"What is 'Providence'?" Noctis asked, looking up at the towering figure of Bahamut from the palm of the giant's hand, where he was suspended midair.
"It is the sole means to ending the immortal Accursed," Bahamut began, gravelly voice loud in the seemingly endless sea of the heart of the crystal. "A power greater than that of even the Six, purifying all by the light of the Crystal and the glaives of rulers past. Only at the throne can the chosen receive it, and only at the cost of a life: his own."
A cold hand clutched Noctis's heart as he dropped his gaze to hide the fear in his eyes. He had suspected this to be true for some time, but having Bahamut tell him so matter-of-factly drove it home. For a moment, the immense injustice of it all threatened to overwhelm him, and he only managed to catch the phrases "blood price" and "cost the life of the Chosen" in Bahamut's next words, which furthered his anger and fear.
"Many have sacrificed all for the King, so the King must sacrifice himself for all."
Those words brought Noctis back to himself, and he looked back up, grasping for resolve and holding to it tight. He was afraid of death, but he thought of his father and Luna and his friends, particularly Ignis, who had sacrificed his vision for Noctis, and all of the people they'd met on their journey. All of them were trapped in eternal night, figurative and literal, and he could save them.
It was his responsibility, his duty. He owed it to everyone to defeat the Accursed and restore light to the world.
Bahamut was speaking. "Now enter into Reflection, that the Light of Providence shine within."
With that, and rather unceremoniously, Noctis would say, Bahamut moved his hand, leaving Noctis to gently freefall into the weightlessness of the space surrounding them.
In the next instant, the god had disappeared, and Noctis was on his own. Curling in on himself, he began to think, remembering his childhood, his father, and, most recently, the road trip to Altissia. In his mind, he could still remember the first picture they took on the trip, when they'd been unaware of just how wrong this journey would end up. When Ignis still had his vision. When Luna had been waiting, unharmed, in Altissia, where they were to be married. When his father was still -
The sudden lack of movement caught Noctis's attention and drew his thoughts away in a much needed distraction.
"Um…" Glancing around, Noctis found that the very crystal itself seemed to have halted completely. "What's going-"
Abruptly, his surroundings distorted, soon replaced with pitch blackness. The anti-gravity of the crystal also vanished, and within a second, he was sent careening through the void.
"Ooooooon!?" Noctis screamed, feeling intense heat a few seconds of falling later as a bright blue sky opened around him. With a grunt, he landed on the relatively pillowy surface of a sand dune, unharmed. "What the…?"
Pushing himself back to his feet, he took in the landscape surrounding him; it was completely different from that of the crystal. Bright tan, almost orange, sand stretched in every direction, and the sun, high up in the sky, beat down mercilessly, causing heat waves to radiate from the ground. A gust of dry wind swept through the area, picking up grains of sand and flinging it into his eyes.
His clothing was also disturbed by the wind, and the unfamiliar cloth brought up into his vision alerted him to a change in outfit. Looking down, he found a blend of yellowish-orange, red, and white fabric wrapped around his body, worn sandals strapped to his feet, and two swords sheathed at his side. He could also feel the weight of a shield and two bows on his back.
A stronger gust of wind picked up more sand, and as he brought his hand up to cover his face, a thought occurred to him. Reaching back, he found a hood and pulled it over his head.
Realization hit him as he remembered seeing an outfit such as this one before. It had been in Lestallum, at the Assassin's Creed festival. Which could only mean one thing: he was now Bayek of Siwa, a Medjay on a quest for vengeance, in a desert somewhere in Ancient Egypt.
He was pretty sure this wasn't what Bahamut had meant by Reflection.
"Well, now that I know where I am…" Noctis muttered to himself as he looked around for landmarks. "Aha!"
In the distance, he could see a faint outline of some kind of building. Unfortunately, it was in the opposite direction the wind was blowing, so he had to walk with his head facing the ground and arms held up against the stinging sand.
"If I'm Bayek, then I should be able to…" Forming his mouth into an 'o' shape, he let out a piercing whistle, which he'd never actually been able to manage before.
A few moments later, he heard soft hoofbeats in the sand behind him.
Turning, he found a chestnut mare with big, gentle, intelligent eyes looking back at him; a soft smile broke out on his face as he walked over to stroke the horse's nose, finding its hair silky and cool to the touch.
"Hey, boy." He paused, trying to remember its name. "Are you… Kaa?"
The horse nickered, tossed its mane, and butted his shoulder softly. Smiling at its antics, Noctis gave the horse one final pet, and then he walked over to its side and pulled himself up onto the saddle.
Gently, as he'd learned to do with chocobos, he nudged the horse's stomach with both his heels, spurring it to a forward trot towards the building in the distance.
When he reached the building, Noctis was able to identify it as the ruins that were in the… Desheret Desert? He couldn't really remember the name of the ruins either, but he knew that meant he was in the southern region of the map, relatively far from civilization. Idly, he realized Bayek must have just completed the Trial of Sekhmet, which meant that the game had likely already been cleared. More importantly, he scolded himself, now that he knew where he was, he needed to figure out where to go from here.
Not to mention that wherever he went, it was a far cry from where he was supposed to be - in his own world, accumulating the power to kill Ardyn and restore the dawn.
At any rate, he knew he couldn't stay here in the middle of a desert - if the heat didn't kill him, the wildlife probably would. Remounting Kaa, he headed off in the direction he believed to be towards Memphis.
Bayek awoke inside the crystal. Having just fought a goddess after investigating a strange light, he wasn't sure what to expect and tried to be ready for anything.
He was not prepared for being told he was "Chosen" and had to die to bring light back to a foreign world.
Bahamut appeared before him, holding Bayek up in his hand just as he had Noctis.
"You are not the Chosen King," Bahamut observed, a hint of confusion entering his voice.
"And you… are not Sekhmet. Or Ra," Bayek added as a possibility.
Though his face remained unchanged, Bahamut was clearly puzzled as he held Bayek's gaze. "I know not why you are here, but you are… powerful for a mortal. Unless the Chosen King can find his way back to this world, you must go forth in his place."
"To do what?" In his own land, Bayek was used to helping anyone he could - as a Medjay, it was his duty to serve his people.
"Defeat the Accursed, and sacrifice your own life to bring light back to our Star."
It was spoken as if it were an easy task, and for a second, Bayek was certain the god - he assumed - was joking. But he soon realized that this unknown giant was not, in fact, kidding Bayek.
Sensing Bayek's reluctance, Bahamut continued, "This is no easy task, I understand. Therefore, go from this crystal and see how the people of this night-cloaked world suffer. May their plight convince you to lend your help."
A blinding white light filled his vision, and as it faded, he found himself standing on a dilapidated dock. The sky was dark, and the air was muggy. In front of him, he could make out a circular building with a wooden roof. Like the dock and surrounding coast, it was devoid of people.
"There is an ominous aura in this world. Where are all the people?" Bayek wondered, walking forward carefully.
Holes opened on the ground, skinny purple arms emerging as monstrous creatures pulled themselves up. Sensing the danger, Bayek immediately reached for his sword, only to find that it was no longer there; however, as he mimed grabbing a hilt, one materialized in his hand.
"That is… very useful."
The demons were easy to defeat with Bayek's combat level, especially given Noctis's weapons - he was able to access the Armiger, though he was unaware that was what it was called.
There came a point where Bayek felt the Ring of the Lucii, instinctively holding his hand out at an enemy and activating the power of Death on the Ring.
In an instant, all Bayek knew was agony as he sensed the Ring feeding on his soul, consuming his life energy as fire spread through his veins. He tried to pull his hand down, to stop the Ring, but to no avail. Only when the demon was fully sent to the void with a final stab of white hot pain was he able to collapse to his knees, completely drained yet supplemented with dark energy from the monster.
"This ring is evil, sinister - I have never known such darkness," Bayek gasped, trying to remove the ring from his finger, yet he found himself unable to. "What sorcery is this? It is stuck on my hand."
With no other course of action, he decided to let the ring be for now, fighting his way through the building before reaching a curved road. Cutting through the grassy sections between the road, he made it to the top of the hill, encountering only a few more demons on the way. Standing on the main road, he saw a pair of lights headed towards him at a high speed.
Reflexively, Bayek assumed a defensive stance, summoning a sword to fight what he assumed to be another creature like those he'd seen so far.
But when it slowed down beside him and he saw a young man inside, he realized it must be some kind of carriage - a means of transportation.
"Your Majesty!" The man cried before his elation morphed into confusion. "Wait, who are you?"
"It is… hard to explain. I am not your King, and I unfortunately do not know where your King is. However, a being with many swords asked that I bring the light back after I learn more about this world." The best he could do was tell the truth, Bayek decided.
"Bahamut? If that's the case, the others will want to know." He was muttering mostly to himself. "Will you… come with me?"
Glancing around, Bayek looked back with a smile. "Sure. Where else can I go?"
"Fair point," the man chuckled, opening the door for Bayek. "I'm Talcott, by the way. Talcott Hester."
Taking the outstretched hand and shaking it firmly, he greeted, "Bayek of Siwa."
A/N: Thanks for reading! I'm not entirely sure where this is going, but hopefully it'll work out. I had this idea when I was thinking about how Ardyn appeared in Assassin's Creed Origins, so I figured I'd start writing and see where I end up. I do not own Final Fantasy XV or Assassin's Creed Origins or any of their characters. Thanks again, and you'll hopefully hear from me again soon!