"When our haven withers in the wind
And walls all beg to be abandoned
Blame the idol Eros
When the raven falls
And all his melodies all long to be forgotten
Blame the idol Eros"
—Late Night Alumni, "Eros"
It seems like I was able to meet you because of this power. Please come to Tenebrae if you have the time. I'll show you around.
Sounds good. I'll give it some thought.
Tonight was the night where destiny made its move. Stella knew that regardless of her being prepared, she would have to face him within seconds.
Her feet crunched against the moonlit pavement. Dust fluttered around her ebony boots as the roar of battle reverberated in the distance. She shivered as a light zephyr passed by her, but she wasn't sure if it was because she was cold or because of what would soon take place.
Stella dreaded the forthcoming events, for the fight that she had been reluctant to face was ominously approaching. Early on, she understood that this duel would eventually take place — she and Noctis fought for opposite sides of the same spectrum. She had accepted the fact that they were fated to fight, enemies from the start. She had already made her alliance clear, just as he had. There was nothing gray — either he went down, or she would, and Stella was not about to sacrifice her people because of a man who shared her destiny. Noctis wasn't exactly innocent either — being in a mafia-like family, ruling as a corrupt government gave him more experience in the bloody crimes that sometimes occured.
Still, no matter how many times Stella mentally prepared herself for this situation, her heart was never quite ready. An uneasy feeling stirred behind the emotionless yet sagely facade of hers. She was wise enough (probably too wise beyond her years) to realize how grave the situation was — how much it meant to her, how she was better off if she were more emotionally ready — but she wondered if she could really bring herself to hurt Noctis.
Stella closed her eyes. No, there was no time for hesitation. She had to be ready for this, whether or not she was delighted with the idea. She had already made the first step in realizing and accepting this fact a long time ago — now, she needed to make the next jump into carrying out these actions.
Tonight, one of them would remain victorious. One of them would survive.
So this is what it means when we're destined to die as soon as the Goddess Etro chooses us.
A rapid set of footsteps thundered in front of her, and before she knew it, he slid into her view, agile as always, with the skilled grace of an experienced soldier. Yet, unlike their previous encounters, his mannerisms were hard and cold like the crystal he was sworn to protect. A set of ruby eyes that bled indifference seemed to glare at her as he walked closer. Stella could tell by Noctis' hesitating advances that he was just as eager to fight as she was, but there was nothing else either of them could do. There was nothing more chilling than the scratching echoes his boots made with every tentative step.
Instinctively, she rushed forward, his name on the tip of her tongue, but caught herself just in time to remember that there was simply nothing to say. At times like this, should she even be calling his name so casually across the streets? It no longer seemed quite fitting to acknowledge him by his nickname, a sign of familiarity that Stella had grown accustomed to. Noctis' boiling red eyes seemed to intensify, and in response, Stella froze, swallowing any reconsideration of halting. It was a matter of time until either of them decided who would continue their legacy.
What would one say in this situation? An apology? No. There was nothing to apologize about. There was nothing more to say.
For a moment, Stella thought she could see a bit of Noctis' old self. Actually, she reconsidered, he hadn't changed very much from the last time they met if she surveyed his expression thoughtfully. Those piercing, ice-cold eyes still held a faint, childish shyness to them, an innocence he shielded with acerbity and charisma. He was still the Noctis she knew, and he didn't bother to hide it.
But even if he was still the Noctis she knew, that didn't change the fact that he was also still the Noctis she was supposed to defend herself against.
Light collected around them, cuing the attentive Stella on her next move. As soon as Noctis' crest shone behind him, she felt a burst of warm light behind her, knowing that her insignia had appeared as well. The follow-up actions were simply natural after that: summoning her rapier, Stella elegantly pointed her weapon at him as Noctis poised his blade with an expert swing. Shards of crystals and starlight seemed to rain around them. Time seemed to stand still.
There was no turning back now.
Even without words, Stella could hear the soft whispers of his heart just by watching his unsteady stance.
I don't want to fight you.
Neither do I. But nothing can be done about this. You've already chosen your side, and I mine. You need to accept this.
That's true. But... somehow, I wished everything could have happened differently.
Prince Noctis... Noct... Even if it did, it might not have changed the fact that we were chosen to fight.
Just as Stella was about to make the first strike, Noctis was one step ahead of her, determined eyes narrowed as he lunged forward, hastily jutting his blade forward in a stab. Surprisingly, for the lady, everything seemed easier as soon as their weapons made contact, a sharp, grinding clash ringing in her ears. Within seconds, she was able to forget Noctis as Noct, the shy boy who pretended he was cool, and visualize him as Prince Noctis, a threat to what she stood for. Within seconds, she was more worried about Noctis' next attacks instead of hurting him. Within seconds, the pain in her heart became dull and numb.
Within seconds, this battle would be over.