Eldrant means "The Glorious World" according to its intro screen. The el is probably the same el from Vandesdelca, the one who would seize Glory, and presumably the drant is the same as in Auldrant, meaning it also means "The Something World." "The Singing World" is my own invention, from one meaning of Lorelei's name, "The Murmuring Rock."
I really haven't been up to doing much writing recently, but at least I got some kind of an ending written for this before the slump hit.
"You can't save him."
It took Luke a few seconds to realize that he was hearing those words with his physical body, the way he had heard Asch's demands that he say something and Anise's relief that Ion was back.
"It's him or you." So simple, so terribly simple. "I couldn't destroy mine without destroying my creation, destroying everything." The Key hovered behind its maker, the hilt almost like a crown, the aura of Lorelei's power like a halo. "But you can destroy mine without dying. Even now, the fon machines are purifying the miasma." In the process of killing Lorelei. Fon machines, replica machines that were themselves replicas. Parts of Eldrant, parts of Luke.
"Lorelei." Ion greeted him with a smile. His brothers had been thrown into the volcano. How could he not understand the anger of the abandoned, once he felt it? He'd been perfectly happy to lend them his knowledge, let them manifest with the assistance of a fon master, when that would help Luke.
Ion smiled and raised his staff, feeling power greater than any true fon master had ever possessed, and was genuinely happy to let it use him, like he'd let Mohs use him, and Van, and Jade in turn, for this was his wish as well.
The original world was a terrible place. Surely Luke's world would be much better.
"I know. I know how this will end, after all." He'd been living it for two thousand years, in the now the Score bound him to.
"If we can purify the miasma, then we can save you, save everyone!" Like Akzeriuth, Luke realized, and knew there was no way it would be that easy even as he pleaded. Luke had thought that he was there to purify the miasma, to save all those poor, sick people and their homes. So that all of them could have a happy ending.
Lorelei shook his head. "It is too late for that. I just… I must…" He didn't grimace, but he held his hand to his side. "One last thing." He sounded so tired. One last thing, and then he could rest.
Natalia gasped, the first to see it. Hidden by the drape of the robe, much of Lorelei's torso was missing. His right arm was still there, but hung uselessly.
"My body is being destroyed, after all," he said when he realized what she was looking at. "Hod was destroyed years ago, and Nezach a few months ago." He waved in the direction of the ground.
Maybe Legretta hadn't dressed Lorelei like a girl to embarrass him, Luke realized. The long robes that fell to the ground even when Lorelei hovered like this hid that his feet were gone. It made sense, didn't it? Lorelei was the avatar of Auldrant, "But that's Asch's body!"
Lorelei smiled wryly. "I was safe from this and the poison while I was in your body because it was your body." A new, pure world. Their hope. "This body is a part of Auldrant, after all." One more being condemned by the Score. "The sephiroth were anchored to the key points of the planet, of my body." The two gates of the Albertesque Seal to his feet. "I don't have a leg to stand on," he said, and laughed, just a single laugh before it became a cough. "Desi would have… liked that." So many lost, and even if he'd tried to have them reborn in places that would cause them to become part of the new world, they weren't the same people anymore. Not at all. "But there is… no more time." He turned to Ion. "Leave that body."
"No, they won't," Ion said calmly. "You'll have to destroy me with him."
"But… why?" It wasn't necessary at all, Ion was a replica.
"Because if you kill me, then your last act will be hurting Luke." Ion smiled when Luke protested, glad he wanted Ion to live, but that was just it. That was why he'd do anything for him, and that was why he didn't especially want to live anymore. He'd killed so many people for Luke, and killing, especially for his sake, would make Luke unhappy. Ion didn't want to have to see him feel guilty for what Ion had done, and he owed the Qliphoth for helping him. If Luke lived and was happy, that was enough.
"My last act… will already hurt him," Lorelei said, but bowed his head, knowing that it was useless to try to argue, not when he could barely think and the miasma wouldn't give him anything he wanted, even if he wanted it not for himself but his last child. Lorelei's eyes narrowed, suddenly green, glinting out of the gold that had covered them. "So be it," he said, and his power swept forward, grabbing Ion as he dived.
Ion, and Asch.
Some instinct made Luke curl in on himself, wings wrapping around him, because this was going to hurt…
He woke up on an examination table in the infirmary of Guy's family's castle, or at least its replica.
"Luke?" Guy asked, helping him sit up. "How do you feel?"
"How am I supposed to feel?" Luke wondered, blinking to clear his head. "I just felt myself die. Twice." Asch had been him once, and Lorelei… "He destroyed them both with hyperresonance." All three, well, four of them. Ion.
Ion had died twice now, and how was he supposed to bring someone back if they were destroyed with hyperresonance?
His hands were shaking. Worse than after that soldier, worse than after Akzeriuth. All dead, or almost all dead, and all for him. He'd tried to save everybody like a fool, like Akzeriuth, and he'd fought when he could have changed people, he could have saved Peony for Jade.
Jade was there, Luke could feel him even if he couldn't see him. Feel the lab coat he was wearing and the blood on it. He'd had to kill her, again, and it hadn't been an accident this time. Well, last time it wasn't an accident either, but even if she'd meant to die Jade hadn't meant to kill her. This time, she'd tried to kill him. She hadn't had any use for him anymore, if he was going to try to stop Van, stop Eldrant, stop humanity's only hope of survival.
It felt like shards of broken glass, stuck into Jade's body and healed over, even if he didn't show anything on the outside. Luke knew that feeling well.
What would happen when Master Van woke up? He would still want to die, Luke knew.
"I couldn't save anyone," Luke said, and felt someone's arms wrap around him. Tear's.
"Luke… You saved us, didn't you?" Tear reminded him, and he could feel that she was trying so hard.
Almost all of Auldrant was gone now, only a few of the souls in the farthest reaches of the fon belt were left. He wondered if he could try to save them, but somehow it all seemed so pointless. Saving a few people couldn't make up for failing to save Auldrant, just like no matter how many people he saved it wouldn't wash away the blood on his hands, the poor people of Akzeriuth.
"I'm sorry I was so useless, I…" He'd had all that power but he hadn't understood anything, he'd just gotten swept up in things and… no, he hadn't even played into Van's hands, he hadn't even done that right. Lorelei had told him to save people, and he hadn't listened. "I'm sorry…"
"Luke…" Guy started to say, started to reach out, but he couldn't touch Luke, not when Tear was there.
"It's ok," Tear said, feeling a tightness in her chest. "I didn't do any better." So she couldn't criticize him. "We all, we all failed. We all failed you. I knew that you didn't know anything about the outside world, I knew that you loved my brother so much, and I… Ion asked me to look after you." So she would, she'd promised.
"Why couldn't he tell me?" Luke wondered, and Jade winced before Luke corrected himself. "Lorelei. If he'd… Oh. The Score. And the miasma. He couldn't tell me, and I couldn't figure it out. I could have destroyed the miasma, I could have all along. I could have saved Akzeriuth… I can save Akzeriuth," Luke realized, and, for the first time in a long time, felt Hope.
And it was Glorious.
"I can save Akzeriuth. Lorelei couldn't it would have ruined everything. With the Albertesque Seal in place Eldrant couldn't have risen, he would have been too powerful and the Score would have been too powerful. I wouldn't have been able to fight him at all. He had to almost kill himself to give me a chance, and that let the miasma…" Eat him alive from the inside, more and more the more Eldrant, replicas, Luke grew. Creating Eldrant, giving it life, had exhausted a dying world. Torn Lorelei's body apart.
"All children come into the world screaming and covered in blood," Luke said, and wondered where that had come from. Or who. "But I'm not a child anymore." He could feel Jade about to comment. "Not totally. I need to think it through first." As much as he wanted to just dive back and do it now. "But I exist, here and now. My Score has been fulfilled, Eldrant exists. I'm as strong as, no, I'm stronger than Lorelei now. I can purify the miasma, and if I can keep him sealed until it's past his Score of death, the Score will be over. It only covers until he dies, so if he doesn't die?" Except he'd already died. "The Score's already been fulfilled," Luke realized. "I won't have to fight the Score. It's already been fulfilled." Auldrant had drowned in the miasma, been eaten alive. "I, I think I can do this. I can make up for Akzeriuth."
How did you make up for ten thousand deaths? By preventing them from happening.
He could stop Master Van. He'd have to prevent the war, too, and deal with Master Van somehow, and he wanted to bring his friends back the way they were now, so they'd remember everything, and see if he could save Asch and Ion along the way, and Lorelei so the Lorelei back then would be the one that had died and wasn't bound anymore…
It was a good thing he had Jade.
"I think I can do this," he said again, grinning. Springing to his feet and lifting Tear in the air and swinging her around and around, laughing like the child he was.
He could do this, he could do anything.
Oh, maybe he could even go back and prevent Hod? Save Natalia's mother so Largo wouldn't be so angry, save…
The sky was the limit.
You could say this is like All For the Want in that there's time travel to get another ending…
Lorelei's problem in that other fic is that the instant he goes back, he's bound by the Score again and doesn't even get to remember what happened. Not to mention there's the miasma.
Without Luke, it's Game Over. In the All For the Want universes, Luke gets taken out of the equation one way or another (death, never being born, controlled, following Master Van), and without him there is literally no hope. He's the Scion of Lorelei, the one piece of Lorelei's power free of the Score.
And they were trying to drive him to suicide, literally in the case of Kimalasca's government when he and Natalia are captured…
So, in this scenario, we end up with something like the Luke of Tales of Payback, except not severely misanthropic. ToP Luke is wondering why he's saving these people, this Luke is going, "Oooh, oooh, I can save them, and them…" Well, Jade will make him be somewhat realistic.
This is one of those 'I'm stopping it here since I bet you can figure out how it goes from this point,' fics. The only real problem would be if Van can be saved or not, and I've written enough of people thinking depressing things into this fic. Worst case scenario, he reincarnates and gets a second childhood with a couple literal godfathers looking after him, ok?