Categories > Games > Kingdom Hearts

After the Storm

by Arhel 1 review

The keyblade master deals with unfinished business. Spoilers for KH2, post-game.

Category: Kingdom Hearts - Rating: G - Genres: Fantasy - Characters: Roxas, Sora - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006-11-08 - Updated: 2006-11-08 - 837 words - Complete

Disclaimers: characters belong to Squeenix/Disney.

After the Storm


Saving the world always sounded so final in stories, because stories never really had to deal with the aftermath.

Sora spent most of his days at Hollow Bastion now, exploring the tunnels under the ancient castle and digging for clues at Merlin's behest. The broken machines, the unidentified relics, the remnants of labs and papers that he was just as glad he didn't understand, all those things and more he dug up for examination for people who thankfully had a much better grip on magic theory than himself. Sometimes he was joined by Riku or Kairi or even the King himself, looking desperately for hints of how and why before some other disaster occurred. It was gritty, painstaking work, and really wasn't what he envisioned the storybook heroes doing in their happily-ever-after.

And this hero was working double shift, because when Sora slept, Roxas would step in to deal with the other problems they'd left behind. The small, black ones that would go around stealing people's hearts, for starters. Just because Xemnas was out of the picture didn't mean the Heartless would suddenly go away, and his connections with the Void made Roxas a more suitable hunter than Sora.

He hadn't mentioned the other, selfish reason for his trips, though he suspected Sora knew perfectly well. It was hard to hide things from your other half.

They were easy to spot, by feel if not by form; something about the way they moved or their very presence stirred feelings of familiarity. Some were frightening similar to their counterparts, like the graceful, poisonous vine or the shrill thunderbird. Others were completely different: a thing of shadows and needle-sharp teeth, a dollmaker's mannequin, an iridescent ephemeral serpent.

There was the one that tottered along behind him like a lovesick puppy and rubbed its nose into his elbow. It had been the hardest of all, and even as he watched the heart float away he couldn't help but wonder if it had been the creature's intent to put him off-balance, and hated himself for the thought.

He wasn't sure what world it was - not that it mattered - but the place was strangely silent. Broken white stone inlaid with fanciful patterns of gold and lapis lazuli stretched out beneath him as he traversed paved walkways between collapsed domes and ruined palisades, balconies and roads breaking off into empty space. Around, below, and through the ruins, clouds streamed by in a violent vortex of orange and vermillion, but aside from the howling of the wind not a single creature stirred.

Roxas walked to the single, unbroken dome in the center of the ruined city. Its giant doors were decorated with a pale golden sunburst, and as he laid his palms against them he could feel dry heat permeate through the stone. The sense of familiarity heightened, but he didn't need that to know what awaited him beyond those doors.

The creature in the amphitheatre moved with the easy grace of a hunting cat. Like all the Heartless, its basic color was black, but patterns of orange and russet rippled across its skin, glowing in the dusky light. It unfolded from its crouch as Roxas approached, amber eyes like smoldering coals fixing on the interloper. The keyblade in the boy's left hand burned in answer, and he wondered for a moment why he wasn't smelling singed flesh.

He'd gotten pretty good at sizing up opponents, and knew that the shadow before him was every bit as strong as its other half, and this was its domain. He was going to have to be very, very careful.

The first time they'd fought was when he first awoke, groggy and disoriented from having just popped into existence. He'd lashed out on instinct, and untrained and half-conscious, hadn't been much of a challenge. But then Axel hadn't been seriously trying to hurt him either. If he'd never gone and met the rest of them.

The second time was much the same; he hadn't known who he was, and Axel had wanted to bring him back, even if he hadn't picked the best way of going about it. If he'd believed him then.

They'd fought in earnest the third time, because Axel's time had been running out and, even though he hadn't known it, so had Roxas'. Was there blood? Did he feel pain? He couldn't remember, even if he recalled the feel of the metallic floor under his shoes and every shock that went through his arms when their weapons clashed. If he hadn't walked into that haunted house.

And now would make four. As Roxas leapt forward to meet the beast, old Merlin's words rang through his mind. As long as their hearts were in darkness they would never be free. Even if it meant that he had to destroy all that was left of them now, if it meant that in some other lifetime they could be whole---

If he could someday keep that promise.

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