Heartbeat in the Land of the Heartless
Before there was time, before the was anything, there was emotion. Not any of the emotions we know today, such as happiness or sadness, but just empty emotion, like a blank canvas before being painted. This all changed 12 billion years ago, when the Big Bang expanded the universe as we know it. This event dissipated emotion from its emptiness, and the Emotional Spectrum was born, allowing all living beings to experience the emotions of life.
However, even after all living beings were given their emotions, there were still leftover emotions in the Spectrum, which were left simply floating aimlessly around the universe. The leftover positive emotions ended up coming together into emotional stars.
It is incredibly rare to find those stars, as they hide in the furthest reaches of the universe. Instead of simply glowing, those emotional stars pulsate like gigantic hearts of light. Because of this, they were given the name ‘Beatstars’. Legend says that once every thousand lifetimes, a bolt of light will fly out of a Beatstar, and that whoever is struck by this light will never be the same, ever again.
The light of the full moon illuminated the cold of the night in a suburban neighborhood. All houses had their lights turned off, and the place was silent. In the second floor of one of those houses was a small room, where a little boy slept. He was not sleeping peacefully, but instead rolling around the bed with an expression of struggle. He suddenly opened his eyes and sat up, breathing heavily. It had just been a nightmare. The third one he had had that week. The boy turned to his door, as he was sure he had heard footsteps.
“Mom?” The boy called, his only response being silence. The boy slowly got up from his bed and made his way to the door. He breathed heavily for a few moments, and flung it open. It was just an empty corridor. There was nobody there.
The boy carefully closed the door and turned back to his room. There was no one there but him. He began to calm down as he made his way back to his bed. He reached for the covers, when a hand suddenly came out from under his bed and grabbed his leg. The child screamed as he tripped, and then looked at the creature. The place was dark, and he could see nothing but a pair of massive yellow eyes, without any pupils or irises. The child once again screamed in terror and began to cry, when the door suddenly flung open and an adult woman wearing a sleeping gown ran in.
“Jimmy! What is going on?” She asked.
Jimmy looked back to the creature under his bed, only to see it had vanished. He continued to cry, as his mother gently took him in her arms.
Not only positive emotion was leftover. There was also negative emotion, the type of emotion we all try to avoid. Hate, sadness, despair, fear, guilt, envy. Those emotions also came together, but they evolved very differently. Instead of becoming Beatstars, the negative emotions gained new life, and thus the Heartless were born.
The Heartless are known by many names. Boogeyman, Bloody Mary, Changeling, Ghoul, Kappa, La Llorona, Mothman, Sack Man, Slender Man. The Heartless are the thing hiding under your bed when you are a child. They are that thing that you thought you saw moving in the darkness. They are that thing you thought you heard in the cold of the night. Whenever you are alone, but you feel like you’re being watched, the Heartless are the ones watching you. They are terrible creatures made of nothing but pure and utter evil.
A small group of Heartless stood at the top of a large hill, overseeing a city in the middle of the night. The Heartless varied in appearance, but those in particular were small creatures, only about as big as a human 14-year-old. Their bodies were humanoid, but covered by reptilian scales, which were colored pitch black. They large pointy ears, as well as sharp claws, and sharp fangs that made for a large wicked smile, which made a perfect combo with their devilish blank yellow eyes.
“Hehehe! Did you see that brat’s face?” One of the Heartless declared, as they all laughed loudly. “He almost had a heart attack!”
The other Heartless continued to laugh, their high-pitched giggles echoing through the night.
“We still have a few hours before the festival! Let’s go do something else!” Another Heartless declared. The others laughed and followed him.
One of the Heartless suddenly stopped, as he noticed something in the corner of his eye. He looked up to the stars, noticing one of them was not simply glowing, but instead pulsating. The Heartless stared at it in confusion for a moment, as a small ray of light flew out of the Beatstar and across the night sky like a comet. The Heartless stared at the shooting star in confusion, when the light suddenly flew downwards into Earth, perfectly striking that Heartless.
“Hm? What?” The Heartless asked as his body glowed for a few moments. He closed his eyes and shook his head in slight confusion. He once again opened his eyes, to reveal they were no longer yellow and blank. His sclera was now white. Green irises had appeared on his eyes, as well as pupils inside of them. The Heartless shook his head a few more times, blinking his eyes. “What just… happened?”
The Heartless carefully reached for his chest. He felt strange, as if he had just wakened from a nightmare into something completely different.
“Hey, idiot! Are you coming?” One of the other Heartless called.
“Sorry! Sorry!” He apologized for lagging behind, as he quickly chased after the others.
An old man carefully made his way through the road that led to the small city. He was walking slowly, his walking stick making a small noise every time he took a step. The old man heard the sound of quick footsteps coming from behind him, and turned around to see nothing. He turned back to continue walking, when one of the Heartless leaped onto him and knocked him down. The Heartless laughed, as several other jumped in and began kicking the old man on the ground.
The Heartless with the green eyes stared at the scene from a few meters away, not sure of how to react. He felt something touching his foot, and looked down to see the old man’s walking stick had rolled to him. He gently picked it up, before another Heartless dragged the crying old man to him.
“The stick or his skull, which one will break first?” One of the Heartless commented, before they all laughed. “Only one way to find out! Hehehe!”
The Heartless with the green eyes almost froze in place as he stared at the old man. He breathed heavily, as the other Heartless slowly stopped laughing.
“Just smack his lights out already!” Another Heartless yelled impatiently. The one with the green eyes remained still, staring at the scene with an expression of doubt. Another Heartless went to him and tried to take the walking stick from his hands. “I’ll do it then!”
His green eyes widened as he instinctively pulled the walking stick back, making the other Heartless fall to the ground. The Heartless on the ground looked up at him angrily, as he heard the sound of growls coming from around him. He dropped the walking stick and took a few steps back, as the other five Heartless began surrounding him like animals about to attack their prey.
One of the Heartless roared and dashed, only for the one with the green eyes to avoid it and slam the Heartless to the ground at the last second, knocking him out. He breathed heavily, starting to panic. The other Heartless dashed at him all at once. He instinctively punched two of them away, before another one scratched him on the back. Another Heartless punched him square on the face, only for him to block the next punch and flip the Heartless over his shoulder, slamming him onto another Heartless.
One of the Heartless on the ground jumped back up, only for the green eyed to grab him and toss him several meters. The green eyed turned around and took a punch to the face, but quickly recovered and punched back, before grabbing the Heartless by the neck and slamming him to the asphalt, knocking him out. Another Heartless got up from the ground and scratched the green eyed several times, making him yell in pain, but he swiftly recovered and struck the Heartless with several punches to the face, making him faint.
The two remaining Heartless got back up and attacked together. Green eyed grabbed one of them and slammed his face onto a nearby tree, knocking him out, before the other Heartless punched him several times. Green eyed blocked the following punches, before tossing the Heartless to the ground, jumping on top of him, and punching him until he fainted.
The green eyed one got back to his feet, the only Heartless still remaining. He turned to the old man, who stared back at him with terror in his eyes. The green eyed one had been in fights before, he was a Heartless after all, but this was different. He picked up the walking stick and took a few steps towards the old man, who closed his eyes in fear. The green eyed one gently placed his hand over the old man’s chest, as he began hearing a strange sound.
The old man opened his eyes, to see the green eyed Heartless had disappeared, and that he had given him back his walking stick.
Heartbeat entered the Land of the Heartless. The place was almost pitch black, to the point in which only beings with night vision, such as the Heartless, could properly see. Although that was likely for the best, as one could only imagine the horrors that hid behind that darkness.
Heartbeat stared at his own hand. He had never felt the need to have his own name before, as far as he knew, he was always just another Heartless, so why did ‘Heartbeat’ feel so right for him? He gently placed his hand over his chest, feeling nothing. He was a Heartless, he did not have a heart.
Heartbeat stopped right in front of a large fountain, which was releasing a black liquid, and looked up into the starless sky of the Land of Darkness. Beatstar, that’s what it was called. His entire life he could feel nothing but negative emotions. At that point he could feel almost anything… yet there was something missing.
The dark skies suddenly changed, making Heartbeat jump back slightly, as a massive and terrifying humanoid face appeared over the entire Land of the Heartless. This was their leader, the Unknown King.
“Attention, Heartless. There are only a few minutes left until the festival.” The Unknown King declared, his booming voice echoing through the entire land. “All are allowed to watch, and any are allowed to participate. Death is a risk for those who choose to compete. The victor will join my personal court, the highest honor in the Land of the Heartless. Beware, for my court does not accept the weak.”
The face of the king disappeared just as fast as it had appeared. Becoming a member of the Unknown King’s court. Could this honor be what Heartbeat was missing. He looked at a large coliseum in the distance, where the festival would take place, before his expression changed into one of purpose.
Heartbeat stood inside the dressing room of the coliseum, being able to hear the sound of the crowd outside. Almost every Heartless in the world must have been watching the festival, yet when he looked around, he could only see seven competitors, eight counting himself. He guessed the Unknown King was not joking when he said the festival was incredibly dangerous.
Heartbeat opened a small locket and reached into the darkness inside, as the darkness changed shape and became solid, forming a suit of armor that would perfectly fit him. He was lucky they had access to items made of solid darkness, because he highly doubted that he’d ever find an armor small enough to fit him otherwise. All of the other competitors would have had the opposite problem, as they were all large and muscular, some of them reaching the height of elephants.
“Competitors!” They heard, just as Heartbeat finished putting on his black armor. “Present yourselves!”
The eight competitors walked out into the middle of the coliseum, where a crowd of cheering Heartless greeted them. The crowd wasn’t cheering for them, quite the opposite in fact, they were cheering for their deaths. The audience was there to see seven of them dying horribly. The Unknown King sat on top of a large throne above the soon to be battlefield. The King smelled the air for a few moments, before his expression changed into one of disgust.
“Divide yourselves into two groups. Four on each side.” The Unknown King ordered, which the competitors swiftly obeyed. “Now… kill each other.”
The two groups dashed forward, clashing right in the middle of the battlefield. Two large and muscular fighters approached each other, one shaped like an ogre and the other shaped like a troll. The two used the darkness of their armor to create solid weapons. The troll of them created a large black battle axe and struck the other on the left shoulder. No blood came out, as Heartless are made of negative emotions, and as such do not bleed. The ogre screamed in pain, but quickly recovered and used the black war hammer he had formed to knock away his enemy’s helmet. Before the troll could react, the ogre hammered him on the head, knocking him to the ground as the crowd cheered.
A tall Heartless formed a black spear and used it to slice off one of his opponent’s heads in a single hit. He smiled and the crowd cheered, only for his eyes to widen in surprise, as he realized he had not decapitated his enemy, but instead just knocked his helmet away. The enemy was a Heartless shaped like a demonic turtle monster. The monster’s head came out of its shell, before it opened its mouth to reveal large fangs, which he used to eat the entire upper half of his opponent’s body. The creature held the opponent in its mouth and began chewing, until the opponent stopped moving and the crowd cheered.
A large Heartless in a musketeer outfit looked around in search of his opponent, only for a black blur to suddenly speed by and punch him on the face, knocking him to the ground. He got right back up and looked around, to see that same black blur running circles around him like a hurricane, and realize he was facing a speedster. The speedster Heartless punched his opponent several times from all direction, only for his opponent to casually turn around and hold a sword in the air. The speedster was unable to slow down in time and ran right into the sword, essentially stabbing himself as he fell to the ground and the crowd cheered.
Heartbeat formed a sword and a shield out of darkness, as a large Heartless shaped like a gorilla approached him. The gorilla threw a punch, which Heartbeat avoided, before preparing to slice his enemy’s head with the sword. Heartbeat stopped himself in doubt, allowing the gorilla to throw another punch. Heartbeat blocked the attack with his shield, as the impact send him rolling across the battlefield.
The gorilla prepared to throw another punch, only for a large blade to stab him on the back, coming out through his chest. The gorilla fell to the ground, as the musketeer pulled his sword out of the gorilla’s body. The musketeer dashed towards Heartbeat and attacked with his sword, which Heartbeat was just barely able to avoid.
Before the fight could continue, the large ogre Heartless dashed towards them and attacked with his hammer. The musketeer casually avoided it, while Heartbeat was just barely able to block it with his shield, the impact of the hammer once again sending him rolling through the ground. The musketeer approached the ogre from the left. The ogre tried to react, but he still had a battle axe stuck on his shoulder, which made him unable to move that arm fast enough. The musketeer sliced the ogre’s head off with a quick sword slash.
The musketeer turned around and dashed towards the turtle monster, aiming for its head. The monster easily avoided it by hiding on his shell, and then once again released his head to try to bite his enemy. The musketeer reacted swiftly, stabbing the turtle right through the neck, before turning his blade and cutting its head off. The musketeer turned to Heartbeat.
“Enough!” The King declared, as the two stopped fighting and turned to him.
“P-please…” Pleaded a weak voice from the ground. Heartbeat turned to see the troll Heartless was still alive, just barely being able to crawl through the dirt. “I give up… I don’t want to fight anymore…”
The Unknown King waved his hand, as bolts of crimson lightning suddenly fell from the sky, striking all of the defeated competitors, including the troll, and obliterating their bodies into nothingness. Only Heartbeat and the musketeer remained.
The Unknown King once again smelt the air, his face showing disgust. He recognized that smell from centuries prior. That was the smell of a Beatstar, but that couldn’t be possible, could it? No trace of positive emotion would be crazy or stupid enough to try sneaking into this negative realm where the Unknown King ruled supreme.
“Stand on opposite sides of the arena.” The King ordered, which the two obeyed. “Whoever stands victorious today will be given the honor of joining my court, while the other will be ashes. Now… kill each other.”
The musketeer dashed towards Heartbeat and trusted with his sword, which Heartbeat was just barely able to block with the shield. Heartbeat held onto his own blade and tried to attack, only for the musketeer to easily block it, and send Heartbeat’s blade flying with a quick movement.
Heartbeat tried to distance himself from the enemy, but it did no good, as the musketeer swiftly attacked with a flurry of sword strikes, which Heartbeat was just barely able to block.
“Have you ever held a sword before?” The musketeer asked mockingly, as he easily swatted the shield out of Heartbeat’s hands, knocking him to the ground. The musketeer trusted his blade at Heartbeat’s face, which the green eyed Heartless was just barely able to block with his claws. The blade stopped for a single moment, until the musketeer began pushing it down, and Heartbeat realized it was slowly moving towards him. “Don’t delay the inevitable.”
Heartbeat closed his eyes as he thought over what he had been through. Was he truly going to meet his end here, without achieving his dream of joining the King’s court… but that was not actually his dream, was it? What Heartbeat truly wanted was to be complete, although he was not sure what that even meant. What is it that he was missing? What is it that made a Heartless incomplete?
“A heart!” Heartbeat whispered as he opened his eyes in realization. The black armor around his body suddenly began glowing, making the entire crowd gasp, before Heartbeat’s body released a large explosion of light, which sent the musketeer flying away.
“That light! I’ve seen it once before!” The Unknown King declared in surprise, which was quickly replaced by anger, as Heartbeat stepped out of the light. He was still wearing the same medieval armor, but it was now a shining white suit. His sword and shield had returned, now made of solid light. The audience screamed and began taking steps back, as the light seemed to repel them.
“I will not fall here!” Heartbeat declared. “Not until I find my heart!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” The musketeer asked as he dashed towards Heartbeat and attacked with a flurry of sword slashes, which Heartbeat was able to casually deflect with his own blade. Heartbeat swung his blade as a warning, which the musketeer took, jumping back to distance himself from the green-eyed knight. “It’s as if he’s a completely different warrior!”
Heartbeat dashed towards the musketeer and easily avoided several of his slashes. Heartbeat attacked with several sword swings, which the musketeer blocked with his blade. The musketeer’s eyes widened, as Heartbeat’s sword slashed right through his own, as if it was a knife cutting through paper.
The musketeer jumped away, as Heartbeat held up his shield. The shield began glowing with a white light, before Heartbeat threw it at his enemy. The shield struck the musketeer, exploding into a large blast of light that threw the Heartless to the ground. The shield then flew back, and Heartbeat perfectly caught it in his hands.
“Don’t worry. I held back so I wouldn’t kill you.” Heartbeat declared, as a confident smile formed on his face.
Several Heartless suddenly ran in and surrounded Heartbeat. He looked up, to see the Unknown King had finally gotten up from his throne, and was focusing directly onto him.
“You dared to sneak the light of positive emotions into my negative kingdom of darkness?” The King asked in a tone of restrained anger. “You will pay greatly.”
“I apologize, Unknown King, but I cannot join your court.” Heartbeat declared. “I am going on a journey to find a heart. If you stand in my way, I will have to battle you as well.”
“You are a fool.” The Unknown King declared. “Kill him.”
The Heartless dashed towards Heartbeat, whom leaped into the air and back-flipped. He landed far away from his enemies and ran through the exit of the coliseum as fast as he could. He glanced back to see what was basically an army of Heartless dashing towards him. He was clearly outnumbered. He’d need a miracle to escape. Heartbeat’s green eye widened as the armor began glowing around his body, before a bright light engulfed him, and he vanished into thin air.
The Heartless looked around in confusion, before hearing the heavy footsteps of the Unknown King. The Heartless turned around and bowed their heads as the King approached the area.
“Teleportation.” The King declared, as he sensed the pattern of the light in the air. “He went to the Planet Earth. Send every available Heartless there. I will not allow anyone to disrespect my authority and simply walk away.”
The other Heartless nodded, as the King turned around and made his way back to the coliseum.
There was a bright flash of light, and Heartbeat fell face first into the ground. He got up and shook his head, as he realized the armor and the weapons were turning into light and disappearing around his body. He instinctively knew how to summon them, so it seems like he can instinctively dispel them as well. Heartbeat looked around, to see himself inside a dark building, which was filled with clothes.
“What is going on here?” A human security guard asked as he ran into the room with a flashlight. Heartbeat turned to him and waved with a smile, only for the security guard to scream like a little girl and run away.
“I guess humans aren’t used to seeing Heartless. This could be a problem…” Heartbeat commented as he looked around. It seemed like he had teleported right in the middle of a clothes store.
Heartbeat searched through the clothes for a few moments, before pulling out an overcoat. He put it on, realizing it was way too big, since it was meant for adults, and he was only about as tall as a 14-year-old. Heartbeat quickly used his claws to cut the fabric, turning it into a smaller overcoat that fit him perfectly. Heartbeat then leaped on top of a nearby shelf and grabbed a black fedora, placing it on his head. He back-flipped onto another shelf and put on a pair of sunglasses.
“This looks cool!” Heartbeat commented with a smile, before he broke through a window and jumped out of the clothes store, making his way down the streets of the city.
Heartbeat looked up to see the sun was rising in the horizon. This brought a smile to his face.
“Alright…” Heartbeat commented, as he began casually walking down the sidewalk in the direction of the sunset. “Now to find a heart.”
To be continued?
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