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Chapter 24 - Fated Reunion

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 24 - Fated Reunion

Chapter 24 - Fated Reunion
“You want to help me out!?” Sora echoed with a completely shocked reaction, almost letting his guard down due to it.
He swiftly separated his Keyblade from the clash against Vanitas, executing a huge leap backwards to gain distance from his opponent. Vanitas lowered his own Keyblade as he watched Sora draw back, giving off a dark, horrific grin whilst shrugging his shoulders. Sora could not read Vanitas’ thoughts; every time his inconsistent expressions show, it seems more like an enigma. Sora began to slowly sidestep, gripping his Keyblade tightly as he kept his sight locked towards Vanitas’ direction. The atmosphere continued to tense up within the Land of Departure’s Castle Throne Room; the footsteps echoing eerily as the two cirled one another with caution. Just then, Vanitas began to give out a dark laugh, finding Sora’s reaction priceless.
“HAHAHAH! … Wow, the look on your face is golden!” Vanitas laughed loudly, his horrific voice echoing the room and causing chills down Sora’s spine.
“Y-you have to be lying!” Sora roared out, his anger suddenly rising. “Associates of the Darkness always lie!”
“Is that so…?” Vanitas teasingly questioned, giving off a dark, cocky grin, “Well I can tell you this right now: the proposal is no lie.”
Sora drew back in disbelief, his mind riddled with uncertainty. Vanitas glared towards Sora with dark and cautious eyes, giving an aura that Sora’s next few words were going to be crucial.
“That … cannot be all there is!” Sora abruptly bellowed out, feeling uneasy about Vanitas’ offer. “Offers like that always have some sort of catch behind it!”
Vanitas’ eyebrow suddenly rose up with curiosity, finding Sora’s words intriguing. Sora, however, kept with a cautious stance, making sure that he wouldn’t be fooled by the darkness. Vanitas silently nodded, a small dark chuckle escaping his voice.
“You’re very perceptive, Sora.” Vanitas horridly grinned, his golden-yellow eyes piercing into Sora like daggers. “Yes, there is something I want out of this deal, but it isn’t something I’m able to explain at this moment in time.”
“Then how am I going to be able to trust you!?” Sora lashed out, finding this unbearable.
Suddenly, Vanitas span around to face the Throne, spreading out his arms as though he was worshiping it.
“All I want right now … is to destroy the one who tarnishes the name of Darkness!” Vanitas announced with great ambition, his horrifying grin widening upon gazing towards the Throne. “Xaphire will perish … and I will once again become the face of Ultimate Darkness and Despair!”
Sora stepped back cautiously upon hearing Vanitas’ words, unable to keep a clear mind. He began to thoroughly consider the offer Vanitas had proposed, wondering whether it would be a safe idea. Both he and Vanitas wish for the same outcome: to defeat Xaphire. However, they both have completely different perspectives on the matter, even if the two of them area the exact same in physical appearance.
“I can see it in your eyes, Sora.” Vanitas continued on, taking a step forward slowly yet proudly. “You’re desperate. You wish to return to your friends and save them from their perils. However, you know in your heart that you need me … all you need to do is push yourself out of your own comfort zone. I may not like this idea myself either, but at a time like this … there is no other way.”
Sora glared with caution, unsure if the decision he was about to make was the correct one … but Vanitas was right; he was desperate … Very desperate. Sora lowered his head, biting the inside of his lip as he thought hard. As he continued to think, Vanitas began to show a jaded glare, beginning to feel this was wasting time for him. Finally, Sora drew in a deep breath and answered.
“I … I will take up the offer.”Sora murmured lowly, instantly showing guilt in the decision.
“NO!!!” A sudden distressed voice bellowed out.
Both Sora and Vanitas switched their sights towards the ceiling of the room, showing instant shock. Within a second, a figure had fallen from above, two Keyblades in hand, and swung to strike down Vanitas. Vanitas, in turn, had barely any time to retaliate and struck above with his own Keyblade. Within a split second, the weapons had all clashed. Sora, watching from the distance, could not tell where any of the weapons had struck but he knew instantly that damage had been inflicted. In no time, the two separated from each other. Sora caught sight of the figure landing close to his side, recovering to a strong stance with ease. It was the Armoured Boy from earlier. However, something was not right as Sora began to examine his armour closely. The helmet was severely damaged, allowing Sora to catch a small glimpse of the boy’s face: Blond, spiked hair; blue, bright eyes. The appearance instantly caused Sora to think of Roxas, but knew this was not him. However, examining the Keyblades the armoured boy had wielded; only one of them was his own backhand Keyblade. The other was a grey-coloured Keyblade, resembling an old-fashioned style including ‘E’ shaped teeth.
“You may as well reveal yourself … Ventus.” Vanitas called out, giving a dark, cocky grin. “I’m sure our Sora here has had it with secret identities by now.”
“V-Ventus!?” Sora leapt up with surprise, the name suddenly ringing a bell. “You mean … you’re that ‘glow’ of light I met back then!?”
The armoured boy was caught by surprise, finally remembering his name.
“That’s right … that was my name.” he gasped, removing his helmet as he gazed to the floor with realisation.
Upon analysing his revealed face, Sora was completely mind blown. He knew that there were similarities between the armoured boy and Roxas, but it still took him by surprise that they were exactly the same in appearance.
“I … am so confused right now.” Sora slowly admitted, gazing at Ventus with large eyes.
“For now … let us just agree Roxas had some ‘inspirational’ image tips from our good friend here.” Vanitas teasingly spoke out. “It’s just like I had done with your appearance ... except that I made it cooler.”
Sora placed a palm against his forehead, trying to snap his mind back into reality. Vanitas, however, changed the subject to the Keyblade Ventus had been holding.
“Tch! You really thought that would hurt me!?” He mocked, pointing towards Ventus with scorn. “That old Keyblade is useless without its maste, all it is now is a large paperweight!”
Ventus kept a calm mind as his eyes locked onto his enemy, feeling provoked to continue the attack against Vanitas. That was … until he abruptly switched to Sora.
“What in the world were you thinking, taking Vanitas up on his offer!?” He suddenly bellowed in frustration, gritting his teeth as he brought the subject back into the conversation. “You DO realize he had left you to perish a while ago!”
Sora stepped back with sudden fright, not expecting Ventus to have a go at him.
“I know…” Sora spoke out as he looked down solemnly, feeling horrible about the decision he had just made. “But … no matter what way I look at this, I need the most help I could get if I could defeat Xaphire.”
There was a moment of silence; Ventus was astounded by Sora’s answer. Sora couldn’t believe he would allow himself to set a deal with someone as dark and selfish as Vanitas. Speaking of whom, Vanitas seemed to have been the only one to enjoy the outcome, giving a snarky smirk and a small chuckle.
“So you are a clever boy after all, Sora.” Vanitas spoke out, complimenting the decision. “There may be hope for us all yet.”
“I still cannot trust you though.” Sora suddenly commented, refusing to feel overtaken. “The deal doesn’t sit right with me; how am I able to truly trust you?”
Vanitas’ smirk suddenly dropped, giving off a rare serious expression. Even Ventus had been caught out by this sudden change.
“If it’s that much of a deal to you … I can reconnect your consciousness to your Heartless body.” He admits, giving out a small, frustrated sigh. “However, this can only be temporary due to the amount of Unversed power I need to muster up.”
“W-wait, you mean that I can return to the living!?” Sora blurted out in shock, his jaw dropping with surprise.
“Yes, but it’ll take time to prepare.” Vanitas continued, finding it somewhat annoying.
Sora took a step back, taking a moment to allow for the realisation of hope to sink in. This was it. He could see everyone again; Kairi, Riku, and possibly his own Nobody: Roxas; even though this could only be a short time. Suddenly, however, Ventus hastily snapped him back to the situation at hand.
“Sora, don’t drop your guard, your friends are still in trouble.” Ventus told him, giving out a swift reality check. “You’ll never know what will happen the moment you hit the world of the living.”
“Not only that, but your Heartless is still under Xaphire’s control.” Vanitas added, thinking strategically. “It will be a struggle to gain control from him. If we’re going to stand a chance, we need to do this at the most beneficial time.”
Sora nodded, understanding the situation with confidence. Ventus glared at the two of them with caution, feeling as though this situation was a double-edged sword; it could succeed or backfire at any time. For now, Ventus kept silent, but became ever so cautious if anything were to happen. Instead, he decided to ask a question that sat in his mind.
“So … what will we do whilst we wait for this ‘right opportunity’?” He questioned towards his nemesis whilst giving an unfavourable glare, finding it disgusting that he has to ally with the dark being.
In retaliation, Vanitas gave back a mocking grin, knowing that Ventus had no choice but to comply with the deal. To answer the question, he gave a small shrug whilst chuckling away.
“Well, it’s simple.” He answered back, gazing directly towards Sora. “We train this fool and enhance his attacks.”
Sora became hesitant at first as Vanitas spoke out, however acknowledged that this was the only way for him to stand a chance against Xaphire and his overpowered attacks. He then noticed Ventus turn him and lean slightly closer.
“I don’t like this at all.” He whispered silently, feeling unsettled about this whole situation. “I’ve known him for years and he would never cut a deal like this. There’s more behind this than meets the eye, I swear it.”
Sora kept silent as he took this into perspective; however he knew that he could not go back on his deal.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to save everyone from Xaphire, even if it means having to accept this deal.” Sora assured him, giving out a serious expression. “But … if ‘he’ goes back on this deal, I will show no mercy.”
“Suit yourself.” Ventus nodded in acceptance, deciding to walk away rather than pursuing this further.
Sora watch as Ventus walked up to and leaned against one of the Throne Room’s walls. Sora wondered why he was doing this, giving off a confused but also curious expression towards his direction. However, this had been answered instantly and Sora felt several piercing jabs strike him in the side. Sora flew across the room from the momentum of the sudden attack, colliding against the floor within seconds.
“ARGH!!!!” He bellowed out in agony, clutching his side as he lay across the marble floor.
He rolled his head towards the origin of the attack, instantly noticing that it had been Vanitas who had struck him with his swarm of Keyblades.
“W-why did you do that!?” Sora shouted out, dumbfounded by the unexpected assault.
 Vanitas stood in the distance, grasping onto his Void Gear Keyblade and showing a strong yet mocking expression.
“You have to be prepared for any encounter you come across, even at the most unexpected of times.” Vanitas lectured on, keeping up a strong stance as he strode up to the damaged Sora.
Sora glared cautiously towards him, feeling his whole body shake in agony from the surprise attack. However, with the strength that he had, Sora took to his feet once again. His eyes were locked onto the swarm of Keyblades that flew around the Throne Room, analysing their every move. Tightening the grip of his own Keyblade, Sora drew in a deep breath and cooled down his mind.
“Fine … I’m ready.” Sora finally spoke out, his eyes glaring with determination. “Give me everything you’ve got.”
Vanitas gave a curious look, not expecting a response so determined. However, this had instantly changed to giving out his usual dark grin, amused.
“Interesting … let’s dance.”
The next few hours had been a constant battle throughout the whole of The Land of Departure’s Castle throne room. The swarm of Keyblades shot from every direction that had attempted to catch Sora off-guard. Sora continuously evaded and parried the swarm, some with moderate success but others that had backfired on him. Several times he had been struck down and thrown by attacks that struck from nowhere. Vanitas, in the meantime, had looked on with a rather satisfied expression and an amused smirk. He hadn’t even needed to lift a finger in order to control the swarm. He stood in the distance with crossed arms and with no intention to involve himself. Ventus, however, began to truly worry. Questions flew into his mind that caused him to show signs of anxiousness. Was Vanitas actually helping Sora to build up his skill level or just torturing him for the pure enjoyment? And will Sora be able to gain new and effective skills before the time is up?
Up until now, Sora had been struggling to gain any improvement over this training Vanitas has placed him through. Alternatively, Vanitas had only been using his Keyblade swarm as an attack method with no variation. Ventus needed to do something; otherwise Sora would stand no chance towards defeating Xaphire and Vanitas would just continue to mess around. Hastily, he leapt from against the wall and treaded over towards Vanitas, keeping clear from the Keyblade swarm and Sora as he passed.
“Do you think this’ll really help Sora?” Ventus questioned Vanitas, showing signs of uneasiness.
“Like I said before, Sora needs to learn how to prepare himself for surprise attacks.” Vanitas answered, his eyes completely focused on the battle. “As I have observed Xaphire’s attack style, I’ve noticed that he tends to use attacks that are used to throw off the opponent’s guard. If Sora can become more aware of this then he would stand a better chance in the future when he returns to battle Xaphire.”
Ventus kept silent as he glared towards his opposite, still finding the situation odd that he would go to such lengths to help out someone who he would normally do anything in his power to destroy.
“So … you’ve gotten soft, Vanitas.” Ventus then murmured, giving off a light teasing expression.
Within a sudden second, Vanitas had abruptly grasped Ventus around the neck and forced him to collide against the floor. Ventus was bewildered by the sudden turn of events, trying desperately to separate himself from Vanitas’ grasp. He then took notice of Vanitas’ glare; it had completely changed to being offended. The swarm of Keyblades in the distances had halted and switched aim towards Ventus; causing Sora, who began to show fatigue, to switch his sights in wonder of what had been happening.
“Me? Soft!? Whatever do you mean!?” Vanitas questioned back, gritting his teeth in fury. “My guess is you want to see some proof that I am as ruthless as I ever have been! Fine then … we’ll have it YOUR way!”
Ventus began to choke, struggling to pry Vanitas off of him. The grip kept on tightening, showing no mercy whatsoever. Ventus even struggled to summon his own Keyblade or the other Keyblade due to how tense Vanitas had been holding him down. Suddenly, Ventus caught sight of a pair of arms locking around Vanitas’ torso. Within one move, Vanitas was wrestled to the floor, causing his grasp on Ventus’ neck to break away. During that time, Ventus leapt to his feet, both Keyblades summoned in hand as he took stance. He noticed the one who had thrown Vanitas down had been Sora, who had now kept Vanitas locked in position on the floor. All of a sudden, Sora was forcefully thrown aside. The two of them leapt to their feet and summoned their Keyblades, prepared for conflict. Ventus kept his own Keyblade aimed towards Vanitas if he were to continue his assault.
“What was that all about!?” Sora bellowed towards Vanitas, completely confused as to why this sudden conflict had happened. “I thought you were meant to be training me! Not choking Ventus here to death!”
There was a moment of silence between the three, all analysing each other cautiously. Both Ventus and Vanitas noticed the fatigue in Sora’s voice as he had been panting and wheezing. Just then, Vanitas had been the first to move, losing his battle stance but not releasing the grip of his Void Gear Keyblade. Sora and Ventus both looked towards each other with caution, unable to determine whether it was safe to let their guard down.
“Whatever, I don’t care.” Vanitas sighed, shrugging his shoulders. “Once this is all over with, I’ll be able to return to how I should be. The worlds will be beneath my feet and my enemies will perish.”
Sora and Ventus continued to watch as Vanitas turned his back and stepped away, still feeling cautious about what to do. This suddenly changed, however, as Vanitas’ whole body froze. Within a flash, Vanitas’ mood changed, he gave off a small smirk and a low chuckle.
“Well, Sora, it seems that you’ll finally be able to see the living once again.” Vanitas coolly spoke out, continuing to chuckle.
Sora instantly gasped, showing a small yet growing enthusiastic smile. Ventus turned to him and gave a small chuckle, feeling rather pleased for him.  
“For me to connect you to your Heartless, I will need you to be secured.” Vanitas continued, pointing out towards the Throne. “You’ll be sitting on that throne for the time being. I will be using my Void Gear Keyblade to reconnect your heart, but this will mean that I’ll be a painful process.”
Sora nodded, he knew there would be consequences to this but he didn’t care, he wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass by. He swiftly stepped over and sat on the throne, feeling eager. Vanitas stepped in front of him, Keyblade tight in hand.
“Once you’re connected, the Heartless will be fighting back against you, so you needed to keep it under control.” Vanitas then explained, being sure to precaution him. “… are you ready?”
Without hesitation, Sora nodded with determination. He was ready for this. Vanitas then lifted up his Void Gear Keyblade, aiming towards Sora’s heart. Within one swift action, Vanitas lunged the Keyblade forward and pierced Sora’s chest. Sora gasped as the blade dug into him, instantly unable to breathe. The pain surged throughout his whole body, causing him to roar out in agony. Vanitas winced, feeling the force of the Keyblade shaking against his grasp. A black aura began to consume Sora, his chest completely engulfed. Suddenly, with a flash, everything froze. Sora fell into slumber as his head dropped and body slumped back. Vanitas released his Keyblade from Sora’s chest, panting as he tried to recover his breath.
“What now …?” Ventus questioned, stepping beside Vanitas as he looked over the unconscious Sora.
“It’s all up to him now.” Vanitas murmured out, glaring as he continued to wheeze. “Whatever he does from this point on … will bring us the answers we seek.”
Sora gasped as he woke up, noticing that he was in a completely different atmosphere than before. The whole area had been covered by a dark mist. He swiftly examined the area, unable to think about what he needed to do next. However, he began to hear a voice.
“… And now, you’re gone and Riku is stuck in that ‘other’ Castle … What do I do, Sora?” the voice echoed around him.
Suddenly, the dark mist grasped Sora’s ankle, preventing him from moving. Sora tried to shake it off but it was locked tight.
“Argh … K-Kairi!” Sora bellowed out, refusing to quit after going so far. “Listen to me! You need to fight back!”
The mist continued to engulf his limbs, moving up to his body in the process.
“You must fight back, Kairi! Fight back!!!”
Within that instant, the dark mist evaporated, causing the whole atmosphere to change from darkness to light. Sora gasped as he felt the light course through his body. He noticed that he had been kneeling, covering his face with his hands. As he loosened up, he examined his body. Nearly all of it was completely engulfed in darkness; however his left side was free from the corruption, showing his normal clothes and body intact. His right hand was complete black and oozing darkness; however, his left hand was completely normal once again. Sora gave out a sigh of relief, closing his eyes as he felt successful in overcoming the darkness.
“SORA!?” A voice cried out in joy.
Sora raised his head towards the origin of the voice. To both his shock and relief, Kairi had stood in front of him. Her eyes overcome with tears of delight as she had placed her hands in front of her mouth.
“I’m here, Kairi…” Sora spoke back in exhaustion, giving a cheery smile as he struggled to his feet.
Unable to hold back, Kairi threw her arms around him, breaking down completely. Sora nearly fell back from the sudden force from Kairi. However, as he kept his stance, he embraced Kairi. He felt her loving warmth sooth him, a feeling he hadn’t experienced in what had felt like forever.
“It’s you! It really is you!” Kairi cried, her face hidden under Sora’s view as she continued to hug him.
“I-I’m so sorry, Kairi. I’m sorry I let go of your hand.” Sora began to apologise, beginning to feel horrible about the event that occurred on Destiny Islands.
“I don’t care, as long as I can see you again.” Kairi sobbed, looking up at him with teary and red eyes.
Sora soothingly smiled back, refusing to end this moment. He began to examine his surroundings, noticing the familiar style of the room: crystal-white walls; marble pedestals; the large and empty atmosphere. He noticed a small cage hanging from the ceiling, with a small, blonde-haired doll sitting inside; as well as a small chair from behind Kairi. He couldn’t think of the name of the place, but he knew it was a place he had been to before. Just then, his mind snapped suddenly. He pulled Kairi away slightly, causing her to look up to him, and began to show a distressed and serious expression.
“Kairi, what happened? Why are you here!?” he hastily questioned, desiring to know the situation at hand.
“I…” Kairi hesitated, finding this all sudden.
However, this could not be answered. Sora suddenly lurched forward with shock, gasping out in pain. For a brief moment, everything froze, Both completely horrified by the sudden turn of events. Kairi screeched as she caught sight of a blade passing through Sora’s chest. A dark shadow began to appear from behind Sora, causing both of them to freeze in horror.
“I was wonder in where this sudden change of aura came from.” A dark, horrific voice echoed around the room. “Who told you that you could return to existence, foolish boy?”
Sora struggled to turn his head, gritting his teeth in both agony and fury. However, he knew exactly who it was who had stabbed him. To the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the familiar face that he despised with a passion. He felt the blade continue to pass through his body, agonising pain surging from the wound continuously.
“NO!!!” Kairi screamed out, horrified by the sudden outcome. “STOP THIS!!!”
“XAPHIRE!!!” Sora roared out furiously.
Xaphire took no notice of the two, continuing to plunge the blade into Sora’s back. No mercy or expression showing on his face whatsoever.


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