Copyrights: All characters, settings, weaponry, and magic in this story belong to Square-Enix.
Chapter 2: The Thirteenth Order
The interior of the building was large and gave an air of foreboding. Each hallway was long and the ceiling stretched high. There also seemed to be absolutely no shadows in any of the corners of the walls, or even below the glass tables. Much like the room I had been housed in, much of the inside was white: the floors, the walls, and some of the items that were fashioned to decorate the place and give it a bit of life. However, here and there, there were a few other colours introduced in order to “spice” the place up. Pillars that stretched at least twenty, or more, feet towards the ceiling were a stone grey, and there were also splashes of ice blue, square patterns on the marbled floors. Overall, the total appearance wasn’t one that was meant to be inviting. Though, it was mystifying and somewhat intriguing. Who was this group of people that dwelt within these walls and what was their purpose?
Led from my room –now, I’m assuming it was my room- the journey to meet these people, who I believed had brought me here, was a silent one. The tapping of our feet upon the marble floor could be heard echoing only briefly off the walls as I followed Axel down the long hallway. I didn’t say a word to him and he didn’t try to make conversation with me. This made me feel completely and utterly alone. I once again felt as though I was trapped; a prisoner of war. It was then I knew that I would never leave this place.
An eternity of wandering down the long hallways and up white, marble stairs finally led us to the end of a corridor. The fiery-haired enigma halted before a set of large, heavy looking doors before he turned to face me for the first time since we’d left the room. “Well,” he said unenthusiastically, “here we are. You ready, kid?”
Frowning, I gazed up and down the white, ominous doors. I wasn’t sure exactly what I should be ready for, but I nodded all the same and waited for Axel to open the doors. Grabbing hold of the iron handle, the man pulled the door open effortlessly and stood aside, allowing me to enter first. It was then that fear gripped my body; fear of the unknown. What was it that waited for me beyond those doors? Would there be some horrible test for me to pass, and if I failed it should I be killed? This was an organization, one that was never heard of before, and with good reason too probably. As these thoughts and fantasies ran through my head I stood rooted to the spot, just staring through the door into the unknown.
“Are you going in or what?” Axel snapped, bringing me back to reality. Shaken out of my thoughts, I glanced up quickly at the man, before forcing myself to step forward and through the door. If I was nervous before, I was intimidated now; in the centre of the large room was a circle of thirteen ceramic chairs with, what looked like at first glance, ten people sitting in them. Each person was decked out in the same black attire, I found without surprise. It was then that my earlier suspicion was confirmed: I was becoming part of an organization that I would not be able to back out of.
The door behind me shut with a dull thud as Axel entered the room, standing at my back. I didn’t acknowledge his presence; instead I surveyed the small group. Counting quickly, once again, I made note that there were ten people that occupied the thirteen chairs. The group looked to be male dominated with only one woman in their midst, and many of them looked to be in their near thirties and older. The only person who looked to be closer to my own age was a young man with messy, blue hair that covered the left portion of his young face. This would have lifted my spirits only slightly if he hadn’t appeared to look so unnerved by my presence. I recoiled inside myself, feeling unwelcome as ten pairs of cold eyes glanced my way. But there was no place for me to hide and certainly nowhere to run.
“Hey there, Roxas,” someone shattered the uncomfortable silence in addressing me. I looked up to see who spoke to me, and when my eyes rested on the owner of the voice I couldn’t help but stare in shock. Sitting at, what I had guessed, was the head of the circle was a man wearing an eye-patch over his hard, chiseled face that bore a long scar stretching across his left cheek, probably from battles he had in his earlier days. His one, yellow eye stared right at me with cold amusement and I had to cast my gaze away. This got a chuckle out of the elder man. “Well, come over here and have a sit, neh? Why don’t you make yourself comfortable?”
For a moment or two I didn’t move; too nervous to do anything. But feeling a gentle shove from Axel, still standing behind me, I started myself forward. I held my breath. I could feel all their eyes on me, watching every move that I made. I don’t know why, but they all made me so nervous. I was amongst a group of elite people and a part of me wanted to prove myself to them. Right now I was the outsider and I felt that I had to somehow prove my worthiness to them, in one way or another. Making my way past the chairs, I stiffly crossed the diameter of the circle towards the large, empty ceramic chair to the left of the scarred man. All the while, trying to ignore their glances, I kept my gaze upon that seat that seemed much higher than the rest. I didn’t think anything of it and when I reached it I prepared myself to sit on it.
“Not there!” one of the enigmas suddenly snapped. It was a man who looked like a snake. His voice was sandy and uneasily controlled. Startled, I leapt back and away from the seat. From behind me I could hear the cold, high-pitched laughter of the blonde-haired woman. I was too embarrassed to glance at her, so I continued to stare at the chair I had nearly sat in. I could feel my face flushing. “No one sits there,” he added quietly.
“Hey, take it easy on him,” I heard Axel say behind me. Tentatively, I turned to glance at the red-haired man as he sat down in his own seat between the man who resembled a snake, with blue hair and another young looking man with blonde hair that was cut short in the font, but kept long in the back. Though Axel’s voice was light, he starred at the enigma sharply.
Taken slightly aback, the blue-haired man seemed to relax. He turned his gold, yellow-moon eyes on me. “That is the Superior’s seat,” he said quietly, almost politely. “You may sit there.” He indicated to an empty chair to the left of the one reserved for the one he called the ‘Superior.’ That title stilled a lump in my throat. The name was metallic and severe; the Superior must have been a man who had great strength, swift, and cunning. From the reaction the scarred man had given me, upon sitting on his chair, an enigma that meant business and not to be taken lightly. I would have to be careful to stay out of his way.
Swallowing hard, I took a few nervous steps towards my own chair and sat down on it, seated beside the blonde-haired woman with the cold laugh. It wasn’t comfortable in the least that was for sure. It was hard and cold, only adding to my goose bumps. I had thought that leaning back against the tall back post of the chair would help to improve comfort, but it did little to help my posture. Though I felt extremely awkward in this position, as I gazed about the room I noted all the other members sat in the same manner, with their chests pushed out, their back tall. Eventually I would have to get used to sitting like this, so I decided I’d better start now.
“So I bet you’re wonderin’ why you’re here, huh?” the scarred man asked nonchalantly, after I was seated and somewhat comfortable. I said nothing so he continued. “We’re the Thirteenth Order; a group of elites whose purpose is to study and unlock the secrets of the Heart. You could say we’re Nobodies.”
That is,” said the man with the quiet-voice, “we are beings who do not possess Hearts ourselves. We aren’t supposed to exist: the Non Existent Ones. We lost our Hearts, a long time ago, when we first began to conduct our experiments, but we were strong enough to exist the way we are now; mere shells of the people we once were. Although we are still curious as to the mysteries surrounding the Heart, our goal is to one day reclaim our lost Hearts from the place we’d discovered all Hearts to be born: Kingdom Heart.”
For what felt like a good five minutes, though I’m sure it was only seconds, I sat in silence trying to comprehend all that the scarred man had told me. So I was a Nobody, just as Axel had said? I wasn’t supposed to exist. For that reason alone was why I was now a member of the organization called ‘The Thirteenth Order.’ A dizzying feeling descended upon me, and now more than ever before I felt at a complete loss. I wasn’t supposed to exist… I felt as though I was trapped in a strange nightmare, one that held me tightly in its iron-like grasp and would never let go. Over and over, I desperately told myself to wake up until I forced myself to face the awful truth: this was reality. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“This is a shock to you, I’m sure,” he continued, starring at me. I didn’t have to look up to know he was amused by my anxiety; I could hear it in his sandy voice. Beside me, I could feel the woman smiling in glee. She was enjoying this thoroughly, but I did not want to give her –or anyone else- that satisfaction. Trying to regain what composure I had left, I straightened up, glancing at each member quickly before returning my gaze at the man, who was indeed smiling with cold amusement in my direction.
“So,” I started meekly, “my Heart is trapped in… Kingdom Hearts?” It felt so strange to say.
“Well, not exactly. Your birth, compared to ours, was most unnatural.”
“What do you mean?”
“I am not of a position to give you that information.”
Now I was angry. “And why not?” I snapped, beginning to rise to my feet. However, I stopped myself in mid motion, seeing the warning glance from Axel. Gripping the arms of the chair I sat back down, staring intently at the demonic man. I wanted answers, but I doubted whether I would receive the ones I wanted to hear.
“You would do well to not speak out of turn, Roxas,” he said coolly in that controlled, quiet voice. His golden eyes narrowed in my direction, so that I once again felt small. “You are Number Thirteen and will not speak to I, Number Seven, in such a manner. Is that understood?” Put in my place I nodded forcefully.
“Be a good boy now, okay, Roxas?” came the jeer from the scarred man.
That demonic-looking man may have been Number Seven, but he definitely acted as though he was Number Two.
Once that was settled I was briefly introduced to each member of the Thirteenth Order in order of the highest-ranking number to the lowest. The scarred man, who was second in command, was Xigbar; able to control the power of Time he fought with laser guns. He had a strange accent when he spoke and it was sometimes hard for me to understand what he was said. Xaldin, a tall, broad man with long, black hair kept in thick braids controlled the power of Wind and wielded six spears. Beside him was a sallow-looking elder man with long, dirty-blonde hair. He had no emotion in his cold eyes. That was Vexen a man of science who wielded the power of Ice. Lexaeus was the name of a burly man beside Vexen. He had a hard, chiseled face with small, dark eyes; within him was the power of Earth. The young-looking enigma that had given me the cold glance when I’d entered the room was Zexion; his power was that of Shadow. Seventh was Saix, the man who resembled a snake. I felt a shiver run through me as I looked upon him. He was able to control the gravitational powers of the Moon. Then, of course, there was the fiery-haired enigma that was Axel. His features reminded me of a cat: he was cunning and sly, able to wield the power of Fire. Demyx used the element of Water and wielded a Sitar as his weapon of choice. Seated beside him sat an elder-looking man; his icy-blue eyes starred directly at me and he scratched his clean-cut chin as though he was studying my every move. His name was Luxord and I later found out he treated everything in life as a game. A mass of fluffy-brown hair belonged to Marluxia. There was an air about him that made me uneasy. I didn’t know what it was, but there was a gleam in his eyes that sought for power and domination of all. The twelfth, and only female, member of the organization was Larxene. Already I didn’t like her. She had a cold nature and found pleasure in tormenting others. Those were all the members of the Order except for the Superior and…
“And you, Roxas, are number Thirteenth. The Discovered Key. You are a very important member of our organization,” Saix said.
“I don’t understand.” Why was I such an important member of their group of elites? Other than the fact that I was a mere shell, just like them, there wasn’t anything incredibly special about me. As far as I knew I didn’t wield any weapon nor did I possess a special ability. What’s more, I had no idea why I was continuously referred to as the ‘Discovered Key.’
“Well, then perhaps this will allow you to understand a little bit better.”
Saix simple gaze Axel a curt nod and, begrudgingly taking his cue, the red-haired enigma stood up lazily. Puzzled, I watched as he sauntered in my direction until he stopped about five feet in front of me. What happened next greatly alarmed and frightened me. Extending his hands up and out to his sides, there was a clap like thunder and in seconds two large spiked wheels – Chakram- appeared in his gloved hands. Raising his head, he looked at me and I saw amusement flash in his aqua eyes. From what I could tell her was going to hurt me –or kill me- and he was going to thoroughly enjoy it. Frightened, I pushed myself up against the back of the white chair in a pathetic attempt to make myself smaller and maybe even disappear. Stepping towards me, the fiery man crossed his one hand over his chest and, taking another, swung downwards with the spikey-wheel. Time seemed to slow down, and it wasn’t due to Xigbar’s Time-bending ability. The instinct to live –to survive- awoke within me. In those moments before the Chakram hit me I felt a strange, warm sensation in the tips of my fingers and as I brought my hands up to block the attack something very strange happened. There was a bright flash of light and my hands grasped tightly around the handles of two large weapons, which I had crossed above me, blocking Axel’s Chakram. The metallic song of the weapons hitting sang throughout the room.
Grinning, the fiery-haired man took a step away from me, lowering his weapons to his sides. It was just a test –a rouse- to try and get me to make sense of my purpose within the organization. Attempting to get over my shock I lowered my dual-weapons to eye-level. They were very strange looking weapons for they both resembled overlarge keys. One was black as the night and looked cruel, a weapon born out of the Darkness. The other was the complete opposite: it was a white, angelic weapon that had beauty and promises tied to it. Each weapon was both, surprisingly, light and not a struggle to wield. As I gazed upon them in wonder I could hear the murmurs of my fellow enigmas around me.
“Now do you see, Roxas?” Xigbar asked.
“I see,” I started slowly. Clearly, I could see the weapons I held, but it still made no sense to me. “But I still don’t understand.”
“You’re not very smart, are ya’, sport?” Xigbar taunted.
One who knows nothing can understand nothing…
Those words echoed in my in head. I hadn’t heard them before, but they sounded so familiar, as though I had heard them once from a far-off memory…
Saix chuckled silently, closing his eyes and shaking his head. Boy, did I ever feel ignorant. “In time you will, Number Thirteen. In time you will. But for now, we have much work to do.”