I've wanted to do a FFXIII story for a while, and have finally gotten around to it! This is my sequel to FFXIII-2 and hopefully you all enjoy it! I own the plot. Everything else belongs to Square! Remember, if you like what you read, don't hesitate to review or follow the story!
"I... k-killed the goddess?" Hands trembling and eyes wide, Noel could barely stand or speak.
Hope Estheim quietly stood there, equally distressed. Neither of the two men could fathom the events that had unfolded just moments ago. Serah had been a seeress, just like the many Yeuls before her. Her life was extinguished by a vision of the future, a new future created by the efforts of her and Noel. However, looking around, things were bleak.
The sky grew black. It wasn't just darkness, an ominous crest appeared in the sky, with a black mist pouring from it. The mist consumed everything in its path.
"The Heart of Chaos beats in my chest-a manifestation of Etro. Should this heart stop beating, the goddess will die once again. When the goddess dies, the chaos of Valhalla is unleashed. The chaos has the power to warp the timeline and destroy the past." Caius's words rang in Noel's ears.
Off in the distance, a large structure appeared. The building looked similar to a tower. Bells chimed eerily throughout the chaos infected landscape.
"Sazh, fly us out of here!" The academy director ordered.
What have I done?
Noel was frantic now. Caius wasn't bluffing. The words he spoke were no less true than the severity of their situation. Pounding the airship he and Hope stood upon, he screamed.
"Are you happy now? You've destroyed it all. You've robbed humanity of its past and future. Damn you Caius!"
"Noel, calm down. This has me shaken as well but we need to be rational." Hope spoke, but he couldn't hold back a crack in his voice. It was obvious that he was far more than shaken.
"Hope.. Our journey was for nothing. We didn't save the future, and I lost Serah! I couldn't protect her, I failed! I killed the man who raised me, and taught me everything I know, as well as the Goddess herself! This is all my fault! You expect me to remain calm?" He had grabbed Hope by his tie and was holding him up in a firm grasp. He was silent.
"Look out boys, we got some baddies coming in hot!" The voice of Sazh could be heard over the intercom. Sure enough, Noel and Hope could see several wyverns approaching their airship, obviously ready to attack the airborne vehicle. The beasts were huge, and their numbers reached at least 7. Their scales were an onyx color, nearly as black as the chaos around them.
As they neared the ship, the duo pulled out their weapons. "Can you fight?" Hope asked the brunette male. He received no response, instead watching as Noel dived head first into the fray with his swords slicing in seemingly every direction.
Noel lost himself in the confrontation. Each swing of his weapons was laced with pure emotion. Anger, Fear, Sorrow, Grief and the most powerful one he had felt, guilt.
Leaping up, he began to spiral in midair. As his body twisted and turned, so did his blades. Every blow was fatal. One decapitating a wyvern while another rendered one incapable of flight. Switching roles, Noel infused each strike with magical elements. Flame, Wind, Water, or even Ice. He used every element he knew, purposefully choosing to torment the beasts by diversifying the effects of his deadly assault.
In the meantime, Hope was also fending off the beasts, albeit nowhere near as viciously as his hunter companion. He would fling his boomerang at his target, and control it's flight path as he flung several ruin spells at other foes. This strategy made for effective multi-tasking.
In a mere matter of minutes, the creatures were no more.
"Woo, you saved our tail. I'll get us back to Academia ASAP. You two just hang on and enjoy the ride!"
That was Sazh for you, ever the optimist. A man wise beyond his years, he somehow knew the best ways to make light of a tough situation. Even one so taxing as this.
The ship sped off, and on the gloomy horizon Noel and Hope could make out the Academy HQ in Academia. Finally coming inside, Noel gently laid Serah's body on the bench to his left as Hope went to the bridge to speak to Sazh, setting Mog's unconscious body in a cozy looking basket. Noel grabbed a pillow, and rested her head upon it, making sure to give luxury to the departed Farron.
Taking a seat next to her body, he ran his fingers through the pink strands which decorated her head. He sat there for a while, not saying a word. Eventually, his eyes grew heavy, and he gave into sleep.
They have seen history. They have seen its possibilities. They have seen all of the endings. But they must know that the goddess Etro is already dead. Her end is final. No man, woman, or god can bring her back now. Ignorant and blind to their true mission, they did exactly as I wanted. At the end of the journey to save the world, they stilled the goddess's power.
Caius sat upon Etro's throne in the Void Beyond, legs crossed. He rested his on one hand, while holding his sword Ragnarok in the other. Raising himself from the holy perch he sat atop, he slowly moved forward until his feet were in contact with the platform beneath him. The guardian stepped forward, lifting his blade into the air.
"Yeul, let us begin. We are freed from our eternal curse. Embrace the new world…The Goddess is dead!"
He plunges Ragnarok into the ground. Chaos begins seeping from where the blade met the floor, engulfing the purple haired immortal.
The airship landed quietly, not even sounding so much as a thud when it landed on the ground below. A ramp descended, and Director Estheim appeared from inside the vehicle. The peace was short lived, if there was any peace to begin with. He was instantly engulfed by a crowd of panicking members of the Academy, each raving about how dangerous things currently were, or how the levels of the paradox were out of control. It was as if they all assumed Hope hadn't seen any of it for himself.
Noel trailed behind, wearing an expression darker than the sky itself. He carried Serah's corpse and was followed by a now conscious Mog.
"Everyone, as you all have already observed, much has happened in the last hour and a half. We're meeting in the grand hall in two hours. I want everyone to organize all data regarding the paradox and the current state of Bhunivelze and be prepared to present it later. That is all." Hope cooly rattled off their plan and what his demands were. As head of the academy, being the one to act calm in a time of crisis was an acquired skill of his. It was something he learned on his journey as a l'cie, and something that he'd mastered over the time he spent growing up. Indeed, Hope truly lived up to his namesake.
Academy members all stepped aside, granting Hope and Noel passage into the academy HQ. The duo entered the building, where then Hope took the lead and escorted them to his private quarters.
The room was quaint. Surprisingly so, since they were nearly half a millennia in the future from the time Hope hailed from. The whole space was styled similarly to how Noel had seen some homes down at New Bodhum back in 3AF. Probably to help in the case of future shock.
Each of them pulled out a chair. Hope eased himself into the seat while Noel laid Serah onto Hope's bed.
"Noel, what exactly happened in there?"
Noel, cleared his throat. Before speaking, he inhaled deeply. "After we finished our last battle with Caius, we found ourselves on the shore of Valhalla again. He kept asking, almost begging for me to kill him. I refused of course. Then, in an effort to make me kill him, he went for Serah. Without thinking, I reacted by blocking his attack and countering with my own. My blade nearly pierced his heart. I was able to regain control of myself at the very last moment. He grabbed my sword, my hand still on the blade, and impaled himself with it." Noel's final words came out as a nearly inaudible whisper.
"I see... is that all?" Hope asked innocently.
"After he died, the gates all began to get called back to Valhalla. We went through the gate that would take us to this Era, and then that's when things all went horribly wrong. Serah had a vision of the future, the vision that ending up taking her life. You showed up shortly after, and when the chaos came, I remembered the words Caius spoke."
"What is it he said?"
"He told me that when he died, the goddess would die again. That the chaos of Valhalla would be unleashed and that I would have to bear the burden of the eternal paradox. I didn't understand how much that actually meant until everything started taking a turn for the worst. Hope, the state of the world is my fault. If only I hadn't stabbed Caius, maybe the world would be alright, and Serah would be ali-"
"You don't know that. You don't know any of that. You had no way of knowing you guys were playing into his hands the whole time, okay Noel?"
"Things can still be fixed, Kupo." Mog spoke, sounding hopeful.
Noel and Hope both were puzzled. "How can you be certain?" The silverette asked.
"The way things are, time is at a standstill. The future is no more, just as things are in Valhalla, Kupo. Serah saw a vision of the future before she died, so that means there has to be a way to fix things Kupo!"
Hope considered the notion carefully, wrapping his head around what Mog was getting at.
"I see what you're saying Mog. If there was no longer a future for us, Serah would never have had a vision of the future, right?" Noel's voice grew more powerful, sounding more like his usual self. Perhaps not everything was lost after all.
"Exactly, Kupo." Mog floated around the Hope's quarters, his bobble and bubbly personality the brightest things in the room.
"Serah... Your death won't be a vain one, I promise." Noel spoke firmly, his voice resolute.
"Noel, you should get some sleep, you've had it the toughest out of anyone. I'll bring Serah to the room I had set aside for her. My meeting is in a little while, and once that's finished, I'll begin the preparations for her funeral."
"Right, thanks Hope. Make sure to keep me updated, I want in on anything the academy plans." Noel stood, and made his way to the door stopping just before he turned te knob. "Mog, I think it's best you tag along with Hope, they might want an eyewitness testimony of what went down at Valhalla."
"Leave it to me Kupo!"
"I'll see you in a few hours Noel. Your room is two doors down on the left."
Exiting the directors room, the hunter turned left, walking down the quiet hallway as his footsteps resonated throughout the corridor. Stopping at the second door, he turned the knob and let himself in.
The place was about the same as Hope's room. They might have made accommodations for him, but then it might be better that they didn't. Nobody knew what his time was like after all, and while he would never trade away the few memories he could recall from his days in his own time, he could do without the pain of how things were.
Locking his door behind him, he headed straight for the bed, and sprawled out on it.
Damn, I'm not going to get any sleep like this. I know Hope means well, but it's just too much to ask.
As he thought, Noel's pouch tumbled over, with one of his fragments falling to the floor.
He leaned over and grabbed the crystal. He examined it, and then a thought came to mind.
"Wait a minute... These fragments all had some sort of message within them!."
Noel shot out of his bed. He grabbed his pouch, and turned it upside down, dumping all one hundred and sixty fragments that he and Serah had collected onto the bed.
"Looks like I'll be here a while.. But it's worth a shot."
Noel hurriedly grabbed the nearest fragment, and allowed the information stored within to freely floon into his mind. His jaw dropped, and a gasp escaped his throat. He put the fragment aside, and reached for the next. The answer was in there somewhere.
He would find the key. He had to.