Grey fog eclipsed the sea. Sun-drenched Besaid served up beautiful sunsets, but dawn was a dark, cold, and clammy affair. Gulls wailed unseen above the crumbling limestone cliffs, and raindrops pecked the bare curve of the beach along with countless bird-tracks. The murmur and mutter of conversation among fishermen putting out for the day barely reached Kimahri above the sound of the surf.
The looming giant from Gagazet was standing where the salt-caked boards of the dock met sand, leaving the islanders in peace as they bustled among bumping boats, inured enough to his presence by now that they no longer took any more notice of him than the pilings. They had found him there that morning gazing out to sea, watching the heave and sigh of the shrouded breakers. There he apparently meant to spend the day, keeping vigil. But the faint whisper of sand crunching beneath bare feet did not escape the Ronso's sharp ears, and he turned as soon as Lulu stepped onto the neck of beach behind him.
Kimahri came loping towards her at once, spear in hand. "Trouble with Yuna?"
Lulu shook her head. "No... no, she's sleeping." They exchanged a knowing glance. Prior to the pilgrimage, the young Summoner had often roused before the priests to study or practice before dawn prayers. "I just wanted to say goodbye."
The Ronso rumbled quizzically. "Said goodbye last night."
"See you off, then." Lulu glided towards the dock, and he turned to pad beside her, one stride to her two. Silence being a larger part of their fellowship, they measured five and ten before she spoke again. "Yuna's journey is finally finished, but your pilgrimage has just begun."
Used to human's need for speech, Kimahri gave no reply or acknowledgment. He halted at the base of the dock and drew himself to attention again, eyes fixed on ocean and beyond.
The sorceress resumed her place at his elbow one last time, thoughts drifting vaguely back to their long vigil outside Valefor's Chamber of the Fayth. "They will probably make you elder. Are you prepared for that?"
"Kimahri still hornless."
"Vindicated." She shook her head. "Lord Braska and Sir Auron were disgraced before their pilgrimage. We were branded traitors to Yevon. Past sin is erased when Sin falls. All Spira saw you standing at Yuna's right hand in Luca Stadium. The Ronso will not spurn you any longer."
He shrugged. "Kimahri do what Ronso need of him."
"I know." She folded her arms and turned towards the water, where the boats were casting off from pilings. "Duty, oaths. But remember why Yuna wanted to bring the Calm. For others to be happy."
"Kimahri happy guarding Yuna."
The mage smiled faintly. "Yes. Exactly."
"Yuna needs no Guardians any more."
Lulu exhaled. "No." The hulking Ronso, of all people, would perhaps understand the faint tone of regret. "Friends, however..." She stopped and shook her head. "No, I understand. Your people need you."
A ship's horn sounded over the waves, still far out to sea. There was a pale golden light all around them now; the sun was beginning to burn through. Kimahri's tail lashed once in anticipation.
A smile touched the mage's lips, noting the gesture. "You want to go home," she murmured, finally relaxing.
"Besaid also home." His golden eyes glinted. "Kimahri hope Lulu find home soon."
"Excuse me?" She peered up at him.
The spear's end thumped against the boards. "Three years, Lulu Guardian. Home is road. Besaid is running away."
She gave a rueful laugh. "Well. Yes."
"Ronso glad to see High Summoner again, when Yuna ready to travel," Kimahri stated. "Lulu and Wakka with her."
Lulu snorted. "Wakka? He'll be right back in blitzball soon enough. But you're right, another journey may help Yuna. Assuming we can find a way to travel without half of Spira turning out to see her."
Kimahri's deadpan was familiar enough by now to bring a smile. "Lulu guard Yuna from Spira."
"Yes." She nodded firmly. "I will. Don't worry. As long as she needs."
The spine-jarring thump of the Ronso's paw on her shoulder reminded her vaguely of Sir Auron. Lulu gritted her teeth as the S.S. Winno's green sail emerged from the mist. "Kimahri, I..." She chided herself for sentimentality, coughed, and finished carefully, "Thank you for watching over us all this time. Yuna was not the only one you were guarding."
"Kimahri happy guarding Lulu, Wakka, Chappu." He grunted. "Even when you burn tail."
"Sorry," Lulu chuckled. "You were so patient."
Slowly, slowly, the ferry chugged towards the dock. Kimahri turned back, inhaling deeply through his nose, drinking in the whiff of beach and seawater, and the rich layered symphony of the jungle's many scents carried on the damp air. So many times on their journey together, fellow Guardians had waited while Yuna paused to gather in one last glimpse of the lands they had passed over. Now--
Now had been more than enough goodbye, apparently. The giant roused himself, gave a soft chuff, and loped towards the other end of the dock to help with the mooring-ropes as the sailors gathered on the approaching ferry's front deck to leap ashore. Lulu sighed, gathered her skirts, and stepped onto the sand, a solitary black-clad figure drifting unnoticed back towards the forest.
Soon, she promised him silently. Yuna will visit soon.