After several days of training their newfound spells, the gang decided they were ready to return to the mysterious fiend's lair. They were finishing the final preparations as Rikku contacted Cid to pick them up in the airship. Wakka, Tidus and Kimahri were polishing up their weapons and Yuna and Lulu were checking the spell books one last time.

"Yuna, I think I've found a spell that will counter the draining effect you are feeling," Lulu said and slid the book to Yuna so she could take a look.

She nodded. "Try it."

Lulu gestured for her to stand a few feet away and studied the page for a moment before closing her eyes. She raised her arms about her head, concentrating hard for what seemed an eternity. She then lowered her arms in a fluid movement and Yuna felt a slight tingling sensation throughout her body. "How do you feel?"

"A little funny," Yuna admitted. She looked over to Kimahri and Tidus, who were having a friendly duel to sharpen their skills. Mostly friendly, that is. Tidus took a chance strike, leaving himself vulnerable, and Kimahri struck him across the arm, leaving a nasty red gash.

Lulu shook her head at them before addressing Yuna once more. "Try healing him."

Tidus sat in a chair, glaring at Kimahri while she walked over to him. She held a hand above the cut and concentrated on closing the wound. Before she knew it, his arm was fully healed without a sign of injury. She stared at both his arm and her hand in silent amazement. That had been a pretty deep gash and would usually have taken longer to heal and would have taken more out of her. As it was, the procedure had been nearly effortless.

"Did it work?" Lulu asked.

"Oh. Yes, it did. How long is this supposed to last?"

"It should last a few hours at least."

Yuna flexed her fingers, feeling an unfamiliar sense of power. For once she felt truly confident in their plan, she knew it would work.

Everyone sheathed their weapons and Rikku returned to the room. "Pops is on his way, but he says the weather is worrying him."

Lulu glanced outside, where dark clouds were brewing a storm. "Is it going to be a problem?"

"The airship could be damaged if it starts storming. He can get us there, but he may not be able to fly us back. Maybe we should wait?" Rikku shuddered at the thought of being caught in a thunderstorm on the airship, or being trapped in Omega Ruins. She wasn't sure which scenario would be worse.

"No," Yuna said firmly. "We can do it." Tidus nodded in approval of her statement.

"But--" Rikku started.

"We already know the fiend seems to like cloudy weather. It's best that we go now instead of giving it a prime chance to attack," Lulu interrupted. Rikku hung her head, knowing she was defeated. With the matter now settled, they went outside to meet the airship, which was landing now.

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Yuna waved as the airship took off, leaving them at the entrance of Omega Ruins. She glanced at the darkening sky, now filled with swollen, black clouds. It seemed they would have to find another way back to Besaid, but that was something to worry about later. She spoke to Rikku as they entered the caves, "That was nice of Cid to give us some of their best potions."

Rikku was stuffing them into her pockets. "Yeah! And look at this super smoke bomb he gave me." She tossed it up but it slipped through her fingers on the way back down and smashed open on the floor. The group coughed and gagged as an unbelievable amount of smoke poured from the small object.

Lulu conjured a light breeze to blow it away from them. "Be more careful."

"Sorry, heh heh."

They had only walked for a few moments when a fiend approached them. It was a Halma, a short, roundish armoured thing. It charged at Tidus who blocked it easily with his sword and pushed it back.

"Time to test out our new spells," Lulu said. Yuna cast the weaker of the two shielding spells around the entire party. The Halma charged again but bounced when it hit the shield, which rippled from the impact but held. It looked confused for a moment and then charged again, yielding no results except a ripple and a probable headache once more. "How is it holding up?" Lulu asked Yuna.

"Fine so far. It should be able to stand a few more hits."

Lulu formed a small ball of energy on her palm and tossed it at the Halma, which was obliterated on impact.

"Not bad, Lu," Wakka complimented.

"And that was a low power version," Lulu smirked.

They lazily walked to their destination, not fearing the fiends that once overpowered them easily. A few more tried their luck, but none proved to even be a challenge. At last they arrived at the false wall.

Tidus scratched his head. "I think we should've brought rope or something."

"I knew we were forgetting something," Wakka groaned.

"Don't worry, I packed some!" Rikku said grinning. She pulled off a small backpack she had been carrying and removed a rope with a hook on the end from it.

"So you are good for something after all," Tidus teased. "Somebody lift me up there and I'll hook it in."

"I don't think so." Rikku threw it up and the hook embedded itself in the rock. She gave it a pull to make sure it was secure then stuck her tongue out at him.

"I could've done that," he mumbled before climbing up. Rikku followed, and the others helped Yuna and Lulu before going up themselves.

"Everyone ready?" Yuna whispered. They all nodded, and she refreshed the shield spell before they continued. Rikku took the front, smoke bomb in hand. The fiend was pacing in cavern at the end of the hall, oblivious to them approaching.

Rikku threw the smoke bomb at it. "Everyone take your positions!" Wakka, Kimahri and Tidus took the front and the girls took the back. The fiend was shrieking so loud the walls shook from the noise, and as the smoke cleared, the fiend clawed the ground. "It looks mad." Rikku swallowed hard.

"We'll be fine. Just concentrate." Lulu turned to Yuna. "Don't overdo it."

Both sides stood still, swords raised, hands ready to cast spells, waiting for someone to make a move. The fiend's eyes studied its opponents, and when they fell on Yuna, it lunged. It punctured their primary shield with little difficulty and kept going, barely slowed by the obstacle.

"Yuna!" Tidus struck it with his sword, and Wakka and Kimahri followed suit. The fiend turned around and growled before grabbing at Yuna, but the delay gave her time to summon the stronger shield. When its claws hit it and bounced off, it shrieked again, making them instinctively cover their ears. It looked ready to try again, but Lulu unleashed several balls of the non-elemental magic, leaving burn marks on its body. If it had any doubt about retreating, Rikku got rid of it when she cast thundaga from each hand, bouncing the rays of lightning off the walls. It jumped back, narrowly avoiding her spell which sizzled on contact with the ground. It appeared wounded but wasn't ready to give up. It glared at Yuna but made no move to attack her.

"Wakka, Kimahri.. You try getting behind it while I distract it," Tidus whispered. They nodded and moved off to the side, disappearing in the shadows. Tidus waved his sword at the fiend. "Hey! You want a piece of this?" He stared at it, taunting it, daring it to attack him. The moment reminded him of when he'd play blitzball in Zanarkand, the moment right before the game where he'd stare down his opponent. It would be right before the heavy strains of some rock song would start pouring through the stadium, filling the players and crowd with adrenaline. They continued to stare down one another, waiting for some silent horn to start the round.

Go now, if you want it

The imaginary timer sounded and the battle began. The Fiend attempted to slash at him, but Tidus blocked it easily. He pushed back the claw, and it struck again, this time with both "arms."

Don't you give up on it

Tidus stopped both attacks, and the fiend started attacking faster, pushing his sword skills to the limit. He quickly tossed the sword from one hand to another when an attack came from the side, then quickly brought it upwards to block an above attack.

Go now, there's no better plan, than to do or to die

On the occasion that he let a strike slip through, a shield flashed it front of him, protecting him from harm, which he was silently grateful for. Rikku and Lulu tossed in their own attacks from time to time but he barely took note of them.

Feed me, fill me with sin, and get ready to fight

He jumped as the fiend's claw slid beneath him and stabbed his sword down into it. The clawed hand pulled back and Tidus pulled his sword out of the rock floor. The momentum from the movement sent him spinning slightly, so he just went with it and spun completely around.

You know you will
You know it, you know it, you know it, you know it, that you will


As soon as he was facing the fiend again small fireballs starting coming his way. He deflected them off his sword where they bounced back to the fiend and dissolved on its shield. It threw half a dozen more with the same effect and appeared to be getting very frustrated.

You know you will...
Fight, fight, fight


His arms were starting to tire when the fiend let out a sudden shriek of pain. Kimahri and Wakka had finally made their move, which was everyone's cue to throw everything they had at it. Lulu threw several balls of the compact magic at it, then cast ultima for good measure. Rikku was keeping up a near constant flow of thunder.

Fight, fight, fight
Fight, fight, fight!

By this time the fiend was in so much pain that it resorted to flailing wildly, trying desperately to take out one of its attackers, but all this accomplished was it missing nearly all the time. The physical attackers then didn't have to worry about being hit, so they attacked freely, adding to the fiend's desperation.

Free now, ride up on it
Up to the heights, it takes you
An otherworld awaits you


Yuna was still concentrating on keeping them shielded from its stray lucky attack, but once the fiend took a moment to try to shield itself instead of attacking, she cast her holy spell. It kicked up so much dust that everyone else halted their attacks, and once it cleared, the fiend was gone. "Did we kill it?" Tidus wondered aloud.

"There were no pyreflies," Yuna mused.

"Maybe they disappeared before the smoke cleared. Or maybe it wasn't made out of them to begin with." Tidus shrugged it off without a thought. "Who cares. We defeated it!" He pumped his fist into the air.

"Yeah! We did it!" Rikku cheered.

"Nothing can stand in our way now, ya?" Wakka added. He looked over to Lulu, who was standing thoughtfully without saying a word. "Aren't you excited, Lu?"

"Not yet," she murmured, examining the cavern around her.

Tidus looked around. "I don't see anything. What are you looking for?"

Her eyes landed behind Yuna. "That," she said simply, forming another ball of dark matter in her hand. The others drew their weapons just in time to see the supposedly dead fiend materialize behind Yuna.

"Look out!" Tidus called to her but it was too late. It had wrapped its clawed hand around Yuna, who let out an involuntary yell of surprise. "Get away from her!" he yelled at it, slamming his sword into its already weakened arm.

Lulu let off her readied spell and it dropped Yuna. She backed away to a safe distance and conjured up a spell that was between the two shields she knew. One that would stay up for awhile but would be strong enough to hold it... hopefully. It raked at the shield a few times but it seemed to hold.

"How the hell did you know it was going to do that?" Tidus asked.

"Never mind that, how did it even do it?" Rikku said.

"Yuna's observation about the lack of pyreflies was correct. Have you forgotten this fiend can change into a shadow at will?"

"Oh, yeah, that."

"It's trapped now so we don't need to worry," Yuna said, trying to comfort him.

"What now? We call out the person behind this?" he asked, directing the question mostly at Lulu, who had become a leader of sorts for them. She nodded. "All right. Come on out! We know there's someone behind this! You can come to us or we can come to you," Tidus yelled out.

"As you wish," a male voice said from behind them. They all spun around, turning their backs on the fiend. The man was in the shadows wearing a dark cloak so it was impossible to discern his features. With a wave of his hand, the shield Yuna had put up was dispelled. Tidus stepped in front of her, sword readied. The man chuckled at this action and gestured at the fiend. "Leave us." It scampered out of the cavern to somewhere deeper in the series of caves, seemingly grateful for the release. "What do you want?" he asked in a monotone voice.

"That's what we came here to ask you," Lulu said.

"That's a complicated matter.. but to make it simple for you, I want her," he replied, pointing at Yuna.

"Well you can't have her!" Tidus yelled.

Rikku groaned. "Sheesh, she put up with enough of this on the pilgrimage. You'd think someone who defeated Sin forever would get a little more respect."

"I did have help," Yuna added quietly.

The man seemed intrigued by this. "Defeated Sin permanently? And managed to live?"

"You bet! Now kindly thank us, and leave us alone, will you?" Rikku said, glad to see some respect for once. Instead he just laughed. He laughed loud and long, a condescending and bitter sound.

"What's so funny?" Tidus demanded.

He finished chuckling and shook his head at him. "Do you think I care if Sin lives or dies? Do you think it affects me in the slightest? Look around you!" He gestured at the walls around them, which indeed appeared to have been touched by little more than time. "I have far more pressing things to worry about. Sin is a small matter to me."

"Like what? Destroying the world like the idiot we wasted?" Tidus scoffed.

He stepped forward into a circle of light cast down by the flickering torches on the walls. They could see his face twisted with frustration and anger.. but most of all pain. "You don't get it, do you?" he bellowed. "I do not care about your world, it does not matter!"

"What does matter to you?" Yuna asked softly, sincerely.

The man lowered his voice but did not soften it. "You. You, who has defeated the strongest menace to roam this world. You, who has brought someone back from the farplane. You take the world and mold it to your desire, and that is what matters to me. You have the power to do what I have needed to do for so long."

"What is it you need to do?" Lulu asked.

"The same thing she has done. To bring someone back from the dead."

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A/N: I know that isn't exactly how they do spells and things in the game but I needed to take a bit of a creative license with it for the sake of keeping it interesting. The song there would be a few lines from Otherworld if you hadn't figured that out.

Soo now we see a bit of the plot finally unfolding. Maybe now I'll get more than three reviews! Come on guys, I know you can do better than that. A simple "Hi, I'm reading, update soon" will suffice. I think I lost most of my readers on my long updates... oh well... Thank you very much to those three that did review.