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Chapter 22 - Curse of a Nobody

Trapped in an unknown world swallowed in ultimate darkness, Sora and Riku must escape anyway possible! But someone lurks in the shadows ...

Its not the end of the world ... Its the end of the Universe!

Chapter 22 - Curse of a Nobody

Chapter 22 - Curse of a Nobody
“I’m … You’re Nobody?” Riku’s Replica echoed with a confused tone, unable to grasp the concept. “Are you mocking me!?” 
The Replica brushed away Riku’s hand in spite, refusing the offer to help him up to his feet. He felt threatened by how Riku had been acting so kind to him all of a sudden. 
“No, far from that.” Riku replied back, stepping back to give the Replica space. “When I had visions of my old memories, I had trouble with picturing the details due to them being blurred out. But I heard voices that spoke out key words such as ‘Heart’ and ‘Nobody’.”
“… And your point is?” The Replica shrugged tensely, glaring towards Riku with distaste.
“My point being that I may not have my memories, but I am able to figure out the connections behind those words.” Riku began to explain, eyes locked on his Replica hoping for an understanding between the two of them. “From what I gathered, Roxas is a part – technically a half – of someone and that they are connected by Heart and Mind. And so, looking at it from our point of view, you have my memories and so you would be considered a part of me.”
From a small distance from the two, Roxas watched with cautious eyes. He had been weary as to whether or not the Replica would attack again, considering that he has a close link with their current main enemy: Xaphire. Roxas took in a few, deep breaths to calm his mind; feeling the breeze of the Wasteland brush against his cheek. He took a slight interest into what Riku had to say, knowing that they hadn’t discussed much about the role of Nobodies whilst Riku had been in his current amnesiac state. 
All of a sudden, the Replica began to laugh somewhat menacingly, causing both Roxas and Riku to step back warily.
“Hahahaa … that’s quite the theory you have there, and a part of me wishes that to be completely true.” The Replica stated in his dark tone, but lowered his sight due to knowing the faults in that theory. “Unfortunately you’re missing a few crucial elements; Nobodies are created naturally from the remains of people who had lost their hearts in the Darkness. Due to this, they would eventually fade away or return to their original bodies … but not me. No, I was artificially made as a lab experiment, copying your memories and appearance only to be used as a puppet for whatever schemes the Organization had up their sleeves. No matter how much I crave to be a true person, I’m just a petty doll.”
The Replica dipped his head down, feeling useless and obsolete among a Being who he had copied and a Nobody with the strong resolve to help others. Roxas understood what the Replica meant completely, reflecting on the hardships his old friend Xion had to go through. But then both Roxas and the Replica had been caught out by surprise with Riku suddenly giving out a frustrated sigh. 
“So what if you were artificially created, being controlled as a puppet through all of your short life shouldn’t drag you down.” Riku spat out tensely, showing off that he was completely serious with what he had been saying. “If you hold a piece of what the original being had been missing, you are certainly a part of that person; naturally or artificially.”
The Replica glared towards Riku in spite, trying to process everything in his mind. A moment after, he shook his head lowly and began to lift himself up to his feet. Riku watched as the Replica struggled in agony to stand up, all the injuries burning and stinging his body. Finally, the Replica stood up strong, panting due to the amount of struggle he had to put himself up with. He then continued to converse with Riku, still showing off a dark expression.
“You have a fair point … but did you ever consider if I would ever want to become a part of you?” The Replica began to argue back, refusing to accept Riku as his own original being. “You might have forgotten, but whenever we met during the events in Castle Oblivion a year ago; I told you that my one goal had been to become ‘original’, not an artificial look-a-like that hides in your shadow or even a section of your pitiful being.”
Riku gazed towards his Replica, feeling rather sorry for him. He finally began to understand the Replica’s sole desire: to break free from his chains that held him back from experiencing life of a true being and to gain peaceful memories of his own. Riku then began to shake his head, brushing away the sorrowful feeling that stuck in his mind. He needed to find a way to convince his Replica that joining him is the only solution for them both: allowing Riku to regain fragments of his memories as well as allowing the Replica to experience a worthwhile life.
Roxas took in everything that had been discussed during this somewhat ‘debate’, finding that both Riku and his Replica had shared fairly valid points. But something within this debate tickled Roxas’ mind, mainly concerning the Replica’s arguments. Was he afraid to accept Riku as his true being? Or had he been holding back due to his ties with Xaphire? In any case, Roxas finally decided to step in and convince the Replica with his own views and experiences.
“I agree with you, Repliku.” Roxas spoke out clearly, stepping in to the conversation with his chest high and mighty. “At least, that is what I would have said if we met during the time I was still in the Organization.”
Riku and The Replica switched their sights onto Roxas the moment he spoke out. Riku’s initial reaction upon hearing Roxas’ words caused him to feel completely betrayed, eyes wide with shock and mouth dropping open in disbelief. But then Riku realised what Roxas had actually said and hastily looked away in awkwardness. The Replica on the other hand, raised an eyebrow in curiosity, trying to find some sense in Roxas’ words. Roxas turned directly towards the Replica with eyes locked on the target, refusing the Replica to escape his gaze.
“Before I merged with Sora, I always had people mocking me for being a Nobody and just a worthless shell.” Roxas began to explain, keeping up his serious tone. “I knew that I was born from the shell of another being, but all the teasing and mocking during my time as an Organization XIII member drove me to the point that I desired to be an individual. The phase ‘I am me, nobody else.’ kept on repeating in my mind as time went on. But during that time, I began to lose everything; the friends I cared about and the respect I tried to hold onto. In the end … I gave in. I merged with a dormant Sora, and allowed him to become complete once again.”
“It must have been torture for you …” The Replica commented back, taking in everything the Nobody spoke about. “Something like that gives me more of a reason to refuse becoming a part of another being.” 
“It’s funny … because merging with Sora was a huge relief for me.” Roxas lightly smiled, showing off that he truly meant what he said.
“… Excuse me!?” The Replica muttered in sudden disbelief, caught off by the surprise.
“I’m speaking the truth.” Roxas nodded strongly, showing off a natural positive expression. “During my time as part of Sora, I was able to experience his memories and the care of those around him. I admit that it wasn’t the same as being around my own friends but how Sora interacted with those around him allowed me to refresh my mind. I was able to meet new people whilst also seeing some old friends, even if they can’t physically see me. And so, as long as I’m a part of Sora, I can stay close to those I care for and enjoy the life I have been given.”
The Replica became hesitant, struggling to decide what to do. Roxas turned and nodded back at Riku, who was grateful for the help. 
“T-that’s a lie.” The Replica fought back, trying to stand by his initial statement. “You just watch as someone else plays out their life, unable to do anything. What’s the point in any of that!?”
Roxas lowly shook his head, “You’re not getting it, are you? I you try to live a life as you are now, you would only suffer the Nobody’s curse and allow erasure to become inevitable. It was exactly the same for me. In the end, joining with my original self was the only answer, and it’ll be the same for you.”
“S-stop it!” The Replica spat, unable to keep calm any longer. He slowly stepped forward and instantly began to lash out. “I WILL NEVER BE ANYONE ELSE! I AM MY OWN BEING!”
The Replica abruptly summoned the Soul Eater weapon into his grasp and swung the Blade to strike Roxas, aiming for a fatal blow. Roxas swiftly summoned his own two Keyblades, but suddenly felt a palm push him out of the way. He instantly noticed that Riku had pushed him out of the way and prepared to take on the Replica once again. Riku had already summoned out his Way to the Dawn Keyblade and swung it to clash against the oncoming attack. 
The moment the two weapons collided, the sound of sharp metal shattering began to echo across the Wasteland around them. As Roxas regained his footing, his eyes suddenly widened with disbelief. He caught sight of the exact moment the two clashed. The Soul Eater Blade shattered apart the moment it ricocheted off of the Way to the Dawn’s blade. He wasn’t the only one caught out with disbelief, the Replica’s eyes widened with devastation and horror as he could only watch his weapon shatter before his very eyes. Riku on the other hand, did not show any reaction or emotion. It seemed as though he eyes continued to concentrate on the impact of his strike and what the Replica would do next.
The Replica couldn’t control the force of the momentum he had executed, causing him to stumble on his feet. Riku swiftly stepped aside as the Replica stumbled past uncontrollably. Finally, the Replica tripped and collided to the dust-covered ground, coughing due to the amount of dust he suddenly inhaled. Riku’s eyes were locked on his Replica, feeling somewhat pitiful for his opponent.
“W-wha *cough, cough* b-but how…!?” The Replica stuttered in his disbelief, unable to understand how his weapon shattered so easily all of a sudden.
Roxas stepped closer with his eyes still wide with shock of what happened, “No way … Is it starting already!?”
“Wh-what do you mean by ‘it’!?” The Replica spat out, demanding as to what’s going on.
Riku switched his sight towards Roxas, wondering as to what’s happening to the Replica.
“Your body is already being affected by erasure.” Roxas stated, beginning to feel horrible by the Replica’s soon-to-be demise. “If you don’t merge with Riku, your existence will be fully erased.”
“HUH!? B-but I’m artificial! How can an artificial being – a puppet – be erased from existence!?” The Replica bellowed as he punched the dusty ground in refusal, eyes burning with arrogance.
“It’s because no matter if you’re artificial or natural, a being with no heart is a barely-lingering existence.” Roxas stated in a serious, clear voice, desperate to get through to the fading Replica. “This is the Curse of a Nobody: fated to fade from memory and existence.”
“You have to join with me!” Riku demanded his Replica, holding out a hand towards the fading vessel in desperation. “There’s no choice anymore!”
“B-but I…” The Replica struggled, his body beginning to weaken.
“Repliku! Do you wish to fade into nothing!?” Roxas bellowed in frustration, taking everything he had to help the Replica. “Or do you wish to create your own memories!?”
He did it. The Replica’s mind finally snapped, giving out a small gasp in revelation. He swiftly sat up and locked eyes on both Riku and Roxas.
“F-fine, I’ll merge.” The Replica nodded, although struggling due to the deterioration of his body. “But this better be worth it.”
Roxas nodded to him, smiling with pride.
The Replica used all of his strength as he pushed himself up back to his feet, his feet stumbling slightly as he tried to regain balance. He the stepped forward cautiously towards Riku, who’s hand froze in place as he continued to reach out towards the Replica. The Replica stopped and glared down towards to hand, the strong desert wind whisling around his ears. Panting with exhaustion, the Replica’s eyes shifted its gaze from Riku’s hand to his eyes. Roxas suddenly felt as though there were mirror images of Riku, albeit wearing different attires. The Replica took in a deep breath to be sure this had been the right decision to make.
“Do you swear that this wouldn’t be regretful?” The Replica questioned with a serious tone, eyes locked on Riku.
“I swear it.” Riku nodded truthfully, return the serious atmosphere the both had been generating.
The Replica nodded back positively, knowing now that there was no turning back. But just before he could begin the merging process, there had been something that crossed his mind that he needed to get across.
“Just so you know; I only have sections of your memories stored in my mind.” The Replica confessed, feeling this was necessary for the ‘original’ Riku to know.
“I guessed as much, I would think it would be more difficult to have all of my original memories stored in such a short timeframe.” Riku smiled, understanding the situation.
The Replica shook his head, “It isn’t the amount of memories though; it’s the type of memories I hold that’s the problem.”
Riku cocked his head slightly, somewhat confused of what he meant.
Unfortunately, he had no time to ask further about what he meant due to the Replica beginning to completely fade from existence. The Replica noticed this time, almost losing his footing due to his loss of strength. As he regained himself, The Replica switched his sight over to Roxas. Roxas gazed towards him with wonder, trying to grasp what he had meant. The Replica gave out a small, respectful smile and straightened out his posture, showing that he was now ready for the merging process.
“Well, you’ll see what I mean soon enough.” The Replica finally spoke, switching sight back towards Riku.
With that, the Replica grasped Riku’s hand as though he was respectfully shaking it and closed his eyes peacefully whilst he calmly inhaled the air. Within that moment, bright light engulfed The Replica’s body and began to rise towards the sky with magnificence. Roxas and Riku watched as The Replica’s body faded away and finally merged with the true Riku, allowing The Replica to experience a true life and Riku to regain sections of his own memories. It did not take long for this process to be fully completed. The moment it all finished, Riku slowly drew in breaths to regain his bearings. Roxas smiled with relief as they had finally resolved the situation and finished the 2nd Door of this ridiculous game. But as Roxas began step forward, Riku began to clutch his head in sudden agony.
Riku was gasping as the sheer pain surged through his mind. He felt Roxas place hands on his shoulders, shaking him to regain control of his senses and shout out to him with worry. But Riku could not hear a word of what he said, struggling to hold on to his own consciousness. Abruptly, he began to see images and scenes flash through his mind, this time as clear as day. They were his memories; more specifically, they were the memories of the time he was associated with Xehanort and the side of Darkness. Riku had been reminded of the events that took place during the time he searched to regain the heart of a girl: his friend, Kairi. And he was reminded of his betrayal from his best friend and the conflict between his own arrogance and his best friend’s will power. But he still could not remember the name and appearance of his best friend, still seemingly all a blur.
Roxas continued to shake Riku on the shoulders, trying to get a response out of him.
“Come on, speak to me Riku.” Roxas muttered with a tense gaze, trying continuously to snap him out of it.
Finally, Roxas heard a desperate gasp, much to his own relief. Riku began to pant and breathe heavily as he properly regained his consciousness and senses. Riku hastily began to look around, trying to be sure that he was back in reality. Roxas watched him carefully, making sure that he was healthy and safe, but also that he was still himself. He began to wonder how much memory Riku regained and the content of the memories. Roxas then stepped back to give Riku more space as he began to calm down. 
“Wow … that was rough.” Riku muttered breathlessly, finally feeling like he was back in reality.
“How are you feeling now?” Roxas began to ask, allowing Riku to take the questions at a slow and steady pace. “Are there any improvement to your memories?”
“Yeah, some parts are clear now.” Riku answered tiredly, closing his eyes and soothing his head.
Roxas nodded to him; Riku’s answer related to The Replica’s statement before he began the merging process. Roxas then took a moment to think things through; he needed to know what specific memories Riku had regained and how this could affect his personality and emotions.
“… These memories …” Riku began to murmur, still soothing his head. “They’re full of Darkness … and terror.”
“Do you know when those memories were recorded?” Roxas questioned in reply, finding this the best possible chance find the answers he requires. “What were you doing in them?”
“These happened … about a year ago now.” Riku recollected, trying to figure out everything about these returned memories. “I was connected … to the Darkness, I controlled the Heartless and devoured everything in my path to reach my goal. I … betrayed my friends. I allowed hatred and fear to control me all because I desired to be strong.”
Roxas’ mind suddenly snapped with realisation: He remembered his time as a vessel of Darkness! This began to worry him. Riku may turn against him if Xaphire or anyone tampers with his mind. This then caused Roxas’ mind to burn with revived determination to get Riku to the memory pods in Castle Oblivion before the Darkness overtakes his consciousness once again.
“Is this … really me!?” Riku then anxiously questioned as he looked towards Roxas, beginning to feel unsable about his returned memories.
Roxas swiftly locked his eyes onto Riku and shook his head with a serious tone.
“No! That was who you were.” Roxas stated with his determined expression, “Those memories recollect a time in your life where you took the wrong path. But you realised that had been the wrong choice to make and you changed back to how you were supposed to be: an ally of the Light.”
Riku was silent for a moment after Roxas’ statement, taking in everything that he said with acknowledgment. 
“I believe you.” Riku finally answered back in certainty, smiling cheerfully.
Roxas sighed as he continued to feel relieved, chuckling away as he could let his worries pass away. But then something stuck on his mind that needed to be asked.
“You said that you had betrayed your best friend … do you remember who he is?” Roxas wondered curiously, hoping for the answer he was guessing.
“Unfortunately, no I don’t.” Riku shook his head lowly. “I still don’t even know what he looks like.” 
“Darn … ah well, at least you know you have a ‘best friend’.” Roxas sighed with disappointment, feeling that he had his hopes too high.
“… But I do remember Kairi.” Riku admitted with a small smile.
Roxas jumped up surprise; this wasn’t what he had been expecting, but this certainly had been a pleasant outcome.
“Well, with that settled, I think it’s time we found the exit.” Roxas cheerfully concluded, stretching his body out with enthusiasm.
Riku nodded in reply and then moved his sight to search around the dusty wasteland.
“But err … which way would that be?” Riku curiously began to wonder, unable to find anything in amongst the thousands of surrounding dormant Keyblades.
“That …” Roxas spoke out in reply, looking around as well. “… is a very good question.”
As they continued to wonder about the direction they should head, the sound of the wind began to grow louder and stronger in force. Roxas raised his arm to cover his face from the oncoming gust.
“What’s going on now?” He asked, gritting his teeth and squinting his eyes tightly in order to keep the wasteland dust from flying in.
“Roxas! Look!” Riku hastily pointed out, noticing movement amongst the Keyblades.
Roxas followed with his eyes where Riku pointed out to and focused on the crowd of Keyblades in that specific point. Suddenly, Roxas gasped due to the sudden shock from what he gazed upon. The Keyblades were degrading into the dust! Flakes and dead debris began to break away from the Keyblades, weakening their individual strengths and potentials. And then … Every Keyblade in the Wasteland shattered into dust. Both Roxas and Riku couldn’t believe their eyes; all the Keyblades that stood tall in this ‘Graveyard’ just died away into nothingness. But then, as the dust cleared away; three lone Keyblade stood together strongly. It had been as though they were a family together, refusing to break apart and die out. Roxas and Riku gazed towards the three Keyblades with wonder. But then Roxas’ eye lit up with sudden curiosity, unable to leave the Keyblades as they were. He suddenly leapt into a swift run as he headed towards the three Keyblades, something rattling around in his mind whilst he ran.
“Roxas, Hold up!” Riku called out, finding this sudden outburst odd for Roxas. He then wondered to himself, “What’s up with him?”
Finally reaching the three lone Keyblades, Roxas skidded to a halt and inspected them with full concentration. He heard Riku running up to a halt beside him, but kept his sight locked strongly on the Keyblades. Riku stepped closer to him, gazing at the Keyblades with curious eyes.
The three Keyblades were designed vastly differently from each other: the middle Keyblade, and also the tallest, had a broad, golden texture to show that it had been powerful to use against opponents. The left Keyblade had a smooth, ocean blue texture to give it an easy to wield yet magical style of use. And the final Keyblade on the right had a light, bronze texture to give the idea that it had been a fast and swift weapon yet also quite complicated to use due to the type of handle it had. Roxas continued to inspect the three Keyblades thoroughly, having this odd feeling that he had seen these before. This feeling was the exact same when he entered the Keyblade Graveyard and from when the images appeared in his mind. Riku also had felt as though he had seen these Keyblades; specifically the tall, broad centre Keyblade. It caused him to feel nostalgic, even though he could not put his finger on why he felt that way. 
As Roxas’ eyes locked onto the smaller Keyblade; he began to relate to it, as though it used to be his own. He began to place a hand over the handle and base of the Keyblade. Eventually, he took a firm grasp on the handle, gripping it in a way that he would wield it back-handed. But just before he could fully wield the weapon, the images from before began to appear in his mind again.
“Argh, AGAIN!?” Roxas groaned, beginning to gasp in frustration.
Riku just noticed Roxas speak out in pain; he was just about to ask him what happened but then felt a surge of pain enter his own mind. But unlike before, only one scene appeared in his mind. It had been set around the time he was very young and still wondering about the outside world. He could see in the scene of a towering man holding out the same Keyblade that Riku sees before him, and that he had placed a hand on it with determined expression. With that, Riku fell to his knees, losing consciousness within seconds of the scene appearing in his mind.
Roxas, on the other hand, caught sight of one last image. The image consisted of three friends smiling together as they gazed towards the sky above. A brown-haired, tall man; a dazzling, blue-haired woman; and a spiky blond-haired, young boy standing together peacefully. Roxas then began to lose consciousness himself, but was able to speak out three familiar names.
“Terra … Aqua … Ventus.” Roxas murmured sleepily, taking one last glimpse of the three Keyblades.
Just like Riku, Roxas fell to his knees wearily, unable to hold onto his consciousness any longer. Finally, his whole body dropped to the dusty ground and the whole of the Keyblade Graveyard disappeared into the distant darkness.


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