Finally out with another chapter. Oh how long has it been since I last uploaded something? Dang, I am quite displeased with myself. Well, time to make up for that.

Chapter 73

A Feast of Fools

Maleficent clutched the railing that accompanied her balcony with intensity as she gazed down at her dominion. Once upon a time, she had owned a castle much like this one. Though it had been her home, she sought control over the entire Kingdom in which she lived. However, when she learned of the existence of other worlds, her attention was drawn to them like any person would have been. Needless to say, her plans had failed thus far although she had gained another land mass in the world of Radiant Garden for a while. Now she was here, a world transformed into the bitterest depths of darkness and a home now to the Heartless who had made their way from similar dark depths. It was the closest world from where she could control the Heartless and it had done her well so far. But now matters had to be concentrated elsewhere for the time being.

"You called Maleficent?" Pete's presence filled the room but when she looked at him all she could see was cowardice and fear. Predictable.

She ignored this and headed straight to the point. "It seems that we have a traitor in our midst among us. I was able to dig up some useful information, without your help for all the good you've done, that Alice was taken forcibly by someone. Abraxas also tells me that there are 'whispers' flying about."

"Well with the boat boy king missin' an all that it would certainly seem that way. But what do we do about it?" Pete asked.

"What do you think?" Maleficent snapped coldly, the sharp crack of her words like a whip descending on Pete's ears. "Find out who it is, or in a worst case scenario, who they are. But exercise caution and tell no one. It is imperative that we cannot allow anyone to know about this."

Pete nodded before asking, "So… why do ya think they're doing this?"

"Why would anyone want to take over my group? Is the question not the obvious answer? When I formed this council, I knew that personal interests would take priority over most of the members and that it would make it harder to work with them as a collective. But that was why it could also be an advantage; after all similar personal goals though somewhat different can still be achieved more quickly with help. But it seems to me that whoever it is that wants to be leader obviously thinks they can do better… and such as shame at that. I would have let them if they had only asked politely."

"Well that's a lie and a half."

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. Nothing, just that I'm hungry for pie and a bath." Pete covered his previous words quickly before asking if she wanted anything else. When she did not respond, Pete took it as a 'no' and quickly left. As he walked out, the second guest of the day passed by him and entered.

"How is the project going?" asked Maleficent.

"Finished actually. If you wouldn't mind however I would like to run some tests on someone I've been eyeing for quite some time now, just to make sure it works to its maximum potential." Abraxas answered.

"Do as you wish. But first I must ask you a question. Who are you?" Maleficent asked.

"Who am I?" Abraxas paused although whether this was deliberately or not, Maleficent could not tell. Eventually he said, "I've already told you, or do you still not trust me after all I've done so far."

"It is not me who desires your trust, but those who conspire against me. You have served me well, more than I could ever ask for but surely you must find the events surrounding the king's disappearance suspicious yes? And the good Captain who claimed he was guarding the seeress' chambers attentively claimed to have just… fallen asleep all of a sudden."

"Fallen asleep? Heh, well you know how pirates are with their liquor and what not. This reminds me, if you ever want a place which serves amazing booze I can hook you up with a tavern in Port Royal. I've been there a few times on my days off and I would certainly call the place more than exquisite, when there aren't drunken pirates there of course. I might want to take old Hook along with me next time." Abraxas humored.

Maleficent seemed indifferent to his joke however and continued, "You are quite the mystery, considering your name isn't even Abraxas…"

"What? How did you-" He tried to catch his own words but it was too late.

"Let us just say that the seeress let slip a certain piece of information, not by choice of course. You seem to have taken a real interest in Yeul, one that would almost seem to stem from some past experience." Maleficent said with a sly smile.

A lump formed in Abraxas throat. "So what you're saying is that you think I am the traitor then?"

Maleficent shook her head. "No, otherwise I would not have suggested you keep an eye on your fellow peers along with Pete. I could care less about your past with Yeul but know that some do and they will no doubt come after you if they get rid of me."

"Huh, so it's like that is it?" Abraxas chuckled. She was essentially telling him that if she went down then he would go down with her.

"Just something for you to dwell over. For the time being keep Yeul and our new guest in your line of sight and see to it that your little test goes successfully as planned. Oh, and do tell the new recruit that I'm finally ready to see her." With that, Maleficent dismissed him and he left promptly with a mischievous smile planted on his face. He had no doubt that things would become more interesting from now on.

They often said the streets of Paris were paved with gold. Full of amazing Parisian culture and lifestyle, the city was the centre of art and learning. An entire world bred in the languages of fashion, food and most of all love. But in the centre of this beautiful city in the eastern half of the Ile de la Cite, a deformed human being was experiencing anything but these sub-cultures of Paris. Instead, he felt himself apart of the scenery, this being the grand cathedral of Notre-dame, a building towering over the river the city and surrounded by the river Seine. While hosting such relics as the crown of thorns and the holy nails, it also served as sanctuary in case anyone needed it. It was also home to the luxurious bells, each with a unique name that he had taken great consideration in giving. This lengthy consideration was mainly due to the man's anti-social behaviour. Other than contact with his master, he mainly kept to himself and the beautiful bells that he so often rang.

"And don't forget about us Quasi!" And of course, he could never forget his other friends, three gargoyles who he trusted dearly and shared his dreams with. He had often had dreams of escaping, of being up in the sky with the birds or playing amongst children in a field. Of course he knew that none of this could ever happen, for he was too hideous for anyone to love.

"I could never forget about my dear friends. Oh, I want to show you guys something." He ran over to the wooden table in the middle where he often had his lunch with his master. It served a much greater meaning for him however. As he tugged away the sheets he revealed detailed wooden carvings of the three gargoyles, from left to right they were Victor, Hugo and Laverne respectively.

"My, it's wonderful Quasi. And just who is this big hunk here eh?" Hugo winked at his own statue.

"Oh please, both of yours just pale in comparison to my own. Isn't that right mini me?" Laverne said. Quasimodo was about to offer his compliments to all three of his friends when he heard a sharp and quick knock at the door. Knowing full well who it was, the statues froze and became as stony as their image conveyed. Placing the dolls under the table quickly, Quasimodo made for the door and opened it to greet his master in.

"I must say, do you ever clean up in here?" Frollo wrinkled his nose as if taken aback before he looked down at Quasimodo. "Dear Quasimodo, as you surely know the feast of fools is upon us once again celebrating nothing but dullards, drunkards and worst of all those detestable gypsies."

"Master, I was wondering if-"

"Speak up Quasimodo, I can't quite hear you." Frollo seemed fixated on one of the rings on his finger and for a second Quasimodo had to wonder if his master found the ring more interesting than him. What was he thinking? Of course his master cared for him. He was pretty much the only one that did anyway.

"I was wondering if just this once I could go down and experience this feast of fools. I mean I'll do well to stay out of harm's way and-"

"Boy, why must you disappoint me so? Surely you know better than anyone what dangers lie behind these walls? And after I've tried so hard to protect you from those dangers this is how you repay my trust?"

"No master! It's nothing like that I promise—" Quasimodo tried to say more but the words would not come out of his mouth.

"Must we go over once again why you must never leave Quasimodo? It is because…"

"Because I am a monster who would only be detested by the world. You're right master, I'm sorry." Quasimodo said crestfallen although Frollo seemed to show little indication that he had noticed.

"Just know that I am doing it for your own protection." He then turned to make for the door before adding in, "I have no doubt you'll be positively starving so once this feast is done I shall bring up something."

"Oh thank you, you're too kind master." Quasimodo said bowing. Once the sound of the door closed behind him, Quasimodo unfroze and sighed in disappointment as his friends came to join him once again. "Of course he's right, how could I be so selfish?"

"Oh come now Quasi, is it any wonder you want to experience the outside world? Being confined to this place is hardly good for you." Victor said.

"Yeah, I mean look at me. I'm a statue and I think I have more of a tan than you Quasi." Hugo chuckled.

"Hardly helping are you…" Victor chided but another knock on the door signalled them to turn back into inanimate objects before Hugo could reply. Quasimodo walked over to the door wondering if the master had forgotten to tell him something. When he opened the door however, his mouth crept into a small smile at the sight of a different man, one dressed in a black cloak this time. He had been the one who had tried to convince Quasimodo to try and ask his master if he could go to the feast. His master had told him never to open his door to strangers and that the world was inhabited by those who spited a creature such as him, and yet Quasi had come to find some solace in this man. He was a person he felt he could confide in.

"Hello Quasimodo, I have quite the surprise for you." Abraxas said with a smile before stepping in.

As Sora's feet landed on hard ground, his first thoughts were Radiant Garden. The narrow road, the cluttered streets and the tightly packed together houses were all reminiscent of the world. But on closer inspection he knew that wasn't right because it didn't look like Radiant Garden with its newly introduced construction work. Excluding the many people on the street, the place looked much cleaner.

"Wow, now I know we've come to right place. The smell of bread is so uplifting." Luna inhaled and let out a romantic sigh. Sure enough there was the smell of freshly baked dough as well.

"So, where exactly are we? Not your hometown I take it Luna?" Jiminy said also taking the chance to allow the smell of bread to fill his nostrils in the process.

"I'm not really sure. It doesn't really look like the place in my dreams but we've only seen one street so far so maybe?" Luna wasn't yet sure enough to make a judgement but what she was seeing right now was hardly similar to the type of architecture she had seen in her dream. In comparison, a more traditional, gothic design was to be the state of this world.

"Well we're not gonna get any answers standing here. Let's go kupo!" Kupopo said quite excitedly. It did not take long for the group to figure out where they had arrived. A certain commotion moving southwards prompted them to investigate and their ears soon fell upon the mutters of the crowd. Luna was quick to ask one of the members of the crowd what was going on and where they were, of course the latter question received a few curious looks among the passers-by who all seemed to be heading in the same direction.

Luna returned to the group with a smile on her face to report the information given to her. "Apparently we're near a place called Notre-Dame. He said that today was the Feast of Fool's celebration though he went about it in a rather rude way. Maybe we should check it out?"

"And any place with a Feast in it is bound to be good. Oh boy!" Goofy eye's rolled up into space dreamily as he seemed to be thinking about something, more than likely food.

"Earth to Goofy, the feast is that way!" Sora grinned though not even he could deny that the thought of mountains of food piled up on a table was making him drool. After the extremely long wait, the group finally arrived in the town square where a massive gathering was stationed along with various tents scattered about the area. Most impressively however was the giant cathedral which loomed up ahead. It seemed to stand as a beacon of hope and Sora and Luna had to wonder if this was truly the grandest building they had ever seen. Though not as big as Ansem the Wise's castle, there was a certain aura to the building that simply could not have been replicated elsewhere.

The masks and disguises that filled the square were anything but dull. They imbued the very sense of color and seemed to give a picturesque representation of what they seemed to parody. This was only emphasised further by the dancing and singing which took place as each individual sang and danced to their heart's content. Unfortunately, they were to find out that this 'feast' was to contain very little food or tables for that matter.

"I suppose this is what freedom is really like. I mean we get to travel around and see different worlds but these people have to make the most of what's given to them. I suppose being able to sing and dance gives as much freedom as visiting new worlds do." Luna said cheerily over the noise to Sora. "That settles it! I want this journey to be purely full of laughing, dancing and singing while I'm here. That means you too Donald."

"Quack! I'm not your monkey." Donald spluttered almost as if he were just insulted.

"Besides if our journey wasn't full of smiles already I'd be slightly worried." Sora said before something to his left stopped him in his tracks. "Now I've gotta see this, 'If you dare, get your fortune told here'. Who would even fall for this?"

"The same people who take fortune cookies as truth. Trust me, I've met them." Donald said.

"Why don't we get our fortunes told guys? It's just for fun." Luna said moving towards the tent at a quick pace. When Donald abstained and practically dragged Goofy away before he could say yes, Sora and Kupopo followed the brunette haired girl into the tent.

The interior was decorated with jewelled sequins giving of a mysterious vibe to the dark blue material it was hosted on. They certainly have the mood right, that's for sure, Sora thought with amusement. On a small table lay a pack of playing cards, and their owner sitting opposite from them dressed from neck downwards in a blue dress and a jewelled diadem on her head.

"We're here to have our fortune told." Luna announced proudly. Sora and Kupopo exchanged looks at each other not seeing anything proud in what they were doing. The woman told them to sit down with a husky voice and closed her eyes. For a second Sora and Luna had wondered if she had fallen asleep but when her hand moved to her cards unexpectedly, that proved not to be the case.

"The tarot cards will show your fate if you most truly desire them. I have no will over the cards and neither do you. As the oncoming waves are uncontrollable in their direction so are the destinies intertwined within the cards." The fortune teller said.

Sounds like Castle Oblivion all over again, Sora remarked watching as she shuffled the cards before picking six out of the pack and placing them all facedown.

"Ladies first. Your first card if you would Miss." At the fortune teller's word Luna moved in and picked up the one at the top left before revealing it.

"It's a… moon. Is that supposed to mean something?" Luna asked.

"It can mean you have an interesting imagination. You surely then must be a dreamer, but be careful as your imagination can give way to doubt, illusion and even apprehension. Yours is a tricky destiny indeed." The fortune teller revealed.

Well she got one thing right. Wait a minute, is she only talking possibilities? Sora would have scoffed if he weren't polite. Luna was then told to pick two more cards which ended up being the high priestess and finally the wheel of fortune.

"It seems that your fate could go ever way child. Sudden events will force you to make a decision though whether you will succeed or not is not yet clear. One thing I am certain of however is that your intuition and wisdom will certainly be factors in the outcome." The fortune teller said after some pondering.

Well that was useless. We make decisions everyday lady, sorry to tell ya. We just have no idea how that decision will turn out until we see the consequences of it. Sora rolled his eyes and soon enough it was his turn to pick his first card. Carelessly, he picked the bottom middle card and flipped it over to reveal the strength card.

"An impressive start sir. This card shows that with perseverance and determination you have the ability to overcome any trial that awaits you." The fortune teller said.

So why haven't I been able to find the king or Yeul yet? Sora wondered silently. Had he not been determined to find them this whole time? Or was he not determined enough? Sora moved quickly and picked the next two cards revealing them to be The Hanged Man and… Sora froze not courageous enough to throw down this next card. He didn't understand. No, that can't be. This is just a silly fortune telling scheme, don't let them scare you Sora. But even then he could not take his eyes away from the image which represented this card, an χ was to meet his eyes once again.

"Sora, what's wrong?" Luna asked. At the sound of her voice Sora jumped, his knees hitting against the table causing it to topple over, the cards scattering across the floor.

"I am so sorry; I don't know what came over me there." Sora quickly moved to bring the table back up and gather the cards back up. Before doing so, he made it a priority to stash the card with that had frozen him so into his unattended pocket for later viewing. It could hardly have been a coincidence that he had seen the same symbol in two different locations. After stacking the cards back up again Sora barely had time to apologise again before Donald called them from outside of the tent. He did not have to either because they could clearly hear the screams coming from outside. Kupopo was first to leave followed by Sora and Luna who quickly saw what the commotion was about.

"Duck kupo." The moogle warned giving Sora and Luna the prompt drop to the ground just in time to avoid a Darkball Heartless sailing over their heads.

"What are those things?" Luna asked as they got up.

"Heartless… really tough Heartless. I haven't seen these things in ages." Sora got up quickly and blasted a hole straight through one of them before jumping and smashing his Keyblade down onto another's head. As another one moved towards Luna she flicked her Keyblade upwards to create an icicle from the ground which impaled the oncoming Heartless and took it out. Quickly she got up and cut through the icicle using Aeroga to send it hurtling in the direction of two other Darkballs. The ice cut through them and split them in half before they disintegrated into nothingness. Donald and Goofy covered each other's backs combining shield and magic attacks to take out their own group. The last remaining Darkball raced towards Luna in an attempt to chomp her but she jumped into the air and Storm Dived, her Keyblade touching the ground and emitting sparks which zapped the Darkball and vanquished it.

"This training is really paying off. And they were supposed to be tough?" Luna twisted and twirled Dream Seeker back and forth in her hand.

"Don't get too excited. Remember that if you get too cocky and let your guard down for even one second then the Heartless will take advantage. They might not have instincts, but they are definitely ruthless." Sora said with some master-like wisdom, though he couldn't help but feel proud all the same. The interruptions would not end there however, as Judge Frollo appeared in front of them curious and suspicious, though as they had never met the man before, at that moment they were wondering why this man was staring down at them like they were a pack of hoodlums. The answer turned out that that was exactly what he thought of them.

"You four, who exactly are you? I don't recall seeing your like around here before." He asked glaring daggers at them.

"'Your like'?" Donald repeated in annoyance.

"We were just here for the feast. Then we saw those Heartless and-"


"Oops, sorry-"

"So that's what they are called? Heartless. They've descended upon the streets of Paris like a plague and I fear their actions are no doubt due to the increasing migration of those gypsies. You wouldn't happen to be among them would you?" Frollo asked.

Sora exchanged questioning glances with Luna before replying, "I'm not exactly sure what a gypsy is but what makes you think we are one?"

Frollo frowned before addressing their attire. "For one you dress like a bunch of travellers or perhaps a band of stumbling monkeys. You also happen to possess what appears to be very dark magic and unless you are able to answer how you came into possession of such abilities then I will have you arrested on the spot. Captain Phoebus?"

Appearing next to him quickly was one of the guards standing by a carriage which no doubt belonged to Frollo. He seemed a bit more important than the other guards behind him, sporting gold armor and a blue cape to the other guards' red. "Is something wrong Judge Frollo?"

"Woah, wait a second. We just saved everyone's lives and you want to arrest us?" Sora asked in disbelief.

"Arrest… them? But sir, they're just kids and they did as they say, help us in taking out those creatures. They seem like a safe bunch in my eyes." The captain confided.

"Captain I do not pay you to give your opinions. That said I suppose I can allow them a chance given you keep a watchful eye on them." Frollo said.

"I can do that sir, even if you don't actually pay me whatsoever but…" Phoebus' voice fell into a mumble and he shrugged before looking around, "So is the feast continuing then as scheduled?"

"Let the people have their fun." Were Frollo's kind, and that was being incredibly generous, words before returning to his carriage.

"Hey," Goofy said to Phoebus after Frollo had become completely obscured by his vehicle, "Thank ya kindly for helpin' us and all. I'm Goofy, he's Donald, and then we have Sora, Luna and Kupopo." He introduced gesturing towards each of them.

Phoebus nodded with a smile, "My, well aren't you truly a weird bunch? Don't mind Frollo though, as scary as he may be you redirect the conversation towards gypsies and he starts getting of your hide and onto a completely different matter."

"Yeah, what was up with that by the way? He seemed to really detest these gypsies. Are there a lot of them around here?" Luna enquired.

"Yes, especially on this day. The Feast of Fools is a breeding ground for travellers because they can do what they do best, make fun of the rich folk and all the hierarchy. Frollo doesn't really want to be here but he has no choice, public perception and all." Phoebus explained before looking around. "Since the crowd will be converging upon the square soon and all, why don't I show you the cathedral in the meantime? The outside may amaze you, but the inside… well, let's just say that she's a beauty."

"I have been interested in that for a while now actually. Beats the fortune teller any day anyway, sure we'll come along." Sora said quickly remembering that he needed to show the card to the others at some point. In the other pocket, he could feel the cube shaped puzzle box sticking out. Tucking it in promptly, he made to follow after the Captain and his friends to the cathedral.