KZD: I own neither Dark Souls nor Kingdom Hearts. So I decided to make a sequel to my one-shot Haunted. This will be a short multi chapter story.
It had taken some time, and some help from Master Yen Sid, but Aqua had finally found what she hoped was Lordran. When asked for her reasoning of finding a time twisted place by the elder master and her friends she simply told them that she had one more promise to fulfill. The two masters combed through maps and charts of the stars until they found one that was well hidden compared to others by a primitive darkness. Yen Sid tried to find any information on it but nothing turned up in any of his books. This world was completely uncharted territory for keybearers, and from the feel of the place, for good reason.
"Does it have to do with that weird necklace you found?" Surprisingly, Ventus had asked this question. The large black amulet would make a small chime with every little movement she'd make and has proven its usefulness against the forces of darkness more than once on her finished journey to reunite with her loved ones. She simply nodded her head to the windswept blond who insisted in going with her. Aqua had counter acted at him to stay behind and watch over their elder friend Terra to make sure that he didn't have a sudden darkness relapse. After being separated from Xehanort, the once proud chestnut haired man had grown paranoid and anxious to just about everything making it difficult for him to rejoin society.
"Don't worry; Ven. I'll be back before you now it." The blond pouted but agreed to let her go on this self-made solo mission.
"Fine," he pouted, "but you better tell me what's up with that amulet after. It's not like our wayfinders."
"Sure thing. Maybe I'll bring you back a souvenir when I'm done." Ventus brightens up at this. No matter his actual age he was still a kid at heart and loved the thought of any kind of gift. With a wave goodbye, Aqua left for the stars on her glider with a map chart pinpointing her destination.
The sky bleeds a magnificent orange that rested above a heavy forest that held deadly secrets. Living stone and scarecrow men stood rigid surveying the area for any intruders who dared trespass upon the Royal Wood. Statically they guarded magical elevators that lead to their past masters township. They had neither emotion nor conscious, completely unaware of the horrors that have transpired in their land.
Just below the mallet and pitchforked guards a portal ripped open in a ripple of blinding light the size of a human body. A suit of silvery blue metal walked from the portal. It looked much more advanced compared to a normal knight's armor with sleek curves that suggest a feminine user. The portal expelled itself just as the armor stepped a few feet away from the mysterious light.
"This should be the place." Aqua's voice echoed from inside her armors helm. She scanned the area looking for any signs of life but found nothing but the architecture of the coliseum in front of her. She felt completely isolated and lonely in this place more so than when she was trapped in the realm of darkness. At least the heartless kept her busy with their relentless assaults. This place just felt completely empty, hallow. There's no wind and the air felt heavy and stagnate despite its haunting beauty.
She looked down at her hands to see that she was still being shielded by her armor. Normally it would disappear after crossing the Lane in Between but not this time. It was crafted to protect the user from darkness. The only reason why it hadn't dissipated back to is partial form is if the surrounding area was completely suffocated in the black essence.
"Well, well aren't you just a surprise." The keybearers head twitched to the sudden snide of a voice that had stayed silent for the longest time. A lanky looking man wearing a trench coat complimented by a disturbingly smiling mask and top hat leaned against a wall just across a small stone bridge that closed a gap to a long fall. "From what strange land do you hail from stranger? Thou wear remints that of knights from Anor Londo. But that entrance of yours says otherwise."
Aqua frowned from under her helm. She could sense a dark aura from him and that damn creepy mask of his didn't help. The Master slowly walked up to the stranger keeping a safe distance between.
"No, I'm not from around here. Could you tell me exactly where I am?"
"Oh so you can talk, eh? Not like that other ruffian that passed by. Ah, but where are my manner. I'm Chester of Carim, and you my dear are in Oolacile."
"Then I'm in the right place." She mumbled. Artorias mentioned this place before his downfall. That the cause of the Abyss was here.
"Come again?" Chester raised a curious brow from under his mask unsure of what to think of this stranger. Then again, he was no native either. He closely scrutinized the warrior in front of him trying to find any reason why this armored maiden could ever come to this damnable place. Then something caught his eye.
"Have you come across the knight Artorias, the legendary Abyss Walker? Curious it is to see you with his amulet."
Aqua looked down to see that that the dark knights crest being worn on the outside of her armor. She hadn't even notice until this man even mentioned it. Truth be told, the keybearer had been wearing it for so long it felt like a part of her now just like her wayfinder. A loud crackle came from Chester as he pointed an accusing finger at her.
"I knew that pathetic scoundrel couldn't of actual done it. So you're the one who really slew Artorias. I heard the Abyss found him first but even still. That's absolutely treacherous. Yes. Magnificently so." He continued to chuckle finding the morbid accusation of his statement humorous.
Aqua gritted her teeth and eyes narrowed dangerously at this man. It was people like him that she couldn't stand. They always have ill intent on the mind or personal gain through manipulating others.
"I did not slay him. I freed him from his torment."
"Slay, freed it is all the same. In the end he's dead, is he not? And what of you, here on a dying wish of sorts?" A sudden rage started to cloud her mind. Aqua restrained herself from summoning her keyblade and cutting down the man where he stood.
When had she herself become so dark? All that time in the Realm of Darkness had taken its toll on her. The keyblade master couldn't lie that she had let the darkness enter a small portion of her heart. Though it only showed during times of great frustration or anger just like how this man was infuriating her now. She had to get away before she does something she might regret. Turning away from the man she headed to the opening of the coliseum.
"Aww, did I hit a nerve? Head that way and you'll only end up like fool knight. Completely mad."
"Then I rather go mad then become insane by listening to you a second longer." Aqua said with an icy tone.
Chester's hand twitched near his side where he stashed his sniper crossbow. How dare this woman speak to him in such a rude tongue! She's even worse than that Lord Blade that had out right ignored him. He made to retort against her but stopped at a simple thought. This woman was heading straight for the Abyss's source. The corruption of this terrible place will make her humanity run wild and steal it away all at once. Or at the very least make her go Hallow. Yes, that sounded like a marvelous idea. Chester started laugh from underneath his smiling mask.
Aqua let out a sigh of relief as whatever evil thoughts plagued her mind seem to wash away now that she was far away from that infuriating man. She almost didn't notice the big head of a dead body that her foot was about to squish. The keybearer jumped from the disturbing sight of the rotting creature that lied still in front of the door frame. In all of her travels, Aqua had never seen such a thing. Its head was massive and it wore tattered ripped clothing. Its arms were twisted and bent in an awkward position, and its multiple red dull dead eyes looked up at her completely soulless. But there was something about that seemed creepily familiar.
"I-is this thing…Human?" Aqua tried to proses this theory despite it being hard to believe. Was the darkness here different from other worlds? In another place a person would become a heartless if they let the dark into their hearts. This thing definitely wasn't a heartless though. So did the darkness here instead horribly mutate a person? Artorias didn't change physically, he just went insane. Then again he wasn't human and acted like humanity was the bane of existence.
"What the hell is going on in this world?" She said just above a whisper moving aside and faraway from the rotting corpse. Finally taking her eyes off the body, Aqua finally looked at her surroundings. The circular coliseum was old and tattered with plant veins growing from the cracks. Scratches from blades littered the ground in splinters and a black ooze substance littered it. It looked to be abandoned for years and in need of serious renovation before it could be used properly once more.
A body kneeled over one of the rocks caught the keybearers attention. The person paid no mind to her and stayed completely unmoving in front of the stone structure, something Aqua was thankful for. The last thing she wanted was to get in another conversation with someone like Chester again. Maybe if she was quiet enough and said nothing they would leave the keyblade master to her work. It's too bad that fate had other planes for her at that moment.
Just a sparing glance and Aqua stopped dead in her tracks right near the kneeling person. The person held two floating items close like they were the most precious things in the world. One she did not recognize but could sense darkness radiating off the black and purple sprite. The other she knew all too well. A pink object floated in the persons opposite palm radiating with light and curved with a defined shape unlike the other. In front, the stones looked to be moved for a make shift grave of sorts. On it a flower and a tassel of jet black hair. Her mouth open before she could heaven think her next words.
"This is Artorias's grave." This person head peeked over their shoulder at the mystic knight. Golden eyes glowed from behind a porcelain mask that had a foe Cyclops eye in the middle and small ram like horns on the side. Those eyes caused Aqua to flinch under her armor as she has grown a stereotype when it came to others with yellow eyes. This person even had the ivory silver hair to match.
"What is your purpose here, Human? How do you know of Artorias?" A chilling female voice came from behind the mask. Aqua racked her brain for a proper answer sensing the women's distrust and impatient. Her eyes lit up when she thought of something the deceased knight had said.
"Are you Ciaran?"
"How do you me mortal?"
"He mentioned your name before his passing." That got the kneeling knights full attention. She stood up slowly and turned to glare at the armored figure. At first glance Ciaran almost mistook the armor from that of a Silver Knights back in Anor Londo but there were obvious differences.
"You're not an ordinary human." Ciaran's icy golden eyes burned into the helmet of Aqua's unseen face. Her eyes lowered to the pendent that the other knight wore. "And how did you come across that amulet?"
Aqua was about to open her mouth when the pink floating heart in Ciaran's grasp floated away from her and to the other knight in a lazy fashion. The assassin of the four knights of Gwyn became rigid ready to attack if this unknown person did anything to the levitating organ but no such intentions came from the other.
"Glad to see you found your way home." Aqua smiled at the small heart that floated at eye level.
"Thanks to thee I was able to return." The heart started to glow and a transparent silhouette of a very tall armored man appeared. The Lord Blade couldn't believe her eyes at the sight. Her old comrade was standing right in front of her.
"Ar-Artorias is that-"
"Yes, Ciaran it's me." The phantom knight said softly as he looked down at his smaller friend. His voice no longer sounded empty like the short time Aqua had to speak with him last time. Instead there was a certain air of both pride and compassion to him despite his spectral form.
"Tis not possible. I saw you fall against the human."
"Another human?" Aqua raised a brow and crossed her arms as she looked at the phantom who chuckled.
"I guess I owe the both of you an explanation. I will have to be quick as I do not have much time left." He held out his hand to Ciaran near the black floating sprite that she held. She didn't hesitate in handing the black sprite back to its original owner. Artorias looked down at the black and purple flame in his palm before putting his free hand over his armored chest where his heart floated. He tilted his head to the armor cladded human.
"Master Aqua," He address her with the highest honor though a title she never truly got use to or particularly liked, "you freed my heart from the clutches of the Abyss, and for that I thank you. In doing so though you also separated my soul from my heart."
Artorias brought the floating sprite closer to Aqua and she looked at it curiously. This is what a soul looked like? It definitely wasn't what she hoped to imagine what one looked like. It was completely unformed as it burned like fire and she could feel the darkness just radiating off of it along with a great power.
"The soul is the very will of a person and is imprisoned by the heart. It's what drives a person to live and give them life. But because of Manus my will became corrupt and ran amuck."
Now this was concept never taught to her by Eraqus. A beings soul is trapped within the heart and is what the knight basically explained and the reason why she's even walking. The only knowledge that she had been of the heart and it containing a person most treasured memories. She originally thought that the soul was located around the whole body and not in one place.
"Somehow my heart found its way back to Ciaran." He looked over to the smaller knight with a ghost of a smile. She averted her hers slightly embarrassed. "But my soul came back to this coliseum where the placed Abyss in my soul took on thy form and created chaos. Until that other human stopped me once more and calmed my raging soul by proving his is stronger." The dead knight finished his tale. His head tilted towards the sun as it rays seemed to shine down upon him giving him a euphoric glow.
"My one regret, isn't being able to destroy Manus, but putting my friend's lives in danger. I don't even know what became of Sif or Alvina."
"I've seen no sight of either of them. Tis possible that they are both still trapped in the Abyss." Ciaran said with mild worry. Like Artorias, she enjoyed having the two animals around for their companionship and conversations with the cat could be quite interesting at times with its quick temper. "Hawkeye is missing too."
Artorias tilted his head confused thinking of the other knight.
"How does one miss Gough?" He said with a slightly raised voice of disbelief. Ciaran scratched the side of her mask while Aqua raised a brow from under her helm. Something told her that Gough wasn't human either.
"Is Gough another knight? I could go look for him along with the others if you wish."
"Yes, Hawkeye Gough is one of us but not just any ordinary knight. He is the first giant to ever become a knight and the only one to become one of Lord Gwyns Four. Thyself Abyss Walker, Lord Blade Ciaran, Hawkeye Gough, and Captain of the Guard Dragonslayer Ornstein. We make up the Four Knights of Gwyn that protect Anor Londo from the threat of the Dark Soul inherited by the furtive pigmy. Ancestor to all humans" Artorias paused to catch his breath. He looked directly at Aqua but failed to see her stern face at the last piece of information as she calculated it her head.
Did this mean that all human souls were dark, or just this worlds humans? This place was ancient but it was hard to believe that the father of man came from such a horrid place. And this Manus is supposed to be primeval man, could it be that he is this furtive pigmy?
"Humans have a better time handling the Abyss for they are inherently dark themselves. We would much appreciate if you can find them Master Aqua." Inherently dark? The bluenettes eyes widen. That couldn't be true! She was about to protest when Artorias spectral body rippled and he let out a sigh.
"It would seem that my time is up." His body started to fade into tiny bubbles of white light. Aqua felt sadness watching her short time friend finally starting to move on to the next life. This poor tormented heart could finally move on after leaving his grievances and wish out in the open. "I leave the rest to you and the other undead warrior to finish my task."
Artorias shifted back to Ciaran who had her head facing towards the ground. He let out a small sigh. With what little mobility left he lightly grabbed hold of one of her hands and cupped his soul around it. "I will no longer be needing this. I'm sure you'll keep it safe."
"I will." She said just below a whisper. His arms suddenly wrapped around her catching the smallest of the knights by surprise but a welcome one. As knights they are sworn only to their duty and to their king, never to show emotion to better serve even when one of their own dies. Both have seen horrors from the wars with the dragons. They teased out the sadness in rage that everyone has deep inside but the Four Knights of Gwyn had always kept stone faces. So why now was it so different?
"I'm sorry my dear, but this is the last time." And just like that he was gone from the world leaving only a lonely wind between the Lord Blade and Master Keyblader.
"It never gets easier does it?" Aqua watched as Artorias heart floated away before disappearing for good into the next life.
"Never. But as knights we must always keep a stone face and be strong even when our closest pass on. You too should know this." Ciaran sighed as she said the last part and Aqua hummed as a response. No, death was never an easy thing. But losing time that could be spent with others is much worse.
"I guess I should be going then." The white masked knight nodded and used her free hand to point the walking armor to her destination.
"The spread of the Abyss is coming from down yonder near the dungeon below us. That's where the other human was headed at the very least." Aqua nodded her head and made a mental checklist to find this knight first then search for Sif and Alvina before fighting whoever or whatever this Manus is.
"Wait Hu-I mean master Aqua."
"What is it?" she tilted her head back to glance at the knight whose gaze held an air of seriousness to it.
"Do you know of the Dark Sign?"
"Can't say I've had. Is it important?" Ciaran smirked from under her masked in mild amusement. This human must really not be from any neighboring lands if she didn't know of the curse of the undead. The assassin chuckled lightly.
"Not unless you're branded with it. Besides I believe that the other human would better demonstrate the use of the Dark Sign then I." something about the way Ciaran said demonstrate caused a chill to go down the masters' spine. Something was very wrong with this land other than the spread of the Abyss and the sooner she resolves the problem in Oolacile the better. Just as she was about to leave the silent arena, Aqua heard one more comment carried by the haunting wind but sounded so simple like an everyday thing on this world.
"Try not to die."
KZD: I had a dream a while back that was a DS and KH crossover. Riku was Artorias