Hey people! It's Silverlocke980 here, with a new Esper chapter! This time around, it's Cuchulainn, the Impure. Wow, the fat flabby bastard's a bit wrong, ain't he? You look at the other Espers, and most of them look... well... not exactly normal, but not monstrous either.
You take one look at Cuchulainn and your first thought is, " I'm gonna have to kill him." It's not the fact he's got no eyes, it's not the fact that he's got a damn spear stuck through his skull, it's not even the fact that he's the green color of decaying mold and foul things.
It's the fact he's grinning the whole time.
Ah! Welcome, welcome. Enter my domain. Come in, sit down, I haven't had a visitor in ages.
Ignore the sludge. It's quite comfortable once you get used to it.
So, your name is Fran, aye? My summoner! I haven't had a summoner since I don't remember when. Let's look at you for a minute, shall we?
A Viera! My, my, no wonder you can come here, you bunny-eared girls always were closer to the Mist than anyone else. And my word! You've been so busy, you hot little thing, you. Taking on empires and traveling with princesses and even falling in love with a sky pirate. Such a busy, busy life.
...What's that? You want to know where the hell you are?
Oh, naughty, naughty. Good little girls don't say curse words, Fran, how could you act out so? Naughty, naughty.
As for your question, though... this sewer, this pile of muck with no doors, just great glass mirrors...
It's my home.
I'm not quite like the other Espers, you see, darling one. For I...
I am a god. A deity of filth, foulness, the most disgusting evils vomited forth by the endless gullet that is mortal kind, spewed forth onto this wretched land like discharge from an open wound. I am rape, my dear. I am murder, I am every child abused by her father, or his father, some men aren't picky about that. I am... incredible things, my dear, so much rot and hate and disaster it would choke you to look on it.
Speaking of which, it's nearly choking you now, isn't it? Just looking on me, on all I am, is causing your mind to break. Your very heart and soul, rejecting the viciousness of this place, rejecting the very look of me, the sight of me and all I am..,
Don't try to run away, beautiful one, because I'm in your mind now, and soon I'll be in your soul, too...
An inn in Nalbina. Midnight.
Fran snapped awake. Viera have three hearts, and therefore they do not often experience what other races refer to as their "heart racing"- but Fran could feel all three of them, pumping like her very life depended on it. The sort of pumping only fear could provide.
Just what was that place? What just happened to her?
She sat up in bed and looked around. It was her room in the inn, one she shared with Balthier. She was back in the physical world, at least, away from the Mist-place that the Esper had dragged her to. What was that? Espers shouldn't have that kind of power, to exert actual physical influence over their summoner.
Fran had known something was different- something wrong- about the flabby Esper-beast they'd found hiding in the sewers of Rabanastre, taking up a hunch on a prayer that the rumor they'd heard was true. Ashe was desperately trying to gather each Esper up so that they would have some kind of firepower to hurl at Vayne when they finally reached him. Already they'd spent a month following up rumors, ideas, half-heard hauntings in an attempt to find the Death Seraph, Zalera, and when they'd found him summoning the dead in a lonely tunnel, Ashe had ordered Fran to enter into contract with him. Ashe had finally noticed that the Viera had strictly refrained from becoming a summoner up to that point. Truth was, Fran didn't want the connection; unlike a Hume, she didn't have the innate barriers, the purely physical nature, that afforded her companions protection from the very forces they employed. The Viera connection to the Mist was blessing and curse. Had it happened earlier in the journey, Fran would have refused and left and Balthier went with her.
Still, by this point, they were Ashelia's servants and they damn well knew it. Fran and Balthier had to keep helping the princess, had to restore Dalmasca- if they didn't, they'd never have a safe port again. They'd revealed too much of themselves to the Empire in the course of this journey, were too well known to it now, and they would never be able to safely port at the Empire ever again. Putting in at Bhujerba for the rest of their lives had little appeal, but an entire kingdom in their debt... now that would be a big enough place to lose their pursuers in. The fact it bordered the Empire, their favorite hunting grounds for fat cargo ships with few defenses, was just an added bonus.
So Fran accepted and became a summoner. Zalera was very, very unusual- she'd talked to the spirit-being through the link they shared, and found out his story- but all in all, the death creature was quiet, calm, and very controllable. Most days, Fran didn't even notice that she'd become a summoner.
So when this creature had finally been put down, after attempting to rot out their bodies- Penelo had fallen screaming my foot, something's happened to my foot and when Fran had glanced over while reloading her gun, she'd seen that the blonde desert child had no foot, it'd rotted clean away- Fran had volunteered. She'd thought, with something so strange, so wrong, that she'd be able to handle it, her Viera nature giving her better control over the Esper. Zalera hadn't been so difficult, so why should this... Cuchulainn?... be any different?
The first faint feeling of fear tugged in her heart, and Fran wondered just what she'd see when she fell back asleep.
Back in Cuchulainn's Cathredral.
Well, hello again, gorgeous! Good to have you back. I was starting to miss you. When you've had so little company for such a long time, why, even the most minor of guests is a treat to treasure, and you are certainly far above that!
Ah, you're curious as to why you went straight back here when you fell asleep again. Well, honey, I'm sure you've figured this out by now, but I'm not the kind of creature who's only going to mess with you when it adds dramatic tension to the plot. Nope, beautiful, I'm going to be in your head every single second you're asleep, sitting here, talking to you, having a grand old time, eating up your soul, bit by bit.
Would you like something to drink while you're here? I was created by the gods to eat the filth of the world, and I've simply become ever more fond of it since then. Rape is one of my personal favorites, but since you're new to the dish, you'd probably rather start with something a bit less refined. Rape is a subtle flavor, darling, the sort of thing that has so many variations and influences it's hard to tell where it begins or ends.
Oh, and it's not just rape, of course. Really, I describe a whole category of things as rape, because that's the most obvious example of it. Men keep women down, you know this as well as I do, and they punish them for stepping out of line, and that, my darling, is part of what I call rape.
Oh, how many delicious flavors they are! You Viera suffer the worst for it, dear. Your entire race is this aesthetic ideal, of the perfect woman- oh, what long lovely legs, what beautiful shapely faces, what firm, pleasing curves. Male Humes have so many fantasies about raping your kind, about just taking you, that I could sit here and drink a river made of it. Let's not even get started on what those same Humes think about those of their own race, that's enough to drive a soul mad.
It did drive me mad, at that, actually, it's why I'm the way I am now. I have no eyes, my dear, because I tore them out- when I saw all that mortals had done, continue to do, I could not bear to look at it and threw them away. This was before my ascendance, of course. Now I see through the mirrors of my cathredral, my dear, see all the million and one evils of humanity right before my blind face.
This weapon in my head, this great spear, is Zodiark's attempt to bind me- not entirely successful, for am I not talking to you now? I am fat in form for I eat of filth, and the tide of it is such that it makes gloriously obese. And I smile, my dear, because I have seen the real face of mortals, and before it, everything seems funny- all light, all good, pales before this gleaming madness.
Trying to escape again? I'll tell you what- since I am a kind god, I will give you one night's reprieve. Tell your loved ones you care for them. Tell them all how beautiful they are, how wonderful. Tell them, too, of my benevolence, my glorious gratitude. I once had many worshippers, and I would hear the prayers of my faithful again.
I will await your return, beautiful one.
The next night.
It is hard, to plan something so mad, so insane, and then act it out; but Fran went to bed that night determined and able, having told no one of what was going on in her head or of the war she planned to wage that night.
She'd been right, in the sewers, to absorb this beast. For if Fran was right, there was only one thing to do about it, and she was the only one in their group who could.
She fell asleep some time after midnight, and the war began.
Ah! So! You are back again, aren't you? I must say, I'm impressed. Admittedly, I did give you a reprieve, but usually just looking upon me is enough to drive a mortal soul mad. Even talking with you as I did was not enough to pierce the fragile shell of morality and thought that protects your pink, fleshy brain. That is truly impressive, my dear; I have shattered better souls with less than this.
...Are you attacking me? Oh, my dear, that really won't do, when did you learn to fight like that? Don't you remember what I said? Women who act assertive, who try to be part of the world, who try to live- they are pushed down, punished. What are you doing acting on your own?
...It looks like I'll have to do this the hard way. You came here bearing weapons of Mist against me- don't you know this is my home, my Cathredral? I am a god, my dear, and nowhere more so than here. Your waves of ice, your flip kicks bearing energy, your furious blows... they are as nothing to me.
Dream of slip-shod symphonies of nothing and the feeling of hard, hot hands pawing at your breasts and you can't escape, you can't run, they are everywhere and they want you and...
What is this, Viera? What is this? My abilities- they don't affect you? But... but I...
...No matter. I sense the bonding spell you are starting to forge and I will go along with it. I don't know why my abilities failed to work on you, Fran, and I don't really care.
Because I am in your mind now, and nothing you do after that matters or makes a difference. I have corrupted every single simpleton who has ever made a pact with me. I have turned them mad and set them on the course of destruction and made them ruin their lives, their families' lives, their own hopes and dreams. I have set men on each other with such ferocity as to empower generations of hatred.
And this binding spell- it is not so great as it seems.
Fran went into the battle with but one thought in her head, and it kept her safe- a desire to defeat Cuchulainn, to seal the Esper behind even thicker doors, to bar the way to his entrance into the physical world. Fran had found her task, the thing she eventually took as the purpose of her life- to be the guardian which Cuchulainn could never defeat. For this reason, Cuchulainn could not harm her- he relied on his targets, especially his female targets, to meekly accept the things he sent their way, and Fran's refusal to bow down to him proved Cuchulainn's undoing. She would dedicate her life after the journey to the task of keeping the Impure god imprisoned.
Fran's spell would falter, from time to time, in later years, and always she received a pounding headache as Cuchulainn sent a storm of rot her way in those moments- a tornado of images, symbols, all adding up to murder and worse things. Throughout all his life, Balthier never forgot the time he managed to see such an attack occur.
They were journeying into a tunnel, some deep dark somewhere, to rescue a friend, when Fran suddenly stopped and spasmed, slamming up against a wall. Balthier, who she'd told the turth too, had immediately grabbed her and shook her; as she recovered, blinking slowly, he'd asked her why she was doing this.
She looked at him with weary eyes, and said, " Because someone has to." And though it was wearying, Fran never forgot the righteous feeling, the perfection, she felt upon taking the creeature on. There are some things that must be fought, that have to be fought, for the souls that look upon such things cannot let them stand without becoming unclean themselves.
It was always her choice.