Final Fantasy X Novelization

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy nor do I own any character that is written about within this fictional piece of writing. I am not making any sort of profit from this project. It is merely something to serve me with some amusement and to hopefully keep those like yourself entertained. Thank you.

Thank you very much to anyone who reviewed on the previous chapter and to anyone who read it. I'm now back from my holiday and have a few weeks left before I need to go back to sixth form, so hopefully I'll be able to update more. I hope you all enjoy this chapter and please keep the feedback coming.

THANK YOU:

LightxHopeFXIII: Thank you very much for the review. Thanks for the compliment! The Blitzball section was actually the part that I was most worried about. Hope you enjoy this chapter.

TopazDragon98: Thanks for the review :D I probably will write a Final Fantasy X-2 Novelization once I have finished this one. Hope you like this chapter!

Chapter Ten: Mi'ihen Highroad

The road ahead looked treacherous. Although it was straight forward for what looked like miles, there was a lot of room to get separated from the others. If they ran into trouble on this road, it was unlikely that they would be able to seek help.

Mi'ihen Highroad also offered some comfort to Tidus rather than only scaring the wits from him. He had lived in a big city pretty much all of his life. His time in Besaid and Kilika had been hard to adjust to, but he had found that he much preferred it. Being in Luca brought those suffocating feelings back to him. It brought the feeling of pressure and claustrophobia. Mi'ihen Highroad was a large, open space. He had room to breathe once more.

The smells radically changed once you reached the top step also. Instead of smoke and sweat, there was an unmistakeable whiff of nature and plants. It was almost as though Tidus was walking through a huge greenhouse. After all, the sun was beating down on him malevolently.

Mi'ihen Highroad also bore a sense of foreboding. It was almost eerie how the noise of the Blitzball fans musing over what had just unfolded ceased immediately once Tidus had reached the long, winding path. It was almost as if the Highroad was cocooned in a bubble, sheltering it from everything around it. Tidus could have described it as a safe place, yet he couldn't help but feel as though the Highroad, whilst blocking dangers out, may be concealing some horrors of its own.

"Welcome to the Mi'ihen Highroad" Wakka sighed as he held out his arms as though ready to give someone a hug. "I know what you're thinking. It looks awful long, but the time will fly. The statue of Lord Mi'ihen is over yonder." Before Tidus even had a chance to take in the statue, Yuna took over Wakka's explanation.

"Eight centuries ago, he founded a legion known today as the Crusaders." She continued with her usually soft voice. Her eyes scanned the statue with a look of awe lighting up her face. It was like she longed to be like them. Tidus had no doubt that, one day, there would be a statue of her that young Summoners would be drawn to. "In just a few short years after their founding, their ranks grew throughout Spira. The Maesters of Yevon feared an uprising and accused them of rebellion. So, Lord Mi'ihen walked across this very road to go face their charges and refute them. He succeeded in winning the Maesters trust and his legion became an arm of the Yevon clergy. It was then that Yevon gave them the name Crusaders which they have kept ever since and the rest is history." Once Yuna had stopped talking, a small smile crept over her face. Yes, it was clear that Lord Mi'ihen was definitely one of her role-models.

The path didn't prove to be quite as dangerous as Tidus had thought. Although, they could have done without all of the interruptions from unwanted fiends. All it did was make the path seem so much longer than it actually was. For a while, it didn't seem like Tidus was making any progress. It was just the same thing over and over again. They'd walk for a while, come across and enemy, kill it, repeat.

That was up until they were opposed by a fiend that Tidus hadn't seen yet.

It looked like a rather small hermit, covered in armour which slowed it down to the point where it was crawling towards them with an ominous look lurking in its eyes. That was the only part of the face you could see. The rest of it was covered in a greenish yellow coloured helmet that matched the skins of the beast. It dragged itself along with a clear intention of killing those in its way, although Tidus believed it posed no threat whatsoever.

"Ha! Let me at it" Tidus scoffed, clutching tightly at his sword. "That thing looks slow."

"Yes, it is slow" Auron agreed with his usually bored voice. "But it is also tough. Let me handle it."

Now, more than ever, Tidus wanted to show off what he could do. Wakka had said he would make a good Guardian. Perhaps Auron just didn't believe him. It seemed it was time to present to him what he could do.

"I can handle it" Tidus grinned as he launched forward and took a swing at the crab-like fiend. His sword connected with the armour, making a loud clunk. The jolt sheered through Tidus' arm as though he had received a vicious electric shock. He was the one to fall back straight on his behind and clamber away from the ascending monster. "What the…?" Tidus gasped as he looked at his arm that was still tingling in pain. He stared at the fiend that hadn't been damaged at all and wondered how it could possibly be that strong.

Auron just gave a snort of derision before taking a stab at it with his own sword. It cut clean through without so much as a jolt and the beast died almost instantly.

Tidus would blame it on the swords. Clearly Auron's sword was a lot sharper and more resistant than his was. Yes, that could be the only answer to this problem. If Tidus had Auron's sword, he could have done exactly the same.

"He told ya!" Wakka smirked cheekily as he continued on walking. Tidus decided it would be pointless to try and justify what had happened. They wouldn't understand anyway. They'd probably only mock him.

With a grunt of annoyance, Tidus stalked to the lead and continued trudging along the never-ending path.

"You know what these ruins are from?" Auron asked as the group slugged through the path. Tidus couldn't help but get the feeling that Auron was trying to make up for humiliating him in front of everyone. On the other hand, Auron had never really been a very apologetic person. Perhaps he was just using this as another opportunity to exert his knowledge as usual. Yes, that sounded about right.

"Some old city" Tidus answered as he observed the crumbled buildings that had once probably looked as vibrant as Luca did.

"Correct" Auron said. As immature as it may sound, Tidus found himself feeling as though he had managed to get one over on Auron. He probably hadn't been expecting him to get it right. "A city most ancient. A terrible testament to Sin's power. Most people tremble every time they see them." Tidus could see what he meant. It was like a constant reminder of the damage that Sin could do in a heartbeat. Even so, Tidus didn't tremble. Perhaps it was because he wanted to prove that he was brave to Auron…or perhaps it was because Yuna was standing noticeably close. If he trembled, all of the bravery and courage he had managed to make Yuna believe he had, would diminish. "Compared to Sin, humans are mere puppies."

"But I believe humans are the only ones capable of defeating Sin" Yuna argued with an unexpected tone of defiance marring her usually calm voice.

"A good reply. I'm relieved to hear you say that, Lady Summoner." Auron went on, still seeming just as bored as he would be if he was watching the grass grow. "Unfortunately, a lot of things stay hidden in Spira. We cannot ask for the answers to everything. All you should be focussing on is giving Spira a reason to rejoice. Rid Spira of Sin's evil."

"I will" She claimed earnestly with a look of more determination glinting in her eyes.

"Then we shall proceed." Auron said, already walking before waiting for anyone else to say anything.

Suddenly, the air around them heat up intensely to the point that Tidus thought he could feel his skin bubbling. Sweat teemed from the group, matting their hair and sticking their clothes to them. As Tidus searched frantically for the others, he found sets of red eyes, almost blinded from the heat.

It had to be a fiend. It didn't take that long to find the source of the heat. It was practically a fireball, hurtling more and more fire at them with every second as it grinned and laughed at their pain.

Lulu was the only one in action. She lifted her burned hand despite that agony it must have caused her. A silver bubble circled her hand like a predator waiting to catch its prey. It swirled and swirled, building in power with each second before coming into a tiny ball and then bursting out like a butterfly taking flight for the first time.

The air instantly cooled and the pressure in Tidus' head soothed. His eyes still burned horrifically, but the hazy shapes around him were becoming much clearer. The fireball dropped to the floor with a heavy thud and began to crackle away, the life leaving it. "Yuna!" He found himself trying to say, but his voice just came out as a raspy croak. She had managed to miss most of the burns by enveloping herself in a protective shield. She looked worn out because of the toll the magic took on her and she looked distraught that she hadn't managed to help them quicker.

"Do not waste all of your magic on us" Lulu warned with a dangerous glint in her eyes. The ice spell she had cast had completely recovered her. The others had been burned, but it was nothing they wouldn't be able to handle. Tidus, on the other hand, had been standing right in front of the fireball and had received the worst burns out of all of them. He could still feel his skin cooking as his flesh burned wildly.

"I have to heal him" Yuna whispered, falling to her knees by his side and stretching her hand out to touch his arms where the fire had burned him the most. "If I don't heal him, we won't be able to go on." The familiar warm sensation cocooned Tidus and the welts began to disappear as the cuts closed up. The redness was taken from his eyes and his skin stopped boiling. When she was finished, all that was left were a few faint scars that could heal easily without the aid of magic.

"Come along, we must continue" Auron ordered as soon as Tidus was out of the woods. It irked him to know how little Auron cared for him. "Fiends are much more dangerous in this part. The further in we go, there is some civilisation. If we get stuck again, we can seek help."

So, they continued on as though nothing had even happened.

They hadn't been walking much longer before a small cluster of Chocobo's sprang out ahead with armoured people riding them.

"Lady Summoner, I presume?" The obvious leader acknowledged, giving a nod of her head as a sign of respect, although Tidus couldn't help but feel a haughty vibe emanating from her.

"Yes, I am Yuna" She answered, even though no answer was really needed. Everyone in Spira knew who Yuna was.

"I am Lucil. Captain of the Djose Chocobo Knights" She introduced, holding her fist proudly over her heart as the others copied her.

"And I'm Elma" The brunette said. "We've been charged to guard the Highroad."

"There have been reports of a large fiend appearing in this area" Lucil claimed dutifully. "With a taste for Chocobo's. Do take care Summoner Yuna, if you are to rent any Chocobo's."

"Thank you, we will be careful" Yuna promised, administrating the prayer in an act of gratitude for the warning.

"Good" Lucil said with relief. She had done her bit. Whatever happened to them now, couldn't be blamed on her. "We should get back to our rounds. Farewell."

"Our prayers are with you" Elma concluded before the Chocobo's sprinted off, leaving Tidus to wonder about what fiend they could have been talking about. Surely there couldn't be anything worse than that fireball they had just faced. Or could there? Tidus suddenly felt a sense of foreboding. That seemed to be happening a lot lately.

"A large fiend…hmm." He mused out loud, scratching his head as he tried to picture what it could look like. "Let's go get 'em." They had done well so far. A few injuries has to be a small price to pay for keeping the people of Spira safe. If he had managed to live through practically being cooked by fire, then he could survive whatever Elma and Lucil had been talking about.

The others didn't seem quite so keen.

"Why?" Auron asked, his face the picture of calm like it always was.

"It's the right thing to do" Tidus justified, but he knew it wouldn't be enough to persuade the others…especially if it meant putting Yuna in danger. Auron simply stared at him, and Tidus felt the feeling of being humiliated once more.

"'It's the right thing to do'" Auron mocked with an incredulous shake of his head.

"What did I say now?" Tidus asked impatiently over the sound of Auron chuckling at his stupidity.

"Jecht said that a lot too" Auron explained. The moment no longer seemed amusing to Tidus at all. It seemed every time he had his own life separate from Jecht, he managed to find a way to weave his way back…even if it was through other people. "And every time he said it, it meant trouble for Braska and me." He chuckled once more as he remembered apparently fond memories.

Once again, they continued walking on the long path, hoping that they would get to something soon. All Tidus wanted to do was sit down, having something to eat and wait for his legs to stop hurting.

"You're a Summoner?" A soft, young voice asked from out of the blue. Tidus turned to see a young girl, staring up at Yuna with utter delight on her face. It was at that moment, that she seemed to be so enraptured in observing Yuna that she didn't care about her ragged clothes, her matted hair and her dirty face from the weeks she must have spent without running water. Most of the people in these parts looked exactly like her. When there was a raging beast with the intention of killing and destroying everything, the last thing most people thought about was how clean they were.

"Yes" Yuna answered with a warm smile. She didn't see the bad clothes and the disgusting grime covering the girl. She just saw the happy face of a girl who looked up to her. "My name is Yuna."

"I'm Calli" The young girl said with a smile of her own.

"Nice to meet you, Calli" Yuna said politely before bending down, sensing a serious question was going to be asked.

"Lady Yuna, are you going to bring us the Calm?" Calli asked. Instantly, it felt like the air was growing heavier with oppressing wonder. What if Yuna couldn't manage it?

"Yes, very soon" Yuna smiled, completely unfazed by the question. She was probably used to people asking this kind of question by now.

"Yay!" The girl cheered, her grin becoming infectious as she jumped on the spot, taking her mothers' hands in her own as she tried to spread the joy.

"We are looking forward to another Calm, my Lady Summoner" Calli's mother added, trying to be more dignified, but it was obvious that she was elated by the prospect of another Calm…whatever that was.

"I'll do my best" Yuna promised.

"And good luck to your Guardians as well" Calli's mother continued as she observed each Guardian. It felt nice to Tidus to get some recognition for all of the hard work he had done to keep Yuna safe. A lot of people in Spira seemed to forget about the sacrifice that the Guardians were making. It all seemed to be about the Summoner. Yuna did deserve to be doted on, though.

"What's the Calm?" Tidus asked once Calli and her Mother had left the Guardians and the Summoner.

"The Calm is a time of peace" Lulu began. "It comes after a Summoner defeats Sin and lasts until Sin reappears."

"Huh?" Tidus questioned, wondering if he had heard right. She could have possibly said Sin would reappear. Surely that's impossible.

"Sin dies and is reborn" Yuna took over.

"I get it!" Tidus exclaimed as though the jigsaw pieces of life had just slotted into place. "I thought it was weird. Yuna's dad defeated Sin ten years ago, right? But Sin's still here. Didn't make much sense till now. Wait, if it just comes back…"

"Don't say it isn't worth it" Yuna pleaded, her voice shaking a little with sadness. She felt strongly about this. She couldn't stand the thought of anyone talking badly about what she was doing to protect Spira. "Because…it is."

Even for a little while, people can sleep in their beds without being afraid. That kind of time is worth anything. Don't say it isn't worth it. Your words that day, Yuna, I remember them well.

Tidus felt guilty for what he had said. He simply couldn't believe that he had been so stupid and insensitive. Yuna was giving up so much for this mission…and there he was, acting as though it was all pointless. He couldn't understand how Yuna could forgive him.

"Hey, we saw the game!" A familiar voice exclaimed. Would they ever be able to get past Mi'ihen Highroad with all of these interruptions. Tidus turned to see Gatta grinning wildly. Clearly the excitement of Blitzball was still affecting him madly…the infection still had a hold of his body. "You guys were great!"

"It was close, Wakka" Luzzu commented in a much less excited voice than his companion.

"Hey, stop loafing around" A familiar voice seemed to joke, although it was clear there was a hidden order in her voice. It was Elma who was pulling up to them on her mighty Chocobo with a look of alertness on her face.

"Uh…the lady Summoner…and her Guardians" Gatta attempted to explain rather pathetically. Lucil and Elma did seem to be very intimidating when they wanted to be.

"This mission requires our full attention" Lucil lectured. It sounded almost as though she had gotten it from a textbook. "We've no time to waste. Understood?"

"Yes, ma'am" Luzzu answered, holding his fist to his heart like a salute. He was clearly the suck-up between the two. "Apologise, ma'am."

"Carry on" Lucil ordered, turning on her Chocobo and trotting away with Elma in tow.

"See?" Luzzu said proudly. "Keep your head down, say sir a lot and you'll do fine."

"Right" Gatta stated with a determined look in his eyes before adding rather sheepishly, "Sir."

Yuna gave a loud laugh at the two Crusaders and their behaviour. Ever since she was younger, she could remember those two being inseparable. It had always been Gatta trying to be Luzzu. She found it amusing to see that, as time had gone on, the two hadn't matured whatsoever.

"Hey, Yuna" Luzzu said. "Even though Yevon rejected us, we still believe in you. That won't ever change."

"Thank you" Yuna said politely, her face turning unusually serious as she gave a nod of her head as a sign of gratitude. With each supporter she gained, she felt another weight being lifted from her shoulders. When she had people around her who cared about her and made an effort of showing it, fighting Sin didn't seem quite as hard as it could have been. "Sir Gatta, but, you know…it's not too late for you to go back to Besaid and…"

"We should be going, Sir" He interrupted before Yuna had a chance to continue. Whatever was going on here must clearly be a touchy subject for everyone.

With the air around them becoming more awkward and oppressing, the Crusaders took that as a sign that they should go. They gave a nod as a goodbye before hurrying away to do whatever duties they must fulfil.

As Tidus walked on, he could hear what sounded like an argument just a little ahead. "We'll defeat Sin any way we can!" A voice shouted with an ominous quality.

"But Yevon's teachings say…" The other said weakly, although it was clear that she was fighting a losing battle.

"Enough!" The other ordered and his voice made it clear that no one was in a position to be arguing with him at that moment.

"I…I only meant…to" She continued although there was no point in even thinking that the man was listening to her. After all, he was marching away without even looking back at her whimpering attempts of defending herself.

"Are you alright?" Yuna asked, completely unable to resist someone in need. It seemed some people were just kind to a fault.

"Lady Summoner" The woman gasped, displaying the prayer as her face lit up with sheer delight. Suddenly, the encounter with that man wasn't quite as upsetting as it had been.

"Yes, I am Yuna" She continued, copying the others movements exactly.

"It is an honour, my lady" She breathed, hardly able to comprehend what was going on here. "My name is Shelinda. I am a disciple of Yevon."

"What was all that about?" Wakka inquired, rubbing the back of his head almost nervously. "The Crusaders operation?"

"You mean the one Gatta and Luzzu were talking about?" Tidus asked. Wakka gave a grim nod. Yes, it was clear that whatever was going on here, it was a serious matter that could affect a lot of people.

"I heard they were to use forbidden machina" Shelinda admitted as though she was a school child reluctant to tell on her friend to the teacher. "I had to stop them."

"Huh?" Tidus quizzed. The mere mention of machina and all of Spira's other rules was enough to make his head hurt. "Why?"

"The use of machina is strictly forbidden by the Yevon Priesthood" Lulu explained with a warning look that told him that it probably wasn't a good idea to ask too many more questions.

"That's bad, ya" Wakka sighed, probably wishing for Spira to just get along. For someone as silly as him, he sure as hell seemed to be very interested in the goings on of Spira. At that moment, Tidus believed he would fit in very well on a debate team.

"Let them use whatever they want" Auron said dismissively. "They still won't defeat Sin."

"But, it's not about defeating Sin" Shelinda reminded with outrage crossing over her face. She seemed tired of not being heard. It seemed as though she was on the verge of going on a huge rant about how Spira should be ran. Tidus just hoped he wasn't there to see it. That was the last thing he wanted to deal with. "The teachings of Yevon must be upheld."

"Yeah, right" Wakka agreed with a smug cross of his arms over his chest.

"But you don't understand" Shelinda went on, her voice growing more and more upset. "The Crusaders won't even listen to me and it's all because I'm just a lowly acolyte…" Her voice trailed off sadly as distress flashed in her eyes. It was sad to see someone want to be heard ever so desperately.

"Don't say that" Yuna chastised in a motivational way. Shelinda deserved to feel good about herself. "Well, I haven't been a Summoner for very long myself, you see…Still, I can't put myself down every time I fail. People are depending on me. They're depending on both of us."

"Yes, yes you're right, my lady" Shelinda gushed, her face heating up in excitement. "Absolutely right. Thank you so much, Lady Yuna. Now, I feel I have the courage to finish my training."

With her faith restored, she could barely keep herself contained. It was like she had one million and one things to do and she couldn't decide which to do first. Shelinda took a tentative step one way before changing her mind and running the other. Apparently she had decided what she was to do.

Yuna turned to face us, a smile of pride shimmering on her face before she continued ahead.

"We rest here" Auron stated once they neared the first civilised looking thing. It was a weird shaped shop with only a few people outside of it. Tidus had hoped for somewhere a little cleaner but, at this point, he wasn't really allowed to judge.

"But, this is an Al Bhed shop" Wakka objected with clear horror marring his face. Tidus had almost forgotten the hate that Wakka subjected the Al Bhed to.

"Is that a problem?" Auron asked, raising his eyebrow ever so slightly.

"They don't believe in Yevon" Wakka argued with a defiant look on his face. "And in Luca they…they kidnapped Yuna."

"Where were her Guardians?" Auron asked darkly with a voice that said he wasn't to be argued with for a moment longer. He didn't look like he was going to take too kindly to that.

Wakka's mouth dropped open. It was something the Guardians had all been thinking about, but it was also something that no one was going to mention for fear of upsetting someone. Hearing Auron say it was one of the deepest blows he could have delivered…even if he was using that hefty sword of his.

"Sir Auron's just concerned about your health" Yuna said, breaking the awkward silence in a feeble attempt. She just wanted to get in and get some sleep without anyone causing a scene about the Al Bhed. Tidus could only imagine how awful she must be feeling. After all, she was hiding her heritage from her own Guardian.

"I'm not tired one bit" Wakka said stubbornly, crossing his arms across his chest firmly like a young child.

"Well, I am" Auron retorted. Without waiting for another argument from Wakka, he turned round and waltzed into the shop, leaving the rest of them trailing after him feeling rather subdued. No one could quite believe what had just been said.

On the inside, it was a lot different to how Tidus would have imagined it. Instead of it being dirty and run-down, it was clean and homely. Each room was small, yet held the necessities. They were also lit by candles, casting a friendly glow across the room that cocooned you and made you instantly feel relaxed as soon as you stepped in. Tidus was sharing a room with Wakka, much to his distaste.

Usually, sharing with Wakka wasn't so bad. He didn't snore, they always managed to have a good laugh and there wasn't any awkwardness.

This experience was a lot different.

All Wakka did was pace the little room that they had whilst muttering about how awful the Al Bhed were.

"What was Sir Auron thinking making us sleep in a place like this?" He muttered to himself.

"Well, we need some sleep" Tidus tried to reason.

"No, we need to get outta here before we become infected like the Al Bhed" Wakka spat viciously. "They're everything that's wrong with Spira! How could he possibly think it would be a good idea for us to stay here? They tried to kidnap Yuna. That ain't our fault. We protect her. Those Al Bhed are just sneaky."

"Wakka, can we please get some sleep!?" Tidus exclaimed. It was the only thing he could do to get Wakka to actually listen to him.

"Fine, I'll just rant about it in my dreams" Wakka grumbled, clambering into bed as Tidus let his eyes close. He hadn't realised just how tired he was until he lay back and let his body relax. He only had moments before he slipped into sleep.

When he woke up just a few hours later, he found he was unable to get back to sleep and get the rest he probably needed. There were just too many thoughts swimming around in his head.

He stumbled over to the main reception area where he found Lulu standing on her own in the corner, her eyes scanning over random objects on the desks. They seemed to look like weird ornaments…possibly gifts to buy for tourists or something like that.

"As if I could sleep!" Tidus yawned as he stretched his arms out widely, probably looking like the weirdest person ever. When he realised she was just going to ignore him, he took a step out of the shop.

The sun was beginning to set, casting Spira in a red glow that made everything around him seem so much more magical.

"Whoa, check it out" He breathed to himself, the sight before him simply captivating him. He found it hard to believe that something could actually be this beautiful. In Zanarkand, he had never really found the time to watch the sunset. You could barely see it because of all the skyscrapers. Here, it was astounding.

That sunset was different from the one I saw in Kilika. It was quiet…almost gentle.

"Watcha up to?" Tidus asked Yuna once he found her quite well concealed in the long grass, her eyes trained on the tranquil sunset.

She let out a little squeak, not expecting anyone to find her here. She recovered herself quickly, fixed Tidus with a smile and patted the grass invitingly.

"Pretty" She sighed, as though she had never seen anything like it before.

"Sure is" He mused, sensing that he was going to have one of those heartfelt conversations with Yuna again. It was the type that left him questioning everything he had ever known and even his own being at times. Yes, she just managed to have that effect on him.

"I wish I could live in a place like this" Yuna dreamed, beginning to look like she was in a trance. Tidus could see where she was coming from. It was like you were protected from the world here. No one could harm you and every day there would be beautiful sights like this to take your breath away. Who wouldn't want that? "Peaceful…living with a smile on my face every day."

"You can, once you beat Sin, right?" Tidus reminded. He had the image of everyone going back to their normal lives once the pilgrimage was over. Hell, perhaps Yuna would even let him tag along with her. After all, it didn't seem that he would have anywhere else to go.

She nodded ever so slightly, but Tidus could see the sad look crossing her eyes. What could have brought that on? "But then a new Sin will be born anyway…"

"Well, then you can just beat it again" Tidus returned simply with a small smile as though it was truly just that easy.

"I wish I could" Yuna sighed. Well, what was stopping her? If she was strong enough to do it the first time, surely she could do it the second time…right?

"Hey, you can" Tidus promised defiantly. "Trust me. You are the best Summoner out there."

She said nothing.

"Yuna, why does Sin always come back?" Tidus asked. It was the question that had been on his mind ever since he found out that Sin could just be born once more. He had always thought that something like that would be impossible.

"Sin, is our punishment for our vanity" Yuna explained. "And it will not go away until we've atoned."

"How do we do that?" Tidus asked, feeling more like an inquisitive child as each second went on. "What did we do that was so bad in the first place? Oh, was it using lots of machina or something? Oh, wait, was that such a bad thing, really?"

"It's funny" Yuna thought aloud.

"Hmm?"

"Ever since I was young, I never questioned it" Yuna continued. "But now that you ask me if it is that bad or not, I don't know. There are so many things I don't know."

"Well then, we're the same" Tidus joked. It felt nice to have someone who didn't have all the answers either. He didn't feel as alone in his cluelessness. "Oh, such thinking is very unbecoming of a Summoner." Tidus joked, mocking Maester Mika in a way that was probably frowned upon. "Sound like Mika?" At that, she let out a loud laugh that simply felt the air around them in such a beautiful way.

"That's not very nice, you know" She tried to chastise, but she was too busy laughing at his jokes to really care.

"You know…during a game, you have to think of Blitz and nothing else, you know?" Tidus began, just as clueless as to where this was going as Yuna was.

"Okay" She said, shooting him and awkward look as she wondered why he was telling her this.

"You can't think, 'that's a cute girl in the fifth seat from the right,' and you can't be thinking about where you're gonna go on that date because the minute you do, that's when you lose."

She still looked just as confused.

"You see…uh…Yuna" He sighed, wishing he could just find the right words. "What I mean is, you really shouldn't worry, you know? After we beat Sin, that's when you can worry about the future."

"I guess" She whispered, still looking sad. It seemed Tidus didn't really have a way with words like he had always thought he had.

"But, Yuna" Tidus went on. "How are you supposed to beat something big like that?" He couldn't understand how such a petite girl could kill such a gigantic and deadly beast like Sin. It just shouldn't be logically possible.

"The Final Summoning." She answered delicately. "It's the only way to defeat Sin. The only way. With it, we can call the Final Aeon. That's the goal of the pilgrimage."

None of this was making any sense to Tidus.

"The Fayth of the Final Summoning lies waiting in the far north to greet Summoners that complete their pilgrimage…at the worlds edge…in Zanarkand."

"In Zanarkand?" Tidus asked in disbelief.

She gave a shake of her head, instantly regretting giving him the chance to get his hopes up. She felt simply awful for doing so.

"She means the ruins of a city destroyed one thousand years ago" A voice recognisable as Auron's said from behind them. Well, he had always been blunt. Tidus just didn't expect it to hurt so much hearing it.

"You sure it's ruins?" Tidus asked, hoping this was all just a mean trick that Auron planned. There was no way his hometown was just a big pile of rubble now. Things like that just don't happen…at least not to him they don't.

"That's what I've heard" Yuna said evasively, trying her best to spare his feelings. In other words, it was just a fragment of the life that he used to have. She just didn't want to say it to his face.

"You will see it for yourself…soon enough" Auron continued. Was it honestly impossible for Auron to sympathise with anyone? How could he not care about Zanarkand? "Yuna, come back inside." As Auron stalked away, she hung back a little so she could ask Tidus something in privacy.

"You will go with us to Zanarkand?" She questioned.

"Yeah, I'll go" He whispered, still shocked by the thought of what Zanarkand must look like now. He just couldn't wrap his head around it.

Yuna gave a small gasp, pleased by his words. For some reason, she couldn't imagine how she would deal with the Final Summoning if he wasn't there.

"I'll go to Zanarkand to see it with my own eyes." He concluded, feeling a rush of sickness overcome him. He just couldn't imagine how all of this had happened. It was just too much to comprehend at once. It would take him a while to get over this.

He stalked off in the direction that Auron had taken, leaving Yuna to linger behind, seeking comfort from the sunset once more.

I knew…it couldn't be my Zanarkand, but I had to make sure.


The next morning, Tidus didn't feel quite as miserable as he had the night before. He had grown a little more used to the idea of Zanarkand just being a pile of rubble. He wasn't happy about it, but he could kind of believe it.

"Man, you slept like a log" Wakka jeered when Tidus finally made it down to reception. "I was beginning to think you weren't gonna wake up."

"That bed was more comfortable than it looked." Tidus excused. The truth was that his mind had been swamped with so much new information that he probably just needed that time to sleep it all off.

"It was, ya?" He agreed.

"AAH SOMEONE HELP!" A voice from outside screamed. Instantly, Tidus' heart began thumping in his chest. It was like as soon as there was danger nearby, he got an adrenaline rush. "THE CHOCOBOS!"

"That's our cue" Auron stated as though this was a normal occurrence. It was getting to the point where Tidus didn't think it was possible for Auron to ever freak out. No matter what situation it was, he always managed to stay calm and composed. "Let's go."

Tidus lingered back as Auron and the others hurried to see what the commotion was about. For some reason, he found himself wanting to stay here. This seemed to be his safe place. All he wanted was to be transported back to the sunset last night where it seemed that nothing could ever harm him again.

Knowing he would never be able to live it down if he hung back, he sprinted outside to see what had caused the blood-curdling scream.

It was a massacre.

Chocobo's were running wild with clear fear prancing in their eyes. Loud screeches met Tidus' ears both from the Chocobo's and the most horrifying monster Tidus had ever seen.

It was absolutely huge with long arms that were used to grab Chocobo's trying to run away. It was a savage animal, only happy when ripping the heads from the oversized birds, leaving a trail of dead Chocobo's in its wake.

It was a sight that Tidus didn't think he would ever be able to get out of his head no matter how much he wanted to.

Before Tidus even had time to think, it took a swing at him. He only just managed to dodge it in time, but the fumble meant that when it came in for a second attack, there was nowhere for him to go. He just couldn't get up quick enough.

A large fist came cracking down, splitting over his head to the point where all he could see was stars. He heard screams of spectators and a gasp from Yuna as well as Lulu scolding her and telling her not to heal him. It was nice to know how much she cared about him.

He shoved the pain to the back of his mind, although it was one of the hardest things he had ever had to do. The people of Spira mattered the most right now. The only thing that was important was keeping them safe.

Slowly and painfully, he clambered back up. It seemed that now that he was injured, the monster thought he would be an easy target and kept coming at him with relentless hits.

Tidus had grown much better at dodging them. It didn't take him very long to figure out how this beast worked. He had a pattern, probably too stupid to mix it up.

"We gotta kill it now" Wakka grunted, pelting his Blitzball at it as hard as he could, but something so meek didn't look like it was going to do any damage whatsoever. "If we don't, it's gonna kill Tidus before we know it." His words weren't exactly very supportive, but what he was saying was true. They had to move now before the fiend got in another good hit.

The Chocobo Eater must have sensed that Wakka was posing a threat with all of his warnings. Now that two of them were dangerous, the monster pulled out all the stops. With its huge arms, it swept them back as though they were just mere pests.

Tidus could feel how close he was to the edge. If he too just one more step back, he'd fall straight over the precipice and down at a height that he couldn't even measure. If the fiend made that move again, all of them were surely goners.

As if she was a beacon of hope, Yuna stepped forward, putting herself in a dangerous position. She outstretched her hands, before whispering "come to us." Once again, the white ball of light surrounded her; pulling in more light from anywhere it could find the energy. Once it was almost blinding, it exploded out. A loud shriek was heard right before a beautiful bird came hurtling from the air and landed right next to Yuna. She gave it a quick pat on the head before stepping back to let it do its job.

Valefor was insane. The hits it delivered were even more violent than the Chocobo Eater's. Its sharp claws dug into the fiend and ripped away flesh and cracked bones with sheer aggression.

The Chocobo Eater only managed to get in one hit. It threw a punch that hit Valefor square in the jaw, knocking him off balance and sending him soaring high into the air to get away from the monster. Now that Valefor didn't seem to pose much of a threat any longer, the Chocobo Eater focussed on the humans almost quivering right before him.

As he went for Tidus, he knew it would be the end. He couldn't handle one more blow from this insanely strong beast. One more and he would black out and no amount of healing from Yuna was going to be able to bring him back.

Valefor didn't fail them.

He came hurtling straight back down, his claws pointing downwards in a menacing manner. As soon as he connected with the Chocobo Eater, it let out a scream of pure agony. The claws must have pierced straight through the brain. It staggered for a while, its eyes rolling back into its head before it fell back with a huge judder.

Although he was in great pain, Tidus let out a cheer at the victory before them.

As soon as everyone else realised what had happened, they let out shouts of happiness as the Chocobo's around them ran freely.

"Have you an interest in riding Chocobo's?" Rin, the owner of the travel agency asked. "As a token of our gratitude, the first time is free of charge. Please ask the attendant if you wish to rent."

"Thank you so much for saving the Chocobo's" The attendant gushed with relief in her eyes as she breathed deeply. She didn't look like she could possibly be happier.

"We wanna ride the Chocobo's" Tidus said happily.

"Sure, take these ones" She said as she pulled a few Chocobo's by the reigns to get closer. She helped them up and told them how to ride them. "If they go too fast for you, just pull on the reigns. If they're going too slow, give em a little kick."

Riding a Chocobo was weird to Tidus. The saddle was more than just uncomfortable. He felt awful about kicking the Chocobo's, and he thought he was going to fall of countless times.

The others seemed to have the skills for this, though. Surely they had to have done this before to be this good. Yuna kept Tidus close by, whispering instructions to help him through it without alerting the others of how bad he was. It was nice to have someone there who didn't want to humiliate him whenever they got the chance.

Wakka led the way over a rickety bridge and into the dense trees of the gorge. There was a sandy path that led the way, making Tidus feel like he was in a leafy desert. After all, the sun was beating down on him ominously, but if he stuck to riding beneath the huge leaves that stuck out into the middle of the path, he was able to get some shade.

They ran into a little problem. "You have to leave your Chocobo's here. Come on, everyone off." They were ordered. Well, they had made it this far on foot, a little longer couldn't hurt.

Walking on foot was much harder than Tidus would have thought it would be. After just five minutes of it, he was sweating and panting heavily.

"Gatta and Luzzu reporting, Sir" He heard just in front of him.

"This is the last of em" One of the officials said.

"Good to have you with us" The other chipped in.

"Go on through" The first said.

Inside of the cage they were pulling through was a fiend screeching and fighting to get out. It looked like a little crab. It was quite positively one of the most disgusting things Tidus had ever seen.

"Show me how to play Blitz some time" Gatta called once his eyes fell on Tidus who was way too preoccupied with looking into the cage.

"Wait around, we'll have Sin beaten in no time." Luzzu said confidently.

Tidus said nothing as they walked away. After all, he didn't see how they could with a monster in a cage. Yuna would be the one to beat Sin…he was sure of it.

He attempted to follow through the way they came, but came across yet another problem.

"I'm sorry, I can't let you pass" The guard ordered, sticking his arm out in front of Tidus as an act of warning him off.

"Hey, you're a Summoner and her Guardians, right?" The other guard asked as he watched Yuna carefully.

"Yes, I am Lady Yuna…daughter of Lord Braska" Yuna answered with a sweet smile. She knew how to work her famous heritage into a conversation to make sure she got what she needed. She was a clever woman.

"I'm sorry for any inconvenience" He went on, but he still wasn't going to let them pass.

"Hey, what was all that about with the cages?" Tidus asked, figuring he could at least get something out of this.

"What? They didn't tell you?" Asked the first guard. "We're bringing in Sinspawn from all over Spira here. Sinspawn inevitably draws Sin, right? We're going to lure it into a trap." It didn't seem like all that good an idea to Tidus. Sin seemed smart; it wouldn't get lured into a trap. Surely this would backfire on them.

As they began to walk away, they saw Maester Seymour striding over to where they were stood. He was the last person they ever expected to see here.

Yuna did the prayer as he mirrored her. All of this formal business really got on Tidus' nerves. Why couldn't they just wave?

"So, we meet again, Lady Yuna" He commented with that soft, irritating voice of his…the one that sounded like he had something stuck in the back of his throat.

"Y-yes" She stammered, finally rising from her position of practically kneeling on the hard ground.

"You look troubled, is there anything I can do?" He questioned with what Tidus believed to be fake concern.

"Well…" Yuna trailed off, casting her eyes over to where the group had been moved away from. If Seymour threw his weight around, they could probably get past.

"I see…" Was all Seymour said as he sauntered over to the guards.

"Maester Seymour" The guard acknowledged, throwing his fist over his heart. "Let me show you to the Command Centre."

"Hold, I have a request" Seymour said in that self-important way of his.

"Yes, your grace?"

"I need to have Summoner Yuna and her Guardians let through to the Command Centre." Seymour answered as though it was the most simple of requests.

"But, Maester Seymour" The guard objected. "Maester Seymour, Sir."

"Do not worry" Seymour assured. "I will take full responsibility."

"Very well, they may pass" The guard allowed rather reluctantly as he stepped away from the entrance. It seemed to physically pain him to know that they were going through when they weren't really allowed.

"It is done" Seymour said as though they hadn't already figured that out.

Yuna gasped in gratitude, hardly able to believe how easy it had been to start up once more with her pilgrimage when she thought it may have been over for the time-being. "Thank you, your grace" She gushed.

"Yuna, it's time to go" Lulu urged, sensing that Yuna would have been perfectly content basking in the glory rather than continuing on.

"Oh, right" She chuckled at her own silliness. As they walked forward, Tidus shook his head in annoyance.

"Who does he think he is?" He asked bitterly.

"He's a Maester" Wakka answered simply. Yes, it seemed Maesters had a free pass to do whatever they wanted. "Better get used to it, ya?"

Tidus was left to walk through alone, trailing behind the others. Why did Seymour get to do all the good deeds? It just wasn't fair.


This was quite possibly the hardest chapter I've ever written. There's just not all that much to write about a long path :') anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and feedback is much appreciated.


Baby You're My Immortal