Author: Snowy Boots PM
As one crystal is stolen, the destiny of another is shattered, and the final battle begins. Mainly Prompto- and Ignis-centric, with a healthy helping of others. Possible NxS later on, but mainly friendship. Warning! Contains mentions of depression.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Prompto & Noctis - Chapters: 9 - Words: 14,568 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 07-25-12 - Published: 06-17-11 - id: 7091580
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: OH GOD DON'T KILL ME
The ridiculous lateness of this update can be partially attributed to exams, family problems, etc etc etc. The rest is just a lack of time, motivation, whatever. There's no excuse really. Sorry. *Hangs head in shame*
Still, I hope you enjoy this (late...) update, even if it is kind of short. Still, cliffhangers! Everyone likes those, right? ...Right?
Lukas means 'light', by the way.
Chapter Nine: Dil
Dil was immensely pleased with herself.
The palace walls had presented something of a challenge, due to her somewhat diminutive stature and the sheer number of heavily-armed guards milling around. Still, she'd persevered, and through sheer willpower and determination (and more than a little luck) she'd overcome her biggest obstacle.
Her mood soured significantly when she discovered that Noctis and Prompto were no longer in the palace, meaning her hard work had all gone to waste.
She managed to extract their new whereabouts from a particularly fresh-faced guard through the clever application of her boot to his shin. The hospital was a long way, and it had already been a hell of a hassle getting here.
'Excuse me,' she said sweetly, sidling up to the biggest (and therefore most likely to be in charge) armour-clad figure she could see. He slid up the visor of his helmet and glared down at her, seemingly unimpressed. She winked at him.
Five minutes later, Dil was lounging in the back of a car that would likely go for more money than the entire population of the slums combined. A large, burly man sat on the seat beside her, tapping what appeared to be a dayglo-orange police baton against his thigh.
'You wouldn't actually hit me with that thing, would you?' she asked, and giggled nervously. He didn't reply.
The trip to the hospital was made in record time, considering the chaos in the streets. Dil gaped, horrified, at the carnage left behind by the monster attacks; buildings were damaged, some reduced to nothing but rubble. The wounded lay scattered, the city watch tending to them as best they could.
'This is really bad…' Dil whispered. 'I sure hope Noctis gets his crystal back soon.'
She leaned her head against the cool glass of the window and sighed softly; her breath misted the glass and, absently, she drew her finger through the condensation, making a picture.
It was a pattern she'd traced over many times - not on glass, but on skin; a physical manifestation of every mistake she'd ever made. She hated it, and yet it was forever burned into the eye of her mind.
'What are you drawing?'
She turned, startled, to see the guard frowning at her, features wary. As she glanced back at her drawing her mouth went dry.
'That's the brand of a l'Cie,' the guard continued. 'They're not exactly welcomed with open arms around here. You shouldn't… just don't draw it.'
'Oh.' Dil flushed red, averting her gaze. 'I… I didn't know. I just thought it was something pretty. Sorry.' She swiped a hand over the glass, clearing away all traces of the cursed mark. Sitting back, she placed her hands securely in her lap and closed her eyes, feeling shame burn in her cheeks.
The rest of the journey passed in silence.
'Daddy!' Stella darted through the halls of the Fleuret palace, silken pyjamas rustling around her legs. Upon hearing the news she'd leapt from bed, not bothering into change into something more appropriate. She burst into her father's office without bothering to knock; he stood by the window, the warm light of the early morning sun throwing him into silhouette.
Stella strode forwards, planting a hand on the wood of his desk. 'Daddy, is it true? Niflheim's crystal has been stolen?'
Lukas Fleuret folded his arms over his rumpled shirtfront and nodded grimly. 'The news came this morning. I was hoping to keep it from spreading until a course of action had been decided, but it seems it's already too late for that.'
If there was disapproval in his tone, Stella ignored it. 'What will we do?' she asked quietly.
'Do?' her father echoed. 'What is there to do?'
Stella stared at him. 'Send aid, of course. Without the protection of the crystal, Niflheim has no means of defending itself against outside attack. Soldiers can only do so much.'
'Reports say that monsters are already infesting the streets.' Stella turned to the corner of the room, where her brother was sprawled lazily in the easy chair, idly twirling a pen through his fingers. The corner of her mouth twitched, irritation at his callousness already seeping through her.
'Then that settles the issue, doesn't it?' She hesitated slightly, running a fingertip over the engraved mahogany surface. 'Besides, this situation may well be… advantageous for us.'
'Oh?' Her father quirked a brow, finally deigning to give her his full attention. 'In what way?'
'Don't play the fool with me. You know as well as I do that war with Nihilsomno looms ever closer. If they attack we'll be crushed, without a doubt.'
'And your point is?'
'Niflheim's safety is compromised. If we extend our hand to them now, they have little choice but to take it. Alone, Tenebrae cannot stand against Nihilsomno, but with Niflheim by our side, we may have a chance.'
Her father scrubbed a hand over his jaw, frowning slightly. 'You realise your plan hinges solely on Niflheim choosing to accept our help? I do not think it is as likely as you think. Past transgressions are not so easily dismissed.'
'War is a man's game, sister,' her brother sneered at her, words heavy with condescension. 'The battlefield is no place for a woman, nor for foolish sentiment. I would advise you to stay out of this matter.'
Stella turned on him in an instant, eyes glittering dangerously. 'And war is no game! Human life is not something to be gambled away on foolish pride and stubbornness, Elias!' Gritting her teeth in agitation, she looked back to her father, turning her back on Elias.
'What will you do, then, Daddy?'
Lukas sighed, passing a hand through greying blond hair. 'I will contact Validus; however, nothing is guaranteed, Stella. Remember that.' He glanced at Elias. 'Leave us now, son. Stella and I have something to discuss, and it is not for your ears.'
Elias sighed in frustration, but acquiesced without complaint. The door slammed shut behind him and Stella flinched slightly.
'What is it you wanted to discuss?'
'Noctis Lucis Caelum.'
Stella baulked. 'What about him…?'
'I hear you two seemed to be getting along.'
Stella cleared her throat, bare toes lightly scuffing the carpet. 'Yes, we were. I suppose you could say he's something of a kindred spirit.'
'He too can see the light.'
'Is that so?' Her father glanced sharply at her. He moved, slowly, like a predator stalks its prey, coming around the desk to stand before her. 'Remember, Stella. The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Niflheim are not our allies. It would be… unwise… to form any attachments to them in these dark times. Should you ever find yourself face-to-face with Prince Noctis on the battlefield, you cannot hesitate. Contrary to what Elias says, you too have your place in war.'
This declaration was greeted with silence; Stella's jaw was clenched, her face flushed with anger and embarrassment.
'I understand what you are saying, Father,' she spat the last word, as though it were venom on her tongue. 'But do not presume to decide my own allies for me. Prince Noctis may not be your ally, but he is kind. Unlike you I do not forsake those who can show kindness to their enemies, no matter whose flag they march beneath.'
She didn't wait to hear her father's reaction, but turned and retraced her brother's steps towards the door. It swung shut behind her; she leaned her back against the cool wood, closed her eyes and sighed.
Prince Noctis - Noct - could see the light as well. She would not let such an opportunity slip through her fingers.
Mind made up, Stella pushed herself upright and stormed down the corridor towards her rooms. She would get dressed, and then she would do everything in her power to ensure her father did not bring another war crashing down over their heads.
'They've sounded the alarm.' Elias turned his head towards the open window, exhaling a thin stream of smoke. 'It's only a matter of time before they crawl over here to throw themselves on my father's mercy.'
Cameo, stretched out on the chaise longue, left the book he'd been flicking through propped open on his chest and yawned widely. 'Come on, you can't tell me you're surprised.'
'No… It was always going to be a necessary setback. It's unlikely that either of them will recognise me. I trust you did a thorough job with the other one?'
'Hm? What, that glasses brat? I guess. He seemed pretty out of it when we left. I guess getting kebabed with a katana will do that to a guy.' He snorted softly, pillowing his head on his arms.
'Heh. Nonetheless, it's probably better if you make yourself scarce while they're here.' He frowned slightly, mouth pursing in irritation. 'Still, it seems Prince Noctis recovered quickly from his unfortunate tumble. A shame, really. I get the feeling he's going to become a real thorn in our side if he sticks around.'
'Well, if he's a problem you can always just arrange a convenient assassination, right?' Cameo drawled, head lolling back against the armrest. 'Not like you've got any problem with letting innocent people die.'
The cigarette tumbled from Elias' fingers, spraying ash on the windowsill; he turned, eyes wide and incredulous. 'On the contrary, my friend. Unnecessary death is what I'm trying to avoid.'
'By taking away Niflheim's only way of defending themselves?' Cameo rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, I can really see the logic in that.'
'Taking their crystal has tipped their hand. They have no choice but to ask for our help. With Niflheim at our side, we might actually stand a chance against Nihilsomno's armies. And then, when that war is finished, we can use the power of the crystal to crush them in turn.'
'Yeah… I'm still not seeing the whole 'innocent people won't die' aspect of all this.'
Elias huffed in exasperation. 'I'd hardly call them innocent. If Niflheim hadn't invaded Vallis Acerba, Nihilsomno would never have retaliated against us. 'Tenebrae is a shell of its former self, and we have only them to blame.' Elias turned his gaze to the city outside, watching as it drowned under endless rain. 'Speaking of Vallis Acerba, I wonder how our good comrade is doing… He hails from there, does he not?'
Shrugging, Cameo replied, 'Don't ask me. He never shut up. I tuned him out after five minutes.'
'That so?' Elias smirked. 'Still, he got the job done. Good old Prompto. I wonder what he's up to right now…?'
OMG CLIFFHANGER RITE
In all seriousness... This is probably the moment when the plot starts to kick into gear. Properly, this time.
I'll apologise again for both the lateness and the crapness of this chapter. Still, review if you enjoyed (or if you didn't) and tell me if you spot any mistakes.