members of the old KH team."
"Cunla, tell my son Vaughn to get ready. We're going to make a quick stop at the graveyard."-
"Right," Cunla replied and went off as fast as his old legs could carry him.
"I've saved the best flowers for them."-
Not long after, Vaughn brought the four elders to the cemetery. Stocked with flowers in their hands, Riku and the others reached KH Row where their friends rested in eternal peace. One by one, they placed the flowers upon the graves of Ophelia, Kirin, and Namine. Kirin and Ophelia, because they were so close, were given the most attention. Riku and the others said prayers in their honor.
But Riku always paid attention to Namine's grave. He always put an equal amount of flowers upon her grave. Though she was more distant to most, Namine was still close to the hearts of the three old friends, Riku, Sora, and Kairi. They said a prayer upon her grave and slowly departed.
"We should get going." Sora said. "The day grows short."
"Just give me a little longer, Sora." Riku replied. "I'll be with you in a moment."
"Take your time, Riku, as long as you require."-
Sora joined the others and looked on as Riku continued to stand before Namine's grave. He slowly lowered himself downward, his knees no longer as loose as they had been in his youth. He looked upon the inscription of Namine's name on the headstone.
"Namine," Riku uttered quietly. "I wish you were here right now, even though I know you've always been there. You'd be proud to see that we have lived our lives to the fullest. I have lived a good life. I have lived it in both the light and the darkness. I have experienced the pains and passions of so many different worlds. I have gone day by day without regret and I have not shut out the lessons learned in the past and the memories that have made me who I am. Thank you, Namine, for everything. You were the one who helped to rekindle the purpose in my life and gave me a reason to live on in full. Because of you, I was also able to keep the fire alive in all my friends and they in return have given me a reason to continue on so positively." Riku touched the writing upon the stone. "I miss you so much, Namine. But I know you were always there watching me."
"Are you ready, Riku?" Sora asked from the distance.
"Everyone's waiting for us." Vaughn added.
"I'll be there." Riku replied. He slowly stood up. But as he did, something caught his eye. Upon the corner of the head stone was a yellow object. Riku's eyes widened and he became short of breath as he laid eyes of the object.
It was a Paopu charm.
It bore a large split in the middle, as if it had been broken in half. Yet now it was mended. It appeared as if it had been for years. Riku's eyes wandered about the graveyard, hoping to spot someone familiar, but there was no one present.
"Riku," Sora said.
"Coming…!" Riku replied. He gave a sigh. Riku uttered no word. He acknowledged what this gesture meant. Thus, he turned away without a second look to join his aging friends. He knew who watched from a distance, but dared not pursue. Riku simple smiled. He knew that terms have at last been settled, terms to his Final Confrontation.