The chill was piercing and still could not overcome the burn of pain, of loss, of failure. Zanarkand lay behind - a dead city at the centre of the never-ending spiral. Gagazet lay ahead.
To Bevelle, Besaid, Zanarkand. A chant repeated endlessly pushed his heavy feet forward. One slow step after another. Where feet failed hands sufficed.
"When this is over… could you bring Yuna here? I want her to lead a life far away from this conflict."
"Take care of my son. My son, in Zanarkand."
Promises to fill. How didn't matter.
The sight of a marker filled his vision. They stopped here. They paid their respects while a quiet dread grew. This was only one of many fallen summoners. Another battle won by Gagazet. It wouldn't win this one.
"But I have come to kill grief itself. I will defeat Sin, and lift the veil of sorrow covering Spira."
They all fell in the end and for what? One dies and the other starts the cycle anew. A lifted veil would come down once more.
He couldn't fall here.
He tumbled into the snow. It was strangely soothing against the ache surging through him – a welcome embrace he could not accept. He knew a hill was coming. Not far now. His legs refused movement, but he didn't have far to go. He dragged himself forward inch by inch.
Snow and ice and rock. Easier to slide down than the trip up. At the top Braska had called for a break, claiming a need for it himself. As Jecht stretched out and scoffed at the chill he was tempted to refute that claim until Braska left them to it, to stand aside in privacy, the flash of a sphere catching Auron's eye. The claim was left alone.
And his resolve continued to waver.
"Imagine the training you could get in a place like this. Doubt my boy could handle it though."
"This mountain tests the strength of the greatest warriors," Braska had replied, ever the diplomatic one.
He skidded and slid. Let Gagazet work for him until he rolled to a stop in a scattering of snow. He slowly turned over and stared at the sky, losing himself in the depths of the leaden clouds.
"Our last trial. Once we cross we will be in Zanarkand." Braska looked at Jecht then. "I… Perhaps it will…"
"Nah, don't worry about it. We'll see when we get there, right? Man look at this place."
Jecht. He would have thought he'd taken a blow to the head if he'd told himself he would come to grow fond of the drunkard they found in the cell. He had privately questioned Braska's reasoning as they moved forward, only to find his reservations waning.
He missed him.
"Trust me, I'll think of something."
Was it possible? Was there another way? Trust goes both ways. He pushed himself up on shaking arms and used his sword to pull himself to his feet. Bevelle. Zanarkand.
A numbness spread through both body and mind. It was… easier. Bevelle, step, Zanarkand, step. Repeat.
It wasn't over. Promises to keep.