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Chapter XXXI: Improving Magic

Interestingly enough, when Kairi woke up, she found herself resting her head on Sora’s lap. Sora was still asleep though so Kairi took the opportunity to rise first. To her surprise, when she looked out the hut’s window, the skies were not as hazed anymore. Despite the fact that overall it was still a gloomy mess, the skies allowed the formation of small cracks where faded sunlight could pass through. I’ll take that, Kairi thought happily. It was some sort of improvement, but still the job was not done. Sora and she had to find the keyhole. Kairi wondered where the elusive keyhole was. She was not like Sora, who had experience in his past journeys. She did not know what the keyhole looked like or where it could possibly be. Kairi did know, however, that by sealing it, there’s a great chance Destiny Islands could return to its normal state.

Kairi casually tidied and moved a few old pieces of furniture over to the walls or corners of the hut then made her leave. Most of the villagers were probably still asleep or hiding in their respective huts or houses. Most of the huts that stood were abandoned, which added more gloom to the general mood. Kairi looked away and sought out Selphie and the others.

Back in the hut, Sora stirred and banged his head against a nearby table leg. Muttering in protest, Sora glanced around his immediate surroundings and flopped back against the wall. Then he noticed Kairi’s absence. Quickly, he stuck his head out the window and looked for signs of the girl. Long, red hair, Sora noted after a couple of minutes of searching. Once he located her, he leapt out of the window and followed. It was simply out of curiosity.

He jogged in pursuit for a few seconds, but then stopped. There was no need to stalk. In addition, Sora knew Kairi wouldn’t just wander aimlessly out of the safe haven and into the unknown. Instead, Sora went in the opposite direction to the entrance of the village, where Kairi and he entered from the day before. Sora decided he might as well tone his magic skills while he waited for Kairi. The water element, in a way, was his new toy. But he also remembered to work on combination magic and other advanced techniques.

Kairi took a glimpse over her shoulder at Sora’s distant figure while she continued on her way. She didn’t mind that Sora decided not to come with her; Kairi preferred to have a few moments of alone time anyway. As she watched Sora from afar, her pace gradually slowed down. Then suddenly Kairi saw sparks. And quite suddenly that was, as thunderbolts and brilliant lights were emitted at Sora’s location. Kairi figured Sora was fooling around with magic. Sometimes I wish I could be as good as he is, Kairi thought dismally. Then maybe I could help more instead of putting him in danger.

Kairi found a spot in the village that had a minimal number of huts around. Instead of searching for Selphie and the others, Kairi decided that if she wanted to improve her magic to Sora’s level, then she would need all the practice she can get. But all she knew was the element of fire. If a situation calls for a different element, what good will knowing fire do for her? Then Kairi remembered Sora’s brief lesson, about the envisioning of a certain element, the inner feeling of power that one could conjure, the one that Kairi wore herself out with. Having no knowledge involving the elements, Kairi decided to stick with fire for the time being.

I’m supposed to nothing more than a simple girl living on a tropical island.

Kairi cursed and winced at the thought.

No. I am a princess of heart. Tied to the Keyblade. I have to be tougher than this.

Kairi called out her Keyblade and swung it around defiantly. She sought within herself the same controlling feeling she felt before when she summoned the element of fire. Kairi attempted the task with her eyes closed first, relaxing her whole body, as if she was in meditation. She imagined the furnaces of Hell, in her opinion, the source of all fire. Then she switched the vision to the sun, the source of all heat. Feeling the influences of both foundations, Kairi muttered, “fire,” as the power within her reached its peak. Again in a swathe of flaming ribbons, the Oathkeeper burned with Kairi’s successful fire spell. The girl opened her eyes and smiled in victory.

Maybe it was the way she pictured fire. Instead of it being a deadly force capable of chaos and doom, the fire Kairi rendered was in the form of a work of art. Swinging the burning Oathkeeper, Kairi channeled what was left of her inner power into the Keyblade, projecting the fire into the sky in a helical pattern. The flames exploded miles above the sky in a spectacular array of sparks and flares.

No doubt it was a magnificent display of magic, but Kairi again felt herself wobble with fading energy. Why was this so? Is she physically incapable of using magic in series? Is she only allowed to use a spell once from time to time? It was a frustrating thought, but Kairi refused to give in. If need be, she would push herself over her limit. Thus, Kairi resumed her personal training. If she was to become a true Keyblade-wielder, then she must fight like one. Once again, Kairi began to summon the element of fire, this time the power within her surging to its peak quicker than in her usual attempts. A flicker of flames ejected out of the tip of the Oathkeeper before Kairi released all her inner power into the blade, releasing a moderately sized fireball, which crashed into the dirt a few yards away from Kairi’s standing point.

Kairi flopped onto the ground from the explosion, which she presumed would have woken the entire village. But after sitting and listening for a few minutes and noticing no signs of waking life further in the village, Kairi stood back up and initiated another session. She was panting though, as she was nearing the maximum of her stamina. This time, however, Kairi wished to perform her abilities with her eyes open. Distractions were everywhere. The looming, hideous, purple clouds, the random squawks of nearby birds, or even insignificant sights like dead trees or light dirt blown by the uneven breezes were all ways Kairi figured she could be distracted.

She kept her eyes open as she pointed the Keyblade to the sky and mumbled, “fire.” This time, conversely, involved more concentration from Kairi than her trials with her eyes closed. The erupting flames shot into the sky, its force knocking Kairi onto the ground, stunning her for an instant. By the time Kairi realized what the situation was, she noticed waves of flames raining down towards her from the sky. Eyes widening and heart stopping for a moment, Kairi braced herself.

Just as sudden as when she noticed the slender waves weaving towards her, the flames turned to steam just inches away from her face and body. Further into the sky, the rain of fire was dispelled by horizontal waves of cold water. Kairi, astonished and at the same time utterly confused, sat up and looked around her. Then she noticed further up on a hill behind her was Sora, with water dripping out of the tip of his Keyblade. If Kairi wasn’t mistaken, she could have sworn that Sora was smiling a silly smile.

“Hey, you. What’s so funny?” Kairi asked, resisting to smile back.

“This,” Sora answered from above as he released a small gush of cold water onto Kairi.

Sora slid down the hill to Kairi, who was still sitting on the ground, gasping and trying to squeeze some water off her drenched clothes.

“Pfft,” Kairi sputtered out some water at Sora. “How long were you watching?”

“Not too long. I came by when I heard an explosion,” Sora replied, planting himself on the ground next to her. “I think you really, really improved though.”

“Thanks, but… all I know is fire right now.”

“You can do the same for other elements. Trust me, it’s all in the visioning!”

Kairi assumed Sora did not know that she kissed him last night. Sora looked completely oblivious. All he mentioned was how he finally had a good night’s sleep, how he ran into a table when he woke up, and the solo magic training he had earlier before. When Kairi asked Sora if he recalled anything from the night before, Sora only remembered a few things.

“Well… we heard some really bad news… and… umm, we visited my mom… and… I think that’s, err… I think that’s about it,” Sora recalled.

A two-in-one feeling for Kairi, as she was both in a way relieved yet disappointed. Shyness prohibited her from actually telling Sora how she felt; yet she wanted Sora to know in some way or another. Certainly she implied her feelings over many opportunities, such as carving a drawing of her sharing a Paopu fruit with Sora in the Secret Place, not to mention casually hugging him, and even holding hands with him at times. Still, Kairi couldn’t blame Sora. His naivety was the cause, yet the same naivety charmed her.

“Hmm, yeah,” Kairi decided finally.

“Hey, you two!” a voice called from above the hill. Sora and Kairi turned around to see Selphie sitting on top of the hill. “Watcha guys doing?”

“Nothing much, Selphie. Come on over,” Kairi called.

“When this is all settled out, it’ll probably be just in time for school again,” Selphie said as she sat down next to Kairi.

School, Sora thought. I totally forgot. “Err… school?”

“A place where you learn, Sora,” Selphie snickered. “Oh yeah, I forgot. You and Riku haven’t been in one for so long. You think you guys will get left back or something?”

I’ve got other things more important to think about right now, Sora wanted to say. “Ah, I don’t know. Hope not.”

“Hey, Selphie. Just wondering… have you seen a keyhole or something of the sort anywhere before?” Kairi asked.

“Keyhole,” Selphie wondered. “Oh?isn’t there something like that in the place where you and Sora go all the time? You know, the door you told me?”

Sora stood up abruptly.

“Sora?” Kairi asked in a concerned voice.

“I’m going there right now,” Sora said as he dashed over the hill and out of sight.

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