Designed To Fade

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 488
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.

Part 11

XxxxxxXxxxxxX


I do not have very much to pack. My sword is my own, and I have my clothes on my back. The tokkuri was a gag gift, but it will come in useful despite the fact that it was a joke. The only time I'd drunk sake I'd had barely three thimblefuls of the stuff and all I could recollect afterwards was stumbling to the ground outside the tavern, throwing up violently and unpleasantly, and then waking with a rottendachdache the next day. Wen thought it was funny and commemorated the episode by buying me a jug full of the liquor, which he'd proceeded to drink on my behalf.

Loud footsteps approached my cthenthen the door banged open. "Auron! You won't believe the nonsense I just heard!"

I look up at him and he takes in my attitude, the monk's robe folded neatly on my bed and his words falter. "They say you've refused her...you can't be serious!

"For Yevon's sake, Auron. How hard can it be? Marriage isn't that bad a deal." I don't reply, and he comes over and puts a hand on my shoulder. "So she's no raving beauty, it's not going to matter with the lights out."

"If you think I'd marry under such circumstances you don't know me well enough, Kinoc."

"But they'll crucify you!"

"As you can no doubt see, I'm not planning on hanging around for the exion.ion."

"You're leaving too? Where will you go?"

"Zanarkand."

"What! But that's insane! You're not some fool to go wasting your life on a fool's pilgrimage..."

"I have already asked and answered, it is too late to undo."

"Who is the summoner?"

"Lord Braska."

"Braska? The heretic? Do you know he's an Al Bhed lover?"

Kinoc sits on my bed, settling in to tell me the story. Kinoc always had a way with words, persuasive, charming and erudite. I listen with interest as he continues. "He married an Al Bhed woman then went around flaunting the relationship without shame. He was supposed to be brought before the clergy but never stayed in one place long enough to be apprehended.

"Then he was taken in at Luca, after seeing his wife and child off, on an Al Bhed ship mind you. While he was being questioned some fool came in and said the ship his wife and daugher was on was lost at sea. And Braska walked out, just like that. Never mind he was in the custody of the warrior monks, no one who tried to stop him could lay a hand on him. He went running down to the dock and someone there handed him the baby from the marriage, saved by the grace of Yevon no doubt, and Braska held the tiny squalling thing and began to say the same thing, over and over again."

Wen pauses for effect. "'I will defeat Sin. I must defeat Sin.' And after that no one could get through to him. They took him to Maester Mika and Braska stood there as cool as you please, and told him he was going to face and defeat Sin, and Mika would be a fool to try to stop him....

"He called the Grand Maester a fool to his very face! If the man hadn't been demented by his loss he'd have been executed for that alone. Maester Mika took pity on him and dropped the charges of heresy, but I can tell you right now it was only because Mika knew he'd go off on pilgrimage, the man would have been too dangerous to let run around loose otherwise. And you're going with him?"

Kinoc's story is enlightening, but it does not deter me. "Yes. He must finish his training, but I will be going with him when he is ready."

I fasten my tokkuri to my belt and I am ready to leave the temple. Kinoc follows me out to the courtyard. I know he would like to argue further, to remind me of the plans he'd concocted for us, to become the youngest Maesters in Yevon's long history. He was always the ambitious one. But he also always knew when to quit, when arguing is a wasted effort. "At least you'll come to say goodbye I hope, before you leave."

"Yes. I promise to see you again before I go."

"Alright then. And if you need anything...Auron, you know you only have to ask."

"I...thank you. You have always been a good friend."

He nods and that is it, I am free of all obligation except that to my summoner. I feel lighter than I can ever recall in my life, and make my way through Bevelle, surprised at the relief I feel at my change in circumstance.


XxxxxxXxxxxxX
SECTION 24

The boy is full of himself, cock-sure and smart-mouthed, just like his father. He runs forward and slashes at the fiend but his sword glances off its hardened shell, unable to pierce its armour.

I shift my grip bringing my other hand up to the hilt of my sword, then focus my energy, visualising the thin edge of my blade, a sharpness that can cut through anything and everything. I am not so fast nor agile but it is of no consequence. My sword slashes an arc that cuts the very air instead of moving through it. The fiend can neither evade nor defend itself and explodes into a thousand lights that drift away.

"See? Sir Auron is the best guardian that ever lived."

I look back to see Wakka loudly proclaiming my supposed exploits. It is strange, disconcerting to be so highly regarded. I know it is unwarranted, but it occurs to me that we were all probably brought back into Yevon's fold in the wake of our 'success', reclaimed from our heresies in death to maintain the beautiful illusion that Yevon created. There is no point trying to enlighten him to the truth, he will either see or not see, in time. When we reach Zanarkand will be soon enough for all of them to learn exactly what lies at the heart of Yevon.


XxxxxxXxxxxxX


The fiend whirls like a dervish, crackling and hissing through the air as it launches itself directly towards Jecht. He is agile, jumping out of the way at the last moment, and bringing his sword up to slash horizontally across its eyes. It is a mistake, and a bad one.

A lava-like stream of ichor erupts from the fies rus ruined eyeball, coating his sword, running down the hilt and over his hand and arm. He lets out a strangled yell as he drops to his knees. I run forward and slash at the disabled fiend, hoping to destroy it, but although my blade cuts a gouge through its underbelly it still hovers in the air, ballooning out to massive proportions as it is enraged by the insult to its flesh.

Braska turns towards Jecht, raising his staff and beginning a prayer of healing. The seconend end glows a deeper, darker red as it prepares to charge towards him, and I know that he is defenceless and unable to evade its attack, so I do the only thing I can, placing myself between him and the fiend. I bring my sword up from left to right and deliver a glancing blow with the flat of the blade, diverting its course and only receive a long grazing burn of heat across my upper arm in return. It stings and burns like hellfire but unlike Jecht I manage to retain my grip on my sword.

Jecht retrieves his sword and stands again, but the first fiend chooses to attack him once more. This time I am too slow to intervene, although I try, and Jecht, woozy from the last attack is not so quick to evade. This time the fiend delivers a forceful blow to his chest and he drops like a stone under the onslaught, landing flat on his back. Braska, aware of the damage that I'd suffered turned to me indecisively, but I waved him off.

"See to Jecht."

He nods, and turns once more, and this time my determination lends me strength. I again attack the weakest fiend and this time my blow sends it reeling to earth. One down, one to go.

I turn and run back to my place beside Braska, watching for the other fiend's counter-move. This time it perceives me as the greatest threat and attacks accordingly. I do not make the same mistake Jecht did, waiting until it is almost upon me to jump sideways, turning as it passes me and bringing my sword around to slash through the rear of the creature's body. It shrieks, a high pitched hissing of gas escaping from its wound but it is already past me and all I feel is a wash of heated air as it turns and faces us once more.

I don't give it time to strike again, rushing it and when it launches itself skywards I alter the angle of my sword stroke, bringing it up almost vertically at full reach. Despite its evasive manouvre I manage to do moderate damage. One more hit should be enough. Jecht is standing, although he is swaying slightly on his feet and looking quite chagrined at the course of this battle.

Braska raises his staff again, but this time in the fiend's direction. I feel a blast of cold air shoot forward from his hands and cold blue crystals begin to form in the air around the fiend. It is enough. The fiend breaks apart and pyreflies emerge, faint blurs of colour that twist and drift slowly out of existence.

I let my sword drop point first to the ground and lean against it, the threat over for now. Jecht however throws his own sword onto the ground in disgust.

"Damn, I hate this! And I'm beginning to really hate fire."

He collapses to sit cross-legged in the centre of the road, and occasionally shivers in reaction. Braska rests his palm on his shoulder. "You were just unfortunate. Things will get better, I promise."

He turns to me then, and on seeing the state I am in shows some alarm as he hastens to stand in front of me. I drop my head to gaze at the ground as his hand brushes over my shoulder. My attitude that causes him to take a half step backward before beginning the prayer of healing. I know that he sees my shame and regret, but he does not guess the cause. I can say nothing, and my silence only makes this distance grow between us.

Jecht watches us with uncomprehending eyes, his mind still on the battle. "You might war warned me about that."

He is looking at me and I frown at his assumption that I was somehow supposed to predict his actions.

"If I'd known you were going to try and poke its eye out I would have." I reply shortly. Braska looks towards Jecht, his hand falling from my shoulder.

"Perhaps Auron should continue your sword lessons?"

"Yeah, maybe." Jecht picks his sword up out of the dust, examining the blade and slashing experimentally at the air. "Well, we ready?"

Braska nods and we continue on ouy aly along the highroad.

XxxxxxXxxxxxX

End of Part 11


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