Chapter 3: Battle against Riku

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

Four figures had appeared in the Round Room.

“What is the state of affairs?” Xemnas asked Saïx.

“Nearly all our plans are advancing in a satisfactory manner. Axel headed out for Castle Oblivion this morning,” Saïx reported.

“And Poppet is brilliant, of course,” Xigbar butted in. “Vexen’s annihilation is a crying shame, as they say,” Xigbar grinned, meaningfully.

“His know-how is all being kept safe as records,” Saïx stated, indifferent. “There aren’t any problems as of now.”

Xaldin fixed Saïx with a sharp look. “So what will you do when there is a problem? There are possibilities beyond your control,” he said, arms folded.

“Well, if you were to say that I was responsible for what happened to those destroyed by the Hero and his party, I’d be troubled.”

“Those destroyed by the Hero, huh?” Xigbar repeated, seemingly trying to provoke him.

Saïx ignored him and continued. “I have received information from Demyx and Luxord that someone wearing our same coat has appeared on many worlds.”

“They aren’t just mistaken?” Xaldin asked.

“Whether or not they are mistaken, we ought to look into it,” said Saïx.

“You’re to send Xion,” Xemnas ordered immediately.

Xigbar shrugged his shoulders. “Where’s the sense in sending Xion? There’s a chance that the faker is, as they say, in cahoots with the Hero’s party, right? Have you even gotten hold of the Hero’s whereabouts?”

“Luxord is sweeping the worlds, but he hasn’t found him yet. And, Axel has been sent to Castle Oblivion to search for clues on the Hero and his friends,” Saïx answered, quietly. No change of expression could be seen in his face.

Xigbar crossed his legs, resting his elbows down. “Axel, huh…”

“Anyway, can there even be someone wearing the same coat as us?” Xaldin asked. “Even including the spares, all of them should be under our management. It should have been reported if any went missing.”

Saïx sighed heavily. That was the only reaction he’d shown so far in today’s meeting. “We haven’t received confirmation on those of the Castle Oblivion members. I’ll have Axel look into that, too.”

“Axel, Axel… you two are quite the pals, aren’t you? Wonder what you two whisper about,” Xigbar shot, jiggling his crossed leg.

“Now you’ve mentioned it, I wonder the same about you.” At Saïx’s words, the atmosphere froze over.

“We have one goal. Don’t forget that,” Xemnas said. Saïx looked up at him. “Keep an eye on Xion. You’ll find out about the Hero that way also,” ordered Xemnas, and then he disappeared.

xxx

I dreamed again. In my dream, there was this beautiful ocean… and, I could hear the sound of waves the whole time. Could that have been Destiny Islands? Now that I think about it, you can see the ocean from Twilight Town, too.

Xion got up out of bed, got ready, and left her room. She arrived just a little later than usual; already there was no one but Saïx and Xigbar left in the lobby.

“Morning. Today’s mission is…?”

“We have received information that someone is out there wearing the Organisation’s coat. Go and investigate this,” Saïx stated.

“Where do I go?”

“Agrabah, to begin with.”

“To begin with…?”

“They have been witnessed on several worlds. We still do not know whether it is actually the same person. We also do not know much about which worlds they have appeared on,” Saïx said, indifferently.

“If I find them, should I kill them?”

“No, you must ascertain what kind of being our friend is. Capture them if you can. Don’t kill them.”

Xion nodded. “Understood.”

Xigbar, standing and watching their exchange with his arms folded, opened his mouth. “You’ve been working really well lately haven’t you, Poppet.”

“…Thank you,” Xion replied in a small voice.

“Thank you? Why do you have to say thanks?

“Well, you were praising me, weren’t you? Was I wrong?”

“Haha… Yeah, I guess you could see it like that.” He pressed his hand to his mouth and snickered.

“Did I say something funny?”

“No, no. You’re fine.”

Xion looked up at Xigbar, anxiously. Beside them, Saïx didn’t show any notable reaction. He just watched.

xxx

At that time, Roxas was with Xaldin at Beast’s Castle. The many gouges inside the castle told of the violence of the beast’s battle with the Heartless. But, Roxas had one question. He decided to ask Xaldin.

“Why does the beast fight?”

“That’s what we’re investigating.” The two talked as they ascended the stairs from the open room. The door right in front of the top of the stairs led to the ballroom. Opening the door, Xaldin walked out into the middle of the ballroom floor. “This place doesn’t suit an ugly beast. You can tell that the creature himself thinks so too,” he said, looking around.

“How do you know?”

“It looks like there are Heartless here too, but you can’t see any traces of the beast having fought them. All I can think is that the beast himself is avoiding this room. In any case, this room too is stained in the dark colour of despair. Just like the heart of the Beast,” said Xaldin, smiling slightly.

What on earth does that mean? Leaving the ballroom and climbing the stairs on the left, Roxas thought to himself.

“Wait—something’s there.” Maybe because he was thinking while walking, Roxas was slightly surprised when Xaldin held him back. In the hallway at the top of the stairs, a clock was pottering about.

Is that the same kind of thing as the candle I saw before?

“Today too, the Master is exterminating the monsters appearing in the castle…. At this rate, he won’t meet with Lady Belle today, either… Is this as close as they’ll get? And when there’s so little time left for us…,” the clock muttered worriedly to itself, walking around.

Roxas looked down, unconsciously. “So little time left? What’s that about?”

“I bet that thing used to be a human too, just like the beast.”

“The beast used to be human?”

“Perhaps… the shapes of the inhabitants of this castle were changed by some curse.”

“…Curse…”

“Roxas, ignore him. Let’s get on with the investigation.”

The two of them resumed the investigation. That’s right, I’ve been down past this hallway before. Running through the hall so as not to be seen by the clock, they climbed more stairs.

There were many rooms there, and light was spilling from the deepest one. It seemed the door was opened just a little.

“There’s a presence in that room. Check out what’s inside.”

Nodding at Xaldin, Roxas peered into the room through the crack in the door. Inside the room was a human woman. She was the first human he’d seen in this world.

“So he’s exterminating the monsters again today… he’s been doing that constantly as of late.” The woman walked around the room, lost in thought.

“Ohh… for there to be a human in this castle… That woman must be Belle,” said Xaldin, peeking through the door from behind.

Roxas turned to him. “How do you know?”

“That servant thing just mentioned Lady Belle. That woman, being treated so politely with this room, must be that person.”

“So that person is Belle…”

Belle was a pretty woman. And, in this dim and dusty castle with its mouldy smell, only this room smelled kind of nice somehow.

“Roxas, we’re going to the beast’s room.” Xaldin walked briskly away, and Roxas followed after.

xxx

Xion walked through the city of Agrabah.

“…Not here…”

The glaring sunlight reflected from the ground. All that’s left is inside the cavern. Is there really a fake Organisation member out there?

“So hot…”

If I could, I’d love to take this coat off, thought Xion. I’ve heard that the Organisation coats are special things that protect our bodies from the darkness. So I should leave it on my body, or so Saïx said. Cause if I take it off, I’ll be consumed by darkness. But, what on earth is darkness? The heart, and darkness. There are so many things I don’t know.

Turning to head for the cavern, her legs were suddenly overcome by a wobbly feeling.

“Huh—”

Xion fell against the wall, her body feeling as if it would succumb. For a second, something flittered deep in her chest.

This is… some kind of memory?

Who are you…?

xxx

Roxas and Xaldin stood in front of the beast’s room.

“So this is the beast’s room.”

“Yeah… let’s look inside and see what it’s like.”

Roxas opened the door quietly and looked. The curtains were shredded, and the walls were scarred with long gashes. It looked like a terribly violent room, but, the beast didn’t appear to be in it.

And deeper, on a moonlit-flooded table stood a red flower in a glass case. …A rose?

“Huh?” At that moment, right in front of Roxas’ peeking eyes, a black haze spread, and Xaldin appeared. It seemed that once he knew the beast wasn’t there, he had entered using a dark corridor.

Xaldin gazed fixedly at the rose.

“This rose—I can sense a strange power…,” Xaldin muttered, and he turned, walking straight out of the room.

“Let’s RTC.”

“Is that okay?” Roxas called to Xaldin’s retreating back.

Xaldin stopped walking. “What are you talking about.”

“Is it really okay not to investigate any further?”

“Having found that was quite enough. We’ve found something very interesting.”

“You mean, that lady?”

“A woman? Ah, you mean that Belle woman. She too certainly does seem to be connected in some way to the beast. But that rose from before is much more important. What do you think, Roxas?”

“I could see he treasured it, but…” It was put in a glass case, and set up in the deepest part of the room. I could also feel it sparkling, only that place, as if it were special.

“It didn’t seem like a normal rose. The gouges all through the rest of that room were missing in the corner in which the rose rested—I don’t know what it is, but there’s no mistaking that the beast treasures that thing.”

“The beast’s important rose—so, the beast is fighting the Heartless in order to protect that rose?”

“Yeah, probably. I could feel a strange power coming from it. Maybe there’s something drawing the Heartless…”

“The reason the beast fights, huh.” Roxas was lost in thought. I don’t get why the beast would fight for the sake of a thing like that.

“We’ll withdraw for today. We’ve found the beast’s weak point.”

“Weak point?”

“When someone treasures something, the stealing of their heart… When their heart is to be stolen, that is their weak point.”

“Their heart is to be stolen…? I don’t really get it.” I’m understanding what Xaldin is saying less and less.

“Of course you don’t. We don’t have hearts. Let’s RTC.” Xaldin walked quickly away, and Roxas chased after him.

xxx

In Twilight Town, Xion watched the sunset vaguely. In the end, she hadn’t been able to find the Organisation coated person. It’s a little tiring, searching for something you’re not sure is even there.

“You’re early,” came a voice from behind her, and she turned. Roxas was standing there with an ice cream in his hand.

“It was an easy mission,” Xion replied, a smile on her lips.

“Axel… must be on that confidential mission…,” Roxas muttered. Sitting down next to Xion, he started eating his ice cream. Xion had already finished hers.

“Roxas, where did you go?”

“Beast’s Castle. I was with Xaldin,” he answered, making a face like he remembered something, and looking over at Xion. “Xion, do you remember that monster?”

“Monster…? The master of the castle, right? I remember.” Roxas and I went to Beast’s Castle together on a mission.

Roxas continued. “I found out what he treasures. But, Xaldin called it a weak spot.”

“Something you treasure is a weak spot?”

Roxas looked down. “I don’t really get it…”

There are so many things that Roxas and I don’t understand, Xion thought. If Axel was here right now, I know he’d explain it to us.

“I guess Axel won’t come home for a while…,” Roxas said, and Xion nodded.

Once Axel gets back, there are many things I want to ask him.

xxx

Axel was walking through Castle Oblivion. It wasn’t all that long ago that he’d last been here, but the inside of the castle had changed drastically. The halls and rooms were made of white stone just like they’d been before, but their combinations and the distances between them had changed.

I know the rooms in this castle change in accordance with memories. So, I wonder whose memories they’re changing for now?

“What a pain,” Axel muttered, and he looked up at the ceiling.

I’ve been holed up here with nothing but dusks for company for a few days, and now I’m talking to myself. This castle, devoid of people, is under the control of subordinate Nobodies. Subordinate Nobodies follow orders loyally, but they can’t do any more than that. The biggest difference between them and Organisation member Nobodies is that we can think for ourselves… Well, I wonder what ‘thought’ is, anyway. What’s the connection between ‘thought’ and the heart?

“Argh this is such a pain…”

Axel scratched his head, and continued searching the castle.

xxx

“So you still haven’t found them?”

“I’m sorry…” Xion let her head hang. She and Saïx were the only two in the lobby.

These past few days, every day I’ve been here and there searching all over so many worlds, but I haven’t been able to find the Organisation coated person.

“On top of that, you overslept?”

“…I haven’t really… been sleeping well, so…”

It’s nothing new, definitely not the first time it’s happened, but I just don’t feel like I’ve slept properly at night. I dream. I fact, every day I’m dreaming the whole time. Maybe it’s because of that… Even in the day time, I feel like a zombie, and sometimes I feel like I’m about to faint.

“Even though I told you that resting properly is also a mission in itself?”

Since the day before yesterday, I’ve been searching two worlds a day. But I haven’t found them. Saïx is criticising me so harshly.

“The order that you search for the person wearing the Organisation coat came directly from Lord Xemnas. If you go on not finding them, you will be opposing Xemnas’ orders. You understand, don’t you?”

“Huh…” I didn’t think that my mission was decided on Xemnas’ orders. I’ve heard that Saïx is the one who allocates missions.

“If you understand, leave quickly and find them.” Saïx turned his back on Xion, and left the lobby.

Xion was left alone in the large room.

xxx

Roxas had headed to a new world. A strange, somewhat dark world, despite the huge moon hanging overhead—Halloween Town. Dimly burning lights were scattered here and there, and the atmosphere was one of suspense.

“What a weird world…” Can’t see anyone who might be a civilian.

Walking along, he came out into a wide space, where there was a large device that looked like it performed some kind of function.

“What is this thing?” The moment Roxas looked up at the device, something came swinging from somewhere above his head, passing before his eyes lightning fast. “Waah!”

It was a huge blade that looked like it could slice a human body neatly in half. “That’s dangerous… but why would someone leave something like this here?” Roxas titled his head.

A bat wheeled above him.

xxx

Xion had headed to Beast’s Castle.

It seems like the person wearing the Organisation coat is travelling from world to world. For normal humans, the world they are ought to live on is fixed. In other words, that Organisation coat-wearing person isn’t a normal human. But, that’s all I know right now. Saïx told me the information that dusks had witnessed, but I can’t figure out what kind of person my opponent is just from that.

The castle opened out onto a large garden.

Standing on top of the stairs leading down to the garden, Xion hung her head. “…Looks like they aren’t here…”

Just then.

Xion looked up, and was gripping her Keyblade quick as a flash. That presence—it’s a special presence. In the centre of the garden stood the owner of that presence, the person in the Organisation coat. They have their hood pulled so far forwards, I can’t see their face. To find them all of a sudden—what do I do?

The other person was staring straight at Xion and her grip on the Keyblade. In an instant, an eerily-shaped blade was rushing into her opponent’s hand. So fighting is the only way?

Xion, Keyblade in hand, rushed at her opponent. Their weapons clashed. It was a strange sensation. A strange sensation… Xion was overcome by the impact.

Who are you? Do I know you?

The hesitation took the edge off Xion’s movements. No, even without that hesitation I’m not sure I could beat them. Every time my opponent’s blade clashes with the Keyblade, the vibrations spread numbness through my hands.

Then, her Keyblade was sent flying, and her body hit the ground. I bumped my chest and it hurts. I can’t breathe. Xion lay on her stomach as she had fallen, unable to move.

Her opponent removed their hood, and stared down at Xion. Feeling their hand touch her body, Xion sat up on reflex. Just then, she saw their face for the first time.

A silver haired man, wearing a black blindfold.

I don’t know why, but the man is moving back, as if in fear.

“You… who are you? Why do you use the Keyblade?”

 I don’t know what this man means. Xion asked a question, instead. “What about you, why are you dressed like one of the Organisation?”

The man turned his back on Xion, and stared walking. “To make sure my best friends sleep is not disturbed,” he said.

His best friends… sleep? What does he mean?

“I don’t know what you are, but a fake could never beat me. This Keyblade is a fake, too.” The man picked up the fallen Keyblade, and threw it in Xion’s direction.

“This Keyblade is a fake?” Xion looked down for a moment, then glared at the man. “Don’t say such a selfish thing!” This Keyblade is something important that Roxas and I worked hard to get back. It can’t be a fake or anything like that.

Xion gripped the Keyblade again, rose, and sliced at the man. But—without even calling his weapon, the man sidestepped Xion’s attack, and swept her feet out from under her. Xion fell to the ground again.

“I’m not being mean here. Hurry and leave those guys,” he stated, turning his back on Xion, and he started to walk away.

“Aren’t you the fake here?!” Xion yelled, sitting up. This is a human pretending to be of the Organisation. For them to call my Keyblade a fake—it’s a lie, I know it.

The man stopped. “Yeah… Maybe I’m the one that’s not meant to exist.” The man’s figure disappeared into the cloaking darkness.

Left behind, Xion beat her fists on the ground. Then she screamed—a scream that transcended voice.

xxx

Staring vacantly at the sunset, Roxas was eating an ice cream like always. Xion’s not here yet. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been seeing her in the lobby in the mornings, either, lately.

“Hey, Roxas!”

At the sound of this voice he hadn’t heard for a while, Roxas span around with force.

“Axel—when did you get back?”

“Just now,” he said, sitting down next to Roxas.

“That was earlier than I was expecting.”

“Well, I am superb. How have you been? Going well? What’s Xion’s story?”

“She hasn’t come yet,” Roxas answered, biting his ice cream. “She’s usually shown up by now, I think.” But… why, I wonder. I’m uneasy. I haven’t felt like this before.

“Hmm… that reminds me, did you guys bungle anything while I was gone?”

“We didn’t!” Roxas snapped, and Axel laughed.

Maybe… this uneasiness is just my imagination. “Xion’s late, isn’t she…,” Roxas said, and he looked down.

Xion still didn’t come.

xxx

I didn’t feel like going to eat ice cream. Xion sat on top of her bed, hugging her knees. My injuries hurt. Just before, I saw a big bruise had formed under where the coat had protected me. But I’ll be in trouble if they findd out that I’m injured… so I won’t report it.

That guy… that silver-haired guy. That fake-Organisation-member guy. That wearing-our-coat-for-some-scheme guy. He must have some special power.  If he didn’t, then he wouldn’t give off such a strange feeling. That special… atmosphere. What is he, anyway. Even if I fight him again, as I am now, I might not be a match for him.

But, I have to fight. I have to fight. I have to fight. I have to fight. I have to fight. Xion said it over and over. I have to beat him—

xxx

In the end, Xion didn’t come to the clock tower yesterday. Even though Axel made the effort to come…

Wanting to hurry and tell Xion of Axel’s return, Roxas hurried down the hallway towards the lobby. I can go on my mission after I’ve seen Xion.

“One more time—please!”

The voice that suddenly echoed down the hall belonged to Xion. Good. Looks like I get to see her today.

Saïx and Xion were standing at the curve in the hall. Roxas went to run up to them, but the intense atmosphere between the two stopped him.

“We don’t have this much time to squander. You really are a defective failure, that’s all it is.”

 Defective failure…? What is this about?

Saïx glanced at Xion, who stood hanging her head, and then left the area.

“Xion…?”

Xion turned at Roxas’ voice. But—she ran off, as if escaping.

“…Xion…,” Roxas murmured, alone in the hall.

xxx

Roxas was on a mission with Xaldin at Beast’s Castle. Extermination replacing investigation was the only difference between the last mission there. Xaldin was defeating the Heartless steadily with his spears. Tagging along behind and killing Heartless, Roxas couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened with Xion that morning.

What on earth was it about…

“Humph… No response. The mission is over. Roxas, let’s RTC.”

“Yeah.” There had been a large Heartless of course, but it hadn’t been that strong.

I want to hurry up and RTC, so I can go to the usual spot. Maybe Xion will come if I do that.

Roxas and Xaldin went to RTC together, and at that moment, a roar echoed around them.

“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”

“What was that?!” Roxas looked around instinctively.

“That voice just now—it was probably the beast. Let’s go check it out,” Xaldin pointed, and Roxas nodded.

The beast’s room wasn’t too far from where they were. The area surrounding the room was even more of a ruin than it had been the last time they’d come, with many more gouges on the walls.

“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!”

The growl was even louder and closer than before.

“I… don’t want to lose it!” That cry had come from the beast. “My original form—the rose… before these petals fall…”

Quietly assessing the situation from the doorway, they saw the beast put his face in his hands.

“Huh, so that’s how it is. Sounds like that rose is connected to the beast’s form,” Xaldin muttered.

“Is that to do with the beast’s curse?” asked Roxas.

“Yeah—if he doesn’t do something before the petals of that rose fall, he won’t be able to break the curse, I’d say,” Xaldin smirked. “The curse… the beast’s form… the rose… heh heh heh… we can use this.”

“What do you mean?”

“You wouldn’t understand. Okay, let’s RTC, Roxas.” Xaldin began to walk away, without answering Roxas’ question.

Left behind, Roxas turned back to the door of the beast’s room.

That rose—that he treasures… a weak point. I don’t really get it, thought Roxas. Maybe if I asked Axel, he’d help me understand…?

xxx

Thinking that she didn’t really care about investigating, Xion brought down the Keyblade on a Heartless in front of her. She destroyed one of the bug-shaped Heartless that were the target for extermination in one hit. For every one she destroyed another would appear, and it was getting on her nerves.

This world was dark and gloomy with many rows of tombstones—Halloween Town.

Above her head was a huge moon. Xion looked up at it.

What on earth… should I do?

xxx

No one was on top of the clock tower yet. It would have been nice if Xion had come today, thought Roxas, eating an ice cream.

By and by, Axel came.

“Where’s Xion?”

“She’s not here today, either.”

Axel sat down beside Roxas. “Really…”

The two of them sat side by side in silence, eating their ice creams.

That’s right—I was going to ask Axel. “Axel?”

Axel looked over at him with his ice cream in his mouth. “Hm?”

“Is there something you don’t want to lose, Axel?” he asked.

Axel took his ice cream out of his mouth and shrugged. “Something I don’t want to lose? Where’s this coming from, all of a sudden?”

“Today I met someone who had something he didn’t want to lose. It was really important to him, and Xaldin said it becomes his weak point. I thought, I don’t have something like that…”

Axel breathed out in surprise. “Of course not, you don’t have a heart,” he replied.

Roxas looked down at his toes. “Maybe…” Even Nobodies should have things they don’t want to lose. But… I don’t. I can’t find the right words. How can I explain it to Axel? “…But for example, if you took Demyx’s sitar away he’d definitely get cranky, right?”

“Well… that would happen, yeah. So even without a heart, maybe there are things we don’t want to lose… In that case, maybe what us Nobodies don’t want to lose is our memories of the past. Our memories of the past create things we don’t want to lose.”

“Memories of the past… I don’t have any of those,” said Roxas, still looking down, and this sent Axel into thought.

Then he said, “Even without memories of the past, you should have things you don’t want to lose.”

Those words were a little surprising, and Roxas turned his face towards Axel. “Like what?”

“What about the memories you made since joining the Organisation?”

“…I don’t get it.” Memories… I might not have memories from my time as a human, but I have made memories since coming to the Organisation. “But, yeah… I’d hate to forget about you and Xion.”

I don’t think I want to forget them. That’s what it is to lose your memories. If that’s true, then I wonder where on earth they went, the memories that belonged to that human me?

“Then you have something you don’t want to lose, don’t you? I guess everyone, even us Nobodies, have things we don’t want to lose.”

Roxas looked down again. That’s… so very… “Scary, isn’t it,” he grumbled.

“Afraid, even without a heart?” Axel asked.

“If my friends… if you and Xion weren’t here anymore… no, if the two of you were erased from inside me, I’d be afraid.” Roxas shivered as if he were cold. I’m afraid just thinking about it. Afraid…? What is afraid?

“Fear and emotions like that don’t exist for us,” said Axel.

“But… I’m scared, right now.” If Axel and Xion were to be erased… That makes me more afraid than having my own existence erased. I don’t want to think about it.

“If you really think so, then maybe you’re remembering being scared from somewhere in your memory,” said Axel, looking far into the distance.

Xion didn’t come today, either. Roxas looked up, and gazed at the sunset. If… if all my memories were to vanish, what would I do…?

xxx

Continue to Chapter 4: Wrong Switch

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