Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts or any of its characters.
Pairing: Cloud/Sora, possibly Leon/Sora
Summary: Sora, Riku, and Kairi travel to a new world at the king's behest, but when danger unfolds, Sora is left behind while Riku and Kairi escape.
Warning: This story contains slash, meaning male/male relationships. Don't like it, don't read it.Chapter 1
Kairi brought the king's message to Sora and watched over his shoulder as he read the missive. Sora's happiness at hearing from his friend, though, quickly turned to trepidation the longer he read. It seemed that King Mickey had run into a spot of trouble in a new world and needed Sora and Riku to lend their assistance.
Kairi, tired of being left at home while the boys went on an adventure, insisted on accompanying them, as well. Sora and Riku reluctantly agreed. Deciding to meet at the secret cave, they parted ways to make preparations for their journey. An hour later, they stood in front of the door that appeared in the cave years ago but had never disappeared when Sora had defeated the heartless.
Sora's keyblade appeared in his hand while a keyhole appeared in the door. Unlocking the door, Sora cautiously pulled the door open. He was shocked by what lay on the other side. A veritable wasteland expanded for as far as the eye could see.
"Are you sure you got the right place, Sora?" asked Kairi quietly, staring at the barren land and silently hoping that her friend had made a mistake. "It doesn't look like anything at all could survive out here."
"I don't know, Kairi," said Sora, stepping through the door and turning back to look at his friends. He gasped, however, when he saw the landscape past the doorframe. Lush foliage and a beautiful waterfall stood out in stark relief as the barren wasteland surround the small paradise. "Wow!"
"What is it, Sora?" asked Riku, coming to stand beside Sora. "What the hell is this place?"
"I wanna see, too" said Kairi quickly. "Oh, it's beautiful. And there's even a castle."
Riku and Sora hadn't even noticed the castle nestled snugly within the oasis. They were too preoccupied with trying to figure out how the oasis could survive in such a desolate place. It didn't seem possible that anything could grow out here.
"Let's go find the king," said Kairi cheerfully, eager to start her adventure.
They set off into the oasis, heading straight for the castle. They had almost reached the castle gates when shadows suddenly started to form at their feet, causing heartless to appear by the dozens. Sora and Riku immediately called their keyblades to their hands and hacked their way through the enemy, making sure to keep the shadows away from Kairi.
A shadowy figure watched the two fighters destroy the heartless from a magical orb shining brightly in the dark room. "Absolutely beautiful," he chuckled softly. "I will have that boy. It's always more fun to tarnish such innocence." He gasped lightly when Sora glanced sharply towards the tower of the castle, seeming to almost look directly at him. "Yes, he will make a wonderful pet."
The man covered the orb and swept from the tower. He had so many preparations to make for the arrival of his pet. Of course, he would have to dispose of the other two. They could very well cause complications if left unchecked.
The shadowy man stalked into the throne room and barked out orders for a room to be prepared for his anticipated guest. Once the servants were gone, he turned towards the silver haired man staring out the window. The shadowy man was surprised to see a look of recognision on the fallen angel's face.
"Do you know them, Sephiroth?" he asked curiously.
"The Master of the Keyblade and his lights," said Sephiroth softly. "The boy is indeed a formidable foe."
"Master of the Keyblade?" asked the man delightedly. "He will make a fine pet, won't he?"
"Pet, Xanthus?" asked Sephiroth, raising an eyebrow arrogantly.
Xanthus grinned and walked over to the far wall, pressing a pattern into the bricks. The wall suddenly shifted, creating a tall, narrow doorway. "Come see," said Xanthus eagerly. He turned and stepped through the doorway and disappeared into the darkness. He knew Sephiroth's curiosity would compel the man to follow.
The doorway lead to a staircase, spiraling down into the depths of the castle. At the bottom of the staircase, a row of cages lined the walls. The cages housed a variety of creatures, ranging from humanoid creatures to misshapen monsters. However, they all had one thing in common. They each wore a black collar with a silver lightning bolt around their necks.
"What is the purpose of these 'pets?'" asked Sephiroth disdainfully. He wasn't impressed by what he saw. If this was all Xanthus had, it was no wonder he was so eager to get his hands on the keyblade wielder.
Leading Sephiroth further down the hall, Xanthus stopped in front of, yet, another doorway. Throwing open the door, he revealed a huge underground arena. However, instead of a solid floor, the arena had small pools of water littering the surface, deceivingly hazardous if stepped in. Furthermore, a moat of murky water surrounded the arena, making escape extremely difficult.
"So you make your pets fight in the arena?" asked Sephiroth in a bored tone. If he wanted to see a battle, he could go to Olympus Coliseum. This was nothing.
"Not exactly," said Xanthus with a smirk. "Those creatures out there are not my pets. Just consider them cannon fodder, if you will." He practically skipped to a hidden door and slammed it open eagerly, showing a huge room with a large bathing pool in the centre. Several humans lounged around the pool, wearing little to nothing, and every one of them were absolutely gorgeous. They, too, wore collars around their necks, but these were gold with an emerald star. "These are my pets. They are the prize for winning my little tournaments."
"And you want the wielder of the keyblade to join their ranks? I would have thought you would pick the other boy for this role," asked Sephiroth in amusement. "Besides, it will never happen. The wielder of the keyblade would never submit to you."
"He won't exactly have a choice," said Xanthus smugly. "You see, these collars have a device that causes pain to the wearer every time they disobey an order. He'll learn to obey if he wants to survive."
"We'll see," said Sephiroth softly. That boy had a strength of will that amazed even him. For someone so young to come even close to defeating Sephiroth was astonishing, and yet, Sora had done exactly that. Oh well. It hardly mattered to him. He was just here until Cloud finally managed to find him again.
"We need to find the king and get out of here," said Sora somberly, causing Riku and Kairi to stare at him in surprise. "I have a really bad feeling about this place."
"Come on, Sora. You can't be that afraid of a few heartless," said Riku teasingly.
"It's not the heartless I'm worried about, Riku. There's something or someone in this place that makes my skin crawl. It's ten times more evil than mere heartless," said Sora gravely.
"You're just imagining things, Sora," said Riku dismissively. "I don't feel anything like that. Do you, Kairi?" Kairi just shook her head. "See, Sora?"
They continued towards the castle, keeping a wary eye out for more heartless. Surprisingly enough, the castle door was wide open. Kairi grinned and rushed into the castle, ignoring Sora's panicked cry to wait. Riku rolled his eyes and hurried after Kairi.
"And they say I'm impetuous," muttered Sora softly, following more cautiously after his friends. A sharp cry to his left caused Sora to hasten his steps. He ran into the room and saw Sephiroth holding Kairi off the ground with a hand around her neck. "Sephiroth! Let her go!"
"Ah, the little keyblade wielder," drawled Sephiroth coldly. "I would advise you to leave this place now, or you may not get the chance at all. After all, pets should be loyal to their master."
"What are you talking about?" asked Sora, staring at Sephiroth in confusion.
With a look of total indifference, Sephiroth tossed Kairi towards Riku and appeared directly in front of Sora. "Leave now!" he whispered harshly. "Xanthus wants to make you his pet!"
"Now, now, Sephiroth. Don't be giving away all of my secrets," purred Xanthus. He stood in front of the hidden door with several of his pet monsters surrounding him. "Kill them! All except for that one," he ordered, pointing to Sora. "Bring that one back alive and in one piece."
In a surprise move, Sephiroth grabbed Sora around the waist and they disappeared, appearing again outside the castle. Dropping his arm away from Sora, Sephiroth stepped back and disappeared once again, leaving behind a very confused brunette. Shrugging his shoulders at Sephiroth's weird behaviour, Sora started back towards the castle, determined to help Riku and Kairi, when his two friends ran out of the castle with several monsters on their heels. Riku grabbed Sora's arm as he passed and pulled the brunette along with him.
"There's too many of them. Just run, Sora," gasped Riku.
They ran back towards the doorway as hard as they could. Suddenly Kairi screamed, "Sora!" Sora turned around and saw one of the monsters dragging Kairi behind him. Summoning his keyblade, Sora killed the monster and pulled Kairi to her feet. He saw more monsters closing in, so he pushed Kairi forward and started running again.
Sora and Kairi reached the door and pulled it open. "Where's Riku?" asked Sora frantically. He pushed Kairi through the door and said, "I'll find Riku. Don't come back through this door, Kairi." Kairi nodded quickly, and Sora took off back the way he'd come, looking for his lost friend.
"Hurry back, Sora," whispered Kairi, watching the door intently.
Riku suddenly barreled through the doorway and slammed the door behind him. Turning quickly, he used his keyblade to seal the door. He'd seen Sora and Kairi reach the door, but he'd had to dispose of a few monsters before he could join them. He finally managed to clear a path to the doorway and had run for it.
"Riku, what are you doing?" screeched Kairi. "Sora's still out there."
"What!" yelled Riku. "I saw you both go through the door. How did he get back out there?"
"He went looking for you," snapped Kairi, pulling uselessly on the door. It refused to budge.
Riku frantically summoned his keyblade and tried to reopen the door, but it stubbornly stayed locked. "It won't open!" he said in frustration. "Dammit! We need to find a way to contact the king."
Sora watched in stunned disbelief as his best friend ran through the door and shut it behind him. The door glowed briefly and then disappeared in a flash. "They left me," whispered Sora numbly. "The left me behind to die here."
"Oh, you won't die, pretty pet," purred Xanthus, striding into the clearing where Sora was standing. "You'll be my most coveted prize."
"I'll die first," snarled Sora, summoning his keyblade and lunging towards the man.
"Well, the thing is, pet, you don't exactly have a choice in the matter," said Xanthus smugly. He backhanded Sora before the boy could strike and placed a collar around his neck while he was still dazed from the blow. Sora growled angrily and lunged towards Xanthus again, only to scream in agony as jolts of pain seared through his body. "See, Sora? You disobey me in any way, and those lovely jolts of pain are your reward." He grabbed Sora by the arm and dragged the boy to his feet. "We must hurry back, pet. I have to announce the next tournament, and when they hear what the prize for winning is, I'm sure this will be the fiercest battle, yet."
Sora just stumbled beside Xanthus in a daze. He couldn't believe that his friends had left him behind for him to be given to the winner of a tournament like some kind of prize. It didn't even matter that he could summon the keyblade because if he tried to use, that horrendous pain would just come back. Tears spilled from his eyes as he thought of what was to come. 'Someone, please help me,' he thought desperately.