Chapter 1: Ready or Not Here We Come

A/N: Hello everyone! Welcome to Dream Drop Memories! I know this series has had a few issues lately but I wanted to at least give it one more chance. I know there's a lot of readers who enjoyed this series and I felt like I was being unfair with what I said last time so I'm giving it one more shot for you guys! And with what I've seen in the Kingdom Hearts 3 trailers, I felt like I really do need to finish off this series because who knows what's gonna happen at the end of this.

So sit back and enjoy this new version of Dream Drop Memories!

And as always, I don't own Kingdom Hearts, I just own my oc's.

Enjoy!

/

A king's life was never easy. When one task was completed, another one would make itself known. Such is the fate that was placed before King Mickey.

After the fall of Organization XIII, the King found himself with more loose links than he originally thought he had-or rather loose pages. It seemed that the journals Jiminy Cricket used to chronicle Sora and Hikari's journey carried more than just his words-they carried another's. After decoding the clues that the journal left, the King realized that he found a clue that would help him with a task he had going on for a long time…fourteen years to be exact.

With this new information in hand, he quickly rushed to his old mentor, Yen Sid to tell him what he had learned.

/

The old wizard looked at the journal Mickey decoded and read the once sentence that started this search.

Their hurting will mend when you return to end it.

There was no doubt in the wizard's mind who those harmed souls were. Even after fourteen years it still pained Yen Sid that Xehanort would stoop so low as to destroy four innocent souls for his ambitions.

Terra, Aqua, Ven and Lumen were four innocent children that got caught up in Xehanort's web of darkness and destruction. Each suffered a painful fate and each soul was left in pieces. All this time Mickey and Yen Sid wondered where they were and how they could save them. It seemed now that they had a lead.

"Yen Sid, I think we're finally close to figuring out where Ven's heart is" Mickey said.

Yen Sid rubbed his chin in thought. Ventus's fate was rather complex. While Aqua was trapped within the Realm of Darkness and Terra's soul was stuck within the Keyblade Graveyard, Ven's whereabouts were unknown. And of course, there was Lumen whose fate was probably the saddest of the four.

"Is that so?" he asked.

"Then that leaves only Terra and Lumen"

Mickey nodded eagerly, knowing that they were getting closer to finding their lost friends.

"Right, we've got to save all four of them" he said.

"And this one clue that I found in the journal might lead us to them"

He turned the page that contained the clue to how they would rescue them. Yen Sid looked at the page and felt the air leave his lungs.

Her slumbering will cease when you bring her back together.

Yen Sid closed his eyes gravely. After Terra lost his body to Xehanort, Lumen went after him, hoping to save the man she loved. Sadly, Xehanort got the best of her and nearly managed to steal her heart. Knowing what he planned to do with it, Lumen made the ultimate sacrifice and shattered her heart into pieces and hid them within four other hearts before she went into a deep slumber.

The whereabouts of her body and heart were a mystery to Mickey and Yen Sid…that is until now.

"Do you think it's talking about Lumen?" Mickey asked.

Yen Sid nodded as he clasped his fingers together.

"There is no doubt in my mind that tells me it is her" he said.

"It seemed Lumen was very meticulous about her demise. Knowing her fate, she must have made sure that in order to save her we needed to save those three as well"

Mickey tilted his head in confusion.

"What do you mean?"

Yen Sid closed his eyes, thinking of the complex situation Lumen put herself through.

"Much like Ventus's situation, in order for him to awaken he must have his heart returned" he explained.

"In Lumen's case she needs all of the pieces of her heart returned to her if she is to ever awaken. Finding those pieces would be complicated if you don't know where they're hiding. However, knowing Lumen, she placed them within hearts that need to be found"

Mickey's eyes widen in realization.

"You don't mean- "

Yen Sid nodded.

"Yes, Lumen hid her heart within Terra, Aqua and Ven. She knew they needed to be found so in order to save her we have to save them first"

Mickey started to put the pieces together as his mentor spoke.

"And if we look for Lumen's heart, then that will lead us to Ven's as well!"

Yen Sid nodded. With the way Lumen set this up, they would be killing two birds with one stone.

"Correct. All the hearts are linked to one another. If we find one piece of Lumen's heart it'll lead us to the others"

Mickey's face fell realizing that they didn't have part of Lumen's heart. Without one of the pieces, there was no way for them to find Terra, Aqua or Ven. Just when they got one step closer to saving them, it brought them one step back from making it happen.

"How do we accomplish that when we don't have a piece that will lead us?" he asked.

Yen Sid rubbed his beard in thought. That was a problem indeed, however…

"Perhaps that piece has been within our grasps this whole time? Being right under our noses without us ever realizing that it was there" he muttered.

Mickey looked at his mentor in confusion.

"What do you mean?"

Yen Sid ignored him, pondering over something else that was bothering him for some time. Back to when Xehanort let his plans unfold.

"The question that ponders me is this: does Xehanort know of this as well?"

Mickey jumped a little at the mention of that name. Why would he be involved when he was gone?

"Xehanort? But his two halves are gone" he insisted.

"There was Ansem, who commanded the Heartless…and Xemnas, who commanded the Nobodies. Didn't Sora and Hikari defeat them both?"

"Correct, those two met their end" Yen Sid said.

"However, therein lies the problem. Their destruction now guarantees the original Xehanort's reconstruction"

Mickey paled a little, not liking where this was going.

"How can that be?" he asked.

Yen Sid looked at his student gravely. Even though he had learned so much since being an apprentice, there was still much he had to learn.

"Xehanort's heart, once seized by his heartless half, is now free. And his body, which had become his Nobody, has been vanquished" he explained.

"Both halves will now return to the whole. In short…this means Master Xehanort will return"

Mickey's heart stopped within his chest. The thought of that mad man returning made him shiver. He made so many people suffer the last time he tried to gain power over Kingdom Hearts.

"And you think…you think maybe he's going to try something?"

Yen Sid nodded, already knowing that Xehanort was up to something despite not physically being there.

"A man like Xehanort will have left many roads open" he said.

"And I'm sure one of those paths lead to finding Lumen's location"

Mickey shook his head. He wasn't able to save those four in the past, but he would not let Xehanort find them. And he wasn't alone this time either.

"Well, it doesn't matter what he cooks up!" he said.

"Me, Sora, and Hikari, we'll be ready-and Riku too!"

Yen Sid smirked a little thinking of those three. Despite being thrown into this mess, they proved that they could handle it and were willing to keep the worlds safe.

However, that wasn't enough.

"Yes, they are indeed strong. But…not true Keyblade Masters, like you" he reasoned.

He looked at his student seriously.

"Tell me…would a single one of you suffice if what you faced was not a single one of him"

Mickey looked at his mentor in confusion. More than one Xehanort?

"What do you mean?"

Yen Sid ignored him as he stood up. He already had an idea of how to deal with Xehanort and to see if he could find that one piece of Lumen's heart that was within their grasp. It was a risky gamble, but time was running out.

"Mickey, please summon Sora and Hikari hither. Riku as well" he ordered.

Mickey looked at Yen Sid, wondering why he suddenly wanted them here.

"Of course, but…why?"

Yen Sid looked at him gravely.

"To show us the Mark of Mastery"

/

Hikari looked around to see herself within a crystal cave. It looked familiar and yet at the same time it didn't.

"Where am I? This place almost looks like the outer areas of Radiant Garden" she said to herself.

Despite not knowing where she was, she felt like she knew where to go. Taking one step after another she walked deeper within the cave, the crystals acting like little natural lights.

The whole cave gave off this sad, lonely vibe as if there was a soul trapped within its walls.

As she walked, she could have sworn she heard someone calling out to her.

'Help me, Hikari. You have to help me'

Fearing that someone was in trouble, she started sprinting, trying to find the owner of the voice.

"Where are you? What's wrong?"

As she kept running she heard the voice calling to her over and over again.

'You have to help me, Hikari"

She kept running until she finally made it to chamber deep within the cave. The whole room was filled with crystals, making the area glow with its natural light.

However, that wasn't the only thing that was within the chamber. Standing near one of the bigger chunks of crystals was someone Hikari knew-someone who made her into what she was today.

Lumen wore a sad look upon her face as a tear rolled down her face.

"You have to help me save them, Hikari. You're the only one who can find them" she said.

Hikari took a step back, shocked by what she was seeing.

"W-what are you talking about? Who do you want me to find?"

Lumen didn't answer her. Instead, she held her hand out and had chains made of light spring out from her. The chains flew forward and went into Hikari's heart. The keyblade mistress looked in alarm as she saw chains coming out of her chest.

"What are you doing to me?! Let me go!"

Lumen lowered her hand, looking at the ring sadly that was resting on her finger.

"It has to be you, Hikari" she said.

"Please end our suffering"

/

"AHHHHH!"

Hikari jumped from her seat and breathed heavily. Patting her chest, she was relived to feel that there were no chains protruding from her. However, she still felt them as if they were still there.

Sora and Riku looked at her worriedly as she tried to regain her breath.

"You okay, Hikari?" Sora asked.

Hikari gave him a weak smile and nodded.

"Just a crazy dream" she insisted.

Sora made a face before sitting back in his seat. They were currently on their way to see Yen Sid at the request of the King.

Hikari sighed as she slumped in her seat. That dream was weird yet intense at the same time. She knew who that woman was in the cave. It was a very long time since she saw that face, but she would never forget it. She had only met Lumen once long ago as a child, but that one encounter changed her fate forever. Having decided she found a worthy successor, Lumen performed the Keyblade ceremony with Hikari, and granted her the powers to use the Keyblade. It was thanks to that one meeting that she was able to be who she was today.

She never saw Lumen after that day, and yet she felt like she did somehow.

That dream however felt anything but one. She knew she had never been inside a cave full of crystals, but it felt like had. That chamber felt familiar, the pathway felt like she had walked down there, she could recall what certain colors the crystals looked. Why did it seem so familiar to her?

Better yet, what did Lumen want from her? She said she needed to help her find the others, but who were these other ones?

She was pulled out of her musings when she felt Riku's hand on her shoulder. The poor boy looked worried as he saw his girlfriend's troubled expression.

"You okay?" he asked.

Hikari smiled weakly.

"I'm fine. Just a bad dream…or at least I think it was"

Riku looked at her sadly before he pulled her close.

"Think it was one of your memories?"

Hikari shook her head and she nuzzled closer to him.

"I don't think so. It didn't feel like a memory, but I felt like I knew about it"

"Wonder if its caused by stress over what King Mickey told us"

Riku flinched a little.

Mickey had sent them a letter explaining that Xehanort might have returned and that he needed them to see Yen Sid urgently. Just the thought of that wretched man returning made his skin crawl. That evil wretched man scared their hearts and almost destroyed their lives. He almost made Riku one of his vessels while he tried to take Hikari's and Kairi's hearts to open the Door to Darkness. It was one of the reasons why Riku cut his hair short, he wanted a fresh start in life and wanted to sever his past regarding Xehanort.

Hikari sighed as she looked at the ground. Mickey had mentioned that Xehanort had caused a lot of harm on the ones called Terra, Aqua, Ven and Lumen. Just thinking that Lumen was one of Xehanort's countless victims in his quest made her heart ache.

Just how many more lives did that man intend to ruin?

She as well as Sora and Riku weren't going to let that happen, which is why they accepted the King and Yen Sid's invitation to become Keyblade Masters. She didn't know what these Mark of Mastery exams would accomplish but she hoped it would help them stop Xehanort once and for all.

"Do you think these exams will really help us stop Xehanort from coming back?" she asked.

Riku looked at her before he shrugged.

"I can't say" he said.

"I don't think taking these exams will prevent his return, but I'm sure they'll give us a better chance at defeating him"

Hikari fiddled with her pendant nervously.

"I'm kind of nervous about these exams. None of us have ever faced anything like this before"

Sora looked at her with a hopeful grin.

"What's to be nervous about? We've beaten this guy twice already, I'm sure the third time will be the charm. And think about it! We'll be actual Keyblade Masters!"

Riku nodded reassuringly.

"Sora's right, I'm sure we have nothing to worry about. And if anything, bad happens, you'll have a Keyblade Master to protect you"

Hikari smiled softly and cupped his face.

"I think I'd rather have my boyfriend protect me than a Keyblade Master" she teased.

Riku smiled and placed his hand over hers.

"Hey! Don't get all lovey dovey back there! We're almost there!" Donald called out.

Hikari laughed and dropped her hand.

"Sorry, Donald"

She looked out the Gummi Ship window to see the stars pass by.

'That dream…I wonder if it has something to do with Xehanort?' she thought.

'What are you trying to tell me, Lumen?'

/

The sight of the Mysterious Tower was rather surreal for Hikari. She came here to begin her last adventure and she was here now to begin another.

'Least I won't have to get a new outfit this time' she thought.

Sora was busy chatting away with Donald and Goofy while they walked up to the tower, which left Riku and Hikari to walk together in the back.

"Too bad mom couldn't come with us to see us take the exams" Hikari said.

"I heard the Mickey wanted her and Tsukiko to go to Disney Castle to help the Queen with something" he said.

"And because knowing her, she would have wanted to jump in and help us pass, so it's probably best that she isn't here"

Hikari laughed at that, knowing it was true.

Everyone nearly made it to the top of the tower when Riku suddenly stopped, grabbing Hikari's arm in the process. Hikari looked at her boyfriend, wondering what was wrong.

"Riku?"

Riku looked at her and gave her hand a squeeze.

"You know I won't let anything bad happen to you, right?"

Hikari tilted her head in confusion.

"Huh?"

Riku just gave her a gentle look as he cupped her face.

"I know you're worried about what's happening and how we're going to deal with Xehanort. You've been nervous ever since we got that letter"

Hikari gave him a weak smile, trying to mask her emotions. She was nervous about all of this. Sure, her last two adventures were nerve wrecking…but something about the King's letter put her on edge…almost as if something bad was about to happen. And that dream she had of Lumen couldn't be a coincidence either. These two had to be connected somehow. She really couldn't say though because she had no idea how they were connected and because she didn't want to make Sora or Riku worried. Why waste time worrying on something when you didn't know what it was, right?

"I'm fine, Riku. I'm just overwhelmed" She said.

Riku just gave her a pointed look.

"Come on, you may be able to trick Sora but I'm smarter than him. What's really going on in your head?'

Hikari sighed in defeat. Of course, Riku could see through her poker face.

"It's just...we just defeated Organization XIII, but by doing that it caused Xehanort's return"

She sat down on one of the steps, feeling as if the weight of Mickey's words were finally weighing down on her.

"It's like everything we did to keep the worlds safe just had the opposite effect I think we might have made things worse"

"But if we didn't stop Xemnas and the Organization from taking over Kingdom Hearts, think of how many lives would have been ruined because of them" Riku reasoned as he took a seat next to her.

Hikari looked at him sadly. It seemed that he didn't sense the warning signs that she was feeling.

"But…something about these exams just feels off" she said.

"And that dream I had earlier, it's connected somehow. I just get this feeling like something really bad it about to happen and I don't know how to prevent it from happening. We're not just going up against Heartless and Nobodies this time…we're going after the man who started it all"

Hikari's hand shook slightly in fear. She had never felt like this on her last journeys but maybe they were all starting to catch up to her…or maybe it was because someone was afraid of Xehanort.

Riku looked at Hikari sadly. He didn't blame her for being nervous about Xehanort when the man pretty much destroyed Hikari and Taiyouko's lives. A man like Xehanort didn't care about anyone or anything.

"Hey, look at me" he said gently.

He cupped her face and pressed his forehead against hers.

"It's gonna be okay" he said.

"I'm nervous about all of this too and I'm wondering how we're gonna tackle this. But you know what? We're not alone in this. With you, Sora and I together, we'll be able to handle this. And I promise you that I will never let anything bad happen to you. As long as we're together, everything will be alright"

Hikari closed her eyes, basking in the sound of Riku's voice. He was right, she could do this. She traveled to different worlds and protected them from the Heartless, she survived having her heart taken from her, she defeated not only Xehanort's Heartless but his Nobody as well.

She could do this.

Smiling, she placed her hands over Riku's.

"You're right, we'll be okay. We stopped him before and we can do it again" she said.

"And if we don't do anything now, who will help those four that Mickey mentioned?"

Riku smiled and kissed her on the lips.

"I love you, and that will never change no matter what. Whenever you feel nervous just remember that"

Hikari blushed a little; she still felt giddy whenever Riku told her he loved her.

"I love you too. I did travel to different worlds to be with you again" she teased.

Riku chuckled and stood up, offering her his hand.

"Well then, what are we waiting for? That test won't take itself you know"

Hikari nodded and grabbed his hand.

"Yeah, let's go. Oh, and before I forget"

She took of her pendant and placed around Riku's neck.

"This helped you out a lot on your last journey. I want you to have that help again for this as well"

Riku touched her lucky charm and smiled. He never realized how much it meant to him until now. It symbolized the bond they shared and that no matter how far away they were from each other, it would always bring them back together.

"I don't know how much help I'll need with this exam, but I'll take all the help I can get"

Hikari smile smiled and held his hand. Even if for some reason they were separated again by something, they would always find their way back to each other thanks to that pendant.

With that, they climbed up the rest of the steps that would lead them to the next portion of their journey.

/

The three keyblade wilders stood before Yen Sid. Knowing that they were about to face would be no walk in the park, they listened to the wizard's words like they were sacred.

"As a Keyblade Master, Xehanort had a gift like few others" the wizard began.

"But such great minds are often plagued by a single great question. What is the essence of the human heart that weakens us, or empowers us? The answer, he believed, would be found in the 'Keyblade War'. What if the challenges of our past were in fact, a map to the light and darkness that battle within us all"

Hikari secretly grabbed Riku's hand, knowing all too well what that feeling was like. Seeing Riku nearly succumb to the darkness nearly drove her mad. It was thanks to Sora not giving up on him and her love for him that helped her go forward and save him. It seemed Xehanort was unfortunate to not have someone there for him when he went too far.

"Xehanort had to know, so he renounced his duties as Master and chose the Seeker's life. Since then, in many a guise, he has clashed with protectors of the light-Keyblade Wielders like yourselves. And mark my words-he will trouble us yet again"

Mickey looked away sadly thinking of Terra, Aqua, Ven and Lumen. He failed to save them from Xehanort, but he would throw his life away if it meant Sora, Riku and Hikari wouldn't have to share a similar fate.

"We must be ready" Yen Sid said.

"Which is why you, Sora, Riku and Hikari, are to be tested for the Mark of a true Keyblade Master"

He smirked slightly seeing the protesting look on Sora's face and the questionable one on Hikari's.

"No doubt you fancy yourselves master's already, but it takes years of training. Only a true Master can teach you the proper way" he explained.

"The three of you are self-taught Keyblade wielders-an impressive feat. However, the time has come for you to let go of preconceived notions, forget what you know about the Keyblade, and begin your training with a clean slate"

Sora laughed nervously, not liking the idea of starting from scratch. They worked really hard to get where they were now, why did they have to toss that away?

"But that's a formality right" He asked.

"We already proved ourselves. Me, Hikari, the King, and Riku-we can take on anything"

He looked at Riku to support his claim.

"Right, Riku?"

Riku looked at the ground, not liking the attention.

"I don't know" he said.

He summoned his keyblade which showed traits of it being connected to the darkness.

"I think in my heart, darkness still has a hold" he said.

"Walking that path changed me. I'm not sure I'm ready to wield a keyblade. Maybe I do need to be tested"

Hikari looked at him sadly. It seemed despite what he said earlier, he was having doubts about this as well. Even after everything they did, he still couldn't forgive himself for the sins he committed.

"Riku…."

She closed her eyes before looking at Yen Sid. It seemed now her mind was made up about the exam. It Riku was going to support her taking the exam, then she would do the same for him.

"Then count me in as well. Put me through the test" she declared.

Sora nodded, feeling eager to take it and prove how strong he became.

"Just watch-me, Riku and Hikari will pass with flying colors!"

Hikari smiled at Sora's enthusiasm. It was moments such as these that it was needed to calm everyone's nerves.

Yen Sid nodded in acknowledgement.

"Very well then. Sora, Riku, and Hikari-let your examination begin"

Hikari gripped Sora and Riku's hands when the exam began, and everything turned black.

'Ready or not, here we come'

/

A/N: woo wee now that was intense. Wonder why Hikari was dreaming about Lumen? Is she trying to tell something to our favorite keyblade wielder? And what about that journal entry Mickey showed to Yen Sid? Lots of questions that need lots of answers.

Please tell me what you think!

Until next time!