"Farewell, Lord Braska"
by Lucrecia LeVrai

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Author's notes: there's no rule that says that fics need to be as accurate as possible. So, please, read this little 'what if' story... I hope you'll be able to enjoy it, in spite of a few minor twists. Anyway, Final Fantasy X doesn't belong to me. Worse still, English's not my first language. ^_^ I beg of you, just don't run away screaming as soon as you notice some... ekhem... less fortunate expressions. ^__^; Um, never mind. ...All right, folks, here we go!

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Braska sighed, a bit frustrated, wondering whether the long, dimly illuminated corridor would ever end. Still, he kept walking. After all, one needed a lot of open space to summon Bahamut, and in Bevelle, the biggest, most crowded city in Spira, open space was a luxury. Fortunately, the Grand Temple provided many such places, and Braska knew of at least a few he could use.

Yesterday, he had finally acquired the powerful aeon... which meant that he was free to leave on a pilgrimage any time now. However, several things still kept him in Bevelle - a couple of letters to write, some old friends to visit... and, most importantly... He shook his head; there was no point in thinking about Yuna right now. He had come here to practice, and so he would have to remain focused, no matter what. His lips curled into a sad, humorless smile, and the summoner came to a halt in front of a large, wooden door. Without a second thought, he pushed it open, stepping outside, straight into a bright, sunny afternoon.

It was probably one of the temple's largest terraces, even though it wasn't even half as big as the top one, situated several stories above. Braska stopped in the doorway, enjoying a fresh breeze - so different from the hot, stuffy air in the lower parts of the city - and the sight of a blue, nearly perfect sky. Besides, he had to admit that the architects of this place, whoever they were, had done a remarkably splendid job. The terrace floor, for example, was a detailed mosaic picturing the very symbol of Yevon... and, to his left, Braska could see a row of decorative, white columns, which formed an utterly pointless - from a practical point of view, anyway - yet beautiful, ivy-covered arcade. Suddenly, however, his eyes caught a glimpse of movement among the green leaves. Braska tensed, finally realizing that he was not alone.

From a distance, he could only see an outline of a person, sitting on a narrow ledge, dangerously close to the edge of the terrace, casually leaning against one of the marble pillars. When he walked closer, the dim silhouette sharpened into an image of a very young man - a boy, actually; sixteen, seventeen years old at best. The first thing Braska noticed was the youth's blue, thick hair. Tied in a loose braid, it fell down onto his back, with the exception of several short strands that framed his pale face. The lad held a lyre in his lap, one hand curled around its neck, the other resting against the strings.

For a brief second, Braska wanted to turn back and leave, but he quickly decided that it would be very impolite to walk away without at least a customary greeting. Absently straightening the sleeves of his robe - heavy as they were, the wind could still turn them into a mess - he cleared his throat and took a couple of steps in the boy's direction.

The blue-haired youth slowly turned his head, not a trace of surprise visible on his face, which probably meant that he must have been aware of Braska's presence all this time. The summoner frowned, finally able to see many uneven lines on the boy's cheeks and forehead, not to mention his eyes, which were a light shade of violet. He had never seen this lad before, of course... but he was neither deaf nor ignorant. He had heard rumors about Lord Jyscal's outlook on life, his politics... and, most importantly, about his only son, Seymour, the half-human child who had nearly cost Jyscal his position among the Guado.

For a long moment they both stared at each other; the silence interrupted only by seagulls' distant cries.

"Lord Braska," the boy finally said, nodding his head a little. It hadn't been a guess, but a direct greeting. Braska sighed inwardly, suddenly wishing he had been a slightly less... infamous person.

He hesitated, wondering if it was okay to act so straightforward. "Lord Seymour," he finally said, bowing in a very similar, reserved manner.

Just as he had expected, the youth wasn't surprised. "...It is an honor to meet you, Braska-dono," he replied, a soft smile playing on his lips. "You... came here to practice, did you not?" with his eyes still fixed on the summoner's face, he stroke a couple of strings, and the instrument in his hap sang quietly.

"It is a perfect place for summoning Bahamut," the man nodded, knowing well that Seymour would understand.

"Yes, it is," the boy agreed politely.

"Yet you are not practicing," Braska pointed out, walking up a bit closer.

"Oh, I just needed a quiet place to think, that's all," the boy frowned, looking down at the lute. Braska watched, a bit fascinated, as the youth's pale, slender fingers once again ran over the strings, touching it gently, forming a quiet melody. It was a beautiful, melancholic tune; it truly reminded him of home, of everything he would soon have to leave behind. It wasn't before long, though, when the boy suddenly stopped, and shook his head in disapproval. "...No good sound would come from it today... I wonder why..." he sighed, lowering his hand to the side.

Braska licked his dry lips, it had been a very long time since he had last cared about such things as music. "...You are a skilled artist."

"Not at all," Seymour shrugged, no trace of false modestly in his firm voice. "Besides, music has never been my primary concern..." he paused abruptly, shoulders tensing, as if he had just said something very improper. "I am sorry, Braska-dono. You wanted to practice and I'm taking up your time for no good reason. I will leave now, if you--"

"No," Braska shook his head, smiling apologetically. "You have come here first, and you have every right to stay..." he paused for a moment. "I would still like to train, though, if you do not mind..."

The wind suddenly picked up, ruffling the men's hair. Seymour, who still hadn't made a single move towards the exit, absently raised a hand to tuck several blue strands behind his ears... perfectly human ears, as Braska noticed with mild interest. "I'm afraid I would only disrupt your concentration, Braska-dono... as you would mine," he chuckled, meaningfully pointing at the instrument. His quiet laughter had been an eerie, strangely unpleasant sound.

Braska hesitated, wondering how the boy would react to his next question. "I was wondering... whether you would allow me to test my strength against yours."

"Braska-dono?" the boy's eyebrows rose, he seemed genuinely surprised. "You are not serious, are you?"

"I am serious," it was Braska's turn to chuckle. "I heard a bit about your abilities. They say you are too good for someone so young."

Seymour turned his head away, wordlessly considering the summoner's offer. "It would be a great honor," he finally spoke. He carefully put the lute aside and jumped down from the ledge, then slowly made his way towards the older man. He moved with a grace of a dancer and, for a brief moment, Braska wondered whether it was Seymour's deliberate attempt to look more dignified, or simply a part of his heritage - the Guado, he knew, were usually not very fast people.

Nevertheless, it didn't really matter. The youth finally came to a halt, about fifteen meters away. "Shall we start?" Braska asked, his blue eyes sparkling with amusement.

"Please, go on first," the boy replied. "You are the challenger."

"Very well, then..." And, without wasting any more time, the older summoner spun his staff. "Bahamut, come!"

He had expected something great, extraordinary... and the fayth certainly didn't disappoint him. Braska watched, entranced, as a magnificent dragon descended from the skies, reaching his side in a few seconds. The entire terrace shook with the force of the beast's landing; the summoner nearly fell to the ground, yet somehow kept his balance.

Seymour watched the aeon's arrival as well, then straightened up, closing his eyes. Braska, finally able to tear his gaze away from the dragon, had to smile. Contrary to a popular, yet entirely false belief, summoners did not require any rods or wands. Surely, a good staff was often a valuable asset, capable of increasing its owner's power, but it was, by no means, necessary. The source of magical skills lay elsewhere - a certain, minimum level of intelligence was all that mattered.

Meanwhile, several blocks of ice behind Seymour's back broke, and Shiva stepped forward, surrounded by a cloud of white mist. Braska narrowed his eyes; he could sense the power radiating off the boy's aeon. It didn't scare him, though. He nodded at the black dragon, uttering a single word. "...Go."

Well, many of the temple rumors clearly stated that Jyscal's son was very talented. However, Braska could see now, all too well, that these rumors actually paled in comparison to reality. Five minutes hadn't passed since the beginning of the fight, and his Bahamut was already swaying on his massive legs... with Shiva dancing around him in circles, casually striking from time to time, avoiding most of the dragon's blows, practically unscathed. Braska bit his lip. Maybe it was his inexperience with the new aeon. Maybe it was Seymour's skill.

He suspected it was both.

"Ah, this doesn't look well..." he smiled, when Shiva dodged yet another round of his carefully planned attacks, instantly sending several shards of ice flying in Bahamut's direction.

"Surrender," the boy's calm, oddly authoritative voice rang, as Bahamut staggered, barely able to stay upright.

It was always a very unpleasant experience for a summoner to watch their aeon 'die' - fall miserably onto the ground and then dissolve into a swirling mass of pyreflies - so Seymour's offer was a fairly reasonable one. "All right, I surrender," Braska nodded, almost too seriously, and, with a couple of gestures, he dismissed his beast. Seconds later the youth did exactly the same thing, allowing Shiva to jump into the air and vanish from this plane of existence.

The match finally being over, the two men simply stared at each other; each of them looking for any traces of mental fatigue on his opponent's face, yet finding none. Surprisingly enough, Seymour was the first one to look away. In spite of his relatively easy victory from only a couple of moments ago, he didn't seem particularly proud... almost ashamed, actually... and Braska suddenly thought he knew why.

If people were to see their fight, they would inevitably ask themselves the following question: why, for Yevon's sake, wasn't this boy on a pilgrimage --instead of this man-- when it was kind of painfully obvious whose skills and potential were greater?

"...You are far better than I am," Braska finally spoke, smiling slightly to show that his intentions were, in fact, nothing but peaceful.

Seymour raised his head, and the older summoner was shocked to see how much hatred and humiliation shone in the youth's lavender eyes. "...Go on," he hissed angrily. "Say it!"

Braska struggled with his thoughts for a while, watching the boy's clenched fists and his trembling lips. "...No, Seymour," he said, eventually, when he was sure that the lad had his temper back under control. "You are not a coward... and certainly not guilty of anything. Neither the first nor the last summoner who did not, does not, and will not face Sin..." he paused. "We differ in many ways... your lordship," he frowned, clearly stressing the title. "I do not have your responsibilities."

"You know nothing about me... but... yes, I will not... I cannot leave on a pilgrimage." Seymour's expression was cold, almost indifferent, which contrasted sharply with his previous, passionate outburst.

Braska nodded. "I'm sure your father... I mean, Lord Jyscal... wouldn't accept that."

The boy's lips parted slowly, as if he were about to say something, but, all of a sudden, he changed his mind, for he only shook his head slightly. "You do have a family, you know," he spoke, some accusatory tones creeping into his voice. Braska sighed; he wasn't surprised that Seymour, just like everybody else, knew about his little daughter. After all, it was exactly because of his wife and child that he had become a public person, a subject of never-ending gossip.

"I do," he admitted, a bit reluctantly.

"Yet you will leave her... just like that..."

Braska didn't even try to hide the pain in his eyes, knowing it was futile. The mere thought of Yuna made his heart ache. He would see her tomorrow, yes, for they were both still in Bevelle... but soon, he will have to say a final goodbye, and then... He shuddered. No, it's for the best, he thought, quickly composing himself. If I can be strong, so can she. Somehow, we will both make it, I'm sure of it.

Meanwhile, Seymour's slender shoulders shook slightly. Braska blinked in surprise, it seemed as if the young summoner was... badly overreacting. Surely, he couldn't have been to terribly upset over the fact that some stranger was going to travel to Zanarkand and die, leaving his little daughter behind... or was there something else, something that Braska simply didn't know about? The man frowned, suddenly remembering a few vague rumors concerning Seymour's late mother; the story about her journey to Zanarkand, ten years ago... and the fact that she had never returned.

He sighed and walked, past the silent boy, to the edge of the terrace. The city of Bevelle lay hundreds of meters below; a bustling metropolis filled with happiness, joy, laughter... Braska smiled. This was his purpose. Let people laugh, let them dream... let them enjoy their lives, free of any unnecessary suffering...

"Somebody has to do it," he spoke quietly. "I don't know if I'm the right person... if I'm strong enough. But I think that I may be... so I'm going to take this challenge, no matter what." He was still looking at the city, suddenly very much aware of how fragile it was, situated so close to the ocean, easily exposed to Sin's attacks. "...I don't want my little daughter to grow up in such an insecure world."

Both summoners were silent for a long while. Forgive me, Yuna, the man thought, but this is something I must do. I'm doing this for you, honey... and for everyone else... I want you all to be happy...

Suddenly, somewhere behind his back, he could hear quiet footsteps. He turned around, only to see Seymour standing but a couple of meters away.

"Lord Braska, to tell you the truth..." the half-Guado spoke, lowering his eyes to the ground. "I knew very well that you would be here today, and so I have come to see you. I wanted... to wish you good luck... and a safe journey."

"It is going to be a safe journey," Braska chuckled. "After all, I'm going to have Auron with me, and, believe me, he's the most accomplished fighter I've even seen... and a trusty companion. I'm going to be okay."

"...No, you are not going to be okay," the boy said angrily. "...You are going to die."

"We will all die... eventually." He knew how gloomy and cryptic he must have sounded, yet he didn't care. It was the truth, after all... Besides, sacrificing the life of an individual was definitely a better thing to do than having thousands suffer.

"Aren't you afraid of death...?" there was a great deal of hesitation in the boy's voice... mixed with awe and distrust, perhaps? And... jealousy...?

Braska's expression didn't change, his blue eyes shone with resolve. "I would be a fool to say that I am not," he replied calmly. "I'd love to stay here, with my friends, and watch my little girl grow up, instead of doing this. But... that's just how it is. Summoners have to lay down their lives for the people of Spira. These sacrifices are necessary."

"Until somebody is able to stop Sin... forever," Seymour nodded, turning his head away, but not before the older man could catch a glimpse of some strange determination burning in his eyes. Such intensity... it was almost frightening.

"Yes," despite himself, Braska shuddered.

Wordlessly, the boy spun on his heel, and a couple of moments later he was already by the narrow ledge, reaching for his lyre. "Lord Braska, you may practice as much as you want, undisturbed," he spoke softly, walking towards the exit with the same casual grace Braska had admired earlier; his long, braided hair shimmering in the bright, afternoon sun with every step he took. "I'm afraid I lost the will to play..." he stopped, once again turning slowly in the man's direction. Then, suddenly, he almost dropped to his knees in an extremely respectful version of the official bow. "Farewell, Lord Braska," he said, almost melancholically, raising his head to meet the summoner's calm, patient gaze. "I will pray for your safe journey... as well as for your happiness in death."

And then, without a second glance, he walked back into the dark temple, leaving Braska alone on the terrace. "I may need that," the man whispered solemnly, suddenly realizing that, at the moment, there was nothing he wanted more than to find Auron and get drunk... somewhere... together. "Yes..." he repeated, licking his dry lips, "we may all need that..."

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May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh, how far you are from home

Mornie utķliŽ
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantiŽ
A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadows call
Will fly away
May it be you journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Mornie utķliŽ
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantiŽ
A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now


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Author's notes: all right, I admit that, once again, I had too much of 'LotR: The Two Towers' soundtrack, which resulted in this story. Actually, LotR music is always my biggest inspiration when it comes to FFX fics...

By the way, I've just realized that, apart from Shimoa-sama, I absolutely love Braska... he's so damn charismatic! Um... right... yeah...

Well, anyway... FEEDBACK will be much, much appreciated! I beg of you, just e-mail me: misslucrecia@hotmail.com ....Even a couple of words will be enough.... please?