Once, not so long ago, the Dark City was a pleasant place to live, a thriving world nestled snugly in the currents of the Dark Realm. Mind you, that the Dark Realm is "Dark" does not suggest evil. Plenty of Light Realm citizens can be called evil, as good.
Citizens of the Dark City held towards light a similar sentiment and light to darkness: fear. Not outright fear, but one stemmed from misunderstanding. Darkness was their safety, their security. They knew what dwelled within the darkness, and long since made peace with it. What they did not understand was what dwelled in the Light. Is it not human nature to fear what we do not understand?
Alas, if only they knew.
One day, when the city was at the height of its power, a masked man appeared, claiming to be of the light. "Look upon me," he said, "I am of the light. I possess powers of which you ignorant shadow-skulkers can only dream. Kneel before me, for I have come to make this city my own!" So he proclaimed. This strange man appeared from nowhere and demanded absolute fealty from the people. Naturally, they laughed in his face. Some found it amusing and simply walked away with a chuckle; others were enraged and threatened to run the man out of town. The masked man endured their jeers for a time before raising his hand above his head.
A great light spilled forth and the people drew back in fear. When the light quelled, the man held above his head a strange weapon. "Behold," he announced. "The Keyblade, chosen weapon of the Light warrior! Chosen, I was – deemed worthy to wield the Tree of Life!" And it did indeed resemble a tree. The shaft was a dull brown – like wood – and the end branched off into dull metal bars colored green. Black was the hilt and a shiny, red apple hung from a keychain. When he straightened the weapon, more light radiated from it. "You will obey my command."
Still the people were reluctant to make this man their king. He put on a pretty show, but he was just a man. One man. Versus a city.
The masked man saw this in the people, and decided to offer a demonstration of his powers. A young lady he beckoned forth from the crowd. Answer his call she did, with defiance in the eyes and Heart. In one swift motion, the masked man swung the Tree of Life down and thrust it at her chest. She fell back and collapsed on the ground, but her Heart lingered a moment in the air. The citizens watched in horror as dark currents fell upon the Heart and swallowed it. They coalesced, and were the Heart one hovered, now fell a twitching thing of Shadow. Its golden eyes laid upon another and it pursued. But the masked man brought his weapon down again, slaying the dark creature.
This time the man did not speak, but waited as the girl's body vanished into darkness as well. He waited. One by one, the people of the Dark City fell to their knees. The masked man was now their king
Alas, if only they knew.
The masked man was not a good king; many affix "tyrant" to his name, and they are not wrong in doing so. He ruled out of selfishness and fear; he demanded payment in money, food, and women; he threatened the populace with what he did to that poor girl – an act he called "unlocking the Heart". Dissenters were swiftly and immediately silenced, left with Hearts open to Darkness; these dark creatures he would then slay. Legend holds that Hearts were his power – a source of immortality.
Perhaps the worst of all, many elected to serve as his personal guard of their own volition. Fear, respect, and even a certain amount of jealousy compelled them to betray their fellow citizens. They bullied the people just as much as the masked man, sometimes more. They were branded as traitors – heartless traitors – and they took the title with mocking pride: the Heartless.
Alas, if only they knew.
After years of living under the tyrannical rules of the masked man, the people of the Dark City were broken. No ounce of fight was left in them; no will to resist. The masked man could rest comfortably on his throne.
He did rest – for a short time. Then, as suddenly as he had appeared years ago, another man appeared to challenge him. He was a citizen of the Dark City, fueled by his hatred of the masked man, and a desire for a free city. And he wielded a Keyblade.
Whispers of this man trickled up from the people, through his eavesdropping Heartless guards, and finally to him. At first he would not be bothered with such gossip. But, as the rumors intensified, and became a symbol of hope for the people, he had to act. He ordered a taboo on the man – anyone who spoke of him would disappear. No questions. He also demanded that this Keyblade wielding man reveal himself. Eventually this man did show himself. Behind him marched the entire population of the Dark City.
Alas, if only they knew.
"Who comes to challenge my rule?" The masked man demanded.
"I have," The champion answered. "You have abused and oppressed these people – my people – for too long. You have your Keyblade, well, now I have one as well. He extended an arm and in a rush of darkness, his weapon came to his arm. "The Hopes and Dreams of the People."
With a snort of contempt, the masked man called on the Tree of Life, and fell upon the champion. The battle was fierce and evenly matched. The champion fought with all his heart against his faceless oppressor, but it was not enough. The masked man triumphed over the peoples' champion. He called on them for assistance. Asked for their help. Together they could defeat him! They did not help. Instead they backed away, abandoning their champion. How could they just leave him like that?
Heartbroken, the champion let the Hopes and Dreams of the People slip from his hands.
"Admit defeat," the masked man commanded him.
"I am defeated.
"Swear your allegiance to me."
"I swear my allegiance to you."
"You will obey my command."
"I will obey your command."
"You should be punished for rising against me."
"I should be punished for rising against you."
The masked man leveled his blade at the man's heart, and then turned it on the crowd. "You will watch," he commanded the broken man. He turned on his Heartless guards and swiftly unlocked their hearts, letting darkness consume them. This time, he did not strike down the dark creatures, but let them loose upon the crowd.
Punish him, they cried. Punish him, not us! How quick they were to scorn their once-hero.
"I am punishing him. He will watch as those he once championed are consumed by the Heartless men who once lived among them."
And watch he did as the Heartless fell upon the people. Each citizen became a new victim of the darkness. Inside of an hour, the entire city was turned into mindless dark beings. The masked man called them all to him, and they came.
"Seek out the Heart of the World," he commanded. "Find it, and take it, and your Hearts were!" They scattered at his command.
Seeing now that he had no one left to rule, he beckoned the broken man to his side; he came without question. "There is nothing here now, nothing for you."
"There is nothing for me here."
"You will come with me."
"I will go with you."
"We have many other worlds to conquer."
As quickly and as suddenly as he ad appeared, the masked man left the Dark City, this time, with the broken man in tow.
And so the shadows of the citizens searched for years and years for the Heart of the Dark City. It was all in vain, for you see, the Heart of the City was lost the moment the surrendered their city to the masked man.
Feel free to comment on anything you deem worthy of a comment.
Think of the Tree of Life as similar to Terra's Keyblade.