I was actually in that realm; well, at least in spirit.
The woman smiled at me. "You must be quite gifted to have been able to hear me," she said.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"My name is Aqua. I am a Keyblade Master -an advanced Keyblade Wielder- but still very much like yourself," she replied.
"Why are you here? The worlds are disappearing; you could be helping others. Isn't that the duty of a Keyblade Wielder?"
Master Aqua shook her head. "I can't. There's no way for me to leave here."
I looked her over and realized some of her clothes were torn. "H-how long have you been trapped here?"
"Not sure. You can never tell if time passes here."
"How did you get here, then?"
That made her reluctant, but she answered after a few moment's hesitation. "I took a dear friend's place so he wouldn't have to live in Darkness."
She nodded. "But I fear I was too late." She looked into the distance and added, "My time to leave this place will come in good time, so don't worry about me. You need to focus on saving Sora, Riku, and Kairi."
Hearing her mention those three surprised me. "You know them?"
Master Aqua nodded and turned back to me. "I met them many years ago when they were only kids, and I gave Kairi a gift that would protect if anything were to happen."
"Like when her world disappeared and she ended up on Destiny Islands."
"Exactly… And now I will give you a gift as well." Master Aqua stepped off her rock and-standing in front of me- touched the pendent around my neck. It glowed a faint blue for a moment, them dimmed completely.
I lifted up the necklace and studied it. "What happened?"
"I placed a charm on it, so now you won't go through your journey alone. I sense that you are still just learning the powers of the Keyblade, but now you will have me as your guide."
I looked up at her with grateful eyes. "Thank you, Master Aqua," I said, then bowed.
Master Aqua laughed a little. "You are very welcome. Now, return to your friends."
I opened my eyes to find myself lying on my side on the hardwood floor, everyone surrounding me with concerned looks on their faces. "Would ya mind giving me some space, please?" I retorted.
They all sighed in relief and backed away, while Yuffie pulled me to my feet. She led me back to the chair I had originally been sitting in and Aerith handed me a glass of warm tea. I blew on it a little, then took a sip, the smell of cherry-blossoms sweet and calming.
After a few more sips, I eventually put my tea down and turned my attention back to the others. They seemed calmer now that I was conscious, but an sense of unease still remained hanging in the air.
I sighed. "First I could read people's hearts, now I can travel to other worlds spiritually. Ansem the Wise might as well have written up an instruction manual." I took another sip of my tea.
"You did seem pretty empty when you collapsed," Merlin remarked.
Leon nodded in agreement. "So what exactly happened?"
I looked down, going over in my head how I was going to explain it to them. Did they know Master Aqua? Being a Keyblade Wielder, King Mickey more than likely knew, but the others were in question. Only one way to find out, I told myself. I took a deep breath and brought my eyes back to everyone.
"I met Master Aqua."
Unsurprisingly, everyone except Mickey did not respond. The King's eyes grew wide and he gasped, but stayed silent as I continued.
"She knows about the growing darkness in the worlds and said she'd come back in good time." I looked down at my necklace and added, "She gave me a gift so that she could guide me on my mission."
"Tell me," King Mickey said, bringing my eyes back to him. "How did she seem when you saw her?"
I thought for a moment, recalling the gleam in her eyes when she first saw me. "She seemed… hopeful, like I was the first light she had seen in a long time."
There was silence once more until Cid yawned and stretched his arms in the air.
"Well, that's enough excitement for me for one day. Why don't we all get some sleep?"
We all nodded in agreement, while Mickey headed off, saying he would return the next day after reporting back to Master Yen Sid.
As I laid in my bed later that night, I thought over what King Mickey and Master Aqua had told me. Things seemed much worse than Ansem the Wise implied, but perhaps he kept the information he gave me at a minimum so I would be more willing to accept the task. I wanted to evaluate the knowledge I had obtained further, but my body was sore and my eyes grew heavy that soon I was in a deep, peaceful sleep.