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When they get to the zenith of the short hill, Zei stops walking for a bit to just look at the village from this vantage point.


"Stay as long as you like," says Lulu when she notices this, and she, too, stops walking.


Wakka, of course, also stays behind with them, although he goes over to the stone monument and kneels in front of it.


Tōkan is getting increasingly certain that this pilgrimage is a lot more dangerous than the priest led him to believe.

He leaves Zei to his contemplation and walks over to where Wakka is to examine the stone monument in more detail. It's sufficiently ruined that it's unclear what it was originally meant to represent, and honestly looks only like rocks that were vaguely purposefully put together in a weird way.


Wakka notices him and, without looking up, says, "It's an ancient custom. People leaving the island pray here for a safe trip." He takes a deep breath then adds, "My brother didn't pray. On the day he left. Said he'd miss his boat."


Man what part of "not touching this with a ten-foot pole" does the plot keep missing? "I'm sorry," Tōkan says, and he does mean it. He was very young when he lost his parents, so he can't really know what that's like, but he did just lose literally everyone he's ever known literally yesterday OKAY NOT THINKING ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW.


When Zei pulls away from looking out at the village he also kneels in front of the monument, and Lulu mimics him.

But he only stays there a moment before standing back up and saying, "Onwards, then."


Tōkan is relieved that Kimahri did not participate in the whole kneeling thing, either. He'd have felt a lot guiltier about it if he'd been the odd one out.

He's also kind of curious about the whole "how dangerous is this pilgrimage, really?" thing but probably the boat will be a better location for this kind of question.


The way back to the beach is uneventful—if there were any fiends prowling the road, the advance party has dealt with them. When they get to the docks, they're empty save for the party and the people manning the boat. It's still early, and probably most villagers who didn't sleep in after last night's bonfire figure they've already said their goodbyes and it'll only make it feel harder to be here when Zei leaves.


Tōkan is told that the boat is going to Kilika Island, which is part of the same archipelago that contains Besaid itself. There's another temple there which Zei plans to visit to get his second aeon, and after that they're going to Luca, where hopefully they'll find someone who recognises Tōkan and that will help with his memories.

Yeah, right.

The boat is sufficiently unoccupied that everyone can have an individual cabin for themselves if they want to rest. The trip will take about half a day; they should arrive in Kilika just after sundown.


"Alright, boys!" says Wakka to the Aurochs (plus Tōkan) who are assembled on deck. "We got all day long with nothing at all planned. Know what that means?"

    "That we can rest and relax for a day?" asks Keepa.

"Funny! No. We gotta practice. Now that we got the new guy here you need to get working together. Got a feeling that we have a real chance this year!"

        "You said that last year," puts in Botta, but he withers under Wakka's glare.


...this team is a bit dysfunctional. That'll explain why they've never won a tournament, if it's been like that.

"If I may," he says, stepping forward and turning around to face the rest of the team. "Do you guys like blitzball?"

    The team could not have been more offended if he'd tried. "Of course!" cries Jassu and "Yeah!" says Letty and so on.

Tōkan was obviously just using this as a rhetorical device, so he just nods and continues with, "And why did you join the team? The team specifically, I'm sure all of you could've played amateur blitzball for fun whenever you wanted."

    Now that question gives them more pause. "I wanted to play in Luca," Jassu says.

        "The stadiums are free to use off-season," reasons Datto.

    "...I guess," Jassu agrees, and folds his arms to think some more.


    "I wanted to win," says Letty after half a minute of silence (when it became really clear that Tōkan was waiting for actual answers and Wakka was not going to rescue them). "I... wanted my name to be up there."

        Keepa nods, looking awkward for admitting it to himself, and Datto says, "I don't care about the personal glory... but I want Besaid to get the trophy."

            "Competing is fun," says Botta. "Tryin' to see who's best. Only..."

"...only?" prods Tōkan.

            "...only we suck."


"Hey, now—"


But Tōkan raises a hand to interrupt him.

"You guys suck, you say. What's that mean?"

    Once again they're not expecting this question. "It means... we aren't very good players?" tries Jassu.

"What's a good player?"

    The team looks simultaneously like the answer to that question should be obvious and also like they have no idea how to actually say it. "You know what it means," Jassu says after a few more seconds of silence. "We don't have as much—skill—"

"You know what I just saw, a couple of minutes ago?"

    Now he's wary. "What?"

"A whole team of competitive blitzball players who think they're not good enough and who still don't want to practice to get better."


The collective flinch is painful to watch. The only one who doesn't look ashamed or upset is Wakka, who instead looks pensive.

    "I mean, what's the point?" asks Botta, his face scrunching up in—something like anger, or disappointment, or... "Practisin' won't help. It's hopeless. We, we keep tryin' to do our best and our best just ain't enough."


"That so? So do you guys think the, the, help me out here—"

    "The Luca Goers," suggests Keepa.

"The Luca Goers don't practise? Do you think they just laze around all day and then win by Yevon's providence?"

        "...well..." starts Botta, but Tōkan interrupts him.

"I'll tell you here and now that even without any memories or knowledge I know that the Luca Goers actually spend a ridiculous amount of time practising. Now, what do you think their captain would say if you asked them what they're trying to do when they practise and play?"

            " win," says Letty.

"Fucking right that's what they'd say. No one cares about their best. No one cares about people trying very hard and then that not being enough. People care about winners. And winners try to win. When a winning team starts a day's practice, they don't go into it satisfied with doing their best."

        "What can we do, then? If not our best?" challenges Botta.

"Win. Your best isn't some, some immovable goal that you reach and then go 'well here I am, at my best, guess that's all I can do'. Your best should be something that changes all the time! Because you're trying to win, because your goal is victory. Every time you pass the ball, you don't do your best; you try to win. Every time you shoot into the goal, you're not doing your best; you're trying to win. Every tackle, every movement, you should always have this in mind: you want to win. What does victory look like? Is it better to try to stop that fielder right now or save your energy for later when you're in a better position to pass your ball to your own fielders? Is it better to try to prevent the other team from scoring at all costs or to sometimes accept it as a necessary part of the game and try to make up for it later?"


"The game has a time limit. At the end of the time limit, the team with the most goals wins. It's not the team that did their best to not let the other team score. It's the team that scores the most. Blitzball is, fundamentally, a proactive sport. You want to always be on the offence, to always be looking at the field and thinking about what your next movement should be to win.

"And people who are trying to win just become better players. Their best will change, because they'll always be improving, do you see? They break their own limits, they push beyond what they thought they could do, they find the extra mile they can go.

"So what do we want?"

    Everyone is quiet again, but Letty says, tentatively, "To win?"

"Say it louder, I can't hear you."

    "To win!" he cries.

"Louder! And all of you together!"

    "To win!" the whole team shouts.

"Fucking right you want to win! Our goal here is victory! And what do winners do when they have an important tournament coming up and a lot of free time?"

        "...practise," says Jassu with a slight grimace.

"No! Not '...practise.' The correct answer is 'practise!' You want to win? Then act like it. You think you're not good enough right now? Then become someone who is good enough. And you can only do that if you try. So, what are you going to do now?"

    "Practise," the team tries.

"Can't hear you!"

    "Practise!" they shout again.

"You're gonna practise and you're gonna do better and you're gonna win. Understood?"

   "Yes, sir!" they say in unison.


"Good. So, before practice, I want all of you to go to separate cabins downstairs and spend ten minutes by the clock thinking about things you want to do. Not just ways to improve from where you are now, I want you guys to come up with moves you always wanted to learn but never did. Go wild, list twenty of them if you want. Back here in ten minutes sharp."


The team... looks incredibly confused by this suggestion but after a couple of seconds of looking at each other awkwardly decide to obey.

"Hey, uh," starts Wakka after everyone else's gone. "That was really good."


"No kidding," says Zei, who somehow has mysteriously appeared leaning against the wall to the bridge.


Tōkan nearly jumps out of his skin when he hears Zei's voice. "—you could stand to be louder! Maybe wear a bell around your neck or something!"


"But this was much funnier."




"Say," Wakka begins, "was that... rehearsed? Or..."

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