A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1094
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

Part Fifteen


The guards stood around and laughed. "Can you swim?" one asked me and I
looked around at the others, alarmed by the question. Another guard mocked
him. "She's a desert rat." He leaned in and sniffed at me. "By the smell of
her I don't think she even knows what water is!"

They all laughed, then one pushed me towards an open grate in the floor. I
sent a message to Tidus with my eyes and he nodded. He smirked and ed
ed
his arms when the guard asked him the same question. "Try it and see."

They took that as a no, pushing him after me and moved on. The others all
were silent, and the guards were foolish enough to think that a trick, until
they reached Wakka. The guards were even merrier. "The Besaid Auroch's
captain."

"I don't think he'll last long down there." said one, and another replied in
the same vein with much laughter. I suspected the fools only gambled on the
results of the games, aware of the Auroch's pathetic record, and never
guessing that Wakka was a finer swimmer than most of the blitzball players
in the league. I had no idea what fate would befall the others, barely
glimpsing them being led away as the three of us were pushed into the hole,
falling endlessly until we hit water.

We were in an enormous sewer system, Bevelle's water supply. The viaducts
stretched in every direction and we treaded water while we decided on a
course. The water was full of fiends, and I'm sure the guards expected us to
be finished off quickly by them, but we persevered. Until we ran into Evrae
again.

It must have fallen into the great body of water from which Bevelle drew
its supply, and had become a fiend. It blocked our path, its vicious fangs
glinting in the underwater light menacingly, its great claws slashing at us.
It was far more formidable dead than it had been when we first encountered
it. That made me think, that this creature belonged in the upper air and
light, and here it was stinking up the underwater with it's death stench.

I swam towards Tidus and when I had his attention I mimed a cut throat with
my hand across my throat then pointed at the fiend. He nodded, and shrugged.
He felt in his pocket and drew a fine white feather from his pocket and
looked questioningly at me. I nodded back. At worst the item would have no
effect.

I swam forward quickly and then feinted right. The creature was drawn by my
movement turning as it slashed at me so Tidus could sneak up on its left.
It's razor-sharp claw connected, drawing a stinging arc across my side, and
I struggled to avoid it's fangs until Wakka threw wildly at it's head. Tidus
was in place and released the feather which drifted slowly through the water
and finally touched the beast. The effect was instantaneous, it thrashed
wildly, churning the water as it screeched it's deatell.ell.

We swam on, finally emerging from the viaduct. I was winded from the long
swim, my muscles aching badly from lack of oxygen and I doubled over taking
deep breaths. There was an exit up ahead, and the others had also made it
here in one piece. I was beginning to hope we were home free, but then we
were met by Kinoc and Seymour once more. Seymour killed the other maester in
cold blood. His insanity had only deepened with time, his death transforming
him into a semblance of the man he'd been. He intended to blame us for
Kinoc's death, safely disposing of a rival and dealing death to us in one
stroke.

Kimahri leapt forward and thrust his spear into Seymour's face, ordering the
rest of us to run. Auron took him at his word, and ordered the rest of us to
follow, but both Tidus and Yuna stopped our headlong flight. Yuna was
undecided, unwilling to leave Kimahri to die alone, yet also afraid that his
death would be in vain if we all suffered the same fate.

Auron was driven by forces that I only guessed at, but Tidus found a
weakness in him to exploit. "A guardian will follow his summoner anywhere."
He told Yuna. Her face lit up and they nodded conspiratorially. Then they
ran back down the hallway to face Seymour and save the Ronso. I followed,
Wakka and Lulu catching up with me. Auron perforce followed in our wake, all
his resolve undone by their plan. Kimahri still stood menacingly over
Seymour but when we entered the room he retreated to a safe distance. I
looked around, we were all together again at last.

Seymour seemed to be deriving more power the longer he was a fiend. Now he
had some kind of aeon with fiendish elements to aid him and our fight
against him was even harder. I was feeling weak after our prison ordeal and
our long swim through the sewers and I did not fare very well during our
battle. Yuna cast a healing spell which I thought would aid me, but instead
I felt my muscles go weak and my head spin. I staggered away and fell to my
knees and Wakka ran by me taking my place in the front line of attack.

I really don't know what happened next, Seymour fell, but we were still in
danger of capture so when someone said 'Run!' I staggered to my feet.
Usually I can outsprint anyone, even Tidus over a short distance, but I fell
behind as we raced along a corridor towards freedom. My vision wavered and I
thought I heard someone call my name.

"I'm coming." I responded but within a few moments found myself on the
ground, getting a close up view of the red carpet that lined this hallway.
I'm not sure how but I pushed myself upright and peered through the blurring
mist that obscured my vision. A shoulder butted me in the stomach, then I
was lifted, a strong arm wrapped around the back of my knees and I found
myself dangling over a broad red back.

The jolting motion as he ran was disconcerting and I prayed I wouldn't get
sick, but my vertigo faded along with consciousness.

I came to when gentle hands peeled my top upwards. I could feel heat
radiating out from my side and heard voices above me.

"Is it bad?" Wakka was asking.

"Evrae." Tidus spoke. I remembered the scratch from the undead dragon's
talons.

Auron sounded anxious as he replied to Tidus comment. "She carried that
wound since Bevelle?"

"No, it was in the water, under the temple. We fought it then."

It was Yuna who had knelt beside me. She began a prayer of healing, but it
made me shiver in agony, curling up on my side and moaning. Yuna broke off
and sounded a little further away when she spoke. "It's not working."

I slipped away from them again. The next time I woke was when Lulu raised me
up, and held some water to my mouth. I drank several mouthfuls, feeling
better, well enough to complain. My side was still sore, butlonglonger
burned with unnatural heat. "Oh my head! What happened to me?"

"Don't worry, we're safe. For now." I was lying under the shelter of the
little tent we'd obtained in the desert. Yuna moved into view and knelt
beside me. "You're feeling better?"

I nodded. "My head hurts."

Yuna let her gentle smile wash over her features. "You should be grateful
for that. We were worried that you wouldn't make it."

I raised myself on my elbows and investigated. There was a deep red line
running down my side, a little raised and puffy but it looked as though it
was healing normally.

"You'll have a scar there I think." Yuna told me.

I nodded. "Was it poisoned?"

"Something...unholy. When I tried to heal you it became worse." Yuna looked
troubled. "It would have turned you into a fiend."

"What did you do?" I asked. I was tiring rapidly, and lay back down but I
wanted to know.

"Thank Tidus. When he told us about the fiend's unnatural state I used some
holy water from the temple."

"Good thing you had some then." Yuna glanced quickly at Lulu then lowered
her eyes.

Lulu asked if I was hungry and I nodded and closed my eyes. When I woke
again it was almost dusk. I sat up feeling very much better and incredibly
hungry. I emerged from my shelter to find Yuna, Tidus and Kimahri were
nowhere in sight. Lulu and Wakka were sitting closely together beside a
small fire. Auron saw me from where he sat a little distance away. He rose
and came over, placing a hand on my shoulder.

"You're alright?" He took a good look at me, examining my face. I couldn't
help smiling and ducking my head at his expression of concern. "Good."

"I'm hungry."

"Lulu saved you something." Before I went in search of food I recalled what
had happened.

"You carried me! I remember..." I was thinking of his comment about carrying
me to Zanarkand that day. I had sorely misjudged him back then. It made me
feel warm inside to think that there would never be any question of tossing
coins if it came to the crunch. He would be there for me and that was
something I had never expected.

He looked disconcerted by my recollection. "I am sorry if that troubles
you..." He began, but I remembered something else. I grabbed his arm and
leant around him to examine the back of his coat. I brushed my hand down it,
but there was nothing to see.

"I wasn't sick was I?"

"I...no." He frowned, puzzled.

"Oh, good." In my relief I hugged his arm, and then smiled up at him. "I
felt dreadful at the time, I was sure I was going to be."

"In that case I'm very glad you weren't. Now go, eat."

I wandered over to the campfire and Lulu sprang up, rescuing a bowl that was
resting near the coals. This was stew again, with some kind of fowl in it.
After the poor rations we'd received over the last few days it tasted like
heaven, and I ate with great enthusiasm. Within moments the bowl was clean.

"Musta been hungry, ya?"

"Mmmmm." I was ready to take stock of our surroundings and the situation
now. "Where's Yuna and Tidus? I need to thank him for saving me."

"They went down to the lake. I'm sure they'll be back soon."

"Oh, okay. What about Kimahri?"

"He'll be around somewhere, keeping watch." He yawned elaborately
stretching. "I'm gonna go get some shut-eye."

Lulu nodded and rose as well. "I will also."

We still had both tents and they'd been set a little apart from each other.
Lulu and Wakka both entered the larger tent, and I watched them with
considerable surprise. I wondered if Lulu was having a change of heart. I
know that the talks we had together in our little cell had affected me, and
perhaps it was the same for her too. Auron had wandered to the very edge of
the clearing and had settled against a tree.

I would have meandered over casually to disguise my intent, but there was no
one left to dissemble to. Auron looked tired, distracted and inattentive. I
crouched beside him, hugging my knees.

"Sir Auron..."

He did not respond, if anything drawing in on himself.

"I'm sorry. You were right, I am hiding from the future. I don't want to
face the possibility of losing you. I didn't mean to hurt you, I just can't
bear it...please forgive me."

"I can't listen to this." He rolled away from me, rising to his feet and
leaving me staring up at his back. "How can I forgive someone if I cannot
forgive myself?"

I gaped at him. I had expected he would forgive me, I had expected that
nothing would come between us, not even death, so his response was like a
drenching in ice cold water.

"I was like you once. I refused to accept...what had to be, and I paid the
price. I cannot forgive myself for making you walk the same path."

"I don't understand."

His face was hidden but his voice was strained with sorrow. "You will."

"I forgive you." I ventured.

"What?"

"I forgive you everything. Everything you've done, everything you will do. I
forgive you all of it. Can't you forgive me?"

He turned to stare at me, a gimlet eye that made me quiver uncertainly on
the ground. "You don't know what I've done."

"It doesn't matter." I smiled tremulously. "E vunkeja oui."

He sighed and looked down, his features softening with thought.
"Perhaps...you're right. Perhaps..." He looked around, then his hand
outstretched towards me. I took it and he raised me up, then led me out of
the clearing, following an overgrown path through the forest.

End of Part Fifteen


Al Bhed primer and translation guide:

E vunkeja oui = I forgive you.


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