An old work unearthed: The Unmeant Ballad

I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance lately. Ever since the first game, I have been a diehard KH fan – I’ve played every part of the series released in europe (not counting remakes/remixes) and finished every one except Chain of Memories (did not like the combat system) and Dream Drop Distance (currently working on it).

This is the first chapter of a Fanfiction I wrote right after I finished playing my favourite part of the series – Birth by Sleep (Go Aqua, GO!). It (the chapter) really isn’t that good, but I’m kinda feeling the Nostalgia right now, so I’ll release it. So, without further ado, the first (and only) chapter of:

Kingdom Hearts: The Unmeant Ballad

Chapter 0: Out of the Void/Awakening!

An empty world, devoid of anything at all, floated through the Realm in Between. Not a part of Light nor Darkness, it had no meaning, no destiny, neither a heart nor a body. If one were to enter it, he would find himself floating in a void. There was neither some kind of floor nor air or anything. Only the endless starry sky, surrounding one in all directions. As it lacked a heart, it did not even cast a star on another sky.

In this vast nothingness, a tiny spark appeared out of the void. It shined brightly and grew, becoming bigger and bigger, until it was as big as a childs playball. At that moment, a streak of darkness appeared within it and whirled around inside it, growing until the ball was half light and half darkness. They swirled around, forming into different shapes, but never mixing and ever expanding. Then, as the ball reached the size to contain a human, it stopped expanding. The light and darkness inside it intensified their movement, as if their battle was growing more and more heated…

* * *

For a moment, he caught a glimpse of an endless starry sky – then he plunged head-on into the water. He struggled, knowing that he should be unable to breathe, but as he fell down into the abyss of darkness, he found that he could actually breathe. When he realized that fact, his fall slowed down and he could see some kind of light glowing beneath him. It grew until he could see that it originated from a circular… platform, or at least he thought it was one. As he came closer however, he made out that he was descending towards some kind of circular tower made out of light. The bottom of the tower could not be seem, it seemed to reach infinitely down into the darkness. The top was even, presenting a smooth platform to stand upon. The platform itself looked more like the window of a church – tiles of different colors adorned it and created the image of a dark skinned, blond haired youth, wearing nothing but pitch black trousers and a snow white sash which extended to some kind of half-skirt reaching down to his ankles. He also wielded a strange key-shaped sword. His eyes were closed and he seemed to sleep. The rest of the tiles were bland, as if they had yet to be given a color.

* * *

When he was so close to the picture of the youth that he feared he would crash into it, he suddenly came to a complete halt and turned around, so that his bare feet touched the ground. During the movement he saw that he was wearing the exact same clothes as the youth in the picture – furthermore, he also had the same dark, tanned skin. Could he be the youth in the picture? He had to make sure. Thus he reached up to his head, grabbed a few strands of his shoulder-length hair and moved them so he could see them – they were light blond. He was that youth in the picture! And that meant he was – who was he? He did not know who he was! “Who am I?”, he shouted his question into the darkness surrounding him.

A brand new heart, a voice answered. He flinched and turned around, for it had sounded like it came from behind himself.

Fear not, it added. The youth realized that the voice did not seem to have a definite source, but rather resounding like an echo around him. It was a deep, yet not explicitly masculine voice. “Who are you? And what do you mean, I’m “a brand new heart”?”, he asked.

Who I am is not important. What is important is that we find out who you are, for if you do not find your name in short time, the void will swallow your very existence. Your other questions are not to be answered by me. Hurry now! “What do I have to do?”, the youth asked.

This is the center of your heart – the very core of your being. The gateway to your name is right… here. A door, shaped like a stylized heart, appeared on the other end of the platform. It was a bit taller than himself and was of a golden color. There was no knob to open it with. At the same time the platform began to slowly disintegrate, bits and pieces falling off. It was a slow process, yet undeniably fatal if not stopped.

You don’t have much time. Find your Heart’s Key and open the door, or vanish into oblivion! The Nameless turned around raising his hands: “But what do I have to do! I do not know anything!”

Fear not! All you need to know is already inside you! Look at yourself! With this, the mysterious voice vanished. He would never hear it again.

A few minutes later, the nameless youth still did not know what to do. He was standing at the center of the platform, looking at the door, his arms positioned in a way that was to become a trademark of his whenever he thought about something: his right arm bent across his chest, supporting the left arm’s elbow as his left cheek rested on the latter’s closed fist.

The platform was continuing to fall apart and now the destruction was slowly withering away his sleeping self. Just what am I supposed to do? Look at myself? Well, I can do that, he thought, lowering his head and seeing his bare chest, the white sash, the black pants and his own bare feet. Nothing there that could help me. He turned around, looking away from the door and to his sleeping self – it’s back was half gone and soon his arm holding the strange weapon would vanish as well. It was creepy watching himself falling apart, even if it was only a picture of his. Especially since it was probably foreshadowing what awaited him. My picture, he said in his head. “My picture!”, he said as an idea was starting to form inside his head. His picture. It was himself and he could look at it! “Now quick, how can it help me?!” Looking at it, he could only see one difference – the strange, key-shaped weapon in his hand. “A key? You need a key to open a door! So where do I get this key?”, he said out loud. He did not have anything like that! “Alright, calm down. There has to be a way to get that. – Let’s see, this is my heart, right? Which means that this is not the – how do you call it – the real world.” From the scraps and pieces of knowledge he had he slowly formed a theory. “If this is not the real world, but rather inside my heart, then whatever I think should happen!” With this thought in mind, he reached out with his hand and imagined the key-shaped sword appearing in his hand – and in a flash of light, exactly that happened! Holding back his urge to cry out in joy, he pointed it at the door. A tiny beam of light connected the sword-tip and the keyhole, which shined brightly. With a quick flash, the light disappeared and the door opened.

* * *

The platform was now whole again, albeit still mostly bland. The youth was standing at it’s center, keyblade – he knew now that it was called a keyblade – and looking upwards. “My name is Ignis!”, he shouted. Then he looked at his nondescript keyblade – it literary looked like nothing but a ragged, copper-colored and oversized key. “But I still do not know your name”, he continued. He did not, however, have time to ponder about it, for the light emanating from the piller intensified, until it blanked out everything else.

* * *

The empty world was now no longer empty. Not only was there still the ball floating at it’s center, but it was also filled with what seemed to be pure water. Half of the world was filled by it.

The ball itself had undergone a transformation as well. Light and Darkness had finally merged, making the ball uniformly gray – but it was not a dull, lifeless gray, but rather the gray of balance, a gray that said: “I’m at peace! I bring life!” It seemed to pulsate and then it floated upwards, until it stood a meter above the water. Cracks appeared on it and after a few seconds, it burst apart, leaving Ignis behind.

He stood there, on the water, and took his surroundings in. “Where am I now? This must be the real world, right?”, he said, looking downwards – he was standing on the water, yet he did not submerge, nor get wet. It seemed like the surface of the water formed a solid floor. Then he looked up – there was no sun in this world, so he could see the stars. “What is going on here?”, he tried to ask, but he was cut short when a whirl of darkness appeared a few meters ahead. A black goo flowed out of it and gathered itself on the surface of the water. Yellow, lifeless eyes appeared within the goo and then it formed into seven small, cuddly figures, looking like children, or rather children-sized puppets of darkness.

Beware!, a voice shouted in his head. “What? Who are you?”, he asked. The voice answered: No time for explanations. Those are Heartless, they’ve come to steal your heart! You must defeat them with your keyblade, hurry! He wanted to ask her what she was talking about, but was cut short when one of the Heartless lunged at him. He instinctively jumped to the side, evading the attack, but another one of the Heartless attacked at the same time. However, since he had lunged to the side and the heartless was coming from his right, a simple twist in midair allowed him to cut diagonally through the little Heartless, destroying it. He fell to the floor, but to his surprise it gave in, catching him like a pillow and then solidifying again so he could easily stand up. “What’s going on?”, he asked into the air and the voice in his head answered while the Heartless reformed into a loose group, more vigilant now after their kin’s death. This world cannot cause harm to you – I’ll explain later why. Now be careful! Those are just Shadows, they are pretty much on the bottom of the Heartless food chain, but they can still take down a newbie like you if the gang up on you! Try to take them down one by one and always keep them in your field of sight! Ignis grunted an approval and then went on the offensive just as a three of the remaining six Shadows melted into thin pools, looking exactly like their namesakes. They immediately circled in on him and he had to run a half circle towards the advancing group of still solid Shadows in order to avoid being attacked from all sides. When they were only a few steps away from him and the melted ones were still five steps behind him, he speed up, taking the last two steps with one lunge, closing in on the foremost Shadow and cutting him in half with a vertical strike that carried all his weight. The Heartless disappeared into nothing just as the other two were about to attack him. He could not raise his blade fast enough, so he just let himself fall forward just as they jumped towards him. They sailed above him, but one of them managed to draw his claws across Ignis’ back. He let out an anguished scream – this was the first time he had felt pain in his life!

Once again he crashed into the floor, getting caught by it. With some effort he managed to stand up, every movement sending new jolts of pain through his back..

He turned around, just in time to block a jumping attack from two of the melted Heartless which had taken solid form again and lunged at him. Meanwhile, the third of the melted ones as well as the two he had evaded and who had melted into flat shadows as well tried to encircle him. While he could block the attack of the Heartless that lunged at him, the impact of the attack was enough to throw him right back to the ground. The two of them fell on top of him, but he managed to twist his keyblade around so that one of them impaled itself on it and burst into fading streaks of darkness. The other one hit the handle of the blade and rolled down to his right, grabbing his arm and holding it down while the three melted ones solidified again and lunged at him to get him while he was still on the floor. He could not see any way out when the voice in his head shouted: Here, use this! Suddenly, he felt something awaken within him, while the knowledge for a spell appeared within his mind. Using the knowledge, he cast the most basic of fire spells – but without restraint, creating an expanding, spinning sphere of fire that incinerated the remaining Heartless. The flames were of a magnificent crimson color, swirling around him and growing while warming, but not burning him. For a moment he lost himself into the breathtaking view he had of the flames, the countless forms he could see, the infinite scales of red he witnessed, but then the sphere stopped growing and dispersed, leaving behind millions of sparks, which soon disappeared as well.

Ignis lay there on the water of the world, still mesmerized by the flames, when the pain in his back brought him back to reality. “Aaaah!”, he screamed, his back searing in pain. Not only was this the first time he felt pain, it was also an enormous amount of pain which would have brought even an experienced warrior to his knees – for the practically newborn Ignis it was almost too much to handle.

But then something unexpected happened. The – let us call it an ocean for purposes of simplicity – ocean around him had fallen into unrest at the same time the pain had returned to him and now the water rose high in waves around him. Then, one of the waves stopped right in front if him, spreading out and creating a circular wall of water around him. From this wall of water, several tentacles made of clear water emerged, approaching him, turning him on his back and touching the three long wounds on his back. The pain vanished almost instantly, instead being replaced by a warm, soothing feeling.

Now that the pain was gone he realized how tired he was – he had, after all, unlocked the gateway to his own heart, obtained a keyblade and fought seven Heartless, all within the very first hour of his existence. Now he only wanted to sleep – he slowly closed his eyes. At the same time he heard the strange voice in his head again. This time, he recognized it as that of a woman. She was singing this time – a lullaby. He fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

* * *

He did not know how long he had slept, but he knew that it had done him well. Still, he had to wake up, if only to thank the woman behind the voice for saving his life. Thus he opened his eyes and saw that he was still lying on the surface on the once more calm ocean. He slowly turned around on his healed back – he did not feel any pain from it – and sat up. It was about time! You slept for hours!, the female voice resounded inside his head, sounding a bit annoyed. “Good morning”, he greeted her, ignoring her remark. After a second, she replied: “Well, ‘morning.” Not knowing where to look, he just looked up towards the stars above him – there still was no other light there. “Thank you for your help. Especially the spell. I would be dead without it”, he said and then added: “Nice lullaby, by the way.” He heard her giggle – it sounded quite childish, perhaps she was younger than he had thought – and then she said: Don’t mention it. I did it both for you and me, ’cause I need your help. Now he was curious. “I would love to help you – not only because you saved me, as I might add – but I would like to ask you a few questions first – you know, I am pretty new, I do not really know much”, he said. Of course. What do you want to ask?

“Well, names first. I am Ignis. Who are you?” It took her a few seconds to answer: I can’t tell you my real name – at least not yet. Don’t ask why, I just can’t tell you yet. Just call me Alexis for now.

“Alright. Where are you? Why can I hear, but not see you?” This had bothered him the most up until now. I’m not where you are – I’m in a whole different world! You can hear me because I am contacting you telepathically. “Wait, a different world?! You mean there are more worlds then this?”, he asked bewildered – the little knowledge in his head did not contain any such information. You’re looking at the stars now, right? Well, every single star in the sky is another world. And I’m in one of them, she explained. Every world has a heart. And that hearts’ light shines through it’s boundaries and can be seen as a star on the sky of other worlds.

“Alright. Let us leave this topic for later. What were those things which attacked me? The ‘Heartless’?” This time, the voice hesitated for a moment, as if to think her answer over. Tricky topic there. The Heartless are like, well, the second or third-worst thing around. You see, when a heart gets filled up with darkness – either artificially or naturally – then the darkness can sometimes rip it out of it’s body. The heart is consumed by the darkness, which takes on physical form and yearns to consume other hearts in order to create more Heartless. But what they yearn for the most are the hearts of Keyblade-wielders and of Worlds. “So – they are coming after me because I have this?”, he asked, looking at his keyblade. Among other reasons, yes. “Among others?” Weeell, I’ll explain things later – I don’t have much time left and I really need your help, like, fast, she answered. “Alright. What do I have to do?”

I need you to come to another world and destroy something that keeps making me weaker. First, you need some protection if you’re going to travel between worlds. The darkness in the lanes in between would otherwise wither away at your heart, she explained. Suddenly, the image of a black cloak with a silvern zipper and some silver decorations appeared within his mind, as well as a pair of black boots and gloves. Imagine yourself wearing those, she said. He did so and within a second they appeared on his body. “How did I do that?!”, he asked. According to his knowledge, this should not be possible. No time! Take your keyblade and concentrate on opening a door out of this world! You will find yourself on lanes of darkness – use those to travel to this- Something like the coordinates for a specific world appeared within his mind, although he did not understand them yet – world where you will find a giant cave. In the second level, there is a hexagonal crystal, floating above a podest. Destroy… it… With that, he voice disappeared and Ignis was, once more, alone.

What has got to be done, should be done – I am on my way, Alexis, he thought, raising his hand and pointed the Keyblade into the air in front of him. The golden outline of a keyhole appeared in the air and then a light emanated from his Keyblade’s tip into it. The keyhole was filled up with golden light and then an oval portal made of light appeared. Pulling the hood of his cloak over his head and making his Keyblade disappear in a flash of light, he walked through it and left the once empty world. The door closed behind him.

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