Enjoy. Let's try this again.
It started years ago. He was just a baby. Hollow’s nineteen now, but we have to go back to before then. When the creator of the creatures you’ve learned to despise, the creatures you’ve hated for so long, was just an infant. Never has there been a tale more tragic. Most don’t believe it’s enough to redeem him, though. I’ll let you decide.
Ansem the Wise let himself wander around in the cobble-stoned town square of Hollow Bastion. Walls of smooth rock and cool bricks surrounded him as shopkeepers’ voices pierced the afternoon air like knives through butter, calling customers to their stalls in hopes of finding bargains, deals, and luck.
Strolling through the peaceful world, watching the occasional rat scurry into an unseen hideout, the man didn’t find anything worth buying. His mind, as always, was concentrating on his work, not his path. The “Wise” man, as he’d been dubbed, was thinking about, as he did for countless hours, the darkness of the heart. Immersed in his work even when he wasn’t staring at paperwork and experiments, the scientist stumbled over a small bundle, not surprised. Turning to see what he’d stumbled on, the man remained on all fours as he discovered an infant.
Wrapped in a brown, tattered cloth, the baby wept silently, large tears that craved for attention. The Wise one stared at it, amazed and disturbed by the fact that someone would leave their child in the middle of an open market with busy people crowding around every shop and walking so cramped together. He scooped the child up in his arms, staring looking for some kind of identification. He didn’t know what he expected to find, and he found himself feeling foolish for such thoughts.
But he did find something. Attached to the child’s wrist, hanging from a small band of leather, was a note. His large fingers clumsily fumbled around the notes tiny edges; it was a small note, Ansem realized. It only bore two words:
Ansem understood, even if he didn’t want to. This child had been abandoned. He stared into its pale face. Blonde hair- shockingly blonde- and pale, pale blue eyes adorned the baby’s face. The eyes looked almost purple in this lighting. Was it the lighting? The baby was tiny. How long had it been there?
Wrapping the cloth around it tighter, Ansem looked around, nervously. The last thing he wanted to happen was an accusation of kidnap, when this was so clearly a rescue. The baby stared up at him with an accusatory stare. He looked into its eyes curiously. What a strange child it was. Male. He could tell, at least, that the child was male. Its face was too sharp to be female. Little Enigma stared up at Ansem, glaring, still, until they made it to his lab. He fashioned a makeshift crib for it, letting it rock back and forth in the small, wooden heap.
Xenahort flew into the room, long ivory hair sweeping into the room. He looked angry. Standing in the middle of the medium-sized room, he glared at Ansem. Not noticing the baby, he started to yell, to the bewilderment of his superior.
“Ansem,” he demanded. “Human-testing… It’s nothing bad, especially if I volunteer. I’ll put it in writing, but come on. I want our studies to actually result in some answers. If you can’t take this seriously, how can you-“
“-Xenahort. There’s a baby present. Being a little more observant wouldn’t hurt you, you know,” Ansem said, amused. He picked up the baby and sat it on his knee. It glared up at Xenahort. He backed away from him.
“What’s that?” Xenahort asked lamely. He sat down in an old wooden chair, pulling it up so that he faced Ansem. Ansem raised an eyebrow.
“We call this an infant.”
“I call it a hassle. Does he have a name? And where’d he get that spiffy wardrobe?”
Ansem took the remark as a compliment. “Yes, I suppose the boy’s dressed rather… Oddly. But it was all we had in his size, so it’ll have to do. As for a name, I haven’t decided yet.”
Ansem gave the child an appraising look. “What do you think, Xenahort?”
The assistant stared at the child. Clothed in a shrunken lab coat with matching trousers, the baby looked even paler. Xenahort considered him kind of annoying.
“Hmm. Healthy looking thing, eh? Where’d you find him? Here? Well, in that case, tradition demands that we name him Sebastian.”
“Maybe that’ll be a last name. I think he looks like a Dione.” Ansem seemed pleased with the name. The baby just looked up, surprised. Xenahort, feeling annoyed at having been turned down, decided to cut down the baby.
“He looks hollow to me. No emotion whatsoever.”
“Mmm. Hollow. Not a bad nickname.”
“You have odd taste.”
“Yes, well. It’s not exactly a flaw.”
Xenahort gave the child a disapproving look. “Well, Hollow, Ansem, I think I’ll go set up the equipment.”
“Xenahort. We’re not going to test you. The press would have a field day,” Ansem said it sternly. He swiveled in his chair, giving Hollow a start. The boy hiccupped in surprise.
“The other assistants will want to see the child. You don’t mind playing baby-sitter, do you, Xenahort? Hollow doesn’t bite.” Ansem tickled the child, who let out a growl as a response.
Xenahort took the child awkwardly. He carried the child out of the room. Ansem went back to his work.
Flying through the halls angrily, Xenahort paid no attention to the child’s needs. He took it to the lab. It seemed to blend in with all the white. Hollow sat on the counter, where Xenahort had placed him. Staring around the huge room, he watched, blinking, as several others approached him.
“Who is that?” One of the assistants was staring at Hollow as if he were an alien.
“Little monkey for us to test on?” Joked another.
“Whatever. Are we being paid to watch it?” An annoyed voice spoke up from the back. Hollow, distracted by test tubes and beakers full of strange liquids, was content for the moment, though he didn’t like how many people were in the room.
“He’s Annie’s favourite, it looks like,” Xenahort said, in a foul mood. Someone walked up, challenging him.
“Well, Xenny, do we detect some jealousy? We all know you were kissing up to the boss in hopes that you’d get that grant for human test subjects. You even volunteered. How sweet.”
“Shut your mouth,” Xenahort snarled. “Just get back to the studies. Maybe this child will prove useful.”
“You’re not suggesting that we run tests on a baby from now on?” asked the voice that was overly critical of Xenahort. He laughed.
“No, not yet. He’s too young, now. Let’s give Ansem a little while to get attached.”
The other assistants stared at Xenahort. He was serious. They glanced nervously at the baby. “What is he, about a year old?”
“I’m guessing ten months. Wait two more. We’ll see if Hollow has any darkness in his blessed little heart.”
The assistants knew how cruel Xenahort was, but they didn’t know that he was this resentful of Ansem. That he would, if it meant getting back at his superior for the simplest thing, he would torture a baby.
But, they would wait. Because in this organization, if you didn’t form alliances with the strong now, they’d eat you alive later.
Three months and one week later, the assistants had forgotten their shame and guilt. According to Xenahort, Hollow was “sick” and he needed to “rest”. At least, that was what he told Ansem. The fool was worried, so he didn’t question it. He wanted to visit, but apparently the virus was contagious.
Two assistants giggled excitedly at the new creation. Hollow was walking, but he didn’t speak. There were drastic changes in his appearance now. Hollow had changed, the experiments proved successful, and the assistants were writing it all down.
The infant was proving very useful. As they tested him and manipulated the darkness of his heart, they took notes down and made it seem as if the conclusions had revealed themselves through the testing of Xenahort. Ansem supervised from afar, approving the experiments they asked him if they could try. He had only agreed to human testing if Xenahort’s safety wasn’t in jeopardy. And it wasn’t. It was Hollow’s.
The boy had changed dramatically. His ivory hair turned jet black. An ebony mess attached to a still pale body. Pale… For the most part. From his elbows down, Hollow’s skin turned black and softened. His hands, large and deformed, resembled huge mangled claws and were just as sharp. Disproportionate to his body, they were irregularly large for his arms and body. Pointed ebony ears adorned his head, and they were truly sensitive. The darkness of his heart had taken over, it seemed.
Operation Hollow Hearts was successful. You could multiply the darkness in one’s heart. The effects were set in stone and couldn’t be changed. They didn’t know if they could do it again. Still, they presented the results to Ansem, still claiming that Hollow was sick.
Ansem stared at their results, nodding until he saw the part about physical changes. About the razour sharp teeth and talon-like hands. When he read about the glowing yellow eyes, he demanded that the information should be burned. They obliged, not worried.
They burned the results. They did not burn Hollow. Instead, they sent him away for safety, telling Ansem that he’d been taken in the night, and that they were desperately searching for the cretins who’d taken him. He was sorrowful for a long time. He mourned forever, consoled only by his friend, Mickey. He then set out to find the boy he’d lost. His son.
The assistants, however, had hidden him well. Stranded on a little world covered in darkness and gloom, Hollow, who’d just seen one year, wouldn’t be rediscovered for three more.