Chapter One – Welcome to Halloween Town
By Crow Skywalker
Disclaimer – I do not own Kingdom Hearts, nor Final Fantasy, or any characters within those games. I'm not making any profit off this fic, it's merely for my own writing entertainment.
Author's Notes – This idea came to me sometime after defeating Final Fantasy VIII for the first time (it took me forever!) and falling in love with Squall and Rinoa all over again. Being a big fan of Kingdom Hearts, I got into thinking…what would happen if Rinoa was in the game? What if she'd somehow ended up in a different world when her own was destroyed? And so this fic was born.
Other Notes – This will be a Rinoa/Leon fic in the end. You've been warned. There will most likely be other pairings as well, such as Jack/Sally right now, but they'll be in the future and even I'm not sure what they might be.
Read, review, and enjoy!
A soft breeze blew through the air; light, but chilly. October weather was setting in, and at the dead of night the temperature was below normal. Above, a half moon shone down, lighting a trail of moonlight onto the dead grass beneath it. Trees, whose leaves had mostly fallen, cast dancing shadows across the cold ground.
The setting altered and blurred, spinning for a moment before there was a flash of something else. A beautiful, warm sunny day. A field of flowers blowing in the wind. A peaceful, content feeling, before the words:
"I'll be waiting...for you.."
Another spin, and yet again the setting changed, this time back to the first one. This is what she awoke to, her head pounding from a migraine, her vision swimming in the darkness. Rolling over onto her side, she emptied her stomach onto the cold ground beside her, her gasping breaths coming out in puffs in the night air.
Her heaving stopped, she let herself fall back onto her back, her gasping continuing as she placed the back of her arm across her forehead in hopes it would dim the pain. Her cold skin against her hot forehead helped a little, but did not make her migraine go away.
A chilly breeze creeped across her surroundings, and goose bumps appeared upon her bare skin. She turned onto her side once again, her legs coming up close to her face as she tried to block out the cold. Teeth chattering, she closed her eyes tightly against the cold.
So cold...so cold...
She bit her lips, which must have been blue from lack of heat, and opened her eyes again. This time her vision was much better, and her mind slowly started to work, though it protested greatly.
She was outside, she decided, though she had no idea how she had gotten there. Also, her troubled mind came to the conclusion that it was indeed night, while the last thing she remembered was a sunny summer day. The fact that it was night, and that it was a lot colder than it should have been, didn't go unnoticed.
Where am I...?
She remembered the sun, and faces she couldn't quite match with names just yet. An airship, and a battle with a sorceress. A man dressed in dark clothing, whose face made her heart flutter in her chest.
Her eyes focused in the darkness, narrowing when she saw an odd shaped object in front of her. Pulling herself into a half sitting position, she rubbed at her eyes before taking another look. Sure enough, it wasn't her imagination - there really was a crumbling old gravestone just a few feet away from her.
A shiver went up her spin as she sat fully upon her knees, and the world became much clearer as her head stopped pounding. She gasped in alarm when she realized where she was, her eyes widening as she attempted to climb onto shaky legs.
She was in a graveyard. A graveyard within the dead of night. Alone, with no one but the dead.
Making it to her feet, she took a moment to steady herself, her heart pounding in her chest.
How did I get here? Why am I in a graveyard at night?
Her hand came up to her head as her vision blurred, and she almost lost balance as her mind raced.
I don't remember coming here...where am I?
Another cold breeze, her hair blowing in the cold air. Her arms immediately went to each other, crossing in hopes of keeping her skin warm. She moved her hands quickly over the skin, creating enough friction to warm up her bare skin for just a few minutes.
She turned around, her eyes moving from headstone to headstone in the moonlight. Most of the graves were old and worn, falling apart without the proper care they deserved. There was headstones as far as they eye could see, though a large funny shaped hill stood in the middle of the graveyard.
Besides the graves, the place seemed to be empty.
"Hello?" She called, just to be sure. "Is there anyone out there?"
The only answer was the wind, and a dog barking somewhere off in the distance.
There has to be someone who can tell me where I am! She thought desperately, taking wobbly steps in the direction she had heard the dog's bark come from. If there was a dog somewhere about, then there was definitely someone somewhere that could help her.
Staring up at the sky, but careful of where she stepped as she walked, she wondered what had happened. Her memory was blurry, and she couldn't recall anything happening to her at all. In fact, she frowned, besides her name, everything else was a blur to her.
Stumbling over a branch, she caught herself against a rather large gravestone.
Why can't I remember? She ran a hand through her dark hair in frustration.
The sound of the dog barking came closer, and she continued her way towards the sound. Perhaps someone was out walking their dog, or there was a house nearby? Either way, she would be able to find out exactly where she was and ask for help.
Then I can find out what happened to me, and I can go home, she thought, and her heart soared. Seconds later to crashed again, when she couldn't remember where or what her house looked like.
Tears stung her eyes as she realized she was pretty much hopeless, and even if she did find someone, asking for help wouldn't do her any good.
What am I supposed to tell them? Hi, I'm lost and I don't know where I live. Can you help me? She pictured it in her head, then shook her head miserably, her hair falling about her face. So hopeless...
Her head down, she continued to walk through the maze of head stones. She was so lost in her own misery that she didn't notice the barking had stopped, and a cloud had covered the moon momentarily. Nor did she notice a tall figure standing in her path, not until she bumped into him and lost her balance. Crashing to the ground, she let out a cry of surprise.
When her eyes finally opened, the first thing she noticed in the darkness was a pair of pointy black boots that were attached to two extremely skinny black clad legs. Her eyes drifted further up, but she couldn't really pick out any more details in the darkness.
"I'm sorry!" She said, "I didn't expect to bump into anyone out here!"
"That's okay, usually people don't come out here all that often" came a male voice. "Are you okay?"
He made a gesture to help her up, and she thanked him as she took his hand. It felt oddly cold and smooth in her hand, but she didn't dwell on it too long as she dusted off her bare knees with the blue duster that she was wearing.
"Yes, thank you," she replied with a small smile. She couldn't tell if he returned it or not, it was impossible to see his face.
"I come out here to think sometimes," he went on to say. "My dog must have smelled you on the wind; he's the one who brought me to you."
"Oh?" She asked, and was very grateful to the dog, wherever he had disappeared to.
"Say, I haven't seen you around here before, are you knew?"
Her smile melted, and a troubled look replaced it as she gently chewed on her bottom lip. "I don't know. I just sort of...woke up out here, and I don't remember what happened."
"Listen, why don't you come back to the town and we'll figure something out? Perhaps someone will know something," he offered.
"Thank you," she crossed her hands in front of her, entwining her fingers together.
"The name's Jack, by the way," the stranger introduced himself, holding out his hand again to shake hers.
She smiled, taking his cold hand as she replied, "Rinoa. Rinoa Heartilly."
It was then that the cloud finally rolled past the moon, letting the moonlight over the earth again. Rinoa's smile slowly melted off her face, her hand shaking within Jack's. He gave her a strange look, pulling away from the girl.
He wore a suit of black, which made it all the more frightening. For, instead of a normal human head, he had a white skull upon his neck, and black empty eye sockets for eyes. He had no nose, and his mouth was a black gaping hole. His hands were all bone, there was no skin upon his body.
He was a skeleton. A living, breathing skeleton...
And Rinoa's mind couldn't take it all.
With a scream her eyes rolled up into her head and she fainted dead to the ground.
"I'll be here..."
"I'll be waiting...here..."
She groaned, her head turning to the side as she regained consciousness.
"I think she's waking up!"
Her eyes slowly opened, and she found a strange, short man, with a tall hat bending over the bed to look her in the face. Her first thought was the skeleton man that she'd found in the grave yard - but that couldn't have been real, could it? Skeletons certainly did not get up and walk and talk. Perhaps it had been a dream?
Rinoa forced a smile at the short man, her eyesight still blurry. He seems normal enough. Clearing her throat, Rinoa said, "Hello," in a throaty whisper.
"Well!" The man grinned, his gaze turning away from her to look at something else, "Whatever you did, it seemed to work, Professor!"
Confused, Rinoa tried to turn her head but gave up when her neck felt like it was going to crack. Her head felt like it was underwater, and she closed her eyes as a wave of nausea hit her. She bit her lip in hopes of keeping whatever was left in her stomach down.
Ugh…she thought sadly, will this sick feeling ever go away?
"Yes, I told you it would," an unknown voice said, and there was a creaking noise like something was being pushed across the cold stone floor.
Rinoa groaned, struggling to lift a hand to feel her head. Her arm was somewhat stiff and it hurt to move it, but she touched her head anyway, tracing her fingers over her forehead in a somewhat soothing manner. "I have such a headache…"
"Yes my dear, I would assume you have quite a bad one," the unknown voice replied, and Rinoa felt their presence on the other side of her. "With all that's happened," he finished. "Do you remember anything?"
Rinoa was hesitant to answer – she didn't know these people. In fact, she didn't even know where she was. It was quite possible they had kidnapped her and now she was being held hostage.
That's ridiculous, Rinoa decided. If that was the reason I'm here, then surely I would be tied up.
"Are you alright, Miss?" The strange looking man with the tall hat asked after she hadn't said anything for a few minutes.
"You're going to think I'm crazy," Rinoa smiled weakly, her fingers gently massaging her forehead, "But I woke up in a graveyard with no memory of anything. I might have been dreaming though, because I passed out when I ran into a skeleton man."
"Her story matches Jack's," the tall hat man nodded, looking at whomever was beside her. "He said he found her in the old graveyard. Why ever would she be there at this hour?"
"Perhaps we'll never know?" Answered the voice. "If she cannot remember, then we cannot help her."
"Help?" The tall hat man snorted, "What if she's a heartless?"
There was a pause, then, "I don't think she's a heartless. She doesn't look like them at all, nor does there seem to be any darkness about her. She's just another human, lost within our Holiday."
"Are you trying to say that she came from another Holiday?" The tall hat man answered, and Rinoa disliked how they were talking as if she weren't there.
"It is entirely possible she found the tree grove within her world and wandered into the Pumpkin Tree. She doesn't look like she's from any of the Holiday places I've heard about though, which is odd."
They continued to talk about Holidays and trees until Rinoa had had enough and, letting her arm fall to her side, she gently lifted herself up into a sitting position, her hand immediately flying up to her head to make the dizziness go away. "What are you guys talking about?"
"She obviously doesn't know anything about the Trees if she's questioning what we're talking about," Tall hat man argued.
"Can-can you just tell me where I am?" She asked a bit louder, trying to stop the two men from talking. She blinked her eyes open, her hand coming away from her face as she looked at the room for the first time.
"Why, you're in Halloween Town, Miss!" A big headed guy in a wheelchair announced, and Rinoa's eyes widened as she saw him open his head and scratch at his brain.
For the second time that day, Rinoa screamed until it felt like her lungs were going to burst. Started, the tall hat man fell off the table she was lying on, and the wheelchair man backed up a few inches.
Picking himself up off the ground, the tall hat man looked up at Rinoa with a different face – it was white, and his eyes were different, along with the sound of his voice. "Now why did you go ahead and do that for?" He whined.
Rinoa couldn't scream anymore. Gasping for breath, she fumbled across the table until her feet were touching the floor. Her legs gave out under her weight, however, and she crumpled to the stone floor like a rag doll.
"Careful, Miss. You might hurt yourself," the big headed wheelchair man rolled towards her and Rinoa shrieked again.
"Stay away from me!" She yelled, her eyes dancing frantically around the room. Thiscan'tbehappeningthiscan'tbehappening! Her mind told her over and over in a panic.
The big head man raised his hands in a non-threatening manner. "I'm only trying to help you, Miss."
"W-what are you?" Rinoa asked.
"I'm a scientist of course," he looked slightly offended that she hadn't known already. "You may call me Professor, just as everyone else does."
"And I," the tall hat man appeared beside the Professor's wheelchair, "Am the town's Mayor!"
"A-and this is…" Rinoa gulped, "Halloween Town?"
"Let me explain, dear girl," The Professor wheeled foreword, holding out a small hand to help her up. She stared at it, unmoving. "In this town, we celebrate Halloween all year. We count down the days until Halloween, and we plan all year for the activities that will happen on Halloween. Halloween is our life. We love being scared, and being scary ourselves, really."
"I-I don't…" Rinoa trailed off, still looking at the Professor's hand.
"I have given you no reason to doubt me," The Professor shook his hand in a way that meant she should take it. "Please, let me help you up. I promise you no harm."
Rinoa gave in, her fingers trembling as he clasped his hand around hers and helped her up.
"Sally!" The Professor suddenly yelled, almost startling Rinoa again. "Sally, get in here this instant!"
"W-who is Sally, if I may ask?" Rinoa asked.
"She's my creation," The Professor answered before yelling Sally's name again.
"Perhaps she has run off again?" The Mayor offered.
"That stupid girl," The Professor shook his head. "She should still be somewhere within the building. I told her to take Jack to the kitchens. Sally!"
The large metal door to the room suddenly opened and a head popped in, long brown hair falling about her face. "You called?"
"It's about time," The Professor sneered at her. "Tell Jack that the girl's awake and walking about. But before you do that, take her to a guest room. She needs rest."
"Yes sir," she replied, and the door opened fully to reveal herself. Rinoa stared at her – at her cloth-like skin, the rag clothes she was wearing, the stitches – Sally was like a walking doll. "Follow me, Miss."
Rinoa was hesitant, but did as she was told. As much as everyone frightened her, by the sounds of it she was going to have to get used to the weird people of this town. None of them were human like herself, but underneath they seemed alright.
Outside the door, there was a stone hallway the wound itself in every different direction. Rinoa was quiet as she followed the rag doll named Sally, her hands clasped together nervously in front of her as her eyes kept watch over every dark corner they passed.
"You look troubled," Sally said without turning around. "This place may be scary to you, but here it's a normal thing to be scared. That's why we're Halloween Town, after all."
"I just really wish I could go home," Rinoa said quietly. "This is all just too much for me. But…I can't remember where home is."
Sally stopped in front of a door, turning the knob. The door opened with a loud squeak, the sound echoing throughout the hallway. Rinoa winced, but Sally seemed used to it.
"You may stay here as long as you wish," Sally said, turning to her with a smile. "It will be nice to have another female around. Perhaps I can help you regain your memories so that you can go home?"
Rinoa nodded, looking about her room. It was a simple stone room with one lone window far above the floor, a bed over in the corner and an old wooden desk sitting next to it with a burning candle. "That would be nice."
Sally reached out, and Rinoa almost stepped away. She stood as still as she could possibly stay, watching as Sally grabbed hold of the tattered material that Rinoa was wearing. "You will have to throw this out, it's beyond repair. I will sew you a new one."
"Thank you," Rinoa gave her a small smile.
"I'm sorry," Sally apologized, "You must want to rest now. I'm sorry for keeping you."
Rinoa watched as the strange woman began to walk away. "I will leave your clothes on the table once I am finished. If you need anything, or you would like to have anything to eat, let me know."
"Thank you," Rinoa told her once again, and entered the strange room, closing the door behind her. She leaned against it, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness. However, instead, her eyes became blurry with tears.
Sinking down to the floor, her back still against the door, Rinoa cried. She cried because she was in a strange place she'd never been before, she cried because she didn't know anyone, but most of all she cried because she was lost…and she didn't know how to get home, or where home even was.
To Be Continued…