Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X > Resurrection III: Stolen Fayth

No Going Back

by helluin 3 reviews

With precious little margin for error in fiend-infested tunnels, Lulu and Auron continue their risky journey.

Category: Final Fantasy X - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance - Characters: Auron, Lulu - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2006-03-19 - Updated: 2006-03-20 - 1682 words

Sir Auron maintained a vigilant watch behind them as they penetrated deeper into the maze of tunnels, mindful of the dangers concealed by the bleak ramparts of twisted stone. Lulu led the way, gliding silently before him, on the lookout for any sound or movement in the passage ahead. They could not afford mistakes. Without Yuna's magic, they had to rely on their limited supply of potions and remedies. In the turmoil of combat, there were few opportunities to pause and tend a stricken comrade. Lulu was painfully aware of the problem from her last ill-fated foray into these catacombs.

At least for a while, their luck held. They met with nothing more sinister than the booby-trapped urns left behind by sadistic thieves after whom the cavern was named. Perhaps the strange artifacts had been placed there to ensnare the greedy. Auron and Lulu were wise enough to give them a wide berth.

"Sir Auron," Lulu murmured, warily circling an urn that seemed to quiver and twitch as they crept past.


"One thing puzzles me. You disapprove of anything that distracts us from Yuna's pilgrimage. Why, then, are you going along with this?"

The older Guardian chuckled as they entered yet another claustrophobic corridor. His gruff voice echoed off the walls. "You were expecting that I would. Why are you surprised?"

The mage halted abruptly and raised her hand in warning. Auron turned sideways and pressed into a hollow alcove as well as he might. Lulu glided silently to the wall and stood still, mimicking one of the dark pillars of stone whose surface was punctuated by flecks of gleaming crystal. They waited. Pyreflies and wisps of violet smoke seeping out of cracks in the walls billowed past. At last, a looming bluish-white figure floated across the open passageway ahead in eerie silence. Lulu chafed at having to let the fiend pass by unmolested, but she knew better than to seek out more trouble than necessary. It drifted out of sight, and they waited a little longer before moving on, hurrying across the intersection. Lulu did not risk breaking the silence again until they had put a few twists and turns between themselves and the crossing where they had spotted the ghost.

"Not surprised," she replied. "Puzzled. You permitted Yuna's dangerous game with Seymour, knowing that she was going astray. Several times now, you have counselled us against unnecessary diversions, then played along." The mage could not quite mask the twinkle in her eye. Sobering, she added, "I am grateful, but curious."

Auron shrugged. "Yuna had her reasons. I assume you have yours."

The mage smiled wanly. "We'll see if I fare any better."

Conversation between them ceased abruptly. Ahead, the drip of water and the hissing of the fumaroles in the walls grew fainter, suggesting that the corridor was about to open into another wide gallery. Those faint sounds almost masked a muffled scrabbling noise. Both Guardians recognized the telltale tap of claws at the same moment. Exchanging glances, the mage and swordsman drew shoulder to shoulder, prepared to turn and fight back to back if necessary. Sir Auron was taking no chances. He made a quick gesture with his left hand. The wafting pyreflies slowed their dreamy spirals and hovered in place like eager blitzball payers waiting for a bout to begin. Sounds grew sluggish. Puffs of purple vapor paused and hung nearly motionless.

Auron raised an eyebrow. Lulu collected herself and nodded curtly. Together they edged their way around the corner.

Instantly a trio of translucent, pale lizards of considerable size came swarming out of crevices and hurtled towards them. Despite forewarning, Lulu was barely able to unleash a volley before the reptiles darted in range of Auron's swing. "Don't let them bite you!" she snapped as a curtain of ice draped across one of the fiends and shattered.

"Mind yourself," Auron shot back. The slippery lizards were alarmingly swift, weaving in and out, leaping and striking, their glossy fish-like scales dazzling and bewildering. Even with the magical boost of speed from /hastega/, the swordsman was not fast enough to catch them. There was no way for the heavyset warrior to fend the creatures off of Lulu save by planting himself in front of her as a living barrier. This he did, to her dismay, but there was no time to argue. She had her own work to worry about. Ice erupted from the stony floor and seized claws, fins, and twisting necks in its chill talons. The lizards were speedy enough to evade even spells, and kept dodging the full brunt of her magic. This time, Sir Auron could not weaken their resistance for her. Again and again he sliced, forming a pendulum of deadly steel around them, but his sword kept finding empty space where a foe had been a moment before.

Everything was happening in a blur. Lulu's first victim was writhing on its side, bleeding away into ghost-lights. The other two were attacking furiously. One barrelled past Auron's guard and wrapped itself around the mage with talons digging into her thighs and shoulders, trying to get its jaws around her throat. She twisted, struggled, and fought back with a cry, or tried to. Numbing heaviness had seized her lungs and her voice, and she could not gasp out a word. Suddenly Auron's black sword dropped like a thunderbolt right before her eyes, shearing through all four of the creature's legs at the elbows, cutting it away from her and slaying it in one deadly stroke. /Thank you/, she mouthed. Once freed, Lulu hastily fished out one of the small precious items tucked into the pockets inside her sleeve and crushed a silver pellet between her teeth.

Recovering her voice, she had to bite back a scream. Auron had been caught and paralyzed in the act of turning back to meet the last of their foes. Trapped in mid-swing, he was helpless to strike at the fiend that had bitten him. The vile lizard was worrying at him like a gnawing dog, claws scrambling for purchase as it squirmed and coiled around his frozen body. Gritting her teeth, Lulu drew her hands together and lashed out with bursts of bitter cold. Battered by her spells, the creature finally dropped twitching to the stone floor and dissolved into nothingness.

Lulu reached out and touched Auron's cheek. It was hard as stone. She longed to use one of their precious remedies, but most of these creatures' toxins did not long outlast them. "You'll be all right in a moment," she reassured him, speaking to herself as much as to him. She waited tensely, scanning the tunnel for any other unwanted company. It was probably only a handful of seconds before the spell let go, but the lonely moment before Auron's face loosened into a grimace and he lowered his sword seemed to drag forever.

"I hate those things," the mage muttered vehemently.

A hint of old nightmares must have been showing in Lulu's haunted expression, for Auron took one look at her and wordlessly put his arms around her. She embraced him fiercely, protectively, barely noticing the stinging scrapes and gashes on her arms and legs.

"Are you sure that you want to go on?" he asked gruffly.

"Please. Lady Ginnem, I do not wish to say this, but--"

"Don't tell me that my little spitfire is growing cold feet! We've come this far, my dear. Yojimbo's chamber cannot be much farther. He will guard us on the return journey."

Ginnem's eyes were brave and bold and kind, and there was a fearless calm about her that Lulu always strove to emulate, concealing her sharp temper. Other adults had given little encouragement to the moody, reclusive youngster, an anomaly in a laid-back friendly backwater community like Besaid. Ordinary folk had started avoiding her when she began to manifest her useful yet dangerous talent. Ginnem, however, had been a loner herself, and said that Lulu reminded her of her old Temple in Djose: forbidding on the outside, full of spark and bright fire within.

Oh, but if Lulu had adored Ginnem less, and trusted her own instincts more, perhaps she might not have been so desperately eager to prove herself worthy of her idol's faith in her.

"All right. Lead on, my lady. I can't wait to see this legendary hero in person!"

"I must," Lulu replied firmly. She disentangled herself from Auron's embrace. "Come."

"Not until we fix this." Auron touched her shoulder just above the welling cuts left by the lizard's claws. Auron retrieved another healing salve from his belt and wiped down her wounds with practiced efficiency, making her flinch as the burning liquid seeped into the fresh gashes. He used the remainder to treat the bite on his shoulder. "I take it that you faced them before?" he asked grimly.

Lulu lowered her gaze, voice going flat. "I could not move a muscle. They tore Lady Ginnem to pieces before my eyes."

"You have to put that behind you, Lulu." Auron slipped a finger under her chin and tipped her face towards his, holding her eyes with compassion but not pity. "We fight to avenge the fallen. But if we let those memories distract us, they will hamper our judgement, possibly fatally. Can you keep yourself focused on the present?"

The sorceress frowned. Auron, of all people, understood what he was asking her to forget. "I think so."

He weighed her answer mutely, measuring the stubborn set of her jaw with a fingertip's caress. Then he drew her into a brief, tender kiss that warmed her far better than any number of salves or potions.

"That makes it easier," she breathed when he released her.

Auron grunted. "It is also another distraction," he pointed out, stepping back and inspecting her for any injuries he had missed-- or perhaps for reasons.

"Maybe you should walk in front of me, then," Lulu teased.

Shaking his head, the warrior hefted his sword and dropped a few paces behind her, a roguish glint in his eye. "I'll manage."
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