When you dance with death you're gonna get into a few problems...
And please, if you don’t like it, tell me why so I can improve.
From the dark eeriness of the cavern a bright light beamed down, piercing the gloom as it hit the walls and ground. It momentarily bathed the room in a blinding glow but quickly disappeared, leaving seven comrades in its place.
Liz looked around, quietly taking in her gloomy surroundings.
“Where are we?” She asked uncertainly, glancing at a shallow puddle carved into the ground by the dripping water that fell from the cavern roof. Aqua stood quietly next to her, pondering the exact same question.
“It’s a little depressing...” He admitted, shivering a little and watching as his breath formed misty puffs in front of him. About three meters away, Tamara was trying to discreetly shuffle towards where Riku was standing, hoping that he wouldn’t notice. Riku did notice her gradual shuffling, but tried to pretend that he was oblivious to it.
“So, where are we Sora?” Riku asked coolly while staring around the room at anything but Tamara. Sora shrugged casually and looked to Donald for information.
“We’re in the wrong part of the coliseum. We should be in the aboveworld,’ Aqua began to whistle awkwardly as Donald glared at him,’ if somebody hadn’t touched the teleportation controls.” Donald pointed towards a staircase that lead up to a bright light. The group started to walk towards the staircase when they heard a shrill scream rip through the still air, a scream that was quickly followed by a tall woman with auburn hair tied into a high ponytail on top of her head crashing through a large set of grey doors behind them. Several dog-like heartless were at her heels, lunging at the hem of her purple dress.
“She needs our help!” Aqua cried, darting towards the woman and fending off the heartless with his keyblade. The woman hid behind the group of friends, watching as Aqua dispatched the heartless with ease.
“Thanks for that,’ she said when the last heartless was little more than black smoke,’ those things were vicious. My name’s Megara, by the way, but my friends call me Meg.”
“Nice to meet you,’ said Sora as he began the usual introductions,’ I’m Sora, and these are my friends Donald, Goofy, Riku, Aqua, Liz and Tamara.”
“So,’ asked Riku coolly, pushing his fringe away from his eyes with a bit too much effort than strictly necessary and tried to look normal while doing so,’ what are you doing down here Meg?” Tama gazed at him, a hurt look passing by her face before disappearing in an instant to be replaced with a sly grin.
“I was going to ask Hades if he could give Wonder Boy a break. He’s been so busy.” Meg sighed thoughtfully, a tinge of sorrow in her words.
“Oh you mean Hercules?” Donald asked. Meg nodded quickly, her ponytail jiggling up and down.
“How is he?” asked Sora. Immediately, a tired look passed over Meg’s face,’ highlighting pale purple circles under both of her eyes.
“He’s been fighting non-stop,’ she sighed,’ saying a hero doesn’t need rest and everything, but even wonder boy has his limits.” Meg lost her concentration as she began to stare off into the dark recesses of the cavern.
“Gee Meg,’ Tamara said, grinning slyly,’ it sounds like you really care about him. Are you sure you’re just friends?” Meg blushed and began to stutter slightly.
“No, of course not, he’s just a friend.” She said indignantly as she started to blush. Tama smiled proudly, ignoring the hard nudge on the shoulder from Liz.
“Stop using your romance detection sense thingo, leave her alone.” she whispered.
“Whatever you say.” Tamara muttered rather sadly. Liz looked at her once, choosing the wording for her next question very carefully.
“You’re still thinking of the stuff he said to you on that other world, aren’t you?” Liz said, her voice so low that only Tamara could hear her. Tamara then made sure everyone else was preoccupied with something that was or wasn’t Meg before answering, smiling sadly and nodding her head.
“No matter what I try, I just can’t look at him the same way that I used to. I don’t know if I feel the same way anymore and I really don’t want to bring it up now. And Riku is too busy oogling over Meg to even take any notice of me at the moment....” Tamara finished rather bitterly. Liz looked at the rest of the group, and to her amusement, saw Sora, Riku and Aqua all staring over at Meg. Liz felt a small flame of anger rise in her chest as she saw Aqua, his chest puffed out just a bit and his shoulders slightly back, but shook it off as the feeling was replaced with amusement. She wasn’t jealous of the brainless zombies they were turning into.
“What would you say to a little adventure,’ Liz suggested quietly as she motioned to the large doors that Meg had dashed through on her arrival,’ just us, without those idiots.”
Tamara looked away from the scene that the boys were making to look at Liz thoughtfully as she considered the proposal. She had a very bad feeling about this.
“Shouldn’t we just wait until they stop staring before we go anywhere?” Tamara said, trying to use the drooling boys as an excuse. Liz just smiled mischievously, her eyes twinkling. “You worry too much,’ she said reassuringly,’ besides, they won’t notice that we’re gone for a long time.” With that she closed the argument, grabbing Tama’s hand as they slowly snuck down the corridor, slipping through the huge door unnoticed. Or so they thought.
“Alright Meg, we’ll go visit Hades for you, right guys?” Sora asked, looking at everyone in turn. As his eyes glanced over the spot where the girls had been, he looked over at Meg, who looked back quizzically.
“Hey, weren’t there two girls here a minute ago?” She asked, glancing around in the inky light.
“Yeah, they’re still here, see!” Aqua said while pointing to the spot that the girls had been before they had left. Riku’s jaw dropped, and Aqua groaned and shook his head.
“What, they’re gone?” Donald said while dashing around and trying to find them. Riku cursed under his breath and began looking around the surrounding cave.
“Liz, Tama,’ Aqua yelled, his voice echoing eerily,’ where are you?” Five minutes later and there was still no answer. Meg looked around again, thinking for a second before voicing her idea to the gang.
“Maybe they went up to the coliseum, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to go through the underworld alone,” she said. Everyone nodded in mutual agreement, seriously underestimating the two girls recklessness, and began walking up to the gateway. Goofy looked back over his shoulder as they followed Meg up a long set of stairs, and shook his head.
“Naw, I’m just imagining things....” He told himself as he followed the others. He thought he was dreaming when he saw a sliver of gold light shine through the crack in-between the doors to the underworld.
Liz and Tamara walked down through the dark pathways of the underworld, the floor hazy beneath their feet.
“Ok Liz, we’ve seen it, let’s go back now.” Tamara said while trailing nervously behind her friend, casting uneasy glances over her shoulder.
“Are you kidding? This place is awesome!” Liz said excitedly as she examined the dark road ahead, trying to peer into the shallow light cast from the small torches clinging to the walls.
“Well,’ Liz muttered as she rubbed her shoulders,’ it is cold, but it’s still pretty awesome.”
“Liz!” Tamara screamed suddenly as one of the shadows behind them began to swirl and separate, forming little clusters of heartless that began to shuffle over to the girls. Liz and Tamara gave each other one eager look then swung into action, fighting off all the heartless that dared approach. The attack was swift, and the fight was over almost before it had begun.
“Well,’ muttered Liz,’ that was oddly spontaneous....” As the last heartless was disposed of, Liz grunted and fell to one knee, her cheeks suddenly a shade paler.
“Liz, are you ok?” Tamara asked worriedly.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just.... feel really drained.” She muttered as she stood up, swiftly regaining her balance. Tama nodded, also feeling slightly light-headed.
“It must be because we’re in the underworld, we’re not dead, so something here must be draining our strength.” Tama said while looking wistfully back at the way they came. Liz nodded slowly in agreement, already sick of their little expedition. They were about to head back when a black blur sped past them, almost knocking Liz to the ground, and it was only a matter of seconds before both girls realized that what had run into them had been wearing the black coat of Organization XIII.
“The Organization!!” Tama exclaimed.
“After him!!” yelled Liz, sprinting a few paces before coming to a sudden stop.
“Is it even a he?” asked Liz uncertainly, ignoring Tamara’s exasperated look.
“Right, priorities,’ Liz finally cried,’ after it!” Tama nodded and took off after Liz, traveling farther and farther into the underworld as they chased the Organization member. After a long chase, they lost sight of the member just as he sprinted over the threshold of a cave, the walls jagged, rocky, and not very inviting. Both girls stopped to catch their breath, Tamara leaning against the smooth wall while Liz collapsed on the floor, both taking deep breaths and sucking in the air. Once Tamara had regained her breath, she looked behind them and groaned, slumping down the wall.
“What is it Tama?” Liz asked, turning around. Her question was answered when she saw a multitude of tunnels, all of them leading in separate directions, and both girls realized at the same time that they had no idea which one led back the way they had come. They looked at each other desperately before looking back to the cave mouth, and were about to head towards that tunnel when the Organization member came running back out, this time succeeding at knocking Liz over. There was a loud crunching noise as the two bodies forcefully collided, and the Organization member was sent flying as Liz collapsed to the ground.
“Run away, run away!!” He shouted as picked himself back up and ran into a writhing black portal that had appeared instantly, disappearing from the girl’s sight so quickly that the whole experience seemed surreal. Liz groaned as she sat up, giving Tamara a quizzical look as she stood up and rubbed her head. Both girls gulped and looked to where he came from, the inky darkness not at all inviting. Tama took a step towards the cave opening, Liz following quickly behind.
“I guess, since we can’t go back, we have to go forward....” Liz whispered. Tamara nodded reluctantly and grabbed her wrist, leading the way through the cave opening.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang had made it up the stairs that lead to the surface, and found Hercules busily moving some massive yellow blocks of sandstone. Sora went up waved, greeting him warmly. Hercules smiled as he saw them approaching, dropping the stone to give the group a wave.
“Hey Herc, been busy?” Sora asked as he shook hands with Hercules, wincing slightly as abnormal amounts of pressure were applied to his fingers. Hercules smiled brightly, oblivious that he was crushing Sora’s fingers.
“Good to see you again Sora, who are your friends?” He said while pointing to Riku and Aqua.
“My name is Aqua,’ said Aqua as he began the introductions,’ and this is my friend Riku. We’re traveling with Sora and a two other friends.” Aqua said while shaking Hercules’s hand, oblivious to the crushing force. Herc nodded, happy to see his friends again.
“Hey, wonder boy,’ said Meg quietly.’ have you seen two girls around? One has gold hair and eyes, and the other has brown hair and green eyes. They wandered off a while ago and we thought they might have come up here.” Hercules thought for a moment then shook his head.
“Nope, I haven’t seen anyone other then you guys.” He said while scratching his head. Riku walked over, starting to get worried.
“Would there be anyone else who might have seen them?” He asked impatiently. Hercules thought for a moment before snapping his fingers.
“Phil might know, he’s the only other person here.” Hercules said before walking through the large wooden gates of the coliseum. The gang followed, hoping that Liz and Tamara were there.
Tama and Liz walked through the dark, eerie tunnel for what seemed like hours, eventually reaching the other side. Tamara held her breath as they saw the winding stone bridge ahead of them. The bridge was no more than a meter across, and looked very extremely fragile. Liz looked down beneath the bridge to see a swirl of clear, green liquid writhing a good few feet underneath them and felt her heart stop. Sucking in her breath and trying to find some courage, she began to walk forwards.
“What are you doing?!” gasped Tamara, feeling dizzy as she saw the long drop.
“Come on Tama; don’t be scared!” said Liz.
“I’m not scared,’ said Tamara,’ just nervous....”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right next to you the whole way.” Liz said calmly, motioning for Tama to her follow. Tamara sighed, taking one final deep breath before taking a few shaking steps forward.
“Liz, you know I’m terrified of heights.” She whispered in a voice so soft that it was almost impossible to hear. Liz walked back a few paces and linked arms with Tamara, muttering encouraging words and leading her safely across the bridge. Tama collapsed once they were on the other side, taking huge breaths in and out as she looked at the huge stone archway that stood grandly before them.
“What do you recon is through there?” Liz asked quietly, staring past the arch.
“We’ve come this far already,’ said Tamara thoughtfully,’ I guess we should find out.”
With that last comment finalizing their decision, they both walked into the archway, keyblades summoned and ready for almost anything.
Hades was sitting just above the foot of a large pool, spinning green liquid tossing around in the mass like waves at the beach.
“What’s that?” Pete asked nervously, his ears flattening across the sides of his head as he backed against the wall. Hades just smiled wickedly, gripping the edges of his grey throne with icy blue fingers.
“I’m going to summon the mother of all bad guys!” Said Hades triumphantly, fireballs igniting in the palms of both his hands as he threw the fireballs down the whirlpool of green vapor. Immediately, a puff of smoke rose, writhing it’s way up to the ceiling and disappearing, leaving behind a man with, short dark grey hair wearing loose red robes in its place. Hades smiled wickedly as the man looked towards Pete, his cold eyes making the coward shiver.
“Now,’ said Hades, placing the tips of his fingers together,’ let’s cut to the chase. I’m going to let you go. No strings, you’ll be free as a bird, but only if you do one little thing: fight Hercules, in the Coliseum, to the death.” As Hades finished proudly, the man smiled.
“This is my story, and your not part of it.” The man said while brandishing his long silver sword, the scar across his face a pale sliver in the dim light.
“What!” Hades yelled, turning bright red as his flame-like hair thrashed wildly,’ Are you forgetting who you talking to? I am the lord of the dead!!!” The man just smiled.
“No wonder no one wants to die.”
“That’s it your fired!” Yelled Hades as he lunged towards the man, but the man was and deflected the blow with his sword. A fight would have broken out if Liz and Tamara hadn’t then appeared in the doorway to the room. Distracted for a second, Hades looked over at them.
“Who are you?” He asked as he forgot his anger and let his skin fade back to it’s blue-grey colour, one hand still holding the sword at bay.
“First things first,’ said Liz with a fair bit more bravado than she felt,’ who the hell are you?” She took a step back, bringing her keyblade in front of her protectively. Tama followed suit.
“Well,’ said Hades,’ funny you put it like that, because I’m Hades: Lord of the Dead.” As he said this he let go of the sword, giving the man a chance to whack him into the wall. Hades then turned red once more and lunged towards the man, this time sending him flying across the room where he lay on the cold stone floor, unable to sit up. Tama and Liz quickly shot each other a questioning look, then jumped down the flight of stairs and got stuck into the action.
“Get up.” Tamara yelled to the man on the floor as she lunged towards Hades, ignoring Pete as he tried to slink away. Both girls tried desperately to land a blow on Hades, but their hits just reflected strait back off. Intrigued by the girls’ fighting spirit, Hades finally raised one hand and both girls became suddenly exhausted.
“I feel so weak,’ gasped Liz as she sunk to her knees, struggling to stay upright as she knelt by the vaporous pool,’ what’s happening to us?” Hades turned blue again and laughed.
“You see,’ gloated Hades,’ this is my underworld: and in here, heroes become zeros. Comes with the territory.” With that he lunged towards the two girls, but before he could reach them the man leapt off the floor and dashed in front of the two, taking a wild slash at Hades. Hades just laughed as he disappeared before the blade could strike him, reappearing to stand on his throne.
“Go,’ said the man,’ we can’t fight Hades here.” Tama and Liz nodded, their weariness disappearing as it was replaced by adrenalin, and ran out the door with the man following close behind. As they were running, Tamara yelled to the man over her shoulder.
“Hey, what’s your name? Mine is Tamara, and that is Elisabeth.”
“I prefer Liz!” Liz shouted while still running. The man nodded to show her that he had acknowledged her comment.
“My name is Auron.” He replied. Tamara and Liz nodded as they ran. All too soon they reached the beginning of the bridge, and as Liz and Auron sprinted fearlessly across it, Tama stopped dead in her tracks. Along the bridge were many heartless, all eyeing her off as Liz and Auron fought their way through their midst, making it quickly to the other side. Tama started to back up uneasily when she felt an icy hand grasp her shoulder. She spun around and was horrified to see Hades clutching her shoulder, grinning spitefully.
“Boo.” He said as he started draining her energy. Tamara screamed, the sound reverberating off the walls.
“Tama!” Liz shrieked. Before she could run back Auron had already overtaken her, sprinting back across the bridge at top speed. Tama writhed against the icy grip as Hades still held her strong, trying to hold on to her consciousness.
“Geez,’ muttered Hades regretfully as he tightened his grip,’ I really do hate doing this to someone so cute, but I need to get rid of you somehow. No hard feelings about this, okay?” Tamara stared at him in disbelief. Before she could say anything that would resemble a snappy comeback, Hades began to kiss her neck. Tamara’s eyes widened in shock as she cried out and began to squirm. Hades began draining her energy, but with more force and speed than before. He was slowly moving his way higher and higher, closer, as Tamara realized in horror, to her lips. Auron and Liz ran quickly, almost at the edge of the bridge but still painfully far away. Liz was having a panic attack; she desperately wanted to overtake Auron, knowing that she could sprint faster, but the bridge would only allow for single file
“Do you know what happens when you’re kissed by death?” Hades asked Tamara. Tamara shook her head, desperately trying to remain conscious as her mind began to slip away.
“Well, I’ll show you.” With that he plastered a clammy kiss on her lips. Liz stopped in her tracks, almost toppling over the side of the bridge. Tamara shivered violently before she fainted, the last of her energy drained. Before Hades could attempt to get away with her, Auron came up behind him and slashed him across the shoulder blades, sending Hades flying to the other side of the cavern. He then bent down and grabbed Tamara, picking her up as quickly as he could while still being gentle as he slung her over his shoulder, motioning for Liz to start running back across the bridge. They quickly made it through the other side of the chasm, and Liz fell behind Auron as he led the way through the caverns.
“How far do you need to go?” Yelled Auron over his shoulder as they ran.
“As close to the exit as possible!!” cried Liz as she kept on running. They finally slowed down as they reached an open cavern with better lighting, and Liz fell to her knees as she started panting heavily. Auron pulled Tamara down from his shoulder and laid her on the floor.
“Thanks,’ gasped Liz breathlessly,’ thanks so much!! You’re so good...... and brave.....” she stopped talking as she began to struggle to get the words from her mouth.
“Without you I might have never got Tama away from there.” She said breathlessly after a few more minutes. Auron looked away, ashamed.
“I wouldn’t count on it.” He muttered as he walked back over to Tamara. Liz knelt by her side, desperately trying to wake her up.
“Why isn’t she waking up? What did Hades do to her?” Liz asked, worry and panic evident in her voice. Auron looked at the strong blue tinge to her body and then placed the back of his hand softly against her forehead.
“She should be fine,’ said Auron softly,’ but we have to get her out of here, and fast. The longer she’s down here, the stronger a hold he has on her, and the harder it will be for her to wake up.” As Auron said this, he lifted Tamara back up slung her back over his shoulder again as he started walking. Liz caught up with him, suddenly wary of everything, especially the cold feeling growing in the pit of her stomach.
“No,’ cried Tamara suddenly, writhing around,’ leave me alone! Not darkness, no, help me.....” Liz looked at her worryingly as Auron struggled to regain his grip.
“It’s getting worse...” she muttered.
“I should probably tell you something.’ Said Auron sadly,’ Unfortunately, if you are kissed by Hades, you are supposed to fall into eternal slumber, or as you would put it, die.” Liz gasped and tried to hold back tears the tears she felt pricking her eyes.
“She isn’t going to die, is she?” She asked, hopeful and uncertain at once. Auron thought for a moment before answering.
“No, she won’t die or else she would already be his. It seems like she’s in a nightmare state.”
Liz gave Auron an odd stare.
“What’s a nightmare state?” Liz asked. Auron didn’t look at her as he answered.
“If someone with a very strong will or heart has their energy totally drained by Hades, instead of dying they slip into their own worst nightmare. As soon as she is out of the underworld Hades’ hold on her will disappear and she will return to normal, but that’s only if she survives the nightmare until we can get her out. The longer she is in here, the weaker she will get, and the more likely she is to die.”
Liz caught her breath.
“Don’t fear,’ reassured Auron,’ she is strong; she must be to resist Hades’ hold for a while longer.” With that he picked up pace, heading briskly through the long open cavern in front of him. Liz grabbed Tama’s hand as it dangled from Auron’s shoulder.
‘Please Tama,’ Liz whispered,’ just hold on.’ She kept holding on to Tamara’s ice-cold hand as they continued their trek through the underworld.
“I haven’t seen any girls round here, except for Meg of course. Sorry boys.” Phil said as he looked over the group. Riku and Aqua were a sight to behold, their edginess and panic putting both boys into a dreadful mood.
“Where could they be?” Donald asked while scratching his head. Goofy thought for a moment before something struck him.
“Oh gosh, why didn’t I realize earlier?” Goofy cried while hiding his face in his hands. The group turned around and faced him, all eager to hear what he had to say.
“Realized what earlier Goofy?” Aqua asked impatiently. Goofy looked at everyone before answering, his head held low in shame.
“Ya see,’ Goofy began,’ I was standing in front of them while you guys were talking to Meg, and I heard them both say something about Riku and Aqua ‘oogling’ at Meg.” Once he said this both Aqua and Riku blushed, but Goofy continued unphased.
“They then said something I couldn’t hear, so I directed my attention back to you. When we all looked back they were gone, but I thought I saw some golden light shine through one of the doors in the caves. I thought it was nothing, but now I realize it must have been them.” As he said this half the group’s jaw dropped. Aqua groaned and slapped a hand to his forehead, and Riku began cursing viciously under his breath again.
“I’m sorry guys.” Goofy said sadly. Sora gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.
“It’s ok Goofy; we know it’s not your fault.” Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Well stop standing around,’ Phil cried in frustration,’ we have to get down there now.” And with that he sped of towards the entrance to the underworld as fast as his hooves could take him, everyone else close behind.
Hades sat at his throne and stared out the window as Pete droned on.
“I have heartless all over the underworld,’ grumbled Pete,’ so leave those pipsqueaks to me. You just worry about turning Hercules into a heartless and then he’ll be all mine” Pete said, clapping his hands together as he walked over to Hades. Hades turned suddenly, his skin flaring red.
“NO,’ he shouted,’ this is my underworld, I’ll do it myself.” He clicked his fingers as his skin turned blue. There was a loud growl as the giant head of a midnight black dog came to the window.
“Cerberus, go!” Commanded Hades, and with that the dog took of.
By now Liz and Auron had reached one of the huge chambers that Tamara and Liz had first arrived in. Liz cried out happily and dashed towards the doors, then faltered as she saw the large brass padlock holding the two doors together. Auron looked at Liz as her keyblade flashed into her hands.
“There’s still one more chamber after this one. Do you think you can open the door?” He asked quietly, Tamara still draped over his shoulder. Liz looked between the door and her keyblade.
“I think so.” She muttered. With that, she faced her keyblade to the lock as a white light beamed from the tip of the keyblade towards the heavy brass lock. A faint clicking noise was heard as the chains that bound it slid away. Liz began to began push the doors away, then cringed as she heard a loud crash behind her. Liz and Auron turned around slowly to see a huge, brown, three headed dog growling at them savagely. Auron slowly backed up and placed Tamara by the door, slowly moving forwards again as he drew out his sword. Auron nodded swiftly to Liz and they both lunged towards the dog. Their fighting styles were varied and yet worked together well; Liz fighting with the balance and spontaneity of a pirate as she aimed for the legs, and Auron with the strength and form of a warrior as he tried to take out the heads. The pair parried and blocked desperately, trying to gain the upper hand on the huge dog’s razor sharp teeth while trying to guard each other’s backs.
Soon both Auron and Liz were panting; the dog had an amazing amount of energy. The dog then started to walk towards Tama, sensing an easy target for the kill and knocking aside Auron with a giant paw as he tried to stop it. Liz saw the sudden movement and growled low in her throat as the anger she had been letting simmer inside her body finally came into full steam.
“Don’t you dare!!!” she cried. Gales of wind began to howl around her as she raised her keyblade, sending a single, twisting beam of white straight at the dog.
The dog was hit square in the chest, and it whimpered pathetically before it collapsed. Liz then fell to her knees, lapsing in and out of consciousness from all the power she had used; she felt hands pull her up and looked to see Auron helping her, smiling gently in the dim light.
“Let’s go, shall we?” said Auron gently as Liz stood. As soon as Liz could stand steadily without his help, Auron walked over to where Tamara was lying and picked her up, striding through the doors as Liz held the other side of the door for him. Once on the other side, he lay Tamara on the floor and walked to the doors. Both Auron and Liz slammed the huge doors shut as the dog started to stir. Liz leant against the door, her hands on her knees as she felt the dog strike shuddering blows against the door to no avail.
“Thanks Auron, you’re the best…” She muttered quietly, but when she looked around, Auron was nowhere to be found, and Tamara was lying on the cold stone floor. Liz stopped looking around and directed her attention to Tamara, who was still talking fretfully in her sleep. She seemed wearier, and her voice was starting to fade to a whisper. Liz knelt by her side, shaking her shoulders gently side to side.
“Come on Tama,’ muttered Liz,’ I’m gonna get you out of here, if it’s the last thing I do.” With that, Liz slung one of Tamara’s arms around her neck, and with her remaining strength lifted Tama off the ground and started walking towards the last door. She had managed to half carry half drag Tamara to the large stone door, being forced to put her friend back down as the last of her energy started to drain away. Liz leant against the doors, her breathing becoming shallow.
Suddenly Liz stepped away as the doors began to open.
Aqua and Riku had almost flown down the stairs in their rush to get to the doors to the underworld, they were at the bottom of the stairs before anyone else was even half-way down. It was Aqua who had reached the doors a millisecond faster than Riku, and he began to push them open just as Riku joined him. As Aqua opened the door he gasped, seeing Liz standing in the doorway, her face deathly pale and her lips taking on a blue tinge. He immediately felt a surge of relief flood through him as his fears faded away. Riku gave a happy glance to Liz, then immediately froze as he saw Tamara’s body lying behind her.
Both boys cried the names at the same time, Aqua in relief and Riku in horror, and Riku screamed Tamara’s name once again as he dropped down by her side and tried to wake her. Aqua felt pity for Riku as he focused on Liz once again, suddenly aware that she was staring at him with vacant eyes.
“We made it...” she whispered faintly, a smile tweaking the corners of her lips before she closed her eyes and collapsed into Aqua’s arms. Aqua only just managed to regain his wits in time to catch her, his panic slowly getting the better of him as he cradled her limp form, the cold from her skin chilling him down to his bones.
“Guys,’ Riku screamed as he looked over his shoulder and saw the others at the bottom of the stairs,’ get over here!!!” Riku held Tamara gently in his arms, trying to wake her without success. As the rest of the gang started to approach, both boys picked the girls up in their arms and began to walk away from the underworld doors as fast as they possibly could, becoming more and more panicky. As Hercules reached the distressed boys, he took one look at the two limp girls cradled in Riku and Aqua’s arms, and then made a quick decision.
“Bring them up to the coliseum, we can help them there. Do you want me to carry them?” He asked gently.
“No thanks, we can look after them.” Said Riku as he walked back towards the stairs, the chill from her body frightening him intensely.
‘Would this have happened if I hadn’t of been ogling Meg?’ Riku asked himself, shame almost overwhelming him. Both boys followed Hercules back up the stairs to the Coliseum, hoping with all their hearts that the girls would be alright.
Ten minutes later, back at a spare room in the Coliseum, Aqua and Riku were pacing restlessly as the two unconscious girls slept on a bulky pile of colourful patchwork sheets and pillows that Phil and Meg had found, both girls wrapped up in thick blankets and shivering. Donald was talking quietly to Sora and Goofy, while Meg, Hercules and Phil were calmly sitting near the girls, their heads bent in quiet discussion. The silence was broken as Tama stirred restlessly, whimpering softly before falling back into unconsciousness. Riku looked to her pleadingly, also glancing over at Aqua’s equally distressed face as he gazed at Liz, but Riku regretfully tore his gaze away from Tamara’s serene face when she didn’t wake up.
“I can’t take this anymore!!” Aqua cried out suddenly, the whole room staring at him as he shook restlessly and stood up.
“He’s right,’ muttered Riku,’ I’m gonna go crazy if we don’t at least try to help them.”
“Of course,’ groaned Sora,’ it’s so obvious! Donald, use your magic to heal them!”
Donald quacked sheepishly. He had been so worried about the two girls that he had completely forgotten all about his magic.
“Why the heck do we keep on forgetting?!” said Riku.
There was a faint pop as Donald’s short blue staff appeared in his hand, the cloth hat perched on top wobbling precariously. Donald looked over at the rest of the group, ignoring Meg’s inquisitive gaze. Sora, Riku and Aqua nodded in unspoken agreement.
“Heal” The four muttered simultaneously, dainty green and golden petals flew from the tip of the keyblades, and Donald’s staff, surrounding the girls and bathing them in a green glow. As the light sunk into their bodies, Liz started to stir. She awoke with a yawn, then stretched her arms as she muttered something about cupcakes. Aqua and Sora gave each other a knowing glance, remembering their failed attempt at cooking lunch on the Gummi Ship before they had arrived at the Coliseum. There had been a lot of cleaning up to do. Liz growled low in her throat as she began to sit up, her forehead pounding like there was a marching band in there.
“Liz?” asked Aqua tentatively, reaching out to touch her hand. Liz looked down sleepily at Aqua’s hand as it rested on hers, then shifting her gaze up to stare at his face. She blinked her jade eyes three times before the memory of the Underworld came back to her, then slapped a hand to her forehead.
“I’m such an idiot!!” Liz groaned, startling everyone in the room.
“Why are you an idiot?” Asked Aqua, raising one eyebrow curiously.
“Because, the one thing I fear the most is death,’ Liz muttered,’ so what do I do? Go running around in the bloody Underworld !!!”
“You’re right,’ sighed Aqua,’ you are an idiot.”
Liz erupted into hysterical peals of laughter that were so unexpected that everyone in the room, including Aqua, jumped. The laughter rung like a bell through the silent room, finally lulling to a stop as Liz looked down at Tamara.
“She should be awake any moment now,’ said Liz, answering Riku’s unasked question,’ she’s probably just sleeping it all off. After all, she did had a near-death experience.” As Riku looked at Liz, utterly alarmed, Tamara began to stir.
She shook her head, her golden hair flopping about on her pillow, then clawed at the sheets. Slowly, Tamara opened her eyes, everything hazy as began to wake up, and the first thing she saw was Riku’s face hovering above her, gazing down anxiously. Tamara’s eyelids snapped open all the way and her body vaulted forwards, catching Riku by surprise as he was pulled into a hug that crushed his lungs.
“Oww....” Riku muttered, wincing slightly. Tamara pulled away and gave him a sheepish look, the usual faint pink colour beginning to appear on her cheeks.
“Tama” Liz yelled as she pounced on the other girl, giving her a huge hug.
“Oh my God...,’ groaned Tamara,’ My head is gonna explode!!”
“Not surprisingly.” Said Liz, retreating from the hug.
“Um, who are they?” asked Tamara, glancing warily over at Phil and Hercules.
“ I’m Phil,’ said Phil,’ and this is my star pupil; Hercules!” He motioned to himself, and then Hercules.
“It’s nice to meet you,’ said Liz in reply,’ my name is Liz, and this is Tamara.” Hercules nodded his head in acknowledgement, but before he could speak Riku and Aqua interrupted.
“Where the hell have you been?” Both boys shouted simultaneously.
“No, wait,’ said Aqua,’ didn’t you say you were in the Underworld?!”
“Heh heh, oops...” muttered Liz, faltering under Tamara’s death stare.
“You had better have a good reason for leaving!” Donald quacked, his arms crossed across his chest.
“Well, Liz had the idea of going exploring on our own.....” She didn’t get much farther with her explanation, because Riku interrupted.
“But you didn’t have to go alone.” He said, trying to refer to the group, but meaning himself and Aqua. Liz glared at him before replying, putting as much venom in her voice as possible.
“We didn’t want to disturb you. You seemed to be having so much more fun talking with Meg.” She finished with a sarcastic smile. Aqua felt like he could melt under the fiery glare that Liz was giving him.
“So,’ continued Tamara,’ because you were so preoccupied, we went through one of the doors and went exploring.”
Ten minutes later, Liz stopped talking nervously, eyeing Tamara questioningly.
“What happened next, what happened when you got to the bridge?” Riku pried. Tama shifted uncomfortably in her seat before looking to Liz. Liz shrugged in reply.
“Tama will have to tell you.” Liz said giving Tamara a forceful nudge. Tama groaned before going into the details.
“Well, I hate heights, so when there’s a bridge with no railings and heartless all along it, I’m not going to go full pelt across like Liz and Auron.” Tama stopped uneasily, setting Riku on edge. “Well,’ continued Tamara,’ I backed up, but it turns out that Hades was behind me.’ The blood drained from Riku’s face.’ I tried to get away, but he grabbed me and started to drain my energy.” She stopped again. By now, everyone in the room was looking at her in expectation, like she was telling a thrilling story, not recalling a painful memory. Even Liz forgot what happened next, too wound up in the tense vibe of the story to remember anything.
“Hades started kissing my neck, trailing the kisses higher and higher, and all the while draining my power.” Everyone in the room as silent.
Riku’s fists were balled in anger, and the only thing holding his emotions in one piece was Aqua’s iron grip on his shoulder.
“Then he said something about being kissed by death, and the next thing I knew, he kissed me on the lips.” Riku stood up so quickly that Aqua was sent crashing to the floor, conveniently straight into Liz. Liz raised an eyebrow, and he quickly moved.
“Hades kissed you!?” Riku shouted, his voice high pitched and raised. Tamara nodded sadly while the others in the room where silent.
“All I remember is blacking out, and then waking up here.” Riku looked at her, his face white in shock. He could feel anger boiling inside of him, and was having a lot of difficulty bottling it up.
Meg, Hercules and Phil glanced at each other, exchanging looks of .
“You survived the kiss of death..... That’s a new one.” Meg said quietly.
“Should I keep going with the story?” asked Liz hesitantly glancing around the room.
“Yeah, I guess you should.” Sighed Riku, bracing himself for any more bad news.
After Liz finally finished recounting the epic tale, Sora quickly broke the awkward silence that followed.
“Looks like we have a problem on our hands,’ he sighed,’ if Pete was with Hades then something must be going on. We need something to help us keep our energy up.” Sora finished, trailing off into thought.
“Well,’ said Hercules,’ there is the Olympus Stone. The Gods used it when they had to go to the underworld, it stopped their energy being drained.”
“That would be perfect!’ Said Sora,’ Where is it?”
“It’s at the top of Mt. Olympus,’ said Hercules, standing up,’ I’ll go and get it now, and in the meantime you guys can train with Phil.” He was out the door a few seconds later. Meg nodded and left quickly after.
“Come on then,’ muttered Phil,’ let’s get this training started. You’ll need it.”
Riku stood up and stretched, various bones in his body popping loudly. He laughed uneasily as Liz pulled a mock-disgusted face, feeling just a bit happier.
“Guess we’d better follow him...” Sora said, watching as Phil walked out the door.
“Yeah,’ said Liz,’ we should, but I’m too tired. Just leave me here, I’ll be with you in an hour.”
“Liz, get up!” Tamara cried exasperatedly as Liz tried to pull the sheets over her head.
“Aqua,’ pleaded Tamara,’ help me out!”
“Fine!” Aqua grinned widely and knelt towards the wrapped up form of Liz under the sheets.
“Liz,’ he said sweetly, shaking her shoulder,’ if you don’t get up I’m going to jump on you.”
Liz was out from under the covers like a shot, bounding over to the other side of the room where she smiled brightly.
“Are we going or not?” She said happily, almost bouncing out the door.
Outside the coliseum, right in the center of the stadium, a field full of one hundred big mauve vases had been set up and strategically placed.
“You smash these while I watch.” Phil explained as he sat on the stone steps.
“That’s it? What kind of training is that?!” said Liz disapprovingly.
“You try doing it in ten seconds, then see how easy it is.” Said Phil, a confident smirk across his face.
“Oh, you’re on!” said Liz, grinning excitedly.
“Right,’ said Phil,’ on the count of three, start smashing. Okay: One. Two....... THREE!” Liz, Sora, Donald and Goofy dashed off into the fray, whacking and smashing the vases at lightening speed. Riku, Aqua, and Tamara hung back over at the spectator seats, not keen on getting in the way of Liz and Sora’s determination.
Riku looked over at Tamara for a few moments before turning to her, his stomach clenching uncomfortably.
“How could you let Hades kiss you?’ he asked, the words spilling out of his mouth in his haste to say them.’ Did you want to get kissed by that creep?”
Tamara sighed, trying to avoid the question. Aqua shuffled away, sensing a storm brewing between the pair, and tried to keep is eyes glued to the vase smashing going on below.
“Why do you want to know, it doesn’t matter?” Tamara asked.
“It matters to me!” Riku said, his voice a little louder.
From the vase smashing field, Liz looked up and saw Aqua give her a concerned glance. Aqua motioned one hand at Riku and Tamara, then looked pleadingly at her. Liz sighed, not wanting to back off from the clay carnage but knowing that she had a duty to stop the two from fighting. Again.
She sighed and began to trudge back towards the feuding pair.
“I couldn’t fight back,’ Tama sighed as Liz walked into hearing range,’ no matter what I tried. I was barely conscience when he did it, and it wasn’t exactly the best experience for me.”
“Well maybe if you weren’t such a scaredy cat it might not have happened.” The words came out more harshly than Riku had intended them to, and he barley got to finish the sentence before Tamara slapped him hard across the face.
“Well excuse me, Mr. I-am-so-much-more-perfect, but weren’t you the one who said they wouldn’t care if I got smashed to a pulp?!”
With that said, she stormed off to take her frustration out on the last few unlucky vases.
“Do you want me to punch him??” Liz called after Tamara, her right hand balled into a fist that was raised directly at Riku’s eye level.
“Uhh, maybe not.” said Aqua hastily, grabbing her wrist.
“Aww” said Liz, giving her best pout.
“Leave Riku with me,’ he said calmly, letting go of her wrist,’ I’ll give him an ear bashing for you.”
“Alright,’ sighed Liz, feigning disappointment,’ but remember to make it a long and tedious affair.” With that, she jumped back down over the rows of seats, down to ask Phil for some more vases. Aqua sighed mournfully after her before sliding over next to Riku, who was looking a lot more relieved now that Liz was gone.
“C’mon, talk to me about this, please?” Aqua asked pleadingly. Riku looked at Aqua then hung his head dejectedly, his silver fringe fanning out in front of his face to hide his eyes.
“I just couldn’t get over how jealous I am,’ he sighed,’ I mean, he kissed her. Him!!” Riku sighed sadly, and Aqua patted his back sympathetically.
“I know how you feel,’ he said,’ I would probably feel the same way if it had been Liz.” As he said this he looked over to the brown haired girl, sighing sadly. Riku looked at him.
“Why does being in love have to be so damn hard?” He said to himself gently.
“And painful...’ Aqua added,’ But at least Tama shows some sign of loving you back!”
The carnage below them halted as Hercules walked into the stadium, and as everyone ran over to greet him, he looked over at all the eager faces and frowned.
“Sorry guys,’ he said sadly,’ but the stone wasn’t there. Apparently, it was stolen by a man in a hooded black cloak.”
Liz and Tamara exchanged dark glances.
“It must have been the guy we saw in the underworld...” Tamara said thoughtfully. Liz nodded in agreement, then looked over at Hercules.
“If we find the Olympus Stone,’ said Riku,’ can you let us borrow it for a little while?” Hercules nodded in agreement.
“Sure,’ he said,’ I’ll just be glad to get it back. Oh, by the way, have any of you seen Meg around?” Hercules seemed deflated as he saw everyone shake their heads.
Suddenly a small swirl of black appeared behind Hercules. It became bigger and blacker until, to Liz’s irritation and Tamara’s horror, Hades stepped from the gloom.
“What’s wrong your hero-ness,’ said Hades to Hercules,’ feeling a little under the weather today?”
“Right,’ said Sora suspiciously,’ Hades we need to talk.” Hades looked at him and clicked his fingers, causing Sora to crash backwards into Riku and Goofy, sending all three sprawling.
“I came to share some mildly interesting news.’ Said Hades,’ It seems your dear, sweet nutmeg has gone and gotten herself lost down in the underworld.” Hercules glared at Hades menacingly.
“Yeah right,’ said Tamara rather loudly,’ what’s the bet you kidnapped her?”
Hades eyed her off with distaste.
“You, my dear,’ he said icily,’ are supposed to be dead.”
Riku glared daggers at him and stood defensively behind Tamara.
Aqua, sensing his chance, hooked both his arms protectively around Liz’s neck and placed his chin on her head, ignoring her protests and her squirming.
Hades watched on in amusement as Hercules gave a loud whistle. Almost a second later a startlingly white horse flew down from the sky, it’s white wings beating effortlessly, its sky blue main and tail streaming out behind it. The horse touched down lightly and trotted over to Hercules, eyeing off Hades with distaste. Hercules was an instant from climbing on the horse’s back when Hades spoke.
“You can’t go wandering off, you have a very important match today against... the... umm...’ he thought for a moment before snapping his fingers,’ That’s it! You have to verse the blood thirsty Hydra. And if you don’t stick around, who knows how many accidents might happen.”
Liz snorted with laughter.
“Yeah,’ she sneered,’ accidents that you cause”
As Hades shrugged, an irritated look appeared on Aqua’s face.
“You’re such a coward, Hades!” he said indignantly.
Hades had a look of mock hurt on his face as black smoke began to swirl around him, engulfing him as he disappeared.
“Oh well,’ echoed out Hades’ voice as the black smoke began to dissipate,’ we can’t all be heroes.”
“Don’t worry Herc,’ said Sora happily,’ we’ll go and help Meg while you take care of the Hydra.”
“You can count on us!” Aqua said contentedly. Hercules nodded happily and then jumped on the horses back.
“Thanks guys, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Hercules gave the horse a nod, and took off into the sky. As soon as he had left Liz, squirmed around with great difficulty so that she could at least see the side of Aqua’s face.
“Can you please get off me now?” She said grumbled, trying to free herself from the strong boy’s grip. Aqua smiled playfully and bent his head down so that his mouth was next to her ear.
“And what of I said no?” He whispered, sending tingles down her spine and making her blush bright pink.
“You asked for it...” muttered Liz as she swung her foot back, connecting hard with Aqua’s shin with a smack. Aqua made a funny noise and collapsed to the ground, grabbing his shin as it began to ache.
Liz grinned smugly and walked away, Tama right behind her.
After a few minutes, Riku and Sora looked down pitifully on Aqua, who was clutching his injured shin and still in a considerable amount of pain.
“Are you alright?” asked Sora, holding out a hand to help his fallen comrade to his feet.
“I think I’m going to get a really big bruise….” Groaned Aqua, accepting Sora’s and pulling himself back onto his feet.
“We should follow them before they wound anyone else…” said Riku, staring after the girls as they walked out of sight.
“Did you have to kick me so hard?” Aqua complained, limping slightly as the group walked back down towards the Underworld.
“Just be glad the kick was aimed at your leg.” Said Liz, and immediately Aqua dropped his next complaint. They walked a few more minutes in awkward silence, half listening as Sora and Riku talked behind them. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Liz spotted a small reddish object lying in the middle of the dank stone floor, and it took her only a few seconds to see who it was.
“Phil!!” Liz cried out, just a fraction of a second before Riku and Tamara came barreling past her. As the rest of the group caught up, Riku had already helped Phil to stand, and was muttering quietly to Donald.
“What happened?” asked Goofy in a concerned tone.
“I was just wanderin’ around,’ said Phil, slightly dazed,’ when this guy in black suddenly came charging at me and almost knocked me over. I tried to follow him, but the next thing I knew, I was seein’ stars.”
Sora, Donald and Goofy exchanged knowing looks.
“It must have been the thief.” Said Riku, voicing the thoughts of the rest of the group.
“Which way did he go?” asked Liz.
“That one.” Phil pointed towards the door next to the one that Liz and Tamara had decided to go through. The door was as large as the other one, except of being covered in deep blue markings, this one was riddled with long, hazy green zig-zags. Nodding at each other, Liz and Tamara stood up to walk towards the door, but Sora grabbed both their wrists before they could get any further.
“This time we’re going in as a team.” He said reassuringly, and Liz couldn’t help but smile. Sora’s happiness was more infectious than a cold.
A few moments later, they parted ways with Phil and headed towards the door. As Sora approached the doorway, he tried to open the door and realized that it wouldn’t budge.
“Some help please?” he said, looking over at Aqua. Aqua nodded and walked forwards, placing his shoulder against the door as he began to push. The door gave a noise that sounded like a groan, but still wouldn’t shift.
“Need a hand?” Aqua said, and motioned for Riku to help him push. Determined not to be outdone, Liz also lent her weight in addition to the boys’, and slowly the door began to move inwards. They gave one final shove and the door swung open with a loud scraping noise.
Liz gave a yelp as she lost her balance and fell forwards, realizing a split second later that the area in front of the door dropped suddenly, forming a gap that was covered by thick white mist. She was about to stumble over the edge when Aqua grabbed her hand, and she crashed into his chest as he pulled her back. For a few seconds she was still, suddenly warm as she relaxed into Aqua’s arms. Then, she snapped out of her daze as Tamara giggled and pulled away from Aqua, whose heart sank right down through the fog.
Along with Tamara, Liz kneeled down and peered into the fog.
“What do we do now?” asked Sora, scratching his hair as he thought.
“You know, I think I can almost see through this fog…” muttered Tamara, standing back up as a devilish grin spread across her face. Before anyone could stop her, Tamara took a few steps back, then ran forwards, jumped, and did an acrobatic flip as she down sailed into the mist.
“That showoff…” muttered Liz as the others stared, mouths agape. She took a few steps towards the edge, then followed Tamara and jumped into the fog.
“They are absolutely mad!” gasped Riku, shaking his head in amazement.
“Are you guys coming or not?” echoed Tamara’s voice.
“It’s not a steep drop, only about three and a half meters down.” Said Tamara’s voice from the pit.
“Only three and a half?!” said Riku sarcastically.
“Only one thing left to do now…” said Aqua, grinning as he took a step forwards and jumped over the edge. There was a surreal feeling as he plunged through the fog, then as the ground came rushing up to meet them he bent his knees to absorb the impact and landed on his feet. There was a funny whooshing sound as Sora and Riku appeared behind him, followed quickly by Donald and Goofy as the fell through the fog.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” teased Tamara. Riku vaguely acknowledged the comment as he watched the fog repair itself, forming a thick white blanket above their heads once more.
“That is so cool!” muttered Aqua to himself when Riku pointed this out.
“Well, where do we go now?” Sora thought out loud, looking around and noting the multitude of tunnels snaking this way and that.
“I’m guessing that way.” Said Tamara, pointing to one of the tunnels at random and walking towards it, beckoning the others to follow.
Riku glanced at Tamara nervously, noting her blank expression and withdrawn body language. Normally he wouldn’t have noticed anything as subtle as that, but the eeriness of the dark, damp tunnel that they were currently walking down was turning all his senses up a few notches. He racked his brains for a few moments, trying to think of a topic of conversation to try and bring the golden haired girl out of her shell.
“Is it me, or is it really cold down here?” Tama said.
“It’s cold.” Riku said for the sake of conversation, even though he felt perfectly warm himself. Tamara shivered and rubbed her arms, trying to stop them from going blue.
“You can borrow my vest for a bit if you want.” Said Riku courteously.
“No thanks,’ said Tamara,’ I’m fine.”
“You sure?” Riku said again. Tamara shook her head definitely.
“You can borrow my coat if you want.” Liz offered, noticing with amusement that her breath was turning into small wisps of steam as they exited her mouth. Tamara shook her head again, and fell into step next to Riku.
Liz kept walking on a little behind Aqua, deciding that the conversation that Tamara was about to start wouldn’t interest her enough to eavesdrop on. She took a deep breath in, then exhaled, watching in amusement as a large puff of steam swirled out of her mouth and floated up towards the ceiling. Taking in an even deeper breath, she released the steam in little bursts, trying in vain to make them form a ring.
Suddenly Aqua stopped dead still, and Liz, not watching where she was going, smacked right into him. It caused a domino effect, and Tamara accidentally walked right into Liz.
“Liz,’ groaned Tamara as she rubbed her arms again and stepped over towards the wall,’ watch where you’re going!”
“Why are you complaining to me,’ Liz grumbled,’ Aqua’s the one that stopped right in front us…. Aqua??”
“You!!” cried Aqua, standing deadly still and pointing to a figure on the other side of the tunnel. The man in the black robe spun around when Aqua spoke up, and Liz and Tamara did a double take. The man in front of them was the same guy that they had run into in the tunnels before, but he had had his hood up then. Now, with his hood down, his likeness to Aqua was startling. The man’s hair was a few shades browner, he was taller, and his eyes were a dull grey-blue colour, but the resemblance between the two was scary.
“Ah, you!” gasped the man, his face turning pale.
“I thought I’d never see you again,’ spat Aqua, unusually angry,’ apparently I was wrong.”
“Um, do you two know each other?” asked Sora, stepping forwards.
The man gasped as he saw Sora.
“Wait a sec,’ he muttered, apparently thinking,’ Roxas?”
“Excuse me?” said Sora, a bit confused.
“Roxas??!’ the man said again,’ Oh, it’s no use!”
“Huh? What are you talking about?!” replied Sora.
“Let’s see here….” Muttered the man as he dug a hand into the pockets on his black robe.
Sora watched on uncomfortably as the man pulled out a scrap of paper, reading the note to himself out loud.
“If the subject fails to respond,’ he read loudly,’ use aggression to liberate his true disposition. Right.”
Tamara raised an eyebrow and looked over at Liz, who had both hands pressed forcefully against her mouth in order to stifle her laughter.
“Did they ever pick the wrong guy for this one…” sighed the man to himself, shoving the paper back into his pocket.
“You’re bizarre!” muttered Sora as the man pulled out of his pocket a small round, coin-like stone that sat in the palm of his hand.
“Hey, that’s the Olympus Stone!” Cried Riku, taking a step forwards.
“He’s gotta be the thief!” said Goofy.
“Now that’s just plain rude!” Said the man, holding the stone up in the air. The stone shone brightly for a second, then released two jets of golden light that circled the man’s body. He smirked as he put the stone back into his pocket, summoning a little ball of darkness with his other hand.
“Oh, not that thing again!” snorted Aqua as the ball of darkness transformed itself into a large blue guitar with three spikes mounted on it’s top.
“I see you’re still unimpressed.” Said the man, plucking at the strings of the strange instrument.
“You’re still the same, Demyx,’ said Aqua spitefully,’ always relying on that mockery of a guitar to do all the work for you!”
“And I suppose you can do better?” sneered Demyx.
“Yeah,’ retorted Aqua as he summoned his keyblade to his hand, ’yeah, I think I can!”
“Ooohh, I’m so scared of that little key,’ taunted Demyx, his voice high and child-like,’ what’re you going to do, make me laugh myself to death?!”
“I swear,’ growled Aqua,’ if you had a heart I would cut it out of you right now!!”
Demyx frowned and glared at Aqua, who returned the glare and took a menacing step forwards.
“Would you two quit with the testosterone surges already!” shouted Liz, pressing a hand against Aqua’s chest and pushing him backwards.
“Ohh, getting your girlfriend to protect you?’ smirked Demyx,’ That’s just so brave.”
“You leave her out of this!” snarled Aqua fiercely, his face turning a faint shade of pink. Demyx smiled, realizing that he’d hit a nerve, and struck a loud note on his peculiar guitar.
“Don’t you dare use that stupid catchphrase!” Aqua growled. A large grin spread across Demyx’s face.
“I’m warning you!” shouted Aqua as Demyx played another harsh note. It reverberated for a few seconds around the cavern before Demyx struck a louder note.
“Dance water, DANCE!!” He cried, and played a note so loud that it hurt Tamara’s ears. The note seemed to take on a form, swirling together and turning crystal like and see-through. Demyx continued to play ear shattering notes and the forms kept appearing, until there was only one thing left to do.
Aqua charged forwards, slashing at the water people as he tried to attack Demyx, Liz rushing after him to make sure he didn’t get hurt. Riku and Sora worked their way together through the crowd of crystal figures, taking out three with every swipe of their keyblades, followed up by Donald and Goofy who worked in tandem. Tamara hung back, not quite sure what to do. There was a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach, not unpleasant, but like something was inside of her and needed to get out, badly. She ignored the feeling for a few seconds, trying to concentrate on the crystal figures that were swarming around her, but eventually the feeling was so strong that she felt like she was going to throw up.
Prepared for the worst, she opened her mouth-- and sung out a note so clear and beautiful that all of the crystal figures around her burst, soaking her from head to toe in freezing cold water. And then a melody came flowing form her throat, quickly harmonized as Liz opened her mouth and began to sing as well. It was like time just stopped, everyone was still, even Demyx, as the surrounding crystal figures shattered and sprayed water everywhere. As the final figure burst apart, Liz and Tamara sung one final note, bringing Demyx to his knees. The note echoed around the cavern for a few seconds, then faded away.
Tamara closed her eyes and shook her head, feeling like she had just woken from a long sleep as Riku rushed to her side.
“You never told me you could sing like that!!” He said, smiling lightly.
“You never asked.” Said Tamara, the groggy feeling almost entirely gone from her body.
“Why don’t you clear off now,’ said Aqua calmly as Demyx stood shakily,’ while I’m still in a good mood.”
Demyx scowled at his as blackness surrounded his body.
“Roxas,’ he sighed as he looked over at Sora,’ come back to us!”
The group watched for a few seconds as the dark fizzled into nothing.
“Guy’s a broken record!” exclaimed Sora.
“Yeah…” mumbled Liz, not really concentrating on anyone or anything. There was a feeling that she just couldn’t shake off, like she was forgetting something really important.
“We should keep going.” Said Riku, motioning towards the large black doors on the other side of the room. Aqua nodded, and without saying a word, pressed his shoulders against the doors and pushed them open. Behind the doors was a large stone room, the only light being emitted from a large white stone that stood in the center of the floor and rose up towards the roof. In the center was a rainbow figure that looked just like Meg, and next to her was what looked like a keyhole.
“Looks like this is where Meg is…” said Riku, walking up to the stone and placing a hand on its surface, which was warm and smooth.
“Right.” Said Sora, summoning his keyblade and pointing it at the lock. There was a click and a flash of light as the rock was encircled by veins of white light, which faded away to reveal a beam of cloudy green light that extended up towards the roof of the cavern.
“What do we do now?” asked Aqua, staring at the green beam.
“Maybe walk into it?” Tamara suggested.
“Might as well.” Said Riku. He walked up to the beam and put his hand into it, then once he was satisfied that he wasn’t walking into a trap, he walked straight through. Sora and Aqua hurried after him, and they were quickly followed by Donald and Goofy. Liz hung back, leaning against the door with her hands in her coat pockets.
“Are you coming?” questioned Tamara, watching her friend uncertainly.
“The guy’s have probably got it covered.” Liz replied, staring off into space.
“What’s up Liz,’ Tamara asked,’ it’s not like you to miss a fight.”
“I just think that they can do without us.” Said Liz vaguely, still not making eye-contact with Tamara.
“Is something wrong?” Tamara asked softly, starting to get a bit worried.
“No, nothing’s wrong, I just feel like I’m forgetting something important.” Said Liz.
“Important?” queried Tamara.
“Yeah,’ said Liz, who had almost totally zoned out,’ I just need a moment to think.”
“Fine, but can we at least watch how the guys are going?” pleaded Tamara.
“Okay, but I’m only going down there if they’re in serious trouble.” Said Liz, walking towards the beam and sitting down cross-legged next to it. The beam widened and became clear, then faded away to leave a hole in the floor where both girls could watch what was going on below.
The boys had found Meg, she was standing in the middle of the white cavern, tendrils of darkness binding her arms to her sides. She smiled happily as she saw the boys approach, but then grimaced and shrunk back as Hades appeared beside her.
“Gee, that’s some key you’ve got there,’ he drawled,’ thanks for your help.”
“What help?!” asked Sora, a bad feeling racing around in his mind.
“Wish I could stay and tell you,’ smirked Hades,’ but there are some things I need to take care of first.”
“Hey, wait!” squawked Donald as black smoke encircled Hades completely.
“Have a nice day…” echoed his voice as the smoke thinned out and disappeared.
Sora shook his head, exasperated, then pointed his keyblade at Meg slashed through the darkness binding her arms.
“Thanks,’ sighed Meg, shaking her arms a bit to start the blood flow again,’ I’ve been waiting for so long for someone to--” Meg was cut off as a shriek echoed around the cavern. Liz and Tamara suddenly came flying out of the green beam that lead back up to where they had come from and skidded across the floor, followed by a swarm of heartless that were a cross between bats and umbrella’s.
“Damn …” muttered Liz as she skidded to a stop at Aqua’s feet, slowly sitting up and rubbing her back.
“What happened?!” asked Riku, reaching down and helping Tamara to her feet.
“I’ve got no idea,’ she replied,’ I just know that something snuck up on us.”
“You again!” cried Sora as the bat swarm of heartless parted at the other end of the room, revealing Pete, who was standing next to the green beam and looking smug.
“Surprised?!” Pete glowered.
“Not in the least.” Muttered Riku darkly.
“Well then,’ said Pete sarcastically,’ here’s another surprise. Heartless, attack!!!!”
The bat-umbrella heartless swarmed over the group, scratching and biting at any exposed skin that they could reach.
“Liz, Tama,’ shouted Sora over the shrill screeching the heartless were making,’ protect Meg!”
“I’m not trying to be rude,’ Liz shouted back,’ but why us?!!”
“Because we’re busy!!” shouted Riku, trying to fend off a swarm. Liz and Tamara grudgingly surrendered and waded their way through the maw to reach Meg.
“So,’ said Tamara pleasantly as she swung her keyblade back and forth like a machete,’ how’re you today?”
“Are you always so calm when you’re surrounded by monsters?” asked Meg uncertainly, amazed at how laid back the two girls were being.
“It’s sort of routine now.” Said Liz, grinning as she sent one bat heartless spiraling around the room and destroying almost twenty others.
“It’s a pretty harsh routine…” muttered Meg as she pulled her hair out of the grip of one of the heartless, holding it close by her sides.
“Keeps us interested!” said Tamara happily.
“Guys,’ called Aqua from across the room,’ there’re too many, I can’t keep this up for much longer!”
Liz grimaced, but didn’t admit that she was starting to get exhausted as well.
Pete looked triumphant. He was smirking, about to unleash another wave of heartless, but suddenly his smile faded and he slumped forwards. The heartless disappeared as Hercules stepped over Pete, and he was greeted by Meg as she dashed forwards and hugged him.
“Sorry I’m late.” Hercules said to Sora as he and Meg parted slightly awkwardly, then turned to face the ceiling and whistled a loud, shrill note. The stunningly white horse appeared once again, circling downwards, his sky blue main and tail rippling. The horse smacked its hooves into the back of Pete’s head as he began to stand up again, and he doubled over and fell to the floor. As soon as the horse touched the ground, Hercules picked Meg up and placed her on the horses back, in between its wings.
“Get Meg out of here.” Hercules muttered to horse, who flicked his sky-blue mane, shook out his creamy white wings, and then took off back into the air.
“Sora, you guys can go,’ said Hercules decisively,’ I want to show this guy what happens when he messes with a true hero.”
“We’re not leaving you.” Said Sora decisively, standing by Hercules’s side with his keyblade aimed at Pete, who was once again trying to stand up.
“You girls should go.” Said Hercules, eyeing off Pete.
“We’re not going anywhere.” Said Tamara stubbornly.
“But you could get hurt!” argued Hercules.
“Who says you won’t get hurt either?” replied Tamara simply.
“But--” Hercules was about to continue when he was abruptly cut short.
“GET DOWN!!” cried Aqua, and as Liz and Tamara dropped to the ground they heard something whistle by overhead. There was a loud shattering sound as the boulder Pete had thrown at them hit the wall behind them.
“That was close.” Gasped Tamara as she stood back up.
“Are you lot gonna fight me or what?!” shouted Pete as he hurled another boulder at the group.
“If you insist!” shouted Riku as he leapt forwards and sliced the boulder clean in half. Pete looked worried for a fraction of a second before a swarm of heartless materialized behind him, then grinned as he set them loose.
The swarm was so thick that Tamara could barley see what she was doing, and collided with Riku and Goofy as she tried to hack her way through the maw.
“Are you alright?” she shouted over the screeching that the heartless were making.
“What??” Goofy and Riku yelled back. Tamara shook her head in exasperation, and Riku looked at her apologetically before running off in the other direction. She was about to hack at a bunch of heartless when they burst into flames in front of her. Looking up, she saw Liz hanging in mid-air, clinging to the hook of one of the bat heartless with one hand and aiming fireballs at the hapless creatures from her keyblade with her other hand.
“You right there?!” Tamara yelled.
“This is so awesome it’s not funny!!” Liz shouted back, a wide grin on her face. Suddenly, Liz looked over to the right and her grin vanished.
“Tama,’ she shouted,’ move right!!” Tamara raised an eyebrow but moved anyway, and narrowly avoided being knocked over by Pete, who was rolling about encased in a large shield that looked like a clear soccer ball. Tamara jumped away again as Pete turned around and came hurtling past her, knocking Donald and Sora over on his way.
The number of heartless was thinning, and now Tamara could see clearly to the other side of the cavern where Pete was rolling around and trying to knock everyone over. Sora and Aqua were panting heavily, trying to avoid Pete desperately, and Hercules looked ready to collapse from exhaustion.
“Liz,’ Tamara shouted at her friend,’ you like soccer don’t you?” Liz looked puzzled for a second, then smiled as she caught onto Tamara’s idea.
Aqua groaned as he saw Pete rolling towards him again, and he quickly leapt out of the way. He was starting to get very tired, and he could see that the others were as well, but neither the heartless or Pete were showing any sign of slowing down.
“Aqua!” shouted Sora, warning him that Pete was on the move again. Aqua spun around and saw that Pete was barreling towards him again. He suddenly understood how an animal felt when a car came zooming towards it on the road as Pete got closer with rapid speed, and realized with a sudden shock that he couldn’t move his legs. Pete was almost a meter away from him when Liz dropped out of the sky, hit the ground and swung her leg around, her foot connecting with Pete’s shield with a dull thud. Pete was sent hurtling across the room, to where Tamara was standing with her keyblade in her hand. She swung her keyblade forwards and took a swing at Pete, sending him flying up towards the ceiling. Riku stared at Tamara, his mouth hanging open.
“That was one heck of a swing!” he gasped admiringly. Tamara smiled coyly and shrugged. They were distracted as Pete fell back down to the ground, his shield shattering on impact. He slowly got to his feet and glared around the room, trying to look menacing but failing.
“Hmph,’ he growled sulkily,’ this place gives me the creeps. I’ll deal with you nitwits later!”
He hurried away, waddling as fast as his pudgy legs could take him. As soon as he left the ground began to shake, a slight tremor at first, then escalating to such a force that rocks were slowly detached from the ceiling.
“We should go now!” Donald shouted above the low rumbling and crashing of boulders, pointing towards the green beam of light. As she dashed towards the exit, Tamara lost her balance as the tremors shook the cave. Riku caught her around the waist before she could hit the ground, and then tugged her to the side as a large rock came crashing down into the spot where she would have been standing.
“Thanks…” she muttered, staring into Riku’s eyes and loosing all sense of feeling. Without really registering what she was doing, she reached up and kissed his cheek, then blushed and hurried away. Riku stood still for a moment, then dashed after her, his cheek tingling.
Hades stood in the middle of the collapsing cavern, rocks crashing to either side of him. He smiled happily to himself and placed his fingertips together. He smirked as he watched the walls start to cave in around him, devious thoughts in his mind. He looked up at where the companions had exited and smiled.
“Could this day get any better?” he said happily as the walls of the cavern gave way and collapsed inwards.
The group didn’t stop running until they were out of the underworld, stopping at the stairs to the coliseum to catch their breaths. Sora doubled over and collapsed on the ground, panting heavily as he tried to calm down his heart rate.
“Well,’ he gasped in-between breaths,’ that was fun!”
“Fun?!’ groaned Donald,’ That was anything but fun.”
“Hey, look,’ said Tamara, pointing,’ more fun.”
The group followed Tamara’s gesture and saw tufts of black smoke spiraling up menacingly from the solid floor. There was a flash, and suddenly the smoke ignited, burning itself up to reveal Hades standing there with a smug look on his face.
“Well,’ he said,’ it seems you all made it out okay, although for how long you stay in one piece remains to be seen. There’s a small problem in the coliseum with that Hydra you neglected to finish off.”
“I hear it’s falling apart up there…” Hades smiled as Hercules glared at him.
“Now onto other matters,’ he said, directing his gaze towards the girls,’ I have a proposition for you two gorgeous ladies to think about.”
Both glanced at each other worriedly before looking back at Hades.
“What kind of proposition?” Liz asked cautiously, taking a step back.
“Well,’ said Hades calmly,’ it seems that your companions have, well, not noticed how amazing beautiful you really are. And honestly, can they really like you if they’re always pawing over someone else?”
“I don’t think I like where this offer is going.” Said Tamara, her mind trying to stop her mouth from throwing out every insult under the sun.
“Well,’ continued Hades,’ what I propose is that you stay with me, become my beautiful brides, and live in the underworld with me.”
“NO!!” Liz, Tamara, Riku and Aqua shouted at the same time. Riku felt dizzy as he looked over at Tamara, whose face was set in a defiant glare.
“What kind of proposition is that?” Aqua asked, so angry that his voice came out in a low growl.
“A very good one that the both of you should consider seriously.” Hades replied.
Liz and Tama shot a fleeting glance at each other, both coming to the same conclusion.
“Sorry, but we’re going to have to decline your offer.” Tamara said decisively, grabbing Riku’s hand and heading for the door. Riku’s mind emptied as he was dragged towards the exit, all he could focus on was the way Tamara’s hair shimmered as it bobbed up and down while she walked.
“Wait,’ cried Hades desperately as the group walked past him,’ there are so many good perks that come with the job!”
“Like what?!” Liz snarled, pivoting around to fix a fiery glare on Hades.
“I’m the Lord of the Dead sweetheart,’ Hades said quietly,’ marry me and you’ll never die.”
Liz froze on the spot, her mind racing and an uncertain expression on her face.
“Elisabeth…” called Tamara warningly. Liz shuddered suddenly and clutched Aqua’s hand, tightly intertwining their fingers.
“Sorry,’ Liz said decisively,’ no deal.” And with that she whirled around and walked towards the exit, half dragging the deliriously happy Aqua along with her.
Hades scowled and disappeared without another word.
“This…. can’t be…” Hercules moaned as he looked around the broken coliseum and fell to his knees.
“Champ, are you okay?” Phil asked worriedly. Hercules just shook his head and banged his fist against the ground.
“I failed,’ he moaned sorrowfully,’ I left everyone unprotected!”
“You did the best you could!” said Meg as she tried to console him, but to no avail.
“It’s not your fault!” Sora said reassuringly, feeling sorry for his friend.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake, but Hercules was so depressed that he barely noticed. There was a shrieking roar and the scaly purple head of the Hydra reared over the Coliseum ruins, hissing and spitting, it’s sharp teeth bared.
Meg gasped and dragged Hercules to his feet and pulled him to the side seconds before they hydra’s tail whipped into the ground, leaving a dent in the earth.
“Lets bring this thing down!” Liz said, brandishing her keyblade.
“Count us in too.” Said Phil, and Sora nodded approvingly.
The Hydra stepped forwards and swung its tail, hitting Donald and Riku and sending them flying into the wall. The Hydras head twisted and snarled, trying to bite Goofy as it’s tail swung from side to side.
“Take this you overgrown lizard!” Aqua shouted, jumping into the air and bringing his keyblade down on the scaly skin of the Hydras neck, slicing it clean off. Green blood and black smoke spurted into the air as the head fell to the ground with a dull thump, the neck writing in air above it. Aqua grinned triumphantly as he touched back on the ground, but the look was wiped from his face as three more necks burst from the Hydra’s shoulders and plunged into the ground.
“Oh come on, you’ve go to be kidding me!” Tamara cried in dismay as three heads erupted from the ground in a shower of dust and rocks. The three heads writhed around, snapping and snarling at the comrades as they tried to get close, darting around the heads and trying to find an opening for an attack. While the heads were distracted, Phil slipped away from the battle and headed towards a stack of large pots that had been spared during the carnage, running as quickly as he could.
“Guys,’ Phil cried as he had a brainwave,’ get up on the Hydra’s back!!” Liz heard him call and, ignoring Donald’s annoyed look, she left the Hydra’s head she and him were fending off and raced towards its tail. Dodging the spikes, she jumped and ran up the length of it’s tail and came to a stop just bellow the shoulders. Phil then called out an instruction and threw a huge golden vase up in the air towards her, and she jumped into the air and smacked her keyblade down on the vase, hurtling it down into the monster’s spine. All three of the hydra’s heads gave a shriek as it’s body shook, and all three heads slumped forwards on the ground. Taking advantage of the hydra’s inability to move, Sora and Tamara brought their keyblades down on two of the heads, chopping them clean off. As Aqua slashed through the last head, thick green blood spurted everywhere, some of it landing on the front of his vest. Aqua cried out in alarm as the fabric began to smoke and tried to tug the zipper on his vest down, but as he touched, it the green slime stuck to his fingers and began to make a vicious hissing sound.
“Aqua!!” cried Liz as she heard him cry out, jumping over the hydra’s limp shoulders and rushing towards him.
“I can’t get my vest off!” Aqua shouted in panic, clutching his hand tightly. He could feel the slime starting to touch his shirt, the burning sensation getting stronger and more painful as he fell to his knees. Liz was only a few meters away when the ground beneath her feet rumbled and shook, putting her off balance and sending her stumbling back. The ground exploded as another scaly, purple head burst forth, writhing, spitting and screeching in fury.
“Does this thing ever give up?!” she muttered crankily to herself as she dodged to the side and ran straight past it. She reached Aqua and leant down next to him, watching anxiously.
“Liz,’ cried Tamara as she weaved around a snarling head,’ we need help!!!”
“I’m kinda busy right now!!!” Liz yelled back, reaching forwards.
“You can’t touch it,’ Aqua gasped, wincing as he felt the slime make contact with his skin,’ it’ll burn you.”
“Then I’ll just wash it off.” Said Liz, getting off her knees and taking a step back. As Aqua looked questioningly at her, a jet of freezing water shot from the keyblade and hit him square in the chest, drenching him totally and blasting away all the slime.
“Thanks…” Aqua muttered, shaking his dripping wet hair. He tugged cautiously at his ruined vest, pulling it quickly from his shoulders.
“No problem.” Liz said, deftly catching Aqua’s vest in one hand as he threw it aside. For a moment, both forgot that they were supposed to be fighting a giant monster with lots of heads, and were so completely caught up in the moment until Tamara and Riku crashed into the wall behind them.
“I told you we shouldn’t have tried to get in closer!” muttered Tamara as she brushed dust from her hair, punching Riku in the shoulder as soon as he stood up.
“Well it’s not like your plan was working any better.” Riku retorted, rubbing his sore shoulder.
“Seriously,’ groaned Tama,’ how many heads has this thing got?”
“Eight.” Said Aqua matter-of-factly.
“Right,’ said Riku,’ so how do we--” he broke off as he noticed the gashes in Aqua’s shirt for the first time.
“What happened to you?!” gasped Tamara, seeing the gash for the first time as well.
“It’s nothing…” muttered Aqua quietly.
There was an awkward silence between the four, lasting a few seconds until the Hydra’s roar pierced the air.
“Right,’ said Riku, ducking as a large sandstone boulder sailed past his head,’ back to business.”
“We need to destroy that thing!” cried Sora, rushing over to the group as he dodged the Hydra’s thrashing tail.
“I know,’ said Liz,’ but how?”
Tamara leant against the wall and put her head in her hands, thinking hard, and then suddenly grinned.
“What?” said Liz, sensing a fabulous idea brewing.
“You guys distract the heads,’ said Tamara,’ I’ve got an idea.”
Tamara grinned and put her fingers to her lips, creating a shrill whistle. There was a rustle of feathers and wind as Pegasus dropped from the sky and snorted impatiently as Tamara swiftly climbed onto his back. She nudged his side with her heel with Pegasus launched into the sky, circling around the Hydra. Pegasus twisted his neck around and whinnied, then as if he was reading Tamara’s mind, he dove towards the Hydra. All eight head shrieked as Tamara and Pegasus flew towards them, weaving and ducking expertly. Three heads flew towards her, and with a plunging dive, Tamara ducked under the heads and sliced them right off their necks. Leaning backwards, she shot burning darts of flame from the tip of her keyblade, hitting the Hydra’s necks and making it sizzle. The same fate followed for the other five heads, all were sliced from their necks and set alight. Tamara watched on with grim satisfaction as the necks writhed about in the air, and then collapsed to the ground with a loud thump. She patted Pegasus’s neck and he spiraled to the ground, touching down lightly and trotting to a stop. Tamara jumped down from Pegasus’s back, and was greeted with a cheer loud cheer from Riku, Sora and Liz.
“You did it!!!” squealed Liz happily.
“Ugh, that thing was like a cockroach,’ groaned Tamara,’ impossible to kill!”
“Shame Hercules isn’t feeling any happier.” Said Sora, glancing over towards where Hercules was sitting on a large piece of rubble and gazing wistfully at the broken sandstone walls.
“Oh well,’ sighed Phil as he walked up to the group,’ at least there won’t be any tournaments for a while. Are you guys gonna stay and catch up on some training?”
“No, sorry,’ said Sora apologetically,’ we’ve got things to do… Worlds to save...”
Seizing their opportunity, Aqua grabbed Riku’s wrist and slipped away quietly from the girls.
“Aqua,’ muttered Riku in annoyance,’ what--?!”
“Why won’t you apologize?” said Aqua, his hands crossed over his chest.
“Apologize?” asked Riku blankly, shrinking back slightly under Aqua’s accusing glare.
“You know what I mean.” Said Aqua, gesturing over at Tamara.
“Oh.” Sighed Riku.
“She’ll forgive you,’ reassured Aqua,’ but you just have to let her know that you’re sorry!!”
“But what if she won’t forgive me?” Said Riku dejectedly.
“That is seriously one of the lamest excuses ever.” Scolded Aqua, poking Riku’s shoulder.
“That’s not the only lame excuse being used around here,’ retorted Riku,’ what about all those times you said that you put off telling Liz that you like her because she might not feel the same way?”
“That was totally different!” Said Aqua indignantly.
“Oh, was it really?” said Riku sarcastically.
“Okay, now you’re just being a--” Aqua broke off mid sentence as Meg strolled past him, and Riku lost his train of thought as he gazed after her.
“Hey,’ said Meg quietly as she stood beside Tamara,’ can I have a word with you?”
“Sure.” Said Tamara, grabbing Liz’s wrist and dragging her along as they walked over to a more private corner of the ruined coliseum.
“Look,’ said Meg assuring,’ I just want you to know that your friends aren’t my type.”
Liz gave Meg an odd look, and Tamara’s mind began singing in happiness.
“You both look relieved,’ said Meg as she glanced at the euphoric look on Liz’s face.
“I am…” sighed Tamara breathlessly.
“Oh, hey,’ said Meg,’ why is Sora’s pocket glowing?”
“What?” muttered Tamara as she and Liz turned and saw the pocket of Sora’s shorts glowing white and gold.
“Hey, Sora,’ called Liz,’ check your pockets!”
Sora gave her an odd look, then glanced at his pockets and realized what she was talking about. He pulled the glowing Olympus stone from his pocket and watched it float out of his hand and into the air. There was a bright flash of white as Sora was flown out of reality and the keyhole appeared in front of him, and with a twirl of his keyblade he sent a jet of white light straight towards it. There was a soft click and the ruins of the Coliseum swam back into view, all the colours suddenly brighter than before.
“Umm, what’s that?” said Hercules, pointing to the little balls of light that had appeared hovering over the two girls.
“Oh, that?” said Liz, eyeing off the little ball,’ We’re still not sure.”
Right on cue, the ball of light dropped and sunk into her chest, but instead of segmented visions and sounds, a clear picture appeared in her mind.
She was lying on a beach. Waves crashed into the white sand as the sun shone brightly in the sky. There was a boy lying next to her, his face turned away from her. He seemed so… familiar, but she just couldn’t place him.
Abruptly, the vision faded, and Liz opened her eyes to find herself staring at the sky, her head resting on something soft. With a sneaking suspicion of what the ‘soft thing’ was, she sat up and whirled around, coming face to face with Aqua. Aqua threw his hands up in a gesture of surrender.
“Before you kill me,’ he said quickly,’ I’m just going to point out that it was you who fainted, and that it was you who fell on me.”
Liz groaned, half exasperation, half exaggeration, and pulled herself out of Aqua’s lap.
“Mark my words,’ she said as she extended a helping hand towards Aqua,’ the next time I faint, I will remain standing!”
“Right.” Said Aqua slowly, grinning slightly.
On the other side of the Coliseum, Tamara had woken up to Riku nervously leaning over her. As soon as she shakily sat up he hugged her, and Tamara was unsure how to react.
“I’m so sorry,’ the words gushed from Riku’s mouth like a river,’ I know you don’t have to forgive me for this but I didn’t mean to lose my temper. I was just so upset, and I--” Riku would have continued but Tama put a finger to his lips. He froze, unsure of what to do next.
“I forgive you,’ Tamara sighed,’ but try and not make this a habit, or else I might change my mind” She finished playfully.
Riku smiled warmly. He cast a quick glance to make sure that no-one was watching, and then swiftly kissed her cheek. Tama blushed before quickly scrambling to her feet and walking over to the rest of the group.
“We should, probably head to the Gummi ship,’ She said as she reached them.
“I guess we should probably get going now,’ said Sora reluctantly.
Goodbyes were exchanged and the group began the walk back to the Gummi ship. As soon as Liz had finished her waving, she turned back around and sidled close to Tamara.
“So, did you forgive him?” Liz asked her friend. Tamara looked distant, and her voice had a sad ring to it when she answered.
Yeah, I did, but if he does it again, well, I just won’t forgive him. You know, three strikes and he’s out, and sadly he’s already up to two.”
Liz looked at her friend, admiring how forgiving she could be.
“Don’t worry, it will all work out.” Tama smiled as they boarded the ship, heading off to a new world.