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Chapter XXXVI: Three Different Directions

Dad? Kairi could hear the word circulating wildly through her mind. What has happened to him?

“Kairi,” the mayor moaned as purplish miasmas oozed across the floor of the hut, forcing Sora to back away a few feet. “Why don’t you come closer…?”

“Dad, what’s happened to you? Why are you like this!” Kairi cried.

Sora was now fully aware of the situation. He grabbed Kairi’s hand.

“He’s lost his heart,” Sora said, to tell the truth, directly and not holding back. “He worried too much about you and dove into the darkness when you disappeared. We have to get away from here, Kairi!”

“No…” Kairi murmured. “How could he…?”

Now the haze completely filled the room, burning Sora and Kairi’s eyes, forcing them to retreat out of the hut. Sora coughed and rubbed his eyes. Kairi, however, did not fare so well from the experience. Her eyes stung from the dark mists, but she kept a blank stare. How did everything turn upside down in a matter of minutes?

Familiar yellow eyes appeared at the doorway to the hut. Sora whipped out his Keyblade in response and assumed a battle stance. Kairi snapped out of her blankness and pulled Sora’s arm.

“No, Sora, he’s still my dad,” Kairi mumbled, referring to the Neoshadow-shaped Heartless that crawled out of the hut. The crowd panicked and dispersed in every direction at the sight, leaving only Sora and Kairi out in the open.

“Yeah,” Sora answered. “Maybe you can save him like you saved me before.”

Kairi smiled. It’s definitely worth the try.

But before she could get close enough to her father’s Heartless to make contact, the Heartless sank into the ground and vanished. Kairi stamped the ground with one of her feet.

“Damn all of this!” she cursed in aggravation. She quickly faced Sora, her eyes burning with frustration and rage. She pulled out the Oathkeeper.

“It’s my fault isn’t it?” she continued to say while staring at the Keyblade. “I should’ve been a normal girl and stayed home all this time. A girl like me shouldn’t wield a weapon… especially a Keyblade. My dad wouldn’t have been worried about me if I stayed. He wouldn’t have lost his heart to the darkness…”

Kairi slammed the Oathkeeper on the ground and kicked it away. Sora said nothing and watched the Keyblade slide a few feet before it teleported back into Kairi’s hands. Kairi was shocked, but her tears hid the fact.

“Of course you should’ve stayed here on the islands,” Sora said as he walked closer to Kairi. “Didn’t I already tell you that I would prefer that you stay here? But you did say to me and Riku that if he and I left the islands, we would take you with us. So, we did, didn’t we?”

Kairi nodded and stared absently at her Keyblade.

“And the Keyblade… the Keyblade chooses its wielder,” Sora continued. “And this one chose you, Kairi.”

Kairi drilled a small hole in the first with the tip of her Keyblade carelessly. “But,” she said quickly. “It’s still my fault my dad is… you know.”

Sora sighed and gently pulled Kairi down to the ground with him. “No, it’s not, Kairi,” he said. “You gotta stop blaming yourself for things like this. Look, I blamed myself when you lost your heart before. But look how things turned out after that! It wasn’t so bad. You were safe. I was safe. And Riku was safe. Everyone was fine except the bad guys. So what makes it so different this time? We’ll save all the worlds that are in trouble and find your dad at the same time.”

Sora’s optimism finally won Kairi over. The girl smiled and leaned her head on Sora’s shoulder, her body relaxing a bit at last. The dark, purple smog from inside the mayor’s hut had dissipated, but remnants of the darkness could be felt radiating from that location. It made Sora feel uneasy, so he bid Kairi to stand up with him.

“I wonder where all the villagers ran off to?” Kairi wondered. “And Selphie, Tidus, and Wakka… I wonder where they are?”

“Eh, we don’t need to worry too much about them. Maybe they went home. Besides, there shouldn’t be any Heartless around anymore,” Sora responded.

“How about the Nobodies?” a voice resonated around Sora and Kairi. “Don’t forget about them.”

“What?” Sora gasped, summoning the Oblivion.

Two dark portals appeared: one behind Sora and one behind Kairi. Sora and Kairi backed up so they stood back-to-back against each other, each facing their respective dark portals. In a moment, Xymgrel appeared in front of Sora and Sarlix appeared in front of Kairi; the two Nobodies both had their weapons drawn.

“What do you two want?” Sora muttered in a hostile tone. “Didn’t you want us out of your way, not in your way?”

“I told you, we just want to figure out some answers?” Sarlix stated.

“To what?” Sora asked.

Xymgrel chucked the leather box containing Ansem’s Reports at Sora. “These,” Xymgrel said. “They tell the story of your previous adventure, don’t they? Well, of course they do, I assume you’ve read them. However, they’re not finished. How did your journey turn out at the end?”

Sora was getting tired of telling stories over and over, but he felt that he had to in order to get the two Nobodies off his back.

“What do you want to know first?” Sora asked.

Sarlix and Xymgrel looked at each other and withdrew their weapons. “Hmm,” Sarlix hummed, tapping her chin with her index finger. “How about… whatever happened to Organization XIII? And of Roxas and Naminé?”

Sora heaved a long, deep sigh. “Okay, the organization’s gone. So if you two plan on finding the members or whatever, you’re out of luck. As for Roxas and Naminé…” Sora glanced at Kairi. “Roxas and Naminé are in us.”

“In you?” Sarlix repeated, raising her eyebrows. “Elaborate?”

“In us, as in literally, in us,” Kairi tried to clarify.

“Interesting,” Sarlix remarked coolly. “And what about the organization?”

“Umm, like I said, they’re gone,” Sora reiterated and chucked the Reports back at Xymgrel crossing his arms proudly afterwards. “Every member’s gone. I beat ‘em all. With the help of Donald and Goofy, of course, and Riku once.”

“Donald and Goofy?the duck and the doggie…thing, right?” Xymgrel mumbled. “And Riku’s that friend of yours, huh?”

Sarlix rolled her eyes. “Yeah, haven’t you been paying attention to anything I’ve said before?” she grumbled. She sighed, “Anyway, what about Ansem. Is this guy still around?”

Sora and Kairi both shook their heads. Sarlix nodded in accepting the fact.

“Well,” Sarlix sighed again. “I guess that’s it for the questions for now, but Xymgrel and I will definitely need some more facts sooner or later after we do our own investigations?”

“What investigations,” Xymgrel muttered, to which Sarlix simply ignored.

“In the meantime, what can we do to show our gratitude?” Sarlix went on.

Kairi looked to Sora in question. Sora just shrugged.

“Maybe you can warp us off the islands,” Kairi suggested. Sora stared at her.

“You trust them?” he whispered.

“Well, yeah… I mean, they haven’t really hurt us have they?” Kairi whispered back.

“Well, Xymgrel just seems dumb, but Sarlix is really strong. Remember how she could just break my mind in half? I really don’t want to feel that again.”

“Well, maybe they really just want to find out about the nature of Nobodies. Maybe they don’t want to fight us anymore.”

Sora gave up. “Alright, alright. Can you guys do that? Warp us off the island?”

Sarlix and Xymgrel nodded in unison. Instantly they tore open a dark portal and stepped aside in gesture to welcome them to enter. Sora cautiously approached the portal with Kairi following closely behind as always. They took a few steps in and disappeared with the opening of the portal shutting behind them, leaving Sarlix and Xymgrel by themselves.

“You think they trust us now?” Xymgrel speculated.

“We need their trust in order to get any information. It’s the only way. For now, we have to play this game on their team. Which means, ‘support them’ and ‘go against Maleficent and the Heartless.’ That’s it,” Sarlix answered.

Xymgrel shrugged in agreement and summoned another dark portal. Sarlix and he entered it and departed on their own ways off the island.

Several miles in the air, the Celsius came rocketing through the atmosphere above Destiny Islands. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy were in the cockpit, with Mickey piloting and Donald and Goofy pasting their faces on the windows on the lookout for signs of Sora and Kairi. After soaring above the land and orbiting around the islands for nearly an hour of fruitless searching, Mickey began to feel discouraged while Donald began to grow seriously impatient.

“Gee, fellas, I don’t think they’re here anymore,” Mickey said slowly.

“Bah! We used to look for you, King Mickey! Now I can’t believe we’re stuck to looking for Sora of all people!” Donald began to complain. “And Kairi! When we traveled with Sora we’re always looking for Kairi! If those two aren’t with each other… if they’re split up in two different places?Wak! I’ll laugh if I don’t go crazy soon!”

“Don’t worry, Donald,” said Mickey. “I’m sure they’re sticking to their mission and went off to a different world… although I don’t know how they could do that if Pete stole their Gummi Ship, hmm…”

“Well then let’s go look for them!” Goofy suggested. “We can save worlds at the same time! Like Donald, me, and Sora did before! We saved worlds while searchin’ for you, Riku, and Kairi!”

“Yeah. Good idea, Goofy. Let’s not waste anymore time and get a move on, fellas!” Mickey exclaimed.

Without wasting another moment, the Celsius spun around and blasted back into the blue sky.

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