Ventus strutted, huffing, irritably across the sands. He raised his hand about to summon his armor and vehicle when he heard:
He lifted his eyes to see Vanitas, sitting on a leaning palm tree, dangling his feet back and forth. Ventus scowled.
“I’m through with you” he growled, turning his heels to continue walking away.
“Well, I’m just getting started with you. You’re strong enough now to fulfill your purpose.”
Vanitas hopped up and stalked Ventus from above.
“What are you waiting for? Join with me right here and now. Become the X-blade.”
“No,” Ventus retorted, “I won’t do it. He told me, the only way the X-blade can be forged is if you and I fight. Well guess what? I’m not fighting.”
Vanitas scoffed. “Hmph. You used to be too broken to talk back.”
Suddenly, Ventus’ head began to throb as a memory flashed before his eyes. It was painful, and horrible.
“Please don’t do this, Master! I’m not strong enough!”
No. It is because you are trying to hold it in. Let the dark impulses waken in the pit of your heart. Release them, here and now! Sharpen your fear into rage! You must! If you do not let the storm within you run its course, it will wipe you from the face of the world, make no mistake!”
The shadows moved forward.
“Do it. Embrace the darkness. Produce for your Master the X-blade!”
The shadows were overwhelming. Claws dripping with poisonous darkness cutting through the soul. Fading…Falling…The light can barely be seen. A man stood over.
“Really? You would rather die than use the power? Feckless neophyte.”
Xehanort’s foot pushes him onto his back.
“If I must… I will extract the darkness from within you myself.”
Xehanort summoned his keyblade and held the blade above his chest. Suddenly, a great pain surged from within. He held is breath, as if he was being choked with one fell swoop. Then, there is blackness.
“Empty creature from Ventus riven…to you, the name Vanitas shall be given.”
Ventus snapped back to reality. Kiera appeared into view, running towards him. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Kiera!?” He gasped.
His heel turned to run, this time towards Kiera. They ran towards each other, faster, and faster. Until finally, they were in each other’s arms.
“Kiera!” Ventus cried again, this time holding back tears of joy.
Kiera sighed, and held him closer.
“I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised.”
They both looked up to see Vanitas remaining over them.
“You were utterly broken by Ventus’ betrayal,” Vanitas observed, “He ruined your chances of becoming a keyblade master. Why would you come to his aid? He destroyed your dreams. Shouldn’t you be furious with him?”
Kiera scoffed. “I don’t care about that now. In fact, I should be thanking you, Ven-” she turned to Ventus, “-You saved me from making a terrible mistake. We both know that the side of the light isn’t as pure as it appears.”
Ventus was surprised. Kiera slowly took his hand.
“Now all that matters, is protecting the ones I love-” she glanced at Vanitas, “From you, and from Xehanort.”
Ventus was surprised, but also relieved. He wasn’t alone.
“Fascinating. One enveloped himself in darkness just to hold that title, and one that simply throws it away. Gotta say, I’m impressed. But it won’t matter. The time has come for all of you to be tested…”
Vanitas zeroed in on Ventus and glared.
“I’ll give you a reason to fight. Come and find me…at the one and only place to spawn the X-blade: the Keyblade Graveyard. There you’re gonna see me choke the life out of Terra and
Aqua. Then we’ll see how long you play the pacifist.”
Ventus growled. Vanitas summoned a portal behind him, and slowly disappeared. He was gone.
There was a long moment of silence between Ventus and Kiera.
Then, Ventus said: “Kiera, you need to go somewhere, far away, far from here, far from Vanitas and Xehanort.”
“Out of the question” Kiera replied firmly.
“He will kill Terra and Aqua! I can’t let that happen! And if we end up forming the X-Blade…”
“I’m not leaving you!”
“I can’t lose you, Kiera!” Ventus shouted.
Kiera bit her lip. Ventus was breathless. He dropped down into the sand, Kiera following.
“Not again!” Ventus emphasized, his voice breaking.
“You won’t, Ventus.”
Ventus glanced at her, grieved.
“You won’t,” she repeated, “I promise.”
Ventus looked away. He tried to yank away from Kiera’s hand, but she gripped it tight. After a couple attempts, he stopped fighting. The waves crashed softly in the distance, and the seagulls cried overhead.
“You don’t have to go at this alone, Ven. We made a promise to each other, and I intend to keep it,” Kiera resolved, “I refuse to walk away and let you suffer; and neither Terra, nor Aqua. They’re my friends too.”
Ventus didn’t seem sure.
“And if we fail?” he asked.
Kiera’s eyes narrowed.
“Then we fail together.”
Ventus sighed heavily. He peered at her, then reluctantly nodded.
There was more silence. However this time, it seemed more tranquil. They sat together, hands tightly held, feeling the wind through their hair and whistling past their ears.
“I will stop Vanitas,” Ventus resolved, “and Xehanort. They won’t cause anymore pain again.”
“What happens after?”
He glanced at her and smiled smally.
“I don’t know. What’re you gonna do?”
Kiera blew a raspberry.
“Not sure. I can’t go back to the Land of Departure. That’s not a life for me.”
She used her free hand to draw a random, curvy land in the sand.
“This is my home…” she chuckled sadly, a lump in her throat, “I have a little brother that will never know who I am. But maybe…Maybe I can be his friend, and that will be enough.”
“Hmm…Yeah, I guess so…”
“Oh! I forgot!”
Ventus suddenly reached into one of his pockets. Kiera watched in surprise. Ventus pulled out a small red box.
“For me?” Kiera asked.
Ventus nodded. “Yeah, it was meant to be a present for when you became Keyblade Master. I want you to have it anyway.”
Kiera beamed. “Thanks, Ven!”
Slowly, she opened it. Her mouth dropped in awe. She lifted from the box, a golden chain, in which hung a shiny locket with interwoven hearts on the front and tiny-leaved branches.
She turned to Ventus.
“Thank you. I’ll cherish it always!”