Lily's Awakening

The Crossroads
Now

Before the awakening began, the Being's finger had touched Lily’s forehead momentarily. It felt like being brushed by a galaxy. She felt waves of power gradually spreading from her forehead, a tingling, pulsing, vibrating force, resonating her every cell, her every element. She laid down on her back, slowly enough to allow Marcus to crawl from her shoulder to her chest, disengaging Crush with a mechanical click and moving the enormous gun aside. "Be right back," she said through clenched teeth. "Looks like this is gonna huaaaAAAH!!" Tides of pain swept through her, every atom in her body burning, every nerve ending screaming. Agony as she had never felt before. It felt like her very soul was on fire. Her teeth chattered as she tried to bite back another scream, a scream that had to come, a scream that would tear her apart… But like a receding tide, the waves of pain ebbed away. The flare died down and that terrible scream left her body as nothing but a shuddering sigh, leaving only the dull ache of her clenched jaw and the pricking sensation of four bleeding sickles in each of her palms where her nails had dug into her flesh. Lily took a deep, shaky breath, and as she released it, stars danced in from the edge of her vision to the center, and everything went black.

When she came to, it felt as if she was in the void again. No light, nothing weighing her down, no sense of direction. “Unh…” she moaned, clutching her head. “Okay, pal. You got periods beat. Griever’s balls, that hurt.” As she got to her feet slowly, the blackness around her began to lift. Yet… there was still nothing. Nothing but a rocky outcrop under her feet and a lilac sky in every direction. Whisps of cloud and fog drifted around her, a soft breeze rippling her clothes. She gazed around, blinking away the tears from her eyes that still watered with the shock of the awakening. “Sir Being?” she said tentatively. Strangely, despite the endless sky in every direction, it didn’t feel like she was supposed to speak loudly in this place. It felt small.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake. Lily knelt down, setting her knee wide and keeping her centre low as she could, the way she always did when taking a difficult shot. She had to suppress the urge to pull a pistol, or even unholster Crush. The Being wouldn’t send her to some pocket dimension into a painful death, would he? A tiny voice in the back of her mind began to moan about having walked into a trap and she shushed it. She always lived by her gut instinct, and that still told her the Being was a force of good.

A pinprick appeared in the sky before her. She had to squint to see it, but its inky blackness contrasted starkly against the lilac sky. It quickly expanded, tearing a hole in the air, a growing swirl of black and white and red appearing in its midst. As Lily watched with baited breath, the mass grew further and further, unfolding, unfurling into an enormous creature, a black biped lion with a red-and-white mane, hovering just yards away over the edge of the rock. It looked at her sternly, and Lily knew. “Griever,” she breathed. “The great Guardian Force.”

Yes. Griever did not move its mouth, but its words thundered throughout the pocket dimension. I am Griever. Now you must awaken.

“Are you going to junction with me?” Lily said, unable to keep the eagerness out of her voice.

Griever shook its massive head, its mighty mane creating ripples of wind. Not but for a moment.

“Suits me!” Lily said with a wide grin, standing up and spreading her arms wide. Griever nodded gravely, then appeared to melt inward. His paws and legs shrunk inward to his center, the tail sucking in like a strand of spaghetti. Drawing closer to the edge of the floating island, his core grew brighter and brighter, a white hot light that looked like it should have incinerated Lily. Yet when it touched her chest, it was cold, and Lily gasped. The light engulfed her, spreading across her limbs, wrapping itself around her head. She could no longer see anything but this primal, primordial light, could no longer feel anything but the bestial power flowing through her. No wonder Ultimecia went fucking nuts, she thought. Just having this power inside you all the time…

Then, Griever’s mind bloomed inside hers, and she knew everything. Knowledge filled her head, overflowing it, her skull felt too tiny for this amount of information. She opened her mind as far as it would stretch, breathing in deep, and she felt the cold and power drifting into her lungs. Every language that ever existed plowed into her head like an avalanche, and for the second time in just a few minutes, the sheer power surge knocked the consciousness right out of her. Just before she slipped back into the darkness, she felt the Guardian Force’s power flowing from her. Now go.

When she next awoke, she did not immediately open her eyes. She took a deep breath, smelling the moss underneath her, the damp refreshing on her back. She heard low voices talking, and now she could understand their every word. A small smile played around her lips as she steadied her breath. Her body still ached a little, but not as much as she’d expected. She basked in the goodness and wholeness of the Crossroads, and waited for what would happen next.

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