For the thief a city was a grand store of treasure and if he could find purchase to put his foot in the door, he would do so. Tall buildings, small and industrious shops were often a good score for a hungry thief that looked too scruffy to hire on any important job. This was not his first time in Hollow Bastion, nor would it be his last. For him it was a port between the worlds. A city had many goods and services, some services of which he labored backbreaking work for barely enough munny to get a meal. With so many goods: when a few, small objects vanished people did not take care to notice, but when people started to disappear then it became something a bit more worth worrying over. Zidane had started to notice it and felt it rather unsettling. He sort of preferred stealing goods: people were stubborn, loud and it could get tricky when… wizards and royalty were involved. He heard it one night. Even though he fought to keep the darkness from this world it would seem that shadows continued to creep ever closer. When an adult disappeared that was pretty bad, but when a child did…
Supposedly the Restoration Committee had defenses up against the shadows, but that would mean this was no shadow, at least an ordinary one that could be taken out by the defenses. Maybe he was thinking too hard? Not being one to sleep in the night the boy sat high above the streets nestled against the familiar stone lipped roof ledges. It was a strange mix of what he knew and machines he could not quite get a handle on. Maybe he simply liked his way, being free. If it could not fly or take him across the sea he really saw no need to burden himself with things like televisions or computers. He was a simple man, even if he was small. the world was still big enough to explore, not stay locked up and wonder how they built it. His legs hung off the ledge, tail lashing about against the flat surface. They always seemed to be working on construction. Fallen walls and crumbled buildings, of which was partially his fault at one point. He still felt bad and could never look her in eh face.
The night was best for the thief. Here he could watch the shadows dance and the Moogles play, they only played at night, and he could impress the fireflies with feats of acrobatics. Pushing to stand he rubbed the side of his head in exhaustion. He searched and even looked in the shadier parts of town where strange old men dealt in magic, but there was no sign of any kind of clue that led him to understand such a scary idea, that some kids were hurt! Without taking a second look the thief jumped off the ledge and onto a nearby roof. The toe of his boot caught the stone edge with ease: pulling up his light form. With agility that most cats could only dream of: the sure-footed boy bounced from edge to edge. Though he would never compare to Freya in such skills, he was slowly climbing up there, if only to show off to her! The boy made his way into the busier part of town. Even at this time at night the place was busy. Shops rushed to get their last stocks off the shelves, lest the food spoil and be wasted the next day. Zidane had his eye on one shop. They did always have the best chocolate bread. Though he was not one much for sweets, he did like the soft flavor of the treat.
Not that he could ever afford it. He was probably a nail in the head at this point.
He jumped down from the rooftops only to drop into an alley and waltz into the crowds. Were he in a better mood he would have easily nicked each passing purse, but for now his pocketed hands were kept occupy with loose gil and some lint. He uneasily approached the bakery’s door. A gloved hand raised to knock, but would hesitantly pull back. Geez, it was really embarrassing.
‘Sorry about your shop, I didn’t mean to use it like a shield between me and a madman.’
Well maybe he would actually pay for a bread this time? Maybe. “Hey...you in?” He called weakly.
It was pretty late, but he was also pretty worried. She was pretty much a kid herself, at least in comparison to him. She was young and a girl. Thinking about one of his friends wandering around when there’s a snatcher on the loose, that wasn’t him?! Now way!
►NOTES: Nothing is impossible to those who have plenty of faith; any strong belief in a cause or objective will help you reach it!
►SKILLS USED: N/A
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
It felt as if she were in a new skin. Just a shinier, nicer, new--not-so-much-her-own skin. And by skin, she meant the bakery. A little while back, her childhood home and place of work had been destroyed by a man with a giant wing and sword. She had just barely witnessed the destruction, and remembered very little of the events that followed. The next thing she knew, she had been whisked away by a boy-she-could-barely-remember to Disney Town, where she went on adventures afterward. Smiling, the green-haired baker, dressed in her red form-fitting uniform underneath a sunflower yellow apron, wiped down the tables in the bakery.
The restoration committee had succeeded in rebuilding the bakery, though the original building was older than she was--perhaps, even her mother. So everything was not exactly accurate. The wooden stove had been replaced with much newer, stainless steel equipment, which, in the very beginning, had confused her. Just imagine running into a newly restored kitchen and not being able to recognize it! Before she had done everything by hand in rustic ways--and she could have swore that her customers loved it. But it turned out that when she made her first batch of chocolate bread, they were not able to taste the difference--customers were only glad that another piece of Radiant Garden had come back. Not that she was complaining, it was just...it did not feel the same.
Scrubbing down a particularly rough spot on one of the tables--this was mahogany! Mahogany! These things were so much nicer than what she was used to! Not to mention expensive! She was sure this had something to do with her Mother talking to people--though she had no idea at all if her mother had stopped by on her adventures to see the new bakery. After getting the spot off of the table, she stood up and admired her work. It was not quite time to close--she did have a few hours before close. But, for whatever reason, it was rather slow. And she still had a lot of stock.
She walked to the counter and started wiping that off as well--and when she was done, she planned on standing out in the street to draw more customers in for a last minute rush.
A bell above the door signaled a customer. Putting the rag behind the counter, she spun around, a smile plastered on her face, her hands behind her back.
Zidane had felt guilty about the whole situation and even tried to find a way so that she would never remember! That kinda fell through too. Haunted Houses were not a thing for a kid and a guy who was prone to showing off to girls by beating up spooks. Apparently it was all some sort of fun side show they were simply supposed to accept as fear-filled fun. Zidane was not an amusement park sort of guy. Nor was he some sort of creep that picked up younger women. No… the kid did not have the right assets. Who knew: perhaps one day she would grow into her body, but alas his heart has already been locked in a cage with his canary. No this was out of pure guilt and chivalry toward his companion. He was not some old pervert who got on by being taken care of by chicks, so his canary’s willful personality was pretty refreshing when every last nobelgal he has met was a stick in the mud and had her corset on way too tight for his liking… for many reasons.
Scratching at his chin the young thief would wait at the door. This place always had banging service so he did not mind sneaking off with chocolate pudding bread occasionally. What he was not expecting was his earliness for the late night rush. Typically he found himself very late and within easy company to bite and run before he was scolded properly. So when the term ‘master’ was thrown in his direction he was quite surprised, even spooked! The boy jumped back and his tail launched up, puffing a bit at the unexpected behavior. He should honestly expect hearing it, but it was beyond embarrassing, and he has seen and done some pretty embarrassing things. Let one just protest to the fact that he could easily tie a woman’s corset with a nimble hand and tail while the free hand could put on make-up. The life of a man of theater required the greatest security on one’s own masculinity.
“W-whoa, it’s just me Antique…” He stepped in with his usual, casual saunter.
It was a lazy gait, the actor professing it was an old wound and not old habits. When one walked by shifting their body in such a manner it made it all the harder to hear the treasures one procured questionably, to be heard. It was also to a man with disgraceful posture a he provided in show as he plopped in a free seat and slouched forward with arms on the table. Behind him his tail lazily swayed to and fro, the top a jagged mess of seemingly unkempt fur, but something smooth to the touch, when he was not under duress that was. He wore a nice ribbon today, white. His ribbons seemed to change with his fancy.
“Hey, you closing yet?” He smirked. “Got any left overs?” He was a sneaky little git because he would only sugar coat his hungry words. “It’s getting pretty late, and dark. I was kinda worried about you heading home.” With a few disappearances it left the thief uneasy. He smiled bright, regardless. “I’ll need my strength to keep such a cutie safe!” Sometimes it could be debated that Zidane’s chivalry and stomach ran through on the same path.
►NOTES: It isn't just about the sweets...
►SKILLS USED: N/A
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
Antique's eyes widened in surprise; a familiar face! It had been awhile since she had seen this one! Without him noticing, she observed his hair and cat-like tail. There were not too many like him (she barely knew anyone with a tail), so identifying this particular customer was not hard at all. Especially with the adventures that they had back in Disney Town. She vaguely remembered a terrifying Haunted House and--though scary, how very fun it had been! All the adventures she had been on had been so incredibly fun! Touching her head lightly, a flood of jumbled memories came back--going to the race tracks at Disney Town, going swimming at Destiny Islands--a familiar presence was there in all of those memories, but a blurred face.
"Hello Zidane!" she said cheerfully, moving her hands to the front of her, small but incredibly skilled, to rest on top of her yellow apron. Ruby eyes watched as he moved to sit at a table. Immediately, she ran behind the counter to grab a few things, a tea kettle that was already brewing tea and a couple of dainty looking teacups that had colorful birds painted delicately on them. Putting them on a tray, she moved toward Zidane, with a grace that gave away that she had been doing this for years. Setting the tray down in front of him, she moved a tea cup in front of him, and poured him a cup of the fragrant liquid. Following this, she set a cup of sugar and cream in front of him as well. With a delicate looking spoon to stir it with, naturally.
"You're just in luck, I have plenty of leftovers today," she laughed, pleasantly. "It's been a rather slow day--I think people are afraid of coming back to this part of town since it has this habit of being destroyed," she said, as if it were a fact. She held the tray to her chest and smiled. "Just last week, an ice cream shop completely froze over! Can you imagine that?"
She sat down across him--it was not very often that she got to see him; so sitting down would not be too terrible, would it? She peeked over her shoulder to glance at the window. None of the wanderers of the street looked all that interested. And while she could be out there, attracted customers in, she took this rare chance to relax.
Felt the obvious guilt that rode on the girl’s words. He felt bad this part of the neighborhood was having so much trouble. Maybe it was on account of that incident….? Ah! He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, lips pulling back in a weak smirk as his brows twisted slightly at the thought. There was no way he could pay her back for that. All he could do was try and apologize every time it was brought up. But it seemed, this time, it was not quite his fault! behind him, where his tail hung down behind the chair, it would begin to sway side to side in his delight. The end was curled up off the ground which kept the fifth appendage off the ground. A big grin drew upon his face as he threw up his hand laughing.
“Don’t be down about any of that, cause no matter how tough people have it, food always makes it all better again!” It was the least he could say, to utterly throw suspicion off his own guilt from attention.
The boy watched as the younger girl gathered up some fresh tea. You could easily mistake her motions for a well trained maid, but this girl was running a business all her own! The idea of her being someone’s maid was pretty far fetched. It was simply how it worked in his world. Such things were very complicated situations. But so was the current one they were facing. He watched as she placed out some expensive looking tea cups. If he were not so good natured he would probably swipe these clear off the table, but the guy had a few more manners than that concerning his friends, especially if they up and offered him food!
“Actually, something else is making people uneasy.” He took a sip of the tea, more like a gulp. The boy had no manners after all. “There’s some creeps goin’ around scooping l--- young ladies.” He didn’t want to call her a little and upset her. “I actually came by to walk you home!” He was such a gentleman, glittering with good intentions!
Such a hero looking so noble… as he greedily eyed the leftover bread. His pushed to stand and wandered near the shelves, sniffing around with those greedy fingers. Outside though there seemed to be plenty of trouble. Shops were closing early and a natural sense of curfew had grown over the usually nocturnal world.
►NOTES: I just wanted a quick taste~
►SKILLS USED: N/A
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
Antique lifted one of the cups to her lips and quietly sipped the tea, watching her companion as she did so. The fragrant aroma and taste calmed her; it would have to, especially since it was a lemon lavender tea. She did not care too much for the taste of lavender, but she did like when it was mixed with the tartness of the lemon. However, her customers seemed to it. And, considering it took a lot of resources just to get her bakery back up off the ground, she felt like she had to pay them back with something that they liked. Now, most of the time, the tea did not come free, unless they stayed inside and enjoyed sweets--but Zidane was a dear friend.
She did notice that he seemed to be uncomfortable; Antique was extremely great at picking up people's feelings, though she did not quite understand why. It was just perhaps from working in the service industry for so long. Had she said something wrong? Watching him stand up and observe the bread, she quietly chuckled to herself. Standing up herself, she walked behind the counter and pulled out a rather large basket.
"Ah, well, if business is bad, I might as well cut my losses now...I could close for the night" she said, putting large rolls of day-old bread into the basket. Included in it, she stored things like scones and other sweet things. For the most part, the small pastries like cakes and cupcakes had already sold; those were her best sellers, afterall. There was a creeper around? She quietly sighed to herself, keeping an eye on Zidane through carefully trained ruby eyes. She was perfectly aware he was going to try to stuff a couple of loaves in his pocket. He had done that to her the first time they had met; despite looking naïve, she usually knew. Her mother had shown her to always be aware.
"You came to walk me home?" Antique said, as she packed the last bit of stock into the basket. Clapping her hands together, she laughed. "That would be very sweet of you," she said. As she found her keys, she paused.
"There was...someone else who would...always walk me home, too..." she said, staring at the door. The streets were rather dead. For whatever reason, this partial memory made her feel melancholy for days that were a long time ago. Shaking her head, she smiled at Zidane. "Why don't you pick out a loaf there?" she said, her face beaming, eyes filled with mischievousness. "There is a place I'd like to drop this bread off to, if you don't mind..."
One would probably find that, if Zidane was a book: he would be an easy read. The boy was never one to suppress his emotions. He was trained to be on stage to fight that loudmouth, hyperactive, attention hogging child he was, at least that was the story. ‘He was a pain in the ass,’ Baku always claimed. But there was something that made him wild and uncontrollable. No manner of appeasing him seemed to calm his rage and violent outbursts. He was a destructive kid that, when he was not paid mind to, he would destroy anything he could get his hands on or violently attack another member of the troupe. Idle hands made him impossible. There was no way Baku could explain it either. So the head of the Tantalus band put him to work and refocused that monstrous energy into everything else. The boy was nurtured to take and push his emotions into his acting. It gave him a place to belong and something else to do. He was a lot less destructive now, but those idle hands often etched to thievery in the stead of absentminded destruction.
The current Zidane seemed so much more behaved, as much as a hyper thief could anyway. The hungry belly of his certainly called him to the sweet scent of the freshly baked goods lining the metal shelves. It helped the empty lining of his pocket that she was a good kid too! He tried not to be greedy. One loaf here, a cookie there… He grabbed one of the sweet breads off the shelf. he hated sweet things, but the bread dulled that sweet taste really well and made it less noticeable. Shoving it in his mouth he would pause at the sound of Antique muttering something. He stood and listened as she seemed to lament. He did not mean to drudge up any bad memories. Goodness know he was on a pretty bad leg with that sort of thing right now.
He felt he should encourage her, or at least push that low feeling away. Antique was best smiling. He turned around, sheepishly rubbing his head. He had already stuffed one on his mouth before she gave the okay. He smirked goofily with the snack between his teeth, those sharper canines a bit more pronounced than some people. He walked over the Antique with his bouncing stride, chewing up his snack before reaching her. Dusting off his gloved hands with a wide smile.
“Don’t worry, I’m your bodyguard tonight, so wherever you wanna go!” He was always so energetic, but something was rubbing down his back wrong, his tail a bit frazzled at the trange feeling. Was it just his imagination? Hmm…”Lead on cutie!” He laughed out.
Always just, too energetic.
►NOTES: I understand how you feel, but I'll be here for you, silently.
►SKILLS USED: Steal, lol
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
Giggling, the emerald haired baking mage covered the day's leftovers with a yellow sheet printed with brown cat paw-prints. It was not too hard to tell that Zidane was going to take some of the bread without paying. Or permission, really. She remembered when they had first met, he never paid for a chocolate treat, either. Not that it had mattered, at the time. She knew some people needed it more than others--as long as her treats brought happiness to others, that was all that really mattered to her. It helped that Antique was not exactly poor either. For the majority of her life, she had run this business by herself--taking into account the budgeting, how much she could raise or lower the prices, trading for supplies...then again, her mother, who had connections, had made sure that it was a success to begin with. Just look at how quickly the bakery was rebuilt! And with all new stainless steel supplies as well!
Gesturing her friend toward the door, she picked up the basket of bread and treats and wrapped it between her arms. She quickly shut off the main lights and flipped the open sign over, jingling her keys after she escorted Zidane out into the...rather eerily quiet twilight.
Radiant Garden was nowhere near as safe as it used to be when she was a young child. So, as she jingled her keys to lock the door--she would hate to see her mother's precious work ransacked in the morning when she came in to make the newest batch--it was the only sound. She paused, listening, turning her head to Zidane as she pulled her keys closer to her. Hopping down the stairs closer to him, she smiled brightly.
"It's not too from here--" she said, smiling quietly. "There are a couple of kids I bring the extra bread to," she smiled, blushing. Beginning to lead him down the cobblestone road, she hummed a tune, trying to break the odd silence. Wow, she knew this was not the best part of town, but she was not used to it being this quiet!
Zidane smiled, sheepishly rubbing the side of his head with his gloved hands. The thief did not mean to always finger her breads, but old habits died hard. Growing up with so little sometimes meant doing things that were looked down upon by the greater good of society. Getting caught and nearly having your fingers chopped off by the pickle lady was never any fun. You had to learn to grab and eat and not be caught, or you were without upper for the night. Going to sleep hungry was a strong memory, well he never went to bed hungry. But, Baku would if that meant they would eat. Zidane always worried about others in his own, odd way. So he became better at pickpocketing and got faster at running away. If he survived better than he and his brothers were not a burden. It was the least that could be done for Baku, who had given them a home.
Zidane made quick motion to follow the young girl. His tail curled up excitedly as he grinned in amusement. She seemed to have quite a bit of patience for him. Not many did. He was a pain and a half to deal with, and that was on a good day! He allowed his arms to fold behind his head. Though his height nearly matched Antique’s and height he wa much older and far less mature. He was impressed she ran a business on her own, at least the shop. As he followed her out the young man would stand to the side as she locked up for the night. It was quiet, but he was not from Radiant Gardens so he was not too sure how night around here was, but he did know that it was dangerous.
Zidane turned to face Antique as she explained her intent. “Kids huh…?” The thief looked toward the younger girl, a grin plastered on his face. "I wouldn't mind helping at all! But we should make sure they get home too, right?"
It reminded him of the kids back at the hideout. He wondered how they were doing out there, all alone…. Following Antique he made sure to keep close. Something seemed to be watching them from the shadows. Zidane allowed his arms to fall to his sides and as thumb moved to unlock the strap over his daggers, which held them in their scabbard as he jumped around during his more active trip around Radiant Gardens. As the children waited… a shadow crept up toward them. Those tiny, beating hearts full of wishes, and a Heartless looking to have his own heart once again…..
►NOTES: It wasn't always easy becoming a hero
►SKILLS USED: N/A
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
Antique turned to Zidane as they walked down the cobblestone street. She did not sense the darkness; she had no real reason to. Swinging the basket full of goodies, she hopped down the street. "Mmhm! Some of the neighborhood kids around here. A lot of them were really young when this town was...not here the first time..." she said. "Most of the children came back to this world, even though...well...some of their parents couldn't be found," she said, sighing sadly. She slowed down to pull the basket closer to her. "I know how scary that can be. For the longest time, I thought my mother was gone..." she said, but pulled the basket of treats closer to her. They weren't even real treats. The bread was stuffed with things like meat and eggs--a complete meal, if she could help it. Customers were not too keen on this bread though, for whatever reason. Sure, she brought these meals, along with treats as well.
"So anyway, the older ones try to take care of the younger ones as much as possible! Adults are really far and few between..." she laughed nervously. Most anyone old enough was out there, fighting the good fight. Antique was not much of a fighter, and never had been. She had always wanted to be useful, however. But the grim reality was that she was useless and weak. The town itself usually took care of the Heartless and Nobodies, but there were always times when the Darkness would get so strong that the system could not take of it. That was when their protectors would hop in and join in on the fight. Sure, the baking mage had a few tricks up her sleeve, but just enough to help others get away. There were many a time when she was cutting it close...too close.
She turned the corner, completely unaware of what Zidane was doing. She raised her hand to the smaller children, who were playing with sticks, chasing eachother. When one spotted her, it seemed the others found her as well. They knew that it was dinner time. In a pack, they traveled to her and Zidane. Five of them altogether.
"Antiki~you brought those Curry rolls, right? Those are my favorite!"
"Pork buns, pork buns!"
"Dummy, the curry rolls are the best!"
There was endless chatter, and Antique, calmly, opened up the basket full of goodies.
"I managed to even save some Chocolate bread today," she said, smiling as she chattered with the kids. She turned her head up at Zidane and grinned, happily. "Would you like to help pass some of this stuff out? Some of them have smaller brothers and sisters at home. As long as they don't eat it all here, there should be plenty for the ones not here!"
Zidane continued to feel uneasy about hanging out in the dark. He wa a night owl, there was no question of his nocturnal activities, but danger was afoot and kids were at risk. Listening to Antique’s story about how this Darkness affected them he only felt guilty. He had troubled her when he recklessly fought that man, ruining her shop. He had a hand in destroying her home. he was so young yet she had to suffer so much. Zidane was a lot younger, abandoned on Gaia, knowing nothing more than the cold fear of loneliness. One of his first memories was of Baku reaching out his hand to him. He was told that he was always a cry baby, a face full of snot and tears as any little thing set him off into a violent fit. Being unable to understand brought pain, but as he grew older it changed. He came to understand the world around him and slowly learned that crying never solved a problem.
Even as she spoke, the girl did not shed a tear on these memories. She was stronger than she had to be. He felt it was unfair that kids had to suffer. Though Antique was nearly an adult, her heart was still there on the boundary of pure innocence. It reminded him of Dagger…. she had such a pure view of the world. Even if one understood war, experiencing it and its suffering were completely different. It hurt, watching this. These kids struggling to survive. He was not home, so he could not simply bring them back to the clocktower and say ‘find a spot to sleep’! He was in a world he did not belong in, but he still felt the responsibility to protect it and fight off the darkness. After watching the dark try and consume the world, it was so much different than hearing the rumors of entire world being swallowed up by this force, these shadows. He still did not know what exactly Heartless were. They were shadows, but -- how did one defeat a shadow?
When she asked him to help he could not help but jump from his train of thought. “A-Ah? Sure!” He laughed nervously.
Something had him by the tail, at least metaphorically, that had the limb bristling and lashing about uneasily. He crouched down to the kids’ eye levels and started handing out the food, it was the least he could do to help. It was just like being back home. Why wasn’t any of the adult taking care of the kids? Kids helping kids… the blind leading the blind… It was awful. If he could take each of these kids into the band, and at least have one eye on them he would feel better. But right now his attentions were stretched. One eye on the kids and the other on the encompassing darkness that came with the evening.
Radiant Garden’s defense system often took care of any Heartless with unquestionable ease, but sometimes there were just too many, or some just too big, but big ones were not often lured to these sort of areas. Civilians did not have strong, luring hearts. But something was around that was luring the big ones, pushing the system to fight. As their attentions went into handing out food and the kid were drawing into consuming what and all they could hold in their bellies the shadows crawled from the surrounding darkness, the corridors portals to their targets! These were no small, weak heartless, but even still the whirr of the security system initializing alerted the group of the Heartless’ attack.
The children’s scream called into the night.
Out of the darkness the beasts crawled and began clawing after their prey. They desired the strong heart they stalked, but among the rabble the ravenous beast became confused. The Neo Shadows were four in number, so there was only so much they could eat. Two of the Neo Shadow would manage to catch two of the kids that had run apart to try and get away. The beast's claws came down upon them, but the system ended the two shadow before harm could come to the kids.
“Antique, run!” Zidane jumped forward, drawing his readied weapons.
The thief clapped together his blades into a single Thief’s Sword: The Ogre. Another Neo Shadow that had lunged after one of the kid closest to him was cut down with a swift motion of his blade. He could feel it though… When the metal of his blade cut through, there was no weight. It was like fighting those ghosts back in Dali. Though he struck them, his blades had no affect on them, it could not touch them. Even still when the air around it was slashed through the creature was struck by the system’s defensive attacks: sending it into a temporary oblivion. That left only one more.
This one was going straight for Antique. Zidane looked back, tail standing on end. “Antique, duck!”
The quick five-fingered thief broke apart his blade and sent one of the Mage Masher’s flying into the enemy. The blade would cut through it and embed itself into the ground, but inches from the green haired maiden. When all was said and done the duo of do-gooders would find themselves amidst a sea of crying eyes. The thief checked each child, counting heads. It seemed they were all accounted for, so with that Zidane came over to check Antique. As he reached out to the girl though, a dark hand came out from behind her.
“Look out!” The boy would attempt to pull her down to the ground.
“Tiki!!” One of the kids ran up to the shadow, looking to defend their dear friend. “You leave her alone!” The young boy would strike the hand with a stone, only for the shadow to slash the child across the chest as he pulled into the Light. This was no ordinary Heartless.
The pureblood Heartless held a blade in its hand, at the base a set of kanji that read 硬核. Was this the beast that would end them? Small, useless wings spread out from its back and arms as it floated listlessly over the child. The beast stole their heart and the child sunk into darkness. Yellow eyes peered over their shoulder as the thief could only watch. A shout ripped from him as he charged the heartless, pulling his embedded blade from the ground. In a frantic stream of actions the thief struck out at the creature with Booster 8, but each of his blade strikes were countered until it finally attacked. It slammed its blade into the ground before the Heartless seemed to vanish. A dark circle of fire soon appeared around the thief, slowly compressing until it exploded. Zidane had barely jumped out of the way, but the outward blast sent him sliding across the ground. The Invisible Heartless narrowed its eyes and prepared to land the finishing blow on the thief, recalling his sword, but the defense system struck the fiend, sending it to retreat for the time being.
Its hunger was not staved, but was satiated for the time being….
There in the streets lay the crying children and, more over, an injured Zidane.
►NOTES: Invisible Heartless are bad news.
►SKILLS USED: Booster 8
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
As they passed out the bread and treats, Antique listened to the children's chatter. She listened about the games they played today, how they bickered, how the Duck closer to town had told them about sea-salt ice cream, and how they had seen a member of the Radiant Garden Restoration Committee was walking through patrol, looking as cool as ever. She also heard about how one of the children had been reunited with his mother the day before. Her eyes widened with great surprise, happiness evident in there. Hope. There was that hope that she needed to see, that things were steadily going to get better.
"Well, you tell your mom that you stop by anytime, alright? I'll make sure to make you the biggest banquet to celebrate her return!" Antique said to the child, making the other ones pout, "Hey now, you'll all be invited, okay? I'll make enough to feed the entirety of Radiant Garden!" And to that, she promised. And Antique never broke a promise that she had made. If there was anything redeemable about her, it was that she would do just about anything to keep a promise. If she had to jump worlds she would have. But it seemed today, though, that was one of those rare times she would not be able to keep her promise. The scream of the children filled the night, almost as soon as she said her promise. It seemed as if the world was simply working against her. She felt the old fear bubble up inside of her when the Heartless appeared, their yellow eyes pinpoints of light in the darkness, though, only welcoming because of their hunger. The fear caused her to freeze up, initially, though the children's screams woke her up.
She jumped to her feet, with every intention of taking care of the kids, much as her own mother would have done for her. It seemed though, in the confusion, the very children that she attempted to protect were protecting her. Her eyes widened, ruby eyes reflecting the scene of the child sinking into darkness.
And then it was over. The giant Heartless was gone. The night had returned to normal.
Children were crying. She looked over. Zidane was hurt.
It had all happened so fast.
She clutched the hem of her dress, despair threatening to overflow from her ruby eyes, glistening. But she held the tears in, to appear calm around the other children. The basket having been destroyed, and treats were smashed on the cobblestone street. She turned and picked up two of the children, snuggling into their faces, offering her strength. The other two flocked right to her, holding onto the hem of her apron.
"I'll never let anything like that happen again..."
Last Edit: May 12, 2014 12:18:00 GMT -5 by antique
The thief was on his knee, panting. The attack hurt, but it was nothing near fatal or as painful as the shock from the unexpected explosion was. The young rogue blinked his eyes clear; his eyes were blinded by the spreading darkness and ears still ringing from the initial boom. His legs were shaky, but he managed to stand, driven by the need to ensure everyone else was okay. He would not notice the blood spilling from his forehead. Though it was not as bad as it looked, it still trailed a painful looking path down from his hairline over his eye and down his chin. He gripped at his hands, his muscles still shaking after the rattling experience. Looking around he could hear the cries of the children, his heart racing and adrenaline pumping. He rushed over to Antique and the others.
“Are you okay?!” He worried as he turned to make a headcount.
To his horror, the headcount came up short. He counted again, only for it to end up the same as it did before. The boy moved to usher the rest of the kids into a group, so they did not lose track of anymore, or if the strange looking Heartless decided to return, they were not caught off guard a second time. He had never seen a Heartless that big before. Normally people only drew small, weak Heartless that the security system could take care of, and though this was common knowledge among the people of Radiant Garden: Zidane was a foreigner so he had no clue that such a large Heartless was so abnormal.
“Antique.” He called out to her. “Antique!” He shouted again. “We have to go. Let’s head back to the bakery. It isn’t safe outside.” He warned.
Was that them? The thing that had been seen around this area, snatching people up? Or, from what it seemed: snatching people’s hearts? Zidane would help carry any kid that lagged behind. He was not going to let any of them out their sight. He was shaken by it, but this was a reality he was used to: people died. It was terrible, but he could not cling to that which he was incapable of controlling. What he wanted to find out was: what was that Heartless? If they could maybe find it, perhaps they could stop it from tormenting any more residents. That was way too close for comfort though… Was Antique okay? She seemed shaken. Was this not a normality in the Gardens?
►NOTES: Such a fiend cannot be left to wander.
►SKILLS USED: n/a
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
Antique held two of the children close to her, shutting her eyes tightly to fight back tears that threatened to spill from sadness and frustration. She looked up Zidane when she was finally able to open them, seeing the blood dripping from his face. She winced, and walked past him. "I have a couple of Potions back at the bakery," she said quietly, though a small smile was on her face. She was trying to be as brave as she could, at the very least, for the children. Because if there was anything she knew, was that panic from someone older was going to further freak a child out more than anything. Snuggling into the smallest child's hair, the two oldest ones followed on foot until they made their way toward the bakery.
The cobblestone roads had become much more quiet; there were not even the sound of birds or any of the evening insects. "It's alright..." she whispered to the children, something the adults in Traverse Town would have told her to calm her down. "Look, here, we're almost there, see? I'll turn on the oven and we can make s'mores all night, okay?"
She was sure she would make makeshift beds out of tablecloths. And make food to calm them down. Jingling her keys, she unlocked the building and pushed the kids in, turning on the lights. "Zidane, come on, I'll make you something warm to drink," she said. Her hands were shaking. She was sad. She had to keep busy now because that was all that she could do. She was a great baker, but when it came to Heartless, or protecting anyone...she was useless. She always had been. Not even able to protect a child. She wanted to...if she were able to, none of this would have happened...!
Zidane helped usher the children back toward her shop. He was still a bit shaken by the fact they lost a kid. When everyone was settled inside the thief closed the door behind them and locked it. Lowering the shade he would peer out into the streets. The streets were dark and empty. Not a soul, not a sound. The thief should have noticed sooner. There were no streets this empty unless a true evil roamed them. The thie stood back and sighed. Looking toward Antique and the kids they seemed to finally be settling down, but this was bad. Zidane was not sure how he was going to deal with this because -- was that really what a Heartless was? He had heard only rumors that they roamed about much larger than the small Shadows he had happened upon before. He wanted to ask her, but he would have to wait until the kids were put to bed.
When she suggested they make snacks the thief put on his best smile when she turned the offer to him for a warm drink. His tail curled up and he trotted toward them. He gave an enthusiastic stretch and pounded his fist against his chest. He was always good at conveying his most positive emotions because he knew there were always dark, harsh truths to life that were otherwise impossible to deal with when one was depressed. The young Genome made his way over to the young baker and the kids. He decided to remain as positive as possible, but that stinging pain would remain.
“Antique…” Zidane’s voice was calm, but it obviously sought to question the young girl. He looked down, patting his pants before he shook his head. “Nevermind. Hey,” He looked up and held out his hand. “Come on I’ll help you break apart the chocolate and crackers!” His outstretched hand was shaking though.
When he noticed his hand lowered and he shook his head. The young rogue stayed with that bright, unfaltering smile, but he honestly was shaken up by the situation. He had not expected a shadow to be that much stronger from those little guys. He trained all the time, but was he really that far behind this new enemy? He had already caused Antique so much trouble and now that he was needed, he was useless? The thief clasped together his gloved hands and smirked. The gestures all pointed to a fellow who was up to something, but in truth he was simply trying to hide that worry he felt. It was a gnawing sensation, like something was watching them, or a trapped feeling. The rogue hated feeling trapped, like he had no where else to run. A rat, cornered.
“Give a second will ya, I gotta take a leak!” He motioned to the back of the shop, his words causing some of the kid to laugh while others ‘eww’d’ him for his verbal antics.
The boy jogged to the back room searching for the bathroom. He slowed down and came to a stop. His hand came up to brush his fingers through his hair. Looking across the way he took notice of the window glaring into the dark night of the eve. Something was there! He saw it, clear across the surface of the glass. Zidane moved his right hand back toward his holsters and unlatched the blades before he rushed toward the window. Reaching his hand up to the window he pulled himself onto the windowsill and crouched there. His blue eyes stared out into the night, but there was nothing back here but an empty alley where the bakery’s dumpster likely sat full of the day’s stale bread. How many times had he eaten from the refuse himself before he learned to pilfer goods or run fast enough to not be caught? The memory of his past set his heart a flutter with the thought of seeing her face again one day. Maybe he was avoiding the truth, or looking for something, a means to protect her. To grow stronger he had to travel, but was it worth all of this?
As he reminisced the boy started off toward the starlit sky. Behind him, his shadow grew. The Invisible Heartless had used the opening in the boy’s heart to find his way into the shop to find the heart it sought. When it fully pulled itself from the shadow it reached for the rogue. Zidane’s eyes widened when he saw the Shadow in the window, but it was not outside, it was in! The thief quickly turned to draw his blades, but the Invisible’s draw was faster. He slashed his cleaving sword and sent the thief, with a shout, into the window with enough force to shatter it. The thief gasped out and collapsed on the floor, shards of glass raining down on his form.
One of the children had to use the bathroom too and rushed to catch the thief on his way out so he could find the bathroom as well. “Don’t worry about me Tiki! I can use the bathroom on my own!” He promised. When he rushed into the hall, clutching the front of his pants, he heard the rogue’s pained shout and the shattering glass. “Monkey man…?” The boy called as he turned the corner of the hall.
Zidane tried to reach out, but the blood loss from his earlier injuries and the force of the Heartless’ sneak attack knocked the breath out of him. His arms were cut and bleeding from the slices from the glass. His gloved hand reached out, trying to call out to the boy to run, but the thief could only gasp, lungs fighting to fill up again and body screaming from the pain of the sword slash across his back.
“RUN!” He finally pushed to his feet to run toward the shadow, blades drawn, but it was too late.
The Invisible Shadow had eaten the boy’s heart. The remaining four children, were now there. The Heartless turned its head to look at Zidane, as if to tell the rogue there was nothing he could do. Angry Zidane pushed forward with a monstrous speed and crashed into the heart-eating shadow with Rumble Rush. It was knocked back and sent into the wall, but there it simply melted down to the ground and slinked back into the darkness. The rogue fell to his knees, his blades clattering to the ground in the empty hallway. The winds howled into the bakery from the shattered barrier…
►NOTES: Than there were three...
►SKILLS USED: Rumble Rush used.
CODED BY ELECTRIC OF GANGNAM STYLE; EDITED BY OUREX DRACO
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After years of fighting, a calm eventually washed over the worlds with the death of the previous threats. However, those walls of peace were all crashing down with the warning of a future threat. Though, the warning comes with much skepticism.
Could every keyblader be destroyed?
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