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Sword Art Online Hollow Heart: Chain of Memories


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Sword art online Hollow Heart: Chain of Memories

Chapter 1 Castle Oblivion

My name is Kazuto Kirigaya. My friends call me Kirito. I'm currently laying down in a field of grass staring up at the night sky while my fiancé, Asuna Yuuki, is quietly snoozing next to me. Why am I in a grassy plain in the middle of nowhere you ask? Well that's because I went on this crazy world hopping quest with this spiky haired kid named Sora, along with a talking duck and dog named Donald and Goofy. See, Sora was chosen by this mystical weapon called a keyblade. A magical key shaped sword with the ability to lock or unlock any lock in existence. The keyblade chooses its wielders based on the strength in their heart. I guess that means I have a strong heart as well since I was able to call upon one of my own. The duty of a keyblade wielder is to protect the worlds from these creatures of darkness called Heartless. The Heartless are spawned whenever a person succumbs to the darkness in their heart. The heartless Posses the ability to steal their victims hearts. So when one spawns, more of them follow. The end goal of the heartless is to enter a world's keyhole so that they can enter the world's core and steal the heart of that world, thus dragging it into darkness. That's where Sora, and now I come in. The keyblade can lock these keyholes and prevent the heartless from destroying that world. Unfortunately, neither, Sora or I were in possession of the keyblade until after the heartless destroyed our worlds.

So, Sora and I journeyed across space to various worlds in order to seal these keyholes while looking for our friends and a way back home. Eventually we found the mastermind behind the heartless. A man by the name of Ansem. His goal was to gather the hearts of people and various worlds in one place in order to force open the door to darkness and locate Kingdom Hearts. The fabled birthplace of all hearts. Ansem believed that all hearts were born in darkness and that Kingdom hearts was darkness in its purest form. And though Ansem did succeed in opening the door to darkness, he quickly discovered that Kingdom Hearts was actually the purest form of light. The light of Kingdom Hearts destroyed Ansem. And we sealed the door to darkness away. After Ansem and the heartless were defeated, the hearts of the worlds they stole were returned to their place in the stars. So now we're looking for Sora's friend, Riku, along with Donald and Goofy's King, Mickey Mouse.

The door to darkness could only be closed and locked when there were people closing and locking it on both sides. So Riku and King Mickey stayed in the realm of darkness in order to lock the door while Sora locked it from our side. After we find them we can focus on Reuniting with Yui. The daughter of Asuna and I, Then we can finally go home. After this journey was over I planned to marry Asuna and settle down with her so that we could Raise Yui and our other Daughter Strea, together. Then I was going to create a vrmmorpg based on our adventures and cash in on the royalties. Sounds easy right? Wrong. You see, we're kind of lost right now. We have no idea where in the universe we are. And without a gummi ship, we couldn't leave. And even if we did have one, the walls separating the worlds were restored. So we wouldn't be able to leave whatever world we were currently on anyway. Anyone else would say that we're in a hopeless situation. Although anyone who says that clearly hasn't met Sora. That kid makes the impossible, possible. With Sora at our side there is no doubt in my mind that we will accomplish all of our goals.

Speaking of Sora, Kirito noticed that Sora was walking off without them. So Kirito decided to follow him. Sora and Kirito walked until they reached a four way intersection in the road. It was the first one they had seen since arriving in this strangely empty world. "Along the road ahead lies something you need." A voice said from behind us. The voice in question belonged to a man in a hooded black coat. Startle by the sudden appearance of the stranger we turned around to see who it was. Only to find no one there. We knew that the man wouldn't have gone very far since he had taken the trouble of speaking with us. And when we turned around again, we saw the cloaked individual standing before us. However—in order to claim it, you must lose something that is dear to you." He said. Kirito summoned his keyblade and let loose a battle cry as he attempted to run the man through, but the stranger vanished just before the blade connected. "What was that about?" Sora asked. "I don't know, but I've got a bad feeling about this." Kirito replied.

Meanwhile, a blonde haired girl with blue eyes was drawing a picture of the castle she was currently at in crayon on her sketch pad. The girl was wearing a white sundress and sky blue sandles. The room she was in was entirely alabaster white. Her room didn't have much. Just a stool and a bird cage holding a tiny stuffed doll in her likeness. The doll was practically a symbol of her current imprisonment. But if what her captors said was true, she knew that there would soon be visitors. She only prayed that Sora and his friends would be able to escape the trap that was waiting for them. A trap that she herself was a part of. And was helpless to stop.

Our heroes stood before a strange looking castle. The castle itself was a golden color and had blueish triangular roofs on each of its spires. The spires themselves jutted out every which way and some of the rooms appeared to be tilted. Near the upper most level was a demonic gargoyle and above it was a stain glass window depicting a bright yellow star. The land and air around the castle was similar to the heartless world they had previously been to. When they looked at the castle they felt a strange feeling. As if everything they were searching for was in the castle's depths. Kirito in particular felt a strange sense of familiarity. As if he had seen this castle before. He also felt a sense of foreboding like going into this castle would be dangerous. However the castle was the only place of shelter, and perhaps people, they had seen so far. With no other options, the seven of them entered the strange castle.

The castle's interior was completely white. Except for the pale yellow doors at the entrance and back of the large foyer. The walls were lined marble columns. Between those columns were alabaster crests. And below those crests were white ceramic podiums topped with white ceramic flowers. The floor had diamond shaped patterns on either side of the center. "Hey, ya think it's okay to barge in?" Goofy asked. "But we've gotta do it. If we're gonna find the king." Donald replied. "The King! King Mickey's here?!" Goofy gasped while frantically looking around the foyer. "What makes you think that your king is here?" Asuna asked. "Something just told me he'd be here, okay?" Donald said. "Really? Cause now that ya mention it, I was kinda thinkin' the same thing. A-hyuck." Goofy replied. "Seriously? Me too! One look at this castle, and I just knew. Our very best friends—they're here." Sora said. "A-hyuck. Guess great minds think alike." Goofy said. "Wait, hey, hold on! It can't be just a coincidence!" Jiminy cricket said while hopping out of Sora's hood. "You don't mean that-" Kirito said before being cut off.

"Yep, I had it too, mm-hmm! I had the exact same feeling." Jiminy said. "Maybe it's contagious." Yuuki said. "You have to admit that something strange is going on." Strea said. "We've gotta take a look around." Asuna said. "Right." Sora replied. He then turned around and was about to walk towards the door at the end of the room when he was stopped by Donald who asked where he thought he was going. "That way. To the door." Sora pointed out. "Are ya scared?" Sora asked while grinning cockily at Donald. "Aw, don't be ridiculous! Come on, let's go Goofy!" Donald ranted and then stomped towards the door. "Hey, fellahs, shouldn't we shut the door behind us before we go?" Goofy asked. However when he turned towards the entrance door, his eyes widened in shock when he saw a man in a black coat standing at the entrance. The door behind him creaked as it slowly closed.

"That's it! Who are you?" Sora asked while calling out his keyblade and getting into a fighting stance. The rest of us drew our weapons and did the same. The stranger seemed totally unfazed as he slowly walked towards us. "Wak! Heartless! Oh yeah? I'll try some magic!" Donald said while hopping on one of his webbed feet and waving his staff to call out a spell. "THUNDER!" He shouted. Normally this would be the part where a bolt of electricity would strike the intended target, but for some reason nothing happened. "Come on. THUNDER! THUNDER!" Donald shouted to no avail. What was going on? Donald is an expert wizard. A simple thunder spell should have been no issue for him. "Come on… Blizzard? FIRE!" Donald futilely tried. "Why isn't it working?" Donald asked. "I should think it's obvious. The moment you set foot in the castle, you forgot every spell and every ability that you ever knew." The stranger said. 'Every spell and ability? Then that means…'everyone felt as if their reality was shattered like a baseball flying into a window 'OUR PROGRESS HAS BEEN RESET!'

"In this place, to find is to lose, and to lose is to find. That is the way in Castle Oblivion." The stranger said. "Castle Oblivion?" Kirito parroted. The stranger was then enveloped by a dark portal and vanished before us. Then another portal opened and he reappeared behind us. "Here you will meet people that you have known in the past. And you will meet people you miss." The stranger said. "I miss?" sora wondered aloud before an epiphany struck. "Riku! You mean Riku's here!?" Sora asked. "If what you want… is to find him…" the stranger trailed off as he raised his hand toward Sora. A gust of wind and cherry blossoms blew from his palm. The wind was as strong as a spring gale and sora was barely able to keep his footing. While the wind blew, the stranger ode with the wind he created and phased through Sora's body. When the wind stopped, Sora jumped in the air and swung his keyblade down towards the stranger's head in an overhead strike. However the man simply vanished and left cherry blossoms in his place. The man then reappeared in front of the door at the back of the foyer.

"What'd you do?" Sora asked. "I merely sampled your memories. And from them, I made this." The man said while holding out a card of some sort. The card had crown shaped points at the top. The frame of it was a sky blue color. And the artwork of the card depicted Traverse Towne. Although part of the picture was covered by mouse logo with a crown in the bottom left corner. And on the back of the card was a heart shaped logo with a crown inside it. "To reunite with those you hold dear-"he then tossed the card like a throwing knife towards Sora who promptly caught it. "What's this, a card?" Sora asked. "It is a promise for the reunion you seek. Hold the card to open the door. And beyond it, a new world." He then gestured to the pale yellow doors behind him. "Proceed, Sora. To lose and claim anew, or to claim anew only to lose…" the stranger said before vanishing once more in a dark portal.

Ever since the stranger mentioned the name of Castle Oblivion Kirito's head began to throb. As time went on, the pain in his head increased further and further. Like a knife that was slowly being twisted and driven into his skull. This castle was starting to overwhelm him and when the stranger disappeared, he collapsed. His vision was getting hazy. He knew at some point he heard Sora and Asuna rush to his aid. He saw Asuna, but instead of Sora, he saw a boy with spiky blonde hair, blue eyes and a black and white jacket that was pleaded red on the inside. The boy's facial features bore a resemblance to Sora though. Kirito had no idea who this boy was, but for some reason he felt a sense of remorse towards him? As if he had done something terrible to him. As his consciousness slowly faded he uttered one last word. "Ventus…"

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Chapter 2 the world of cards

Asuna cradled Kirito's head in her lap. A look of worry etched on her face as she gazed at his unconscious form. Questions upon questions formed in her mind as she wondered what or who could've caused her fiancé to collapse. "Kirito… please wake up." Asuna said. "Gawrsh! You don't think that fellah in the black coat could've done something to him?" Goofy pondered. "Well if he did, he's gonna pay for it!" Sora angrily remarked. "Yeah, let's get him!" Donald said. "Did you forget what happened just now? Our abilities are gone! We can't fight anyone until we figure out how this cockamamie castle works." Asuna said. "But-" Sora said before being cut off by Asuna again. "No Buts! We're not going anywhere until Kirito wakes up." Asuna said firmly.

While Kirito slept, his dreams brought him to a familiar place. A round, gothic column with a stain glass floor depicting himself, his loved ones, and the floating castle Aincrad. From what he could gather, this place existed inside of his heart. Although the only times he had been to this place, was when his mysterious tenant, Master Eraqus, had called for him. He hadn't figured out why he chose him of all people, but Eraqus had been a source of guidance for Kirito in the past. Perhaps he could help explain their current predicament. "Eraqus! Master Eraqus!" Kirito called out. "I need some answers. What is Castle oblivion? Who is that guy in the black coat? And who was that kid I saw?" Kirito asked. A ball of light floated towards the station from the inky darkness surrounding it. Once it reached the station's center, the light intensified for a second before Eraqus resumed his human form.

"Apologies, Kirito. What you experienced was one of my memories. It seems this castle has caused our memories to mix with one another. Allow me to explain. Castle Oblivion as it is now known, was once my home. Light and darkness exist in equal balance here. The masters before me devised a certain… trick to keep people from abusing such neutral ground. Before it became what you see now, I lived here as its protector and was tasked with training keyblade wielders so that they would one day become masters. Before I passed, I taught one of my students how to turn this place into the castle you see today. The memories of all who enter this castle are lost to Oblivion. Hence the name." Eraqus said. "So that splitting pain in my head was one of your memories. What did you do?" Kirito asked. "Let's just say it's something I regret and leave it at that. Now, on to more important matters. Those strangers in the black coats are trespassers. They have to be dealt with." Eraqus said. "Okay, and the boy with the blonde hair?" Kirito asked. "One of my students. Now if that's all, I believe you have a more pressing matter to attend to." Eraqus said curtly. He then turned back into a ball of light and floated off to some other corner of this imaginary space. "Well he's as cryptic as ever." Kirito said.

Back in the castle foyer, Kirito groaned as he woke from his abrupt slumber and saw Asuna looking down at him with an expression of concern. "Hey Asuna." Kirito greeted. "Kirito… You dummy." Asuna scolded while tearing up. "Can you get up?" Strea asked. "I think so." Kirito responded. "Here, let me give you a hand." Sora offered while extending his arm toward Kirito. Kirito took the offered hand and with sora's help he was soon back on his feet. "Gawrsh. Are ya sure you're okay Kirito?" Goofy asked. "Yeah. It was just a head ache." Kirito said. "You passed out! That's more than just a head ache. You probably have a concussion." Yuuki said. "It's fine. I know what happened. Eraqus explained it to me." Kirito said. "Eraqus?" Donald parroted. "The knight from my dreams. Eraqus is his name. He said that this is place is going to mess with our memories. I guess it started with me. One of my memories was swapped with his. I don't know what it was, but it hurt. A lot." Kirito said. "To find is to lose, and to lose is to find. So we lose our old memories and find new ones?" Asuna said. "I think you just hit the nail on the head Asuna." Kirito said. "Well I know one thing. That guy in the coat is trouble. But maybe if we go to this card's world, we'll be able to beat him and get our memories back." Sora said. "That's the first thing I've heard that makes sense today. Let's go." Kirito said.

Sora held the card out towards the door. The card sparked with light and the door opened revealing a veil of light. When Sora passed through the light he found himself in a familiar place. The brick houses, cobblestone ground and dim orange lamp posts lighting the starry sky. "Wait, this can't be right. We're in Traverse Town!" Sora exclaimed. "What you see isn't real." a voice spoke. The man in the black coat stood directly behind Sora. Sora turned to face him, but yet again the stranger vanished through a dark portal and reappeared behind Sora again. "This town is an illusion created by your memories ingrained in that card." The stranger said. "My memories?" Sora said as he turned to face him. Then Jiminy Cricket hopped out of his place in Sora's hood and onto the ground. "Forget about that Sora. We lost everybody!" Jiminy exclaimed. Sora turned around yet again and surveyed the area for his comrades, but no one was in sight. "Donald? Goofy? Kirito? Asuna? Strea? Yuuki? Guys! Where are you?" Sora called. "What did you do with them!?" Sora asked. "They are at the mercy of the cards now. Master the cards, and their strength will be yours again." The stranger said. Suddenly Sora found that his pocket was full of an assortment of cards. And a green card with Donald's face appeared and was bouncing on the ground.

"The laws of the castle require that your friends be transformed into cards. I f you value your friends, you won't fail to pick them up. Cards you pick up will be added to the top of your stack. Use them, and your friends will come to your aid." As the stranger had instructed, Sora went to pick up the bouncing card. When he neared it, the card flew into his pocket with the rest of his cards. Sora fished the friend card from his pocket and looked at Donald's frozen visage. "Well, here goes. Donald!" Sora called. Light sparked from the green card and Donald was summoned in a flash of light. The wizard waved his staff and cast fire and blizzard magic at the stranger. However, the stranger merely dodged the offensive magic. "The cards you use vanish, but they will reappear to aid you time and again. Cards are the hearts of your friends. Everything in this castle is ruled by cards. Whether an enemy or a door confronts you, cards are the only way to proceed. But you mustn't forget your own strength. Now come at me." The stranger said. Sora didn't need to be told twice. He ran towards the stranger and swung his keyblade at him. The stranger merely blocked each of his swings as if the keyblade were nothing more than a child's toy. "Each action you take uses up one of the cards in your deck. Without any cards, you can't do anything. However if you merely concentrate, the cards you used will return." The stranger explained. Just as he said, Sora was unable to attack without using a card. Seeing no alternative, Sora heeded the stranger's advice and concentrated on his deck. The cards he had used previously had returned to his pant pocket. "Good. You understand the fundamentals of combat in the castle." The stranger said.

After imparting his lesson, everyone else ran to Sora's side. "What happened to you guys?" Sora asked? "You tell us! When you opened the door, we saw a strange light. The rest is kind of a blank." Donald said. "Gee, that doesn't help. Try to remember what happened. I have to keep my journal up to date." Jiminy said. "Hey, Donald, Where'd we get the new clothes?" Goofy asked. Donald was now wearing a blue tunic with pockets to his left and right and a third in the middle. He also had a hat with a lot of zippers on it. Goofy was wearing a green turtle neck sweater, black vest, yellow pants, brown loafers, and a yellow hat with a pair of goggles. "The cards again?" Sora asked. "That is for you to ponder. Master the cards and make your way through the castle. But from here, you walk alone." The stranger said. "Alone!? We can't let Sora go alone!" Goofy said. "Yeah, Sora can't do anything without our help." Donald said. "Way to egg him on Donald." Asuna said sarcastically. "You want me go alone, Fine. I can take care of myself." Sora said. "Hmph, the hero speaks boldly. Go, then. The rest of Castle Oblivion awaits. Walk avenues of latent memory, and you shall meet someone dear to you." the stranger said. He then opened up another dark portal and vanished. "I've got a bad feeling about this." Jiminy said. "Welcome to the club." Kirito said. "Relax, guys. I'm ready for any tricks he has up his sleeves. How hard can it be to figure out these cards?" Sora said.

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Chapter 3 Reunion

Traverse town was exactly how Sora remembered it was. Everything from the Starry night sky to the candle dim orange lamp posts. Even the heartless were ones he was familiar with. However due to his new found reliance on cards and the fact that he had to fight the heartless alone meant he had to fight more carefully. Luckily the heartless also used cards for their attacks. When Sora used them right, he was able to counter their attacks. Still he missed having his friends to back him up. So whenever he saw a friend card hopping around, he always went out of his way to pick it up mid battle.

Since Sora had so many friends, he had a large variety of ways to fight off the heartless. Donald would cast a plethora of spells. Goofy had his tornado attack. Kirito would perform a similar move where he would let loose a single powerful spin with his two swords that knocked back any enemies in the radius. He called the attack double circular. Asuna unleashed a highspeed lunging attack with her Rapier. Yuuki dashed across the field slashing at enemies with her short sword using a skill called horizontal square. And last, but not least Strea used her great sword to deal massive damage to any nearby enemies with a single swing.

Though as great as having so many friends to rely on was, the friend cards themselves would only seldom appear so he wasn't able to use them as much as he would like.

After Sora cleared out the first district, he wandered towards the third district. Once there he thought back to the battles he had up to this point and realized that fighting alone was much more difficult than he thought it would be. He began to feel lonely without his friends to talk to and as if in response to his loneliness, six lights descended from the sky. Each light carried a card containing one of Sora's friends. Upon reaching the ground, the cards materialized and each of them stood behind Sora much to his surprise. "Hey, don't pop out of nowhere like that!" Sora exclaimed. "It's not our fault! We don't know what's going on!" Donald said. "Hey isn't that the dog we found carrying Mickey's letter?" Kirito asked while pointing ahead of them. Sora looked behind him and saw a yellow furred canine wagging his long wiry black tail back and forth. "things just keep getting weirder. What's Pluto doing here?" Donald asked. "There's nothing strange about that. We came to Traverse town with Pluto, didn't we? Goofy said. "Did we?" Donald asked.

Jiminy hopped out of his cozy spot in the hood of Sora's jacket. "No, wait! According to my journal, it was before you met Sora, Kirito, and Asuna that you came to town with Pluto!" Jiminy said. "Wak! He's right!" Donald exclaimed. "So that means that this Pluto is the one from our memories?" Asuna said. "Nice catch with the journal Jiminy. Be sure to keep updating it. I feel like it's going to come in handy the further we go into this castle." Kirito said. "but aren't we in Traverse town?" Goofy asked. "No, we're in castle oblivion. That card we got is what created this place." Kirito said. "Aaghh! Who cares about all that? It's too confusing! I don't know where we are, but let's just keep moving forward defeating heartless! We'll get somewhere!" Sora Said.

"You'd better be careful, or it's the heartless that are going to defeat you." Sora turned around to see who had spoken up and to his surprise he saw a familiar man with long brown hair and a scar that ran across his face. "Leon, it's you! What are you doing in Castle Oblivion?" Sora asked. Leon gave a puzzled look at his question. "Castle Oblivion? What are you talking about? This is Traverse Town. And how do you know my name? Who are you?" Leon asked to Sora's complete shock. "I've never met any of you before." Leon said. "Quit playing, Leon! We all fought the heartless together! You know that!" Sora exclaimed. "Look I don't know what you're talking about. I don't even know your names." Leon said. "You don't remember us?" Asuna asked. Leon turned his back to us "…Sorry." He replied. "I can't believe it. How can you have forgotten about us?" Sora asked. "I feel for you, but you've got the wrong guy. Happens all the time. Don't take it so personally Sora." Leon said. Kirito and Asuna shared a look after hearing him say Sora's name. "Leon, we didn't tell you our names." Kirito said. Leon's eyes widened in surprise when he realized he did in fact know Sora's despite not having been introduced.

"Now, now hold on! Why do I know your name?" Leon said turning back to face us. "Do you think he's kidding around?" Goofy asked. "If he is, it's not funny. Sora's really upset." Donald replied. "Who's kidding around, Goofy? You and Donald are the ones who—" Leon caught himself midsentence when he realized he also suddenly knew Donald and Goofy's names as well. He pinched his brow in complete confusion. "I don't get it… Something's wrong with my memory. What's happening here?" Leon wondered aloud. "I dunno, Leon. Maybe Aerith was onto something after all." Another voice spoke this time coming from a girl with short black hair with a head band and yellow scarf around her neck. "She said she sensed some uncanny kind of power. And asked us to look into it. Well, this is as uncanny as it gets. Maybe you should take Sora to see Aerith." She said. "Yuffie, you know my name!" Sora said. "Yep! Looks like you know mine, too." Yuffie said. "You know him?" Leon asked. "Nope! Total stranger. But I do know his name. Strange, yes, but convenient! We can skip introductions." Yuffie's laissez-faire attitude caused Leon to pinch his brow in annoyance. "how is it that you can accept this situation so easily? I don't get you…" Leon said. "Well, I'm gonna run aged and fill Aerith in. Leon, you give them the Grand tour. See ya later!" Yuffie said.

"I guess there's no use pondering over it. I'll show you around town, but there are heartless in town. I'll show you how to protect yourselves." Leon said. "But I already know how to use the cards. What else is there to know?" Sora asked. "There's using cards and then then there's playing them. Now watch and learn." Leon said. He pulled out three magic cards from his pocket. "Just using cards one by one can only get you so far. If you use them together in what's called a sleight, you can use much more powerful attacks. Firaga!" he shouted and the cards produced a third tier fire spell that shot towards Sora who promptly blocked the incoming fire ball with his keyblade. "Now you try." Leon said. Sora did as he was told and grabbed 3 cards from his deck. He concentrated on the attack cards he had chosen and felt a surge of power flow through his body. The cards vanished and then Sora hurled his keyblade at Leon performing his strike raid skill. However Leon simply batted it away with his gun blade. "how'd you do that?" Sora asked.

"Do you see the numbers in the bottom right corner of your cards? Each card has a number ranging from zero to nine. The higher the card's number, the more damage it does and the harder it is to break. That's another reason why sleight are so powerful. A sleight adds the total amount of the cards used in it's attack. However, Zero cards are special. They have the ability to break a card or sleight no matter how high the opposing number is. But it's a double edged sword. Just like it can break any card, any card can break a Zero. You have to use them carefully. One more thing, the first card used in your sleight vanishes from your deck after it's used. Don't worry, it's not gone forever. It will reappear after the end of battle." Leon explained. "Wow, this card stuff is a lot more complicated than I thought. Anything else I should know?" Sora asked. "Sleight can allow you to perform attacks you might not even know you were capable of. Try mixing different cards together when you use sleights. The result may turn the tide in your favor." Leon said. "Got it." Sora said.

After Leon's lesson, he gave Sora another magic card that depicted Simba in the art work. It worked similarly to summon magic in that it Summoned the red Maine lion to fight at Sora's side when he called on him. We followed Leon through town and Arrived at the small house he and his group shared. It was here that they met with Aerith. "I don't know whether to say nice to meet you or good to see you again. I don't think I know you, but I feel like you belong here." Aerith said. "Yeah, exactly! Like we've never met, but it still doesn't feel weird knowing your names." Yuffie agreed. "But I'm telling you, we HAVE met. We took on the heartless together. We were a team!" Sora said. "It feels like you're right… But I can't remember." Leon said. "Then I guess you won't remember what you told us at Hollow bastion. 'We may never again…'"Sora lead "…but we'll never forget each other" Leon finished. "See, you do remember!" Sora said. "He's right Leon. I remember you saying that too." Yuffie replied. "I guess I can't right it off as a coincidence, then. I don't have any memory of it, but somehow I still remember. I think your heart is doing the remembering for us.

"Leon said. "my heart?" Sora asked. "We don't know you Sora but your heart is full of memories of us together. Those memories must resonate in our hearts, too. Maybe they tell us things we wouldn't otherwise know." Aerith hypothesized. "So you're saying that Sora's memories are affecting ours?" Leon asked. "They do seem to have a certain power." Aerith said. "maybe it's like that guy said. This town is just an illusion created from my memories." Sora Said. "And there's someone special to you in this town." Aerith replied. "How did you—Ah, I get it. My memories are resonating with yours, telling you what happened. Yeah. A friend of mine is somewhere in traverse town- I mean Castle Oblivion." Sora said. "Castle Oblivion? What's that? There aren't any castles around here." Yuffie said. "That's not quite what I mean. Sora said. "You're still no sure about what's going on yourself right?" Aerith Said. "Right. We just got here, after all. I want to take a better look around." Sora replied. "Then go have a look around town. There are Heartless, but that's no problem for you." Leon said. Sora placed his hands behind his head and grinned "So you know I can fight." he said "I can't say I know, but I feel like believing you. let's leave it at that." Leon said.

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Chapter 4 Beware of your Memories

Our heroes went to the second district of Traverse town where they Came across Cid. Like Leon and the others Cid Remembered us despite not knowing who we were. Sora asked him if he had seen his friend Riku, "Your friend huh? Lately all this town sees is heartless. Can't even take two steps without gettin' attacked. In fact, this plaza's the worst. Word is, a jumbo sized heartless shows up when that bell rings." Cid said. The bell he was referring to was the bell in the clock atop the gizmo shop. "if you value your hide, you'll get out a here while the gettin's good." Cid warned us before walking off. "Gawrsh, maybe we should leave." Goofy said. "Aw, but I wanna see the heartless." Yuuki said. "Why the heck would you want to see the Heartless?!" Donald asked. "I think I can answer that." Jiminy stated while hopping on Sora's shoulder. "This world is where our journey began. It wasn't until later in our journey that Yuuki joined us. And if my hunch is right, the big heartless Cid mentioned is the one that brought us all together as a team." Jiminy said. "Yeah. It's like we're starting our journey all over again. Only this time, we're all together." Yuuki Said. "When you put it like that, I guess there is a bright side to this ordeal." Asuna said. "Yeah, you're right. Let's start over from the very beginning!" Sora said while holding his hand out. "I'm in." Kirito said. Placing his hand atop Sora's. "Me too." Asuna said while placing her hand atop Kirito's. The others briefly followed placing their hands atop one another in the circle.

The bell rang shortly after and from the sky came pieces of a large armor like heartless. The torso floated above the two legs and the arms flew to it's left and right followed by the head which fell on top of the torso with a loud clang. The battle started with Sora attacking the Guard armor's legs. As soon as one of the legs was destroyed, a green card came hopping out of it. Sora grabbed the card expecting it to be one of his friends, but was surprised to see the emblem of King Mickey. "What the? This isn't a friend card. What does it do?" Sora wandered Aloud. When he looked closer he saw that the card's number was Zero. Remembering what Leon taught him, Sora waited until the heartless attacked to use the unknown card.

A light shined from it and the armor's body shook like a rattle before collapsing motionless on the ground. Seizing the opportunity, Sora attacked each of the armor's limbs until they were destroyed obtaining more friend cards. However the stun effect was short lived. The guard armor floated back up an recommended its assault. Remembering what Leon said about Mixing different cards for sleights, Sora grabbed Kirito's friend card and 2 attack cards. Once kirito was summoned, Sora threw his keyblade at the guard armor's head knocking it off. Kirito tossed his other sword to Sora and the two of them ran towards the heartless dealing the finishing blow with a combined attack on its torso. Once the heartless was defeated, a black card fell from the sky depicting the guard armor heartless. Which Sira placed in his pocket with the rest of his cards.

Once the battle was over, Leon and the others came to thank us for defeating the heartless. They even offered to help us look around town for Sora's missing friend. "Sorry guys. I don't think I'll find him in this town. But he's somewhere in this castle. I just know it." Sora said. "Castle? Like this whole town's inside some humongous castle? Hoo, that's rich!" Cid laughed. "He's probably right Cid. We might not understand what's going on, but Sora does. Sora can see that reality is bigger than just this world." Leon said. "I wish I was that sure." Sora replied. "You'll be okay, Sora. No matter what shape reality takes, you can handle it. I may not remember you, but I know you in my heart." Leon said. "Leon..." Sora said. "Take care." Yuffie said. "I'm a little lost... but best of luck anyway." Cid bade farewell. the two groups left the second district, however Sora and Aerith remained. "I don't have all the answers, but I had to tell you something. Your memories created this town, right?" Aerith asked. "That's what the guy who gave me th card said." Sora replied.

"If that's true, then tis town is just a figment if your mind... and so are we." Aerith said. "But...you can't be a figment! You're standing right here. This town is here too!" Sora argued. "But I'm not really me. I don't know the things I should. And I sense things I shouldn't. Sora, beware your memories. In the journey to come, you'll be faced with more illusions. Sometimes the shadows of your memory will deceive you. Try to lead you astray." Aerith said. "So... what does that mean?" Sora asked. "I'm sorry. I'm just another illusion. the truth is out of my reach." Aerith said. "Don't say stuff like that. It's depressing..." Sora said. "Stay strong Sora. don't let the illusions distract you from what's truly important." Aerith said. "Will do." Sora replied. "Sora!" Donald called. Sora turned to see the rest of his party waiting for him in the alley. "Are you ready to go?" Goofy asked. "Yeah, be right there." sora replied. "Well, I'd better get going." however when Sora turned, Aerith had vanished "Aerith?" Sora said "Aerith!" he repeated while searching for her. "What about Aerith?" Strea asked. "Where did she go? I was just talking to her!" Sora said. The others shared a look of confusion and concern. "Aerith left with Leon and the others, remember?" Asuna said. "HUH?!" Sora gasped "You worried us. Just standing there by yourself." Yuuki said. "Is this what she meant?" Sora wondered aloud.

we opened the door connecting the third and second district of traverse town. However instead of the third district, we found a wall of light similar to the one in castle oblivion that lead us here. once we went through, we were back in the marble white halls of Castle Oblivion. and awaiting us was the stranger in the black coat. "Well, Sora. did you enjoy meeting your memories?" he asked. "Yeah, it was good tp see everyone, but what do you really want from me?" Sora asked. "What do you have to give?" the stranger replied. the man in black started to approach us which prompted everyone to call out their weapons. However the man stopped when another dark portal opened up. from it another man dressed in the same black coat. however unlike the one before us, the newcomer's hood was lowered exposing his shoulder length spiky red hair, green eyes, and reversed tear marks below his eyes.

"Hello!" he greeted. "What do you want?" the first stranger asked. "No hoggin' the hero!" the new comer complained. the stranger let slip another card from his sleeve and tossed it at the red haired man like a dagger. He caught it with in his hand and gave a large grin. "Perhaps you'd like to test him?" the stranger asked sarcastically before opening up his own dark portal. "Perhaps I would." the red haired man replied. "My show now Keyblade master! Who am I? My name's Axel. Got it memorized?" Axel said while poking his index finger toward his head. "Uh, sure." Sora said. "Good! you're a quick learner. So, Sora, now that we're getting to know each other better..." Axel raised his hands above his head before spreading them out calling wheels of fire in his hands. the flames quickly dissipated and from them came two chakrams. the red and silver disc like weapons had eight spikes along the rim. the top, bottom, left, and right spikes were attached to a circle that intersected with the rim connected to the weapons cross shaped handle which was clad in a black leather. "Don't you go off and die on me now!" Axel said.

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Chapter 5: Sora vs Axel

The fight started with a blinding flash of light that transported Both Sora and Axel to a circular space that transported them to a circular arena like space that appeared to be separate from the castle. "What is this Place?" Sora asked. "Like it? It's a special space made for battles in the castle. Can't go wrecking the place just because a few intruders show up. But enough chitchat. The fun's just about to start. Now, Burn Baby!"

Axel Threw his chakrams at Sora who promptly rolled away to dodge the spiked fiery discs. Throughout the fight Axel would teleport leaving behind a puff of fire and reappear to where his weapons were thrown to catch them. However, Axel wasn't solely a ranged fighter. With a firm grasp on the cross shaped handles of each chakram, Axel Teleported and reappeared behind Sora to let loose a chain of close-range attacks. But once Axel had switched to close quarters combat, he left himself open to a counter attack. Sora let loose his own chain of attacks, but Axel was able to teleport afterwards and recommence his own attacks.

Sora's strategy was to avoid Axel's attacks whenever possible and build up a small stockpile of friend cards. Once that was done Sora was ready to attack in full force. "Donald!" the blue clad duck wizard cast a blizzard spell which seemed to be especially effective against the fiery assassin. Followed by a cure spell healing Sora of his wounds. "Goofy!" Instead of his usual tornado attack, Goofy used his shield to knock Axel in the air with a powerful uppercut which was followed up by sora leaping into the air and sending Axel flying up higher with a strike from his keyblade, and finally with Goofy meeting Axel at the apex of the launch and smacking back towards the ground with a shield bash.

Axel chuckled as he stood up from his prone position. "Not bad kid. But I've still got a trick or two up my sleeve." Axel out stretched his long arms to either side of his body and his Chakrams began to spin becoming engulfed in fire. "Let the flames burn you. Firewall!" Axel became surrounded by a pillar of flame that quickly expanded its radius creating an all-encompassing wave of fire. Sora braced for the attack, but even so it did a significant amount of damage.

'This is bad. One more attack like that and I'm finished.' Axel once again hurled his chakrams at Sora prompting him to dodge again. 'that attack was definitely stronger than his other ones. So, it's probably a sleight. I'll have to counter with another one and hope that the numbers are higher.' Axel once again prepared to unleash his firewall attack and Sora was prepared to risk it all on this next set of cards.

"Kirito!" in a flash of light, the black swordsman Kirito had appeared with keyblade in hand poised and ready to strike. Kirito began to charge energy into his keyblade and when the wall of flames approached, it was dispersed by a single thrust of his blade "Vorpal Strike!" the attack let loose a highly concentrated beam of light that was heading straight toward Axel. "Aw, man give me a break." the light beam connected and in the wake of its blinding brilliance Axel had vanished. A blue card picturing a ball of fire in its artwork descended in front of Sora who promptly pocketed it with the rest of his now growing collection.

Sora and company were transported back to the floor they had arrived at prior to their battle against Axel. Another set of cards was floating in front of them enveloped in a golden light. Sora claimed the cards from the air. "More cards? What do they do?" Goofy asked. "They look like the card you used to make Traverse Town." Jiminy noted. "Then I guess we'll need them to keep going." Sora said. "That's right." a voice called out. We looked to see Axel casually standing against the wall with his arms crossed and a mischievous grin on his face. "Axel!" Donald cried. "You survived that?" Kirito asked. Axel then began to walk towards us.

"Did you really think after that introduction that I would give up oh so easily?" he said rhetorically. "So, you were testing us." Asuna answered. "And you passed. Congratulations Sora. You're ready now—ready to take on Castle Oblivion. You will need to follow your memories. Trust what you remember and seek what you forget. Then you will find someone very special. Axel said. "you mean like King Mickey and Riku?" Goofy asked. "Heh. You will just have to give some more thought to who it is that's most important to you. Our most precious memories lie so deep within our hearts that they're out of reach. But I'm sure that you can find yours Sora." Axel explained. "Why me?" Sora asked. "You have lost sight of the light within the darkness. And it seems that you've forgotten that you forgot." Axel said. "The light within darkness..." Was Axel, right? With his memories in their current state, could he have truly forgotten something so important? Axel held out his hand towards Sora in a beckoning manner. "Would you like me to give you a hint?" he asked. "Sora - do ya need it?" goofy asked with a concerned tone. Sora was internally struggling with himself trying to find the right answer. With a situation as desperate as this could he really afford to turn down Axel's offer? And what would his friends think? Sora turned to look at Kirito, Asuna, Yuuki, and Strea. He had expected them to be as equally confused by all of this as he was and yet when he saw the looks on their faces, they were all smiling. He could feel a sense of confidence and faith from each of them. As if they were saying that no matter what, they would trust that he would do what was right. he had found his answer. "I'll figure it out myself. And if you're in my way-" sora said. And so, each of them drew their weapons once more. "Then we'll clear the path." Kirito finished. "Hmph. Good answer. Just what I'd expect from the keyblade masters." They tightened their grips on each of their weapons ready to strike if another fight broke out. "But be forewarned...When your sleeping memories awaken, you may no longer be who you are now." Axel then conjured a black portal like the stranger before him and it swallowed him up as he teleported away.

Our heroes progressed to the next floor of the castle. Jiminy Cricket was sitting comfortably in Sora's hood and hummed deep in thought. "What's Wrong Jiminy?" Sora asked. "Well, ya see, what Axel said back there worries me. What could he have meant by 'You may no longer be who you are'?" he pondered. "I may no longer be me? How could I be anyone else?" Sora replied. Jiminy gave a good nature chuckle at Sora's simplistic answer. "Of course. Still, ya can't be too careful." he said. "Yep, feels like just about anything can happen here in castle Oblivi-Oblivi-Oblivi-" Goofy fumbled "Castle Oblivion." Donald corrected. "Yeah that's it." Goofy said. "Don't worry. Whatever happens we can handle it together." Asuna said. "Yeah. Just like when we were at that other weird castle with all of those magical doohickies." Yuuki replied. "Um, when was that?" Sora asked. Strea pressed her index finger against her chin trying to recall the memory. "I can't remember. What was that place called?" She asked. "Gawrsh, oh it was, uh... Holla...Holly...Holler..." Goofy struggled to remember. "Hollow Bastion." Kirito replied. Everyone turned towards Kirito. "I could never forget that place. It's where we sent Yui after we went to fight Ansem. Among other things." Asuna gasped and covered her mouth with both of her hands. Her eyes widened in shock that she had forgotten such an important fact. How could she forget the place where she and Kirito had left their own child? "That's right. We sent her off all alone. We left her there so that Leon and the others could take care of her. How could I forget that? And more importantly, how come you're the only one of us that remembers? Kirito... what's going on?" Asuna asked.

Meanwhile, in another room of the castle, Axel along with the mysterious stranger that had guided our heroes to the castle and one other observed them through a crystal ball. "Well now, this is an interesting development." Axel said. "Interesting my foot, he has to be cheating somehow." the other stranger in the room, a blonde-haired woman with green eyes dressed in the same black coat as Axel and the other was. Seemed to be quite perturbed. "Calm yourself Larxene. They are only on the first floor. However, it is troublesome. His memory retention poses an issue to our security. If it continues, we may need to isolate him to the basement floors." the stranger said. Larxene grew a wicked grin across her face as an idea came to her. "Did you here that sweetie? If you don't get to making him like the rest of his little friends, they're gonna be very upset. You wouldn't to worry your precious hero, now would you?" Larxene taunted. The girl in the white dress stiffened. Her sketch pad shook like a leaf in her hands as the thought played out in her head. "Y-yes. I'll try harder next time." she stuttered. 'Sora, Kirito, please be strong.' and so she began creating more drawings.

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Author's note: I'm not sure if this will sound ideal to all of you, but in the interest of streamlining this story I've decided to take the manga's approach and focus on the castle oblivion parts since those are the most interesting. However, I'm usually a middle of the road type of person so there will be segments for each floor giving brief summaries of the events that happened between the story bits. Now onto the chapter.



Chapter 6 Lost memories

On the second floor of Castle oblivion, our heroes entered the door to the world of Wonderland. There they met a young girl named Alice who stood trial for stealing the Queen of Hearts' memories. The murderous monarch found Alice guilty and ordered her card soldiers to behead her. Sora company defeated them and obtained a black card in their likeness. After they escaped, the mysterious Chesire Cat guided them to the upside-down room where they encountered a jester like heartless juggling fiery pins with its paper-thin arms. After defeating it and obtaining yet another black card, they were quickly set upon by the Queen of hearts and her subordinates. However, with a clever bit of trickery Alice convinced the queen that the heartless were the ones that stole her memories and that the queen had tasked them with defeating it. With her charges cleared Our heroes parted ways with Alice and advanced to the next floor.

"I'm glad everything worked out for Alice. Although I'm wondering if she'll be alright with that queen of hearts running things?" Yuuki said. "It should be fine. Remember, the people we meet in the card worlds are our memories of the real ones." Asuna said. "So, does that mean the things that happened in there are how it actually happened?" Strea asked. At that point, Jiminy hopped out of Sora's hood holding his journal. "As it happens, I just finished writing the first volume of our journey in this journal. Now let's see..." he opened the book to the entries regarding wonderland knowing where they were by heart. Only to find the entire section blank. "Oh! How could it be!?" he skimmed through every page of the journal only to find that the journal had been erased in its entirety. "All of my entries... They're gone. Every page is blank!" He cried. "This is bad. Without the journal how can we trust that the memories in the card worlds are real?" Asuna asked. "How could this have happened? I'm so careful with the Journals..." Jiminy hugged the book tight to his little chest and sobbed. "All that hard work is gone..."

"Maybe not." Kirito said. Jiminy's breath hitched at those words he looked on wide eyed at the black swordsman, desperate for any small glimmer of hope. "When our Journey began, I had Yui create a digital copy of your journal on my laptop. I left it with her long before we even came to this castle. So, there's a good chance that it was unaffected. In fact, I'm certain of it. Jiminy, all of your hard work still exists." Kirito explained. Jiminy began wiping away the tears from his face. He was still crying, but now they were tears of relief. "Thank you, Kirito. You're my hero. If your coat had a hood, I'd move right in." Jiminy said. "I have coat pockets ya know." Kirito replied.

On the third floor our heroes entered the world of Olympus. There they entered the famous Olympic games and competed against the mighty Hercules and a mysterious mercenary named Cloud. The contest was a race to the finish where participants were allowed to interfere with one another even to the point of engaging in combat. Half way through, our heroes came across Cloud who offered to let them gain the lead. When Sora asked why Cloud revealed that he was waiting so that he could kill Hercules. Sora attempted fought against Cloud in order to prevent him from committing the heinous deed, and while he did manage to defeat Cloud, the mercenary escaped. Eventually they found Cloud again looking very worn down from fighting Hercules so soon after his bout with Sora. Then Hades, the god of the underworld stepped in revealing that cloud had made a deal with him to eliminate Hercules in exchange for restoring his memories. However, Hades was disappointed by clouds efforts and terminated the agreement. With Hercules in his worn-down state, Hades attempted to finish the deed himself only to be defeated by Sora. Due to Hades interference the contestants were too exhausted to continue and so the games were canceled. As thanks for defeating Hades Cloud gave them a summon card that would allow Sora to call him in battle.

Meanwhile, Axel and Larxene were observing their progress from the observatory. "You seem intrigued by this Sora kid." Larxene stated. "Are you telling me you're not, Larexene? Or maybe Kirito has caught your eye?" Axel remarked. The woman gave a snide giggle at the insinuation. "Haven't decided yet. I think what intrigues me more is what you see in them?" she asked. "There was a time that Sora became a Heartless. And if one becomes a Heartless-"

"They lose their minds and their feelings...They're consumed by the darkness." Larxene finished. "Right. But not Sora. He held onto his feelings, even as a Heartless. And there's only one other man who's been able to do just that." Axel explained. "It's the strength of his heart... That's what interests you. Why the Keyblade chose Sora's heart. And since Kirito has one as well, you're just as interested in him." Larxene concluded. "To unlock the mysteries of the heart. Isn't that the Organization's mission?" Axel said.

Back to the stairway for the fourth floor. Our heroes were going over what they were still able to remember. "Is there anything we've forgotten?" Donald asked. "Hmm... if we did, what would it have been?" Goofy asked. Everyone took a moment to think and search thorugh their memories to see if anything was missing. "I can't think of anything. So maybe I really am losing my memories. But whatever they were, they couldn't have been very important memories, right?" goofy lamented. "Right, or else I don't think you would have forgotten it." Sora said. Then he dug through his pocket pulling out a star shaped charm made from bright pink seashells with his face drawn on one of the shells. "What's that?" Donald asked. "It's a good luck charm that Kairi gave me. It's special to her, So I promised that I would return it." Sora then held the charm close to where his heart would be. "I'll never forget making that promise. It's why I could never forget Kairi." Sora said. However just as he said those words something began poking into his consciousness. For a brief moment he seemed to recall a blonde-haired girl wearing a white sundress and sky-blue sandals that appeared to be just about the same age as him. The image was nagging away at him as he struggled to remember who that person was.

"What about you Kirito? Are Master Eraqus's memories giving you any trouble with your own?" Asuna asked. "No, and honestly that's the strangest part. I keep remembering things from our journey that you all seem to forget. And at the same time, I keep getting flashes of Eraqus's memories. It's like I'm skipping the losing part and I just keep finding things." Kirito said. "Maybe... do you think that his memories are protecting yours?" Sora asked. "But how would that work?" Strea asked. "Have you tried asking him?" Yuuki followed. "No such luck. For some reason he seems to be giving me the silent treatment... Well, I guess there's no use dwelling on it right now. Let's head to the next floor." Kirito said.

On the fourth floor our heroes entered the desert city of Agrabah. There they met a man named Aladdin along with one of their other friends Philia, who were surrounded by Heartless. They immediately went to their rescue, However even with their aid, the Heartless kept coming. So, Aladdin was forced to use his secret weapon. A magic lamp containing a hyperactive and super flamboyant entity known as the Genie. With a snap of his fingers the Genie instantly made all of the heartless disappear. However, this was not without cost. The Genie only 3 wishes per user and Aladdin just used one. Along the way to the palace, Aladdin explained that he sought out the lamp at the behest of the royal vizier, Jafar. However now that it was in his possession, he planned on using it to become a prince so that he could see Princess Jasmine whenever he desired. When asked about his third wish, Aladdin asked what the genie wanted. The genie was a prisoner of the lamp for thousands of years and what he wanted more than anything else, was freedom. And much to the genie's excitement, Aladdin agreed to use his third wish to free the genie from his imprisonment.

But, before they could reach the palace, they stumbled across the unconscious Jasmine in an alleyway being attacked be the heartless. However, Jasmine and the heartless were too far away and they would not be able to reach her in time, so Aladdin had no choice but to use his second wish to deal with the heartless once more. They were given only a moment to check Jasmine's condition before they were once again set upon by more heartless. Rather than use his last wish, Sora insisted that they save it and take care of the heartless themselves. However, during the struggle the lamp had been stolen by Jafar's parrot Iago. With the genie at his beck and call, Jafar used his first wish to force the genie to bring Jasmine to his side and escape to the palace. Down, but not out, our heroes went to the palace to rescue Jasmine and the genie from Jafar's clutches. Jafar foolishly used his second wish to have the genie assault Aladdin. Left with no alternative, Jafar used his last wish to turn himself into a genie in a desperation to seize all of his desires. But in doing so he had unwittingly bound himself to the genie's rules and became sealed in a prison of his own making. With Jasmine safe and Jafar out of the way, Aladdin upheld his promise and used his last wish to free the Genie. Grateful for all they had done, the Philia and the Genie gifted them with summon cards that would Sora to call upon them when needed.

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Chapter 7 The girl in white

As our heroes made their way to the fifth floor of the castle, Sora was lagging behind the group trying to recall the mysterious blonde-haired girl from his memories. "Who could that have been before in my memory? It wasn't Kairi... but another...girl? Maybe... I think her name was..." His pondering was cut short however by an angry Donald. "Sora! Let's go! You want to find Riku and the king, don't you?" He ranted. "Um sure... Aw, man. It was right on the tip of my tongue." sora relented as he went to catch up with the rest of the group. Meanwhile in another part of the castle, the blonde girl was once again drawing on her sketch pad. This particular sketch depicted a group of four people. In order they were Sora, Kairi, the blonde girl herself, and Riku. They were all holding hands and smiling.

Our heroes had arrived at the fifth-floor lobby and were about to enter the door to the card worlds again when they were interrupted by Sora. "I remember! There was another girl!" he exclaimed. "What? A girl? Where?" Goofy questioned as he and Donald looked around the lobby. "No, no, I mean on the islands where I used to live. Besides Kairi and Riku, there was one other girl I was friends with. The four of us used to play together all the time." he said. "Sora, you've never mentioned another girl before now." Asuna said. "Yeah... i guess I just kind of forgot about her. I think... she just suddenly went away when I was really little." Sora said. "How come you're remembering this now?" Strea asked. "I'm not sure, but it's been coming back in pieces as we go through the castle." Sora explained. "Do you remember her name?" Kirito asked. "No... I feel kinda dumb. We said we weren't gonna forget our friends, and well now... I can't even remember her name." he said looking very downcast. Then he felt something soft being smooshed against his head. He looked up to see that Strea was hugging him close to her chest. "It's alright Sora. What matters is that you are remembering her. Even if it's just bit by bit, you'll remember everything about her eventually. And like you said, you were young. She'll forgive you if you just explain things to her. Do you understand?" Strea said. "I think so. Thanks, Strea. I needed that." Sora replied. "Good. Now hold still you cute little ragamuffin. Because I'm not done hugging yet." Strea said while squeezing sora into one of her infamous bear hugs. "AHG! Too tight! Too tight!" Sora exclaimed.

On the fifth floor of castle oblivion, our heroes entered the world of Halloween town. There, they met a tuxedo wearing skeleton by the name of Jack Skellington. Jack loved nothing more than giving a good scare on Halloween, but the Heartless were causing so much trouble that people weren't leaving their homes. Sora agreed to help Jack get rid of the heartless and so they set off to Dr. Finklestein's lab for possible leads. It turned out that the doctor had concocted a potion designed to recall a person's true memories, but before he could examine it, the heartless were seemingly drawn to the potion and attacked. After the scuffle, the doctor found that the potion was missing and concluded that it was stolen by his daughter Sally. Jack and Sora went to the cemetery in order to locate Sally and get the potion back. When they found Sally, the zombie ragdoll girl said that she took the potion because she thought it was too dangerous for consumption. But before she could return it A fat bag of bugs by the name of Oogie Boogie attacked Sally and stole the potion for himself. Jack and Sora followed Oogie to his lair, but were unable to stop him from drinking the potion. Immediately afterwards Oogie became extremely frightened and activated his defenses to deal with the intruders. However, they were no match For Sora and so he was quickly defeated. They returned with the vial and the few drops of the potion it had left, but when Sora was offered the remains, he refused due to the promise he made with Axel to find his hidden memories himself. With Oogie and the Heartless taken care of, our heroes left Halloween town and went to the next floor.

As they made their way to the stairway to the sixth floor Asuna asked if Sora remembered anything else about the other girl from his memories. "It's still just bits and pieces." Sora replied. "Maybe you could try telling us what you remember. If you talk about her then there's a chance you can remember more." Strea said. "Well, uh... she was quiet... and always drawing. When we went to the beach, she would always draw a picture instead of swimming. Sometimes she'd draw us, too! She was really good." Sora laughed "I remember Riku and I would fight over who she'd draw next. But one day, she was gone, just like that. I think the grown-ups knew the reason. They might have even tried to explain some of it to me. But I was little. I probably didn't understand what was happening. I remember crying after she was gone... but that's all. I still don't remember her name." Sora recounted. Strea Gently placed a hand on Sora's shoulder. "That was very good Sora. With that many memories coming back, I'm sure you'll remember her name very soon." she assured. "Strea seems to know a lot about these kinds of things A-hyuck." Goofy said. "She should. Just like Yui, she used to be a mental health counseling program back in SAO. She was designed to help people cope with mental stress." Asuna said. "Speaking of mental stress, how are you holding up Kirito? Any luck reaching Master Eraqus?" Yuuki asked. "Still nothing. It's honestly kinda worrying. There are times when I look at Sora and I see someone else. It's weird. Sora's getting memories that he can clearly understand, but I just keep getting flashes that I can't understand. It's frustrating. And I still have a very bad feeling about all of this." Kirito said.

Meanwhile in the castle observatory, the organization was observing them through their crystal ball. "Sora's coming along just as we intended." Larxene said. "But that Kirito is a sharp one. He and that master they keep talking about may just be our undoing." Axel replied. "Oh please. With our plan Sora will in the palm of our hands in no time. Now, you had your fun on the first floor. It's my turn to play." Larxene said. In the blink of an eye, Axel threw another world card like a dagger at the blonde woman who caught it in her hand. She gave the card a quick peck from her lips and gave another snide giggle. She walked up to Axel and caressed his jawline with her off hand. "I'm not going to just give it to him." she said. "Don't break him..." Axel replied. "Well... do I detect a soft spot?" she asked before walking off. "I'm not gonna break the toy. I'm not dumb." she snarked. "Don't forget, Sora is the key. We need him if we're going to take over the organization." Just as he finished his sentence, Larxene placed her index finger on Axel's upper lip to and gave him a sharp look to silence him. "I know you're in on it too... But, keep it under your hood at least until the time is right." and with that Larxene waved good bye as she warped to await Sora on the next floor. "Hm. You would have been wise to have done the same, Larxene." Axel remarked.

On the sixth floor of castle oblivion, our heroes entered the insides of a giant whale called Monstro. There, they met a walking, talking, puppet named Pinocchio and his father Geppetto. Pinocchio was trying to find a way for he and his father to escape the belly of the whale. However, his impulsiveness leads him to wondering off on his own and being captured by a parasitic cage like heartless that fed on the whale's gastric acid. Luckily the ensuing battle resulted in upsetting Monstro's innards to the point where it sneezed them out through its blowhole. With their successful escape, our heroes moved to the next floor.

When our heroes arrived at the stairway to the seventh floor, they found a blonde woman with an hourglass figure and slicked back hair and two long strands styled into an antenna like appearance. Her eyes were a cyan color and she had a very mischievous grin. Sora and company immediately drew their weapons readying themselves for a fight. "I bet you work with Axel!" Donald declared. "Too clever. I'm Larxene. So... are you enjoying your stay at the castle? I bet it's nice to peel away all the worthless memories and awaken the true memories that lie deep in your heart." she said. Then she placed a hand on her forehead, seemingly in annoyance. "Although... it seems that you're still forgetting the most important thing here. When that poor girl hears that you've forgotten her name, why...it'll just break her heart." she mocked. "Poor girl? Do you know her?!" Sora asked only to receive a snide chuckle from Larxene. "Is she... Here?" he asked. The snarky blonde then began wagging her finger at him. "Yes, she is." she said while annunciating each syllable. "You see, the bad guys are holding her captive somewhere deep inside the castle. And you obviously are the hero, so you have to go save her." she mocked. "Although..." Larxene rushed at Sora within the blink of an eye striking at his ribs and head. While Sora narrowly dodged her attacks, her initial strikes were simply a feint for her to deliver a vicious kick to his chest. The attack hit Sora with enough force to dislodge the charm being held in his pocket and flip him through the air so that he'd fall flat on his chest. "I'M a bad guy, so you have to go through me!" she said.

"Sora!" Goofy cried. Sora was distracted from the pain in his chest by the charm that had fallen out of his pocket. The yellow star shaped charm was completely foreign to him. "What's that? Is that thing mine?" he wondered aloud. "What a shame!" Larxene gasped "you've been wearing it all this time and forgot? No... that's not possible. The memory has to be engraved somewhere deep inside your heart." she said. "That's enough out of you!" Asuna shouted as she lunged at Larxene with her rapier. Larxene attempted to dodge the attack, but she underestimated Asuna's speed and the long thin blade managed to scrape at her shoulder causing her to clutch at the wound and scowl. "I'm not letting you toy with Sora's emotions!" Asuna said. "Grrr...you little...I was giving him a hint. You know how slow he is figuring things out." Larxene replied. "Sora can remember who that girl is all by himself. Remembering because of you, would simply taint those memories!" Asuna berated. "Come on Sora, you've gotta get up." Donald said. "R-Right." Sora reached out and grabbed the star charm. "Asuna's right. I promise, I will remember you by myself." Sora got up, placed the charm in his pocket, and readied his Keyblade for the coming fight. "You know something?" Lightning sparked around Larxene's hands, and from it were formed sets of four yellow knives that fit between her fingers like claws. "You're really starting to tick me off!" Larxene exclaimed.

The fight started with Larxene casting several thunder spells on Sora. after dodging the lightning bolts in quick succession, Sora ignited his Keyblade with a fire spell and threw it at Larxene. The flaming sword whirled through the air, singing its intended target as it connected before returning to Sora's hand. Larxene threw her electrically charged throwing knives at Sora who Struck them away with a swing of his Keyblade. The knives turned back into electricity returned to Larxene's fingers as quickly as she had thrown them. Larxene quickly lunged at Sora, ready to savagely tear at him like a scratching post. What she did not expect was for Sora to be replaced by a blonde hunk with a sword larger than she was and be caught in a powerful cross slash. The attack sent Larxene reeling towards the edge of the Arena and added to increasing ire. "Alright, Play time's over." Larxene leapt into the air, charged lightning magic into her daggers "MEGAVOLT!" and threw them into the ground causing lightning to rain down in a wide area. While Sora was caught in the attack, he did have a cura spell at the ready to recover from most of the damage.

Just as before with Axel, Sora was gathering a stockpile of friend cards throughout the battle and now was the time to use them. "Yuuki!" the purple haired sword user tossed her saber into the before Larxene had reached the ground, leapt into the air to retrieve it, "Radiant..." and used her momentum to slam Larxene into the ground as the two of them fell. "Arc!" and then she disappeared. "Strea!" Strea let loose a powerful 3 strike attack. The first 2 blows came from the right and left and the third went right down the middle. "Demolition strike!" and once again Larxene was sent reeling to the edge of the arena. "You little punk!" Larxene screamed in anger as she ran towards Sora, intent on dealing a finishing blow. "Asuna!" With Larxene's speed, Asuna didn't have to wait long for her opponent to get within striking range. "Quadruple pain!" Asuna let loose four strong thrusts in quick succession dealing more than enough damage to finish off Larxene. A magic card depicting a lightning bolt floated in front of Sora and he pocketed it with the rest of his collection.

The arena vanished and sora was taken back to the castle stair way. Larxene looking worse for wear gave another snide chuckle. "You're not as bad as I thought. You really are a hero. A Heartless hero." she mocked. "Who asked You?!" Sora reacted. "Aww, does it hurt because it's the truth? You are just a baby." she pulled out another world card from her pocket. "And if you're gonna be a baby, then here ya go." she teased before tossing it at Sora like one of her knives, but Sora caught it. "I created another card from your memories. Be a good boy and say thanks." she teased before warping away with a portal like those that came before her. "Sora... are you alright?" Asuna asked. "Yeah... Thank you Asuna, for standing up for me. I really owe you one." Sora said. "No, Sora. You don't owe me a thing. I was protecting you the same way that you protect all of us. We're your friends Sora. We lookout for each other no matter what." Asuna said. "You're right. And now that I know she's here, I need to start doing the same for...the same for... Na...Nami..." sora began to mutter "Is he?-" yuuki said before being cutoff. "Yes, that's it. Come on Sora, you can do it." Strea encouraged. "Nami...Naminé. I remember now! Her name... it's Naminé." Sora said.

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  • 2 years later...

Chapter 8 A Dark Reunion

Axel was leaning against a wall in the observatory when Larxene warped in after her bout with Sora. "Whew... throwing that battle wore me out." she said. "Really? It looked to me like you just plain lost." Axel coyly remarked. An angry scowl quickly formed on Larxene's face at the jab. "How dare you! You don't appreciate the nuances of-" "An ungainly effort." another voice cut her off mid rant. When she turned to see who it was, she saw a man with long platinum blonde hair, bright green eyes, and a cold snobbish expression. "Vexen." Larxene said. "How could you be humbled by someone of such limited significance? You shame the Organization." the way he looked down on her only added to Larxene's irritation. "How can we help you, Vexen? It's not very often we see you topside." Axel greeted. "I came to lend you a hand. You Obviously believe this Sora has much potential, but I remain unconvinced he is truly worth such coddling. I think an experiment would show if he is of any value to us." Vexen postulated. "Hmph. Well, here we go again. It's just an excuse so you can carry out your little experiments. That's all." Larxene said. "I'm a scientist. Experiments are what I do, yes." he remarked.


"Whatever. You can do what you want." Axel lamented. "But you know, I think testing Sora is just a cover for testing your valet." he stated. Vexen crossed his arms at the insinuation "Valet? He's the product of pure research." Vexen said. "What he actually is, is a toy." Larxene snarked. "Hmph. You should learn to just be quiet." Vexen rebuked. Larxene simply turned her head away from him refusing to even acknowledge that sentence. "Anyway...Since you came all this way, you're gonna need this." Axel pulled out yet another world card and handed it to Vexen. "A humble gift to my elder. I hope you use it to put on a very good show for us." Axel said. As Vexen examined the world this particular card depicted, he couldn't help but grin.

"Sora, wait up!" Donald cried. Once Sora remembered Naminé, the spiky haired boy ran off ahead of everyone else. "There's no time! They've got Naminé. We have to save her!" Sora exclaimed while running towards the door. "Phew. Sora sure does seem like he's upset." Goofy said. "You'd be too. He just remembered a friend but found out she's in trouble." Donald explained. "Good point. I guess if we heard that the King was in danger, we would be pretty upset about that, too." Goofy replied. "Still, that doesn't mean we can afford to be hasty. Getting us riled up like this is probably what they want. I just hope Sora can see that before it's too late." Kirito said.


On the seventh floor of Castle Oblivion, our heroes entered the undersea world of Atlantica. There, they came across a red-haired mermaid with a green fish tail named Ariel. The girl was carrying a golden trident and left as quickly as she came. When they arrived at the palace, they learned from a crab named Sebastion that the trident had been stolen and that princess Ariel had gone missing. Believing that Ariel would not do so without a good reason, our heroes decided to discreetly investigate the matter. They found Ariel with the Trident in her grotto, but she was not alone. The sea witch Ursula told Ariel that her friend Flounder had been whisked away to the surface and was in grave danger. Ursula claimed that she could rescue Flounder, but in exchange she asked for the king's trident. Ariel was still nervous about the deal, she asked for more time to think it over. The sea witch obliged but warned her not to take too long. After she left, Sora offered to help Ariel find out what was really going on. Once they arrived at Ursula's grotto, they asked Ursula for proof that she could save Flounder. With a snap of her fat fingers Flounder had instantly appeared in the grotto and Ursula revealed that she was the one that had taken him so that she could get the trident as a ransom. Seeing no other choice Ariel gave Ursula the trident in exchange for Flounder. And while she did release him, she used the trident to grow to gigantic proportions and attacked. Luckily, she was no match for Sora and was defeated after a lengthy battle. With Ursula defeated, Ariel returned the trident to own up to her mistakes. And with that our heroes went to the next floor.


When sora entered the stairway to the eighth floor his eyes widened in surprise. There, walking down the stairway was his friend Riku. "What are YOU doing here?" Sora asked. "Not happy to see me?" he replied. "Let me know if I'm getting in the way—ya know of something that's more important." he smugly remarked. Completely taken aback by the negative reaction Sora's expression became equal parts guilt and confusion. "Huh? I didn't mean that..." Sora said. "Hmph. Spare me the excuses. I bet that you had all but forgotten about me." Riku scoffed. "Are you crazy? C'mon. I came all this way looking for YOU!" Sora answered. "But you're not anymore, right? Now it's only... Naminé that you're looking for. You don't care about me. Just like you never cared—at all... about her feelings." Riku said. "Naminé's..." Sora wondered aloud. But before he could give it further thought Riku scoffed. "Hmph. I knew it. Never even gave it a thought, did you? Just cuz you want to see Naminé -Sorry—doesn't go both ways." Riku then pointed his finger at him. "Tell ya the truth, Naminé doesn't even want to look at your face." he said. "Why not!?" Sora asked. "You should ask your memories...Why Naminé disappeared from the islands. Remember that, and you'd know." Riku said. "Did I... Did I do something? Is it my fault?" Sora asked despondently. The way Riku was describing it and the thought that he himself had caused her to leave...It frightened Sora to think he could be capable of something so cruel.


"Riku..." A dark aura emanated from Riku and in a flash he was garbed in the shadowy flesh of his dark form. With the crest of the heartless emblazoned on his chest. "Go home, Sora. I'll care for Naminé. Anyone who goes near her..." he called his dark weapon Soul Eater into his hand. "Goes through me!" Riku shouted as he swung his blade at Sora who barely reacted in time to block the attack with his keyblade. "Wha- What's wrong with you!? We're supposed to be friends!" Sora exclaimed. "Please, Sora. Since when have you ever cared about me? Naminé's not the only one who's sick of looking at you. So am I!" he said disdainfully. He then did a backflip to break off the deadlock and assumed a fighting stance. "Riku, stop it!" Sora pleaded. But it was to no avail. A flash of light appeared and the two of them were taken to the castle arena.


The fight started with Riku leaping toward Sora and attacking with an overhead slash. Sora quickly dodged the initial strike and Riku's sword let loose a flash of dark energy as it hit the floor. Pressing his assault, Riku lunged at Sora. With barely any time to react, the lunge connected leaving Sora dazed. With Sora open for attack Riku fired a dark firaga blasting sora into a nearby column. After such a relentless assault Sora casted curaga to heal himself fully. 'This is bad. If I keep taking relentless attacks like that, I'll be finished. I need to keep him from getting the upper hand.' Riku lunged at Sora again, but Sora let casted a thunder spell cutting Riku off before the attack could connect. Seizing the opening, Sora used his sonic blade technique. Riku was a truly difficult opponent and Sora knew that his best chance to win was to end the battle as quickly as possible. Luckily, he managed to pick up a couple of friend cards during his rush of attacks. not skipping a beat, he used them immediately after landing the last blow of sonic blade. Summoning both Asuna and Yuuki, the pair unleashed a powerful joint attack landing a flurry of blows and finishing him off. a magic card appears floating down towards Sora. The card depicting a tornado was pocketed with the rest of Sora's collection.


the arena faded away bringing them back to the castle halls. Both Sora and riku panted in exhaustion. before any of us could say or do anything, Riku turned and ran to Sora's dismay. we chased after him to he next floor Sora called out for Riku as soon as we reached the top of the stairs, but by the time we arrived, he was nowhere to be seen. Sora's head hung low worried by this turn of events. "Sora, Are you okay?" Asuna asked. "Don't worry about me. Riku... what happened?" he asked. "Most likely, he's been affected by Castle Oblivon. Remember, this place messes with people's memories. He must've gotten so far that he forgot you were friends." Kirito Said. "So he just forgot? Then what do we do?" He asked. "If we could just get his and our memories back, we could get through this no problem." Yuuki remarked. "She's right. Riku's probably just as confused as we are. even if he's currently against us, we shouldn't push him away." Strea said. Then Jiminy hopped out of sora's hood to put in his two cents. "There's no need to mope Sora. we'll get through this together like we always do." he encouraged. "Yeah. Okay." Sora said. Taking note of the despondancy in his tone, Donald spoke up. "Sora, do you remember our very first promise?" Sora looked at him in confusion. "Always smile!" Donald and Goofy replied. "That was the promise we made the first time we met. We promised to never forget to keep smiling!" Goofy said while smiling with enthusiam so infectious that everyone else couldn't help but join in. Sora Smiled and said, "You're right."

Author's note: Hello everyone. Sorry for taking so long again. I just didn't know what I wanted to do with this chapter for the longest time. I've been gearing to shake up the status quo of this story in some way and I just couldn't figure out how to do it. it was mostly to do with the introduction of Vexen. I was going back and forth on whether I should proceed with the established story or have him square off with Sora and co. sooner than when he initially appeared. I think I am going to do that at some point, but I just couldn't decide whether to do it after the first Riku fight or one of the other ones. after writing this chapter out I think I can say that keeping to the original work at this point in the story was the right choice. I hope you guys like it. and keep an eye out for more to come. Once i get through this story the ones after it should be much more exciting.

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Chater 9: the experiments begin.

When we entered the next card world we were taken to the hull of a very large wooden ship. There, we met a ginger haired boy clad in green by the name of Peter Pan and his fairy companion Tinker Bell. The two of them had come to rescue their friend Wendy who had been captured by Pirates. Although with the number of enemies aboard, it would be difficult for him to reach her alone. Sora offered to create a distraction for them and given how tinker bell flitted around Sora, she seemed to approve of the plan. Once they had dealt with the heartless, we managed to make our way to the cabin where Wendy was being kept. Peter boasted about his rescue attempt with the help of his new lost boys and went on about going exploring with her and how they'd never grow up. Although Wendy wasn't quite as keen on the idea. She wanted to go back to her home in London. Peter was appalled at the notion. Saying that if Wendy left, that she'd have to grow up and that he would never see her again. But despite knowing this, she still missed her home. Unwilling to listen to her Peter flew off in a huff abandoning Wendy and his plan altogether. However, there were still pirates to deal with. Not wanting to put Wendy in harm's way, we left Wendy in her cabin to confront the pirates on the deck.


When we arrived, we were confronted by a man with long black hair dressed in a red petticoat, cravat, a large rimmed feathered hat, and a hook in place of one of his hands. Captain Hook immediately assumed that we were in league with Peter Pan, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. Even despite their own issues with him. At this point we simply wanted to leave the ship with Wendy, But Hook was a step ahead of us. He had taken Wendy while we were gone and now, she was standing at the edge of a plank. His plan was to use Wendy as bait to lure Peter out in the open, which to our surprise worked. Peter, having got over his anger, had come to rescue Wendy as he planned. Captain Hook in his eagerness for revenge, chased Peter on the plank. Only for Peter to grab Wendy and fly to the safety of the ship. Now captain hook was the one on the edge and seizing the opportunity kicked his keester and sent him plummeting into the ocean. Now that Hook was dealt with Peter asked Wendy if she was sure she still wanted to return home. And on this she was still certain. In truth Peter was worried that if she did grow up that she would forget about him, neverland, and their adventures together. Then Sora reassured peter that the important memories would come back when the right thing came along to wake them up. If those memories stayed in their hearts, we would always remember them. Peter took his advice to heart and finally agreed to take Wendy back home. Saying that he'd come to see him again when Sora was all grown up. He and Wendy flew off into the night sky and Tinker Bell left Sora with a summon card in her likeness before joining them.


When we came back to the castle, neither Riku nor anyone dressed in a black coat (aside from Kirito) was anywhere to be seen. for the first time it looks like they had gotten a reprieve. we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and moved on to the next floor. Meanwhile in the observatory, Vexen was observing recordings of Sora's progress through the castle. So far, his impression of the boy had not changed. In fact, his attention was drawn more to the boy's companion Kirito. Even before they ever reached Castle Oblivion, he had proven to be an unexpected asset in his current research. And according to the observations of Vexen's lower ranked cohorts, he was an outlier in the current experiment. Normally Vexen detested anomalies such as this. They often threatened the desired solutions, and it looks as though Kirito would be no different. However, he would also hate wasting an asset that could provide more fruitful results. For the sake of the current experiment, he would have to be separated from the group. But in the interest of curiosity, he wished to add a new variable to another of his experiments that was progressing concurrently to this one. So, for the time being he instructed Riku to wait deeper in the castle. Vexen would attend to this matter personally.


The next card world had taken them to a castle filled with many strange devices of magical and mechanical nature. According to Kirito, this was the world of Hollow Bastion that they nearly forgot. They encountered a brown-haired woman in a bright yellow dress named Belle in an argument with a very large beast wearing purple cape and tattered trousers. from what they could tell, he had come to get her, but she refused and told him to leave. Dejected by her coldness he left. Deciding to investigate the matter, we followed Belle to the castle Library. We learned that she had been taken hostage by a witch named Maleficent. In actuality cared for the Beast, but when we asked why she was being so dismissive of him if that was the case, we heard a noise coming from one of the bookshelves. knowing what it was, Belle quickly told us to hide. given the urgency in her tone we did as she said. the bookcases slid open revealing a secret passage and from it came a horned woman clad in dark robes that carried a staff. Her heels clacking against the floor as she entered. Maleficent asked Belle why she had refused the Beast's help, belle answered that she wouldn't fall for Maleficent's trap. With her patience worn out she said that she would make Belle beg for his help and the two of them disappeared in green flames.

Luckily, they hadn't gone very far. Maleficent had her cornered against a fountain in the great hall. before she could deliver on her threat however, Sora intervened. our weapons were drawn and ready for a fight. Although Maleficent simply cackled remarking that our own screams would draw the beast as well. However, the Beast was already in the hall. He leaped from an upper balcony and stood ready to fight. but still intent on maintaining her facade, Belle told beast to leave and that she never wanted to see his face again. While the beast respected Belle's feelings, he treasured their time together so dearly that he refused to leave her in Maleficent's clutches. Upon seeing the beauty in the beast's heart Maleficent changed her plans. Intent on taking the Beast's heart instead she fired a green fireball toward him. But Belle ran in front of him and shielded him from the blast. her body disappeared and her heart was stolen by Maleficent. Unphased by this Maleficent remarked that Belle's heart would still suffice. Belle's dismissals couldn't hide her love for the Beast. Enraged, the beast demanded for belle's release. He lunged at Maleficent, but once again she vanished in a burst of fire and shadow.


We followed her to the castle chapel. For making it this far Maleficent explained to the beast that the reason Belle was refusing him was due to the nature of her magic. Maleficent's magic required hearts of utmost beauty to fuel it. By denying her feelings for the Beast she was able to prevent Maleficent from reaching it. But of course, her feelings won out in the end when she sacrificed herself to protect him. And now Maleficent was after his heart as well. Sora wasn't having any of it and challenged Maleficent. The horned witch engulfed herself in pillar of green fire and transformed into a giant black dragon. the fight was Arduous, but Sora won out in the end. Belle's heart was released, and her body restored to physical form. She and the beast had a heartfelt reunion, and the group left the lovebirds to themselves.

Back in Castle Oblivion's observatory, Vexen was being chewed out by Axel and Larxene. Specifically, on why Riku had yet to make another move against Sora. "So, what's going on Vexen? Your Riku was supposed to counter Sora. What's he waiting for? Where is he?" she nagged. "He's hiding somewhere to lure Sora deeper into the castle, right? I suppose we should just leave it at that, you know." Axel replied though his eye roll suggested sarcasm. "A-ha! Oh, i see now! i would have never guessed that. So sorry Vexen." she teased. at this point Vexen's patience had reached its breaking point. he offered to aid them in their endeavors freely and this was how he was repaid? "SILENCE!" he snapped. Larxene's gleeful teasing soon morphed into an expression of humorless boredom. "Predictable response. Forget it. Men without hearts are so boring." she said. "You're one to talk. As if you have such a heart to speak of yourself." Vexen snarked. "That's enough." another voice intervened. the three of them looked to the source of what they just heard. a dark portal opened up and another of their group emerged. "Marluxia!" Vexen exclaimed. the man pulled down his hood releasing flutter of cherry petals and revealing his long pink hair, blue eyes and effeminate face.


"Vexen, the simple fact is that your project was a failure. You'd best not disappoint us again." Marluxia said. Still livid from Axel and Larxene's provocation, Vexen decided it was time to pull rank. "Disappoint YOU? You go too far! In this organization, you're No. 11! I'm No. 4 and i will not have you-" Vexen's tirade was cut off by a gasp as Marluxia pointed his weapon at Vexen. a large scythe with a pointed crest at the base of the pink blade connected to a long curved green shaft. "I've been entrusted this castle and Naminé by our leader. Defying me will be seen as treason against the Organization." Marluxia stated. "Traitors are eliminated." I believe that's what the rules say." Axel said. "Who needs a half baked good-for-nothing, anyway?" Larxene insulted. much to Vexen's growing ire. "Vexen, You can not win against Sora." Marluxia said. "Pity to be so ignorant. As you're only able to see the surface of things, I should not expect you to appreciate my true might." Vexen boasted. "Oh?" Marluxia's scythe vanished in a flash of light leaving more cherry petals in its place. "Then let us watch you prove it." Marluxia said. "What?" Vexen asked. "None of us wish to be suspicious of a comrade." Marluxia said while turning his back to him. "Your insincerity is comforting." Vexen remarked. and then he opened his own dark portal and left the room. "You give a challenge like that to Vexen and he'll seriously want to eliminate Sora." Axel said. "That would be an unfortunate denouement." Marluxia replied. Marluxia then approached Naminé placing his hand on her shoulder caused the girl to jump in her chair. "What to do? Your Hero is soon to be wiped from existence. But I believe there is a certain promisethat he made you. Isn't that right, Naminé?" his question being more of a statement than a query. "...Yes" she hestiantly replied. Satisfied with the answer Marluxia went to join Axel and Larxene in watching Vexen's debut.

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Chapter 10 Chilling Separation

Author's note: good news everyone! We're out of recycled Disney territory! Which means I can write actual dialogue in the worlds again without it being a boring retread! I'm sorry to any chains of memories fans out there, but you know it's true! So, you can expect chapters from this point to proceed at a pace relatively similar to that of the traverse town chapters. I also want to apologize for a bit of false advertising on my part. In the last chapter I said I'd be bringing in Vexen earlier. This is technically true, but it's also so close to when he appeared in the game that it doesn't really change anything. Just trying to manage expectations. However, for what I have planned from this point onwards there will be some pretty big alterations stemming from a certain event that I've been hinting at. Now, on with the story.



Our heroes were just exiting the world of Hollow Bastion. As they entered the castle it dawned on them how far they had come since they first arrived. They would soon be arriving at the tenth floor. "WOW! The tenth floor... We've gotten up pretty high." Donald remarked. "And that must mean we've lost ten whole floors' worth of our memories." said Jiminy who was now standing on Sora's shoulder. "Sora, it's still not too late. Don't you think we should turn back?" Jiminy asked. "I can't. If I did, it would break an old promise I made." Sora said. "An old promise? What would that be?" Kirito asked. "On the islands, I promised Naminé that I'd keep her safe, no matter what. But I forgot it... I didn't remember until I started forgetting everything else! A promise between the two of us... That's why I can't leave. Now that I remember, I have to keep it." Sora said. A look of concern could be seen on everyone's faces. All of this was starting to sound a little too convenient. However, after coming so far could they really afford to turn back? And regardless of the sunk cost fallacy, there was still the matter of Riku. Even if Naminé turned out to be a hoax, Abandoning Riku would defeat the purpose of coming here altogether. Whether we liked it or not, the trap had sprung. Our only hope was to move forward.


When we arrived at the tenth floor a dark portal appeared and from it, another black coat wearing stranger appeared. "Who are you!?" Sora asked. "I am Vexen. I came to discuss a matter of debts to be paid. From you to me." he pointed at Sora. "And I to you." He then pointed at Kirito. "Huh?" was the collective response. "Let us begin with the former. You owe me for reuniting you with your former friend." Vexen said. "You don't mean-" Sora responded before Vexen interrupted. "Indeed, I do. I'm the one who brought Riku to you." Vexen answered. Anger welled up in Sora as his words sank in. "Then... You're the one... You're the one who's been controlling him! What have you done with him?" Sora demanded. "I see no reason to give you information about where Riku is. After all-" ice magic began to cluster in Vexen's hand. It escalated up his arm up his arm and in a bright flash a blue kite shield had formed. There were dark blue spikes jutting out from the upper curve and the edges around the shield's body looked very sharp. "Why trouble you in your final hour?"


Not wasting any time Vexen conjured a large icicle and hurled above him that homed in on Sora. Sora dodged the icy missile and went in for an attack, but Vexen blocked it with his shield and counter attacked by spinning his shield and hitting sora with the pointed edge at the bottom and followed up by using his ice magic to create an ice stalagmite that burst from the ground. The attack knocked Sora back a bit and Vexen strangely enough chose to hover around Sora moving in circles waiting to see what he'd do next. His eyebrow rising in anticipation giving him a very creepy expression. Sora fired off a fire spell hoping the fireball would be able to bypass Vexen's defense, but Vexen formed a barrier of icy spikes around him and blocked it. "Imbecile! Have a taste of my Ice needles!" a trail of icy spikes erupted from the ground towards Sora. The spikes chased Sora around the arena, but he was able to glide through the air and safely avoid them. With defenses this solid Sora would need to distract him to get a hit in. He grabbed a friend card and immediately used it hoping it would by him enough time to get into a good position.


The card summoned Kirito who lunged at Vexen however before the attack could connect Vexen froze Kirito in a block of ice and vanished. If it weren't for the fact that his comrades summoned by the friend cards disappeared after being used and were usually fine, Sora would have been very alarmed. But he did know better and now that he was in position, he was ready to strike. Sora hurled his keyblade at Vexen hitting him in the back of the head momentarily stunning him. Quickly readying another sleight, Sora conjured up a fireball and knocked into the air with his keyblade. The fireball stopped and expanded directly above Vexen and dozens of firaga spells burst from it and rained down on Vexen. The sheer volume of fire balls peppering Vexen was beginning to overwhelm him. Having collected enough data, he saw no need to prolong this encounter and decided to end the fight here before things got too heated.


He took them back to the castle hall and dismissed his shield. "As I expected, you weren't one to die very easily." Vexen stated. "As if I'd ever lose to you!" Sora exclaimed. However, at this point Kirito stepped in knowing that this fight ended much sooner than it should have. "What are you playing at? This was way too easy." Kirito said. "Oho, you noticed." Vexen grinned. "Yes, I was delving deep into your memories as we fought." Vexen declared. "And here... Look what I found." he pulled out a pair of world cards. "From sora, a card crafted from all the memories that are locked in the other side of his heart." He then tossed it towards sora and the same manner the others of his group did. "And from You Kirito, a card made from the memories of the one that resides in you. It should be more than adequate for helping you parse through them. Although to use this card you'll need to be in a different part of the castle. As part of my debt to you, I'll gladly take you to your destination. But it's a one-way trip. And I only have room for one passenger."


As Vexen finished his sentence an intense blizzard suddenly stormed through the hall. It blew with such intensity that it took everything we had just to stay in place. The door behind us was sealed off in by a thick wall of ice. Darkness swirled around Vexen as he teleported behind Kirito, grabbed him, and pulled him through the portal against his will. "KIRITO!" Asuna screamed. She desperately tried to reach out to him, but the force of the blizzard threw her off balance and she fell to the floor. Her arm still stretched out toward him. "ASUNA!" Kirito shouted, reaching out his own arm as he was being pulled through. The two were inches away from each other, but it wasn't enough. Kirito had vanished along with Vexen and with their departure, the blizzard ceased as soon as it began. They all stood dumbfounded as Kirito, the man Asuna loved and one of their dearest friends was suddenly taken from them. And with the door they entrance they came from sealed off, no way to reach him.

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