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Ten years ago, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus lost their fellow apprentice, Sora, in Deep Jungle. Now, they are to return with two new students, Riku and Kairi, to lock the heart of the world. All the while, something watches from the trees. Feral!Sora AU Also Available on FF.net | Ao3 | Tumblr Based on Chachacharlieco's Tarzan AU Chapter One- In Which They Disembark The Land of Departure. Home to Master Eraqus and his seven keyblade warriors. The oldest was Terra, 28, a Master. He specialized in brute strength and using his environment to his advantage. The second was Aqua, 27, the first Master. A mage with a gift of elemental magics. The next oldest was Riku, 23, the third Master. He had been chosen by the keyblade, but fell to darkness before he could wield it. Once he recovered himself, he came to Master Eraqus to train and banish the darkness from himself. Next in the line was Ventus, 22, a boy who had been studying under Eraqus for years. He had arrived in the Land of Departure with no memory of his past, and no darkness in his heart. Though he is not a master yet, his strikes continue to be the swiftest and most accurate, though not always the strongest. Next was Kairi, 16, a Princess from Radiant Garden. The newest student under Eraqus. She, like Ventus, has no darkness in her heart. Many in her home world believe that’s why she is able to wield the Keyblade. Finally, the youngest: Sora. Able to summon the keyblade at the age of three, the youngest anyone had in known history. Though, this is all that anyone knows about him anymore. The memories of those who knew him are bittersweet, and therefore, forbidden. As of late, the students had been busy on the field. Darkness was growing, taking over and swallowing worlds. The job of the keyblade warrior was to go out, find the heart of a world, and lock it with the keyblade, forbidding the darkness from overwhelming it and taking it over. So far, their efforts hadn’t been in vain. But as Master Eraqus waited for everyone to return from their latest missions before assigning more, the pupils began to worry that something was dire. They assembled in the foyer, preparing to depart for the next assignment. “I want to express my pride and gratitude for all the hard work you all have done in these hard times. Because of your efforts, almost all the worlds that were in jeopardy have been saved. Though some were lost to the darkness, we cannot dwell in what was. “There is one world left that needs to be locked. It requires all of you to go. Terra and Aqua are prepared to administer the Mark of Mastery exam to Ventus during your mission. Riku, your job will be to accompany Kairi whenever the party separates. This world is treacherous, and should not be traversed lightly.” “Master Eraqus,” Terra spoke up. “Though you gave Aqua and I instructions on what to look for in the exam, you didn’t actually say what world we were going to.” Eraqus looked down to the floor, hesitating. Finally he answered, “Terra, it is the world in which you took your Mark of Mastery Exam.” Aqua and Terra both gasped in shock and fell silent. Riku, Kairi, and Ventus studied the reaction quietly. Aqua often talked about her exam, and everyone had been around to witness Riku’s, but when questioned, Terra would simply supply, “I passed, that’s all that matters.” Eraqus and Aqua didn’t elaborate on it much either, only saying that the exam itself was a success, but something tragic had happened immediately afterward that was still too painful to talk about. Even ten years after the fact. “Master, surely there’s no reason to lock that world? There’s no people there.” “Whether or not a world is worth saving is not up to you to decide. I do understand your concerns and reservations. But as keyblade wielders, it is our job to protect all worlds from the darkness. No matter how rugged or barren it may be.” Kairi was the brave one that spoke up, “Master? What happened that was so...traumatizing?” Aqua, Terra, and Eraqus looked at each other, considering. Finally, Eraqus answered. “Ten years ago, not long after Ventus came to be with us, the five of us travelled to this world, Deep Jungle.” “Wait, the five of you? Eraqus, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus.” Riku counted off on his fingers. “Who was the fifth?” “Sora. A former wielder.” Kairi, Riku, and Ventus all gasped. “There was another one?” Asked Ventus, “Why haven’t you ever talked about them? And...why don’t I remember?” “It’s still too painful to talk about.” Terra admitted. “When you first came here, Ven, you weren’t really all there.” “I know,” he agreed. “But I thought I would be able to remember a whole other person.” Aqua smiled fondly, though it was bittersweet. “Sora loved you. When you were introduced to us, he started asking questions a mile a minute, so much so that you started crying because you were overwhelmed. He did his best to make sure you were always included in things. He actually got you to smile and laugh.” Ventus felt his heart ache. “Really? How old was he?” “At the time, he was six.” Eraqus explained. “Sora was...a prodigy. He was able to summon a keyblade at only the age of three. He couldn’t even speak in full sentences, but he was swinging a full length keyblade around.” “At three years old? That’s amazing!” “It was remarkable. The youngest in recorded history. He came from Riku’s world.” “The Destiny Islands? Really?” “Yes. It took his parents some convincing. I assured them that his training would be light until he got older, and that he would remain safe...but...” He trailed off, thinking. “It was the first world we took Ventus to. All of us went. Besides Terra’s exam, I thought it would be a good way to bond. When the exam time came, Sora and Ventus stayed behind at camp. And when we returned…” Master Eraqus stopped, clenching his eyes shut and shaking his head. Terra continued for him, seeing that Eraqus was having a hard time speaking. “When we came back, the camp was trashed. The tents were ripped to shreds, Ven was scratched and bloody, and Sora was nowhere to be found. When we asked what happened, Ven totally shut down. We searched for three days, but all we could find were his clothes, ripped and covered in blood. Ven found them first, and held them the whole way home. He finally came around to speaking three weeks later, and when we broached the topic of Sora, he had no idea who we were talking about. It seemed like the event was so traumatic he unintentionally blocked it out.” Ventus wanted to cry. His hazy memories at the beginning were often a sore spot for him, but to completely forget a person? A friend? It was heartbreaking. “Since that incident, I had placed a ban on Deep Jungle, but now since you are all capable of protecting yourselves, I am lifting that ban, with the hope that you will lock the heart of the world, and return safely. And for Aqua and Terra, the world may provide you with closure.” “Yes Master,” everyone agreed with a bow. — The flight was quiet. This was the first mission on another world where everyone was present. For this occasion, they borrowed a gummi ship from Disney Castle to get everyone there together. “What’s Deep Jungle like?” Asked Kairi, breaking everyone’s thoughts. “Well,” said Terra with a little laugh. “It’s a Deep Jungle. The trees stretch up hundreds of feet, and there’s all kinds of vines and plants everywhere.” “We set up camp in a bamboo grove when we went. But, it might be a good idea to set up somewhere else instead.” Aqua posed. “There’s no telling how much the world has changed since we were there.” “There’s no people there?” Kairi clarified. “No, but there were a lot of gorillas, if I remember correctly.” “Gorillas!?” Ventus and Kairi shouted in unison. “Now don’t get too excited!” Aqua reprimanded. “They’re still wild animals. This isn’t the zoo, and they will rip your arms off if you get too close. If you see them, leave them alone. Along with any other wildlife you see. We still don’t know what trashed the camp and took Sora. It could be anything.” Despite Kairi’s efforts, the ride fell silent once again. — They landed in the evening. The light fading under the canopy of leaves. “Well, doesn’t like we’re going to get much searching in for the time being.” Riku noted, peering up to the treetops. “You’re right,” Aqua agreed. “We best find a place to camp first, and then we can begin our search in the morning.” All together, they started hiking through the brush, taking care to watch out for snakes and other creatures. Kairi did her best to take it all in, the patterns on the leaves, the flowers desperately sprouting among the tree roots, the vines that twisted and tangled together to create lacy patterns. She stopped suddenly at a vine that looked brown, and oddly like a rope and not a vine. She followed it up with her eyes, and then announced to the group, “Hey, what if we camped up there?” The group halted and followed Kairi’s point, only to see a tree house sitting in the branches of the huge tree next to them. “I don’t remember seeing that the last time we were here.” Terra thought aloud. Riku summoned his armor. “I’ll go check it out, make sure it’s stable.” He transformed his keyblade into a hover board and ascended into the trees. A few minutes later, a boat lowered to the ground. “Hop in!” Riku shouted from above. They went one at a time, just to be safe, until everyone was up in the tree. “Wow, this place is really nice!” Kairi exclaimed, looking over the multiple floors. “That’s not the word I would use,” said Ventus, staring at the moss growing on the wall. Aqua spoke with Terra. “So there are people here after all.” “At least there were at one time,” he winced. “Who knows how long this has been here?” “At least a few years, considering the wood rot.” She kicked at a wall at the corner. “But it looks stable enough.” “Hello?” Kairi shouted up to the rafters. “Is anybody here? Do you mind if we camp here for the night?” “Don’t bother, Kai,” Said Riku, “this place is totally abandoned.” “I don’t know,” said Ventus, looking over some barrels and crates in the corner. “There’s some good stuff here. It might still be occupied.” “What person in their right mind would live in a place like this?” “If they aren’t expecting guests, I’m sure the place would look like junk.” “Hey, check this out.” Riku shoved a crate out of the way, revealing a fireplace made of rocks and clay built into the wall. “Looks like we’ll stay nice and toasty, and Ventus can make us Hobo pies.” “Yay camping!!” The group set to work setting up camp. There was no need for tents, but the boys strung up mosquito nets for some protection. Aqua and Kairi laid out the sleeping bags and stacked crates to make a dressing area. “If someone built this treehouse here, there must be water nearby.” Riku posed, “Aqua come with me.” “Why me?” “It’s only appropriate.” “Oh haha.” She said sarcastically, picking up her canteen. “Then I expect everyone else to get started on dinner while we’re gone.” “Yes ma’am!” Ventus saluted. Terra and Ventus worked together to put the ingredients for dinner together, while Kairi climbed up on the second level, which was just a balcony. There was a pile of rags laid out on the ground, and she wondered if it was supposed to be a bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move. “Hello?” She called. “Yes Kairi?” Asked Ventus from below. “No...I just thought—never mind.” Soon, the sun set, and the team called it a day. They sat around talking for a little while, the excitement of all being together in a new world buzzing between them. “We should get to bed,” Aqua reminded, motherly. “The sooner we get up, the sooner we can get started looking for the heart.” “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man, healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Ventus parroted, like a good noodle. “Ah,” Riku chimed in. “But early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, but socially dead.” “Good night everyone!” Terra shouted, ending the argument. — Kairi was an early riser. Awaking with the sun. Ventus was usually shortly behind. Eraqus had theorized that it was the light in their hearts that resonated with the early sun. That theory was held strongly, considering Terra and Riku were often up late into the night, and therefore up long after breakfast had been made. Just as usual, Kairi was the first to wake at the crack of dawn. The sun’s rays filtered in through the gaps in the wood of the walls. She blinked once, twice, and then realized what she was seeing. A pair of eyes were staring into hers, watching. She screamed, as expected. The shriek woke everyone in camp, as well as scared off whatever had been studying her before she had the chance to get a good look at it. “Geez, What gives Kai?” Asked Riku, just barely awake. “I was—there—it was—something was staring at me!” The rest of the team looked at each other and then burst out laughing. “Did you forget we’re in a jungle? I’m sure there’s lots of things watching us.” Aqua tried to pacify. “Oh great, thanks for bringing that up. Now I’ll never get back to sleep!” Terra whined. “Oh grow up. We should all get up and get to work already. This isn’t a pleasure outing!” “Hey Kai, do us a favor and next time you make eye contact with something, try not to scream, okay?” Riku muttered, still moments away from falling back to sleep. Kairi didn’t respond. She didn’t bother. But she knew one thing for certain: Those were human eyes, and they were the bluest she’d ever seen.