Long ago before the conception of time…


Five omnipotent beings inhabit the the almighty sea of the cosmic horizon, debating for countless eternities on how will the universe will flourish. Throwing concept after concept, creation after destruction; with their power, countless universes have been conceived and worlds taken shape.


These beings were without a name, but known by their epithets that they had hailed upon each other…


The Diamond…

The Club…

The Spade…

The Heart…


And The Jest…


It was then one of them had violated the law of the cosmos, The Jest. This being’s mishap caused a chain of massive catastrophes that caused a great collapse of the flow of cosmos. Due to the derailing of the natural cycle, there were more universes flickering out of existence than those yet to take shape. And worse, some universes were just cease to exist abruptly in its prime.


Due to the resulting collapse, it took all of the beings’ effort to reconstitute the cycle. Though they succeeded, and The Jest itself lend its aid, the damage has been done. The four beings imprisoned the fifth and sealed its powers bound by a relic in a shape of a key. Some say The Jest even opposed them to the bitter end before being encapsulated in a prison of cosmic fire.


And then there was four…


As the concept of time finally took its first step, the Prison of Cosmic Fire cooled to become a massive solid celestial body. From this celestial body, the concept of life began its first crawl. Until finally, upon this ancient prison, dawned one of the prime worlds of mankind to take hold.


This however, displeased the majority of the four beings. For life to be born on a traitor’s ground was the greatest form of sacrilege. But not all of them shared the same zeal; The Heart finally stood its ground to oppose the majority.


Just as it hesitated on voicing its objection upon The Jest’s banishment, it decided that enough was enough. Being the one who created the Key that imprisoned The Jest, The Heart materialized an arsenal of Keys to combat the majority of the omnipotent beings. The Heart has called upon mankind to arm themselves to help wage war against the Spade, Club, and Diamond.


But even with their combined might and the blessing of The Heart, mankind was simply no match for the three almighty pillars of creation. On the verge of their destruction, The Heart used channeled all her powers to give birth to Light. And from the depths of the world that was once the prison of The Jest, The Heart gave form to Darkness.


From these two elements she forged two powerful Keys possessing the power of Light and Darkness. With her remaining strength, she fought the Pillars of Creation with a frail mortal body and two powerful weapons. After what seemed like eons, she finally emerged victorious but at a cost of the last of her ebb of life.


The two weapons shattered into thousands of pieces that landed on different parts of the world. Her body finally uniting with the soil itself, smiling on her last breath that she would be reunited with her dear sister, The Jest at last. With the Pillars of Creation finally vanquished upon the known realm, life flourished during the passage of time to what was once the ancient prison of the abstract being.


This is the world of Ecia…


Eons passed and the passage of time has reached its peak, the life has flourished upon the very soil of Ecia. Mankind has established from simple tribes, to proud kingdoms, to mighty empires that span throughout the land. An era of peace reigned for thousands of years; mankind united under the name of their savior, The Heart, whom they have hailed as the mother goddess Aluna.


It was also believed that as Aluna’s chosen, mankind has yearned to be with their goddess upon the the celestial realm, the believed to be the after-life of humanity, Kingdom Hearts. Upon Kingdom Hearts resided the golden throne of Aluna herself, where she would serve as queen and overseer of the hearts and souls of the departed. Of course, those whom had wronged his/her fellow men fall upon the anti-thesis of Kingdom Hearts, the Over-Void.


The Over-Void claims those departed whom has a heart tainted with darkness in which it assimilates and consumes it. It was derived from the which The Jest was imprisoned, some say even that The Jest feeds upon every corrupted soul it claims upon her realm of darkness. Some even say that the corrupted souls consumed were subjected to be reincarnated as a lowest of life forms.


But regardless, both Kingdom Hearts and the Over-Void kept the cosmic balance in check. Whether revered and feared by mankind, these two realms fulfilled their duties…


It was then after an era of peace, discord began to take root as humanity has discovered and unearthed the fragments of the Aluna’s Keys of Light and Darkness. The weapons the goddess had wielded during the ancient war against the Pillars of Creation. Each of these fragments bore power beyond human comprehension, fragments that when wielded, take the form of a Key---thus, these fragments were called the Keyblades.


The Keyblades granted its wielder incredible power worth a thousand men, the fortitude of mountain, and the force of a raging storm. Being the frail souls that they are, mankind succumbed to pride and greed. In order to gain more power, they perverted the Keyblades’ purpose to suit their own needs.


Those whom were succumbed to the seductive power of the Keyblades, became corrupted and consumed. Their flesh consumed by darkness and sights blinded by light, hearts stolen and souls trapped by the Keyblade’s power. They would become as the twisted creatures known as the Heartless; unclaimed by both the Over-Void and Kingdom Hearts, cursed to roam the mortal realm to terrorize the innocent.


Thus, the entire world of Ecia embroiled on a bloody turmoil. A global crisis that was known as, The War of Keys. A dark chapter of humanity that would span for hundreds of years, leaving a long trail of blood and death in its wake.


To restore peace once again, Kingdom Hearts and Over-Void finally intervened. Calling two of the remaining pure of hearts to end the war. The Champion of Light and Overlord of Darkness, both wielding respectively the replicas of Aluna’s weapons. The Champion restored the light whilst the Overlord vanquished the Heartless, finally bringing an end to the hundreds of years of bloodshed.


As both the Champion and Overlord fulfilled their duties, they then both vanished. The War of the Keys ended but humanity was now fractured; the Heartless still roam the land and more and more fragments of the Keys of Light and Darkness were still being found. The damage was already irreversible.


For the hundreds of years to come, humanity slowly rebuilding from the ashes…


Keyblade Wielders were treated as the elite, and were both highly regarded and feared. There were others that sought to use the power to serve their people, others sought to use it as they see fit, and the rest were just slowly corrupted on becoming a Heartless themselves. Among these people was Zenoch the Wise.


Zenoch believed that the War of the Keys’ sole purpose was for one of the Keyblade Wielders to collect 100 Keyblades to unlock doors to Kingdom Hearts. And once there, they will be granted one wish from the Goddess Aluna herself. Whether it will be humanity’s redemption, dominance, greed, or destruction, it will be granted in a heartbeat.


But alas, Zenoch died before he could fully realize this, his collected fragments scattered upon his last ebb of life as an intervention. Whether this was true or not, one cannot deny the mysterious power hidden within these fragments or Keyblades.


------------------------------------------------------


Chapter 1: The Hero That Never Was




To the western continent, the Kingdoms of Harthan, a city of trade, Durand. An eager merchant trainee carefully sets up his merchandise in preparation of the grand opening of his store. Today was the big day for him, he would finally take the examination to get his Artificer License courtesy of the Trade Guild.


He has failed the examination once the last time, but he was determined to pass it this time. Having read the books, training his body with a bit of swordsmanship, this young aspiring merchant spent 3 years preparing himself. And he should, because if he fails again this time, he will be denied of the license permanently as the Trade Guild denounces incompetence.


“I won’t fail this time! Just watch me, dad.”


He proclaimed himself as if speaking with his family photo in front of him, he was motivated and all fired up. Since his father’s passing, he had dreamed of becoming an Artificer Meister like him. To fail now, would be also failing not only his dreams but also his father; this young aspirant had a lot on his shoulders ever since inheriting his father’s shop.


“Lookout world! Reiz Altherson is out to get you!”


He declared himself whilst pointing his finger up, as if facing an imaginary audience. Looking at the clock, he finished packing up the things he needed for the test. Reiz has already passed the written exam, now it was time for the field test.


This was the last and hardest part of the test, the one that he failed in just last year. He was not able to even take the final part due to the run-in with his father’s debt collectors. Before passing on, Reiz’s father had to ask for a loan from some shady folks. He died before he could fully complete the payment.


With the business slow and sales weak, Reiz alone could not pay for the rest of the debt. Hence each day his debt kept racking on influence. Until that night before the final test, Reiz’s place was harassed by drunk loan sharks; he was badly beaten up and could not attend his license exam.


Ever since then, he had to persuade them to give him time to acquire his Artificer License. Reiz even offered to split his earnings with his father’s shop so that he could cope up with the debt. Although IF he fails to acquire his license, he had to surrender the shop to them.


“I won’t lose to them. Don’t worry, dad, I’ll get us out of this mess. Just watch over me…”


Donning his gauntlets, his greaves and some breastplate for protection, he prepped himself to the fullest. Armed with nothing but his wits, knowledge and sword, Reiz set out to the Trade Guild’s main branch building just beyond the market district. Along the way, he was greeted by various familiar faces, mostly fellow merchants, bidding him the best of luck.


The Marketplace was his playground, Reiz was quite a common face around this part of the city. He and his father would often stroll around to either buy some supplies for smithing or just chatting around with them. It may not be the grandest of places for a child, but Reiz grew to love it here because of the new and old faces he sees everyday.


---------------------------------------------------------------


Trade Guild Building, Main Lobby




“Uwaaah… so many applicants this year! Man… Competition’s gonna be rough.”


Reiz was shocked to see the bustling crowd of applicants gathering in the lobby. It was an amazing sight to see people that even came from other lands just so they could take the license exam. Intimidating yet quite the spectacle at the same time, Reiz was just as motivated as ever.


<“Thank goodness, I passed the written exams I can go pass this crowd no problem.”>


He thought as he made his way towards the front counter. Once there, he redeemed his pass and assignment scroll. Making his way out of the crowd again, he read the instructions on the scroll carefully.


<”Let’s see here… ‘Among 10 people, you are to acquire 1 Moonstone, 2 Cave Rodent fangs, and a Rockscargot Crag in the test area of Sleeping Caverns’… huh, 10 people?”>


At the end of the scroll, Reiz caught a slip of paper rolled in.


“Number 7? Oh so I have to party up with people with the same number as I am. Alright.”


Reiz slipped the paper unto his belt pouch and went outside. Again he was really overwhelmed on how many people have attended; it was so packed that the crowd even populated the courtyard. He craned his neck to search for the banner labeled as 7.


“Hmm… so many pe--ow!!!”,


“My my… Altherson.”


Reiz was searching for his supposed team when he was suddenly hit at the back of his head by a very familiar voice.


“U-Uno!?”


He called out the name of individual just behind him. Uno, the son of the debt collector, with his two muscled bodyguards. He was also the one who harassed him, the one responsible why he was not present in the last license exam.


“I’ll be damned, you were actually serious on getting that license. Here I thought you’re just making things up to dodge us again.”,


“Kuh… I gave your father my word. Besides, just what the hell are you--aargh!”


Before he could question Uno, Reiz was immediately held down by Uno’s bodyguards. Reiz could easily fight back, with the result of three years of training his body. But causing a scene may work against his favor instead of any good.


“Boys! Boys! Take it easy… he’s just curious why I’m here is all.”


In his whim, Uno’s bodyguards unhanded Reiz and pushed him towards Uno himself.


“Well as embarrassing as to say… Before I can take over the business, I have to take this cursed procedure. And lucky me, I found you.”,


“Wh--What do you want?”


Reiz’s voice trailed off as he asked the question. He could already tell from Uno’s expression that it cannot be something good. It was almost as if he regretted to ask that question.


“You are going to help me pass this test.”,


“...!”


From Uno’s pocket, he pulled out a paper slip and showed it to him. Reiz’s expression just slowly deformed into a shock. Uno’s number was 7, the same as he was, which would mean that they are both in the same team bound for the Sleeping Caverns.


“But why…? I’m working to pass this test so that I could settle the debt! You can’t just---hurrk!”


Before he could question him, Uno caught him off guard by pinching his throat, constricting his windpipe in the process.


“Listen… and listen good. You help me get the license, I’ll let you off and put a good word with my old man. Best case scenario? You may even released, scott-free!”


It was hard to listen to what Uno was saying with him pinching his throat, but Reiz did his best anyway. He knew if he fought back, Uno’s bodyguards were just a few steps away from him, ready for him to be put down in front of this crowd. And Reiz knew better that Uno’s family basically controls the majority of Durand from the shadows that they even have the city’s governor under their belt.


“A--and---if I refuse?”,


“Heheh, I thought you’d be the type of guy to ask that. Okay then, let’s just say… my father won’t like it when the space you’re living in is reduced to a pile of bonfire. My boys are just waiting outside your shop the minute you left.”


Uno’s smile crept into a mocking smug. He was basically saying he would go as far as to burn Reiz’s livelihood to the ground. And since his shop was on Uno’s family’s property, if the shop gets reduced into a pile of smoldering debris, Reiz will be devoid of the chance to be free from the debt collectors; in other words, Reiz would have to work as the debt collector’s slave.


“Okay! Okay! I acc--ept! Gah…!”


As soon as he gave his answer, Reiz burst into a coughing fit as he was released.


“Good! Now boys! Go rejoin the others and tell them to wait for me. Me and my friend, Reiz, will take care of this business.”


Uno ordered his bodyguards away while he forcibly dragged Reiz about. As they met up with the rest of the Expedition Group 7, Reiz’s built up motivation from earlier now completely washed up. His mood went from cheery and optimistic to just all gloom and dread; he was determined to get his Artificer License, but now he was out to help someone undeserving of it.


As the group finally set off to their destination, questions clouded over Reiz’s mind. How did it even come to this? All he ever wanted was to follow his father’s footsteps of becoming a Artificer Meister. And this was his opportunity, but in an instant it was jumped on by someone he would least expected.


------------------------------------------------------


Durand Outskirts, Sleeping Cavern Entrance




After 2 hours of trekking the outskirts, the participants finally arrived at the Trade Guild’s test site. The Sleeping Caverns have been used by the Trade Guild as an official mining site for materials. And to date, at least 4 levels of the cavern stratum has been marked by the Trade Guild; commonly traversed areas fit for material gathering and exploration.


But the levels beyond the fourth stratum of the cave were still being investigated and explored. It was forbidden to the members of the Trade Guild and other explorers to go beyond the fourth stratum. As of recent, reports of explorers and guild agents who went beyond the fourth level of the caverns were either missing or killed by unknown creatures that lurk deep within the cave abyss.


After taking the mining cart towards the first stratum of the caverns, the participants began their scavenger hunt. They split up, venturing unto all four strata of the cave network. And of course, Uno was right behind Reiz, whom was doing all the work for him.


Across the first and second strata, Reiz and Uno easily procured 4 of the Cave Rodent fangs. Since Cave Rodents are a common pest in the caverns, it was easiest one on the list. And as usual, even though Cave Rodents were easy to kill, Uno just stepped aside the whole time, while Reiz fend off a swarm of them.


Next was the Rockscargot’s Crag, which was a bit tricky to acquire. Rockscargots were large cave-dwelling slugs with stalactite shells that were common in the lower strata. They can grow from as small as a pebble, to as big as a boulder the size of a wagon.


What made the acquisition tricky was whenever a Rockscagot spots a threat, it can burrow itself unto the ground with amazing speeds. Reiz had to acquire the crag from a sleeping one without problem. He did not mind if Uno were to step aside from this one either.


“Okay… let’s check our list.”


As Reiz sort out the list, they ventured further into the fourth stratum. After doing all this, the stress he had earlier seem to have finally left his shoulders. He did not at all felt bad that he had Uno with him, at least he had experienced what he originally came here for; with one more item left, it would be done soon over with.


<”He and I get the license, he puts out a good word for me. It’s not that bad of a deal when I think about it.”>


With a heavy sigh, he felt his optimism coming back to him. Just one more, one more and this day will be all behind him. After some difficult trekking, the two finally arrived at the fourth stratum.


“So what now, Reiz? Geez… This place is dark and deserted.”


Uno complained as the eerie atmosphere of the fourth stratum welcomed them. The stratum was deserted, and would seem like they were the only participants who made it there. Although the paths were lit by torches provided by the Trade Guild, the way ahead was nothing but impenetrable darkness.


“The Moonstone Ore. From what I’ve read, it should be around the fourth and some on the third stratum. The fourth is our best bet at the moment.”


Reiz grabbed his makeshift torch, made from Wicker Oak and Tinder Ivy from his belt and lit it using one of the nearby torches.


“Just look for a rock with yellow specks or crags on it. That should be our objective.”,


“Why do I have to look too?”,


“Not asking you to get it, just keep an eye out and just let me do the rest.”,


“Grrr… fine.”


Uno grumbled as he forced himself to agree upon him. Uno was such a spoiled brat that just keeping an eye out was too much of a chore. Reiz kept his torch up to illuminate the path ahead.


“Wait! Over there!”,


“H-Hey! Don’t just run off!”


After what seemed like an hour, Uno spotted something at the distance. Excited, he took off ahead of Reiz and went to the direction of what he saw. Reiz hurriedly followed suit, keeping his torch up to light the way.


“Is this it? It’s huuuuge!”,


“It is. Hold on let me just get the tools.”


Reiz put down his pouch and bag and hurriedly took out his utilities.


“Forget the tools! Let’s just take it off the ground like so!”


Noticing the Moonstone boulder’s wobbly base, Uno impatiently shook it back and forth to try and pluck the boulder out.


“Wait! D-Don’t do that! You’re gonna---aaaah!!!”,

“Wahhh…!!!”


As soon as Uno removed the lodged Moonstone boulder off the ground, the entire floor that they were standing on caved in. Sending the two both down beyond the fourth stratum. They did not know how deep did they fell, but it felt like they just slid 2 levels down.


“Argh…”,


“Ugh… dammit!”


Reiz and Uno got up from that nasty fall with thankfully just bruises. After dusting themselves up, the two looked around the darkness that they were in. Reiz still have his torch, and thankfully the flame was still lit due to the resilient flammable properties of the Tinder Ivy.


“Where the hell are we?”


Uno clicked his tongue and looked around while Reiz held up his torch above his head to measure their fall.


“We must have fell 3 strata down---maybe two. The debris we fell on is a slope, I think we can climb up here.”,


“Hey Reiz! Look at this!”,


“Uno, what are you doing!? We need to get out of here now!”,


“Shut up for a moment! Give me that torch!”,


“What are you--hey!”


Climbing up the debris slope, Uno quickly snatched the torch from Reiz’s hand. He went down the slop as Reiz followed him. Reiz was bent on getting out as soon as they can, but Uno seemed curious about something.


“What the… it’s a solid pathway.”


As soon as Reiz touched the bottom of the debris slope, he felt the smooth floor made out of Moonstone bricks. It was too dark to see what was ahead of them, but they knew that this place was out of the ordinary. Even with the torch, it was still pitch black ahead.


“What the--whoaaa..!!!”


As Reiz reached out front of him, he felt like he pushed brick into the wall. As he did the entire area began to quake, knocking them both off-balance. As the tremor stop, suddenly, multiple purple torches began illuminating one by one; until the entire area was now distinguishable to the human eye.


“Whoa…”


Uno could only gasp in amazement to what lied before them. They were inside an ancient infrastructure, a massive unearthed ruins buried beneath the earth itself. The once proud structure laid out its former glory upon these unsuspecting explorers.

“Come on, Reiz!”,


“Wait up!”


The two then ventured further within what seemed like a massive hall of some kind. From the walls of the ruins, ancient stone mural carvings depicting the imagery of the origin of the world of Ecia. From the Pillars of Creation, to the banishment of the abstract entity, The Jest, to the uprising or The Heart or also known as the goddess Aluna herself.


“It must be some kind of an ancient tomb…”


Reiz carefully inspected the sculpture mural’s detail and depiction.


“Oh it’s a dead end--wait… what is that?”


Reaching the other end of the ruins, Uno spotted something at the distance. It did not take long before Reiz noticed it too. From the distance, they spotted a bright blue well of energy with a giant black sphere floating above it.


And from beyond the mysterious object, a tall colossus embedded unto the collapsed wall depicting a woman bound in chains. The statue easily towered over them, and must be the size of a three-story building. The way that colossus was sculpted, it was as if it was alive; so life-like in fact that from a distance it looked like an actual giantess sleeping.

“Is that…?”


What caught their attention was the thing that was lodged unto the colossus’ chest.


“A Keyblade?”,


“Do you have a rope with you, Reiz? I’m gonna try and get that Keyblade off.”,


“Are you crazy!? Look we need to get out of here, now. I really have a bad feeling about thi--oof!”


Before he could protest, he felt Uno’s fist hit him square on the jaw. As he fell, Uno grabbed him by his collar and faced him. Uno faced Reiz with eyes brimming with anger.


“You see this is why you’re still at the bottom of the barrel, Reiz. You’re too cautious for your own good. Too blind to seize an opportunity even when it’s right in front of you! Give me that!”


Pushing Reiz’s injured back to the floor, Uno quickly nabbed him of his rope. Throwing the hook up on the colossus’ shoulder, Uno climbed up the statue and reached for his goal, the lodged Keyblade on the statue. As he began to wobble the Keyblade loose, the entire place began to shake again.


“Uno! Get off that now!”,


“Shut up!”


Despite Reiz’s protest, Uno just hurriedly loosened the Keyblade off the colossus. As the hall violently quaked, Reiz noticed the bright blue well just across the statue began to blink. And then, from the falling debris, the floating black sphere began channeling all of it around it.


“Uno! Look out!!!”,


“...!”


Uno finally snapped in attention in front of him. From the collected rock debris with the black sphere as its core, formed two massive hands. Then from the blue well, formed its base and head. A Stone Golem roared to life, the guardian of this underground ruin.


“Tch!”


Forcing his body to get up, Reiz drew his sword as the stone sentinel lifted its massive fist to rid of the trespasser on the colossus.


“Hrrraaaagh!”


Reiz tightened his grip on his blade and aimed for the sentinel’s base. Reiz’s strike somehow chipped off one of the debris that comprises its base. The blow was enough to make the sentinel flinch, diverting its attention on Reiz instead.


“Yeah that’s it! Just follow me.”


Reiz smirked as he got his objective, he figured he could buy Uno enough time to climb down. Enraged, the sentinel began slamming its fists in attempt to pulverize the trespasser. Luckily the construct’s movements were slow enough for Reiz to evade the onslaught.


Sliding to the side, Reiz kept his pace. But due to his injuries, he may not last long. He took a quick glance back at Uno and he was still at it to get the Keyblade rather than just running away.


“Dammit, Uno! Just forget about that and run! I can’t keep this up forever!”,


“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!!! I don’t care!”


Apparently Reiz’s pleas fell on deaf ears, Uno was stubborn, he valued the Keyblade more than he valued his own life.


“Dammit… I need to think of something…!”


Reiz grunted as he bit through the strain his injured body was taking. As soon as the sentinel threw its next punch, he took the opportunity to evade it then dart towards the base again. Building up momentum, he held his sword up and aimed for the base.


“...!”


But as soon as he closed it, his instincts sent an electric shock unto his senses and looked up. Jumping back, he evaded its stone fist that was meant to crush him once he reached the target. The maneuver shook him for a split-second, his senses became dull for a moment.


“Guuwagh!”


Unable to react fast enough, he was rammed by an incoming attack that sent him flying to the nearby pillar. Reiz was equipped with armor but he took the full brunt of the impact. He felt his limbs numb as he slid down the pillar unto his knees.


“Agh… Aagh…”


Breathing heavily, he vomited blood as he staggered. His mind was numb, his body numb, only his instinct remained alive. He tried to focus on his blurred vision ahead of him, from the distance, he could see that the sentinel was going for the final blow.


“No… Not now…”


He could only say to himself as his senses begged for his body to move. Clenching his fist and gritting his teeth, he summoned his last strength that he had on his body. Body gushing out of his mouth he braced himself for the incoming attack.


“Hrrrraaaaaaaggghhh….!!!”


As the sentinel threw the punch, Reiz roared to life. With a surge of adrenaline, he traversed up the sentinel’s craggy limb and then jumped with his blade up. He stabbed the exposed part of the sentinel’s core on its shoulder area with his blade.


“Tch…!”


The sentinel tried to shake Reiz off its shoulder but he held on while pushing his blade blade deeper unto the core. It tried to punch him off but Reiz dodged it, resulting the sentinel to damage itself. Unfortunately, before Reiz’s blade could penetrate the center of its core, the blade was snapped in two.


“Grrr…!”


Reiz still held on while avoiding the sentinel’s assault. At this point, he’s using the construct itself to detroy itself. Holding on to its eyeholes, Reiz’s hands were being burned by the blue energy the core was leaking.


“..!”


Then from behind them, he was startled by the sudden emergence of a bright light.


“Uno…!”


He exclaimed as he saw him finally wielding the Keyblade that was lodged on the massive sculpture. Uno’s eyes were glowing like two lightning orbs, while being enveloped by a bright aura. Just by looking at him, Reiz felt the overwhelming pressure his aura emitted.


As Uno set his sights upon the stone sentinel, he pointed his Keyblade at it and began channeling energy on its tip. Even with the Keyblade, Uno disregarded the fact that Reiz was still on the sentinel. Before Uno could attack, Reiz immediately jumped off the massive construct.


“WWAAARGH…!”


He fired a massive beam of lightning unto the stone sentinel, obliterating into an explosion. The explosion sent Reiz flying, it was a more powerful than the full-brunt of the sentinel’s punch. In the resulting explosion, Reiz was buried by the falling debris of both the sentinel and the ruins itself.


“This power… it’s everything I ever wanted! Ahahaha!”


Emerging from the cloud of smoke, Uno felt the ecstasy of raw power coursing through his veins. He felt light as a feather, and stronger than a combined might of a hundred battalions. He looked back then just scoffed at the pile of debris before him.


Using his newly-found powers, Uno flew through the cave-in, instantly arriving at the fourth stratum where they fell. As he landed, he found the bag of materials Reiz used to carry. It contained everything they had acquired during the test.


“Well then… Reiz, I must thank you for accomplishing this much for me. But just to be sure...”


Uno once again materialized his newly-acquired Keyblade in hand. He channeled its power and fired two shots from the support pillars over the cave-in. The debris collapse covered the hole, sealing the entrance to that place completely.


“Hey you! Expedition 7, right?”


As soon as Uno was about to leave, he was met by two of the Trade Guild officers.


“We received the report of a cave-in here at stratum four, are you okay?”,


“Huh… uh… yes, I barely made it out.”


Uno just decided to play along as the victim. It would seem that nobody was aware yet of the situation. The two guild officers just sighed with relief and lead Uno to the cavern surface.


“Man… with that damage, we would have to close down the fourth stratum indefinitely.”,


“You said it. Too bad the fourth stratum was a large Moonstone deposit. Prices are gonna skyrocket!”


The two guild officers conversed as they drove the mine cart towards the surface. Meanwhile, Uno just kept looking back with smirk on his face. It had been quite the lucky break for him; with the possession of a powerful Keyblade in his hands, the world can burn for all he cared.


“Hey kid.”,


“Yeah?”,


“Were there anyone else with you in the fourth stratum when it collapsed?”,

“Nope… Just me alone. Juuuuust me…”


He did not looked at the officer as he responded, he just kept his view looking back with his arm leaning on the seat. The officer just shrugged his response as a result of shock. He came in with nothing and came back with something more…


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------


From the buried unknown stratum, a rough clattering of rocks can be heard from a nearby pile of debris. Followed by the sound, a slight movement from ruins. And then finally from debris, a hand emerged.


“Gah!”


Covered in dust, blood and dirt, Reiz emerged out of the debris. It had been quite some time now has passed, he spent the hours just digging through the dirt. He was half-conscious due to the lack of air as he crawled out.


Slowly, he threw himself out of the pile unto the solid floor. As he did, the blood from his wounds spilled into a puddle. He was losing a lot of blood, he was getting more and more lightheaded by the second.


Carefully, he removed his breastplate and his top. Assessing his injuries, he found the wounds were on his chest and lower belly. He did not have anything to wash it, so he had to somehow stop the bleeding first. Reiz tore his shirt into pieces using only his teeth and made it into a makeshift dressing to put pressure on the wounds.


He was still lightheaded but he made it through. As he slowly stood up, he caught the sight of the entrance of the hall now blocked by an impenetrable wall of debris. He fell on his knees as he realized the hopelessness he was in.


“Why…?”


A question just escaped his breath.


“’Why?’ Hmhm… that’s one way to assess the situation~”,


“..! What--w-who’s there…?”


Just then, Reiz heard a distant, disembodied voice. As if jolted awake, he stood and inspected his surroundings. Soon, the entire hall was wracked with a deathly chill; breeze from an unknown source cold enough to make it seem like he was at the height of winter season.


“More questions…? Mhm… You are a curious one aren’t you?”,


“Agh…”


Reiz was too fatigued to panic and and too injured to even move. He reached for his broken sword and held it in stance while he was kneeling. Taking deep breaths, he tried to calm himself down.


“Oh? Injured and still you point your broken weapon at something you are not even aware of? You are certainly one curious mortal.”


It was then the voice made itself known. A swirl of a mist of shadows materialized before Reiz, dancing around in a beautiful spiral pattern like an eye of the storm. From the blanket of darkness, materialized a sultry feminine silhouette.


Her hair and dress were like the twilit night sky; her complexion pale as the purest of snow; her presence was statuesque that a even goddess would be envy of. Her claws and armor where akin to black diamonds with its glistening ebony shine. And her seductive profile and expression were absolute to take any being, god or mortal, submit unto her wiles.


“I am Omnia Methuselah, ever-present mother of the Over-Void…”,


“Mother of the Over---wait a minute…”,


“I am THE JEST! Mhmhm…”


Omnia raised both her arms and in an instant her mere shadow eclipsed the entire area, like a cosmic raven unfurling her wings.


“But… You’re supposed to be sealed away! How can you…”,


“Oh your meddling brat of a companion helped me get rid of that pesky relic my sister has made.”,


“Th-Then…”


Reiz looked back at the colossus, where the Keyblade was originally lodged into. His eyes went wide when he found the massive sculpture missing. As he looked back at Omnia, she bared her torso upon him to see the gaping hole where the Keyblade originally was. With her healing, she closed up the eons-old wound of hers as if it was never there.


“Oh but removing that relic was only the first step of my resurrection… You see, in order to complete my reawakening, I require the blood of the purest of hearts.”,


“Which would mean, It was mine…”,


“You are correct.”


Reading his mind, Omnia responded in agreement. Looking at the puddle of blood he had spilled earlier, it was now gone. Of course Reiz was bleeding during his escape from the pile of debris.


“Wha…What are you gonna do to me? Am I---going to die? Is the Over-Void…”,


“If I willed it, you would have already. Now--ara?”


Before Omnia could voice her response, she immediately noticed something amiss. Reiz has passed out kneeling due to blood loss, his eyes were still open yet devoid of consciousness. Omnia approached the unconscious Reiz and let him lie down her lap.


“Ah… mortals bodies are so feeble, yet so curious. I see a fire within you, I won’t let you depart just yet…”


With her delicate touch, she closed his eyelids and let him rest as her powers mend his wounds.

“...sleep well… my love…


-----------------------------

To Be Continued...