Kingdom Hearts: Coronation of Light (Fan Game Design/Fic)



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Blackdrazon

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Purpose
This is not going to be your typical fanfic - rather, it's going to be a series of atypically formatted fan-game-design document-style posts covering a hypothetical Kingdom Hearts game about Kairi's training with a Keyblade, set sometime between DDD and KH3. My effort is to copy the Kingdom Hearts' style of writing and to explore a few forgotten corners of Square Enix and Disney's libraries. This will be an early-stage design doc, with only the main script and a rough outline of world content and encounters, gameplay, etc, and heavily stylized to make it more like a fanfic. For the sake of dramatic tension, I won't be spoiling everything ahead of time like I would in an actual design doc (which would include an up-front plot summary, character descriptions, etc), but there will be character design notes and battle design notes scattered about the main script.

I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave feedback, especially about the format, because converting this for use on the forums was a Task and I want to make sure it was going in the right direction!

Platform
The game described in this doc is designed to be "the last" of the old-style Kingdom Hearts games, using an engine not unlike the one in DDD and making no use of the Kingdom Shader, Unreal, or the like. It should probably be considered technically equivalent with a PS3 game at best, PSP at worst. It is not meant to be a new main numbered game, but another in the infinite "build up to KH3" saga, but with some much-needed and much-delayed build-up for poor Kairi.

Opening Credits
After difficulty selection, the game proceeds to a recap-style Kingdom Hearts opening sequence set against "Passion – KINGDOM Orchestra." The silent notes at the start of the song relate Kairi's friendship with Riku and Sora, Kairi being swept away from Destiny Islands, and the time she spent without her heart. The flutter of notes at 1:48 indicate the point where Sora gives up his heart for Kairi and she is revived, and the more dramatic notes that follow cover the events Kairi and Namine participated in in CoM, KH2, coded and DDD, with the dramatic finale scoring Kairi's acceptance of training with the Keyblade. This sequence would ideally be set with unique visuals, but given the nature of the project as a "build up" game using an old engine, it could easily be done as a montage-style opening using existing footage, ala CoM, Days or coded.

Teaser
Following the opening credits, we see the following scene.

INT. CRYSTAL CHAMBER

A circular chamber made entirely of bluish crystal. The room is multi-faceted, and we pan across the walls, seeing ghostly after-images of events in the windows. They appear to show all times and places: many of these events are from the other Kingdom Hearts games, some from the future of this game, and others still are indistinct and faded. With a slow pan (the camera here represents the view of a person in the scene, LADY ELLE) we reveal a large DAIS in the middle of the room, marked with upwards-pointing ARROWS and dressed on each side with a long red carpet running from our point of view character to a door on the opposite side. In the midst of the dais is a large, white CRYSTAL, the CRYSTAL OF LIGHT.

ELLE: This world has been asleep for far too long.

The CRYSTAL OF LIGHT is dim and glassy. Our camera drifts away from LADY ELLE'S point of view and begins to rotate about the CRYSTAL. As we rotate, ELLE speaks and gradually comes into view, though she is obstructed by our distance and the CRYSTAL.

ELLE: Who knows how much we've lost to the darkness. Who knows what we've lost of one another.

We cut to LADY ELLE herself. She is an aging black woman in her fifties, with short-cropped grey hair, dressed in heavy, shining armour with a long dark, white cape and a pale silver headband. To her side stands a tall, blue spear of blue crystal. She is seated in a THRONE made of coloured crystal and cloth for its seat and arm rests, but something has gone wrong: while the original outline of the throne is still clear, the crystals on it have grown, and appear to have gradually consumed her. She has been still for a very, very long time. She is covered with light crystal buildup, like hoarfrost, which threatens to seal her to her THRONE forever.

Spoiler Spoiler Show
Now that we can see LADY ELLE's mouth, it is clear that she is thinking, not speaking. Nevertheless, her mouth is trembling as if with cold, though she is otherwise withstanding the crystal hoarfrost with staunch resilience.

ELLE: Soon we will be lost. Soon it will all have been in vain. Soon—

LADY ELLE's eyes open somewhat in surprise.

ELLE: And yet…!

We cut back to the CRYSTAL, which suddenly begins to glow with a very dim light. This light begins to continue glowing until the glow spreads about the crystal and causes SEVEN FACETS to glow: four upper facets glow BLUE, RED, BROWN and YELLOW, while three bottom facets glow BLACK, PALE GREY and DARK PURPLE. Beams of similarly coloured light shoot off in all directions and contact the crystalline walls, beginning to spread coloured light throughout the room and beyond.

ELLE: And yet perhaps there is hope.

Fade to black.

Introduction

EXT. MYSTERIOUS TOWER

We are standing at the base of THE MYSTERIOUS TOWER, where YEN SID waits with LEA.

YEN SID: You are ready, then?

We cut to the door of the TOWER, where RIKU and KAIRI stand. KAIRI is wearing a new TRAINING OUTFIT, of practical pink clothes and a ponytail. RIKU is in his DDD waking world costume.

KAIRI: Yes.
RIKU: Where's Sora?
LEA: He said he had something urgent to do. Responsible as ever. [overdramatic sigh] We probably won't see him for days.
YEN SID: I'm afraid time is of the essence. Xehanort and his agents are on the move. We must be ready.
KAIRI: [disappointed] I understand.

YEN SID begins to walk toward the edge of the platform that defines the MYSTERIOUS TOWER as we have known it. As he reaches the edge of the platform, the platform magically extends out into the darkness. We cut ahead, and see the group walking as if through a dark forest, lit only by YEN SID's presence at the head of the train.

KAIRI: Couldn't he have at least come to see me off?
RIKU: You know Sora.
LEA: Does she?
RIKU: What does that mean?
LEA: Oh, nothing.
KAIRI: Hey!

RIKU grabs LEA by the hem of his cloak. LEA immediately frowns, but then plays this off with a laugh.

LEA: It's just… I can't help but feel like I've spent more time with Sora the past year than she has. In a manner of speaking.

KAIRI, who has been looking upset since SORA went missing, moves ahead in a huff. LEA turns to follow, but RIKU calls to him.

RIKU: Lea!
LEA: Yyyyyeeees?
RIKU: Just because you rescued Sora the other day doesn't mean I have to like you. Kairi and I still remember the time you spent as our enemy.

LEA looks Riku in the eye seriously for a minute, and then reaches out and ruffles his hair.

RIKU: Hey!
LEA: And you remember that just because you're a Keyblade Master doesn't mean I have to take you seriously.

LEA walks off, and Riku has to keep up to avoid falling off the "edge" of their magical radius.

LEA: You're not my Master, after all. I work for the old man. Got it memorized? And I only want one thing out of this. Remember: your best friends will be back in a few hours. Some of us have to put in a little more effort.
KAIRI: Riku!

RIKU shoots LEA a glare and jogs up ahead.

RIKU: What is it?
KAIRI: I think you should leave him alone.
RIKU: Hrmph. [Riku crosses his arms.]
KAIRI: He's been through a lot that we haven't known, you know, just like I'm about to.
RIKU: I still don't like the idea of you getting trained like this.
KAIRI: Well… [she playfully rolls her tongue] You're not my Master either, are you?
RIKU: Oh you heard that, huh? Well that doesn't mean I can't still beat you in a race, does it?
KAIRI: You're on!

Sure enough, KAIRI has no chance of beating RIKU, but they both bolt past a confused Yen Sid. We rejoin them, exhausted, in the next scene.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

EXT. GREAT GATE

The party arrives at a great, iron gate, marked on the side of its posts with upwards-facing ARROWS. A PADLOCK appears in the middle of the gate, likewise locked with an upwards-facing ARROW keyhole. The rest of the party arrives behind RIKU and KAIRI and take positions while RIKU and KAIRI catch their breaths.

RIKU: Not bad.
KAIRI: Liar.

RIKU grins, and YEN SID coughs, more than a little annoyed, waiting for their attention.

YEN SID: This is the place.
KAIRI: [still catching her breath] What is it?
YEN SID: This is a place between places. It is a weaving against space and time. It is a prison.
RIKU: A prison?
YEN SID: Yes. A prison where I sealed several great evils in my days as a Keyblade Master, where they could be protected by greater guardians.

He gestures to the padlock and it's arrow symbol, the camera zooms into it slowly.

YEN SID: The Ancient's Maze!
LEA: You want to be careful in there. Time doesn't work normally. If all goes well, you'll step in and out and we won't even have missed you. Your boyfriend won't even know you were gone. But if things don't go well, we won't know until it's too late.
YEN SID: You should not let down your guard.
LEA: Exactly. Something is wrong in there. No offence, old man.
YEN SID: I fear… that the protections of the Ancient's Maze are degrading in this climate of evil. By unsealing the Maze again so soon after Lea's training, we may fracture some of its barriers. Kairi! You must be on your guard!

KAIRI realizes she is still slouched and short of breath. She stands up as straight as possible and awaits instruction.

YEN SID: Time is of the essence. You must be ready for the dangers that are awaiting you in the coming days. Your challenge will be this: Seek out the Crystal of Light, and accept its instructions. It is my firmest servant, and will know what to do.
KAIRI: Yes, Master Yen Sid!
YEN SID: Be wary. There are darker things in the Ancient's Maze than you are familiar with. Enemies of mine from long past, imprisoned deep within the Maze. Keep them sealed, at all costs, or great evil might emerge to aid the dark influence of Xehanort.
RIKU: Are you certain this is the best way to train Kairi?
YEN SID: It is the most expedient, and most efficient.
LEA: What he means is, it's fast, and we don't have all the time in the world. What, you don't think she can handle it?
KAIRI: [grins] Yeah Riku, don't think I can handle it?
RIKU: That… that's not what I said! Look, it's just, shouldn't someone be looking after her in case she comes across one of your old enemies or something?
YEN SID: Kairi will not be alone. As I said, that space is protected by powerful guardians, and I have made sure that she will have companions to protect her.
KAIRI: Really? But… who?
YEN SID: Even I cannot say.
LEA: Then take my word on it, since I've been there. Kairi, trust me: that place isn't happy, but it's not lonely either. It's a good place, full of baaaaad people, but you've got what it takes. Got it memorized?

LEA and RIKU shoot one another looks, and KAIRI smiles some.

KAIRI: Don't worry, Riku. I'll be back before you know it. [laughs] Literally!
YEN SID: Kairi. It is time.

YEN SID stands back from the lock, and gestures towards it. KAIRI nods, and draws her starter Keyblade, the DESTINY'S BLOOM – an understated version of the DESTINY'S EMBRACE from KH2 and BBS. She point it at the lock and it unlocks. In the great distance, a BEACON of faint white light appears, and the gate opens.

YEN SID: Follow the light and you will find the crystal, and your training will begin.

RIKU reaches out and puts his hand on KAIRI'S shoulder

RIKU: You've got this.

He does not sound certain.

KAIRI: Don’t worry, Riku. You helped protect me once – but now it's my turn to protect myself!

Smiling, KAIRI steps forward and turns back, walking backward.

KAIRI: Maybe next time I'll even save you!

With this, KAIRI steps through the open door and into the world beyond. We see RIKU's face as he grins and the GATE shuts, leaving us in black.


INT. UNKNOWN LOCATION
As KAIRI enters the ANCIENT'S MAZE, we appear in a dark room, where we hear low, heavy breathing. Suddenly, the sound of a lock unlocking. Three lights appear, revealing three sets of hands: one gloved, one ungloved and clawed, and one with only one human hand (the left) marked with strange cybernetic components crawling over it. The right hand of the third figure is entirely concealed in a metal cylinder. All three are heavily shackled. The breathing continues and is rapidly excited. Slowly, the middle set of hands raises its shackles, and then yanks them apart, breaking a chain. The sound of breaking metal echoes over the transition to black.


The Ancient's Maze
A title card appears for the ANCIENT'S MAZE, the words set to resembling the GREAT GATE. The "I" in "ANCIENT'S" is yet again the upwards-pointing ARROW. Kairi arrives in what looks like an apocalyptically overgrown and decayed park: it is a ruined version of the real-world Kensington Gardens, associated as it is with Disney's Peter Pan.

The Ancient's Maze serves as the outer limits of the game's central hub (the game has no world screen). The Maze is very wide, perhaps three times the size of a usual world, but the player will only explore fractions of it at a time. From a gameplay perspective, the Maze is used to move between worlds for the first time, though teleporters are later available. The player will pass from room to room until eventually emerging in the given "world," all of which are interconnected in the extra-dimensional "maze." The geography of the maze is divided into 8 sectors, one per world (7 total) plus another for this introductory section. The regions are bridged by brief transition rooms, like an eclectic quilt of geographical regions.

Most of the areas in the maze appear to be places of severe urban decay, though the era of the "urban" side of things seems to vary (for example, this section is early the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century, the setting of Peter Pan, but others are older or newer, less or more magical, etc, usually but not always in relation to the world at the end of that section of the maze).

Movement upgrades are used to access new areas of the Maze (or to access shortcuts). The player will see several such shortcuts during their first trip through the Maze, though they are largely guided to their destination via the distant BEACON and through the various upwards-pointing ARROWS that decorate the MAZE, which always point to the centre of the maze, which just so happens to the player's current destination.

The player will only proceed a single room before they encounter trouble. KAIRI approaches a fountain depicting a little winged cherubim (a deliberate echo of the real-world Peter Pan statue at Kensington) when a number of CRACKS nearby begin to light up with dark power and begin to seep darkness, which transforms into PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS. The implication with all enemies in the Ancient's Maze is that they are wrenching themselves free from whatever magical binding seals the place, escaping through literal cracks in the environment.

KAIRI:
Heartless!

FIXED ENCOUNTER: Kairi encounters several Shadows in this battle, as well as two Bound, a form of Pureblood Heartless that emerges from the waist from the wall but is unable to go any further, turning them into a form of relatively ineffective, close-range turret enemies.

Kairi is introduced to her abilities here. For simplicity's sake, we will assume a combat system similar to KH1 and KH2, with emphasis, KH1-style, on positioning and Kairi's ability to manipulate enemy positioning with magic. Her starting skillset includes no spells, however, so this opening tutorial includes simple attacks and little else.

KAIRI progresses through several rooms of combat, chests and tutorials. Enemies consist entirely of Shadows and Bound. Finally, she arrives in a room very near the beacon, and the player can look over the distant vista to see a tall, CRYSTAL TOWER at the centre of the MAZE. The room itself is the Italian Gardens Fountains of Kensington Gardens, except the fonts are all dry. It is an obvious boss arena.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

???:
H-Help!

KAIRI rushes forward, and discovers a young dog-boy having fallen on his behind in the middle of one of the rooms of the ruined garden. It is a young MAX GOOF, from Disney's Goof Troop, though he is dressed in medieval clothing and carries an incredibly tiny buckler.

KAIRI: What's the matter?
MAX: Th-that!

As he points, a large PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS shaped vaguely like a centipede pokes its manibles out of a cleft in the wall. It rises up around a tree near what would have been the exit. KAIRI darts in front of MAX.

KAIRI: S-stay behind me!
MAX: N-no way! I'm a knight! [he brandishes his tiny tin shield] You should be staying behind me!

The Heartless spits acid at the two of them, which they barely avoid.

KAIRI: This is no time to argue!


MIDBOSS: Verminclatter
A midboss appears at the end of every section of the ANCIENT'S MAZE, and the tutorial is no exception. The VERMINCLATTER is about what you'd expect from a tutorial midboss. It's easy to hit, since it's so long, its projectiles can be deflected, and it barely fights back. On the downside, it can crawl and teleport between clefts in the room and can also hurt you with its many long legs, which makes attacking the body (instead of the head) a poor idea even if it's standing still when you started. There's barely anything else to note about the boss, being from the tutorial and all. When it dies, the segment you were attacking explodes into darkness, which spreads up both sides to the head and tail until the whole midboss is defeated.


Max
MAX helps the player out during the battle, but the player is only going to know how to use him on subsequent attempts. MAX is KAIRI'S only regular partner across the game, and he has a number of skills revolving around the game's positioning system. As a result, he can be positioned by highlighting a target and holding L2, which will bring up a submenu of positions you can use to position MAX so that you can flank enemies with KAIRI (X being "attack the enemy from the front," Triangle being "from behind," Square and Circle being from the enemy's respective sides). Later in the game, they will gain team-up attacks to a better exploit MAX'S position relative to the enemy, but for now there is simply the matter of attack and defence.

KAIRI goes to MAX's side after the battle.

KAIRI and MAX: Are you okay?

They look somewhat embarrassed at speaking at the same time, so pause, and then say:

KAIRI and MAX:
…Do I know you?

After another awkward pause, KAIRI outstretches her hand.

KAIRI: I'm Kairi.
MAX: Max.
KAIRI: Uh… why are you here?
MAX: That's a good question. I… don't actually know where I am.

The camera pans around the ruined park. We are looking from KAIRI'S point of view.

MAX: Actually. I think I'm lost.
KAIRI: [laughs] Just a little.
MAX: I was out training in the woods, when all of a sudden… here I was?
KAIRI: Hmm…
MAX: What is it?
KAIRI: Nothing. I think.

The camera continues panning until it reaches MAX.

MAX: Hey wait, if you know me, and I know you, but we don't really know each other… Maybe you know my dad?
KAIRI: Your dad?
MAX: Yeah, well. I mean, he's kind of a klutz, and… kind of embarrassing, actually… but he's a knight just like me. We work for the king!
KAIRI: Wow, wait, your dad is Goofy?
MAX: Yeah, that's him! You know him?
KAIRI: Uh-huh! But I didn't know his son was a knight, too!
MAX: Well, I'm… I'm not—yeah! [awkward] Yeah, a knight, that's me!
KAIRI: Oh…?
MAX: Oh, all right. I'm just a knight in training.
KAIRI: [laughs] Well that's okay! I'm in training, too!
MAX: With that weird sword?
KAIRI: Mm-hm! It's called a Keyblade.
MAX: Wow, that's a Keyblade?!
???: A Keyblade, you say?

KAIRI and MAX both whirl, weapons ready, and discover three figures. They are covered with heavy chains, straps and bindings – a Nomuran wet dream – making it hard to make out their exact forms. However, each is carrying a notable Final Fantasy weapon, although this weapon is likewise bound and chained, making its use impractical and its identification difficult. FIGURE 1 (on the left) is the gloved man from the previous scene, and is the one who just spoke. He carries a partisan. FIGURE 2 (on the right) is the cyborg man with the metallic cannon arm. FIGURE 3 (in the middle) is a woman, the one with the clawed hand, and has only a vaguely human facial structure from what can be seen under her bindings and straps. She carries a crystal sword. She is consistently positioned in the middle of the trio, and appears to be in charge.

FIGURE 1: I would love to get my hands on one of those!
FIGURE 3: There's no hurry.
FIGURE 2: Why not? This one stinks of Yen Sid.
MAX: [to Kairi] You know Yen Sid?

KAIRI ignores him and speaks to the figures instead.

KAIRI: You… you're Yen Sid's prisoners!
FIGURE 1: [laughs] Us? [he raises his shackles] Prisoners?
FIGURE 3: [chuckles] I don't know what you mean.
FIGURE 2: …

FIGURE 3 jumps to the ground and seems to hover gently to a stop as she is about to touch the earth.

FIGURE 3: Tell you what, little girl. If you set us free with your little Key, or point us in the direction of the exit, and we'll let you live. You don't even have to do both! But believe me: you had better do one or the other.
FIGURE 1: Or you might regret it.

KAIRI looks nervous, she knows her decision might impact her fate right here at the start of her journey, but she won't ultimately have the chance to answer, as MAX jumps in front of her.

MAX: Hey, no way, weirdos, we're not giving you anything!
FIGURE 1: [jumps down] Well, well, little dog, do you think—
FIGURE 3: Quiet. There might still be time if we follow the way she came. You! [she points to FIGURE 2] See them out.

FIGURE 2 drops the ground with a heavy metal clank. MAX shouts after the other two prisoners as they suddenly dissolve into chains of FLAME and WIND (FIGURE 1 and FIGURE 3, respectively), but KAIRI's attention is on FIGURE 2, who raises the heavy metal cylinder attached to his right hand with great effort and help from his other hand. The cylinder is weighted down by chains and is almost immobile, but he manages it.

KAIRI: You… don't have to do this.
MAX: Yeah buddy, listen to the lady!

FIGURE 2 grins in a close up, barely visible through his bindings. His voice is a harsh rasp.

FIGURE 2: Pupil of Yen Sid. Did your master ever tell you about your betters?

The wind is picking up, and streams of dark earth flit about the room.

FIGURE 2: Did he tell you there are those who can tap the magic of the very earth? I am the Lord of the Dark Crystal of Earth! And soil… is my power!

The cylinder – the MAGUN – sprouts propellers that begin to absorb the dry earth of the park. A number of HEARTLESS are drawn to this display, which appear as Bound around the circumference of the boss arena. MAX and KAIRI look about in fear, but KAIRI stands her ground.

Spoiler Spoiler Show
MAX: Uh… your name's Kairi, right? Shouldn't we…
KAIRI: I am not going to run away.

The MAGUN takes on its final form and FIGURE 2 proceeds with the traditional loading sequence, dutifully recreated.

FIGURE 2: The soil charge triad for you has been decided!
FIGURE 2: The Weight of the Dying World: Crumbling Black.
MAX: But maybe this is a good time to run away!
FIGURE 2: The Hopelessness of Infinity: Endless Purple.
KAIRI: [firm] I can't! You don't understand!
FIGURE 2: And finally, the Grip of An Open Wound: Rust Brown.
FIGURE 2: Scream! I Summon you! Mizrabel!

In a burst of light, MIZRABEL, the final boss of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, appears in the arena. FIGURE 2 chuckles and vanishes into the earth using dark magic, closing the entrance (and silently, the exit) door with dead vines. MIZRABEL cackles to draw attention back to her, and the battle begins.

BOSS: MIZRABEL
Given that she appears just after a midboss, MIZRABEL is not that difficult a boss. Her primary attacks are to fly around on her broomstick, launching magical spells at KAIRI and MAX, or to toss bombs to the Bound that surround the arena, which they will attempt to chuck at KAIRI and MAX. However, if you attack the Bound while it is carrying a bomb, the bomb will explode in their hands second later, giving you time to get away and eliminate the Bound as a threat. Meanwhile, Mizrabel's spells can be deflected back at her, and she can be easily attacked with jump attacks from most of the arena. Easy stuff.

Winning this fight earns KAIRI the Quake spell. This spell functions by summoning an earth pillar (ala Master Xehanort) launching MAX (not KAIRI!) into the air for a powerful attack. If MAX is unconscious, the spell will cartoonishly launch his poor unconscious body into the air, which may hit nearby enemies, but not nearly as effectively.

The only available exit leads across the Serpentine Bridge of Kensington Gardens to the Crystal Tower, your immediate destination.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

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I find this format quite interesting. It feels like the actual game with the way you described everything. Anyways, it was quite exciting to see Kairi take on the heartless without a sweat. Or needing someone to come rescue her with every mini boss and final boss there is. I really like the banter between Riku, Kairi, and Lea. Lea really has a lot of confidence in Kairi compared to Riku, which surprises me a lot. And I'm curious who these mysterious figures are. :D Overall, I really enjoyed reading this new style of writing. I hope to see more!
 

Blackdrazon

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Thanks KitKat! And thank you for taking the time to read all these fanfics!
 

Blackdrazon

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The Crystal Tower
While the Crystal Tower seems impossibly tall at first glance, the player won't be exploring much of it at the outset. The atrium at the bottom consists of a great upwards ARROW, as well as a wall depicting a seven-pointed CRYSTAL CONSTELLATION MAP (a series of star-like dots shaped like a crystal), dotted BLUE, RED, BROWN and YELLOW, BLACK, PALE GREY and DARK PURPLE.

As the party enters the room they gawk at its sheer height. MAX brings out a BOOK from his inventory.

KAIRI: What's that?
MAX: Oh, this? Uh... [coughs] It's an important piece of knightly equipment, that... it's... uh...

KAIRI is trying not to laugh.

MAX: It's my diary.
KAIRI: Well I don't see anything wrong with that!
MAX: Maybe not for you!

He tries to hide the diary, which makes Kairi laugh harder.

KAIRI: I'm sorry.
MAX: It's fine.
KAIRI: Well if you're going to be keeping a record of what we've been doing, how about I fill you in on my side so you're up to date?
MAX: Hey yeah! That's a great idea!

Fade to black. When we come back, the DIARY option is in the main menu. It works like most game Journals, though it carries in Max's inflections and use of slang.

The player is free to explore the CRYSTAL TOWER to the best of their ability. Assorted treasures (mostly small items or a single ACCESSORY) are waiting to be found, and reflections run unusually about the tower: namely, the game records the player's actions as they walk through the room and plays them out-of-sync on various facets of the wall. A processor intensive solution but all the more reason for these halls to be mostly empty for the time being.

Access through the TOWER is controlled by a series of TELEPORTERS that advance one floor at time. The second level of the TOWER features three exit doors that were once blocked by bars, but now all of which have been breached from within. Each room features a DIAS and is tinted BLACK, PALE GREY or DARK PURPLE, respectively. The remains of CHAINS can be found in each room, attached to the DIAS.

The third level of the TOWER features four rooms, tinted BLUE, RED, BROWN and YELLOW. While these rooms also have a DIAS, they appear to be populated in some way. The BLUE room is full of books, the RED is some sort of meditation room, the YELLOW is full of weaponry, and the GREEN is painted with calming colours and is marked with a white magical circle. Each room features someone's bed and even wardrobe.

The fourth level of the TOWER features the throne room from the opening teaser, which is empty except for the CRYSTAL OF LIGHT.

KAIRI:
It's so empty.
MAX: Where do you think everyone went?
???: Oh, they're all gone.

The party whirls to discover a MAN sitting on a floating CLOUD before the CRYSTAL OF LIGHT. This is, in fact, the SPIRIT OF THE CRYSTAL, as he will soon reveal.

KAIRI: Who are you?
CRYSTAL: Left in a bit of a hurry if you ask me. Just a few minutes before you arrived. Maybe you came across one of them, hm?
MAX: We met three serious jerks on the front porch, if that's what you mean!
CRYSTAL: Ah, the Bandits, no doubt. A good thing they didn't get very far.

He points behind him to the actual CRYSTAL OF LIGHT, where seven dots of the seven reoccurring colours can be seen moving abstractly about the CRYSTAL.

CRYSTAL: That's why this place is called a "Maze." They can't find their way out no matter how hard they try. I'm afraid it means you'll have a heck of a time tracking them down, mind.
KAIRI: Uh... excuse me.
CRYSTAL: Yes?
KAIRI: Who... are you?
CRYSTAL: You're from Yen Sid, aren't you?
KAIRI: Yes.
MAX: Well, she is.
CRYSTAL: How is the old coot?

MAX stifles a laugh.

CRYSTAL: Still fighting the old fight, pulling all the strings?
KAIRI: Well, uh...
CRYSTAL: Sent you to me for training did he? [chuckles] As if I didn't have enough to do. with someone springing all the locks! Well! Girlie, I know what I would have done, but it looks to me like your training has found you!

He turns to face the CRYSTAL and watches the lights for a time.

MAX: Wait, you don't mean...
CRYSTAL: That I want you to track down the Bandits? Land's sakes, boy, who else is going to do it? Yen Sid?
MAX: But isn't he a powerful sorcerer? Or King Mickey!
CRYSTAL: All impossibly far away, as far as the Maze is concerned. Put it this way, boy: in the time it would take you and your friend to step outside and say "Come help," you'd already be too late! Lucky you, wouldn't you say?
KAIRI: E...xcuse me, Mr. Crystal?
CRYSTAL: Yes?
KAIRI: Who are these Bandits?
CRYSTAL: Oh? Wondering if you can take them, are you? That's the spirit!
KAIRI: Well, I wouldn't say that...
CRYSTAL: Well you had better! They're not going to wait around for an "Excuse me Mr. Crystal," let me tell you that!

He raises his hand and the crystal walls begin to display the three BANDITS, and three more CRYSTALS: BLACK, PALE GREY or DARK PURPLE.

CRYSTAL: Your new worst friends are three of a very rare type. The old coot used to call them "Wanderers," because they could walk the Lanes Between worlds without any assistance. We used to find them in the strangest places. Of course, they were usually blowing the place up, because that's the kind of people you're working with here, but you know how it is.
KAIRI: Not really.
MAX: No.
CRYSTAL: A little green, aren't you? Is the old man in a rush or something? What happened to that nice mouse he was working with... how long ago was that?
KAIRI: Maybe we should explain--
MAX: A big jerk named Xehanort is trying to destroy the world!
KAIRI: We're in a bit of a rush.

The SPIRIT OF THE CRYSTAL is suddenly slow and introspective.

CRYSTAL: Xehanort, eh? I haven't heard that name for a very... very long time.

He just as quickly snaps back to his original personality.

CRYSTAL: Well put it this way! Is he going to destroy the world faster or slower with three henchmen who can walk between worlds?
MAX: Hey, why are you taking that out on us!
CRYSTAL: Because it's your new job! Listen: the only reason these three haven't phased out of the Maze and into the real world already is because old Yen Sid bound them to three magical crystals - Crystals like me - and hide them somewhere in the maze. You're going to have to find them, and before the Bandits do, or things are going to get out of hand, fast.
MAX: Well why don't you do it, you...
KAIRI: Max. [he stops at the sound of her voice] We accept.
CRYSTAL: Good! Then you had better get searching the Maze. I'll do what I can from here, it's not like I can do much else. Ha! But maybe...

He reaches out a hand towards the pair and there is a flash of light, gifting them with a TEAM-UP ATTACK: "Boosted Jump / Rising Attack." To use it, Kairi can jump off of MAX's shield (by jumping near him and hitting Triangle) to gain a higher jump / automatic air attack combo. Anyone paying attention may have noticed that the boosted jump will allow them to access new areas of the Ancient's Maze. The player is probably given a tutorial prompt at this point to remind them to go back to the MAZE and find new pathways, as well as a reminder in Max's Diary. The redundancy is important, given that this sort of Metroid-like exploration is so alien to Kingdom Hearts' traditional structure.

Close exploration of the MAZE will earn the player a few chests, as well as access to a new quadrant of the map: a post-apocalyptic urban setting. The player will have to practice Boosted Jump to get to the higher levels of the buildings, and will have to knock down at least one obstacle to remind them that Boosted Jump also doubles as Rising Attack (Quake will also work). After crossing into the post-apocalyptic area, the player will enter a set encounter.

ENCOUNTER: KAIRI and MAX are confronted by a number of PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS with wings, called Hush, which borrow the double wing pattern of the Angel Star from KH1. Ironically, Hush are rather noisy, like angry magpies, and sometimes group together in a swarm (the swarm, once it takes enough damage, simply collapses into 3-4 Hush). The Hush swarm about a single Darkball, which becomes 3 later in the encounter.

MAX:
Looks like they're getting bigger!
KAIRI: Are you up for this, Max?
MAX: 'C-course!
KAIRI: Good, because here they come!

As the party reaches the end of the path, they come to an open, tiled courtyard. Here, as KAIRI crosses the room, the camera cuts low to the ground and we seek darkness seep into the cracks between tiles. It coalesces together and rushes towards KAIRI. MAX notices this and shoves KAIRI quickly aside, a HEARTLESS midboss, a Lurker, shoves the tiles up in an attack. It appears to be a slime-like creature centred around a single eyeball which it uses as an appendage. It stares at KAIRI, then disperses.

KAIRI: Thanks, I owe you one.
MAX: How about we call it even?

MIDBOSS: LURKER
The easiest way to deal with the LURKER is to strike it with Max's help, either via Quake or Rising Attack. This will cause the monster to go flying into the air and land on its eyeball, dazing it. But for anyone who has yet to figure out this trick, the battle is a still a simple one: dodge roll away from its attacks, then strike while the Lurker is exposed. Occasionally, it will rise in a pillar and begin spitting dark projectiles in all directions - the player can easily Block these or, if they'd prefer, weave their way next to their opponent and strike. MAX will also block any projectiles that come at him (this is a natural ability) so the player can use him as shelter if they'd prefer.

Walking through the door at the end of the courtyard, the party passes through a long tunnel. They do not realize it at first, but a tunnel denotes that they have passed beyond the MAZE and into a new world. When they reach the end of the tunnel, a woman's voice calls out from behind them.

???:
Freeze! Hands up!

KAIRI and MAX raise their hands slowly.

???: Drop your weapons. The shield too!

KAIRI does as she is told. The DESTINY'S BLOOM vanishes in a spot of light. MAX, meanwhile, does not comply.

MAX: Lady, who ever heard of a dangerous shield?

KAIRI looks sideways at MAX and he shrugs.

???: Just put it down.
MAX: Fiiiine.

He drops his shield with a clatter.

???: That's better. Step forward, into the light.

The party does what they are told. As they exit the tunnel, they come to a ledge. KAIRI gasps as she looks over the ledge and sees a great drop below her, into a wide, clouded cityscape. As we pan across the scene, a title card appears for:


The Castle Above the Clouds

???:
How did you get up here, anyway? You look like a bunch of kids.
MAX: Hey, what's it to you? What's your deal, anyways?
???: I'm a cop, that's my "deal."

The woman who has been threatening you steps out of the tunnel. It is ELISA MAZA from Disney's Gargoyles. For the sake of KH's usual censorship but also to decrease the tension, she is not carrying a weapon.

ELISA: You don't look like you work for Xanatos... In fact, I'll bet you're not from this world at all.
KAIRI and MAX: What?

They both turn to face ELISA.

KAIRI: You know about other worlds?
ELISA: That's a "yes," then?

KAIRI and MAX swap looks, but then nod.

ELISA: Figures. One day this old man appears with a giant key, and the next the outside world just... disappears! We've been stuck here ever since. Some people say he locked us in here. I don't suppose you've got a way out?

KAIRI shakes her head.

KAIRI: I don't think you'd want to go where we came from.

ELISA sighs and relaxes her guard some more, which prompts MAX to ask:

MAX: Say, who was this Old Man?
ELISA: It was a while ago... Strange name. I think he said his name was... "Yen Sid?"
MAX: Yen Sid?
KAIRI: Master Yen Sid would never have sealed your world away!
ELISA: Hey, I'm not pointing any fingers!
KAIRI: But--
ELISA: Look, I'm the one asking questions here. How did you get up the building?
KAIRI: Building?
ELISA: You know, the skyscraper? The one we're on top of right now?

KAIRI and MAX once again exchange looks.

ELISA: ...You're serious, aren't you? Ohh, sister, this story I gotta hear.
KAIRI: Well...

We fade to black, and in the interim, cut to...

INT. OFFICE

DAVID XANATOS is in his office, speaking to the first BANDIT that escaped from the CRYSTAL TOWER (the one with the partisan).

XANATOS: So you're telling me that you can free us from this prison?
BANDIT: Every heart and soul. And all we'll need in exchange are the Crystals... and a favour.
XANATOS: Seems to me that I'm giving you two things in exchange for just one.
BANDIT: Too true! Name your price, then!
XANATOS: You see, I have something of a pest problem.
BANDIT: The Heartless?
XANATOS: Is that what you call those little shadows? No, not them. I'm thinking of something a little... bigger. Something that's been getting in the way of me... guiding the city in our time of crisis.
BANDIT: A tragedy! My heart weeps for you! But I think we can make a deal, so long as you hold up your end of the bargain first...

He raises his heavy shackles towards XANATOS, who examines them and their locks.

XANATOS: Oh, I think we can deal with that. That's the thing about dealing with magical pests: you learn how to break their magic, and then you learn how to break them.


EXT. CASTLE WALLS, EVENING

We return to the castle above the clouds, where KAIRI and MAX have been explaining themselves.

ELISA: Well, I'll tell you this, kiddos, you've got a lot on your plate. Here...

She offers them her hand.

ELISA: I'm Elisa. Elisa Maza. And I don't want some kind of magical criminals running loose on my streets any more than you do.
KAIRI: Thank you, Elisa.
MAX: You don't seem very surprised about all this!
ELISA: Let's just say I'm in the industry of "weird." I...

Just then, a group of EMBLEM HEARTLESS (Soldiers) appear nearby.

MAX: More Heartless!
KAIRI: Elisa, stay behind us!
ELISA: Make your way to the top of the tower!
MAX: Why there?
ELISA: Trust me! It's almost time!

The player must fight their way up the castle against a number of traditional lesser Heartless, including Shadows, Soldiers and Large Bodies. The Large Bodies are more alert than KH1's, and require more practiced use of MAX's flanking commands to get behind them (either by sending MAX behind them or by using him as a distraction). Flanking of course helps in other situations if you prefer, and the game will gradually reinforce it through moments like this.

The rooms of the castle repeat a few platforming lessons from the city ruins in the MAZE, but now with live combat. The player will soon arrive at the roof, where ELISA attempts to open the door.

ELISA:
Tch. Locked. He must have been trying to keep away from Xanatos during the day.
KAIRI: Here, let me.

KAIRI goes up to the lock with her Keyblade.

MAX: You really don't seem to like this Xanatos guy.
ELISA: Let's just say I've known him for more than an hour. Trust me, if you meet him yourself, you'd...

The door opens, revealing DAVID XANATOS in the flesh. He is smiling.

XANATOS: They'd what, Detective Maza?
ELISA: Xanatos.
XANATOS: [to the party] And you are?
MAX: None of your business!
XANATOS: Charmed, I'm sure. [he walks past the party] If you're looking for Goliath, he's safe. I was just checking on him.
ELISA: I'm sure he'd be relieved.
XANATOS: Oh, you know me, Detective Maza. I just want my guests to be... comfortable.
ELISA: What's your game, Xanatos?
XANATOS: No game. We've all been trapped in here for so long, ageless, deathless, cut off from the greater world. Unless the shadows catch us. It's the kind of thing that might... weather a man. I just wanted to make sure our mutual friend was weathering it... comfortably. If you'll excuse me, I have important work to do downstairs.

MAX eagerly steps aside to let XANATOS pass, but KAIRI intercepts him.

XANATOS: Hello, young lady.
KAIRI: [angry] Kairi.
XANATOS: Kairi.
KAIRI: Detective Maza doesn't trust you.
XANATOS: No. No, now that you bring it up, I don't think that she does.
KAIRI: Then I don't trust you either.
XANATOS: [smiles] That's disappointing.

MAX cuts in close to KAIRI and whispers:

MAX: [harsh] Kairi, what are ya doing?

KAIRI pauses, but then steps aside for XANATOS.

XANATOS: Thank you, young lady.

KAIRI simply shoots him a glare as he begins to descend the stairs.

XANATOS: And Detective Maza? ...Never break into my tower again.

The player is left at the top of the tower with a SAVE POINT and the statue-self of GOLIATH, leader of the Gargoyles. The game proceeds when they interact with the STATUE.

ELISA goes to examine GOLIATH, leaving the party a few steps behind.

MAX: Geeze, Kairi, what was that about?
KAIRI: I made a promise.
MAX: A promise?
KAIRI: I promised... that I wouldn't stand behind again while everyone was fighting for me.

MAX looks like he is about to reply when ELISA waves them over. She goes to the edge of the parapets to look at the setting sun.

ELISA: C'mere.
MAX: What's with this big statue, anyways?
ELISA: Oh, you'll see.

Just then, the sun sets, and ELISA and the others step back as GOLIATH wakes and frees himself from his stone shell with a primal roar and scattering of shrapnel.

GOLIATH: Elisa?
ELISA: Good morning, tough guy.
GOLIATH: What are you doing here? It's dangerous! Who are these?

MAX is clearly flabbergasted by what he has just seen, but recovers with stars in his eyes, clearly awed.

MAX: W-wow! This is Kairi, and I'm Max!
GOLIATH: [doubtful] A pleasure.
ELISA: Kairi here is a student under the sorcerer, Yen Sid.
GOLIATH: [lowers his eyes] The man who trapped us here?!

He takes an aggressive step towards KAIRI. KAIRI and MAX jump back into surprised combat stances, but ELISA touches GOLIATH's arm and he is restrained.

KAIRI: Master Yen Sid did not trap you here!
GOLIATH: Then I hope you came with answers!
MAX: Well...
KAIRI: We came hunting three bandits. We didn't know about your curse, but we'll do anything we can to help.
MAX: [whispering] If we can do anything at all...

GOLIATH turns off to brood, and ELISA follows.

ELISA: Xanatos was here.
GOLIATH: ...
ELISA: What does he want from you?
GOLIATH: I suspect he is trying to track down the other gargoyles. [to Kairi] We've been on the move since the curse fell over our world.
KAIRI: Why were you investigating Xanatos' facilities?
GOLIATH: [contempt] I was following the wizard's orders.
KAIRI: Master Yen Sid's?
GOLIATH: Yes. Before the curse fell, Xanatos was building a device, something the wizard feared. He said it would be calamity if it were to be activated.
KAIRI: Was it?
GOLIATH: No. The curse struck us before that could happen, and Xanatos has been unable to find the remaining materials with us cut off from the outside world. I thought, if I could destroy the device entirely, the wizard might set us free!
KAIRI: I'm telling you, Yen Sid did not trap you here! You don't know him! Maybe the device is what's trapping you all here?
GOLIATH: [harrumphs] Or maybe the wizard trapped us here to prevent the device from being activated.
ELISA: Either way. I think this device sounds like trouble. Now that you have Kairi and Max, why don't you finish the investigation?
GOLIATH: ...Agreed. Elisa, can you warn the other Gargoyles for me, and get them up to speed?
ELISA: Of course.
GOLIATH: As for the two of you, I will be keeping an eye on you.
MAX: Great.

KAIRI and GOLIATH lock eyes, and the scene fades to black, then cuts to tutorial windows.

GOLIATH is the game's first temporary party member. These function much like temporary party members in other Kingdom Hearts games, in that they act on their own and rarely interact with KAIRI the same way MAX does. Some party members share TEAM-UP ATTACKS with MAX (i.e., you can jump off of them similar to MAX's Boosted Jump/Rising Attack), but because GOLIATH can fly, he does not share these attacks. (It wouldn't really be fair to give you a boosted jump off a flying man's back!)

The party falls through a number of rooms they've already visited, before coming to a large barred door. We get a brief cutscene wherein GOLIATH hoists the bar and tosses it aside, allowing you to proceed. On the other side of the door, you arrive in a long hallway. The party crosses it part-way in cutscene, before the camera pans up to reveal that a number of HEARTLESS Gargoyles are watching them from the platforms above (of course). The Gargoyles attack.

ENCOUNTER: 1[SUP]st[/SUP] Wave: 6x Gargoyles, 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Wave: 4 Gargoyles and 6 Soldiers. 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] Wave: 2x Large Bodies, 6x Gargoyles.

After clearing the battle, KAIRI and MAX spot a Gargoyle about to attack GOLIATH from behind. They lock eyes, nod, and charge the Gargoyle, destroying it.

GOLIATH: You fight well. Thank you.
KAIRI: You're welcome.
GOLIATH: That blade you carry. What is it?
KAIRI: This? This is a Keyblade. It draws power from my heart. I'm not sure why I have the power to wield it, but Master Yen Sid is trying to train me before something awful can happen in the outside world. [sheepish] It's a long story.
GOLIATH: [snorts] Your master has been a calamity on our world. You seem to have a kind heart - I hope he doesn't bring you down the way he has us.
KAIRI: I wish I could convince you that Master Yen Sid had nothing to do with this.
GOLIATH: [grunt] Perhaps, after we are free, we will speak to him together.
MAX: It doesn't sound like it's going to be a very pleasant chat.

Fade to black.


EXT. PARAPETS, NIGHT

Detective MAZA is looking out over the city when a figure approaches. We only see their right arm: a pale arm in a white robe, marked with a blue UPWARDS ARROW tattoo.

???: Goliath is on his way, then?
ELISA: Yup, just like you wanted. Those kids of yours are with them.
???: Children? Here?
ELISA: What, they're not with you?

The hand grips the parapet tightly, and the ARROW tattoo glows as we fade to black.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

The Traveler
Joined
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Messages
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Why do I feel like Elisa is a double crosser? I can't think of who the mysterious figure with the blue arrow on their arm would be. *ponders* Otherwise, I think Kairi doesn't know as much as she thinks she does about Master Yen Sid. I wonder if Yen Sid ever planned to free the gargyoles or not. And if Max and Kairi will be able to catch the bandits in time. And furthermore, I wonder if nobody remembers Lea in the time he was there. I find that oddly suspicious. Anyways, I really liked this chapter and enjoyed reading about it. The plot certainly thickens! C:
 

Blackdrazon

Vulpes Chronicler
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I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm glad you're thinking about it too! I'll have to be careful with my clues. *shifty*
 

Blackdrazon

Vulpes Chronicler
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The Castle Above the Clouds, Part 2
Beyond the hallway from the previous gameplay segment, the party comes to an elevator inside the castle, which leads down. When they enter the room, the camera points out a figure tucked into a corner: a TONBERRY.

TONBERRY:
Come closssser my lady, I have goodssss. Thingssss that will keep you alive.
TONBERRY: What, were you expecting a Moogle?
TONBERRY: Oh no, my lady. Not in thessse dark placesss.

Sidequest: Joke Weapons
Because KH games have a way of letting you have too much munny at the end of the game, I've decided to introduce a munny-sink. Each of the Tonberries in the game sells "joke weapons" from the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series, each extraneously priced for their point in the game, and each marked "How interesting!" in the sell description. They are not, in fact, absolutely useless, but that's for later. This Tonberry sells the Ampoule, Larxene's Mystery Gear weapon from Days. If purchased (for a ridiculous price at this point in the game, like 2- or 3000 munny), its in-inventory description reads: "On closer examination, it's just a light bulb."

The elevator leads down into Xanatos' headquarters, the EYRIE BUILDING. As the party enters, the camera observes a Turret Gun manning the corner. A text-only scene follows.

MAX:
That looks like trouble!
KAIRI: Maybe we could use magic to defeat it?
MAX: But you've only got one spell!
KAIRI: [laughs] Yup!
MAX: …Why are you looking at me like that?

Indeed, while you can hit the turrets with Rising Attack, Quake (aka, launching Max into the air) will instantly destroy a Turret Gun. It's easier to get Max to the gun (since he absorbs all projectiles) and then to launch him, though it's certainly possible you could follow him to the gun, use his shield as cover, and use Rising Attack if you want to complicate things.

After a few easy encounters with the gun, one with just the gun and one with a troupe of Fat Bandits and Shadows, the player encounters a new enemy, a Mekoid. The Mekoid are EMBLEM HEARTLESS fitting the technological environment of the EYRIE BUILDING (specifically, they look like the default Robot character sprite from SaGa II/Final Fantasy Legend II, except with a Heartless inside). They have humanoid torsos but treads for legs, meaning they are slow to turn.

A short scripted sequence introduces the Mekoids and demonstrates that you can take advantage of their slow speed by flanking them with Max:

MAX:
Hey, bolt-head!

The Mekoid turns slowly to face MAX and fires lasers from its eyes at him.

MAX: Yow!

He jumps aside. Just then, KAIRI attacks the Mekoid from the opposite side and shoots MAX a thumbs-up.

At the end of the hallway, an additional cutscene:

The party is walking down the hall when they come to a long window showing a neighbouring hall. GOLIATH notices something through the window and forces the other two down and into cover.

BANDIT:
Oh joyous day! Salubrious!

It is the first BANDIT, being escorted through the halls by two STEEL CLAN robotic Gargoyles.

BANDIT: You have no idea how long I've been trapped in that wretched Tower. Hah! Then again, perhaps you do? After a while, the days all run together in this prison, don't they?

The STEEL CLAN do not respond to him in any way. KAIRI peers over the edge of the window.

KAIRI: Look!

MAX follows her lead, and the camera shows us that the BANDIT'S manacles have been damaged in some way, and are now leaking mixed DARKNESS and sparks of LIGHT. The DARKNESS is beginning to overcome the manacles. The LIGHT is losing.

BANDIT: I hope you gentleman are ready to do a little heavy lifting, because we're going hunting! Ahahaha!

He loudly claps one of the STEEL CLAN on the back before walking out of sight.

KAIRI: What does he mean, "hunting?"
GOLIATH: I must have been right, Xanatos is trying to locate the other Gargoyles.
MAX: Should we go back?
GOLIATH: No. They will never find my clan. We know how to survive.
MAX: You willing to bet on that?
GOLIATH: Do you doubt me, little man?

GOLIATH rises up, and KAIRI follows.

KAIRI: Stop! We can't start fighting among ourselves! Let's find the device and do what we can before it's too late!

MAX and GOLIATH turn their backs on one another. After this happens, the in-camera pans to reveal a nearby security camera, which is watching the party from the other side of the glass.

The next room is a multi-levelled room made up of a series of puzzle switches, guarded by Mekoids and Gargoyles. The player must activate the switches to access small elevators and moving walls, traditional stuff to gear up for more complicated puzzles down the road. A switch at the end of the room opens up a shortcut for passing through the room on later attempts. Hidden in this room is MAX's first buckler upgrade, the CRESCENT BUCKLER. A save point waits at the end of the room.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

Finally, the party arrives in a large chamber, in the back of which floats a DARK PURPLE CRYSTAL. It is surrounded by strange machinery. After a brief pan over the Crystal and the party, we cut to a high platform overlooking the room and find DAVID XANATOS standing there, flanked by shaded figures. He is on his cell phone.

XANATOS: It's me. Something just came up. Switch to Plan B. The Steel Clan will search for the Gargoyles – you stay behind.

XANATOS steps forward up to the rail. We can see that he is to the right of the party, overlooking the Crystal. He calls down and the party looks up at him.

XANATOS: Do like it? A new friend tells me that it's called the Dark Crystal of Fire. It's one of seven Crystals that were created ages ago with a very special purpose: to create a universe.
MAX: Why would someone want to create a universe?
XANATOS: Why not? Who wouldn't want their own private universe? But as it happens, this universe was created to be a sanctuary, safe from the corruption of Darkness.
KAIRI: That Crystal is that powerful?
XANATOS: My friend told me that there used to be eight Crystals, four Dark and four Light, to match the balance of the real world. But one of the Crystals was corrupted, turning the new dimension into a prison.
KAIRI: …This dimension.
GOLIATH: Then why do you have the Crystal, Xanatos?
XANATOS: Oh, my teams dug it up years ago, after we were trapped here. A bit of a lucky accident, actually. I've been trying to use it to help us escape, Goliath. You know that I have everyone's best interests at heart. That's why I built my device in the first place, wasn't it? It's too bad your master took issue with it, isn't it, Miss Kairi?

KAIRI's face falls.

MAX: And what is this "device" everyone keeps talking about?
XANATOS: I don't know if you've noticed, son, but this city is overrun by monsters. That was the case before we got here, too, isn't that right, Goliath?

We check GOLIATH for a reaction, but he is characteristically stone-faced.

XANATOS: I built my device as a counter against the Heartless. It was designed to expel all magical creatures from the island of Manhattan. Unfortunately, there was always a chance it might do the same to some of our more curious local residents, as well as other outsiders that rely on magic—

The camera cuts to the party.

XANATOS: —But I always felt that was worth the price of safety, wouldn't you, Goliath?
KAIRI: But the device doesn't work!
XANATOS: Yes, it's true that I didn't have a power source for the device when it was first constructed. But now everything has changed. My new friend just filled me in that I've had the the ultimate power source sitting in my lab all… this… time.

The party startles, and suddenly the machines in the room begin to activate. Two arm-like devices reach towards the Crystal and electricity begins to arc between the Crystal and them.

XANATOS: I think the damage would be lethal right here at the epicentre, wouldn't you?
KAIRI: [to the party] We have to go!
XANATOS: Why the rush? Gentlemen – entertain our guests while the device warms up.

XANATOS turns to leave and two shadows step out: two additional Steel Clan robots. They jump to the ground in a crash, and the party turns only to find the door slammed shut on their way out. The game's Disney Boss theme begins to play.

MAX: But… the device! The Crystal!
GOLIATH: Deal with them first!

BOSS: STEEL CLAN DUO
The STEEL CLAN DUO robots are flight-capable enemies that are essentially identical except in their choice of projectile: one shoots fiery laser bolts and the other a cone of lightning. They are especially vulnerable in the rear jetpack, as explained in the game's corner tooltip. This means coordination with Max will be rewarded, but the STEEL CLAN are flighty and the player may be tempted to strike them from the side or front in a hurry.

The STEEL CLAN DUO can perform a certain special attack when they are both alive, making it advantageous to eliminate them one at a time. From time to time, the bosses' eyes will light up red and they will fly to opposite ends of the room. Once they reach their position, they will fire a beam across the room (a fire laser with lightning dancing around it) and will begin to rotate about the circumference of the room. The player will probably easily dodge this attack, but MAX and GOLIATH will be in deep trouble!

When the first robot is destroyed, it crashes and explodes, but when the second is destroyed we fade to cutscene before it explodes. During that cutscene, GOLIATH grabs the robot from behind. Its jetpack malfunctions and goes into overdrive, and GOLIATH aims the robot at the door. Naturally, it flies straight at the door and blows a huge hole in the door for the party to use as an exit.

The lights on the DEVICE begin to turn on.

MAX: C'mon, let's get out of here!

KAIRI is about to do just that, when the DARK CRYSTAL OF FIRE begins to glow, catching her attention. She turns, curious.

MAX: Kairi!

A lance of power shoots out from the CRYSTAL to both MAX and KAIRI. KAIRI looks at her hands as she begins to glow DARK PURPLE, but the glow soon fades.

GOLIATH: Hurry! To the roof!

KAIRI turns and runs.

At this point, the player is given a window explaining that they gained a Fire spell from the Crystal. This spell functions similarly to the STEEL CLAN DUO's team-up attack, in that it shoots a fiery beam between KAIRI and MAX that holds for several seconds while you move around (MAX anchors in place, invincible for the duration of the spell, to allow the player to control its movement. KAIRI can still be harmed). Should MAX be unconscious when the spell is used, KAIRI will still shoot a beam in his direction, but it will immediately dissipate. The player is encouraged to use Potions and other spells to keep MAX on his feet!

The player is at this point moved to the top of the elevator in the castle via cutscene. They are allowed to save and shop at the TONBERRY'S:

TONBERRY:
My lady.
TONBERRY: You should buy many Potionsss before you flee. They might ssssave your life!
TONBERRY: Once you are gone, I mussst flee as well.
TONBERRY: …through the cracksss…

Once out of the room, KAIRI runs to the castle walls and looks at the long drop down.

GOLIATH:
I can fly you both safely to the ground, but only so far. I'm afraid we won't make it off the island that way.
MAX: Hey, some lead is better than none, right?
KAIRI: Will the other Gargoyles be safe?
GOLIATH: Don't worry, our hiding place is well out of Xanatos' reach.
KAIRI: Then please, take us as far as you can, Goliath.

GOLIATH takes both party members in his arms and flies them off.


EXT. BROOKLIN BRIDGE, NIGHT

We rejoin the party at the Manhattan side of the BROOKLIN BRIDGE, near a roadblock that has stopped any cars from entering the BRIDGE. A sphere of DARK PURPLE light is growing at the top of the EYRIE BUILDING. As they land, we see that the first BANDIT is watching them from high on one of the BRIDGE's towers, and he smirks down at the party. His manacles have been nearly overwhelmed by darkness. A remix of "Clash at the Big Bridge" is playing.

GOLIATH: We'll have to run from here.
MAX: Then we'd better hurry, there's not much time!

FIXED ENCOUNTER
The player is given a rather generous timer, something in the neighbourhood of ten minutes, to cross the bridge. As they do, they are attacked by HEARTLESS, which quietly set up flame barriers along the bridge to keep the player from running on without them (or from accidentally running backwards). Besides Shadows, Gargoyles, Large Bodies and Mekoids, the party is attacked by Sahagin, EMBLEM HEARTLESS remakes of the famous Final Fantasy monster, which spit water-based projectiles at the party and climb over the walls of the bridge (as if coming in from the water far below).

After an extended battle, the player reaches a safe zone with no timer and a save point. A cutscene plays, showing the party out of breath.

MAX:
Are we far enough away yet?
KAIRI: I think we've bought a little time?

The timer, frozen in the corner, flashes to draw attention to itself and then disappears.

GOLIATH:
We're almost at the other side. We must hurry!

Once the player leaves the safe zone, the BANDIT jumps down from the tower to land before them with a crash. The THREE BANDITS' suspense theme plays.

BANDIT: He said you were coming, and I see he is a man of his word!
KAIRI: You!
BANDIT: You'll be interested to know there's a heavy price on your head, Gargoyle!
KAIRI: There's no time for this! We're all about to be expelled from the city!
MAX: And by the sounds of it, we won't like how it happens!
BANDIT: Wondrous, isn't it? But you forget! I am a Wanderer who walks to all places – I am the Lord of the Dark Crystal of Fire! This is no time for us to run! This is a time to fight like men! [he points to Goliath] And women! [Kairi] And… [Max] …dogs! As for me…

The BANDIT holds up his manacles, which have been overcome by darkness, and snaps them in two. DARK PURPLE flames of darkness lick over him and expose his true appearance, including an entire second set of arms, previously bound close to his stomach. He is wearing classic samurai armour with a great plume at his helmet. It is GILGAMESH, recurring Final Fantasy character. "Clash on the Big Bridge" restarts.

GILGAMESH: Little girl! I will add that blade of yours to my collections!

BOSS BATTLE: GILGAMESH
Unlike previous bosses, Gilgamesh is no pushover. Without an easily available Cure spell, the player will have to either block Gilgamesh's attacks with the usual veteran KH precision, or use distance attacks (Quake, Fire) stun him and move in to attack. Flanking would also work exceptionally, if Max is conscious to use as a distraction. Gilgamesh does not take much damage from Fire, but it will stun him. Gilgamesh fights the first half of the battle with his partisan, using long or wide but incredibly slow attacks. By blocking these attacks, Gilgamesh will be stunned for a fair amount of time, giving you plenty of opportunity to hit him.

After he reaches half health, Gilgamesh will jump to the middle of the arena and implant the partisan in the bridge. This causes a wave of fire to sweep across the arena but consumes the partisan. He will then draw four swords and re-engage the party. The principle to this stage is similar but requires much quicker distance and closer quarters. Gilgamesh will also begin using Fire attacks at this stage, which you can easily dodge by using Guard or by using Max's ability to intercept projectiles.

Gilgamesh's final Desperation Attack occurs without fail when he reaches low HP. He will rush Kairi directly and begin swinging famous Final Fantasy weapons at her in rapid succession (as an Easter Egg, one of these weapons is the Excalipoor and does only 1HP of damage). The player must block these varying speed attacks with Guard, after which Gilgamesh will be left open, presumably for a finishing blow.

After the battle, we see GILGAMESH cornered by MAX and KAIRI at the edge of the bridge. The camera pans to show GOLIATH looking over at the EYRIE BUILDING, which is now pulsing with energy. There is the sound of an explosion of sorts, and a massive sphere of energy begins to expand out of the top of the building to cover the island of Manhattan.

GOLIATH: We're out of time! Run!

He flies into GILGAMESH and tackles him off the bridge, KAIRI and MAX just second behind him. The sphere reaches its full size just a few steps behind them, and stops.

KAIRI: We made it!

MAX examines GOLIATH and GILGAMESH. GILGAMESH has been knocked to the ground and is moaning with overwrought pain

MAX: [to Goliath] You saved him?
GOLIATH: Only so he could be turned over to the proper authorities.

The camera cuts to GILGAMESH as GOLIATH is speaking, and we see him secretly reach into his belt for a knife. GILGAMESH throws the knife at GOLIATH just as GOLIATH finishes saying "proper authorities."

Suddenly, the knife is intercepted in mid-air by a force field (an effect resembling a Final Fantasy Protect spell).

???: That would be me.

A dark-haired woman appears, flanked by two strange crystalline creatures 3/4s her height. She is dressed in the robe of a WHITE MAGE and carries the ELDER STAFF from FFIII, which is marked with UPWARDS ARROWS. Blue tattoos appear on her hands and face, also marked with UPWARDS ARROWS. The crystalline beings appear as knights wearing Roman centurion helmets. They move with incredibly stiff, puppet-like movements.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

The woman snaps her fingers and two more crystalline beings appear and restrain GILGAMESH.

???: Lord Gilgamesh.
GILGAMESH: Hands off me!

The party is alarmed by these actions and take fighting stances. GOLIATH rears to his full size.

GOLIATH: Announce yourself! This is our prisoner!

The woman stares into GOLIATH'S eyes, unshaken, but then lowers her staff.

???: My apologies.

The woman reaches up and removes her hood. She has dark eyes to match her dark hair, and very pale skin. Her hair also bears cat ear shaped protrusions, designed to resemble the famous CAT-EAR HOOD of a DEVOUT (this is done since she is seen without her hood more often than with).

???: My name is Moonbrooke, First of the Guardians, Lady of the Light Crystal of Water. This felon escaped from our prison in the Crystal Tower. I aim to return him. And you are…?

Spoiler Spoiler Show

KAIRI steps forward. In a close up, MOONBROOKE's eyes widen just slightly.

KAIRI: I'm Kairi. This is Max, and that's Goliath. Max and I are hunting for these same Bandits.
MOONBROOKE: Then we have a common purpose.

We see the camera from MOONBROOKE'S perspective, as she examines KAIRI. Her gaze stops suddenly on the DESTINY'S BLOOM.

MOONBROOKE: A Keyblade?
KAIRI: Yes. I'm here under orders of Master Yen Sid, of the outside world.
MOONBROOKE: Then we are of common purpose. And I sense something… something in your heart… that makes me feel I can trust you. Will you relinquish the prisoner?
KAIRI: Excuse me, but Master Yen Sid never spoke of you.
MOONBROOKE: Surely he spoke of guardians living the maze? We are the Guardians, an ancient order of Light dedicated to policing the Ancient's Maze. Will you give us the prisoner? As a gesture of good faith?
KAIRI: …Yes, we will.
MOONBROOKE: Excellent. Revenants!

The crystalline beings, REVENANTS, vanish in flashes of LIGHT, taking GILGAMESH with them. With the REVENANTS gone, MOONBROOKE turns to the barrier shield. She raises her staff against it and sends out a bolt of power, which detonates harmlessly on its surface.

MOONBROOKE: Just as Master Yen Sid feared all those years ago. The Dark Crystal of Fire is out of our reach, and within reach of those Wanderers.
GOLIATH: Oh, I don't think it will be so easy for them to take it away from Xanatos. Even if they had paid their debt.
MOONBROOKE: Xanatos has the Crystal?
GOLIATH: You know him?
MOONBROOKE: Only from a distance. This land is part of my patrol.
KAIRI: Goliath, what do you mean Xanatos would never surrender the Crystal?
GOLIATH: I mean he now has a source of infinite power in a city that owes him for banishing the Heartless.
MOONBROOKE: Unfortunate. If that's the case, then I'm afraid that while you were out here fighting the Bandit, Xanatos has become King of Manhattan!

MOONBROOKE looks pensive for a moment, but then nods.

MOONBROOKE: My mistress must be informed of this immediately. My Lady Kairi, will you accompany me back to the Crystal Tower? I know a way.
KAIRI: Just "Kairi" is fine, if you prefer.
MOONBROOKE: [beat] No, I think I do not.

She takes a few steps away, leaving the party to speak among itself.

GOLIATH: I must stay here, and reunite with my clan.
KAIRI: Of course. Thank you, Goliath. You've been a wonderful friend.
MAX: Tell me about it! Can you show me the smashing-out-of-stone thing again someday? Please?
GOLIATH: [laughs] I think that can be arranged. But until that day…

He sets his hands on each of their shoulders.

GOLIATH: Keep safe. I fear we will see one another before too long.
MAX: Yeah, to settle things with that creep Xanatos.
KAIRI: And to set you all free.
GOLIATH: I would like that… my friends.

Fade to black.

The player character is rewarded with the STONEWING keychain, which transforms KAIRI's Keyblade into a shorter, but more dangerous blade.

Sure enough, the player is not able to return to the CASTLE ABOVE THE CLOUDS after they leave.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

The Traveler
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You do a splendid job describing the fights between Kairi, Goliath, and Max against the bandits. It's too bad Xanatos became King of Manhattan. I'm starting to think there's someone lying to them because, it's strange how Xanatos is trying to sound like he thinks good of the people and gargoyles with his device. I'm curious what device it is. And why Kairi turned a dark purple. Is her being a Princess of Heart being infected in that maze? And why is Moonbrooke speaking so formal towards Kairi. I hope Kairi and Max are careful because, not everyone is who they seem. Great chapter as always, Blackdrazon. C:
 

Blackdrazon

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Hey, sorry for the late reply! I'm glad you like the fight descriptions, I was worried that would be a weakness of the format. I'm glad you're interested and enjoying the story!
 

Blackdrazon

Vulpes Chronicler
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Since Moonbrooke's route from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Ancient's Maze doesn't really exist in-game (sshhh!), we cut immediately to the Crystal Tower, where the party and Moonbrooke arrive together.

As the party crosses the hall the usual afterimages appear on the crystalline walls, but MAX notices something, tugs on KAIRI's arm, and points to the walls. Besides the afterimages of KAIRI, MAX and MOONBROOKE, there are REFLECTIONS of MOONBROOKE at many different ages, including teenaged and as a small child tripping over a robe twice her size. MOONBROOKE, perhaps too acclimatized to the sights, does not react at all.

KAIRI: Miss Moonbrooke?
MOONBROOKE: Yes, My Lady?
KAIRI: These images on the walls… what are they?
MOONBROOKE: Ah. They are hard to miss, aren't they?

She approaches the wall nearest KAIRI and MAX, which has many facets for the camera to admire in a slow pan as MOONBROOKE delivers her next line.

MOONBROOKE: You may have noticed that the Light… struggles… inside the Ancient's Maze. Thankfully, this Tower was constructed to focus and amplify the Light, like a prism, or a series of lenses. That way it can reach every corner of this world.
KAIRI: And what are these faces?

On the glassy surface of the largest facet, we see faint, true reflections of KAIRI and MOONBROOKE as they watch the ghostly reflections dance around them within the crystal.

MOONBROOKE: The Tower is a very complex piece of magic. Some Light becomes trapped in the crystal for a very long time – decades! – before finally being released into the outside world. That light still carries reflections out of the past – memories kept alive in the glass.

A teenaged MOONBROOKE appears part-way through this speech and seems to smile towards KAIRI. After a while, the memory-MOONBROOKE runs off into the distance, laughing, as though running with friends. The real MOONBROOKE's true reflection is left behind in her place. The real MOONBROOKE is initially smiling, but this slowly fades as her expression becomes hard.

A voice calls in from off-screen.

???: There you are!

The camera cuts to a wide shot of the hall, centred on the CONSTELLATION MAP. The party is on the left, and REFLECTIONS of the new character greet them from the right before the character in question actually arrives on scene. The new character is a young woman dressed as MONK (specifically, inspired by this promo art for FFXIV, for reasons I'll explain in a minute). She has red tattooed ARROWS matching MOONBROOKE's, and light purple hair in a ponytail. MIDIA and MOONBROOKE seem to be about the same age, perhaps mid-to-late twenties. Her GAUNTLETS are not equipped.

???: The whole place is upside-down, three breakouts, one break-in… and I find you dragging in strays!

The camera cuts to show the party. MOONBROOKE addresses KAIRI first.

MOONBROOKE: My Lady Kairi, this is Lady Midia, Second of the Guardians, Lady of the Light Crystal of Fire.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


MIDIA: Moonbrooke, I hope you haven't been wasting your time on these—

MOONBROOKE glares at MIDIA and gestures towards KAIRI (standing behind her and to one side) with her staff. MIDIA stops dead, her mouth hanging somewhat open.

MOONBROOKE: Lady Midia, this is Kairi, Keyblade Apprentice serving under Yen Sid, and Max, Knight in training.

MIDIA suddenly falls to her knee in a bow towards KAIRI.

MIDIA: Your Highness.

KAIRI reaches an apprehensive hand against this, while MAX gapes.

MAX: "Your Highness?"
KAIRI: I… uh… may be a—
MOONBROOKE: A princess! A Princess of Heart! One whose heart is purest Light!

Part way through the line, we cut to wide shot and see that all the facets of TOWER have changed to reflect KAIRI, as though the TOWER itself is watching her.

We cut to a closeup of MIDIA.

MIDIA: [out of breath] We searched so long. So hard. There was so much danger, b-but we couldn't find you…
MOONBROOKE: [self-satisfied] And in the end, she came to us!
KAIRI: Please… um… please, stand up.

She holds out a hand to MIDIA, who accepts and stands.

MIDIA: A Keyblade Wielder!

She reaches out and grips KAIRI's arm.

MIDIA: Under Yen Sid?
KAIRI: Y-yes!

KAIRI holds out her hand (MIDIA taking a step back) and summons her KEYBLADE. MIDIA's astonished look turns to a wide smile, and she bows. MIDIA turns to MOONBROOKE.

MIDIA: We have to tell the mistress!
MOONBROOKE: Has she returned?
MIDIA: No, we're the only ones!

The two women glance over at the party and then step aside towards the CONSTELLATION MAP and begin talking in hushed tones. KAIRI is relieved to have her personal space back. There is a pause before MAX speaks:

MAX: Wow, huh?
KAIRI: Yeah.
MAX: …Do you want to tell them the princesses were already kidnapped?

KAIRI swats MAX on the shoulder.

KAIRI: No!

MAX laughs.

While that conversation is happening, MOONBROOKE and MIDIA can be vaguely made out in the background. Because it is not easily heard, the conversation will be put behind a spoiler box.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


MIDIA has raised her voice and pointed towards the party, so MAX and KAIRI look up from their conversation. While the two women were talking, MOONBROOKE has adjusted the CONSTELLATION MAP. There are now circles around each of the STARS: a green circle around the BLUE and RED stars, and a red circle around the DARK-PURPLE star, and yellow circles around the remainder. One star, the BLACK, remains without a circle.

MOONBROOKE: My Lady Kairi.

KAIRI and MAX approach. MOONBROOKE is at work at what substitutes for a keyboard for this magical device.

MOONBROOKE: This is a map of the Ancient's Maze.
MIDIA: About as well as it can be mapped.
MOONBROOKE: Which is to say…
MIDIA: …"not at all."

MIDIA smirks at this bit of shared wordplay, but MOONBROOKE is unshakable, even after participating in the joke.

MIDIA: As you can see, we've been trying to secure the worlds in the Maze, but there are more worlds than there are Guardians.
MOONBROOKE: …these days…
KAIRI: Excuse me, but what exactly do you secure the worlds from?
MIDIA: The Heartless, mostly. Sometimes, from internal threats. I hear you found that out for yourselves?
KAIRI: …Xanatos…
MOONBROOKE: There'll be time for that later.
MIDIA: For the time being, Moonbrooke and I have secured our patrols—

She points to the BLUE and RED stars, encircled by green.

MIDIA: —but we haven't heard from our fellow Guardians.
MAX: So the Bandits could be on any one of these worlds?
MOONBROOKE: I'm afraid so.
MIDIA: You'll notice there's a gap. I was just about to explore this world, here.

She points to the BLACK star, which lacks a circle.

MIDIA: This world houses the Dark Crystal of Earth. I'm going to go there now. …I hoped you might go with me.
MOONBROOKE: Midia!
MIDIA: Why not?
KAIRI: We had best search every world possible.
MAX: Yeah, and those Bandit guys are sure to go after their own Crystals, right? I bet we'll find that guy with the big gun!

MIDIA laughs and ruffles MAX's hair.

MIDIA: [to Moonbrooke] I like this one!
MOONBROOKE: Well, I suppose your needs do overlap…
MIDIA: Then it's settled! Here, Max! Let me teach you a technique to get us to our destination!

MAX's new technique is "Rush," which is triggered by moving up behind him and hitting TRIANGLE, which will cause him to dart forward and tackle anything in his path – to limited effect against large targets like LARGE BODIES, but stunning lesser HEARTLESS. It can also knock over rock piles and thin walls, which is exactly what the player needs it for.

MIDIA also joins the party at this point. The game explains that you can use her with team-up attacks just like MAX. MIDIA's fighting style is fast and hard but with limited defence, the prototypical glass cannon, plus Fire-enhanced attacks. Many of her attacks cause stun by default, making the use of Rush redundant.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


At this point, it is possible to explore the CRYSTAL TOWER. MOONBROOKE will simply repeat instructions to find the next world and track down the BANDITS, as a reminder to the player. The CRYSTAL OF LIGHT is still available for conversation:

CRYSTAL: *yawwwwwn*
CRYSTAL: Oh, it's you, Midia!
CRYSTAL: How's the Guardian game? Still going in your favour?

If the player explores, they will notice an additional change to the first floor: one of the three cells has been repaired. Should they visit it, they will find GILGAMESH chained up inside.

GILGAMESH: Come to gloat, have you?
GILGAMESH: Go ahead, I can take it!
GILGAMESH: But I warn you, you haven't seen the last of me!
GILGAMESH: …Just you wait…

When you attempt to leave the TOWER, MOONBROOKE turns to you in this text exchange.

MOONBROOKE:
By the way, Midia? You mentioned the three break-outs, but what did you mean when you were talking about a "break-in?"
KAIRI: You weren't talking about us, were you?
MIDIA: Not unless you've been rifling through our things. I'm certain that after we left the tower to secure the worlds, someone searched my room. They did their best to hide their tracks, but…
MOONBROOKE: Hmm…

The walk to the next world is unusual. While the ANCIENT'S MAZE is generally abstract, it is possible to think of it like a wheel, with the KENSINGTON GARDENS section at the bottom and the CASTLE ABOVE THE CLOUDS section clockwise from there. The next section is counter-clockwise from KENSINGTON, and gradually transitions from its open-air spaces to closed spaces, first by closing the trees above you and then gradually building up walls and then ceilings until you are indoors. The walls are lined with piping and drip with water, which gradually accumulates in a shallow pool at your feet.

Finally, you arrive in a long tunnel room that seems to have taken on its completed form: an old sewer, complete with access paths and waist-high water in the middle (still low enough to stand in, as far as the game need be concerned). While the player is walking through this tunnel, a cutscene begins.

MAX and KAIRI look about warily as the sewer system makes splashing and gurgling noises. MIDIA, who is familiar with the area, leads the party, but even she doesn't seem all that thrilled to be here. MAX sniffs the air and looks less than impressed with the results. As the party passes the camera's view, a thin, black shape slips down from the ceiling to the ground.

The sound of slipping and splashing, squelching and squishing continues to build, the party gradually becoming aware of the disturbance. They turn and discover a huge mass of small, worm-like PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS with single yellow eyes massing behind them. These are Worms, and MAX's journal will later describe these as small animals consumed by the darkness.

ENCOUNTER: Worm swarms
Worm swarms don't behave like regular enemies. They don't move, per se: rather, they grow from a source in the environment (usually a pipe or other object) and gradually spread across the floor or surface of the water. If you attack any point in the swarm, Worms will go flying and the swarm will shrink in size, however if you stand in them they will gradually harm you. The object is to destroy the source object, though it will always be repaired when you return to the room (the MAZE is repairing itself…).

If you allow the swarm to grow for too long, a Knot will form – a cluster of Worms that rise from the mass. This is a minor enemy that spits its fellow Worms at you as projectiles. Knots can be easily defeated with just a few hits, and exist primarily to discourage the player from hopping across the Worm swarm directly to the source.

In later encounters, Worm swarms often appear partially formed and ready to defend themselves.

After the encounter, we see a cutscene of MIDIA uppercutting a pipe closed. However, when she does so, another nearby pipe above her begins to rattle. We cut to MAX and KAIRI, who are fighting off another swarm. MAX notices the pipe and calls out:

MAX: Look out!

The pipe ruptures, spraying MIDIA with dirty water and Worms. She desummons her GAUNTLETS and attempts to pry the monsters off, but they are overwhelming her.

KAIRI: We've gotta help her!
MAX: But how?

They run to MIDIA's side. As they travel, we see a brief flash of light at the side of the camera. KAIRI and MAX pick at MIDIA in desperation as she writhes and fights the Worms (the Worms are too small to hit off individually with the Keyblade!). Suddenly there is the sound of a magical spell from behind the camera, and KAIRI turns towards it. She sees something and pulls MAX to the side as a torrent of clean water sprays MIDIA and disperses the Worm swarm.

The camera cuts in the opposite direction to reveal two crystalline beings, more REVENANTS, both flyers. They wear matching headgear and necklaces, and have similar long, translucent threads of "hair." One wears something that resembles a dress, the other a bikini, but both "taper off" below the waist and float like ghosts.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


MIDIA, dripping, looks at the two of them, swallows, and then nods in thanks. Both REVENANTS vanish in a burst of LIGHT.

MAX: Friends of yours?
MIDIA: Once upon a time.

The party proceeds to the next room, which features a SAVE POINT. MIDIA tells her story as the party sits in one corner of the room for a breather.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

MIDIA has summoned one of the two REVENANTS from earlier for KAIRI And MAX to examine. The GUARDIAN'S THEME plays, a sad remix of the CRYSTAL TOWER theme.

MIDIA: The Revenants are beings made from the crystals of the Crystal Tower. They're filled with the living Light of the Tower. You must have seen them… the reflections in the tower?

KAIRI touches the REVENANT, which spins in response as though ticklish.

KAIRI: Yes, Moonbrooke talked about them.

MIDIA looks at her reflection in the water of a small puddle nearby.

MIDIA: The longer you stay in the Tower, the more the reflections begin to gather. To… echo inside the walls. They start to feel just like real people. After a while, they start to act like real people. If they know you, they might smile at you, or be there when you're sad.

MIDIA drops a small pebble into the puddle, cutting off her own reflection in the ripples.

MIDIA: But then one day, the person who made those reflections won't be there any longer.

She looks away from the puddle with a sigh and she (and the camera) examine the REVENANT instead.

MIDIA: And I don't think the Tower… understands. It goes looking for them – the people who aren't there anymore. It tries to be there when you're sad. Their memories come alive… as the Revenants.
KAIRI: So… the Revenants are in the shape of your friends?
MAX: They think they are your friends?
MIDIA: They were our friends. They were our mentors, actually. They were the Guardians before we were the Guardians. They taught us everything we know. They're still trying to teach us, I suppose. Trying to finish the mission.

The REVANANT desummons itself in a flash of light.

KAIRI: The mission?
MIDIA: To protect the Light.

MAX is looking away, as if unable to meet anyone's eyes.

MAX: …What's it like? Having someone come back after they're gone?
MIDIA: First sad. Then… happy, in a strange way. It's not like they never left, but it's not entirely like they're gone, either. The worst part is that… over the years… you start to forget what they used to be like. Bit by bit, you only remember the Revenants.

The game presents a flashback of MOONBROOKE ordering the REVENANTS about with a snap of her fingers.

MIDIA: The Tower forgets too. There used to be just one Revenant per person, and they were strong and whole. Now there are so many copies, and the echoes are starting to fade away. One day, they'll be gone forever.
KAIRI: That's awful!
MAX: I don't know. Maybe it'll be nice to say goodbye?

MAX is still staring off into the distance. MIDIA puts a hand on his shoulder.

MIDIA: Come on, let's get going.

They take a few steps before they are interrupted by KAIRI.

KAIRI: …Will you…? One day?
MIDIA: Leave Revanants of my own? Yes. Yeah, I will. The day I die, the Tower will start to miss me. The Revenants used to be our mentors. One day, they'll have to be replaced with old friends. Someday, they'll be all of us.

MIDIA laughs.

MIDIA: After all, the mission's never done, is it?

The party leaves with mixed expressions on their faces.

The very next room is a wide square room with a pool in the middle and gaps in the footpath around the room caused by inlets and dripping pipes. We see the party enter from the perspective of another character at the opposite end of the room.

BANDIT: Lady Midia.

It is the SECOND BANDIT, the one with the MAGUN. The party sees him and arms themselves.

MIDIA: You.

From his perspective, we see him hold up his manacles.

BANDIT: You have much to answer for.
MIDIA: Me? You might not remember this, but you're not wearing those things for fun!

We cut to the party's perspective.

MAX: Hey buddy! We've already caught your jerk friend, so how about you turn yourself in before things get messy?
BANDIT: Don't be silly. I'm not as empty-headed as Gilgamesh. You'd have to catch me before you can… arrest me.
KAIRI: Yeah, you are good at running away!

The BANDIT smiles in close-up.

BANDIT: I have waited for the opportune moment for countless years. I can wait a few minutes longer.

He takes a deep breath. Wind seems to blow through the tunnel.

BANDIT: Do you sense it? The Dark Crystal of Earth! My power!

He holds out the MAGUN, which awakens without fanfare.

KAIRI: We'll never stop him in time!
MIDIA: Then you'd better get ready for a fight!

Worms begin to pour into the room on all sides as the dark power gathers, flooding the gaps in the platforms.

BANDIT: The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
BANDIT: The cold touch of a final failure: Ice Blue.
BANDIT: The clutching grasp of ignorance: Smoke Gray.
BANDIT: And finally, the burn of insensitive passion: Sharp Red.
BANDIT: Crawl! I summon you! Ultros!

The octopus from Final Fantasy VI is summoned into the middle of the sewer, and the BANDIT casually walks out the room in the opposite direction.

Boss: Ultros

ULTROS begins the battle by diving underwater (despite the apparent depth of the pool). He will lash out at the party with his tentacles, but your primary concern is the Worms and their pipes, as they are rapidly flooding the entire pool. After the pipes have been sealed, ULTROS surfaces and begins the proper battle.

ULTROS begins the fight with two tentacles, monitored in one corner of the screen with circular icons. Ultros' tentacles will lash out at the party in ones or twos, but the tentacles will become stunned if struck or Guarded against, leaving them open for damage. After a tentacle is defeated, ULTROS will retract the tentacle (and start sucking on the wound), leaving his main body open for attack. After a set amount of damage, ULTROS will raise four tentacles, and will begin trying to guard his tentacles with a projectile ink attack. This attack will cause area damage when it hits a target or a wall, but it's easy enough to attack tentacles on the other side of his body and avoid the attack entirely.

After things get incredibly bad, ULTROS will yank down a heavy pipe and guzzle down a stream of Worms that fall into his mouth. This will restore about half a health bar, after which he will deploy all seven (yes, seven) of his tentacles. Despite this surprise, the fight is the same now as it ever was.

Additionally, if the player is ingenious enough to try to jump on ULTROS' head with a Boosted Jump, they should be rewarded by stunning the entire octopus for some free attacks, but ULTROS will defend against this on subsequent attempts.

After the battle, KAIRI and MAX are catching their breath while MIDIA, being a Monk in impeccable physical shape, is already at the exit, raring to go.

MIDIA: Let's hurry, c'mon!

KAIRI tries to stand up but stops when MAX outright falls on his behind. MIDIA sets her lips and then quickly bows.

MIDIA: Your Highness.

KAIRI nods, and MIDIA runs a few steps down the hall before stopping.

MIDIA: Max! …Keep her safe.

MAX nods and we hear MIDIA's footsteps fade into the distance. KAIRI offers a hand to MAX as she smiles.

MAX: You ever try running with armour?

KAIRI laughs, and soon both friends are laughing alone in the sewers as the camera zooms out and we fade to black. In a prompt after the battle, we are informed that MIDIA has left the party.

 
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KingdomKey

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I'm glad neither Midia nor Moonbrooke seem to be enemies of Kairi at all. Or at least, they don't appear to be at the moment. It occurs to me that I never once thought how the bandits became what they were. And it seems like Midia is familiar with one of them. And Max... why do I feel like he won't be leaving, when Kairi returns back to Yen Sid's tower later on? I wonder if he's fated to be an Revenant too? Or that he's lost someone who happens to be one now? So much mystery yet a compelling tale this has continued to be. <3 Can't wait for more. C:
 

Blackdrazon

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The player passes through a long hallway cutting off the sewers from the upcoming world, and the player arrives in another section of sewer.

The camera is positioned to see KAIRI and MAX arrive from the hall, and KAIRI sees something to her right. The camera cuts to the side, and we see a TONBERRY, which gives her a bow.

Returning to the view of KAIRI and MAX, MAX points forward.

MAX: Hey, Kairi? I think something happened to the sewer.
KAIRI: Huh?

We cut to his point of view, where we see the dark video game haze ahead of them. A red light begins to blink in the darkness, then several smaller lights. Finally, the haze is pushed back enough to reveal that the entire far wall is made of steel, with heavy blast doors marked with a large insignia that resembles an electrical outlet.

The player may now proceed to shop at the TONBERRY's, where they will be greeted with the greeting all TONBERRIES will use from now on, unless supplied with alternate dialogue in this script:

TONBERRY:
[bows] My Lady of the Light.

The TONBERRY is selling a new gag weapon, the CHICKEN KNIFE, and your inventory describes it with the words "You wouldn't trust this to cut butter!"

After shopping, the player receives an in-engine cutscene with text balloons (this will play automatically if they approach the door without speaking to the TONBERRY). The TONBERRY bows its head to KAIRI, and then points to one side.

TONBERRY: Take thessse, One-of-Ssssseven.

We pan to one side and discover a sheet of rotten old wood, against which rests a small rod of broken wood.

MAX: That old junk?
TONBERRY: Pleasssse. For sssafety'sss sssake.

Sure enough, the player is presented with the OLD ROD and the OLD BOARD.

Examining the door produces the following cutscene.

MAX:
Hey, where did Midia go?

KAIRI shakes her head, though the camera points conspiciously to an open pipe leading past the metal wall that both MAX and KAIRI overlook.

KAIRI: I don't know. Maybe she had a way in?
MAX: Do we?
KAIRI: I think I can handle it.

KAIRI steps forward and raises her Keyblade towards the door. It begins to glow, and she shoots a beam of light towards the big red light over the door. The door grinds open slowly, and the party enters, only for the door to rapidly slam shut behind them.

Following a loading screen, we cut to a dark, nighttime cityscape, where the title card appears for this world, framed against the moon: THE CITY OF DANGERS. When the title card has properly faded, the camera begins to pan down, and we pass below the streets, past a manhole and nominally into the sewers. Instead of sewers, however, when we go below ground we discover a well-lit subterranean structure filled with electrical devices. KAIRI and MAX are on the other side of the blast doors, and gape at their surroundings.

A loudspeaker comes on, and a voice (Dan Castellaneta) comes on.

???: Halt! Who's there?

KAIRI and MAX stop in their tracks and look up to see a LOUDSPEAKER.

???: Unless... aww, am I talking to myself again? Aw, geeze, every time! You think you finally understand the burglar alarm and it still goes off in your face every time. And then I have to stand there while I shout at myself...

MAX and KAIRI exchange looks.

???: Well, I guess you might not be me. If you are me, you know what to do, but if you're not... prepare to face the wrath of my electromagnetism traps!

A camera reveals several metal PANELS on the ceiling of a nearby hallway. The PANELS activate and spark with electricity. Screens on the walls between the PANELS display an animated picture of multiple green arrows of varying sizes rising and pointing upwards.

???: Anyone who steps on these babies will have to deal with the primal forces of electricity! Or at least that's the plan... Long story short, don't get any ideas or my new friends will show up and say hello!

EMBLEM HEARTLESS arrive on scene, a mix of new Rabites and Duck Soldiers (both originally from Final Fantasy Adventure / Sword of Mana). An electric force field appears off-screen to block you off from the hallway of strange PANELS, and will not disappear until the HEARTLESS are cleared. Rabites bounce about and bite you, somewhat ineffectively. Duck Soldiers are simple enemies that can hide under their oversized helmets, but are flipped over (whether in hiding or not) by QUAKE and RISING ATTACK, leaving them stuck upside-down and struggling to stand for a few seconds. While a new player may find them confusing at first, they will prove ultimately underwhelming to a veteran, with good reason...

MAX celebrates the victory on the side of the room next to the PANELS, going:

MAX: Woo-hoo!

...and bouncing about. While he jumps around happily for a bit, KAIRI rests her Keyblade on her shoulder and watches him until he realizes he's being watched and calms down, somewhat embarrassed. He coughs awkwardly and sets his hands and buckler behind his back.

MAX: You did good!
KAIRI: [polite laugh] So did you.

MAX begins spreading his arms behind him, attempting to put them casually behind his head. He starts speaking:

MAX: So what do we do about...

But as he raises the buckler, it passes over the PANELS and MAX finds himself magnetically pulled towards the ceiling. As he shouts in surprise, KAIRI instinctively desummons the Keyblade and runs to his side.

MAX: Whoa! What's going on?
KAIRI: Max!
MAX: I'm stuck! I can't move!
KAIRI: Max, put it away!
MAX: Put it...

He looks at his buckler, and desummons it. He falls down towards KAIRI, who catches him, though they both end up collapsed in a heap, complete with cartoon sound effects.

KAIRI rubs at her head and considers the PANELS. A text sequence follows.

KAIRI: We had better keep our weapons away from those tiles, at least while the electricity is on.
KAIRI: Wait, what about your armour?
MAX: Oh, this?
MAX: It's, uh...
MAX: ...it's made of tin.
KAIRI: [laughs] I thought you said it was heavy?
MAX: It is heavy!

KAIRI's analysis is correct. Should the player tap the attack button while crossing the tiled corridor, they will summon the Keyblade and be electromagnetically drawn to the ceiling, but unlike MAX they will be able to move up there, upside down. This is loosely justified by a sparkle and glow of pink magic that comes from KAIRI while she and MAX are being raised from the ground, which flips them upside down. While the player can seemingly not put away their Keyblade at this point, KAIRI will return to the ground if she leaves the tiled area on either end.

At the far end of the corridor, there player wil come across a bare patch of floor and ceiling, dropping them to the ground if necessary. This is followed by a whole arena's worth of space covered in PANELS on both floor and ceiling. Sure enough, several HEARTLESS appear there, including SHADOWS, which crawl exclusively on the ceiling. As the party watches, the PANELS change: first the ceiling activates and green, upwards arrow appear, then the ceiling deactivates and the floor activates instead, displaying yellow, downwards arrows. The far door is metal and sealed.

ENCOUNTER: The player must wait for the PANELS to switch to help fight enemies on both ceiling and floor. KAIRI'S Quake spell is reversed while on the ceiling. The majority of Heartless are not affected by the tiles, though the player will soon discover that Rabites are programmed to jump up to the ceiling while the player is stranded there, and Duck Soldiers will be drawn along with the magnet thanks to their giant helmats, and will be toppled when a switch-over happens!

After the room is cleared, the party may pass on to the next room. The next room is wide open, and shaped like a slice cut out of a very large circle. At the tip of the triangle is a cylindrical shaped structure that runs from floor to ceiling, the core of our larger circle. The room itself is divided into minor puzzles making use of the ELECTROMAGNET PANELS.

MAX:
Aw geeze, more?
KAIRI: We're going to have to find a way to fight on these.
MAX: What, without our weapons?
KAIRI: Hmm...

KAIRI reaches into her inventory and pulls out the OLD PLANK and OLD ROD.

KAIRI: We could use these?
MAX: You're kidding, right? [beat] You're not kidding.

The player is given a tutorial prompt for this new mechanic. From this point on (while in the CITY OF DANGERS), the player may hit Triangle if they want to switch from metal weapons to wooden ones. This is low priority and does not work if the player is being offered any other Triangle prompts, like chests and team-up attacks. While using Wooden weapons, the player will always fall to the floor, but their non-Magic attacks will be significantly weakened, similar to Sora in Hollow Bastion in KH1. This mechanic only works in the CITY OF DANGERS, and not anywhere else in the game. The OLD PLANK buckler and the OLD ROD "Keyblade" cannot be equipped in the usual fashion and are, in fact, Key Items rather than equipment.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


The current room features multiple treasure chests trapped behind magnet-related puzzles. Mekoids return here from the CASTLE ABOVE THE CLOUDS. They are magnetized by the panels at all times and flip over without effort.

Once the player finally approaches the cylindrical object at the back of the room, they will find a PANEL alongside it. Interacting with the PANEL causes the next cutscene to play.

MAX approaches the PANEL and raps it with his buckler.

MAX: It's off.
KAIRI: Then how are we going to...

Just then, the cylindrical device begins to spin, first slowly and then faster and faster, revealing a door part-way along its length. As it is spinning, KAIRI and MAX hear a muffled voice, obscured both by the door and by the sound of machinery. They lean forward towards the door with curious looks on their faces, cupping a hand to their ears.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

The device comes to an abrupt stop with the door facing the current room, and the door opens, revealing...

???: ...am Darkwiiiiiiing Duck!

While DARKWING DUCK holds a dramatic pose for a moment, he soon reveals that he is incredibly dizzy and begins to sway towards them. MAX intercepts him and DARKWING collapses in MAX'S arms.

MAX: Whoa there.
DARKWING: [tone rising and falling at random] Excuse me... are you an Evil Doer?
MAX: N... no!
DARKWING: And you?
KAIRI: Sorry.
DARKWING: Not even a little malfeasance?

They shake their heads.

DARKWING: Darn. There goes another one.

He frees himself from MAX and wobbles back into the cylindrical room, which has a large, active SCREEN on its inner wall. DARKWING is about to touch it when KAIRI calls out.

KAIRI: Wait! We're looking for something. Maybe you could help us find it?
DARKWING: Darkwing Duck is always on hand to help a citizen! Though you could find a better time, lady. I'm busy fighting my archnemesis here!
MAX: Archnemesis?
DARKWING: That's right, my archnemesis!

He raises a finger and begins to dramatically monologue.

DARKWING: That fiend among fiends!

As DARKWING speaks, the camera once again lowers beneath the surface, as it did during the title card sequence, this time revealing a large chamber somewhere below the party's current location. DARKWING continues to ramble in voice-over.

DARKWING: That pursuer of pilferance and putrescence! That gangster of gout, grime and grievances!

In the chamber below, we see a large number of ELECTROMAGNETIC PANELS on the floor and ceiling, and PANELS alternating with screens on the walls. There is a particularly large bit of MACHINERY on one side of the room and, attached to the MACHINERY: the DARK CRYSTAL OF EARTH, glimmering a strange BLACK radiance against the lighting.

There are two figures in the room. One is the SECOND BANDIT, and the other is revealed by the camera just as DARKWING reaches the climax of his speech:

DARKWING: His name? Megavolt!

MEGAVOLT (Dan Castellaneta from earlier) is hard at work, applying some electrified tools to the BANDIT's manacles.

MEGAVOLT: Ohhh, this is so exciting! Do you know how long I've been trying to get this Crystal to work? I mean it does work, just not well enough for my experiments. But it's a good source of power! It's not like I could afford this secret bunker under St. Canard with hard work and a good salary! Aha! Ahahaha?

The BANDIT glares MEGAVOLT down and he awkwardly stops laughing.

MEGAVOLT: Yes, well. What can I say? I've had a lot of time on my hands! Do you want to hear about my experiment?

The camera cuts to the large MACHINE attached to the CRYSTAL. MEGAVOLT is whispering with barely hushed excitement.

MEGAVOLT: I call it "The Tunneller!" But it doesn't tunnel through earth and stone, oh no! It tunnels through space itself! I could go anywhere with this! To the other side of the world! Inside bank vaults! I could escape this wretched, cursed prison we've been trapped in for who-knows how many years! And do you know, I think there might be other worlds out there?
BANDIT: [dry] Fascinating.
MEGAVOLT: And of course, I wouldn't say "no" to loaning it out for a small fee to a fellow black marketteer! [he raises his eyebrows] Mm? [higher] Mmm?
BANDIT: ...I'll manage on my own.
MEGAVOLT: Oh well, suit yourself Mister... ah... what do I call you, again?
BANDIT: You can call me... "Omega."
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

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Max getting stuck to the ceiling because of his buckler was hilarious. I like how Kairi uses the weapons given to them by the Tonberry. Who knew gag weapons would come in handy after all. I really hope Max sticks with Kairi to the very end because, they get along so well. Both of them cleaned up good in their fights. And I love the introduction to Darkwing. xD Ah, looks like the evildoers are busy with an experiment. Omega. I wonder if that's his real name? I'll have to tune in till next time to find out. Can't wait to see what happens next. And I do wonder what became of Midia. :3 Great chapter as always!
 

Blackdrazon

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Hi Chaser, thanks again for the compliments and feedback! Hope you enjoy this one too, it's a little longer than usual.

----------------------------------------------

A text sequence opens up our proceedings:

DARKWING:
This darned spinning room behind me keeps kicking me out into random parts of the facility! Even worse, everything past this point is locked up tight!
KAIRI: We might be able to help with that!

The spinning room is the MERRY-GO-ROUND ROOM, and, when activated, it will spin and deposit the player in one of the other rooms in MEGAVOLT's base. There are six possible destinations and they are randomly determined at this point in the game, however the odds of reaching them are not actually even. The player will never arrive at Room 6 using the random generator. Meanwhile, the game tries to funnel the player towards Room 2, increasing the odds of Room 2 showing up every time they complete a different room.

DARKWING elaborates on this mechanic in a text sequence the first time the player revisits a room they have already cleared (including Room 1).

MAX:
Aw, here again?
DARKWING: Don't worry, citizens! I'm sure the more we discover in this fiendish trap, the closer we'll come to our ultimate goal!

DARKWING fights with a number of special gas guns and can fire at enemies within medium range. DARKWING seems to have his own way of dealing with the ELECTROMAGNET PANELS: when you enable and disable metallic weapons, he presses a button on his belt which causes him to glow momentarily and follow you, wherever you happen to go. The Equipment menu calls this a "Gadget Belt" and says "Darkwing refuses to explain how it works, no matter how much you beg."

We'll begin with Room 2. Room 2 features the same magnetic panels we've seen in Room 1, now with flying enemies to contend with. At the end of Rooms 2-5 is a plastic security gate KAIRI has to use the Keyblade to open. Hiding behind the gate in Room 2 is a large FUSEBOX. Activating it causes the CONTROL PANEL next to the MERRY-GO-ROUND ROOM to reactivate. By interacting with this panel (in any room) the player may stop the room from spinning randomly and can, instead, specify a destination room, including Room 6.

Should the player jump ahead to Room 6, they will get an explanation for what they're trying to accomplish in this dungeon, so we'll skip ahead to give it a look.

Room 6 is a wide corridor with a (presumably) active electrical force field and an elevator with a control panel at the back of the hall. When the party enters, MEGAVOLT's voice comes over the megaphone.

MEGAVOLT:
Dear Megavolt. How are you? This is Megavolt. Memo to self: grocery list. Eggs. Bread. Coffee. Oh, and a pack of gum, maybe some nice strawberry bubble, maybe? When you get back: remember to scramble the Merry-Go-Round room so nobody can break in. Activate the force field, lock up the security card and turn off the elevator. Also: delete this message. Okay, have fun, me!
DARKWING: Zounds! It sounds like Megavolt has a four-point plan for keeping us out!
MAX: Well at least we're already part-way through it. We turned off the Merry-Go-Round room behind us.

The camera begins to pan across the room, showing you the obstacles (active or not) one-by-one.

KAIRI: Turn off the force field… find the key card… turn on the elevator.
DARKWING: Seems like we'd better get cracking!

Rooms 3-5 hold the access card to the elevator, the elevator power station and the force field generator (respectively) that the player will need to get into Megavolt's secret lair. However, they also feature brand new obstacles.

Room 3 features PANELS only on the floor, which activate and deactivate intermittently. When active, they cause red "Pause" symbols to appear on the screens on the wall. These panels will cause the player characters to become stuck to the panel if they are holding metal equipment. DARKWING can still fire in this position, and you can still cast spells (Quake will launch MAX only slightly in the air before he is abruptly and uselessly pulled back down) but you are ultimately stuck until you release your metal equipment and are forced to use the garbage attack power of your wooden weapons. Mekoids appearing in this room will also become stuck when the panels are active!

Room 4 features panels on the walls and screens on the ceiling and floor, the panels yanking you from one side of the room to the other. Here, the player is introduced to another Heartless inspired by the Mana series: Barnaclejacks, which are essentially living springboards that launch the player into the air. While typically fought on the floor in the future, they are here perched on the walls, and punish the player for being drawn all the way to a wall by smacking them hard in the other direction.

Room 5 features always-on panels on the ceiling, forcing you to navigate the room mostly inverted, dropping down only to find treasure chests and the force field generator on high platforms.


After clearing two of the four objective rooms (2-5), there will be a cutscene the next time the player uses the MERRY-GO-ROUND room.

The party is waiting out the room's spinning in silence, gripping the rails that line the room. MAX looks up, awkwardly.

MAX: Hey Darkwing? Have you ever heard the name… "Yen Sid?"
DARKWING: Sure, who hasn't? Talk of the town for a week or so, until he trapped us all in this magic prison for a million years. …Or maybe it's been a really bad week?

We cut to KAIRI, who opens her mouth to protest, but then stops and sulks in private.

DARKWING: But if you want to know about Yen Sid, you're talking to the right Duck. We were a team! He told me that we had to stop my old friend Megavolt from completing his evil plan, or it would be disastrous! Ohhh, we were a hell of a team. Vigilante and sorcerer! Shadows and starlight, might and magic! …And then he went and locked me in here to die! Is that any way to treat a guy?
MAX: Well… you haven't died yet, have you?
DARKWING: Well, not yet.

We return to KAIRI's fallen face, as she takes a moment to rest her head against her arms.

DARKWING: [muttering] …Though if Gosalyn's school puts on another annual production of the "Swan Princess" before we get out of here, I just might.

Once the player has completed all four rooms and can access Megavolt's secret lair, a cutscene plays when they attempt to interact with the elevator.

DARKWING:
Are you ready, team? Beyond that elevator lies one of the greatest criminal minds in existence!
KAIRI: And he's probably not alone.
MAX: Yeah, the bandit we're chasing is probably in there, too!
DARKWING: Aw, come on, you could always use a little extra challenge!

DARKWING waves them into the elevator, and as the doors close, he strikes a pose with his cape and says:

DARKWING: Let's… get… dangerous!

We return to the basement, where MEGAVOLT is still at work on OMEGA's manacles. The camera begins looking at them from one angle, and slowly rotates around them until it is looking at the elevator doors. Just as the doors align in the middle of the camera, we hear a loud clamor. To our surprise, the two antagonists look up towards the camera, and not to the elevator. We cut to their point of view and see that MIDIA has just smashed her way into the room through a vent.

MEGAVOLT: [rubs his chin] Memo to self: invest in smaller ducts.

OMEGA scowls at MIDIA and slams his hands apart, shattering whatever remained of the manacle chain between them. The camera positions itself near an over-the-shoulder perspective on OMEGA as he approaches MIDIA. As it does so, OMEGA begins to fall behind the camera, causing us to lose sight of OMEGA as darkness burns away his prison clothing. As a consequence, we do not yet see his true form.

OMEGA: You. Here at last with all the arrogance I'd expect from every one of your sect. Where is your mistress now?

MIDIA takes a combat stance. In this close shot, we can see that her gauntlets are snake-themed, decorated with flame.

MIDIA: Coming for all of you, I figure. But I'll still try to beat her to it.
OMEGA: No. Not the Lady Elle. Not one of your peers. Where is your mistress?

He points his hand towards her, and we discover that it has transformed into a menacing, robotic pincer, which still burns with dark energy.

OMEGA: The other one. The little one.
MIDIA: Don't you dare.
OMEGA: Crushed like a bug! [his claw snaps shut] And there was nothing you could do… to stop it.

In her shock, MIDIA has allowed herself to be cornered, and the camera has no more room to reasonably approach. OMEGA finally steps into frame: he has grown taller and now stands nearly eight feet tall, the sound of his steps entirely mechanical. He towers over MIDIA, and in an instant, he moves to strike at her head with his new mechanical claw.

At the last moment, MIDIA's eyes lower and she appears to smirk. Just then, the camera cuts to the side and we see that a REVENANT has been summoned and has leapt in front of MIDIA. The REVENANT is a young girl who wears a cape, gloves and pointed hat, and it catches OMEGA's blow with one of its fists. OMEGA is knocked back, and the REVENANT lands at MIDIA's feet, and she salutes the camera.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


MIDIA: [grinning] I guess she's not as far gone as you thought.

The camera cuts back to OMEGA and pans across his new body, which appears dark against the back-light cast by the rest of the room. While details are hard to make out, it is clear he has more mechanical parts than the player would have been able to guess from his imprisoned appearance, featuring an all-mechanical body below the waist, a mechanical left pincer arm and implants on the left side of his head. The MAGUN remains on his right arm, and he uses it to cradle his claw hand. He wears a cloak.

OMEGA: [raging] I would end you all. Shatter your Revenants and pull down your precious tower. If I had just a little more time, I would do it—

Just then, the elevator opens, revealing KAIRI and the rest of the party. OMEGA roars like an animal in the direction of the party, and turns back on MIDIA with a new ferocity. He charges straight through the REVENANT, shattering it into pieces and leaving behind a mist of light that is dissipated by his motion. He then grabs MIDIA by the stomach and leaps into the ceiling, taking her with him as he leaves a great hole in his wake.

MEGAVOLT: Hey, wait! You still owe me! F-for the thing?

MEGAVOLT points towards the DARK CRYSTAL.

MEGAVOLT: You're supposed to tell me how this works!
DARKWING: Boy, that guy sure knows how to spoil an entrance.
MEGAVOLT: You!

DARKWING poses, hands on hips.

DARKWING: Me!

KAIRI and MAX push past DARKWING.

KAIRI AND MAX: Midia!

MEGAVOLT is surprised by them into raising his hands, which crackle with electricity. KAIRI and MAX are startled into a stop.

MEGAVOLT: Wait, wait! Who on earth are you two? Four break-ins in one night? What, do I have rats, too?
DARKWING: Pest control can wait, evil-doer! Maybe for 20 years to life?
MEGAVOLT: Oh, what do "years" even mean in here, Darkwing? C'mon! I can't tell January from Tuesday in this curse! I was going to get out! Don't you want to get out anymore?
DARKWING: …Well, I…
MEGAVOLT: Well I do! And you're not going to spoil it!

He claps his hands, causing an electric force field to cut the party off from the MACHINE and CRYSTAL, and forcing them to stand on the room's many ELECTROMAGNETIC PANELS. The screens and upper PANELS begin to activate and MEGAVOLT rises to the middle of the room in between floor and ceiling, essentially flying.

BOSS: MEGAVOLT
Naturally, MEGAVOLT lays it on hot with electrical attacks, but it's the PANELS you really have to look out for. This room using all varieties seen in the past: floor on, ceiling on, changing from floor to ceiling with regularity, pinning the player to the ground, and using the walls. The SCREENS that line the room will help keep the player (especially colourblind players) aware of what is going on with the panels, no matter which direction the player is looking.

MEGAVOLT's attacks appear stylistically distinct and are coloured distinctly as well (appearance must be distinct to help colourblind players distinguish the attacks, but it's easier for me to refer to them by colour in writing). The attacks include a yellow cluster shot that goes in all directions, a blue straight shot that does extra damage, and a red homing shot that will seek out random targets and must be Guarded to avoid it. Megavolt can also charge himself with electricity to attack anyone nearby, though this takes a second for him to deploy, giving the player a chance to escape.

As he reaches low health, MEGAVOLT will begin charging various PANELS with harmful electricity as a desperation attack (the screens display a yellow exclamation mark during this attack!). These electrocuted PANELS will harm the player characters if they touch them. MEGAVOLT electrocutes the panels in a pattern (alternating rows or columns, checkerboard, spiral, etc), forcing the player to keep an eye out as they try to land their attacks.

After the battle, we find that MEGAVOLT has stopped flying and now wobbles on the ground.

MEGAVOLT:
Did anyone… get the licence number… of that superhero team?

He collapses to the ground. Fade to black. When we fade back in, we find the party at the back end of the room. DARKWING and MAX are examining the machine, as KAIRI examines the hole in the ceiling, trying to find a way up.

MAX: Whaddya think? Should we smash it?
DARKWING: Naah, forget about it. The police will impound it as soon as they get here. After all, superheroes don't have to do grunt work.
MAX: What do you think it does?
DARKWING: Who cares? All I know is that another day is saved, thanks to Darkwiiii—

The room shakes rather violently, and we hear the sound of a distant explosion. MAX and DARKWING run to KAIRI's side to look up the hole in the ceiling.

KAIRI: Midia!
MAX: And our punk with the robo-arm, I'd bet.

The game returns control to the player, giving them a chance to save here or to investigate the MACHINE, DARK CRYSTAL and MEGAVOLT as they please. When the player is ready to go, they only need speak to DARKWING under the hole in the ceiling. Any attempt to leave via the elevator will have KAIRI saying "That's not the right way," but the game will allow the player to leave if they need to grind, by presenting a dialogue box asking "Go anyway?" We pick up after the player has spoken to DARKWING.

MAX and DARKWING are looking up the hole, while KAIRI just to the side.

MAX: Can you really get us up there?
DARKWING: Not a problem for Darkwing Duck!

DARKWING reaches into his pockets.

DARKWING: When you're as well prepared as me, a child could do it! In fact: here! I've got spares. Let me show you how to use it?

He hands MAX a GRAPNEL GUN. We then check on KAIRI and see that it is not, in fact, the MACHINE that has drawn her attention. The DARK CRYSTAL OF EARTH is pulsing.

KAIRI: Huh?

A lance of BLACK power shoots out from the CRYSTAL and strikes KAIRI. She is engulfed in a strange BLACK aura. She looks at her hands in astonishment. MAX looks up, though DARKWING does not catch the goings-on.

MAX: Are you all right?

The aura fades.

KAIRI: Yes. Yes, I…
DARKWING: C'mon people, time's a wasting!

The player is presented with two prompts, informing them that KAIRI has received the Cure spell, and that MAX has received a GRAPNEL GUN. The Cure spell works to heal KAIRI, MAX and any GUEST whenever it is used. Unlike the Cure spell in other KH games, this spell will always heal the entire party – it has no maximum radius (MAX is so integral to gameplay that this is only fair).

The GRAPNEL, meanwhile, is the newest mobility upgrade for MAX. It can be used to reach certain high grapnel points in the ANCIENT'S MAZE, but because the player is trapped by the plot at the moment, there is no chance to slip off to the MAZE to try it out! Unlike previous mobility upgrades, the GRAPNEL does not function as a TEAM-UP ATTACK.

The camera arrives in the city of St. Canard, where the battle between MIDIA and OMEGA has created a huge crater in the middle of a crossroads. Plenty of rubble litters the crater (at least one a large chunk of skyscraper), and the combatants are locked in the middle of the arena. OMEGA is in combat with a mixed force of REMNANTS, but he destroys them as the camera arrives. MIDIA uses this distraction to hammer OMEGA across the face and then again in the chest, but he returns the blow by striking MIDIA with the sleeping MAGUN, and then swings at her overhead with his robotic hand. MIDIA catches this attack with both hands, but the sheer mechanical strength of her opponent forces her to her knees.

OMEGA: It is time for you to go to sleep, Lady of Fire. You'll wake up in your tower, in a shining crystal body, and cower as I hunt down every one of your glowing copies and end them one… by… one…

As he continues to keep MIDIA pinned with his claw hand, OMEGA raises the MAGUN, which begins to activate. Dark winds begin to flow around the arena.

OMEGA: The soil charge triad to use on you has been—!

Barely seen by the camera, a projectile flies into view and strikes the MAGUN, coating it with sticky, purple fluid. The MAGUN struggles against this twice, but then closes into its sleeping state.

OMEGA: What?
DARKWING: There's only enough room in this town for one catchphrase, thank you very much!
OMEGA: Who--?

The camera cuts to see the party, silhouetted on a ridge.

KAIRI: I am the terror that flaps in the night!
MAX: I am the spoiler to your favourite TV show!
DARKWING: And I… am Darkwiiiiing Duck!

MIDIA, now forgotten behind OMEGA, grips one of her arms in pain. She can't help but grin at the party's display, though she mouths the words "My Lady" thankfully as she slips away to lick her wounds.

KAIRI and the party jump into the crater.

OMEGA: Child of Light. Come to save your cultists?
KAIRI: I'm here to find the three of you.
OMEGA: Are you? Then know that I am Omega, Lord of the Dark Crystal of Earth.

Before their eyes, OMEGA's legs bisect, and fold out to become four tall spider legs, causing him to better resemble the original Omega from FFV. His claw arm restructures itself into a laser cannon. His boss theme, an industrial remix of FFV's "Decisive Battle" (Exdeath's opening battle theme) begins to play.

OMEGA: I was built for a war long ago, princess. A war to span a thousand worlds. I rebelled, and lived my own life until your slaves came to seal me away. But make no mistake, Child of Light. I am still built to fight that war.

The party takes a battle stance. OMEGA's robotic eye begins to shine a targeting laser that scans over the party during the traditional Kingdom Hearts pre-battle camera pans.

BOSS: OMEGA

OMEGA's opening attack is to fire a volley of missiles from his back, which will target the party's starting location. The player can easily dodge this by moving in any direction. OMEGA's actions from this point on can always be predicted by watching his tracking laser (indeed, the missile attack was predicted by his scanning the party during the opening camera pans). If the targeting laser makes a circling motion, this indicates a missile strike. If the laser tracks the player character, this indicates that cannon fire will follow (first single pulses, then bursts or rapid-fire streams as the battle goes on). The player must Dodge Roll to avoid this attack, or should take cover behind rubble. If the tracking laser aims ahead of a character as they move, this indicates that OMEGA will begin mortar fire just ahead of the character.

While OMEGA's torso is close enough to the ground that you can strike him directly, you can also attack his legs. Each leg has only a small amount of health, and destroying them will temporarily lock OMEGA in position while he affects repairs on one leg at a time. The Fire spell is excellent at this, as its beam can cut through multiple legs at once. The Rush attack also does special damage to the legs, causing them to be "knocked out of place" for a moment, though this is quickly corrected. OMEGA will respond to close-range attacks by attempting to melee the attacker with his arms, but this attack is slow.

After taking enough damage, OMEGA will engage a sphere of energy to knock the player away, and will transform back to his humanoid form. He will shout "Find me, if you can!" and will duck behind the nearest pile of rubble. Thus begins a game of cat-and-mouse, wherein OMEGA will find a firing position and snipe at the player. If OMEGA lands his shot, he will brag by shouting: "On your left!" or "Behind you!" giving away his position (this is to prevent the player from losing track of him entirely). If the player finds OMEGA in hiding, they can typically open up with a combo, but if they are slow on the draw (especially if they approach OMEGA from the front), the game will punish them by having OMEGA attack KAIRI with his claw arm, and striking down like he did with MIDIA. This will force the player to tap the button to avoid damage, after which OMEGA will escape and go back into hiding.

For his desperation phase, OMEGA will once again summon the electric sphere to knock the player away. He then appears in the middle of the crater and (in a brief in-engine cutscene) he rips off the purple goop from the MAGUN and deploys it, aiming into the sky and shouting "Rise! RA DEVIL!" This summons the archvillain of Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, specifically his shattered robot form from Episode 3. RA DEVIL forms around OMEGA as a shell made of rocks picked up from the crater. This golem can strike at KAIRI with its arm, but has only so much health and makes for a rather large target. Once defeated, OMEGA will be left stunned and can be easily defeated.


After the battle, REMNANTS appear around OMEGA and detain him.

OMEGA:
No!

One of the REMNANTS – a copy of the one that defended MIDIA in MEGAVOLT'S lair – appears in front of KAIRI. It pirouettes and curtsies before the entire group vanishes, taking OMEGA with them in a flash of light.

MIDIA approaches from off-screen, still clutching her wounded arm.

MIDIA: Your Highness. You were… wonderful.
DARKWING: No trouble, no trouble at all!

DARKWING walks out past MIDIA, eyes shut and smiling.

DARKWING: But I must insist, no autographs, no autographs, please! …Okay! Okay, you talked me into it: but no more than one autograph per person! Who do I make it out to?

He pulls out an autograph from one of his pockets and begins to fill it out without listening for a response. MIDIA turns back to KAIRI, still clutching her arm.

KAIRI: Oh! Let me help you with that.

KAIRI casts Cure on MIDIA, restoring her arm.

MIDIA: Ah, thank you. I…

MIDIA tests her arm and looks back to KAIRI, her eyes full of admiration. After a moment, she recovers her composure.

MIDIA: We should return to the Tower. Someone must have found the third Bandit by now. And you should speak to my mistress.
KAIRI: Mistress?
MIDIA: My Lady Elle, the head of our order. She's been fighting the darkness longer than I've been alive. She was a close personal friend of Master Yen Sid when they were younger! They were…

She blushes slightly, and then coughs.

MIDIA: …they were close.

KAIRI and MAX look shocked at first, but then lower their eyes mischievously.

KAIRI: Oh…
MAX: …really?
KAIRI: You don't say.
MAX: This woman I have to meet.

DARKWING suddenly inserts himself in-shot, waving around his autographed photo.

DARKWING: Hell~o? Does anybody want this or not? Autographed glossy from the twice-time saviour of the city in one day!

We cut to wide zoom and the title card for the CITY OF DANGERS appears to close out the world.

DARKWING: Going once! Twice!

The scene cuts to black.

DARKWING: …how about two autographs, then?

After the scene closes, Kairi is rewarded with the GLORYHOG, a Magic-aligned Keyblade based on DARKWING.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

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My favorite part was when Kairi and Max joined in with Darkwing during their confrontation by having a speech. xD I was quite entertained by it. And I'm dying with curiosity to know what just happened to Kairi! I thought because she was a princess of light, she couldn't have dark energy get inside of her? Maybe the rules of this place are different. Or Kairi could be in deep trouble. And I wonder who the 'special lady' is that had a history with Yen Sid. Although, I imagine the clue of that war being the keyblade one. Or perhaps it's connected to Chi? Ah, I'm dying to know, and I'll just have to wait till you update again! Although, I'm dying here in suspense, cause it's really good! :D
 

Blackdrazon

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The game gives the player the option to save before moving on, as the game is about to proceed directly from boss battle to cutscene.

The party arrives back in the CRYSTAL TOWER, which is now full of busy reflections of the many characters present. The party finds MOONBROOKE still at work at the CONSTELLATION MAP, and we get a close-up on her work, observing that the GREEN and YELLOW stars are now bordered green instead of yellow, indicating that these crystals are safe. However, the PALE GREY star now has a flashing, red border.

The camera then reveals two new figures in the hall. The first is a dark-skinned woman in her middle years with blue hair, dressed in a loose-fitting outfit and carrying two large scimitars. The second is a light-skinned older man well into old age, with a flowing beard and a bald head, dressed in blue robes. They are arguing.

The new man and woman look up as the party approaches.

MAN: Midia!

Noticing KAIRI, he startles and both he and the new woman bow low.

MAN: Your Highness.
WOMAN: Your Highness.

MOONBROOKE simply looks over her shoulder at the party and then returns to her work: specifically, she adds a green circle around the BLACK star without waiting for details from the party.

WOMAN: Your Highness, I am Rena, Third of the Guardians and Lady of the Light Crystal of Air. May I have the pleasure of introducing Izander, Fourth of the Guardians and Lord of Earth?
IZANDER: My Lady. We've heard about you from Moonbrooke and the prisoners.
KAIRI: You have Omega?
IZANDER: Yes, my lady. Not that he's been polite, but consider that a badge of honour. [he chuckles] You'll pardon me?
KAIRI: Of course.
IZANDER: Excellent. [he turns to RENA] Are you mad?

We cut to KAIRI and MAX as they react with shock, and then to MIDIA as she sighs and pinches at the bridge of her nose.

Spoiler Spoiler Show
RENA: Better mad than a coward!
IZANDER: Our orders are clear. Lady Elle knows not to make them unclear or certain people will find a way to wheedle out of them!
KAIRI: Wait, wait! What's going on?
IZANDER: Your Highness. Our Mistress, the Lady Elle, has sent word that she's engaged one of the Bandits at the site of the Dark Crystal of Air.
RENA: Which should be my responsibility, by any right.
IZANDER: Don’t be daft, you know why it isn't! Your Highness, this final Bandit is dangerous on the best days, but things have gotten out of our control. One of the locals, he… well he…
MOONBROOKE: "Cheats."
IZANDER: That's putting it mildly, but I suppose it does cut to the heart of the problem.
KAIRI: Wait. This Lady Elle: she's in trouble?
RENA: Yes.
IZANDER: We don't know. Her orders are to stay away. What with the situation with the Dark Crystal of Fire, I proposed that we focus our efforts on finding a way through Xanatos' shield.
RENA: Whereas I read between the lines and say we should help Lady Elle when she actually needs us.
MAX: Well… you four might not be able to help, but we're not covered by her orders, right?

The two new GUARDIANS look at MAX as though they hadn't noticed him standing there prior.

KAIRI: …Oh! This is Max!
MAX: Hiya!
KAIRI: He's my bodyguard.
MAX: She needs one.
KAIRI: Hey!

RENA and IZANDER turn to one another.

RENA: He has a point.
IZANDER: We can't ask the princess to—
KAIRI: "The princess" is volunteering to go.

The look back to KAIRI.

KAIRI: My mission here is to find and capture the three bandits. And none of you… [Kairi hesitates at this use of authority, but carries through] …are going to stop me.

RENA and IZANDER once again exchange looks, but then both bow.

RENA: My Lady.
IZANDER: My Lady.

The cutscene ends, though it transitions to a short text sequence.

MOONBROOKE:
By the way, Midia: Rena and Izander both confirmed that someone broke into their rooms. I took a look at my own and it's the same story.
MIDIA: Who on earth could have broken into the Ancient's Maze?
MOONBROOKE: Couldn't say. You should ask the others for their details. They'll be in their rooms.

If spoken to after the fact, MOONBROOKE will repeat the gist of this message.

MIDIA leaves the party at this point, and can be found walking about the CRYSTAL TOWER's first floor.

MIDIA:
It was an honour serving with you, Your Highness. I hope to see you again soon.

OMEGA is, of course, in his cell.

OMEGA:
Once, in forgotten times, hearts in turmoil fought over the Light.
OMEGA: This they will ever do.
OMEGA: The world fell, and the Light was divided into the hearts of seven children.
OMEGA: …So you will always be a target, "My Lady."

RENA and IZANDER can be found in their rooms (the yellow and green rooms from earlier).

RENA:
Someone broke in and fiddled my weapons collection.
RENA: They made off with an unusual pair. Nothing I'd use on a regular day.
RENA: Nothing anyone I know would use, come to think of it…

IZANDER: You heard about the thief?
IZANDER: They didn't touch anything of mine, though they damaged my magic circle while they were sneaking around.
IZANDER: If I get my hands on them, I'll…

Last of all, the CRYSTAL OF LIGHT is awake and floating about the uppermost chamber.

CRYSTAL:
My, my, it's busy as ever here in the Tower.
CRYSTAL: Just when I thought they'd leave me alone for a day or two.
CRYSTAL: Feels like it's been forever…

Upon leaving the TOWER, KAIRI and MAX have a brief conversation to remind the player of what they might have forgotten during the battle with OMEGA:

MAX:
Oh hey, remember I have that Grapnel Gun from Darkwing. I bet we could use that to get to all sorts of high places!
KAIRI: Great idea!

To continue our circle metaphor about the ANCIENT'S MAZE from earlier, the road to the next world lies counter-clockwise from the sewer realm corresponding to the CITY OF DANGERS (though if the player tries to go in the opposite direction, from the segment corresponding to the CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS, they can use the GRAPNEL GUN to find a few chests as an apology for the dead end. This includes a new weapon for MAX, the SPIKED BUCKLER).

After extricating themselves from the SEWERS, the party find themselves above ground in another section of the ANCIENT'S MAZE. More strangely, they are indoors. This section of the ANCIENT'S MAZE resembles a modern-day, Japanese high school, sprawling illogically and jagged in all directions. The MAZE includes both hallways and classrooms. The manhole cover that the party used to enter the area is both incongruous and filthy, as is every other surface in the place. Among the dirt, seemingly normal shadows move unpredictably between features on the walls in response to the player's movement: appearing and disappearing at doors, cracks and features. Several Bound appear in this area, taking advantage of the narrow corridors to attack the player, while a new variety of Bound appear in classrooms, attached to the ceiling.

When entering one particular room, a new PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS shambles into view from around a corner. It is a heavy, bulky but erratic thing, like a tall sack full of garbage. It also has a drooping mouth outlined in yellow with the usual Heartless zig-zag on both the mouth's top and bottom. As it spots KAIRI, the two of them stare at one another in confusion before, suddenly, the HEARTLESS catches fire and begins to emit a horrible screaming noise. It rushes the party.

This new enemy is a Lost. In a typical battle, it lurks around the outside of the melee for a random period of time before catching fire spontaneously and rushing the nearest party member. Hitting it with the Fire spell will also cause it to attack on the spot, and naturally it takes no damage. It can be extinguished with a well-timed Guard or attack, otherwise it will make contact and damage the party member. If it does so, the Lost will charge another standing party member, and so on, until it is finally extinguished by the player, or until it extinguishes on its own after a random period of time. Once extinguished, the Lost will collapse into a puddle and retreat to the fringes of the battle (the Lost will also use this technique to escape an extended stunlock).

ENCOUNTER: 2x Lost, followed by 10x Shadows and 4x Lost.

The player proceeds through the school, before they arrive outside in a paved section of the school's YARD.

MAX turns to look back the way they came and discovers a perfectly normal school behind them, which MAX looks back on in confusion. He tries to get KAIRI's attention, but she is distracted, and the camera shows why. There, sitting in the middle of the yard, is a shadowy figure in the middle of the room. As the player approaches, it appears to be a small girl, seven or eight years old, sitting on the ground and crying into her hands. While there is a gap in the fence at the far side of the YARD, KAIRI will refuse to move on to the next room without talking to the figure.

KAIRI: Hey… what's the matter?

The girl looks up and reveals a familiar face.

KAIRI: …Midia?
MAX: Kairi!

KAIRI looks up, and discovers that the party is surrounded on all sides by an army of Lost that have appeared from nowhere. The Lost stare at them, empty. The ghostly MIDIA has vanished.

KAIRI and MAX stand back-to-back and eye the Lost with suspicion, but they do not have to wait long before one of them catches fire. The fire then begins to spread, counter-clockwise through the group in a great inferno. The camera flies above the horde to see the conflagration spread from above. As it does so, the rough, scream-like noises of the Lost become unmistakable human screams, the screams of children, before they form of a sort of unison and become the single scream of an individual girl.

Spoiler Spoiler Show
The fire consumes the Lost horde, but when the fire clears (again, dissipating counter-clockwise), a new creature is in their place: a PUREBLOOD HEARTLESS in the shape of a great rattlesnake (referencing the scene from Aladdin where Jafar transforms into a cobra via flame).

MIDBOSS: DARK FANG
The Dark Fang forms a circle around the player, keeping the battle confined to a small area. The basic strategy against the Dark Fang is to use Rising Attack to reach its face and then strike, and to use Guard to protect against its lunges. The small arena makes it much easier to meet up with MAX and use Rising Attack. Guarding against the Snake's attacks, however, is not so simple. You cannot tell when it will strike just by watching its head: the head pulls back, which is your first warning, but your second warning comes from watching its tail, which will always be just to the side of the head. Should the player successfully Guard or attack against the boss' strike, the Dark Fang will be stunned and open for a few hits.

After reaching 3/4s health, the Dark Fang will begin to shoot flaming beams from its eyes, which should be dodged. At 1/2 health, it will introduce a final attack: attempting to constrict the party in its grasp. Avoiding the attack is as simple as jumping onto the snake's body, which causes the snake to retract and dumps the player back where they started (invisible walls will be deployed to keep the player from escaping entirely). Should KAIRI be caught by the constriction attack, however, both she and MAX will take a few hits of crush damage before being released.

After the battle, KAIRI and MAX lower their weapons and drop to the ground for a rest, side to side. KAIRI reaches out and taps MAX's side.

KAIRI: Max?
MAX: Yeah?
KAIRI: Midia's gauntlets. Her… on her hands. Their shape—
MAX: Yeah. Snakes.
KAIRI: …Yeah.

KAIRI reaches over and takes MAX's hand in the darkness, and they sit together in silence. Fade to black.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

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I'm beginning to suspect Midia isn't all that she seems after this. I'm not sure what to make of the Lost, but I feel like Omega clued us into that. Which makes me wonder if Rena, Izander, Moonbrooke, and Crystal knew? This reminds me a bit of the foretellers, except it makes me wonder if perhaps Midia has a different agenda. I mean, it makes sense if she broke into their rooms and took a particular item. At the same time, I wonder why she didn't be upfront in the start? Either way, I hope Max and Kairi survive whatever trials await them after this. And if they'll go through with saving Elle with their suspicions raised on the whole thing. What if the bandits were actually the good guys in all of this?! xD AH! I really can't wait to find out. It was another great chapter!
 

Blackdrazon

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If the player is willing to backtrack to the TOWER after the fight with the Dark Fang, MIDIA's dialogue will have changed:

MIDIA:
What's that look on your face?
MIDIA: You look like you've seen a ghost.

But they gain nothing for doing so.

By proceeding down the path, the player reaches a long tunnel seemingly into a forest outside the school ruins. At the end of the path, they emerge in a forest clearing. The area appears empty, but as KAIRI takes a single step forward, she is suddenly cut off by two preteens.

DIPPER:
'scuse me!
MABEL: Pardon us!

KAIRI and MAX exchange confused looks, and MAX attempts to head after the kids, only to be cut off by an older man pulling a large man through the air behind him.

STAN: One side!
SOOS: Nice meeting you!

KAIRI and MAX once again trade glances, and attempt to step forward as one. A pack of EMBLEM HEARTLESS arrive next, then stop, and turn to face them.

MAX: Oh, sure, these stay!

The new HEARTLESS here are a MINOBEAR – a bear with a bull's head and horns – and several EYEBALL BATS – flying eyeballs with their Emblems on their back. The former attack with heavy, slow attacks and are best handled by stunning them with Rush or using flanking tactics, while the latter are relatively harmless until the moment they shoot a Fire spell laser from their pupils. Also appearing are Rabid Dogs from KHII.

ENCOUNTER: 2x Minobears, 3x Eyeball Bats. 5x Rabid Dogs, 4x Eyeball Bats. 2x Minobears, 1x Large Body, 6x Rabites.

MAX:
Want to go see what the big fuss is?
KAIRI: What else are we here for?

They run off into the woods after the others, with the title card for the DARK WOODS appearing on the screen. The "A" in "DARK" is shaped like the one-eyed pyramid.

The initial woods section is especially large, with several hidden chests. Here, the player can encounter a number of minor Easter eggs from the show, such as a small patch of upturned earth that KAIRI describes as "It looks like something was buried here."

Little does the player know, but the DARK WOODS are a traditional "Lost Woods" sequence, where the player can only proceed by following a specific path, which of course they do not know. The entire border of the room is an "exit" that leads further into the forest. Should the player come with a walkthrough in hand or with previous experience, they can hypothetically navigate the maze ahead of time, whereupon they will come to their destination (below) and encounter an Easter egg TONBERRY who says:

TONBERRY:
My lady walks the dark pathssss. Yesss, very clever.

It then snaps its finger and the cheating player will find themselves back in the woods where they started. MAX crosses his arms and says:

MAX: Aww.

It is far more likely that the player will go in one of the many wrong ways, which will cause them to arrive at the MYSTERY SHACK in the middle of the woods. There, they can interact with a few props (like Gompers the Goat) for minor prizes. Upon entering the SHACK…

The party find themselves in the dark. After a moment the lights turn on and the player finds STAN, DIPPER and MABEL PINES, shouting battle cries and jumping out at them with improvised weapons. STAN has a mop. SOOS stands in one corner, waving hello. The party flinches, only for the locals to recognize they are not Heartless at the last moment.

MABEL: Wait!
DIPPER: Hold on… you're not monsters?
MAX: No! No we're not!
KAIRI: We're—
STAN: Customers?

STAN drops his mop and runs over to his cash register. As he speaks, the camera adjusts to show some of STAN's many dubious wares, papier-mâché heads, eyeballs in jars, and taxidermied animals doctored to look like incompetent versions of Final Fantasy monsters.

STAN: You've come to the right place, kiddos, the Mystery Shack offers the best tours of the weird and wondrous for only 200 munny a head special during monster attacks.
MABEL: …Grunkle Stan, that's higher than your regular price.
STAN: Shut up, kid, it's insurance.

KAIRI and MAX step forward one at a time.

KAIRI: Actually, we're here about the monsters.
MAX: They're called the Heartless.
STAN: "Heartless?" You're telling me! They didn't even pay for the tour!
DIPPER: Stan, have you been showing the monsters around the Shack?
STAN: They seemed interested in the merchandise! …And the customers. …And me. But that's normal!
DIPPER: It's "normal" to steal people's hearts and eat them?
STAN: Dipper, there are some things your Great Uncle Stan still needs to teach you about customer service.
KAIRI: Ex…cuse me?

The locals look up to KAIRI.

KAIRI: We can probably help with the monsters. But we're actually looking for someone.
STAN: Missing a friend, kid?
MAX: Two. As for "friend," well… "sort of" and "no."
KAIRI: We're looking for a woman named "Elle"—
MAX: And she's probably looking for a really nasty Bandit.
STAN: Bandit huh? Hmm…

DIPPER, MABEL and SOOS all look accusingly at STAN as he ponders.

STAN: Can't think of anyone.
KAIRI: Look… what's going on here?
STAN: Well, that's kind of a long story.
DIPPER: We could start at the beginning! It was… uh…
MABEL: Well…
DIPPER: A really—
MABEL: —really long time ago.
STAN: I started selling "Calendars that Never Advance" at twenty bucks a pop!

DIPPER and MABEL help themselves up on STAN's counter, where they take a seat.

DIPPER: It all started when this weird guy showed up called "Yen Sid."
MABEL: He had a big hat, and robes covered with stars, I asked him if he was a wizard and he said yes!!
DIPPER: Yeah, the mysteries in this town aren't usually so forthcoming.
MABEL: And they aren't usually wizards! It was the third-best day of my life!
DIPPER: Anyway, long story short, we were working with Yen Sid, when Stan—
STAN: Hey, don't pin this on me! Pin this on your sister!
MABEL: Hey! This is at least half Soos' fault.
SOOS: This is probably true.
DIPPER: Wait, wait, hold on. This is nobody's "fault" if it's not Bill's fault.
MAX: Who's Bill?

Every one of the locals points at the exact same time to a nearby window. KAIRI and MAX look out, and we see a remarkable sight: a tornado raging not far in the distance, holding up a dark shape in its midst.

KAIRI: Is… that…?
DIPPER: An evil tornado?
MABEL: Holding up an evil castle?
STAN: Cutting through town and ruining my business?
SOOS: Eh, if you want to take out all the poetry, y'know?
Spoiler Spoiler Show
STAN: Bill's been ruling the town from his castle ever since he got loose.
MABEL: But the tornado only showed up this morning.
DIPPER: It's the first interesting thing that's happened in like, a hundred years.
KAIRI: Our Bandit?
MAX: Bet on it.
KAIRI: Could any of you get us out there?

MABEL begins waving her hand wildly.

MABEL: Ooo, ooo, pick me!
DIPPER: I'm going too. I'm Dipper.
MABEL: And I'm Mabel!

The twins join your party at this point. The two of them operate as a unit, sharing a health bar and essentially staying in the same location at all times. Dipper carries a bat for close-range attacks, Mabel a grappling hook for projectile attacks. They also possess a number of buff spells that are described in the Abilities screen as "Shield Relic" ("Looks like it came off an alien space ship?"), "Strength Tonic" ("Smells like black magic and hair.") and "Haste Syrup" ("You're pretty sure this is just soda.")

SOOS leaves for outside the MYSTERY SHACK, while STAN remains behind. The MYSTERY SHACK is full of things to explore. Stuffed into STAN's shelves, closets and corners are plush versions of minor enemies from each KH game: the Shadow, Dusk, Flood, Meow Wow and also a Chirithy plush from KHX. If the player searches these, the game will reward them with an Elixir.

The player can also speak to STAN.

STAN: Hey, what do you think of my summer hire, huh? Works for free, doesn't ask questions, and perfectly comfortable selling questionable merchandise! I'm thinking of asking him to stay on after the season, whaddya think?

Looking at the counter, one discovers it is staffed by a TONBERRY. This one sells the Mop weapon from FFVII (and also the one STAN was using earlier), about which the inventory remarks: "Taking a second look, this isn't even a very good mop."

SOOS is walking around outside the SHACK once the player leaves. He speaks in a text sequence.

SOOS:
You go ahead into the woods, doods, I've got to get a few things.
KAIRI: Do you know the way that used to lead out of town?
SOOS: Sure, just try the path between those two creepy trees over there.
SOOS: It doesn't work for us, but it's worth a try, right?

SOOS is referring to a path back to the ANCIENT'S MAZE, which is found here at the SHACK rather than in the WOODS where you started.

Stepping into the woods, DIPPER takes a few steps ahead.

DIPPER: The woods haven't been the same since we came under this curse. Mabel, do you still have the stone?
MABEL: Ready!

She pulls out a small, PALE GREY SHARD. MAX and KAIRI eye this with curiousity.

DIPPER: This stone will glow if you're on the right way to town. If it fades, step back and try to keep between the trees.

The mechanics are exactly as DIPPER describes them: the game has a "safe path" through the trees that the player must follow to move on through the forest. So long as they stay on the safe path, they will not be attacked by Heartless and MABEL's crystal will glow (it is hanging from her belt). If the player successfully clears the path, they will find themselves in a corridor and then once again have to navigate through a forest.

Spoiler Spoiler Show


Once out the far side of the second forest segment, we see the party arrive on a new screen. DIPPER steps forward.

DIPPER:
Okay…

The camera rapidly zooms out to reveal they are on a mountainous, dead-end precipice overlooking the town.

DIPPER: This wasn't the way to town after all.

We return to normal zoom. MABEL shakes her SHARD.

MABEL: I don't get it. This worked yesterday.

MAX approaches the ledge. In front of him is the TORNADO, with floating CASTLE just at the party's level, but far away.

MAX: Boy, we could almost walk there if we had a bridge.
KAIRI: Do you think your stone brought us to the location of the castle instead of the location of the town?
DIPPER: Hey, that makes sense! Uggh, but now we're stuck here!
???: Never fear, doods!

We turn back to the woods. SOOS is there, holding a BOX.

SOOS: Soos is here!
DIPPER: Soos?
MABEL: How did you get here?
SOOS: Instinct, doods!

He sets down the BOX.

SOOS: Also, I fell down a lot.
MAX: What's in the box?
SOOS: It's your way over to the fortress!
KAIRI: What does it do?
SOOS: Haha! I can tell you what it doesn't do: …

The camera cuts from close up to wide shot, but Soos just stares off into space, eyes gradually widening. This is apparently the end of his sentence.

DIPPER: I think what Soos is trying to say is… it's complicated.

SOOS snaps back to reality, his eyes back to regular size.

SOOS: That's right. Inside this box is the foremost in castle-raiding technology…

SOOS he produces the item and holds it over his head, both triumphantly and in a reference to Zelda.

SOOS: A hang glider shaped like a dragon!

It is a flimsy, rusted old thing, with marks on the aluminum that seem to suggest they've been bent both out and back into place, but its canvas seems to be hold and it does, in fact, depict a yellow dragon (specifically: the young wyvern from FFII).

SOOS appears behind the group as they are inspecting the GLIDER. He speaks to KAIRI.

SOOS: I am but a humble man, and pride myself in only a few things. One such talent is this… I always know how to spot someone who could handle an inter-tornado para-glider death-dive!

KAIRI seems afraid to so much as touch the GLIDER.

KAIRI: I… couldn't.

If anything, she looks more put off by the condition of the GLIDER than the words "death-dive."

SOOS: Shh-shh-shh. You may not know you have the skill, but it is within you, waiting to soar, through the tornado, at speeds hazardous to life and limb.

He squishes his face up beside hers.

SOOS: I am never wrong.

KAIRI laughs nervously.

KAIRI: Well, I guess I could give it a try?

At this point, the player is taken to a tutorial prompt, followed by a hang glider minigame. The game depicts KAIRI in the hang glider in third person, able to move on the X and Y axes. Their flight path is pre-set, and soon has them flying about the tornado, around the fortress, etc, as obstacles are flung at them. These obstacles include trees, debris, and various Gravity Falls esoterica like signs advertising Li'l Gideon, medium-sized landmarks, or gnomes. The player can also encounter Boost Rings, which will speed them up for a period. To properly complete the Journal and earn the gold Mickey stamp for the minigames section, the player must clear this game within a minimum target time.

At the end of the game, the hang glider crash-lands inside one of the fortress' windows.

Spoiler Spoiler Show
The party lands in a dark room, lit only by light coming in through both the storm and the window. They have landed in a pile, with KAIRI at the bottom.

MAX: …Well… that could have gone—
MABEL: No!
DIPPER: Don't!
MAX: …better?

Dozens of HEARTLESS eyes suddenly appear in the darkness around them in all directions.

DIPPER: Herrrrre we go.

ENCOUNTER: Depending on technical limitations, this will either be a tough battle fought in normal lighting, or will be a moderately difficult battle fought in darkness, with only the occasional lightning flash to illuminate it. Complicating matters in the darkness is a new enemy, the Magus (pl. Magi). This is Coronation of Light's spellcasting Emblem Heartless, a short, shroud-covered enemy inspired by the Magician line of enemies from FFII. Unlike the Magician, the Magus does not look very menacing, being about the height of a preteen and still not big enough for the robes it is wearing. The Magus casts variants of KAIRI's spells, including those she does not yet have, using various other Heartless as "Max." If left alone, they will attempt to teleport behind their target to scratch at them, an animation that resembles them tripping over their robes and falling down.

Before or after the battle, as necessary, there is an animation of torches lighting in sconces along the walls, illuminating the fortress properly. The party is in a room with a chest (an accessory for KAIRI), SAVE POINT and also the GLIDER. By interacting with the GLIDER, the player can choose to either transport back to the cliff (where the GLIDER is also available) or to replay the minigame. No matter where the player starts, the minigame is the same: starting at the cliff and ending in the fortress.

At the far end of the room is a large door, marked with a detailed image embossed on this side. The door depicts BILL CIPHER, reigning on high over the town of GRAVITY FALLS. When the player attempts to open the door, a cutscene plays.

KAIRI reaches for the handle on the door and finds it locked. She nods to MAX and jumps back to unlock the door with her KEYBLADE, which it does. However, when she steps back towards the door…

???: Do you know what I like about home invaders?

The party reacts with surprise and realizes that the BILL CIPHER icon on the door is talking to them, despite remaining perfectly still.

BILL: They have no respect for other people's privacy. They just walk in and do what they want with everything you pretend to own.

Suddenly, BILL CIPHER appears in the real world, flying and resting his hands atop KAIRI'S head.

BILL: We're like kindred spirits, here!
DIPPER and MABEL: Bill!
BILL: Hey Shooting Star. 'Sup Pine Tree?

The camera cuts to MABEL and DIPPER's sweater and hat, respectively, informing the audience that these names appear to come from symbols on those items of clothing: a shooting star and a pine tree. BILL begins popping around the room, interacting with the twins.

BILL: It surrrrre has been a while. Hey, how's eternity treating you?
MABEL: Eh, it got kind of boring after the first hundred years.
BILL: Eh, whaddaya gonna do? Me personally? I'm going to find the people who helped trap me here and spread their atoms across a six and a half mile area!

He puts his arms around them both and squeezes them together.

BILL: But enough about you two fun kids!
MAX: Hey!
BILL: Oh! Hey, Stopwatch!

He pops over to MAX's side and causes his helmet to fly off his head. MAX grabs for it.

BILL: I usually do this sort of iconography thing. I had to do a little work for yours, but it came out nicely. Whaddya think?

The hat comes crashing down on to MAX's head and bounces to the ground. MAX rubs at his scalp.

MAX: It's just fine…
KAIRI: Hey!

The camera cuts to KAIRI, who is fuming over the treatment of her friends.

KAIRI: Enough games! Where's Lady Elle?
BILL: Pffft. I work all day on a killer, nightmare dungeon and all she wants to do is try to harass my hired help! Who cares where she went to?
KAIRI: Hired help? …The Bandit!
BILL: Oh, you know her? She's a laugh and a half. I don't plan on giving her anything. And the best part is: she knows it! We just get to set up our inevitable betrayals and counter-betrayals and see whose pays off first!
BILL: [he coughs into his hand] Me.
BILL: It's fun, you should try it! In fact, why not? Hey Shellstar: how about you betray your little motley crew?
MAX: "Shellstar?"
KAIRI: [whisper] Long story!
BILL: After all…

BILL points to the carved door, and we notice an image of YEN SID embossed in the lower-right corner. He is casting a spell like a BUBBLE around the rest of the image (again: depicting BILL and GRAVITY FALLS), using a KEYBLADE, the STAR SEEKER, as a wand.

BILL: …you've learned from the best.

KAIRI glowers back at BILL, and MAX puts out and arm to touch hers in hopes of calming her.

BILL: But hey! Tell you what, kids? You've got free time, and I've got a dungeon just going to waste! So here's the deal: you try my dungeon. If you die inside: I win! If you manage to find your way out, I'll strap you to the wall until Starhat comes to get you, and then: I win!

The party looks at one another apprehensively.

BILL: It's the best deal you're gonna get, so I suggest you take it!

He snaps his fingers and disappears. However, even after he is gone, KAIRI continues to shake with anger, her eyes shut.

MABEL: …Kairi?

She is about to touch KAIRI's arm as well when KAIRI throws up both her hands.

KAIRI: I barely even know him! I…

She looks to MAX and MABEL, suddenly apologetic.

KAIRI: …I really don't know him at all.

Should the player investigate the door closer after this cutscene, they will see another figure supporting the BUBBLE from the opposite side to YEN SID. It is a woman in armour, casting the BUBBLE on the tip of a SPEAR.
 
Last edited:

KingdomKey

The Traveler
Joined
Sep 25, 2010
Messages
6,260
  • Retired Staff
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  • The Gambler of Fate
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  • Whirlwind Lancer
This is the best chapter ever! Gravity Falls! <3 Oh my gosh, you had everyone in character! Mabel! Dipper! Stan! Soos! I wanna hug them all, cause it was awesome. I need another chapter of this fast! xD I'm so in love with this right now because, I love the way Bill taunted Kairi about Yen Sid and the bandit. I'm also confused how to feel about Mida being up to stuff. Otherwise, it was hilarious when everyone was like, 'this could've gone better' and a bunch of heartless show up, and Dipper, oh my god, Dipper, you and that sarcasm. <3
 

Blackdrazon

Vulpes Chronicler
Joined
Aug 8, 2013
Messages
2,655
  • Taciturn Stalwart
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Sorry about the, uh, months. It's been way too busy to work on this, and it didn't help that I had to pay pretty close attention to the details this time around, and ultimately had to cut a lot that just wasn't working. Almost as much as got included? A lot of editing, is what I'm saying. Anyways, no promises of future updates, they come when they come if they come. I know where everything is going and even have several later scenes written out… I just don't have the time to write it, you know?

Anyways, this was mostly stuff I was writing while I was planning the world's mechanics and we'll only be getting to the bulk of the world after this sequence. The player would be able to experience it at any point during the fortress segment so it wouldn't necessarily be as obstructive as it was to write.

-------------------------------------

When the player attempts to go through the door after BILL's cutscene, they are able to do so without interruption. What they find beyond the doors, however, is no regular castle interior.

The party steps out through the door and finds themselves standing on a ROLLERCOASTER TRACK, overlooking a huge room playing host to a strange CIRCUS far below, complete with BIG TOP. The COASTER fully encircles the CIRCUS, and the player can get a rough idea of the place's layout from this location.

MABEL: Ooo! I called "twisted funhouse!" That was me!

DIPPER reaches into his pocket for money, which he hands to MABEL as she waits with her hand outstretched.

DIPPER: Darn it! I was betting on "traditional Escherian landscape."
MAX: I would have went with "nightmare-scape."
MABEL: Nah, you missed that one.

KAIRI is looking over the edge of the track, as if trying to find a way down. Just then, a ROLLERCOASTER CART comes up the track and comes to a slow and polite stop right next to the party.

KAIRI: …Well, should we take a ride?

The player is returned to regular play and attacked by HEARTLESS as usual. When they are ready, they may board the CART. The first time they do this, the party automatically arrives at the entrance to the big top, which is closed. Here, GRAVITY FALLS' mayor, TOBY DETERMINED, is working as a busker. He, like most of the NPCs in this section, goes unvoiced and appears in only text segments. Most such characters are barely animated to save on costs, and go unnamed, meaning they will only be recognized by Gravity Falls fans.

TOBY: Step up, step up, for the greatest show in this dimension!
MABEL: Whoa, hey Toby! What are you doing here?
TOBY: Why, I'm doing what anyone would be doing: promoting the sights and sounds of Cipher's Celestial Circus! And our biggest, most fantastic show of all: the Freak Show, right behind this curtain!
TOBY: If… only the show would start.
KAIRI: The show's not ready?
TOBY: Well, it's the darndest thing, but I don't think anyone remembers how to start the show in the first place. There used to be some sort of signal, but…
TOBY: Ohhh, don't worry about! You kids go take a look around, explore! There's plenty to do here at Cipher's Celestial Whatever I Just Said!

In his idle animation, Toby keeps gesturing as though gathering a crowd. He then points to the door as though he expects it to be open, and he is perplexed every time it is not.

If spoken to again, TOBY will add:

TOBY: Feel free to explore the circus! If you want to get around quickly, take a ride on the rollercoaster just behind you!

Using the ROLLERCOASTER allows the player to select from the various locations in the CIRCUS from a map screen. There is a ROLLERCOASTER STATION in each room, along the border. The player can also use this to return to the platform where we started this chapter, and from there, the SAVE POINT in the previous room. Should the player choose to walk, the CIRCUS is arranged in a segmented fashion around the BIG TOP. Apt players will notice a connection to the ANCIENT'S MAZE and CRYSTAL TOWER, but it is worth noting that the segments do not match up 1:1 and there are a different number of segments altogether – the CIRCUS only has five.

HEARTLESS attack in areas around the CIRCUS as usual. As all NPCs in this area are found tending to buskers' stands, these stands slam shut when the HEARTLESS appear and only reopen when they are defeated.

While the player is perfectly able to explore and solve puzzles on their own at this point, they must eventually discover a hidden area to complete the puzzles entirely. Entrances to this area exist in two zones: through it, the player will discover that the circus paraphernalia begins to recede, at which point they discover a dark hallway back into the undecorated fortress. This hallway connects the two entrances from the CIRCUS and also leads to another room through a large door in its middle.

If the player enters the large door, they will find themselves encircled by Rabid Dogs.

KAIRI: Heartless!

Fixed Encounter: 1[SUP]st[/SUP] Wave: 13x Rabid Dogs. 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Wave: 10x Eyeball Bats, 3x Magi. 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] Wave: 2x Minobears, 6x Soldiers, 2x Magi.

After defeating the enemies, a cutscene shows a Minobear spawning behind KAIRI, just in front of the door. KAIRI senses it is there, and turns around to cut through it with her KEYBLADE, defeating it, only for her blade to clash against another weapon: a blue, crystal SPEAR that has struck the HEARTLESS at the same time.

Both KAIRI and the wielder of the SPEAR jump apart, and we get a look first at the surprised party, and then the person they have encountered, who by their position seems to have just come in through the door. It is the person from the opening sequence of the game: an older black woman with grey hair, heavy armour, and a blue, crystalline spear. She also wears a coronet on her brow, an element from Enix's Soul Blazer.

KAIRI and the WOMAN stare at one another for a moment, before the WOMAN speaks.

WOMAN: [whispering] He did it!

Her face breaks into a smile.

WOMAN: Ha ha!

Before KAIRI realizes what is happening, she is swept up into a hug.

WOMAN: That old nightmare! I could have wrung his neck for a decade!

MAX and the TWINS look at one another in confusion. Finally, the WOMAN holds KAIRI at arm's length and gently sets her down, setting her hands on KAIRI's shoulders instead.

WOMAN: I have never been so happy to be wrong.
KAIRI: [awkward laugh] You must be Lady Elle.
ELLE: Your Highness, you may call me "Elle," or anything you wish.

We cut to black and fade back after a time skipo. ELLE is leaning on her spear, and showing her age in doing so.

ELLE: It's never been completely safe in the Realm of Light. Just because the light was reborn in the hearts of children would never stop crime… baseless hatred… those sorts of awful things. And all it takes was a bad attitude and a little magical potential to channel just a little darkness. It felt like living in a lottery. If one bad seed found one of the Princesses, and the whole Realm of Light might fall for good.
KAIRI: So you tried to find the Princesses?
ELLE: Yes. Yen Sid and I.
MAX: Geeze. And if the world's most powerful sorcerer can't do it…
ELLE: That's what he used to say!
KAIRI: How did you two meet?
ELLE: Oh, meeting was easy! I'm afraid the Bandit you're after right this moment is from my home world, so I met Master Yen Sid more than once. The real trick was getting him to explain what was going on without phrasing it as a riddle.
KAIRI: You're talking about Shinryu?
MAX: What's she like?

Lady ELLE shakes her head and sighs.

ELLE: She's a dragon.
MABEL: Ooo! Ooo! I like dragons!

MABEL pushes forward.

MABEL: Are we talking about more like a wish dragon, or something like a luck dragon?
DIPPER: I think she means more like a "burn your house and eat you" dragon.
MABEL: I like the ones that are small enough to sit on your shoulder!
ELLE: [laughs] A little bigger than that. She nearly crushed me under her foot when I was younger. I was off on a little adventure, thought I could "slay the dragon." If Yen Sid hadn't come…

ELLE harrumphs.

ELLE: She absorbs the souls of the defeated, leaves their bodies and hearts behind.
DIPPER: Can't say I've heard of that one.

He produces a large JOURNAL marked with a "3" and pages through it.

DIPPER: Would you say she's more of a vampiric soul-eater, or something more like a generic demon?
ELLE: Let's just say the process is... worse.
MAX: [shudders] How about we change the subject? How'd you end up here? I mean… ah…

He glances at DIPPER and MABEL. MABEL is commenting on something in the JOURNAL, and holds hands in front of her face like fangs. They are essentially distracted.

MAX: [whispers] Maze.
ELLE: Ah… haha...

ELLE looks whistfully to one side. We zoom in on her slowly, seeing something like stars of Light in her eyes.

ELLE: …When I was your age, I met a wonderful stranger who offered to take me out to see the world. We saw beautiful sights. There were pristine lakes and storms off impossible coasts. There was life in the most desolate of places and places where life burst in every inch and ever moment left you wondering if you had ever lived a day in your life.

We have zoomed in such a way that we are now framed with ELLE's face in one corner and her speartip visible near the bottom of the frame. ELLE seems to notice her strange, blue spear, which pulls her out of her moment of fugue. She tosses it gently to herself, smiling slightly.

ELLE: And I wanted to protect it all.

ELLE wakes up to the rest of the room, and looks back to KAIRI, not MAX.

ELLE: Let's just say… when I was your age, I went on a long journey to defeat the Darkness. And I haven't finished yet.

Seeing the look on KAIRI's face, ELLE attempts to force a smile.

ELLE: But I've done well by me. I can do no better.

ELLE looks up to break the tension, and points to the door.

ELLE: Long story short, I've come here to find Shinryu, same as you. But I keep getting trapped in these monster-rooms. I think the Triangle is taking my arrival personally.
KAIRI: We've got to stop her.
MAX: She's probably in that big tent in the middle of the circus.
ELLE: I'm afraid not.
MAX: Huh?
ELLE: Shinryu's not in the big top. I could sense that much: the Triangle is using the big top to hide the Dark Crystal of Air.
KAIRI: The Dark Crystal of Air?
ELLE: Yes. Cipher has already removed Shinryu's bonds so that she could make the tornado holding up the fortress. If Shinryu got her hands on the Crystal, she'd regain her full power. It's in his better interests to keep her out.
MAX: Then we should get to it first!
ELLE: Oh?
MAX: Yeah! You can stop the Bandit, and we'll protect the Dark Crystal of Air!
ELLE: Hmm. You've got a good head on your shoulders, Max.
DIPPER: And we'll distract Bill.
KAIRI: It's a plan!

The scene ends, and the player receives a new item: BLAZER'S TESTAMENT. This is added to Max's Journal in a new section, "Testaments." The BLAZER'S TESTAMENT reads as follows:

Blazer's Testament said:
"Like any weak soul, my heart has always stirred with darkness. It was that darkness that kept me from the Keyblade, but this is probably for the best. I could never sit at someone's feet as a student, much less someone who had been my equal and true friend. Still, I have found my own weapon to wield the Light, so long as it will have me.

Before I enter my new service in the Realm Between Realms, however, I must put an end to the demon dragon. Shinryu is the one black mark I will not tolerate on my record. I was foolish to chase her when I was so young. I went in alone, trusting in my own strength and hubris. I hadn't yet recognized the power of the Light to unite, to bring people together and strengthen them. After I learned those lessons, I never forgot them. From that day on I have done everything in my power to stay among the light, to shun darkness from my heart and soul. Once I've put paid to the dragon, I will dedicate my life to being the Light in the lives of others that I did not have in my own."
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