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Chapter XLII: Liar's Dice

Crashing and tumbling in the void, the Highwind spun out of control and landed brutally on solid ground. Pete, dazed and lost, flopped out of the cockpit and sat on the soil.

What is this place? Pete wondered.

A dark palace loomed in the distance, providing an eerie aura to the land around it. It sent chills down Pete’s back. Seeing that the Highwind was out of commission, Pete decided to explore his surroundings, perhaps investigate the dark palace that hung further away.

It did not take long before Pete’s presence was noticed. Heartless began emerging all around him! Pete backed off a few feet towards the busted Highwind and held his hands up in defense. They were a variety of Heartless around him, raging from simple, pureblood Shadow Heartless to giant Large Bodies. Countless Neoshadows and Soldier Heartless also surrounded Pete, and soon the anthropomorphic feline found himself swarmed with dark embodiments of darkness on all his sides and even overhead him. The piercing yellow eyes of the Heartless squinted in signs of hostility and moved even closer to Pete.

“Back, you twerpish Heartless!” Pete shouted as some Shadows began to grasp onto his arms. “Don’t you know who I am? I am Pete! I used to command you lots!”

Helpless, Pete was finally dragged away by the myriad amount of Heartless. Protesting and complaining, though with no significant effect, Pete found himself facing the doors to the dark palace he had seen in the distance before. Now he was at the doorway, held upright by a few Soldier Heartless. He swung his arms around to shake off the grips of a few Heartless, though he was still completely held back.

Suddenly, two larger Heartless emerged in front of him out of the ground, freaking Pete out for a split second. It was Syx and Grymox that appeared, both of them taking Pete away from the lesser Heartless. Again, Pete freaked out and tried to spastically struggle out of the Heartless’ grips. Both the Heartless commanders glared fiendishly at the struggling Pete, both snorting in cynicism and incredulity.

I can’t believe this guy used to control the Heartless,” Grymox mused.

Who told you that?” Syx questioned.

The mistress mentioned this fool before,” said Grymox.

Syx snorted and glared at Pete again, sending him chills.

“W-what do you creeps want with me?” Pete stammered. “I’m not affiliated with you things no more!”

You used to work for Maleficent?” Syx messaged Pete.

“What the… you can talk? How can Heartless talk?” Pete wondered out loud.

Do you see my lips moving? Do I even have any lips?” Syx mocked.

It’s telepathy, you idiot,” Grymox added.

Again with the insults? Pete noted to himself. This must be Maleficent’s place. I gotta get outta here!

“Err… um,” Pete mumbled. “Any chance you two’ll let me go for now? Y’know, m-maybe we can meet up some other t-time?”

Shut up,” Syx screeched and slammed her large hand on the back of Pete’s head.

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“We still need to find this key,” Will announced to Sora and Kairi, unfolding the cloth-like sheet Jack gave him before.

Upon revealing the imprinted image of the key, a pair of eyes appeared on the coral-encrusted wall behind Will. Kairi shuddered and pointed at the ancient face that appeared out of the wall. It was crewmember Wyvern, who was part of the Flying Dutchman’s wall. Wyvern’s history was a mystery, but it appeared to be a curse, one that bound crewmember Wyvern to the Flying Dutchman and to Davy Jones for all eternity. Wyvern breaks his head away from the wall when he heard Will talking about “the key.” On the wall, his brain could be seen hanging behind him.

“The Deadman’s Chest,” Wyvern said.

“What’s that?” Sora asked.

“What do you know of this?” Will asked.

“Open the chest with the key, and stab the heart,” Wyvern answered. He began sputtering, “No, no, no, no, don't stab the heart. The Dutchman needs a living heart or there'll be no captain. And if there's no captain, there's no one to have the key.”

Sora scratched his head in confusion. He summoned the Oblivion and waved it in front of Wyvern.

“How about this key?”

Wyvern shook his head. “I’ve seen none like it,” he creaked his ancient neck towards the image of the key in Will’s hands. “It is this key.”

Will ruffled the papery cloth around and thought.

“So…” he said. “The captain has the key.”

Wyvern gasped and retreated back into the coral wall. He had said more than he should have. In fact, Wyvern regretted coming out of the wall in the first place.

“Where is the key?” Will asked.

“Hidden,” whispered Wyvern.

“Where is the chest?” Kairi asked.

“Hidden.”

Wyvern fell silent, closed his eyes, and blended back into the walls, vanishing from the untrained eye. Sora recalled his Keyblade and went over to the spot where Wyvern sank into. He felt around the wall until he grazed Wyvern’s nose. The entire face of the crewmember was wooden, with dabs of coral chunks hooked onto various areas of the face.

“You seem to be wise, like you’ve been here a long time,” Sora said to the hushed Wyvern. “What else do you know about Davy Jones?”

The Wyvern was silent and still, as if now an inanimate object.

“Never mind him, Sora,” Will said. “I don’t think he wants to say anything more.”

Sora put a finger on his chin and on his lips in a gesture of thought. They needed a plan. If Davy Jones does indeed have the key, which made sense if the key opened something important for the evil pirate captain, then they have to find some way of obtaining the key. How? Sora asked himself. How does one get close to a supernatural seafarer?

“Any luck, Sora?” Kairi asked. “Did you think of anything?”

“I say we go back up there, and figure out how to get close enough to Davy Jones without him noticing. Maybe the key’s on him,” Sora suggested.

“Good plan,” said Will. “Though not too foolproof, but good enough for the time being. No one be too reckless. We must stay casual.”

The three of them crept up the staircase leading up to the deck. On the surface, there were crewmen still working on the masts, the ropes, the cannons, and other gears and accessories of the ship. However, some of the pirates were sitting on the wooden floor, hooting and shouting. Were they playing a game of some sort? Sora, Kairi, and Will snuck behind a few large crates and observed the chattering pirates from above.

They were playing a game! Using old, moldy dices of some sort. Each player had five six-sided dice, and each player also had a cup used for concealing the dice. Bids were made, and sounds of hoots and yells continued to roll through the air.

“I wager ten years!” a crewman with a hammerhead shark’s head roared.

“I’ll match your wager!” another crewman shouted.

Dices fell, cups were raised, and more shouts and yells were exchanged.

“What are they playing?” Kairi asked curiously and cautiously.

“It’s a game of deception,” Will explained. “Your bet includes all the dice, not just your own. It’s called Liar’s Dice.”

“I get it,” said Sora, after carefully analyzing the elements of the game. “Who’s challenging who, though?”

“I’ve not a clue,” said Will.

“In that case,” Sora chuckled. “I challenge… Davy Jones!

The organ playing the background ceased. The chatters stopped. The pirates stopped gambling and other stopped working. Only the crashing waves of the sea could be heard. But in a brief moment, Davy Jones’ peg crab leg could be heard thumping onto the deck.

“I accept thattt-uh,” Davy Jones called out. He cackled and sat down at a gambling table. “The stakes?”

“My soul,” Will interrupted before Sora could say anything. “An eternity of servitude.”

“Against?” Davy Jones inquired.

What are you doing, Will! Sora wanted to shout. Instead, he grabbed Will’s picture of the key and unfolded it.

“We want this,” Sora said, showing Jones the image of the key.

Davy Jones stared at the image for a few seconds, apparently surprised and slightly irritated by it. He glared from the image and back to Sora and Will.

“How do you know of the key?” he spat.

“That’s not part of the game, is it? You can still walk away,” countered Will.

Davy Jones hissed as he used one of the tentacles on his face to pull a large, black, rusty key out from under his vest. Displaying it fondly for a moment, the pirate captain returned the key back under the refuge of the slimy tentacles. Kairi, who was standing behind Sora the entire time, nearly gagged at the sight of the slithering tentacles. She stomped her feet and sat down in a chair next to Sora.

“What’s this?” Jones asked curiously.

“Don’t do this, Kairi,” Sora pleaded.

“Kairi, no, just let Sora and I do this,” Will tried to reason.

Kairi shook her head as she claimed her dirty cup and a set of dice. Sora, Will, and Davy Jones each got their respective sets. Sora stared at Kairi, not believing the fact that she was also playing the game. What if she loses?

“Ha!” Davy Jones snickered. “Three new crewmembers by the end of the nighttt-uh. Three fours.”

“Three fives,” Will betted.

“Four fives,” Sora betted.

“Six sixes,” Kairi betted. The atmosphere was feeling tense, as all three of them, Sora, Kairi, and Will glanced up at Davy Jones' smirking face.

“Huh, huh, huh,” Davy Jones chuckled. “Welcome to the crew, ya lying lassie!

The pirate captain was about to yank Kairi’s cup off the table before Sora interrupted him.

“Well, I think you were lying, captain,” said Sora.

Davy Jones saddled back into his chair and cackled. “And be called a liar myself for my trouble? Boy, you're a liar and you will spend an eternity on this ship! Ah, lass, feel free to go ashore... the very next time we make port!”

Davy Jones continued to cackle as he knocked over both Sora and Kairi’s cups to reveal five dices with different numbers, but both with a single four. Jones flipped over Will’s cup to reveal two twos, a four, and two sixes. And the pirate captain revealed his dice, showing a two, two threes, a single four, and a six. On the entire table, there were five twos, six threes, three fours, a five, and five sixes. Davy Jones had won with an exact bet on three fours. Kairi was one short on her bet on six sixes.

“Welcome to the crew, boys and girls!” Davy Jones spat as he laughed maniacally all the way back into his cabin. The onlookers resumed their duties and some chatter soon resumed its normal pace and volume.

Sora, Kairi, and Will sat in their chairs, quiet from Davy Jones’ overenthusiastic self-praising cheers. Sora could not help but notice that Kairi actually almost defeated the pirate captain in his own game. Nonetheless, Davy Jones was a supernatural being, who knows what he could do to enhance his possibilities of winning?

“Hey, Kairi. Why’d you have to do that?” Sora asked.

“Do what?” Kairi asked back softly.

“Jump into the game…”

“Who knows?” Kairi responded. She smiled and giggled. “Plus, I almost won, didn’t I?”

Sora was constantly surprised at Kairi’s ability to stay cheerful in such a bleak situation. Still, the whole situation was not a win-lose situation in the favor of Davy Jones. Sora still accomplished something in the whole matter.

“It was never about winning, or losing, was it, Sora?” Will asked. He knew what the accomplishment was.

“Yup,” said Sora. “Now we know where Davy Jones is hiding his key.”

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