Crystal: okay I'm alive!

Anna: thank god, we were wondering where you were.

Crystal: I've been busy okay! School hasn't been the kindest to me. Plus, i got accepted into University and getting ready to graduate!

Lunar: good for you. :)

Oliver: anyway, can we continue on with the story, you've been holding this back for way too long.

Crystal: sorry sorry, but Land of the Dragons part 1 isn't my favorite part of Kingdom Hearts 2. heck, I even like Atlantis better. That and I've been working on something extra special with my editor.

Anna: with NinjaMonkeyGirl?

Crystal: yep, anyway, onto the disclaimers!

Disclaimers: I do not own Kingdom Hearts 2. I only own Anna, Lunar, and Oliver. Now, I hope you enjoy this chapter and please, no flames.


Chapter 8: Land of Dragons

It took us about three days to get to the next world. Mostly because about halfway to our next destination, Oliver told Donald to go back to Hollow Bastion. I don't know what Oliver said to Donald, but he looked at me with a sneaky grin that I really didn't like. While in Hollow Bastion though, I didn't see Oliver anywhere and no one knew where he was. It's kind of like he was a ghost… then again he's dead so maybe that counts. While in Hollow Bastion, thankfully Chip, Dale, and Cid worked on the Gummi Ship to make it more stable in space travel so that I wouldn't be as sick as I was on the way to Beast's Castle.

The only problem was that Oliver and Lunar haven't talked to me able the spells they wanted me to learn. Oliver avoided talking about it and Lunar hasn't even spoke to me since we left Beast's castle. I'm starting to wonder if they even have good intentions for the spells they're teaching me. I mean, I get that Oliver is most likely only teaching me his light spell for his personal gain but what does the spell Lunar has going to do to me. All they keep telling me is that they need to think. They're probably thinking of how to teach me the spell without the other one nagging at them.

Finally, four days after we left Beast's Castle, we arrived in the Land of the Dragons. Being slightly Chinese, it felt a little weird to be in this world. We landed in the Bamboo Forest and saw a familiar person cowering a little as the shadow of a dragon was silhouetted against a rock.

"A Heartless?" Donald asked, as Sora nodded.

"Let's get the jump on 'em." Sora said, as he and Donald inched closer.

"Gawrsh, maybe we better look before we leap." Goofy tried to reason with the others, but the two were already going.

"Goofy, I think we've learned just to let them learn their lesson." I sighed, shaking my head as Oliver watched them.

"Yeah well, they gotta learn to look before they leap…. Haven't they learnt that yet?"

"Nope." Goofy and I said, shaking our heads together. Sora and Donald ran in yelling causing the person and the dragon, who turned out to be very tiny, to scream and hold on to each other.

"Is that Mushu?" Goofy asked, and I nodded.

"Hey, Mushu!" I called out, grinning a little. Sure he wasn't my summoning partner but it's nice to see him again.

"That's right, I know you heard of me!" Mushu began to boast, as usual. "Now y'all scram before I get my dragon danger up!"

"Mushu! We missed you!" Sora shouted, looking really happy.

"Yeah, well you better HOPE I miss You, or else you're…" Mushu finally noticed us and gave a huge grin. "Sora, Anna, Donald, Goofy…. And some guy I don't know…"

"Hey!" Oliver yelled but I laughed.

"Do you know them?" The person asked…. Okay I'm Just gonna say it. It's Mulan!

"KNOW them?!" Mushu asked, jumping off of Mulan's shoulder and walked over to us. "Man, we used to kick all kinds of but together! Yeah, you know, I helped these guys out of a lot of tight spots. 'Cause I'm a mighty dragon! Right?" He looked up at Sora and me and I raised an eyebrow.

"Actually, I remember you and Sora making a fight worse. Remember the dragon that breathed green fire?" I said, smirking as Sora rubbed the back of his neck and looking embarrassed.

"Something like that. And… you are?" Sora asked Mulan.

"I'm Mulan." Mulan said, in her feminine voice but then realized her mistake. "Um, no, I… I mean…."

"Ping!" Mushu suggested.

"Mulan Ping?" Donald asked, raising an eyebrow as he crossed his arms.

"Just Ping. I am Ping, song of Fa Zhou." Mulan said, faking a manly voice.

"You know Mushu?" Sora asked.

"Mushu's one of my family's guardians." Mulan answered.

"We didn't know we were borrowin' somebody as important as a family guardian." Goofy said, looking a little shocked.

"Because he's not." Oliver muttered and I nodded.

"Well I am!" Mushu snapped at Oliver before going to settle back on Mulan's shoulder. "And that puts you four up to your eyeballs in debt to Ping here. You too one eye."

"Keep talking, Lizard." Oliver said, rolling his eyes.

"Well, guess what, kiddies? It's payback time!" Mushu said, looking at us expectantly.

"Mushu…" Mulan said in a scolding whisper.

"Ah, they don't mind. Ain't that right?" Mushu said, and I shrugged.

"I guess we can stay and help." I said, looking to Sora, who nodded.

"Sounds fair." Sora agreed.

"See, Ping here was just on his way to join the Imperial army." Mushu started to explain. "We gotta go find the other recruits over at the training camp."

"Would you join us? It'll be easier to fit in if I'm with guys, like you." Mulan said, but looked to me. "But you…"

"Because I'm a girl." I said with a sigh. "I know, don't worry."

"You're pretendin' to be a boy, aren't ya?" Goofy asked, and that shocked Sora and Donald.

"You're a… girl?!" Sora stammered.

"You didn't notice?" Mulan asked, timidly.

"Not me." Sora said, as he and Donald shook their heads.

"I think it's working." Mulan said hopefully.

"I don't know. Those two would fall for anything." Mushu pointed out.

"I'm right here!" Sora yelled, but Mulan looked to me.

"Anyway, if you want to help, you may want to pretend to be a guy." Mulan said, and I just shrugged.

"Actually, I didn't bring any guy clothes." I said. Heck, I wasn't really planning to be a part of the Imperial army. I was just gonna help scout the area on my own and use that time for training my wind form.

"Actually…" Oliver said, and held up a bag.

"No… you didn't." I said, and Oliver smirked.

"Go and try them on. Mulan, you think you can help her?" Oliver asked, and Mulan nodded. After Mulan helped me with a little wrapping around my chest (though really there wasn't much to show) I put on the clothes Oliver gave me. It was fairly simple really. Oliver just gave me black shorts and a red t-shirt with the white blazer I usually wear, my hair was also tied in a ponytail but…

"I don't even look or sound like a guy!" I shouted as Oliver looked down at me with a smug look on his face.

"We'll just say that you haven't reached puberty yet. You can at least pull that off." Oliver said, and I was ready to beat him with my keyblade. Heck, Lunar was cheering me on to do that! "Anyway, you gotta choose a guy name for yourself, Anna. Your name is a give away."

"Okay, I'll be Alan then." I said, shrugging.

"Good, now lets get going." Sora said, and we went down to the encampment. The whole camp was full of men, most with mustaches, but they all looked about in their late twenties.

"Great, I really stick out." I groaned, looking up at Oliver. "I knew this wasn't such a good idea."

"Well deal with it, we're already here." Oliver hissed and we went to the food line. Poor Mulan, not being used to acting like a guy, started walking weird.

"Act normal." I whispered to her. "You're attracting too much attention."

"Okay, thanks Anna." Mulan said, and I nodded but then I looked to the food line to see Sora and Donald got into a fight with some of the guys in the line.

"Oh for Pete sake." I said, face palming.

"Well, the short one did ask for it." Oliver pointed out, as Sora tried to punch Yao.

"Please!" Mulan shouted, and that got everyone's attention… but not in a good way.

"Please?" Ling asked, with a raised eyebrow.

"What a girl!" Yao said, as I rolled my eyes.

"Better than being a brut. You didn't have to push Sora since he was already in the line." I said, my arms crossed.

"You wanna piece of me too, kid?" Yao growled but I shook my head.

"No way. I don't need to cause unneeded fights. I'll save that for the enemy." I said, as Ling laughed.

"Right, and you can fight." Ling said, and I summoned my keyblade.

"Yes I can actually." I said, smirking a little.

"What a shrimp." Ling said, and I glared a little.

"Who you callin' a shrimp, panda lips? I'm a bona fide guardian dragon!" Mushu shouted but Mulan stuffed him back into her armor.

"L… lets just get back in line, okay?" Mulan tried to reason.

"Whose side are you on? I just got slugged!" Sora shouted, but I rolled my eyes.

"You could've been the adult and just ignored him. The guy isn't a real man anyway." I said, shrugging and Yao glared at me.

"What'd you say?"

"I said, you're not a man. Deal with it." I think I'm getting too comfortable in my guy role but it's true. Either that or I'm taking out all my frustration that I had on Oliver out on anyone…. That's not a good sign but that's most likely…

"Soldiers! Get back in line!" We all got into positions and I saw Shang, the leader of the army walking over to look at us before leaving.

"Man, that was close." I sighed, but then the first row of guys gasped. It was kind of evident on what was going on when a bunch of Heartless surrounded us.

"What are they?" Mulan asked, taking out her sword.

"Heartless." Sora said, and I looked to Mulan.

"Time to show everyone what you got." I said, and we charged in. Beating the Heartless wasn't too bad. I didn't really need to use magic for it, maybe because this time we had an army trying to fight the Heartless with us. Keyword being 'trying' because most of them didn't seem to know how to properly fight; then again I doubt they had much experience with fighting the Heartless. After the fight, Shang instantly called us over to his command tent. Sadly, Shang didn't call Mulan over but she came anyway to introduce herself.

"You five. What are you names?" Shang ordered.

"Sora."

"Alan."

"Oliver."

"Doanld."

"Goofy." We said, firmly but Shang looked at me.

"You look too young to be in the army." Shang pointed out.

"Believe me, I'm older than I look. Plus, we know how to fight those monsters." I said, and Shang nodded.

"Yes, I will admit that." Shang said, looking at us. "You're welcome in my troop. Your battle skills are encouraging." Finally, Mulan spoke.

"I am the son of Fa Zhou…"

"You should return home." Shang said, not even looking at Mulan, who was shocked and appalled.

"B… but… that would dishonor my family!" Mulan argued.

"You'd rather dishonor my troops?" Shang asked, coldly.

"Don't make me…!" Mulan shouted, looking upset and angry but faltered under Shang's gaze.

"Captain, I'm sure with a bit of training, Ping will get better at fighting." I reasoned as the others nodded furiously.

"Yeah, he'll get stronger in no time!" Sora added.

"Its only natural. The only way to improve is practice and this place is the best way to do it." Oliver concluded.

"Hmmm…" Shang thought for a minute before looking to us.

"Just give us an assignment! We'll show you how well we can work together." Sora said, eagerly as we nodded.

"So… you want to be tested?" Shang asked and thought for a minute before looking at us. "Our orders are to ambush Shan-Yu's army on their way here. They should be coming through the mountain pass."

"We'll smash them!" Donald said, a little too enthusiastically.

"I doubt that." Shang said, as Donald seemed to deflate. "You six will be the advance party. Scout out the Mountain for my troops."

"That's it? No problem." Sora said, grinning.

"We can do this, easily." Oliver said, looking to Mulan. Unlike us, Mulan looked nervous and scared. "Right, Ping?"

"R… right." Mulan managed to say.

"I'll brief you on the details tomorrow. Remember, the smallest mission may have the greatest purpose. Stay alert!" Shang said.

"Sir!" We shouted and we were dismissed. Once we were alone, Mulan sighed.

"That was nerve-wracking." Mulan sighed as we looked to her.

"Hey Ping, don't worry. We'll help you out." Sora said, and I nodded.

"We can use the scouting missions to give you tips on fighting. I notice you don't seem comfortable when fighting in that armor." I suggested, and Mulan nodded looking grateful.

"Thank you, Alan."

"Hey, what are friends for." I said, and with that we were busy. The next three days, we went through different scouting missions, moving on ahead and clearing away the Heartless in the area. Sadly, Mulan still wasn't fighting at her best but it seemed more like she was restricted by the heavy army armor rather than her abilities. Believe me, Mulan is an amazing fighter. The fights with the Heartless are helping since I can see her improvement when we're not in camp and fighting Heartless on our free time, while she's not wearing the armor. Also, her fighting skills while in her armor aren't exactly working in her favor with Shang either. It didn't help that Oliver and Shang seemed to get chummy; how? I have no idea!

"You did well." Shang said, after we finished another scouting mission. Oliver was standing next to him and seemed to be proud of himself.

"I knew it!" Sora said, proudly and for good reason.

"Captain…" Mulan said, as Shang looked to her.

"I suppose you've made a little progress…" Shang said.

"Not a little, a lot!" Donald shouted.

"But Shang is right. Ping is at least able to hold his own in battle, but he doesn't seem comfortable in it." Oliver pointed out.

"You're right, Oliver, Captain." Mulan said, looking serious. I smiled a little to see how confident Mulan has gotten over the past few days. "This time, I'll show you what I'm truly made of!"

"I'll give you one more chance." Shang said and I think I saw a ghost of a smile on his face. "See me tomorrow morning when you're ready to depart. Remember, this may be a test, but it's still an important mission. Be alert!"

"Sir!" We shouted, and we left.

"You're getting a lot stronger, Ping." I said, smiling as Mulan sighed.

"But the Captain…"

"I know but in the short few days, you've done a good job." I said, patting Mulan's back and grinning.

"And besides, Oliver is right, you need to get used to fighting more." I said, and Mulan grinned sheepishly. "Anyway, lets get some food. I'm starving."

"Yes, and Alan… I can't thank you and the others enough for helping me." Mulan said, and I shrugged.

"Hey, we would've helped you even if we didn't owe Mushu one." I said, and together Mulan and I trained for the rest of the day. I think since we started training together, I've become used to fighting physically. Sure magic is my best form of battle but this is at least helping me a little. Oliver seems to be pleased with this, which kind of puzzled me. The next morning though, Shang looked to me.

"Alan, you'll be teaming with Oliver today."

"What? Aren't I going with the others?" I asked, as Oliver walked to me.

"We have some training to do so we'll be moving on ahead of everyone else." Oliver said, and I felt a little tense. I don't exactly trust Oliver after what happened in Beast's castle. He used to be so nice and goofy but now, he just did a whole change. As I walked with Oliver to the summit, Oliver stopped in his tracks.

"Why'd you stop, Oliver?"

"We need to at least start training you to use that spell." Oliver said, and I shook my head.

"Not until you tell me why you want me to learn such a dangerous spell! I could've been really hurt that last time!" I shouted, not caring now. I couldn't believe Oliver had befriended Shang just to get me alone to train! This guy is impossible! He's making Taios look like a friendly neighbor!

"Look, I do have my reasons for teaching you this spell." Oliver said, and when I looked at him I was shocked to see the sorrow and regret in his eyes. Again, I began thinking about what had happened while he was Destiny Keeper. "The spell is very powerful but it needs to have a strong user so that it wouldn't hurt you in battle. I managed to master it while I was the Destiny Keeper and that spell can make the difference if you are trying to do something." I stared at him when I tried to register what he was saying.

"Oliver, you can't think that spell can defy destiny. We're strictly forbidden from doing something like that." I said, quietly but Oliver's eyes flashed with anger.

"We can at least try! We're given the chance to live this life but we can only watch and guide! We can't even protect the ones we hold most!" Oliver shouted, and it looked like he said too much.

"You used that spell to protect someone? Who?" I asked, but Oliver wouldn't look at me.

"It's nothing… right now, I'm not teaching you the spell. I'm just gonna prep your body to be ready to use the spell." Oliver said, taking out his sais. "We're going to keep fighting till sunset; nonstop."

"What?" I asked, but Oliver just charged at me and I had no choice but to block him.

"Come on, Anna! You'll never win if you keep defending yourself!" Oliver shouted at me as I kept pushing him back.

"You just challenged me out of nowhere! How else would anyone react!" I shouted back, managing to slash at Oliver, who jumped back.

"Keep, attacking! Build up your strength!" Oliver kept yelling and I lost track of how much time passed. By the time the sun went down, I had fallen to the ground. My entire body was sore and Oliver sighed as he picked me up. I think he must've thought I was asleep since I closed my eyes… they were too heavy to lift now.

"You still have a long way to go, Anna."

"No she doesn't." I heard Lunar appear behind Oliver but he didn't say anything. "Oliver, the Light Barrage is a powerful spell but it's best used for Keepers who not only are strong enough, but have nothing else to lose. You know that Anna's more capable at magic, why can't you let her go her own way?"

"Because she'll have the chance that I can't." Oliver said and I wasn't sure what kind of emotion he was projecting: sadness, regret, anger, darkness, or maybe all of them.

"Oliver, I know you have your reasons but if you keep teaching Anna this spell; you won't get your revenge. Her body can't take it." Lunar tried to reason but Oliver carried me away to the town where Sora and the army were staying. I know for a fact that Lunar is right. I'm not physically strong at all, which is why I use magic mostly in battle. But with Oliver teaching me this spell, I feel like my body is gonna fall apart. As I lay on my mat for the night, Lunar was there using healing spells to help my body recover; muttering under her breath on how Oliver is going too far and how she's regretting letting Oliver even near me. I would've asked more about Oliver's past but I was in a lot of pain and just fell to sleep as the cure spells soothed my aching body.

The next day was a recovery day for everyone. All the men relaxed and I was stuck in bed, trying to regain feeling in my arms, legs, and everything that moved in my body. At least Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Mulan kept me company. Mushu ran off somewhere, probably looking for something juicy to get Mulan's family honor and thus helping himself. Mulan told me she's slowly gaining Shang's respect as well from the other men in camp and honestly I'm happy for her. But I'm slightly dreading what's gonna happen next. Finally, the next day Mushu came to us in my room.

"Okay, girl! Here's your chance!" Mushu cheered, as he got on top of a table to look at us. "I just saw this real shady guy. And I know it's Shan-Yu."

"Shan-Yu?!" Mulan shouted, shocked.

"That's the Hun leader!" Sora said, as Oliver thought a little.

"Guess we're really close to him now. He also probably knows where we are too." Oliver said, and I nodded.

"Makes sense, I saw his falcon flying while on the way here." I said, but Sora looked at me with his eyes wide.

"We've got to tell the Captain!"

"Right!" Mulan agreed, but Mushu looked annoyed.

"Wait, wait, wait, WAIT!" He shouted, making me jump a little. For a little dragon, he sure has a big set of lungs. "Everybody use their heads a sec. Now, why are we here? To make the Captain see Mulan's… I mean, Ping's talents and bring honor to her family." Mushu said, as everyone looked in thought for a minute but nodded. "So, let's go find out where Shan-Yu is, by ourselves. Then, if we're lucky, we can fry him up good! Though just tracking the gown down should earn us out stars, Captain Muscle-head will have to notice my girl!" We all looked to Mulan, who was still thinking.

"Well, it's your call." I said, and Mulan nodded.

"Okay, lets go." Mulan said, seriously. I smiled at little at seeing how determined she was. Makes me almost forget what's gonna happen next; almost.

"We'll help out." Sora added as Mushu looked pleased.

"Now we're cookin'!" Mushu said, looking really excited. "Shan-Yu is in a cave outside the village!"

"Guys, what if this is a trap?" I asked, and Sora looked to me.

"Is this one of your 'I know things you don't' moments?" Sora asked, and I nodded. "Is it a trap?"

"Sort of…"

"Then why are we going?" Donald asked, looking annoyed.

"Because it'll make the person who set up the trap curious on how we knew to begin with." Oliver argued. He didn't look happy about walking right into a trap but he did have a point. Which led me to wonder a few things. If Shan-Yu set up the trap for us, does he know about the keyblade? Did the Organization tell him about us? Probably not them, they would've turned him into a Heartless instead. I think Shan-Yu was someone Pete tried to recruit but Shan-Yu turned on the giant fat cat… probably a good move on Shan-Yu's part. Anyway, we entered to cave to see nothing. But there was a tiny shrine in the back of the cave.

"Dead end." Sora commented, looking at the lit torches on the walls.

"There's nobody here…" Donald added, looking annoyed.

"You're crazy. Check again!" Mushu ordered from Mulan's shoulder.

"Oh, well… guess it wasn't a trap after all." Donald said, making to leave.

"Wait for me, Donald!" Goofy shouted, running after his duck friend. Oliver didn't say anything but quickly followed too.

"Hey, wait up!" Sora shouted too as we made to follow them. But we stopped when the whole cave began to shake.

"It's an earthquake!" I shouted, using my keyblade to help me keep steady; much to Lunar's annoyance.

"Get out of there!" Oliver shouted but it was too late. He ran into to help but was thrown back by a barrier.

"Sora!"

"Ping!" Donald and Goofy shouted, as the three of us summoned our weapons. A bunch of Heartless appeared, trapping us against the barrier.

"Oliver, you guys go help the village!" I shouted, looking to Oliver, Donald, and Goofy. "Shan-Yu is gonna attack the village! Get everyone to safety and we'll meet us with you!"

"But…" Donald started, but Oliver nodded. I might have been imagining it but Oliver seemed a little proud.

"We'll do it, Anna. You just better come back alive." Oliver said, and the three ran out.

"Ping, call this training. You better thing on your feet." I said, and Mulan nodded.

"Right." We ran in and fight the Heartless as best as we could. The smaller Heartless we can each beat on our own. The larger centaur like Heartless, we have to work together to just beat one and we had to deal with two at the same time. It took us probably forty-five minutes to really beat all the Heartless, I kind of had to stop fighting as act as healer for Sora and Mulan since they were getting really hurt by the centaur like Heartless and I wasn't taking much damage since I knew to shoot it with spells from a distance.

"Everyone okay?" I asked, after the last Heartless was defeated.

"Yeah, thanks to Ping." Sora said, as Mulan looked a little proud of herself.

"C'mon! Time to report to the Captain!" Mushu said, jumping out of Mulan's armor. "We outta tell him about…"

"We don't have time of that, the village is being attacked, remember?" I said, and we quickly ran out. I was shocked as the ash in the air seemed to hit me like a blow to my chest. Some of the buildings were still on fire and I could see Oliver directing people towards safe areas. I was kind of shocked to see how at ease he was as he did this. It was like he did stuff like this before. Donald and Goofy were finishing off the last of the Heartless and we ran over to Shang, who was resting against the remains of a building; most likely injured.

"Captain!" Mulan shouted, running to his side. "The enemy! Where did they go?"

"They went toward the summit…" Shang strained to say and I quickly preformed a Curaga spell on him. Shang looked a little better but his burns were still healing. He tried to get up but ended up falling back on his bum.

"Don't overdo it, Captain." Sora urged.

"He's right, we'll go after them." I said, as Oliver, Donald, and Goofy joined us.

"It kinds is our fault." Goofy said, looking guilty. Shang nodded and was taken away by a few of the other soldiers.

"Right." Mulan agreed, as Mushu jumped out of her armor.

"You mean my fault." Mushu said, miserably.

"Uh-uh!" Donald urged as Oliver nodded.

"Donald's right. But that means a few things." We all looked to Oliver who seemed to be thinking carefully. He was thinking so hard, he didn't seem to notice his bangs were moving in the wind, revealing his burn. I didn't realize how bad his burn was! The right side of his face was burned so bad, he right eye didn't seem to even be in the socket! At least Zuko from the Avatar series was able to use his burned eye. Oliver's been fighting with one eye this whole time…. Guess he must've gotten used to it but still…

"Oliver, your eye…." Sora said, shocked and pointing. Oliver gave him a glare that just stopped Sora right in his tracks…. Never thought I'd see a guy on the side of good give Sora the evil ice glare.

"Don't ask." Oliver growled and everyone took a step away from him. It took a minute for Oliver to realize what he was doing and sighed. "Sorry about that. Anyway, it seems Shan-Yu may know more than he lets on. He must've known about Mushu following him earlier."

"So we're playing into his hands…" Sora said, and Oliver nodded.

"So it's not your fault, Mushu. Shan-Yu is just messing with us." Oliver said, and we looked up at the mountain. "Come on, we got a pay a certain invader a visit."

"Right… lead the way, Oliver." I said, and Olive stared at me. I gave him an encouraging smile and Oliver seemed to glow in a way. He was back in his element, he was guiding people like he would've done as the Destiny Keeper. With him in the lead, we worked our way up to the summit. There was one issue I noticed while we were moving. I knew that Shan-Yu had an army of Heartless. There were some harder Heartless to battle during this but they are easy to get rid of with light magic. There were smaller Heartless best kind of fighters, they were pretty easy to beat but there were more of them than some of the harder Heartless. We'll be over whelmed by the sheer number of Heartless and we don't exactly have a field advantage either since the Heartless are stationed up the slope and we're on lower ground. Sure enough, when we got to the summit, Shan-Yu was there with his Heartless army.

"Okay everyone, spread out and take out as many as you can." Oliver ordered.

"Got it." Sora said, as we all got into battle positions.

"Attack!" We heard Shan-Yu shot from above and the Heartless began to rain down. Quickly, we spread out and started attacking the Heartless. Okay, when I did this with Ven and Hercules, it wasn't as bad. The three of us made a good team and also the fact that Hercules was a strong as he was, helped a lot. Fighting on my own, even with all my light spells wasn't really enough to make a dent in mass of Heartless around me.

"Can't you guys just leave me alone already!?" I shouted, shooting Lunar Storms all around me but the Heartless were beginning to move in closer. I felt nothing but anger, disappointment in myself, and a slight realization. I was weak. I wasn't physically strong like Sora or Riku. All I can do is magic and once I run out of energy, I'm done for.

I kind of wasn't sure what I was doing, but I raised my keyblade and use a fire spell, but instead that freaky and powerful light shot out and destroyed all the Heartless surrounding me. The downside, I was thrown to the ground and I landed on my shoulder. I cried out in pain as I tried to move.

"Damn it." I growled, sitting up.

"Anna!" I turned to see Sora and the others running to me. Thank god the men of the army weren't here yet, that would've really blown our cover.

"I'm okay." I groaned, as Goofy helped me up.

"Thankfully, nothing's broken." Oliver observed. "You should be better with a hi-potion."

"We don't have time for this!" Sora shouted, pointing up as Shan Yu came at us again, leading the next wave of Heartless down towards us.

"Damn it." Oliver growled.

"Stand back."

"We'll handle this." We looked to see Yao, Ping, and Chien Po coming with a single rocket. At once, Mulan snatches the rocket and aims it at the peak of the summit.

"You're going the wrong way!" Mushu screamed as he was set flying along with the rocket. The explosion of course, caused the start of the avalanche.

"Yes!" Mulan cheered.

"Captain?" Sora gasped, and we looked to see Shang and a few of his men following behind him. Well, I never got why he suddenly appeared now in the game… but he does have bad timing.

"In coming!" Oliver shouted, as the avalanche came at us. I was about to run but something pulled me and I was inside a corridor of darkness.

"What the?" I started but a voice stopped me.

"It's okay, just calm down." I knew that voice, well sort of. It was deep and kind of used to belong to an enemy but he's been dead for the last year; which only meant it had to be…

"Riku?" I asked, and I looked up to see the tall hooded figure behind me.

"Here." Riku handed me a potion and I drank it gingerly. "What spell did you use earlier?"

"Huh?" I looked at him, and I couldn't see Riku's eyes because of the hood… but I knew he was staring. "That spell just kind of… came out. Oliver has been trying to get me to learn it." Riku was silent for a moment but then took my hand.

"Come on, we have to get you back to Sora." Riku said, making to leave but I didn't move.

"Riku, at least give Sora a sign your okay, please? He's been worried about you." I said, and Riku didn't look at me.

"You probably know why." Riku said, quietly and I felt bad. Of course I knew the truth, but I never said it to Sora for Riku's sake. But I can't help but feel for Sora. He may not show it but he's always worried about his friends.

"Still, just do it. Even the smallest sign would do." I pleaded and Riku didn't say a word until we got out of the corridor of darkness. We stood together in front of the gate leading into the Imperial City, the doors open and I'm guessing Shang and his men already made it through… how long was I gone with Riku?

"Oh, and Anna…" I turned to see Riku turning away. "You may want to change back into your regular clothes… though tying your hair up like that didn't really disguise the fact you're a girl…"

"Hey!" I shouted, and I wasn't sure if Riku was smiling or not. Still, with Riku's back turned, I changed back into my regular outfit (with the accursed skirt).

"Will I see you again?" I asked, turning to Riku but he still had his back to me.

"I'll check up on you every once in a while… but I'm going to look after Kairi." Riku said, and I nodded.

"That's probably the best idea. Since the Organization needs Sora and me… they'll most likely go after Kairi to get at both of us…" I said, putting my hands in my pocket, feeling the little mushroom charm. I couldn't bear to think of Amy and Amanda got involved in this again. Then again, I'm not sure how much time has passed now between us. I just hope they're safe.

"I'll keep watch and I'll tell you if anything happens." Riku said, and I nodded.

"Okay…" Riku opened the corridor again but I hugged him from behind. "Be careful, Riku…" I said, and I looked up to see Riku nodding.

"I will." I let Riku go and he walked into the dark corridor. As much as I care for Riku, I can't do much to help him. He's done so much and now he's willing to walk his path alone. Still, I'm proud of him and I smiled a little. He's becoming a very worthy keyblade wielder.

"Anna!" I turned to see Sora and the others running to me. I noticed Mulan was dressing normally and I was kind of glad that I missed the unmasking bit.

"Where were you?!" Donald shouted, looking pretty angry.

"Sorry, I kind of snuck away…" I said, but Oliver looked to me with his arms crossed.

"You couldn't have escaped with us during the avalanche. You could've been killed." Oliver said, and his eyebrow raised a little. "So how…"

"Hey, your shoulder is healed." Goofy pointed out.

"Yeah, I did that. I used a cure spell on it and had a potion." I said, quickly but Sora seemed to know the truth.

"Riku saved you, didn't he?" Sora said, and I sighed.

"Yeah, he was here but only for a minute." I said, but Sora started grinning like an idiot.

"He's okay! We'll see him soon!" Sora cheered, as Donald looked to me.

"We gotta hurry though!"

"Donald is right." Mulan said, looking to me. "Shan Yu is still alive, and he's heading to the Imperial City."

"Then lets stop talking and get going." I said, and we ran through the gates and into the city. The streets were filled with people but army traveled towards the palace.

"Shang!" Mulan shouted as we managed to get pass the crowd and to catch up to the captain. "Shan-Yu is alive! He's headed this way!"

"And why should I believe you this time?" Shang asked, and looked to me. "So… you're alive, and also lied to us."

"Captain, we're telling the truth. You didn't find Shan-Yu's body so it's possible he's alive." I said, crossing my arms.

"Exactly, Mulan's telling the truth." Sora urged, as Oliver looked up at the sky.

"And if you want proof. Look up at the sky." Oliver said pointing up into the air. We all looked to see a very familiar falcon circling the sky ominously.

"Um… Anna, Oliver? Is that…" Donald asked, nervously pointing to a roof on left tower at a figure up there.

"Yep, that's Shan-Yu." I said, and Shang went straight into action.

"Guard the palace! Do not let the enemy get anywhere near the Emperor!" Shang ordered, as half the army went into battle, the rest didn't move from their spots in line. "That's an order!"

"They're not your soldiers!" Oliver shouted, and the men turned into some Heartless right before our eyes. Guess the Heartless just took the spots of the soldiers that may have died either during the attack on the village or the avalanche… smart move. Everyone around us screamed and quickly ran away as the Heartless began to grow in numbers.

"Captain! We'll secure the courtyard, and you can save the Emperor!" Sora shouted, as we got ready fro a battle.

"Hey, Oliver, go help Shang out." I said, and Oliver didn't object. I mostly didn't want him near me in case he encouraged me to use that horrid light spell again. Shang on the other hand, looked a little concerned and even doubtful at leaving us behind to deal with the now mob of Heartless by ourselves.

"That's an order!" Donald shouted, smiling a little at the captain. With a small nod, Shang and Oliver ran to the palace leaving us to battle the mob.

"Save up your energy guys. After this we gotta fight Shan Yu!" I shouted, charging in, firing blizzard spells as I went.

"You got it!" Sora yelled back, slashing at what looked like a cannon Heartless. I have to say, watching Mulan fight without her armor on, she's pretty good. She seemed to be more comfortable and flexible without be restrained by the armor and her thoughts on how men fight. Mushu himself proved to be useful too, shooting fire balls at any Heartless trying to attack us from behind. Guess the little dragon improved while Sora and I were sleeping. Finally, it think it might have been thirty minutes before we finished fighting the Heartless army.

"The Emperor's in danger!" Mulan shouted, and we quickly ran after her towards the palace. Okay, I get that the palace in the Forbidden City is huge and all…. But I'd guess it was made smaller for the game. Nope. We ran up the long road towards the palace and climbed the stairs. By the end of it, we had to quickly drink some potions to get our energy back up before facing Shan-Yu. It seemed Shang and Oliver tried to stop Shan-Yu… but that didn't work out well. Both were on the ground as Shan-Yu had his blade to the Emperor's neck.

"Now you'll bow to me." Shan-Yu said, but the Emperor didn't flinch.

"Not before we have anything to say about it!" I shouted as we summoned our weapons. I didn't notice Oliver and Shang looking at each other before nodding. I was surprised at how fast Oliver was, jumping up and quickly punching Shan-Yu in the face.

"Good one!" Sora cheered, giving him the thumbs up.

"Anna," I looked to Oliver, who looked serious, "can you finish off Shan-Yu on your own? I'm gonna help Shang."

"You bet, I've been doing this for a while now." I said, and for once Oliver gave a reassuring smile. He and Shang quickly escorted the Emperor into the palace and Ling and Chien Po closed the heavy doors. Shan-Yu, furious now, ran towards the door but we beat him to it.

"It ends now!" Mulan shouted, her sword raised.

"Right now!" Sora shouted. But I noticed something different about Shan-Yu. He seemed to radiate darkness as he just laughed at us. I think Sora noticed because he looked at me.

"I think you can take him…"

"Just watch out for that bird of his." I whispered to him. "We have to make sure he doesn't break down this door."

"Don't worry, we got this." Goofy said, his shield at the ready.

"I will not be beaten by mere children." Shan-Yu started, roaring with rage and a bunch of Heartless started to appear.

"What the?" Donald quacked.

"He summoned them!" I shouted, slashing at the closest one.

"Donald, Goofy, try to beat the Heartless coming towards the gate! We'll deal with Shan-Yu!" Sora shouted, and he, Mulan, Mushu, and I charged into battle.

"Well then, this should be amusing." Shan-Yu grinned darkly as I got in front of him. Sora, Mulan, and Mushu were busy keeping the falcon from swooping down and clawing my eyes out.

"Don't count me out." I said, and blocked one of Shan-Yu's attacks. I barely managed to keep my footing as he tried to push me back.

"You can't over power me." Shan-Yu growled in satisfaction.

"Not physically anyway." I said, moving away and letting Shan-Yu stumble a little. "Lunar Storm!" I shouted, and finally my normal light spell shot out of my keyblade and I could only here Shan-Yu's screams as he was engulfed in a blizzard like storm of light. Once the light faded, Shan-Yu looked a little worn out. "Mulan, you give the finishing blow!"

"What?" Mulan asked, shocked.

"You joined the army to give your family honor. Finish it off by defeating China's enemy." I said, and Mulan nodded.

"Right." Mulan charged and struck Shan-Yu down, leaving him on the ground. If he's dead or not, I'll let the army deal with it for now. I don't wanna think we murdered a man… But as I watched him, he seemed to start to fade away. I looked around and I noticed a figure in a black coat leaving through a corridor of darkness… I wonder… did the Organization give Shan-Yu dark powers to turn him into a Heartless and a Nobody? Well, I guess we did do something good then. Or it could've been Riku making sure we're okay. I mean, I know it wasn't Mickey, the ears would've given him away.

"Now that's what I'm calling burning some hunny-bun!" Mushu cheered and doing his little victory circle dance, not noticing I wasn't celebrating. "Aw, yeah! Mulan's the best! Mulan's the best! No, wait a minute. I'm the best! Mushu's the best! Mushu's the best!"

"Anna? What's wrong?" Goofy asked, noticing I was still looking where I saw the Organization person.

"I thought I saw someone in a black coat." I said, and Sora raised an eyebrow.

"You mean like from the Organization?"

"Yeah." I said, and Donald crossed his arms.

"They probably wanted to keep an eye on us." Donald said, and I nodded.

"Or they could've done the same thing they tried to do with Beast." Goofy suggested, and all of us shuddered.

"Guys, what's wrong?" Mulan asked, and I shook my head.

"Nothing, anyway, we should tell the other's its safe now." Sora said.

"No need." We looked to see Oliver, Shang, and the Emperor coming out.

"Attention!" Shang called, add we stood together in a line. Oliver though didn't live Shang's side as the Emperor walked to stand in front of us.

"I've heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan." The Emperor started, looking to the Chinese girl beside us. Mulan actually walked out of the line and bowed deeply to her emperor. "You stole your father's armor, ran away from home, impersonated an Imperial soldier, you deceived your commanding officer, shamed the entire Chinese army, and dishonored your family name."

"Talk about harsh." I said, looking behind us to see the crowds had returned.

"We get the picture." Sora sighed exasperatedly, and even a small pained look on his face.

"You're a young woman. And in the end…" The Emperor said, and I noticed Sora, Donald, and Goofy bracing themselves for the worst, "you have saved us all." Much to Mulan's shock, the Emperor now bowed to Mulan and that prompted everyone else… except Sora, Donald, Goofy, Oliver, and me, to bow to Mulan as well. I couldn't help but laughing a little as we cheered at Mulan's success. I think Sora didn't care if he wasn't mentioned, after all we did all of this to help Mulan.

"Your Excellency!" Mulan said, smiling as she bowed her head to the Emperor.

"Captain Li." The Emperor said, not looking at the man behind him. Shang nodded and carried Shan-Yu's sword and gives it to Mulan. "Take this, so the world will know what it is you have done for China."

"Thank you." Mulan said, gratefully.

"Mulan." Shang said.

"Yes?"

"Sora. Donald. Goofy. Anna."

"Huh? How did you know my name?" I asked, and Oliver grinned.

"I told him."

"Great…" I said, not sure whether to be happy or not.

"Anyway." Shang said, looking at Oliver with a pointed look. Shang then looked back to us and bows respectfully. "Thank you."

"Thank you? Is that all there is to say, Captain?" The Emperor said, almost laughing. "IF you wish to win the heart of Fa Mulan, China's bravest woman, you'll have to be a bit more eloquent than that!" I couldn't help but laugh along with the Emperor and Mulan at Shang's blustering and even a slight shade of pink on his cheeks.

"Hey, can I get an autograph?" Sora asked, jokingly.

"Yeah, one for me too." I said, though I was half truthful. I'm planning on giving it to Amanda and Amy when I see them.

"Thanks for everything, Sora, Anna." Mulan said and I smiled.

"Hey, that's what friends are for." Mulan nodded, smiling gratefully. I felt that, among all the girls I've encountered through my travels, Mulan has to now be my favorite… even if we didn't spend too much time together.

"Now they GOTTA let me go back to bein' a guardian! They GOTTA!" Mushu cheered.

"But Mushu, I thought you already were a family guardian." Goofy added, looking confused.

"Nope, the little lizard lied to you this whole time." Oliver said, smirking a little.

"You tricked us!" Sora shouted at Mushu. I laughed a little watching him and Donald chasing after Mushu as the tiny dragon tried to explain himself.

"Anna." I looked to Mulan to see Shan-Yu's sword glowing in her hands before she let it float away from her.

"Hey, Sora. It's time." I said, and Sora nodded, noticing the floating sword and moving beside me. Together, we got our keyblades ready once more and pointed it towards the keyhole the sword at made.

"Okay!" Donald cheered, looking excited.

"Guess it's about time to be movin' on." Goofy said, as Oliver put his hands in his pockets.

"You shall be missed." The Emperor said, looking a little sad to see us go. Well, he is a good guy after all and I do remember his 'you don't meet a girl like that very dynasty line'.

"Is it alright if we come back again someday?" I asked, and Mulan smiled taking my hands.

"Of course. I look forward to it." Mulan said, and Shang stood beside her.

"Yes, we will look forward to your return." Shang added, formally.

"You two play nice." Sora said, as I removed my hands. I looked over to Oliver and I was surprised to see a look of nostalgia on his face as he watched Shang and Mulan… wonder why though?

"Goodbye Sora, Anna, Donald, Goofy, Oliver!" Mulan called, as we walked away.

"It was fun helping Mulan." Sora said, as we got back onto the Gummi Ship.

"Yeah, but Mushu tricked us." Donald added, glaring a little.

"I'm sure he had a reason." Goofy said, and I leaned into my chair in the cockpit.

"Anna…" I looked to see Oliver standing by me. "Listen, I had some time to talk and think… and I want to tell you the truth."

"Truth?"

"About why I'm teaching you the spell. But… give me time. At least until we get to the Olympus Coliseum." Oliver said, and I raised an eyebrow.

"Why there?"

"Just want to see if something's there…" Oliver said, and he climbed the ladder down and out of the cockpit.

Guess he's finally learned something. Lunar said, and I couldn't help but feel a little relieved. Shang must've had an influence on Oliver in a good way. 'I'll have to remember to thank Shang when we get back.' I thought as we flew away but then there was a sudden jerk and the Gummi Ship was now flying away from the Olympus Coliseum.

"Huh?" Goofy looked around and I looked out the window to see the intended world just disappearing into the distance.

"Hey, wait a minute. Is the ship moving all on it's own?" Sora asked, as Donald nodded.

"Yeah, looks like we're going towards Hollow Bastion." Donald said crankily. "Who's been messing with the Gummi Ship now?! We don't have time for this!"

"Now, now Donald. There must be a reason for this so calm down." I said, crossing my legs. "Anyway, this'll give us time to restock on supplies anyway." Donald just grumbled as we let the ship do it's job. I sighed as I closed my eyes. I'm not looking forward to seeing Winnie the Pooh so early into our adventure. His stuff is for vacation days. Oh well, guess I can see if I can get out of it but saying I'll shop for supplies or something.


Crystal: well, that's the chapter.

Anna: hey, Crystal? Are you okay?

Crystal: yeah, just tired.

Lunar: get some rest and work on the next chapter.

Crystal: oh yes. I hope to work on more now that I'm on spring break.

Oliver: good.

Crystal: oh and to those who are wondering about my big plans... well keep reading this as well as Beyond the Mirror because boy do I have plans. The thing about school is, ideas hit you hard and you want to do something... that and having and editor who you can bounce ideas off it does help. Anyway, join us next time in Chapter 9: Return of the Old. Yes, it's going to be the Coliseum chapter but I don't want to have that in the title for this one. So have a good night and see you soon!