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Shadow Realms

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NEW YORK

The downpour started out of nowhere. People ran to the sidewalks, drenched in the rain, except for one. A young boy was leaning on to the walls of the nearby alley. One could say he looked ethereal in the rain. It’s as if he was there but at the same time he was not. Rain dripped from his hood and hands, unmoving in the cold rain.

A slight movement from his hand made his eyes widen. There was a piece of paper in his hand that wasn’t there before. He sighs. Took him long enough… He thought as he read the contents of the paper.

Target sighted. It’ll be in the nearby park in a few minutes. Don’t let your guard down.

He pockets the paper and began to walk towards the park. He hunched his shoulders as he walked among the crowd. He better be right about this…  

He arrives at the park and as expected it was almost empty as the downpour doesn’t seem like it would stop anytime soon. The boy removes his hood and he looks at the gray skies, letting the cold drops rain on his face, his silver hair dripping wet. He kneels and scribbles on the ground setting up a small ward in the park, not to let any mundane close. He heard a growl behind him as he finished setting up and stands up with a sigh. 

“Alrighty big guy. I could sense that you’re rearing to go. Shall we see who goes first then?” He remarks with a smirk as he pulls two brass knuckles that seemed to have knives outstretched to opposite sides. The monster claws at the ground as if to respond to his taunt and that made his smirk go wider. It jumps at him but he easily evades it. “That all you got?!” He exclaims as he slashed at the monster and ichor splashes from it’s wound and splatter onto his jacket. It sizzled and left a small hole on his shoulder. “Fucking disgusting…” 

“Riku!”

“SORA! YOU ARE LATE!” The silver-haired boy screamed at the brown-haired boy that approached him. “Where have you been dumbass? Not like I needed you though~” He teased as they both took a defensive stance.

“Well sorry Mr. Perfect. My form was crumbling I had to recover for a bit.” Sora pouted as the monster throws a nearby log at him which barely misses as Riku covers him. 

“You ready to go?” He asked as he saw Sora’s form engulfed in a dark veil. It was as if he was drenched in a dark ichor and his whole aura changed.

“Ready.” Sora answered but his voice was different from his usual sunny voice. It was distorted and it seems to echo darkly. Riku takes a few steps back and even though Sora was significantly smaller, the monster seemed to cower before him. 

It was only a moment. Sora seemed to blur out of existence and the moment he appeared he had already seared the throat of the monster. It lashed at him to no avail before it made a screeching noise before it dropped dead and vanished, going back to whatever hellish hellhole it came from. Sora was drenched in it’s ichor but it didn’t affect him much. This form of his is quite resistant to the dark energies. He licks the ichor from his hand before his dark form crumbled.

“I thought you could retain that form longer now?” Riku asked as Sora approached him.

“Just a smidge. I’d still only use it for the finishing  blow or else I’d crumble midway.”

“Hn. You should be training more then~” Riku remarks as he puts his knuckle blades away. “Anyway, you should hide those claws of yours.”

Sora rolls his eyes at his best friend. “Shut up. I know, dad .” 

“You know what? I might as well be.”

“RIKU!”

“What? It’s the truth!” He laughs as he undid the temporary ward around the park with a flick of his hand. “Well, I think we cleaned up nicely here thanks to you. But please, don’t make me wait in the rain like that again.” He complains as he puts his hood back up.

“What? I thought you liked the rain.” Sora says as she trudges beside him. 

“That doesn’t mean I’d like to be wet all day. Now I want a shower… and you better buy me a new jacket.” He points to the hole on his shoulder.

“Fiiiiine.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ENGLAND

“The boy seemed to be doing better I see…” An old man remarks as he overlooks the three apprentices sparring on the training grounds.

“Did you expect him not to recover?” The other man asks curiously. It was him who brought the boy to the London Institute, to him. And although he was a good friend he had been acting suspiciously as of late.

“No. Of course not. The boy’s a proud Ascendant. I’ve been overlooking his studies in Alicante when he was there but a small training accident… tainted him.” He says  with distaste. 

Eraqus sighs as he observes his old friend from his desk. “Xehanort, you overlooked that training. You allowed it. But why did you even send him here? Have you no sense of responsibility?” He asks and with that Xehanort looks at him with a deadly stare that seemed to vanish in a split second.

“You know full well that I am not suited to raise children Eraqus. I may teach, I may train but raise? No. I don’t think that that’s for me.” He says in a flat tone.

“I’ve heard that you gave up teaching after the incident. Is that how you took responsibility for what happened to Ventus?” Eraqus observes his every move. This man is full of secrets and he knows it better than anyone.

“Indeed. It is only fitting for me to be removed from the teaching roster after that.” He states as if he’s only stating a fact.

“The elders wouldn’t have accepted that reasoning…”

“Oh but they did, didn’t they?” A slight smirk passed by the old man’s face.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know full well that those old idiots don’t want anymore headaches and would only say yes to just finish the issue at hand.” He waves Eraqus’ concern away. 

He sighs. He’s right. The council members are old and are almost running away from running the whole Shadow World. It would only take a matter of time before the younglings would try to snatch their positions. Including his.

Just then a knock came to the door and Eraqus sits upright. Ah, right on time .

“Come in.” He remarks as the doors open and reveals a young lady. She has a blue hair and elven ears, a sign of being a fae. She enters the room with grace and one wouldn’t even notice the boyish training gear that she was wearing.

“Master.” The young woman bows before him before turning to Xehanort’s direction. “Welcome to the London Institute, Master Xehanort.” Xehanort turns and catches the slight glint of the girl’s eyes.

“I see. So is this the rumored apprentice?” He remarks as the girl stood up. A faerie? Running the Institute? Eraqus what are you thinking?

“Yes. Xehanort, this is Aqua, I’m training her personally to take the Institute one day.” He remarks proudly.

“She looks… duly trained. She has the same aura as you did when we were younger.” Xehanort smirks once again. Interesting.

Eraqus notes his friend’s sudden interest in his apprentices and clears his throat. “Well then, shall we proceed to the training grounds for the presentation?”

“Ah yes. Of course.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LOS ANGELES

“Yo! Roxas! Hurry the fluff up!” A pale red-haired man shouts at the blonde as he tries to keep up with him.

“Axel you bastard! Wait up!” The boy screams in-between pants.

“What? I thought you were in Alicante to train more?” He teased, complete with air quotes before he laughed.

“Oh don’t remind me. I fucking failed a few classes so I have to go back in a week.” Roxas grumbled and it made Axel erupt in laughter.

“YOU FAILED?”

“Yeah dumbass, don’t keep on repeating it.” He says irritably as he punches him playfully.

“Owwieee.”

“Oh shut up you pale ass teething monster. I’ll spill all your secrets to Saix if you don’t shut up.” Axel gives him a fanged grin and Roxas rolled his eyes.

“You wouldn’t. You love me~!” He says with a grand gesture in the middle of the busy streets, not minding the crowds passing by. The boy pulls him to the side, facepalming internally. Why am I stuck with this melodramatic bastard again?

“And what would you spill to me now?” A deep voice loomed behind them and pulled them to the side of the busy sidewalk. “And what are you two idiots doing blocking the damn sidewalk?”

Axel scratches the back of his head cutely. “Nothing~”

“The usual shit. Tell this nibbling monster to shut up about my grades.”

“Well, he would if you didn’t fail it.” The blue-haired man remarks bluntly and Axel couldn’t help but laugh.

“See? Even Saix knows you could have done it if you stopped ditching class. You could have graduated with your brother you know.” The redhead remarks in a matter of fact.

“Right. It’s always about him now after the incident…”

“What? Aren’t you worried about him? He’s your twin.” Saix remarks as he observed Roxas’ reaction. Did something happen to them when they were in the Academy?

“I am! And they took him away from me after that! They sent him to London and I can’t even see him now!” 

“Alrighty hotshot relax. Let’s get into a nearby cafe and talk it out.” Axel offers and they enter one of the cafes nearby. They order their drinks and sat down on the corner of the establishment. “So?”

“Well, they went out for a practical training. I was in the same class as Ven but I was in a different batch. They took them out just outside the ward in Idris so that they could practice first hand battles with some lesser demons but then he came back unconscious and they said he was… possessed.” He shivered at the memory. “I don’t get it. They were with a full fledged Shadowhunter, a Master. Why couldn’t he have protected him?”

Saix takes the information in and raises an eyebrow to Axel’s direction. He returns the gaze in a mutual manner. I guess we are thinking of the same thing.

“What if… what if he planned for your twin to get possessed ?” At that Roxas looked at him with wide eyes. “I mean, I wasn’t there but like you said, this ‘Master’ could have protected him, could have prevented the incident but did not.” Axel continues.

“We don’t know anything about how the Shadowhunter Academy is run but Axel has a point Roxas.” Saix seconds. “You and your brother better be careful…”

“I know…” The boy replies. “But why us? We don’t have a Shadowhunter legacy. We are just mundanes who Ascended. Why us?” He looked at both of his companions helplessly.

“We don’t know. Sometimes it’s best to just let the water flow where it flows and see where it goes.” Axel says as he gazes blankly into the wall, as if dreaming of his distant past.

Roxas sighs. “I just hope he’s doing fine there. He wasn’t much of a talker too.”

“Ah. There it is. Although you’re the younger one, you seem to have the ‘I’m the big brother and I love my little brother’ kind of feeling.” Axel teased, as if snapping back to reality.

“Cut it out. I’m serious.”

“Well he finished up his studies despite being held up for a few weeks right? While you what? Sulked?” Saix says as he sips his coffee.

“UGH! You guys are the worst!”