A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1111
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-two


I leaned against the wall trying to catch my breath. We'd faced battle after
battle as we ran into fiends on our way through the cavern. Others had
rushed after us and we'd had to turn and fight them. They'd crawled out of
cracks and crevices and had swarmed down the walls from above.

Eventually we abandoned caution and just ran for it, trying to outrun as
many fiends as we could. The path had widened into a small cavern and we'd
stopped to rest for a few moments. There was a transporter pad on the floor
but it wouldn't work, remaining obstinately dark despite our efforts to
activate it.

I looked around. The transporter was the only sign that humans had ever been
here. The walls were naturally hewn, glittering with the moisture that
seeped out of the rock, the floor uneven. "Why would a fayth be here?"

"It was stolen from a temple long ago..." Lulu replied.

"With no fayth, summoners cannot train." Auron stated. "Without training
they cannot summon the final aeon. And without the final aeon, they cannot
defeat Sin. That is why."

"'Cause then the summoner won't die!" I understood what he was saying.

"That must be what the thief was thinking." Wakka responded.

After a moment Tidus said he agreed with him. I did too, but here we were
anyway, seeking out all the fayth so Yuna could summon the final aeon. It
didn't make much sense, but not much did these days.

Tidus had been trying to activate the panel on the floor but eventually
stood and kicked at the ground disgustedly. "It's no good. I guess we'll
have to walk instead."

"Walk, or run?" Lulu questioned. She had a point. There were so many fiends
here our best hope was to outrun as many as we could.

"Alright, we move quickly. If we are engaged in battle we must cut our way
through. You remember that, don't you Tidus?"

"Yeah, I know, I know. 'Fight only the ones that matter.' Tidus responded to
Auron's question. "How could I forget?"

Auron moved forward toward the passage leading into the cave beyond,
unlimbering his sword where he'd rested it on his shoulder.

"Kimahri, if you, Lulu and Tidus go in first, Wakka, Rikku and I will take
the rear. If you're engaged in battle we'll push past you and attack the
fiends from the rear until you can follow us through. Yuna, you stay between
the two groups regardless of which group is leading. You'll be able to
render aid to either party if needed. Our objective is to keep moving as
quickly as we can, regardless of which group is leading the party."

Everyone listened respectfully to Auron's plan and Kimahri nodded assent
when he'd finished outlining his strategy. We lined up in our assigned
positions, Tidus looking back and winking at Yuna who stood with her staff
at the ready between us. She smiled back at him, and when we were all ready
Auron gave the command.

"Go!"

Auron's strategy worked well, we outran the fiends we could, and those we
couldn't avoid our front row held at bay while the others pushed through our
ranks. They would then strike the fiends from behind allowing the rest of
our party to slip thh. Th. Then we would run.

Our progress through the cavern was swift, until we reached a crossroads.
Tidus looked left and right and gave an exasperated sigh. "Now what?"

I pushed forward to take a look. Ahead the passage continued for a short
distance before it petered out, but the paths left and right both seemed to
continue indefinitely. I turned to Lulu who shook her head at our combined
gazes.

"It's been so long. I really don't remember which way to go."

"We can't just stand here," Auron stated, and the scrabbling of claws in the
passage behind us punctuated his words. "forward."

He pointed with his sword at the opening ahead so we continued until we
reached a dead end. It was a safer place until we made a decision, since the
fiends could only attack us from one direction.

There wapilepile of rubble behind a rock and I went over to investigate. I
crouched down on my heels and almost fell backwards when I saw the bones
showing through the pile of stones and dust. A burial mound. I was about to
turn away when I saw the edge of a small chest half buried beside the
remains. I was careful not to disturb the skeleton as I levered it clear, as
I did not want the spirit of ther unr unfortunate who lay here angered at my
intrusion, but I wanted to see what was in the box.

I placed it on the rock beside me and after a few minutes tinkering with the
lock the lid snapped back, revealing several phials of a very strong looking
potion.

"Rikku, what are you doing?"

I turned and smiled, raising the plundered goods. "I found treasure."

Then I felt a cold tendril slither down my back.

"Aaaaah!" I screamed and bolted towards the others, sure that a ghoul had
dragged its ghostly fingers across my shoulder but when I turned at their
startled expressions there was nothing behind me. I reached around my
shoulder finding my shirt cold and damp. It must have been cold moisture
dripping from the roof of the cave. My heart was still pounding from fear.

"Stop freaking out, would you?" Tidus said. "You're making me nervous."

"Sorry. Sorry. It'st tst there's this dead guy back there." I laughed a
little, nervously. "He wasn't buried very well."

Yuna gave me a solemn look and raised her staff, stepping carefully over to
the side of the cavern and gazed down. After a moment she spoke. "I will
perform a sending, although I'm afraid it may be far too late."

Auron looked pained at her words and drew me away, his arm across my
shoulders. "While you were exploring over there we've come to a decision, of
sorts.

"It doesn't make sense for all of us to struggle down one of these paths if
it turns out to be the wrong way."

I nodded in response, since it made a lot of sense to me. "But, I don't want
to split up and go in different directions, so the rest of us will wait
here." His look was serious as he continued. "You and Tidus are the fastest
runners. I want you to take one of the passages as far as you can, see if it
leads anywhere. We'll be here waiting for you."

He didn't look happy about it, but I nodded again, certain it was the best
choice under the circumstances. He took my chin in his hand and added "No
heroics. I want you both back here safely."

His concern melted my heart a little, but I wasn't afraid. "Of course! Don't
worry about a thing."

I still had the potions in my hand that I'd taken from the chest so I handed
them to him. "Look after these for me, until I get back."

I took off my backpack and stuffed several ordinary potions in my pockets
and two grenades in the pouch strapped to my thigh. Tidus walked over to us
and I looked up to see Yuna humming the hymn of the fayth, attempting to
enter the light trance that would allow her to begin the sending. Wakka and
Lulu were setting up a camp, arranging stones in a circle for a fire.

Yuna stepped back, her song fading away, defeated. "It's no use. The spirit
here is long gone, to the farplane or as a fiend, I cannot tell."

She turned and watched us as we readied ourselves. Auron's expression of
concern hadn't lessened. "Kimahri could go with you, it would be safer, even
if you aren't as fast."

The blue Ronso nodded but Tidus shook his head. "We'll be okay. You ready,
kiddo?"

The last was directed at me. I patted my pockets once more, making sure my
inventory was complete then stood and shouldered my pack. "All set."

He grinned, a wide smile that split his features with eagerness. "Okay,
let's go."

Yuna called out "Be careful!"

He turned and winked at her. "No problem." Then he added, with a smirk
"Don't worry! Auron has enough grey hair for all of us."

Auron huffed at him. "Most of them are on your account. If you were less
reckless I wouldn't have to worry."

Tidus took the warning with a goodnatured nod then we set off. When we
reached the intersection Tidus pointed left and I shrugged. "Ready, set,
go." he whispered, and then we began to run.

Our footfalls fell lightly as we raced along the passageway, and although
our initial pace had slowed we were faster than any of the fiends that slid
out of fissures in the walls or clambered out of hiding from the rocks
scattered around the floor. Within half an hour we came to the end. A room
opened out at the end of the path but there were no other openings large
enough for more than a small lizard to crawl through. I did find another
treasure chest and cracked it open while Tidus stood guard. It yielded some
strange looking spheres. They we't m't message spheres but I wasn't sure what
their purpose was.

While I did so a Lamashtu skittered across the cave and lunged at Tidus. He
dodged its talons and called to me "Ahhh, Rikku? Are you nearly done, 'cause
we've got company."

I looked around and saw another shadow moving near the back of the cave and
a pair of gleaming yellow eyes. I scrambled back to my feet, the spheres in
hand. "Yep, let's get out of here."

A scratching sound and a fall of stones behind me indicated yet another
threat lurking in the dark shadows surrounding us. I felt creeping fingers
on my spine as my hair lifted at my nape and along my arms.

"On my mark, Rikku." He held his sword angled down and I crept closer, away
from the sounds moving closer at my back. The Lamashtu lunged forward once
more, its jaws snapping shut on thin air as Tidus jumped forward and slashed
in a backward arc.

"Run!" He didn't wait to take another swing at the creature, as soon as I
passed him he was on my heels as we ran for the opening to the passage
beyond. I was only a few steps from the opening when a large shape stepped
sideways into the path. There was no way I could stop in time to avoid
running into its waiting maw, and the fiends behind us were nearly as much
of a threat even if we could avoid this latest ambush. Its jaw opened wide,
sharp fangs as long as my fingers gleaming a pale yellow, and its hot breath
rushed over me.

I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances. With no time to
think I acted on instinct, diving for the only gap I could see, right
between its forelegs in a forward roll, twisting to the side when its head
snapped back and it crouched in an attempt to crush me beneath its body.

I made it to my feet as Tidus hurdled the beast and slashed downwards at its
neck, using the added impetus from the strike to push himself over and
safely onto the path beyond. Then we ran, our fright giving our heels wings.

Within five minutes of our headlong flight a stitch began to form in my side
and I slowed, looking behind for pursuit. I could hear and see nothing and
relieved I turned to Tidus who had stopped a little way ahead, bent over
with his hands on his s ass as his lungs laboured to catch his breath.

"Shit, that was close." I nodded and leaned against the wall holding my
protesting ribs.

"I can't believe we got out of that in one piece. If you hadn't ducked..."

I was feeling giddy as a result of our near escape from death. "If you
hadn't jumped..."

"Wow." He laughed "Do me a favour, don't tell Yuna how close we came to..."
he drew his finger across his throat in illustration.

"I won't. Don't you tell Auron."

He nodded agreement. "Deal." Then he clasped my arm. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Just a bit out of breath. You?"

"The same." He studied my faceYouYou've got a few scrapes."

He touched my cheek gently and I could feel a stinging sensation there. I
became aware of other minor injuries, a cut on my chin, an abrasion on my
upper arm where I'd hit the ground when I'd rolled beneath the dragon's
feet, and stinging abrasions on my palms.

"You can't go back looking all banged up like that, Auron will have my
head." He smiled, and took a vial otiootion from his own pocket, then dabbed
it on my face, then my upper arm. I felt an uprush of affection for him. He
was like a bright star in Spira's darkness, always cheerful, always ready to
encourage us with his unfailing optimism and he was the most tolerant person
I'd ever met.

When he'd finished patching me up I put my arms around him and hugged him.
"Thanks."

He gave me the remains of the potion and I drank it to ease the pain in my
side, then we continued on our way.


End of Part Twenty-two


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