Chapter 6: Ruins

Enter Pax:

After the light faded and our eyes adjusted, we found ourselves in the musty hallway of what appeared to be an ancient fortress. The air was thick with the smell of age and the walls were lined with faded images.

"This must be the place!" I said, making my sword vanish. Apparently, that was the ONLY source of light in the ruins, because as soon as the sword vanished, we were left in the dark.

"Okay, keeping the sword out then," I verbally thought, summoning the blade once again and allowing it to fill the otherwise dark hall with light.

"I can feel the Keyhole's energy just ahead…" Tippi said, flying forward. "We just need to head deeper in."

"Hang on!" Goombella said, sitting down. "Before we do anything else, I have to take care of this sand in my shoes before I go crazy."

"Can't it wait?" asked Tippi as Goombella kicked off her shoes, dumping practically half the desert from them.

"You don't have feet, so you wouldn't understand," Goombella retorted. Tippi sighed in defeat as Mario and I, taking a leaf out of Goombella's book, started dumping sand out of our clothes.

"So Tippi, I was wondering…" I asked as I tugged the front of my shirt, sending sand out and leaving my torso much less itchy. "What ideals are you made of?"

"P-pardon?" Tippi asked nervously.

"Pixls are made of thoughts and ideals, right?" I clarified. "And you're a Pixl, right?"

"…" Tippi looked down at the floor.

"And why did Thoreau turn himself into a Keychain, but you stay a Pixl?" I asked, honestly curious. "Is it because you're a different 'type' of Pixl? Do they come in different breeds, or-"

"I'd rather not talk about it, okay?!" Tippi snapped, her voice echoing in the halls. All three of us looked at her in surprise. This was the very first time Tippi had EVER raised her voice.

"I… sorry…" Tippi said, her voice practically a whisper as she backed against the wall. "I just… I don't…"

"No, I mean… hey, I'm sorry," I replied sheepishly. "I didn't know it was a touchy subject. If you don't want to talk about it, I won't make you talk about it."

"…" Tippi actually made a sort of whimpering sound before flying back under Mario's hat to hide.

"Smooth move, cowboy," Goombella said sarcastically as she slipped her shoes back on.

"Hey, I didn't know that would be such a touchy subject!" I defended. "I was just asking some questions!"

"Has it ever occurred to you to, I don't know, process how the questions sound in your head before you spit them out?" Goombella asked as she walked ahead into the hall. "Just a suggestion."

"Hey, I filter!" I said. "…somewhat. The point is, what I asked didn't seem all that offensive in my head!"

"How about out loud?"


Mario gave an inaudible sigh as he followed behind us.

Enter Dimentio:

I knelt in silence next to O'Chunks. We were sitting inside of a Corridor of Darkness, in between the Dream and the Void. The Darkness, acting under my command, was filling the inside of O'Chunks' body and repairing his injuries from the inside-out.

"Oh…" O'Chunks stirred, his eyes blinking open. "Wha… Dimentio?"

"The one and only," I said with a mock bow.

"But… I don't understand," O'Chunks felt his torso, still ripped open but filled with Darkness. "That hit shoulda killed me right there."

"Why do you think I was sent with you?" I asked him. "The Dream Keeper is immensely powerful. The Count needed me to make sure he didn't kill you."

"Oh, the Count!" groaned O'Chunks, covering his face with his hands. "He's gonna be FURIOUS with me for failin' him!"

"Hey, don't worry," I said soothingly, placing a hand on his shoulder. "The Lord of Nightmares still has use for you. Your punishment won't be too terribly severe."

"Are… are ye sure?" O'Chunks asked nervously.

"Mhm!" I nodded, smirking under my mask where he couldn't see me. "I just need you to do me a favor in return, though."

"Oh yea? What's that?"

"Open yourself up a little." I nodded to the tear in his torso that Darkness was now trickling out of. "Your body is naturally resisting the Darkness. If you open yourself up a little more, I can repair your wounds more quickly."

"But… won't the Darkness corrupt me?" O'Chunks gulped nervously. I let out an overly dramatic sigh.

"You don't have a Soul to corrupt, remember?" I asked. He looked away from me, hurt filling his eyes.

"Well… alright, if ya say so…" O'Chunks said with a defeated tone. With a smirk, I shoved my hands deep into his open wound, the Darkness trailing up my arms. O'Chunks gasped as his eyes rolled back into his head. I could feel his power begin to flow into me, but… wait… what was…

It had been awhile since I last came to me home. I had almost forgotten the three story house, with fields of onions stretching as far as the eye could see. The sun had already begun settin' when I arrived, me personal belongin's hangin' on me back. The silhouette of me wee sister swingin' on the old tire swing I used to play with in me youth stood out on the horizon.

"Hoy there, lassie!" I called out with a wave. Her wee face spun toward me 'afore she leapt from her swing ran right at me, chargin' like an enemy soldier.

"Conall!" she squee'd in delight as she tackled me straight in the gut, wrappin' her arms 'round me like a deadly squid. I grunted and quite nearly fell on me bum from the force of her tackle, she was so eager!

"I see someone's been workin' on her tackles!" I laughed, huggin' the wee lass after regaining me balance.

"I wanted to give ya somethin' worth rememberin' when you came home!" She peeled her face off my torso and grinned up at me. "How's the War comin' along, brother?"

My smile faltered, and she saw it.

"Aw… forget it!" she tried to keep me upbeat as she jumped off me, taking me by the hand. "We can talk about War later. Fer now, Mum and Dad are waitin' for ya!"

"Aye… I bet they are," I agreed, forcing a smile back on my face.

"They had the servants make a HUGE feast, just for ye!" she continued as she led me to the house by the hand. "Fredrik's boastin' about how he could eat the lot of it all by 'imself, the pig!"

"Fredrik hasn't changed a bit, has he?" I laughed.

We kept talkin' all the way back into the house. For the first time in a while, I felt at peace…

"GAH!" I pulled my hands out of him and jumped back, panting and gripping my head. Images flashed in my mind's eye, but they settled down into the back of my mind quick enough.

"Wh… what was all THAT now?" Conall-what? N-no, O'Chunks said, not Conall.

"I… it was nothing," I shook my head, kneeling next to him and putting a hand over his forehead. "Just an after effect of the Darkness healing you. Just… rest."

As I said this, I pooled a haze of dark mist around his face. O'Chunks' breath became deeper as his eyes closed, falling unconscious. I stood up and waved my hand. The Darkness picked O'Chunks up and carried him down the Corridor back into the Void.

What WAS that I saw? I was taking his power, not his memories. At least… I THINK that's what I was doing. My powers have this nasty habit of surprising even myself sometimes.

"Well… no matter," I said to myself, turning the other way and holding my hand out, opening a door back into the Dream. "There's still that pesky matter of the Dream Keeper that needs to be taken care of."

Kicking off from the ground, I floated through back into the Dream.

Enter Pax:

A bright light at the top of the stairs we were climbing nearly blinded us from the stark contrast of the dim lighting provided by the Sword of Dreams.

"Hey… I think that's the SUN," I said, squinting up at the light ahead. "OW! EYES! Yeah, that's DEFINITELY the sun!"

"We must have found the exit," Goombella reasoned, keeping her eyes squinted. "Maybe we should turn back and keep looking for the Keyhole."

"Wait," I said, blinking rapidly to bring my sight back. "We were brought to the entrance of the ruins when I stabbed the Sword into the pillar. At least, I think it was the entrance… either way, we should at least check this out before we write it off and backtrack."

"…point," Goombella agreed as we reached the top. We were back in the desert again, but… something was different. Earlier, the desert at least had points of interest, like an occasional palm tree or cactus. But here… the desert was void of anything and completely flat, like some massive battle field. I was about to point this out when a strange noise came from behind, like stone grinding against stone. We all turned to see a panel slide over the stairwell, effectively locking us out.

"…well," I finally said. "THAT'S sure as heck not a good sign."

"Not a good… gee, you THINK?" Goombella retorted. I opened my mouth to say something witty in return when we were interrupted by a massive vibration going through the desert. From the sand emerged a MASSIVE robotic dragon-like creature. Said creature looked down at us with its purple, electronic eyes.

"Intruder detected," it said in a tinny monotone. "Leave immediately or be purged."

"Uh, wait!" I said, holding up my hands. "You have it all wrong, dude! We're just here for the Keyhole!"

"Noted: Intruders admit fault," the dragon continued. "Keyhole must be protected. To protect Keyhole, area must be guarded from intruders. Likely intruders include, but are not limited to: Bored teenagers, treasure hunters, Nightmares, and/or any being who wish to gain unauthorized access to the Keyhole. Observation indicates organic beings match 3.5 of the above listed possibilities. This indicates a 98.38% chance of organic beings being intruders. Intruders must be purged. Ergo, organic beings must be purged."

"Okay, I am an archeologist, NOT a treasure hunter!" Goombella retorted, sounding honestly insulted. "I cannot tell you how many people get that wrong on a near daily basis!"

"Wait!" I said, showing off the Sword of Dreams. "Look, I'm the Dream Keeper! Merlin sent me here to get the Pure Heart!"

The dragon leaned in closer, eyeing me up and down.

"Scan initialized," it said. "Sword of Dreams detected. Soul of Light detected. Alert, Nightmare detected. Elaborate."

"Oh, this?" I wiggled my Nightmare Claw. "I have a Nightmare inside of me. He's kind of fused with my being, but don't worry, he has a Soul."

"Does not compute," the Dragon argued. "No information is available on Nightmares with Souls."

"He borrowed a piece of mine, do you have any data on THAT?" I asked.

"No," the Dragon said bluntly. "However, you still possess the Sword of Dreams. The Sword of Dreams only allows itself to be wielded by the Dream Keeper. Ergo, you are the Dream Keeper."

The Dragon backed up a bit. "Forgive me, Dream Keeper. I must run an in depth analysis on every organic life form that attempts to gain access to the Keyhole."

"I understand," I shrugged. "You can stop calling me Dream Keeper, though. My name's Pax, and this is Goombella and Mario."

"I'm still miffed about that whole treasure hunter stab!" Goombella stuck her tongue out at the Dragon.

"I deeply apologize for my misclassification," the Dragon replied. "Thank you for the input, Pax. I am called Fracktail. My only purpose is to defend the Keyhole from lawless intruders."

"Hang on, back up a minute," I said. "You're a massive, powerful Dragon… and the Dreamers only use you as a bodyguard?"

"Correct," Fracktail answered.

"You realize they're fighting a war against Nightmares, right?" I asked. "Wouldn't it help to sick a giant robot dragon on an army of Nightmares? Just a thought."

"I was not programmed for prolonged or intense battles," Fracktail answered. "Also, I draw power from the Keyhole hidden below. Distance from it will drain my power and I will, eventually, become useless."

"Oh," I blinked. "Well… alright, I suppose that makes sense."

"At any rate, you may pass," Fracktail continued. "The Keyhole is just up ahead."

"Sweet!" I laughed, turning to Goombella. "See, Goombella? I told you this was a good place to check out!"

"Okay, I admit, I was wrong," Goombella rolled her eyes, smirking. "Bask in it now, hero, because it's not going to be a common occurrence."

"Now wait just a second."

This voice came from behind us. We turned around to see a Dark Portal open, and from it emerged a young… man, I think? I dunno, his face was hidden by a really creepy black and white smiling mask. He wore a jester's outfit, and his mere presence seemed to emanate an aura of… I really couldn't put my finger on it. Something about him just seemed… WRONG.

"Who are you?" I asked, gripping the handle of my sword tighter.

"You may call me Dimentio, at your service," he said in mock politeness, bowing to us. "Don't bother introducing yourselves, I already know you."

He pointed to Mario. "You are the Chosen One, as foretold in the prophecy. My, how things do tend to center around you, don't they? I hope you don't feel left out, not being the REAL hero this time."

Mario scowled at Dimentio, pulling his hammer out.

"You're obviously the Dream Keeper," Dimentio continued, pointing to me. "I hope this first REAL mission of yours won't be too strenuous. I, of all people, would absolutely loathe to see you crack under pressure."

The hair on the back of my neck stood up as he said this.

"And you… um…" Dimentio stared at Goombella. "…well, we all need a groupie now, don't we?"

"Oh that's it, you are SO DEAD!" Goombella marched toward Dimentio, looking ready to beat him into dust. With a bored wave, a blast of Darkness erupted from thin air and hit Goombella, launching her back.

"GOOMBELLA!" I ran to her side, making sure she was okay.

"Stars, that stung…" she muttered, sitting up. "Pax, I'm fine. Do me a favor, though, and teach that punk a lesson!"

I nodded and turned around…

…to find nobody standing there.

"Wha… where did he go?" I asked. Mario, who was looking around in confusion, simply turned to me and shrugged.

"Up here, gentlemen and lady!"

We turned our heads up to see Dimentio floating next to Fracktail's head.

"Evacuate the proximity immediately or-" started Fracktail, but it was cut off when Dimentio snapped his fingers. Darkness pooled into Fracktail's body, gathering to the antenna it had on its head. Electricity crackled across its body as its eyes started spinning uncontrollably.

"It would just be so BORING if your journey ended here, wouldn't it?" Dimentio asked, turning his head down to us. "You play nice now, alright?"

With a final wave, Dimentio vanished into shadows.

"Get back here you-" I started.

"Uh, Pax?!" Goombella called out, standing back up. "I think we have bigger problems right now!"

I turned my head to see Fracktail's body stand up and rigid, its head staring straight ahead while its eyes continued to spin.

"Beeeeeeeeeeeeep," it said. It didn't make a tone, it just SAID beep. "I am error. Press any key to restart."

The three of us looked between each other in confusion, Mario walking back to my side.

"System not found," Fracktail continued. "Insert install disc. Disc not found. Please confirm disc cover is closed. Read error. Insert boot disc and press enter."

"Does anybody see a drive we could even insert anything into?" I asked. Mario shook his head.

"No response. System may be busy or melting into slag."

I snickered.

"Pax!" Goombella glared.

"What? That was funny!"

"Application error. Save your work and quit. You lost everything. Way to go, genius."

This time, Goombella snickered with me.

"Okay, I admit, THAT one was good," she said.

"Waiting for processors. '404 computer hamsters not found.'"

"Wait," I held up my hand. "404 what now?"

"Threat level upgraded to jelly roll 1. Detonation Imminent."

"Yeeeeeeah, he's broken," I said.

"Gee, what was your first clue?" Goombella retorted. Fracktail, meanwhile, slowly turned its head to the side before bringing it down, glaring right at us.

"Beebleblip!" it said, snapping his head as if twitching. "C:/ run query identification. C:/ run insult generator. C:/ results: go away yeti-lip!"

Mario huffed and rubbed his mustache.

"CTRL ALT DEL!" Fracktail finished before roaring, flying into the sky. The three of us stood in battle positions.

"Tippi, you there?" I asked, looking at Mario. Silence was my only reply.

"…Tippi?" I called again as Mario took his hat off. "You okay?"

"Huh…?" Tippi slowly fluttered into the air. "Oh… I'm sorry, I must have dozed off there. What did I miss?"

"Before or after the creepy kid made the Robotic Dragon go crazy and attack us?" Goombella asked sarcastically. Tippi looked up at Fracktail, circling the air.

"Oh," she said. "…oh! OH! Right, information!"

"And quickly, please!" I added. "It looks like it's about to crash toward us!"

"I'll have to get in closer, try not to get hit!" Tippi said as she flew toward Fracktail.

"THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!" Goombella called after her. I bent my knees, preparing to jump as I waited for Fracktail to get closer… and closer… and-

"JUMP, NOW!" I shouted as I tossed the Sword of Dreams right at Fracktail's face. I rolled out of the way, along with Goombella and Mario. Fracktail was too close to the ground to turn and try to hit us, so it fell through the land, launching up a column to eventually fall on us.

"Ow, eyes!" I said, rubbing my eyes with my hand. Tippi flew back to us as we re-grouped, keeping our eyes on the ground.

"Your sword did nothing against it," Tippi informed me.

"Great," I sighed, re-summoning the blade in my hand. "What did you learn?"

"I found the Dragon is immune to most damage that you could deliver in every location on his body, save the antenna," Tippi replied. "Getting onto his body to reach the antenna, however, is another matter altogether."

"We'll figure something out," I assured her. Tippi suddenly gasped, looking at the sand.

"IT'S ABOUT TO CHARGE!" she warned us.

"…Goombella, let me hold you," I said, an idea forming in my head as I attached Thoreau to the sword, turning it into a Keyblade. She didn't hesitate as she jumped into my left arm.

"Which direction is it coming from?" I asked Tippi. She was about to answer when the sand broke behind us. Mario and I turned at the same time, seeing Fracktail charge at us like a freight train.

Mario held out his arms and vanished, I assumed he was flipping. I ran right at Fracktail, clenching my fingers around the handle of the Keyblade. As the distance between us closed, I kicked off from the ground and focused on myself, swinging the Keyblade. I managed to hold MYSELF with the Telekinetic powers of my weapon and launch myself higher, avoiding Fracktail's charge. As he rose back into the air, I touched down on his back, digging my Nightmare claw into it to make sure my arm was hooked and secured around Goombella.

"I don't know if that was the stupidest or most awesome thing you have ever done!" Goombella shouted over the sound of wind blasting in our ears.

"Hey, it WORKED, didn't it?" I replied, smiling at her. In front of us, space distorted as Mario "flipped" back into our Dimension. He was apparently not expecting the wind, so he was blasted back and almost fell off Fracktail before I held out the Keyblade to steady him. He eventually found his footing and clung to Fracktail's back.

"Now the hard part…" I muttered, looking ahead to the Antenna on Fracktail's skull. In reality, it was only about twenty yards away. To someone hanging onto the back of a flying dragon, however, it might as well have been a mile.

"Why don't you throw Mario at the antenna?" Goombella asked, making him look at her as if asking "are you insane?!"

"It doesn't work that way!" I shook my head. "Fracktail is moving forward way too fast! The best I can do with Telekinesis is keep us on the back by making us 'stay still,' and even that's because I'm trying to make us move forward at the same speed as Fracktail's going! And THAT'S not even accounting for any sudden twists or-"

"OKAY, I get it," Goombella interrupted. "Tossing is out, then."

Mario breathed a silent sigh of relief.

"What about Coron?" Goombella pointed out. "He'd be able to run forward without any problems!"

"He's still not fully recovered from his fight with O'Chunks!" I shook my head. "He might say otherwise, but he's not even strong enough to project his image in my vision. If he can't do that, I'm not going to throw him into the boiling pot like this!"

"Then WHAT do we do?" Goombella asked. I was silent for a moment before I dispelled the Keyblade, reaching my right arm forward and gripping at a bump in his back. Once I was sure I had a firm grip, I dislodged my claw and, still holding Goombella tight with my arm, pulled myself forward with my right arm, where upon I dug my claw back into the back, now a whole half a foot forward. Seeing my progression, Mario tried doing the same. He had to make much smaller climbs forward, but he was able to do it more frequently, so we both kept pace with each other.

We were doing well until Fracktail apparently caught wind of what we were trying and turned upward, flipping completely upside down. My face went red as I tried to hold onto the back as hard as I could, but my puny toothpick arms couldn't take it. My claw stayed lodged into the back, but my right arm fell off, leaving me dangling. Goombella screamed as she started to fall, but I managed to catch her just in time in my right arm, hugging her close to my torso. Mario started to fall too, but with the summoning of my Keyblade, I kept him flying at Fracktail's pace a little below us.

"…wait a second!" Goombella said, looking around. "Pax! Mario! I think I have an idea!"

"Please share!" I begged, trying my hardest not to look down.

"When Fracktail flipped upside down, his head turned upward," Goombella said. "Which makes sense, the body would flow easier that way."

"That's really cool, but I don't see how that's going to help us!" I said.

"When Fracktail turns around again, he's going to turn his head 'up,' which would be our down!" Goombella explained. "Which means for a very brief window of opportunity, his head will be directly below us! If you time it JUST right, you can drop Mario right on his Antenna!"

"PLEASE tell me you know the right timing!" I asked her. Mario's face said practically the same thing.

"I could calculate exactly where a sword would ricochet off in a chamber to hit a chandelier, I can calculate this!" Goombella pointed out.

"…alright," I nodded. "I trust you, Goombella!"

"Just throw him down on my mark!" Goombella said, watching Fracktail's head. "You'll have to toss him slightly to your right, but based on how you're holding me, you'll get it right if you just flick your arm down in what seems to be the most natural way to you!"

"Got it!" I nodded. Mario silently gripped his hammer in his hands and if I didn't know better, I'd think he was praying. Eventually, Goombella's prediction came true, and Fracktail started to turn right side-up. Her eyes were darting all over the place, her brain working overtime.

"NOW!" she suddenly barked. I flicked my arm as Goombella suggested, causing Mario to fly downward, hammer in hand. Of course, by flicking my arm like this, I dropped Goombella, who began her decent toward the ground.


Of course, Goombella's calculations were right on the money: Mario's hammer slammed right into the antenna, shattering it to pieces. Fracktail gave an earth shattering roar as his body broke apart into pieces, explosions blasting from all over. I released my grip on his back and fell, catching Mario with the Keyblade's powers and lining him up to fall with me. I managed to do the same with Goombella, the three of us falling together in a triangle.

"LOOK OUT!" screamed Goombella, looking straight up. I turned around in time to see a boulder sized segment of Fracktail fly straight toward us. I pointed my Keyblade straight up, slowing the segment's speed down considerably so it would match our falling speed. I turned in the air and planted my feet on the segment, digging my claw in for extra support.

"GRAB ON!" I cried out to my friends. Mario wrapped his arm around Goombella with his left arm and around my torso with his right. I turned the segment around so that we were on top. I looked over the edge to see plenty of other segments falling to the ground, essentially acting as obstacles.

"THIS IS GONNA BE A BUMPY RIDE!" I called out. I honestly couldn't tell if Goombella said "joy" or "eep" but either way I kept my focus on the segment, maneuvering it around the other segments in its decent to the ground. We had a couple of close calls, but we managed to get through in one piece.

Once we were close enough to the ground, I slowed our decent considerably, allowing the segment to gently touch down on the sand. Once we hit solid ground, I dislodged my claw from the segment and the three of us slid off, panting heavily and leaning our backs against the segment for support.

"…we're still alive," Goombella finally said, her voice shaking from the burst of adrenalin. Without warning, I grabbed her face and planted a deep kiss right on her lips. Mario coughed and looked the other direction.

"Um… uh…" Goombella blinked hard, her face burning red. "N-not that I didn't enjoy that Pax, b-but… um, what was that?"

"A 'hooray we're still alive' kiss," I smiled. "I figured the situation called for it."

"I knew there was a reason I loved you beside the good looks," Goombella said in a teasing voice, nuzzling up to my chest. I wrapped my arms around her and closed my eyes, happy to have her body pressing against mine.


We broke from our embrace to see Tippi fly toward us, seeming seriously worried.

"We're fine, Tippi," I waved. "A little shaken, but fine."

"Oh thank… that was…" Tippi panted.

"You weren't even IN the fight and you sound flustered!" Goombella laughed.

"I was… I was worried, alright?" Tippi panted, landing on Mario's hat.

"It's fine," I shrugged off, standing myself up. "Now all that's left to do is get to that Keyhole."

"Bzzzzzt…" We turned our heads to see the disembodied head of Fracktail laying on the ground, his eyes turned to static. "Worthiness levels satisfactory… opening path to Keyhole… this unit has suffered major malfunctions… cannot continue to oper…"

His eyes went black as nearby, the sand parted to show a stairwell leading down.

"…he was a good robot," I eventually said as Goombella and Mario stood next to me. "Too bad Dimentio had to screw him up, though."

"Agreed," Goombella nodded. Together, the three of us descended the stairwell into the Keyhole's chamber. This chamber didn't really feel as old as it did ancient, if that makes any sense. The air still smelled new, but it had this aura of power you just don't feel in new things. The walls were painted with a very pretty blue, and marble pillars lined the way to the end of the hall. At the end sat the ghostly figure of a young woman.

"Ah… Dream Keeper," she said, floating toward me. "And not just any Dream Keeper either, but the one of legend… it's so nice to finally see you with my own two eyes."

"Um… thanks?" I rubbed the back of my head. "Mind if I ask who you are?"

"I am one of the seven Dream Guardians of Old," she explained. "My name is Merlumina."

"Um… just a second," I stopped her. "I've heard that a few times, but… what is a Dream Guardian, if you don't mind me asking?"

She laughed lightly. "Your kind would hold us akin to Gods. Dream Guardians are either the creators or the protectors of a Dream… and I am one of the seven who wrote the Legend you are living now."

"Yeah, about that legend-" I started.

"I'll explain," Merlumina said calmly. "Just be patient."

She slowly paced down the hall, the three of us walking alongside her. "Thousands of years ago, after a powerful Dream Keeper helped the Dreamers recover from the disaster that was the Keyblade War, Merlin asked seven of us for a personal favor. Destroying the weapon the Forsaken Dreamers were building, Merlin took the Hearts of Worlds they collected, known as the Purity Heart, and gave it to us to fuse our minds into. His hope was that the newfound knowledge and wisdom it gave us would allow us to advice them how to rebuild the Dreamers and prevent a disaster like this from happening again."

"Apparently, it worked," Goombella noted.

"Yes, it did," Merlumina nodded. "But it had an unintended side effect… we were granted with God-like knowledge, complete omnipotence. None of us remember the event, but the Dreamers assure that we foretold a prophecy."

She stopped in front of a large mural on the wall. She pointed to each segment as she recited:

"Through the actions of the wicked, a Light will be banished.
And, in his attempt to save the Light,
The Darkness will create the Nothing,
And this Nothing will reign as the Lord of Nightmares."

"…" Tippi silently slid back under Mario's hat.

"As the Nightmares raise in power,
And the Dreamers feel overwhelmed,
A Dream Keeper will be chosen
To turn the tides of Fate."

"I guess that's me…" I muttered.

"As the seven Dream Guardians of Fate
Are captured, and their power stolen by the Beast,
The Dream Keeper will possess the Chosen One,
And through him, rescue the Dream."

"Seven Dream… the Star Spirits!" I snapped my fingers. "My first adventure! So that would make Bowser the Beast, and Mario the Chosen One!"

"That would explain why Mario keeps being called the Chosen One," Goombella noted.

"The Angel will cause nothing but grief
In the heart of the Dream Keeper.
But, the action she inspires him to take
Will prove him of his title."

"The Angel… Bombette?" I asked. "She was great, but I wouldn't exactly call her an angel."

"What action did she inspire you to take?" Goombella asked.

"…the Limit Break!" I smacked my head. "That must have been the big sign the Dreamers needed to see that I really was the Dream Keeper this prophecy is talking about!"

"The Folly of the predecessor
Will be the Dream Keeper's final test.
The Key will meet him at the door,
And there, he will wield the blade."

"I have NO idea what this whole 'folly of the predecessor' business means, but the rest of it must be talking about how I got the Crystal Sword," I reasoned.

"On the other side of the door,
The Fallen One will take the Innocence's body,
And with it, she will slay the Dream Keeper,
So his full power may be unlocked."

"Well, only one person managed to kill me," I shrugged. "So the Shadow Queen is the Fallen One, and Peach is the Innocence."

"In the forced union of Innocence and Beast,
A Heart of Chaos will be born.
With this Heart, the Keyhole will open,
Allowing the Void to escape."

"And now we're caught up with the present," Goombella said. "We've established Peach is Innocence and Bowser is Beast, so… ew, Bowser forced Peach to marry him?"

"I guess the universe itself was so grossed out by this idea, it churned out this 'Heart of Chaos' to let the Void escape from …," I guessed.

"When the Void appears and Dreams are devoured,
The Chosen One, the Innocence, the Beast and the Man in Green
Will stand behind the Dream Keeper as they face
The Nothing in the Void."

"So you, Mario, Peach, Bowser and Luigi are going to team up to take the Lord of Nightmares down," Goombella said.

"I'm glad I'm not the only one who caught that whole 'Man in Green' thing," I laughed. "Hear that, Mario? Guess that means Luigi will be joining us at some point!"

Mario sighed, his body language saying something along the lines of "oh this is going to be a headache."

"The Void will be powerful, unmatched by any
Save the power of the Purity Heart.
These Eight shards, scattered across worlds,
Will infuse the Dream Keeper with their might."

"That would explain why we need to travel across these worlds to collect the Pure Hearts," Goombella nodded.

"Hey, wait a minute!" I realized. "Why the heck did you break the Purity Heart apart in the first place? If you kept it all together, I would have been able to take it all in one shot and wipe out the Void quickly!"

"Isn't it obvious?" Goombella asked. "The Purity Heart is an incredibly powerful artifact, by what I've gathered. If all that power was in one place, it's all too likely there would have been another Keyblade War."

"…good point," I nodded.

"In the end, the Nothing will prove to be
The bane of existence itself.
The Nothing must be slain,
Else the World, both Waking and Dreaming, fall."

"But, you know, no pressure," I added with a nervous laugh.

"This Legend of the Dream Keeper has haunted us for millennia," Merlumia said, turning back to us. "The seven Dream Guardians that foretold this prophecy took one of the eight Pure Hearts and hid them within our own Worlds, leaving the eighth to Merlin to protect himself. Now that you are here, though…"

She turned and held out her hand, focusing. Light built on the wall at the end of the hall, and in a moment, the Keyhole appeared.

"…take the Pure Heart," she finished, stepping to the side.

"With pleasure!" I said, summoning the Keyblade and swapping out Thoreau with the Kingdom Key.

"Uh… does it really matter WHAT Keyblade you use, so long as you get the Pure Heart?" Goombella asked.

"Not really," I shrugged. "I just feel like this fits better."

With that said, I jumped back and swung the Keyblade over my head, bringing it down to point right at the Keyhole. Light built up at the tip, and it shot forward into the Keyhole. There was a click, and the Keyhole vanished as a Pure Heart floated out. It touched the tip of my Keyblade, absorbing itself into it.

"Alright!" I detached the keychain, turning it back into the Sword of Dreams. "Two down, six to go!"

"We'd better return to Flipside…" Tippi said quietly.

"Of course, we need to rest and restock," I nodded in agreement, slashing the Sword of Dreams through the air. A doorway of light appeared, leading back to Merlin's world.

"Good luck, Dream Keeper…" Merlumia waved. "All worlds are resting on your shoulders."

"…again: No pressure," I gulped, stepping through the doorway with my friends, heading back to Flipside for some much needed R&R.