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: January 11, 2017, 04:28:13 pm »
Chapter 11
Tentative Title:
Of Attrition
---

(A/N): I had fun going through the struggles of Tidus and Yuna cast out at sea; it's slow and grueling, if not a little boring at certain parts, but quite realistic. There's still one more chapter to cover before they reach that mysterious island (Valm-centric chapters notwithstanding). Actually, the first arc of the novel, "Boy's Side," ends after chapter 14, followed by the "Girl's Side" which only covers three chapters. I suppose the former is shared by Tidus and Valm's POV, and the latter is exclusively Yuna. I can't wait to reach those parts and embellish their structural importance. :3

*

The Ace pitched so strongly during the night that Tidus and Yuna strove to keep their balance. They had torn the bed linen to fashion a makeshift rope out of it, tying it around each other’s waist to stay connected. Standing close to the rudder, Tidus attempted to look outside in vain, and dared to venture onto the upper deck while being supported by Yuna. The rain lashed at his face while he squinted into the darkness, and the rope coiled around him tighter, indicating Yuna wanted him to come back.

“I couldn’t see anything!” He shouted once he came closer, dripping with seawater.
   
“We’ll have to wait for the storm to subside. In a few hours, the sun will rise, and then we’ll be able to regain our bearings. And then…” Yuna trailed off, grimacing from the thought: pinpointing the north posed as one problem, but returning to Besaid posed as another. “And maybe we’ll see the island. Don’t worry. Our friends will search for us. From the sky, the Gullwings will find us in no time at all.”
   
“You seem pretty calm about everything,” Tidus said.
   
“I may not look like much, but I’ve grown up on an island! Plus, I’ve experienced all kinds of scary adventures.”
   
“You’re already talking like an old woman,” he said, amused, disparaging her confident boast with a retort of his own.
   
“Oh no, the horror!” She pouted, tempted to stick her tongue out at him.
   
They caught each other’s eye and then they exchanged smiles, stifling their giggles.
   
“I think everything will be okay.” Yuna repeated, if not to reassure themselves, yet Tidus sounded doubtful.
   
“Despite all of our problems?”
   
Suddenly, the ship pitched in between two waves, cutting them short, and Tidus felt his stomach lurch whereas Yuna closed her eyes. He took a step towards her, only to stop short when the hull of the Ace split open with an inhuman whine, losing his balance. He banged his head against the rudder, picking up the scent of gunpowder, before blacking out.

*
   
Tidus opened his eyes, squinting against the sun that had already risen high in the sky. No more breaths of wind, no more clouds, not even a ship in sight. Only a plank survived from the Ace’s remains, barely large to support the weight of one person, of which Tidus found himself resting on.
   
“Stay where you are, don’t move.”

Yuna whispered behind him, and Tidus turned to find her floating shoulder-deep in water, her back facing him. A fiend floated in front of her, an adamantoise with a ravenous row of teeth fixed upon its open mouth, its jagged, sharp shell protruding from the surface. Glassy-eyed and hungry, it emanated the light stench of rot. ‘Great. We’re screwed. What’s it doing all the way out here? I thought these things only dwelled in the Calm Lands…’

“Yuna…”

At the call of her name, she turned around to give him a sideways glance, and Tidus paled at the sight of her, tired and distressed with sunken, dark bags for eyes and shallow, haggard breathing signifying her war with attrition.

‘She had been protecting me this whole time? For how long…?’

The adamantoise still did not move, and Tidus wondered if Yuna had managed to tame it. Then he saw a stick, no, a trident, broken in half and driven into its robust neck, and he imagined the battle Yuna must have waged against the beast, while Tidus had been passed out, acting like baggage that floated in the sea like trash.

“I’m sorry…”

She gave him a weak smile, reassuring him, and then she hunched forward, her eyelids drifting shut.

“...Yuna?”

No response.

She started sinking into the water, and the monster plunged in right after her.

Tidus straightened up on the fragile plank, careful to balance himself on its precarious weight. Remembering the rope coiled tight around his waist, he pulled on it hard, and thankfully Yuna bobbed back into view a moment later, unconscious in the current of the rolling waves. He moved fast to wrench her near him despite the adamantoise looming over her, and he hauled her in by the skin of his teeth, sheltering her in his arms. Their refuge couldn’t keep them afloat forever, and the beast hovered ever closer, sensing the poor state of their flimsy lifeline.

Tidus noted its vacant look, its glistening yellow fangs and its putrid red tongue hanging behind them. And in his arms, he felt Yuna’s body, so delicate that he thought he might break her. This reminded him of another time, a happier moment, two years ago, where he cradled her in his embrace, her body so light it almost felt like they were floating in a sea of stars.

Their first kiss, at Lake Macalania.

This memory evoked a powerful emotion, a roar of strength he never knew he possessed.

“I’ll never forgive you!” He shouted, only to stop and wonder-- ‘Who am I yelling at? The fiend? Myself?’

He didn’t know, but he didn’t care. “I’ll protect her no matter what!”

Careful to straighten up on the plank, Tidus tried to untie the rope that connected them. While he struggled with the heavy, soaked fabric, the adamantoise inched closer, close enough to prop its flat chin on the plank supporting them; at this rate, they were going to topple in the water.
Tidus scowled, scavenging the strength to leap onto the adamantoise’s back, grasping its shell on all fours. Ignoring the pain of its jagged spikes digging into his limbs, he forced the nape of its neck to turn over, snatching the broken half of the trident Yuna had used to subdue it. He sat up to raise it high above his head with both hands, before piercing its head straight through. Suddenly, it slid off the edge of the drooping plank until its head disappeared within the water along with the trident.

A foul smell rose from the wound, followed the spillage of repugnant liquid.

‘Now’s the time to escape.’ No sooner did he think that, another creature broke through the surface near them; a shark covered in reptilian scales. The shark leapt over them to disappear at the other side where the carcass floated, followed by a high-pitched whistling like that of a whale.

‘It must be calling for others…’

Several creatures from the same species emerged soon enough, confirming his suspicions, converging on the head of the dead adamantoise where they began to devour it. Tidus watched them from on top of their meal’s back, mesmerized by the morbid scene.

‘I have to keep them away from Yuna, before they set their sights on her, too!’

But where else could he move when the ocean surrounded him? Were they trapped here, with nowhere to go?

‘It’s make it or break it…’

Bending over to recover the trident from the tortoise’s head, Tidus slid down the carcass into the water so he could wade back to the plank where he left Yuna still unconscious. He coiled the rope tighter around her waist, the very same one he tried to get rid of, grateful for the fact he couldn’t, and climbed onto the plank, teetering from its swaying motions while he pulled Yuna into his arms. He needed to carry Yuna back onto the fiend’s shell, even though he couldn’t figure out how to move from their makeshift raft.

Tidus wondered if he had been better off staying on the half-devoured carcass. Where were they supposed to go from here? Well, he couldn’t back down here. He had to keep plowing forward.

Inching closer to the water’s edge, he crouched on his feet with Yuna cradled in his arms and took a deep breath, concentrating all of his energy into his legs. Tidus leapt only to misjudge the distance, miscalculating the weight difference. Instead of touching his feet onto the curved, jagged shell, he fell straight into the water.

Something pulled him down, preventing him from floating to the surface, and it took him a few seconds to comprehend what happened. He remembered the rope, which still connected to Yuna, and floated upright to discover that the rope had managed to wrap around one of the sharks.

It struggled for a moment to swim against the weight of two people, before finding the strength to return to its spot beside the carcass of its meal.

Tidus took the chance to sink, hoping Yuna would float to the surface. The shark resumed its lunch without paying attention to its unwitting passengers. He skirted around its belly, praying its fellow kind wouldn’t notice him, and pulled Yuna in, dragging her up with him into open air. He gasped for air, sucking in the sweet, sweet oxygen, and checked to see if Yuna’s air passage still worked unimpeded, before wrapping the length of the rope around the shark’s dorsal fin.

The first step proved to be a success, surprisingly enough. Now, he had to climb onto its back without pissing it off. But how will it react? Tidus didn’t know enough about this particular species to predict its behavior, but he couldn’t let that stop him. Struggling to mount the creature with Yuna in tow, he froze for a long moment when he felt it thrash in place and sighed in relief after it ceased its movements, too focused on devouring its lunch to buck them off. He clung to the other fin, the one which split the sea surface, to balance himself, and paused.

How to attach Yuna onto it, he wondered...

Pulling the rope in to bring her closer, he attempted to lift her up and wedge her onto its back, but despite all his efforts she kept slipping off. There’s no other way around it: she had to hold onto the fiend herself.

“Yuna? Can you hear me? Yuna, I’ll get the upper hand on this, don’t worry, but I need you to wake up.”
   
Another shark arose from the waves to scale the air above them in a smooth arc, blowing a long, gleeful whistle. In a flash of inspiration, Tidus beamed, lifting two fingers to his mouth to whistle loud and clear, the sound so sharp Yuna awoke with a start.
   
“Tidus?! Where are you?”
   
“I’m right here, next to you.”
   
She raised her head to blink at him, relief washing over her. “What… happened?”
   
“Fiends are surrounding us, and I’m trying to control our mount. But don’t worry, I got a good handle on this one. It’s just a matter of time. There’s no way we’ll end up as shark snacks, not while I’m alive!”
   
Despite obvious proof of the contrary, she acquiesced with a tired sigh.

*

Eventually the shark moved away from the carcass, now replete of its meal after the rest of its kind had come and gone, and took to swimming just beneath the water’s surface, drifting in silence.

“I wonder where it’s taking us…”

“Wherever it is, I would like for it to go there,” Yuna said, pointing at a dot in the horizon.

They had kept their voices low whenever they felt the need to talk, not wanting to exacerbate the fiend and lose their only sliver of security. Now Tidus squinted at the indecipherable spot she indicated, barely able to make out its lush, verdant surroundings.  “Is that… Besaid?”

“I’m not sure. But any island will always be better than being stranded on the back of a shark.”

“Wait, we’re drawing away from it.” His voice rose in panic, as the shark started swimming in the opposite direction, picking up speed. “And quickly.”

Even with the weight of two full-grown passengers clinging onto its dorsal fin, the shark swam unimpeded due to its colossal size; next to Tidus with his small, skinny stature, it appeared three times bigger, and he tried not to let that intimidate him.

“Hey!”

Of course, it did not respond.

Tidus sighed. “Well, I don’t think I have a choice…”

Hefting the broken trident in one hand, he jabbed the shark on the side of its head, straight in the cheek, hoping this would cause it to avert its course. “And don’t you dare go under!”

If the shark sank too much under the water, Tidus would be forced to start rearing it beneath its stomach. Besides, he didn’t want to shed any more blood than he had to, because the sight of it darkening the water in murky red... somehow didn’t sit well with him. He hated it. And also, he might need to slide down to swim by the fiend’s side in order to steer it, even though he really didn’t want to, since it had already reached a considerable speed too fast and tireless for him to keep up.

Before Tidus could even think about the problems of crossing into deeper depths, and the dangers of delving into such dangerous waters, a long, violent shiver of pain wracked the shark’s body, before it veered to the right, in direction of the faraway island.

“Forgive us…” Yuna called out to it, stroking its smooth, sleek, rubber-like skin.

He glanced at her, surprised. Tidus didn’t feel guilty at all, because sharks only knew one rule: to kill or be killed. Every living being in Spira followed that rule without question, and of course, Tidus adopted that same philosophy soon after being marooned in this cold, merciless world. He had to act cruel towards anything that posed a threat to his life. After all, Spira’s inhabitants were subjected to harsher living conditions.

Who else would have asked for this fiend’s forgiveness? Only Yuna, the one true treasure in this world, and so he reinforced the vow he had already sworn a thousand times over: to cherish her and protect her for as long as he lived.

He turned over to face her, seeing her lie flat on her stomach while her arms and legs were wrapped around its back, and felt the tickle of a smile pinch his cheeks. He remembered the day he first met her, watched a young, beautiful, gentle woman summon a ferocious, magical beast-- her first Aeon, Valefor.

At the time, Tidus had never dealt with a monster or wild beast of that size and power, not that he could recall, at any rate, but he understood then that if Yuna could control a being so powerful, he could never hope to live a normal life beside her. But then, a new thought crept into mind, which warmed his heart. He knew of another side of her nobody else could possibly know, the “normal” side of her people were unfamiliar with, because they were too busy fawning over her public image as a Summoner most serious and kind, but stubborn and inflexible, too.

‘But me, I understand her like nobody else.’

“...What are you think about?”

Yuna spoke up after a long silence, curious, and he blushed, embarrassed that she caught him zoning out.

“Why do you ask?”

She smiled, amused. “You’re smiling.”

“Really? Nah. Must be the fatigue moving the muscles of my face.”

Eager to dismiss her perceptive, flattered by her attention on him, he turned towards their destination. The small island appeared close enough for a hill to stand visible at the center, along with the unmistakable stretch of greenery that pretty much covered everything. Besaid or not, at least they would be able to find food and water. Tidus let loose a little laugh, tickled by a sense of deja vu.

“What?”

He grinned. “Nothing.”

“You--.” She pouted, unable to stifle her laughter. “You’re such a secretive little thing!”
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 04:35:25 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.