Yuna walked across the endless green meadow of the Farplane, the grass covered with flowers, the sky dancing with pyreflies, and knew that her search was over. Vegnagun was defeated, Shuyin's shade was banished, and Tidus was gone.
Not gone, she reminded herself, letting her hand rest over her heart. Like she had told the fayth, Tidus was with her, and he always would be, but he wasn't part of her life and never would be again. And maybe that was okay. If she was being honest with herself, she had started letting go as soon as she learned that it wasn't him in the sphere, once she realized that her search was likely futile and decided to press forward anyway -- not out of desperation, but curiosity. Maybe everything else she had found instead was more important.
Lost in thought, she didn't realize that the mist around her had grown denser until she looked up and couldn't see her friends anymore. Paine and Rikku had been ahead of her, Leblanc and the guys behind, but now no one else was visible, and she stopped. Getting lost on the Farplane was never a good idea, especially not when you were alone, especially especially not when you had just told the last person to guide you out that you were okay with never seeing them again. "Rikku?" she called out. "Paine? Guys?" There was no response, not even the echo of her own voice, the sound deadened by the dense mist. "Where is everyone?"
"Hello?" A male voice cut through the clouds of pyreflies, distorted and strange in the dead air. "Who is there?"
"It's Yuna," she shouted back. "I'm over here."
Silence fell, and then the man -- Gippal? Nooj? It didn't quite sound like either of them; too low-pitched for Gippal, too clipped to be Nooj -- responded. "Keep talking," he said. "Let me follow the sound of your voice."
"Um, okay," Yuna said. "Can you still hear me? How far away do you think you are? What should I say?"
"You could start by telling me who you are, and what this place is." A figure emerged from the fog, and it was definitely neither Nooj nor Gippal. It was, in fact, a man Yuna had never seen before, with dark blond hair, a sharp nose, and a sort of machina weapon slung over his shoulder. And unless she was mistaken, very much alive. So how could he be here? Had he fallen down one of the holes by accident? He sure didn't look like he was from Spira, though.
"This is the Farplane," she said, calming her voice while her mind churned with questions.
"And what manner of place is the Farplane?" The man looked around him, eyebrows raised. "Gentle fields choked with Mist, not another living soul around?" He turned to look at Yuna, then smiled. "Ah, but I am remiss. You introduced yourself earlier, and I have not returned the favor. My name is Balthier, and I'm afraid I'm terribly lost." He swept down into a bow, hands spread wide in a flourish, then rose up with a gleam in his eye. "So I thank you for finding me. Now, I don't suppose you could point me the way back?"
"I'm afraid I'm a bit lost myself," Yuna admitted, glancing around her gray world. "I got separated from my friends, and now I don’t know exactly where I am."
"Then it would seem we are in similar straits." Balthier unhooked the gun from behind his back -- at least, it looked like a gun, although the handle was made of polished wood rather than metal -- and balanced it in his hands. "So. Tell me, what is the Farplane, and why would I have stumbled into it whilst exploring the Feywood?"
Yuna shook her head. "The Feywood?"
"A land much like this land," Balthier said, sweeping his hand to indicate the ground. "Mysterious vistas choked with Mist. I was in search of a mark when I realized my partner was gone. I must have become turned around trying to search for her, and then the Mist took on this odd sparkling quality." He turned and watched a pyrefly trace its winding route upwards. "Have you ever seen its like?"
"All the time," Yuna replied, head tipping quizzically to the side. "They're just pyreflies."
"Never heard of the things." Balthier turned to look down at her. "Where are we?"
"I told you, the Farplane." Yuna bit the inside of her cheek to keep from breaking into giggles. Another handsome stranger who spoke of strange places and didn't know the simplest of things about Spira, stumbling into her life? What were the odds? "So you don't know it?" He shook his head. "Well. It's kind of a long story. And we're never going to find our way out just standing here. I think...." she pivoted on her heel and looked carefully. "The fog seems to be clearing in that direction. Let's give it a try. We can talk while we walk."
Balthier shrugged. "One direction is as good as another. Lead the way, my lady."
Yuna started walking, and Balthier fell into step beside her. "Tell me, Balthier, where are you from?"
"That is another long story," Balthier replied. "Let us just say Ivalice, for now."
"Ivalice?" Yuna looked up at him. "Where's that?"
"Everywhere," he said. "Except this is not Ivalice, is it?"
Yuna shook her head. "We're in Spira. Well, kind of. The Farplane is where spirits come to rest."
Balthier stopped short. "That... cannot mean what I think it means."
Yuna smiled. "We're not dead, if that's what you're thinking. The living can also visit the Farplane. I promise, you're as alive as I am." Gingerly, she reached out to pat his arm, as if to prove to both of them that he was tangible. His arm was indeed solid, warm through his white linen sleeve. "We came in through a hole in one of the temples. But I've never heard of anyone wandering into the Farplane by accident before."
"Ah, well." Balthier grinned. "First time for everything, and I pride myself on following the unblazed trail." A single pyrefly drifted past his nose, and he swiped it away. "Now, what do you recommend?"
"Hmm." Yuna realized she was still holding his arm, and dropped her hand away; he glanced over at her with a twinkle in his eye. Fighting down a blush, she stepped back and tapped her chin in thought. "The fog doesn't seem to be lightening up, rally. And wandering around the Farplane looking for a way out has never had good results for me before. Since I didn't come here alone, maybe it's best to wait and see if someone finds us."
"A reasonable suggestion. And this seems as pleasant a place to wait as any other." Balthier lowered himself to the grass, sitting cross-legged, and Yuna sat down next to him. Lost again, she thought, but at least this time I have company. She glanced up to him, took in his profile. Not bad-looking company, either. Wouldn't Rikku be surprised?