Dawn sat the airship down at the entrance to Mushroom Rock road, and waited for the girls to leave before lifting the ship back into the air. Just inside the entrance they saw Ormi and Logos run off toward the headquarters.
"What're those creeps doing here?" Buffy asked confused.
"Maybe there's a sphere here."
"Now, it's our turn to follow them." Tara said taking the lead and running into a group of Youth League members.
"It's good to see you again, Lady Tara! You haven't forgotten me, have you?"
"Yaibal, isn't it? You're in the Youth League."
"You really do remember me! I am truly honored, Lady Tara! Since that day we first spoke, the Youth League has been searching for sphere, also. We, the Youth League... William, take it from here."
William sighed and saluted "We, the Youth League, to better our understanding of Spira's past, vow to remain vigilant in our search... ...for ruins and spheres." he said unhappily.
"That's enough! Those two are getting away!" Buffy shouted angrily.
"Yaibal, did Leblanc's men pass through here?" Willow asked stepping up to the young man.
"Yes. They said they came here to take care of our fiend problem. You see, the League is in preparation for an important operation, leaving the patrols shorthanded. And now the road to Headquarters is overrun with fiends. Are you willing to run the gauntlet?"
"Sure, we're game." Tara said fingering her pistols.
"Great! You will encounter fiends until you reach the vicinity of the lift. Please be careful." Yaibal said saluting. "William! Show them the way!"
"Yes sir. This way, please."
"Yeah! Let's hunt down some fiends!" Buffy said following William.
"You seem down." Tara said as she approached William.
A lot has happened since you brought us the Calm. I ended up following Captain Drusilla. When she joined the Youth League, so did I. But I'm still stuck playing tour guide."
"Everything will work out." Tara patted him on the shoulder before catching up with Willow and Buffy.
Taking the lift up they enter the road, and see several fiends in their path, and Ormi and Logos jumping down into another section of the road. Willow cast a Watera spell on a Thunder Flan, as Buffy dodged canine fiend. Tara fired at a lizard fiend as it jumped at her; Buffy turned and sliced the canines' throat as jumped at her. Willow took down a Fire Element with a Blizzara spell, and ran forward severing the head off of another canine fiend.
"What the hell is that!?" Willow asked confused when she saw a two foot tall green fiend with yellow eyes, wearing a brown robe, and carrying a lantern in one hand, and a knife in the other.
"Careful! That's a Tonberry!" Buffy took a step back "It's dangerous!"
"What? That little thing? Yeah right!" Willow said and swung her sword at it. The Tonberry moved toward her, and stabbed her leg. Willow fell to the ground half dead. Tara pumped two full clips into its body, as Buffy threw a Pineapple grenade, and a Waterfall mix at it. The Tonberry fell to the ground bursting into souls, as Tara ran over to Willow. Taking out a Phoenix Down and pouring in Willow's mouth, coughing she sat up and looked around.
"Okay, I believe you now." she said getting up.
"Good! Now let's get going." Buffy jumped down into the lower section of the road, with Tara and Willow following. Heading straight and turning right they came to a cave opening. Quietly walking in they saw Ormi and Logos near a door with nine sphere slots.
"This one ain't no good." Ormi said tossing a sphere into a growing pile at his feet.
Sighing Logos shook his head and tossed another one down. "Nor this one."
"What're you doing?" Tara asked making the men jump and turn. Ormi fell to the floor collecting the spheres.
"Let's get out of here!"
"We have to tell the boss!" Logos said firing a smoke bomb from his pistol, and ran with Ormi right behind him.
When the smoke cleared they saw a red sphere on the ground. "Hey, they left one."
"It's ours now." Tara said picking the sphere up, and turned to leave as a man walked through the entrance.
"Hey! Remember me?" He asked smiling.
"Of course I do! How have you been Andrew?"
"I joined up with the Youth League, and that's been keeping me busy."
"I'm a sphere hunter now."
"That sounds great, trying out a new way of life. Actually, Warren's a sphere hunter now, too. He's the leader of the Kinderguardians. Say hi when you see him."
"He's good, he's working with New Yevon, now." Andrew said and examined the door. "The Youth League discovered this place, you know. It's called the Den of Woe. Although, the door was sealed around the time of Operation Mi'ihen. But the seal can be broken with the right combination of spheres."
"Really?" Willow asked glancing at Tara and Buffy.
"Yeah. But I'm afraid this place is off-limits...at least until we can conduct a more thorough investigation. So, I'll have to ask you to leave. I'm sorry."
"It's okay, it's your job." Tara said and left with the others behind her. Climbing back up to the main road Willow kept an eye out for Tonberries, as they headed toward the lift. The only thing that blocked their path was two canine fiends and a Red Element. Easily dispatching them, the girls continued and took the lift up.
"Hey! Lady Tara! It's been so long, how are you?"
"Darla? I'm good. How are you?"
Never better! I've always got something to do now that I'm in the Youth League!" She said and turned toward two men. "Step aside for the Lady!"
"Yes ma'am, Captain!"
"Thank you, Darla. It was good seeing you!"
"You too, My Lady." Darla watched the lift rise into the air, and come back down.
Stepping off the lift the girls looked ahead of them, and their eyes went wide. Standing proudly in front of them was a four story tall building, and was as wide as four airships set touching end to end.
Eight and nine year old boys and girls were running around with wooden swords playing. The adults were working on machina cannons, and practicing their sword skills. Walking along the red carpet they approached Commander Drusilla.
"It's been too long, Lady Tara." Drusilla said saluting.
"It's good to see you!" Tara said and hugged the Commander.
Willow shook her hand, and Buffy gave her a bone-crushing hug, causing the Commander to squeak.
"I am happy to see you all well. Meyvn Nooj, our leader has been hoping for an audience with you, My Lady, for some time now. But unfortunately he is planning a mission of great import, and will be occupied well into the night. I'm sorry, but I must ask that you return another day."
"Oh, it's no trouble."
"Tell me," Buffy said stepping forward. "You guys are looking for spheres too, right?"
"Yes, the mission we are planning also revolves around a sphere, but... I am sorry. I better not say no more. It is not a matter to be discussed openly."
"No, I suppose not." Willow shook her head.
"My apologies." Drusilla saluted as the girls turned.
"Hey! Wait." Willow said and motioned at an old man. "Isn't that Maechen?"
"Yes, it is. Let's go say hi." Tara said and walked over to the man.
"My Lady, it is good to see you." Maechen said sitting on the ground. "It's been...what? Two years, now?"
"Tell me, where have you been?" Tara said and sat down. Buffy sat down to her left and Willow sat to her right, taking her hand.
"These past two years have been truly tumultuous. I have been traveling across all Spira searching for knowledge. Only to have it slip my mind a moment later. Just between us, I don't even remember my own age. Anyway, after you brought the Calm, the seekers of spheres appeared, now calling themselves Sphere Hunters. They scoured Spira in search of spheres to learn more of Spira's history. A man named Trema began the group he was a priest of Yevon, and helped in the search. But now he has disappeared and taken the spheres with him."
"He disappeared?" Willow asked confused.
"Yes. You see, he found hundreds of spheres and horded them all to himself, not letting anyone else see them. That was how the Youth League formed, a man named Nooj a former Crusader wanted to learn of our past. And when Trema refused to let him and others see the spheres, he gathered like-minded people together, and gathered outside Bevelle's temple door. When they finally made it inside, Trema had taken the spheres and left. No one has seen him since."
"Weird." Buffy said and rose.
"Before you go, might I ask a favor, Lady Tara?"
"What is it?"
"I'd like to shake your hand... if it's not too much trouble. To touch just once the hand that defeated Sin and saved all Spira."
"Of course." Tara stuck her hand out.
"Thank you," Maechen said covering Tara's hand with both of his. "Now this old scholar can go in peace."
"Don't say that."
"Your hand..." Maechen said stepping back.
"Is something wrong?" Tara asked watching him step back further.
"No, no, it is nothing. Lady Tara you have my thanks." he said and walked off deep in thought.
Buffy watched him go before turning back with a confused look. "I think that man is loosing it."
"Buffy!" Tara shouted as Willow laughed. "Willow!"
"Um...uh, yeah. Buffy! You shouldn't have said that!" Willow said backing away from Tara.
"What!? You were laughing!" Buffy chased after the now running Willow, with Tara following.
They chased Willow down Mushroom Rock Road yelling and screaming. Willow was cutting a path with her sword severing the heads off the fiends, and the ones she missed Tara shot them. Willow ran back to the entrance laughing as she ran into and knocked William down.
"Please let me go on your airship!" William said as Willow helped him up.
"I know there's a place for even someone as sad and pathetic like me. Somewhere I won't screw everything up! So, please allow me to ride on your airship!"
Tara and Buffy caught up breathing hard and heard what he'd said. Willow turned around and shrugged her shoulders. "Well?"
"Sure, William you can get on the airship." Tara said and watched as a smile crossed William's face.
"Thank you, Lady Tara!" He said and followed them to the airship.