So here we are with chapter two, sorry for the wait, As with my other stories being updated around this time I had to skip a step in my editing process, so this isn't as poshied as I would like.

As usual Kingdom Hearts is owned by Square Enix and Disney, and all the other franchises listed in the tags are the property of their owners. Please support the official release.

Aqua

Outside Ul'dah, South Thanalan, 08:00 local time.

Aqua woke up with a start. That was unusual as the entire time she had been in the realm of darkness she hadn't needed to sleep. Or eat and the feeling she was getting in her stomach told her that hunger was suddenly an issue again. As she opened her eyes, it surprised her to see the sun shining in the sky. It had been so long since she had seen the sun that she had to cover her eyes until they acclimated. As they adjusted, Aqua felt the warmth of the sun on her skin and, she had to admit, after her time in the realm of darkness, the feeling was amazing.

When Aqua's eyes had adjusted, she could get a better look at where she was. Wherever she was, it seemed to be on the edge of a desert. The trees to the north and the sand and rocky cliffs and sand to the south were evidence of that. Fairly well-maintained bridges and other structures showed civilization.. Beside that there were stone paths and well-beaten areas of ground that made up roads. "That likely means that there is some sort of settlement nearby."

Aqua was pulled out of her thoughts as she saw three huge, gray skinned lizard-like beings. Each wore bright red clothing covering the lower half of their bodies and each had a massive spear in one hand. Aquas' first thought was, "These must be some locals." That thought stopped when she looked past them and saw a familiar-looking auburn-haired young girl in a white top and purple bottom lying unconscious on the ground between the three lizard people.

Not being sure of the situation, she called out to the three beings. "Hey! Is that girl okay? Does she need any help?" In response, the three beings turned toward her and brandished their spears. With a bit of dry humor that nobody but herself was going to hear, she said, "I guess that answers whether they are friendly."

Summoning Master Defender in a flash of light, Aqua stared down the three beings. For a minute, both parties waited for the other to make a move. Suddenly, the closest being to her opened its eyes wide and charged at Aqua with its spear raised. Aqua pointed her Keyblade at the being and shouted, "Blizzard!" Only nothing happened. "What?" Aqua shouted as her spell failed. She didn't have time to contemplate what had happened as the being was now within range and attempted to stab her with its spear. Aqua quickly dodged to the side before she brought her Keyblade down on the spear's shaft. Breaking it in half and leaving the being looking at its broken weapon..

Aqua pressed her advantage and brought her Keyblade to bear against the creature's skull, knocking it unconscious. The beings' companions seeing their friend brought down charged at Aqua. Not wanting to test if her failure with magic was a one-time thing, Aqua yelled "Strike Raid!" as she threw Her Keyblade at the charging lizard men, the closest dodged the weapon as it flew, causing its partner to get hit. Knocking it out before it started flying back, hitting the remaining being in the back of the head. The blow hadn't knocked it out, but when the weapon returned to Aqua's hand, she brought it down on the being's skull, knocking it out.

Aqua dismissed her Keyblade and moved towards the girl. As she got closer, the feeling of familiarity gnawed at her. She looked at the necklace the girl wore. Like a shot, she recalled that moment in Radiant Garden. That moment, right before everything went to Hell "Kairi". After a moment, she opened up a sense she hadn't used in a very long time. She had to be sure. After a moment, her sense was nearly overwhelmed with the light the girl held within her. Quickly releasing her senses, she looked down at the girl who lay there. Passed out. Whispering to nobody, she asked herself, "How did she get here? How did I get here? And where are we?"

Aqua quickly decided that they needed to move. She wasn't sure how long those lizard men were going to stay knocked out. With a bit of effort, Aqua was able to get the girl over her shoulder and she started moving them north. After a while, she saw a massive wall in the distance. "Must be some sort of settlement." Aqua said to herself. After finding a tree nearby, she placed the girl under it and sat down so that she could recover some energy.

"I need to figure out why my magic didn't work during the fight." Summoning her Keyblade and sitting cross-legged with it on her lap, she tried to sense her connection with the weapon. As she delved deep, she saw the line of light that symbolized the connection. Under normal circumstances, with the Keyblade she had carried for years, the line should have been thick and bright. But she couldn't sense her connection with that Keyblade and the connection that she had with Master Eraqus's Keyblade was weak and the line between her and it was extremely thin. "When did this happen? I was using my magic just fine before I ended up here. Am I just drained? Will my magic come back with time?"

Suddenly, Aqua felt something pull at her senses. Something that felt like it was coming from where she had put the girl. When Aqua Opened her eyes, she saw the girl still unconscious. But in her right hand was something Aqua hadn't seen since her training with Eraqus. The guard was blue and rectangular, covering a black handle. At the bottom was a chain that ended with a gold star. At the tip was a sliver shaft with a ball. On one side of the shaft was a protrusion that resembled a five-point star. On the other was a small spike. "Starlight." Aqua thought, Why did this girl have a Keyblade?

Aqua was shaken out of her thoughts as the girl stirred. It looked like she was waking up. The name Sora escaped her lips, and Aqua blinked. That name sounded familiar. Her mind drifted to a beach somewhere and two little boys.

Aqua wished Master Eraqus was here before she recalled what had been said in that barren landscape filled with countless dead Keyblades. One of her best friends had killed her master, for trying to kill her other best friend. Aqua wiped a tear that fell from her face. "Come on Aqua, you're a Keyblade Master. Act like one!"

Aqua felt her stomach rumble again. This reminded Aqua that she needed to eat. It was her luck that the tree she and the girl were located under had what looked like apples. Aqua grabbed a few from the tree and, after taking a few sniffs, she bit into it. "It certainly tastes like an apple." Aqua dove into the rest of her first apple before consuming the second and grabbing a third.

With her hunger sated, Aqua sat down to wait. From the looks of it, wherever they were, it was morning. So she had time to see if the girl would wake up on her own. If she didn't, she would see if they could find a place to stay in the settlement. After an indeterminate amount of time, the girl's eyes opened wide, and she shouted, "SORA!" as she sat up.

As Aqua turned to her companion, she schooled her tone into a calm one that she remembered using on Ven when he was upset with Master Eraqus. "It's okay, you're okay. Nobody is going to hurt you." The girl still had a slightly panicked look in her eyes, but she was calming down.

You're Kairi right? Aqua asked, wanting to confirm what her senses and memories were telling her.

The girl looked at Aqua funny for a moment before she replied slowly, "Yes, have we met before? I feel like I've seen you before, but I can't remember where. Have you ever visited the Islands?"

That brought Aqua up short. "The Islands?" she asked weakly

Kairi looked at the older girl with a raised eyebrow. Yeah, I've been living on the Destiny Islands for as long as I can remember. My adoptive dad was the Mayor of the island I lived on."

Aqua took a moment to process what the girl had said. "Okay, she doesn't remember where she came from, but she seems to have at least a partial memory of me. I wonder if she remembers her grandmother?"

This is going to be hard for me to explain, and it will be even harder for you to accept. I met you when you were a little girl in a place called Radiant Garden. Where I briefly met you and your grandmother."

Kairi looked at Aqua with confusion. "Radiant Garden? What are you talking about?"

Aqua sighed. It was time for the big reveal. She hoped that the younger girl was part of the small percentage of people who swallowed the rather large shifting of their paradigm. "There is no easy way to say this, but there are other worlds besides your own. There are legends regarding it I can tell you about at some point. But the short version is that there are countless worlds out there. Most of them aren't aware of the others and it is better to keep it that way. Some worlds have certain theological beliefs that would cause them to react badly to the idea of other worlds." She paused briefly to look at Kairi to see how she was taking all of this.

Kairi was looking at Aqua with a critical eye. Let's say that I believe you. Is there anything you can do to prove it?

Aqua smiled. At least Kairi wasn't rejecting what she had said out of hand. "Well, look around you. Does this look like any place you have ever been to?"

Kairi looked around and, for the first time, really took in what her surroundings looked like. Her eyes widened as she took in the forest to the south and the giant wall to the north. She gasped as she watched the local wildlife."

Aqua continued, "If you need a bit more evidence look at this" She raised her hand to show Kairi her Keyblade before dismissing it and re-summoning it again, much to Kairi's surprise.

"Seeing the young girl's awe, Aqua spoke again. This is a Keyblade, it is a mystical weapon that is bound to the wielder's heart. The heart gives it form and grants its user the ability to drive away the darkness in all its forms. Keyblades, like the one I showed you, can be passed down from a master to an apprentice."

Kairi shook the awe out of her head before she asked. "Okay, but what does that have to do with me? And how did that lead to me being here?"

It puzzled Aqua for a moment on how to answer that question. "Well, when we met in Radiant Garden, when you were a young girl. I sensed a great deal of light within you." Aqua paused at the girl's confused expression. "Sorry, let me explain. I have an ability that I cultivated that allows me to sense the internal light and darkness within a person. For most people, the levels will vary depending on the person and what situation they are in. But on rare. occasions, there are people who are just filled with light without a trace of darkness inside them. You were one of those people."

As Kairi nodded with a bit of understanding. Aqua moved back to her original point. "You don't remember this, but I told you I had cast a few spells on you. The first was one that would protect you if the darkness ever came for you. It would guide you somewhere safe. The second would bring me to you.. As far as the rest look down at your hands "

Kairi looked down, shocked to see the Keyblade just off to the side. The only thing Kairi said as she looked down was a strangled "What?"

Aqua understood the girl's surprise and calmly said, "I'm not sure how, but you became a Keyblade wielder. What you have there is called Starlight. For many it is the first form that their Keyblade takes before they fully bond with it and it becomes their true Keyblade."

Kairi suddenly had a look of comprehension on her face. I had a dream about this just before I ended up here!"

Aqua nodded as she pieced things together. "Okay, I need you to tell me everything that happened prior to you waking up here. Leave nothing out."

For the next thirty minutes Kairi explained everything, as she recalled from the dream that Sora had mentioned, to her to her own dream. And everything that she had done during that dream. Throughout it all, Aqua just sat there and listened. When Kairi finished, Aqua sat there for a few moments before she spoke. "It sounds like you had your Dive into the Heart. It is an event where a potential wielder's unconscious mind decides how that person is going to develop. The good news is that it sounds like you went down a similar path to what I did. So if you wish I can teach you. The bad news is that your path involves more sword play than mine, so that will take a bit more work on both of our parts."

Kairi looked momentarily excited at the prospect, but then she remembered the rest of her current situation and asked "That sound great but whatever brought me here probably affected my friends Sora and Riku," Kairi took notice of the look of surprise on the older girls face but ignored it for the moment.

Aqua looked at the girl for a moment before she responded. That is both simple and hard to answer. The simple answer is that I open a portal to the pathways between worlds. The hard answer is that it is extremely dangerous to travel the lanes without some form of protective armor to protect your heart from the darkness inherent to the lanes. An additional complication is that since I arrived here I have had problems with my magic.. So I am not even sure if I could open a portal." To prove her point, Aqua lifted her Keyblade and pointed it at the open air.

Aqua attempted to open the portal the same way she had countless times before. Aqua's Keyblade pulsed for a moment and then nothing happened.. "I think that there are two problems at play. The first is that my bond with this Keyblade is not as strong as it needs to be." At Kairi's confused look Aqua explained. "Earlier I mentioned that there are some Keyblades that are passed down from master to apprentice." When Kairi nodded, Aqua continued, "Well, this is one of those. My true Keyblade is lost to me and it will take some time to bond with this one. The other thing is that I think that transporting us here drained my magic severely. Earlier, I tried to use it to protect you from some locals, and it didn't work."

Kairi looked worried. "So we're stuck here?"

Aqua tried to reassure the girl. "Only for the time being. We will get off this world eventually and find your friends."

Kairi looked apprehensive. "What do we do now?"

Aqua pointed toward the enormous wall a short distance away. "First things first, we need to secure shelter for ourselves. Hopefully, this settlement has some sort of inn. We will worry about how to pay for it when we get that far."

Kairi nodded. She didn't have any better ideas and so the pair started making their way towards the wall and the settlement within.

—-

Outside the Throne Room, Disney Castle, Disney Town, Disneyland, Disney World, Shortly before the fall of the Destiny Islands, 10:35 LT

Outside the massive doors to the throne room two beings stood, The first was a short anthropomorphic duck clad in dark blue and black robes and an angular hat. In one hand he held his staff while his other hand held a roll of parchment.

Standing next to him was a much taller being that looked for all the world like a humanoid dog. Wearing purple and silver armor complete with a silver helmet. In one hand, he held a large shield and in the other; he held his own roll of parchment. As they stood there, the fowl spoke to his companion in his usually raspy voice. "Goofy! Do you know what this is about?"

Goofy, well versed in understanding his friend after all their years together, looked down and said, "Gawrsh Donald, I'm as clueless as you are. One of the brooms brought me my scroll a few minutes ago that told me to get here as soon as possible."

Donald ignored the clueless comment. He had received his scroll the same way. After a moment, the massive doors opened, permitting them to enter the throne room. As they entered the equally gigantic throne room, they expected to be greeted by King Mickey, their long-time friend and monarch. Instead, seated on the throne reserved for the queen, was Queen Minnie. Standing next to her was her lady-in-waiting and Donald's long-time girlfriend, Daisy.

"You Summoned us, your Majesty?" asked Donald as he and Goofy gave a respectful bow.

Minnie frowned. "That husband of mine has run off on a mission and he needs your help." She handed an envelope to Daisy, who handed it to Donald. After he tore the envelope open, he read the letter out loud.

"Donald, Goofy, I'm sorry for my sudden disappearance, but the increasing number of worlds lost to the heartless of late is a portent that something big is coming. I have set off on a journey to find the tools needed to stop what is to come. But I need your help. I make this request not as your King but as your long-time friend. Find the wielder of the Kingdom Key. Yen Sid has said that they will make themselves known soon and I feel we will need them for the coming crisis. To aid you in your quest, I have had a Gummi ship made ready for your use. To help narrow the search down, Yen Sid has said that the one you are seeking is a survivor of a fallen world. So I would start with Traverse Town."

You two are the only ones I can trust with this

Your Friend

-Micky"

When Donald let the arm holding the letter fall to the side, he had a solemn look on his face. A look that was mirrored by the other three occupants of the room. It was Goofy, all traces of his usual goofiness gone, who asked, "So, when do we leave?"

Daisy responded, "The royal engineers need a few more hours for final adjustments, so take that time to say your goodbyes to your friends, loved ones, and students." The look in her eye left no argument that she had better be a person Donald said goodbye to.

"Where are the kids?" asked Goofy, uncharacteristically deep in thought.

This time it was Minnie who responded, "I believe Max, PJ, Pistol and Roxanne are in the training center with Peg and Sylvia."

Goofy gave a respectful bow and said, "Thank you, your Majesty," before he walked off to make his way to the training center.

Donald gave Daisy a look that said they would meet later before he bowed as well and followed his friend.

—-

The Knight Training Center was a gigantic facility filled with every type of training equipment that one could think of and a few that some wouldn't. Disney World was one of the few worlds that were allowed knowledge of the greater multiverse and had used that knowledge to its advantage. The structure was multi-leveled and on the bottom floor was the training arena.

Outside the arena were three youths, two young men and one young girl, two with canine features and one with feline features. The boys, who both had dark hair, clad in squire uniforms comprising a block bodysuit, long armored jackets, and armored boots.. The thinner and more canine of the two wore a red jacket and a belt that had two short swords attached to it. The larger and more feline of the two wore a blue jacket and a large, round shield with runes inscribed all over it. The girl was a few years younger and had more canine features with bright orange hair and wore a cadet uniform that comprised a yellow jacket over a white blouse and brown cargo pants and yellow buckled boots.

On the other side of the arena was a canine woman with shoulder length dark orange hair and wire-rim glasses who wore a white bodysuit under a blue half jacket and blue gloves. She wore a pair of blue buckled boots and in her hand was a small open book that was covered with eldritch inscriptions and glowed with a green light. Inside the arena were two more canine women. The older of whom wore a black bodysuit under a red martial arts gi top. On each hand was a black fingerless glove and on her feet were red combat boots. She wore her brunette hair in a split updo. Her clothes looked a bit rumpled, but aside from that, she wasn't breathing hard. Next to her was a fairy-like creature that glowed green. She stood in a defensive stance.

On the other side of the arena was a young woman, she looked to be the same age as the two young men. She had dark red hair that was currently tied into a ponytail that fell to her shoulder blades. She wore a dark yellow, short-sleeved Cheongsam that fell to her knees over a pair of black bicycle shorts. On each hand was a black, fingerless glove. Each glove had a metal plate on it that was inscribed with a series of runes that were currently glowing.. On her feet were a pair of black buckled boots that had a metal plate on the front and the back. Like the gloves, the metal plates was inscribed with runes that were currently glowing. Around her waist was the blue sash that marked her as a member of the Mage Corps. At the moment she was breathing hard. She was standing in an aggressive stance with her palms up.

The younger woman swiped her hands through the air and five balls of lightning appeared in front of her. With a whisper of "Thunder" the balls flew towards the other woman, all of them coming at her from various angles. Immediately, the older woman began to move and dodge, making the first three fall to the ground. The fourth ball was just barely dodged and when she looked for the fifth ball, she found the younger girl inside her guard, her hands crackling with lightning. Before the older woman could move to deflect, one of the younger woman's palms connected with her stomach. The older woman seized up and fell to the ground with a resounding thud.

For a few moments, there was silence in the arena as all present took in what had just happened. The only sound was the fairy-like creature that was shining its healing light on the fallen woman. Suddenly, the young man in the red jacket yelled out, "Roxanne! That was awesome!"

Roxanne blushed prettily at the praise and said, "Thank you Max, I've been working on that combo for a while now."

The older woman, who was struggling to her feet, said. "It shows! That feint was spectacular. I'm impressed."

Roxanne turned to the older woman and said, "Thank you, Master Peg. Your advice on distraction techniques was the primary inspiration behind it. "

Peg nodded "Just remember that if you become too reliant on any one trick, a skilled opponent could turn your trick against you"

Roxanne nodded, taking the advice for what it was. By then, the two boys and the younger girl had entered the arena. The larger of the two boys smiled as he said, "I wanna see how my new shield techniques will work against your attack. See if I can counter it."

Roxanne grinned, "Any time PJ any time."

The young girl spoke up next. "Roxanne, that was soooo cool. Do you think I could do that one day?"

Roxanne looked down at the younger girl and said "Maybe Pistol, but your brother tells me that your best scores at the academy are in ranged combat, particularly with the bow guns. Maybe with Sylvia's help, you can mix magic with them the way I did with martial arts." The other older woman nodded at that.

Pistol, who had looked a little crestfallen for a moment, suddenly got excited again. "Thank you, thank you, thank you Roxanne!" as she bounced around excitedly. Causing everyone in the room to smile at her antics.

Suddenly, the doors to the arena area opened up and Donald and Goofy walked in. Cries of "Goofy", "Donald", "Master", "Dad" and "Daddy" filled the air as the group made their way towards the two.

It was Max who spoke first. "Dad, Uncle Donald, what are you doing here?"

The serious look on Goofy's face had everybody on edge, and what he said next didn't help matters. "Well Maxxy, the king has asked me and Donald to go find a Keyblade wielder."

That gave everyone a shock. It was Sylvia with a worried look on her face that recovered first. "Honey, are you sure? Nobody has seen a Keyblade wielder besides the King in nearly ten years." Next to her, Peg shared the same look of worry.

Goofy nodded solemnly. "I know it seems like a long shot, but the King has never misled us on this type of thing. If he says that this wielder is out there, I'm inclined to believe him."

PJ spoke up with a vigor that shocked everyone. "Then let us come with you. Goofy, I'm sure the more of us there are, the quicker we can find this person the King is asking you to find."

Goofy smiled. "PJ, I would love to have all of you with us but I have this feeling in my bones that something is coming and I want you and the others to be ready for it."

Pistol, tears in her eyes and her voice shaky. "Daddy, I'm scared. What if you don't come back?"

Goofy shared a quick look with Peg, who wrapped her daughter in a hug from behind before he spoke to her in as gentle of a voice as he could manage. "Pistol, sweetie, I promise you that there is nothing in this or any other world that will keep me from coming back to you." before he joined Peg in hugging his stepdaughter. Soon Max and PJ joined in. Finally, Sylvia joined in the family group hug. Donald and Roxanne stood off respectfully to the side.

As they watched the family hug its youngest member, Donald whispered to his apprentice, "How is your spell-casting going with your new foci? Have the new inscriptions helped with the flow of magic?"

Roxanne nodded quickly "Yes Master Donald, it was far easier for me to channel the magic. I haven't gotten an exact percentage, but it felt like an enormous increase in both flow and control."

Donald nodded happily. "Good, good, If I had more time I would help you look for better runes, but consider this a new assignment. If you find better runes than what you are currently using. I want you to write a paper on what makes them better. If you feel you are ready, I want you to try engraving them yourself. But don't use them until Sylvia or myself has reviewed them. If you can't find any better runes than I still want you to write a paper on the ones that you find the most interesting and ways you could make use of them."

Roxanne nodded "Yes Master, do you have any suggestions where to start?"

Donald shook his head. "Besides, starting from where we found the runes you're using. No, that will be part of the assignment."

Roxanne looked a bit flustered, but nodded.

The sound of a door cut any further conversation off, causing the pair to turn around and see Daisy walking towards them. Roxanne stepped away from her master so that He could have some private time with his girlfriend. She looked over to where Max and his family were standing and saw that the three adults were all sharing a look. She caught Max's eye and gave him a look that said, let's get out of here.

Max quickly understood what he was being told, and he looked at Pistol and said, "C'mon kiddo, let's give the adults their privacy. Before Dad and Uncle Donald leave."

Pistol wanted to protest, but she looked at her parents and quickly nodded.

Moving as fast as was polite, the four youths left the training center, leaving the adults to their farewells.

—-

A few hours later, in the launch bay underneath the castle, the assembled group was saying their last goodbyes.

Max and PJ wrapped Goofy in a massive hug as Max said to his father. "Good luck Dad, just say the word. Make a call and Roxanne, Me and PJ will be there as soon as possible." Next to him, PJ nodded. Roxanne, who was standing closer to Donald, nodded her agreement as well.

Goofy smiled wide "Gwarsh, thank ya son, that you three are willing to do that means a lot to this old dog." After the trio separated, Goofy looked over to his youngest child, who hugged him tightly. "Come back soon Daddy, I love you."

Goofy placed one of his hands on Pistol's head and said, "I love you too Pistol." before he kissed her on the cheek.

Soon the adults had made their last goodbyes and Donald and Goofy made their way into the ship. As Donald set the navigation for Traverse Town, he looked at his long-time friend. "We'll be back, Goofy. We will see them again." Behind Donald Mickys loyal hound Pluto barked almost as if in agreement.

Goofy looked back at his friend and nodded. "I know Donald, but I still hate to leave them like this."

The duck could only nod, still they had a mission to complete, and they needed to focus on that.

—-

Riku

?, ?,?,? ?

When Riku awoke, he immediately noticed something was different. He was freezing. "What the hell? When did the Islands get this cold?" As he opened his eyes, he remembered what had happened. This was a new world and based on how cold he was feeling, it was definitely nowhere close to the islands. As he stood up, he saw he was standing on some sort of floating ice platform. As he looked around, he didn't see anybody, so he called out, "HELLO, IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?"

Riku didn't see a black crow flying high above him. He didn't feel the darkness that emanated from the crow. Caught up in his own problems, he couldn't focus on anything else. After a few minutes, Riku decided he couldn't stay where he was and tried to find shelter before he caught a cold.

—-

Far above in the castle, a tall dark figure watched the new visitor to her realm. To her surprise, it was a young boy. Barely more than a dozen years under his belt, if her understanding of humans was correct. As the boy made his way towards the castle, the figure felt a familiar darkness within him. With a wave of her green hand, she summoned her minions from her world. Soon six of the diminutive creatures stood before her.. With an almost bored tone she said, "Go take care of the intruder and then dispose of him." If the boy survived, she would test him further. If he didn't, then he hadn't been worth much to begin with.

—-

Leaping from platform to platform had taken a bit for Riku to get used to but in the end he had made it to the landing at the top. From there, he had found a lift that had taken him even higher to what looked like the front door of the castle in front of him. The castle itself had been a bit of an oddity. Besides the massive size of the place, there were pipes everywhere. If Riku didn't know any better, he would have said that the whole place had a bit of what Kairi's dad called a steampunk vibe. Rikus' thoughts returned to the present when the giant door of the castle opened and out ran six creatures. Some looked like bipedal pigs, some had beaks. The only things that they all had in common were the brown skin and yellow eyes and the style of armor and weapons that they held.

Once they caught sight of him, they pointed their weapons at him and charged. Riku felt a brief pang of panic before he felt a wave of darkness come over him and suddenly he held a very familiar weapon in his hands. "This is the sword I used in that dream," Riku said to himself in sudden realization.

Tightening his grip on the weapon Riku wanted till the closest of the creatures approached him before he grabbed its poleax and brought his weapon down on its shaft, cleaving its head from its base. As the creature looked shocked at his broken weapon, Riku took advantage and kicked it in its large snout. There was a sickening crunch and soon the creature fell to the ground, writhing in pain before it faded from existence. Riku grinned. This was more fun than he had had in weeks. Charging at the remaining creatures who now looked scared, Riku brought his blade down on the head of the beast, cutting it clean in half. Like its companion earlier, it soon faded from existence.

The third creature was more battle ready than its friends and swung at Riku with a wide swing of its weapon, forcing Riku to take a step back to avoid it. The creature used the momentum from its missed attack to attack again. This time it was close enough that Riku couldn't back away. Forcing him to block with the flat of his blade. Pulling his hand back, Riku punched the creature between its eyes, leaving it on the ground clutching its face.

The fourth and fifth creatures came at Riku together, forcing him to roll under their blows. When they turned around to face him, Riku grabbed the creature that he had just knocked out and with a mighty effort he tossed it at the other two causing the three of them to fall down into the chasm below.

Riku turned to the last creature. It looked at him with eyes full of terror, its armor rattling as it shook. Riku grinned and took a purposeful step forward, his blade held aloft. The creature panicked and dropped its weapon as it ran back into the castle. Riku grinned and as suddenly as it appeared, the blade vanished. Riku blinked a few times, wondering what had just happened. Hopefully, if he needed it again, it would show up.

—-

When the minion that had run from the battle returned to its mistress, the figure held out a green hand and almost spat out the word "Coward" before it was engulfed in green and black flame. The figure snapped their fingers and a dark portal opened up near her. Soon, a gigantic figure walked out. It wore a red and black body suit with purple armor on its shoulders and bags on its waist.

With a gruff voice he said, "You called Maleficent?"

Maleficent ignored his familiarity with practiced ease. The man next to her had served her well over the last nine years, so that bought him that little leeway from her. "Yes, Pete, we have a visitor. Please bring him to me."

Pete nodded. "And if he resists?"

Maleficent smiled. "Persuade him."

—-

As Riku made his way through the castle, he was getting bored. He had hoped to have more of those goons to fight. But so far he had seen nobody. Occasionally he thought he saw something in the shadows but when he looked there was nothing.

Suddenly he started hearing thuds. At first it was distant but with each passing moment it got closer. After a few moments, Riku noticed that things all around him were jumping. Suddenly a large, almost feline-like being wearing an armored bodysuit appeared. Whatever it was, it was gigantic. Then the creature spoke in a loud booming voice that convinced Riku that the creature was very male. "Hey Pipsqueak! My boss wants to speak to you. Get your ass in gear and follow me."

Riku was visibly affronted. "Why the hell should I?"

The creature looked down at him. "Well, there are two reasons." he held up two fingers. "The first is that this is her castle you're trespassing in." The creature grinned darkly, "The second is that if you don't, I get to make you. You really don't want that. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. The choice is yours."

Riku tensed up and his sword flashed into his hand. "Bring it on, tubby!" Riku growled defiantly

The creature's grin only grew. "You've chosen the hard way… Good!" Suddenly, both of its meaty fists became covered in a dark flame. "Cause now I get to 'persuade' you." With a speed that defied its size, the creature charged at Riku, who barely rolled out of the way. Riku brought his sword down on the creature's hands only for the blade to bounce off of the creature's skin. Not discouraged by his failure, Riku leapt up and tried to bring his sword down on the creature's skull. It shocked him as the creature caught the blade between his hands. "Not bad, twerp, but not nearly good enough." Before he slammed Riku down onto the ground.

Riku's vision went white as his world was filled with pain. He felt the sword disappear from his hand. He had little time to contemplate that as the creature picked Riku up by his shirt and tossed him to the other side of the room, slamming him into a bookshelf. As Riku passed out, he heard the creature say "Not a bad first effort kid, If you're lucky, maybe ole Pete will give you some lessons on how not to get your ass kicked so badly next time." as he laughed.

—-

When Riku came to he was surprised to find that his pain from the beating he had just received was gone. As his eyes refocused, he saw he was lying on a bed and a dark green barrier surrounded him. Standing outside the barrier holding a long staff was the tallest woman Riku had ever seen. She was easily the same height as the cat man who had kicked his ass. Her cloak was as dark as the night sky and Riku wasn't sure if the horns on her head were a part of her or just an accessory to the cloak.

A look at her face told Riku that she knew he was awake, this was proven when the dark woman said, with apparent sincerity. "It is good that you are awake, I apologize for my servant Pete, He is loyal but a bit too enthusiastic in his duties."

As Riku looked up at the woman he said "Where am I and who are you? And where are my friends?"

The woman stood up straight and with an air of grandiosity said, "I am Maleficent, and I am ruler of this castle and of this world. As to your friends you are the only one that we found. And now that I have answered your questions, it is time that you answered mine. Who are you and by what means did you come to my world?" The look on her face told Riku that it would be best if he answered her truthfully.

—-

Sora

Traverse Town, Area one Alleyway 22:00 L.T.

As Sora woke up, he uttered, "What a dream." Suddenly, he felt a tongue run its way up and down his face. He opened his eyes to see a dog. He barely had time to register that as he started taking in his surroundings and realized with a start. "Not a dream!" That had all been real, Kairi disappearing, Riku and all of that crazy stuff he had been saying before he had fallen into literal darkness. All of those dark creatures that had attacked him. And what had happened to the main island? As he looked around he asked himself "Where am I?" Looking at the dog in front of him he asked "Do you know where we are?" A part of Sora realized it was silly to ask a dog a question like that but given the recent events of his life, he would not be too picky.

The dog looked like it nodded before it ran off. Sora barely had a moment to say "Hey" before it disappeared around a corner. As soon as Sora had rounded the same corner, he found himself in some sort of town square. The dog had disappeared but there were people all around going about their business.. As Sora turned around, he noticed he was standing in front of a business with the title accessories in big letters across the front window. What was more important was that the light was on. Not having any better ideas what to do, Sora entered the shop. The man at the counter was a tall slim man with blonde hair and a grizzled face.

Shortly after Sora had entered the Man who identified himself as Cid told him about what he sold and Sora would later admit to himself if no one else that at the time He had only half listened. Soon enough Sora said his goodbyes to the old man and returned to the square. After some more searching around, Sora went back the way he came and found a door to some place called the second district.

No sooner had Sora entered the new area than he found himself under attack. "They followed me here?" Sora asked himself. In a white flash, The weapon he saw in his dream and that he had used on the island appeared in his hand. Tightening his grip on the weapon with both hands Sora charged towards the closet creature and to a wide swing at it. Just like back on the island, the creature dispersed. The other creatures moved to attack Sora while his back was turned, forcing Sora to dodge to the side before he took another swing at it. The hit connected, and the creature dispersed. Taking advantage of the other two creatures' lack of movement, Sora dispatched them quickly.

No sooner had Sora dispatched his foes than another horde of the creatures appeared. "Crap, there are a lot more this time." The number of creatures had nearly doubled. Needing more space, Sora leapt over the ledge and waited for the creatures to follow suit. As they dropped to pursue him, Sora was still sketched out by how they moved. But he wasted no time in charging at them. After a few slashes they disappeared in black smoke. Suddenly twelve more appeared, "This is getting dangerous!" Sora said to himself. Running to a nearby set of stairs that took him back to where he started, Sora dispatched nearly half a dozen of the creatures.

Making his way through the door back to the first district Sora was relieved to see that the creatures weren't following him

"They'll come at you from out of nowhere" A deep male voice said as Sora took a moment to catch his breath.

Sora looked to see a tall young man with neck length dark brown hair, in dark pants and a white shirt with a short sleeve black jacket over it. "Who are you?" He asked the stranger.

The young man either hadn't heard him or had ignored him because he continued speaking as if Sora had said nothing. "And they'll just keep coming as long as you continue to wield a Keyblade." The man suddenly had a vexed look on his face "So why? Why? Would a Keyblade choose a kid like you?"

Sora found himself offended and retorted "Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"

The man deliberately ignored Sora and with an air of menace said "Never mind, Now let's see that Keyblade."

The Keyblade appeared in Sora's hand and tightening his grip on it he said "No way you're getting your hands on this!"

The man didn't skip a beat and from seemingly nowhere pulled a massive blade that he held by what looked like a gun handle and trigger. Sora gulped, This would not be like the sword fights he had had with Tidus, Riku and Wakka.

The man charged forward, and it was all that Sora could do to block the blow. Sora felt his arms vibrate as the man's sword met the Keyblade. Sora rolled to the side and tried to bring the weapon down on the man's head. The man backrolled and pointed the blade straight at Sora. Suddenly a ball of fire erupted from it and Sora barely dodged it. As the flame passed by him Sora felt the intense heat coming from it. "This is so not like on the Island!" was Sora one thought as he did his best to keep the man at bay.

Suddenly Sora saw an opening and slammed the Keyblade into the man's side and when the man instinctively clutched his side Sora reversed his strike and hit the man's opposite shoulder. The man looked at Sora now with annoyance clear on his face. There was a green flash of light and suddenly the man was standing up straight. The man attacked with an overhead strike and Sora was forced to block. This time the vibration Sora felt was far worse and Sora felt it through his entire body. The man spun around and forced Sora to block again, this time from his off side. The vibrations were getting worse, and it was taking it out of Sora. The next two spinning strikes just made the feeling worse.

Finally, the young man stepped away, and Sora attempted to bring his Keyblade to bear. But his arms felt like jelly and he felt his whole body twitch every time he moved. Sora tried to say "I'm j-just g-getting s-started." Before he felt his eyes close and he fell to the ground. As Sora lost consciousness he swore he heard a second voice, this time higher pitched and female speak.

—-

Aqua and Kairi

Ul'dah, The Steps of Nald 12:00 LT

As the two young women walked into the city, the sights and sounds shocked Kairi. All around her were a variety of beings in a variety of outfits. That in and of itself wouldn't have caused her to take much notice. But it was the beings wearing them. Besides humans like herself there were men and women with cat ears and tails, Kairi couldn't help but blush at the scantily clad cat women dancing a small distance away. The girls had to move out of the way to avoid a group of male beings that were shorter than anyone Kairi had ever met. Behind them was another male that had pale skin and was massive. Sitting at a nearby table were two females. One of which had scales and a tail. The other had long ears that looked like a rabbit and Kairi admitted to herself was the most beautiful person she had ever seen.

After a few moments Kairi felt a hand on her shoulder as she looked at the source she saw Aqua smiling, "I know this is all new but it is rude to stare." The smile on her face and the tone in her voice took the bite out of the already light chastising.

Kairi nodded. "I'm sorry there are just so many different types of people. I never saw anybody like this on the Islands."

Aqua nodded "It can be a bit of a surprise the first time you arrive on a world that has beings that aren't typical humans, but you eventually get used to it." Kairi noticed that the older girl had a wistful look on her face when she said that.

Kairi looked around. "So where do we go from here?"

Aqua looked thoughtful. "Let's try to find an inn of some sort."

Aqua had apparently said the magic words because a human man in garish clothing walked up to the pair and said, "Pardon, did I hear that you ladies are looking for lodging?"

Aqua looked pensively at the stranger before she answered carefully, "Yes,"

The man looked at Aqua for a moment sizing her up before he said "You have the look of an adventurer, perhaps you can make your way to The Quicksand, It is a tavern and the local headquarters for the Adventurers Guild, They can provide lodging for fledgling adventurers, All they ask is a portion of the take from the quest that are undertaken."

Aqua looked at the man and then back at Kairi. It was at least a lead, She could inquire about the quest the man was talking about later. "Where is this Quicksand?" she asked.

The man pointed to the enormous building not too far from where they were standing. "It is merely a few yalms away from here."

Aqua and Kairi thanked the man before they made their way to the tavern. As they walked in they saw the same type of beings as they had outside including a new one that made Kari instantly think Elf. After looking around for a moment, the pair made their way to the only counter that didn't currently have anybody in front of it.

Standing there was a female member of the short race they had seen earlier. She wore a white outfit and had red hair with two balls on top and red eyes. When they made it to the counter, the woman spoke in a cheery voice with a bright smile on her face that reached her eyes. "Good Afternoon Dearies, I am Momodi Modi, proprietor of this tavern and Guild representative. What brings you to the Quicksand today?"

Carefully, Aqua spoke for the pair. "We just arrived in town and would like to join the guild. We were told that rooms would be provided if we needed them. Is that true?"

Momodi sized the pair up for a moment before she responded. "Indeed, it is." Before she reached under her counter and pulled out an ink bottle and quill, followed by two sheets of paper. "Now let me ask you two some basic questions."

In short order the pair gave the diminutive woman their details. After a few minutes the woman put the papers down before she spoke. "Now that the paperwork is in order, let me tell you about how things work. Here at the Quicksand. In exchange for room and board guild members pay the guild 15 percent of any earnings they make while on a guild-based quest. You are required to complete at least three guild quests per week. Failure to comply will get you a warning the first and second time and will see you evicted the third. That said, if you come into money we can negotiate a modest rent. Attempts to sabotage another member's quest will see you evicted and removed from the guild if deemed necessary." The woman said all of that with a serious tone of voice that offered no leeway. Before her tone changed back to cheery. "Now because of the young lady's age," she said pointing at Kairi, "I am going to put you in the same room, Are you willing to take responsibility for her." She asked Aqua.

Aqua nodded quickly. "I just agreed to take her on as my apprentice, so yes I accept responsibility for Kairi."

Momodi smiled. "Good, then if you will give me a few minutes to file these forms and to point you out to the rest of the staff, I will guide you to your room."

—-

Soon the two young women stood in a mid-sized comfortable feeling room with two beds, with a smiling Momodi. Aqua looked at the woman and said, "Thank you for all your help Miss Modi. Can you tell me if there are any libraries that have books regarding history and culture?"

Momodi looked at the taller woman and said "Unfortunately no, none available to the public, anyway. But there are some bookstores that might have what you want. And please call me Momodi."

Aqua nodded, "Thank you Momodi"

Momodi smiled, "Why don't you two take the rest of the day to get used to your new digs and tomorrow I will get you to addresses for the bookstores." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Since you are going to be training your apprentice, I am going to give you a free week, but I expect you to start next week."

The two girls nodded and said, "Thank you."

Momodi smiled. "Have a good day and welcome to the guild."

After the woman walked away, Aqua looked at Kairi and said, "Now that we have a roof over our heads, let's get started on your training. I am going to give you a lesson on the history of Keyblades and our roles as their wielders."