Kingdom Hearts: Reflection
Summary: What if Naminé, Axel, and Roxas were on the Destiny Islands instead of Sora, Riku, and Kairi?
Disclaimer: If I owned it, Sora would not be a big ol' Nobody-killing jerk like he was in Kingdom Hearts 2. We would all learn to coexist peacefully in the natural environment.
Xiana: Chapter 4. This one's intense. XD
Night of Fate
The sea was the color of ink that a squid emits in fear, before the fluid is diluted within the vast ocean. Above, the clouds were feathered like a rare black albatross floating home in the time of new growth. A storm. The first dark masses had begun rumbling over the horizon shortly after I had arrived home, and I had been watching the procession of continually rolling clouds from my window ever since.
The lightning flashed, striking the sea with a crash. I could feel the electricity humming through the air, tingling in my toes and fingertips, and lifting the hair at the nape of my neck with a snap of static.
The wind picked up, rushing at our fragile house and threatening to batter it to scattered debris, howling a chilling hymn of destruction. I felt suddenly secure, knowing that our home had weathered storms much worse than this one, and would continue to stand despite the force of the elements continually waging war against our slim shelter.
I was thankful to have such a sanctuary, but my thoughts were suddenly redirected. The raft! It was tied down only loosely, and if it broke free of its bindings, all our work would have gone completely to waste. We would have lost our raft, and with it, the will to perservere.
"Nami, time for dinner!"
"I'll be right there, mom!" But I wouldn't be right there. I was going to the island, going to protect the raft, going to protect Axel's dream for the future. His words had penetrated the layer of my heart that truly wanted to believe that everything would eventually work out, and allowed me to see a bleak future. A bleak future lacking any semblance of hope. I had been thinking about this while I watched the storm build. I had been thinking about Axel's dilemma. I had been thinking about what would happen to me, and what I would feel if Roxas ever chose Axel over me. Though I certainly wasn't worried about that occurring any time soon, I couldn't help but feel sad and a little hopeless.
I eased the window open and stepped out onto the deck. I was going to save the raft. I was going to save my future. I slid down to the ground and ran to my boat. It was dangerous to sail in a storm, but to me, it was far more imperative that I save the raft.
Bulging raindrops splashed overhead, soaking into my clothing and obscuring my vision. I struggled to navigate, and was only aware of coming to the shore when the prow of the little dinghy dragged into the silt on the coast of the island. I got it up on the beach and collapsed from the strength of the wind against me. The stinging rainwater filled my mouth and pooled around my eyes, trickling into my nose and slowly drowning me. The torrential downpour slaked off and then stopped altogether. I sat up and coughed the water out of my lungs violently before standing and attempting to dry myself off. Leaving my boat where it was for the moment, I jogged slowly over to the jetty, intending to run up the slope to get to the other side of the island where the raft was docked.
I stopped short when I saw two rowboats, nearly the same as mine in both color and form, moored neatly to the little quay. Roxas' and Axel's boats were here. I was relieved, for surely they would have also been aware of the danger the heavy cloudburst had posed to the raft. They would most certainly restrain the raft, and we would be able to set out on our voyage tomorrow morning just as planned. I knew it to be so. There was no possible alternative.
And then I turned around.
The overcast sky was beginning to clear, but it seemed as if a few small black droplets of rain were still falling from above. Curiously, the longer I watched, the more it appeared that the jet-black globules were falling from the same point into the same oily puddle, which somehow remained separate, and refused to diffuse into the rest of the drenched wood. After what seemed like an eternity of me staring in rapt fascination at the continual stream of ebony water, unable to look away from the spectacle or even to blink, the slow trickle of obsidian water stopped, just as suddenly as I had noticed it. I approached the eerie pool slowly, but jumped back in horrified disgust when the beastly pond began to boil and churn like a whirlpool created by an unseen ocean current. And it only got worse.
Soon a curved and grotesque limb poked itself out of the swirling mass of darkness. It was followed by another, and then two more. Now a head with sneaky antennae and citrine fire in place of eyes separated itself from the abstract conglomeration of darkness. A black monster had risen from the familiar landscape of the island.
I scanned my surroundings quickly. My heart was pounding with fear and adrenaline was beginning to course through my veins. More shadow creatures were rising all around.
My only thought was that this all seemed very familiar.
The rest of my body was acting completely on instinct. I found myself rushing the first creature, sword in hand. I beat at it viciously, but it was only stunned temporarily, and staggered just a few hands' lengths backwards before flattening its body low to the ground and creeping around behind me. I jumped forward, intending to dodge the attack I knew would follow, but the fiend was too quick for me and rose from the ground again, reaching out with thin, sharp claws to score the flesh of my unprotected calves. Caught mid-leap, I cried out and fell clumsily to the wooden structure below, rolling off to land in the water. I hurriedly got to my feet, searching for a means of escape. My weapons were completely ineffective. Access to my boat was completely restricted by dark demos. Axel and Roxas were here on the island, but they were likely in the same predicament as I was and would not be able to help. There was no convenient exit, no savior waiting for the most opportune and dramatic moment to miraculously appear and save me.
I ran for the relative shelter presented to me by the seaside shack. I rattled the doorknob hopelessly before finally giving up. Locked? It had never been locked before!
I flicked my eyes to the waterfalls, from which the voice seemed to be issuing. "…Roxas? Is that you?" The knob in my hand jittered slightly, and to my astonishment, now appeared to be unlocked.
I quickly got over my shock and dashed inside, slamming the door and barring it with a long plank and my own body. The invading monsters seemed to be bodily hurling themselves at the door in some twisted attempt to continue their hunt for me. I was sure that the door would hold fast, and I hoped vehemently that newsun would hasten to drive away the dark nightmares. Unfortunately, I recalled that the moon had not even reached the height of its orbit. A very long night was in store for me.
I prayed that Axel and Roxas had managed to take their boats and leave the island. Nowhere on the island would be as safe as this hut was, and I was not willing to open the door without solid evidence that either of the two was standing directly outside. I had decided that I must have been imagining having heard Roxas' voice earlier, and that I had been in such a panic that I hadn't really been turning the knob before. Fear brings on hallucinations, and I was more terrified in this moment than I had ever been during the fourteen seasons, five moons that I had been alive.
I took a few moments to relax. I felt safe and sincerely believed that I would survive until the morning. Even the pounding of the brutes outside seemed to have stopped, and I was far too careless to even consider that they might be planning something a bit more sinister. So overconfident grew I that I decided to move the plank that had obstructed their path and protected me. I cracked the door open to peer out cautiously, wondering if there was any way I could get back to my boat and escape my watery prison. I opened the door wider, carefully, so that I could see out. There was no sign of the herd that had threatened me, but four or five vermin were still patrolling my vessel. I wouldn't be leaving yet. I cautiously re-shut the door and barred it again. I leaned back against the entrance with a sigh and closed my eyes.
They flashed back open and I screamed. In my haste to leave this island of horrors, I had completely disregarded what I already knew about these things. When I had opened the door, I had been so concerned with the status of my craft that I had completely forgotten to look down. The black beings had slipped in under me in their flat forms, and I had not noticed them until I had already gated my only means of escape behind me. And now, these frights were once again rising from the ground, advancing in the same menacing way that they had previously.
The first leaped at me, and I screamed again as I felt its biting talons slice through the loose fabric of my shirt to gash my arm, causing a thin trail of blood to spurt out. This only served to further excite the creatures, and they all dove at me, slashing and gnawing at my exposed skin. I continued screaming until my voice was nearly gone, though I knew that it wouldn't do me any good. I knew I had to flee or die, so I managed to slam a few of my pursuers against the wall and tore off down the stairs. I threw the door open, no longer worried about any kind of subtlety, and rammed it shut with my shoulder before running to the smaller island. This was where I'd make my last stand, and if I was to die tonight, I'd die fighting. My resolve sank at this thought, but as I looked ahead, I saw what appeared to me to be a miracle.
"Axel!" I shrieked hoarsely, dashing still faster to the little isle. "Axel! Oh, Axel, I was terrified! The horrible monsters-they attacked-I tried to-but now…" The adrenaline rush that had kept me alive faded, and all the fear and fatigue suddenly caught up with me. I felt my conflicting emotions expand until they overwhelmed me in a gush of tears. I clung pathetically to Axel, bawling like a baby. He wrapped an arm around me comfortingly.
"Shh, shh, there, there, it's okay, Nami. I'm here for you now." He began rocking me slowly back and forth, and I succumbed to his insistent calming.
"I-I-I was so-so scared… b-but it's… it's all r-right now, right? B-because you-you're here…"
"Naminé… now the worlds are all connected. It's just as that man said before. Now we'll be able to leave the islands! I don't think we need to fear the darkness, Naminé. If we learn how to control it, there'll be nothing to worry about!"
I shrank back. "Control… the darkness? Wh-what are you talking about? Shouldn't we be… Wait! Where's Roxas?"
Axel shrugged. "I'm sure he's coming with us, if he hasn't already left."
"Axel…" I stared at him, unable to believe what I was hearing. "Axel…I-I almost died back there! And you're so confident that Roxas will be fine? What's wrong wit you? Come on! We have to find Roxas!"
"No, Naminé. I'm not going to find him. Either he comes, or he gets left behind. I'm going, Naminé. I'm going now. I'm going ahead to my future, and if you'd rather stay here and lose your life, that's your prerogative!" A huge portal of darkness opened behind him, and he stepped partially through, holding a hand out to me. "Well, Naminé? The choice is yours."
I hesitated. The thought of going to another world with Axel was certainly tempting, and surely anything was better than being left to die here alone on the island of my childhood. He had made my options clear. I knew what I had to do. I took a deep breath…
…and slapped his hand away. "Go ahead and abandon your friend! I know what's most important right now, and that's finding Roxas and staying alive!"
Axel smiled almost sadly. "Yeah, I understand, Naminé. I guess I never really did have a place in your heart, did I? If you're set on remaining here, you might check the Secret Place. He might be there." His expression changed into his usual, mocking grin, and he turned away to disappear into the darkness. Before he vanished, I could have sworn that I heard him whisper, "I hope we… see each other again… find Roxas, and take care of him." And then the darkness closed around him, and he was lost to me.
- - -
The monsters were somehow unable to come onto the island of the paopu tree, and it was here that I stayed for some time, binding my wounds and attempting to rationalize the situation. The shadow creatures had broken down the upper door of the shack, and prowled restlessly along the wooden bridge, waiting for me to move. I looked furtively towards the Secret Place, hoping they wouldn't correctly interpret my subtle glance and foil my plan. To my complete shock, what was once a narrow cave opening was now a huge silver door, with thin glass windows and a complex, swirling knocker in the shape of what seemed to be a dog, with alert ears, vicious canines, and wild eyes. In comparison, the actual knob was quite plain. I focused my eyes upwards, looking deliberately at the smaller buildings in the tree, making sure that the creatures noticed. They shifted covertly; ready to snare me in some sort of ambush should I attempt to run for the tree. Gritting my teeth in preparation, I focused on my plan, and tried hard not to think about what would happen to me if that door was locked.
I backed up a step or two before running forward as rapidly as possible, leaping off the island and sprinting in the direction of the tree. They moved to intercept me, but I shifted in direction and was soon directly in front of the door. I twisted the handle, and it swung open seamlessly, allowing me to enter. I quickly took advantage of this and rushed forward. Once I was safely within, it slammed shut with a metallic clang that echoed throughout the chamber and bounced back with a sound not unlike that of a huge, deep bell. After the ringing tone had finally stopped resounding, a small click, like that of a lock sliding into place, was barely audible. A smoothly gliding gust of wind blew in from where the door was, though this was of course physically impossible. It urged me forward, but I was loath to obey. It hissed slightly before returning with enough power to sweep me off of my feet and waft me through to the center of the cave, taking care not to let me hit the walls or the ceiling. None of this gentleness was evident when it threw me unceremoniously into the smooth rock and faded from existence.
I slid to the earth below me, gratefully inhaling the familiar scent of the moist soil. For now, I knew I was safe, and this time, I was going to stay within my haven. I sat up, dusting the dirt off of my arms, and happened to catch sight of a picture on the rock directly above and to the left of me. It had to be an image from my childhood, but I couldn't ever remember drawing it, and Axel certainly hadn't had the skills to create a work of art such as this. It was a door, like the one I had just run through, but it seemed larger and more… majestic. It was almost closed, but from the small opening, immense light radiated out. Despite the fact that it had been created by very coarse tools, it was so brilliant and utterly beautiful that it nearly brought a tear to my eye.
When did I draw this?
I looked down and away, and focused instead on the wall directly in front of me. It was the portraits that we had drawn this afternoon, but with one addition. A star-like figure was drawn in directly below the Roxas-figure's head. There was a strange mark on the left side, and when I viewed it, it became readily apparent that it was a hand. When he had returned to the cove for Roxas' mushrooms, Axel must have drawn in the paopu fruit, with a hand offering it to us.
I let my fingers play lightly over the rough indentations in the stone, touching the marks that Axel had patiently carved in before choosing a tool of my own and painstakingly repeating the process, with a hand drawn from the empty space below my likeness grasping the empty outline of the little star. I sat back and gazed happily at the new sketch, dropping my rock paintbrush in the dirt.
I relaxed, and I probably would have been able to rest and recuperate here in the Secret Place had it not been for the sudden collapse of a boulder in the roof. It crashed into the center of the cave, revealing the silvery lunar glow of a waning third-quarter moon. The room was illuminated, and all the cave "paintings" seemed to shimmer strangely with light not truly of this world. I shivered.
"Naminé?" The voice was quivery, but unmistakably Roxas'.
"Roxas?" And there he was, standing directly beside the wooden obstruction that had so intrigued us- and the mysterious man- before.
"Nami-né. The door is the key. You… must go through." With every word he spoke, he sounded less like Roxas and more like some kind of possessed puppet. I immediately went over to him, but when I attempted to lay an arm casually on his shoulder, it went directly through him! He slowly began fading out of sight, as did the wooden… door? I grabbed at Roxas again to no avail, but in another moment, he was gone, as if he had never been there. But then again, perhaps he hadn't even been there at all, had he? Fear had brought on hallucinations before. Perhaps this was no different.
But there was certainly no denying the fact that the rock wall in front of me opened up to a new room that I knew had never existed before now.
The strong wind from before returned as a gentle breeze, once again pressing me to move ahead. This time I complied eagerly, my sense of adventure ironically restored by my vision and loss of Roxas.
The path ahead twisted and turned in all directions, leading me past many fantastic sights. I glimpsed a cave full of green, phosphorescent crystals which pulsed steadily. Another chamber was darker than the sky on the night of an eclipse, save for a few little pinpricks of light that glistened like little representations of stars. One little alcove in the wall was filled with huge stalactites, cold to the touch. When I touched one, the tip broke off. I caught it and held on to it, but within seconds, it had formed water in my hand. I shook it away, wondering about this strange phenomenon.
Before I could investigate any of this further, the wind billowed up and forced me back on the path it clearly wanted me to follow. I climbed through the cave for what seemed like an eternity, but I was finally allowed to rest by a huge pool of water. The wind had apparently determined that nothing here would cause any harm to me. I sat down by the reflective surface of the subterranean lake, transfixed by what I saw there. Miniscule fish, bleached as white as a bone, swam blindly, relying on their long, drooping whiskers to guide them through the water and successfully find prey. Kelp fronds glowed steadily in the manner of the crystal I had seen earlier. This small lake seemed to contain an entire ecosystem so fascinating that I could have spent moons observing the seaweed alone.
But the breeze that was my guide would have none of this. After the requisite rest, and after granting me a perfunctory glimpse of the life in the area, it billowed up behind me and forced me to continue my journey.
I walked forward through another eternal night, slightly regretting my eagerness to come through this way earlier, although I knew that in all probability, the wind would have gusted me through anyway. After all, I didn't really have an option. Whenever my pace slowed, a thin stream of wind raced by to hurry me along. If I sat down with an air of concession and defiance, a force like that of a gale would sweep me back onto my feet and press me into going wherever it wanted me to go.
At the top of a steep incline, I finally saw light pouring in from around the corner. I rushed forward gratefully, appreciating that I was no longer confined within that endless dark labyrinth. I had to wait for my eyes to readjust to the unexpected brightness, but as soon as I was able to, I rushed forward to be greeted by the sight of a wide, open plain. The moon hung almost uncomfortably in the sky above, and I realized with a start that it was in almost the same position it had been in before I had entered the Secret Place. Did it mean that time had stopped for me? For my world?
I was walking doubtfully to the center of the plain when I heard an immense crack. The ground shuddered and began to move… to move upwards. The plateau had separated itself from the rest of the land, and as I scrambled to the edge, I realized in horrified awe that I could see the rest of our islands all around from a birds-eye view. There was Lulu's island, with its solitary occupant's lonely hut. There was the larger, main island that I lived on, as did Roxas, Axel, and Tidus. I could even spot my house, with its trademark blue roof, unlike any others around. And there was our play island, now engulfed in shadow, nearly indistinguishable from the choppy seas surrounding it.
I returned to the center. After a lengthy period of time spent wondering what could possibly be happening, I flopped to the sands to stare up at the unwavering moon. It appeared as if there was some sort of blight upon it, some sort of disfigured darkness that seemed to blacken and spread the longer I looked at it. I blinked, and it no longer respected the smooth circle of the moon, it was taking all the light from even the stars, it… was getting… closer?
I rolled away with a muffled grunt as a huge black monster levitated onto my hovering oasis. It landed with a crash that set off a minor earthquake similar to that which had separated this land from the continent, but we remained airborne and almost completely stationary after the vibrations had died away. It stood there. And then turned its gaze on me curiously.
Which is when something inside of me snapped. This behemoth had to be in charge of the littler creatures, and those had attempted to hunt me down and murder me. They had also taken Axel and Roxas away from me, which was almost worse, since I had survived their vicious onslaught. And they were the ones who had forced me to seek refuge in the Secret Place, which had led to that obnoxious wind pressing me forward into this unknown location, which had separated from the earth and alienated me from everything. And it was this demon that would pay for wronging me.
I ran at the leviathan, clutching my useless sword in a clenched fist. Cold fury blazed tightly in my chest, spreading to engulf even my rational brain with overbearing malice. I shouted some inane battle cry and began slashing away at the pitchy fiend.
Irked by my nearly imperceptible irritation, the monster stretched out a hand and pinned me to the ground. My sword went skittering out of reach and off the side of the cliff, but it didn't matter. It hadn't been able to do any damage, and it had just made the thing annoyed at me.
My rage dissipated with the same alarming velocity that it had come with, and I was once again able to think logically. This, I reflected, was where losing your temper got you. Trapped beneath the hand of a shadow demon with no weapon or means of escape. The beast raised its other arm and began to collect dark energy in its hand, forming a massive, glowing ball of sheer, evil darkness. It started moving downwards, ready to crush me.
A nearly indiscernible ray of light hit the area before vanishing and letting the night regain control.
Some impulse told me to raise my right arm, as hard and as fast as I could. Having much little else to do, I obeyed. Something in my hand sliced through the dark skin of the creature in the way that a seagull cuts through the shell of a crab: simply and effortlessly. The colossal titan shrieked a piercing scream, clutching at its hand, which didn't seem to have quite the number of fingers it once did. The ball of darkness neither disappeared nor continued downwards to strike me, but floated into the sky, blocking the moon like some ominous portent. The blade I now realized that I held shone blindingly with all the light and heat of the sun, causing both the demon creature and me to wince from the burning phenomenon.
I recovered quicker, and while it was still distracted by the light and its pain, I ran behind it, searching for a weakness. The chest was the first and most immediately obvious target, but there was a large hole, seemingly removed directly from its body, in the shape of a heart. That meant that the head was next. Keeping a tight grip on my new weapon, which rather resembled the giant key used to unlock the schoolhouse, I began to ascend the monster's legs. It clawed sightlessly at me, but I deflected the blows and kept climbing. When I had reached its neck, I found my balance and struck at its head. It roared in pain and quaked violently, sending me crashing to the earth below. I landed relatively nimbly and raced for cover behind one of the few low-lying bushes scattered around the area.
Still squalling in pain, the monster lifted off the ground, floating into the sphere of darkness. The instant that the tip of an antenna touched it, a funnel of air formed and began pulling everything away from the surface. The immense sucking power broadened its range to sweep over the entire ocean, pulling up every loose particle from the surrounding islands.
I clung grimly to the little shrub. Its roots held tenaciously into the ground, sticking into the scrubby earth determinedly, but I could feel it losing its tight grip. Debris was flying all around, and I could almost recognize some of it. Could that be one of Wakka's blitzballs? Was that the wooden sword I had lost a few minutes ago? Something else caught my eye, and my heart sank, skipping a beat in terror and panic. A blue roofing tile. My home was being destroyed.
"NOOOOOOO!" I screamed, finally losing my grip. I was caught within the whirlwind of lost objects, all of which seemed to be taunting me as we spiraled up, getting closer to the dark energy. And then it loomed before me, embracing me and drawing me in with cold tendrils. I stared into it fearfully, but some wooden plank hit me on the head and I fell unconscious, unknowingly allowing the dark vortex to transport me to another world.
Xiana: Wow, it sure seems like this chapter was dark… I mean, I'm pretty sure Sora didn't get beaten up quite this much… But I like adding stuff, so I'll continue to make additions to the original game.
Next chapter is Traverse Town. There will be Heartless, and Disney characters, and Leon, because he's… just really funny to me.
Darkside Plushies for reviewers! They're cuddlier than they seem! (Holds plushie up enticingly)