Title: Love Her and Despair
Final Fantasy X / X-2
Isaaru, Maroda, Pacce (this chapter), Auron. Later chapters: Elma, Lucil, the Crimson Squad, Cid, Yuna's surviving guardians.
[AU] 13 years after Yuna falls in the Final Summoning, a Cult of Sin has arisen, Isaaru must resume his pilgrimage, and Auron must try once again to kill a friend before his time runs out. They'll need all the help they can get from the Crusaders, the Al Bhed, Yuna's surviving guardians and the Crimson Squad to combat a Sin like none before.
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Illustration by mintywolf
"In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" (J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring)
Burgundy sails snapped in a fitful wind that set the sailors muttering. The sea-witch had her ways, they said, and owned both sea and sky. Ships plied the waves by her permission, or not at all. There had been frost at sunrise, great spears of rime coating the rigging. The tropical sun had banished it quickly, but it was one more sign of Sin's proximity. That, and the lightning's balefire dancing on the mast at midnight.
The call was hardly needed. All eyes not bent to shipboard tasks were fixed on the wisps of smoke billowing on the horizon, fading now like the last breath of a dying fire. The rising column veiled half the sky in a grayish-pink fume that stretched clear back to Djose. For six disquieting days, the SS Konna had sailed under that gray pall, seeing only an orange smudge where the sun should be. Flecks of ash came fluttering down, dissolving to powder wherever they touched. A stark whiff of burning hung in the air.
One of the harpooners began to sing the Hymn of the Fayth. The subdued refrain spread out in ripples from the ship's bow as roughened sailors' voices took up the chorus. A squad of warrior monks, cleaning their weapons on deck, looked up and added their voices in prayer. On the railing above, a red-haired man in priestly robes smiled and cupped his hands in Yevon's sign. Neither he nor the pair of guards flanking him joined in the singing, however.
Clattering up the ladder to the observation deck, the captain raised her arm in salute. "Your Grace. We'll make Besaid by sunset."
"Very good, Kiyuri. Tell your crew the danger is past. Sin is at least a day from here by now."
"With all due respect, milord—” she began. Suddenly, she pivoted towards the woman keeping watch. "Naya, what's that thing you're wearing around your neck?"
The sailor's hands flew to the bone pendant that had slipped out from the bib of her overalls. "It's, ah, it's nothing, Cap'n. Just a carving of a pretty lady, y'know, that caught me fancy." Her cheeks reddened.
"Sin!" Kiyuri spat, stalking towards her. "The Grand Maester of Yevon sails with us, and I have an idol-worshipper who wears Sin over her heart! Hand it over, or I'll throw you overboard with it."
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