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Chapter Twenty Four: The Valley
A gaunt, hooded figure stood watch as the motley group traveled into the mountains. The figure’s eyes had seen many people pass through those mountains, a great many indeed. This figure once led a group into that pass, a group that she intended to betray. She almost succeeded, but it cost her life in the process.
Thanks to the powers of darkness however, things were going to be different. The Hooded One turned to see Rasputin slowly walking towards her. He frowned seeing Sora going towards the valley beyond the mountains.
“I believe your job was to eliminate him before he got a chance to reach the princess, was it not?”
The Hooded One laughed softly. “It is of no importance if they reach the village... they will die all the same at the hands of the Heartless.”
“It is not wise to disobey me for long, Hooded One. Remember, you may have the powers of darkness on your side now, but let’s not forget who brought you back and gave them to you.”
The Hooded One paused. “Yes. Rest assured, I haven’t forgotten, Rasputin.” The Hooded One remembered well about how she had been slain before, about how her original master, the Lord of the Locust, had been destroyed. It was because of Rasputin that she was alive now, and the darkness was who she served.
“If Sora interacts with the princess, capturing her may become more difficult than we thought.”
The Hooded One nodded. “Yes, there will always be that risk when the Keybearer enters a world. Of more concern however...” The Hooded One gestured to Fone Bone, “Is the Bone creature. He is under the protection of the Red Dragon. The Heartless have an instinctive fear of that lizard, but why I cannot explain. Nevertheless, the Bone and the Keybearer will both be eliminated.”
Rasputin smiled coldly. “And be sure that you secure the princess. She is almost of more importance than killing the Keybearer.” The Hooded One looked at Rasputin with surprised eyes. Rasputin grinned, “Almost.”
The sun burned down mercilessly as the troop made their way between two sheer rock faces. Sora’s forehead was beaded with sweat, and he felt weak from trying to cast Blizzard spells so much. Donald was helping, but the least they could do without freezing everyone was to simply create a gentle breeze that didn’t seem to help very much.
Fone Bone glanced around helplessly. “Huff... I haven’t seen any of Smiley’s cigar butts in a long time. Dangit! I bet Smiley dropped all those cigars just to mess with me, like it was all a prank! Oooh, when I get my hands on those no-good...”
Fone Bone broke off and stopped. Sora, Donald and Goofy did too. Stretching before them was a beautiful massive valley, with lush green forests and rolling rivers. Fone Bone looked down at the map, then back at the land, then back at the map, then back at the land again.
Sora exhaled with a happy breath, “Cool, we made it.” He walked over towards it and noticed the sheer cliff drop leading down towards it.
Goofy put his hand above his eyes and peered forwards. “Yuh-huh, but where do ya think ‘it’ is, exactly?” He walked forward so much that he didn’t notice the ground beneath him disappear. He paused and looked down, and with a yell, he dropped like a brick tied to a flying rhino.
Sora gasped and leapt down after Goofy, leaving Donald and Fone Bone standing at the edge watching.
Fone Bone gulped. “You know we’ll have to go down there sometime.”
Donald gulped too. “Um, yup. Guess we better get it over with.”
“Yeah.” The two stood there motionless. Down below, Sora rolled his eyes and fired a Firaga spell at the rock under them. It melted into molten slab, causing Fone Bone and Donald to leap, (quite ungracefully), down below.
After everyone had made it, however taxing, down to the ground, Sora and Fone Bone led the other two to try and find some water. With a gleeful cry, Fone Bone pointed excitedly at a lone cigar butt on the ground, exactly like Smiley’s. Sora sprinted forward to grab it when a voice cried out.
“HEY! Watch it, you almos’ stepped on me!” Sora froze mid-step and looked to see a small, quarter-sized green thing looking up at him.
“Uh, sorry. Who are you?” Sora was already questioning why a leaf was talking to him, and wondered if he was just motion sick from the drop down.
“I’m Ted, I’m a bug!” He extended a tiny foreleg as if to shake.
Fone Bone read Sora’s thoughts exactly. “You look more like a leaf.”
“A LEAF?! That’s an insult! Take this, ya big blowhard!” Ted shot upward like a dart, and Fone Bone ducked. Ted soared straight and true, whopping Donald upside the head, causing him to fly backward, landing with a splash.
Ted dusted himself off. “That jes’ goes ta show ya! Ya don’-“ His words fell on deaf ears, as Goofy, Sora and Fone Bone just realized that Donald had landed with a SPLASH. They tore through the foliage to find Donald floating in a small stream, and they threw him aside to gulp up the water.
They drank like hungry animals, and went on for several minutes. When done, Sora let fly a ferocious belch. Ted broke out in laughter. “Hoo-whee! That right thar’ was amazeratin’! You gots to show that thar’ to Thorn!”
Sora paused. “Who’s Thorn? Is she another lea-I mean, bug?”
Ted laughed again. “Ho Ho! No! Thorn knows jes’ ‘bout everythin’ thar’ is to know! I knows yer nots from the Valley, so maybes she can help y’all get acquantiated with the locals. Foller me!” He bounced over to a nearby path. Fone Bone helped Goofy and Donald pick themselves up, and Sora followed them alongside Ted to meet this so-called, ‘Thorn.’
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