Disclaimer: I do not own everything that is not mine. The characters, setting, everything. If it's not mine, it ain't mine. But the story of this fiction is.
Author's Note: Yeah, I know, short chapter. But this story is meant to be short. If it helps, I was listening to "My Hands" while writing this chapter. It helped me build the mood. Hehe!
Over the ill-lit abyss that rest upon the foot of the towering but lifeless Fal'cie monument, sunlight was quickly peeking through a thin crystal layer after it was hit by heavy thuds of a demolition machine.
"Extra careful with that one! Geez…" A large bulky man with an orange hair hidden beneath his helmet yelled at the other one controlling the machine. And in response to his warning, the machine became evidently gentler at cracking the crystal layer open.
"Gadot! I think it's open now!" The young man called out to the one with fiery hair before jumping out of the machine.
Gadot knelt beside the cracked and smiled knowingly. "Yup, it's finally open alright. Good job Maquiboy." He patted the head of the younger one.
"Wow…" Maqui's eyes widened in astonishment as he peered through the hole. "No wonder boss was so eager to get this one out."
"Hmm…" Gadot narrowed his eyes curiously. "Call Yuj. Tell him the eviction team is needed here."
She was asleep.
And she had been sleeping for the longest time.
But it felt so different to her this time. The position she was in was different, and the feeling of comfort was somewhat… lacking.
Also, she was conscious. She could actually feel something. She was alive.
Slowly, careful that she might not like what she would see for the first time in her dreamlike stance, she opened her eyes. She peeked in between her lids and found light. She has also made out blurry figures that move associated with sounds. Sounds that were suddenly new to her. Slightly she moved her hand against the surface where she was laying, and she felt the brushing sensation against her palm, against her fingertips. She felt like a newborn introduced to the world for the first time.
Finally, she opened her eyes, more widely this time. She blinked a few times until her vision was clear. She scanned the place and saw many beds aligned inside an elongated room. Several people were moving around and about, and many more were sitting or lying on their beds. The ones who moved were tending to them, accommodating them, talking to them…
Where was she?
Suddenly, she felt herself breathing unevenly as she sat up on her own bed. Surprisingly, not even a hint of pain shot her head with her sudden shift of position.
"Finally awake now, are we?"
She turned to the source of the voice, and saw a woman sitting beside her bed, her arms folded under her smirk and her piercing, but amused purple eyes. Her silver hair was a bit familiar to her with its short style, but her bangs gathered to one side of her head.
"Hey Stella." The woman nodded at her. "Remember me?"
Stella blinked. She couldn't even think straight. How could this woman assume that she knew her? How can she possibly manage to redeem all of her memories at a snap? She couldn't even gather her own thoughts. Her eyes only fell on her palms that rested on her lap.
The woman's eyes softened. "It's alright. You might remember me later when you feel more comfortable in this place. Might take a while, but you'll get there." She reassured.
"Where am I?"
The woman smirked. "Well, we're still here at the evacuation site in the ancient city of Tenebrae."
Stella's head snapped at the woman. "Tenebrae?"
"Yup, the one and only." She smiled at Stella. "The one where I believe you came from."
"Oh." Stella nodded. "Right. Tenebrae."
The woman took a deep breath in thought. "We've been trying to recover summoners that were punished by the Fal'cie. The ones that were caught and turned into crystal, just in hopes of recovering you."
Stella's eyes relaxed and fell to her palms once again.
"Ever since the fall of the Fal'cie more than twenty years ago, the summoners were finally free from the shackles of their crystal stasis. It was only then they could be recovered." She leaned closer to Stella. "We've been looking for you. And it was also by looking for you that we were able to recover summoners from their crystal cages. I'm really glad that I finally found you, Stella."
Stella slowly looked up to the woman. How did she know her name? No matter, she saved her from a cursed slumber. "And I'm very grateful that you have found me. I am indebted of you."
"Nah, that's nothing." The woman shook her head. "What's more important to me is we were able to find you. And we will find more summoners so we can finally free them too."
"Then I will help, if that's the case." Stella nodded firmly.
The woman beamed with a large smile. "Thanks. No need for you to do that, but thanks anyway. My brother… he would be so happy."
Stella nodded slightly in almost a bow. "Then, I would like to meet him too so I can extend my thanks."
The woman's smile slowly melted and disappeared reluctantly. She shook her head before standing up from her chair. "Can you stand?"
Stella found no reason why she couldn't, and nodded at her. "Yes. I think I can."
"Come. I think it's time for you to remember some things."
They left the long, crowded room and walked through several hallways, with most people greeting Stella's female escort with a smile and a nod, followed by a "boss". It was then Stella figured that she was running the whole place- and most possibly the whole operation. The boss led her outside of the shelter, revealing the whole ruins of Tenebrae with countless of evicting and bulldozing machines scattered at every corner of the place.
In an awe, Stella could only stare at the once so beautiful city of Tenebrae. It was how she last remembered it, the ruins, the explosions, the chaos… it was much worse than how it was now.
"I grew up here too." The woman fed Stella's further curiosity. "I grew up with my brother. He would take me to many places in the city whenever he was free from his duty. He would often bring me to an amusement park and ride with me on my favorite ride until I feel sick. Too bad it's not missile-proof."
"Your brother…" Stella's words drifted from her lips. "Is he a soldier?"
"No." The woman replied. "He was much more than that."
The woman let a moment of pause pass between them as Stella continued to examine the place she once called home. A home that made even more than just a home by a person she could not forget, no matter how many years her memories slept with her.
"I remember now…" Stella said, prompting the woman to look at her. "I was there. When the Fal'cie destroyed Tenebrae, I was here, escaping." She shook her head as she recalled her cowardly actions. "Everyone was after me. I wanted to hide myself and save my life, thinking that they would eventually give up if they never found me. But I realized they would stop at nothing. Not even at the cost of lives of others. It left me no choice but to surrender myself directly to the Fal'cie. I…" Her eyes fell to the ground, her eyes brimming with tears. "I… I don't even know if that changed anything. If it made it all stop and saved more lives that they might've taken too."
The woman gave her a soft smile. "I know, Stella. I know what you've been through."
Stella's eyes widened in surprise. "Really?"
The woman inhaled deeply. "I know your story. I was here too. I was six then." She smirked and turned her violet eyes at Stella again. "You saved me back then, remember? The little girl with the dog plushie?"
Stella gasped. "… Seven?"
The woman nodded happily. "Yup. The one and only."
Tears of relief and joy escaped the summoner's eyes as she leapt to Seven and wrapped her in a tight embrace.
Stella sat across Seven as the young "boss" was nibbling on her lunch. Stella could not let her gaze off Seven, almost ignoring her own food.
Seven stopped chewing on her hotdog and stared back at Stella with her face still full. "What?"
"You're so big…" Stella replied in pure awe. "I never imagined you to grow like this. It was too early back then for me to anticipate."
"Well, time does not wait for us. We catch up with time, right?" Seven smirked at Stella. "But I'm no wonder or anything. I'm still me, minus the royal title. I don't think I ever wanted that one anyway."
"The title still fits you, only in a different light."
Seven shrugged. "I suppose so."
"What happened after Prompto saved us from the soldiers?" Stella asked before taking a bite of her clubhouse sandwich.
Seven drank from her cup before she replied. "Lots of fighting, that's for sure. I actually thought Prompto would never make it before we could escape the city. Or at least before we could find a good place to hide. But that guy, wow, he had the eyes of a tiger; precise, never faltering."
"What happened to him?"
"He survived. But not without some mortal wounds. Fortunately, we found a place with several potions and healing stuffs. After healing some of his own wounds, we, stocked up lots before looking for others."
Stella nodded, a slight relief washed over her. "What happened to the others?"
"Gladiolus was okay. Ignis…" She shook her head. "Not that good. He was knocked out when we found him. We actually thought he was dead! We gave him one of the very few Pheonix Downs we stashed and healed him some more with the potions. It took a while before he completely recovered. All of us were able to reach Noctis before anything worse happened."
Stella perked up at the sound of his name. "Noctis… What happened to him?"
Seven shook his head once more. "He was really grim. Down to Ifrit's bone. When we saw him, his eyes were… really dark. When we arrived at the Fal'cie's monument, he was kneeling in front of your crystal self, gripping on his sword so tightly, I think I saw his hand bleed. When Gladiolus and Prompto touched him, he glared at them, a deadly glare, really. And when he stood up, I knew… we knew. He was more than determined to go after the Fal'cie and bring you back."
Stella suddenly reached for Seven's hand and squeezed it tightly. "Where is he? I need to see him… I need him to see me."
Seven's eyes turned melancholic as she slowly squeezed Stella's hand. Stella could feel her heartbeat pounding in aggravation.
"Stella…" Seven looked intently at Stella's eyes. "There's… one more thing you need to see."
The temple was nothing Stella expected. When Seven told her they were heading to a temple, she was envisioning something tall and wide with many statues erecting all around the walls. But there was none of it. Stella and Seven were standing in front of a small, triangular structure, with plain white marble panels as walls. It looks like a monument by itself, albeit a large one. It didn't even have a door of its own.
"An aeon's temple?" Stella asked curiously.
"Yeah. Odin's temple, to be exact." Seven replied before entering the temple. Stella followed.
Inside were the statues she was looking for, though there were only three of them. Stella examined the nearest one, her silver orbs fixed on its face.
Her eyes narrowed.
The seven-feet statue looked exactly like Prompto.
She felt her finger pointing at the statue. "Is…. Is that?"
"Yes." Seven replied, standing just behind Stella. "That's Prompto."
Stella examined the next statue. "Ignis…"
She turned to the last one. "and Gladiolus."
Their expressions sculpted on the strong marbles that towered over her were stern, as hard as the material of their statues. Nothing like how she remembered them.
Stella turned to face Seven. She gulped before speaking, but almost choked on her voice. "Where are they?"
Seven's eyes fell and she closed them tightly. Stella could feel her breath growing uneven as she stared at Seven's seemingly defeated look. Finally, Seven opened her purple orbs and locked them on Stella's steel purple ones. "They're gone now."
Stella let go of the breath she didn't know she was holding. She tore her gaze away from Seven and tried to search for an unseen comfort from the blank ivory floors. No….
"They.. well…" Seven took a deep breath. "They passed away after they fought the Fal'cie twenty years ago, five years after you became a crystal. Noctis, he sought a way to bring you back. And the only way it could happen was to defeat the Fal'cie for good, so you would finally be free. But it cost them their delicate lives."
Stella turned back to Stella in a snap. "Even…"
Seven sighed and nodded. "Yes. Even Noctis."
Stella couldn't hold it anymore. Tears poured from her eyes and she found herself gasping for breath. And then she was letting go of loud sobs, almost screaming.
Seven ran to her side and embraced her, joining her in grief. "I know. I know. I couldn't accept it at first too." She said, trying to suppress her own tears. "But it's done now. We have to accept it."
"No…" Stella managed in between her sobs.
Seven closed her eyes. "I saw the fight, but from a distance. They never left him, until the end. Ignis went first when he succumbed to his wounds, then Prompto. Gladiolus was next while trying to help Noctis deliver the final blow, and when he was gone, Noctis was weak. Very weak." Her own tears began to fall as well. "After the battle, the Fal'cie had finally fallen. We all ran to the site and we were able to retrieve all of them. And when we brought Noctis back… he was barely breathing." She sobbed a few times before she continued. "He… he held my hand. He was very weak…"
Seven broke down, holding tightly of Stella, seeking some strength from her. Then she pulled herself away from Stella and looked at her. "But, Stella, you can still be with him."
Stella wiped her own tears and tried her best to look at Seven. "H-how? Tell me, please…"
After wiping her tears, Seven held her hand. "Let me show you." She pulled Stella to a door that stood between Gladiolus and Ignis, and revealed a black marble staircase. Feeling herself growing weaker, but stirred at the same time, Stella held firmly on Seven's hand for support. Until they arrived at dimly lit room surrounded by candles and a few flowers.
In the middle of the room was a large concaved glass protruding from the marble floor that gave out a pearl color when touched by light. Seven pointed at it. "Look closely at it, Stella."
The grieving summoner carefully stepped closer to the glass. She gasped.
Underneath the strong, thick round glass was a half-naked Noctis who appeared to be sleeping. His eyes were closed, and his expression was solemn. His arms rested on his sides, but his chest was not moving. There was no sign he was breathing. Stella then noticed the red stone, the amulet that she gave him twenty years ago, which lay still on his torso.
Beneath his body was a colorful illustration of a silver horse with glowing yellow eyes. Both Noctis and the horse were encircled by Noctis' dark metal swords that were arranged evenly to surround him.
Stella fell on her knees as she tearfully studied Noctis' sleeping figure.
"That night, the night when I last saw him alive, he wouldn't let go of my hand." Seven hugged herself as she looked away to reminisce her memory. "While I was crying, his face was tranquil… too calm it scared me even more. I knew we were going to lose him soon. It was only a matter of minutes." She gave out a small chuckle. "We had those minutes to save him. If only there was something we could do. But we couldn't find a way.
"Then he smiled at me. With those weak, half-opened eyes, he smiled for the last time. And then he told me in between his short breaths 'I am giving myself to be an aeon. It's the only way to be with her.' I knew what an aeon was, and I knew even then where they come from and how they come to be. But I never imagined such determination to offer one's soul just so he could fight beside his love. It was enough reason for him to give up the absolute peace for his soul to fight for just one summoner."
And that summoner touched the thick glass that separated her from the love she left in the past with one hand, and clasped her mouth to supress a loud sob with another.
If she could only give up her own life in exchange for his, she would willfully do it. If only she could open his beautiful blue eyes and give him the precious life he once had that she once vowed to treasure, to protect. She longed to touch him, just as he had when she was trapped in her crystal mould. But time and fate forbade them to grasp such a simple dream.
And alas, he found a way. If she would accept him to be an aid to her next battles, to be her warrior against her foes, her defender from those who dared touch her, he will be there at her call. And then, he would hear her commanding, but graceful voice. He would see her with his own eyes. He would finally be able to do everything he should have had twenty-five years ago.
Albeit in his beastly form…
at her summoning…
he would finally be with her.
Author's Note: I know it took waaay too long to finish this. But I sure do hope you like it. :)