Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations.
I’ve gone to Castle Oblivion many times, now.
There’s a special place in that castle. But there aren’t many Organisation members who know of it.
Axel arranged his clothes, and left his room.
I won’t see this room for a while.
As he walked through the hallway, a voice came from behind. “Axel, a message from Lord Xemnas.”
He turned in silence to find Saïx watching him, expressionlessly.
“There are traitors amongst the members going to Castle Oblivion. Find and dispose of them.”
Axel could hear something round-a-bout in the way Saïx was speaking.
There aren’t any other members around, so it’s not necessary for him to go to the trouble of saying something like that in that way. Axel’s eyes narrowed slightly. But then, Saïx does like to use that kind of indirect, noncommittal way of speaking.
“I wonder, is that message really from Lord Xemnas?” Axel said, words tumbling out.
Saïx only raised both eyebrows, and said, “It’s the same thing either way, isn’t it?”
“Not exactly,” Axel pointed out, and Saïx sighed.
“It doesn’t matter. Go take care of the traitors.”
“Roger that,” said Axel, turning his back on Saïx and walking away.
There are six members going to Castle Oblivion, including myself. How many are traitors? And, what defines ‘traitor’?
I’m supposed to judge everything for myself, am I.
What the hell is going to happen at Castle Oblivion? This is getting interesting.
Unknowingly, Axel’s mouth was twisting into a grin.
Waking up, Roxas stuffed the ice cream stick he’d left next to his pillow into his pocket, and left his room.
He wanted to know the meaning of that ‘winner’ word he had found written on it yesterday.
Rushing into the lobby, Roxas looked around. He didn’t see Axel.
“If you’re after Axel, he’s already gone,” said Saïx, passing by Roxas.
“Huh…” Roxas squeezed the ice cream stick in his pocket. It looks like I wasn’t in time to see him off.
“Did you need him for something?” asked Saïx, glancing at Roxas.
“Not really…” Roxas looked down, so as to keep his eyes away from Saïx.
“Whatever. You’re going on a mission with Xion today.”
“…With Xion?” Roxas lifted his face. Xion, was in a corner of the lobby, hood up. “…Got it,” he nodded, but there was no reaction from Xion, whether listening or not. “Let’s go,” Roxas called, but Xion didn’t move an inch, of course. Nothing for it, he opened the darkness beside him, and stepped inside.
At the edge of his vision, he saw Xion move.
Looks like they’re actually following.
Inside the dark corridor, he turned back, to find Xion had followed him, hood still up.
Not feeling like there was anything special to say, Roxas continued walking.
Today’s mission is, like always, in Twilight Town.
Roxas gripped the keyblade. Running up Twilight Town’s slope, he routed some plant-type Heartless.
Xion is following me, but not doing a thing. Not holding a weapon, or using magic. Just zoned out and rooted to the ground.
A plant-type Heartless spat out a seed which hit Xion, who fell to the ground, not even crying out. Roxas hesitated for a moment as to whether or not he should help, but then he swung the keyblade down on the Heartless that was still spitting seeds.
As the Heartless disappeared, a heart floated up.
“—that’s all, I think.” Xion just stood up, not even reacting to Roxas’ words. Xion’s black coat was dirtied with dust, but didn’t even brush it off.
That was pretty weird, but we still managed to finish the mission safely.
“I have to drop by somewhere first, so would you… go ahead and RTC?”
Without so much as a nod, Xion started walking, probably heading for the dark corridor.
Roxas turned his back on Xion, and headed for the milkbar in the tram plaza.
I finished the mission, and I want to eat ice cream.
It’s boring to just go back and forth between the castle and missions.
“…One sea salt ice cream,” Roxas said to the lady at the milkbar.
“Okay, that’s 20 munny, then.”
Roxas handed over two 10 munny coins, and received an ice cream wrapped in a clear sheet.
You know, this is the first time I’ve bought an ice cream at a shop.
Axel always buys it for me.
Roxas went to walk away, ice cream in hand, but then suddenly he stopped.
The stick from yesterday was in his pocket.
Roxas held it out in front of the lady. “What does this mean?”
“Oh, that’s a winner! Congratulations!”
He’d never been told that word before.
“I’ll give you one more ice cream.”
“What about the munny…?”
I don’t really understand what ‘give’ means.
You get things in exchange for a number of munny or hearts, I’ve definitely heard that.
“Don’t worry about it. You won! Have you got a friend to share it with?”
“…I do, but… he’s not here today,” said Roxas, thinking of Axel.
“Well then, you should use it when you can eat with your friend. You’ll get a stomach ache if you eat two ice creams on your own, dear.”
“With my friend… I get it.”
When Axel’s come back, I’ll show him this stick and we’ll eat ice cream together.
Ice cream in hand, Roxas started walking towards the clock tower.
Castle Oblivion lay in the world between worlds.
The world between worlds referred to a world that belonged to neither the realm of light nor the realm of darkness, and sat between the two. A space left to beings that did not exist, not of light and not of dark, as it were. It was a dusky world wrapped in mist, with a road that stretched right through it. Members of the Organisation were able to set foot in formerly separated worlds by travelling the pathless track called the dark corridor from that world between worlds.
In a particular room in Castle Oblivion, Axel was sitting on a sofa. It was pretty much the same make as that of the one in the lobby in the Castle That Never Was, right down to the uncomfortableness.
Castle Oblivion was an unpleasant place.
Each floor of the castle, divided into upstairs and basement sections, was controlled by memory; shape changing in accordance to the memories of those who entered the rooms.
And, there was a memory-manipulating witch in the castle who wasn’t allowed to leave—Naminé.
The Organisation is going ahead with a plan to rewrite the Hero’s memories, using Naminé’s power.
In truth, Naminé is neither Heartless nor human. Maybe she isn’t even a Nobody.
A witch born by special means—that’s right, a girl born from a princess’s heart.
Axel watched the crystal ball across from him, one that Marluxia had left in the middle of the room.
The crystal ball showed the Keyblade Hero, Sora.
The power of a keyblade wielder is necessary to the Organisation, seeking hearts.
But, we already have a keyblade wielder—Roxas. I think the Organisation is trying to get another one.
What is a keyblade, anyway?
They say only special people can use them, but at least two keyblade wielders—both Roxas and Sora, a Nobody and a human—have been confirmed to be able to.
Marluxia, who had been watching the crystal ball, turned to Axel. “Oh yes. How are the basement group getting along?”
Covering up a jolt, Axel stood up.
There seem to be tensions between the upstairs group—newcomers with Marluxia and Larxene as centre— and the basement group—Zexion, Vexen and Lexeaus, senior members of the Organisation and former apprentices of Ansem the Wise. As a newcomer I’ve been assigned to the upstairs group, and I’ve been keeping watch on the basement group according to Marluxia’s orders.
“Looks like the basement group has company as well. Riku—you heard that name before?”
I’ve heard that Riku has previously been controlled by Xehanort’s Heartless, formerly known as Ansem. Xehanort… in other words, someone extremely close to Xemnas.
“Ho… one who was piled with darkness…”
“So you do know.”
The castle was suddenly thrown into a flurry since we received reports that Sora had invaded the upstairs, and Riku the basement.
“I wonder what they’re up to.”
“Weeell… you know about the research they’re doing down in the basement, right?”
Just because we’re assigned to the same castle, doesn’t mean every member knows all of the goals and missions in this place. When it comes down to it, the members of the Organisation act independently.
“You’re speaking of Vexen’s worthless research?”
“Well, I dunno whether it’s worthless.”
“I can’t see how those dolls can be useful. Well then—I must be going. The Hero is present,” said Marluxia, and his figure vanished.
Even inside Castle Oblivion, members of the Organisation could move via the dark corridors.
Following Marluxia, Axel’s figure also disappeared.
The next morning, Roxas entered the lobby to find Demyx and Xigbar standing around Xion, talking about something in the middle of the lobby.
“Feels much better with those annoying guys gone, doesn’t it?” Demyx asked Xion, but Xion’s mouth didn’t open, hood up as always.
“Annoying guys…?” asked Roxas, walking up, and Demyx shrugged.
“The guys who went to Castle Oblivion,” said Demyx, looking at Xigbar as if seeking agreement.
“You know, you and poppet joined pretty much when those guys left for Castle Oblivion, didn’t you.”
Roxas tilted his head at the unfamiliar name. “Poppet?”
“I’m talking about Xion, kiddo,” said Xigbar, amused for some reason.
Does he mean me?
Just as he was thinking this, someone interrupted.
It was Saïx.
“Today you’re also going to Twilight Town with Xion, on Heartless extermination.”
“…Got it,” Roxas replied, but of course Xion didn’t answer. It didn’t seem like Saïx had any questions about Xion’s lack of a reply, though.
Roxas looked back at Xion, and opened a dark corridor.
If I go my own way, I guess Xion will follow as they please.
Turning back again, Xion was indeed following, just like yesterday.
The mission was to defeat the Heartless that appeared in Twilight Town’s vacant lot.
Without giving Xion any instructions, Roxas ran alone into the pack of Heartless, swinging his keyblade.
However, it was a little different to how yesterday had been.
From the middle of the scuffle, Xion, using a little magic, entered the field of vision.
Xion wasn’t just standing around idly like last time.
Upon finishing the last Heartless, Roxas realised Xion was looking his way.
“I’ve got somewhere I have to drop by today, too, so would you go ahead and RTC?” said Roxas, and he started walking.
“Huh?” He turned; it was the first time he’d heard that voice. “Xion…?”
It was a girl’s voice. Hood still up, Xion didn’t move at all.
Just when Roxas was thinking it must have been his imagination, Xion opened her mouth again.
“Roxas… can I call you that?”
What else is there to call me.
“Yeah,” he answered, and Xion nodded, going off to enter the dark corridor.
“Roxas… right…” he muttered subconsciously, as if he were having second thoughts, and headed for the milk bar.
The Keyblade Hero’s party—Sora, Donald and Goofy—faced the hooded Marluxia.
Readying the keyblade like that, Sora really does look like Roxas, thought Axel, furtively studying the situation while concealing himself.
Castle Oblivion—Floor 1.
“…How was it? Did you enjoy meeting those visions from your memories?”
“I was happy that I could meet everyone. But, why are you showing me these visions?” Sora asked, and Marluxia folded his arms in thought. He wants to try and touch Sora, if he can, thought Axel.
It’s definitely not in Marluxia’s plan for me to show myself here.
Axel appeared next to Marluxia.
“What do you want,” asked Marluxia, disagreeable as predicted.
“It’s boring, you keeping the hero all to yourself,” answered Axel, bending forwards and looking at Sora.
They really do look alike…
Sora was glaring at Axel and Marluxia with all his might.
“You test him, if you’re interested.” Marluxia threw three cards to Axel.
“Oh hey—it’s ok? I’ll be sharp,” replied Axel, jokingly, and Marluxia disappeared without a word.
“—Wait!” Sora ran forwards, as if to chase after the vanished Marluxia. However, Axel stood before him, blocking the way.
“So this is how it is, Keyblade Hero.”
“Who are you.” Sora readied his keyblade once more.
“My name is Axel. Got it memorised?”
I said the same thing to Roxas, just a few days ago.
Sora straightened his back, and looked at Axel.
“That’s great, you learn fast,” laughed Axel, making his chakrams appear.
Behind, Donald readied his staff, and Goofy lifted his shield.
“Well then, Sora. You’ve gone and memorised it and all, so—don’t let yourself get done in too easily!” Axel declared, and jumped at Goofy.
He sent Goofy flying.
Following it up, he got the other one—Donald, flicking him back, staff and all, forcing him to retreat.
Sora was left.
After taking a moment, Axel lifted his arm, and flames shot out.
The flames bore down on Sora, like a wall.
“You stay there like that, and you’ll be toast!”
Instead, at Axel’s attack, Sora called back his two retreated friends, Donald and Goofy, took them by the hand, and ran into the flames. They passed through the fire, spinning.
“You’re doing good, aren’t you?”
Sora ran at the laughing Axel, and swung the keyblade down. Axel parried the keyblade with his chakrams, but he vanished, pretending to have taken the hit.
I don’t need to defeat Sora here. On the contrary, I must not defeat him.
Still concealed, Axel threw the cards he’d received from Marluxia at Sora.
“..Am I supposed to use these, am I…”
“Correct,” answered Axel, re-appearing.
“Axel?!” Sora yelled. He seemed very surprised; he must have thought he’d defeated Axel.
“I’d be an idiot to go down right after an introduction like that, wouldn’t I?” said Axel, teasing Sora and the others.
“So you were only testing our power just now.” Sora readied the keyblade.
“You pass, Sora. You have power. The power to walk through Castle Oblivion… let the memories branded in your hearts, and the important, forgotten memories, guide you—and you’ll meet someone very important to you.
Goofy tilted his head. “Can we meet the King, and Riku?”
“I wonder. You have to have a big think about who your most important person is. The really important memories are locked deep in the heart, unable to be recalled. You should have those kinds of memories too, Sora.”
“Me too?” Sora loosened his grip on the keyblade.
While saying things to stir Sora up, Axel thought.
Nobodies are controlled by memories. And because they control us, we stop being able to remember.
Maybe that has happened to me.
And, now, Sora has entered this castle and his memories are being complicated by Marluxia and the power of the witch—Naminé.
In this castle, we must replace Sora’s memories.
Those words were part of the strategy.
“You’ve lost sight of the light in the darkness, you’re even forgetting that you’ve lost sight.”
“Light, in the darkness…” Sora murmured. It seemed like he’d realised something.
“I can tell you, if you want,” Axel invited, as a follow-up strike.
Goofy peered into Sora’s face, doubtfully. “Sora, what’ll we do?” he asked, but—
“I’ll find out for myself!” Sora declared, readying his keyblade again.
“—Good answer. That’s why you’re the Keyblade Hero, isn’t it. But, I’ll leave you with just this warning. When your sleeping memories awaken, you might not be you,” Axel said, and vanished.
It’s been three days since Axel went away.
Xion was standing in the same old lobby, like yesterday.
No—it’s a little different, thought Roxas.
The moment Roxas had entered the lobby, Xion had moved a just a little, and she had looked over at him from under her hood… or so it had felt.
Roxas approached Xion, and spoke to her. “Morning, Xion.”
Xion stayed stock still.
It was probably my imagination that she reacted to me, then.
Not knowing what he should do, Roxas was at a loss.
But—Xion was staring at him, definitely different to yesterday.
“Um… did you want something?” Those were the words that came out of his mouth, unthinking. I greeted her and everything, but even so, even I think asking something like that is weird. But, I didn’t know what to do.
That was definitely a greeting.
He couldn’t believe this was the same Xion from yesterday.
“Ah, yeah…” said Roxas, replying automatically, at a loss for words. Just then, Saïx broke in.
“Today, you two will be completing a mission of great importance for us. You’ll be subjugating a huge Heartless.”
“A huge Heartless…”
I’ve been on missions to defeat Heartless before, but this will be the first time I’ll be subjugating a Heartless that could be called huge.
“Don’t let your guard down,” said Saïx, and Roxas nodded.
“Let’s go, Xion.”
It looked like Xion nodded.
Roxas and company stepped out of the dark corridor, and into Twilight Town.
At the open space at the top of the stairs, the sunset was dazzling.
Roxas turned back upon hearing the call, to find Xion staring at him.
As always, I can’t tell her expression under that hood—he was thinking, when.
Showing from inside the hood was a black-haired girl.
It’s like—I’ve met her somewhere before, or something.
But this is the first time I’ve seen Xion’s face.
“Let’s do our best, today.”
Xion was smiling.
I don’t know where this huge Heartless is meant to be.
But, there aren’t many places in which a huge Heartless could move around.
There’s—in front of the station’s clock tower, for one.
Roxas started running.
The station’s bell rang out just as they got there. As if the bell had been a signal, the air vibrated. And then, at the same time, something roared behind them.
Turning back reflexively, a pitch-black, human-shaped Heartless—a darkside—was appearing out of the ground.
“That’s the target Heartless… let’s go!”
Roxas called the keyblade to his hand. Fully appeared, the enemy was as big as the clock tower.
“Yeah,” Xion replied. Xion hasn’t got a weapon in her hand, but, I guess she’ll support me with magic, like before.
Roxas ran at the darkside.
Right on the darkside’s chest a heart-shaped hollow, uncannily showing the scenery on the other side. Do darksides start attacking, looking for that lost heart?
Roxas jumped, trying to shake off those useless thoughts, swinging the keyblade up, aiming at the darkside’s arm.
Swinging down, Roxas felt a definite response from the darkside’s body, wrapped in dark mist.
At the same time, from behind, Xion shot a fireball at the darkside’s head. It let out an eerie scream, and beat the ground with its fists. Darkness spread out in the middle of the ground, widening with each impact.
Roxas, who had endured it somehow, ran at those beating fists, cutting down with the keyblade. But, at about the same time, the darkside’s arm sent Roxas and the keyblade flying.
The deflected keyblade skidded across the ground, stopping at Xion’s feet.
And then—in the next moment, the keyblade was being gripped in Xion’s hand.
In front of Roxas, still collapsed, Xion ran at the darkside, the keyblade in her hand, and made a big jump. The keyblade, swung down, delivered a fatal blow to the darkside.
Xion landed, and the darkside turned into black mist.
“—That surprised me…” muttered Roxas, standing up.
Xion being able to use my weapon is kinda.
Members of the Organisation each have their own special weapon, but I haven’t heard anything about them being able to be used by other members.
The keyblade teleported from Xion’s hand to Roxas’.
“You can use the keyblade too, can’t you, Xion.”
“I was—surprised, too.” Xion smiled, in a slightly troubled way.
It never even crossed my mind that someone other than me could use the keyblade.
The keyblade sparkled in the palm of Roxas’ hand, then vanished as usual.
Roxas felt weird.
He hadn’t thought that something like this could happen; finding out something, and ending the mission on a slightly fun note.
At a time like this—that’s right.
“Well then Xion, you need a reward.”
“Huh?” asked Xion, with a surprised face. “A reward…?”
“A special place… before that, I gotta get ready to go to the special place.” Roxas smiled at Xion. “Wait here, okay.”
“Wait a second, Roxas—”
Roxas ran off in the direction of the milk bar.
Roxas bought two ice creams, went back to the open space in front of the station, and took Xion up the clock tower.
I almost though I’d use the ‘winner’, but I rethought it; of course I’m going to use it when Axel comes back.
“I didn’t know… there was a place like this,” voiced Xion.
Xion sat down at the front of the clock tower. Her gaze seemed fixed in the distance—on the sunset.
“Okay, here you go.” Roxas gave Xion an ice cream.
“What’s this…?” Xion stared at the ice cream, a weird expression on her face.
“Sea salt ice cream. Try it.”
“Okay…” Xion took a small bite of the ice cream. “It’s sweet, and… salty,” she murmured.
“But tasty, right? Me and Axel eat ice cream here after missions,” explained Roxas, taking a bite of his ice cream, too.
A salty and sweet, special ice cream.
“Cause Axel… likes this ice cream.”
He spoke of his friend, who had gone far away on a mission. And then, Xion looked at him, smiling. “You like it too, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” Roxas nodded, and ate more ice cream. “When I first joined the Organisation, I ate ice cream here with Axel. And then, after my first mission, he gave me ice cream, calling it a reward.”
“…Like you did, just now?”
I don’t really know what ‘reward’ actually means, but I think it’s definitely a special thing, like ‘winner’. And so, when Axel comes back, I’ll give him the ‘winner’ as a ‘reward’.
Xion, eating ice cream beside him, swung her feet.
“You two are really close, aren’t you,” she said.
Roxas didn’t know what to say for a second—but he found the answer right away.
“Because Axel’s my friend.”
“…Do you think I could become your friend, too?” said Xion, looking at Roxas, and tilting her head to one side.
“When Axel’s come back, let’s eat ice cream together, the three of us,” replied Roxas, gnawing on his ice cream.
Axel will definitely come back soon. And then, the three of us should eat ice cream together.
I don’t know if Xion can become my friend, but—but, it feels like it would be okay.
Continue to Chapter 4: Castle Oblivion