LoneStar: "It's good to be back, you all, and I hope the edits I've made here do not disappoint and make this chapter easier to read. Some of the formatting will change from now on and other elements of the story will be different, including the status of Talis and Xaltis' formerly symbiotic relationship at the beginning of this story. Please, as I asked on my profile, bear with me as the changes are made. I appreciate it all. I'm so excited to be doing this all over again; after years of reading fanfictions on this site and others, I've found myself with the task of keeping up with much better writing styles and realizing how much my own lacked in depth. Hopefully I'll be able to do much better and be able to update more often as well. Without further ado, here is the story formerly called "Life of a Knight II", now known as "The Key to Knighthood".

Talis:" You forgot the disclaimer! Chairman doesn't own The Disney Company, Square Enix Ltd, or any of their products, including Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. "

Chairman: "One more thing, though, regarding the new method of introducing time to the story rather than little marked of sections merely with the ~~~~~L~o~a~K~~~~~ marker, the time and place will be denoted as such.

Location Specific

Location Broad

Time of Day, Date

Also, the solar system that houses Hikari Lux Lucis has two Suns and the world has a Moon. To account for this, there are thirty hours in a day, twelve each under each Sun and the Moon for six hours in between each Sun. As such, the times are denoted with the tags F.S., F.M., S.S., or S.M., translating to First Sun, First Moon, Second Sun, and Second Moon. The dates are the same as the Gregorian 12-month calendar for convenience's sake, but the years are marked based on universal events. To keep times in perspective with the universe at large, the years will be marked twice, one date relating to canon events, while the other relates to events within this version of the universe. AR denotes years After the Restoration of Radiant Garden (events of Kingdom Hearts II). BSF denotes years Before ShadowFall and ASF denoting years After ShadowFall. ShadowFall…well…that shall be explained eventually. Enjoy!"

The Key to Knighthood

Chapter 0: Prologue

Duos Sol System

Deep Space near Hikari Lux Lucis

2:00 S.S., June 15, 1BSF (6AR)

Ten years ago, a young man was whisked from his native world as it fell to darkness and tasked by the powers that be with protecting the light of the universe. His best friend and greatest rival became his first and most powerful enemy, controlled by the darkness and, to a lesser extent, his latent desire to travel the worlds. Along the way, the young man made friends with denizens of many worlds, defended the universe against the darkness, and brought his dearest friend back to the light. Fighting side by side, the young heroes defeated the enigmatic Organization XIII (in both of its forms) as well as the Dark Keyblade Master, Xehanort. With each battle, they became stronger and understood more of the universe and its power as well as the importance of the balance between darkness and light.

While the citizens of Hikari Lux Lucis go about their daily lives in relative peace, the remainder of the universe is in unsurpassed turmoil. Darkness is spreading once again, stealing the light of the worlds. The Wielders of Hikari Lux Lucis have no idea of the journey ahead of them, but they surge forward with the same zeal and fervor as all those before them.

In an undisclosed part of the universe, a small craft known as a Gummi Ship traverses the open space, searching for who knows what. Its conductors are two young men, not as young as the Knights, but young all the same. One of them, a spiky-haired brunet, has a serious look on his face, hardened by years of struggle and war. He controls the movements of the Gummi Ship, guiding it around the stray asteroids and other space debris. The other man, a long haired silveret, stares out into space as he hangs on to the weapons turret controls, awaiting the first sign of danger to blast it out of the sky.

"So how long have we been flying out here?" The silveret turned to his companion, a questioning look on his face.

"Don't know; been focusin' on the road. I'd say maybe a couple days, though." The brunet kept his face directed to the large windscreen, scanning the deep space for any sign of danger.

"What are we looking for? Just any signs of life?"

"Pretty much. Anyone we can find that hasn't been taken by the Heartless is a good thing."

"So why'd we take off without telling the King? And why'd we take the unregistered Gummi?"

"Because you know he'd come looking for us, or worse, tell us to come back. It's about time we did some of our own searching, you know?"

"I guess." The silveret got up from his seat at the turrets and slowly paced the floor of the cockpit. "You think we'll find anyone like us?" He lazily summoned his weapon with a flick of his wrist, a Keyblade that mimics the darkest of shadows, but sports an angel's wing. Way to the Dawn.

"I'd hope so, Riku. We need all the help we can get in this fight. It's been way too long, way too hard, and we've lost far too many lives as it is. The more people who can defend themselves, the better it will be for the universe."

"You have a point there, Sora. I just hope we can find someone before they do."

"You and me both, man. There's no telling what'll happen if they get their hands on a Keyblade Wielder." With those words, an alarm went off on the dashboard.

"New world, Sora?"

Sora looked up then pointed to the screen in front of him. "I think so, Riku; we're still a bit of a ways away from it, but it's close enough to be on the radar. Looks like it's pretty populated, too. So hopefully a lotta recruits to the cause."

"And so, the heroes bravely face the future and what lies ahead..." The silveret smirked and returned to his seat behind the turret controls, locking himself in and setting his eyes ahead.

"Hahaha, very funny, Riku. But you are correct; the plot thickens, in this case. Let's get closer to that world, though. I don't want any Heartless to attack us with so few weapons at the moment. Hopefully this place has a Gummi shop."

"So what are we waiting for then? Land this thing, wouldja, Sora?"

Sora grinned, turning to face his friend for a moment with a nod. "Let's land, see what's going on down here on this planet." With that, he faced forward once more and steered the ship towards the oncoming planet.

Chapter I: The Story Begins...

Character Introduction!

Talis C.X. Knight

Age: 17

Height: 6' 1"

Physical Appearance: Green eyes, jet black hair (Riku-style), tanned, lean, broad-shouldered

Attire: Black jacket (similar in style to Judai in Season 4 Yu-Gi-Oh! GX), black jeans, mint green sleeveless undershirt, and black sneakers

Xaltis T. Knight

Age: 17 (but a minute older than Talis!)

Height: 6' 1.5"

Physical Appearance: Gray eyes, light brown hair (Zane Truesdale-style), also tanned with same body type

Attire: Green Organization XIII-style cloak with the Crest of the Royal Knights (star shaped like the top of the Organization symbol) on the back in white, white sleeveless undershirt, olive green pants, and olive green boots

Kalin C. Knight

Age: 17 (but a minute younger than Talis!)

Height: 6' 0"

Physical Appearance: Blue eyes, white hair (Seto Kaiba/Kalin Kessler-style), also tanned with same body type

Attire: Blue and white hoodie with the Crest of the Royal Knights on the front and back, dark blue undershirt and jeans, blue and white sneakers, and tattoo of the Crest on left arm (hidden by hoodie)

~~~~~~~TKtK~~~~~~~

Location Unknown
Date Unknown, Time Unknown

"Where am I? What is this place? And why is everything so quiet and glowing?"

Looking around, the view in front of this person was black – all-encompassing darkness – save for a glowing platform right below him with seven tangent circles of different sizes. The largest held his own portrait, dressed similarly to how he was at the moment. Sporting a black jacket with flared coattails, a green sleeveless undershirt, black jeans, and black sneakers, the teen had his eyes closed as if in thought. In the picture, he's holding his pride and joy, the sword Kaosuraito, a simply designed sword with checkerboard hilt and 44" blade, but very effective. The background of the picture is the castle of his homeland, the Kingdom of Hikari Lux Lucis, in a perfectly cloudless blue sky. In the smaller tangent circles lie pictures of his friends and family. His twin brothers, Kalin and Xaltis, respectively in blue and gray circles, share the same serious, focused expression. His sisters, Carla and Shania, in pink and purple circles, share the same happy yet hardened expressions of those who have fought hard to bring peace. In a smaller circle, colored white, lies his best friend and strongest ally, the Princess of Hikari Lux Lucis, Raina Lyte. However, the seventh circle, the one glowing most brightly, lies empty. (*)

"Can anyone hear me? If you can hear me, would any explanation be forthcoming as to why that last circle is empty?!"

Maybe it's for someone you haven't met yet.

"Who said that?"

Forgot me already? I know we only just started liking each other again yesterday, but still, you'd think you'd remember your own brother, geez!

"Oh, sorry about that, X, I forgot you were...here...where are you? And do you have any idea where we are?" The black-haired male looked around while he called out, searching for the owner of his voice – his brother.

Oh! My bad. Xaltis seemed to fade into view in front of Talis when, in fact, he simply walked up from his blind spot. "Heck if I know; I'm just as confused as you are, man." The slightly taller, blue-haired brother looked around as well. "Guess we should just look around."

"Sounds good to me."

As the confused teens walk the perimeter of the platform, they continue to look at the pictures, memories flooding their heads of times past, ranging between battles, knight training, home life, and for Xaltis, his path before deciding to return home.

"Hey, little bro," Xaltis asks, not realizing he didn't speak aloud, "do you think we can go home after this little dream of ours?"

"You think this is a dream, X? It feels pretty real to me. The platform's real, the pictures are real, this sense of peace I'm feeling is real, even the fact that you're talking to me in my head feels real."

Xaltis begins, "Talking in your – holy crap, we're not talking out loud! How is that possible?!" In his surprise, he finished his exclamation aloud.

"Anything is possible here, Xaltis, but that doesn't mean it is not real."

Xaltis and Talis looked around furtively. "Who said that?" Xaltis yelled. "I know it wasn't Talis; now show yourself!" Talis drew his sword quickly from the sheath on his belt silently and swung it as if ready for battle.

"Do not worry, young warriors, I shall not – and indeed cannot – harm you; in fact, I am here to help you and to show you why you are here. The platform before you is known as the Station of Awakening. When a hero is recognized for the amount of light in his or her heart, he or she is transported here to learn of what that status entails. Now, look at your sword, Talis."

He did as she said – at least, the voice sounded like a 'she' – and saw it bathed in a light of such blinding intensity that he had to drop it to shield his eyes from being burnt out. When he uncovered them, however, he saw something incredibly different about it; it was Kaosuraito no longer. "What happened to my sword, Voice?"

"It has been transformed...into a weapon made from the purest light."

And the feminine voice was correct indeed; the sword had changed. It was smaller, more ornate, but similar to its original design. The hilt had changed to two irregular pentagons facing each other with the same crosshatching of Kaosuraito. The blade itself became gold with a black outline all around it and curved at the hilt into the shape of a heart. Off of the heart-shaped back end, the crossguard shaped itself into two wing-like extensions shaped like peapods with the same color scheme. The business end of the blade had another piece, shaped like his younger twin's initials. (*)

"It's beautiful, Tal!" Xaltis exclaimed.

"What is it, Voice?" Talis queried.

"Pick it up and find out..."

"Kaosuraito..." As he picks it up, he speaks its former name one last time as another voice rings out inside his head.

"No, Talis. It's a sign that I'm forgiven, that you and Kalin forgave me for hurting you all. The forgiveness I received from all of you manifested itself as this weird-shaped sword. We'll call it Knight's Absolution."

"OK, then. Absolution it is...now what is this thing, Voice?"

"It is a Keyblade, Talis. As I said, it is a weapon forged from the very light of the universe. With it, you can fight and release those called Heartless and Nobodies, creatures left behind by those that gave in or fell to the darkness in their hearts and therefore live without hearts and forms. Now look behind you."

"What...?" Talis turned around to see a massive amount of insect-looking forms with yellow eyes and pure black bodies coming out of the ground. (*) "What...are these…demons Heartless?"

"Guess it's time to fight, huh, buddy?"

"Guess it is, brother." Talis held his new Keyblade tentatively as if to test how to best use it. "Hmm...maybe if I hold it just like my old sword?" From the hilt, he hoisted it up over his back as if carrying a 2x4. "Hey, this works! Heartless? No problem. Bring it on!" And with that, he ran to start fighting his new enemies.

"Holy crap, Talis! How are you gonna fight all of these...what did the Voice call 'em...Heartless?"

"What do you mean, I? You're helping, ya dip!"

"What do you mean, I'm helping? I don't have one of those Keyblade things; only you do."

Talis searched his mind, thinking for a solution in order for his brother to help in the fight. "Hey, Voice! You think you could get my brother here a Keyblade of his own? Does it work like that?"

"Really, the choice is his. His heart has enough light to be a Wielder, but Xaltis, do you want the responsibility of being a Keyblade Wielder?"

"If my brother can do it, then so can I. Besides, can't let him have all the fun around here, right?"

"As good a reason as any, young man," the voice said with a chuckle. "Search your heart for the light within and call it forth. This is how a Keyblade is truly formed."

"Sounds easy enough. Call upon the light in my heart..." Xaltis closed his eyes, focusing on the words the ethereal voice spoke to him. Light in my heart, light in my heart. Sounds easier than it actually is...

"Not to rush you, bro!" Talis yelled as he swung at a couple of the Heartless, swiping through one, but missing the other as it jumped at him, slicing his arm. "Ow! But could you hurry that heart-searching thing? I could use some help!" More Heartless jumped at Talis, slicing at his arms and legs, drawing blood.

"I'm trying here!" Even as Xaltis meditated, Heartless moved around Talis, slinking toward where Xaltis was standing, open and vulnerable. However, he paid no attention to the oncoming enemies. Light in my heart. Light in my heart. Xaltis searched the representation of his heart within his mind, finding small white wisps, like a visible wind, curling around a ball-shaped black flame near where he would consider his center. Is that it? Is that my heart's light? It looks...odd. Why is there so much black?

"You still have not yet come to grips with your own darkness, and as such, the light in your heart battles with the darkness; the darkness, being stronger because of your own prior decisions, is more prevalent, but does not completely extinguish your light because – frankly – you won't let it."

"So does that mean I won't have a strong Keyblade until then?"

"Of course not! On the contrary! A Keyblade, while generally a weapon of light, is only as strong as a chosen Wielder's heart as a whole. Specifically, in you, your Keyblade will be representative of that. Light being stifled by darkness because of the state of your heart. As the levels of darkness in your heart change, and as you accept your darkness, your Keyblade will change to match that change in your psyche."

"Alright. Let's try this out then." Xaltis opened his eyes and called out, "Come forth, weapon of light and dark. Aid me in this battle against these creatures of shadow. Come forth, weapon of my heart!"

Around Xaltis' right hand, a ball of light formed, wisps of shadow crackling across and around it like a protective barrier of electricity. The ball of light extended into a bar, first forming the shape of a castle chess piece as a guard around his hand. The base of the castle, instead of spreading out like the chess piece would, thinned and sharpened to a point, extending beyond the normal length of a castle and forming a blue and jet-black blade in a similar fashion to Absolution. The cross-guard's wings, however, were shaped more like bird wings. The tooth of the key was shaped like his own initials.

"My Keyblade..." Through his head walked the name Knight's Penitence. "Penitence...fitting name for what I have to do, eh?"

"Sure, why not? It's your Keyblade. Now could you PLEASE help me out here?!" Talis called over from underneath the Shadows, his Keyblade barely keeping them at bay as he swiped at them from the center of the platform. Raw, bleeding scratches covered his slightly pale arms, exposed as he discarded his jacket a short time earlier, while his brother was still meditating.

"Coming, bro!" Xaltis charged forward and the Shadows, their instincts allowing them to sense another heart and Keyblade, turned from Talis to face him. "Get off my brother!" He slashed at a Shadow, missing one, but slicing through a couple more, since Shadows loved to travel in packs. He slashed at a couple more but, unbeknownst to him, two were coming from behind him and slashed at his back one after the other, ripping his cloak near the crest. He fell forward a bit from the impact, cursing under his breath. "Rip my cloak, will you?" He spun in a wide arc, his Keyblade carving through the Shadows like butter. "Talis, you alright?"

Talis, on the other hand, hearing his brother fight, regained some inner strength and fought off the Heartless that surrounded him, clearing a path to one end of the platform. "Yeah! Dang Heartless getting in my way. There are too many!" He breathed heavily, surveying the min-battlefield before him. "You think we should, X?"

Xaltis, who had fought his way to the other side of the platform in the meantime, responded, "I don't see why not, T; as you said, there are a lot of these things, and it's been a long while since we fought together..."

"Don't have to tell me twice. Prepare to lose!" The twins ran at each other, swinging their Keyblades as fast as possible, destroying numerous Heartless in short order. Once they reached the center of the platform, Talis jumped over Xaltis, who slid underneath his vaulting brother, and they repeated the same to return to the other ends of the platform. But their Limit was not over yet; both knights struck the platform at the spots where they stood and then began to draw on the platform by dragging their Keyblades behind them, making a giant Crest of the Royal Knights. Finally, to end their Limit, they jumped high in the air and called out "Salus in Lux Lucis!" at which time the drawing on the ground started to glow. Both flew down to the platform and land heavily on their feet, swords crossed and light enveloping the platform, killing every Heartless in its path. (*)

When the light faded, nothing was left except the platform before the Heartless' arrival and the twins, breathing heavily, but with smiles on their faces. "Nice to see you haven't lost your touch, T. I knew you were holding back when you fought me."

"Same to you, big bro; nice job there."

"Good job to both of you; you have passed your test, and now it is time to learn why exactly you have received Keyblades. As you both should already be aware, the war between the two factions in your Kingdom threatened to tear it apart, but you found a way to finally end it by joining together as one. Although you both disappeared soon after that moment, your friends took that "sacrifice" and made peace with one another. However, though there is peace once more in your home, the same cannot be said for the universe. Right now, others who also hold Keyblades as you do are fighting to defeat a great evil that threatens more worlds than just your own. You two, as the Keybearers of your world, shall fight also to combat this evil."

"Voice! It's you again! But, wait, a few questions first. One, why were we chosen to be Keybearers? I mean, sure, we indirectly brought peace to our world, but our family did all the work."

"Two, there are other inhabited worlds besides ours? And how come we haven't been affected by these events before?"

"For your first question, you two were chosen because you have the strongest hearts. Keyblades, though weapons, are sentient and choose their Wielders. Only those of the strongest heart can receive their aid and use their power. Even though, at one time, Xaltis succumbed to the darkness in his, he was able to come out of it thanks to you, Talis, and the strength of your bond as brethren.

"And as for your other questions, yes, there are other worlds and the reason you have not been affected by the events is because the evil I told you about did not recognize your existence until the events of the past few months..."

"Whoops...uhh, sorry about that, Talis."

"Don't worry about it, big bro; you were lost then. Plus, I don't think it's your fault if Voice's explanation is correct. But then, Voice, how do we fight this evil?"

"Use your Keyblades, young warriors, and remember vires quod lucis in pectoris, the strength and light in your hearts, it will never fail you...as you say in your homeland, Salus in Lux Lucis (*). Indeed, this is farewell for now, boys. Take care of your loved ones. When the time comes to fight, protect them. I may return to teach you more, or you may learn it on your own, but for now, go back home."

As soon as the voice faded, light surrounded the pair and carried them out of the Station of Awakening to an uninhabited part of their homeworld, Kage no Sabaku, the Shadow Desert. The darkest part of their homeworld, there were only two reasons to be in a place of this nature. One was to be away from everyone and the second, if one didn't have a choice. But here they were, trying to get home to their family and friends.

"How do we get home from here again?"

"Good question, T...I actually don't quite remember."

"But, isn't this where the Castle was?"

"You mean, my Castle? Umm...I think so. There are ruins here, but it has been a while, you know. You kinda blew it up, remember?"

"Oh, right...hehe, I forgot. Gotta love that Novus Form." (*)

So the twins walked aimlessly through the Shadow Desert, searching for a sign, a hint, anything to direct them back home. Suddenly, in the distance, Talis heard a low rumbling. "Do you hear that, X?"

"Hear what, T?"

The rumbling sound gets louder and a cloud of dust starts traveling toward them. Talis pointed toward the dust, musing, "That, do you hear that?"

"What the hell is that, T?"

Talis looked into the horizon and thought back to his memories of before the Station. "No...way...no freakin' way! That's...that's..."

From the cloud of dust, a man rode up on a motorbike, but this was not the ordinary motorbike. Colored green and black (remind you of anyone?), the bike had many secret compartments to hold all sorts of weapons and other miscellaneous items. On either side, the Crest of the Royal Knights was emblazoned in bright green. The man riding the motorbike looks just like Talis and Xaltis, only with blue eyes and white hair. He sported a dark blue T-shirt, blue jeans, and blue and white sneakers and his Royal Knight Crest tattoo was visible on his upper arm. As he pulled up before them, he stopped on a dime, kicking up dust which spread outward from the bike. "Salus in Lux Lucis, brothers...never thought I'd find you two this quickly."

"Kalin? Did you get taller?" Xaltis laughed at his own clever comment, winking at their apparent third brther.

"Very funny, X, I was about to ask the same thing!"

Talis laughed at his brothers clowning around with each other until his brain caught up with his younger brother's method of transportation. "Hey, why are you riding my bike?!"

"Well, someone had to ride it, and I certainly wasn't going to let any of the girls get a hold of this thing; you know how they are."

"Well, did you at least bring a way for us to get back? We can't all fit on that thing."

"Of course! I'm not an idiot; I've been prepared for your return for a while, like I said." Kalin pressed a button on the control panel of the bike and two compartments opened, revealing twin hoverboards. "I've spent every morning out here searching for you. You had to turn up sometime."

Kalin hopped off of the motorbike and grabbed the two hoverboards, handing one to Xaltis as he approached. "Here's mine...and one for you, X. T, I'd imagine you want to ride your bike back to the castle, right?"

"You know me well, brother..." Talis got on his bike and grinned, his eyes alight with veiled excitement. "It's been a while, eh, old friend? Let's head home, bros! Hope you remember how to get back!" With that, Talis revved the supercharged engine and sped off into the desert sands, Kalin following not far behind with a whoop of joy.

"Hey, wait a second...guys! I really don't remember how to get back!" Xaltis rushed to catch up with them as they fade into the distance.

~~~~~~TKtK~~~~~~

LoneStar: "It feels so good to actually have time to tackle this again; I truly missed writing and hearing from you all. I've read so many fanfictions since I first wrote this story in, what was it, 2010? I'm hoping that my writing style has gotten better since then and can eventually stack up to some of the greats on this site. Anyway, couple of notes. First, as I said before, I will be using many elements from canon. Some things will change as I see fit, however; after all, this isa fanfiction, so we're meant to take creative license, no?"

Talis: "That's a fair point, using characters other than Sora and Riku? That's bold, man."

LoneStar: "Of course it is! But that's the point of creative license. And it presents different challenges as well as opens up blank canvasses for use. Some parts people will recognize and some parts will be brand-new, I hope, or as brand-new as they can be with hundreds of thousands of stories in this database."

Talis: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, just don't screw up my story."

LoneStar: "Hey! At least I remembered your bike!"

Talis: "Sure, sure, whatever...Anyway, we'd all like reviews, so don't forget to do so, and if you have any ideas for O.C.s or anything like that, feel free to send LoneStar a private message with your ideas. He'll be sure to credit you if he uses them."