auronlu: (passion)
[personal profile] auronlu
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 5:
Pearl
Final Fantasy X
Characters:
Isaaru, Maroda, Pacce, Auron, Lulu
Rating:
PG
Word Count: 1154
Summary: The encounter readers were waiting for. "Well, I am a goddess, you know."
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters)

The Story So Far: Maester Isaaru and his brothers take up the pilgrimage 13 years after Yuna dies defeating Sin. Teaming up with Sir Auron, they arrive at Kilika Island just as Sin does. Auron leaps overboard and stabs Sin, trying to turn it. He is lost when Sin disappears beneath the waves.




Auron slogged through darkness. He felt the lash of bitter rain against his skin like tiny sullen barbs, warning him to keep his distance. Now and again lightning flickered, but never long enough to show him what kind of landscape this dream-world might be. He felt parched despite the rain, and his feet and limbs were numb with cold. At last, after he had forgotten what time and distance meant, he found a leaping wall of flame barring his path. He braced himself for the searing heat and pushed through.

On the far side of this barrier, darkness took on clarity and shape. It was the black and silver of moonlight, wisps of cloud and patches of night sky overhead where stars glittered. At his back was a whispering jungle, shimmering with crickets and the distant cries of fiends. Its lush, fiercely alive scents nearly smothered him. Before him lay a placid harbor, gentle flecks of crested waves rising and falling like a woman's breast in sleep.

Sensing his destination now, he kicked through sand towards the breakers beyond the point where seaweed flexed over rocks jutting out from shore. When the sand gave out, he waded into the warm saltwater. Water had never been his element, but it was Sin's, and it suited her now as much as fire's wrath, lightning's flash and icy disdain had suited her before.

There. A glimmer of white. Easing himself over the sharp edges of shells, he pulled up short, arrested by the same vision that had spawned a cult. Familiarity was no defense.

Lulu lay back against the rocks and purple seaweed with regal indolence, black braids swirling around her waist each time a wave lapped over her. Fishnets still clung to her legs, but that was all she wore. No, not quite all. Her hands were cupped behind her head, but manacles bound her wrists, discreetly hidden by hair. She was chained to the rocks.

He stood gazing too long, apparently. A stinging smack of seawater drenched him, burning his eyes with salt. "Yevon has me still," Lulu warned. "And you, I suppose. You never meant to stay."

He shrugged. "I made a promise."

"Another chain."

For a moment he was not certain whether he still had his sword— Sin's dream was a haphazard slice of reality— but then he felt its reassuring weight. Bracing himself for the downward stroke, he raised it slowly, inexorably, like a guillotine's indrawn breath. Lulu, watching him, did not flinch. The blade dropped. There was a bone-jarring clang. Sparks flew from the chains, but it was the sword's edge that came away notched.

"Yu Yevon has me," she said again. "I am nearly his now. I've fought him for so long, Auron. He rides anger so easily." For a moment, an image of Yuna was dancing on the crest of a nearby wave. Then she tumbled beneath it, lost from view. It was hard to see in the moonlight, but the damp sand left behind by retreating waves was now stained red.

"Yes, I knew all their names," she said, eyes remote. "Even the infant's."

"You make a good Sin."

That set off a ripple of laughter, enough to set the waves sparkling under the moon. "Of course," she said with a hint of professional pride. Then the haughty smirk faded, and the moon withdrew behind a cloud. "Thank you for stopping me, this time."

"You stopped yourself."

"No." The mage shook her head, chains clanking faintly as she flicked a hand dismissively towards herself. "There's just one way I've found to keep Yu Yevon out of my mind for a while. One way...and it is a momentary diversion at most." Her lips twisted in a faint smile, self-deprecating, coolly amused. "None of them are you."

With a wrench it came whirling back to him, those nights late in the pilgrimage when weariness and delay were eating at his mind, threatening to unravel him with the transition to fiend that all unsent must undergo soon or late. She had helped him keep the madness at bay with a different kind of abandon.

He gave a soft snort. For Lulu, even the arts of Venus were a weapon.

Even now he sensed the siren's allure of her presence like the tug of the moon on the tides— dream though this was, and both their bodies a lie meant to fool the living. Stooping, he wedged the black sword in a bank of mussels, then lowered himself into the tidepool and dropped to one knee, gathering her face in his hands.

She greeted him with a profoundly private, delicate, almost reverent kiss, like those she used to give his ruined eye the few times he'd let her touch it; yet the merest graze of her lips now threatened to drag him under and drown him on the spot. Perhaps he waited a little longer than necessary for her lids to droop and her breathing to quicken. The wind picked up, driving flecks of foam against his face and bare arm. Reluctantly he pulled away, caressing her cheek. Even that seemed to sear his skin right through the glove.

"Sorry," he said. "No time for worship. Lulu, I must know: why is Yu Yevon freeing the fayth?"

Sir Auron! Abruptly a voice from a different life cut shrilly through the timeless music of lapping waves and surf, transgressing Sin's inner sanctum. Please, sir, wake up!

The dream-world rippled, shattered in spreading rings, and smoothed out again.

"Isn't it obvious?" she said. "Yuna and I, and you and Kimahri, we came very near to destroying Yu Yevon. The pilgrimage has become a threat."

Auron frowned. Something was inside out. For a moment he could not place it, until he realized that they were no longer seeing eye to eye, his left mirrored by her right. The sweep of black hair covered the wrong side of her face. He reached out to brush the black curtain aside. When it fell back, her face had reversed from left to right beneath his touch.

"You know," she whispered urgently. "Yu Yevon thinks he knows."

"Sir Auron!" The braying summons came again. Auron abruptly felt himself fighting for air, choking, straining to hold the fabric of the dream around himself like a fraying cloak. The sea hissed angrily. Lightning tracers scurried across the sky. Her braids coiled around his arms, his legs, his chest and throat, spilling into his lungs. Mine, mine, the surf seemed to snarl. His vision went from half to none. It felt like a crew of Al Bhed was nailing his brain to the inside if his skull.

Then smooth arms were lifting him towards the surface as gently as jungle fronds reaching for the sun. Sharp concern washed over him in a fading echo. "Go. Hurry. Be. Look for me in my garden, Auron; we'll talk later."

And the dream tore.


Next Chapter: Flotsam


 

Date: 2008-06-11 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlsigman.livejournal.com
Gods, this hurts. Wonderfully done.

Date: 2008-06-25 04:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muggy-mountain.livejournal.com
Ack, another excellent chapter. My only criticism is that it might be a tad long for a single chapter --perhaps you'd keep more readers if you cut them up?

That aside, wow. I love Lulu's sin-word. The imagery is beautiful and appropriate. Their chemistry is apparent and heart-breaking. The vision breaking is eerie and haunting. You're dropping barely dropping more hints than Auron is to the other characters, and it works really well. The pilgrimage has become a threat? Intriguing!

I'm enjoying seeing Maroda developed as well, he reminds me a bit of a young Auron, perhaps slightly more distrusting. Dona and Barthello are comforting to see and spot-on. The bit with the girl is adorable, of course.

I'm really looking forward to more and sorry I took so long to read this one.

Date: 2008-06-25 07:23 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (butterflies)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
You're right, I ought to split it, especially with that Maroda conversation I tacked onto the end.

Chapter 6 is taking forever because I have to foreshadow (and write) chapter 7 first.

Pacce's definitely somewhat modelled on Tidus -- Tidus if he'd grown up in Spira and was fluent in that world and its dangers. Also, Tidus was a bit more of a hotshot and solo character, whereas Pacce is ALWAYS the little brother to Maroda and Isaaru, and they've probably been teaching him caution and prudence.

Now I want to write more with Pacce and Barthello.

Odd. I used to hate the Dona character; FFX-2 did at least get me to appreciate her more.

Date: 2008-06-25 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muggy-mountain.livejournal.com
There was a wonderful Barthello and Dona story written by our sorely missed [livejournal.com profile] mneme_forgets that helped me to appreciate them, but then I've always felt for that bumbling fanboy Barthello.

Date: 2008-07-13 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cumuluscastle.livejournal.com
*guilt* Thanks for the sweet compliment. I didn't mean to vanish!

Date: 2008-07-13 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cumuluscastle.livejournal.com
I really enjoy this version of Sin's inner landscape. It makes a lot of sense that Jecht's looked like a version of the Zanarkand he lives in and Lulu's looks a lot like Besaid.

I enjoy the fact that you are using the metaphor the game provided in the form of the sigils to provide an image of how Lulu looks as a summoned creature, although, I did wonder a little, because when Tidus first encounters Jecht, he looks just like himself, in ghostly form. I still appreciate the imagery though and it's not like I think everything always has to be the same as the game. A siren-Lulu is a wonderful idea and fits the images that the sailors see when they get Sin-toxin.

I like Lulu's answer to Auron's question, nice and cryptic. I like the way he seems to be seeing her wrong in his dream-state and this seems to be mirroring some sense of wrongness that he feels about what she is saying (or that's how I saw it anyway).

Date: 2008-07-13 06:59 pm (UTC)
ext_79737: (fangirl)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
Square didn't even change Lulu's model when she was 8 months preggers. Words are cheaper to re-render. I have to get my dose of purple prose every chapter or so, and I just loved the idea of a Cult of Sin and Lulu's Sin having a siren element.

And you are spot-on with your assessment of the cryptic answer and wrongness. Owlmoose asked me a thorny question a while back that caused me to make some embellishments to Isaaru's backstory, and it has had an odd ripple effect -- as soon as I made him start keeping secrets and telling white lies, it seemed like everyone else did too!

In other words, Auron's got competition.

Date: 2008-07-14 06:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] owlmoose.livejournal.com
(See, I told you I would catch up!)

I thought this might be where the story was going -- Yu Yevon forcing Sin to destroy the temples because the pilgrimage is now a threat to him -- but I like this conversation as a way to make that clear. I also like how you reimagined Sin's inner landscape to reflect Lulu's history as opposed to Jecht's; it suits both her and the story.

Now on to the next...

Date: 2008-11-28 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trekqueen.livejournal.com
shorter but very to the point. I'm glad you let us see this intimate moment between them yet Auron is still trying to find more details as to what is going on with Sin. *sniffle*

Date: 2015-03-31 03:50 am (UTC)
mintywolf: (mog tattoo)
From: [personal profile] mintywolf
I absolutely love the dreamscape vignettes inside Sin. They're such richly detailed paintings and so heavy with visual symbolism I want to illustrate them all ugh. I love tarot imagery, and although this isn't one, the portrait of the regal-but-captive siren woman feels like it ought to be.

I like the little environmental indicators of her goddess-like control over her inner kingdom too, like the waves smacking him when he looks at her too long or the clouds covering the moon when she stops laughing.

And the subtle wrongness he senses just as it starts to unravel. (Her hair being backwards was a nice touch. I'm always like Hey! when fan artists get it wrong. There's that little startle of unfamiliarity.) It's been a little while since I've read this, so I can't remember exactly. Yu Yevon speaking through her, so the answer she gave about why Sin is freeing the fayth was a lie? Or is she just fighting him for control of herself? I guess I'll find out. :)
Edited Date: 2015-03-31 04:20 pm (UTC)

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