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Chapter 23 - Fight Back

Trapped in an unknown world swallowed in ultimate darkness, Sora and Riku must escape anyway possible! But someone lurks in the shadows ...

Its not the end of the world ... Its the end of the Universe!

Chapter 23 - Fight Back

Chapter 23 - Fight Back
The Organization’s Number XV: Xaphire strode out from the Dark Portal, keeping a tense stance as he surveyed his surroundings. Taking in a deep, exaggerating breath; his smiled and began to laugh in a dark tone. This, however, had been forced out. He couldn’t care less for anything, only his ultimate goal. This forced out expression disappeared in an instant; causing him to show a blank, cold glare.
“Castle Oblivion … oh how I have missed this place.” Xaphire shook his head as he spoke, changing his expression as though it was a lifeless mechanism. “It’s an honour to return to such a place that’s so … foul, cruel and irritating.”
As Xaphire had stated, he had entered the halls of Castle Oblivion. The surrounding walls were marble white, giving a mysterious sensation where in fact it was full of lies and darkness. On either side on the hallway, marble-like pedestals stood tall and proud. Towards the end of the hallway were a series of stairs leading towards the next floor of the Castle.
“You sound like you haven’t been here in a while.” An exhausted, broken-hearted female voice called out from behind Xaphire, echoing throughout the halls.
Xaphire slowly turned his head towards the source of the voice, and gave his usual, cold glare. Instantly, a dark, human-figured Heartless had exited the Dark Portal. Behind it, a girl with long, pinkish-red hair had followed against her own will. The Heartless had a tight grip on the girl’s wrist, refusing to release unless ordered to.
“Unfortunately, you would be incorrect.” Xaphire broodily answered, his eyes continued to pierce the girl mentally. “I was just here a few days ago, in fact. However, every time I visit, I wonder why the Organization kept such a pathetic place as their 2nd base of operations. For now though, it seems this will be the base for the ‘2nd Phase’ in my plan. I do hope you’ll be able to assist me … Kairi.”
Kairi reacted back with an enraged scowl, disgusted by Xaphire’s attitude towards her. The Heartless stared blankly towards her, showing nothing in terms of expression or emotion. Kairi gave a worried glimpse back towards the Heartless, not knowing what to do, only questions forming in her mind.
“I’ve been wondering about a few things that I want answers to.” Kairi began her questioning, hoping to gain more understanding on the situation she had been caught up in. “Firstly; why did you take away Sora and Riku from the Islands and then kidnap me? Secondly; what is my purpose with this ‘great plan’ of yours? And thirdly; what will you do with me once my purpose is fulfilled?”
“Interesting, so you’ve become curious about my scheme?” Xaphire chuckled in his dark tone, giving off his usual sarcasm.
“No, you just haven’t answered all my questions.” Kairi spat in detest, frustrated by Xaphire’s mocking.
“Well, only a fool of a ‘bad guy’ would allow their plans to be leaked to a vessel of the opposing side.” Xaphire stated with a terrifying grin, continuing to mock anything that comes to mind. “However, I will answer your ‘third’ question: once I’m finished my use for you, I’ll just dispose you like the piece of filth that you are!”
Kairi abruptly bit her lip, keeping a cool mind as she was bombarded by Xaphire’s insults. Xaphire’s attitude caused her patience to be push to the tipping point; it wouldn’t be long before Kairi would completely lose her temper. But Xaphire seemed to be all for crossing that boundary.
“For now, I want you to continue with your act as the weak Damsel in Distress, waiting for your heroes to come rescue you.” Xaphire continued with his insults, his horrific grin etching into Kairi’s mind. “Seeing as that what you’re only good at doing, I’m sure any fool would run to save you.”
“Shut up …” Kairi murmured under her breath. “I’m not weak … I refuse to be the Damsel in Distress anymore!”
There had been a tense moment of silence, Xaphire glaring towards her as though he would strike at any given moment. The Heartless kept a blank stare as it continued to hold onto Kairi’s arm. Kairi, on the other hand, continued to hold her ground, desperately trying to gain full control of the situation.
“Fine.” Xaphire abruptly answered, breaking the tension as her began to close his eyes and nod his head. “I see how it is …”
Kairi had abruptly been caught off guard by this, retaliating with a confused expression. Just then, a snap of Xaphire’s fingers suddenly echoed throughout the halls of Castle Oblivion. The Heartless suddenly reacted to the snap and stared directly towards Xaphire.
“Sora … stand aside!” Xaphire instantly commanded, signalling the Heartless to move out of the way.
The Heartless, or ‘Sora’s Heartless’, released its grip Kairi’s arm and did as it was told to. Kairi watched as the Heartless stepped out of the line of sight between her and Xaphire. Within that next moment, Xaphire stepped forward towards the cautious Kairi; he kept up a tough, careless expression as he drew in closer. Kairi’s foot shuffled back, ready to run if anything happened to her. Finally, Xaphire halted his advance and towered over Kairi, glaring down as though he was looking at an object that was in his way.
“From what I have gathered through Sora and Riku’s memories; you are the ‘7th Princess of Heart’, is that correct?” Xaphire questioned Kairi, even though he would ignore anything Kairi would say, “Now then, would you like to know the importance of a Princess? They are there to get caught up in a mess so that they can gain the attention of their saving ‘Prince’!”
As Xaphire began to abruptly bellow, Kairi hastily braced herself for the worst.
“And from what I have seen through these memories; you have already been a ‘Damsel in Distress’ twice and waited around so that either Sora or Riku could run and save your pathetic hide!” Xaphire continued on his rant, becoming gradually more aggressive. “Face it; your soul purpose is to be the useless ‘Damsel’! To add to that, you think you would help out in fighting with your friends but your attempts are WEAK and absolutely FLAWED! In the end … YOU ARE NOTHING!!!”
Just at that moment, Kairi had unexpectedly placed a foot forward, refusing to take in anymore of Xaphire’s vile insults.
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Kairi roared, slamming a foot to the floor, “If that is how you feel, then I don’t care! Sure, I may be a burden to Sora and Riku; but I’ll continue to learn and grow as someone more than just a ‘Useless Princess’! I’ll help them fight, and I WILL STAND ON MY OWN TWO FEET!”
Drawing in a deep breath, Kairi finally felt strong and triumphant for once. But as she glared towards Xaphire … her confidence completely dropped. Xaphire’s expression did not change in the slightest! He still had the cold, mocking glare.
“How interesting…” Xaphire murmured in a dark tone, completely blank in expression and showing a horrifying gaze. “So you’re ‘that’ type of Princess.”
Abruptly, Xaphire grasped Kairi’s shoulder aggressively with one hand and summoned one of his Great-swords in another. He swung his weapon effortlessly and suddenly began to threaten her with the Blade close to slicing her throat open. Kairi reacted with a gasp, attempting to pry herself away from the man’s tight grasp. Sora’s Heartless stood idly in the distance, completely oblivious. Xaphire then gave out a low, terrifying chuckle with a grin that could scare any living being.
“You always do surprise me.” Xaphire began to murmur, but Kairi could hear that his voice began to grow into the tone of a roaring lion. “You act upon your own but you just fall flat! You are just an embarrassment! So, I suggest you keep your mouth SHUT and do as I say! Do I make myself clear?”
Kairi trembled as she breathed heavily, unable to fight back. She kept silent but began to feel droplets of sweat seeping down her brow and cheeks. However, she refused to speak. Xaphire’s grasp tensed up against her shoulder, causing a surge of pain across her whole arm. The Blade edged closer towards her neck to the point of touching her skin, blood drawing out from the fresh cut.
“Let me repeat myself …” Xaphire murmured, placing more pressure against Kairi. “Do I MAKE myself CLEAR?”
Kairi slowly nodded, feeling that it was no use fighting back at that moment in time. Xaphire finally released his grasp, feeling triumphant in putting Kairi in her place. Kairi, on the other hand, fell to her knees as she placed a hand against the cut on her neck. Her heart racing and breathing heavily, Kairi felt completely broken. Her self-esteem had completely crumbled away. Xaphire simply turned and began to step towards the steps leading towards the next floor.
“Well, now that that’s finally settled; we cannot afford to waste anymore more time with this pathetic bickering.” Xaphire stated gloomily, refusing to look back towards Kairi. “It’s time that we headed towards the top of the Castle.”
With a fast snap of the fingers, Sora’s Heartless automatically began to move towards Kairi. Kairi hid her face behind her long hair in humiliation as she allowed the Heartless to grasp on her arm and escort her. She struggled to her feat as they began to follow Xaphire up the steps.
Kairi continued to feel completely lifeless as the three ascended the stairs of Castle Oblivion, her mind unable to process anything. She knew that nothing could save her from Xaphire and reviving Sora was out of the question. She glanced over the Sora’s Heartless, feeling sorrowful that she couldn’t do anything for him. She began to think back to the time where her, Sora and Riku, were living a simple life. The times where there weren’t any life-threatening situations, conflicts that decided the fate of worlds, and events that drew them apart. The simple life they used to lead.
But as they began to reach the 7th Floor the Castle Oblivion. A spark began to light up in her mind; the answer to the question she had long forgotten about.
How, and when, had I been taken hostage? Kairi wondered in her mind, realizing that she could only remember the days leading up to the kidnap.
She closed her eyes and separated herself from the real world once again, but this time to recollect what truly happened to her. And then finally, she found that memory.
“Hey, Kairi! Are you coming to school today?” Selphie called out in her usual, loud voice.
She had been knocking on the door of Kairi’s house, Tidus and Wakka both accompanying her. After her talk with Kairi the day before, Selphie thought that there could be a chance that Kairi may have broken through her gloom. But as they waited for a response, there was only silence. Selphie turned round towards Tidus and Wakka, who were both showing sorrowful expressions.
“Let’s go, Selphie.” Tidus spoke out, feeling that it wasn’t worth it. “Kairi may still need some more to recover from Saturday’s Crisis. We’ll knock for her again tomorrow.”
Selphie hesitated, glancing back towards the door of Kairi’s house. She then finally nodded, knowing that it was a possibility. They began to make their way away from Kairi’s house. But as they turned to face the street, the house’s door suddenly clicked open. Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka turned towards where the sound had come from and suddenly gasped in delight. Kairi had emerged from the door in her school uniform and bags, even though she looked as though her mind was very distant. As she caught sight of her three friends, she gave out a forced yet pleasant smile. She closed the door from behind and stepped up towards her three friends.
Throughout the day, Kairi had stayed rather distant from anyone at the school. Keeping secluded from others, no student or even teacher approached her during the school hours. Kairi didn’t mind this, feeling that the place was needed for her. However, she also knew that students were talking about the incident behind her back. At times she could hear comments from a distance such as, “did they disappear on purpose?” and, “I bet they’re gone for good this time.” Kairi struggled to keep herself calm whenever someone made such remarks, gritting her teeth silently and shaking with agony.
During lunch, she sat with Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka. The other three ate their food at their own pace, but Kairi couldn’t even touch her food. Her face lowered, causing her hair to cover her expressions. The other three noticed her and began to feel sorrowful, glancing towards each other with worry. Selphie shuffled her seat closer to Kairi, an arm reaching around to comfort her.
“Kairi …” Selphie sighed with sadness, wanting desperately for her friend to lighten up again.
“Did you hear what they’ve been saying?” Kairi began to mutter, her whole body shivering. “The looks they been giving me … it’s so painful.”
Tidus, who sat opposite, began to suggest, “Maybe it’s best for you to go home, I’m sure you’ll feel better after …”  
 “No … I promised myself that I wouldn’t skip school.” Kairi shook her head abruptly, beginning to struggle forming her words. “Sora and Riku wouldn’t want me to act weak.”
“But Kairi …” Selphie attempted to change her mind, even though she knew this was Kairi’s own choice.
“It hurts … I miss them …” Kairi began to murmur, biting her lip and tearing up. “I want them back … I want Sora …”
As school finally drew to a close, Kairi began to make her way home. She told the other three that she wanted some space to clear her mind. They accepted her decision but wished her a safe journey back. As Kairi turned a corner, she noticed the sun begin to dip behind the building, causing an evening aura to illuminate the streets. Kairi took in a deep, meaningful sigh and pressed on. Everything around her was somewhat quiet; there was barely any people about, and no sounds echoing throughout the streets. At first Kairi felt in was a calming atmosphere for her, but then realized this was very strange. The streets would normally be very pact during this time, considering that the school had just finished. Kairi began to scan the environment, feeling wary about this situation at hand. Just then, Kairi felt a sudden shadow engulf her whole body. She swiftly leapt forward, almost stumbling on her feet. She turned to find out who had caused the shadow to appear. She caught sight of a large, powerful figure standing right in front of her. The figure was hooded with a long cloak, causing his or her face to be hidden completely.
“You were the one who’s been following me for the past few days …” Kairi realized, tensing up her body. “Whoever you are and whatever you want, I won’t be a part of it!”
The cloaked figure didn’t move, just glaring at Kairi in a sense that she was the sole target. Kairi cautiously stepped back, desperately thinking of a way to escape. The cloaked figure then began to slowly step closer, holding out a hand as though offering something to Kairi. Kairi hastily span and ran, hoping to escape the from the cloaked figure’s sights. However, this was hopeless. She suddenly collided against what felt like a huge wall. Stumbling back, Kairi soothed her head, noticing blood trickle down her face. As she scanned what was in front of her, there were no initial signs of objects preventing her escape. But, as she examined closer, she realised that the whole area had been barricaded off by invisible barriers. She switched back, facing the cloaked figure once again. The cloaked figure had, to her complete shock, appeared close up in front of her. With once swift move, Kairi attempted to serve her way from the figure’s grasp. As she did this she flexed out her right palm, hoping that she could fight back. To great success, the Keyblade that Riku had given her instantly appeared in her grasp. Feeling refreshed and hopeful, she stood strong and aimed the Keyblade close to the opponent’s neck. The figure just stood there, not even turning their body to face Kairi. Instead, he began to speak.
“Interesting, so you’re not as vulnerable as I expected.” The Cloaked Figure chuckled with his deep, menacing voice, his body completely frozen. “I’m quite surprised, considering that you are a useless damsel.”
“I refuse to be taken hostage.” Kairi shook her head sternly, showing a determined yet serious expression. “Whoever you are … I suggest you leave.”
“Why…?” The Cloaked Figure raised his head slightly as he spoke, seemingly showing some heightened interest. “I thought you ‘wanted’ to see your friends again.”
“Wha…!?” Kairi leapt in horror, realising the situation. “You were the one that caused the Crisis!? What have you done to Sora and Riku!?!”
Suddenly, the cloaked figure slowly turned round, finally facing his opponent. Kairi hastily struck her Keyblade into the figure, refusing to hesitate. Even though she had asked those questions, she couldn’t allow a repeat of the past. But, to her frustration, the cloaked figure dodged the attack without any sign on effort. The figure then grasped Kairi around her nack and lifted her up, refusing to show mercy. Kairi began to choke, unable to control the situation.
“You may have a Keyblade but you have much to learn before you can truly wield such power.” The Cloaked figure snarled, his menacing teeth showing underneath the dark hood. “It seems you do have some uses though, I’ll give you that.”
Without any warning, the cloaked figure smashed Kairi directly towards the ground, causing her to collide her head against the solid floor. Not only did this cause her a strong head injury but the floor itself cracked significantly from the sudden force. Instantly, Kairi completely lost her consciousness. Her mind drifted into darkness, with the voice of the cloaked figure echoed around her.
“The chaos of your ‘island’ was only the beginning, my young Princess. Soon, all worlds will witness the catastrophic events unfold … and all ‘three’ of you will help towards this heart-stopping finale.”
Returning to present day, Kairi opened her eyes. Having finally recollected the full events that occurred prior her capture, she nodded to herself with a sad yet understanding expression. She then examined the area around her, knowing that it had been some time since they began the trek towards the top of Castle Oblivion. The room she was currently progressing through had then same style and atmosphere as the lower floors. However the structure seemed to be slightly different. She then scanned ahead, catching sight of Xaphire silently leading the way and Sora’s Heartless directing her. At first, Kairi felt as though she could attempt to break free and escape. But she knew straight away that she couldn’t run anywhere nor could she fight in her current situation. With a sigh, she decided to keep patient and wait for the correct time.
After a while, Xaphire halted movement as the three reached a final door. He turned towards Kairi with a low sneer.
“Through this door lies a unique room, one that your ‘other half’ could recollect.” Xaphire stated, showing no emotion in his speech as usual.
“M-my other half …?” Kairi echoed, glaring with a confused expression. “Do you mean Naminé?”
“That’s correct.” Xaphire nodded, but then continued on in a mocking tone. “However, you are currently unable to access her memories. It’s a shame; I would have personally loved to see your shocked face.”
“I don’t understand …” Kairi shook her head, unable to grasp anything that Xaphire spoke of. “What do you mean by I ‘cannot access Naminé’s memories’?”
“I see … so you haven’t noticed?” Xaphire wondered, giving a sight cocky smile. “Naminé is no longer a part of you. You and she were split apart whilst you were unconscious; meaning that you two cannot connect to each other anymore.”
Kairi gasped in shock, it did not occur to her that Naminé wasn’t inside her heart anymore. She had felt emotionally normal, nothing felt as though it was missing. But now that she knows this, she suddenly realised that her chest felt unnaturally empty.
“W-where is she now!?” Kairi raised her voice, causing it to echo across the room they were currently in. “What have you done with her!?!”
“Right now she is exploring a world full of nothingness … a place where she truly belongs.” Xaphire chuckled, even though he continued to constrain his expressions. “Right now though, the room through this door will be where you’ll be locked up for the time being.”
Kairi’s head sunk, feeling at a loss for words. Sora’s Heartless glared towards, seemingly curious. Xaphire glared with disgust, finding Kairi’s emotions rather repulsive. With that, he turned and pushed the door to the room open. The three followed through into the room. Kairi raised her head and examined this ‘prison’, only to show a sudden surprise. The room was rather large and suited the similar design like the rest of the Castle. But within a corner this room, there was a single chair that stood on its own. Surrounding this chair were various sheets of paper, whilst a small bird cage will a plushie doll inside hung loosely from the ceiling. Kairi stepped closer towards the chair whilst showing a curious expression, feeling the Heartless’ grasp slowly slip away. She knelt down and examined the sheets. To her surprise, they were drawings, showing various settings and characters. Xaphire watched with boredom, crossing his arms and beginning to think on what to do next. Sora’s Heartless watched idly, waiting for the next command. Kairi stood back up, switching towards Xaphire with a sudden change of emotion.
“This was where ‘she’ stayed, correct?” Kairi wondered curiously, however trying not to show any signs of weakness. “You and your Organization imprisoned her here.”
Xaphire nodded, but decided not to speak about. Instead he shrugged and began to head towards another doorway in the room.
“I don’t have time for such idle chatter.” Xaphire sighed, passing Sora’s Heartless as he spoke. “This room will be locked and Sora will stand guard over you. Right now I must prepare for the ‘2nd Phase’.”
Kairi glared sharply as Xaphire left the room, her teeth gritting intensely inside her mouth. As the door closed, Kairi sat down on the chair silently, gazing towards the pictures on the floor. At first everything was silent, but this only lasted for a few minutes. Just then, she began to breathe heavily, trying her best to hold back her emotions. Tears began to stream down her face, trying to break through.
Sora’s Heartless curiously stepped up closer towards her, tilting its head with a wondrous gaze. Kairi heard the Heartless’ footsteps and hastily wiped away the tears from her face, showing that she was in control of her own emotions. She raised her head and locked her sight to Sora’s Heartless, giving a very forced smile.
“I must look terrible, don’t I?” Kairi spoke to the Heartless, giving a sad chuckle. “I guess he was right by saying I was ‘pathetic’…”
The Heartless continued to gaze towards Kairi, seeming as though it was listening to what she was saying.
“(Sigh…) why is this happening to us, Sora?” Kairi continued on, slanting over on her chair. “We keep on getting separated like this, and I’m always the one that gets in the way as a Damsel in Distress. Even when I tried to defend myself, I just get beaten instantly like I’m nothing. And now, you’re gone and Riku is stuck in that ‘other’ Castle … What do I do, Sora?”
Everything fell silent; Kairi desired a reply, but knew too well that it just wasn’t possible.
“Fight … back …” a familiar voice suddenly echoed out.
Kairi slowly lifted her head, her eyes suddenly lighting up in shock.
“What … was that?” She gasped, eyes locked back on the Heartless.
Sora’s Heartless suddenly lurched back, placing a palm against its face. It knelt down and began to shake and scratch violently. Kairi lifted up from the chair, her eyes full of disbelief. Roaring noises began to echo out from the heartless, screaming in agony as it seemed to battle from within. Just then, the darkness from the body began to peel away and disappear. As it continued, colouring and texture began to show through.
“Y-you need to … fight back, Kairi!” The voice suddenly spoke out from the Heartless.
It then lifted its head, causing Kairi to gasp in complete shock. The left side of the Heartless face had withered away, showing a face Kairi had longed to see. She began to openly weep, but not of sorrow … but with joy.
“SORA!?” Kairi cried out with a wide eyed expression, unable to hold back her emotions anymore.


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