Aladdin hung his head low as dead bodies were carted away. It was all his fault. Mozenrath had taken the Genie, captured him. What was that damn weapon he had carried in his hand, that device that had torn buildings asunder? That had captured his beloved friend? Abu rested on his shoulder, frowning slightly as he tried, in vain, to cheer him up. Nothing he could say could even bring him to a smile. Nothing could be said even by Jasmine, as she emerged in the doorway behind him, frowning slightly as she drew near. She pressed her dainty fingertips against his shoulder, lowering herself beside him.
"Father's men are looking for Mozenrath right now, so don't worry," Jasmine said, softly.
"They took him. I couldn't even stop one stupid-DAMN!" Aladdin pounded his fist against the stairs, the only thing he could focus his fury into. He felt Jasmine's soft, gentle arms wrap around his middle, drawing him closer as she stared up at him, her large, brown eyes filled with unshed tears. It melted his inner tensions away as he sighed, resting his own head against her mane of braided hair, nestling his nose into it. She smelt nice.
"What is this place?"
Aladdin snapped up as an unfamiliar voice rang out through the air, the sound of the crackling and movement filling his ears. Aladdin and Jasmine turned to face three figures emerging from a dark vortex in the air. The one closest to the stairway was a scarlet haired woman, dressed like royalty, a dark haired man at her side, along with a girl he assumed was their daughter. She looked so much like her father. They walked closer to the stairs, glancing around curiously, only as a second portal opened up. This time, a single man emerged, foreign and mighty looking. In his hand was a long sword, his body covered in armor that protected him from the harsh caress of the wind blowing around him, his cape flapping against the currents. Another portal opened as a blonde couple emerged, both armed, the boy with a great sword, the girl with a quiver filled with arrows.
Finally, a fourth portal opened before their eyes, and out emerged four figures. Two were dark skinned, darker than Aladdin, a male and female. Another was of the same creed as the armored man, glancing around nervously. The fourth, however, that fourth man…
"Shang!" the Asian girl cried out, sprinting for the caped man. She dove into his arms, his eyes filled with shock as her strong limbs tightened around his waist. He nearly stumbled over, despite how powerful he appeared, and yet he couldn't seem to stop smiling. Why did he look so overjoyed? No, he knew why: they were lovers. After all, why would the armored man, Shang, call out the girl's name, Mulan, in such an overjoyed tone, embracing her back just as tightly?
"Okay, so that's something you don't see every day," the dark skinned woman said, frowning, "Guess she was from another world, huh, Naveen."
"Tiana, maybe we should be a bit concerned about why we're not in our old world," chuckled the dark skinned man, Naveen, nervously.
"That's probably a good point," Tiana replied back.
"I knew we shouldn't have taken that portal, Taran!" the flaxen haired girl spat at the auburn boy.
"Eilonwy! You said no such thing!"
"Oh, no I did!"
"Yes I did! You just weren't listening!"
"If you are finished with your lover's squabble," that dark figure said, taking a few steps forward in his billowing black robes, "I fear there is much to discuss. I take it that all of you have had a visit from a fiend of some sort lately?" All the newcomers, along with Aladdin and Jasmine, seemed focused on this solitary figure, this old man with a dark, baritone voice, a voice that echoed through the bloodshed. There was something about this man that Aladdin instinctually hated. He didn't know what it was, but just looking at his face made his skin crawl, his fingers clench in hatred, and his pulse quicken.
"Alright, just who are you people?" Aladdin snapped, "We've had enough visitors for one day, in case you couldn't see, so just what are you all doing?"
"I-Oh my god!" the scarlet haired woman turned toward the bloodshed, finally seeing it for the first time. Her eyes wavered in their sockets, her hands clenched over her mouth as she fell to her knees, doubled over as nausea filled and consumed her. Her lover came to her side, calling her name, Ariel, as she nearly vomited on the floor. Her daughter soon joined her, clinging to her as she burrowed her face into her mother's bosom, to shield her eyes from the carnage. She wasn't the only one to have a strong reaction. Eilonwy and Taran turned a shade of white, though they didn't start retching, and Tiana, who also just noticed the blood, turned away, her lips drawn tightly as Naveen comforted her with his arms. The only ones to respond less dramatically were Mulan and Shang, who both regarded the scene with melancholy, yet expectant, eyes, and the old man, who didn't respond at all.
If anything, he smiled.
"This portal opened up nearby us, so I went through," Shang replied, simply, "That's why I'm here, and I take it the rest can make a similar case."
"I can safely assure you that we don't want to be here, but we need to be," Mulan said, "I think this is something meant to happen, us uniting."
"You're right," the red haired queen, Ariel, mumbled, slowly rising, her hair falling over her face, her voice rising with every word, "My father was just murdered, and now this. Someone is causing horrible things to happen, and I am not standing by and allowing this all to come to pass! Just what the hell is going on here?"
"I think Claude-"
"Watch your tongue."
"Right, I think Mr-"
"A more respectful-"
"Oh, will you shut up! Mr. Frollo here has a few things to tell all you people I think you should hear," Tiana said, folding her arms over her chest, her eyes staring at the palace before her, clearly avoiding the torn corpses strewn across the streets.
"Indeed I do," the old man, Frollo, said, slowly, his ancient lips curling into a slight grin, perhaps of triumph, "I am afraid to say that many of the people you probably spent a long time trying to kill have returned from the grave."
"The grave?" Jasmine stammered.
"So does this mean that Mozenrath and Jafar are-no, that doesn't sound like Mozenrath's style," Aladdin pondered, considering this. Mozenrath tended to work alone, to dominate all aspects of his plans. He wouldn't just team up with someone, especially not Jafar, who himself preferred to dominate matters. They'd distrust each other, and their alliance would be formed on a broken base. But, then again, Mozenrath did have that witchdoctor on his side. Perhaps he's the one calling the shots?
Perhaps Jafar isn't involved at all.
"If I may have my time to speak, I can explain everything," the ancient man said, "And we can plan our attack from there."
"Attack?" Ariel stammered, "I've had enough of this fighting. Isn't there another way aside from trying to kill someone?"
"No," Taran replied, sighing, "We need to kill the enemy. If you give them a second to recover, they WILL kill you. Mercy isn't a luxury we can afford now, especially if they're going to do this!"
"Agreed," Shang said, "We need a plan of attack. The Chinese army is in recovery, so we're going to need your troops. Every troop you have."
"But we-we-" Ariel stammered, only for Tiana to draw nearer, placing a hand on her shoulder. The redhead glanced up, stunned at this act of kindness, eyes wide as tears ran down her cheeks. Her husband and daughter stared at the newcomer, stunned, before frowning as she hugged the redhead in her comforting arms, letting the woman cry into her chest.
"What a radical display of emotion," Frollo mumbled, "Rest assured, I'm not overjoyed I need to accompany myself with the dregs of the Earth either, but-"
"Dregs?" Jasmine snapped, "I hope you aren't referring to us like that. You're speaking to royalty, I'll have you know."
"Royalty?" the old man laughed, "Royalty of the Kingdoms of Hell, perhaps, but nothing more."
"Listen, you jerk, if you want our help, you're going to need to be a bit more respectful," Aladdin snapped, drawing close, wrapping his fingers around his collar, hoisting him up above his feet, his face contorted in rage. He wanted to rip this man's face off, beat him to a bloody pulp. Thoughts of anger and hatred he never felt before consumed him, overwhelmed him. Even Jafar hadn't inspired this much hatred in his heart.
"Unhand me, you heathen!"
"Look, you're in here with us, and from the looks of things, you don't have a choice. You NEED us, and you know it.," Aladdin said, lips curling into a triumphant grin.
The old man didn't refute this statement.
As the Arab dropped the old man sloppily to the floor, he turned toward the others, fingers clenched tightly, "Look, I take it you're all from different worlds. That's not too uncommon of an idea around here. Now, listen very carefully: tell me everything that's going on here. We have hundreds of people dead all throughout Agrabah without any sort of explanation, and I for one am not going to just sit around and wait for an answer to pop up. Someone, just tell me what's happening."
Everyone was silent, until the old man rose to his feet, massaging his neck gingerly. "Very well. I shall explain."
"This Trident is a rather spectacular weapon, isn't it, Mr. Smee?"
The raging fires soared around them, violent tongues of flame devouring everything around him. The water itself had even lit on fire, the mermaids below forced to remain deep in the depths of the water to avoid the lethal flames from above. It was amazing to finally have some fun with Neverland, letting the irritating foliage burn a little bit. He was grateful that the flames did repel the fairies, who flew into the air, helpless, and wide open for capture.
"Kronk! What are you doing!" Yzma snapped. Kronk, the muscle bound idiot, was swinging a butterfly net through the air. The problem was that the net was easily escapable, as all the fairies ensnared in its net simply ripped open the net, and flew through the holes. That net was worthless, and yet he was waving it around like some sort of flag spinner in a poorly orchestrated marching band!
"Ah, Yzma, Squirrelly Scout tradition is butterfly catching, and this is just bringing back some old memories, ya know," Kronk replied.
Yzma pinched the bridge of her nose, shaking her head in disbelief. "Fine, do whatever you want, Kronk. Just don't screw anything up."
"Sure thing, Yzma," Kronk replied, swinging the net wildly, bashing it against a nearby pirate's temple.
"Cap'n, aren't ya worried that Peter Pan might come out?" Mr. Smee asked, cautiously.
"Peter Pan?" laughed Captain Hook, "Oh, I'm counting on him showing up." A smile curled around the pirate's face, the trident held in his hands and the hook constructed from Ursula's flesh. What a mighty hook! It felt stronger than ordinary, probably due to the potency of Ursula's magic. What an amazing way to eliminate a threat in a safe fashion.
"Cap'n Hook! Peter Pan ahoy!"
There, in the distance, was a cloud of bodies soaring toward the boat. He grinned. So Peter Pan was to come to him, along with his army of lost boys. Ordinarily, he'd feel mildly threatened, perhaps even afraid. However, now things were different. This trident changed things. He'd blow them out of the air, kill every last one of those damn kids now, he'd-
"Kronk! Load the cannon!"
"You do not make the orders on this ship, Yzma!" Captain Hook snapped, turning on the woman with a look of horror, "And what exactly are you loading into the cannons?"
"Why, just anti-flying powder," Yzma replied, shrugging.
"Anti-fly-Kronk, load it!" Captain Hook imaged the Lost Boy's flailing forms tumbling stories down into the fiery water below. What a horribly devious way to end. He hoped he could have blasted them out of the air with his trident, but he'd simply devastate the rest of Neverland, taking all the treasure, without needing to personally kill the boy.
The powder was launched into the air after a few seconds of working on it.
It flew at the mass, and exploded outward.
However, as the dust cleared, the bodies did not fall. If anything, they flew higher, soaring higher and higher into the sky until they disappeared entirely. Captain Hook scratched his head, confused, as Yzma glanced at Kronk, her eyes filled with rage. "Kronk, just what did you fire at them?"
"Oh, guess it was the anti-gravity powder and not the anti-flying one, huh?" Kronk laughed, nervously.
"That took two months to develop, you idiot!"
"Oh, well, it doesn't matter. They're all probably dead, so what do I care about how you got it done," chuckled Captain Hook, feeling a flutter surging through his heart. That damn Peter Pan is dead! After all these years of fighting him, he was gone! He had been finished, out of his hair without any difficulty at all, no mess and no struggle. He waited for the extreme euphoria and joy to consume him.
It never came.
Why did he feel so empty?
"So we're going ahead with the plan to attack?" Scar mumbled, "What an idiotic move."
"You're telling me," Gaston laughed, "I still think this is kind of stupid! I mean, all those beautiful women out there, and we're wasting time on a few Gods? Maybe the god of beauty will-"
"You're missing the point," Scar grumbled, shaking his head in disbelief. For such a mighty man, he clearly was an idiot. He didn't understand anything going on, other than his limited, narrow perspective of the world. If only Scar could be rid of him, and fast. And then things clicked for the lion, a grin curling around his feline lips. "Well, I'm surprised you haven't tried scouting out the threat yet."
"The threat? What threat?" Gaston asked, curiously.
"The threat of the people who stole the lamp," Scar replied, "After all, that genie can grant any wish. If you wanted almighty power, you'd have it. If you wanted, I don't know, to attract every female within a mile, you'd have that power." It was this off-handed comment that made Gaston grin.
"Well, no one mentioned it could do THAT," Gaston chuckled, "I suppose it might be a wise idea to look for this old thing."
"Well, I don't know. It's awfully dangerous," Scar said, turning around, glancing from the corners of his eyes at the buffoon, "Not worth your time, really."
"Not worth my time? Too dangerous? Clearly you don't know me as well as you think," Gaston laughed, "No one meets danger like Gaston!"
Oh, he was as predictable as the sun and moon rising. With a grin, Scar turned around, feigning caution and anxiety, if not only to mask the overwhelming vigor in his chest. After all, if Gaston went off and died, that would mean less competition, and, if he died fighting this enemy ration, it meant less enemies out there for him to overcome to reach his ultimate objective of conquest. "Oh, now, let's keep this a little secret between us, but, if you really want to go off, I'm sure Jafar would be more than happy to send you there."
"Oh, I'll go and ask Jafar right now," laughed Gaston, trotting off into the shadows.
Scar chuckled, turning away. One down, and several more to go.
"Alright, so where do we go from here?" Hades queried to himself, staring down at the chess board before him. Jafar stood apart from him on the other side, along with the Horned King. It was odd, but he felt these two were probably the most trustworthy members in his group, not because of their track record, but just because of their intelligence. Now, Hades had no doubt Captain Hook lead a loyal pirate ship crew, but he never did win much gold. Scar did conquer Pride Rock, but failed to manage it very well. The Horned King and Jafar, however, now they were born leaders, men of power and authority that made Hades respect them.
"I still insist we attack this enemy faction. The Lamp is an instrumental weapon, and to underestimate it is foolishness," Jafar replied, "But, if you're going to continue to stick your head in the sand, then we should attack Olympus quickly, if not only to establish control quickly rather than let it slip from our fingers."
"Agreed!" Hades laughed, "Now, the only thing is-"
The trio turned at the sound of that idiot Gaston's voice as he darted into the room. Hades wanted to strangle that idiot. He had shot Shan Yu to death. He was clearly not to be trusted, and, to say the least, quite a liability. He wasn't going to help them out, but rather end up dooming them all to utter annihilation. Sighing, Jafar turned toward Hades, and said, in his slow voice, "Excuse me for a moment. I will address this issue personally." As the old vizier took Gaston out of the room, his voice echoed through the chamber as he harshly whispered, "Do you realize what you just interrupted?"
"Right, well, Horny, tell me what ya think," Hades said, turning toward the Horned King.
"Alright. I was hoping you'd allow me to use the Cauldron to raise an army of the dead."
"Army of the dead? Fine, I can handle that. How many dead people do you need?"
"Every last one," the Horned King said, smiling.
"All of them!" Hades stammered, "Wow, man, let's take it easy here. Do you really need every last one?"
"It's just a precaution against dangerous enemies, like the men in Agrabah."
"Horny, that was a fluke, nothing special. Now, c'mon, man, ya really can't be telling me you're scared of a guy who messed up a few people, are ya?"
The Horned King was silent for a moment, before speaking once more, his unsettling, supernatural voice slow, perhaps betraying a hint of anxiety. "That power wasn't normal. It was something larger than any of us, and to underestimate it is foolish, if not downright stupid. I suggest we go out and eliminate this threat post haste. If not for personal security."
Didn't these people realize they had nothing to worry about? They were being led by a God! He wasn't just some ordinary, run of the mill bad guy. Hades was the Lord of the Dead! It wasn't just a simple matter of failing to do this or that, he was the zenith of power and magic. Nothing anyone could do would stop him. Even Jafar wouldn't be able to beat Hades. He was eternal! Why did everyone act as though there was a chance in Hell they'd lose?
"I think there is another group out to reach our same goal," the Horned King said, "That's my belief, and if you don't listen, then there is a strong chance we'll lose more men. Personally, I'd rather not die a second time."
"Look, Horny, if ya die again, I'll bring ya back."
"Then tell me; why isn't Shan Yu back from the grave?" the Horned King asked, "He died awhile ago, and yet you haven't brought HIM back." Hades laughed nervously at this. What was he going to tell the Horned King? That, after dying a second time, a soul was stagnant and impossible to touch for an extended period of time? That Shan Yu was outside of even the God of Death's grasp? That, if the Horned King died again, he'd wander through oblivion for an extended period of time?
"Look, I'm still looking for his soul. Don't worry about it!" Hades laughed, patting the Horned King on his boney back,. "Now, you just worry about raising armies of the dead and all that. We have a lot to worry about tomorrow. We don't have the time to waste on some nobody who captured a Genie. Probably too short sighted to see what we'll be doing. Besides, Jafar himself is a Genie, stronger than that blue guy, too. I'm not worried."
"But I am, Hades. Oh, I am."
"Your name's Ariel, right?"
The scarlet haired girl glanced up at the sound of her name, glancing into Tiana's soft, dark eyes. The poor girl looked awfully broken up. She had been alone all day, and, even when great feasts were served for the guests, courtesy of the Sultan and Agrabah palace, she had remained in tears alone in her room. Her husband, Eric, who seemed like a nice enough man, had tried comforting her, but nothing had come of it. Her daughter, Melody, seemed melancholy as well, but not truly broken, not like her mother.
She was such a slender girl, beautiful looking, with those big, round eyes. She probably needed the piece of Tiana's home made cake, which she just happened to have a piece of at that particular minute. She handed it to the girl, who accepted it with a soft word of thanks. She slowly ate it, the fork held between trembling pale fingers. Her eyes stared off into oblivion, not on the cake, nor on Tiana, but simply out into the expanse of nothing, nothing that extended to infinity.
"Hey, what's eating you up?" Tiana asked, sitting next to Ariel.
The redhead didn't answer at first, but finally the words came out. "My father was killed today."
"Oh." Tiana wasn't sure how to respond. Perhaps she should simply say how she felt, how, after her own father died, she had felt a sense of great emptiness, the only thing keeping her going being her goals of owning a restaurant. An all consuming obsession, one could argue. Still, it didn't look like Ariel had a goal like that. She looked like one of those rich folk who had everything they wanted already. There was nothing to motivate or distract Ariel like there was with Tiana.
She needed to confront her depression head on.
"You have a daughter?" Tiana asked, smiling slightly.
"Aw, now that's just-well, me an' Naveen have been tryin' for a daughter, but, well, it looks like we're gonna have t' try a little harder, ya know?" Tiana chuckled slightly, "Not that I'm complainin' and all, but, well, how old is your girl?"
"Melody's turning fifteen this May," Ariel replied, softly.
"Well, that's a great year."
"That's how old I was when I met Eric, and, well-I'm sorry if I'm getting sentimental," Ariel replied, brushing her palms up against her eyes.
"Nah, don't worry, it's fine. So how old are you now?"
"Well, I'm about 33."
"33? Man, I wouldn't of marked you as older than 24! Well, look, if you want me to prepare you any more food, you just let me know, okay, sugar?"
"Yes, thank you," Ariel replied, lowering her head once more, her scarlet locks tumbling over her face once more. She had such a pretty face, and the look was enhanced by her somber, sad eyes. It was odd how an angel sometimes looked prettier when she was sad. Tiana couldn't help but envy her, being a Princess and everything-no, a Queen! Sure, her daddy was dead, but so was Tiana's, and she managed pretty well. But that was because of her goal.
Maybe being born with royalty wasn't such an easy life after all.
"So this Mozenrath person you spoke of is a master of the dark arts?" the baritone voice of Frollo echoed through the war room, staring down at the rest of the mass, sans one Ariel. Mulan couldn't help but admire him, though not in the same way she admired Shang. That was a very different admiration. No, here was a man who had saved her life from certain doom. She felt a little sorry for him, seeing as how everyone, even Shang, seemed to inherently hate him.
"Yes," Aladdin said, "Now, was he part of this group this Hades guy rounded up?"
"From your description, no, he wasn't," Frollo replied, "But, of course, he could've added to his ranks since my departure."
"We killed this mouse guy," Taran said, holding his sword in his hands, frowning slightly, "Armed with this, even. This sword is enchanted. It'll never be able to miss its mark, and we warded him off and killed him, even armed with this blade. I'm not sure whether that means they're weak or if we're really strong."
"There are clearly other worlds we haven't explored yet," Melody, the youngest of the fold, said, frowning slightly, "I think we should get more help, if we can figure out how these portal things work."
"I can figure out something," Aladdin said, "If the Genie were here, he'd be able to help, but-"
"One more word, Frollo, that's all it'll take for me to just dump you in the desert," Aladdin said, clenching his fists up tightly. Mulan didn't mark Aladdin as an aggressive person. Why was it that this old man inspired such furious emotions in him? Why was it that simply laying eyes on a holy judge was enough to make him want to commit irrational murder? Mulan glanced back at the judge, who betrayed a sense of fear at the prospect of being left in the wastelands of sand, lowering his head in resignation.
"Now, we can raid Mozenrath's Kingdom," Jasmine suggested, "Maybe there'll be some answers there?"
"I have no problem with that," Shang said, withdrawing his blade, as he stood up, "Surely there'll be some sort of information we can gather there."
"Yes, but more important, maybe a way to open up a portal to the other worlds," Naveen said, frowning, "This is some pretty heavy stuff."
"But even if we find some magical way to open up portals to other worlds, then what?" Eilonwy queried.
"The way I see it," Aladdin said, "This Hades guy is gathering a bunch of people we've already beaten in the past. The fact is, though, that we've beaten them before. We can win a second time, if we all just work together."
"We've already taken down Shan Yu, and I think a few of us have already beaten other old enemies too," Mulan said, smiling confidently, "I think we really can win this, if we all work together."
"Indeed. Now, there is just one thing bothering me," Aladdin said, turning toward the judge yet again, "Hades brought you out of the Underworld to help him, right?"
"That is correct."
"Well, if he took you out, clearly someone killed you in another world, is that true?"
"What are you implying?"
"Is there any way we can get them to help us?"
The old man rose to his feet, his long purple ribbon dancing in the air like a serpent around his torso. "I'd sooner burn them in the fires of Hell than ally myself with them once more."
"That kind of attitude isn't going to get us anywhere," Eric said, frowning, "In this case, we may just need to make allies with people we probably wouldn't work with ordinarily. Given the chance, we may need to recruit the people who took you down, too."
"This is absurdity! I cannot allow-"
"So you'd rather a bunch of monsters destroy everything than just swallowing your pride for a few seconds?" Aladdin asked, his eyes narrowing.
"Pride? This is not a matter of pride! This is a matter of purity!"
"No, it's pride, you self-righteous jackal! You can have your revenge on them later, if you insist on it, but for now, we need them! We don't have a choice. And you don't have a choice."
There was a pregnant silence that filled the room for a few moments. Frollo glared at the Arab boy for a moment or two before folding his arms over his chest, seating himself down, eyes still narrowed. "Alright, I'll concede for now, but rest assured, I doubt they'd be anything short of hostile if they so much as glance at someone as glorious as me."
"Right, well, we'll deal with that when it comes," Jasmine replied, frowning a tight, angry frown.
"Now, I'm going to go to the Land of Dark Sand, and I may need a few other people with me," Aladdin said.
"Why don't we all just go?" Eric asked.
"We need people to defend the palace in case the worst should happen," Jasmine said, "That's why I'll be staying behind."
"I'll go with you," Mulan said, rising to her feet.
"I'll defend the palace," Shang added, "Just because I know you'll be fine on your own."
Mulan blushed at this.
"You may need my sword," Taran said, glancing over at Aladdin.
"I'll take an enemy out before they even reach the gates," Eilonwy declared, smiling brightly.
"I'm not much of a fighter, but I'm sure Naveen would love to go into this Dark Sand place." Naveen looked terrified at the prospect of going, and waved his wife's comments off with a shaky, nervous laugh.
"Don't listen to her. She's just fooling herself. I'll stand in defense."
"Suit yourself," Melody replied, "I'm going over to the Sand."
"Defense," Eric said, "And I'll speak for Ariel when I say she'll defend, too. She's in no condition right now to go out on an adventure just yet."
"Fair enough," Aladdin said, turning to the last member of the group who had yet to declare at thing, "What're you gonna do, Frollo?"
The old man was silent for a moment before saying, rising to his feet, "I'll burn this Dark Kingdom to the ground once we're through with it."
Aladdin, for the first time in all his conversations with the judge, smiled a genuine smile.