Epilogue: Day 320: Unbreakable Connections.
She found herself stumbling, her metal boots tripping over something that littered the path she walked on.
The same path she had traveled for ten years before.
Aqua wondered how long she had been walking this time.
The last time it had felt like months. It turned out to have been years.
She paused halfway down the path, brushing some of her blue locks away from her face. For a moment, she feels as if she will collapse. There is a terrible exhaustion embedded deep in her body, her soul…
Aqua closed her eyes and sighed deeply. She started to move but paused mid-step, her eyes still closed.
She heard something.
Aqua opened her eyes when she identifies the sound.
It's a soft noise, one she knows by heart.
It's the gentle sound…
Of waves lapping over a shore.
Those Who Still Sleep
Soft footsteps echoed in the small space.
Gentle, blue eyes turn up, gazing at two sleeping figures in the pods.
These two couldn't look more different, the owner of the eyes thought with a small, rare smile.
The one on her left was tall, lanky and dressed in green travelers clothes and cap. Strangely, he was a black skinned (Or fur? She wondered.) anthromorphic dog. In his right hand was a simple steel shield, a mouse head and ears engraved on its surface. The dog slept peacefully, smiling even in his sleep. A goofy smile.
She looked to his right.
Much shorter then his companion and dressed in blue was a white feathered duck, a beret on his head, zipped up of course. His beak parted slightly, snoring even in this enchanted sleep though, thankfully, the container he slept in muffled the sounds. In his right hand was a short wand with a wizard cap atop its point.
Namine smiled up at them, and wondered what they dream of.
Home? Their loved ones? Their friends? Their king?
She turned away from them, resuming her slow walk ahead, the doors ahead parting open with a mechanical hiss. She stepped through them and inside the room.
A Friendship Lost in Darkness and Revenge
His hands moved across the three keyboards, and as they did the 3-D images of Twilight Town's blueprints on the main screen before him layered over until it seemed to be an actual picture of the town itself and not a computer recreation. His orange eye narrowed suddenly, annoyed.
DiZ swiveled his chair around just as 3-D images of the town's citizens began to form on the screen as well. The masked researcher glared down at the short, cloaked figure before him. His single eye wandered to the large ears that threatened to burst out of the intruder's hood. His eye narrowed, a smirk forming on his lips.
DiZ, "I did warn you that they wouldn't hide your ears."
Mickey wasn't amused and continued to glare up at DiZ, his arms crossed over his chest, beady eyes narrowed.
DiZ stared down on the cloaked mouse, neither of them moving or speaking for a long and tense moment.
Then, Mickey's right hand shot out, throwing something that was a blur of blue and green.
DiZ reacted instantly, catching it without flinching in his right hand. DiZ turned his hand slightly, trying to get a better view of the item he now held. As soon as he could properly see it, his eye widened.
Mickey slowly turned his back to DiZ, moving towards the door. But before he stepped through it, he paused, slightly looking back over his shoulder.
Mickey, "You shouldn't hand over such precious gifts."
Then, the mouse king stepped into the shadows beyond the room, and was gone.
DiZ sat there, completely still, staring numbly at the item in his hand.
Then, his other hand reached up, slowly unwinding the bandages from around his face. Curiously, as they fell away into a small pile on his lap, a strange brown smoke rose up from his skin…
And his face turned from darkly tanned, to pale.
Deeply sad and tired orange eyes stared down on the item in his hand, a green gem cracked on one side…shaped like a star.
DiZ looked up to where Mickey had stood.
"My friend…the only gift worth giving to someone who's lost hope…"
A single tear rolled down his cheek, landing in the ugly black crack on the gem's surface.
"Is a gift that inspires hope…just like you did…for me…"
The old researcher buried his face in his hand, hiding his tears…burying them in his haughty pride and desire for vengeance.
A Key of Tragic Destiny…
There was a different feel to the stale air of the Castle That Never Was interior.
Even the Dusks felt it; their lengthy strides now quicker, almost frantic as they moved down the hallways. Away from the Grey Area.
Axel can feel it, and his pace slows slightly. A blonde head of hair passes him, only to pause and look back, blue eyes blinking.
"Something up?" Roxas asks.
Axel doesn't respond for a moment, his green eyes locked ahead, staring straight at the room beyond.
It had already been a den of thieves and liars, manipulators and worse…
But now the stakes had been raised higher than ever.
He could see them all in his mind's eye.
Luxord would be shuffling his cards from hand to hand slowly, his look grim and vindictive.
Demyx would sit cross legged on a couch, strumming his sitar, none the wiser.
Saix would stand with his back to all of them, lunar eyes on Kingdom Hearts, the beast inside him more anxious than ever.
Xaldin would sit in a chair, one lance spinning idly in his hand, his storm blue eyes narrow.
Xigbar would still have that smirk on his face, even now…
His friend's voice broke his thoughts, and the Flurry of Dancing Flames looked down on the younger Nobody.
He was a little surprised to see dark rings under Roxas eyes, and a slight slump in his shoulders.
Axel put on a smile and replied, "Sorry, got lost in my head or a moment."
Roxas grinned back. Roxas, "Well then we're lucky you're back so soon."
Axel chuckled before looking over his friend, his smile now mixed with concern. He placed a comforting hand on the younger teen's shoulder. Axel, "Hey, Roxas, you alright? You don't look well."
And now it is the younger Nobody's turn to hesitate for a second, his tired eyes wandering off for a moment.
Axel already knows the answer to this question.
When Roxas had woke up the night before from whatever had made him pass out, he hadn't been happy to see where he was at. Axel had explained to him a rather convincing story of Xigbar going 'slightly off orders' in his mission too 'retrieve' Roxas and Xion. While Axel had been relieved Roxas had believed him, the teen still wasn't happy to learn that Xigbar wasn't receiving any punishment.
Why would he? Xigbar had been the only one following orders.
But for now, Roxas and Xion were back, and the Superior had them back on heart gathering missions.
The only question was how much longer the two would keep complying seeing how that Xigbar's statement still rang true even now.
There's only room for one Keyblade Master in Organization XIII…
Axel waited patiently for Roxas' response. The teen finally looked back up and replied simply with a smile, "Just a little tired is all. I'm fine."
And Roxas did look tired.
No, correct that.
Smiling back, only not as convincingly, Axel clapped his friend's shoulder and the two resumed their way for their next mission.
But not a heart for either of them to call their own.
The Curtain For The Final Act Unveiled
Deep blue eyes, the color of the ocean, slowly blinked open, gazing up at the blank white steel ceiling of her room.
Xion remained laying on her bed for several moments.
Images from her dreams replayed in her mind's eye.
Of Sora and Kairi watching the sunset on their island homes pier…
Then her mind wandered back to a day before when she had awoken back in her room at the Castle. She remembered Axel waiting by her side. The Flurry of Dancing Flames had explained why they were back here and when he had asked what had happened, Xion had quietly explained that Roxas didn't remember anything about his dreams of Ven or most of the events of Castle Oblivion. And with those memories gone, so were chunks of the last few days of the young blondes life. Axel had quietly listened, though he never knew Xion had left out what she had seen of Roxas' actual confrontation with Ven.
As Axel had said after taking it all in…
It was best Roxas simply didn't ever remember.
Xion slowly sat up, rising from her bed. A glance at her clock told her she had overslept a little and would need to get ready fast. She started to move towards her room's closet, passing her simple dresser and the mirror on it-
She stopped, her deep blue eyes widening. Xion whirled, facing her mirror in disbelief. As she stared at the mirror, her hand slowly reached up, touching her face.
No, not her face.
A boy's face.
Xion could only stare in horror before she suddenly gasped, her arms clutching at her sides as her body was wracked by fierce spasms of pain.
The pain was so bad she was forced to her knees, her hands gripping the floor as the agony spread throughout her whole body.
Xion was terrified, the spasms wracking her body fiercely. Her eyes closed instinctively-
And flashes of memories of that boy once more played in screen of her mind.
She gasped, her eyes opening briefly-
They snapped closed a second later, the pain becoming unbearable and overwhelming.
Slowly, the pain subsided. She didn't rise up immediately though, for she somehow knew she didn't need to look in a mirror to know her face looked normal again as this strange attack subsided.
Her eyes remained close as she fought back the tears welling in them.
I'm running out of time. The curtains about to rise…
She let out a small choked sob.
…and this puppet will have to play her part…
Xion remained sitting hunched on the floor, hugging and rocking herself slowly, whimpering meekly.
Through Nothing… Everything
It was raining again.
The cool water caressed his skin, a gentle touch that he silently reveled in, his eyes closed.
Slowly, burning orange eyes opened, gazing up at the glowing moon of hearts that floated above him, appearing only a few feet from his grasp but in truth, the great force above him was beyond his reach.
He bows his head, no longer finding any solace in his gazing.
It only reminded him of what little he had left.
His eyes close again, remembering her unspoken words.
"I will never be yours."
For a moment, he simply stands there, letting the rain and light bathe him, cleanse him.
Then, his lips move.
His voice is soft, softer then it has ever been in years.
Xemnas tilted his head up and back, his eyes opening and gazing up at his Kingdom Hearts, his right arm slowly reaching out towards it, then his left, both arms reaching for the great moon of Kingdom Hearts. His burning orange eyes flash in desperation…
A desperation that had been building for ten long years.
"I promise…soon…I will make things…right…"
He would reach a higher existence, through Kingdom Hearts…
His true ambitions would at last be fulfilled.
A Moment of Repose Down the Road to Dawn
A black gloved hand reaches out, fingers tracing the slashing lines above the black chains engraved on its surface.
Hidden eyes study the door's surface.
Riku stared emotionlessly at the door.
It is not the door itself that has caught his interest but…
Something else. Something behind it.
Calling to him.
Riku placed his other hand on the door's smooth surface, both of his hands lying flat against the door, directly under the slash marks and above the chains. Slowly, almost hesitantly, he leans closer, resting his forehead against the door as well.
Behind his blindfold, his eyes close.
And he rests.
For a sweet and painfully brief moment, he was rested and content.
The aches in his body and heart are relieved for only a moment but it is a needed moment.
And he savors it.
But like all others, it passes.
Riku leaned back, stepping away from the door.
He moved his left hand away, but his right lingers, caressing the surface of the door.
Riku found himself wondering what was behind these doors.
His right hand slips away and he turned away from the door.
Without looking back, Riku walked back towards the shadowed hallway, the only light emitting from the door.
Riku vanished into the shadows, forsaking the light of rest for the painful awakening the darkness forced upon him.
Two Who Were Destined to Meet… Torn Apart By Fate
It was a beautiful day. The blue skies above were clear of any clouds, the sandy shore warm to rest on, and the ocean waters slow and peaceful, melodic.
It was a perfect day, as always.
Kairi stared at the clear sky and peaceful waters, her deep indigo eyes lost, a small smile on her lips.
She loved days like these.
Or rather, she used too.
On days like these they would all gather on this little island, enacting adventures, building more treehouses or duke it out in friendly brawls.
But not anymore.
Kairi shifted herself a little, rising up into a better sitting position. As she did, her right hand reaches up, brushing several long auburn strands behind her ear, and she turned slightly, looking down past her left side.
Resting near her left hand was her small pack, the top open, revealing a few sheets of paper and ball point pen.
Kairi stared down on the items, wondering why she even brought them.
Well, that wasn't the truth. She knew why she brought them.
She wanted to write a letter.
But, she asked herself, her eyes closing.
Her lost friends? She didn't know where they were. So what would be the point?
They were gone. Perhaps forever.
The ocean waters suddenly moved quicker, a strong wave washing over the sandy shore, just stopping centimeters from the tips of Kairi's sandals. Kairi blinked, looking down when she felt the slight spray of warm water on the tips of her toes.
And she sees something sparkle in the sand.
Kairi winced, the slight shining flare momentarily very bright. Curious, Kairi reached forward, her fingers brushing the wet sand aside easily. Her fingers touched something hard, yet loose, made of multiple chinks.
Grasping the chain, Kairi pulls it free easily and holds it up to her face at eye level, the last particles of sand falling away. Kairi stared at it, amazed. She can't find a trace of the sand that once covered it on its flawless surface.
Then she saw something swinging gently at the end of the chain, a flash of blue in the sunlight.
Kairi shifted the chain between her fingers, the little charm at the end now resting in her palm.
It is a strange little silver charm with a flawless blue sapphire set in its center.
Kairi stared at it, her mouth opening slowly in awe. The blue light reflected in the gem flashes over her eyes.
And Kairi gasped.
Something else flickers in her eyes.
A memory only she can see.
A memory only she can understand.
…that explains so much.
Tears slowly gathered in the corners of her eyes as she stares at the little key chain. She holds it to her forehead in a silent prayer, and a single sob slips past her lips. And then, she takes one shuddering breath, letting her hand and the key chain fall into her lap.
Her deep indigo eyes open, and she smiles, gazing out at the clear and familiar blue of the ocean waters.
Then, Kairi reached for a sheet of paper and her pen, resting the paper on her lap and holding the pen in her right hand.
She stared down at the paper, and for a moment she searches for words.
They come easily.
The tip of the pen touches the paper and very slowly and carefully, the movements gentle and delicate, she begins to write her letter.
A letter to a boy whose face she cannot see in her mind's eye.
A boy whose name escapes her every time.
But a boy she cannot stop thinking about…
A boy embedded deep into her heart, so deep, not even her lost memories can take him from her.
Kairi writes the words, familiar and vague, words that inspired her in a weak and dark moment…
Words she hopes will inspire hope to someone else in another dark moment.
~Thinking of you, wherever you are,
We pray for our sorrows to end,
and hope that our Hearts blend~
And the rest…
The rest is meant to be heard…Another day…
Where Earth and Water Meet
Blue eyes gaze upon black waters that glow slightly under a single star.
Aqua stares in wonder at the sight before her.
Its sands were black as midnight, its waters darker still, strange rocks with glowing blue lines engraved on their surface, appearing almost like veins, and even more of these rocks rising and twisting into the air, moving towards the single star that hung over the waters like a setting sun.
It is a strange shore teetering on the edges of both light and shadow…
She stared, approaching no further.
She did not believe a single mote of light existed in this foul realm, but here it was, proof before her very eyes of light within darkness.
It was small but still here…
Aqua moved slowly, her metal boots sifting through the sand, disturbing the peacefulness that this shore had maintained for so long.
When she arrived at the edges of the black water, she stopped.
She stood there, blue orbs gazing out at the white star beyond the dark waters.
And then, she slowly sat down, letting her legs rest for the first time in…
Well, she truly didn't know how long she had been walking.
Aqua stares at the waters and the star, her eyes deep in contemplation…
Was this to be her fate? To fight in the name of light, to safeguard the worlds from darkness in all its different shapes and forms only to be trapped in that same darkness for so long the realm she fought so hard for would just one day forget her all together? Or worse, take every person and place she loved so much away from her and corrupt it past the point of recognition?
She pulls her knees up, wrapping her arms around them.
Aqua has never felt more alone, or so weak.
What was the point? What was the point of fighting for light when darkness would just eventually swallow it all anyway? Why have all this power, this title of mastery…
If in the end it all amounted to nothing?
Her breath hitches but she sheds no tears and lets out no sobs.
She will not cry.
Not in this place.
A single noise breaks over the peaceful laps of the waves on the shore.
Aqua blinked, her head rising up slightly, turning around a few times in wonder as she looked for the source of the sound. She went still when she heard it again.
As something brushed her boot.
Blinking, she looked past her legs and down at the shoreline.
Once more, Aqua found her sapphire eyes widening in wonder and shock.
It was a single item that had made the sound. It was small, no bigger than her palm, and was orange in color, with five pointed sides, one broken and hanging on by a golden splinter of the center that once held it all together. Aqua could only stare in wonder for the longest time.
And then, very slowly and carefully, as if frightened she would touch it and it would crumble away, the water maiden reached out for it. And her fears were disproved.
With a shaking hand, she grasped the small object and held it up in wonder, her eyes looking over its surface, lingering on the crack that had nearly shattered and broken it into two, amazed it had stayed together as it did.
She knew what it was, for she could never forget it.
It was Terra's star charm.
For a split second a thousand questions raced through her mind, the most prominent the most obvious.
Why was it broken? Who had broken it? How did it get here? Why was it here?
How had it arrived to her?
Aqua stared at the simple item, holding it closer to her chest.
And no sooner had it moved an inch closer did a bright burst of orange light radiate from it.
Aqua gasped, and then there was another flash, a bright blue one from inside her shorts pocket.
Aqua looked at her side and stared in wonder as her own blue charm rose into the air and moved towards the broken orange one.
Aqua watched in silent awe as her charm reached out slowly, the left tip touching the broken tip of the orange one…
And passing a golden light through it, weaving small tendrils of light that lifted the broken tip and held it up right as the light mended the cracks…
Binding it in place once more.
The light between the charms faded but did not dissipate, leaving the two charms glowing a faint orange and blue as they slowly settled into her hands, and Aqua was surprised as they pulsed in her palms, slowly, but powerfully.
Aqua could only stare at the charms, her awe never fading from her eyes.
And then she felt something…
A familiar presence…
Still sitting, Aqua slowly turned her head to look back.
But saw nothing, save the unfamiliar terrain of this otherworldy realm.
Disappointed, she turned back towards the shore, looking down at the charms in her hands. She stared at them, wondering.
A small, almost shy smile crept unbound onto her lips.
She whispered words familiar, but unspoken.
"That's right… I had forgotten, hadn't I?"
She let out a small laugh, one of both happiness and deep sorrow.
She looked up, gazing at the single star beyond the shore, the faint light threatened to be consumed by the dark depths it hovered over. But it floated over them, refusing to go out.
A single tear ran down her cheek. Her lips moved slowly, her words more quiet than any whisper.
"There's always a way…"
And Aqua felt something in her heart she hadn't felt in a long, long time. It was a flicker, but like the star in the distance, it would not go out easily, or quickly.
It was the light…
Aqua smiled, prepared for however long it took, but deep down she knew…
"I'll be waiting…Terra, Ven…For that day…"
And while still far away…
…that day would come.
And The One Who Waits…
It is a room with glowing green and blue electronic wires and diodes on the floor and white walls that glowed as well. In the center of this room was a large crystal pod, easily triple the size of a full grown man, capable of holding a person easily. Strangely, its shape was reminiscent of an un-bloomed flower.
Namine walked up to it slowly, standing in front of it completely, a pale hand reaching out to touch its white surface.
As soon as her slender fingers touched the front of the pod lines of light crisscrossed over its form.
Namine stepped back a little, watching the glowing lines fade away…
And the pod finally did bloom like the flower it was shaped after, the crystal plates spreading open before her, the panels unfolding out…
And revealing what-no, who-lay sleeping inside.
He didn't look any different than the last she saw him, though she noted with some amusement his red pants seemed a little shorter, his skinny calves and shins beginning to stick out. She smiled up at his sleeping form, floating in an unseen wind, the locks of his spiky brown hair floating slightly as well.
Namine took a deep breath, closing her eyes and holding her hand to her chest for a moment. Then they opened, the crystal blue orbs shining with determination she once didn't have.
But he had given her.
Slowly, but not hesitantly, she walked up and across the bloomed plates and towards his sleeping form. When she reached him, Namine paused, looking closely at his spiky locks. Now that she was closer, the girl in white could see they weren't pure brown anymore but in fact lighter now, much lighter.
She reached out, gently stroking one of his locks.
Namine smiled at his sleeping face, so clam and peaceful.
Namine, "You two are a lot more alike than I thought."
She moved her hand away from his light locks, looking at the hood of his dark blue and white jacket. Namine smiles when she sees a much smaller creature, also asleep and curled into a little ball, his arms under his head acting as a pillow. A little cricket wearing a black jacket, his blue top hat and a folded, red umbrella resting in his arms.
And something else as well.
A simple little notebook, a golden crown engraved on its leather cover.
Namine looked at the little cricket, smiling apologetically. Namine, "I hope you will forgive me for this, I understand it's your private journal Jiminy…"
With another sigh, Namine raised her right hand, her index and middle fingers raised. There was a small flash of light from the tips of her fingers and then a second flash resonated. From the journal.
Jiminy shifted in his sleep, his hands clutching empty air as his small journal glowed and floated away from his grasp. The small item floated away from Jiminy and past Namine, floating in front of her and the two sleeping beside her.
Once it was a few feet away, the journal flashed brightly, the glow intensifying until finally it faded away just as quickly as it appeared…
And the journal had quadrupled in size, becoming regular size instead of cricket size.
Namine slowly approached it, the cover opening to the first page. When the young girl saw what was written on the front page, something in her chest ached.
It was only two words but they meant more to her than anything else while at the same time they broke her a little inside, because only she understood why they were there.
The two words were spelled in bold print and impossible to miss as they took up a whole page:
The girl in white sniffled suddenly, quickly wiping at her eye. There was still something she had to do and she had to do it fast before DiZ noticed she wasn't in her room.
Looking back at the journal, the pages began to flip, slowly at first, a few at a time, but soon they increased in speed, dozens of empty pages flipping open in a single continuous blur.
It stopped on the last page.
Namine took in a deep breath, her eyes closing briefly.
Then she raised her right hand.
In her hand was a pencil.
The journal floated towards her, flattening slightly, lying before her.
Namine's pencil touched the blank page and was still for a long moment. She wasn't a writer and she wanted to choose her words carefully.
Then, she slowly began to write.
It was a strange message, and like the one before it only she would understand its true meaning. At first.
When she dotted the message with a single period, Namine looked down on the eleven words she written:
Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it.
Gently, she closed the journal. It flashed again, shrinking back down to its original size.
The bite sized journal slowly floated back behind the sleeping boy's head, falling gently back into the arms of its owner.
Jiminy Cricket instantly cuddled with his journal, a smile appearing on his lips as it returned to his arms.
Namine stood with her back to the sleeping teen and Jiminy, her thoughts lost.
Then, she stepped off the lowered plates, standing back on the glowing floor of wires and circuitry. She turned, her crystal blue eyes watery. Namine clutched her hands to her chest and bowed her head, as if in prayer.
She looked back up at his sleeping form.
"We have all asked so much of you and your friends…and it pains me to ask you to help us all again…one day soon…"
She bowed her head again, eyes closing.
When she looked back up, a single tear ran down her cheeks.
Namine, "But you…you are the key, Sora…"
Reacting to unseen and unheard commands, the plates of the crystal pod began to rise back up, returning to their un-bloomed state and began to obscure the sleeping boy's face and form once again.
But, just as his form was completely cut off, Namine smiled and whispered:
"The key…that connects us all…"
For An Awakening Meant For Another Day.
It's a room of pure white.
There are glowing chains embedded in the wall and on the floors.
The chains all rose into the ceiling and descended back onto the floor, all converging forward and meeting at one point.
A single white throne sits in the middle of the room.
And sitting upon this throne is a boy.
He looks no older than thirteen, the ravages of time not having touched him as he slept in this room.
His blonde locks spike up, his eyes are closed and his chest rises and falls in slow intervals.
He is in a deep sleep.
His hands lie limp on his legs, the palms open slightly.
He holds something in his right hand.
It is a simple item, but one he cherishes and values above all other possessions.
It is a star shaped charm, with a silver heart charm embedded in its center.
And as this sleeping boy holds this charm, clutching it with a deep care and limitless affection…
His lips move slightly, in a small smile.
For while his sleep is deep and undisturbed…
He still dreams.
And it is a single, recurring dream.
In the dream…
Three friends sit under a starry night sky…
They each stare up with eyes a shade of different blue.
The blue of the morning sky.
The blue of calm waters.
The blue of indomitable will.
Each friend gazes upon the stars and wonder about the worlds these stars represent.
And as the sleeping boy dreams, his smile widens.
For while it is a familiar dream of a memory long forgotten by many, it is not a memory to him, but a sign of what is to come.
He dreams not of a past forgotten…
But of a future certain.
Kingdom Hearts: Body and Soul