Setting: Pre-game events (10 years, surprise surprise...)
Theme + Number: (18) Clinging; (73) Boats; (96) Nearly there
Summary: Yuna's pilgrimage was not her first journey across Spira.
A journey of ships and shoopuffs. Packed dirt roads that seem to extend on into forever. Days of endless walking and nights camped out, staring into a vast, open heaven which blankets all its children in darkness, completely and indiscriminately. The world has changed, but the sky stays constant.
Her new companion – protector, benefactor, friend – towers higher than the mountains of his sacred home; the broadness of his shoulders reminds her so much of a face she cannot banish, a young face, unlined, unsmiling and serious, shoulders which could bear the weight of the world. He had been expected to come for her, but he never did. It is the Ronso who has come and spirited her away in the midst of the chaotic celebrations.
The roads are heavy with travellers; she has never been outside the city, and still she feels she's never seen so many people, dressed in all different fabrics and colours, bulking robes and brown sun-baked flesh and eyes covered by brass and tint. Her new friend – Kimahri, she tongues the strange name around in her mouth until it slides past her lips with a giggle – tells her that for every ten pilgrims on the road, there is one strong and immovable Ronso keeping watch over the peaks of Gagazet. Her child's mind is unable to fathom such comparisons, but it gives her a glimpse of the scope of the world in which she has existed but never seen.
The travellers rush to the temples to bow reverent in prayer to Yevon, to give thanks for this new Calm, to beg for years of peace, to delay the rebirth of the beast. The girl implores to her stoic companion, she has never been to another temple, only to the sprawling, ornate halls of the Palace of St. Bevelle.
She feels a change in the atmosphere as he leads her down the Djose Road. The crackle and spark that saturates the very air she breathes, pulling electricity into her lungs. Even Kimahri breathes deeper, his great rasping breaths a comfort even through the haze of disappointment she feels as the Djose temple shrinks into the distance, and then disappears all together.
Luca is loud and untamed; it assaults her eyes and ears and heart but still she craves more, peering over the rail of the S.S. Arnot until the very last of the city spires sink into the depths of the sea. Kimahri stands at her side, ready to catch her if she stumbles on underdeveloped sea legs. When dark comes, he leads her to the warmth and safety below deck.
The sea sings a lullabye to her. The pull of the waves soothes her, whispers stories to her in voices she never expects to hear again. The smoothness of her father's elegant tones is the wind in the sail, the brashness of a man so ensured of his place in the world is the breaking of the waves against the hull.
The days at sea are eternal, the sun and waves unrelenting. The sailors sing as they work, the sanctuary of the sea intoxicating them. She laughs and sings and claps; Kimahri is indulgent, and allows her to dance on the gently pitching deck – it never occurs to her that he allows her these freedoms because such unyielding happiness, the simplicity of bare feet beating a rhythm on the deck helps her to forget how utterly alone she's become.
It doesn't matter; she would laugh at the very thought. She isn't alone any more. She has him.
The islands are a strange place, a world away from her strict and privileged upbringing in Bevelle. The sun grows hotter, or maybe it's just her imagination, or the influence of so much skin shown the people around her. On the deck, as the ship slowly makes port, she strips down to her cotton under-robe, leaving a pile of multi-coloured, suffocating heaviness behind. While Kimahri is staring out at the white-sand beach and the dock there to greet them, she kicks the robes overboard, and watches them darken with the weight of water, and sink just below the surface.
From the great cliffs above the village, she first sees the temple of Besaid. To her, it is welcoming – at least more so than the crowd of villagers who murmur behind their hands as they pass through the rickety village gates. At first, she wonders if it's because of her – then she realizes, it's because of Kimahri. The lone young Ronso, horn broken, walking slowly to give her thin legs a chance to keep up. She almost stumbles as she urges her legs faster.
The priests in the temple try to talk sense into her as she fights off their gentle restraint. He is charged with the guarding of the heights, and must return to his home; he is so young himself, his people need a warrior such as he. She is to remain, to live faithful to the teachings, to rejoice in the Calm that her father has brought to Spira.
No, she thinks. He is charged to protect her, to stay with her. The wish of a man facing death, he'd told her! He had to stay to fulfil his promise.
Kimahri is waiting for her on the temple steps as the priests finally release her. She is fighting back tears, her father taught her the futility of tears and of sorrow and she will honour him now even when her heart is breaking. She has lost so much, too much too fast, and she bows so low she's almost bent double.
“No, don't go, don't go!”