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Chapter XXVII: Kairi's Magic Lesson

The Highwind smoothly took off again after getting jammed on a meteor in the void. After their little conversations, Sora and Kairi dove into their own worlds and reminisced about their words and their meanings. Fortunately, they were both smiling.

However, setting their destination to Destiny Islands was not a pleasant thought, especially knowing that their homes were in ruins and their family and friends were in constant danger. Paradise lost, Sora thought grimly. He even regretted not saying hello to his mother before. Not seeing his family for perhaps nearly two years was a horrible feeling. Shifting gears, Sora absently landed the Highwind on a random shore on the islands.

As for Kairi, her time away from her father was not all too bad of a situation. Since her father was of authority on the islands, Kairi did not spend much time with her father to begin with. Instead, she sought the feeling of family with the friends she had around her, especially Selphie, who, over time, became like a sister to her. All of a sudden, Kairi began to feel a surge of adrenaline erupt inside of her.

“Kairi?” Sora asked, as he saw Kairi storm out of the Highwind onto the beach. Kairi had the Oathkeeper in her hand while she scoured the landscape.

“Um, hey, Kairi…” Sora started again.

“Shh,” Kairi whispered. She looked around the shores again and sighed before turning back to face Sora. “I want to go back to Selphie, Tidus, and the other villagers.”

“To check if they’re safe?” Sora asked.

“Right.”

Sora jumped out of the Highwind and looked around the beach just like Kairi did. He scratched his head and let out an inaudible groan. Where were they? Sora wanted to hit himself for not paying attention to the coordinates while landing. Most likely they were on the western shores since neither of them had any connections in that region of the islands, thus never had the need to travel there. Sora thought about climbing back into the Highwind and reset the landing coordinates, but their mission at the moment was to seal the islands’ keyhole. It was a search, so Sora decided to start their search from the western banks.

“What’s wrong, Sora?” Kairi asked.

Sora summoned the Oblivion and pointed the blade forward into the coconut forest ahead of them. “Let’s go, Kairi. That-a-way!”

“Do you know where ‘that-a-way’ is?”

“Not really,” Sora chuckled, but reverted his tone back to sincerity. “But if we can, we’ll cut through the center of the islands and visit Selphie and the others… and my mom, maybe.”

“Good idea. Let’s go then.”

Seriously, Sora had no idea where he was taking Kairi and him. He had a hunch that he was heading through the heart of the islands and he had a hunch that the keyhole was probably at the heart of the islands too. It was only a hunch, and Sora prayed that his hunch would prove to be correct.

Just like the two left the islands before, the sky was still an eerie dark purple with blotches of black and green scattered across, blocking out the clouds, the moon or sun, and all signs of light. But through the coconut forest, the tall trees naturally blocked out the light. It was dark, and Sora constantly tripped over shrubbery and roots alike. Kairi, for some peculiar reason, had an easier time finding her way through the vegetation than Sora did. Quite possibly it was because Sora continued to trip in front of her, allowing her to remain cautious whenever Sora fell over a root or shrub.

Then Sora tripped over a huge tree root and fell head first into a large bush. He was stuck.

“Are you okay, Sora?” Kairi yelled into the darkness. “Where are you?”

“I’m right here,” Sora mumbled, trying to shake himself out of the oversized hedge plant. “A little help, maybe?”

Kairi sought out Sora when she reached into the bush in front of her. It was frustrating work as the bristles of the branches and leaves scuffed her bare arms. She managed to touch the tips of what might have been Sora’s fingers, but the prickliness was too irritating. She scowled, retreating back for a moment.

“Don’t you have like… magic that could light up the area or something? Any magic that will help?” Kairi suggested.

Sora thought about his magic arsenal. “Nope,” he muttered in defeat, more to himself than to Kairi.

“Nothing?” Kairi repeated, almost in an exasperated voice.

“Nope,” Sora answered again. He tried to move his Keyblade around, to slice through the thicket, but he could not move his arm more than perhaps ten degrees.

“Here,” Kairi offered. “Let me try.”

She hacked at the bush with the Oathkeeper, sending waves of panic through Sora. What if she can’t see me clearly and chops me into a million pieces!

Kairi continued hacking until Sora felt his sword-arm free up. Before Kairi could send another devastating blow onto the bush, Sora raised the Oblivion and blocked Kairi’s vertical cut.

“Oops,” Kairi giggled.

Sora groaned. He could have been mauled right there! In that instant he could have sustained more injuries than he ever had in all his journeys combined, not to mention that it was from one of his closest friends! He was sweating, either from fear or from hysterical laughter.

“Kairi!” he yelled. “Man, next time?uh, wow, I really hope there is no next time.”

Kairi giggled again and said in a singsong voice. “Sorry, Sora.”

Finally crawling out of his green prison, Sora found himself tripping over more roots and shrubbery. Instead, he sat down on the damp ground to think of some other alternative, any alternative, that will pardon him from hours of bruises and humiliation.

“Ugh, I’m stupid,” Sora muttered suddenly.

He ripped off a dry branch from a nearby tree and lit the tip with a weak Fire spell, forming a simple torch. Immediately, a good radius around Kairi and him was finally visible. Not surprised, Sora found himself facing a long path of winding, uplifted roots, vines, and other natural obstacles.

Kairi patted Sora’s shoulder as in a “good job” gesture.

“When do you plan on teaching me some magic?” Kairi asked, remembering Merlin’s task for Sora.

Oh yeah, Sora thought. He completely forgot about the job Merlin bid him to do during his journey. Truth be told, Sora had no idea where to start. He had no prior knowledge to teaching, nor had he any idea how he learned magic in the first place. It was more natural for him for some reason. Still, his uncomfortable shyness around Kairi recently bothered him. Sora felt that these magic lessons should get him over it.

“Right now,” he said abruptly.

Now?” Kairi asked. Why now? she wondered to herself. “Shouldn’t we be on our way first?”

“Yeah, of course,” Sora responded. “We’ll do this at the same time.”

Where to start, man, oh, man, Sora grimaced. Fire first? How about Cure? That’ll be helpful. Maybe something interesting like Water, I need more practice with that too…

Kairi nodded and strolled alongside Sora. In her point of view, Kairi felt that if she acquired some magic skills, she could easily be more of a help to Sora than a hindrance that always needed saving. Let’s see, Sora saved me? counting the times on his previous adventures?hmm, I would say… maybe at least four, five times? And I saved him, umm… ooh, once. One time, Kairi thought.

Sora continued to ponder on how he should get started on the lessons. In the meantime, Kairi and he continued to walk through the forest, with Sora’s torch lighting the way. The forest wasn’t too dense and soon the two friends found themselves nearing a clearing. They rejoiced; finally they were out of the gloomy, damp coconut jungle. Was this the same clearing they set camp in before? Sora did not recognize the region and neither did Kairi. However, an open area like this clearing seemed like an adequate setting to practice magic. There were even scattered coconuts around the edges of the clearing, making the area even more suitable for magic practice.

However, the package did not come without a price. There were rogue Heartless Shadows roaming the terrain in every direction. Again, Sora thought the Heartless could also be incorporated into magic practice. He snickered and turned to Kairi.

“So, Kairi, what should we do first?”

“I dunno. I figured you might have some sort of plan…” Kairi answered coolly.

Sora was at a loss. The entire area was set up perfectly for magic practice, but he had absolutely no idea how to even begin teaching Kairi how to use magic. Was there any prerequisites? Some things that Kairi should know and have before using magic? These questions wandered around in the corners of Sora’s mind.

“Umm,” Sora attempted to say. “Okay.”

“Hmm?”

“Take a deep breath…”

Kairi sucked in a big gulp of air.

“Uh, with your nose, actually.”

Kairi inhaled a long breath instead.

“Okay, um… now gently, and slowly, breathe it out.”

Kairi did as she was told. “Now what?”

“Feeling calm and relaxed?”

“I’ve been calm…”

“Oh.”

“Sora?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you know what you’re doing?”

No, he didn’t. Sora sighed and thought for a moment. He knew how to use magic?and he knew fairly well?but it was basically nothing but a skill to him, a tool he knew how to use. It was like Kairi making thalassa shell necklaces. Kairi had that skill and Sora didn’t. Kairi had the ability to master that art, and Sora had no clue how to even get started. Now Sora had the magic skills, and he was certain Kairi had no prior knowledge of magic and the elements.

“Kairi, do you have any idea how to use magic? Anything about magic?” Sora asked.

“I’m sorry. I’ve got nothing,” Kairi said, frowning.

“Kairi, take out your Keyblade.” Sora had an idea. All he had to do is hope that it will work. Kairi summoned the Oathkeeper and awaited Sora’s commands. “Umm… what element do you want to learn first? Anything. Fire, ice?”

“Fire sounds good.”

“Okay. Close your eyes and imagine fire,” Sora ordered. He used the same method Merlin used on him before. “Feel the fire, Kairi. Imagine that it surrounds you and you can control it. Give it time.”

Kairi was in a trance. Sora was glad that at least Kairi had a great deal of attentiveness and diligence and was concentrating. He waited a few minutes for any progress from Kairi.

“When you feel it, try to send the energy through the Keyblade,” Sora added.

Kairi nodded, but her eyes were still tightly shut. Her mouth twitched as she mumbled the word “fire” over and over. The normally white blade of the Oathkeeper slowly began to transform with a crimson glow. Sora watched with widened eyes. Progress! Kairi continued to focus on the element of fire within her, feeling the flames, the inferno, and the uncontrollable conflagrations exploding around her. Candlelight fires, tiny embers in a fireplace, a city building enveloped with flames, a wildfire in a forest, explosions from a volcano… She could feel it. She felt as if she was a priestess that chanted the languages of fire. Fire was her power. All of fire was one within her, the heat surging and suddenly unbearable for her when she shouted “fire.” The Oathkeeper’s blade erupted into a band of flames, tossing untamed, dancing volleys of fireballs in different directions. Kairi was sweating profusely while the flames on the Keyblade gradually died out. She sat down, panting, tossing the Oathkeeper to one side. She was exhausted.

As for Sora, he couldn’t be more surprised and proud at the same time. Was this seriously his childhood friend? Was this really the Kairi he knew, the girl he knew for so long? She is, and she came a long way, Sora noted. He walked over to Kairi, who was still sitting lopsidedly with her head tilted on an angle and her legs sprawled on the ground. Sora gave her a congratulatory, one-armed hug, and that was all it took to revive a smiling Kairi.

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