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Chapter II: The Darkness Returns

“Huh, scattered papers like garbage. I heard these are supposed to be highly respected and treasured reports.”

On a remote archipelago?an unconnected world separate from all other worlds?lies a palace resembling museum, isolated by rivers and Gothic stonewalls. The broad-shouldered Gylmer collected thirteen sheets of paper that were scattered across the museum-library’s tiled floor and placed them back into a glass case, which he carefully placed onto a nearby shelf. Every so often, friendly, inquisitive travelers from outside worlds visit the Temple Key Museum?which, to the scholastic travelers’ delights; holds artifacts, treasures, and countless attractions collected from a myriad of worlds. Gylmer was one of four museum staffs, though he was one who worked day in and day out to his full potential.

Late into the seasons, the museum’s library becomes off limits to outside travelers. The woman in charge of library admissions was Silra, who, to much confusion of the other staff members, recently vanished. Consequently, Gylmer tentatively accepted the second job when no other staff members volunteered. The library, chiefly Gothic themed much like the rest of the Temple Key Museum, though off-limits in the late seasons to typical tourists, operated as a research facility for registered scientists or scholars.

Gylmer just stepped down from his stool when he heard the library’s main gates open and close. Now who could that be? Gylmer mentally asked himself. He quickly walked towards the lobby of the library, muttering, as it was late at night and he spent nearly the entire day organizing. The vacant halls echoed with Gylmer’s heavy footsteps, the sounds eerily rising with magical crescendos then falling into silence. Gylmer passed by a wall lamp, where he caught a glimpse of a small, solitary shadow, not of his, darting from the edge between the floor and the wall into a small crevice, vanishing from sight. The fleeting image did not bother Gylmer, as the bulky librarian continued his way to the library gates. He looked around the lobby for the unexpected visitor.

“Who’s there?” he called. “The museum’s library is closed and off-limits to tourists. Check back next season!”

Gylmer waited a moment for an answer back, or for some sign of the visitor. “I can charge you for intrusion! Show yourself!”

“Calm yourself, I am merely a curious investigator…” a baleful voice sounded from behind Gylmer.

Gylmer spun around and found himself facing a robed, cloaked, and caped figure, all in black, most likely a woman. Her face was hidden from view, covered by a large hood and a black mask. In one hand she held a scepter of some sort, maybe a magic wand. In the other hand, she held a box, to what contents it held, was unknown. At first Gylmer took a couple of steps backwards upon the sight of the mysterious guest, but when no threats seemed to unveil, Gylmer loosened his muscles and took a breath of relief.

“What?err?who are you? How did you get through the locked gates?” stammered Gylmer.

The visitor wrapped her cape around her and answered. “My name is of no importance. As of how I entered… I have my methods.” She let out a displeasingly sounding cackle.

Gylmer frowned and asked suspiciously, “Why are you here?”

“I already said, I am just a curious investigator?”

“What are you here for?”

“?looking for certain?”

“?I need verification, or at least some sort of?”

“?you need nothing, my dear host.”

Gylmer frowned again, annoyed by the lack of cooperation he was receiving. He crossed his arms and decided to approach the matter in a different way. Walking past the masked woman, Gylmer motioned his hands for the mysterious guest to follow. “We’ll take a seat. I will allow you to do whatever research you wish to do, as long as you answer my questions.”

The enigmatic woman tilted her head and tapped her staff on the ground while in a pondering state. “Intriguing… I accept your offer. Ask away.”

Gylmer eyed his intruder suspiciously, as if he was prepared to interrogate her. He cleared his throat and began, “Answer this: Why or for what did you come here for?”

“Certain attractions interest me,” she released an irreverent sounding chuckle. “I know most certainly that they are here.”

“What exactly would these ‘attractions’ be that interest you?” Gylmer asked carefully.

The visitor chuckled again. “I would prefer to show you what interests me by finding these ‘items.’ Accompany me if you wish.” Before another word, the visitor stood up and headed for the elevators, apparently heading to the upper levels?the actual museum. Gylmer spastically got out of his seat and pursued the peculiar guest.

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Much like a festival, the welcome-back party for Sora, Riku, and Kairi included food, music, activities, and bustled with guests from around the islands. At sunset, the trio sneakily wandered away from the party and strolled to the shorelines and unwound on the sands. Looking out into the horizons was a favorite pastime of the three friends; Sora tossed flat stones across the water, Riku stood coolly by a sturdy coconut tree, and Kairi sat and relaxed on the beach. All three of them occasionally glanced across the ocean into the sun.

Sora threw one last stone, which skipped a dozen times across the surface of the water. He sighed and turned back to his friends. “I can’t believe everything’s back to normal. Don’t you think it’s kinda weird?”

Riku kicked off from his coconut tree. “Are you asking me? I don’t find it weird. I find it pretty satisfying. No more problems, no more worries.”

“Kairi?” Sora asked. “How about you?”

Kairi smiled and stood up. “I told you guys already. I’m just glad you’re both safe and back home.”

“Well, yeah. But don’t you miss the action and the feelings of adventure?” Sora continued. “Anyway, I do. I wouldn’t mind setting off again.”

Kairi grimaced, but Riku laughed quietly. “Getting bored already? Haha, what did I tell you? We’re explorers, adventurers?” Riku exclaimed. “Living on some islands for the rest of our lives just won’t cut it.”

Kairi sat down on the sand again and let out a long, dreary sigh. Sora caught a sign and asked, “What’s up, Kairi?”

She hugged her knees together and mumbled something. Sora looked at Riku for answers, but Riku did nothing more than shrug his shoulders indicating something like, “Ehh.”

“Kairi? Come on, what’s wrong?” Sora asked again.

After a dull minute and a disorienting silence, Kairi perked her head up and said, “If you guys ever set off this island again, make sure you two don’t go without me, okay?”

Sensing a change in mood, Sora took advantage of the moment and responded quickly, “Uh, of course not, Kairi! Whatever made you think that you’d be abandoned?”

“Yeah, Kairi, we’re not that heartless…”

Sora winced at Riku’s last word, but shook off the feeling. “Yeah… we’re not, Kairi. We’ll take care of you.”

Kairi beamed, “Thanks, guys.”

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Gylmer patiently accompanied the odd woman through the Temple Key Museum. Instead of further questioning, a tactic in which he ultimately gave up, Gylmer decided to just await the outcome of the episode. It can’t be too bad, can it? he mentally inquired. The two people suddenly halted in their tracks when the cloaked visitor triggered a green spark in her wand and shown the dark light across a wall. Gylmer raised his eyebrows in question,nothing interesting hung from the selected wall besides four key-shaped blades and twenty or so key chains. However, the visitor seemed to be very interested in the weapons.

“However did you manage to acquire these blades?’ she asked.

Gylmer didn’t know whether or not he should say anything, but he decided talking wouldn’t hurt anyone. “They were donated. By a king.”

The visitor examined every weapon, skimming the golden description plaques under each weapon. “Yes…” she whispered to herself. “The Kingdom key chain… Star Seeker… the Oblivion, Gullwing, ah, even the Ultima chain… yes, yes…” she laughed menacingly. “The Keyblades and their key chains.”

“The what’s?” Gylmer spat. “Who the heck are you? You’re an insane sorceress?that I know, but what do you want? Answer me! I’ve just about lost my patience with you!”

Hood down and unmasked, the sorceress turned to Gylmer, her yellow eyes jarringly fluorescent, two horn-like devilish adornments settling on her head, her narrow chin pointing out. Her cloak and robes now hung smoothly over her entire figure. She dragged herself slowly to Gylmer and hissed, “And I’ve just about had it with your stupid questions! I’ve come for something… and it is not materialistic?”

“Who… are you?” Gylmer sputtered.

The dark sorceress cackled amusingly, her screech echoing off the museum walls. She turned her back to Gylmer, waved her wand twice through the air, and closed her eyes. Gylmer, frozen in place, as if his boots were cemented and fused with the floorboards, helplessly watched. In less than a minute, several hollow shadows began appearing on the walls and the floor of the museum, the same shadows that Gylmer noticed not a long while ago. He started to sweat as he noticed the shadows rise out of the ground and take shape into slender pitch-black entities with looming yellow eyes.

“Come my Neoshadows,” she opened her eyes and turned back to the terrified Gylmer, “I am Maleficent. These are my Heartless. Care to join? I have a feeling that you are quite capable and quite fond of combat…”

Gylmer, still frozen in place, strained as best as he could do move, but to no avail. Maleficent let out another evil laugh as she and her Heartless closed in on the victimized librarian. “In a matter of time, you will no longer be Gylmer, the librarian. You will be Grymox, my Heartless commander. And I shall find your Nobody and take control of him as well,” Maleficent lifted her wand, ready to cast a spell. “I had a colleague of yours waiting… Silra, was it?”

Maleficent smirked when she noticed Gylmer’s horrified expression. “Now she is Syx, a Heartless commander like you will be soon!”

Gylmer roared in contempt as Maleficent pointed her deadly wand at his chest.

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