When Willow caught up she stared wide-eyed at the Temple. There were rocks floating all around the Temple with lightning sparkling in between them.
"Whoa! Is that Djose Temple?" Willow asked as Tara prayed and the rocks floated up revealing the door. "Awesome!"
"Lightning Mushroom Rock. It only opens when a summoner is addressing the fayth." Anya said walking forward.
Xander was watching the rocks in amazement "That means another Summoner's already in there."
"Another Summoner?" Tara asked turning to Xander then looking at Willow
"Oh, man. What if it's Cordelia?" Willow asked Tara
"We have to hurry."
"Right! In we go!"
Just before the group walked into the Temple they saw Riley standing to the side of the door hitting the Temple wall.
He looked up with red puffy bloodshot eyes. "Oz...he's...he's dead. He was a good fighter...just not lucky enough." Riley said and started hitting the walls again. "Ahh, dammit! He was so young! He pushed his luck! What the hell was he thinking going to the frontlines like that? He should have stayed at the command center! Dammit! Damn. It. All!"
Xander ran over and pulled Riley away from the wall "Knock it off!"
"You don't know what it's like!" Riley said grabbing Xander's overalls
"I do know...Hikari's dead! You know that!"
"I...I'm so sorry Xander."
"Hey go home...go back to Besaid... and take it easy, ya know, just rest.
"Yeah, that sounds good."
"Good. I can't beat up on you when you're all depressed, ya?
The group watched Riley leave before going into the Temple. Inside they met another Summoner and his guardians coming from the Trials.
"I beg your pardon, but may I ask your name?"
"I am Summoner Tara, from the isle of Besaid."
"It is as I thought! The daughter of Lady Mythe. You look just like your mother.
"My mother? You knew her?"
"No. I never had the pleasure of meeting the Lady. Oh! My apologies My Lady. I am Jonathon. I am a Summoner, like you.
A little boy jumped up and down "I'm Warren. Pleased to meet you."
A boy about seventeen stepped forward. "I'm Andrew. I'm guarding my big brother here."
"Since I was a child, I've always looked up to Lady Mythe. I wished I would someday become a High Summoner like she was. You must have some of your mother's talent in you! I believe you might someday defeat Sin."
"I...I'm not really... I've only just become a Summoner."
"Of course, I don't intend to lose, either. So perhaps we should race to see who can defeat Sin first, no?"
"Very well, then. I accept your challenge."
"Jonathon, we'd better go now. We still have a long journey ahead of us." Andrew said from the door.
"I, beg your leave! Good luck, to both of us!" He says praying
"Yes." Tara prays
The group walks up the stairs with Willow at the back.
"Hey, you." Jonathon says walking toward Willow
"You are Tara’s guardian, no? Andrew has heard a curious rumor. I thought you should know about."
"I heard it from those Crusaders." Andrew says walking up "Seems that summoners have been going out on pilgrimage and just...disappearing."
"It could be the fiends got them...but not so many so quickly." Jonathon says looking to the statue of Lady Mythe.
"I'm sorry I don't know more, but...watch your back. Ain't much future for a guardian without a summoner, eh?" Andrew said then looked down to Warren
"What? What? Whatcha all talkin' 'bout?"
"We're talking about doing your job as a guardian!"
"Hey, I'm doing good! Right, big brother?"
Jonathon nodded "yes".
"Please, be careful." Jonathon spoke to Willow
"Don't worry nothing will get to Tara, I'll make sure of that!"
Willow watches the three leave and enters the Cloister of Trials.
"All right! Guardians, at attention!" Xander said looking over the group.
Faith grins, "We are ready."
"All right... Let's do it!"
Willow and the group walked into the Trials and found the room had bluish walls, and there were two glowing white spheres in slots on the left and right walls. Willow grabs one and places it in the right slot, as Xander places the other one in the left slot beside the door. The door opens to another room; they find a pedestal with a bluish white sphere, and slots in this room but no white spheres.
"Maybe we have to take the spheres from the other room, and bring them in here." Faith says as she and Anya run back to get them. Bringing them back the group looks at the four slots.
Okay? Which ones do we put them in?" Anya asked confused.
"Try one of the slots on either side of the door." Xander says examining the other two slots.
The door does nothing but stay in place, but a floor glyph appeared in the middle of the room. Sighing Anya takes her sphere out of the slot and moves over to Xander. Looking at the slot she shrugs her shoulders and places the sphere into the slot, causing a bright light to shoot up the wall and into an upside down pedestal.
"Hey, Faith bring yours over here." Willow says looking up at the pedestal.
Faith places the sphere into the slot another light shoots up to the pedestal, and electrifies it. Willow looks over to the pedestal with the bluish white sphere on it, and smiles. She walks over and pushes it forward and under the upside down pedestal. That pedestal drops onto of the other one electrifying the bluish white sphere.
"Well, how do we get it back?" Faith asks as Tara touched a sparkling silver light on the floor. The pedestal appeared back in the middle of the room.
"Try the electrified sphere in one of the slots." Giles says leaning against the wall.
Grabbing the sphere Willow walks over the right one first and places it, the door opens revealing a room with a pit full of lightning.
"Well how do we get across? I know I can't jump that far." Willow says as she looks at the pit
"Maybe if we shove the pedestal into the room..." Xander trailed off.
"I don't think so." Tara said looking into the room and back to the pedestal. "It doesn't have anything to hold it up."
"Maybe" Willow thought out loud. Walking over she took the spheres from the slots and placed them on the pedestal, and pushed it into the room. The pedestal fell down a foot the rose, and stayed floating in place. Looking over her should Willow smiled then jumped on to the pedestal and across and found a pedestal sticking out of the wall. <Oh well give it a try> she thought the pushed on the pedestal causing it to go into the wall. She jumped back into the room and smiled to everyone.
"The glyphs on the floor light up, so I'm thinking that if they're all lit up we can get to the Fayth, ya?" Xander said holding a sphere. He placed it into the slot on the left of the main door causing another glyph to light up. Anya placed the other one, and Tara placed the last in the left of the lightning door. Lighting up all the glyphs an elevator appeared. Willow was looking at the wall and saw a lightly glowing glyph, placing her hand on it, the wall slid away revealing a purple sphere. Willow took the sphere and got on the elevator with the group, and rose up to the next room.
Giles stood back as the group walked forward and found five spokes hanging from the walls, with five pedestals under each one. Xander leaned against one causing it to move forward and under the spoke charging it with lightning. The group smiled, and took a pedestal each and pushed them in. Each spoke charged with lightning, and a stairway appeared along with another pedestal. Before the group walked up the stairs Willow placed the purple sphere on to the pedestal. A purple light shot out and destroyed a section of the wall; Willow walked over and opened the chest getting a Magic Sphere. Willow gave it to Anya as they walked up the stairs.
The group waited as Tara entered the Chamber of the Fayth. Willow was sitting on the steps with Faith to her right. Xander and Anya were quietly talking near the right wall, and Giles was leaning on the wall beside the door. Willow looked up rolled her eyes when Cordelia and Angel came strutting in.
"Oh, it's you again. She is still traveling with quite a crowd, I see." Cordelia says as Angel approached Giles and looked at him. "What is it, Angel? Do you know this riffraff?"
"You are...Giles, no?"
Giles glances at the guardian "What of it?"
"Can I shake your hand? Giles...No! Sir Giles. You're the reason I became a guardian!"
Giles holds out his hand, and Angel wipes his hand on his pants before shaking Giles' hand.
"Thank you Sir Giles! This means so much to me!"
"Calling the personal guardian to Lady Mythe riffraff?" Xander says before turning and walking over to Willow and Faith.
Anya looks at Cordelia and shakes her head "And you call yourself a Summoner."
"Angel! That is enough, get over here!" Cordelia says as the chamber door opened, and Tara stumbled out, and nearly fell down the stairs. Willow beat Faith to Tara and caught her before she could fall. "You owe so much to your mother. All of these guardians, and Sir Giles, too? And I've also heard that Lady Maester Glory is quite taken with you. The world must look different when you're the daughter of Lady Mythe."
"This has nothing to do with my mother! I am traveling as a full-fledged Summoner!" Tara said leaning against Willow.
"Is that so? They why don't you try standing on your own two legs for once." Cordelia says approaching Tara. "Your guardians won't be able to protect you when the time comes."
Tara had stood and was holding Willow's hand to keep her from hitting Cordelia. "My guardians will protect me till the end!"
"You got that right! And you, why don't you just shut the hell up!" Willow said to Cordelia and leads Tara out of the door.
"Thank you, Willow...for helping me. When the Fayth merges with me it is tough." Tara said still leaning against Willow.
"I'll always help you...whenever or where ever you need it...I'll be there. Okay?"
When the group emerged from the Trials the Temple was beginning to fill with the wounded from the ill-fated operation. One of the Priestess saw Tara and moved over to her.
"My Lady Summoner! Would you mind helping us?"
Tara looked around and nodded "I will help."
"Thank you My Lady Summoner."
Turning to the guardians Tara smiled. "This is my job, and you need your rest."
"Are you sure?" Faith asked.
"Yes. You all go rest."
Faith and Anya went into a room on the right, and Xander and Giles went into the one on the left. Willow watched them go and turned to Tara.
"I'll help you. I'm not tired."
"No, trust me I don't mind, and besides like I said I'm not tired."
Willow helped carry the wounded into the Temple for Tara to heal. Some of the wounded was poisoned, so Tara cast Cura and Esuna spells on them. Most of them Tara got to in time, but the others died either on the way to the Temple, or inside the Temple. Tara preformed the Sending on those that died, and Willow helped wrap the bodies that would be taken home, and carried the others to graves and buried them. Every once in a while Willow would walk by Tara and touch her shoulder, just to let her know that she was still there. When the last of the Cura and Esuna spells were cast, Tara was performing more Sendings, and Willow either wrapped them, or buried them. After it was over there were thirty graves near the Temple, and another forty waiting to be taken to their families. The sun was starting to rise as Willow and Tara walked into the room where Anya, and Faith were sleeping. They saw only one bed left near the right wall and looked at each other.
"Willow, you can have the bed." Tara whispered tiredly
"No. You take it. I'll be fine on the floor." Willow whispered back and lead Tara over to the bed.
Tara took off her boots, and watched Willow take a blanket from their traveling pack and lay it on the floor. Willow was taking off her shoes as Tara lay down.
"Willow?" Tara whispered turning on her side facing Willow.
"Will you..." Tara said then looked down. "Umm...will you...uh...stay with me...you know, hold me w-while I-I sleep?"
Willow could see Tara blushing in the dim light and smiled. "Yeah, I can do that." She rose from the floor and gently lay down beside Tara, and wrapped her arms around Tara's waist. Tara laid her head on Willow's shoulder and closed her eyes.
Neither of the girls saw Anya look over to Faith, as they fell asleep. Faith turned and faced the wall, and Anya quietly cried herself back to sleep. Xander had stepped into the room and shook Faith awake before waking Anya. He looked over at Tara who still had her head on Willow's shoulder, and a small smile on her face. Xander sighed and walked out the door with Anya in front of him, and Faith behind.
"Where are Willow and Tara?" Giles asked when the three of them walked outside.
"They are still sleeping, the priestess said they had been working till sunrise. So, I thought we could let them sleep a little longer, ya?" Xander said scratching his head.
"That was a wise decision." Giles said and looked over the graves. "They will need their rest."
A couple of hours later Anya woke Willow and told her to get ready before she left the room. Willow gently kissed Tara's forehead and slowly climbed out of bed, and heading to the Temple baths. After she had bathed and dressed Willow ran out to the courtyard. Not seeing Tara anywhere she approached Xander.
"Hey, where's Tara?"
"Still sleeping, why don't you go wake her, ya?"
"Yeah sure." Willow ran back into the Temple bedroom and sat on the bed. She gently stroked Tara's cheek easing her out of slumber. When Tara opened her eyes Willow smiled. "Good morning."
"Morning!" Tara shot up in bed looking to Willow with wide eyes.
"Hey, don't worry. It's okay. I've only been up for thirty minutes anyway." Willow said taking Tara's hand.
"We have to be going! I need a bath, too! Please, just give me a few moments, and I'll be ready!" Tara ran off to the bath, and Willow shook her head smiling. She waited until Tara raced out the bathroom door and walked her out to the courtyard.
"Hey! Sleepyhead!" Xander said waving.
"I'm sorry." Tara says and bows to the group, then turns and bows to Giles. "I'm so sorry!"
Anya smiled and walked over to Tara "Really, there is no rush...here, your hair." Anya says causing Tara to look at her puzzled.
"A Summoner with bad hair! What's Spira comin' to?" Xander said seriously.
"Why didn't you wake me?"
"We called out to you...but with all that snoring..." Faith said grinning.
Tara looks to the ground, and then back to the group "What is today? Everyone is picking on me!" She said causing everyone to laugh, and Giles chuckled. Tara turned to him. "You too, Sir Giles?"
"Once Lady Tara fixes her hair, we leave." Giles said making everyone laugh harder.
I hadn't really laughed like that in a long time. It was only later that I realized... The only one really laughing then...was me. Laughing must have been the only thing keeping them going.
Tara took Willow's hand as the two of them followed the group over a small bridge. They stopped when Drusilla jumped off her Chocobo.
"Off so early? Lady Tara, you must be exhausted after working so hard last night, as well as your guardian." She said looking to Willow, and back to Tara. "Will you be okay, My Lady?"
"Yes, Captain Drusilla. I have gotten enough rest. But, I do thank you for your kindness. Will you be leaving, too?"
"Yes, My Lady, first we will cross the Moonflow, and then head north in search of Chocobos to replace those that were lost."
"Once we find more Chocobos, our Chocobo knights will ride again!" Darla said as she held the Chocobo reins.
Willow looked around then to Drusilla. "Uh... Aren't you missing someone?"
William could be seen running from the Temple "Captain! Please, waaaaaait for meee!"
"Geez! What took you so long? We're leaving!" Darla said when William caught up.
"What? You think I can keep up with a Chocobo?"
Drusilla shook her head "Lady Tara, I wish you good fortune on your journey." She said bowing to Tara. "Darla! William! Let's go!"
"Yes, ma'am!" Darla said followed behind the Chocobo.
William was slowly walking. "Can't...I just rest a sec?"
"No complaints!" Darla said and continued on.
The group walked back to the fork in the road, and stopped as Tara turned and looked at the Temple.
"So, where to next?" Willow asked when Tara turned around.
"Okay, gotcha! Moonflow here we come!" Willow said and the group headed up the path.