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Chapter Eight: The Realm of Darkness

Darkness shrouded the area, just like it always did in the Realm of Darkness. It was difficult to see anything. Nioto shuddered. "I've never liked darkness. It's always a light person's nature to hate it."

"I know," Sora said. He had always belonged to the side of light, never even thinking about choosing darkness. The only one of his friends who had ever even experienced darkness at all was Riku, who let it take over him once. Sora knew that was all in the past for Riku now, or it should've been.

Nioto looked at him. "Hey, just for reference, who are your friends, anyway?"

"Riku, Kairi, Donald, Goofy and Kisara."

"Oh. Who are the boys?"

"Riku, Donald and Goofy."

Nioto smiled again. "Are any of them cute?"

Sora was surprised she would say something like that and gave her a weirded-out look. "How would I know?!"

"Sheesh, I was just askin', mister grouchy."

Sora put his hand on his forehead and shook his head. ‘As soon as I find Kairi and the others, I'm ditching her.'

Nioto made a ball of light appear in her hands. "This'll help us see better."

Sora stared in awe. ‘How in the world does she do that?!'

"And just in case you're wondering, my powers are a little different. I can use light magic in any way and any form I want to, so don't be surprised. And, yeah, I know you're surprised because I can read your face."

Sora blinked. ‘That's just scary.'

He and Nioto ventured forward, looking for his lost friends. It took a very long time, but it was shorter than it probably would have been normally, thanks to Nioto's light. Eventually they came to an invisible cage where inside, Sora found most of his friends. "Riku! Donald, Goofy, Kisara! Are you guys okay?!"

Kisara ran up and grabbed the bars. "We're fine. Riku's still unconscious, but he'll be okay."

Goofy also came up. "I saw a member take Kairi up there further into the darkness."

"Yeah," Donald stated. "But we don't know where they took her."

Sora pointed his Keyblade at what seemed to be a keyhole that unlocked the cage. When it opened, everyone was able to wake Riku up. "Hey, man, you okay?" Sora questioned.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Riku got up and looked at Nioto. "Who's she?"

"My name's Nioto, and I guess I'm not getting a boyfriend anytime soon." Sora and Riku blinked, not understanding the comment. Nioto rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

"Nioto, Riku," Sora ordered, "take the others and go back to Agrabah. If you unlock any worlds, go there. If you don't, stay in Agrabah until you do. I'm going after Kairi."

Nioto nodded. "Alright. I'll send a portal after you in a few hours, so don't die in that amount of time."

"Trust me, I won't."

They all turned around and started walking away. "Be careful, Sora!" Goofy called out. Then they all started finding their way back to Agrabah.

Sora stared ahead with determination in his eyes. ‘Kairi... hang in there just a little longer. Organization XIII's gonna pay for this, I'll make sure of that.' He ran ahead, venturing off on, yet again, a Kairi rescue mission. He was going to find her no matter what, he felt it in his heart. Nobodies continuously attacked him, but he was able to defeat all of them.

After a while, it became very tiring. He heard a bunch of laughs and Organization XIII appeared with all its living members.

"Well done, well done, Keyblade Master," an extremely deep voice proclaimed.

"Xemnas!"

"Why, of course. Who else would it be?" He took off his hood to reveal a tanned man with long, silver hair, sort of like Riku's. All the other members took off their hoods, also, half of them Sora not remembering at all.

He noticed something strange. "What happened to-"

"Axel?" the only female member finished. "You killed him, that's what. He died just like the rest of us did, and yet, he didn't come back. Not like we need him, anyway. He and Roxas were always the outsiders."

Sora found it a little shocking that Axel truly was dead when he actually had hoped he wasn't. "I didn't kill him!"

"Sure, and I'm an old codger," a man with black hair, an eyepatch and a scarred face said sarcastically. Sora recognized the man as Xigbar.

"Enough of that, where's Kairi?!"

"Nowhere you need to know of right now," a blonde-haired man with a British accent stated.

Sora knew that was Luxord. He made a fist. "Tell me now! ‘Cause if you don't-"

"What, you'll kill us again?" a guy with, strangely, long, pink hair said. "Nuh-uh, don't think so, kiddo. You might be the Keyblade's chosen one, but you're definitely not gonna be able to threaten us."

"You might as well give up now. We're ten times stronger, and we'd win against you any day now," another blonde member, Demyx, declared.

"You should just take that little key thing of yours and dump it," an older member stated. The rest of the Organization laughed.

"That's not funny! I'm asking you one more time. Where's Kairi?! What did you with her?!"

None of the members answered. They just glared at him with hatred in their eyes. "It should be obvious," Xemnas said, "that you won't see her any time soon. But you need to worry about protecting yourself from harmful attacks right now. Larxene!" The blonde girl member looked at Xemnas. "Would you like to go first?"

Larxene smirked. "It would be my honor to take down this dud."

Sora tried to make his Keyblade appear, but nothing happened. "What the-?!"

"Magic and your Keyblade don't work here, kid!" Larxene put her hands together and raised them into the air. "Lightning!" A lightning bolt came flying down from the air, and Sora rolled and barely dodged it. When the bolt hit the ground, an explosion was created, harming Sora's body.

"My turn!" the pink-haired man exclaimed excitedly. He got out a long scythe and plunged right toward Sora. He hit him right in the shoulder, forcing him to fall to the ground. Blood came out of Sora's shoulder and he clutched it. He grimaced as he got to his feet again. Luxord sent two humongous cards flying at Sora's arms and left big cuts on them.

‘If they keep this up, I don't know how much longer I can stay alive!' Sora knew he had no weapons to fight back with, but he was going to struggle to remain conscious and, hopefully, alive. Demyx made his sitar appear and piercing water shot out of it. Not doing much damage, Sora easily defended himself the best he could from the blow.

‘Demyx was never that good of a fighter,' he thought to himself. A male with long, blue hair and an X-shaped scar in between his eyes, Saïx, tackled Sora and pointed his weapon; a long, blue, very dangerous sword-like weapon with spikes; at his neck. "Not what you expected, huh?" Sora tried to push Saïx away, but he was able to stay on him long enough to cut the side of Sora's neck into a gash. He jumped away, leaving him with difficulty breathing. Sora found it even worse when he was already breathing harder from the struggle.

‘I have to find Kairi! I can't let them win!'

"And to think we've only started," Xemnas said with a laugh. "Zexion!"

A younger member with short, blue-ish silver hair put his hand out. "Telepathy!" Sora's head started pounding again, but not enough for him to pass out. A member with light, red hair and an extremely gigantic tomahawk hit Sora in the side and he was knocked against a wall.

‘No! How do they keep doing this?!' Sora could barely stand then. Another unknown member with long, blonde hair hit Sora in the back with his blue shield, knocking him down. And this time, Sora couldn't get up. He was on his hands and knees, trying to survive. He was covered in bruises and blood. Some members in Organization XIII laughed.

‘I need my Keyblade!' Sora tried again to make it appear, but no luck came out of it. Xaldin grabbed one of his lances and thrust it at him. It nearly pierced his arm. Sora let out a yelp of pain. Xigbar had two very large, purple guns and shot a weird, diamond-shaped, orange colored, bullet-like object out from it and it hit Sora in the side of his head.

‘No! They can't win! They can't!' Sora could barely move then. It seemed over, but he knew one more attack was coming, and it would be straight from the leader.

Xemnas put his hands out, ready to attack, and smirked. "Are you ready to meet your doom?"

"You... won't... kill... me..." Sora could hardly say.

Xemnas' smirk broadened. "And, for some reason, I doubt that. Paralyzation!" Sora's entire body went into shock. He felt pain everywhere. He tried to hold on but it became too much. When the attack was finally over, he was on the ground, not able to move at all.

"I can't.... Kairi... I'm sorry... I couldn't... save... you..." And then everything went black as Sora passed out. ‘I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough.'

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When Sora awoke, he was very surprised. His wrists were chained tightly against a wall. He struggled to break them, but it was pure steel and he was still weak from the blows. He saw all the members had distanced themselves from him. They had all their weapons pointed toward him. "What... what are you doing?"

"Those attacks didn't kill you, but we know this will," Luxord stated.

Larxene smirked. "Ever heard of combining powers?"

‘You've gotta be kidding me!' "What did you do with Kairi?!"

"Look at that. He's on the edge of death and he still thinks about that girl," Xigbar proclaimed.

"Actually," the blonde-haired, unknown member said, "that's very interesting."

Sora tried with all his might to break the chains, but nothing happened. "If you hurt Kairi-"

"Trust me, we won't hurt her," Saïx stated.

"You're trying to destroy me and you want me to trust you?! Ha! There's no way I'm trusting you guys!"

Xemnas simpered. "You are pretty smart. But you're not going to be for long."

Behind them, in a place Sora couldn't see, Kairi woke up from being unconscious. "Wha-" She looked up and gasped. "Sora!"

He glanced right at her. "Kairi! Are you okay?!"

"I was just about to ask you the same thing!" Kairi was also stuck behind an invisible cage and couldn't get out. She saw what Organization XIII was going to do and loathed them immensely.

Sora smiled at her. "Never expected it to end like this, huh?"

"You won't die, Sora! I know it!"

"Kairi, some things-"

Tears started pouring out of Kairi's eyes. "You WON'T die! There's no way you can! I... I won't let it happen!" Sora watched as Organization XIII had finished powering up. A bright light came from it, and he knew that would be the end.

‘NO!' Kairi thought. ‘I have to do something!' She watched in horror as they were about to, yet again, attempt to kill Sora. Then she thought of something, but she wasn't sure it would work. She put her hand over her heart and reached for all her power. She grew weaker and weaker, and then she finally had almost every ounce of strength she had out of her. She sent it toward Sora, hoping that she had enough strength to save him. "Now it's my turn... to help you...." She fainted from the loss of power.

The blast finally came out and it struck Sora right in the heart. Sora thought he knew what was coming, but... He survived.

As the light from the blast disappeared, Organization XIII stared with their mouths open, stunned. They found it hard to believe that Sora had lived. Even Sora himself was shocked.

"But, how?!" Demyx exclaimed.

Zexion pointed at Kairi. "It was the girl!"

The rest of the Organization grimaced as they vanished. The chains holding Sora came loose and he landed on the ground. ‘I don't get it,' he thought. ‘How did she....'

‘You aren't going to like this, but I know what happened. Naminé contacted me right before she did it, and she told me that Kairi was gonna give her power up for you,' Roxas stated.

‘THAT'S how I survived?!' He looked right at Kairi. ‘She... I can't believe she did that.'

‘I can.' Roxas disappeared again.

Sora made a fist, angered that Kairi had harmed herself for him. He ran to Kairi and unlocked the cage. "Kairi!" He tried to wake her up but nothing happened. ‘This shouldn't have happened at all.' He carefully lifted her off the ground and into his arms. ‘This wouldn't have happened if I was more careful, like everyone's always telling me.' He started walking forward, trying to find where Nioto's portal might be.

After a while, he came to a dead end. "Guess we stop here." He laid Kairi down on the ground and sat down beside her. ‘I really wish this never happened.' Sora wondered why Kairi had done that and wondered if she would be okay.

Kairi's eyes slowly came open. "Kairi, are you okay?"

"Yeah..." she replied, her voice coming out only as a faint whisper.

Sora bit his lip. "Can you move?" Kairi didn't answer him and Sora knew what that meant. He helped her sit upright, holding her back so she wouldn't fall. "Kairi, why did you do that?"

She closed her eyes for a moment. "I... I didn't... I didn't want you to... to get hurt," she answered weakly. "I knew that... that if I didn't do something, you... you could've died. I... I didn't want... that to happen...."

"Kairi, just... just don't do that again. You had me worried."

"You had me worried, Sora." A tear came down her face. "I... I don't... want you to die...!" she exclaimed the best she could. She put her head on Sora's chest and started weeping.

"Kairi... Kairi, don't cry. It's all over now, we're gonna be fine." She continued sobbing, anyway. Sora then noticed something he was surprised he hadn't noticed before. ‘She's wearing the necklace I gave her.' He glanced down for a moment, sort of smiling. Then he looked back at Kairi. "Hey, I'm fine, now. I'm not dead, you don't have to cry."

Kairi gazed up at him. "I know, it's just... there's been... so many things that's happened, I... I can't really handle it all...."

"Hey, I made it through all kinds of stuff. I made it through being separated from you and Riku, being turned into a Heartless, facing Xehanort's Heartless, battling Organization XIII, finding out they had kidnapped you, trying to save Kingdom Hearts, and now I have even more to face: Organization XIII all over again and this Chaser. I've done a lot in my life, and I've been able to handle it. It's... it's just a little difficult at times." Kairi seemed to nod, although that was hard to do for her when she had given up all her strength.

‘Wow. We've all gone through way more than most people would in their entire life. I guess that's what happens when you get chosen by a mystical weapon.' Then he thought about Riku. ‘He's gone through more than any of us, definitely. Xehanort's Heartless took over him once, and nothing like that's happened to anyone else. He was never really the optimistic one.'

Sora thought about all his past adventures, especially when he met his two best friends in a year...

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"Kairi, you were great!" Donald complimented after beating a bunch of Heartless. Kairi turned around and smiled. She and Sora approached each other.

"You are different, Kairi, but I'm just glad you're here!" Sora stated.

"You and Riku never came home, so I came looking for you."

Sora looked down at the floor. "I'm sorry."

Kairi hugged him, surprising Sora. "This is real..." she declared quietly. Sora wrapped his arms around her.

Riku turned to leave, still in Xehanort's Heartless form. That made Sora mistake him for being the rival he had once defeated. He pulled himself away from Kairi and looked at him. "Wait, Ansem!" Riku turned to look at him. "I mean, Xehanort's Heartless." Sora paused. "I never thought for a second I'd ever see YOU again. Just thinking about all the things you did makes me really mad. But... you saved Kairi, right? I have to be grateful for that. Thanks."

He started to walk away when Kairi ran up to him and grabbed his arm. "Riku, don't go!"

Sora stared in amazement. "Kairi, what did you just say?!"

She glanced at Sora. "Riku."

Riku pulled himself away from her grasp. "I'm no one, just a castaway from the darkness."

"Sora, come here. Say something to him." Sora was confused and walked over to his two best friends.

"Here, you'll understand." Kairi put Sora's hand on top of Riku's. "Close your eyes."

Sora did, and when he did, he saw that it truly was Riku standing there, not Xehanort's Heartless. Sora opened his eyes. "Riku..." He trembled a little. "Its Riku... Riku's here!" Sora fell onto his knees and started sobbing. "I looked for you!"

"C'mon, Sora. You've gotta pull it together."

Sora glanced up at him. "I looked everywhere for you!"

"I didn't want you to find me."

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Sora would never forget how he felt when Riku said that. He was flat-out shocked. Then he thought about what was happening right then. He kept having flashbacks of a person he didn't even know, Organization XIII and an evil Chaser were out to kill him, and Kairi could have passed away at any moment.

Kairi had stopped crying and looked at Sora. "Do... do you think that... we're actually gonna win... in the end?"

"Kairi, I know we're gonna win in the end. I'm not making a random guess here off the top of my head. I feel it here in my heart, we'll win. We have determination, courage and heart. Isn't that all that matters?"

Kairi smiled faintly. "You always amaze me... Sora. You could've just said ‘yes', and you gave me that..." Sora wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or a smart-alek remark. "I love that about you," Kairi stated. Sora was a little shocked that she said that.

The portal that Nioto had promised then appeared. It looked just like the other two had. "Time to go." Sora lifted Kairi off the ground and the two went through the portal.

‘Don't worry, Kairi, you'll be safe now.'

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