auronlu: (Lady)

Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 21: "Love Her and Despair"
Final Fantasy X
Characters: Auron, Isaaru, Maroda, Elma, Rikku, Gippal
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3000
Summary: Revelations from Yuna's pilgrimage.
Navigation: Previous Chapter | >Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters

illustration by [personal profile] mintywolf

Our Story So Far: On a rampage to destroy the temples of Yevon, Sin transports Isaaru and companions to Bikanel Island, where Wakka and Rikku are raising a family. Gippal gives Isaaru's party a lift to the new Al Bhed Home.


The flyer wobbled under the weight of extra passengers, accompanied by Rikku's swearing in two languages. Maroda rode white-knuckled, his brother with serene resignation. Elma, the machina-phobe, clung to her seat with a dour expression, but gave herself away with a whoop when the flier hopped over a sand-worm that unexpectedly rose behind a crumbling ruin. Auron simply played barnacle. Gippal was quiet too, for once, focused on steering a smooth course for the sake of his unsecured passengers.

They were streaking towards a gray hump emerging from the dunes. The shape soon resolved itself into a bulbous, unlovely hulk of an airship with the profile of an oversized bathtub, its hull a crude patchwork of fins, engine pods, exhaust ports and mismatched panels. It was moored on the southern tip of the island with the bulk of its fuselage hanging over open water. An aft loading ramp extended down to the beach.

The flyer slowed to a crawl and slithered up the ramp into the belly of the ship, coming to an abrupt halt against a stack of barrels. The engines screamed in the enclosed space, then faded to silence. Deafened passengers roused themselves and looked around. Floor-to-ceiling stacks of crates and gun racks loomed on all sides, making it a wonder they had not struck anything on the way in.

"Well, here we are," Gippal said, hopping up onto the flyer's windshield to kick a knob on the wall. The ramp and cargo bay doors began to close with a hiss of hydraulics. Dingy amber lights flickered to life in the ceiling as the rectangle of daylight behind them narrowed and vanished.

Read more... )

auronlu: (emptiness)

HOLY FIRAGA.

I just had the most incredible dream. Lemme see if I can get it down before I forget. Tonight's LHAD chapter will be posted late, because I have a gazillion things to do, but at least i can give you this.

____

They were exhausted. So much the better. "Rest," Auron commanded. "I'll scout ahead. Don't follow." 

One by one they dropped to the floor of the tunnel, grateful for the reprieve. Auron gave Kimahri a sharp look. The Ronso's eyes narrowed, but he gave a grudging nod.

Wearily, Auron picked himself up and started down the left-hand tunnel. Great cracks in the walls and broken rubble on the floor told him it was the right place. He slowed, wary, as he came to a place where the left-hand wall had broken away altogether. Frigid wind blew through jagged gaps in the rock. Silvered moonlight shone in as well, making the stone surfaces gleam like teeth. Auron moved from shadow to shadow, using the rubble for cover.

There. Three wide black archways spanned floor to ceiling, with hewn square columns between them, on the wall facing the open sky. Were the gates still there? 

Yes. Stone. Metal. Ice, maintained by a magic he could not fathom.The fangs of the heavy portcullises were sunk into the floor. Something massive scraped restlessly on the other side. He sidestepped into the lee of a broken pillar, just as a rush of flame leapt out through the stone grating of the nearest arch. His coat flapped and smoked in the hot wind. As the fiery gust faded, he took a quick look, then ducked back as another blast answered him.

Wonderful. No chance of sneaking up on it, then. Not that he thought there would be.

He pondered how to reach the ancient rune glowing dully on the wall just past the triple gate. It would be suicide to reach it. It would be suicide to activate it, to release the monster trapped on the other side. He knew that all too well, haunted by the memory of a friend's charred hand slapping down on the rune.He knew something of suicide, though. He lived it. After a fashion. 

Trusting Kimahri would keep the others safe, he launched himself into the open, rolled under the first volley of fire and came up with his sword braced to parry the second. Flames licked at his shoulders, and again his coat was smoldering. He threw himself down again to snuff it before it could burst into flame, then flung himself flat against the square column between the second and third gate. One more opening to cross before he reached the rune.

And then what? Was he really going to release this fiend on the world again? Could he stop it?

As he pondered his next move, a grating, rumbling sound set his teeth on edge. What was the beast doing? It sounded like it was right on top of him.

On both sides of him. Were there two of them?

The grating sound was too regular, a ratcheting clack-clack-clack like the links of heavy chains sliding across stone.

The heavy gates were rising on their own.

A trap. He did not know how the beast had sprung its fetters, but this was a trap. He turned, just as a huge head emerged from the central archway. Armored hide was the color of his coat in shadow. Ember eyes gleamed. It turned like an adder to look at him. Recognition was there in that malevolent gaze, and triumph, if he was not imagining it.

He flung himself into action, charging into the side of the dragon's head, the only way to avoid its breath. It reared up, as he expected it would, not quite high enough to escape his tall blade with the archway hemming it in. The battle was on, strikes and fire and searing heat. He should have lost the coat before he came. 

The blade could parry, but not slice the iron hide. Time for a trick he had learned since his youth. Focusing his own fury into armor break, he swung at the treetrunk neck whipping towards him. Sparks flew from the black sword. 

It was the sword that snapped. A third of the blade flipped end over end in a deadly windmill he barely dodged. He did not have an eye to spare.

The beast had screamed and jerked away, but he had not hewn through its spine. Damn the creature. Before he could regroup, another blast caught him. Shutting his eye, he dropped, tried to roll before the fire took hold, fetched up behind a block he knew provided scant protection. 

Sir Auron! The cries cut through the agony, focused his mind. Don't you dare, you idiots, he thought, missing the irony. 

RUN! That was Kimahri. He would keep them back. He never broke promises the way Auron did, even promises the Ronso had never made. 

The beast was on the move. He heard its heavy tread, its ragged breathing as it began to emerge from its cell.

From nowhere in particular, a curtain of water splashed down on him, extinguishing the flames, followed by a curious crunch and a sting on one shoulder that might as well have been a gnat's, compared to the damage he had taken already. A glass phial shattering. The Hi-Potion felt like salvation, or at least life. Both were lies, but he staggered up as the wyrm's body slid past him, luckily on the outside of the natural parapet. Seizing the hilt of his sundered weapon, he ran to the shadowed alcove where the mage was hiding, inside the lip of the first archway.

"This is not your fight."

"Nor is it yours, Guardian," she hissed.

The wyrm slowed, stopped, and began to reverse along the passageway, its back legs rucked up and waddling like a crocodile's beside their hiding place.

"Any ideas?" Lulu said. "I don't suppose you came here with any sort of a plan." 

He winced, but nodded to the flat shard of sword lying on the stony floor. "Not much of one, no. Weak to ice."

"Well, that's something, at least," she said, taking a long breath. "Shall we?"

He stepped from their hiding place first, shifting his grip to allow for the sword's lighter weight, driving its broken edge straight into the flank before him to test its sharpness. The monster jerked, roared. Ice shards rained down as he stepped back, swung the blade down and around in a glancing blow that was the best opening he could give her. It was a variant of armor break he had learned on this journey, and it seemed to do the trick. The beast roared again as the ice struck.

They might even survive this folly. 

Still an optimist, Auron, he thought sourly, as the beast's thrashing swept him off his feet. He skidded, fighting to keep upright. The beast's writhing had it hanging halfway out onto the mountainside through the broken wall, which was good, with room for its neck to bend back in a U towards them, which was not. Lulu froze as the great head turned to inspect her.

Auron began to creep forward, holding his breath. He wanted to bellow and catch its attention, but this brief pause might be their only chance. Seize the moment.

She did not budge a muscle, as rigid as the straps and bindings holding her in. The smoking nostrils swung towards her, snuffing. The wyrm's yellow eyes gleamed. Lulu's bare skin above her collarline reddened enough that Auron winced, but still she did not flinch. If he could just strike the spot where her spell had made a weak point—

The wyrm snarled, head whipping towards him. He struck down, broken blade biting deep. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Lulu's hand flash in the moonlight, slamming down a spear of ice into one of the creature's eyes at point blank range. She was nearly crushed as the dragon screamed and writhed. 

There was another of those flurried seconds of blood and blows and fire, Auron raining hammer-blows on the entry point in its hide, Lulu flailing now, some of her spells grazing him as she tried to support his onslaught. The beast jerked and thrashed, front claws coming into play as it tried to bend double and engulf them in fire. 

Somehow, in Lulu's nimble-footed dance that always kept her scant inches from being crushed, she ended up on the outside of the tunnel, teetering on the edge when the mountainside broke away. 

"Lulu!" Diving through a curtain of flame, he charged under the beast's head as it bent round to bite or burn him. It twisted awkwardly, trying to follow him.

He saw his chance. One of the dragon's eyes was a dark bleeding socket, the other glowing with fury. Into the second he drove the sword nearly to the hilt. 

It howled, shuddered, reared. The jaws opened wide. Firebreath at close range was not survivable.

Knowing he might well be sealing her death warrant, Auron seized Lulu's waist as he threw himself backwards, down and out onto the mountainside.

There was no side. This was an almost sheer cliff, and they were tumbling. 

Scant comfort that the dragon, whether in its death-throes or trying to follow their scent, had rolled over the edge as well, thrashing like a severed earthworm. At least it was probably not going to land on top of them. 

Auron's boots thudded heavily against the slope. He gritted his teeth at the jarring pain in his ankles. They were still tumbling head over heels. Any minute a foot or head might be broken on the rock face blurring past them. If he could just time their spin so he wound up beneath her when they hit the ground, the mage might survive this. He was vaguely aware of her struggling, fumbling with her hair— now, of all times? With her braids whipping around them like a cometary tail? and then a rocky shelf was coming up fast and fatally beneath them, and Auron tried with every last ounce of will to twist himself under her.

Something that glittered flashed past his face. There was a faint crunch. Then his heels and hips and shoulders and the back of his skull struck hard enough to crack. Dimly, very dimly, he was aware of the strange sensation of dying and benison, life and agony, a curious binary thunderclap of sensations that his brain could not make sense of. For a split second he gave himself over to the pyreflies, but a Guardian had a job to do, and he had failed another guardian very badly.

Lulu stirred weakly. Knitting bone and healing magic sorted itself out, leaving him unspeakably sore with a headache and the wind knocked out of him, but no more dead than usual. 

She had dropped one of their precious megalixirs just before they hit.

They were still alive. Wonderful. That meant they'd have to walk back up the damned mountain.

"Satisfied?" she said, sitting up stiffly and pulling an ordinary potion from the unraveling bun of her hair. Noticing a few broken ones lying on the ground, he scooped up a handful and sprinkled them over himself, feeling slightly more human.

"Let's just get back to the others," he said. "Thanks." 

"Don't you ever dare do that again," she snapped. "Yuna needs me, as well as Sir Auron."

He inclined his head in mute apology, but made no promise. Promises, like swords, could be broken. 

They began to search for a path.

_________________

Note: pretty much all of this is a transcription of the dream as best I can remember it, except that the ice gate was ivory (gates of horn and ivory, a garbled image from Greek mythology), and I tweaked some of the fight choreography, and the dream actually ended with Lulu saying "Let's get back to the others," instead of "Satisfied..." etc. I was in
 Auron's headspace during the dream.

 Come to think of it, the arched gates and wingless wyrm-type dragon are probably borrowed from Nargothrond in the Silmarillion. I also blame Tolkien for my subconscious fixation with swords that are broken.


auronlu: (Lady)
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 5: "Pearl"
Final Fantasy X
Characters: Isaaru, Maroda, Pacce, Auron, Lulu
Rating: T
Word Count: 2800
Summary: "Well, I am a goddess, you know."
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters)

The Story So Far: Sir Auron, Maester Isaaru and his brothers take up the pilgrimage 13 years after Yuna dies defeating Sin. Attacking the new Sin at Kilika, Auron is lost when it disappears beneath the waves.


Auron slogged through darkness. He felt the lash of 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 were numb with cold. At last, after he had forgotten what time and distance meant, he found a wall of leaping flame barring his path. He braced himself for searing heat and pushed through.

On the far side, 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.

He trudged through sand towards the breakers where kelp flexed over hidden shoals just offshore. When the sand gave out, he clambered over submerged rocks encrusted with shells. Mussels crackled underfoot. 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. He pulled up short, arrested by the same vision that had spawned a cult. Familiarity was no defense.

Read more... )
auronlu: (Default)
...because if I actually replied on Tumblr there'd be a shitstorm.

(Note: I am doing this partly because I am in near paralytic-depression mode, and thinking about fandom stuff is a good way to put my brain in a separate spot instead of whinging.)

I received a compliment on Love Her and Despair on Tumblr, which is gratifying all this time, especially when I've been thinking about finishing it again even if the fandom mostly moved on ten years ago.

Quoth the anon:

"Hey I read your fanfic something like... 10 years ago. I loved it and still love it. However I honestly feel like your writing is way better then the source material! I recently replayed FF10 and this game has soooooooo much sexism it's disgusting. Not to mention the sexualisation of 15 year old girl. Gross. Love and Despair is still great and incredibly enjoyable. You totally surpassed the canon material"


I thanked them for the compliment and nattered briefly (by LJ standards) about my fic, and pointed them to [personal profile] mintywolf's Guardian graphic novel which started with a similar premise ("What if Yuna had accepted Lulu's offer to become the Final Aeon") and is probably about 3 pages from being finished, unlike mine.

[EDIT: Rereading this post, I'm tempted to delete it. I feel like my brain and/or my writing has atrophied from being outside of academia too long. But I guess I'll leave it.]

I commented very superficially on sexism and did not touch that comment about the "sexualization of a 15 year old girl" with a ten foot sword.

Read more... )
auronlu: (Default)

[click to enlarge]

Yuna’s pilgrimage is a linear journey across a landscape, but the landscape isn’t static. Unknown to Yuna and friends (apart from perhaps Auron), they’re crossing a gameboard, and the boundaries are being redrawn around them.

[[SPOILERS from here on]] Above, I’ve shown the biggest shift in spheres of influence. Before and after Operation Mi’ihen, the Crusaders are nearly annihilated and lose all authority in the regions where they had been the major power.

As we can tell from piecing together various NPC comments, their downfall was engineered by Maester Kinoc. I believe Maester Seymour was not originally a party to Kinoc’s stratagem, but barged in at the last minute and partially usurped it, as I’ll explain below.

Read More )
auronlu: (Default)

Welcome back, viewers! Before the break, your intrepid news team braved fiends and Al Bhed to bring you a first exclusive look at the devastation wrought by Operation Mi’ihen! 

image

Now let’s check out the buzz around Luca, the second greatest city in Spira! What lies in store for our marvelous metropolis now that its Crusader defenders have deserted their posts?

Read more... )
auronlu: (Bobblehead Night)

That’s right, viewers, it’s time to step back from the big story, Lady Yuna’s pilgrimage, and find out what’s going in the rest of Spira! Your intrepid reporter won’t be talking to everybody, of course, just some key eyewitnesses who can give us some insight into current events. —Shaami

image

This broadcast is sponsored by YEVON!

Here’s today’s chief topics of gossip around the Djose Continent:

  • Operation Mi’ihen aftermath
  • With the Crusaders out of commission, who will protect us?
  • Al Bhed: more trouble than they’re worth?
  • What happened to Isaaru?
  • And now, sport...

[Unless otherwise noted, screencaps from my camera, so apologies for quality.]

Watch the broadcast... )

Cross-posted on Tumblr

auronlu: (Plot Device)

Last time year on my FFX Liveblog, Tidus and friends slogged along the Djose Angst Road commiserating with survivors of Operation Mi’ihen. Condescending yet well-intentioned priests mingled with the walking wounded, dispensing healing and absolution, oblivious to their own Maesters’ subtle stage management of the entire fiasco. 

image

Sorry, no room in FFX for a Floating Continent... will some floating rocks do? [X]

image

[Ixion mandala & glyph]

Before we flee into the Temple of SPARKY (as my father named Ixion) to escape rampaging hopper monkeys, let me backtrack and add some thinky thoughts about the Luzzu & Gatta arc...

Read More... )


Cross-posted on Tumblr here.

auronlu: (Default)
Okay, so I’m all caught up to where I left off on my old Let’s Play Final Fantasy X liveblog.

It’s been so long since I posted those that I’d almost forgotten some of the themes I was trying to highlight during my playthrough.

Lemme recap some of these themes. [SPOILERS!]
Read more... )
auronlu: (Default)
Moogle_university (aka Rina) has been doing an awesome commentary and playthrough of a few games, including just-finished FFX, and I need to catch up on all your awesome commentary huzzah.

Just a FYI for Minty and others who may still be eyeing this blog from time to time. 
auronlu: (Fangsmirk)
Me and my bizarre shoulder kink. *hides face* I can't remember what possessed me to let slip this personal foible, but I can't really regret the indiscretion, since Flynn-the-Cat keeps catering to it.

Putting this here for ease of future ogling; thank you!






Back: Nyssa and Romana from classic Doctor Who
Front: Lulu and Fang
auronlu: (Yuna + Lulu)

Braids
by DippyWerewolf on deviantART

...so I can find it later. (Of course, I can look back on her dA as well).

Thank you so much!

...Rikku, Yuna and Lulu playing with each other's hair. And braids, because braiding hair (or having someone else braid one's hair) is fun and soothing.
auronlu: (behindyou)
...because it's Mintywolf's birthday!

and then I did another thing, because the first thing was coming out awful!

And on the second thing, I used onionskinning and still screwed up an arm, but at least this is kinda sorta what was in my head!


Lulu + Yuna: Sin's Return
by ~auronlu on deviantART

I really REALLY really wish I hadn't lost my art skills. I have an image in my head, but it won't come out. And arthritis means I can't do much at a time, which is one reason I got out of the habit. BUT I WANT TO DRAW THIS THING DAMMIT.

(I was initially trying to draw Yuna arriving in Besaid, getting her first glimpse of goth girl standing aloof from everyone else and watching her.)

i keep looking up twelve year old and seven year old girls on image search, trying to find art references, and being paranoid that someone's going to think I'm an awful person. :(

They're 13 and 8 in the picture above. Poor Yuna; it must've upset her more than anyone else in Spira when Sin came back.
auronlu: (Angst)
  • Final Fantasy VII is a party of people who lie to themselves to get by.
  • Final Fantasy X is a party of people who find different ways to deal with grief and loss.



...inspired by pondering Mintywolf's current FFX Playthrough.

We were talking about the scene between Auron and Tidus on the docks when Auron tells T. the truth about his father, T. loses it and blames everything on Auron, and Auron starts laughing.

I noted that Auron has a certain sympathy for Tidus precisely because Auron himself used to be very high-strung. The only ways he knows to deal with grief are to get angry (which he used to do), weep (which is what Tidus does) or laugh (which is what Auron does now).
auronlu: (Blah)
I think you've explained this before, but now I'm all muddled again.

What do these mean? Would a Japanese speaker associate these words due to their similar sounds, almost like puns or wordplay of some kind?

シン = Sin in Final Fantasy X, pronouned "Shin." The ... katakana? ... is phonetic.
神 = shin as in god, spirit, kami, shinto? (This is Kanji?)
死 = Shi, death? (This is kanji?)

And on top of all these is loaded the English meaning of "Sin."

Yes/no? Am I understanding, or am I conflating unrelated words because they sound similar to my ear?
auronlu: (n00b)
...With the best ever nickname for Tidus and funny commentary.

A funny thing happened on the way to Zanarkand. Go. Read. Enjoy.

(and ignore the totally incoherent I left behind WHAT.)
auronlu: (Auron2)
There's been a lot of genderbending cosplay lately, and while that makes me happy, I'm even happier to see someone making the costume design work as is instead of transposing it into the key of sexy.


I Am Your Opponent
by ~BeautifulDragon on deviantART

...even her Anthy occasionally can't resist striking a pose. (Although she also plays Anthy more traditionally).


En Garde
by ~BeautifulDragon on deviantART

Go. Browse her gallery. The Auron gallery is fantastic, and there's an Utena for her Anthy as well. (Also, she's got an older Laguna cosplay).
auronlu: (Default)
Crossposted from my Tumblr (ack, when did that start happening?!)

Square-Enix had a livestream interview at E3 today with producers Kitase and Toriyama. Here's the original video:



Their interview starts at about 05:15 and runs for an hour.

I have written out a complete transcription here.

Addresses a lot of juicy stuff, but fails to answer two questions:
Last Mission not yet confirmed.
Release date not yet set.
auronlu: (behindyou)
Reposted from Tumblr, because Tumblr blows as a place to talk about anything or find anything you posted earlier.

Note that some of my comments derive from backstory provided by the Ultimania guide rather than from the game itself. Ultimania is a supplement put out by Square employees, rather than what really happened or what was said in-game. So I regard Ultimania as subject to fan interpretation and selection. Here's what I took from it.

When Lulu Broke (and Why), a Character Study )

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