In an inn in the Calm Lands, a comical farce was enlivening the common room. The proprietor -- not Rin, but another Al Bhed aspiring to showmanship -- was conducting a contest for the inebriated patrons. Two dainty entertainers, a pair of skilled dancers under four feet tall, performed on a small raised stage.
The innkeep was booming out in a sideshow barker's voice:
"Who shall be the hero to deliver Spira from its sorrows?
Who shall be the legend to save us from Sin?
Let the hero step forward! Let the legend be known!"
As he declaimed, he gestured with a theatrical flourish, brandishing a black scarf.
"I shall be the hero!" one well-lubricated man at the bar cried, hopping to his feet. "I'll defeat Spira's sorrow!" He was practically a giant, broad-shouldered, pork-bellied, built like an Adamantoise.
"Come forward, then, hero! Receive your arms!"
The man strutted towards the stage. The innkeeper had no small difficulty in decorating him for the part, climbing up onto the stage to reach his head. The scarf proved to be a mask with a pair of simple eye-holes cut in the fabric. The two dancers came forward, too, one bearing a ridiculously oversized red cloak, the other dragging a six-foot wooden practice-sword painted black with red flames on it. The inkeep threw the cloak about the man's shoulders.
"Behold the hero—"
"Behold Sir Montfort, the legend of the Calm Lands! Have you any last wishes before you go to face Sin?"
"A kiss from the ladies!" the contestant roared. "I'll have a dance with them!"
The common room rocked with laughter as the man dropped his sword, mounted the stage and seized one of dancers, lifting her off her feet and cavorting around the platform with her, claiming several kisses. The other dancer stoically endured the same treatment while the onlookers hooted and clapped.
Before "Sir Montfort" had quite forgotten his mission, the proprietor beckoned. From behind a curtain at the side of the stage, a loathsome caricature of Sin began to emerge: a bulbous shape of paper and wire and plaster, studded with bottlecaps for eyes. It was hanging by a string from a long wooden pole grasped by someone hidden behind the curtain.
"Behold Sin, Spira's sorrow!" crowed the narrator of this play, amidst loud booing, clapping and shrieks from the audience. "Oh bold Monfart, please save us from the scourge of our land!"
"Sir Montfort," who was very drunk indeed, blinked like a new-hatched chocobo until one of the two dancers put the sword in his hand while the other shoved him towards "Sin". He strode towards it, swaggering— and staggering— and took a wild swing. The pole jerked upwards, and "Sin" bobbed out of his reach. He roared and hacked at it again. Each time "Sin" rose out of reach or swung away like a pendulum. Finally, the wooden sword snarled with the string by which the mobile was suspended. In his thrashing to try and break the tether, Sir Montfort overbalanced and went crashing to the floor.
"Alas!" cried the innkeep. "Sir Montfort has perished in battle against Sin, the terror of Spira. Who will save us now?"
The bouncer had to be employed to wrestle "Sir Montfort" off the stage and retrieve the costume, and the show began again.
Three patrons sat around a table in the corner, watching this show with wry expressions. Rikku was giggling into her drink, but the severe-looking woman in a blue uniform seemed less amused.
"Aww, come on, Captain, don't you think 'Sir Montfort' looked just like Auron?'"
"Lady Rikku, I cannot believe you of all people would tolerate this blasphemy."
"Here we go again," said Elma, watching as another extremely drunk patron stood to play the part of legendary hero. "Psst... Rikku... got something you could make into a mask?"
"Elma!" Lucil hissed.
"Uuummmm... no, you may not borrow my skirt!" Rikku was wearing her skimpy thief's outfit, with a skirt that was practically a handkerchief. She rummaged around in her bag of tricks, pulling out a purple scrap of fabric wrapped around a couple of ominous-looking spheres of black glass. "Ta-da! Hang on."
Lucil rolled her eyes and returned to watching the show with a prim expression, sipping her ale.
While "Sir Barco" strutted around the stage and flirted with the dancers, the thief quickly cut two eyeholes in the cloth and attached laces to the back. "Here, try this on."
"Cool!" Elma fumbled with the laces, and Rikku helped her adjust the makeshift mask so she could see. "How do I look?"
"Ridiculous," Lucil said.
The second "hero" was felled by his attire, tripping over the hem of the red cloak and sprawling flat on his face. He, too, was persuaded to relinquish mask and cloak for the next contestant.
"Alas!" cried the innkeeper. "Our third and last chance for the evening— is there no champion in the Calm Lands who can save us from Sin, and claim a hero's prize?"
"I'll do it!" Elma declared, hopping to her feet. "Let me take care of that Sin problem for ya!"
There was a certain amount of jeering and guffawing as the woman came forward, already attired in her mask. She eschewed the cloak the proprietor tried to offer her. "Nah, nah, I'm already dressed in my hero's armor, good sir!" Her uniform was red, after all. "Gimme my sword-- oh, wait, I get the parade first, right?"
Somewhat flustered, the showman launched back into his patter. "What would the hero have before his...her mighty battle with Spira's sorrow?"
"A dance with these two gals sounds splendid!"
Lucil looked pained, but Rikku was elbowing the captain and grinning as Elma took her turn on the stage. She joined hands with the two small women and launched into a credible imitation of the famous Chocobo Dance, complete with head-bobs. Cackling, she gave an exaggerated bow and dropped to one knee to kiss each of them at the end of this ludicrous performance -- although not on the lips, as the other participants had done; she gave a hug and a peck on the cheek instead. They were laughing too, rather more at ease with the madwoman.
Elma was already stalking towards the curtain, even before "Sin" appeared.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" one of the dancers said.
"Oh! Right! My captain would have my hide!" Elma saluted the table, where Lucil set her mug down with a clank and glared. The laughter in the common room grew deafening.
Elma lifted the practice sword like a plank of wood— it was longer than she was tall— and stalked towards "Sin" as it was unreeled.
"Avast, ye pesky demon!" she bellowed, taking an experimental swing. Even with a minor alcoholic buzz, the ungainly weight of the fake sword nearly made her lose her footing. On her second swing, she found a target. Wielding her weapon like a paddle, she swept through the curtain, caught the hidden operator by the seat of the pants, and sent a reedy-looking young man, the proprietor's son, tumbling out onto the stage. The Sin-model dropped to the floorboards.
"Yaaa!" Elma dropped the sword, leapt on "Sin" with a crazed grin and pulled out her camp knife, roughly slicing off the head. Gil went rolling in every direction, pouring out from the beast's belly. She pulled out handfuls and tossed them to the crowd, pocketing only a few for herself. The two dancers pirouetted around her — she winked and passed a few coins to them as well — while the proprietor tried to make the best of it.
"Behold Sir Elma, slayer of Sin!"
After the hubbub finally died down, Elma sauntered back to the table, where Rikku was in need of a healer from a fit of giggles, and Lucil was looking as grave as a turnip. Elma deposited a few gil in front of the thief, then leaned towards Lucil and puckered. The captain rolled her eyes and raised a finger, pushing the younger woman's chin away.
"Awww, don't I get a kiss for killing Sin?" Elma said, plunking back into her chair with a pout.
"Later," Lucil said placidly. "After your court-martial."
"Ooo, is that what the riding crop's for?" Rikku whispered, breaking into another fit of giggles.
"I can kill her for you, too!" Elma said.
Lucil seized both of them by the earlobes until they squawked. "As I recall, certain legendary guardians are ticklish."
"Meanie." Rikku rubbed her ear.
Another Sin, another Calm.