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Chapter LXIV: Apprehension

An enraged Maleficent fired a green bolt of energy from her scepter right at a magical mirror she summoned, shattering it instantly. As soon as she witnessed Hades’ defeat, she knew that her army was dealt a significant blow. If events continued the way it has, it would only be a matter of time before darkness becomes sealed again. Thus, if she wished to move towards victory, the mystery of Kingdom Hearts had to be solved right away.

Pacing around the balcony of her stronghold in Costa Island, Maleficent plotted out her next moves. At the moment, her two loyal Heartless commanders continued to pursue the mutinous Nobody commanders. Once Sarlix and Xymgrel are defeated, Maleficent knew that she can gain total control over the Nobodies. If she has control over all the Heartless and all the Nobodies—a thought that brought an ominous grin to the dark sorceress’ face—she will own the superior quantity of Heartless combatants and quality of Nobody warriors.

Waving her scepter through the smoggy air around her, Maleficent summoned a dark portal in the sky, introducing more Heartless into the world. Various poured out: basic Shadows, Soldiers, many Neoshadows and Large Bodies, numerous Armored Knights, Jazzes, Rhapsodies, and other unusual varieties.

If she were in the shoes of the opposing warriors of light, she would head to the nearest world plagued by darkness closest to the Olympus Coliseum. Again smirking at the thought, this time more so from her sinister cunning, Maleficent tore open another portal by her newly summoned Heartless army and ordered her underlings to traverse across the void to hinder her obstacles. Maleficent knew for a fact that this relatively large army would not be able to defeat the powers of the Keyblades, but she was certain that they would be able to at least temporarily interfere with Sora and his friends’ campaign.

Once Maleficent completed that task on her agenda, she had to figure out a way to access Kingdom Hearts once again, much like Xemnas did not too long ago. Her reign will be complete once she takes over Kingdom Hearts: the heart of all worlds.

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Hiding out in an abandoned library in an unmapped location, Sarlix and Xymgrel continuously browsed through books, articles, papers, and whatever pieces of information they have gathered over the period of their existence. Since when did they begin to feel the need to understand their being and how and why they have come into being, they do not know. As unfortunate as their tale may seem, the whole matter was intriguing for them.

For Sarlix, the split from her original self was nothing more than a blur. She was interested in the scientific portion of this process, of how her human form became the dual Heartless-Nobody entities. And because Xymgrel was born shortly after she was, she ceaselessly pried Xymgrel for information.

“It felt like my heart exploded,” he explained once before. “Like it was razed into millions of pieces and then ejected out of me.”

Sarlix put one hand on the left side of her chest, where her heart was supposed to be. There was no heartbeat. There was no flow. Here sorcery and darkness, the two aspects of this world that kept her existence in tact, bound her body.

“I don’t really remember much else,” admitted Xymgrel. “Or anything prior to that.”

“Well, I don’t even remember that part,” said Sarlix. “But now I can’t tell if remembering such memories is a good thing…”

Xymgrel flipped open a dusty, thick, leather-bound tome and let it drop onto a desk. He flipped through the first few pages, which contained primarily historical texts and lore about the heart of all worlds.

“Kingdom Hearts.”

Sarlix peeked over and skimmed a few lines for herself.

“We know that much,” she noted. “But keep that around, it may be useful at some point.”

Xymgrel closed the book and placed in a tall pile that the two Nobody commanders have collected during their strenuous research. There were still probably thousands of books lined across hundreds of bookshelves in the library they were in. It seemed to be in quite the remote location, as there was not a sound to be heard besides the occasional rustling of pages from books and tomes. It was a relaxing environment for the mind.

All these books and articles were written by researchers of light and darkness, people who were curious about these two invisible forces that run throughout the worlds. To Sarlix and Xymgrel’s amusement, Ansem himself wrote a majority of the books, along with some of his apprentices in their earlier days.

Still, many of their findings result in frustration. There have been numerous occasions in which Sarlix encountered the same lore each time she scanned through a different book or article. Most of the time it regarded past Keyblade-wielders, or some sort of darkness threat, and finally Kingdom Hearts. What irritated her the most was that there no explanations as to why everything repeatedly happened the way everything has happened. Each time, the story was for the most part the same, with few outlying events.

First, the powers of light and dark will be in equilibrium, completely balanced, and in peace. But darkness constantly tips the scales when the darkness in the hearts of living beings grows to be uncontrollable. Thus, the Heartless are born along with the Nobody halves.

When dark powers overcome the powers of light, several individuals are selected to handle the legendary Keyblades. Eventually, these warriors journey across the realms to combat the Heartless and seal the corrupted hearts from which the excess darkness was born.

Usually, the warriors will be successful in their missions and finally lock all the keyholes throughout several worlds, ridding the threats of darkness. Yet, in some occasions, hence the few outlying events, there will be individuals who strive on feeding on darkness, who stand to eliminate all signs of light. What was constant though, was that these individuals never seem to succeed. In time—and usually in a short period of time—the Keyblade-wielders fulfill their purposes and defeat individuals harnessed with the powers of darkness.

Xehanort. Organization XIII. Maleficent. If history constantly repeated itself, then how should the present and future be any different? The Heartless and Nobodies will once again sneak back into the shadows, sealed away by the might of the Keyblades. Maleficent will fall in defeat and the balance between light and dark will return to equilibrium.

But why has there always been a disruption in the balance? How come the light never seemed to be able to counteract the darkness? Was there a way?

Sarlix slammed shut another book that had proven to be useless to her once again. She put both hands over her forehead in frustration as she pondered the purpose of her existence over and over. Nearby, Xymgrel had already stopped his attempt in finding out more information regarding light and darkness. The both of them were born from darkness, separated from their human hearts because of the darkness within their weakened hearts. As regrettable, yet uncontrollable aspect of living things as darkness was, there had to be something to fight against it. That would have to be light.

Again, Sarlix groped her head in aggravation. She went in a complete circle. What she just considered was what had happened so many times throughout history.

“Your face looks like that Sora boy’s you constantly toyed with before,” Xymgrel idly commented.

“I know what he felt like,” spat Sarlix. “This is getting nowhere. Let’s go.”

“Ah, ah!” a voice called from outside.

Without thinking further and reacting by reflex, Sarlix and Xymgrel instantly got up from their seats and tore open a dark portal into the Corridors of Darkness. Without hesitating, they entered the void and vanished from the library, leaving no trace of their time spent there. Moments later, the library door splintered into two pieces and was bashed clear of the entranceway. Four eerie yellow eyes from two giant Heartless peered in, along with a familiar fat-bodied, cat-like character.

“Now whaddaya know,” said Pete, making a late entrance. “They’ve ditched us already.”

Grymox pivoted around and lifted Pete into the air by the bumbling villain’s collar. The Heartless commander’s glowing eyes radiated anger and threatening menace as Pete struggled to free himself.

If it weren’t for your oversized mouth,” Grymox warned. “They’d be decimated by now.

Let’s just slice him up now,” Syx suggested. “And tell the mistress this fool got into… a little accident.

“H-hey, now, wait!” Pete gasped in panic. “I didn’t do nothin’ harmful! Let’s talk about this ‘round teatime, huh—”

Grymox snorted and tossed the panicking Pete out of the library’s window. Syx, who had her bladed claws extended, ready to carry out her own cruel suggestion, growled in disappointment as her toy vanished from her sight.

Not even worth killing,” Grymox spoke telepathically. “Leave him. The idiot’s lost without us anyway.

Syx nodded in agreement and summoned another dark portal. The two Heartless commanders then left the library, continuing their pursuit of their Nobody halves.

Outside, Pete rolled around before spastically easing up onto his feet. At first, he wanted to cheer that he was free from the baleful Heartless commanders that struck him with incessant fear and torment, but when he realized that he was in the middle of nowhere—with not a mountain, pond, tree, or blade of grass in sight—without weapons, sustenance, or a stolen Gummi ship in his cache, he wanted to bury himself alive under the merciless sun.

“Now how do I get myself out of this here predicament,” Pete muttered to himself.

Perhaps Sora was correct when he considered Pete to be somewhat dim. However, after a period of wandering and experimenting, Pete realized something he should have a very long time ago.

“Forgot I could use darkness!” he yelled out loud, bashing his head in response to his stupidity.

Right away, Pete extended his big hands and forced open a similar portal that the Heartless and Nobodies summon and entered the void, traversing into another world unknown to him.

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Back in the Celsius, the crew decided to split up once more, allowing Sora and Kairi to deal with the crisis in Agrabah while Mickey, Donald, and Goofy scout for other signs of trouble. The party was much more comfortable with their situation after their episode around Olympus. They all mutually felt, including the ever-cautious King Mickey, that they were on the winning side of their exigent conflict.

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