Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X > Red and Black


by storyless 3 reviews

A portrait of the sorceress as a young mage. Lulu during Ginnem's pilgrimage. Hints at yuri, maybe.

Category: Final Fantasy X - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Lulu, Other - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2006-06-08 - Updated: 2006-06-09 - 3178 words

A/N: All FFX characters belong to Square-Enix. I'm sorry that this one is long and Lulu is hardly in it. It's alright to complain.


The moon didn't hang in the sky, jewel-like among the clouds. Not in the Calm Lands. Here, it sat restful and confident on a throne, with no trees or hills to challenge or obscure its view.

The wind was nice, too. Lady Ginnem let down her hair to let the prairie night push through it.

"How Ginnem trust a Guado guardian?" The Ronso snorted as he lapped the foamy head from his ale.

"Guado just turned to Yevon. Lady Summoner should bring strong and proud Ronso, not sneaky Guado."

Ginnem, loosened by restful evening and the hearty drink the Ronso had eagerly shared, smiled at the blue-furred warrior. "Erna's a good fighter. She's the best Claw-handler I've ever seen, really. I trust her with my life. And, my dear Ronso," She added with a teasing lilt. "I doubt your fellows at Gagazet would be happy to hear that you've been questioning the judgment of a summoner on her Yevon-ordained pilgrimage."

With an audible snarl, the Ronso warrior turned his glass up, chugging the brew greedily, like a human. He was quiet, though, when the Guado woman emerged from her quarters and took a seat next to Ginnem, making a face. "Ronso ale? Thought you'd have better taste, my lady."

At that, the Ronso snorted indignantly, leaving biled words behind as he hulked to his room. "Ronso think Guado impolite, remember this when Lady Summoner reaches Gagazet."

Erna frowned. "Stupid Ronso. You'd think they-"

Ginnem looked straight ahead and cradled her drink in her hand. "Erna, please. No formalities. No 'my lady'. And let the Ronso be. I don't want any trouble. We are here to rest."

Erna grunted slightly. "I can't sleep well at these places, you know that." She lowered her voice. "I'm sure Rin means us no harm, but he is an Al Bhed, after all--"

"He cancelled a reservation to accommodate us." Ginnem sighed. The Guado were the most recent converts to Yevon, and perhaps due to that, among the most reactionary followers. "And I see no machina here. I see nothing that would violate the teachings, really. The travel agencies themselves have been approved by all four masters. Even Maester Jyscal and High Maester Yo Mika."

Erna bit her lip. "Regardless, what are you still doing out here? It's late."

"Enjoying myself." Ginnem spoke with a sad gravity. "It won't be long until I won't be doing this anymore. You said to me yourself there's no rush, right?"

Erna looked down, studying the weave and warp of the table cloth. She didn't say anything for a long time. When she did, it was quiet and careful. "I just assumed...that you'd be tired."

"I'm not tired." Ginnem answered without removing her eyes from the horizon, which was already growing pale with an ever-widening band of grey. Mornings came earlier when there were no towns or trees to halt it. Ginnem always managed to get her strongest guardian off guard with these moments. Simple words with the weighty underpinnings that a guardian could discern, but not quite articulate. A sorrowful acceptance, perhaps. No regret, though. Lady Ginnem didn't regret. The summoner held a determination Erna had never seen in anyone. But then, she'd never met another summoner in which she could place much trust. "But you're right. It is late." Ginnem lifted herself, feeling the gentle wooziness of the Ronso ale as she stood. "Goodnight." Erna watched her go, openly staring at the other woman. She always expected her to stumble, with all the weight Ginnem seemed to pull in that honorable harness of summoner. She was the vehicle of hope for all of Spira. Erna swallowed then and felt her eyes begin to water in spite of herself. She lowered her face quickly, returning to the tablecloth threadcount, should Ginnem steal a backwards glance. They'd done this dance for a while, barely skirting that inevitable truth. Never really speaking of the act, of what was to be done. Erna covered her face with her long fingers. These next couple days, then, would be the last time they would feel the warmth of the sun together. Beyond the Calm Lands lies the frigid Mt. Gagazet, and beyond that the holy ruins of Zanarkand, over which the sun never rose. Or so it was told. At the thought of the sun, Erna noticed the pearliness of moon that night. It was then that she began to really cry.


Ginnem hesitated. It was late, but she really wasn't tired, and the strip of lamp-glow from under Lulu's door seemed so much like an invitation, particularly with her judgment softened by the finest brew of Gagazet. So she lifted her hand and knocked softly on her youngest guardian's door. "Lulu?"

From the slightly bewildered mage inside. "My lady...? Enter!"

Opening the door, Ginnem could not resist a snorting chuckle at the sight of the young mage clumsily performing the prayer gesture, pajama-clad and sitting, propped up by pillows on an unmade bed.

"You girls know I hate that stuffy business." Ginnem lowered herself at the foot of Lulu's bed. She lifted her voice in a teasing tone. "And what are you still doing awake? I wonder if it is really worth the gil for these places when none of us seem to actually sleep."

"Erm...sorry!" Lulu stammered. "I was just finishing this chapter. It's about Mandragora. I thought it might be useful for--"

"A few blasts of Firaga. Simple, really. And I know you already know that; you've reviewed that chapter at least three times since Guadosalam. Is there anything in your life that you don't feel the obsessive need to know absolutely everything about?"

Lulu considered this. "If I didn't study, I wouldn't learn. And if didn't learn, I wouldn't be a much of a mage." Under the eyes of her superior, she added a quick disclaimer. "I think."

Ginnem exploded in a single, loud guffaw. "Lulu, you sound just like Maechen."


"No worries, dear. It's a compliment." She smiled. "For a mage."

"And," Lulu continued unprompted. "I've never been to any of these places. You and Erna have."

Oh, sweet Lulu. Would she ever learn that memorized passages from reference books were no substitute for worldliness? "And we are getting very, very quickly to where we failed last time, and thus to places where none of us have gone. Our first go at it, we hardly made it a third of the way up Zanarkand. We decided we needed a black mage..." Ginnem stopped and fixed her eyes on the mage, tilting her head in questioning. "Did I ever thank you, Lulu? Because I'm not sure I did."

"Ginnem, you really needn't--"

Ginnem gathered the girl into an embrace, surprising the mage mid-sentence. "Thank you, Lulu. You're the finest black mage a summoner could want. You'll change the world someday."

"It is my honor." Blushing.

Ginnem held the mage's shoulders at arm's length, examining the young woman. "What are your dreams, anyway? Do you even want to change the world? And don't you dare say" The summoner raised her voice in a sniveling mimic, "'My one and only dream has ever been to serve you, my lady', because we both know that's bullocks."

Lulu hadn't expected this. And she'd really not given much thought to any dream. She was too practical for dreams. She thought about goals, rather. But then again. "I'd like to work in Bevelle. In the clergy. As a mentor in elemental magics. I wouldn't care for any career that wouldn't allow me to
practice my craft. And there's not much opportunity in Besaid."

"You're so respectable, Lulu!" Ginnem nibbled on a bit of calloused skin on her thumb. "Honestly, at your age, I probably would have said the wife of a blitzball star."

Lulu blinked.

"Come on now, not all of us were born heroes. Some of us need it beaten into us." She grabbed Lulu's hand then, and the grin was suddenly replaced by the stony, urgent stare of Yunalesca's statue, Ginnem's oft-professed idol. "Nearly one thousand years and they've still not found a solid, good way. It keeps coming back." Her voice trembled like an insect-eaten leaf. "I promise you, Lulu. We'll get you back to Besaid, and from there Bevelle."

"But the pilgrimage--"

"We'll finish the pilgrimage. We'll do it right, somehow. We'll do it right, for the first time." She squeezed the mage's hand, the small hand that held such power. "I know my girls. We can do it." Ginnem pursed her lips and forced the smile back. "You should put the book down, though. We need an alert black mage, not an exhausted tour guide."


Lulu gazed upwards at the darkened ceiling. Back to Besaid. Back to Chappu, Wakka and Yuna. She plunged slightly at the thought of Yuna. Lulu was still a little angry. She wondered if the girl was preparing for her first summoner's trial yet. Lulu had tried to keep Yuna from following in her father's footsteps.

Yuna had announced her decision quietly, wholly without fanfare. It was almost confessional, as the two girls sat alone, long after sunset, with their toes skittering the water's surface. Yuna had told her, and Lulu's heart sank like a ship. Yet it was a realization of the inevitable. When Lulu had first seen Yuna wield her first summoner's staff, it was as thought there had never been another Yuna besides Summoner Yuna. It simply fit.

And still Lulu had tried to turn her away from that path, with every fiber of her being. Lulu even dared to invoke the hold name of Yuna's father. He had, the black mage insisted, brought the calm so that his daughter may know a life without the constant loom of death. How would he feel if his daughter would throw away her own for the chance to battle the same force from which Braska had protected his daughter? Yet Yuna commanded all the force of a mountain in the same stately eyes and birdly delicate body of her father. Still, Lulu had tried. Wakka, too. But Chappu had been perhaps the most adamant, maybe skirting on blasphemy. He didn't understand why the sacrifices were necessary.

Lulu sighed. One could never tell how long a calm would last. She dared to hope Lady Ginnem's would last longer than Braska's, and perhaps Yuna wouldn't have to embark on the grim pilgrimage. The girl could spend a quiet occupied life attending temple duties and dancing away the dead of Besaid. A good life. A long life.

Lulu was at last sinking into sleep when she felt a faint tickling sensation at her thumb and looked down. A large white-winged moth had lit on her hand, its fuzzy antennae twitching, two miniature reflections of the dying oil-lamp in its glossy eyes. Yuna. Drawn to the light. To hope. Drawn to the flame. To /death/.



Lulu sighed deeply, absently tracing the curved wing of the haunted moogle she currently wielded. The sun was too bright for her, and here there was no thick Besaidian canopy to filter out the light. So she had a headache. In addition, she was feeling stupid and jealous, as the elder women kept a few paces before her, casually and quickly comparing possible strategies. The two older women had such a rapport, such an understanding. She had to remind herself, as Ginnem often did, that they were all equal. All in this for the same reason, sharing the same goal. Still, the mage often found herself craning her neck to hear them as they quickly planned out their route, rarely consulting the youngest party member.

She wondered if the legendary Sir Auron, the youngest of High Summoner Braska's party, had ever felt this way. She wondered at the chance of perhaps meeting him as they neared Mt. Gagazet. No-one seemed to know for certain where the legendary guardian had gone after his party had ushered in the calm, only that he was not on the farplane. Rumors, however, painted him as a hermit in the Gagazet caves, protected and supported by the faithful and secretive Ronso tribe. He was nothing more than a mad recluse, now -- never fully recovered from Sin's toxin, they said.

"Look sharp!" Erna's voice slapped with echo against the cliff-wall.

The three formed themselves quickly, Ginnem protectively in the middle. "Erna?"

"Something's coming...I smell--"

"Ugh..." Lulu reeled an oppressive stench hit her, undeniable as a brick.

"Malboro!" Ginnem barked sharply.

Lulu knew this, of course, as the tentacled plant-beast resembled the countless scientific illustrations illuminating the pages of her fiend manuals. And yet nothing could prepare her for the smell. And she'd kissed Chappu in the morning before he'd brushed his teeth, ripe with the sweat of a Besaid night. She gagged. The fiend lunged at Erna with a belch, vomiting an oppressive goo onto the Guado. The blue-haired guardian roared as the skin-searing toxin burned through her armor. She plunged her claw into the beast's face, a fungal black powder erupting from its wound.

"Lulu! Firaga!" Erna shouted gruffly as she gathered herself for another assault.

As Lulu began to conjure energy, Ginnem halted her as she initiated a summon.

A fiery cross ignited the ground before her and the ground split for the emerging Ifrit.

At Ginnem's command, the aeon made an impressive display of very effeciently finishing the fiend with a single overdrive that called forth the sulphurous center of Spira and catapulted the even the largest beats over the tallest tree-tops. Hellfire. She'd seen Ifrit do this before, and it was the same every time, but Lulu couldn't help but admire his showmanship.

Ginnem bowed respectfully to the Aeon with the dismissal gesture that signified its services were no longer needed.

Lulu sunk slightly as she relaxed the high-level fire spell from her hands. She hadn't executed the spell much and would have appreciated the practice.

Ginnem gave her a tired smile. Calling aeons drained the summoner. "I'm not sure why they named them the Calm Lands, either." She chuckled wearily and turned to the other guardian. "Erna, let me see what that mushroom did to you."

"I'm fine, Ginnem." The Guado woman hissed, taking on the path ahead of them with an increased speed.
"We don't need you wasting your energy anymore than you just did."

"What are you telling me?" Ginnem quickened her pace to match Erna's.

Erna glared ahead, assuming a pace quicker than her usual trot, leaving a pregnant distance between herself and the rest of the party. Ginnem had no right to Erna's feelings. Ginnem had no right to see the redness of her eyes, to know how much time she'd spent sitting at that table last night, with her hands covering her face, pretending to be fascinated by modern Al Bhed tablecloth-weaving techniques. "That we didn't need the Aeon. It was a waste. And we really can't afford to waste." Erna spoke curtly, clipping each word to the quick.

"We weren't prepared. You know what the Malboro can do." Ginnem gave a soft, indignant huff.

"Of course I know. Even the girl knows. We could have defeated it easily, right Lulu?"

"Um." Lulu spoke in a small voice, slightly embarrassed for the both of them.

"This has nothing to do with Lulu, it was my choice. I'm the summoner."

"Then you should know-" Erna paused to ambush a single sleeping Skoll, defeating the canine fiend with a single, glimmering swipe. "You should know then, the aeons are not trained dogs to be sent after anything you see fit."

Ginnem halted suddenly. "Erna." She spoke in a firm, chilled tone the laid-back summoner rarely assumed. "I asked you to accompany me on my pilgrimage twice now. I did so because I trust and respect you. I may not always agree with your decisions and you may not mine. However, when one embarks on a pilgrimage, one's role trumps one's personal feelings. I am the summoner and I have made my decision."

Erna was silent then, and while she still wouldn't turn to face her summoner, she reached her silver claw up and scraped it along the cliff-wall that edged the Calm Lands. Metal upon stone emitted a horrible squeal as she walked. A sound which drowned out any other.


The air was distinctly chillier and drier here. Battered bits of dyed cloth billowed like flame.

"Gagazet is over that rise." Erna observed glumly, stepping onto the Ronso-maintained bridge.

"Wait." Ginnem paused before the bridge, splitting from the path, slightly westward. "I want to see something."

"Do we have time for this?"

"No rush, eh? This is the only time for this, really. Besides," Ginnem slid a smile in Lulu's direction, "We are going to make our Calm last a long, long time." The summoner led her guardians down an overgrown path below the primitive rope and blank bridge.

"What is this?" Erna squinted into the chasm of rock. "Smells bad."

"I think..." Ginnem stopped. Is this it?

"...the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth?" Lulu pondered allowed.

Ginnem nodded. "I heard it was here. And this...I think this is it."

"Stolen Fayth?" Erna scowled. "It sounds as bad as it smells. I don't like it."

"The Stolen Fayth was stolen from a temple, centuries ago." Lulu volunteered eagerly, her voice quivering. "Some think it was to impede the summoner's path. I...didn't realize anyone-"

"-Not many seek this fayth. This trial is not easy. They say lady Yucon had him, though."

"Yojimbo." Lulu turned to Erna, her voice lightened with awe. "I've read he can strike down the strongest fiends with a single blow. I--"

"Whatever." Erna eyed the underside of the Ronso bridge. "I don't deal with stolen goods. We don't need it."

"I believe such an Aeon would be a great asset as we near Zanarkand." Ginnem raised her voice. "And I believe that we can accomplish this trial. I have faith in us."

"We. Don't. Need. It." Erna spoke each word as though each commanded a sentence on its own. "This place smells like the farplane. Like death. It would be irresponsible and perilous to pursue this now, so close to Zanarkand."

Lulu pushed her shoulders back and raised her voice in a half-aware mimic of Ginnem. "I think we should try it. If anything, it will be good for training. Ginnem could learn Holy, which could be useful in Zanarkand."

"Lulu's right. Good training. An adventure. Zanarkand can wait." Ginnem paused to light a torch with a low-level fire spell. "Furthermore, I am the summoner. These decisions are my privilege."

Lulu followed the summoner into the guttering blackness.

"Your privilege. My burden." Erna muttered quietly. The Guado was the last to follow, so that the others would not see her quaking hands as she performed the prayer. A dreadful and desperate plea to Yevon.
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