Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, or anything related, except for the characters introduced at the end of this chapter and in the next chapter.


+*~o~oO The Keyblade Wars: Trial by Fire Oo~o~*+

"That is all the training I have for you today. You may go."

"Thank you, Master."

As soon as their Master was out of sight, the three Keyblade Apprentices let out a sigh of relief. They had been training since dawn, and the trio was visibly exhausted.

"Finally! I thought we'd never get done!" the youngest of the three whined, throwing his arms up in the air, then dramatically collapsing onto the soft grass.

"You're such a Drama Queen, Ven!" The eldest apprentice laughed, running a hand through his messy brown hair.

"Hey, Aqua's the only girl here!" Ventus, known to his friends simply as Ven, protested, sky-blue eyes narrowing to slits, "Don't call me a queen."

"It's a figure of speech, Ven!" the blue-haired apprentice laughed, azure eyes glinting with amusement. She only laughed more loudly when the smaller blonde pouted at her from the ground, the brown-haired apprentice joining her.

"It's not funny," Ven complained, crossing his arms defiantly, still sitting on the ground.

"Come on, you lazy bum," Aqua teased, "Get up so we can go eat something."

"She's right, I'm starving," the eldest apprentice added, stretching his arms over his head, then letting them swing back down.

"Terra, you're always starving," Ven pointed out, earning himself a playful shove that nearly sent him sprawling on the floor. "Heyyy!" The older teen just laughed and started backing away from the smaller boy, knowing what was coming. Unfailingly enough, Ventus practically leaped back onto his feet, and proceeded to chase after Terra, shouting "Get back here!" and other similar commands at the other apprentice.

Aqua knew Terra wouldn't be able to outrun Ven for long – the boy was much too fast for him – but it was still amusing to watch the older apprentice try. It only took a few moments for the blonde to catch up to the brunette and tag him from behind, inciting a laugh from the older Keyweilder. Terra suddenly turned around and caught Ventus in a headlock, and began rubbing his knuckles against the blonde apprentice's head.

"Ow Ow Ow!" Ven cried, half-protesting, half-laughing as he struggled futilely against Terra's much greater strength, "Terra, cut it out!" The older apprentice started to laugh as well, and Aqua couldn't help but join them as well.

This is my family, Aqua thought as she watched the two boys. The girl smiled to herself and curled her hand into a fist over where she believes her heart is, and looked up at the reddening sky of the Land of Departure. This is how it should always be.

Right at that moment, a bright point of light flashed across the sky, clearly visible even though the sun had barely reached the horizon.

Aqua closed her eyes, and wished on the fallen star.

Please, don't ever let this change.

When Aqua reopened her eyes, she saw that Terra and Ven had stopped their tussle and were also looking up at the spot where the star had been. Ven's eyes were closed; Terra was staring intently at the sky.

Aqua felt a welcome warmth come over her as she watched her two closest friends, almost her brothers, wish upon the star just as she had. She walked over and stood between them, keeping her hand over her heart, still staring up at the sky. Terra glanced over at her, and a smile flickered across his face, before he turned his attention back to the orange sky. The three were quiet for a while, until Terra finally broke the silence.

"Do you think there are people out there like us?"

Ventus opened his eyes and leaned forward to look past Aqua at Terra, who was still watching the sky. "What do you mean?"

Curious, Aqua tore her gaze away from the horizon and looked at the older apprentice.

"I mean," Terra began, turning his cobalt gaze to his companions, "do you think there are other people with bonds as strong as ours?" Aqua opened her mouth to respond, but before any words could come out, Ven had already begun to reply.

"Of course!" he stated, looking back out at the near-crimson sky. "I mean, there are so many other worlds out there… there's gotta be people out there like us, right? It'd be impossible for there not to be."

Aqua smiled at the younger apprentice, and lowered her hand from her chest, placing it on his shoulder. He looked up at her, and he couldn't help but marvel at the light she saw in her best friend's eyes. "You're right, Ven. It would be impossible for there to not be someone out there with a bond like ours."

Ven's response was his trademark grin.

Terra, however, clapped his hand on Aqua's shoulder forcefully enough to make her wince slightly, and remarked, "Well, not exactly like ours." He smirked before continuing, causing Aqua to raise an eyebrow at him.

"Because ours is much stronger than anyone else's."

~o~oOo~o~

Aqua couldn't sleep. She was tired enough to fall asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow, but she soon found that she wasn't going to get any sleep anytime soon.

Having given up on getting any rest that night, Aqua snuck out of her room and swiftly tiptoed down the hallway, headed straight for the site of her favorite distraction: the Castle's library.

Aqua strode through the doors of the library and took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of the hundreds of shelved books. Sure, Terra and Ven had called her a bookworm more than once, but why deny something that's true? she thought as she cast a small fire spell to brighten the room. Turning on the lights would attract attention, and what Aqua wanted was peace and quiet. Guiding the tiny flame with her hand, she walked through the tall aisles of books, searching for a title that caught her attention. As she walked past the non-fiction section of the extensive library, a loud THWAP behind her made Aqua yelp and spin around, almost bumping into one of the shelves. Out of instinct, she summoned Rain Fall and pointed it at the source of the sound, intensifying the flame in her hand to illuminate the culprit.

The source of the sound was a fallen book.

Releasing a breath she hadn't realized she was holding, she dismissed her Keyblade from her hand, allowing the fire spell to dim again. She picked up the book, and looked up and down the shelves to put it in its rightful place, when, much to her surprise, she discovered she couldn't find an open spot.

Growing suspicious, she released the flame and let it float in midair a few inches away, and inspected the heavy volume in her hand.

The book looked old, to say the least, but Aqua's practiced eyes could tell that it hadn't been opened for quite a long time. It was a leather-bound, deep crimson cover imprinted with half-faded golden lettering. The lettering was faded, and she squinted in an attempt to read the title better. "Keyblade…. What?"

Frustrated at being unable to decipher the title, the blue-haired apprentice huffed and called the fire spell back to her hand. I guess I'll just take it to my room then, she decided, there's nowhere else to put it.

Extinguishing the flame, Aqua silently made her way back to her room, using the moonlight that filtered in through the windows in the hallway to see. After making sure the she hadn't woken anyone up, she slipped into her room and sat down on her bed, reigniting the fire spell. She allowed it to glow more brightly this time, since she wouldn't be disturbing anyone with the brightness, and attempted to read the title again.

"Keyblade…" she read to herself, "Keyblade…. Wes? … no, that can't be right…" Upon closer inspection, she was able to decipher the last word. "Keyblade Wars?"

Where have I heard that before?

Knock, knock, knock.

Aqua froze on her bed, staring at the door. Who'd I wake up? she asked herself, hoping that it wasn't the Master. Her fears were soon dispelled by the young voice that came through the door.

"Aquaaa?" came the sleepy blonde's voice, "Why are you uuup?"

The azure-eyed girl hastily put the book down and quietly dashed to the door, opening it as silently as she could and pulling the young apprentice inside, ignoring his drowsy protests. "Ven, shh!" she whispered urgently, "Why are you up?"

"I was going to the bathroom," he yawned. "I saw a light under your door, and I wondered why you were up."

I knew I shouldn't have had the Fire burn that bright… Aqua scolded herself, then sighed. "I was reading, Ven. I couldn't sleep."

"Really?" Ven asked curiously, his half-lidded eyes opening a bit wider, "That's odd. Me neither."

Aqua raised an eyebrow. "Really? That is odd…"

Knock, knock, knock.

Aqua froze for the third time that night, while Ven jumped at the sudden noise, falling backward on Aqua's bed and hitting his shoulder against the book that was laying there. He was unable to suppress a hiss of discomfort, and the door creaked open when the intruder realized the inhabitants were awake. Brown hair and cobalt eyes peeked into the room, becoming confused at the sight of the startled girl and the fallen blonde. "What are you guys doing?"

"Terra?" Ven asked, sitting up on the bed with a hand on his shoulder. "What are you doing?"

Terra invited himself in, shutting the door quietly behind him. "Couldn't sleep. I was going out for some fresh air when I saw the light under your door and heard voices."

"Did no one get any sleep tonight?" Ven groaned, earning a glare from his companions that clearly said "Lower the volume!"

"Apparently not," Aqua sighed, dropping onto a sitting position onto her bed and making Ven bounce a bit. The boy rubbed his shoulder, muttering something about rocks and mattresses, when he caught a glance of crimson and gold behind him. As Terra settled himself into a chair, Ven turned around and picked up the book, holding it up so he could read the title in the dim light.

"Key… blade…what? Is this what you were reading?" He held the book out to Aqua, who took it and put it on her lap.

"I was about to start when you walked in…" Aqua muttered. I really need some sleep, she thought, but it'll be rude if I just kick them out of my room… maybe –

"Well, what is it?" Terra asked, interrupting her thoughts. "Something about the Keyblade?"

The girl nodded. "The main title reads 'Keyblade Wars,' but I can't tell what the rest of it says…"

"Keyblade Wars?" Terra echoed, "Why does that sound familiar?"

"Maybe Master Eraqus mentioned it during one of our lessons?" Ven offered.

"Maybe," Aqua said, looking back down at the book in her lap. She opened it carefully, not sure of the condition the pages would be in, and was surprised to find that the pages looked almost completely new, very unlike the cover that protected it. "Wow… must be under a spell or something… It looks almost new…"

"Is the title written in there?" Ven asked eagerly, almost bouncing up and down on the bed. Any drowsiness that was present before was completely gone now.

"Let's see…" Aqua scanned the first page, searching for something that looked like a title. She was pleased to see that the book was written in the Common language, and after a moment, she read aloud, " 'The Keyblade Wars: Trial by Fire'…it says it's a true story, written by a 'Master Xeni'…"

"'Xeni'?" Ven repeated, "I've never heard that name before. Is there like a prologue or something? Read it!" There was no resisting the overenthusiastic apprentice when he wanted to do something, so Aqua sighed and complied. She pulled her legs up onto the bed to sit in a more comfortable position, and Terra shifted around a bit in his chair. As soon as Aqua was sure everyone was settled, she turned the page and began to read out loud…

~o~

Dear Keywielder,

I sincerely hope that when you read this, you will take this tale to heart, for the tragedy told in this book is one that should be averted, for the sake of all that exists.

This is a tale of friendship and of betrayal, of love and of hate, of peace and of war, of light and of darkness, of life and of death.

The tale of the hardships my apprentices experienced is both sorrowful and hopeful; a winding road with many obstacles, but ending with a goal that would ultimately end a war.

This is the tale of three great forces that influenced the outcome of this war; the tale of Light, of Darkness, and of Fire.

Every word written in this book is completely true to the actual event; accounts taken from all those involved and compiled into the pages you now hold. The people involved in this tale are long gone, but I hope and pray to Kingdom Hearts that their story lives on, so that others may learn from their victories and their mistakes, to help bring this universe back into the path of the light.

Do not stray too far from this path, or it will become near impossible to return, but be forewarned:

The closer you come to the light, the larger your shadow becomes.

~~Keyblade Master Xeni


A/N: OKAY, I know I should be working on Sunsets and Ice Cream, but I really needed to get this idea out of my head.

Yes, it will be OC-centric, since no canon characters were alive during the Keyblade Wars… but I promise you, they won't be Sues/Stus.

Also, I will be keeping author's notes to a minimum, so I will a politely say this right now:

Read and Review, please! It tells me what I'm doing right and wrong, so please review!