"All the pieces lie where they fell
Where they wait for him."
As the gang entered the old mansion, they could tell that things hadn't changed from the inside either.
"So, I guess we better explore," Sora said; looking around.
"Yeah," Donald and Goofy said; with them looking around as well.
"Okay then, I'll check the upstairs, while you guys can check the downstairs," Sora said turning to them.
"Okay, and if we find anything, we'll meet back here," Goofy said.
"Okay," Sora said.
With everything settled, Donald and Goofy left, while Sora took the stairs. It took him a minute, but as Sora went into a room, he was instantly welcomed by the rays of sunlight. They were bursting through the white curtains of the window. Because of this, Sora squint his eyes, but pretty soon, his eyes adjusted; revealing that he was in a white room.
As Sora walked in and closed the door behind him, he started looking around for something, he didn't exactly know what it was he had to find, but, he knew it had to be something…something that would help him remember.
As Sora kept examining the room, his attention was more drawn to the pictures on the walls. He admit he had seen them before, since he had been in Twilight Town already, but now, after really looking at them, it feels like if Sora was seeing the drawings for the first time.
Each picture represented a memory, from Sora battling Riku in Hollow Bastion, to Sora being friends with Donald and Goofy, to Kairi holding a Paopu fruit, and many more.
Without even realizing it, a small smile appeared on Sora's face.
"I wonder who drew these…"
As silence continued to fill the room, wind started to pick up and move the curtains. Sora, who was looking at the pictures, took note of this and slowly walked towards the window.
"That's strange, how are the curtains moving," Sora said examining at the window.
Though as he was looking, Sora couldn't help himself, but turn his attention to the sunset. In the sight of seeing it, it started to make Sora feel nostalgic, after all, he had seen sunsets before back home, or, was it because of something else?
Sora couldn't really describe the feeling, but, after what it seemed like forever; a different feeling suddenly struck him. He sensed that something or, someone was with him. Jumping the gun, Sora thought it must have been the shadow he sensed earlier, but, as soon as he turned to see, he saw something unexpected.
"Wha…who…are you?" Sora said to the person before him.
The young girl just stood where she was in silence; merely holding her hands together. The way she was looking down, and her blue eyes trailing off; it gave off a sense that she was sad…or maybe even ashamed to face Sora. After all, to the girl, Sora was her reminder of the way she abused her power, and regretted it ever since.
"Wait…are you…" Sora said; walking closer to the girl.
Since he was getting closer, the girl forced herself to make eye-contact.
"Are you….Naminé?" Sora asked.
The girl then nodded her head, "Yes, I'm surprised you were able to remember."
Sora then let out a slight chuckle, "Well, I'm not going to lie. I didn't at first, but…then something made me remember."
"Huh, funny how we remember things in the weirdest times…" Naminé said.
"Yeah," Sora agreed, "But wait…how can you be here. Aren't you with Kairi?" he asked puzzled.
"Yes, I'm with her, but that doesn't stop me from seeing you in spirit.
It's like Kairi said, as long as you have the lucky charm, she's always with you.
Like I'm always with you, after all, we're the same person," Naminé said smiling.
"Okay, I guess that makes sense," Sora said thinking it over.
"Anyway, the reason I'm here Sora, is to help you remember," Naminé continued.
"What do you mean?" Sora asked.
"About Castle Oblivion," Naminé said, "You remember me, but not the place?"
Sora's eyes then trailed off to the ground, looking like if the answer was there; hoping to make him remember, but sadly, nothing came to mind. Sora then turned his attention back to Naminé.
"No, it's like…I have this feeling that I been there before, but for some reason, I can't seem to remember. And…I need to know where it is so I could find Ven," Sora said sadly.
"Ven," Naminé uttered softly, under her breath, "I'm not familiar with that name, but…I'm pretty sure he holds a special connection to you like the rest of us," she continued.
"Yeah," Sora plainly said.
Then without another word, Naminé walked a little closer to Sora, and rested one of her fingers over his chest.
"Take a breath, and call out to that piece of memory you have deep in your heart Sora. You'll soon find what you're looking for," Naminé said calmly.
Silence quickly filled the air, as Sora took a deep breath; trying to clear his mind. As he finally managed, Sora then slowly closed his eyes, automatically drifting deeper into his thoughts.
There was nothing but darkness, but as Sora tried his best to break through the barrier, a light started to shine; engulfing the place. At this rate, Sora started to remember…being in the castle, all the events that happened, and even the false memories that Naminé had made for him. Not only did Sora remember the events, but also the frustration, the sadness, and…even the hopefulness when he made a promise to her.
"All of this may have started out with a lie, but I really am glad that I can meet you Sora," Naminé said.
"Yeah, me too.
When I finally found you, and even when I remembered your name…I was happy.
The way I felt then-that was no lie," Sora responded back.
Before saying another word, Naminé gave a smile.
But Sora shook his head; he had a feeling that this wasn't going to be their last meeting.
"No, not goodbye. When I wake up, I'll find you. And then, there will be no lies. We're gonna be friends for real.
Promise me…Naminé," he said walking up to her.
"You're going to forget making that promise," Naminé said sadly.
"If the chain of memories comes apart, the links will still be there, right?
So the memory of our promise will always be inside me somewhere. I'm sure of it," Sora responded back.
"Yeah, okay, it's a promise," Naminé said smiling.
The last thing that was shown, was when the two extended out their fingers, making the pinky promise.
End of Flash Back
Sora then opened his eyes, finding that Naminé was still in front of him.
"Now…now I know why I had this feeling that I needed to thank her," Sora said in his mind; looking at her.
"And…our promise…." he continued.
Then, without a single word, Sora suddenly took Naminé's hands; holding them gently.
"I remember…" Sora said.
"I…remember everything," he continued.
Silence quickly filled the air, but Sora spoke again; breaking it.
"Naminé, now that you're here, there's something I've been meaning to tell you, once when this was all over," he said looking at her.
Naminé was still quiet; she didn't really know what Sora could say to her. But, pretty soon, she eventually got her answer.
Sora then gave a warm cheery smile, "Thank you. Thank you for everything that you did for me and my friends."
And...as happy as Naminé would be, she still couldn't shake the feeling of guilt for what she had done to Sora from the beginning. If she didn't mess with his memories from the start, there wouldn't have been a need for her to fix Sora's memories, or even the act of him thanking her for that matter.
But, in the end, Naminé couldn't deny the goodness in Sora's heart. So a smile appeared on her face; showing happiness, yet at the same time, it looked like if she wanted to cry as well.
"You're welcome," she said happily.
Then Naminé got out of Sora's grip, "Now go, the others are waiting."
"Including me..." Naminé finished in her mind.
And with that last remark, Naminé walk back slowly, still having her eyes on Sora. Though as she did this, she started to fade away from existence. As much as Sora didn't want her to go, he still forced out a smile. After all, it's never a good-bye, no matter what happens, Sora will always keep his friends close to his heart; having the ability to never forget them.
As Naminé finally vanished, Sora then noticed the sketchbook that was on the table. With already seeing the rest of the drawings on the walls, Sora picked up the sketchbook; wanting to see what the picture could be. To Sora's surprise, it was a another drawing of himself; though what made this drawing different, was the fact that it looked like it was recently done.
The drawing had the colors yellow, orange, and red, creating a beautiful sunset. Along with blue, bringing out the ocean. As this was the background, the Sora in the drawing was sitting down on the Paopu fruit tree, gazing at the horizon; getting ready for what's to come.
"Hmm, I wonder why I'd never seen this drawing before," Sora said; putting it back on the table.
After thinking about it for a second, Sora then started walking to the door.
"It was probably the last drawing Naminé did, before she left this place.
Well, I guess I found what I was looking for...thanks to her.
I better go meet with Donald and Goofy, just to see what they found."
And with that said, Sora opened the door; leaving the room. As he closed the door and walked down the stairs, he saw that Donald and Goofy were already waiting for him. So as he walked up to them, he asked what they found. It was quiet, while Donald and Goofy exchanged glances, but then Goofy spoke.
"We couldn't find anything about Castle Oblivion...sorry Sora."
Then Sora smiled and waved his hand; showing its okay.
"You guys don't have to worry, I found what I needed," Sora said.
"Really, so...I guess that mysterious man was right then.
You have been there before," Donald said.
"Yeah, it took time, but...I remember now," Sora said smiling.
"And because of that, I'm driving the ship this time," he quickly added in.
"No way! You can give the directions instead," Donald said.
At this point Goofy knew where this was heading.
"Uh fellas, let's not start fighting now," Goofy added in.
"We're not fighting, we're just having a discussion," Donald said; having a hint of anger in his voice.
Sora then chuckled, "More like a loud discussion with that temper you have," he said playing.
Donald then made a face, but didn't say anything. After another second, Sora then gave a sigh.
"Fine you can drive."
"Though just remember Sora, we should be careful, we don't know if this mysterious guy is actually helping us, or if he's leading us into a trap," Goofy said to him.
"I know...don't worry," Sora said smiling.
"Next time I see him, and if he messes with me, I'll make sure he'll pay," Sora said in his mind.
At this rate, without even realizing it, the darkness within him was growing more rapidly.
"Okay, let's get going," Donald said.
And with that last remark, the gang headed out of the mansion, to the ship.
Things were still quiet between Ven and Vanitas after mentioning Sora's name. As Van was looking at the horizon, trying not to show concern for the boy; Ven started to have a strange feeling within him; like...like if something terrible was going to happen. The feeling of danger wasn't towards Ven himself, but to Sora instead. In this case, it was only natural for Ven to feel this way, since after being with Sora for so long, he could feel what Sora feels.
As silence continued to fill the air, Ven then put his hand over his chest. Within taking a deep breath, he started to feel an unwanted presence. Someone...or...something had invaded their world; their Sanctuary. In an instant, wind started to pick up; making Ven and Vanitas stand up.
"What's going on?" Vanitas asked.
But Ven didn't respond, he just stood where he was, frozen.
Then, as if pain was brought towards Ven's chest, his grip on his clothes tighten.
"The darkness..." Ven whispered faintly.
While it took a while for the gang to find the place, Sora, Donald, and Goofy finally made it to the mysterious Castle Oblivion.
"It surely has been a long time since I been in this place," Sora said; walking up to the entrance.
"And I never knew that Ven was here," he said in his mind, "Or, for the most part, knew who he was.
Hopefully when I find Ven and wake him up, Vanitas will some-how come back as well."
"You know, now that I'm seeing the castle, I think we've been here before," Donald said.
"Then...we should probably go in then," Sora said; not taking his eyes off the door.
"Okay," Goofy said.
As the gang entered the castle, little did they know, that someone was watching them the whole time. To no surprise, it revealed to be the black-coated figure that Sora meet earlier.
"Perfect, now all I have to do is follow them. With the key in the boy's hand, it will be easy to find the room," the man said; smiling under his hood.
"Pretty soon, it will be over."
The man then entered the castle, secretly following the gang. Meanwhile, as Sora was walking, he noticed that every hall look about the same, he didn't know if he was going in the right direction; in conclusion, anybody could easily get themselves lost, if they're not too careful. So with this in mind, Sora spoke.
"Hey, just so you guys know, we should stick together, so we won't get..." Sora said turning to his friends.
But then he noticed, they weren't there with him.
"Lost..." he finished with a sigh.
"Looks like I have to go back and look for them."
Though when Sora took one step back, the key-blade that he found on the island, magically appeared in his grasp. Sora then stopped and looked at the blade; he wondered why it appeared so suddenly.
Why did...this appear?
Could...could it mean that Ven is near?" Sora said to himself.
And within that moment, the key-blade started to glow; making Sora's eyes wide in amazement. At this point, Sora then started to walk in a different direction, taking a set of stairs. With the Key-blade in hand, it almost felt like its glow was guiding Sora; showing him the path to the chamber of Waking.
After feeling something horrible unraveling, Ven then suddenly collapsed to his knees; eyes still focused on the sandy ground before him.
"Ven, are you alright?
Ven?" Vanitas asked; looking down at him.
To Ven, it felt like the world was spinning, but when he heard Vanitas' voice, it made him snap out of his trance. But as Ven slowly turned to face Van, he looked at him in disbelief.
Knowing his other half far to well, Vanitas noticed the way Ventus was looking at him. He figured that Ven must have seen something...something absurd. At first Vanitas wondered what it was, but then after figuring it out quickly, the answer was obvious.
"So, you know?" Vanitas asked; though his tone strangely got darker.
Sora looked up, examining the door in front of him; he wondered...was this the right room. But as he gazed at the Key-blade in his hand, he figured it must be, since the blade was still giving a faint glow. As Sora returned his gaze to the door, he then slowly picked up the blade, getting ready to unlock it, but before he could acted, a voice startled him.
"So, you found it, I'm impressed," the hooded figure said.
Sora turned sharply; facing the man.
"You again!" Sora said angrily; pointing the key-blade at him.
"What are you doing here?" he continued.
The man was silent, but then he gave a slight chuckle and answered the question.
"I'm here for the same reason as you, I'm here for Ven."
Sora's eye's widen, "Ven?
What do you want with Ven?"
The man then chuckled again.
"Well, might as well tell you then.
I'm here for him, since he is the last piece that we need.
You see Sora, Ven's body is nothing than an empty shell, and because of that, it is perfect to Xehanort's desire.
Manipulating the vessel and bending it to our will, it would be easy; making Ven our last 13th member.
Though, we had our eyes on you originally, but there were...a few complications; even when Vanitas was in the picture," the man finished.
Hearing this, started to make Sora angry.
"I knew it. This was Xehanort's doing," Sora said in his mind.
"Well, if you want him..." Sora then stood in his fighting stance; gripping the Key-blade tightly.
"You're going to have to get through me first," he finished.
The hooded man then smiled; merely accepting Sora's challenge. Without another word, the man then picked up his hands, slowly removing the hood. As soon as Sora saw his face, he was a bit stunned, but he immediately snapped out of it; ready to fight.
The man...revealing himself to be Xehanort, or in this case, a younger version of him, looked at Sora with his dark amber eyes. Without a moment to spare, Xehanort then summoned his Ethereal Blades; ready to fight as well.
With much anger slowly building up inside him, Sora then charged and swung his Key-blade at Xehanort, only for it to be blocked by his own weapons. This was it, as Xehanort was studying Sora, he could feel the power; the influence Sora received from Vanitas.
"You're starting to sink deeper into the pit," Xehanort said in his mind amused.
Ven was frozen, he didn't know what to do, or...even know what to say. After all, Ven was giving Vanitas a second chance because of Sora, and since they're brothers, Ven was willing to trust Van. But now after knowing what was happening, Ven's trust dissolved into shame. Ven thought he should have known better...but no, forgiving Vanitas easily got the better of him.
"H-how could you..." Ven choked out.
"Even...even after he trusted you..."
With this situation, Vanitas tried as best as he could to keep calm.
"Ventus...it's not what you think.
Please just hear me out," Vanitas said; walking to Ven.
He then kneeled down, " I was just trying to-"
Vanitas was going to rest his hand on one of Ven's shoulders, but he was instantly cut off, while his hand got slapped away.
"NO!" Ven said sharply.
He then got up and back away a couple of steps.
"Don't come any closer to me," Ven continued.
Vanitas then got up, and continued to talk.
"Look Ven, I was trying to help the boy.
It never even crossed my mind to betray him and you.
I took this chance and didn't want to blow it."
Ven nonetheless shook his head.
"Well then, you just blew it," he said harshly.
"You blew it when you started to lead Sora into the path of darkness," he continued.
"Ven, he came to me for help, he-" though Vanitas was cut off again.
"No, I don't want to hear it, you don't care about him, and...you don't care about me.
The only person you care about is yourself."
Even if Ven didn't know it, those words hurt Vanitas since secretly, Van did care about Ven, but of course being the emotionless person he is, Vanitas just stared at his other half like he always does.
"I should have known you will never change, you will never be good, you will always be the monster that you are.
And whatever that happened between us before I met my friends, I don't care anymore; those early memories will remain meaningless to me, even if I continue to remember them," Ven finished.
"Fine then, if that's how you feel..." Vanitas said; being monotone.
Van then kneeled down, and shifted some sand away; finally grabbing the shell that was given to him previously.
"I already grew tired of this gift, but now since I'm not welcomed anymore..." Vanitas then threw the shell to Ven.
"You can keep it..." he finished.
Ven successfully caught the shell, now having it in his palms; though as he was looking at it, he was a bit baffled. But the sound of Van speaking again, made Ven look up.
"I guess I'll be going then...oh...and for the record, if you say I'm the monster I always have been, I probably would have choked or even stabbed you by now...but I didn't," Vanitas said looking at Ven; having his back towards him.
"But whatever, you believe whatever you want to believe. I'm done with this conversation," Vanitas said sharply; looking away.
With nothing left to say, Vanitas walked away, leaving Ven alone. As the wind picked up again, Ven then looked at the shell in his palm.
"Vanitas..." he uttered softly; putting his fingers over the shell.
Sora took another swing at his opponent, only for him to get thrown back. Sora felt the impact when he hit the ground, but with the situation going on, Sora got up; ready to fight once more.
Is that all you got," young Xehanort asked; merely amused.
At this rate, Sora was tired of this nonsense, and..without even realizing it, dark aura was starting to consume his entire body.
"I'm putting an end to this," Sora said angrily.
Then, with all the power running through his veins, Sora's eyes changed into amber. After that, he then charged at Xehanort with all his strength. But Xehanort stood his ground, ready to block whatever attack Sora was about to give.
"Hmm...you've lost.." Xehanort said smirking.