The Legend of Anima

By Lee Willocks

The era of Sin is over and time passes slowly on Spira. People do not think back to the days of darkness any longer, looking only to rebuild the present whilst flourishing under a new and benevolent government. The history books will say that this Golden Age was well deserved by its people, after suffering such hardships during the reign of Sin. Still, there are some stories that should not be forgotten and I lay one such story before you now.

*

In the Dawn Time, before the deeds of Summoner Yuna or the coming of Sin, in a time when the people of Spira lived simply and knew nothing of magic, there existed another realm, a realm beneath the oceans. The land-dwellers knew nothing of this place. Occasionally, a rumour would surface: a fisherman swearing he had seen strange lights dancing on the distant waves, children returning home with bits of metal found washed up on the beach, which no one could identify. However, curiosity was soon abandoned as people returned to more important matters such as tending to the harvest or electing a new village-chief. Meanwhile, the place below existed in obscurity and yet also turbulence. For despite its great power, technology and sorcery, that realm stood divided into sects, ruled by jealous, quarreling men, who would not have been appeased had they possessed all Spira, both land and water.

Of these sects, there were two, who had earned a reputation even amongst all the others, for harbouring an unspeakable enmity towards one another. The hatred went back so far, that no one even remembered what had initiated it; suffice to say that the blood of the Kor and Adrat did not mix well.

Unknown to the leaders of these two factions, the daughter of a prominent Kor councillor had become enamoured of a young Adrat courtier. There are many such stories in the legends of all our worlds, enough for us to know how at first they shyly courted one another, arranged surreptitious rendezvous, impatiently awaited each other's letters and finally, became secretly engaged. And then one day, a terrible thing happened - the walls of Kor fell. The enchanted barriers, which should have withstood any attack had somehow been compromised and that day the Adrat razed Kor to the ground and left its ruins to the mercy of the open sea.

Those who escaped in small evacuation-vessels turned immediately to what was left of their council and demanded revenge, reasons and blame. And what was left of that council turned to the daughter of one of their recently killed colleagues and looked at her with angry accusation. She stood dumb and terrified, for they knew all about her Adrat lover and the letters and the rings, and according to them it was he who had whispered the secrets of Kor's defenses to his leaders and so it must have been she who whispered them to him.

"Did you betray your people?" "Are you responsible for the deaths of a million innocents?" "Is the blood of your father on your hands?"

So the questions continued and she could answer none of them. Had she imparted some forbidden secret to him during a moment of thoughtless passion? She did not think so, yet she could not say for certain. Her only words during the drumhead trial were:

"I intended no harm."

And this was not enough. She was sentenced to exist in a bloody, beastly form, chained and shut away in a solitary tomb to contemplate her sins for ten millennia. However, the summoners of the modern era unknowingly interrupted this sentence when they solicited the help of one of the Great Powers in their fight against the evils of the world. Now, twenty four years after the eradication of Sin, this sentence draws to a close.

*

The white towers of Bevelle shimmered softly in the sunlight. It was spring and the city was noisy with its buying, selling, meeting and laughing - for people laugh often now that it is peace-time. Meanwhile, the doors of the great council-chamber were held open, for today was a Day of Audience, a session held quarterly, where the people of Spira might approach their leaders and voice their suggestions or grievances. The faces of those who occupy the seats of governance will be mostly unfamiliar to the reader but some will not: Yuna, Kimahri, Wakka, Lulu, Rikku. More than two decades have passed since the Day of Triumph and though their faces are aged, you would still know them well once you had looked them in the eye.

The day drew on, advice was heeded and dispensed, the petitioners came and went, and then shortly before the chamber doors were due to be closed to the public for another season, one final party was admitted. A man entered the room with a small entourage. He was tall and finely dressed in gossamers of light grey and blue, which seemed to shroud rather than clothe him. He was of an age impossible to guess, neither young nor old, yet with a quiet authority in the stillness of his amber eyes that arrested the attention of everyone present. One of the senior ministers was first to speak.

"Your face and attire are unfamiliar to us but you are nevertheless welcome to this council-chamber, friend. Speak your mind and we will attend."

"You are most generous and I thank you," the man replied evenly. "My name is Izmec and I have travelled far, from a place known as Elaris."

The chamber erupted into a commotion of whispers that swelled steadily in volume until the senior minister called for order.

"Your Honours, I do not mean to bring confusion to your noble chamber, so please let me assure you of my sincerity," the man Izmec continued, once his audience had quietened. The land I speak of, Elaris, is as real as I and once, long ago before history records, it is said that my people and yours dwelt together in peace. However, a difference in ideologies and divergence of wills forced a separation between us and since then, the people of Elaris have made their homes on the ocean bed."

The silence that followed was absolute. The man spoke so earnestly that either his story was true or he was of unsound mind.

"Friend," Wakka said eventually, "Our people have explored much of the deep oceans..."

"And yet Elaris is protected by magic that even you could not penetrate. We value our privacy," Izmec returned sharply.

The High Summoner Yuna, who had been watching the proceedings with silent interest, spoke then for the first time.

"This is a chamber of truth," she said quietly, "so let us not doubt the word of this man, who has clearly come a long way to seek our consultation. Tell us why you have come, Izmec of Elaris."

The man smiled slightly and bowed his head. "You are most kind, Summoner Yuna and I am glad, for it is of you that I wish to make a request today. But first, I must tell you a story that occurred almost three hundred generations ago. It is a tale little recollected among my people and it is surely unknown to those who dwell on land."

"Tell us this story," the summoner entreated, leaning forward in her chair - and so he told her.

When he had concluded his narrative, she paused long and hard, before descending from the council-dais to meet him face to face in the center of the wide, circular floor space. They stood there with the sunlight on their faces and she spoke gravely and lowly, for his ears alone.

"I have long wondered how she, who has stood by me through unnumbered adversities, was brought to such a wretched state. I do not believe that she was guilty of any of the crimes your people accused her of and you have sentenced her to a most undeserved punishment. I will summon her now for that is what you would have of me. I will summon her and as you look upon her, you will know that she is as innocent as she is terrible."

And when the High Summoner stepped away from that man of Elaris, he was no longer standing as tall or proudly as he had been a moment ago.

The High Summoner Yuna took her staff and began to dance the dance of summoning. The party from Elaris drew back, for this was a kind of magic unknown to them and there was fear in their eyes. And then the Aeon was there among them, towering to the roof of the glass-domed chamber, bound, wounded and chained to the four winds. Izmec looked up at her, breathless, speechless and only belatedly noticed the container, which one of his aides was proffering to him. His hands were unsteady as he removed its contents: a small, crystal sphere, which glinted prismatically between his fingers.

Abruptly, he declared, "By the decree of King Belamon of Elaris, you, Anima of the Kor are hereby released from your chains."

The sphere fell to the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces, which winked in the sunlight and vanished. At that precise moment, the chains binding the Aeon dissolved away, allowing the creature to flex her limbs and arch her back, so that her face and forearms came tumbling down chaotically until they were level with Yuna`s face. It was the first time summoner and summoned had looked directly at one another and as the Aeon wept her tears of blood, Yuna moved instinctively to dry them with her hand, unaware that she was crying herself as she did so.

She turned suddenly and demanded of Izmec, "why does she still appear this way? Restore her!"

The man shook his head and held up his hands as though to deny his culpability. "I am sorry, Lady Summoner but there are some spells than cannot be unsaid."

The High Summoner looked once more at the Aeon and then back to Izmec. "She could kill you where you stand," she whispered bitterly, "but she is merciful. However I am not."

And she slapped his face with unconcealed disgust. The man from Elaris flinched as he felt the creature`s blood smeared across his lips and cheek but said nothing, even as it dripped steadily downward, ruining his fine, silken clothing.

Her voice was dark as Yuna turned then to the council of Spira and said, "you have all heard the tale today by this man from the ocean. Do not forget it. When you return home, tell it to your children and do not let them forget it, or their children after them."

The summoner paused and lowered her face, perhaps she wept again but no one could see for certain. She addressed Izmec without looking at him:

"You spoke of Anima`s sin but the only sins I see, were comitted by those who condemned her. The first was to seal away her body and the second, to seal away the memory of her - but that will change now. Perhaps one day there will be unity again between our peoples but I doubt that it will come during my lifetime."

And with these words, she dismissed the Aeon and exited from the chamber.


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