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Chapter XXXV: The Mayor

Upon arriving in the central village, Sora and Kairi were greeted by cheers and applause. Villagers were now out in the open, their eyes sparkling with relief and new hope. Many children were frolicking, and exploring around the village, unrestrained. Still, the majority of the villagers did what they thought they hadn’t done in so long: soaking in some sunrays. One man ran up to Sora and Kairi, grasping their hands and blessing them in a choked up voice.

“Bless you two kids, you’ve done what none of us attempted to do. You’ve saved us all!” he cried, frantically shaking both Sora and Kairi’s hands.

“Umm…” Sora stammered, looking at Kairi for answers.

“Sora! Kairi!” a boy called from further back in the crowds. Tidus charged out and beamed. “You guys did it! Look, the sun’s back out, the darkness is all gone, and everyone’s happy again!”

Selphie and Wakka followed closely behind. Both of them were also just as ecstatic as the rest of the villagers. The cheers continued to circulate all over the crowds, overwhelming Sora and Kairi. Feeling a sense of unfairness, Sora couldn’t take the unearned applause anymore.

“Look,” he said. “We shouldn’t get the credit. Riku was the one that locked the islands’ keyhole. He’s the one that saved the islands. Kairi and I?we just got there a few moments after Riku did.”

“Sora’s right,” Kairi added. “We didn’t do anything, actually.”

“Who cares!” a random villager shouted out. “You kids actually gave us hope! With your special weapons and all. We started to believe that there really was a light at the end of the tunnel!”

Sora shifted his feet uncomfortably. “Uh, how do they know about the Keyblades and all?”

“Maybe your mom shared some of your stories…” Kairi wondered. She turned to face Tidus. “Or maybe you, Selphie, and Wakka decided to do some storytelling?”

“Well, mostly Selphie, you know how she is,” Tidus said nonchalantly. “We told a couple of other kids and they probably told their parents, and you can guess what happens after that. Parents always tell each other what their kids tell them.”

“Is it going to cause any problems?” Selphie asked, walking up to Sora, Kairi, and Tidus.

Sora scratched his head. The cheering gradually stopped after a few minutes. “Err, I don’t think?”

“Hey, reconstruction starts after the mayor gives us his address,” a woman said. She stepped out from the crowd to give Sora and Kairi the message. “It’ll most likely be about plans on fixing up the islands and gratitude for you two.”

“Mayor?” Sora said, looking at Kairi.

“Dad?” Kairi asked quietly, more to herself.

The woman gasped, apparently Kairi wasn’t quiet enough. “Oh! You’re the mayor’s daughter? Gosh, he has been worried sick about you! For the past days, before the darkness came, there were search parties out looking for you… Kairi, right?”

“Um… yeah…” Kairi said slowly and timidly.

“Hi, I’m Tessa, one of your father’s advisors. I was in charge of your search and rescue.” She paused. “How unfortunate… I could not recognize you even after examining your portraits for such a long time. It seems like these past few days have just been too hard on everyone.”

Maybe because dad has been so busy that all he has are photos of me from two, three, or four years ago, Kairi thought unhappily.

Tessa sighed. “Ah, oh well. At least you’re back, I’m sure your father will be very relieved. Notify him that you’re here after he makes his address.” She turned and went back into the crowd.

“What was that all about?” Sora asked.

“Beats me. I think it would’ve been better if my dad doesn’t know that I’m here,” Kairi muttered. “Ugh, maybe it’ll be even better if he doesn’t find me… ever.”

“What do you have against him?” Sora questioned.

“Okay, let’s see, first of all, he doesn’t even act like a father. Twenty-four hours a day he spends his time in the office. When he does go home, I’m either in school or sleeping. I think the last time I talked to him was on the phone… last year.

“A year without talking to your dad?” Sora asked, surprised.

Kairi laughed. “Hey, you went through more than a year without talking to your mom.”

“Hmm,” Sora droned. “Well, touché.”

“Touché, Sora,” Kairi said, giving Sora a victory smile.

Kairi’s father, the mayor, was on a podium before the giant crowd consisting of roughly over half the population of Destiny Islands. This central village was indeed a suitable spot for providing a temporary shelter for such a vast number of people, being that the location itself was as large as any common town. The mayor was somewhat stout, but a robust man overall, standing slightly over six feet. A graying mustache and beard covered the lower hemisphere of his face. His stature depicted his power, upright and shoulders back. Thought the mayor appeared to be a formidable man, his eyes, as Sora could see fairly clearly (though he was at least a hundred feet away), were wide and brimming with gentleness and bliss.

“Hey, Kairi. Your dad seems like a nice man,” Sora said quietly.

“Yeah, he’s a nice guy. But… he’s… ugh?whatever,” Kairi answered frustratingly.

Tessa, along with another woman and three men stepped up onto the small, handcrafted stage and stood behind the mayor. Fixing the microphone, his suit, his tie, and virtually every small object around him, the mayor cleared his throat and ruffled through his pamphlet.

“Good afternoon, everyone. I would like to start off by congratulating all the residents here for their bravery for the past nine days. It may not have seemed to be a long time, but it definitely felt like a lifetime. The whole incident was uncalled for, a complete tragic shock that took many lives and ruined many others,” he paused for a moment and looked out into the crowd. “Tropical islanders like us aren’t too used to the darkness are we? A sudden change in the wind patterns, the sky, and the natural sounds around us bring about distress for all of us.

“Ten years I’ve been in charge as the mayor and not once have I thought such times of crises would exist on the islands. And in these ten years I have never witnessed a miracle. But surely, this is a miracle. There seemed to be no end to the darkness just the previous night. So dark that we have lost track when and what is day and night. And then this morning, I caught a few glimpses of the sun’s precious rays shining through the pores of the dark clouds.

“How many of us believe in fairy tales? Of once upon a time, of heroes, and princesses, and swords, magic, and happy endings? Now when I heard the rumors of two sword-wielding teens running about trying to save worlds from the impending darkness, I did not know what to think. Kids saving worlds? I’ve not heard of such things. I have yet to meet kids like these for myself. Then again, in desperate times, people need hope, any hope, to force them to keep pushing forward and live…”

Kairi was trying to focus on other things while her father was speaking, though she heard every single word. She tried observing the crowd, such as counting how many people wore striped shirts, or how many girls wore skirts instead of dresses or pants, or which boy had the shortest hair. Nothing Kairi did could prevent her from hearing her father’s voice, which she had not heard for a very long time. Even Sora, who usually did not uphold the greatest attention span, seemed to be listening intently.

“…I heard that these two kids are here in the crowd and I would be more than honored to meet you two soon. By saving the islands I would assume the tales were true. And maybe miracles do happen. We can only wish they happen more often throughout our lifetimes.”

The mayor stepped off the podium and motioned one of his male advisors to step up. A dark-haired man came forward. He appeared lean, only a hair shorter than the mayor. “If the two kids would like to come up?the mayor would like to speak with you in private.”

One by one, the villagers turned their faces to Sora and Kairi, who were both far in the back of the crowd. Many of the ones who were closest to Sora and Kairi began to usher the two teens forward.

“Should we go…?” Sora asked Kairi. “We don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Kairi did not know what to do at this point. Would she refuse and embarrass Sora, herself, and her father in front of all the villagers? Would she go and reveal to her father that Sora and she were the “two sword-wielding kids?” There were two choices and one answer…


“Yeah, let’s go,” Kairi said finally. No matter what, he’s still dad to me.

The time it took for Sora and Kairi to make their way through the crowd to the stage seemed to take hours. The closer they got, the more anxious Kairi got. The five advisors were by the podium, waiting to escort Sora and Kairi to the mayor, who was residing in a cleaned up hut.

There were murmurs and quiet whoops and cheers scattered all over the crowd as Sora and Kairi reached the stage. The three male advisors then guided Sora and Kairi and departed with them off the stage.

“Your father will be very happy to see you,” Tessa called out to Kairi.

Ignoring Tessa, Kairi turned her attention to Sora. “I really want to get out of here as soon as possible,” she said. “I don’t like anything that’s happening right now.”

“Same… something does not feel right for some reason. It’s too… happy?” Sora responded. Is that even the right word? “I dunno, but I don’t feel comfortable either.”

“Especially that Tessa lady… she creeps me out. She’s too… yeah, happy.

“And all these advisors,” Sora whispered. “They seem?”

“Enough chitchat,” one escort interrupted. “Go on in. The mayor’s waiting.”

Pulling aside a cloth that hung at the doorway of the hut, Sora entered first, with Kairi inching in closely behind him. The mayor sat behind a large mahogany desk, leaning back on his chair with his hands folded across his lap. Sora was cautious in entering. Despite the intense sunlight that now permeated through the windows and roofs of every hut, this hut they were in still felt eerily dark. It felt cold, gloomy, and hollow.

Kairi hid behind Sora and was out of sight.

“Hello?!” the mayor exclaimed, but his voice broke off. “S-Sora? Sora? How? Y-you? You’re one of the kids everyone’s been talking about?” He raised his head and peered around. “Is there someone behind your back?”

The mayor’s eyes grew wider and wider as he caught the glimpse of Kairi’s auburn hair over Sora’s shoulder.

“K-Kairi…?” the mayor stuttered, his eyes beginning to moisten. “Is it?is it… r-really you?”

Kairi did not budge. Sora was confused. And Kairi’s father was twisted with emotions. What the, Sora wondered. The atmosphere around the hut began to change again. From coldness and gloom now emerged warmth and bliss. The remnants of the darkness in the hut seemed to have vanished abruptly. Sora stood by, bewildered, with Kairi still standing her ground behind him.

“Kairi…” the mayor continued. “My only d-daughter, please come to me. I want to see you…”

“You didn’t care. You’ve neglected me, dad,” Kairi said quietly, her voice cold and unsympathetic, which shocked both Sora and the mayor.

“Kairi, don’t… don’t do this to me now. N-not now,” the mayor stammered, still in shock.

Sora slightly leaned to his right, but Kairi simply slid further closely behind him. “Kairi?” Sora whispered silently. “What’s wrong?”

“Kairi…” the mayor was still moaning. The atmosphere changed again. Sora felt it as the mayor continued to groan in agony. The dark tensions returned.

“Kairi,” Sora said a little more loudly than necessary. “Please, just… say hi to your dad!”

“My daughter…” the mayor groaned one last time before Sora’s attention was shifted from Kairi back to the girl’s father.

Kairi screamed.

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