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 Twenty-eight

We reached the cloister of trials, a series of puzzles that unlocked the temple seals opening a path down to
the chamber of the fayth below. It seemed too easy after the long road here as we approached the elevated
platform in the centre of the room. It was.

Instead of 'welcoming' us, Lady Yunalesca had sent another fiend to test us. In order to fight we had to run
forward and stand on the glowing platforms that activated the elevator, while the fiend hovered in the
centre blocking our way.

"Don't attack while it faces you!" Auron yelled as he ran around to approach the monster from behind. I
stared at him confused, and then realised what he meant. Together with Braska and Jecht he'd faced this
before, so I took his advice. I ran across and jumped from one platform to the next. Tidus followed suit, and
then we unleashed our attacks upon it. Auron had been right, its tail came up and lashed at the empty
platforms before it, then it turned to face Auron. Again we platform hopped until it was facing the other
way and Tidus struck once more. I noticed that one of the platforms, the one Auron stood on had started to
pulse with light, glowing from beneath the semi-transparent material.

"Guys?"

Auron had stepped forward, his sword raised to attack and didn't hear me, he was concentrating on his
attack. I peered through the semi-transparent material, trying to see what was going on beneath the surface.
Then my mind made an instant mental connection to some of the machina I'd seen in the past.

"Auron! Jump! It's going to blow!"

He looked down at the platform beneath his feet, realising for the first time what was happening. Then he
ran for the other edge and leaped across the gap. He landed in a sideways roll and came to his feet as the
platform he'd been standing on blew apart. Great, I thought, one less place for us to stand.

The fiend turned once more, this time towards where Tidus was and we scrambled away, only to have yet
another platform begin to glow. This time it was mine so I stood back, leaving only Tidus and Auron to
fight. Once they'd each struck the fiend again with their swords Auron turned to Yuna. "Summoner!"

She'd been waiting for the call, her staff at the ready. She ran forward as Tidus moved back and called upon
Valefor, the winged serpent who'd carried her away from Bevelle that day. I firmly believe he was her
favourite, if such a thing is possible between summoner and aeon. The aeon bent his head toward her and
she stroked his neck feathers gently. Then she gestured with her staff. "Go! Fight for us!"

The aeon did her bidding, rising into the air with a leap and hovered, its wings sending a waves of warm air
washing over us as they beat rhythmically to hold its body aloft. Then Valefor dove forward, its claws
tearing and slashing at the fiend's flesh. He reared back ready to strike once more, but neither the aeon nor
Yuna noticed the panel beneath her feet.

"Yuna, look out!"

She turned startled at my cry and when she saw where my gaze was fixed she looked down. She nodded,
and dismissed Valefor just in time because as she stepped back off the panel it too exploded, leaving only
one place out of the fiend's reach. I looked around to see Auron shoulder his weapon once more with a
determined look on his face.

"It didn't beat us last time, it won't now!"

"Eiiiiiiiiyaaaaaaah!" He launched himself forward and laid about him furiously and indiscriminately,
hacking at the monster's forelimbs and neck, blow after blow that rocked it as it tried to unsuccessfully
evade his attack. With a sword as heavy as Auron's it was a monumental effort just to lift it, but for Auron
to wield that heavy blade time and time again put unbearable strain on him.

I counted six hits, then he paused, his sword point down between his feet. He braced himself for one last
effort, and with both hands heaved, the sword cutting an arc as it swung upwards, piercing the fiend's neck
and slicing through its face. The sword reached the apex of its arc above Auron's head, and with nowhere
else to go began to fall backwards, taking him with it.

He hit the platform hard and his sword rang out a moment later as it struck the ground. There was no
danger to him as the fiend howled in frustrated agony, its face ruined by his final blow. Kimahri and Wakka
had run around to the rear and began a further assault to distract the beast, allowing Auron to rise and
retrieve his weapon. Then it was all over. One last lunge and Kimahri pierced the breastbone of the fiend,
now incapable of seeing to dodge his attack. He twisted the point and reefed it back, tearing its heart from
its moorings. The fiend disintigrated into pinpoints of light that wavered and danced in the air until they too
dissipated away.

I ran to Auron and patted his coat. "Are you alright?"

He collected himself together.

"Fine." Then he strode forward and addressed Yuna. "We're here. Go."

She bowed. "Yes, alright."

Despite looking slightly apprehensive she moved forward and stood on the elevator which descended. We
waited. After a while the sound of machina drifted upwards as the elevator ascended once more.

A ghost flickered into being before us. "What do you mean there's no final aeon?"

It was Jecht's voice. Then Yuna appeared as the platform rose. "Sir Auron! Everyone, come quick!"

I looked back to the fading apparition of Tidus's father, then followed the others. Below there was an
archway that led into the chamber of the fayth. We entered behind Yuna who stood before a statue of a
man, a statue that was crumbling with age.

"This is not a fayth! It's just an empty statue."

The ghost of the old man who greeted us outside the dome appeared once more. "That statue lost its power
as a fayth long ago. It is Lord Zaon, the first fayth of the final summoning. Lord Zaon's soul is gone."

"Gone?"

"Do you mean there's no final aeon?" I asked, confused, looking from him to Auron.

He hastened to reassure us, although his words were anything but reassuring. "But do not fear. Lady
Yunalesca will show you the way. The final aeon will be yours. Go to her now. Inside, the Lady awaits
you."

He vanished once more, and Yuna braced herself. She began to walk forward, but Tidus stopped her.
"Yuna wait! Auron, you knew this was going to happen, didn't you?"

His reply was simple. "Yes."

"Why didn't you tell us?" I asked him.

He looked at me then towards Yuna. "If I had, would that have stopped you from coming here?"

"I'm not turning back." Yuna replied.

"Kimahri knows. Kimahri goes first. Yuna is safe." The Ronso decided and stepped forward, preceding
Yuna through the doorway. Auron followed while the rest of us trailed after them.

The room we entered led up to a stairway with a large set of double doors at the top. It was dark in here, so
it took some time to realise that although the doors above did not open something was moving up there,
descending the stairs towards us. Pyreflies swirled and coalesced, then a beautiful woman was walking
gracefully towards us.

"Lady Yunalesca." Yuna greeted her.

The long dead summoner began to speak.

"Welcome to Zanarkand. I congratulate you, summoner. You have completed your pilgrimage. I will now
bestow you with that which you seek. The Final Summoning will be yours."

"Now, choose." She walked closer to us, so I could see her face. Beautiful and expressionless, her words
continued without emotion.

"You must choose the one whom I will change...to become the fayth of the Final Summoning."

I gasped and looked around me to see the shock I felt mirrored on everyone's faces, everyone except Auron,
who looked grim and severe as he stared at Yunalesca, and Yunalesca herself, who continued as though she
was discussing nothing of more import than idle gossip between friends.

"There must be a bond, between chosen and summoner, for that is what the Final Summoning embodies:
the bond between husband and wife, mother and child, or between friends. If that bond is strong enough, its
light con conquer Sin."

She raised her voice. "A thousand years ago, I chose my husband Zaon as my fayth. Our bond was true, and
I obtained the Final Aeon. There is nothing to fear, you will soon be freed of worry and pain, for once you
call forth the Final Aeon...your life will end. Death is the ultimate and final liberation. Your father, Braska,
chose this path."

She walked away, leaving us staring after her in horror. Then Braska appeared before me, his face worn
with sorrow. I startled and jumped back, looking around to see Auron, that younger Auron from the spheres
we'd seen remonstrating with his summoner.

"It's not too late! Let us turn back!"

"If I go back now, who will defeat Sin? Would you have another summoner and his guardians go through
this?"

"But my Lord, there must be another way."

They stared at each other, each understanding the truth and neither able to give in. Then Jecht intervened.

"This is the only way we've got now. Braska...make me the fayth."

The ghostly Auron and Braska both turned their heads to look at the blitzball player from Zanarkand.

"I've been thinking. My dream is back in the other Zanarkand. I wanted to see my kid grow up, become a
star blitzball player...but that dream is gone now. I'm never going back. So make me the fayth. I'll fight Sin
with you, Braska."

Auron continued to argue. "Don't do this, Jecht! If you live...there may be another way!"

"Believe me, I've thought this through. Besides, I'm not getting any younger, so I might as well make
myself useful."

Braska walked up to Jecht and stared at him gravely. "Jecht..."

"What? You're not going to try and stop me too, are you?

"Sorry...I mean, thank you."

Jecht turned to the Auron. "Braska still has to fight Sin, Auron. Guard him well, make sure he gets there."

Then they turned, leaving Auron standing there, alone. He tried once more to avert their fate. "Lord Braska!
Jecht!"

When they turned he continued earnestly. "Sin always comes back! It comes back after the calm, every
time. The cycle will continue and your deaths will mean nothing!"

"There's always a chance that it won't come back this time. We have to try." I could see how much Braska
wanted to believe is trs true. But Jecht was thinking about Auron's words. I think perhaps because he came
from another world he succeeded in seeing past the veil of lies and secrecy that had been cast over Spira for
a thousand years.

"I understand what you're saying Auron. I'm going to find a way to break the cycle."

"You have a plan?" Auron asked him.

"Trust me, I'll think of something." And Jecht laughed. I looked at Tidus who was watching with a strange
mix of pride and sorrow on his face. He was so like his father. The Auron from before was on his knees,
alone, his head bowed. Auron gave a strangled little cry and raised his sword, slashing at his ghostly
reflection in anguish. Eventually it too faded after awhile.

Auron, sounding defeated, stared the point where his memory had been. "And the cycle continued."

"We'll break it!" That was Tidus.

"But how? What, you got a plan now?" Wakka asked.

Lulu stepped forward. "If someone has to become the final aeon, I volunteer."

"Me too, Yuna." Wakka added.

"That won't change anything!" Tidus yelled. "You'll bring the calm and then what? Sin will just keep
coming back. I'm not going to stand here and just let Yuna go...and what Auron said about there being a
way...I believe it's true."

"You'll think of something?" I asked him, wanting to believe it too. But after seeing what happened to Jecht
and Braska despite Jecht's brave words I was no longer content to trust to faith. I wanted a plan, not just
faith and rhetoric.

"I'll go ask Yunalesca. She's got to know something."

"Do you think she'll help?" I asked him.

"I don't know, but I have to try. I won't let this end the way it did...for my old man."

Yuna had been listening silently to our words. She began to speak slowly, her thoughts emerging to the
surface. "It would be so easy, to let my fate carry me away. I've been following this same path my whole
life, but I now know I can't...go on without knowing the truth. What I do, I will do with no regrets."

So we went on, to confront Lady Yunalesca.




End of Part Twenty-eight


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