A Pilgrimage of Unrest

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ashes, Jun 4, 2015.

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  1. Luca. Finally, Mori had reached the city where her journey would truly begin. It had been a long three days traversing the Mi'ihen Highroad, especially with those dreaded Chocobos bobbling along. Multiple people offered to give her a ride on their mount, but she always refused. She told them that she was on a journey that she must complete alone, which was true. But really, if she were honest, the Chocobos scared her. Mori was used to little creatures being friendly, not these monstrous bird things. It took all of her willpower not to pull her staff and start flinging elemental spells at them, especially when they rode up behind her.

    Fortunately she had kept her temper and found herself standing at the top of a large staircase leading into the city. Luca was the most impressive thing she had ever seen, full of lights and large structures. Leaning her hand on a stone, she watched the people milling around, more people than she had ever seen in her life. It filled her with courage, seeing them happily going about their lives. This is what she wanted to protect, along with her little town, and all the cities and towns across Spira. And she was one of the few who could actually make a difference.

    Luca was one of the larger cities in Spira, and she had been so distracted by the buildings and the people and the Blitzball arena that the ocean came as a surprise. It went on forever, and she could even see some white sails in the distance, probably coming in to port. Everything was new and exciting, but Mori knew that she needed to get to the Luca Temple to properly begin her journey.

    After entering town, Mori realized that finding the Temple was easier said than done. People seemed so busy that she didn't really want to bother them. Finally a balloon seller approached her, asking her to buy a balloon. Unable to say no to his earnest face, she dug into the small bit of Gil she had in her pouch, paying him for a bright blue balloon. "If it isn't trouble, could you point me toward the Luca Temple?" she asked, her fingers playing with the balloon string. He pointed her toward a large building with a spire reaching into the sky. Of course such an important institution would be in an impressive building. Thanking him, she shimmied her way through the thickening crowd. The Temple was near the city center, and the amount of people seemed to double as she pushed toward the stairs.

    Fortunately Mori was taller than a majority of the people milling about and was able to stay on the proper course. Before entering the large building, she passed her unwanted balloon on to a nearby child. The inside of the temple compared to the road outside was like night and day. It was quiet, reverent, and pretty empty. A few people prayed to the High Summoners of the past, their dusty statues imposing in the dim light. She wondered if she would get a statue. Would people find peace during her Calm? Would they pray to her spirit for courage? It was strange to think that she could affect so many people, mostly those that she would never meet. She supposed being a dusty statue was preferable to being a forgotten corpse in the rubble of Sin's attacks.

    Approaching the old man who was clearly the cleric in charge. "Excuse me sir!" she said, holding her head high. The stooped old man barely reached to her shoulder, so he had to crane his neck back to look her in the face. "I'm here to take my Summoner's challenge and gain the Luca Temple aeon!" This seemed like a powerful statement, one that she had been practicing on the Mi'ihen Highroad when she wasn't hiding from Chocobos.

    The old man's eyes somehow crinkled more than they already were, the unfriendly set of his lips making her second-guess her strategy of barging in with confidence. He took out an ancient staff and tapped it lightly to her forehead. She was consumed momentarily by a while light, only finding her bearings after he moved the staff. "Seems to be properly trained," he muttered, beginning to circle her like a hawk.

    "Yes, my village elder had me praying nearly all day and reading scripture and---"

    "Hush, girl," he said harshly, giving her outfit a rude look. It wasn't the typical summoning garb, sure, but it was her favorite outfit. "Where is your Guardian?"

    "I respectfully submit that I don't believe that I need a Guardian. I'm well versed in blac-"

    "No." The old man turned away, his staff clacking against the Temple floor.

    Mori was stunned. No one in her village was suitable to be a Guardian, so she had hoped to complete this journey on her own. She knew that she would face some opposition, but she figured she could talk with someone. "Hey, wait! You can't just say it like that! I've studied the scripture, and there isn't anything that explicitly-"

    The Temple priest turned, an angry expression on his wrinkled face. "I'm the one in charge here. No Temple will let you into the Cloister of Trials without a Guardian. Now either get a Guardian, or get out of my sight, you heathen girl!"

    Suddenly feeling very insecure, Mori turned on her heel and fled the Temple, bumping into people as she made her way toward the pier. She didn't stop until she could hear the lapping waves against the wooden docks, slowing to a standstill as she looked over the ocean. Would this be where her journey ended? Before it even started?

    No. Her father wouldn't have given up like this. He fought Sin with all of his might, and she would do the same. Wiping the unshed tears from her eyes, she decided that she would find a Guardian, at least for this first Cloister. The Gil she had was insufficient to hire someone, so she had to convince someone to help her out. How hard could that be? It would just be a few hours in the Cloister, she was sure, and everyone would want to help a Summoner.

    Feeling better about her chances, she made her way to the town square. Using her height advantage, she found a few guys in heavy armor, large swords and shields hanging from their backs and belts. Perfect! she thought, pulling her biggest smile on to her face.

    "Excuse me, gentlemen!" she said, waiting until there was a lull in their conversation to speak. "I'm a Summoner-in-training, and I require the assistance of a warrior to accompany me through Luca's Cloister of Trials!"

    The men stared at her, blank expressions on their faces. There were three of them, leaning against the wall of what appeared to be a popular restaurant. They towered over her, the largest having a deep looking scar across his left cheek. "It would only be a few hours, and while I cannot pay for your services, your charity will bring blessings from Yevon upon you!"

    They continued to stare, and Mori felt sweat beading at her temples. Perhaps she had made a mistake? The large scarred one shifted slightly, his hungry smile sending a chill down her spine. His heavy gauntlet landed on her shoulder, his fingers curling around the thin limb. "I'm sure we could find some way for you to... compensate us." The other two warriors started laughing, and Mori realized that she had definitely made a mistake.

    She tried to pull her shoulder away, but the man's grip was strong, the metal biting into her skin. "I'll... just go now..." she squeaked out, but she knew that she wasn't going anywhere. Mori wasn't sure, but she didn't think that this day could get any worse.
    #1 ashes, Jun 4, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2015
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  2. Alaric tucked the key of his room into his pack, before lifting it up onto his broad shoulders, and checking the door again to see if it was locked. He pushed, and felt that it offered no give, giving him a sense of relief that while he was gone, his things would be as secured as he could make them. Aside from the clothes in his pack, the gil in his pocket, and the sword on his hip, all of his possessions were within those four walls, including the polished armor that had been been like a second skin to him these past few years. They were sending him to Thamasa, near the warning city of Bevelle. To carry the armor and weapon of a Lucan Paladin would be wrought with peril, and though Alaric didn’t like having to hide who he was, he reckoned that he’d like the Bevelle response to his presence even less if he were to be found out.

    His feet carried him out of the barracks, down towards the city proper, his idea to gather a bite to eat before heading out on his own. The events of the last few days were playing in his mind, while he pondered over his misstep with the Knights of the Crown. He thought them to be honorable men, and though he had surely not meant to bring their honor into question, he hadn’t expected an outcome such as this to his inquiries. Surely they had to be thinking the same about the black robe, and the sudden deaths that seemed to trail the man like a ribbon. So why did they do nothing about it? Ser Jorvan was an honorable man, surely he would act if they had enough evidence. The answer was to the importance of the mage, it had to be.

    The thoughts made the smell of Kiven’s seem dulled, so he pushed them from his mind, as he took a place in the back corner. He ordered quietly, a plate of chicken and potatoes that he had become quite fond of in the last few months, and sat about watching the patrons, wondering in the back of his mind when the next time he’ll be able to come into this place will be, how much will be different then? Would it be a matter of months, or is this a journey that will consume years? Or my life?

    That thought was worse than the others, but before he could shove it away, his eyes captured on the figure of a girl, approaching three men. Interest turned his attention to her, as it was not wise nor safe for a young lady to approach three sell-swords, especially those three. Joran Tilamn, Delian J’dir, and the Ronso Kilve. She couldn’t have picked three shadier characters in all of Luca had she tried. Her voice carried because he strained to hear, and when the request was made, Alaric almost winced with anticipation of what would happen next.

    “That’s enough Delian,” Alaric spoke as the woman attempted to make her departure, and he pushed himself away from his table. He rose to his full height, easily the same as Delian J’dir, with a frame just as broad and an equally violent path. Alaric walked easily around the tables between the him and the three warriors, his right hand coming to rest against the hilt of the iron long sword on his left hip, as though ready to draw at a moment’s notice. His eyes were cold, hard as stone as he sat the weight of his gaze upon each man in turn. “Let her go.”
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  3. Mori thought she would cry in relief when the man approached. Unlike the men she approached, his face was calm and he looked clean. Suddenly she realized that these weren't the men she should have approached, but how was she to know? Everything in that moment seemed very overwhelming and all she wanted was to go home to her tiny town, curl up in the bed she had known her whole life, and forget that any of this had even happened.

    When she felt the grip loosen slightly on her shoulder, she ducked herself out from under the man's grasp. Stepping away, she ducked behind her savior, peeking at the other men over his shoulder. They seemed to recognize him, and they looked at one another as if having a silent debate. The man with the scar, Delian, glanced down to the sheathed sword, then up to the stranger's hard expression. By this point people had stopped and begun staring, and this seemed to end whatever the warriors had been thinking of doing.

    "She came to us," Delian rumbled, giving her one last hungry look as the men turned and slowly trudged away, the other two looking over their shoulders occasionally with annoyed expressions. Slowly the people began moving again, and the breath returned to Mori's lungs. She thought her heart might have stopped for a moment. Now she found herself with this man who bravely defended her, when it had been her own fault that she had gotten in trouble.

    Moving to face him, she bowed her head. "I'm so sorry for the trouble, sir," she said, trying to stop the trembling in her voice. "This is my first time in Luca, so I'm unfamiliar with many things. Including who to avoid, apparently." Raising her head, she noticed his kind brown eyes, plus the fact that he was a solid few inches taller than her. "I would offer a reward, but as you must have overheard, I don't have much to give." If things had been different, she might have thought to ask the Temple for something to give to the man, but the cruel face of the priest came back to her mind.

    "I am Mori, a Summoner-in-Training. Might I ask the name of my kind savior?" she asked, plastering a smile on to her face.
    #3 ashes, Jun 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2015
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  4. “I need no reward milady summoner,” Alaric spoke, turning his eyes from the retreating men to the summoner who spoke before him, his eyes looking down on her small frame. The first thing that struck him, now that he really got a glimpse of her, was the color of her hair. Though it wasn’t unheard of, it wasn’t a common color found here in Luca, but spoke more of aged blood of the hills. A proud people, as well known for their strength of personality as they are for their strength of body. She was obviously no exception to this, as she spoke with an unexpected honesty about her flaw. Alaric let his lips touch with a smile, to further drive home the idea that he wasn’t going to harm her, incase doubt would creep into her mind that he may be the ‘wrong kind’.

    Alaric Diermond,” Alaric spoke, naming himself, “ a pleasure to meet you Summoner Mori.”

    The light dims…

    The sound of voices off in the distance resonated at the back of his mind. The inn was filled with the sound of chatter, people talking, laughing, yelling at one another, but this sound was different. There was a desperation in the back of the voice, a soft whisper that spoke to Alaric’s soul. Only once before had he heard the like, the day he stood before the crystal at the center of the Luca cathedral, bend his knee before the eyes of Yevon, and swore his allegiance. The voice was the same as it was in his memories, as though time had no dimmed them. Alaric’s eyes returned their focus on the summoner girl before him, the smile on his face fading, and his jaw setting.

    “What brings you to Luca, milady summoner,” Alaric spoke, trying to prolong their contact. Was the voice real, or did his memory play tricks on him? Why after so long would it show itself again now? Why in the presence of this girl? No, it was just his mind playing games on him. Just a trick of an active, stressed mind, looking for a way to avoid Thamasa.

    And in the darkness we seek absolution.

    The voice speaks again, this time a little more loudly. Alaric’s hand falls to the hilt of his sword, instinct drawing against his rising alarm. His eyes fix on the summoner’s face once again, and his breath catches in his lungs. Before him, as though etched in a spiritual glow, a glyph dances upon the lady’s skin. His eyes could pass through it, telling Alaric that it wasn’t truly there, but he could see it nonetheless. Perhaps to many it would seem nothing more than a graphic, a twist of vines and limbs of an ancient and gnarled tree, but to any who grew up on the Islands as Alaric did, listened to the stories of his grandfather, the symbol of the father was as bold and present in his mind as the shape of a sword.

    Bring her to me…

    The name of the summon to be found at Luca was a secret, as were the names of the other Aeons, known only to summoner’s upon receiving the blessing… but the symbol on her forehead, the invisible mark brought to his eyes drew a whispered name from Alaric’s lips. He felt cold, as though all heat had left his body, and that the last time he had been warm was a year gone. How long had he been standing there? How much time had passed? His legs ached as though it had been hours, by his mind perceived only moments.

    “Odin,” Alaric whispers, bringing his eyes to the summoner’s. “He calls.”
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  5. At his greeting, she couldn't help the flush of pride that crossed her face. It was the first time someone actually had referred to her as a Summoner, and she felt something click into place. Yes, this was what she was supposed to be doing, despite her rash of bad luck that day. Perhaps this man was her good luck charm, so to speak.

    He looked different than the men she had originally approached. It was clear to her now exactly how very wrong she had been, thinking that they would help her. Though he was dressed plainly, he held himself like the Crusader leaders she would see come through her town as a child. He was someone of great kindness, she could tell, and the question she was going to ask died on her lips. Was it right of her to ask such a burden on someone she didn't know? This man wouldn't allow her to ditch him after the first temple, he was too noble for that. Her burst of confidence began to wither, a hand raising to absently twist the end of her braid around a finger.

    "I have yet to obtain an aeon yet," she began, trying to keep her chin up and talk confidently. That was something that the village elder had told her before she left - act like you belong someplace and then you will. "So I was looking for a Guardian to assist me with the Cloister of Trials, though I tried to get the priest to let me in by myself, and he was rather rude in his denial of my request..." she said, her frustration at the temple priest bleeding into her tone. She needed to stay focused, considering she had a tendency to be too honest when she got to talking.

    Suddenly she noticed that his kind smile had melted, the hard line of his jaw prominent as he kept his eyes on her. But he seemed to be very distracted. Did those thugs come back? She glanced around briefly, but the crowd was the same, and still very noisy. When she looked back, his hand is on his sword, and now Mori is really worried. She trusted too easily, she knew, but she didn't think this man would harm her. Was there a danger that she couldn't see? He seemed entranced by her face, and the attention made her slightly uncomfortable. "S-Sir Alaric?" she said, her tone betraying more of her worry than she would have liked. She reached forward, her fingertips touching the hand gripped to the hilt of his sword briefly.

    Her hand shot back as though she had been burned. Something strange was going on in his mind, she thought, for when she touched him a strange, powerful feeling flowed into her. It went to the part of her that called fourth magic, that could feel the presence of unsent souls. Suddenly it felt like they were the only ones in the room, the shuffling people forgotten as they just stared at one another.

    Finally he spoke. "Odin." The name squeezed at her heart in a way that made it hard to breathe for a moment. She had never hear the name before, but she felt as if she knew it, had always known it. "He calls."

    The trance was broken by his words, and she needed to get out of the inn. It was as if she couldn't breathe properly with all the people and the sounds, so she grabbed Alaric's wrist, barely noticing that his skin felt completely normal now, and pulled him toward the door.

    Once they were outside, she dragged him around the side of the building. Of course, she wasn't truly strong enough to make him go anywhere, so she was fortunate that he was complying. Once they were alone, she turned to him, crossing her arms tightly. "What was that?" she asked, the air feeling colder than she knew it was in reality. "Why... Who was speaking to you?" Though others would probably consider her foolish, she was not afraid of Alaric, even after that strange episode. No, she was afraid for him, because whatever spoke to him was incredibly strong and incredibly old, and beings of that caliber didn't play nice.
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  6. For a moment, Alaric was dizzy, and he felt the pressures of Mori attempting to guide him. He went willingly, his mind filled with past few moments, still trying to assimilate the what had happened with what she had said to him. A glyph, and a feeling…. At first he wanted to describe it as dread, but it didn’t seem quite right. Reverence perhaps, though his mind was reeling with trying to exactly explain how the two were so closely linked that he could be so torn between them. The sensation was something he never felt, as though the soul that connected with him, and he was thoroughly convinced that it was a soul, was both decent and depraved. Who was this fayth, this Odin who summons Paladins to deliver to them fledgling summoners?

    “I don’t know,” Alaric spoke once they stopped, settling his eyes honestly and fully down upon the woman’s face before him, to let her see that he wasn’t trying to hide anything. The eyes being the window to the soul, so let her see that he is laid bare before her. “It is only the second time I’ve ever heard his voice, and the first time he’s named himself,” Alaric continued, recalling the image of the glyph that shone on her head in an unnatural, ephemeral light. His mind brought back the memory of the chill, causing him to shiver. “But he called himself Odin.”

    Alaric’s head turned to the side, to let his peripheral vision see down the alley in which they hid themselves, then he, as she had done with him, took her by the wrist, and carried her a few steps deeper into the alleyway, to better shield his voice from any who would be listening. The darkness has ears, so Alaric was sure, and he didn’t know the weight of what he was going to say, how it could be used in the ears of the wrong people. “I believe Odin is the Aeon who waits for you in the chamber of the Fayth. One other time, I’ve heard his voice speak to me. When I bowed before the great crystal in the Cathedral to take my vows. He warned me that the oaths I take will one day weigh too heavily upon me, and I will be forced to shed them. I find this to be extremely doubtful; however, it is what was said. Today however, Odin says that I am to bring you before him.”

    An exhaled breath, and cast his gaze back towards the mouth of the alleyway, letting them fleck back down to hers a moment later, as he continued. “And so I plan to do Lady Summoner, if you’ll allow me, that is. A summoner without an Aeon is like a knight without a blade. A tragic thing. Allow me to accompany you into the trials, and I will see you safely to this fayth.

    The light dims and in darkness we seek absolution… the memory returned, whispering in the back of his mind.
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  7. When he looked down at her, Mori was relieved to see that his eyes were clear. Whatever had previously gripped his mind seemed to have left, and she released a breath that she didn't know that she had been holding. Alaric spoke with some familiarity to the voice, and her eyebrows rose when he said that this was the second time such a thing had happened. Though she had only heard a brief snippet of a word, the voice wasn't human, and it held no kindness that she could sense.

    Alaric pulled her further down the alley, and she looked around. It looked as though they were alone, but considering her track record with her poor understanding of Luca, she let him make the decision. His voice was lower but still firm, and the name Odin from his lips sent a chill down her spine. When he mentioned the Aeon in the Luca Temple, she knew instinctively that he was right. Odin waited for her, and she felt a fear deep in her heart. Was she ready for such a creature? If she formed a bond with him, Odin would be her's to command. It felt intimidating, and she hadn't even seen him yet.

    Pushing her fears aside for the moment, she continued to listen as he spoke of his vows. Then he was a knight of some sort, she thought. The way he stood, his speech, his bravery, all of it reminded her of the stories that her father would tell her in her youth of the brave warriors who fought against Sin. Being forced to shed his vows sounded like a grim fate; Mori couldn't imagine choosing to give up her Pilgrimage. But did the voice, this Odin, lie? Could Aeons see the future? What could happen to tear this seemingly faithful man away from his duty?

    Her heart nearly stopped when he offered to help her reach the Chamber of the Fayth. Wasn't that what she had been wanting? But it all seemed wrong, like a dark cloud was hanging over their heads. This Odin had told Alaric to bring her before him. There were others with the power of Summoning - so why was she special? She had never once thought of her power as special, just a means to an end. She was rather plain, she thought, besides her ability with magic. So why would this powerful being have what seemed to be a special interest in her?

    "You honor me," she found herself saying. Her mind was still cloudy, doubts and fear clawing at the back of her thoughts. Her hand began tugging at the end of her braid and she wanted to look at anything but his eyes. But she couldn't look away. Seeing him, so confident and proud, offering to be her Guardian for the moment, gave her courage. Clearing her throat, she forced a smile on to her face. "To have a Guardian such as you, even if only temporarily, will show that miserable Temple priest that I'm not a heathen," she said, taking a moment to straighten her skirts.
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  8. “You have everything you need,” Alaric spoke, a raise of his brow adding to the tone of his voice, as he slowly begun moving towards the mouth of the alleyway, no longer feeling the need for seclusion. Their path was set before them, it wasn’t a secret as far as he was concerned, so why would he care if anyone overheard the preparations. The question though, did make his mind start to wonder what exactly one would need to feel prepared for such an event. He’s never entered a cloister before, never known a summoner or guardian to know what they might suggest bringing. All he knew was the cloisters could be dangerous, but also benign. They had an unpredictable nature about them that Alaric didn’t quite care for in the moment.

    “I’ve never heard of a fiend in a cloister, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that, but the duration of our stay there could be lengthy. I have some travel provisions with me, as I was planning to leave town for a while, and I’d be glad to share them while we are in the cloister, to keep up our strength if we need it,” he spoke, trying to take a practical approach to the upcoming task. As they exited the alleyway, his feet chose the path towards the temple.

    His mind traced back on what she said as the silence fell over them, keying into the description she gave of Brother Astair, the aged priest who ran the Luca temple. It obviously held some context to it, and Alaric would bet it derived from an initial meeting between her and the priest. “So you met with the temple already?” Alaric asked, hoping to prompt the story behind her view of Astair, and perhaps gain some insight into what may happen when they reach the temple. Blindly, he agreed to guide this summoner, based on nothing more than the haunting demands of what he perceived to be an aeon whom he would never, could never, serve. Leaps of faith never bothered him. He was a man of faith after all, but sometimes he like to know the lay of the land after making the leap. Who was this girl?
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  9. Mori walked next to Alaric, keeping stride with him as they made their way to the temple. She had to admit, it was nice to walk next to someone taller than her for a change. They entered back into the busy street, the bustling people causing Mori to shift a bit closer to Alaric's elbow. This whole day had been overwhelming, and the people pushing and bustling around as they walked didn't help.

    "From what I've heard and read, the Cloisters are a test of mental strength and physical fortitude. Nothing really describes them in detail, as it is forbidden by Yevon to disclose the secrets of the Cloisters. I'm hopeful that my prayers with reach the Aeon quickly, keeping our time in the Temple short." As they walked, her stomach growled a little, and her face flushed with embarrassment. "Though I might have to take you up on borrowing your rations. I don't want to stop now, at any rate."

    They continued, the loud street noise buzzing in her ears. They were close to the proper street when Alaric asked her about her previous visit to the Temple. Mori sighed, crossing her arms with a frown. "Yes, I visited the Temple earlier," she confirmed, nodding her head. "I was hoping to... You must understand. I come from a very small town full of the elderly, the weak, and the young. Growing up I was the only person my age. Most of the men in the village are either sickly or have left to join the fight against Sin. I trained day and night, reading scripture and practicing magic, in the hopes that I wouldn't need a Guardian to accompany me on my Pilgrimage." She glanced up at him for a moment before returning her eyes to the street ahead. "It seems foolish to you, I'm sure, but I didn't want the town to worry about me. I wanted to be strong enough to protect myself. But when I tried to explain myself at the Temple, that priest just brushed me aside, like my opinions meant nothing!"

    They had reached the Temple now, and her eyes went to the door. "And he didn't like my outfit. Guess seeing my knees is a bit scandalous for him." She tugged on her skirt a bit, trying to cover the offending skin as they entered the Temple. "With you at my side, maybe he'll take me seriously." As the last word came out of her mouth, the priest turned and they locked eyes with one another. Mori couldn't hide the frown that crossed her face, but she kept her temper. Maybe Alaric could reason with him.
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