Now a lot of you may be wondering: why the heck are you posting an old story? Well, my friends, as if I didn't have enough stuff to do, I think I'm just a masochist that loves tormenting herself with more stuff to do and giving people more reasons to yell at me to finish old things. TwT

But really, this is for fun. I wrote this, my first real story, last year during final exams. And I mean, ALL THROUGH FINALS. Really I should have been focusing on those damn things instead of writing this crap, but that's me. It's not that I can't focus persay, but sort of that once I get focused on something, everything else becomes background noise a little bit. Anyway, because I wrote this during finals, and I was a newbie, it's vastly different than my other stuff. And, because I have a nasty habit of editing even when stuff has already been posted, I thought, "Hey, why not post this as a new story? It can serve as comparison for how much I've grown in the past year, and that way people can choose which version they like better." This version will be a bit different, of course. Don't expect a complete copy of the old story. I'm simply taking what I've learned from myself and others and seeing how this will be different, or similar, to what I wrote as a freshmen. I'm still working on many things as always, I've just been suffering a severe case of writer's block for a little while. Blame the writing staff...oh wait, that's me...TwT

And I have no beta. wah...

P.S. I don't own kingdom hearts or disney or brothers grimm or anything like that! :)


Prologue:

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a beautiful and glorious kingdom. It was a peaceful place and had been for many years, full of beautiful cities and towns built with ancient stones and magics. It was blessed with deep forests surrounding the borders and a pure, glistening river that ran through the very heart of the capitol. But despite the magics and the honest, brave men who defended her, the kingdom was protected best by one lone, powerful spell.

In the center of the kingdom, enshrined in the courtyard garden of the castle, stood a magnificent key embedded in a small pedestal. But this was no ordinary key. No, it also served as a sword for its ruler in times of need, and was a symbol of everything that was good and of light in the land.

It was the kingdom's coronation ritual that only a person who could pull the keyblade from its pedestal would become the next king. But the key would only choose one with a kind and righteous heart to rule; a device set in place by the gods to protect the land and its people. Noble blood was not an issue.

The current chosen ruler was the great King Cloud Strife, a man of strong value and courage. He cultivated the land with a firm hand, as the farmer does to plant the seeds for the coming year, and the people looked to him for guidance and care.

It was during this peaceful time that the king's only son, Roxas, was born. The boy was the spitting image of his father, and as he grew, he proved to have a kind, gentle nature as well. He wanted to learn things and see the world, and the king was very happy to indulge his curiosity. The two of them easily mingled with the people, and thus, as the years passed, Roxas Strife grew to love and cherish his home, hoping to someday ascend the throne and follow in his father's footsteps.

There were high hopes for the child until one night, when everything began to change.

It was the night of Roxas's 9th birthday when a mysterious man appeared at the castle, calling himself Lord Vexen. The soldiers had discovered him unconscious in the gardens, and Cloud, being the caring person that he was, personally stayed with him to help him recover. The night's festivities were put aside, much to Roxas's disappointment, but the old man's health soon improved, and within a short period of time, he became very close to Cloud. He had quite a knowledge of spells as well as sciences, and he shared this with the king, who was very impressed. So then, as soon as he was able to publicly, Cloud made Vexen his royal confidant; his advisor in all matters pertaining to the wealth and health of the kingdom.

And as Cloud became more occupied with his work, Roxas was pushed further and further out of the light. The boy understood the importance of his father's work, of course; but he was quite upset when that led to long periods of solitude. He was not yet old enough to attend the court meetings, and he never seemed to catch Cloud's attention for very long after the meetings were over. He was lonely; he missed traveling to the villages and seeing the friends he'd made there, or even just going to the festivals with Cloud.

So ultimately, the little prince wandered the castle wistfully, looking for things to occupy his time and waiting for the time when Cloud would return and embrace him as he once did. The servants had no time to entertain him, however, and the cold shoulder feeling only increased as time went by.

Vexen never bothered himself with Roxas much at all. It was clear that the two blonds didn't like each other very much, but under Cloud's still somewhat watchful eye, they behaved as amiably as they could. But it soon seemed that Vexen had a different way of getting under his skin. The royal confidant began to convince the king that the outside world was dangerous; there was talk of assassinations and evil plots flying all around, stirring up the hype and worry for the king. So, in the interest of protecting his only son and heir, King Cloud decreed that he was to remain in the castle at all times, guarded so as to keep him out of trouble and to keep trouble away from him. It began a time when the king began to distrust his own people, and the spiral continued downward...

The kings eyes were now blank and fearful. His servants were alarmed by the changes, and his own son barely recognized him. No one knew exactly what was happening, but all cast dark, suspicious eyes upon the ever kind and helpful Vexen, whose smile never quite seemed to reach his eyes when he spoke to them. Gossip spread that it was time to act, for the good of the people, but no one dared move against the king or his advisor, for such a move would undoubtably cause chaos to wrack their beautiful kingdom...

It was a heartbreaking day when the king was found dead in his throne room; eyes cold and pained even as he sat regally on his throne. It was the prince who discovered him there, and for a long time afterward, the boy refused to speak about the matter. He would only sob and scream, his nightmares every night would haunt the castle halls until his voice grew hoarse and he could scream no more.

The king's funeral was brief; Cloud had never been one for lengthy ceremonies in life. All the kingdom turned out to mourn their fallen leader, watching his cremation with revered silence, for those who could manage it. It rained that day, as if the sky wished to add to their tears of sorrow...

Vexen had pronounced the death as a heart attack, and somberly led the people in prayer for the great man, as was his duty. The law of the land held that until Roxas was ready to rule at the age of 17, the king's trusted advisor was to manage the affairs of state, and so, without dispute, Vexen took his seat and reigned over the kingdom.

It wasn't long before the mourning ceased, however, and the old man's true nature was revealed for all to see. He proved to be a cruel master, levying high taxes on the people and imprisoned many who could not afford to pay. He decreed that those who would not obey his laws be forced to leave, or subject themselves to the dungeons and what torture awaited there. And the people grudgingly bowed before him, powerless to refuse...

Roxas was deeply saddened by this, seeing his father's once great kingdom become a sham and a hell to many. But there was nothing he could do about any of it. Vexen did not have the power to remove him from his birthright (that the people insisted on heavily and did not relent), but he could command the boy much like everyone else in the kingdom, so he was often cruel to him as well, making him work like the servants. But, humiliated and sad as he was, the prince did not let his bitterness take hold. His legacy was all that was left of the kingdom's former glory, and so he held to it, remaining as gentle and kind as he ever was to those that loved him. The keyblade would accept nothing less, after all.

He found family and happiness with the other servants and toiled away with them everyday, knowing that someday he would right the horrible wrongs Vexen had set upon them, and make the man pay for his crimes.

But of course, Vexen himself had other ideas. He accepted that once the prince was of age, the kingdom would fall to him, but that didn't mean that he would simply sit by and see it happen. No, as the years went by, Vexen worked day and night, experimenting and researching with all matter of sciences and black magics, desiring to eventually remove the keyblade from its pedestal himself. Only then would the right be his, and the kingdom would bow completely under his sway.

But the magic of the keyblade was old and strong, much stronger than he could have foreseen. Time and time again, Vexen would try, and every time he failed to make the key even budge one inch from its firm pedestal. He became more desperate and frustrated every year, and the people watched, knowing full well what he intended, and fearing that he would soon slip into madness because of it. Vexen swore to himself that he would be the kingdom's only true ruler and keep his power and authority forever. He would accept nothing less, and remove anything or anyone that stood in his way.