Like Windmills in the Sky
Sora wasn't sure what had happened, or how the strength of the world's gravity had affected the Gummi ship like that. He only knew that he barely had time to scream at Riku and Kairi to put on their seatbelts as he tried to stop the ship from crashing: then they were souring through clouds and a sky so blue it almost hurt, and he managed to catch sight of an almost endless, pure ocean with freaking flying mountains and then they were flying right through a forest, right into the middle of what seemed to be a lake.
Kairi was screaming and Riku was trying to help him pull the ship up to no avail, seconds before they hit the surface of the lake.
And then everything turned black and Sora didn't know what happened at all.
Kairi woke up on her back and she stood up slowly, not knowing if she was hurt and if she was, not wanting to hurt herself further, in case Riku and Sora needed her. She turned around slowly, trying to find a door or something – but it was completely empty, not even traces of the Gummi ship around.
"Guys? Where are you?"
Steps coming closer. Just in case, she called forth her keyblade, gripping it tightly, because the only other noise she could hear besides those steps in this place was the sound of her heart before she turned, ready to attack if there was a need and they were--
"The Replica again, huh?" Oblivion was ready in his hand and Riku sneered at the copy. This time it was even wearing his own clothes and the same keyblade, the stupid ass.
He couldn't stay and lose time here. He had to go and find Sora and Kairi and see what the hell was this world and why it was causing this. So if the Duplica wanted to have its ass beat up again, so be it.
Riku launched himself against it, his keyblade ready to strike--
And he tumbled away, trying not to wince. Damn, his arm hurt as if it had been burnt. Sora looked up and tried to stop the fear in his heart. This couldn't be right, there was no way that--
"Roxas, c'mon man, talk to me," he asked to his Other, shaking his head.
But Roxas is back to his Organization's uniform, his face blank. He's holding Bond of Flame and he doesn't seem to mind attacking him at all, even though, by the line upon his face, it's hurting him too.
"Did I do something? Something happened?" He tried again, Oathkeeper in hand, stopping the next strike of the keyblade. "Roxas!"
It hurt. Kairi managed to avoid the Blizzaga Sora casted, but she couldn't stop as Riku hit her with Oblivion behind her, hitting her back with his keyblade, and she fell down, doing her best not to scream. She rolled over, doing her best to win some room against them, wincing as she stood up again at the cuts and bruises that less than twenty minutes against her friends had caused.
This made no sense. Was it Darkness, perhaps? Were they being controlled by something?
"Stop it!" She asked, desperate, managing to stop Sora's keyblade with her own, then jumping to the side to avoid Riku's. "I don't want to hurt you!"
And chances were that she wasn't going to be able to. They were too strong and if they were being controlled, she didn't know how she could help them, what she could do if--
"In Cephiro, belief is power."
"Huh?" Riku looked around as carefully as he could, still kneeling. The Replica didn't seem tired at all, for all that they were both injured in the same places.
He didn't know how that had happened, what kind of funky spell was going on that whenever he hit the Replica, he got hurt too. Even though it worked backwards, it wasn't enough comfort, considering just the battered state they were both in.
"Who's there?!" He yelled, doing his best to keep the Replica away and not show his fear.
He had to get out of here and find Sora and Kairi, because if they were in danger and this was his fault...
"You are facing your greatest fears. Cephiro is a land were the strength of your belief is the biggest weapon, and now you are facing what you fear the most."
His greatest fear. But he didn't fear Roxas, did he?
But perhaps he had felt a little guilty, sometimes, because Sora knew that Roxas missed his own life. He never complained, but that was the thing that happened when you shared a heart: you could feel the longing that wasn't quite your own, when you were at the beach, ankles deep into the water, or as you had some ice cream.
Despite the fact that Sora knew that it was a terrible, terrible bad idea, he closed his eyes, because right now his eyes were lying to him and he needed to find...
Deep inside, he now could hear the real Roxas ('Can't believe you think that's me, Sora, you better kick his ass for pretending, what the hell are you waiting for? DO it already!'), all over the sort of static-noise this place had been bringing, hiding what he knew best.
"All right!" Sora yelled, bringing Oathkeeper to join the game. "Let's do this."
"I'm sorry," Kairi said, shaking her head as she looked towards the representation of Sora and Riku that stood in front of her.
It wasn't, she knew, that she was afraid of them, that would never be true. It was, quite simply, that she had feared she was someone – something – that would slow them down.
So, if this was her fear... she grinned a little.
"But this is gonna hurt you a lot more than it's gonna hurt me," she said before she launched against them, the light of her attack upon the edge of her blade.
Riku was expecting the pain as he launched against the replica, the replica doing the same. Riku was long used to it and he didn't fear it anymore. Not that pain.
He wasn't the 'he' that was standing in front of him, ready to strike him down, moved just by the darkness in his heart. He was moved by light, now, because even if that wasn't his completely, that light was tightly woven around the darkness, their threads much stronger than whatever darkness he could have.
So he didn't have to fear him falling down, because he was sure that even if he did, Sora and Kairi would be there to help him up.
Out of the nothingness that this place seemed to be, light shone high up. Sora looked, surprised, as the fake Roxas disappeared, yelling in surprise as Kairi stood by his right, Riku also appearing by his left side, both looking as surprised and confused as he was.
But before he could say a thing, something high up-- the source of light it shone, harsh and almost blindingly bright and it divided itself in three.
"What the--" Riku started, but then three beams of the light shot itself into each of the keyblades before it disappeared.
And then they were being thrown out of wherever it was the were and for the second time way too soon, Sora blacked out.
Besides a soft, warm touch that felt like drinking five hundred high-potions sans the side effects, Sora felt Kairi's fingers, warm and familiar, taking his hand, and her voice, going on very slowly.
"-- and don't panic. You should open your eyes first and stay calm and--"
When he opened his eyes, there was a kid with purple hair leaning over him, his hand upon his forehead. Sora yelled in surprise, trying to push away and on succeeding on hitting the back of his head against the trunk of a tree.
"Sheeze, Sora, overreacting much?" Riku grunted, sitting down a few feet away over the wreckage of the Gummi ship.
Kairi giggled. "You reacted pretty much the same way, Riku."
The kid sighed, shaking his head, but there was a soft smile upon his lips even as he stood up, a staff that was twice his size upon his hand.
"This is Cephiro, and my name is Guru Clef," there was something in the kid's eyes that reminded Sora a little of king Mickey, but he quickly decided that he was, probably, suffering the side effects of a concussion, because the kid was the owner of the voice that had spoken to him in that weird-ass room. "And I have no idea why are you here or who you are."
"I'm Kairi," she beat him, but Sora decided that it was probably better that way: Kairi had this way to speak that made people decide everything was peachy okay and there was no need to fight, right, surely everything could be handled with some tea and cookies. He and Riku, well. There was a reason why King Triton asked them not to say a thing during his parties. "And these are Sora and Riku. And... we're not sure what happened, either."
"Hey, what was that lake-thingy?" Riku asked, standing up.
Sora nodded at the question, noticing that they were in the same forest from before, and he was surprised when he saw that the Gummi Ship was still in one piece, sure that they were gonna get stuck until they could contact Chip and Dale. "And what about that thing that got into our... the keyblades!"
Guru Clef raised a hand to stop him from panicking, and Sora was sure that there was something that reminded him of the king. He raised his staff and the keyblades floated towards them: two for him and one for Kairi and Riku each.
"Eternia is a fountain where Cephiro's most esteemed mineral, Escudo, lies. A test must be taken before Eternia grants you the Escudo, which it did."
"What happens with them?" Sora asked. There was something different in his keyblades, but he couldn't exactly say what. Bond of Flames hadn't changed at all, but somehow the magic fell stronger, in a similar way that Oathkeeper felt. The seemed lighter, somehow, and yet stronger.
"Usually, our blacksmith would work with the material to create your weapons," Guru Clef answered. "But this time, it seems to have merged with your weapons on their own. You must have incredibly strong wills for that to happen. "
"Wait, you mentioned that before," Sora interrupted, shaking his head. "Um, no offense but... how did we get here? The Gummi ship suddenly just went crazy when we went near this world."
"As I said, Cephiro is a world were belief and the strength of one's will is everything," Guru Clef said, eyes closed for a moment in a gentle smile. "Your true wish must be strong enough that Cephiro heard it." Guru Clef said, shaking his head with a bemused smile.
Sora shared a glance with Riku and Kairi. True wish? Inside of him, Roxas was as confused as he was, but somehow, in a way that Sora didn't quite understand, Roxas also felt stronger than before, his presence much more there than usual. He also noticed that Kairi had a hand over her heart, and wondered if the same was happening to Kairi.
"And what happens now?" Riku asked.
Guru Clef closed his eyes for a moment in consideration, before he used his staff again, a giant fish appearing right in front of them.
"We can go to the castle. You might need some training so that your weapons may develop," then, he also pointed towards the pieces of the Gummi ship, which were enveloped by a blue circle before disappearing once more. "And some of the people from Autozam might be able to help you with your ship."
There wasn't much to say about that but agree – the fish had already kind of adopted Riku, trying to nuzzle against him and making happy noises, which Riku was finding distressing, if his expression was anything to go by – and then they were up in the sky, Guru Clef guiding them, and the only thing they could do was gasp, mouths and eyes wide open, staring at the world that seemed to be showing off for them.
It had been to fast, when they had arrived, to properly notice, but now he could see the crystal mountains that floated over the sky, the width of the ocean, the crystal palace that gleamed tall and proud, surrounded by forests. As he looked around, Sora – and Roxas inside him – was sure he had forgotten how to breathe.
He glanced towards Riku and Kairi, not surprised at all to find that they were also gasping. So then, Sora grinned.
"I suppose we could stay for a while..."