arkadia: (Default)
Queenie arrives in the morning, opening Eden’s door without knocking to announce that after breakfast they’ll be going to Ursus Union, and its training grounds.

“Can’t we just use the street outside?” Eden asks, throwing an arm over his eyes, but Queenie just shuts the door without replying. “I like the street. Me and those cobblestones really built up a friendship.”

An hour later, they’re on the tram that circles the wall, trundling slowly around towards Ursus. Eden can see it from his window, a building larger than Leopardos’, towering up next to a circular arena.

The tram eventually stops, and Eden has to trudge down the wall’s stairs, following the rest of his dormitory as they chat among themselves. As soon as they’ve entered the training grounds, a wall of noise hits Eden, enough to make him reflexively clap a hand over his ear. Cheering, his mind supplies. They’re expressing support.

Luso tugs him out of the doorway and into the stands, pushing him down onto a seat. The seats are filled with keybearers, clustered together into different unions: The largest group by far are dressed in brown, green, and turqoise, or decorated with bear symbols -- they must be Ursus. Scattered around the rest of the seats are boys and girls in white and red for Unicornis, or pink and purple for Vulpes. Eden notes that he can’t see anybody wearing Anguis’ blues.

“Look, looklooklook,” Luso says, pointing down at the arena and the two people standing there: One brawny, dressed in white with a unicorn design in red across his shoulder; and one tall and slender, his long blond hair tied back into a ponytail, dressed in flowing gold and purple, with a jeweled bear talisman on one hip.

“I’m looking,” Eden says. “Are we -- meant to be cheering for one of them?”

“Sure, I guess. If you’re going to cheer for one, cheer for Orrin. He’s from Unicornis’ second dormitory,” Luso says. “The guy in yellow is Mateus, the dorm leader for Ursus’ first dormitory.”

“Unicornis and Ursus end up fighting here a lot, these days,” Izana says. “Since they’re both vying for the top spot.”

“Honestly,” Adelle says, yawning. “It’s boring to see them brawling here every day.”

“But you can learn something from watching them. Mateus is a light element user like you, Eden,” Queenie says.

Orrin summons his keyblade, a huge thing almost half his size, and Mateus regards him coolly, lifting one hand to beckon him. With a cry, Orrin charges forward, keyblade raised over his head.

Izana grimaces.

“What an idiot,” Alvis mutters.

Mateus doesn’t move, but as Orrin closes in on him, a magic circle opens beneath his feet, carved into the sound in glowing lines. There’s a sharp sucking noise, followed by a crack as Orrin is rooted to the ground, sparks of electricity crackling around him.

Mateus flicks a hand, and Orrin is flung upwards, crashing into another magic circle, hanging in the air. As Eden watches, a half dozen more appear around the arena, slanted at diagonals, drifting sedately through the air. Mateus flicks his hand this way and that, batting Orrin between them.

He leans forward, resting his chin on his hand, and slides one foot beneath his chair. As Mateus twists his hand, holding Orrin in mid-air as the circles converge on him, Eden scrapes the tip of his shoe against the floor, then taps it lightly.

The circles collide with an explosion of light and flame, and Orrin tumbles out of the smoke, landing on his knees, clinging to his keyblade, breathing heavily.

“An adequate diversion,” Mateus says, raising his hand above his head, and summoning into it a keyblade like a golden wing.

The crowd’s cheers rise to a fever pitch as he brings the keyblade down, scything through the air.

Eden leaps forward, trailing after-images as he dives down from the stands and into Mateus’ path, keyblade appearing in his hand. The two blades collide with a wave of force, shoving Eden down onto one knee.

Mateus raises an eyebrow. “What’s this?”

“Sorry,” Eden says wryly, mustering a quick smile. “My hand slipped.”

Behind Mateus, in the front rows, he sees four other keybearers rise. That must be the rest of his dormitory. They’re halfway to their feet when their fifth member, a red-haired boy with a hat tipped over his eyes, holds an arm out in their path.

“Meddling child,” Mateus murmurs.

“Unicorn Dude here has had enough,” Eden says, straining against the ground, pushing Mateus’ keyblade back enough to rise to his feet. “You’ve proven your point, you know? Several points. Like, nine different points. Too many points.

Mateus regards him for a moment, then steps back, flourishing his keyblade. “Raise your keyblade.”

“I really didn’t come here to fight,” Eden says. “Actually, I didn’t want to come here at all.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Izana, Queenie, Freyra, and Alvis hurrying into the arena. Izana raises his hands placatingly as he reaches Eden’s side.

“Sorry, Eden here is new,” Izana says, in his most calming voice. “We should have reined him in.”

Mateus sniffs delicately. “Then you can all step aside. My duel with Orrin here isn’t done. Not until the Chirithys name me as the victor.”

“It is done,” Eden says. “I’m telling you that it’s done. You won. Congrats. We’ll throw a party.”

“Eden,” Queenie says, warningly.

“If you’re not going to move,” Mateus says. “Then I’ll make you move.”

---


Eden’s keyblade spins out of his hand, and lands embedded in the sand on the other side of the arena, as his back hits the ground. Nearby, Alvis is face down, and Izana is sprawled on his side next to him. Freyra is slumped against a wall on the other side of the arena.

Eden feels something hot on his face, just beneath his nose, and reaches over to touch it. It’s a deep red liquid, with a sharp smell that makes his eyes water.

Queenie darts behind Mateus, swinging her keyblade towards him, but a few quick strikes later, she’s on the ground as well, her keyblade spinning across the sand.

Mateus looms over her, keyblade raised, when a voice rings out.

“That’s enough.”

One by one, they appear: Eden’s Chirithy, perched on his chest, then five more, and finally the last one, appearing on Mateus’ shoulder.

“Master Aced requests your presence,” Mateus’ Chirithy says.

“I’m busy,” Mateus replies, brushing some hair out of his face. There are purple marks blossoming around one of his eyes. Eden’s not sure which of them landed the hit.

“Master Aced insists. He needs assistance teaching the lower dormitories,” Mateus’ Chirithy says. “Your work here is done. We’re all in agreement that you’re the victor.”

The other Chirithys nod in unison.

“Fine,” Mateus says, and gestures to the rest of his dormitory, stalking towards the exit.

Eden pulls himself to his feet, forcing himself to ignore his aching legs, making sure he’s standing before Mateus can leave. “Let’s do this again sometime, Matty.”

Mateus doesn’t respond.

Chirithy swings himself onto Eden’s shoulder. “Ursus has an infirmary. We should go there now.”

“I’ll pass. I think I’ve had enough of this place.”
arkadia: (Face)
Day One.

Master Gula. That was, apparently, the yellow-robed keybearer’s name, and as they walked to the South-East of the town, he explained that he was the Foreteller of Leopardos Union, that he would be teaching Eden, that Chirithy -- the little cat, who was now perched on Eden’s shoulder -- would see to his being assigned to a dormitory.

“Why couldn’t I kill that Heartless?” Eden asks, as they make their way through the street. “I saw what I was going to do, in my mind. It should have worked.”

“Summon your keyblade.”

Eden holds out his hand, curling it around the shape of a handle just in time for the keyblade to snap into his hand in a flicker of light and glass. Gula steps closer, tracing one finger over the filigree.

“It’s incomplete,” Gula says, after a moment. “It was probably broken at some point before you came here.”

“I don’t remember.”

“Nobody does, when they come here.”

Chirithy chooses this time to speak, circling around Eden’s neck to his other shoulder. “Travelling between worlds without a corridor of light is traumatic,” he says, gently. “It takes its toll on the traveller. But this is a new start: Your memories from before don’t matter anymore.”

Gula nods. “What matters is the future. The role of a keybearer is to gather light to drive away the darkness.”

“I -- don’t know what that means.”

Gula sighs. Then: “It means that something terrible is coming. The five Unions have to save as many Heartless as we can, collect as many hearts as possible, and defend Daybreak Town. Just be careful of the other Unions.”

“What? You guys don’t get along? Did someone from another Union tell you that your mask looks silly? Because it -- …”

“What I mean is that some don’t aim for peace between worlds. They gather hearts for their own selfish desires. You yourself will have to find out which ones are guardians of light, and which ones are seekers of darkness hiding behind a guardian’s mask.”

Chirithy gives Gula a sharp look. “That’s enough for now, Foreteller Gula. I’m sure Eden appreciates the warning.”

“Not -- not really,” Eden says, voice wry. “Sounds like cryptic nonsense to me. You should try taking classes in clarity.”

He can’t see Gula’s face, but he can tell that he looks less than happy. He keeps walking, guiding Eden through the winding streets of Daybreak Town until they reach a tall building, with a stained glass window of a leopard’s face set into its front.

“This is Leopardos Union. We built it around the town library, so you’ll have access to every book we can gather here. We have dormitories, a cafeteria, even training grounds -- but if you want the best training grounds in the city, you’ll have to go to Ursus Union,” Gula says. “Chirithy will set you up with a guest room for tonight, and tomorrow you’ll meet the rest of your dormitory.”

“Try to make a good first impression,” Chirithy adds.


Day Two.

Eden does not make a good first impression.

But, look, okay, look: Who knows why that is? Maybe they’re just grumpy. Maybe they don’t like new people. Maybe it’s because Eden thought it would be funny to set off the fire suppressant system and douse everyone in water, before announcing, very calmly, that the introductory water party in his honour had began. Maybe it’s just a bad day for them.

Nobody knows. It’s a mystery.

The Moogle librarians hurry to shut off the sprinklers, and in the aftermath, as all the members of Dormitory XIII towel themselves off, Eden thinks to introduce himself.

“I’m Eden! Nice to meet you all.”

The rest of the dormitory eye him like they don’t even know what to say.

One of their Chirithys -- not Eden’s, he notes that his is still settled atop his head -- walks across the top of a bookshelf, shaking his head. “Very immature.”

“Disruptive,” another Chirithy adds from a table.

“Most people would have just said hello,” one girl, black-haired with glasses, remarks, twisting water out of her hair. “I’m Queenie. These are Alvis, Adelle, Luso, Freyra, and Izana.”

She gestures in turn at a tall -- taller than Eden, at least -- young man with scruffy brown hair, glowering at Eden; a silvery-haired girl dressed in bright pink; a tiny young man with long brown hair and a big grin, the only one of the group who seems to actually have appreciated the surprise water party; a young woman with blonde hair tied back in a ponytail; and tall, stocky boy with dark hair and the hood of his red hoodie pulled up.

The blonde -- Freyra -- claps her hands on Eden’s shoulders, giving him a wide grin. “Welcome to Dormitory Thirteen! We’re technically the lowest ranked dormitory in Leopardos, but maybe now that we’ve got an extra pair of hands, we can push ourselves up to the number twelve spot.”

“We should take him on tomorrow’s Heartless suppression mission,” Luso adds. “It can be our first group outing.”

“Pass,” Alvis says.

“Until Master Gula gives him leave to go to other worlds, he has to stay in Daybreak Town,” Queenie says. “Those are the rules.”

Adelle snorts. “Rules are there to be broken, right? I don’t see the problem.”

“The problem is that we’ll all get grounded, and have points deducted -- dragging down not just us but the whole Union -- if we get caught. Which we would be,” Queenie says. “Right, Chirithy?”

“I can guarantee it,” the Chirithy on the bookshelf says.

“How does Leopardos do in the rankings, anyway?” Eden asks. “Ooh, are we at the top? We’re at the top, right. I mean, I’m here, so that’s worth at least fifty extra points. That’s just science.”

“Actually, Ursus is at the top,” Alvis says. “Then Unicornis, Vulpes, Anguis, and finally us.”

Eden blinks at him. “What-a-what, now?”

“We’re at the bottom of the rankings,” Queenie says.

“But Anguis is only ever ahead of us by a couple of hundred points,” Luso adds.

“A couple of hundred,” Eden repeats, slowly. “... I feel victimised by being placed in this dormitory.”

“Sorry, dude,” Luso says. “Even if you are worth fifty points, that’s not going to help us much.”

Eden folds his arms. “And you guys are completely sure I’m not meant to be sorted into Ursus Dormitory One or something? That seems like it’s more my speed.”

“Completely certain,” the Chirithy on the table says. “Master Gula specifically placed you in this dormitory.”

Eden frowns. “I’m going to go turn the sprinklers back on. Back soon.”


Day Three.

Gula’s the last to arrive at the meeting of the Foretellers, and by the time he gets there, Aced is already pacing, and Ira has his hands tightly coiled on the table, while Ava avoids looking at either of them.

They must have fought again. They do at nearly every meeting, lately -- Aced has a talent for finding something to be angry about in everything Ira says.

“Gula,” Aced booms, and Gula looks up at Aced -- far taller than he is, imposingly brawny, with a mask like a bear’s face -- who draws himself to his full height in a somewhat useless attempt at intimidation. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”

“About the new recruit?” Gula asks. Aced stiffens in surprise, and Gula sits down, shaking his head. “Don’t look so surprised. You’ve been snatching up every keybearer that comes in to the town.”

“So many, in fact, that your Union no longer has enough beds even for the ones you do have,” Ira adds.

“I know the Master told us to compete, Aced, but you can’t take every new keybearer that appears in town,” Invi says. “I agree with Ira. We have to put a freeze on new Ursus keybearers, at least until you’ve had a chance to build more dormitories for them.”

Aced scoffs. “The Master told us to compete, but the moment any of us beat Ira, he suddenly tells us to slow down,” he says. “At least let me have Gula’s new recruit. I was already on my way there when he swooped in.”

“I did swoop in, though,” Gula says. “So he’s mine now. The Chirithys have already approved it. Besides, one look at that scary bear mask of yours and he’ll run out of town.”

“Please, everyone, don’t fight,” Ava says. “That’s not what the Master would have wanted.”

“The Master’s not here,” Aced replies. “He left, and he and Luxu are never coming back.”

Ava ducks her head. Even with the fox mask hiding her face, it’s obvious to Gula that she’s upset. Aced pauses, as if he’s not sure what to say next, then settles down into his seat.

“The next keybearer to arrive is mine. Then I’ll stop. At least until I have space,” he grunts.

“So be it,” Ira says. “There’s plenty of space around the training grounds for you to expand your Union.”

“I wasn’t asking for your approval,” Aced mutters.


Day Four.

Eden is awoken on his fourth day by the sun blinking to life from its spot on the Eastern horizon, exactly at six am, as usual. The suddenness of it makes him groan and tug the covers over his head, but eventually, when the spots clear from his eyes, he wakes up.

At Chirithy’s suggestion, he wanders town, exploring its mesh of cobbled streets and alleyways. The whole town is a circle, bordered by fifty metre high walls with trams running along the top of them, and positioned around the edges of town, near the walls, are the five Unions.

Eden quickly discovers that Leopardos lies between Anguis and Vulpes. Vulpes he checks out first, by circling west: Instead of being attached to the town library like Leopardos is, the Vulpes Union building sits in the midst of a cluster of cafes and shops, the proverbial social hub of the town.

He doesn’t stick around long enough to see it, instead finding Anguis’ building. Unlike Vulpes and Leopardos, this one doesn’t seem to have any other function, or be situated to draw people from other Unions to it. It’s nestled in a crook in the outer wall, visible but uninviting.

He heads past it to climb the stairs up to the top of the wall. Beyond town, there are hills and valleys, but no other towns that he can see, nor even any villages. Here, on the North-Eastern edge of the wall, he can see the spot where the sun brushes against the horizon.

He can also see the centre of town. The fountain plaza is visible here, and looming above it -- above every building in town -- is a clocktower of glass and stone, the central point of the town. It’s oddly familiar, and although the hands on the clock don’t move (“It’s been broken for a long time,” Chirithy explains,) he has an image in his mind of them ticking.


Day Five.

Chirithy doesn’t appear to tell Eden what to do.

There’s a leather ball about the size of Eden’s palm on his bedside table.

He throws it at the wall.

For fourteen hours.


Day Six.

“We need to test your skills,” Queenie says, in the street behind Leopardos, which seems to function as a makeshift training area for the Union. “Alvis has volunteered to be your sparring partner.”

Eden raises an eyebrow, eyeing Alvis. The boy has several inches on Eden, a broader frame, and, right now, a scowl that suggests that he might not have entirely forgiven Eden for the water party incident.

“... He volunteered for this, didn’t he?” Eden asks.

Queenie arches an eyebrow. Eden presumes that’s a yes.

“We’re not going to let him hurt you,” Izana says, in his everything’s-calm-and-okay voice. “Not badly, at least.”

“Summon your keyblade,” Queenie says. “We’ll do two minutes to start off with.”

Eden sighs, tucking his left arm behind his back, and holding out his right. His keyblade snaps into it with a flash, the glass edge glittering in the sunlight. Queenie nods to Alvis, and he summons his own, gripping it in both hands.

It’s less ornate than Eden’s. Instead of complex filigree and stained glass in shades of blue and green, it’s grey and red, with a guard like a spoked wheel, and teeth like bent, metal pipes spewing grey fumes.

“On my mark,” Queenie says. “Three, two …”

Alvis moves before she’s finished counting. Eden catches a flash of lightning behind him as he speeds across the cobblestones, barely touching them, and his downward strike crashes against Eden’s keyblade, raised in defense.

The moment the two collide, Eden feels the charge, making his skin prickle and the hairs on his arm stand up on end. He jumps back just as electricity arcs out of Alvis’ keyblade, scoring the ground.

He taps the ground with the tip of his foot, testing how solid it is, and as Alvis throws himself towards him again, he pushes off. The world seems to slow, but he sees afterimages of himself, and a trail of dazzling light, as he curves around Alvis.

Alvis blocks his strike, and as Eden makes a second, Alvis swings his keyblade forward to meet it. He’s going to use that lightning-thing again.

He dismisses his keyblade, and Alvis’ swings through empty air, the boy unbalancing himself and stumbling forward, straight into Eden’s fist. As Alvis doubles over, Eden pulls his left hand from behind his back, summoning his keyblade to it, and brings it down towards Alvis back.

Clang. Alvis rights himself at the last second, blocking the blow. Eden takes a step back, tossing his keyblade back to his right hand.

Then Alvis is moving, lightning sparking out of his shoulders as he speeds up the Union building. Eden taps his foot against the ground again, and pushes off, trailing light as he dashes up after him.

He’s faster than Alvis, he realises as he closes the distance between them, then overtakes him, heels digging into the stone of the Union building as he curves around. They clash, then zip around the building and clash again, then again, and again, and again. Each time, Eden has more momentum, knocking Alvis backwards.

It’s between their fifteenth and sixteenth clash that Eden feels his speed giving out, and he realises that while he might be faster, there’s no way he can sustain this speed. He has just enough time to finish the thought before all of his momentum dissipates midway up one of the building’s towers.

Gravity snatches him up, bearing him downwards, and as he falls he sees a streak of lightning diving from the top of the tower and towards him.

He feels Alvis’ power hitting him like a million volts straight to the bones, just before he feels the boy’s weight hit his chest. A split second later, they slam into the ground.

“Ten seconds out,” Izana says, glancing at his stopwatch.

Eden shoves Alvis off him, pulling himself to his feet, only to realise that the reason his legs aren’t hurting is because they feel like they’re made of liquid. He wobbles, then tumbles forward, and lies there as the last seconds tick down.

“That’s two minutes,” Izana said. “Queenie was taking notes.”

“Light elemental magic, but -- basic, at present. Any secondary elements unclear,,” Queenie says. “Light isn’t any of the Foretellers’ specialties, but that’s hardly a unique situation here. They can tutor you in the theory of it, and other students can tutor you in the practicalities of it -- there are three or four other Light wielders in Leopardos, Chirithy will provide details.”

Eden settles his forehead a little more comfortably against the ground and opens his mouth to make a sarcastic comment -- but his mouth is numb, so it just comes out as scathing gibberish.

“You don’t seem able to maintain your use of magic for very long, either,” Queenie says. “Your keyblade is still incomplete, and it lacks adequate power, and you possess insufficient defensive skills. Had this been a genuine fight, Alvis would have torn your heart out within minutes.”

“Still, for your first battle, that wasn’t bad,” Izana adds. “The -- numbness should wear off in a few minutes.”

Alvis snorts, dismissing his keyblade.

“Luso,” Queenie says. “Start doing warm-ups. Once Eden’s back on his feet, you’ll partner with him for another spar. Two and a half minutes.”

Day One.

May. 15th, 2017 11:12 pm
arkadia: (Default)
In ancient times, people believed that light was a gift from an unseen land by the name of Kingdom Hearts.

But Kingdom Hearts was safeguarded by its counterpart, the X-Blade. Warriors vied for that precious light, thus beginning the Keyblade War.

The violent clash shattered the X-Blade into twenty pieces - seven of light and thirteen of darkness. And the only real Kingdom Hearts was swallowed by the darkness, never to surface again.


The jolt is violent.

At first, he thinks he’s falling, but he realises after a moment that he’s drifting through water, landing on his feet upon glass. There’s light filtering from above, playing off the patterns of stained glass, which are slowly becoming clear through the murkiness. A circle ringed in stars, with a unicorn, a snake, a leopard, a fox and a bear staring upwards.

In the centre, a heart with a winged cross. He knows that symbol. There is a twitch in the back of his mind that tells him that he came looking for it, either now or at some point. He wipes one hand over the glass and stares into it, trying to get a good look at himself.

He's humanoid, but smooth, silvery white. He knows that's not how people are meant to look: People have eyes, and noses, and anything except smooth silvery curves. There’s a push at the back of his mind, a reminder that the response here is to be nauseated and horrified.

”What shape appears in your heart?”


The voice is sonorous and totally calm, as if it’s the most simple question in the world, but he doesn’t know the answer. It apparently does, though, as he feels its presence pushing against his mind, and sees a picture of a face framed with a mop of dark hair peering out of a mirror in a room he doesn’t know.

He looks back at the glass. He has eyes now, a nose, a mouth, hair. He’s wearing clothes - jeans, a t-shirt, a hooded jacket with too many zippers, a green keffiyeh around his neck.

”Eden Llyx.”


Something rumbles. Coming up the edge of the glass pillar is a sea of inky black, squirming and crawling, obscuring the glassy faces and curling up over Eden. There are other voices now, overlapping, yelling, and Eden doesn’t understand any of them.

He feels a weight in his hand. A weapon, his mind supplies. His arm moves on its own, lifting it up, and the burst of light spreads outwards, dissolving the sea of darkness around him.

”The Keyblade. The power of light that drives away the darkness.”


Eden turns it, looking at it. The shaft of it is filigreed, ending in a curve of sharp glass. He thinks it's pretty, but he's not sure what that even means.

“It’s time to wake up now.”


He opens his eyes. He’s standing in a town square, by a fountain, as the sun hangs on the edge of the horizon. I came here. He doesn’t remember how. Or why. There are the suggestions of memories clawing at the edge of his mind, but no matter how hard he thinks about them, all he gets are flickers and flashes.

He can't shake the feeling that he's been here before. That he's walked into this town square before, thought about how he couldn't remember getting here, and then -- ...

The air shifts, and a maelstrom of blackness springs up in front of him, something shadowy striding out of it. Something huge and oily, like it was shaped out of darkness, with bright yellow eyes staring down at him.

He switches his keyblade to his right hand and holds it ahead of him, settling his left arm behind his back. It's a familiar stance, and as the monster's arm swings towards him, he flicks his keyblade, deflecting the arm with enough force that it -- and the body it's attached to -- careens across the square.

Heartless, his memory supplies as he gets a good look at the monster. A creature of darkness, formed around a corrupted heart.

The Heartless pulls itself to its feet, preparing to throw itself at him again. Eden taps the ground with his foot, familiarising himself with the shape of the cobblestones, how much force it would take to push himself off the ground and cut straight through the Heartless.

The calculations take a second, and then, as the Heartless barrels forward, he pushes off on one foot, speeding towards the Heartless, swinging his keyblade down -- ...

His back hits the cobblestones hard. For a moment, his mind stutters in confusion, as it tries to reconcile with what happened with the knowledge that that should have worked.

The Heartless takes a step closer, looming over him.

With a crack, the sky splits open, admitting a lightning bolt that crashes into the Heartless, searing layers of shadow away. The Heartless reels back, as a man in yellow robes and a mask like some kind of cat lands, raises his keyblade, and swings it, incinerating the Heartless in a wave of electricity.

Eden pulls himself to his feet, leaning on his keyblade. The yellow-robed man turns, just enough to give him a sidelong look, but doesn't say anything.

“Well, I think that’s enough for starters,” something says. Eden recognises the voice from his dream, and turns to see a small kitten staring up at him. “But, uh. This may be tougher than I thought.”
arkadia: (Symbol)
Long ago, in the age of fairytales, there was a Master of Masters, a man who was possessed of an all-seeing eye that could look into the future. Using this eye, he wrote a Book of Prophecies, and set about the task of guarding and studying Kingdom Hearts, the source of all light.

Knowing that he would one day disappear from the world, the Master of Masters took six apprentices, granting each of them a Keyblade and a name. To five of these apprentices, he gave a copy of his Book of Prophecy, and the last he sent away, never to return to the Master’s town.


Ira, Apprentice of the Unicorn, finds his Master on the cliff overlooking Daybreak Town. His hands are clasped behind his back, and although Ira’s sure he made no sound as he approached, the Master notices him anyway.

His head turns to one side, and Ira finds himself looking at the shadows inside the Master’s hood.

“So,” the Master says, cheerfully. “Did you look through the Book?”

“Yes,” Ira says. “But I’m still -- analysing it.”

The Master gives a half laugh, turning. “Wow. No quick skim for you, huh?”

Ira can’t tell if the Master’s making a joke at his expense or not, but he feels suddenly ashamed anyway, as if he should have been as carefree about it as Ava, or as quick to see all the nuances in the Master’s strange, meandering writing style as Gula or Invi.

“I just -- like to be thorough,” he says, lamely. “But Master, is what it says in the last passage true?”

“Oh, that?” The Master sounds like he’d forgotten all about it. “Bummer, huh?”

“Y-Yes.”

“By the way,” the Master chirps, bright as anything. “If I should disappear one day, I’m counting on you to keep the others calm, ‘kay?”

He sits down on the grass, watching the town again, as Ira struggles for words. “Disappear?”

“Vanish? Dim? Fade?” The Master waggles his fingers in a vague motion that Ira doesn’t quite understand. “Ah, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just hypothetical talk.”

Ira frowns under his mask. “Okay.”

“This world is full of light,” the Master says, tone suddenly serious. “It’s a world comprised of many smaller worlds, all connected, stretching far as the eye can see.”

As Ira watches, the Master plucks up a ball of dandelion seeds, spinning it about between his fingers.

“One great light protects us all throughout this vast land. All worlds share one light. One fate.”

“I take it you’re talking about Kingdom Hearts?”

“Right on the munny! People believe that the light that is Kingdom Hearts will be here forever, but if it were to disappear,” the Master snaps the dandelion’s stalk, “darkness would envelop the world.”

“I understand,” Ira says. “That’s why you gave us these keyblades. With these, we can spread the teachings of light, and we can protect Kingdom Hearts from the darkness.”

“No, they’re not for protecting Kingdom Hearts. You’ve read the final passage in your Books, right? ‘On that fated land, a great war shall transpire. Darkness will prevail, and the light expire.’”

“Isn’t it our duty to prevent this war from taking place?”

The Master hops to his feet, stretching out his shoulders. “Nah, not -- not possible. You really think you can change the future? We have to think about what happens after.”

“But -- what about the ones who are already here? And the ones who will be here when the darkness comes? Are we to abandon them?”

The Master laughs, meandering past Ira. “Aw, c’mon. You really think the world can be saved by just seven people?” His voice is mocking, as if the very idea is just absurd.

“We could gather more people!” Ira ventures. “With enough keyblade wielders, we could -- …”

“We-e-ell, if you want to give it a shot,” the Master says, and Ira can’t shake the feeling he’s being mocked again.

“I do.”

“Alright!” The Master chirps. “Have fun with that!”


---


“So, I’ll need you to observe the others. Easy-peasy,” the Master chirps, clapping a hand onto Invi’s shoulder.

A Moogle had come to call Invi, Apprentice of the Snake, up to the Master’s study only a few days after Ira had announced that he would be forming Unions of keybearers, whole armies of keyblade-wielding warriors, with the Master’s blessing.

(Or, Invi noted once Ira had told her the whole story, ‘blessing.’)

Truth be told, she hadn’t been sure what to make of Ira’s proposal. But the Master had named him their new leader.

“Don’t be afraid to talk up!” The Master continues. “Even though I say ‘observe,’ you’ll need to be the mediator. Make sure people get along.”

“I understand,” Invi says. “But without you or Luxu, to form and maintain our own Unions is -- it’s a little unnerving.”

“C’mon, lighten up a little!” The Master chirps. “Maybe I’ll never disappear. Or …” He claps one hand to his chest, in an overwrought performance of grief. “Do you … want me to go?”

“No! Of course not!”

“I was just kidding.”

“O-Oh. I see.”

“Look,” the Master says. “I get that change can be hard for everyone. Bu-u-ut, things need to keep moving forward, and you need to keep up, or else you’ll just be left behind. All alone. Again.”

Invi has no idea what to say to that, but the Master’s voice is light and cheerful.

“So, now that you know what the future holds, Invi, what does your heart say? ‘May your heart be your guiding key!’ I say it all the time. You ultimately need to do what your heart feels is right.”

---


Aced, Apprentice of the Bear, treads cautiously into the empty study.

“Been here long?”

The Master’s voice from behind him makes him nearly jump out of his skin. The Master ambles past him, hands clasped behind his back. He walks, painfully slowly, until he reaches his chair to slump down into.

“So,” the Master says, “did you need something?”

Aced blinks. “Don’t tell me you forgot! You called me here!”

The Master laughs, shaking his head. “Relax, I didn’t forget, give me a little credit. I was, er, testing you.” He clears his throat. “Now then: You’re going to be Ira’s right-hand man.”

Aced blinks under his mask. “What?”

He hates, a little, that his voice betrays how disappointed he is.

“Whaaaat?” The Master swings his head about, regarding Aced from within the shadows of his black coat. “Did … did you want to be the leader?”

He’s mocking him. Aced knows the Master is mocking him, and all he can do is feel angry and ashamed and wonder exactly how he disappointed the Master so much that it would be so ridiculous that he’d want to lead.

“N-No! I mean, if you had asked me to be the leader, well, that would be a different story, but I wasn’t trying …”

“You really want to be the leader, huh?” The Master asks, and Aced can just tell that he’s having the time of his life. Aced doesn’t have a chance to reply before the Master’s voice drops from ‘mocking’ into ‘sympathetic.’ “I know you want it, but enthusiasm alone isn’t enough. Any chump can go ‘you, here’s a promotion, good job!’ but that won’t make you a great leader.”

“I agree!” Aced finds himself saying, desperately. “Ira is … is definitely the most worthy … among us …” He finds himself trailing off at the end.

“Awesome! That’s settled, then.”

“Wait, I agreed that he’s worthy, but why do we need a new leader? Are you going to stop teaching us?”

The Master goes still and quiet for a moment. Then, gravely: “Well, I might disappear one day.”

Aced just stares at him.

The Master pauses, then clears his throat irritably. “Well, I might disappear one -- …”

“Disappear?! Why?! Where?!”

“Speak up sooner if you’re listening,” the Master whines. “That was embarrassing for me!”

He sulks for a moment. “In any case, you need to look out for Ira. It might not be what you hoped for, but just remember it’s the most important role, capisce?”

“Huh?”

“Shall I elaborate? Making Ira the leader is all good, but some time later you might think ‘awwww, Ira’s terrible at this!’” Aced can’t help but note that the Master’s impression of him is high-pitched and whiny. “In which case, you might have to step up. Who knows? Your leadership might be just what everybody needs.”

---


Gula, Apprentice of the Leopard, enters to find the Master reading his own Book, making thoughtful, enthusiastic noises.

“Hmm, yes, I see, I see, good …”

“... Master? Should I came back later?”

“Sure.”

Gula is turning to leave when the Master waves a hand at him.

“No, no, no, no, stay, stay. Now here it is …” He tears a page out from the middle of the book and rises, holding it out. “Go on. Read it.”

Gula skimreads it, blinking. “This is from the Book of Prophecies, but -- …”

“Yep. It’s a page none of the others have. And what’s written there is your role: You must find the traitor that lurks among you, and stop them before it’s too late, and in order to help you find the traitor -- …”

“I get it!” Gula says, excitably. “That’s why you gave us all different roles. If anyone deviates from the job they’re given, we can easily conclude that they’re the traitor.”

“Way to steal my thunder, show-off!” The Master teases. His voice goes from joking to sulky in a split second. “It’s not fair. My plan was supposed to blow your mind with its grandeur! Your jaw should have hit the floor at its sheer genius!”

“... Sorry? But was my logic flawed?”

The Master sighs. “No, you’re right. Just remember: Even though there is a traitor, act normal and keep focused. Trust nobody but yourself.”

Beat.

“‘Kay, you have fun with that!” The Master adds.

---


Ava, Apprentice of the Fox, tries to meet the Master’s gaze. The fact that she can’t see his eyes makes that -- difficult.

“What’s written in the Book is going to happen,” the Master says. “The entire world will be lost to darkness. You might be our only hope.”

“But what can I do?” Ava asks.

The Master approaches, looming over her, and slowly settles one hand onto her head. Softly: “Don’t get involved in any battles. Forget the notion of Unions. Find keybearers and then, like the seeds of a dandelion, let them fly to another world. They will keep the light alive.”

“You really think I’m the right person for this?” Ava asks.

“Ava,” the Master says, gently. “You’re the only person for this.”

---


Luxu, Apprentice of the Goat, is the last of the Foretellers to visit the Master.

“So,” the Master says before even greeting him. “That makes you lucky number seven.”

“Er.”

“What? You six, plus me, is seven. Wait, wait, don’t tell me that I don’t count,” the Master says, suddenly all distress. He calms quickly, hopping to his feet, and holds out a hand, summoning a keyblade into it: Black and grey, with a goat’s head carved into the pommel, and a blue eye on one end. “Here.”

Luxu takes it, turning it about in his hand. The eye is moving. “... Gazing Eye?”

“That’s not its name,” the Master says, wryly. “Actually, it doesn’t have one. No name.”

Luxu stares at the keyblade. It’s not so different from those the other apprentices were given, but the Master had always said he wasn’t ready for one. “No Name.”

“Well, ‘gazing’ or not, it does have an eye in it. My eye, to be exact.”

Luxu recoils instinctively.

The Master immediately launches into a performance of anger. “Oh, you think that’s gross, huh?!”

“N-No! Of course not!” Luxu lies.

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” the Master says, shrugging. “Anyway, ‘bout your role. You need to pass that keyblade down to an apprentice, and him to his, so that my eye can see into the future.”

“So the Book of Prophecies …”

“Bingo! The fact that it exists means you’ve found a worthy apprentice, passed down that handsome keyblade, and fulfilled your role! Congratulations!”

The Master starts applauding so hard that his chair nearly falls over, canting his head to peer at Luxu as he does so.

“What’s the matter?” He asks eventually. “You did a fantastic job! At least smile a little!”

“But I haven’t done anything yet.”

The Master laughs. “Fair point. You’d better get started. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go it alone, no Book of Prophecies for you. I can’t have you causing any temporal paradoxes.”

“What about the others?”

“Who cares? For now, you, that keyblade, and this box,” the Master jumps to his feet, pulling a heavy box with twenty locks from under a table, “need to stay out of sight.”

“What’s in it?”

“It’s a secret! But, here’s the great bit: You can never, ever open it.”

Luxu rolls his eyes. “Great, now I really want to know.”

“You do, huh? Okay, I’ll indulge you. But you have to promise not to open it.”

The Master beckons Luxu closer, then leans down, whispering into his ear. Luxu feels his stomach drop, and something heavy tighten in his chest, and for a moment, he doubts whether he heard the Master right.

“What? Why?”

“You’ll see.
arkadia: (Default)
“Six o’clock, sixty-four degrees vertical,” Chirithy says while they’re hunting for textbooks in the cavernous depths of the Ursus Union Library, before vanishing into smoke.

Eden summons his keyblade and turns, blocking the downwards strike of a boy with dark brown hair and a wide grin. He can feel as soon as the keyblades hit that there’s no intent to harm behind the blow. He lets his own intent dim, adjusting from cut to bruise.

There’s a girl screaming behind him, keyblade raised as she rushes him. Although he knows he hasn’t been taught it in the last week, Eden knows what to do, as if an instruction manual is being flipped open in his mind. He relaxes his grip on his keyblade just enough to bring the boy ahead of him forward, then grabs him by the front of his t-shirt (‘GO BEARS’ it says in yellow capital letters) and swings him towards the girl.

There’s a crashing noise (“Be quiet in the library, kupo,” the librarian drones). Chirithy reappears on top of a bookshelf, which Eden takes to mean that the peril-of-sorts has passed. Another Chirithy appears on another bookshelf, then five more in rapid succession, each of them identical.

“Please keep your keybearer under control, Chirithy,” one Chirithy says.

“I do try,” the other Chirithy replies, in the exact same smooth purr. “He’s what you would term a wild child. He meant no harm.”

“Disgraceful,” another says.

“That’s unfair. There is value in - …”

As the seven devolve into an argument, the young man sits up, rubbing his head, then shuffling aside to let a rather short girl with short hair and a mole on one cheek up. “You’re not too bad. Hey, Orsina! New guy’s okay!”

“I know, I have access to his records,” says another newcomer, a young woman with black hair tied back severely. She thrusts out a hand. “Orsina, leader of Team Garuda. We received the alert on our Texts that you were due to complete the team. Obviously, we can refuse the addition.”

Eden ignores the handshake, lifting his arm towards the bookshelf instead. His Chirithy - he hopes it’s his, anyway - hops down, running along his arm to settle on his shoulder, tail curled around his neck. “Where are the rest of you? Are they planning a noisy sneak attack when I enter the cafeteria?”

Orsina lifts an eyebrow. “Uzumati, Mecho and Bernat are currently on a Heartless Subjugation mission in the Dwarf Woodlands. You’ll meet them later. This is Arto.”
“Yo, bro.”

“And Kuma.”

“H-hi! It’s very nice to meet you and - …”

“You tried to hit me with a key, this isn’t a nice meeting,” Eden replies sharply. The girl takes a moment to process this before deciding to look ashamed. Now you look outwardly approving but also like you’re considering saying something encouraging, the instruction manual in Eden’s head supplies, and Eden follows it.

“Get your textbooks. We’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping,” Orsina says.

---


It’s not difficult to get a handle on what the rest of Team Garuda are like, Eden finds once they’re all gathered in the dormitory.

Orsina is sharp and severe, and ruthlessly efficient. She seems to always have her Text in hand, organising spreadsheets and data. Uzumati, who Eden thinks is her second-in-command, is quiet and gentle. Arto, Bernat and Mecho spend most of their time together, and seem to take up the most space, being a whirlwind of mischief and chaos between them. Kuma doesn’t seem to want to interact with the group much.

Orsina and Uzumati are insistent about going through the schedules for the week. Classes on the mornings of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Seven mandatory missions per week per team - Orsina has a whole algorithm set up for the division of labour on that. Each of them cook once a week (Eden will be taking Sundays) and clean once a week (Eden will be on Tuesdays).

They also show Eden the rankings. He’s a little surprised to see Ursus at the very bottom of the rankings, with a significant gap between them and Leopardos in fourth place. With Vulpeus in third and Unicornis in second, the top place is taken by Anguis - and from the looks of it, has been for weeks.

“Team Cagnazzo is the top-ranked team in Anguis,” Orsina says. “You’re likely to encounter them. They like to sabotage other teams, and they just gained their last member yesterday.”

“Best stay away from them,” Arto adds, rushing past. “They’re pretty ruthless. Some of them are kinda weird too, you know? I mean, doesn’t Kuja get cold?”

“Get some sleep,” Uzumati says. “Tomorrow, after classes, we’re taking you on your first mission.”

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Eden Llyx

May 2017

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