Chapter 1: Recollect

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Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Watanabe Daisuke
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Translations: Goldpanner
Copyrighted by Disney Enterprises, Inc and Square Enix. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations. 

<<ЯR>>

He was in a hall built of marble, which gave off a terribly cold atmosphere. Lifeless flower ornaments made from stone were decorating the place here and there, and Riku thought it was exactly like a grave.

All he carried was one card.

“This card is the door to truth, is it…,” Riku muttered, staring at the card as he stood alone in the middle of the empty hall. There was a picture of some sort of castle depicted on the card.

Riku’s footsteps echoed as he began to walked once more over the marble floor. There was no other sound.

Riku stilled his feet, and stared at a door that lay at the top of a few steps.

There’s something waiting for me behind that door, isn’t there?

Riku climbed the stairs quietly.

That truth will be painful to you.

If it is, I guess that pain is punishment for the things I’ve done.

The card began to glow and sparkle with light. And then, the door slowly let Riku in.

<<ЯR>>

What lay on the other side of the door was familiar. Rose objets d’art were here and there. Looking at them made Riku remember unpleasant events.

This is Hollow Bastion. The castle where the witch Maleficent lived. Also, the huge castle in which I spent time, steeped in darkness. When did I get here? While I was sleeping? The last place I remember before I lost consciousness was certainly this castle. My last memory is of standing blocking Ansem, trying to protect Kairi.

After that I walked alone in the darkness. I was with the King from sometime along the way—but I’m alone again now. If the truth is in this world, then maybe I can find it inside this castle.

“This is a world of your memories.”

Riku looked up at the sound of the sudden echoing voice. It was the voice of the man who had given Riku the card just before.

“My memories?!”

“Your memories of the time you spent lured by Maleficent in this castle met with the card, and created this place. You have seen all this before, have you not?”

It was just as the man said.

This place is just as it is inside my memories—just as it was back then. This is where I swept Kairi away to, taken in by Maleficent’s words, and spent time with her as she slept. The days I spent with Kairi… Kairi, like a silent doll… Even so, I was a little happy. I was able to have Kairi all to myself. But…

Riku turned his face up and yelled at the empty space. “What should I do here? Will I find out something in this castle? And am I going to be able to meet people?”

“I suppose you’d be able to meet with the people you have memories of… ordinarily,” the unseeable man said slowly, then went silent.

“What do you mean, ordinarily?” The man was no longer answering Riku’s questioning. “Hey! What do you mean!” Riku yelled again, and that moment, black darkness began to rise up in the surroundings.

“—What?!”

Those things appearing there are the monsters I once controlled—it’s a swarm of Heartless.

The Heartless all came at Riku at once.

“—Ngh!”

Riku assumed a stance without thinking, and in his hand appeared a blade wrapped in black light that looked as if it were fashioned after devil wings—the Soul Eater.

“I guess this means this is my blade.”

Riku swung the Soul Eater down, and destroyed a Heartless where it stood.

And I thought I had separated myself from the darkness…

The blade was familiar to his hand, as if this devil winged blade had always belonged to him. This left a bad taste in Riku’s mouth, and he ran into the middle of the swarm of Heartless, brandishing the Soul Eater.

Many Heartless fell to the Soul Eater and their bodies disappeared.

Riku ran up some stairs, Heartless appearing from the steps and from overhead, lunging at him.

“…What is this… what the hell!”

This is the first time I’ve fought Heartless like this. I used to control them, rather, like they were my comrades. But now they are enemies—if that’s true, then Maleficent… Hookthey’re enemies for sure now too. Anyone who makes use of the power of darkness is my enemy.

Those on my side are—Sora, Kairi… and the King. All of Sora’s comrades. Though, I don’t know if they’d think of me as someone they’d want standing by their side…

“…Get outta here, you!”

Riku swung the Soul Eater down, and ran towards a room he was sure would lie further up the stairs.

If I remember correctly, then this is—

“I wonder how it feels to visit your room after so long. The memories are rising into your mind now, aren’t they?”

The man’s voice resounded in the room, and Riku spun around.

A disgusting voice to go with these disgusting memories…

Riku frowned, answered in a low voice, “They’re not nice memories, unfortunately. I got this room from Maleficent, see.”

That’s right… Maleficent presented this room to me for my own use. Other than the time I spent aboard Hook’s ship when I went to get Kairi, I was in this castle. And, of all that time, I spent most of it in this room.

Swinging my blade—reading books—and if I had to say what else I did, I was just feeling irritated, thinking about things. Being angry about things.

I felt it was my fault that Kairi went into that state—but, then I’d wonder to myself if it wasn’t really a mistake to have left for outside worlds, and I would touch Kairi’s sleeping face gently.

“Seduced by the power of darkness, you lived in this room. You threw away your homeland, threw away your friends—threw away everything, and all you got was this tiny room.”

“Shut up!” Riku spat, and flew out of the room.

<<ЯR>>

Running out of the hall, Riku sent some Heartless flying, and climbed more stairs. At the top, he banged open a small door.

On the other side was the sight of Hollow Bastion’s gloomy dawn. The sea and land weren’t visible; only the sky went on and on.

Back then, Riku had been allowed to walk around the castle freely, and he had spent some time here at the top of this tower. It was a secret place where no one, not even Maleficent, came.

“…This place is just like I remember, too…,” Riku muttered in a small voice, and sat down.

I threw everything away… Yeah, when I left the Islands, I threw everything away.

Back then, sitting here, I would tell that to myself over and over.

Cause that day—that stormy night—I lost to my greedy desire to be able go to outside worlds, and I submitted to the lure of darkness. If I could just see a world—if I could just get away from that same-old scenery, it would be fine. I didn’t care how. And so, I threw away the Islands—Sora, and Kairi.

“I’m so stupid.”

But, I wasn’t able to throw them away. No—the truth is, even when I threw them away, Sora and Kairi didn’t do the same to me. They didn’t give up. That’s why I wanted to save Kairi. Sora’s innocent smile was frustrating, and I wanted to save Kairi before he did, no matter what it took.

The wind brushed through Riku’s hair.

I wonder if I really will meet someone from my memories in this castle… I want to meet—Sora. More than Kairi, more than anything, I want to see Sora. I want to see him—and apologise.

Riku stood up and put his hand on the door.

I can’t run away. I want to meet Sora with my head held high.

Riku stepped inside the castle once more.

<<ЯR>>

I go on and on, but all I meet are Heartless. No matter how far I go, I can’t find Sora. Not only Sora—there’s not even a sign of human presence in this castle.

There’s only—the sign of that man.

“Hey! You’re watching, aren’t you! What’s going on!” Riku yelled at the man. “Didn’t you say I could meet my friends! Answer me!”

“—Do you really want to meet them?”

Riku stopped moving. “…Of course.”

Of course I want to meet them. I want to meet Sora—meet Kairi.

“Didn’t you throw them away?”

I did once. But…

“Trying to go to outside worlds, you passed through the Door to Darkness. You threw away your family, your friends, everything, and broke out of your homeland, in pursuit of the power of darkness.”

“But, I threw away the darkness!”
Yeah. I threw away the darkness. I won’t let it confuse me anymore. That’s why—

“If so, did you gain anything back in exchange? You threw away your homeland as well as darkness. You’ve thrown away everything, and your heart is empty—like that room. And yes, your memories are empty too. That’s why you won’t be able to meet anyone. All that’s left in your heart is the darkness you couldn’t cut off and throw away.”

The man’s words reverberated in Riku’s head like a spell.

“That’s a lie! I threw away the darkness!”

I threw away darkness, that time. The King told me so. I got out from under Ansem’s thumb.

“Did you really–? If so, you should continue on past here. The person you want to meet is waiting.”

Riku looked up, and there was a large door at the end of his gaze.

That’s the big hall Maleficent used to always hang around in…

Riku ran for the door.

<<ЯR>>

A huge church, decorated with stained glass.

There, she stood.

“I waited for you, Riku.”

“….Maleficent.”

Riku gripped the Soul Eater, facing her.

“Now now. What a way to greet me, when I think of you as my own son…,” said Maleficent, spreading both arms as she walked towards him.

“Don’t come near me—To think I have to meet you first, of all people,” Riku said, quietly.

“Of course! It’s because I’m the one who loves you more than anyone else. Here, let me see your face—”

Riku pushed Maleficent’s arms away and jumped backwards. “Stop messing around!”

Maleficent began to laugh as if something was unbearable funny. “Heh heh heh…”

“What’s so funny!”

“Your heart is stained with darkness. And so, you won’t be able to meet anyone but creatures of the darkness like myself. Doesn’t that make perfect sense?”

“…What…”

My heart is stained with darkness, so I can’t meet anyone but… people like Maleficent?

“It’s better than not being able to see anyone at all, right? Your heart is empty. If some darkness didn’t remain there, I don’t think you would have been able to see even me.”

“I don’t remember hoping to see you.”

Really? Is that really true? Riku turned it over and over. Who stood by me when I was depressed? When I saw Sora playing around with Donald and Goofy, the King’s attendants, in Traverse Town, who whispered to me so kindly?

“Is that really true? Didn’t you once cling to me, seeking the power of darkness? You were hoping, in the depths of your heart. You wanted more of the power of darkness, you wanted to depend on darkness—just like that, see?” Maleficent whispered sweetly, and Riku bit his lip.

“Maybe I did hope for it back then. That’s why I opened my heart to the darkness. But, then I understood. You can’t depend on the power of darkness.” Riku took a deep breath, and looked straight at Maleficent. “I won’t depend on the darkness any more. If I’m only going to meet creatures of the darkness like you from now on, then I’ll defeat you all.”

Riku leapt at Maleficent, Soul Eater gripped in his hand. Maleficent blocked his swing with her staff.

“If you’re going to say such a thing, realise that in the end you’ll have to destroy yourself. Right now you’re a creature of the darkness just like me, too, you see.”

“So what! I depended on the darkness because my heart was weak—that ‘me’ makes me feel sick!” Riku jumped back to a suitable distance from Maleficent, then ran in again. “I do feel like I am my own enemy. So, when I see people like you drowning in darkness just like I did, it really gets under my skin!”

He brought the Soul Eater up, the tip of it grazing Maleficent’s chin.

“You hate the darkness, but it seems that fighting against it is all you can do.”

“I’m done talking, Maleficent,” Riku declared, breathing heavily. From now on, there’s nothing more to say. From now on, I can’t let the darkness tempt me.

“You’re letting me see the suffering of your heart as clearly as if you were spelling it out for me.”

“Shut up!”

Maleficent stepped aside, dodging his swing.

“Then, why don’t you let me end your suffering? With the magnificent power of darkness, yes!”

A dark aura began to emanate from Maleficent’s body; she changed into a dragon, and spat fire.

“—Tch!”

Riku made a huge leap backwards, out of the way. How do I fight her? And from where?

That instant—

Riku!

There’s a voice coming from somewhere. That voice is—

“Your majesty!?”

“There’s no time now! C’mon, do it now! Hurry!”

As the King’s voice said this, the ceiling began to crumble down.

“Your majesty! Where are you!”

“Come on already—hurry!”

In front of Riku, a pile of bricks from the ceiling had formed some little footholds.

“Got it!”

Riku climbed up the little footholds, and swung the Soul Eater down. Every time the dragon stomped some footholds crumbled, but even so, there was too much of a gap.

“I—won’t let the darkness in! From now on, and for forever!”

Riku’s blow cut the dragon’s head off.

“Gwaaaaaaaah!”

With a great roar, the dragon collapsed—and turned back into Maleficent.

“…Maleficent…”

Riku walked over to Maleficent and brought the Soul Eater up over his head, about to bring it down on her.

“Riku… You can never escape from the darkness…”

“Shut up! Don’t say another word!”

The moment he went to bring the Soul Eater down, Maleficent’s figure turned into light and disappeared. Riku stared at the light.

Maybe… Maleficent really did care about me? Maleficent was the only one in this castle who was there for me as my friend. For that one moment, I went and believed that she understood me. Maleficent was addicted to the power of darkness, and she ruined herself. That was the Maleficent who used me. I depended on her dark powers. But…

“…Your Majesty…”

The voice I heard before was the voice of the King. The King of all people might be able to give me the answers. The King of all people could…

Riku noticed that there was a door on the other side of the crumbled wall.

I have to move forwards. And then—I have to know the truth.

Riku ran towards the door.

<<ЯR>>

The air in the gloomy room was somehow damp. Not only was the room plagued with unpleasant air, but it felt like it might be permeated with creepy things. A blue-haired man stood quietly in the very centre of the room. The hair over his face was unusually long, covering most of his field of vision. He was frowning, and it seemed as if he were waiting intently for something.

A man with cropped brown hair and a good physique appeared, and walked towards the blue-haired man.

“…You’re not even going to offer a word of greeting? Lexaeus?”

“What’s happened, Zexion? Please explain it to me,” the brown-haired man called Lexaeus asked the blue-haired man, Zexion, pressingly.

Just then, another man appeared in the middle of the room. The man, who had long blond hair, had a terribly sickly complexion.

“You’re skipping the greeting, too… it’s deplorable. What happened to the unity of our Organisation, I wonder,” Zexion declared without even looking at the blond man.

“You little–!”

“No, Vexen.” Lexaeus held the blond man—Vexen—still with one hand.

Silence descended on those in the cramped, gloomy room, and Zexion sighed heavily.

Lexaeus was the one to break the silence. “Tell us, Zexion. What did you detect?”

“…It was a smell. At the very deepest layer of the earth, I detected two smells. One was that of Malefi…”

“That witch was swallowed by darkness. It would be impossible for her to return from the Realm of Darkness on her own,” Vexen interrupted.

“Allow me to finish speaking. What I sensed was that of Maleficent, though it was actually the smell of an extremely close fake. Unfortunately, before I could look into it properly, the fake disappeared—brought down by the other one I detected.” Zexion shrugged.

Right now, above ground, there is a serious plan unfolding. But…

“What is it?” asked Lexaeus.

“Well… I don’t really know,” Zexion answered quietly, and then spoke again. “But, his scent is incredibly close to that of our Superior. Close enough to be able to call them the same person.”

“Fool!” Vexen said, raising his voice.

There’s no way such a thing could be. To be similar to him…

“It’s the truth. So… what shall we do?” asked Zexion of the two. But, the answer was already there. They couldn’t just sit there enviously watching the plan of the members above-ground unfold.

“…Let’s watch over things, for now,” Lexaeus said, needlessly voicing their conclusion, and the three nodded.

<<ЯR>>

On the other side of the door was another chilly hall, just like the one at the entrance. Riku started walking towards the door he could see at the other end of the hall. It seemed Heartless weren’t appearing here for some reason.

It was definitely the King’s voice that I heard that time. But, I can’t see him. Maybe it was an illusion.

“Why do you refuse the darkness?”

That man’s voice echoed through the hall.

“You were watching, right? It’s exactly what I said to Maleficent.” I’ll never be anyone’s tool again. I won’t borrow the power of darkness.

“Darkness is your weapon. If you don’t accept it, it will be difficult for you.”

Riku stared silently into space.

“Stop fighting and accept the darkness—and then, become my limbs once more!”

Riku felt the air warp. That man was there—the man who had taken over Riku’s body—and treated me like an object—Ansem.

“Of course it was you.”

“Huh—you don’t seem surprised.”

Riku stared fixedly at the face of the man in front of him, his expression not even changing. “You were always going on about the darkness. That’s how I could tell. Is your goal to drag me into the dark and control my body like before?”

Ansem slid closer to Riku. “How blunt. You’re definitely perfect for being my limbs. Now, once more, that body will—”

“Lay off it!! There will be no second time!” Riku leapt with the Soul Eater.

“How foolish…”

“Guh!?”

Ansem stopped the Soul Eater with his arm, and Riku was the one sent flying instead.

“Did you think you could defeat me? You, the weakling who couldn’t win against Sora even when you relied on the power of darkness?”

“Well excuse me… for being weak…”

Riku’s knees hit the floor.

“You’re weak, which is why you need the darkness. Give up. Prostrate yourself before me and the darkness.”

Ansem walked to the fallen Riku, and pulled him up by the arm.

“Who would… to something like darkness…”

Ansem brought his face close, and Riku averted his.

“There’s no longer anything that can be your power but darkness.”

Ansem threw him down, and Riku hit the ground with his face.

So I can’t do anything if I don’t borrow the power of darkness…

I lost to Sora. I lost to Ansem. There’s no one here with me. There was only Maleficent and Heartless… nothing but beings of darkness. 

Riku felt like he was going to cry.

I can’t do anything if I don’t borrow the power of darkness… that’s…

That’s not true!

A voice echoed from somewhere.

“—Your majesty?!”

A ball of brightly shining light floated around Riku and Ansem.

“Yup! Riku, you’re not alone.”

The King’s voice and the light washed over Riku.

“I believe in you, Riku. The light won’t abandon you, no way. Even if you’re in the depths of darkness, the light will reach you!”

“…I understand.” Riku stood up slowly. I’m not alone. I have friends. I have the King. “There’s no way I’d lose to something like darkness.”

And then he was gripping the Soul Eater, facing Ansem.

“You think a tiny light like that will stand up against my darkness!”

Ansem closed the distance between them in one rush.

“—Ack!”

Riku’s Soul Eater stopped Ansem’s descending arm.

“I won’t lose to someone like you.”

Riku hit with all his strength to try and send Ansem flying back. But, Ansem simply separated himself from Riku without even a flinch, and began to laugh.

“Heh heh heh…”

“What’s so funny!”

“Ha ha ha ha ha!” Ansem spread his arms out wide. “It seems that fighting against it is all you can do. I’ll help you see with your own eyes.”

Riku sidled forwards. “What do you mean?”

Ansem threw four cards at him. “These cards are made from your memories. If you travel the worlds born from these cards, I’m sure you’ll come to understand: that no matter how much you search for the light, you cannot run from the darkness—that there’s nothing left but for you to give in!”

“I never intended to run away to begin with. If I make it through all the worlds from these cards without giving in, then I win!”

“I have one more present for you,” said Ansem, as if he hadn’t paid any attention to Riku’s words. He snapped his fingers, and a dark aura surrounded Riku.

“What are you doing!” Riku tried to shake himself free, but it clung, wrapping around his body. I feel sick inside my heart, like something is stirring in there. What the hell… is this?

“I intensified the remaining darkness inside your heart just a little.”

“You still think I’m going to rely on the power of darkness now?”

“You’re the one who’ll decide whether you use it or not.” Ansem floated lazily up. “I’ll be waiting, Riku! For the time when you give in, and give your body over to the mercy of the power of darkness…”

“Wait!”

Riku went to chase after Ansem, but he disappeared right before his eyes.

“The power of darkness…” Riku stared at the palm of his hand.

The darkness he said was remaining inside my heart… Do I have to go around with this darkness in me forever?

“Something… smells…”

It felt as though the surrounding air had changed since Ansem left.

“This smell… the smell of darkness?”

It’s a lot like the smell I could detect coming from Maleficent, Hook and the Heartless—beings of darkness like that. Smelling like this… it’s just like I’m a tool of darkness.

“It’s okay, Riku.”

Riku looked up at the sound of the voice to find the King standing there.

“Your majesty!? You’re… blurry…”

The figure of the King before Riku’s eyes seemed about to fade any moment.

“My power can reach this place only weakly. So, I’m making sure my request reaches.”

Riku looked up and stared at the fading King. “A request from your majesty…?”

“Hey, Riku. You can’t go throwing yourself away just cause you smell of darkness. Fight the darkness inside. I know it will be a painful battle. But—please don’t forget. Even in the deepest darkness, there’s definitely light.”

“Light inside the darkness…”

“We saw it together, didn’t we? On the other side of the Door to Darkness, the gentle light in the far-off distance—the light of Kingdom Hearts—guided you. Please don’t give up, and believe. I’m wishing from the bottom of my heart.”

To not give up. To believe. But, with my body giving off such a strong smell of darkness…

“Riku.”

“…Okay. I’ll give it a try.”

I know I want to believe in the King’s words. If the light of Kingdom Hearts shines on me too… If the light pours over not just Sora, but also me… maybe I can believe.

“I’ll try to find a way to get to where you are, too. I’ll definitely come. I promise.”

The King thrust out a hand, and Riku tried to take it. But, his hand went right through.

“I can’t touch you… is this an illusion…?”

“But, we shook hands firmly in our hearts. We’re connected, you know.”

“…I guess so.” But that’s horribly fleeting… and a little lonely.

“Well, I’ll be off.” The King disappeared with a smile on his face.

“So I’m alone again, am I…”

Riku gave a small sigh, and headed towards the door to the next floor.

<<ЯR>>

Continue to Chapter 2: Recall

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