The Forgotten

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The Forgotten
Date of Scene: 09 December 2012
Location: Manhattan - The Labyrinth
Synopsis: Before the Shadow Lords reach the vault, an Abnormality shows up.
Thanks to: Oathkeeper as Lingering Will
Cast of Characters: Lingering Will, Katyna, Negaduck, Oswald, LEXUS, Hati, Stormfall, Maleficent, Mirage
Tinyplot: In A New York Minute

Riku has posed:
Riku Dislike Puzzles (also Smoke).

He also dislikes giant crocodiles who try and eat him. All of this is somewhat of a secondary concern at this point but he expended a great deal of dark fire to keep from being some guardian's snack.

Now he stands in front of the corridor of gloom that leads into the deepest places in the labyrinth. The heartless are around him, milling around as he stares at the small deformation that has appeared in the archway. Riku extends his fingers to touch the surface of the archway.

It was smooth black stone like the rest of this little slice of ancient memory. There was a crack just wide enough for a small object to fit. Riku looks down at the key in his palm, most of his anger expelled with the dark flame.

Such a small thing.

Riku puts the key in the lock. There is an instant where thoughts skitter across his mind like water crackling across a hot pan. There is the impulse to snap the key off in the lock. He squashes the impulse, roiling thoughts still angry even if his body wasn't crackling with dark energy anymore.

This needed to be done. He wasn't going to fail. Failure stalked him but he wasn't going to let it catch him again. Keep him trapped, hopeless and helpless, while the rest oif his future slid through his fingers.

Riku turned the key. There is no click. No sound of a mechanism working. It simply disappears from his hand. In the place of the endless darkness a light showed at the end of the dark tunnel. It was a perfect, golden radiance that gently pulsed and even from this distance was difficult for Riku to look at directly.

The heartless were not so resisting to the lure of that distant golden light. They surged forwards towards it while Riku stood near the archway, head tilted down towards the ground until he mustered the courage to take that first step down the long hallway towards the light.
Hati has posed:
After the skermish outside the Empire State building, the resident werewolf had not quite come out unscathed. There are burnt patches on her fur, and places where small gashes had appeared in her fur. Hati, no longer pretending the darker persona of Pyre, sits not far along from the opening, her head drawn down to lick over a burn along her arm. She hasn't cleaned away any of the red dye, so it still lingers on her face and back - the color bright against her dark fur.

Every now and again, the wolf growls to herself, although when Riku moves, her eyes follow him, narrowed and wary. She doesn't know exactly what lies beyond that passageway, but it seems only a matter of time before someone came with more self-righteous cries for justice.

She gets up, shaking out her fur, trying not to let on just how bad those injuries are. There is that measure of pride that keeps her from showing too much pain. Her ears are perked, listening in the tunnels. "Anyone want to put a wager on how long we've got before the heroes butt in?" She grumbles. Riku can have his 'light', she wants battle.
Mirage has posed:
The heart of a world. To the wrong person, that light could be deadly.

Mirage had not joined Riku in his foray down into the Labyrinth but she was very well aware of what was going on. After a nice bout of harassing a few heroes of light moments ago, Mirage had retreated to LEXUS's newest acquisition, a deep-fried duck in tow. For now, she's made a temporary home in one of the executive offices within the building, sitting lazily in an overstuffed chair.

Negaduck may or may not be being used as a footrest at the moment.

Stretched out before her is a floating viewing portal, framed by green flames, that provides an outsider's view to Riku and his progress. His little fight against the giant crocodile was a joy to watch and a wonderful demonstration of how far he had come in mastering his dark powers.

"Oho, there it is. The world's light." Mirage licks her lips, "Soon that vision will come to pass and this world will /drown/ in despair."
Katyna has posed:
So..This is it. This is what it was all for. Damn, why didn't she have the glory of unlocking that door, of being victorious instead of needing another Shadow Lord to drag her to safety?

Still..There's a lot to be said for the shard of warm, golden light that pours forth from the other side of that door. Katyna, still in her 'Ember' persona, blinks at the sudden surge of light, smirking as the heartless rush for it.

"So..This is it huh. This is what it all boils down to. But this time we'll get there before those heroes do. This time, we'll be triumphant.." With a cocky grin and nod to Hati, she proceeds down the corridor. "Let's not wait to find out. C'mon!"
Oswald has posed:
Oswald stands with his hands in two of his many pockets, expression intentionally blank. He has never seen a World Heart before so is very curious, though less so than the already scrabbling Heartless. They are viewed as little more than a pest as they shift around everyone's legs and magically batted away if they get too close. When Riku turns the key in the lock Oswald winces at the outpouring of light and turns his face around slightly. He then regards Hati with an unreadable expression, shakes his head sadly just once and looks back.

"Well," he says, raising his voice amongst the observations of everyone else. "It's not as if this is a surprise. Who's first?"
LEXUS has posed:
LEXUS proved to be absurdly successful in the face of dire opposition in the form of a boy with entirely too many swords. His system integrity is in fact still near optimal levels after, well, making up the slack by consuming a good deal of the boy's life energy.

He spent a few microcycles considering a redesign of the new acquisition, but time waits for no program. There are matters to attend to below.

He appears near Hati, a wireframe seething into appearance before filling in with lines of light in high speed to resume the form of LEXUS. He nods to his extremely helpful bodyguard... He appreciates the gesture from the werewolf woman and will have to repay it someday. "More than I expected, less than I hoped. The surface is in chaos. Many of the heroes are beginning evacuation procedures. Most of them appear to have no idea where our true target was."

He turns, looking to Riku and the burning light beyond. "I have been long wishing to see the process of a World Heart falling to Darkness. It will be most educational."

As Oswald's question, LEXUS gestures to Riku. "He is the leader, allow him to go first."
Oathkeeper has posed:
The gates open, and indeed, light thumps beyond. It's bewildering - such a strong light beating against the foreground. Even those Shadow Lords who might have gone through this before, they would note that every time, it is somewhat different. The place, the light, everything about it, it is always different. But the one 'standard' that today is being broken, is that normally beyond that door - there lies only the World Heart.

Today, there is something else too.

Beyond the footsteps of those with Riku, there is another pair. Metal feet touching the ground one step at a time. There's a metalic 'jingle' of a single chain tossling about as these step come from the 'corner' of perception, beyond that game. Like a camera with tunnelvision, the source of this sound comes into view for all the Shadow Lords at roughly the same time. An armor, moving on its own, made in Golden and Blacks and Browns. Two triangular and tall horns stick out from its face-covering mask, and the armor itself seems almost... 'alive' in how even its chest is chiseled in such a way that it must be fitted to one specific form. There are no loose ends, no folds, nothing like that.

A large visor of deepest black covers its face from being read - if there is even anything beneath. But most unfathomable might be the item it carries with him. The source of that little chain's jingle. A massive blade, silver at the handle, then quickly thinning into segmented golden browns and finally ending in the form of a skeleton-key's tip of the blade. For those familiar, this form is unmistakable; a Keyblade.

With one massive, fell sweep, the keyblade swings across the ground suddenly, as the armor moves to block the way. And in that single stroke, the heartless who dared come near are immediately destroyed. All that remains is a series of little bubbles of gold and green... though none of them react to the armor. None dive into it. Then, the armor turns slightly, pointing its blade forwards to nobody in particular.

"Where is He?"

Though the voice sounds like metal grating on metal... somehow... the voice can be understood by those around him. And were Maleficent watching - she might recognize that voice. The voice of a young man she'd once dared to fool. And in that very same moment... a yellow field suddenly falls from near his boots, and extends itself to envelop the area, including those villains who dared come down into this area. They've been caught... within the Will's Cage.

And before them stands a Will... a will of anger. The Lingering Will of one who had struggled against the darkness... and lost.
Negaduck has posed:

Negaduck, Mirage's footrest, is grumbling angrily. This is the worst day ever for him. Not only is he crawing, he is angry. This is the worst week ever for him! Darkwing Duck is back, he was humiliated. Now, he is Mirage's property!!! What rotten look!

"Grrrrrr.....!" Negaduck plots.

What catches his attention, in this particular area, is the sound ofmetal. The keyblade catches his attention... And the person it belongsto?

A figure within that suit.
Riku has posed:
Riku knows better than to show any sign of weakness now. He looks at LEXUS and nods soberly, taking a deep breath as he turns towards the world heart. The moment of hesitation is the only part he is going to get. He takes the first few steps, and immediately begins to slow.

His eyes narrow as an unfamiliar armored hero shows up somewhat ahead of schedule. His shoulders tighten as the corridor is sealed by the armor in a single flash. Lines of energy and light bind their passage and Riku begins to curl one fist, ghostly flames pouring up from it as he prepares to defend himself against the first of the last defenders.

Something.. stops him though.

The fire goes out as Riku opens his hand again, blinking several times as something at the back of his mind is nagging for his attention. It's not the same gnawing uncertainty he's had to banish or the feeling of the voice sliding across his mind. It's.. something else.

Riku snorts faintly, summoning the blade into his hand. "Whoever you are. Get. Out. Of. My. Way. I'm only going to warn you the once." He didn't think those behind him will give the same courtesy, but he was 'The Leader' quote. Unquote-- he had to act like it.
Hati has posed:
The sudden appearance of LEXUS doesn't even surprise the werewolf, who's ears flick in his direction as if sensing the darkness of his arrival a split second before he actually appears. Her huge head turns in his direction, but she only offers an incline of it in response to his own. She had done what was required of her, and like always, she had done the job with fervor. While the others show their interest in the World Heart and it's glow, Hati all but ignores it, nose twitching at the path back through the Labyrinth.

It's Katyna's voice that draws her attention, though. Among all of those who work for the Shadow Lords, this one is the closest she could consider a true ally, at least for now. With a grumble, Hati turns her attention away from the sounds she can already hear through the distant passages. Echoes of footsteps that might come not too far in the future. If Ember is going into the corridor, then perhaps Pyre should follow. Suitable aliases for two Shadow Lord apprentices.

The wolf turns, padding to walk a few paces behind the other girl, head low, skulking on all fours. It isn't until the strange armored one appears that she halts, growling low in her throat. "Oh, what's this?" She asks, claws moving against the hard ground beneath her feet. "I wonder if the tin can holds something tasty on the inside. Let me get my can opener..." She raises one paw, but with Riku in the lead, she doesn't actually move forward. She's waiting to see what happens - just what the boy will do.
Oswald has posed:
Oswald is taken aback by the Lingering Will's appearance, coming to an abrupt and almost sliding stop as it cuts down the Heartless. "Whoa!" he exclaims rocking back and forth a couple of times. The crackling field of yellow is enough to set his nerves on edge, and he drops instantly into a pose of readiness whilst measuring the apparition's intentions. His fingers flex once or twice, rainbow sparks giving a suggestion of Oswald's magical energy while his ears flip-flop up and down in a comically paniced fashion.

He knows what a keyblade is, make no mistake. Their weilders rarely level them against people lightly. Rather than dismiss his comments Oswald replies, attempting to remain as balanced as possible in his tone. "Where is who? It's just us, stranger. Don't do anything you can't take back."
Maleficent has posed:
Maleficent's presence is felt, not seen, a dark shadow that squeezes the heart -- which is more pleasant an experience for some than others. She is nowhere to be found, yet everywhere, all around. Her satisfaction is a burning, fiery thing; amused and driven in equal measure. Greenlit shadows dance on the wall, without any discernable source of her flames, mingling with the Will's golden light in a toxic, corrosive way.

Her wild laughter dances cruel arpeggios up and down three octaves. She needs no words to express her magnificent, malevolent pleasure.
Katyna has posed:
Katyna pauses as LEXUS tells them to allow the 'leader' to go first. She makes a face at him quietly. "Aah, you never let me have any fun.." she mumbles. Still, she'd like to see what this 'leader' kid is capable of. Although he is well-known in Heartless circles, she does not know him that well personally.

"Alright.." She falls in behind Riku, moving a bit impatiently, intent on seeing what this world heart is exactly. It's not like she's ever witnessed such a thing before. Furthermore, it is her overwhelming curiousity and bitterness that compels her to extinguish this silly thing people call 'hope'. How pointless.

Then of course the mysterious armoured figure appears, blocking their way. she narrows her eyes, pulling out her sword which bursts into flames. "You want me to cut this bugger down, Riku?" She glances over at Hati and grins, "Sounds like a plan.."
Mirage has posed:
"Is something wrong, ducky?" Mirage asks sweetly, peering over her sandals to the (still quite injured!) Negaduck. Of course, she really doesn't care if he finds issue with their current arrangement. In fact, she prefers it that way. All misery was fair game, especially from a short-tempered evil twin. "Now hush, they're about to get to the good part."

With a wave of the hand, she magics up a wineglass filled with a curious red liquid. As the advance troops make their move, she lifts the glass, as if ready to toast for their victory. The toast will have to wait, she realizes, as from her view she sees that armored figure arrive and halt everyone's progress.

"One final guardian, hmm. What do you think, ducky, should we go help them?" Her free hand drums her fingers against the armrest of the chair. "Though I daresay that Riku will have this obstacle handled in no time."
LEXUS has posed:
The wall goes up, and LEXUS' eyes go wide.

From Mirage's viewing point, she can hear a thousand whispers and voices around her. The roiling, stormy skies of the Grid swirl above her suite, the lance of purple light rising endlessly into the skies hissing.

cannot access primary unit
observation mode engaged
procesing threat index
analysis proceeding
cannot access primary unit
keyblade detected
cannot assess threat index - no data found
who are you
what are you

LEXUS hisses as he actually trembles, losing some of his seemingly infinite poise as he looks at the wall. The outer edge of his eyes spin rapidly as he looks between the wall and the thing before him, his jaw is clenched as he speaks through his teeth, "Release us, Keyblade Wielder. Immediately. Or you will be obliterated." Unlike the other villains, LEXUS' voice is tinged with something other than complete confidence in the domination at the moment.
Lingering Will has posed:
Before the Lingering Will stands a boy and a group of Shadow Lords. At first, there is a lack of recognition. The armor simply turns his blade slightly as darkness 'flecks' off of the blade, and the keychain rattles along with the movement. Instead of abiding to Riku's words, it takes a step forwards. The head shifts, making it seem like he is looking for something. It doesn't look like this living armor is here for them at all. He's not here to stop them - the heartless simply got in his way.

Then Maleficent's voice dares to break through the ethers and rings within these walls. Its head tilts again, trying to find the source. Then he turns his head back down towards Oswald of all people. But the Lingering Will isn't that kind of sentience anymore. It doesn't know how to respond to this question. "/He/." The metal voice rasps again as it takes another step forwards, then suddenly gets into an offensive stance as Hati's paw goes up and Katyna brings her blade up. The Lingering Will is ready to defend itself...

But then there is Riku. Having moved a little closer, the Armor slackens its stance a little. Almost like a bird... like some broken puppet being controlled by an outside force, that head tilts a few times. Trying to understand, trying to somehow get an 'angle of vision' on him, as if one of them somehow beheld the answer it seeks.


"... You."

"Are you him?"

"You can't be him."

Yet somehow, whatever it is, Riku's presence has halted this armor entirely. It just stands there, motionless, watching Riku... until LEXUS speaks again. In that moment, the Armor brings its blade up once more. There's a metalic hiss that's simply unable to be understood and stated in any way other than just... being rage.

The Will's Cage remains for now.
Riku has posed:
Riku doesn't look at Katyna, unable to take his eyes off the armored guardian. He says quietly back to her. "We'll get to that soon enough." in a cold, bland voice that he uses around those who know him in this guise. But what is the disguise and what the real? Riku turns that around in his head a few times and then discards the whole concept. He's had to be many things since his world fell. He was all of them.. or maybe he was none of them, and he was again only fooling himself. Either way. Riku's spine shivers at the touch of that dark laughter. It's not-- unpleasant, but the touch of the attention of the sorcereress reminds him bitterly of the visions again. Things he wanted to have so desperately. Paths he wanted to tread that seem so unattainable. He wants to hope, even if those hopes are darkened by the sorceress in a way he does not comprehend, but he has no room in his heart right now for hopes. Gnawing fear has taken it's place and it drives him forwards towards this inevitable conclusion.

Keyblade Wielder.

Riku starts to frown as that part of his mind starts to scream louder, something clawing up from the depths as he raises a hand and motions for the others behind him to pause. There is a very fine tremble in one hand that he does not recognize as he takes another step forwards. The blade is still raised in a guard position. They were in for a massive resistance if there was a keyblade wielder before them. Riku feels bitterness well up inside him at the mention of a 'chosen one' but like every time he thought about keyblades, he pushed it down so hard he couldn't even feel it anymore. This Guardian, whatever it was-- wasn't.. Riku couldn't explain the strange feeling he had. It was almost..something. Gone now. There was something. "I'll handle this." he says in a whisper.

Will he? Just what was this thing? It didn't sound human. It didn't sound like-- anything, really.

So why then was he suddenly so afraid?
Oswald has posed:
Oswald looks back impassively when glanced at by the Lingering Will, a flat expression remaining on his face. How did it get here? What's it doing? Nothing good, surely, why else would it trap us here? He glances sidelong at Riku, ears falling slightly. How much does he even know about this kid? Not enough, probably. Oswald takes a step backwards in hesitation but does not drop his ready stance. He tries to summon a couple of Heartless into being, his nerves not make the least bit steady by LEXUS's reaction. "We're definitely not going to regret saying THAT," he intones.
Katyna has posed:
Katyna arches a brow, and chuckles a bit as the armoured form starts to raise its own sword in response. "Seriously? Yo're kidding right? All us Shadow Lords against you? You wouldn't stand a chance. In fact, it hardly seems fair..."

She nods to Riku, lowering her sword. No. She might be a Shadow Knight, but it doesn't mean she doesn't believe in a fair fight. Yes, let Riku handle this. Let's see what he's capable of.

And then the armoured form says something strange. "Chosen? Chosen him for what? What ARE you talkin' about, huh?"
Hati has posed:
Being trapped within that cage is not a feeling that a wild creature particularly enjoys. Hati's ears slick back, her tail low, her body tense. One of the downsides of trapping a wild animal is that you remove the 'flight' instinct, and all that remains is the 'fight'. Both she and Ember seem to have the same thought in mind, but it is Riku's whisper that holds her back from attacking. Her growl deepens.

Riku may be entranced by it, but she is not. The wolf raises her head towards her fellow Shadow Lords. "How did he even get in here? was it trapped in the World Heart?" It's not something she's ever heard of, but apparently, whatever this /thing/ is, it seems to be looking for someone. "Whatever it is, it can die just as much as anything else." She begins to pace back and forth, testing the boundaries of the barrier, but not daring to touch them. "I don't like this." She growls again, getting impatient.
LEXUS has posed:
The air continues to whisper around Mirage, but it becomes almost unintelligible, strings of binary and opcode, processing paraeters. But one thing continues to be said over and over.


LEXUS' hands tremble. He clenches them, attempting to steady himself for what is likely to come. Why is he suddenly off his game. He's usually almost untouchable. "It's far too late for regrets, Oswald." LEXUS replies. He adopts an offensive position, a look of desperation on his face. This being either has no concept of danger, or he is truly powerful enough to fight them all at once.

Both are equally bad. Even if it is the first, a berserking Keyblade Wielder could easily deal unacceptable levels of casualty to their forces before being dispatched. And he doesn't even know how good this... thing... is with it.

Riku, however, steps forth and relieves him of being the first to strike. LEXUS falls back when given the chance, straightening... But his Disc still appears, the object being flicked in his hands nervously.
Maleficent has posed:
"Fear not. That is no keyblade wielder," the voice of Maleficent announces imperiously, scornfully; Riku feels her long, spidery fingers curl gently and reassuringly around his shoulder, though there is no one there. "It /was/ a keyblade wielder. Now it is only an echo of an echo, the final, endless scream of a would-be hero who failed the worlds on every imaginable level."

A slight breeze stirs the air, tugging lightly at hair and fabric, as though a great power paces nearby. And then, finally, the Sorceress Supreme reveals herself, a bolt of violet lightning crashing down from the ceiling to deposit her, apparently in person. She stands tall and proud behind Riku, her arms spread wide, flametongue fabric stretched in a dire mantle. The gesture is as much a protective shield for the other Shadow Lords as it is a reinforcement of the boy from Destiny Islands... and, perhaps, possessive of him, as well.


She's agreeing with Riku, /and/ confirming -- or confusing -- the suspicions of the Lingering Will in one fell syllable. Now that's efficiency.
Mirage has posed:
By now, Mirage has ceased pestering Negaduck and now watches intently, leaned forward in her chair, her feet against the ground. It wasn't just the confrontation she was seeing through her portal, but the distortion in the world around her.

Mirage understand very little about computers and binary. On the other hand, she understood quite a bit about fear. Hearing that desperation in the voices of LEXUS around her was easy for the sorceress. It sounded beautiful to her, even if the program was one of her allies. "Don't like being confined, do we?" Mirage murmurs, now forcing her attention to the familiar wicked laughter and words.

A ghost of a keyblade wielder and failed hero. Fantastic! Though she cannot deny that its presence seems to be having quite a profound effect on young Riku. He'll handle it, sure, but there's no fooling Mirage. She can pick out his own fear as well.
Lingering Will has posed:
Riku the leader. Isn't that what Terra would have wanted for him? To be a strong leader, to wield a keyblade to protect his friends? To keep Sora and Kairi safe?

But look at this. This boy who now walks up to the Lingering Will while feeling fear within his heart, without even knowing where it originates from. The armor shifts itself, ready to protect itself from Riku, even going so far as to lunge forwards once and sweeping with a massive swing at Riku - who might either evade it or catch with his blade.

But again, there's that same response. With Riku closer, it lowers its guard again. The armor 'trembles' for a moment, not in fear, but in /anger/.

Then Maleficent's intervention comes! The thing quickly moves back and brings its blade towards Riku again, ready to strike even though Maleficent isn't truly there at first. She speaks, and the thing seems to 'shake' more violently. If it can understand her words or not, it's hard to tell, but it certainly seems angry...

And then comes Maleficent's words. Words that perhaps even Riku would not know what they answer. The thing points its blade at Riku once more, stepping forwards as if he's about to harm him... and then stepping back again. It shows such immense confusion. To Fight or Not To Fight?

After moments of standing there, unmoving... it finally states but one thing to Riku;


It then throws its blade down to the ground, as if it were 'giving up' on something, and the unique weapon suddenly transforms into large massive metalic contraption with a flash of light.

A glider of sorts.

The armor looks the way of the Shadow Lords - no longer eager to fight. But what a battle it would have been, if these two forces would meet! Would the Shadow Lords be able to fell the Lingering Will? With the power of Hati, the strategy of LEXUS, the jealousy of Oswald, and Katyna and Riku's desires. And then Maleficent, who stands to protect them! Surely, with so many of them here... they should be able to defeat this mere lost soul. This /echo of an echo/!

The armor jumps onto the glider. And with the glider summoned, it seems the Will's Cage disappears - the yellow barrier faltering and shattering apart into nothingness. At least one of the wishes of the Shadow Lords is fulfilled in that moment.

"/He/ isn't here."

It states then, looking back to the group for a moment as if it had something important to say. Had it been drawn here by Riku's presence? Or had it been Maleficent perhaps even? Both of them had met 'HIM' after all. HIM. That Man who goes without description... to inevitable great irritation and confusion of those who dared ask such a simple question.

But Maleficent knows! Surely, she knows what it sought here! And almost assuredly... she will tell none.

Still, that question had been so simple, and yet this armor could not even answer that anymore. How pitiful.

A dark portal then suddenly opens before the armor... and in one quick motion, the thing darts through it and disappears elsewhere...

Back to the Space Between Worlds.
Riku has posed:
Regrets, regrets.

Riku regrets Katyna saying that. He regrets it very INTENSELY because those words unlock the deep place inside him where he is keeping a memory so tightly controlled that it cut up the inside of his mind to even look at.

For a moment all he wants is to lash out at her, to raise the blade and stick it through her eager neck no matter the consequences. The memory takes him first. Riku closes his eyes hard and tries to resist, tries to shove it back into the little box where only the deepest of his insecurities dwell but it's no use. The part of his mind that had been calling his attention had betrayed him. It wanted him to see, and relive and see again.

Home. A beach. A sunset. A race. A stranger.

Riku began to shake visibly, shake uncontrollably, the black coat shrouding his form muffling most of the reaction. "No." he murmurs in weak denial. Dark flame erupts from his hands, moving up to his shoulder to engulf him in a flickering aura. "It.. can't." he shakes his head in denial. Now the memory was outside him as well as inside, and he feels off balance as though he was truely, once and for always-- going completely mad.

When the sorceress appears, his subconscious runs screaming into the protection of the shadow, Riku moving a step back towards Malificent even as he longs to hurl himself at the armored guardian and smash him over and over and over until the memory shatters or Riku's heart gives out and he dies.

The words leak out of his mouth while his mind wails and spins in a torrent. "you promised.."

And then the rest of the dark faery's words strike home, and something inside Riku's heart that he had never realized he was keeping alive withers and begins to die. He had no reason not to believe the sorceress. He had hoped-- had kept alive the hope-- that he might find them. That he might ask them why he was chosen. Why he was chosen and then cast aside. Why they did not return. He had kept the promise. He had tried to make ready. So many questions-- so many-- and now that hope was dead.

There was nothing before him and behind him but echoes. Riku himself was an echo, falling and falling towards nothing at all while still remaining doggedly on his feet through an act of sheer, mindless willpower.

That word. That one word.. stabs him in a way this conflict never could.


Riku grabs the last fragments of his self control, and manages-- just barely-- not to fall to his knees and scream.
Hati has posed:
There is a great deal that goes on before her eyes that Hati simply has no way of understanding. Her prowling comes to a halt as Malificent apears, although that tension in her body still screams at her to move. Whatever the relationship between this phantom and Riku, the boy seems shaken, his words betray that well enough. Her eyes narrow, but the wolf keeps her thoughts to herself for the time being. Every Shadow Lord had their issues, and it appears that the boy is no different.

When the armored ghost finally retreats and the barrier is dropped, she turns her head to Katyna, "I'm going to hunt in the tunnels. Maybe I'll find some heroes I can actually be allowed to sink my teeth into." With that, the red-dyed wolf turns, racing off into the darkness. She needed to move. Something about this whole thing brings back memories, and memories are the one thing that Hati is not yet ready to face.
Oswald has posed:
Oswald's big rabbit ears sag, understanding the sadness of the moment if not the exact details of its significance. He would give Riku a pat on the back, but Maleficent is of course there. Ah yes, HER. Oswald tilts his head, gaining a glean of understanding about this young boy. You'd have to be stupid not to notice the significance of the witch's reply.

The glittering sparks of magic fade away from Oswald's hands just after the Lucky Rabbit banishes his Heartless away with a gesture. He exhales cooly, then puts both hands in his pockets again. "Not what you were expecting, perhaps?" he asks of LEXUS. "I assume we can expect a FULL explanation, Maleficent? I recognize a Keyblade weilder when I see one and he did not seem pleased to see us."
LEXUS has posed:
As the barrier falls, LEXUS straightens, recomposing himself.

connection reestablished

LEXUS shakes his head. "No. Not what I was expecting at all." He admits. And for a creature that prides itself on knowledge and superior planning, that is a harsh admission indeed. He flicks his Disc into the air to hang behind him, and hefolds his arms, looking over to Riku as the others look to Maleficent or turn back. His eyes narrow as for a moment. What could he be thinking?

After a moment, he turns, looking away. "We still have work to do. The forces of Light will be here soon."
Maleficent has posed:
Maleficent's laughter is renewed by the armor's dismissal of Riku, and follows the Lingering Will's retreat, mockingly. Its effect on the boy, however, seem to surprise her, and her laughter softens, becoming, if not kind, minutely less cruel; her thin, elegant eyebrows raise almost to her horns.

"Child," she remarks, her tones becoming rather motherly in their hushed way, "You stand upon the precipice of glory, strength, and wisdom. You are already a greater hero than that one ever was, and your story has hardly begun." Once again, she tightens a grip around his shoulder, bands of contracting iron that restrict and support. Pain is the only act of 'love' that she knows how to express, which is more sad than anything else, really.

"Do not so readily allow another to pass judgement upon you; the light sees the darkness and comprendeth it not, and /that/ light is barely even worthy of your contempt," she coos. Then her tones harden into an iron truth, one that may resonate with the seed of Darkness she tended in his Heart, to encourage the regrowth of what withered from a new light -- or lack thereof:

"Some are Chosen to be great... and some Choose."

The shadows rise around her, a flickering green flame barely contained within them. It burns no one but herself, and she seems to enjoy it, a manic grin curving her blood-red lips into a tempestuous expression.

"Now is the hour of /your/ Choice."

She spins, her enflamed robes casting their heat over everyone in the room like a poisoned kiss; they each, individually, are aware of her regard as she looks at each Shadow Lord in turn, and seems to weigh their strengths and weaknesses, convictions and doubts. She doesn't deign to answer any given question quite yet. The explanation she gives, such as it is, is a reminder of their momentum, of the moment they have fought so hard, for so long, to earn, here and now.

Allowing the past to weigh them down would be a waste. Infodump later; victory /now/.

"Many of you also have Choices to make today; you have arrived at the Crossroads of Destiny, and they will not wait for you to... linger... in the moment."

She laughs again, and just before she's burnt away completely, leaving nothing but shadows behind, her voice whispers, simultaneously, in everyone's ear:

"Choose wisely..."
Riku has posed:
The fire around Riku dies away, drawn back inside him. He stands there for a long time it seems.

He breathes in and out staring at the place where the armored guardian had vanished to. He doesn't speak or move so much as a muscle. The heartless continue to stream past him as the cage is shattered. They know what they want.

Does he?

Riku turns very slowly, and looks towards every Shadow Lord that has not already passed on. His face is blank. The light in his eyes has died, hollowed out and destroyed by the mental torment and the whispers of the sorceress.

There is nothing behind them now but dark fire and resolve. He looks to LEXUS, then to Oswald. Without a word to anyone he strides down the corridor of darkness towards the heart of Manhattan.

If-- the very first step shows the dying echoes of a last reservation, it is no longer there after the third.
Oswald has posed:
Well that explained nothing Oswald thinks. He gives a small sigh. Oh well, I guess you can't have everything/anything.