Grazhir :: Final Fantasy :: Kaleidoscope :: 08 :: Zanarkand

Kaleidoscope :: 08 :: Zanarkand

Zanarkand: They dashed up the stairs Yunalesca had taken and in through the door; she was waiting for them. “Have you chosen the one to become your Fayth? Who will it be?”

“Might I ask something first?” requested Yuna. “Will Sin come back even should I use the Final Summoning to defeat it?”

“Sin is eternal. Every Aeon that defeats it becomes Sin in its place. . . . And thus is Sin reborn. Sin is an inevitable part of Spira’s destiny. It is never ending.”

“Never ending? But . . . but . . . if we atone for our crimes, Sin will stop coming back, ya? Someday, it’ll be gone, ya?”

“Will humanity ever attain such purity?” Yunalesca countered.

“This . . . this cannot be!” Lulu protested. “The teachings state that we can exorcise Sin with complete atonement! It’s been our only hope all these years!”

“Hope is . . . comforting. It allows us to escape fate, however tragic it might be.” The Unsent sounded just as callous as Seymour would have expected of her.

“No!” Tidus made to step forward, but was interrupted by another memory.

Auron appeared, looking ready to do battle. “No! Where is the sense in all this? Braska believed in Yevon’s teachings and died for them! Jecht believed in Braska and gave his life for him!”

A ghostly image of Yunalesca replied to him, “They chose to die . . . because they had hope.”

Auron’s memory brandished his sword and attacked, but was easily thrown back. He landed in an unmoving heap, then vanished in a swirl of pyreflies.

“Yevon’s teachings and the Final Summoning give the people of Spira hope,” Yunalesca continued, as though the memory had not happened. “Without hope, they would drown in their sorrow. Now, choose. Who will be your Fayth? Who will be the one to renew Spira’s hope?”

Yuna’s eyes blazed. “No one. I would have gladly died. I live for the people of Spira, and would have gladly died for them. But no more! The Final Summoning . . . is a false tradition that should be thrown away.”

Yunalesca disagreed. “No. It’s our only hope. Your father sacrificed himself to give that hope to the people. So they would forget sorrow.”

“Wrong. My father. . . . My father wanted . . . to make Spira’s sorrow go away. Not just cover it up with lies!”

“Sorrow cannot be abolished. It is meaningless to try.”

“My father. . . . I loved him. So I. . . . I will live with my sorrow, I will live my own life! I will defeat sorrow, in his place. I will stand my ground and be strong. I don’t know when it will be but someday, I will conquer it. And I will do it without . . . false hope.”

“Poor creature. You would throw away hope. Well. . . . I will free you before you can drown in your sorrow. It is better for you to die in hope than to live in despair. Let me be your liberator.”

“Oh, no,” said Tidus. “I am not going down without a fight! I am not going to die at the hand of someone who’s been around for so long they’ve lost all humanity.”

“I agree!” Yuna said, then readied her staff.

“Yuna needs Kimahri. Kimahri protect Yuna.”

“Well, I’m fighting!” Rikku chimed in.

“I can’t believe we’re gonna fight Lady Yunalesca! Gimme a break!”

“You can always run, Wakka,” Lulu said dryly.

“Hah! I’d never forgive myself—no way! Not if I ran away now. Even in death, ya!”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“Yuna!” Tidus stepped up beside her, sword at the ready, and Yunalesca engaged them.

The Unsent was vicious, not only countering everything they attempted with effects designed to prevent more of the same, but she also attacked. After a few rounds of spending more time depleting their supplies over doing damage, Yuna got the bright idea to cast reflect on everyone. And while they were able to defeat her, it was not the end.

Defeat in that case simply triggered a transformation on the Unsent’s part, into something straight out of a nightmare. The party was more often in zombie status than healthy, and phoenix downs were flung about like candy. It was just as bad when Yunalesca transformed a second time, though it became apparent that being healthy was not a preferred status given one of her common attacks.

However, with patience and perseverance the party prevailed, defeating the Unsent a third, and final, time. She reverted back to a human form and said, “If I die, so does the Final Aeon. And with it, Spira’s only hope.”

“Then we’ll find Spira a new hope!” Tidus said confidently, then added a bit snidely, “And besides, you’re already dead.”

“Fool. There is no other way. Even if there was. . . . Even if you did destroy Sin . . . Yu Yevon the immortal would only create Sin anew.”

“Daddy, huh?”

“Ah . . . Zaon. . . . Forgive me. . . . Spira has been robbed of the light of hope. . . . All that remains is sorrow.” Yunalesca collapsed to the floor and ceased moving, then dissolved into pyreflies.

Yuna stared at the spot for a short time, then said, “I cannot believe what we just did.”

“Let’s do something more unbelievable.”

“What?” Rikku asked Tidus.

“Destroy Sin,” he replied. “So it won’t come back, and without the Final Aeon. I don’t know how just yet, but we’ll figure it out.”

Yuna sighed and nodded, not that there was much else to do in the way of a response, and said, “We need to leave this place. Maybe it’s silly, but it gives me the creeps.”

“Well,” Rikku said slowly, “pops is supposed to come for us once the airship is fixed, but unless he’s miraculously waiting for us outside, I suppose we should just head back the hard way. I’d almost rather camp on Mt Gagazet than in Zanarkand again.”

Tidus wrinkled his nose and looked to Seymour, who said, “There is nothing here aside from fiends that would mean us harm, and that is true of most places in Spira. Still, one place is usually as defensible as the next, and this place holds many bad memories.”

“Kimahri knows of hot springs on sacred Mt Gagazet. Kimahri show.”

Rikku squealed and bounced in place. “Ooo, a bath!”

Lulu and Yuna also looked fairly interested, though refused to be quite so girly about it, and that rather decided things. The trip back out of the stadium was strangely quiet, and attacks by fiends were less, almost as if Yunalesca was part of what called them to reside there, or even into being.

Most breathed a sigh of relief on gaining the outdoors, despite the sad ruins now plainly visible in the daylight, then were brought up short on spying the hulking mass known as Sin lurking not far offshore.

The creature did not move or give any outward sign that it meant to attack, though Seymour noticed that his mate seemed inordinately focused on it, rather like he was attempting to communicate. And then Tidus dropped his gaze, and Sin shifted backward into deeper water, then turned and sank beneath the waves.

Unfortunately there was no sign of Cid’s airship so they began the trip back, up and out of the city, and toward Gagazet. It wasn’t until they had reached the promontory that anyone spoke.

“That was the weirdest thing, ya?” Wakka said. “Sin, just like that, backin’ off.”

“I don’t know if he could understand me,” Tidus said softly, “but I tried to tell him we’d figure it out. It sounds silly, but, I think he was worried because we destroyed any chance of there being another Final Aeon.”

“And I,” Seymour interjected, “believe that lends proof to my earlier theory. Sin as Jecht is not trying to bring death to you, but rather get your attention so that you can set him free. Not once has Sin permanently damaged any of you, and that speaks highly of the idea that a part of Sin really is governed by the soul and mind of Jecht.” He was rewarded by a tentative smile from his mate.

As they passed the Fayth Wall Maechen was again noticed. He seemed to pop up in rather peculiar places in Seymour’s opinion, but who knew the true agenda of the Unsent?

“Lady Yuna,” Maechen said warmly, in no way indicating that he recognized the direction of their approach. “Shall I tell you about the Spira of days long past, eh?”

Yuna nodded, so the old man said, “There is a legend, you know. Just before the horrible Sin appeared . . . a terrible war raged between Bevelle and Zanarkand. When the armies of Bevelle attacked Mt Gagazet, they heard a song echoing across the snowy slopes. ‘‘Tis a song from an otherworld,’ they said, and the soldiers panicked and ran. And then, as if to pursue the retreating armies, Sin appeared!

“Some time later, scouts from Bevelle braved the mountain. On the other side, they witnessed the ruins that had been Zanarkand. The city destroyed. Not a single soul left standing. Gone! In its place, a multitude of the Fayth had gathered on Gagazet. They were singing a song, the song we now call the ‘Hymn of the Fayth’. And that, as they say, is that. Well . . . maybe not all of it.”

Maechen paused with a look of inquiry, then launched into another speech at Yuna’s nod of encouragement. “Rumors flew in Bevelle about Sin’s sudden appearance. They said that the people of Zanarkand became the Fayth, that they had called Sin. And that the man responsible . . . was none other than the summoner Yevon, ruler of Zanarkand! Yes, the lord father of Lady Yunalesca. On the eve of Zanarkand’s destruction, Lady Yunalesca . . . had fled to safety with her husband, Zaon. Later, the two used the Final Summoning to defeat Sin. Yet the people of Bevelle still feared Yu Yevon.

“It was to quell his wrath that they revered him, and first spread his teachings. And so were born the temples of Yevon. I suppose it’s possible Yunalesca had planned it that way from the start! A fair trade, she defeats Sin in exchange for her lord father’s honor. Of course, there’s no proof. No, the facts are lost in the mists of time. And who’d admit Yevon was an enemy of Bevelle? You can bet the temples had a hand in covering that one up! And that, as they say, is that.”

“Then what about the hymn, huh?” Wakka said. “If it was a Zanarkand song, what’s it doing now as. . . ?”

“Let me tell you about the Hymn of the Fayth,” Maechen said, his face expressing his pleasure at getting to expound once more. “It was once a Zanarkand song, yes, but sung in defiance of Bevelle! Of course, the Yevon clergy of Bevelle forbade it. Then, as these things often go, those who disliked Yevon began to sing it. The Al Bhed, for instance. The Hymn of the Fayth became the symbol of defiance against Yevon. Yevon could do nothing but capitulate. They lifted the ban on the song, and spread a new story.

“They said the hymn was a song sung to soothe the souls of the dead. And so saying, they took the song and made it scripture. That’s why today, the hymn is sung all over Spira. You could say that, though Zanarkand is gone from this world, it lives on in the song.”

Seymour raised a cynical brow and finally voiced his own thoughts. “Legend, you say? My dear man, you are . . . quite ancient, are you not? You speak almost as though from experience.”

Maechen’s eyes went a bit shifty at that. “Aaaah, but look at the time. I’ve rambled on again. I do love stories, you see. Well, I owe you my gratitude for hearing this old scholar out.”

The old man hastily toddled off, leaving Seymour to restrain himself from an eye roll, and the others to mild confusion over the abrupt retreat. Kimahri caught everyone’s eyes a short time later by pointing upward, bringing to their attention how that portion of the mountainside was stepped. “We climb. Kimahri show you hot spring.”

And they did, eventually being led into a fairly large cave that radiated warmth from a shimmering pool of water. “Kimahri guard entrance,” the Ronso said, then stationed himself looking outward within the short tunnel that led outside.

Yuna and the girls exchanged glances, then scurried behind one of the larger rock formations, the faint sound of giggling wafting out. Seymour chuckled and pulled Tidus to him and firmly faced the other way before taking a seat, then smiled when Wakka joined them.

“So, pretty confusing, ya? But”—Wakka furrowed his brow in a compelling display of deep thought—“if Sin’s armor is like . . . souls, then couldn’t summoners try to weaken it by doing Sendings?”

Seymour blinked in surprise and turned the idea over in his mind. “You may have something there.”

“Hey! Then all the summoners could help,” Tidus said enthusiastically. “It wouldn’t hurt, right?”

“And,” came Lulu’s voice from behind them, “Sin seems to take distinct comfort in the Hymn of the Fayth. Perhaps that could be used to calm or distract it.”

Seymour started to turn in response, then checked himself. “Yes, that might also be a wise course. Perhaps we could encourage the people of Spira to that at an opportune moment.”

“Though, to what purpose exactly?” Tidus mused.

“Sin is not a living creature in the sense that we are,” Seymour said thoughtfully. “It is possible that if weakened by those tactics, and even direct attacks, we could . . . slip inside? And then make our way directly to the source of the problem, Yu Yevon himself.”

“Well, it couldn’t be, right?” Tidus questioned. “And if a Final Aeon can defeat it, but then becomes Sin, and there’s that time gap, then something is obviously going on for it to regenerate, right? If souls are used as armor, that might also be why it’s common for Sin to be defeated in the Calm Lands. It’s fairly close to Zanarkand, which is packed with pyreflies and fiends. Still, wouldn’t that mean we’d be at risk if Yuna or any summoner were to use a normal Aeon near Sin?”

Splashing noises erupted behind them, then Yuna’s voice could be heard. “Perhaps we should speak to the Fayth directly?”

“Is that even possible?” Rikku’s voice asked.

“Sure, I’ve spoken to the Bevelle Fayth several times,” Tidus said, then winced. “I mean, when we were there, and then, uh, when I blacked out at the Fayth Wall, though maybe that time was just a dream.”

Seymour smirked faintly. “They might be persuaded to venture an opinion if asked.”

They talked about that and other things for some time, certainly long enough for the girls to complete their bath and for the men to have their own, then set up a watch rotation for the night and claimed their rest. The next morning they continued on down the mountain, pausing briefly to speak with Maester Kelk, then journeyed on.

As they approached the bridge across the gorge Baralai emerged from underneath and hastened over. He bowed and said, “Lady Yuna! Have you come to—” He stopped in confusion as he got a good look at the party. “You are all of you all right? I . . . don’t understand.”

“We are,” Yuna said. “Perhaps you will walk with us? We can discuss this in a more . . . congenial setting.”

And they had barely made it onto the broad plains of the Calm Lands when Rikku shouted and jumped, waving wildly at something in the sky. They were obviously spotted, as the airship came in to land as near to them as it could, and Rikku rushed forward and clambered onboard, yelling for the others to join her.

She led them inside and to the bridge, bolting off the lift to launch herself at an older man. “Pops!”

“Well,” he said around an armful of female, “you all look okay. What’s going on?”

“Oh, pops! We—”

“Uncle Cid,” Yuna said. “I’m really happy to see you.”

“You’re alive, and that’s what counts. Now what’s going on?”

“Pops, we defeated Lady Yunalesca! There’s no more Final Aeon! We gotta find a new way to defeat Sin, and we think we know how!”

Cid pushed his daughter back firmly but gently, and looked to Yuna for a less excitable explanation. Baralai was fascinated with the ensuing explanation, and looked to Seymour’s eyes to be quite relieved. Of course, it did not hurt that Yuna and Baralai kept sneaking glances at each other, lending credence to the idea that something would evolve given half a chance.

“So, we think it would be a good idea to revisit the temples,” Yuna concluded, “before we do anything else.”

“All right. And with this baby”—Cid patted a nearby console—“we can get places quick. And what about Mika in Bevelle?” He shot a suspicious look at Seymour. “He’s gonna be more ornery than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers when he finds out.”

“With any luck he will allow himself to move on,” Seymour replied smoothly. “If he is as convinced as Lady Yunalesca of the inevitability of Sin, his will to exist may vanish, and him with it.”

“If you say so,” Cid said gruffly. “Besaid first?” When Yuna nodded he barked out a few orders in Al Bhed, then said, “Rikku! Show everyone to the cabins and where they can eat.”

Seymour took advantage once again given the situation. As the trip to Besaid would take some time he pulled Tidus into the cabin he had chosen as soon as it was not impolite to do so, then pinned the young man to the wall and kissed him breathless.

“Now,” he whispered, “barring any unforeseen emergencies, I plan to have my way with you, my sweet. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh, yes,” his mate responded, then slid a hand inside Seymour’s outer robe to begin stroking his skin teasingly, sliding around his ribs to his back, then lower.

Seymour chuckled and bent his head again to kiss his mate, tangling one hand in the hair at the nape of Tidus’s neck while the other reached down to encourage his love to lift a leg to wrap around his waist. A minute later he was carrying Tidus over to the nearest bed and depositing him on it, then stripping off his clothing with celerity before reaching over to tug off his mate’s shoes.

Once he had relieved Tidus of clothing as well, as slowly and as teasingly as he could, he stretched out on the mattress and pulled his mate atop him. “I will kill anyone who dares interrupt us,” he said quite seriously, then proceeded to reduce his love to a quivering mess of desire, and further, several times.

*

The people of Besaid were incredibly surprised to see Yuna again, never mind a maester of Yevon, and each of them had something they simply had to say to her. It made the trip to the village slow, but Yuna would not brush off the people, regardless of any sense of urgency she might be feeling.

They eventually made it to the temple, and into the Cloister of Trials. By some strange coincidence Baralai was with them, and no one objected, perhaps inured at that point by Tidus’s previous behavior when it came to heathen dealings with the Fayth.

And so the entire party packed into the Fayth’s chamber to see what resembled a little girl with pigtails appear, hovering above her statue, and it did not wait to be addressed before speaking. “Sin is cursed. Sin prays. It curses its form, it prays for dissolution. Sin sees dreams of its own destruction. Sin is looking at us. We live in a fading echo of time left us by the destroyer. Free him from Yu Yevon. Free him—the Fayth that has become Sin.” And with that she vanished.

Back in the outer room Yuna said, “Well, that’s kind of confirmation?”

They returned to the airship, and then went to Kilika. The Fayth there was dressed in the manner of a Crusader, and offered, “Sin swam in the sea near Zanarkand. Perhaps the waking dream eased its suffering. Your father touched Sin and became real that night, foundering in the seas of Spira. How sad now, that he is caught in the tragic spiral. He is Sin. He is lost.”

Tidus was cornered once they left the chamber with questions about what the Fayth meant, since its words were obviously directed at him. He demurred long enough to return to the airship, then explained everything he knew about the origins of both his father and himself, and what the Fayth meant about the waking dream.

Wakka had a tendency for a while to poke Tidus experimentally every so often, just to make sure he was real, but aside from that everyone mostly took it in stride and turned their attention toward the next temple, Djose. That Fayth, resembling nothing so much as a ship’s captain, imparted, “For a long time, we had forgotten how to go forward. You reminded us we must go forward. Yes, we must run. Let us go, you who shared our dreaming, and we will run till the dream’s end.”

The Fayth of Macalania appeared to have once been a nun if its clothing was anything to go by, which Seymour found mildly amusing considering what the Aeon Shiva looked like in action. Still, “Should the dreaming end, it all will disappear—fade into Spira’s sea, Spira’s sky. But do not weep, nor rise in anger. Even we were once human. That is why we must dream. But we are weary, and would like to rest.”

“This is all very well,” Lulu said back on the ship, “but nothing of what they say is answering the question.”

“They aren’t really giving us the chance to ask,” Rikku pointed out. “They just appear, say something sorta cryptic, and vanish.”

“Then it must be Bevelle,” Tidus said firmly. “I know that Fayth is capable of, er, normal speech. Maybe the others are so caught up in dreams that . . . they can’t focus in this world well enough to . . . I dunno?”

“That reminds me,” Rikku said suddenly. “I overheard one of the men on the ship talking about Baaj Temple. One of his friends went there to explore, sorta like we were back when we found Tidus, and he mentioned that he could hear, faintly, the Hymn of the Fayth. Do you suppose there’s a Fayth there, too?”

For some reason everyone looked to Seymour for an answer, so he straightened up and said, “I see no reason not to check. And if there is a Fayth present, its help may be welcomed, and possibly its counsel.” And that made him wonder anew where his mother had been laid to rest, so to speak.

Cid was happy to fly them over, and investigation proved that there were entrances other than that of which Tidus or the Al Bhed had used previously. The room outside the Chamber of the Fayth sported six pedestals, each lit up with symbols of a distinct colour.

“They kind of remind me of the known temples,” Lulu said quietly.

“It’ll have to remain a mystery, I suppose,” Yuna said, then approached the barrier, which swung smoothly out of the way.

Inside was a Fayth, one that Seymour recognized immediately. The lady looked surprised. “Son. . . .”

Seymour inclined his head, both in respect and to hide the sudden wetness that stung his eyes. “Mother.” He was inordinately grateful when Tidus unobtrusively pressed against his side.

They stared at each other for a timeless moment before the lady looked to Yuna and said, “You desire my help? You do realize that . . . I cannot be a Final Aeon for any but my son, correct?”

“Yes. But we will defeat Sin nonetheless, and this time for good. We’re concerned, though, about what would happen should I summon any of you during our attack.”

The lady’s expression went contemplative. “I, more than the others, must feel some worry of my own, for I was fashioned to be a Final Aeon. You must seek out the wisdom of Bevelle’s Fayth, for I am unsure. Even so, I am willing to lend you the aid you seek, should you wish it of me.” She cast a lingering look at Seymour before returning her attention to Yuna.

Yuna looked over her shoulder at him. Seymour nodded, giving silent permission, so she gazed on the Fayth and said, “Please.”

“Then so shall it be.” With one final look at her son, the lady crouched and launched herself into Yuna, who was caught by Kimahri before she hit the floor.