~*.*Disciples of the Keyblade*.*~
Warnings: Violence, small amounts of blood
Characters: Master Eraqus, Ventus, Aqua, Terra
Summary: Ven gets a little…worried for Aqua, even though the "battle" with Terra is only an exhibition. It seems they both get carried away. Pre-BBS.
The Land of Departure was home to Master Eraqus—a stern faced man with graying black hair—and his three apprentices, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra.
Ventus was the youngest apprentice, maybe fifteen or sixteen, with windswept spiky golden hair and shining blue eyes. Excitable, friendly, enthusiastic, he carried all of the right attributes for a young protégé of the Keyblade, and Eraqus thought he was coming along well, though he would sometimes remark with a tinge of humor that his curiosity would be the death of him.
Aqua was almost the same age as Terra, that is, she was seventeen or eighteen. It embarrassed their master somewhat that he didn't know his precious apprentices' ages, but he doubted they cared. She was a smart, level headed girl with light cerulean hair and matching eyes. She was quite possibly Eraqus's best and brightest, always reliable. Her word was her bond, she would sometimes say.
Then there was Terra, an apprentice a little older than Aqua. A strong young man with untidy dark brown hair and the same azure eyes as the others—though a shade deeper. Despite the fact that he acted calm and collected constantly, beneath the shield was a strong willed person willing to fight for his friends. He and Ventus had a particularly close bond, for Ven had saved his life once before from a rather unfortunate accident neither liked to discuss.
The Land of Departure was a crisscrossing mass of grassy mountains surrounded by flowing water, complete with fields and plains spacious enough to accommodate even the wildest of fighters. The castle that existed there—an elegant structure of white and gold that thinned into a slender spire at the bottom—was connected to two mountain peaks by a pair of long yellow chains. Strange as it was, it was home, and the Keyblade Disciples wouldn't have it any other way.
The sun had long ago risen, in fact it was almost near the very tip of a mountaintop, and Ventus reasoned that it was closer to the afternoon than to the morning. He observed the clear blue sky with its forever traveling glowing occupant until his master gained his attention with a brisk finger snap.
"Ventus, look here." Eraqus commanded, though not unkindly.
Jolted back into reality, the boy turned his head back to his master with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Master Eraqus."
They were sitting cross-legged on a small slope with a flat top, surrounded by jade fields on all sides. Behind Eraqus's shoulder, Ventus spotted Aqua practicing her Ice Blast technique on a small tributary that gurgled out of the rocks. Behind him, the youngest protégé also heard Terra gathering his strength to strike a tattered training dummy, his Keyblade colliding loudly with the thick wooden pole, almost snapping it.
"You've been listening closely to my instructions, haven't you?" Eraqus inquired, resting his chin on his hand, sharp eyebrows meeting in a V.
Ventus nodded quickly. "I have to keep my calm and reach inside for my light, right?"
Everyone that wielded a Keyblade had magic of some sort, and each style was unique, even if the element was the same. Those closely aligned with the light had the benefit of special effects adding themselves to the "Elemental" magic. Ven's specific element was wind, or aero, the official name for its power. It was one thing to reach for the regular elements—fire, earth, air, water, etc—it was quite another to search oneself for the elusive light. Its counterpart, darkness, could be summoned. The light had to be found, one of the key differences between the two.
"Can you? During the heat of battle, can you relax your heart and mind enough to bring your light forward?" His master challenged. "I want you to practice finding that place inside yourself, and when you can call on it instantaneously without a second's pause out of combat, we'll try in combat." Rising, Eraqus clapped his hands together. "Terra, Aqua, come here!"
Aqua stopped mid-spell, causing her ice to falter out in a small whirlwind of snowy particles. She turned quickly and sprinted across the field, more athletic than Terra, arriving before him despite the fact that he had been closer. Terra had to interrupt his attack during a swing, almost causing him to lose his balance. The boy strode over at a slower pace than Aqua's run, and they both bowed respectfully.
"Master Eraqus," they recited together.
Eraqus seemed to be thinking, looking from Aqua to Terra as Ventus watched. A breeze caught the hem of his white robe, causing it to flutter to the left. The same happened with Terra's tan cloak and Aqua's blue. At last he said, "Aqua, Terra, I want you two to fight one another."
Ventus stared. Why would he make them fight?
Aqua's hesitation was brief, and she opened her mouth for a heartbeat before closing it again.
"I see the question on your lips. Speak. Don't be afraid to tell me your opinions." Eraqus instructed her calmly.
She inclined her head in a respectful gesture. "Master, why are we fighting? We're practicing, but for what?"
Their master pointed to the crest of the small hill Ventus was on. "Ventus has just begun to learn how to find his light. I want you two to show him the effects of light being found…" Oddly, he seemed to look straight at Terra with an expression of expectancy. "I think it will be good practice for you both. Soften your blows, lest I have to go and heal broken limbs."
Terra dipped his head. "Yes, Master Eraqus." He muttered.
"Ventus," Eraqus turned to the youngest apprentice. "While you watch, I want you to try and find your light. It's inside you; you simply have to call it out."
"What's it feel like? Why's it better than the darkness? Can I do other things with it?"
"A million questions all the time," his master sighed with a slight smile. "You'll know it when you find it, and we'll discuss its other components later." Eraqus stepped back, apparently satisfied, as Terra and Aqua began circling one another.
A few seconds had only passed—the two young Keyblade novices had yet to attack—when Eraqus suddenly turned his head. "I've forgotten something," he muttered, and only Ventus could hear him. "Terra, Aqua, Ventus!" He said in a louder tone. "I must return to our home briefly, but I will be back very soon. Commence with the training, however. It is imperative that Ventus sees what the fruits of his labor will bring."
The apprentices nodded and chorused, "Master."
Eraqus quickly set off down the path, and it was only after his dark haired form had vanished below the ridge that the two older trainees faced one another once more.
Ventus wasn't exactly sure who to root for. A sudden pang distracted his "inner search for light". Would Aqua be able to hold her own against Terra? The teen looked so strong and burly beside the girl's slimmer figure…He had seen her fight before, but Terra had a certain ferocity to his attacks that seemed almost feral.
"Terra, don't go too hard on Aqua!" Ventus shouted.
Terra snorted with laughter and apparently Aqua mistook Ventus's worry for scorn at her fighting abilities. She rarely showed signs of anger, but neither of the boys missed the faint way her lip curled as she replied testily, "I can take care of myself, Ven!"
Terra winked. "Of course you can," he teased with a smile to lighten his words. "I'll be sure not to get dirt on your pretty little—"
Instantly, so fast that Ventus barely registered it, Aqua flashed across the five foot space between her and Terra, bringing her glimmering Keyblade down in a wide arc. He saw her purposely slow the blow right before it collided with the boy's chest, but it still knocked the wind out of him.
Stumbling back, Terra brought his Keyblade up in time to block another hit, and suddenly he and Aqua were at it. They slashed and banged their weapons together, creating a shower of tawny sparks. Leaping lithely backwards, Aqua prowled with the sinewy grace of a cat, her slim form weaving around Terra's as she avoided attack after attack.
But this meant she couldn't hit him; as she was too busy trying to avoid his assault. They danced their way across the field gradually, until Aqua froze the earth at Terra's feet with an unexpected blast of snow. He dug his metal shoes into the ground, lips pulled back in a snarl, eyes glinting with the love of a challenge. He performed a complicated series of twists and lunges designed to confuse Aqua, then he proceeded into a slower rhythm that threw all of his strength into every swing. Aqua's arm slipped, lowering her guard, and he sped up once more, clipping her shoulder and sending her reeling to the side.
Ventus was too busy watching to search for his light, and he realized there would be no way for him to master the dual focus needed if he didn't even try. Instead of reaching for the glowing blue flow of magic he sensed within, the boy starting looking in the obscure corners of his mind for the subtle "light" that he would know instinctively, or so his Master said.
Meanwhile, Aqua's left shoulder appeared to be giving her trouble. She kept that arm still and instead pressed against Terra's defenses. Crackling bolts of lightning soared down from the heavens and struck in three separate locations all around Terra, though only one actually made contact, and even then it was a glancing blow. Obviously she wasn't aiming perfectly for him, not seeking to injure her friend.
Terra was distracted by the bright glowing substance, and as Ven watched, she called something from within herself. Aqua straightened and jumped into the air, pointing her quivering Keyblade at her foe. Light gathered on the end, all seven colors of the rainbow, and Terra met her gaze with wide eyes as he saw what was happening.
Only three of the seven glowing strands of translucent light struck him, but it was enough to cause the boy to lose balance and land on his back. Jumping again to his feet in a flash, eyes narrowed to slits as Ventus cheered Aqua's name, Terra seemed to draw strength from somewhere deep inside, breathing hard and fast.
A purplish energy winded around his weapon, and with a guttural cry he struck Aqua so hard that she flew a full three feet backwards. She landed roughly, gasping, and Ventus's eyes widened as he saw what might have been blood spreading across a gash on her chest and stomach.
"Terra, hey!" Ventus called in warning.
Terra ignored him, swinging his Keyblade again as he met Aqua's assault. The girl seemed irritated, but Ventus noticed that she was still holding back. His search for light forgotten, the boy slipped down the hill to land at its base, getting within four feet of his friends. "Guys! Hey!"
Aqua paused briefly as she heard, but Terra starting striking once more, pressing the attack, and she was forced to defend. Her blows became harder and harder, and once something even cracked in Terra's side as she slammed her Keyblade against his ribcage, but he still showed no signs of stopping.
"What…it's only a practice…?" Ventus bit his lip, unsure what to do, watching his friends fighting with a fierceness that startled him. Mainly it was Terra, but every now and then Aqua countered a little more roughly than necessary. Bursts of light sprouted from Terra's weapon at one point, and Aqua countered with the rainbow bands that engulfed the substance like ethereal snakes.
"Hey, guys…Everyone…" Anger built up inside of him. "Stop!" He clenched his fists, growling the word out.
Aqua hesitated, and that caused her to become vulnerable to Terra's attack. Ven found his feet moving surprisingly fast, faster than he ever had before, and he deflected the weapon with his own Keyblade. Aqua pushed him aside gently, flicking her own Keyblade and disarming their wild eyed friend.
"What were you doing?" Aqua demanded, placing her hands on her hips. She was breathing hard, and the gash had opened a little wider, staining her clothes.
Terra seemed to shake himself, like he was waking from a dream. "I don't know…I mean, I…I got carried away." He looked thoroughly ashamed, and he surprised them both by bowing low to Aqua. "I…sorry."
Aqua heaved a sigh, causing her hair to ruffle. "It's nothing," she tried to say, but she couldn't help a gasp as the wound on her side burned. Terra rubbed at his ribs, and Ventus wondered if one of the bones were broken, or cracked.
"I thought so."
All three turned as fast as they could to see Master Eraqus studying them from the side of a mountain, balancing on a small spire of stone. He leaped down deftly and strode toward them, frowning, his face like a thunder cloud. "It was exactly as I believed."
They quickly assembled in a line and lowered their heads, feeling terrible.
Eraqus scolded, "Ventus, I told you to meditate to find your light. Aqua and Terra, I don't you don't overdo it. What's that? Is that a cracked rib? And that? That's a nasty slash." Ventus had never seen him so furious, but it was a calm, cold kind of fury.
Aqua mumbled, "I'm sorry Master. It's my entire fault, I overdid it and Terra retaliated in kind." She spoke formally when she was truly regretful, feeling ashamed for letting her master down.
Terra shook his head, wincing with every breath. "No, Master! Don't punish her, it was my fault. I got carried away…again. Of course Ven couldn't mediate with us nearly killing each other."
"It's true," Aqua added, clamping a hand over her wound to stop it from bleeding. "How can he find his peace? You and Terra didn't do that when I was learning."
"Don't make excuses for me," Ventus spoke up. "I should have been able to do it regardless, I guess. I could have stopped the fight sooner, maybe."
Eraqus listened silently, stroking his chin. At last he reached his hand out and breathed, "Curaga."
Green sparks jettisoned from his hand and engulfed all three of them, though Ventus was fine. The swirling herbal energy stitched together Aqua's jagged gash faster than any doctor could, and there was a barely audible "pop" as Terra's rib healed.
"All of you," Eraqus said after the last of the magic had faded away. "To your rooms. We'll try this again tomorrow, but you need to rest." Ventus made to follow Aqua and Terra down the same path their master had apparently left down earlier, but he paused as he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Ventus. A word."
Aqua glanced back, and Terra paused with one foot still in the air.
"I'll be there in a moment, guys." Ventus smiled.
"Alright, Ven." Terra set off again but Aqua lingered for a heartbeat before she did the same.
"I saw," Eraqus spoke as soon as the friends had vanished. "You dash forward to block the attack Terra sent Aqua's way. You touched the beginnings of the light at that moment, trying to save a friend."
"But she wasn't in any real danger," protested Ventus.
The Keyblade Master smiled faintly. "But did you know that?"
Ventus brooded over those words until Eraqus clapped him on the back. "Ah, young one, all will become clear in time."
"More riddles to chase around in my head," he joked.
"What needs to be chased around in your head is discipline, boy." Eraqus had no real venom in his voice though, and he gently pushed Ventus down the path. "I shall join you shortly. Go."
Bowing, Ventus sprinted down the road after his friends.
Eraqus surveyed the clearing, and then sent a controlled gust of wind and water to wash away the blood that stained some of the grass. He unfroze portions of the river that Aqua had left in its icy form, and then he slowly set off down the path after his apprentices.
Fool hardy, hot tempered, impulsive young ones…
But they had so much potential, the determination to succeed, and the time needed to learn.
They'd make legendary Keyblade Masters yet.
The first in the short series of semi-connected oneshots.
I apologize for any OOC-ness—I'm sort of going on what I've read, especially Eraqus.
Keep that in mind if you feel like reviewing.
This ENTIRE soon-to-be-oneshot-collection is dedicated to Dani-Chan Sprite-Monster -13-. Isn't that special? She requested BBS stuff so this is my pathetic attempt.
I have no idea how many oneshots will be in this thing, at the very least, four.
Suggestions welcome, but they'll be after the ones I have pre-planned.