Standard Disclaimer: All things FFX belong to Square, and I belong to Auron.

Author's Notes: This tale will center around Auron's adventures during his ten years in the Zanarkand of Spira's past. Early chapters will naturally be rather angst-ridden, but I promise a little bit of everything will await our beloved Crimson Warrior... so without further ado... the otherworld it takes you, you ready?

Go on if you want it
An otherworld awaits you
Don't you give up on it
You bite the hand that feeds you

All alone, cold fields you wander
Memories of it, cloud your sight
Fills your dreams, disturbs your slumber
Lost your way, a fallen knight

Hold now, aim is steady
An otherworld awaits you
One thousand years -- you ready?
The otherworld it takes you

Go into the sand and the dust in the sky
Go now, there's no better plan than to do or to die
Free me, pray to the fayth, in the face of the light
Feed me, fill me with sin, and get ready to fight

You know you will
You know you will
You know you know you know you know that you will
You know you know you know you know that you will

You know you will
Fight fight fight
Fight fight fight
Fight fight fight
Fight fight fight

Hope dies and you wander
The otherworld it makes you
Dreams they rip asunder
The otherworld it hates you
Free now ride up on it
Up to the heights it takes you
Go on if you want it
An otherworld awaits you

-- Otherworld Lyrics, FFX: Alexander O. Smith

Otherworld Year One: Chapter 1

"Hey! Somebody help! There's a man here and he's hurt!" The young boy cried out, as he spun and ran down the beach in search of his mother, his hair flying out behind him, sand whiffing up behind his heels.

A small crowd began to gather around the sprawled man laying face down in the surf-washed sand. One of the onlookers, an elderly man, stooped beside the figure, and gently rolled him onto his back.
The gathering of people gasped at the sight of the unconscious man.

There was a ghastly wound running down the right side of the man's face. It started just below his hairline and extended all the way down his deathly pale countenance, disappearing into the top of his torn and blood stained leather shirt. The old man stood up abruptly at the sight, as the crowd took a few steps back, horror and revulsion evident on their faces.

"Over here mom!" The boy called as he ran back to the group of gawking people, a woman hurrying behind him. The boy stopped short and merely stared down at the man's face, unable to comprehend what possibly could have happened to cause such a horrible rending of flesh. The boy's mother, upon seeing the man's condition, didn't hesitate however, and kneeled beside him in the wet sand, pressing her hand against his neck to feel for a pulse.

"He's alive, but barely. You men there..." the woman jestured to several in the crowd. "Bring him to my house, it's just up the beach, next to the shipyard." The men all hesitated, looking nervously at each other, uncertain about whether or not they wanted to touch this unfortunate creature.

"Move! You fools!" The woman commanded. The men reluctantly shuffled forward and squatting down, grabbed the prone man under the shoulders and legs... lifting him unsteadily, then awkwardly moving up the beach with their pitiful burden. "Careful now, go slowly!" The woman admonished, as she and her son followed close behind, her son's hands clasping the back of her shirt as they walked.

The woman moved to the front of the group as they approached her small house, and opening the door, instructed the men to take the man to the back room and put him on the bed there. They obliged without comment, as she then proceeded to shoo them all from the house, waving her arms at them while thanking them for their assistance. They all filed silently out, closing the door quietly behind them.

A short time later, the woman, with her son at her side, his eyes large in his face, stood over the bed gazing down at the still figure.

"Mom? Shouldn't we try to get him to the Healing Center?" The boy asked with a concerned frown. "No Remie, absolutely not." His mother replied, disdain in her voice. "All they'll do is hook him up to one of those awful machines and leave him to live or die on his own. I have the skills needed to care for him, and besides, he looks like he could use a friend."

"Yeah, I guess so. But, he looks kind of dangerous to me... look at all those muscles." Remie said warily. "Nonsense." She replied bluntly. "In the state this poor man's in, even I could beat him up. Now hurry to the central market with that list I gave you, okay? There's a lot to be done if we're going to help this man, and we haven't any time to waste."

After she had sent Remie on his way, planting a kiss on his cheek as he scampered out the front door, she returned to the small room at the back of the house, stopping in the doorway for a moment... wondering where to begin. She quickly decided that the first order of business was to get the brine-soaked, soiled garments from the man, then check for other wounds besides the all too obvious one.

It took her a good half-hour to get him undressed... his slack weight a hindrance as she struggled to gently shift his bulk, but she managed it. She could have simply cut his clothes from him, using one of the sharp knives she kept in the kitchen... but she had not, it seemed an indignity to her somehow.

Lowering herself to sit on the edge of the bed, she began by gingerly running her hands down his limbs and torso, checking for bone breaks. Good, there were none. He showed no signs of internal injuries either, his nose and ears free of any telltale blood. He did however, have a series of long, ragged abrasions on the underside of his forearms, as well as across his abdomen and the top of his legs. It looked as though he had been dragging himself, scraping the skin raw beneath his clothing.

An involuntary shudder shook her, as she contemplated the horrible struggle this man must have endured. What in the name of all things holy had happened to this man? Shaking her head, she then focused her attention to the awful wound that ran from the man's face, down across his collarbone and ending on his upper chest. The first thing she noticed curiously, was that there appeared to be a transparent layer of scar tissue forming just below the surface of the open rend, indicating that someone had recently tried to heal the wound. But it was far from alright, the edges of it swollen and discolored... the first signs of infection beginning to set in. And she knew that was the biggest danger.

She carefully lifted the man's right eyelid, unable to supress the gasp that escaped her. The poor man's eye appeared to be damaged beyond any possible healing. The eye itself still intact, but a cloudy white film covering its entire surface. And she suspected that as the wound healed, it would most likely seal the eyelid permanently closed. This man had undoubtedly lost half his sight. She felt a sudden urge to cry then, a lump forming in her throat but stopped herself, knowing that wouldn't help matters one bit.

Finished with her examination, she went to the bathroom and returned with a wash bowl and what healing supplies she had on hand. She then cleaned the wound as best she could, and applied all the healing potions she had, leaving the injury unbandaged. Next, she applied a salve to the abrasions on his torso and legs. And lastly, she washed most of the dried blood and grime from the rest of him, then carefully pulled the bed sheet up to his waist. Those tasks accomplished, she went to the kitchen to prepare a healing tea.

She was standing in the kitchen, watching the tea impatiently as it steeped, when she heard a low moan. She grabbed the mug of tea and hurried down the hallway. Upon entering the room, she saw that the man was struggling with little success, to raise himself from the bed... his forehead furrowed in effort, his teeth clenched, as low moans of pain involuntarily escaped him. "No! Please! You must not move!" She implored him, quickly moving to the bed and laying her hand against his shoulder. "You are safe here. Please lay back down." He resisted for a moment, his entire body wracked by violent shaking, then he sank back to the bed with a stiffled groan.

She sat beside him, and supporting his head with her hand, tipped his chin forward and brought the mug of tea to his cracked lips. "Here, drink some of this, it will help with the pain." He managed to take a few sips of the tea, grimacing at each swallow. She gently lowered his head back to the pillows, and set the tea down on the bedside table, turning back to look at him.

He had not opened his eyes during any of this, either unwilling or unable to, but she could see him struggling to speak... his throat and mouth working with the effort. "Where?" Came the one word question, spoken in a hoarse whisper. "Zanarkand." She replied, watching curiously as a small, strained smile touched the man's mouth.

"Whom or what did this to you?" She asked in an outraged tone, as she carefully rearranged the pillows behind the man's head. He did not reply, but simply turned his head away from her. This man had clearly been traumatized in the worst possible way.

"It's alright, everything's going to be okay, you just rest now." She spoke softly, beginning to reach towards him to offer the comfort of human touch, then deciding against it... pulling her hand back to run it through her silvered hair. He had drifted away again, so she turned and pulled up a chair next to the bed and quietly sat... keeping a vigil that countless women have kept down through time.