Notes: Alright, this isn't actually the not-so secret AU project that I've been tossing around in my head for a while now…you see, I had this burts of inspiration RIGHT when I was about to finish the first chapter of that story, and I couldn't resist writing this…I don't want to spoil anything in the first chapter, so I'll just cut this AN short and let you start reading what you came to read

Disclaimer: I own nothing, if I did, then Kingdom Hearts would have become the worst video game ever…yes, I have that much bad luck and lack of ability ;.;

As a spiky haired brunette trudged his way through the currently muddy and rain-soaked dirt road, or, more accurately, a mud road that was once dry before it started raining, there was but one thought running through his head "Rain, mud, and armor don't mix…AT ALL"! His crystal blue eyes glanced down at the now-soiled suit of chainmail that he had been wearing, over which was a white jerking with a coat of arms in the shape of a giant golden tree emblazed on it. It was the official symbol of the kindom of Radiant Garden. Normally, his outfit would have been rather splendid-looking, but the mud and rain had taken away much of its former grander, even his brown leather boots were beginning to look dirty, and that was saying something!

To make matters worse for the young knight-in-training, the normally impossible spiked brown hair was being pinned won and suppressed by the torrent of water. While it still stuck out like a sore thumb, it was the principle of the thing! It took a special kind of someone to get their hair like that. And even though it was somewhat unbecoming of him, given his status as a squire of the knighthood of Radiant Garden, but there weren't any rules against it, and, for better or worse, it made him feel truly unique in terms of appearance.

He wasn't one to complain, in fact, some people even considered his blind optimism and idealism to be irritating! Still, the brunette couldn't help but mentally complain as he remembered just how he got stuck trudging through the rain to accomplish a task that was probably WAY out of his league…


"So, your name is…Sora?" asked the village elder, a thin old man with gray hair, as he looked up from the letter he held and looked at the boy standing at attention before him…well, he was TRYING to stand at attention.

"Yep, that's me!" Sora replied brightly, causing low groans to erupt from everyone else within the small hut that was the meeting place for the discussion of important issues in the village. "Me and Riku were told that you had a problem that you needed us for?" Before the village elder could speak up, another, younger man managed to open his mouth before him.

"Wait, what happened to your companion?"

"Oh, well, we ran into another village in the way that was having some bandit trouble and he decided that he would take care of it and then catch up…" Sora seemed to relax as he shrugged a bit with a sheepish smile. "Don't worry about him; he's really good at fighting!" The younger man seemed somewhat dissatisfied with Sora's answer as he struggled not to slap himself in the face.

"It's not him I'm worried about" he muttered in a low tone so that Sora wasn't able to hear. There were a number of murmurs between all the other villagers in the room before the elder raised his hand, silencing all of them instantly.

"I'm afraid that there has been a mild misunderstanding here…" the villagers looked like they were all going to protest about him making the understatement of the decade, but he silenced them once again. It's amazing how old people can do that to you, even if they can't even eat solid foods without somebody grinding them up for them, they can still command enough authority to make even a full grown man sit down and shut up. "You see, we our problem is really quite…large."

Sora's look of confusion caused the village elder to sigh to himself, granted, the letter that the one literate person in the village had written was a bit vague, due to their limited writing ability, but he had been hoping for more than a single raw recruit of the Knights of Radiant Garden…ranted, this "Riku" sounded more seasoned than Sora, but bad luck had forced him out of the picture, and there was no guarantee that even both Sora and Riku would be able to fix things if he was here…

"You see, there's this monster of some sort that we tracked to a ruined castle nearby and it has developed a fondness for stealing our crops and animals and causing a great deal of mischief…" several of the villagers muttering and complaining silently in agreement reinforced the elder's point. Still, not even naïve Sora was able to miss out on the fact that they seemed hesitant to entrust this seemingly simple affair to him.

"Then I'll just go to that castle and teach it a lesson it'll never forget!" Actions spoke louder than words…not that Sora was any good with words in the first place! Before the seemingly zealous knight could run off on his epic quest, he was halted by the village elder.

"You don't understand…you see, there was once a demon that resided in there years ago…it was driven away by a force of elite knights from your order, but…" the old man didn't need to say anything else to get his point across. "I doubt a demon would have any use for a few farm animals and some crops, but I don't want to risk anyone's life if there is in fact a monster of such magnitude residing there. I'll see to it that you have food and lodgings for the night so that your horse can rest, and then you can reunite with your comrade and the two of you can report this to your superior so that they can send some more experienced soldiers…we can afford to starve for a few months if that's what it-,"

Sora had heard enough. He was nowhere near as stubborn as Riku, and he certainly didn't share his silver-haired friend's sense of pride, but when it came to easing the suffering of others, Sora would not back down under any circumstances…it was both a weakness and one of the greatest thing about him. "I'm going to that castle; I won't let anyone go hungry just because of some wolf that's gotten used to people being afraid of it!" Sora declared, his voice filled with determination and optimism. "I mean, you did say that it probably isn't a demon or anything out of the ordinary at all, right?"

The elder seemed to be taken completely off-guard, along with all the other villagers in the room. "Young man, I appreciate your spirit and courage, but…" he seemed to pause once he saw Sora's face. It was marked with every ounce of optimism and determination his voice was. He sighed and shook his head. "Very well…I won't stop you if you want to risk your life…"

Sora was barely able to stop himself from smiling as he saluted the old man, though something about the brunette made it seem not quite as serious as it was meant to be, perhaps it was his hair? "Don't worry you can count on me!" he said enthusiastically. "Oh, and I'm not really a "young man"…I'm only fifteen years old…" Sora actually seemed a bit embarrassed by the elder's oversight, and his confession did little to ease the village's concerns over whether or not he would be able to solve their problem.

Still, there was no questioning Sora's enthusiasm…hopefully it really was just a wolf, bear, or some other "normal" animal…even squires, knights in training, of Radiant Garden were supposedly quite formidable, given their relative skill level, though such a super-natural would unquestionably be beyond Sora's level…assuming such things were more than mere myth...

(End flashback)

Unfortunately, the short trip down memory lane did little to cheer Sora up as he inched ever closer to the ruined castle. Something as big as it was kind of hard to miss, so he didn't need anyone to point him in the right direction, but the fact that he had to go on foot since his horse was exhausted from the trip it took to actually reach the village counteracted any satisfaction he might have had from not getting lost…something he would have to brag about to Riku to prove that he wasn't totally hopeless!

Of course, that was assuming he got out of this mess alive….

The brunette was almost surprised with how quickly he reached the gates of the castle; he had been too occupied with his own thoughts to really pay attention to anything else! The wooden entrance seemed old and even a touch rotten, but otherwise in fairly good condition, much like the rest of the castle. Sora guessed this was just one of the numerous old strongholds that were abandoned after some kind of wizard civil war, or something along those lines, he never paid attention in history. The soldiers were needed at home rather than in remote garrisons and they had yet to be sent out to reclaim old strongholds such as these, so small, abandoned castles like this one were surprisingly common nowadays.

A wave of apprehension assailed the young knight as he reached his hand towards the door, the elder's warnings echoing in his ears. The castle was in good enough condition for someone to live in, what if there really was a demon or some kind of mage living in this place? It would certainly be ideal for either…

Sora rapidly shook his head, sending the droplets of water that had been captured in his hair flying in all directions. That was absurd! Demons were nothing more than myth and a mage or wizard or witch, or whatever you wanted to call a rogue magic user wouldn't bother stealing a few animals and crops from a poor farming village! They had more important things to do than that…right? Still, despite his fears,

Sora took a deep breath and pushed open the massive wooden door. He wasn't about to let a village full of people just go hungry because he happened to let his fear get the better of him!

The most ferocious thing in there was probably nothing more than a coyote or even a small wolf pack at best! All he would have to do is drive them away and tell the villagers, they could get rid of something as trivial as a few over-grown dogs! It was simple…and nothing could possibly go wrong….right?

Sora had to admit, he was surprised when he walked into the castle, he expected it to be dusty and more…well, ruinous. Instead, it was in even better condition than he thought, a slightly tattered, but nevertheless serviceable red carpet was spread across the entire floor, and there were no large pieces of fallen rubble or anything of the sort lying around on the ground. The only real flaw in the place was the fact that it was relatively dark since there were no lit torches and the only light came in from the occasional window, but that actually made Sora feel safer since any lit torches would mean that someone was actually living here.

His crystal blue eyes cautiously scanned the entrance hall for any signs of movement before he slowly turned around and shut the door behind him.

"Well, you're quite the gentleman; most people aren't considerate enough to shut the door when they come in!"

Sora stiffened, spun around and drew his sword, only to see nothing. "Huh?" He said aloud to himself as he looked around, not letting down his guard. Sora had reacted completely out of reflex, but now that he had time to think, he was as puzzled as he was startled. The voice was feminine and young, in fact, it sounded like it belonged to someone around his age. "Wh-who's there?!" Sora mentally winced at his inability to fully keep his surprise and fear out of his voice. If his appearance hadn't completely removed any intimidation factor he might have had, his tone just did.

"…Oh! I'm sorry, I forgot my manners!" Sora wasn't sure if the owner of the voice was being sincere or not, the tone was just as surprised and apologetic as it was taunting and filled with amusement, as though the person was enjoying toying with him like this. The sound of gentle clapping echoed through the hall for a second and a half, and then torches that had merely been idly hanging on the walls before were suddenly caught ablaze.

Sora nearly jumped back in surprise as he rapidly looked around, trying to see what had caused the torches to suddenly illuminate the room.

"I'm up here…" Sora froze and slowly looked down the hall. There were two thrones ext to each other and a balcony of sorts above them…leaning forward on the railing of it stood what looked like to be the most beautiful girl Sora had ever recalled seeing, and he wasn't one to take notice of girls much, he was always too busy slaying imaginary dragons or evil sorcerers.

She looked to be his age, with hair that reached down several inches past her shoulders and was an auburn color that was cross between red and pink almost. Her eyes were every bit as oceanic and crystal blue as his. The girl wore a lavish red ball gown of some sort. It s sides "cut" just above her knees and

the straps merged into one on her neck, leaving her arms bare. It was by no means revealing, in fact, Sora was certain that even the haughtiest of noblewomen would kill to get their hands on such a thing, but to a simple boy like him it was enough to cause a deep shade of pink to materialize on his face as he was unable to stop looking at the girl.

Sora was only snapped out of it when the girl before him seemed to notice his staring and giggled, seemingly to herself. It sounded like the most beautiful thing at the world to Sora, but at the same time, there was something about the giggle that set off alarm bells in some instinct-dominated part of Sora's brain. "Would you mind introducing yourself before you start drooling on my carpet? I can't forgive you if I don't know your name…" the girl said in a teasing tone, seemingly taking delight in the brunette's embarrassment.

"O-h! Sorry, my name's Sora, who are you?" Mentally, Sora winced, for all he knew this girl could be the problem he had been sent to correct, she certainly did seem to live here and was able to light all the torches at once seemingly without moving from her spot…in one word: "magic".

"My name is Kairi…" the auburn-haired girl looked down from her position at Sora with a grin of amusement on her face. "So, what could possibly bring a dashing young knight to a dreary old castle like this?" Kairi asked teasingly.

Her words did little to help Sora get rid of the blush that stained his face; she must have really enjoyed embarrassing him like this! "Er, well, I…" It was against all common sense to tell Kairi what his mission was, she was the most likely candidate for being the cause of the village's suffering! And yet, there was some part of Sora that didn't believe it…it was impossible to explain, he just felt a desire to trust her, after all, she seemed innocent enough, if a bit of a tease. The brunette gulped and then opened his mouth. "I'm here to stop whatever is tormenting the village nearby…"

Kairi seemed unfazed by this as she merely nodded and urged him to continue. "Really? What did they say they were sending you after? I mean, I'm pretty sure that it doesn't take a strapping knight like you to scare an overgrown dog away!" Sora rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment as he chuckled a bit to himself.

"Well, I'm not actually a knight yet, I'm just a squire, but I'm sure that I'm going to become a great knight someday, you'll see!" His almost childish optimism provoked another round of giggles from Kairi.

"I'm sure you will!" she said in between giggles. "Anyway, what did they send you after anyway? I don't recall any carnivorous animals living nearby."

Now Sora was truly beginning to feel uncomfortable. Assuming that Kairi was telling the truth, and she had no reason to lie to him, at least not about carnivorous animals, that meant that a human must have been responsible for the havoc…and the auburn-haired girl looked like the prime suspect . "Well…they said that a demon might live here, and it's also possible that a rogue magic user might be stealing the animals and crops…" Sora tightened his grip on his sword as he slowly spoke; Kairi's reaction would either confirm or deny his hunch…in theory anyway.

"What?!" Kairi exclaimed as she bolted up from her previously relaxed position. Her tone had instantly changed from nonchalant and friendly to shocked and appalled. "They decided to send YOU after demon and desperate mages?! Those self-righteous bas-!"

"Er, actually, I came on my own…the villagers wanted me to go back and get someone stronger, but I couldn't just let them starve…" The brunette knight now felt incredibly embarrassed at even thinking of accusing Kairi of being responsible for causing all the fuss in the village. If she really was responsible, then she probably would have just blasted Sora out of existence right then and there, the girl had displayed a degree of magic prowess. Still, he couldn't help but wonder precisely what someone like Kairi could be doing; living in an abandoned castle, if she was innocent of the crimes Sora had mentally accused her of.

Kairi looked down at Sora in surprise, simply staring at him for several seconds before she relaxed on the railing again. "Oh…I see…"

"Yeah…so…is there any way you could help me solve the problem? Do you know who or what is responsible for stealing their food?"

Kairi nodded with another of her playful grins creeping across her face. "Of course, how could I refuse someone like you?" She giggled a bit as Sora looked away in embarrassment before she cleared her throat to get his attention and signify that she was through joking around with him. "Alright…I'm the one who's been stealing their food."

It took several seconds for Kairi's words to fully impact Sora as he took a nearly horrified step back. "Wh-what?! But you-!" Sora was unable to finish his sentence as feelings of betrayal began to wash over him. Just when he was beginning to think that Kairi was innocent, she turned out to be the one responsible for it all.

If Kairi noticed the depth of Sora's current feelings, she sure didn't show it. The auburn-haired girl simply shrugged casually in reply, not even looking at Sora. "What? A demon's got to eat too you know, and I can't exactly just walk into town and buy what I need!" She turned her view back to Sora and leaned forward on the railings again. "Besides, where's the fun in just buying it, anyway?"

"D-demon?!" Now Sora was actually getting scared. While Kairi had demonstrated a small degree of magical prowess, she was too young to be a mage of any considerable power. As a demon on the other hand…apart from being physically superior to humans, ruthlessly burning things happened to be something demons were rather infamous for, even if they were supposedly mere myth and rumors. "You're lying, demons don't exist!"

Once again, Kairi smiled in amusement. "Actually, I'm telling the truth, as weird as that sounds…here, I'll prove it to you, but I'm surprised that you didn't think of it for yourself. I live in an abandoned castle, can light numerous torches with a clap of my hands, and have no issues with being in the dark."

Without giving Sora a chance to reply, Kairi hoped over the side of the balcony and seemed to glide rather than fall down, she didn't even have to bend her knees to absorb the impact of the landing. A pair of medium sized forward-facing horn grew out of her head, followed by a pair of red, bat-like wings. Sora guessed that Kairi's dress left her shoulder blades bare since he didn't see o hear any torn fabric. "So, what were you planning on doing once you found me?" Kairi asked with a smirk.

Sora just stood rooted to the spot in horror for several seconds before he took a fighting stance with his sword. "Why don't you come closer and I'll tell you!" Antagonizing her was probably the dumbest thing Sora could have done at the moment, but it was the only thing that kept him from just turning around and running for the hills. Demon or not, Kairi was just as old as him, and Sora was almost unmatched in his class when it came to swordsmanship…only Riku could still compete with him!

Once again, Kairi seemed amused with Sora's actions. "Hmmm…no, I think I'll just let you come to me…or you could just leave if you want, I won't stop you." In reply, Sora simply yelled and charged towards her, sword at the ready. "…Why can't you just leave me alone?" the auburn-haired demon whispered to herself in a frustrated and slightly depressed manner, a sharp contrast to her previous flirtations.

As the brunette charged his opponent, she neatly step-sided him, throwing off his entire charge. Sora spun, swinging his sword as he did so, to force Kairi away from him before she could actually strike. If anything, Kairi seemed only mildly irritated by Sora's evasion.

She deftly jumped up into the air before Sora could do anything to stop her. The last thing Sora saw was Kairi snapping her fingers while soaring through the entrance hall, causing all of the candles to go out instantly.

"Wha-?!" Sora jerked around blindly, trying to see or hear something that would give him a clue to Kairi's whereabouts, but the darkness seemed to be much worse than it was when he first came in. Either he had spent much more time talking to Kairi than he thought, or she knew more about magic than he gave her credit for.

"I'm right here…" Sora spun around, swinging his sword as he did so. A "swish" sounded out through the air as his word hit nothing. The brunette didn't even have time to express his confusion when he felt someone's breathe on his face. Before Sora even had time to get embarrassed at the proximity of he and Kairi's faces, he felt two hands grip his wrists and twist them, forcing his sword out of his hands.

Sora struggled against Kairi's hold, freeing one of his hands as he swung wildly in front of him, trying to locate his enemy.

The brunette's fist collided with something that felt soft and yet fabric-like, he had managed to hit Kairi, but he wasn't sure where.

Sora would have grinned in triumph, but he felt pressure being applied to the hand that Kairi still held and felt himself being swung up into the air, and the n brutally slammed into the floor.

He struggled to his feet, determined to not let even the hard stone floor of the castle slow him down, but Kairi merely pressed her advantage. Sora choked as he felt Kairi's iron-like grip fasten around his neck and right hand as she began to squeeze.

The demon was going to strangle him into submission! As soon as this thought entered Sora's mind, he lashed out as violently as he could, but no matter how many times e buffeted Kairi, she managed to maintain her vise-like grip on his right and throat even as he lost consciousness.

"We'll finish this later…sleep well, handsome…" Sora wasn't able to tell if Kairi's tone was sarcastic or not as he began to pass out. Regardless, even he was certain that she was through playing games with him…

It was cold…the whole mountainside was cold…the freezing temperature of her current environment was all the young, gray-skinned woman could think of as she used her staff to support herself as she struggled up the mountainside, occasionally shooting a hatred-filled look at the sight of the kingdom behind and below her. It was all because of them that her cult had been disbanded and hunted down. While she cared nothing for any of her fellows personally, it was the idea of the thing and the fact that she was now forced to hide in these freezing mountains in nothing but a tattered brown robe, less than ideal clothing considering the snow-stained terrain.

"Fools!" she hissed venomously to herself as her short black hair swayed in the ice-cold wind. "How dare they claim that we were too weak to control the darkness! How dare they refuse us the power that was ours to claim!" Still, yelling into the wind would accomplish nothing, and the raven-haired witch knew it. As she trudged along, she struggled to fight off the urge to conjure up some of her signature green fire, but stopped, knowing that such an action would tip off the pursuers which were no doubt looking for her even as she was dying of the cold. The tracking wizards amongst the hunting parties would sense her use of black magic and would be upon her in a flash, they weren't the ones who had been running for their lives for several days straight!

The witch nearly fell into the snow several times before her destination was at last within sight, a cave that was nearly impossible to see, unless you knew where it was. Despite her situation, the witch grinned to herself, barely able to suppress the urge to laugh aloud. She staggered on; a smile that could curdle blood marked her face as she approached the entrance to the cave.

"Diablo!" she called out as she stepped through the entrance. The cave was anything but ordinary. Torches lit with magic flame that would not extinguish without the use of magic lined it walls, a table of sorts had a single knife on it amongst various other instruments of clearly magical origin, but what dominated the room was a large ritual circle carved into the hard stone flooring. This cave was used as a fallback position in case something like the eradication of their sect occurred…and it had…

A black raven swooped from out of the shadows, landing on the witch's shoulder and cooing as she stroked it before returning her attention to the ritual circle. She walked over to the table and picked up

the knife, which already had all the necessary enchantments on it. All she needed to do was draw some of her own blood and mutter an incantation or two, and the ritual would be finished. Still, even after the trip she took to get here, and the lack of options, the witch hesitated as she stood with the knife ready to draw some of her own blood.

The ritual in question was a summon ritual, though it was far more…potent than any "normal" one. If used, it would open a "window" to the realm of darkness itself, and call upon one of the mightiest inhabitants there. It was the result of many years worth of research…even "weak" creatures from the realm were agonizingly hard to summon and control. In fact, this kind of ritual was untested, not one of the entities named "heartless" by her sect had been successfully summoned, only raw power of darkness that could be transferred to the summoner. The fact that several of the sorcerers who had called upon such ruinous power had been consumed by it did little to calm the witch.

Even if it was just a "window", the being she intended to bargain with would have at its command power beyond even her wildest dreams…if stray scraps from the realm of darkness itself could consume studied mages, then who was to say that one of the greater beings that resided there couldn't simply dominate her will with the flick of a wrist? Even if the being would only have a presence and not a true physical form, the witch was hesitant, for all she knew its raw power may be enough to allow it to directly interact with the her world…

The raven-haired woman shook her head furiously, disturbing her raven familiar, before she steeled herself for a single cut from the knife. No, it would be better to be consumed by darkness than exist in such lowly a state as a hunted fugitive, charged of treason by weak-minded fools who couldn't grasp the meaning of the word "power" or how to properly use it. No, the expression "It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven" was this woman's motto and view on life.

With one last breathe, the witch braced herself and lightly cut her arm above the elbow, letting the blood seep down into the carving in the ground. At first, nothing happened…several seconds passed in breathless anticipation as the witch began to have doubts in her mind about whether or not the ritual would work. While she was an above-average mage, she had been weakened by the days of pursuit and a ritual of this magnitude may have demanded even more power than she would be capable of mustering even on one of her best days.

The truth was that the witch was just about to turn and leave to face her fate, when suddenly; her blood turned black and seemed to be pulled somehow and guided along the intricate markings of the ritual sign that was carved into the ground. She watched in fascination as the ritual circle was slowly stained and filled with the black substance…

A tall, armored figure began to slowly materialize before her very eyes. It had the transparency of a ghost, but it was intimidating nonetheless. The being became more and more solid and defined, but its transparency remained. At last, the summoned being was truly present. It was a tall, humanoid, figure clad in spiky black armor that completely covered it from head to toe. The only indication that there was in fact something alive inside of the armor were the two, glowing yellow eyes that scanned the cave and then focused solely on the raven-haired witch.

"You are…the one who called upon me?" the being's tone was neutral.

The witch visibly gulped before she responded. "I am…my name is Maleficent…I am the last that remains of my order.

"Yes, I'm familiar with what happened…" the black witch's apprehension skyrocketed. While the being before her would certainly make a powerful ally, getting it to cooperate with her would be difficult…

"Now then, I believe we have work to do…do you happen to know of an isolated town, one that no one would notice if all of its inhabitants were suddenly…swept away?" Maleficent was visibly surprised at the being's words.

"What?! You're going to assist me? Just like that?!" All she received was a tired nod.

"Of course…I grow stronger with the spread of darkness upon this world...we both stand to gain much if we combine our powers. I cannot manifest nor fully command my powers in this world, but with you as my avatar…I care nothing for the lands, titles, or currency of your world, and you care nothing for mine. Give me your service in spreading my influence across this world, and

Out of all the possible scenarios she had mentally imagined, this was the last one that Maleficent had predicted. All she did was nod in reply, still surprised that everything had gone so smoothly…and that she had learned something new about this "realm of darkness". Judging from the being's words, it might have been similar to her own…something that might be of use to her later. "Now then, as my herald, I grant you these boons…"

Maleficent looked down as a tingling sensation took over her body. Her robes began to stitch themselves together and turn into an inky black. A cap that sprouted a pair of dragon horns formed upon her head as well, and she could feel the ruinous power of darkness increasing her power by several orders of magnitude…it felt wonderful…addictive even.

"Yes…all this and more…we are bond to each other now. As my power increases, so will yours…" Small, black creatures began to from behind Maleficent. They were only about knee-height and seemed fairly unintimidating, but there claws were sharp and they were made of pure, undiluted dark power. A pair of antennae protruded from each of the creatures' heads as they looked about with jerky movements.

"These are called shadows…until my power in this world grows enough, they are the most I can send for you to command…but fear not. They might be small, but their ferocity is unmatched…and their numbers will swell with every heart that is claimed by darkness..."

Maleficent couldn't help but grin as she observed the beginnings of her army. If what her benefactor said was true, then all she would have to do to raise a force large enough to take a castle worthy of being her home as she worked to study the power of darkness was raid a few villages and…convert their inhabitants. "Excellent…" she started, barely able to contain the rapture in her voice. "I know of a few villages filled with fools ripe for the taking…and a castle that belongs to a senile old fool who can barely keep his own son under control, much less his kingdom…"

Sora's head pounded as he finally began to come to, Kairi really hadn't been holding back during their duel, and he was beginning to think that she wasn't very gentle when she dragged him here…

'Wait…where's "here"?' Sora slowly raised his head and tried to move his legs forward, but instead felt a stiff resistance. Again, he pulled and the resistance stopped him from budging. The brunette slowly became aware of a cold feeling on his wrists and ankles as he looked about.

Sora was in a cell of some sort; the door was wooden and had a small, barred window, no doubt there to allow his jailer to keep tabs on him without actually having to walk into the cell. The only thing that served to decorate the small room was a plain wooden chair. He looked to the side to see his arms pinned up above him by a pair of iron manacles and his legs were only slightly better…they weren't up in the air. Sora didn't bother checking to see if his sword was in the room, no one would be dumb enough to leave a lethal weapon so close to a prisoner unattended, no matter how well restrained they were.

Sora's heart began to pound as he heard footsteps coming from down what he assumed to be the hall that lead to his cell.

Kairi walked in with a passive expression on her face, her horns and wings were gone. She barely even glanced at him to acknowledge his presence, despite the fact that she herself had put him there. She slowly walked towards him after closing the cell door, turning the wooden chair to face the brunette prisoner, and then sitting down in it with her legs crossed underneath her dress. "…Well?"

Sora was taken off-guard by the suddenness, and vagueness of her question. "What do you mean "well"?"

Kairi huffed and angrily rolled her eyes. "Aren't you going to explain why I shouldn't kill you here and now?" She said it as though it was the most obvious thing in the world

The brunette felt his blue orbs widen in surprise at the casualness of Kairi's words, he didn't even notice the anger that was thinly veiled in her tone, just waiting to be unleashed. "What?! Kill me?! But why?!" Sora had just won the award for the poorest choice of last words anyone had ever uttered to a demon jailer.

"Why? WHY?!" Kairi jerked up out of her chair, her demonic features emerging once more. "You waltz into my home and try to kill me! Why do you think I would kill you! You're lucky you're still alive right now!" The auburn-haired girl took several deep breathes as she sat back down in her chair, glaring at Sora. "You had better have a damn good explanation for wanting to kill me just because I took what I needed to survive…"

"Well I…" Sora paused with his mouth open. He had never really stopped to see things from Kairi's perspective…and he realized that he couldn't possibly come up with anything that would calm her down. "…I don't have a good one…I just wanted to help those people…I'm…sorry…" He hung his head downward, unable to look Kairi in the eye. She may have been a demon, but she looked and acted like any other human that Sora had ever met…that, and he really didn't want to know how she intended to kill him…

He remained like that for what felt like hours, but given Sora's complete lack of patience, it was probably only a minute. At last, he couldn't contain his curiosity anymore, he looked up to see that Kairi was standing right in front of him; her face was too close to his for comfort. Sora's mouth was agape as yet another blush forced its way onto his features, he couldn't even bring himself to ask Kairi how on earth she had gotten so close without even alerting him.

Kairi made no comment on his blush-stained face, she just stood there, staring at him so intently, Sora felt like his very soul was being examined. "…I won't kill you, but you have to agree to do something for me…" Kairi finally backed away, a playful smile on her face as she slowly ran her finger along the length of Sora's right arm, moving towards the manacle that held it.

"Wh-what do you mean?" Sora asked nervously as Kairi slowly unfastened the binding that held his right hand, she was taking her time with the lock, not that she was in any particular hurry in the first place. The blue-eyed brunette was every bit as pure-minded as he looked, but that didn't stop him from getting nervous with Kairi's behavior, or picturing some kind of satanic ritual.

"Oh, it's nothing big or morally wrong, so don't worry that spiky head of yours," she replied nonchanalantly as she finally released his right hand, allowing it to drop to Sora's side. "I won't keep you locked up for the rest of your life or kill you, if you agree to be my guest for the next three days, then you can decide if I'm really the monster you think I am…"

"What?!" Sora yelled out in surprise, causing Kairi to smirk to herself as she unfastened Sora's other limbs.

"We both know that you can't beat me in a fight, at least not in my own home, and I have ways of knowing whenever someone tried to get in or out of this castle." Kairi playfully poked Sora's stomach just to get a reaction out of him. There was something…special, even cute, about his reactions to her behavior. "So, do we have a deal?"

"Well…I'm pretty sure that it's against the rules to make deals with demons…but I guess I really don't have a choice…I'm sure Cloud would understand!" Sora was somehow able to make his statement end on a happy note as he thought of one of the most distinguished knights of Radiant Garden: Cloud Strife. The man was Sora's idol and a living legend…not to mention the one who had personally instructed Sora and Riku's class in the ways of knighthood!

"Oh, I had no idea that your noble band of knights were so…biased…one might think that they even qualify as racists…" Kairi's tone started out in the same cheerful and teasing one that she seemed to favor, but it ended quietly, practically a whisper. Sora was just about to say something, anything to get Kairi to snap out of it when she suddenly seemed to do it herself. "Oh well…I guess they wouldn't be human if they didn't have flaws…hey, can I trust you with a secret?" Kairi had undone the last of Sora's bindings and placed the tips of her fingers on his breastplate to keep him in place.

"Um..sure…" Sora's reply was nervous as Kairi grinned and slowly leaned forward so that he could feel her breath on his neck as she began to whisper to him.

"I'm half human…" Kairi drew back and began to giggle and then outright laugh at Sora's look of shock as she turned and began to leave the room. "Well, aren't you coming, or do you like it in here?"

He ran up to walk alongside her as she led him through the corridors of what was the dungeon, and then up a staircase. "Hey, can I ask you something, Kairi?"

She shrugged in reply. "Of course, what kind of host would I be if I kept my guests in the dark…well, my GOOD guests that aren't trying to kill me…" Kairi shot Sora a mischievous grin, no doubt thinking of how she pulverized him earlier. It was probably just the half-demon's way of getting even with Sora for his attempt on her life.

"Why are you doing this?" Sora couldn't help it; his curiosity was going to kill him as surely as a sword in the gut if he didn't get an answer from his "host". To his surprise, Kairi stopped and actually seemed to be seriously pondering her motives. For a moment, Sora thought she was going to knock him out and lock him up again, if he was lucky, but she just turned to him with a smile on her face.

"Because…I like you you…you're just too funny to be mean to!" The half demon playfully flicked the already thoroughly embarrassed Sora's nose and then continued to walk up the steps, giggling at his facial expression.

For Sora, this was easily going to be the oddest experience of his life…he just wan't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Finally! Well, I hope you guys aren't mad about the changes to Kairi's personality; she's deeper than she seems, but I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what her demon half is, so she really can't help but be a bit of a flirt.

Anyway, please tell me what you think in your review, I've really been working hard on this chapter!