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Chapter Six: Beast's Castle

Beast's Castle was very big. That was the first impression Riku and Kairi got when they saw it.

"Another royal person live here?" Riku asked.

"Sorta," Sora answered. "I just hope Xaldin's gone."

"Who's he? An Organization member?"

Sora nodded. "Yep. And he's pretty cruel, I'll tell ya that much."

"And one of the Seven Princesses lives here, too," Goofy said. "Her name's Belle."

"Who are the Seven Princesses anyway, Sora?" Kairi asked.

Sora thought for a moment. "Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Alice, Aurora, Jasmine and...." He stopped. The last one was Kairi, but he still didn't understand why she was. And he knew she wouldn't understand, either.

"And...?"

"N-no one."

Kairi shook her head. "I don't think it's no one, but I guess I'll find out later, then."

"Y-yeah, I guess...." All of them went inside the castle.

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"Heartless!" Donald screamed as they entered. Sora, Riku and Kairi immediately made their Keyblades appear.

‘Great,' Sora thought. ‘I get to another world and the first thing I have to do is beat Heartless.' He rushed up to them and hit one. Riku, Kairi, Donald and Goofy helped out, also.

Kairi looked up and noticed someone. "Sora! Look!" She pointed to a person up on the balcony fighting Heartless. "She has a Keyblade!"

Sora glanced up there, also. He saw a girl with violet-red hair fighting off Heartless. She had a pink Keyblade with a heart-shape for the blade. ‘Who the heck is she?'

"C'mon, let's go help her out!" They ran to the Heartless on the balcony and fought them. Sora defeated the last one and looked at the girl. She was on her hands and knees from fighting so hard. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she said. She had an English/German-sounding accent to her voice. She stared up at Sora and Kairi, who were side-by-side. "I sense a strong connection...."

"Huh?" Sora and Kairi questioned at the same time.

The girl just smiled. "Oh, nothing. You'll see in time." She got up and made her Keyblade disappear. "My name's Kisara. And what's funny is I didn't expect to meet one other Keyblade Master and now I find three! What are your names?"

"I'm Sora."

"Riku."

"Kairi."

"And this is Donald and Goofy," Sora stated, indicating them.

"So you are Sora and Kairi?" The two nodded. "Well, what I don't understand is how you two have such a strong connection and don't even notice it! It's just crazy! Madness, I tell you, madness!"

Donald leaned toward Sora. "Let's ditch her," he whispered, although it was loud enough for Kisara to hear.

Then an unexpected visitor arrived. Kisara hit Donald in the head with her Keyblade. "Leon!" she and Sora exclaimed at the same time. They looked at each other. "You know Leon?!"

"Yeah, I go to Hollow Bastion all the time!" Sora said.

"OH! THAT'S why I can never find out where he is! I've been looking around in Traverse Town!" Kisara exclaimed. She went up to Leon. "You know them?"

"Yeah, I see Sora, Donald and Goofy all the time."

Kisara got closer, seeming a little aggravated. "You never mentioned them!"

"Well, I-I never got the chance...."

"And you also didn't tell me you were in Hollow Bastion!"

Leon didn't say anything. He looked at Riku and Kairi. "So, I guess you found Riku, huh?"

Sora nodded. "Actually, Kairi was the one who figured out it was him."

"So that's Kairi."

"Yeah," she stated.

"Leon, I need to talk to you RIGHT NOW!" Kisara pulled him away from everyone else.

"Wow. I've never seen anyone treat Leon like that. They're too scared."

"Leon's pretty tough, anyway," Goofy implied.

Sora looked back at Leon and Kisara. "And he never mentioned Kisara before."

"It might be personal," Riku said.

Donald glared at them. "Eh-hem?! Did you not just see her hit me in the head?!"

Sora put his hands on the back of his head, smiling. "Sorry, wasn't paying attention." Riku, Kairi and Goofy burst out laughing. Donald just seemed even more agitated.

"Sora! Donald! Goofy!" Sora turned around and saw Belle standing there.

"Hey, Belle."

"I'm so glad you came! Beast is acting strange again, but Xaldin isn't anywhere in sight."

"Maybe he's just a little tempered. Let him cool down."

Belle grinned. Then she looked at Riku and Kairi. "Oh! I didn't notice you two!"

"Yeah, these are my friends, Riku and Kairi."

"So you're the two Sora's told me so much about."

Kairi smiled. "I guess. You must be Belle."

"That's me." Belle paused. "Oh! Sora, I need you to go check on ‘it'. Just in case Xaldin really is back."

"Sure." He went back down the steps and into the room the rose was in.

Kairi looked at Belle funny. "What's ‘it'?"

Belle looked down. "You don't wanna know. It's something personal." Kairi nodded.

"Leon, can I come back with you to Hollow Bastion?" Kisara asked.

"You know, I think those guys," Leon replied, indicating Sora, Riku, Kairi, Donald and Goofy, "need more help than we do."

Kisara folded her arms. "Alright. But-" a loud roar from the room Sora was in interrupted her.

"I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that's the Beast," Riku stated. All of them except Leon-who went back to Hollow Bastion-rushed into that room. They saw Sora on the ground and Beast glaring at him, holding the rose.

"Sora!" Kairi exclaimed. She ran to him and got by his side. "Sora, are you alright?!"

"Yeah..." he lied. Kairi helped him get to his feet. Belle started scolding Beast harshly.

"What makes you think you have the right to do that?!" she reprimanded.

Sora put his hand out. "Wait, you don't understand. Xaldin's here. Beast didn't mean to hurt me, he pushed me out of the way and started fighting Xaldin...."

"So you mean he was trying to make sure you didn't get hurt?" Sora started to fall over, but he caught himself. Belle looked back at Beast. "That was a very brave thing to do."

Beast just smiled. "I promise, Xaldin won't ever touch you again."

Sora watched them, thinking of him and Kairi. "Well, if you have to face him, I'll help you." Sora thought Kairi would smile just like Belle, but she did the exact opposite.

"Sora, you can't go out there. You've been hurt."

Sora didn't understand why she had said that. "Kairi, I'll be fine."

"How am I gonna know that for sure?"

"I dunno. But can't you just trust me?"

"I do, Sora. But trusting someone doesn't mean you can't try to help them."

Sora pulled away from her. "Kairi, have I ever broken a promise before?"

"... yes...." she muttered under her breath.

Sora was shocked at her answer. Then he knew what she was talking about. He had once told her that he would come back to Destiny Island, but he never did. Kairi ended up having to go look for him. Sora was extremely serious at this point. "So, that's it then? Is that all I am to you? A broken promise?"

"Sora...." He shook his head and walked out.

"That's not what I meant...."

Kisara knew exactly what was going on. ‘This kind of stuff never turns out right,' she thought.

Belle put a hand on Kairi's shoulder. Kairi looked down. "Why can't Sora-no, boys in general-be more... more...."

"Like girls?"

Kairi nodded. "Exactly. They always have to seem tough."

Belle sighed. "I know exactly what you mean. But do you know why they always have to seem tough?" Kairi looked confused. Belle grinned a little. "Take this from someone with experience, but sometimes they do to impress girls."

"That's true," Kisara agreed. "And I should know. I don't have the Love Keyblade for no reason, you know."

"R-really?"

"Really. So what are you gonna do now?"

Kairi thought a little. Then she ran out the door. "Sora! Sora, wait!" she called.

"You know, that must've really hurt Sora for him to act like that," Riku commented. He, Donald, Goofy and Kisara went after Kairi and Sora.

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"Sora, wait!" Kairi finally caught up with him. He completely ignored her.

"Sora, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean it like that at all!" He still didn't pay attention. "Really, Sora, I just wanted to help!"

Sora turned around and faced her, still having an angry look on his face. "I don't need help from anyone, Kairi, especially from you!" Kairi was stunned at that. Sora then realized what he had just said. "Th-that came out wrong...."

Kairi shook her head, looking as if she was ready to cry. "No, I think that came out perfectly. You know, you're starting to sound more like the Beast." She ran the other way, sobbing her eyes out.

"Kairi! I...." He stared at the floor. "I'm stupid...." He couldn't believe what he had just done.

Kisara put her hand on his shoulder. "You're not stupid, Sora."

"How would you know that? You've known me for what, ten minutes?"

"It was twelve. But that's long enough for me to know you're not stupid."

Donald looked at him. "You're not stupid. Goofy, on the other hand...."

Goofy waved at them, who wasn't paying attention to any of that. "Hiya, everyone!"

Donald ran up to him and shook him. "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?!"

"Hmm... let me think about that...." Donald started hitting himself in the head.

Sora's attention turned back to Kisara. "Yeah, but she still probably doesn't like me anymore." Kisara laughed a little. Sora was confused. "What's so funny?"

"How could you be so BLIND?!" Sora was startled and jumped a little. "Of course she doesn't like you, she loves you!"

Sora went completely blank, in shock. "Wh-what?"

"Don't you get it?! To her, you're everything! You're the apple of her eye, you're the diamond in the rough! She would give her life for you!" Sora didn't respond. He just thought about Kairi.

"Now, the question is, Sora, do you love her?" He was still silent. He wasn't exactly sure is what Kisara had said was true, and to make matters worse, he himself didn't even know if he loved Kairi or not. But he did know what he was going to do. He took off in the same direction Kairi went. Kisara smiled. "My work here is done."

Riku shook his head. "I've known those two for eight years and I've never seen them act like that."

"What do you mean?"

"They've never had a fight like that before. Never. In fact, I don't think they've ever fought before at all."

"They've changed, haven't they?"

"Well, yeah-"

"So that's one solution. And when did you start your journey?"

"A year ago."

"Bingo. So those are the reasons they're acting like that." Kisara looked at him. "And I think you know as well as I do what's going on here, right?"

"Sora and Kairi both ‘like' each other, but neither of them know it."

"Right again. I've seen this happen before. The thing that I'm not sure about, though, is that their connection is the strongest one I've ever sensed."

"Is that good or bad?"

"It could be either. They could have a wonderful relationship and everything will turn out fine. But, they both, as you probably know, would sacrifice more than their life for each other."

"I've witnessed it. Once, Kairi had gotten her heart taken out. Sora risked himself to save her, and he became a Heartless. But she was able to save him in return."

"Good example. But, one thing I know is that the next time-if there is a next time-Sora may not be so lucky. Or Kairi. Love might be wonderful, but sometimes, it can cause terrible things. Ever heard the story of Romeo and Juliet?"

Riku nodded. "And your saying, if things go wrong, we could end up seeing a recap of it."

"Yes. And that's what bothers me." Riku knew she was right, and he knew that everything she said was possible.

"But, I feel in my heart, those two are gonna pull through in the end, no matter how bad things are in between." Kisara smiled. "And that's why you're such a good friend to them."

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Sora opened the door to the room Kairi was in. He saw her on a bed, crying. "Um...." He swallowed and took a deep breath. "...Kairi?"

"What do you want?" She didn't even bother to look at him.

"Kairi, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean that at all. Really." She didn't say anything. Sora looked down. Then he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small container-like object. "I was saving this for when we finished our adventure, but I think it's best to give this to you now." He put it beside her. Kairi still said nothing.

‘I tried.' Sora looked at her one more time, and then he left.

Kairi glanced at the container. She opened it up and couldn't believe what she saw. "He made this...." She pulled out was inside it. It was a necklace with only one thing on it: a small part of a paopu fruit. She smiled. ‘He really is amazing.' She took off the necklace she was wearing and put it in her pocket. Then she wrapped the other one around her neck. ‘I'll never forget this, Sora.' She finally realized that she had to go talk to Sora and settle the issue once and for all. She got off of the bed and onto her feet. Then Kairi went looking for Sora.

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"Sora?" Kairi found a door and heard something from inside it. She opened the door and saw Sora standing there.

He glanced at her. "Kairi, I really didn't mean that-"

"I know you didn't mean it. I'm sorry, too."

Sora smiled. Then he looked down at his feet. "Uh, Kairi... how do you feel about me?"

"What do you mean?"

"It's hard to explain. I mean, do you think we're friends or-"

"Oh! Well, um... we-we're best friends, right?" she said, trying to smile.

Sora looked back at Kairi and nodded. "Right."

‘That settles it. Kisara was wrong.'

"How do you feel about me?" Kairi asked.

"Th-the same, just friends...."

Kairi was a little concerned. "‘Just' friends? What does that mean?"

"W-well, some people might think we're... well, more than friends...."

"Best friends?"

"Dig deeper."

Kairi thought and looked surprised. "Oh! Y-you mean... more than best friends..."

"Y-yeah...."

"Well, w-we're not. Just friends, right?"

"Right." Kairi grinned and walked out.

‘I think....' Sora once thought he knew everything he needed to know about himself and Kairi. But now, he wasn't so sure. ‘I don't think I love her... do I?'

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Sora was bored that night and decided to take a walk outside. It was extremely windy, but he didn't mind. He also had another reason for being out there: he wanted to find Xaldin and get rid of him once and for all.

"Hey, kid." Sora flipped around immediately and clenched his teeth at what he saw. "Xaldin!"

"No, really?"

Sora made his Keyblade appear. "Y'know, you've caused a lot of damage here. Beast and Belle don't deserve to be treated the way you did."

"Do you think I really care?"

Sora gripped his Keyblade harder, angry. "No, I don't. But ya know what? I don't really care what you care about, you're not laying another finger on Beast or Belle ever again!"

Xaldin smirked. "Are those really the people you should worry about us hurting?"

Sora didn't understand him at first. Then he tried not to make any sudden movements when he found out what he meant. "You wouldn't dare!"

"You wanna bet?" Sora plunged forward and swung his Keyblade wildly at Xaldin. He disappeared before Sora could even touch him. "Over here, kid!" Sora turned around and saw him standing on the balcony that was outside the Beast's room. He ran that way and stabbed his Keyblade into the wall many times, going higher up. Then he front-flipped onto the balcony. Xaldin made all his lances appear and protected himself from his blows.

"It's not ‘kid'!" Sora tried to hit him again. "My name's Sora!"

"Yeah, whatever, Zoro. I still liked it better when we could call you Roxas." Xaldin rushed up to him and used one of his spears to try to hit him. Sora blocked it with his Keyblade. Xaldin hit him right in the gut with the side of another one of his shafts. Sora grabbed his side and Xaldin pushed him off the edge.

Sora clung to the edge of the balcony, trying not to fall off. Xaldin looked at him. "Face it, kid, Organization XIII is gonna destroy you." He grabbed Sora's arm and pulled him up. "One way or another, you will die." And then he threw him off the balcony.

And Sora swore he could hear Kairi's voice in his head as he fell.

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"Kairi!" Kairi woke up and saw Riku standing in the doorway, breathing hard. "Kairi! Sora's hurt!"

"What?! How'd he get hurt?!"

Riku shook his head, still panting. "I dunno! Come this way and you'll see him!" She rushed out the door, following Riku. Donald and Goofy also went with them. They all saw Sora on the ground, unconscious.

"Sora!" Donald exclaimed.

Kairi ran up to him and started shaking him. "C'mon, Sora, wake up! Sora!"

Sora opened his eyes and looked up at Kairi. "Wha-" Kairi hugged him tightly.

"Oh my gosh, are you okay?!"

"Yeah, I think...." He tried moving his arm to get himself up and immediately grasped it. "Ow!" Riku went up to them and he and Kairi helped Sora up.

"Can you make it?" Riku asked.

"Yeah...." Sora wasn't sure if he could or not, but he was going to try, no matter how weak he was. All of them helped him inside.

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Belle examined Sora's arm. Everyone else watched silently as Kisara observed from far away, out of any eyesight. Belle looked at Sora with concern. "Sora, I think it's broken." Kairi's fist tightened.

"Sora, how did this happen in the first place?" Donald questioned.

"Xaldin's definitely here, I'll give ya that. I fought against him. But, he said that I shouldn't worry about them hurting Beast or Belle and I should worry about someone else."

"I was out there," Riku stated, "and I did hear Xaldin say, ‘One way or another, you will die.' Maybe he's saying you should worry about yourself."

"I don't think so. I had a feeling he was talking about..." Sora ceased himself from saying anything else.

"Who else could they possibly be after? I don't think he was trying to show you he wanted to be your friend when he threw you off that balcony."

Kairi's jaw dropped. "Sora, Xaldin threw you off a balcony?!"

Sora was silent for a while. "Th-that doesn't matter. I just wanna know who Xaldin was talking about."

"You mean, so you can risk your life to save them?" Goofy asked. Sora didn't answer.

Kisara shook her head from where she was standing. ‘Wow. That's some modest guy. And I'm pretty sure he thinks Xaldin's after Kairi and Riku, or Donald and Goofy.' Then Belle put a hot, wet cloth on Sora's arm.

"Ow!" He jolted away for a moment. Kairi caught her breath.

‘Of course,' Kisara thought. ‘Kairi can't stand to see Sora in pain, and vise-versa.'

Belle was able to keep it on Sora. "You know, I did this with Beast once and he completely flipped out."

Sora looked down, remembering what Kairi had said to him earlier that day. ‘Maybe I am like the Beast...'

"Sora?" He looked at Kairi. "I didn't mean that earlier when I said you were like the Beast. But, you and him do have one similar thing."

‘Here it comes,'

"You both are really kind..." Sora was surprised she didn't say anything bad about him.

Kisara just smiled. ‘Oh please, Kairi, is that the best you can do?'

Belle stood up. "I have my own matters to take care of now."

"What do you mean?" Donald asked.

Belle looked down. "Well, I'm not from here. I only started living with Beast about a year ago. I actually come from a little town a couple miles away from here. There was this guy there, Gaston, who continuously asked me to marry him. I told him no a thousand times and, being the insensitive jerk he was, he still kept at it. Before you guys came here again, Beast let me go back to my village. And Gaston knows about Beast now and... wants to kill him."

"What?! No way!" Sora couldn't believe this. Handling Xaldin was enough, and now this Gaston guy was after the Beast, also.

"I have to stop him. Whenever he comes-" Then they heard ramming on the door. Very loud ramming. Sora got up.

"We'll stall him, you-ow!" Sora tried to move his arm again and it hurt badly.

"No, Sora, you've done enough. I really appreciate all the help you've given us, but this is between Gaston and me. And you especially can't help with that arm."

"But-"

"No buts. You can't fight, and that's final."

Sora didn't like the sight of everyone else going off to fight Gaston except him and clenched his teeth. One thing he couldn't stand was watching from the sidelines. So he figured, one way or another, he was going to do something to help out. Then he heard a loud roar from the roof. "Beast!" All the servants went to the door that was getting rammed down and everyone else got up to the roof with Beast on it. He was fighting off Gaston.

"Hey, you leave Beast alone!" Sora exclaimed.

Belle looked at him, not noticing he was there. "I told you-"

"Belle, do you really think I'm gonna just stay down there and watch you guys fight Gaston? Not a chance!" Belle nodded, understanding.

Gaston stopped fighting Beast and stared at the others. "Belle-"

"Don't even say it! I'm sick of you, and I want you to leave the Beast alone!"

Gaston just laughed. "I'm gonna marry you no matter what, so don't even-"

"Belle's free to make her own decisions! If she doesn't wanna marry you, you can't force her to!" Sora yelled.

"Who the heck are you?"

Sora pointed his Keyblade at him. "I'm someone you don't wanna mess with." Gaston laughed again.

"You think I'm afraid of that key thing?" He pulled out a gun and pointed it at Sora.

"No!" Kairi exclaimed. She ran up to Gaston and tried to prevent him from shooting Sora. Gaston hit her in the stomach with his arm and knocked the wind out of her.

"Kairi!" Sora rushed beside her. Then she passed out. Sora made a fist and got up. He stood, glaring at Gaston. Everyone else was looking between Sora and Gaston, open-mouthed at what had just happened to Kairi.

"You're the one who's a monster, not Beast!" Belle cried out.

Sora got his Keyblade ready. "You've CROSSED THE LINE!" He charged at Gaston and tried to hit him. Beast was attacking him, too. Sora tried to hit him from every angle he could, angered by what he did to Kairi. Beast eventually pushed him off the edge. When he did, Sora ran back to Kairi. He tried to wake her up. "Kairi, get up!" She didn't budge. "C'mon, don't do this to me!"

Kairi awoke and looked at him. "Sora...?"

"Yeah, it's me. Are you okay?"

She nodded. "Now I am." He helped her get to her feet.

Sora glanced back and saw Beast helping Gaston back up. ‘Wow, I never thought he'd do that.'

"Leave," Beast stated simply. "Now." Gaston looked as if he was going to, but then he turned around and shot Beast with the gun.

"BEAST!" Belle and Sora exclaimed at the same time. Sora got his Keyblade again and, forgetting his broken arm, swung at Gaston. He dropped the Keyblade before he could hit him and grabbed his arm with his other hand.

Gaston smirked. "And you said I shouldn't mess with you. I'm so scared."

"Leave Sora alone!" Kairi yelled. Gaston looked at her for a moment and turned his attention back to Sora, who was breathing hard. Gaston pointed the gun at Sora again.

"Sora!" Kairi called.

Sora felt power rise within him and he hit the gun with his Keyblade, knocking it out of Gaston's hand. Gaston backed away and fell off accidently. Sora watched him fall to his doom. ‘He kinda deserved it.' He ran to Beast then, everyone around him.

"Is he...." Belle started crying. Sora felt extremely bad and a tear fell down his own face.

‘No, he can't be. He just can't. Beast is... indestructible.'

‘Kinda like what Kairi thinks you are?' Roxas said to Sora in his mind.

Sora glanced at Kairi and saw her sobbing also. He looked back at Beast. ‘I'm not indestructible. Not like the Beast was.'

‘Yeah, but Kairi sure thinks you are.'

Sora shook his head. ‘She's wrong. I'm not the strongest person out there.'

‘To her, you are. Are you gonna keep this up?' Another tear came down his face.

"Beast..." Belle muttered. All of a sudden, the Beast floated up into the air and transformed into a human.

‘No way!' Sora thought, staring in awe.

Beast had fully turned into a human and came back down to the ground. He opened his eyes. "Belle...?" he said in a completely different voice.

Belle wrapped her arms around him. "Oh, Beast, you're okay!"

Sora smiled. "I guess the spell's broken, huh?"

Riku elbowed him. "I bet you'd love that to be you and Kairi someday. ‘The spell's broken, Kairi! The spell of not-being-able-to-tell-what's-going-on-ness!'"

"Shut up, Riku." Everyone started laughing. Sora looked at Kairi. ‘Maybe... I do love her.'

Kisara grinned. "Hey, Sora, I can't wait to see the look on your face when you find ‘it' out."

"What's ‘it'?"

"You'll see. Someday."

Sora stood up and looked at Beast and Belle. And then he looked back at Kairi. ‘Maybe... she loves me. Maybe Kisara was right.' Sora then felt a sudden pain in his head and grasped it.

‘You are weak.' Sora fell to the ground, his power being taken away. Then everything went black.

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‘You don't know the meaning of everything that's happened to you.'

‘What do you want with me?! Why is everyone after me just because of the Keyblade?!' Sora didn't understand what was going on.

‘You think I'm after that stupid key thing of yours? I don't care about that. The thing I want is your heart.'

‘No! I'm not giving up my heart! There's no way!'

‘I know a way....' The voice disappeared.

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"Sora!" Sora woke up and saw Kairi standing there. She helped him up. "What happened there?"

"I... I'm not sure...." Sora still didn't feel right. He felt weakened. He looked at Kairi and realized something. ‘Is that what he meant?! He's gonna use Kairi against me?!' Sora couldn't stand the thought at all. He felt sickened by it. ‘He can't. I won't let him!'

Kairi looked at Sora, concerned. "You need to be more careful, Sora. People are gonna try and enter your mind and, if they do, who knows what's gonna happen?"

"Yeah, okay...." He was still a little light-headed. ‘Was that the guy the King was telling me about? The evil Chaser?' Sora shook it off and tried to walk straight.

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The rose floated in the air, and the process was repeated again. "Do you guys really have to go?" Belle asked.

Sora nodded. "We'll be back, I promise."

Beast-who wasn't exactly a beast anymore-smiled at Sora. "Thanks a lot."

"No prob. But we have to go to other worlds." He turned around and started out the door. "So, Kisara, you're coming with us?"

"Yep. That's what Leon told me to do."

Sora thought about Kairi. ‘I don't know if I do love her, or if she loves me. But I do know that no matter what, we'll be together. Either as friends... or more.'

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