chuckled lightly, her eyes unreadable. "If I were inside, I'd miss the
new moon. I--" She left the unfinished sentence wisp out with a sigh.
Kimahri winced at the things she didn't say. Yuna relaxed, hands
falling at her side, the gooseflesh smoothed from her bare shoulders.
Ronso potion is good. Works fast. It was an easy night, moonless and
windless. And he could not help but notice how the drape of Yuna's gown
mimicked the lay of the snow on Gagazet. The Ronso believe the Gagazet
snows started falling at Zanarkand's eve and
had accumulated ever since, never melting. It was said the mountain below the clinging snows was not rock-grey as all the other ranges in Spira, but rather glimmered with countless gems and precious stones. Gagazet's modesty, it was called. "I've always wanted to see where you came from, Kimahri. You know all about Besaid. And Bevelle. But you've never...My father, I mean, told me stories about 'the noble folk of Gagazet'." As she always did when she quoted her father, Yuna lowered and softened her as she intoned 'the noble folk', something of a subconscious mimicry of him. "He'd never been here before his pilgrimage, but he was learned. He read so many books about your culture and festivals..."
Her father. High Summoner Braska. In his glummest thoughts, Kimahri questioned if the girl's father was truly worthy of such decoration. Should a man that would knowingly and willingly leave his offspring as an orphan be honored as High Summoner? His Ronso blood bubbled hot in frustration over the Yevonites' concept of honor. But of course, as a Ronso, he too was a Yevonite. And so he must accept the title and respect the memory. Braska brought the calm to Spira and so to himself, the highest of honors.
Indeed, so long among humans he had been, and so distant from the chill of Gagazet was Besaid that he was less of a Ronso than he had ever been. He was happy here, of course, utterly and doubtlessly. But still there were times that would take him back to the frost-bitten valley village where he was born. He'd think about Biran and Yenke and wonder if they'd embarked upon the sacred Ronso Journeys yet. No doubt they'd leave together –the Journeys were often the only time Ronsos ever saw Spira outside the village. Before the horn-molt, Kimahri and Biran had sworn to journey together. Now, long absent from his home village, Kimahri held Ronso cultural trappings such as the once sacred Journeys in weak regard His people had long since stopped their nomadic ways to settle as guardians to the holy mountain. The Journeys only existed as a hollow tribute to less honorable generations of Ronso. Distance had shown him the foolishness of Ronso ways. Kimahri was happier here, yes. Besaid was a languid little place, if a bit warm for his hide. But it was mostly peaceful, with a sparse fiend population and rare Sin attacks, due to an even sparser human population. Still, there existed things far more dangerous than fiends on this remote isle.
He was twenty-three and she was fifteen. She trusted him unquestionably, from outside to in and he trusted her more than himself. And very, very slowly he had fallen in love with her. Silently and solidly, he ached for the girl to and for whom he had sworn eternal protection. He hated himself to even think upon it and tried vainly to recast the feelings as devotional, familial love. But she simply was not family, and Kimahri knew that in every part of him.
She was so young. Yes, Yuna had always carried herself as an age years beyond what she truly possessed. And no, such a relationship would not be against the teachings. However, that same warrior blood that made him question the honor of even a High Summoner would relentlessly sear him when he thought of his young charge in such a manner. So he held everything at a distance. Even when Yuna came to him, shaking with the effort of holding herself together so that no-one could know that she wasn't always and absolutely emotionally stalwart (and by consequence not summoner material). Even when she trusted only him to hold her as she wept into the downy fur at his base of his throat and confided how much she mourned for Chappu and how she feared she'd lost Lulu and Wakka to another pilgrimage. Even when he burned at the cruelty of this Sin-cursed world and the selfishness of the girl's friends and family. Even then? Kimahri could do nothing but cautiously, patiently untie every tingling and wonderful emotion linked with each hot tear that made its way to his skin through his fur. He disassembled each physical gesture, every absent caress and shuddering clutch, to the driest bare bone. Every feeling was uprooted before it might offer blossom or bud. He remained a guardian and nothing more.
And despite such careful unraveling, Kimahri still had vivid nightmares about a vengeful Legendary Guardian crawling from beyond the Farplane to punish the Ronso who had tarnished his dying oath with such disgusting thoughts.
Even now on the pilgrimage, Kimahri still had those dreams --even as a very farplane-unsent Auron constantly affirmed and reaffirmed only respect and graciousness toward his Ronso counterpart. Still, Kimahri could not help but twitch with a suspicious fear, wondering what insight or powers death might grant.
Yuna stilled her breath then, and listened. Sounds echoed well here, slapping from rock-face to rock-face. On the quietest of nights, the sharp-eared Ronso could hear the scritchy burrowing of snow mice below the village commons. Yuna's ears could not mistake the sound of music, set to an unfamiliar but unmistakable rhythm. "Kimahri, I hear--"
"A song. For Yuna. For all summoners." Kimahri looked away from the direction of the bells and fifes. He hadn't wanted her to witness this. He knew the song well –when he was young, it was an exciting privilege to go out with the village women to sing to passing summoners under the starlight. It had filled him with warmth and belonging. And yet that glow always cooled a little when the summoner never again passed through their village, never descended from the mountain and never vanquished Sin. The elders would never speak of the ill-fated summoner again, but Kimahri was of a keen mind and memory. He hadn't wanted her to see this because she didn't need to see this. It was more for the Ronso, anyway. It eased their sleep a little, knowing they had done a bit to comfort a summoner's party marching down their trail of death.
But then, Kimahri saw. Yuna was smiling the first real and unforced smile since they'd entered the Calm Lands. Five overly-ornamented Ronso women were leading the chorus, adorned with every decoration their clan had earned in the past five generations. All the village children of proper age were flanking the women, outfitted with ankle-bells and fifes. The voices and the instruments lifted together in the song Kimahri could still probably sing.
Once stood a peak so proud and fair--
Crested with crystal and peerless jewels!
Many a warriors did break in prayer--
'Til the snows blew in, ceaseless and cruel!
was dancing now. It was not the summoner's dance, the sweep of her arms
were not weighted by responsibility and the curve of her back did not
stutter in grief. He hadn't seen her dance with such wanton, only for
the sake of dance, since before she started her
summoner's training. When she was fifteen and he was twenty-three. Upon catching Kimahri's eyes, she raised her palms skyward as if to summon.
One thousand years of snow did fall--
Never to melt 'til our people's hearts are true!
Now the summoner's heed Zanarkand's call--
So the Ronso babes may see Gagazet renew!
When the chorus had presented Yuna with the gift of a precious Snow Blossom and traditional well-wishings, the villagers took their leave to return to their homes, still keeping the melody and rhythm in their bells and fifes as they faded from range.
Yuna embraced her Ronso guardian, nudging into his fur-warm chest. "Thank you, Kimahri. That was…inspiring. I will do this. With you by my side. For your people. For all people."
A sudden growling in the Ronso's chest startled Yuna and she pulled away. Kimahri looked at her with a silent cry of grief. This was one of their final moments. Perhaps his last to be alone with her. All these years... Hesitantly, the guardian placed a large paw on his summoner's shoulder. "No, Yuna. Kimahri's people are not Ronso." Then, stooping so that they might be on a similar level, he pulled her close to his thrumming chest. "Kimahri's people here." He gently squeezed her shoulders for emphasis. "Yuna is Kimahri's people."
She looked up to see the seriousness in his golden eyes. She laid her head against him, with a smile on her face. She was the only one he loved, and he accepted her impending death, because he was a pious Yevonite. And even as she stirred closer into him, with her warm breath leaving drops of condensation on his cool outercoat, he did not kiss her because he was an honorable warrior, a valiant oathkeeper, and a good Ronso.