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Walking Tall

Chapter Text

The sword slammed into the pristine black marble, the tip of the blade sinking in by several inches. “Kings of Lucis, come to me!”

The air around the throne room turned cold and hard as the Kings of Before took heed of the undeniable command. One by one the weapons bearers appeared before the ragged man who had finally taken his throne, and he viewed them with a weary and somewhat wary magenta gaze. He knew what they expected to happen next, but he straightened his spine, lifted a hand from the hilt of his father’s blade, and intoned a single word. “Hold.”

Everything came to an expectant pause, and Noctis Lucis Caelum, One Hundred and Fourteenth of His Line, smiled tightly. “Astrals. Attend me.” It was another command that could not be denied, for it was spoken with the power of the Crystal that had been imbued into him.

They shimmered into muted existence one by one, Titan, Ramuh, Shiva, Leviathan, and even Ifrit. Each managed to convey their aspects of great power while maintaining more reasonable size for the environment. Ifrit was the stockiest, while Shiva hovered daintily above the ground. Ramuh’s beard and robes trailed along the floor as Titan towered over the others, ignoring Leviathan as she undulated in the air.

Noctis ignored them all and waited.

 

The air quivered with anticipation, and Bahamut stepped out of the ether, slightly taller than Titan, great arms folded across his chest, his terrifyingly human eyes angry and hard. You dare command us to be brought to this place? The blood price must be paid.

There was a silence in the room that a normal person would call uncomfortable. The longer it stretched, the more oppressive it became. But still Noctis did not speak. He was counting to himself. 

By the door, where Noctis bade them wait, Prompto rested a hand on Ignis’ arm and pointed anxiously. Ignis lifted the fingers of his free hand in dismissal, and Gladio wiped at his face and rolled his eyes. This was Noctis’ fight, they were there together, but Noctis wanted them safe and mostly out of sight.

 

The best means to offput your enemy in battle of wit is to outlast. Make him wait for you, as long as you are in the position with the upper hand.

Noctis knew he had the upper hand at this moment, and he smiled internally at the memory of Ignis desperately trying to impart knowledge to his pupil. He caught the man's eye across the room, and nodded slightly. Just enough. Ignis understood, and offered his hand in a move similar to a fast wrist-based dagger throw. Wait until he is on the edge of his temper, and then strike with a precise blow.

Noctis knew Bahamut wasn’t there. Yet.

 

The other Astrals were shifting, as if they had weight and substance to feel the passage of the moments, and just as Bahamut unfolded his arms, Noctis spoke, his voice ringing clearly through the room. “The blood price has been paid. Ardyn is dead.” Noctis steepled his fingers, closed his eyes, and began to count again.

The Accursed is not King.

Noctis opened his eyes, and when he did, they were a brilliant blue, glittering with magic. “Ardyn Lucis Caelum, First of his Line, Sole Sovereign and Honored Chosen.” The inward smile now crept coldly across Noctis’ lips. “You can deny. You can decree. You can swear until you’re blue in the face, for all I care, Bahamut, but the Crystal agrees with me.”

The stone in the Ring glittered, as if in echo of the young king’s words, casting scintillating light across the room, dancing across another figure now coming into the light.

 

 A lone king stepped forward, voice ringing clearly, though the words were old. “The young king is correct.” Regis, proud and tall as Noctis remembered him, though unearthly lit by the magic that had drawn him there.

He was joined by others, many of the Kings of Before moving to step forward in solidarity with he who was their blood, and Noctis’ smile grew colder.

“The blood that flows in my veins is not the blood of the Chosen, Bahamut. That was the blood of the Oracle and that line is dead. From Ardyn through to Lunafreya, that price is paid for all perpetuity. Only one remains of that line, and he, no Oracle, has sworn a vow of solitude to atone for his crimes. Personally, I hope he changes his mind, because Prompto thinks the kids would be adorable, but you'll get about as much say in it as I will. Wait, you'll get less.”

Silence reigned hand in hand with Noctis, and he sat back in the throne, rested his hands on the chair, and waited. There was an easy sense of power about the room, as if the dynamic had shifted, and the vast majority of those present approved and supported the change.

Hell, to Prompto, even some of the Astrals looked ready to stand with the Kings of Before, but they held their places and their tongues, allowing the silence to settle throughout the room. Ignis worked his jaw for a moment, and then allowed the smile to curve across his lips as he nodded to Gladio’s grunt of appreciation. Though he was yet uncrowned, Noctis had finally taken up the mantle of king.