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Chapter LXII: Is There Hope?

A short chapter... nothing special other than a conclusion to the previous arc. Sorry that I can't update as often right now. It's summer, anyway, and I've got a lot of things to do. Keep faith, though, as I will write when I have time. Just keep on reading! I'll give a little preview of the next chapter at the end of this one.

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Riku thought he became blind when he opened his eyes and saw absolutely nothing. He felt his face with both his hands, checking if he was still in one piece. Where am I? he wondered. Am I alive? Reaching out with one foot, Riku attempted to find his way through this total darkness. It was arduous, as he was not accustomed to such an environment at first. He found himself stumbling, not knowing what lied in front of him. It was only until he ran into what felt like a solid wall did Riku fully regain his sense of being and balance.

It was not a wall, though. When Riku added just a bit of pressure, it swung open, revealing an opening. A handful of light emptied out, forcing Riku, who had just begun to adapt to the darkness, to flinch. Inside was a room of grand proportions, unlike anything Riku had seen before. It was oddly out of place, from when he vanished from the ruins and into obscurity.

“The weak shall perish. The strong shall triumph,” a familiar, great voice spoke.

Riku spun around and found himself locked inside this room with nowhere to turn. Again he pivoted around and around, trying to find out where he was and who was speaking to him. Like a cornered mouse, Riku summoned his Keyblade and stood his ground, constantly surveying his surroundings.

Suddenly, a phantasmal entity appeared in the center of the room, right in front of Riku. As grand as the room itself, this newly arrived being caught Riku completely by surprise. Riku toppled over and found himself on the ground, gazing at the being that formed in front of him. It appeared to be a colossal man riding on top of a horse just as immense. This entity donned a demonic knight helmet and was armed with a massive shield and a wicked blade. His horse was armor-clad, and appeared more than just threatening. Riku could only stare as this divine being turned to face him.

“I am Odin,” the being spoke. “Prevail over my sword, and I shall grant it to thee.”

Riku broke out of his astounded trance and stood back up. Still reaching no more than past Odin’s steed’s kneecap, Riku pointed his Keyblade towards Odin.

“I dunno what’s going on here,” Riku muttered. “But I do plan on getting out of here alive.”

“Excellent,” Odin answered. “For honor… let us fight!”

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Sora, Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy could do nothing more than to watch as Hercules gently carried the soul of Meg back to the lifeless woman’s body. Sora could barely watch, as he periodically closed his eyes, or averted them towards the dimly lit sky. Kairi was tense and had her fingers crossed, hoping for the best with all her heart. Mickey retained his solemn look and demeanor, his mouth shut and his eyes closed. Both Donald and Goofy had their hats to their chests, perhaps mentally praying for the greatest possible outcome.

“C’mon…” whispered Phil, who had been waiting patiently for the group’s return.

“Meg,” Hercules called out softly.

Meg’s body twitched, and the seemingly hopeless group instantly had their eyes locked onto the once motionless body. Hercules, glowing with all his godlike radiance, found himself smiling, with unparalleled feelings of relief and bliss.

“…Wonderboy,” was Meg’s first word; strained, but still coming from the voice of one that recently departed from the world of the living. “What—why did you—“

“Huh. People always do crazy things… when they are in love,” Hercules responded, using some of Meg’s last words from just before.

A teary-eyed Kairi wanted to yelp, scream, and cheer in happiness at the sight of a reunited Hercules and Meg. Sora heaved a heavy sigh of relief and fulfillment as he watched the two lean in for a kiss. Before contact though, a white puffy cloud appeared beneath the feet of Hercules and Meg, carrying them into the air.

“Whoa!” Phil called out in confusion. Luckily for him, Pegasus swooped in to lift him into the air as well. “Hey, hey, hey! Whoo!”

The mountainside beyond opened up, revealing a splendid array of celestial, golden lights. Sora did not need anyone telling him that he was seeing Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. Kairi was awed, but she too knew what she was witnessing before her. The celebrating gods, with not an ounce of sorrow remaining in the atmosphere anymore, surrounded Hercules and Meg.

“Three cheers for the mighty Hercules!” cried Areus.

“Oh yeah! Flowers for everyone!” the god Hermes cheered.

Sora and the rest of the group looked on from below, taking in the amazing sight. It was everything, but sorrow and anger. The atmosphere radiated with bliss, ecstasy, and feelings of triumph—an apparently long forgotten feeling.

“There’s the Sora-smile we all know,” said Donald, giving Sora a wink.

“Oh,” said Sora, touching his own mouth for a moment.

“Hmm, it’s been awhile, huh?” added Kairi.

“Tell me about it,” Sora answered in agreement. “Everything seemed pretty close to hopeless for a bit.”

“Just for a bit, but no worries!” Goofy exclaimed merrily.

Sora smiled once more; showing a genuine, satisfied smile. Again, the group turned their gazes back towards the heavens, where the divine glows of the gods continued to shine as brightly as ever. The gods were still cheering, still celebrating their victory over the dreaded Titans and the return of the triumphant Hercules. It seemed that this world would finally be safe at last.

Before they could turn to depart, Pegasus swooped down back to earth with, surprisingly, Hercules and Meg on his back. The divine glow was nowhere to be found on Hercules anymore either. Sora, Kairi, Donald, and Goofy were the first to react in utter confusion. Mickey, on the other hand, remained at ease.

“I don’t get it Hercules,” Sora started. “Weren’t you just gonna go home to Mount Olympus?”

“I can’t,” Hercules answered. The hero turned to face Meg, who was standing closely at his side. “Not if I had to live my life up there without Meg. It isn’t worth it.”

“Oh, uh…” Sora stammered, not knowing if he agrees or not or whether or not he even understands.

“It’s okay, Sora,” Hercules said with a cheerful grin, looking up towards the clouds surrounding Mount Olympus. “My parents understood. I have their blessings…”

“That is so great,” Kairi cried out, almost squealing. “I am so happy for you two!”

“Y-yeah!” Sora added. “It is great!”

“Thank you all,” said Meg. “None of this would have been possible if you hadn’t all showed up.”

“T’was nothin’, nothin’ at all,” Donald sputtered. He stood firmly upright and saluted Hercules and Meg. “It’s our job!”

More light shone through the clouds, brightening up the land around them. And wondering if he was imagining things, Sora thought he heard serene voices in the offset, somewhere beyond the horizons; voices that sounded distant, yet as clear as if coming from no more than a foot away.

“Ya hear that, guys?” asked Mickey, as if purposefully answering Sora’s silent question. “That might be the song of the Muses.”

“Hey, I think you’re right, King Mickey!” said Hercules, putting a hand to his ear to listen more closely. “Everything turned out right.”

“Wish we could stay longer, though,” said Sora. “You know our routines…”

“That’s right,” Hercules remarked. “You’ve got a job to do. A hero’s job.”

“And a heroine’s job,” Meg added just for Kairi, giving the girl a wink.

After bidding their farewells, Sora, Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy boarded the Celsius and the Gummi Ship took off into the morning sky. It had been a long and difficult battle here, but they all managed to pull through. Sora felt that he had regained the old hope that he felt had been dwindling away as the journey progressed. A resurgence of optimism filled him: if everything could turn out the way it did for this world, then this battle may be worthwhile after all, even if it did seem like a losing battle on occasions.

As for Kairi, she developed new confidence, knowing that if she remained at Sora’s side, things will only turn towards the better. It was her duty to fight alongside him… now that Kairi felt that her role in this journey was one that only she could fulfill.

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The next chapter will primarily deal with Riku's battle with Odin. Stay tuned...

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