I woke up the following morning. I had been asleep in a room upstairs at an inn in Kilika. The inn was only missing some of the wall from the room below, but was otherwise in good condition. I had been sharing a room. It was just one large room with mats spread out on the floor.
I put some clothes on and trudged downstairs. The woman who had housed us at her inn smiled warmly at me, gesturing to a plate of bread. I grabbed a piece of the bread and buttered it.
"Barku is looking for you." she said.
"Oh is he? Well thanks for telling me." I said. I left the inn. I found Hao waiting outside. He was with Ryraisen Kanassan.
"Hey, mind if we come with you?" Hao asked.
"Not at all." I said, heading down the long dock until I located Barku and the other Aurochs.
"Ah, there you are!" Barku cried when he saw me.
"Besaid Aurochs! Huddle!" Janem, Shinji, and Ken'ichi, who had all been repairing a house, carefully jumped over onto the dock beside us.
"Right, we're off for the temple, where we'll pray for victory!" Barku said. The three Aurochs cheered and ran on ahead, Ryraisen joining them.
"Temple's beyond the jungle there. Let's go!" Barku said.
We met the others on the way and walked down the narrow dock. The dock led us into a dense jungle of sorts, with a colorful variety of flora.
"Yo dude." LT said to me.
"You wanna like...be my guardian?" he asked.
"Uhh..." I began.
"He doesn't know much about our group yet. We'll decide later. Come along now." Callan said.
The trek through Kilika Woods was harsh. I nearly ran into some large creature called "Lord Ochu" but it was then that Shao Law reappeared and pulled me out of the way. No one got severely injured, due to LT's superb healing skills, and I was beginning to feel confident in my ability as a swordsman. The end of our trek through Kilika Woods ended in stone steps heading up.
"These stone steps have a history, you know?" Barku said. "Lord Ohalland trained here at his peak."
I looked up the numerous flights of stone stairs. It looked as if my legs would be killed by the time we reached the top. The only smooth amount of land was a round platform partway up. Looked as though it was a place to practice fighting. I saw Shinji and Ken'ichi grinning at me. They were stretching their legs.
"A race huh?" I said, and they beamed even more.
"Well I'm walking up there." Janem muttered.
LT ran up before any of us could, and we bounded after him. I slipped and fell, and regained my footing, but by the time I had, Shinji and Ken'ichi were running down, looking frightened.
"Look out!" Shinji yelled.
"Sinspawn!" Ken'ichi cried out. The rest of our party bounded up in an instant.
Barku was defending LT valiantly. There were two tentacle-like things coming out of the ground. One was directly behind me. An armored round thing rose out of the ground. I ran at it and swung. The tentacle then whipped me, and the impact stung. I saw King, hit by the right-hand tentacle, wincing the same as I was. Barku threw his blitzball at the tentacle that hit King, and King attacked it with his lance. I instead attacked the one near me.
Barku then threw his blitzball at the tentacle behind me and killed it, leaving only the right-hand tentacle and the round armored thing. The round armored thing then spewed green gas, which made our eyes water.
"Can't see! Damn!" King growled.
"My eyes!" I yelled, covering them with my hands to try to prevent more gas from affecting them. They burned horribly.
It cleared after a moment, and relieved our eyes greatly, and King rushed at the remaining tentacle, taking it out. I ran at the round thing and attempted to attack it.
"It's hard as rock! My sword's no good against it." I yelled.
Barku instinctively moved back, Callan taking his place and shooting Thunder at it. We switched, moving around until Callan could get a better aim of it. Callan shot Fire at it next. The fire forced it to open its shell, revealing that it was still largely intact and a very ugly sort of Sinspawn at that. Even uglier than a giant water fiend that Cookie and I had fought. Or at least it was kind of as ugly as that one.
Barku wiped the sweat off his forehead and prepared his overdrive, Elemental Reels. He charged his energy, and the ball was consumed by an aura of electricity. He then dropkicked the ball at it, which did a good amount of damage, but the Sinspawn, which Hao called "Geneaux" used a potent green attack that Hao claimed was called "Venom".
Barku winced with pain, and it was then confirmed that he had been poisoned. LT rushed in, using Esuna on Barku and healing his poisoning. Barku was weakened from the attacks. Callan moved back, tagging me in.
I then prepared to use my overdrive, Swordplay, and from there I used the Spiral Cut technique. I flipped over towards it, spiraled in the air, then brought my sword down hard on it. King tagged Barku out to the sidelines, filling in for him to perform Lancet, which allowed him to extract HP and MP from the Sinspawn.
"LT! Summon Zeus!" Barku yelled from the sidelines.
LT nodded confidently, then surrounded himself with that aura again. Zeus screeched and soared down from the skies, resting by LT for only a few seconds to receive a petting before becoming airborn again. Zeus stared off using Sonic Wings, which sent powerful wing-powered blasts of air. It then used its special black magic, Fire, which was even stronger than Callan's fire, to further its attack. Geneaux used its tentacles to hit Zeus, doing little damage. Zeus flew over to the Sinspawn and began attacking it. It finally did Energy Ray, collecting a beam of highly concentrated energy at the Sinspawn, destroying it. We cheered, then began to continue our walk to the temple.
"Being a guardian can be tiring." I muttered.
"You get used to it." Barku assured me.
"It's hard work, but rewarding." Callan said. King nodded.
We reached the top finally. Barku and I took up our positions at the front of the party, the others lagging a bit behind us. As we walked towards the opening, some guys ran into us. They were wearing predominantly purple uniforms.
"Oh, look who it is. The Besaid Aurochs." one sneered. He had short red hair.
Before I realized it, Shinji and Ken'ichi were with us at once, there to back us up. Beside the red-haired guy were two other guys who were pretty fair sized, a lot bigger than Shinji or Ken'ichi. One had wavy brown hair and the other had black hair. They grinned at their friend in the middle. A fourth guy behind them complimented their line, but not without being challenged by Janem, who was staring him down in an instant.
Ryraisen joined, hopping out beside Janem, fists up. The tiny boy was ready to challenge anyone about to insult his team.
"You guys here to pray for victory?" Barku snarled back.
"Us? Pray? The Luca Goers always win. We don't need to pray." the red-haired one sneered.
"Then why are you here?" Janem growled, butting the palm of his hand with the other hand, which was curled in a fist.
"We were praying for some competition this year." his black-haired friend snarled. They laughed, and I could hear Ryraisen growling like a feral animal.
"At least we have the decency to refrain from recruiting kids." the brown-haired one snickered. Ryraisen launched himself at the brown-haired Luca Goer, determined to show what he was really capable of. The guy yelped and a full-on fight almost broke out, with the red-haired guy about to hit Ryraisen when...
"STOP!" a voice yelled. It was a brown-haired man in a green uniform. He came forward, many individuals wearing the same uniform as he. They were a blitzball team too, likely the Kilika Beasts. The brown haired young man, a dark-skinned boy around my age, and a tall blond guy walked forward.
"Luca Goers? Were you about to fight in a sacred place? I expected better of you." the brown-haired man said, calm in the face of chaos.
"Torajirou Tenshin..." the red-haired Goer muttered.
"And you are Abram Bickson, correct?" the brown-haired man asked. "Hmph!" The Goers trudged away.
We learned the names of the Beasts, starting with the dark-skinned guy, Shakhan Kuran, and the blonde, Blaize Deragan. We met their other players too. There was the small and calm Tommen Akinaga, hotheaded Deejay Masaka and their goalkeeper, Syler Schiff. The red-haired Goer was identified by them as Abram Bickson. His cronies? The brown-haired one was Jiro Bakata and the black-haired one was Yujio Fuji. The fourth player that came to their defense was their goalkeeper, Arwyen Pinipo.
The Beasts weren't fond of the Goers. They had sent Tommen to keep an eye on the temple and as soon as he saw them arrive, he ran back to the village to alert the rest of the Beasts to show up, just in case the Goers started something.
"We don't need them screwing things up here." Blaize muttered.
"We already had another damn Sin attack." Deejay snarled. His hotheadedness made his dislike for the Goers even stronger than it appeared in the rest of them. Deejay, Syler, and Blaize were all quite passionate in their dislike for the Goers. Tommen disliked them, but not quite on the same level. Shakhan and Torajirou showed disdain, if anything, but were the calmest and seemingly wisest members of the Beasts.
"Say hi to our local summoner in there." Shakhan said, and with that, they left.
We headed down the steps into room similar to that of the temple we had first been in. Barku went to the statue just left of the passage that led to the Cloister of Trials. He bowed before it, solemn, before beginning to pray. I let out a prayer for victory and for the well-being of Kilika myself.
As I stood up, I noticed a very pretty girl on the other side of the room. She had red hair and wore clothes that made her seem like a fighting type. Most of all, she was quite beautiful. A female guardian, perhaps? I hadn't seen a female guardian before, then again, I hadn't seen any guardians other than the ones LT traveled with, currently an all-male group. I wanted to just stay with my group, but curiosity got the better of me, and I walked over.
"Hey there." I said, trying to make myself sound bold.
"Hi. Who are you?" she asked.
"T-tedrick Badlock." I stammered. "Just Ted."
"Heh, okay 'just Ted'. I'm Akari. What are you doing here? Praying for Kilika?"
"N-no. I'm a guardian."
"For...that guy with the red afro over there?"
She smiled at me.
I stepped closer and something hit me in the stomach as a figure darted out of the shadows. It was a boy wearing all black. He was a bit smaller than me, with a serious face and jet-black hair. He carried a sword. On her other side, came a boy with blood-red hair, who was equally as serious and wielding some sort of mystic looking staff. The boys blocked my path to her.
"Halt!" the dark haired one stated, sounding like a soldier replying to a superior. His voice was steady and powerful sounding, even if having that youthfulness in it. It wasn't necessarily a child's voice, but it was a young man's voice, definitely.
"What do you want with Lady Akari?" the one with blood-red hair questioned. His voice had a huskier and darker sound to it.
"I was just talking." I replied, putting my hands up.
"He really was. Genji...Toshirou...it's okay." Akari said.
LT emerged from the Fayth at this opportune moment as a female summoner and a strong man entered the building.
"Who is this?" she asked, in almost a sneer.
"Is that the son of Lord Braska?"
"I sure as hell am." LT stated. "And you?"
"I'm Dona, and this is Barthello." she said, gesturing at her guardian.
"What's with all the guardians? It's quality over quantity, boy." she said, chuckling.
"I only bring as many guardians as I have people that actually care about me." LT shot back.
"Oooooh burn." I heard Barku mumble. Dona sniffed and strode past our group.
We trotted down the vast number of steps back towards Kilika Woods. The other Aurochs decided to linger behind to help the Beasts. It was an almost cheerful moment. King jabbed me on ahead with the butt of his spear, chuckling a bit. I had brought out a stick of bamboo and LT and I were "sword-fighting" down on the round platform we had fought the Sinspawn on, playfully boasting our swordsmanship. Callan threatened to set us on fire if we didn't move along, and grinning from ear to ear, we continued down. The only person that seemed perplexed was Hao. He was staring off away from the group, at times.
We were back down in the woods now. Conflict found us immediately at the entrance when we were confronted by a Ragora and two Killer Bees. The Ragora was a strange plant-like fiend and the Killer Bees were massive bees with huge stingers and an unnerving reddish hue to them. I charged at the middle Killer Bee, leaping before bringing my sword down, missing the middle bee by a few inches. I cursed inwardly and returned to the front line, currently consisting of King, Barku, and myself.
King made a lunge at the same bee, only to miss like I did. Barku threw his blitzball, connecting powerfully and killing it. The Ragora shot his seed cannon at King, who took it with a sort of tolerance for hard hits. One of the Killer Bees nearly stung me, but I stumbled out of its line and it missed me. I ran at the remaining bee and was surprised to find my sword had cut it in half. Only the Ragora was left.
Barku threw his blitzball at it, hitting hard. King stabbed with his spear, doing some good deal of damage. We all exchanged blows until Barku had killed it.
We continued on our way, trotting through dense flora. We then ran into a Yellow Element and a lone Killer Bee. I wiped the Killer Bee out with one hit. The Yellow Element we could have easily asked for Callan's help in defeating it, but continued to fight it out on our own.
We stopped to allow LT to heal us up. We had sort of split into factions, with Barku, King, and myself fighting as one faction and Callan, LT, and Hao serving as the other. As LT tended to and bandaged up a nasty cut on my upper right arm, I began wondering about the girl I'd met in the temple, Akari, and if I should ever see her again.
As we traveled, I learned new techniques, such as Flee, Cheer, and Haste. LT had read from a scripture while up at the Kilika temple, and learned NulBlaze, NulShock, NulTide, and NulFrost from it.
We headed towards the creature, Lord Ochu. Shao, who had trailed behind us some way, stopped to watch from afar.
King and I each took swings at it with our weapons. Barku moved to allow Callan in. Callan then proceeded to use fire. Lord Ochu attempted to use Poison Claw on Callan, but he dodged. I took a swing at it, and Barku tagged King in and threw his blitzball at it. Callan used Fire a second time, angering Lord Ochu, who used Poison Claw on Barku.
"God fucking dammit! Second time I've been poisoned today." Barku muttered as he looked at the infected cut. I tagged LT in, sacrificing my chance to hit the fiend.
"LT, go! Heal Barku up." I said, moving back and crossing my arms when I was out of the fight range. I watched LT use Esuna on Barku, healing him. Lord Ochu then used Water on Callan. Callan glared at the fiend, now drenching wet. He tagged me in. LT, Barku, and I all attacked Ochu with our weapons. Lord Ochu then fell asleep, which made it regain health. I shot a worried glance at the others. LT hit it, waking it up. Ochu then used Earthquake, weakening Barku a deal more than had already been done to him. I swung at Ochu once more.
Ochu then used poison claw on LT.
"...You....fucking douchebag plant!" LT yelled at it. He used Esuna on himself then, bringing his strength back up. Ochu attacked him again, knocking him out.
"Oh shit shit shit shit shit." I cursed when it knocked Barku out too. I grabbed one Phoenix Down, and applied it to LT first. He awoke, startled, but ready to fight. He then healed Barku back into semi-consciousness, but the battle had injured his leg beyond temporary healing. LT would need peace and focus to heal the gash on it. King dragged Barku out, and as Barku was being dragged, he tagged Callan in. Callan shot Fire at the Ochu, recognizing its weakness and running with it. The Ochu used Water on Callan and Callan's eyes glimmered with murderous intent, having been made soaking wet by the fiend twice in one day.
LT then healed Callan up, and Callan shot more flames at the Ochu, this time in the form of a small flame dragon. I admired Callan's magical handiwork, he sure knew his dark magic well. The flame dragon had wiped out the Ochu. Shao smiled, and walked away.
We headed back into Kilika at that point. There was something very beautiful about the daytime in Kilika. The waters looked so perfectly blue. I could sense the worry of the people here though. Sin could be out in those waters anywhere, waiting for a chance to strike again.
Torajirou walked up to us.
"Hey, the S.S. Winno is here to take you to Luka." he said.
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah. I had you and your friends' stuff put in cabins on the boat already." he said, smiling.
"Wow. Thank you." I said, beaming back.
"Hey Ted! Come on!" LT called out. I gave Kilika one last look. Another home destroyed, because of Sin. The resolution to defeat Sin and bring happiness back to towns like Kilika burned through into the very core of my being. I will find Sin. I will fight it. And I will kill it. I was determined about that.
Without another glance, I boarded the S.S. Winno.