Author: Alrynnas PM
Noct grudgingly plays his role as his life is planned for him for the better of Niflheim. All then comes to a stop when a terrible murder occurs, shattering the world and the life he knew. Everything must be left behind as he flees for his life, only his friends and the Crystal to aid him as he seeks out the source of corruption. But fate is still unkind. Sequel to Lux Crystallis.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Noctis - Words: 7,911 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 6 - Published: 09-05-12 - id: 8500765
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Noctis grudgingly plays his role as his life is planned for him for the better of Niflheim. All then comes to a stop when a terrible murder occurs, shattering the world and the life he knew. Everything must be left behind as he flees for his life, only his friends and the Crystal to aid him as he decides to search for the root of the conspiracy against his kingdom. But there is a much greater corruption afoot, one that threatens to consume both their world and the Underworld alike.
The cursed fate that had only been a whisper in forgotten legends rises to become a very real fear, threatening to destroy everything and everyone from its ancient roots. Noctis and his friends must find the strength within them to say goodbye to all they knew so that they may ensure that everything and everyone may wake from the eternal slumber.
Disclaimer- I do not own Final Fantasy Versus XIII or its characters. (If only.)
A/N: Here it is! I hope enough people were interested in seeing the story continued to enjoy reading this! Sequel to my previous Versus fic, Lux Crystallis, this story will take Noctis and his friends (and some new faces) on a new journey that ties in more closely with the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythos! (No, this does not mean it will be connected in any way to FFXIII, but rather the lore that had been created as the origin story for each of the games under FNC. Who knows yet if Versus will still actually follow this, but my story sure will.) I suppose it's not imperative that you read LC, but it would be a great help.
(Oh, and the current header image for it is only temporary until I get myself to draw up something for this story...hopefully.)
Expect a much slower-paced start to this story. Updates will also be slow, as I have much other stuff to work on for school, and I want to focus more on another story I'm working on at the moment. I just wanted to get this chapter up as soon as possible to that people know that a sequel is happening. I do hope you enjoy!
Oh yes, and Aeternus Somnus is Latin for "The Eternal Slumber" (according to my friend that has taken Latin). This will be playing as the main theme in the story, including both literal and figurative meanings of it. I'll let you ponder just what that means will be in store for everyone...
Deep within the earth, where not even the faintest shred of light could attempt to reach, ancient tremors rumbled their way through the ancient ground. Each was like a pulse, a heartbeat, pumping the life of the planet to every corner to be used by the world's inhabitants before one day returning to its proper place down below. Every memory, every feeling of the planet could be felt. The tale it had to tell was a long, endless story of its life, and all those that had lived, or would live; as old as the ever-changing earth itself. Tales of joy. Tales of sadness. Tales of life. And tales of the cursed end, death. Here, every secret of the living world was stored.
Here, he could search for all eternity without disruption.
Once, he dared travel on the surface in his search, admiring the subtle beauties of the world that had grown into its own. But then the infestation had begun. Tiny, insignificant insects sprung forth, altering the land, barely capable of being kept under control. He cared for them naught. The others took care of them, treating them like favoured pets, But that was not his duty. That was not the task he had been given back when the flows of time were still being weaved.
The final task he had been charged with was searching. And thus, endlessly, tirelessly, he searched. Those annoying pests that had been left under guard of the others only distracted him, taunted him. At the end of their cursed lived, they managed to pass on to the very place he so relentlessly searched for. It was agonizingly humiliating to have the answer so close and yet always just out of his reach. So he had receded into the ancient earth, letting the others deal with the pests and the world he left behind.
From deep within the bowls of the world, he could search without any distraction. No more meddling or taunting from those annoying little pests. Let them deal with their cursed fates on their own, forever corrupting the world and spreading their curse to it as well. That was why he searched, to help find the way to end the world's cursed fate. Perhaps it would be better just to let it all end. All the meddling, all the corruption, all of it had only brought the world closer and closer to its cursed conclusion. But that was not his choice to make. He had completed his original tasks, and so now all he needed to do was search.
All of the world's thoughts and memories passed through him now. He studied and analyzed them, never once getting lost in the twisted and tormented emotions. Remaining below the earth, he did not rise ever again, even when the others were being slaughtered. That event, and that event alone, nearly tore him away from his duties. But such was the result of their cursed fate. Perhaps he could have helped, but who was he alone to change their fate? That was not his task. That task fell to another. And so he continued to search, so that the other may fix the cursed fate.
The tremors of the world's memories fluxed in turmoil. They groaned and twisted in unfamiliar ways. Such an event was not rare. It was a natural for more wild tremors of memories to shake through the earth when events occurred, for every event was different and special on its own.
But this one...this one was like none before it.
The cursed end breached into the living world above. It was not like before where the cursed end merely looked upon the mortal world from its dark domain and welcomed those annoying pests as they met their fate and slipped into the unseen realm. This time, there were no pathetic wails from the lost souls mixed into the memories of the world when the small glimpse of the unseen realm could be felt.
The enticing tremors sent chilled shivers up his spine. This was what he had been searching for all these endless years. That uncrossable rift between realms that only the cursed ones could pass was now breached. His unnatural eyes slowly opened, able to see the pulse of the earth and how all the memories had shaped and carved it. Those fresh memories that had caught his attention danced in front of his vision. For a brief moment, he nearly let emotion get the better of him. Elation flowed through him.
Earth groaned around him as he began to move. It had been a long time since he even dared stir. From the bowls of the world he began to rise, leaving the heartbeat, the memories, and ancient shadows that had been locked deep within behind. So many memories. So many secrets. Each moment in time he was privy to still rested in his thoughts. It was time to alter the memories that had yet to come. He rode the tremors of memories, using the conduits of the world to hasten his ascent.
The world of the living greeted him with the warm rays of sunlight. The light tickled his cold skin, his mind having long forgotten the feeling of the surface. For a moment, he simply hung in the air, basking in the light of life once more. At least there were some things that had managed to remain free of the corruption from the annoying pests.
His body shifted and coiled, leaving the ancient earth completely behind. His once indescribable, almost corporeal, form morphed into that of a mortal being for ease of movement on the surface. The notion of resembling the annoying pests chafed him, but he grudgingly accepted what must be done. One part of his search was over, but there was still more for him to accomplish. First, he had to find his brother. Of all the memories of the world, little pertained to his younger sibling. Finding him would not be easy, but it had to be done quickly. It was time to fulfill the remainder of their given tasks.
For now the Gates had been opened.
Noctis' head hung low, his chin nearly touching his chest. Before him on the table was a folder opened to the required pages, lines and lines of boring text filling up the once blank sheets of paper. He had tried to focus on the writings, the information scribed down being rather important, after all, but his mind would not pay attention. Thoughts wandered and drifted through his mind, lingering for no more than a few seconds before fading back into nothingness. Sniffing lightly, Noctis scrunched his nose around, trying to keep himself awake.
Being rather bored, he twiddled his thumbs around each other aimlessly in his lap. The repetitive action was a double-edged sword. Making certain his thumbs kept moving helped to keep his mind from drifting off to sleep, but the monotonous nature of the task would nearly lull him off to slumber. Whether it was keeping him awake or putting him to sleep, watching his twiddling thumbs was still much more interesting than the tedious notes before him.
Voices did reach his ears, becoming more of a background drone than anything coherent. They were discussing the scheduled meeting that had been laid out on the paper. Having tuned everything out right at the start, Noctis was not even aware of what the main topic of the meeting was about. There had been larger text on some of the pages, but he had not read even them. It was becoming an unwanted habit of his—tuning out and not paying much of any attention during these meetings—and such a poor one for a Prince to have contracted.
Doing so had not been his intent at all, but he simply could not help it. Focusing on recent meetings had been too much for him of late. The action of twiddling his thumbs was all he could do to keep some semblance of his mind paying attention to his surroundings. Sleep's siren calls were becoming all too enticing. But it was because of that sleep that he was as tired and weary as he was now.
As of late, his dreams had begun to unsettle him. They were not at all like the nightmares that had plagued him back when their Crystal had been shattered, but were rather of a new league. There was no calling out for help, yet he could tell something was not right while in the land of slumber. Perfectly fine dreams would morph into something morbid. Voices and faces of unknown people came to haunt him, their peaceful expressions soon becoming twisted and contorted in torment. Other times, he would simply wake after having fallen asleep and felt like he had gotten no rest at all. And so, most of the days now, he was tired, his mind wanting to drift back into sleep to become fully rested, yet it also feared what may be lying in wait.
Head jerking forward, Noctis blinked a couple times. Shifting in his seat, the Prince forced his eyes open wider so that he would temporarily remain awake. As much as he did not mind paying attention during the meeting, actually falling asleep would be a terrible action to commit in front of the Councilmen and the King of Niflheim. Before returning to twiddling his thumbs, Noctis glanced at the folder before him. Just as he had expected. This meeting was seeking to further relationships with the other kingdoms.
Noctis made a small noise under his breath and leaned back in his chair, once more twiddling his thumb in attempts to keep himself awake. Relationships were what all the meetings of late had been about. With the cold war having ended, Niflheim now sought to break free from its ancient withdrawn life and become more closely knit with its neighbours. However, tensions were still quite high. The cold war, having only ended a few months ago now, was still fresh on everybody's minds. A meager piece of paper that had been signed would not stop those who truly wished to bring harm on to others. Light steps had to be taken with great caution for any proceedings.
The twiddling of his thumbs ceased. Noctis let out a soft sigh. As slow and agonizingly painful political matters were now, he had to allow himself to trust in hope. After what had begun once nearly all the Crystals had been wiped from the face of the world had now finally come to an end. The cold war had ceased to be. People could now begin to live without fear. It would take time to completely forget that fear, but at least now they were all set upon that path. It...it was what he always wanted.
"What is it that you want from this journey?"
A light smile tugged at the corner of his mouth before forming into a sombre frown. It felt like just yesterday he had been traveling with his friends and Niveus in order to restore their Crystal. What had started out as a (relatively) simple hunt for the shards became so much more. Though it had been about a year now since they had restored their Crystal, Noctis made certain to replay the events over and over in his mind. A hand of his crept up to the lifeless gem that hung beneath his clothes, brushing past it before inconspicuously reaching up to brush some of his hair to the side. Their Crystal may have been restored, but he had not once seen or heard from Niveus since they had departed from the Underworld.
His frown deepened. It concerned him that she had not once shown herself since their return to Niflheim, but he really did not know what to expect, and whether or not it could be considered normal. Though now he had some more insight into the Crystals and their fal'Cie, there was still much he did not know about them. Just how much information had been lost from before the Crystal Age, he could not say. "A lot" felt like an understatement. Noctis tried to push the worrisome thoughts from his head. There was no use in fretting over such things. He had to trust that Niveus would be capable of showing herself again when able. However, if she only appeared in times of great need, then a part of him wished he would never see her again outside his dreams.
"Prince Noctis, what do you think?"
Head snapping up, Noctis's hands froze on his lap, his entire body ceasing to move as though he was prey caught in the sight of a predator. Mind reeling, he tried to recall just what the conversation had been for the past few moments. Eyes flickered down to the papers before him, then glanced to the next closest folder to make sure he truly was on the correct pages. The large font before him held the names of neighbouring kingdoms. Relationships had been what this meeting was about, after all. But he had no time to read the finer print to be able to learn of the details that he should have already made himself privy to prior to the meeting.
Nothing but a blank response came to his thoughts when he tried to remember what the Councilmen had been discussing. The low drone of their voices had gone in one ear and out the other. Nothing of the meeting had stuck with Noctis. All the chatter and discussions had sounded the same to him, the same as any other meeting he attended with the Councilmen. He was not entirely sure how he would get himself out of this embarrassing situation. Not only was it embarrassing for him, but the shadow of that stigma would also fall upon his family, upon his father. Something would have to be said.
Shifting in his seat to sit a bit taller, Noctis switched his gaze to the one who had asked the question. Dark hair that was beginning to gray framed the long face that was somewhat akin to Noctis'. The eyes that bored into the Prince's, however, were not like his own, for he had gotten his from his mother. But the family resemblance was still clear between Noctis and Morior Caelum, brother to King Duilius, and thus Noctis' uncle.
Morior's addition to the Councilmen had been a recent change. The previous Councilman had retired. Rumor had it that he had not liked the changes being made as Niflheim strove to pull itself from the reclusive shadows and seek better relations with their neighbours. Many people, especially in the older generations, were rather set in their old ways. Noctis did not exactly approve of holding onto tradition for merely tradition's sake alone, but there was little he could do about such things as only the Prince. For whatever reason the previous Councilman had left, Morior was appointed to the open seat. With his work in public relationships already, it had been a decent choice to select him for the open seat in the times of growing change.
However, that did not mean Noctis needed to personally enjoy the choice. A light scowl crossing his face, Noctis eyed his uncle. The older man returned the Prince's gaze. It was clear Morior had noticed Noctis had been paying little to no attention, and thus had put the Prince on the spot. Getting asked a question from anyone else other than his father was always rare. Despite being a part of the meetings, and the heir to the throne, the Councilmen never much sought for Noctis' opinion on anything. It was like he was not even attending the meetings. Yet still he came to spite them as much as it was his duty, not out of any desire on his own his own part.
Clearing his throat, Noctis brought an answer to the tip of his tongue. With still being unable to recall anything about the discussion prior, he would have to do his best with a very vague and general response: "As long as what is best for Niflheim, its people, and the Crystal is kept in mind, almost any course of action we take now would be better than sitting here and doing nothing." It took much more effort than he would have liked to keep his face straight. As generic as his response had been, and could cover a whole myriad of possible topics, there was still a chance he had missed the mark completely and had made a fool of himself.
For what felt like minutes, Morior merely stared at Noctis, as did the others in the Council Room. For such a simple and blank gaze, it certainly felt so judging. Despite being a relative, Noctis felt little love or care towards his uncle. There had once been a time when the Prince could remember happier days with his uncle, with all of his family, for that matter, but all of that had gone away after his mother's death. It really was such a shame that he did not have better connections with the remaining blood relatives he had, but Noctis never much let his mind linger on such thoughts. Thankfully, Morior then spoke, keeping the Prince from having to worry much further.
"So...you are saying building an alliance with Tenebrae would be the right course of action to now take?"
Noctis blinked and glanced back down to the papers before him. Tenebrae was on the short list of kingdoms, followed by information that he did not have time to read at that moment. Like Niflheim, Tenebrae was also a small kingdom, and one of the older ones that still existed. Beyond that, Noctis actually did not know much about it. The cold war having already been in place for many long years when he was born, there was little he knew about any of the other kingdoms due to the heightened tensions that still had yet to go away. At this time, making an alliance with Tenebrae seemed as good as any possible option, especially since there was no record of any marauders from that kingdom having tried to steal their Crystal.
Trying to get his derailed mind back on track, Noctis glanced around the Council Room. It was the look the King was giving him that helped to get what thoughts he had in order. All his upbringing had not been for nothing. "At this time, any new alliance would be better than none. As much as the other kingdoms disliked each other during the cold war, they all disliked and distrusted us for having the last Crystal. If we are going to make it through this time of change, then we must change with it. An alliance will help us make sure that we are not left out of the loop."
"Surely there must be better options than Tenebrae!" countered one of the other Councilmen. "That old kingdom does nothing but lie in wait in the darkness. There's no telling what an alliance with them would entail."
"If you can think of a better choice, then name it now," ordered the strong voice of King Duilius. "As Prince Noctis pointed out, all of the other kingdoms disliked us most during the cold war for holding the last Crystal. Marauders were sent from these kingdoms to steal it, or worse, destroy it. Unofficially, of course, but it was not hard to see past the weak veil of anonymity. Creon was actually the only one in our records that had sought the Crystal on his own, and not for one of the kingdoms. And yet, as far as we know, Tenebrae is the only kingdom that has not tried to harm our Crystal in any way. That, to me, is worth taking as a good sign."
"But if we make an alliance with them, Tenebrae could end up betraying us and taking the Crystal as their own," warned one of the Councilmen.
Folding his hands together, Duilius nodded solemnly. "That is a risk, yes. But that is a risk we'd have to take with any of the kingdoms. Tenebrae is a fairly small kingdom. I think it would be best to form an alliance with them now before they're swallowed up by one of the others. Together, we can form a more united front to play on even ground with the other kingdoms. These are uncertain times for us, for all of us. We will still proceed slowly and with caution, no matter how promising the outlook may be."
"So, it is decided then? We will seek to form an alliance with Tenebrae?"
Duilius reached forward and firmly closed his folder, and brought an end to the meeting as well. "Yes. I will reach out to initiate negotiations as soon as possible. Morior, I will be needing your assistance in this matter."
The younger brother nodded to the elder. "Of course, my lord. Shall I draft some rough letters to start?"
"That would do just fine." The King rose, everyone following suit. "As for the rest of you, that concludes this meeting. Thank you for your time." All their bowed their heads respectfully to the King. Standing tall, Duilius was first to leave the Council Room, the other men only filing out once the King had complete taken his leave. None turned back to take one last glance at the Prince; it was like he was no longer there.
Sighing, Noctis slumped back down in his chair. Every fiber in his being felt heavy. Deep-blue eyes glanced up towards the ceiling, attempting to study the room he had come to despise over the years. Nothing good every came to him thanks to this room. Though the design was simply black and white inside the Council Room, shades of gray were always present thanks to the conferences and meetings that were held inside. His gaze shifted to the female statues that stood high on the walls, forever watching, and often judging, Noctis believed, everything that took place below them.
How many secrets did they keep hidden behind their lifeless onyx eyes? Noctis stared at them, as though looking at them long enough would get them to reveal their ancient knowledge. Yet still they remained silent. Their unmoving forms still motionless and unwavering under his stern gaze.
"How many mistakes have we made?" he asked to the voiceless statues that could only listen and never respond, adding his secrets to all the countless others they held. "How many times have we chosen the wrong path to follow?" His expression grimmer than he would have liked, Noctis looked back down to his copy of the meeting's agenda that was still on the table. With a light huff, he roughly closed the folder, not caring to learn about what it had to say about the other kingdoms at the moment.
It was not just the recent history of Niflheim he referred to, nor even just back to the Crystal Age and all the horrid choices that had been made at the end of that era. With having gained some insight into their distant past, back when The Light was used against the creators of the Crystals, the fal'Cie, he could not help but wonder now how different life could be if things had gone differently.
Noctis pursed his lips together in wait while staring at the statues that refused to meet his eyes. Eventually, a soft scoff escaped him as he finally rose once again from his chair. Taking his leave of the Council Room, Noctis shot one last glance at the statues. "I would have said the same thing."
Movements sluggish, for he was still rather tired, the Prince made his way out of the halls. Unlike the Council Room, these halls were rather dark. No longer did they have the same sterile feel as the previous room that sent chills crawling up his spine. The halls were actually gloomy, as though they held no room for laughter or smiles from all of the history of Niflheim. But one shred of joy managed to sneak in when Noctis saw one of his friends walking towards him. Stacks of paper in hand, Ignis strode through the hall, blinking in surprise when his eyes fell upon the Prince.
"The meeting's over?" questioned his bespectacled friend.
Noctis huffed and rolled his eyes. "You mean that gathering of old farts so they can argue and only have the King there to reel them in?"
Ignis nodded halfheartedly. "Something like that."
"Only Morior really provides any useful council during this time, and even then that feels...minimal." Noctis let out a indignant sigh.
"Was the choice taken to make an alliance with Tenebrae?"
"In the end, that was—wait, how'd you know about that already?" Brow furrowing, the Prince stared questioningly at his friend. Matters that were decided upon during a meeting often took at least a little time to be completely worked out and sent as updates to the rest of those that worked for the royal family and Niflheim.
A light playful shrug was all Noctis got for a response at first. Ignis smirked knowingly at the Prince. "Unlike some people, I actually am up-to-date on matters concerning our home."
Embarrassed, Noctis could only glance away. It was true, he had been slacking off with his duties. Thoughts had been wandering off on their own, not lingering enough for Noctis to make heads or tales of them. As important as it was to have the best interests of his people and his home at heart, there was little room even for them now. It was troubling for him. Had Morior not brought Noctis out from his dazed state during the meeting, he wondered if even he would have known the outcome of matters that had been chosen. Attempting to laugh it off, Noctis returned the smirk to his friend.
"You are definitely becoming one of the Councilmen when I become King."
"Now who ever told you I even want that job?"
Noctis blinked. He had never really thought of such an outcome. The idea of Ignis not being by his side for help when he became King seemed impossible. His bespectacled friend had always been there for him whenever he required help, be it work-related or other. He had simply assumed Ignis would continue to be there, like he always had been.
Ignis was able to pick up on Noctis' mood that had shifted to a troubled state. "I'm kidding, Noct. But I'm afraid I do have work to do now."
"Oh, yeah. Of course. See you around?"
Ignis nodded firmly. "Take it easy. And actually try to brush up on what we know of Tenebrae before heading into negotiations with them."
A scoff escaped the Prince. "I highly doubt that the King will have me play any important role in the negotiations. I'll just be there to save face if anything, and to learn more for later."
"Don't be so certain just yet, Noct. These are times of change. As the one who will have to live with all choices made further down the road, it would be impervious that you are made a larger part of these negotiations. Just...be cautious and observant. And pay some attention for once, all right?" Ignis did not leave Noctis time to respond before continuing on his way down the hall, leaving the Prince on his own again.
With a heavy sigh, he returned to his own route out. As much as he disliked dealing with politics, Ignis was right. Making sure he was current with the changes being made was critical. He would be King some day. Fulfilling his duty now as Prince was just as important as fulfilling his role as King in the future.
"What has been troubling you of late, Prince Noctis?" Nearly jumping, Noctis spun around and readied himself to bring forth his sword, despite being in a safe haven. Even when he would be completely alone, Noctis found himself randomly summoning forth one of his weapons, just to make sure the Crystal's power still answered his call. It was a small gesture that gave him great amounts of reassurance. But his worry had been for naught at the moment, for the person who had called out to him was none other than his father, the current King of Niflheim.
"Troubling me, my lord?" Noctis responded automatically. Even now, he was still formal with his father. Matters between them had only been patched up minimally, and temporarily at that. In the end, Duilius was still a distant father figure at best for his son. He was just someone from which Noctis learned what his role in life would be.
"Councilman Morior wasn't the only one to notice you nearly dozing off during the meeting. And this hasn't been the first time, either. What's wrong, Noctis?"
The Prince held back a sigh as he cast his eyes to the floor. His father was deciding to show a glimpse of concern now of all times? Was it even actually concern for Noctis, or was Duilius merely worried for how Niflheim would be perceived by others if its Prince was nodding off during meetings and not taking duties seriously. Whatever the exact reason behind it, Duilius was still asking.
After glancing back up, Noctis explained about his troubling dreams to the King. How pleasant nights were ruined when the faces began to plague him. Their unfamiliar voices unsettled him, some almost sounding like he should know them, but could not place the names. It troubled him, more so than just being unable to get a good night's rest. There was no way these dreams could be normal.
Duilius eyed Noctis, analyzing all he had said. When the Prince fell silent, he felt like a little child again who was talking about ridiculous monsters that were hiding under the bed. No matter how old he became, whenever Noctis dealt with his father, told the King anything or tried to have a short conversation with the man, he always felt like a foolish kid again.
"How long have you had these dreams?" questioned the King.
Noctis pursed his lips together, trying to recall when the restless sleep had begun. The faces felt like they had always been there, lingering in the shadows, only now deciding to show themselves. "Several months now, actually," answered the Prince when he realized just how long it had been. It still seemed like it had begun only yesterday. Nights melded together when he had his sleepless dreams.
"Have they been getting worse?"
"No... They're different from each other in their own way, but I don't think they've really been getting any worse."
Lips thinned as Duilius nodded lightly. "Try to sleep when you can, then. And if it worsens, make sure to let me know."
Noctis could only purse his mouth together in slight annoyance. That had not exactly been the aid he had hoped to get. However, he supposed there was not much else his father could do. It was not some sleep disorder that could be remedied with medication; these dreams were different. The only way he could even begin to consider to rid his mind of them was to find the source of the problem and eradicate it. Without know what, or how to find the source, that would be very difficult to achieve.
"Of course. Is that all, my lord?"
Perhaps it was his dreary state, but Noctis swore he saw Duilius smirking slightly. "Make sure to bring yourself up to speed on what we know of Tenebrae. There will be much for you to do when negotiations begin."
It took a lot of willpower to keep himself from groaning. "Certainly." Noctis was not looking forward to all the extra political duties he would be given during these negotiations. But such was his life. It was high time he actually started paying a little more respect to his royal duties. Parting from his father, for he still did not enjoy lingering in the King's presence for longer than necessary, Noctis picked up his pace as he exited the building.
Evening light began to shine down upon Niflheim, throwing everything into a cascade of ethereal glows. Slowly, Noctis made his way down the flight of steps, craning his head back so he could enjoy the sight of his home. Ever since their Crystal shattered, and the journey to restore it came to an end, he appreciated the wondrous marvel that was Niflheim. They had been shown a glimpse at a bleak future—a future without their eternal guardian. A future that had been felt by all the other kingdoms, but not Niflheim. And it had been a frightening path to begin down.
It did show them a new light that they had to see: if not for entering more serious negotiations with other kingdoms, they would have crumbled all the sooner. Because of that series of events, they were now sent upon their current route for Niflheim's future. Even now, Noctis was uncertain whether it was the correct one or not, but risks had to be taken to help ensure their kingdom's fate.
"Yo, Noct!" called out a voice from a distance. Blinking, Noctis was drawn from his wandering thoughts of their city in the evening light. He glanced further down the steps and saw one of his other friends. The remaining distance between the two was erased as Prompto came rushing up. Wind was knocked out of Noctis when his blond friend clamped him wholeheartedly on his back. Rubbing the area, the Prince raised his free hand in greeting to Prompto. "You done for the day?"
Noctis cocked his head and sighed. "Technically. But there's something I want to take a look at before heading to the Record Hall and finding out what I can on Tenebrae."
Prompto blinked. His smile faltering, the blond backed up a cautious step."Who are you and what have you done with Noctis?" The dark-haired Prince stared back at his friend who had a rare serious expression plastered across his face. "Noct would never willingly do his work as a Prince."
A louder snort than he had intended to make escaped Noctis. "I know, I know. I must be sick." Scoffing lightly, Noctis glanced back up to the skyline of Niflheim. In his life as Prince, he had rarely ventured outside of his city, the most he ever saw actually being from their journey to restore the Crystal the previous year. He had never been to Tenebrae. Part of him wondered what it looked like—just how different was it from their home? That alone was worth looking into and being a part of the future negotiations. With a sigh, he looked back to his friend. "Anyway, what're you doing here?"
"Just came to visit Ignis for a bit—didn't know when you'd be done or I'd've waited for you too. But now I gotta wait for Gladiolus! He should be here in just a sec. Where were you headed now, anyway? Need a ride?"
"Well..." Before Noctis was given a chance to finish, a car pulled up to a stop at the side of the road. Even he recognized the vehicle.
"Aha! What timing! C'mon, Noct!" Before he was given a chance to decline or say anything else, Noctis was dragged along by his hand towards the dark car. Prompto was swift in opening the back door, shoving Noctis inside, and then moving to the front passenger seat. Had he not known it was his friends, the Prince would have believed he was being kidnapped. Having already gone through that ordeal once, he did not much care to experience it again.
"Noct, you coming along too?" questioned Gladiolus from the driver's seat.
"Nah, he's got his own plans," answered Prompto when Noctis proved to be too slow. He barely had time to buckle up his seat belt before his scarred friend pulled the car back into drive.
"Oh? Where're you headed then?"
Noctis was silent for a moment, casting his gaze down before staring out the window to the buildings that began to zip by. He could lie. He could tell them a different location and then continue on to his true destination on his own. With his teleportation ability fully back as well, doing so would certainly be easy enough of a task. But then he would have to worry about thinking of a reason why he wanted to visit the false location, and possibly keep up the lie for later. In the end, it felt like too much, and too akin to his work in politics, for him to be bothered with it. "To the Temple."
"The Temple?" There was a frown in Gladiolus' voice, one that Noctis did not care to see. He continued to stare out the window. "You know that won't—"
"I know!" Snapped Noctis, a fair bit harsher than he had intended. He sighed. "I know..." His hand grazed the necklace that was still hidden under his shirt. That small gem was were her memories truly lay. Even so, he still visited the Temple, waiting to hear any sort of response from her again. And, at the very least, to keep her lonesome life inside the Temple some company.
"How often do you visit there?"
Noctis scrunched his nose slightly, annoyed that they would worry over such a small detail. "No more than usual, really." As a Protector, as a l'Cie, it still was part of his duty to keep the Crystal safe. Seeking to change topics quickly, Noctis eyed his friends in the front seats. "What was it you two had planned?"
There was silence. Noctis arched his eyebrow in wait for a response.
"You didn't tell him yet?" questioned Gladiolus.
Prompto sighed. "Well, I was kinda hoping it would be a surprise!"
Concern grew for the Prince. Having surprises from his friends did not necessarily mean a good thing. "Surprise me with what?" he asked warily, feeling himself inch back into his seat more. Hopefully putting his abilities to the test again would not be needed.
Grinning from ear to ear, Prompto turned around as much as he could in his seat. "I'm gonna try out for the City Guard! Gladiolus was gonna do what he could to help me today."
Noctis could only blink. His blond friend was certainly excited, and seemed enthusiastic about his new plans, there was just one question that weaved its way to the front of Nictis' mind: "Why?"
After huffing lightly, Prompto turned right way around in his seat again. He crossed his arms. "With Ignis working for the royal family, and Gladiolus bound to get promoted to a Royal Guard some day soon, I feel...well...basically left out."
A sad smile touched Noctis' lips in agreement. The older they got, the harder it was so see each other so often. Granted, they would all still hang out together when their schedules allowed it, but that was becoming a rare event itself due to Noctis' busy hours these days. Ignis, he would catch for a few moments in the halls most days. Gladiolus, he would often get a chance to talk to when their duties lined up. Prompto... His oldest friend was now the one he got to spend the least amount of time with. Joining the City Guard would change that, however...
"Please don't make this decision on that point alone," warned Noctis. As much as he would enjoy seeing Prompto more, assuming the blond would make it past training and be allowed in the ranks, joining the City Guard was not a decision to be made so carelessly.
From the front, Prompto waved his hand to dismiss Noctis' concern. "Naaaah. I've been thinking about this for a while now, not too long after the Crystal shattered last year, actually. I just want to help more, y'know?"
A loud scoff came from Gladiolus. "And what help could a scrawny guy like you bring?" he mocked.
"Hey! I'm a pretty damn good sharp-shooter and you know it!"
Laughing loudly, Gladiolus claimed his victory in succeeding to irritate Prompto. From the back, Noctis grinned in amusement. Being with his friends always took away the pressure of his royal life. Silence fell over them, soon being replaced by the radio being turned on. Noctis did not bother listening to it much. The broadcast was just more news on how the cold war was over, and that the people wondered where Niflheim was headed now. Even as Prince, Noctis did not know the answer to that speculation just yet. He would soon, though.
The drive ended sooner than it should have. Calling out to Gladiolus, Noctis got his friend to stop a fair distance away from the Temple. It was here he departed from his friends. Only once the car took off and was completely gone from sight did Noctis set his gaze back to the Temple. Closing his eyes, he summoned forth the power of the Crystal that flowed through him and whisked himself through the air. Ground slipped out from beneath his feet, his teleportation ability moving his body almost instantaneously from one place to another. A flash of light and small fragments that looked like pale crystals danced before his eyes as he landed softly on the inside of the Temple. Noctis peered out the window, making sure no one had noticed his silent approach before setting his sights on what hung at the center of the room:
The Crystal of Niflheim.
Save for special ceremonies, the room which house the Crystal itself remained empty of life. Not even guards were allowed in unless their was an emergency. Noctis exploited this security detail, that had been in place long before he was even born, to allow for moments of peace and quiet when he came here. It had been an old habit of his, to come here when a moment to himself was needed. Though he knew before the Crystal would not answer, it comforted him to talk about such concerning matters that he could not bring up with his family, or even his friends. It quietly listened when others could not.
Slowly walking forward, Noctis neared the Crystal that glowed vigorously with life. Such emanating light was always a good sign. He stared at it in silent greeting, waiting to see if today would be the day when he finally heard her voice again. But, just like for all the previous years that had gone by, the Crystal did not call out to him with comprehensible words. With a sigh, he sat down in the spot he had unknowingly claimed for himself. Propping his chin on the back of his hand, he watched the Crystal go on about its routine of helping to power all of Niflheim.
Eventually, he asked, "What would you say about all of this?" The path they were taking now for the future of Niflheim concerned the Crystal as well. Frowning thoughtfully, he gave a longer than usual pause, waiting for any answer or response. Even now, nothing. Nothing changed. Eventually, he was satisfied that no answer would be given. Noctis gave a wry chuckle, casting his gaze down. "Probably not much."
A/N: There you have it. A slower start compared to how LC went. My attempt at politics will be playing a larger role in the start of the story, but "adventure" will come down the road. And for readers of LC, yes, Niveus will be in this story more so than just being mentioned, so don't fret! If you were fretting. And yes, with Tenebrae mentioned, we all should know who will also be appearing in this story. And while still focused much on Noctis at the moment, his friends and other characters will be getting much more "screen time" in this.
A cookie to anyone who is able to figure out just who "he" was at the start of the chapter. Yes, he is in the FNC lore, and that is all I will say on that for now.
Please be (extremely) patient with updates for now! That being said, I do hope you enjoyed the start of Aeternus Somnus!