In a cataclysm known as the Nightfall, the worlds were almost completely destroyed by a harrowing surge of darkness.
In the shadows of the ensuing chaos a new group has taken shape. Led by an Aegyl named Kalos, the 11th Hour touts an esoteric knowledge of how to combat the darkness and restore the worlds. They might be the worlds’ best chance at survival; but nobody really knows enough about them to confirm or deny their claims.
On the brink of collapse, the universe holds its breath in anticipation. Of restoration? Of destruction? It is up to individuals like yourself to decide.
A special thank you to ChasingArtwork of Deviantart, who allowed us to use this stellar banner image.
There aren't enough praises in the world I'd like to give to wonderful coders for the Proboards community. The following have contributed to World Destiny in some way: W3 Schools for countless how-tos and countless of other souls who have helped get WD up to where it is.
Post by Maxwell Tendas on Oct 5, 2019 12:43:49 GMT -4
“Look, Maxwell, you can’t just grab my ears without me knowing,” the man-rabbit said, clearly irritated at the rough nature of his rescue.
“Right, sorry,” Max said, distracted as everyone else joined them at the doors and Aqua decided to lecture them all on their tactics. The lecture was irritating to Max specifically for two reasons, the first of which was that she had deigned to lecture them while still outside and vulnerable to the heartless. Before he could say anything, though, Riku piped up and said what he was sure everyone there was thinking. The second reason her lecture irked him was it was somewhat embedded in Drydenian culture, at least what he could remember of it at that time, to know that no form of combat, whether a duel or a skirmish or a grand battle, ever went smoothly, often rendering even the best-laid plans useless at a moment’s notice. When that happened, you often only had yourself and the person next to you to rely on. Not helping to cover the others’ path through the heartless would have been tantamount to abandonment, at least in his eyes, and abandoning your comrades was a cardinal sin in life and death situations.
He ignored her lecture, though, the only form of response he gave being a small half-snarl, half-grimace as the Keyblade Master pushed the doors open to Castle Oblivion. The expression on his face was quickly wiped away as he stepped through those doors and into a room that was all a bright white. The doors closed behind them all as they walked in and Max turned around once, taking in the whole room. It was empty and open except for a few pillars along the sides and a single set of stairs leading to a door on the far wall. The overall effect was purely unsettling for Max. There didn’t even appear to be dust or dirt anywhere, even on the floor. The dead silence in the room, except for the sounds the members of their small party made, caused the hair on the back of Max’s neck to stand on end, goose-bumps to raise on his arms and his muscles to tense up. While the others seemed to relax some, as the immediate danger seemed to have passed, Max remained on edge, his sword held ready as his eyes darted across the room.
“This place is wrong...” he said quietly, looking around the room one more time to make sure they were alone before setting off across the room at a brisk walk, “Let’s get this over with. I-“
He cut off as the room melted away, replaced with scenes from his past as he relived a flood of new memories all at once. He relived the most intense parts of his training in Dryden’s military academy, days spent learning tactics and battlefield strategy intermingled with the most intense training they had received to-date. There were down nights spent with Donovan and Wren, drinking at the inn in the city, and nights spent alone with just Wren. It all came back in a flash, ending with their graduation from the academy as full-fledged officers in the Drydenian army...
He came back to his surroundings after just a second or two, though it had seemed an eternity to him, and his hand tightened on the grip of Quicksilver. He’s hoped his memories would have waited until they’d returned to Twilight Town. It was lucky this episode had happened while there were no heartless around, or else he could have become a liability to the others. Luckily, the episodes of memories seemed to space themselves out quite a bit, several days usually by his estimation, so it should be fine until they returned to Twilight Town now, provided nothing went wrong and kept them there for longer than that.
“I don’t want to be here longer than I have to,” he continued, looking back at the others before turning and walking towards the door again...
((After one round of rest, everyone restores 5% HP and MP))
However nonsensical it was, Aqua had hoped that Castle Oblivion would feel even the slightest bit like home. Even if nothing looked the same, if the building itself was entirely reoriented and decorated and the gardens, fields, and hills on its outskirts had given way to Darkness, the Heart of her homeland hadn't changed at all, had it? There was no magic that existed that could alter a Heart at its core; certainly not a spell she could cast, at least.
But Castle Oblivion didn't feel like home. She was unable to imagine walking side by side with Terra and talking about the day's lessons here. She couldn't see Ven running excitedly up and down the halls looking for them after hearing they'd returned from Master Eraqus. She couldn't hear the laughter of her friends echo in the bones of this place. Whatever spell Eraqus had taught her really had changed this place at its very foundation, and a pang of remorse echoed through her chest at the thought of it.
Of course this place wasn't home. She'd learned this from her last talk with Xion - home wasn't a place; it was people. Maybe she'd forgotten that after having spent so long out of reach of hers.
"This...won't come as a surprise to any of you, I'm sure," Aqua spoke just above a whisper. "But I've never been very careful with my words. I'm always just a little too quick to say exactly what's on my mind, and that's gotten me in trouble from time to time."
Terra might not have been taken by Xehanort if she hadn't been so chiding in her rebuke of him when they met in Radiant Garden. And holding her tongue there may have saved Ven from wanting to follow in Terra's footsteps. If Ven had been safe, would Master Eraqus have attacked Terra? If Terra hadn't needed to fight back, would the Master still be alive now? Would he have been able to stop all that Xehanort had done to the three of them?
And clearly, if Riku and Max's terse responses to her words were to be taken at face value, she was running the risk of doing the same now.
"I can be harsh, and sometimes I don't do a good enough job of considering the feelings of others or the situation when I speak. I'm sorry if that was the case just now, so please don't think I mean anything personal by it. I value each of you for choosing to come here. That alone outweighs any perceived mistakes you could make."
But was that sort of apology enough? Even with it uttered, would it change how people felt about her?
You wandered this realm for years, and not one soul came for you.
She lifted the ether she'd brought along and crushed it in a trembling grip. Blue mist wafted up from between her fingers and swirled around her, filling her soul with the strength she needed to cast magic once more. Her reserves hadn't been too low after the spells she'd turned in their escape from the Demon Tide, but topping them off wouldn't be a bad idea going forward. What's more - the action seemed to stifle that voice if only for a moment.
"I can go get Ven on my own from here if any of you would want to stay by the exit. I won't be long."
Not daring to face any of them, Aqua stood and turned, taking in the scenery.
Three portals, each located at different sides of the room, and the door to her back. They weren't colored in any way that would make them differentiable - the point of the maze was to confuse, not to guide. But this maze was one she'd strung together herself, and the connection between her and Ven was strong. From here, all she had to do was let her heart be her guiding key. And right now, that key was telling her to go left.
Terra was stolen away, and no amount of begging or apologizing on your part was enough to bring him back to your side.
...or, maybe right? Picking the first direction that came to mind would be brash.
Ven's heart was shattered, and after losing Terra he didn't think he had a single thing worth coming back to.
But if left wasn't it, then right could also be wrong. Maybe forward was the best choice.
Mickey didn't even have an excuse; he just ignored you.
But why couldn't it be left? If that's what her heart said, then that had to be the right answer, right?
The Master would rather be dead than live to see your failures.
Enough of this, she told herself. If she just stood there like a dunce for too long the others would think she was just playing to their sympathies. If she was so torn up about this, she'd just have to pick one at random. And if she was picking randomly, she'd choose forward. At least that way she wouldn't have to look at the angry and disappointed expressions of the others as she turned.
Measured footfalls echoed off the empty walls of the maze she'd trapped them in. Hopefully before long, she could also say she'd gotten them out of it.
Riku’s gaze drifted to Aqua as she spoke, and he simply grew quiet and listened. Up until the last line about how she values each of them, which outweighs the perceived mistakes they could make. Riku winced a bit, but said nothing of it; she had been alone for so long, it no doubt had an effect on her social skills. It was not something Riku had any right to comment on, but they did have to figure out how to work together, and that would prove difficult if they kept sharing harsh words.
So when she mentioned being able to reach Ven on her own, he echoed her advice, ”I don’t think splitting up is the best idea. It’s just like you said Aqua, unity is our best and only weapon,” he looked to the rest of their group, ”We don’t know what this castle has in store for us, we should stick together.”
His gaze fell briefly on Maxwell, noticing the daze the man seemed to be in. He and Aqua both seemed to be quite affected by this place- or perhaps it was their own minds that put such troubled looks on their faces. They all had to focus on what they came here for, and avoid bickering while they were at it. Riku glanced towards the three portals on each of the three walls before them, and then he looked back at Aqua.
Post by Mikhail Rutherford on Oct 20, 2019 3:56:28 GMT -4
The tension in the room was so thick one could almost cut it with a blade. While most took the opportunity to catch their breath and collect themselves after the skirmish, Mikhail, like Max, remained on guard. The group had managed to enter the castle relatively unscathed, but it’d surely take more than just a pair of doors to keep the Heartless from following inside. Staying there like sitting Moogles wasn’t an option. He moved closer to the entrance, resting his back against the wall. There was also the question of how they would avoid the swarm outside once this 'Ventus' had been found, but there really was no point in dwelling on that just yet. Not while there were more pressing matters to attend to.
After a few moments, Mikhail allowed himself to shift some of his attention to their new surroundings. A white hallway stretched before them, lined with a series of matching marble columns and pedestals. A handful of the latter seemed to be occupied by some kind of sculptures, but it was hard to pinpoint their shape from a distance. In a way it reminded him of the sandbox training room he’d found and used on his old Gummi Ship: beckoning, eerie, intimidating.
It wasn’t empty per se, but there definitely was a sense of unfinished to the area. The man was struggling to get a solid read on its aura; it felt… it felt like nothing, like an energy void. There had to be something more to Castle Oblivion, something he just wasn’t getting from a first glance. Was this what Riku was warning them about? That fact coupled with the uncertainty of what lay ahead within the fortress was enough to make him feel a tad uneasy.
Most of the group was pretty much flying blind at this point. Mikhail only hoped Riku and Aqua could keep their heads cool enough to successfully lead them through the castle… and against whatever or whoever guarded its secrets.
"Riku’s right. Trying to hold the line here would probably be a suicide mission. We should get moving before the swarm decides to catch up with us." Rutherford turned to Aqua, Flame’s End still drawn as he awaited her signal to follow through the portal of her choosing.
Post by Maxwell Tendas on Oct 20, 2019 18:34:54 GMT -4
Max hadn’t taken more than two steps before Aqua began speaking again, apologizing and explaining things that, really, had little to no bearing on the current situation. When she ended by saying that maybe the rest of them should wait behind as she went to the center of the castle to retrieve this Ventus she was so close to, Max wheeled around, his temper flaring. As Riku and Mikhail began voicing disagreement, Max stalked back across the room, sword still in hand and his prior discomfort with this castle temporarily forgotten. As the other two finished speaking, he stepped up to Aqua and grabbed a tight hold on one of the straps across her shoulder with his free hand and pulled her close.
“You don’t get off quite that easily from me,” he said, glancing at the other two, then bringing his gaze back to Aqua, staring straight into her eyes, “You’re the leader of this expedition. You don’t just get to run off with absolute idiocy like that! Get your head out of your ass, stop hesitating, and do your damned job. We came here, at great risk to ourselves, to help YOU.”
As he said the last word he let go of her strap with a light push for emphasis before continuing.
“If you can’t figure this shit out yourself, i swear i’ll make a fricken compass out of you,” he said, staring her down, “You might be strong, but strength doesn’t matter without conviction, so i suggest you find some before you get us all killed.”
Oswald looked from one speaker to the other as Aqua beat herself up, then Riku and Mikhail tried to calm Aqua down, Oswald stepping forward to offer a word in on that regard. That was before Maxwell grabbed her strap and started yelling at her, "Hey! Max, calm down!" Oswald said while heading over to him, "Look, she's obbviously beating herself up and we're in some kind of labrynth in the middle of the void, so I don't think we can really take the time to yell at each other right now!"
Post by Fahe Reingard on Oct 20, 2019 21:44:57 GMT -4
Falling to the floor Fahe grunted out holding onto his arm, he started to push himself up before Aqua ran over to him helping him up, "Y-yeah, let's go about that." Fahe said as he ran with her into the castle, breathing harder once he finally got a chance to rest. "Okay, that sucked, I was in the sky, how did they even know I was there..." rubbing his head he watched the scene unfold between Aqua and Maxwell, then between Oswald and Maxwell, backing up towards a wall to try and not get involved in the situation.
Post by Shaizen Latross on Oct 22, 2019 21:00:50 GMT -4
Shaizen stood from his spot against the wall, looking up as he heard Aqua speaking once more. What she said was troubling to say the least, and he could practically feel the lack of confidence coming from her before others spoke to her. They talked about her being the leader, about her doing her job. He knew they were correct, but he also knew there was always more to it than that.
He would sigh and grab Lunar from the wall, walking up behind Aqua and Riku. He stood there while Max said what was on his mind, waiting for him to finish before placing a hand on Aqua's shoulder. He stood there for a second, trying to think of what to say before the words finally came out.
"Aqua... listen, and try to take what I say to heart. You and I, and probably the others here as well... we all share a certain pain. A pain that can cut deeper than any other and leave a scar that will never leave. Loss. We have all lost someone we have cared for, I myself have lost everyone I ever cared for. You are not alone in feeling that pain and dealing with it. But..."
He looked up, his violet eyes locking onto her before he continued. From here his voice was less monotone... and instead was replaced with the first bit of emotion he had shown since he came to Twilight Town. As he spoke, his mind flashed back to when he had first formed the Phoenix Talons Sub-Guild. He remembered the other nine members who had joined, each powerful in their own right. He also remembered when he had to watch as they were taken from him. At this point, pain could be heard in his voice.
"You are alone in one aspect of this. You still have hope. Hope to get your friends back and be with them once again. Hope that I lost before I even got here. That is why we are here, because you followed that hope and we followed you. You let it lead you here and we agreed to help you through this. We are in Darkness, more so than we ever have been. For someone like me... whose heart is balanced the way it is... that is dangerous as it could upset that balance. But I believe in you and that hope which you followed then. We need you to follow that hope once more. Push aside those feelings of worry and fear, and grab onto that hope. Let it lead you to Ventus and we will take care of the rest."
He let go of her shoulder and stepped back, placing the tip of his blade against the ground and keeping his gaze locked onto her.
"Do you understand? Can you find that hope once more and let it be your Light in this Darkness?"
From the time she'd first seen him, Riku had remineded Aqua of a much younger Terra. Even back then, her friend had wanted to protect the people close to him. She could always count on him to be there when she'd been at her lowest, even separated by the border between light and shadow. She had barely made it five steps closer to the portal when Riku's voice stopped her, repeating - more or less - what she'd said earlier back to her. It was true that she'd wanted unity to be their strength, but unity wouldn't do much good if she kept making it hard for them to so much as be around her.
"You're right," Aqua admitted, turning to face him. "I'd still prefer it if we could stick together. But I know I tend to drive people away, and I don't want them forced into staying with me."
Mikhail's thoughts, however, seemed to be on the Heartless they had just outrun.
"I don't think the Heartless will be much of an issue. The castle will be able to cloak our presences from them. At least the ones outside the walls. The Heartless are mindless; they won't attack what's not right in front of them unless they've been ordered to seek us out. If I learned anything during my time in the Realm of Darkness, it's that."
But she'd been wrong about things before, she reminded herself. Trusting the others' instincts could be for the best.
"But you're right, there's no need to take any unnecessary risks. Riku or I can seal the entrance, and then..."
Max's hand found her lapel at that moment, ripping her forward and letting loose with aggression from seemingly nowhere. Her expression turned sour.
Cast him into the maze. Let him cool his head as he wanders without end. Have him taste what it feels like, and maybe that will humble him.
Wordlessly, in the middle of his tirade, a soft orange glow sprouted from the floor beneath Aqua's feet before a chain of light shot forth, wrapping once and then twice over the crook of Max's elbow before snaking down again to the ground and connecting firmly.
"Let. Go." Aqua intoned as both ends of the chain sank further into the ground, biting into the joint and pulling Max firmly against the ground. Max would either release her of his own volition and save his arm or against it when the pressure finally dislocated it, rendering the tendons useless in the process.
Oswald approached Maxwell then, trying to persuade him to lighten up. Maybe he felt like he owed the man who'd helped save him from the Demon Tide, or maybe he thought she'd back down if Max did. Honestly, she wasn't sure she would. Or could, for that matter.
A second chain shot up from the ground, circling Max's free arm to impede his movement.
At that point, Shaizen must have sensed some sort of foreboding beyond the tension. But whereas he might have thought his words were supposed to be an encouragement, or maybe a reassurance, he certainly did seem to pick the oddest time to speak them.
"I think there's more pressing matters to worry about than my resolve or questions as to whether or not I have hope," she said. "I don't doubt for a second that we'll find Ven, and I never meant to say I wanted to leave you all behind. Please don't misunderstand me. I'll welcome all of you, but I'm not here to make you act against your own will and I'm not here to fight you at every turn."
The spike of irritation that trickled into her tone at the end of the sentence was all she'd allow herself. She breathed once in, then out slowly in the manner the Master had instructed her to improve her focus.
"It seems you all think I'm lacking one thing or another," she sighed. "And most of you are probably right, but there's enough time to focus on that later. Right now, I'm here for Ven."
Master Defender flashed into her hands, and with a deft flick of her wrist a beam of light shot to the entrance to the castle. The mark of a keyhole manifested against the door, and even as the light faded away the faintest shimmer still remained.
"There. No Heartless will get past that."
She turned her gaze back to Max, then turned her back and began walking towards the portal she'd chosen earlier on.
"Let's get going."
As she crossed through the threshold and into the next room, the chains holding Max shattered. Whether it was his own resistance against them, a choice on Aqua's part, or the nature of the castle's rooms was anyone's guess.
Post by Maxwell Tendas on Oct 24, 2019 0:58:14 GMT -4
Before Max could let go of Aqua, the floor underneath her began to glow orange and a chain shot out from it. The metal links wrapped around the crook of his elbow and tightened painfully tight before the ends lashed themselves back to the floor and began to pull. As Aqua told him to let go, Max grimaced and released her, but pulled up against the chain as he kept defiant eye contact with her, refusing to let it drag him to his knees. If there was one thing he had in spades, it was stubbornness, enough for him to stand his ground even as it crumbled beneath his feet.
“Acting erratically like this will only get people hurt,” he said through gritted teeth, muscles straining against the oddly warm, magical chains, “And I’ll throw myself over the fire before I watch you march everyone else into it.”
As he finished speaking, the man-rabbit walked up and tried to smooth things over to no avail. That was when a second chain shot out of the ground, aimed for his sword arm. He instinctively lashed out with the blade in an attempt to ward the magic away and was surprised when it cut through the links, severing the magic conjuring them snd turning the entire chain into orange smoke. By this point, the other chain had pulled his arm almost straight down as his muscles began to tire. He swept Quicksilver out again as Aqua began addressing the others again, severing the magic in these links as well. As they turned to orange smoke he sheathed his sword and rubbed his shoulder to ease the ache in his muscles.
As Aqua began to move towards the portal opposite the doors they’d come in through, everyone moved to follow, including Max who lifted Quicksilver and rested the blade on his shoulder. Walking with long, fast strides, he moved up to second-in-line behind the Keyblade Master as she passed through into the next room. Before stepping through himself, Max drew all the water from his canister and formed it into many spheres floating and circling above his hand. If he couldn’t count on Aqua to fulfill her role as leader of this group, he just have to do what he could to protect them all from her blunders...
Riku's weight shifted forward as an angered Max grabbed Aqua and she retaliated with a binding chain spell. Before Riku could intervene, Aqua had stepped away from the conflict, and Max escaped the bindings easily with his peculiar sword. It couldn't be an ordinary blade, Riku now realized. Aqua went on to respond to Mikhail, about how she had no doubts about finding Ven and that they had misinterpreted what she meant about staying behind. While she welcomed them to join her she was just as quick to say she didn't want to force anyone or fight them at every turn. It felt as though she couldn't help but push them further and further away with her harsh words, but Riku wasn't sure he'd be any different if he had been trapped in the Realm of Darkness alone for as long as she had been. Still, regardless of the circumstances, it would not help the situation if their feelings got in the way of accomplishing their mission.
"Listen. We're not getting anywhere by arguing like this. It doesn't matter how any of us feel about each other because right now we're a team. We're only going to find Ven and make it out of this castle by working together, so it's time to stop fighting. We all came here voluntarily. It's too late for any of us to turn back." It may have been a reiteration of what Aqua was trying to say, but he wanted to make it clear that she should listen to those words as much as everyone else here. His held his gaze steadily on Max, and then Aqua as she turned to lock the entrance with her keyblade. After that, she seemed to have chosen their direction as Aqua walked through the center portal with Max following closely behind.
Riku turned to assess the status of the rest of their merry band and noticed the strain Fahe felt as he leaned against a wall. "Are you alright? Can you walk?" Riku would offer to help if the winged boy needed it, but either way he was going to wait and make sure everyone else made it through the portal before Riku went into the portal himself.
There was a part of her, however small, that wanted to listen to the voices in her head. It was a piece she'd done her best to ignore, but what hadn't faded after she'd turned away was the fire burning in the back of her mind. She was impulsive? She was erratic? Was his head even on straight? Was he paying attention to the things he was doing?
She drew in a breath, long, slow, and silent. If she flew off the handle now, all she'd accomplish was proving Max right. She was already walking on eggshells as it was, and she got the feeling that if she gave any of them one more reason to be upset with her that things would spiral out of control. Needing to prevent that wasn't just about keeping the group together for the sake of saving Ven, it was to prove that she wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
She ignored Max, instead favoring to turn her focus to Riku, the steps carrying her towards the portal coming to a halt as he spoke.
Stopping an argument had been something she'd been attempting to do since they opened the door, and it seemed like no matter how many times she tried to extend an olive branch out to the group that it would invariably be slapped away as if it wasn't good enough before one of them offered her the exact same thing she'd been offering them or throwing the very thing she'd been trying to avoid in her face. The intensity of it weighed heavily on her.
Stick together, but don't force people into situations they didn't want to be in. Don't fight your friends, but be ready for them to attack you at a moment's notice. Be grateful to those willing to help, but remember that if you're not careful then it will be your fault when they get hurt. Guide the group to their goal, but don't come off as if you're issuing an order or criticizing poor judgement even as gently as you can unless you want the whole group to tear apart at the seams. She was on a tightrope, and while she had always thought herself graceful she could feel herself coming close to tipping over the edge. If this didn't end soon, she knew she'd do or say something to send herself crashing down to earth. And this time, Terra and the Master wouldn't be there to catch her when she fell.
All the more reason to keep moving forward.
"I know, Riku," Aqua whispered. "I'm trying. But I don't know if that's good enough anymore."
Or, she thought, if that had ever been good enough in the first place.
Aqua began walking again, allowing the light of the portal to fully engulf her. The initial flash was blinding, but as it faded she was brought into a new room in much the same style as the last. Three portals stood at opposite sides of the room, one glowing a dim green, while the others were dyed similarly in red and purple. The maze began here, it seemed.
Maxwell was the second through the portal, followed soon after by Oswald and Mikhail with Riku and Fahe taking up the rear. They had all followed. That should have made her felt reassured.
Her focus, however, was more trained on the flickering of a robe and the heavy clunk of boots against the floor as a figure only halfway seen disappeared into the red-tinged gateway.
"Terra?" Aqua murmured, daring to hope. He'd been trapped in the Darkness before as well, and the worlds had all but fallen. Could it be possible that he'd escaped from Xehanort's control and returned home? She'd told him where he'd hidden Ven away before, right as he'd lost control. If he'd heard her words, he would know to come here. Was he wandering the maze like they were, looking for Ven? Or...had that even been Terra in the first place?
Impulsiveness was her enemy. If Terra was walking the maze, then he'd be using his connection to Ven just like she had. It didn't matter if their paths were different. Their destination was the same.
Aqua closed her eyes and let go of that long, slow, and silent breath she'd taken so long ago. Clarity was important. Necessary. Vital.
"He's this way," Aqua affirmed, turning and pointing to the portal opposite to the one that figure had vanished through, a green hue lighting it up. "I'm almost positive."
Almost as if on cue, as Aqua's words silenced in the still air of the castle, the portal she was facing flickered ever so briefly, the sound of clapping echoing through the hall. At first a black boot, then that familiar black coat the wielders knew so well. And, finally, through the portal, a young man, with hair of white and eyes of gold.
"Well done, Master Aqua. You've finally returned for your friend. How touching."
Xehanort cast an idle gaze to the group behind her, eyes flicking from one to the other, before eventually landing on a familiar face, the other wielder he had faced before. Well... It seems they're finally gathering. Good.
"And I suppose congratulations are in order for you, Riku. You passed your Mastery exam, but at what cost? Your greatest friend is missing, and you've no idea where he is. Truly a pity, but I'm afraid this castle holds nothing to help you in your quest. Only one final secret remains to be revealed in this locked away land, and we have come close to finding it. Your Master here was just so polite as to point us in the right direction."
Another look to the party, and he smiled, a calm and sinister look on his face.
"Listen well, followers of the Keyblade wielders. This "Master" here? She seeks a boy who would be of great benefit to the light, but at great cost. Awakening him will add another Keyblader to the ranks of light, and to dark, and the Unversed will once again be unleashed. This would be of great benefit to Organization XIII, a name I'm sure your more veteran members here will recognize. But, if you're so insistent..."[/color]
He raised his hand before him, and the air around them seemed to flicker and distort, their eyes would feel heavy as if they hadn't blinked in a while. Xehanort smirked, and as he lowered his hand, a blue magic that hadn't been there before faded, reminiscent of ticking clocks shattering into pieces.
"We shall race to the boy first, a game of sorts. It matters not to me who gets to him first, the result will be the same. What you see before you is a remnant of me locked in time, and what you felt was five minutes of your time being wasted. Clock's ticking."[/color]
And with that, Xehanort's form flickered from existence, the realization setting int hat they'd been tricked.
When the portal initially spasmed in the unnatural way it had, Aqua allowed her hopes to rise in response. Could Terra have gone through the wrong portal and been sent back to this room? Or maybe Ven had woken up on his own and was also wandering the maze in search of them?
But before she could voice any of those unfounded desires the clapping began, and the aura their guest exuded hit her in full force.
Just like Terra - just like Xehanort - that silver hair and yellow gaze spoke volumes. The Darkness wafting off of him was more incredible than anything she'd felt before. She'd almost liken it to the same pressure that Terra had exerted when she last encountered him in Radiant Garden. At that thought, the hopes she'd held for the briefest of moments shattered.
"Who are you?" she demanded, stepping back into a defensive stance and swinging Master Defender to her side in preparation for an attack. "What are you doing here?"
The young man continued, revealing his knowledge of not only her own predicament but Riku's as well. He even knew about Ven. And Vanitas.
"You're wrong," she refuted. "Ven and I...We put an end to Vanitas. His heart was shattered. Waking Ven up couldn't possibly resurrect a dead boy even if they joined hearts. I refuse to believe that!"
She lashed out against the white-haired man with her keyblade only for the weapon to be surrounded by the silhouette of ticking and turning clocks as it froze in place, her grip flying loose from the hilt as the swing's force pried her fingers loose from it. Was this...time magic? Master Eraqus had taught her its basics, but she'd always been told it was unreliable. Something told her this man wasn't the sort to gamble, but if he really had such confidence in his control over something supposedly so volatile...
She didn't have the time to carry that thought any further before the overwhelming ache in her eyes set in and Master Defender clattered to the ground. Her hand came up to the bridge of her nose instinctively. That was enough of a distraction for her - and likely them all - to let the man's shadow finish his words.
"Orgainzation...XIII?" Aqua groaned. She'd never heard of them, but supposedly some of the others had. Come to think of it, maybe Riku had mentioned something about them? No, there was no time to ask about that. Apparently now they were on the clock, and she'd done something to point the man in the right direction towards Ven.
Aqua turned, to the group, panic evident on her face. "Let's go," she barked. "He obviously got here before us, and he's not doing us any favors stealing away our time like that either."
She pushed off the floor so hard that she hardly had to take a second step to cross through the threshold of the portal. What laid beyond didn't do much to quash her anxiety.
This room was different. That in and of itself went against the way she'd designed this maze. The rooms were supposed to be symmetrical. Congruent. Identical. It aided in the illusion that no progress was being made. Any difference would be a waypoint - a break in the mirage.
But instead of the simplistic square room with three portals of various colors, this new area was oblong. The corners were rounded, the hall narrow, and sections of the floor were raised upward and sunken down to add the slightest bit of obstacle to its navigation. At the end, on the highest platform adjacent to the steepest depression in the floor, all three of the portals sat. And beyond that...
It was hard to make out properly with just a glance, but the same neon blue and stark black clocks seemed to be fading in and out of sight, rotating around faint auras of energy that themselves traversed the room in arcing, sweeping patterns that covered both the ground and air thoroughly.
Whatever they were, Aqua didn't trust them.
"We'll need to be careful how we navigate here. If you see a way to get to the edge of the room, don't hesitate to..."
She was cut off with the appearance of no less than a dozen packs of different species of Heartless. Sergeants, Large Bodies, swarms of Possessors, and floating wizards of every shade and hue flooded the crests and troughs of the corridor before them. Of course. Things could never be simple.
A nail of frustration drove itself into her heart. Apparently the man was less confident in his ability to find Ven and more confident in his skills with stalling them. "New plan!" Aqua cried, summoning Master Defender into her hand once more. "Avoid the magic and the Heartless. If you can get rid of either, feel free. Let's just make it to the end of this room!"
She charged forward, ducking under one of the roaming auras of magical energy as it made its way towards the group and driving the tip of her keyblade into the chest of one of the Sergeants that was hastily making its way towards her. The strength of her thrust carried the Heartless into the air where it exploded in a burst of Blizzard magic.
If they were lucky, the obstacles would only slow their pursuit of this new enemy by half. If not...
She didn't want to dwell on negatives right now. They needed to get to Ven.
Post by Maxwell Tendas on Dec 6, 2019 7:33:33 GMT -4
Max came through the portal into another empty room behind Aqua, Quicksilver held at the ready. A second empty room was something he hadn’t expected, especially with the way Aqua had talked about it being dangerous before they had left Twilight Town. He’d expected large groups of heartless or traps or something, but not nothing. It made him wonder why she had wanted them all to accompany her in the first place.
As the others exited the portal behind them, the Keyblade Master began to lead them towards a green portal on the opposite wall. Before they had taken only a couple steps, however, the sound of clapping stopped them as a man clad in all black with silver hair and yellow eyes stepped from one of the portals on the opposite side. The man went on a long tirade mocking Riku and Aqua before addressing the rest of them, talking of things that he didn’t really understand. He did pick out the man’s mention of Organization XII, which Mikhail had warned him of, and it sounded like they had a particular interest in Aqua’s friend.
At the end of it all, he raised his hand and a strange ripple passed through the air as Max raised his sword and prepared to charge the black clad man. His eyes felt heavy for a few moments, and then the stranger was lowering his hand as a magic that looked like shattered clocks faded around him. The man announced that they would race to Aqua’s friend, boasting that he didn’t really care which of them reached him first before announcing that he was just an illusion (“locked in time,” whatever that meant) and that five minutes of their time had just been wasted. The heavy feeling in his eyelids lifted, Max cursed under his breath as the man’s illusory form faded away.
Before anyone could do anything else, Aqua’s whole demeanor seemed to change. Clearly worked up, with a panicked look on her face, she turned to the others and in a tone the soldier was all too familiar with that they needed to move. Without waiting to see if anyone was following, she took off through the portal, her feet barely touching the ground as she ran. The whole thing seemed a stark contrast to how she had been acting earlier, seemingly indecisive and unsure of herself in what to do, that it gave Max pause for a brief moment. A small smirk came to his face and he shrugged to himself as he thought that maybe he’d had her wrong and she had just needed to stretch her legs, so to speak. With no time to lose, Max decided to give her leadership one more chance and followed her through the portal, Quicksilver held at the ready as he charged through...
...And came into one of the most bizarre rooms he’d ever seen. The floor was sectioned off, the different sections either sunken down or raised up to make passage seemingly as difficult as possible. It was difficult to make out, but there also seemed to be something reminiscent to the clock-looking magic that the stranger had just used on them, and Max assumed coming into contact with those would have a similar, if not the exact same, effect as his spell had. As if that weren’t obstacle enough, as Aqua began to speak scores of heartless of several different varieties popped into existence in the strange way they they did so, clogging what little maneuvering room was left in the hall-like room.
Aqua called out a plan of action, telling them to deal with the magic and heartless as they needed to, but to just get to the other side of the room as she charged forward, ducking underneath one of the magical auras floating around the room. Max didn’t have time to watch whatever else she did as the magic was coming straight towards the rest of them. He followed the Wielder’s lead and went underneath, throwing himself to the ground and rolling underneath it before coming to his feet just in time to be met with a trio of sergeants leaping for him. He stepped backward, warding them away with a slash from his sword. As they landed back on the ground he took the opportunity to charge into them, attempting to overwhelm the trio with the fury and momentum of his attack....