Quatre: Well, at least one person expressed interest in my Pendragon/Kingdom Hearts crossover, so I'll go ahead and post it. For those who don't know about Pendragon and are only reading this because it's Kingdom Hearts, I suggest you go and read the Pendragon books. They're as good as, if not better than, Harry Potter.
Not much else left to say, and, as I'm in school and supposed to be working on my Latin study guide, Ame-tachi has run away.
Warnings: AU post-Reality Bug, Pendragon. AU before Hollow Bastion but after Neverland, Kingdom Hearts. Not shonen-ai… yet.
Disclaimer: I own neither Pendragon nor Kingdom Hearts.
Notes: Journals will be titled with the name of the territory in …. Everything else will be titled with the name of the territory in /…/.
Hey guys. I know it's been a while, and I'm sorry. Things are normal; that is to say, crazy. Since Veelox fell, nothing I've known to true about being a Traveler has been the same.
But let me back up.
You last heard from me on Veelox, right? After my failure on that territory, I feared for Gunny's life. I didn't want anything to happen to Gunny, so I went off to Eelong to see if he needed my help.
I stepped from the flume in time to see Gunny entering it. The African-American Traveler blinked, as if he were surprised to see me there. The feeling was mutual.
"What're you doing here?" I asked him.
Gunny sighed. "Saint Dane isn't here, Pendragon. The local Traveler told me that this territory's turning point came and went. Press was here to help her stop Saint Dane. He tricked us."
I stood in silence processing this fact. "Where did he go, if he isn't here?" I asked quietly.
"Kasha says she chased Saint Dane to a flume, but could not get there in time to stop him. He went to a place called 'Traverse Town'."
"Will you come with me to Traverse Town?" I asked. I didn't want to face Saint Dane alone. Loor had to go back to Zadaa, and I didn't trust Spader to not screw up the mission.
Gunny shook his head. "I've been away from First Earth long enough. I just want to go back to being a bellhop. I'm too old for this Traveler business. I thought I could take it, but after what I've seen here…" He smiled weakly. "It has been an honor working with you, Pendragon, but I'm afraid I will only burden you."
I nodded sadly, and was completely surprised when Gunny stepped forward and wrapped me up in a grandfatherly hug. "Come and visit, ya hear?"
I choked back tears. "All right."
He stepped to the mouth of the flume, smiled at me over his shoulder, and called out, "First Earth!"
A moment later he was gone.
I stood there like an idiot for a few minutes afterwards. I was sad to see Gunny go. I mean, after the near-fiasco on First Earth, I had felt a little better knowing that Gunny was working with me.
I banished those thoughts from my mind and stepped to the flume. Now was not the time. Instead, I had to go to this Traverse Town place and figure out for myself what was really happening there.
"Traverse Town!" I called.
As the flume caught me, I wondered briefly why the territory was called a town.
The flume dropped me into an underground cavern that reminded me of Cloral. There was a small shelf of rock overlooking a pool of water, with a tunnel entrance in the water. I did not want to swim out of here, especially not in my Veelox jumpsuit. Belatedly, I looked around and spotted the familiar pile of clothes near the entrance of a small room directly opposite the tunnel. In this room was a small platform at about head height. With luck, this would take me out of here.
First things first. Clothes.
I dug through the pile and was glad to see that the clothes looked like they'd come from Second Earth. I gladly pulled on a pair of black jeans and a dark blue t-shirt. Also in the pile was a standard pair of sneakers, a pair of blue fingerless gloves, and a black vest that hung open over my t-shirt.
I didn't see anything wrong with keeping my boxers this time.
After hiding the Veelox clothes, I climbed onto the small platform and looked up. The room's ceiling extended into darkness. I looked around and saw that the stone wall looked like it had been scraped by something that was exactly as big as the platform. The scrape marks went up.
Even as I noticed these things, the stone platform began moving. I wasn't ready and fell flat on my butt. Was this the Traverse Town version of an elevator? If so, then it seemed pretty low tech to me.
The ride up was slow, so I sat on the platform and began turning my thoughts to what I was supposed to do on this territory. From what I've experienced so far, I always landed near the Traveler from the local territory.
How was I going to find him, though? I couldn't exactly go around broadcasting the fact that I was from another territory.
I could only hope that the Traveler would recognize my name and seek me out.
My musings were interrupted by a light steadily growing brighter above my head. I fell into a crouch, prepared as I would ever be for whatever awaited me.
The tunnel slowly grew brighter and brighter. I held my breath, waiting to see what I would find at the top of the elevator.
Finally, I emerged into… a sitting room.
"How are your travels, Sora?" a voice called from outside. I could tell he was an old man, but he sounded as full of life as a teenager.
Was Sora the Traveler from this territory? If so, then maybe this man could help me find him.
Before I could find the owner of the voice, he found me. A tall, aged man in what we on Second Earth would call blue witch clothes, hat and everything, walked into the room and saw me. He didn't look disappointed at finding someone else. Rather, he smiled wider than before, his hat threatening to fall off.
"Welcome! Forgive me, but usually Sora comes that way, and I thought you were him. My name is Merlin, and would you like some tea?"
I stared at him. He didn't seem to notice or mind, instead turning to the table that dominated the sitting room. I finally blinked and looked around the room.
This was a one-room house. The bed was jammed near the wall of the circular room, with junk cluttering almost every square inch of the area surrounding a raised platform, which held a table ringed with chairs. Merlin brought me a cup of tea. "Are you new to Traverse Town?" he asked kindly. I took the cup and smiled at him, taking a sip. It wasn't bad. I walked over to the table and sat down.
"Yeah," I admitted, thinking that this couldn't be the only place in the territory.
"I see," Merlin said. "So, which world are you from?"
I stared dumbly at him. How could he…?
"It's okay. Only people who've lost their own world find their way to Traverse Town. I myself am not native to here."
"I'm from Second Earth," I said uncertainly. "My name is Bobby Pendragon."
"Ah, Press's nephew? He's told me about you. He said you would be coming here eventually." Merlin smiled.
At that exact moment I was wondering how everyone knew my Uncle Press.
"Are you…?" I began.
"No, I'm not a Traveler, nor am I an acolyte. Press came to Traverse Town a few years ago and tried coming up with some story about being from another town in this territory, but there are no other towns. Traverse Town is the only place in this territory, but believe me, this place is huge. He told me about the Travelers then, and since then, I've been waiting for you. The flume entrance is down there, isn't it?"
I was speechless. That answered my question about why the territory was named.
"Y-y-yes," I stuttered.
Merlin smiled. "No need to be so nervous, child. I assure you, I have no intention of causing you harm, though it is well in my power to do so."
That was supposed to make me feel better?
"What would you prefer to be called?" Merlin asked. "Bobby, Pendragon, or Robert?"
"Bobby," I answered. Finally, my brain caught back up to me and I remembered that I was supposed to be looking for Traverse Town's Traveler. "Do you know the Traveler from this territory?"
"No one in Traverse Town is indigenous to this territory," Merlin said, as if I should have known this all along. I stared at him openmouthed.
I'm sure you can understand my confusion. From what I've learned, only Travelers can travel between territories. This threw that law out the window.
"What do you mean?" I demanded.
"As I've said before," Merlin said calmly, "Traverse Town is the territory for those who have no place else to go." His voice took on a sad note as he said this.
Realization hit me like a ton of bricks, and I gulped.
"You mean more territories have already fallen?" I asked weakly.
"Yes, but not to Saint Dane," Merlin assured me. "There is still time to save those territories and send everyone home."
"How? What caused them to fall?" I wanted to know.
"Leon will explain. He knows about Travelers, as he was an acolyte before his home territory fell. You can find him in the first disctrict of the city, near the item shop."
"How do I know one district from the next?" I wanted to know.
"Look above the large double doors. They will tell you which district you are in, and the doors lead to another section." Merlin frowned. "You must be cautious, Bobby. There are forces in this town that want to destroy it." He stood up from the table and walked over to a large pile of junk covered by a large tarp. He peeled back the tarp to reveal a variety of things, among them books, dishware, and weapons. It took him a moment to locate what he wanted, but he tugged it out and I saw that he had a long, Japanese-style sword. He came back to the table and set the sword down.
"This is an ancient weapon from my home territory," he said solemnly. "It is enchanted so that with it a noble heart can cut down those with even the most corrupted of hearts. A later magician enchanted it so that its bearer would be granted the skills to use it as long as it was this weapon that was being held. I want you to take it."
I gaped at him. This sounded like a cool weapon, and very valuable. Why would he give it to someone he'd never met before today?
"I can't take it from out of this territory," I realized with regret. Merlin pinned me with an intense gaze the likes of which rivaled Saint Dane's. I wasn't frightened, though. He didn't want to scare me.
"Heed my words, Robert Pendragon," he said solemnly. "The boundaries that separated the territories have weakened, almost to the point of breakage. Leon can explain this better, but trust me when I say the normal rules don't apply. Take this weapon with you wherever you go, for it is instrumental in the fight to come."
I nodded and took the weapon from the table. There was a belt attached, and I threaded it through the loops of my jeans. Merlin helped me adjust the sword so that it hung on my left side and didn't get in the way of my walking.
"Do you remember where Leon is?" Merlin asked.
"First district, Item shop," I recited. My left hand rested on the hilt of my new sword. It felt strange.
Merlin smiled. "Good luck, Bobby." He motioned to a curtain hiding a section of wall. "That will lead you to Traverse Town proper. Be careful, though. The stepping stones move."
"Move?" I asked. "Like that stone elevator?"
Now that I thought back, there was nothing that could have moved the platform. I hadn't seen any pulleys or anything.
"You may not believe it, but magic exists," Merlin chuckled. "Leon will explain more."
I nodded. "Thanks," I said sincerely.
He turned away from me, and I ducked through the curtain to find myself in a large cavern.
Did I say large? Scratch that. It was huge.
It was circular and domed. When I looked up, I couldn't see the ceiling for the shadows. Water surrounded this little shack, like a moat, protecting Merlin from uninvited guests. I didn't see any stepping stones, so I walked around the house until I reached the front door.
What I saw made me stop and stare like an idiot.
There were stepping stones, I didn't bother to count how many, forming a path from the far side of the cavern, where I could see a tunnel leading out of the cavern, to the little island I was standing on.
These stepping stones moved. They drifted steadily back and forth, no more than two lining up at one time. I had no idea how I was supposed to jump that, but there was no other way out, so I took a steadying breath, backed up a bit, and waited for the nearest stepping stone to pass by.
When it did, I jumped onto it. It was only a few feet from the island, but I nearly toppled into the water because the stone moved to the side, whereas I was moving straight. Some physics thing or other dealing with force and friction and Mew… What did Pokemon have to do with physics?
I couldn't help my chuckle. Of all the inane things to worry about, this was one of the silliest.
I figured that if, instead of jumping straight across, I could jump a little in the direction the stone was moving, I wouldn't have as much of a problem. So, I tried it.
Thank you for teaching me some physics, Mark. Turns out it wasn't so useless after all.
My idea worked. After that, all I had to do was time my jumps right and I wouldn't have a problem.
I made it across and patted myself on the back. Then I turned to the tunnel and started forward.
Leon was waiting for me, whoever he was.
Mark and Courtney looked up from Bobby's latest journal at the sound of the basement door opening. The two of them were down in Courtney's basement, as usual, and didn't think that anyone would bother them there.
"Courtney?" Mr. Chetwynde called tentatively.
"Yeah?" Courtney called back.
"I want to try something. Do you mind if I come down there?"
Courtney raised an eyebrow. Since when did her dad have to ask to use his own workshop?
"It's all right!" she said. Mark rolled up Bobby's latest journal and stuffed it into his bookbag. They both stood and passed Mr. Chetwynde on their way up the stairs.
"I'm heading over to Mark's place," Courtney called over her shoulder. "I'll be back before dinner."
The two of them left Courtney's house and walked to Mark's house in silence.
Of course the two of them knew all about the fall of Veelox. They'd received that journal a month ago, and were shocked that the good guys hadn't won. Since then, they'd kept an eye on the flume in the haunted house, dutifully carrying out their tasks as Second Earth's acolytes, hoping, praying, that Bobby was able to stop Saint Dane.
This new information threw a wrench into the works.
"What did Merlin mean, the barriers between the worlds were breaking?" Mark suddenly asked quietly. "Can normal people from Cloral or Denduron use the flumes now? Or will one world slip into another, or-"
"I don't know," Courtney cut him off. "Let's get back to your room and finish the journal. Then we can figure out what we need to do next."
They made the rest of the trip in silence. Mark's parents were out, so they sat down in the living room.
"Let's get this show back on the road," Courtney said bravely as Mark pulled out the journal. This one was written on thick paper, in sheets tied together in a crude binding. It was written in purple ink.
I exited the cavern and was relieved to find myself in an actual town. The entrance to Merlin's peculiar cave rested behind a door with a flame emblem on it. This door slid shut behind me as I walked down the alleyway that the door lay at the end of. It wasn't a long alleyway, but long enough that people left it alone.
I emerged from the alleyway and saw a set of double doors almost directly ahead of me. A sign at the top proclaimed that I was in the Third District. I had no idea what was behind those doors, but what else could I do? I headed for them.
I didn't notice the danger until it was around me.
The air sort of shimmered, like on hot days, you know? From these patches of shimmering air popped creatures the likes of which I'd never seen before, but that reminded me horribly of the Reality Bug.
I was surrounded by ten night-black creatures half my size. They were vaguely human shaped, with clawed hands and expressionless faces. From their heads were long things that could be either ears or antennae.
I looked closer and realized something that made my skin crawl.
These things didn't have faces. I saw two shiny points that could possibly be eyes, and a slit that could maybe have been a mouth, but I saw nothing else.
They formed a circle around me, and I gulped. These things couldn't be good news. The only weapon I had was the one Merlin had given me, so I drew the sword and waited for them to make the first move. For all I knew, they could be pets here in Traverse Town.
The one directly in front of me tilted its head, as if it were studying me just like I was studying it. I shifted nervously, my other hand coming up to grasp the hilt of this sword on its own.
Then, it attacked.
I ducked to the side and slashed at it. My sword sliced through it like it was made of shadow, but it screamed and vanished. As if this were the signal, the other things leapt at me. I spun and blocked a claw, then turned the block into an attack that caught it in the middle. It, too, screamed and vanished.
That left eight of them. I didn't wait for them to attack this time. I raised my sword and charged.
I managed to get two of them with one shot, then used the momentum from the slice to twirl away from the claws of another as it came at me from the side. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't stop to think. All I knew was that if I stopped, those claws would tear me apart.
I was starting to get tired, too. I wasn't used to this. I could run for my life if I had to, but this – this was new.
A stab finished off the fifth opponent, but I was too late to block another and felt claws tear through my lower left arm, leaving angry red trails that started oozing red. I brought the sword down in an arc over its head, but the pain from my left arm was immense and the blow was noticeably weaker. It staggered back and came at me again, and I brought my sword up to block.
This was bad. I kept blocking blows, backing up and trying to get away. All five of them were in front of me, and my back was to the double doors that led to who-knew where. If I could get to those, maybe I could get away from these shadow-creatures.
I was wishing for Loor right now more than you can ever know. She was usually the one who took care of the fighting. But now I was on my own.
My back thunked against the doors. I was pinned.
Obviously I didn't die, because I'm writing this to you now. My salvation came in the form of a maybe twenty-something man who looked like he could be a biker from Second Earth. His hair was long and dark, and his sword was so big he had to use both hands to swing it.
For the moment, he was my best friend. No offense, Mark.
His sword cut through three of them, then he jumped back to stand beside me.
"Are you all right?" he asked me. I nodded.
"Just got scratched a bit."
Up close I could tell that his hair was brown, and his eyes were a kind, understanding blue.
"Are you still okay to fight?"
I nodded again, raising my sword that looked tiny compared to his.
We both charged at the shadow creatures together. The remaining two creatures didn't stand a chance.
I stood there breathing hard, standing next to a man that I didn't know. He could be Saint Dane for all I knew.
At the moment, I was tired, sweaty, and injured. Now that adrenaline was flowing from my system, I noticed numerous other cuts that I had somehow gotten. Why hadn't I noticed them before?
"Let me see your arm," he instructed me. I held it out to him without thinking. Did I mention that he was on my left side, too? He studied the gashes for a moment, then caught my hand in a surprisingly gentle grip and pulled me away from the doors I'd been fighting to get to.
"I have to get to the First District," I protested. Then an idea hit me. "Do you know a man named Leon?"
If he lived in Traverse Town, then chances are he knew the man I was looking for.
He didn't answer. We climbed a set of stairs that lay to the left of the doors and headed for a brightly lit house next to another set of double doors. He led me inside and plopped me down into a chair, then turned around and rummaged through a cabinet, returning to the table with a basket of medical supplies. I surrendered my arm to him without having to be asked. He gently began wiping the blood away from the cuts.
We sat in silence for a few moments as he finished cleaning my arm and started wrapping it in bandages.
"What business do you have with Leon?" he asked suddenly. I looked up at him. He was focused on my arm and didn't look up, so I couldn't see his face.
"I'm supposed to find him. Merlin said he could explain the territory to me," I answered. "Merlin said he would be in the first district by the item shop."
He finished his task and finally looked up at me. I could see curiosity swimming in his eyes, and a bit of… humor?
"Territory," he repeated softly. "You're a Traveler, then. What brings you to Traverse Town?"
I stared in shock. Suspicion crept in, then.
"You're Leon," I guessed.
He laughed. "That's right. It's nice to meet you. What's your name?"
"Bobby Pendragon." I looked at my arm and studied the bandages. "I'm from Second Earth. Merlin told me you could explain why no one in Traverse Town is from this territory."
"Second Earth? You must be Press' nephew, then." Leon smiled wistfully. "If you're the Traveler, then Press must be dead. It's a shame."
Why did everyone know Uncle Press?
"Saint Dane isn't the biggest threat in Halla," Leon said, serious again. I brought my arms up to the table to rest my head on them to listen, then realized I'd never sheathed my sword and did so. "There are beings in Halla that have no heart. By heart, I mean spirit or soul, nothing in them that would make them human. These creatures were born long ago from the darkness in the human heart, and recently, a sorceress named Maleficent has released these beings from their territory. They are the Heartless, and their goal is to find the heart of every territory. If they gain control of the heart, the territory is destroyed. This has happened to dozens of territories already."
I had to sit a minute and let everything sink in.
"What is the heart of a territory?" I asked at length.
"It's better known as the Keyhole, and it is in an out of the way place where none of the territory's inhabitants travel, or if they do, it is rarely. Sometimes, as in Traverse Town, it is in the place least expected."
"So Traverse Town's Keyhole was already found?" I asked.
Leon nodded. "The Keyholes can be sealed, but only by the bearer of the Keyblade." He frowned in thought. "Cloud has told me that you are the lead Traveler. Maybe you should meet Sora."
Sora? Merlin had mentioned a Sora, too.
"Who's Sora?" I wanted to know.
"He's the Keyblade bearer, and the one to save Traverse Town. We all owe our lives to him," Leon said.
I had several other questions, but I wanted to choose my next one carefully. Some of my questions had already been answered. I'm sure those shadow creatures had been Heartless.
"So who exactly is Sora?" I wanted to know. Merlin trusted Leon, and if Leon wanted me to see this Sora person, then I would.
"You'll meet him tomorrow. Everything I know about him is up to him to tell you," Leon said, and I didn't argue. "Now, I'm going to go get some things. You don't need to worry about the Heartless; Merlin's cast charms about this place. Feel free to take the bed. I don't usually sleep here." With that, he picked up his sword and left me alone in the house.
As soon as he mentioned the word "sleep", I realized that I really was tired. I looked around and saw the bed that Leon had mentioned. It was jammed in a corner and littered with books. I got up from the table and moved the books to the table, then slipped off my sneakers, set the sword on the floor next to the bed, and climbed in.
I was asleep within minutes.
Quatre: Good? Bad? Confusing?