Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Kaleidoscope :: 02 :: Confirmation

Kaleidoscope :: 02 :: Confirmation

Mushroom Rock Road: Outside Seymour glanced at his men and said, “Pelun, find out how much time is left and report back. I will return here shortly.” The Guado bowed and raced off, so Seymour walked with Auron back to the refreshment tent. They were but a few steps away when Tidus emerged, his face a mask of frustrated curiosity. Seymour felt like laughing at the sight of it; for once such openness was cause for amusement rather than irritation toward those unable to effectively mask their emotions.

After sparing a quick glance for him, Tidus looked to Auron for answers. That man merely adjusted his sunglasses.

Tidus jerked his head back to him when Seymour cleared his throat softly and said, “I wonder, Sir Tidus, if you would consent to speak with me for a short time.”

“Me? But—” Tidus looked back to Auron and received only a nod in response. “Um, okay. I mean, Lord Seymour.”

“Please,” he said, and half turned, “follow me.”

Tidus shot another look at Auron before stepping closer, and Seymour led the young man back to his own tent. Pelun was waiting for him.

“My lord, Maester Kinoc says ten to fifteen minutes.”

“Thank you, Pelun. If we are not out by then, please see to reminding me.”

“Yes, Lord Seymour,” said the Guado, then held the tent flap open for them.

Inside he said, “Feel free to sit if you wish.” The youth was again unknowingly alluring, and it took quite a bit of Seymour’s control to withstand the temptations his body was urging him toward exploiting.

Tidus looked around curiously as he dropped into one of the chairs, then looked back to him and flashed a nervous smile. “So, um. . . .”

Seymour took a seat. “It goes against my nature to be so indelicate, but I must ask you, Sir Tidus, if you have noticed anything . . . peculiar or odd when you are around me.”

The young man flushed crimson, rendered momentarily speechless. “Uh, you don’t need to use sir, Lord Seymour,” he said evasively. “I’m not really used to that anyway.”

He nodded and responded, “And you may dispense with my titles as well, at least for the moment,” then waited patiently for an answer to his blunt question.

Tidus fidgeted and cast his gaze around the room for a minute before saying, “Well, okay, yeah. I, uh. . . . I feel. . . . Ah, this sounds so stupid, even in my head.”

“I will not laugh, you have my promise.”

Tidus fiddled with his hair and rolled his eyes, looking every bit like a normal, largely untroubled teenager in that moment. “You, um, smell nice. When I’m around you I feel . . . drawn to you.” He averted his gaze and studied the fabric of the tent wall.

Seymour arched a brow. Perhaps that book wasn’t a waste of paper after all. Well, assuming it still existed, which he very well knew it didn’t given that he had destroyed it himself in a fit of pique. “So, you feel it, too,” he commented mildly.

Ocean blue eyes slid over to gaze at him.

“It is a little known fact that the union of human and Guado will produce a special kind of child. I admit, I did not believe it when I read an accounting of another like me, from over a century ago, but given the evidence. . . . Well, let us say I am strongly inclined to change my mind.”

Tidus coughed and said, “About?”

“That a half-breed such as myself has but a single mate, and that mate can be recognized thanks to things like scent. To me you are intoxicating, Tidus. To be near you is a certain kind of bliss. And that your countenance is fair to me only adds to the effect.” A little flattery never hurt, and he spoke no untruths in any case.

Tidus flushed again and glanced off to the side for a moment.

Seeing that the young man couldn’t manage much in the way of braving the perils of verbal coherency Seymour said, “I would like to get to know you better, though I admit that minutes before the start of Operation Mi’ihen is hardly an appropriate time.”

Tidus nodded. “I . . . don’t object, but—”

Seymour tilted his head to the side. “What is it?”

“I felt different after Luca, on the Mi’ihen Highroad. I felt . . . weak, and sort of drained. I didn’t like it. Is that. . . ?”

“Another thing we share.” He smiled when Tidus looked faintly relieved. “That accounting said something about confirmation, that until that happens both parties are at risk. However, I am unsure if you would be willing to indulge me.”

“What do you mean?”

Seymour produced a smile he knew was sirenic to most who witnessed it, somewhat pleased that Tidus had not chosen to question his mention of risk. “Why, much like in any fairy tale, Tidus, confirmation demands a kiss.”

Surprisingly, the young man did not blush anew, but instead stood up and nodded. “All right.”

Whatever the reason for Tidus’s newfound surety, Seymour was not about to let the opportunity pass. So he rose and closed the distance between them, and raised one hand to stroke the young man’s cheek. “Then let us find out,” he murmured before tilting and lowering his head.

His eyes slipped shut the moment their lips touched, a pleasant shock of sensation shooting down his spine and settling in like the background hum of well-tuned machina. When Tidus parted his lips in invitation, Seymour was quick to accept, deepening the kiss into a languorous exploration of the young man’s mouth, an extended moment of indulgence in the young man’s very taste.

And in that moment he found himself willing to betray every plan fashioned from hatred and Yevon alike, if only to drown in the implicit offer before him. It was like the promised bliss of the Farplane, that along with the soft moan wrested from his all too willing companion. The moment was shattered when someone outside the tent flap cleared their throat a touch loudly.

Seymour pulled away reluctantly, even more desirous of and determined to sway Tidus to his bed than previous encounters had impelled him. “Confirmation?” he said huskily.

Tidus nodded, his eyes not quite in focus. “Yes,” he breathed, then blinked a few times and looked sharply toward the door.

“They are discreet, do not fear. Their loyalty to me is legend. However, I believe that is my cue to become a maester of Yevon again for the nonce. Shall we?” He moved back a step, letting Tidus exit ahead of him, then joined him outside.

“It is time, Lord Seymour,” Pelun said.

Seymour nodded and straightened up to his full height. “So be it. Sir Tidus, if you would please inform your companions? I know that Maester Kinoc will not mind if you would like to observe. Just be sure that you are all prepared to defend yourselves if necessary.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Tidus ducked away a second later.

Seymour felt a great deal like growling and loping after the young man. Instead he glided off toward Kinoc and drifted to a stop near him.

Kinoc looked over, then signaled one of the guards. “Inform the Al Bhed that we will begin the operation at once. They must be ready the moment Sin appears.”

As Kinoc then signaled a different guard, Seymour heard the approach of several people, and scented when Tidus came to stand slightly behind him and to the side. Lady Yuna stopped to the other.

“Will Sin come?” she asked quietly.

A nearby guard chose to respond, saying, “Sin always returns for its spawn. To make sure, we’re going to encourage them to call out to it.” He nodded at the cage not far away which all the captured spawn had been herded into.

“You won’t have to. It’ll come,” said Auron gruffly.

The guards at the cage began to coerce the sinspawn by shocking them, causing them to unleash a barrage of torturous shrieks that echoed around the area. The men continued to prod them every few seconds, most seeming to take a certain sort of pleasure in it, when suddenly the spawn within began to merge and mutate, eventually breaking the cage wide open and spilling the transformed creature onto the ground.

Seymour remained still as Yuna and her guardians raced forward to confront it, feeling a great deal of disgust for the warrior monks and crusaders stationed as guards for the command center, all of whom fled in terror. And he remained outwardly impassive as they beat the sinspawn amalgamation into submission, his attention divided between watching Tidus in action and keeping an eye on the bay for any sign of Sin’s arrival.

Which it did, in all its unholy glory.

He could hear the voice of Lucil, captain of the Djose Chocobo Knights, yell from below, “Let’s go!” A second later a cannoneer yelled, “Fire!” From three sides cannons fired on Sin, knocking its spawn off into the water, many of which sped toward the shore to meet the knights and other troops stationed below.

“Look out!” Auron shouted, causing Seymour to step back quickly as a barrier sprang into existence around Sin and was then shot toward the beach. He knew many people and spawn alike died in those few blinding moments, and even the people at their level were knocked to the ground, a great number of them into unconsciousness.

When his vision cleared and he regained secure footing, Seymour noticed with a mild sense of dread that the amalgamation was moving; apparently submission was not its strong point. With an unheard sigh he readied his staff and prepared to fight it himself. He was not about to die on some mostly barren rock, especially when those pledged to the defense of Spira had been so cowardly as to run away.

He was joined almost immediately by Auron, and shortly thereafter by Yuna. “Stand back, Lady Yuna, and provide support,” he ordered.

“Y-yes,” she said shakily.

They had just managed to kill it for real, pyreflies swarming upward in a dizzying display, when the largest Al Bhed cannon, positioned offshore, finally went into action and fired on Sin. The resulting beam deformed Sin’s shield, and Seymour could nearly feel the hope of those conscious surge as the cannon poured even more power into the attack.

However, to his complete lack of surprise, Sin responded with a blast of its own and destroyed the only weapon that had even made a dent in its defenses. It was, as expected, a foregone conclusion. For some reason Sin decided it had taken enough lives and began to retreat, though Seymour supposed it might have had something to do with both the defeated sinspawn and Tidus himself.

Speaking of which, Seymour could not see where the young man had gotten himself off to. That is to say, until he heard a familiar voice rise up from the beach, then saw, as he stepped fully to the edge of the ledge, Tidus racing headlong toward the sea.

Yuna chose that moment to be helpful. “Everyone, stand back! I’ll summon!” she cried, flinging her arms out like a plea.

Seymour felt a great deal like belting her one to knock some sense into her. Instead he said calmly, “You won’t hurt it. Your powers are still . . . too weak.”

“But I must do something!”

“You can’t!” he said harshly as Tidus splashed into the water, seemingly intent on a futile attempt to chase Sin. “Foolish boy,” he whispered.

*

It was Auron who spoke first to Tidus after his return from the sea. They were not far away, and the young man seemed to be a bit dazed and confused. Several moments later Auron turned away to approach his little gathering instead.

“A swift retreat. Satisfied?” Auron asked of Kinoc.

“What do you mean?”

“Those who turned from Yevon died, while the faithful live on,” Auron said with a certain amount of cynicism.

“The past ten years have changed you, I see.”

Auron snorted and wheeled, walking away swiftly, and Seymour, not particularly wishing to listen to anything further Kinoc had to say, especially about Auron, chose that moment to stride across the sand to Yuna and her companions. She looked weary and depressed after having sent the multitude of dead left in Sin’s wake.

“You do not look so well,” he said to her candidly. “But now, more than ever, you must be the people’s strength, their confidence. Anyone else would be expected to show their sorrow. But you . . . are a summoner. You are Spira’s hope. Until Sin is defeated, you must not relent. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I understand,” she replied softly.

“Take strength from your guardians, and allow them to be your support. Until next we meet, Lady Yuna, farewell.” He performed Yevon’s prayer out of duty before heading farther on a short distance, then paused as though a thought had struck him. It was no coincidence that Tidus was the only outsider within hearing range.

“Pelun, remember to inform Tromell that he will need to make the necessary arrangements for when Summoner Yuna’s party arrives in Guadosalam. We would be shockingly remiss if we were to neglect to offer our hospitality.”

As he shot a sidelong look at Tidus he heard Pelun reply, “Of course, Lord Seymour.”

“Excellent. Let us not delay further, then. It is a fair distance to cover and there are many preparations to be made.” Just before he slid his eyes back ahead he saw Tidus smile shyly.

*

Guadosalam: “It is so good to have you home again, Lord Seymour,” Tromell said as he stepped into Seymour’s private rooms.

“Yes,” he said absently. Then he looked at his elderly advisor and said, “Tromell, you know you are the only person I truly trust, but I would hear your pledge again.”

Tromell immediately went into a 45° bow. “Lord Seymour, I hereby pledge my loyalty and life to you, the leader of the Guado, and vow to do all within my power to support you, even unto my last breath.”

Seymour nodded. “Have a seat, Tromell. The unmistakable sincerity in your voice makes me feel a certain amount of relief. You know what kind of a man my father was, but you served him loyally, and I can respect that. You were also the only Guado to ever express his beliefs, against popular opinion, even if you did it quietly. You were the only one to ever show me or my mother kindness. However. . . . Do you remember, that book I found so long ago? The one I destroyed?”

“My lord? Yes.”

Seymour chuckled softly. “So many plans, my old friend. It’s like some summoner has been diligently sending them. Assuming I am not insane, and assuming that things fall out in line with my present course of action, you will be able to cast aside the plans you have heretofore been striving toward on my behalf.”

Tromell let out a soft gasp and repeated, “My lord?”

“That book, Tromell. It seems it wasn’t just scribbles on paper after all.”

The elderly Guado continued to look surprised, but beneath that was a cast of relief. “You have found the one?”

“I believe so, and no, it is not Lady Yuna. Besides, I find myself none too keen at present to die in the fashion I had planned.”

“What of Yevon? Of Mika?”

Seymour snorted. “That old man is so steeped in lies and deception that I rather doubt he would see what we’re up to under his nose, even if it is treachery and traitorous actions toward the acknowledged power of Spira.” On seeing the slight frown on his advisor’s face he decided to speak more plainly.

“Assuming that I can sway the one to my side, I plan to reveal the truth behind Yevon to Lady Yuna and her guardians. If not, I may anyway. Still, should the one deny me, I expect we’ll both die. I could still return, assuming you were to protect me in my time of weakness, and continue on with the original plans, as it were.”

“Do you have confirmation?”

“Yes. And such a sweet one at that.” Seymour smiled lazily. “Which reminds me. I trust Pelun had a chance to speak with you before you came to see me?”

“Yes, Lord Seymour. I have given the staff their orders.”

“Splendid. It is possible that I may be leaving again soon, this time with the summoner party. Even if I do not follow through on asking Lady Yuna to marry me, journeying with her will give the people a definite sense of hope regardless, and rumors will spread, will ye, nill ye. Mika can make what he wants of it.

“By the way, one of Lady Yuna’s guardians, Sir Auron. . . . He is an Unsent. I know you would pick up on that yourself, but this way you simply know a little sooner.”

“He is surely not the one.”

He laughed and shook his head. “No. A young man, though, yes. Surprisingly, the son of Sir Jecht. And he appeared to be, at the time, quite amenable to my advances. I plan to get him alone again once Lady Yuna arrives.”

“You must have braved the dragon, Sir Auron, in order to get that far,” observed Tromell.

“Yes, I did. Such a difficult man to talk to. He has no appreciation for subtlety, I vow. Now, what news have you for me?”

*

“My lord, forgive this intrusion, but word has reached us that Lady Yuna’s party approaches.”

Seymour nodded at the page and looked to his adviser. “Tromell, please go meet them and offer our hospitality. Inform me of their arrival once you have shown them to the buffet.”

“As you wish, Lord Seymour.”

Tromell bowed and left, so Seymour addressed the page. “Go double-check that the food and drink has been set out, and then that all the rooms are in readiness. You know with whom to speak should something be amiss.”

The page bowed and scurried off quickly, leaving Seymour to his feelings of increasing anticipation. Thankfully, since he had kissed Tidus he no longer felt like his life was slipping away. That pleasant remembrance kept him unaware of the passage of time until Tromell clearing his throat brought him back to awareness.

“They await you.”

“Thank you, Tromell. I will be right down.” Seymour spent a minute or so checking his appearance before rising and making his way to the reception room via his private staircase.

He arrived in time to overhear his adviser saying, “Truly, a loss for us all. But now a new leader, Lord Seymour, has come before us. Lord Seymour is the child of a Guado and a human. He will be the tie that binds our two races together. But that is not all, I think. Lord Seymour. . . . He will surely become the shining star that lights the way for all the peoples of Spira.”

Seymour stepped into the doorway fully and said, “That is enough, Tromell. Must I always endure such praise?” He gazed at his guests and said, “Welcome! Please, make yourselves at home. After you have partaken of this delightful array and satisfied the hunger you are surely feeling, there is something I would like to show you all.”

Auron looked on the verge of an impatient objection, but seemed to settle for slouching against the wall next to the room’s main door. The others, however, were all too happy to load up waiting plates with a variety of foods and take seats at the table.

Tidus somehow managed to make it seem like a coincidence that he sat down next to Seymour himself, though he wasted no time in applying himself to his selection.

“I would imagine that you have been traveling since Djose Temple, Lady Yuna. Please, allow me to host you and your companions for the night. It would be most unwise to brave the Thunder Plains without a good night’s rest.”

She looked over and smiled. “That’s very kind of you, Lord Seymour. Are you sure it’s no trouble? We can stay at the inn.”

He shook his head slowly. “I assure you.” Seymour paused for a moment, noticing that the number of guardians had mysteriously increased by one. He waited until everyone was comfortably eating and chatting amongst themselves, then leaned over to murmur to Tidus, “I see your number has increased. May I know the lady’s name?”

The blond jerked slightly and reached for a napkin to wipe his mouth before whispering, “Her name is Rikku, and please? Please don’t make mention that she’s Al Bhed, Lord Seymour? Wakka has a problem with them and he hasn’t realized yet that she is one.”

“Oh?” He shot a look at Tromell, then turned back to Tidus. “I will refrain from bringing that up, then. Though, if that is the case, I would imagine that he is also unaware of the nature of Lady Yuna’s mother.”

Tidus flashed him a grateful smile and nodded. “Rikku’s a good girl, and she really helped me out when I first, uh, arrived. I was found in a ruined temple by her and the crew of the salvage ship she was on.”

Now that sounded interesting. “A ruined temple?”

“Yeah, I have no idea how I got there, not really, just that it had to do with . . . Sin. A lot of it was underwater. Almost like an island in the middle of nowhere. It’s funny, though. I kinda feel like I was on one of the upper levels or something, because I couldn’t see anything that resembled an entrance to a Cloister of Trials. Looking back on it, I mean.”

Seymour began to wonder at that point just where his mother’s Fayth was located. Yunalesca had complied, she had transformed his mother, but after Seymour had the services of the resulting Aeon, the Unsent had banished the Fayth’s statue to parts unknown. He had been left to stumble out of Zanarkand on his own, across Mt Gagazet, and back along the dangerous way to Guadosalam with no help except for that of his Aeons.

It made him wonder just where the statues of other Fayth rested, empty of the souls used for the Final Aeon. Zaon’s had not crumbled even after a thousand years, so it stood to reason that the others must exist . . . somewhere.

“Perhaps there will come a time when you can revisit that place,” he said quietly.

Tidus shrugged and had another forkful of food.

“It looks like your friends are nearly finished eating. Soon I can show you all something wondrous. I think . . . you will appreciate it more than the others, except, perhaps, Sir Auron.”

The blond turned a wide-eyed gaze on him.

“Trust me,” Seymour said lazily, then reached out to take a ripe fruit in his grasp. He bit into it, purposely ignoring the line of juice that escaped and trickled down his chin until he had swallowed that first bite. One long finger wiped the liquid away, to in turn be cleaned by his tongue.

Tidus licked his lips and turned away quickly, suddenly very interested in the remainder of his meal. Seymour stifled a chuckle and finished his fruit, then rinsed his hands in one of the finger bowls set out and dried them on a cloth.

After rising to his feet he moved a short distance away from the table and said, “If you would all please step this way?” Once they had gathered nearby he reached up to set a sphere to swaying back and forth in a lulling rhythm. And before anyone could question the action the light seemed to be sucked from the room as stars burst into being within the resulting darkness.

He concentrated for a moment, then smiled as the space around them shifted abruptly to reveal a city flush with light despite it being night, with people, phantoms, walking past on the street they found themselves standing on.

“What you are seeing is a reconstruction created from the thoughts of the dead who wander the Farplane,” he said into the stunned silence.

“Zanarkand!” Tidus said, wonder and longing clear in his voice.

“Correct. The great and wondrous machina city, Zanarkand, as it looked one thousand years ago. She once lived here.”

Yuna forsook the sight to look at Seymour with a puzzled expression. “She who?”

Seymour concentrated a second time, the scene shifting in response; the city melted away in favor of a single room. There, on a bed, was a beautiful lady who even in repose radiated a sense of power and nobility.

Yuna gasped. “Lady Yunalesca!”

“Yes. She was the first person to defeat Sin and save the world from its ravages. And you have inherited her name.”

“It was my father who named me,” Yuna responded.

To Seymour’s eyes, she did not look especially pleased with the comparison. “Lord Braska was entrusting you with a great task. He wanted you to face Sin, as Lady Yunalesca did. However, Lady Yunalesca did not save the world alone. To defeat the undefeatable Sin . . . it took an unbreakable bond between her and. . . .”

A second figure appeared through a misty doorway as he trailed off, and approached the ancient summoner. The scene ended abruptly as the translucent figures embraced.