Trust is [NOT] Resolute



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Hazen Gregory

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Reforge knocked at the door, giving a quick turn of his head both to the left and the right and a man opened it slowly. With Erebos circling around the block, before he emerged from the corner, gone. He looked frustrated, but it wasn't such a simple task to turn him in. He knew him and all that he'd gone through those few short years ago. Erebos tore down a wanted poster of Reforge, crumpling it up into a ball and casting it on fire before it dropped and rolled past his foot.

"Sorry to barge in on you like this." Reforge's eyes caught an eyeful of the little girl, he didn't remember her. He hadn't been home in such a long time, it was hard to recant the years here as well as the years that were missing from his memory. He closed the door behind him and the three of them walked forward "Oh?? So you and Kami had a daughter while I was gone?? She's cute!! What's your name darling?"

The man placed his daughter down and she spoke just once. "I'm Freya! Mmmmm!" sticking her tongue out at Ref.

Reforge took a step forward and she hid behind her father's leg and clutched with a tight squeeze. He watched as he put a soft palm on his daughter's head and stroked it. As Reforge dropped his hood, he sat down on the couch across from his friend. Without even looking at him, he was about to utter an incantation, graphing his lips but with a slight bead of sound.

"Reforge. Please, theres no need for you to do anything, anything. You're safe here, now just...relax. Please." he said holding his daughter against his chest as she began to tire from dinner.

In between them the tension of the air was cut down a bit. Reforge did as he was asked for once, and his eyes narrowed around the cloak he'd taken from the sexy scarred man in the badlands. Looking at his hands, the room started to brighten some and a tower of light passed through the floor and rushed over Reforge. He was warmed by this shower of light, they were memories returning. Ones that followed the master's message, he could see them all, again and for the first time, even that man with the scars taking the stage again. The helmet stuck out, the name he had known, but they were numbered and thats the important detail.

"
Reyzil Azzir having a child?? I never thought I'd see the day. With a name like that, who are you...really?" Reforge's eyes fell on Reyzil and on his younger daughter.

"Kambria and I have made our living here for a while now Ref, I'm just a well-informed former nomad. I'm sure you know this, and even if you don't Ref...the darkness came. It started with Destiny Islands, and it spiraled out of control after that." he leaned forward and brought himself closer, Freya was sleeping in his arms. "Reforge...I thought you were past this...the lightsides, your home breaking apart because you kids were curious, even losing your job to become a criminal. Did you learn nothing? Answer me Reforge." He looked at Ref dauntingly, and his grey eyes were telling him a harsh truth.

"Ughhh...no. No I don't remember anything, the last thing I remember was a conversation I had with the master. I came here, because maybe you can tell me what I can do. What I should be doing??" Reforge wiped his face, there was some dirt left from rolling around with Erebos. Without meaning to his friend did plan to turn him in. Some friend, but he remembered arguing about things that went on from others, throwing around names. "Try. Do you know anyone by that name Reyzil??" Reforge looked at him head on.

"You won't be able to do anything here Reforge, but I can point you in the right direction. Twilight Town. Theres someone else here as well in town, one of you. Take him with you before you depart and as for Try, thats the woman with the helmet. I last recall her appearance on Traverse Town and...if that light that just passed over you to go by...then Traverse Town is no longer in the realm of light." he looked begrudgingly onward. "Now go Ref. Kambria wouldn't want to see you in this kind of rut, move with purpose. She'll try to help you, so help her. Please."

He moved not even an inch and popped over, resting one hand over Ref's shoulder while the other was holding his daughter. That tap felt, the scene changed, and Ref was standing apart from another man. A portal of light forged and he pushed the two of them through it sending them to traverse across worlds.
"Nows not the time for you to be here...any of you."
he said, balancing his sleeping daughter in his arms and closing the portal as he turned.
 

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~- Confusion -~

Jay lost herself in the whirlwind of combat. It seemed like it wasn't ever going to end. Before she realized what was going on, one of the girls grabbed her and got them both out of dodge. She reverted back to human and clung to the other girl, turning it over in her mind and taking in the scent of the other. It was pleasant, and it reminded her of someone. Jay was a little startled when they came out somewhere, she carefully looked around, trying to avoid tugging on the other girl's hair. She stood back as the other girl went to talk to the one that had been with them, and she heard the call to run.

Startled, she froze like a deer in the headlights at the rush of water. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for the worst only for a few minutes to come out fine.

Opening her eyes, Jay mumbled an oath under her breath as her damp clothes clung to her. Walking over to the others, she listened as introductions were made. Lucrecia was the one that had helped her survive, and she was about to say thank you when she froze.

The name rang a bell deep inside of her.

Blinking a couple of times, she listened to the other girl's words for a couple more minutes. She wasn't sure how she felt about introducing herself fully, just because of the power she'd be giving them. Although she was obligated to answer Lucrecia's questions. "The name's Jay, and as you know I can shapeshift. I'd rather not give much more info than that, but if you'd really like Lucrecia's I'll do it." She knew it wasn't very helpful, but her self preservation instincts were begging her to give just that info.
 

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There was a thick feeling of friction felt between himself and Saebyeolbe. This sensation as he spoke, seemed so distant from Eth, but similar to Shiki, he was dismissive to most of this. He prattled, talking with a sharp tongue to which Eth allow to roll off of him disallowing himself to actually feel any of it. He had to be cold, isolated, the only clear cut means of attaining anything.


Alone.

Solitude.

Halmarks of his values. It was no secret, he advocated a heavy ambience of cutting to the chase. This was the line, cross it at your own risk and so he speculated he was at wits end with these people in the past, he couldn't know without memory. As Saebyeolbe clasped his hand, this was drastically different in stark contrast from the vivid imagery and his feeling of disconnect from what Shiki had shown him.


His muscles tensed.

Lungs tightened.

Unable to blink or draw his next breath.



Everything about this felt wrong. His started to flatline while he was still alive across multiple seconds. What was he feeling as his body started to violently shake while clasping his hand. It felt like he was losing more than just time, he was losing his mind. Seeing it all, feeling every waking second feeling like an agonizingly endless array of torture. All the damages had time stamps, all the pain the surged through every trace of memory of pain that was inflicted upon him served a purpose and to Eth he could see a vivid and clear image. This man was walking history book. Eth could physically feel every modicum of force against his own will assimilating everything, quite literally EVERYTHING and his mind too like light, was jettisoning through all of it like a copy machine pushing out more and more and more printed copies.

If he could scream, the space would be lit up, but his throat muscles were seized. Frozen, he was drooling from under the hood as if to say he'd been fried. The beatings. The burnings. Whips. Steel. Raze-lighters. Bullet wounds. Compounds of immeasurable force were felt indefinitely, but in reality he was completely fine. His brain was registering all of this physical force as actual and it didn't bode well while frozen.

Finally.

He saw himself, with Shiki.

Dealing a grave blow to his skull.

"Thats enough."

It was numbing...

Eth couldn't even feel the resolute's hand leave his. Paralyzed. Laced with shock, and violently shaking, and he was dying if not dead already. Body going into a state of shock vibrating as no other part of him moved. Just how long had it been since he'd drawn a single breathe. He couldn't hear anything after a while, just a white noise, so if Saebyeolbe said anything he didn't catch a damn thing. It felt like a loud shattering of sound after a couple of seconds and his heart beat, a very loud draw of breath as Eth gasped for air and he broke forward collapsing. His entire body was shaking liking a frightened child, every instinct, every atom fighting with everything within just to stay alive.

So this was danger.
So this was the feeling of holding on.​
The feeling needed to survive.

He wouldn't find it daunting anymore than necessary. This passion, this experience, was this what it was all for? His role was looking for a way to reverse a harrowed end, and these other people by his initial impression just seemed to be practically useless. Had their ever come a time in his life where he'd actually felt threatened, even retracted any manner of damage, physical and the non, neither existed. His childhood, even his birth where things that dwelled on little and a life of complete isolation created a sole self-sustaining methodology of independence and to rest confidence in others, always proved fatal to his cause. He didn't want to be trusted by another, for reasons of his lack of experience in sentimentality. But something changed him, maybe it was them that did it and he'd forgotten it.

"Tell me where she is. Where everyone else is. Stop dicking around playing whatever game you're playing and just get us all on the same page, I don't know about you but if you knew the master at all, this isn't what we need to be doing. Memories or not, whether you trust me or not, there are still worlds that call to us for help. Please Eth! Tell me where Shiki is!"

Either way this would not do, not like this.

"Don't. We can both walk away. I showed you everything, now grant me what you know and you won't have to worry about me doing anything stupid. I'm just insignificant to someone like you anyway, right? Untouchable means virgin doesn't it, removed from sin, hell even untainted. What would you know about what someone like me has had to endure? Tell me that while you're at it."

He just wouldn't stop talking. It was like listening to a fly as he lay there on the spatially distorted floor. Shut up.

"You...just...stop. Let me...think for a second..."

The light started to pool around Eth, it almost went unnoticed by him earlier but when he was frozen in place, all the swords of light had completely shattered. They scattered like dust in the betwixt passage between there, which would likely take this talkative man to the person he was looking for. He'd been on a harrowed end, so what would another hurt right? Either way, Eth was coming around to his feet rather slowly, with a million different things running through his mind all at once. To be truthful, there were tears fostered behind the hood that couldn't be seen. He kept loading images of sitting alone, for hours, while no one came, no one for miles. How being in cities, towns, and still feeling a sensation of being a million miles away from life itself around him. Unable to escape what he'd been born into, born into feeling, this was the closest resolute capable of understanding something and to think that a touch could ground him. When his heart stopped, all he could think was that he'd die a failure, alone, and pitifully in this place and every feeling he'd been unable to tap into just surfaced all at once.

So he had to thank him some how.

"Twilight Town. It's where she'll be...but before you do anything else Saebyeolbe..."

Eth gripped his chest, to confirm his heart was beating and it was. He did remember something, something he forgot, and it took almost getting himself killed to finally remember, even if that flash was an instant. He had someone...someones, something beyond this life he'd charade for as long as he could remember. It broke him, more than he'd ever thought and so forth came the sharp edge of his resolve.


The Body of Time.
♫

The curvy outline of yellow that traced his exterior thinned and shifted to blue, in an almost neon flare. He exploded from his position destroying all manner of light-sensitivity and created what was well beyond his standard nine-meter range to expand to fifty meters, inside of a blue swirling dome. It was pressure, weight. It was even heated, but a lukewarm sensation, through which you could sense there was no hostility or pressured aggression. Eth's hood blew backward and the man stood there in raven-colored hair, gray eyes, and a keyblade that was barely visible, except for the blue light brushing against it. He cried, uncontrollably and more so for Saebyeolbe, for someone...he'd almost killed if what Saebyeolbe's pain was anything to go by. Maybe he just didn't remember, maybe his scars couldn't show him images, but when it overlapped, and mixed, this was Eth's mercy, his remorse for past sins and he'd see that his transgressions towards Saebyeolbe would be paid in full.

His resolve had overtaken the space entirely now and his light touched everything. Saebyeolbe was being lifted off the ground and let to drift along inside of Eth's resolve. A portal opened vertically above him and his tattered robing was being lifted and rewound, to it by no coincidence ended back on his person from that point in time where he removed it, it traveled backwards and ended up back on his person. Eth raised his hand and charged the resolute with a buff that'd help him pass through that harrowed end safely.

"[FONT=&quot]Thank you...this is the last favor I can do for you...travel safe.[/FONT]"

He whisked him through the portal and it collapsed after giving him ample time to impede through it's very end. Eth's eyes were fixed on that position for a while and he started to really look at everything in the surrounding area. His body was still shaking a tad, and the cold sensation of tears were felt against his lashes, cheeks, and tracing the edge of his chin. A single breath was drawn inward, and so drastically did the radius of the blue light shrink from a super-dome to compress inward into himself and towered upwards as a pillar of light itself.

"I know where I need to go next now."

He would set a path to the keyblade graveyard's badlands.
 

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The memory that sought them from another world afar was bright and fleeting, but in its folds, Shiki recognized the dread and gloom of a light going out, of the loss of a heart. Another world was gone.

Already…


She remembered Try. The Echo. The red suit and the mysterious helmet and the straight forward attitude. And behind the light heartedness, that which is left unsaid and unresolved. A defiant source of light, a knot of scars hid in the shadows. While the rest of the resolutes where hooded, she caught a whiff of familiarity in their shapes, and at least one of them stood with her here. Then there was him. Saebyeolbe. The only name she knew since she awoke. So assured, so welcoming and open. Yet he was lined with every shape of pain. And behind his warm smile, the kind patting, there sat an expecting and all too familiar gloom. She knew them, but without the memories to tether the knowledge to it, they felt like shadows of who they were to her. Incomplete and vague. The recess that should have had the memories of three years past was a constant gnawing need that called to be filled. Slowly though, the gap was shrinking between what she knew and what she remembered.


"Why did I even bother asking?" The other resolute uttered, his voice was laced with disappointment.

"Shiki. You and me? We're worlds apart, both in history, and in what we've both forgotten."

She couldn’t contradict the notion. Even from that simple touch, she knew that their paths were nothing alike. Like a compass with a needle caught between two opposing directions. They were almost at the extreme of one another. How peculiar.

She wasn’t surprised at his reaction. She merely watched him, quiet and almost contemplative. She didn’t expect anything really. His need to know her almost seemed masked. A thing born out of duty rather than the want of true understanding. He was here physically, he had a purpose and he moved to it, but his heart… Shiki felt it was like a path untrodden. A thing of seclusion. Locked away. Untouched. Observing but not experiencing. It felt like it never knew the carnage of being right in the middle of the storm.

"You came to this castle likely to find answers. Me? I can't be trusted, why? Because even after what I've been shown, even I can't understand you. "

How could she expect him to see? How could he being to understand?

He had already put himself out of reach. She could never really trust him, but, and she almost smiled sadly at the thought, in distancing himself from everything, he might as well have distanced himself from his own heart.

What a waste…


"This was likely a mistake."

She sighed and crossed her arms, watching him make up his mind. Yes. Yes, it was.

He threw his hood on again, and turned his back to her.

"Just forget I was even here, or that I even exist and resume your role. Resolute #2. There’s nothing you can tell me...." Not now, she decided. You’re not ready for any of it yet.

He opened a portal of light and seemed about to walk through when he stopped. For a moment, he wavered. Shiki raised an eyebrow, wondering.

"This place is deserted, nothing but records about a special nobody, previous sanctions of an organization, and empty rooms from top to bottom. That’s all I learned while I was here. I won't waste anymore of your time."

"The most I can tell you, is to head for Twilight Town if it even still lingers, my investigation here referenced that a great deal of information was moved there. I'll make this abundantly clear now. We're not friends, we're not allies, just people that want to see an end to this nightmare of a reality to suddenly wake up to. So this distance is necessary...for now."

Her gaze followed him as he conjured another gate of light to her side.

So what are we? Mere pieces on a chess board? Bondless fighters? Dispassionate instruments?


Shiki felt as if she was a thread being weaved through a canvas to complete a larger picture. She wondered if all of the other resolutes felt the same way. She wondered what picture the Master has already seen. Was it the one she kept getting glimpses of?

"Ð pronounced Eth. The Master's Number Zero Untouchable. Maybe next time if circumstance change Shiki, I won't have to be so stand-offish, but got a role to fill." He announced before, he vanished into his own portal of light. So that was Zero.

“May your heart be your guiding key…” She whispered to the silence.

Eth, maybe in your own time, you might begin to see…


Maybe.


Her boots came to an almost abrupt pause, before she walked into the light. Her eyes widened for the briefest moment and seemed to gain a brighter glint. As if she suddenly realized something. And then, strangely, she smiled a quiet and secret smile.

You knew… You knew this would happen.


Master, How far ahead have you seen?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Twilight Town

Then…

♪

The two of them sat atop sunset hill watching a dusk that would never come.


It was the highest vantage in town save for the Station tower. As far as the eyes can see, greenery spread everywhere, a coat of tranquility brushed over hills upon hills of land. The sky had few clouds, but they were like prized pieces set on a stage, reflecting off the fiery gown of reds and oranges worn by the setting sun. A spontaneous twirl of light forever caught in the sky.


An eternal twilight.


“
Why did he have to go and deny everything?”

The Master of Masters clad in his signature black coat lounged freely on the wooden bench, his arms behind his head. Shiki leaned against the fence holding a stick of sea-salt ice cream to her mouth, her hood was down. She was a bit taller now than when they first met.


“He wasn’t ready for the truth.”


“
Is that why you didn’t want him to know?” She turned and looked at him. At this angle, she could almost see what’s beneath the hood. Well, almost.

“You see kid, ideally, it is better for people to come to the truth at their own time. When they think they’re ready for it.”


“
But, there won’t always be enough time.”

“Then they won’t understand. At times even, never.” He tilted his head towards her then, finally ignoring the scenery, “You can tell the truth all yaaaaa want but People will only be people. They will choose to see what they want to see.”


“
I...” She lowered her stick of ice cream, her gaze growing distant.

“It is a choice few would ever brave, Shiki.” Again, the sincerity in his voice caught her off-guard. She could never entirely tell if he was serious or joking, but the few times he spoke that way, she knew.


“The truth is a terrible and precious thing. A waning glimmer in the nights of the souls. The weight of some truths could tear souls apart, kill more than one’s heart.


“You may be able to understand, but do not expect people to be able to grasp it, let alone know how to handle it.” He went back to looking at the scenery. All nonchalance and carelessness. She smiled at him then. The Master was so weird sometimes.


“Are you going to finish that?”

________________________________________________________________________________________


Nothing is like before…
 
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Overkill...again. With grit, he stood down and his eyes traveled over Eth's body, heavy, even dropping. 'Oh..' a bead of sweat dropped in slow motion, as he held his defensive stance. This concern for the woman Shiki was an overwhelming factor in his form, perhaps he was missing the mark a tad. Exceptional at reading faces, but that damned hood left him only with the weak crack of his voice. It softened, noticeably -- Saebyeolbe released a breathe of relief, he wouldn't have to retaliate against this resolute.

Zero huh...I'm enamored.

"You...just...stop. Let me...think for a second..."

Through and through Sae smiled, his body normally so tense and on the edge as his disfigurement was indicative of -- was the shock that he could actually relax. As caution began to waver and rest was brought forward, he closed his eyes briefly and plopped to the floor to join Eth who was still laying on the floor. Guess I talk too much. The thought crossed his mind ever so brief and he scratched his nose before smiling. If that was a problem, it was a good problem to have, many things he'd taken in stride over the years as it was necessary for a much more potent over-arching purpose that had been carved for him.

He'd redacted his earlier brusque matinee and decided finally. He watched him stand as did Sae, and the weight of his feet, body even began to rise. The information forthcame and the scarred had a whimsical grin that was sincere in place. His lips turned, and he mouthed a thank you as he was almost positive he wouldn't be heard. The space became filled with it, Eth's resolve if he had to guess, and the thin line that separated the two of them had become clear. This burning itch in his chest, a feeling Trace felt that inspired so much rage and with good reason. His eyes averted as he was floating in the brush of his skin exposed.

To his surprise his cape the knight had given him had returned, teleportation? Some manner of movement? He didn't really understand, but he didn't question it all the same. The image of Eth had changed for Saebyeolbe personally, as if to say he'd intentionally hid how he looked normally from others? Your growing up, a lost kid finding something to hold on to yeah? Theres still hope for you yet. Without much else to go on, Sae finally said it.

"Maybe I will trust you after all Eth...we'll talk soon." a thumbs up from under his clad and he vanished into the light.
 
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Dari

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The fog thickened. The rain fell. The thunder roared. Komaeda dozed.
♫


Without a care in the world. The bubble of light was something of defense mechanism that activated on it's own without the consent of the resolute. As he floated there, the consequences of falling asleep on the job would prove fatal, for EVERYONE ELSE to pay. His proximity was at max, the effects would amplify based on all living things inside his range. If he could hear anything, anything at all that the young woman said maybe he could prompt a proper introduction, but this wasn't to be.

The whip of thunder grew louder, and the movement of fog was starting to quickly encompass the entire plane. The serene look of the sun that towered i the distance was hiding behind clouds creating a dreary and dimly lit ambience. Lightning collapsed and hit a random spot, striking a tree like an electric pylon. It sparked catching fire, and the wind picked up and blew towards the group from Komaeda's position. He slept soundly, and with the waving of the wind, the storm started to kick up, the volume of the fogs overall visibility was outright ridiculous.

Again. Lightning struck, this time hitting Komaeda's orb of light on the nose, and wouldn't ya know it? PING. Deflected. Worse, it split and broke into multiple directions like light passing through a prism. A weaker beam of lightning shooting for Iontis, Lucrecia, Jay, and Try simultaneously. But these untamed pivots of nature would vanish before reaching either target and the ends at which they stopped, vanishing in thin air?? A moment like this would create a lump in your throat to only realize by no feasible means naturally possible would the lightning strike the tree. The tree, now on fire, was being brushed along by the wind and then came the fall.

TIMBER!

A crashing thud! Hitting the sphere of light again, and just like the lightning, CRACK! PING! You guessed right, the flames fanned all around them and soaked onto the grassy meadowlands. There was movement from inside the ball, a hand reaching for is back thriving in pain and finally to wake. The light bubble dismissed and he plopped inside of ring of fire as the world was quite literally burning while being doused by the rain. He opened the right eye while leaving the left one closed, careless mistakes like this...quickly bring about this kind of misfortune.

"Goddamnit. Unlucky of me yet again...heh." he sat scratching his head, feeling the rain putter against his hair. "I just brushed it after waking up...ughhh." he flipped his hood and sat there looking at his peers, just as confused, yet even he managed to deceptively smile.

"You." he stood and pointed calling his Serendipity to his hands. "Show me more of that glorious light of yours. I want to bathe if your resolve. Hah! What say we be friends? I mean it must be better than all of this happening right? Please don't render me unconscious again...please. It isn't even very polite either, how unlucky..."

He must've looked like a demon inside of the fog, flames, and rain as the only one closest to him at that point was the one who tackled him in the first place.

"Oh. Call me Nagito. Your friend with the helmet throwing out random names, totally delusional. I've never met any of you let alone know any of your names, but ya must be Resolute if the world's have ended yeah? What a joyous reunion total strangers! We can save the remaining worlds together!"

He placed the keyblade into the soaked grass. Given enough time with his totally candid monologue, the fires had died down and the rain had started to let up from it's insane downpour to a light trickle. You'd speculate if there was any connection to this man who calls himself Nagito and the weather sure, knock a guy on his ass, and suddenly nature itself wants to kill him, but in reality everyone around him end up being the ones to suffer. This was the fun part, figuring it out, because he'd always dance around the specifics, every time you think you've figured out how it works, something else just pops up like a thorn in the side. Totally unlucky.

"Think of what the master would do if he were in our position." he said cupping both his elbows closed in a contemplative stance as he phased out to think about ft he'd just said before his airy nonchalance whiffed the thought.
Likely leave no one alive if their light was too weak. he thought to himself.
 
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There were few things that truly phased Try. Monsters devouring humans like ants gnawing on a worm, bodies mangled by blades and magic to the point that it was easier to recognize them by smell. It wasn't something she took pride in, but it was difficult to frighten her at all when it came to physical dangers. With that in mind one might know that her quivering hands that shook like a wet dog in the arctic weren't doing so due to fear. No. The boom of lightning and the embers of a plain on fire inspired an entirely different feeling within her, one that surpassed whatever anxiety the bolts of lightning that threatened her could give. Her body was telling her she was on a battlefield, it was telling her to hurry up and get to work.

She clenched her fists to cease the shaking and looked at Nagito. His tone seemed awfully calm considering what had just transpired, and he failed to mention anything about it. Was he in denial? Was he unaware?

...Did that even matter?

"Nagito then." She said, filing his face under another name. It felt just as right as the prior, and she honestly didn't care about what may or may not be on anyone's birth certificate. "Before we do anything we need a base of operations, you see..." Her stomach growled as if on cue. She looked away from him and into the distance. "After all." She continued. "We'll need to rest at some point."
 

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She broke silence and I was alright with this.

"I'm not suggesting we braid each other's hair, but it's a start Jay." I said with a rather haughty upswing.

You would think things would improve, but no no no, much worse things happened. That bully from before was watching the man that towered over me and even Try who was really tall herself. As I could see the clouds roll in, the sky dimmed, the fog got even harder to see and I started to worry some. When the lightning started to flash in the sky, it struck the sphere of light faster than even I could move. Breaking into traveling beams and in the rain that soaked grass, it could've fried me in an instant but it short stopped, whiffing and connecting to set a tree on fire

"Wh...wh...." my words never came, my head spiraled.

I shuddered as if frozen in place for a mere moment, before I was forced to run. A huge jump backwards as the tree fell directly on top of man inside of the sphere of light and wouldn't you know it. Just like the lightning, it was the tree that took the punishment, but we were the ones who paid. As the fire spread in what felt like an instant, i stopped in my tracks as it blazed a wall in front of me. It may have been raining, but the heat stroke I'd get and forced tan wasn't fun for my pale skin.

When he got up, it just...gave me chills you know? I couldn't explain it, but he sounded...like a complete lunatic. The more he talked the more I just wanted to freeze everything I had planned to do and just...punch the living shit out of him. This kind of chattiness, the way he moved words around just to me felt so strange and really eerie. Not enough to reasonably be aggressive, but he was just giving me chills. As the rain started to douse some of the flames and fog was slowly letting up. I walked over to the downed tree and shuffled through the branches, before plucking fruits from the trees. I tossed one over to Try after her comment about eating, and parted them up giving a few to each of them.

"It's maintained it's fruit at least, a little roasted." trying my best to keep our heads, we needed a break.

I dropped to the ground and proceeded to take the first bite. Soft, but crisp in texture and there was something of a juice embedded. Nectar? A slight sweet taste, but I couldn't be sure. Very similar to a plum and mango hybrid. I tossed up a free one, and looked at the smoking tree, then the dude with the glider who still hadn't said his name, then Jay, then Try, and finally...the weirdo who called himself...Nagito. That makes five of us...yet this worried me some.

"Thrown into a world thats already ended even before we realized it. Is this really the way it is now..."
 

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The softness of a bittersweet memory.


"Again?" Sae sat up on the hillside, staring off into the distance as a head rested on his lap.

"Shhhhhhhh." a voice trailed from over his shoulder, hooded. "Don't want to spoil the moment."

The master's shenanigans as per usual, accompanied by a much shorter woman, with violet bangs.

"You.." he paused, the person in his lap rustled a bit, he needed to be quiet. She raised a finger to her lips to shush Sae and he simply nodded.

"The master and I came looking for you two. Must've gotten lost talking about whatever it is you two discuss."

Saebyeolbe scratched his nose briefly trying his damn well best not to fidget. "What was your name again...?"

She gasped and the master placed his hand over her mouth before she could sprawl out a shriek of audacious offense. "Put a lid on it for now. Hey Morning Star, you mind waking her up? We've got a class in 10 minutes with the locals that I'm personally teaching, all of you attending is MANDATORY. Don't make me have to come after you both..." he professed while patting the other woman on the head. "Chop chop."

The two vanished down the beaten path and there was a roll over pinning Saebyeolbe to the grass, the woman lingering over top of him. She smelled in kind of the autumn air with a tint of lavender. The lily lilacs that were her eyes, arms rolling down to caress his form and hugging tight.

"You keep doing that...and I'm gonna be the one thats in trouble here." Saebyeolbe smiled and patted the woman's head, cute as always. There was a long period in which they just lay there.

"You ever get tired Sae?" she inquired eye wide, arms folded across his chest and staring into his eyes. "You've got so many scars now...more than from when we met...yet you just keep going. How do you keep going? Living with all of this hurt?" she traced around his chest, roaming her hands and finger to print across the groves and disfigurement. It would alarm anyone, more so, the softness of her eyes caressed even more fondly.

"The master told me a long time ago, sometimes necessary to suffer so that others may live. No matter how thankless your deeds seem, your contribution matters, your pain undertaken was not for naught, that worth can be found in this pain. So I live, not becaushe mood. e I'm unafraid of pain, because that very thought that I can still fear grounds me in the beliefs I've affirmed myself to." he said in a fairly windy sentiment.

There was an aggressive brush against him, a provocative move she made on him and it was a thing to appreciate about her. She was tiny, but she knew where his weak points where, no scars could make him immune. As her fingers ran through his hair, there was a break in mood. An object dropped from the sky up, thumping atop his head. A soft fruit perhaps, it was her doing.

"Fresh from the market, your favorite Sae. Plums!"

It was a fairly serene gesture and the bets were off. Looks like he'd be late to class today.


~~~~~~~


If only things were like then. The bleak landscape is all he was ever greeted with, even this place...had fallen.

~~~~~~~

Hatred in His Veins [Trace's Memory]


"URAAAAAAAAH!" A loud roar seered through the air.

Two keyblades clasped against each other, it was woman to woman and there was a rattling going down between them.

"Vi what are you doing you moron?!?! GET AWAY FROM THAT THING!" Trace railed cladding himself in a cloak of darkness and dark rolling on a horizontal slant to tackle the woman. His mind went blank as he was strung up underneath a man's arm and even further back from his position he jumped from and tossed to the side like a rag doll.

"Stand down. Hybrid. Tch..."

"Jeez kid, don't go belly up now. We aren't done yet...oop." Calpurnia twirled her trident and cut Vrivianne a glance. "Cut loose for once. Its why I turned you remember?"

"Its either you restrain them or I erase them Shiki. We can't just have these aberrations of heartless and human running wild the world's current state."

"FUCK YOU! Elitist scum like you is the reason these worlds are changing what do you know about how we've suffered." Trace was virtually screaming with disgust.

"
Nothing. You're a threat, what else do I need to understand to act against you before you threaten others? See where this leads you, Trace was it? Right into a firing squad of resolutes here to push back the darkness, heartless, and in between are no exception. Thats fate."

"NO! IT ISN'T!" This wasn't his normal shouldering of madness, this was anger. Anger that threaded over the cracks of his inner threshold transforming into an un-subdueable wrath and potent rage. His yellow eyes were tinted red and he was burning up inside. Calpurnia had never seen that look before and she knew he was going to do something stupid. His cross he bore, drawing from it his chainsaw blade it revved and he cackled in pure rage. His most potent darkness running along the chains as he dove forward again. "YOU CONTROL YOUR DESTINY. GET READY TO DIE, THATS YOURS!"


"Trace what are you doing! Dante stop him!" Cal started to panic, but there was already a response from the woman.

"Already on it Cal." the young girl said while she was already in motion.

There was a soft tap to Trace's chest, it was soft yet cold at the sametime. The setting changed, and a forced hand, Vrivianne assisted in their flee, rounding them all up by moving in between points she set with her markers. They were removed from the field, and the darkness surging off of the hybrid indefinitely and without rest weakened the chains to the point he flexed his muscles and shattered them on contact.

"Damnit. DAMNIT! Why are we being hunted like animals??" He scowled forming his hand into a blade and channeling the darkness to sharpen like a knife as his palm chopped straight through to free his Queen and his Rook. A fist came and lodged itself within his stomach and his body jerked forward. "What?? What was that for Cal."

"
Look I get that your angry but self-control Trace. You heard what they said...two others wiped out one of our bases. We have to take them seriously, what if Vi wasn't around to bail us out next time hm?"

It was unusual for Calpurnia to be in a state of preaching to him of all people, but she had a point to be made and he writhed at the thought of either of them succumbing to these resolutes as they called themselves. Sparky brushed past Trace's leg to hop into Vrivianne's arms and his heartless owl companion Bray, landed on Calpurnia's shoulder.

"This isn't the time to fighting amongst ourselves. We can't give up willows keep to them, this place isn't exactly a harrowed end so they'll want to come here."

She stroked Sparky as she sat in a chair next to the door.

"Then lets make it a harrowed end."

"Whoa wait, what? What did you just say?? Have you lost your mind Blake??"

"No. Not yet, but this fortress needs to stay a fortress, they wouldn't dare come here if it's already taken by the darkness." the more he spoke, he started to bring it back inward.

Trace was in ire, the situation pushed them to the brink and as Anti stirred within him. From across the room, he could feel that even here, where they were normally calm, he and Dante were restless. Fighters, abhorred to humans that dared to threaten their very existence, and they'd stop at nothing to sustain what they'd taken for their brothers and others like them, without the human element involved. Trace turned to Calpurnia and pressed her hand and she rolled her eyes.

"Don't get me regretting my decision to stay...you said you would protect Vi remember? Don't forget that...yeesh."

He kissed her forehead, noting that both of their eyes were red and the dance of red electrified tendrills sprang from their backs and eloped. As the darkness rushed and approached, Trace turned to Vi and denoted the keyblade was still in her hand.

"Lets turn the world over to our extended family Rook, Queen, lets go." Trace started to fade out of Sae's mind

The door closed and the darkness of the memory faded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Context was important and this was among the first times he could feel it. Twilight Town really wasn't the same as he vaguely remembered it. The darkness inspired treachery, the winds seared and tore through the air. The Morning Star Rain could feel the light that belonged to Zero surfing across his entire body.

"So you're here then huh." A smile permeated across his face. "I'll find you, and perhaps the peace I'm searching for."

About the darkened town, where street lights and small spotlights of lights scattered about. Feeling the resonance of Eth's resolve, it almost felt as though over time the effects were diminishing, if not rather rapidly. His eyes cut, and he jumped an expansive distance, and from the streets came shadows, shadows upon shadows filling the roads with yellow eyes. As if the world were sending a message that ran deeper than Hollow Bastion's atmosphere to "Get Lost". His eyes widened as the number stretched out indefinitely.

"You've got to be kidding me..." he said taking a moment to exhale.

 
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~- Moths -~

Jay remained neutral at Recia’s response, he knew she hadn’t been implying that type of thing. It was actually why he’d answered in the first place! The hair on his neck stood on end as the scent of a brewing storm reached his nose, his eyes narrowed to slits in answer. Nothing in the sky said there’d be rain, but he believed his nose more. A moment later and the weather flipped, so Jay didn’t react to the sudden change. The lightning didn’t bother him, it was a part of nature. The sound of lightning striking the tree had him hopping backwards, doing a handspring in the process.

Landing by Recia, he resisted the urge to sneeze at the smell of smoke. It burned his nose and eyes, he almost drew on the rain only for the storm to vanish as fast as it had appeared. Bristling at this fact, Jay focused on the man that had been protected from the weather. He thought about saying something only to be distracted when Recia offered him some food, taking it he listened as the conversation resumed. His eyes showed the wolf form he was about to take, he quickly determined the fruit was safe to eat but he didn’t touch it. He’d save it for later.

He heard the comment about the Master, and he sent a side glance in the direction of the original speaker. “Probab’ knock our heads togeth’. Tha’ how he was...I think.” Jay mumbled, even as he tried to call up a memory to back up his claim. No matter how hard he tried the memories eluded him, he leaned back and gently tossed the fruit up and down, thinking.

“Sorry, but whose home is still here?” He knew he could be labeled as a hypocrite by someone but he didn’t care. Glancing at Recia, he tossed the fruit to her and barely kept himself from teasing her. Jay sized up the other Resolutes as he thought, I need to watch her, but how do I do it?

Jay leaned toward Recia, sniffing her as he tried to memorize her scent. His cheeks grew warm as it registered what he was doing. He jerked away and nervously tucked a strand of hair behind his ear, he mumbled, “Sorry Recia.” He picked at the hem of his pants, refusing to make eye contact. Biting his lip, the state of the worlds circled into his head once more. How many safe spots still existed? How are they supposed to save the worlds? I wish you were here. Maybe than we’d know what to do. He grumbled mentally, spacing out for a moment. He also didn’t notice that he had started to shift into a fox, so he had a second pair of ears and a tail.
 

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Keyblade Graveyard: Badlands

Power.


When was it last that Eth himself had to flex his strength, a man that was absent in mind body and soul from connection. The burden of responsibility and duty is all he knew for so many years. When he was young, he sat in isolation as a relic of obscurity and complete lack of acknowledgement. The surrounding area in which he grew up were abundant with nobles, avaricious and greedy with their noses to the clouds. A child, a teen, completely invisible to the concubine of the wealthy and powerful. Isolation in childhood translates hard into your adult life, a building block of your psyche that isn't so easily removed.


♫
He remembered every waking second.

He remembered every moment.

Woeful, forgetting if not numbing that "pain".

Re-ignited in his chest thanks to Saebyeolbe.


He feigned a light that traced over the desert, a graveyard of key blades. So many had fallen here, an irrevocable piece of history rest here. This place, this lingering remnant, was the last piece in his speculation to provide the answer. His foolishness, vain sense of pride where he forced additional isolation, feeling a need to somewhat be more remorseful. This unwitting arrogance, declaring that he was not worthy of being trusted when in reality, he was afraid to be relied on, only knowing what it was like to be invisible...but what kind of person was he in his missing memories? Did the other resolutes opt to change him at all...? He needed emphasis. In the distance, atop the mesa he'd moved and came across the knight kneeling in place as Eth approached it.

I must...Protect this place...cease!

Eth's footsteps came a complete halt. HIs brow shifted, eyes narrowed, it was definitely it. The lingering will of one of the most famous wielders of the keyblade in a long dead history. To defeat this lingering spirit is to condemn this place to the darkness, but the cost could mean dooming other worlds. No one else could do...it had to be him.

Leave...Final Warning...

It tightened it's grip around it's Earthshatter Keyblade, but Eth didn't falter. He needed the power that only this figure could provide all of them, but if no one could defeat the insurmountable challenge that was the Lingering Will. The pressure pushed outward, a domain of golden colored chains from the defiant mind that'd be worthy of Resolute, encompassed and separated them from the dimension they were standing on. Slowly rising, the armor was cape-less

The area of effect of his Body of Time began to shrink drastically and compress against his very skin before funneling outward in a burst functioning somewhat differently this time. Time travel, but through the memories of the lingering remnant itself, he saw Saebyeolbe's attempt at battling this figure valiantly, but even it could not be defeated, and many eons prior to that encounter which was recent of it's isolation and ironically, he had to stop.

"!!!!!" he was alarmed by what he saw, "M-master...? You were here??"

A thrust poked through and the earthshatter broke his body of time like a butcher cleaving through a slab of meat. He reacted immediately bringing his Ethernal to cover his mid-section to parry. The knight's aggression was to be taken seriously, there was a skipped beat in Eth's chest, anxiety, well that was definitely a relatively "new" feeling to him.

This isn't a contest of speed to him, this was a battle of light and which was more stalwart than the other. His blue colored blades of light started to purge into the fabric of existence. He watched as it's keyblade had begun to transform from Earthshatter to Ends of The Earth right before his very eyes and deflect Eth's blades to pinched from all angles. He'd given himself some distance, Eth hadn't walked this entire field yet so he couldn't manipulate his advanced form of movement just yet, he threw his keyblade directly towards the knight as as it went to deflect and swing upwards, Eth locked the timing down. He brought himself to his keyblade as it was completing it's full-swing animation and stopped time for a fraction of a second to swing down and shatter the helm of the night and it fell over.

Blades pinned into it's back, pressing it to the floor and Eth stood over it with Ethernal propped over the helmet. He raised his keyblade holding the helmet on the end of it and dared to learn the secret they all could make use of.

"There it--" His eyes started to fill with white, and he'd collapsed just to the right of the knight he pinned down.

There were footsteps approaching and the sound of dragging of an encumbered piece of equipment. "It's too soon for you to be here Eth. Go home...to a really angry set of hybrids. I'll keep this keyblade of yours as collateral for the time being"

"To your credit you guessed right, you were the only one that could've beaten the lingering will, but there more thats to happen, a goody two shoes like you doesn't need to go ruining the darkness feast. A last minute play is more...appropriate, more worlds need to falter and die."

"You...are you...him..? That move...wait! Stop! We can end everything if you just work with--"

"Not my orders. The master didn't see this far into the future, don't go meddling in history where you have no business, thats against the rules Et--"

A shoulder hit into the stranger's chest as the lingering will broke the binds from the swords and elbowed the stranger, and proceeding to lock key blades as the stranger danced backwards fighting one-handed holding a box in the other hand. Eth's keyblade was being used as a defensive tool while they fought, and Eth just looked forward, still somewhat paralyzed from whatever dismantled his movement from the hooded assailant.

"Damnit Terra, I don't have time to tango. Sit boy!" He swung his other hand around crushing the tin-armor with the box and jumped forward towards Resolute Zero. "Lets hope someone comes along to save your ass, I saw it with my own eyes, your powerless on a harrowed end, especially without this keyblade to escape one!"

Eth reached out to reclaim it, but there was no response to his call and it didn't move. A kick cam from the stranger and the resolute was pushed through a portal of darkness this time.

"Next stop. Realm of Darkness Ethy." he dropped the box and sat on it for the time being. "You've been cheating this entire time...you'll need to suffer for a while before I give this back to you." he said staring into the eye of another world at the end of Eth's Ethernal keyblade. In the other hand black flame turned into metal and he gripped his own entrusted to him by the master.

"We've spoken so little about the traitor...well even I don't know who it is. We don't need time lords running around doing whatever they want skipping chapters now do we? Luxu out, sorry to rough you up Terra, I'm just doing my job and acting on my own accord based on observation."

He buried his foot into the suit of armor's back a while longer before putting it to sleep and ceasing it's movement. There was another lose end that Luxu needed to take care of, but everything was a guessing game even for him. The master left him with so very little to work with, it was dangerous given Zero had already made contact with him, number one, and number two, but there was a chance to draw the others into their tasks if he could prevent anyone else from coming into contact with him. His hood loomed overhead, and Luxu looked upon the empty suit of armor one last time before snapping his fingers and a flush that bended reality returning the field to it's normal state with the armor in it's kneeling position, now holding The Ends of The Earth Keyblade instead of The Earthshatter.

"Try kills Traverse Town. Shiki gets her hands on some unknown letter. Saebyeolbe inherits the memories of an outsider that knew two of them...and now Eth nearly does the unthinkable. You really couldn't see it all Master...nothing could've prepared us for this. What are the foils doing to help the main roles anyway...?" Luxu pondered and rubbed his chin under his hood. "Bets on Komaeda to set them straight, with that wildcard resolve...anything is possible."

The Realm of Darkness

Stranded.

Falling wasn't something he was used to doing but he fell, and fell...and fell for what felt like an eternity. The floatiness of the kick, as he reached for his chest the twinge of pain he felt was real enough. He'd been knocked off course, and turning to his underside he noted.

"I'm really here...trapped here..." Eth said but to a more human. His hand felt empty without Ethernal, and no beckoning he tried would bring it to his side. Had the power been lost? The goal was the same, the resolve and role he'd been given had not changed, so what was the explanation for this interference that separated him from his weapon? The master didn't give him, or in a theory he'd speculate later, any of them their key blades, but defining their resolves from Omni was his doing...so how was this possible? "Luxu. Was that you...the one I'm supposed to keep tabs on...why would you send me here...without stopping me from learning about the--"

Eth stopped abruptly as he finally landed, and he touched the softness of the sandy white road. Pylons in the distances with a reverse trapezoid smoothed out shape, with
jewel like indentations that flickered stretched as far as the eyes can see. The true realm of darkness...well this was definitely it...and escape would prove difficult without his keyblade to create a path between worlds. Truthfully it was explained but when you know something as definitely typically speaking you never think beyond the explanation after a while.

[Fourth wall break right here]
[HR][/HR]
I think the reason this probably doesn't work normally here of all places, because the realm of darkness itself is the first "harrowed end" or rather what a completed harrowed state would be defined as. Harrowed Ends exhibit unusual anomaly specific to worlds, but those spaces still exist within the realm of light as an access point for the darkness to freely expand without necessitating a transmat, basically needing a point where the darkness can travel to release more grandeur darkness. It would mean to bypass a world's light you would need darkness to exist inside of the world's walls in order to bring it to that location. With the abundance of harrowed ends that loom around lingering remnants the forces of darkness can simply push and push until the darkness forces itself unto the world and it will do so until the world is consumed. There were files that discussed this study in depth where Eth's lie was carefully placed with Shiki as that wasn't her concern, it was his. This theory was proven earlier in that the other group is actually safe on High Ground which by the very nature of the world's fog, protects the current team from being invaded by an overwhelming source of darkness currently.
[HR][/HR]
He looked into the darkness and began to walk down the road as the sky was covered in perpetual night forever it felt and as he trekked along so too spawned the shadows. Reaching to his side, he had no way to fight them...he did have that unique trick learned from the lingering will...but would that really prove useful here..? Shifting his eyes to the left and the right, even behind him the heartless had moved quick and blocked his last point of exit.

"Looks like...I'm just going to have to trust it..." he said staring at the edge of the long piece of white land, as if he were on a bridge. He took a deep breath, growing even more anxious as they drew closer and moved like rabid dogs, he jumped over the edge and fell even deeper into the chasm that lay stretched before him, diving deeper.
 
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and Re: Trust is [NOT] Resolute

Darkness was an understatement. Reforge landed, with a tumble and he tapped the black cobble stone as he sat inside of a well of light. His tumble was short, and he reached for his head to keep it all intact. "Twilight Town huh?? What happened here?" It then hit him, he realized the other person that traveled with him through the same exact portal landed somewhere else. Anti-climactic, but Reforge had to figure out something or another.

"Geez Reyzl...why would you send me here of all places??" he rolled his eyes and spoke nearly inaudibly under his breath. He'd activated his scan, and did a very brief sweep of the landscape with the use of his spell, panning over the landscape, architecutre, and even the creatures here. It spanned a quick seventy meters or so, and to his surprise and delight, he'd found someone he'd met earlier. He tapped the cloak he'd covered himself in, it was definitely the same guy, scars and all.

Fortainbras and Proginoskess appeared at the mere thought, their existence were two of a kind, tender and under his Mystokinessis they hovered about like an orbiting moon at a fixed distance. He licked his lips and sprang forward, sending his keyblades to exhibit that he wasn't just a mage to end all mages, but combat excellent. The dance the brother keys did was an elegant tango, as they lay waste to the heartless that plagued the road, and it was when he moved on the outer rim of the well and was submerged in the pitch black road, the darkness crawled.

"We meet again Scar'ry dude. I remember you from fighting that chick in the helmet! Soooo bad ass! You look like you could use some help??" he hummed, as the sound of his keyblades ripped into the heartless, his aura amplifyied their attack power. As he took a step, there was a sharp tug at his leg, it was the darkness. Reforge winced, he didn't understand what was happening but the darkness was creeping up his leg slowly. He looked at the other resolute, covered in some aura and he looked perfectly fine. His eyes quickly diverted all around as a heartless brushed into his back and knocking him to the floor. He didn't understand what was happening, but he looked at the spotlights and moved closer to one to watch the darkness screech in agony as the light vaporized it around his leg on contact.

"Oh?? Well that was unpleasant, seems like the world wants to ruin our fun hm?? Bet."
 

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Iontis stands up and walks up to Nagito and shakes his hand. "I was in thw wrong. My apologizes. I'm Iontis. He looks at Lecrecia, Jay, and Try and ponders what to do next. There was a mention of finding a base of operations. From his perspective, most of the worlds he flew on by looked inhospitable and not enough of us to fend off indefinite attack from heartless. This place was no exception to that observation. The unnatural weather, the many dilapidated ruins dotted along the region, and the lack of life here didn't make it feasible to call this place home or rest for that matter.

"I apologize but I see no other need being here anymore. Although it may be good to stick together, it is starting to get too crowded for my tastes. I'm sure you four can manage without me. I'm heading off. Until we meet again. Take care." He
gives everyone a handwave. Iontis summons his keyblade and throws it off to the side and conjures his glider. He hops on and jets off in a spiral to give himself momentum. He flies off and a flash shaped like a star and a twinkle sound could be heard. While in space, Iontis looks around to see or focuses on any memories that may pop up giving him clues to his next course of action.
 

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[The Realm of Darkness]
#10



You just never know what to expect anymore. I can't tell you how long I've been here, how many minutes, days, and countless hours that have gone by but all remains in stillness. The heartless here, are among their most powerful and natural form and this I knew fairly well. No light from the outside could escape under normal circumstances, and trust me i've been looking for the exit since I awoke and to no avail. What's the point of a keyblade that lacks the means of tshowing us the way out? The man that I called my master was express in his words

"You don't want to land there, you may want to look for the realm of darknesses' edge or brave being corrupted and following the heartless through a dark portal if you're that desperate to escape."

It was typically pretty straight forward an ask of anyone marooned here. Shotty half baked attempts were on the way, doing nothing wasn't my way of doing anything. I could feel the coldness that looked here, the lands were barren and the rocks formed ridges and cliffs. I looked up, my ears twitching at the sound of tattering threadings, and I spotted a body in free fall. Gripping at the Crown Rosarie fastened to my neck, i initiated a short prayer for safety, to guide the falling star to a safe landing.

As if the realm of light had been listening, it's trajectory shifted slightly and careened off course and smashed into a dense set of rocks not far from me. I broke into a short skip and run and progressed forward towards the crash in the middle of the realm's base floor. The heartless leered, rising in their alertness and scurrying about after me. Thats right, they didn't know any better anymore than they knew who and what I was. Left with a memory front and center to point fingers at, the master and the need to find someone with an odd name. All bets were off, I had no way of knowing this falling star could very well be them.

"Whoa! Cal did you hear that!?"

I stopped the second I heard the sound of another voice, behind a rock, a small woman bearing a keyblade suspended from her hip.

"Why are you yelling Vi..." another voice was heard, somewhere coming from the right before another woman, holding a trident and a heartless dog shuffled along behind her.

Not my favorite squeeze to be in, the tint of their skin and shade of amber in their eyes with a faint flicker to crimson, this wasn't something the master talked about. What the hell were these women? These...things, were starting to climb over the patch of destroyed rocks where someone had fallen.

"Oh my god...Vi...it's him!"

"What do you mean him? Him who?"

There was a roll of what seemed like a marble, after a few swift bounces. I'd dropped a little present for the women on the other side of the rocks, nervously contemplating if this was the wise move. Their senses seemed much sharper than I'd initially realized, the dog was the first to react letting out a loud yip followed by a string of pants. It leapt towards the tangerine sized block of light I dropped as if it'd found a new play toy.

"Sparky, don't play with random things...again, what are you talking about Vi?? Who's this gu-"

Flashbang.

I placed my shades on as the other side of the rocks became quickly flushed with light a mild disorienting radiance that quickly engulfed all of them, even the girl atop the wall looking into the pit where the body fell. In a blaze, I jumped up and over them all, bounding them all with a leap and landed squarely in the gap and giving a shove to the woman looking in as she took a slide further into the light. There was a man here, couldn't quite see him, but he was dressed like a master and his hood was down baring a brunette's hair and a hurt expression of vulgar pain. Cringing some, I threw one arm over my shoulder and pumped my thighs to quickly carry him down leaving a second flash bang to go off as I escaped with him.

"Getting lost out here in the realm of darkness. I was beginning to think I wasn't going to find someone else human out here."

He seemed to be coming around, he was heavy and I certainly wasn't the strongest nor did I plan to carry him the whole way. When I felt the load lighten, I saw his legs move and he eased on his own before stopping, looking as if he wanted to say something.

 

Dari

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Well damned be the lighbearers, alls fair is fair. Nagito flicked his hand through his hair, there was a certain confidence he found tickling in all of them. How lucky to not have been directly hit by a bolt of lightning, how lucky for them to not have pissed themselves, how lucky to not die from inhalation of all this carbon monoxide being washed away by the purification of the mist that settled the High Ground. Even luckier than him? That may not be far off, a smile and sense of warmth flooded his form as he gripped by shoulders and caressed himself.

The woman with the helmet. You ever hear that old saying about the nail that stands up gets hammered down? When the hammer in this case was trust, suspicion, paranoia that was rather unsettling. He danced on the memory of watching this woman brutalize another man already covered in scars, and to that effect his suspicions did no shake.

His ears twitched, one of them was deciding the depart midway through the short woman's little downward spiral and chit-chat he was less than savoring. The behavior that dangled around her was already one his polite and somewhat complicated demeanor was determined to figure out.

'How did you know my name? If no one remembers each other or why our bodies are...older?'

And just like that he decided to leave them be, talk about anti-climactic, Iontis was his name or so thats what he said.

[OOC: Quick side note, the number five through ten do not know about the existence of the traitor, the master never told them specifically about him/her/it]

Collectively he felt uneased, his pretense was what he leaned on and he hadn't quite formed his intentions just yet. The master left him with an impression that he was to rely solely on his heart, or for him personally...his first instinct. No matter how fanatical he truly was at heart, that was his first go to. It wasn't so much the people to rest his trust in, but the light they carried and it's magnificence and warmth would be tested, and make them even stronger. So he'd be their foil to bolster their growth, thats what his heart decided on.

A smile emerged and he stroked the woman's helmet.

"Nice to meet you, your fairly tall but from what I remember...at random of all things, you can fight. Delighted to have you in our company."

perhaps he was being a bit too invasive, extremely close, a competent smile and he finessed his alluring charm.

"I still don't know who or what THAT is." he said pointing to what was now the resolute doing their best impression of male? Who the hell knew, he was genuinely confused from observation from afar. A bead of sweat lightly trickled down from his brow, the fear of the unknown they called it.

"Anyway. You want an introduction right?" he said to the shortest woman there. "Nagito. A resolute, I'm Number V; The Harbinger, I'm not a woman so I don't have a cup size to give you, but last I remember it was about-- Well, thats a bit too intimate of a statement to make, we only just met...I think we only just met?"

[HR][/HR]

It was like getting hit by a truck. He cratered, barely moving with a mild twinge of pain and his head shaking. The tumble was the worst of it, and it was echoed with the sounds of voices, if his vision wasn't blurred he'd of called out to them. Seemed like an equally hilarious roundabout for resolute number zero today, this ongoing theme of virtually being without what separated you from the rest. He moaned weakly holding his head, realizing his hood was off again today, and someone crawled up into the pit's top and their look on their face was flushed with surprise.

"Oh my god...Vi...it's him!"


"What do you mean him? Him who?"

Eth could hear a dog's faint barking, his eyes squinting barely open but not taken off the young woman.


"Sparky, don't play with random things...again, what are you talking about Vi?? Who's this gu-"

And just like that, a flash of light which disoriented to woman he was looking at, himself to a degree that he couldn't deflect outright, and some came in and scooped him up, slinging his arm over their shoulder. He felt himself being carried along, vision blurry, this person was definitely short and his light state of consciousness and pain that traced through his back from the fall.

"Getting lost out here in the realm of darkness. I was beginning to think I wasn't going to find someone else human out here."

He managed to stand well enough on his own. Did she say someone else "human?" it registered with him as he released a soft sigh. He cautiously lifted his arms up and turned, his resolve was solid and he opened his eyes. Nothing happened. Time wouldn't turn to his will despite the range, and with light to bend to his will, it was so very weak and fragile and so was he. His palms began to glow with a weak yellow light, nothing like the transversive blue light from his body of time before. This realm of darkness, this harrowed end of all beginnings, would be the bane even against his resolution to strive to for an answer.

"You have my gratitude, my name is Eth...are you...a resolute?"

It was starting to come to him now, his attention was catching up and it was clear he'd seen this person's face before. That memory, thanks to number three's foolish antics in ending a world, they were brought with an image of the past he was searching for. Eth couldn't guess this one's name off the top of his head, and...gender? Umm, well that was tricky as well, he couldn't think before he felt the pitter patter of raindrops collecting and starting to come down. Looking up it seemed...appropriate, taking to his side he pulled out his signature umbrella and opened it as he looked up at the dark clouds. The other resolute moved closer to him as a light trickle quickly became a downpour. He flipped his hood over and turned his head around.

Two women were standing at the top of the hill as a crack of thunder filled the air and it aggressively rained even harder.

"You the one that took Trace from us?" the one he heard called Cal, the woman who's face of the two he didn't see before. She seemed a bit mift, an upturn in her lip and Eth's eyes were a bit concerned. The area at which she gripped the trident was more rustic as if it were being burned at her very touch. You can imagine him having a wary sense for his safety right then and there.

"I'm sorry, you have the wrong person. My friend and I got trapped here and--"

"You gonna tell us the trust you? My friend here remembers you face. You sayin' you don't remember us or what you and that bitch did??"

Now he was worried, the realm of darkness was not the place to fight anyone, he wasn't even sure he could summon blades to defend himself and Luxu had by some mysterious force, abducted his keyblade from him. His heart lumped into his throat and he took a step back pulling the other resolute slightly behind him as he held his umbrella.

"You'll have to take it on faith. I don't know who either of you are, and even if you allowed me to explain you'd probably get even more upset. So what's going to happen here, you tell me..."

"Part of me reeeeeeeally wants you dead, but I wanted him dead and now I don't know where he is. If you really don't know us, if you aren't who we think you are...you shouldn't have something we explicitly remember. Blades of light."

'Shit. I really don't know who these women are...what the hell did I do master..?'

A ball of darkness formed at the Trident's tip and blasted Eth directly into the chest knocking him on his back and dropping the umbrella.

"Not gonna defend yourself huh? Concentrate really hard, blades of light. Say it with me, then show me the blades."

This continued for several minutes, and the resolute was keeled over shaking sporadically thankfully the robing protected him on some level from the darkness. Luxu said it, here his resolve was next to useless if not already non-existent. The woman looked on daring not to interfere as Eth protested.

"You sure this is the guy Vi, I don't remember'm being so...weak. He can't even defend himself, should I just let Dante eat him..?"

"Weird...I'm almost positive he's the same person...he even smells the same, but he's lacking a lot of power. We're not getting anywhere if he can't even prove who he is! Just kill him if he doesn't know where Trace is!"

"Kill...me...?"
Eth said weakly turning over just barely and facing them, spitting blood to the side. "I've had...one hell of a day...I'm trapped here with two psychopaths and the heartless...can this get any worse...?"

He was grabbed by his throat and lifted upward, there was a burning sensation on the ends of his coat as the rain poured, cooling it immediately. The trident was sharp, and was rammed through his ragged mass, and he was tossed aside like a rag doll to droop and go limp.

"This was a waste of time...that weak guy couldn't be him...and he didn't know where Trace was either...ugh, whatever. Lets go."

His heartbeat was faint, but he crushed a potion in his hand to barely hold onto what vitality he had remaining. Once the two strangers were gone, the other resolute stood over him, holding the umbrella. His muscles were fatigued, his back still hurt, all things he'd never experienced before...all happening now...and it was hell.

"Feel free to get your humor and witty comments off your chest now while I'm down and out...this is the fate I deserve...for my choice of solitude and isolation..."
 
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Try's blank smooth visage remained still as Nagito touched her helmet. For someone that claimed to not recall meeting her he was awfully familiar. One thing was clear, he certainly had no idea that she despised being touched without her permission. And yet she knew his face, he was a Resolute like her...

Like... Her? No, that might not be true. She was loyal, that was for sure. For all she knew Nagito was a filthy traitor, a liar.

"My name is Try. The third Resolute, The Echo. In spite of my title I'm not going to repeat myself, so don't forget it." She spoke, her voice clear yet her tone as distant as the space between a mask and a pair of eyes searching for a trace of emotion in it.

There was an awkward beat of silence. Try leaned her face to his level, leaving little in the room of space between them.

"Nagito, you wouldn't happen to be a traitor, would you?" She asked the face reflected in her helmet.
 

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The thought crossed him sour. Hearing the voice of another familiar, finally pinning some semblance of whom he was. None other than the man that'd nabbed his cloak on the keyblade graveyard. Dialating to the back of his head, he felt it his eyes follow and turn as he made eye contact. He moved his arm, it felt...lighter? Speedier? The light that swam around him from Eth, was starting rapidly dissipate. Saebyeolbe wasn't normally this mind boggled but he felt it, a lust for darkness burning from Trace, snuffing out Eth's light, as if to say he sought vengeance against the man.

"Your definitely the same guy from then, does everyone have a ticket to this harrowed end or--"

"Another one? Kill him."

"Huh? Who said-"

"Possess him first, then we'll kill him."

Sae stumbled back into the shade of the perpetual darkness outside of the well. He could feel Eth's light, completely evaporating and the corruption element of the world spreading across him. This could prove fatal, but with the strings pulling at him from within, his legs were no different than boulders. He started to sink, as the seconds multiplied and he could feel her slipping through the cracks.

"Shiki...another delay came up, sorry to have you wait longer~" Saebyeolbe could see a diminished return in his visage, the other resolute was a blur, and soon Sae himself had vanished from the face of the world, consumed.

There was a spark of fire, and it burned around him, brushing off the darkness. He floated in a medium to which he didn't recognize, but he stilled his heart's panic and swam through the limbo he'd found himself trapped in. Was this still twilight town? Perhaps a darker part? Questions typically were outside of his playbook, minimal thought and process fell on his shoulder along side acting. It felt close, the closest he'd ever been to that sensation.

Death.

A close ally of The Scarred, he'd sent many to their own deaths, and the fear was never far from him when it could follow him as well. Entrenched in darkness, what was consciousness...what was the state that he was feeling? Those voices, one he recognized and the other he did not, but he resolved. He resolved harder than anything else, because he knew that he had a task to complete.

"If you're there Trace...take me to the mansion." Saebyeolbe spoke faintly as a portal darkness purged open and the resolute drifted through it.

There was a powerful spike of light that splintered out from the resolute. His body illuminated from each scar, as if he were a walking door hiding light behind it, and the scars looked like illuminated cracks behind that door that would not be destroyed. The corruption around him began to purify, and the steps he'd taken as he came out, the portal lead to the gates wide open of an abandoned mansion.

"I'm coming, no more delays." he spoke in brief and his footsteps collected as he beat towards the wooden doors.
 

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I get it. Number Six was definitely weirder than Seven. Parts of him...her, I don't know started to slip away and ear exposed and poof with tail. You can imagine how my eyes widened at the sight. I had to set him/her/it straight and I pressed my hand into their chest.

"Be still. Thats a little too personal, even for you Mr. Skeptical?"

I would whip them into shape, you'd have to admit this was a one in a million scenario. Iontis gave us his spiel, few formalities spared but it was evident he preferred to work alone. There was a quick sigh that escaped my breath and soon my composure would be tempered between Try and the man calling himself Komaeda. Officially acquainted fully with two of them now, Number III The Echo and Number V The Harbinger. I could bare with Komaeda's obscene and indirect vulgar references, but what came out of Try's mouth, not even I said it without being interrupted before.

I sighed, I gave myself a moment to fully respond. At first I felt some sense of hesitation to wait for Komaeda to take this opportunity to show us he wasn't one. It's funny, I remember being told that there was a traitor among us from the master himself. That memory is one I had to unpleasantly wake up to, one that I was told to be wary of. This sense of being hyper-vigilant was my strength and my flaw. I drew my hair back to my braids, a strand or two behind the right ear and I let out a breath.

"Yes Komaeda, The Harbinger. Tell us, are you here to deceive us and cause a rift between the preservation of lingering remnants and the restoration of harrowed ends?" I had to get this off the table now, there was no room for extreme doubt among us and I wouldn't have it even if I had to be wary and on my guard as well.


~~~~~​


"Eth..." the only words that sprang from my mouth as I watched, dauntingly so. Those weren't your ordinary women, my nose confirmed that much. They reeked of darkness, double-sided darkness. He asked me before he was getting roughed up if I was a resolute, meaning so was he. Strange, he didn't defend himself keyblade in hand nor did he use the master's gift in any capacity to defend himself. I was largely thrown by this, but seeing as the woman with the trident quickly grew disinterested with him, and before stabbing him in the stomach and leaving him to bleed out, his resourcefulness in crushing a potion stabilized his condition.

"You didn't use any of the tools a resolute has at their disposal Eth...how have you survived this far down here...?" I asked, a glowing concern. "The heartless are at their most powerful here in the realm of darkness. I...had the unfortunate luck of waking up here, and like you, trapped."

I sighed. Adjusting my white hat, and adjusting the belt on my skirt by my waist was burgundy, the top was a cashmere cotton fitted-turtleneck, black, with a golden hoop sewn into the center. Leggings that were stark and black with some calf-high boots. This wasn't an easy situation to be in, I had some stranger here with me to whom I didn't know but he may as well be just another civilian. Talk or resolutes but no demonstration in sight where I could confirm he was someone I should invest my time in.

"I have many names, but you can call me Midna, Number X, Harbored Destiny. And my resolve is telling me, your hiding something. Better be quick or you'll die here for real this time Eth." I pulled back from him and a magnificent keyblade of pure silver purged into my hand. It possessed the sigil of a transmutation circle at the end of the blade, I was an alchemist after all and it seemed to suit me. What I said wasn't a threat, those women left us with a parting gift, heartless.

"State who you are and fight! Resolve Eth!"
 
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That makes three, three resolutes he'd met. Eth lay there in a damning and hopeless situation, and resolve was all he had. What more could be asked of the number zero, no keyblade, in a world or far off dimension in which his time resolve virtually ceased to exist and by extension all of it's subsidiaries. Powerless, was he really going to perish in this place...?

"You know...for a very long time, I've been alone." his body released the tension and just gave way "The only thing I ever had was a single parent...a mother. You see, I have power over memories...for as long as I can remember but when I was young I didn't understand how or why, I don't even remember how to use it. But, on accident, one day though I vaguely remember, my mother forgot ever having given birth to her only child. I lacked the awareness, knowledge, and ability to control memories and my mother lead a life not knowing who I was."

There were tears in Eth's eyes as he sat there in the dirt powerless as the darkness, the heartless even approached slowly. "I've put it out of my mind for so long, I've been separated from humanity and mine for so long. I didn't believe it at first...when the Master said to me, 'One day you'll be weaker than you ever could imagine and you'll reap what that isolation has wrought you' as I'm sure you can understand..."

He gripped at the dirt and flipped himself over, there was a tremble across his body and he was clinging to the umbrella.

"My name is Ð, pronounced Eth. I am resolute Number Zero, Untouchable...at least, in the realm of light...here, how I even got here...well that doesn't matter...I've talked your ear off, Midna right?" Eth slowly worked his way to his feet. "The distance between myself and the world is my resolve, no one needs to die because of me or even come near me let alone know I exist. Please...don't tell share what I'm about to do with anyone...I'm trusting you."

A light started to slowly resonate dimly, with a purple tint from behind the resolute, unlike anything he'd ever displayed. "Not even the master knew...the level to which my resolve evolved...my body never forgot even if I didn't remember it officially until being without it. My code name is Untouchable for a reason, I will greatly defy expectation, it has no place for me. A light this powerful beckons it's brother the darkness, so my light will always have a brother no matter where I am, thats what the master never understood about me."

Jagged edges spread from Eth's feet as he released the longest breath he'd ever held. The heartless here were to be feared, those women inflicted damage in bursts that would be incurred over an increment of potentially fifteen minutes in less than three. As they approached, his light swirled in a slowed motion, and sprang from the floor like javelin spikes bobbing straight through the heartless.

"You've seen it. Now show me your resolve, Harbored Destiny, we're not going to die here!"

It only took a split second, but he caught with a swift and turn and hop to his right, avoiding the merciless fist of a dark side. "AHHHHH!" releasing a battlecry he forged a violet colored blade of light in his hand, he swiped upward and lobbed off the right hand of the dark side. He slid, and raised his empty hand, to shoot a quick burst of blades pinching into it's chest. The shadows surrounded him, attracted to this tainted light, absolutely starved, feeling claws burying into his body even above the pricks from the Trident earlier. He let out a loud scream, exhilarated by it all, it was about survival at all cost so he could get the information of what he learned from the knight to the others.

"Damnit...Damnit...Da-...!" The heartless dragged him down and he sank even further into the realm, he could hear foot steps running and sure enough, Midna jumped in behind him screaming as he did.

"Whyyyyyyyyy!????" he said screaming at her as they both fell with the shadow heartless even further down.


[HR][/HR]

"My name is Try. The third Resolute, The Echo. In spite of my title I'm not going to repeat myself, so don't forget it."

His hand still firm on the helmet, he liked this one. He liked Try, and the other Lucrecia, they were quite the stand outs for him. He tried not to stare at Jay's ears and tail that sort've morphed on his body from the corner of his eye. Though all the while he never removed himself from Try's space, despite the clear eminence of her discomfort. That memory, she could kill him at any moment, but that wouldn't be any fun you know?

"
Progress is progress, i'll take it." he said with a smile.

She leaned closer to him, she was just a tad shorter than him, but not by very much at all. His teal eyes didn't possess that abnormal swirl, but you got the idea. Unmoving, it was a welcome shift to have her place herself in his space.

"Nagito, you wouldn't happen to be a traitor, would you?"

"Yes Komaeda, The Harbinger. Tell us, are you here to deceive us and cause a rift between the preservation of lingering remnants and the restoration of harrowed ends?"

This question actually did not seem random, though at the same time, it kind of was random. He was a man of quick wit, but the best answer here was the truth. This wasn't a very hard question, but you could be damn the context would be twisted and extremely vexing in delivery.

"
Yes. I indeed am a traitor." he tilted his head and smiled, kissing Try's helmet. "We were all born in the darkness were we not? That abhorrent and foul realm where hearts beckon to return to, but we resolutes when we were born abandoned our allegiance and came to be as we are. Traitors. Traitors to the damned darkness we seek to eradicate at all cost from the worlds! So yes Try, and I would betray the darkness for the remainder of my existence if it means erasing it entirely! It disgusts me."

He looked at her, seeing his reflection off the glass of her helmet.

"
Answer with resolve. Your loyalty is to the realm of light isn't it Try? Your loyalty is resolved in light as well, right Lucrecia? If you need more proof look around you at this abounded paradise of light. The darkness wouldn't dare set foot here in the presence of such power resolutes such as us, no? And even if it did..."

Serendipity purged into his hand. "
Fortune smiles on each of us, because I will resolve and will it so." his smile was softer, genuine, less devious because these intentions were the truth. Komaeda wasn't worthy to ask for trust, but he was fine with being apart of a much larger objective at play here.
 
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Twilight Town

Now…



The skies were broken.

No more the dance of dazzling oranges, fiery reds and warm yellows. That beautiful twilight is forever gone. In its place loomed a chasm of endless blackness sparsely ringed by the dwindling purples of a torn sky. Starless, gaping, and empty. A sight of terrible hopelessness.

The once lively and peaceful town was now nothing but a hollowed shell. Strange, how a once large well populated space seemed so small and insignificant when it was voided. The buildings and roads, what was left of them, were split, unhinged and strewn out of their place, like a torn puzzle. Wires and lightning posts were utterly twisted out of shape transforming into heaps of grotesque metal wraiths at the sides of the road. Whole lanes drifted apart, broken, untethered and disconnected, like a long discordant broken tune. Even the very colors seemed to have taken flight of this deformation; seeped out and leeched off by the harrowing that consumed the world. Everything was a depthless, colorless drab of a gray.

Then there was the darkness…

You’d expect it to be a ravaging force, a spectacle of chaos and viciousness to behold. It was worse. It breathed in the very fabric of the world. Slinking behind the gaze of your eyes, lingering through the breath in your chest, at the soles of your feet, dabbling between your fingers. A heavy oppressive thing prowling through the unseen. An impalpable shadow that weighed on shoulders, slithered through the minds and slipped in hearts, a frigidness that grew until it consumed you whole. A resonance of ruin. A tune Shiki was intimate with…
The portal of light collapsed behind her faster than it should, scattering apart, unable to withstand the overwhelming pervasion of night and ruin. Shiki stood taking in the harrowed end and bitterness and anger welled inside her.

Where did we go wrong?

Thousands upon thousands of yellow globes flickered to life in a sea of turbulent darkness all around her. Heartless as far as the eyes can see.

We were supposed to stop this.

A sliver of light bloomed in her hand and faded into a shower of black feathers and a keyblade as dark as midnight.

Why did we fail?

She whipped Memento mori in one fluid swipe to her right, levelled it with her shoulder and gripped it with both hands. Her left foot slid softly forward, and her body turned ever so slightly to the side, centering its gravity.

Or did we not even try…

She held her stance, and grew still. So still, that a silence of its own enveloped her, wrought her motionless like a marble statue, as if she was carved from a whisper, woven from a lull. Heartless swarmed around her, a wave about to flood her. Claws stretched, maws opened, swords unsheathed. Too many to count. She closed her eyes.

Breathed…

Why do you fight Shiki?

What is it that makes you pick up that blade every time it falls?


Memento mori flickered through the heartless as if they were thin air. The first line of shadows were thrown backwards, a cloud of black dust erupting as some exploded. Shiki leapt swinging her blade upwards cleaving a jumping shadow in two, dropped with a swipe shearing through three others. She side stepped a neoshadow’s deadly slash, kicked it hard sending it flying, turned and sliced through another and then another and another. Her blade was a fury of streaking flashes forging forward through a swarm of black. She felt something light and warm dusting against her figure, and suddenly her motion lightened even further. Speed. The world was aiding her with a potent spell of Haste. Curious.

Strength surged through her as she advanced forward, slashing, turning, leaping, dancing. Her body moved of its own accord, thoughtless, comfortable. She felt lighter, every move came more effortless, smoother. Something was different. Something in her was changed.

A dark ball zipped to her left, growing in size as it floated out of her slash. Lumen Incantara sprouted in her hand, a long, luminous streak of light that zipped past her fingers and wrapped around the growing darkball. She swung it around, whipping it through hordes of shadows as she pushed ahead. Just when it was about to explode, she flung it with a grunt, it hit a group of shadows to her right with an implosion that sent more dark dust in the air. This gift of speed was a breath of hope to anyone treading the harrowed end, but it wasn’t the aid of the dead world that felt different, no. This… this was deeper. More intimate. This song… It was in her bones.

It was then she felt the seething tug in her left leg. She ducked into a neoshadow’s swipe, rolled to her left and unleashed a gale of slashes and stabs that produced another puff of black dust. She slowed then, feeling the crawling disease at her left leg take hold of her. She looked down and darkness had enveloped her limb and was gnawing it. At this rate, it would soon consume her whole, and her heart would be gone, just like everything else. No… Lumen incantara floated into existence and wrapped around her figure, its light a kiss of warmth in the chilling dread, the crawling darkness slowed but didn’t stop. I will not have it this way.

Shiki deflected a deadly slash from a neoshadow that flanked her right, and countered with a spell of thundera that took it and snaked through a couple more behind it. She barely had time to see it through before she turned and struck fiercely at a couple of shadows sneaking to her left. A hollowness started to seep in her left hand, climbing her shoulder and Shiki started to lose all sense of her left side. The chains’ light shun fiercely, but the cursed darkness was still mounting. She spotted a glimmering patch to her left, sourceless light danced through it from everywhere and nowhere. No heartless trod it, they seemed to even shy away from it. Without even giving it a second thought, she dashed towards it.

It was as if the sun rose again. The hollowness left her, and so did the darkness, it peeled away at the touch of light, scattering through the air, withering. She knelt, leaning on her keyblade, catching her breath. The Old Mansion wasn’t so far now, but the hordes of heartless were endless- She heard them then. The voices. Whispers. They rushed through her, enveloped her. So many. Thoughts and memories overwhelmed her, light everywhere. They were… the lost denizens of this world. The last lingering moments of their hearts. Their final memories coalesced into these hallowed grounds. Their wills fighting for hope even after the dark, even after their hearts were gone. A tear slid down her face.

I will never forget. She promised them, listening to their final thoughts. I will see this through no matter what.

She stood up and summoned a portal of light to the old mansion and stepped in.

She walked out into the courtyard of the old mansion. The building despite the darkness that had ravaged this world was still as it is. Old, large and abandoned. The wooden floors in the foyer were covered in dust, and broken bits and pieces of the statues on both sides of the stairs. Cobwebs and stains lined the walls, and it was dark and inhabitable inside. Shiki checked the white room, but it was in a similar state of disorder and abandonment and there was nothing to find there. She then made her way to the library and down the basement and into the computer room.

To her surprise, the computers and the machines were still functional, and when she turned on the terminal to the data twilight town, she found nothing but a single entry left in there. Version number 427. It was undated, but whoever deleted the rest of the versions of data twilight town, left this one behind. Wasting no more time, she prepared the transportation machine to investigate the entry and see if there were any information left in there.


____________________________________________________________________________________________​

Data Twilight Town

She walked into sunlight. It was as if no darkness had ever claimed the worlds and no heartless ravaged their hearts. She closed her eyes, and felt the cool breeze brush through her hair, inhaled the various and colorful scents, listened to the voices of people as they came and went, felt the warmth of the sun. Oh how easy it was, how effortless it would be to believe this was real and hide here from the truth. Perception was such a devious and malleable thing. But, it would still be a lie. She can deceive her senses all she wanted, run and evade her thoughts even but never her Heart. It would always know.

Flyers of a carnival in town were posted everywhere, and people were flocking towards it. It was a bit unusual that the data town would deviate from a certain routine, but this entry seemed almost intentionally different. She figured that she should check it out for clues, perhaps something here could point her to what happened in the three years past.

The carnival was held just outside of town, tents of every size and color dominated the view. Fantastical Acrobatics, Fire breathers, Knife throwers, jugglers, clowns and fortune tellers, the place was filled with every color of entertainment to please every visitor. The place was crowded, and Shiki had to maneuver through the passing denizens to scan the area for any hint. She was walking past a small gray tent that proclaimed a Maze of mirrors when someone caught her eyes.

“Try our House of Mirrors Miss?”

Is this a joke?

Standing in front of her was a teenage girl clad in a knee length black and white dress with dark boots and a witch’s pointed hat. She had dark blue eyes, and long black hair, and a bright smile. It was the spitting image of a younger version of Shiki.

“It will not disappoint you, Miss. In the mirrors, you might see things beyond just your reflection.” She smiled temptingly, holding the flap of the tent open for her. The girl might have matched her appearance, but she didn’t have any of Shiki’s character it seemed. Still, this wasn’t done without thought. Whoever had this entry made, they wanted her to find it.

Shiki thanked her, and ducked inside, wondering what she would find in there.



__________________________________________________________________________________​

The House of Mirrors


There was no one inside when she stepped inside the tent. It looked larger on the inside than its shape suggested outside. Lining it at every corner and side in almost a maze like fashion were mirrors of varying sizes and shapes. Large mirrors, tall ones, small ornate ones, wide bare ones, you name it. Perhaps their reflections of each other was what gave the tent the illusion that it was larger than it truly was.

“You know, you really are a pain in my ass, kid.”

“Master!” She whirled around, and there he was, standing across her from her at the end of the first row. She ran towards him only to realize, he was standing in a mirror. It was just his reflection there. There was no one behind the mirror and she was sure she was the only one standing there.

“I expected you were going to pull this crap. That you'd end up here, in this abandoned data mansion, searching for answers about what really went down.”

This is… this is just a recorded message. She was slightly disheartened at the discovery, but still this seemed the closest she had gotten to knowing anything about what happened from the Master. She followed his reflection to the next mirror.

“The truth is you probably already know.”

I could only guess. To presume she knew his plans would be a stretch. She was familiar enough with him to know how he operated and thought but he was always an enigma, and even when she had a notion of his thoughts and ideas, he always surprised her with unexpected twists. With him, there was always another secret.

“I’ll admit it. I knew you were the only one that was going to find this place. So hey, Congratulations! ”

It took me long enough though. She turned another corner to follow him into the next mirror, this one larger than its predecessor.

“You’re every bit as resourceful as I thought you’d be. It’s one of the reasons you’re a resolute after all. But listen to me when I tell you this, Shiki.”

He pointed at her, all serious and solemn all of a sudden.

“You were never really meant to remember any of this.” He waved around him, “There was a reason for losing your memories.”

What reason?

“It was so you could forget the terrible things that went down.”

Dread filled her.

“Awful things.” He shook his head, and folded his arms, “Things that you did to each other.”

What have we done? What could they have possibly done to make wiping their memories a mercy?

“I was never here to be your moral compass, but the things YOU did… Hoo boy. It gives me chills to think you hid something like this from all of us.

If I didn’t find out… Well, maybe I’d still be around, who knows?” He shrugged his shoulders, and stepped into the next mirror, a smaller one though slightly longer and framed by an ornate golden frame.

What could he be talking about? For a moment, she wondered if he was referring to her past, but then, and she shuddered at the idea, she feared he meant something entirely else…

“I don't know if you're still watching this but here, this is another piece of what you’ve been missing.” He pressed his palm towards his side of the mirror.

“Now, I'm really hoping it isn't you seeing this, Shiki.” She peered at him for a long moment, her gaze trying to discern the meaning behind his words. She raised her hand and placed her own palm against his on her side of the mirror, almost with grim satisfaction.

I’ll face it. The room dimmed around her. Whatever it is… I’ll face it, Master.



__________________________________________________________________________________​


A Graveyard

Two Months ago

“I Trusted YOU!”

The words were almost a whisper, but the betrayal… the disbelief in them was loud and merciless. Memento mori’s deadly edge was pointing right at him.

“Of all of us, I trusted you the most. Now... Now you turn your blade against me?!”

Shiki’s fingers tightened around her keyblade. Her lips were set in a hard line. She stared back at his stormy gray eyes with chilling determination. She couldn’t yield… She just couldn’t. Damn it all.

“You’re forcing my hand here, ***.”

The wind stirred dust in the expanse lying between them on the graveyard. The sky was overcast and about to unleash a downpour. Her long dark hair stirred in the wind behind her like a grim’s cloak, she held her keyblade pointed at the lone weaponless man facing her; clad only in his dark cloak and emotions of betrayal.

“It’s been a year, Shiki. A WHOLE year. And we still don’t know what happened to him?” his voice was incredulous. He couldn’t believe that she, of all of them, didn’t understand.

“The worlds are falling. We have no answers and that idiot just. Won’t. TALK!” He was practically shouting now. His voice dripping with long caged anger.

“Enough with the bullshit already!” He summoned his own keyblade, his face downcast. How did it come to this? Why? IF only that asshole talked…

“And is that a reason to go throwing your life away?” She shot back at him, her voice rife with barely held back emotions.

“Don’t be an idiot!

All of this for what? Just to find the Master?!
” Her voice cracked louder, scarlet was creeping up her face.

“What about everyone else? What about the rest of the Worlds? For Kingdom Hearts’ Sake. ” She waved around her “We are losing everything. Everyone.” Her shoulders drooped, her keyblade hung to her side. Suddenly, Shiki looked too weary, too tired. There were shadows under her eyes. She seemed thinner, paler, smaller.

“I’ve already told you, I’ve already told everyone when the Master vanished.” He took a step forward, frustrated. His patience was running thin.

“If we find him, Shiki he can fix this. We NEED to. *** KNOWS. Yet he still won’t tell us a thing. ” He let out a harsh breath, infuriated, “And now he goes and runs away. Vanishes, just like Luxu. Not bothering to help.

Not even with a single clue.

How is this the right thing to do? ” he balled his fist, “The arrogant prick… Him and Luxu… They never really gave a damn about the rest of us.”

“Listen to yourself…” It started to rain then. Softly. A slow and quiet drizzle.

“Have you even indulged the idea that he actually doesn’t know ***? That no one does! That this is nothing but a fool’s pursuit. ” Even if she thought for a second that he did, did they even have the time to get the truth out of him. They were supposed to trust each other. To trust the Master.

“Does it even matter now?” She sighed, running a hand through her hair.

“I know you’re angry. All of us are angry too, ***.” She said, and there was a gentleness to her voice, her expression softened, “But we can’t abandon everything just to look for the Master, no matter how much we want to.” He wasn’t the only one who yearned to find the Master. To put an end to this horrible nightmare. The Master always seemed to make everything look more fixable, a little less harsh, potentially solvable. He made the worlds safer. He made them feel safer. Not now. It just… wasn’t like that anymore.

♪

“People are fading, ***.” Rain fell harder, pattering on the rocky ground and off the glinting metal of the keyblades.

“Every week we’re losing a world because none of you want to work together.” her voice sounded hollow, heavy with disappointment and she almost seemed to wince at her own words.

“You can’t expect ***** to be able to go on for so long by herself. Even if some of us are helping her. It’s not enough. ” She blinked away the rain. Her knuckles going white around her keyblade. It was just too much to bear. “We can’t even have seven of us make a damn effort to save a world together. Just one. ” They were perhaps the only hope left to these worlds, and look what they came to…

Are they a false hope? A lost cause…

“Please ***, you need to stop this empty chase.” Her dark blues bore into his lucid grays.

“We NEED you.” No more walls, nothing left to hide. It was all laid bare, and she could only cling to the hope that he would listen. He always listened to her.

“I am always here, Shiki. But-”

“Don’t do this.”

“I can’t ignore the fact that he’s not telling us where the Master is.

We can’t do this without the Master. ” His voice was calm, almost serene. She could see it know, in the way he steeled his stance, the set of his jaw, the shift in his gaze.

“He knows, and I have to get the truth out of him. It is the only way… ” Unyielding.

“Oh you fool…” She bowed her head, her dark hair slid across her shoulders, throwing shadows across her eyes. Of all of them, she didn’t want to do this to him. He was dearer than a friend. He who she respected too much.

But it was no use. She shut her eyes and let go of a long and weary breath. It was no use…

A distant song started to emanate around them in the falling rain. A wispy thing, sad and mellow. Chains of light circled into existence around her, a wreath of slender moonbeams. Swifter than a heartbeat, they eclipsed him before he could even manage to raise his keyblade. Fast, they enveloped him and tightened their caress. They chained him down into an absolute and unbreakable embrace. The only reason they did, the only reason she was able to, was because he didn’t expect her to go through with her words, to ever use them against him… And she hated herself all the more for it.

“Forgive me, my friend.” Her voice was soft, sorrowful. She opened her eyes, and for a moment through the blurry rainfall she thought she saw Eliot in his place. A tremor went through her hand. Is this how it is always going to be?

Rain or tears, it was hard to make which were trickling down her face but the deep blue of her eyes held only sadness and defeat. Her grasp did not relent or weaken, not even when another cloaked figure walked to her side to watch her chain down her own friend.

_______________________________________________________________________________________​


The memory faded, washed out by the other bright ones that floated to her consciousness and filled it with different sounds and scenes. A rush of colors, figures and worlds. Different times, different faces. Voices and smells and thoughts filling the recess of her memories. That which was supposed to be there in the beginning. She remembered them then. All of them. The 11 Resolutes the Master has chosen. Luxu, Eth, Sae, Try, Recia, Komaeda, Jay & Jaz, Iontis, Yamato, Reforge and Midna. The times they sat together, ate together, fought together… She had friends. Comrades. And more. It didn’t all come back to her, no, there were still pieces missing but… now she knew them. Now she remembered them, as she should have when she first opened her eyes. Then why… why was she so sad? Why did it hurt so?

She could almost hear the Master berating her. I warned you, He’d have said. She raised her head, and met her own reflection in the mirror. Now it showed her standing alone in her black coat and plain blue shirt and unwavering stare.

None of them should know. Her eyes peered back at her, steely and solemn. Not until the time is right. The Master charged her with a role, and she was going to see it through… till the bitter end. The things that she have seen, the things she now knows, and the picture that was starting to unravel to her eyes… If the others came to know these things, their hearts… Would they even want to go on after they learn the truth?

She walked out of the tent’s quiet to the noise and clamor of the carnival, the warmth of the ever setting sun felt feeble and naught against the chill that clasped her heart. The Master knew that I’d come searching for answers here, a couple of kids ran past her as she reached the crack in the wall, behind it the woods stood old, empty and abandoned, he knew I’d seek the truth no matter where it led me. He didn’t want any of us to see these memories and yet… The doors of the mansion made scarce a noise as she pushed them open. He knew that even after I got to know everything that I… I wouldn’t stop. Her boots paused at the stairs, her hand resting on the wooden rail. He gambled on it. She wondered what would have happened if any of the other Resolutes have seen what she saw in here and learned the rest of the truth. Would they turn? Or would the search for a traitor consume them? She wondered if even after all of this anything mattered, if what they were doing was worth it, if at the end they could do something. Anything. She shook her head, it was no use lingering on those thoughts. She climbed the stairs to the library and made her way down to the terminal.

The moment she returned to the harrowed end, Shiki turned towards the terminal that housed the data twilight town. Darkness bloomed in her palm, a wisp at first then it blossomed and swelled into a small, ethereal orb that hovered there at her fingers. She wasn’t going to take any chances, she eyed the orb. A flick of her wrist sent the black sphere hurling at the terminal and the surrounding equipment. It crashed without a sound. Blackness spread swiftly like a web of cracks across every surface it touched until all of the room and all the other chambers were dark and indistinguishable and lightless. Everything was awash in darkness and silence. So absolute was the grasp of oblivion you would think it had swallowed her and it wasn’t here upon her calling.

It was only when Shiki felt the last of them swallowed into oblivion, when she let her senses touch and breathe and prod every inch and between every sigh that the nightmarish force receded and flowed back into her. Slow and languid at first and then all at once. For a moment, she shuddered and clutched her chest, her face grew so pale. She closed her eyes and held her silence, her slender brows furrowed in concentration as if she was listening, reaching for something, then almost in relief she let go and straightened, and it seemed the worst of it had left her. Where once a set of terminals, equipment and machines stood, there was nothing but walls and vacant floors and an unused basement. Not a single trace was left, as if they never were there. In this world, in this time, it never existed. Even the memory of it was fading from the minds of everyone who knew of it. Except for Shiki. She always remembered, for who else would remember the Obliviated?

She walked out of the library and descended the stairs, she was done with this world. The road ahead was looking more and more daunting, but walk it she will till the end of times. She was at the foot of the stairs in the foyer when she saw shafts of intense light dancing behind the Mansion’s doors. Pure and serene. Voices and thoughts flowed through her, tugging, calling, she tried not to let them consume her. They whispered at the edge of her consciousness like too familiar a tune. The light’s presence washed over her, and in its folds she sensed a heart, one she more than knew. He opened the doors, light streaming from his scars in the wake of his arrival.

Her gaze met his dark greys. Did he remember her? She searched his eyes for recognition. Does her know what she has become? Turbulent as her emotions were, her deep blues revealed naught of her heart, but nothing, nothing was able to stop the warm smile that graced her face.

“It's good to see you again, Sae.”​
 
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