Deeper Still (Rook, Complete) [Please archive] | World Destiny
Welcome to Kingdom Hearts: World Destiny! We are an AU Kingdom Hearts RP with no word count. World Destiny's story takes place post Dream Drop Distance, at which point we make considerable steps in our own story direction. Feel free to check out the Plot link to find out more!
All guests are welcome to drop in and say hi!
Nightfall: Chapter 2
Two years after the events of Dream Drop Distance, the Darkness became so great that it swallowed the worlds, locking them away within its merciless abyss.
Twilight Town, now covered in eternal night, stands as one of last Sanctuaries of Light. It is where players begin their journey.
Ever resourceful, the Moogles have created a safe place for refugees. They have charged the Denizens of Light with finding Castle Oblivion: it holds a key to the puzzle of the lost worlds.
But within the dark shadows of the sanctuary world a powerful dark force still looms, waiting to strike. Each survivor must choose whether to go to Castle Oblivion or stay behind to protect the world from the dragon that lurks in the shadows.
It took almost all the tiny female had to push the large, gate-like doors open. They swung slowly, growling in protest as their guest set foot inside.
She hadn't even been here a minute and already the air in this town felt colder. It felt like eyes were watching you, especially from the Darkness -- like shadows saturated the very air she breathed.
In an area influenced by the Heartless as much as this one was, she would've counted it strange for Erax not to make an appearance. That Heartless, after all, was the embodiment of Evil itself. In Era's mind, anyway.
She waited until Rook had entered to shove the colossal, ironbound doors closed. She wasn't sure how yet, but she was determined that once she got this beast of the Darkness to appear, she wasn't going to let it go.
Rook got a momentary distraction, nodding to the waitress as they left. In that short instant, Era was already at the door to the Third, pushing open the door. He hurried after, but was too late to assist in her moving the heavt wooden barriers that keps the First safe.
As he stepped through and gave a solid glance about the place, he too could feel somethign amiss in the air. A heaviness. A scent. Something dank that hung in the corners like a spider eyeing prey. He tensed his fists into a white-knuckled ball as he lowered his head, trying to keep the tugging in his heart to a minor annoyance as opposed to a full meltdown.
Something was here, alright. And whatever it was in his heart that weighed on him, it was weighing more and more the longer he stood in the District.
The doors to this district were sealed; a visual comparison to a fighting ring, with the length of the district as their battleground.
Butterflies began to rise in her stomach. This fight would be epic. Epic, but deadly. It stood on the edge of a knife. One wrong move, and they'd find themselves in serious danger.
Well then, she'd have to make sure to get it right.
Concentrating, Era let both hands extend slightly to her sides. The thick layer of silence in this desolate area only magnified the sounds of crackling ice as shadows danced from the palms of her hand, extending forward, drawing icy white lines, and finally completing the weapon summoning. "I know you're here! Come out, Erax!" she growled into the nothingness. A chill ran up her spine, a cold wind sweeping the vacinity, and the shadows along the district began to twist and wiggle. Something was coming to life.
A part of the shadow broke free from the wall, wisping, twirling as it condensed into the silhouette of a small, Onyx Dragon. She perched her ghaunt figure along the wall, glaring golden eyes of the beast locking first on her Somebody, and then on Rook. "What's the matter Era, too coward to challenge me by yourself? No matter. I'll wipe the floor with the both of you..." Though she was created entirely of shadow, a devilish smirk still seemed evident, growing across the Heartless' maw.
A cold, hard stare watched her Heartless as Era spat back, not more than a low growl."As if you'll have the chance!" she readied her weapons, checking her peripheral vision for Rook before charging toward the Shadow Beast, unleashing a devastating dance with her dual swords.
Rook let out a stiffled grunt as the Heartless appeared. That tugging at his heart was now even stronger. Something was definetly not right here. He couldn't quite figure it out.
He shook his head to clear his mind's eye and clenched a fist, "I... I don't know if I-..." He stepped forward, intent on following Era into battle, but hesitated, looking down at the ground. "...No. She isn't a normal Heartless..."
Rook was on the right track. Erax wasn't a normal Heartless. She was Era's Heartless. The bonds that held them together were as strong as the ones that seperated them. But being Era's Heartless, didn't that mean by killing her, Era would in turn cease to exist? Indeed it did.
Maybe that was something the girl should've thought about before rushing into this battle head-on. Luckily the Heartless dodged with little effort on her part. The shadows that held her together burst apart half a second before the Human's blades could fall, only to re-assemble a few feet away. The black beast was still clinging to the walls, claws melding with the shade-covered bricks. A low voice emanated from the Dragon of Darkness. "Silly Human. Your efforts are meaningless! Not only am I superior to you in almost every way, but I would not let you destroy us. You're just too much fun..."
It was then that the circle of Humen-to-Heartless existence clicked, but the last sentence left the girl puzzled. What did Erax mean, she was 'too much fun'? With a solid ready position, Era slowly backed up until she was close to Rook. She only dared risk a quick glance toward him, attention far too fixated on her Heartless. It was now that the web of fear began to spin deep in her stomach, and she found herself doing something she was not known to do. A soft but steady voice broke into the intense atmosphere. "So. . . You got any ideas?"
Rook sat silent for a long moment, watching the wall Erax was perched on. What was wrong with him? All of the sudden there was a lurch in his chest, deeper than any other. A slow, sinking feeling that held him fast, gazing at the shadows as if they held some key.
And indeed they did. Through love and loss, betrayal and loyalty, Rook had since shaped his own existence, and only the deck of cards passed on to him had been with him every step of the way, unwavering in their ability to console him, distract his weary mind.
This Heartless, she was a strong one. Like the one that had laid waste to Hollow Bastion and sent forth its legions, tearing apart everything. And in that nine years, Rook could see many a passing semblance in Era; haunted and walking a fine line between hunted and hunter. Circles were made to never be broken, ever-revolving, sturdy.
And Rook wanted to be remembered. For the longest time, he simply wanted to prove to everyone else that he existed, that he was no simple statistic of a ruined world. He had taken nearly a decade of the worst of it, and somehow made it out alive. Maybe, instead of showing them he had made it, he should show them how. After all, which better relays a tale; telling it, or watching it happen before your eyes?
Rook swallowed his fears for one solid moment and nodded at his companion, "Fight. That's all we can ever really do anyways, right?"
A shimmer, a bright light, and a tinge of whatever magic had been summoned to fill the physical void that it now comprised, a weapon had appeared in Rook's hand. And though he had never seen it before, held it or wielded it before, it was an extension of himself and familiar, themed in the black gold and red of a deck of cards, the four suits adorning the blade. This was the BlackJack Keyblade. And it had been calling for some time now. Rook tightened his grasp on the handle.
"I'll draw her out into the open. You move right of her and I'll circle left. She'll have to turn her back on one of us. We can overwhelm her that way."
He left little room for her to debate, as he hefted his free hand up and aimed it just below where Erax waited. "Guard Light!"
The recoil kicked back at him, his arm whipping upwards as the bursting beam of Light exploded upon the wall under the Heartless, sending wood, concrete and debris everywhere.
The explosion of light made impact with the shadows on her perch, causing the Darkness to dissipate in inky, stringy wisps. At the same time the Heartless emitted a rolling, bestial growl, leaping from the wall and landing herself on the ground between the Humans. A deathly glare was her reaction to Rook, surprise in those devilish eyes. "A Keyblade?!" This fight was about to get ugly.
A shadow-sword stabbed the ground, inches away from the Heartless' neck. Her head snapped back, only to see her Somebody rapidly approaching for a follow-up attack. They wanted to fight fierce, huh?
With eyes fixed on cruel intentions, the Heartless sprung into action. "You're mine!" She lept directly toward her Somebody. It was obvious that to Era, her Heartless had gone crazy and was heading straight for a collision course. That was why she swung her sword -- it was defense. But the hardened, twisting shadows didn't stop the fiend... Or even slow her down.
Out of instinct Era braced herself for a hard hit, but then, right when they were supposed to clash, it seemed Erax had just disappeared.
((Bear with me. I have an idea. Congrats on Ansem by the way! ))
Rook swung hard from behind. The BlackJack whooshed through the air and he closed his eyes, letting out a grunt of effort. When he opened them, she was gone, vanished. The followthrough of his swing was softened as the Keyblade unsummoned, shimmering and blowing a light wind at Era in its wake.
"Where'd...she go?" Rook spun in a slow circle, turning his back to Era, "Stay with me, I got your back. Keep close, you hear?"
He brought his fists up, ready to strike at anything that sprung at him. Rook knew Heartless. He knew their tactics and strike patterns when they melded into the dark, and Traverse Town was not known for its well-lit streets. Erax was definetly at an advantage here.
He took a breath. "Hey... you doing alright, Era?"
A piercing squeak penetrated the immediate atmosphere as Era's steps retreated. She bumped into his back, her body violently quivvering. Fear now resided where confidence had been. Her voice came out weaker, worried. "Rook.. Rook! What's happening to me?!"
Her arms encircled a delicate torso and she hunched over. Her insides were frigid. What was going on? She tried to speak, but her voice somehow seemed blocked. So she did what she was known for, and simply tried harder. The only noise that came out was weak, forced, but perhaps enough.
"Please.. help." A simple, Heart-breaking request.
The shadows around her began reaching out, taking hold of her legs, crawling up her body, covering her in a murky blanket. What took form beneath those shadows was frightening. Era's silhouette was covered in a tattered, flowing Reaper's Cloak. Her icy blue eyes were now impish, glowing slits of gold.
What was this monster? It was colored like a Heartless, but its presence was far fouler. It retained traces of the girl it possesed, and yet it was not Human. This thing -- This Nightmare -- was evil. And it sat, watching him a long, brooding moment.
Its voices were ghastly. Childlike. Perhaps even -- despite its appearance -- cute. Yes, two distinct voices, speaking in unity. "Tell me, Rook, what do you Fear?"
Was this what Era, back in the First District, had been so afraid of?
Rook spun as she made contact with him, and his face was instantly furrowed with fraught. He reached for her, eyes studying her as she convulsed and shivered, "Era..? Era, stay with me, alright? I'll protect you, just..."
His voice trailed away into nothing as he took a reluctant step away. This was not good... whatever was going on, not only was Era in imminent danger of it, but Rook was the one who had brought here here.
"Era...Hold on, alright... I'm...I'm gonna find a way to-..."
"Tell me, Rook, what do you Fear?"
No... this wasn't Era... this wasn't his friend he just shared a drink and chat with... but he wouldn't believe otherwise if he could help it. "Era? Come on... you gotta come back to me, we said we were gonna destroy Erax, right..?"
A shrill, childlike laugh echoed into the corners of the district. "Your courageous words can't reach her now. You're just wasting your breath!" a smirk took to the edges of the grim creature's mouth, and one tattered sleeve raised. A black hand curled around the hilt of Era's sword as a chain took shape from the shadows, dropping from the back of the hilt, coiling around the beast's arm and disappearing beneath the lap of the cloak. Glowing golden eyes were fixed on Rook, brooding the impending assault.
And the demon was in motion, approaching the newly discovered key-bearer with inhuman speed. The strike of the blade was aimed directly for the base of the boy's neck. A simple severing of the spinal column would be all it took to squelch him. The movement of the blade was fast enough to send the cold wind of momentum to graze his skin. And...
The creature's whole body was shaking, torn between dominant entities. The outline was still Nightmare, but then, a flash, and Era was there too. A weak strain of light, obviously fighting against the prevailing darkness. The light of Rook's friendship gave her the strength to fight to the surface, and she was wrestling to keep control. Frozen in place, Era held all her strength against her own arms -- which faught to slice right through her friend's neck.
All she could manage was a quiet whimper. Already she found herself fading back into the dismal creature she had feared. "Rook. . ." But within that plea, she tried to make evident all the words she didn't have time to say: Rook, I don't know what's happening! Scram... Run and don't look back!
A victory was what they came for. Little did Era realize whose victory this would be.
How she held onto her sentience inside Nightmare was a mystery. Usually Era just got pushed into some sort of dark, abyssmal emptiness for a nameless length of time. Now, she was battling with the Dark, harder than she'd ever tried before... Struggling to keep Rook away from the harm that was trying so passionately to ensnare him.
What did he think he was doing? Taunting the Hellion, disregarding any means of sense and self-preservation as though such concepts were mere refuse? Did he not realize the danger here, or was he just too stubborn to let it sink in?
Era had defied the odds and stilled her Heartless once, but even that was a physical strain. How much strength did Rook think she had? And yet, he was so sure they'd both make it out of here.
It was confirmed. Rook was crazy.
Nightmare was trying to sweep her into action again, shadow-sword locked in an iron grip, momentum throwing her body into motion. But Era would not let it end here. She found herself somewhere between the shadowy abyss that was dragging her down, and the ugly reality that might've been the end of her friend's life.
If felt weird to scream, and she was sure that Rook couldn't hear her, but what else could she do? She wasn't going to let this go down without a fight! "Get out of my head!" the words, while she was using a healthy dose of volume, were muted to the outside world... Or so it felt. It was hard to be sure of things here.
A sickening feeling settled near the top of Era's stomach, and she found herself curled in a position akin to the one where Nightmare had first taken hold. Followed shortly thereafter was a heaviness near her temples but, inconceivably, she'd made it. Rook undoubtedly played a role in this unthinkable event, though the extent of his aid in the matter was difficult to gauge.
The grim cloak dissolved into shadows, running off her legs and disappearing into the ground beneath. It seemed that the Heartless had been, for the time, chased away. Rook could celebrate a victory that until now had been unreachable by Somebodies and Nobodies alike.
As Era's appearance shifted back to her own, her face brought on a sallow, weathered expression. The energy that tended to define her had been sapped and she collapsed, however unfortunate, onto Rook.
When staring down the length of a blade, time seemed to crawl. On account of that one fact alone, Rook could not be certain if, by the end of this, his neck would be cleaved in twain, or horribly cramped.
The sheer fact of there being hesitation in the Nightmare's actions was proof enough that his display had some effect. Was Era fighting back somewhere in there? Rook wasn't sure from here, but like he said, he wasn't leaving without her, be it side by side, hand in hand, carrying her corpse, or her carrying his. He saved her life once earlier tonight, if she were to repay the favor, this would be a fantastic time.
"Get out of my head!"
It sounded like a warning, but nothing audible. Rook placed a hand over his chest, the only other place the voice could resonate, if not made physical. His heart. She was fighting back. And he smiled at this.
But as the creature that enshrouded her began to wither and retreat, Era fell forward, and Rook grabbed her in midair, holding her in his arms while he craned his neck back to check her face. She looked exhausted, but she was breathing. But that was only one of the problems that faced them now.
Shifting her weight on his shoulder, he took her limp body in one arm, holding out the other, the BlackJack appearing in it once again, "You're not taking her that easy, Heartless! You want her? You gotta go through me first! No one hurts my friends while I still have something to say about it!"
Please, don't make me keep fighting. We're done. Good enough... let's go home. These were the thoughts that bitter fatigue had planted in her mind. The ones that she would've plainly stated, if she could have found her voice.
In the awkward cradle of Rook's arm it would have been very easy for her to find herself sleeping. Weariness was calling so strongly now, tempting her to fall into a blissful state of slumber. But a stronger voice was pulling her consciousness the other direction -- telling her that Rook was still out there, still fighting... And that was the side she couldn't ignore.
Pressing her heavy eyelids open, cold blue eyes pulled their surroundings into focus. Settling back onto her own two feet, Era mumbled. "I can help, too." the grip on her weapon had never loosened. The blade was still ready for blood. And after tonight's unfurling events, Heartless was on the menu.
Personally, Era was surprised she was still standing... But that wasn't something Rook needed to know. After all, there was no sense in worrying him. Especially not now.
After the boy's daring words, Era had expected Nightmare to come back... Expected Erax to throw some sort of unseen attack, but for a long instant, only silence ensued.