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Chapter LVI: City of Thebes

Thebes. On the way to the great city, Sora and Kairi had the opportunity to listen to some tales?rather fanciful tales?of the events that unfolded in the past. The legend of Laius, for example, Sora found to be rather matchless. Ill fortune, adultery, odd rituals, murder, kidnappings… Sora had to stick a finger in his ear and pick at it, wondering if he was really hearing everything correctly. The story of Oedipus Rex (which happened to be connected with the Laius tale) simply made Sora want to bang his head repeatedly against the floor planks on the boat.

Conversely, Kairi found all the myths and legends to be highly intriguing. Being studious, curious, and hardworking during daily schooldays, Kairi made a habit of devoting all her attention to history and, in this case, old literary tales. Periodically, while Sora winced at certain images that appeared in his mind while the old ferryman told the Theban stories of the past, Kairi would ask questions: “What could he have done?” “How did Oedipus not know?” “Where did he go afterwards?” The ferryman answered most of Kairi’s questions in time, but certainly at some points, Kairi was left to wonder if the tales were history or myth. Sora reassured her that the stories were myths, simply legendary tales that were told to leave people like her marveling.

“Here we go!” the old ferryman coughed. “The city of Thebes.”

Based on the tales, Sora expected the place to be bustling with activity, but to him it seemed rather dull. The weather was not exactly amazing either, but Sora did not think that would be a factor. The city was mostly empty, aside from a few pedestrians inching around the corners of streets and buildings.

“Eh? It must be the national ‘stay-at-home’ day, ya?” the ferryman joked. He motioned for Sora and Kairi to step off the ferry. “You two have a good one! Ha! Make your own Theban legends, yes?”

Sora just smirked and shrugged, not knowing how he should respond. Nonetheless, whatever he did, it was good enough for the ferryman, as the old seafarer muscled his oars and turned the ferry back towards the sea.

Thebes was packed with tall and short buildings, fancy arches, shops, homes, and blacksmiths. There was barely anyone outside and there were barely any sounds except for the crashing waves on the port shorelines and the occasional gusts of wind. But as Sora wandered further into the city, he could identify some of the noise that seemed to be originating from the heart of the city: cries of terror.

“Let’s go,” Sora said quickly to Kairi. “There’s something going on here.”

The noises resulting from the chaos at the center of Thebes seemed to grow louder and louder and more frenzied with every few streets that Sora and Kairi crossed. Before long, the two Keyblade-wielders braked immediately as they found themselves staring high into the sky at a colossal, one-eyed behemoth. What made Sora and Kairi continue staring in utter, numbing shock was what the titanic beast grasped within his boulder-sized hands.

Hercules, bruised and battered, was stuck in between the tight grip of the Cyclops. In a mocking tone, the Cyclops would sneer insults at the broken hero, followed by juggling the hero from one hand to another. In the worst case, if the Cyclops grew bored of playing around with what seemed to him as a dysfunctional action figure, the colossus would simply slam Hercules into a nearby building, battering the hero some more and usually knocking down the entire building in the process. Every time the Cyclops goes through the process, Sora and Kairi winced, looked away, and cringed at the fact that they did not know how to approach the calamitous situation.

“Flea!” the Cyclops taunted with laughter as he tossed Hercules through the air once more.

When Sora decided he had seen enough, he summoned the Oblivion and sprinted forward. Kairi, not certain about what she should do, called out the Oathkeeper and began scaling up a nearby building. Once she reached the rooftop, she looked down to pinpoint Sora’s location. Sora, who was still at least fifty yards away from the Cyclops, glanced back and up to Kairi. He nodded, hoping Kairi was safe up on the roof and in easy range to aid him in case he needed any.

Hercules was again slammed into the concrete ground as the Cyclops continued to bellow with laughter, taunting the broken hero. Miserably, Hercules tried to limp away on all four.

“Run!” the Cyclops roared, raising his foot at the same time in position to stamp on Hercules. “Run! Mighty Hercules!”

The giant foot came crashing down, only to be countered by a vortex of wind. It was mere inches away from Hercules’ head, just in time as Sora forced his wind-element spell to push against the colossus’ might. In time, the Cyclops hobbled backwards on one foot, trying to maintain his balance.

“W-who…?” Hercules gasped. He struggled to lift his head up and gazed around his surroundings. “S-Sora! What are you doing here? You gotta get away… it’s too dangerous…!”

Sora barely heard what Hercules said. Without hesitation, he dashed forward and tried his best to yank the heavy warrior off the ground before the Cyclops returned. They did not have much time though, as the angry bellows and raging footsteps from the gargantuan ripped through the entire city.

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Megara tried to ease the magnificent winged-horse with soothing words and gentle rubs. Just minutes ago he had left Hercules’ side to call for help. Who could possibly help though? Instinctively, Meg decided to find Phil. Phil was Hercules’ trainer, thus Phil should be able to help Hercules. That was what Meg believed. After calming down the winged-horse, Pegasus, Meg hopped aboard and led the horse out of its stable-prison and soared into the sky.

Pegasus knew where Phil was; Meg could see the flames of pursuit in the mighty horse’s eyes. Meg asked Pegasus if he knew where Phil was. A forceful neigh and a sudden increase in speed was enough to convince Meg. In less than a minute, Thebes was behind them. The city of tragedies seemed to appear smaller and smaller behind them as they rocketed over the seas. It was late afternoon, with the purplish-orange sun hovering above the horizon. Realizing the lack of time on their hands, Pegasus again sped up, forcing Meg to cling tightly around the horse’s muscular neck. They passed a few more islands, more bodies of water until arriving at a coastline.

“Here?” Meg asked Pegasus.

She tried to fix her wind-tossed hair, but the flying horse did not stop for long. Again a boost of speed almost caused Meg to topple over, but she clung on just in time. Instead of complaining to the horse, Meg followed Pegasus’ eyes, which lead to a docking area. Rowboats and ferries came in and out of the harbor. Pegasus neighed and motioned his head towards one of the boats.

Phil was already inside a ferry, while Kain was idly boarding. She did not have much time; Meg patted Pegasus quickly and reassuringly before the horse dove down to land right next to Kain. Startled, Kain reached behind him to pull out his lance, but relaxed when he noted no threat. Phil, on the other hand, was shocked for a split second before crossing his arms and turning away from Meg and Pegasus.

“Phil!” Meg called out while hopping off of Pegasus. “Phil, Hercules needs your help!”

Phil turned his head just slightly so Meg could see his squinted eyes.

“What does he need me for when he's got friends like you?” he growled.

“He won’t listen to me?” Meg tried to reason arduously.

“Good! He's finally learned something…”

All of a sudden, Phil found himself staring at a furious Pegasus and a Meg on the verge of tears. Pegasus angrily snorted a puff of air into Phil’s face.

“Look, I know what I did was wrong,” Meg continued. “But this isn't about me, it's about him. If you don't help him now, Phil, he'll die.”

The last couple of words made Phil turn his whole body around.

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“Flea!” the Cyclops roared as he chased after a wobbling Hercules. Sora and Kairi tried their best slowing the behemoth off. Sora constantly tried to dodge the clumsy stomps from the Cyclops, while Kairi stayed at the highest points in the city and fired off spells towards the Cyclops. Slashes from Sora’s Keyblade did nothing more than annoy the Cyclops. Kairi’s spells were usually easy for the Cyclops to slap away with his rock-hard hands. The bolts of flame that Kairi released that did hit usually just made the Cyclops scratch the spot that was struck.

When Sora and Hercules found themselves wandering too close to where Kairi was camped, Kairi quickly evacuated before her building was demolished like all the rest. Soon, Kairi noticed that most of the taller buildings were all run over. What were left were a few buildings with shattered windows… or just parts of standing buildings. Instead, Kairi joined Sora in fighting the Cyclops in close combat.

Their efforts usually do not last very long. Periodically, the Cyclops would time his blows correctly and sweep up both Sora and Kairi well into the air. Normally, being thrown into the air was not a problem for Sora and Kairi; both of them would elegantly and cleanly land on the roof of a nearby building was had not been toppled over yet. However, by being swatted away, it allowed the Cyclops to freely throttle the already mangled Hercules. When all their efforts began to appear for naught, Sora and Kairi heard a voice far above and behind them, drawing their attention away from the Cyclops momentarily.

“Hercules!”

Sora felt a smile curl in the corner of his lips when he saw the great Pegasus and familiar faces riding towards them. Sora identified Phil and Meg right away, but took a second to recognize Kain, who he still felt relatively uneasy about.

Pegasus dropped Phil off beside Hercules, who was sprawled over a heap of rubble and debris.

“Phil…” Hercules greeted his trainer, trying to smile and laugh at the same time.

“Come on, kid, come on. Fight back,” Phil said quietly. “Come on, you can take this bum. This guy's a pushover, look at him…”

“You were right all along, Phil… dreams are for rookies…”

“N-no, no, no, no, kid! Givin' up is for rookies!” Phil sputtered. “I came back 'cause I'm not quittin' on you! I'm willing to go the distance, how 'bout you?”

Hercules slowly raised his head to Phil. Before either of them could respond, the Cyclops yanked Hercules up by his legs.

“Me bite off head!” the Cyclops bellowed menacingly.

Faced with the colossus’ gaping mouth, Hercules scanned all around him for anything that could help him get out of such a dire position. There were rocks and bricks everywhere, there were ropes on the ground… but behind him was a torch, lodged on the edge of a building’s roof. Hercules strained to reach his only weapon, but was finally able to grab it. Before losing his head to the Cyclops, Hercules drilled the burning stick as hard as he could straight into the Cyclops’ face. Yelling in agony, the Cyclops released Hercules to grab his own face. Hercules then took the rope that was strewn all over the ground, wrapped it, and tied a dead knot around the Cyclops’ legs. When the Cyclops realized his own situation, it was too late. Unable to retain his balance, the titanic beast collapsed and fell off a cliff on the edge of the city. Seconds later, a quake followed, signaling the behemoth’s crash at the bottom of the cliff.

Yet it was still too early to celebrate. The rumbling loosened a pillar that was right above Hercules. Hercules, who appeared too relieved, too satisfied with his hard-won victory, did not notice the falling pillar. Meg, however, ran as fast as she could to warn the dazed hero.

“Hercules! Look out!” she yelled.

Confused, Hercules turned to see a charging Meg. Before he could do anything, Meg pushed him out of the pillar’s way. However, instead of striking Hercules, the giant stone pillar, which must have weighed tons, landed over Meg instead.

“Meg! No!” Hercules cried out. He sprinted over and began to lift the stone pillar up.

“What?” Hercules gasped as his divine strength returned. “What’s happening?”

“Hades' deal is broken. He promised I wouldn't get hurt…” Meg murmured.

“Meg… Why, why did you?you didn't have to?”

“Oh…” Meg said with a weak smile. “People always do crazy things… when they're in love…”

“Meg. Meg? I… I?” Hercules stammered helplessly.

“Are you… always this articulate?” Meg asked in a quiet, small voice. “Y-you haven't got much time. You can still stop Hades.”

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