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.
Thanks to fellow fan-translator final-ace for providing the copy of this novel.
At the end of the path of light was the entrance to a massive, inorganic castle. Many enemies, Heartless and Nobodies alike, surrounded Sora and his friends.
“This is it!” yelled Sora, swinging his Keyblade down.
“Huh? Where’s the King…?” said Donald, scanning his eyes all around for said absent King.
“Looks like he went on ahead,” Goofy said placidly, apparently not worried about the King at all.
“We better hurry too!”
Sora and his friends broke into a run. They had defeated so many enemies throughout their adventures by now that these were like a perfect warm-up for them.
Actually… what worries me is whether it’s okay to go on taking down Heartless.
If we don’t defeat things that are trying to hurt us, then we’ll be the ones getting taken down. Even knowing this, Sora was a little uneasy. What if what I’m doing now is going to destroy the worlds…? But, if we don’t defeat the Heartless, won’t they destroy the worlds? Sora gripped the Keyblade tight, not knowing which was better.
As Sora and the others came out of one of the passageways that surrounded the castle and into a wide open area, a voice came from above their heads.
“Sora—you look well.”
Many metres in the air was a second floor that spread out around the open area like a stage.
“Where’s Kairi!” Sora yelled, in the direction of the voice.
From the stage-like area, Saïx was looking down at them.
“Kairi…? I’d say right about now she is getting cosy with her friend from the Realm of Darkness,” said Saïx, oozing composure.
“What does that mean!?” Sora yelled back.
Saïx was smiling. “It seems she no longer needs you.”
That… that has to be a lie. I’m sick of these Organisation punks twisting their words to turn me in circles.
“You think I believe that?”
Saïx raised a hand towards the glass ceiling—and pointed at the moon floating above them.
“Well, you don’t have to. But believe this. Organisation XIII has no further use for you. Take a good look—our Kingdom Hearts is full with hearts it has absorbed all thanks to you. Can you sense its joy?” Saïx snapped his fingers. “Now, how about you give it one last heart to swallow!”
Darkness began to well up on the walls all around them, and then Heartless poured forth.
“Let’s fight!” Donald squawked, staff gripped in one hand.
Sora looked down. “But Kingdom Hearts will…!”
If I go on defeating Heartless, then Kingdom Hearts will fill up with hearts… just like the Organisation wants. I don’t want them to get their way.
It was a familiar voice.
Sora turned towards the voice. On the wall opposite to where Saïx was, leaning out through a small window, was—Kairi.
“Sora! I finally found you!”
“Kairi!” Sora yelled, and then he was swarmed over by Heartless.
“What do you think you’re doing to Sora!” Kairi yelled. She took a run up and leapt down from the window. Heartless began to surround her, too. A whole lot of Heartless went to pounce on her.
“Sora…” Kairi murmured, and the next moment, she was saved by shining light.
Kairi was being pulled to her feet by the arm by Xehanort—by Riku. The surrounding Heartless had been driven away.
“Fight,” said Riku, and he handed Kairi a blade—a Keyblade.
“Yeah—this time… I’ll fight.”
The Keyblade gripped tight in Kairi’s hand shimmered with light. Kairi’s strong heart had called the Keyblade and allowed her to fight.
“Sora’s no good without us! Let’s go, Riku!”
Kairi ran into the throng of Heartless, Riku in pursuit.
And looking down from above at Sora—at Kairi, and at Riku, was Saïx.
At the same time—there were two other groups of intruders.
“Why, Pete. This is a splendid castle, is it not? How about we have it?” said Maleficent, look around with an enchanted expression. Pete was standing beside her. The two were standing on the castle balcony on the opposite side to where Saïx had been.
Pete seemed slightly worried. “It is a pretty good castle, but… but what would we do? It’s too close to the darkness on an In-between world like this, the heartless won’t listen to us.”
Maleficent laughed easily. “Who do you think I am?” She gazed at the castle.
And then the other group—no, the other person, was one storey up from where Sora and the others were, fallen and surrounded by a gang of Nobodies.
The King appeared, making the Heartless and Nobodies scatter on his way. A huge machine was lying beside the man.
The man tried to stand up, but he fell to his knees as though wounded. The man’s—DiZ’s—red cape fluttered.
The King helped DiZ to stand. DiZ looked up at Kingdom Hearts floating above their heads, and began to take off the bandages wrapped around his face.
The face of Ansem the Wise appeared.
“It’s been a long time, your Majesty.”
The King gave Ansem a stern look. “Ansem the Wise. Why didn’t you come talk with me before things turned out this way?”
Ansem didn’t return the King’s look. Instead he kept gazing out at Kingdom Hearts as he replied.
“The leader of Organisation XIII, Xemnas, was, when you get down to it, originally my number one disciple, Xehanort. My responsibility was clear.”
“Is that it?” the King pushed, and Ansem turned his back, as if to escape that gaze.
“I can’t hide it, can I. Yes… I became possessed by revenge. I couldn’t forgive my disciples for robbing me of my research and my pride.” Ansem’s words were thick with regret.
“I can’t help you with revenge,” said the King, turning his back on Ansem.
“I know. Riku scolded me too.”
“Where is Riku?” Mickey pressed, hearing Ansem drop the name of his important friend.
“I would say he is with his friends… He did a great deal for me.” Ansem finally turned to the King. “I found him wandering after he became separated from you, but…”
“We weren’t separated,” the King interrupted. “Riku made himself disappear. Cause he carried Xehanort’s Heartless inside his heart, see. I’m sure it must have been tough on him. But why on earth does he look like that now? It’s still Riku’s heart…”
Ansem took a deep breath, and began to tell the King the truth.
“It’s my fault. When I first met Riku, he had the form of a boy, probably due to his strong heart. I told him to try to bring me the man named Roxas of Organisation XIII. When I said it was to help awaken the slumbering Sora, he went without a word. And then, it seems, he fought Roxas, and lost. After that, he probably thought it necessary to stain his body with darkness in order to fight in the Realm of Darkness. The outcome of putting that into practice—was that. When he brought Roxas back to me, he told me his name was Ansem. In exchange for awakening Sora, it seems he had solidified his resolve to become a resident of the darkness himself. Riku is a victim of my revenge.” After saying all that, Ansem fell silent. The King walked over to him. “…Ah, my heart ached. All I could do was laugh to hide it…” Ansem looked at the King with a quiet expression.
“I must have seen him again after that. He made me make a promise. He wanted to help Sora. But, he absolutely did not want anyone to find out the state he was in.”
The King’s words made Ansem close his eyes for a moment and drop his head. “Well, your Majesty… I had best be getting around to saving those boys,” Ansem said, and he picked up the huge machine that was beside him.
Then he began to walk deeper into the castle—the King following after.
That was Kairi’s voice—
“Sora, hang in there!”
I can hear Donald’s voice.
Sora sent the Heartless that were on top of him flying, then stood up. Above his head, on the stage opposite where Saïx had been just before, he could see Kairi and Xehanort battling away.
“What’s happening?!” Sora yelled.
That thing in Kairi’s hand… that has to be a Keyblade. And the black coated man by her side is Ansem… no, that’s Xehanort.
Why are they fighting together…?
The moment Sora stopped moving, all around him—a shower of blades of light came striking down at the Heartless.
Sora and the others turned, and a sneering deep voice came echoing through the open hall.
“Have you been a good boy?”
“Show yourself!” Sora yelled back, and right where Saïx had been standing before, one man from the Organisation appeared from the darkness. The man, who had black hair streaked with white and an eye-patch over his right eye, was giving him a horribly icy look.
“Nah… you’ve been a naughty boy, Sora… no, Roxas!” the man—Xigbar—spat to Sora.
“Roxas? Did he just call me Roxas?” Sora asked, turning around unconsciously, and Donald gave a big nod.
“For our grand old Organisation XIII to be in a corner like this, well. That’s what you’d expect from the Keyblade’s chosen. Even though you don’t hold a candle to the ones that came before.”
“What are you talking about!” Sora yelled.
“Well… It doesn’t matter which you are. Traitors gotta be eliminated, that’s how it goes.”
Xigbar jumped down, landing right beside Sora.
“…Careful, Sora!” Goofy shouted as right before his eyes, Xigbar pushed his face into Sora’s.
Sora jumped back, gripping his Keyblade. “What is with you!”
“Hahah… Those blue eyes… are burning, aren’t they.”
“What are you saying!”
Suddenly, gripped in each of the man’s hands was something like a sword covered in blades—his Arrowguns.
“Let’s go, kiddo.”
The blades of the Arrowguns glowed, and came striking at Sora.
Sora charged towards Xigbar, deflecting the blades of light with his Keyblade.
Donald shot off some magic, but it hit the attacking blade and disappeared.
“Sora, stay on your toes!” shouted Goofy, blocking the blades with his shield.
A shadowy figure was looking down on them.
“It looks like they’re having a tough time…,” said the King, looking worriedly down at Sora and the others. Ansem and the King had hurried to the level above the open hall where Sora and the others were fighting.
“Sora and Riku are together. We have no part to play here,” said Ansem, glancing at the King.
“I wonder if Riku might not be able to turn back the way he was…,” the King murmured, rushing over.
“It is the path Riku chose in order to make use of the power of darkness. I’m sure it is a difficult one,” said Ansem with a frown.
The King shook his head and followed after Ansem, who had started walking once more.
“I don’t have time to play around with you!” Sora yelled, leaping at Xigbar. “I’m going to see Kairi!”
The Keyblade came swinging down and sent one of Xigbar’s Arrowguns flying.
“Heh heh…,” Xigbar laughed, jumping back away from the Keyblade. “You’re a Keyblade wielder all right. Even if you don’t quite measure up to the others, you’re still not someone to look down my nose at, Roxas,” Xigbar said in a low voice, wiping his mouth and gripping his remaining Arrowgun.
“I am Sora!”
Before new blades could come raining down, Sora closed the distance between them in one move and sent the remaining Arrowgun flying away as Donald’s magic exploded there.
“Sora!” Goofy shouted, his shield hitting Xigbar in the chin. Xigbar went flying and Sora ran at him, and swung the Keyblade down.
“Why am I Roxas!”
“Heh heh heh… I’ll let you stay confused…”
Xigbar’s form went dark… then he became black smoke, and vanished. Sora stared down at the vague stains of darkness left behind.
All these guys so far… Roxas… I have no idea what’s going on. It’s really starting to make me mad.
“Sora! It’s Kairi!” Donald called, and Sora turned.
“I’m coming, Kairi!” he shouted, and ran to where Kairi was.
Many little hearts were floating up, and being swallowed into Kingdom Hearts. Xemnas pulled his hood back, bathing in that light, face turned to Kingdom Hearts.
“O… Kingdom Hearts, feast on our offerings! Shine pale on this nothing world, and share your strength with we Nobodies…!”
Saïx appeared behind him.
“Xemnas. How is Kingdom Hearts?”
At those words, Xemnas turned to Saïx and narrowed his eyes.
“It will be soon,” Xemnas declared, and Saïx’s mouth twisted.
“Then you will let me end this?”
Xemnas turned his back on Saïx, and gazed up at Kingdom Hearts once more.
“How I’ve waited for those words,” Saïx said, and disappeared.
No matter how many they brought down, an overflow of more Heartless would appear. Kairi swung her Keyblade, taking them out, until the very last Heartless was melting away.
“Kairi, that was amazing!”
Kairi stopped moving at the sound of Donald’s voice. She slowly turned, a huge smile spreading across her face.
Sora and the others were staring at her.
A huge smile broke out on Sora’s face, too.
“Kairi—I’m so happy I get to see you.”
Riku’s eyes shuttered against that smile.
“You and Riku were so slow getting back, so I came.”
Sora and Kairi gazed at each other, then walked towards each other.
I still didn’t get Riku back…
Sora glanced away, and that moment, Kairi flung herself at his chest.
“…It’s not a dream…”
Kairi’s hands came up around Sora’s back, and she hugged him tightly. Lost for a moment, Sora raised his hands—and then he hugged her back.
Watching things unfold, Donald and Goofy exchanged a glance and grinned. And then the lone other person—Riku—turned his back on the two of them and started walking.
Because he couldn’t be by their side any longer.
Because he didn’t want Sora to see him in this form any longer.
“Wait, Ansem!” Sora called from behind him, separating his body from Kairi’s.
“I mean, Xehanort’s Heartless. I never thought I’d see you again… When I think about all the things you did, I can’t help it, I get so angry…”
Riku stopped walking.
“But, you helped Kairi for me. I have to be grateful for even just that… Thank you.”
At those words, Riku didn’t even turn around, he simply started walking with his head down. But, Kairi ran up to him and hugged him from behind.
“Don’t go, Riku!”
Kairi’s words made everyone freeze.
“Kairi… what did you just say?”
Kairi looked up at Riku. “Riku,” she called.
“I’m nobody—just a resident of the darkness.” Riku moved his arms, gently dislodging Kairi, and he went to start walking again.
“Sora, come here. Please say something,” said Kairi, and Sora walked closer to Riku with a weird look on his face.
“Here, do this, and you’ll understand.” Kairi took Sora’s hand in hers—and then, she made him grip Riku’s hand. “Close your eyes.”
Sora did as Kairi said, closing his eyes quietly.
There in the darkness, he could feel the warmth of that hand.
And floating up came—Riku’s form.
Sora looked up at Riku, and then he squeezed that hand tightly.
“It’s you… You’re here.”
This hand is definitely Riku’s hand. I’ve held it countless times before, and right now it might be bigger than Riku’s hand, but I feel it in my heart and I know.
Some unknown lump was rising deep in Sora’s chest, and he fell to his knees, still clinging onto that hand.
“I looked for you…”
Unable to stop the tears from spilling out, Sora pressed his face into Riku’s hand.
How hard did I look?
How hard did I miss him?
How much did I think, I want to talk to him again?
Riku is… here. I finally got to see him again. I missed him.
I missed him so, so much.
After leaving Destiny Islands, and when I was getting in those fights with Riku, and then after closing the door, I’ve been searching and searching for Riku the whole time.
“Don’t cry. You’re a wreck, Sora.”
Sora turned his face towards the voice coming from above his head, and looked up at Riku. Everything was blurry with tears and he couldn’t really see his face. He was in Ansem’s form… well, Xehanort’s anyway, but there was no mistaking this hand, he could feel Riku from it.
“I looked for you this whole time…!”
“I didn’t want to see you,” said Riku to Sora, who was still looking up at him from his knees and squeezing Riku’s hand tight.
The words made Sora hang his head again.
“But you were lending us your strength, weren’t you?” said Goofy placidly, watching the situation unfold.
“Wak?” Donald tilted his head.
“I’m sure it was Riku who left us all those clues. The photographs… and the sea salt ice cream,” Goofy said, looking at Riku.
That ice cream with that photo… and probably not just that. In the Land of Dragons, and then at Beast’s Castle, I felt Riku. I felt him the whole time.
But I was so worried. I worried and worried the whole time over whether Riku was really alive… Whether we could actually see each other again.
“I worried whether you’d get the hints. After all is said and done, it is you and those friends of yours we’re talking about.” A grin broke out on Riku’s face.
“What is that supposed to mean!” Donald protested.
“Why didn’t you let me know you were safe!” Sora fired at Riku, getting to his feet. Unable to take Sora’s full-on gaze, Riku looked away.
“…I said it, didn’t I? I didn’t want to see you. I didn’t want to meet in this form.” Riku stared at the palm of his own hand. “I basically overcame Ansem’s heart—well, Xehanort’s heart that was inside of me, but to use the power of darkness, I had to become Ansem myself…”
“Can’t you turn back?” Kairi asked, worriedly.
“The battle isn’t over yet. I still need the power of darkness.”
“Well then, let’s end it,” Sora said to Riku, in a powerful, reassuring tone. “You’re Riku, no matter what shape you are!”
Sora looked up at Riku and grinned.
No matter what shape he is—I’m so glad Riku is still alive. I’m so glad I got to see him again.
In order to hide that his eyes were filling up with tears again, Sora turned to Donald and Goofy.
“Okaaay guys, one last mass riot? The King’s waiting.”
“Yeah, let’s keep moving!” Donald replied, in a big voice.
“…I’m glad,” Naminé murmured in a little voice, then she pressed her hand against her chest.
It’s getting hard to breathe. I can see through my own right hand.
Naminé was standing above the heads of Sora and the others, right where the King and Ansem had been watching down on them just a moment before.
For Sora and Riku to be able to meet… with the two heroes fighting together, there’s nothing to fear, for certain.
“I wonder if Roxas went back to Sora properly…”
Naminé turned to Pluto, who was beside her and looking up at her worriedly.
When a Nobody meets the real thing… that’s when a Nobody disappears.
No… that’s when a Nobody goes home to where they belong.
I wonder whether Axel actually went somewhere when he faded.
Somewhere… If Roxas were there too, that would be nice, Naminé hoped.
But that’s an unfulfillable dream.
Pluto gave a small worried snuffle.
“It’s okay—I’m not afraid.”
Naminé hugged Pluto.
There are probably still some things left that I have to do.
Continue to Chapter 5: Way to the Dawn