Well then, I guess it's about time I got started at this. As usual, I don't own Kingdom Hearts, just my Keyblade and the other odd bits and pieces I picked up while I was busy running around in Sora's life, which was well documented in 'MetaStory Switch'. Not to mention expanded on when my Nobody decided to let you in on his misadventures as well, which somehow went across better. I guess Roxas is more interesting than me.
But as usual, I'm starting to go off on an unrelated topic. Didn't I tell you all in MetaStory Switch not to let me do that?
Anyway, it's been a while since I got back from dealing with Xemnas. Much as I enjoyed the adventuring, getting back to my own life was a welcome break. Sora had managed to handle it without making people too aware that something wasn't quite right, so no one really noticed me take over again.
But one of the irritating little things about having gone on an adventure is that sooner or later, leading a normal life starts to get a bit boring. More than once I almost turned to the Book – that is, Neku's Book – to go and send myself on one. He and I have the same sense of morality though, and usually we just ended up discussing the idea instead of actually doing anything. He knew as well as I do that this time, if I wanted to go on an adventure I'd have to arrange for someone to cover for me. I doubted I could pass it off as an accident a second time.
As it happened, the solution came not through me or Neku, but via Riku. If you recall, I showed Riku how to keep his darkness and use it safely, allowing him to continue to get around through dark corridors without trouble.
This in turn meant he kept in touch with more people than Sora did, since Sora tended to stay at home on the Destiny Islands with Xion and Kairi. The two of them got up to no end of mischief since Xion and Sora looked identical now.
Among those he was in contact with was of course, King Mickey. Who had Donald, Goofy and Jiminy with him, and the first copy of Jiminy's Journal – the one that had been erased in Castle Oblivion. Since they also had the second copy, which had not been erased, they were not working to retrieve the entries, but to unlock the meaning of the two currently known messages - 'Thank Naminé' and 'Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it'.
Of course, I had no idea of this at first. Not until Riku showed up while I was at work with a green envelope bearing the seal of King Mickey, which left me with plenty of awkward questions from my co-workers. That was interesting, to say the least.
Yes, I know. This story is slower to start. Just be patient, will you?
Naturally I left it to a quiet moment before I actually read Mickey's letter. The only other one around at the time was Neku, though as the Book. He rarely appeared to me in person because it tended to attract attention.
The letter read,
We're working on the erased copy of the journal, and we've hit on a bit of a problem. I realize you're kinda far off to call for tech support, but Goofy is sure you can help. Since Donald and Riku agreed, I can at least ask, right?
I'd appreciate it if you'd stop by the castle to lend a hand if you can, and if not Riku says you can ask a certain Neku to nudge things along.
Hope we see you soon,
P.S. Riku gave us a message for you. He says Tron and Flynn are doing well, but if you don't stop by and visit them soon they'll come looking for you themselves.'
"A little far off?" I objected aloud. "Just how far is it from here to the Disney Castle?"
The Book flipped open beside me, words appearing on the page to respond, 'At least four hours if you go on your Glider, assuming there's nothing along the way to slow you down. There's a short-cut though, but it's risky.'
"How risky, and what kind of risks?"
'You'll risk getting seen on your Glider in this world. You can't tell me that wouldn't be hard to explain.'
"Just what is this shortcut of yours, Neku?"
'Simple. Fly to one of the various Disney holiday places on your world. Paris is closer, Tokyo would make it easier on me. Since they're close to the real Disney Castle – the one where Mickey is – I'll be able to open a route that'll take you there.'
"You realize it'll be bad enough if I get seen taking my Glider into the Lanes Between from here. Can't you just enhance that Teleport spell Merlin taught me or something?"
'Even if I did, you don't have enough magic to go that far, even with a full tank. There are limits to what I can do Liam, you know that.'
"There's no other way?"
'You could take a corridor,' Neku suggested, though I caught the impression he was being sarcastic. One of the advantages he has, while words lose the emotions behind them, he can cause people to get the right impressions as if they were spoken.
"Do me a favour then? Call ahead and tell Mickey I'll be there in about four hours, and he better have the kettle on for some tea when I get there."
'You ought to cut back on the tea,' Neku told me critically, then added, 'How are you going to explain this absence though?'
"Roxas can cover for me," I shrugged. Roxas was actually asleep, as he often was. He'd complained a bit about my life being boring (which it is sometimes) then decided to sleep most of the time unless something interesting happened. "Just leave him a note explaining what we're doing and make it so people see me instead of him."
'He won't like not being consulted about it,' Neku warned me.
"He'll get over it. Besides, it's about time he did something useful. Where'd I leave the armour?"
'I stored it away for you so you wouldn't have anyone accidentally find them. That and the clothes Yen Sid gave you. Just put on the chain with the crown I left in your pocket and it'll change what you're wearing to them.'
Isn't it nice to have someone around who can make things so much more convenient? At least Neku doesn't mind doing things like that. It's part of the conditions of his choosing to let me keep hold of his book – I don't try and make use of him selfishly, and he'll do little things like that without being asked. It's a little more detailed than that, especially if you asked him. Not that he'd reply right now, but... well, you'll see why he's unusually quiet lately much later on in the story.
Anyway, while I would have liked to stop by any one of the Disney resorts – I might not be young, but I'm still an eternal child at heart – I went for the longer trip mostly because I didn't particularly feel like getting seen. At least going into the Lanes Between there'd only be a short window where I would get seen, and since it was fairly late in the evening the darkness made it much easier to leave.
If you ever get the chance to do it yourself though, remember to watch out for aircraft on the way out. I had a bit of a close encounter, you might say.
I slept a great deal on the way there. Neku arranged it so that I wouldn't make any accidental course changes in my sleep, then made sure I'd wake up if anything came up. It might have taken just over four hours to get there, but at least sleeping through most of it I wasn't so bored. Besides, I could dream about my boyfriend – who I'd told about what I was doing this time, after quickly doubling back just before I got into the Lanes Between when I remembered I hadn't done that.
I'd been to the Disney Castle before on my Glider, though it had been during the time Xigbar had stuck me into the past. It hadn't changed much though, so I was able to pull into the hanger alongside Mickey's Gummi Ship and had just enough time to remove my armour before I got pushed to the ground by Donald jumping on me.
"Well look who's happy to see me," I said, picking him off me. "Did you really miss me that much?"
"Of course!" Donald answered. "There's been nothing going on at all since you went home, we've been left bored half to death!"
"Mickey told us ya were coming," Goofy told me, offering me a hand back up. "He's waiting for us in the library."
"Well, why don't we go pay a call on him, since I've been dragged all the way out here to help him fix his computer."
"Oh, it's a bit more complicated than that," Donald said. "You gotta see it for yourself."
"Figures. At least you didn't come to me and just say something like 'it's broken'. Can't stand it when people give me no details to work with and still expect me to fix it."
I wasn't kidding. I can get a bit irate when people do that.
The Library was a little different to the way I remembered it. In amongst the bookcases was a large white table, with what I assume was a computer on it. Given that this was a Disney world, I'm not surprised it looked pretty odd. Mickey was sat on the far side, leaning on the table scratching at his head with a frustrated look to him.
"So your Majesty," I called to him, startling him momentarily. "I hear you've got some computer troubles?"
"Liam!" he exclaimed. "Thank goodness you're here, I don't think we can do this without you now."
"Relax, Mickey. Calm down and tell me what's going on."
"Maybe Jiminy had better tell you," Mickey said, sounding worried. The little cricket wandered into view from behind the computer's keyboard.
"Go on," I said, having one of those Bad Feelings. "What happened?"
"We digitized the contents of that blank journal," Jiminy told me. "After the first message we found in there – 'Thank Naminé' – another one appeared that said, 'Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it'. We thought if we called on the Data Sora, he'd be able to help us, but..."
"But?" I prompted.
"Data-Sora can't do it," Mickey explained. "Jiminy's journal records you and what you could do at the time as Sora, not the real Sora. He acts and thinks like Sora, but seems to react as if he's got some of your capabilities. Not future sight, but seeing far-off parts of the datascape."
"I don't see why that means he can't do it."
"He's not you," Jiminy said. "Just like at the time it was you pretending to be Sora, now it's Sora pretending to be you. We've sent him through several times now," he went on. "Backing up the state of the Journal before we contact him and send him on his way so we can restore back to it. Sometimes he gets further than others, but always he gets stopped before we can make any progress. He's been deleted several times, and it's only through restoring the backup we've been able to get him back – which erases any progress we do manage to make."
"There's another thing too," Goofy broke in. "Donald and me found these just after Mickey gave Riku the message for you." He held out his hands to show me. In one hand was a single, long white feather, in the other a thin book with a white hardback cover. You know thanks to Roxas that the feathers mean Charlie, but at this point in time I had no idea.
I examined the feather first, finding nothing odd about it, then took the book off him with some caution – Neku's book had done that to me, I treated any unmarked book carefully now in case it was one of his relatives.
There was no title on the cover, not even a single word. Inside the covers was also white, with blank white pages. I flicked through them to see if there was anything on them, finding nothing until the last page.
"'The feather is mine'," I read aloud. "'A sign of my time'. What's that meant to mean?" I wondered, then just added, "Neku? Any advice?"
This time he made an appearance in person, appearing not far away. As always, he bore the appearance of the real Neku.
"Something's stopping me, Liam," he said in a serious tone. "Only one thing can cause that – another book."
"You mean, this is... could be one of your relatives?"
"I can't say for sure. It could be, or it could be something one of them has created. It's a limitation I have – I have no influence over them or anything they've done, just as the same holds true for anything I've done and them. If it is one of my brothers or sisters, be very, very careful. I've never met any of them before, but I know of them – some of them you really don't want to meet."
"Surely they have to wait for someone to write in their book though," Donald pointed out.
"Not so," Neku shook his head. "I can act independently, my book is just my true form. If anything happens to that book it also happens to me. Some of the others don't want to be owned, and if someone does take up their book it's because they want them to."
"It could just be a coincidence," I said. "And we're not going to get anywhere by speculating. First thing we're going to do is get me into the datascape to see if I can get any further with Data-Sora than he has been alone."
Neku held my shoulder a moment and said, "Don't forget – you left Roxas behind to cover for you. You'll only have one Keyblade here, and you won't be at full strength."
"Just a side effect of necessity," I shrugged. "I faced Ansem without him, I'm sure I can tackle this."
"Famous last words," Donald muttered under his breath. At the time I thought he could at least have had more confidence in me, but looking back... he was right to be a little doubtful.