auronlu: (dreaming)
[personal profile] auronlu
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 6:
Flotsam
Final Fantasy X
Characters:
Isaaru, Maroda, Pacce, Auron
Rating:
PG
Word Count: 1900
Summary: Hail to the conquering hero.
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage / Links to All Chapters

The Story So Far: Thirteen years after Yuna falls defeating Sin, Maester Isaaru and his brothers resume their pilgrimage with Sir Auron's help. Auron nearly drowns confronting Sin outside Kilika Harbor and turning aside its attack. While unconscious, he touches Sin/Lulu's spirit.



It wasn't every day that the dead returned to the light of day to find themselves drowning.

That was Auron's second thought. The first— no, not a thought, just instinct— was to punch the dark figure crouched over him, compressing his chest with deep thrusts accompanied by a crackling, gurgling noise that he failed to recognize as the sound of his own lungs. The water gushing out of his nose and mouth should have been a clue, but Auron's skull was still pounding like Luca Stadium. Luckily, the second thought made him chuckle, and that triggered a gut-wracking fit of coughing that kept him occupied until he had reclassified Maroda as a non-target. He clamped onto the man's wrist and pushed him away. "Enough."

"Whew!" Pacce's moon-face hovered into view. "You all right now, sir?"

That voice. Still half-drowned by dream, Auron transferred his grip to Pacce's collar. "Where is she?"

"Oh, great," said Maroda. "Sin's toxin." He sat back on his heels, glaring. "Hands off, or I'm throwing you back where I found you."

"Sorry." Releasing the boy, Auron turned away and squinted towards the ocean, resting on his side until another fit of coughing had passed.

"Were you trying to rescue somebody?" Pacce said, standing to scan the harbor.

There was still a harbor. Auron lay on a sloping shelf of rocks hemming the shore. To his right a sturdy causeway extended out to the village and marina. Quivering puddles gleamed on plank walkways. Wails from the nearest hut told of broken bodies on the breakwater, fishermen who had gone out each day to feed their families, setting themselves on Sin's altar as daily offerings. Pyreflies were spiralling up from the hut's smoke-hole. But the harbor was clear, apart from a few listing boats and the imposing mass of the S.S. Korra moored to the end of the main pier. Murmuring locals clustered in scattered knots along the docks, huddled together like restive gulls driven ashore by the outriders of a storm. There would be more sendings today, but the village had been spared obliteration.

You're welcome, Lulu.

"Sir?" Pacce prodded. "Do you want us to help look for her?"

Sitting up and squinting, Auron searched the strip of ocean visible beyond the seawall. Sparkling blue sped off to the horizon without the faintest scar to mark Sin's passage.

"No," he said. "She's gone."

"Oh." Blinking back tears, Pacce bowed in Yevon's prayer for some imagined damsel in distress.

Fighting the weight of his waterlogged coat, Auron hoisted himself to his feet and grunted at Maroda. "Thanks."

"Sure thing." The dark man grinned and got up, loping over to the end of the causeway to retrieve his spear propped against the pilings. "Just don't make a habit of it, man. I thought I was going to need a winch."

"I can't believe you jumped overboard with your sword and armor," Pacce said. "Weren't you afraid they'd pull you down?"

Auron shrugged. "Didn't matter. I can't swim."

"Correction," Maroda said, raising his voice. "It's not Sin's toxin. He's just crazy."

"Pilgrimage entails a certain degree of folly," Isaaru said, walking towards them from the hut where wails had given way to poignant silence. A pair of warrior monks marched behind. Isaaru's face was haggard, but his summoner's smile was undimmed. "Sir Auron. The villagers have asked me to convey their utmost gratitude; they saw your fight from afar. Your courage has saved Kilika."

"Partly."

The summoner raised his eyes to the smoke billowing up from the heart of the jungle behind them. "Yes. If you are recovered, we must go to the temple at once. There may be survivors. If not, we can at least pay our respects."

"Is that a summoner's command, or a priest's?" Auron said. "Sin won't wait."

"No. But where it is now, Yevon only knows."

Auron grimaced and said nothing.

"Sir Auron?" Pacce said shyly. "You know where Sin's going next...don't you?"

"Djose." He fixed the maester with a level stare. "After that, probably Macalania and Bevelle."

"No!" Isaaru pressed a fist to his breastbone as if trying to staunch a wound. "The aeons...and thousands of people in Bevelle—"

"Now, wait just a minute!" Maroda burst out. "With all due respect, sir, it's about time you explained how you're able to predict Sin's movements."

"You said it yourself," Auron said, ignoring the spear angled towards him.

"Yes." Isaaru set his hand above Maroda's, silently commanding him to stand down. "Sin is growing smarter. She's making the pilgrimage ahead of us to prevent the Final Summoning, yes?"

Auron arched an eyebrow at his choice of pronouns. "Correct."

"So why'd Sin get so clever all of a sudden?" said Pacce.

"It's like someone's telling it where we're going," Maroda growled.

"Maroda, please." Isaaru raised his hand, warding off further debate. A delegation of villagers was trickling towards them along the causeway, led by an old man, a woman and several children. The little ones bore armloads of flowers, purple jungle blossoms and fuchsia interwoven with white rose petals. The straggling procession halted a few paces away and bowed in Yevon's prayer.

"Your Grace?" the woman said hesitantly. "My Lord Summoner?"

"Yes?"

"Welcome to Kilika," the old man said, flashing a snaggletoothed smile. "Though so far it's not been a welcome fit for a summoner, let alone the Grand Maester of Yevon. We'd like to make amends, my lord."

At his nod, the children tumbled over the side of the bridge and fanned out across the rocks, each one carrying a garland to Isaaru or one of his guardians. Isaaru bent, smiling, allowing one boy to hang a lei around his neck. "Even Sin cannot quench Kilikan hospitality."

"And we'd also like to welcome your guardians," the woman said. "Please accept these small tokens of thanks. Tomorrow will be a feast of thanksgiving. We hope you'll join us as guests of honor."

The youngest girl had taken too long in choosing a target and stood frozen, staring at the water dripping off the hem of Auron's sodden coat. He held out his hands. Mistaking the gesture, she scampered towards him with outstretched arms. He hesitated, expression inscrutable, then scooped her up and lifted her onto his shoulder. The urchin squealed and poked at his glasses. "He's old."

"Deir," the woman chided. "Please give Sir Auron his flowers."

Chastened, the girl hastened to drape the garland haphazardly around Auron's head, snagging it over one ear. She fussed for some time with the arrangement, trying it both outside and inside his collar before wrapping a few loops around the earpieces of his glasses and turning the garland into a wreath. His damp, salt-caked hair attracted her attention as well, and she gave it a thorough grooming with her fingers. Auron stood patiently until she was finished, then set her down with a gruff, "Thanks." A few nervous titters arose from nearby spectators.

Isaaru's lips twitched. Maroda tapped the end of his spear against a rock impatiently.

A woman's sneer drifted out to them from the curtain of vines fencing the jungle path. "Enjoying ourselves, are we?"

"Oh, great," Maroda muttered.

Dona stalked out into the sunlight and halted, propping a hand on her hip to survey the gathering. The former summoner appeared little changed, save that her summoner's ribbons were conspicuously absent. Her guardian Barthello blundered into the open behind her, acolyte's robes giving him the appearance of a badly-upholstered couch. He was smudged with soot.

"Barthello!" Pacce cried, taking an eager step towards the bulky man before remembering his post. Blushing, he altered course and planted himself by Isaaru.

"Lady Dona," Isaaru said with a courtly nod. Unruffled, he turned back to the villagers. "I and my guardians are honored and humbled by your generosity, people of Kilika: you're what makes a pilgrimage worth doing. I wish we could stay, but we can't rest until Sin is stopped. I'll send your fallen before we go. My warrior monks will remain here to tend the wounded and clear away sinspawn; they can follow on the ferry. Now, if you will excuse us—" He stooped to lift the smallest child back onto the causeway, ruffling her hair. "It seems that Lady Dona would like a few words with me."

"Your Grace," The woman bowed reverently.

"Come back when you've put Sin to rights, then!" the old man said brightly. "We'll have another feast. See he doesn't forget, eh, lads?" He winked at Pacce and Maroda.

"Uh." Maroda peered down at the village elder as if checking him for signs of toxin. "Right."

"Good lad." The old man gave him a sympathetic pat, then turned to help herd the children and spectators back towards the village. There were many warm and beaming smiles as they departed, but no one save the children and the codger would meet Isaaru's kindly gaze directly.

"You can save yourselves the trouble of a climb," Dona said. "There's nothing left."

"The priests?" Isaaru said. "The nuns?"

Dona shook her head. "We lost three and five— more, if this idiot hadn't decided to play hero." Barthello straightened and flexed. "The survivors are gathering what's left for sending. We'll be getting back to them after I've checked on things here. So what exactly happened?" She nodded towards the village. "Not as bad as I expected."

"Sir Auron was an idiot!" Pacce crowed. "He jumped on Sin's back and attacked it! He turned it away!"

Barthello's wooden face barely twitched, but his eyes shone. Auron gave a minute sigh.

"Must be getting senile," Dona said, eying the white-haired guardian skeptically. "Sin, that is. I assume this was after it blasted the temple into a molten crater."

"Before, actually," Maroda said.

"Hmph. Well, I suppose we should thank you, Sir Auron, although Isaaru's going to miss that aeon." She cocked her head at Isaaru. "Are you on pilgrimage, or do I need to come out of retirement?"

Barthello drew a step closer to her and gave Isaaru a pleading look.

"No." The maester smiled. "I trust that won't be necessary. Defend Kilika. I hope Sin will not trouble you again before I and my guardians have dealt with it."

"Thanks. Enjoy being Spira's new darling — not that you weren't already." For a moment she seemed at a loss, smirk covering a hint of worry or regret. Then she shook it away. "Come on, it looks like the village needs a few sendings. Why don't you boys play in the jungle while Isaaru and I finish up here." She snapped her fingers in dismissal at the four guardians, then stepped onto the causeway beside Isaaru. "Nice perk," she commented of his warrior monk escorts. "Maybe I should try for maester myself."

"Rumor has it there may soon be an opening," Isaaru said, offering his arm as they started back towards the village.

"Come on, Barthello!" Pacce said, clapping the giant on the shoulder. "Let's find Sir Auron a sword! Sin took his. You've got to see his killer armor breaking move!"

"I'll catch up with you all later," Maroda said. "One of us should guard Isaaru. Don't get hurt."


Next Chapter: Half-Truths
hits counter

 

Date: 2008-07-13 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cumuluscastle.livejournal.com
That would have been a hilarious Auron-moment. Punching his rescuers in the face.

Oh silly Spirans, still unable to understand Auron's cryptic comments. I like the way you preserve this habit of Auron's of speaking in riddles.

Ha! I love Maroda's "crazy Auron" comment. It fits him well too as he seemed like quite an amusing fellow from what little we see of him in the games.

It's great how Maroda suspects that Auron is like Sin's spy or something. I find that amusing and also a probable logical reason for the fact that Auron can predict Sin's movements.

Mrgh, Auron with a little girl in his arms makes my heart melt into a suspicious puddle. Good lord is that ever adorable and I think accurate. I believe he is infinitely more patient with children than he is with ordinary mortals.

Also, I love Barthello and Dona more than I should. The way she calls him "idiot" and "hero" at the same time *swoon.* In my opinion you've got their dynamic right on in that simple sentence.

Something seems to be missing here: "Hmph. Well, I suppose we should thank you, Sir Auron, although Isaaru's probably to miss that aeon." maybe just "going" after "probably?"

Date: 2008-07-13 07:02 pm (UTC)
ext_79737: (Default)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
Whoops! Yes. Signs of a sentence being rewritten 3-4 times. *fix*

I think I have an unconscious tip of the pen to your great Dona/Barthello story, because I'm pretty sure when I reread it after Muggy posted the link that it seemed familiar.

Auron had to be more patient with children than adults, or Tidus would be shish kabobs. But also he may simply not know what to do. (I can't squash the little bugger; it'll break and then people will be upset. If I stand very still it will leave soon enough.)
Edited Date: 2008-07-13 07:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-07-13 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cumuluscastle.livejournal.com
or Tidus would be shish kabobs

Ha ha ha. I like that. That's why I think he has a lot of patience with young people. I mean, much as he deals out hard truths to Tidus constantly and ribs him here and there for being weak, I don't see him doing that kind of thing with someone he thought was worthless.

I always see him as having a squishy marshmallow center that he will just never express in words. I mean, he obviously cares about everything deeply having come back from the dead to try to put things to rights.

Date: 2008-07-14 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] owlmoose.livejournal.com
The conversation between Auron and the brothers is priceless -- they all sound like themselves (and I've been meaning to complement you on how you've turned Pacce into a young man; I can see the boy he was, but he's clearly changed and grown), and just enough humor in their banter to keep the story from getting too heavy. I like the reappearance of Dona and Barthello as well, and all the hero-worship (Pacce of Barthello, Barthello of Auron). The welcoming ceremony is also a lovely touch of world-building.

One nitpick:

Maroda and Auron, at least, would recognize the pub's owner, Kulukan.

I can't tell from context whose thought this is, and as a consequence it feels like the voice of the writer. Not exactly sure how to suggest a fix, but I thought I would mention it.

Date: 2008-07-14 06:44 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (Default)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
You're right, and I probably should take out the references to Kulukan (one of the blitz players you can hire for the Besaid Aurochs) since her identity isn't relevant and she doesn't stick around long enough to be someone -- whereas Kiryuu actually plays a minor part in the story.

And yay, great critique/feedback -- I feel like I've been given two surprise yummy batches of fresh-baked brownies this weekend!
Edited Date: 2008-07-14 06:47 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-07-14 06:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] owlmoose.livejournal.com
You're welcome!! :) I'm enjoying reading and commenting; this is a fascinating tale, and I'm always intrigued by a good alternate history. You're not shying away from any of the implications, which I love.

Besides, it's not often that I get specifically asked for feedback. ;) So I am happy to oblige!

Date: 2008-11-28 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trekqueen.livejournal.com
*snerk* gotta love Dona... still with her flair even in the face of a near tragedy. At least it seems she's calmed a bit in her age. I could totally see Pacce and Barthello being buds. LOL

Date: 2015-03-31 04:10 am (UTC)
mintywolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mintywolf
A badly-upholstered couch, haha. :D

Hmmm I don't know if it's significant, but that's a very Lulu-appropriate selection of flowers the villagers are carrying. I've noticed you associate white roses with her. (I do too, for some reason.) Plus all the purple ones.

Auron's interaction with the little girl is priceless. :D

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