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The Wayward Smith

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As dawn broke, and the light of day bathed the surrounding buildings, plumes of smoke billowed out of a chimney that persisted even through the night. Within the building, the slam of iron against iron, echoed through the silent morning air. The man slamming against the heated iron, quickly made sure to give the lance several looks over before he placed it within a container of water to cool it before he added it to the pile of replicas of the same lance. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he quickly took hold of the lances, and made for a work bench kept closest to the door. Sitting down he began to go over the lances in meticulous detail. Carefully ensuring that each spear looked similar to the original, of which he had the design for. Grumbling to himself as his eyes traced back over to the last lance had made for his client. He still had no idea how he had managed to break it in that may places, he made doubly sure these would last.

Blinking wildly as the sun peered through the window that was placed above the the work bench, another grumble left his lips as he pulled the shades to block the sun out. Waiting for the spots to leave his vision to quickly looked over each of the lances before him. Each looking the same as the last, placing his hands on his hips, he breathed an exhausted sigh. He never needed to sleep, but these all nighters were still rough, all he could hope was that Dilan wouldn't go through all of these lances. Deciding to leave the lances on the work bench, he made his way across the room, to the open kitchen he had. Placing his soot blackened smithing gloves to the side as he washed up in the sink. He heard the lock of the front door unlock, the same tired grunt of his coworker.

"Argh, I swear, one of these days you're gonna drop from these all nighters you pull." Cid, his pragmatic, and rather grouchy partner. Cid took a look around the room, seeing that the lances they got commissioned to make, already done across the room. "I told ya I woulda done half of em after the weekend, you're gonna work yourself into a grave Cyrus."

Cyrus merely waved his hand dismissively at Cid, focusing on finishing the sandwich he was making. "Ya know I'm not one to sit round doing nothing, plus I had to reinforce these ones so Dilan doesn't bust em during training." He quickly finished putting together his sandwich, tossing over a large ring of keys to Cid. "I'm gonna deliver them, you make up some coffee I'll grab us some stuff from the shops before we start the day, sound good?" Cid only walked passed him and began to brew up a cup of coffee, waving him off as he placed the lances into a secure wooden crate, hammering it shut, and lastly hoisting it over onto his back, before making for the door.

Closing it behind him, he began to make his way through the streets of Radiant Garden, a place he was glad to call his home. As he made his way through the town, he came across the large town center, which lead towards Ansem the Wise's Castle. Just as he turned to head towards the castle he heard the tell tale shout coming from a rather well known troublemaker in town, quickly ducking as a red Frisbee like object flew past where his head was. Giving a sigh, he turned to face the familiar red head that frequented his shop, Lea. Having replaced several windows at his workshop, due to Lea's rather poor judgement when throwing his mock chakram. He couldn't really hate the kid, but his mother had made Lea work around his workshop, he was more of a menace in the shop than he was outside it. "Sorry bout that Cy, was working on my aim, Isa bet me I couldn't knock a can he has on top of your chimney without missing, and I have til Friday to actually do it, so I wanted to get some practice in early ya know?" Cyrus shook his head as he looked back at the fire haired teen.

"Might wanna work at little harder on that then, also in a more out of the way place so ya don't throw it at someone who can't get outta the way." Cyrus adjusted the container on his back, as he walked over to where Lea's frisbee had landed, picking it up before chucking it back at Lea, who stumbled about as he caught it. Lea let out a low groan, before rubbing his arm.

"Man, why do you throw so hard Cy? It didn't even look like ya tried." Cyrus could only shrug his shoulders. He didn't know why he was so physically strong, he just was. Lea eyes the container on his back. "So who ya delivering that to?" Cyrus simply stuck his thumb out towards the castle. "Another delivery for the castle? This for one of the guards or something?

Cyrus gave a curt nod. "Seems Dilan and Aeleus had trained together and Dilan's lance gave out, got commissioned to forge a few stronger replacements." Lea let out another disappointed groan as his let his head down dramatically.

"Couldn't ya have let Dilan go with his lance at least for a little while, me and Isa were planning on going back there sometime this week."  Cyrus only gave a laugh in response. "Hey I meant that! We're gonna manage to get in there one of these days." Lea saw Cyrus continue on his way, and left him to it, focusing more on his frisbee tossing.

As Cyrus made his way up the rather long stairway to the castle, he heard the familiar laughter of one of the castle's youngest residents. As he got to the top of the stairs he saw the ever unchanging front gates of the castle, he also saw the person whose laughter he had heard. A young girl whose name he had learned was Kairi, sitting near a flowerbed with her grandmother. He didn't know exactly why they were allowed to live within the same castle as Ansem the Wise, but who was he to question it. She seemed to have noticed him as she gave him a polite little wave, which he returned before he continued towards the gates, seeing Aeleus and Dilan were as always on duty. Dilan being the first to notice his approach.

"I find it difficult to believe you have already finished the replacements." was the first thing Dilan said as he approached. Cyrus only waved his hand dismissively.

"It wasn't much of a challenge, I got all of the hardest work done over the weekend, finished them up this morning, you should find these a little more durable than the last." Cyrus lifted the container off of his back to present it to Dilan, who looked over to Aeleus, who in turn gave him a silent nod of confirmation.

"We shall see inside, you remember where the armory is correct?" Dilan turned and pushed open the front gates, allowing himself and Cyrus inside, trusting Aeleus to keep things under control while he was gone. 

"Nope, this castle is like a maze I'm surprised you guys remember where the bathrooms are" Cyrus quickly followed Dilan inside, not wanting to be left behind and end up lost within the maze like corridors of the castle. As he followed silently behind Dilan, he couldn't help, but be impressed by the design of the many halls and rooms of the castle, though he wasn't always allowed within the castle, he was relied on for providing Aeleus and Dilan with their weapons, along with forging the parts needed for the various machines he never actually got to see. After what felt like an hour, they finally arrived at the armory, which was less of an armory and more of a dungeon. Dilan pointed towards a lone table in one of the cells, a cell with several crates and training dummies in it.

Taking the hint he went over and placed the crate he was carrying onto the table and starting prying it open as Dilan approached. Once he managed to get it open, Dilan watched as he revealed one of the newly made lances, almost indistinguishable from his previous lance, save for the fact these were slightly longer and ever so slightly thicker. "Hope ya don't mind, but I made some quality of life adjustments to the original design, mainly to offer you a tad bit more range without throwing off the balance of the weapon, and for it to be a lot more durable, the metal I used is a lot less common than what I previously used, but it is certainly worth the rarity, at least I hope so. Give it a spin, or thrust or whatever you do with a lance, and see how ya like it." 

Dilan wasted no time taking the lance in his hand, twirling it around to get a feel for the weapon, before turn to one of the training dummies, and leaped towards it, plunging the tip of the lance through the dummy with ease. Cyrus had to admit, Dilan and Aeleus were no slouches when it came to combat, perhaps that was why they were among Ansem the Wise's apprentices. He watched as Dilan leaped from the floor to the ceiling, before diving with the lance, and impaling through the dummy's head and into the floor, pulling the lance free of both with ease. 

"I must admit, these are quite the improvement from the last one, I can only hope that what you said regarding the durability holds true during Aeleus and I's next sparring session." Dilan turned and saw Cyrus had quite the grin on his face.

"I'm glad ya like it, it is my job for everything I make to be of outstanding quality, speaking of Aeleus, has his weapon been showing any signs of degrading, or wear and tear?" DIlan answered this question with a shake of his head, Cyrus nodding in turn. "That's good, well I'm pretty sure I remember the way back, just send the payment as usual." Just as Cyrus went to walk back, Dilan stopped him.

"Actually, Sir Ansem, wished to speak with you personally upon this delivery, I am uncertain as to why, but you can collect your payment from him afterwards I am sure." Cyrus had no idea what he had done to warrant Ansem the Wise wanting to speak with him personally, but he could only hope it was for something good. Dilan quickly took the remainder of the lances out of the crate, and placed them into a steel container, before following Cyrus out, and leading him towards Ansem the Wise's office.

Not to long after, they arrived to a rather inconspicuous looking door, though with it being at the end of a long hallway, that transitioned from the copper looking piping of the remainder of the building to what appeared to be a more elegant design, it made the door rather conspicuous. Dilan approached the door and knocked, waiting for a reply, which came in the form of a muffled voice Cyrus didn't hear very clearly. Dilan quickly opened the door, and ushered Cyrus inside. Once inside the room, he was greeted with the ever piercing amber eyes of the ruler of his home, Ansem the Wise. Cyrus quickly made to bow, only for Ansem to put him at ease, waving his hand to signal he didn't need to. Dilan also took this chance to return to his post, closing the door behind him as he left.

"Dilan told me you wanted to speak with me about something Sir Ansem?" Cyrus was nervous to say the least, he did trust Ansem the Wise, there were few who didn't. He was the leader of Radiant Garden for a reason. 

Ansem gave a slight chuckle. "You need not be so stiff my friend, I can assure you, you aren't here because you are in any sort of trouble" Cyrus must have visible relaxed at that, as Ansem quickly chuckled again. "Indeed, I must say, you needn't act so guilty unless you have actually done something wrong." Cyrus coughed slightly, and chuckled as well. Ansem stood from his desk and approached Cyrus placing a hand on his shoulder. "Though I am afraid I cannot say that I have summoned you because all is well either" 

Cyrus looked confused as to what he meant by that, Ansem then led him out of the room, once again leading him through the seemingly endless halls of the castle. "I am certain you aren't sure as to what I am referring too, but do not worry all will be explained in due time." They continued through the halls of the castle, silently until Cyrus spoke what was on his mind.

"How you memorize all of these halls, and tell them apart from one another I will never know." This caused a bark of laughter to come from Ansem. Cyrus realizing he just said that out loud.

"Believe me when I say, it wasn't easy at first, but after some time, these halls become as second nature to you, as your own home." They continued on, eventually coming upon a large door, larger than the door to Ansem's office. Opening the door, Ansem allows him inside to see several large containers, along with numerous machines. Inside were also two other people, which Cyrus had encountered before. Even, the rather lanky blonde scientist which aided Ansem greatly in his work, but did give Cyrus several mixed feelings about him, and Even's young ward Ienzo, about the same age as Lea, if not a little younger, he was a rather shy boy, but from what he could tell, was certainly a polite boy. What caught Cyrus's eye was something bouncing about in one of the large containers, it was almost a violet color, with piercing red eyes, it moved as if it was unable to control itself. Cyrus had never seen something like it before. Ansem noticing that he had finally seen what was in the container. "That was what I was referring to before."

Ansem's voice caught both Even's and Ienzo's attention, both turning to see him and Cyrus standing there. Ienzo being rather happy to see both, but a sneer was prevalent on Even's face when he turned to Cyrus. "Sir Ansem I must ask, why you brought him here out of all people, you yourself told us these creatures must remain unknown to the populace." Ansem remained as calm as he ever was, when he turned to address Even.

"I understand full well the importance of this matter Even, it is why I brought Cyrus here, he does possess a way to assist us in this matter, as you should be well aware of" Ansem approached the container to stand next to Even, Cyrus not far behind. Cyrus couldn't help, but be entranced by this weird creature. As he got closer to get a better look at it, it leaped towards him, bouncing violently off of the glass, and ricocheting off of the glass before coming to a stop back where it started. Needless to say, it did give Cyrus a bit of a scare.

"I have never seen one of these things before, weird looking thing isn't it?" Cyrus kept poking at the container which did seem to cause whatever it was inside to lash out, not scaring him this time, but amusing him as it bounced about the container wildly. He even managed to get a small chuckle out of Ienzo. Even eventually just pulled him away from the container.

"Indeed, our mutual friend, the King, came not to long ago, and explained to me what these creatures are. A type of being known as Unversed." Ansem began to walk around the container, the newly dubbed Unversed seemed to be following him now, attempting to break through the container to get at him. "A being drawn towards negative emotion, fear, anger, jealousy. Any negative emotion are akin to a magnet to these creatures. It took both Aeleus and Dilan to capture this one alone, and not without it wounding Aeleus and shattering Dilan's lance as if it were a toy." Cyrus had a feeling that his lance couldn't be broken during something like a simple sparring match, even if Aeleus was far stronger than he appeared. That something like this could so easily break one of his creations, it made him want to see what this thing could really do. 

"So what did ya want me to do with it? I kinda doubt it was to do away with this one after the trouble ya went to to catch it, plus I doubt Even would exactly be happy with me destroying it." Cyrus glanced over to Even who clearly wasn't happy with his being there. 

"You are correct, whilst this one will be used to for studying, in an attempt to find a more effective way of dispatching them, so that the people will be kept safe, I must ask something of you." Ansem approached Cyrus and placed his hand on his shoulder again. "The King mentioned that these creatures can be easily dispatched using the keyblade, and whilst I know you are not very keen on using it, I ask that if you come across any of these Unversed in Radiant Garden, that you destroy them." Cyrus was conflicted, he was never a very combative person, but if these creatures were a danger to the people he lived among then he had no choice.

"Alright, if I find any of these things round town, I'll deal with it, and I'll leave the learning about them to smarter minds." Cyrus motioned towards Ienzo and Even, the latter no longer paying any attention to him, and the former with a smile, due to his praise. Ansem seemed to relax ever so slightly at his answer.

"I am glad, now I believe you are owed your payment for the replacements of Dilan's lance." Ansem then pulled a decently sized pouch of coins from his pocket. Cyrus snapped his fingers when he got handed it.

"Nearly walked out of here without that, Cid would have killed me" Cyrus quickly placed the pouch into his pocket, when suddenly Dilan ran into the room.

"Sir, that thief from before returned again and made off with one of the experimental materia!" Even was the first to react to this news.

"Impossible I had those stored safely within the vault, how could someone make off with one." He quickly left the room, likely to go check up on the rest of the materia. Cyrus had a feeling he knew who this thief was.

"Yuffie, I swear." He turned to Ansem. "I'll go see if I can't get that materia back, I have a feeling I know who took it, I'll drop it back off if I find it, until next time" Cyrus waved both Ansem and Ienzo goodbye, before making his way out of the castle, and back towards his workshop. Deciding to take a detour through the other shops and see if he couldn't pick up some more metals and materials for the shop. As he walked through the streets, watching as people went about their lives, he spied the familiar ribbon of someone he knew. As usual she was tending to the flower stall she had. She noticed him approach.

"Good morning Cyrus, Cid told me you were making those lances all weekend again, I thought I told you, you needed to relax more." The fact that she was quite a bit younger than him didn't really do much for the fact that she was mad at him.

"I know I said I would relax more, but you know me Aerith I can never just sit around idly, plus you know I don't need sleep" He had to admit, her attempt at an angry look was rather adorable, but then he remembered something. "Say you didn't see Yuffie at all this morning did ya?"

Aerith placed her chin as she thought. "I didn't, but I'm sure Leon did, you know how he is with her, I take it she stole something again." Cyrus gave a nod, before he pulled out the pouch of coins he had on him, buying some flowers to hopefully liven up the workshop. "I'm sure she'll show up eventually, I hope you have a good day Cyrus, I'll be by the workshop once I am finished here."

Cyrus waved goodbye to Aerith and continued on his way, stopping to buy several bags of materials from the Moogle shop that was set up. He also got several bags of metals, he learned that moogles were better for getting crystals and non metal materials, the other local vendors were often had better quality metals given he so rarely got to travel and find other rarer metals. Despite him having nearly 20 bags of things for the workshop, and a pot of flowers, he was affected by the weight. Arriving at the shop, not long after finishing his shopping he opened the door, and was nearly toppled over as some jumped onto his back. He heard Cid shout from the opposite side of the room.

"Yuffie how many times do I need to tell ya to not jump on him the second he comes in, if he dropped anything I'm gonna take it outta ya hide!" Cid managed to get over to Cyrus and pry the ever hyper Yuffie off of him, along with taking some of the bags outta Cyrus's hands.

"Sorry sorry! I just really wanted him to see what I managed to grab with my ninja techniques" She quickly pulled out a small teal stone from her pocket, and if Cyrus had to guess, it was the materia she stole earlier. She seemed so pleased with herself, she was beaming when she showed him it. Despite what he had to do next.

"Yuffie, how many times we have to tell you, ya can't just go stealing from the castle." Cyrus placed the flowers onto the table first, so he didn't drop them. Before he set about sorting the materials he bought. He saw Yuffie deflate out of the corner of his eye.

"So many I lost count" She quickly perked back up. "But what if I manage to sneak it back into the castle without anyone noticing, wouldn't that be cool!"

Cyrus had to agree. "It would be pretty cool to do that, but bad news is, Even won't be leaving that room any time soon, ya stole something he was working on, and you know how he gets." Yuffie deflated again at this. Cyrus walked over and put his hand on her shoulder, crouching down so he was eye height with her. "Your ninja skills are improving Yuffie, but maybe stick to non-illegal ninja training methods, now if ya give me that back, I'll make sure it gets back, and you won't get into trouble for it this time, but if ya try again and get caught, I can't come save ya" Yuffie nodded her head solemnly and handed over the materia, just as the door to the shop opened again, quickly catching her attention.

"Leon!" She bounded happily over to the ever moody teenager, though he would never admit it, and hated whenever his moodiness was joked about. Leon was a good kid, if a little intense sometimes, but hey he was still a kid. 

"Bout time ya got back kid, what took ya so long?" Cid didn't bother turning around from what he was doing, which looking as if he was sketching out some new designs.

"Kept Lea from breaking another window." Leon walked over to the table and started to pour himself and Yuffie a bowl of cereal.

Cyrus shook his head, before he went back to sorting out the materials. He heard Yuffie and Leon talking to each other, or more appropriately, Yuffie was talking Leon's ear off, and he just sat and listened. Cyrus had to admit, Yuffie, Aerith, and Leon were handfuls in their own way, but they were good kids. He managed to put most of the materials away, deciding to take a few over to his work bench. Looking quietly over to the side where he kept other commissions, he began to sort through the papers to find one he could work on. It was about time for them to open up shop anyway, so he might as well get to work, he'd return the materia later, and hopefully he wouldn't need to deal with any of those Unversed creatures in the mean time. Just another day to him otherwise.

Chapter Text

The week had gone relatively smoothly, Cyrus managed to return the materia without much issue, though Even did spend an hour or so questioning about how he found it or if it had done anything strange to him or its surroundings. Besides returning the materia, he also hadn't come across any Unversed yet either. Yuffie spent a good portion of the week playing keep away with Lea, swiping his mock chakram and leading both him and Isa on a chase around the town. Leon spent a good amount of his free time helping Aerith with her flower stand, though even mentioning that he only did it to be around Aerith resulted in him becoming even more brooding than he normally was. As for Cid, he seemed to be working on a design for a new type of gummi ship, whilst knowledge of other worlds wasn't common knowledge, Cid and Cyrus were among the few of Radiant Garden who knew of it, Ansem the Wise, and his pupils being the others. Cid was the far more technical minded of the two, he was at his best when he was managing tech then hammering away at hot metal. Cyrus wasn't a slouch when it came to being technical, but he was certain more comfortable when working with his hands then his mind. Though finding gummi blocks around the town was certainly easier said then done, but Yuffie certainly was happy to prove her ninja skills, by leaping and bounding about the rooftops of the town.

Cyrus was currently hammering away at his latest commission, well it was more of a birthday present then anything. Cyrus and Cid had become the de facto guardians of Aerith Yuffie and Leon, despite not much conflict being present in Radiant Garden, the 3 had been found by Cid when they were far younger, before he had even met Cyrus. Cid's sarcastic nature aside, he did care deeply for the 3, and when he met Cyrus he felt as if they could finally live a moderately stable life. Yet, as none of them actually knew when they were born, Cid decided they'd celebrate their birthdays all at the same time, to save time as he put it. So, Cyrus was hammering away at the present he had in mind for Leon. Leon was always one to protect his friends, and that often meant he'd come home covered in bruises, so Cyrus decided it was best to scare off any of the older kids who caused trouble for him or the others, by brandishing a weapon, whilst not a real weapon by any means, it looked real, and if used properly could be used to fend off other kids looking for a fight.

As for Yuffie, he was still working on the design, but she really wanted something that screamed ninja, so he was working on a less life threatening shuriken, one that wouldn't hurt her terribly if she didn't use it properly. Cid decided to take on the gift he had in mind for Aerith, she was a far more gentle soul compared to Leon and Yuffie, but she did have something of a passive aggressive attitude, and the ability to make you feel terrible for disappointing her. Cid also wanted to create a weapon that held the ability to channel magic through it effectively, as Aerith did possess a near unrivaled magical ability, but she was using it more for healing, almost always jumping right into healing Leon or Yuffie if they had gotten hurt during the day, also healing Cid or Cyrus if they got hurt while working. From what Cyrus had seen, Cid was working on something of a pole like weapon.

Cyrus was hammering the blade straight, working it properly into the design he had in mind, when the door to the workshop opened, during his head to glance at the doorway, he was surprised to see it was Ienzo, someone he had rarely ever seen leave the castle. "Just a moment, be right with ya!" Deciding he should move things along, he began to hammer frantically at the steel, it began to form together, and not long after it was nearly exactly as he saw it in his mind's eye, but there was still something off about it he couldn't pin down at the moment. Placing the heated steel into a water bath, and moving slightly back to avoid the steam. Pulling the blade free, he placed it onto his workbench, opting to work on the details after whatever Ienzo needed.

Wiping his forehead, and removing his smithing gloves, and placing them to the side. Approaching Ienzo with a smile, he quickly brushed off his blacksmith smock. "Sorry bout that wait kiddo, need something?" Ienzo looked as if he did have something to say, but he was having some issues with it. Cocking his head to the side, Cyrus knelt down to look at Ienzo from a less imposing angle. "Does Sir Ansem need me or does Even need me for more questions about that stone of his?" Ienzo shook his head in reply, causing Cyrus to think a bit, something had Ienzo frightened, he could tell from his posture. Then it clicked. "Unversed then, did they send you to get me?" Ienzo nodded furiously.

Cyrus had a feeling the Unversed would pop up, he only wished they wouldn't, well he had a job to do then. With a grin, he stood back up. "Well then, we oughta get you back to the castle then, safer there than here I'd suppose, just stick close to me." Cyrus turned his head, and shouted to catch Cid's attention. "Cid, things are getting busy, grab ya spear and find the kids, I'm gonna go see if I can't cut this problem off at the head!" As he finished, he then held out his right arm, and after a moment, a flash of light brightened the room, before vanishing, and in his hand, a keyblade that seemed to be a machine, with gears turning around the hilt, and the blade itself seemingly to be comprised of several moving parts.

Ienzo was certainly amazed at what he was seeing. "Pretty cool huh? Don't really use it much, but if I need to, then I need to right? Now come on and stick close." Cyrus then flung open the door and went outside, Ienzo following quietly behind, turning his head to see Cid, scrambling out of the back room, long spear in his hand. As Cyrus made off down the street, Cid managed to get outside looking slightly frazzled.

"Ya mind telling me what's going on!" Cid shouted at Cyrus as he made down the street, Cyrus made to turn around to answer, but heard an odd noise ahead of him as he did, turning his head back around, he saw several of the same kind of Unversed he had seen inside the castle, except not captured, and fully capable of hurting him now. "Nothing good I'll tell you that, now find the kids!" Leaping towards the twitchy creature, he slammed his keyblade into the ground where it was, only to find it has dodged to the left of him, and that one to his right made to strike. Pulling his keyblade free the from ground, he held it in front of him acting as a shield, but not only one of the Unversed struck, but 3 at once. Using the momentum of their attack, he reeled his blade back and in a single slashing motion, split the three in half in a single attack.

Cid went to try and help him, but heard the same strange sound and saw that several Unversed appeared and were making their way towards the shopping district. Grumbling to himself, he shouted towards Cyrus. "You better be careful ya hear! Ya know how Aerith hates it when ya don't take care of yaself!" Before he made off after them, displaying surprising agility, and managing to slash several of the twitchy ones away from him. 

Turning his head, he made sure Ienzo stuck close to him, just as several more of the twitchy ones appeared. "Just my luck, well hope you guys can't feel pain, because this ain't gonna be fun for you!" Cyrus swung at the Unversed, mostly reacting to their attacks, batting them away like nothing, often resulting in them being destroyed. Slowly, but surely given the sheer number of Unversed that got in their way, they made it to the Town Center. The fact that it appeared completely empty seemed to put Cyrus on guard. "Ienzo, if more Unversed appear, the first chance you see book it for the castle, knowing them, Aeleus and Dilan are holding down the gate out front, you'll be safe with them." He saw Ienzo gave him a nod in confirmation, but he also saw the kid was terrified. "And don't worry, these things ain't nothing." Slowly they made their way into the city center. Cyrus keeping his eye on Ienzo, keeping him close, in case of an ambush.

Suddenly the same strange sound filled the air, and from behind Cyrus, a large almost spherical Unversed appeared and fell towards them. Turning on his heel, he reeled his keyblade back, making to swat the large Unversed away, but then was clawed against his back, his gaze turning behind him to find several of the twitchy Unversed had appeared behind him. This distracted him long enough for the large Unversed to slam directly into him hurling him towards the large group of twitchy Unversed. His gaze directed over to the scared Ienzo, He quickly landed on his feet, skidding to a stop. "Ienzo go! I'll catch up!" Cyrus charged forward, slashing through several of the twitchy Unversed, before he sent the large Unversed into the air, before slamming his keyblade into the Unversed, sending it barreling into the twitchy Unversed. He gave Ienzo a quick thumbs up before charging back at the Unversed, Ienzo running up the stairs to the castle gate, any Unversed that appeared focusing on Cyrus rather then him.

As the Unversed surrounded him, he was definitely starting to feel the slash on his back. Thinking quickly, he pulled free from his pouch a simple potion, he wasn't much of an alchemist, but he did know how to make up a potent potion. Throwing it over his head, he quickly batted another of the large Unversed towards the smaller ones, the potion bottle shattering above him, vanishing as the healing concoction showered down over him, easily mending the the wound on his back. He then thrust his keyblade forward, tearing through the swarm of Unversed. As he came to a stop, he spun on his heel, his keyblade tearing through the swarm, and sending them flying. He had to admit, this was rather fun, risk of death or not. Then as suddenly as the swarm appeared, they started to thin out, not that he had destroyed so many, it looked as if they were just leaving.

Just as he made to smack another large unversed away, it too vanished, suddenly leaving him completely alone in the town center. Leaving Cyrus very confused. "Okay? Guess they couldn't handle me, at least I hope that's it" Turning his head he noticed a town regular, one Scrooge Mcduck, walking around as if Unversed weren't just rampaging about. He waved towards Cyrus, when something from the corner of his eye caught his attention. A young woman, perhaps around his age, but he couldn't quite tell from a distance, her most prominent feature was her deep blue hair. She quickly approached the both of them.

"Excuse me, I'm terribly sorry to bother the two of you" Well he had to admit, she was well mannered, but from the looks of her clothes, she most certainly wasn't from around here. Scrooge was the first to speak about her politeness, offering to help her with whatever she needed if he could. 

Cyrus turned to face her properly. "If we can help then sure, got no reason not too." She seemed to take notice of him, she seemed to be studying his appearance, before shaking her head, likely to get back to what she had in mind. "I wanted to ask, if either of you had seen a boy that wasn't from around here." It was then he knew what she had meant. They were world travelers, and whoever she was referring to was likely here in Radiant Garden, but he hadn't really seen anybody he hadn't seen before around town, but it would appear that Scrooge had, telling her that whoever she was looking for was at the castle.

Scrooge then bade farewell and walked off. Leaving Cyrus and this newcomer alone. Cyrus seemed to be the one studying her this time, her clothes were familiar, but vaguely so. "From what you said, you ain't from this world are ya? Which one did ya come from anyway?" She seemed taken aback by his sudden questioning, but seemed to recover quickly.

"So you know that there are other worlds, that must mean you can travel between them as well?" She questioned back, to which he only grinned in reply.

"Well I used too, kinda haven't had the time lately, between working at the workshop, and now peacekeeping, I haven't found myself exactly in an influx of free time" He seemed to look her over up and down. "So that must mean" He quickly snapped his fingers as it struck him. "You've got a keyblade! Come on, ya do! Don't ya? Come lemme take a look at it!"

It was clear he had found her out at her surprise when he mentioned a keyblade. "W-what are you talking about, and why do ya wanna see it so badly?" His body language seemed antsy, like he was just chomping at the bit to see her keyblade.

"Come on, you know exactly what I'm talking about. How bout I show ya mine, that way you aren't the only one showing off a keyblade!" Before she could reply, he summoned his keyblade, holding it out in front of him. She couldn't believe it, but he wasn't lying he actually did have a keyblade, though it was quite different from her's.

Though hesitate she finally showed her keyblade to him, and she had to admit, seeing his eyes light up was odd. Before she could react, he snatched her keyblade from her hands and started to examine it. The entire time he examined it, she tried to get it back, failing as he always pulled it out of the way. "Man, I haven't gotten to examine another keyblade in such a long time, I can tell this was created by magic, usually leaves a distinct trace, usually in the design of it, kinda why mine's so different, I made it myself, and enhanced it too!" She was really keeping up with him as he spoke out loud, seemingly more to himself then to her. He had managed to devise how her keyblade was made, not only that, but apparently had done it another's keyblade as well.

"So did you train under Yen Sid too? Mickey never mentioned you, or maybe you trained under Eraqus, though he never mentioned he had students." She was even more surprised by this, he knew about Master Eraqus, and that Master Eraqus never mentioned him to them, and that he never mentioned them to him.

"P-please calm down, I'm not entirely sure what you mean." Cyrus quickly stopped, noticing what he was doing, handed her keyblade back over to her, before coughing into his fist. 

"I'm going to apologize now, because man I got way too excited, its not exactly something that happens often round here. Kinda mostly just fix up Aeleus and Dilan's weapons if they break, and making some sturdier cooking utensils." He quickly unsummoned his keyblade, before bow slightly to her.

She did her best to defuse the situation. "It's fine, but how do you know about Master Eraqus?" He seemed to perk up at this.

"Oh so you are one of his students, wasn't hard to figure, I only know about him and Yen Sid, each master has their own unique kind of magic about them, I mean you have it about you too, its faint, but definitely there, so that means you must have just passed your Mark of Mastery exam right?" It was starting to become very strange how much he knew about these things, especially that he could tell that she passed her mark of mastery.

Composing herself, she quickly answered. "It is true, I did pass recently, me and my friend both took the mark of mastery test, but only I managed to pass, Master Eraqus, tasked my friend, Terra with destroying these creatures known as Unversed." This caught Cyrus's attention.

"Oh these things ain't just around here then? That's good to know that we aren't the only ones needing to deal with these weird little creatures." Cyrus was still thinking about that fact. That these Unversed weren't only infesting his world, but others as well. "Actually scratch that, that is actually very bad"

She continued regardless of his interruption. "As for myself, I was tasked with ensuring that he manages to complete this task, and that he does not succumb to the darkness in his heart." Mentioning the darkness in Terra's heart seemed to interest Cyrus. 

"That sounds intense, but sorry to say, I haven't seen your friend at all, so ya might wanna take Scrooge's advice and head for the castle's gates, but the direct way is locked off, defensive measures ya know? There is a way there, but its kinda round about, but that's how it is." Cyrus, pointed towards the stairway leading to the castle directly, which was locked off due to the Unversed triggering the defense systems. "I can lead ya there if ya want, I've gotta deal with Unversed things as well and it's always fun to have a partner when fighting."

Aqua nodded at this, a small smile at her lips. "I would appreciate the help, but I'm afraid you never told me your name" Cyrus realized he didn't roughly the same time as she had, quickly rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment.

"Right, sorry bout that got ahead of myself, name's Cyrus pleasure to make your acquaintance Miss?" Cyrus held his hand out for her to shake, which she shook gladly.

"Aqua, happy to meet you Cyrus." Once they shook hands, Cyrus quickly walked over to a street off to the side of the town center.

"Right then, now's no time to dilly dally! Let's get a move on Aqua!" Quickly she followed after him, making their way through the deserted streets of the town, she could sense Cyrus's unease at this fact, likely worried about his fellow town's people. As they ran, suddenly Unversed appeared, different from the ones Cyrus had fought earlier, similar in build as the twitchy Unversed, but were green in color, and had what one could almost call a humanoid body. They seemed to retreat into themselves as the two approached, as Cyrus charged forward leaping into the air, and slamming his keyblade violently into the green Unversed, sending the other Unversed flying back. Aqua charged into the fray as well. Noticing the strange sound Unversed made when they appeared, she aimed her keyblade towards to suddenly appearing large Unversed, and unleashed a blast of frost at it freezing it solid. Several more Unversed appeared, charging towards the two.

Aqua used the frozen Unversed as a launching pad, leaping into the air to strike at several flying Unversed, while Cyrus made short work of any of the Unversed that tried to attack him. Aqua unleashed a thunder, raining bolts of thunder down onto the Unversed below, stunning those, that weren't destroyed outright by being struck, freeing them up for a heavy strike by Cyrus. Several other Unversed appeared, this time springing up from the floor, they looked almost like weeds. Grabbing hold of one of the weedlike Unversed's strange appendages, Cyrus yanked it out of the ground, before swinging it around above his head, knocking several of the airborn Unversed down, before he slamming the Unversed he held against the ground with such force, it and the downed Unversed closest were all destroyed.

The Unversed that was frozen by Aqua suddenly burst out of its frozen prison, it's size suddenly doubling in size, inflating almost like a balloon, before it gained a red like glow and began to roll around, not caring about the Unversed it crushed beneath it. The sound of more Unversed appearing filled the air, as several more of the green Unversed appeared, flanked by the twitchy Unversed. Aqua landed next to Cyrus, as the large rolling Unversed rolled towards them. Cyrus leaned towards Aqua and whispered. "Watch this." He watched as the rolling Unversed approached from behind them as the newly arrived Unversed charged towards them. As the rolling Unversed was almost on top of them, Aqua dodged to the side, as Cyrus reared back his keyblade, and as the rolling Unversed was right in front of him, struck in an upward arc, sending the rolling Unversed spinning wildly in the air. Cyrus then swiftly moved to the other side of the rapidly falling Unversed, and holding his keyblade like a baseball bat, struck the Unversed with such force, it was sent flying towards the other Unversed, not so much bowling them over, as just crashing into them, crushing those not destroyed by getting struck by it, leaving the last of the Unversed completely destroyed.

Cyrus rolled his shoulder, releasing what tension he had, Aqua approaching him from behind. "That was cool huh? Those big ones are definitely good bowling balls." Aqua looked Cyrus over, she was impressed by his physical strength, he might have been even been physically stronger then Terra. She then noticed a rather sizable slash on his arm.

"You're hurt!" Cyrus only seemed to notice the slash when she pointed it out. He quickly began to pat against his pockets, trying to find something, only to sigh and lower his head in defeat.

"Course I forgot to pack more potions today, Aerith is gonna have my head when I get back" Cyrus rubbed the back of his head as he thought about what she'd do when she saw how busted up he got back to the workshop. Aqua approached, gently touching around the wound with her hand.

"Can't you simply heal it with a Cure spell?" She remembered that Cure was the first spell that Eraqus taught Terra, Aqua, and Ven, simply so in case they were hurt during training.

Cyrus shook his head at this. "Yeah, that's not exactly something I can do."

She was confused about this, he possessed a keyblade, but couldn't use Cure? "Do you not know the spell? I can teach you it, if you want."

Cyrus shook his head again, rubbing his sore arm, as the pain was starting to become prevalent. "It's not that I don't know the spell, its just I can't do it. Can't do magic, at all, not Cure, not nothing." Aqua held her keyblade in front of her, focusing for a moment, before using Cure of Cyrus's shoulder. The pain he felt vanishing along with the wound.

"Before ya ask, I honestly don't know why I can't do magic, I just kinda can't, I usually compensate for that fact, by keeping potions on hand." Cyrus rubbed where the slash wound once was. Examining his arm over a little bit.

"Its alright, I shouldn't bother you with questions you don't know the answer too, but I have to thank you for helping me get the castle."

Cyrus held his hand up at this. "Thank me when we find your friend, I'm more taking advantage of you then the other way round, now come on, those things ain't gonna wait on us." Aqua gave him a nod, following after Cyrus. Several more Unversed appearing as they ran for the castle, not wanting to lose anymore time, Cyrus simply began to smack the Unversed away, while Aqua blasted them apart with magic. After running for sometime, dealing with Unversed as they continued on. Eventually making it to the intersection area, that connected the Castle stairway, and the stairways leading from the town, town center, and shopping district. Offering them a moments respite from all the fighting.

Panting due to all of the running, Cyrus couldn't help but compliment Aqua. "Ya know" he takes a moment to catch his breath. "I can see why you became a keyblade master." Aqua smiled at his kind words. "Ya know if things calm down today, ya should swing by my workshop, I wanna see if I can't do something for ya keyblade, think of it as repayment for helping me out." She looked at her keyblade when he said that.

"You don't need to do that, if anything I'm the one who owes you for your help" She stopped when he raised his hand.

"I won't hear it, if it wasn't for you, I'd be at this all day, two heads are better than one after all right? Now come on let's see if your friend is up there" Cyrus finished catching his breath, pointing his keyblade towards the top of the stairs, Aqua nodding at him taking the lead, as he slowly followed after her. As they arrived at the top, Aqua saw a young girl running away in fear from one of the twitchy Unversed, running forward to protect her. As Cyrus made it to the top of the stairs, he saw Kairi run away from several of the twitchy Unversed, hiding by Aqua's side, touching her keyblade out of fear. As Cyrus made to go help, he heard the tell tale strange sound of Unversed appearing behind him. Dozens of the green Unversed appearing on the stairs behind him. Several dozens of the twitchy Unversed appearing around Aqua.

"There's no way we can fight like this!" Aqua shouted as Cyrus backed up to get closer to her. Focusing on keeping Kairi between the two of them, keeping her safe was top priority. Cyrus kept himself on edge, the Unversed starting the swarm around them, he noticed that neither Aeleus or Dilan were outside, likely within the castle, fighting against Unversed. One of the twitchy jumped into the air to attack, it was suddenly destroyed as a small form had jumped to intercept it, destroying it with their keyblade. The figure landed in front of Aqua, turning to her for a moment. 

"Hurry! Ya gotta get that girl to someplace that's safe!" The voice rang familiar to Cyrus, looking over his shoulder, he knew exactly who it was, those ears were hard to miss after all. Yet, Aqua clearly didn't know who he was.

"Who are you? Why do you have a keyblade?" Cyrus felt bad for Aqua, so many questions in a single day, would be confusing for anyone, no matters if answers were given or not.

Turning his head to face her, he gave her a quick answer. "I'll tell ya later. Right now, we gotta stop these things!"

"Couldn't agree more!" Cyrus thrust his keyblade forward, piercing through the swarm of Unversed, clearing a path for Aqua, who took Kairi under her arm and ran through the opening to get her to safety. As Aqua ran off with Kairi, Cyrus found himself back at the center of the swarm. "Why can't we ever meet during normal circumstances Mickey?" Cyrus smirked when he saw Mickey turn to face him.

"We seem to attract trouble wherever we go huh?" Cyrus kept smirking as he turned his attention back to the swarm of Unversed.

"Correction, You seem to attract attention wherever ya go, or did ya forget how I found ya when ya first got here?" Both tensed themselves for battle, only relaxing for a moment as they looked between each other, to find Aqua, keyblade ready to fight.

"Everything alright?" Mickey seemed to be asking about if Kairi was alright, to which Aqua nodded. Mickey was happy with her answer, and got himself ready to fight. "Let's get em!" With that the 3 charged into battle. Aqua and Mickey working together to dispatch the Unversed. An orb of light shooting forth from Mickey's keyblade, which instantly destroyed whatever Unversed it touched. Aqua's magic caused the air to tingle with power, frozen Unversed, shattering as they slammed into ground, thunderstruck Unversed rendered immobile, due the thunderous magic coursing through them. Cyrus was working on the Unversed that swarmed around him. Each slash and smack reducing any Unversed that was struck into nothing. Blocking one of the green Unversed's attacks, he spun on his heel, retaliating with a spinning slash, destroying several Unversed surrounding him. He looked down at his keyblade during a temporary lull in the fighting. Focusing, he felt his keyblade begin to change in his hand. Taking hold of the now lengthened grip of his keyblade, he spun it above his head as it transformed, as it finished he twirled it around him, knocking back Unversed around him, adjusting his grip on his now transformed keyblade scythe.

"Man, its been awhile since I last did this." Taking advantage of his momentum, he leaped forward, slashing through several Unversed in a single stroke. Then spinning on his heel, he began to spin around, the sheer force of his spin, causing him to seemingly glide on his heel, while his scythe torn into any Unversed that crossed his path. He turned his attention over to Aqua and Mickey, the two were handling themselves perfectly, Aqua had flames dancing around her, each of her strikes scorching the Unversed. While Mickey made use of his nimble body, and agility by jumping from Unversed to Unversed, bashing them away, intermixed with the occasional orb of light. 

More flying Unversed appeared, deciding to deal with them, he used pulled his keyblade scythe, aptly named Sky Schism, and sliced upwards in several crescent arcs, destroying what few Unversed he hit with it. Using the head of one of the large Unversed, as a stepping pointing, he began to slash through the airborn Unversed with ease, ending with one last flourish before spinning around in a similar crescent arc he used to get airborn himself. As he landed, he saw that Aqua and Mickey were still surrounded by Unversed, some even looking like hourglasses for some reason, he really couldn't question it at the moment.

Taking a better approach to things, he hurled Sky Schism towards them, it carved a path through the ground, slashing through several of the Unversed, before Cyrus leaped forward to take hold of it, slashing around him to dispatch more of the Unversed, easing some of Aqua and Mickey's burden. Yet, despite all of this fighting, the Unversed still kept appearing, but in fewer numbers then when it had started. Aqua shared a look with Cyrus before she held her keyblade with both her hands out in front of her, preparing a spell. Cyrus ran forward, Sky Schism taking on an odd red glow as it began to swirled around him violently, changing into what he called its Call to Arms form. Not wanting to waste time by attacking each Unversed individually, he took hold of the scythe's grip, and got into a stance, focusing as Unversed swarmed around him. Just as one of the green Unversed made to attack, he unleashed what he called Shin Zantetsuken, an attack that dislocated his arm when he was practicing it. The resulting slash, reduced nearly all of the surrounding Unversed to nothing, but it caused his keyblade to change back to its base form, along with leaving him unable to keep fighting. Still several other Unversed appeared, barely any compared to the swarm earlier, but he couldn't fight back anymore at the moment.

Looking back behind him he saw a bright light gather at the tip of Aqua's keyblade. "Sometime today would be very nice!" He swore he saw Aqua roll her eyes at him, as she unleashed her spell.

"Mega Flare!" as her shouted echoed the air, a blinding flash followed, and the sound of flames so intense, he swore he could feel the heat. When his vision finally returned, he looked around, the ground was still slightly charred from the power, but there wasn't an Unversed in sight, Turning back to look at Aqua and Mickey, he held a thumbs up to them.

"Good job team!" Before he fell face first onto the ground, completely exhausted from all the day's fighting. He didn't hear the gasp from Aqua and Mickey as he did. "Don't worry bout me, just gonna lay here for a bit, no need to worry!" That seemed to get Aqua and Mickey to calm down. He wasn't really listening to whatever they were talking about, noticing as he got to his knees that Kairi was near them again. Just as he got back up, he saw a bright light coming from Mickey, before he vanished into a ball of light that spun and twirled out of control, as it flew into the sky. "Seems he still hasn't gotten that gummi block to behave." muttering underneath his breath, he was exhausted, wiping the dirt off of his pants. He had to admit, he was a little rusty, Shin Zantetsuken always backfires on him if he doesn't focus enough while using it, his back was going to be feeling it for a few days.

Turning around proper, he saw Kairi hand Aqua a few flowers she must have picked, while he rarely ever really talked with Kairi and her grandmother, he could sense something about her, but besides that she was just a good natured kid. As he approached Aqua, he saw Kairi and her grandmother begin to walk away, though he was a little slower due to over exerting himself. He turned his attention over to Aqua, who held the flowers in her hand. As he got to beside her and decided to strike up a chat. "Cute kid huh?"

Aqua jumped slightly, likely too lost within her mind to notice he got close. "I have a feeling, that I didn't meet her by accident." Cyrus chuckled at this, before groaning a bit.

"Swear there's something bout the kids in this town, but I gotta admit, seeing how easily ya were blasting those Unversed, really makes me wish I could use magic." As he stretched his back a little, the flowers in Aqua's hand suddenly burst into light, forcing both to look away. Once the light dimmed, Aqua saw what she was holding in her hand. "Well would ya look at that, I always knew there had to be a bigger difference between magically made keyblades and forged keyblades."

This brought Aqua back to what he had said before, that he had created his own keyblade. "That reminds me, while I hope it isn't too much of a bother, I was hoping to ask you a few things."

Cyrus cocked his head to the side, doing his best to stand straight, despite the pain in his back. "Those things would be?"

"You mentioned that you had the ability to enhance and forge keyblades, but the only way I know of changing keyblades is with these different keychains." She lifted her newly changed keyblade up and showed him the end of it, which took the shape of a star.

"Right, well I'm not entirely sure how I know how to do it, I just kinda do, trust me Wanderlust looked way different a few years back." Cyrus scratched his chin. " As for your keyblade, I've found that keyblades created by magic, mainly from the keyblade choosing you, is inherently different from how forged keyblades work."

Aqua looked confused. "Wanderlust?"

Cyrus looked as if he forgot to mention something. "Right, its what I call my keyblade, see?" He then summoned Wanderlust into his hand, its odd mechanical design shining in the sun. "You also probably wanna know how my keyblade changed forms like before, right?"

Cyrus lifted his keyblade up higher to examine it. "I haven't got much of an idea myself how it works, given the only other keyblade I've seen is Mickey's." He then let his keyblade vanish, before continuing. "Given it seems your friend wasn't here, and the fact I am in no real shape to keep helping ya look, how's about I take a look over ya keyblade, see if I can't help make it stronger."

She looked at him, letting her own keyblade vanish. "You can do that? I thought magically made keyblades and forged keyblades were different."

Cyrus nodded at her. "You are right there, they couldn't be more different, that is, in the way they were made. A keyblade is a keyblade, so enhancing the one you've got shouldn't be any harder then enhancing mine, at least that's how it worked when I worked on Mickey's keyblade."

She couldn't help, but wonder, if he could really enhance her keyblade, then he might be able to with Terra's and Ven's as well. "Thank you for your offer, but before we part ways, I have to ask how you knew I was a keyblade master, and how you know Master Eraqus."

Cyrus looked as if he was in thought for a moment. "Well, I could tell you were a master because of how you smelled I guess, its weird when I say it out loud, but keyblade masters all have a very unique smell to em."

Aqua looked a little embarrassed at what he said. "What do you mean I smell?"

Cyrus quickly made to correct himself. "Wait! It's not like how ya think it is, you don't smell to other people I can tell ya that, I think I'm the only one, here at least that can smell the difference, I mean, Yen Sid smells like an old library, Eraqus smells like sword polish, and you smell like blueberries, so it's not like its a bad smell or anything." Aqua wasn't sure how to take the fact he said she smelled like blueberries. "As for how I met Eraqus, I actually met him after I met Yen Sid, the two seem to keep in contact with each other, and he had come to me after I enhanced Mickey's keyblade when I first met him."

Aqua voiced another question that was on her mind. "What did he come to you for?"

Cyrus answered quickly, and simply. "For me to take a look at his keyblade of course, his is a little different from the one you got."

"From what I remember, he didn't get his keyblade the same way you got your's, or was it that, the one he had wasn't the one he had when he started out?" Cyrus looked stumped. "Can't remember if he told me, but when he showed me his keyblade, it was certainly different from Mickey's his was far older, it certainly was showing its age. It wasn't even a keyblade that was made with magic, from what I could tell it was a forged keyblade. He asked me if I could do anything with it, so I started drawing up possible enhancements, but you probably aren't interested in the details. Long story short, I managed to not only fix his aging keyblade, but enhanced it's magic capabilities."

Aqua was amazed at this, she wouldn't have guessed that Eraqus's keyblade was so old. Cyrus then brought up a different fact. "I think he explained it to me, but it was awhile ago, so my memory is a little foggy, but I think he had said something along the lines that he inherited it when he became a master, but other then that I'm drawing a blank." Cyrus then noticed something over Aqua's shoulder. "What in the?"

This caught Aqua's attention, looking over to where he was looking, seeing what looked like a white propeller turret. "An Unversed?!" It looked like it was heading over to the opposite side of town. 

"I can't help ya with that one I'm afraid, I'd be more of a hinderance, but please do be careful, really wanna take a good look at ya keyblade later." Aqua gave him a nod, going down the stairs in a hurry, she stopped when he called out to her, turning just in time to catch a small pouch Cyrus threw at her. "You'll have more use for those I will, try not to burn through those mega-ethers too fast ya hear?" Cyrus then waved her off. "Hope ya find your friend, I'm gonna head back to my workshop, it ain't hard to miss, so ya can't use that as an excuse for not coming to visit!" She smiled and nodded as she ran off, towards wherever that Unversed had gone. 

Finally alone, left in front of the gates to the castle, Cyrus couldn't slouched over. "Man, I'm beat, least Aerith can't yell at me for getting hurt, at least, she won't til I collapse that is, Ho Boy" Cyrus began his slow walk back to his workshop, praying that he wouldn't run into any Unversed on the way back. As he walked down the stairs, an idea bloomed in his mind. "Maybe I should pay Eraqus a visit, after Aqua swings by that is. See how he's doing, has been awhile since I last saw him." Looking around carefully, Cyrus decided to avoid any really open areas, sticking to alleyways and side streets. Eventually he found himself back in front of his workshop. Opening the door, he was greeted by Yuffie, immediately leaping into his chest for a hug, knocking him flat on his back. A bit stunned but suddenness of it all, he looked up and was greeted with Yuffie's smiling face, Cid, Aerith and Leon all rushing out to help him, Leon looked as moody as ever, while Aerith looked concerned for him, and Cid had a smirk on his face.

"Quite the welcome home eh?" Cyrus couldn't help, but burst out laughing for a bit, before his head smacked against the ground, exhaustion overwhelming him.

"Yep, good to be home, let me tell you, it's been quite the day." Leon managed to pry Yuffie off of Cyrus, as Cid helped Cyrus up, glancing over to Aerith, she had the same mixture of upset and disappointed on her face she always had when he got himself hurt. "I'll tell ya inside, I really need to sit down." Cyrus could only hope Aqua found her friend, he also hoped Eraqus was doing well, but he'd visit him later if he could.

Chapter Text

Cyrus was resting his head at his  workbench, Aerith having forbade him from doing any form of intense labor until he wasn't hurt anymore. This did give Cyrus sometime to reflect on a few of his designs, now that he knew these Unversed were a huge threat, he couldn't leave Aerith, Leon, and Yuffie without a way to defend themselves. His gaze shifted over to the blade he intended to give Leon, staring for several seconds before an idea popped into his head. He then shuffled through several papers on his desk, eventually finding the design he had for Leon's gift, as well as Yuffie's. Deciding to take some time, he began to rework the designs of both, from adding proper reinforcements to Yuffie's without sacrificing it's aerodynamics, designing it to play more to her strengths, her agility and ninja techniques. While with Leon's, he began a complete rework of the weapon, keeping the general shape of the blade, but adding onto it using inspiration from one of the designs he had for another of Ansem the Wise's apprentices, Braig. He still didn't know Braig got the idea for his arrow guns, but he couldn't lie to design was sound, but he just couldn't bring himself to dispose of the original design he had in mind.

A combination blade and gun, Spending most of the time, on how the inner workings would work, without throwing off it's usability in combat. Getting the design down was easy, but what did take time, was getting down how the firing mechanism would work. He failed to notice Cid approaching behind him, cup of coffee in hand, until he felt Cid resting his hand on his shoulder. "Ya know, might save some time, if instead of trying to get it to work like a proper gunblade, ya might wanna try adding a magical focus, Leon might not use it much, but he is getting better at using Fire, trust me I've had to put out more than my fair share of fires cuz of him." Cid smirked as he saw Cyrus's eyes widen in revelation, watching as he quickly began to search through the drawers of his workbench, eventually pulling out a large black pouch, that radiated warmth from it. Cid raised an eyebrow. "That'd better be a fireproof bag."

Cyrus rolled his eyes. "I forget one time! One time to use the fireproof bag for blazing shards, and you never let me hear the end of it!" Standing up, slightly too fast given the twinge of pain that echoed through his body. Cid grabbed the original blade Cyrus had made, placing it over by the fire they used for forging, walking back over to the workbench and taking the design for Yuffie's gift.

"I'll handle Yuffie's, you're gonna be busy with Leon's for awhile." As Cid walked back to his own workbench, placing the design down and beginning to add his own bits to the design. Leaving Cyrus to begin his rework of Leon's gift. Digging through the seemingly endless supply of materials they had for their work, taking out several large blocks of a very strong ore, Damascus, properly the most durable material they used, despite how expensive it was to buy. It also was an incredibly good at conducting magic. Cid had used some of it while making Aerith's gift, so Cyrus didn't have to worry about using some for Leon's. As he placed his smithing gloves, and smock on, he quickly found his smithing hammer, which apparently Yuffie decided to place on the refrigerator, probably because Aerith told her to hide it so he couldn't do any work while they were gone. Opening the bag, he pulled out a fairly sized blazing gem, before chucking it into the forge fire, causing it to erupt into bright and hot flames. 

Smirking at the flames, Cyrus got to work. Cyrus worked quick and efficiently, slowly forming the Damascus into its proper shape, as he forged the steel into a blade, he added a blazing crystal with each new section he worked on. Not long after, the blade took it's shape, still white from the heat of the fire. Working on several of the smaller grooves and edges of the blade, while it was still workable from the heat. He then began work on forming the loading chamber of it, which was certainly the hardest of the entire weapon, needing to form the chamber to fit the blade perfectly. Yet, slowly, but surely he managed to finish all of the forging required for the weapon. Only noticing once he pulled it from the container of water he used for cooling, that it was more appropriate for someone his age, not Leon's. Deciding that it didn't really matter and that Leon would grow into it, he set it onto his workbench before he went to look for the parts they used for gun repair, something they rarely did. As Cyrus searched through the boxes of parts, he heard the sound of the door opening, turning his attention over to it, he saw the familiar blue hair of his newest friend, Aqua.

"There ya are! Was half worried ya weren't gonna show, gimme a second, just looking for something." Cyrus looked around the boxes frantically, before he found what he was looking for. Walking over to his workbench, he gently placed it down next to the other parts. "Have a seat, be right with ya!" Cyrus quickly made a mental note of all the pieces he had for for the loading chamber. Once he was sure he had everything he needed, he turned and walked over to the table Aqua was sitting at. Falling into the chair across from her, he quickly got out of his smithing gloves. Once he was settled he looked over to Aqua, who seemed to be upset about something, causing Cyrus to get curious about. "So what's got ya down? Was ya friend not round here after all?"

Aqua shook her head solemnly. "No, I did find him, its just" She fell silent for a moment. "I think I might have made him hate me." Cyrus was certainly interested in this.

"What happened? I mean ya don't gotta tell me if ya don't wanna." Cyrus was doing his best to be helpful, he just wasn't the best at giving advice, he was good at listening though.

"He found out that Master Eraqus had me follow him, to look over him, make sure he wasn't falling into darkness, but when I told him, he got angry, and walked off, I didn't mean to make him angry, but he had been doing terrible things in other worlds I had traveled too, Master and I don't want him to get hurt." Aqua was clearly deeply hurt by what had happened, Cyrus could tell that much by her voice. "Along with that, my other friend Ventus, he's still young, he wants to help Terra as well, but no matter what me, Master or Terra say to him, he doesn't listen, he left to find Terra after telling me I was letting becoming a master get to my head, I don't want to fight with them, I only want things to go back to the way they were before."

Cyrus decided to stop her there. "I see, quite the issue huh? You only want them to be safe, but at the same time, you have to follow Eraqus's orders, so they see it as you don't care for them in the same way as before." Cyrus crossed his legs under the table, and leaned back. "Sadly, I fear both your friends aren't thinking clearly, both doing what they believe is right." Cyrus's eyes were trained on Aqua." But despite this, you care for them as if they were family, and having them say those things, your heart is hurting, that much I can tell."

"I'm afraid I can't offer much in the ways of comfort, but I can tell you, from this stranger's point of view, you haven't done anything wrong, if anything you might be too nice when handling them. I can't say I know what your friend, and this Ventus are going through, it doesn't mean they should distrust you so. All I can say is this, despite these troubles, you still care for them, having their words hurt you so is evidence of that, don't lose heart Aqua, I say continue your task, but do so not for Eraqus, but for yourself. Carry on, not for Eraqus, but for yourself and your friends, that you all might return to Eraqus and be like things used to be. Now" Cyrus stood up from his seat. "Maybe I could help get your mind off of that, even if just for a little while."

Aqua stood up from her seat, a look of determination starting to spread across her face. She followed behind Cyrus as he approached the still raging fire of the forge. She watched as he began to search through some of the small boxes that were kept near the fire, pulling out a few pouches. "Now your keyblade, if you would be so kind?" Holding out his hand, Aqua quickly obliged, summoning her normal keyblade, and handing it over to Cyrus. He looked over the keyblade extensively, swinging it around slightly to get a feel for the weight. "Yep, that makes sense, good, nice balanced weight, not too light, not too heavy, a good middle ground." Bringing it closer to his face he examined the details. "I can see why you use magic so often, the focus in the blade is perfect for it, but as with everything, can be better, those keychains might actually be able to help with that, but I'll see what I can do" Placing her keyblade gently against the the forge, looking through the drawers of his workbench. "I know I put it here, come on, Cid better not have moved it."

Just as Aqua was about to ask him what he was looking for he managed to find it. "There we go! Was gonna be mad if I lost it." What he had in his hand was a small box, just about the size of Aqua's hand. "This is a very unique material, something I got as a gift from Yen Sid, as a thank you for helping with Mickey's keyblade, he called it an Orichalcum, a material that he said can be used to bring out a weapon's greatest potential. He also said that it could make some strong weapons, but they are so hard to find, I never really felt safe with experimenting with it, but hey! Perfect chance to use it." Cyrus quickly brought the box over to the forge, placing it gently next to her keyblade as he opened it. Revealing the shining ore, which he slowly lifted out of the box, Aqua watching intently. "Weirdly enough, enhancing keyblades is easier than one might think, just stand a little farther back, sparks kinda come with the whole deal." Slowly, Cyrus lowered Aqua's keyblade into the fire, letting the heat sink into it, giving it a blazing red glow. Gently and carefully, he placed the Orichalcum into the fire as well, it quickly beginning to glow an even brighter light. Picking up the heated ore with a pair of grabbers, he gently placed it onto the keyblade. "Here goes nothing." Quickly, Cyrus pulled his goggles down over his eyes. "Ya might wanna cover ya eyes for this!" With that warning, he brought his hammer down hard onto the ore, the resulting clash caused an immense flash of light to come out of her keyblade.

"Is it supposed to do that?!" Aqua was certainly concerned, but all Cyrus did was laugh.

"All part of the process!" He then began to hammer again into the blade, the blinding light diminishing with each hammer blow, until the light was gone, and Aqua's keyblade gave off an intense glow, though nowhere near as intense as the one before. "Always happens, sorta like a catalyst, opens the keyblade up for change, while also being quite the enhancement itself, now watch this!" Placing the pouches he had found earlier onto the small table he had near the forge, he open one and pulled out a decently sized crystal, one that glowed a brilliant yellow. "Figured, I could use the orichalcum to help magic focus better in ya keyblade! Better the focus, the more potent the hit yea? Now I'm gonna help attune it to the elements, so it can channel them better." Quickly, he placed the lightning crystal onto the keyblade, before he began to hammer it in. Intense electrical sparks flying with each blow, until once again, like the orichalcum, the sparks faded away. Taking out another crystal, this one beginning to burn his smithing glove, he quickly placed it onto her keyblade, hammering the blazing crystal into it. Once the flames that shot out from doing so faded away, he began to frantically pat down his currently burning glove on his smock until the flames subsided.

"Now with that done, let's see if I can do this without blowing it up." He quietly pulled out a frozen over crystal, one that slowly spread frost over his glove as he held it. "Placing something this cold, onto something this hot, is best done last, less likely to shatter the blade." Aqua was clearly taken aback by what he said.

"What do you mean shatter the blade?" Paying her no mind, he gently hovered the crystal over the keyblade, before raising his hammer, unbeknownst to Aqua, closing his eyes in the process. As he brought the hammer down, he felt a sudden burst of steam shoot out, ice melting in the heat, he had to work quick. Wiping the steam from his goggles, he began hammering the crystal into the keyblade, until steam stopped pouring out of the forge, the fire now more tame then before. Lifting his goggles from his eyes, he picked up her keyblade, looking it over, before gently handing it over to her. "And there ya go! Working Frost Crystals in is always a gamble, sudden cold meeting something that heated, doesn't mix well, trust me I learned the hard way." Cyrus was pleased with himself, he saw that Aqua was inspecting her keyblade, carefully as she could feel the elements swirling within it. "I'd be a little gentle with it for a bit, kinda volatile after the first enhancement, but you should find your spells are stronger, I mean, hopefully, gonna be mad if I did that and there aren't any significant changes."

Aqua was certainly amazed by what she was feeling from her keyblade. It didn't feel any different to wield, but she could feel the power of it had changed. "Hope you weren't expecting it to be any faster or something, unless ya want me to make up a completely new keyblade, that really isn't possible." Aqua shook her head, and smiled.

"No, it's just, I don't know how to thank you for this." Cyrus laughed at this.

"Don't, this was the least I could do, after all you still have to help your friends." Cyrus stretched, taking off his charred, and frozen gloves. "I shouldn't hold ya any longer then I already have, if ya need anything else, just let me know ok? We are friends after all, at least I hope we are friends." Aqua nodded, with a smile.

"Of course, and thank you again for this." Cyrus waved her off.

"What did I just say? Now get going, and take care!" Aqua walked towards the door, before turning and waving him goodbye, to which he returned in kind. As the door closed behind him, his mind began to drift. While he literally no idea who this friend of Aqua's was, or who this Ventus was, he did know someone who does. Eraqus, if he was their master, then he might be able to enlighten him on just what's be going on. The only question then being, how would he get there. Aqua, and her friends likely got here due to the Lanes Between, but while he knows about them, he has no idea how to use them himself. He then remembered how Mickey got around, his Star Shard, something he was given when he first met Yen Sid, and needless to say, it was hard to get anywhere with one, while Star Shards, are basically gummi blocks, they also have the ability to send to user to any number of worlds, in Mickey's case, rarely intentionally. While Cyrus never really had much use of it, except for the few times he visited Yen Sid, he got the gist of how they work from what little experience he had. Star Shards act more like a beacon, often connecting with the user's heart to find its destination. Mickey never really got his down as he usually always wanted to be somewhere he was needed, and that's basically just spinning a roulette wheel. Cyrus then began to rummage about his workbench drawers again. Soon find what he was looking for. As he held the small shard, he called out to Cid. 'Hey CId, I'm heading out, can ya finish putting together Leon's gift for me? I've got something to do." He didn't really hear Cid's reply as he walked out the door. As he stood out in the open, he held the Star Shard up.

"I hope this works, really don't wanna end up lost for a week again." keeping his voice low, he felt the shard begin to glow. "Please, please, please work" Suddenly the Star Shard's glow covered him. He felt himself start to be jarred left and right as he felt himself get thrown through the air. Soon he felt that he was no longer in his world, the only pitiable thing about Star Shard travel is, ya couldn't really see out of the blinding glow it gave off. And as suddenly as he took off, he landed, more so crashed into what he hoped was his destination.  As he stumbled a bit, dazed from the sudden crash landing, he looked around him, finding himself in a small area, with what looked like training equipment nearby. Turning around, and making his way up a minor climb, he saw an immense castle, one that actually looked even stranger then Ansem's castle did. Hoping that this was the correct world, he started towards the castle. As he approached the stairs leading the gate, he was greeted with a familiar sight. Approaching him, was Eraqus, keyblade in hand, worryingly. Cyrus waved his hand at the approaching Eraqus. "Long time no see huh?"

He could tell Eraqus relaxed at his voice, it was minor, but he noticed it. "If I had known to expect your arrival I would at least prepared drinks." Cyrus walked over to Eraqus and held out his hand, which Eraqus gladly shook. "It is good to see you friend, but I have to ask, is there a reason for your sudden arrival?"

Cyrus gave him a stiff nod. "Well yes and no, might be easier to explain inside." Eraqus hesitated, but agreed, leading him inside. As he walked through the halls, he had to admit, these halls were easier to get around then Ansem's. Soon they arrived in a large room, with two large chairs at the end of it. Eraqus approached the center most chair, sitting down in it. Cyrus noticing just how tired Eraqus looked. "You been sleeping well? Ya look exhausted." Eraqus shook his head in response.

"I have had much on my mind as of late, far too much in fact." Eraqus lowered his head, something was clearly bothering him greatly, but Cyrus felt that he couldn't so simply just ask him.

"I uh, I met one of your students, Aqua, wonderful girl, I can see why you passed her during the Mark of Mastery." Eraqus head shot up at this.

"Was she alright? What of Terra and Ventus?" Cyrus raised his hands, meaning to slow down Eraqus's questioning.

"I only have met her so far, and she only mentioned Ventus in passing, is Terra the friend she said she was keeping an eye out for?" Eraqus nodded at this.

"Aqua, Terra, Ventus, they are all my apprentices, and I fear that something terrible will happen to them. Something I have been spending many restless nights, thinking of ways to keep them from this fate, but I cannot think of anything that saves them all." Cyrus approached him, while he wasn't what one would say great friends with Eraqus, but seeing him so torn up, he wanted to help him.

"I'm not sure what's happening, but if I can help, you can trust me to help if I can." Cyrus was trying to read Eraqus's body language.

Eraqus looked at Cyrus, looking into his eyes. "If you truly wish to help, then I believe you might be able too. Come, follow me" Eraqus got out of his seat, and began walking further into the castle, Cyrus trailing behind. Until they came upon, what was likely Eraqus's study. Cyrus didn't have time to look around the room as Eraqus pulled out a small chest, from beneath one of the seats by a window. "I have need of your services once again, Cyrus." He summoned his keyblade, before using it to open the chest. Once the chest opened Cyrus knelt down and pulled out what was inside, his eyes lighting up at what he saw. "No way."

Cyrus began to place the contents of the chest onto the table. "I can't believe it, Fluorite, Damascus, Adamantite, even Electrum! Eraqus where'd ya find these things?" Cyrus was amazed, he could barely find reasonably priced damascus, but somehow Eraqus had several of each.

"Though I may not travel like I once did, during the time I spent training my apprentices, I happened across them. As well as this" Eraqus went over to where he had pulled the chest from, and from inside it pulled out a smaller chest. Placing it onto the table next to the other chest. Opening it while Cyrus was busy inspecting the ore. "I know that is unfair of me to ask this of you so suddenly, but I need you to enhance my keyblade once again, to it's very limit." Cyrus looked up from the ores, looking at Eraqus who held a very unique ore in his hands. 

"Is that what I think it is?" Cyrus was slow to approach, but he quickly snatched the ore from Eraqus's hands, inspecting it closely. "I thought Cid was pulling my leg when he told me about these. Orichalcum are hard enough to come across as is, but this! Oh, I have to be dreaming!" Eraqus almost laughed seeing the sight of Cyrus starstruck at the ore he held in his hands. "This is like a dream! I just wish whoever discovered these had been slightly better at naming em, seriously Orichalcum+ what kinda name is that!" Cyrus spun on heels, he was absolutely giddy over what he held. Once he started to calm down he turned to Eraqus, a determined look in his eyes. "You want me to do your keyblade right? I'll make it the best keyblade you've ever laid eyes upon, and that's a promise." Eraqus couldn't help, but smirk at this.

"Come, I know it is impossible for you to get to work without a forge." Cyrus made to pry himself from staring at the ore before him, to follow him, storing the ores within the chest. Eraqus could hear Cyrus talking to himself, listing off the possibilities he could have with these ores. Soon they came upon another room of the castle, Eraqus opening it with his keyblade, Cyrus following him inside. Cyrus had to admit, this wasn't a half bad forge, sure he might be biased to his own, but this definitely had everything a forge could need. Cyrus approached the forge fire, the embers of which burned low, evidence that it hadn't be used in sometime. "I must ask, can you work in these conditions? I understand if you need to go back and gather some materials of your own.

Cyrus shook his head. "No, this is perfect, then again I'd do this over a campfire for the chance to work these ores, plus I always bring my hammer with me, so its not like I'm unprepared or anything." Cyrus rubbed his hands together, before getting to work. "Let's get things a rolling." Cyrus began to look around the room, finding several blazing gems, while not as potent as one crystal could be, using more than one made up for it. Placing the unused smithing gloves on his hands, he took the blazing gems, and threw them onto the dying embers, almost immediately the flames ignited and heat from the forge covered the room. Placing the chest next to the fire, he opened it, so he had easy access to the ores. "I think it's about time I show ya just how good a smith I am." Holding his hand out, Eraqus handing him his keyblade, Cyrus offered him a smirk. "Man, I'll admit, my heart's never been more excited." Cyrus, with his free hand pulled down his goggles, before turning to the forge.

Placing the keyblade into the roaring flames, it didn't take long for the heat to cover the blade, turning it from it's blackened appearance, to a blinding white. Using a pair of grabbers, he carefully pulled the keyblade from the flames, allowing it lay in front of him, the heat of the flames keeping it a glowing white. Using the grabbers, he carefully took hold of the Orichalcum+, and brought it to the super heated keyblade, hammer grasped in his other hand. Eraqus watched as he lowered the ore to the keyblade, a shining flash of light covered the room the moment the ore made contact with the blade. Raising his hammer high, he brought it down with great force. The flash that followed resounding clash of the hammer against the ore, was blinding, forcing both Eraqus and Cyrus to look away. It dimmed only slightly, allowing Cyrus very little vision as he continued to hammer away at the ore. The light only subsiding after what felt like counts blows from the hammer. Once Cyrus could see the blade without seeing spots he found the keyblade was absolutely radiant, the shine alone was far greater then when he worked on Aqua's keyblade. 

Allowing himself a moment to capture this moment in his mind, he then set about adding the other materials. Adamantite allowing the blade incredible durability, Fluorite allowing the blade to keep a solid balance between strength and speed. Electrum, being the greatest of the ores that wasn't Orichalcum, it possessed the greatest versatility of the ores, it allowed for some many possibilities when used. Cid once said that electrum was 'the panacea of smithing' easily replacing whatever missing material that was needed, and often going even further than what that missing material could do. It would be the greatest material there was, if it wasn't so hard to find that is.

Cyrus began to hammer each of the ores into the glowing keyblade, sparks flying with each hit of the hammer. Slowly, the ore that Eraqus had gathered was used, and added to the strength of the keyblade. Eraqus could hear Cyrus's heavy breathing as he began to finish the blade. Taking hold of the final piece of Electrum, he placed it onto the keyblade, and hammered it in, not even flinching as sparks danced about his face. As soon as he finished hammering the last piece of ore into the keyblade, the glow it once had from both the heat, and the Orichalcum+ began to fade, taking this chance, he took hold of the hilt, and dunked it into a cooling bath, before immediately collapsing into the closest chair. "And that's how ya do it!" Cyrus let his head fall into his hands as he wiped the sweat off his face. "Man that was exhausting." Eraqus approached him, placing a cup of tea in front of him.

As Cyrus downed the cup in a single go, he pointed idly at the keyblade in the cooling bath. "Ya can take that if ya want, it should be perfectly fine now, maybe, never really done this before so it might explode, but hey ya never know til ya give it a go huh?" Cyrus sat still for awhile, working to catch his breath. Eraqus approached his keyblade, taking hold of the hilt and pulling it free. Eraqus, examined it intensely.

"It looks no different, but as before, the power it is capable of is greater than anything I have seen before." Eraqus couldn't put into words what he was feeling from his keyblade, Cyrus chuckled watching him look over it.

"What can I say, outdid myself with it. So ya wanna tell me what ya had me enhance your keyblade to its peak for?" Cyrus leaned forward, resting his hands in his lap. Eraqus turned his attention from his keyblade to Cyrus.

Eraqus was silent for some time, clearly thinking of a response, answering after what felt like minutes. "To save my apprentices from the darkness, I will do what I must to achieve that goal" Cyrus seemed to mull over his answer, before nodding slightly in response.Standing up from the chair, stretching his back a bit, he approached Eraqus.

"That's a little too vague for my liking, but I'll admit, if Aqua's anything to go by, saving them is worth the trouble." Cyrus looked over Eraqus's shoulder at the keyblade, he had to admit, he was really proud of it, despite the only real practice he's had with keyblades were his own and Aqua's not too long ago.

This caused Eraqus to fall silent again, confusing Cyrus at why he was so quiet now. Eraqus then turned to look at Cyrus. "I have one last thing to ask of you Cyrus, and this will be the last thing I ever ask of you." Eraqus placed his free hand on Cyrus's shoulder, looking him dead in the eyes. "If I fail, please, help them, they do not deserve what will happen to them if I fail. Keep them safe if I fail" Cyrus felt the intensity of what he asked of him. He knew Eraqus wasn't telling him everything, but he couldn't simply say no to his request. Using his hand to gently push Eraqus's hand from his shoulder.

"Don't worry, I'll keep em safe, even if ya don't fail, I mean what are friends for." Cyrus gave him a grin. "You're their master, you want the best for them, I'm sure Terra and Ven will come around, just keep the faith." Cyrus then turned his attention outside. "I should probably be heading home, Cid gets mad if I'm not back before nightfall." Eraqus nodded in response, deciding to walk Cyrus back outside. As they arrived outside, and Cyrus took out the Star Shard, he gave Eraqus one last look, offering him a smile and a thumbs up, wishing him good luck silently, before vanishing in ball of light.

Eraqus's heart was temporarily lightened by Cyrus's words, though once he left, the weight of what he needed to do returned to his heart. Eraqus knew what he needed to do, but he hated it, hated what he needed to do, but if it meant saving Terra and Aqua from Xehanort's horrible schemes, he would take the burden on his heart willingly. Clutching his newly enhanced keyblade in hand, he could only hope that once the time came, he would not falter, that come the end of this the Light won in the end, and that Terra and Aqua would eventually forgive him for what he needed to do.

Chapter Text

Once Cyrus managed to get back to Radiant Garden, he was welcomed back by Cid, who was finishing up details on Leon's gift. Cid waved him over, Cyrus looking over his shoulder, seeing that he had put the weapon together nicely. Cid then told him that was going to check in for the night, and that he'd be back come morning. Cyrus bid Cid farewell, and sat down at his bench. Cid locked the door behind him, leaving Cyrus in the quiet workshop by himself. He couldn't help, but feel like Eraqus wasn't telling him everything, but he couldn't tear himself up over not asking, he did promise him that he would help keep Aqua, Terra, and Ventus safe, though he has no idea what Terra and Ventus actually look like. He couldn't really focus on that, he felt that if he was to help Aqua and her friends, he'd need to be able to last as long as them in a tough battle.

Walking over to the kitchen, he pulled free a small cauldron, one he had gotten from Radiant Garden's own resident wizard, Merlin. The two had actually hit it off surprisingly well when they first met, Merlin usually inviting him over for tea, or calling him if Yuffie had swiped one of his books while he wasn't looking. He was also the one who took it upon himself to train Aerith and Leon in the arts of magic, as well as teaching Cyrus numerous recipes for potions, ranging from ethers for Aerith and Leon, to potions for himself, Cyrus knew how to make whatever they might need. Filling the cauldron with water from the sink, he brought it over to low flame of the forge, placing it into the burning embers, allowing it to begin to come to a boil. While that was heating up, he set about tracking down both the recipe book, and the required ingredients. Finding the book between Yuffie's 'Ninjas and You" training book, and Aerith's Language of Flowers book. Flipping through the book, until he came upon the recipe for megalixirs, once he had the page open, he quickly found what he was looking for. Walking over to where he kept the gems and crystals he used for his more general work. Pulling several of each of what he needed, he brought it over to the cauldron, placing the materials on the table closest to him, before pulling a chair close to the fire. Opening the recipe book to the proper page, and resting it on his knee, he begin to read off the instructions on the page. Waiting for the cauldron to come to a boil, he found the old stirring spoon that Merlin gave him for use in the cauldron. Once the water had come to rolling boil, he began to add one of each ingredient, save the frost crystals, the crystals seemingly melting away in the boiling water soon after he added them. The water changing from clear to a deep violet color.

Adding the frost crystals next, the boiling water, began to steam as the frost crystals clashed with the heat, melting into the boiling brew, changing it from its deep violet color, to more of a deep blue, similar to Aqua's hair if he had to draw comparisons. Dropping into it the remaining Wellspring Crystals, they remained solid far longer than the others, not melting away like the others before it, but seemingly fading into the brew slowly, changing the color from deep blue, to a light green, to a grey color. Reading the instructions one more time, he added the remaining materials, fading and mixing into the brew, slowly changing the grey color to a shining golden color. Stirring vigorously, until the shining golden color, faded slightly, until all that remained was what looked like liquid gold. Allowing the brew to simmer a bit, he went over to several cabinets by the kitchen, pulling out numerous small bottles. Carefully bringing the bottles back over to the cauldron, he placed them onto the side table. Taking the lid off of one, and slowly dipping it into the simmering liquid. Once the bottle was nearly full with the golden brew, he placed the lid back on, as soon as he did, the bottle shined and changed form in his hand, become more of sphere, as golden as the brew inside it, covered with intricate designs, the lid now shaped more like a crown. One down, several dozens to do.

Not long after, he began to store the megalixirs into his satchel, always a good thing to have on hand. Merlin had told him megalixirs were the most useful potion to brew, its recipe allowing for several bottles of the potent brew. Taking the cauldron out of the heat, and carefully bringing it to the sink, allowing it cool before he set about cleaning it. Once he was done cleaning what he had used, he sat down at the kitchen table, allowing himself time to think. So much had happened as of late. The Unversed, Mickey coming back, Aqua, even meeting Eraqus again. Something was happening that was beyond his knowledge, but he was determined to help one way or another, even if it killed him. Well maybe not if it killed him, he wouldn't Cid and the kids through that. Leaning back and crossing his arms behind his head, he looked out the kitchen window, staring up at the stars, one in particular, that shined brighter then the others. Yet, while he was staring at it, it vanished, completely, just blinking out of existence. This caught him off guard, he had never seen a star just disappear like that. Leaping to his feet, he rushed outside.

Staring into the night sky, eyes never leaving the spot where the star had vanished. He then felt something shine in his pocket, pulling out the Star Shard, which nearly blinded him with its shine. "What in the? You've never done this before." Thinking quick, he locked the door to the workshop, as soon as the door had closed, and he locked it, the Star Shard's light covered him. Sending him once again flying through the sky. As he felt the familiar feeling of the space around him, he was beyond confused, he's never seen it act like this, only when Mickey used it. Soon, he felt himself crash into the ground again. Shaking his head, trying to stop seeing stars from the impact. Looking up, he saw a very strange building in front of him. "He can never just send a letter can he." Standing up straight and stretching to pop his back, he started towards the Mysterious Tower.

As he went through the front doors, he began to walk up the seemingly endless stairs the building had. By the time he reached the top, he was panting hard. "Can never" He held his chest catching his breath. "Have a shorter walk up here, always has to be a work out." Once he reached what he hoped was the final door, he took a moment to compose himself. Once he entered the room, he saw the ever unmoving form of Yen Sid, who raised his hand to welcome Cyrus in. In the corner of the room he saw 2 forms he didn't recognize, one looked like a duck magician, and the other a dog guardsman. They looked like they were looking over something, which Cyrus saw as he approached. Mickey, currently unconscious from the looks of it. This caused Cyrus to scramble over to Mickey, almost pushing over the two that were over them.

The duck clearly taking offence to this. "Hey! What's the big idea?!" Cyrus paid him no mind as he looked over Mickey, seeing no physical wounds, taking out one of the megalixirs from his pocket. Lifting the megalixir over Mickey, he crushed it in his hand, allowing the liquid to cover him. Not long after, Mickey's eyes began to open, the two he had pushed aside, quickly doing the same at seeing Mickey awaken. Their voice cried out in unison. "Your Majesty!"

Cyrus rubbed his head, propping himself up on his elbows. "You're welcome I guess." He turned his attention over to Yen Sid, who was looking over to Mickey. As Cyrus stood back up, he asked Yen Sid a question. " So uh, I take it you summoned me here? Star Shard never acts up like it did before I wound up here." Yen Sid nodded silently at him, turning his attention back to Mickey as he began to stir.

As Mickey, finally got up properly, he was helped by the magician and guardsman. Cyrus knelt down to him looking him over. "You feeling alright there? Ya probably shouldn't move all to much, even with that megalixir. Ya might still be a little sore."

Mickey shook his head, smiling at Cyrus's concern. "Gosh, you don't need to worry, I feel fine, just a little dizzy is all, but I'm not even sure what happened, all I can remember was that I was training in a world called Neverland, but then I got hit on the head, and then I woke up here." Both of them turned to face Yen Sid, who waited patiently for their attention. "Master, you wouldn't happen to know what happened would you?"

Yen Sid nodded. "I am to believe it was the person known as Vanitas, who struck you down. As for how you were returned to here safely, you would have Master Aqua to thank for that." Mickey looked glad that it was Aqua that had saved him, but he turned to see Cyrus looked concerned about something. Yen Sid did not miss how he looked either. "You needn't ask where she gone, for she has gone to save her friends at the world known as the Keyblade Graveyard." This did little to clear the concern on Cyrus's face.

He couldn't just not know anymore, he needed to ask, and if anyone was to know it would be Yen Sid. "Forgive me if I come off as rude, but I couldn't be anymore confused as to what exactly is going on, who's this Vanitas, what's the Keyblade Graveyard, and what's going on with Eraqus's apprentices that's so terrible?"

Yen Sid turned to look at Cyrus, nodding. "Yes, I believe now is no time for you to be kept unawares of what has transpired as of late." With a swirl of his hand, Yen Sid summoned a small circle of light, which Cyrus looked at, from the cycle came the appearance of an old man. "This, is Master Xehanort, brother-in-training to Master Eraqus, where Eraqus chose to become a Master, and teach future generations of keyblade wielders, Xehanort became a Seeker, and traveled the worlds in search of their secrets. Master Eraqus confided in me what had happened between them, that Master Xehanort, wished to create a weapon known as the X-blade, and open the path to Kingdom Hearts."

Cyrus couldn't believe that, the man who stood in front of him, projection or not, had such a plan. "I'd say that was crazy, but if you what you say is true, how does this Vanitas fit into things."

Another circle of light appeared, revealing a masked boy, about the age he'd expected Ven to be. "This is Vanitas, from what Master Eraqus has told me, is the manifestation of the darkness from Ventus's heart. Torn from his heart by Master Xehanort, in order to reforge the X-blade, he required them to clash in battle, the X-blade being remade once their bodies became one again." Cyrus went to question him again, but was cut off by Yen Sid. "As for Aqua and Terra, I fear I do not know what Xehanort has planned for them."

Cyrus looked down, he had promised Eraqus he would protect his apprentices. That had reminded him of something. "What about Eraqus, there's no way he'd allow Xehanort to use his apprentices for such a thing!" At the mention of Eraqus, Yen Sid looked down, saddened by something.

"I am afraid, that Eraqus has been struck down, and his world consumed by darkness." Cyrus couldn't believe what he was hearing, he didn't want to, there was no way Eraqus had fallen so easily, had his enhancements of his keyblade not been enough? "He was struck down not only by Xehanort, but by his apprentice Terra as well." Cyrus didn't believe what he said.

"There's no way that could happen, I mean, how could it happen, I'm so confused." Cyrus starting clutching his head, overwhelmed by what he was hearing.

"Master Aqua had much the same reaction, when I told her, but that is how it happened, or so the stars have told me." Yen Sid looked back towards both Cyrus and Mickey. "She left not too long ago, not long before you arrived. She is traveling to the Keyblade Graveyard, to hopefully save Terra, and Ven from Xehanort's machinations." This stirred Cyrus to action.

"Then I'll go and help!" Before he could make it out the door he was stopped.

"To rush headlong unprepared would be foolish, to want to save them is understandable, but allow yourself some time to prepare." Yen Sid stood from his chair, walking over to Cyrus would clearly was wanting to leave as soon as possible. He motioned for Mickey to approach as well. "The desire to help is strong within both of your hearts, I know I cannot stop you from going to help, but I at least can prepare you for what lies ahead." Yen Sid held out his hand, and in his palm appeared a small purple ticket, which he handed to Cyrus, who looked at it befuddled.

"A train ticket? What for?" Cyrus looked over to Mickey for a hint, but it was clear he didn't know either.

"Though you may have no use for it now, there will come a time where you will have need of my help, this will allow to come and find me, regardless of where I am." Yen Sid then turned to Mickey, summoning forth Mickey's keyblade. "As for you, King Mickey, I shall unlock the furthest power I can in your keyblade. That you have the strength to save them from what fate Xehanort has planned for them." Mickey looked up at Yen Sid with awe, before giving a determined nod, and joining Cyrus at the door. Both Cyrus and Mickey gave Yen Sid one final looked before leaving. A sentenced carried by the faintest of voices, reached Cyrus's ears, though he couldn't understand it, he swore it said.

May your heart be your guiding key

As Cyrus decided to skip using the stairs, opting to just jump to the bottom of the tower, Mickey on his shoulders as he did. Landing with ease, Mickey jumping off of his shoulders as he landed. Once outside, Cyrus looked out over the sea of stars above them. "You wouldn't happen to know how to get to this Keyblade Graveyard, would ya?"

Mickey looked down for a moment. "I've been there before, but it was by accident, my Star Shard brought me there." Cyrus crossed his arms, his eyes closed as he thought, before he opened them, looking at Mickey.

"Well I guess now is as good a time as any to learn how to work it properly. Take it out, let's see if we can't get it to listen to you" Cyrus dug through his pockets, pulling out his own Star Shard. Mickey listen and pulled out his own Star Shard. "I have found that, it listens to the user's heart. Bringing them where their heart asks, yet if the heart doesn't know where it wants to go, it will bring them wherever it can. It resonates with the hearts of others as well, making it easier to travel to another, whose heart is tied to yours. Friendship is the tie of which the Star Shard draws upon, it's how I traveled to Eraqus without incident, at least I really hope that's how it works, unlike you I don't use it to jump from world to world, so I could be completely wrong, but its our best shot here." Cyrus looked down at his own Star Shard, still humming with energy. "Just focus on Aqua's heart, we'll have to help her first if we are to save the others."

Mickey nodded, before clutching his Star Shard in his hand. "Just need to focus on her heart, right?" He closed his eyes, focusing deeply into the Star Shard. Cyrus watched closely, when Mickey suddenly opened his eyes. "There!" Within the instant, the light of the Star Shard covered him, sending him flying straight into the sky. Cyrus watching as he did.

"Hey wait up! Ya are not leaving me behind!" Clutching his own Star Shard to his chest, he focused as well, feeling the presence of Aqua, the beating of her heart. The same light covering Cyrus, now followed closely behind Mickey. Trailing behind Mickey, he felt a tightness in his chest. He couldn't fail Eraqus, he needs to save them, he had to.

He felt it as they arrived in the world, a dry air filling his lungs, even if he couldn't see it, he knew these world was not, but a shadow of what it once was, if it ever was anything besides dust and ruin. He braced himself for the landing, easily landing on his feet, seeing Mickey not to far away. Running over to him, they both looked around them. Night had fallen over the world, an odd darkness taking hold. "They're here, I can feel it!" Cyrus looked down at Mickey when he said this, looking around the area they had landed. Something caught his attention, a large pillar of light. 

"If I had to guess." Cyrus rushed off of the area they landed, towards the vanishing pillar, Mickey close behind. They arrived just as the pillar faded, Cyrus seeing the form of Aqua, now donned in armor, laying unconscious on the ground, not far from them, a blonde haired boy, on his knees. Cyrus couldn't tell if he was friend or foe, from where he was. "Mickey, grab Aqua and get her somewhere safe." Mickey agreed, and lifted Aqua up jumping off of the platform, and hiding near one of the rocks nearby. Cyrus looking at the mysterious blonde a moment longer, before joining them. Mickey had Aqua laying back down, as Cyrus pulled out another megalixir from his pocket, crushing it over her head. As the liquid soaked into her, she still didn't stir, but another minute had passed and she awoke with a start.

"Gosh, I'm glad you're okay." Mickey told her, as she began to sit up, Mickey jumping to his feet. She held her head for a moment before remembering something.

"Ven!" She stood up and looked around, Mickey joining her. Cyrus pointed back over to the platform.

"He hasn't move since we got here, might be best if we check on him next." Aqua ran past him and onto the platform, Cyrus and Mickey close behind. Mickey then noticed what Ventus had clutched in his hand, gasping at the sight of the X-blade. Ventus looked up at Aqua, his eyes a bright yellow, and made to stab her with his weapon, only for Mickey to parry the blow, and for Cyrus to force Ventus back, both coming to Aqua's defense in front of her.

"That's not Ven!" The clothes of this person began to change, turning into the same outfit Yen Side had shown them that Vanitas wore.

"Correct, I am not Ventus" His voice sounded as though a mixture of two different voices. "His heart has become a part of mine now." Cyrus heard both Mickey and Aqua gasp at this revelation. He raised the X-blade to the sky as he continued. "This X-blade will open a door- one that leads to all worlds! Then, keyblade-bearing warriors will flock here, from each and every one of them, to battle for light within Kingdom Hearts! And just like the legend say, the Keyblade War will begin!"

Aqua stopped him in his tracks. "Shut up! I'm sick of your nonsense! Give Ven his heart back!" Aqua stood strong next to Mickey and Cyrus , both of whom kept their weapons trained on Vanitas.

Vanitas was the first to strike, rushing forward with the X-blade and forcing them to leap away. He continued to attack after Aqua, managing to deflect Cyrus's attempts to strike him with ease, Mickey using the chance to strike him using one of his orbs of light. Being struck barely managed to make Vanitas flinch, but gave Cyrus enough of a chance to strike him hard with his keyblade, knocking him back, but as he flew back, he suddenly froze midair, vanishing from sight. Mickey noticing too late he appeared just above Cyrus, slamming down the X-blade, large shards of ice bursting forth from the impact, sending Cyrus tumbling forward. Aqua making to attack next, aiming her keyblade and letting out a volley of fire balls. Vanitas made to block them only for another of Mickey's orbs of light to distract him, letting all of the fire balls hit. Vanitas rushed out of the resulting smoke, beginning another string of attacks against Aqua, who parried and blocked as many as she could.

Cyrus stood up, slightly in pain due to the attack, but managed to throw his keyblade hard, spinning in the air as it struck Vanitas, allowing him to rush up and begin his own assault. He managed to get a few blows in before Vanitas once again vanished, but not wanting to repeat before, turned on his heel, and blocked Vanitas's counterattack. Mickey coming in for a flurry of attacks himself. Vanitas leaped into the air, and unleashed several dark bolts of lighting, barely missing Cyrus as he rolled out of the way. As he was about to land, he fell through the ground, into a portal of darkness. Suddenly appearing directly between Aqua and Mickey, spinning out of the portal, knocking Aqua away, as several fire balls hit Mickey. Cyrus rushed Vanitas again and their blades clashed, but Vanitas easily overwhelmed Cyrus and grabbed him by the throat, before using a Fire spell to knock him into a wall. Mickey saw this and made to guard Cyrus while he was down, only for Vanitas to knock him back towards Aqua, who caught him.

Aqua looked at Mickey, and he looked back, silently answering her question. The two then began to float and spin around each other, the tips of their keyblades unleashing countless orbs of light, which began to slam into Vanitas, giving Cyrus enough time to get to his feet and out of danger. Quickly getting back into an offensive stance, Aqua and Mickey doing the same, before they all rushed towards Vanitas at the same time. Vanitas answering with a sweep of the X-blade, unleashing a burst of wind so intense it sent all of them flying. Mickey rolled somewhere behind Aqua, while she slammed into the rock they had used as a hiding spot earlier. Cyrus flying farther off then both of them, landing among countless discarded keyblades. Groaning as he got to his feet, he saw Vanitas begin to approached a down Aqua in the distance. As he made to run to help, he felt a presence behind him. 

Turning, he saw a black cloaked figure, standing not to far from him. "Who are you! You with Xehanort too?!" The figure said nothing, only standing silently before him. "Answer me! Who are you?!" Cyrus was in no mood for this, he had to help Aqua. As he made to ignore the figure, suddenly the mysterious figure was in front of him, yet he hadn't seen him move at all. On reflex, Cyrus swung at the figure, who was back where he once was a moment ago. Cyrus growled at the figure. "Ya know what, fine! I'll deal with you first!" Cyrus wasted no time rushing the figure, and as he swung down his keyblade, the figure's hand was suddenly raised to meet it, a strange blue beam catching his keyblade mid strike. With one single movement, the figure repelled Cyrus, who rolled as he landed, quickly recovering before charging again. As Cyrus's keyblade met the figure's beam dagger, the air was filled with a explosive bang, coming from where Aqua was. As the clash ended, the mysterious figure vanished again, this time planting its foot in Cyrus's stomach, knocking him back again. The figure began to move with such agility Cyrus swore he was seeing more then one of them.

Doing his best to deflect each of the figure's blows, he failed to notice the beams of light carving into the land around it, the very world shaking to its core. Beams continued to carve through the ground, as Cyrus and the figure clashed, Cyrus failing to land even a single blow on the figure. Suddenly once the clash against the figure had ended again. He felt a sudden shift behind him, turning to see a blinding light bursting forth from the platform they fought Vanitas on earlier. "Aqua! Mickey!" As he ran to go help them, he was knocked off his feet, by a sudden wave of energy, hurdling him further and further away from the platform, the light growing more and more intense. Only able to keep from flying any further by jamming his keyblade into the ground, even then the force began to drag his keyblade through the ground. "What is happening!" He asked only to himself. As he watched the light grow closer and closer, he spotted a black form approaching him, above the roaring of the wind, and the sound the light was making, he heard a strange warping sound, turning his head to look behind him, he spotted a strange dark portal. Turning his head back to face the light, he saw for only a moment the figure, before it kicked him in the face, dislodging his keyblade from the ground and sending both him and it through the portal.

Cyrus drifted through the darkness, he felt it all around him, he felt himself begin to drift further and further through the darkness, only awakening when he struck the ground. He felt pain shoot through his body, a scream tearing from his throat, as he writhed on the ground, not noticing the rapidly approaching footsteps, his vision fading in and out as he began to feel numb, only barely making out the pair of concerned amber eyes that looked over him. The last thought echoing through his mind as he lost consciousness, was. 'I failed' 

 

Mickey remained in the Mysterious Tower, with Master Yen Sid, Donald and Goofy going on ahead to ready the Gummi ship home. Yen Sid deciding that Mickey was worthy of the title of Keyblade Master, the only thing keeping him there, was one last lingering question. "I searched every world I could, after she left, but I couldn't find him in any of them, I'm afraid he might have not been able to escape the blast from the X-blade." He looked defeated, Cyrus was the only one he didn't find in the Lanes Between, Aqua and Ven, being the only two he had found. Yen Sid only approached his desk, sitting down in his chair.

"While it is unfortunate that Cyrus could not be found after what had happened, do not lose faith my friend. Cyrus would not perish so easily, though finding him might take time, he will find his way back here." Yen Sid's words eased Mickey's mind.

"Gosh, you're right! He's not one to stay down for long, I'm sure we'll meet him again." Mickey waved his master goodbye one last time, before leaving. Leaving Yen Sid alone in his room. His mind wandering out to the stars.

"My friend, I pray your heart leads you home."

 

Ansem was returning back to the castle, his walk through the town with Ienzo, coming to its end. Once again updating Cid on Cyrus's condition, unfortunately unchanged from when he had found him, nearly a year ago, unconscious, wounded, and with wisps of darkness fleeting from his form. It wasn't long from that day that he had found his newest apprentice, a young man, whose memories are lost to him, Xehanort.  He couldn't quite understand why there was an empty suit of armor next to Xehanort when they first found him. Ienzo, and Even being the two trusted with watching over the unconscious Cyrus. Studying both his and Xehanort's hearts. Ansem taking lead with the studying of Xehanort's heart, while Even and Ienzo handled the care for Cyrus. As he and Ienzo walked hand in hand, both happily eating the Sea Salt Ice Cream they got from Scrooge Mcduck, he felt Ienzo's attention get turned around, turning as well, he saw both Xehanort and Braig walking away, he couldn't quite place it, but something about Xehanort made him uneasy, but he couldn't so simply stop his research into hearts just yet, he only needed more time.

Chapter Text

Ansem was busy pouring over the most recent research notes from Xehanort's heart, he couldn't believe what they were saying. Stating that he held, not one heart, but two, and if the readings were to be trusted even possibly a third as well. He knew Xehanort was a unique individual, finding him besides that armor was evidence to that. He had tried for Cid to ascertain the origin of the armor and the weapon alongside it, yet that option quickly hit a dead end. Cid had told him Cyrus was the one to ask about such things, but given he was still asleep, he couldn't get any answers to the question at the front of his mind. Looking out over his table, covered in the countless research notes, his eyes looking over to his walls, which he had also begun to use for his work, the design for one creation in particular was one he lingered on. A creation called the DtD, or Door to Darkness, one of his own concepts. An Operating System, that covered all of Radiant Garden, one that allowed for their research efforts to be doubled if not tripled. Though it was still coming along, he spent nearly all of his time with it, while still finding time for both his apprentices and people. As he poured over his notes, he heard someone begin to approach his door, the side passage to his laboratory sealing quickly close. 

As the door opened, in walked Ienzo, a sea salt ice cream in both hands. "Ah, Ienzo, have you come all this way just to give me some ice cream?" Ienzo looked down bashfully, nodding as he did. Ansem laughed at his pupils shy nature, before walking over and taking the ice cream from him. "You mustn't worry over me so, take the time to enjoy the day yourself, I know that Even rarely allows you such free time." Ienzo nodded at his words, before leaving the room, leaving Ansem alone with his thoughts once again. This time they went towards the comatose Cyrus. Both Xehanort and Cyrus found mere moments apart, and in completely different situations, it was barely moments after Braig, Dilan and himself had placed Xehanort in the medical wing when Ansem heard Cyrus's scream. It echoed the halls of the castle, but it did not take him long to find him, writhing on the ground, body stained with such darkness it was as if he was consumed by it. Not long after the darkness finally retreated from his form did he fall silent, unmoving as a corpse, save for the subtle rise and fall of his chest, Aeleus being the one who safely got him to the medical wing.

He knew he could not so simply keep those Cyrus lived with out of the loop, he took the burden of telling them upon himself. He promised them updates should any occur, but a year having come and gone since he was found, there were still no changes in his physical state, still sleeping as he did when he arrived, but the information he managed to gather from researching his heart was astounding, but disheartening. It looked as if his heart was in a constant state of being lost to darkness, darkness having seeped into his very body, locking away his heart. This worried Ansem, Cyrus was always a strong willed person, and goodhearted. Never denying any of the numerous commissions asked of him. Seeing his heart locked away in his body in such a way, made him fear for his world, and his people. Most recently, he made a true friend in the king of another world, King Mickey, the same person who had referred him to seek Cyrus's aid with the Unversed, when he first arrived. He and the King spent countless hours talking with one another, but never did he think of allowing him to see Cyrus, both for wanting him to see his friend awake and well, but also for his selfish desire to learn more. He knew what he was doing was wrong, keeping one friend from seeing another, but with every meeting before, he couldn't allow this chance to escape him. He could only hope Cyrus would forgive him when he awoke, if he awoke that is.

Whilst he was lost in thought he didn't notice the door opening until it did. His train of thought derailed at the sight of his friend, the King. "Ah King Mickey, I was not expecting you're visit to happen again so soon. Is something the matter?" Ansem remembered that he still had the ice cream Ienzo had gotten him, taking a bite as Mickey fixed his vest.

"I just wanted to come and see how you were doing, I know I was only here a few days ago, but I was just wanting to make sure my friends were doing well." Mickey's body language betrayed his true emotion, Ansem did not miss this fact.

"You seem troubled my friend, what has caused this" Mickey startled at being called out for what was bothering him, finally relenting.

"I still haven't found Cyrus after all this time, none of the worlds I have visited have ever seen him, I want to make sure he's safe, but I just haven't been able to find him." Ansem knew the pain Mickey was feeling, believing that he had failed his friend. Before Ansem could stand up to approach Mickey, but was stopped as the familiar white hair of Xehanort approached behind him. Mickey noticing him as well.

"Lord Ansem, he has awoken, Even sent me to hear to inform you while he ensured he was able to leave the bed." This caused Ansem to jump from his seat. Mickey was confused as to what he meant, deciding to follow Ansem as he began to follow Xehanort through the halls of the castle. Ansem was both waiting and fearful for this moment, while his research into both his and Xehanort's hearts weren't the most ethical, when it came to Xehanort he could tell if the research methods proved a detriment to his health, but with Cyrus, with his comatose state, the only changes they could find where with his vitals. As they began to grow close to the medical wing, Ansem could hear voices, including one he hadn't heard for over a year. Mickey seemed to notice the voice as well, rushing off ahead. He saw Mickey was staring into the medical wing from the door. As Ansem and Xehanort finally got to the door, Ansem saw the same sight as Mickey. Cyrus sitting up in the bed, talking with Even, who was vigorously taking down notes, occasionally looking over to Ienzo and talking to him as well. Mickey wasting no time in rushing over, and jumping into Cyrus hugging him.

"Easy there! I'm still waking up, but thanks for the hug Mickey." Cyrus returned the hug, placing Mickey back onto the floor. Noticing Ansem and Xehanort approaching as well. Raising a hand to greet Ansem. "Morning! or is it afternoon at this point?" Ansem couldn't help, but have a smile break across his face.

"I am glad you've finally decided to wake up, I hope you are none the worse for wear for your slumber." Cyrus nodded, stretching a bit as he did.

"Gotta admit, was probably the best night's rest I've ever gotten, but why do I feel it was a lot more then me just being asleep" Cyrus scratched the back of his head. Xehanort in the back of the room, looking over several notes that they had on Cyrus. Ansem nodded his head solemnly.

"I am afraid so my friend, you have been in our care for slightly over a year now. We found you unconscious in the main hall of the castle, we have been keeping you under close watch ever since." To say Cyrus was concerned was an understatement. He immediately began to grab at his head, racking his mind, trying to find the last thing he remembered.

"Th-that can't be right, I was..." Cyrus looked over to Mickey. "Mickey what happened to Aqua?!" Mickey jumped at the suddenness of his question, before he looked down, saddened by something.

"I'm sorry, the last time I saw her was after what happened at the Keyblade Graveyard. She went to go help Terra, and then she went missing as well. I've been looking for you ever since" To say Cyrus was stunned would be an understatement, still trying to search his memory for an answer. Ansem placing a hand on his shoulder to ease him.

"Easy my friend, you have just awoken, there is no need to strain yourself so" Cyrus shook his head violently, still trying to remember what happened.

"N-no, I was, I wanted to.." It was clear it was beginning to become painful for Cyrus to remember what happened. "I was gonna..... come and help, but...." A pained growl left him, as he clutched his head tighter. "Something.....happened."

Mickey placed his hand on Cyrus's leg, trying to comfort him. Ansem saw the distress, written plainly on Cyrus's face, turning over to Even for an answer. "The stress of what had happened, coupled with the darkness attempting to overwhelm his heart, is likely affecting his memory. Ienzo! Quickly, go find the suppressants!" Even's voice rang clear, Ienzo quickly nodded, running off to another room. Cyrus started to lessen the grip on his head, the pain of attempting to remember subsiding. 

"I can't remember what happened, just us fighting, and then white, and then I was here." Even continued to write down more notes, sharing a glance with Xehanort, who gave him a nod in return. Cyrus looking over to Xehanort, as he continued to work. "This might be off topic, but is he new? He was kind enough to help me out when I first woke up." Ansem looked over to Xehanort for a moment, Xehanort not paying him any mind.

"Indeed, it was the same day that we had found you, though he was not comatose, he is without any memory, but his name. He is Xehanort, my newest apprentice, and the one I had watching you for most of your slumber, once he was cleared for the apprenticeship of course." Mickey looked over to Xehanort, something on his mind, but he didn't say anything.

"Well then, we're kinda in the same boat. Thank you for watching me while I slept! Hope I wasn't too much of a bother!" Cyrus called over to Xehanort, who turned to face him, nodding at him, before turning back to what he was doing. "But, I've been here for over a year now? Cid is gonna kill me." Ansem shook his head at this.

"I have been keeping Cid updated since you arrived, your young friends came to visit as well, though, I believe her name was Yuffie, she isn't allowed in without constant supervision. " Cyrus nodded at this, figuring Yuffie would get into trouble while he was asleep. Ansem turned to face Mickey. "I apologize for not telling you during your previous visits. I simply did not want you to become disheartened at his state. I hope you can forgive my actions." Ansem bowed his head towards Mickey, pleading for forgiveness.

"Aw-shucks! You don't need to apologize for helping him, I'm just glad he's alright. Oh I can't wait to tell Master Yen Sid." Mickey was certainly happy now, Ansem smiling at his forgiveness. Ansem bid him farewell, walking back down the halls of the castle. Even kept himself busy, looking through each of the charts around the room, Ienzo finally returning, carrying a small bottle. Even taking it from Ienzo with a quiet thank you, he brought it over to Cyrus.

"This is a pain suppressant, if you experience any further pain akin to what you felt a few minutes ago, pour enough into the lid of this bottle and drink it, the pain should fade shortly after, but do not drink more than that, and do not drink it unless you are experiencing that level of pain." With that warning out of the way, Even handed Cyrus the bottle, and followed Ienzo back over to the charts Xehanort was reading. Turning to look at Mickey, Cyrus turned his legs so they dangled off the side of the bed.

"Ya wanna help me find something to give Cid and the kids so they don't get angry when I finally get back?" Mickey smiled and nodded. Cyrus stood up very slowly, feeling the shake in his legs from the lack of use from, but he managed to stand straight up. "I'll follow you, just gonna take this slow."

Mickey and Cyrus began their way out of the castle, coming across Aeleus and Dilan, when they left out the front gates. As they slowly made their way to the city the center, the familiar shout echoed the air, followed by Cyrus's head being knocked to the side, as a disc smacked into it. Cyrus froze where he was, stunned due to the hit, as the sound of footsteps approached. "Ow" Was all Cyrus said as sense returned to him, rubbing the side of his head, as he knelt down and picked up the disc that hit him. Looking up from the disc, he saw the blazing red hair he could never forget, along with the cool blue of his friend.

"No way." Lea stared directly at him, looking at Cyrus like he grew a third head. Isa ran up beside him, stunned at what he saw. Cyrus raised the disc up and waved it at the two.

"Lose something?" Lea and Isa rushed over to Cyrus, Lea hugging him while Isa just watched. "Man, I am getting a lotta hugs today, but I do not mind." Tossing the disc back to Isa, who easily caught it, he returned Lea's hug.

After they separated, Lea began to ask Cyrus several questions. "What happened man! Yuffie told us that you were laid up in the castle, in coma of all things!"

"I'd tell ya if I knew myself. It's a blur. I only woke up a bit ago, kinda looking for something to break the ice, so Yuffie and the others don't hate me for sleeping for so long." Isa rolled his eyes at what he said.

"They'll be mad that you made them worry so long no matter what, though I'd say ya should get them ice cream. Mr. Mcduck has been selling Sea Salt for awhile now." Lea jumped next to Isa, taking his disc from him.

"Yea, they're actually pretty good, come on we'll show ya!" Lea quickly ran off towards the shopping district, Isa rolling his eyes and following after. Cyrus gave Mickey a glance, and he gave him a look back before they both ran after the two boys. Running through the district, they came across the two talking with Scrooge. Who took notice of the two of them approaching.

"Ah laddie! I knew ye'd wake up sooner or later! Glad to see ye are in good health. Now here." Scrooge handed a bar of ice cream to Cyrus, who took a bite. Cyrus seemed to mull over the flavor for a bit, while Lea and Isa talked to each other while eating their own bars. "Oh the house, but ye are gonna need to buy others from now on."

Cyrus swallowed and was delighted with the flavor. "Salty sweet, not something I would think would go together, but hey it's pretty good! I'll take 4 more, need em for Cid and the kids." Scrooge nodded and made to grab 4 more from the stall, while Cyrus pulled out his munny pouch to pay for it. After paying for the bars, and saying goodbye to Lea and Isa, Mickey and Cyrus made their way back to the workshop. Mickey enjoying his own bar.

"Have to wonder where he got the idea for sea salt ice cream anyway, seems everyone in town loves it" Cyrus bit into his own again, carefully as to not drop the four other bars he carried. Mickey bit into his own as well, before he answered.

"Well uh, Scrooge and I have actually been travelling from world to world to set up a proper form of transit, I don't need to use the Star Shard anymore, Chip and Dale really out did themselves with the Gummi Ship." Cyrus looked over to Mickey.

"So no more crashing about the stars anymore?" Cyrus finished off his bar, storing his stick in his pocket.

"oh gosh, you should check that stick before you throw it away! Scrooge told me that a select few bars have a winner stick!" Cyrus then carefully took the stick back out of his pocket before inspecting it, putting it back when he didn't find anything.

"There a price for winning or is it just Scrooge's business sense? Also there's something different about you, I can't quite pin down." Cyrus tried to focus on Mickey, trying to figure out what felt so different about him. Then it clicked, he smelled differently, the same as Yen Sid, Eraqus, and Aqua. He gave off the smell of magic, but not the offensive based magic, but a more whimsical type of magic, something he learned from Yen Sid, Mickey was capable of if he focused.

"No way, you're a keyblade master too!" Cyrus went to hug Mickey, but remembered his hands were full as it was and didn't. "I can't believe it, gone a year and you're a master now!" Mickey started laughing alongside Cyrus as they made their way back to his workshop. Standing outside the workshop, Cyrus felt strange, it didn't look any different from when he had left, to him for what felt like only a day ago, but in reality was an entire year. He left them without a word for an entire year, he felt guilt stewing in his heart. Mickey noticed his friends discomfort.

"Come on, they've missed ya, I just know it." With that little push, Cyrus approached the door, turning the nob carefully, given his hands were still filled with the ice cream. As the door opened slowly, he heard the conversation from inside as he gently opened the door. From the sounds of it Yuffie was chatting with Leon, about having nailed her throw of her shurikens. Aerith was in the kitchen, likely making lunch for everyone, while Cid was messing with something at his workbench. As the door opened further, Leon was the first to notice it, turning his eyes over to it, only for them to widen seeing who was at the door. Yuffie eyes followed where Leon was looking, having a similar reaction, only instead of her eyes widening in shock, she charged towards the door, tackling Cyrus into a hug, sending the ice cream bars he was carrying into the air, which Mickey quickly grabbed to prevent them from hitting the ground.

Skidding to a stop, Cyrus felt Yuffie hug him tightly, not wanting to let go out of fear of him disappearing. He could hear Yuffie's muffled sobs as well. Looking up he saw Leon run out the door, followed by Aerith checking what was causing the noise. Cyrus didn't know what to say, so all he did was hug Yuffie back, slowly trying to back to his feet, Yuffie still hanging onto him. Aerith had her hand over her mouth, likely to keep from crying as she approached them, Cyrus could hear Cid grumbling from inside the workshop, slowly approaching the door himself. Cyrus looked over at Leon, who for once didn't look his normally cold and indifferent self, but looked genuinely happy to see him, as for Aerith, she looked about ready to cry. Mickey still stood by the door, smiling at the reunion, when he saw Cid look through the door. As Yuffie finally let go of Cyrus, and he finally stood up properly. Looking between Yuffie, Aerith, and Leon. Just as he began to speak he was struck in the head with a well thrown hammer, stunning him again.

The hurried footsteps of Cid approached him, Holding another hammer angrily in front of Cyrus. "If you ever up and disappear like that again I'll make sure ya don't wake up! Come back in the morning to find you gone, no note, no nothing! And then next thing I know, you're in a coma for the next year! Do ya know what ya put us through?!" Cyrus was still a little stunned from taking a hammer to the head, but he felt the weight of what his actions. Everything Cid was saying was true, even though he didn't know his actions would end with him being comatose, it was still his burden to bear. Looking at Cid, Cyrus got onto his knees and bowed his head.

"I can't apologize for what I did, for what I put you all through. I had gone to help a friend of mine, had I known that it would have ended with me ending up in that state, I would have been more careful then I was. I can't excuse what I did, I can't excuse what I put you all through, all I can tell you is that I will do better." Cyrus kept his head down, waiting for Cid or any of them to say anything.

Cyrus heard Cid release a deep sigh, then felt a hand on his shoulder, looking up to see Cid crouching down to look at him. "I can't blame you doing what your heart believed was right, but please you have to take better care of yourself. I know Aerith couldn't hate ya for something happening ya had no control over, Leon couldn't blame you for wanting to help your friends, and Yuffie can't hate you because she doesn't have it in her to hate someone. Now stand up, crouching like this ain't good for my knees." Cid offered his hand to Cyrus, who took it and stood up. He then proceeded to hug Cid, prompting Yuffie and Aerith to join in. Leon choosing instead to watch the exchange, a small smile graving his lips. Mickey seeing the reunion couldn't help, but smile as well. Soon after, Cid broke up the hug. "Right enough of that, day is still young after all" Mickey approached the group, holding out the Sea Salt Ice Cream bars for each of them. "Ice Cream? Was this Lea's idea?"

Cyrus scratched the back of his head. "Had a feeling ya might've been mad at me, and he suggested it." All Cid did was smirk as he took one of the bars, Yuffie grabbing her own and one for Aerith, Leon walking quietly over, grabbing his own from Mickey. Heading back into the workshop, Cyrus looked around and saw that it changed more inside than it did outside, his workbench was untouched even after so much time had past. It was clear Cid had made improvements, the forge actually looked brand new, the materials seemed to be sorted better, no longer scattered around the workshop. He also saw the finished product of his gift for Leon. He had to admit Cid outdid him when it came to putting the weapon together. An idea crossed his mind at the sight of the blade. Looking down at his hand, he clenched his fist. Yuffie began to pull him around the workshop, wanting to show him her newest ninja tools, the finished gift he and Cid were working on. 

Mickey and Cid seemed to be having a chat, while Aerith went back to finishing what she was cooking, Leon walking over to the table his gunblade was resting against. Seeing him pick up the blade and wield it awkwardly, it solidified the idea Cyrus had. Walking over to Leon and placing his hand on his shoulder, as Leon turned to face him Cyrus sprung his idea on him. "I know I just got back, but I have a question." Leon wanted to know what he had in mind, judging from his expression. "I want to know if you would let me train you in using your weapon properly, that why you can help me keep the others safe."

Leon looked back to his weapon, sitting idly against the table, before he turned back to Cyrus, a determined flame in his eyes. That gave Cyrus all the answer he needed. Walking towards the door, Leon following after he grabbed his gunblade.  "I'm gonna go show Leon something, we'll be back before nightfall, I swear it!" Cyrus opened the door and let Leon out first, following after him. Not a word was shared between the two as they walked towards a secluded area to train. Arriving not long after, Cyrus summoned Wanderlust, walking over to the edge of the area, leaning against the copper piping that doubled as railings. Watching Leon get into a rather unsteady stance, ready to begin training. He looked over Leon, from his stance, to how he held his gunblade. It was clear Leon wasn't trained in the use of it, but he could also tell, Leon wanted to learn, and who was Cyrus to deny him that. He couldn't allow himself to fail them again, he needed to prepare them for what awaited them. He failed Eraqus, and he failed himself. Aqua and her friends were lost. He couldn't let that happen again, not when he could make a difference. He'd train Leon, so that he could protect Yuffie and Aerith if he failed again. If he was to fail in protecting them, he wouldn't allow them to be unable to protect themselves. There was a fire in his heart now, a resolve to never fail to protect those he cherished ever again. Even if this was an impossible task, he would still under take it either way. He would take that burden gladly, if it meant protecting his family.

Chapter Text

From the moment he began to train Leon, time began to fly for Cyrus. Choosing to take care of his family over his work, he spent the remainder of his first year back doing his best to tutor Leon and Yuffie. Most of Yuffie's training was basically deflecting each of her shurikens when threw them, and helping her keep from being hurt while fighting. Leon's training mostly consisted of learning how to properly wield his weapon, from stance to swing. Though he only helped Leon get a better grip of how to use his Fire magic by being a training dummy for him, as he didn't know how to control magic in the slightest. Aerith mainly supervised their training, being more helpful with training the two of them in magic than Cyrus could. Soon the year came to an end, and another started, Mickey still came by whenever he visited Radiant Garden, confiding in him about what he was doing lately, from his conversations with Ansem, to the happenings back in his own world of Disney Castle, an odd name for a castle, but Cyrus wasn't bothered by it. Mickey also kept him up to date with information from Yen Sid, if anything involving Aqua came up, Mickey made sure to let Cyrus know. As time continued to pass by, Cyrus continued his training with Leon and Yuffie, both improving everyday.

Mickey came to him one day, after having once again visited Ansem the Wise. Cyrus was just relaxing after having trained with Leon, who was learning to enhanced the gunblade's power and length, which resulted in both coming home singed from it backfiring. As Cyrus placed a bag of ice on his head, he noticed the door to the workshop opening. Turning to look at it, he saw Mickey walk in, waving hello to Cid who was working on his design of a larger capacity Gummi ship, taking the design Mickey had given him from Chip and Dale. "Yo! Good to see ya in town again. So how're things?" Mickey smiled and nodded, sitting down across from him.

"Everyone's been doing just fine, Minnie's been handling things well while I've been travelling, Donald and Goofy have been making sure things are fine back at the castle as well." Cyrus noticed something, Mickey's voice didn't seem to have the same chipper tone to it, it seemed like he was bothered by something.

"Got something on ya mind? Ya looked bothered by something." Mickey looked up at Cyrus, before reluctantly nodding.

"Master Yen Sid has told me that the Heartless have been appearing more and more around the worlds, I can't help but worry that they will affect how stable the worlds are. I even brought it up with Ansem the Wise, and even he seems concerned about it, but that's not what's exactly bothering me." Cyrus cocked his head to the side.

"Than what is bothering ya? It's weird not seeing ya as chipper as always." Cyrus said, as he got up to fetch a glass of water.

"It's about Ansem's newest apprentice, you've met him too, that Xehanort, I can't help, but feel like he's familiar in more ways than just his name." Cyrus got back to the table with his glass, taking a sip before talking back.

"Yeah, have to admit, that him and Master Xehanort share the same name is way too weird, but he hasn't done anything out of the ordinary, at least as far as Ansem and his countless scientific tests are concerned." Cyrus drank more of his water, as Mickey seemed to mull over his words.

"Its just.......he looks strangely like Terra, but it feels more like deja vu." Cyrus scratched his chin as Mickey spoke, considering his words.

"Well I haven't met Terra before, only Aqua and Ven so I can't help ya there, but how about this. If this feeling of yours doesn't go away, bring it up with Ansem, he's known Xehanort longer than either of us. If anyone could figure out if something was up, it'd be him." Cyrus turned his attention out the kitchen window, seeing Yuffie run by with Lea and Isa. "As for the heartless, I know I said I couldn't so simply leave my world like before anymore, but if they prove to be of issue around here, I'll reconsider. Can't let them run rampant in my home now can I?" Mickey nodded, looking determined to talk with Ansem about Xehanort. Mickey said his goodbyes, before making back for Ansem's castle. As Cyrus finished his water, he went over to Cid still pouring over the design he had for the Gummi Ship. Cyrus grabbed a chair, pulling it over to Cid, sitting down to help him design the Gummi ship.

Another year passed, and still Cyrus hadn't gotten a single request from Ansem or any of the apprentices, in fact the castle had seemingly gone quiet. No matter how long he looked, or where he looked, no one from the castle ever seemed to leave, even Kairi had seemed to vanish. A worrisome feeling settled in Cyrus's gut, with silence coming from the castle, many began to panic, worrying that something had happened to Ansem the Wise, but nearly the same time that the panic began, Braig, one of his apprentices, came out and stated Ansem had taken ill, and that they were working on remedying his situation. The public was calmed by this, but still greatly worried for Ansem the Wise. Cyrus was the one to break the news to Mickey, who was possibly more worried about him than even the public was. Cid had managed to finish the Gummi ship, Scrooge being the one financing its completion. Cyrus was walking through the increasingly quiet town, it seemed with every passing the day, the town grew quieter and quieter. As he passed through the town center, he stopped, looking up the stairs towards the castle. Something was wrong, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Shaking his head, he went to continue on his way, when he heard a voice.

"Yo, Cyrus long time no see." Turning around, he saw the one person he didn't enjoy seeing. Braig, Ansem the Wise's apprentice, and sharpshooter. Cyrus didn't know why he rubbed him the wrong way, but if he had to guess, it was probably his pony tail. Braig approached Cyrus slapping him on the back. "Haven't seen you round lately, heard through the grapevine you've been busy teaching those kids ya hang round how to fight." Cyrus quietly nodded, wanting this conversation to end as soon as possible. "Been busy myself at the castle, with Ansem the Wise being sick like he is, Xehanort's taken over pretty well." Braig walked around Cyrus, he couldn't help, but feel like he was keeping his only eye on him. "In fact, he told me to look round town, didn't tell me why, but who am I to question him eh?" Braig then walked away from him, waving as he did, not turning around to address him. "Take care now, can't have you winding up back in coma now."

Deciding to disregard Braig's words, he walked back through the town, seeing that several of the shops in the shopping district were now abandoned. It was bothering to see his home beginning to get more and more empty. As he walked past the moogle's shop, he saw that Scrooge was once again selling his Sea Salt ice cream bars, yet it was clear there weren't enough people in town to actually sell them. Deciding he wanted to get his mind off of Braig, he walked over and bought one. He leaned against the wall of the shop, eating his bar in peace. His mind went back to the increasingly deserted feel the town had. He heard Scrooge sigh as he walked over to Cyrus. "A crying shame, ever since Sir Ansem fell sick, I canna sell enough bars to make ends meet. The town's gotten far too quiet as well, might need to travel to another world, see if I can't sell these better elsewhere. I canna just stop making em, these sell like hot cakes, they just need the right atmosphere and they'll be my greatest seller again in no time." Cyrus nodded at him, biting into his ice cream.

"Yeah, its gotten almost creepy with how quiet the town's gotten, hope Ansem gets well soon, the people really do care about him." Cyrus bit again into his ice cream, Scrooge looking slightly defeated at his lackluster sales. Just as Cyrus finished his bar, he took a look at his stick, finding it wasn't a winner. As he stopped leaning on the wall he heard what appeared to be two people running towards them, seeing the familiar red and blue hair of Lea, and Isa.

"Wait, tell me ya haven't sold out yet?!" Lea looked over to Scrooge, who shook his head in response. Lea pumped his fist. "Sweet! Told ya I'd get us some before we tried again today!" Isa crossed his arms as he got closer.

"And I told you that he wouldn't have been sold out, and that we didn't need to rush so much, you know how my father is about this." Lea waved his hand dismissively, Isa looking over to Cyrus. "Good afternoon Mr. Cyrus." Cyrus answered in kind, as Scrooge came out with two bars of Sea Salt, Lea paying him before swiping them from him, handing one to Isa.

"Where you two going in such a rush, trying to sneak back in again? You've been at it for 3 years now." Lea looked cross at Cyrus as he said this.

"I know we're gonna get in this time! Yuffie's been showing us some new ways in." Cyrus sighed, of course Yuffie would be doing that, he'd talk to her about it later.

Cyrus then had an idea come to mind. "Why don't you two just ask to become apprentices? With Ansem being sick, apparently Xehanort's been in charge, so maybe he'll let ya join and, I don't know deliver papers or something." Lea's eyes widened at the idea, looking over to Isa, who seemed to be going over the pros and cons in his mind.

"Cyrus you're a genius! If we become apprentices, we'll be able to look around the castle as much as we'd like!" Lea was practically jumping for joy. Isa then noticing someone approaching.

"So you'd two pipsqueaks wanna become apprentices huh?" Cyrus quickly turned to look at Braig as he walked over. Had he been following him? Lea and Isa's attention was drawn to him as he inspected both of them. "Way too scrawny to handle the more heavy lifting jobs, don't look smart enough to work in the labs, what to do what to do?" Braig held his hand to his chin, foot tapping against the ground in thought. Lea looked over to Isa, desperate to get Braig to let them in.

"Come on! We'll show ya we're good for something, just give us other thing and we'll do it!" Braig's eyes widened, a grin forming at his lips.

"Gotta admit, that's the kinda attitude I like! Tell ya what kids, swing by the castle tomorrow, after making sure its fine with ya folks first, and I'll see what kinda jobs I can get you two. Might get stuck with the icky jobs though, hope ya don't mind it." Lea shook his head at Braig's statement.

"Give us whatever you've got we'll do it! Right Isa?" Isa gave a quick nod, Braig's smirk never left his face.

"Well like I said, clear it with ya folks first before anything." Braig began to walk off, Cyrus approaching before he got too far.

"You aren't going to work them too hard, too quick are ya?" Braig had a bemused look about him.

"As if! If they want a place among our ranks, they've gotta be willing to prove it, but I ain't just gonna throw em to the sharks on the first day. Do you really have so little faith in me?" Braig's unnaturally bright yellow eye stared into Cyrus. Cyrus let out a sigh.

"Sorry, sorry, its just things have been tense lately, with Ansem the Wise being sick, and Lea and Isa, they're good kids, Lea might not be the brightest at times, and Isa might need to lighten up more, but they cover each others weaknesses, I'd say keep em together, they work best that way. Sorry for distrusting ya like that." Braig smirked again at this placing a friendly hand on Cyrus's shoulder.

"Hey no problem, I'll make sure they're taken care of, How's bout you and I talk more later. I'll see if I can convince Xehanort to let ya in come the weekend, he doesn't want too many people coming and going, ya know what with Ansem's illness and everything, don't want it to spread now do we?" Cyrus accepted Braig's offer, bidding him goodbye, before he began his walk back to the workshop. Not noticing Braig keeping his eye on him until he was completely out of sight.

Once he made it back to the workshop, the sun had begun to set for the day. He arrived back just as Aerith began to cook dinner, Yuffie currently helping Cid with something he was working on in the back, while Leon polished his gunblade. Saying hello to everyone, he set about helping Aerith with dinner. Once they had all eaten dinner, Cyrus remained behind in the workshop while the rest of them went home for the night. If Braig could get him to see Ansem, it might help calm Mickey's fears, as well as his own.

Soon, the weekend was near, Cyrus not having heard back from either Lea or Isa after they went to the castle. Braig had swung by to the tell him that he'd be able to come in the next day, but tomorrow couldn't come soon enough. The atmosphere of the town had gotten even worse, even to the point that even the sky seemed darker with each passing day. Cid was worried now as well, something in his gut had him begin to prep the Gummi Ship, telling Cyrus something just didn't feel right about the town anymore, even Yuffie, Aerith and Leon felt it. As Cyrus walked through the now completely barren streets, his gaze drifting towards the castle. As he walked, he failed to notice someone approach him from behind. Only feeling a hand on his shoulder, did he react. Leaping away, drawing his keyblade in defense. He soon realized the one who had grabbed him wasn't a potential foe, but Merlin, looking quite concerned himself.

"Now, is that anyway to greet me?" Merlin did look rather upset at Cyrus drawing his weapon against him. Cyrus quickly unsummoning his keyblade, scratching at his chin.

"Sorry, ya scared me. Ya coulda called out ya know." Merlin crossed his arms.

"True, though what a sad state we are in, if we cannot even greet our friends without fear." Merlin gaze drifted towards the castle. "I sense something terrible brewing inside those castle walls, something that is the cause of this horrid gloom over the town" Cyrus followed his gaze to the castle.

"Something's wrong, very wrong." He didn't see it, but Merlin nodded his head at what he said.

"I couldn't agree, but as to what it is, I sadly have no clue." Merlin then let out a small gasp, before search through his sleeves, pulling out what looked like a gummi block. "This gummi block has the location of a safe haven, a world where one might go in times of great desperation. Though I hope we need not use it, having your friend Cid install it into your Gummi Ship, might be of great help." Cyrus took the gummi block from Merlin.

"Thanks, I'll make sure we get it in tonight, you take care of yourself you hear?"

"This wizard's still got plenty of tricks up his sleeves, but thank you for your concern." Merlin gave Cyrus a slight bow before he returned into his home. Cyrus began his way back to the workshop, Cid believing it best that everyone stay at the workshop for the time being. Getting back inside, he found Yuffie, out like a light at his desk, Aerith sleeping on the couch, and Leon barely keeping his eyes open at the kitchen table. Making sure to keep quiet, he gently placed one of the spare blankets onto Leon, covering him when he finally fell asleep. Walking into the back of the workshop, he found Cid surrounded by 5 empty cups of coffee. Approaching Cid he found him zoned out while holding some of the tools, he used for working on the Gummi Ship. Gently poking Cid awake, and keeping Cid from smacking him in the head from waking up so suddenly.

Silently he pointed towards the workshop, telling Cid to go to bed with a mere look. Cid reluctantly handing his tools over to Cyrus, groggily walking into the workshop. Cracking his knuckles he set to work getting the navigation gummi piece into place. Working through the night, not noticing he was growing more and more tired while he worked. Once he finished, he felt the exhaustion hit him like a ton of bricks. Collapsing to the floor before he could get into the workshop.

 

To say he woke with a start would be an understatement, as he opened his eyes, he felt as if he was in an earthquake, the ground shaking so violently around him, he could barely stand up. Rushing into the workshop, he saw everyone else woke up the same away, Cid falling out his chair, looking frantically around the workshop. Leon had already woken Aerith up, while Yuffie barely managed to get over to them. Rushing outside, Cyrus looked towards the castle. Plumes of darkness burst out of it nearly all over it. Darkness was also bursting out of the ground as well, strange small creatures with piercing yellow eyes emerging from the dark pillar erupting from the ground. Cyrus quickly summoned his keyblade running at them. Cid managing to get to the door. "Cyrus! What in blazes is going on!" Cyrus smashed into the ground with violent force, sending the small imps creatures flying. "These things are heartless! Mickey told me about them! Get everyone onto the Gummi ship and get out of here! I have a location where you'll be safe already installed!" Cyrus quickly blocked the swipe from a larger form of darkness. A Neoshadow from what Mickey had told him.

"Where do you think you're going! We've all gotta get outta here!" Cid noticed the approach of the Shadows, using his own lance to bat them away. Cyrus turned to shout at him when what appeared to be a tornado of Shadows, burst through a building next to him, forcing him further away. "There's no time, get them and get outta here! I'll catch up!" Cid tried to call after Cyrus, but was forced back inside as he noticed one of the Neoshadows attacking Leon, who destroyed it with a blast of fire.

"Reckless idiot." He muttered underneath his breath, before turning back to the others. "Everyone into the Gummi Ship and move it!" Cyrus ran like a madman through the town, the tornado of heartless close behind. Batting away whatever Shadows tried to attack him, he made it to the town center. Wasting no time, he beelined it straight up the stairs, crushing several Neoshadows that tried to stop him. Once he was at the top of the castle stairs, he ran for the gates, determined to figure out what was happening, only for the gates to the castle to be blown open, another storm of heartless pouring out, sending him flying, and tumbling through the air, landing hard back at the town center. Struggling to his feet, Cyrus watched as darkness began to surround him, leaving him surrounded by pitch black darkness. Only for the piercing yellow eyes of Shadows and Neoshadows to begin to appear in it. Holding Wanderlust in both hands he readied himself.

"Well come on!" He began to strike wildly at whatever he could, destroying each heartless he hit. Despite his furious assault, they continued to appear, every now and again, managing to wound him. He was letting his anger guide him, shattering countless heartless with his keyblade. Unknowingly, the darkness surrounding him began to fade. Still blinded by his fervor, he kept swinging even when the heartless stopped appearing, only stopping when he heard the sound of something being warped behind him. Turning on his heel, he saw a man in a black coat. A striking pain echoing through his head, one memory coming into his mind, with stunning clarity. 'You.........You were the one from before!" He gripped his keyblade again. "Back for round two?!" The black coated figure held out its hand, the same blue beam dagger appearing in his hand. "Alright! I'll wipe the floor with you!"

Cyrus leaped directly towards the figure, slamming into the beam dagger like before. Catching the figure's foot in his hand, twisting it in a way to throw the figure off balance. Granting him the chance to slam his keyblade in the figure's gut, only for it to vanish from sight, only for it to kick him in the back of the head. Righting himself before he hit the ground, he used the momentum to thrust his keyblade towards the figure. The figure keeping just out of reach after each thrust, jumping onto the tip of the keyblade at the last thrust, backflipped kicking Cyrus in the jaw. The figure seemingly flew forward, beginning to slash at him with his beams, Cyrus barely avoiding each swing, blocking the last strike, he countered with another blow into the figure's stomach. The figure once again vanished from sight, appearing at the base of the stairs towards the castle. Holding its hand to the sky, it snapped its fingers, another tremor shook the earth, a tornado of heartless burst out of the stairs behind it, swirling through the air, before charging directly towards him. Cyrus made to block it, the heartless clashing against his keyblade, the screech of heartless against keyblade pierced the air. Once the tornado of heartless finally got off of his keyblade, he charged towards the figure, only for the tornado to swirl back around, piercing into the ground in front of him forcing him back.

Cyrus felt energy seep into Wanderlust, twirling it around, slashing what few heartless launched at him. Taking hold of Sky Schism, he slashed through the tornado, As he lands, the figure vanished, Cyrus quickly parried the downward kick, slashing the figure, forcing it farther back. Despite landing hits on it, it made no clear indication that it was actually harmed. Suddenly, he was forced back by another kick, directly into the tornado of heartless, tearing into his back, before he managed to get away from it. Watching the tornado swirl violently around, tearing through countless buildings, he felt energy further gather in his keyblade, it beginning to swirl around him by itself. As the tornado of shadows, made to strike him again it appeared in its path, spinning around faster and faster as the tornado closed in. As it and the tornado clashed, he saw the heartless that comprised it begin to get shredded by the spinning scythe, free him up to go hand to hand with the mysterious figure. Leaping forward, he felt his fist connect with the figure's leg, who vanished again, before beginning its own assault again, this time several copies of it appearing as well. As their beam daggers slashed into him, he held his guard, dodging around what he could and countering when he had the chance. Whenever his fist found its target it was never the true figure, only a copy. Several more copies appearing around him, swarming much like the heartless did. Just as they closed in to strike, his scythe was back in his hands, himself, poised and ready for his strongest attack. 

Not wanting to risk getting injured when against such a foe, he allowed for the figures to close in, closer and closer, until he let loose Shin Zantetsuken, all of the copies vanishing as his keyblade reverted back to normal. Looking up he saw the figure standing back at the base of the stairs again, unmoving, and seemingly unaffected. Just as Cyrus readied himself again to strike, the tornadoes of heartless that were tearing apart Radiant Garden, converged above the figure, swirling and combining into one single immense storm of darkness. The figure pointed towards him. another more condensed whirlwind of shadows bursting forth from the storm, quickly he made to block the attack. As it clashed once again with his blade, he lost sight of the figure, struggling to push back the storm, he held his ground, Wanderlust withstanding the whirlwind.

Until, it didn't. His keyblade shattered, pieces of Wanderlust scattering in front of his eyes, a moment that lasted an eternity. Then, pain, he was caught in the chaos of the whirlwind, he could feel each heartlesses claw tear into him. It felt like years until he was thrown from the raging storm, body slamming violently against the ground, the shattered hilt of Wanderlust, piercing the ground beside him. He couldn't move, he could barely breathe, everything hurt. His vision fading in and out as the same mysterious figure slowly approached him. As it got beside him, all he could do was stare at it, as it slowly raised its beam dagger at him, wanting to finish the job. Closing his eyes, he accepted his fate, only for his fate to change. Just as the figure struck down, his body vanished into a ball of light, his Star Shard answering his heart's plea for safety. Unknowingly, he was cast through the stars, far from his home, not to return to it, for sometime.

 

Crashed through a ceiling was how he awoke, barely able to move, no sound escaping him save for pained groans. He didn't notice someone approaching until they were directly above him. All he could do was stare at them, as they slowly began to search through his damaged satchel, pulling out a small golden bottle, which they crushed above him. Slowly, he felt himself able to move again, yet the pain didn't fade until long after. He found his voice as he sat up staring at the strange red robed figure in front of him. The only thought in his mind, came from his lips. "Who are you?" The figure held out a hand to him, helping pull him to his feet. Looking in the single amber eye of the robed man's covered face, he got his answer.

"You may called me DiZ."

Chapter Text

The sound of footsteps echoing the abandoned halls of the manor was all the sound that was shared between this DiZ and Cyrus. The effects of the megalixir had begun to reduce the pain he was in, but it was clear he was no shape to be travelling. His clothes were shredded, his satchel in tatters, his keyblade shattered. He could barely even remember his name, everything was a blur for him. The only memories that he could possibly recall were of Cid and his family. He also faintly recalled the name Ansem, but it was vague at best. He looked quietly over to DiZ, who continued to led Cyrus through the manor. Cid racked his memories, looking for any hint of what had happened, of how he wound up the way he did. Yet, no matter how hard he searched, nothing came, only faded blurs of what was once his memory. He could only hope DiZ possessed some answers as to what happened to him.

Soon they came upon a large room, the ornate design of the aged manor, harshly changing into a very mechanical blue metal. It seemed that this room lead to the basement of the manor, a very technologically advanced basement at that, judging from the oddly shaped monitors on the walls. Continuing in silence, the hum of the computers and the sound of their footsteps against the metal flooring being the only sound filling his ears. Not long after, they arrived in what appeared to be a console room, a large intricate computer looking device sitting in the corner. As DiZ approached it, he finally turned and addressed Cyrus. "You must have many questions, but answer me this one first, what befell the world of Radiant Garden?" Cyrus didn't know how to answer him, nothing was coming to mind that would fit that name. All Cyrus could do was shake his head, DiZ closing his eye in contemplation. "I see. Tell me do you remember anything at all? Any names, even your own?" Cyrus nodded his head not being able to vocalize what he felt. Once again DiZ closed his eye.

"My name........is Cyrus. I can remember..........Cid, Aerith, Yuffie, and Leon, but they are all I can remember clearly, everything else is a blur, save for one name I don't remember how I know." Cyrus looked down at his hands as he spoke, struggling to remember even that. DiZ raised an eyebrow at this revelation.

"And that name would be?"

Cyrus looked up his hands. "Ansem." DiZ turned to face the computer, before sitting down in it and beginning to type something. DiZ continued on typing at the computer for several minutes, before Cyrus could work up the will to ask him a question. "Do.........do you know what happened to me?" DiZ stopped typing away at his computer to look at Cyrus.

"I am afraid that, whatever event brought you here, has also affected your memory. From the state I found you in, I can surmise that you had a brush with great darkness. It is likely that the brush you had, nearly cost you your heart, yet still it remained, not unaffected by the darkness. Though, in the state I found you in, you wouldn't have survived long with the wounds." DiZ turned back to the computer and continued typing. "What shall you do now? You certainly cannot go about with your clothes like that, and without your memory, you won't survive long either."

Cyrus looked down, trying to list off his options. His choices were certainly bleak, he had no memory save for his family, and he couldn't recall what happened to them, or what happened to his world, all he did know was it had to be bad if it wound up like he did. Approaching DiZ, Cyrus crossed his arms. "I.....don't really have any clue what I'm gonna do. You........ wouldn't happen to know what I could do, would you?" DiZ's attention never turned from the computer, still typing away as he answered.

"I believe I might have some clue as to what happened to your home, and what happened to you as well. The same thing befell me not so long ago, likely by the same group as well." Cyrus couldn't be more confused and captivated at the same time. "I will help you, but I must ask that you help me as well, I am, but one man. Though with your help, we might be able to avenge ourselves. All I ask is for your assistance in this matter." Cyrus thought over what he asked, whoever did this to him, cost him both his home and memory, had done the same to DiZ. 

"If it means getting back at whoever did this, then I'm in, but I'm not sure how much of a help I'll be. I don't remember much of anything, and whatever weapon I had before is broken." DiZ let out a laugh.

"I am certain I can find something for you to do, as for your weapon, I believe I can also help with that." DiZ finally stood from his computer walked out of another door in the room, Cyrus following after him. Walking past an area that looked like it was still being worked on. They came across a vast, empty, and eye-piercingly white room. DiZ walking over to the center, pressing some buttons at the console at the center, before several bright lights filled the room, fading quickly to reveal what appeared to be more advanced smithing equipment, a memory sparking in his mind. 

He couldn't believe Cid was letting him use the forge, it had been nearly a year since they met, and Cid was finally warming up to him. As Cyrus looked over the fire of the forge, he summoned Wanderlust, looking akin to that of a large brass key. He didn't know where the ideas and designs he had for it came from, but he couldn't help but want to improve it. He knew it'd take some time before it was where he wanted it to be, but if Cid was comfortable with letting him work the forge, then he wouldn't disappoint him.

Shaking away the pain that came from the memory, he searched his ruined satchel, finding the only other thing in it that wasn't damaged. His trusty hammer Kilrea, something he knew he's had for a long time. Gripping it tightly in his hand, he looked over to DiZ. "I think....... I can make a new keyblade, but I'm going to need materials" DiZ then pressed a few more buttons on the console, a large chest appearing besides the forge.

"If you agree to help me improve this place, and finish constructing it, then I shall in turn provide you with materials you need to improve your keyblade, I trust we are both in agreement?" Cyrus gave a short nod, before walking over to the forge, the fire inside blazing hot already.

"You give me the designs and I'll do what I can." He began to search through the large chest, pulling out a multitude of metals and crystals. As he placed the metals into the forge he turned back to DiZ. "Once I finish making my new keyblade, I will do all I can to help you, I owe you that much for your kindness." Seeing DiZ nod in agreement, before turning to walk out of the room, he was too focused on beginning to forge his new keyblade, to hear DiZ's muttered words.

"That they would destroy their home so willingly, they have truly fallen so far. Cyrus my friend, I apologize for getting you involved in this."

Cyrus worked tirelessly to craft his new weapon. The metals and crystals combining together, he used his hammer to shape them into form. After what felt like hours, he pulled the completed keyblade from the fire, and placed it into a cooling bath. Pulling it free, he could now inspect his handiwork. The keyblade was certainly different from Wanderlust, not mechanical in design, but more ornate, the design was sturdy, and solid, allowing for little chance of it breaking. It appeared to be more of a blade than a key, but also possessed an edged design. The design was elaborate and intense, now all he had to do was give it a name. Only one name seemed to fit, Radiant Requiem, that's what he'll call it. Now all he had to do was find out just how good his keyblade forging was first hand. Deciding to see what DiZ was doing, he walked his way back through the halls. He came across DiZ in the same room as the computer, back to typing away on it.

DiZ noticed he approach, turning to speak with him. "I take it you have finished, I am glad." Cyrus summoned his new keyblade, DiZ inspecting it from where he sat. "I expected nothing less. Now I believe I should inform you of a few things." He motioned DiZ over to where he could see what was on the computer screens. With a few keystrokes, a black coated figure appeared on the screen, a tinge of pain resounding through Cyrus's mind, before fading, he wasn't sure why, but there was something about that black coat that bothered him. "I shall start at the beginning of what I know. These are the members of a group known as The Organization, a group of powerful Nobodies." Another screen showed an odd, white figure. It's mouth appeared to be a zipper, and its body like mannequin. "Nobodies, beings whose entire existence is paradoxical. Those who have lost their hearts to the heartless. Yet, the shell of the body left behind somehow begins to move of its own will. They are seemingly under the control of the Organization, nobodies as well, but are upon a different level compared to their lesser counterparts. The nobodies of the Organization retain the form that had when they had their hearts. As they no longer possess their hearts, they can feel nothing, no love, no anger, nothing." Cyrus could tell, despite DiZ's attempt at a neutral tone, he was angry at this Organization, furious even.

"They have no hearts huh? Doesn't sound like a fun existence." Cyrus crossed his arms as he glanced through DiZ's notes.

"Indeed, nobodies do not have the right to be, though I am uncertain to their goals at the moment, they are responsible for what befell me and you as well." DiZ scrolled through his notes, before he came upon what appeared to be designs for different types of machines. "I understand that you likely wish to rest, after what happened to you, but before you rest, I wished to at the very least show you what I have in mind for the remainder of the basement." Cyrus looked over the deigns he had in mind, along with finishing off the flooring and walls, he had a design for what appeared to be a digital transfer device, a beam capable of transferring physical matter, into digital code. Impressive in its design, but putting it together would be another story. He also had what appeared to be the blueprint for something of a stasis pod, one that would preserve vital functions, but not hinder bodily growth, rather simply technically, provided he read it right, but the design of it was another story. He also had plans to reform one of the rooms of the upper manor, to create a room that served as a sanctuary from prying ears and eyes, a room in which none, but those present inside could hear anything from within it's walls. DiZ had it designated as the White Room.

"I'll see what I can do, Cid did teach me a lot about tech, so working on the DtD might be easier than I'm thinking, but you were right about me needing a nap." Cyrus scratched at the back of his head, a yawn escaping his lips. DiZ turned back to the computer for a moment, turning it off for the time being.

"Very well, you should rest for the day, tomorrow we shall talk further on what we must do against the Organization." DiZ then brought Cyrus back through the basement, arriving back in the manor proper. Leading him to a side room, one with a bed completely untouched by the decay of the manor around it. "I shall see what I can do for you clothes wise, while you rest. Do not strain yourself, we will be busy tomorrow." With that DiZ left Cyrus alone in the room. Carefully, he checked the bed, not wanting to sleep in any debris he hadn't noticed. Confident in the fact that the bed was safe, he sat down. The weariness of his body only catching up to him as he did. He cautiously poked at his healing wounds, feeling just how tender they were, even with the megalixir, they hadn't faded completely, some likely would scar. Laying his body across the bed, he let out a sigh. He was tired, physically and mentally, he didn't know if Cid and the others were safe, he didn't know what he once knew. All he could was trust DiZ that he would help him. He wasn't sure what he would do if DiZ didn't help him. All he could do for now was rest, tomorrow was another day to worry about it.

To say he was surprised would be an understatement. One moment he was working on his latest commission and the next, his desk was covered in glass, and he had was holding his head after being struck by what flew his window, turning to look at what hit him, he found it to be a disc of some type. Picking it up gingerly, he saw Cid burst back into the workshop, the culprit dangling from his collar, which Cid held onto. He wouldn't be able to forget the blazing mop of fire red hair the kid had.

Cyrus woke with a start, nearing jumping out of bed. As his eyes adjusted to the light of the room, he noticed a pile of clothing on a table nearby, alone with a note. Getting out of bed and walking over to the pile, he read the note. "I have found some clothing that will suit you perfectly fine, once you have changed, meet me in the basement that we might discuss our next step. Not gonna ask where he got my sizes from, but hey free clothes." As Cyrus undressed and placed his ruined clothes into their own pile, he got what DiZ got him on. The clothing reminded him of something, but he couldn't remember what, the shirt had buttons down the front, but appeared to be only for show as he couldn't undo them. There was a deep red color down the front of the shirt, seemingly boxing the buttons in. The pants were made of a similar pitch black fabric of the shirt. The boots as well fit him perfectly. He had to admit, he liked how he looked, it was almost regal in how it looked. Not wanting to waste anymore time, he set about finding DiZ. As he made his way through the decrepit halls of the manor, he couldn't help, but admire the seeming permanent sunset wherever they were had. As he made his way into the basement, he once again found DiZ typing away at his computer.

"Ah, Cyrus, I was beginning to think you were going to sleep through the day." DiZ stood up from his chair, approaching Cyrus.

"Have to admit, these fit pretty well. Now, what's the plan?" DiZ gave Cyrus a quick nod before walking back to his computer. Typing for a moment, before something appeared on screen.

"It would seem that the Organization is remaining quiet for the time being, even I am uncertain as to their goals. All I know for certain is that they possess the ability to travel freely between worlds. Until they make a substantial move, we cannot hope to counter them." Cyrus clicked his tongue in irritation. "But that does not mean we shall be idle in our efforts against them. You shall be my ally in the field as it were. There are countless worlds, countless hearts as well, it is clear that the Organization holds some form of control over the darkness. So long as they exist they pose a threat to all of those worlds. I will need you to travel to those worlds, and ensure they do not fall into darkness as well." Cyrus crossed his arms, head cocked to the side in confusion.

"Ya don't mean every world right? I'm only one person ya know." DiZ shook his head.

"Of course, I have one world in particular for you to visit, one I came across in my travels before I came across this place. I shall deliver you there once we have finished what is needed here." DiZ walked over to the door, opposite the computer, Cyrus following. As they arrived into the massive white room, the forge still where it was the day prior. "For now, I believe it best we begin our work to complete the work for the basement, before anything else." DiZ pressed something on the console, a blueprint suddenly appearing next to Cyrus at the forge. Picking it up, he saw it was how to forge the panels, along with how to install them. 

"Right then, I'll get on it, but before I do, I never got to ask what this world is, it seems to be at sunset at all times." As DiZ made for the door, he turned to answer.

"This world is known as Twilight Town." With that, DiZ left Cyrus to his smithing. Cyrus made short work of crafting the panels needed. All he needed to do now was install them. As he left the immense white room, he began to install the panels, minding the electrical wires. Soon he had installed all of the panels he had made, the hall now looking less run down, and just as advanced looking as the rest of it. Wiping his forehead clean of sweat, he made to track down DiZ, who surprisingly wasn't typing away at his computer. He searched the remainder of the basement, along with several rooms of manor to find him. Finding him in what was to become the White Room.  He seemed to be writing down several notes at the large white table at the center of the room. Cyrus also noticed an odd draft coming through the room. 

"Figures you'd be in the last room I checked. Wanted to let ya know I finished installing the panels, tried to get the command console in the hall fixed too, but it looks like that's a longer fix then I first thought." DiZ didn't look at him as he nodded. Cyrus walked around DiZ, pulling aside the white curtains of the window, revealing the view of the forest outside of the manor, along with dilapidated courtyard that lead towards the front door. "Man, this place really is abandoned, well I'm gonna see if I can't find a way into town to buy something to eat."  Cyrus waved DiZ idly goodbye, before leaving. Walking outside of the manor, he couldn't help, but wonder just who lived here before DiZ. Deciding to focus on that later, he continued his way towards the town. Passing through the quiet forest, he came upon a massive stone wall. Blocking him from the town, likely having been built after the manor was abandoned. From the sounds of it nobody was near the wall on the other side. Taking out Radiant Requiem, he pulled it close to his chest. Charging towards the wall, he thrust forward, and found him promptly on the other side of the wall, a gaping, jagged hole formed from his attack. Blinking the resulting dust from his attack. Brushing away what debris landed on him, he decided to leave before anyone saw what he did.

Making his way through the town, he came across someone who looked to be selling food. Searching his pockets, he found a small pouch of munny. Likely left by DiZ if he ever needed it. "Hey, what do ya have for sale?" The young woman at the desk quickly jumped in surprise at the sight of him. She quickly gave him a nod.

"We're actually having a sale on this new type of ice cream, it's called Sea Salt, it's not exactly popular right now, but it is pretty good!" Cyrus felt another quick twinge of pain in his head, before it faded. Pulling out the pouch of munny out, he ordered two.

With the two bars of ice cream in hand, he made his way back to the manor, people only starting to notice the new hole in the wall as he passed through it. As he made it through the forest, his mind couldn't help, but feel like something was familiar about this, but he didn't know why. As he approached the gate to the manor, he couldn't help, but look it over, the curtains of the White Room, still slightly moving due to the draft in the room. He didn't know how long he and DiZ would be working to defeat the Organization, but he would need to grow used to the look of the manor. Making his way back inside, he needed to find where DiZ had gotten too now, before the ice cream possibly melted. He hoped DiZ didn't mind the flavor, but he certainly liked it. As he made his way back to the basement, he noticed how much debris was actually laying around the floor, hopefully DiZ wouldn't mind if he cleaned it up a bit once he had time.

As he made it back to the computer room, DiZ typing away at his computer as usual. Cyrus walked over to him, holding out the ice cream towards him. "There's a shop in town selling these, don't know they're your thing, but I kinda like em, so I got ya one anyway." DiZ saw what he was holding out to him, and for the briefest of moments, his eye widened at the sight of the ice cream he had in hand. Gently taking it from him, DiZ joined Cyrus in eating the treat.

"Salty yet sweet." Was all he said, but Cyrus knew by the subtle tone of his voice that he actually enjoyed it. A smirk coming to his lips as he bit into his own. Silently they both enjoyed the ice cream. Cyrus checking his stick, sighing again as it was no winner. DiZ turned back to the computer once he finished. "I believe now is as good enough a time as any to inform you where you will be travelling too."

Cyrus took the stick from DiZ, also not a winner, before crossing his arms. "And where would that be?"

DiZ turned over to him, speaking clearly. "A town known as Gravity Falls."

Chapter Text

"Gravity Falls? Weird name for a town, but hey who am I to judge." Cyrus followed DiZ back up through the basement, holding the strange device he had handed him.

"A strange name is not the only thing odd about that town, during my time there, I discovered that it seems to attract a high amount of supernatural happenings." As they exited the room leading to the basement, and got into the foyer, DiZ came to a stop. "Once you arrive there, you must perform a thorough investigation of the town, and if you come across anything regarding the Organization, relay it to me with the transmitter I gave you. I also must inform you that the worlds must remain in balance, if too many were to learn that there were other worlds, the balance would fall apart." Cyrus understood clearly, even if this was just a simple investigation, it only made sense to limit knowledge of them having been there.

Cyrus examined the device he was given, he had no idea how it worked, but apparently it was always on from what he had told him earlier. Searching through his pockets, he pulled out his Star Shard, surprisingly undamaged from what happened to him. "Now, once you arrive I would be wary, there is no telling if the heartless might appear there." Cyrus nodded, before walking outside, not wanting to crash through the ceiling again. "I will remain here, and attempt to locate any further leads." Cyrus gave DiZ a small salute as he left the manor. Standing in the yard of the manor, he gripped the Star Shard, focusing on the location DiZ had told him. Feeling the energy of the Star Shard cover him, he soon found himself flying through the air, silently hoping he actually landed where he intended. The feeling of space around him so faded into the feeling of him falling through the sky, unable to brace himself for the landing as he crashed through several trees. Opening his eyes, he found that he was laying in a sizable hole in the ground.

Groggily shaking his head, he got out of the crater. He looked around, seeing the the holes he had caused by crashing through the trees. "Really, hope nobody notices that." Just as he was about to walk off, he heard two approaching voices. "And that's my cue to leave." Quickly running past a few trees, and climbing up one to stay out of sight, just as two young kids walked into the clearing.

"I'm telling you Dipper! It was all like Pzzt! Pew! It was bouncing around like Grunkle Stan when the ATM at the bank broke that one time!"  A young girl in a bright pink sweater, as talking to Dipper, the young boy in a white and blue hat, who Cyrus could only guess was her brother. Dipper walked carefully over to the crater, opening a book he held, and began to frantically flip through its pages.

"The Journal doesn't say anything about sentient comets or real shooting stars, hmmmm what could it mean?" He began to tap a pen to his chin in thought, just as his sister jumped straight into the crater. "Mabel! What are you doing! Who knows what kind of otherworldly alien dust could be in there! You might grow a third arm or a third eye or a third leg!"

"Pfft! It's fine, see?" She twirled around the crater, with her arms outstretched. "See? No extra nothing, though I am getting an otherworldly feeling in my brain." Dipper looked both concerned and intrigued, at this clicking the pen, ready to start writing.

"What! What are you feeling? Any nausea, headaches, feelings of third limb growth?"

"I'm feeling that........" She then jumped outta the crater, and began to tickle Dipper. "That my bro is a huge dork!" Cyrus smiled, these were just two siblings out on their own little adventure. DiZ probably didn't want him to waste time watching them, so he turned to leap off the tree, when he saw an odd eye shaped marking on the tree. That promptly blinked at him. Needless to say, his resulting scream of terror, and him falling out the tree, attracted their attention. Opening his eyes, he saw that the two kids were now upside down, or rather he was. Groaning, he got himself right side up again. Looking at the two he could tell they weren't just going to let him leave, Mabel looked like she was staring at her dream come true, while Dipper looked like he was staring at an actual alien.

Awkwardly waving his hand at them, Cyrus tried to play it off. "Ummmm, Hi" Mabel almost instantly started to jump around him, checking out his clothing. Dipper quickly pulling her away into something of a make-shift huddle.

"Mabel! Be careful, who knows if this is even a human being we're talking to here! He could be a shape-shifter, or an alien, or even more gnomes in a coat!" He wasn't exactly quiet about it, though gnomes in a coat was a first. Dipper kept stealing glances at him, likely to make sure he hadn't left or gotten closer.

"Ah come on Dipper, what if he's like a wounded star warrior looking for help! We can't just not get to see if he can do cool things!" A day or so, she wouldn't have been so off about the whole wounded warrior part.

"Uh, my name's Cyrus" Dipper let out a rather girly yelp as Cyrus chimed in. Before coughing into his fist, pretending it never happened, he carefully approached him, looking him over much like Mabel did.

"Alright then, Cyrus, what do ya know about the weird comet that crashed into the forest?" It was clear he didn't trust him one bit, he wasn't wrong about him not being from this world, but he didn't need to know that.

"Was the weirdest thing, sorta just crashed down, and then straight up vanished, didn't see where, I was up on my tree." Dipper squinted at him questioningly.

"What were you doing on said tree."

"What kind of things does a person do on a tree? The answer is ya don't need to know, now I've gotta get going" Pointing behind him, Cyrus turned on his heel and began to walk away from the two, content at letting it end there. Only for the two to follow after him.

"Where ya going anyway? Only thing in the forest are a bunch of gnomes, unicorns, and eye-bats." Mabel was practically skipping after him, Dipper close behind.

Cyrus continued on regardless. "Looking for a town called Gravity Falls, and what do you mean eye-bats?" Dipper ran ahead of him stopping him.

"Well the town is back the other way, we can help ya get there." Dipper began, but Mabel quickly finished his sentence for him. "For a price!"

Cyrus raised an eyebrow. "What kinda price we talking here?"

Before Dipper could answer, Mabel once again cut him off. "You've gotta hang out with us all day! I've always wanted to spend a day with a wounded star warrior!" Mabel quickly ran off, leaving Cyrus and Dipper alone. Cyrus leaning closer to Dipper.

"She always like this?" Dipper nodded, keeping his lips in a straight line.

"Usually yeah, she gets this way when she's gotten another summer crush, her first was a bunch of gnomes in clothing stacked up on each, after that was Gideon, but that was more one-sided on his part, after him was a mermaid guy, then it was a boy band that were a bunch of clones of each other. The last guy she was crushing on was a puppeteer who was way too into his puppets." Dipper listed each off on one of his fingers. Cyrus knew at that moment that DiZ wasn't wrong about this town being stranger than just it's name.

"Well, then, guess we should follow her?" Dipper nodded before chasing after his sister, Cyrus not far behind.

"So, what did ya come to Gravity Falls for anyway? There's not much here, except maybe the Mystery Shack, but that's just a bunch of fake things my Grunkle Stan made up to get cash outta tourists." While the two chased after Mabel, he couldn't help, but feel like the trees were watching him. The fact one had actually blinked at him, might've done a number of his nerves. Soon they found Mabel, talking to a rather old looking man, in a suit and fez. 

"I swear, Grunkle Stan, he's from outer space! It was super crazy!" Mabel looked over to where Dipper and Cyrus were coming from, pointing frantically. "See, see! I told ya!" This Grunkle Stan definitely looked out. If Cyrus had to guess Grunkle was a combination between Great and Uncle, meaning he was these kids Great Uncle. Adjusting his glasses to get a better look at him, he put on his best showman's smile and approached.

"Welcome o'weary traveler! To the Shack of Mysteries! I understand you have traveled far to visit our town, and if I might interest you in checking out our exotic wonders?" Cyrus knew a fake speech pattern when he heard one, and from what Dipper said, this Grunkle Stan was likely just trying to scam him out of his munny, what little he actually had on hand at the moment.

"Grunkle Stan, that isn't gonna work, we already got dibs on him for the day! We even got him to pay us to touring the town!" Mabel was quick to shut down Stan's attempt, but it was clear he was interested in a cut of what they got from him.

"How much did ya get from the sucker?" Stan whispered to Mabel, once again pulling her into a makeshift huddle.

"We got him to be our friend for the day!" Mabel said proudly, Stan visibly deflating as she said it.

"You kids really gotta learn that it's better to get paid for being tour guides for poor saps like him." Stan rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Welp I'm gonna head inside and make sure Soos doesn't eat all the snacks in the vending machine again." Stan walked back inside the shack, the door closing, before shooting open again. "Don't forget to grab any loose change he drops while your out!" before closing it again.

"He really isn't subtle about it is he?" Cyrus knew Scrooge Mcduck personally, and even he wasn't as much of an open money-grubber as this Stan was. Dipper shrugged his shoulders, crossing his arms.

"Eh he's like this when someone knows his gimmick, he isn't........well he is like that normally, but he isn't all that bad, if ya get to know him." Dipper saw Mabel run inside the Mystery Shack, and come back outside with something in her hand.

"Grappling Hook!" Firing it off as she shouted. Barely missing Cyrus as he ducked out of the way. The hook immediately retracting as it hit the ground.

"Well, she's gonna be excited like this the rest of the day. Anyway, you wanted to see around town right? Well Mabel and I were planning on look around town for a lead on something we saw last night, before that comet happened." Cyrus wouldn't take what he said as anything serious, but given they've apparently dealt with a lot of supernatural things, if gnomes and mermaid men were anything to go by. Mabel walking over to them, before they began towards the town.

"So, what'd ya come to Gravity Falls for anyway? Oh, oh was it for the pancakes at the diner?" Mabel questioned as they walked into town. Cyrus shook his head.

"Friend of mine just wanted me to look round town is all, for any, I guess unusual. Wasn't really clear on it if I'm being honest." Dipper jumped at this chance.

"Wait! Are you here to learn more about the supernatural happenings around the town too?!" Cyrus was sure if he was or not, all DiZ told him was to investigate for anything strange, or relating to the Organization, so he simply nodded, Dipper letting out a happy, if high pitched squeal of joy. "I've always wanted to go over my notes with someone else! Nobody else seems to know what's going on, but me and Mabel have been dealing with it all summer since we got here!" Dipper began to flip through the journal he kept on him, flipping to a page with what looked like a gremlin on it, but on closer inspection, it looked more like an imp. "This is what we saw last night, at least I think anyway, it was too dark to get a good look at it, and when we pointed a flashlight on it, it sunk into the ground and ran away. We're planning on looking around town to see if we could find anything else on it." The longer he looked at the picture, the more familiar it felt to him, but still nothing came to mind.

"Freaky looking drawing I'll admit, you draw that yourself kid?" Dipper looked down, and rubbed the back of his head bashfully.

"Well uh, not really, I kinda found it the first day we came into town. We plan on trying to figure out the author behind it, but we haven't really had anywhere to start." Soon they came upon the town proper, it didn't look all that big, a nice, small, secluded town, but if what Dipper was telling him was true, maybe nice wasn't a good way to describe it.

Mabel made another noise with her lips, drawing Cyrus's attention. "Dipper stop boring him with your book, we promised him we'd show him round town! Not bore him to death." Mabel then took Cyrus's hand and ran into the town, listing off the various buildings and what they did as they went. They passed by a bar, outside of if, looked to be a very large lumberjack, violently punching a street clock. "Hey good to see Manly Dan's punching the clock again." Cyrus did his best not to laugh at the joke, though it seemed that this Manly Dan didn't really know about the joke, literally punching the clock, it was a wonder he hadn't knock it completely over yet. Mabel introduced him to Sheriff Blubbs and his deputy Durland, Blubbs helping Durland out with something he couldn't see properly. Dipper kept looking through his journal, until something caught his eye down an alley.

Just as Mabel was about to show Cyrus the library, Dipper let out a shout. "Mabel over here!" Turning, they saw Dipper pointing down an alley, both quickly getting to his side. Seeing just what he was seeing. A small imp like creature, but it had no real body features, just a blackened body, and piercing yellow eyes, that stared at them. A sudden spike of pain, ripped through Cyrus's mind again.

Mickey had come to tell him something important that fact was very clear. Mickey had actually brought a small orb like light with him. Apparently it was from Yen Sid. "Master Yen Sid, wanted to you to know as well. The Unversed might not longer be a problem, but that doesn't mean the heartless aren't anymore." Cyrus cocked his head to the side, confusion evident on his face.

"Heartless? Doesn't sound friendly." Mickey then remembered that Cyrus rarely left his world, so he wasn't up to date with the happenings of other worlds.

"Gosh, I'm sorry, I shoulda started with that. Heartless are beings made from the darkness in people's hearts. When someone falls to the darkness, the heartless steal their hearts. Here let me show ya." Mickey placed the small orb on the table, it vanishing, and in it's place another of Yen Sid's magic circles, a small imp like creature, twitched violently, but remained unmoving from its spot. "That's what we call a Shadow, the simplest of the heartless, but despite how weak they are, they never show up alone, and in a pack they could prove dangerous." Another circle appeared, this time a larger form appeared, almost like an adult form of the smaller Shadow. "This is a Neoshadow, they act a lot like normal shadows, but are a whole lot stronger, they're faster and more agile then the Shadows, they also never appear alone."

Cyrus shook the pain from his head, he'd focus on finding out who this Mickey and Yen Sid were later, for now he had to deal with what was in front of him. "Heartless? Here of all places." Dipper noticed what he had said.

"Wait, are heartless dangerous?!" Dipper's voice raised in pitch as he asked.

 "Unfortunately yes, and this ain't something you kids should be anywhere near, stay behind me." Summoning Radiant Requiem, shocking Dipper, and amazing Mabel, he rushed towards the Shadow, only for it vanish as he approached. Sinking in the ground and skittering away. "Oh no ya don't!" Chasing after the Shadow, he didn't fail to notice Mabel and Dipper following after him. "What did I say!"

Dipper did his best to keep up with him. "To stay behind you! Something that's hard to do when ya run away from us!" Cyrus rolled his eyes.

"Shoulda been more specific then, go back to ya Grunkle and let me handle this!" Mabel was the next to chime in.

"No way! You promised you'd hang with us all day as payment for showing ya around, we aren't letting ya get off that easy!" Mabel leaned towards Dipper as she ran. "I told you he was a star warrior! He was totally that shooting star!" Cyrus knew that he blew the keeping a low profile part of the mission, so at least he could complete the investigation part of it. The Shadow lead the 3 of them back through the forest, soon coming upon a clearing.

"Wait, this place looks familiar." Dipper looked around the clearing, it slowly coming together in his mind where the Shadow lead them. The Shadow finally came out of the ground, twitching about as it stared at them.

"Bout time ya stopped running!" As Cyrus made to destroy it, he heard several warping like sounds, quickly finding himself surrounded by Shadows. "Trying to lead me into a trap? Gonna need to try a little harder to get the drop on me!" Even more warping sounds filled the air. Looking around he found Heartless he had never seen before, weird little helmeted ones, with red claws, its piercing yellow eyes hiding inside its helmet. The clearest difference between it and the shadows was the odd heart shaped emblem on its chest. Even more filled the air, and what appeared to be larger versions of the helmet heartless, its body the size of at least 10 of the smaller helmet heartless. "Ok, you have got the drop on me." The Shadows sunk into the ground, the small helmet heartless charging at him, but ran like they had no idea how to run. Rearing back, before they swung at him. Easily batting them away, resulting in them bursting into wisps of darkness. One of the large helmet heartless then slapped it's massive stomach, before rushing forward at him. Deflecting the large heartless, he then slammed his keyblade into it, launching it across the clearing. Mabel watching in awe as Cyrus made quick work of the heartless. Dipper doing his best to write down what he was seeing.

None of them noticing that the area around them grew more and more grey, Cyrus smashing the last of the large heartless, panting as he finished the fight. Mabel ran over to him, jumping around, imitating what he was doing as best she could. It was clear she was far too excited to vocalize it. Dipper approaching as well, writing furiously into the journal as he did. Cyrus gave them a thumbs up. Only noticing when he looked around what happened to the area around him. Looking up he saw a bird, frozen mid flight. Before he could even question it, a laugh echoed the air, sounding like it reverberating everywhere around them. Dipper and Mabel froze, recognizing the laughter. "Didn't think we'd meet again like this Pine Tree! But this is something else!"  Suddenly the world around them flickered violently, and as soon as the flickering stopped, what appeared to be a triangle in a top hat seemingly popped into existence in front of Dipper. DiZ wasn't kidding about this town.

Dipper scrambled back away from whatever this weird triangle was. "Bill! What are you doing back so soon!? Do you really want to lose to us again!" Dipper and Mabel got into something of an action pose. Bill, the name of this weird, dapper triangle, laughed at this, before floating down behind Dipper.

"Oh Pine Tree you are a riot! If you and Shooting Star think you scare me, don't! You two are terrifying as a Deer without teeth, speaking of." Bill swiveled over to Cyrus, scratching at where he chin would be if triangles could have chins. "Never thought you'd bring me a gift like this!" Bill held out his hand to Cyrus. "Name's Bill Cipher! Pleasure to meet ya Smithy!" Cyrus looked at Bill's outstretched hand. As he made to shake it, Dipper and Mabel scrambled to stop him.

"Wait, whatever you do! Don't shake his hand!" Dipper quickly got between Bill and Cyrus, Mabel backing him up, grappling hook at the ready.

"Aw, don't be like that Pine Tree. All I wanted to do was help Smithy with his little memory problem is all!" Cyrus looked surprised he knew about that.

"Wait, how do you know my memory is faded?" Dipper and Mabel looked at Cyrus as he said this, Bill looking like he was belly laughing.

"Oh man! You really are as blank as a piece of paper!" Bill appeared resting his arm on Cyrus's shoulder. "Trust me kid, I know lots of things, things that would make you weep in fear and joy at the same time! I also know how to help ya get em back, if ya want that is." Cyrus wouldn't lie he was tempted by what he said. Dipper quickly getting his attention.

"Don't listen to him! Bill is a dream demon, he tries to make it seem like his deal with help you, but it's always a lie!" A dream demon? That was also a first.

"Come on Pine Tree, don't be like that. What's a few brushes with your own fragile mortality between friends huh?" Bill once again circled around Cyrus. "But Man! Didn't think I'd see another world traveler in the same millennia!"  Mabel looked at Dipper.

"What does he mean world traveler?" Bill popped up behind her.

"I'm glad you asked! See, Smithy here, ain't from this world! He came here from that shooting star, but I guess you already put that together." Bill suddenly doubled in size, his eye staring at them. "That weird looking key he uses is called a keyblade, some kinda fancy schmancy all powerful weapon, that's kinda boring, but!" Bill shrunk back down to size, hovering behind Cyrus. "Most importantly! It can open any door or lock." Bill seemed to stress that fact.

He hooked his arm around Cyrus's neck, pulling him in. "So here's the deal, you help me open a door, and I help you get your memories back, what do ya say?" Cyrus considered what Bill offered him, if it was as simple as opening a door, then he had no reason not too. But from what Dipper was saying, Bill wasn't exactly on the up and up, something about how frantic and scared Bill's sudden appearance made the kids, made him not want to help.

"Sorry" Cyrus pushed Bill's arm off of him, only for it to pop off entirely, falling to ground and crawling around for a bit before shriveled up and died, vanishing away into dust. "But I think I'll get em back my own way." Bill looked down at this, seemingly disappointed as he snapped his fingers angrily.

"Well, can't say I didn't try and be civil about it." Snapping his fingers again, two portals of darkness appeared below Dipper and Mabel, pulling them both in before either could make a noise. Before he could react, both had vanished. "Now, that's a neat party trick eh!" Pulling Cyrus in again, he continued. "Now here's the deal, I could care less bout what happens to Pine Tree and Shooting Star, but you can't live with their lives on ya conscious, so how's bout ya help me open my door, and I don't find out what happens when two kids meet a swarm of heartless?" Bill's eye turned into a mouth as he whispered. "Spoilers, but it ain't good." Cyrus quickly pushed Bill away, his mocking laughter filling the silent air. "I'll give ya a bit of time to mull it over! I'll leave my little portal right over there." Pointing with both hands, a strange portal appeared, looking like Bill Cipher himself, but more akin to a picture. "And you come on in and help me get my door open, until then." The sky began to flicker again, more wildly then before. "See ya soon Smithy!" Bill's mocking laughter filled the air as he vanished, leaving Cyrus, confused, concerned, and alone in the clearing.

"This is not how I thought today would go." Cyrus looked around and saw the world was still in grey. Bill suddenly reappearing for a moment.

"Though I'd get a move on, cuz I don't think those guys are gonna let ya wait." Pointing over Cyrus's shoulder towards a large group of rapidly appearing Heartless, before vanishing again, the world snapping back to color as soon as he disappeared.

"Just peachy!" Cyrus charged the heartless, working to make short work of them, he had bigger fish to fry, or kids to save, whichever worked better. despite being in a rush, the heartless gave him very little breathing room to think. He had to keep calm, letting his temper get away from him was a surefire way to get to wrapped up in destroying heartless to save the kids. He had to think, he had to at least tell the kids' Grunkle what had happened. First thing he had to do was actually get back to the Mystery Shack. After nearly an hour of fighting his way through the forest, he finally saw it, not too far away. As he approached, he saw the front door burst open, one of the small helmet heartless being knocked through it, before bursting into wisps of darkness. He saw Grunkle Stan follow suit, waving around a bat.

"Any of you weird punks want some more!" As if answering him, several more heartless began appearing outside. "Me and my big mouth." He gripped the bat tight, ready to fight them off. Cyrus ran over to him, slicing through one of the large helmet heartless, skidding to a halt next to him. "Well hello to you too."

"I'll explain later, I hope ya know how to fight with that." Cyrus motioned at the bat Stan held.

"Kid, I've eaten my way out of a car trunk before, these things ain't nothing!" Cyrus and Stan charged the heartless, to his surprise, his and Stan's battle strategy was exactly the same, hit things until they stop moving. Stan pummeled the heartless into the ground, kicking what Shadows appeared out of the ground near him, using his bat to them destroy them as they fell. Cyrus slashed through the helmet heartless, thrusting through the larger ones. Several more began to appear, along with a new type of heartless, one that floated in the air, a solid blue colored body, the same emblem as the others at the center of its chest. Around the ones that appeared, a blue light appeared. Before firing at both Cyrus and Stan. "Holy!" Stan was cut off as he dodged out of the way, the blast striking the ground as a large spike of ice erupted from where it hit. Several more of the flying ones appeared, in red, green, and yellow now. Cyrus deflected the blast of ice with his keyblade, launching it into one of the large helmet heartless, freezing it where it stood.

"These things can use magic?! That's so not cool!" One of the red ones fired its own magic at them. Stan doing his best to avoid them. Rolling towards one of the small helmet heartless, kicking it upward, and using his bat to knock it into one of the flying heartless, destroying both. Cyrus jumped up grabbing one of the yellow ones in his off hand as he destroyed two others with his keyblade. As he landed, he felt the familiar tingle of thunder magic begin to form in the heartless. Looking over a group of small helmet heart that appeared, he turned over to Stan. "Hey! How's your aim?" Stan looked over to where he was pointing, understanding what Cyrus planned to do. Punching one of the helmet heart in the face with a pair of brass knuckles, he got himself ready to swing for the fences. Cyrus pitched the yellow heartless to Stan, who swung, sending the heartless soaring into the group. It's magic spell going off, destroying the group and left the heartless made baseball dizzy, only for it to be destroyed by Cyrus hurling his keyblade at it.

Though it took several minutes to finish of the remaining heartless, eventually Stan and Cyrus panting heavily. "And that's!" Stan shouted, a smirk on his face. "How's it done!" Before he doubled over, panting even more then before. "I think I pulled something."

Cyrus looked over to the panting Stan. "So uh, got some bad news." Stan looked up as he said that, looking around Cyrus, trying to find Dipper and Mabel.

"Where are the kids?" He slowly stood straight up, looking frantically around him. "What did they get distracted by a gnome or something?" Stan let out a forced laugh, trying to calm himself.

"They kinda got kidnapped by some weird demon triangle" Stan looked at Cyrus like he grew a new head.

"I knew those two couldn't stay out of trouble for long, but this is not good." Stan looked devastated. "Kidnapped by Bill Cipher, this is even worse then these weird yellow eyed punks." Cyrus made to ease him.

"Listen, whatever Bill wants, he thinks I can give him it, when I turned him down, he took them. I'm gonna get them back, I just felt like it was best to let you know." Cyrus went to start walking away.

"Yeah that ain't happening, those kids are my responsibility, if anyone is getting em back, it's gonna be me." Stan went to walk back inside, stopping at the door. "Well come on! Fighting that demented nacho is gonna be hard so we need to get ready." Cyrus followed Stan inside, finally getting a look at what was inside the Mystery Shack. "You can look at the attractions when we get them back." Stan looked over the counter, looking to see if anyone was around the shop. He walked over to the vending machine, pressing a few buttons in a specific order, before it slid to the side, revealing a passageway leading down. "I had a feeling you weren't from around here, when I saw that thing ya fought those creeps with, it kinda cinched it for me." Stan told him as they entered an elevator.

"Before anything, I need you to look me in the eyes and tell me ya won't tell the kids about what's down here when we get em back." Stan took Cyrus by the shoulders making him look him in the eyes.

"I won't say a word" Stan looked at Cyrus for a few moments, before he finally let go.

"I'm sorry, I've tried everything I could to keep them from getting involved in the weirdness of this town." They finally arrived at the bottom of the elevator, coming out to what looked like an old command center, a large portal like device in the neighboring room. "That journal Dipper keeps on him is 1 of 3, ever since he found it, he's been searching after all of the weird things in it." Cyrus watched as Stan began to search through the numerous cabinets in the room, eventually pulling out a weird looking necklace. "Trying to keep them safe, I had to play dumb. Least til they ended up summoning a buncha zombies a few days ago." He then went over to a book that was on the desk. Opening it and flipping quickly through the pages, until he came upon the page he was looking for. Pointing to it, He showed Cyrus. It was a page about a keyblade wielding traveler, one that looked familiar to him, but he couldn't quite pin down why. "Says here that apparently people who got what you got can hop round different worlds like I hopped towns. It also said that knowledge of different worlds needed to be kept secret, so I've been doing my best to keep those two from figuring it out. Last thing I need is for Dipper to try and visit another world."

Cyrus motioned for his necklace. "What's that supposed to do?" Stand brushed it off.

"Apparently it can keep whoever wears it from being affected in the mindscape. Bill's got like total control in there it's crazy." Stan then silently listed off on his fingers what he had. "Right, no time to lose, let's go save the kids." Cyrus nodded at his determination, they made their way back out of the Mystery Shack, Stan flipping the closed sign on the door, before locking the door behind him. Cyrus and him made their way back to the clearing where Bill was. Coming across several stray heartless which they made short work off. Soon they found the the clearing, along with the strange portal. Before they went into it, Cyrus made sure he was ready. Him and Stan sharing a nod before they walked into the portal.

Cyrus felt weightless as he fell, he saw Stan screaming next to him as he fell as well. The two crashing down on a floating bit of land. Both groaning as they got back up. The world around them looked grey, same as when Bill had first appeared. "So" Cyrus looked around at the fragmented and floating bits of land around them, it looked almost like the town, but quite literally in pieces. "This is the mindscape?" Stan looked around as well.

"The journal said that this is kinda like the collective unconscious, it's where Bill exists, he can only get into people's minds if he shakes their hands." Cyrus was now very glad Dipper kept him from shaking Bill's hand. They began their way carefully through the mindscape. Watching as the ground around them warped and shifted. "Gotta say, its way too fitting for a freak like Cipher to live here." Stan quickly moved out of the was the ground fractured beneath him, the world of the mindscape shifting violently. Soon they found themselves falling again as the ground beneath them suddenly flipped. Watching as it reformed beneath them. Crashing again into the ground, the air was filled the mocking laughter that Cyrus was left with before.

"Man oh man! Figured you would try to fight me! But to bring Stanley of all people to come and help! Man that's just precious!" The ground beneath them shook, and from beyond the edge of the platform, appeared the immense eye of Bill. The rest of him forming around him. "What? Did ya think ya would just waltz in, and what? Break my knees with that bat ya got?" Cyrus summoned his keyblade as Stan got his bat out.

"Give me them back ya demented, one eyed, weirdo!" Bill laughed at Stan's threat, picking him up between his index and thumb. "What ya gonna do now?!" The yellow of Bill's body flared a violent red, his voice morphing it one more fitting for a demon. Cyrus needed to think fast, there was no telling as to what Bill would do to Stan. "Ya know, if ya weren't that stupid necklace from Sixer, I'd turned ya into a frog or something, but I think smashing ya flat works for me!" Just as Bill raised his free hand into a fist to crush Stan, he let out a loud pained screech, as Cyrus threw Radiant Requiem directly into Bill's eye. Dropping Stan, Cyrus catching him safely, Bill flailed around in pain, trying to remove the keyblade stabbed into his eye. "ARGH! Do you know how long it takes for that to heal?!" Summoning his keyblade back to his hand, Cyrus smirked. Bill blinked several times, his body flaring back into red as he found them. "Oh you'd better hope these finish you off before I do!" Bill then snapped his fingers, several new creatures appearing.

"These Nightmares are gonna make short work of you and........" Bill stared as best he could at what he summoned. They were actually kinda adorable, some looked like balloon cats, that Cyrus had gotten Aerith and Yuffie once, others kind of looked like cats, and one even looked like a frog prince. "What in the name of all that is unholy are these?! Ya know what never mind, I'm gonna go give those kids a couple nightmares of my own!" Bill then vanished, rubbing his wounded eye. An island appearing in the distance, what appeared to be the Mystery Shack.

"Guess that's where he's keeping em." Cyrus pointed it out to Stan as he smacked one of Nightmares away, he almost felt bad for doing so. Clearly, this feeling wasn't shared in Stan, he began to beat back the Nightmares with violent fervor. They began to run through the mindscape, battling with the Nightmares as they went. Finding that the further they went, the more the land around them shifted and changed. Soon, they found themselves a path to the Mystery Shack. Finding themselves just outside the Mystery Shack. Stan wasted no time bursting into the shack, Cyrus following as well. Blinded by a light, Cyrus found himself falling again, before smacking into the ground next to Stan. Looking around they found they weren't inside the Mystery Shack, but a large empty island of the mindscape. Looking around, they then both felt Bill behind them, slowly rising over the island.

"Looking for something?" On cue, two spheres containing Mabel and Dipper, a constellation on Dipper's and Shooting Star on Mabel's.

"Give them back or you're gonna need an eye-patch!" Cyrus readied his keyblade, waiting for the perfect chance to throw it again.

"Not gonna happen, you're either gonna open the door to my dimension or I'll show you just what this dream demon can do!" Bill slammed his fist violently against the island, the ground cracking beneath it. Stan got his bat ready.

"I'll open ya door for ya! After I beat ya through it!" Bill let out another laugh, before glaring down at them.

"That so? Then I'd like to see ya try!" Charging towards Bill, Stan and Cyrus began their fight for Dipper and Mabel.

Bill's eye glowed a bright red, before it fired a beam from it, attempting to blast Stan apart. Cyrus intercepted the beam, blocking it with his keyblade. Stan used Cyrus as a jumping pad, giving him just enough height to nail Bill in the eye with the swing of his bat. The pain forced Bill to blink ending the beam and allowing Cyrus to rush to help. Bill began to slam his fists against the island, sending shock waves with each hit. Cyrus jumped up and began to assault Bill's eye with a flurry of swings, ending with a downward stab, sending Bill reeling in pain. Bill shook away the pain, another glare shot towards them as his body flared red again. Floating around the vast void of the mindscape, Bill began to grab at the fragmented islands of land, hurling them towards Cyrus and Stan. Stan running and avoiding the debris of the islands as best he could. Cyrus doing much the same, until he decided to stop running. Holding Radiant Requiem like Stan held his bat as best he could, he reeled it back and waited for Bill to throw another island, which he didn't need to wait long for. Soon, the island grew closer and closer to him, until it was just in front of him. Swinging his keyblade with all he had, he sent the island back at Bill, who was surprised by it suddenly coming towards him he couldn't get out of the way.

Bill twirled back to the island they were on, slamming into it, his one eye spinning as he was dazed by the blow. Stan saw his chance, running over to Bill, he began to swing his bat, smacking Bill's eye as hard as he could with each blow, Bill's pained groans echoing the mindscape with each blow. Cyrus joining in, thrusting the keyblade directly into Bill's eye to start his own assault. Bill managed to right himself, before either finished. An angered growl left him, Bill swept his arms against the island sending Stan and Cyrus flying across it. "Fun time's over!" His body flaring into red again. With a snap of his fingers, he vanished the sky of the mindscape turning crimson. Bill reappeared, in a smaller form. Snapping his fingers again, above him began to rain flaming debris, with a wave of his hands, strange eyes with wings began to fly around the island, Stan batting them away whenever one drew close. Bill pointed his finger towards them, Cyrus quickly grabbed Stan and dove to the side as a beam scorched the ground they were once on. "Sit still I'll make it quick!" Firing off more blasts, Cyrus and Stan continued to avoid it, the debris and the eye-bats. Cyrus leaving Stan to close in on Bill. Closing the distance, and jumping over his fired beam, he smacked Bill with his keyblade, sending him spinning away. Bill righted himself, lifting his fist into the air, it lengthened and doubled in size. Slamming it down, on Cyrus who blocked it. While Cyrus struggled to keep it from crushing him, Bill laughed and used his free hand to point a finger gun at Cyrus.

Just as Bill was about to blast him, he caught a eyeful of baseball bat, Stan launching Bill across the island. Cyrus managed to stand back up, Bill once again glaring at them. "ENOUGH!" With a thunderous shout, Bill grew back to his immense size, slamming both hands against the island, tipping it over. Digging his keyblade into the ground, Cyrus grabbed Stan to prevent them both from falling forever. Bill floated in the void below them, the islands of the mindscape swirling below him. "Last chance Smithy! OPEN THE DOOR ALREADY!" Cyrus looked at Stan, then back to Bill, who was charging another eye blast. Deciding to the chance he went with his gut.

"Open it yourself!" With a shout, Cyrus pulled Radiant Requiem free, hurling it towards Bill, just as he fired the eye blast. The keyblade flew straight through the blast unaffected by it, finding it's target, the dead center of Bill's eye. Bill's pained scream filled the air, as the island above them soon found it's self below them, falling back onto it. Groaning as they stood up, they saw Bill writhing about in pain in the distance, a shining light emanating from him before he exploded into light, Radiant Requiem stabbing into the ground directly in front of him. Finally given a chance to breathe, Stan and Cyrus fell to their knees panting. 

"Open it yourself, was that really the best ya had?" Stan looked over to Cyrus who shot him a look.

"What, you think you could do any better?" Cyrus use his keyblade to get back to his feet, looking up as the spheres holding Dipper and Mabel lowered down in front of them. Stan limping over to the spheres and readied his bat. Swinging his bat, trying to break them out, only for the bat to shatter into splinters, leaving him looking at the broken end of it.

"You wouldn't happen to know how to open these things would ya? I'm out of ideas." Cyrus looked down at his keyblade, remembering back to what Bill's driving motivation for kidnapping the two was. Going out on a limb, Cyrus aimed the tip of Radiant Requiem at the spheres, for a moment nothing seemed to happen, only for a light to appear at the tip of his blade, a keyhole appearing, the chains that covered the spheres connected to it. A thin white beam of light went from the tip of his keyblade to the keyhole, an clear click filling the air, before the spheres popped, Dipper and Mabel gently floating down, Stan grabbing hold of both of them, finding them fast asleep. "Now, how do we get out of here?" As if answering, the mindscaped flared white, and they found themselves back in the clearing they entered from.

"Guess that's your answer." Cyrus couldn't help, but smirk. Stan let out a weary sigh.

"Well, I'm gonna get these two back, and find myself a new bat." Stan walked away from him, only for Cyrus to stop him. Grabbing him by the shoulders as he did back in the basement of the Mystery Shack. Looking him in the eyes as he spoke. "When they wake up, don't tell them about me, make up a story about them about what happened, but do not mention me. Let them think I was just a dream, ok?" Stan nodded.

"Don't worry kid, lying was legally my middle name once." Stan began his walk back to the Mystery Shack, turning back once last time, to look at Cyrus. "Take care of yourself kid, they might not remember when they wake up, but doesn't mean I'll forget ya." With that Stan walked off, Cyrus couldn't help, but grin, before remembering the device DiZ had given him, noticing it was still on even now. Turning away from where Stan was going, Cyrus began to talk.

"I'm guessing you've been seeing the same things I've seen? I have no idea how this thing works or even if ya can hear me, but if ya can, I'm gonna be heading back now." Cyrus placed the device back into his pocket, walking further into forest until he found the same crater he arrived in. Taking his Star Shard out, he noticed a piece of paper fall out of his pocket. Picking it up, he read what was on it. 

GDUNQHVV LQ CHUR, ZKDW D FRRO QDPH

Cyrus looked at the words on the paper utterly confused, before throwing the paper aside, focusing with the Star Shard, the light of which soon covered him. As he was rocketed through the air once again. Feeling the eyes of the forest on him until he landed back in Twilight Town. He wouldn't forget his time in Gravity Falls for a long while. Now, all he needed to do was meet back up with DiZ and learn what he was to do next. All he could do was hope it wasn't as weird as his short time in Gravity Falls.

Chapter Text

DiZ kept Cyrus busy once he returned from Gravity Falls, revealing to him what the strange emblem heartless were. An experiment on hearts by the Organization, was what resulted in their creation. Something about what he had said didn't fell like he was telling him everything, but their origin didn't really matter to him. He had a job to do, keep the worlds from falling into darkness, and stopping the Organization, even though they still had no leads on them. Over the few years they had been working together, the basement of manor quickly took shape, DiZ's vision for it coming together perfectly, despite some minor hang ups when it came to getting the digital transference device installed, but they managed. Cyrus was currently working on how he was supposed to get the stasis pods created, it was going to require a metal he lacked the means to create, even with the materials DiZ could provide him, he needed more time to get it made if he was to actually make it. While he poured over the blueprint, he didn't notice DiZ enter the Immense White Room. Only taking notice when he was directly behind him. "Oh hey DiZ, still working on figuring out how to start the Stasis pods, this is harder then I first thought, but I'll manage." Cyrus got up from his chair, stretching a bit from how long he had been sitting down. "So need something? Has something fallen out of place again?" DiZ shook his head, motioning for Cyrus to follow. Walking back to DiZ's computer room, Cyrus waited for DiZ to tell him what he wanted to tell him.

Once he got into his seat DiZ began. "I believe I have made a troubling revelation." DiZ moved over enough that Cyrus could see the screens on the computer. "It appears that worlds have been disappearing from the night sky." Cyrus couldn't help, but feel as if he knew what DiZ meant by disappearing from the night sky, but he couldn't remember why. DiZ opened a file he had on the computer revealing what appeared to be a portion of the night sky taken from here in Twilight Town. "Though, it may appear to others that nothing has changed, but watch." Clicking the file, the picture changed ever so slightly, while remaining seemingly unaltered, Cyrus saw what he meant, one of the stars from the previous picture was gone. The picture changed once again, 3 stars missing this time, again and then 4 were gone. Closing the file, DiZ looked back at Cyrus. "I fear that we have been overlooking how much of a threat the heartless truly are." Cyrus crossed his arms, gazing down to the floor.

"I can't go to every world there is and keep them safe, I'm only one person." Looking back at DiZ, he nodded in confirmation.

"Correct, even we cannot hope to save every world from the darkness, but that does not mean we cannot inform those with knowledge of other worlds of the danger of the Heartless." DiZ opened a separate file, pulling open what appeared to be the main street of some town. "Before I came across this manor, I traveled many worlds, finding one that stood out from the rest." Several other pictures appeared show casing separate places within the town. "This town serves as refuge for those whose own worlds were consumed by darkness, though not everyone from those worlds arrive there." Cyrus continued to look at the pictures, the layout of the town looked rather strange, and looked like it was easy to get lost in. "It's name is Traverse Town."

DiZ closed the file, standing to face Cyrus. "Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to arrive there with the methods we employ, your Star Shard will not be able to ferry you there. The only methods I have learned about are via Gummi Ship, and darkness." Cyrus recrossed his arms.

"Well then this plan is doomed from the get go, I can only really travel using the Star Shard, and I've been around long enough to know ya don't have a Gummi Ship stashed somewhere." DiZ walked past Cyrus, walking through the doorway that led to the upper parts of the manor.

"We do possess one option." Cyrus looked at DiZ like he was speaking nonsense, before shrugging his shoulders and following him. Arriving in the foyer, Cyrus watched as DiZ turned around to face him. DiZ lifted his hand up and clenching his fist. A warping sound filled the empty halls of the manor, the sound resonating within his mind, putting him into throes of pain, a memory forcing itself to the forefront of his mind, a mysterious figure, wearing a black coat, followed by him getting kicked in the face. He felt DiZ's hand on his shoulder, shaking him lightly, pulling him from the memory. "Careful now, it appears that your memories respond to outside stimulus, though the act of dredging the memories from the depths of your heart causing significant pain, I apologize for putting you through that pain, but this is our only method to arriving there." Cyrus's eyes trailed over to the dark portal before him, even though the memory of his first encounter with one returned to him, he still wasn't sure how they worked. Looking over to DiZ, a look of questioning in his eyes.

"These are known as Corridors of Darkness, they allow for travel between worlds using the darkness that lingers between them." DiZ walked around the dark corridor, as if inspecting it. "These are the method of which allowed me to arrive here." DiZ fell silent for a moment. "After what they had done to me." Cyrus looked over at DiZ, concerned to what had truly happened to him. "Though, the use of them does pose a risk to the traveler, if they are unequipped for traversing the darkness within." Cyrus felt uneasy looking at it, the darkness swirling around it, fusing with it, fading from it, all at the same time. "But you need not worry, the clothing you were are similar to mine in that respect, all you need do, is to not stray from the path between the corridors." Cyrus really didn't want to go, it gave him all the red flags of a bad time.

Cyrus looked over to DiZ. "You are 100% certain this won't kill me?" DiZ nodded. Cyrus sighed deeply, breathing in deeply, working his courage up.

"As before, once you arrive, investigate the town, this time do not get sidetracked by children." Cyrus rolled his eyes at that. Carefully, he walked up to the portal, standing just short of it. He gave DiZ one last look, gulping down what saliva had gathered in his mouth. Closing his eyes, he stepped into the portal. Feeling weightless for but a moment, before himself standing upon solid ground again. Opening his eyes, and letting out the breath he was holding. He looked around, finding himself in what appeared to be a realm of pure darkness, barely able to make out some distant otherworldly landmasses. Blue vein like lines running across some of them, in the distance he thought he saw someone else, the faintest memory playing at his mind, but he still remembered nothing. Walking along the platform, he heard nothing, the realm was silent, save for an faint echo. Cyrus couldn't help, but stare at the realm. Was this where DiZ once was? He was in awe of the realm, though he was deeply unsettled by it, he could feel the darkness on his skin. Being here made him feel sick, yet he continued on regardless. As he walked ever onward, he could still hear what sounded like fighting, fading away in the distance of the realm. As he continued on, he saw another portal open in the distance, deciding not to linger any longer. Running towards the portal, he stopped when he heard what appeared be another portal opening behind him, wasting no time, he ran through the portal, unaware of the black coated figure standing not far behind him.

Emerging from the portal, he almost tripped over his own two feet. Allowing him to breath the clear air of the world, he looked around hoping to spot a familiar location from the pictures, so he knew he hadn't wound up in a different world. He spotted a building with the word Hotel emblazoned above it. Recognizing it from the file DiZ had shown him, Cyrus gave a sigh of relief, brushing himself down so he looked presentable. He made to walk through the large wooden doors ahead of him, he really needed to find a map of this place or he'd be here all day. Pushing through the doors, he saw even more buildings, all with various different signs for different shops. He walked down from where he was, coming across what he believed to be the town center, finding what looked like a small cafe, all with 2 sets of large wooden doors, one to his left and another directly in front of him. "Quite the place they've got here." He had to admit, even if this was a world for people displaced by the darkness, they made it their own. As he admired the looks of the town, he felt the tip of a blade press against the back of his neck. Tensing his body, he slowly raised his hands into the air.

"Who are you?" There was something about this person's voice that felt familiar, but he was more focused on the blade pointed at his neck.

"Just......a traveler." Cyrus felt the tip push ever slightly into to him, making him think he said the wrong thing.

"Don't get a lot of travelers, just desperate people looking for help, so tell me, what are you here for?" Cyrus slowly began to turn, feeling the tip of the blade trace along his neck as he did.

"Would you believe me if I said I came to help?" As Cyrus turned, the form of the one threatening him came into view. When they locked eyes, both couldn't believe who stood in front of them. Standing in front of Cyrus, was a significantly older Squall Leonhart , or Leon as they always called him. Cyrus's eyes must have matched Leon's with how big his were at seeing Cyrus after all this time. "Kid?"

Leon pulled Cyrus into a hug before he answered. Cyrus gladly returned the hug. Both standing there, not leaving each other's embrace for several moments. "I thought you died" Was all he said, quietly. Cyrus felt the guilt from having not seen them in so long. Finally pulling away, Cyrus got a better look at him, and he had certainly grown a fair bit, he was just as tall as Cyrus. "You're grown since I last saw ya." Leon quickly composed himself, letting his gunblade, which now fit his taller stature, hang off his shoulder.

"Where have you been all this time? All Cid ever told us was that you'd find us later." Cyrus scratched at his neck.

"Well, can we talk somewhere less open? And where are Cid and the others?" Leon nodded leading Cyrus back up the stairs and into the main store directly at the end of it. Opening the door and heading in, Cyrus followed closely behind. Closing it behind him, he heard another familiar voice, this one sounding a lot older. "Be with ya in a minute! Blasted generator acting up again!" The sound of steeling smashing against steel echoed out from the backroom. Leon taking a seat on one of the couches they kept in the room. A fireplace nearby, warming the room. Cyrus sat across from Leon, looking idly at the books that littered the table, his eyes glancing them, noticing an odd title on one of them.

ZKRHYHU GHVLJQHG WKLV WRZQ QHHGV WR EH ILUHG

Paying it no mind, he looked back at Leon. "Listen, I can't begin to apologize for what happened, but it's not that I don't want too, its that I can't really remember what happened to begin with, its all kinda a blur." Before Leon could react to what he said, from the backroom came out Cid, oil slightly staining his shirt.

"Sorry for the wait, blasted thing keeps failing at the worst of times, no what can I do ya fo-" Cid was cut off when he saw who was staring back at him. Cyrus awkwardly raising his hand to say hello to Cid. Cid reacted quickly, hurling the wrench in his hand at Cyrus, bouncing it off of his head. Cyrus recoiling in pain, as Cid rounded the counter in front of him.

"Of all the days you decide to show back up, ya make it now! Of all the reckless, stupid things you've thought up. ya run off right before we booked it outta there!" Cid's shouting was making the headache he was getting from taking a wrench to the face come on even faster.

"Well hello to you too Cid." Cyrus groaned out as he nursed the rapidly forming bruise.

"Don't you 'Hello Cid' me! Do you know just what ya put us through?"

Cyrus shook his head. "No I actually don't, I don't even remember what happened. All I know is I got torn to shreds, and the only things I could remember were all of you. All I could do was hope you were all alright." Cid looked at him both concerned and confused.

"What do ya mean ya don't remember, its kinda hard to forget how quick things fell apart back home." All Cyrus could do was shake his head.

"Like I said, I don't remember anything of what happened, I don't even remember anything before that either, just you guys." Cid grumbled out something utter his breath, leaning over the counter to grab something, pulling out a small bottle with a green liquid inside it. Cid pulled the top off before draining the liquid on Cyrus's head, it quickly fading away, along with the forming bruise and what pain Cyrus was feeling from it. Cid pulling over a seat to sit down.

"Now, you're telling me that ya don't remember anything, but us?" Cyrus nodded, rubbing where the form was bruising, making sure it was gone.

"Yeah, it's all kinda faded, but I have been remembering some things, but it apparently needs some sort of stimulation to get the memory flowing back to me." Cyrus looked back down at table, running his hand through his hair. "Friend I met is kinda in the same boat as me, so we agreed to help each other, it's kinda where I've been this whole time." Cid crossed his arm, grimacing as he did.

"So your memories effectively gone for the time being, ya met someone after ya were torn to shreds by the heartless, and you and whoever ya friend is have been working together ever since?" Cyrus nodded idly, his mind beginning to throb in pain, he was torn up by the heartless?

"Cid, what exactly happened, I can't remember anything about what happened." Cid sighed, running a hand through his own hair.

"Well even I can't tell ya for sure, just that suddenly one morning, the world was thrown into darkness, Heartless swarming every which way ya could look, we could barely got out of there in one piece, we picked up Scrooge and his grandnephews before we left, seemed their first thought was to get to the Gummi Ship too. After we got the Gummi ship in the air, I found that whatever piece ya installed was actually set to this place, found out from that old crazy coot of wizard that he gave ya the piece that led here." Cid looked down at the table. "Once we got settled, I tried to go back home and see what happened, but it was an absolute mess, couldn't even hope to try and land the way it was." Leon looked over to Cyrus, seeing that he was listening intently to what happened. "You had decided to run off and see if ya could stop it, I would have chased after you, but there were too many heartless swarming everywhere."

"Well I'm glad ya got yourselves out of there, but I actually came here to talk with you, well I think I need to talk with you anyway. I came here to talk about something that's been happening to other worlds." Cid stood up from his seat, walking back around the counter and closing the back door.

"Well, we should probably meet up with Yuffie and Aerith, they're at the Hotel, least they should be, unless Yuffie decided to do some roof running again." Cid grabbed his lance from behind the counter, Cyrus picking up his wrench from the floor, handing it over to him. "Hope ya haven't forgotten how to fight because Heartless are still an issue, even here." Cyrus shrugged and summoned Radiant Requiem, catching both off guard. "Wait, what happened to Wanderlust?"

"When I woke up, it was broken into bits, my friend helped me forge up a new one, ya like it?" Cid took hold of it, inspecting it closely

"Well I'll be, look at this, I'll admit you certainly know how to make weapons from scratch." Cid tossed it back to Cyrus, Leon finally getting up, following them outside. Locking the door behind them, Cid lead the them back the way Cyrus came. As they arrived back where Cyrus had first showed up, walking towards the Hotel he had seen. "Most folks who wind up here live in here, we've been working on expanding the living districts, but that's been on back burner since the heartless keep showing up." As Cid opened the door, he was toppled over as several helmet heartless fell on top of him, all of which quickly fading away into wisps of darkness. Cid's shouts came out both angry and surprised as he scrambled to his feet.

"Sorry bout that, little guys thought they could get past me." Cyrus looked over to person walking out of the hotel door. Finding Yuffie, definitely older, and rather uniquely dressed.

"Yuffie what are you wearing?" Cyrus's question caught Yuffie's attention, looking over from Cid to Cyrus, gasping as she did, hands raised to her mouth. Not a word left her mouth, as she leaped into Cyrus, hugging him tightly, causing him to spin as she did. The two shared the hug for a few moments long, before Cyrus broke it off. "Seriously, what are you wearing." Yuffie puffed out her cheeks and stomped her foot in embarrassment, Cid chuckling at the sight.

"Told ya he'd agree with me." Yuffie glared at him, turning away from both of them.

"They are my ninja clothes! They don't restrict me while I'm working!"

Cyrus raised an eyebrow at this. "Why do the shorts need to be so short then?" Yuffie's cheeks puffed out again. Even after so long, she was still a kid at heart.

"You've been gone so long and the first thing ya do when ya get back is make fun of my clothing!?" Yuffie poked him in the chest, emphasizing her point. Cyrus rubbed the back of his head, awkwardly laughing under his breath. Yuffie rested her hands on her hips, looking up at Cyrus as he was still head and shoulders taller than her. "I'm just happy to see you're still alive and kicking, but that doesn't excuse you not visiting if you were ok for so long!" She pointed an accusing finger at him, Cyrus raising both his hands in surrender.

"You've got me there, but I've been busy since then, I'll explain when we get to Aerith, speaking of which, is she still here?" Yuffie nodded, pointing over her shoulder.

"Yeah, except she's kinda talking with the King at the moment, but I know he wouldn't mind seeing ya again." Cyrus cocked his head to the side, wondering who this King was. As she turned around to open the hotel door, the air was filled with the ever familiar warping sound of Heartless appearing. All of them looking around the area, finding several Heartless appearing all over the place. Several monkey looking heartless appearing just down the way from them, Yuffie looking inside the hotel to see several other Heartless appearing in there as well. Cid being the first to react.

"Yuffie, you handle the ones inside, and make sure Aerith is ok. Leon, Cyrus, we'll handle the ones out here." Yuffie nodded, taking out her shurikens, running back inside. Cid readying his lance, running down the street after the monkey like heartless, Leon making short work of several helmet heartless that jumped at them. Sharing a glance with Cyrus, before rushing away to deal with the heartless. Cyrus leaping over the railing, slamming his keyblade through a large bodied heartless. Readying himself, he began to deal with the heartless, slashing and smacking them away. The monkey like heartless Cid was fighting against, jumped over the railing to join the heartless fighting Cyrus. Leon was just slashing through whatever heartless went after him. The heartless seemed to concern themselves less with Cid and Leon, only a few Heartless that appeared actually fought them, focusing more on Cyrus. He soon found himself surrounded by heartless, even if they didn't last long against Radiant Requiem, they were beginning to overwhelm him purely through numbers.

Leon aimed his gunblade towards the swarm, firing off a powerful blast, destroying a good chunk of them. Cid dealing with his own heartless, tearing through them with ease, not having lost his agility in his age. Cyrus used one of the large heartless as a leaping point, he got into the air. Aiming his keyblade directly back down, he felt power surge through the keyblade. Charging directly down, his keyblade pierced the ground, a shock wave pulsing through the air, destroying the heartless that swarmed him. It was certainly a new feeling for him, he knows he couldn't use magic, so this was something different.  More heartless appeared, giving Cyrus no time to react or pull his keyblade free from the ground. Just as one of the monkey like heartless charged at him, it was bashed away by another keyblade. Looking up, he saw a keyblade that brought another bout of pain in his mind, but he still didn't remember anything. He then saw the one actually holding the keyblade, short in stature, with two round ears at the top of his head. The memory that was bubbling to the surface finally unveiled itself, sending him into intense fits of pain.

Cyrus walked about the town, Cid having told him to pick up a lot of things, as they had several commissions that needed doing, and they needed materials for that, only real hang up was almost all of the shops they normally bought materials from were closed. So, here Cyrus was, walking along the waterway of the town, tracking down one of the moogles that sold almost everything they'd need, even if it did cost an arm and a leg, but if Cid wanted these materials, then he couldn't complain at the price tag. As he made his way along the waterway, he wasn't really focusing on anything, until he saw something smash into waterway a little farther away from him. Rushing over to see if someone was hurt, he looked over the railing to see what caused the impact. Seeing a blue blade jammed into the wall, stars adorning the blade, the hilt looking like two wings. Scratching at his head, Cyrus had no idea what to make about it, only noticing there was someone hanging onto the blade. "Hey! You alright down there?" Cyrus could only hope whoever was hanging on was alright. He noticed someone finally staring back at him, waving up at him to catch his attention.

" Excuse me! You wouldn't happened to have a way to help me up?" Cyrus looked around, then patting down his pockets, lowering his head as he didn't have anything on hand. Raising his head, he snapped his fingers, summoning Wanderlust before hanging it down over the railing, just far enough for him to be able to reach whoever was stuck in the wall. Whoever was down there, jumped up on their blade, using it to balance himself, before jumping and taking hold of Wanderlust's blade. Pulling up the person with ease, he quickly let the person down, getting a good look at him. He wasn't tall at all, about up to Cyrus's waist. The most prominent thing about him though, where his ears, large and round, sticking out of the top of his head. Whoever this person was, he wasn't from around Radiant Garden, that was certain. This person held out his hand to him, wanting him to shake it. "Gosh, that was close, I'm still learning to get around with the Star Shard. Thanks for helping me out there, Mr?"

Cyrus took his hand and shook it. "Cyrus, glad to see you're alright, but how did ya even get your blade stuck in the wall?" Mickey looked a little embarrassed.

"I couldn't really see where I was going, it all kinda was white, but it faded when I got closer. I might've panicked and used my keyblade to brace myself." Mickey looked over to Cyrus's hand, seeing Wanderlust. Needless to say, he was surprised. "Is that? No way!" Cyrus looked down at Wanderlust, wondering why he was so confused.

"What's up?" Mickey held his hand out, and the blade that was jammed into the wall appeared in his hand, giving Cyrus a better view of it. He was impressed by how it looked. "Huh, neat, kinda looks like mine." Mickey shook his head.

"But Master Yen Sid never mentioned that there would be other keyblade users around here." Cyrus raised an eyebrow.

"Don't know who this Yen Sid is, but if what you have, is the same as mine, can I take a look at it back at the workshop?" Mickey clearly had no idea what he was referring too, so he carried on. "Ya see, I made my 'keyblade' as it were, well I didn't make it from scratch, I kinda just enhanced it, built upon it ya know?" Mickey looked like he was starting to catch on. "So if what I have, is the same as what you have, then maybe I can enhance your's like I did mine."

Mickey gave him a nod. "Gosh, you'd do that for me?" Cyrus smiled at him, pressing his thumb against his chest.

"I'll never pass up a chance to test my skills, all I ask is that ya let me try at least. What do ya say? Uh, ya never actually told me your name."

"My name's Mickey, Mickey Mouse!"

"Heal!" Coming back to reality, he felt the pain in his mind, fade almost instantly, opening his eyes to see Mickey finishing off what Heartless remained, he felt a hand on his shoulder, looking over to see Aerith, a concerned look etched on her face. Mickey finished off the heartless, what few were scattered around the area warped away, Mickey finally relaxing out of his combat stance, turning to look at Cyrus, rushing over as Aerith helped him up.

"Are you ok Cyrus? Yuffie came and told us what was happening, I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner." Cyrus shook his head.

"Ya got here just in time, glad to see your doing well." Cyrus looked over to Aerith, he wouldn't lie, to see all the kids he had known since they were still young having grown as they did, it made him happy beyond compare. "Kinda just happy to see all of you again." Mickey smiled, looking over to Aerith, who continued to hold Cyrus up. "You wouldn't happen to have somewhere we could all chat without worrying about heartless would ya?" Aerith nodded and began to lead him back towards the hotel, Mickey following closely behind.

"So" Aerith was the first to begin after Cyrus explained to them what had happened to him, from waking up, meeting DiZ, but not mentioning him by name, to the fact his memory is coming back in bits and pieces. "You came here to warn us about what has been happening to other worlds, along with that you and your friend have been working against them the entire time you've been gone?" Cyrus nodded.

"That about sums it up, I'm still working on getting my memories back, and I hate to admit, but I also forgot Mickey, only remember him when I saw him earlier, the only things I didn't forget are, like I said, you guys, my name, my blacksmithing, and another name I haven't been able to understand at all." Cyrus fell silent, gauging everyone's expressions, Aerith was concerned, as was Mickey, Yuffie seemed to be really drawn in, Leon looked as uninterested as ever, while Cid has his arms crossed. "Ansem, that's the only other name I woke up remembering." Mickey looked surprised at this, not mentioning anything out loud, focusing on thinking about something. Aerith walked over to Cyrus and placed her hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry I worried you like I did. I only hope you can forgive me." Cid chuckled at this.

"Kid, you know that we can't blame you for what happened, but if ya do it again I swear you'll will you'd be able to forget what I'll do to ya."

Mickey walked over to Cyrus, who quickly turned his attention to him. "Cyrus, if you don't mind, can we go to see Master Yen Sid? Maybe he might be able to help with your memory." Cyrus looked over to the others, silently asking if he could go. All of them gave their own form of confirmation, Cyrus and Mickey leaving the hotel not long after. Mickey leading him out through the main doors of the town. Leaving Cyrus looking at the design of the Gummi Ship proper. It was certainly different from the one that Cid and Cyrus had. "Do ya like it? Chip and Dale really out did themselves with it huh?" Cyrus nodded idly as they approached, a ramp slowly descended down, allowing them aboard. Cyrus standing back as a new seat appeared, Mickey chuckling at his reaction. "Pretty cool huh? Chip and Dale made it so the ship adjusts for how many people are aboard, Now don't you worry I'll get us to Master Yen Sid's asap!" Mickey took his seat in the main seat of the ship, Cyrus sitting in the chair that had appeared. Pressing a few buttons, the Gummi Ship taking off from the world.

This might have been the first time Cyrus has seen the ocean of stars between the worlds, the Gummi Ship Cid and Cyrus used had never been able to leave the world, the only time it ever left the world was before it fell to darkness. He couldn't believe how beautiful the stars were, each star a world of its own. If he could, he would stay watching the stars for the rest of his life. Mickey taking notice of his awe. "I can never get over how pretty the stars look from here." Cyrus nodding in agreement. "If only I knew how to keep them safe from the darkness, I don't want to see anymore stars go out." Cyrus watched in silence, the stars taking his full attention. Not long after, He felt the Gummi Ship start landing, shaking him from his trance from the stars. Mickey and him exiting, walking towards the Mysterious Tower ahead of them. Slowly, they made their way up the ever-winding staircases of the tower, eventually coming upon the top of the tower, and what Cyrus hoped was the final door. Mickey opened the door and led Cyrus inside. As Cyrus walked in, he saw someone sitting in the center of room, looking over a large book. Another memory sparked through his mind, blinding him in pain.

Cyrus really wasn't sure why he agreed to meet Mickey's Master, but Mickey believed that he might learn a lot from him, so here he was, outside a strange looking tower. Mickey had told him that his master, Yen Sid, was a former keyblade master, and was currently helping him train in using the keyblade. Mickey believed that he might also train Cyrus, who was mostly self taught in fighting. Cyrus swore he could smell something akin to the old books Cid kept in the back of the workshop. Mickey showed Cyrus inside, Cyrus taking in the decor of the tower's stairwell, this place had the feel of a powerful wizard to it, he actually liked it. Mickey walked ahead of him, Cyrus admiring the how the tower looked from the inside. Not long after the two reached the top, Mickey opened the door, revealing the blue robed man within. The man's attention immediately turning towards the two of them, Mickey walking forward, bowing to him, before he addressed him. "Master, this is Cyrus, he's the one I told you about, the one who enhanced the Star Seeker." Mickey's master, Yen Sid if he remembered correctly stood from his seat, before walking over to them, giving Mickey a nod of his head before he turned to Cyrus. "My student spoke volumes about you, and from what I have seen, he speaks true of what you have done to the keyblade he wields. He has also informed me that you too possess a keyblade, I ask that you show me, if it is not too much of an ask." Cyrus shrugged his shoulders, summoning Wanderlust, before handing it over to Yen Sid, who began to examine it. Closing his eyes for a moment, before opening them, he spoke. "There is no mistaking the craftsmanship, this is a keyblade created by a blacksmith trained in the ways of keyblade forging. I have no seen one created as such before in my lifetime, the last keyblade I had even seen created by such a blacksmith belongs now to an old friend." Yen Sid looked back at Cyrus. "Tell me, do you remember where you learned to do such work?" 

Cyrus shook his head. "Nope, kinda just do, it's weird I know, but it's kinda how it is" Yen Sid closed his eyes once again, returning Wanderlust to Cyrus. Before walking back to his chair.

"Very well, I believe we have much to discuss then."

Cyrus felt a hand on his shoulder as the pain from the memory faded, looking up to find Yen Sid using some form of magic on him. As Cyrus stood up, Yen Sid backed away from him, eyes closed in contemplation. "How troubling indeed." Mickey, after making sure Cyrus was ok approached Yen Sid.

"Master, we were hoping that you might have a way to help restore Cyrus's memory, you see-" Mickey was cut off by Yen Sid, who had returned to his seat.

"I know, I had sensed the darkness within him the moment he arrived here. It would appear that due to his world falling to the darkness, he nearly lost his heart to it, yet even against such darkness it remained firm, but not unscathed. Though he survived his brush with the darkness, the chain of memories of his heart did not. The darkness now permeates his heart. Sadly, there is nothing I can do to restore his memories." Cyrus sighed in defeat, another option dashed. "But this does not mean his memories are gone forever." Cyrus looked up at Yen Sid, hope blooming in his eyes. "It was evident when he gazed upon me, the memories he had relating to me returned to him, this means that they can be returned, but this I am doubtful you didn't already know." Yen Sid looked at Cyrus. "I will not lie to you, what befell you when your world fell, has left you irreparably changed. From having so nearly lost your heart, your heart will be weak to the temptations of the darkness, but you mustn't give in, no matter how enticing it might seem, for if you do, you may very well lose your heart forever." Cyrus felt the weight of what had happened to him begin to bear down on him.

"Yen Sid, do you know what happened to the world I was from, even now I can't remember a single thing about it." Yen Sid nodded, his gaze turning to the stars outside.

"Indeed, the stars have told me that it too fell to the darkness, doubtless you are well aware of this already. As for the cause and those behind it, this I am afraid I do not know." His gaze returned to Cyrus. "I am afraid though you world did not fall into the realm of darkness, it is, but a hollow shell of the bastion of light it once was." Cyrus looked out the window as well, gazing into the stars outside.

"A....Hollow Bastion?" Yen Sid watched as a tear rolled down Cyrus's cheek, which he then took notice of. "Why am I crying? I can't even remember it's real name, so why am I crying?" Cyrus did his best to wipe the tears away.

"Though you may not remember it, your heart will never forget even if the memories are faded. To cry for one's world is only natural." Cyrus did his best to stop the tears, taking a few moment to finally stop crying.

"The darkness has been claiming more and more worlds as of late, Mickey and myself have been doing all we could to stop this, but I fear that unless we seal the door to darkness, that goal with be unreachable." Cyrus looked at Yen Sid, wondering just what this door to darkness was. Yen Sid sensing his unasked question continued. "This door, is one that leads to the realm of darkness, and it is only able to be closed from that outside and the inside at the same time, with one who wields the key of the realm of light and another who wields the key of the realm of darkness. Yet, for all of my searching, even the stars have found naught." Cyrus crossed his arms, wondering if DiZ could assist in locating these keys.

"I don't know how I can help, but I'll try my best to help regardless." Cyrus made to leave the tower, wanting to return to DiZ and help find these keys to save the worlds from darkness, only to be stopped by Yen Sid.

"Please, be careful, the darkness will be even more dangerous to you now, if it manages to find its way into your heart, and overwhelm it." Taking Yen Sid's warning to heart, he gave him a quick nod and a thumbs up, before leaving. Arriving outside, he pulled the device DiZ always had him carry out. A Dark Corridor appearing in front of him, entering it without hesitation. Yen Sid and Mickey remaining together quietly.

"Master?" Mickey was concerned with Yen Sid's silence.

"I can only hope he is truly stronger than the darkness he works with, or else I fear we may never be able to save his heart from the darkness." Was all Yen Sid said as he gazed back out the window, into the endless sea of stars outside, watching as another's light blinked out.

Chapter Text

Ever since returning to DiZ, they began their own search for the key to realm of light. DiZ, tasked Cyrus with frequenting Traverse Town, keeping tabs on the happenings there, as well as dispatching any heartless that were to turn up. DiZ and him had been busy, working tirelessly to both find this key, as well as anything relating to the Organization, yet despite their efforts, they were still finding very little. Cyrus had worked endless on the manor, finally finishing the White Room, eventually deciding on simply giving up on the stasis pod, it just wasn't practical with what they had. DiZ didn't seem bothered by the fact that they needed to abandon that project. Soon Cyrus found himself with quite a bit of free time once most of the work had been done, besides some maintenance every now and again, Cyrus was almost always off world, in Traverse Town, helping Leon and the others with the heartless. Yet, today was unlike the others, DiZ had actually called him back to Twilight Town from Traverse Town, using the device he kept on him. Walking through the Dark Corridor, Cyrus was still unsettled while walking through the realm of darkness, even if he wasn't there for long. He had taken Yen Sid's advice to heart, never lingering so close to the darkness for long.

Arriving back outside of the manor, Cyrus took notice that nothing seemed out of the ordinary, walking inside wondering why DiZ called him back so suddenly. Making his way back down into the basement he found DiZ typing away at his computer once again. "You called?" DiZ took notice of Cyrus's arrival, turning slightly to face him, before returning to his typing. Cyrus walked up behind him, looking over his shoulder at what he was typing.

"You probably do not know of this yet, but King Mickey has left his home in search for the key to darkness, it would appear the key to light has finally appeared." Cyrus watched as DiZ typed away. "Though it would seem, the Organization has also taken notice of its appearance as well."  DiZ finally turned away from his computer, "Whoever the wielder of the key of light be found in Traverse Town, their home having fallen into darkness. We cannot afford to constantly watch over him, if the keyblade has chosen him, then he must fend for himself. Our mission will be to encounter and potentially dispatch any members of the Organization we encounter. Doubtless, they will be taking interest in this wielder as well." Cyrus was curious as to who this new keyblade wielder was. "I will remain here and monitor our progress, and work to locate them, I believe I am getting close to one of their strongholds. As for you Cyrus, I will need you to work in the field, I also fear that they are growing wise to our location, as such I will require you to locate the gate outside of the manor. Locking the gate with your keyblade should keep them from being able to appear inside of the manor." Cyrus nodded, turning to leave to do that, only to be stopped by DiZ.

"Before you leave, I must show you something." DiZ brought Cyrus back outside into the court yard. "I wish to show you how to open the Dark Corridors, ever since you informed me of the darkness within your heart, I believe that you might be able to open them as well" Cyrus was concerned about this, Yen Sid had told him to not allow the darkness further into his heart, but DiZ had managed to control the darkness in such a way to use them, so maybe he could as well. DiZ walked over to just outside of the gate, Cyrus close behind. "Now, while this prove difficult for you, but once you have done it, to open them again should prove simple." DiZ turned around, holding out his hand, before once again a Dark Corridor appeared. "The way I open the corridors, is by focusing on the world of which I which to travel too, I use the darkness to form a means of travel there, through sheer force of will." Cyrus looked very unconvinced about this.

"That isn't really helpful." Cyrus walked over to DiZ, who turned back to him.

"I will admit, it is difficult to explain, but that was how I managed to gain control over the darkness." Cyrus still didn't believe what DiZ had told him, but followed through with what he had told him. He had chosen Traverse Town, wanting to return and help Leon and the others. He suddenly felt the darkness around him begin to swirl and take form. He felt a strike through his heart, something wasn't right. His edges of his vision began to fall dark, his breath caught in his chest. Was this what Yen Sid meant by losing his heart to the darkness? Even though he felt the darkness begin to overwhelm him, he continued on, not wanting to let it consume his heart. The darkness edging closer on his vision suddenly retreated, as did the tightness pressing into his body. A Corridor of Darkness appearing in front of him. He fell to his knee, panting as he finally had the chance to catch his breath. DiZ looking over to him.

"It was a very similar situation when I first summoned one. The feeling of the darkness overwhelming your body, threatening to consume you whole. You should find that creating them from now on, once you can control the darkness in such a way you need not worry about it claiming your heart while using it." Cyrus got to his feet, hand clutched to his chest, rubbing it to soothe the pain. "I will return to my work, to find where the Organization hides." Cyrus idly nodded, focusing on easing the pain in his chest, DiZ walking back into the manor. Once the pain faded to a manageable level, Cyrus closed the gates to the manor. Walking back a bit from the gates, he took out his keyblade, aiming the tip at the gates. A beam of light shooting forth from it, colliding with the gates, from the light, a large blackened lock appeared on the gates, chains shooting across from the lock. Cyrus looked over the now locked gate.

"I'd better be able to get back in, because I am not unlocking and relocking that gate every time I go to get ice cream." Cyrus shook his head, walking over to the dark corridor he had made. "Hope I didn't mess this up." Walking inside of it, he felt the familiar weightlessness that came with using it, appearing out in the realm of darkness. Continuing through the realm, walking towards the other portal, he stopped when he heard another portal open behind him. Turning, Radiant Requiem in his hand, he watched as two black coated forms exited the portal.

"Well well well, what are the odds we'd cross like this." The more relaxed black coat spoke out, his voice sounding painfully familiar, but nothing came back to him. Cyrus readied himself for a fight, even if fighting here wasn't ideal, if he could manage to defeat even one of them here, it would go a great way to stopping the Organization.

"What, think you can beat me?" Cyrus pointed his keyblade menacingly at the relaxed one.

"As if! I've learned its never fun to tango with keyblade wielders, though even if you aren't important, I'm not losing another eye over it. Hey kid!" The relaxed one's hood pointed to the more skittish one next to him. "I know this is ya first real duo mission, but put on a good enough show against him and I'll cover ya on the mission. Sound good?"

The skittish one jumped at his question. "What?! No way! You know that's not how I do things, this guy looks like he'd wipe the floor with me anyway." Cyrus pointed his keyblade at the skittish one, making him jump again.

"All the more reason to make it quick then, I'll put in a good word for ya and get ya some easy missions after this one." The skittish one looked back at the relaxed one, then to Cyrus, before lowering his head in defeat.

"Man, how many times do I need to say I'm not to kinda guy for these missions." The skittish one raised one hand to the sky, what appeared to be water gathering around his open hand, before taking form into some kind of instrument of sorts. He got ready to play while pointing at Cyrus. "But if I have no choice!" The relaxed one walked further away as the skittish one and Cyrus began to clash.

"Show him what ya can do with that sitar Demyx!" The relaxed one shouted, almost encouragingly. Cyrus danced around the blasts of water this Demyx, if what the relaxed figure said was true, shot at him. Demyx strummed on his sitar, pillars of water shooting out around him. Cyrus working his way around them, finding his chance, he rushed in and knocked Demyx into the air, a shout of pain leaving him, and he could even hear the relaxed one wince at the sight of it. Cyrus began to slash Demyx while he was in the air, keeping him in the air even longer. Eventually knocking Demyx to the ground, who skidded along the ground on his feet, before leaping across the area, and unleashing a torrent of water pillars around him. He walked towards Cyrus slowly, while strumming away, orbs of water appearing above them and pelting the ground around him. Cyrus once again charging forward, thrusting his keyblade at Demyx knocking him back, only for Demyx to leap away again, leaving pillars of water in his wake, which knocked Cyrus into the air himself. Only to be pelted with more orbs of water. Bouncing back to his feet when he landed, he went to attack Demyx again, only for him to begin to play an intense melody, what appeared to be water clones of himself appearing from him and charging Cyrus. Cyrus slashed one away only for it to turn into a musical note, confused, Cyrus grabbed hold of it and began to spin it around him, it slashing through the other clones with ease. Deciding to end this before he ended up drowning on dry land, he hurled to water note at Demyx, knocking him out of his playing, Cyrus delivering a downward slam to knock Demyx away, tumbling onto his back, his sitar evaporating away. Cyrus made to destroy Demyx, but was stopped as he was blasted in the leg.

Knocked back by the suddenness of it, and rendered immobile due to the pain, he watched the relaxed one approach, two familiar looking weapons in his hands. "Sorry to break up the party, but losing members ain't really good in the grand scheme of things." The relaxed one looked back at Demyx. "Though, least I know why they don't want ya on your own, were it anyone else, they'd report you a failure and get ya turned into a dusk, but hey watching ya get smacked around like that was pretty fun." He turned back to Cyrus, who currently clutched his leg. "As for you, man what to do? The boss doesn't really have a plan for you, kinda thought you might've wound up done in by what happened, but glad to see I was wrong." Cyrus growled at him. "Now come on, what's with that face. Don't act so rude, I'm letting ya go after all." Demyx scrambled to his feet, looking at the relaxed one like he was crazy.

"Dude! He wiped the floor with me and you're just gonna let him off the hook? What if he follows us?!" The relaxed figure shrugged his shoulders.

"So what? Even if he somehow followed us back, he wouldn't last against all of us at once. You keep this between you and me, and I'll keep the fact you got creamed by him a secret as well, what do ya say?" Demyx must have looked conflicted for a moment, judging from how his head lowered in defeat again. "I'll take that as a yes." The relax figure turned back to Cyrus, struggling to his feet, using his keyblade to hold him up. "Now, you just keep on doing what you're doing, but remember we don't really care for interlopers. So keep ya nose outta out business, sound good?" Not waiting for his response, the relaxed one opened another portal, pushing Demyx through, right before he entered it himself, he turned back to Cyrus. "You behave now, ya hear!" Vanishing into the portal, leaving Cyrus with one wounded leg, and a lot of questions. Limping his way over to his own exit, he walked through it, stumbling out into an alleyway in Traverse Town, Cyrus propped himself up against a wall, searching his pockets for one of the elixirs he had made up.

He heard what sounded like fighting coming from somewhere nearby, dousing his wounded leg in the elixir, he limped his way over to where the noise was coming from. Looking from his alley, he saw a curious sight. a giant suit of armor was fighting what appeared to be a kid, a dog, and a duck. The arms of the armor spun around its body, the dog, which if he remembered correctly was named Goofy, he was Mickey's captain of the guard, and the duck was Donald, his court magician. He had only met them once, when he had arrived at Yen Sid's tower. He didn't know who this kid was though, but he was using a very unique looking weapon. He saw that the kid was using a keyblade, unlike his own or Mickey's, it actually looked like a key, the blade itself was silver in color, while the hilt was golden in color. The kid wasn't exactly agile with it, it was more then clear he wasn't experienced in fighting with it. Deciding to observe, he watched as the kid fought alongside Donald and Goofy. The pain that resonated through his leg faded not long after. Though it took time, the kid managed to defeat the armor, which turned out to be a heartless given the heart that floated into the sky. 

Not long after its defeat, he watched as Leon and Yuffie approached, but given how far he was from them, he couldn't hear what they were saying. He looked down at his leg, the pain had stopped and his clothes weren't torn from the attack, but just how quickly he was laid out, even if he was caught off guard, bothered him. He knew he needed to inform DiZ about these developments. Waiting just long enough for the kid, Donald and Goofy to leave, Cyrus began to walk back through the town, making sure to remain out of view of the trio. After they left Cid's shop, Cyrus waited a bit before going in himself. Cid welcoming him in. "Good to see ya in town, ya happen across Sora yet? " So Sora was the kid's name, he'll let DiZ know when he gets back. Cyrus shook his head, Cid shrugging. "Kid's got a keyblade like you, if ya see him maybe give him some pointers, to say he's rusty would be an understatement, Leon wiped the floor with him from what I heard." Leave it to Leon to put the kid through his paces the second he got the chance. Cid rubbed just under his nose. "So you planning on staying in town long, ya did kinda suddenly leave earlier."

Cyrus scratched his chin. "Possibly, I have to go check back in with my friend first, ya know how it is. If the kid is back in town later I'll see if there's anything I can do for him." Cid nodded while he looked over a book on the counter. Cyrus leaving quickly back out the door, watching as Sora left with Donald and Goofy out the town's front doors. Cyrus walked up the stairs, as he reached the door, he heard the sound of a dark corridor opening. Looking around behind him, he couldn't fit anything out of place, until he looked up. Seeing the form of another member of the Organization watching him, he couldn't tell if it was Demyx or the relaxed one from before. All the figure did was stare at him before walking through the portal. And now the Organization was both onto him and Sora. He needed to get back to DiZ.

Opening another dark corridor he went through, running through the realm of darkness as fast as he could, his attention turned back to the larger landmass of the realm of darkness, though it was quite a distance away, he swore he could see someone else there, but he couldn't pay it any mind. Arriving back in the foyer of the manor, he made his way to DiZ. Doubtless, he wouldn't like that the Organization has already placed the newest keyblade wielder in its sights. 

Chapter Text

Needless to say DiZ wasn't happy that the Organization was already watching Sora, and that they had already increased their number from what they possessed before. DiZ began to write up files on each member they encountered, Demyx, was apparently IX, the 9th of their group, and the relaxed one was one that DiZ seemed to know, their leader's right hand, and second in command, Number II. Cyrus still couldn't help like he knew him, there was something about his voice and the weapons he used that was stirring something in his memory. DiZ had nothing on the third Organization member, whether it actually be a third member or one of the previously encountered members. DiZ requested that Cyrus ensure that the White Room was fully maintained, so here Cyrus was, trying to figure out where the constant draft was coming from. He couldn't find anything, the room was exactly as the blueprint specified, yet the curtains still moved. It was starting to drive Cyrus insane as DiZ entered the room through a dark corridor. "I seriously can't find this blasted draft!" Cyrus groaned out defeated. DiZ simply waited for him to notice that he was there. Cyrus turned and gave DiZ a small wave before he leaned against the wall. "Something come up? Ya don't really come and talk unless it is something." DiZ raised an eyebrow at Cyrus's aggressive tone. Cyrus sighed, rubbing his temples. "Sorry, sorry, its just, losing so easily to the number II of the Organization doesn't sit right with me, I mean, we're supposed to be the ones to destroy them, how am I suppose to do that if the second in command drops me so easily?" DiZ watched silently as Cyrus voiced his concern.

"Will you allow this to keep you from destroying them for what they did?" Was all DiZ said on the matter, still staring at Cyrus. The question put Cyrus on the spot, he was mad more at himself then anything, despite everything he had been doing, nothing really had brought them closer to even finding the Organization, DiZ seemed to be the one actually making any real headway on that front. Yet, he didn't want to stop, he needn't to find out what they had done, to both him and DiZ. Cyrus shook his head, and DiZ seemed to be content with the answer. "Good, then I believe I have another world that requires investigation." DiZ walked through the dark corridor that appeared, Cyrus following behind him. Cyrus had to admit, using these dark corridors to get around a world was actually faster then walking, not needing to go through the realm of darkness so long as it was within the same world. Arriving back in DiZ's computer room, Cyrus walked over to behind DiZ's seat, watching as DiZ sat down, and began to search through his files. Soon opening up a file revealing a rather dilapidated castle. Portions of the land had been fractured and split, the angle of the picture made it look like like it was taken in a crevice in the ocean.

"This is a world known as Hollow Bastion." Cyrus remembered that name, Yen Sid had mentioned that it was his world, after it fell to darkness, though he was the one who had actually named it as such. It seemed DiZ was just rolling with it. "You must already know, that this world was once your own, but now it appears to be the home of the heartless. I haven't been able to investigate further, as thus I ask you to investigate in my place." Cyrus felt a tightness in his chest, he was actually going to investigate his old home world. DiZ returned his attention back to the computer. "I trust you will investigate as far as you are capable once you arrive. Keep me informed of your progress." As before DiZ continued typing away in silence, leaving Cyrus with his thoughts. He turned his attention to behind him, a dark corridor opening behind him.

"I'll do my best." Cyrus left without another word.

Walking silently through the realm of darkness, Cyrus couldn't help, but think about what Hollow Bastion would look like, the picture he had seen boded ill. The castle which felt very familiar to him, yet he still couldn't remember anything still. He could only hope his investigation would aid in restoring his memory. As he walked through the realm, he still heard the faint sound of combat, his eyes wandering over to the distant landmasses of the realm, though the darkness of the realm clouded his senses, he could feel something tugging at his heart, urging him to somehow get to that area of the realm. His train of thought fell apart as he felt someone rest their arm on him, leaning into him for support.

"So, back at it again huh? If ya wanted to see me again so bad ya coulda just asked." Cyrus jumped away from the voice, summoning his keyblade to his hands. Pointing it, at the familiar form of the Number II of the Organization. Said Number II raised his hands in surrender. "Woah! Easy there, it's not polite to point at someone ya know?"

"Cut the talk! You back for another round?" Cyrus was on edge, waiting for him to attack with his guns, but it never came.

"As if! I came to talk ya know? A little heart to heart never hurt anybody." He waved his hand around dismissively, doing very little to actually disarm Cyrus's tension.

"Hard to have a heart to heart, when ya don't have one." The figure's hood fell, obliviously disappointed.

"Now is that anyway to talk to a friend? And just because we don't have hearts now doesn't mean we don't remember what it's like." The figure made to approach, but Cyrus tightened his grip on Radiant Requiem, readying himself to attack. The figure placed his hand on his face, the hood shaking as he moved his head back and forth disbelievingly. "Not really in the mood huh?"

The figure disappeared, Cyrus feeling the tip of the guns he used press against the back of his head. "How bout now?" Cyrus reacted quickly, faster then he has ever moved before, slashing the gun away with his keyblade, forcing the figure back. The force of the attack knocking the hood from his head. As Cyrus eyed the figure's face, the spike of pain of another memory resurfacing struck him.

Cyrus worked on the most recent commission he got. Apparently, someone was looking to become one of Ansem's apprentices, and Cid had tasked him with getting the blueprint all set. He was looking for an energy based projectile weapon, Cyrus had considered something more along the lines of a normal revolver type gun, but was struggling to work out the energy as ammunition aspect of the weapon, which was proving difficult. As he began to think harder on what would work, he heard the door open behind him. Turning his head, he saw the person who actually commissioned the twin guns. A pony tailed man who called himself, Braig. He approached Cyrus and slapped him on the back. "See ya burning ya brain over the design, figured I come and help ya out." Braig handed him something, a rolled up piece of blueprint. Unfurling it, Cyrus began to look over it, and he had to admit, this was impeccably designed, it even solved issue of the ammunition.

"How did you?" Braig leaned away from Cyrus, a smirk coming across his face.

"What? Ya think all I am is just a pretty face? There's a reason I wanna join them up in the castle ya know, and it's not like I would go to them empty handed." Cyrus shrugged, looking over the blueprint, he only heard Braig leave behind him.

 Cyrus blinked away the pain, looking at Braig, the ever irritating smirk on his face. "What? You finally remember me? That hurts, how could ya ever forget about me." Cyrus growled, getting himself back into a fighting position.

"Doesn't matter! What are you doing with the Organization Braig?!" Braig placed his hand on his chin, as if thinking.

"Well, you've got me all wrong, ya see I ain't Braig anymore, I'm his nobody, ya know, no heart and all that?" Cyrus looked at him confused, yet still remained ready for battle. Braig placed his hand to his chest. "Ya can call me Xigbar now." Xigbar summoned his arrowgun to his offhand. Cyrus readying himself, not willing to repeat what happened before. Xigbar noticed a faint glow to Radiant Requiem, pointing it out to Cyrus. "Always wondered how that worked, I know ya can't use magic yaself, so that's gotta be the keyblade's magic, forged or not." He eyed Cyrus's stance, before sighing.

"Welp." He summoned his other arrowgun, twirling them, before the crystals that acted as the ammo for the guns shined bright. "I guess you really wanna do this. Don't blame me if ya end up hurt." Xigbar vanished again, appearing behind Cyrus, upside down, standing on nothing, firing a volley of energy arrows. Cyrus blocked them, deflecting off of his blade, directly back at Xigbar, each shot striking into his chest.

"Agh! Always wondered what kinda design had the shots be able to return to sender like that. Was that your handiwork?" Sticking both arms into what appeared small portals, the sound of the guns firing filled the air. Cyrus noticed too late that they came from directly above him, the blasts tearing into his arms as he did his best to leap out of the remainder of the volley. Xigbar began to casually walk, still upside down, toward Cyrus, firing the occasional shot at him. As Cyrus righted himself, he throw him keyblade at Xigbar, who dodged, an inch from getting hit, only for it to vanish behind him. Looking back at Cyrus, he got slashed violently in the stomach, sending him back, as he took Cyrus's furious assault of airborne attacks, to the chest. Vanishing to safety as Cyrus fell to the ground, he charged a shot, firing a larger blast, which began to bounce off of invisible walls, always directly towards Cyrus, he dove out of the way of each.

Another volley of blasts came from Xigbar, giving Cyrus no time, deciding to take the hit, he reeled his keyblade back, and launched the largest of the blasts back to Xigbar, once again striking him in the chest. Both stunned by their respective hits, the realm almost fell silent save for their panting. Looking up, Cyrus saw Xigbar smirk, before vanishing. Appearing quite a ways from him, he aimed both his guns at Cyrus before laying on the trigger. Cyrus charged at Xigbar wanting to close the distance, feeling as the occasional blast he failed to deflect dig into him. Once again his keyblade shined, almost on instinct, he leaped into the air, slashing downwards, when his keyblade struck the ground, it began to glow a blazing red, cracks forming where he struck. The cracks rushed suddenly toward Xigbar, the ground glowing brighter and brighter the farther it went. Xigbar couldn't react as the ground exploded beneath him, flames and stones flying everywhere, singeing Xigbar badly.

Cyrus looked around as the flames faded away, trying to find Xigbar. Yet, even when all that was left was the scorched ground, he couldn't find him, and there was no way that had killed him, it was too easy. Deciding to cut his loses, Cyrus ran for the opposite dark corridor. As he walked through he failed to notice Xigbar lift himself over the ledge of the platform, rolling onto his back, patting out the stray little flames on his coat. Letting out a huff as he finished, before letting out a barking laugh. "Oh man! He really doesn't disappoint! Wonder if Xemnas will have any plans for him after I tell him this?" Standing up, he dusted himself off, he walked through another dark corridor, smirk still on his face.

As Cyrus walked out of the dark corridor, he found that he was exactly where the picture on DiZ's computer was taken. He wasn't wrong, it looked like wherever he was, was in the middle of an ocean, split in half, small floating platforms leading up to a larger platform. Taking out DiZ's device, he held it in his hand. "Well, I'm finally here, hope that tussle with Xigbar at least was useful." Cyrus rolled his shoulders, not waiting for the lingering pain to dissipate before he continued on. Climbing his way to the final platform, he approached what looked like the end of the road. A beam shot from the immense castle, attaching to the broken arch above him. A gondola suddenly arriving to pick him up. Not wanting to question the convenience, he got on and held on as to not fall into the ocean below. As he got off, it vanished behind him. Looking around him, he saw numerous different beams and other gondolas around the area, along with the immense castle gates ahead of him. Beginning to walk over, he failed to notice the black crow that watched him arrive, flying away as he began towards the door.

Pushing open the immense doors, taking note of the emblazoned design of the heartless's emblem, created from what appeared to be bronze thorn covered vines. He walked through the hallway that the door led into, coming upon what appeared to be the first room of the castle, two sets of stairs leading up to another door, the same emblem of the heartless on it as well, but this one looked more like some form of lock. He saw that none of the pieces to the lock where actually there. Cyrus didn't want to waste time looking for them so he opted for the easier route. Aiming his keyblade at the door, the beam that shot forth from it unlocking the door. Walking through the now open door, he found himself in what appeared to be a chamber of sorts, torches burning a strange green fire. Looking around him, he felt unsettled by the darkness that invested the castle, despite not encountering a single heartless since he arrived.

"So, another wielder of the keyblade has arrived unannounced into the walls of My castle." A voice echoed through the chamber, putting Cyrus on guard, keyblade in hand. In front of him a portal of green flames appeared, and from it came a tall imposing woman. Cyrus thought she actually had horns until she saw that they were more of a crown of sorts. Her presence alone, intensified the sickening feeling of darkness in the room. He saw her glaring down at him, a sneer clear on her face. "And one I have not seen before, far older than the ones before you." Cyrus couldn't help, but feel slightly offended by that, 10 years is quite a long time, he couldn't look the same even if he tried.

"Tell me fool, how did you find this place, and how have you come to wield the keyblade." It was more of a demand than a question, but he was here to investigate not instigate. Deciding to lower his defensive stance, he answered.

"I found it because I used the darkness to find it, and I don't know." Her sneer never left her face as she contemplated his words.

"I knew I sensed another's darkness arrive, it is impossible for one such as I to fail to notice such things." She slowly approached, her staff's tapping echoing the chamber. "The darkness within your heart, you seem to possess some modicum of control over it, but nothing compared another and myself."

Cyrus made to defend his use of the darkness. "I don't have to use it for anything more than travel, and if I might ask, who the person who so masterfully wields the darkness in front of me is?" He might not be the best of actors, but he wanted to make sure she didn't decide to set him on fire before he finished his investigation, so playing to her ego seemed to be the best bet.

"If you must know fool, I am Maleficent, Mistress of All Evil!" Cyrus had to admit, she certainly gave off a 'Mistress of All Evil' vibe, he needed to be careful, angering her might result in something worse than singed clothing. Her attention turned back to him, sneer returning as well. "Now, give me your name, I will not have any unknown beings interfering with my plans." That clarified some things for him, she was planning something, but all he could was hope he might stumble upon what these plans were. She turned away from him. "Now leave and do not return unless you wish to lose your heart to the darkness!" Her threat was shown to be more than simply a threat as large imposing heartless appeared, wielding a long steel blade, black flames licking at its heels, and white wings upon its elbows. He let out what he could assume was a growl as it charged him, its blade clashing against his keyblade. The force of it sending him skidding back, as he held it at bay. His feet dug into the chamber floor, he saw Maleficent watching amusement in her eyes at his struggle. He felt the heartless begin to push harder and harder, he was beginning to lose his footing.

A fleeting light came from the tip of the keyblade, all the way down it's blade and to the hilt, reaching his hand. As it touched his hand, he felt a surge of power, allowing him to send the heartless flying away, smashing into the wall next to Maleficent. It tried to get off of the wall, only for its head to get impaled against the wall, Radiant Requiem striking it between its eyes. As it faded into darkness, Maleficent's gaze returned to Cyrus, sensing the strange surging power within him. "Wanna try that again!" Pointing his keyblade at Maleficent threateningly. If she was so content with wielding the darkness, than he could play hardball. Rushing over to her, he failed to notice her spell before she cast it, a portal of dark green flames enveloped him.

He felt himself skidding across the floor as he came out of the portal, hurrying to his feet he tried to make it back to the portal before it closed, reaching it a moment too late. "If you truly believe yourself above the darkness, than face another who believed himself above my rule!" Though he vision of the room was dim, he could vaguely make out how it looked. Appearing to be some form of dungeon, rusted chains dangling from the walls, fallen rubble and debris around the large open room. At the center of the room, a large black cauldron. "Now witness! The true power of darkness!" An orb of darkness and green flames appeared above the cauldron, before dropping into the cauldron. With a flash of light, the cauldron stirred to life, wind howling through the room, into the cauldron, he could feel the pull of it, trying to suck him into it. Using his keyblade as a hold, he jammed it into the ground. The wind bellowed ever louder, the chains of the room beginning to rattle violently.

He watched as flames licked at the cauldron from beneath it, swirling wind was sucked into the raging cauldron, the sound of thunder filling the room, streaks of lightning dancing along the air, combining into the cauldron, an immense fiery explosion filling the room, blinding Cyrus. As the light faded away and the wind began to settle, Cyrus looked back at the cauldron, where he saw a figure that stood nearly equal to Maleficent.

"So." Its voice was rough and jagged sounding, as if it hadn't spoken in years. "She has finally decided that the cauldron's power over darkness was needed." The figure's eyes glowed a terrifying red, as its gaze turned to him. "How unfortunate for you, that your flesh shall be the catalyst for my return. Now." The figure lifted its right hand towards him, the cauldron stirring to life behind him, blackened flames escaping from it, coiling along his hand.

"You shall perish at the hands of The Horned King."

Chapter Text

Cyrus watched as the black flames formed together into an orb in his hand, coming to his senses as it was hurled at him. Dodging out of the way as it struck the ground where he once was. The flames licking and consuming the debris that it touched, reducing it to ash. Making a note not to get hit by that he quickly closed the distance between the two of them. Swinging his keyblade upwards, he managed a brutal hit on the Horned King's chin, sending him reeling. "Insolent Mortal!" Ducking out of the way of the King's burning hand, he dodged as another black ball of fire slammed into the wall, eating away at it. Striking again, he sent the King back, before thrusting into his chest. The Horned King backhanded Cyrus away, darkness forming around his hands, before consuming his body, him vanishing and reappearing on the opposite side of the room. "You believe yourself stronger than me?!" The Horned King's voice was angry, yet still held some form of composure. Another blast of darkness slammed near Cyrus.

The Horned King began to wield the darkness, seemingly trying to stir the cauldron to life again. "The power of the cauldron is one beyond your mortal comprehension!" The darkness flew from his hand landing into the cauldron, a plume of darkness shooting from it. Yet, the cauldron still remained lifeless. "Impossible, the cauldron's power cannot be dormant!" Seeing that he was distracted, Cyrus rushed him, slashing into the King with violent fervor. Finishing with a spinning slash, the Horned King slammed into the cauldron, using it to hold himself up.

"This cannot be!" His red eyes glared at Cyrus, hatred blazing within them. "You! You are an ally of his! That wretch of a Pig Keeper!" Aiming another blast at him, the Horned King unleashed it, it being far larger than the others, fueled by his anger and hatred. Cyrus readied himself, deflecting it off of his keyblade and back into the Horned King, knocking him back in to the Cauldron. The plume of darkness that resulted from it, confirmed to Cyrus that the King was destroyed.

"Was that it?!" Cyrus shouted, his voice echoing the now silent chamber. "You thought that he could beat me? If so I'm insulted! Now when I get out of here I hope you can last a little longer!" Silence answered back, no voice, no sound at all. Then, a mocking laughter, one that matched Maleficent's voice. It taunted him, as it echoed relentlessly through the chamber.

"If a worthy fight is what you want." The darkness that came from the corners of the room intensified, soon covering the room entirely. "Than a fight you shall get!" The darkness soon swirled around him, dark green flames joining them, followed by trails of normal fire, the same lightning that brought about the Horned King's summoning and finally, large shards of ice, all swirled together in a cacophony of dark magic. "Elements of Darkness heed my command! Fueled by hatred, anger and ire! Reignite the cauldron's fire!" The storm of magic suddenly swirled into the cauldron, beneath it, a blazing inferno of green fire consumed the cauldron. Cyrus shielded his eyes from it, the power and force of it forcing him back. As the flames licked at the cauldron's rim, the entire cauldron began to glow, the heat finally overwhelming the cauldron. As the magic swirled into the cauldron, Cyrus saw something begin to take form on the cauldron. As if branded, the emblem of the heartless began to take form, soon beginning to glow the otherworldly green that Maleficent's magic seemed to consist of. The magic of the spell began to grow out of control, the chamber around them beginning to fall to pieces around him.

Using Radiant Requiem to guard himself against the falling debris, the room fell away to reveal a tempest of darkness swirling around them, even thicker than what was swirling into the cauldron. The remainder of the chamber fell away, sucked into the cauldron's overwhelming pull. Jamming his keyblade into the ground once again to avoid joining the chamber in the cauldron, he watched as the cauldron was consumed by darkness, as well as the rest of his vision.

Blinking away the darkness in his vision, he looked around himself. He saw the ever familiar sky of the realm of darkness. He also saw what appeared to be a castle, though given how badly it was damaged, almost merging with the realm of darkness, fragments of it floating about the air around it. As he looked around him, his eyes fell upon the Black Cauldron, branded with the heartless emblem, sitting where it was prior to Maleficent's spell. Pulling his keyblade free from the ground he slowly began to approach. Only to shield his eyes as an immense plume of darkness, smoke, and green flames belched from the cauldron. The smoke that was shot out began to swirl around the area, creating something of a barrier of darkness around them. He then saw something emerge from the cauldron, the striking red eyes from before returning. Stepping out of the cauldron, the darkness that covered his body cleared, revealing the Horned King once again. Yet, this time the darkness that once coiled around his hands, now coiled around his entire body, darkness emanated his entire being.

"Yes." The Horned King examined his body, seeing as the darkness swirled and curled around his body. "The true power of the cauldron, mine to wield at long last!" Raising his hands into the air, the cauldron lifted from the ground, floating idly behind him. Darkness swirled around the cauldron, a sickeningly green liquid filled the cauldron. The darkness formed into the Horned King's hands.

"I call upon the soldiers of the cauldron, heed its blackened call! Come forth and serve your master Cauldron Born!" The darkness that was in his hands flew into the air, before falling into the cauldron, black smoke billowing from the liquid as it boiled. Green flame covered orbs shot forth from the cauldron, scattering around the area, from them darkness began to take form. Forming from the darkness, what looked to be walking suits of armor, the yellow eyes of the heartless peering through its helmet, heartless emblem directly on its chest. Its gaze slowly turning from the Horned King to Cyrus, pointing its sword at him. The others did the same, the Horned King readied another orb of burning darkness in his hands. The cauldron flew farther away, what looked like a shield made of darkness surrounding it. Cyrus prepared himself to fight as the Horned King spoke. "The cauldron obeys me now. It shall not save you from my wrath mortal!"

As the dark spell was throw at him, he dodged away from it, only for it burst into several smaller blasts, forcing him to block them, the Horned King teleporting to the opposite side of the area once again. The heavily armored heartless lunged at Cyrus, who parried the blows, grabbing one by the arm, and throwing it into the others. As he made to attack the Horned King, the cauldron spewed out another volley of the flaming orbs, these ones simply crashing into the ground, letting off small explosions in their wake. As he swung at the Horned King, he saw him cast another spell, lightning dancing at his finger tips. Even though he struck with the same force as he always does, the King did not react, yet he knew he was harming him, had the darkness really made him so sturdy as to be able to withstand Cyrus's attacks. Vanishing away from Cyrus again, he readied another spell, regular flames licking at his finger tips. Running to him, Cyrus noticed sparks begin to appear on the floor around him. Quickly he began to dodge as countless lightning bolts rained around him.

Rolling away as the last bolt struck, he once again tried to close the distance, but found himself getting burned as a pillar of fire erupted from the ground. Sending him rolling farther away from the Horned King. Holding a hand to his chest, he found that despite the flames, his clothing wasn't damaged, though he certainly was hurt. Looking up, he barely had time to avoid an ice shard that stabbed into the ground where he once was. Scrambling to his feet as more pillars of fire erupted, he began to dodge around them while closing the distance, watching another ball of darkness gather in his hands. Cyrus leaped into the air as he threw it, completely going over it. Slamming down, he managed to get the Horned King to recoil in pain as his keyblade struck the top of his head with violent force.

The same power he felt from his fight with Xigbar flowed through him again, taking advantage of it, he began to attack. Each blow landed sound like a cannon, an explosion of power resounding through the air with each strike. The Horned King was certainly feel it, even his cloak of darkness couldn't give him any relief from this assault. One final blow released a wave of power from where he struck, the closing in heartless were destroyed by the resulting wave. The Horned King responded with an angry growl, the arena growing somehow darker, as his entire body was consumed by darkness, from the corner of his eye Cyrus saw the Black Cauldron's shield disappear and it lower back to the arena. The Horned King reappeared, floating just out of reach of Cyrus, the shield that the cauldron once had, now around him.

"Do you not yet realize that you cannot hope of defeating the cauldron when its power has been unleashed!" The Horned King began another spell, lightning dancing at his finger tips. Cyrus turned his attention from the Horned King to the cauldron. Rolling away from the arcs of lightning that were shot at him. As he ran towards the cauldron, it spat out more burning orbs, he only barely managed to avoid them without stopping, jumping into the air, he slammed his keyblade into the cauldron, forcing it to crash into the ground. With it grounded, he began to slash at it, darkness escaping from it with each strike. With a powerful thrust, he accidentally freed it from the ground, only for it to slam directly into his face, sending him reeling. As he shook his head to get his senses back in order, he saw the cauldron spew forth more darkness, summoning more of heartless.

Taking out a potion, he crushed it, allowing it to soothe some of his wounds. The Horned King let loose another shard of ice, Cyrus shattering it against his keyblade. Rushing back towards the cauldron he batted the heartless away, destroying them with ease. He closed the distance with another thrust, which sent the cauldron spinning away. The arena darkened again, thick black smoke billowing from it again, the shield of darkness returning to it. Quickly before the Horned King could even land, Cyrus began his assault on him again, only escaping from him by teleporting as far away as possible. "Wretch! How dare you deny me!" Darkness swirled around him, raising him slowly into the air.

"Pulled from the very heavens! An onslaught of death and ruin awaits you!" A rumbling roar filled the air, quickly approaching lights filled the sky, growing in size as they approached. He realized exactly what they were. Meteors began to slam around him, releasing tremors and waves of energy with each that struck. He had no place to dodge to as one flew directly towards him, so he decided to take it head on. As it grew ever closer, he waited until it was upon him to strike, splitting the falling meteor in half. Even though the meteor was no longer an issue, the fact that the Horned King continued to pelt the field with them was. Seeing as he couldn't reach him safely by normal means, he opted for a more long ranged approach. The Horned King made to taunt him again, only to met with a keyblade to his head, sending him back down to the ground, Cyrus capitalizing on this chance. Each hit sent the Horned King reeling in pain, only escaping as another of the heartless appeared and forced Cyrus back. 

As he skidded to a stop he watched as the King readied another spell, the cauldron roaring, darkness shooting from it with a violent force, beginning to choke the very air around them. "Now witness what the price of your folly is!" The Horned King began to float, appearing over the center of the field, the cauldron in front of him, the liquid within threatening to boil over. A combination of fire and lightning covered his hands, before he flicked both into the cauldron, sending out another plume of darkness, electricity dancing amongst the smoke. Large shards of ice took form above the cauldron, before combining into it as well. Using his hands, he swirled the dark smoke from the cauldron above his head. "Now feel the true power of the Black Cauldron!"

What appeared to be a small whirlwind of darkness, that drifted slowly across the ground. Noticing another change, Cyrus felt the very ground beneath him begin to grow hot, looking down he saw that where he was standing was beginning to grow red, jumping away just a moment before a pillar of fire shot out. He heard thunder roar above him, looking up to see lightning dance across the black smoke clouds that choked the arena. "The very elements at my beck and call! Embrace the end mortal!" With his growling voice filling the air, the lightning began to strike the field, wild and without pattern, only giving Cyrus a moment before where he stood was struck, barely managing to avoid it as well, only for the ground to begin heating again.

The lightning struck at him again, coursing through his keyblade as he blocked it, the shock of the blow forced him to shudder, as another pillar of fire shot out at him. Running was the only choice he had, fire and lightning striking at him as he ran, around him and in his path, forcing all of his attention onto avoiding them. "Now feel the bitter chill of death in your very bones!" As the Horned King's voice echoed out again, Cyrus saw an immense shard of ice begin to form above him, following his every move. As it fully took form, it paused a moment before smashing into ground directly behind him, knocking him slightly away from it, and luckily away from another lightning strike. The wind began to whip past him, turning his head for only a glance, he saw the once small whirlwind of darkness, had grown into a tempest of heartless, the peering yellow eyes of Shadows spinning about uncontrollably within its vortex.

As another shard of ice dropped from above him, he rolled out of the way, only for the tempest of heartless to pull him in. As he spun about the vortex, he could feel the claws of the heartless dig into him, this was far too familiar for his liking, so taking the first chance he got, used a strike of lightning to clear a way out, deflecting it so the force of the strike would knock him free of the wind of the tempest. As he righted himself he saw that the spell had grown stronger, lightning striking with unrivaled might and force against the field, no longer trailing him, but striking randomly and without warning. The same could be said for the flames, now firing balls of fire with each pillar, exploding as they crashed into the ground. Ice no longer falling above him, but simply erupting from the ground, far larger than before.

"Still you yet live? No matter, all shall fall before me!" With a wave of his arms, another surge of darkness billowed from the cauldron, which flew upwards to the surrounding castle, covering one of the castle's towers. Cyrus couldn't watch what it was doing, as he was far too focused on not winding up dead from all of the other spells. Despite his evasions, the spells the King unleashed showed no end in sight. Above the thunderous crashes, and fiery explosions of the spells, he heard what sounded like stone cracking and falling apart. While barely evading another burst of ice, he saw the tower that the darkness had swirled around had broken free from the rest of the castle, and was hurtling towards him. No time to think, only time to run.

Bolting across the field as fast as his legs could carry him, the force of the tower smashing into the ground forced him to stumble, just barely avoiding another bolt of lightning. The tower ground against the ground as it was dragged by the darkness towards him, trying to crush him. Soon finding himself out of space to run and tower quickly approaching from behind, Cyrus turned on his heel, and tried something stupid. If he could split a meteor in half than why not a tower. As the tower crashed towards him, he charged at it as well. Time seemed to slow as he swung his keyblade, eyes shut as he didn't want to see it about to hit him. Opening his eyes, he found he wasn't crushed, but had actually managed to split the tower in half, as it crumpled behind him. He also saw the Horned King continuing his spell, and not wanting to deal with any more towers being thrown at him, he leaped towards him and managed to knock him away from the cauldron, the maelstrom of spells fizzing out into nothing. Landing just behind the Horned King, who was still floating, the cauldron boiling behind him, Cyrus, with a flourish of his keyblade, pointed it at the Horned King, a bright light appearing at the tip of it. 

The Horned King had no time to stop him as, just when he managed to right himself, turned to see the beam of light strike his chest, punching through him and colliding with the cauldron, darkness exploding off of both him and the cauldron. "This" He began to writhe as darkness began to fade off of him, light overwhelming his form. "Cannot be." His voice held no malice, only stunned shock. Reaching towards the sky of the realm of darkness, the black smoke beginning to fade, he let out a pained howl, as his body faded into darkness, and a single heart floated into the air. 

The cauldron, after being struck by the beam of light, began to crack, light shining through the splintering cracks along it. The smoke billowing from it faded into nothing as it began to shine brighter and brighter, darkness seemingly stripping away from it. Almost like a mist, the fleeing darkness of the cauldron, coiled through the air, collecting into the discarded heart of the Horned King, darkness consuming it, until it was nothing but a floating orb of darkness. All Cyrus could do was watched as the orb began to crack away, revealing a heartless, one different than what he's seen so far. In it's hand it held what appeared to be a staff, the head of which resembled the heartless emblem. Another thing he noted was the large heart shaped hole in its chest, along with the fact that it had no lower half, only three dangling chains. Its beady yellow eyes stared at him, before it faded into darkness, seemingly ignoring him.

An intense glare of light hit his eyes, reminding him of the cauldron. The heartless hadn't ignored him, it was simply getting away from that. The cauldron began to spark, as the light that shined through the cracks that covered every inch of it, grew blinding. Covering his eyes with his arms to fight off the glare, he felt the cauldron erupt into light, as well as consume him in it. A feeling of weightlessness came over him for but a moment, before he found himself in what appeared to be a large room, different from the room he encountered Maleficent in. Looking around the room, he saw several woman, all of which had crystals covering their legs, all of which seemed to be asleep.

"Guess she wasn't expecting me to survive that." All he could now was wonder aimlessly and hope he wouldn't end up on fire from a surprise fire spell to the back. Taking note of the immense, heart shaped, multi-colored device that was on the direct opposite side of the room.

"DiZ is gonna want to know about this thing." Walking over closer to it, he took note of the intricate machinery and consoles, all of which seemed to be connected immense device on the wall. He really couldn't tell what this thing was meant to do, besides being immense and imposing to look at. The device he kept on him began to slightly hum, taking it out, it seemed to react with the immense device, before promptly exploding in his hand. Recoiling his hand in pain, shards of the device flew everywhere. Quickly digging out another potion he shattered it over his wounded hand, the pain fading, but not entirely. Clenching and unclenching his sore hand, making sure nothing was broken.

"Most impressive." His eyes widened at the voice, reacting quickly, he summoned Radiant Requiem, pointing it at Maleficent, who seemed completely calm despite his survival. "I did not expect that you would survive against him, but to destroy him and the cauldron as well, truly impressive. Though, even with the power of the cauldron, the fool could never hope to achieve the feats of power I lay claim too." She slowly approached him, Cyrus drifting off to the side of her, allowing her to stand before the immense device. As he stood directly behind her, keyblade still pointed at her, she continued. "You truly don't realize what is before you do you? Very well, consider it a reward for dispatching of that old fool. This is this world's keyhole" He wasn't sure what that is, but he had a feeling it was important.

"It was because of it's opening that I was capable of even unleashing the heartless into this world." This definitely caught his attention.

"You were the one who plunged the world in darkness?!" She seemed amused by his angered questioning.

"But of course, I have plans for this world, you see, with this keyhole, I intend to gather strength and knowledge that even I cannot imagine." She turned to face him.

"Yet, for all of my power, even I cannot open it, for it is yet unfinished. I require 7 beings with pure hearts, untouched by the darkness, to finish it." Her sneer returned to her face as she stared at him.

"That's all well and good, but why bother to even tell me all of this, you know for a fact I'm going to stop you." He readied himself to fight, only for Maleficent to start laughing.

"I told you because I know you will not escape this place alive. Isn't that right? Riku."

A sudden burst of pain spread across his back as he flung forward by a force he didn't see. Dark fire biting away at his back, doing no harm to his clothing, but causing him great pain. He found himself where Maleficent once stood, looking to find her besides a young boy, whose hand was still smoking from the spell he unleashed. Relaxing his stance, the boy looked up at Maleficent.

"I came as quickly as I could when I found out someone had broken in, he didn't do anything did he?" The boy sounded like he was genuinely concerned about Maleficent.

"Of course not dear boy, you stopped him before he could do any harm." The boy's attention returned to Cyrus who had only just managed to get to his feet. Summoning a dark, sinister looking weapon to his hand, he pointed it at Cyrus.

"Just who do you think you are?! You think you can just barge in here, and try and destroy the only way I can save Kairi?!" Riku's voice was filled with anger, which Cyrus knew was misplaced, but he doubted he could convince him otherwise. Though, he couldn't help, but feel that the name Kairi was familiar.

"Kid, I think, you've got this all backwards, you really don't want to be picking a fight with me." Cyrus knew it was going to take more than a couple potions to deal with the pain in his back, he needed to either defuse this situation or get out of there.

"Oh yeah? Cuz it looks to me like you're on your last legs!" With some effort Cyrus managed to stand up straight, but faltered due to the pain.

"You aren't wrong there, but I'm not kidding when I say, the last thing she's gonna do is help your friend." His gaze drifted towards Maleficent, who sneered when their eyes met.

"Enough already! I won't let you get in the way!" As Riku leaped towards Cyrus, he slashed where Cyrus was, only to find nothing was there, but rapidly fading darkness, and the briefest of words echoed on the wind.

"Don't say I didn't warn ya kid."