Chapter 2: Quickening Memory

Page

Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Translations: Goldpanner
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations. 

xxx

Xion stared at the wall, hugging her knees.

This world is horribly quiet.

I’m in a little room inside a big castle. The room that Riku spent time in back then.

This is Hollow Bastion.

Since I left the Organisation, this room is where I’ve been sleeping. I don’t really know how many days it’s been. Every two or three days, Riku pokes his head in here for me.

I haven’t really been dreaming anymore. But, I remember the dream I had that day. The dream I had on Destiny Islands.

The dream where the three of us went to the beach together, and watched the sunset. I want to be with those two—that’s all I wish for. What can I do to become the same as them, I wonder. If we started from such different places, maybe we can’t ever be the same.

I wonder what I should do.

Xion stared at her fingers, then took off her gloves.

White fingers.

That reminds me, I haven’t looked in the mirror for a while. When I was in the Organisation, I looked in the mirror every night. I wonder, what would I look like to myself now?

xxx

Roxas sighed.

He was inside the cave in Agrabah. While on his mission, he had taken the opportunity to venture deep inside the cavern, looking for Xion.

But, he didn’t find her. In all the worlds he’d been to so far, there hadn’t been a single Xion-like sign at all. There was no sign of the fake organisation member that she’d been chasing, either.

Roxas swung the Keyblade down on the Heartless that appeared.

I’ve been able to sleep properly since the day we decided to look for Xion. The world looks bright and vivid, like the blank and hazy days since Xion left were just a lie.

I wonder what the hell all that was about. The days in which I’d only counted the dates—and every day was spent blank and hazy. I had thought that the world went foggy just because Xion wasn’t there, but she’s still not here now. I wonder what’s changed.

The only difference between then and now is that we decided to search for Xion. Would that really make such a difference? I don’t really know.

I guess spending days simply following orders means that I won’t remember those days clearly. I’m definitely going to different worlds, but the things I’m doing don’t change much. But it feels like that’s not all.

Also, I don’t really know why Xion left the Organisation either. Whether she failed a mission, or maybe something happened with Saïx? Maybe something is happening to Xion someplace I don’t know. Xion’s condition had definitely been a little strange. Strange, but I really don’t think it was enough to make her have to leave the Organisation. I wonder why—why, Xion.

There are so many things I don’t know. It pisses me off.

Roxas stared at his own hand, gripping the Keyblade.

It makes me uneasy. I’m thinking about how maybe I’ll never see Xion again.

I’ll try another world tomorrow.

xxx

The mission I’ve been assigned today is, again, to find the fake Organisation member—Riku. It’s been that same old, same old lately. I’d expected that I’d be sent on a mission to search for Xion in top secrecy, but, happily or not, I haven’t received such a mission from Saïx at all.

Axel stared at Neverland’s ocean, and stretched out wide.

I can’t feel Riku or Xion’s presence on this world, either.

I wonder how on earth the Organisation are planning to deal with Xion. What if she intends to look for the Hero’s location while they let her wander free like this? Do they… know where Xion is…? If they did, then they probably wouldn’t send me out to look for Riku’s whereabouts, would they.

Axel still hadn’t reported that Xion was with Riku, even to Saïx. As to why, he was asking himself the same question.

That’s why I could suggest to Roxas that we look for her, though. That’s resolution, and resignation, and then what? Friendship? Axel’s mouth twisted, remembering that word. I’m still unsure somehow.

I’m worrying over what is the best thing to do. Will I find the answer someday?

xxx

Roxas and Axel sat side by side, staring out blankly at the sunset. The usual place—the clock tower in Twilight Town.

Roxas sighed heavily. “Looks like it’s no good…,” he muttered.

They’d searched many worlds, but they hadn’t found her after all.

“Isn’t there anywhere we haven’t looked yet?”

“I’ve looked everywhere I can go,” Roxas replied, staring at his fingers. There are places I haven’t been yet—places I’ve never been. Maybe that’s the kind of place Xion went. That reminds me…

A name floated up in Roxas’ mind. “…The only place I haven’t been is Castle Oblivion.”

Axel turned his face to Roxas, and Roxas stared at Axel.

Yeah, that’s right. I remember talking about Castle Oblivion with Xion before. How did I forget until now?

“Xion wanted to know what was at Castle Oblivion,” Roxas said, without thinking. Axel’s eyebrow twitched, and he frowned slightly. Roxas kept speaking. “Also, the day before Xion left, she was given a very important mission, that’s what you said, wasn’t it Axel? When you have important missions sometimes, Axel, you have to go to Castle Oblivion, right? So Xion also—”

“…But there’s nothing over there now,” said Axel, interrupting Roxas’ words and train of thought alike.

Even so…, thought Roxas, trying to continue, and just then Axel spoke.

“…I hear Xion was born at Castle Oblivion.”

“Huh?” Roxas’ breath was suddenly knocked out.

“That’s probably why she wanted to know what was over there.”

Roxas looked down. “I didn’t… know that.” Xion didn’t tell me that. Not only Xion, Axel too—

“I… only just found out myself,” said Axel.

“Castle Oblivion…,” Roxas murmured. I wonder if Xion knew for a long time that she was born there. Xion and I don’t have human-era memories. Our memories from when we were born as Nobodies are vague, too. So, that’s probably why Xion wanted to know about that time.

I’ve never talked to Xion about it. Maybe, Xion was suffering about it alone. Friends help each other when they are in trouble, but I couldn’t do anything for Xion.

The setting sun shone on Roxas, who sat with his head down.

xxx

I dreamed for the first time in a while. It was of Castle Oblivion. I wonder whose dream this is?

No, maybe it wasn’t a dream, thought Xion, opening her eyes slowly.

I still don’t know concretely what is in that Castle. I have the feeling that I have to go there. There’s definitely a secret in that castle.

xxx

Axel rolled over in the bed in his room, and stared up blankly at the ceiling.

There’s still some time before I have to go to the lobby.

Yesterday, I lied to Roxas. I decided to tell only one lie, but, now that I’ve lied, even when I tell the truth, the lie keeps following me around.

On top of that, even it was really necessary to tell Roxas that Xion was born in Castle Oblivion, I regret it now.

But I don’t want to lie to Roxas, and that thought is important. It’s just like a human, Axel thought. Lies—No, maybe in this case it’s hiding things. I can’t tell Roxas about Xion’s true nature yet. No, I think it’s something I can never tell him.

Amidst that, I hold the faint hope that things can be brought to a state in which Roxas and Xion can be allowed to exist at the same time.

A state in which they are allowed to exist—the thought made Axel smile bitterly. Nobodies aren’t allowed to exist in the first place. Nobodies are originally ‘beings that don’t exist’, after all. So why would I be thinking such things?

Xion and Castle Oblivion—and Riku. That castle is special.

If I go there with Roxas, maybe there’s something that can be learned.

Axel sat up in bed.

If I don’t act by myself, then nothing will change. That’s how it feels.

If I’ve told one lie, then after that, no matter how many lies I tell it’s the same. For taking Roxas to Castle Oblivion, then I should go with there being a powerful enemy having showed up at that castle.

A powerful enemy—in other words, the fake Organisation member, Riku.

xxx

Head full of Castle Oblivion, for the first time in a while, Roxas didn’t sleep well. He headed for the lobby a little later than usual.

After the mission, it would be good to have a lot of time to look for Xion, but only a little will do.

Arriving in the lobby, Roxas saw Axel and Saïx were talking about something.

“The fake Organisation member has showed up again?” Saïx said, and Roxas stopped walking.

“You mean…,” Roxas asked.

“Seems like he’s hanging around Castle Oblivion,” answered Saïx.

The words were out before he could think. “…I’ll go.”

If I meet the fake Organisation member, then I can ask about Xion, and more than anything, I want to go see Castle Oblivion. If I go to this same Castle that Xion wanted to visit, maybe I can learn something.

“Your opponent is a fairly strong enemy. You couldn’t go alone.”

Saix’s gaze is cold. But, that doesn’t mean I’ll give up now.

When he went to push further, Axel spoke quietly. “There’s no problem if I go too then, right?”

Saïx looked at Axel in silence. His gaze was almost reproachful.

“I am the member who knows the most about the Castle here, after all,” Axel went on to say, grinning.

“…Whatever. The two of you are to go eliminate the fake Organisation member at Castle Oblivion,” said Saïx.

Roxas met Axel’s eyes, and they nodded.

Maybe with this, we’ll get a little closer to Xion.

xxx

Riku walked through a dark corridor, holding Xion up.

Xion had said she wanted to return to Castle Oblivion one more time.

In this Realm of In-between, Castle Oblivion is in an even more in-between type of place—‘another level,’ perhaps it can be called.

Right now, I am trying to grant Xion’s wishes to the best of my ability. That’s because I think maybe if I do that, then I’ll come to see what I should do.

A strangely shaped castle rose up beyond the darkness.

Is it just my imagination that I get the feeling that this castle has changed shape since I met Xion here, and since I first came here?

Xion stared up at the castle.

“Are you feeling okay?” Riku called to her back, sensing her body tremble.

“I’m okay,” she replied, and pulled the hood of her coat right up. He couldn’t tell what her expression was like.

Even so, thought Riku. Why on earth was this castle made in the first place…?

xxx

“So this is Castle Oblivion…”

Roxas was looking up at the strange building.

It’s the first time I’ve been to this place—this world. Can this be called a ‘world’? It’s like an extension of the Real of In-between, thought Roxas. This is where Xion was born, and also where many Organisation members were annihilated.

“What on earth is here?”

“’What’…? Research facilities.”

“Research facilities? For what?”

“For what, I wonder… Nobodies and Heartless, I guess, lots of things.”

“What did you do here, Axel?”

At the third question, Axel’s expression became troubled. He tilted his head. “Investigation—I guess?”

“What do you mean, you guess?” Roxas returned, unsatisfied.

Axel shrugged. “It’s a secret.”

When Axel says this, he never gives a proper answer. “…Whatever, I suppose. Is it okay to go in?”

“Of course. We came here on a mission, after all.”

Roxas opened the door. On the other side spread a floor that was very similar to the Organisation’s castle in which he lived.

He set one foot into the castle.

Just then—he got a strange sensation.

Like the world was warping—

Uummm behind me is Axel… right. You guys, you with your annoying quacking, and you there, with that relaxed way of talking, you are…. What the? What is this?

“Roxas?!”

With Axel’s worried voice, a sharp pain plunged into Roxas.

“My head… hurts…” Hurts like I’m being crushed. Not just my head. My chest hurts too. What’s happening?

“Are you okay? Let’s go back…”

I know Axel grabbed my arm to support me. But—

There’s no one here.

But I really did get the feeling that the people we’re looking for would be here…

When I saw this castle, I felt it too. That my important friend… was here.

My important friend—Xion.

“I’m okay. Maybe Xion is here…. Ugh…,” Roxas answered, but he was at his limit. He fell to his knees.

Painful. It hurts. I can’t breathe.

In this place, to find is to lose, and to lose is to find…

“What… is this…”

I don’t get it. Whose voice can I hear? Marluxia? Why can I hear Marluxia’s voice? And—who are you?

“Roxas!”

Axel’s arm was pretty much holding Roxas, supporting him.

Axel’s worried face—that face, is warping.

Many… things are flowing in. What is this? What is happening?

“We’re retreating.”

“Wait… just… a little more… just…”

It was no good. Roxas was fading out of consciousness.

Over already? How sloppy of you.

Whose voice is that?

It’s not over. Like it’d be over. I won’t lose.

“…Riku!”

Suddenly, Roxas snapped into consciousness. His head didn’t hurt anymore.

But what happened just then? I don’t understand.

“Are you okay?!”

Axel was peering into his face worriedly.

Did I pass out…? “What happened to me?”

“You suddenly collapsed. Don’t you remember?”

“I remember up until going into the castle,” Roxas answered, getting up. They were still in Castle Oblivion. But… I don’t really remember much. My head feels kind of jumbled up, but I’m okay now.

“Just rest a little more.” Axel looked worried.

“I’m okay. Deeper in—”

Just when Roxas went to head for a door that lay deeper in the room, he noticed some shadowy figures there.

Two black-coated people were looking at Roxas and Axel.

I don’t know who one is. But the other—

“…Xion?!”

Roxas ran in her direction. There’s no mistaking it, that’s Xion.

Xion took one step forwards, then began to move back. Behind her was—the darkness of In-between.

“Xion! Wait!”
Between Roxas and Xion, who had walked into the dark corridor, stood the other Organisation-coated person.

Roxas gripped the Keyblade in his hand. “…Don’t get in my way!”

But, the person in the Organisation coat only stepped into the darkness of In-between after Xion. Roxas also chased after.

“Wait! Roxas!” Axel followed after too.

xxx

What do I do—I never thought I’d see Roxas at Castle Oblivion. Did I dream about Castle Oblivion yesterday because Roxas was thinking about it? I had no idea that we were that connected.

Xion ran.

I didn’t know where to go, so I just headed for the usual place. Twilight Town.

She ran through the town.

At a dead end in the underpass, she tried to get her breathing under control.

What do I do—maybe if I.

“Do you want do go back?”

“—Huh?”

Xion turned and found Riku standing there.

“How should I know,” she said, in a small voice.

“Then come back. I’ll take you.”

“But—”

“If you don’t know, then it means it’s still not the time.”

It’s still not the time—Xion nodded, and opened up the darkness beside herself.

“…Thank you, Riku.”

And then, Xion disappeared once more.

xxx

He chased after the coated person.

Why are you running away, Xion.

Why—

He chased them through the darkness, and ended up in Twilight Town.

I know the person I’m chasing isn’t Xion. I know, but, why—

It was all a jumble inside his head.

“Calm down, Roxas.”

I can hear Axel’s voice. But how the hell am I meant to calm down?

“We’ve completely lost sight of them,” said Axel, putting his hand on Roxas’ shoulder as Roxas panted heavily.

Roxas turned to him. “…Xion…”

“I don’t think that was Xion,” said Axel, sounding weary.

When I ran after them so recklessly, Axel must have chased after me. He’s panting pretty hard too.

“I think the one that ran off first was Xion…” There’s no mistaking it.

“Well, we know nothing happened to her, so I guess she’ll come home sooner or later.”

Axel’s stupid words pulled at something in Roxas. “And when she comes home and is turned into a dusk?” he asked, turning on Axel unintentionally.

Axel sighed heavily. “It’s not fixed that that’s gonna happen.”

So what do I call this, then. Irritation—impatience.

“That man… why was Xion with him?”

Xion—by that guy.

Roxas bit his lip and looked down, clenching his fists.

xxx

Continue to Chapter 3: Fracture

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s