Zuko and Jim split from their hug, and Zuko wiped away a few strays tears from his cheeks.
"I'm sorry," Zuko apologized. "I didn't mean to do that. That was probably awkward."
"Hey man, don't sweat it," Jim said, waving away the problem, " You're my friend. That's what I'm here for."
"Heh, I guess so," Zuko said with a smile.
Jim was about to respond, however, the sudden roar of the oncoming rebels interrupted him.
"What the Hell?" Jim said aloud.
Before either young man could take a step to investigate, something peculiar flew into view. Its golden light shimmered and sparkled, leaving a trail of fire burning behind it. It looked a lot like a small comet of sorts. The golden projectile began to swirl around Jim and Zuko, creating several rings of blazing fire around them. Up close now, Jim could see that the projectile was a golden scarab beetle. Zuko attempted to bend the fire away from them, but to no avail. Though the energy surrounding them looked like fire, it was inherently different, and, as a result, unbendable. When the golden beetle completed its circle around the Key Bearer and the Fire Lord, the scarab took a nosedive into the center of the rings. It shot down in between Jim and Zuko, crashing into the ground at their feet. As it did, an explosion of that same fire-like energy expanded and engulfed the two young men. A blinding white light was all that Jim could see.
Suki, Ty Lee, and four other Kyoshi Warriors made their way into the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se, taking advantage of the underground catacombs that ran beneath the city in order to bypass the main army. This area was run down and economically poor. Compared to the other rings, the Lower Ring was actually relatively quiet right now. Most of the area was deserted. Suki figured that most of the people must've been either off with the revolution or hiding in their homes terrified. She stopped her team short when she heard the sound of men speaking. From the sound of it, it sounded like they were just around the corner.
Suki turned around to face her team. "Alright. There's men up ahead. Ty Lee can you-"
"Scout ahead?" Ty Lee said, finishing Suki's sentence. "I'm on it!"
With a series of extravagant flips and jumps, Ty Lee disappeared off into the alley way for a couple of minutes. She then cartwheeled back out of the alley and walked on her hands over to the group.
"There's six men," Ty Lee explained. "One big ugly guy with two hammers and five soldiers. They're all sitting around the Firelight Fountain in the plaza."
"Alright, girls," Suki began, "Here's the plan..."
Gow picked at his teeth as he sat on the edge of the fountain. Just his luck: Long Feng's top general and he's put in charge of keeping things together in the Lower Ring. He wanted some real action, not this piss ant job with nothing of real value to do. Meanwhile, the two freak shows Long Feng kept around were getting to lead the charge. He wanted to spill some blood, not supervise already captured territory. Just as he pulled a nasty glob of what looked like chicken skin out of his back teeth, a girl dressed in a long green dress with red and white face paint walked into the plaza.
"Hey, you lost, girly?" Gow grunted, standing up. "If you ain't willing to fight for us, I can think of other ways you can service Long Feng's rebellion."
The general loosened his belt slightly to drive home his meaning.
"I don't think so," Suki spoke up. "I'm actually here to take you down."
Gow burst out laughing at her words. "You? Take me down? Like Hell you are! You're just a weak little girl. Now, do you like it rough or really rough?"
Suki walked over to Gow, swaying her hips back and forth in a slightly provocatively way.
"Well," she said. "I like it..."
With one swift motion, Suki folded up her fan, and delivered a powerful jab with the blunt weapon in the area between Gow's legs, causing the general to double over in pain, cursing. With him momentarily stunned, Suki spun around and delivered a round house kick to Gow's jaw, sending two yellow teeth tumbling out of his mouth and causing him to fall to the ground.
"...Really rough," Suki quipped with a smirk.
The other peasant soldiers rushed to help their commanding officer, but each one suddenly found their paths' blocked by a similarly dressed woman. Gow spat out a glob of blood onto the concrete, and looked up at Suki with a bloody, snaggle-toothed scowl.
"I'm gonna fuckin' kill you, you little bitch!" he growled angrily.
With a swipe of his hand, he sent a wave of Earthbending to knock Suki off her feet. However, the young woman was expertly trained; she jumped out of the way, avoiding the brunt of the attack. She staggered a bit but kept her footing upon landing. By now, Gow had reclaimed his hammers and was using them to bend large hunks of rock towards Suki's head. The young warrior woman dodged left, then right, then left again, narrowly missing the rocks each time. Gow grew more and more frustrated with each missed attack.
"STOP MOVING!" he shouted, hurling another earthen attack at Suki.
"No thanks, I'm fine," Suki smirked with another masterful dodge.
"I'm gonna knock that smug head right off!" he threatened.
Gow prepared to launch another Earthbending attack, when something touched him from behind. His arms went numb, dropping both hammers, and his legs followed after, causing him to fall face first on to the ground. His whole body felt like melted wax. Ty Lee stood behind him with a wide grin.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO ME?!" he shouted with livid insanity shaking in his voice.
"Just a little Chi Blocking," Ty Lee giggled. "Don't worry, you'll be fine in a couple of hours when it wears off, but by then, you'll be in a nice prison cell!"
"Not bad for a couple of little girls," Suki taunted.
Gow just grunted and looked away from the girls in shame at his defeat.
Pakku's body was smoking with purple swirls as he fell to the ground unconscious next to King Bumi. Even with his bending multiplied by the power of the full moon, he still could not defeat Bad Tala. The sorceress had single-handedly managed to subdue two Grand Lotuses who also happened to be two of the most powerful benders of their respective elements. Tala, unrestrained by her mental inhibitions, was not a woman to be trifled with lightly.
"I should kill you both," she purred wickedly. "But that would mean not letting you live long enough to see the whole world come crashing down. Death is far too merciful."
"Leave them alone!" a woman's voice called out.
Tala looked up to see a jet of water coming right at her. She waved her hand, nonchalantly, turning the water jet into nothing more than steam. When the steam cleared, Elsa stood vigilant in front of Tala.
"Oh please," Tala said as she rolled her eyes. "The old man tried that trick already. You'll simply have to do better if you hope to be a match for me."
"Your little rampage is over!" Elsa said sternly.
"Is it, now?" Tala asked with a sarcastic disappointment.
The witch made a move as if to step forward, but was stopped short by a ball of fire crashing at her feet. Iroh stepped out of an alley and stood next to Elsa.
"Yes it is," Iroh said sternly.
Tala grinned devilishly. "Now we have a slightly more even match."
It all happened so fast. No one was entirely sure who attacked first, but within what felt like a millisecond, blasts of violet energy, streams of flame, and blasts of ice all started shooting through the air. The three combatants barely had time to launch their own attacks, because every second there was a new blast heading in their direction. Iroh, Tala, and Elsa all danced around the area, almost as if playing a demented game of "catch." Iroh would launch a fireball at Tala; Tala would redirect it right back over the Elsa. Elsa shot a blast of ice at Tala; Tala simply redirected it back at Iroh. If there was every any break in the attacks of the two White Lotus members, Tala would send a beam of violet crackling energy at one of the two, causing them to have to jump out of the way, breaking the cycle temporarily until it could be restarted again. Despite all of their power, Elsa and Iroh were making no progress against Tala. All they were doing was wearing themselves out. They knew it; Tala knew it.
"This isn't working!" Elsa shouted in despair as she froze an incoming fireball and launched another ice blast at Tala.
"I know," Iroh responded while melting the ice that Tala redirected and punching out another fireball at Tala, "But we can't stop or she'll have an opening to attack."
"I have an idea!" Elsa declared as she melted another redirected fireball. "Get behind me."
Elsa swept her arms in front of her, creating a thick fence of ice between the two of them and Tala. She waved her arm back again, making the fence grow into a thick wall. She did it again and again until the wall was twenty feet high and five feet thick.
"Will that hold her back?" Iroh asked.
As if the universe heard him and wanted to answer his question, the wall exploded with a huge wave of violet energy. The force of the explosion sent Iroh and Elsa both soaring into opposite corners of the street. Tala strut past the spot where the ice wall had been, her eyes shimmered a bright violet.
"I grow tired of this little game," Tala groaned.
Elsa was laying, knocked out on one side of the street, whilst Iroh was struggling to crawl away over in the other. The sorceress locked her eyes on Iroh and marched over to him with murderous intent. The old firebender sent a bolt of lightning towards Tala's heart, but she simply waved it off towards a metal flag pole across the street. She then sent a blast of violet at Iroh's hand, causing the old man the howl in pain when it connected with its target.
"Now, to end this!" Tala hissed.
She raised her hands up high above her hand, a cloud of blazing violet energy building up for a lethal final strike. However, before Tala could deliver the coup de gras, a sparkling stream of blue energy shot straight into Tala's head. The magical energy faded as quickly as it had come, and Tala fell to the ground with a thud. Elsa staggered up to her feet and rushed over to help Iroh up.
"What did you do to her?" Iroh asked, concerned.
"A blast of ice magic to the brain," Elsa explained. "I almost... I almost killed my sister with one when we were kids. I wouldn't have done it if there were any other options."
"Will she die?" Iroh asked.
"Ice in the brain can be cured," Elsa said. "It's the heart that's really lethal. Can you use your firebending to raise the temperature in her head? It'll thaw the ice."
Iroh nodded and placed his hand over Tala's forehead. Tala groaned as if in some kind of pain, but, within several moments, the deed was done. Tala remained unconscious.
"She should live," Iroh said. "We'll need to get her restrain as quickly as possible."
Elsa created a thick wall of ice that wrapped around Tala's torso and restrained her hands. Iroh lifted her up and slung her over his shoulder.
"We've got to regroup with the rest of the White Lotus Society," Elsa declared. "I promised Aang we'd capture the wall and cut off the rebellion's control of who can enter and leave the city."
Iroh nodded. "Then that is what we must do."
Jack and Toph fought their way across the campus of Ba Sing Se University, entrapping the rebels either in blocks of ice or chunks of rock. They must've neutralized at least fifty rebels each, yet still more came. Jack and Toph were both powerful benders, but the sheer number of oncoming people was wearing them down greatly. Four more peasant soldiers charged at Jack and Toph. However, before the foot soldiers even got within striking distance, their bodies began to contort and bend as if against their will. It looked excruciatingly painful. Then, all at once, their heads gave a quick jolt to the left, snapping their necks. The four foot soldiers fell to the ground lifeless.
"Huh?" Jack said, thoroughly confused and concerned.
Yakone emerged from the shadow, his face hidden behind the Amon mask. The pale white of the mask contrasted eerily with the dark night. The contrast brought to Jack's mind the full moon overhead.
"Who are you?" Jack called out.
"I am Amon," Yakone replied with a cold monotone.
Toph immediately realized that "Amon" was lying about his name. She could feel his body's physical reaction to presenting the false identity. She said nothing, but Toph made a mental note that this man was not to be trusted.
"You a friend?" Jack asked, hesitantly, not wanting to make an enemy out of the figure unless necessary.
"Perhaps," Yakone replied. "Are you allies of Fire Lord Zuko?"
"Yeah," Toph answered. "What's it to you?"
"Hmph, Yakone scoffed.
He extended his palms upwards and tilted his head back to stare at the full moon. Yakone soaked up the light of the moon and felt the power of the celestial body increase his own power ten fold. After several seconds, Yakone allowed his arms to fall to his side and faced towards Jack and Toph once again.
"If you two are allies of the Fire Lord, then you will share his fate!"
Yakone immediately extended his arms out in stiff, clenched motions. Toph and Jack both fell to their knees in a forced bow. The pain was terrible, like all the muscles in the body were being squeezed and bent.
"What..?" Jack moaned. "What is happening?"
"He's a bloodbender," Toph said through gritted teeth. "I thought Hama and Katara were the only ones."
"Evidently not," Yakone laughed.
Jack felt the immense pain in his body. It was so intense that hardly anything else was able to cross his mind. However, something within him was beginning to stir, an invisible force coursing energy through his very veins. This wasn't the bloodbending. No. This was something purer and all together more powerful. Jack forced his head up to see the full moon above him. As soon as his eyes landed upon the celestial body, he just knew in his heart that it was the source of this sensation. He felt stronger than ever before. The light of the full moon was increasing his own power. He could feel the push and pull of all water around him, including living bodies and plants as well. He was in harmony with all water.
"What is happening?" Yakone growled as he felt his bloodbending grip on Jack weakening.
As Jack gained control once again of the water in his own body, he concentrated his energies into one singular water source: the water inside Amon.
"GAHH!" Jack shouted as he released the building pressure.
Yakone completely felt himself lose his bloodbending grip on Toph as his own body was overcome by the sensation of his fluids all pushing back on him. As if he were telekinetically thrown into the air, Yakone was sent flying back into the campus shrubbery. The bushes where the young villain had landed suddenly turned ashy and black as all of the water was pulled from them. Yakone bent the liquid into the form of a small wave of sorts and propelled himself away from Toph and Jack as he were riding a skateboard. Toph sent several waves of earth at Yakone, hoping to knock the villain off of his watery jet. However, he masterfully dodged every earthen attack. After all, what was an earthbender compared to a waterbender beneath the full moon?
"Damn! He got away!" Toph spat.
"Well at least we forced him to retreat," Jack said, trying to show Toph the bright side.
"No, not we, you," she said. "What was that thing you did?"
"I'm not sure," he confessed. "I just...I felt this energy. The flow of all of the water around me, and I used the water in his body to push him back."
Toph went silent for a minute after hearing this.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," she answered, "But I think you just bloodbent him..."
Graham made his way through the streets of Ba Sing Se's Upper ring, heading towards the Earth King's palace. As the Fire Lord, it only made sense that the place to find Zuko would be in the palace. Jim wouldn't be far from Zuko's side given how fast of a connection the two had forged. As Graham neared the palace, he lost his footing and fell flat on his stomach with a thud. He looked back behind him to see whatever caused him to trip. Much to his surprise, the ground behind him was perfectly flat and newly paved. Graham pulled himself to his feet, thinking to himself how odd it was that he had tripped like that. After all, he was the infamous Huntsman of the Enchanted Forest. His skill on his feet was unmatched.
"Well now," a deep male voice said with a slight accent. "Looks like the tarot cards were right about the Key bearer and his posse bein' in town."
An African-American man dressed in a purple and black suit appeared from a Corridor of Darkness.
"Who are you?" Graham inquired.
"Dr. Facilier," he said with a courteous bow. "And I already know all about you, Graham Humbert... Or should I say the Huntsman?"
"Am I supposed to be impressed?" Graham asked.
"Most people usually are," Facilier shrugged. "But it makes no difference to me one way or another. After all, I'm gonna send you to see my friends on the other side..."
Facilier didn't move at all, but Graham felt a punch connect to his face. The former sheriff of Storybrooke staggered back and rubbed his jaw where he'd been hit.
"What was that?" he asked.
Two more punches connected with Graham, the first in his stomach and the second an upper cut on his jaw. Stars danced around his eyes, and he fell backwards to the ground.
"A little trick of the trade, little man," Facilier smirked.
Graham looked over at the exterior wall of a nearby house to see Facilier's shadow laughing diabolically, yet it wasn't matching the voodoo man's movements. His shadow was moving on its own.
"Yes," the Shadow Man laughed. "They don't have that trick in the Enchanted Forest? I'm disappointed. I expected more from Cora at least."
Graham reached for his holster to grab his pistol. As quick as a striking snake, Facilier's shadow leapt upon Graham's wrists, pinning him to the ground.
"None of that now," Facilier wagged his finger as if scolding a child.
Facilier slipped his hand into his jacket and scooped up a handful of black powder from his inside pocket.
"Such a shame," he mused to himself. "You cheated death before only to die in the first new world you've visited."
Facilier opened up his palm and inhaled deeply. However, before his could blow the poisonous powder onto Graham, a staff slammed into Facilier's side. The shadow man, not having seen it coming, fell to the ground and spilled the powder all over himself. Being voodoo magic, the powder did not harm Facilier, however, the spilling of it rendered it utterly useless. Graham, seeing his chance, kicked with all of his strength. His foot connected with Facilier's head, the impact of which knocked the Shadow Man clean out. Graham brushed himself off and sat up. A hand extended to help him to his feet. Graham looked up to see who the hand belonged to.
"You're fuckin' welcome," Cid said when Graham's eyes met his.
Graham took Cid's hand, and the airship pilot helped him to his feet.
"Thank you," Graham said.
"Where's Jim?" Cid asked, not paying any mind to formalities.
"Why do you care?" Graham asked angrily. "Aggie said you refused to come back when she talked to you."
"Yeah, well, I'm not comin' back to the group," Cid answered. "But that don't mean I don't care about the kid bein' safe when there's a fuckin' mob in the streets and Overlords all over the damn place."
"I was trying to find him myself when Facilier ambushed me," Graham said.
"I'll go with ya to find him," Cid said.
After a moment's hesitation, Graham nodded.
"Alright, let's go."
Aang and Katara were in the middle of the mob heading for the palace; they had successfully driven a wedge through its ranks. Katara was using her waterbending to encase members of the peasant army in ice. In order to make sure Katara had all of the water she needed for the task, Aang was neutralizing the peasants by encasing them in rock with his earthbending whilst using his airbending to blow the peasants back away from the palace. It was no easy task, and it was further complicated by these people being just average upset Earth Kingdom civilians. As Aang went to neutralize another peasant, a familiar sensation overcame him.
Katara was growing immensely tired. Freezing the peasants wasn't in and of itself a difficult task, but the shear quantity of peasants and the large quantity of water she was having to pull from nearby plants and sewer grates was sapping the energy of her. Even with the full moon multiplying her strength, it was still exhausting work.
"Oh Katara," a familiar voice called out from behind her.
She whirled around to see Hama standing a few yards away. Under Hama's arms, Aang was squirming around, obviously in the old woman's bloodbending grip. Katara's face grew fierce and angry, and she prepared to draw out water from a nearby tree to strike Hama.
"Don't waterbend at me Katara," Hama threatened. "You see, I'm old and I startle easy. A blast of water might cause me to jerk my bloodbending grip and snap your sweetheart's neck. We wouldn't want that now would we?"
Katara stopped mid-bending. She couldn't risk anything happening to hurt Aang.
"That's a good girl," Hama smirked. "Such a shame that you're so powerless in this situation. There's not a thing you can do to save the Avatar. Oh... But wait! There is. You can save Aang if you just bloodbend me!"
"I won't use bloodbending!" Katara declared.
"Oh but you did, you bloodbent once before," Hama chuckled. "Do it again! Embrace the art of bloodbending!"
"You're wasting your time, Hama!" Katara said. "The war is over! There's no further justification for your demented bending."
"The Fire Nation still exists," Hama growled. "They must all pay for what they did to our tribe! War or no war, it is your duty to use bloodbending to destroy the Fire Nation!"
"You're insane!" the young waterbender said. "An era of peace has begun, and you would upset that for petty vengeance."
"Bloodbend me!" the old waterbender ordered, ignoring Katara's words.
"Then I hope your sweetheart loves you as much in his next life."
Hama made a quick motion with her hands to snap Aang's neck, however some invisible force stopped his neck before it could be broken. Katara held Aang tightly in her own bloodbending grip, pressing against Hama's. The old waterbender cackled deviously.
"You are a bloodbender Katara," she hissed. "Do not deny what you truly are. We're two sides of the same coin! You're just like me!"
"No, I am NOT!"
As Katara shouted, she bloodbent Aang's arm to strike Hama in the shins, causing the old woman to fall to the ground in pain and lose her bloodbending grip on Aang. The young Avatar wasted no time in regaining control. Using his airbending, he entrapped Hama within a tornado and levitated her off the ground. The spinning winds prevented her from bending.
"You alright?" Katara asked.
"I'm fine," Aang answered. "Thank you for saving me. I know it wasn't easy having to bloodbend again."
Katara nodded, but words could not come to her. Suddenly, a jet of water struck Aang from behind. He fell over and lost his airbending concentration, dropping Hama. Yakone used his bloodbending to safely set her on the ground.
"C'mon, the night is lost!" he shouted. "We need to go, now!"
The masked boy turned and fled into the streets. Hama reluctantly followed after him, but not without giving her opponents parting words.
"This isn't over!"
Dai Li agents had infested the halls of the Earth King's palace. Sokka and Aggie could barely get through one hall without being ambushed by the green robed men. Of course, they were no match for a witch of Aggie's caliber. As soon as they came close to the two companions, they found themselves turning into fat green toads the same color as their robes. Aggie was nothing if not a competent sorceress.
"Remind me to always partner with you on missions," Sokka laughed after two more Dai Li agents acquired new found warty skin.
"Well, magic does make life much easier," Aggie laughed.
"This place is crawling with Dai Li agents," Sokka said, shifting into a more serious mode. "If I had to guess, Long Feng is probably in the palace already."
The two entered into the hallway right before the door to the throne room.
"I just hope we can get to the Earth King before he does," Sokka said out loud.
The two stormed in through the immense double doors into the ornate throne room of the Earth King. There, sitting on the throne, was Long Feng.
"The universe hates me," Sokka groaned. "I should just stop opening my big mouth."
"I take it that's not the Earth King?" Aggie asked.
"Very perceptive, witch," Long Feng smirked. "My associate, Dr. Facilier, warned me that the Key Bearer and his travelling party might interfere. I had hoped that the great Jim Hawkins himself would face me, but I will settle for defeating his sorceress."
"And how do you propose to do that?" Aggie asked haughtily. "I am the head of the Cromwell line of witches and warlocks, the most powerful practitioners of magic in all of Halloweentown. Not even a bender is a match for me."
"We shall see," Long Feng smirked as he produced a palm sized wooden talisman from the folds of his robes. "Catch!"
Long Feng hurled the voodoo talisman right at Aggie. The old witch rolled her eyes and blasted it with a plasma bolt. However, when her spell destroyed the talisman, ribbons of pink energy shot out from the ruins of the artifact and wrapped around Aggie like a python around its prey. Aggie tried to dispel the voodoo chains, but her magic was inaccessible.
"What is this?!" Aggie shouted.
"A little trick Dr. Facilier outfitted me with, just in case," Long Feng smiled wickedly.
"You're not out of the dog house yet!" Sokka shouted.
The young water tribe boy drew his sword from its sheath. It, unfortunately, wasn't his meteor sword, but it was a sturdy one that he was prepared to wield all the same. Besides, it wasn't the sword that made the warrior, it was the heart and skill. Sokka charged towards Long Feng, ready to engage the head of the Dai Li in battle. Long Feng just yawned and waved his hand, sending a pillar of earth shooting out of the floor, knocking Sokka off his feet before he could even reach him.
"Foolish boy," Long Feng scoffed. "Did you really think a mere snow peasant could defeat one of my stature?"
"Well look who's just hypocrite of the year," Sokka said as he regained his footing.
"The peasant army is simply a vessel to regain my power," Long Feng sneered. "Did you think I actually believed in this foolish cause?"
"Not really," Sokka admitted. "Though I do wish there was a way to broadcast everything you just said throughout the city. That'd make life so much easier."
"Hmph, now wouldn't that be contrived," the head of the Dai Li chuckled.
Sokka again charged towards Long Feng, and, once again, Long Feng unleashed a barrage of earthbending attacks, knocking the young man around the throne room like a rag doll. There were cuts pouring blood all over Sokka's body, and he was pretty sure that at least one bone was broken. Yet he did not yield. He refused to.
"You know without your bending, you wouldn't be so tough!" Sokka said.
"Then it's fortunate that I do have my bending, isn't it?" Long Feng replied.
"Okayyyyyy, that's not how that played out in my head," Sokka groaned. "You, the evil power hungry advisor, were supposed to fall for my trick and face me man to man. Then I, the street smart witty peasant boy, would kick your butt and defeat you. There's a certain formula for these things. You're totally messing with the mojo, dude."
"Are you done with your incessant prattling?"
Sokka hurled his boomerang right for Long Feng's head. The traitorous advisor simply leaned out of the way, allowing the weapon to fly past him.
"Did you honestly think that would work?"
"I still do."
As if on cue, the boomerang came right back and slammed into the back of Long Feng's head.
"OUCH!" Long Feng shouted, rubbing the back on his head. "Blasted thing."
"Hey Long Feng!" Sokka called out.
The head of the Dai Li looked up to face Sokka once more, only to see Sokka's fist connect with his face. Stars started dancing around his sight and everything went black soon after. Long Feng collapsed onto the ground unconscious.
"Oh damn!" Sokka laughed. "Didn't know I had that in me."
Sokka made several mock punching motions in the air as if he were a boxer.
"Wonderful job, Sokka!" Aggie spoke up. "Now, if you could please find a way to get me out of this thing."
Sokka walked over to Aggie and studied the energy trap intently.
"Hmm..." Sokka reached out and tugged at the binding spell. It didn't budge.
"Well, I got nothin'," Sokka shrugged.
"My hero," Aggie rolled her eyes.
The intense light began to fade, and, in its place, an intense heat started to engulf Jim. Sweat poured out of him at a rate far faster than usual. The heat was intense. As his vision slowly began to clear, he saw that he was standing in a large cave area on a cobblestone, man-made platform. Surrounding the platform on all sides was molten lava. The entire area looked live the inside of a volcano.
"Jim!" Zuko's voice called out.
The young Fire Lord ran over to Jim's side as quickly as his feet could carry him.
"What the Hell just happened?" Zuko asked.
"No clue," Jim admitted. "But I think we might've been sucked into some sort of Pocket Dimension."
"What an astute observation," a man's voice hissed.
A tall, dark, and sinister looking man materialized on the platform in front of them within a Corridor of Darkness. The man was well dressed in the finest robes in Agrabah, and his twisted beard reflected his twisted mind.
"Jafar!" Zuko growled.
"Jafar?" Jim asked, with fear present in his voice. "As in, THE Jafar? The second-in-command of the Overlords, Jafar?!"
"The very same," Jafar hissed. "My, my, I had not expected to catch the Fire Lord in my trap. I only meant to remove the meddlesome Key Bearer from the equation. I believe the vernacular phrase is 'killing two birds with one stone'?"
"Remove me from the equation?" Jim asked snarkily. "What, you afraid I'd crush your rebellion?"
"Hmph, I am not concerned with petty rebellions," Jafar said with a roll of his eyes. "The peasants revolting is actually the result of a meddlesome interloper who dares oppose us. At any rate, it is none of my concern. I had actually intended to get you out of the way so that my two imbeciles could assassinate the Fire Lord without interruptions. However, it would appear that the privilege of killing you both falls to me."
"Where's Azula?!" Zuko shouted angrily at the Overlord. "What have you done with her?!"
"Azula? Oh yes, you mean the Fire Princess? My associate, Cora, is taking very good care of her. Soon you shall be dead, and she'll be well enough to take the crown of the Fire Lord. Then all shall be right in the universe once again."
Zuko's anger was visibly rising. The young Fire Lord let out a cry of anger, and rushed forward towards Jafar, punching out fire balls towards the evil sorcerer. Jafar spun his staff around in a circle, dissipating the fire balls before they could touch him. Jafar returned his snake staff to its upward position. The eyes flashed and Zuko suddenly found himself tumbling backwards. He slammed right into Jim and the two young men went rolling backwards. A white light began to radiate around the two young men. Jafar raised his eyebrow, puzzled at this out a effect. A sound that resembled a breaking chain echoed throughout the antechamber. Where Zuko and Jim had been a minute before, now only Jim stood there. However, the Keyblade wielder was looking distinctly different.
The most obvious change in Jim was that he was wearing a bright red and black palette swap of his Fire Nation peasant clothing that he had been wearing. His outfit now bore white outlines of several fleur-di-lis sigils decorating the formerly plane clothing. In one hand, he held his Keyblade, still looking the way that the Keychain Morph transfigured it. However, in his left hand, he now held another Keyblade. This blade, however, looked completely different from either the blade he was used to seeing or the true form of the Keyblade. This Keyblade had a design that's hilt looked like a dragon with the body and blade of the weapon bearing a resemblance to fire breath. Though Jim didn't know it by name, this blade's design was known to Sora as "The Hidden Dragon."
"WHAT?!" Jafar growled. "NO! You shouldn't have that power!"
Red lightning radiated around Jim's hands where the held the Keyblades. He felt twice as strong now, twice as powerful. He could feel Zuko inside of him. It was as if they were two entities occupying one body with one collective mind. Jafar sneered with disgust and held out his staff in front of him. A bolt of red lightning shot from the staff at Jim. Jim, however, masterfully dodged by jumping out of the way. He'd never had such agility and speed before. Jafar continued to launch his blasts of lightning at Jim, and the fusion of Jim and Zuko continued to dodge the blast with astonishing acrobatics.
"Insolent fool," Jafar hissed.
With a sweeping motion of his staff, Jafar unleashed a wave of red energy at Jim. However, the young Keyblade wielder jumped over the wave just in the nick of time. He landed directly in front of Jafar. Jafar attempted to launch another blast of lightning, however, Jim swung the Keyblade for Jafar's face before he hand the chance. The Overlord was forced to abandon his spell in favor of blocking the blade with his staff. With Zuko's mastery of dual wielding blades at his disposal, Jim attacked with two Keyblades as if it were second nature. Jafar was barely able to block each attack. While an expert of casting powerful spells, Jafar was at a great physical disadvantage in weapon to weapon combat. As Jim prepared to bring down the Hidden Dragon blade onto Jafar's skull, the old sorcerer vanished into a Corridor of Darkness, leaving Jim to swing at thin air.
"Running, Jafar?" Jim quipped as he regained his stance.
"Simply altering my strategy, boy," Jafar's voice said from behind Jim.
Jim whirled around in time to see Jafar's physical form dissolve into red smoke. The red smoke billowed up until it took the form of a large, muscular man. The smoke began to change consistency, transforming into blood red skin instead. Floating above Jim was Jafar's demonic looking genie form.
"Zaba kabudabra," Jafar chanted in a deep booming voice.
A great pain suddenly overcame Jim. He felt as if he were being ripped into two. With a surge of red lightning, he was sent rolling to his right side. His clothes were back to normal, and he only had one Keyblade in his hands. Zuko was sent rolling to the opposite side. Their physical bond hand been severed. Jafar laughed in a deep booming voice that shook the entire arena.
"Insolent fools," Jafar bellowed. "You could never defeat me!"
Orbs of dark energy formed in Jafar's immense, clawed hands. Whatever those orbs were meant for, Jim knew they were the beginning of the end. Just as Jafar was about to unleash the power, a blast of white energy that looked something like a comet shot through the dark orbs, dissipating them.
"WHAT?!" Jafar roared in anger.
"You're not going to win," a familiar female voice said. "Not today, anyway."
Jafar growled to himself. He hated to retreat, but he had no idea if he would be powerful enough to overtake his attackers. Besides, he had orders and these events were not in compliance with them. An enormous Corridor of Darkness, bigger than any Jim had ever seen, engulfed Jafar and the evil genie vanished without a trace.
"Are you alright?" the woman's voice asked as she helped Jim up to his feet.
"I'm fine," Jim said as he looked upon his rescuer's face
Only then did he fully realize who had just saved his life. Standing there in front of him, smiling her gentle smile was Cinderella and behind her stood Alice, Belle, Anya, and Marina. The Princesses of Heart were here.