Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Kaleidoscope :: 03 :: Sphere

Kaleidoscope :: 03 :: Sphere

Guadosalam: His guests looked slightly tired after the memory was over, and Tidus looked almost bereft. “I invite you all to explore our town,” Seymour said. “It is not overlarge, but there is a shop, and also, of course, the Farplane should you wish to visit it. Whenever you are ready to retire for the evening, simply ask any servant here and they will be happy to show you to your rooms.”

Tidus made for a chair and sat back down as Yuna moved closer to the door. The other guardians clustered around her and Auron, while Rikku drifted over to Tidus instead.

“You’re staying here?” she asked.

“Yeah. There’s nothing I really need to buy or want.”

“Not going to the Farplane, then?”

Tidus shook his head. “What about you?”

Rikku shrugged. “I’ll hit the shop to see if there’s anything I could use, but not the Farplane.”

Tidus gave her a curious look. “How come?”

They were interrupted when Wakka called over, “You two coming along, ya?”

“Just a second!” Rikku called back, then looked at Tidus. “You don’t really see the dead there, more like your memories of them. People think of their relatives, and the pyreflies react to them. They take on the form of the dead person—an illusion, nothing else. Memories are nice, but that’s all they are.”

Seymour watched as she turned toward the door; she missed how Tidus’s jaw tightened in reaction to her words, but she did nod when he said, “I’ll be fine here.”

Once they were gone Seymour turned to his adviser and said quietly, “Given that there is an Al Bhed in the party. . . . Tromell, send some people to Bevelle, quietly but with all haste. I want to know if there’s anything going on that we should be concerned about that Mika might not have bothered to inform me of. He is aware that the Al Bhed tried to kidnap Lady Yuna in Luca, and I would not be surprised if he has also heard about the attempt during the Moonflow crossing.

“Assuming I am welcome in the summoner’s party, I will leave the usual sort of sign in Macalania Forest to let the riders know where to find me so they may report without delay. You, Tromell, will remain here in Guadosalam to keep things running smoothly in my absence.”

“Immediately, Lord Seymour.” Tromell bowed and headed out.

“So, you know about that, huh?” Tidus said softly.

Seymour turned to his mate in mild surprise; he had not been aware the young man’s hearing was that keen. “Yes. Perhaps you will have a drink with me in my chambers? I would rather not discuss that here. Or, for that matter, anything to do with our earlier discussion.”

Tidus flushed slightly and got to his feet. “All right, Your Grace.”

They were settled in his private sitting room with a drink each before he said, “So, what did you think of that sphere? And please, again, dispense with the formalities here.”

Tidus let out a sigh. “It made me feel homesick.” And with that a sort of floodgate opened and the blond started talking, revealing information about his life, in Zanarkand, and his present confusion. “I almost felt angry,” he said once he wound down, “when Rikku said that about memories. I know she can’t understand, but. . . .”

“You can take comfort that she did not intend to cause you pain.”

Tidus nodded and had another sip of his drink. “What is this stuff, anyway?”

Seymour chuckled. “It is a blend of fruit juices particular to Guadosalam. Some of them grow only here. There is a fermented variety, but it is considered very bad form for anyone on a pilgrimage to indulge.”

Tidus snorted and changed the subject. “So, about the Al Bhed? What do you think might happen?”

He got the distinct impression that Tidus really appreciated being treated as an adult despite his almost childlike ignorance of the world around him. Then again, if the blond truly was from a Zanarkand of a millennium ago, that only made sense, and said nothing about his intelligence.

“Maester Mika is aware of what they’re doing. He may have decided since Luca that Yevon needs to teach the Al Bhed a lesson. And, while the Al Bhed might believe that their new home is known only to them, Bevelle is not that ignorant. If I were to ask directly Mika would become suspicious of my motives, so I have sent spies instead.”

“You know, for a maester of Yevon, you sure are . . . I dunno, not exactly devout.”

Seymour laughed softly. “Existence of an ethos does not justify it nor guarantee its correctness. Yevon has its reasons for what it does, as do the Al Bhed. Sometimes truth is in the eye of the beholder. In any case, given that your friend is Al Bhed, that could cause problems at Macalania Temple should the guards there notice.

“It is generally unheard of for an Al Bhed to be a guardian. There were some who objected to Lord Braska’s pilgrimage simply because he married an Al Bhed woman, and some even now who do not look with kindness on Lady Yuna, either.”

“That makes it sound like it’s some kind of disease. It’s stupid.”

“I agree, Tidus. At any rate, given that Tromell will have sent the best I have on the quickest of chocobos, I hold hope that I will have a report back at least by the time Lady Yuna has obtained the Aeon at Macalania. If not, it would probably be wise for the party to journey slowly to Bevelle itself so that news could arrive prior to entry.”

“You, um, plan to come along?”

Seymour refilled his glass before answering. “Yes, assuming that Lady Yuna has no objections. Sir Auron most likely will not, and I expect she will defer to his wisdom.”

Tidus looked reflective for a minute, very likely remembering Mushroom Rock. “You’re . . . easy to talk to.”

“I am happy you feel that way, especially given what we may come to mean to each other. I trust you have had no further difficulties since we last met? No sense of being drained?”

The blond shook his head. “Just restless, like I’m missing something important.”

“I dare hope that would be me,” Seymour said, and smiled when Tidus pinked. “I have certainly missed you,” he added silkily. “May I ask for your indulgence again?”

Tidus set down his glass and nodded. “Yeah.”

Seymour rose and stepped closer, then extended one hand. Tidus took it and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, and Seymour idly wondered if the difference in their heights bothered the younger man. Deciding to worry about that later, if at all, Seymour tilted his head and lowered it, placing a gentle kiss on his mate’s lips.

Much like before, Tidus invited a deeper kiss, so Seymour slid his tongue inside. One hand drifted down to rest on Tidus’s hip while the other slid upward to cradle the back of the young man’s head. Seymour was rapidly reassessing his ideas about death and sacrifice if the Farplane was anything like this kind of bliss.

Imagine, years with a true mate and all the associated pleasure. Seymour drew Tidus more closely to him and shifted his hips, wresting a groan from the blond, then began walking backward, his mate moving with him, until he could sit back down in his chair with Tidus dragged down to straddle his lap. The change in position allowed him to break the kiss and trail across the younger man’s face, Seymour’s goal being the smooth column of his neck.

His attentions there brought about such deliciously appealing sounds from his mate, not to mention prompted Tidus to shift against him wantonly, so he licked his way up to the blond’s ear and whispered, “I would very much be interested to know, my sweet, just how experienced you are. I would not for the world rush you, after all, not if I plan to make you mine for eternity.”

“Experienced enough,” breathed Tidus. “Men and women. I was . . . a blitz star.”

“Is that so?” he whispered, smiling when Tidus shivered and arched his back. “And when you were with a man, who was in control?” he asked before nipping at his mate’s earlobe.

“Ah, they were.”

“Mmmmm.” Seymour bit down briefly into the sun-kissed flesh of Tidus’s neck, then murmured, “I must confess that pleases me. You hold the wicked appeal of forbidden fruit, my sweet, except that you are not. Unless, that is”—he paused long enough to bite again—“you wish to deny my pursuit of you?”

“I don’t . . . think I could, and I don’t want to.”

A shadow caught Seymour’s eye, the advance warning of someone approaching the door. It was useful at times that they were fashioned from so much coloured glass. He lifted his head and kissed Tidus again, then pulled back entirely. “We are about to be interrupted, my sweet. I expect that your friends have returned from their explorations and are wondering where you are.”

Tidus groaned softly and carefully stood up, a knock sounding at the door a second later. Seymour waited until his mate was back in a chair before he called out, “Enter!”

Tromell slipped in quietly and bowed. “My lord. Lady Yuna and her guardians have returned for the evening.” He shot a significant look at the back of Tidus’s head.

Seymour nodded. “I will show Sir Tidus to his room once we have finished our conversation, Tromell. It should only be a few minutes.”

The elderly Guado nodded and slipped back out, so Seymour focused his attention back on Tidus. “It appears that we spent much longer talking than I realized,” he said mildly, then stood and approached a cabinet along one wall. He rooted around inside, removed something, then glided over to stand before his mate.

“It is a custom of ours to give gifts of courting, Tidus. I would like you to have this, if you will accept it. Should you be attacked with lightning you will be healed rather than harmed, which should be useful during your passage through the Thunder Plains.” He held out an ochre shield.

Tidus took it with a rather shy smile, then stood up and hugged him. “Thank you,” he said sincerely.

“I am glad you like it. Unfortunately, much as I would prefer to selfishly retain your company for hours yet, I must show you to your room so your friends are assured of your welfare. And besides, you too must get a good night’s sleep.”

The blond nodded a bit reluctantly, then cocked his head to one side. “Um, should. . . . I mean, are we going to . . . say anything? To them?”

“Sir Auron is already aware of my interest. While I would prefer not to make a huge deal out of this, it may be true that if I do accompany you the people of Spira may make assumptions about myself and Lady Yuna. Of course, that, in particular, is of no matter to me. If rumor brings the people hope, so be it, though I suppose. . . . Perhaps it should be made known to Lady Yuna, so she is not caught off guard.”

“Okay,” Tidus said agreeably.

Seymour nodded and proceeded to lead Tidus to his room for the night, one he would be sharing with Auron, then asked quietly, “Sir Auron, do you hold any reservations for me joining this pilgrimage? Tidus is allowing me to court him, so I would prefer to remain close by.” He arched a brow in lieu of openly stating his other reasons, assuming that Auron would get the point.

Auron shot an intense look at Tidus, who returned it calmly, then said, “I do not object, but Yuna must be asked.”

“Then I will bring her here if you will both wait a moment.” Seymour did so quickly, wanting to get it over and done with, and was shortly back inside with Yuna in tow. And, given his present frustration, he was rather blunt. “Lady Yuna, I wish to travel with you and your guardians. Will you agree to this?”

She looked quite taken aback. “I—Your Grace! Sir Auron?”

Auron glanced at her over the top rim of his glasses. “I have no objection.”

“It would be an honor,” Yuna said and performed Yevon’s prayer.

Seymour returned it and said, “The honor is mine. I will leave you all to get your rest, and will see you again at breakfast.” He started for the door, then paused as though struck by a thought and looked over his shoulder. “It occurs to me, Lady Yuna, that the people of Spira might, without ill intention, misinterpret my inclusion. It would be unkind of me to not share the possibility.”

He paused, delicately, and was rewarded when she blushed a flattering rose pink. “I am sure such assumptions on their part will bring about a certain sense of hope, but I assure you those assumptions would be mistaken. I merely wish to facilitate your journey, and that of the interests of Spira at large.”

Before he finished turning his head back to the door he saw mild confusion tinge her expression. Outside the door he lingered, not in their line of sight, but still able to eavesdrop.

“I—well, that was unexpected,” he heard her say. “Sir Auron, Lord Seymour did not mean as a guardian, did he?”

“No.”

“Okay, then I—oh! That’s a really nice shield, Tidus. Where did you get it?”

“It was a gift from Maester Seymour,” Tidus said quietly, but with obvious pleasure in his voice.

Seymour could only imagine what her expression might consist of; there was every chance she was aware of Guado customs. He figured that might actually be true when she responded, “Oh!” Then in a somewhat admiring tone she added, “He must really like you.”

He decided he had heard enough and slipped off, back to his chambers.

*

The Gandof Thunder Plains: They walked along the tunnel that led to the Thunder Plains; up ahead Seymour could see the bright flashes that signaled lightning strikes, never in sync with the sound of thunder. He and Tidus brought up the rear of the party, with a nervously jittering Rikku just ahead of them.

“Oh, no. . . . We’re here,” she said in almost a whine as they emerged from the tunnel.

Beside him Tidus looked amazed and awed at the elemental display. “How are we supposed to cross that?”

Lulu glanced over her shoulder, then pointed toward the nearest of the tall structures dotting the plains. “See the towers? The lightning is drawn to them . . . hopefully.”

“We head north,” Wakka said, “not too near and not too far from the towers, ya?”

“Meaning we should avoid wide open areas,” Lulu clarified.

Rikku spoke, her voice tiny and thin. “I think I forgot something in Guadosalam.”

“Nice knowing you,” Auron said callously.

“Okay, okay! I’ll go!” Rikku sullenly trailed along behind the party as they made their way by the first tower, then shrieked when lightning struck it.

“Whoa! That was a close one!” Wakka exclaimed cheerfully.

Lulu huffed and said, “Stop kidding around.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Wakka didn’t sound at all repentant.

They had made it almost halfway across the plains when Rikku began to act extremely peculiar. Seymour felt a great deal like smacking her when she started going, “Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh. . . .” Anyone with halfway decent agility could avoid the strikes, and he knew from watching her in battle that she was hardly a slouch.

“Hmm? What’s wrong?” Wakka shot her a strange look.

“Eh heh heh heh heh heh heh. . . .”

Tidus planted his hands on his hips and said, “‘Heh heh heh. . . .’ You’re givin’ me the creeps!”

Rikku dropped to the ground and cowered. “I wanna go home! I hate lightning! I hate thunder! Let’s go rest over there! Please?” She pointed at a branch in the path; not far away was one of Rin’s travel agencies.

“This storm never stops. Better to cross quickly,” Auron said coldly, then continued right on past the branching. The others followed his lead.

“Pretty please? Just for a few minutes? I’m scared of lightning! Let’s rest, please? Pretty please? I’m too young to die! You’re mean . . . cruel! Your moms would be ashamed of you! Are you having fun doing this to me?”

They made it over the slight rise, then able to see where an additional path branched off back toward the agency. Seymour nobly refrained from hitting the girl with thundaga; he didn’t expect he could get away with it, anyway, not without being noticed.

“It’s not stopping, is it?” Rikku questioned morosely.

“Don’t tell me you were hoping it would,” Auron said. “Fine. Stay here, then, and forget about being a guardian.”

“All right, already. But! You didn’t have to say it like that, you know! You could be more comforting or something! You know, try to cheer me up? You just don’t get me at all, do you? Hey! Are you listening? I’m not scared! I’m not scared, you hear?” She raced off to be closer to the main group.

Tidus chuckled and said to Seymour, “I don’t know if I should feel sorry for her or what. I wonder what happened to make her so afraid of lightning.”

“Had I known of her phobia, I might have considered making sure similar armor to what I gifted you found its way to the shop in town so she could have purchased it. But, even then, I am not sure it would have calmed her fears entirely.”

The remainder of the journey across the plains was much the same, and Seymour continued to nobly refrain from arranging an accident for the girl who was giving him more of a headache than the thunder could manage. He helped in battle when it was asked of him, but otherwise remained slightly aloof, mainly sticking close to his mate.

*

Macalania Woods: Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they left behind lightning’s domain and entered the chill atmosphere of Macalania Woods. Seymour loved it there; all his people did. He might not be cognizant of why the Guado seemed to be so closely tied to it, but they and at least one other race could always be assured of a sense of welcome when they stepped within.

Tidus was once again awed at his surroundings, something that brought a smile to Seymour’s face. “It is beautiful, is it not?”

His mate turned a brilliant smile on him and nodded. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s almost as though everything is made of ice, or sheathed in it. Is it very dangerous here?”

Seymour shrugged lightly. “Only to the weak, or uninformed. I have observed you, and your friends, and I am confident of your skills. Farther ahead, closer to the temple itself, you will enter a world of snow and ice. But, that is only fitting given which Fayth resides there.”

“Oh. So, like . . . Ifrit and fire, Ixion and lightning, this Fayth is ice?”

“Yes, exactly. Not all of them are aligned to an element, but Shiva is.”

Tidus paused a moment, then hastened forward. “That’s kinda strange, actually. I would almost have expected Ixion’s temple to be in the Thunder Plains, not at Djose.”

Seymour shrugged again. “Some things remain a mystery, even to a maester of Yevon.”

Whatever Tidus meant to say in response was interrupted when a large man rushed up to the party. “Barthello!”

“Hey! Have any of you seen Dona?”

“Dona?” said Yuna. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“What’s up?” asked Wakka.

“We got separated on the way here,” Barthello explained. “Damn it all! I’ve got to find her!”

Auron shifted. “Calm down.”

“But, if anything happens to her. . . .”

“Running around in a panic is not going to help. Right now, you have to keep cool, and search.”

“But—”

“Guard your emotions, then guard your summoner.”

Barthello calmed slightly and nodded. “You’re right.”

“Shall we search?” Auron offered.

“No, I’ve taken up enough of your time. Thank you, Sir Auron.” Barthello dashed off back the way he had come from and Rikku started to follow him.

“What’s up?” Wakka called after her.

Rikku stopped dead and turned back. “Oh, I just wanted to wish him good luck.”

Tidus, Seymour noticed, stared at the Al Bhed for several long moments before looking at him instead. Seymour nodded slightly in response, and the party continued on. It was somewhat rough going; some of the creatures that roamed the woods were elementally powerful, after all, and difficult to kill.

They were nearly out of the woods, literally, when Auron paused and began looking around. “Wait. It is here . . . somewhere.”

“What’s here?” Tidus asked, looking at Auron like he was crazy.

“Something you should see.”

“But, Sir Auron. . . .” Yuna objected weakly.

“It won’t take long.” He then proceeded to carve a path through the tangled vegetation and walk through, obviously expecting everyone to follow.

They arrived at a tranquil spring, the surface of the water shimmering with all the colours of the rainbow.

Tidus looked understandably confused. “This place. . . . It’s just water, isn’t it?”

Auron shook his head. “This is what spheres are made of. It absorbs and preserves people’s memories.” He began scanning the area for . . . something, but was jarred from his search as a large globular mass erupted from the spring.

“What’s that?” said Wakka.

“Fiends are also attracted to these places,” Auron said with a slight sigh, then shifted to a defensive position. “Lulu, you’re up!”

The fiend attacked, doing its level best to crush the life from each of them, but a clever strategy based on the monster’s shifting weaknesses soon brought it down, and pyreflies spiraled up into the sky at its defeat, though not without leaving behind a small sphere.

Wakka swooped in to pluck it from the ground and examine it. “Whoa, this is old! Don’t know if it still works.”

“Jecht left it here ten years ago,” said Auron, then ordered, “Play it back.”

Wakka handed it over to a frowning Tidus, who activated it with obvious reluctance.

The scene that sprang forth showed a city in the background, Bevelle by the look of it so far as Seymour could see.

“What are you taking?” Auron asked.

“Well,” Jecht replied, “you said it was gonna be a long trip. We’ll be seeing a lot of neat things, right? So I thought I’d record it all in this. To show to my wife and kid, you know.”

“This is no pleasure cruise!”

“Hey, Braska. Ain’t this supposed to be a grand occasion?” Jecht asked. “Where’re the cheering fans? The crying women?”

“This is it. Too many goodbyes—people think twice about leaving.”

“Hmm. . . . If you say so. Well, it better be a lot more colorful when we come back. A parade for Braska, vanquisher of Sin!”

“We should go,” said Braska. “Day will break soon.”

The scene shifted, with Braska the likely cameraman. The sign visible above Auron and Jecht read ‘Lake Macalania’.

“Auron, could you stand closer to him? Good. That should do it,” came Braska’s voice.

“What’s the matter?” Jecht taunted Auron. “Afraid I might bite?”

“Jecht. . . .” Auron looked weary of it all.

“Braska!” Jecht said. “You should take one, too. It’d make a great gift for little Yuna!”

“I suppose.”

“Lord Braska,” Auron said impatiently. “We shouldn’t be wasting our time like this!”

“What’s the hurry, man?”

“Let me tell you what the hurry is!” Auron retorted.

“Auron!” Braska reprimanded.

The scene abruptly winked out, causing Tidus to remark, “What’s the point? Like Auron said, he wasn’t on some pleasure cruise.”

Rikku grabbed the sphere and examined it, then said, “I think there’s more.”

The sphere clicked as she touched something. Jecht appeared to be alone based on the camera angle, standing approximately where they actually stood in the present.

“Hey. If you’re sitting there, watching this . . . it means you’re stuck in Spira, like me. You might not know when you’ll get back home, but you better not be crying! Although, I guess I’d understand. But you know what? There’s a time when you have to stop crying and move on. You’ll be fine. Remember, you’re my son. And. . . . Well, uh. . . . Never mind. I’m no good at these things.”

Jecht reached over with his free hand and shut the sphere off, signaling a scene transition, though the location did not appear to have changed.

“Anyway. . . . I believe in you. Be good. Goodbye.”

The sphere died again, and there was silence for a time.

“He sounded almost serious, but it was too late,” Tidus said stiffly.

“He was serious,” Auron said. “Jecht had already accepted his fate.”

“His fate?”

“Jecht. . . . He. . . . He was always talking about going home, to Zanarkand. That’s why he took all those pictures—to show them to you when he returned. But as he journeyed with us and came to understand Spira, and Braska’s resolve. . . . It happened gradually, but Jecht changed. He decided he would join Braska in his fight against Sin.”

“So then, he gave up going home?”

“That was his decision.”

It was of Seymour’s opinion that regardless of why Jecht had been brought to Spira, the man had decided at some point that there was no going back. Still, if Sin was Jecht, it remained a mystery as to why he had pulled his son into present day Spira as well.

His musings were cut off when Tidus shook his head as though to clear it and said, “All right! Let’s go, guys!”

And yet, even as everyone else moved back along toward the main path, Tidus and Auron lingered at the spring. Seymour moved far enough away to give them privacy, but no so far as to let his mate out of his sight. Whatever Auron was telling Tidus did not seem to be accepted, as the blond looked to be in denial again.

Auron walked past Seymour without a word, back to the others. Tidus soon followed, but paused and gave him a troubled smile. “Auron seems to think my old man loved me. I just . . . don’t know what to think.”

“Perhaps it will become clear in time,” was the only advice he could give. He briefly pressed a hand to the small of Tidus’s back to urge him forward so they could rejoin the rest of the party.