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Chapter LV: European Theatre
A familiar feeling of pride and vigor welled up within Sora when he stepped off the Celsius and stood on the sandy grounds that lay before the Olympus Coliseum. Here he recalled the simply designed, yet difficult to solve training courses that were offered to him in the years past. Sora pivoted around to face the opposite of the Coliseum, looking for something. The entrance to the Underworld seemed to have remained shut, as it was the last time Sora left the mythical world.
The first matter would be to visit Philoctetes (or to Sora and his friends, just Phil), the famous “trainer of heroes.” Heading towards the entrance of the Coliseum gates, Sora wondered if the hero, Hercules, was waiting somewhere… or if the evil god of the Underworld, Hades, was lurking in the shadows. It was hard for Sora to imagine what could possibly be wrong, as the world seemed quiet?though not necessarily a serene quiet; it seemed to have an unnerving quiet. It was cloudy, windy, but more or less silent and still.
Sora pushed open the main Coliseum gates, followed closely by Kairi and the royal trio. He expected to find Phil sitting in the lobby like he always does; the trainer would either be talking to Hercules or jotting down notes for any upcoming Coliseum tournaments. But to the young Keyblade master’s dismay, he found an empty, stone-cold lobby, lit only by a few dimly burning torches. There was no Phil to be seen or heard and there was no mighty Hercules to be found anywhere. Bothered by the absences, Sora set off down the lobby to search for any signs, signs of anything that may be relevant to what has been going on since he last left.
“Sora,” Mickey whispered and motioned for Sora to go to him. “Shh, listen. Do ya hear somethin’ in that corner?”
Sora approached the corner of the lobby that the king was pointing towards, listening intently. Indeed there were voices, but Sora could not identify them since they sounded more like low murmurs. As he approached a clothed door, the voices became much more clear. One voice was identifiable, but Sora could not recognize the second voice.
“Gawrsh, that sounds awfully like Phil,” Goofy blurted out.
“Quiet, Goofy!” Donald hissed.
The murmurs ceased, followed by what sounded like the twirling of a blade, then a protesting grunt that was certainly Phil’s. Sora instinctively pushed aside the cloth, but was nearly impaled as a giant lance was lashed straight at him. Reflexively, he parried the tip of the lance to the side, which resulted in blowing a chunk of the stone wall clear off, inches away from Sora’s face.
“I thought I told?” Phil griped. “Sora? Geez, is that really you, boy?”
Next to Phil was a tall man dressed in bluish black metallic armor that resembled the form of a dragon. He held the spear-like lance in his left hand, casually rotating the central hilt around in between his fingers. Phil shook his head at the armored man and then turned back to Sora.
“So how’s everythin’? Workin’ those skinny limbs of yours?” Phil snickered. “I see you’re still doing well with that sword of yours.”
“It is an interesting sword,” the armored man said flatly.
“Who are you…?” Sora asked a little defensively.
Short Phil tried his best to grab the tips of both the man’s lance and Sora’s Keyblade and lower the weapons; he ended up dangling in midair, his hands barely holding onto the tips.
“Ugh, curse these short legs,” Phil grumbled. “Lower your weapons, boys. Sora, this is Kain. Kain, meet Sora.”
Sora and Kain both loosened their holds on their respective weapons, allowing Phil to slip down to the floor. Kain had a slightly emotionless stare in his eyes, but something told Sora that those eyes weren’t empty?they were a warrior’s eyes, unlike Sora’s, or Cloud’s, or anyone Sora had crossed paths with before. They burned.
“Kain has the qualities of a hero,” Phil explained. “So he’s my responsibility now?”
“Where’s Hercules, Phil?” Goofy interrupted.
Phil glared at Goofy and squinted his eyes in apparent spite. He turned away from Sora and his friends and crossed his arms in obstinacy.
“Not here,” grunted Phil. “I don’t know this Hercules.”
Sora looked at Donald and Goofy in bewilderment. Their confusion and Kairi’s confusion were totally different things. The look that Kairi gave Sora beckoned him to give her some form of explanation. Sora took a few seconds to tell Kairi about Hercules, who he was, Phil, and the connections they had with each other. Sora explained quickly because he wished to find out what happened to Hercules, and why Phil seemed to have cut the mighty hero off.
“Gone,” Phil straightforwardly repeated himself.
“Phil…” Sora muttered in frustration. “Where did he go?”
Phil turned around to face Sora again and pointed his finger at his face.
“Who knows? He was two-timed by that girl! Oh, geez, forget it! I told him not to let his guard down for a pair of big goo-goo eyes! Now he lost his powers and strength…! I was plannin’ on heading back to my isle to train Kain. The same isle… that… I,” Phil’s rambling gradually slowed down and lost its energy. “That I… trained… H-Herc. Geez, who am I kiddin’? That kid was born to be a true hero.”
“Lost his...? Then?” Sora began to ask again.
“But I’m still gonna take Kain back to my isle and train him!” Phil shouted out. “We’re in trouble, Sora. And this stuff might be too tough for ya. Hades has released the Titans from their prisons and sent them on a rampage against Mount Olympus. As we speak, the gods are at war…”
“There are also shadow creatures that Hades released upon the surface world,” said Kain.
“Yeah. Yeah, the Heartless,” Phil muttered, twirling his little beard on his chin. He then snapped his fingers. “Sora, you and your friends can help us clear the Heartless while the gods fight the Titans!”
“That’s what we were planning to do,” said Sora. “That’s why we’re all here.”
“What about Hercules?” Donald asked.
Phil made a disapproving grunt.
“You can forget about him!” he spat. “If he gets that easily distracted over a girl, then maybe he ain’t cut out to be a true hero!”
“But he’s our friend!” Sora argued. “We can’t leave him alone like that! And we’ll nee?”
“Listen, Sora,” Phil growled as he stamped his hoofed feet. “There are certain things that make a hero, a hero. What Herc got wrong was his ambitions. If you decide to do something like dropping your guard over some girl, then you got it wrong, too.”
Sora did not necessarily agree with Phil’s words. But his mind was settled. Strength or no strength, he had to go find Hercules. He looked at Kairi, then to Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. Mickey smirked and summoned his Keyblade; he knew what was on Sora’s mind.
“Go find him, Sora,” Mickey said, spinning his Keyblade around fancily. “We’ve got it covered here!”
“It ain’t gonna work,” Phil disagreed.
Sora did not look back. He and Kairi were already heading out of the Coliseum and to somewhere farther away, somewhere they could have hopes of maybe asking if anyone had seen signs of Hercules. Going with his first choice, Sora took Kairi’s hand and headed west, out through the gates and out into the vast world that he had never explored during his time here in the past.
“Are you sure, Phil?” Mickey asked carefully.
“Sure, I’m sure,” Phil answered quickly. “…Good luck.”
As Phil started to depart the Coliseum lobby, trailed by Kain, Donald became infuriated.
“Why are you leaving?” he inquired sternly. “Won’t you help?”
Phil sighed and continued to walk out the door.
“Kain and I are gonna take the next boat outta here. When he’s ready, we’ll be back.”
“That’s not right!” Donald spat, but Phil and Kain already closed the lobby doors behind them. All that were left were Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, idly standing by, not knowing exactly what to do next or what to expect. Mickey, as always, cautiously peered around the area for suspicious movements or sights.
“What should we do, Your Majesty?” Goofy asked.
Mickey scratched his head for a moment and paced steadily around the lobby.
“The gods of Mount Olympus are in trouble, aren’t they?” Mickey stated suddenly. “The Titans and the Heartless are all attacking them at the same time.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Donald quacked out ardently. “We need to help them!”
Mickey smiled and nodded, darted off and led the three of them towards the way away divine grounds of the gods of Olympus.
The two Keyblade-wielders got onboard a small, ferrying boat off the nearest coast. Honestly, Sora did not know where they were going, but he built up the courage to go anyway. It was just Kairi and he, along with two other passengers (Sora was guessing aimless wanderers), and the ferryman?a lone burly, white-haired man with a big oar. It was getting cloudier and darker every hour, with the threat of rainstorms or heavy sea winds ready to batter the wooden boat anytime.
“What’ll it be, people?” the ferryman wheezed. “Where to?”
Sora and Kairi looked at each other and just shrugged. Neither of them knew where they were to be exact, and even if they did, they did not recognize the geography of the region. They hoped at least one of the other two passengers might know where they were all going.
“Well, ah,” the ferryman wheezed after a minute passed without anyone responding. “Lessee here, I go to here, I go to Carthage, I go to Sicyon, I go to Thebes, I go to?”
“We’ll head to Thebes, please,” Sora called out, waving his hand to get the ferryman’s attention.
“Thebes, eh?” the ferryman wheezed, continuing to paddle steadily through the seawater as he chuckled hoarsely. “Thebes. That’s never the place to go if ya aren’t just lookin’ for misery, pain, and death.”
Sora raised his eyebrows in question, followed by Kairi tugging at his arm. The ferryman continued to chuckle and cackle hoarsely, sometimes coughing in between his wheezes and hacks.
“Ah, good times,” he sniffed. “But it’s been lot better since Hercules gone there?”
“Wait,” Sora cut in. “Hercules is there?”
“Aye, yes?” the ferryman wheezed. “He should be there?”
“Take us there!” Sora and Kairi exclaimed.
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