At the end of it all, after Ardyn had been defeated, Noctis lost his resolve to complete his sacred duty. He couldn't bring himself to take the final step that would save all of Eos from the darkness that plagued it.
The Chosen did not want to die. What he wanted to do was live. Even in this broken world, he wanted to exist. He wished to stay with his friends for however long they had remaining. He was terrified of what would come next if he went through with his sacrifice.
Backing away from the Throne and Crystal, dropping the Ring of the Lucii to the floor, the King of Lucis turned around and fled.
Noctis was no hero, he realized the moment he turned his back on the Crystal. He was nothing but a coward. His father died for him, believing his son would rise up to one day become the King their people needed. And not only their own people, but for everyone across Eos. He was to have been their savior.
Luna, who had spent her entire life in the service to the people and the Gods also believed Noctis would be able to fulfill the duty he was tasked with. Even though the Oracle had known her own duty would lead to her death, even despite not wanting to die, she had continued forward with resolve. She had been willing to sacrifice herself for the well-being of others, even if the majority were merely strangers to her.
Luna too, must have had hopes and dreams and people she wished to stay with but she'd still been willing to leave her own desires and life behind.
So many in Noctis's life fought for him and the future only he had the ability to bring. They gladly offered up their own lives for him. All three of his closest friends would give their lives for him no doubt. The King believed had any of his three companions been in this situation, any one of them would have gone through with it despite the cost... But even if they could do that, Noctis found he could not do the same. He was afraid.
Noctis was no King of his people like his father was. Perhaps his father was looking down on his cowardly son in disappointment, as were the Old Kings and Gods alike. Maybe Luna and Ravus too. Had the elder Fleuret sibling realized he was right all along? That Noctis truly was unworthy?
On the King's way out of the Citadel, he glimpsed his friends. They stood victorious over the Red Giants that emerged from the ground after Ardyn's demise. Noctis found himself relieved as he had worried for their safety. He took several steps towards them but then hesitated when his mind caught up to his actions.
… What would they think of him? His cowardice? The man wondered to himself. Gladio, Prompto and Ignis fought with him and for him so that Noctis may fulfill his Calling. It was true that they did not wish Noctis to perish but he was the only person that could save everyone from the endless night. No other could fulfill this task. If he backed out, how would they even be able to stand the sight of him?
Instead of moving forward, Noctis took a step back. And then another.
Every step back, another thought crossed the Chosen's mind in what he was doing. Noctis would be dooming humanity to darkness. He'd glimpsed their struggles, their pain and their misery from the embrace of the Crystal. There had been so many deaths. So much despair. He'd seen how much they suffered at the hands of the Starscourge and Daemons. He knew they desperately hoped for a better future, one he alone had the ability to bring about.
If Noctis denied his Calling, what remained of the humans would be preyed upon by the Daemons until the day they all perished. Every death at the hands of the darkness would hang over Noctis's head from now on as only he could save them. One life was not much when weighed against all others, both human and not. The entirety of Eos was at stake. It was not fair he'd been Chosen for this but that's how it was. Reality wasn't something that cared for such human concepts of fairness.
However, Noctis just… Didn't want to die. Even if it would leave the world in a better state, even if one life was not much of a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things; he still wished to live. Even if he had just a handful of years remaining, he wanted to live those remaining years, however painful they might be.
Noctis wished with all his heart that someone else had been Chosen. Why was it up to Noctis to sacrifice himself for humanity? He didn't want this! He never wanted to be royalty in the first place! He felt anger rise within him, at the unfairness of the situation. He found himself furious at his father, Luna, the Gods, even his friends.
Why couldn't this duty fall to someone else? Why couldn't the Astrals have chosen anyone else? Why didn't his friends try to talk him out of it at least? Noctis had been hoping since learning the truth from Bahamut that something might save him, allow him to drive back the Darkness without offering up his life in exchange. But it seemed that was not to be. There was only one option and Noctis was now too afraid to take it.
The Chosen did realize in his refusal that every death that had occurred thus far would be in vain. His father, Luna, Clarus, Ravus. All of the people he knew and the many he did not. Their deaths meant nothing if Noctis did not fulfill his Calling, did not offer his own life as the many before did for him.
Regis had not wanted to die. Clarus had not wanted to die. Luna had not wanted to die. But for the lives of others, they would sacrifice themselves.
Noctis was not like them.
Realizing he did not have the courage to face his friends, the three who had sacrificed their well-being for him, had waited for him, had believed in him, the Chosen warped away from the Citadel.
Noctis spent months wandering Insomnia, avoiding both his friends and the Gods. He found he did not hunger or thirst. It may have been a side effect from absorbing the power of Providence that this was so. The man could even sense when an Astral was nearby or attempting to near. Using his overwhelming power, the man could even keep the Astrals at bay.
The unwilling Chosen had been able to avoid every confrontation thus far. The only creatures he faced were Daemons and he could easily defeat them with the power he now carried within his body. He made sure to destroy every one he came across yet their numbers never seemed to lessen. The Daemons even seemed far more vicious as of late.
There was one confrontation the King was dreading as much as he desired it. Every time he made the decision to finally see his friends, he changed his mind at the last moment. It grew more difficult to think of facing his companions the more time he spent avoiding them. Noctis knew this had to end though. He would have to face the consequences of his decisions.
And the Chosen wished so badly to see his three closest friends despite his own fears of rejection. He was tired of the months he'd spent hiding in the ruins of his former hope. Noctis was tired of feeling like he was worthless, of crying all the time. He was tired of feeling alone. The man just wanted his friends. He hoped with all his heart that they still loved him.
Gladio, Ignis and Prompto had not come to Insomnia in quite some time. They usually came what felt like twice a week to search for Noctis, possibly returning to Lestallum when they could not find him. Their King could see them but he never allowed his friends to catch a glimpse of him. Noctis, in turn, had not left the ruins of his home. Perhaps they now believed their King must have gone somewhere elsewhere? Noctis was unsure for what reason his friends had given up but he now knew it was up to him if he truly wanted to see them once more.
Noctis found that he missed his friends more and more as the days passed, especially since it was by his own hand he did not see them. He could easily go to them if he wished but his own fears prevented him from taking the first step in a reconciliation.
And so Noctis continued his life in Insomnia, wishing he had the strength and courage to face the people he loved most in the world. Here he was, supposedly the strongest being on Eos yet he still could not manage such a simple thing despite all his power.
The Chosen was startled one day, as he rested inside one of the many ruined buildings of Insomnia, when he felt an incredible pain surge through him. It had been abrupt, coming out of nowhere. Noctis screamed out in agony as the pain immediately encompassed his entire being.
For Noctis, it felt as if his insides were being pulled out of him. The magic he gained in Reflection was being ripped out of him. The King could feel the ten years of accumulated power leaving his body.
The pain lasted for what felt like ages. Noctis thrashed and writhed until he fell off of the bed he'd been dozing on. He screamed all alone in his hideout until his voice gave out.
Finally, mercifully, he passed out.
The King awoke an unknown amount of time later. The first thing he felt was the pain, his body ached worse than any other time he could remember. He groaned as he opened his eyes, immediately shutting them when the light was too much.
Noctis froze when he realized what he just saw. Slowly, reverently, the man opened his eyes again. His sight was blurry and caused a pain to shoot through his head. But the man did not care for something amazing had occurred.
… There was light. Outside the broken window, the sun was shining.
Noctis could only stare in wonder. He could not comprehend it at first.
How was this possible? The man thought to himself. Did that mean he did not have to die? Was defeating Ardyn so many months ago enough? Had the Gods or humanity found an alternative?
Joy bubbled up within Noctis and he laughed aloud. His voice was still hoarse and it hurt to make a sound but the man didn't mind. He could see his friends.
They might be angry but they would see that Noctis never needed to die for this. There had been another option. One where he didn't need to die. The Gods must have lied, or at least omitted some details. The sun was out and Noctis was not dead.
The King hoped his friends would forgive him for avoiding them as he scrambled to his feet. It hurt to move so quickly but he forced himself to hurry despite the pain. Gladio, Ignis and Prompto were waiting somewhere.
The King would find some way to make it up to them somehow. He dashed outside his place of refuge and into the warm sunshine.
Just a quick warning, this story is not going to be a happy one. Should only be 2 chapters long.
Thanks for reading!