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Chapter 2 - Acceptance

After the Battle of Long Valley, the KH team reached the waning stage of their adventure.

Chapter 2 - Acceptance

Chapter 2 - Acceptance

The hour quickly passed as the duel between the key bearers and the last of the Death Lords continued on. The easy victory that had filled the minds of Riku and Sora with confidence quickly diminished as they came to realize the true strength of Lord Thundro. Back and forth, with great neck speed, they struck and swiped and slashed and jabbed, putting all heart and soul into each strike. But still success did occur. Thundro managed to elude his attackers and get himself out of the tightest of predicaments without the key bearers landing a single scratch.
Come now, boys. Thundro said as the three met at a sudden stand off. Is that all youve got?
Riku and Sora gasped, catching their breaths for the moment before engaging again. Though their teamwork was flawless, but even that was not enough to subdue the mighty Thundro.
Hes got to have a weak spot somewhere. Riku thought to himself.
This is impossible. Sora inquired silently. How can Thundro move so fast? No matter how many times we try, we can never seem to get at him.
Thundro smacked Riku away then turned his attention to Sora. He raised his sword to strike the young man. Sora drew up his keyblade, hoping to block the blow he believed was coming. But at the last minute, Thundro struck with an unexpected kick to the gut, knocking the wind out of him.
Dont let your opponents movements deceive you, boy. Thundro advised. Just because a foe has a weapon drawn doesnt mean theyll use it.
Sora, Riku cried as he saw his friend pummeled. The silver-haired key bearer flipped and retaliated against the Imperial. He swiped from behind only to have Thundro suddenly appear above him and deliver a kneed blow to the back. Riku fell to the rubble face first, taking in a mouth full of dirt.
Youll have to do better if you ever hope to defeat me.-
Hes just too strong for us. Sora thought to himself. The two key bearers hit the ground and lay there fore a minute or two. Thundro didnt even break a sweat. It was as if he wasnt trying from the start. He simply dusted the dirt from off his black frock.
Tsk, tsk, he said, At this rate you wont hope of ever receiving any training from me. He pulled out his pocket watch and looked at the time. So far you two have spent thirty minutes trying to strike me, yet I havent even received a blemish. You might as well give up. You cant hope of hindering me.
This isnt over. Riku said.
Not by a long shot. Sora added. Thundro watched as they staggered to their feet again. Though exhausted, they still hand enough energy to continue battling.
You expect me to believe that you can still fight? Thundro asked. He checked the scouter reading. There were a few insignificant bleeps on the scouter monitor. Your power levels have remained at an estimate level of a hundred and fifty each. Now thats definitely powerful when it comes to battling even a factional S class elite, but it pales in comparison to my capabilities. Not to mention, your power levels havent really changed for the past half hour. Ergo, I can only come to one of two conclusions. The first is youve displayed your full strength. The second reason, which I find more likely, is that youve been concealing your true power all this time.
Well, I guess you got us.-
Lets crank up the heat! Riku shouted. The key bearers suddenly began to increase their levels of strength. Thundros scouter began to detect the increase in power and the displayed ranking was slowly increasing.
Look at that, he quietly implied in his mind, Riku and Sora are fired up. Theyre holding nothing back this time.
Lets get him! Sora shouted. The two key bearers lunged forward at the Imperial with all their might. Thundro drew his blade at the ready.
Come to me, boys, come to me.-

The night was long in Traverse Town as the team and their allies went about their business, still waiting for the heroes to return. Goofy and Donald rested alongside Olette and the several children in the red and green rooms at the Traverse Town Hotel. Ophelia was giving instructions to the supply crews on restocking and repairing the gummies available. At the same time, Goten and Leon helped themselves to beverages at the inn in the first district.
I wonder how Riku and Sora are doing. Leon said. Its been about three hours since they left.
I hope that theyre alright. Goten replied. This is Thundro theyre consulting. Hes a completely different guy compared to me. Hed be more likely to spear them than give them a warm salutation.
I dont think so. This is Sora and Riku were talking about. Im sure they could smooth-talk their way out of any hostile predicament.-
So says you.-
It was then that Ophelia appeared and joined them at the table. She slumped down and huffed.
I tell you, she grumbled, If you want to get things done around here, you have to do it yourself. And even so, you have to scream your head off at times until youre blue in the face.-
I take it that the situation with the gummi ships was not exactly a joy ride. Leon said.
Those supply crews are inconceivably incompetent. It was like I was talking to a group of monkeys.-
Well, they are new recruits after all. Goten chuckled.
Then someone should give those boys a damn good hiding. I hate those types of recruits, a bunch of immature high school kids whose only thoughts revolve around booze, sex, and playtime.-
I bet you put them in their place, eh Miss Billiard?-
I had to bust a few skulls, break a few noses, and crunch a few nut sacks to get my point straight, but I think theyve learned a little.-
No sooner had she sat down, a messenger came rushing from the transmission station in the third district. She saluted her superiors.
Colonel Billiard, she declared. I have a message from President Sneer. She handed a slip of paper containing the message.
What is it? Ophelia took the paper from her hand and opened up the letter, revealing its contents. She read what was written. As she did, her eyes opened with a feeling of apprehension and concern. There was strange eerie silence that lingered about the little congregation. Is this right?-
Im afraid so, maam.-
My God&-
What is it? Leon asked. Ophelia handed him the slip and both he and Goten read the contents.
No way, Goten uttered in disbelief.
Is this true?-
As far as we know, yes, Ophelia replied.

All the while, back on Oceanaria, near the Gilgazion Springs, Thundro sat upon a rock, meditating a while. The battle had ended with a temporary lull and he now took the opportunity to organize his thoughts.
Once again the order of this vast universe and all worlds connected to it will be turned upside down. He thought to himself. Though the Imperial regime had collapsed, it still lingers in its final waning stage. However, they begin to wax again, much like the moon. There are still those who wish to restore Imperial might, but forge it in their own image. But no resurrection would fit the former structure of the Dark Empire. Though the Three Excellencies have been restored, they consist of men who have no real intension of cooperating with one another in the end. If power does shift in their favor, and they manage to somehow bring a downfall to the Universal Alliance, the only powers they must fear and fight are one another. They will eventually turn on one another and battle one another until only one stands. And by that time, further regimes within that regime would have emerged and the chaos would erupt once more. Thus, whatever copied Empire does emerge, it will only fall in flames. Thundro tapped his fingers upon his knee. I had hoped for peace when the Empire was still fresh, but they continuously thirsted for more war and more battle. That is the reason why I defected against the regime. A regime that only knows chaos can never find true peace. And the factions are no different, thirsting for endless battle and conquest. Thus, I must stand with a former enemy to bring down a once favored ally that knows only chaos.
Hey, Thundro suddenly shouted, Exactly how long do you two idiots intend on sleeping? He looked to Riku and Sora who lay prostate and tired on the ground. They gasped and labored for air, their bodies were weary with pain and exhaustion, and the sweat trickled down their youthful faces in rivers. Get up already! You only have twenty minutes left. You cant spend it lying around like a couple of bumps on a log.
Man, Sora uttered, doesnt that guy know when to quit?
We used up too much energy in that last bout. Riku added. It took out so much energy, we barely have enough to stand up again, let alone battle one last time.
Im with you there, Riku. Im so tired.-
Do you want my help, Thundro declared, seeming to mock the key bearers, Or are you going to call it quits now? I guess what you were saying about you being made of the right stuff was just a great manifestation of falsehoods.
Dont you be mocking us, Thundro! Were just trying to regain our composure.-
Well, its taking a long time for you! Hurry up!-
Damn it& The two key bearers tried to stand, but their bodies felt as if they gained a ton or two, keeping them down on the ground.
Perhaps you two nimrods need a little motivation. Thundro took out what looked like a little black book. I could always perk you up by filling you full of guile, especially when it comes to the most embarrassing moments of your young lives.
Ha, Sora scoffed, Dont make us laugh! You dont know anything about us, so you wouldnt know any of our embarrassing moments!
Dont be so sure, Sora. I am an Imperial after all. I have my sources.-
Then why dont you flatter us?!-
Alright then, Thundro flipped through the pages and stopped at one particular entry. Aw, heres one. This is for Sora. This was the final time that you actually wet your bed. You woke up with your pajamas and your sheets wet and that recognizable odor of urine about the mattress. The funny thing is that you were thirteen years old when that happened.
Oh thats a bunch of lies! Riku shouted. Sora would never& But the moment he looked at his comrade, Sora had this rather awkward look on his face. The sweat of worry was on his brow and his face had turned almost a complete red. Riku gawked at him. Sora, you actually&?
I thought no body knew about that. Sora uttered. Riku suddenly bawled out laughing.
Oh my God, Sora, you wet the bed when you were thirteen?! Thats a laugh!-
Its no funny, Riku!-
Still, thats a laugh!-
You are in no position to be mouthing off, Riku. Thundro replied as he flipped through the pages of his little black book. It says in here that you didnt stop sleeping with a stuffed animal until you were fourteen! Immediately, Rikus guffaw ended with a dead silence. Oh yes, it was a brown teddy bear with a missing eye. You called in Mr. Lumpkins.
The boot was on the other foot now. This time it was Sora who was laughing his head off and Riku sat quietly.
No one supposed to know about Mr. Lumpkins.-
Well, now we all know! Sora chuckled.
You should be talking Mr. Bed Wetter! Sora immediately took offense.
Hey, you take that back, Mr. Lumpkins!-
Why you&!-
You two can start fighting when Im finished. Thundro shouted as he flipped through his book again. Aw, heres another one for you, Sora. There was the time when you were eight years old, you mistook Madera wine for grape juice and you were found laying in you backyard naked as the day you were born! He flipped again. Riku, you were ten years old and you were famished because you didnt want to eat breakfast. So you ended up eating a batch of wild laughing mushrooms. But the effect was anything by a laugh! Thundro browsed his book again. Sora, you were six years old when you got yourself trapped in a birdcage. And Riku, you were seven years old when you slid into the hole of your family toilet and got stuck. Or how about the time when you ripped the back of your pants back in Kindergarten, Sora. You werent wearing any under underwear. And you Riku, you didnt stop wearing underwear with little animals on them until you were twelve. If you would like me to go on, I will.
By this time both Riku and Sora had enough having their deepest secrets revealed.
I dont know how he got those, Riku growled, But enoughs enough.
Im with you, Riku. Sora replied. Both of their faces were red with both embarrassment and anger. Thy shook hands calling a truce, and approached Thundro as the Imperial continued to casually blather out their dark secrets without care.
Lets see if we have another one here. Thundro said. Aw yes, heres one, the secret crush with Kairi. Thats the one where you two actually fought one another. You were still in elementary school and both of you sent a Valentine card to her with both cards signed a friend. When you found out about each other sending her a card, you both got jealous and had yourselves rolling about on the school black top.
Thats enough, Riku shouted. Thundro looked to find both key bearers ready to strike. But the Imperial dodged without much trouble.
Damn it, Sora grumbled, we missed him again.
I see you two have found the motivation to stand up and try again, eh? Thundro chuckled. But Im still reminiscing, so rest a little longer. I want to get down to the nitty gritty.
You think its funny expressing our most humiliating life moments like they were nothing?-
You take delight in tormenting us like this dont you?! Riku shouted. Well, how do you like it when someone talks trash about you?!-
Yeah, like your personality!-
Theres something about your personality we hate!-
Yeah it has flaws!-
Youre crude!-
Is that so? Thundro said in his own defense. Riku and Sora continued to give their opinions consecutively as Thundro replied with the same response over and over again.
Youre vindictive.-
Is that so?-
Youre arrogant.-
Is that so?-
Youre anti-social.-
Is that so?-
You especially enjoy making other people miserable when mentioning the darker secrets of their lives!-
Is that so?-
Not so funny when it happens to you is it?! Sora said.
Then again, Thundro implied, such mockery cannot bend my will, let alone break it. And do you want to know why I am unmoved by your harsh words?
And whys that?-
Its because I have accepted your proposal on giving you aid. Im actually offering a chance for you to train under me. The only reason is because you two are the ones who are desperate. Ergo, Im giving you the opportunity to become stronger. To think that I, a former lord of the Dark Empire would train allies of the one organization that opposed the authority of Imperial might. So, there isnt a more understanding lord around. Thundro pulled out his watch. To add, with all the complaining you made, you wasted a good fifteen minutes. Thus, you only have five minutes left to strike me at least once.-
What&? The key bearers were shocked.
But to tell you the truth, Im starting to get a little bored with this insufficiency on you part. Thundro lifted up his sword. Therefore, I will not wait until the hour is up. If neither of you is able to strike me with your next attack, you can forget learning anything from me. Again the key bearers were shocked.
Petty tricks wont work on him. Riku said to Sora. Hes dead serious. This last attack may be our last hope.
I agree. Sora added.
The only way to assure success is to go all out, hold nothing back.-
Final Form, Hyper Mode Fusion&-
Give me strength! Sora shouted. The two combined to activate the final form. I unleash the power of darkness, the power of the rage, and the power of Saiyan devotion! Let my power smite my enemy!
The increase of strength bleeped on Thundros scouter.
Well, well, he said to himself, It looks like theyre holding nothing back now. They really intend to strike me down.
Here I come! The warrior suddenly leaped up into the air. Thundro watched as he hovered in the atmosphere.
Smart move, taking the higher position so you can see my movements, The Imperial then leaped into the air as well. But itll take more than that to defeat me!
The two clashed with double keyblade against Imperial katana. Sparks flew, a flash of a light, and thunderous waves erupted as the weapons made contact with one another. Then, everything fell silent with all surroundings going dark.

The wound of the waterfall could be heard in the distance, the sound of birds chirping sounded, and the warm sun beamed down upon Riku and Sora as they slowly opened their eyes. They both groggily lifted their heads up and looked about. There was no sign of Thundro in front of them.
Did we do it? Sora asked.
What time is it now? Riku wondered. Just then, they felt two hands grab the sides of their faces and clonked their heads together. The two for a moment ached and moaned as they comforted their craniums.
I was starting to think that you two were going to spend of the rest of the day sleeping like a couple of lazy bums. Thundro said from behind.
What the heck did you do that for, Thundro?! But both key bearers came to realize their blunder. Oh no, whats the hour?!
Thats why I was worried. You two have been laying prostrated on the ground for over thirty-five minutes.-
But that means the hours up, Riku. Sora uttered.
No& Riku uttered. The two key bearers lowered their heads. We failed&
We didnt make it. There was a silence that lingered as they dwelled on a chance to improve themselves only to lose it.
Well, Thundro said, Even if you did manage to regain your consciousness shortly after, it wouldnt have made any difference since I declared that last attack to be your last attempt.
But why were we both unconscious? Sora asked. Did you knock us out?
No necessarily, boys. You inflicted that black out on your own. The reason is because you were so concentrated on that last attack, putting all your heart and soul into your strike, you forgot about how you were going to land on the ground, which is the reason why you two have a concussion.-
Oh& But Thundro threw his right arm in front of them. On his gauntlet, the key bearers beheld a streak across the white leather guard indicating that they had managed to strike Thundro once in those final moments.
But then again, if you hadnt gone all out with that last attack, you wouldnt have been able to inflict this on me no matter how many times you tried.-
We did that? Riku asked.
So as I promised, I will take you in and train you under my wing.-
So we did it? Sora said.
You begin your first day tomorrow.-
Great, the two key bearers cheered, but their jubilation was cut short.
Now, dont get too joyful. I still need to calculate on how long I will be training you. You do remember that the Imperial Axis may mobilize at any day when we least expect it. Thus, I cannot keep you absent from the front for very long.-
So what do we do first?-
We must first get in touch with your other comrades and tell them of the predicament we face.-
But our friends are back in Traverse Town. Riku said. It took us almost two hours to get here, one full hour to reach Oceanaria.
Do you forget, Riku? Thundro chuckled. I am a Death Lord. I know no distance too long. Grab onto my shoulders.
Okay& Sora uttered. Both key bearers placed their hands upon Thundros shoulders.
Let us be off. Instantly, the trio vanished from sight.

Back at Traverse Town, Goofy and Donald were busy playing games with Olette and some of the children.
Now, now, Goofy would instruct them. Ya gotta settle down, boys and girls.
Yeah, Donald added. Otherwise the owner would have a good reason to throw us out of here.
Settle down, you guys. Olette said. Some of the others are still asleep.
Riku and Sora would be scolding you if they ever found out that youre misbehaving.-
But amidst the rowdy crowd of boys and girls, the trio suddenly appeared. Goofy, Donald, and the others were shocked and they repelled.
Well, here we are. Thundro implied. That took less than ten seconds considering the distance.
You gotta teach us how to do that. Sora said.
Sora&? Goofy uttered. Riku&?-
Oh, hey you guys.-
But I thought you guys were at Oceanaria. Donald inquired.
We came back only for a while. Riku explained. We need to talk to all of you. Riku looked around. Where are Ophelia and the others?
Well, Miss Billiard went out to oversee the re-supply and repairs of our gummies. Leon and Goten, however, I dont know.-
They were at the first district inn if Im not mistaken. Goofy told them.
But no sooner had they been mentioned, Colonel Billiard, Goten, and Leon appeared in the doorway of the green room. They were just as shocked to find the key bearers and Lord Thundro of all people standing before them.
Riku&? Ophelia said.
Sora&? Leon added.
Master Thundro&? Goten inquired.
What are you guys doing here?-
Im glad that you three came in when you did. Thundro declared. Gather around, ladies and gents, gather around. Riku and Sora have something to say to you. The team came before the trio.
Guys, Riku began, We have spoken with Thundro. Our prospects of actually defeating Saber as we are now are nil. But due to his gracious acceptance, Thundro has agreed to train Sora and I for the upcoming battle.
What&? the team gasped.
Is that true, Master? Goten asked.
That it is, Goten. Thundro replied. I have decided to take Riku and Sora to my tutelage.
Well, thats good. Goten looked at the key bearers. You guys are lucky. Youll be training with the best.
Oh yeah&? Sora asked.
But there isnt a lot of time to be training. Leon implied. The Imperial Axis is already starting to initiate campaigns again on their outer territories.
I agree. Ophelia replied. Thats why we came to the hotel in the first place, to explain the predicament. We bear some bad news. There was a transmitted message that arrived from Oceansburg not too long ago.
How bad&? Riku asked. There was dead silence for a while before Ophelia spoke again.
We received word that Central has fallen into the hands of the Midnight Faction.-
Central, Sora wondered, Are you talking about the world that Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse were defending?
How long ago?-
No more than two days ago. Leon said.
And Edward is he alright? Again there was an eerie silence. Ophelia lowered her head.
He was killed. She uttered. The team were dumbfounded, unable to speak a word.
What&? Riku gasped. Edward Elric is dead?
But when&how? Sora too was shocked.
From what the details explained, he was killed in the last stand-off at Central. He was killed by General Saber.-
It cant be& Donald said.
Saber killed him? Goofy added.
Damn him& Riku growled.
From what eye witness accounts said, Ophelia continued, Edward was on the verge of initiating an alchemic reaction against Saber when both of his hands were suddenly sliced off from the wrists down. Then what looked like slash marks appeared on his chest then finally across his throat. Edward was dead before the battle could even begin.
The reports said that Saber didnt even move to try and cut him. Leon added. It was said that Edwards wounds just appeared out of nowhere.-
Then it mustve been the time element he executed. Sora said. Ed never stood a chance.
Sabers been up and down the lines. Ophelia told them. Hes so far the only truly active force the Imperial Axis has working.
How many other worlds have fallen due to him? Riku asked.
Well, he wasnt involved in any real downfalls. Leon explained. But he has killed a lot of top elite warriors. I think the majority of them you know.
Like who&? Ophelia took out of the message they received earlier.
Edward, she began, along with his brother Alphonse, was killed. They were the first victims. Van Flyheight was the next victim, killed in a convoy raid led by Saber, when he was returning to his own world only yesterday. Heero Yuy of the Preventers was killed, assassinated by Saber. Dearka Elsman of the Orb Union was killed by Saber along with Mu La Fllaga and Shin Asuka. Thank God Kira Yamato wasnt amongst them. All of their deaths occurred within a close proximity, perhaps within a day. That means the majority of the major ally leaders who were involved in the Oceansburg Campaign were killed.
Now theres deep concern, Leon said, about whether or not Saber will go after the president himself.-
I think not. Thundro implied. Saber is a powerful general, but hes no where near strong enough to confront the Alliance forces all on his own, especially now that the Z fighters are there protecting him, or so Ive heard.
I know Saber better than anyone here. He is incapable of initiating a one man attack on the whole of the Alliance, believe me.-
How would you know? Sora asked, curiously. Thundro stalled, as if not wanting to explain.
Thats not important right now. The main focus is stopping the last of the Blade Generals. Saber is the only truly effective officer Sirius Viicous has serving under him. You do away with Saber and the chain of success within the Imperial Axis will be broken forever.-
But youre a strong feller. Goofy said. Why dont you fight him?
Yeah, Donald added, Youre a Death Lord. You could easily take out saber on your own, right?
I could, Thundro implied, But I refuse to take such an action.
But why not? Ophelia asked.
I have my reasons for refusing. Besides, Im not the one who has a score to settle with Saber. Rather, its the key bearers who have a score to settle with him. I find it more justified for them to break the link entirely, and to help wipe away an old grudge from ones mind.-
An old grudge, Sora asked, What kind of grudge?
The grudge that Saber holds against you two. He has mentioned it at least once, am I correct?-
I wouldnt be able to recall. Riku said. What grudge does he hold against us?
Is there anything else you need to tell us about Saber, Colonel?-
Well, Ophelia said, There is one thing. Its regarding the death reports of each of those close friends and allies Riku and Sora knew. Apparently, Saber left a mark on each of them, carving a message on their chests with his sword. The message always read the same.
What was the message? Leon asked.

It seems Saber is holding a strong vendetta against Riku and Sora. Thundro said.
Could someone please tell us what it is that we did to Saber? Riku demanded.
Now is not the time. Thundro faced the key bearers. We spent enough time blathering about this predicament. Lets focus on the matter at hand. You need to become stronger and Im the man to do that. Now, if you please. Riku and Sora put their hands of Thundros shoulders. Thundro turned to Ophelia, Goten, and Leon. Pass the word along to Sneer and the rest of the Alliance. I will train the key bearers and make them stronger. Give me three weeks to bulk them up. Three weeks is all Im asking.
Three weeks? Leon said.
But thats an awfully long time. Goten added. A lot can happen in three weeks.
Then you idiots better not dawdle and make sure to prevent anything of a negative nature from occurring for that extension. And Ill do what I can to make the key bearers stronger. Hopefully, our labors will bear fruit. With that, Thundro concentrated his energy and he and the two key bearers vanished from sight.
Oh man, Goten uttered, When the axe will fall.
Well, Ophelia said, Riku and Sora will be absent for three weeks. So its up to us to keep anything drastic from happening.
Like what? Donald asked.
If Saber has enough nerve to take over worlds and kill our closest comrades, then well do the same thing. We do all in our power to make the Imperial Axis quiver. Ophelia turned to her comrades. Are you guys with me?
Yeah, they replied.

Thundro, Riku, and Sora reappeared in the entrance hall of the Death Lords secret realm.
The day grows late, gentlemen. Thundro said. You two may spend this final day of freedom as you like. Get a good nights rest tonight, because tomorrow, you two are all mine. You will undergo training that can only be described as pure hell. And because we only have three weeks, I will make sure to push you ten times harder than whats usually expected.-
I see& Riku replied.
Now if you would be so kind as to follow me, I will take you to your quarters. Thundro led the way with the key bearers behind him. They headed down the East Wing to the apprentice chamber. He opened the door to their room.
The room itself was rather small and bare, having only walls, a ceiling, and floor made entirely out of cement. There was a tiny cubical where the bathroom was, with toilet, shower, and sink. There was also an old wooden wardrobe where they could hang their clothing. There were two small beds lying side by side, making an almost hallway effect in the already narrow room. There were blankets and sheets neatly folded. And above each bed was a light. The only light used to illuminate the room.
You boys will be sleeping here in the Apprentice room. Thundro said. The key bearers were anything, but impressed with their accommodations.
Its a little cramped dont you think? Sora asked.
Sorry boys, but you wont be given any type of luxury here, only the basics.-
Well, couldnt we at least have our own rooms? Riku requested.
You two are a team correct? You always brag about your bond with one another. Well, as a team, you have to know how to fight together, work together, and at times suffer and die together. So in order to enforce that, you two will be living together in the same room. Now it gets very cold in these rooms and very lonely. And there are only three of us here. The only ones you can really rely on for comfort is one another, because Im not the compassionate type. So dont come bawling to me for sympathy. Thundro walked in and opened up the wardrobe. Also, since you two will be training under me, I expect uniformity. You will wear these Imperial uniforms for the duration of the three weeks that you are here. There will be no more individuality for the next twenty-one days. You will follow every order, every rule, every commandment, and my strict curfew to the letter. If you botch yourselves up, I will force both of you to train harder to the brink of death. In many cases that is what you will expect. By the end of the third week, youll be wishing for death, but at the same time would have gained something greater in return. For this day only, your door will remain unlocked. But when youre training, youll be locked in this room for the duration of the night. Its not only a team effort, but also individual endurance. Thundro turned about. You have until ten oclock, so enjoy your freedom while it still lingers. Thus, I take my leave. The Imperial retired to his own quarters.
Wait, Sora said, halting Thundro in his place. I have one more question to ask you.
What is it?-
Its about Saber. You said that he bears a grudge against us, but what could we have possibly done to him that would force him to hold a vendetta against us?-
You know Saber more than what you claimed back in Traverse Town. Riku added. By the way you talked about him; you mustve been very close. Perhaps thats the reason why you said you refused to fight him yourself am I right?
Thundro sighed and turned to the key bearers.
I never told anyone about this, not even Goten. Thundro explained. I was very close to Saber years ago. Thundro seemed to gain a sense of sentimental feelings towards the mightiest of the Blade Generals. This puzzled the key bearers. The reason why is because Saber was one of my best students. It was I who taught him the elemental ways.
He was your student? the key bearers were shocked.
I always promised myself that if there was one type of enemy I would never dare battle, it would be my own pupils. I keep that promise to myself even to this day.-
So thats why you dont wanna fight Saber. Sora said. Hes one of your old students. Well, I guess I can understand that.
But what is it about him and this grudge he bears? Riku asked. Why does he hate us?
Its because of what you did. Thundro replied.
But we never met Saber until we started fighting against Sirius Viicous.-
It wasnt what you did to Saber himself, but rather what you did to one of his closest loved ones, a younger cousin to be precise.-
A cousin&?-
I really shouldnt be saying any of this to you, but if you plan on beating Saber, you should at least know everything about him, including his hidden past. Though I do not take pleasure in giving away the past of an old apprentice, I find it best for the sake of maintaining the peace. Thundro paused to organize his thoughts. The key bearers were anxious to know what he had to saw. Perhaps you already know that Saber is not his true name.
Thats what Sneer told us. Riku replied. He said that using that name was simply an alias he goes by so that no one could identify him.-
Thats correct.-
Well if thats true, whats his real name? Sora asked. Thundro again hesitated, but continued with his statement.
His real name&is Guentory Finnele.-
Guentory Finnele&?-
Thats correct, Sora&He also happens to be the former leader&of the Cavendish Shinobies. Immediately, the key bearers gasped, their eyes grew wide with apprehension. Confusion and endless streams of questions entered their minds, flashing instantly in their psyche.
He was&the former leader&of the Cavendish Shinobies?-
My God& Riku said. No wonder hes so hard to defeat.
Yes, Thundro replied, He was the most effective out of all the Shinobies, mastering all eleven elements. There was no other ninja who could compare to his skills. He contemplated ways of mixing techniques, studying the basis of chi manipulation, combining shinobi arts and Jutsu techniques with sciences like alchemy and transmutation. He excelled in his planning, making him the greatest general on the field since Marcus Durovano and Arinario Triiken. However, it was because he excelled in military strategy that his talents were later realized by the Imperial council. I recommended Guentory as a protg and that hed be given a special position as Chief Field Marshall, the officer who is in charge of all front line engagements and answers only to lords of the Empire. Thus, he was transferred out of the shinobi unit and took tutelage under the late Lord Exavier Crassus and His Excellency, Lord Dextera Viro. Thundro put his arms behind him and cleared his throat with a deep ahem before continuing. However, because of his transfer, the Cavendish Shinobies were left without a commander to lead them. But Guentory knew exactly who to put in charge. So, his cousin thus took his place as the unit leader. And he remained so until the fall of the Dark Empire. Thundro realized that the key bearers were again stiff with apprehension and anxiety. You know of who I speak, dont you? You should know him very well, especially you, Sora, being the one to battle and finish him off in Gombria six years before.
You mean his cousin was&? Sora said with a waver.
Yes, his cousin was none other than the late General Kai, master of the light element and the final leader of the Cavendish Shinobies-
No wonder& Sora gave that blank stare, turning away. I see now why Saber holds a grudge against us. Sora tried to walk away, but fell to his knees. Its because of me. Its because of what I did. I killed his cousin. I killed Kai. And now all these people are dying because of that grudge. The key bearer fell upon his hands. What&what have I done&
Sora, Riku said, kneeling by his friends side. You did nothing wrong.
I killed Kai. And because of that, so many others have to suffer because of what Ive done, because of one mans vengeance.-
You did what you had to do, Sora. There was no other way.-
But& Soras eyes were moist with tears are his head filled with the faces of close comrades who Saber had slain.
He intends to have you suffer more by eliminating those around you. Thundro implied. He wants to break your will, he wants you to curse yourselves for what you did before going for the kill. Only when you have torn yourselves apart will he finally eliminate you.-
So he wont stop until his vengeance is fulfilled. Is that what youre trying to say more of less?-
Thats sizes it up perfectly. But do not let the deaths of your comrades where on your minds. It should motivate you more to know that you have to succeed, no matter what the ordeal, in order to save the other friends you have left. Thundro gave a sigh and withdrew. Well, Ive said enough. You two keep your time to yourselves. Resolve this issue if you can. As of this time tomorrow, you will be training hard. And I dont relent even on the dead. Let your minds think only of the here and now. Thundro thus walked away without saying another word, leaving Riku and Sora together.
Riku lifted his friend up and put him on one of the beds. He sat next to the downed Sora whose eyes felled tears of sorrow.
It may sound cruel of me to say this. Riku remarked, But I believe Thundros right. We cant let the deaths of our comrades dwell on our minds. We have to use that motivation to excel and press on until we reach our goal.
Riku, Sora said, his voice slightly above a whisper, Why is it that when we try to do something good, it always ends up bad? Someone else is always affected by our actions.
I thought I was doing good, finishing off Kai back then. I thought I was doing something to help my friends. Instead, I find myself responsible for their deaths due to someone elses vendetta against me. Is trying to help others so wrong?-
Helping others isnt wrong, Sora. At times people try to justify their own means in order to maintain their own happiness. But in the end, the outcome is entirely the opposite. To gain our goals, we inflict some kind of suffering upon others, whether its taking someones possessions or taking someones life. I cant help that by fulfilling our goals, we deprive someone of their own. But it cannot be helped. Riku put his arm around Sora and tried to comfort the young man. What determines our success is whether or not we have the will to continue. Were able to maintain that will because of our strong hearts. And even if we lose, if we have the will to accept defeat, then we havent lost.
Kai told me before he died that he had no regret fighting and dying. He said that it was an honor for him to die in battle. I always regretted taking his life, but for that moment, I thought he seemed so happy to die.-
If thats the case, then he died honorably. Therefore, neither of you lost and both of you won. Riku smiled, trying to cheer his friend up. Now wipe those tears from your eyes, Sora. Theres nothing to be ashamed of.
Sora, unable to speak, lowered his head, giving a sad smile. Riku embraced his friend and the two sat silently together.


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