Confession in the Badlands
A puff of smoke appeared onto the desk. And it got bigger and bigger until the whole room was covered in smoke. But it wasn’t the coughable kind. It was vision smoke. The smoke cleared a little as they saw Mickey, lying half dead on the ground in a desert area. All in the room (except Yen Sid of course, who always stayed very calm) gasped in horror. Suddenly, the smoke hastily cleared.
“What happened? Where’d he go? Is he okay?” said the duck frantically.
“There is a dark and powerful force that is interfering with my magic” said Yen Sid slowly.
“Just tell us where the King is Mr. Yen Sid, sir! And me and Donald will go right there and save him!” cried the dog.
“You two? That may not be adequate” said Yen Sid.
“But I’m the captain of the King’s royal knights!” cried the dog, pulling out a shield.
“And I’m his magician!” cried the duck, pulling out a wand.
Yen Sid stroked is beard again in silence.
“We’ll find him. I recognize the place we saw” said Ventus.
“If you go, we’ll go with you!” cried the duck.
“No, we owe him,” said Kiera.
“Mickey saved me once. And I can’t risk putting his friends in danger” Ventus added.
“Don’t worry! I swear we’ll bring him back safe.”
“Very well, Ventus, Kiera. We will leave it to you” replied Yen Sid.
Ventus nodded to Yen Sid, then to Kiera. Kiera nodded back and walked out of the room.
Kiera and Ventus looked around as they walked. It was silent, as eerie as the first time they came. A slight gust of wind was picking up in the Badlands. It gave Kiera a sense of uneasiness, as if…they weren’t alone. Ventus glanced over his shoulder.
“Hey, you alright?” Ventus asked.
Kiera wasn’t sure.
“Something’s wrong…I can feel it…”
Ventus frowned. Slowly, he reached for her hand. Kiera gently took it and smiled nervously. Ventus smiled back, displaying more confidence than his friend was feeling. Together, they continued to walk.
As they came to a clearing, they saw a figure in the distance, someone on the ground. When they came closer, they could make out its features more clearly. They recognized it.
“Mickey!” they both cried in unison as they dashed towards him.
Ventus dropped to his knees and picked the mouse king’s head up. Kiera bent forward and leaned into his face. She sighed in relief.
“He’s still breathing, but he’s very weak.”
Ventus sighed as well.
“What do we do?” he asked.
“I don’t have anymore health potions on me. We’ve got to get him back to Master Yen Sid!”
Ventus nodded in agreement.
“We meet again, boy.”
The two jumped. They whirled to their right. An old man was walking towards them, slowly, and calculating. Ventus gently put the unconscious king down and stood up with Kiera. As the man grew closer, they identified him.
“Master…Xehanort?” Kiera acknowledged.
Suddenly, after a moment of realization, Ventus let out a cry. He gripped his head and fell to his knees. Kiera was shocked.
“Ven!?” she cried.
She got down on her knees and gripped her hands on his shoulders.
“Ven? Ven, what’s wrong!?” she demanded.
Ventus said nothing. He grunted and moaned and squeezed his eyes shut. Kiera looked up at Master Xehanort.
“What have you done!?” she shouted.
Xehanort ignored her.
“Ahh yes. Now you are starting to realize…what you lost. Oh, but not for good. You had to lose in order to find! It can be yours again if you just reach out and take it!”
“He’s not making any sense!”
Kiera looked down again at her friend, greatly concerned.
“Ven, I know it hurts, but you’ve got to talk to me, what’s he doing to you?”
Again Ventus would not respond. He was getting worse, almost in the exact same state as the day he first came to Land of Departure.
“Reclaim the part that left you! Clash with him to forge the ultimate key!” Xehanort continued.
“‘The part that left you’? What is he-?”
“The all powerful…X-BLADE!”
Ventus screamed, as if the very word cut him through the soul. His body went limp.
“VENTUS!” Kiera screeched.
She caught him just before he hit the ground. Kiera brushed the hair out of his face. His eyes were open, but only a little, and his breath was labored.
“Key…blade?” Ventus murmured.
“Shh! Don’t speak. Don’t listen to him” Kiera hissed, “He’s just trying to mess with us!”
Xehanort manically grinned.
“You care so much for him, don’t you?”
Kiera was caught off guard. She wasn’t expecting Xehanort to speak to her. Kiera said nothing.
“I noticed instantly the moment I saw you. You are soft, and caring. You looked upon my pupil with compassion and sympathy. But he is not as innocent as he seems.”
“Your pupil!?” she gasped in surprise, then retorted, “You clearly don’t understand the responsibilities of being a master entails! I didn’t see him in any good shape whenever you two are in the same room!”
Xehanort said nothing.
“Kiera…” Ventus moaned.
Kierwa ignored him.
“I’ve seen the way you look at him! And I don’t trust it! Though you hold the title of master, I will not be afraid to admit, I see darkness behind your eyes!”
“Very observant. I like your honesty.”
He straightened a little.
“But you lack insight. You do not know who Ventus truly is. I do. Ventus is one of two halves of a key. A key I created. An old and ancient keyblade. But not like the ones you and I carry.”
He lowered his hand. An “X” glittered into his palm.
“’X,’ a most ancient letter. Some say ‘kai’, but the meaning is the same.”
The X disappeared. The wind began to kick up more harshly. A storm was slowly forming above their heads.
“Death. A letter that spells ending.”
Ventus stirred. He said nothing to Kiera, and slowly stood up. Kiera nervously supported him.
“I…have the power to make it? This, ‘X-Blade’?” he asked.
“Correct. Eraques knows it too. He knows EXACTLY what you are,” Xehanort responded.
“Haven’t you ever wondered why he never granted you permission to leave his side? To grow stronger? Eraques was frightened of you. If you were to learn the truth, realize what you truly are…He NEVER trusted you. Why else would he keep you within his sight at all times?”
Strength slowly returned as he stood more independently from Kiera. His eyebrows furrowed.
“Yeah. He never let me see other worlds, no matter how much I asked…”
Ventus stared at the ground.
“They were going to leave me…Terra…, Aqua…, Kiera…As soon as they got the title of ‘master’, they would leave Land of Departure. I would be alone.”
“Yes…Tell her what you did. Tell her you’re not the innocent, loyal companion you pretend to be.”
Kiera’s heart skipped a beat.
“Ven, what is he talking about?”
Ventus’ expression drained from increasing anger, to hollowness. He slowly glanced at her.
“You were going to leave me alone, Kiera. So I needed to make sure you didn’t.”
“What?” Kiera breathed.
“I made sure you didn’t pass that test. I let the darkness bite into you, and make you lose control.”
The world slowed around her. She stumbled backwards. Her breath was stolen from her.
“You…what?” She hissed.
Ventus blinked. Light returned to his face and his eyes widened. He didn’t realize what he said until that moment.
He took a step towards her. Kiera retorted a step back. Ventus froze. His face went pale.
“You…? How could you? Why?”
Suddenly, the wind howled and roared. Sand rose from the ground, impairing the vision of the keyblade wielders.
“Go!” Xehanort shouted, “You can ask the man yourself! Learn the truth! And remember, you have a greater purpose!”
The wind picked them up off the ground. They whirled and swirled in the midst of a colossal cyclone. Kiera could no longer see Ventus, or the king. Her vision faded, and remembered no more.