Ack. Forgot to save after adding notes. Oops?
So anyway. I'll try to have the fourth chapter up soon! Sorry for all the delays -bows-
I don't own Pendragon or Kingdom Hearts. Those are (c) DJ Machale and Disney, respectively.
I practiced magic for the rest of the trip. It took me a few hours, but I mastered all of the basic elemental spells. By the time I was finished, I was exhausted, as if I really had just played a full game of basketball.
I was sweaty, panting, but happy. Sora looked surprised.
"I didn't think you'd learn everything," he confessed when I flopped down against the wall for a break.
I laughed. "I'm full of surprises, even for myself," I informed him.
That made him laugh. A horn sounded then, and Sora pulled himself to his feet. "Come on. That means that we're almost to our destination." He offered me his hand, and I gladly accepted his help.
"Here," Sora said, handing me an Ether from his little black bag. "I'm sure Leon's already told you about these."
I nodded and gulped down the liquid. My exhaustion was mostly gone instantly. There was still a slight weakness in my limbs, but I could function.
Leon was right. Ethers in an emergency. I wanted to sleep.
The ship shuddered, then the engines went silent. Sora motioned me over to a hatch hidden by one of the huge engines. This one was towards the back of the ship, right next to the back wall. We exited the ship and joined Donald and Goofy at the nose.
Looking around, all I saw of Wonderland was a large hole. It was so deep I couldn't see the bottom.
Sora peered down it as well. "I remember this," he remarked dryly. He suddenly grinned at me. "See you at the bottom!"
I was too late to grab him before he swan dived into the pit. Donald was right behind him, followed by Goofy. I only stared stupidly after them. They had to be insane!
I faintly heard Goofy's voice echoing back to me, "Come on, Bobby! It's safe!"
Apparently, they'd survived somehow. I looked around one last time before mimicking Sora in my jump.
It was a long fall, but I wasn't plummeting. It was like I was being held up by a warm breeze, sort of like when I ride on the flumes, you know? After a few minutes I kicked back and enjoyed it.
Ten minutes later I was dumped unceremoniously on my butt onto a stone floor. My startled yelp was drowned out by Sora's chuckles and Goofy's gales of laughter. Donald didn't look amused in the slightest.
I scowled. "You could have warned me," I complained.
"But it wouldn't have been fun," Sora said innocently. I picked myself up, dusted off my jeans, and looked around for the pile of clothes that always awaited me on a new territory. I didn't see it, which confused me at first, but Sora's voice distracted me from contemplating this occurrence.
"Come on," Sora said, heading down a tunnel that I saw only a second before. It was a long stone tunnel, the brick walls bare.
At the end of the tunnel was a door that Sora didn't even hesitate at. I followed him through it and had to stop and blink.
It was a bedroom. There was a bed against the wall. Next to it was a door that looked like it had been built for the rats. A fireplace lay to my left, its opening barely large enough for my fist.
The dominating feature for this room (aside from the revolting pastel pink wallpaper) was the large table in the center of the room and its accompanying chair. On this table were two bottles full of a red and a blue liquid. Sora immediately went to this table and picked up the bottle of red liquid.
"Bottoms up," he grinned before taking a sip of the liquid. There was a puff of smoke, and the next time I was able to see, Sora had vanished. The bottle had made its way back to the table. Donald picked it up next, then Goofy. Both took a sip of it. Both vanished in a puff of smoke. I looked around for them but couldn't find them.
I looked to the bottle on the table. That was my key to finding them again. I picked it up, held my nose, and took a sip.
Smoke filled my eyes, and I felt a strange sensation, like I was falling without moving at all. I held my breath and waited for the smoke to clear. It didn't take very long.
"I was afraid you were going to step on us," Sora scolded from behind me. I whirled around to see the three of them hiding behind the leg of the table. We were still in the pink room. Everything had just gotten a whole lot bigger. I was the size of a mouse in a normal-sized room.
"How was I supposed to know that you guys shrank?" I retorted. Sora only laughed at my indignation.
"Sorry," he apologized. "Now come on, and watch out for Heartless."
"What are we here for?" I wanted to know as I followed the trio to the bed. More precisely, under the bed. I saw there an opening that hadn't been visible when I was normal-sized.
"Maleficent might have stopped by here since we were here last," Sora said. "Last time, the Heartless kidnapped a girl from here, so there might be something here that could help us fight the Heartless."
"How'd you reach that conclusion?" I asked dryly. We had stopped right next to the opening under the bed.
Sora shrugged. "There's something about that girl that Maleficent likes, so there may be something here, on her home world, that might help us."
"Logical," I admitted. "So why don't we use the door?"
Donald snorted. "It can't be bothered to wake up for us."
"Wake up?" I repeated. I then shook my head. "I don't even want to know."
Sora laughed. "Come on. And watch out for your head, or you could lose it."
That was a comforting thought. I kept one hand on my sword as I followed them through the opening and into a forest clearing. My brain had been bombarded with so many logic-defying things that I didn't even notice the change until I was standing in front of a podium holding a large, fat Queen.
Boy, did I have a major flashback moment to Denduron.
"That's the Queen of Hearts," Goofy whispered to me as we approached. "She likes to order beheadings."
I stared at her without trying to be blatant about it. She was dressed like the Queen of Hearts, all right, but she wasn't acting very queenly at the moment. She was loud, too.
"Off with his head!" she shouted furiously to a rabbit standing next to her. My heart froze for a moment until I realized that she was pointing to one of the playing cards that clogged this clearing. We had to push their cardboard bodies aside in order to advance. They weren't very happy about it.
"Your Majesty!" Sora shouted when he broke through the last line of cards. Donald and Goofy were right behind him, and I was right behind them.
What I saw was the most bizarre scene I had ever encountered.
The Eight of Spades was lying on its back with the Nine of Diamonds on top of it to hold it down. The white rabbit that had been issued the order stood over it with an axe.
All three of them were looking at Sora like he was an alien. Which, to them, he was.
"You dare interrupt a beheading?" the Queen roared. "Off with his head!"
Sora dodged the Seven of Hearts as it charged at him with its sword raised. "One moment, I ask you!" he yelled. The Queen grunted.
"You have one moment, thief," the Queen growled.
"I came to ask if you have heard of anything strange since I was here last," Sora said in a non-aggressive tone. The Queen seemed to consider this for awhile. "And I'm not a thief," Sora added. "None of us are."
The Queen nodded. "You have yet to prove it to me, but I will wait until you bring the other thief back. I have not seen anything except that wretched Mad Hatter. He's in the house in the forest. He's the one to talk to for information."
Sora nodded. "Thanks."
"And don't come back without the thief!" The Queen roared.
We made it out of there pretty fast, the cards parting to let us through. We found a different way out than our way in and emerged into the forest proper. It was dark and gloomy, not exactly a place I would have preferred to be.
"Why was she calling you guys thieves?" I asked Sora.
"The first time we came here, we arrived in the middle of a trial. The Queen thought a girl named Alice was trying to steal her heart. It wasn't true, of course. The Heartless were trying to steal her heart, and I proved it. She didn't believe me anyway, and while we were trying to rescue Alice, she was kidnapped by the Heartless, and the Queen wants us to find her so that she can finish the 'trial'." Sora snorted. "I want to find Alice, of course, but I'm not going to let the Queen have her beheaded."
I nodded. It made sense, after all.
"Now come on. The Mad Hatter's house is on the other side of the forest, and the Heartless like this place."
I trailed behind the trio as we picked out a path between the trees. I kept shooting glances behind me, in case Heartless decided to ambush us.
It was fortunate I was keeping an eye out. I was the only one who saw the Heartless tracking us an instant before it attacked, and therefore the only one prepared to defend Sora as it burst from the trees, razor-sharp claws seeking to embed themselves in flesh.
"Look out!" I yelled, the only warning there was time to give, drawing my sword in a flash and leaping between Sora and the Heartless. I caught the blow on the flat of my sword, causing the Heartless to jump back. On cue, more Heartless made themselves known, and soon I was faced with three.
These Heartless were different from the ones on Traverse Town. These were about the size of a small child and covered in blue armor edged in red flame-like designs. Silver helmets caught the feeble sun, throwing beams of light across the clearing.
I saw a few, though, that had eyes. Yellow eyes, to be precise. When I slashed one, it was made of flesh, not shadow.
I didn't have time to dwell on these observations, though. I was busy parrying, striking, and defending with a skill I'd only seen on TV. I wasn't thinking about this, though. I was concentrating on surviving.
To my left, Donald was whacking his own opponents with a staff about half as tall as he was, topped with something that looked like a stiff wizard's hat. To my right and a few feet behind, Goofy was taking on three Heartless with a small round shield. Behind me, Sora was doing quite well for himself with his Keyblade.
The battle lasted only five minutes. When it was over, we were tired and sweaty, but the Heartless were dead. A few bodies were on the forest floor, and Sora, Donald, and Goofy were looking confused.
"Heartless don't leave bodies," Sora said after a moment.
I knelt next to one and flipped it over so that we could see its face. Yellow, glassy eyes stared at the sky a few inches from my head, and I shuddered. Even in death, those eyes showed a ferocity that I'd only seen elsewhere.
"Quig," I whispered to myself.
The quigs on Wonderland were Heartless. I glanced down at my ring and saw that the stone was glowing. Sora followed my gaze.
"Your ring's glowing," he said. "What's it mean?"
How could I explain? I paused a moment, then said, "It glows when there are quigs around."
That was partly true. I didn't want to mention the flumes yet. And quigs hung around flumes.
"You mentioned quigs before," Donald said. "When you were talking to Cloud. You said the quigs were big monster dogs, and that sure isn't a dog." He pointed at the Heartless quig.
"Quigs are different on each world," I said. "We should get out of here before more show up." I stood and stepped carefully over the quig.
Turns out, it wasn't dead. It reached out and grabbed my leg, digging its claws deep. The pain was horrible, but not unbearable. I sliced off its arm and dove to the side, allowing Sora to step in and finish it. Its horrible cry echoed through the forest. I clutched my bleeding leg. Blood spurted through my fingers and onto the ground. It wasn't a pretty sight, and it didn't feel very good, either.
"Are you all right?" Sora asked, kneeling next to me. He winced when he saw my wound. "Ouch."
"No kidding," I said dryly. "Can you do something about it?"
Sora raised his Keyblade and said, "Cure!"
Translucent green leaves appeared from nowhere and floated around me, vanishing before they touched the ground. As they fell, I felt my wound close and suddenly I wasn't tired anymore. I stared at my bloody hand, then my ankle. My arm, the one injured on Traverse Town, didn't hurt anymore either. I unraveled the bandage to see that the gashes had closed, leaving only three thin scars.
I was speechless. Sora offered a hand, and I let him pull me up. I tested my ankle and it didn't hurt at all. If not for all of the blood, no one would have been able to guess I'd been injured.
"Wow," was all I was able to manage.
Sora grinned. "Now come on. The Mad Hatter's house is only a few minutes away."
"You've got some explaining to do, though," Donald warned.
We left the dead quigs behind and made it safely to the house of the Mad Hatter. The Hatter was a short little madman enjoying a cup of tea at a picnic table outside of his house. His conversation partner was a purple-striped cat that lapped at the tea like it was a cup of milk. He looked up when he saw me, and I swear, his grin stretched from one furry ear to the next, it was so wide. I'm not kidding.
"Well, well," it said. "If it isn't the lead Traveler, or should it be the Traveler being led?" It blinked lazily. "I've been expecting you, which in itself is unexpected. We don't often see Travelers on our poor territory. What brings poor you here to our humble territory?"
We all blinked at it.
"And you are?" I asked blankly.
"Oh, silly me, silly you, silly them. I'm the one and only Cheshire Cat, the one who knows all and the one who knows nothing." Its expression didn't change at all. It only blinked lazily again.
"The Queen said you might now what has been going on here," Sora said.
The Mad Hatter cackled. "Terrible happenings, terrible. They may interrupt my tea time." He sipped from his cup and poured another.
"The yellow-eyed creations of the demon saint have come, oh yes," the Cat added.
"The quigs?" Sora asked.
"Why yes, my young Traveler," the Cat grinned. "The quigs, the demons who plague the territories guarding the gates of the fates of Halla."
"You know about Halla?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.
"Of course. Halla is everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere," the Cat said as if this were the most reasonable thing in the world. Worlds. Whatever.
"Where did the quigs come from?" Sora asked.
"They came from the Hollow Castle, from the Demon Saint, from Pendragon and from Kairi," the Cat answered.
"How'd you know his name?" Donald demanded.
"Why shouldn't I?" the cat answered back. "He's famous, you know. Saving three territories at once? Quite a feat. Earth is not safe, though, not in the least. You must find its heart, whether it be first, second, or third."
Sora's group shot me a strange look. I shrugged. "He's saying I have to find the heart of my world," I guessed.
"That's what I said," the Cat said idly.
"So what's going on in this territory?" I asked, trying to divert the topic.
"The Queen steals heads, but will lose her own soon enough," the Cat cackled. "Soon, Pendragon. Soon. Demon Saint has been here but is now gone, and the shadows draw ever closer. The territory will topple, and Halla along with it."
"The turning point," I guessed.
"I said that," the Cat said irritably. It stood and stretched. "Well, I must be off now, but first I have something for our dear Pendragon." It padded over to a small grey cloth bag on the table, picked it up with its tail, and brought it over to me. "You will know who to give this to when the time is right," it told me. I took the bag and, opening it, found two Traveler rings.
When I looked up, the Cat had gone.
"That was informative," I observed dryly.
"What turning point?" Sora asked. "What did it mean?"
"In addition to the Heartless threat, each territory will one day come across a point in time that will determine whether the territory will fall into eternal chaos or prosperity," I explained. "That's the turning point of the territory."
"You keep saying 'territory', why?" Goofy asked.
That I couldn't answer right away. Finally I said, "That's what my Uncle referred to the worlds as, so I just… fell into the habit of calling them territories."
It was the truth. Partly, at least.
"There've never been quigs on Wonderland before," Sora said, falling into a chair at the long table where the Hatter was obliviously having his tea.
"That means this territory's turning point is approaching," I said. "The quigs on each territory will be different, but you can tell them apart from everything else by their yellow eyes. The quigs on my territory are giant monster dogs, like I told Cloud. On a territory I've been to that's all covered in water, the quigs are giant monster sharks. They're adapted to the territory and always deadly."
They all sat there and processed this information. "How do you know all this?" Sora asked me finally.
"I can't tell you," I answered honestly. "I don't understand some parts of it myself. All I know that this moment, right now, was meant to be." I chuckled. "That's what my uncle said when he died. 'This is the way it was meant to be'. I believe it."
They accepted my answer. For the moment.
"All right. So how do we figure out the turning point?" Donald asked.
"The Cat may have told us already. The Queen will lose her head," I recalled. "How, or why, is up to us to find out."
"Is it already too late?" Sora asked.
I shrugged. "We need to rest, though, so we can find out and be prepared for anything."
We returned to the Gummi Ship by going back through the Queen's courtyard and into the bizarre room. The blue potion returned us to our original size, and we went back out the door and to the area where we had first arrived. A few Heartless were waiting for us, but Sora, Donald, and Goofy worked together with an ease that I envied, and the Rest Point, a glowing green circle on the ground, was our ticket back to the Gummi Ship. It also healed the wounds we received in the fight.
After a small meal of fruit and vegetables, we all spread out blankets on the engine room floor and settled down to sleep.
Long after Sora, Donald, and Goofy fell asleep I found myself wide-awake and staring at the ceiling. The Cheshire cat's words kept playing over and over again in my head and I wondered what it'd meant. I knew that the Demon Saint was Saint Dane, but what was he doing on Wonderland? For that matter, how did that cat know about Saint Sane and Halla? Was he the Traveler for this world? Or was he just some random nutjob who'd met Saint Dane?
These thoughts chased themselves around my head as I stared up at the softly lit interior of the Gummi Ship's engine room. The only sounds I could hear were Goofy's snoring and the quiet chatter of the Chipmunks. At least I wasn't the only one awake at this hour.
After a while I got up and pulled on my shoes, vest, and gloves. My sword was propped up near the door next to Donald's staff and Goofy's shield, and I retrieved it quietly. Sora was muttering something about rain and fruit when I slipped out of the ship.
The fall into the world was very relaxing. I enjoyed it and almost regretted when it was over. It was a quiet walk down to the corridor to the door of the pink bedroom and I drank the potion that made me small with minimal hesitation.
The passage under the bed was pitch black, and I had to keep my hands on the walls or else risk hitting them. The passage was about twenty feet long, so it wasn't long before I felt polished wood give way to tangled bushes. I got several minor cuts for my trouble, but I didn't mind.
In the courtyard of the Queen of Hearts I found that the entire deck of cards was bunched in a loose pile around the Queen's podium. The white Rabbit was nowhere in sight. The Queen herself was absent, but I could hear her snoring so I assumed she was sleeping nearby.
The entrance to the forest was an archway made of the same bushes as the path from the house, and through it nothing could be seen. The starlight that lit the courtyard could not get through the trees. I was a bit nervous, but I stepped through the archway and began making my way through the forest.
It took me an hour to get to the clearing where we'd been attacked by quigs and the Heartless. The bodies of the quigs were still there, their yellow eyes gleaming softly from the light of the moon that had only appeared within the last five minutes. Sora had told me on our way back to the Gummi Ship about how the Heartless took on different forms to suit the worlds they attack, so I now knew that the quigs of Wonderland took the form of Heartless Soldiers. The things that had attacked me on Traverse Town were Shadows.
I skirted past the quigs and continued on my way. Another half hour brought me to the clearing where I'd first met the Cheshire Cat. Neither he nor the Mad Hatter was in sight, but the table was still set for tea.
"Great," I complained to a nearby teapot. "I came all this way for nothing."
The teapot waddled over to a cup and poured some tea. I chuckled.
"Thanks," I said, taking a seat and picking up the cup. The tea was still warm and, as I sipped, I watched the teapot. I knew it was watching me, and after a minute it waddled over to a softly boiling saucepan and tapped it with its spout. It waddled back over to me and tapped my left hand, which was resting on the table, then turned around and went back to the saucepan and tapped it again.
I watched it bemusedly as it repeated these actions several times before I finally understood what it wanted me to do. I picked up the saucepan and refilled the teapot after it opened its lid for me.
"You're welcome," I told it as it settled down happily. Steam trickled out of its spout lazily.
It suddenly occurred to me that I was having a cup of tea at night in the middle of a forest while talking to a teapot. I couldn't help my chuckle.
"Welcome back, Traveler," I heard a voice say from behind me. I twisted in my seat to see the Cheshire Cat lounging in a tree behind me. "What brings you here at this hour?"
"I wanted to know how you knew about Travelers," I said. "Are you the Traveler of this world?"
"I am a Traveler who doesn't travel," the cat said simply. "I have always stayed here. Wonderland is a simple place whose turning point would not have come now if not for the Canine Saint."
"Saint Dane's here?" I asked, slightly alarmed. "I thought you said he was gone."
"He was gone but he's back. You must save the Queen's head, lest this world lose its own." The cat watched its own tail twirl lazily in the air, looking for all the world like it was talking to itself.
I nodded. "So if the Queen dies the territory will fall into chaos. All right. Do you know who's going to kill her?"
The Cat grinned, perfectly relaxed. "The one who will kill her will come from the Hollow Castle in the guise of a friend. The one who holds the Key will know what I mean. Now, good night. I believe there is something of importance waiting at the flume. Do get it before the Demon Canine Saint."
Before I could say another word, he vanished. I stared dumbly at the spot where'd he been before I realized that the teapot was tapping my arm. I looked down to see that is had refilled my cup of tea.
"Thanks," I said, picking it up. "I've got to get back before my friends miss me. I'll see you tomorrow."
It gave a mournful whistle as I left.
Back in the forest I retraced my steps to where the dead quigs lay, then glanced down at my ring and turned until I saw when it glowed the brightest. That was the direction in which the flume lay. I picked my way though the increasingly heavy underbrush for a good ten minutes before I saw the star symbol that designated a flume.
It took another five minutes and a good deal of hacking with my sword to actually get to the opening of the flume. It was a small cave set into the base of a small hill with the star carved into a large oak tree.
Inside the mouth of the cave was a small brown package that was labeled "To Pendragon."
Two hours later I was back at the Rest Point. Stepping into it, I found myself suddenly at the top of the hole right next to the Gummi ship. I walked in as quietly as I could manage in my shoes.
The ship was the same as I'd left it except for one thing: Sora wasn't anywhere to be found. I didn't want to wake Donald and Goofy, so I slipped off my shoes and made my way to the cockpit, the small package tucked under my arm.
"Couldn't sleep either?" Sora asked me as I shut the door as quietly as I could. He was reclining in the pilot's seat, his eyes fixed on the stars outside the window. I was surprised but recovered quickly and settled into the copilot's seat. Sora didn't even turn to look at me.
"No," I admitted. "I went for a walk."
Sora didn't answer, so I turned my attention to the small package I carried. It was relatively light and wrapped with nondescript brown paper, like something sent through the mail on Second Earth. The tearing of the paper attracted Sora's attention and he turned his head to look at me.
"What's that?" he asked curiously.
"I don't know. I found it in the woods." I finished opening the package and revealed a small wooden carving of a heart crossed with an X. At the bottom where the two halves of the heart met was a small arrowhead shape. A crumpled sheet of parchment paper protected the carving. Sora inhaled sharply.
"That's the Heartless symbol," he said, taking up the carving at examining it closely. I smoothed out the parchment and saw that it was a note.
" 'Dear Pendragon,'" I read aloud. "It's a comforting thought, knowing that one day you will be drawn into my web of darkness. I'm sure that my handiwork on Veelox convinced you that it would be better to join me than to fight.'"
I had to stop reading then. I knew at once who had left the carving.
Sora, impatient, took the note form me and kept reading.
" 'Halla shall be thrown into chaos and only those who are on my side shall survive. I once again extend to you my invitation, and give you this carving as a token of friendship.
" 'We shall meet again very soon, and I will await your answer.
" 'Sincerely, Saint Dane.'"
Sora set down the note and studied the carving again.
"Whoever this Saint Dane person is, he's working with the Heartless," he guessed. He handed the carving back to me, and I took it without really noticing. "Is Veelox another world you've been to?"
I nodded, my fist clenching around the small heart that fit nicely into my palm. The wood was good quality, solid and polished, so it withstood the force of my fingers easily.
"That's where I was before I ended up on Traverse Town," I admitted. "I've been chasing Saint Dane for a while, trying to stop him before he gets to my home territory. He managed to manipulate Veelox's turning point the wrong way, into chaos. Everyone on that territory will eventually die."
"Are those worlds destroyed, the ones that he turns to chaos?" Sora wanted to know.
I shook my head. "No, not destroyed utterly. They're all but, though, because life there will degenerate until no one can survive."
Sora pointed outside. "Look."
"Those stars out there are worlds, territories as you say. Watch closely."
I did, and after a few minutes a star went out. On the other side of my field of vision, a few others vanished.
"Those are worlds that have fallen to the Heartless," Sora said quietly. "The Heartless take hearts because they don't have them, and they seek the heart of each world. They want to draw everyone into the darkness because they can't find the light." He turned away and looked at me. "At least the worlds that fall to Saint Dane are still there," he said bitterly. I caught a small glimpse of sadness in his shadowed blue eyes before he closed them and turned away from me.
I couldn't argue with that. Suddenly, I felt tired. The weight of Halla pressed down on me with such force I feared I'd crumble under the pressure. I was only one Traveler. How was I supposed to save Halla from the combined force of Saint Dane and the Heartless?
Sora shot me a rather strained smile. "It's late, or early depending on how you look at things. We should get what sleep we can."
I nodded agreement and tucked the carving into one of my pockets, then followed Sora into the engine room. I removed my vest and set it on the ground next to my pallet, then set my sword down next to it and curled up in my bed, my blanket wrapped comfortably around me. I heard Sora lie down as well and fidget around for a few minutes before assumedly falling asleep.
It was a while before I drifted off too.
In case you were wondering, I got the idea of calling the save poins "Rest Points" from Rem-chan's fic "Court of Souls". I used it because it made more sense, ya know?