Door To Darkness

Author's Introduction: Alright, so recently I beat Birth By Sleep and then played through 358/2 Days on my emulator, and I started thinking about Kingdom Hearts again and, of course, my favorite character Riku. I've looked around for a fanfic written from his POV which covers the events of the games but haven't found a good one that goes anywhere (If anybody knows of a really good, complete one let me know and I might not need to write this). Anyways, I've been inspired to write my own in anticipation of the upcoming Dream Drop Distance where Riku will FINALLY be a fully playable character ! For now, I'll just cover Riku's story through the first Kingdom Hearts. But later, if I'm successful, I may delve into the other games as well. We'll see.

Don't forget to leave me a constructive review letting me know what you fine people think. I really appreciate it!

As for updates, I really don't have any particular schedule in mind. Other than, I want to be finished in time for the release of 3D.

Finally, warnings. I want to insert more of a sense of horror into the Heartless than they receive and the violence will be (hopefully) grittier and more realistic. And perhaps some light swearing as the story calls for it. After all, this is about Riku. It's gonna be darker.

PROLOGUE: Truth From the Heart

A gasp echoed through the still air, its sound seeming to reverberate forever out into the black nothingness at the edge of sight, its source a bewildered boy who stared at his impossible surroundings in wonder. His name was Riku. But as for where he was or how he had come here, the answers completely eluded him.

His turquoise gaze, catlike in its unblinking inquisitiveness, turned down to his large shoes which appeared to be resting on a floor made from brilliant stained glass, its diverse colored hues truly breathtaking. A flash of worry came across his face as he regarded his weight carefully, tentatively flexing his fingers.

One wrong step and...

If he wasn't mistaken, the facets fit together in a kind of mosaic, but the disc itself was so large that the picture couldn't be discerned from this vantage. He would have to be much higher.

His eyes caught a brief flash off to the side and when he turned to look he saw that a winding staircase of disconnected steps, seemingly held together by nothing but air, had appeared, leading down deeper into the nothing. "Did I-" his voice faltered for a moment.

He crept toward the edge, a thin gap of air separating the glass from the nearest floating step. Ah, it wasn't a disc after all, however. Staring down into the inky blackness, Riku could clearly see that he actually stood atop an enormous pillar, or maybe a tower, whose dark sides boasted long rows of its own stained glass.

Part of his uneasiness lay in the fact that he couldn't really see anything beyond the next step. It made the venture a blind trip. Running a hand along the back of his long platinum hair, he planted his shoe firmly across the gap on the first step, following with his other until he had descended the winding staircase to another pillar, far below the first, and likewise covered in beautiful arrays of stained glass and capped by an enormous mosaic. One thing he noticed, however, as his feet came to rest on glass once more, was that the hues of the colors had turned slightly darker than the first.

He looked around, still seeing nothing beyond the edges of the column.

"Now what?" he muttered to himself.

Suddenly a Voice, a presence, answered back, however.

Take your time

Don't be afraid

The door is still shut

There was no audible sound, merely an overwhelming, all consuming message in his mind. It felt so familiar though.

The door? What door? Riku heard his own thoughts echo. Was there a difference?

Power lurks within you

If you give it form

Suddenly three bursts of light appeared before his eyes, dissolving into stone pedestals above each of which floated a different weapon.

Which would you choose?

Without a hesitation, Riku strode up to the pedestal on the right, tightening his fingers around the pommel of a sword. He swung the blade in a slow arc through the air, smiling at the familiar sensation.

The power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction.

But his stray gaze caught sight of the shield atop the center pedestal and he found himself drawn to it. Sword in hand, he walked over and slid his arm into the brace, lifting the shield into the air and scrutinizing its face.

The power of the guardian

Kindness to aid friends

A shield to repel all

His friends! More important to him than anything. How could he have forgotten?

Do these give you the power you seek?

Riku's eyes regarded the sword and shield he now bore one last time.

Now what will you give up?

Just one left...

Atop the pedestal on the left hovered the last armament-a brightly colored rod which seemed to emanate with a strange energy.

The power of the mystic

Inner strength

A staff of wonder and ruin

Its promise of mysteries and the strange and powerful energy he felt from it called out to Riku, however, and he became torn.

Why can't I just take them all?

You must always give up something

Nothing worthy is ever without sacrifice

He waited for more, but nothing further came. Hanging his head in resignation, he turned away from the rod and took a step back, sword and shield hanging loosely at his sides.

Suddenly the place shook violently as all three pedestals collapsed into the floor and dissolved from view. Riku bent his knees to remain balanced, looking from side to side as he waited for it to settle. Only...it didn't. Instead, however, the whole thing shattered just as he had feared and Riku found himself hurdling through the air amidst the shards of broken glass, falling into oblivion. He stretched out his arm to grasp for the column that should have been there, but it seemed to have disappeared.

Falling through the air, for how long he had no way of telling, he at last recognized the familiar glint of stained glass growing larger below him as it weaved in and out of his field of vision.

He braced his shielded arm in front of him as he slammed down onto this new column and immediately realized he'd made a mistake. Pain wracked his whole body and he could taste blood in his mouth as he staggered to his feet, his knuckles burning white from how tightly he had been gripping the sword. The colors in this glass were even darker than the last, Riku noted once more.

Shaking his head roughly, his eyes came to rest on his shadow and he froze. He wasn't alone. They didn't sway subtly as did his hair's jagged shadow, and neither did they stand still as did that of his legs. No, these other shadows swam, silent and flat along the floor, circling around him menacingly. The light which illuminated the glass only seemed to sink into their blackness, as if they were breaches torn in space.

As one the shadows emerged from the ground, taking a monstrous shape, and approached. Each had a round head with two long, twisted antennae sprouting from the top, along with clawed fingers and sharp feet, while leering, bulbous eyes projected a jaundiced glow.

There will be times you have to fight

Riku's eyes narrowed as he raised his sword and shield, lowering his body into a suitable fighting stance.

Don't let the darkness consume you

Not needing any further encouragement, the boy lunged forward for all he was worth at the monsters, bashing his shield into the face of the nearest as he spun his body around and slashed the sword through the face of another, its quivering appendages dissolving into bits which splayed across his clothes just as he reposed and thrust forward, the tip of his sword piercing clean through another. Exploiting his exposed opening, another slashed at him viciously with its claws, their touch like stinging ice. Ignoring the pain from his bleeding leg, he retracted it quickly, jumping forward behind the shadow and spinning his blade around into the creature two more times, driving it farther backward, before it went down into a pool of black fluid. The blood he had lost seemed to excite the creatures, however, and Riku braced himself.

Looking all around him, he noticed that the pools his strokes had reduced them too were merging to form a vast sea of darkness which grew to envelop the glass like mist. He took a wary step backward, fairly sure he did not want to touch that stuff, but he lost his footing as it fell through air, dragging him down into the blackness. First it reached only up to his knees, but the more he struggled and kicked his legs, the higher it seemed to rise. It quickly came to cover his mouth and he gagged, feeling like he was drowning , no, suffocating. And it was so cold. Finally, his eyes lost all sight as he was completely buried. He wanted to scream, but he couldn't even breathe.

As he thrashed about, he felt something beneath again, but still saw only darkness. At length he realized, he was clenching his eyes shut. That's why he couldn't see. Had he been doing that all along? Opening them once more, he found himself sprawled out on yet another stained glass floor. As he stood to his feet, quickly looking toward the air above suspiciously, he faced a set of soaring double doors, their faces adorned with ornate craft and workmanship. Suddenly they opened before him and the light streaming out hurt too much to look at, having been in this dim place for what seemed like so long now. He raised a hand to shield his face just as the powerful rays consumed him, making his skin feel like it was on fire. Was this agony worse than the cold? He couldn't pick.

When at last he could see again, he found himself on the thatched wood of a ship, surrounded by the gentle ocean breeze and clear blue skies. He knew this ship. He had played on it with his friends, hadn't he?

First, tell me more about yourself

Sitting idly along the rail was Selphie, wearing that skimpy yellow dress she liked to romp around the beach on. She was one of the kids that hung out with his friends on the island. But...she wasn't moving. Riku moved closer.

"What is most important to you," she said suddenly, catching him by surprise. Her voice sounded hollow and flat.

Riku said nothing. But Selphie merely continued to drill him with that eerie stare.

"Being the best," Riku decided finally.

"Being the best, huh? Is that such a big deal?" Selphie chided.

Taking a step back from her, Riku turned toward Tidus who stood off to the side.

"What are you afraid of?" Tidus asked. There was definitely something wrong here.

"I'm not afraid of anything," Riku countered firmly.

"Come on, everybody's afraid of something," Tidus challenged.

Riku looked down. "Then I guess...being indecisive," he admitted finally.

"Being indecisive," Tidus repeated. "Is that really so scary?" he countered.

Pursing his lips, Riku turned away, for some reason knowing better than to bother arguing with them. As he tried to leave, he was blocked by Wakka who stood at the bridge staring him down. Beyond him the island looked...weird. It was hazy-like a dream.

Is that what this is? Just some dream... It feels so real

"What do you want out of life?" Wakka asked, cradling his customary Blitzball in his arm.

"To broaden my horizons," Riku confessed.

"To broaden your horizons, huh?" Wakka nodded knowingly.

You're afraid of being indecisive

Being the best is most important to you

You want to broaden your horizons

Riku looked up expectantly.

Your adventure begins in the dead of night. Your road won't be easy, but a rising sun awaits your journey's end.

The night you will open the door is both far off and very near

In the blink of an eye, Selphie, Wakka and Tidus faded away along with the old ship, replaced by another disjointed winding staircase which Riku found himself treading across carefully, heading still deeper into this strange world below. Predictably enough, after the last step lay another stained glass column. This one appeared empty though.

The deeper you delve into darkness

The brighter your light shines

Suddenly, Riku felt something from behind, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, his body on edge. He turned around slowly to see his own shadow rise up out of the ground and take shape. And what a shape it was. It grew enormously tall, its arms growing thick and massive , with spindly legs and writhing, seething tentacles protruding from its head.

But Riku wasn't waiting around. Raising his sword, he jumped and slashed at the creatures hand, cutting into those thick fingers. The monster made a fist, however, and slammed it down into the floor, miraculously not shattering it. Riku was able to jump in time to avoid the shock wave, but the scratching of the shadows the thing had summoned proved more annoying.

Having little choice, and even less room to fight after the arrival of this giant, Riku swung his sword as fast and hard as he could-slashing, bashing, thrusting into the thing's shadowy hide. His diligence appeared to be making it reconsider its assault. Well, up to a point anyway.

Without a sound, the creature arched its back in a way that looked just painful, and it was then that Riku noticed the gaping hole missing from its chest, where the heart should be.

But he had even less time now to contemplate this mystery, as a barrage of burning globes blasted towards him, swirling with darkness. Just in time, he raised his shield, the orbs bursting against its surface and engulfing him in their heat. Unwilling to suffer further discomfort, however, Riku struck the next orb streaking towards him right back into the face of the monster, melting its face into an inky drizzle as its eyes smouldered in rage.

"Now I've done it," Riku muttered, rolling out of the way to dodge another slam from the thing's giant fist. It was weakening, he could feel it, though he wasn't quite sure how.

Tiring of the exchange, Riku kicked off the glass and vaulted into the air, slashing downward with all his might across the beast's shoulder. He continued reposing in circles, using the momentum from his spins to power his merciless attacks. Hooking onto its arm, the boy swung around its elbow and slid down its arm, severing the fingers clean off on the way down in a splurge of smoke.

Landing squarely on his feet, Riku seriously doubted the thing could take much more. Suddenly, however, his weapons disappeared in a flash of light which left Riku stranded, searching his surroundings frantically.

That's not fair! his mind raged.

The giant stepped forward, the distance it covered closing every other gap of escape. Suddenly it a pool of darkness spread beneath him from its feet just like before, engulfing Riku's body and pulling him down as it crawled all over him, searching for a way in. He struggled and kicked all the while as its monstrous face stooped down close. Too close, those sickly yellow eyes looking as if they were searching for a meal. Now there was a thought he didn't want to think about. Of course, he couldn't think about much of anything right now anyways.

Don't be afraid

You hold the mightiest weapon of all

And don't forget

You are the one who will open the door to darkness

Riku bolted upright, but he forgot where he was and almost fell off of his tree, catching it with both hands and pulling himself back up shakily. When he had regained his balance, he leaned his head against its smooth, worn trunk. He ran a hand through his jagged platinum locks and it returned thick with sweat. Oh that's right. He had come here to take a break from working on the raft all day. "Guess I must have fallen asleep then."

Oddly, however, he didn't feel particularly grateful to be back. No it was something else. He almost looked disappointed.

Restless, he decided.

"Just a dream? It felt so..." his voice trailed off. "The door?" he intoned suddenly. A memory came back then. Something the years had pushed out of his mind.

"Outside this tiny world, is a much bigger one. In your hand take this key. So long as you have the makings, then through this simple act of taking, it's wielder you shall one day be. And you will find me, friend. No ocean will contain you then. No more borders around, or below, or above, so long as you champion the ones you love."

He had waited for that power for so long. But it never came. He had given up on it, and given in to the distractions of a teenager. He stared out at the sea, savoring the gentle breeze which carried the spray to his face. He watched the rolling waves crashing against the shoreline, receding back in trails of white foam, and sighed.

Riku's shoe absently kicked a log laying near his tree, and his eyes brightened up. Stooping down, he easily hefted the large log up and tucked it under his arm.

"Well I won't have to wait anymore," he reminded himself. He had already been to every one of the islands out here, exploring dozens of tiny shores over the years. "Soon I'll find out for myself what's beyond there."

His gaze shifted away from the horizon and back to his little island. It was the tiniest of the Destiny Islands, little more than a playground for kids from the other, larger islands, really. It had its own small shack built into a treehouse and the remains of an old ship.

His eyes came to rest on the sleeping form of his best friend Sora down there on the beach with his mouth agape, his feet washed by the rolling waves. Riku smirked to himself. "Slacking off again, huh?" he muttered. So that's there he had been hiding while Riku did all the work on their raft. He grinned, however, as he spied their friend Kairi tiptoeing up behind the boy.

Eager to join them, he turned and ran back from his tiny outcrop across the bridge, forgoing the shack and jumping down to the sand below, landing near a small waterfall and a shallow pool. He hung back for a moment, however, as something Sora was saying to Kairi caught his ear.

"Say, Kairi, what was your home town like?" his friend asked the young girl. "You know the place you grew up."

The girl smiled as she looked out towards the sea. "I've told you before, I don't remember," she answered with a slight chuckle.

"Nothing...at all?" Sora pressed.

"Nothing," Kairi affirmed, and Riku thought her voice sounded a bit sad.

"You ever want to go back?" Sora replied.

"Well...I'm happy here," Kairi decided quickly

"But you know," she continued. "I wouldn't mind going to see it," she said, turning to face him, her deep blue eyes sparkling.

Riku smiled. She was so adorable at this age.

"I'd like to see it too," Sora agreed. "Along with any other worlds out there," the boy affirmed, adding with a dreamy smile, "I want to see them all."

Riku nodded with a smile as he strode forward toward his friends into the sunlight.