Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X-2 > The Confessional - Continued

Part Fourteen

by Ikonopeiston 1 review

The trek to the final beach.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Warnings: [X] - Published: 2005-07-25 - Updated: 2005-07-25 - 2308 words

The Confessional

Part Fourteen:
There is just this final day's march through the edge of the desert to the beach which is our final destination, where the damned ship is waiting to subject me to two more days of torment. The Maesters have conducted another round of questioning about the pistols, this time concentrating on whether anything odd about them came to the attention of any of us. They were so distraught they even queried those who had not been here at the time of the duel. Hah! I knew they were inefficient. I did not realize they were also incredibly stupid. Naturally, no one admitted to noticing anything. Baralai startled them by claiming to have seen something and then, after much dramatic hemming and hawing as he pretended to try to remember, came out with the information about the runes on the ivory handles. He amused us greatly with his recital of his behavior. I think he has learned more than one skill from Gippal.

I must decide what to do about those weapons.

After my last interrogation, I was given my orders for the remainder of our stay on this foul island. It seems to have finally occurred to the Holy Incompetents I am the only one here with any idea what he is doing, so they have placed me in charge of the pathetic remnants of the force they brought to this place. I am to lead them to the beach as a group, through the sand and the scrub, past the fiends, keeping them together and safe. That should be a simple task. Some of my new troops even have arms and can use them. At least they are clean and hydrated so they will not offend even the peculiar fauna of this land. I laugh because there are only sixteen to command. The Maesters kept apologizing for burdening me with this vast horde. Me! I have led hundreds into war at once, have issued orders resulting in a tsunami of men overwhelming an equally great force. Sixteen! Bah! I think I shall let Gippal take charge of the stragglers, those too weak to fight and too broken to care. He has a genial air and is less likely to frighten them than am I. It will be good practice for him. Baralai will watch over the damaged ones and Paine will fight at my side. There is no request for recordings during this march, not any made to her anyway. There are some with cameras left among the other teams and they can do any filming of this ignominious retreat which is needed. Yes, she will fight at my right hand. In this sort of terrain Gippal tells me there will be few fiends so all should be well.

At least these poor devils will get to see what even a single day of good leadership is like.


Again we are forced to wait before we take to the march. I chafe at having to cool my heels while those who are over me, if only in a titular manner, wrangle amongst themselves. Paine has been spying and tells me they are arguing about whether to waste another day hunting for the pistols. I could not be happier with the discord I have managed to sow in their councils.

My lady and I shared passion last night. We made the most of it for we do not know when we will have so pleasant a bed-chamber or so leisured a time again. Baralai and Gippal sleep on the far side of the cave beyond a slight curve in the wall and are sufficiently involved in their own pursuits not to have any interest in ours. The acoustics of this place work so as to muffle sounds in any event. Knowing this, I find it endearing to watch Paine try to contain her ecstatic cries as she scales the peaks of pleasure.

I look at our bodies as they come together, her perfection and smooth coolness against my twisted and discolored flesh. We are the reflection of one another in the mirrored mazes of the mind. Each time I enter her, I feel I plunge more deeply into her body and her soul. She is my sheath and my hearth. Inside her, I am home as I have never been before. I wish I would never need to withdraw back into the cold isolation of my world. I would exist in her warmth.

Her body is an endless source of spiritual nourishment. She is the wellspring of life and infuses me with the will to go on until the proper ending can be found. She drinks from me as I from her and we complete one another in a strange and satisfying way. I am not sure I could have finished this trial without her. Without her, I might well have walked into the desert at any of a number of times. So when I choose to place her at my side during this coming day, it is for two reasons. I know her to be a more than excellent Warrior with both strength and honor and I want her within my reach. Even if I do not touch her, I want her near enough so that I may. Here, in this private place, I admit my weakness. I am lost without her. She is my anchor, my talisman, my heart.

I know our parting approaches whether either of us wills it or not. I expect and intend to take that step into Nothingness before this game is done. If, for some reason, I am prevented - she will find other ventures to lure her. Such a woman will never be willing to live her life as the nursemaid to a cripple, the companion of a half man. I must take what joy I can during this time beyond time when we are of one creation and she touches me with tenderness and gives me her mouth in which to taste my own essence.


We finally got on our way. Apparently the more practical of the Fools convinced the Dreamers that the pistols were unlikely to be uncovered by repeated questionings and siftings of the local sands. We made fairly good progress during the morning hours by moderating out pace to that of the weakest and permitting them to regain their strength and courage - such as it it. We encountered only a few nests of the lizard things with the poison and no one was newly injured. Baralai continues to nearly exhaust himself in his efforts to keep the damaged ones functioning. I must warn him to take care of his own body as well. Nothing will be gained if we lose our only Healer and Alchemist to overwork. It is true I know a few rough and ready spells to keep Warriors on their feet and fighting even when wounded, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to minister to my fellow travelers. They must fend for themselves.

There was one somewhat amusing and educational incident which I might as well set down during this enforced rest period. Gippal stumbled across a sand-worm. Without an instant's hesitation, he threw his arms as far around its neck as they would reach and bellowed like a bull who has just mounted a cow. Happily it was more of an infant than a grown fiend and he was able to wrestle it to the ground and start shoving his knives under the scales. The damn thing seems to bleed water! We filled our canteens from the dying beast and drank our fill of the clean sweet liquid gushing from its wounds. It would have been helpful had the Al Bhed bothered to mention this little fact earlier. We might have been on the outlook for these living fountains on the first stage of our journey. Of course, I must be fair and say we saw no small sand-worms during the time we were dying of thirst. And the mature ones all managed to escape leaving their lizard accomplices to do the murderous work. Still it makes me wonder what else Gippal has kept in the locker of his mind. I was mistaken when I thought him incapable of keeping secrets. I wonder in what other areas I have been guilty of a lack of perception where my team is concerned.


One thing is disturbing me. The Maesters have chosen to follow close behind us. I do not think they are trying to stay within the circle of our protection. There are fewer than a half-dozen of us capable of really fighting and we have our hands full taking care of the damaged ones in the center of our formation. Besides, I can tell from here the Rulers of the Universe are keeping extremely powerful spells cast around their delicate hides. They are taking no chances of encountering even a single fiend. So why are they staying within a few hundred feet of my miniature army? I think they may still think the pistols are to be found if they wait patiently enough and do not want any of us to have the chance of burying them in the sands. I think I will take this opportunity to consult with Baralai. He should know the ways the minds of these fools work and should be able to rule out any truly ridiculous possibilities.


Baralai assures me it is the habit of the Holy Cowards always to travel under the aegis of an interlocking canopy of spells. They have Warrior Monks but none are in attendance to this set of inflated buffoons. The priestling thinks he may recognize one or two of those who are shepherding us; he cannot be sure because they look different in their 'desert' garb than in their sacerdotal robes and furbelows. He, too, thinks their proximity has something to do with the pistols. They were uncommonly keen on locating them.

In passing, Baralai quietly confirmed he has the sea-sickness remedy to hand. Without making a production of his offer, he made certain I understood that the trip back would be far less stressful for me than the earlier sea voyage. I am more grateful than I care to express to him. It would not be proper to show too much groveling. I was dreading a repeat, even a less intense one, of that first experience with the open ocean. He is a useful chap. It has become evident to me that there is in this mismatched trio of individuals I command to be found a veritable treasure trove of talents and skills. I doubt I could have done better had I been given the dossiers and permitted to select my own crew from amongst all the recruits. Well, enough of brooding. We cannot rest for the remainder of the day. There is not much further to march and we cannot do it on our butts. Time to rouse the rest of them and set them on their way. Finally the terrain is becoming solid enough so that the cane is more help than hindrance. I have learned to hook the handle over my arm when I am using the gun so that I am faring better with all my impediments. For a while, I thought I was going to have to plead for the addition of another arm and hand to manage all I must manage.


We have gained the beach! I have set those who retained their tents to pitch them and have ordered them to share with those who lost their supplies. We are to stay the night here so that we may sail on the morning tide. Baralai has given Paine the capsules he prepared for me, along with more of the anodynes and she has already begun dosing me against the sickness caused by the sea. I think she is getting a sadistic pleasure from forcing me to swallow the enormous boluses. I swear they are each as big as a mouthful of fellant and much harder to swallow. I am supposed to take three a day, beginning the night before sailing. Paine laughs when I gag. I shall have to teach her more respect for her master. A little roughness will bring her to heel. She likes it rough. Damn! Stop thinking! I become obvious.

The last part of the march led us through a fairly dense infestation of fiends, not the poison lizards, but flying eye-shaped creatures and multi-tentacled serpentine beasts. They are biters and element users but not overly strong. It was amusing to watch Baralai knock the fliers out of the air with his staff and Paine casually step on the fallen eyeballs and burst them. Gippal and I took care of the snake-things, mostly by beheading; they were too scattered to waste shot on. Our heavier knives were quite efficient at the task. I found it was also effective to pinch their heads off with my left hand. The soft tissue gives way easily when I close my fingers. We laughed as we killed and the four of us, reeking of blood and less clean fluids, secured the beach for the rest. Now I smell of the sea water in which I have washed and shall wait for any other instructions from that damned performance artist who brings the messages from on High. I am not sure if the other thirteen are still my responsibility. I shall treat them as such until I am formally relieved. I doubt the Sacred Psychopaths know it is customary to relieve an officer of a duty once it is completed.

Paine has come back with an armload of seaweed. She looks a question at me. Need she ask? Isn't it evident?
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