If I told you I'm not terrified, I'd be lying.
Still, I think I manage some half-decent courage when I realize I'm in Leviathan's slime-coated stomach, and I don't go completely bananas. Instead, I clamor onto my feet, take a one-eighty to inspect, then see the sylph before me.
And she's too beautiful to let her see me freak out.
She's my reflection of height, yet hardly my reflection of panic, and her body glows with a pastel aura. Her eyes are neon green. Determination glistens along her wet face as we stare, eye-to-eye, like two predators determining who strikes first.
She is porous and reflective—like a freshly spritzed lime—and she's stark naked, yet also fully clothed, her iridescent wings wrapped around her like my mother used to fold her robes: take the four dragonfly petals, tuck them beneath the arms, then lift them up-and-over her shoulders, tying the swathes of wings behind the neck. I remember the instructions well, since I always wanted wings of my own, being the daughter of the Mist Dragon and all.
I never grew wings, though. I'm like a fuzzy, green-headed beanpole. Mind you, when Leviathan swallows me, I am seven years old, so expecting more than a lanky mess isn't fair. Don't judge.
"Hello, Rydia," the sylph says. "Welcome to the trial of your life."
I wipes the salt-sting from my eyes and look beyond her, into the maw of the sea serpent's stomach. Everything still descends down, further down.
Last I remember, Cecil and Edward were shouting to me from the bow of the ship, and Yang already jumped into the currents. The ocean capsized the vessel, and the great sea serpent, Leviathan, emerged from the crashing tides. Then whirlpool pulled me in.
I have to remind myself again about Leviathan's jaws, swallowing me whole. I don't believe it at first, like I hit my head and dreamt up some really bizarre stuff. Yet as I replay the memory, I realize it's true—Leviathan attacked out ship—and I wonder how I'm alive. I should be dead.
"Do you plan to die?" the sylph asks. "Or live?"
I curl my upper lip. "Uhh. I choose live, stupid."
She doesn't like that. I guess none of the kids ever liked me calling them stupid. But I never liked any of the kids, so things worked out that way.
As Leviathan inhales, the sudden breath pushes me forward, it also sucks her back. She opens her wings and forfeits herself into the tunnel, into barely penetrable darkness.
There was a sylph there.
Now there's no sylph there.
I blink several times before I scream, "Wait!"
No good. She's way too gone.
I shake my head. One of my ears is waterlogged, so I try that thing where I punch the other ear a little, but not too hard, and obviously it doesn't help. Just gives me a headache.
When I peer long enough, and openly enough, into the foggy hall of this sea god's stomach, I don't just see the twinkling of the sylph who fell in, but the shadowy edges of another person—of many people—like an entire city of dwellers within Leviathan's body.
I see them but don't see them, you see.
Mom always told me when we see and don't see, we're peering into another world, and as the Summoners of Mist, that's exactly what the Crystals always meant for us to do.
We can interact with Eidolon—the highest echelon of monsters—and once they grant us their true name, we can call upon them from anywhere.
Now that I'm the only Summoner of Mist left alive.
So there's no "we" in anything.
After Cecil and Kain brought a murderous package of Bombs to Mist, it took the lives of my friends, teachers, and rivals. As awful as it felt, my sadness hit like overflow, because I was already mourning the death of my mom. As the Mist Dragon, she was supposed to protect our village from the intruders—and she failed.
Cecil told me that the package was a secret to everybody—that he had no idea the King of Baron sent them to our village so a bunch of Bombs could set it on fire—but of course, I didn't believe him. Then he saved me from guards who tried to kill me.
He saved me, the last of my people.
Now I have to see what I see and I don't see.
I've no choice.
I'm the only one from Mist left alive.
So Leviathan may have swallowed me, but I have to keep going... And also, I'm hungry. Hunger pushes you forward, at a primal and animalistic level.
This is a stomach; surely there must be something undigested somewhere? My cat used to eat her own barf; I don't see why I can't sustain off some half-digested food, too.
I whisper, "Fire," and a flame leaps forth from my cupped hands.
Then I hold the Fire spell out like a lantern, and I wander further inside.
If I told you I'm not terrified, I'd be lying; but I manage a half-decent facade.
First draft: June 18
Second & third drafts: August 18
Word count: second 600; third 870
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Rydia's Last Cure | ✔️Fanfiction
| Wattys Longlist 2018 | #WattPride | Growing pains just leveled up, thanks to a sylph casting a spell on this summoner-girl's internal clock. | Bisexual and asexual female leads. | Complete FFIV fanfiction novella.