Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Kaleidoscope :: 07 :: Gagazet

Kaleidoscope :: 07 :: Gagazet

Mt Gagazet: Seymour smirked and pulled his mate closer to him; Tidus was sheened with sweat and draped over his broad chest. And while the blond was technically submissive to him in bed, he wasn’t a submissive person, something that Seymour found was agreeable to him. He might have once wished for a spouse that would obey his whims, but on having met a true mate, his views had shifted. He decided that once Tidus had fully acquainted himself with his life as it was presently, and had relieved himself of his general ignorance of the world, he would make for a strong, dependable partner.

On that thought he allowed sleep to claim him, the sweet scent of his mate wreathing him in comfort and security.

They headed out early the next morning, but not before being briefly delayed. An Al Bhed man had interrupted their departure, intent on speaking with Rikku. She, in turn, after the man left, said, “He wanted us to know he had a message from Cid. Pops has gone to repair the airship and he’ll come get us when they’re done. Well, and he wants us to keep Yuna safe or we’ll be sorry.” She looked a bit petulant at that.

This time they crossed the bridge and kept going, ignoring the gorge where Baralai presumably still was, and continued on up onto the mountain itself, the air growing progressively colder with each step. They arrived at the true base of the mountains to a dubious greeting of one of the Ronso lunging toward Kimahri, who dodged.

In point of fact, many Ronso ringed the area, standing on the projections from the mountainsides, like towering monuments of the race. Maester Kelk stood squarely athwart the path that led upward, arms crossed over his chest.

“Summoner Yuna and guardians,” he greeted. “Lord Seymour.” Kelk seemed to ignore the contest of wills going on between Kimahri and two of the larger males.

Yuna performed Yevon’s prayer, but not without casting a quick look of worry at her guardian. “Maester Kelk. I thought you were in Bevelle.”

“Kelk left Bevelle after seeing true face of Yevon.”

The party members exchanged looks as Seymour kept his gaze on his fellow maester. “Oh?” he inquired casually.

“Kelk learn that Lord Mika Unsent, and that Yevon use machina against the teachings. Kelk leave, return to sacred mountain Gagazet.”

“Ah,” Seymour said as half the party took an abortive half step back in surprise. “And if I may ask,” Seymour said, his tone still quite casual, “does Maester Mika know why you returned to Gagazet?”

Kelk shook his head faintly, then said, “Kelk not certain.”

Seymour stepped up to the Ronso, unwillingly forced to tip his head back to see the Ronso properly given his height. “I suggest you and yours keep a close watch on this side of the mountain, Lord Kelk. It would not do for Yevon to come calling and investigate your departure. If they suspect your reasoning, you may be in for a fight.”

“Kelk wonders why Seymour speak so,” the Ronso said in a low rumbling voice, his expression giving absolutely nothing away.

Seymour graced him with a half smile. “You are not blind. I merely hope that your eyes remain open, that is all. Yevon’s teachings might be reduced to the very simple maxim, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Hm?”

Kelk narrowed his eyes, then nodded.

“In case you are not aware,” Seymour continued, “though perhaps you are, Bevelle is suffering unrest at present, due to an information leak regarding the attack on the Al Bhed of Bikanel Island. Mika has called back many of the warrior monks because of it, and a number of people have decided to leave the city. Not all of the people are pleased that Yevon would attempt wholesale slaughter of a race.”

A low growl erupted, but Seymour could not tell what it was directed at. The Ronso might be angered over the lack of faith, or it might be over the idea that if Yevon would attack one race, who was to say it would not attack his own? Kelk might have retreated on having his own faith bent or even shattered, but it was not always an easy task to cast off the shackles of ingrained lessons.

“Summoner Yuna and guardians, the sacred heights of Gagazet welcome you.”

Seymour nodded and stepped away to rejoin the party as Yuna said, “We thank you.”

As they passed him Kelk added, “Summoner Yuna has small voice, small frame, but a will that towers over Gagazet’s peak. The path to the sacred heights is steep, and lined with the dens of fiends. Strong guardians, be prepared, and guard your summoner well. Guard your summoner with all your heart.”

They had not gone far, barely past the outer enclave, when a voice rang out, “Halt!”

Two large male Ronso leaped down, scattering powdery snow as they landed in front of the party. Seymour did not recognize them (aside from a short time ago), but it was obvious that the others did.

“Haven’t you bothered us enough?” Tidus asked, his voice dryly weary.

“Summoner may pass. Guardians may pass. Kimahri not pass! Kimahri shame Ronso brothers. Kimahri forget his birth.”

The second said, “Forget his people, forget his mountain. Little Ronso! Weakling Ronso!”

“Mountain hate the weak, hate the small. If you will climb. . . .”

“Then I must prove my strength!” Kimahri growled.

“Think you will win?” taunted the larger of the two males. “You not forget who took your horn! Never forget!”

“Kimahri never beat brother Biran! Never win!”

“This time, I win. I will win!”

Tidus gave Kimahri an uncertain look and asked, “This some kind of Ronso thing?”

“Kimahri problem,” said the guardian, then loped forward to face off against the two.

And as they were fighting Tidus sidled over to Seymour’s side and whispered, “The other one is called Yenke. Met them originally in Luca, but we saw them again on our way to the Moonflow. They warned us about the kidnappings. I guess they’ve held a grudge against Kimahri for a long time.”

“For little reason,” he whispered back. “Kimahri seems quite able to hold his own against both, despite how well they work together. And if I am not mistaken, he has even managed to learn a few things from them in the process.”

“Oooo, that had to hurt,” Tidus said with a wince as Yenke was knocked out. “I’m sorta thinking that the Ronso are a bit too isolationist. I think that protecting one’s heritage and culture is admirable, but denying the rest of the world at the same time. . . .”

Seymour arched a brow at his mate, mildly surprised to hear such sentiments coming from a man who knew so little about Spira as a whole, and until recently, had not particularly cared to. He turned his attention back to the fight and observed, “They would do well to learn from Kimahri. He has learned from them, yet they do not do the same. Biran will not win, due to his shortsightedness, arrogance, and lack of control over his emotions.”

And so it was, with Biran knocked out only minutes later. Kimahri stood proudly, his swishing tail the only sign of his high emotion.

Biran eventually struggled to his feet and said, “Strong is Kimahri. Biran is happy. Sacred Mount Gagazet! I honor the name of the warrior who defeats Biran. Remember always, Gagazet! That name is Kimahri!”

Yenke added, “Mountain knows Kimahri strong. Kimahri may pass.”

Snow piled more thickly as they continued on, a serenade of sorts accompanying them in the form of the Ronso singing the Hymn of the Fayth. They had barely reached the first bend in the path when they paused again.

“What . . . are those?” Tidus asked, gesturing at a pile of rocks with a weapon wedged into them.

“These mark the graves of summoners and guardians who failed,” Lulu said. “Summoners that die up here . . . aren’t sent to the Farplane.”

“Why not?”

“Who would send them? They die alone,” she responded.

“So that means. . . .”

Lulu nodded. “Many become fiends, and they may want Yuna’s company.”

“Well, Yuna will be fine.”

She nodded again, then sighed and said, “All this way, only to fail. It must have been tough.”

Seymour judged that they had traversed roughly half the mountain (if he was remembering correctly) when they happened upon a young man sheltering along one part of the path.

“Greetings, Lady Yuna. My name is Wantz.”

“We have met several times before, right?”

“Not running today?” Tidus asked.

“I have to carry on my brother’s business. You’ve met him, I think. O’aka XXIII, merchant extraordinaire?”

Tidus blinked. “Wait, you’re that guy’s brother?”

“My brother wanted to come help Lady Yuna. But the temple imprisoned him for speaking openly about his views on the Bikanel attack.”

“They imprisoned him because of that!?” Tidus said disbelievingly. “No wonder people are leaving the city.”

“He doesn’t regret it, though. In fact, he told me before they took him, ‘Don’t worry about me, just go help Lady Yuna.’”

“But, why would your brother do this for us?” Yuna asked.

“Well. . . . Hey, this isn’t the time for talking! There’s dealing to be done! Welcome to O’aka’s!”

Seeing that no more would be gotten from the man, members of the party pawed through Wantz’s wares to see if there was anything they might wish to purchase before continuing on. Seymour topped off his own supply of potions, absently wondering what sort of arcane magic merchants employed to be able to carry so much stuff around with them everywhere.

Before they left Yuna said, “I will be sure to keep your brother in my prayers.”

“He’s doing the same for you, Lady Yuna.”

“Thanks.”

Some distance beyond that Tidus tripped over a sphere. Rikku bounced over and plucked it off the ground, not bothering to give the blond a hand up, then activated it. Braska could be seen on one of the snow-covered paths of Mt Gagazet, with Auron in the background.

“Hello, Yuna. I hope you are well. I wonder how old you are, now that you’re watching this sphere. You must be very beautiful, like your mother. I wish I could see you. Oh, by the way . . . Jecht and Auron send their regards. So far, our journey has been very entertaining. Of course, it is a hard journey, but I have no regrets. It is the path I have chosen.

“Yuna, when you have grown, you will have to find your own path. Do what you must do, the way you want to do it. Doors will always open themselves to those who do. Listen close, Yuna. Your future is yours to make. Live the way you want to. Whatever way that may be, you have your father’s full support. Yuna, I will always be with you.”

Braska walked toward the sphere camera and took it, the view changing briefly to show Jecht before it shut off.

Yuna closed her eyes for several moments, then took a deep breath and continued on.

Eventually they arrived at a wide plateau hedged in by the mountain on three sides, while the last was open to a breathtaking vista. Stretched out below them was a section of Spira that was nearly unknown; to Seymour’s knowledge no one lived there or had even explored recently, though he could not discount the curiosity of the Al Bhed.

He tore his eyes away finally and moved toward the majority of the party, only to pause when he heard Rikku say, “Zanarkand is on the other side, you know?”

“I know,” Tidus said quietly.

“Yunie is gonna get the Final Aeon, you know?”

“I know.”

“I still haven’t thought of anything.”

“Me neither.”

“What are we gonna do?”

“We’ll do something! We just don’t know enough yet. Until we do, we really can’t help Yuna. Let’s go to Zanarkand. We’ll find something there. It’ll all come together! I know it!”

“Hey. . . . Just now you sounded like a leader, you know?”

“Star of the Zanarkand Abes! Didn’t anyone tell you?” Tidus came to his side and smiled, and together they walked on.

As they emerged into another open area within the mountain’s sides Yuna said, “Wow!”

Seymour looked around, remembering his own journey. To his left was a depression masked with aqua-blue streams of . . . something, that spiraled up into the sky. Those same tendrils covered the rock beneath their feet, emanating from the right, where the rock face was adorned with a multitude of partial bodies, and a huge inset disc covered in symbols.

“Wh-what are those?” Wakka asked, eyes wide.

“Those are Fayth,” Yuna said. “A summoning! Someone is using these Fayth! Someone is drawing energy from all of them!”

“This many?” Rikku asked.

Lulu studied the wall for a moment, then said, “Who wields power on this scale, and what could they be calling?”

Rikku dashed over to Seymour, a frustrated look on her face. “Hey, you know something, don’t you? Spill the beans!”

“Look not to others for knowledge. This is your journey, too.”

“Yunie might die, you know?” Rikku protested.

“No, Seymour is right,” Tidus said slowly. “This is something we need to learn for ourselves.” He reached up a hand, seemingly fascinated, then touched one of the Fayth.

*

Interlude: He found himself suddenly in Zanarkand. His Zanarkand. “Eh?” Tidus spotted his home, the houseboat, and walked onto it, then inside, starting in surprise at seeing the boy-form of the Bevelle Fayth. The figure was glowing, pyreflies lazily floating around it.

“Welcome home.”

“You. . . .”

“Remember me? We met in Bevelle.”

“Yeah.” Of course he remembered.

“But that wasn’t the first time we met. I’ve known about you for a long time. A long, long time.”

“Where are we?” He knew where he was, but this shouldn’t be possible.

“Silly, don’t recognize your own home?”

Tidus’s attention was caught as a translucent Wakka appeared in his living room, and Rikku as well.

“What’s gotten into you? Hey!” Wakka said.

“Wake up! Wake up!” Rikku added, then both vanished.

“Wait . . . this is a dream.”

“Precisely.”

“A dream? Are you crazy? I don’t have time to be dreaming now!”

“You’re wrong,” said the Fayth. “It’s not that you’re dreaming. You are a dream.”

“Huh? Wait a sec.” Tidus scowled as the Fayth disappeared in a swirl of pyreflies. He ran outside and scanned the area, then dashed up a short flight of steps to the upper deck of the houseboat.

“Long ago, there was a war.”

“Yeah, with machina, right?”

“Yes. A war between Zanarkand and Bevelle. Bevelle’s machina assured their victory from the start. Spira had never seen such power. The summoners of Zanarkand didn’t stand a chance. Zanarkand was doomed to oblivion. That’s why we tried to save it—if only in a memory.”

“What did you do?”

“The remaining summoners and the townspeople that survived the war. . . . They all became Fayth—Fayth for the summoning.”

“The summoning. . . . You mean Sin?”

“No,” the Fayth said, gesturing around with one hand. “I mean this place. A Zanarkand that never sleeps.”

“What?” His worst fears were starting to crash in on him, but he could not help but listen to the small figure. And damn it, he would not cry.

“The dreams of the Fayth summoned the memories of the city. They summoned all the buildings, all the people who lived there.”

“The people. . . . What, they’re all dreams? Me, too?”

“Yes, you’re a dream of the Fayth. You, your father, your mother, everyone. All dreams. And if the Fayth stop dreaming. . . .”

Tidus blinked as everything changed. All that remained was a Zanarkand devoid of any buildings, the only thing left the houseboat they were standing on. “No! So what if I’m a dream! I. . . . I like being here.”

“We’ve been dreaming so long . . . we’re tired. Would you and your father. . . . Would you let us rest? Both you and your father have been touched by Sin. Sin, the one whom all Spira—the spiral—revolves.”

“What are you saying?”

“You two are more than just dreams now.”

A translucent Yuna flicked into view long enough to cry, “Wake up! Wake up, please!”

“Now wait just a minute,” Tidus said. “Am I even really me, then? Or am I just some crappy imitation of someone who lived a thousand years ago? Some collection of memories only allowed to exist at the whim of a bunch of willfully bound souls? And what do you mean, more than just dreams? Are you trying to tell me that if you stop dreaming, I’ll disappear? How is that possible!? How is it possible for a mere dream to become Sin!? How is it possible for a mere dream to be the destined mate of a living, breathing Guado!?”

The Fayth appeared to sigh and turned to face him. “Tidus, you are more than just a dream, as is your father. Sin . . . is a creature that can transcend reality. Like the Fayth it can exist both in Spira and in the dream world, because it is partly a dream, a summoning.”

“Huh?”

“When Sin came to your Zanarkand, and inadvertently touched Jecht, it gave him substance and made him real. Your father was torn away from the dream and left in Spira, a man just as real as Braska. After your father became Sin he returned to the dream long enough to bring to you Auron.”

“An Unsent Auron.”

“Yes. And later, as you well know, Sin returned again to collect the both of you. By that action, you were touched by Sin, and like Jecht, you became more than just a dream.”

“So if this all ends. . . .” Tidus waved his hand around. “I won’t disappear? I can try to help save Spira from Sin, keep Yuna from dying, and I can try to help the Fayth rest?”

The figure tilted its head to one side. “And what if you did disappear?”

Tidus exhaled noisily and slumped to the deck. “You . . . created me. For all I know . . . the original me is one of the Fayth in that wall.” He fought back the urge to cry, tilting his head back abruptly to gaze at the shifting patterns of light in the sky.

“I guess I would continue anyway,” he said haltingly. “To stop now would mean certain death for Yuna, and who knows how many others after her. I have to try! I would regret, though, hurting Seymour.”

“We are pleased,” said the Fayth, a hint of warmth creeping into its voice. “Just a little more, and maybe. . . . Maybe you are the dream that will end our dreaming at last.”

Tidus blinked back the moisture in his eyes, then blinked again and looked around.

“Are you all right?” Yuna asked, a look of deep concern on her face.

“Hey! We were so worried about you!” Rikku said.

“I. . . . I’m okay.”

“What happened?”

Tidus wanted to laugh, though not from amusement. What happened, indeed. “Nothing. . . . I blacked out. I was dreaming. You called me . . . and I woke up. Nothing like a good nap! Well, I’m ready. Let’s go.”

*

Seymour narrowed his eyes dangerously as Tidus accepted a hand up from Wakka. There was no way his mate had simply taken an impromptu nap. His gaze flicked over to the Fayth wall, then back to Tidus, and his mate gave him a somewhat haunted look as he walked toward him, then smiled faintly.

“The Trials of Gagazet await,” Seymour said.

“Yes,” Yuna replied, then, “But this mountain is harsh. We will rest briefly. Please, someone start a fire.”

Wakka produced a pile of wood from their supplies and set it up, then stepped back so Lulu could set it ablaze with a well placed spell. That section of the mountain was warmer than the rest, but still chilly.

Yuna sat down on the bare rock and pulled Tidus down with her, then said softly, “I know you’re hiding something from me. What is it?”

Seymour took a seat beside his mate, forming a rough triangle, as the others also dropped down to rest. Only Kimahri remained standing, his eyes scanning the area alertly.

“I. . . .” Tidus heaved a sigh and said, “Sin . . . is my old man. Jecht is Sin.”

Seymour noticed in his peripheral vision that Lulu had placed a restraining hand on both Rikku and Wakka.

“How is that possible?” Yuna asked.

“Sin is my old man. My old man became Sin! I don’t know how or why he did it. I felt him, inside. And when I did, I knew it was true. My old man is Spira’s suffering. Sorry.”

“Even knowing that Sin is your father. . . . Still, you know, I must. . . .”

“I know. Let’s get him. I think my old man would want that.”

“You’d fight your own father?” Lulu asked quietly.

“Yeah. No problem there.”

“Uh. . . . ‘Bout your old man,” Wakka said. “You sure this ain’t some kinda bad toxin dream or something? Then, Chappu. . . . I, uh. . . . I think I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear nothing. I’m getting a little confused, ya? Why. . . . Why’d all this have to happen?”

Yuna turned her gaze on Seymour. “You know something. Tell me, please.”

“We will learn when we arrive. Soon. Until then, consider all that you have learned thus far.”

Conversation died a quick death. When Yuna felt she was ready she stood, prompting the others to do likewise. Lulu put out the fire with another spell, then followed the summoner into the nearby cave mouth, everyone else trailing along.

Seymour held Tidus back slightly, to walk at a slower pace. “That was not all.”

Tidus shook his head. “I was . . . a dream,” he whispered. “Like my old man. Sin made us real. That wall—the Fayth created a dream Zanarkand, my home.”

Seymour faltered, his chest tightening unpleasantly and making it hard for him to breathe. “A dream?” he asked cautiously.

His mate looked up at him, his eyes widening a second later. “The Fayth assured me that I’m real now. I won’t disappear on you, Seymour. I think you’re stuck with me.”

Tidus gave him a weak smile as the constriction in his chest eased. “I am glad to hear that, my sweet,” he said as they took a branching to follow the others within the cave.

“I guess . . . that kind of explains why I know so little,” Tidus added. “It’s just a dream, without any trappings of the war between Zanarkand and Bevelle. The Fayth didn’t exactly say it, but also didn’t deny it—I think Sin itself is a summon.”

Seymour shot an assessing look at his mate, then nodded. “Correct.”

“Okay. By who? And shouldn’t Yuna know this? And the others? Before the Final Aeon.”

Seymour sighed softly. “I must wonder what Auron would have done in this situation. Something tells me he would have waited until we arrived, until there was no time to do anything other than react according to the character of a person.”

“Huh? I don’t understand,” Tidus said as the group stopped and Wakka stepped up to handle the first trial, he being the only one capable for it.

“I could explain everything right now, but even with all that people have learned, do you think they would believe? Had you been told of these things back when you first met Yuna, what would you have done? What do you think Wakka would have done?”

Tidus cleared his throat and slouched for a moment. “I wouldn’t have known anything anyway,” he pointed out. “Wakka would have denied everything and preached that we should trust in Yevon. He probably would have denounced anyone saying such things and labeled them an Al Bhed or Al Bhed sympathizer.”

Seymour nodded, pleased that his mate understood his reasoning. “Precisely, my sweet. Right now he is confused, but far more open to seeing the truth behind Yevon. Lulu is very intelligent, and this is her third pilgrimage as a guardian, but even she, up until recently, would have had much the same reaction. Them aside, Yuna’s views are the most important, as it is she who is summoner.”

“And Yuna isn’t stupid,” Tidus commented. “If Sin is a summon, though. . . . Is it even possible to free a Fayth? To stop the summoning?”

“I suppose that is what we must find out.”

Wakka completed the first trial so they backtracked and took the other branching of the path, eventually arriving at a watery section best left to the two blitzers and Rikku. Seymour felt a great deal like fidgeting as his lover swam out of view, unable to stifle his worry, though knowing that Tidus was a fairly formidable warrior in his own right.

They returned a short time later to shake the water from their persons, then stand still long enough for Lulu to use a bit of careful fire magic to dry them off. They backtracked a second time, though a much shorter distance that time, and took the final branching within the cave system.

Seymour knew they were close to the exit when they were forced to climb a series of ledges, then walk a sharply sloping pathway. And there, up ahead, was a circle of light, evidence of another cave mouth.

“They’ll be upon us soon. She will send fiends to test our summoner’s strength,” Seymour commented to no one in particular.

“Who is ‘she’?” Yuna inquired.

“Yunalesca.”

“Lady Yunalesca?”

Seymour nodded. “In Zanarkand, she awaits the arrival of the strongest.”

“She . . . is still alive?”

He gave her a half smile. “As much as Mika, or Auron was.”

“I see,” Yuna replied a bit stiltedly.

“Shall we continue?” he invited.

“Yes,” she said firmly.

“I think your father would be proud of you.”

“Then . . . I must not let him down.”