There is nothing simplistic in life. There is no life without death, no winning without losing, no hope without despair. There is no light without darkness. There is no peace without war.
No war can be fought without losing the things that one holds dear to him. His most cherished possessions can be stripped from him in the blink of an eye; his family, cease to exist at the snap of a finger. Love becomes anguish; despair becomes hatred. Such has the nature of war ever been. The good who maintain their will to fight lose themselves in the passion of the battle, falling victim to the villain within, perhaps irrevocably. The evil persist, believing their motives, if not their actions, to be good. The lines of morality are blurred and soon lost in the shuffle of bodies slowly building on either side.
For in war, there is no such thing as good or evil. It is simply a matter of who is the strongest, the most thorough in detecting and exploiting the weaknesses of their enemies. It is not a matter of wills, but a matter of actions. Wars are not always won by those with good intentions. In the end, intentions are of little importance to the survivors in light of the fact that they are still living at all.
War is not about whose intentions are purest. War is about who is left when the slaughter ends.
Yet wars are still fought, and they shall be so long as there is something worth fighting for. Even something that no one man could ever control.
Kingdom Hearts: The Keyblade War
Radiant Garden. There was no world among the stars that exuded light so brilliantly, so completely. It was no wonder that everywhere she went, people spoke of this world as though it was some kind of paradise. In a sense, she supposed it was. People lived free from care here, far from the war that was currently waging across multiple worlds. Darkness couldn’t seem to stretch its fingers quite this far. True to its name, the world radiated light, as did its inhabitants. They lived carefree lives, undaunted and basking in the knowledge that everyone else could only wish they were so lucky. Darkness was a distant threat and something unworthy of their attention. Their world would never be conquered or ruled by something so contemptible.
Or so they thought.
As Llyndellia looked down upon them all from her lofty perch atop the castle’s highest tower, disdain colored her features more noticeably than the early afternoon sun. They were all so naďve, so blind as to what was really happening. The darkness was already within them, clutching their insides with just as much potency as it did their enemies. They hated that darkness with every fiber of their being, allowing them to become haughty as they fooled themselves into believing that their world was immune.
That they were safe.
In reality, no one was safe. They never were. The darkness would have its day here, possibly even sooner than anyone could have imagined. After all, she had followed it here, hadn’t she? Llyndellia had followed that dark aura from world to world, unwaveringly yet inconspicuously, allowing them to do her work for her. The dark wielders she had been tracking were seeking the same thing she was. Working with them was indubitably out of the question; keeping an eye on them made her task easier.
Let them hunt for the entrance to that most sacred of places. Let them think that they could take Kingdom Hearts for their own. They were fools. When they found that door, the fighting would begin. It was said that no one man could control Kingdom Hearts, yet Llyndellia was willing to bet her Keyblade and every last one of her possessions that each one would be vying for their chance to make the attempt. In spite of all they had been through together in their search, they would turn against each other; they would argue and fight amongst themselves. In due course, they would take each other’s lives to keep anyone else from claiming what they so desperately desired: to be more than what they were.
When that finally happened, Llyndellia would be there to step over the fallen imbeciles and claim Kingdom Hearts for her own. Not that she truly wanted it for the reasons they did. As soon as she found what she was looking for within its depths, she couldn’t care less what happened next.
For now, on the other hand, she would watch and wait. Keeping the dark wielders a world ahead of her was always the goal, but this had been too interesting to pass up. One of them had left something rather valuable behind in the last world she’d pursued them to: a journal. They had found it, or so they thought—the entrance to Kingdom Hearts. Darkness could only exist in conjunction with light; a world with an overabundance of light must also have an overabundance of darkness.
Could this world be where the hearts of all worlds were connected? For her part, Llyndellia seriously doubted it. Who had ever said that Kingdom Hearts was filled with darkness, anyway? Yet a strong enough light might indicate the presence of more than one—perhaps enough to fill the night sky. Whether they found it or not, the possibility was certainly undeniable, and one worth exploring.
So she would wait. The dark wielders would do her work for her.
. . .
Radiant Garden. A hole brimming with that despicable light. The inhabitants of this world adored it, practically worshipped it. How could they be so naďve, so blind to the fact that they were truly imprisoned by it?
Darien stared around him in disgust, taking in the scenery as though everything was a personal affront. Happiness. Contentment. Confidence. Security.
Man, were they dumb. Every last one of them believed that they were safe here, thought the war would never reach their doors. No, not their precious world; there was too much light here for that nonsense. It would purge the darkness and allow them all to live carefree lives, or so they thought. Yet it wasn’t the darkness that was smothering them, forcing them to be what they weren’t. None of them were truly happy—he knew that now. The unfortunate part was that they couldn’t look within themselves and realize it.
Scoffing at the sound of laughing children, Darien jerked his head toward the gates at the end of the outer gardens. Two of his men nodded and left to gauge their situation. He had sent others ahead nearly a week ago; they should have something to report by now. All he could hope was that they would have enough information to make their search a little easier. The less time they spent hunting for their quarry, the better; they were already receiving a few slightly suspicious looks from the inhabitants of this world who could sense that they weren’t like everyone else.
Darkness was like a disease here. No one wanted to risk catching it.
Smiling politely at a woman who was staring at him with narrowed eyes, Darien slipped his hands into his pockets and followed the other two men nonchalantly, trying not to draw attention to the small group of dark wielders. The woman shook off her suspicions and returned the smile tentatively, the apology evident in her eyes. She was truly sorry for thinking he was one of them, the monsters terrorizing worlds so far from her own. It was an apology for thinking he was one of those darkness-wielding abominations she could only imagine, given that it was unlikely they would ever make it to Radiant Garden.
The apology was unnecessary. That was, after all, exactly what he was.
Darien stopped in the shadow of the gate, the small band of his remaining members coming to a halt along with him. When he was sure no one would overhear, he turned to them with a smirk.
“Sharp eyes, gentlemen. Sharp senses. The light reeks pretty badly in this world, so pay attention for anything that doesn’t have that same stench. It will lead us to what we’re looking for, or at least something we can use to find it.”
They were hanging on his every word, the lust shining in their nods and grins. It gave Darien a good feeling as they slowly dispersed, everyone moving in different directions to cover as much ground as possible. A part of him thought they were following another lead to yet another dead end, though. Radiant Garden would be too easy a location to guess if the right people were in charge; Kingdom Hearts should have been found ages ago if it were here.
Still, there was no knowing until they checked. And regardless, there were still a few things that could be accomplished today…
“Let’s go,” he ordered the two men who had stayed with him, heading toward the center of the city.