Disclaimer: I do not have any claim on FFX or Squaresoft and am not affiliated in any way.
Tonight there’s no denying, no there’s no denying,
There’s something magic in the air…
Emotional disorder came from out of nowhere
Took me unawares…
Ash – There’s a star
She stood at the peak of the temple, watching the day pass her by. Shades of black had merged into blues; the vast expanse of sky occasionally broken by snow-white wisps that danced across the heavens. The blue had also now faded, and the atmosphere shone blood red, burnt with hues of orange. A trickle of salt water made its way down her soft cheek and she wiped it away hastily with vehemence.
So lost in her own thoughts was the girl she did not hear his stealthy approach. He studied the lithe figure standing perilously close to the temple’s edge. She was perhaps his own age, maybe a year or so younger. Locks of ebony danced in the wind to just below her shoulders, the sun having burnt angry streaks of auburn through the otherwise raven silk. She wore very little for this time of year, a khaki skirt that barely covered her backside was perhaps the most striking piece of apparel, orange stitching highlighting the two pockets on each cheek. Two thin straps held the flimsy chiffon top to her frame, the orange fabric nearly, but not quite, see through. Brown corded boots with a wicked spiked heel encased the girl’s legs to round off the outfit, an outfit donned, he assumed, with the sole intention to titillate the male of the species. His laughter rasped quietly as he watched the figure shiver involuntarily and he continued toward her.
"You are cold?" The girl spun at the sound of his voice, nearly losing her balance in her haste. He caught her arm to steady her and grinned in spite of himself. A faint smile graced her lips.
"A little. My own fault though."
Her eyes, two sea green pools that caught and held his attention, struck him. He had thought only the Al Bhed had such eyes, but this girls eyes lacked the tell tale swirl in the pupil, though the colour was identical. He shook his head a little to clear the thoughts from his mind and cleared his throat.
"It is dangerous so close to the edge of the temple."
She looked abashed and grinned at him, her full, rosebud lips curving upwards seductively.
"I know. Maybe that’s why I like it here."
"Why are you here?"
She bit her lower lip and looked at the ground before returning her eyes to meet his questioning gaze.
"I, I come here to think. It clears my head."
He took a step forward, concern for the pretty girl etched on his face.
"Why do you need to clear your head?" He asked softly.
"My mother. She passed away on this day a while back." Her voice was a strangled whisper; her body shook gently as she tried to contain the threatening tears.
The silence was telling and he shifted uncomfortably. She wiped her face and smiled defiantly. "But it’s in the past, we all have to move on at some point! Why’re you up here?"
He stepped back unconsciously, slightly shaken by her optimism. "I work here. I’m a warrior monk."
She looked at him quizzically before touching his arm in understanding and camaraderie. "That’s not the only reason you’re up here though, is it?"
He shook his head, smiling wryly at her astuteness, "I come here to think also."
"What do you need to think on?"
"Of marriage?" She looked shocked.
"But you can only be, what, eighteen?"
"Seventeen." He stated absently, fiddling with the handle of the earthenware jug that hung loosely at his hip.
"I’m only a year younger and I can’t even contemplate marriage just now! I have so much life to live, so much to see and do! Don’t you feel the same?"
"I do. But…" He hesitated, unsure as to why he was discussing this with a stranger.
He carried on blindly, "It is the hand of the daughter of the maester. If I refuse, I will be disgraced, be forced to leave the ranks of the warrior monks."
"Do you love her?"
He swung his arm, cutting the air, "No!"
She looked at him thoughtfully, mulling his words before continuing. "Then, why marry her if you don’t love her? You’ll both be miserable and no job is worth life long misery. Besides, you’re too nice to be a warrior monk."
He smiled faintly and digested her words, "Thank you. You have given me much to contemplate. I will deliver my decision to the maester tonight."
He turned to walk away, but something held him back. He spun back to see she was watching the city from her vantagepoint again. The wind picked up and he called to the girl. "What is your name?"
She turned to face him once more, making a face as she spoke, "Lesca."
"Why the face?"
"Well, wouldn’t you hate your name if both you and your sibling were named after Lady Yunalesca?" She stuck out her tongue and he laughed, a deep, gravely noise that pleased her ears.
"Well?" She looked at him impatiently and he shrugged.
Amusement sparkled in her eyes, "Well, who are you?"
His russet eyes twinkled and he felt his heart lurch within his muscular chest, an unfamiliar feeling which made breathing difficult. "I am Auron."
She held out her hand, and to her surprise he kissed it rather than performing the perfunctory handshake.
"It is an honour to meet you Sir Auron." She mock curtsied; earning that laugh again, the laugh she had no idea was so rare.
"The honour is mine Lady Lesca. But please, call me Auron."
"As you wish Auron. But only if you drop the lady."
"If I drop you, we will not talk again and I don’t think I would like that." He grinned, rubbing his smooth chin thoughtfully.
Her laugh tinkled over the city of Bevelle and he watched her in wonderment.
"Mean! You know what I meant!"
"Of course, Lesca. However, it was too tempting. I could not resist." He realised he was still holding her hand and he dropped it quickly, despairing as a fleeting look of confusion passed over the girls face.
She replaced the smile and continued, producing a small scrap of paper and a pen from her pocket. "Auron? If you decide not to marry the maester’s daughter, not that I’m trying to sway you in any way, but if you don’t…this is my address. If you want, we could, you know…"
He took the hastily scribbled address and studied it, before folding it with precision and placing it carefully in his robes. "I would like that very much. If I don’t."
A pregnant silence fell and both stared off into the horizon. Lesca spoke first, moving to the exit. "Well, it was great to meet you Auron. If I see you, great! If I don’t, don’t worry about it and have a great life. See you around!"
"Goodbye." He called after the retreating figure, earning a wave over her shoulder. He felt his heart ache again and he clutched at his chest.
Angel all people ought to see,
Only you can ease my troubled dreams…
Ash - Candy
"Where have you been Lesca? I’ve been worried sick."
Lesca sighed and turned to meet the worried face of her father, he looked preoccupied with something other than her disappearance. "You know not to worry about me dad. I just needed to get out and clear my head."
"You know what day it is. I though you might have done something stupid. You were meant to be watching Yuna. You need to start acting like an adult Lesca." He stated accusingly.
"No, what I need is to live my own life and not be bogged down with your responsibilities."
Braska sighed and rubbed at his temples, "Don’t take that tone with me young lady. If your mother were here…"
"Don’t you bring her into this!" The anger flared in her and he saw he’d over stepped the mark.
"I apologise. Lesca, there is something I need to tell you. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking."
She collapsed heavily in a chair, folding her arms and staring up at him sullenly. "And?"
"I need to avenge your mother. I’m going to become a summoner." He awaited her approval and was instead shocked by her disinterest.
"No." She studied her fingernails with great interest.
"What do you mean ‘no’?"
"I mean no, you’re not. You are not leaving me to satisfy your own guilt and you most certainly are not leaving me to raise my sister." She looked up, rage burning in her eyes.
"You cannot tell me what to do. I’m the adult here, I tell you what you can and cannot do."
"Well start acting like it!" She shot back at him.
Silence hung in the air heavily and he moved to comfort her. "I’m sorry Lesca. I need to do this."
"What about Yuna? What about me?" Her face crumpled and his heart felt cold and hard as lead.
"You’ll survive. Look after each other. Look at me. I love you both Lesca, but I can’t go on like this. One day you’ll understand."
"Have you told Yuna?" She asked quietly.
"Yes, but she does not yet need to know the end result. She knows only that I will defeat Sin."
"I can’t believe you would sacrifice your life and leave your children orphaned to settle a score."
Her words stung him and he recoiled from her. "Lesca, don’t. I will not leave on my pilgrimage for a while yet, I still must recruit guardians."
"Let me be a guardian. I’m more powerful with my gloves than you are with your staff and I’m a skilled black mage. Besides, you always said you’d teach me some white magic, maybe make me a fully skilled mage?" An edge of hope crept into her voice only to be crushed by the force of his refusal.
"No. I will not risk both of our lives. One of us should be here for Yuna and it has to be you."
"It should be you." The words were said with resignation and he ruffled her hair as he left for the temple.
"Yes, it should." He sighed as he opened the door.
Lesca awoke with a start as the small girl hurled herself into Lesca’s lap with a gap-toothed grin. "Take it easy Yunie! How was school?" She laughed at the enthusiastic child and tickled her, making the girl squeal with delight.
"Good, I – "
The exchange was interrupted by a timorous knock at the door. The girls looked at one another in confusion before jostling each other in their rush to reach the caller. Yuna got there first and opened the door with the toothy grin firmly in place. "Hi, who’re you? Who ya looking for?"
"My name is Auron, I’m looking for a lady named Lesca." The voice rasped.
"Lesca lives here but she isn’t a lady. I’m Yuna!" The small girl made a face familiar to Auron and he laughed weakly.
Lesca rushed to the door and pushed Yuna out of the way, gasping at the sight before her.
"Auron! Yevon, what happened to you?"
His clothes hung torn and bloody from his limp frame, his face bruised and swollen, bloody from many small wounds. He leaned heavily against the doorframe in attempt to support his weight, a small bag of belongings slung carelessly over his shoulder. A great sword was strapped to his back and he swayed dangerously under the weight of his baggage.
He smiled faintly and staggered, trying to remain upright.
"I turned it down. I turned it down and now I am disgraced."
She took his arm, ushering the man inside her home, "Hush, Auron and come inside, sit by the fire. Yuna, fetch me some towels and warm water."
The little girl scurried off, leaving the two alone. His rusty brown pools eyed her warily as if expecting some reprimand and she touched his cheek tenderly, withdrawing her hand with haste when he winced at the gentle touch. He took her hand hesitantly and hid it in between his own two larger ones, breaking the silence with his throaty tone.
"I am sorry to disturb you. I, I didn’t have any where to go and you were the only person I could think of who might…"
"Might what, Auron?" She asked gently, ripping up one of the clean towels Yuna had brought and using it with the lukewarm water to bathe his wounds.
He sighed heavily and grimaced at the pain, "It matters not." Might care. Might not revile me and cast me aside.
"Ok. Yuna, make some tea for Auron. What do you take, milk, sugar?"
"Thank you for your kindness, but I should leave you in peace." He made to leave, but was surprised by the strength of the small hand suppressing him.
"You’re going nowhere, you’re in no fit state. Stay the night, tell me what happened. Milk and sugar?" She spoke firmly and he sighed, knowing when he was defeated.
"A little milk please."
"Well? Tell me."
He entered his quarters to find Kinoc there already awaiting his arrival. He grunted acknowledgement at the older man and sat heavily on the hard bed.
"Have you made your decision my friend? The maester awaits." Kinoc smiled jovially and sat beside the youth.
"I have." He sighed and turned from the other mans relentless, probing stare.
"I am going to refuse her hand."
"What? Just yesterday you were going to accept! What could have possibly happened in the twenty four hours since I saw you last to cause such a dramatic change of heart?"
"I met someone." A smile played on his lips before he realised and wiped his face to resemble an expressionless mask.
Kinoc raised an eyebrow, "A woman?"
He nodded in acquiescence. "She was…special. Something about her…She made me ask myself why I would trap myself into a loveless marriage and a miserable existence for the rest of my life. I have too much life to experience to throw it away on this Kinoc."
Kinoc smiled and placed a hand on Auron’s shoulder. "You realise this will probably mean the end of your duties here? That you will be dismissed from the order?"
"All the best then my friend. May Yevon be with you."
"Ah, Auron! Have you made your decision my boy?"
Auron grimaced inwardly and walked toward the maester and his plain daughter, Olophius. The other maester’s Kelk and Jyscal along with Grand Maester Mika were also in attendance. He eyed the scene warily and bowed to the assembled masters of Yevon.
"Maester Turan, it is an honour as always my lord."
"Enough with the pleasantries Auron! What say you to my daughter’s suit?"
Auron hung his head and spoke softly, "Although it is an honour I am not worthy of my lord, it is one I cannot deem to accept. I apologise my lord."
The maester turned red in barely contained rage as his weeping daughter ran from the room in shame.
"You believe yourself to be above this honour I granted you? No longer, boy. You shall suffer my wrath. You are no longer of the hallowed ranks of the warrior monks, you are cast out! Make your own way in this world; Yevon is done with you. Guards, show him what it means to be a traitor in our ranks."
Turan turned his back and let the guards pummel the youth to within an inch of his life, though he did not give up without a struggle, despite his lack of a weapon. Tossed into the street with the little belongings he owned, he awoke from the beating induced slumber, lost. Outside the life of the warrior he knew nothing, no family, no friends outside of the order to turn to. He remembered the kindness of the girl earlier that day, the girl who made his heart leap. Would she remember him, would she accept him? He shrugged and looked at the crumpled piece of paper containing her address. Setting off slowly and painfully in the direction of her abode, he felt his heart grow lighter with every step that took him nearer to her. Maybe it was the right decision after all.
"I turned down the maester’s daughters proposal. I have been cast aside by the order and taught a lesson of what happens to traitors such as I."
"That’s awful, they had no right! I’ll go see them tomorrow, they won’t be allowed to get away with this!" She spoke fiercely and he smiled at her concern.
"It is of no importance now. What has happened is in the past and nothing can change that. Didn’t you say we should look to the future?"
She grinned, "I did. You’re right."
The smile faded and she became lost in thought. He watched her slip away from him and he squeezed her hand.
"Lesca? What is wrong?"
She made a face, "That obvious? I’m just thinking about my father. He’s decided to become a summoner. Apparently, its not enough that Yuna has to grow up without a mother, now she must spend the rest of her life without a father too."
Auron mulled over her words. "You are angry with him?"
"Yes. He’s being so selfish, going on a foolish pilgrimage under the guise of avenging my mother when it’s really so he has to avoid the pain of living without her. We all have sorrow in our lives to deal with, I don’t see why he should be allowed to free himself of his grief without a thought of how his actions can add to someone else’s anguish."
Hot tears of frustration and woe sprung to her eyes and she wiped them away angrily, glancing up to meet her fathers gaze.
"Lesca, I – "
"Dad, this is Auron. He’s been discharged from the warrior monks. He’s in a pretty bad way so he’s staying here a while. Auron, my father, the soon to be Lord Braska."
Auron bowed deeply to the older man who in response returned the gesture. "Well Auron, we’ve been given our orders. It is late, there is a guestroom through the hall; please make yourself at home. Lesca, where is Yuna?"
"She’s in bed."
"Thank you Lesca. I’ll retire now; I’ll see you in the morning sweetheart. Good night Auron."
"Good night, my lord." Lesca giggled at Auron’s reverence for authority and lead him to his room.
These are good people, decent people. I only hope I do not let them down. I do not want to hurt Lesca. I wonder if she feels this as well?
Does he know? I don’t think so. He’s so strong, but vulnerable, words will pierce and wound him more easily than any sword. I want to be there for him…I wonder if he feels this too?
Every day is so wonderful, but suddenly it’s hard to breathe
Sunlight streamed through the slatted blinds, waking him gently from his slumber. The crisp, cotton sheets were cool against his naked body, soothing the aching muscles. He cracked open one sleep encrusted russet eye to investigate the crushing weight atop his chest. Two wide eyes, one of baby blue and another of that striking verdant green were full of innocence and mischief at the same time as they stared back at him. He recognised the toothy grin as it slowly came into focus, a groan escaping him as the weight shifted about his chest. The child jumped and then collapsed in fits of giggles as she knocked the wind from his lungs.
"You are Yuna, are you not?" He wheezed.
Yuna nodded, locks of light brown hair falling into her eyes as she tried to suppress her laughter. "Mmm hmm, Lesca was wonderin’ if you were up so I came to see. I’ll go tell her you’re awake!"
The girl scurried out, bare feet slapping against the tiled floor. Auron raised himself onto his elbows, wincing at the stabbing pain in his ribs. He looked down and inhaled sharply at the collage of pea greens and sickly yellows that coloured his torso. Raising a hand to his face, he gingerly ran his fingers over the surface, the calloused digits rough against his tender skin. His eyebrows knitted together as he realised the extent of his injuries, I must look hideous.
A soft voice halted the exploration of his visage, "Hey you. How’re you feeling?"
He looked up to see Lesca walking toward him from the doorway she had been watching him from. She reached him, touching his face tenderly before sitting next to him with a smile.
"Better, thank you." He looked around, suddenly very conscious of his nakedness. "Lesca, where are my robes?"
She smiled apologetically and he felt his heart try to escape from the confines of his chest.
"They were in such a state Auron…I tried to clean them but it was no use. Sorry! Besides, I don’t think the temples would take too kindly to your wearing their garb any longer."
He hung his head, remembering the events that had transpired yesterday evening.
"I suppose. That was all I had though." He mumbled, embarrassed at the situation.
Lesca brightened, running from the room only to return a few moments later with simple grey linen trousers and a plain black shirt. She tossed the clothes to him with a grin. "Here, you can use these just now. We’ll head to market after you’ve eaten and get you some clothes of your own."
He blushed, knowing he could not refuse the kindness, "Thank you."
She smiled and turned to leave. Pausing at the doorway she called back, "The bathrooms down the hall. Once you’re cleaned up, come through to the kitchen and I’ll make you some food."
He nodded in agreement though she had left before waiting for his response. Sighing, he hauled himself to his feet, covering his modesty with an awaiting towel. Moving stiffly down the hall, leaning on the walls for support, he felt distinctly uneasy with his position.
Damn near naked with Lesca here. Great.
He saw her come out of one of the other rooms, smiling warmly at him before raising an eyebrow at him mischievously, looking pointedly at his towel. He smiled weakly, his heart pounding within his chest.
He found the bathroom and locked the door quickly, heaving a sigh of relief as the blood rushing through his veins quietened. He stepped in the shower and switched it on full, savouring the intense heat on his aching muscles. Steam soon clouded the mirror as he let the knots under his skin unravel, thanking Yevon for the use of this machina. The powerful jet slowed to a dribble and he looked at his reflection in the misted mirror, beads of water clinging to his ebony tresses. The scratches on his face were little more than surface wounds, mere scratches that did nothing to mar his handsome face. The pain from his ribs had ebbed to a dull throb and he towelled his body vigorously. He dressed quickly in the clothes Lesca had handed to him, feeling strange to be in something other than his voluminous robes.
The older girl smiled and placed her hands on her hips, "Yes, Yuna?"
"Do you like Auron?" The little girl giggled and covered her mouth.
"Of course I do. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be here." She explained with the patience of one used to dealing with a child’s incessant questioning.
"But do you like him like him?"
Lesca tickled her little sister, watching as the child dissolved into helpless giggles. "I don’t think that’s any of your business little Lady Yuna!"
She whirled around at the sound of a throat being cleared. Auron stood in the doorway, a faint blush colouring his cheeks as he rubbed absently at his hair with the towel.
"Auron! I, I didn’t hear you come in. Is cereal ok for you?"
He nodded and sat at the table, thanking her profusely for the meagre meal. Yuna clambered into his lap and started braiding his hair. He looked at the child in confusion and Lesca could not contain the laughter bubbling up inside her. Auron’s embarrassment turned to amusement and he chuckled, picking the squealing Yuna from his lap and placing her firmly in her chair.
A figure appeared in the doorway and laughed heartily at the scene before him. "Yuna, you must leave our guest be. Auron, you seem better. I will cast a cure spell on you today, it should heal those wounds completely."
Auron bowed his head, "Thank you, my lord."
"Please Auron, call me Braska. Lesca, what are you wearing?"
She sighed in frustration and turned to face him, "The same as I wore yesterday."
"Go change, you look like a common whore."
"Funny. You didn’t used to think mom looked like a common whore when she wore this." She spat the words with venom at her father and he shook his head.
"Your mother would never have worn something so…short."
"You bought her them! The only reason you’re complaining is because I remind you too much of her."
"You’re right. I’m sorry Lesca. Excuse me, I need to visit the temple. Must show my devotion to Yevon!" He laughed weakly before leaving.
Having sworn fealty, you must spend your life in servitude. Yevon shall be your master and you must do all in your power to honour him, for Yevon will set us free. Serve him well and remember; it is better to be lying dead amongst the soldiers than never to be free.
Auron shook his head to clear the painful memory, that first day within the ranks of the warrior monks had been a shock. His removal from the order had multiplied that shock tenfold, he hadn’t though it possible. He jumped at Lesca’s gentle touch on his arm.
"Auron?" Her tone was light, but he could see the concern in her eyes.
"Shall we go to the market now?" He brushed her concern aside and she looked relieved at the lifting of his spirits.
"Yeah, sure. Yuna, hurry on to school or you’ll be late."
The girl pouted and crossed her arms, "How come you don’t have to go now?"
Lesca bent until she was level with the crumpled face of her sister and gave her a hug. "You know why. I’m too old now. Run along, you have school and I’ve got to take Auron shopping before my training."
The child kissed her sister and hugged Auron’s leg before running off to school. Lesca straightened up, grinning at him. "Well, lets go!"
They began the short walk to the local market and he clenched his fist to stop himself from grabbing Lesca’s hand greedily.
"What does your training involve?" He glanced at her sideways and she rewarded him with the smile he loved.
"This and that. I train in hand to hand combat, brush up on my black magic…"
"You’re a black mage?" He hadn’t taken her for a trained combatant.
"Yes. You sound surprised!"
"Well, that may be because I am. You seem too fragile for that type of life."
"When your mother is Al Bhed you have to learn to defend yourself at an early age. Just in case, y’know?" She shook her head, laughing bitterly at the absurdity of her situation, revealing her lineage to a former monk of Yevon was never a wise move.
That explains those eyes of jade.
"Al Bhed, really? It must be interesting to have both Yevonite and Al Bhed lineage."
She looked up suspiciously into his bronzed gaze, expecting to see revulsion. Instead, she found genuine interest and warmth. "You don’t mind?"
"Why should I? You are still the same person as you were before you revealed your heritage to me. Creed does not make a person, actions do."
She smiled, "I wish more people were as enlightened as you and my father. Come on, I think you’ll find something you like in here."
They stepped across the threshold of the store, Auron staring in awe at the many colours and fabrics on display. Lesca snickered and walked over to a gawping store clerk. "Hey. Do you think you can help my friend here? We need something practical. Light layers that are easy to move in, y’know? But something that can be removed or added to depending on the seasons."
The clerk nodded dumbly, tearing his eyes from Lesca reluctantly to fuss around Auron, taking measurements as he wandered around the store feeling fabrics and examining colours.
"Ok, I think I got something in your size. From what your friend was telling me, I think trousers, sturdy boots, gloves, a breastplate and a heavy trenchcoat. What do you think?"
Feeling out of his depth, Auron merely grunted his approval at the suggestions being pitched to him. Hiding her smile, Lesca turned to the clerk. "What colours you got?"
"What do you want?"
"Uh…red for the coat I think, brighten him up a little! Black for the rest though. Is that ok with you Auron?"
He nodded absently, distracted by the sheer volume of clothes surrounding him. He had never seen such a deluge of colour, used to instead the drab grey-white of his regiment. The clerk roused him from his daydreaming by shoving a pile of clothes in his arms.
"Through there, try them on."
He left wordlessly to the dressing room. The clerk sauntered over to Lesca with a smile. "So, what’s your name gorgeous?"
"Lesca. And you are…?" She blushed slightly and moved away subconsciously, wondering why she felt almost scared by this man.
"Rethar. So how about you and me get better acquainted?" The man leered at her, and she turned her head away from his hot, sickly breath.
"You don’t waste any time do you? Maybe some other time Rethar." She smiled, hoping to diffuse the situation, which was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
"Y’know what? I think I’d rather get to know you better now."
The man pounced, grabbing her wrist while she was off her guard. Rethar pulled the struggling girl though to the back of the store, her slight weight giving her no grounding against his strength. Grabbing a loose length of cloth, he tied the arm he held to a pipe. She flailed wildly with the limbs still free of restraint and tried desperately to call upon a spell for aid. With only one hand free, the spell refused to focus and she almost cried with frustration. Rethar approached her, his sinister intentions written plainly on his face as he drank in the sight of her. Calming her breathing, she focused her energies into her limbs, a well-timed kick catching her assailant squarely in the jaw. Howling in pain, he drew back his hand to slap her, stopping only at the sound of a mans voice as it carried through from the front of the shop.
She wilted with relief, yelling at the top of her voice, "Auron! I’m here! Please, help me!"
Auron followed the voice, slipping slightly on the wooden floor as he came to a halt. He watched in horror as the scene unfolded in front of him in what seemed like slow motion. The clerk punched Lesca in the face, droplets of blood spraying from her mouth as his heavy signet ring cut through her tender flesh. She kicked at him to keep him at bay, buffeting his blows with the arm that was free to no avail, his own reach was longer than that of the smaller girl.
A red mist descended on Auron and he approached the man, not feeling the blows raining down on his body as the clerk shifted his attention from Lesca onto the purposeful youth. He caught the mans fist as it came toward his face, pushing it back easily and crushing it within his own. Rethar’s face contorted in rage and agony, the bones in his hand popping as they broke, one by one. Auron drew back his free arm and released his anger onto the mans face, again and again and again. As the haze lifted, he dropped the man, stupefied by his actions. He was unrecognisable as the man who had served him just quarter of an hour ago, his face a mere bloody pulp. He shook his head as he remembered the reason he had came through and he rushed over to the shaking Lesca.
"Lesca! Are you ok? What happened, why didn’t you call for me? Yevon, Lesca…what were you thinking?"
She smiled weakly, "I, I didn’t want to worry you. I thought I could handle it, he was too big. Some great mage I am, can’t even cast with one hand. Can’t even fight off a stupid, weak man."
He listened to her mumbling as she berated herself and took a deep breath, "He caught you off guard?"
"Well, yeah! I shouldn’t even have to be on guard in town." Her voice had quietened to a fierce whisper.
"Then why do you chide yourself so? It happens to us all, Lesca. You defended yourself well."
She smirked wryly as she wiped the blood from her mouth, "Well. Ha! My mentor will have a field day, "I was off guard, but I defended well!". Fantastic."
"Okay." She realised he was wearing the new clothes, "Hey, you look good! Needs a thick belt though."
She left the mash of the man behind on the floor, stepping neatly over him into the front of the store. Picking up a circlet of night embellished with silver and two sturdy leather belts of brown, she put her arms around Auron’s waist, fastening it securely before standing back to admire her handiwork. Black trousers, interrupted by pinstripes of grey were baggy on his solid frame. The breastplate of charcoal gleamed in the light cascading through the windows, exposed by the open ankle length trenchcoat of the deepest vermilion, trimmed with piping of the whitest snow.
"Perfect! Let’s go, I’m late already!"
He tossed the money for the garments on the counter and barred her path as she made to leave. "How do you do that?" He raised an eyebrow and she looked sheepish, apologetic almost.
"Bounce back from these events that fate throws at you?"
She laughed sadly, pushing past him as she lead him towards their destination. "When you’ve been through as much as my family have, you learn that the best way to deal with the shit that life slings at you is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get on with what’s left. If you’re lucky, you can laugh about it at some point. If you’re not, you might cry. Either way, life doesn’t stop and neither should we."
"So you go forward?" He looked at her, feeling the deep pain which she usually hid so well.
"I have to. If I don’t, who will?"
I’ll go forward with you. I promise.
You have always been a thorn in their side
The man looked at his timepiece pointedly as Auron and Lesca approached the domed hall where Lesca was to train. She shrugged, throwing the man a disarming grin.
He laughed, throwing his arms to the heavens in greeting. "Lesca! Where in Yevon have you been? You’re late. Again."
"Sorry Preane, but at least it’s only five minutes this time, and I do have a great excuse!"
She ducked in mock fear as he pretended to swing for her, Auron’s jaw tightened involuntarily as he eyed the other man warily from where he hung back from the scene. At this point he trusted no one aside from Braska around the girl, not even fully trusting himself because of the feelings she invoked in him.
The man raised an eyebrow incredulously, "Oh really? What could possibly top "A shoopuf ate my gloves?""
She grinned mischievously, "Um, Yuna ate my gloves? I dunno. Seriously though, I have got an excuse, I’ve been helping Auron."
"And Auron would be…?"
She slapped a hand to her forehead, "Oh Yevon, please forgive my ill manners! Auron, this is my mentor Preane. Preane, this is Auron, a former warrior monk."
"Former warrior monk? Sounds like there’s quite a story behind such a simple statement."
Auron gritted his teeth, "Indeed sir, but it is not one I wish to go into at this time."
Preane nodded in understanding before turning to face his pupil. "Lesca? Shall we begin?"
"Sure, let’s see what you got old man!"
He readied his stance, shaking his head at the overconfident girl. "Let’s see if you’ve improved any before you get cocky, child."
Lesca circled her opponent, jumping lightly from foot to foot as her muscles began to wake fully. She feigned attacks to test his reflexes, pulling back at the last moment to analyse the defences he utilised. The cracked leather of the worn, chestnut gloves she sported groaned as she stretched her fingers within their confines, the tips of the slender white digits wriggling in the cool air. A ball of fire grew in the palm of Preane’s hand before being unleashed directly at the girl. She rolled deftly out of harms way, wagging a disapproving finger at the teacher.
"Too slow Preane, but I suppose the reflexes are somewhat dulled in a man of your vintage!"
He grunted in amusement and fell back to study her technique. Her little hops from toe to toe had slowed; she seemed to be tiring. He rushed forward, sensing weakness in his pupil. He stopped in his tracks, dazed as a bright light engulfed him, the power that was Ultima forcing him to his knees. Taking advantage of her tutor’s prone position, Lesca followed the black magic with a flurry of blows. Auron watched, mesmerised as the lithe, slender figure pummelled the solid figure of Preane. The grace of her movements meant even an act of hostility looked like the dance of an angel.
Preane held up his hand and she stopped, her booted foot a mere inch from his face. Standing at ease, she offered him and hand, her delight in her victory plain to see. Preane panted as he attempted to catch his breath, "Well done. Didn’t I always tell you your frailty would fool even the worthiest adversary? Certainly fooled me. So how do you feel?"
Her eyes twinkled like jewels, "Smug?"
Preane chuckled, "Ok, ok! But don’t get complacent; you aren’t invincible. You’re ready now Lesca, there is nothing more I can teach you. From this day forth we train as equals."
"Equals, huh? Never thought I’d see the day you admitted I was better than you."
"Equals means you’re not better than me, equals means we’re the same!" He protested.
"Yeah, yeah! We both know that I’m the best…" Lesca winked, her smirk turning to surprise as her legs were swept from under her. She looked up from the ground to meet the grin of Preane.
"If you’re the best, how come you’re on the ground? You let your guard down too easily, you trust too much. It will be your undoing. You’d do well to remember that."
"Yeah, whatever." She grumbled, extending her hand for some help. Preane took the proffered limb and found himself flying over Lesca’s body and onto his back. She sat up laughing.
"Seems that it may be a lesson we both have to learn. Later, Preane!"
The man groaned and waved her on her way as he lay in the dust, contemplating how he managed to end up with a girl such as Lesca for a pupil and a friend.
Auron followed the skipping girl as she left, bemused at the exchange of words and blows he had witnessed. He watched as she waved another figure over and steeled his nerves as he realised that it was her father. He began to mentally prepare himself for the bitter words he expected the two to sling at one another.
Braska approached his eldest daughter with a smile, enveloping her warmly in embrace as Auron tried to hide his stupefaction.
"Lesca, well met my child." His smile faded and concern took its place as he noticed the gash at her mouth, blood encrusted around the open wound.
"What happened to your face? Who did this to you?" He touched the cut gently and she winced.
"Just a little trouble I ran into, nothing we couldn’t handle. Auron was there, he helped me out."
Braska turned to the boy, only just realising his presence. "Auron, I thank you for helping my daughter. I can heal both of your wounds now, if I may?"
Auron bowed in thanks, "It would be an honour my lord."
Braska shook his head, a faint smile playing on his lips. Old habits die hard with this one.
The healing wind whispered over the skin of the two, the minor lesions vanishing in an instant. Braska nodded in satisfaction, before noticing the new apparel donned by Auron.
"I like your new garments Auron. I feel that you may have had a hand in the selection though Lesca."
She grinned, "That obvious? Where are you going anyway?"
"I have just returned from the temple. The priests of Yevon have agreed to let me journey on my pilgrimage, but I am still devoid of a guardian. Without a guardian, I cannot even pray to the Fayth here in Bevelle to obtain the first aeon."
Lesca sighed, defeated. "You’re really going, aren’t you?"
"Yes." Her father replied, taken aback by the fierce hug his daughter entrapped him in.
"If your mind is set to this course, who am I to try to dissuade you? I won’t stand in your way any longer, you have my blessing."
He touched her face tenderly, "That means everything to me Lesca. I am glad you have decided to support me. I wouldn’t want to die knowing you resented me for my decision."
"I wouldn’t let that happen. Listen, dad. Until you find another guardian, would a temporary guardian suffice? I can support you as you pray to the Fayth in Bevelle, if not any further. It is the least I can do."
"I foresee no difficulty. Are you free now? Yuna shall be in school for some time yet…"
Lesca smiled sadly, resigned to her fathers decision and subsequent fate. "I’m not busy. I’ll meet you at the temple in ten minutes. I have to pick up my new gloves."
"Of course. Auron, will you be accompanying my daughter?"
Auron glanced at Lesca, "If she so wishes my company, I would be honoured."
The youth’s voice was hesitant and Braska smiled inwardly, recognising the attraction between the two, though neither knew of the others feelings. Love is blind. He saw his own relationship with the girl’s mother reflected in the flower of love blooming between the two.
They had met, wooed, fallen in love at the same time as these children. A year and a marriage later, they had been blessed with Lesca. Looking back now at the age of thirty-four, he realised with hindsight that they had been young, some would say foolish. Hindsight, however was a wonderful gift not afforded to the young, and even now he could not say with any shred of honesty that he wished he had waited before settling down. He had no regrets for the life he had sacrificed for early domestication.
Lesca watched her father walk away and sat on a bench, head in her hands. Auron sat beside her awkwardly. "You are not going to get your gloves?"
She looked up at him with red rimmed eyes, grinning despite the tears that threatened to spill. "There are no gloves. I just need to compose myself before I can help him. I never told you Auron, but I enjoy your company. I’m glad you’re here."
"I’ll be here as long as you wish my presence." He stated falteringly.
She nodded, "Thank you."
I don’t want you to leave too. I don’t want to be alone anymore. I don’t want to deal with this pain myself another second. I want to share this with you. I want you. I…love you. Don’t leave me like all the others. Please.
I’d take the pain from you gladly if I could. I want to bear your burden. I want to be there to share your laughter and make sure there are no more tears. You have suffered too much already. I hope you wish me to stay, for I have no will to leave you. For as long as you allow and beyond I will be by your side. You have my word; I swear it on my love for you.
Angel of the summer stars
"Are you certain you want to put yourself through this, Lesca? The duties of a Guardian are arduous, even for the short stay you will be completing in the trials." Auron looked at her worriedly.
"I’m sure. You don’t have to come y’know." She squinted at him, shielding her eyes from the sun that lay low on the horizon.
"I want to. If that is alright with you?"
"Of course it is. I’d love some company, especially yours." She bit her lip. She hadn’t meant to let that last bit slip out. Luckily, he didn’t seem to notice.
She turned to face her father, bedecked in the robes of a summoner. Her breath caught in her throat as she took in the sight of a man facing certain death.
"You have your staff I trust?" Her voice was strangled, cracking from the emotions raging through her.
"I have. Shall we enter?"
She merely nodded, leaving the two men in her wake as she made haste to the entrance of the temple. They looked at each other and shrugged before following the distant figure of Braska’s daughter. Braska glanced at the child, troubled by her strange behaviour.
He bowed to the temple’s keeper deeply; "My name is Braska. I wish to pray to the Fayth and end the sorrow and suffering of Spira."
"Of course Lord Braska. These are your Guardians I presume?" The man eyed the relative children warily.
"They are for the time being."
"As you wish my lord. The trials that lie ahead are laborious, are you prepared?"
Lesca looked at the man with a bright smile, "We are."
Only Auron noticed the pain that flashed in her eyes as she uttered the simple reply. He restrained himself as he made to move toward her, realising it was the father, not the daughter he was here to protect. For now.
The monk eyed the youth with distaste before bowing to the apprentice summoner and moving to clear his path to the trials. They entered the cloister and Auron was struck by the wealth of machina employed by the temple. He had never been this far into its underbelly, it was forbidden for any monk to cross the threshold into the trials without good reason. The shock was evident on his face, and Lesca laughed bitterly.
"Why so startled Auron? Didn’t you know those holier than though Yevonite’s used the machina of the heathens?"
He shook his head, his eyes glazed and unseeing. Machina that was outlawed in the outer world lined the walls of the temple, bleeping merrily as they went about their appointed tasks.
"Lesca! Stop this. You are of the faith of Yevon also." Braska admonished his eldest daughter sharply.
"Hud drnuikr lruela." (Not through choice.) Auron smiled as she grumbled. Unknown to his companions, he knew enough Al Bhed to comprehend her words and to make himself understood. It was a skill all warrior monks had to learn to deal with the "atheists". Braska pulled Lesca to the side and began whispering furiously.
"Lesca, bmayca! Oui ghuf oui lyhhud najaym ouin mehayka. Tuh’d syga meva vun oui yht Yuna yho ryntat dryh ed ryc du pa. Vun so cyga yht ouin sudranc." (Lesca, please! You know you cannot reveal your lineage. Don’t make life for you and Yuna any harder than it has to be. For my sake and your mothers.) Braska looked at Auron pointedly.
The other man shrugged, "E ghuf. (I know.) I have no issue with the ancestry of your children and neither should the rest of Spira. It is sad that is not the case, but prejudice is an inevitable part of life."
Braska looked relieved, "You speak the language of her mother? It is good to know there are those out there who will not persecute my daughters for something that is outwith their control."
Lesca pulled away from her father and picked up a shimmering sphere of purple, tossing it lightly between her hands. "Come on. By the time you two are done jabbering the trials will have disappeared!"
The trials, though not physically challenging, tired them all mentally. As they stood outside the entrance to the Chamber of the Fayth, Lesca stopped Braska in his tracks. "This is it. Are you certain this is what you want?"
He took her by the shoulders and smiled, his eyes betraying his sadness, "It is for the good of Spira."
Lesca nodded and watched as her father entered the antechamber, the soft petal-like formations parting before him. She exhaled loudly as the last glimpse of white disappeared into the darkness and looked at Auron.
"Hey." She murmured, smiling at him shyly.
"Hello…" He looked at her, confused. Lesca giggled at the perplexed look on his face.
"You need to lighten up!"
She leaned against the wall of the room with her eyes closed, one leg resting against the cool surface, arms crossed. Auron watched as her lips moved, seemingly silently, but as he strained his ears he could pick out the faint words of a haunting tune.
Du sa, oui’na cdnyhka yht oui’na paydevim
He hesitated, "I, I see you."
Her eyes snapped open and she coloured, "I don’t know what you mean."
"That song… Oui dinh ajano rayt, pid oui tuh’d caa sa…You turn every head but you don’t see me. I see you."
She chewed on her bottom lip, "I didn’t realise you spoke quite as much Al Bhed."
"I liked the language so I studied it more than most of the monks, it is…beautiful." Tell her. Do it, what is there to fear? She can only reject you, laugh…
"However, it pales into insignificance next to your splendour." Smooth, real smooth Auron. He mentally slapped a hand to his forehead, cringing as she walked over to him, peering at him curiously.
"You mean that?"
He gulped, "I do."
She stopped in front of him and he looked down into the inquisitive green eyes from his lofty position. Smiling up at him was the girl he adored, that smile alone made his legs try to fold from under him, his heart pound in his chest. Reaching a slender gloved hand to his face, she trailed a finger down his cheek, standing on her tiptoes in a vain attempt to reach him. Lesca grinned, wrapping an arm around his neck and pulling him down to meet her lips. He met her kiss hungrily, wrapping his arms around her waist to pull her closer to him. Her probed the inside of her mouth, tentatively at first but as his ardour grew so did the urgency of his embrace. A moan escaped his lips and he felt a shiver run down his spine. He hid his disappointment as she pulled away, her eyes locked to his own once more.
She touched her lips and smiled softly, "Wow."
She studied his face for regret. Finding no noticeable signs, she pressed on. "Mmm hmm. Auron?"
He took her hand, unsure if it was appropriate or even wanted. "Yes?"
"Am I one of many for you? Was that just a bit of fun with the summoner’s daughter? I, I hope it wasn’t. You see, I know we hardly know each other and this is freaky and too soon but…" She began to get frustrated and she paced the room, trying to articulate her words.
"Do you believe in love at first sight? That there is only one person, a soul mate for everyone and when you find them you’ll know from the second you see them that this is it, this is meant to be?" She looked at him almost pleadingly for an answer.
He spoke slowly; choosing his words carefully, "You could never be one of many. Indeed, you are the only one and it would be…nice for it to stay that way. I agree that what happened there was "fun", but that is not all it was, at least not for me. I believe in love, in fate. I believe that from the moment I met you that I fell in love with you.
All I have been able to think of since we met at the temple was that I wanted to be by your side, always. You are the reason I am not married; I sought you out after my discharge from the temple because you are all I think of. You invade my waking moments and you haunt my dreams, and I find I do not mind, I want you to. Is this meant to be? I believe so."
"You mean those things you say? Do not hide behind flowery compliments, Auron, to spare my feelings."
He sliced his hand through the air, "Yevon, but you are infuriating! Lesca, believe me when I say that I love you. Do not slight me by questioning my integrity."
Lesca took him in her arms and laid her head on his chest, "I apologise. I love you Auron."
She withdrew from the embrace quickly as the door to the Fayth opened, her father staggering out. She looked at him in horror, taking in the beads of sweat on his brow, his dishevelled appearance, and the fatigue that was evident on his face. He began to fall forward as if in slow motion, she and Auron running to him, Lesca’s legs feeling leaden as they pounded the stone floor. They reached the man in time and he rested his head on the shoulder of his daughter.
"Is it over? For if it is not, I will not allow…" Lesca asked fearfully.
"It is done. I have become a summoner." The voice was tired, the pride palpable.
"It is done. Yes, it is done. Come, we must spread the news to Bevelle that a new summoner has been born to die and rid the world of Sin." She pulled her father to his feet.
"Auron? Please tell the temple priest to assemble the necessary people. Lord Braska must prove his skills by summoning the aeon he has acquired."
The youth nodded and left the two alone. She looked at her father tenderly. "So…my father the summoner. I am proud of you. I will make sure Yuna remembers her father and what a great man he was."
"Thank you. He is a good man Lesca. You have my blessing."
She raised an eyebrow, confused, "What do you mean?"
Her father smiled at her secretively, "Come, we must go. You will figure it out when the time is right."
Look after her when I no longer walk this earth, Auron. She is my brightest hope. Watch over my daughters, make my eldest happy with your love. You have my blessing.
How can heaven hold a place for me
The staff moved gracefully, spiralling fluidly as it cut through the crisp evening air of Bevelle. A light shone from the heavens to illuminate the summoner as he neared completion of the ritual, the blood-curdling roar of the King of Dragons echoing throughout the otherwise silent streets of the usually bustling city. The inhabitant’s of the municipally watched in awe as the great black mass descended from the skies, tremors shaking the ground as the aeon landed heavily. Braska smiled defiantly at the assembled dignitaries, they had believed a fallen Yevonite wed to an Al Bhed could never become a summoner. How wrong you were!
He walked over to the great beast timidly, watching for any signs of hostility. Seeing that the boy Fayth had been true to his word, he grinned, stroking the thick hide of the dragon whilst waving to the citizens. A great cheer arose from the crowds, celebrating the birth of a new summoner and with him a new hope. Lesca hung back from the masses, cursing each and every member of the throng for willing her father to his death. She felt an arm snake round her waist and looked up to find the russet eyes of Auron watching her with concern.
"Are you alright?"
She sighed, "I’m fine. There’s nothing I can do now, the deed is done and it is out of my hands."
"Shall I walk you home?"
"Are you not staying?" Lesca looked panicked and he smoothed her hair to soothe her.
"I have arranged lodgings with one of the priests from the temple. Apparently I am not as reviled as I had feared." He smirked wryly.
"Oh. You will still see me though?"
Auron laughed lightly at the worry on her face, "Of course. We do not have to go straight home if you do not wish it. Walk with me awhile, tell me more about yourself."
She grinned at him and led him away by the hand. They walked in companionable silence for some time before finding themselves back at the temple, the spot where they first met beckoning them. Auron watched as she settled herself into the corner she preferred, joining her when she called to him.
"Tell me more about your family."
The request startled her and she frowned, trying to think what he would find interesting. He recognised the contemplation and lowered his mouth to her ear, whispering as he wrapped her in the warmth of his coat. "Anything Lesca, I just want to hear your voice."
She nodded, nestling into the nook between his arm and body.
"My mother was Al Bhed as you know, her name was Bria. She and my father met here in Bevelle seventeen years ago, my mother was training to become a summoner. You know, for all the hate directed at her race, not one Yevonite realised she was Al Bhed. Strange. Anyway, my father was also in training, but when they met they fell in love, forsaking the pilgrimage. They were married almost immediately and had me a year later. After mom had Yuna, she wanted to return to her people and tell her side of our family the news. She, she went to Home but the ship was attacked by Sin on the way there. No one survived.
Auron stroked her hair softly, his chin resting gently on top of her head. "Who is your uncle? Do you have any more family?"
"My uncle is Cid, the leader of the Al Bhed people. He single handedly brought us all together in one place, our Home. He is truly remarkable; to gather a race in one place and watch over them without incident or violence is amazing. His wife, my aunt, was also killed by Sin, four years ago. He managed to pick himself up and get on with things…I’ve got two cousins, Brother; he’s my age and Rikku. She’s five, absolutely gorgeous but so energetic, she’s mad!"
She laughed as she remembered the spheres showing her little cousin tottering about asking for her. She looked up into the chocolate eyes and grinned. "Do you have any family Auron?"
He grunted, shaking his head. "I am an orphan. I was taken into the care of the temple when I was a baby. My parents were killed by Sin also."
"I’m sorry." She lay back in his embrace, seeing her face reflected in his chestnut eyes.
"Don’t be. I have no regrets, what you don’t know you don’t miss."
"I suppose. Auron? What are your plans for the future?"
Auron looked at the girl lying in his arms and smiled, he had never felt this kind of contentment before. He traced the outline of her lips with a battle hardened finger, marvelling that this girl, this woman that lay beside him, loved him. The moon shone brightly in the night sky, painting the world with silver. Purplish wisps of cloud danced across the blackness, the diamond studded heavens twinkling in their infinite beauty.
What do I want for the future? Lesca at my side certainly, but…I don’t want to wait, risk losing her.
"I have no plans. I have events I wish to happen but no plans."
She chuckled and tickled his chin, ""Like what?"
"Like, will you consent to be my wife? I know it is fast, please do not take that as a sign that I love lightly for I do not. I do not want to leave anything to fate. If you but grant me this wish I will spend my life trying to be worthy of your love." He spoke in a rush, instantly regretting his outburst as he watched his love clam up.
"This is so sudden Auron, I didn’t expect this…"
"I am sorry, please forget I said anything." He hung his head, clenching his fist so hard his nails drew blood from his palm.
She shook her head, grinning, "Auron, if I am to be your wife you have to learn to let me finish a sentence! It may be sudden and unexpected, but I can think of nothing I would rather do. I would be honoured to be your wife, unless you still want me to forget what you just said?"
"Of course I don’t! You are sure though?" The elation was reigned in by Auron’s cautious nature.
"Positive. We’ll go to the temple tomorrow, see if they can fit us in?"
"That would be more than acceptable. What of your father?" He stroked her hand absently, mesmerised by her eyes.
"He told me I had his blessing. I think he knows." Lesca’s lips brushed his full mouth lightly, a look of surprise crossing her face when he caught her bottom lip lightly in his teeth to prolong the kiss.
He cradled her face in his hands, tracing small circles on her cheek with his rough hand. Auron felt her form mould into the contours of his body, her heart beating hard against his chest, small, rapid breathes quickening her pulse in her excitement. His own breathing became shallow as he saw his own lust reflected in Lesca’s eyes. He broke from the passion reluctantly, tossing his coat aside as he attempted to cool his fervour. She looked at him, confused and hurt at his withdrawal. "You, you don’t want to kiss me?"
His voice rasped, desire making him hoarse, "I do, more than anything. I just don’t want to let this go too far."
"How can anything be too far if we are to be wed? Auron, please. Trust me." She lowered her pitch as voices drifted up from the temple below, reverting to her mother tongue to disguise their converse.
"E’s clynat duu, pid E ryja oui yht dryd ec ymm E haat. Tuh’d oui naymeca po huf dryd dra uhmo fyo oui luimt rond un tecruhuin sa fuimt pa du mayja sa tajuet uv ouin muja? E fyhd oui du dyga sa yc ouin feva vimmo, Auron. Dusunnuf syo hajan lusa, meva ec hud bnusecat. Dyga drec susahd vun ic pudr." (I’m scared too, but I have you and that is all I need. Don’t you realise by now that the only way you could hurt or dishonour me would be to leave me devoid of your love? I want you to take me as your wife fully, Auron. Tomorrow may never come, life is not promised. Take this moment for us both.)
"How can I? Lesca, it is against the teachings…" He looked at her, imploring her to understand his position.
She spoke harshly, "Vilg dra daylrehkc! Fryd kuut tet drao ajan tu dra Al Bhed? Dra daylrehkc yna fnuhk." (Fuck the teachings! What good did they ever do the Al Bhed? The teachings are wrong.)
Her face softened, her tone becoming gentle, "Auron, drao lycd ic pudr yceta fedruid lynehk, fro cruimt fa byo raad du dras? Oui lyhhud namo uh dra daylrehkc uv Yevon du syga ouin taleceuhc vun oui, dyga meva yc oui veht ed yht du yc oui fecr." (Auron, they cast us both aside without caring, why should we pay heed to them? You cannot rely on the teachings of Yevon to make your decisions for you, take life as you find it and do as you wish.)
He sank to the ground, pondering her words. His head throbbed a little from the work it took to translate the angry Al Bhed as it rolled easily from his fiancee’s tongue.
She is right in what she says, the teachings are wrong on many things, why not this? But who I am to question Yevon? All shall be well after the ceremony tomorrow…why deny my bride and myself? Tomorrow may never come…
He felt her put her slender arms around his neck from where she knelt behind him, resting her head on his back. "E’s cunno. I’m sorry, I had no right to talk like that. If you want to blindly follow Yevon, that is your choice to make, not mine."
He drew in a deep breath, swivelling around to face her. Catching her arms, he pulled her forward, lying back as he did so. The laughter rumbled in his throat at the startled look on her face as she landed on his chest, green eyes wide in astonishment. "Auron, what are you…"
He put a finger to her lips, grinning as he silenced her. "Lesca, if you are to be my wife, you must learn not to incessantly question me…"
We made our connection
Braska watched from the shadows as his eldest closed the door behind her quietly with a barely audible click. She moved stealthily in the near blackness, finding her way by only familiarity and moonlight. He sighed softly, the slight disturbance in the air causing Lesca to turn and face her father. She put a hand to her heart, grinning as she realised it was he and no other.
"Where have you been Lesca?" His eyes were weary as he regarded his daughters somewhat dishevelled state.
"I was out walking with Auron."
"Really?" Braska raised an eyebrow.
She smirked defiantly, "Really."
He let the lie pass and moved on. "Lesca, I need your counsel."
He smiled at her, patting the seat next to him. She sat next to her father uncertainly, looking at him expectantly.
"My choice of Guardians."
The girl rolled her eyes, "Whom do you have in mind?"
Her father chuckled at the irony of what he was suggesting, "There is a man being held in the Via Purifico, he claims he is from Zanarkand. I would like you to come and meet him with me."
"No problem, if you want to entrust your life to a psycho that’s your choice. There is another you have in mind though, isn’t there? I can tell by that look on your face this isn’t all there is to this little chat." Suspicion was evident on her face.
He sighed, "You always were too astute for your own good. I plan to ask Auron to be my Guardian."
The anger flashed in her eyes, "No. Don’t take him."
"I know you know why, don’t act dumb. Dad, I love him, he loves me. I don’t want to lose him to your foolish pilgrimage."
Amusement twinkled in his sapphire eyes, "You are right. I do know. I promise that I will allow no harm to come to him, Lesca. You have my word as your father and as a summoner. After all, what kind of a man would I be to widow my daughter?"
She chuckled, "Not much happens that you don’t know about, does it?"
Braska grinned, holding his daughter close, "No. Lesca, if he agrees you will not mind him going?"
"I’ll mind, but I won’t stand in your way. You’ve given me your word that he will come to no harm, that’s good enough a guarantee for me."
Braska stood, stretching the knotted muscles in his back while suppressing a yawn. He beckoned to his eldest daughter to follow him as he entered the room he had once shared with his beloved wife. Lesca watched as her father rummaged in drawers before holding a piece of fabric out to her triumphantly.
"This was the dress your mother wore the day we were wed. I think she’d want you to have it."
She fingered the delicate silk tentatively; fearing a rash move would tear the flimsy weave. A strangled cry escaped her as she looked at her father gratefully, unshed tears glistening in her eyes. She ran from the room, only to return minutes later wearing the garment. Braska held his breath unconsciously, seeing his child transform into a woman before his eyes.
She looks so much like you, Bria. It scares me.
White silk flowed over her pale skin, skimming her curves elegantly. As she walked, the dress skimmed the floor, the noise reminding Braska of lazy days gone by spent with his young family, watching the sun rise and set while waves lapped gently at the shore. The long line of her back was exposed; the halter neck of crossed ribbon barely visible at the nape of her neck. His heart leapt into his mouth as she used one hand to sweep her ebony locks from her shoulders, piling the tresses loosely on top of her head before securing them with a nearby clasp.
Our little girl is all grown up and getting married in the morning. I wish you were here, you’d be so proud…I know I am. Yevon, Bria, why did you have to leave us?
Lesca twirled on the spot before looking at him expectantly, "Well? What do you think?"
Braska smiled at the young woman, "I think…Auron is a very lucky man. You look beautiful sweetheart, I’m so proud of you, both of you."
"Will you walk with us to the temple tomorrow?" She bit her bottom lip and he found himself watching the scared little girl she had once been.
He shook his head slowly. "Lesca, you know how the ceremony works. This is between you, Auron and the priest. No one else can be involved, lest foul play be accused. I will be waiting for you both after the ritual has been performed. May Yevon smile upon your union."
She nodded, sighing. "I know, I know. I just…I don’t know. I’m nervous."
Braska looked into his daughter’s eyes, "It is a big step Lesca, I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Your mother and I were married at your age; we had only known each other for a matter of days too. Nerves are inevitable, but if it is meant to be then you will defeat them. Do not worry so, whatever you decide I support you fully. Now go to sleep, tomorrow will be a long day."
"Are you leaving on the pilgrimage tomorrow?"
"Perhaps." He shrugged, "It will depend on many factors."
"Ok. Night dad."
"Goodnight Lesca." Braska replied absently, his attention riveted by the stars.
I have a lot to think on this night. Forgive me, Yuna. They will be there for you when I am not.
Lesca groaned, pulling the light sheets over her face as the sunlight flooded the room. A chirpy voice invaded the quiet and the covers were forcefully tugged from her face. She opened one eye groggily to meet the innocent gaze of Yuna and her friend.
"This is my big sister Lesca! She doesn’t get up easy; she likes to lie in bed. Lescy, this is Fertia!"
Lesca smiled, waving a hand at the pair. Her sister jumped on the bed and started pleating her sister’s hair.
"Oh, I nearly forgot Lescy, Auron’s here to take you out. Lescy’s got a boyfriend!" The little girl taunted her sister in a sing song voice.
Lesca flung the sheets aside, giggling as they engulfed her sister and rushed to the bathroom to get ready. She showered in record time, pushing Yuna back onto the bed as she towelled her hair roughly while pulling on the dress her father had given to her the previous night.
"Why you in a hurry? Why you wearing a dress? You hate dresses!" The little girl made a face while Lesca laughed at her sister’s antics, ruffling the child’s hair.
"Why do you ask so many questions? I’m in a hurry to meet Auron and I’m wearing a dress to try and look pretty for a change! Ok?"
Yuna nodded sagely, before rummaging around in the small pouch she was holding. Lesca watched out of the corner of her eye, hopping as she pulled on a dainty shoe.
"What you got there, Yuna?"
"Make up. I can put some on you and make you pretty!" The little girl brandished a lipstick.
"Um, tell you what…you can put a teeny bit of lipstick on me and that’s it, ok?"
The girl nodded happily, sticking her tongue out in concentration as Lesca swept her hair up expertly as she had done the night before. As Yuna finished her most arduous task, Lesca stepped back to allow for her sister’s inspection.
"What do you think? The nerves were quite apparent in her voice. The little girl scrutinised her before breaking into a large grin.
"You look really pretty Lesca, like you’re getting married!"
"Really? Well, that’s a relief. Come on Yuna, and you Fertia. Let’s go get Auron."
"I know where you and my daughter are headed this morning Auron. Rest assured, you have my blessing."
The worry dissipated from the youth’s face somewhat and Braska laughed. "Why so worried? I am no Marlboro. I do have a favour to ask of you though."
Auron bowed, grateful beyond words to the understanding Braska. "Anything, Lord Braska."
"I need you to watch over both my daughters once I am gone. Yuna can be a bit of a handful, but she has no ill will. Though I am sure that you will one day have children of your own…" Braska hid a smile as a blush worked its way up Auron’s neck.
"I would be most grateful if you watched over Yuna until the day she can fend for herself." He finished.
"Of course, it would be an honour."
Braska hesitated, "There is one more thing…you are a able swordsman Auron, I have need of someone with the skills you possess to guard me on my pilgrimage. Would you consent to be my Guardian?"
Auron spoke diplomatically, "If it is alright with Lesca, I will become your Guardian,"
"I have spoken with my daughter on this matter, we have…an agreement if you will. Then it is settled, we leave tomorrow. There is another I have in mind I wish you and Lesca to meet after the ceremony has been performed."
He paused, handing Auron two plain bands of burnished gold. "Take these. They were her mothers and mine a lifetime ago…"
"As you wish, my…" Auron’s words caught in his throat as Lesca entered the small room, filling it to the brim with her beauty. Both men stood slack jawed at the sight of her.
She grinned, breaking the silence. "I take it I look ok then?"
The two men nodded dumbly. Lesca reached a hand out to Auron who took it tentatively. "Shall we go? Dad, we’ll meet you at the Via Purifico in an hour, Yuna be good and hurry on to school."
Yuna scurried out the door, turning with her friend to look at Lesca once more with a grin before disappearing into the distance. Lesca pulled Auron out of the house, laughing at the stunned look on his face while waving to her father. "What’s wrong Auron? Do I look awful?"
He shook his head, his voice hoarse, "N, no. Quite the opposite, you look…like an angel."
She curtsied, "Why thank you! Come on, we’d better hurry!"
"You are certain this is what you wish? Once the blessing of Yevon has been performed, nothing can break the bonds between you." The priest looked at the couple, distaste evident in his words and on his face.
Auron looked to Lesca, who smiled encouragingly, "We are certain."
"Then enter the temples chambers, where you shall be shrived and married."
The first strains of the Hymn met the ears of Lesca and she felt her soul soothed by the melody. Feeling eyes on her, she glanced to her side to meet Auron’s bronzed gaze. For the first time since they had met he was smiling for no other reason than pure happiness. Her heart leapt, her nerves dissolving. This is it, this is meant to be.
The priest went through the ritual; Auron barely heard a word, responding only when prompted to do so. His bride mesmerised him, the smell of her intoxicated him, and her presence reduced him to a fool. She was…unique. This feeling was like nothing he had ever imagined. He slipped Bria’s ring onto her daughter’s finger, a tender smile tugging at Lesca’s lips as she recognised the band of gold. He marvelled at her, no one had ever made him feel like this. As the priest completed the ceremony, one thought ran rampant through his mind. This is it, this is meant to be!
"Lesca, we were meant to meet your father ten minutes ago!" Auron shook his head, laughing as his bride hopped around the room pulling up her boots.
"I know, I know! Two seconds Auron, I couldn’t go there dressed like I was." She grumbled.
He caught her leg, zipping the boot with ease before taking her hand and leading her out of the house; thankful she was now comfortable in her normal attire.
"Why? Not that you don’t always look good, but you were stunning this morning."
"Thank you, but the Via Purifico is not the cleanest place on Spira aand I didn’t want to risk anything happening to the gown."
"I suppose…is that not your father?" Auron pointed to a figure clad in red and purple robes, squinting against the sun.
Lesca shielded her eyes from the sun, making a mental note to buy them both eyewear to guard their eyes from the suns rays.
"Yup." She broke into a run, embracing her father warmly when she reached him.
Braska looked at the newlyweds, "Congratulations! But enough of that, time enough tonight eh? Come and meet the man from Zanarkand!"
Lesca raised an eyebrow to her husband before following Braska into the dim monument. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could make out the form of a scruffy man sitting in one of the cells, the smell of alcohol radiating from every pore. She got out her sphere recorder; she had a feeling this could get interesting with Auron around…She clipped the small recorder onto her shoulder and went over to the man. Auron made to stop her, but a grinning Braska held him back.
"Hey! Who’re you?"
The man looked up and her and grunted, "Don’t recognise me, kid? I’m the great Jecht, star player of the Zanarkand Abes."
She waved a hand in front of her face, "Jeez Jecht, how much have you had to drink? Never mind, you say you’re from Zanarkand?"
The man got to his feet, stretching his aching muscles. "What is it with everyone asking me that? You all from some little backwater village? Yeah, I’m from Zanarkand, what of it?"
Auron’s anger spilled over, "Watch your tongue knave!"
Lesca turned to him, winking. "It’s ok. I like him dad, I think you should ask him!"
The man looked at the group suspiciously, "Ask me what? Who are all of you?"
Braska stepped forward, "My name is Braska, I am a summoner. This is my eldest daughter, Lesca and my new son in law and Guardian, Auron."
Jecht laughed huskily, "Well, you landed on your feet Auron, she’s a real looker! Think you could’ve done better than this stiff though, kid…"
Lesca grinned while Auron reigned in the threatening fury, her hand sitting lightly on his arm the only thing restraining him.
"How would you like to get out of here Jecht?" Braska continued.
"Hell, yeah!" The man punched the air, quite obviously a sportsman, before his suspicion set in once more, "What’s the catch?"
"Well, I’m soon to leave on a pilgrimage and I need another Guardian. Look after me on my journey; make sure I get there, that is all I ask. In return, we will try to return you to your Zanarkand."
Auron looked at the man in disbelief, before turning to Braska. "But my Lord, I must protest! This drunkard, a Guardian?"
Jecht narrowed his eyes at the youth, "You want to step in here and say that?"
Braska grinned at Auron, flanked by his daughter. "Think of it Auron, a disgraced summoner wed to an Al Bhed, a fallen warrior monk and a man from Zanarkand. What delightful irony it would be if we were to defeat Sin!"
Auron knew when he was beaten and he looked to Lesca who snuggled into his chest contentedly.
"Sure, I’ll help you."
The guards unlocked the cell and Lesca started to pull her husband away from Jecht, sensing that trouble could erupt if she didn’t. She stifled a giggled as she heard a voice ask, "So what’s a summer-ner anyway?"
Disarmed by your charm at night I felt it again,
I swear to Yevon, this, this Jecht will drive me mad.
Auron stared out from below his knitted brows, watching as his wife of mere hours fussed around the stranger. Jecht seemed to enjoy the attention lavished upon him by the beautiful young woman and Auron’s scowl grew darker as he contemplated this. Don’t get used to it, charlatan.
Lesca ruffled his hair playfully as she walked past, silently asking him to smile at their guest. He grunted and crossed him arms, Smile at the drunkard who is to be my comrade. Interesting concept, my love.
"So, uh, Auron? Braska here says you were a warrior monk, what happened there?" Jecht turned to Auron with genuine interest.
"I, I refused the hand of the daughter of the Maester." He was slightly taken aback by the mans forward manner.
Jecht leaned forward conspiratorially, gesturing to Lesca who was busy trying to settle Yuna for bed. "Because you met her? Can’t say I blame ya kid, I mean; look at her! If I was ten years younger…"
The older man laughed as he saw the anger flare in the youths eyes once more. "Take it easy! I’m not going after her, I got a wife and a kid of my own."
Braska saw the man in a new light, "Really? What age is your child?"
"He’s about the same age as little Yuna, he’s seven. Name’s Tidus. He’s gonna be a star blitz player one day, just like his old man. If he ever stops being such a damn cry baby."
Braska laughed heartily, "Well, that is something we can all be accused of at some point or another. Will your wife not be worried by your disappearance?"
Jecht grinned, "She’s a tough old bird, she’ll be fine until I get back, it’s the boy I’m worried about. Where’s your wife, Braska?"
Braska hesitated, a look of sadness crossing his features and Jecht instantly regretted his question. He was relieved when Lesca rejoined the conversation.
"My mom’s been dead for five years now, killed by Sin. The reason for the pilgrimage is to rid Spira of the sorrow that Sin leaves in its wake."
She smiled brightly, placing a cup in front of each man, "Coffee?"
They all nodded, stunned at her resilience before Jecht began the verbal exchange again, albeit tentatively. "Please, Lesca. So, what does a summoner do Braska?"
Braska smiled at the mans attempts to understand this alien culture. "As a summoner, I must pray at the remaining temples in Besaid, Kilika, Djose, and Macalania in order to join with the Fayth and receive the power of the aeons."
"What’s a Fayth? Come to think of it, what’s an aeon?"
"A Fayth is the spirit of a man, woman or child encased in stone. By praying to the Fayth, the spirit will decide whether you are worthy to wield their great power. If you are, the spirit joins with you to become one and an aeon is born. An aeon is a powerful being a summoner can call on in battle for aid."
Jecht nodded sagely, "Right, right. So why do you need to get these aeons, why do you need to fight?"
Braska sighed, "It is unfortunate, but there are beings that wander this land called fiends. These fiends are the souls of the departed who are not at rest. They are jealous of the living and pray on them, wanting those still alive to join them as they prowl."
Jecht interrupted impatiently, "How do they become fiends?"
"Once the body dies, the soul must be released. Only a summoner can do this, by sending the soul of the deceased to the Farplane. If the soul is not sent, the restless spirit become a fiend."
"Right. So, why do you need these aeons then?"
Braska grinned at the incessant, child like questioning. "In order to obtain the final aeon in Zanarkand and defeat Sin, a summoner must prove themselves worthy by obtaining every other aeon. The final aeon will end the suffering of Spira."
Jecht sat back in his chair, his appetite for knowledge sated somewhat. "Got it, so our ultimate goal will lead me home. Suits me. We leave tomorrow?"
Braska nodded and Jecht nudged Auron, "Better go spend some time with the wife Auron, I gotta feeling this’ll be no short trip."
Auron looked at him with disgust before storming out. Jecht chuckled. "Does Lesca know what she’s got herself into?"
Braska smiled at this enigma, the man from Zanarkand, "She knows. I think…she enjoys the spoils from the challenge."
Lesca jumped as her door was flung open, an angry Auron striding in purposefully. She frowned, knowing to let him air his grievances before venturing speech.
"That Jecht, Lesca, I swear to Yevon…he is the most rude, arrogant, obnoxious boor I have ever had the misfortune to meet!"
She began to knead his shoulders, "Maybe so, but he’s a good man at heart, he means no harm. Try and see past that gruff exterior, if not for your sake then for mine. Yevon knows what you must come across like! He will be a good friend to you Auron, I guarantee it."
He sighed, turning to face her. "For you, anything."
She lay on her bed, patting the space adjacent to her. The ceiling of the room was made of glass, allowing the stars to shine overhead brightly. Auron pointed out various formations.
"Look, the star of Tehran. And there, the cross of O’Halland."
Lesca grinned, resting her head on his chest while she entwined a lock of his hair around her finger. She looked up into her lover’s eyes, feeling as though she was drowning in their depths. "Auron, did you know your name is Al Bhed in origin?"
He raised an eyebrow, "I did not…tell me more?"
"Well, the first part, "Aur" comes from the symbol "Or" in our language. "Or" would translate as…light as in enlightenment, through knowledge, guidance, and wisdom. It can also mean the spiritual light; a light consisting of two equal and separate lights; the life giving and the death dealing. Just meaningless symbols and folklore to most, but I think it’s fitting.
You are fated to guide through your Guardianship, impart your knowledge and wisdom to Jecht. You gave me back my life and you deal death to those who wish to harm those dear to you. You are Auron, my Auron and I love you." She lifted his palm to her lips and kissed it softly.
"You are amazing, do you know that?" He stated huskily.
"I do…but show me how amazing I am." Her full lips curled into a half smile.
He growled, nuzzling the nape of her neck as she tugged lightly upon his hair, sending shivers down his spine. Lesca tugged at his coat, mischief glinting in her eyes as she stared at him hungrily. He tossed the garment aside, positioning himself on top of her as she ran long fingers sensuously up and down his spine.
"You are sure you are alright? After last night…you do not need more time to recover?" His voice was soft, concerned but desire could not mask itself in the gravelled tones.
She kissed away the worry, "I’m fine! Jeez, I’ve suffered worse hurt than that in my life. What kind of a wife do you take me for, one who would deny her husband their wedding night before he left in the morning?"
He grinned, "Well, if you are sure…"
A throaty laugh disturbed the lovers, Auron watched in wide-eyed horror as Jecht entered the room, clapping. "You know, I usually have to pay to see that kind of a show!"
Lesca’s face burned violently, "Are you looking for something, Jecht?"
Auron scowled at the older man as he continued to grin inanely. "Uh, no. Well, yeah…where’s the bathroom? Braska said it was around here somewhere."
"Across the hall. Good night Jecht." She practically pushed the man from the room before bolting the door behind her.
She grinned, walking toward Auron slowly, "So…where were we?"
"Yuna, it’s time."
The little girl yawned; rubbing her eyes sleepily as Lesca pushed the hair back from the child’s face with a sad smile.
"Time for what Lescy?" She asked groggily.
"Daddy’s leaving on his pilgrimage today. You have the day off school, hurry up and get ready so you can spend some time with him, ok?"
The girl moved listlessly to the bathroom to get washed while Lesca tidied the room, wiping a stray tear from her red rimmed eyes. All I can do is weep, it’s pathetic. Be strong, Lesca, come on! For Yuna’s sake…
She forced a sunny smile onto her lips, looking in disbelief at her reflection in the mirror. This unhappy woman…this isn’t me. A smile can’t mask the sorrow in your eyes.
"Lescy? How do I look?"
The happy façade was quickly replaced, "You look lovely. Come on, go see Dad."
The little girl tilted her head, "Why’re your eyes red?"
"It’s…hayfever, makes your eyes water. Come on!" She hurried the child into the kitchen where the three men discussed the route ahead.
Braska scooped his youngest daughter into his arms, inhaling the scent of her deeply. "Yuna, be good for Lesca ok?"
The girl squirmed and he put her down, laughing softly as she shook her head stubbornly. "No Daddy. Why d’you have to go? Let someone else’s daddy go instead, I need you!" The tiny face crumpled and Braska’s heart began the familiar aching.
"You want someone else’s little girl to go through this? Yuna, you are strong, you can live through this whereas others could not. Do not cry for me, my darling. What I do, I do for you and all of Spira. You will be safe now, I promise. I’ll be watching over you from the Farplane."
Yuna held her head up high to prevent the threatening tears from spilling. Jecht chuckled her under the chin, grinning. "He’ll be back soon, don’t worry! I’ll make sure he’s ok for you. Look at you, not one tear. My kid would’ve been sobbing by now!"
Lesca watched the scene from the doorway, a rogue tear leaving its tell tale streak on her fair skin. He doesn’t know. He really isn’t of this world. How wrong you are Jecht…
"Yuna, go see if you can run any errands for Fertia’s mother, she’s not feeling too great."
She meant to sound composed, in control. Instead, she spoke in a strangled whisper. Yuna nodded eagerly before bouncing out of the room happily, such was the resilience of a child.
Jecht embraced Lesca warmly; "It’ll all be ok. They’ll both come back fine, or I’m not the greatest Blitz player that’s ever lived!"
He ruffled her hair fondly before making his excuses and stepping outside. Braska looked at her blood shot eyes and felt his own begin to water. He covered the length of the room quickly, grasping his daughter to his heart as he wept. "Lesca, I…"
She shook her head, smiling in spite of the tears. "Don’t dad. Please? I love you. Be well, may Yevon watch over you and bless the pilgrimage of Lord Braska and his Guardians."
He bowed in return, "I love you too. Watch over Yuna for me…"
"You know you don’t need to ask. Goodbye Lord Braska."
"Farewell, my daughter."
Braska exited the residence he had called home for many years, imprinting the image in his mind. Memories of their first days there flooded his mind, a heavily pregnant Bria as she winked at him from the doorway, a tiny Lesca toddling toward him with her arms held out. An ecstatic family as they learned of an impending sibling for Lesca. A house of mourning as they lost part of their light. I’ll be with you soon, my love. I promise.
"Auron, I’ll miss you." Her voice was barely audible as she hung her head, cursing herself for this feminine weakness.
"I will count the days until I can return to you. Lesca, I will endeavour to find a way to save your father. I love you."
She walked out of the room, leaving him bathed in confusion. What have I done?
She returned a moment later, hands behind her back. "Close your eyes."
He did so in surprise, the command seeming foreign from her lips. He felt his right arm dip a little from a foreign weight being attached. Before he could analyse the feeling, she plunged his fingers into a cool material while simultaneously fixing something to his coat. He heard the click of her heel as she stepped backward to admire her handiwork. Seemingly satisfied, she kissed his cheek, cradling his face in her hands.
"Ok, open them."
Auron examined the arm that had the strange pressure on it, finding a bracer attached to the sleeve of his coat. Lesca ran her fingers up the cool steel.
"It’ll help balance you when you’re swinging the sword, see? It’s got a built in antidote too, so you won’t get ill…" She moved on, kissing the tips of his fingers, which were now encased in leather.
"So you don’t lose your grip, leather grips steel better than skin."
The final appendage she had attached to his person was a pair of oval, silver rimmed sunglasses. She put them on her head and struck a pose while he laughed at her antics. "Just so I always know these eyes are alright…"
She placed the glasses in his pocket gently before looking up into the russet gaze for what seemed like an eternity. He burned her face into his consciousness, determined that he would never forget what he was fighting for. He kissed her tenderly, disturbed by her damp cheeks.
"Lesca, are you…"
"I’m fine. Go, the sooner you leave, the sooner you return, right?"
"Come back to me Auron, promise me. I love you…" Her voice cracked as she tried desperately to check her emotions.
"I promise. I…must go now. I love you Lesca." He turned and strode out the door, fighting the urge to turn back to her, for he knew that if he did he wouldn’t leave.
She collapsed on the floor, dazed. She understood the reason for his sudden departure better than he and yet…
Why? Why take my father and my husband both? Fate is cruel; it laughs at my misfortune.
Can’t sleep in the city, you’re far away…
White. All she could see was chalky, the occasional splash of greens and yellows breaking the monotony of the blinding white. Her eyes widened as the acrid smell hit her nose again and she drew breath deeply, hoping to quell the bile rising in her throat. It was to no avail, the nausea washed over her once more and she retched painfully, her throat burning from the caustic liquid. She released her vice like grip from the side of the toilet, resting her throbbing head against the cool porcelain as she felt the sickness dissipate.
She opened one eye groggily to see a frightened Yuna standing over her, pale faced with fear. She sighed and tried to grin. White! Everything’s too white! Her face, the damn toilet…
"Hey Yunie, whatcha doing up so early? It’s not time for school, go back to bed." Her throat rasped agonisingly.
"What’s wrong with you? Why’re you so ill?" Yuna was worried. She had watched her sister grow gradually weaker since her father had left little over a month ago. It scared her.
Lesca smiled weakly, "There’s a stomach bug going round, go back to bed before I pass it onto you Yu…"
The smile turned to anguish as she heaved the yellow liquid. Yuna sat the rest of the night with her sister, holding the vomit stained locks back from the older girls face and rubbing her back with small hands infused with infinite tenderness. Lesca was never sick, but she had looked after the girl enough that Yuna knew how to comfort her. When Lesca fell into a fatigue induced slumber the little girl padded over to her room, bringing her blanket back to wrap around them both. She huddled next to the prone figure, falling asleep with her sister’s arm lying over her heavily.
Lesca felt the now familiar queasiness and groaned, stretching her knotted muscles as she moved to retch quietly into the toilet. She shook her head, noticing an exhausted Yuna under her arm.
"Poor kid." She muttered.
She bundled the sleeping child into her arms and laid her in bed, hastily scribbling a note before she left the room.
Don’t worry about getting up, I’ll go tell your teacher you’re not coming in. Thanks for looking after me last night; I’m sorry if I scared you. I’m going to the healers, be back soon, promise.
P.S. No boys!
She smiled as she stuck it on her sister’s headboard, knowing that at the moment boy’s were diseases as far as her sister was concerned. She showered and brushed her teeth, feeling glad to be rid of the acidic taste in her mouth for a while at least. After she dressed, she padded bare foot into her father’s room, sitting on the bed heavily. Everything reminded her of the impending loss she was to suffer; the room was infused with his scent. She picked up one of his jumpers, a fond reminder from the days when his mind was preoccupied with his family rather than vengeance, and rubbed the soft wool against her cheek. Folding it carefully, she replaced it in a drawer, Auron’s words from little more than a month past haunting her. I will endeavour to find a way to save your father…
"If anyone can, it’s you. I pray you all come home safe." She murmured, unaware she was speaking aloud.
She left the house, walking the short distance to Yuna’s school gingerly, afraid to reawaken the sickness inside of her. She leaned heavily on the railing leading up to the entrance, catching sight of her carrion like complexion in the polished metal. Her face had a definite green tinge. I look like shit. Great.
Instead of heading directly to Yuna’s classroom, she stopped into the washroom and splashed cool water on her face, trying to look at least semi fit to care for the younger girl. Satisfied, she pasted a smile on her face at the entrance to the classroom and knocked. A short, plump woman answered the door.
"Yes?" The woman barked. Lesca tried not to look phased.
"I’m Yuna’s sister. She won’t be coming in today, she’s ill."
The woman closed the door behind her softly. "Ah, yes. The infamous Lesca. I can’t say I’m not glad your sister is nothing like what I’ve heard about you."
Lesca smiled weakly, "Yeah, well. She’s a good kid. I was just a little…wilder."
The woman raised an eyebrow; "I believe that is an understatement. Setting the substitute teachers hair on fire because he gave you detention ring any bells?"
Lesca crossed her arms, wincing as she felt the bile rise in her throat. "What is this? I’m a black mage, ok? I couldn’t control my magic back then, I didn’t mean it. I was just a kid."
"You’re nothing but a snivelling coward who runs from her problems, just like your father."
"What did you say?" Lesca’s eyes flashed, her fingertips tingled with barely contained magic.
"You heard. We all know about Braska, the man who abandoned his children because he couldn’t live without his dead heathen wife." The woman’s face contorted into an ugly sneer.
"What the hell is your problem? Take that back!"
"No. The Al Bhed and their machina have no place in this world, you’re half Al Bhed, and your father married one. You and your kind deserve no better."
Lesca shook with rage, "And what of Yuna?"
"What of her? That child is a true Yevonite; we have no need to fear her. We know you cherish your Al Bhed heritage, go back to the other heathens."
Lesca shook her head, her soft voice betraying her rage, "How dare you. My father is a summoner! He fights in the name of Yevon to vanquish Sin! If that is not true devotion to a false God then I don’t know what is! Yes, I embrace the Al Bhed, they are family and I love them. At least they aren’t backstabbing bloodsuckers like you damn Yevonite’s! If you ever, ever insult my family again…I’ll kill you."
She turned on her heel and made to leave, a taunting voice rooted her to the spot.
"It was a blessing of Yevon that your mother died. I hope you and your father go the same way, and soon. Let that poor child grow in peace."
Lesca walked away, a smirk on her face as she snapped her fingers. A satisfying scream could be heard echoing throughout the halls of the school as the teacher tried to douse the flames licking at her scalp. So I lied…No one ever gave me detention again.
Auron sat in front of the sphere nervously. Checking that Jecht and Braska were at a safe distance, he turned the contraption on. He pulled at his breastplate, feeling broiled in the tropical heat of Besaid. Clearing his throat, he addressed the sphere.
"Hello Lesca. I hope you are well." The formality waned a little and genuine emotion began to show through.
"Lesca, how I miss you! The minutes are an eternity without you by my side to make them fly. I hope everything runs smoothly in Bevelle…Lord Braska has just prayed to the Fayth in Besaid, he has obtained a mighty aeon named Valefor.
He wishes us to come here after the pilgrimage; you would love it here, Lesca. Remember the beaches you said you would love to see again? They are even more beautiful here than you described. The sand is unsullied white, the ocean a sapphire blue." He looked off into the distance before remembering his task.
"It is better than Bevelle on all accounts, there seems to be no hate here. There are children here about Yuna’s age, I could join the crusaders…" He sighed.
"Maybe it is just a dream, but it is a dream I want to live with you. I count the minutes, my love, I miss you so…"
A gruff voice interrupted him and a bearded face engulfed his recording, "Come on Auron! We gotta get going, the boat to Kilika leaves soon."
Auron grunted in annoyance, "Two minutes Jecht."
Jecht grinned, leaving Auron alone once more. He turned to the recording, looking at the
"I will return as soon as I can Lesca. I love you."
He reached over and turned off the tiny device. Walking toward the ship, the youth spotted the small stall he had been told about on the shoreline. Auron handed the sphere to the Al Bhed Braska had introduced as Rin.
"You are sure she will get it? Her name is Lesca, daughter of Lord Braska."
"Of course I am sure Sir Auron, we Al Bhed never betray our word. I travel to Bevelle tonight; she will receive it in a few days. I will be in Djose soon, if she has anything to return and you are there I will gladly relay her message…for a price."
"Ever the trader, Rin."
"Of course, Sir Auron. We have to build Home." His eyes if not his calm voice betrayed Rin’s excitement at the prospect of the union of the Al Bhed.
"You will be rewarded handsomely."
Rin caught a glimpse of the band on Auron’s finger as he turned to the ship; "You are married to the summoner’s daughter?"
Auron narrowed his eyes suspiciously, "I am…what of it?"
Rin shook his head, "Nothing, it is wonderful that love can blossom in the midst of such hate. The Al Bhed smile upon your union, Cid will be pleased."
The strange Al Bhed man walked off, leaving Auron to puzzle over what had just happened. He didn’t puzzle long, as Jecht dragged him up the gangplank onto the ship.
"Jeez, Auron! Anyone would think you don’t want Braska to defeat Sin!"
She stood sheepishly, discarding the bucket she had been given to stop her running to the toilet every few minutes.
"Um, I’m Lesca." She grinned nervously as she was lead through to the healer’s room. The elderly Al Bhed man welcomed the young woman with open arms, his green eyes smiling at her warmly as she entered.
"Lesca, it is good to see you! I’m glad on your behalf it hasn’t been sooner, child! Why, I remember when I brought you and little Yuna into this world, kicking and screaming you were…" He laughed softly at his memories, stopping only when he realised Lesca was turning greener by the second.
"My goodness, you’re as green as your eyes! Lie down and let’s see what the problem is, eh?"
She nodded and sank into the bed gratefully, wincing as he rubbed lotions and ointments into her skin. The smell’s, however pleasant, started the nausea bubbling up inside of her and she jumped off of the raised bed, only just making it to the sink. She took a deep breath, rinsing her face and mouth of the vomit before facing the gentle eyes of the healer.
He scanned her quickly, finding that which he was looking for quickly. Years of experience had taught him well. Thank goodness. If there had been no union, her uncle would have killed the one responsible.
"Lesca, sit down my dear. Tell me, has anything interesting happened to you of late?" He trod carefully, choosing his words wisely.
"Yeah, my damn fool father went off to get himself killed by Sin. I set a stupid woman’s hair on fire." He watched the mutterings with despair. Perhaps I was wrong?
His heart lifted when he saw her face brighten, her voice take on the familiar energy again. "I met someone. We…were wed last month at the temple. His name’s Auron, he was a Warrior Monk. You’d never know it!" She looked at him earnestly before continuing.
"He’s a good man, kind and gentle. He was asked to marry the Maester’s daughter, but he refused so they threw him out of the order. I swear, vneaht, (friend) it must have been fate for us to meet!
"I am happy for you Lesca, and so will Cid be. That his favourite niece will be cared for after her father is gone…that will comfort him greatly."
She hung her head, "I miss Cid and Rikku and the others, but more than anything I want vydran (father) and Auron home."
"Your love will return to you, Lesca. Worry not. Now, how long have you been poorly?"
She frowned, "Just after Auron left. I thought it was because I was upset but when it wouldn’t go away after I picked up where I left off…"
The old man grinned, "This ailment doesn’t go away Lesca. Your mother had it too."
Her eyes widened in horror, "What? What’s wrong? How can I get better?"
The kindly Al Bhed hugged her, whispering in her ear, "You’re with child."
Lesca laughed hoarsely while the man watched on in confusion. You aren’t done testing me yet, are you? Fortune, you are a fickle mistress…
On dark and lonely days,
"Jecht, no! It is not a…"
Jecht swung his sword clumsily at the towering shoopuf, staggering from the effects of his liquid lunch. Auron watched in horror as the great beast reared on its hind legs, screeching in pain while the Hypello tried in vain to calm it.
"…Fiend." Auron finished weakly, burying his head in his hands. He dared a glance through his fingers to see an angry handler marching toward him. Braska groaned softly to his side and tried to smile.
"Your friend hurtsh de shoopuf! De shoopuf no move, ish imposhibibble!" The small blue being pointed an accusing finger at Braska.
"I apologise for his behaviour, it will not happen again. Please, we have some money, take it as our forfeit."
The Hypello looked at the money suspiciously before grabbing it with a grunt. He stalked off back to the other handlers leaving the two Guardians and the summoner alone.
"Hey guys, I’m sorry about that. It just looked so damn threatening ya know?"
Auron looked at the gentle creature in disbelief, pointing. "That is threatening to you? Yevon save us when you actually see something worth being threatened by!"
"Watch your tongue boy, you’re just all wound up because you ain’t heard from Lesca…" Jecht slurred, struggling to keep his balance as Auron pushed past him.
Damn drunk! No food, no money…I should have stayed with Lesca. That is where I want to be, not watching her father step closer to his death each day. You were right Lesca; to follow Yevon is a fool’s path.
He smiled, imagining that even in this dark hour he could hear her sweet voice teasing him, asserting that it was she who was right.
He snapped his head back, scowling as he met the gaze of Jecht. The older man scratched his head nervously and shifted uneasily on his feet.
"Look Auron, I’m sorry for the shoopuf, I’m givin up the sauce from this point on. And…" He hesitated, looking slightly abashed, "I’m sorry about the Lesca crack. It wasn’t fair. We have to try and put our differences aside, for Braska’s sake. He want’s this trip to be good for all of us, ya know? And we’re making it miserable with our gripin’. Let’s start fresh, ok?"
He held out a dirt-encrusted hand with his broad grin, Auron only just managing to not turn his nose up at the man. He will be a good friend to you Auron, I guarantee it. He smiled, remembering the words of his lover and shook the hand warmly.
As I said Lesca. For you, anything.
Lesca wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, grimacing as she wiped away the last of the sickness. Only last another week my ass…try four. Auron…
"Lescy? How much longer?" Yuna’s little voice tore her eyes from the inside of the toilet she knew so well. She grinned and sat with her back against the wall, patting the space beside her. The little girl nuzzled into her side, entwining her fingers in Lesca’s thick tresses, rubbing the silken locks to her face.
"I’ll be better soon, it just has to run its course, y’know?" I hope.
She felt the little head bob in acquiescence and she smiled. As much as I have cared for Yuna these past years, I never once saw myself becoming a mother. Then again, I never would have seen falling in love with a Yevonite and marrying at sixteen. Go figure. I wish you were here…the thoughts that plague my mind are those only you can purge.
She looked up sharply as a rap at the door disturbed her thoughts. Yuna nestled snugly into her side and she moved carefully so as not to disturb her. The home schooling must be tiring her out…great!
She rubbed a hand over her weary eyes, smoothing her hair down as she rushed to answer the incessant knocking.
"I’m coming, tysh ed! (damn it!)"
She flung open the door to find a strange man on the doorstep. Rain had slicked the flaxen locks to his scalp and he smiled at her wearily, shivering from the biting wind. She peered into the night, studying his face. Those eyes…
"Oui yna Al Bhed?" (You are Al Bhed?) Her voice was a guarded whisper, fearful that someone may overhear their converse.
"E ys. (I am.) May I come in? I bring news from Sir Auron…" He watched as the smile brightened her pale face and she dragged him inside. She grabbed a nearby towel, handing it to him while sitting him in front of the fire.
So much of her Mother in her…a child to make any father proud, a wife any man would be elated to call his own. A true daughter of the Al Bhed.
Rin looked at the woman tenderly, gratified to see some colour flood back into her translucent skin. She handed the stranger a warming drink and sat facing him with her back to the flickering fireplace. He strained to hear her soft words as she spoke to him.
"Please, forgive my manners. It has been some time since we have received guests, I never even caught your name." She blushed in embarrassment and he touched her hand lightly in understanding.
"Worry not, it is quite alright. My name is Rin, I knew your mother when she lived at Home with Cid. I have also recently met your father as he journeyed on his pilgrimage."
"It is an honour to meet you Rin. My name is…"
Rin laughed, "I know quite well who you are Lesca! You are your parent’s pride and your husbands joy."
The girl giggled, "Ah, so the infamous Lesca strikes again!" Rin looked baffled and she continued, "Long story. So how goes the pilgrimage? Are they all well?" She looked at him earnestly; her green eye’s taking on the shine that had dulled somewhat recently.
"It goes perfectly. I met the Summoner and his Guardians a month ago. I have been journeying to reach Bevelle since then, Sin has been particularly ferocious on the sea’s of late, delaying my return."
"They are well. My soul is soothed by that news somewhat. Where will they be now?" So concerned was she with the well being of her loved ones she closed her ears to tales of Rin’s arduous journey. He let it pass; knowing the worry that preyed on the young woman’s mind.
"By my estimations they will be well on their way to Lake Macalania"
"So close to Zanarkand, every step closer to death…" She hung her head listlessly.
"There may still be hope. I have something from Sir Auron for you…" He handed the sphere to her, watching her stare at the contraption dully. He switched the recording on, leaving the room to ensure her privacy.
She drew in a strangled breath as a grainy image of Auron appeared, formal at first, before lapsing into what lay behind the stiff exterior; the man she loved. She laughed through her tears of joy as Jecht invaded the recording, a peeved Auron trying to move him along. The sphere ended with a message of his love and a promise to return soon. She touched the cool surface delicately before securing it in the small pouch at her hip.
My soul is much revived by this…Ah, who am I trying to convince? Damn it, Auron! Save him and come home!
"Good news, I hope?"
She spun and graced Rin with her dazzling smile, "Wonderful, thank you. Rin, how can I repay you for this?"
He closed her hand around the little money she offered him; "You make us proud, that is payment enough. I had meant to relay a message back to Sir Auron if you had wished, but they will have already passed Djose." He shrugged apologetically.
"It’s ok. If you do see them though, tell my father I am proud of him and I love him. To my husband…just tell him he’d better keep his promise and that I love and miss him more than words can convey. Do you need a room for the night Rin?"
He shook his head, "Thank you for the kind offer, but I have lodgings in the city. Be well Lesca, fear not for them, they will prevail."
That’s what I’m afraid of…
"…know that your father is proud of you Yuna, whatever path you choose."
Braska shut off the recording, setting the sphere down in the gathering flakes of snow gently. He turned to see Auron and Jecht talking quietly, most likely about the trials that lay ahead. He sighed, brushing some of the snow from his robes as he walked over to the Guardians. Auron was, as always, the first to notice his appearance.
"You are ready, my Lord?" He looked over curiously at the abandoned sphere, "My Lord, the sphere?"
"It is to stay there, Auron. For my daughter. Come, let us press ahead. Zanarkand is just a little way now." He pressed on, leaving Jecht and Auron to follow his lead.
"So, you think that I’ll be home now? I gotta tell ya Auron, I’m going to see this through to the end, no matter if this is my Zanarkand or not. I owe it to you and Braska, you’ve been the best friends a guy like me could ask for."
Auron shrugged uncertainly, "I do not know, Jecht. We would be honoured for you to join us though."
"So what happens during the final summoning then?"
Auron hesitated for a split second, but it was enough for Jecht to pick up on. "What’re you not telling me?" The man growled.
"The Final Aeon, the summoning…it will kill him. Braska is going to die."
"Why didn’t you tell me?" Jecht’s voice was uncharacteristically quiet; "There’s nothing that can be done?"
Auron shook his head while Jecht slapped a hand to his forehead, "Damn it! Lesca! She knew about this, that’s why she didn’t want him to go? And I said I’d bring him home safe. I’m such a fucking fool."
"You weren’t to know, my friend. She harbours no ill will." Braska interrupted him.
"Why Braska? Why commit suicide, you got kids to think of for heavens sake!" Jecht pleaded with him desperately, disappointed when Braska pointed toward the heavens.
"I want to be there with my wife. My daughters will be fine without me, they have Auron. Life is a meaningless charade without my wife Jecht. I have to go to her."
"You’re still gonna do it whatever we say, aren’t ya?" The blitzer’s powerful shoulders slumped, defeated as Braska nodded.
"Well then, you have to go out with a bang! We’ll have a blast in Zanarkand before we head to the trials!"
Auron knew Jecht realised the futility of his words, he knew his Zanarkand wasn’t just around the corner. Let him dream a little longer…we all deserve to dream.
Lesca, I…I have not surrendered my hope, not yet. We will know in hours what the future holds for Braska; life or death. I will do all in my power to ensure it is the former.
The three men stepped squinting into the morning sun, the humid air warming their bones, still chilled from the peaks of Gagazet.
Jecht held a hand to shield his eyes from the glare, scanning the horizon for his Zanarkand. As the ruins of his home came into focus he dropped to his knees, shock draining his strength. Auron rushed to his side, concern for his friend outweighing his own curiosity.
"This, this can’t be…rubble. All that’s left is rubble." He looked up to Auron, clinging on to his leg. "This is not my Zanarkand. I’m never goin’ home, am I?"
Auron placed a tentative hand on the distraught mans shoulder, "There is always hope, we will find a way to get you home Jecht. I promise."
Jecht rose to his feet, patting the youth lightly on the back. He walked to Braska and grinned weakly. "Come on then, Braska! Let’s go get you that damn Aeon you’ve been whinin’ for!"
Braska followed the man; Jecht certainly looked comfortable enough navigating, and turned to Auron.
"You told him the outcome of the final summoning?"
"Good. I…don’t think I could. Not now."
Auron caught the summoner’s shoulder as he turned, pleading. "Lord Braska, please reconsider. Think of Lesca, think of Yuna! They need you!"
Braska smiled, "They need you, my young friend. It has been a pleasure and an honour having a worthy Guardian such as you on my pilgrimage. I am proud to call you son. Take care of them for me, though I know I need not ask."
Braska set off after Jecht, leaving Auron to ponder his options.
Mere hours to change the fate of one man, but still I must try. Not just for Lesca, but for my friends. I have been told one man alone can change the course of history…well, I do not require to change history, only fate. Surely that cannot be too laborious in comparison? For you, my love…