Nedia began walking down the trail into the forest. The sun had just risen, and only the birds seemed to be awake. Their singing and chirping calmed Nedia down just a little. Nedia kept walking down the path, glad for the privacy of the morning. She was not ready yet to tell people what she was doing; she had had a hard enough time convincing herself to go. Her walk down the Moonflow path was uneventful, but she liked it that way. No one else was on the road, and she had not seen a single fiend.
She reached the Djose Highroad, and wondered whether or not she should travel to the temple. She was starting her pilgrimage, but she was not sure if she was 'official' or not; she did not have any guardians either. Vidina would be one; she was sure of that. Nedia figured Vidina and she could fend off any fiend together. She was mastering the art of Black Magic, and she knew a few White Magic spells as well. Vidina was an excellent athlete and blitzer; he could hit anything with his excellent accuracy. So, there was a mage and a warrior, a summoner and her guardian. She looked to her left-- Djose Temple, and then to her right-- Djose Highroad. She walked a little bit in the middle of the two, still not certain. She gave it one final thought and then chose. She picked the Djose Temple.
The temple was relatively empty. A few travellers loitered outside, and about three priests were walking around inside. One of them, the oldest, told Nedia that a summoner was inside the cloister. That was why the rocks outside the temple were levitating, he explained. Nedia smiled; she would pray here again soon and make the mushroom rock float. Nedia stayed a while longer, investigating and exploring the temple. It was very similar to the one in Besaid, but the differences were extreme. The temple on Besaid was lit with soft torches, and although it always seemed night inside, it felt warm and comforting. This temple, however, was cold. It was lit with electric blue torches, and thye seemed to give no warmth to the travellers. Nedia looked around at the statues. Both temples were the same here; the statues were stone and obstinate. She made a promise to return soon, and then left.
Like the temple, the highroad was fairly empty. Crusaders patrolled the area, disposing of fiends that might prove too difficult for some. The way they fought, the way the warriors wielded their swords and lances, made them valiant and respectable. But Sin could never be defeated by sword alone; only a summoner with the aid of a final aeon could defeat the monster. And even that was not enough.
Nedia walked sullenly down the highroad, saddened by this truth. She wanted so badly to rid Spira of Sin forever. She knew not how, but felt that through her pilgrimage she could learn. She did not want to defeat Sin for the glory, nor for the praise. She wanted to defeat it because it had killed her father – it had caused so much pain to her mother and herself. She wanted revenge, and Nedia knew her anger was strong enough to fuel her through anything Sin might throw at her.
As Nedia neared the Mushroom Rock Road, a storm blew in from the sea, and it began raining heavily. Most of the travellers dashed for cover, and the Crusaders escorted them along. But Nedia stayed walking her pace, for the rain did not affect her. It was such a simple thing, at most times beautiful; she could not see why it was feared. She looked up at the raging sky, her wet hair drooping over her eyes. A sudden burst of joy spread through her, and she began dancing with the raindrops. She smiled and laughed, and was the happiest she had been since her visit to Besaid. When she entered the Mushroom Rock Road, the Crusaders were gathering all travellers in a sheltered area. Nedia tried to continue, but they would not allow her. Reluctantly, she went and stayed until the rain abated.
Yuna woke up to sound of thunder. It usually did not bother her, since Guadosalam was so close to the Thunder Plains, but that morning it did. Unable to fall back asleep, she got up to go check on Nedia and Lex. With any luck, both would be sleeping and their constant fighting would be delayed. It was fairly early morning, but the sun was blocked by all the storm clouds. Yuna checked in on her son, Lex, first. He was sound asleep, his clothes and junk flung all over the room. Yuna sighed to herself; she would have to remember to yell at him once he was awake. She closed the door and made her way to Nedia.
On the way was their garden, and Lady Yuna stopped by for a short visit. Yesterday, Nedia seemed like she really needed to talk, and Yuna felt bad about leaving her halfway through. Her life was so busy, with a family, her husband a maester, plus all of the publicity of being the first high summoner to live. It was not as bad at first, but after seventeen years and still being pestered, Yuna was getting fed up. But she was too polite to say no, and so the visitors kept arriving. She gazed back onto the garden and saw her daughter's special flowers, the orange roses. Nedia did not know it, but those flowers were special to Yuna, too. They were reminders of Nedia's father, Tidus. After Nedia's birth, mother and toddler daughter had returned to Zanarkand. Yuna, still a summoner, entered the Chamber of the Fayth with Nedia. On the ground where Yuna had died, where he had struck a deal with the fayth, where the two lovers spent their last night, and where he faded away, were flowers. They were roses, orange. Nedia had walked over to them, and although not knowing the significance of the room, asked if they could take the flowers home. Yuna smiled at her, and nodded. Yes, she had said.
Tears beginning to drip down her face, Yuna stood up and went to Nedia's room. She opened the door and could not see anything, for it was too dark. When she lit the room, and looked closer, she saw Nedia was gone. A little worried, Yuna looked around some more, when she found a small sphere. She picked it up and watched it.
She set it down, her face pale and eyes wide. "No," she whispered to herself, somehow hoping Nedia could hear. "Don't. Please." Her tears began streaming down her face. She was sad, but proud, too. She was proud that her daughter was going on a pilgrimage to help Spira, but Nedia's abrupt leave and knowing the fate of her only daughter, a living memory of him, caused sadness and pain. Yuna remembered how resolved she had been on her pilgrimage, and knew that nothing she could do would stop Nedia. She cried all that morning, wishing she had at least been able to say good-bye.
Nedia continued along the Mushroom Rock Road. Crusaders darted in and out of the nooks and were yelling all sorts of orders to each other and passers-by. Obviously they were preparing for some sort of event or attack, but Nedia was not sure what it would be. She looked over her shoulder towards the beach, and saw them hauling around large machina. Machina were originally banned completely, except for a few handguns, but since the defeat of Sin seventeen years ago, the ban had waned. More and more machina had become acceptable for followers of Yevon. It made for a closer bond with the Al Bhed, masters of machina, but there was still plenty of tension left. Nedia watched from above as the Crusaders and Al Bheds moved the machina around the beach, aiming everything towards the water. Nedia wondered if Sin was around here, and if they were planning to attack it. But as she already knew, their plan would fail; it had to. If Sin really could be destroyed by machina, then it would have happened already. Nedia pitied them; they were planning for their deaths.
She kept walking, keeping all her thoughts and insights to herself. The trail was actually very pretty, the rock formed into intricate patterns. They did look much like mushroom heads, flat and round like pancakes. But Nedia did not notice for she was too absorbed in her thoughts. She had to travel to Besaid, the southernmost tip of Spira, without attracting too much attention for fear of being sent back to Guadosalam. Then on Besaid, she would have to convince Vidina to become her guardian. She figured that would be the easiest part of the whole journey, but convincing his parents probably would not. After that, she would begin the pilgrimage, journeying around Spira, praying at the temples, and receiving the fayths' gifts of aeons. Put in this perspective, the whole thing did not seem that hard, but Nedia was aware that unexpected risks could arise.
She looked up, and found herself out of the Mushroom Rock Road. During her inner musing, she had entered the Mi'ihen Highroad without realizing it. She saw some more Crusaders planning for their attack, and said a short prayer to Yevon for their safety. She then continued the long journey down the Mi'ihen Highroad.
… … … … … … … …
Nedia was on the small boat bound for Besaid. It was nighttime, and it was much like the night of her journey back home earlier that year. The waves were calm, the gulls quiet, and the moon bright. And Nedia's sadness was there, too. Her longing for her father seemed to be especially strong when she was in two places: the waters around Besaid, and her garden. Often when she would be by herself in the manor's garden, the need for her true father would emerge, despite all she did to suppress it. Somehow, in her two places of greatest peace and comfort, her sadness seemed the strongest as well. But unlike last time, Nedia knew that she would find her father. Someone was bound to know who he was since her mother, Lady Yuna, was so famous. Encouraged by her resolve, Nedia went down below and slept peacefully.
She woke up before most of the other passengers and went above deck. It was morning, and the sun was shining brightly as the gulls circled overhead. Nedia looked off the side and saw an island, Besaid.
She walked down onto the beach, trying to avoid anyone who might know who she was. She was not expected, so Vidina, Lady Lulu, or Sir Wakka was not there to greet her. She managed to slip by without detection and she let out a sigh of relief as she entered the forest. She had two options: she could travel the normal road, and follow the path to Besaid village, or she could take the shortcut through the lagoon. She walked over to the lagoon, high above it on a grassy outcropping. She saw a few lilies and she remembered how Vidina had moved most of them to their hideout. She smiled, reminiscing about all of the fun that had had together. And now she had come to whisk him away on their greatest one yet. She slipped out of her clothes and into swimwear. Nedia then carefully hid her bag of items, since she did not want them to get soaked, and dove into the lagoon.
She swam around for a little bit, glad to be alone and not worry about anything, if for but one moment. She swam over to the hideout, and dove underwater to get inside. She resurfaced and found it the exact same as before. But that was good, for Nedia liked the way it was. She walked onto the little shore and lay down. The sand was warm and comfortable and Nedia almost fell asleep on it. But she did not, for she was kept awake by the sound of splashing and dripping water. She opened her eyes to see a shocked blitzer. She just gave him a stare and smiled coyly. She got up and brushed the sand off of her.
"Well, aren't you at least going to say hello?"
She did not respond. She figured her smile was good enough. Besides, she had limited time to explain herself to Vidina; she did not have time for formalities. "Look, I know this is unexpected, but…" Nedia paused, searching for the right words. "I need your help. I know I'm asking a lot, but please say yes."
Vidina was on the little shore now, too, and he was sitting on a rock. "Before I say anything, how did you get here?"
She sighed and looked down at the sand. She knew he would say something like that. "Look that isn't important. I need you to help me. I'm beginning my pilgrimage, and I want you to be one of my guardians."
Vidina was, to say the least, completely shocked. He was so surprised, he fell of the rock and into the shallow water. He was rubbing his head and squinting. "Ow!" He walked over to Nedia and wrapped his arms around her, something that was unexpected, too. "I'm glad to see you, too. Thanks for asking."
She smiled and said with her eyes she was sorry. He gave her a quick peck on the forehead and then led her to a rock. They both sat down, next to each other and Vidina holding her hands. "Okay, tell me what has happened. Why you think you need to pilgrimage! Why you came here! Everything!" She nodded and began.
"Last time I was here, I had this dream. It might have been a vision, or maybe it really happened. I was in the Chamber of the Fayth, and it talked to me. The fayth said I had the skills needed to vanquish Sin. It made me a summoner, I think. And, I figure during my pilgrimage, I'll be able to find out about my father. So, will you come?" Nedia asked, batting her eyelids at the end.
Vidina laughed. He went scooted over next to her and hugged her. She was resistant at first, not used to so much affection. But she rested her head on his shoulder and he whispered to her, "Of course I will. What are friends for?"
Vidina let go of the embrace and looked her in the eyes. "Now, how am I going to explain this to my parents? You can't just be seen around the village…"
Nedia added her thoughts. "Well, here's where I need another favor. I could say out here, until we leave. You could bring me some food, right?"
He smiled and nodded. "Yah, I can do that." He held her hands and the two slid off the rock. He led her to the water's edge and bent down, so that he was resting on the back of his legs. Nedia bent down too, wondering what Vidina was looking at. He moved his hand into the water slowly, ripples barely forming. She kept watching, and waiting for him to talk again. He scooped his hand and put it underwater. Vidina suddenly flung the handful of water at Nedia, splashing her face.
"Hey! What was that for?" Nedia inquired. Her face was not all that wet, but that was not the point.
Vidina smiled, trying to charm his way out of it. "Ah, c'mon. I was just playing."
But Nedia was not in the mood, and she snarked back, "Well, I hope you're in the mood for this!" and she sprayed him with a Watera spell. He was drenched, and Nedia began smiling for his face was hilarious.
"Fine," he muttered, "but no lunch for you." And he dove into the water and began swimming away. Nedia did not want to miss lunch, and she had to do something about that cocky attitude, so she dove in after him. Unfortunately, she was not in as prime condition as him, nor as good of a swimmer. Vidina could practice year round, and he did since his dream was to be a professional blitzer. He must have been slacking though, because Nedia caught up with him right before the shoreline that led to the village. She tackled him into the sand and then lay next to him. Vidina turned over and looked at Nedia. She was rather beautiful, despite all her efforts to cover her body. Of course, being in a bathing suit, that was hard to do. Still, her moody and sad attitude often made her appear less attractive, but Vidina was able to see past that, because he was able to see the true Nedia, the carefree spirit hiding behind the gloomy surface. "You win. I'll get you lunch."
Vidina got up and left her lying on the sand. He entered the small village and made a beeline to his hut. He got inside and called his father over. Wakka ambled out of the other room and smiled to his son. He caught Vidina in a chokehold and noogied him. "Hah, that's my boy," he said as Vidina got out of it.
"Dad, I need some advice from you. You might want to sit down," Vidina said, sitting down himself. Wakka did too, and his playful smile left his face. "Well, Nedia…."
… … …
"So, you wanna be her guardian, that it?" The son nodded, relieved that his dad was taking it so well. "Well, then there not much I can do. You can go. It'd be best, ya."
Vidina went to leave when his father called him back. "Here, take this. It'll come in handy." Wakka handed his son a blitzball. "That's the ball we used to win the cup seventeen years ago. It's lucky."
Vidina knew what that cup had meant to his father. "Dad," he said, tears beginning to form, "thanks." He hugged his dad.
"Now, go, I'll tell your mother later. She's not gunna like this, but that's okay. Go!"
Vidina gave the retired blitzball player and guardian a hug and left the tent. Wakka sighed and said a short prayer. "May Yevon be with you."
Wakka sat in the hut, thinking of what to tell Lulu. He got his chance an hour or so before sunset. "Lu, I gotta tell ya something." She stopped what she was doing and looked over to her husband. "It's about Vidina. He's… gone. He left earlier today." She looked at him, trying to decipher if he was joking or not. He was not.
"What do you mean, Wakka? He just left? And you let him go?" Lulu questioned.
"Sorta," Wakka responded, waving his hand back and forth, "he left to be a guardian, Lu."
"A guardian! Wakka, be serious. He's only sixteen! And who would…"
"Nedia, she's a summoner, ya," Wakka answered before Lulu could finish.
She walked over to her husband and stared at him. "Wakka, you know the dangers of being a guardian, why did you let him go?" Lulu was serious, and she was very worried for her son.
"It seemed like the right thing, Lu. I had this feeling, ya. Like a sign from Yevon or something. He's got to go. I just know it."
Lulu knew what he was talking about, the strange feeling of knowing something for certain. They had felt that way on their pilgrimage seventeen years ago. Still, Lulu had doubts and worried over what might happen. She wished she had been here to try to talk him out of it. He was just sixteen, and Nedia only seventeen. She wondered if Yuna and Seymour knew of their daughter's plans.
Lulu sat down next to Wakka and leaned her head on his shoulder. "I'm just so worried. Isn't there anything we can do?" Wakka was thinking the same question, but neither of them could think of any answers.
… … … … … … … …
After Vidina had left his hut, he brought some food with him to the hideout, and the couple shared lunch. Nedia got up to leave, and Vidina went to follow. "It's time. Let's see if this is really happening," she said as they walked towards the village. She had put her normal clothes back on, so she was slightly less recognizable.
They had made it to the temple steps without being questioned. They entered, and immediately could feel the change in temperature. The temple was much cooler, and darker, than outside. She walked to the steps, and prayed before walking up them. No one seemed to pay them heed, and the summoner and guardian entered the Cloister of Trials. It pitch black, but Nedia could still see where she was going. She touched the stone wall, and a glyph appeared, opening the doorway. Vidina was surprised, himself not being able to see anything. She flashed him a small smile and walked past the newly opened doorway. Vidina soon followed.
This area was slightly more lit, with Yevon characters illuminated on the walls. Nedia had been studying a book on Yevon script, but she was worried about being caught and did not try to decipher the walls. They saw empty sphere recesses, but finding no spheres to fill them with, continued onward. The two reached a dead end and stopped.
"So, now what? Do we turn back?" Vidina asked.
"No," she replied, "we can go farther. I've been here before. I just need to remember what to do." Nedia began moving her hand around on the stone surface, trying to find something. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary; just stone and cracks. She sighed, frustrated. "Just give me another minute; I'll get it."
Vidina leaned up against the wall, not knowing at all what to do. He felt something move, and figured he just leaned on it awkwardly. But when he turned around, he saw that the stones had moved. His back had activated a glyph. "I think I found it." Nedia turned around to see the open passage. She walked to it and in, leaving Vidina behind. "Hey! Aren't you going to thank me?" he asked as he caught up to her.
"We don't have time. Remind me to thank you later."
"Fine," he said, folding his arms and pretending to pout, "I will."
She rolled her eyes and proceeded onward. This was the inner sanctum, the farthest a guardian could travel. She walked up the steps to the entrance of the Chamber of the Fayth. She looked back, and saw Vidina looking at her. He wished her good luck, and she walked in.
The room was small, dark, and round. A glowing circle lay in the middle, and underneath it was some sort of statue or picture. It was of a person, but strange wings were coming out of it. Nedia tried to get a closer look, but the circle glowed and prevented her. A little boy materialized above the glowing circle. "Welcome summoner. Your journey begins now. You have proven yourself worthy, and as a gift, we offer you this aeon."
The circle glowed again, and the young boy disappeared. The statue in the ground began to rise, shining brighter and brighter. The light faded, and the person had transformed into a bird-like dragon. It had a pink red mane and large purple wings. On one wing was a chain of piercings, and it had short stubby legs. It roared, and Nedia covered her face in fear.
"Do not be afraid," the boy spoke again, "this is your first aeon. It is Valefor, master of the skies. Use our gift wisely, and this aeon will prove to be a worthy friend."
Nedia nodded. Valefor roared again, but this time it was friendlier and it seemed to be saying hello. "Hello," Nedia called. It roared in delight and then faded away. Nedia was left in the small room now, the only light the faintly glowing circle on the ground.
"So, it finally begins. There is no turning back now."
Nedia gave the sign of prayer and left the tiny, holy room. Vidina walked up to her, curious. "So, is the fayth with us? What does the room look like? The fayth?" he bombarded Nedia with questions.
She kept walking, not bothering to answer his questions. She figured he did not need to know, and she left it at that. The two left the inner room and walked back through the cloister. They emerged from it to find the temple empty. Both were relieved and glad that no one was there to question them. They still were afraid one of their parents would come to get them; Nedia still was unsure about her summoner status. But she had received an aeon from the fayth, and that was enough proof. The two said a quick prayer and walked outside to the sunny afternoon. Vidina quickly rounded up his stuff and the pair headed to the beach. A boat headed for Kilika was leaving soon, and the two needed to catch it. Otherwise, they would have to wait until morning for the next boat.
The two reached the beach. A few travellers were mulling about and they walked towards the dock. Before they boarded, they both looked back at the tropical island. They took last glimpses at the jungle and the tiny fishermen's huts. They were trying to remember everything here, so they would not forget. This was to be their last visit; it was time for them to say the final goodbye to Besaid. "We'll never forget you," the two murmured in unison. Nedia looked into Vidina's eyes, and both saw the tears forming. He gave a small smile and wrapped his arm around her.
"C'mon. Let's go. It's going to be okay." He escorted her to the boat and dropped their bags. They looked again for one last time as the ferry pulled away from the serene island. Vidina began crying, and Nedia would have to if she had not held it back with everything.
"It's okay," she said, trying to soothe Vidina and herself. "Everything will be okay. You'll come back, don't worry."