[KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling, Complete.



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Audo

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- how to survive the end of everything -

[TABLE="class: grid, width: 600, align: center"]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]DATE[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]TEMPORA[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]TITLE[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]LINK[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/23[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]0[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]Zero Point[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/24[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]I[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]A Caelo Usque Ad Centrum[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/25[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]II[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]Mirum Videtur Quod Sit Factum Iam Diu[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/26[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]III[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]Obscuris Vera Involvens[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/27[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]IV[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]Magna Di Curant, Parva Neglegunt[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]01/28[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]V[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]Post Tenebras Spero Lucem[/TD]
[TD="align: center"][x][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

[AO3]

Basically the idea with this piece is that it's something of a spiritual successor to my other piece How to Leave Organization XIII. While that was a 358/2 Days retelling, this one is a 0.2 retelling. This piece will also share a similar style of writing and tone as that one. A lot of people really liked that one so I hope they like this one too. For some reason I'm a lot more nervous about this one, lol?

The plan is that the story will be in five stages and I'll post each one daily from the 24th until the 28th. I'm giving myself this deadline because I worry that playing KH3 and seeing how Aqua's story goes will make me lose motivation to write it lol. I also just think it would be nice to have some stuff for people to read leading up to release~

If you're interested in the story please leave a comment so the pressure to complete it on time gets heightened, lol.

NOTE: There will be no KH3 spoilers in this story. There may be some vague allusions to the Frozen trailer, but that's pretty much it. The last trailer I saw for KH3 was the Winnie the Pooh one so also please don't share any spoilers of things that occur in the trailers released after that or in the game. Thank you!

Also, this story is written for Tinny/Dandelion. I really hope he likes it ;-;

Anyway, here is the prologue for now.​
[HR][/HR]zero point.

My name is Master Aqua.

Now return my friend's heart, or pay the price.

All your life you put others before yourself, before your desires, before your well-being. Do no different here. Fight against the boy you grew up with. The boy you promised wouldn't go astray. The boy who did—and the darkness that overtook him. Throat still sore from when he nearly choked the life out of you, raise your blade. Be prepared to lose everything to bring him back.

Clash against the darkness. Blame it for everything that went wrong. For your Master. For your friends. Never stop fighting. Bruised. Bloody. See Terra within him, call out to him, plead for him to fight back, like you have. Like you always have. Watch as he turns his Keyblade against himself, plunges it deep into his chest. Barely comprehend what is happening as the dark creature dissolves into a pool on the ground. As your friend falls back into it.

Dive in after him, down into the abyss, never stopping to think otherwise.

Pay the price to save him—

Yourself.
 
Last edited:

Audo

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Re: [KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling


[HR][/HR]i. — a caelo usque ad centrum.

In the Realm of Darkness time is meaningless. Disorienting. Nonexistent.

Wonder if days or years in the Realm of Light pass with each step. Wonder about the lives and worlds you left behind. Are they safe? Is everything okay? Never ask these questions about yourself. Simply put one foot in front of the other. Over and over. Never stopping. Never questioning what is going to become of you now. Feel numb from it all, like it all is happening to someone else, like it all is just a bad dream—a nightmare—that will one day pass. Know deep down it won't be that easy.

Keep moving anyway.

Lose yourself into the endless hours of the dark. The abyss. The pale walkways and structures. All of it so alien to you. The glowing rocks and terrain remind you of the way light passes through the stained glass windows back home. How long has it been since you last saw it? Days? Weeks? Months? How long has it been for them, out there?

A pain in your heart emerges. Push it down, deep. You'll see it all again. You have to.

You're okay.

You're going to be okay.


After ceaselessly wandering through the dark, come across a peculiar sight. Against a cavern wall lay tons of debris. Piled up and discarded. Sharp edges jutting forth from every which angle. The material foreign to you, almost futuristic. Endless metal and glass. At the heart of it all, a casualty. A large white balloon like creature, soft to the touch with a friendly disposition. His eyes appear as two dark beads connected by a black line. He reaches out to the sky, to the distance, to unfound salvation. His hand is missing. Call out to him cautiously. Receive no answer. Utter silence. Motionless.

Step closer to him, only to knock against something on the ground. A red card branded with a skull. Stare up at his chest which lay open, heart missing. Wonder how it got trapped into the Realm of Darkness—how it ended up there, lost and abandoned. Clench your fist.

Vow to never end up like him.

Press on still.


As the lack of time wanes on, find yourself doubting your promise, your life, your existence. How can any of this really be happening? How can the nightmare not have ended? Wander aimlessly through the dark, desperate to clutch at any glimmer of light, only to find none. Feel shadows watching your every move. Hear their empty laughter. Turn around to find nothing but the same hollow dark. A trick of the mind, perhaps. Hear it again and again. Doubt everything.

Put a hand against your heart. Feel its warmth. A beacon in the cold—faltering. Question whether it is even possible to go on. To escape. To survive? Tell yourself all sorts of things, but find it hard to be soothed by any of them. Find a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other anyway. Never stop.

You'll be okay.

You'll be okay..

You'll be okay...

—Won't you?


Stumble forth, worn down. Tired. Empty. Wonder, as you always do, just how long you've been down there, wandering for ages in the dark, alone, step after step. Each one taking more effort than the last. Each one a little more hopeless.

An immense darkness arises in front of you in the form of a large black creature with gold eyes and tentacle like hair. A giant heart shape is cut out of its chest. It stares down at you, threatening.

Stop walking.

Draw your Keyblade. Your Master's Keyblade. Feel the weight of it in your hand as you stand your ground against the darkness. Watch to your horror as more creatures appear, one after the other. Surrounded. Stare in astonishment at the sheer number of them all. Prepare yourself to fight through them, like you fought through everything thus far, only to falter.

Alone.

Don't deny it anymore. Your friends. Your Master. They're gone. You're forgotten, abandoned, lost. How long can you really hope to go on like this? How long will you suffer through an unrelenting nightmare? It can end. One way, or another.

Hear your breath escape. Feel the Keyblade go loose in your hand, until its gone. There was never any hope for you, really. Accept the end. Your end.

Let yourself fade into the darkness here.

The creature raises its fist, pulls back, readies itself to extinguish your existence. Don't even look up. Stare down at your feet, finally having stopped moving, finally giving up. It was inevitable.

The darkness prepares to come crashing down on you once and for all, only for it to burst. Suddenly in this endless dark, a spark of light. Raise your eyes and look up. Watch in awe as the beams of light twist and twirl through the abyss, throughl the creatures' nonexistent hearts one by one, obliterating them before you. Recognize them. Your friends' Keyblades. Their hearts. Protecting you. Saving you.

Their light stirs your heart, waking it up, freeing it from rust. Watch as they fade into the distance, gone as quickly as they arrived. But feel the warmth they left behind. Touch your lips in surprise. You had almost forgotten how to smile, it had been so long. Smile unashamedly now as you pull out your Wayfinder.

The weight of it in your hand is more than just the weight of the object. It's the weight of your bonds. Feel your connection to their hearts as it radiates within you, bringing you warmth in this long dark. Ven. Terra. Your Master. Mickey. Cinderella and the others from the Castle of Dreams. Snow White and her seven dwarfs. Aurora and her fairies. The citizens of Disney Castle. Zack and Herc. Stitch. Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Master Yen Sid, Donald, Goofy. Kairi. Riku. Sora. The echoes of all their hearts resonate within your own.

Grip your Wayfinder. A new determination grows within you, making roots. Stare off into the distance, where you last saw Terra and Ven's Keyblades, where you last saw the light. Never forget the weight of the charm in your hand as you smile wide.

There's Always A Way

You say it, and you believe it.

For now, that is.
 

Audo

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Re: [KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling

[HR][/HR]ii. — mirum videtur quod sit factum iam diu.

The Wayfinder glows from your bonds. A beacon in the dark guiding you home. Hold it close to your chest. Know that as long as they're with you, you'll always find a way back. Head off toward where you last saw their Keyblades.

As you walk, something pulls you forward—a force deep within your chest. Instinctively you know Terra, Ven and all the others are guiding you out of the dark, the Wayfinder lighting the way. For the first time in... ever, you feel like you have a real chance, a real hope of escaping. It draws you deeper and deeper into the dark, but out of the fear you once held.

Farther down the road, a strange feeling overcomes you. Look down at the Wayfinder, still shining. Tremors shake all around you as the world reacts. Stare up in astonishment as a portal opens in the sky, as light—true light—finally shines down on you. Nearly unfamiliar in its radiance, in its warmth. Recognize it for what it is—an escape. A way out. A way home. You're going to be okay.

Darkness spirals and snakes out toward the light with a loud roar. An immense dark column of energy floods the portal, snuffing out the light. Breath catches in your throat as you watch the escape your friends gifted you weaken until its no more. The light is gone. Darkness prevailed.

The glow from your Wayfinder dims and fades. Disconnected. Untethered. Know that you're alone, again.

Clutch the Wayfinder harder, feel its points dig into your palm, sharp.

Don't stop. Let the pain guide you now. Keep walking.


When you see the dark creatures, don’t hesitate. Cut through them like the obstacles they are. Just another thing between you and salvation. Never stray from following where you saw their Keyblades going. Tell yourself that’s where the exit is, if only you can just reach it. Make your way through endless pale roads and valleys and cliffs. Beneath many glowing structures and barren trees and twisted shadows. Hear the snickers of the dark. Pay them no mind. Keep to the path. Keep going forward.

A large beast, a dweller of the dark, stalks you and finally pounces. It puts up a fierce fight, but you’ve survived worse, and you’ll survive worser yet. Quell him and watch as his body disintegrates back into the darkness once more, as if he never was. Briefly wonder if that’s what will happen to you. Push the thought away and continue on your way.

Stop in shock when you see something familiar on the horizon. A white castle appearing out of the darkness, hidden behind the fog. Could it really be? Recognize it at once as Castle of Dreams. A world you knew before. A world that was safe from harm. How was it there? Had something happened? Hurry toward it. Hope to find something when you get there. Answers, maybe.

The closer you get the more you realize there is something amiss. It’s not quite the castle you remember. In fact, the closer you get to it and the more the fog dissipates, the more twisted it seems. It’s not just Cinderella’s Castle that has fallen into the dark. Recognize the castle from Enchanted Dominion jutting out the side, tilted and twisted. Dwarf Woodlands’ castle, too, broken into pieces, stacked in every direction from the Castle of Dreams’ towers and walls. It reminds you of the twisted and fragmented castle you had turned your childhood home into. Broken and splintered. A shadow of what it once was.

What you thought had been darkness surrounding the castle was something else entirely. Thick thorns explode and snarl from behind the Castle, snaking into the skies all around the castle town at its feet. Patches of roads and houses have shattered into dark crystals and suspend in the air, like distorted jewels. Dark woods you recognize from Dwarf Woodlands border the path toward the Castle. As you walk closer you recognize giant shattered mirrors hovering in the air, reflecting the scene.

Have the worlds fallen? How did they end up here? Has something happened in the Realm of Light?

Feel a renewed sense of urgency. Head into the castle town and toward the castle itself. Tell yourself answers await you there.

Walk through the twisted and fallen castle town and feel something stir inside your heart. Every house you pass, every empty window, every cobblestone path. They remind you all of everything this place once was, of all the life that was once beaming within it. Before the fall, you walked down these streets, through these forests, and saw all the people and animals and plants that called this place their home. The dwarfs working in the mines. Cinderella’s friends. Aurora’s fairies. Where are they now? So much life… gone. It was a deep sadness, discovering all that you once knew was gone. You took your life for granted. You thought you had nothing in life to lose. Did everyone here think the same? Did they think it as their world was taken from them? Was it fast, or slow? Shudder at the thought. The grief in this place… it’s almost too much to fathom. And not just Castle of Dreams, but Dwarf Woodlands and Enchanted Dominion, too. What has become of them?

In the town plaza, a peculiar sight. Suspended atop the fountain, frozen in time, a glass casket. Thorns twist around the fountain and up to the casket ensnaring it. Step closer only to see what’s inside—who’s inside. Ven. Motionless. Eyes closed. Your heart erratic, race towards the fountain and up to the casket. Struggle to try and open it, to free him from it. Call out to him fruitlessly. Bang on the glass, over and over again until it starts to crack, starts to shatter. Feel the glass cut into your hand, scraping it up, but don’t stop. Do everything you can to reach him, only for him to fade away. Gone, as if he was never there.

Freeze. Breath deeply. Stare at the cracked glass, at where your friend was. Remember where he really is, where you left him. Step away.

Was it ever really him, or was it just another trick of the dark, finding ways into the cracks in your heart. There’s no way for you to know. Try to tell yourself that he’s still safe, that he’s still back home, that he’s still waiting for you to wake him up. Guilt pangs through your heart. Hold onto it. Cling to it. For it means you believe he is safe, even if it means he is still waiting for you. It’s enough for now.

Leave the fountain plaza and head for the castle.

The silence of what was once a bustling town begins to eat at you. Blame yourself. If the worlds really have fallen, is it because of you? Because you’re not there to save them? No answer you come up with, no attempt you try to make to absolve yourself, makes you feel better. Perhaps you really are to blame. But it’s all the more reason to keep going on, to find a way out, and to find a way to set things right.

As you reach the castle gets, get startled by another familiar sight. Standing by the castle doors—Terra. Race towards him as he disappears inside. Your legs burn from the strain but you can’t lose him, not again. Head into the castle only to find everything in decay. The plush carpeting torn and dingy. The intricate stone work along the banisters and columns chipped and destroyed. Thorns cover the stairs, the ceilings, the walls. Chunks of the floor missing, holes toward the darkness. Crystals fuse out of the walls, sharp and pointed. Everything feels dark and grimy. Find Terra standing at the top of the grand central staircase, back toward you.

Yell his name. See his hand twitch. Shudder. He heads deeper into the castle. Trail behind him as he ducks into this room and down that corridor. Up a stone staircase and higher into a tower. It feels like you’re trailing him ages when you round a corner only for him to be gone. At the end of the long dark hallway lies a single door. Notice your hand shaking as you twist the doorknob at enter the dimly lit room.

There, standing at the other side of the room, is your Master.

Eraqus.

Your lips tremble as you say his name. His grey eyes look at you with a kindness you’ve long been denied here in the dark. He says your name softly and you step closer.

Is it really you, you say.

Are you really here, in the darkness, you say.

He simply watches you, beckons you closer.

Terra…, you say, did he really…

Even though you heard Terra admit to it, even though you saw your destroyed home, even though you carry his blade, a part of you never believed it. How could your Master, the closest thing you had to a father, really be gone? But here he was, in the dark, in front of you, just a few steps away. Want nothing more in the world than to run to him, to hold him in your arms and apologize for everything you did wrong. You promised him Terra wouldn’t go astray. You promised you’d bring them both home. You promised everything was going to be okay.

But it’s not okay, is it?

And that’s not your really Master, is it?

And he’s not really alive, is he?

Stop walking. Stop getting closer to him. Stop, when you see blood streak down his face like a tear. The thing who is not your father, who is not your Master, who is not Eraqus, gets blasted from behind. He clutches his heart, grey eyes wide. He starts to stumble forth and at first you do everything you can to stay away, but he has your Master’s face, and your heart yearns for it. Reach out, reach out for him, only for your hand to go through him. A sharp sting as your hand is pricked by something. The man vanishes into a thousand fragments and you’re alone, again. Behind where he stood, in a jumbled up pile of shattered pieces and thorns, was a broken spinning wheel with your blood on its spindle.

The blood glistens at its tip before trailing down the needle's length and onto a strange face-like carving by the base. Stare at where it pierced your finger tip, at the blood dripping from your hand and onto the floor. Look down at your feet only to find the blood splattering on something on the floor. A large purple and gold card, marked with your blood. On the back of the card two hands with eyes at their center are depicted. Against your better judgment, reach down and take it. Breath catches in your throat when you flip the card over.

There on the front is you and your Master, illustrated. Behind the two of you is your old home from before it was lost. In the background you can make out Terra and Ven. You all look… happy. At the bottom of the card something is written in a fancy script, it reads simply: THE PAST. It unsettles and comforts you all at once. Where did it come from? How did it exist? Find yourself holding it close to your heart, just for this moment, just for a brief respite.

Ever since falling into the dark, all you wanted was to go back. Not just escape, but to turn back time, to before any of this happened. Back to when you and Terra and Ven were just apprentices, dreaming of one day becoming Masters. Back to when you were all safe and happy and the only thing you had to worry about was the exam. How simple it all was back then.

But you can’t go back. What happened, happened. Your Master is gone. Your home is destroyed. Your friends missing. And you, trapped here.

Leave the room, leave the castle, leave the past behind. Realize you can’t keep wishing for it, that it’ll just bring you further and further into the dark, however comforting it might be. Before you leave completely though, stop and look back at the ruins of the worlds you once knew. The world keeps our thoughts alive, but where did the people who lived here go, once their world was taken away? Were they like you, wandering through the dark? Or are they safe, somewhere else—somewhere better?

Grip the card tight and hope wherever they are that they aren’t suffering, too.

Take what solace you can from that.
 

Audo

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Re: [KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling

[HR][/HR]iii. — obscuris vera involvens.

As you wander through the endless dark, look at the card in your hand. Look at THE PAST. While the card’s origins confuse you greatly, spend most of your time thinking more about what they depict than where it came from, how it knew about you. The past. It feels so far away now. Sometimes even find yourself doubting if it ever existed at all. That maybe you had always been down here in the dark, that you only imagined a life before this. If such a life had existed, would you really have ended up here? Think about all the choices that led you down into the dark, all the things you could have done differently. Was there a way to have stopped this from happening? Or was it your destiny to be this alone?

You don’t know. It’s possible you’ll never really know, that this doubt will always exist inside your heart, forming cracks. For now, you can only do what you have always done—keep moving forward. Through the dark corridors, the twisted paths. Through the many fragmented and broken worlds you have found on your way thus far. The twisted forests that once must have been filled with fauna, meadows where deer likely took their first steps. The towering prideful rock structures. The empty and dilapidated shack of a carpenter. The hollowed out palace fit for an emperor. The barren and crumbling cityscapes of former prosperous worlds. Each one leaving behind a stain on your heart, and impenetrable sadness. Were you to blame for them, too?

Don’t react when you come across yet another fallen world. Not at first. Consider the best route around it, only for something in your heart to pull you toward it, deeper. Something calls out to you and you find yourself less and less able to resist. So don’t. Head into the darkness and tell yourself the entire time that it is your idea, even as the shadows nudge you closer.

Though the darkness has twisted it, recognize what must have once been a marshy outlet of a river. A thick fog fills what once was water. To your surprise, find that you can walk on it. The clouds bellow beneath your every step, but never part to reveal what lurks in its depths. Darkness, you presume. It’s always only darkness. Down the river make out what looks to be a light. Head toward it.

Discover a large triple decker paddle steamboat crashed into the fog. Thousands of purple lights line the railings and the top of the boat and a gold light emits from within. They flicker in the dark, giving the boat an almost glistening quality. It beckons you closer, inside. Explore the interior of the boat. Imagine the lives that once touched this place. The way they sat. The way they played music on the now abandoned stage. Their hopes and dreams. Venture further in.

Stop when you feel your heart tremble. A purple door rests at the end, unlike any other on the boat. Even the wall around it appears to be of a different material than the rest of the boat, like the wall and the door was splintered in from another part of the world. Light graffiti surrounds it on the wall. Inside the panels of the door, unintelligible drawings and icons appear to be scribbled. An intense pull forms within you and before you know it, you’re reaching your hand out.

Grip the handle. Open the door. Step inside.

Is there any point in continuing this fight?

Open your eyes. Find yourself back in your room at the Land of Departure. Back home. Turn and look out the window by your bed. Tear up at the beautiful mountains, the way the light shines on the golden chains connecting them, at the plaza at the castle’s door. It’s all still here. You’re still here.

A knock at your door. It opens and Terra enters. A young Terra, maybe twelve or thirteen. He smiles at you and runs toward your bed, hopping onto it.

Isn’t it amazing here, Aqua, he says. I can’t believe we can live here if we want. He sits cross-legged, holding his feet as he excitedly rocks back and forth.

Terra, why are you so small, you say.

I’m not small, he says, puffing out his nonexistent chest. I’m big and tough and I’m only going to get bigger once we start training.

No, why are you a child?

He tilts his head at you curiously. Aqua, he says, are you okay?

Stumble off the bed and find a mirror. Take in the sight of yourself, years younger. A kid. You and Terra both.

Is this a dream, you ask yourself.

I know, right, he says. It’s amazing here. Don’t you want to just stay here forever?

A bell goes off and Terra immediately jumps off of the bed. He tells you to head to the throne room. Follow him down the familiar corridors and staircases. Stare up at the stained glass windows, feel their warmth tickle your skin. Breath deeply. Calmly. It was all just a nightmare, wasn’t it? Everything is fine and nothing hurts.

You’re going to stay, aren’t you? Terra asks you as you approach the throne room.

Stay?

I’m going to, he says. I want to learn to wield the Keyblade. I want to be strong. He looks at you with a softness to his features. He holds your hand. I’d like it if you stayed, too, he says. I’ve never really had a friend before, he says. I think… I think we could be friends, don’t you?

Of course, you say. Of course we’re friends.

He beams. Good, he says. Go tell him that! He motions to the throne where he sits—your Master. Alive and well.

Call out to him. Run to him. Collide into him, barely having left his throne. Cling to him. Master, you say. Master.

Aqua, Eraqus says, and it takes everything not to cry at the sound of his voice. Aqua, what’s the matter?

Fail to find the words. Hold onto him harder.

Are you homesick? He asks.

Yes, you breathe.

He kneels down in front of you, a hand on each of your shoulders as he looks over you with tenderness and care.

Do you… want to go back to your own world, he asks. Are you not happy here?

No, you shake.

You want to stay?

Nod. He smiles.

I’m glad to hear that, he says. I want you to stay, too. I see so much potential in you, Aqua.

He summons his Keyblade and flips it so the handle is pointing in your direction.

In your hand, take this key. So long as you have the makings, then through this simple act of taking, its wielder you shall one day be.

Now, Aqua, he says. I’m going to ask you again, and you need to really be sure of the answer, okay?

Okay.

Do you want to live here in Land of Departure with me, and train under me to learn the Keyblade? Do you know what being a Keyblade Bearer means, and that once you take this Keyblade, you will always have to fight for what it stands for? Do you understand that once you’re a Keyblade Wielder, you won’t be able to return to your old world, and your old life before this moment?

Stare at your Master’s Keyblade. At the beginning of everything. At the choice you need to make. This was where it started. A crossroads in front of you. One path you knew the end of, another, completely unfamiliar. You had wondered aloud before if the lives you and your friends have were things you’d ever wish on someone else. You wondered if one Keyblade was more than enough for any friendship. And now, here you are, given the chance to change everything.

But, was it ever really a choice? On your old world you were alone, forgotten, abandoned. An orphan. You had no friends, no family. Every moment a struggle to survive. What choice did you really have? Of course you could never return to that life when this one offered you a home, a friend, a father. Was that designed? Did Eraqus pick you because he knew you’d have no other option? And what about Ven? If it weren’t for the Keyblade, you would never have met him. Your lights never would have crossed paths. Terra, too.

Grip the Keyblade’s handle. Accept all that it means: the mistakes, the tragedies, the hurt—but the love, too.

The Keyblade clatters to the floor. Eraqus stands over you. He glares down at you as his body begins to fade into the darkness.

I really wish you had chosen different, he says and then he dims and fades.

The light vanishes from the room, everything cast in shadow. Turn back around to find Terra, looking at his feet. Heart racing, reach out to him, grab his shoulder, try and get his attention.

Why’d you do it, Aqua? He asks quietly. Don’t you know what you’ve done?

He looks up at you, his eyes a piercing golden colour.

Everyone pays the price now, he says.

Only your heart is hollow enough to be a demon's.

Open your eyes. Nothing but pale light all around you. Chains along the wall light up into giant emblems. Get to your feet. Recognize your surroundings. The Chamber of Waking. Behind you, the lone throne and in it—Ventus. Hurry toward him. Call out to him. Run your hand through his hair, down to his cheek. His eyes are closed. Sleeping. Just as you left him.

You’re awful, Aqua, he says sharply.

Get caught by surprise. Begin to ask him what he’s talking about only for his hand to shoot out and grab you by throat. Feel his grip tighten as he wakes up and glares at you. Staring back at you is two golden eyes. Fight against his grip. Struggle for your life.

You failed to stop Vanitas from forming with me, he says.

You failed to stop him from forming the χ-Blade, he says.

And then you shattered it, and my heart along with it, he says.

Try to tell him that you did everything you could. Try to tell him you only wanted to save him. All you ever wanted was for him to be happy, for him to be safe, for all of you to be safe. That’s why you always tried to keep him out of danger, why you told him to wait in his room, why you told him to go back home. But all it ever did was push him more. Push him to fight. Push him to leave. Push him to run away. Were you really to blame for what became of him?

You broke my heart, he says. And then you locked me away in here and left me to rot.

He gets up out of the throne and drags you to the wall by your neck. I asked you to put an end to me, he says before slamming you into the wall. And you didn’t, he says. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been in this prison? Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me?!

He throws you back against the wall, knocking you out. The darkness overtakes you.

No one can save you. And no one wants to.

Open your eyes. Stand up. You’re back outside the Land of Departure. The steps up to the castle are right in front of you, and standing in front of them is your Master. He watches as you take in your surroundings. The light is shining. The mountains green and alive. Everything looks just as it was the day you left to chase after Terra and Ven. It’s at this point you notice the clouds are not moving, there is no breeze. Paused. A moment in time, locked away.

It dawns on you that you could live here forever, in this moment. You’d never have to face the darkness again. Here, you could sleep in the comforting embrace of empty time. Here, you could be happy. Terra and Ven haven’t left yet. The tragedies that befell you all haven’t happened. What if this moment could last forever and ever. Haunted endlessly by what ifs and if onlys, here you could refuse to ask them, refuse to answer them, refuse to keep going. It’s comforting, and yet you find yourself walking towards your Master, knowing it will end.

Aqua, he says when you approach.

I’m sorry, you say, before he even says another word. I didn’t do enough. I didn’t try hard enough.

You promised me, Aqua, he says. You promised you’d bring them back. You promised they wouldn’t go astray.

I know, you say.

I tried, Master, you say.

Yes, you did, he says. He reaches out and takes your cheek in his hand, rubs it gently. He sighs as he looks at you.

I really wish that had been enough, he says.

A sickening blast erupts from behind. He gasps for breath as something strikes him in the back. Clutching his heart he falls forward before exploding into a thousand tiny lights, never to be seen again. Behind him, his Keyblade drawn, stands Terra. His gold eyes finds yours.

Terra, you scream, what have you done?!

The wind comes crashing in and you struggled to keep your footing as it whips about.

This is because of you, Aqua, he says. He puts a hand over his heart. It’s because of you that there is darkness inside me. Your light cast shadows on my heart. You pushed me deeper and deeper within them. What did you think was going to happen when you showed the Mark of Mastery over me? It only fed deeper into my obsession and your transcendence only brought more darkness.

It’s because of you that the Master is dead, he says. It’s because of you that I fell to the darkness. It’s because of you that Ven is broken. It’s all your fault.

Terra raises his Keyblade up into the air shooting a dark beam into the sky. It cracks open and begins to swallow the Land of Departure. Swallow your home, forever. The sky is dark, the wind howling, the life getting absorbed from everything around you. Fight to reach Terra, to stop him from falling even further. Tell yourself this isn’t who he is. Tell yourself that he’s more than the darkness inside him. Doubt yourself more than you ever have.

This is all because of you, Terra says. Just look there, you see?

He points to the sky where stars are blinking out. First slowly, one here and there, but the more you look, the more you see vanish out of existence. World after world lost to the darkness. Terra cackles and the sound of it makes you sick. You kept me from falling into the Realm of Darkness, he says, but all you did was bring ruin to the world. My darkness—our darkness—spreads from world to world, consuming everything it touches.

Terra’s hair turns silver as he begins to walk across the plaza to you. Shattered remnants of the worlds begin bursting forth from Land of Departure’s husk. The clock tower from the Castle of Dreams. Thorns from Enchanted Dominion. The casket from Dwarf Woodlands, shatters onto the ground. All around you proof of the destruction you brought forth. Rock structures break free of the mountains. Swamps and rivers drown out the training grounds. Cityscapes erupt from the earth every which way.

Stare up at the sky as hundreds, thousands of stars blink out all across it. Watch to your horror as the sky goes completely black, not a world to be seen.

Don’t you see yet? Terra yells. You’re the reason the worlds are falling. You are the beginning of the end of everything!

Scream for him to stop. Scream for him to end it. Fall to the ground and close your eyes. Bang your fists against the stone. Over and over again. Just stop it. Please. I can’t keep going on like this. I can’t do this alone. Stop it, Terra! Stop everything! Yell until your voice breaks, until you feel your firsts break against the rock.

I can’t do this anymore. Please.

Just let go of everything and fade into the darkness.​

Aqua.

Aqua, you hear someone say.

Aqua, can you hear me?

Open your eyes. You’re back on the steamboat. Back in the Realm of Darkness. Stop banging your fist on the wood. Look at your bloody hand, at the red smears you’ve pounded into the floor. Glance up at the source of the voice and find someone familiar looking down at you.

Mickey, you say.

The King is standing in front of you, in his hand a large golden Keyblade. Are you okay? He asks you. I’ve been looking for you, he says. How did you end up here, he says.

Don’t believe it. It’s just another trick of the darkness. Another illusion meant to destroy you like all the others. Get to your feet. Yell at him to stay away from you, yell at him to leave you alone, yell at him to stay back. He tries to calm you down, tries to make you lower your defenses. Of course he does. That’s what the darkness does. It finds the cracks in your hearts and does everything it can to turn them into canyons. Don’t let it. Draw your Keyblade.

He tries to tell you everything is okay, that you’re safe now, that you’ll be f—

SHUT UP!

You’re just another demon, you say. That’s all that exists down here, you say.

Aqua… he reaches his hand out to you. Refuse. Instead, aim your Keyblade at him. When he hesitates, take it as confirmation. Shoot golden chains out of your Keyblade, let them ensnare him in them. He struggles against them, struggles to reach you, to convince you. Control the chains with your Keyblade, throw him back and away. He bursts through the wood walls of the steamboat, and crashes somewhere off in the distance.

Run.

Don’t look back. Don’t stop. Just run. Faster and harder than you have the entire time you’ve been trapped here. Further and further into the darkness. Don’t care. Don’t question it. Just don’t ever stop again. Breath sharp and ragged. Heart racing and erratic. Keep running.


When you’re finally far away from him, from the steamboat, from the fallen world, from your past, catch your breath. Notice, for the first time, a card clutched in your left hand. It’s familiar purple backing with two hands with eyes in their centers taunts you. Turn it over. It’s you, again. An illustrated version of yourself all alone in the dark, a single long pale road winding in front of you until it disappears into the shadows. Beneath it the words THE PRESENT.

Realize, far too late, that you just lost your only chance of escape.
 
Last edited:

Audo

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Re: [KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling

[HR][/HR]iv. — magna di curant, parva neglegunt.

Try to find Mickey. Fail to do so. When you finally make it back to the steamboat, he’s nowhere to be found. Was he ever really there in the first place? You don’t know which is more upsetting a notion: that he was there and you lost your chance to be with someone, to maybe find a way out, or that he was never there at all and your grip on reality is that detrimental. Whatever the case, you know you’re alone again now. Head back on through the darkness.

Walk on and on without end once more. More and more fragmented worlds pass you by as you make your way through the Realm of Darkness. Fortunately they are none you recognize from your travels, but it’s hard to find comfort in that anymore. Across your long journey in the dark, you’ve seen so many broken and fallen worlds. There’s no mistake that something must be going wrong in the Realm of Light. But what could possibly cause this much ruin? It almost seems too unbelievable, that there must be some other explanation for why these worlds are down here. Forgotten and alone.

Eventually stumble onto the outskirts of another fallen world, a circus. Head toward the center. As you do, pass by countless empty animal cages and exhibits. Bears, kangaroos, hippos, tigers, giraffes, gorillas, zebras, elephants… When their world started to fall, did they try to save them? Or did they leave them locked in their cages? Approach the bars of one of the cages. Inside you can clearly make out where a family of animals must have slept. An ache in your heart returns. Know deep down that they weren’t spared. Almost hear their cries as you back away and head on.

On your way to the Big Top Tent pass by a large mirror. See, for the first time since falling down here, your own reflection. At first it is almost unfamiliar to you—you are unfamiliar to you. Being down here has taken a toll, one that you hadn’t even noticed it doing so. Your clothes are tattered and ripped in places, dirty and wrecked. Blood is on your sleeves. Dark circles plague your eyes which seem sullen and dulled. Lips cracked. Cheeks gaunt. A shadow of your former self. Is this the effect of the darkness? Or is it just the effect of being forgotten? Isolated? Alone.

The Big Top Tent has a giant hole in its center revealing the dark and empty sky above. One side of it is deflated, fallen. Otherwise, it still stands. Still the main attraction. Don’t know what you’ll find inside, but know it’s your best bet to make it through the circus. Past the entrance, find yourself surrounded by bars like a cage, a distorted maze to the center. Every step you take echoes like the crack of a whip inside the tent. Don’t let it faze you much. Nothing really fazes you anymore. You’d find this a comfort if you found anything comforting at this point. Move through the bars and the cages and the maze like none of it is real, numb and empty, every step feeling heavier than the last.

You’d ask yourself how much longer you could go on, but you know the answer doesn’t really matter anymore.

At the center of the Big Top, seemingly spotlit by the tear in the tent’s upper fabric, stood a lone detached train car. It, too, had bars on all its windows. More than that though, it also had a large wooden barricade across the door and a large ornate padlock locking it tight. On the cart and all around it were signs written in large block letters. DANGER, read the one hanging from the roof. KEEP OFF, said the one on the side. DANGER, KEEP OUT, on the sign staked into the ground in front of it. Beside the barred window another sign read MAD ELEPHANT.

Approach it cautiously. Any manner of darkness could be inside, but something about it disarms you. Step up to the door and peer through the bars inside. Large heavy chains attached to the walls of the cart lead off into the corner where they’re wrapped around, wait—someone’s in there! Even though their face rests in shadow, make out the body of a girl. Try and reach her through the gaps in the bars but fail. Call out to her, tell her you can help help, tell her you’ll find a way to get her out. Is she okay? How long has she been down here? Ask her to come closer and into the light. She does.

A girl with blue hair and blue eyes looks back at you. Yourself. Could it really be? But there’s no denying it. Locked in the train car, chains around her legs and arms, is you. Aqua. The girl you used to be. She looks like how you remember yourself.

Please, she says quietly.

I’ve been alone for so long, she says.

Please help me, she says.

It doesn’t make sense and yet, don’t hesitate. Release the large wooden beam from its holders and toss it away. Shake the lock, try and break it free. When it doesn’t budge, jump back from the door and summon your Keyblade. A beam of light erupts from your blade and into the lock. It comes undone with a satisfying click and falls to the ground. Hurry to the door, swing it open, bring light upon the girl, upon yourself. Aim your Keyblade at the locks on the chains, one after another, until she is free. Until you have saved yourself.

A blast of dark energy knocks you off your feet and away from the train car. The girl appears in the door, steps slowly outside. Her gaze digs into you right before she lets out a sickening cackle that seems to shake the tent all around you. She raises her hands into the air.

Yes, she says. The ground beneath you begins to shake.

Yes, she says as a tower erupts from the earth, knocking back the train car and lifting the other you high into the air.

YES. The tower bursts into flames. The fire casts menacing shadows all along the tent wall that laugh along with her. They bear their sharp teeth and dramatic edges as they encircle you, trapped. She brings her arms down triumphantly as large threatening pink elephants appear behind her one by one. Their shape changes and bounces and stretches and overwhelms you. The blare of trumpets and cymbals and drums fill the air as the fire rages on.

Oh, you silly girl, she says.

She reaches her hand out and a Keyblade appears within it. Your Keyblade.

Now you can be one with the darkness, she says.

Don’t stop now. Get to your feet. Ready your Keyblade. Be prepared to lose everything, all over again.

Battle with your self, blade against blade. Give it all that you ever. Push your entire being into your Keyblade. All of the hurt, all of the anger, all of the loneliness. Channel it all into your fist, into your blade. Let it be an extension of you. Makes the other you feel everything that you’ve felt, everything you feel. The hopelessness of the dark. The pain of being forgotten. The determination to keep going through it all. Never relent.

No one can save you, and no one wants to, the other you says with a smirk.

Don’t listen. Connect your Keyblade with her side, hear her yell in pain.

Is there any point in continuing this fight, she says. She uses her Keyblade to direct the fire from the tower at you. Deflect it. Block it. The heat causes sweat to run down your face, but don’t give in. Push it back and away. The flames collide with the canvas of the tent, setting it all ablaze. Don’t get distracted.

Just let go of everything and fade into the darkness, she yells.

No, you say, fiercer than you ever have before.

Jump away, pull back your Keyblade. Feel the light coursing through you, collecting at the tip of your blade. Throw it square into the other you’s chest, knocking her back. Notice the way a necklace around her neck comes lose. Recognize it from before, from the dark. You had seen that same strange carved face on the spindle back in Enchanted Dominion. Instinctively you know what must be done.

Close the distance between you and your other self. She screams and fights back but don’t stop. Wipe the blood from your lip, grit your teeth through the blows she lands with her blade. Wrestle free the talisman from around her neck. Succeed. Back away as the darkness wraps around, as her shape changes. When it fades away find not yourself, find not a girl, but a man with dark skin and purple eyes. He gets to his feet and dusts himself off as if this was all a trivial matter, even as the world around them burned.

He pulls a large top hat with a skull on the front out of nowhere and places it on top of his head.

I’ve got to hand it to you, Aqua, he says, you really don’t give up do you?

Who are you, you demand.

A tip of the hat, from Dr. Facilier, he says giving you a little bow. I really ought to be thanking you, girl, he says. I’ve been down here a long, long time, and now, thanks to you, I’m finally free.

How do you know who I am?

My friends on this side, he says gesturing to the large menacing shadows surrounding him. They’ve been keeping an eye on you since you ended up here. I owe them a great debt for bringing you to me, but that’s something to worry about later.

What are you talking about?!

Oh, don’t you know? They’ve been guiding you since you fell down here. Your Master. Your friends. They were never really here. You’re all alone, child. Always were. Always will be.

He snaps his fingers and the shadows grab you, catching you off guard. Struggle against their seemingly invisible grip to no avail.

I won’t let you get away with this, you say.

He laughs. Oh, Aqua. Don’t you see? You’ve already lost. You lost the moment you dived this far into the dark. There’s no return to the world above.

The shadows bring you closer to him atop the tower. He pulls out of the darkness a long staff with a purple orb at the top.

But don’t worry, he says. I’m a man of mercy. You’ve fought long and hard down here and I respect that about you.

He presses the end of the staff against your chest.

You can finally rest, he says.

He pulls back, cane aimed straight for you heart, ready to plunge deep into your chest.

Brace yourself for the end—

The world shakes and trembles, distracting the Shadow Man. The fire around the tent exintinguishes on its own accord. Everything around you seems to be coming back to life. The tent fills out, reforms its proper structure. Balls of light float up from the ground and into the sky. Is it being… restored? As soon as you think it, witness as a large portal opens in the sky and natural light falls down on you once more. That warmth. Recognize it from the escape that Terra and Ven tried to give you so long go.

The light scares the shadows away and you fall down from the tower. Catch yourself before it’s too late. The Shadow Man grins down at you as the tower breaks into pieces and start flowing up toward the portal. He’s going to escape, he’s going to make it back into the Realm of Light. Hurry after him, jump from shattered platform to the next, racing to get to the top, racing to get to freedom before he does. Through the hole in the circus tent you can see the animal cages fly up and into the portal. The ground beneath you disappears into beads of light that fly up into the portal. Hurry.

The platforms you’re jumping from are dissolving just as quickly, leaving through the portal. Hop from risky structure to the next, anything to stop the Shadow Man from harming the Realm of Light. Make it past the hole in the top of the big tent. See Facilier rising on the top of the tower toward the portal. Take a leap of faith to catch up to him, barely make it, holding on to the tower’s edge.

He looks down at you as he steps toward the edge. Presses his foot gently against one of your hands.

You just don’t give up, do you, he says with a laugh.

He steps down on your hand forcing you to let go. Hold on to the edge with your other hand with all your might. Beneath you the Big Top Tent has started to dissolve, started to move onto the other side. Soon there is no ground below you just a deep thick darkness.

The Shadow Man leans down close to you.

When I look into your future, you want to know what I see?

He pulls a card from his jacket pocket. Recognize it as the same kind that you found twice before. Hear his laughter harsh in your ear as he slips it into your free hand. Want nothing more than to just let it drop into the abyss. Find yourself clinging to it instead.

You ain’t gonna make it, he whispers before standing back up.

You never had a chance, he says. There is no one left to save you.

He presses the toe of his boot against your fingers one by one. I got big plans for the other side, he says. And I can’t let you be there to get in the way.

Feel the warmth and the radiance of the Realm of Light right before Facilier jams his boot hard against your hand. Feel it vanish as you fall back into the abyss below.

Now you can be one with the darkness, he says with a smile.

Watch as the light fades from your view until it’s nothing but a pinprick against the black sheet around you as you fall deep, deep, deep into the darkness.
 

Audo

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Re: [KH] "How to Survive the End of Everything" | 0.2 Retelling

[HR][/HR]v. — post tenebras spero lucem.

It feels like forever since you saw the Shadow Man escape the Realm of Darkness. Forever more, still, since you lost everything you once knew—your master, your home, your friends—and fell down here in the first place. Trapped. Alone. Twice now you’ve lost your chance to escape, watched the light leave your eyes. Would there ever be a third? Or were you really destined to be forgotten and abandoned forever? To waste away here until you faded into the all-consuming darkness around you? Still so much of being down here feels unreal, fabricated. Every day seems a new opportunity to wake up and find it was all just a dream, only to be disappointed. Tell yourself to stop wishing for the past. Tell yourself to accept where you are. Tell yourself to keep moving.

And you do, but for how long? You’ve traveled the Realm of Darkness for so long, never stopping, never giving up. At some point something has to give, something has to break. Will it be you? Your determination? Your heart?

The path through the Realm of Darkness feels emptier than it ever has before. Whatever was going on in the Realm of Light—whatever was causing worlds to fall into the darkness—it seems to have been averted. It has been ages since you last saw another world. All that accompanies you now as you walk down the unending pale roads is the dark and the dark creatures lurking within it. Even though seeing the shattered worlds brought you pain, remorse, guilt, grief, something about them brought the tiniest of comforts. Something to break the monotony. Something to convince yourself you were making progress.

Now it’s just you, again.


Feel your heart stir in a way that it hasn’t in a long, long time.

Breaking across the white road in front of you is an immense large gold chain. Recognize it immediately and hurry down the pathway, following where it leads. At the end, come across a large series of cliffs and valleys. Chunks of ornate buildings with broken stained glass windows and large gold chains connecting them litter the landscape. Some atop the cliff, some in the valley below. Chunks of a stone plaza lay discarded behind. Find the smallest of smiles curl your lips. It’s Land of Departure. It’s your home.

It’s a mixed emotion seeing it before you. Pain, from the memories of having lost it. Comfort, at seeing something familiar, finally again, after endless hours of the same old dark. Tell yourself it’s a sign, a beacon, maybe. Not to give up hope, not just yet. Head down toward the ruins. Stare up at the stained glass. Remember how it used to sparkle and shine. Inspect the gold chains. Remember how they used to mystify you as a child. Approach the large chunk of the plaza that used to exist at the castle’s steps. Remember picking up your Master’s Keyblade there and sealing the land away.

Land of Departure never fell to darkness, not really. Though Xehanort had used the darkness to send large parts of it down here, it still exists out there. When the rest of the fragmented and broken worlds were restored, they stayed here. It felt strange to be thankful for its destruction, but without it you really didn’t know how much longer you could go on.

Take out the three tarot cards you received on your journey through the depths. They, too, felt strange to hold onto, strange to be thankful for. They had been a part of a great sadness and pain, but they were also a reminder, a reminder that what happened to you happened to you. A reminder that there was a reality even in this place. A reminder of what’s important to you. Look at each card one more time.

THE PAST. Your home. Your friends. Your Master. Alive and well. Happy, even. It’s nice to think about. Not to want to go back to, because you know now that there is no going back. You can’t keep wishing for the past, that much has been shown to you. But it’s nice to think about in a different way—something to hope for. One day you’ll be able to get out, you’ll be able to restore your home, you’ll be able to wake Ven, find Terra. You can be together again. It won’t be the way it was, but maybe there’s still a way for it to be good, too, even if it is different. Know you’ll hold your Master in your heart always, feel him with you.

THE PRESENT. The Realm of Darkness. A journey of great trials and tribulations. But not one in vain. Terra is saved. He exists out there in the Realm of Light, you know it. While the darkness is rough, and your heart has occasionally fallen prey to its assaults, this card reminds you that everything is real. That this place is real. That you are real. And that your endless determination to get out of here, that’s real, too.

THE FUTURE. A beach you’ve never seen before. A version of yourself unfamiliar to you. The illustrated version of you on the card has lighter hair and golden eyes. What could it mean? Was it just another trick by the Shadow Man to sow seeds of doubt within you? Or could it mean something more? It’s impossible for you to know, but you know that it means you have a future, whatever it might be. There is still somewhere else to go.

Throughout your journey you held onto these cards. They anchored you in the long dark. But standing on the ruins of your former home now, realize you no longer need them. Within your heart is an appointed path. It has seen all that has come before, it has endured all that the darkness could throw at you, and now it stretches out before you into your future. Explanation escapes you as to why, but standing there, a renewed sense of purpose washes over you.

The darkness had tried to exploit your doubts, your guilt, your fear. But it doesn’t have that hold on you anymore. Know that you are not to blame for your Master’s death. Know that you are not to blame for Ventus’ sleep. Know that you saved Terra, whatever that might mean. While you know these things to be true, they are not any easier. Your friends still need you. The worlds still need you. Promise to be there for them.

Walk over to the edge of the cliff side. With your childhood home to your back, drop the cards into the abyss one by one, watching them until they disappear completely from view. And then—

Head on, back down that same pale road, into the future that awaits.


The sound and feel of the sand beneath your feet startles you at first, so unlike the rest of the winding pathways the dark realm has treated you to so far. It feel strange. All this time you’ve been so focused on never stopping, on walking through the dark no matter what, that your body got used to the way the old pathways felt against your feet. Gone numb to it. The first step onto the sand almost makes you lose your balance, and wakes your heart up. Something has changed.

Ages has passed since you the ruins of the Land of Departure. You kept that determination with you the entire time, and now, here you are. A giant beach and dark sea is in front of you, and on the horizon, a light. Walk towards it, almost transfixed by its glow. As you do, notice that you are not alone. Further down the beach, sitting on a large rock with glowing veins, is a man in a dark coat. Feel the apprehension inside you, the caution, there is nothing to tell you if he friend or foe. But you don’t have much choice either way. Approach him.

Who are you, you ask.

He’s startled a bit, but answers you warmly. Why, hello, it’s not often I get visitors.

Please, call me Aqua, you say.

The image of someone here, like you, trapped, and yet just… sitting is one that is hard for you to grasp. How could he not keep moving? How could he not be trying to find a way out?

Why are you sitting here all alone in the Realm of Darkness, you ask. How did you end up here?

He looks out over the horizon. Well…, he begins, I can tell you this is my second time on these shores. But unfortunately, much like the first, I do not remember who I am or whence I came. Everything was washed away in whatever currents carried me here.

That’s too bad, you say softly.

Sit down on the shoreline, too. When was the last time you sat down? You can hardly even remember.

I know I’ve been here a long time, wandering through the endless hours… unable to escape…

The man looks over to you. You wish to return to your own world?

It’s my friends, you say. I promised I’d be there for them.

Your friends? He takes a breath. Somewhere in the scraps of memory I have left, you remind me of a boy I once knew. He is very much like you—true to his friends, and kind. This boy travels to many worlds and fights to keep the light safe.

Keep the light safe, you say.

You had your suspicious of course, but when everything restored you figured that was it, it was over. What exactly was going on in the Realm of Light?

I’ve been away too long, you say. Did something happen out there? Are the worlds in danger?

Sad to say, they nearly fell to darkness more than once, he says. But at every turn that boy arrived with Keyblade in hand to save the day.

Wait a sec…

Keyblade? Could it be? Were they really safe? Were they out there protecting the worlds? Were they trying to find you?

Is his name Terra or Ven, you ask.

Neither of those, I’m afraid, he says.

Feel the smile you didn’t even know you had made fade from your face. Should’ve known…, you say as you turn back to look at the waves in front of you.

How long has it been since I met him? At least a year now, perhaps more… Back then, my heart was clouded with vengeance. I did terrible things… both to him and his friends. I brought unhappiness to more lives than one. I felt something must be done. Was that why? A means of clearing my conscience? Or perhaps out of a sort of scholarly instinct?

While the boy slept his long sleep, I hid the results of my research inside him, transplanting the data to where it might best serve a purpose, he says. In fact, I would like to believe… Maybe he can set things right. A boy like him who touches so many hearts—he could open the right door and save all those people whose lives I managed to ruin.

Turn to face the man, feel a pull to his words.

So many are still waiting for their new beginning, their birth by sleep, he says, turning to look at you in kind.

Even me, he says.

And even you.

A strange feeling is filling up your heart as it quickens its beat.

What’s this boy’s name, you ask.

His name is…

You hear it, but at first you can hardly believe it. It overwhelms you all at once: the knowledge, finally, of how much time has passed in the Realm of Light; that the young boy you thought to give the Keyblade to so many years ago has now found one on his own; that he has gone on to save the world many times over; that he could be your salvation.

Just hearing his name brings tears to your eyes, but not out of sorrow or despair, but out of hope. All throughout your journey into hell, into the deepest darkest you have kept from breaking down, you have kept from crying, but now the tears cascade down your face, lit by the cool glow of the ocean’s light. You turn to face that light, feeling it fill you up, feeling the darkness fade away.

Sora.

You say it, and you know, that there is hope for you. That there is hope for Terra. For Ven. For all of the worlds and all of the people and all of the animals and all of the life still filled with uncertainty in their hearts.

There is hope.

All your life you kept your sight forward, always pushing, always moving toward your goals, toward your dreams, toward your escape. It kept you going in this dark and cruel world that constantly revealed itself to be even darker and crueler than you would have ever imagined. The belief that somewhere at the end of the long road, at the end of the endless hours, there would be salvation. Rescue. Something.

But here sitting along the beach with a stranger, you know that you can’t go forward anymore.

Watch the waves of the dark sea as they lap by your feet, finally resting, finally stopping. End of the road. It’s hard for you—harder than you ever thought it would be—to allow yourself to stop. To give up? No. But to accept that you can’t do this alone.

As you stare out at that dark sea and the light emitting far from the horizon, find yourself accepting it all. Accept that you can’t return to the life you knew before. Accept that your Master is gone, but that he will always remains in your heart. Accept that you’ve fallen into the darkness. Accept that you cannot escape it by yourself. Accept that you can’t do this alone. Accept that there is nowhere else to go.

Accept that there may not always be a way forward—

But more than that, know that there is always hope for one.

This is how you survive.​
 
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