When I last saw home... no... when I last saw my prison, was when Terra saved my life.
Master Xehanort had given me the truth, the real key to my existence. I'm nothing more than a weapon generator. And when he'd told me this, through the stabbing pains in my skull, I remembered... I remembered being unable to move, unable to think, I remembered... Master Xehanort presenting me to Master Eraqus. I couldn't hear their voices, but it was them.
Master Xehanort wanted me to clash with my dark half... and form the χ-blade. And... Eraqus knew about my ability to do it. He probably told him back then... And Eraqus, knowing this horrible truth, wanted me kept inside the walls of the school. He never wanted me to leave. He'd even ordered Aqua to bring me home.
I had to face him. Master Xehanort's spell swept me up into space, and from there it was too easy to find my world. (Or was it really my world?)
I touched down and made my way up the steps to the building. But every time I took a few steps, something was... I dunno, holding me back. Like I... didn't want to do this. Like I really did want to be trapped away, so that I could never be used... But that was impossible. I was already swept up into this so badly that... If there was anything that I wanted to do, I had to know this at the least.
"Ventus." And with that, Master descended the stairs to greet me. "You're alone? I thought Aqua would..."
I simply gave a sigh back, bowing my head. He approached me, kneeling down and grabbing my shoulders. It took me about a second to tense up like I had expected I would. "Well, what matters is that you're home. You don't belong outside this world yet" he mused, shaking his head at me. "You need to stay here, where you can learn-"
"In your prison?" I interrupted, head still down.
Finally his hands shifted from my shoulders, and I looked up at him as I spoke. "That's your excuse... for keeping me imprisoned here, isn't it!"
Master stood up, and his appearance suddenly was imposing. I'd almost forgotten how short I was for my age, and now that height issue came into focus. "What did you hear?" He eyed me suspiciously.
I flung my arm back into a ready battle stance, flexing my fingers, hoping to seem threatening. "That I'm supposed to be some kind of weapon... Some kind of... χ-blade!"
As I watched, the Master ran his hand down the scar on his face. I'd never given it much thought, seeing as how he'd had it ever since Master Xehanort gave me to him. "I knew it. Xehanort - he could never let it go." Let go... what? Was... Xehanort the cause of those scars?
There was a moment, as if he were remembering something (though not with the same headaches I'd suffered). Then he rubbed the side of his head. "I failed." His voice was low, and almost monotone. "I had the chance to stop him and couldn't do it... But I will not fail again!"
He threw his arm out in a sweep and summoned his Keyblade, taking it in both hands. "Master!" I exclaimed, backing up. "What are you..."
"The χ-blade has no place in this or any world." The tone was... resigned? "Xehanort has made his purpose clear... and I am left with no choice.
But I couldn't...
"...but you must exist no more!"
Within an instant his spell was cast. The bright light hurtled at me. I could see... more chains, coming for me, coming to ensnare my body. Maybe to bind me in place, constrict me, crush the life right out of me. But I already couldn't move. I was paralysed in total fear... I was strong, sure, but not strong enough to block the assault headed for me.
I fell to my knees, and made to scream.
My eyes opened to a flash of light, and before me stood Terra, clad in armour, and blade raised. It - it was unbelievable... How did he know! How did he know I was in danger!
Not that Terra even noticed my plight. "Master!" He cried. "Have you gone mad!"
Master lowered his blade in shock. "Terra! I command you - step aside!"
Terra's armour faded away, and for the first time in what felt like years I saw him, finally showing his true colours. "No!" He was unflinching in Master's gaze. He even sounded cocky, and for the first time in those four years I had known them that cockiness felt like more than enough respect for Master Eraqus.
"You will not heed your Master?"
Once again, that sort of sorrowful face came back to Master. He groaned in frustration at us. "Why do all my attempts to reach you fail? If you don't have it in your heart to obey..." He looked up, and it seemed like tears were about to stream out of his eyes. "...then you will have to share Ventus's fate!"
And indeed, one little tear was shed, as he then charged at the both of us, blade raised once more. I flinched, covering my eyes, but when no sickening thud met my ears I looked up again to see Terra blocking each strike as best he could. But I knew... Master was better than Terra. Eventually, Master would win the fight, and then Terra would be destroyed and-
It was better only one of us took the hit, and it might as well be the weapon. "Enough! Terra! He's right-" I yelled.
Master then leapt back, calling up his vicious attack again. The light swarmed around the tip of his blade, and then it was fired at us. The two of us were blinded and knocked back. My head struck the floor as I flipped over onto my stomach, and suddenly my eyesight went blurry. I felt an arm scooping me up around my waist. Terra?
There was some kind of humming in the background, and the hand around me clenched.
I heard Terra's voice. "You may be my Master..." And then there was a sudden surge of... something. Something absolutely sickening. It didn't smell or taste of anything, but right in my heart I was ready to throw up on the floor. "...But I will not let you hurt my friend!"
Master's voice was distant, blanked out. I could only vaguely hear the word 'darkness' in my current state. And then I was thrown back onto the ground, once again my head skidding across the grass. My arms finally found strength, and I pushed myself up.
All around me was darkness, threatening to swallow my entire being up in an inky wave. Terra was standing his ground. They were ready to battle once more, and I was about to be taken away again...! I called out to them, but with my legs still paralysed the black closed around my vision easily.
I was spat out onto a beach. The jolt to my back knocked me to my senses, and I pushed up immediately. I was underneath a bridge heading out to a circular islet, and the portal was still ahead of me...
But as soon as I ran to it, coming out of the shade into the brilliant white sun, it vanished into thin air, leaving me more or less stranded in this strange, quiet place. A wave of anger took over my body. No, I had to stop this. I had to save Terra! I reached up for the panel on my shoulder-
Once again a voice broke me out of my self-absorption, and it was familiar at that. I turned around and looked up to see the masked boy, Vanitas, standing on the bridge. He looked somewhat relaxed, as usual.
I didn't want anything to do with this idiot. "I'm through with you," I told him, and headed towards a wooden door in the cliff.
"Well, I'm just getting started with you," he replied, sounding ridiculously bored. "You're finally strong enough to fulfil your purpose... So what are you waiting for?" I stopped. "Join with me, right here and now. Become the χ-blade."
"...No. I won't do it." I looked back at him, taking in his figure. "He told me the only way the χ-blade can be forged is if you and me fight. Well, guess what... I'm not fighting."
There was a silence. "...You used to be too broken to talk back."
The sharp pains came back again. My hand instinctively went back to my forehead, trying to do something, anything to make it just stop... Not that it ever worked before, but I was hoping... I was hoping it was possible. The world around me was forced into white, and memories began to surface again.
Me surrounded by creatures, not Unversed, not anything I could identify at all. Master Xehanort yelling at me to embrace darkness. Blackness taking me over, my body becoming slack and useless. Xehanort kicking me over... summoning a light from his blade, and shooting it directly into my heart. Something leaving me... Something I needed... or so I'd thought...
And a voice, worn and tired. Master Xehanort's. "Empty creature from Ventus riven... to you the name Vanitas shall be given." "Yes, master..."
I tugged myself back into the real world, trying to take on the pain that had overtaken me and thoroughly failing to defeat it.
Vanitas spoke again, his voice still rife with boredom, as if my pain wasn't enough to entertain him. "Fine. Then I'll give you a reason to fight."
The last of the headache vanished as I turned around. "What?"
"Come and find me, at the one and only place to spawn the χ-blade," he continued, as if completely unaware of my speaking. "The Keyblade Graveyard." The graveyard... the Badlands? Was that what the place was called? "There, you're gonna see me choke the life out of Terra and Aqua. Then we'll see how long you play the pacifist."
He then vanished into an explosion of darkness as I cried out, horrified. "Terra, Aqua..." I scooped the Wayfinder from my pocket and clutched it. "I swear I'll put an end to this." I summoned my Keyblade, pointing it at the other side of the beach and calling up a portal of my own. Slapping my armour on I activated my Glider and headed through the door into space.
However, once I made it out of there a strange curiosity took my body over. Before I could do anything I needed to see Eraqus and make my apologies. I really was too dangerous... but I had to get the words out first, if I wanted to atone.
I made my way back home once more, and touched down on the summit of a mountain I had travelled to the day before my journey started, to watch shooting stars. But as I looked around, the sky was was pitch black, with clouds like smoke swirling above me. The lights around the place were switched on, bleeding out the view of the school. I'd have to get further down the path in order to see it more clearly.
I headed down to the training area, feet splashing in the water. The water-lilies were undisturbed, and all the chairs and tables were abandoned. Not unusual, seeing as it was dark, but me, Terra and Aqua weren't the only people training here. I had seen a few other apprentices in my time here, under different Masters, as well as caretakers up-keeping the building.
Our practice equipment was still here, but the shine had dulled considerably from before. Usually there was a man who came down here to polish the targets and get rid of the scratches, but such care apparently hadn't been given in the time I'd been absent, and the chains were starting to look as if they might snap. I resisted the urge to bat them around. I continued my descent.
The school was almost visible now, parts of it shrouded by night. I crossed the bridge, hurried to the old broken arch, and-
The road forward had collapsed, just past the curve of the mountain. I couldn't head out any further.
And then I realised I didn't need to.
The place I'd called home, and now called prison, had been wrecked severely. An entire wing had been snapped off the side by some great force, and a huge chunk had been torn out of the other. A tower and part of a bridge were missing. They weren't 'shrouded by night' at all.
The silence then rained down on me. The utter silence.
It was almost certain to me that, with so much destruction dealt to a building as large as our school, there had been no escape for any of its residents. I was standing on a dead world.
And it'll all started - and ended - when I'd made the choice to accuse Master Eraqus of keeping me prisoner. Because he wasn't trying to keep me prisoner at all.
He was trying to keep me safe - from Master Xehanort, from Vanitas, from the truth of my existence and of the χ-blade. And now I was irrevocably tossed into this. I really could never go home.