TUH: Oh boy, do I have a surprise for you at the end of the chapter.

TN: And I have some surprises myself. I know right?

TUH: Yours are in the chapter, mine are at the end.

TN: It doesn't matter, I wrote some surprises.

TN: Enjoy.

*DISCLAIMER*


Chapter XXII

Sorceress Rising

I'ltorien
September 30,2010

"Christina… it's been too long!" Elincia greeted her friend, hugging her as she groggily left the door for the bedroom. It took some time for her to respond, but the joy of having her friend back after more than a week in I'ltorien slowly took over.

"Elincia! I've missed you. Where have you been?" Christina questioned, returning the hug. She had been in the world for quite some time now but she had not seen or heard of Elincia for the whole time. Even Ike only knew she was on "a mission." She had begun to expect the worst.

"Well, I am the most important person in the rebels on political terms. I spent most of my time in Crimea while you were gone but, a few weeks ago, I was called by our greatest ally, King Edward of Drisseria to have an audience," Elincia explained, getting Christina's attention for the name of the Kingdom.

"Drisseria? You mean the Empire isn't ruling over everything in I'ltorien?" she asked, Elincia nodding.

"Yes. Drisseria is the unified nation of all ninja clans to the northeast. As you can imagine, ninjas aren't easy to find, nor are they easy to pin down AFTER finding them. For that, Mateus took it upon himself to ignore them until they made a move. Fighting them in their own territory would be madness," Elincia explained, Christina noting it in her mind. Mateus wasn't as bad of a strategist as they painted him to be.

"Why did he call you there?" she asked, catching a strange look on Elincia. "Something the matter?"

"Oh, oh nothing. It's just… you changed the past months. You weren't even half the talker before you left," she explained, causing Christina to gulp down and look away, her cheeks flushing.

"It's not that…" she replied, taking Elincia's hand. "It's just… I see you as a real friend now. Just like the ones back in the facility. You're almost a big sister to me," she explained, putting both hands in Elincia's and looking up to her amber eyes.

"You can be… adorable at times, "Elincia giggled, joining her hands in her's. "Still, I'm really honored you see me that way," she replied and they both smiled at each other for a moment, another moment for Christina to treasure. "And the reason they called me is because Edge, I mean, King Edward, needed me to help him over the clans. While the Eblan Clan is the one ruling Drisseria, there is little stopping a coup if there is a major disagreement with the clan. It is a country consisting of mostly ninjas after all,"

"That's… interesting. It feels like something out of the storybooks I read as with them…" said Christina, remembering the tales she read with the ones she called her own flesh and blood, nostalgia and want taking over the girl. Perceiving what she meant, Elincia had to stop herself from telling Christina the truth. She wanted to know King's true feelings about the Empire before. Still, she couldn't leave Christina to wallow now. They had just met each other again.

"Don't worry Christina… I'm sure they are well," she said, slowly taking away the dark expression of the girl and turning it into a soft smile. "Now, why don't you tell me all about your adventure?" Smiling, Christina nodded and lead the way to the food hall.

HoL:TS

"Hey… hey big bro!" Cuore called as King paced around the room, avoiding the chocobo chicks Cu had summoned out of excitement. "Hey biggie hey!"

"What is it Cu?" King entertained, even though he already knew what was coming.

"When are we going to meet Papa and Mama?!" she cried, jumping onto his arms and looking up at him starry eyed. King smiled and shook his head. She had been like this for five days now, ever since he had told her he had found her parent's identity and their location. He had not told her a thing about their true names or selves, she didn't need to worry with what came next. The smile on her turquoise eyes made it more than worth it for King.

"Gotta find a way to sneak you out, don't I?" he asked, to which Cuore pouted for a bit, then nodded with a smile, jumping onto King's arms and onto a brown chocobo's back that she'd summoned, snuggling up in its feathers. King smiled at the sight, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. He slowly moved towards it, opening it ever so slightly to reveal what many would consider to be a mortal enemy at this point.

"Éclair," King acknowledged, letting her into the room. Walking in, he saw her raise both eyebrows at the confusion in the room, but she continued on to give King a way to close the door.

"It's Lightning now, we went over this," she snapped back, not in anger, more like matter of factually.

"You can ask your subordinates to call you that. I still think changing your name after what happened years ago was stupid," King spat back, leaning against the door.

"Tsk, whatever. Here's your permit to take on the night shift. I won't ask why you want this. I still won't ask who this girl is. I'll just wish you luck," she said with a tone that bordered the… understanding. Giving him the documents, she headed for the door, taking her hand to the nob but stopping. "Strictly off the record. You wouldn't happen to have-"

"I wouldn't hide Serah from you out of some grudge Éclair. We already went over this," King replied as he inspected the papers. He knew Éclair wouldn't look back so why should he? He heard her let loose a big "humph" before adding:

"Also, your sister told me that she wants you to be at the usual sparring spot at the usual time. Try not to kill each other," she added, leaving the room in stride. King took a deep sigh in response, shaking his head heavily. He knew this was going to happen either way.

"Who was that bro-bro?" Cuore asked from atop her chocobo, causing King to shake his head in response.

"She's… a friend."

HoL:TS

Radiant Garden
September, 28, 2010

No.

Oh god.

What have I done?

"No …" Alexia muttered, her legs buckling, her knees crashing into the pavement. The pain barely registered as she looked down at Tifa's dead body. The oily plumes of smoke kept billowing, the residents kept screaming, and the wind howled in the crevice. Her sword-half clanged do the ground next to her as her body went slack. Tears began to slowly form in her eyes.

"Hmph, you're a messy worker," Sephiroth said, appearing by her side. He knelt down and began to cover his blade in Tifa's blood. He placed some on his clothing as well. Alexia couldn't find the strength to look at him. Her eyes were glued to the horrible crime she had just committed.

"Why are you-"

"To cover your tracks," he said simply, interrupting her. She felt the cold bite into her, and it was summer time.

"I- I didn't-"

"Didn't what? Please don't tell me you didn't want to kill her," Sephiroth spat, standing up as he did so.

"But I-"

"No. I saw you. You acted like a cold-blooded killer. You even smiled. Why, I almost admired you for a moment," Sephiroth said, a small smirk creeping on his face.

"No, I-"

"What? Hmm? You murdered without hesitation. You knew the consequences, you knew what may have had to be done. You knew these things and you killed her anyway. You smiled as you did it. I watched, and I know a killer when I see one!" he shouted. Those tears trickled down her skin, burning into her.

"I never-"

"Yes. You. Di-"

"NO!" she screamed at him, silence following. "I d- didn't w- want to kill her! I n- never wanted this, any of it!" she shouted, gesturing to the burning wreckage, Tifa, anywhere. The tears came in retching sobs now.

"I j-j- just want my family back. I- I want Phillip, mom, Blake, P-Pappy … my life. I want it all back! Why did this happen t- t- to me?" she screamed in hysterics.

"Life isn't fair," Sephiroth replied.

"Is that all you have to say? I'm tired of being used. I just want my life back! I want my family, I want friends, I want to be normal! I didn't ask for magic. I didn't ask for my world to be destroyed. I didn't ask for everything that happened in An-"

"You are such a covetous, selfish child," Sephiroth said, ice dripping from his voice. "All you do is want, want, want; you do not care. If you really wanted all this back, then you would never hesitate in anything. That is exactly what you did with Tifa. You are lying to yourself."

"Bullshit!" she screamed, ripping her voice. "Maleficent promised me my family should I help her get Kingdom Hearts! I've done my part! What have you done other than be a lapdog for her ever si-"

Slap. Alexia tasted fresh blood.

"Ignorant child," Sephiroth said with nigh on hate, withdrawing his hand. "You have to work to get what you want. And if that means going against your own beliefs … if that means having to kill someone, then you do it. That is what you did. You should be proud of your resolve, but instead you are a coward that hides from the truth. You want your old life back because you're afraid of the new one. You are afraid of every little outcome, every little thing that is not known. You are scared, and that is why you should be shamed," Sephiroth preached. Alexia's tears came back in full swing as she knelt by Tifa's body, the guilt and and sorrow flooding her.

"I killed, I killed without hesitation. Like you, I did it for family … I did it for my mother. You killed this whelp for one reason and one reason only … you were scared. Let that eat at you. Let it fester in your mind that you are weak and a coward. Let the guilt of her death and the betrayal of your friend, Riku, stay in your mind. Wait until he knows. Now go, before they see this. Be lucky I am covering you. It will not happen again," he said. Sephiroth then kicked Alexia into the rock wall, and stuck his blade in Tifa. At that time Riku, Cloud and Aerith had ran around the corner.

"TIFA!" Aerith shouted in fear and sorrow.

"SEPHIROTH!" Riku and Cloud shouted in anger and hatred. They charged over the distance in the span of a second. But, before they could reach him, Sephiroth took one last look at Alexia and vanished in a whirl of feathers. Her vision blacked out as Riku grabbed her fainting body.

HoL:TS

"How is she?" Riku asked Aerith as she walked out of Alexia's bedroom in Merlin's house. Aerith had been tending to Alexia while Riku had waited outside the door. Every volunteer in Radiant Garden was helping the wounded and locating the dead and lost. The whole Garden was buzzing with activity to clear up the massive mess and attack that Sephiroth had caused. Anger boiled in his blood, but his worry for Alexia was at the present.

"She's fine. Minor head injury and other worse injuries she must have gotten from fighting Sephiroth. Has Mickey been alerted?" she asked.

"Yeah, he was already on his way here, anyway. He's already in the hangar," Riku explained as they walked down, leaving Alexia to rest. They walked down the staircase to find the committee waiting for King Mickey. And speaking of, he walked right in the door.

"How bad is it?" King Mickey asked Leon as they took their seats around the meeting table.

"We don't know the casualties. No more than a few hundred died. Not many people were in the marketplace, so we're thankful for that. It was Sephiroth, and that means it was Maleficent," he said. Mickey nodded, not anger on his face, but worry and exhaustion.

"Okay, so what we need to do is-"

"Hey! Sora's back! Highwind inbound!" Cid shouted, coming in from outside. Riku jumped from his seat to run outside, as well as all of the committee. The Highwind wasted no time in landing in Merlin's back lot. The hatch opened, but only Kairi and Merideth came running out of it. Kairi was anxious.

"Kairi, Merideth! Hey!" Riku shouted to them. "Where's Sora at? Eating, as usual?" Some of the committee laughed.

"No, he's not. I don't know what he's doing, because he's not here," Kairi said seriously. Riku stopped and his smile vanished as fast as Sephiroth.

"What do you mean?" King Mickey asked.

"He was kidnapped by Davy Jones. He's at The World That Never Was," Merideth explained.

"Well, this complicates things …" Mickey said.

"Obviously," Axel muttered.

"Now's not the time, Axel," Cloud said.

"The name is Lea. How many times do I have to say. Get. It. Memorized!" Lea or Axel yelled.

"Okay, we have got to fix him," Yuffie said.

"Later. I was going to amass an assault on Maleficent soon, anyway. We'll just have to go now and without the forces. Everyone on the Highwind!" Mickey shouted. Riku felt his blood pump with anticipation as he, Kairi, Merideth, King Mickey, Cloud, Aerith, Yuffie, Leon, Lea (or Axel) all boarded the ship. Mickey ordered Merlin and Cid to stay and take care of things. Riku's feet carried him to the living room outside the hangar; inside, Mickey and Leon were setting the coordinates for The World That Never Was. He sat on the couch, tossing Sora's blanket to the other end. Kairi sat down as well, taking the blanket and curling up with it as the ship took off.

"Kai, you look exhausted," Riku began. She had bags under her eyes and her usually violet orbs were cracked with red. She yawned and leaned into the blue sofa. She inhaled into the blanket, smelling what had to have been Sora's cologne.

"I haven't slept for the last few days," she said. Riku exhaled.

"Come on, princess, you need sleep," Riku said, smiling at her. "You're gonna need the rest for when we get Sora back." She smiled at him at him and rose from the couch.

"Okay, I'll be asleep in Sora's room," Kairi said, strolling past Yuffie and Lea fighting in a video game and going down to the bedrooms. Riku sighed and leaned back into the couch, sleep taking him over as they zoomed to The World That Never Was.

Kairi slumped down the halls, hearing the laughter of her friends. How they could be so relaxed, she didn't know, but she didn't think about it as she passed over the threshold into Sora's room, the lights already brimming. She sighed, it was typical of him. She took a moment to look around his room. It surprised her actually, because it was cleaner than she had expected. In one corner was a shelf of pictures that Jiminy had processed on their previous adventures. One of Sora sliding down the trunks and vines of a jungle. There was one of him soaring around the tower of Big Ben and another of him fighting pirates in Port Royal. And then there was one more, more serious than all the others. It showed Sora sitting at the top of the tower in Twilight Town, looking out at the sunset, fingering Kairi's lucky charm of the paopu fruit. A look of fiery determination and longing was etched into his face. She smiled radiantly and turned away.

Again she was surprised as she found a shelf of books, all by the same author, B.M. Goan. The Elezria series. She had never known him to read often, but there they were, all nine books by Miss Goan. One of them sat out on his night stand opened and facing downward, marking his position. She walked over and placed his bookmark in it, saving the book from bending. She shuffled around to the bed, and her feet tangled into something soft. She looked down and kicked her feet out. A pink pair of used boxers flew across the room. Her face flushed with warm blood as she allowed herself a small smile and giggle. She turned off the light in the room that Sora had forgotten to do and curled up in his bed. She breathed in his aroma and felt her mind ease. She drifted off into a deep sleep with a smile on her face.

The last time she would sleep easy for a long time.

The stars passed by and the worlds … moved on.

HoL:TS

The World That Never Was
October 1, 2010

"Send it out," Maleficent ordered watching as a group of teens and a mouse beamed down into the city of her world. Her scientist nodded with a bow.

"Yes, my Queen. Archangel Mark II: Remiel is ready."

HoL:TS

Kairi landed on a sidewalk in the city of The World That Never Was. It was pitch black, as always. The wind blew discarded papers around the empty streets, lights fluttered in aged street posts, shutters on a window creaked and banged lightly against a house. It was quiet and eerie, like a a storm on a sunny day.

"Okay, gang, let's go!" Mickey ordered. He led the group as the trotted through the streets, the massive castle looming closer in the distance, its large light bridge ejecting like a tongue, waiting to swallow its prey. In between them and it was a sprawl of downtown. There was something odd. It gave Kairi the creeps and shivers down her spine; her spiked on her neck. Her eyes narrowed.

"Wait!" Kairi said, halting the group. King Mickey turned to face her.

"What is, Kairi?" he asked.

"Is it me, or is this a little easy? Sora told me about how this place was swimming with Heartless. It's too quiet, and I don't like it," she said. King Mickey scratched his whiskery chin. Kingdom Hearts radiated from above.

"I don't see why we sho-"

Rumble.

The ground shook slightly and a loud thumping was heard from a nearby alleyway. Concrete crunched and bricks fell from buildings. Roofs caved in, but nothing was seen, no sign of something to be causing this. All of the company readied they're different weapons. Then, in a spray of bricks, wood and metal, houses collapsed on either side of an alley, a monstrous thing emerging.

On its chest was the symbol of the Heartless and a scripture.

Archangel Mark II: Remiel

Oh no, not another on of these, Kairi thought.

This massive Heartless was different from the original, Saraquel. Instead of a large beast, this resembled a dark knight. Pitch armor as black as the night gleamed with moonlight. It stood at twenty feet tall in black, metal boots. It's black plate armor covered its legs and chest. In one hand it wielded a massive, double-bladed broadsword, as white as the moon. It brimmed with energy. Its hand also permeated violent magic that changed colors, showing it could cast different types of magic. Fiery red changed to shocking blue, which splayed a variation of green yellow and purple. It sparked with hellfire and radiated earthly destruction. A helm that revealed no features—not even eyes—adorned the head. Horns curled from the helm.

"That looks scary," Naminé said as she appeared by Kairi's side.

"Come on, there are ten of us to the one of it, it shouldn't be too hard," King Mickey said. The thing let out a high pitch screech that descended into a low growl the shook the foundations of buildings and shattered windows. Something began to happen, a shroud of darkness surrounded the creature in swift movements, tendrils of darkness wrapping about it. A shimmering in the air began, a warbling of sound and a bright light, riddled with darkness. The Archangel Heartless began to multiply, the once single Heartless turning into three and then into five! Five of the massive abominations stood before the group.

"Okay … this is bad," Yuffie said.

"No sh-"

"Split up and go!" Mickey ordered before Cloud could retort. All of the group ran in different directions with a partner, scattering behind alleyways and streets, running through the maze of buildings. Kairi and Naminé ran one way into the downtown towards an amphitheater. Mickey and Riku ran towards an old theme park. Leon and Yuffie ran to the municipal area. Cloud and Aerith headed for a large outdoor shopping district. Lea and Merideth stayed where they were as the clones all chased after their individual prey.

"Come on bow girl, let's take this one down," Lea said. Merideth nodded with a smile. The thing hauled back its arm and crashed the sword into the ground, a pure beam of light erupting from the blade, slicing through the air. Lea and Merideth dove in opposite directions, the beam barely missing them. It struck apartment buildings and decimated them in an instant, reducing them to smoldering rubble. Its body flexed back to full height. Merideth looked back at the destruction and moved a strand of blond hair away from her red eyes. Axel brushed his clothes off, the black cloak of the Organization appearing. Flames laced his arms and his chakrams began to spin violently.

"Oh, this is gonna be fun!" he said, jumping high in the air. Merideth knocked an arrow and took aim.

HoL:TS

"Mickey, this way!" Riku shouted. They turned a corner in an alley just as the house behind them exploded into a spray of bricks and wood; metal whizzed past their heads. Riku's sneakers skidded on the gravel and dead plants of the ground, the sick thunk of metal crashing into more houses coming from behind. Another turn and a something on the level of a massive Firaga rushed past, nearly incinerating Mickey's tail.

Talk about a warm welcome, Riku thought. He saw a Ferris wheel in the distance.

They crashed through a steel link gate as the Heartless lumbered around the corner. It swung its sword downward in a large arc, a pure white beam of light blasting from its tip. It missed Riku by an inch and sliced through the merry-go-round, plastic bits of horse flying from the explosion that followed. A piece of steel launched through the air, the whicker and whistle growing closer. It ripped through Riku's calf and into his shin bone. He screamed and fell on his knees. Before he could reach behind, Mickey had yanked out the metal with a sick squish. A Curaga healed the wound. Riku got to his feet, but limped heavily. Even a Curaga didn't heal bone to full order.

"Riku, go! I have an idea!" Mickey squeaked. He ran to a rundown box of a shack. He blasted the lock off and kicked in the door. Riku ran laxly to the wreckage of the merry-go-round, taking shelter behind it. The ancient Ferris wheel stood inertly in front of him. The loud steps of metal on gravel thundered in. Then, lights.

Lights everywhere.

Slowly, like out of a horror movie, the lights flickered into full brightness, the sound wound slowly into the speakers, and the rides came to life, slowly rotating or working. The clickclickclickclick of the roller coaster was heard, the cars slowly ascending the hill of the first, scary drop. Speaking of, the seats on the drop tower rose steadily into the night air, the wind was fierce. The forced squeal of a broken belt whirred behind him, the horses trying to race for their last time. The boats of the tunnel of love slowly drifted in their stagnant water and the Ferris wheel slowly began to turn, holding no passengers. The park was alive with only three guests.

"Oh, this is gonna be fun," Riku said. The giant Heartless stood still for a moment. Riku peered around the corner to see it looking around, until a small figure ran in front of it, heading strait for the drop tower. The Remiel clone looked at him and swung its sword and missed, the end sinking into the ground. Riku ran after Mickey, the fire of the merry-go-round burning hotly behind him.

"Get on Riku!" Mickey yelled as the Seats began to rise. Mickey was more agile, having jumped onto the seats, and so Riku jumped and grabbed hold and was left to climb up on the seats. Mickey helped him up. And then, to make matters worse, smaller Heartless emerged everywhere. Centurions flew around the tower as the seats rose into the sky. The Heartless walked slowly towards the tower. Keyblades flashed in the lights and fire, clashing with Centurion swords and maces. Frank Sinatra played over the loud speakers and Remiel bellowed in anger. The seats were reaching the top of the ride.

"Get ready Riku!" Mickey shouted, hunching his legs.

"What are you-"

Click.

The seats not only dropped, but were slammed downward with compressed air. Riku felt his floor fall from under him, and a shrieking fear grabbed onto his heart as his fingers searched blindly for something to grab onto. Luckily, he grabbed a piece of metal jutting from the top of the ride. His other hand held tightly onto his Keyblade. Centurions took their chance, but he fought them nonetheless, keeping them at bay, but never gaining the upper hand.

Mickey, however, had jumped onto a Centurion. From there, he jumped to another, slicing the previous one into dust repeating the process, jumping on them agilely as they glided around the drop tower. Riku continued to fight while dangling freely. The seats began to rise again. Remiel followed, climbing slowly from underneath it. Riku dropped onto the seats and continued to fight Heartless. Mickey finished his acrobatic display and fought at Riku's side.

"When this puppy drops again, it's gonna hit 'im in the head. We gotta jump away to the Ferris wheel," Mickey explained. Riku looked over to the rotating wheel, eying the vacant carts. He gulped.

"Got it, Mickey," he said nervously.

They rose.

Swords clashed, spells illuminated the air, and the wind blew more fiercely as they climbed to the heavens. Stars shimmered weakly and the sounds of downtown being destroyed in five different places rocketed the air, blasts of fire and spells flashing in the distance. A sword sliced through Riku's arm; blood trickled down his rigid bicep.

"Okay, here we go, Riku," Mickey told him. His nerves steeled.

"Ready … and jump!" Mickey shouted. Riku pumped his legs and flung his body over the gap and into a cart, the metal back bar slamming into his gut as the wheel turned. Her rose into the air some more, the air knocked from his lungs. He coughed and spluttered as Mickey helped him up. The seats of the drop tower whooshed into Remiel, crushing into his skull and knocking him off the tower, and his sword clattered by his dazed form.

"Ah, not enough," Mickey muttered.

More Centurions.

HoL:TS

"Kairi! Up this way!" Naminé shouted to her twin. Without thought, Kairi switched her footing and ran to the right, up a flight of stairs in the massive, open-air amphitheater. The crashing of structures being destroyed resounded behind them, and she ran faster, her heart triphammering. She was not used to fighting on her own, or with Naminé. Sora or Riku had always been there to help, to make sure things didn't go wrong. Last time he had saved her life from a simple Praetorian. Now, it was a full fledged massive Heartless, and Archangel. And it was just her and Nam. A Knight emerged, only to blasted away from Naminé's impressive magic. Another appeared to be hewn by Kairi, and a third to be destroyed by her Fira spell. They turned another left, and came out into the amphitheater. They were in the stands, the upper ones that had no bottom, the ones that hung out over more seats.

In a fantastic outward bust in the lower left exit, the Remiel clone thundered in, its snow white sword gleaming with energy, and its hand glowing red with fire. And that same fire set that exit of the building on fire … and it began to spread.

"Okay, we have got to hurry," Kairi told her sister, her eyes looking to the fire. She could already feel the heat. Her calf didn't hurt like it used to, but she remembered the flames that had peeled away her skin like it was crust on a piece of bread. That burnt smell of meat in the air …

"Kairi, look out!" Naminé shouted, shoving Kairi out of the way of a massive white beam that had erupted from Remiel's sword. A rough fissure cut through the upper platform, creating a rugged gap between the seats. Naminé was one one side while she was one the other. She was closer to the fire.

"Come on, let's beat this thing!" Naminé shouted with a smile. Kairi nodded as the fire spread towards her and the then the other way onto the stage. The curtains went up in a smokey blaze, buffeting into the night sky. Remiel was a dark silhouette against the red flames, their tongues licking the heavens. It lumbered to the top platform, and swung its sword at Naminé. She dodged and fired a Fira spell at it. It hardly affect the Heartless as it launched Watega spells at Kairi. She dodged swiftly and fired back a Thundara spell. It, too, did nothing. Another swipe of the sword, and Kairi dodged, a section of the seating crumbling into that of the one below it.

"Gravira!" Naminé shouted at it, a black orb of energy crashing into its left shoulder. It weighed it down slightly, but it still fired a Blizzaga at them. Ice ripped through the seats, and shard cut Kairi's cheek, but just slightly. A small drop of blood pooled out.

"Nothing's working on it!?" Kairi shouted, as she dodged another crash of the sword, this time a white beam cascading out of it and into the walls behind her. The crumbled. She was running out of platform to walk on.

"We have to keep trying," Naminé yelled back. Kairi dodged a blast of Watega as Naminé fired a Thundara spell at it. Of course nothing happened. Kairi fired a Fira spell at it, just to be rebounded. She dodged her own Fira spell and then heard an earsplitting scream rip through the open air auditorium. Fire whooshed and a large crash knocked Naminé's platform the rest of the way into oblivion. Naminé fell like a ragdoll into the rubble. Dirt splashed on her face and her Aublade crashed and became a swirl of light. It summoned to her hand as she got to her feet shakily. The sword crashed towards her and she rolled away. It charged a Firaga and shot it at Kairi, while the blade fell at Naminé.

"Fira!" Naminé shouted, hurling a blast over her shoulder. It connected with Remiel's knee. It crumpled the kneecap and did significant damage. Naminé looked back in shock.

"How did you do that!" Kairi shouted, moving farther away from the encroaching fire. Remiel faltered on its leg for a brief second and then recovered, its attention fixed on Naminé.

"I don't know?!" Naminé yelled back, nearly dying from a massive white beam. She barely dodged it, for a second turning invisible because of her dress behind the color scheme, the whiteness blinding Kairi. She turned away, both the light and fire burning her retinas. She fired a Fira spell at it and it bounced off, flying into the sky overhead.

"Nam!" Kairi shouted, looking back. "It didn't work!"

"Well, how did mine work!?" Naminé screamed, avoiding falling debris.

"I don't know! It had just cast its own Firaga! I thought it was immune to ma-"

Click.

"I know, I know!" Kairi shouted, another swathe of the platform crumbling. The fire had spread almost all the way around the room.

"What?" Naminé shouted.

"We have to use the magic that it's casting!"

"But that doesn't make sense!"

"Just do it!"

Remiel powered up a level three Thunder spell. At that moment, Kairi and Naminé cast Thundaras at it, blasting off of its shoulder and kneecap respectively. It faltered and the metal crunched together, squeaking horribly.

"Nam, how good are you at jumping? How agile are you?" Kairi asked. Crash. Another flaming patch of platform fell. All of what was left was too narrow, and below her was pure fire.

"Why? I've never tried anything!"

Crash. There was no where left to run.

"Go for its face!"

It charged a Firaga.

"NOW!" Kairi screamed. Naminé steeled herself and ran forward. With a surging flex of her legs, she vaulted up and onto its sword, kicking off onto its shoulder. Kairi ran forward and jumped from the platform, thrusting like a quivering tongue over a chasm. She leaped over the fire and grabbed onto Remiel's horn.

"FIRA!" Naminé shouted.

"FIRAGA!" Kairi shouted.

They stabbed the Keyblades through the eye sockets, plunging into its dark head. The spells exploded within its head. Its helmet wrenched and tore in the explosion. Naminé jumped off to the center of the room, but Kairi was launched off of the Heartless and next to Naminé. Lights flashed from the hit, or maybe that was the raging fire. Her breathing was short, clogged with smoke. The Firaga had taken a notch of her energy.

"Kairi, you shouldn't have done that," Naminé said, washing away the exit with a Watera spell.

"No, Nam. I need to get stronger. We both have the power, we just need to unleash it, tap into it," Kairi coughed as they trudged through the exit and into the night air. They breathed in relief, the crisp oxygen singing their lungs in glory.

A massive explosion was in the horizon.

"Someone's having fun. Let's go."

HoL:TS

Clickclickclickclickclick.

"ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THIS!?" Riku screamed from the roller coaster. The wind blew fiercely and the moon shimmered off of his hair. It whipped about his face, and the cars clicked up the railing. Mickey was was fighting Remiel by himself by the lowest point of the drop of the ride. The Ferris wheel was destroyed, the tunnel of love was a stream of fire, and everything else was pretty much destroyed. This thing was almost dead, its armor dented to pieces, darkness leaking out all over it. It swung down, a massive white beam soaring from it. It sliced right through the coaster track, just like Mickey said it would.

Clickclickclickclickclick.

"Okay, all I have to do is jump at the right moment," Riku muttered to himself. He was grabbing onto the car with a death grip, the locking mechanism broken. It climbed to the absolute zenith of the hill, the three hundred foot drop right below.

Click.

And he began to plummet. The hair bashed him in the face, and Remiel moved closer to Mickey. Mickey, then cast a Graviga on its head, disorienting it before he turned tail and scurried away. The cars were accelerating and Riku jumped at the last moment in a massive pool near the roller coaster. He plunged and then whipped around underwater to see a blurry image of the cars connecting with Remiel's head and letting off a massive explosion, fire curled to the sky.

About time, he thought as he swam upwards.

HoL:TS

"Move faster," some blonde-haired man snapped at Sora, striking him in the back of the head. Sora was not constricted, but he couldn't do anything with this man and Sephiroth escorting him. He would try, but it would be useless. That, and for the fact he was all by himself, on a hostile world. He would never survive, so why bring his death earlier?

"You know, Sora, you'll be happy to know this," Sephiroth told him icily, his voice bouncing off of the steel walls.

"I don't believe you. You're a bad person," Sora told him. And that's what he believed. Sephiroth merely chuckled.

"Your little sweet Kairi is here. And she brought your friends. I hope she would know that it is futile to try and rescue you," Sephiroth told him. Sora's cheeks burned.

"You're wrong," he said through gritted teeth.

"We'll see," the scientist said.

HoL:TS

Kairi's body zoomed up a long shaft of a tower, an elevator taking them up hundreds of feet in seconds. Everyone had survived their fights, and all the Remiels all were destroyed. Riku was sopping wet and irritated; Mickey just chuckled at him. They came to a stop and were greeted by Nobodies and Heartless. They dispatched of them as quickly as they could and ran up to the Altar of Naught.

HoL:TS

"KAIRI!" Sora shouted, running over to her as he saw here emerge up onto the Altar of Naught platform. "Run, now-"

"Enough!" Maleficent shouted from behind them. Flanking her on either side were different people. Her allies, Sora knew. Before he could summon his Keyblade, she brought up a hand and froze them all. Sora's body couldn't move an inch. Only his deep blue eyes could move around.

"Now, now, I must thank you so much for bringing Kairi here to me, Mickey," Maleficent said to him. If Sora could look over, he would, but for now, he only listened.

"See, I have been waiting for this moment for a long time," she said as Sephiroth walked over and took the frozen Kairi from the group, taking her to the other six Princesses. They were all asleep. "Ever since I have returned, Sora, from your meddlesome murder of me, I have been planning, and thinking. I know I cannot defeat you without the power of Kingdom Hearts, nor could I defeat you by myself. You have too many friends that you hide behind. I have promised you my revenge, but I must save that for later. Like I said, I could not destroy you without being threatened by every friend or ally you have. That is why I must acquire Kingdom Hearts, so I may take over all worlds, and mold them into my vision. As for your allies, well, I have some of my own," she motioned with her pale hand. He black cloak fluttered in the wind. Sora's heart felt drenched with ice. She was going to win.

"You already know Sephiroth, Hades, Kefka and the Joker, do you not?" Maleficent asked. She was amused, even as Kefka did a fancy, jumpy pirouette into a low bow.

"Did you enjoy my explosives from Olympus? I worked extra hard on them! Ohehehe!" he said. Sora's blood boiled.

"Ah, you do not know this man," she said. She motioned to a man on her right. He had blonde hair, slicked back as if her were from the fifties. A pair of slim, pitch shades rested on his face. Lightning struck in the distant, and for a moment, Sora could see them glow red. He wore black … everything. And it was all leather, except for his cotton shirt. From his gloves and combat boots to his pants. Around it all was a black trench coat that came down to his ankles. Two silver guns were holstered at his hips.

He opened his mouth and the sound of his voice was sharp but charismatic, as if he had won thousands of women over … and killed them all in their sleep.

"Hello. My colleague here is quite right. You do not know me, but ah, do I know you. It is because of I that you have had the trouble of these new Heartless, these new breeds I should say. Also, the Archangels you have so ignorantly destroyed were my pets. My name is Albert Wesker, and I'm … thrilled to meet you," he said with a bone-chilling voice.

"I will make my presence know now, for I have matters to attend to in my own world," a deep, evil, dark voice said. It shook the entire Altar and it radiated true power.

"My name is Sauron, The Enemy of all Middle-earth and anyone that opposes me," and with that, his presence vanished.

The other female glided forward. She hovered gracefully off of the ground, wings fluttering behind her. They were green and white and and blue, transcending and mixing with each other. She wore and white dress. A blue vest wrapped around it. At the hem of her dress, intricate light blue patterns weaved in the dark blue. Azure hair splayed down her back with a finite green faded in the ends. Shining green eyes stared at them. Pointed ears lay gracefully back, stretching to azure tips.

"Hello my adorable critters, I am Muzét, please enjoy yourselves... while you can," she said in an angelic, sinister voice and she drifted back. As compared to her beautiful figure, a monster of a man was beside her. He shook his disheveled red hair, stroking his beard. He had a golden head piece that matched all the pieces on his armor, silver as the moon. He stood with a massive sword at his side.

"My name is not worthy of you, but you may think of me as Ganondorf," he said in a dark, gruff voice. Golden eyes glimmered with hatred. Maleficent smiled.

"And now, for the main course," she said. She climbed onto the Altar itself and had the Princesses arranged around her. She held her staff to the heavens.

"Kingdom Hearts! I hath brought forth those which conquer thine domain. Unleash thy power and bestoweth it upon me, so I may conquer all those that oppose me!"

The ground trembled and the Heart-shaped moon in the sky blasted out in radiance, waves of luminescence shining on all standing there. A beam from each Princess seeped from their bodies and twirled together, becoming one and infusing into Maleficent's staff. It raised and spun, glowing in supreme power. There powers coalesced into it. When it finished, she caught it in midair. It glowed with power and brimmed with energy. She cast it up.

"OPEN NOW AND FILL ME WITH YOUR DARKNESS!"

HoL:TS

I'ltorien
September 30, 2010

"Is Naga SURE of this?" Merlina asked Tiki as the duo of strangely eared women walked down the hallway. She had to admit that there was something… strange about what she had felt.

"Why are the doubts only surfacing now Merlina?" Tiki asked, genuinely curious. Merlina had never shown doubts about this plan before, why start now?

"It's just… while I do sense a pure light approaching, the other is… tainted," Merlina said, contemplating the outside of the castle, the setting sun greeting the mage.

"It is true, and I am worried of it, but mother assures he is the one, the one that will wield the Sword of Hallowed Ash," Tiki assured, opening a door to enter the food hall. Looking around, she saw a giant crowd at the distance, concentrated around one table. Raising an eyebrow, Tiki and Mer approached the table, using a float spell to watch from above. Their mouths nearly hit the ground.

"Don't give up Ike!"

"It's your title on the line here!"

"It's just a bag of bones, you gotta have a bigger stomach!"

The crowd cheered as towers of bowls and plates were erected from the table in question, blue and blonde hair fighting for culinary supremacy. Ike and Christina had downed enough food to feed an entire squadron by themselves, in what seemed to be an improvised eating competition. The problem? The muscled mercenary was clearly at his limit, while the skinny teen still calmly ate at a chicken wing with both grace and speed. Then, it happened.

"I… quit…" Ike mumbled before falling headfirst into his plate, pork splattering everywhere. The crowd roared:

"The champion has been defeated!"

"The man with the appetite of a dragon has been surpassed!"

"All hail Christina, Mistress of… Cuisine?!"

Seemingly unaware of the cheering, Christina simply exhaled, took a sip of her drink and smiled, saying:

"That was a satisfying dinner, oh, Tiki, what brings you here?" Apparently completely oblivious that someone had just made her dinner an eating competition.

It took a while for Tiki and Mer to snap out of it, but while Mer was rolling on the floor because of it, Tiki knew she was on duty. So she proclaimed:

"We need you Christina," receiving a questioning glance from the room.

"The Harbinger is nigh."

HoL:TS

The top of the tower of King's division was no simple roof. No, it was much more than that. You see, King's division, the Lightbringer division, was the "Hand of the Emperor," being that they were the first ones to respond to the Emperor's orders, for that they were also the ones forced to train the hardest as they would constantly need it and, true to the same mindset of the facility, whoever could not keep up was expendable. You may be questioning how does this tie in. It is quite simple actually. The top of the tower was a giant dueling arena. While normally abandoned for its obvious risks, more often than what King would like, the Emperor would order duels… even his soldiers would settle a feud 270 feet above ground level, with turbulent winds just waiting to reap you and no security on the edge of the arena, all for glory. Tor had been here quite some times in his quest for the top. Him? Once he had been here, no one else had dared to challenge his authority past then.

Yet, here he was, at the top of the tower, silver cape flowing at the winds as he faced down his own sister in all but blood, Eighteen. He hoped for the best, as this was the safest place in the tower to talk, as being caught in it by another person would make you unable to refuse a duel to the death if he so wanted to. However, he was not naïve.

"So, you have taken a liking to Lightning recently, haven't you?" Eighteen questioned almost innocently. In any other circumstance, King would think she was implying something of the relationship variant, but not now.

"Maybe I have, maybe I haven't," he decided to play along, he wanted Eighteen to reveal her hand first. A good player never goes on a limb with his bet.

"Tsk, you're always the same, "Frost King." You look so cold on the outside but you're the opposite on the inside, just like your 'ice'," she said, mocking the people who believed King's crystals to be simple ice. She pulled out a document. A schedule. "I was informed you took the night shift, leaving me to take the day shift with Tor." He half expected that she was just angry at that, but he knew better.

"Maybe I thought it was time for you to make u-" he tried to say, but got a mouthful of schedule.

"You, the laziest bastard to ever call himself a general… took the freaking night shift! Give me a break, how long do you think this lie will hold? How long will it be till Argovaron takes a look at this sudden change and comes asking for an explanation? Or better yet, Orlandeu?!" she shouted, ripping the schedule from his mouth.

"It'll hold long enough," he replied simply, getting an equally simple question.

"How long till you try it?" Eighteen asked, sadness and anger mixing in her tongue.

"Half a month at the latest. Orlandeu reviews submissions on the fifteenth after all. He knows almost as well as you do, he'll know," he explained, Eighteen slowly acknowledging it with a nod. A severe draft of wind then took the tower by storm, golden and brown hair riding the winds as both siblings stared at each other in complete and utter silence. They did not need to talk, they did not need to say what they were thinking, they did not need to explain why. They knew why, they knew what came from it.

And that was why King did not even need to see Eighteen draw the Quel'Delar, he knew it would happen. The Ferocity of the Scorned shone on the young night's sky, a start for anyone on the city below. Sighing, King drew his own elven star, Quel'Serrar, Bane of the Dragon King.

"I knew it had to come to this with you… You always preached it. You are with me or against me, that's what you mean, isn't it sister?" King asked with sorrow but acceptance. Snowflakes started hitting his cheeks as the air around Eighteen dropped to a temperate far below Zero Degrees Celsius, a pristine white aura of ice mana congregating around her. She bit her lip for a mere second, but nodded. "Well, for the first time in a long time… not for me, but for Cuore and Christina, I am against you!" he roared, the ground around him erupting in crystal as an aura far more powerful than four years ago exploded at the top of the tower, illuminating the night's sky.

HoL:TS

Tiki flew through the darkened heavens, Christina and Merlina ridding on her back. They rode towards what she claimed to be the temple of the Ashbringer on Mìelthrì forest, the ceremonial grave of Tirion, whose body had never been found. It was there that the Harbinger would grace the land.

"How long do you think it will take for the Harbinger to come?" Merlina asked, to which Tiki replied:

"Mother said he would arrive as the bell of midnight rings its final toll," Tiki explained. Christina nodded, her mind and heart conflicted with doubts. Why had she come? Why had Tiki put such faith in her? Was she part of the prophecy?

None of this mattered as two very familiar mana streams arose in the distance. Christina quivered in shock as the capital was lit by the mana of the ones she called her family. Tiki cringed, knowing all too much whose they were.

"Those streams… they are…" Christina began, eyes watering in bliss and relief. One that quickly became despair as she realized the feelings imbued in those streams. "No… they can't be! They can't fight!" she cried, out, nearly jumping out of the dragon if not for Merlina restraining her. "Let me go! I'll lose them! I'll lose them all over again!"

"The world needs you Christina!" Tiki shouted, Merlina didn't. Merlina knew how she felt all too well.

"MY FAMILY NEEDS ME MORE!" she cried, crystalline droplets falling from her cheek as she uselessly struggled to head to the shining tower. "Please… don't leave me again…"

HoL:TS

He could not hold back. He could not hesitate. Hesitation meant loss, loss meant death or worse, service to the Empire. He owed Eighteen this much. He owed her a show of will.

A ball of ice appeared in front of Eighteen's free left hand, one that she crushed calmly in-between her hand, stopping the creation of all snowflakes. The temperature wildly fluctuated between King's heat and Eighteen's cold, until, for just a moment, time slowed down. It was time. King threw the Quel'Serrar to his left hand and readied his right one. If he was going to withstand what Eighteen was readying, he had to give it his all from the start.

"Diamond…" a frozen fist pulled back, stray tears adding to its power.

"Rozan…" like a tiger, it crouched. Like a dragon, it waited.

"DUST!" a tempest of ice was born.

"SHO RYU HA!" a golden dragon took flight.

And in the midst of it all, twin stars fell into the world as the tears of a girl cried out for her loved ones, the final bell ringing.

From the flames of conflict and strife, the Harbinger of Light arose.


TUH: And that was the last thing you'll see of I'ltorien until the sequel. *evil laughter*

TN: And that means you have me for the rest of the book!

TUH: Yaaaaaay!

TN: All sarcasm aside, Herald, I have the climax of book one to write. I hope I can impress! Also, I look forward to those ... two chapters.

TUH: Anyway *takes out a coconut* I'm going on vacation!

TN: Well, see ya, Herald! Remember to review! Also, tell us your thoughts on all of the new villains! We can't wait to see you next chapter!

Chapter XXIII: The Shattering

TUH: You should have seen that chapter title coming ... it's the title of the book.


May the Love of Anuwëy guide you when all Hope is lost

TorNathan
The Unknowing Herald