Riku and Sora whirled around with alarm just as the gate closed behind them, blocking them off from their friends. A light from somewhere began to grow. Kiera’s head started throbbing again. This time it was nearly unbearable. She collapsed down to the ground again, clutching her head.
“Kiera!” Kairi exclaimed, running towards her.
The light grew brighter. Donald, Goofy, and King Mickey covered their eyes, struggling to see.
“Kiera! Kairi!” They exclaimed.
Kairi clutched Kiera tightly.
Kiera couldn’t handle the pain anymore. She struggled to say a name, before passing out onto the floor. The light was now blinding, and the Castle that Never Was, faded away.
Darkness. Though she stood on solid ground, there was no telling where it began and where it ended. A girl appeared, her back facing Kiera, long unkept peach hair, wearing a familiar black coat. Kiera tried to speak, but she was mute. She reached for the girl as she walked away, and disappeared into darkness.
Wind whistled through her ears. A heat rose over her, and sand gently hit her face. She stirred. She opened her eyes, and pulled herself up. The pain had ceased. She felt a little strength renewed to her. She looked around. Canyons surrounded her. It was so dry, the earth beneath her was cracked.
“Why am I here?” She wondered aloud.
She called: “KAIRI!? DONALD!? GOOFY!? MICKEY!?”
No answer. Somehow, she sensed they didn’t follow her here.
“I hope they’re alright…” she thought, worriedly.
Behind a particularly large mountain, she could see something. She walked forward. It took a great distance to get around it, but once she made it, a chill went down her spine. Black, lifeless, cold keyblades, stretching on for miles and miles, stuck deep into the dry rock. She shivered.
“Why was I brought here!?” She exclaimed.
The memories came flooding back again. All her friends getting kicked and beaten, standing there helpless, all of them lost.
The Keyblade Graveyard.
She began to take steps back.
“I don’t want to be here…I don’t want to be here…I don’t want to be here…I gotta get out…I gotta get away…Don’t like this place…I don’t like this place…I can’t stay here…I hate it here!”
Suddenly, she felt a giant gust of wind. She instinctively bent backwards. A bright, gold and brown keyblade gleamed in the sunlight, barely avoiding her face. A figure slid forward. Kiera summoned Dreamseeker and deflected the last blow. The sun blinded her view of her attacker. She pushed the figure back with all her might. Sand and dust kicked up as the figure slid across the ground.
“THUNDARA!” Kiera cried.
Thunder came down and struck the ground. The figure avoided each blast. They came at her again, this time with three blows at once. Kiera blocked two, with the third sending her flying back. The figure rushed towards her. Kiera threw her keyblade up to block. The figure clashed with her, looming over her, bearing all their weight down on her. She still couldn’t see who they were. With all her might, Kiera pushed him back.
Ice shot from Dreamseeker. She managed to hit her attacker twice, freezing their keyblade hand and a leg. Kiera’s strength waned. She pulled herself up.
“I don’t know who they are, but I can’t keep up with them. I’m too weak.”
Then, she reached into her pocket. The red wayfinder shined in the sunlight. She closed her eyes, and put the Wayfinder closer to her chest.
Almost instantly, energy returned to her. Green and red orbs appeared and began to swirl around her. Her eyes glowed, and her keyblade shimmered. Just as the figure broke through the freeze and was ready for another blow, Kiera shouted, another familiar voice mingling with hers:
The wind suddenly howled: a tornado blew up around her. A few dead keyblades on the outskirts were plucked from the ground and pulled in. The figure tried to hold their ground, but lost their bearing and was soon sucked in. Kiera raised her keyblade, and struck them. A sonic wave surged through the graveyard. Her attacker flew all the way back and slammed into a canyon wall, one of the dead keyblades piercing their stomach, trapping them instantly.
The wind died down. Kiera’s eyes faded to violet. The power left her, but her courage kindled. After quickly recomposing herself, she marched towards the figure. Clouds moved overtop the sun, and its rays faded. Finally, she was able to see her enemy.
It was a suit of armor. Tarnished and damaged, color drastically faded, wearing a tattered, dark crimson cape. Kiera was puzzled at first. The armor stirred to life. Kiera summoned Dreamseeker again and stood firmly. Calmly, the armor reached for the old keyblade. With some effort, it pulled the blade from its torso, and flicked it away. It landed feet-first onto the ground. It straightened, and stared at her. It didn’t move. It no longer had the desire to attack her. It just…looked at her. Kiera didn’t understand. Then, suddenly, when her eyes glanced over at the Keyblade it bore, she knew.
It had a textured, dark brown color, with brass edges. The teeth on its blade were made of two pick-like points, with two hammer-like protrusion on the opposite side, its hilt an off-blue color. Earth-Shaker.
Kiera dropped her keyblade in shock. A shiver went down her spine. Her breath wavered, and she shook. Slowly, she stepped forward. The suit of armor did the same, till they were right in front of each other. Kiera extended her hand up and gently touched its cracked helmet. Her heart raced.
The armor lifted his gloved hand and tenderly held hers. Tears formed in her eyes.
They fell, and Kiera wept. Her entire body trembled; Her vision impaired by the flood.
“I failed you!” she sobbed, “I failed all of you! I was supposed to take care of you! I promised-!” She squeezed her eyes closed, and she gasped, “I promise Aqua…! It’s all my fault! I lost Ven…! I lost Aqua…! I couldn’t even save you!”
Her shame grew so great, she couldn’t bear to look into the reflection of his helmet.
“Why me? Why was I spared!? I don’t deserve it! I don’t deserve to have a home, to have friends, even this power-!” She clenched her fist. “-I can’t save anyone! Everyone’s gone…because of me!”
Soft leather brushed against her cheek. She opened her eyes. The armor wiped away her tears. He pulled her delicately into his arms. Her head laid against his chest. There was no heartbeat, just the hollow sound of the wind hissing through the cracks. Despite the soot, and dirt, the emptiness of the suit, Terra’s presence was prominent. Kiera buried her face in him, and cried a little more, this time silently.
“It is not your fault Kiera. It never was. You’re a good friend to me; and for that, I’m forever grateful. But my burdens are not yours to bear. It never was. Right now, I need to follow my own path, discover who I’m supposed to be; and…until I do, I need you to look after Ven for me.”
“Ventus is…fearless and driven, but he is still young. He doesn’t understand, and I’m afraid that me leaving is gonna make it worse. I need you to protect him.”
At last, Kiera’s tears began to dry. She sniffed. She pulled away slightly, and lifted her eyes. He lifted her chin. Though there was no face behind the mask, she could sense his smile. She wiped her face with her jacket sleeve.
Finally, she breathed:
The armor nodded. She shifted her weight.
“I don’t suppose…You can come with me…?” she asked.
He slowly shook his head. He stuck Earth-Shaker into the ground, put both of his hands onto the keyblade’s grip, and straightened.
“I see…You can’t leave…” She stated, gravely disappointed.
She took a deep breath.
“I guess…I at least know where you are…Well, part of you anyway…”
The armor was still. She glanced at her shoulder to her armor piece. She sighed sadly.
“I’ll come back to you, Terra…I swear it!”
They stood there for a long moment. It was hard for Kiera to leave. Begrudgingly, she touched the armor piece. Her vehicle appeared, and her armor materialized. She remained there for one more moment, before she slowly boarded the spacecraft.
And with that, she jettisoned into the air. Looking behind her, she entered the atmosphere, and into the Lanes Between.