"To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest"
Chapter 13 Nil Desperandum
"Where is he? They said he'd be ready to leave by today." Inuyasha grumbled, craning his neck, looking bored as his eyes scanned the lush expanse of open grassland from his position in the branches of the largest tree in the area. He wore his usual fire rat kimono and pants, and the Tetsusaiga was secure against his hip.
"He's probably running a little late, that's all." Robin said serenely, leaning against the same tree, eyes closed as she continued savoring the cool shade provided.
Her usual crimson trench coat swished gently in the breeze, but she had traded the heavy, restricting black dress for a dark crimson, almost black blouse with long sleeves and matching pants. Her crucifix remained against her chest, twinkling whenever the sun caught it just right, her burnt orange hair up in pigtails.
Inuyasha grunted, closing his eyes and resting them, just for a moment. His shoulder had recovered within a day or so, and now he was impatient to return to traveling to other worlds.
The breeze tickled his nose, and the half demon's eyes snapped open.
Robin, despite her lack of any enhanced senses, felt the presence that approached them, and opened her eyes slowly, smiling slightly.
Though the figure approaching them had his face covered in the shadows of a the hood of a tanned, newly made traveling cloak, there was no mistaking the emerald eyes beneath. The cloak drifted slightly, and allowed a peek into what lay beneath.
The emerald tunic and rustic brown pants he had worn before were discarded now, in favor of a different, more modern look.
Now the Boy-Who-Lived wore a midnight black vest lined with white, sleeved and with a white hood, a long silver zipper running across both ends. It was left unzipped, and remained open, exposing what he wore on his chest. Beneath it was a sleeveless black shirt and sharp looking, not too tight pants of the same color.
The pants were held up by a single lengthy and thick white sash, which held up the small magic bag that Zelda had given him tight against his back. It was tied at the center of his pants, just below the vest.
His shoes looked like a cross between loafers and boots, sturdy but not too difficult to put on. To top it off, Harry was now wearing fingerless black gloves, presumably to protect his hands from being blistered while wielding the Keyblade.
Together with the long beige cloak, it made for quite the appearance.
"What's with the change of clothes?" Inuyasha asked bluntly, leaping down from the tree, his silver hair reflecting the light of the sun.
Harry shrugged, smiling slightly in the morning sun. "I wore out the tunic while I was training. Washu made this for me, of the same materials as my old stuff. She said it looked cool." The way he said it, he didn't mind being called cool at all.
Inuyasha stared for a moment. "..."
Robin giggled. It was nice to see him acting at least a little like a normal teenager for once.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Harry grinned impishly. "Let's go do that hero thing." His voice was refreshed, confident, and eager. Like he could take on the world.
"Oi. Harry." Inuyasha said, calling the Boy-Who-Lived's attention to him. "There was a girl... Ginny, I think. She said to tell you she was sorry for crying earlier." With a smug expression on his face, the half demon arched a silver eyebrow. "What did you do to make her cry, exactly?"
Robin's interest was peaked, and she leaned forward with a mischievous expression on her normally serene face as well. "Harry, what was that? You made a girl cry? What a bad boy you are!" the witch teased, smirking.
Flushing, his aura of confidence dissipating, the Boy-Who-Lived looked downwards, scuffing his shoes against the grass. "None of your business." He grumbled sullenly. "Are we going to stand here jawing, or are we going to do this?"
Grinning, Inuyasha and Robin agreed, but from their looks, the matter wasn't dead yet.
"Harry? Harry?" Ginny called out, walking through the courtyard of Hyrule's Castle. Frowning she wrung the sides of her dress with her hands. "I guess he already left..."
Ginny turned back to the castle, disappointed.
"Hey, Ginny!" Washu's irrepressibly cheerful voice called out, and the redhead looked up to see the pink haired genius leaning out a window, waving. "Would you mind doing me a big favor? Could you head into town, and ask a man named Kisuke Urahara if the item is ready yet, and if it is, could you bring it back? He's in a shop called the Urahara Shoten!"
Ginny smiled and nodded, waving back. "Sure!"
Washu grinned, and suddenly there was a loud jingling in the air as she hurled a small brown draw string bag down toward Ginny. "Take this. Go buy something nice for yourself."
Ginny looked like she would protest, but Washu forestalled the attempt as she shook her head and shouted loudly, "Just take it, Ginny. You can make it a little sight seeing trip. I know you've been bored, cooped up in here all day."
"Thank you." Ginny said gratefully, bowing her head. "I don't know how to repay your kindness.
Washu shook her head. "No need to be so formal. We're friends, aren't we?" she yelled down cheerily, smiling widely.
Ginny looked delightedly incredulous, and smiled brightly, nodding once. "Yes!"
"Gillium, scan for open doorways." Harry said slowly, getting the hang of piloting the Outlaw Star in this second run.
"Nearest one can be reached in approximately one hour." The AI reported cheerily. "Would you like me to set a course?"
"Yes, thank you." The Boy-Who-Lived sighed, releasing the controls. "I'll let you take over the ship, Gillium. Take us there with all speed."
"Understood." Gillium chimed.
Harry breathed slowly, relaxing himself as he sank into the pilot's chair. His mouth felt slightly dry, and he licked his lips. Wondering if he had a canteen or a bottle of water in his bag, Harry began to dig inside the magical bag at his waist.
His fingers didn't hit the water he wanted; instead, they found a small, oddly roundly shaped object that he didn't remember putting there.
Frowning in puzzlement, Harry pulled the object free, studying it intently. The object was oval shaped save for the tube-portion that stuck out of one side, obviously a mouth piece. It had a line of holes going straight across its emerald body.
"What's that?" Inuyasha drawled, bored.
"The Queen gave this to me." Harry murmured softly, turning the object in his hands again and again. "I think it's called an ocarina."
"What're you supposed to do with that?" Inuyasha questioned, rolling his eyes. "It looks pretty useless."
"It's an instrument, Inuyasha." Robin said cheerily, rolling her own eyes as she chuckled. "Not a weapon."
"Well what good is it to us, then?" the half demon asked bluntly, crossing his arms behind his head.
"None... but that doesn't mean it's useless." Harry said softly, and put the mouthpiece to his lips, placing his fingers over the holes.
"Do you even know how to play that?" Inuyasha asked rudely, staring intently.
Harry shook his head slowly, but simply closed his eyes, deigning to give it a try as he blew gently, placing a finger to cover one hole, then another, and so forth.
Slowly, the music tinkled out and filled with bridge with its life.
Though the notes were awkward and a bit discordant, they seemed to sooth the traveler's nerves as they continued onward, towards the next battle.
"Urahara Shoten... Urahara Shoten..." Ginny mumbled, scanning the buildings of Castletown in an effort to locate the shop. Unlike other offworlders, people rarely gave the redhead anything more than a passing glance, mostly because she didn't look or dress differently than any of the natives.
She was quite happy to be outside of the castle- most of the time, she just helped around with odd jobs that the maids needed helped with, or listen to Washu discuss some new invention or idea she had.
"Ah! The Urahara Shoten!" Ginny exclaimed, noticing a rather different looking shop at the far end of an alley. Unlike other buildings in Castletown, this one was made of cement, not wood, with a large glass pane with a door in the center as the entrance. At the top was large, bold sign- Urahara Shoten.
Playing in front of the store were two children, a loud redheaded boy swinging a broom back and forth and yelling, "Home run!", and a small, frail looking black haired girl whose hair reminded her of a cockroach for some reason, and was seemingly trying to get the boy to do something.
She approached them, smiling slightly. "Excuse me... can you tell me where Kisuke Urahara is?"
The redheaded boy looked at her, annoyed, but, after a moment, turned back toward the shop and placed his hands over his mouth. "BOSS! There's a lady out here to see you!"
"A lady... well, tell her to come on in, Jinta." A musical, airy voice called out.
Jinta jerked his head toward the store. "The boss is waiting for you inside." He said bluntly, and resumed swinging his broom about.
The black haired girl frowned, and shyly, quietly said, "Jinta... Tessai will be mad if you don't sweep..."
"Aw, shut up Ururu!" Jinta scowled, and proceeded to rub the broom on top of her pigtailed head, causing the small girl to squeal out in pain.
Ginny frowned, and grabbed the broom handle tightly, forcing Jinta to stop. "Hey. Leave her alone." She said firmly, glaring at the redheaded boy, who glared back.
"You're not the boss of-" Jinta's sneering comment was suddenly cut off as a bald, black bearded, spectacled mountain of a man in a tight white shirt and black apron lifted him by the scruff of his neck.
"Don't be rude to the nice young woman, Jinta." The man boomed, a disapproving frown on his face. He turned toward Ginny, who suddenly felt rather small compared to this giant of a man. He smiled slightly and inclined his head toward the entrance. "Please miss, go on inside."
Nodding, Ginny hurried on inside.
"Aw, come on Tessai! Put me down!" Jinta's voice complained, and, despite herself, the redhead smiled and giggled.
"Well, I'm glad to see someone in high spirits." The jovial voice from before said, amused.
Ginny watched as a blonde man in a green and white striped fishing hat stepped out, holding his unusual hat with one hand as his black robes with white diamond imprints at the hem swished in the breeze. Underneath, he wore a white kimono and pants, and on his feet, a pair of clogs.
"Are you... Kisuke Urahara?" Ginny asked, hoping that her surprise at his unusual appearance wasn't showing.
Urahara nodded, smiling enigmatically. "And who might you be?"
"I'm Ginny Weasley. Washu sent me to ask if the item was ready yet." She replied nervously, glancing around the darkened shop.
"Ah... you must be the Keybearer's friend." Urahara murmured, nodding and continuing to smile. "Well now, Miss Ginny. I do have the item Washu wants. Ururu! Go into the back and get Miss Washu's item, would you!"
The black haired girl peeked her head inside when called, and nodded, moving quickly into the backroom with hurried steps.
When the small girl returned, she was carrying a small, cardboard box that looked very ordinary. "Here you go." Ururu murmured quietly, almost too low to hear.
"Take care now, Miss Ginny." Urahara said cheerily, waving his hand idly. "And if you see the Keybearer... tell him about my shop, would you?"
Ginny nodded and smiled slightly. "I'll tell him when he comes back."
"Well then, you take care now!" Urahara said, waving his hand as the young woman exited his shop.
"There's something off about that girl." The large, muscular man murmured, stepping back inside.
Urahara merely smiled wider. "I think that young woman will prove to be quite interesting..."
"What is this place?" Harry asked aloud, his cloak wrapped around his shoulders, letting his face receive the full beaming sun of the area.
The buildings around him were wooden and rather archaic, with blue tiled roofs and wooden framed sliding doors with squares of white paper in between the wooden frames. Every now and then, a flag or a door would be spotted with a symbol on it.
Harry might not have recognized it, but Inuyasha felt much more at home in this archaic setting as he sighed under his breath, thankful there wasn't anything too outlandish.
The air felt... purer, cleaner in places like these.
"It's like pictures I've seen of Feudal Japan." Robin said softly, in amazement as she looked around in wonderment.
"Pictures?" the half demon snorted. "This is almost exactly the same..." Inuyasha muttered, and his eyes scanned the landscape. "Though I don't remember this." He said, kicking the stone paved road.
Before a discussion could ensue over the differences between this area and what Robin and Inuyasha had seen, Harry felt a strong tug going toward part of the city, and Inuyasha's sensitive ears caught the sounds of a battle.
"There's trouble." Harry said in clipped, grave tones, and Inuyasha and Robin nodded, turning in the direction of the disturbance.
Inuyasha sprinted forward in a blur, hearing the rapid footsteps of Robin following behind him at her best speed possible.
On the other hand, the half demon suddenly realized that Harry was moving as fast as himself, the beige cloak swishing behind him to and fro, snapping in the winds created by their speed.
He's gotten stronger... Inuyasha thought to himself, watching the Boy-Who-Lived keep up effortlessly, not a single bead of sweat from exertion as he ran.
Grinning, the half demon looked forward once more, just in time to arrive at the battle.
There were a few people fighting desperately, and rather well, if Harry was any judge of that. There was what looked like a raven haired woman and a young boy trying to fight off a group of them with wooden sticks, a man in a white gi and pants punching and kicking his way through the mob, and occasionally, there was the tiniest flash of silver and suddenly a group of slain Heartless...
From the looks of it, the Heartless had stormed this area with all the force they could muster, given their large numbers and the sheer tenacity they were showing. They had changed, and it was quite obvious they were much stronger than the previous batch had been.
There were still a large number of the helmeted Soldier Heartless, but now they brought strong looking allies to back them up.
There were a small group of powerful looking armored Heartless, though they looked radically different from the armored Shadow Knights.
Unlike their large and hulking counterparts, they were smaller, and focused more on speed as they moved rapidly across the battlefield. They wore a much more ornamental, Oriental style armor in the style of a samurai, complete with a crimson face guard in the shape of a laughing demon. They wielded either a bow and arrow or katanas, a weapon Harry had become familiar with as he sparred with Amidamaru.
"Those armored ones are called Bushido Heartless." Harry gritted out, crouching as he filled his body with as much magical power as he could summon, but making sure not to overdraw and use too much. "They're tougher than the others, so watch out."
"The Hell with that." Inuyasha snarled, and leapt forward, reaching for his sword as he reached the back of the Heartless line.
"Tetsusaiga!" Inuyasha called forth the sword, pulling his weapon free with a mighty heave and a surge of golden light. His sword appeared as it always did in the transformed state- a large, thick white-silver blade almost like a fang, with a white furred guard and the tattered katana hilt.
"Amazing." Robin breathed, and Harry couldn't help but agree with the sentiment. Inuyasha's face was split into a grin as he swung the weapon straight into the back of a pair of Soldier Heartless.
The two shadowy creatures never stood a chance, and were cut into two pieces and dissolved into smoke barely a second after the Tetsusaiga sliced through.
"I'm back you bastards!" Inuyasha crowed, laughing with the barest hint of feral rage as he charged headlong into the fray.
"Robin... look out for Inuyasha. I'm going to see if I can help those people." Harry said softly, and his eyes widened as he noticed a Bushido Heartless charging toward the young woman and the boy who had their backs to the enemy.
"They'll be killed!" Robin shouted, and hurled her hands forward, summoning forth a burst of fire about the size of her torso blazing toward the Heartless.
However, the creature, sensing danger, dodged to one side just as the fireball impacted the ground, leaving a small crater and a trail of misty gray smoke.
"NO!" the witch shouted, helpless as she watched the Heartless come closer.
In her despair, she didn't notice the narrowing of Harry Potter's eyes, nor the way he crouched, like a tiger about to spring, or the faint white glow that surrounded entire body for a fraction of a second.
A moment later, Robin found herself coughing slightly in the trail of dust and debris the Boy-Who-Lived left in his wake.
A good distance away, the raven haired young woman finally noticed the incoming attack, and screamed, seemingly frozen with fear, her ocean blue eyes wide with shock.
The Bushido Heartless raised the blade, and an unholy roar of triumph rumbled forth-
"So... what exactly did you do to Harry, anyway?" Washu said slowly, enunciating every word with careful grace, watching a young blonde girl lean against the stone wall of the castle.
Queen Zelda shot Anna her own curious look. "Indeed... when he returned, he seemed stronger. More capable. Like a seasoned veteran of battle instead of a young boy."
Anna, much to their shock, actually chuckled in a low, amused tone. "He's very good, I'll give him that. It only took a day to teach him what I wanted him to learn." The blonde girl said, eyes still closed.
"And the other days? What were you doing?" Zelda questioned curiously. Washu's eyes had an eager glint and she leaned in close to hear.
"I had him fight Amidamaru and Kurama the entire time. Sometimes one on one, sometimes the two of them against him." Anna replied quietly, and opened her eyes. "He's strong... frighteningly so. He's got a lot of raw power and a good deal of talent. But he lacks something."
"Experience." Washu noted softly, breathing in a short, sharp breath.
Anna nodded crisply. "Exactly. Harry's only real weakness right now is his lack of experience in actual combat. If he's able to learn more, gain more experience..."
"He'd be incredibly powerful." Zelda cut in with a deep gasp.
The blonde girl drew in a short breath, her face dead serious.
Robin's eyes widened in surprise. "Amazing..." she whispered breathlessly.
"He really has gotten stronger..." Inuyasha muttered appreciatively, decapitating a Soldier with a sweeping movement.
In a flash, Harry appeared above the attacking Heartless, and with one blow bisected the Bushido Heartless, utterly annihilating it with the force of a single strike from the Keyblade.
"What the Hell is that?" the young, raven haired boy exclaimed, pointing and snickering at the Keyblade's new form.
Despite herself, Robin tittered at the sight as well, and Inuyasha let out a bark of derisive laughter, even as he avoided a powerful strike from a Heartless.
The Keyblade had changed, and Harry guessed that the Celestial Keychain Eriol had given him, which now hung from the bottom of the weapon, was the cause of that change.
The hilt guard was now in the shape of several white, feather wings curving to make an oval, meeting at the pommel of the hilt, as if to form a basket hilt of a rapier. The blade portion was now a vibrant, bright pink rod that was a little shorter than the previous form of the Keyblade. At the very tip of the weapon was a single golden star that shone in the midday sun.
"Celestial Key..." Harry flushed, despite himself. The weapon seemed... girly, but it was still a weapon, and Harry had enemies that needed to be defeated.
"Blitz!" leaping high into the air, Harry swung down, hard, into the center of a large group of Soldier Heartless. The attack sent a blinding flash of amber light through the battlefield, scattering the enemy in its wake.
Continuing the attack, the Boy-Who-Lived leapt upwards again, to strike in the middle of a group of Bushido Heartless, which survived the blow but were heavily damaged, and then once more, into a mixed group that was trying to storm the others.
Robin used her powers as best she could, sending supporting blasts of flame whenever Inuyasha or Harry left their guard open too much, or rescuing one of the survivors (who were in worse shape than either of the three).
Harry parried a blow from a particularly determined Bushido before leaping backwards, his face impassive as his heels dug into the dirt. Pushing the attack, several more Heartless swarmed in, eager for the kill.
Robin hurled her hands forward and a blistering inferno erupted in front of Harry, shielding him from the majority of his opponents.
With a grateful smile, the Boy-Who-Lived leapt up, landed on top of the shoulder plating of one of the Bushido Heartless and stabbed into its face, shattering the demon mask. As it began to dissolve and went slack, Harry kicked off, using the momentum to slice a Soldier in half with a back spin and a downward cut.
"Outta my way!" Inuyasha roared, and smashed the Tetsusaiga to one side, the brutally powerful sweep crushing a Bushido like paper. Another charged for him, the speed of the swing creating a vicious howl.
With a loud shout, the half demon parried the blow upwards, tearing not just the katana away from the Heartless but the arm along with it. The limb hit the ground with a thud, just as Inuyasha thrust the Tetsusaiga into the Bushido's mask, shattering it.
As the Bushido dissolved into dust, Inuyasha's ears caught steps, light and fast. His eyes barely caught a sudden blur that flashed by, leaving a wake of dissolving and maimed Heartless.
What the Hell was that? Inuyasha wondered, before blocking the downward slash of another Bushido, feeling the sparks that flashed from the impact irritate his face.
Yet another Bushido Heartless charged him, katana raised, most likely hoping to catch the half demon off guard.
Scowling, Inuyasha removed one claw from Tetsusaiga and swung out in a backhand swipe. "Iron Reaver Soul Stealer!" the golden crescents tore into the chest of the armored Heartless, sending it crashing backwards.
The Bushido Inuyasha had been fighting earlier made a powerful push forward, and, with Inuyasha's strength divided between knocking one Heartless back and holding back the other, the half demon suddenly found himself stumbling backwards, off balance.
The Heartless's demon face seemed to be mocking him as it raised its blade.
A katana burst through the demon's mask, shattering it into pieces. In moments, the Bushido collapsed into black smoke.
Around them, the remaining Heartless seemed to melt away, driven back at last.
As the smoke cleared, Inuyasha found himself staring into the face of a raven haired young man, probably around Harry's age. His blue eyes were somewhat empty, like a cup that would never be fully filled.
He wore a collared, button up white shirt with a sky blue kimono with a darker blue lining in the inside, and a deep ocean blue hakama. His hand was in the process of sheathing an unusual katana.
"What's up with that sword?" Inuyasha asked bluntly. "It doesn't have an edge."
"A reverse blade sword?" Robin murmured in wonderment, eyeing the older boy with curiosity.
The young man merely smiled with his half-empty eyes, as though he didn't know how to do anything else. "I know. But it's a... memento of a man I once knew. It's his sword."
"Who are you?" Inuyasha asked, unnerved by the older boy's eyes. There was just something... off about him, as though he was missing some vital, critical piece of his humanity.
"Seta Soujiro... but for the purposes of these times, I've taken on my old title." Soujiro said, smiling. Harry and Robin walked within hearing distance, watching the dark haired swordsman carefully.
"You may call me Soujiro the Tenken."
Wow, this took so much longer than I thought it would. My apologies. Well, welcome to the Rurouni Kenshin arc of the story. I hope, I dearly hope that the next chapter won't take as long.
New Anime Cameos: Bleach, Rurouni Kenshin.