|miko_no_da (miko_no_da) wrote,|
@ 2009-06-11 09:32:00
|Entry tags:||'long road to destiny', cloud, ffvii, ffx, fic, sephiroth, zack|
[Fic] A Long Road To Destiny - FFVII/FFX - Zack, Cloud & Sephiroth - 2/26
Title: A Long Road to Destiny
Series: FFVII/FFX fusion
Pairing: Cloud, Zack & Sephiroth
Warnings: violence, angst, swearing, the usual
Chapter length: 4800
Total length: 10,992
The summoner's journey is a long, hard path to walk. Having guardians you trust makes all the difference in the world.
Cloud wasn't sure when the fayth released him. At some point he was vaguely aware that he'd fallen to his knees and was hunched in on himself, arms wrapped around him as if to help keep him from exploding. The raw energy pouring through his system was too much for him to handle, too much for anyone to handle. It was like he'd swallowed the whole universe, and now it was trying to expand inside him.
He struggled to hang on to himself, clinging with metaphorical teeth and nails to life. He forgot about his desire to bring the Al Bhed and Spirans together, forgot about his need to prove that he wasn't useless. There was no room in his brain for thought, only a primitive will to survive driving him to fight through the pain.
Slowly, so slowly he'd have screamed in frustration if he hadn't already been screaming in agony, the searing pulse of power began to subside. After some indefinable amount of time, Cloud was able to stop screaming long enough to gasp for breath. Seconds or centuries later awareness of the world outside his skin returned as the pain eased. The air in the Chamber felt blessedly cool against his over-sensitive body.
Cloud forced his eyes open, panting for air and trying to stop the shaking in his body. The fayth had vanished, the Hymn continuing as if nothing had happened, but it had left an invisible mark on Cloud. Deep inside him he could feel something resonating to the Hymn, something very large and very powerful.
He had no idea what had just happened. Surely not all summoners went through this! He'd nearly died, and he still wasn't sure if he'd passed or failed the test. Or if it had been a test at all, and not just the fayth trying to kill him for his presumption.
He tried to get to his feet, and nearly cracked his head open on the floor when his knees gave out on him instead. If he'd thought he was physically exhausted and emotionally drained before he'd entered the temple, it was nothing compared to how he felt right now. He desperately hoped Zack hadn't gone wandering off, because he didn't think he'd make it very far on his own. How long had it been?
After a moment to rest and gather his wits, he managed to half crawl, half drag himself over to the nearest wall. With that for support he somehow made it to his feet, and lurched over to the door. He touched it, and nothing happened. Trembling, he pushed at it with all the strength he had left, and still nothing happened. It remained locked, and there was no other way out.
"You couldn't kill me, so you're going to keep me here until I starve to death?" he cried out, pounding weakly at the door. "Why did you send me here if it was just to die?"
He swayed as power rose abruptly within him. Ghostly feathers brushed against the inside of his skin, making him shiver. A momentary harmony joined the melody of the Hymn, and the whole chamber resonated with it. The door slid open smoothly, as if it had never resisted him at all. Trying not to cry with relief, Cloud staggered out into the larger chamber beyond.
Zack was still there, practicing headshots against the wall with a blitzball that he'd produced from somewhere. He missed the next shot when he caught side of Cloud, his eyes going comically wide. "Cloud! Are you okay? What happened, did it not work?"
Cloud opened his mouth, but nothing emerged past his abused throat but a croak. He shook his head, and that proved to be a mistake. The world spun with the motion, and kept spinning even after he made himself stay still.
Strong arms caught and supported him, lowering him gently until he could sit on the stairs. For the second time that day Cloud realized he could hear Zack talking to him as if from a great distance, sounding concerned. "...kay? Cloud? Hey, answer me! Damn it, what the hell happened in there?"
"I don't know," Cloud croaked, then coughed weakly. Zack grabbed a canteen and unscrewed the cap, holding it to Cloud's lips. Gratefully Cloud gulped down the contents, the cool water helping to ease some of the rawness in his throat from the screaming. "How long was I in there?"
"Eight minutes and thirty-five seconds ," Zack replied, shocking him. "I didn't expect to see you for hours yet. Seph warned me some summoners stay in the chamber for a day or more. Did it refuse you after all?"
"I'm not sure," Cloud said slowly. He pressed a shaking hand against his chest, where it still felt like there was something more inside him than there had been before. "I can't tell if it was testing me, or just mocking me and trying to kill me." He coughed again, and groaned. "Either way, it's over."
Zack brushed his bangs back off his sweaty brow, looking worried. "I think we'd better get you back upstairs. I should've brought a potion or something with me, but most of my equipment is still back in the temple's guest quarters. C'mon."
Cloud tried to find the strength to protest that he couldn't walk yet, but it seemed Zack had other ideas anyway. The guardian slung one of Cloud's arms over his shoulder and wrapped his own arm around Cloud's waist, then hauled him to his feet. In that position most of Cloud's weight was supported by Zack, and all he had to do was stumble along beside the bigger man.
"I know you're not supposed to talk about what happened in there," Zack said, subdued. "And I won't ask. But... do you really think it was trying to kill you? I couldn't hear a thing from out here, but you sure sound half dead."
"Yes. No. I don't know." Cloud rested his head against Zack's shoulder. It was oddly comforting to have the man there next to him, supporting him. Nobody but his mother had ever been this close to him before, and she wasn't a physically affectionate person. Not that she didn't love him, she just didn't show it by touching him. "Still sure you want to be my guardian?"
"Yeah." Zack didn't say anything else, but the conviction in his voice was firm enough that he didn't need to.
The priests were lurking in the vicinity of the main chapel above, ostensibly cleaning or performing other tasks but all of them jumped the moment the door opened and Zack carried Cloud through. They looked first shocked, then smug as they saw the state Cloud was in. It wasn't hard to tell they believed he had failed utterly.
Stung, Cloud somehow found the strength to pull away from Zack and stand on his own. He was still a little unsteady, enough that Zack had to help him with a hand on his shoulder as they descended the stairs, but he managed. How often had he seen that look in the eyes of the people of Nibelheim? They all took every chance they could find to ridicule him and call him a failure, to tell him that he wasn't good enough to be one of them.
There was only one person who wasn't waiting in anticipation of his failure. Seph frowned when he saw them, and strode across the room to meet them. "What happened? Could you not get through the Trial?"
"Nope, we made it through no problem," Zack said. Cloud let his guardian tell the story, since he needed all his strength for walking. "He went into the chamber, then staggered right back out again a few minutes later, looking like he'd been battling Sin for days. Is that normal?"
"No," Seph said, studying him curiously. Cloud flushed, but did his best to ignore it. "No, it's not. Summoners are often drained when they leave the chamber, sometimes even to the point of collapse, but I've never heard of one being injured."
"I told you it was folly." The high priest stepped out of an alcove, scowling at the three of them. "No Al Bhed could ever become a summoner. I only hope you have not so drastically offended the fayth that it will refuse to treat with other apprentice summoners for a time. Let this be a lesson for you, heathen."
The new power inside Cloud stirred, and his own anger rose to match it. A furious sort of restlessness overtook him, and he was seized with the need to do something. Without thinking about what he was doing he turned and stormed out of the temple. "Watch," he snarled back over his shoulder at the priest. "And eat your words."
When he stopped he found himself at the centre of a tiled area just in front of the temple. The mosaic pattern of the stones was the same as the glyph in the chamber of the fayth, and for the briefest instant he thought he could see the little girl standing there, smiling at him. Then the power rose up inside him, a huge feathered beast fighting and clawing to burst free. Cloud thrust a fist into the air, throwing his head back and screaming his defiance of the priests and all their petty prejudices.
Something screamed back at him from high above, and a shaft of pure light speared down through the clouds. Something large and solid burst through after it, spiralling rapidly towards the ground. At the last possible moment it snapped out its massive wings and slowed, landing beside him with a violent thump. It screamed again, the piercing cry of a hunting raptor, wings canted back and head extended to its limit.
Cloud had never seen anything like it, but there could be no doubting what it was. Besaid's aeon, the first milestone in the summoner's journey. It had come to his call, marking him as a true summoner, no matter his race.
He could hear shocked whispers around him, but all his attention was on the aeon. It - she, there was no mistaking her femininity despite the alien nature of her form - cocked her head at him. She trilled softly in the back of her throat, a sound of welcome and apology. "It's okay," he assured it, losing his heart utterly as he stared into her beautiful, too-intelligent eyes. It looked... sad. "I forgive you. I don't know why you did it this way, but it's okay." Hesitantly he reached up and ran his fingers through the feathers just behind her crest. She crooned and lowered her head so he could reach more easily, and he grinned and scratched harder.
"Wow," a soft voice said from just behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see Zack hovering a respectful distance away, with all the villagers and priests ranged out much further behind him. "Wow, she's gorgeous. Guess you did it after all, huh? I knew you would." He smiled, and Cloud actually believed that he meant it. "So what's your name, beautiful?" He addressed his last words directly to the aeon, and she chirped at him. Cloud experienced a wash of amusement, and realized it was coming from the aeon. His own feelings echoed hers. It seemed Zack would flirt with anything female, not just pretty Spiran girls.
"Jymavun," he answered for her, the name appearing in his mind. "Her name is Jymavun. You should go," he added, a little shyly. "Someone might need you." He remembered hearing somewhere that only one incarnation of a particular aeon could exist in the world at any given moment. While he kept her here to show off, another summoner elsewhere might be dying.
She made a sound remarkably like a chocobo's wark, then stepped back and fanned her wings. Cloud and Zack hastily got out of the way, and she launched herself into the sky with a powerful thrust of her hind legs. In moments she was gone, faded away into nothing like the spirit she truly was.
"Well," Zack said, and patted his shoulder. "That's that. Nobody can argue that you can't be a summoner, now."
"Yeah," Cloud agreed, still watching the place where Jymavun had disappeared. Deep in his heart he could feel the aeon's power still pulsing, slowly settling into something his body could handle without pain.
His life would never be the same again.