"How long was I out?" She asked, her voice wraspy.
"Late afternoon to the late morning, don't worry about it," he said getting up and streatching. "How are you feeling?" She stayed silent for a moment, looking around to find herself alone with the older man.
"Like shit warmed over."
Josh had awoken and gotten Lindsey up, dressed and equipped long before that. They stood at the entrance to Kilika forest waiting for Belgamine to come to them. When she finally appeared, it was sun-up.
"Good of you to come! Now, show me what you know so far," she said, voice brimming with quiet, but genuine enthusiasm.
Josh timidly summoned his only aeon, the massive bird from Besaid. "Ah, you have forged yourself first with the Besaid Aeon known as Valefor..." she said, "And it seems you two have a bond stronger than steel! Now tell me, what all do you know about what a summoner is and does?"
Josh explained to her, only displaying knowledge of aeons, fayths, temples, guardians and the purpose of defeating Sin and bringing the Calm. Belgamine was troubled by this lack of experience, but she went on to teach him white magics, training him in the arts and even having Lindsey fight fiends until she could no longer stand so that Josh could practice his healing magic on her.
"Very good. You're doing well. You learn very fast!" Belgamine said, praising him. He smiled timidly, happy about his apparent progress. He could heal her full in a single round without fainting, the energy it took to cast a single spell at first taking an awful toll on his body. But now that he was a tad stronger, he could manage it and still be strong.
"Alright then, you know the basics of being a summoner..." She said, "And I think you're ready to go now to the Kilika temple. Be wary of the fiends here, though... I still have much to teach you, but it will have to wait until you're stronger. We'll meet again, Lord and Guardian." She departed with a smile, heading off towards the Kilika docks.
Noodles helped Demi up and got her her pack as Dexter came back with breakfast. "Josh and Lindsey are at the Kilika forest training," he said handing them each their food. Noodles nodded as Demi ate her food in silence. Dexter looked between the two, knowing what Noodles was thinking. 20 some odd years of friendship will do that to you. "I'm gonna go see how they're doing and whatnotness," he pulled his claws on and left.
"You're stupid you know that?" Noodles said picking up his gi, clean from a morning of scrubbing.
"Huh?" Demi blinked at him.
"You're a stupid kid, that makes stupid mistakes. So is your friend," he sighed. "Get over it and move on so we can all get home." Slipping his clothes on and fastening them, he looked at her. "Look I know it sucks, you will always have a time where it sucks. Just let the people that matter in and you'll be fine." Demi stared at him for a moment before nodding. "Appologize to Lindsey and Josh, don't get riled up and start mouthing again. Just bite your tongue and move on. If it gets to be too much, talk to me, yell at me, scream at me, hell even hit me. Just make it through till home."
"Wait, please," Lindsey pleaded breathlessly, "..Can I just rest a sec? Please? I know it's cool and all that you can heal now.. but... I don't know if I can take much more of this..." She was on the ground, on her butt with feet and hands planted against the soil underneath. She was tilted back, elbows locked and knees bent. Josh grinned at her playfully, "Had enough already? We haven't even started off for the temple yet!"
"That's because we've been fighting all the monsters at the entrance!" she snapped at him before falling back, "Ahh.. I'm tired... and smelly... I need a bath... ..You think they'll mind if I took a bath in the creek here?"
Josh blinked at her, "Um... I don't know. I don't think so, as long as you keep yourself hidden..."
"..Okay.. I'm going to wash up then," Lindsey said as she eased herself up and walked to the water at the western edge of the forest. Josh followed her, guarding as a man, rather than a summoner, as she stripped down and got in and started to wash herself as discreetly as she could.
Demi had healed with another potion after eating. Hauling her pack up, Noodles followed her down to where Dexter was playing checkers with an old man, loosing badly. The two watched in amusement as Dexter handed over the gil he lost and smiled sheepishly. "Uh hey guys, uh. . . Ready?" He asked jumping up following them out.
"Stay between me and Dexter kid," Noodles said, keeping her close as the older blonde took his place on her other side. Keeping her eyes low on the ground and close to the two men, they made it out of the port fine.
"My name's Demi," she said once they had started on the trail. Noodles smiled down at her and nodded.
"Demi. . . Nice to meet you," he held out his hand. "I'm Noodles." Smiling she took it and gave it a firm shake.
"I'm Dexter, pleasure," he beamed at her shaking her hand as well.
Lindsey softly hummed as she washed herself, happy to be clean. Josh had his back to her, not wanting to just watch her as she washed herself up. She was partly obscured by leaves and ferns and foliage anyway. He sat there, new pole that he got on the way to the forest resting over his crossed legs. He sat there silently... meditating.
Demi, Noodles, and Dexter were coming up on the forest, keeping an eye out for Josh and Lindsey and fiends. "There," Noodles nodded as they headed up the hill towards the meditating summoner. The only sound coming from them was teh crunching of their boots as they got closer to Josh.
Josh cracked an eye open, catching sight of the trio. He wasn't too pleased to see them, but he didn't meet them with aggression, "Good morning."
"Good morning," Noodles nodded as Demi kept her eyes down. Nudging her forward, she narrowed her eyes at him as he just smiled back at her.
"I want. . . I want to say I'm sorry. . . To both you and Lindsey. For the things I've said," Demi said softly gripping her pack tightly.
Josh looked up at Demi before putting on a weary smile, "Apology accepted... Though.. Lindsey isn't here really.. she's taking a quick bath right now.. I'm happy you're doing better. You were pretty banged up last night..."
"Yeah," she said stepping back, bumping into Noodles, who only chuckled.
"Josh, ask Demi to be your guardian," he said giving the younger man a knowing smile.
Josh looked up at him, unsure. "Josh, who're you talking to?" Lindsey called from the underbrush. "Do I need to hide? I'm drying off now."
"Uhr.." Josh stood up, "..I'll be right back..."
He wasn't sure. He knew what he saw and what Belgamine told him and he retreated back behind the brush to help Lindsey, who had towels wrapped around her. Looking up at him, sopping wet, she asked, "Who was that?"
He grabbed her underclothes and helped her slip them on over the towels, "..Them.. from the hotel.. Dexter.. Noodles and Demi..."
"...oh..." Lindsey said in a hushed voice.
Demi stared at the ground hard, digging at it with the toe of her boot. She felt like crap and just wanted to go home. That was it, was it so much to ask for? "Stop fidgeting," Dexter sighed as he pulled her close to keep her still. Blinking at the affection, kind of affection, she was recieving from one of the few men that she admired greatly was something new. Without giving it much thought, she snuggled into his embrace and stayed still. Like a child hiding behind a parent.
"They want me to ask her to be my guardian..." he said as he helped buckle and tighten her harness as she got everything on and fastened. She was silent for a while, gently brushing him off so that she could put everything else on. "...Do what you think is best. You're the summoner. I'll protect you no matter what," she said, "...It's my duty as your guardian." He nodded and sighed deeply before taking her hand and walking back from the edge of the oasis.
Lindsey didn't look at any of them, just as timid as Demi was. She had her arms folded over her chest though, wet strands of her hair dangling freely like dredlocks over her face. She had her head tilted down slightly, eyes on the ground and to the side. Josh looked at Demi carefully before asking quietly, "Demi, I would like you to be my guardian... Do you accept?"
Looking up, her swirled eyes blinked. She game him a hint of a smile, nodding. "I accept." It was Dexter's turn this time to nudge the younger girl forward. "Lindsey. . . I'm sorry for what I've said and done. I've apologized to Josh and he accepted. . . I really am sorry." Noodles gave Josh a smile and tilt of his head, trying to get him to get Lindsey to say something.
Lindsey didn't want to reply, but Josh looked at her pleadingly and she sighed, letting her arms drop down to her sides. She looked up at Demi, a weak warmth in her eyes, "...It's ok." Even though it wasn't. She just had to grit her teeth and bare it until she forgot about it.
Demi nodded taking her place back by Noodles and Dexter. "When are you going to the temple?" Noodles asked, cutting to the chase. It was the only way they would get home, the fighting between them wouldn't keep them from doing that. He already made a promise with Dexter they'd make it work.
"Now," Josh said, "Now that Lindsey's clean. We're ready to go."
"Just one problem..." Lindsey said as she walked past them and headed to the main road. Before them was a bridge where Crusaders Luzzu and Gatta stood, eyeing a massive sleeping plant with long tentacle arms resided, blocking the path. "We have to get through that... and if I recall correctly, he's not to be taken lightly."
"I've got fire arrows," Demi nodded, patting her quiver.
"Have any of you learned black magic yet?" Dexter asked as he put on his claws.
"No.. nobody here is really the black-mage type... But if nobody else wants to take it up, I guess I could..." Lindsey said quietly. She looked up at the Crusaders, who were fussing about on how to defeat the massive Ochu. "If I work hard, maybe I can..."
"You can do it," Demi said quietly. "Remember. . . When the VCR was on the fritz? You were so determined to fix it you took it apart and learned to read Japanese just to put it back together? It may have taken you a month, but you did it." Noodles withheld a chuckled as he eyed the other girl.
"A whole month?" Dexter blinked.
Lindsey nodded silently before walking up to the bridge and the Crusaders, "..Let's give it a try. I can work on learning black magic on our way up to the temple."
Josh nodded gently and followed behind her.
Demi bit her lip, trying to think of how to hide her eyes without here shades. They had broken the day before in the scuffel and now she wasn't sure what to do. Getting closer to the crusaders, she simply ducked behind Noodles and Dexter, guardians acting as guardians to a guardian. Hoping to keep the interaction between her and them as little as possible.
Noodles chuckled softly as he felt Demi whip behind him as they came up to the crusaders.
Luzzu and Gatta turned to the approaching group. Gatta rushed first, inexperienced though working hard. It was clear he was working to impress, "Company halt!"
Luzzu had caught sight of Demi and the thought occured to him, "Oh?"
Lindsey put a finger to her lips, looking at him, "Shh."
"Oh!" Luzzu nodded in understanding, "Good day guardians. If you're here to head to the temple I'm going to have to ask you to go back and take a different route. As you can see, the Lord Ochu is proving to be a bit of a problem.
"We're trying to figure out a strategy to defeat it," Gatta cut in, his body language giving off hints of searching for the hidden Al Bhed. She was pretty, and with every glimpse he caught of her, he stiffened back to attention.
Demi poked her head out, meeting Gatta's gaze before ducking back behind Noodles. 'Oh great, this is gonna be fun,' she thought. Trying to remain as out of the picture as possible, she kept her place behind Noodles. Though she wasn't oblivious to his shaking body, holding in his laughter. "I'm sure we'll be able to cut through him," he spoke up.
"Our friend here as fire weapons, I'm sure we'll be fine to take him on," Dexter said jerking Demi out in the open, holding her close so she couldn't get away. Looking up at the two crusaders, she blushed and smiled sheepishly.
"Heh heh he," she let out a nervous laugh. "Yeah, fire arrows."
Gatta jumped back, just as nervous. He stiffened into a salute, dark face blushing, "S-Sir!"
"Stand down, Gatta. This isn't exactly a commando operation," Luzzu said endearingly, "Alright, we'll let you pass. But be warned, discretion is the better part of valor."
Lindsey nodded, "We'll keep that in mind."
Gatta jumped back in front of Demi and bowed shakily to her, "G-Good luck..!!"
Demi stared at him wide eyed for a moment, looking over at the others as they went on and back to Gatta. "Uh. . . Thanks. . . I think," she said bowing back a bit. She shook her head slightly as she ran off to catch up with the others. "Thanks Dexter I really appriciate your help back there," she narrowed her eyes at the tall blond. He just smiled and chuckled.
"Just doing my civic duty," he smirked.
"I really hope I don't have to see him again, that was kind of creepy," Demi sighed as they got up to the plant.
"He likes you," Josh said with a chuckle.
"Okay, focus..." Lindsey said as she drew her swords. "Josh, stand back and do what you do best. We'll whittle it down and you summon Valefor for the killing blow."
Josh nodded, "Okay."
She looked over at Demi, "Demi, wake it up with your fire arrows."
"Can do mon capitan," Demi said pulling her arrows back, saying a few words and waiting till the lengths of wood were ablaze before she let them fly at the plant thing. With a roar and slightly rumble the Lord Ochu was awake.
"Watch out for its tentacles!" Lindsey shouted as she ran off to its right flank, "If they hit, they inflict poison! Josh, when someone get's hit by those tentacles, toss them an Esuna spell!"
Lord Ochu sprang up, bouncing itself up and whipping its long tentacle plant arms towards Demi, one tentacle blocked by Lindsey's blades. "Garh..." she grunted with effort at dispelling the lengthy limb.
Demi drew back another fire arrow, releasing it as she jumped back, letting Noodles take her place with his katana drawn. "Dexter! Left flank, he's not as guarded there!" He shouted at his friend who quickly came in for a few hits before jumping up and out of the way of a limb. Noodles took his turn, easily slicing off a limb and letting the pyreflies rise up. "Lindsey! Take the limb to my right! It's weaker now!" He ordered as Dexter went in for another attack.
Lindsey watched as the limbs dispersed into pyreflies with each powerful strike Noodles made, "Damn, why couldn't they do that in the actual game?" Lindsey raced forward from her standpoint, cutting clean a tentacle from the Ochu's body. It made high pitched, raspy sounds of pain when hit, but rather than striking at them, its body dipped and started to shake and swirl and jiggle.
Clouds of pollen flowed from its body, inflicting upon the three up-front guardians with blindness, poison and silence, "Ach!" Lindsey dropped to a knee, "Josh..! Esuna us..! Quickly!"
"Ahh got it!" Josh nervously jumped forward and began casting Esuna onto Lindsey before going to Noodles and Dexter.
Demi watched as the others quickly got back up, Dexter still a bit gone though. "Dexter! Change with Demi!" Noodles barked as he struck one of the last limbs off. Nodding, he jumped back and let the younger blonde jump up front, releasing several more fire arrows, taking the last limb off. Noodles swept in with another blow, the plant fiend almost done. "Lindsey! Finish him!"
Lindsey nodded and lunged forward, "Enough!" and cut the massive thing down. Before it fell, it bumped her back before launching itself into the air and landed back down hard, causing the earth beneath them to quake and roll before it died, its pyreflies flying from its whithering body into the air.
"Ahh!" Lindsey cried as she stumbled and fell, flinching as she hit hard shards jutting up from the ground because of the monster's earth-shattering quake ability.
"Linds!" Demi cried rushing over. "You. . . Ok?" She asked helping the other girl.
"Here's a potion," Noodles said, handing one off Demi. "Dexter," he turned to his fellow guardian. "Here," he smirked at him, handing him a potion as well.
"Don't even begin to start," Dexter grumbled.
"Ow..." Lindsey groaned, holding onto Demi as she helped her up, "Thanks... I'm sure it's nothing but a bruise..." Josh came over and started to unfasten Lindsey's harness.
"Hey--wait! What are you doing?" Lindsey blinked, "You don't have to take it off!"
"I know. But I want to. You look like you hit hard. I just want to be thorough," he said as he slipped his hand to her side under her undershirt, reddened from the bleeding capillaries underneath. He pressed his fingers against her skin, hand glowing as he concentrated, mending the capillaries within before withdrawing his hand as the glow slowly died out.
"Ayaah... that hurts..." Lindsey whimpered.
Demi bit her lip to keep from saying anything as she got up and handed the potion back to Noodles. "Seems we won't be needing this," she said, trying to keep her grin and chuckled to herself. "Excuse me, I think I have to visit the little girls bushes," she quickly ducked behind the bushes, knowing it wouldn't help, but it made her feel better as she let out a wild cackle, shaking the bushes as she fell over holding her sides as tears crept up and ran down her face. Calming down she came back out of the bushes, a few leaves and twigs lodged into her hair and armor.
Lindsey rolled her eyes, "Yes, yes, very funny." She looked at Josh after fixing her harness, "Never do that in public again." Josh blushed and scratched the back of his hair, "..that wasn't my intention..! Sorry.."
Luzzu laughed as he approached, Gatta having run off after Demi, "Good show, skilled guardians. I'm sure you'll beat Sin in no time."
Lindsey smiled and bowed to Luzzu, "Thanks for your vote of confidence."
Gatta approached Demi elsewhere, watching her shake and make sounds that sounded like.. she was crying? And the tears! He leaped forward, "My Lady Guardian! A-are you alright!? Did that foul beast harm you!?"
Demi stopped her laughing immediatly, wipping her face quickly of the stray tears. "No, I'm fine," she gave him a smile, hoping one of the others would cut in soon. Noodles just stood back hiding his smirk, watching the two. "Really I am," she pushed, trying to walk over to her group stumbling at bit.
Leaning over a bit, Noodles softly said to Lindsey, "She's getting tortured, don't you think?" He chuckled.
Lindsey shook her head and shrugged her arms, "I'll go save her..." She walked towards Demi and Gatta, as well as Luzzu, who did cut in before her, "At attention, Crusader!"
Gatta immediately froze, "Sir!"
Lindsey tapped Demi's shoulder, "Come on, let's head on to the temple.
Gatta turned to Demi, "Ahh... Good luck on getting to the temple. Safe travels, Lady Guardian!" He gave her a salute before running back and going to his assigned post. Luzzu shook his head a little and sighed before nodding to Lindsey and the others, "Safe travels."
"You too," Josh said, waving as they left.
As soon as Luzzu and Gatta were out of ear shot and eye sight, Demi clung to Lindsey. "Oh thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Noodles chuckled as he turned to Josh.
"Let's go before Romeo comes back for his Juliet," he smiled as Dexter endured a tongue lashing from Demi. "Oh what flower she is," he eyed her for a moment before leading the way.
"Every rose has its thorns, boys," Lindsey said as she walked past them, holding Demi's hand and pulling her along. "Let's go, gotta cut through this forest before getting to the stone steps."
Demi settled down and continued the pace besides Lindsey, up away from the others a bit. "I really am sorry about that way I've been acting," she said finally. "It's just how I get when I'm scared or upset, you know?"
"Just forget about it," Lindsey said quietly, not wanting to think about it. She sighed as she brought up the sphere grid, "All I know right now is that... I know nothing about magic..."
"Would a few spheres help?" Demi asked digging in her pack and pulling out several spheres. She wore a grin as she held them out to Lindsey.
"You like her," Noodles said calmly and quietly to Josh. "Lindsey I mean." He and Josh were taking up the rear with Dexter in the middle.
"..I don't know.. why do you say that? I don't know her enough to ..like her.. like that I mean," Josh said, glancing up at the taller man.
"Probably.. but I don't know how I would cast the spells..." Lindsey said softly.
"Josh," Noodles chuckled. "It's not hard to see. Seriously, with the harness and you pretty much stick your hands down her shirt. Besides, I didn't say you loved her, just liked."
"Throw them? I mean what do you have to do to cast a spell? Like just go 'thunder!' and it happens, right?" Demi said mulling this over. "Should we get you a moogle or a catar?"
"Oh please, healing her side doesn't mean I like her like that," he said, walking ahead.
"..I'll figure out my own way of casting it... I don't think it works like that, no.." Lindsey sighed and shook her head.
Noodles chuckled, "He likes her." Catching up with Dexter easily, they fell into a comfortable silence.
"If you need help, I'm here, k?" Demi said smiling at her friend. "I feel kind of bad for Dexter though. . ." She trailed off looking back over her shoulder at the two in the back.
"What's to feel bad about?" Lindsey asked, "He's going home too."
"Yeah. . . But like right now, he's kind of just there. Like when I took his place in the fight," Demi sighed. "I don't know." She shook her head, waving the thoughts away. "So how hard is the temple we're coming up to?"
"It's easysauce," Lindsey said as they approached the stone steps. "Not too debilitating... Here we are, gents. The stone steps of High Summoner Oholland. He used to train on these steps for Blitzball."
"I kind of miss that sport now, maybe when we get home I could see if I could still swim like I can here," Demi smiled as they started up the steps. "Ready to get another aeon Josh?" She asked smiling at him
"Yeah... I think I'm ready," he said quietly as he looked on up at the steps. He continued upward, climbing the steps and followed close behind by Lindsey. She stopped short as he continued on, "...There's something funny in the air... everyone keep on your guard."
Nodding and putting her hands on her knives, Demi stayed close to the group. Noodles walked with the air of a seasoned warrior as he walked down the stone corridors, his eyes alert. Dexter took the left side of Josh as Lindsey led the way with Demi on his right and Noodles bringing up the rear. "Everything looking ok?" He asked, not liking the silence.
As they made it up the few flights of steps to the first platform, screams of villagers were heard as they fled the area, running past them from a massive shell and two giant arms with tentacle appendages stalking across from the body, "Sinspawn!"
"I had a feeling there'd be one here..." Lindsey said as she rushed forward. "We'll have to take out its arms first!"
"Right, Dexter you go right! Lindsey left! I'll go up the middle and Demi stay back to guard Josh till we need to him to summon!" Noodles said, striking first and landing a solid hit. Demi did as she was told, drawing out her daggers and giving them a spin before standing guard for Josh.
The massive shell cracked a little and heaved a deep sigh, green gases flowing out from its mouth and causing damage to the party. "..The gases don't seem to do anything! Just take out its arms and we'll have Valefor do the rest!" Lindsey swerved to the side in a dash, running towards an arm and slicing at it before jumping back to avoid getting whipped by its appendages.
Noodles rushed it, narrowly missing getting his by antoher appendage as he took one out. "Dexter! Up and center!" Dexter charged it, jumping over Noodles's shoulders delivering several blows taking another one out. "Just a few more, keep it up!" Noodles cheered them on.
Lindsey sprinted again, finishing one massive arm off with a, "Yah!" The massive shell cracked open and sighed again softly, the gases doing their stuff before Lindsey dashed to cut the shell, her blade bouncing off the steel armor, "Ah! My blades aren't doing it!"
"Josh! You're up!" Noodles said jumping out of the way so the summoner could get the aeon they needed. Stepping back next to Demi, he flashed her a smile before continuing to watch the fight.
Josh nodded as he stepped up, Lindsey dashing out of the makeshift arena as he summoned, Valefor appearing out of the skies and landing at Josh's side. He stood back behind her as she leapt back up into the sky, ready to fight. She started off by casting fire spells on the shell, enticing it to open so the Sinspawn could emerge and show itself. It had long arms of its own with tentacle-like fingers, which whipped at Valefor but were easily evaded as she began an assault of physical attacks and fire magic.
"Think he can do it?" Demi asked Noodles quietly as they watched. The older guardian simply nodded.
"He can do it, no doubts," he said keeping his eyes on Josh.
With another slap from the tentacles, Valefor drooped in the sky with growing weakness. Raising her head, she gave a vicious flap of her wings, flipping up further into the sky. She wedged her head between her inwardly fanning wings, shaking her head and flipping it before opening her beak and a cosmic wheel forming before her. It began to spin as rays of energy flew and doused the Sinspawn. It died in a spasm and exploded into a ball of pyreflies.
Josh smiled up at the big girl as she landed on the ground and turned to brush her head against his. 'Thank you,' he mouthed, petting her neck.
"We should get going," Noodles said as Josh dismissed his aeon. "There's still trials ahead." Sheathing his sword, he lead the way into the temple. Dexter adjusted his claws as he followed, keeping Josh close.
Lindsey ran forward, leaping up the steps, eager to get to the temple. Getting up to the top, she stretched her arms and legs, arching her back before bolting into the temple.
Josh watched her run ahead, and bit his lip a little. He wanted to run ahead too, but didn't know if he should wait with the rest of his guardians or not...
"Go ahead, we'll keep up," Noodles nudged the younger man on. Demi smiled to herself, happy that her friend was getting this reaction from the one formerly known as 'Opera Boy.'
Josh looked back at Noodles before nodding slowly, hiding a grin as he turned his head back around and bolted up the steps after his guardian, "Wait for me!"
Demi giggled as she watched them. "They would have cute babies," she commented. Noodles gave her a bemused look and chuckled himself.
"So it would seem," he gave her a smile and ruffled her hair. Dexter smiled at the two, deciding to take it upon himself to get this group together, one way or another.
Lindsey looked up as Josh caught up with her. He looked up at the temple, almost white from being bleached by the sun. "Whoa," he said quietly, staring at balls of flickering fire cracled by glass like windows along the temple walls. "It's cool isn't it," Lindsey said as she continued over the underground cauldron of fire in the middle of the central walkway. "Yeah," he said as he followed her, eyes up on the massive temple. "Neat."
"A newling summoner?" Priests and temple-goers said among themselves and half to Josh. Josh looked back at the commoners and clergyfolk before smiling, waving and performing the prayer.
Demi and the others were right behind them, making the sign of the prayer as well. Taking her place at the back of the group, Demi kept her eyes down and let the other's do the talking. Noodles kept silent as he crossed his arms and looked around. Dexter how ever, kept slowly but surely nudging Demi next to Noodles.
Lindsey lead them into the temple, no one here would ever think of attacking anyone apart of this powerful looking summoner party. The entrance to the temple wasn't guarded, which was good for Demi's sake. In the temple, Lindsey headed up to the entrance to the trials. The priest looked over them, "Are you prepared?"
Lindsey nodded, with Josh behind her, "Yes. Let us through."
Demi stayed close to Noodles and Dexter, keeping her face hidden between them and behind Josh and Lindsey. Noodles put a reassuring hand on her shoulder as they went on to the trials. "What aeon is Josh suppose to get here Linds?" She asked as they walked through to the chamber.
The priest let them through, paying no attention to the small Al Bhed girl in their group. They were then on a small elevator which took them down. When they were in the hallway leading to the Cloister of Trials, she replied, "The fire beast, Ifrit. These trials are pretty simple. Just burn down the doors with the Kilika spheres and disable the wall of fire that blocks us from reaching the Chamber."
"Then Josh goes in a prays, ya?" Demi asked making sure. Noodles nodded as Dexter stood quietly next to him and Josh. "So maybe we could keep a few spheres to help you learn black magic?" She asked thinking as her hand felt the familier stickiness.
"No," Lindsey sighed, "These spheres are for the temples only. They won't have any effect on me or the Sphere Grid..." She walked forward to the tall double doors leading to the Cloister, "Okay... let's do it."
"Ok," Demi shrugged as she followed behind Josh, infront of Dexter and Noodles. Dexter looked around, making sure that Noodles was behind Demi. So far he still had to plan, but that would be easy enough.
Lindsey went on ahead, working the Kilika spheres and taking down the first door before moving onto the second area, setting the sphere down on a pedestal before taking another sphere in that room and taking down the second door.
Josh looked up and around as he followed Lindsey, "..Strange, I figured it'd be hot in here..."
"Me too," Demi said as she looked around, taking everything in. "Hey Lindsey, maybe you could use element spheres to learn how to use black magic. I mean we usually get them after defeating a fiend."
"Ability spheres teach the spells themselves. I just have to figure out how to cast them myself," she said as she pushed the pedestial into the third and final room, the lower platform ablaze in a thick wall of fire, "Let's just focus on putting this out first and getting Josh his new Aeon."
"KK," Demi nodded as she took a seat in the room. She watched as It was Josh's turn to do the work for his aeon. Taking a seat next to her, Dexter watched from her point of view while Noodles remained standing with Lindsey.
Josh followed them in, grabbing the Kilika sphere set aside and putting it on the pedestal. Lindsey pushed it then onto a glowing dot placed on an extra box area overhanging the edge of the platform. The pedestal then merged with the ground and lowered, the flames on the lower platform disappearing as its power line was cut off. "Great," Lindsey said as she jumped down from the edge, whereas Josh just took the stairs. She grabbed the remaining Kilika sphere and headed up a second staircase to the final door and took it out with the sphere. With the door gone, she stepped aside and let Josh go in first before following him up.
Noodles followed along with Josh, letting the other two stay guard here. Dexter leaned back on his hands as he turned back to the entrance while Demi stayed and watched the final door way. "So,"he said as he stretched out his legs, his shorts riding up a bit. "I was thinking, you wanna help me get Josh and Lindsey together?" He grinned at her. Demi was silent for a moment, blinking a few times, an old familier mishcevious grin spread across her face.
"You lead, I'll follow," she said, her face alight.
Coming up into the room before the Chamber itself, Lindsey looked up at the statues and ornaments along the walls. The Fayth's voice rang clearly as it sang the Hymn. "Just right in there..." she said half-mindedly as she pointed to the arrow-head shaped door. Josh nodded and headed in, the door raising up and then lowering after he entered. Lindsey stayed out there and sighed peacefully, "This song is so beautiful."
"It is," Noodles nodded. "When I was watching the game, this was one of the things that struck me. I may prefer loud, brash, punk music, but I do enjoy chilling out and listening to a few other things." Standing still and with his arms crossed, he watched the door where Josh had entered. "I have it on my computer at home. If I just need a moment to myself, I take my lapt top outside to my garden and play it out there. Just sitting in the cool grass surrounded by my plants while that music plays, it's soothng even when it's practically hell on earth."
Lindsey sat down near the door, holding her knees to her chest, "Now you're making me homesick." She quieted and looked down at her dark shoes. "...I remember listening to The Offspring when I was little... Those were some fun times..." she reminisced openly. Those fun times were good, if you cut out all the teen angst and suicidal thoughts.
"Oh?" He smiled down at her. "Glad to know we have a fan in company," he chuckled.
"Are you sure this will work?" Demi said, knowing if it didn't she would be fed to Sin piece by piece.
"Positive, you just have to follow my lead," Dexter nodded. Oh boy was Demi in for it now. If Dexter played his cards right, Josh and Lindsey would be helping him get her and Noodles together.
"Well... I was.. but times change I guess... my parents never let me get any new albums.. so I ended up just having to do with what I had. My iPod is lagging about 5 years or so..." she said softly, looking over at the door to the Chamber of the Fayth, "..I hope he's okay in there."
"I'm sure he is," Noodles said following her gaze. "Tell me about Demi, if you don't mind." He was intrigued by the young Al Bhed.
"She's crazy," Lindsey said quietly, "She's loud. She's childish... She's unpredictable... She's creative... Good nature'd... Warm... Do I need to go on?"
"No," Noodles chuckled. "Were you two. . . together when you came here, to this world?" He asked, he was curious about the two girls and wanted to know about them. After all, they were going to be together for a while.
"Yeah.. we're roommates. We got sucked in together. Been here for like.. 3ish months. Maybe a little longer than that. She likes The Offspring too. More so than I. We're obviously not rabid fans, I guess..." she said.
"I think I can disearn a rabid fan from a regular one. Usually by now I've been molested or had someone attempt to rape me, kind of like our summoner's fan," he nodded to the door.
"I guess..." she sighed softly and stood up, trying to remain calm. Failure to do so would result in Josh's excommunication from the temples. She bit lightly on her bottom lip and wrapped her arms around herself, watching the chamber door.
"He'll be fine," Noodles reassured her. "He may be inexperienced, but he has the makings. Remember Yuna took a day when she was in Besaid."
Lindsey sighed a shuddered breath, resting her back against the wall, "..I know... ..Hey, why are Demi and Dexter not... in here? Are they waiting outside?"
"They're outside waiting," Noodles nodded. "Keeping guard so to speak," he said with a hint of a smile.
"..I see..." Lindsey said softly, looking down at the floor. She was startled from her space, hearing the door open and seeing Josh slowly stumble out, face pale and forehead beaded with sweat. She rushed forward, catching him as he started to fall.
Noodles looked at Josh with concern. "You're still here with us and not the Farplane, so I suspect that you found your aeon." Walking over and helping Lindsey carry the weak man down the steps and settle to the ground. "Here," he said helping Josh sip a potion. "Better?"
Josh nodded, holding onto Lindsey as he slowly regained his strength, "..Gaining an aeon isn't all it's cracked up to be... Let's go rest somewhere..."
Lindsey nodded, "We'll go back to the hotel. We will embark on the ferry to Luca tomorrow morning." She released Josh, letting him stand on his own. He put a hand on her shoulder for support, relying on her before he was confident enough to walk without fear of falling over.
"Did he get the aeon?" Demi jumped up with Dexter as the others came in. She was excited to put Dexter's plane into action.
"Yep. Let's head back to the hotel so he can rest... We'll go to Luca tomorrow morning," Lindsey said as she helped Josh down the stairs and through the Cloister, "And we need to get Demi some new goggles. And she's not going to break this new pair."
"Wasn't my fault that the last pair got broke," she grumbled, her happy mood going sour for a moment. Noodles came up, as Dexter fell back to help with Josh if needed. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he ruffled her hair in an affectionet manner.
"I'll make sure they won't get broken again," he assured her.
The party exited the temple and headed back to the inn, Lindsey helping Josh sit down on a bed. She sat down on the same bed, taking off her sune-ate and kote, running her hands over her legs and feet. "I could use a nap myself," she said softly as she stretched her toes.
"I'll take Demi to get some goggles," Noodles said, leading the younger blond out. Dext took the extra bed, stripping his shoes and socks off. Shirking his vest off, his bare chest exposed, he laid down on the bed with his arms behind his head as he started to take a nap.
Lindsey got up from the bed, "I guess I'll do the same..." she said, referring to Dexter laying down. She went onto the other free bed, "I doubt anyone will be using this while they're out... She took off her haidate and harness and laid down on the free bed, curling up onto her side and closing her eyes. Josh watched her, looking away when she undressed. He took off his doublet and laid back as well, closing his eyes and breathing deeply.
Noodles and Demi took their time looking for the right pair of goggles for her, more to spend time out of the hotel than anything. "So, tell me about Lindsey," Noodles asked.
"She's methodical. She keeps everything neat, a bit OCDish, calm, collective, doesn't panic. Control freak, but I love her just the same," Demi sighed. "She's kind of a mom type of person, if you get what I mean."
"I do," Noodles nodded as she tried on a pair of shades, getting his approval. "So I heard you're an Offspring fan," he chuckled as she blanched.
"Oh, uh heh, heh. Hey is that Gatta and Luzzu? We better leave," she said changing the subject when she saw the two crusaders in the port.
Lindsey was asleep now, as well as Josh. She had her face snuggled against the pillow with Josh on his back, hands folded over his chest and eyes lightly closed. Lindsey stirred as she yawned but readjusted, her hands clutching at the pillow as if it were her lifeline.
"No, let's stay a bit," Noodles grinned as he held onto her arm gently. Staying at his command, not because she didn't want to upset him, but because she didn't want to be alone. "Crusaders, how goes the fight?" He nodded to the older man as Demi sulked next to him looking up to meet Gatta's gaze.
"Ah, we're shipping off to Luca tomorrow," Luzzu saluted, "Going to catch the big Blitzball tournament. Need some entertainment among this chaos, right?"
Gatta nervously saluted to Demi, "I-It's good to see you are doing well."
"We are actually heading that way ourselves. Right now our summoner and fellow guardians are resting. Demi was feeling a bit restless so we decided to go for a walk. I actually have some business to attend to, if you don't mind sparing a soldier, if Gatta could escourt my fellow guardian back to our inn. She had a bit of a roughing up yesterday, so we try to keep one person with her at all times," Noodles said patting Demi on the back like a special ed child.
Demi stood there unable to speak. She was torn between being furious with Noodles for leaving her and scared to death at being left with Gatta.
"Uhh..sir," Gatta nodded from the silent ordering look from Luzzu.
Luzzu gave Noodles a nod, "Alright then. I can come if you like. We're at ease right now, what is it that you need?"
Gatta gave Demi a light tap on the shoulder, careful to escourt her back to the inn, "I'll p-protect you from harm... I promise." He was starting to ease up.
Noodles gave Demi a ruffle of the hair and was gone with Luzzu. "I was looking for a specific shop actually. A clothing shop. We'll be heading to colder climates and we'll need some protection."
"Uh ok," Demi blushed, as she stuck close to Gatta. She acutally ended up grabbing his hand when someone jumped out, scaring a few people as a joke. "Fiends I don't mind, people though, that's a whole different story," she muttered.
"Ah, I'm afraid you're a tad out of luck finding those here. But, there are good shops like that in Luca. It's the largest city in Spira, no doubt it will have shops like that there. Usually people who stop in Luca are headed for D'jose and the Thunder Plains leading to Macalania Forest. Always good to have protection for such areas."
Gatta held lightly onto her hand. When they reached the inn, he let go, but didn't let her head back to the room. "I... I want to say that.. I-I'm sorry. I'm sorry I scared you at first in the Kilika forest. I was nervous... because... we'll... you're pretty.. I.." he whispered, "...I kinda know you're ..you know.. what you are... but I'm okay with that! I'm a crusader, you and I are kinda the same.. but.. I just wanna say I'm sorry. And maybe we can be friends?"
"I see," Noodles nodded. "I appreciate your help. You wouldn't happen to know of any local food markets would you? I'm afraid I'm not from this part of Spira," he chuckled.
Demi was going to kill Noodles, slowlyl. VERY slowly. "It's ok. . . I wasn't that scared," she said blushing furiously when he called her pretty. "I. . . I would like to be your friend. . . Gatta." She gave him a small smile trying to keep her homicidal rage contained till the one that deserved to die showed up.
"Hmm..." Luzzu said in thought, looking around, "..well, you could probably fish. Kill a fiend in the forest and cook it up. The food markets are a little upset right now because of Sin's attack the other night."
"Well, I'll leave you now since you're here at the inn now... be careful on your pilgrimage, okay?" Gatta said.
"I see," Noodles nodded. "Thank you for your help Luzzu, I do appricate it and Yevon bless you in your battle."
"Ok," Demi nodded. "You. . . be careful too, okay? Oh!" She paused as she took off the swirling shell necklace, he'd probably keep it safer than she would. "Here, a present. . . for our new friendship." She smiled.
"Ahh... we.. can probably lend you a crate of food and water... I doub't we'll be needing it. I'm sure we can spare a crate. I can go get it for you," Luzzu said, raising up a hand and patting Noodles' shoulder.
"Oh.. Thank you, miss," Gatta said, taking the necklace gingerly, "I'll treasure it and protect it with my life. And thank you!" Gatta turned and left the inn.
"Thank you," Noodles smiled returning the gesture. "My summoner and guardians well be very grateful." Seeing Gatta return, he eyes the necklace he clutched. "I assume you brought my fellow guardian back to the inn safely?" He said, trying not to sound harsh.
Demi slowly climbed the stairs and quietly entered one of their rooms. Grabbing Noodles's pack, she took it to the other room to let the others sleep while she did her mischeif.
"Yes, she is safe and sound. Look what she gave me!" Gatta said, childish in his excitement, "She said it's a token of our friendship!"
"That's nice Crusader, now go get the emergency crate of food from our headquarters. It's now for the Lord Summoner and his guardians. Now go," Luzzu cut in.
"Sir!" Gatta saluted before wrapping the necklace around his wrist and ran to the headquarters.
Luzzu sighed, "Poor kid."
Gatta returned to the docks with the crate of food, "Here. Shall I deliver it to the inn?"
"I think I can managed it," Noodles said as he took the crate with one arm. "I'll give Demi your regards," he nodded to the younger man.
Gatta saluted, "Sir!"
"Good, good. We'll see you on the ferry tomorrow then," Luzzu said as Gatta ran off in direction of the Crusader's temporary headquarters, following a little far behind the younger man.
Noodles nodded and chuckled as he made it back to the inn, putting the crate down in the main room everyone was napping at the moment, including Demi who was curled up next to Dexter as he laid on his side with his back to her. Smiling at his group he slipped off his gi and looked for his pack. Frowning he went to the next room, seeing it laying on the bed. Shrugging, he grabbed it up and opened it, only to get a blast of paint in the face. Crying out in suprise, he was grateful for his glasses.
Lindsey was getting up from the bed to use the restroom. When she heard the faint cry in another room, she rubbed at her eyes and quietly left the room, peering into the other where Noodles stood, "...what's wrong...?"
Noodles stood there with bright pink paint all over his face. "I think our little Al Bhed's upset," he blinked taking off his glasses and pink spattered shirt.
"...Ohh..." she walked around to look at his face. Her squinting eyes narrowed a little and she winced back, "Oh.. Wanna.. wash that off..?" she asked, uncaring that she was standing there in her underwear.
"Yeah," he nodded, not realizing the extint of Demi's wrath as he headed towards the shower, quickly undoing his pants and boots before shutting the door.
Demi peeked around the door, seeing the paint splattered Noodles. Smiling to herself, she went back to her position and being curled up before Dexter shifted in his sleep and rolled on top of her. "Ack!"
Lindsey sighed and gathered up Noodles' pack, looking in and removing the mechanisms of Demi's trap. "Ew..." she sighed sleepily and tossed it into the trash. She would have to burn it... she didn't know how the paint would affect the environment in Kilika...She turned and left the room, heading back to the other. Josh was still asleep, now on his stomach and head facing the direction of her own bed. She yawned and crawled back under the blankets.