Author's Notes: I don't want to know how long this took. I think it's better not to know. I'm just glad I finally updated it. Anyway, I hope people are still interested and I hope you enjoy what I have.
Shuyin thought his eyes were stapled shut. He couldn't even crack open an eyelid, much less do anything else. He didn't know where he was, but what he did know was that he was now on his back and on a surface more comfortable than the ground. For awhile, Shuyin saw nothing more than darkness and that darkness was occasionally sprinkled by different shades of red. He dreamt of nothing until now.
He saw her again. Lenne, flat on her back right next to him. She looked ethereal against the blue white pyreflies as she smiled at him, but it ended quickly as she suddenly lurched upward. Shuyin tried to reach for her, but he lacked the strength and found himself showered with her blood. She couldn't even scream as wounds caused by something unknown consumed her body and turned her into a puddle of something unrecognizable.
"Lenne!" Shuyin finally managed to shout, but she was no longer there. "Lenne!"
He barely woke up. Shuyin honestly didn't know if was an unsent waiting to become a fiend or already in the Farplane. All he knew for certain was that he hurt and that he could barely keep his eyes open long enough to be certain of where he was.
"Take all the time you need, child." The voice sounded like an older man, and not just any old man, but one from Bevelle. He knew from the stilted accent that the priests often had. If he weren't from Bevelle, then Shuyin would gladly eat his shoes.
Bevelle? Shuyin tried to wake up. Time? He didn't have any time. He needed to know exactly where he was, but his eyes betrayed him because they just wouldn't open enough. Despite feeling like a Shoopuff stepped all over him, he realized that his wounds were cured, which would explain why his eyes felt glued shut. Healing sleeps tended to leave one groggy.
Figures. Shuyin sighed. It was all he could do for now.
"You must be some warrior since you were able to defeat such a beast on your own." The old man's voice floated like a Pyrefly. "Are you headed for Bevelle? Don't worry, I won't hurt you. You can try and trust me."
Shuyin finally opened his eyes and looked around. He was in a cave, that was obvious enough with the ceiling and walls made of rough, grey rock. It wasn't a large cave where adventurers and spelunkers explored, just one large enough to hide or live in. Beyond the rocks, it basically looked like a typical cabin, except for the fire that burnt in the cave's center. Shuyin was on a bed, an actual bed, rather than just straw or sheets. He saw shelves full of books, food and potions. He couldn't begin to imagine how all of that got here, but he didn't care.
When he saw the man, Shuyin smiled. He didn't have to eat his shoes. So, the man wasn't old, not really. Middle aged fit him more. He wore the multi-colored robes typical of a priest and was as bald as most of them were. He also looked like someone who could more than hold his own in a battle, which would explain why the Priest stayed in the Calm Lands rather than trying to go to Djose or Killika.
"Okay, I'll try," Shuyin finally replied. "Yes, I'm headed for Bevelle."
The Priest lowered his head. "You don't seem like a spy. Either way, it's foolish to go there now."
"What's going on? Unrest?" There damned well ought to be!
"No," the man shook his head. "It's just it's heavily guarded. I have assisted Zanarkand spies and the ones that made it out haven't found anything."
"Yea, I heard," Shuyin nodded. I'll be different. I'll make it and I'll do more than just spy. "So, what are you doing here? Why are you helping Zanarkand? Aren't you committing treason? I doubt your leader would like that very much. What's your name, anyway?" He forced himself to sit up. He felt dizzy at first, but after taking a few deep breaths, he recovered and felt much better.
"You have many questions, I see." The Priest sat at a nearby desk. "I understand that. My name is Rhian. As you can see, I am a Priest of Bevelle. I used to be one of Lorelai's advisors."
Shuyin gasped. "Advisor? You can't be serious!"
"I am." Rhian continued, "Anyway, I help Zanarkand because I feel like the war is unjust."
"You do?" Shuyin couldn't have felt more elated if he floated in the air. "Does anyone else in Bevelle feel that way?" If this were the case, then maybe he'd have no need to use the new weapon against Bevelle. Just threaten to destroy it if the war doesn't end. Something like that. If the innocent are speaking out against the guilty, then it really would be the fault of the few, rather than the many.
Rhian shook his head. "No. Most people in Bevelle believed in the war. The ones who didn't are either silent or they have been forced to flee."
So much for that. Shuyin slumped forward. "But, why...there has to be people who protested."
"There were in the beginning, but like I said, they were forced to flee." Rhian shrugged, looking as dejected as Shuyin felt. "I was hoping that spies would find out more about the Bevellian weapon, but I fear it's all in vain."
"No!" Shuyin cried, forcing Rhian to suddenly sit up straight. "Don't say that. So long as we're alive, there's hope." Alive. If I don't get the hell out of here, Lenne won't be. From the looks of it, neither will anyone in Zanarkand.
"What would you do in Bevelle? I know that you intend to learn about the weapon. All anyone knows is that it exists. It should be common knowledge among the higher ups in Zanarkand now."
"It is..." Shuyin blurted out as he remembered what Lenne had told him. "They have a weapon. A huge powerful weapon. No one, not even Yu Yevon himself knows if it will be used."
"I mean no offense when I say this, but how would you know?" Rhian asked.
With a smile full of bitterness, Shuyin replied, "My girlfriend is one of the most powerful summoners in Zanarkand. You have to know who she is. She was a singer before the war. Her name is Lenne."
Rhian raised his eyebrows. "Ah, Lenne. So, you must be Shuyin. I thought you looked familiar."
"I guess you follow Blitzball." Shuyin's bitterness faded. "That's the only way you could know me. I'm pretty private in my personal life."
"Before the war, watching Blitzball was a hobby of mine." Rhian chuckled. "I wish the world's problems could be solved by playing Blitzball."
Shuyin laughed in spite of himself. "Yea, that would be nice. A lot less death and misery."
Getting back on the subject, Shuyin asked, "So what exactly do you know about the weapon? Do you have any idea as to why the spies couldn't find anything. Sorry, but I just have a hard time believing that."
"All I know is that it's basically a giant gun. It's called Vegnagun."
"Vegnagun?" Shuyin repeated. "If it's a giant gun, then it should be easy to find it."
"Oh, no." Rhian shook his head. "It's quite difficult, actually."
"How could that be?" Shuyin demanded. "If it's a giant gun, then how could it be hidden. Is it invisible or something?"
"No. It's hidden deep in Bevelle. In the Sacturary. The place is full of monsters and traps. That's why the other spies haven't been able to find anything. They're not powerful, like I believe you are."
Shuyin nodded, knowing his own strength. "I'm pretty damned powerful. I'm a warrior as well as a Blitzball player. I'm one of the best. That's not arrogance, it's fact."
"If you can defeat a Marlboro, then you certainly are powerful, but please keep in mind that it hurt you. Some of the monsters in Bevelle could easily be a match for the Marlboro. But, if it's any consolation, most of the monsters are easily avoided. Still, there are the traps, the secret passageways, the mazes. Bevelle is a deep ocean of secrets passed down from Praetor to Praetor. It doesn't help that Warrior Monks filled the place too."
"Oh gods." Shuyin found himself chuckling. "So, it's pretty damned tough, but I can handle it. I have to. I can't turn back now." Especially not with Lenne and Zanarkand in danger. I do not want my home to become a damned dream.
"No, I imagine you can't." Rhian agreed. "You must be careful though. It's dangerous to underestimate Bevelle or anyone who lives there."
"I understand. So, you say that the war in unjust. Can you tell me why this all happened? I know Yu Yevon is far from perfect, and I know about it being a trade dispute, but I can't believe he deserves all this. My people don't deserve this."
Rhian folded his hands on his lap. "Loralai had asked for Summoners to study and hopefully utilize their abilities for himself."
"What?" Shuyin couldn't believe what he was hearing. He knew that there was some kind of trade dispute that led to the war, but he never knew that it would be over something like that. "And, of course, Yu Yevon said no. Honestly, I don't blame him. The Summoners are how Zanarkand stands out and it's unique to the region. He'd never give that up. I can't imagine any Zanarkand leader that would."
"If only Loralai hadn't been so foolish. He's brilliant and strong, but young. He tried to offer machines in exchange for Summoners, but Yu Yevon certainly didn't want that." Rhian pressed his lips together. "Loralai shouldn't have asked for something so unreasonable and Yu Yevon should have allowed for some Bevellian machina. Would have helped them both, but Yu Yevon is said to be quite inflexible and he doesn't take the young seriously either."
Shuyin hung his head. "Oh no. He must have disrespected Loralai." I wish I could have seen it.
"Yes, Yu Yevon did do that. Of course, the young Praetor was not pleased and he felt like it was time to expand Bevelle's power. He had always been ambitious, so I think this was inevitable. I wish he weren't like that. It's nice to have ambition, but too much of it is not a good thing."
"I see." Shuyin couldn't bear to look at anything, except for his hands. "What did he do to you when you opposed the war?"
"He simply exiled me. Nothing more, nothing less."
"Okay." He looked up at Rhian. "Is this...Vegnagun complete?"
"Yes, it is."
His heart started pounding. "Oh shit..." Shuyin tried standing up, but he almost fainted.
Rhian also stood and held Shuyin upright. "You're not ready."
"I have to go." He insisted, trying to pull away, but Rhian was stronger than Shuyin thought. "If that weapon is complete, then Zanarkand is doomed! I can't have that!"
"I understand." Rhian held Shuyin's arm. "But, if you try to go in this condition, you'll be slaughtered."
"Time is running out! I can't stay here any longer."
"Shuyin, if they wanted to use that weapon, they surely would have by now."
Gathering what strength he had, Shuyin finally managed to pull away. "That's not the only problem. Zanarkand is losing, you know that!" He could feel himself tremble at the thought of knowing that people are dying as he is standing here with a former Priest. "Yu Yevon will not surrender, you know this." Rhian nodded. "Yes, so you know. I know it too. I also know that Yu Yevon intends to...I don't know what the hell it is, but he's going to turn Zanarkand into some kind of "Dream of the Fayth" or some shit."
Horror covered Rhian's face like a blanket. "Dream of the Fayth? Did Lenne tell you this?"
"Yes." Tears filled Shuyin's eyes, but he quickly wiped them away. "If I don't stop Bevelle, Zanarkand will be gone. Everything and everyone will be gone. I don't know what the hell would happen beyond that. Please, let me go."
Rhian moved around the cave like a scholar in a new bookstore. He handed Shuyin a potion. "Drink this. It should help. You can have as much as you can carry." He gave Shuyin a robe. "Take this. You'll need it to get into Bevelle."
"Thanks." He managed to strap his sword to his back. "This is great. It'll help." He quickly put it on and found that it covered everything and the hood covered most of his face. "Perfect." He took as many healing items he could carry and he made sure that he had sufficient ammunition for his gun. Rhian also gave him food and money, which helped a great deal. "I can't thank you enough." Shuyin bit into a chocobo sandwich and it was the best damned sandwich he ever had. I guess it's because I haven't eaten for so long.
"Believe me, it's my pleasure." Rhian pat him on the shoulder. "Remember, be careful."
"Don't worry, I will be." Shuyin quickly headed out to the entrance. Once there, he turned around and waved. "Farewell. I hope you can see me play Blitzball after all this is over."
Rhian returned the wave. "I hope so too."
Outside of the cave, Shuyin found that it was a stone's throw away from the entrance to Macalania Woods and from there, Bevelle. Great! Right before he reached the famed crystal forest, a sudden thought hit him like a ton of bricks.
Fuck! I forgot to ask Rhian what Lorelai looked like.
"Eh, fuck it. I'll find out soon enough."