Riku woke up on hot sand. He quickly picked himself up and brushed off before looking around for Rainbow Dash. The pegasus was stuck in the sand, half of her body beneath the golden dunes. Riku jogged over to her and tugged on her hoof to get her out, sand shifting around them.
As Rainbow Dash brushed off, she asked, "Where are we?"
"I'm not sure," said Riku, looking around. All he could see for miles around was sand and a cloudless, blue sky. The sun was beating down on the sand, making it extremely hot to the point where Rainbow Dash preferred to hover instead of stand. "I guess we should just head in one direction until we find civilization."
With that, Riku activated his keyblade armor and summoned his vehicle. He jumped on and began flying off, followed by Rainbow Dash.
It was late at night and freezing when a landmark appeared. It was something that was easily recognizable to Riku; the Cave of Wonders in Agrabah.
Author's Note: It is very important to know that Agrabah (with the exception of the cave of wonders) follows the look and layout of the first game, not the second.
The entrance was a massive lion's head that opened its mouth to allow entrance to the cave via its 'throat'. Riku landed and deactivated his armor as Rainbow Dash touched down. The sand had cooled by now, so she wouldn't get burned.
"What is this place?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"The Cave of Wonders," said Riku. "We're in a world called Agrabah. I came here once when I was being tricked by Malificient." Riku's voice turned to one of regret. "She tricked me into gathering the seven princesses of pure light. At least, the ones that she hadn't already obtained."
Rainbow Dash looked at Riku with a slight amount of fear before dismissing it and saying, "Aw, forget what happened in the past. Live in the now. Come on. Maybe you'll recognize someone that can help us."
"Yeah," said Riku, coming out of his trance-like state. "Let's head inside. But remember, don't touch anything. The slightest disturbance to the treasure inside will cause the entire cave to collapse on us." Rainbow Dash nodded and the two hopped into the lion's mouth.
Inside, the two warriors of light had to shield their eyes until they were used to the intense gleam of the cave's treasures. Gold was piled in every corner and many different golden plates, pots, pans, and other house hold items were strewn about. Thousands of multicolored jewels were mixed in with the gold that continued through the halls of the cave and the massive rooms connected to them.
"Remember, don't touch anything," said Riku. "No matter how tempting it might be, we can't risk it." Rainbow Dash gulped and nodded before slowly proceeding with Riku.
As they made their way through the extensive halls of the cave, each lined with torches and more gold, they began to hear noises farther in. "Stop, Rainbow. Do you hear that?" asked Riku. It sounded like someone going through the treasure farther down the hall.
"Yeah," the cyan pegasus replied. "But if someone disturbs the treasure, won't the cave collapse?!"
"Now, I'm not so sure," said Riku. If that were the case, then the cave would've come down already. "Come on. Let's check it out."
Riku and Rainbow Dash began running down the hall trying to get to the source of the noise. Finally, they arrived at a massive treasure room. It was easily 300 yards to the center of the room from the edge and columns were positioned on the edges to provide support for the high roof along with arches nearby. Evenly spaced along the walls were four platforms, each with a small treasure chest on them. Above each treasure chest, an arch with a different colored gem was present; one red, one blue, one yellow, and one green.
"So where did that noise come from?" asked Rainbow Dash as she looked on at the amazing, though lifeless, room.
"I don't know," he said. "Come on. Let's take a look around." Riku and Rainbow Dash proceeded to split up and check every wall in the room, hoping to find something out of place such as an odd brick or an arch that looked more like a doorway. Riku managed to find one such brick.
"Rainbow Dash, over here," he said, motioning for her to come to him. She flew across the room and landed next to him to examine the wall. Sure enough, a brick was sticking out about a centimeter from the wall. Riku wouldn't have noticed it had it not been for the heartless symbol engraved in the sandstone.
"Isn't that the mark that's on the heartless?" asked Rainbow Dash as she stared at the symbol.
"Yeah. But what's it doing here?"
Rainbow Dash kept thinking until she got an idea. "Step back," she said. After Riku moved, Rainbow stepped up to the brick and pushed it in with her hoof. It clicked into place and the wall began to shudder. A rectangular section of bricks suddenly retracted into the wall and then sunk into the floor, revealing a secret passageway lined with torches.
Riku marveled at the discovery. "Rainbow Dash, where did you learn to do that?" he asked.
"Read it in the third 'Daring Do' book," she said proudly.
"Well I'll be..."
"What?" asked Rainbow as she focused on Riku again.
"Nothing. I just never took you to be the reading type," he admitted.
Rainbow blushed a little bit as she said, "Look, the only books I read are the Daring Do books. Just don't mention it to anyone else, okay?"
"My lips are sealed," chuckled Riku as he turned his attention back to the opening.
Riku and Rainbow Dash started walking down the secret passage and decided to talk to pass the time. "So, Riku," began Rainbow Dash, "what happened to you before with that 'Maleficent person you mentioned? You know, if it's okay to ask."
"It's fine," said Riku. "It's a long story, but I guess we've got a while."
"It used to be just Sora, Kairi and I, along with a few other friends, on our island. It was great. Everyday, we'd spend our time out on the beach. Sora and I were always fighting over Kairi." He chuckled to himself. "One day, we decided to get off of the island. We wanted out. We wanted to see other worlds."
"We decided to build a raft to sail off of the island with. Of course, we didn't know that we couldn't reach other worlds that way. We were young and naive. We succeeded though, and we built the best raft we could."
"But the night before we were going to leave, a storm struck the island. I left my house to check on the raft and when I showed up on the island, it was covered in heartless. I made my way to one of the smaller islands nearby where I found a portal of darkness. I wasn't scared. I was willing to do anything to see other worlds, and I was beginning to question our use of a raft."
"Right after I discovered the portal, Sora showed up and I asked him and Kairi to come with me. Kairi wasn't with him, but I was willing to bet that she would make it. She's strong like that."
"Anyway, when the darkness surrounded me, I let it take me, but Sora couldn't reach me. We got separated, and I woke up in Hollow Bastion."
"Hollow Bastion," said Rainbow Dash. "Never heard of it."
"That's not surprising. The worlds used to be separated by impassible walls. That is, until the heartless came and destroyed them."
"Back to the story. When I woke, I was greeted by a woman named Maleficent. She told me about the heartless and other worlds, and promised to help me. She also told me where I might find Kairi."
"And that was?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"Traverse Town," said Riku. "When I arrived, I ran into Sora. He had his keyblade and was with two others; Donald and Goofy. He told me of how he had searched for Kairi and I, but when I was going to join him, Maleficent pulled me aside and tricked me into thinking that Sora had just replaced Kairi and I with his two new friends. I was stupid and fell for it."
"She took me back to Hallow Bastion and told me about the seven princesses of light. She said she had already found five of them and asked me to get the other two. In return, she would have the heartless locate Kairi. I was desperate to find her, so I fell for it."
Rainbow Dash was starting to question her trust of Riku. But she kept listening through the story.
"After I got the two princesses, I ran into Sora again in the body of a giant whale named Monstro. That's when Sora stopped trusting me." Rainbow Dash turned away and hung her head, thinking about what could've happened between the best of friends to split them so suddenly. She soon got her answer.
"When Maleficent located Kairi, she had lost her heart and I had no idea how to help. Then, she mentioned a puppet who had one. She said I should check it out and see if I could discover a way to recover Kairi's heart. So when I arrived, I started playing with the puppet, trying to find a way to unlock the secrets of his heart. Unfortunately, he lost it to the heartless. I thought that maybe if I brought him back to Maleficent, she could help and maybe do some tests on him. He recovered it though on his own shortly after, so I left the whale and traveled back to Hallow Bastion."
"I was then offered a ride on Captain Hook's pirate ship to help me find a way to help Kairi. I decided that Sora didn't really care about Kairi, so I vowed to keep her from him. He eventually arrived on the ship and he defeated the Captain. I left with Kairi back to Hallow Bastion, where Maleficent gave me the power to control the heartless. It was then that I started slipping, falling gradually into the darkness and losing my heart."
"Naturally, Sora arrived at the castle, and I managed to take the keyblade from him. He got it back though, and I fought him, only to lose. When I got back to the castle chapel, the disembodied heart of Xehanort tricked me and seized my heart. I couldn't find the light, but when I came to, I could see what was happening, but I had no control. He was using my body. I managed to hold him back long enough for Sora, Donald, Goofy and Kairi to escape, but then, I blacked out. I woke up later in the realm of darkness and King Mickey found me."
"And that's what happened. For the past few years, I've been working hard to defeat the darkness in my heart, and I finally won." There was a slight pause as Riku and Rainbow Dash kept walking. "I bet you think I'm a terrible person now, right?"
"What? No way!" said Rainbow. "Just because you made some mistakes doesn't mean you're a bad person. Besides, you said Maleficent tricked you, so it's all good."
Riku smiled. "Thanks Rainbow Dash."
"Don't mention it," said the cyan Pegasus nonchalantly.
As the two neared what seemed to be the end of the passage, they began to hear running water. When they got to the end, Rainbow Dash pushed in another brick, this time with the symbol of a Nightmare, though she didn't recognize it as such.
When she did, the passage began to shake uncontrollably as the wall opened and revealed a massive hallway. This time though, pieces of the roof began to fall, blocking off Riku and Rainbow's exit. The shaking wouldn't stop.
"Um, Rainbow Dash," began Riku, "what did that book say came next?"
"Running! Lots of running!" she yelled back frantically. The two began running down the newly opened hall, not looking back as they fled for their lives.
Finally, the path looked like it was ending into a bright room. Water was now running around the two as the passage continued to collapse. By the time they reached the end, the water was waist high to Riku and up to Rainbow's neck.
The passage ended in a massive drop to a pool down below, and Riku jumped while Rainbow Dash flew.
When the passage had finished collapsing, Riku was already surfacing in the pool below. Rainbow Dash flew down to a small patch of 'land' where Riku pulled himself out. They now had a chance to look around the massive room.
The room had several waterfalls coming from carved slots in the walls that all fed down to the pool that Riku had fallen into. The patch of land was actually a section of sandstone brick that had been made into a platform. In the center, a small building with a concrete door prevented access, and the room was lit by hundreds of torches and the light reflecting off of more golden artifacts. Some were underwater, giving the blue liquid a gold tint, while others were piled next to the structure.
"Wow," said Rainbow Dash, realizing that she was now living her own Daring Do adventure. "This is amazing!"
"Yeah. But where did that noise come from? I mean, if they came through here, then they would have activated the trap and we'd have been buried," said Riku.
"True. Let's take another look around," suggested Rainbow.
"Right, but watch out for heartless," said Riku.
The two split up again, running into a few heartless but ultimately handling them with ease. They mostly consisted of darkballs and shadows, with the occasional large body, but it was nothing the two keyblade warriors couldn't handle.
Eventually, Riku began to hear some more shifting sounds of near the structure and made his way there to find a man in white shorts, a purple vest, and a fez. The man turned around, startled at first, but then sighed in relief. "You must be Riku," he said. "Name's Aladdin. You're Sora's friend, right?"
"Uh, yeah," said Riku back uneasily. "But how did you know who I was?"
"You don't look like you're from Agrabah," he answered. "Sora asked me to keep an eye out for you the last time we met, but he never told me what you looked like. I guess I got it right though."
"So what are you doing here, Riku?" asked Aladin.
"I got separated from Sora when I followed- Oh! Have you seen a horse in a brown cloak, possibly carrying a keyblade?"
"Horse with a keyblade? Are you okay Riku..." His voice trailed off as he saw Rainbow Dash come hovering around the corner.
"Riku, no sign of anyone. Oh! So that must be the guy who was messing with the treasure," said Rainbow Dash. She walked up to Aladdin and held out her hoof. "Hi. I'm Rainbow Dash. Nice to meet-" She would have continued had Aladdin not passed out from the shock of seeing a horse talk, let alone a Pegasus. "-you," she finished. "Um, Riku? Is he gonna be okay?"
"Yeah. He'll be fine. Let's get him out of the cave though," said Riku.
Slowly but surely, Rainbow Dash and Riku, who got stuck carrying Aladdin, started working their way through some of the other accessible areas in the cave of wonders until they started traveling upwards instead of straight. They began climbing different flights of stairs and other inclines until they came back to the chamber that had led them to discover the secret passage.
From there, they followed their trail back to the entrance. Outside, Riku and Rainbow Dash found Aladdin's flying carpet, eagerly awaiting its master's return. Riku set Aladdin down on the carpet and said, "Alright. Now we just need to get back to Agrabah."
"Is it far?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"It'll be about ten miles, but it shouldn't take that long to reach."
"Okay. I'm just gonna use my keyblade glider to reach the city," she said. Riku hopped onto the magic carpet to make sure that Aladdin wouldn't fall off, then he and Rainbow Dash flew off towards Agrabah, led by the magic carpet.
After arriving in the city itself, Riku took Aladdin back to his house followed close behind by Rainbow Dash who was acting as an escort, ready to defend Riku and Aladdin should the heartless attack. Riku set him down on the steps and then moved to the massive hole in the wall that would lead to the street below.
"So what should we do?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"Well," began Riku, "we need to find our way back to Sora and the others. He'll know what to do. He always does," he finished with a chuckle.
"How are we gonna find them again?"
"Maybe we can try exploring the worlds ourselves. Besides, that hooded pony... Who was it?" asked Riku, more to himself than to Rainbow Dash.
"Let's figure it out together," said Rainbow, now approaching Riku. She held out her hoof. "As soon as this guy wakes up, we'll go."
Riku took Rainbow Dash's hoof in a shake. "Yeah," he said. At that moment, the 'street rat' began to stir.
"What'd I miss?" asked the now waking Aladdin. He then took notice of Rainbow Dash for the second time. He reflexively backed up and reached for his sword. "What the heck is that?!" he asked Riku in a panic.
"Calm down," Riku ordered, and Aladdin obeyed. "This is Rainbow Dash. She's from another world like Sora and I. If he happens to stop by, let him know I was here, okay?"
Aladdin put down his sword and looked at Riku. "I'm still not so sure about this 'Rainbow Dash', but yeah, I'll tell him. Hey, have you guys seen Genie recently? He hasn't been around Agrabah lately."
"Who's Genie?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"He used to be trapped in a magic lamp until Aladdin found him," said Riku. "He set Genie free and ever since, he's been helping Sora in his journey, occasionally returning back here."
"Oh, then no," said Rainbow Dash to Aladdin. "We haven't run into him. We'll keep an eye out though."
"Thanks," said Aladdin. "Hey, back in the Cave of Wonders, you asked me if I had seen a horse with a keyblade. Before Rainbow Dash came around the corner, I was going to tell you, apart from asking if you were crazy, that I had seen a horse-like figure in the cave. I didn't see any keyblade, but the horse was walking around, poking at the walls and examining some of the treasure. It confused me, but it wasn't a heartless, so I left it alone."
"Did it leave?" asked Riku quickly.
"Well, sort of. It opened up a dark portal and stepped through. I've got no idea where it went though. It just kind of disappeared."
Riku sighed in defeat. "Okay, thanks," he said to Aladdin. "Rainbow Dash, let's go."
"Right," answered the mare. Together, the two activated their keyblade armor and jumped out of the hole in Aladdin's wall, only to fly straight up on their keyblade gliders, opening a portal to leave Agrabah and flying through it. When the portal closed, Aladdin smiled at the thought of seeing Sora again.
Out in space, Riku and Rainbow Dash started flying in a random direction, unsure where to go to find the others. They eventually started coming up on another world. Riku's face darkened slightly under his helmet. "Hollow Bastion," he whispered over the com.