A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1082
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 Twenty-five

Dark fire rained down, scorching the snow and searing us with cold fury. Seymour was terrible, sick and
twisted, he hovered above us supported within a metal contraption formed from some kind of
amalgamation of human and fiendish elements. Lulu was preparing a spell, binding it in her hands as she
chanted, then hurling a glowing ball of darkness towards him.

As she released it Auron hefted his sword and began to run forward, dodging the shafts of Seymour's spell
as they hit the snow, sending spumes of acrid steam as it melted underfoot. When he reached Seymour, he
raised his sword in both hands delivering a powerful blow that clove the metal in two, and caused the
framework supporting Seymour in the air to dip and sway as he almost fell.

Auron turned, about to weave his way back towards us, now that Seymour's destructive spell had been
halted, but Seymour righted himself, his hand slashing downwards in a sharp arc. A bolt of ice, as long as a
lance shot through the air, piercing Auron through the chest as his body arched and fell, face forward into
the snow.

"Auron!" Tidus shouted, running forward. "Seymour! You'll pay for this!"

I gasped in horror, and began to run forward, but before I'd taken two steps Kimahri tackled me to the
snow, his velvet paw a heavy weight on my back, holding me down when I would have risen again. "Rikku
wait. Yuna summon." His cat-like breath was hot against my ear as I turned to see that Yuna had stepped
forward once more, her staff raised in the formal attitude she adopted as she prayed to the fayth.

Seymour let loose a maniacal laugh. He'd mastered a spell of dismissal that banished Yuna's aeons every
time she summoned them to aid us. This was it, the last aeon that Yuna could summon before it too was
gone. The dragon Bahamut was strong, I hoped it would do a lot of damage before Seymour sent it away.

I turned my eyes towards Auron, who lay unmoving in the snow. The shard of ice had shattered as he fell,
but a dark crimson shadow was creeping out from beneath his coat, staining the ice with his blood. I was
praying to all that was holy that he could hold on, until we could reach him. I watched him for movement,
for signs of life. His hair rippled in the cold wind but he did not move. Tears shimmered in my eyes, so I
didn't realise at first that a cold white glow was forming around my hands. I'd seen that white light before
but only in Yuna's hands.

I'd learned the most basic of white magic and was able to cure myself and others, competently if not at the
level that Yuna was capable of. I was still working on the null elemental spell, hoping to protect myself
from lightning, but I had no idea I could do what I was doing. It was possible with the recently dead to
revive them, if the material binding the spirit to the flesh had not loosened. I had seen Yuna use this spell,
her hands drawing forth a holy light and restoring life.

She'd described white magic to us once while trying to explain how to learn to cure someone. 'It doesn't use
your own strength. It's like a smile.' Tidus had scoffed but she'd smiled in the firelight and he'd gazed back
at her as his own features softened into a frankly admiring gaze. 'If you're happy and you smile at someone,
and they smile back, it doesn't make you less happy. That's what it's like.'

The memory stayed with me as I concentrated on sending the white light, the holy power towards Auron. It
brightened the snow, a line of light that glowed along the crystals between us, then formed a shield around
his body, finally dissipating as his gloved hand clenched in the snow, moving towards his fallen sword. I
gasped and let my head fall forward onto the snow, cooling my overheated brow. We still had to defeat
Seymour.

"C'mon, Kimahri. Let's get him."

He grunted and let go of me, and I readied my weapon. Bahamat was clawing the ground as it let loose a
blast of flame, searing and blackening the shell that contained our enemy. Seymour raised his hands and
chanted a few sonorous words in some ancient language. Bahamut vanished, although Seymour was now
visibly weakening, wobbling in the air. Wakka threw his ball which pounded into the maester and almost
span him around before he righted himself again.

"Ready?" I asked, and Kimahri nodded. We wove our way forward, separating to confuse Seymour so he
wouldn't know which of us to target. Our tactic worked, and his indecision cost him. I leapt up and twirled,
striking him hard and drawing blood where my claw struck. Kimahri came in on my right and jabbed the
maester through the chest with his lance, and Seymour went tumbling into the chasm below, a stream of
pyreflies rising slowly in a quiet dance.

"And stay up there!" Tidus shouted defiantly, shaking his sword in the air. We were all pretty ragged after
the battle. Auron leaned on his sword, looking cool and unruffled despite the jagged rent in his armour and
the darker stain on his coat. Tidus panted hard as he turned away from the edge. We began to move towards
the shelter of the cave above but realised Yuna hadn't taken a step.

"He will become Sin... with my help."

"Lies. Forget them." Auron told her.

"If he becomes Sin, Sir Jecht will be saved."

"We're leaving."

"You know something! Tell me!" I stared at him. He was facing away from her, his face shuttered, silently
refusing to answer.

"Tell me!"

Tidus looked troubled, then he spoke instead, as if confessing a terrible deed. "Sin's...my old man."

I was shocked at his words. His father? Lord Braska's other guardian was Sin? It was simply unbelievable.
"I felt him, inside Sin, and when I did, I knew it was true."

There was a brief pause. "I'm Sorry."

Yuna seemed to absorb this silently for a while then she trembled. "Knowing that Sin is your father...still,
you know what I must...do."

"I know." Tidus replied.

"You'd fight your own father?" Lulu asked and Tidus nodded.

"Yeah. No problem there."

Wakka sounded as confused as I felt. "Uh...You sure this ain't some kinda bad toxin dream or something? I,
uh... I think I'll just pretend I didn't hear nothing."

Wakka still had a bit of a problem with denial even after everything we'd been through. "Why... Why'd all
this have to happen?"

"We'll learn when we arrive. Soon." Auron finally spoke.

I stared after him in wonderment as he turned and began to walk away. Again, he seemed to know
everything but told us nothing. The others followed him, seeming to accept this, and realising I was being
left behind I followed my thoughts whirling.

Auron must have known all along about Jecht being Sin. Why did he tell Tidus but didn't tell us? Why did
he hide it? What else did he know that he wasn't telling? Braska, Jecht and Auron had defeated Sin ten
years ago, but Jecht was now Sin.

It changed everything. Everything I thought I knew about the world, about Sin and about our pilgrimage
was suddenly wrong. I didn't understand any of it and it made me angry. Auron knew but he wasn't telling.
I loved him but I found myself realising that I didn't understand him either. I didn't understand how he
could have known something like this but not told anyone.

That was when we saw the fayth. Entombed in ice, there were hundreds of them, their bodies twisted in
agony as they dreamed. A pillar of energy rose from the ground, swirling and changing as it shifted.

"A summoning! Someone is using these fayth, drawing energy from all of them!"

"This many?" I asked. I'd never heard of such a thing being possible. I knew the aeons were drawn from a
single fayth, I couldn't begin to imagine the power drawn from so many in one place.

"Who wields power on such a scale," Lulu asked. "and what could they be summoning?"

I looked at Auron who if anything looked bored by the discussion. I ran right up to him. "Hey, you know
something, don't you? Tell us!" I demanded but he ignored me, walking away.

"Look not to others for answers. This is your journey too."

I cast around for a reason to stop him but Tidus interrupted me. "No...Auron's right." Then he walked up to
the wall of fayth, and reached out. When his hand touched the ice, it seemed to run through him, he
stiffened and fell backwards into the snow.

"Tidus!" I ran forward, and peered at him. He was still breathing, but his eyes were closed, his pupils
moving back and forward rapidly as if he was dreaming. The others gathered round and Yuna sank to her
knees beside him, taking his hand.

"Tidus! Tidus!" When he didn't respond she looked up at us. "What happened to him?"

"Beats me." Wakka shrugged. "He just touched the wall, then he collapsed, ya?"

He looked round and I nodded agreement. That was exactly what happened. "Is he dreaming?"

I leaned over him. "Wake up! Wake up!" Yuna looked at me for a moment then she did the same, leaning
over his face.

"Wake up! Wake up, please!" And he did, just like that, opening his eyes and sitting up. Yuna moved back
and he sprang to his feet as if nothing had happened. "Are you alright?"

"I...I'm okay." He replied, sounding a bit confused.

"What happened to you?"

"Nothing. I just blacked out...I was dreaming." There was something odd about the way he said it,
reassuring us that everything was fine, as if suddenly falling asleep like that was normal. But he said he was
fine so we went on.

We were all weary after the battle with Seymour so we set up camp as soon as we found a dry and
defensible position after entering the cavern. Auron took up his usual position, leaning against the cave
wall and watching as Lulu, Wakka and Yuna built the campfire and set about preparing a meal. We didn't
talk much. Seymour's words had effectively divided us, leaving us all struggling separately to understand
the impact of what we'd learned today.

I rummaged in my pack, sorting through some of the items I'd collected while we were in the Calm Lands
and set my crucible into the fire. I'd amassed enough items to attempt some modifications to our weapons,
and I wanted to strengthen Tidus's weapon and then my own.

I knew I was lying to myself, it was just a method of avoidance. I felt kind of sick, and could barely eat my
portion of food. I also just wanted to curl up and fall asleep, so I had to force myself to finish my
preparations, heating the gems I'd selected and then drawing Tidus's sword through the heated liquid until
the metal absorbed it. Then I did the same with my own weapon. By the time I'd finished Tidus was sitting
guard and staring silently into the fire. Kimahri was awake, crouched on his haunches with his lance at the
ready, but he too was silent.

Everyone else had found a place to lie down to rest, and I was ready to join them. I didn't want to feel
alone. I know it didn't make much sense, but even though I was upset with Auron, I wanted him to hold me.
I don't think he was asleep, but he didn't respond until I put my arm around him. He turned and I buried my
face in the shelter of his shoulder, hugging him tightly and finding myself close to tears.

I was afraid of not loving him any more. He had doubted my love from the beginning, had known this
moment was coming and hadn't believed my love would pass this test of faith. I thought I still loved him, I
just didn't know if I could forgive his silence.

The next day we continued through the cave. We were a damp and joyless party by the end of it, as sections
of the cave were completely submerged and we had to wade through deep water and were even forced to
swim in places to pass through. Despite our efforts our food pack was soaked. Almost everything we had
was spoiled, other than some biscuits only the tea had survived. Kimahri speared some fish from one of the
deep pools in the cave, so we wouldn't go hungry that night, but the prospects were grim for the next day
and beyond.

As we reached the exit to the cave Auron spoke from behind. "They'll be upon us soon. She has sent fiends
to test our summoner's strength."

I looked back. Yuna turned to face him. "Who is she?"

"Yunalesca."

"Lady Yunalesca is alive?"

"As much as Mika, and Seymour."

"I see." Her disillusionment was clear in her voice.

"Lost your nerve?"

"No." Her voice was firm. "Nothing frightens me now."

He gazed at her for a long moment. "Braska would be proud."

We finally emerged on the plateau at sunset. A path led down the side of the mountain to Zanarkand, which
glowed redly in the dying light of the day. Despite the beauty of the sky that shone with myriad shades of
rose and gold a pall lay over the atmosphere, a chill that only emphasised the shadows that stretched toward
us from the fallen towers of the ruined city. Zanarkand was a silent tomb that beckoned us toward death.

I shivered fitfully, staring down. Auron strode forward, then he shouted. "It comes!"

A massive beast appeared on the path before us, towering overhead. It was like a dragon, only with
deformed wings and a hideous visage. Yuna ran into the front line, as did Tidus and Wakka.

"Go Yuna!" Tidus called, and she nodded and raised her staff, performing the ritual that called her aeons
when needed. One after the other she called upon them, only to watch them fall as the fiend retaliated.
Tidus raced forward and slashed furiously with his sword, then moved back to let Lulu cast a spell. She
chanted briefly, then the air seemed to thin and grow dark, fading in on itself as it centred upon the beast. A
fury of fire unleashed from that spot, blackening the creature's hide and forcing it down on one knee.

Yuna had not yet exhausted her summoning abilities but she stood back to cast a healing spell on Tidus
who had been injured by the dragon-beast's attack. He turned and looked at Auron, who waited with his
sword at the ready. He nodded once then jumped back as Auron ran forward, aiming a blow at the dragon's
other claw. It screamed in outrage as one talon was partially severed, raising its head and emitting a blast of
noxious fire and fumes. Auron ducked and rolled beneath the onslaught and Yuna ran forward and
summoned once more.

Shiva's ice-cold glare summed up her opponent, then she danced forward, spinning gracefully as her arm
slashed downwards, striking the fiend with precision across the face. She was beautiful, deadly and fast,
dancing in three times in succession before the beast retaliated. She evaded his now clumsy attempt to
strike back, and Yuna sent her forward once more, and the creature exploded in a burst of pyreflies.

I was disappointed, neither I nor Kimahri had taken part in the battle and now that it was over I realised I
wanted to lash out at something. It would have deflected some of my uncertainty and anger.

Now that the fiend was gone we took stock once more of our surroundings. Tidus and Wakka walked
forward to look down upon the ruins.

"We're almost there, aren't we?" Tidus reflected.

"We've come a long way."

Auron laughed quietly.

"What's so funny?" Tidus challenged him.

"You remind me of myself. Before, the closer we came to Zanarkand the more I wondered. Braska will call
the final aeon and will die. I thought my mind was made up long before, but as I stood here I realised...my
resolve wavered."

"Even legendary guardians choke sometimes, huh?"

"Legendary guardian? I was just a boy. I wanted to change the world, too, but I changed nothing. That is
my story."

He walked off while we stared after him shocked by the bitter tone of his words. He'd told me something
similar on the way up Gagazet but then he'd been different, kinder. These last few days had taken their toll
on him even more than the rest of us, and the closer we came to Zanarkand the greater the strain became.
We were almost at the breaking point.

End of Part Twenty-five



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