Author Topic: Rebirth ~ The Price of Eternity [A Fan Restoration Project]  (Read 1425 times)

Danko Kaji

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Re: Rebirth ~ The Price of Eternity [A Fan-written Restoration]
« on: September 06, 2015, 06:53:22 pm »
Chapter 2
Tentative Title: Of Yevon's Curse
part two of two
---

Their long-awaited trip back to shore reached port eventually, lit by powerful electric lamps that helped guide the Aurochs Ace to moor, and they unloaded the freight of wooden crates overflowing with fresh fish. Blitzball players and fishermen alike worked together to deposit the catch into tight-woven, rope bags, and the ones who held them out to receive the load proceeded to sling them over their shoulders once full.

When nobody spared him a second glance, Tidus frowned. “What about me? You’re not gonna give me anything to take back to the village?”

“Sorry,” a fisherman said, “Today wasn’t a good day…” The man, who looked to be forty years old from his low voice and facial hair, paused in the middle of his task to stare at him. He stood at an impressive height, exemplifying his strong stature while sporting quite the unique, handsome mustache. His skin looked so pale, he couldn’t possibly be an islander from this side of the world with that kind of complexion, Tidus mused. ‘Unless you’re Lulu, that is.’

“My name’s Tidus. Nice to meet you.”

“Bria,” he said, before handing him a trident. “Carry it for me, would you?”

Fumbling to keep a steady grip on this elongated, heavy weapon Bria decided to drop into his hands without warning, Tidus straightened himself, holding it tip up for inspection. “You fish with this?”

Bria shook his head, amused by his awe. “No. I fish with a net. That is to protect myself.”

“Oh.” His curiosity deflated to make way for embarrassment. “Against monsters?”

He chose not to answer. “Do you have a moment, Wakka?”

His brisk dismissal stung, leaving him alone to ponder the state of his questions. ‘Did I ask a stupid question? What’s with him?’ He watched them drift away from everybody else, reassuring the others to proceed just so the two men could have a private conversation. Although Tidus couldn’t hear anything, he managed to determine the serious atmosphere from Wakka’s grim expression. Just afterwards, Tidus noticed the Aurochs discuss how to cook the fish, before returning to the village, thus leaving him behind with Bria.

Under the moonlight, the ocean’s calm waters glowed in the blue night. Gelatinous, translucent creatures began crossing the beach without having to worry about their human predators, migrating to disappear into the foliage of trees. Monsters still roamed the earth despite the Eternal Calm. Could he still fight them? Did he even have the strength to defeat them anymore? ‘Or have I become a shadow of my past self, just like how a simple blitzball game proved to me?’

“I had forgotten…”

Those distant words echoed his thoughts, reminding him of the other occupant in this beach. Bria stared at the blitzball that rested beside his feet, and Tidus smiled, glad to have found something that could break the ice. “Hey! Throw me a pass!”

Tidus frowned when the man chose to ignore him again, preferring to stare at the innocent object in deep thought instead. His smile dropped, and he scratched his head for a lack of better things to say. He watched Bria’s long, wavy hair sway in the salty, night breeze, revealing his face at long last, and upon taking a closer inspection, realized that Bria looked a lot younger than Tidus had thought. His mustache gave him the illusion of age, but his most striking feature were his eyes; a faded blue, like two polished pieces of glass weathered by the sea.

Bria finally spoke, breaking the awkward silence. “Your eyes…”

“Mine?” He frowned, self-conscious. Eager for a distraction, any excuse to move closer to him so he could actually hear him, Tidus dug the trident upright into the sand and rushed for the ball.

“Your eyes have contemplated too long the distance.”

That cryptic statement couldn’t have been a trick of the wind, so Tidus looked to him for elaboration, yet Bria became silent again.

“Uh, come again?”

Tidus hit the ball, throwing it above his head, so he could catch it in his right hand, before rolling it onto his left hand in a single, fluid motion. Juggling it on his knee, then his head, and then his shoulders -- a sequence deeply ingrained in his muscle memory -- it never failed to soothe his nerves.

Since his strange, new companion liked to play the silent game, Tidus decided to change tactics. “I didn’t see you here two years ago. Do you live here now?”

“Yes. I came to live near the High Summoner.”

“Huh. I see.” ‘Like everybody else in Spira,’ he didn’t say.

“I take care of the temple under the monks’ authority. A month ago, I transferred here from Bevelle. Did you hear about the members within New Yevon?”

If he meant by how they couldn’t do Jack squat without their leader for more than a day, then yeah. He knew how hopeless they could be, all those older people who retreated into New Yevon for something slower and safer than the hotheaded, impatient Youth League. He didn’t like New Yevon, just because of its terrible namesake -- and everything else about them, really. “Yes.”

“A bloody bunch of chickens, if you ask me!”

Tidus gave him an awkward smile, startled by his passionate declaration, but deep down, he applauded him for he felt the same. “Really? So what about the Youth League? What do you think about them?”

Minus habens.”

“Meaning?” Tidus quirked an eyebrow, confused. That didn’t sound anything like Al Bhed, or those strange dialects he heard of.

“All stupid.”

“Woah! Strict!” Tidus laughed. ‘I think I’m starting to like this guy. He’s weird, but kinda funny.’ “And what about the Machine Faction?” He waited for him while focused on the ball, balancing it over his head to amuse himself.

“I saw you coming.”

“Huh? What?”

Not really sure if he heard him right, Tidus turned in direction of the ocean, letting the ball drop to the ground. Was he talking about his return, because if he was, how could he have known? Not even Tidus knew that he would would return to Spira this very day.

“At midday,” Bria said. "We heard of Yuna’s return thanks to the radio, and I followed the villagers. I saw you emerge from the ocean. How did you get here without a boat or airship?”

Tidus didn’t feel like answering this question, least of all expect to be confronted by it so soon. An ill-conceived explanation could lead to a disastrous first impression. If he got into trouble with this man, a priest linked to the Yevon Church, who knows what kind of repercussions it would have for Yuna?

“Two years ago, you came from Zanarkand.” Bria said, perceiving his hesitance. “Not from the ruined city we know, but a fast-paced version of it. Some say you came from a secret advanced city, but others… Nobody believes your story, but I am willing to trust you.”

Well, that took a load off his shoulders. Tidus sighed, smiling in relief. “Uh, thanks!”

“How did you arrive in Spira back then?”

Tidus didn't say anything at first, unsure of whether he could do a good job explaining it. After all, for all these questions Bria loved to ask, he didn’t know any of the answers himself! At least, not enough to explain much.

“According to the rumors, Sin carried you.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe it’s exactly as they say.” He tried to shrug it off, hoping to break away from this uncomfortable topic, but Bria kept persisting, much to his dismay. The one time the man wanted to talk, Tidus wished he could've stayed quiet.

“Do you think Sin could take you back to Zanarkand?”

Once again, he didn’t feel like answering this particular question. Even if he could return to the Zanarkand he knew and loved, ‘if’ being the operative word, it didn’t matter to him anymore. Yuna had defeated Sin, so of course he had no way of confirming this theory. Yet he felt certain about one thing: “The city I knew does not exist anymore. It was born from a Summoning…”

He trailed off, sobered by this bleak thought. ‘So what does that make me?’

“I would like you to tell me more about it.”

Tidus shrugged, feeling no obligation to satiate his endless plethora of questions. “Sin spread chaos and destruction across all of Spira, right? How could Zanarkand survive such a disaster anyway? It didn’t, and mine was a dream. That’s all there is to it.”

“I don’t think it really matters, then,” Bria said, surprising him with his lukewarm response. “Recently, I have begun to notice a lot of signs… I think I’ll be able to solve this mystery that has kept me busy for a long time very soon.”

This peaked his interest. “What mystery are you talking about?”

“The greatest of all.” He laughed.

Tidus lost his temper. “Are you making fun of me? What d’you want, anyway? Did you really transfer here from Bevelle, or did you come here to live near Yuna? What are you trying to say, that you’ve got some ulterior motive for being here?”

Unaffected by his tirade of angry questions, Bria put a damper on his humor. “I beg your pardon if I have hurt you. Please, don’t misunderstand. My life’s a bit too complicated for mere words to sum up. Humans try to introduce causal relationships, but the truth is that, these links, we invent them a posteriori.”

Using his fancy words again provoked Tidus into further frustration. “I hate these weird words you speak in! Why don’t you ever say what you mean? At least say it in a way I can understand.” He regretted it the moment he said it, because Bria said goodnight and departed. “Sorry…” To his utter astonishment, the fisherman turned around to wave at him; that’s when Tidus knew, without a doubt, that Bria had heard him.

Tidus realized that to deny this man his right to keep his life private, he denied Auron as well, to whom he owed practically everything. Bria’s right: the lives of some people were too complex to be summed up in a couple of easy sentences. And when such a person wanted to hand down the fruit of their experiences, it sometimes might manifest or express itself like him; a quiet and reserved, yet wise and cynical man.

‘Will I find myself in the same situation, too, someday?’

Staying behind at the beach, Tidus wanted some alone time to think. He climbed onto the pontoon and lied down on top of it, turning his face in direction of the violet, blue sky. Oppressive-looking, grey clouds were beginning to roll in, concealing the stars. The wind picked up all of a sudden, causing the water to lap against the pillars of the pier, all of which painted the foreboding image of an incoming storm.

Once the Aurochs drop off the fish at the village, the banquet would begin (if it hadn’t already), and Tidus would lose his chance to talk to Yuna. Could this be his punishment or just a bad day? Did someone or an invisible, outside force prevent him from seeing her? If Tidus decided to run back and meet her, no matter if anyone stood in his way with some flimsy excuse, Tidus wouldn’t care. He’d brush aside those annoying old crones and old-fashioned geezers and just talk to her without worrying what they had to say. It’d be so nice…

“Humans try to introduce causal relationships, but the truth is that, these links, we invent them a posteriori.”

Ruminating upon Bria’s earlier cryptic line, Tidus let out a cry of frustration before kicking the boards of the pontoon. He hated it, because he started to understand what he meant. A dull sound reverberated, but another sound, a more high-pitched, metallic note, echoed in the air, startling him. Tidus jumped to his feet, looking around.

Remnants of antique mechanisms remained throughout the island, jutting from various locations in plain sight such as rock cliffs and leaf-ridden plateaus. Tidus doubted anyone alive knew of their original designs. Some of these ruins stood erect near the cove like chimneys, their fine orange paint faded by age. He spotted a large seagull perched atop one of them beside the ocean, pecking at something held between its webbed feet.

GONG, GONG, GONG!

Tidus lied back down once he felt reassured. His mind drifted to the Gullwings, since the bird reminded him of them. Yuna had spent a good three to six months with this group, maybe even longer, he didn’t know; a group comprised of young Al Bhed people and a lone female warrior of unknown origins, who looked like nice people that treated Yuna well. To think life had continued despite his absence, and that his friends -- yes, even Yuna -- had fun in the interim, made him feel like a stranger in the loop. He imagined the smile of his Summoner, the colorful, bold clothes which spoke of her newfound independence; no longer this shy, seventeen year old girl who felt oppressed by her own impossible ordeals and responsibilities, but a young woman who had blossomed without him.

And he still remained the same, stuck at the same spot; a seventeen-year-old boy.

Tidus sighed. Would he have preferred to learn Yuna had agonized over his absence? Two years ago, in the face of his imminent fate, he wanted the exact opposite -- he wanted for her to live, to be happy, even if that meant he had to give up the chance to share that with her. He wanted Yuna to move from this stupid cycle of death and despair and ‘eternal’ suffering. Now, if someone had asked him the same question, he might have given them a selfish answer, and he hated himself for it.

Too anxious to sit still, he started shaking the wooden boards of the pontoon.

*

Nightfall settled around the village. With the fish cooked to a fragrant crisp and the bonfire all lit up and fueling the festive atmosphere, Yuna could not be found. Wakka would have been concerned if it weren’t for the obvious fact that the elders were missing, too. Probably with Yuna, no doubt.

He knew full well the impatience they withheld for Yuna’s eventual return. Everyone in the village older than Yuna, Wakka and Lulu included, contributed to the young woman’s growth. Orphan to the late High Summoner Braska, she had spent the better part of her childhood at the temple, surrounded by people with unshakable faith, and when she chose to follow her father’s path, it seemed like she answered the elders’ prayers. Upon defeating Sin, bringing forth the long-anticipated Calm that would last for an eternity, she exposed the truth behind Yevon’s deception, and the Church collapsed as a result.

Despite everything, the older people continued to follow Yevon’s teachings, beseeching their stubborn defiance: “Everything they taught us is not wrong.”

Although Wakka wanted to argue, because he knew exactly how they felt, he chose to bite his tongue. Everyone had the freedom to believe whatever they wanted now. Yet the elders showed very little tolerance for other opinions. In their eyes, the youth were mistaken about the Golden Age, taking for granted their newfound freedom by having fun and thinking very little about the consequences. Since for as long as he could remember, the village worked together like a family, and now the generation gap that began to grow between them broke Wakka’s heart.

The oldest were incapable of adapting to change, of tolerating the slightest disruptions. Young leaders, like Nooj and Baralai, embodied that change they so resented. Their influence spread fast, expanding far and wide even to territories as distant as Besaid and Kilika. For a single piece of news to reach the village in three days, it became outdated in the central world. This era disconcerted the elders, who had always known an immutable world.

Yuna never forgot that she owed much of her upbringing to Besaid and the old folk, and in these uncertain times, she served as the icon of familiarity and peace for those who feel lost. Never mind the fact that New Yevon’s Praetor (and those in power before him) tried to evoke that same kind of familiar comfort only to fall short in the face of progressive politics.

“I wonder what they plan to do with her.” Wakka mused aloud, heading for the temple now that all the reparations were complete. Entering the dark, heady threshold, he breathed in the familiar smoke of incense, which mingled with the surrounding damp stones, which held the building together. It reminded of him of his childhood.

‘A gift of Yevon...’
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 07:00:28 pm by Danko Kaji »
Lost in the winds of change~

"There's some things you can't do alone,
but they become easy with friends beside you."

Consider me a wandering 'Maechen' of FFX/X-2 lore.