• Published 18th Apr 2013
  • 6,193 Views, 212 Comments

Kingdom Hearts: Friendship is Magic - Mudkipman98



The final battle between Sora and Xehanort was a failure. Sora is on his last legs and his friends have all been captured. When he refuses to help Xehanort, he is sent into darkness. What he finds on the other side surprises him above all else.

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Olympus Colosseum (part 2)

Author's note: To skip to the author's note section below when you see cues like (1) or (2), press F3 on your keyboards and type in (1) or (2). That will take you directly to the authors note section spoiler free. Enjoy. :)

"Wake up! We're gonna be late!"

Sora struggled to open his eyes as Donald yelled at everyone to wake up. Slowly, he propped himself up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. When Donald's words finally finished processing in his brain, Sora's eyes snapped wide open and he leapt from his bed before falling flat on his face. When he looked back, he realized his foot had been caught in his sheets. He pulled himself up with a groan as he heard Riku speak from his bed.

"We're not going to be late, Donald," he said as he laughed inwardly at Sora's expense. "The tournament won't start until all of the participants are ready.

"Well, the sooner we leave the better!" shouted Donald in an attempt to cover up his mistake.

"What's going on in here?" asked Twilight groggily as she stepped through the nearby door to the ponies’ rooms. "Why are you shouting, Donald?"

The duck simply shook his head in defeat and walked back to the cockpit to wait for everyone else with Goofy.

As Sora picked himself up, Twilight approached him and asked, "Does he usually wake you up like this?"

"Yeah," said Sora as he put on his shoes. "Though, in his defense, I always did oversleep a little."

After about half an hour had passed, everyone had gotten up, gotten ready, and were waiting to be teleported down from the gummi ship. Sora approached the console and set up the teleport before pressing the purple button and joining the others to be beamed down. After that, it was only a matter of going through the portal to the Underworld and awaiting the start of the tournament.

"The competitors are already here," spoke the annoyed voice of Pain. "Why are you all so late?"

"I told you we should've left sooner," said Donald.

"We got stuck," said Pinkie Pie nervously.

"In, uh, traffic!" chuckled Rainbow Dash nervously. "Stuck in traffic. You know those souls of the dead. Slower than molasses in January."

Panic raised an eyebrow questioningly before moving on. "Whatever. Everyone on the boat. We'll take you over to the colosseum."

"Do we have to do this?" asked Fluttershy. "That place looks really scary."

"It'll be fine, Fluttershy," said Sora. "We've been there plenty of times to compete. Trust me. No one is going to get hurt." Sora watched a smile of relief come from Fluttershy before everyone boarded the ship. As soon as they were on, Pain and Panic joined them and started rowing for the shore.

As they approached the lit up colosseum, Pain said, "When we get there, I'll hand you all numbers. Go through the door that matches your number and wait for further instructions."

Once the boat had arrived, Pain passed out the numbers and directed everyone to their corresponding gates. "There's a screen inside that will display the matches to you as they happen. Wait until you're called to enter the arena."

"Screens?" asked Donald.

"Yeah," added Applejack. "I thought this world hadn't discovered technology yet."

"We just call them 'screens' because they only show us the matches. They 'screen' out everything else."

"Oh," came the collective sigh of understanding from the group.

"Enter your gates and be patient. The first match will start soon," said Pain. Obeying the red demon, the others moved to their designated gates and entered through black curtains to what resembled a waiting area. In each room, there was a bench with a rock-boarded screen on the opposite wall which displayed the arena that they would all be competing in. It provided a perfect view of the arena as a whole, including the torches at its edge.

In gate number one, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku took their seats on the bench, curious to see who would be first in the ring. After a minute of silent anticipation, the voice of a man who sounded completely burned at his job for the past week filled the room from an unseen speaker, announcing, "Groups one and four, please enter the arena." Sora took another look at his gate number, which was a calligraphic 1.

"That was fast," said Sora. "We must be the first to compete."

"But who's our opponent?" asked Riku. Leaving the soon-to-be-answered question hanging in the room, the team of four moved through their other door and into the arena.

"I guess they do have some technology," said Goofy. "It sounded like that voice come out of a speaker."

Before stepping onto the platform, Sora turned to his friends. "Why don't we start out with Donald, Riku and I?" he asked. "We'll focus more on magic for the first match. Goofy, stay on the sidelines. I'll let you know if we need you."

"Alrighty then," said Goofy as he stepped back a few feet. Sora and his team proceeded onto the platform to await the arrival of their opponent. After a few seconds, the door to gate four swung open. A large amount of smoke poured out of as a humanoid shape moved through it like a ghost.

"Hey! Why didn't we get smoke?" asked Donald, annoyed that they'd been denied such a 'cool' entrance.

When their combatant emerged, the team's jaws dropped. "Cloud?!" they exclaimed as they stared at the Ex-Soldier who stepped onto the arena platform.

"Donald, Goofy," he greeted to the new additions of Sora's group.

"What are you doing here?" asked Sora in disbelief. "I thought you were busy setting up a defense system for Traverse Town."

"We were," said Cloud. "That is, until this girl showed up and set up a barrier around the First District. We didn't know who she was, but she managed to block one of my strongest swings with it as a test. I'd say she passed."

"We?" asked Riku. "Who else came?"

"Leon, Tifa, Yuffie, and Cid. They came to compete too. Like I said, this girl's barrier is incredible, especially if it could block one of my powered swings."

"Well, I guess if you're our opponent," began Sora. He summoned his keyblade and dropped into a combat stance as he added, "then I guess you've got yourself a challenge." Riku and Donald followed suit as Cloud drew his sword off his back, preparing as well.

Tension hung like a fog in the stadium as the two faced each other down. Before long, the same glazed voice of the announcer came over the speakers. "Begin. Or, something."

Cloud was the first to move, opting to charge at Sora and his team with a crushing vertical swing from above. Sora and Riku dodged one way while Donald cast reflect, protecting himself and bouncing the damage back at Cloud who jumped back to avoid it.

Sora and Riku ran at Cloud, being careful to dodge his swings as they attempted to unleash combos against him. Every time, however, Cloud either dodged or guarded each swing and returned with an even greater one, making it difficult for Sora or Riku to land a hit without suffering for it. Meanwhile, Donald stood away from them and continued to supply Sora and Riku with Aeroga spells to protect them in case they got hit.

After a few minutes without gaining ground, Sora and Riku retreated and partnered with Donald to unleash a flurry of magic spells at Cloud with Sora casting Thunder, Riku casting Fire, and Donald casting the more shotgun-like version of Blizzard. With this tri-attack of magic, Cloud eventually lost his strength to guard and was tortured by the team's magic for nearly a minute nonstop. When their magic subsided, Cloud healed with a high potion before lifting off the ground to begin his Omni-slash attack.

Knowing they couldn't dodge it, Sora and Donald began casting reflect spells in an attempt to escape the incredible power of Cloud's limit break. Riku, however, had never fought him, so he did his best to dodge the strikes but ultimately ended up with a few attacks hitting their mark.

After the attack finished, Sora cast Cura to heal everyone before calling on Donald for help. "Donald, with me!" As Sora started gathering his light, Donald turned into a bluish light before merging with Sora. Sora lifted of the ground and watched as the hexagonal barrier formed around him. A second later, it exploded away to reveal the deep blue clothes of his Wisdom Form.

Armed with much more powerful magic (and a full restock of the stuff), he began firing higher powered magic pellets at the expense of a little bit of magic, each homing in on Cloud before impacting and breaking through his guard. While Cloud was stunned, Sora slid over to him and smacked him a few times with his magic charged keyblade before leaping away and casting Thundaga, raining pain on Cloud as was struck repeatedly.

After Sora retreated again, he turned to Riku. "Why don't you join us?" he said he held out his free hand to his friend. Riku smiled and took it, transforming into pure light before diffusing into Sora to transform him into his Final Form, granting him Riku's keyblade as his second.

With his entire arsenal overclocked, Sora rocketed towards the still recovering Cloud and attacked him relentlessly with his two keyblades, knocking him into the air and unleashing a storm of attacks on him while he was defenseless. This continued for only a short time before Cloud took a desperate swing and knocked Sora away, giving him time to touch down and heal with an elixir.

Not stalling a moment, Sora began his barrage of ranged attacks with his keyblades, commanding them to fly at Cloud and strike him from every direction. All Cloud could do was block as many strikes as possible before the impossibly fast blades caught up with him and knocked him into the air again.

"Is that the best you can do, Cloud?" taunted Sora as his keyblades continued their assault.

"Not even remotely," said Cloud. His speed began to gradually increase as he blocked more and more of Sora's keyblades' attacks. Finally, he got to the point where he could block them all.

"How is he moving that fast?" asked Riku in astonishment as he saw through Sora's eyes the blinding speed at which Cloud guarded while still hanging in the air.

"I have no idea," said Sora, noticing that his speech nearly failed him. Before long, Cloud was nearly touching the top of the Underdrome, still rising as he continued to guard. When he reached its peak, he swung against one of the keyblades, stopping it in midair and allowing him to grab it with one of his hands. He used it to halt the other and hook his sword to his back before grabbing the second one as well. Twirling them above his head, he spun in midair and threw the keyblades straight down at Sora like bullets. Sora quickly jumped out of the way to avoid his keyblades-turned-projectiles before retrieving them from their position stuck in the floor. As soon as he dislodged the second one, he saw Cloud land in front of him, pull back his arms, and swing his buster sword hard, cutting Sora across the chest and throwing him across the arena.

As Sora picked himself up, he cast Curaga on himself and stared Cloud down. "That was pretty cool," he said.

"Thanks," responded Cloud with a small smile. "If you liked that, you'll love this." Cloud's sword suddenly began glowing blue as he began jabbing at Sora like a living spear, executing his Sonic Blade skill. Sora did his best to guard or dodge the attacks, but he was met with failure several times as Cloud's attacks connected.

After a couple of Sonic Blades, Sora stopped dodging and sent his keyblades to either side of Cloud. He took both the hits, though, and continued his attack, scoring hit after hit against Sora. As Sora was pushed to the edge, Riku's keyblade suddenly leaped at Cloud and struck his sword, sending it into the ground and lodging it there.

Before Cloud could fully dislodge it, Sora regained his balance, grabbed his keyblade, and swung at Cloud hard, knocking both him and his sword towards the opposite end of the arena. As Cloud recovered, he sneered and used another elixir, fully recovering his strength.

"This is pointless if he keeps using items like this," came Riku's voice from inside Sora's head. "We need to find some way to cut off his supply."

"I'll get right on that," came Donald's voice deviously.

"I'll try to avoid his attacks, then," said Sora. "We need to stay linked as long as possible."

As Sora made an effort to dodge and counter Cloud's attacks, Twilight watched in awe from her waiting room. She was fascinated at the fluidity of Sora's movements and the coordination that he had with his team. After all, they'd been separated for a while now and already it was as if Donald had never left his side. Had she seen their transformations in the past, she would've noticed an impressively long time to stay linked during combat.

After a few minutes of constant dodging and countering, Sora began to tire. "How's that plan going, Donald?" he asked aloud in desperation.

"I got it," said Donald back. "We either have to drain his strength and force him to use up all of his items, or we have to find a way to take them from him. I bet if we use Stopza on him, we can just pick-pocket him."

Sora back flipped high into the air and threw his keyblades at Cloud, knocking away his sword to allow him to come back down and kick him before commanding his blades back to him and retreating. "I don't know," said Sora. "That seems kind of underhanded."

"I wish we didn't have to," said Riku, "but I think it's our best bet of ending the fight quickly."

"*sigh* If you say so," said Sora apprehensively. He suddenly stopped retreating and held up his keyblades in defense against Cloud. When their blades clashed, Sora threw Riku's keyblade behind him and commanded it to strike Cloud in the back while he continued guarding with his own. "Which are you gonna guard?" asked Sora, hoping Cloud would take the bait.

He silently thanked whatever god was watching as Cloud grunted in frustration and turned away to protect himself. As soon as he did, Sora called out, "Stopza!" and froze time. He left his keyblade hanging suspended in midair as he touched down and approached Cloud. "Sorry about this," he said as if the Ex-Soldier could hear him. "I promise I'll give them back."

Sora dug through Cloud's pockets until he found what he was looking for; ten elixirs all primed and ready to be used on a moment's notice. "This could have gone on ages if we didn't pick them up now," said Riku as Sora removed them and stashed them in his inventory.

"Yeah," replied Sora. He stepped back into place and continued hovering before commanding "Stopza," again to 'restart' time. Cloud was still in position to guard, but he couldn't protect himself from Sora's swing at him.

As Riku's keyblade made contact with the buster sword, Sora's keyblade impacted hard against Cloud's back, knocking him forward onto the floor. Sora gave him a second to stand back up, much against the advice of Donald as he released his drive form. As Donald and Riku reappeared, Cloud said, "That was useless. I'll just heal with my-"

He suddenly stopped when he dug into his pocket and realized it was empty. "My, uh," he stammered as he stuck his sword into the floor to check the other pockets. "Where'd they go?!"

"Looking for these?" teased Sora as he swung the stolen elixirs on a string by his side. That earned a glare from Cloud who pulled out his sword and charged at the team. Sora rushed forward to meet him, jumped in the air and spun before bringing his keyblade down on his weakened foe, stopping him in his tracks and ending the fight.

While Cloud struggled to stand again, Sora used one of Cloud's elixirs to heal him before tossing them back. "That was a little bit cheap, don't you think?" asked Cloud.

"Yeah, sorry about that," apologized Sora. He tossed a mega-elixir above his head to heal his team before shaking Cloud's hand. "You did great."

"So did you," responded Cloud before hooking his sword to his back and turning to walk back to his gate.

"Sora's team is the victor. Team one, please return to your gate to await your next match," came the bored voice of the announcer. Sora and his team obeyed and returned to their room where they took a seat on the bench and faced the screen.

While a short break was allowed for the the teams before the next match, Sora's communication headset materialized on his head before he heard static immediately followed by Fluttershy's voice.

"Sora?" she asked. "Can you hear me?"

Sora put a hand up to his ear to secure the headset and put the call on speaker before responding. "Loud and clear. What's up?"

"I don't feel right, Sora," she said worriedly. "I know I don't want to fight, but I'm starting to want to. What's going on?"

"You're fine," said Sora back. "You're just getting excited. That's all."

"I guess I have wanted to show my friends that I can fight," she answered apprehensively.

"But you showed us back in Traverse Town, remember?"

"I guess, but I got hurt and scared all of you. I want to prove that I'm not just a burden, but I don't think fighting is the way to do it."

"It's not that you're fighting. It's what you're fighting for that matters. Find a reason to fight, and you'll be fine," reassured Sora.

"Okay," she said back. "I'll try. Thanks, Sora," she finished with a renewed sense of purpose.

"Don't mention it," he said back before dismissing the headset.

"That's weird," said Riku. "Fluttershy is excited about fighting? I thought she hated conflict."

"I might have had something to do with that, too," said Sora as he put his hands behind his head in relaxation.

"What're you talking about?" asked Donald.

"Before we all ate, I slipped some High Drive Recovery into their food. I thought it might help them get over fighting each other and give them more energy."

"You drugged them?!" asked Riku in shock. "I mean, I don't think that Drive Recovery could really be a drug, but still. Why?"

"Like I just said," said Sora in his defense, "I didn't want the fact that they could hurt each other to distract them from really giving it their all."

"But what if they take it too far?" asked Riku. "Rainbow Dash and Applejack already seem competitive enough. What's gonna happen to them?"

"I didn't say I 'drugged' all of them," said Sora. "I only used the High Drive Recovery on Fluttershy, Twilight, and Rarity. They're the only ones that needed the encouragement."

"There is something seriously wrong with you," said Riku, almost sounding serious.

"Let's just watch," responded Sora lightheartedly. "The next match is going to start soon."

The intercom crackled to life as the announcer said, "Fighters 7 and 9, please enter the arena." All waited patiently to see who would emerge from their gates. As the two doors opened, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were the two to step out.

"This is gonna be good," said Riku. "The out of control party animal versus the shy and reserved."

"A battle of the opposites," said Sora. "But who's gonna come out on top?"

As the two friends entered the arena, Fluttershy was the first to speak. "Pinkie Pie?" she asked as if she couldn't believe who she was supposed to fight.

"Yes sirree bob!" responded the pink pony. "Who did you think I was?"

"But, that can't be right," said Fluttershy to herself. "I don't want to fight you."

"Neither do I," said Pinkie excitedly. "Fighting me would be a drag. Don't worry, though. I'll go easy on you," she finished as she summoned her keyblade.

Fluttershy turned away and looked to where she thought the voice was coming from. "Um, Mr. Announcer? Do we have to fight?"

"Why did you sign up for the tournament separately? Didn't you realize that you might end up fighting each other?" said the announcer. Twilight sat in her room watching the scene unfold as she too suddenly picked up on what was going on. That dirty-! Sora had set them all up to fight each other! That was why he'd made them sign up individually. She was nearly too distracted by her train of thought to watch what was going on in the arena.

Fluttershy was shaking as she turned to face Pinkie Pie. She gulped once before her headset suddenly materialized on her head. Her ears were suddenly filled the voices of her friends. Even Pinkie Pie had equipped hers and was talking. They all said, "You can do it, Fluttershy!" or "I believe in you!"

Their words moved her to tears as a solitary drop ran down her cheek. She smiled as she said back, "Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much." She dismissed her headset as she focused back on Pinkie. She summoned her keyblade and held it to her side as she crouched slightly into a combat stance. "I'm ready now. And I won't hold back," she said with courage in her voice.

"Then neither will I!" said Pinkie with just as much enthusiasm. "Get ready!"

The battle between combatants number 7 and 9 will begin... now!" said a much more energetic announcer over the intercom. "Don't hold anything back, and give it your all!"

Fluttershy began by casting a strange cure spell on herself. The flower that bloomed over her fell and covered her body before exploding away to reveal a ghostly green glow around the yellow pegasus.

"A regeneration spell," commented Sora to his team. "That's gonna keep her going for a while."

"Already, she's taking the least violent approach," said Riku. "That's something to admire."

"Yeah," agreed Sora.

On the battlefield, Pinkie Pie pointed her keyblade at Fluttershy and shouted "Fire!" launching a ball of flame at Fluttershy who blocked with her keyblade before running at her pink friend and swinging her keyblade. Pinkie easily guarded it, but didn't expect the follow-up swings by Fluttershy, catching her off guard and inflicting some decent damage.

As Pinkie Pie stumbled to recover, Fluttershy took the opportunity to get in a few extra swings. She then jumped back to give her friend a chance to stand back up.

"You should have kept hitting me while I was down," said Pinkie Pie. "If you had, you might have been able to stop this!” Pinkie Pie suddenly pulled her party cannon out of nowhere, loaded her keyblade in the barrel, and fired it at Fluttershy. When she held up her keyblade in defense, Pinkie's keyblade knocked it aside. While Fluttershy was open, Pinkie summoned her keyblade back to her hoof and knocked Fluttershy to the ground before casting Thunder on her.

Fluttershy winced slightly as she crackled with static. Standing back up, she healed herself with Cure before taking a couple more cautious swings at Pinkie Pie who guarded them effortlessly and countered without hesitation. Fluttershy did her best to guard the counterattack, but a few swings hit her inevitably and they stung her like an angry wasp.

The battle continued on this way for a little while, each pony trading jabs and swings with their keyblades in an attempt to wear the other down. Pretty soon though, Pinkie Pie became more aggressive and she began to partner her attacks with bursts of Fire or Blizzard spells. That staggered her attack pattern and helped to keep Fluttershy from guessing her moves.

Fluttershy, on the other hand, began to take more of an assertive fighting style, taking more risks with her attacks in favor of time and power. A few of these 'stronger' swings connected and inflicted some strong damage on her friend, for which she apologized each time.

Eventually, Pinkie turned completely to a magic based fighting style, using as many Thunder and Blizzard spells as she could. Fluttershy could do little to protect herself, but slowly, she began to develop a Reflect spell to save herself from most of the damage. When she finally accomplished a complete one, the bolt of lightning Pinkie had summoned bounced off of her shield and shot straight at the party pony, knocking her back and leaving her stunned.

"So now Fluttershy can perform the Reflect spell," said Riku to himself. "She's developing a lot faster than I expected."

Taking this opportunity, Fluttershy flew into the sky and dove straight for her friend, silently praying to Celestia that she didn't hurt her too much. She made a strong impact on Pinkie Pie, jabbing her in the stomach and forcing the air from her lungs as she lay on the ground. Fluttershy immediately withdrew and gave Pinkie another chance to stand.

"Why do you keep doing that?" rasped Pinkie as she stood and tried to fill her lungs with air. "You wouldn't do that to the heartless, would you?"

"Maybe to them," said Fluttershy calmly, "but not you. Even if we are fighting, I want it to be a clean and fair one, not a battle of tricks and sneaky moves."

"That's pretty honorable, Fluttershy," said Pinkie as she finished recovering. "But honor isn't going to help you beat me!" Pinkie screamed the last sentence as darkness erupted around her. Her colors darkened and her eyes turned a golden hue as she charged Fluttershy.

The yellow pegasus immediately held up her keyblade in defense and fear, only to have it knocked away before she was bombarded with blow after crushing blow. As Fluttershy sustained a heavy beating from the now 'transformed' Pinkie Pie, Sora shot up from his bench in their room. "What's she doing?!" he yelled.

"That's a lot of darkness," said Riku. "Way more than anyone should have, especially at her level." Darkness continued pouring out of Pinkie Pie as if she'd been split down the middle, the black energy spreading into the air. "We have to find some way to stop it."

"Just how bad is it?" asked Goofy.

"While I was in the dark realm, I got a good sense for detecting high levels of darkness. Pinkie Pie is putting out more darkness than any kind of entity I've seen before, maybe even more than Xehanort." Sora looked down to his friend whose fists were clenched and shaking. "We need to stop them. Now."

"But what can we do from here?" asked Sora in desperation. "The doors automatically seal. There's no way to get to them!"

As Sora desperately racked his brain for a solution, his headset materialized around his head. "Roxas," came Twilight's voice over the com. "Use Roxas. He isn't competing, so he can't be disqualified if it's against the rules for us to help."

"That's brilliant," said Riku. "Sora, I'm sorry."

"Sorry for wha-" Sora couldn't finish his sentence before Riku's keyblade impacted him hard, sending him careening across the small room and into the wall.

As he lost consciousness, the ethereal form of Roxas materialized in the room as he was freed from Sora. Before he could fully appear, Riku reached forward, grabbed him by the front of his cloak with his concentrated light, causing Roxas' eyes to snap open in surprise, and spun, throwing him through the door to the other side. His cloak had materialized enough to be caught on the door while Roxas went tumbling through to crash on the other side. Underneath his cloak, he still wore his clothes from Twilight town, and his two keyblades had appeared next to him.

As he struggled to stand up, he could make out what looked like Pinkie Pie smacking around Fluttershy like a rag doll. (1) "Not good," he said as he stood up and grabbed his keyblades. In a matter of seconds, he was on the field, jumping toward Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie to intercept Pinkie's attacks.

"Hey!" came the announcer's voice. "You're not supposed to interfere with the match!"

Right as Pinkie Pie's now darkness-charged keyblade was about to strike Fluttershy, Roxas used his Oblivion keyblade to stop the attack while he cast Cure on Fluttershy with the Oathkeeper. He immediately followed up with Zero Gravity to keep Fluttershy levitating so she could recover before bringing around the Oathkeeper to knock Pinkie Pie away from them.

As Roxas released Fluttershy, they both touched down on the far side of the arena away from the darkness-possessed Pinkie Pie. Roxas tossed an elixir back to Fluttershy, healing her as she stood up. "You okay?" he asked the weakened pegasus.

"I think so," she said. When she finally got a good look at Pinkie Pie, she gasped. "What's happening to her?!"

"I don't know," said Roxas as he thought. "Those eyes, though..." As he looked into the eyes of Pinkie, he immediately recognized the gold color. "Xehanort."

"Who's Xehanort?" asked the deranged Pinkie in a distorted voice. "I'm Pinkie Pie, remember?"

"But how does that work?" asked Roxas. "He can't be here. If he's still in the dark realm, then there's no way he could be here, much less a piece of his heart. Unless something happened to the others."

"What are you talking about?" asked Fluttershy.

"I'll explain later. Or Sora will. For now, we need to save your friend." He looked at Pinkie Pie with a focused stair. "She's being controlled by her inner darkness. We need to help her find her light again."

"But how will we do that?" asked Fluttershy sheepishly. "And how do you know what's going on?" she asked, her voice now more desperate for understanding.

"I have no idea," said Roxas, completely ignoring the last question. "She's your friend, right? Try talking to her." As Roxas finished speaking, Pinkie Pie charged at them, swinging her keyblade rapidly from side to side. Roxas used his dual keyblades to defend Fluttershy while she thought of what she could say or do to help her insane friend.

Without thinking, Fluttershy dashed towards Pinkie Pie and swung as hard as she could, knocking her away from Roxas and destroying part of the darkness surrounding her. As Pinkie's body collided with the ground a few yards away, Roxas yelled, "I said talk to her, not knock her upside the head!"

"Oh, sorry," said Fluttershy in embarrassment.

When Roxas looked back to Pinkie Pie, he noticed a significantly smaller amount of darkness surrounding the mare. "Wait a minute..." he said to himself. "You were thinking about what you could say to help her, right?"

"Yes. Why?" asked Fluttershy with a slight tilt of her head.

"That's it!" said Roxas as a realized a solution. "Your heart is in the right place. We have to fight her to help her. Think about how much you want to save your friend. Focus on how much of a friend she is to you, and put that feeling into each swing!"

As Roxas crouched into a combat stance, Fluttershy asked, "But how do you know that will work? And how do I do that?"

"I don't know," he said with a small chuckle as he charged Pinkie. He swung both of his keyblades hard and threw her into the magical barrier around the stadium, cracking it as a little bit more darkness disappeared around Pinkie Pie.

"Oh, I don't like this," said Fluttershy nervously as she moved over to him to help.

Roxas knocked Pinkie into the air as he called behind him to Fluttershy. "Don't let her touch the ground! We have to stop her now!"

"Right," said Fluttershy determinedly. From then on, all Fluttershy and Roxas had to do was 'juggle' Pinkie Pie, doing their best not to let her touch down. The whole time, the abuse that Fluttershy was dealing to her friend plagued her heart. The only thing that allowed her to continue was the thought that she was somehow helping her friend. But even as the darkness continued to break away, she couldn't help but let a few silent tears loose.

After almost five minutes of nonstop 'juggling', Pinkie Pie suddenly righted herself in midair, grabbed her party cannon, and blasted both Roxas and Fluttershy away across the arena. They both went rolling away on the floor before crashing into the arena's magical barrier. Roxas, who had taken most of the blast, quickly jumped up before looking down at himself. "Confetti?" he muttered as he saw a bunch of the colored paper stuck all over him.

"Not just any confetti," said Pinkie Pie grimly as she touched back down on the arena. The pieces of paper suddenly jumped from Roxas' body and began spinning around him at an alarming speed, forming a whirlwind of color. He did his best to track all of the pieces with his eyes until they suddenly stopped rotating and flew at him. In a flurry of color, Roxas was struck endlessly by tiny blades of confetti, tearing him apart as he screamed in pain.

As Roxas endured the constant barrage of attacks, Fluttershy could only lay on the ground and watch, wanting nothing more than to run and hide from her possessed friend and the entire conflict altogether. It took her a minute, but the weight of the situation suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. Here she was, lying helplessly on the arena floor while Roxas, a part of her friend, was being ruthlessly torn apart by Pinkie Pie's confetti of death. And to make matters worse, the darkness surrounding Pinkie Pie was returning, strengthening the confetti to deal more damage.

Fearing for both of her friends' lives, she ignored her previous fear as she picked up her keyblade and summoned a Reflect spell around Roxas, halting the colorful pieces of paper-doom and sending them back at Pinkie who caught them in her party cannon, ready to fire again.

"And what do we have here?" asked Pinkie with a sick tilt of her head. "Are you trying to help your friend?" she said as she aimed the cannon at Fluttershy before continuing, "because it won't work!"

"But it will," said Fluttershy, finding confidence in her ability to protect Roxas. "I care too much about you both to let something like this happen. Pinkie Pie, I'm sorry, but I have to stop you right now!" she yelled.

Fluttershy's clothes suddenly began glowing green as an equal hue of green geometric patterns spread from her like the shock wave of an explosion(2). Her keyblade unraveled and the vines shot into the arena, anchoring Fluttershy's keyblade to the ground. As Pinkie stared at Fluttershy in confusion, a large, twisting green vine erupted from underneath her and launched her into the air. Before she could recover, two more vines came from opposite directions to sandwich her in between and hold her in mid-air while I third arced from above and slammed her into the ground again, cracking the arena slightly.

As Pinkie struggled to stand, the four vines that had just finished attacking her coiled at the ground where they'd emerged before rocketing toward her, grabbing her and twisting her into the air again to hang her in place. While she hung, held hostage by the four massive vines, Fluttershy tore her keyblade from the arena floor and jumped up to her trapped friend before saying in almost a whisper, "I'm sorry."

As soon as the words left her mouth, her keyblade doubled in size and she swung it as hard as she could through the air, impacting Pinkie Pie and knocking her out of the vines' clutches and through the magical barrier, destroying it and filling the room with the sound of shattering glass. Pinkie was sent spinning like a bullet to impact hard against the floor of the outer-arena before coming to a complete stop, the darkness finally fading from her completely as Fluttershy's light show ended as well.

Roxas dismissed his keyblades as he let out a sigh of exhaustion. "That could have gone better," he said.

Fluttershy glided over to him, both looking over at Pinkie Pie as she started to get up. Her eyes were rolling in her head as she asked, "Ow, what happened?" Her eyes had regained their color and her voice was no longer distorted and twisted like before. "Oh, hi Roxas!" she said cheerfully when she noticed Sora's other half. "What are you doing here?"

"It's best if you have Riku explain it to you. He's got more experience with your... encounter," he answered.

"Okay," said Pinkie, slightly disappointed at the gap in her memory. "So who won?"

The voice of the announcer crackled over the intercom. "Um, we don't know. Interfering with a match should disqualify you, but you don't seem to be in our roster. What did you say your name was?"

"Roxas," he said out loud.

"Ok, Roxas," said the announcer slowly to get the name right. "Normally, we'd steal your soul and trap it here for all eternity," he said nonchalantly. "But it seems you don't have a heart to take." A wave of sadness hit Roxas as he was reminded of his half existence. "So, I guess we'll proceed as normal. Leave the arena and we'll declare a victor.

Roxas nodded to where he thought the voice was coming from before shutting his eyes and bidding his return back to Sora. In a matter of seconds, he diffused into pure light before completely disappearing, reawakening back in Sora's team room. As soon as he returned, the announcer's voice sounded throughout the colosseum saying, "The winner is Fluttershy!"

"That was impressive," said Riku as soon as the announcer was done.

"Not as impressive as it's gonna be when you explain what happened to Pinkie Pie," shot Roxas back, a darker tone in his voice.

"Hey, what's wrong?" asked Riku, confused at Roxas' sudden harshness. "Did something happen during the battle?"

"I'm fine," said Roxas back, attempting to dodge the question before he summoned his Oathkeeper and healed Sora with a Cure spell. Before Riku could press him further, he had reunited with Sora who was beginning to stand up off the ground.

"You didn't have to knock me out," said Sora as he rubbed his sore head.

"Sorry, but we were short on time," said Riku plainly, as if it should be obvious. "How are you feeling?"

"Aside from a concussion, just fine."

The headset that was still on Sora's head buzzed to life as Twilight's voice came through the speaker. "Is Pinkie Pie okay?" she asked worriedly.

"I'm not sure," said Sora back, drawing a choking gasp from Twilight. "I'm sure she's fine, though. We'll have Riku take a look at her when we're done."

"If you say so," said Twilight doubtfully before she cut the signal. Sora dismissed his headset before turning back to Riku.

"We have to find a better way to communicate at a distance," said Sora. "This thing keeps popping up on my head whenever I get contacted."

"Why don't we ask Cid to look into it in Traverse Town?" asked Riku. "Maybe he could make us some kind of Bluetooth devices that are smaller."

"That sounds a lot better," said Sora. As he sat down on the bench, he asked, "So who do you think is up next?"

As soon as Sora finished speaking, the announcer spoke over the intercom again, saying, "Competitors 8 and 5, please step forward."

In her room, Twilight doubled checked her card which had a 5 on it. "Guess it's my turn," she thought to herself. She was shaking with anticipation and fear. While part of her wanted to prove her strength to Sora and Riku, she greatly feared not knowing who her opponent was. "I should have checked what the others' numbers were," she said to herself in frustration.

Her door slid open and she apprehensively took a few steps out. When she looked over at the other doors, she saw Rarity taking a few similar steps out of her room. "Rarity?" asked Twilight. "You're my opponent?"

"I suppose I am," said Rarity back, with a hint of surprise in her voice. "However did that happen?"

"I don't know," said Twilight. "I feel like they're just picking these numbers at random. But they have to have some kind of organization."

After a moment of silence, Rarity asked, "Shall we?"

Twilight sighed before saying, "I guess we have no choice." She inwardly cursed Sora again for tricking them. Though strangely, Twilight was beginning to warm up to the idea of a good fight. That scared her, but she went with it. Even as she looked over at Rarity stepping through the barrier, she began to formulate strategies in her mind about how to deal with her opponent's defensive magic and how to counter her heavier swings. Should she try a disabling spell, or would it be better to use one that slowed the flow of time a little bit? In fact, could she even do a spell like that in the middle of a fight?

She and Rarity both summoned their keyblades as she continued thinking.

Her train of thought was soon interrupted as the announcer came back over the intercom. "The match between combatants 5 and 8 will begin... now!" he shouted.

On cue, Rarity cast Protect on herself and followed up with a Reflect spell to stop Twilight's Fire spell that she'd discharged, bouncing it off of the shield and into the barrier to disappear. Twilight immediately followed up with a Thunder spell, shocking Rarity before Twilight rushed in and landed a few solid hits with her keyblade, the damage greatly reduced, however, by the Protect spell..

Sora and Riku's jaws dropped as they watched. "What's going on?!" said Sora in surprise. "We only taught them a couple of spells. How can they do all that?!"

"Maybe it has to do with them being unicorns," said Riku as he came down from his initial shock. "They've probably been using magic their entire lives. If I had to guess, I'd say it's second nature. I think it's safe to say that our magic isn't too much different from theirs."

Sora thought on that for a moment. "That's weird, though," he persisted. "Our magic is completely different from theirs. From what I've seen, Twilight has the best time with spacial spells like teleporting or levitation. So why can she manipulate elemental magic so well?"

Sora's attention was drawn back to the match as he saw Twilight get knocked onto her back by the energy from one of Rarity's Reflect spells. She stood up and faced Rarity again. "You're pretty good with that spell," said Twilight. "When have you had time to practice that?"

"I haven't," said Rarity as if it should be obvious. "This is the first time I've used it in a while. I don't know what's gotten into me, but I like it!" Rarity suddenly went on the offensive, charging at Twilight and swinging her keyblade in a wide arc. She got too close too fast for Twilight to dodge, so she gritted her teeth and took the hit, getting launched once again across the arena. It took her longer, but she finally managed to stand up straight.

Before she could completely recover, Twilight received several more devastating blows from Rarity before she was knocked straight up into the air only to fall straight back down and impact the arena floor hard. As she finally regained her ability to stand up straight, she quickly cast Cure before Rarity could hit her again and she sidestepped as Rarity's keyblade came down where she just was, getting lodged in the floor.

While Rarity tugged on it, Twilight stepped toward her and swung at her hard, knocking her away from her keyblade. While Rarity took her turn to recover, Twilight dislodged Rarity's keyblade and began holding both at once with her magic. Without missing a beat, she ran at Rarity, swinging wildly with the two keyblades, knocking Rarity left and right, over and over. After a full minute of abuse, Twilight finished by jumping back and launching both of the keyblades at Rarity with her magic. Charged with Twilight's power, both of the keyblades exploded in a ball of fire on impact before reforming and returning to their masters.

While Twilight jumped back and cast Cure a few more times to fully heal, Rarity attempted again to stand. She was cut and bruised in several places, but that seemed to drop to the back of her mind when she saw her mane. To put it lightly...

"You ruined my mane!" screamed Rarity at the top of her lungs in anger. Truth be told, only the ends were slightly singed, but other than tangling it slightly, there were no other changes. "Do you know how long it's going to take me to fix this?!" Her breathing became ragged, uncontrolled rasps, seeping pure anger from her voice. "Okay then, Miss Sparkle," she said as she attempted to gain composure. "The gloves are coming off!"

Before Twilight could tell her that she'd barely singed it, Rarity's clothes lit up with a similar glow to Fluttershy's, though hers were glowing light blue instead of green and her glowing magic spreading around her took more jagged and sharper shapes. Her keyblade suddenly doubled in size before it shattered apart into tiny fragments that filled the air and hung there like floating petals. Twilight took one of these shards in her magic and, upon further inspection, found that they were shards of clear crystal.

"Do you like them?" asked Rarity with interest. "They look like they're made of my keyblade. Why do you suppose that is?" As Twilight studied the piece she now held in her hoof, she found that it was cutting into her. She didn't know how, but just by gently holding it, the shard began splitting her skin. She immediately recoiled and took it in her magic again to keep studying it.

An idea found its way into her head and she voiced it right away. "Remember when those fairies said that our clothes had some kind of special power?" she asked rhetorically. "Maybe this is what they were talking about. Fluttershy's was to grow those huge vines, and yours must be these crystals!" She clapped in excitement a few times. Her elation quickly faded, though, when she realized the final piece of the puzzle. "But if Fluttershy's was some kind of attack, then does that mean..." She trailed off when she refocused on Rarity to find that the shards had begun gathering around the white mare, all glowing from within with a light blue color as they aimed at Twilight.

"You're right," said Rarity. "I think this is attack as well!" she finished with a smile of victory. As the last few shards came into place, they immediately launched forward at Twilight, riddling her with cuts and scratches up and down, pounding relentlessly like a hail of bullets. Over and over Twilight was struck, until all of the shards had passed. She'd fallen to the ground under the impossible number of projectiles. But as she stood back up, Rarity said gloatingly to her, "Behind you, darling." Twilight immediately spun to find the shards turning right back toward her. She turned and bolted in the other direction, but the attack was too fast. It caught up to her in seconds, knocking her back to the ground as she was struck again by each one. With each hit, the shards shattered and returned to Rarity, who was now holding just the handle of her keyblade as the gems returned to rebuild it.

Rarity watched with a smile on her face at the impressive strength of her attack. While she felt that Twilight deserved what she got for 'destroying' her hair, she inwardly cringed at the sight of her hurt friend.

She walked over to Twilight as her keyblade finished reforming, driving it into the arena floor next to her. "This battle is over," she said as she smiled with victory.

Rarity suddenly gasped as she heard a voice behind her say, "Not quite."

"What the-" She spun around to look at where the voice had come from only to be met with the end of a keyblade connecting with her chin. She was launched back nearly 10 yards before crashing to the arena floor. As she tried to stand up, she turned to her assailant to find Twilight standing behind where she just was only moments before. "How did you..." That was when her eyes fell on what she thought was Twilight, lying in a heap and covered in cuts.

The Twilight on the ground started disappearing slowly, fading into darkness and sinking into the floor. "Doppelganger spell," said Twilight triumphantly. "Chapter Five of Advanced Combat Spells for Unicorns." She smirked when Rarity tried to stand but fell flat on her face again. "You used too much power with that attack, and it left you vulnerable," said Twilight. She turned around to look into the darkness of the outer arena and started trying to talk to the announcer. "Is the match over?" she asked openly.

The intercom came alive again as the announcer said, "That's up to contestant number 8. If she concedes or falls unconscious, then that decides the match."

Twilight turned back around with the smirk of victory on her face. "So what do you say, Rarity? Are we done?" she finished, her expression softening.

Rarity smiled back and hung her head. "I suppose we are," she said. Twilight healed her with a Cure spell as she finally stood up, saying, "I'll concede defeat. This was getting old, anyway." Twilight chuckled slightly at her friend's attempt to save her pride.

"Then that's that," said the announcer. "The winner is Twilight Sparkle!" Twilight cast cure a few more times on Rarity, just to make sure that she was okay, and then walked her back to her gate. As Rarity sat down inside, the door shut and Twilight returned to her gate to rest and watch the next match.

"That was really short," commented Sora.

"Of course," said Riku. "They're both talented with magic. Did you notice the intensity of their spells? Just a couple of hits would've wiped them out in a second. It's only natural the battle was so short."

After waiting for a few seconds, the announcer said over the intercom, "Contestants 2 and 3, please step forward!" All eyes were glued to their screens as two gates opened in the arena. Out of the first stepped Rainbow Dash, her keyblade already over her shoulder as she stepped into the arena barrier. The second contestant was Applejack, hesitantly taking a few steps out of the gate before realizing her rainbow maned friend was her opponent. As soon as she discovered that, she smiled and ran into the barrier before summoning her keyblade as well.

"Ya know RD, I was kinda hopin' I'd get to fight you in the tournament," said Applejack as she continued to smile.

"Same here," said Rainbow Dash as she returned the competitive smile. "Maybe we never found out who was the fastest, but now, we can find out who's the strongest!" She finished as she crouched into a combat stance, her keyblade in her right fore hoof.

"I agree," said Applejack. "Why don't we give our friends watchin' somethin' to see?" she smirked.

"Yeah," replied Rainbow Dash. "Let's."

Rainbow Dash immediately unleashed several Blizzard spells while Applejack dodged them and ran for Rainbow Dash's blind spot. Before Applejack could land a hit, Rainbow Dash took to the air and dove straight back down. Applejack quickly pulled up her keyblade to guard the attack, deflecting it and Rainbow Dash away.

Rainbow touched back down on the ground before running at Applejack again, swinging her keyblade against her friend's and causing a small amount of sparks to jump as the two blades ground together. Applejack found the strength to overpower her friend as she pushed back hard enough to push Rainbow Dash away. While Rainbow staggered to regain her balance, Applejack rushed in and delivered a hard strike to her face.

Rainbow immediately recoiled in pain as she took a few steps back, allowing Applejack to score even more strikes before jumping back herself. "Let's hope it works this time," she said under her breath as she prepared her spell. She thrust her keyblade above her head before calling out, "Magnet!" The spell burst to life over her head and, to her satisfaction, it began pulling Rainbow Dash to her. Eventually, her damaged friend hung suspended over Applejack as she unleashed even more hits, not giving Rainbow Dash even a second to recover.

When she was satisfied that she'd landed as many hits as possible, she jumped back before the spell faded and gave Rainbow Dash a chance to stand up. As soon as Rainbow was standing, she gathered as much magic into her keyblade as possible before unleashing a larger Blizzard spell at Applejack. The spell's name 'Blizzara' hung in her mind for a second before fading as the spell made contact.

Applejack froze on the spot, encased in a large, durable hunk of ice as Rainbow Dash trotted over to her. "Not so tough now, are you?" teased Rainbow Dash as she snickered at her frozen friend. What she didn't see were Applejack's eyes moving and focusing on her. The ice suddenly shattered when Applejack twisted her keyblade, breaking it into massive chunks. Rainbow managed to fly back to avoid the attack she thought was coming, only to realize that it was a trick to put distance between herself and Applejack.

After Rainbow Dash had gotten a few yards away, Applejack spun around and bucked one of the massive chunks of ice with her hind legs, sending it rocketing toward Rainbow Dash. Before she could dodge, the large hunk of frozen water crashed into Rainbow Dash, knocking her out of the sky. As soon as she hit the ground, Applejack fired the remaining ice chunks as well causing them to crash into the downed pegasus.

After she was done, Rainbow Dash attempted to stand, wobbling and leaning on her keyblade for support.

Meanwhile, Sora, Donald, and Goofy were watching with fascination. "Sora?" said Riku. "I wanted to ask you something."

"Sure. What is it?"

"Do you remember when we arrived in Equestria? Something was wrong with our magic. We couldn't use our strongest spells, and we almost failed because of it. Even that Power Armor almost beat us, and that thing was a pushover when I fought it the first time. Don't you think it's weird just how fast we got all of our abilities back?"

"Hm, I guess you're right," said Sora as he thought about it. "We did seem to get them back pretty quickly."

"Why do you think that is?" asked Riku.

"Maybe it has to do with them," he said as he looked at the screen to Applejack and Rainbow Dash as Rainbow was struck with the large chunks of ice. "Remember, they're the elements of harmony. According to Celestia, that's the most powerful light magic in their world. After the battles that we've gone through together, maybe that light reacted with us somehow."

"That makes sense," said Riku as he thought more about it. "But what about how we lost them in the first place?"

"Don't you remember what happened in the dark realm?" asked Sora, mildly surprised, though Riku couldn't tell why.

/)*#*(\

"Hang in there, Ven." Aqua urged her friend forward, though she knew he could barely stand. Even after all of his journeying those 13 years ago, he still couldn't keep up with Terra or Aqua. The latter was currently working to motivate her friend while Riku, Terra, and Lea pushed ahead. Sora was shortly behind Ventus, though he tried not to show how much the dark realm's evil was affecting him.

"I don't know how much longer I can go," said Ven as he fell to his knees, his keyblade slipping out of his hand. "The darkness here is too much, especially this deep."

"I'm feeling it too," said Sora as he leaned on his keyblade like a walking stick. "The place that Riku and I were was nothing compared to this. I feel like my heart is being dragged out of me."

"Come on," said Aqua reassuringly. "You're both strong enough to do this. And besides, we need to meet up with the King soon. We're near the rendezvous point."

"How can you even keep track of a place you've never been? This whole place is like a giant maze!" said Sora in astonishment. He then remembered that Aqua had spent the past 13 years of her life in the dark prison of a realm. He received no response, so he guessed that it was just an acquired sense of direction. Doing his best to stand, he pushed onward, supporting Ventus as best as he could with Aqua.

/)*#*(\

"And then the battle with Xehanort..." said Sora as he continued his story.

/)*#*(\

Sora was thrown through the darkness away from Xehanort whose keyblade glowed with a ghostly, yet bright purple aura. The rest of his team lay unconscious, so as he recovered, he held his keyblade high before commanding, "Curaga!" A few seconds passed before Sora realized that nothing had happened. He tried again, yielding the same result.

"Don't you see, boy? You're so used to basking in the light that you've failed to acclimate to the darkness. It's drained your power!" boasted Xehanort. He stuck his free hand out and a Darkside rose in between him and Sora. In another second, Sora's friends were lifted by their chests and hung in midair by a strand of blue lightning, connecting them to the darkside and back to Xehanort.

Sora fell to his knees in defeat as hopelessness hit him like a wave. "I can't give up," he said to himself, though his voice trailed off as rain began to fall in the desolate realm...

/)*#*(\

Sora's focus was drawn from his memories as he heard a cry of pain coming from Rainbow Dash, the last chunk of ice struck her hard in the back. "Give up yet?" asked Applejack gloatingly.

Rainbow Dash stood once again before saying, "Are you kidding me? I'm just getting warmed up!" From her keyblade, a Thunder spell arced toward Applejack who quickly held up her keyblade in defense. As the spell fizzled out against the blade, Applejack missed the charging Rainbow Dash, earning her a solid uppercut to her chest and knocking her on her back. Rainbow quickly cast another bolt of Thunder on AJ as she stood back up.

Applejack returned the favor immediately, jumping at Rainbow Dash and landing a few hits before Rainbow began blocking them. The two traded blows for nearly 20 seconds straight, both holding their strength against the other, until finally, Applejack gained the upper hand.

It started with a hard upward swing. When Rainbow Dash attempted to guard it, the force knocked her keyblade into the air, taking Rainbow with it. Before Rainbow Dash could recover in mid air, Applejack jumped as high as she could, bringing her keyblade around as she spun in midair. Just as Rainbow grabbed her keyblade, Applejack delivered a concussive blow to Rainbow Dash's head, throwing her back down and into the arena below.

Applejack touched back down, breathing heavily with the exertion of her recent attack. As she struggled to fill her lungs with air, she stared at the still form of Rainbow Dash in the arena. When her friend didn't move, Applejack relaxed and fell backward in exhaustion. She heard the announcer's voice over the intercom as she smirked with victory, just before passing out herself.

"Um, it seems we have a tie," said the announcer. "According to this tournament's special rules, the two downed combatants can form a team to continue the competition, if they so choose." A second after speaking, two strange looking stones materialized near Applejack and Rainbow Dash. A second later, they sprayed a green mixture into the air before disappearing again.

Rainbow Dash's eyes snapped open and she jumped to her hooves. "Is it over? Did I win?" she asked frantically.

"We both lost," said Applejack as she stood as well. "Looks like Ah overdid it a little bit." She shut her eyes and shook her head. "Ah guess we both need to a be bit more careful when we're fightin'."

Rainbow hung her head slightly before perking up. "That's okay," said Rainbow Dash. "I guess this just proves that I'm stronger."

"What?!" shouted Applejack staring Rainbow straight in the face as she approached her. "Ah knocked you out first! Ah just... tripped is all!"

"Tripped? It wouldn't be a tie if you'd stayed conscious!" Rainbow fell into a laughing fit before saying, "Just admit it! I'm the strongest."

"Ah ain't admittin' nothin'," started Applejack, "until we get a rematch!"

"Anytime, anywhere," said Rainbow Dash confidently as she flared her wings playfully.

"Come on, you two," said the announcer. "Return to your gates for the next match." Applejack smirked at Rainbow Dash as she turned and walked to her gate, giving one last glance back before it shut her in. Rainbow did the same after Applejack entered hers and soon enough, the announcer was naming off the numbers of the next contestants.

The following battle was a simple, but short match between Leon and Yuffie against Tifa and Cid. Yuffie constantly healed Leon as he charged head in, striking Cid and Tifa together until the two overpowered him. At that point, it was just a matter of time before they caught Yuffie during her teleports. Before long, the announcer was declaring Cid and Tifa's victory.

After the battle was over, the announcer spoke the numbers of the next battle. "Combatants 10 and 12, please enter the arena." Two gates slid open simultaneously, steam rolling out of them.

"Really, how do we get that?!" asked Donald desperately as if the answer held the meaning of life itself.

Out of the first gate stepped a familiar face. A man with a large, curved sword on his back with a red cloak and an arm sling stepped into the arena, his jet black hair and scar over one eye completing the image. "Auron?!" asked Sora in disbelief.

"Who's Auron?" asked Riku.

Goofy gave the answer. "Auron helped us bring down Hades when we were busy fighting the Organization."

"So what made him enter separately from us?" asked Sora. Then it hit him. "Has he been fighting in the Underworld this whole time?!"

"That would explain why we didn't see him in the city," said Donald.

"Or at the colosseum up top," said Goofy.

"Why don't we talk to him once the battles are over," recommended Donald.

"Good idea. I hope he's been okay all this time," said Sora worriedly.

Meanwhile the other contestant stepped through the gate. Sora and Riku flinched when they saw who it was.

Princess Luna was standing in the doorway, wearing a cloak that shrouded her from head to hoof. Though, due to the equine shape and height, they guessed it was her right away. "What's she doing here?" asked Sora.

"I don't know," said Riku back, dumbfounded. "I thought she didn't want the others to know she was here."

"So did I," said Sora. "Now, she won't be able to hide it. She'll have to give it her all to beat Auron."

Sora's headset began materializing over his head. When he noticed this, he muttered, "Seriously, this is the most annoying thing I've ever seen!" He heard Twilight's voice coming through the speaker and that snapped him out of his annoyed anger.

"Isn't that the pony that Riku and Rainbow Dash followed through the portal on Cacoon?" she asked.

"I think so," said Sora back, faking his ignorance. "But what is it doing here?"

"I don't know. I've got so many questions, and the answers are staring me in the face." Sora heard a hoof stamping in frustration. "But I can't get to it. Argh!"

"If she's part of this competition, then maybe you'll end up facing her eventually. Then, you can ask her yourself," said Sora.

"Her? Did you run into 'her' earlier?"

"What? No! I'm just... guessing. That's all," said Sora nervously, mentally slapping himself for the slip-up. "Anyway, I'm sure we'll all get answers soon enough. Let's be patient for now, though." Before Twilight could respond, Sora dismissed the headset, hoping that Twilight wouldn't call back.

"Smooth move, Sora," said Riku. "You almost gave her away."

"Who is she?" asked Goofy.

"What is she?" asked Donald.

"She's an alicorn, like Twilight," said Sora. "I think that's what they're called."

"Apparently, she's one of the co-rulers of Equestria, the others' home world," added Riku. "We ran into her yesterday, but she said she didn't want the others to know she was here."

"So then why is she comin' out in the open like that?" asked Goofy. Everyone turned their attention back to the screen as the announcer came back over the intercom.

"Ready... begin!" Auron immediately drew his sword and rushed at Luna. Before he was even half way across the field, a wave of energy that was navy blue and dotted with white specks like stars in the night sky struck Auron's body. He froze where he was with a look of shock on his face as he fell face first, unconscious. His sword clanged to the ground as the announcer spoke again. "And the winner is... contestant number 10," he said, amazement evident in his voice.

The mouths of all the competitors hung open as they looked at Auron on the screen, his body completely limp as the excess 'night' energy faded from existence, feeding back to the Princess. "What was that attack?" was all Twilight could ask herself. "Was that some kind of trail left behind by a sword? No, that can't be right. I never even saw it draw a weapon! But with that body type, and the aura of that attack... is that...? No, it couldn't be. Could it?"

As Twilight wondered if the Princess of the Night could really be there, Sora said in astonishment, "I didn't even see her keyblade! And she beat Auron with just one attack!"

"I get the feeling she was going easy on us when we fought before," said Riku gravely. "If we make it that far, then we'll have an incredibly difficult fight on our hands, especially if the darkness takes hold of her." In the arena, Princess Luna summoned her keyblade in a hoof and held it above her head, causing her to bump the hood of her robe down, revealing her face. She shut her eyes and performed the Curaga spell, reviving Auron and allowing him to stand.

"Princess Luna?!" exclaimed the ponies simultaneously, even though Twilight was slightly less surprised than the others.

Sora called out in their small room to the announcer who he hoped was listening. "Please, open the gate. We need to talk to the winner right away."

"Is it a matter of life or death?" responded the announcer.

Sora took a moment to think before responding. "It might be..." said Sora.

"Well, then that means it'll be all the more entertaining, doesn't it?" came a sinister voice from over the intercom, different from the announcer's. Sora recognized it almost instantly.

"Hades," he said out loud when he heard the God's signature laugh come his way.

"Today is just full of reunions for all of you, isn't it?" came the god of the Underworld's voice through the speakers.

"But we left you in the well of souls!" cried Goofy. "How did you get out?"

"God of the Underworld. I'm immortal. Helloooo," responded Hades snidely. "So what are you three idiots doing here?"

"We're trying to find a portal to the dark realm," said Riku. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"Not a clue," said Hades. "But, I've got this secret that I've been dying to share with you. It's gonna be killer, if you catch my drift."

"I think he's trying to tell us something," said Donald as he rubbed his chin in thought.

"You think?" asked Riku sarcastically.

"Here's a hint. It has something to do with the tournament and you bozos. So strap in, hold on, and enjoy the quarterfinals, kiddos," he finished before the intercom shut down with a static pop.

"That can't be good," said Sora.

"Yeah. I don't like how he said dying and killer, either," added Donald. Riku mentally face-palmed.

"Whatever it is, we have to be ready for it," said Sora. "Riku, you knew Hades during our first journey. What do you think he's up to?"

"I don't know," said Riku as he pondered the God's plans. "Knowing him, it could be anything. Though if I had to guess, I'd say it's along the lines of revenge, probably because of what you three did to him."

"And I'll bet it wasn't a coincidence that Auron was in the competition against us," added Goofy.

Before they could ponder Hades' plans any further, the intercom came back on as the announcer continued. "The first match of the quarterfinal round will be between combatants 1 and 9," he said.

Sora frowned as he said, "Number 9 is..."

In her room, Fluttershy's breathing became sporadic as she quaked in fear. She knew Sora and his team were number 1, and that she stood no chance against them. But she also knew that she had no choice. She had to fight whether she liked it or not. And as her gate slid open, her fear only escalated until she was sure she would pass out. Reluctantly, she took very slow steps toward the gate, putting a hoof against the wall to steady herself. When she stepped outside into the faint glow of the torches around the arena, Sora was already waiting in the arena with Donald and Goofy.

"Sorry, Fluttershy," he said as he crouched into a combat stance. The shy pegasus cringed, but summoned her keyblade all the same, trembling as she readied herself as well.

"Thats o-o-okay, S-s-sora," she replied, her voice shaking uncontrollably. "Let's just get this o-over with." Sora nodded his head before the announcer began the match.

"The match between combatants 1 and 9 will begin... now!"

Author's Note:

You are the WAYWARD VAGABOND, taking a minute to check on another group of heroes from another dimension and their struggles. You supply them with decent songs, and do your best to tell them when to stop. Some people just can't listen. Or take a completely shameless reference to completely unrelated material. Oh well.


So, this is quite possibly the longest chapter of the story for a while, so I'm sorry if there are a few issues with it as far as editing goes. It is very hard to edit over 12,000 words and get them out without missing one or two things. If you find any flaws, please let me know down below so I can fix them ASAP. Thanks for reading. :pinkiesmile: Also, let me know what you thought of having the music links for the combat.
(1). Roxas knows who the others are because of his connection with Sora. He experiences and feels what Sora does, so it's logical that he would know who the others are and the situation.
(2). Similar to this. Just, you know, without the crystal or the FFXIII. But hopefully, you get what I mean by the geometric shapes spreading out like the crystarium. If not, let me know and I'll clear it up for you.