The Castle that Never Was
“You have deep rooted memories connected to this castle. You might lose your memories of this particular visit to~~~, but not your other memories.”
“Wait, does that mean, I’ll forget Riku…? And the promise we made…?” Kiera inquired.
“Don’t worry, Kiera,” said Riku, smiling, “If you want to go through with this, I’ll wait for you.”
“But…I won’t remember! I’ll be mad at you again!” Kiera exclaimed.
Riku smiled. “Like I said, don’t worry. It will be worth it. I know how much Ventus means to you; and if you recall all your memories of him, then you’ll be one step closer to finding him.”
Riku didn’t budge. His mind was set. It was all up to Kiera. Finally, she decided:
“Okay. I’ll do it.”
Riku looked at her for a moment, then nodded with a smile. Tears ran down her face as she embraced her brother one last time. Riku closed his eyes and rested his head on hers and held the back of her head.
“I swear Kiera, one day, I will put this right.”
Kiera slowly stirred. There an eerie howl of wind, like air seeping through the crevice of a window. She took a deep sigh.
“Riku…” She murmured, this time her voice breaking and her eyes welling with tears.
Finally, she opened her eyes. The ceiling was composed of light purple marble, but interwoven with rows of lines. As bright the color as the walls were, it was still dark. Kiera slowly sat up. She could see Kairi, peeking out in front of columns of bars. Kiera wiped the dampness from her face.
“Kairi?” she asked.
Kairi whirled around. Her face lit up.
“Kiera! You’re alright!” she exclaimed.
She ran to Kiera and embraced her. Kiera hugged her back.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
Kairi sniffed and met Kiera’s eyes.
“I’m so sorry Kiera! You needed me, and I wasn’t able to help!” she cried.
Kiera was stunned.
“Kairi, it’s okay.”
“No! It’s not!” Kairi exclaimed, “You, Sora, and Riku, you’re always the ones fighting, always the ones battling the heartless, always saving the world!”
Kairi sighed exasperated, turning away ashamed.
“And I’m the one stuck on the beach! I can’t do anything to help! I don’t have a keyblade, or any other kind of weapon! I’m so useless! And you’re always in danger because of me!”
Kiera grabbed her hands. Kairi paused.
“It’s okay,” Kiera assured, “You don’t have to feel bad; and you’re not useless!”
Kairi calmed down, but just a little.
“You know, you’re the reason that keeps Sora going,” Kiera reminded, “No matter how big his challenges are, he knows that you’re the end goal, and that drives him. He cares about you a lot, Kairi.”
“Yeah…I know…” “Who knows, even though you’re a Princess of Heart, you could one day get your own keyblade…!” Kiera shrugged.
Kairi smiled a little at that thought.
“Yeah…That would be nice. Then I could finally give a little back to you guys.”
A door opened. Kairi and Kiera quickly rose to their seats. A man in a black cloak stepped into the room, with blue hair, red eyes, and a cross slashed across his face.
“You’re awake” the man observed, looking at Kiera.
“How long are you going to keep us here? What are going to do with us?” Kairi demanded.
“You’re the fire that fuels Sora’s anger” the man simply replied.
And with that, the man exited the room.
“Good talk” Kiera replied, annoyed.
She thought for a moment.
“I feel like I’ve seen him before…Years ago…” she whispered.
“If we’re here, then whoever these guys in cloaks are are using us as bait!” Kairi observed, “We’ve gotta get out of here!”
Kiera stretched out her hand, and summoned the Dreamseeker.
“Ask, and you shall receive” she smirked.
Suddenly, a dark portal opened against the wall, within the cell. The two jumped. In came a girl, bright, flowing blonde hair, blue eyes, a simple white dress and white sandals.
“This way!” the girl whispered.
“Who’re you?” Kiera hissed.
“Believe in yourself. Come on, quickly!” The girl responded.
Kiera and Kairi exchanged looks. Then, they cautiously followed the girl through the portal.
The portal opened onto a balcony, overlooking a grim purple sky, and a bright moon in the shape of a heart.
“Kingdom Hearts…” Kiera breathed.
“You know what that is?” Kairi asked.
“I’ve seen it before…” Kiera observed.
Kairi turned to the girl.
“So, who are you, exactly?” Kairi asked.
“My name’s Naminé,” the girl explained, “I’m a friend of Sora’s. Well, he doesn’t remember but…It’s a long story.”
She looked around and grew nervous.
“Come on, we’ve got to keep moving. This way.”
Naminé gestured to a flight of stairs. Kairi and Kiera nodded, and the three ran down the stairway.
Unfortunately, they didn’t get far. The girls screeched to a halt as the man in the cloak appeared again, this time with husks. Kiera summoned Dreamseeker, ready to fight.
“Naminé, there you are” he declared.
“I’m sorry Kairi, Kiera, but I’m afraid leaving is not an option.”
“We didn’t ask for your opinion!” Kiera snapped.
The man ignored her. Instead, he focused his sighed on Kairi. He held out his hand to her.
“I’ll take you to see Sora…”
Kairi scowled at him. Saïx retracted his hand.
“What, you don’t want that?”
“I do. More than anything. But not with you!” Kairi snapped.
Saïx scoffed. “If I had a heart, this would be where I died of laughter.”
“Enough!” Kiera exclaimed, “Thundra!”
Multiple bolts of lightning came crashing down, exterminating the husks almost instantly. Saïx didn’t budge. Kiera powered up her keyblade, lighting it with electricity and ran towards him. Saïx blocked her move with a giant claymore, with the symbol of the Nobodies pasted on the front. Saïx smirked. There was a giant gust of wind, and Saïx shoved her back. Kiera tumbled back and hit the ground.
“Kiera!” Kairi exclaimed.
Kiera jumped to her feet.
Kiera raised her keyblade and fired five balls of fire at once, all homing on Saïx. Saïx dodged all but one, which burned him in the side. He remarked in surprise. Then, he smirked. Suddenly, in a flash of speed, he appeared behind Kiera.
“Kiera! Look out!”
Kiera whirled around and used Dreamseeker to block his attack in the nick of time. But the weight of Saïx’s claymore was heavy. He struck again, Kiera dodged it. She jumped back. She reached into her pocket for her starcharm. But she forgot it was gone.
Suddenly, she felt a giant wallop to the face. Kiera flew back and slammed into the wall. Her vision blurred as she hit the floor. Kairi screamed her name in terror. She tried to run to Kiera but Naminé pulled her back. A higher form of Nobody Husks known as Berserkers began to surround them. Saïx slowly approached her.
“I remember you,” he observed in a low voice, “It’s amazing how an acquaintance can last more than one lifetime. Unfortunately, you are not remembered fondly.”
Kiera struggled to pull her head up.
“You have betrayed the Organization. You are a traitor. Therefore your punishment-”
He raised his claymoore towards Kiera’s chest.
Then, there was the sound of a clashing sword. Saïx paused, and slowly turned around. One by one, the Berserkers fell to the floor, and turned to dust, and behind them, was a figure wearing the same cloak, possessing a dark keyblade. Saïx was surprised.
“You…Didn’t Xzylair take care of you?”
Kiera struggled to see the design of the keyblade. It seemed dangerously familiar, as she observed a blue eye on the hilt, before her head hit the floor. The figure’s keyblade disappeared. Instead, the hooded figure shot a dark ball of fire at Saïx. Saïx quickly blocked it, but in doing so, he let his defense down just enough to let figure grab him, and send him flying against the wall. Saïx hit the ground. The figure approached him. Saïx touched the wall behind him and a dark portal appeared. With a sneer, Saïx stepped through, and disappeared.
The cloaked figure straightened.
“Kiera…” it said, barely audible
He ran to Kiera and bent down. He raised his hand, and there was a warm glow. Kiera was healed. Her vision returned to normal. The figure reached his hand out to her. Kiera looked at him for a moment, suspicious, then took his hand. The two stared at each other for a hot minute. Holding Kairi’s hand, Namine approached him.
“You can take it from here, right?” she clarified.
The figure nodded.
Suddenly, it clicked in her head. Her heart nearly stopped. As the figure turned to walk away, Kiera found herself crying out.
The figure stopped, his back facing her as she inctinstivly grabbed his arm. Her heart raced.
“Could it be?”
“That keyblade…” she finally said, “I know very well who wielded it.”
The figure looked over his shoulder, slightly, but didn’t move.
“Turn around…Let me see you…”
The figure hesitated. Then, slowly, he finally turned. Kiera looked up. He was too tall but… Kiera squinted, peering through the darkness of the hood to see her rescuer’s face. Then, she was taken aback. His face was all wrong! But only one person could possess that keyblade: the Way to the Dawn.
Finally, she said: “…Riku?”
The figure raised his hands to his hood, and slowly pulled it from over his head. Kiera couldn’t believe it. Underneath the hood, was a man, one she had never seen before, with darker skin, long purple-gray hair, and bright yellow eyes. She had remembered seeing this face, but only once, and very brief. In the castle of Hollow Bastion. Ansem: The Seeker of Darkness.
“You’re half right…” came the voice of her brother.
“Oh my god…” Kiera shuddered.
She felt a sudden desire to embrace him, hold him tightly. But a lingering bitterness rekindled.
“What happened to you?” Kiera exclaimed, “Sora told me that you had gone back to our side but…I couldn’t believe it! Not after-!”
“I know…” He gripped her hand tightly, “I have no excuse for what I did. I was jealous of Sora, angry of what happened to Kairi, Sora taking you away from me; I was blinded by the terrible power the darkness gave me.”
His eyes met with hers.
“I’ve been spending the past year serving penance for what I did: Making sure Organization XIII didn’t hurt anyone else, keeping them in check, keeping you and Sora safe until the time was right. With help from Naminé, of course.”
“Naminé…” Kiera echoed.
Kiera turned to Naminé, who sheepishly stood behind Kairi. When she and Kiera locked eyes, she nervously stepped forward. Kiera slowly gestured to her.
“I know your voice. You spoke to me when I was asleep! You said ‘It’s time to reconnect the memories of your past, and your present; reconnect with those who are lost’!”
Naminé lifted her head, and her eyes lit up slightly.
“Did you…Did you help me get my memories back?” Kiera asked.
Naminé was hesitant for a moment. She glanced over at Riku. Riku nodded.
“It’s okay, she can know” he said.
Naminé turned back to Kiera. After a moment, she spoke:
“Yes. It was me. It…It’s a mysterious power I have. I have power over people’s memories. I can create, change, and erase them however I see fit.”
Naminé frowned, and dug her foot into the floor.
“I haven’t always used them for good…”
“When you, Sora, and his friends were all asleep for a year, that was Naminé” Riku elaborated.
“Yes, to make a long story short, I had been forced to change Sora’s memory, even erase some. But I was determined to repay for what I had done.”
Naminé looked back up again.
“Only, you were different, Kiera. Your memories hadn’t been scattered. For whatever reason, the memories of your friends, the lost keyblade wielders, had been buried deep inside your heart. You came to me for help, and I was happy to help. However, as you may have noticed, your memory hasn’t been fully returned…”
“Yeah, why is that?” Kiera wondered.
Naminé was about to answer, but Riku butt in:
“Someone had opened your pod prematurely. Thankfully, Naminé has been able to piece your memory, but it has been more difficult for her.”
Kiera glanced back at Naminé. Her heart swelled.
“Thank you, Naminé!” She said, “I am in your debt.”
Naminé was surprised by such joy and gratitude. It was almost as if she had never received it before. She smiled.
“Thank you, Kiera.”
Just then, Naminé began to shimmer. She was becoming translucent. Kairi and Kiera were alarmed.
“What’s happening? What’s wrong!?” Kairi exclaimed.
“It’s okay,” she responded.
She chuckled sadly.
“This is just what happens when a Nobody interacts with their Other.”
Kiera’s eyes widened.
“What!? You are a Nobody!?” She cried.
“Specifically, I’m Kairi’s Nobody-“
She looked at Kairi.
“I was born when she lost her heart to Sora.”
“You’re…! A part of me-?” Kairi emphasized.
Naminé nodded again.
“Kairi, you have a very strong hold over Sora. You are his guiding light. I think, because of you, that’s why I had power over his memories. But now, I’m glad to give it up. No one should have that kind of power over another.”
Her hands were nearly gone. Naminé began to speak more urgently.
“There are others like me: Nobodies who are hurting. They have been separated, and are lost.” She looked at Kiera. “-Like your friends, the lost keyblade wielders, they have been torn apart by the ravages of darkness. Please find them, Kiera!”
Kiera was dumbfounded that she spoke this specifically to her.
“You have a very special power like I do, Kiera. Use that power to save them. Promise me you will!”
Kiera stammered. “O-of course! I promise!”
Naminé’s smile turned to a beam.
For the last time, she turned to Kairi.
“I was glad to have met you, Kairi, even if it was only a little while.”
“Yeah! Me too!” Kairi exclaimed, “I promise! I’ll find a way to help you!”
Naminé chuckled again. She reached her badly visible hand out to Kairi. Slowly, Kairi took it. And with that, Naminé fully dissolved into light, and disappeared.
There was a small period of silence. Then, Riku stiffened. Calmly, he declared:
“Come on, we need to find Sora and his friends. Saix will be coming after him. The Kingdom Key Keeper has done his job for the Organization. If we don’t find him soon, they will eliminate him.”
Just then, Riku handed Kairi a keyblade, drastically different from either of their keyblades. It was red, pink, and gold, with a heart shaped hilt, and its blade covered with flowers. Kairi was surprised.
Kairi hesitated for a moment, then took it. Her eyes lit up with excitement as she turned to Kiera with a giant grin on her face. Kiera couldn’t help but grin.
“Well, I guess you finally get your chance, Kairi.”
“Mhmm, this time, I’ll fight!” Then added mischievous, “You know Sora’s completely hopeless without us!”
Kiera chuckled. “Darn right.”
There was a threatening sense of deja vu as that heart-shaped moon shone over them. Unpleasant emotions tugged at her heartstrings when she saw that moon, as if something horrible had happened in her past related to that moon. Kingdom Hearts, it seemed to never be a good sign.