((This is the story of Kingdom Hearts. It is as you remember it... the story begins on a place known as the Destiny Islands with three children: Sora, Riku, and Kairi. However, if you change one part of the story, everything that follows changes as well. One event leads to another; and like dominos, soon everything follows suit. The question is, what will change when that legendary weapon - the Keyblade - falls into different hands? The answer: everything. ))

But don't be afraid. You hold the mightiest weapon of all.

Darkness rose up around his feet, engulfing him. He tried to struggle away, but was unable to. Suddenly everything was dark.

So don't forget: You are the one who will open the door.

Sora opened his eyes. Above him, he could see a sunny blue sky, white billowing clouds, and...the face of a red-haired girl leaning over him.

"Whoah!" he shouted, sitting up as quickly as possible. The girl burst out laughing, and he turned to her, blushing. "Gimme a break, Kairi..."

"Sora, you lazy bum. I knew that I'd find you snoozing down here..."

Further down the beach, Riku could see the two talking. He smiled, then shifted the weight of the log he was carrying over his shoulder. Sora and Kairi...the two people who were the most important to him. Sora had been his best friend since they were little; Kairi had washed ashore one day. Though Riku asked her often, Kairi always insisted that she couldn't remember where she had come from. She was happy here, why worry about the past?

As Riku drew closer, he picked up the tail end of their conversation.

"...But you know... I wouldn't mind going to see it!"

So, they were talking about Kairi's hometown. Speak of the devil.

"I'd like to see it too... along with any other worlds out there!" Sora said with a bright smile. "I want to see 'em all!"

"So what're we waiting for?"

"Hey, aren't you guys forgetting about me?" Riku interjected, grinning. "So, I guess I'm the only one working on the raft..."

He tossed the log to Sora, who tried to catch it but failed. Riku smirked, then turned to Kairi. "And you're just as lazy as he is!"

Kairi giggled. "So you noticed. Okay, we'll finish it together. I'll race you!"

"Huh?" Sora said, surprised.

Riku groaned. "What, are you kidding?" He had just walked all the way from the raft, he was in no mood to...

"Ready? Go!"

Riku and Sora exchanged glances, then jumped to their feet and dashed down the beach of their home, the Destiny Islands...

"So, can you gather the rest of the supplies? Sora, are you listening to me?"

"Yeah, I heard you..."

From the Paupu tree, Riku watched the two talking. He couldn't help but feel slightly jealous at the attention that Kairi was starting to give Sora. Sora and Riku had always been rivals; it made sense that it was no different when the competition was winning Kairi over. When she had first come to the island, they would do anything possible to try to impress her, to try to outdo the other in front of her; in the process the three friends had grown inseparable. And while Riku was beginning to notice that Sora and Kairi were spending a bit more time together as of late, there was no harm in continuing to try for her. After all, Riku was always the strongest, the fastest... why shouldn't Kairi choose him? That was why Riku was doing whatever he could to help her find her home world, so that she would be grateful to him and see his true worth. Besides, it was always the same old thing on this island. He needed to get away, to see new things... with Sora and Kairi by his side. Getting off of this island was the only way to do that.

Later, the three sat on the bent trunk of the Paupu tree, bathed in the red light of the sunset.

"So, Kairi's home is out there somewhere, right?" Sora asked, turning to Riku.

"Could be. We'll never know by staying here."

"But how far could a raft take us?"

"Who knows?" Riku was silent for a moment; he was well-aware that this was one of the weak points of his plan. "If we have to, we'll think of something else."

"So, suppose you get to another world," Kairi piped up. "What would you do there?"

"Well... I haven't really thought about it," Riku said, frowning. He sighed, then focused his attention at the sunset, so far off on the horizon. "It's just... I've always wondered why we're here, on this island. If there are any other worlds out there, why did we end up on this one?" Riku grinned. Talk of other worlds always excited him. "And suppose there are other worlds... then ours is just a little piece of something much greater. So we could have just as easily ended up somewhere else, right?"

Sora swung his legs up on the trunk, lying down. "I don't know."

Riku rolled his eyes, annoyed by Sora's indifference. "Exactly. That's why we need to go out there and find out. Just sitting here won't change a thing. It's the same old stuff. So let's go."

"You've been thinking a lot lately, haven't you?" Kairi asked quietly.

"Thanks to you," he said, smiling at her. "If you hadn't come here, I probably would've never thought of any of this. Kairi, thanks."

"You're welcome..."

After a while, the three began to head home; their parents would get mad if they weren't home before nightfall. Kairi skipped ahead on the wooden pier; Riku and Sora lagged behind. Suddenly, Riku remembered the conversation he'd had with Sora a couple of days beforehand. Digging through his pocket, Riku extracted the yellow, star-shaped fruit.

"Sora," he called, then tossed it to him. "You wanted one, didn't you?"

"A paupu fruit..." Sora said in surprise.

"If two people share one, their destinies become intertwined. They'll remain a part of each other's lives no matter what." He grinned, teasing Sora. "C'mon, I know you wanna try it..."

Sora turned bright red. "What are you talking..." he began, but was cut off as Riku began laughing. Sora threw the paupu fruit off the pier in irritation, then began to race Riku back to the dock where their rowboats were kept.

"So, what should we name the raft?" Sora asked the next morning.

Riku thought for a moment. "How about Highwind? What would you name it, Sora?"

"Me? Um... Excalibur!" Sora replied. There was a brief silence as the two boys considered how to resolve this disagreement.

"How about..."

"...the usual?" Sora asked, as Riku nodded in agreement. An obstacle course was usually the way arguments were settled between the two boys. This suited Riku fine, as he usually won.

"You guys at it again?" Kairi asked, approaching the two. "Alright, I'll be the judge. The usual rules apply..."

As Kairi walked away again, Sora turned to Riku. "If I win, I'm captain! And if you win..."

"I get to share the paupu fruit with Kairi," Riku replied quietly.


"Deal? The winner gets to share a paupu with Kairi." This would be the quickest way to resolve the question of who had the right to court her. Riku had thought of it on the spot.

"Wha... wait a minute..."

"Okay, on my count!" Kairi shouted from down the beach. "On your mark, get set..."

Several minutes later, Riku had won.

"Alright, so the raft's name will be the Highwind," he said cheerfully. Sora looked annoyed. Riku hesitated for a moment, then sighed. "What? The paupu fruit thing? That was just a joke, Sora. Lighten up." Of course, it hadn't been a joke, but he didn't want to upset Sora. Riku was being stupid... there was no need to mess up their friendship over Kairi.

Later in the day, Riku sat by himself by the Paupu tree, his usual spot. Far off in the distance, Riku could see Sora and Kairi talking on the dock. They looked so happy together... Riku felt something tightening in his chest as he watched. Finally he forced himself to look away. It didn't matter... none of this would matter this time tomorrow. It was always the same old thing here. If he could only get away to another world, he could see new things, do new things, meet new people. The adventures that he, Sora, and Kairi always acted out when they were younger wouldn't be imaginary any more.

So don't forget: You are the one who will open the door.

The phrase kept circling around in his head from the dream he had the night before last. If anything, that dream was the only thing that made him feel certain that their plan tomorrow would be a success. They would reach other worlds...he could feel it.

After all, there was the door that he and Sora had found long ago in the Secret Place. Riku had been the only one to see the keyhole on that door. If he only had the key...

Jumping down from the tree, he began to walk to the docks.

At home, Riku was lying in his bed. He stared up at the ceiling, unable to sleep - he was too excited about the upcoming day. Everything was ready... they had food, a raft... everything necessary to reach other worlds. As he thought over what they would do in other worlds, he began to drift into sleep.

In the distance, he heard the low rumbling of thunder.

"Sounds like a storm..." he mumbled, then suddenly snapped awake. He jumped to his feet and ran out to his balcony. Sure enough, in the distance he could see a strange dark storm forming over the island. "Hell no...the raft!"

Hurrying to get dressed, he ran out of the house, making his way through the sleepy town until he reached the beach. All of the childrens' boats were tied up, except for Kairi's.

Kairi? Please don't tell me she tried to make it there all by herself, Riku thought in a panic. He untied his own boat, then grabbed the oars and began to row from the mainland to the small island where they played. The closer he got, the more the wind picked up; his silver hair whipped about his face, and dark ocean waves rocked the boat. The curious thing was that there was no rain, only wind; and the only storm cloud seemed to be swirling with unnatural colors. The entire thing sent chills through him, but excited him at the same time.

As he reached the dock on the island, he was relieved to see that Kairi's boat was already tied up. Good, she had made it safely. As he tied up his own boat, he looked up and saw the red-head running towards him, visibly frightened.

"Riku! What's going on?" she said, having to shout over the sound of the wind and thunder.

"I don't know! Is the raft okay?"

"Yes," Kairi said. She looked around. "Sora isn't here yet, is he?"

"No, not yet. What's up with this storm?"

"I don't know," she said, drawing closer to Riku and shivering. "It doesn't seem natural...I'm scared."

Riku hugged her. "It's going to be fine, I promise."

Suddenly, the island shook. All at once, the shadows around them began to bend and contort, until some of them actually started to take physical form. Kairi muffled a scream as she clung to Riku's arm, and Riku looked at them in panic.

"What...what are...?"

"They were in my dream..." Riku said breathlessly. Pulling his wooden sword from his belt, he swung it at them, but the weapon did nothing but pass through them like air. One of the creatures jumped at Kairi, but Riku quickly stepped in front of her, receiving a scratch from the creature as payment.

"Dammit...we can't stay here," Riku said as Kairi began to cry in fear.

"What are we going to do?"

"G...go to the Secret Place! I think you'll be safe there," Riku said. "I'm going to try to figure out what's up with this storm!"

Kairi hesitated, then nodded and ran towards the Secret Place, dodging the strange shadow creatures on her way. Riku watched her, brow furrowed.

This is bad...what the hell is going on?

Riku looked up at the storm cloud; by now it was beginning to take the form of a strange dark orb.

It's right over the Paupu island...

Riku looked back down; the dark monsters were beginning to crowd around him. Running faster than he ever had, Riku leapt over the crowd of creatures and sped down the beach, making his way to the small island.

He suddenly stopped in his tracks, for a hooded man had reached it first.

"Wh...who are you?" Riku demanded. "What's going on?"

"The door has opened." the figure said quietly. It sounded like a man.

"The door...?" Riku said in wonder. "You mean..."

"The way is opened. This world has been connected... tied to the darkness."

Riku gasped. "So...we can go to other worlds now?"

"If you embrace the darkness...it will be so."

Without another word, the man vanished in a swirl of darkness.

Riku stood motionless, struck by the man's words. He almost didn't notice Sora approaching.

"Where's Kairi? I thought she was with you!"

"The door has opened..." Riku mumbled, as if in a trance.


"The door has opened, Sora!" Riku said, turning to Sora in excitement. "Now we can go to the outside world!"

"What are you talking about? We've gotta find Kairi!"

"Kairi's coming with us!" Riku insisted. He stared up at the darkness. "Once we step through, we might not be able to come back. We may never see our parents again. There's no turning back. But this may be our only chance. We can't let fear stop us!" He clenched his fist. "I'm not afraid of the darkness!"

"Riku..." Sora said, looking afraid.

Riku held his hand out towards his best friend. As Sora reached for it, darkness swirled up around their feet.

I'm not afraid of the darkness... I have to do this. For Sora...and for Kairi. Now we can escape...

As Sora's hand drew closer, the darkness engulfed them more, until Riku could see nothing.

In his hand, Riku felt something solid, like a weapon. A single word rang out in his mind...