The small, colorful Gummi ship descended through the layers of Narnia's atmosphere, followed by its two larger companions. As they gradually moved closer to the frozen surface of the cursed land, terrific gales started to lash out at the three ships, as though the very winds themselves had struck up a dislike for the three alien craft. Some of the refugees from Destiny Islands cowered and huddled together in fear, even as the huge migration ships they were sequestered within shook under the powerful onslaught of the Narnian winds.
"Strong atmospheric conditions we have here," Cid commented, as he piloted the tiny Gummi ship skilfully through the scissoring gusts, "Those Narnians must be pretty tough to survive on a world like this."
"I really don't think these winds are natural," Merlin said, as he stared out of the cockpit thoughtfully, "There is a distinct magical aura radiating from the winds..."
Through the thick glass of the cockpit's windscreen, the winds' howling could be heard. Soon enough, their descent was slowed, as though a gigantic, invisible hand had propped itself up against their ventral hull and was pushing against gravity's pull.
Yuffie let out a panicked chirp as she saw, for the briefest of moments, the faint hints of a face staring in at them through a corner of the windscreen, "Something's in the wind, guys!"
As one, all of them - except for Cid, of course - looked out of the windscreen, and saw that she was right. Pressed against the glass was the blurry likeness of a man's face, looking like it had been drawn with smoke. Wisps of trailing mist formed passable impressions of a trailing beard and long whiskers, and swirling masses of atmospheric dust concentrated above the image's 'mouth' to give the 'face' two pupil-less eyes.
"A wind god, Merlin?" DiZ asked, sounding mildly interested.
"Probably... One of the older ones, I'd say," the elderly mage replied, stroking his beard thoughtfully, "But wouldn't he be under Aslan's rule?"
"Impossible to say for sure."
The face slowly began to fade away, and the winds let up momentarily. As they accelerated their descent and came within several hundred feet of the world's icy surface, some gentle gusts began blowing, as though to cushion their drop onto Narnian soil. Several of the sparse, stunted trees that had managed to eke out a pained existence on the frozen tundra had what was left of their foliage blown out into the white wilderness, as the three interstellar ships finally landed on the cold terrain. Abruptly, the winds stopped blowing, leaving the Gummi ships sitting in a veritable space of dead air.
Cid flipped his microphone on and addressed the occupants of the other two Gummi ships, "Attention, people! We've landed on Narnia, and would you kindly NOT leave your present ships until I say so. Glad that we have an understanding. Over!"
Spinning around in his pilot's chair, he turned to face DiZ and Merlin, "So, now what?"
"We wait for Aslan," answered DiZ calmly.
"How does he look like, anyways?" asked Sora, scratching the back of his head absently, "Wasn't he a lion or something like that?"
"Correct, Sora," Merlin nodded, "And I do believe he is approaching our current position."
"How sure are you?" this came from Leon.
"Look out of the cockpit."
Outside the ship, the snow and sleet were melting away and rapidly flowing down the smooth contours of the gently sloping ground. Faint, wispy patches of green appeared, and soon grew into large thickets of grass. Little shrubs began to grow, and flowers bloomed. The temperature within the Gummi ship, which had been noticeably dropping previously, now felt as warm as any one of the afternoons one could have spent on the beaches of Destiny Islands.
Of its own accord, the Gummi ship's door slid open, and the eight of them received a blast of warm Narnian air, scented like prairie wildflowers and carrying with it an unmistakably powerful feeling.
"What the-" Cid began, even as a large shadow was cast into the ship through the open hatch.
"People of the Destiny Islands," enunciated a warm, fatherly voice, "I bid you welcome to Narnia."
"Aslan," DiZ called out in reply, "We owe you much for granting us shelter here on your world."
"I granted you a world to stay on, but as for shelter..." Aslan said, even as his shadow became larger on the ship's floor, "You shall have to form your own defenses against Jadis."
"What if we join your side?" asked Riku, "We could..."
His voice trailed off into silence as the great Lion himself stepped into the ship, nearly standing as tall as the ceiling. Behind him were demi-humans, satyrs, centaurs, and nymphs.
"I would be honored if you chose to aid my cause," Aslan nodded his massive head, "But it must be of your own accord, and not or coercion."
"The honor is ours, Aslan," Leon said quietly, "It is all we can do for your world."
"Very well, then. Come with me, and you shall learn of what needs to be done."
Empress Jadis stepped out of her frozen palace and walked out towards the large sled that awaited her at the castle's courtyard. The two Nobodies had told her that they would be bringing this Jones character to meet her at the beach near the Stone Table, and she was honestly rather taken by the idea of a demon which could bind Aslan's soul down for good. Gracefully sliding into the sled's cushioned seat, Jadis nodded to the dwarf that sat behind the sled's reins. With a curt grunt, the diminutive Narnian got the sled moving, propelling its significant mass over the sleet-covered, slippery landscape.
They moved rapidly past the dark and foreboding woods, at such speeds that the trees all blended together into one continuous bands of blackness on both sides of the icy path that they traversed. Occasionally, minor gusts of wind would blow against their direction of motion, often slowing them down by the smallest of margins.
"Pathetic wind gods," Jadis murmured with satisfaction, as yet another headwind was thrown at her sled. Since she had first cast Narnia into a spellbound winter, the wind gods that inhabited the wilderness had tried furiously to make her life as difficult as they could possibly make it. But she had cast some potent enchantments on the massive echoing valleys where their seats of power rested, and as such, the beleaguered spirits were now capable of little more than sending tiny, insignificant winds blowing her way.
"Your Majesty," spoke up the dwarf driver in his husky voice, "We are but the shortest distance away from the beach now."
"Well then, I'd best prepare to meet this harvester of souls," the ice queen replied coolly, "Keep your eyes fixed on the path, lest those Narnians try to hold us up again."
The sled moved out of the dark woods and sped onto a dark, pebble-strewn beach where the waves seemed to be lapping rather feebly against the shoreline. Three figures stood at the water's edge, one of them standing directly in the water itself. Of the three, the two which were located on dry land were garbed in the billowing black robes that marked them as members of Organization XIII, and the being who had his feet planted in the waves was dressed in a bulkier outfit, with a large sword strapped to its waist in an elaborate scabbard.
"As you wish, Your Majesty."
With a soft grunt, the dwarf pulled on the reins and halted the sled in its tracks. The large contraption came to a dead stop not thirty feet away from the three figures, sand and pebbles grinding against its base as it strayed slightly off the icy path on which it was meant to travel.
And then, there was silence.
Save for the sound of the waves breaking against the shore, not a sound was heard from any of the five beings present at the beach that evening. In the semi-darkness of Jadis' winter twilight, the five of them remained in their places, staring down each other in a silent battle of wills.
"And a good evening to you, milady," greeted one of the two Organization Members, as he lowered his hood, "Your timing is impeccable."
"As it has been and always will be, Luxord," Jadis responded icily, "We had a deal to discuss, I believe?"
"Indeed we do," the blond Nobody agreed, "Vexen, would you mind doing to honors?"
The other Nobody lowered his hood, revealing himself to be the lank-haired being that had accompanied Luxord on his previous trip to Jadis' palace, "Your Majesty, we promised that we'd bring you Davy Jones, and here he is!"
With a flamboyant sweep of his gloved hand, Vexen bowed and gestured towards the figure who stood silently in the shallow surf behind him, "Jones, meet Empress Jadis. She shall be working with us to deal with those dratted Narnians, and of course, you'll be answering to her as well as us."
"Why, I never-" started the bulky figure in a thickly-accented voice, only to be interrupted by Jadis' chilling voice.
"Let me get one thing clear here, you heartless pigs! You and your sorry lot will be working UNDER my command, and not standing as my equals. Is that understood?"
After a brief pause, Luxord gave her one of his gambler's smiles, and spoke up in a voice so smooth it could have put the finest of silks to shame.
"Why of course, Your Majesty. There never was any doubt on the matter, really. Of that, I can assure you."
"Shall we parley now?" she questioned the three heartless beings, even as she waved a hand and summoned a table and four seats out of thin air, "My patience is wearing thin as it stands."
"Parley," rumbled Davy Jones, as he slid into one of the four seats, which Jadis had moved into the shallow waves, "Now THAT be a term which I can understand, ayuh!"
Aslan led the way to the green valley where his forces had set up their camp, and the Destiny Islanders all went clack-jawed as soon as they got their eyes on all that was within the valley's fertile confines. Not a single snowflake was in sight, and the land was carpeted by some beautiful greenery that no other bit of Narnian soil had seen in more than a century. Tents had been raised all over the place, and numerous Narnian folk could be seen going about their business.
Though of course, their business was preparing for a war that might soon erupt on their peaceful little world.
Nymphs were daintily dancing around small fires where food was being prepared for the many beings that currently were occupants of the valley, and fauns were diligently carrying large piles of arrows to a group centaurs standing by a veritable mountain of bows, which they were checking for defects. Several gryphons were in sight, flapping their massive wings as they patrolled the skies above their allies' heads. And most surprising of all was the sight of four humans standing around a large, round table that had been placed right in the middle of the valley, at an open space around which all the tents had been erected.
Aslan stopped the entire procession right on a precipice that overlooked the large valley, and turned to face them.
"This is Narnia's true self. And I bid you welcome, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve."
"It's beautiful..." Aerith whispered, even as excited murmurs broke out amongst the refugees from the Destiny Islands, "It's all so... alive!"
"Indeed it is, Aerith Gainsborough," Aslan nodded his massive head, "And though I once told myself to never take sides in any conflict... I find myself breaking my own words to protect the world which I created."
"Aslan!!!" came the cheerful shriek of a human child, from somewhere close by, "You came back!"
"Lucy," the shaggy lion said warmly to the little human girl that had tackled him from the side, "Would you kindly summon Peter, Susan, and Edmund here? We have serious matters to discuss with them."
"Sure!" Lucy chirped happily, before turning to cast a critical look at the Island folk, "Are these the people from that lost world?"
"Yes. But that is a topic for another time, and for now, there are preparations we must make for our stand against Jadis and the Nobodies."
Lucy nodded and ran back towards the narrow path that led down from the precipice, and for a moment, no one said a word.
"Nobodies?" Sora asked wearily, breaking the silence, "They're here already?"
"The spirits in the trees have spread word of mysterious robed figures moving through the woods, and of dark creatures appearing where the mist clings to the ground. Hence, I fear that Jadis has made an alliance with the Organization."
Footsteps sounded as Lucy returned with the three other humans, and soon enough, introductions were made to the Pevensies; Peter, Susan, and Edmund.
"So your world was destroyed?" Susan asked, looking somewhat uneasy.
"It was," confirmed Merlin, "And Aslan gave us shelter here."
"Will you help us fight to save our world from falling, then?" Peter asked, even as he unrolled a map that he had brought to the precipice with him.
"Of course," DiZ murmured slowly, "It is the least we can do to repay Aslan's kindness, after all."
"Very well then."
So the map was spread out across the rocky ground of the precipice, and plans for the battle that was soon to come were discussed. Words that had been inked on the parchment a long time ago and which had not been spoken for decades soon were brought up again, and old, forgotten pathways were discovered. Before any of them realized it, several hours had passed, and the valley was thrown into the shadows of twilight's approach.
Even as the sun set, the Narnian people began to set their plans in motion.
Luxord walked coolly into Jadis' inner sanctum, and bowed before the ice queen on her frozen throne. Two of her wolf underlings flanked the throne, their yellow eyes fixed on the Nobody that had entered their mistress' castle so rudely not too long ago. Vexen was nowhere in sight; he was somewhere else within the castle's compound, studying the local terrain from whatever decent vantage points he could find.
"Your Majesty," the Gambler of Fate said suavely, "It has come to my attention that you are in the possession of a valuable resource of intelligence."
"And what may that be, Nobody?" asked Jadis slowly, "I do not carelessly give out my secrets to anyone that labors under me."
"My sources tell me that your... lieutenant... Maugrim, was it? He should be able to give me all the information that I need to work with."
"Yes, I am Maugrim," growled one of the two wolves present in the chamber, "Be quick with it, Nobody."
"I heard that you detained a faun," Luxord said calmly, even as he made his deck of cards materialize in the palm of his gloved right hand, "And that Empress Jadis had him turned into a statue."
"We've dealt with many fauns, Nobody," the wolf retorted, "They tend to be troublesome, usually. So we bring them here, and they are... dealt with."
"I'd agree, given how they fought back the last time I was here," the Nobody smirked, "But this one was detained for a very unusual reason. Think, Maugrim. Think."
The captain of Jadis' wolf police agents eyed Luxord coldly, his muzzle fixed in an expression that wasn't quite a snarl. He thought for a moment, and then nodded slowly as his memory supplied him with the possible suspects that Luxord had mentioned.
"You might be correct. Be specific, Nobody."
"This particular faun," Luxord enunciated slowly, as his cards fanned out in mid air, laying themselves down by suit and number, "Was detained for leading a... daughter of Eve into this world. Or, more accurately, he led her around the forests surrounding Lantern Waste when she first stepped into this world."
Maugrim's eyes narrowed, "That faun. Yes, I remember him... What do you want to do with him? Can't do much with a rock now, can you?"
"On the contrary, Maugrim," Luxord snapped his fingers smartly, causing a portal of darkness to open right next to him, "I can do quite a bit with that... piece of rock, as you have so aptly called him."
Out of the portal floated two Gambler Nobodies, carrying between them a stone statue of a faun. They deposited it on the floor, and vanished into nothingness, even as the portal closed in on itself. Luxord stepped up to the prone statue, and turned to face Jadis directly.
"Time is all that separates this rock from what it used to be," a soft cry of terror was heard in the throne room, "And so, I need not necessarily be working with a rock."
The faun, restored to his former state, trembled on the icy floor, even as Maugrim and the second wolf advanced towards him. Before either one of the canine beasts could pounce on him, he disappeared in a mass of swirling black energy, leaving Luxord standing before the three Narnians in the chamber.
"Jones has a crewman who is VERY good at getting information out of unwilling suspects," the Nobody said simply, as he summoned up a portal for himself, "And I think your dogs here might have forgotten to do that before they handed him to you, Your Majesty."
Jadis nodded with a cold smile as she digested his words, "I see your intentions, Nobody. Very well then. Nearer to us tomorrow is coming, and we have much to do."
"Indeed, Your Majesty," nodded Luxord, as he stepped through the portal, "That is the truth."
Clouds rolled lazily across the sky, hours after the sun had set. For once, the moon was not obscured by the heavy winter fog that usually shrouded Narnia's skies like a wet, sticky blanket. Even as the stars winked faintly amidst the cloudy, obsidian background, a distinct reddish tone was visible in the sky's coloration that night. As far as the eye could see, the usually black night-time sky was tinted with a deep shade of red, like a sheet of cloth that had been used to bandage a particularly vicious wound. Davy Jones observed the considerably rare phenomenon with a sailor's critical eye, as his ship maintained its position just fifty yards offshore from the beach where he had been introduced to Empress Jadis.
"Red sky at morning, sailors take warning," he mused aloud, drawing the attention of his helmsman, the seaweed-covered Greenbeard.
"Red sky at night, sailors delight," finished the Dutchman's experienced crewman, "So we'd be expecting a clear sky tomorrow, wouldn't we?"
"That we would, ayuh! And from what those good for nothing Nobody scum have told us, the Narnian folk will be attacking Jadis' forces tomorrow."
"Where be they musterin'?" growled Maccus, flashing his shark's teeth in a bloodthirsty smile.
"Luxord says somewhere beyond those cliffs there," Ogilvey answered, his voice barely more than a ghostly whisper, "There be a narrow mountain path they'd be using."
"Make the cannons ready," Jones said shortly, as he turned to give the cliffs in question, "Especially the triple guns."
"Aye, sir. All armaments have been primed and loaded. All you need to do is say the word."
"That be good, Ogilvey."
Jimmylegs the bosun stepped out onto the deck, calling out to Jones, "Captain!"
"What be ye doing here, Jimmylegs? Ye are supposed to be getting information out of our prisoner, huh!"
"I've gotten what I can from him," the stonefish-headed bosun replied, "And it seems that the Narnians have an extra card up their sleeves that we weren't supposed to know about."
"And what may that be?"
"He said," Jimmylegs paused, "That this Aslan creature will be joining the Narnian forces in battle."
"How sure can ye be of that? That wretched witch told me that Aslan isn't to be trifled with!" Davy Jones asked somewhat snappishly.
"The cat kissed his arse nicely before he confessed to that, Captain sir. And later tonight, methinks that a tooth or two might be good for checking how truthful he has been with me," replied the bosun, even as a sadistic smile lit up his ruined face.
"What ever the case may be, I want the truth out of him by the third watch."
"Aye, sir. With pleasure."
Several decks below their feet, a small, frail-looking faun lay shivering in a barred cell. The shaggy fur on his legs and hindquarters was matted with dried blood - which was also splattered liberally all over the worn wooden floor - and the many wounds that marked his body smarted from the seawater that had been thrown on him by the twisted bosun. He was barely conscious, and it was only through the continuous efforts of the Dutchman watching over him that he remained alive.
Hadras grimaced as he stuck a sea urchin's spike into the faun's back, adding to the innumerable spikes that already protruded out of the battered Narnian's body.
"Aiya, you are one painful thing!" muttered the conch-headed crewman, even as he tried to slow down the creature's physical deterioration using what he remembered of his former acupuncture skills, "Very hard to keep you alive!"
"Hadras, Hadras," came a mocking voice from behind him, followed shortly by the sound of footsteps on the barnacle-encrusted stairs leading down to the Flying Dutchman's brig, "No need to worry about keeping that rat alive for much longer."
"Jimmylegs!" hissed the Oriental Dutchman, "This is beyond your normal brutality, ah!"
"My job," snapped the bosun, as he waved a rusted pair of tongs in the air between them, "Is to get the information from this Narnian filth."
Jimmylegs cut Hadras off before he could say anything further, "AND, my dear Hadras... I intend to get every bit of knowledge out of this miserable wretch's mind... Even if I have to wring his soul from his body to do it."
As he finished his sentence, Jimmylegs raised the tongs he was holding to his fellow crewman's neck, and dragged the sharp edge of the tool slowly along the edge of his conch-like head. Hadras' eyes widened in a combination of shock and fear as he took in the bosun's words. With a squeak of fear, he pushed past the demented Dutchman, and fled out of the brig, dropping several urchin's spikes on the floor in his haste to leave the detention area.
Turning to the semi-conscious faun, Jimmylegs cleared his throat and spoke up in a voice that was eerily chirpy.
"Now, you Narnian scum... Captain's orders are to check the truth in your leaks," cackled the Dutchman's bosun as he lifted up the faun's head by one of his horns, "So I'll just be playing with some tools, now."
He thrust the pair of tongs into the faun's mouth, and twisted the tool viciously. Despite its vastly weakened state, the little Narnian creature screamed as several of its teeth were forcefully wrenched out of its mouth. Blood ran down its chin, and the extracted teeth fell to the floor with a delicate pitter-patter sound not unlike that of a gentle drizzle.
"What was your name again? Memory isn't what it used to be."
With sob, the abused faun managed to utter his name for Jimmylegs to hear.