As they rested at the small shop an older man wearing priest robes could be seen approaching them. Anya bowed "Father Zuke, it is a pleasure to see you again."
"Its good to see you too, Anya" He said bowing and then turned to Tara "You are the Summoner Tara, correct? You don't look like Maester Ethan's murderer."
"What!" Xander said angrily.
"Please, tell us what has happened!" Tara said surprised.
"Maester Snyder has just issued a personal order. It said that you and your guardians murdered Maester Ethan and fled. We are to kill you on sight."
"And what of Bevelle?" Giles asked walking forward.
"Everything seems fine on the surface, but the depths are turbulent. Aurora Dragon left Yevon, after Ethan’s death."
"That is very convenient." Giles leaned against the fence around the shop. "It will be much easier getting around with Yevon in disarray."
"You need to be careful, my friends. You are now enemies of Yevon, you should avoid the temples for the time being."
Tara bowed "Thank you, Father Zuke, for the warning."
"Father, you came all the way out here just to tell us this?" Anya asked looking confused.
"To tell the truth, I was curious to see this Summoner that is being called a murder... I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now."
"Thank you." Anya bowed
"I should be going. I shall pray for all of you." Zuke bowed and turned. "Summoner Tara, I wish you good luck." he said and left for Bevelle.
Willow watched the man leave and turned to Buffy "This sucks. Tara being called a murderer, and being chased after...if it wasn't for Glory, none of this would have happened."
"Do you think we could get Tara to stop?"
"Buffy, you know that she has already decided."
"I know, I know. But...that dammed Aeon will kill her."
"You keep saying that. We'll have to make it so Tara is safe, even if she uses the Final Aeon."
"I'm thinking of a way."
"But, what if you can't?"
"I can't talk to you anymore!" Willow said frustrated "But this and but that! Can't you just help me to think of something?"
"Okay, then between the two of us we'll think of something." Buffy said sounding sure.
"And even if we don't, we'll manage something."
"Don't lose your temper." Giles said joining them.
"The interests of Snyder and Glory do not agree with each other. Remember what Glory said about destroying Spira, I know Snyder will not appreciate that."
"Yeah, you're right." Willow said and watched as Faith approached them "Hey, what's up?"
"We'll be heading for Mt. Gagazet next, that's where I'm from. The Dragons have a small village built inside the rocks, but no one can see it."
"That's cool. Hey! Maybe you can visit with your family."
"I don't have any family."
"Oh, man...I'm sorry, Faith."
"Don't worry I'm not alone."
Willow smiled "You're right! You have us, and we are your family."
"Yeah! Well...that is if you don't mind having an Al Bhed girl in the family." Buffy said staring at the ground.
"Buffy, you are welcome to be my family, you being Al Bhed is not a problem with me...okay?"
"Okay!" Buffy said and pounced on Faith giving her a bone-crushing hug.
"I'm going to talk to Tara" Willow said giggling.
Tara was standing at the small gate in front of the shop and staring out into the plains. She sighed happily when Willow wrapped her arms around her waist and rested her head on her shoulder. "Hey, there." Willow said and kissed her neck.
"I'm now officially a traitor."
"Tara, do you really care so much about what those jerks say?"
"Well...its just that, I've been devoted to Yevon since I was a child. I decided to become a Summoner, and defeat Sin in the name of Yevon. And now, after all those years of being faithful, I'm a traitor. I just makes me want to...scream."
Willow nuzzled her neck and smiled "I'll make you scream." she whispered and kissed her neck again.
"Willow!" Tara said with wide eyes making Willow giggle. "Although that doesn't sound like a bad idea. But only if I can make you scream, too." she whispered getting a low moan from Willow.
"Oh yeah, screaming is good...do you wanna go back to Macalania Lake?"
"Oh I don't know...maybe so I can push you up against another tree and finish what we started this morning... without getting interrupted."
"What're you two talking 'bout?" Xander asked stepping beside them. Willow had a bite her lip to keep from growling at him, while Tara quietly giggled.
"I was just telling Willow, that since we're here I could teach her how to ride a Chocobo better."
"Did I hear Chocobo riding mentioned?" A middle age woman asked from outside the gate. "If you would like a Chocobo, I rent and sell them. A captain Drusilla bought most of them, but I do have some that I have just trained. If you would like to rent or buy one."
"How much?" Tara asked
"Tara, we must be heading for Zanarkand." Giles said trying to keep the grin off his face from seeing the glare from Willow.
"Ah, for the Lady Summoner and her guardians, you may ride free of charge."
"Thank you, but we couldn't. This is you business, and need to make a profit." Tara tried to hand the woman some gil.
"My Lady, I had made enough to retire on when the Crusaders bought all the other Chocobos. So, do not worry." She handed Tara the reins to four Chocobos.
"Thank you." Tara said as the lady rode off. "Willow are you ready?"
"Yes" Willow nodded "See ya later guys." She said and climbed on one of the Chocobos with Tara behind her. Tara took the reins and nudged the Chocobo into a fast walk. The group watched Tara lead the Chocobo away from the shop. Faith sat down with Buffy beside her, Giles was shaking his head, Xander was watching them go with a confused look, and Anya was smiling like a bird fed cat.
"What's so special about riding a Chocobo?"
"Xander, you really need to pay more attention." Anya said and walked over to sit down with Buffy and Faith.
[On the Chocobo]
"Willow take the reins" Tara said and handed the reins over, then wrapped her arms around Willow's waist.
"O-Okay." Willow said nervously taking them "What do I...do?"
"If you want him to go in a different direction just pull the reins the way you want to go. Pull back to make him stop, and gently nudge his sides to make him go faster." Tara said and caressed Willow's sides through her shirt, and kissed down her neck. Willow tilted her head to the right to give Tara more access, and moaned when Tara gently bit her neck. Neither of them saw the small ledge the Chocobo continued running at, until it jumped off and on to another. The Chocobo ran in to another section before Willow could stop him.
Willow jumped off the Chocobo and helped Tara down "Is that-" Tara started to say but was cut off when Willow kissed her. When Willow picked her up she wrapped her legs around her waist, as Willow fell to her knees and lay Tara on her back. Willow broke the kiss and made her way down kissing and nipping at Tara's neck. Tara unbuckled the latches on Willow overalls and slid her hands inside, grabbing on to the end of her yellow shirt she pulled it up, and over Willow's head, revealing a red lace bra. Pulling at the bow on Tara's shirt, Willow pulled the shirt apart and stared at Tara's black bra. Tara grinned and pulled her down for a kiss, she reached around, and unsnapped the red bra and cupped Willow's bare beasts. A low moan forced it's way from Willow's throat, as she gently bit Tara's shoulder. Willow unsnapped the front of Tara's bra, and latched on to a hard nipple. Tara arched her back and moaned when she felt the warm wetness of Willow’s mouth. She moaned again when she felt Willow’s hand slowly caress her bare left leg.
"The Chocobo jumped over here!" Faith shouted loudly breaking Willow and Tara apart.
"Well dammit! How many time are they gonna interrupt?!" Willow growled hurriedly getting dressed.
Tara sighed and shook her head "If they interrupt again you won't have to shoot them, I'll send Ifrit after them." she said causing Willow to laugh at the image of Ifrit chasing the others.
"Now that I would pay to see!" Willow said buckling her overalls as the group rounded the cliff on their chocobos.
"Whoa! That a temple?" Xander asked staring at a forty-foot tall temple suspended over a dark ravine. Looking over the edge no one could see the bottom, only the inky blackness.
"We we're just talking about going in." Tara said and turned to the twenty-five foot long swinging bridge over the ravine.
"I'm sure that's exactly what you were doing... but, tell me this, why are you wearing Willow's shirt?" Faith asked in a whisper.
Tara blushed dark red, and Willow's eyes widened when she looked down and found herself wearing Tara's thin white shirt.
"Well...I thought...umm...Tara would...uh...look good in my, uh, shirt. So, we switched."
Faith smirked. "Nice one, Will. Although she does look good, you'd better 'switch' back."
Taking Willow's hand Tara ran around the side of the cliff. "Willow I-I...uh, don't think we have time...right...right now." Tara said when Willow pushed her up against the cliff wall, and started kissing her neck and shoulder. Sighing Willow stepped back and took off the shirt she was wearing, and handed it to Tara.
"You do know, that I'm not going to give up." Willow said pulling her shirt over her head and bucking her overalls. Holding out her hand she smiled at Tara and walked back to the group.
Giles was half way across the swinging bridge, being sure the board and rope would hold their weight. He called to the group and told them to cross two at a time and no more. Anya and Xander walked across first, followed by Tara and Willow, and finally Faith and Buffy. The temple door opened when Tara walked up the steps, looking back to the others she went in. There were no statues in the temple only one door leading to the Fayth. Willow followed Tara into the Fayth's chamber and saw a young girl floating over the Fayth statue.
"Hello, Summoner, and guardian." The girl said, "Do you wish to have me an Aeon?"
"Yes, but if I may ask, what kind of Aeon are you? This temple is not heard of." Tara said kneeling.
"My name is Shana Carbuncle, and my Aeon is a small light green bunny like creature with a diamond shaped ruby in her forehead. Call on me in battle and I'll cast a Reflect spell on you and your guardians. Do you still want me as an Aeon?" Shana asked quietly.
"Yes." Tara smiled at the girl
"Thank you, but I do have a request, would you please call me Carbuncle?"
"Thank you. Before we bond, I must tell you something. There is another hidden temple; your guardian woke up there. And there was a Fayth that was stolen many years ago, and hidden in a cavern between the Calm Lands and Mt. Gagazet. You would obtain two very powerful Aeons if you seek them out." The girl said and flew into Tara's body bonding with her. Willow caught Tara before she could hit the ground, holding on to her, Willow sat down and laid Tara's head in her lap and waited.
"Hey, everything okay in here?" Anya whispered slowly stepping in fifteen minutes later.
"Yeah, Tara's just resting after the Aeon bonded with her."
"We must find the other Aeons." Tara said and sat up.
"Don't worry the other one is close." Willow said rubbing Tara's back.
"Yes," Tara nodded "then, let's go."
The group walked back to the Chocobos and headed for the Aeon the girl had told Tara about. Stopping at the exit they left the Chocobos with the woman and thanked her. Willow saw a wooden bridge over a pathway leading into a small valley. Before they could go any further than a few steps two Guado men stepped in front of them.
"Halt! Lady Glory summons you. Come with us!"
"We have nothing to discuss with Lady Glory!" Tara said forcefully as Willow stepped in front of her.
"Tara isn't going anywhere! So, get out of our way!" Willow said pulling her sword.
"Lady Glory's commands must be obeyed! You will come with us. Although I warn you the Lady doesn't need you alive."
Xander threw his ball hitting the Guado in the head "Like Will said, Tara isn't going anywhere!"
"Have it your way." The Guado said and motioned with his left hand, a large machina robot walked forward. It stood ten-foot tall; the brownish gray arms were long enough that the fingers touched the ground. Faith swung her spear hitting it machina on its wrist joint, and severing the hand, the robot swiped at Faith knocking her back. Xander threw his glowing blitzball hitting the machina on the head, causing a black cloud to cover its face. Anya cast a Waterga spell as Buffy threw in a Firestorm mix; Giles and Willow were taking turns hitting the joints in its arms and legs. Willow ducked under the massive hand as it tried to hit her, and hit the joint again, severing the hand off. Giles took one last swing breaking both knee joints, sending the machina to the ground. Buffy ran over and pulled the chest plate off, and ripped out the wiring. The Guado ran off when they saw the machina go down. Tara finished healing Faith, and walked toward the pathway leading down between the Calm Lands and Mt. Gagazet with the others following.
"She said it was in a cavern, didn't she?" Tara asked when Willow took her hand.
"Yeah, and I'm thinking that's it." Willow pointed to a dark cave opening to their right.
"You saying we gotta go down there?" Xander said looking into the opening.
"Well then, if there's a Fayth down there, let's go get it." Buffy said and walked into the cave.
Following the group found themselves in a dark tunnel with purple smoke rising out of the stonewalls. At the end of the tunnel was a bigger section with three mushroom like fiends in front of another tunnel entrance. Anya cast a Firaga spell setting the fiends on fire then cast a Water spell to put the flames out, and walked on through.
"Why in the hell is a Fayth in a place like this?" Buffy asked walking behind Willow.
"Hope you're not asking me, cause I don't know." Willow looked over her shoulder.
"Someone stole this Fayth from a temple, and hid it here." Anya said turning another corner.
"Why?" Willow asked confused.
"Without all of the Aeons, the Summoner cannot gain knowledge. Without knowledge, the Summoner cannot receive the Final Aeon. And without the Final Aeon, the Summoner cannot fight Sin. That is what the thief was thinking at the time he or she stole the Fayth." Giles said walking past.
"I see, then the Summoner won't have to die." Buffy said nodding her head with a grin.
Willow leaned over to Buffy "I feel the same way."
They stepped around a corner and found Giles and Anya standing in front of a chamber. "Tara, the Fayth is inside, go." Giles said and leaned against the wall.
Inside the chamber a man was floating over the Fayth's statue, and smiled when Tara stepped in followed by Willow.
"Good day to you Summoner and guardian, I am Mikaile, and my Aeon is the Death Dragon. Call me into a battle and I will kill all fiends in one hit. Do you wish me to be your Aeon?"
"Then Summoner, I grant your wish. You must know there is one last Aeon to seek out, speak to your guardian standing beside you, and you will know where to find it." Mikaile flew into Tara's body and bonded with her. Again Willow did as before laying Tara's head in her lap and waited. Like a clock Tara awoke fifteen minutes later, and smiled up at Willow.
"Hey you, you feeling okay?''
"I'm fine now that I've rested." Tara rose and kissed Willow twice.
"Not that I'm complaining...but, what was the second one for?"
"For being here."
"Okay, now I'm very, very happy Sin sucked me up in Zanarkand!"
"Come on, let's get to Mt. Gagazet." Tara said and kissed her again. Willow walked out of the chamber with a goofy grin, and holding Tara's hand. Back at the entrance to Mt. Gagazet Tara stopped and turned around as the group waited.
Sometimes Tara would just stare off into the distance. I finally understand why. She was saying goodbye to the places she'd never see again.