"Come to me, my mind, my soul, my Anima..."

She came upon him when he was crying. He was half-curled into a ball, shaking as he wept.

"What's the matter?"

The little boy's chin trembled as he looked at her. His voice was thick with weeping as he said, "The other kids, they…they said I have dirty blood, that I'm polluting the blood of Lord Jyscal. Well, not the humans…they say…I'm dirtying the blood of a summoner."

She smiled and gathered him into her arms. "Do you have any idea how untrue that is? You're my treasure, Seymour. I love you more than anything, even life itself. You don't have dirty blood; you're a symbol of bridging a gap between humans and Guado! Think of when you grow up; they'll revere your very words as holy. Guado, humans, Ronso, even Sin will bow before you, for you will be greater than them all. You will be the bringer of peace to Spira, Seymour, the one who unites all races together. And then who will be laughing, hm?" She looked at him, her smile changing into one of mischief. "Now, when I was an apprentice summoner, there were a few other trainees with me. They used to tease me something awful. When I cried, they'd just tease me more. So you know what I did?"

"What?" Seymour asked, enraptured.

His mother leaned down, smiling. "I used to picture myself bringing down Sin single-handedly as they scurried through the Calm Lands, trying to get out of the way of the sheer power of my Final Aeon. Or I'd think of them starving in the Cloister of Trials as I ran by them. Sometimes, when I was really mad, I'd picture myself stepping on their hands."

Seymour giggled but tried to act scandalized. "Mother!"

She smiled. "Now, who's been the worst about it?"

"Tromell."

"Tromell? Hm." The youth he had named was nearing his nineteenth birthday; Seymour was a bit over four. "Well, picture this: You are a maester of Yevon, second only to my father. Tromell scurries about at your heels, asking to polish your shoes with his tongue. He's so greedy he'd die for a bit of power and so stupid that he doesn't realize until he's on the Farplane that he can't use it when he's dead!"

Seymour giggled again. "And everyone else?" he asked, his eyes twinkling conspiratorially.

"Why, they're just common guards, living or dying by your word, of course." She smiled. "And that's only if they're Bluehairs." She smiled. "Now, whenever you're going to cry, think of that. Darling, you're far better than them, but, well, they tried to kill Yevon with machina. The stupid will always gang up on the strong, the beautiful and the bright such as you. But always remember that: Never let them see your tears. Never let them see you cry. They're weak, and they're stupid, but they have a better nose for weakness than a Shoopuf has for water." She squeezed her son. "Now, let's get the picture clear in your mind, okay? Close your eyes tight, and picture yourself in grand robes with a maester's staff. You know what that looks like, don't you? There's one in your father's room – yes? Okay. Can you see it?"

He smiled with a mouth still wet with unremembered tears and squeezed eyes of forgotten red shut. "I can see it."

"Good. Now, whenever you're alone, sharpen that image. It will need to be sharp to face the world." She smiled then, a loving smile that Seymour could not see. "And, Seymour, remember this. I love you like nothing else. You're my treasure, my love." She bent over and whispered into his hair. "Never let them see your tears."

He watched as their savior was wrenched savagely from her rest, crying out in despair. She was fettered, her soul captive, her blue eye sorrowful, filled with pain.

They called each other by a secret name that only they knew. Anima meant, in a language long dead, soul, or mind, or courage. And to each other, Seymour and his mother were all three.

Seymour wished for his Anima as Tromell loomed over him.

"Why, if it isn't the mutt himself. Still crying, Seymour-child?"

Seymour looked up and met his eyes with blazing anger. Tromell took a step back at their sheer blue power, nearly bumping into one of his cronies. "Never again," he muttered softly.

Tromell regained his courage at Seymour's seemingly nonsensical murmurings. "Ah! That would explain a lot! The half-Guado mutt is mad! Perhaps we should put it out of its misery?"

"Be silent, Mosshead." There was some snarling at the offensive slur, but Seymour continued anyway, getting to his feet. "Do you not realize who I am? I am the son of your lord and a great summoner, not the whelp of some lowbred bitch."

"Oh, beg pardon, Lordship," Tromell said with heavy sarcasm. "I completely forgot that you're so much better than purebreds."

"It all depends on where one is in life and what one does. Now, from your hair, you are a Lowcaste, are you not? A common servant."

Stung by the insult, the older boy snapped an answer without even thinking. "My father is no 'common servant!' He is the personal bodyman to Lord – ah –" He finally saw the trap.

"To Lord Jyscal, is it not? And as the father, so as the son. One day, you will be my personal bodyman. I will hold the power of life and death over you all." He now addressed all of them. "Servants, military men, workers, you will all belong to me. If I want you to be killed slowly, tortured into a hideous form before becoming a fiend, then there will be no sending for you." He pushed through them all. "Start groveling."

There was utter silence behind him as he strode home to his Anima.

A burst of energy like fire, another, and the fiends that Seymour had set loose into the stadium burned, mourning their last chance of a semblance of life.

"Who were you then?" Seymour wondered out loud. "Why were you not sent? And why did you live such meager lives as to be killed with one blow?

"You see, the soul of the greatest will never become like any of you. My soul, my mind will never become a fiend. She stays with me."

"You have yet an unfinished pilgrimage, summoner."

Seymour's Anima nodded to the tall, graceful, long-haired woman before her. "Yes."

"Why did you never attempt to gain the Final Aeon?"

"When I married Jyscal, I...felt that I would be more useful elsewhere. I would be more effective alive."

Seymour tugged on her draping sleeve. "Mother, what is she talking about?"

"Hush, dearest."

"It is not my job to turn failed summoners into Fayth just for the benefit of a child. One that doesn't even know what a pilgrimage is, at that."

Seymour's mother bristled slightly, but replied, "I haven't noticed you being all that busy. Would it really be such a hardship?"

Yunalesca sighed heavily. "Very well, then." In a rare burst of compassion, she added, "Tell me when you're ready."

His mother bent down to him. "Seymour, I'm going to have to leave you."

The boy's eyes widened, but he bit his lip. "For how long?"

"Forever."

He stared at her in shocked disbelief as his eyes filled with tears. "But, Mother, I don't want you to go!"

"Hush, hush. I won't really be gone. I'll always be with you." She hugged him and whispered, "I will be your Anima." She pulled back and smiled sadly. "Close your eyes, dearest. Don't cry. Can you see it? Yes? Darling, what I do will allow you to attain that. Do you understand?"

"Mother, I don't want to be a maester...if it means losing you."

"I would die anyway, and then what would you have? Nothing but a shadow on the Farplane." She leaned in and brushed away tears. "Never let them see you cry. Never let them see your weakness. I can..." Her voice broke. "I will be your strength." She stood up and nodded to Yunalesca. Almost immediately, an intense pain filled her. When she could see again, she rushed toward her son and joined with his soul. There, Anima smiled contentedly.

He looked at his Anime, crying out in pain as blood from her injured flesh flowed like tears down her cheeks. She cried again, in heartache and torture and desolation, but Seymour...

Jyscal places the sphere in the breast pocket of his robe and turned to face his son. "You are here to kill me, are you not?"

"I am." Seymour nodded.

"My I have the dignity of asking why?"

"You may not."

"I thought as much." The old man sighed heavily. "Very well."

Seymour nodded and called upon his strength. Jyscal's heart was stopped quickly by the lighting bolt, but he continued to twitch gruesomely afterward. The new leader of the Guado picked up his maester's staff, then stepped out into the hall.

"Call the people together," he said to a guard just outside the door. He had most likely heard the entire thing, but he wasn't going to talk.

He stepped outside several minutes later, and nearly the whole population was waiting for him. "People of Guadosalam!" he called brazenly out over the crowd. "I am bereaved to report that my father, Lord Jyscal, is dead." He held up a hand as mutters broke out. "This will be a difficult time, but we must stand together. I, Seymour Guado, leader of the Guado, declare this a time of grieving. But we must not be consumed by our grief! Never let them see our weakness – show only strength!"

They cheered his name and his words, but Seymour ignored them for an instant. For the briefest moment, his eyes focused on an unseen point. He whispered, "Never let them see our tears." Then he shook if off and stared into the crowd. And Seymour Guado, leader of the Guado...

Maester of Yevon...

Just smiled.