Hacking away at Heartless the old fashioned way with a giant magical key is always fun. It had made much Sora stronger (as if he needed it when he was already running all over the universe, working every existing muscle in his body). There's something oddly intriguing about ridding the world of evil without actually taking a single life. He'd watched people lose their hearts before - and had lost his own heart once - but that was different.

Despite the powerful edge of physical combat, though, nothing could beat good ol' magic spells.

Sora remembers learning his very first spell; remembers shooting fire from the tip of the Keyblade for the very first time and worrying about burning something cherished. When he had learned how to cast Lightning, he'd worried about causing power outages and scaring little children. When he had learned Stop, he worried about altering the time space continuum.

He still finds it funny that those things even came to mind. Luckily, they never happened.

Magic is a paradox, from being able to cast Fire spells underwater, to also being able to withstand its burn, if it's ever inflicted upon you. Magic is a power; the power of long distance attack, the power to exploit elemental weaknesses, and the power to open magic oysters.

Even more than that, though, magic is a memory. Watching a bonfire burn under the starry sky looming above his reclaimed Destiny Islands reminds Sora of those days, the days of his adventure and his travels. He'd made countless friends (and enemies), and learned more than he could ever hope to learn from the homeschooling that still remained a large part of his new life as a 'normal' teenager.

Being a 'normal' teenager opened new doors, and introduced new behaviors. He noticed girls more (well, he would, if only he were able to stop ogling over Kairi) and his playful fights with Riku became more spirited. As you can imagine, Riku had gotten stronger, too. He'd gotten so strong that Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie couldn't stop bombarding him with questions, let alone best him in their nostalgic play-duels.

He'd already been the strongest fighter to start with, after all. Plus, Riku had also learned magic. Even better, he could control his spells much better than he could ever control the darkness in his heart.

"Riku?" Sora glares at his wooden sword. It feels different than the Keyblade, different than smooth metal and the soft whip of a keychain. It didn't strike like a Keyblade, either. Instead of moving with the air, the sword would push against it. It would definitely take some getting used to. "Do you think we can still use magic?"

"Probably not." Riku swings his own sword around a couple of times. "Even if we could, why would we want to?"

"This'd be more fun if we shook things up a bit. We could try to freeze each other or something. Fire would probably burn the swords, though."

"Magic spells require magic weapons. These," Rik taps his sword, "are made out of plain old trees."

"If all it takes is a weapon, why did we have to learn all of the chants and the stances? Was that just for fun?"

"You forget. I didn't learn magic the way you did."

Sora smiles, but that smile fades as Sora rolls his eyes and drops his arms in surrender. "Let's just get on with it, then."

"Are you getting bored?" Riku laughs.

Dashing across the distance between them, Sora exclaims, "Far from it!". He raises his sword high above his head, preparing to land a hit, but Riku is gone. Sora's toy weapon thuds against the sand.


An eerie silence falls over the island.

Out of nowhere, Sora's body is overcome by an all-encompassing chill. He can't move, can't really think. The cold seems to immobilize all the nerves and cells in his brain, and he feels only the beat of his heart, the insistent chattering of his teeth.

Riku lands in front of him, seeming to fall from the sky. "You said we could freeze each other."

His own smile fades when he realizes that the spell isn't wearing off. It shouldn't ever last this long; shouldn't ever be this powerful, and Riku can't help but wonder what's changed.

"Sora?" Riku shakes Sora's shoulders, frozen and encased in thick ice.

Casting Fire would burn the sword...Right?

Only one way to find out.

Riku chants something again, something Sora can't really hear, let alone understand. It sounds like a spell, but it sounds a little different from all the spells Sora ever learned.

Warmth floods him, then. The worst of the freeze is gone, and all of the ice has melted, but his skin is still unbearably cold, his very being chilled to the bone.

"Okay," Sora says. "No magic. None. Ever."

"You poor thing." Kairi soothingly strokes Sora's forehead. He's wrapped in a gazillion blankets, huddled next to a little fire, wearing this stupid contented grin on his face that Riku can't really bring himself to look at.

"It was his idea," Riku says. It's childish to pass the blame, but he can't stand it when Kairi looks at him like this, her eyes disapproving, her mouth stretched out in a thin, unhappy line.

"You both should know that magic isn't going to work the same way here," Kairi says, teeming with uncharacteristic logic. "Without the Keyblade, the spells are completely unstable."

Riku sighs. Leave it to Kairi to harbor that kind of information.

Magic is a paradox. It's power. It's memory. It's also more trouble than it's worth.