As Naru climbed up the topmost stair, it came into view; the goal of the long hike upwards. Before her was a large round marble plateau. Thick, intricately carved pillars surrounded it, supporting a slanting archway that led onwards. The temple itself almost completely engulfed the circular platform with its embracing shape. The entrance was shadowed under a large domed shaping of stone that led up to two towering turrets. Both were formed completely of carved circular contours, moulded together. Situated within many of these clefts were several green tinted spheres. They were large in size, containing the living wisps of fire within, burning brightly under the pallid hue.
Fire: it was everywhere, blazing from the frequent lanterns that lid the plateau, even in the colour of the temple it was represented. It was even present, roaring beneath a huge shallow dome that lined the centre of the floor there.
This temple, it was very different from the one in Besaid. Different in the physical, but the mental attributes were still there. Closing her eyes, she could feel the same strange holiness emulating from the very ground on which he stood: the same heavy weight that resided in the air.
Many of the villagers from the sabotaged town were scattered about here and there. Some of them had come to pray, much like the Aurochs had, but their prayers were for Sin never to return to their home, one tragedy was enough to last them a lifetime.
Datto, the Aurochs' right forward, rolled up beside her and bowed respectfully to the holy structure before them. "I came here to pray for victory last year, but we lost in the first round." He said with a whimsical grin, "I guess I didn't pray hard enough, ya?"
Naru blinked doubtfully.
Prayers....would never help them in her eyes.
But hey, this was Spira, anything could happen.
"This temple is a remembrance place for High summoner Ohalland, you know." Wakka confirmed proudly, giving Naru a playful jab in the arm. "Yep, those flames yonder have burned strong even since his day!"
The beauty frowned and stared at the crackling flames numbly…she wondered what would happen if they ever went out…
"Hey!" Jassu came running up to them excitedly, almost tripping up in his haste.
"What is it?" Wakka inquired.
"They're saying some famous people have come here today!" the defender voiced in a hushed whisper.
"Oh…wonder who it is…" Wakka retorted thoughtfully, scratching his chin.
"I feel sick."
The team turned toward Botta with disgruntled sighs.
"Tell us something we don't know, ya?" Keepa chuckled rolling his eyes. The team were already fed up of hearing about Botta's growing ailment, sea sickness was supposed to wear off on land anyway…wasn't it?
"Hey! It's not my fault I'm queasy!" the right defence argued, clutching his growling belly.
"You should try being in midfield!" Letty chipped in. "You'd be throwing up in the sphere pool all the time, ya?"
The team roared loudly in a fit of hysterics, attracting far too much attention to themselves.
"Time out!" Wakka reprimanded. "We're here to pray, not laugh like donkeys."
Naru remained silent throughout this exchange, and looked on to the deep square entrance of the mighty temple building. Yuna was already there with Kimahri and Lulu…but so were some others. "Hey…"
"Are those your famous people?" She didn't sound like she meant it, that much could be seen in the way her eyes sparked furiously. "Because they certainly look like-
The Aurochs looked on towards the three men, their faces blanched with shifty anxiety. From the distance Naru could see the trio were clad in matching violet and blue uniforms, which meant of course only once thing…they were part of a rival team.
"Let's go to 'em." Wakka said, he out of all of them had retained his composure.
Filled with trepidation, his team advanced. Naru tagged along at the back, wondering what would happen, and trying to remain inconspicuous, though with her unique appearance, that was a feet in of itself.
The head of the opposing group, a surly looking man with blood red hair, noticed their advance immediately. He folded his arms with a vying smirk, whispering something to the others, coaxing them to giggle tauntingly.
"You here to pray for victory, too?" Wakka inquired, halting before them.
"Us? Pray?" the leader scoffed. "Who needs to pray? The Luca Goers always win!" he leered down on them, like they were deserving of a death wish.
"Oh, yeah? Then why are you here?" Naru shot back, her cold violet eyes boring deep into the eyes of the redhead.
One of the others, a tall guy with short flaxen hair laughed darkly to himself. "We've been praying for some competition this year!"
"So what's your goal this time?" his red haired comrade snarled adopting a baby voice. "You gonna 'do your best' again? And what's this, you're so desperate, you quit last year?"
Naru could feel her fingers closing into her palms slowly; the adrenaline was already pumping in hrtveins.
"Ha! It's too bad your best isn't good enough!" the player jeered "Why even bother showing up?"
She'd had enough; with a surge of fury she bulldozed her way to the front "This time we play to win!" The boys backed herup with a defiant noise of agreement.
"Oooh! Play away girlie!" the man retorted with a sneer, eyeing her over with a lustful look that set her blood boiling. "Just remember, even kids can play, boys." He strode off arrogantly, as the remainder of his team followed, snickering mockingly...
"Oh, that's it." The arrancar hissed, holding up a hand and gather violet light within the center of her palm."I think these boys need to be taught a lesson." Before long, a low powered cero was dancing and sparking at her fingertips.
"Um...whaddya doin?" Letti breathed nervously.
Naru smirked wickedly, flicking the orb forward with her pointer finger.
"Just giving them a taste of their own medicine."
Seconds later, the opposing team detected the distinctive scent of burnt leather.
"See you in the finals!" Wakka called cheerfully, as they disappeared out of sight, muttering about their now singed clothing..
Without another thought of the condescending Luca Goers, The islander and the Aurochs proceeded down the temple steps to the interior. Kimahri and Lulu were close to follow.
Naru followed some ways behind, disgusted at the treatment they'd just received, yet very pleased at the punishment she'd given those arrogant blitzers. She'd only ever experienced this ridicule in Konoha, and that made it even more loathsome, to witness it here, of all places. Honestly she couldn't believe Wakka was willing to just stand there and let those jerks push his team around.
"We'll beat them! We have to!" she muttered defiantly.
Yuna, hearing his utterance, wandered back to her "You know that team?" she asked softly.
"Putting people down…" Naru fumed, growing with perpetual rage as she tossed her hair to one side. "Bastards...
The summoner gasped at his language, and earned a confused protest.
"What? They are!"
Yuna sighed, and went to catch up with the others.
It was no use trying to get through to Naruto when she was in this state.
Naru sputtered in annoyance as a jet of cold water blasted her in the face, drenching her from head to toe, and when at last the steam had faded, a rather annoyed Naruto cast Lulu an annoyed glare.
"What the hell...?"
"I can do this all day." The mage replied to the dripping wet blond. "And I will, if you don't control yourself."
Pushing the loathsome thoughts of the matter from his mind, he followed Lulu down the thick stone steps and into the great Kilika temple. Inside, it was almost identical to the circular hall in Besaid. There were the same mighty statues, the same strange insignias and the same door that led to the cloister of trials. The only difference that could be noted was that the room was slightly rosier in colour; reds and violets were chiefly used in the cloth carpet, which displayed a very different glyph to before.
The Aurochs by this time had already busied themselves in praying at the far end of the room. Wakka however was at the other side. He was kneeling before the second of the four great statues that lined the stairs. The effigy was a tall, caped man with very prominent, masculine features and a beard.
"Lord Ohalland, guide our feet." The islander murmured as he formed the long prayer of Yevon.
Naruto eyed the statue closely…so this was the Lord Ohalland that everyone was on about... He waited with folded arms for the worshipping to cease; those accursed Goers still pervaded her thoughts. In fact, she couldn't wait to show them who was boss in the sphere pool.
"A summoner are you?"
Everyone looked up, startled to see a dark skinned woman stood proudly at the top of the cloister stairs. Her attire didn't leave much to imagination, revealing far more than was necessary. A hefty, muscular man accompanied her to the bottom as she eyed the summoner like a predatory hawk.
Kimahri followed closely as the brunette introduced hersel.f "My name is Yuna--from the Isle of Besaid."
"Dona…" The woman replied, somewhat haughtily. "So, you're High summoner Braska's daughter. That's quite name to live up to." She said bluntly.
Her dark eyes scanned the room, resting upon the small clutch of guardians. "My, my, my…" she groaned, putting a hand to her shaking head. "And all these people are your guardians? My, what a rabble!"
Yuna blinked, she'd never encountered such an odious person as this, let alone a summoner.
"As I recall, Lord Braska had only two guardians." Dona continued glowering darkly. "Quality over quantity, my dear. What ever were you thinking? I have need of only one guardian, right, Barthello?"
The muscled man behind her nodded briskly, coercing Kimahri to step up in Yuna's defence.
"I have as many guardians as there are people I can trust. I trust them all with my life!" Yuna retaliated firmly. "To have so many guardians is a joy, and an honour! Even more so than being my father's daughter… Of course, I would never think of questioning your ways, either. So, Lady Dona, I ask of you: please leave us in peace."
Dona recoiled, curling her lip. "You do what you want! Barthello we're leaving!"
The odd couple pranced out of the doors hurriedly, leaving Yuna to sigh deeply with relief. Naruto stared in disbelief…she sure showed that Dona! But then it hit him…something in her words…
"A guardian is someone a summoner can rely on.
Someone she can trust with her life.
I wondered, did Yuna feel that way about me?"
Putting the confrontations aside, the guardians began to mount the stairs, leading up to the trials. As Naruto followed, he noticed Yuna turn back to him with a sweet smile. He wondered to himself about this…why was she smiling so quickly after the encounter with Dona?…
After passing through the solid carved doors, the summoner party followed a short passageway down. At the end was a small round platform, upon its surface was an emblazoned insignia…one he hadn't seen before.
"The fayth is below. Let's do it!" Wakka exclaimed stepping onto the rounded surface.
"The fayth?" Naruto couldn't help himself from his incessant questioning, sure it made him feel dumb…but he really didn't know anything about Spira…
"But first, the Cloister of trials." Lulu corrected "Kimahri? Wakka? Ready?"
Her fellow guardians nodded firmly.
"Strength everyone." Yuna prayed before the whole group loaded on, Naruto included.
The blond was just bracing himself for the floor to move downwards when a sharp blow connected with his shoulder. "Whoa!" A guttural growl resounded behind him as he staggered forward off the platform, almost toppling down onto his knees.
Temari received similair treatment, and she too cast a glare at the one who'd done the shoving.
"Hey, what gives?" they both exclaimed straightening themselves up.
"You to aren't a guardian yet." Lulu informed deeply. "Sorry."
Yuna passed him a sympathetic smile. "Um, we'll be back as soon as we can, okay?"
The glyph suddenly lit beneath their feet in a heated crimson red.
Naruto folded his arms impatiently and watched as they descended down in to the darkness. "Oh, sure! Soon like tomorrow soon, I bet…"
"Well, if we're going to be waiting," Temari surprised him by performing an about face. "I'll be outside practicing."
Naruto sighed deeply and slid down the wall in the passageway landing in a heap on the cold slab floor as his fellow blond passed through the exit. But in a way he was relieved not to be going down there, he recalled his first encounter with the Cloisters in Besaid…the sheer remembrance still sent shivers down his spine. Straining his ears, he heard the dull thud of the elevator hit the floor at the bottom, pretty soon it would come back up to the surface.
Tidus sprang up with a start. He recognised the voice immediately however…Dona, what the hell had she come back for? The blitzer pointed to the elevator as it returned slowly, locking back in place.
"Then why are you here?" the vexatious summoner persisted.
"Hey, I'm not a guardian, so I'm not supposed to go in, right?" he replied.
A demonic twinkle sparkled suddenly in her deep brown eyes. "Not a guardian, you say?…"
Before Naruto could react, Dona's muscular companion had already grabbed hold of him. "Hey! Wait!" the shinobi cried aloud in surprise, as the man grappled with his shirt. It was a short struggle, but the man himself was so large that the blond simply couldn't hope to budge him.
Finally, with a hard shove, the man bundled him down with a crash on the painfully solid floor, stunning him, for just a moment, only to be violently kicked away seconds later. "Hey, what's the big idea?" the blond quizzed accusingly as he rubbed his aching back.
"Just a little game." Dona confirmed with a sadistic leer.
"Huh?" Naruto jumped to his feet. He looked beneath him; the glyph lit up, carmine blood red.
"Bye-bye!" she waved playfully, as he sank aimlessly, down into the foreboding Cloisters.
"This is bad…" he whined clutching his head in his hands. "Really bad…" how the hell could he explain this one?…
The elevator ground to a halt at the very bottom. He looked on to behold, yet another passageway, this time it was open and bordered with tubular lamps that housed blazing fires within. The blitzer panicked, stamping his feet, doing anything to make the lift go back up again. It wouldn't move.
"Damn it!" he cried, booting the wall in his frustration.
His deep blue eyes scanned the line of the pathway before him, meeting the tall doors at the other end. He wandered over to it ruefully "Only guardians allowed and I'm sure no guardian!…" He muttered sacastically, fingers tracing the etchings carved into the pattern on the doors. "Well, I guess it's too late now!"
Taking a deep breath inwards he pushed forwards firmly. The doors opened with a slow grating scrape. His eyes snapped shut when a freak gust of dusty air blasted towards him. It was like he was opening some old forgotten tomb.
He blinked rapidly as the dust settled, hoping to clap eyes on something interesting.
No such luck.
Before him was another box room, similar in style to the Cloisters of Besaid. Another door lay at the far end before him. Grunting at the menial triviality of it all, he paced straight over and gave it a shove. Nothing happened….he stepped back in thought, before chiding himself for being so stupid.
Just like in Besaid, this door had a recess in it, a recess for a sphere! Quickly he looked round the room. He scratched his head, there was nothing here, only a pedestal that was lit with a fiery torch.
Sighing, the blond eyed the light sceptically, hoping his worst fears wouldn't be confirmed. But moving in close he could see it… the sphere, it was there right in front of him. There was however one minor problem; it was on fire!
Crouching before the pedestal, he readied his hands…it wouldn't be too bad if he was quick and he was willing to take the risk.. Lunching rapidly, he clasped the burning sphere in his palm.
"Whoa!" he juggled it from one hand to another, like he was carrying a hot potato. 'Hang on a sec…' fire wasn't meant to be…cold!
He stopped his stupid dance immediately, what the hell was this? He stared at the ball in amazement; it still blazed within his palm.
"He he he, it's just an illlusion!" he giggled to himself shoving it into the recess.
No sooner had the sphere entered the hole, the door exploded. It burst suddenly into a whirling mass of scorching flame, almost singeing his eyebrows off. Naruto flipped onto the wall at the side of it just in time, as the voracious flames licked the spot where he was just stood.
That was no illusion!
He panted heavily as he clawed the wall beside him, searching for the sphere. There was no way he could get through to the next room with the door ablaze! His hand met the cool sphere, and he waited no longer to wrench the thing out of its socket. As soon as he'd done so, the savage fire immediately extinguished transforming into charred grey ash, and crumbling to the floor in a sooty heap. A way through was clear.
Naruto stood in the doorway; his jaw hit the floor with utter disbelief.
This just had to be a joke…
There in the chamber before him lay a great chasm barring the way. Inside it, blazed the fiercest blistering fire he'd ever seen. No. perhaps fire wasn't the word…more like raging inferno. He laughed in dismay, why couldn't he have waited outside?…
Cautiously, he padded into the fiery chamber, hoping he'd come across a solution to extinguish the flames quickly. Just as he gave up hope of finding anything, something caught his eye. A flashing dot on the floor. He crept over to it. It was surrounded by a large square mark and pulsed rhythmically in a glittering white hue.
He cast his mind back to Besaid again…there was a shiny dot in Besaid too… What did he put on it again?…A-ha, the pedestal!
Rushing back into the other room, he grasped hold of the large stone pedestal and gave it a shove.
He pushed it a little harder.
It was missing something: the sphere. Hastily he placed the fiery orb into the recess on the pedestal. It blazed happily, now that it'd returned to its original home. Despite the fact it had helped in making the pedestal moveable, it hadn't helped any with the cumbersome weight.
Naruto groaned, cursing under his breath as he laboured to scrape it over the rough stone floor. Surprisingly, it didn't take as much effort now, and with a final heave he got the pedestal to its correct place. The floor beneath it buckled momentarily on the sudden contact, before lowering the pedestal down into the towering flames.
The shinobi gasped a sigh of relief as the impenetrable fire, faded away leaving a steaming path for him to walk. After travelling a small way, he was greeted with the light of a new chamber, the antechamber.
Hesitantly, the blitzer crept in. He could see the others, minus Yuna, waiting there, motionless. The room itself was somewhat smaller than Besaid's antechamber, but it still served the same purpose. The same door was still lurking there in the near distance, the same door that Yuna had emerged from for the first time. And the same song, the same song that greeted him before…
Wakka spun round immediately, hearing the blitzer's soft footsteps "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" he exclaimed, slapping his hand to his forehead.
Lulu passed the ninja an annoyed glare along with a questionable sigh.
"It was Dona and that big musclehead man!" Naruto explained feebly, rubbing the back of his head, hoping she wouldn't stay angry at him.
"Yuna will be the one to suffer the consequences!" Lulu scolded aggrieved. "Don't you ever think?!"
"She could be excommunicated." Wakka groaned, he strode back to where he was stood previously, and began to pray that no-one would come and perceive the blond in there.
A bitter silence took them over; the blonde kicked himself intrinsically for being so easily outwitted by Dona and the musclehead man upstairs. He moped over to where Lulu stood; she acknowledged his presence with an irritated sigh, taking his hand and giving it an almost tired, weary squeeze, before releasing his palm. In response, he looked to the oval door; Kimahri guarded it jealously. Every time the blonde's gaze strayed too near the ronso's yellow eyes narrowed in silent warning.
It took only a while for Lulu to give up on the tense reticence they were all adopting.
She was soon informing him, as she had done so before.
"The chamber beyond is a sacred place. Only summoners may enter." She said.
"What, even guardians can't go?" Naruto inquired looking around at their motionless state. "Then how are we supposed to-
"It's taboo!" Wakka stated with explicit bluntness.
"Oh…" the shinobi groaned, still not understanding, but recognizing the futility of his efforts.
"Just wait!" the redhead reassured "She'll be here soon, I know it!"
"So, what's in there anyway?" the jinchuuriki asked motioning to the door.
"The fayth, remember?"
"Oh, yeah…that thing. Right." the lie was bad and Lulu saw right through it.
"The fayth are people who gave their lives to battle Sin." She explained gravely "Yevon took their souls, willingly given from their still living bodies. Now they live forever, trapped in statues. But when a summoner beckons, the souls of the fayth emerge once again. That's what we call an aeon."
"All that in this room?" the Jonin spluttered, alarmed. To be honest, he found the whole thing more than a little creepy, to say the least. "S-so what's Yuna doing in there?"
"She prays with all her heart for a way to defeat Sin." Wakka concluded.
No sooner had he finished his words, the chamber door began to rumble quietly. They watched as it raised up, revealing the fatigued Yuna, whose cheeks were now a radiant rose colour. She had emerged now, and with a new aeon. Her guardians rushed to her aid as she stumbled gracefully to her knees. But by this time, Naruto had already started thinking. Standing there, in that place, listening… it suddenly came back to him…
"There was something I didn't tell anyone else that day.
That song we heard there, in the temple…
I knew it from my childhood.
But...I can't remember where...
Sorry if its short! I needed to at least get them to the temple! And don't worry, there WILL be some action coming up, so please be patient! Its been awhile since I updated, hasn't it?