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Chapter 25 - Prideful Insanity

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 25 - Prideful Insanity

Chapter 25 - Prideful Insanity
“GAAAAAAAAAAH!” Vanitas and Ventus roared out in sudden agony, almost losing consciousness as they clutched onto their chests.
The world around them shook violently, mysterious rips rupturing in the darkened sky, releasing black mist into the Land of Departure. Within the Throne room of the Castle, the walls and ceiling began to crack and crumble apart.
Ventus and Vanitus both watched in horror, unable to grasp why this situation was happening. Vanitas switched his sight to the position of Sora’s dormant body, and that was when he realised what had happened.
“That absent-minded fool…!” Vanitas blurted out in anger, his teeth gritting together hard. “I gave the kid ONE instruction! ‘Be prepared for any unexpected encounters’! And LOOK at the mess he’s already made!”
Sora’s living body had been struck in the back by Xaphire, as shown by his chest showing a Blade tip; and thus, causing this ‘sub-conscious’ Land of Departed to receive collateral damage.
Ventus glanced over, his eyes wide with shock.
“Xaphire must’ve sensed Sora’s aura conflicting with the Heartless.” Ventus suggested back, steadying his feet. “At this rate, his body will fall back into the darkness.”
Vanitas sighed in fury as his body shook with rage, “… Fine then, I’ll just have to interfere!”
Summoning his Void Gear Keyblade, Vanitas stepped up towards the dormant body and pointed the weapon towards Sora’s chest.
“What are you doing!?” Ventus bellowed out in both shock and confusion.
“What does it look like?” Vanitas answered back, his expressions completely serious although a glint in his eye showed some hints of excitement. “I’m making my ‘Grand Entrance’…!”
Meanwhile …
Sora stumbled to his knees, coughing and wheezing as he clutched his chest is agony. Kairi hastily knelt by his side, covering his wound and supporting him as much as she possibly could. Xaphire stood over the two with vacant, dead-like eyes; no emotion conjured within him whatsoever as he watched the boy suffer. 
“I must hand it to you, Sora … you’re certainly persistent.” The menacing Nobody murmured, clutching his two golden-blade great-swords that were by his side. “Whatever luck you may have on your side, I’ll be sure to dissipate it immediately.”
Kairi lifted her head as a horrified gasp escaped her, her glaring eyes stricken with terror. Sora, on the other hand, was far too wounded to react, his expression hidden away as his body drooped. He struggled to breathe, almost at the point of losing consciousness. Considering he had only just returned to his own body … he couldn’t help but feel useless in this situation.
With a blade now risen high, Xaphire prepared to strike once again … this time with the intention of ending Sora’s life once again.
With no evidence of hesitation, he struck downwards.
“NO!!!” Kairi screamed out, embracing Sora in desperation of protecting him.
“What the-!?” Xaphire bellowed in shock, feeling his weapon suddenly jolt to a halt.
Kairi, having closed her eyes momentarily, had opened them to the shock of her life. Sora, his face still hidden from view, had parried the incoming blade with his own Keyblade of Darkness. The two weapons were now locked in place, forcing against one another in hopes of gaining the upper hand.
During this time…
“Heh-heh-heh-hee…” A low, dark-toned chuckle escaped from Sora, a menacing, alien-like aura suddenly engulfing him. “AH-HAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!”
Xaphire leapt back with the utmost caution, keeping a firm grasp on his weapons as he braced waited for a follow up attack. Kairi also drew back; completely oblivious to what was happening with Sora. With wide eyes and a stuttering tremble, she watched as he rose up to his feet.
All that could be seen at this point was a dark, menacing grin eclipsing his mug, the rest of his expression hidden away behind the fringe of his hair.
Just then, Sora leapt forward with incredible speed, targeting Xaphire with unyielding malice. Within the span of a few milliseconds, he had curved the Keyblade in a swooping arc with pinpoint precision. Xaphire was just able to predict the incoming strike, adjusting the position of his sword accordingly.
The two clashed blades once again, Xaphire deflecting Sora’s Keyblade in an instant and following through with returning counter move. However, the effort was futile as Sora was able to simply evade the sword’s blade, using this opportunity to string a flurry of attacks.
Due to the immense momentum of both combatants, it was almost impossible to grasp a clear visual of the battle’s progression. The two were non-stop throwing attacks at one another without any signs of delay or fatigue.
That being said, Kairi found that there was something peculiar with Sora’s fight pattern, giving off a rather uncomfortable vibe regarding the matter. This, along with Sora’s manic laughter, made Kairi consider the possibility that his sub-consciousness was hijacked by some other identity.
At first, she thought this to be a case of his Heartless’ psychological influence, given that the darkness was still engulfing much of his body. Yet, the way he was throwing himself into the conflict and performing abnormal moves proved that this wasn’t exactly the case.
Whoever this entity was … Kairi knew that his intentions were not favourable.
Finally, both Sora and Xaphire came to a momentary stalemate, Swords and Keyblade locked against one another without any desire of separating. Sparks were flying at every direction, showing the sheer intensity of their power.
Xaphire glared at his opponent with a disgusted snarl, finding this as a major inconvenience. Sora, on the other hand, continued to chuckle away manically, enjoying every second of this encounter.
It was at this moment … that Sora raised his head and met eyes with his enemy.
Xaphire’s grimacing turned to a wide-eyed gasp, shocked at the sight of what stood before him.
“Aah-ha-ha-haa…! Where’s all those ‘fighting words’ you were waffling on about not too long ago? Could it be that you’ve lost a nerve?”
His gaze horrifyingly intense, the irises of Sora’s sharp piercing eyes had now shifted to a dark-golden sheen. Through this new, subtle transformation, Xaphire could see the dark, twisted heart that took form within Sora’s body.
“Tch!” Xaphire tutted arrogantly as he tensed up, “This is getting ridiculous…? Who – and what – are you? Are you a part of Sora’s heart that I was not made aware of?”
A twisted smirk grew from Sora.
“Heh-heh! Oh, trust me; Sora’s heart is basically a sanctuary for the lost souls at this point.” He admitted amusingly in a whimsical tone, toying with his opponent. “I admit … it does get rather crowded in there sometimes.”
“You didn’t answer my question…” Xaphire growled irritably, finding the egotistical personality that opposed rather annoying. “Who. Are. YOU?”
“Oh-hoh! Where are my manners?” Sora – or the entity seen to be Sora – teased in an exaggerated way, menacingly grinning at Xaphire.
Xaphire tensed up in caution, feeling the atmosphere around him grow immensely cold within a matter of seconds.
“My name is Vanitas: the embodiment of Darkness itself.”
“Van…itas…?” Xaphire murmured in echo, uncertain on how to approach this mysterious entity. “Well, ‘Vanitas’ … If you want to get in my way, so be it. Just don’t think for a second that you’ve gained the upper-hand.”
“Oh-hoh! You don’t need to worry about that.” Vanitas snickered carelessly, strengthening his resistance against the two opposing blades. “You see, I don’t need to ‘think’ I have the upper-hand … because I already I have.”
In that instant, Vanitas lifted up his free hand – still grasping the Keyblade of Darkness in his other – and summoned a mysterious secondary weapon shrouded in dark mist.
The confidence, cockiness, and lack-of-care in Xaphire’s eyes was now a distant memory, now replaced with sheer disdain for this new opponent. In retaliation, he readied his Blades as he prepared for a continuing bout.
“Let’s … even up the playing field!” Vanitas yelled out with anticipation.
Flick! VROOM!!!
At the flick of his wrist, the mysterious secondary weapon in his left hand revealed itself in a flash.
It was another Keyblade – the Void Gear.
“…Try not to blink!” Vanitas growled with a manic smile, taking on a duel-wielded battle-stance.
In immediate reaction, Xaphire’ eyes shot open.
Without a second of hesitation, Vanitas launched himself upon his opponent, both the Keyblade of Darkness and the Void Gear held tightly in his grasps. The power in his leap sent a colossal shockwave throughout the room, causing the entire place to shake violently.
Xaphire had no time to react, bracing with his blades crossed before him for the impact that was to come.
Feeling an abrupt sense of dread, Kairi – who had been watching the entire event unfold in complete shock and terror – took it upon herself to leap out of the way before she would be caught in the crossfire.
It was the right move.
The two combatants collided in an instant, erupting in a rapid clash of blades that tore through the sound-barrier. The force of the collision itself sent both Xaphire and Vanitas through one of the walls of the room, causing it to explode into rubble.
Covering herself from the blast, Kairi dare not cast a glance upon the chaos in hope that she would not be caught in the crossfire.
At first, all she could hear was the clashing and the explosions.
…And then, silence followed.
Carefully, Kairi lifted her head from the cover of her arms, praying she had not gained a false sense of security.
To her surprise, neither Xaphire nor Vanitas were in the room. What was left in their wake was an obliterated wall crumbling before her. She had no idea what was happening and could only imagine the chaos erupting form the two fighters.
Where … did they go?
She curiously wondered where they had both flown off to – mainly in crippling concern for Sora’s well-being … even is the consciousness controlling his body was not Sora.
Zip-zip-zip…! Clash-Bang!
And then, the distant sounds of numerous blades clashing amongst one another began to erupt from far away.
Taking to her feet, Kairi felt the urge to run towards the fight – even though she was fully aware of the consequence.
“…I’m going to regret this.” She murmured bitterly, kicking herself as she leapt into a swift run.
She passed through the large gap in the wall and followed the corridor towards the sounds of the battle erupting in the distance.

Suddenly feeling a cold hard floor before him, the woozy Sora groaned out.
“Sora!?” A familiar voice called out desperately, the sounds of feet rushing to his side.
“Ugh…! What … happened…?” Sora questioned in his barely conscious state, struggling to focus his sights on his surroundings. “Kairi…! Is Kairi safe…!?”
“She’s fine for now … but you’re in no shape as you are!” The voice revealed, helping him rise to a sitting position – albeit with barely any strength to hold the position. “Xaphire almost ended you right then and there! If it wasn’t for Vanitas, all three of us would have ceased to exist!”
In that moment, Sora’s eyes shot open as full focus returned to him.
He was back in the Land of Departure – specifically, the Throne Room of the Castle. Beside him was a worried Ventus, supporting his body as an inkling of strength returned to him.
And sitting on the throne with the Void Gear Keyblade in hand … was an unconscious Vanitas.
“I MESSED UP!” Sora bellowed in furious anger, slamming his fist to the floor. “I let my guard down the moment I was reunited with Kairi! I shouldn’t have let myself get distracted like that!”
Feeling a sense of his pain, Ventus let out a solemn sigh in response.
“Don’t worry, neither of us anticipated him intervening so soon.” He consoled Sora, patting him on the shoulder. “All we can do for now is hope Vanitas is in control of the situation … as much as it pains me.”
The two glanced over to the unconscious embodiment of Vanitas, both feeling the strain of the situation taking its toll on them.

“YOU MAKE ME LAUGH!” Vanitas bellowed in manic excitement, zipping and spinning from numerous directions within a mere second. “You act as though you bathe in Darkness. That Darkness is your property.”
He swung and struck both Keyblades at every chance available, all landing a hit on Xaphire’s Great swords. Xaphire retaliated with rapid lunges and swings, aiming for his manic opponent yet unable to land a strike on him.
“Well, let me tell you an itty-bitty secret...” Vanitas then menacingly whispered as he abruptly appeared close behind Xaphire.
Xaphire turned in apparent shock as he caught a glance from the corner of his eye.
“…You’re a fraud.”
Lunge…! SLASH!!!
With a fell swoop of both Keyblades, Vanitas landed a devastating strike on Xaphire’s back, sending him flying across the elongated hallway of Castle Oblivion. The Nobody hastily recovered in the blink of an eye, twisting and arching his body in order to land back on his feet.
Vanitas watched him soar with heightened anticipation, showing no remorse for his troublesome yet amusing opponent.
“Wait! Wasn’t there a special word for something like this?” Vanitas then asked in an over-exaggerated gesture, playing with the Keyblades in his grasp as he waited for the inevitable retaliation. “What was it again…? Oh Yeah! ‘Pathetic’!”
“You scuffed my cloak.” Xaphire muttered without a lack of emotion, flexing off the inconvenient aftermath of the attack. “…Well played.”
Raising a brow, Vanitas watched his opponent with a slight thought of caution, fully aware of his tricks.
Without a hint of warning, Xaphire leapt up into the air, his blades in tow as sparks began to ignite. Halfway up from the white floor below, he halted mid-flight and locked sights on Vanitas like daggers ready to rip its prey limb-from-limb.
Swinging his Keyblades into a floating battle-stance, Vanitas excitedly anticipated what his opponent was about to unleash. Grinning from ear-to-ear, his burst of insanity finally reached its peak.
And then, an ear-piercing burst of power ripped through the air.
Woosh! BOOM-BOOM-BANG!!!!!
Xaphire unleashed a burst of overpowering speed as he shot towards Vanitas, his swords morphing into beams of light.
At the same time, Vanitas charged with his two Keyblades whilst an aura of absolute darkness engulfed almost his entire body.
The two collided, parrying each other’s weapons along with bursts of sparks erupting in their wake. Dark Orbs emerged from Vanitas’ Keyblades, spinning and orbiting Xaphire as they loaded for an outburst of dark power. On the other hand, Xaphire zipped from one direction to another, expecting to throw his opponent off course.
After a flurry of executions, Vanitas veered back and threw his arms forward, sending his series of dark-embodied orbs towards his nuisance foe.
In a split-second, the orbs collided onto the unsuspecting Xaphire, exploding into a blackened mist upon their impact. Darkness filled the room immediately, completely blinding whoever was unfortunate enough to be in the hallway at the time.
“Where am I…?” Eerily asked the voice of Vanitas.
“Am I here?”
What proceeded was a flash of weapons igniting at full fury, almost breaking reality at the speed of the attacks were powerful enough to break reality.
And then, the pitch-black Darkness morphed to a blinding light.
“How unfortunate…” Xaphire’s voice then murmured menacingly, as though anticipating a fatal end.
Bzzz…! KaBOOOOOOOM!!!!!
At that very moment, a red solar-beam shot through the centre of the light, annihilating all in its path. The beam expanded in devastation, sending what seemed to parts of the Castle’s flooring into particles of worthless dust.
The light dimmed … and everything returned to silence.

“*Huff … huff … huff!*”
Racing down the never-ending corridors, Kairi felt a rising sense of dread appear in her mind. The echoes of the battle erupted throughout the castle, growing louder and more intense by the minute.
Please be ok, please be ok!
She began to panic at the thought of losing Sora to the Darkness once again, knowing that she would never be able to recover from the despair.
Although it seemed impossible, she knew that intervention was the only solution at this point. It was barbaric, reckless, and impossible for success. However, deep down, there was a slight cast of possibility that the aftermath may turn in her favour.
As she turned the corner, Kairi slid to an abrupt halt, her gaze caught in horror at the sight of the area before her.
“No way…!”
The entire floor had disappeared before her, leaving a never-ending pit of Darkness with no end in sight.
She hesitated, glancing over the ledge as she searched for the existence of either combatant. She listened and looked for any sign of them, narrowing her gaze towards the black abyss below.
There was nothing.
And yet, she refused to believe that they – or, to be exact, Sora – had disappeared completely.
She then drew in a deep breath.
“…I must be insane.” She muttered to herself breathlessly.
And then, after overcoming her hesitation … she jumped.


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