Those who taught by how they lived
Regis truly wished he could play the fool to the moment that changed everything, but one doesn’t tend to forget when a young man starts singing magic right in front of you as people collapsed to the floor. He also would never forget the power flowing from Cor’s skin, his eyes; the way he sliced the armor from Glauca like it was paper-
Regis shook his head, allowing his own magic to pool in his hand; fire teased at his palm, but the heat did not touch him. It had been nine months since everything had happened, and it felt like a decade with the sheer amount of change that had occurred. The revelations of Prompto and Cor’s other roles as messengers of the Dawn Mother, the discovery and defeat of Ardyn Izunia as an ancient prince of Lucis, long bespoiled by the Scourge, the destruction of close to ninety percent of the Niflheim Empire’s troops, the death and near-immediate resurrection of both his son and Lunafreya, and the destruction of the crystal and ring. It had been a very busy seventy-two hours last May.
The fact that both his armiger and his magic still responded to him as ever had been surprising to him at first, but he had been pleased. Noctis could still use his magic as well, lending hope that the skill would not die with them. He may not have been able to summon the new wall anymore, but the old wall still whispered in his mind if he reached out for it, and the Glaives were still able to access his magic...but oddly, it strained him less than it had before the crystal’s destruction. Something to explore in the future.
Regis felt better as well; ever since the crystal and the ring had been lost, his energy had come roaring back in the months since. He rarely needed the cane, and even his dodgy knee felt somewhat better, even if he still wore the brace. He still looked far older than his years, the black would not return to his hair, the lines on his face would not fade, and he’d be surprised if he made it to seventy-five. But still, the possibility of more years with his son and his friends was a wondrous one, something that he had thought impossible less than a year ago, and while he had been furious at Cor’s deception, what his actions had helped wrought had brought so much promise that he hadn’t been able to stay angry. At all.
Even when he had to deal with the more unpleasant parts of the aftermath. The Kingsglaive had lost over a third of its members in those first minutes of Prompto’s enchantments, thrown into the holding cells, and the fact that over half of the detained members had confessed to some sort of crime the instant the questioning had began later had not come as a surprise. The depth of Drautos’s schemes had been vast, his network of disaffected Lucians, Niflheimian spies, and shady mercenary types had been found in almost every part of the wider government of Lucis, from the governing council of Lestallum all the way to infiltrating the hunters that patrolled the frontier, and he still didn’t know why.
Drautos had been born in the Lucian frontier in a small town that had been destroyed in one of the many senseless battles between Niflheim and Lucis when he was a teen, then at some point, he had made it to Insomnia and managed to join the Crownsguard, a feat for a non-Insomnian. He volunteered for the test program for the Kingsglaive, showed serious promise, and was given command of the new unit when it was formed. Had he been a traitor all along? Or had he been swayed to Niflheim afterwards? Regis did not know the answer, even as the death warrant for the man sat on his desk, waiting for his signature. Drautos had said next to nothing since the day he had been discovered as Glauca, even in his own defense during his trial. It was infuriating.
Regis sighed and looked down at the document. His grandfather had been on the throne the last time one of these had been drafted and executed, and the judge had been forced to consult a rather dusty law book to make sure it had been done correctly. There had been options for method of execution, but in the end they had chosen for him to be hung by the neck until dead. Regis felt sick thinking of it, but what else could they do? The public was close to ninety percent in favor of it, and they could not risk putting him among the general population in prison where he could use his obvious skill in fomenting dissent. No, this would be the end.
A knock on his door roused him from his dark thoughts, and he looked up and bade the person enter. Clarus strode in, closing the door behind him before taking his usual seat to his left.
“Still looking at that damn thing, aren’t you?” Clarus stated, and Regis sighed.
“It needs to be done, we can’t leave him rotting in the cells below forever,” he replied, and Clarus crossed his arms and sucked air through his teeth.
“I was tempted to gut the man myself, but we needed to find out his plans. Also, it probably would have looked bad,” Clarus smirked, and Regis took the bait and snorted.
“No, it would have looked very bad. Murdering someone already in custody is considered in poor taste, after all,” he said, then looked back down at the warrant with a grimace. “Would have solved us a few problems, though.” Clarus’s hand came to rest on one of his, and Regis turned his wrist and gripped his old friend’s fingers. “I’m only fifty-one, Clarus, and I feel eighty right now.”
“Leave it, it can wait for tomorrow.” Regis looked at the paper one more time, and nodded. “Why don’t you go see your son? Perhaps you can have breakfast with him tomorrow.” Regis smiled at Clarus, tightening his grip on his friend’s fingers.
“Why don’t we gather all the kids together? You can always call Iris, we can have an extended family meal,” Regis let go of Clarus’s hand and got to his feet, brushing at the front of his coat. “Why don’t we stop by Noctis’s room, see if the boys are available? I could use the walk,” he said, and Clarus shrugged and got to his feet as well. The two walked out of his office together, heading to the elevator; it was thankfully empty, and Regis let himself sag against the wall for a moment. Clarus moved in front, ostensibly to block the view of anyone who might see the tired monarch taking a moment, and Regis couldn’t help a tired smile as he let his eyes fall closed. Unfortunately, the Citadel elevators were fast, and he sighed and peeled his shoulder away from the smooth surface as the doors opened, Clarus leading the way down the hall to his son’s chambers.
Regis knocked first; it was only polite, and his son was an adult. There was no answer, and he knocked once more to no avail before punching in the access code and opening the door.
“Son, are you in?” Regis looked down to discover an array of shoes in the entryway, some Noctis’s, some he would guess were Prompto’s, but the very large pair of boots screamed Gladiolus, while the classic pair of Oxfords told him that Ignis was also in attendance.
So where were they? He and Clarus proceeded into the main room, again seeing no sign of any of them besides what appeared to be Gladiolus’s jacket thrown across the back of one of the armchairs, and suddenly an ominous feeling began to trickle down his spine.
“Clarus?” he whispered, and the fixed jaw of his shield told him that he was thinking much the same. “If this is what I think it is, I’m going to kill Cor.” Clarus blinked, clearly thrown by his statement and the signs that were in front of them.
“Why Cor?” Clarus hissed back, and Regis’s eyes narrowed.
“Because I would have hoped that he could have least given me a heads up, because there’s no way that he doesn’t know about any relationships that the young man he has some sort of mental link with is involved in-” Regis grumbled, then took a deep breath and walked over to the bedroom door. “Clarus?”
“Yes?” Clarus whispered back, and Regis stroked his fingers through his beard, tugging on his chin hair.
“This is going to make getting grandkids much more difficult,” he said, then reached out and slowly turned the doorknob to the bedroom, sliding the door open just enough for the two of them to see inside. It was exactly what he suspected, and he really wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but it wasn’t... bad. Ignis was curled up around Noctis, who was resting his head on Gladiolus’s chest, right next to where Prompto’s was resting as well, the blond wrapped around the largest of their group like a limpet. None of them appeared to be wearing shirts, and Regis was quite certain that if he walked over and pulled back the blankets, he’d be seeing a lot more of his grown son and his friends than he had ever planned to. Regis slowly turned his head to meet Clarus’s eyes, the other man blinking rapidly in his shock, then tilted his head towards the front door. Regis carefully closed the bedroom door, then they quietly exited Noctis’s quarters without a sound. The two headed back to the elevators and boarded, pressing the button to a very specific residential floor before Regis flipped up the cover over the emergency stop switch and pressing the button a little harder than he had meant to. Royal prerogative.
“Well shit, I didn’t expect that,” Clarus finally wheezed out, and Regis let his head thunk against the back wall of the elevator and burst into full-bodied laughter, his bum knee crumpling as both men sagged to the floor, Clarus trying to catch him on the way down and only partially succeeding.
“We always joked about Iris marrying Noctis, but we never really thought about Gladiolus-” Regis gasped out between bursts of laughter, and Clarus groaned.
“All four of them! I really want to know which one thought that up-” Clarus also continued to wheeze and laugh, and Regis tipped over until his head was resting against his shield’s shoulder, his body still shaking with laughter.
“I bet young Prompto was the catalyst, even though I suspect they had been thinking about it for some time. They spent so much time together around and after the battle, after all. Was that ridiculous book certain that the part with male Dawnsworn and children was a mistranslation? Because if Prompto can have them, it’s going to be quite the mess sorting out who the father is of any kids he pops out,” Regis said, and Clarus groaned heartily.
“Ability to have kids or not, if they all stay together and the council finds out about this, I suspect we’ll have a full out war on our hands. Too many traditionalists, and well, the eternal heir issue. I’ve got a second shot at grandkids with Iris, but you-” Regis poked Clarus in the arm, and he trailed off.
“Unless things change any time soon, they have time. We have time. While there might be some things to sort out in the long run, I think we can leave them to it for now. I’ll wait to the right moment to let them know that I know, however, I want to get maximum effect out of the declaration,” Regis cackled as he sat back upright, and Clarus rolled his eyes and sighed. Regis sobered a bit. “Does it bother you, Clarus?” Clarus shook his head almost immediately, and he closed his eyes in relief. “What are you worried about?”
“I’m not sure, actually. Just a feeling. Ignore me,” Clarus said, his eyes distant for a moment before he blinked and focused, and Regis patted his friend on his shoulder then grabbed his cane, trying to get his footing. He was too damn old to be sitting on the floor, and his knee was going to remind him of the fact. Clarus managed to get himself up first, and helped Regis hoist himself to his feet, just in time for the speaker near the emergency button to crackle to life.
“Unknown personnel. Are you experiencing an emergency with the elevator? If not, please disengage the emergency stop and proceed to your destination.” Clarus held up a hand, forestalling Regis from speaking.
“This is Clarus Amiticia, elevator was paused for classified reasons, I am continuing on now. Thank you for your service.” Another burst of crackles, and Regis huffed another laugh under his breath.
“Lord Amicitia! My apologies. Please proceed as you wish.” Clarus didn’t reply, and he reached over and re-engaged the elevator.
“Are we going to where I think we are going?” Clarus inquired, and Regis sniffed haughtily, tossing his hair back.
“I just want to talk to him for a moment.” The shield frowned.
“We could just talk to him in the morning like normal people, Regis,” Clarus grumbled, and Regis waved a dismissive hand.
“I feel like being spontaneous.” The older man rolled his eyes, but dropped the conversation. Regis knew he was being silly, but he really wanted to keep his mind off of that damn piece of paper in his office, and he really wanted to glare at Cor for a minute on principle.
They didn’t bother knocking at Cor’s door, and Clarus used his master override to enter the apartment, which was already dark. Regis frowned, but walked back towards the bedroom anyway, Clarus in his wake. Had Cor gone to bed already?
“If he kills us by accident, it’s our own damn fault,” Clarus hissed, and Regis shook his head.
“No, we’ll be fine, Cor sleeps like the dead when he’s in whatever his brain perceives as a safe space. He probably won’t even budge-” Regis realized he had severely miscalculated when the large knife slammed into the wall by his head as he opened the bedroom door, blue eyes with the slightest hint of grey glinting in the low light from the bed. Ulric. They had forgotten all about Ulric. Cor, as he expected, was still sound asleep, his head resting on the captain’s stomach and his arm and leg thrown over the man’s body, looking altogether incredibly comfortable. It would have been rather sweet had Regis had not almost ended up with a rather sizeable blade through his skull just a few seconds prior from his bedmate. He could see the exact moment realization of who he had just thrown his kukri at hit Ulric, his eyes widening in shock before he gently peeled Cor off of him (who promptly wrapped himself around Ulric’s pillow) and slid out of the bed, thankfully wearing underwear as he stalked up to king and shield and pointed a finger out to the main room.
“I hate to say this, your majesty, but what were you thinking? I could have killed you!” Ulric said between his teeth a moment later, and Regis and Clarus exchanged a sheepish look before Regis sighed and ran his hand over his beard.
“Would you believe that it didn’t occur to me that you would probably be here? We just came down to yell at Cor, I knew he sleeps like the dead and figured we would just throw a pillow at him or something. It’s worked in the past,” Regis finished rather feebly, and Ulric groaned and rolled his eyes with intent. To be fair, he deserved it, and Regis pulled at his beard a bit in embarrassment. Clarus sighed next to him.
“Our apologies, Captain. Thank you for not killing the king today, that would have been a very awkward mess to cover up,” Clarus stated bluntly, and Ulric ran a hand through his hair and snorted, the tension visibly leaving the younger man. Crisis averted, Regis took the opportunity to give the Glaive standing in front of him a quick once-over. Nyx Ulric was a very fit man with moderate body hair, a rather distinctive scar pattern on his chest, and multiple simple tattoos in the Galahdian style; Regis had known the man was handsome before, but getting a nearly full view cemented that opinion even further. Ulric raised an eyebrow at the scrutiny, and Regis chuckled.
“I was just thinking that Cor had done rather well for himself,” he said, and Ulric’s eyebrows flew up. “And no, I don’t just mean physically; you know he sleeps like a log, and you immediately moved to protect him when idiot intruders broke into his apartment. While I appreciate not having one of your infamous kukri through my head, I can also appreciate the sentiment.” The light was low, but Regis could see Ulric’s nose pinken as he spoke, and he scratched sheepishly at his beard once more. “My apologies for disrupting your evening, Captain. We’ll see ourselves out.” Nyx folded his arms and squinted at him, and Regis waited with growing amusement as the underwear-clad man shifted in place, clearly trying to figure something out.
“What were you two coming to yell at him for-” Ulric cut himself off, his expression turning impish, and suddenly Regis realized that Cor probably wasn’t the only one who knew about the boys. “Excuse me for a moment, your majesty, I’ll be right back.” Ulric fled to the bedroom, the door closing behind him, and Regis and Clarus snuck as close to the door as they could and shamelessly listened in. Some rustling later, he could hear Cor’s groggy voice through the door.
“What’s going on?” Cor grumbled, and Regis listened to the bed creak as the man woke up.
“Remember what you said about a vacation in Tenebrae sounding appealing if the king found out about you-know-what?” Ulric said, and Regis had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Clarus wasn’t much better, his shoulders were shaking as he laughed silently. He heard another grumble from Cor.
“Yes...why are you bringing this up- wait, why is one of your kukris in my wall?”
A few minutes later saw all four of them out in Cor’s living room. Both Ulric and Cor had put on pajama pants before slinking back out, and Regis was cheered when his old friend gave him a frantic once-over before sighing in relief.
“So, Nyx told me he almost killed you because you broke into my apartment,” Cor spoke with abject irritation bundled with a touch of worry, and Clarus nodded and shrugged nonchalantly while Regis struggled to speak without laughing again. It was all one hell of a distraction from what was sitting on his desk, that’s for certain. Cor flopped down onto the sofa next to his boyfriend with a groan, Regis and Clarus relaxing into two convenient armchairs. “Do I need to book a nice long vacation, or do I just sit here and accept my punishment?” Cor muttered, and Regis grinned evilly before crossing his ankles and arms as he settled back into Cor’s surprisingly comfy armchair.
“So there we were, thinking of gathering up the kids for a nice breakfast together, and so I decide to get a walk in by going to ask my son in person. There was no response when I knocked, however, so we went inside, where there was all sorts of shoes that weren’t Noctis’s, and I’m just wondering where everyone was, and then-”
“Please tell me you didn’t give your son a heart attack. You’d be hardpressed to find yourself another heir at this point in your life-” Cor cut in, and Regis glared and continued.
“-and then lo and behold, I get a rather striking scene of not just my son, not just my son and young Prompto, which I admit I expected, but my son, Prompto, his future shield, and his advisor, all very comfortable with each other. Asleep, thankfully, and we withdrew before any of them even realized we had been there,” Regis finished, and Ulric barked out a laugh.
“At least for small favors, Prompto probably would have stroked out on the spot.” Cor and Clarus nodded almost simultaneously in agreement, and Regis sighed.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” he asked, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose and huffed.
“Firstly, because they are all adults, and I was hoping the prince would just suck it up and tell you. Secondly, because I was only fully certain about a month and a half ago. Thirdly, because you know I hate talking about that sort of thing, Regis, and really? What was I supposed to say?” Cor’s voice, still a bit scratchy from sleep, was about as close to whining as Regis had heard it in a very long time, and he smiled at the sound of it.
“I would have appreciated a bit of warning just the same,” Regis grumbled right back, but he knew Cor was right. “-but very well, you make a good point. I’ll live in hope for a little while that Noctis will say something, but I’m not holding my breath,” Regis snorted, then grabbed his cane and levered to his feet, the other three men following immediately after. “Sorry for the rather awkward wakeup call, you two. I’ll be careful to announce myself if I drop by again.” Ulric nodded his goodbye before returning to the bedroom, probably to fetch his blade from the wall. Regis, Clarus, and Cor all headed to the front door, and before Clarus could open it, Regis turned to Cor and put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“Regis?” Cor asked, and Regis smiled, tilting his head towards the direction Ulric had gone.
“I know it’s only been a few months, but I think you’ve found yourself a winner. He didn’t even hesitate to defend the two of you when he thought we were intruders, and had we actually been up to nefarious purposes, he would have probably had them subdued before you had a chance to wake up. Always a good trait,” Regis stated, then grinned. “Also, he’s rather nice on the eyes.”
“Regis, please.” It was definitely a whine that time, and Regis and Clarus left the apartment quietly laughing to the sight of Cor’s ridiculous blush. As they walked back down the hall towards the elevators, Regis looked over at Clarus and sighed; all the shock, manic-laughter, near-death experiences, and amusement had taken the last bit of energy he had, and he needed fortification.
“My quarters. I have a Duscaean vintage port that I find myself in need of, unless you have other commitments,” he said as they once again got into the elevator, and Clarus shook his head.
“Lead on, your majesty.”
Unfortunately, distractions or not, the warrant was still sitting on his desk the next morning, and Regis picked up the paper and read it over once more, the fine script not working to disguise the intent behind the document. What was he waiting for? A sign? The man to just drop dead out of spite? He had no excuse. It was clear that the man wasn’t going to say a word either to his defense or not, not when he had squandered many other opportunities to do so already. Lingering further would serve no one any purpose, and he knew it. Setting it down onto his blotter, he carefully unscrewed the cap off his fountain pen, took a deep breath, and signed his name. After staring at the signed death warrant for a very long time, he picked up his phone and called down to the Kingsglaive offices.
“Ulric.” Regis took another deep breath, then spoke.
“Captain, I felt it necessary to inform you that I have just signed the death warrant for Titus Drautos, as requested by the will of the people of Lucis as determined by a fair trial before the highest court in the land. As per ancient law and tradition, the warrant is to be read to the condemned before the preparations for the sentence are begun. I have called to ask if you wish to be the informer,” Regis said, his voice formal and remote; he could hear the sharp intake of air through the phone line, and he waited while the new captain decided on what he would do.
“Your majesty, while I am willing, I- I believe I know a better person,” Captain Ulric stated, and Regis nodded in understanding when Ulric offered his idea for the solemn position. An hour later, the king and his shield joined Captain Ulric and Crowe Altius as they descended to the holding cells below the Citadel, walking in utter silence through the long corridor to the cells, a Crownsguard bowing and opening the security gate so swiftly that they did not even slow before entering the cellblock proper. The four of them approached Drautos’s cell, the sight of the former captain stealing the very breath from his chest. If things had been different, this man would have watched Insomnia burn and the corpses pile high as the city was overrun by daemons, and as far as Regis could tell, he would have done it with little to no regret. Drautos looked up at the four of them with an emotionless expression, and Regis stepped forward.
“I’ve wondered much about how we ended up here, why you went through so much work for so long just to bring down Insomnia. But I find myself standing here now, and I think that this had a lot less to do with the city, and a lot more to do with me,” he said, and he got his confirmation in the slight narrowing of the man’s eyes at the end of his statement. “I’m hardly perfect, Drautos; I’ve made many a decision I regret throughout my life, but I still do not know what I have done to garner such unrelenting hatred from you. But you will not tell me, and perhaps that is your final act of vengeance against me. Titus Drautos, former captain of the Kingsglaive, I will see you at the Old Square of Justinius in two weeks time. Glaive Altius, I leave this to you.” Regis handed over the silk-bound folder with the death warrant to Altius, who bowed and smiled darkly as she received it. Without looking back, he turned on his heel and walked away from the cells, Clarus at his heels, listening with a cold smile as Crowe Altius read off the death warrant to the man who had nearly sent her to her own doom without compunction or reason, but just because she was inconvenient at the time.
Ulric was right. He could not think of a more appropriate person to act in that position.