Chapter 1: Salvation
As Lunafreya walks, she clasps the ring and beseeches the gods to intervene for Nyx.
When he took the ring, he’d saved her again from an unwanted fate. But she wasn’t a fool, his hand with the fire was indeed wielding the magic from the ring. He’d been struggling a few moments before with the terrible fire under the skin, blistering and cracking. Being the Oracle, the gods gave her a vision of his path and the cruel deal the Guardians had made. Nyx had not wavered offering to give his life for the future of this world. Now it's her turn to give her all as she makes her way to Altissia with the ring for Noctis, following the flow of the refugees.
Heat grows in her hand as the power of the gods enters the world and then the ring through her.
Momentarily, she’s distracted as she wonders how the gods will work among the Guardians and former Kings of Lucis. Startling as she realizes she’s lost focus, she renews her prayers for the Glaive bodyguard that risked so much.
The ring is so hot now. It’s burning her hand, indicating the mighty battle in that dimension. Tears flow down her face as skin scorches and she can smell the awful odor of her flesh in contact with the sizzling metal. The burning is a focus point and a sacrifice, allowing her to keep her focus. Her pleading for Nyx’s life intensifies. She doesn’t fear the pain. But she does fear losing him, the single person on Eos that didn’t treat her as breakable – but seemed to respect her courage.
Unsure of how long she’s walked, she’s oblivious to those around her and the beams of the new day’s sunlight on her face. The current of mourning humanity drags her along and she's channeling the collective pain to the gods as her lips move in silence.
Insomnia City Center:
With the breaking of the dawn, Nyx and his traitorous former commander collapse in the ruins of Insomnia. The fire of the ring has almost completely consumed the Glaive and he watches the embers under his crackling skin. Damn it burns, but he’s never felt more alive or at peace. For once he saved her future. The tomorrow his little sister could have had. This time – he could be ‘enough’. Golden sunlight streams across his ashen broken skin and the glow underneath grows exponentially.
A satisfied chuckle escapes his mouth as he concludes, this is definitely the way to go – with a hell of a fight then a moment of serenity to reflect before his life is claimed. He doesn’t regret being the one to trade his life for a chance to be the hero one last time. It’s not like the guardians really cared he only had moments left before he put on the ring. When you’ve got a bullet in the gut, and a courageous crazy determined girl with a destiny about to put on a ring that may kill her – there’s no other option. He likely got a night more of life in the deal and was able to help keep her alive. A redemption of sorts. It’s the best a gutter rat from Galahd could expect.
The last thing he registers is that the finger that the ring had been on – seems to be burning the most now. Circles of black close in on his sight and he lets his consciousness dim to embrace the darkness.
Desperation fills her and she collapses to her knees, then to her hands. The one is still clinging to the white hot band. Putting all her remaining energy into her task, she’s unaware of those around her asking if she’s ok and then backing off as a ball of intense light starts to form around her small closed fist. It grows in size until she’s enveloped. Suddenly it retracts in on itself and the world goes white in an explosion of energy that doesn’t harm those around, rather like the effect of a sonic boom.
Insomnia City Center:
So very, very tired. He doesn’t want to open his eyes, but a force compels him. An annoyingly bright light overhead stabs at his open eyes. As consciousness returns, it begins to register that every muscle and bone in his body aches and he mentally curses -- he must be in hell. Even parts of him he never knew existed are killing him.
As his eyes adjust, a shimmering visage of the princess appears before him. “Intercession has been made. A miracle – not of magic – has been granted. Rise Nyx Ulrich. The gods have shown you favor today.”
Her image fades before his eyes, but not in his mind. Blinking, it plays over again in his head. A miracle?
He looks at the surrounding rubble and the body of his former commander. Evidently. Now, his life must be on loan, yet again. Damn. How many debts can one man pay?
A new face enters his vision, but it’s not nearly as pretty this time and a hand grasps his. “Nyx, you bastard – had to be the hero again, didn’t you?”
The cross between groan and chuckle hurts, but it’s worth it. When he catches his breath, he responds, “You’re one to speak, Libertus. A few more scars would actually improve your pathetic mug.”
“Such gratitude from the one I’ve been searching through hell and high water for! I thought you said you were gonna meet me outside of Insomnia! But man, talk about scars – you’ll have to look in a mirror," he jests as he hoists his friend to his feet.
“Change of plans," Nyx quips and looks down at his arms and cracks his neck. "More scars? Ah well, chicks dig ‘em.” At least the pain is fading. Then a pause. “Wait, where’s Luna?”
“Oh that. She dismissed me saying something about a destiny and went with those leaving the city.”
The fire of anger fills Nyx, “What? I gave you one little job and you left that danger magnet on her own? Damn it, Libertus!”
“I couldn’t argue with her, man. She's a royal!” Now his friend is indignant.
“Yeah. You just ignore them when you need to! Come on, you dumb ass! We gotta find her!” Nyx is off like a shot, despite his body screaming that he was dead just moments ago.
Chapter 2: Flight
A cool cloth being dabbed on her face is the first thing she registers. Then the fact that her head is in someone’s lap. Her eyes open to the moon roof showing the darkening sky above and she queries, “Where am I?”
“You’re awake!” the male in front of her answers excitedly. The voice rings a bell – but she can’t place it.
Then the mystery comforter looks down with a grin and she recognizes those eyes amid the plethora of scarring and dust. She gasps and bolts up, “Nyx!”
“Yes, Princess.” He narrowly dodges the collision of his chin with her head before adding, “And Libertus is driving.”
She swoons with the sudden movement and he gently eases her down to rest her head again. Brushing the hair out of her eyes, he soothes, “We’re headed down the coast to the southwest of Insomnia.”
“I have to go to Altissia,” she glumly replies.
“We need to keep you out of sight for now, Your Highness,” Nyx reasons.
“It’s part of my destiny, I have to be there soon. King Noctis is waiting for me to give him the ring,” she protests.
“He’ll wait,” Libertus adds.
She pulls away from Nyx and her voice is the biggest clue she’s non-plussed, “So, I'm being detained.”
“Detoured! But definitely not detained,” Nyx quickly backtracks. “I know better than to detain you, Princess.”
Only slightly mollified she leans on the other side of the car and sulks.
“Sounds like a story there, Hero. Do tell,” Nyx’s oldest friend nudges.
Nyx sighs. “Well, we'd been tasked with retrieving Her Highness, because she’d been kidnapped. And we only VERY narrowly escaped crashing, being shot, exploding and falling into the mouth of a kraken. We were happily flying along and she decides she wants to get out. She has a destiny to fulfill at that very moment. I told her to buckle up because it was about to get bumpy. With steely determination she says she doesn’t fear death. Then I say some trite remark, asking if she has wings.” Turning his attention and speaking directly to her now, he continues, “I’ll never forget what you said then, Princess. Do you remember?”
“I knew what you’d do.” Her voice is annoyingly smug.
He reasons she must be doing this to push is buttons for the delay. “Comforting,” he states tartly, then continues, “She said, ‘Not all miracles are made by magic. I do not fear death.’ and proceeds to bail out of a perfectly good ship!”
The car screeches to a halt and Nyx has to hold Luna from slamming into the seat. Freaking out, Libertus turns around, “You did what, Your Highness? That’s only the kind of thing Nyx would pull!”
Nyx continues, “What could I do? My charge was acting suicidal. So I threw my knife to teleport and push her to the roof of the spire.”
Libertus shakes his head and gets the car on the way. “Sounds like you have a bad case of hero in your blood too, Your Highness.”
Rolling her eyes, Luna counters, “I wasn’t suicidal, Nyx Ulrich. As I explained I have a destiny. But to help it sink into your skull, I know when and how I will die and it wasn’t that day…”
“She used your full name, you know what that means…” Libertus teases.
“I’d rather it was the more pleasant option, but the fates hate me so of course it means the other one,” Nyx laments.
Luna glares at him, then asks Libertus to explain.
He chuckles. “Your Highness, there’s a saying when someone uses your full name that you either know them well enough to kiss them, or you’re in serious trouble.
Nyx figures a little diversionary tactic couldn’t hurt. “So… Your highness, what do you mean by knowing the when and how of your death?”
“It was revealed to me. Every life span is limited. I just know the length of mine.”
“Kinda cryptic. Care to share?” Nyx tries to coax. He really does want to know.
She shrugs, looks out the window at the small town they’re driving through and snuggles into the corner farthest away from him.
“If we weren’t delaying her, we might get an answer,” Libertus bets.
Barely audible she mumbles to herself, “A captive for 12 years, what’s a little longer? Everyone seems to think they know what's the best for my own good.”
Putting a hand on her shoulder, Nyx reassures, “Your Highness, we aren’t keeping you captive. I promise. We’ll get you where you want to go, as soon as it’s safe.”
Wriggling out from his touch, she vents, “I don’t have the option of going where or doing what I choose! I never have, since Niflheim invaded! And duty always comes first!”
Libertus softly asks the obvious, “Then where do you want to go and what would you like to do in the mean time?”
“You’re serious?” she asks incredulously. He nods and Nyx adds his ascent.
“What would a normal person do at the beach we’re driving past? I always wanted to go to one.” There’s a real wistfulness in her voice – not ready to believe them.
“Depends on what you like, Princess. Some swim, some take in the sun, some would go fishing off the pier, some would collect shells.” Libertus pulls the car off the road as they pass the town to a mostly empty beach.
“All of it!” she almost pants with the desperation to do something for herself for once.
Nyx points out, “Swimming might be out since we don’t have clothes to change into and it’s cooling off. Not much sun left, but the moon is coming up and it’ll be full tonight – should be pretty over the water.”
“I’ll get you both some decent civies. So, you don’t look like you’ve walked out of a war zone,” Libertus offers and heads toward town.
“And some food, my stomach is trying to gnaw its way out. And I’d bet she’s even worse off,” Nyx requests. Turning to Luna he asks, “Anything in particular he should scare up for you?”
“Anything’s fine.” She shrugs.
Nyx takes out his knife and cuts the hood off his destroyed cloak, the only part of it that survived.
Handing it to Luna he offers before getting out to stretch, “You’ll need something to hold the shells.”
Smiling, she accepts and bounds out of the car, causing him to hustle. But she’s still a little wobbly, so he helps her maneuver over the rocks and driftwood.
“Go ahead and take off your shoes. The warm sand will feel great,” Nyx suggests.
“Only if you do too,” she demands hands on hips.
A curt bow, then he sits to remove his boots and dig his toes into the sand, before helping her up. In the fading light and glow of the moon, he points out some of the things that can be found. She insists on showing him every one of her treasures. By the time Libertus returns and snaps a picture of them, they’ve collected mussel shells, several colors of sea glass, one whole sand dollar that was hidden from the seagulls under some driftwood, small clam shells and a few conical ones. Libertus patiently admires each item, until his stomach growls and he gives Nyx a pleading look.
“Princess, we can have those strung for you. But maybe we should eat first,” Nyx coaxes.
“I brought fish and chips.” Libertus drops his shopping bags as he spreads out one of the blankets and retreives the grub.
“Any ale?” Nyx hopes with a lifted brow and helps pass out the food.
“Aye. Hopefully it’s tolerable. But I brought another option for the lady. Ever had root beer?”
Her head shakes shyly, but her eyes are wide with anticipation. “Can I try both?”
With an appraising look, Nyx warns, “Ale’s usually an acquired taste, but who are we to say you can’t?”
The guys try not to stare as she inhales her food, but they're too busy scarfing down and smart enough not to comment on a lady’s manners.
Libertus is the first to break the silence, with a full mouth he mentions, “I'm out of money. But I found some fishing tackle, so we’re good. We’ll just have to catch breakfast.”
Accepting the proffered ale from Nyx, Luna makes a terrible face and hands it back. “I was expecting an ‘acquired taste’ more like wine.”
Libertus snaps a picture. How many times does a princess get to make that expression?
Taking a swig, Nyx spits it out. “Lib, man – this is swill! No wonder she looked like she sucked on a lemon! Hand over the root beers!”
He has to react quickly as one is on a collision course with his head.
“Whiner. Ale was last on my list and I was low on funds.”
“Put it first next time," Nyx fusses.
“You’re buying then.”
Luna insists, “Anything has to be better than that stuff!”
“This’ll be, I promise,” Libertus looks contrite only to her and politely hands over an opened bottle.
After the first taste she licks her lips.
“I think she approves,” Nyx motions for Libertus to get a shot of her now too.
“Can I have a picture of you two?” she requests.
They shrug and hand the camera to her. Before Nyx can react, Libertus puts him in a headlock and rubs his knuckles in his hair just as Luna clicks the shutter and is in a fit of giggles.
“Hey! Watch it with the carefully sculpted ‘do” Nyx protests and tries to smooth his rumpled hair. No one has the heart to tell him, that there’s quite a few singed curly locks in there now.
Luna and Libertus roll their eyes, then Luna requests fishing off the pier. To their surprise, she's a quick learner and catches the first fish with the shared pole. But things go downhill from there, because she’s in tears – distraught over the idea that the fish will die. Nyx holds and comforts her, while Libertus releases the wiggling catch and sadly bids, “Goodbye breakfast.”
Goosebumps are forming on Luna’s skin and Libertus runs back to the car for the extra clothes, while Nyx and Luna collect wood for a bonfire.
“Hey Luna, catch!” The burly Glaive tosses her a dark hoodie, hat and jeans, then sets heavy socks, boots, and a small knife beside her.
Nyx catches his own hoodie and helps Luna cut off the remnants of the dress that peek out from under her bulky sweatshirt. “This will help hide you,” he remarks as he puts the ball cap on her head. “It’s a pity though. Too pretty to hide.”
She looks away, but pulls on her new boots and pockets the knife. They’re a little big and clunky, but she’s pleased as punch and tromps around in them.
“How’d you know what size she wears?” Nyx questions.
Looking down, Libertus answers sadly, “She’s about the same size as Crowe was.”
Nyx puts a hand on the big man’s shoulder.
“She was the one who tried to rescue me?” Luna asks and gets a nod in reply, then squeezes Libertus’ hand. “I’m so sorry.”
“She was like my little sister…” he trails off and fights back the threatening tears.
Redirecting the conversation, to try to spare his friend, Nyx opts, “Let’s get some shut eye. Princess, since we’re dealing with limited funds, is it ok if we crash in the car tonight? Lib and I will take turns on watch anyway.”
“We can’t sleep on the beach?” Her big pleading eyes reflect in the moonlight.
“If you really want. But have you seen that the beach comes alive at night with little crabs and creeping things. It’s hard to sleep on the ground with them crawling over you,” Nyx explains patiently. “In the car you’ll still hear the waves.”
She notices all the movement of little skittering creatures around them and nods understanding.
Chapter 3: The Girl is Still Heaps of Trouble
Jolting awake in an unfamiliar place, she realizes she’s in the back of the Audi sedan. Nyx is sprawled in the passenger seat, so Libertus must be on watch. She puts her hand over her heart to steady her breathing.
“You ok, Princess?” He half turns and opens one eye.
“Yes. Just wasn’t sure where I was. When I saw you, I knew I was safe.”
“You’re not saying you could get used to waking up to the sight of me, are you?” he teases offhanded, not expecting a reply. No one ever takes such things seriously.
To his surprise, she does. “I could…”
His head tilts and he does a double take. Coming to a conclusion, he confesses, “You’re a convincing tease. First the whole bit about no safer place, then this… You got me. But I know no one’s gonna want this scar covered mess. So you don’t have to humor me. Thanks anyway, Princess.”
When he gets the look and the crossing of the arms, he knows he should be back pedaling fast – but for some fate forsaken reason he can’t budge. He listens for the tapping of the foot, which would indicate his impending doom. When he hears her irritatedly say, “Nyx Ulrich…”, he gulps. Normally he’s pretty darn smooth around the ladies. But how the hell can she unnerve him with a look and two words?
Grabbing his face with both hands, she presses her lips to his so hard that it actually hurts. His free hand must have a mind of its own, because it reaches out to caress her cheek and his treacherous mouth returns her intensity.
When she finally pulls away, he slumps back into the bucket seat.
Out of breath, she asks, “Believe me now?”
A funeral dirge plays in his head as he mentally notes, ‘Noctis is gonna kill me…’
He must have accidentally voiced part of it because she flops back into her own seat and pouts, “You aren’t taking me seriously! I had hoped at least you would. But no one ever does! I’m just the princess to be moved around on the chess board.”
Trying to get his heart to calm down, he pants, “Oh I am, Princess. I should be running like hell right now.”
“Why?” Somehow she uses that question as an accusation, as if he might find something wrong with her. But the problem is she’s so right, so perfect, and he’ll NEVER be able to have her. Just stop thinking, Nyx. It gets you in trouble. Every. Single. Time.
He sighs and hits the car door in frustration, leaving a dent. He can't just refuse to answer her, it’s so rude. And she’s been treated like a pawn since Niflheim invaded. “Because I don’t belong in your world. I’m just a gutter rat from Galahd. And you’re royalty off to marry the new King.”
“Marriage was part of the treaty bargain – but the treaty wasn’t signed. My mission is to deliver the ring.” Then, it dawns on her, “Though, the prophecy says the King and the Oracle stand together as one.” Her mood grows dark. “Everything in my life is decided for me! Duty first every single damn day!” she rages.
He realizes, she actually swore. What did it take to rattle her cage that much? But understanding the call of duty, he faces her again. “I’d change that for you if I could. But I can’t, Princess.”
Voice tight with emotion, she demands, “Stop calling me, Princess! I have a name!” Taking a breath to regain her composure, she adds, “Call me Lu, no one will recognize that.”
“O…K… Lu,” he says slowly, feeling like he’s walking on eggshells. “What, besides hurt, could come of this?”
“Happy memories, like we made last night. I’ve had so few. And the knowledge I had the chance to love the one person I choose, at least for a little while.” She sniffles. “I know it’s selfish.”
“Is it? When as you’ve said – you’ve had so little happiness.” He can’t believe that popped out of his mouth. Why don’t the filters work for him… ever? Yeah, he sympathizes her plight. But with that statement, he’s giving her hope and it’ll only be squashed again here in a minute.
Click. The doors unlock and the car remote starts. Libertus is booking it towards them. Nyx doubtfully asks, “You gonna buckle up this time, Lu?”
Libertus opens the door and slides into the seat, huffing for breath. “Have you two seen the sunrise?”
Nyx does a face palm, “That’s why you were running back at breakneck speed?”
Taking his friend’s chin in his hand, he forces Nyx to look at the spectacle to his left. “You’re gonna miss it, you dolt!”
The small band of clear where the sun is coming up, leaves an opening for the sun’s rays to hit the cloudbank. Nyx wonders if the sky is on fire after the trauma of the previous days, or an ominous warning about the impetuous princess. A sinking feeling in his gut says the latter.
“Red sky at morning and all…” Libertus starts the ignition. Best to go back to town and head to higher ground.”
Nyx peeks at Luna before buckling up. She’s enraptured with the scene and whispers, “So lovely…”
His brain must be completely addled from the previous experience because he hears himself say, “Not as lovely as you,” and means every word. Does this indicate he’s agreed to go along with her on this for the short time they have?
It earns him a smack upside the head from Libertus. “First rule of the Glaive, Nyx! What is it?!?”
“Ow! Lib – knock it off!” Nyx protests.
“First rule of the Glaive! Now, Hero!”
He rolls his eyes and huffs. “Don’t mess with the royals. Yeah, yeah. It was drilled into me.”
“Obviously not! Stop messing with the princess’ head!”
Luna interrupts with indignation. “He-llo! The aforementioned royal is here, right behind you two! Stop speaking about me! It was the royal doing the messing with him, after his quip about me getting used to waking up and seeing his face!”
The breaks slam, sending Luna into Nyx’s seat and Libertus gives Nyx the dirtiest look he’s ever given anyone before apologizing to Luna. “I…I’m sorry Your Highness. Are you ok?”
Rubbing her cheek and stretching her neck, she takes her seat and finally puts on her seatbelt. "Been better. But I’ll be ok.”
Like a broken record, Libertus keeps repeating that he’s sorry. She’s been hurt and it’s his fault.
Nyx flips the head rest back and crawls over the seat. He gently pulls her hand from her face, and examines the damage. “There’ll be a bruise. What about your neck?”
“There’s a crick in it, but I’ll get it worked out,” she fusses mildly as he gently works her head back and forth – attempting to check for broken spots.
“Lib, get us to town so we can get Lu an icepack.”
“Oh it’s Lu now, is it?” Libertus fumes. “What else happened while I was on watch?”
Luna frumps, but holds Nyx’s hand defiantly. “I told him to call me that. We can’t have you two calling me by my title or actual name, now can we?”
“Did he do anything to you?” the protective hulking man asks, unsure if he wants to know as he resumes the drive to town.
“Besides return my kiss? Nothing.” she gives Libertus the glare as she sees him peek back in the mirror. “Do not concern yourself. I will remain pure for my wedding.”
“Shit. Nyx, you know you’re as good as dead…”
“Been dead once already this week, Lib. And it was to save Lu and the future of our world. I’m not new to being a dead man. Though twice in such a short time will be a record, I suspect,” he acknowledges the point, but there’s darn good reasons for everything he’s done so far.
The silence in the car becomes palpable, and Nyx’s conscience gets the better of him. “Lib… look…She’s been so…"
“I don’t even want to hear it. There’s no words to tell you how miffed I am… At least ones that wouldn’t severely offend the lady’s sensibilities…” Libertus cuts him off.
Strong winds come off the sea and heavy rain starts without warning, making Libertus’ mood even more foul. But Luna defiantly rests her head on Nyx’s shoulder. Nyx just puts his own head back against the seat in defeat and mumbles about some wars you can’t win.
When they reach town, Libertus has the weather station playing and finds an inn. He forces Nyx to be the one to brave the storm and go in to check for a vacancy. He’ll be darned if he leaves the two alone again.
Putting up his hood to protect his face, Nyx takes a quick look around to scan the perimeter. Brightly colored carts and chocobos are rounded in a circle. He shakes his head and mutters, “Great. Gypsies.”
Stomping back to the car and slamming it as he gets into the shotgun spot. “Inn’s full.”
A knock sounds on their window.
The trio looks up to see a wrinkled, eccentric old lady wrapped in blankets fighting her umbrella in the wind. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Luna shaking her head as if to clear it.
“We need to go with her,” she states matter of fact.
“With a gypsy?” Nyx’s doubt is tinged with thoughts of making sure nothing is missing after this encounter.
“Yes. And she is Romani. Gypsy is a slur,” she corrects as she starts to get out.
“Come, dear one. You and your companions. I foresaw your coming,” she coaxes in a thick accent and puts the umbrella over the princess.
Libertus protests, but Nyx shakes his head no. “Remember, it’s best to just follow her lead.”
Chapter 4: Simza the Seer
Inside her little cart, they can hear the wind howling even louder than it did in the car. But it’s warm and dry, and the little old lady is pouring tea by the time the guys enter and hear Luna thanking her for taking them in.
Somehow, she finds seats for them all in the crowded tiny home and introduces herself as Simza, then lets them know the storm will pass soon and the tribe will be moving toward Altissia soon.
Luna looks at Nyx, with a tinge of regret and asks if Simza can read her palm. Simza consents, takes the proffered hand and moves her fingers to relax them. Gasping, dropping Luna’s hand as if it’s a hot potato, and clutching her chest, she exclaims, “She comes to me… What have I done to deserve such a visitation?”
After gathering her composure, Simza then chides, “Child you know better. You know who you are. So, why do you ask this of me?”
“Lu?” Nyx asks protectively. Then his curiosity piques, “Who do you think she is, Madame Simza?”
“Let me see your hand boy,” she commands.
Giving an exasperated sigh, he complies. What’s with all this fortune telling mumbo jumbo? And why can’t he get a straight answer?
“Ah, yes. The life line is interrupted here with this large crackled scar, which represents death and uncertainty. But if your hand heals correctly it will continue strong after for a new life and change of purpose.” She traces the burn on his left ring finger - obviously noting it, but says nothing about that particular aspect. “And the line of the heart… wait a minute...” She turns back to Luna. “Dear one, let me see your palm again – the other hand, please.”
Simza covers her mouth as she sees the scars on Luna’s hand and traces the line. “Child, your scar is in the same place, but it was clearly a burn that interrupted your heart line. You are the prophesied one, yet something is different this cycle.” She gestures to Nyx, still speaking to Luna, “You are connected to this one. Most unusual. If I recall, there’s something about the Seven of Sevens, but I will have to consult the prophecy…”
Libertus interrupts, “Madame Simza. What in the world are you talking about?”
Still only acknowledging Luna, she deduces, “They don’t know, do they?"
Luna deflates, “No.”
On queue, the guys ask, “Know what?”
Nyx continues and puts a hand on her shoulder, “Lu, you can tell us. We’re here for you.”
Closing her eyes, fighting back tears, and flopping her head back against the wall, she confides, “She means, I am the Oracle. That's my destiny. The Oracle and the King always stand together against the tide of darkness that threatens to overtake Eos… And that is why I have to marry Noctis.”
Simza is patting her hand, “There, there, dear one. After the storm, we’ll shoo these young bucks out and get you cleaned up and ready to face the day. Then you can tell old Simza the weight of your heart.”
“We won’t be leaving her side, Madame,” Nyx insists and Libertus nods agreement.
“You two can stand guard outside. But I can smell you all and my nose isn’t what it used to be. If you’re staying with me, into the bath you will all go! And for this dear one’s sake – not all at once!” Simza commands authoritatively.
Nyx, taking his cue from the now compliant Luna, shakes his head. What’s with her going back and forth from demanding and authoritative to doing whatever others say in the blink of an eye?
Half an hour later, Nyx and Libertus find themselves booted outside and told to fetch more wood for the fire to keep Luna’s bath nice and hot. They overhear snippets of the conversation. Bits about her captivity, her relationship with Noctis, the betrayal and fall of Insomnia, and Nyx constantly rescuing her. This is a point Simza seems most interested in and their voices go to a whisper, much to the guys’ consternation.
Inside, as Simza pours more hot water into the wash basin tub, she murmurs to Luna, “Now child – tell me of this Nyx Ulrich.”
“Well, he’s the Glaive assigned to protect me. In the past few days he and I have grown close because he’s rescued me more times than I can count. He’s impetuous and determined, like me. I knew without a doubt that when I jumped out of the airship, he’d follow – swearing all the way. The last thing he did was to use magic to save me from being hit by General Glauca’s sword and sent me away to safety.”
“But did he wear the ring?” Simza presses.
Luna had been hesitant to talk about that part. Only Nyx and Libertus knew she had the ring.
Simza sees the hesitation. “I ask because of the burn on his hand and the scar in his lifeline. Do not tell old Simza of where it is now, I beg of you. I am only a seer and need to know this to consult the texts.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Luna chooses to answer, “Yes.”
“So he was found worthy…intriguing and unexpected,” Simza remarks.
“Uhm…no. That’s the strange part, Simza. I know he was initially rejected because he’s not of royal blood. But there was a deal made – he had to trade his life for use of the power to save me. The gods told me there was no hesitation and he gave his all in the fight that lasted the whole night. His sacrifice is the reason when I prayed, the gods chose to save him.” Luna’s face is distraught, thinking of what Nyx went through for her and for all of Eos.
“Oh child, it is good he is selfless. He will need to be, if I am right.”
“But he’s such a tease too!” Luna shares, and it causes both of them to laugh heartily.
The guys hear the giggling, then look at each other. Libertus shrugs and Nyx rolls his eyes. The last word they heard was Nyx’s name, and what about him could be so hilarious? Ugh, women!
Simza hollers for more firewood. When Nyx lingers with the delivery trying to see if Luna’s ok she gives him a swat on the head with her kettle towel and sends him off.
Still in hushed mode, the old lady continues. “Now Simza will just be a nosey old woman. Answer if you will. Do you love him?”
Luna tries to sink into the tiny tub, but there’s just not enough room – so she hides her face behind her washcloth.
“I thought so. And he is so protective of you. Does he return the feelings?” She hands Luna a towel.
Luna spreads her hands noncommittally, “I don’t know for sure. He seemed to enjoy the one kiss I’ve given him. And he knows I want to make a few memories before the wedding.”
Seeing Simza’s motherly eye, Luna quickly clarifies, “Not that kind! I promise! I’ve just been so sheltered and held back these last twelve years, and since we needed to take a detour I want to do a few things I’ve not done before. The guys were so sweet yesterday. They showed me how to fish – and released our catch when I cried for the poor creature, gave me a picnic, and took me seashell hunting! And selfishly, I want a few days where I can be in love and have a boyfriend… like a normal young lady. But he told me I wasn’t being selfish, can you believe that, Simza?”
As she hands Luna her clothes, Simza probes, “I see. But child, have you considered what it will do to him?”
“He knows, and I appreciate that he’s humoring me. We know it’s going to hurt later, and I’ll be sad about that. But for now – oh it’s a lovely feeling! While we were on the run, he held my hand almost constantly. And I took his hand when I thought we were about to die. I’ve not been so close with anyone, since Niflheim invaded my home.”
“Young love is a wonderful thing, that’s for sure, dear… If you’re dressed, should we let the gentlemen in? Your protector in particular needs to be assured you are safe. Then I’ll be happy to do your hair if you need assistance.”
“Yes, please… to both!”
Chapter 5: Into Hiding
By the time the Glaives are allowed back in, their stomachs are growling. Libertus had run across the street to the store while they waited, so the group is able to treat Simza for taking them in. She’s particularly fond of the peach pastries and Nyx offers her his.
The guys don’t get warm baths because storm clouds are rolling back in. The fussing and curses from each of them on their turns, about how cold the creek water is, makes Luna smile.
Rumbling from down the coast draws all eyes to the sky. Simza instantly barks orders, “Milosh! These young ones need a place to hide their vehicle!”
A middle aged man with a flat brimmed hat nods and runs to open one of his carts.
Simza hisses to Libertus, “Quickly!” and the Glaive hobbles off as fast as his limp will allow.
“Now you two, into the storage under the bed. Your friend will be well hidden in Milosh’s cart with his family. He resembles that clan.”
As she tucks the pair into the small space, she warns, “It may get a bit bumpy. We always move when Niflheim’s troops arrive. No matter what, stay quiet. We often get hassled, but we Romani find our way out somehow.”
Nyx, feels guilty now for his internal comments before about the Romani and nods his thanks. Hesitant to go into the tiny hiding spot, Luna gives Nyx a pleading look and her skin has gone palid. Taking her hand, he helps her in. “We’ll be ok, Lu. There’s nowhere else to go.”
Nyx holds her tight in the dark cramped space. Despite not being able to see, he’s acutely aware she’s there with her shoulder to his chest. But his mind isn’t on the usual things when a couple is alone in the dark. She’s shaking. The girl who bounds out into thin air, unafraid of death, is trembling. What didn’t she tell him?
He traces a message on the back of her hand, “Lu, what’s wrong?”
“Small space. Trapped,” she writes back in a quick staccato.
Damn. She’s claustrophobic. To distract her, he tries to get her to think beyond the current circumstance. He messages, “What do you want to do when we’re out?”
A long pause, so he presses again. “Would you like to try smores? They’re chocolate and marshmallow melted on graham crackers.”
“Anything else you’d like to do before we get you to Altissia? I could teach you how to shoot...”
“Sure…” She holds his hands to let him know she’s thinking and will give another reply. A moment later she gives her request. “Kiss me.”
Oh shit. “Now?” He’d give her the world if it would help distract her. But why this? Sure he’d like to, but wouldn’t she like to wait for a better time?
His heart is racing a million miles an hour and a whirlwind of feelings and insane thoughts scream through his mind – running the gamut from ‘by the fates he’d better not get caught doing this’, to ‘why do the fates hate him so much – it’s gonna hurt all the more later when she says good bye’, to ‘what in the heck does a royal see in him anyway?’, to ‘this has to be the most awkward thing he’s ever done’ as he tries to maneuver the short distance to her face. But, here goes nothing…
Hand connecting with her face, he traces her velvet lips – so he has some idea of where she’s at as she turns her head to face him. At least she’s stopped shaking. It’s so hard to move and be quiet in this miniscule storage stow. His head scrapes the wooden top and he scrunches his eyes shut against the pain, intent on his mission. Feeling her breath warm on his face, he homes in on her mouth and electricity shoots through him upon contact.
At that moment, the door opens and they can hear the tromp of boots.
Constantly fidgeting, Libertus seems to get more worked up as time passes. Milosh’s wife comforts, “Do not worry yourself over your friends. They are with the slyest fox of the tribe. She’ll outsmart any of those searchers. Soon you will see them. It is the way of things.”
They can’t risk moving, but they’re still joined at the mouth. Nyx notes this is definitely the most indelicate moment of his existence. He’s cursed - that’s all there is to it. At least she’s not struggling. Too bad they can’t continue to kiss and enjoy the moment, instead of simply touching lips – struggling to listen and afraid to even exhale.
As they hear all the cupboards being opened and things being rifled through, it’s starting to get really hard for Nyx to hold this position. His neck muscles are cramping. But if he moves, his head will hit the top again and give them away.
Hearing steps away and the door closing, he finally is free to move. But she engages the kiss again, and it stops him in his tracks. Now converted to helpless fool, he returns the tenderness. She doesn’t let up and won’t let him go.
When they hear Simza muttering outside, she finally breaks off and signs on his hand, “Still taking requests?”
“I don’t dare.” He ends their conversation by pulling her hand to his lips.
Eventually the encampment gets underway and Libertus sees the couple emerge from Simza’s cart – stretching and cracking their necks as they walk along.
Hobbling over, he asks, “Where were you two? Milosh practically had to have his whole family sit on me when the guards entered Simza’s wagon!”
With one last twist of his head, Nyx answers, “Storage under the bed. Man, was it cramped!”
“He was a gentleman, I trust,” Libertus lifts an eyebrow in Luna’s direction.
A blush covers her face, but she nods.
“Lib, she hates small spaces. I distracted her with notes written on the hand – like we used to do as kids,” Nyx fills in quickly before his friend jumps to conclusions.
Libertus’ expression hardens in severe disbelief over her reaction, “Then why is her face red?”
“Listen. I had to keep her mind off the situation. Some of the things we said were crazy. Believe it or not, she said the most shocking one. It really caught me off guard!”
Her nod is more emphatic this time.
“Then what was it?” Libertus presses.
“Sorry, man.” Nyx pats his friend’s shoulder. “Would’ve had to be there.” Turning to Luna he asks, “Should we help with lunch?” and the two make a hasty retreat back into the cart, leaving Libertus still suspicious.
The trio travels with the tribe for several days until they reach the ferry to Altissia. Along the way Nyx does indeed train Luna to shoot, with the reasoning that she should be able to defend herself. As she’s said to him, she’s not a piece of fine china. In his eyes, seeing her using a weapon is when she’s the most beautiful. Libertus shares cooking skills with her. And she teaches the guys how to dance one of the traditional regional dances. All the men vie to dance with her at the evening bonfires. And she amazes everyone with her perfect soprano voice. Having the time of her life, Luna takes pictures to remember all the special moments.
Libertus and Simza – now confiding in each other and taking it upon themselves to ensure The Oracle does indeed remain pure - watch the couple like hawks. Though all they are ever able to catch is Luna slipping her hand into Nyx’s, they suspect a quickly growing attachment. On the other hand, the cheerful hulking Glaive seems to have a few admirers himself.
Wanting to read the prophecies, since she’s seen an aberration in the pattern, Simza joins the group on the Ferry to Altissia. She’ll catch up with her people in their summer encampment.
Chapter 6: Altissia
Upon arrival at Altissia – known as Sanctuary of the Gods, Simza wishes them luck as she heads to the temple.
During the trip across town, dread creeps in and Luna is very clingy. Much to Libertus’ consternation, Nyx does nothing to discourage her. He reasons they’ll both have to deal with reality later. Let them have a few more moments in this dream, for her sake.
Driving up to the meeting place, her arm is around Nyx’s chest and he’s holding her in return. Libertus just shakes his head. These two are a lost cause, seeming to want to run head long into heartache and trouble. He’ll have to help with the mess, yet again. Nyx does the physical saving, Libertus is the emotional cleanup crew. Why should he have expected it would be any different this time?
He announces, “We’re a block away now.”
Luna whispers as she watches Nyx in the fading light, “Thank you. For everything. I’ll never forget what you and Lib have done for me.” Kissing the top of her head, he can’t bring himself to speak as she scoots over to the seat by the door. His mind dredges up memories of when he protected her and when he sacrificed himself, by putting on the Ring of the Lucii.
As they pull up to the brightly lit ornate plaza, she’s still holding his hand. He has to be the one to break the connection to let her out of the car, and feels the loss keenly.
The small royal entourage greets Luna, and she’s whisked off arm in arm by Noctis, with the Glaives in tow.
“I feel like we just gave her away at the wedding,” Libertus glumly mumbles.
Nyx gives a dismal shrug and lets the silence speak for him. He has no words for how much this sucks as he watches her interact with her fiancé king.
In the small room next to the royal chambers, the five remaining Glaives catch up and toast each other’s survival and remember those lost.
When the topic switches to the princess, Prompto opens his big mouth, “I heard she’s been friends with Noct since they were kids. But she’s temperamental. Do you think she’ll be good for him?”
Nyx stiffens visibly and Libertus challenges, “Shut your mouth, Prompto. She’s about to become your queen.”
The youngest of the group is unable to stop himself. “But I heard she’s spoiled rotten! That she would go around making demands of her brother!”
Shoving the table and pinning Prompto as he’s pushed. His chair tips over with a clatter. Nyx demands in a low steely voice, “Take your words back. Right. Now.”
Picking himself up, Prompto caves, “Alright, alright! Got it, man. You don’t have to go overboard… Unless… Nah, couldn’t be.”
Ignis steps in, “He’s right Prompt, it’s time you knocked it off. She is our King’s bride to be. Absolutely no trash talk.”
Feeling the need to set his comrade straight, Nyx adds, “From being around her the last few weeks, I can tell you she’s only mad when she’s dealing with an injustice. And she’s had to face plenty from her brother who used her as a pawn. She’s a woman of great character and strength. And don’t ever try to tell her what to do, if she’s on a mission she’ll damned well go with or without your permission.”
Meekly, Prompto replies, “So noted.”
Nyx, takes a tankard and heads to his room, slamming the door. Still too riled up to sleep, he looks through the pictures on his phone.
Sleep didn’t come to him last night, he only tossed and turned. Groggily, he gives up trying, freshens up and pulls on his boots. Stopping in the kitchen he grabs a mug of coffee and a pastry.
In a few hours, he’s supposed to swear fealty to the new king. He was thrilled and honored to do so for King Regis. But how can he serve the man that will marry Luna? By the fates, did he actually fall for her? If so, when was it? He munches disconsolately as he reviews the time in her presence.
Libertus, leans against the wall next to him feeding his own sadness too. “Nyx, how you holdin’ up?”
“Shitty. Do you have to remind me?” Nyx grumbles.
“Figured so.” Lib holds up a donut and shakes it at his friend, “Listen. I need to know if you’re gonna do it. Are you gonna swear fealty?”
“How can I not? Sure, I can still fight, but I’ll try to rely on the magic I no longer have and it’ll go to hell from there. I’ve not felt like myself without it. They never warned it’s addictive.” He downs the rest of his coffee.
“Only for a Hero,” Lib gives him a playful shove.
He returns it, “Shut up, man.”
Meanwhile in the temple vaults, Simza and her guide are pouring over the prophecies on the Oracle by candlelight. They’ve been at their research all night. She’s gone through the shortest ones. Alas no luck there. Darned if she doesn’t have to go through the ridiculously long, obscure one with the practically illegible handwriting.
The makeshift throne room pales in comparison to the one he’d been first sworn in at in Insomnia. But the old castle is no more. Just like Nyx and Libertus’ old life, Nyx contemplates as the two companions kneel before their new king.
He looks so young with his fresh face and mop of black hair, Nyx wonders if Regis ever had dark hair like that? It’s odd he’ll be serving such a young king.
Libertus is sworn in first, and given the first flame of his induction into the Glaive under the new rule. His pleasure at the return of his power is almost palpable – though Nyx knows he's less than thrilled with the mode of transport favored by the Glaives. Using magic can be tough on a body.
When it’s Nyx’s turn, King Noctis pauses, then opts to say what’s on his mind. “You were with my father in his last moments?”
“Did he say anything to you?”
Pausing for thought, to be sure he gets it accurate, he responds, “He asked me, man to man, to watch over the Princess and bring her to you safely so she could give you the ring. That you were waiting here for her, and that you as the King are the future of the world. He put up a shield and sacrificed himself to save her and the ring.”
A somber silence, then a hushed, “Thank you.”
Swearing allegiance to this new sovereign isn’t as hard as Nyx had anticipated. He feels whole again with the magical power flowing through him - the magical scars pulse red hot in the familiar burn, then cool and the smoke dissipates. It’s the assignment afterward that hits him like a ton of bricks.
“Princess Lunafreya has requested the two of you be her royal guards. Considering you know she’s the Oracle and that she and I will be standing together against the forces of darkness soon, it would ease my mind to know she will have two capable and trustworthy Glaves by her side,” Noctis formally offers.
Nyx freezes. One does not refuse an offer from the King. It’s an incredible honor. But his conscience gets the better of him and his mouth opens to speak on its own. “Your Majesty. I am truly honored. But there is something you should consider before placing me in this position.”
His head hangs. “Sire. I…” Biting his lip to keep control, he plunges on – even if it spells doom. “I love her.” If dropped, a pin would be heard landing on the carpeted floor.
Noctis blinks, then puts a hand on Nyx’s shoulder. “And yet you swore fealty to me?”
Shaking his head, a small smirk appears on his face. “I need honesty and integrity like that, Ulrich. Glaives who will do what’s right, no matter what. And I suspect the whole country will be joining you in swooning in her wake." He sighs, "Ig, suggestions?”
“Glad, you up for it?”
Libertus and Nyx both breathe a huge sigh of relief, though they can’t help but notice Prompto picking his jaw up off the floor.
Dismissing them, the king commands as he stands and heads toward his quarters, “Ulrich, with me.”
In the hall, Noctis confides, “You do know that the Princess and I have been the closest of family friends since we were infants.”
“And that we will not marry for love, but for the prophecy.”
Nyx volunteers, “I am, Your Majesty.”
The guardedness leaves Noctis’ face now that the ‘secret’ is out. “Considering what we face, she’ll need those that can be there for her. If in time, you are able to consider it, I would be appreciative. She and I will always stand together. But she will need someone to lean on, over time. Do you understand what I’m asking?”
Extreme wariness is evident in Nyx’s eyes. “Not entirely, Sire.”
“Let me know when you are ready to speak on these things. That is all for now.” Noctis retires, leaving Nyx standing there quite confused.
Two days to the wedding and there’s nothing Noctis can do for his bride. She’s in quiet despair because the guard she wanted will not attend her and she feels particularly slighted. Explaining the honor with which Nyx refused the position, doesn’t bring comfort.
Going against his better judgement, Noctis tells her that Nyx loves her, and that’s when the tears start.
She finally understands that even the indomitable Nyx Ulrich can only take so much -- he can’t be close and watch her be with another. It makes her feel like such a fool, and yet she cherishes the time she did have with him all the more.
Now that they’re at an understanding, Noctis shares the offer he made for Nyx when the Glaive is ready.
Taking comfort in that thought, she hugs Noctis. He’s doing all he can for her, despite the discomfort it must cause him to speak with another man who loves his bride to be.
Simza retires to sleep after a frustrating and fruitless night of searching. She wonders how her trio of young friends is faring, hopefully better than she is. Something keeps niggling in the back of her mind about young Ulrich and the Seven of Sevens.
Chapter 7: Evening Before the Wedding
Off duty, Nyx checks out the nightlife in Altissia. Too bad Lib couldn’t come with him. But with only five Glaives, there’s no way to get time off together.
Stopping in front of the Age of Aquarius Bar and hearing the loud cheerful music, he reasons this one is as good as any and heads in. The barkeep is quick to serve him a pint and he watches the happy crowd dancing to the heavy bass beat.
He catches a blonde girl, who vaguely reminds him of the princess, watching from across the room and raises his tankard to her. Could be interesting.
Back in the vaults
Simza shouts with glee, “Ha! We found it Brother Portus!” Pointing to the chicken scratch passage, she reads aloud.
The time shall come to pass, when the Seventh King and the Seventh Oracle in the Seventh Cycle of the Ages shall face the darkness that threatens to envelop the world. The two together are Salvation. Should the Oracle’s link be broken with the old King in their flight, an aberration will interrupt the Seventh Cycle and a third – the Champion will be required to aid in holding back the night.
Behold, the chaos star will appear and strengthen the darkness and the gods will have difficulty hearing the voice of the Oracle. In this cycle, the Champion, who is pure of heart and wields the King’s magic, will stand with the King and the Oracle – allowing the Oracle to voice her pleas for the world. The Oracle will lean on the Champion and he will be hers alone, and the King will place his trust in the Champion. But take heed, the Prophet must warn the Champion, lest the Champion succumb to temptation and is unable to stand with the Salvation. Then the Oracle will fall, all will be lost, and darkness shall overtake the world.
These words are an accounting of the vision given to Charan the Seer in the Six Cycle of the First Age.
Handing the monk quill and parchment, she pleads, “Make haste, Brother! Copy this passage down. I must get it to the King!”
Temporary Royal Residence
Barging into the royal chambers, Prompto shouts, “Sire! Our spies have intercepted communications from a Niflheim vessel! They’re advancing on Altissia! We must get you and the Princess to safety! Oh, and there’s an old beggar woman by the name of Simza who insists she knows the Princess and seeks an immediate audience with Your Majesty.”
Noctis wipes his hand over his worn face. The past few days have been rough: his queen to be doesn’t want him as a husband – despite her best efforts to hide it, he wants his bride – his dearest childhood friend - to be happy and he can’t give her what she wants, one of his most loyal is in love with his bride, his father is gone, his kingdom is in ruins, the power of the ring is taking a heavier toll on him than he’d expected - a dark force his father never mentioned, Niflheim continues to hunt him – and now it appears they’ve found him. Heavy indeed is the crown.
Tired eyes meet the Glaive’s gaze. In a resolved voice, Noctis gives the order, “Very well, activate the Glaive. Her Highness spoke of this woman, bring her with us.”
Age of Aquarius Bar
The blonde motions for Nyx to join her on the dance floor. Taking a last swig of his drink, he figures heck, he’s got nothing to lose.
A few dances later, she’s in his arms and remarks, “Hey, you’re a million miles away.”
“Sorry, Julia. Been a rough couple of weeks.”
“Wanna talk about it?” She puts a hand on his cheek.
“Not really. The girl I love is getting married to someone else,” he states flatly and shrugs it off.
Her fingers entangle the hair at the back of his neck, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear it. Can I distract you?”
He smiles. “Yeah... I think you could.”
“My place isn’t far...”
Checking his phone quickly for any messages then pocketing it, he follows.
The royal couple is ushered to the waiting airship, as Simza fills them in on the prophecy before take off. The old woman refuses to go along, stating she’s done her job and she’ll just be in the way now.
Frantically, Luna searches for Nyx. Ignis notes Ulrich isn’t answering the call and pulls up the last coordinates. To Libertus, Noctis tilts his head indicating he should take care of this.
Steeling himself for the task, he mumbles out of hearing range, “I ain't got the stomach for this crap” He sets his jaw, tries to loosen up his body for the fall and chucks his dagger out the cargo door. Three throws later he slams to the ground, tosses his cookies, wipes his mouth, and takes off running and transporting to the location.
Meanwhile, the royal airship is fleeing, with a Niflheim corsair hot on its tail. Noctis straps his sword on, and hands Luna a holstered pistol and several clips. Sliding the shoulder holster over her jacket, Luna takes on her holy task of intercession. As she prays, the scars on her hand glow and start burning again.
Julia’s apartment complex
Panting and tromping down the hallways, Libertus swears under his breath. If they survive this, he’s gonna kill Nyx. Why isn’t he answering the call?
He pounds on the door. Shouting is hard, but he uses his diaphragm to force out the most sound, “Nyx! The Glaive’s been activated!”
Protests from a female voice can be heard as Nyx responds, “I’ve got to go!”
“Nyx, Lu’s in trouble! They’re fleeing the city to the north in the Royal Clipper.” Lib begs, then hears Nyx’s protests to ‘stop it’. Deciding he can’t wait, the gentle giant’s shoulder makes impact with the door. It takes several attempts and he hears a crunch in his collar bone and the wood, and he scrunches his eyes closed against the pain. Breathlessly, he barrels in and tosses the dagger set to his friend with his good arm. “She won’t make it without you, man! It’s in the prophecy! Go!”
Shirt half unbuttoned, Nyx is off in a flash.
The evacuees can hear the boarding party’s quick pace, and Noctis draws his sword ready to fight. Luna follows suit and continues pleading with the gods.
On the ground
Nyx sees a clump of airships in the distance. His lips purse and his expression hardens. How in the hell is he gonna make it? Whispering to the universe in general to let him get there in time, he throws his dagger in that direction and transports.
Fully prepared to throw again, and again, he finds himself about to collide with the royal transport docked with a Niflheim ship. Luna’s remark about how not all miracles happen through magic pops into his head as he slams is dagger into the hull.
The cargo hatch opens behind him and he pries the knife out and throws his other before he falls too far. Another throw has him landing with a thud onto the hatch. He sees Noctis and Luna booking it right for him with the three other Glaives giving them cover.
Meanwhile – back at Julia’s apartment
Seeing Nyx’s phone on the floor, Libertus picks it up and notices – there’s no signal to it. Then he sees the dragon tattoo – the symbol of King Iedolas - on the inside of the girl’s wrist, and it clicks. He demands, “Where’s the signal blocker, Niff spy?”
She stops in her tracks, but plays coy, “What are you talking about you idiot Glaive?”
This witch set a trap for his best friend. He’ll clean this mess up alright. His voice drops to deep and dangerous, “You know I’m a Glaive now, do you?”
Aboard the Royal Vessel
Nyx rushes to the fight, using lightning to take out several magi-tech soldiers. At the same time Luna shoots at the contingent that made it past the shield on the port side and Noctis pops a shield to protect her. Spotting Nyx in the fray, she whispers a prayer of thanks.
Ignus calls back to Nyx, “Took you long enough!”
But he volleys and suggests a more offensive mission, “Missed you too, Ig. I’ll take out the port side group. Prompto and Glad take care of the others. Almost all troops will be aboard this ship. Ig, get the king and princess to safety.”
As the group splits up, Ignis, Noctis, and Luna book it for the cargo door. Luna’s body jerks with impact and she crumples to the deck, causing Ignis and Noctis to skitter to a stop.
The King and Ulrich scream “No!” simultaneously. Clutching her shoulder, she struggles up as Nyx appears at her side. “Go! I’ll get her out!” he barks.
Another shot from the port side contingent brings their attention to Ardyn Izunia, behind a wall of the automaton soldiers. “Ah, the hero that fell for the princess. I predicted you two as star-crossed lovers at the celebration before the treaty. How delightfully tragic that you’ll never be together. Oh, and I must tell you Princess, it's too bad he was just with another.” The Chancellor pauses for dramatic effect before issuing the command, “Open fire!”
Noctis halts momentarily to cast a barrage of magical swords at Ardyn, destroying the first row of robot soldiers. Ignis stays at his monarch’s side alternating shields with him to help solidify their retreat.
Meanwhile, Prompto and Gladiolus have utilized their shields to push through to the cabin of the clipper. They manage to set the self-destruct, hustle out the side door and cast their weapons to transport.
An alert blares the one minute warning and amber lights come to life. With this distraction, the two Glaives hustle their charges to the hatch, providing cover as best they can. Ignis bails out after his king.
Standing at the edge, Nyx is mentally reeling over the impossibility of getting Luna to the ground safely. She’s not a magic user. He can’t magically spatial shift the two of them and Ardyn’s troops are advancing rapidly.
Entwining her fingers with his, Luna commands, “Use your dagger to transport!”
“But you’ll be left behind or fall to your death!” he protests.
“Not my day to die. Just believe!” she shouts as his shield falls and he brings it up once more.
“Princess. NO!” he bellows.
“Wouldn’t be much of a test of faith if you knew it was possible on your own!” she counters, letting go of his hand and stepping off the ramp, arms and legs spread to slow her fall.
He’s after her in the wink of an eye. Upon grabbing her wrist, he hurls his dagger and they repeatedly transport until they hit the ground hard, unable to get up quickly. Smoke tendrils waft off both of them and they’ll have bruises, but survived by another miracle.
Between them and the King, Ardyn lands with unfolded mechanical wings attached to his back – pistol drawn on Luna. Above the group the airship and attached boarding vessel explodes. Bits of wreckage scatter around. More troops land at Ardyn’s side.
“The Prophecy can not be fulfilled without you, Princess,” Ardyn threatens the struggling couple on the ground.
Everything happens in a blur. A roar of rage emanates from Noctis’ throat as he charges, sword raised, at the chancellor. Luna whispers a prayer and her hand’s scar burns white. Blinding light emerges from Noctis’ sword. The shot is fired and Nyx rolls to cover Luna. The three other Glaives join the attack. Soldiers fall. Nyx grunts with pain as the bullet hits his side. Then the King’s blade slashes and severs the hand from Ardyn’s shooting arm. The chancellor steps back to get away from the vicious blade and he’s hit again. This time in the neck and the chancellor collapses wheezing, holding his neck and severed hand, unable to speak another word.
Time returns to normal. Kicking the wounded man over, Noctis taunts, “Too bad I didn’t take your head off entirely, Chancellor. Tell your Emperor to heed this warning. Niflheim will fall and the clock is ticking for Iedolas. I’m coming for his head and to take back the crystal. You have one hand left to write the message, that’s enough.”
Chapter 8: Post Surgery in Nyx’s Hospital Room
Nyx wakes up to find Luna sleeping curled up beside him, her left arm in a sling. If that weren’t shock enough, Noctis is watching over them both. With a dry voice, Nyx rasps, “Your Majesty!” causing fiery pain to shoot through his chest.
Noctis’ face is the most at ease that Nyx has seen since the reunion here in Altissia. “At ease Ulrich. Let her sleep. You need to know the Princess and I have broken off our engagement. I’ll let her explain when she’s awake.
“But, the prophecy...”
With a shake of his head, Noctis silences Nyx. “A word of advice, when she asks about the female Niflheim spy business – just start apologizing.”
Stomach instantly tightening at that news, he gulps before he answers, “Yes, Sire. Thank you.”
Watching her peaceful face and listening to her breathe next to him, soothes his soul. He lifts a lock of hair out of her eyes and brushes his hand over her cheek. It causes her to stir, nuzzling into his touch.
When she opens her eyes, she smiles. “Yeah, I sure could get used to waking up and seeing your face.”
“There’s no place you’d rather be? No one you’d rather be with? No wild hairs that say you need a little something I can’t give you?”
His face falls, and he closes his eyes at the reference to his indiscretion. Opening his eyes again, he locks gaze with her, “No. No one else compares to you, Lu.”
Face growing serious and sitting up to lean on her one good shoulder, she presses, “Then you better have one very good explanation for that little hussy incident.”
He blows out a breath. “I’m sorry, Lu. Truly. You were gonna be married and I tried to fill the huge void. But it was stupid of me.”
“Niflheim used her to distract you. They knew of the prophecy, Nyx! And you blundered into it with open arms! She took what was mine and you were so distracted you missed the Glaive call!” she accuses.
Regret fills his eyes. “I’m sorry, Lu! Gods know it! But her mission was a failure. I didn’t get a call for the activation, or I would have been there in a heartbeat. Lib found me before anything happened. I didn’t even kiss her... I know you won’t believe me. But I didn’t! I swear it! I’ll beg at your feet for forgiveness if I have to.”
“You’ll really beg... at my feet?”
He hisses in pain as he moves and he holds the bandages around his ribs.
“Wait... Stop it Nyx!”
Never-the-less, he scoots down to her feet and curls up there hugging her legs, ignoring her commands to knock it off. “Please Lu, forgive me. Everything else I’ve done since we met, was for you. When I put the Ring of the Lucii on my left ring finger, it was a sign I was serving you for the rest of my life – even if it was only so you could escape. You see, I’d fallen for you already. I don’t deserve you, but I‘ll continue to serve you as best I can. I can’t change the past and I can’t say anything to make you believe me. I can only live it out day by day, year after year, if you let me.”
Memories of that fateful night replay in her head, and she takes his hand to see the burn scar from the ring. It truly is on his left ring finger. He didn’t give his life to save the world or the ring. He gave it to save HER.
Tears pour down her cheeks as she chokes out and strokes his hair, “Yes.”
After a moment of awkward silence, she adds, “Now, heed your Princess. Stop groveling and just kiss me already.”
Chapter 9: Epilogue - Galahd - Three Months Later
Nerves and nostalgia wash over him as he opens the door to the modest little home and guides the others in. "Ma! You here? I'm home!"
"Nyx! 'That you?" a woman's voice hollers from around the corner. "I'm cooking dinner, come in here and let me have a look at you. You've been gone so long!"
"Ma, come here, please. There's some folks I'd like you to meet."
"I'll burn the chocobo stir fry if I do that. Come in here and give me a hand. Your friends can set the table, if they want to stay for dinner," she refuses stubbornly as only a mom can do when hassled with several things at once. "Call your sister down, she can make the salad."
A few sniggers can be heard and Libertus pipes up as he tromps to the kitchen, "Mrs. Ulrich, I'll take over the cooking if you can come out here. It's important." Nyx follows winking at the group and holding his finger to his lips.
The visitors hear his mother fussing over the large scars and hear him pleading, "Love you too. I'm fine, Ma. They're healed now. Please, come with me."
Tugging her empty hand, Nyx drags her out. The party sees an older woman with peppered hair in a tight bun, wearing a well worn apron and holding a big wooden spoon in the other hand.
Seeing five extra people besides Nyx and Libertus, she tuts, "You know you should call when you're bringing guests. We'll have to order take out."
Nyx clears his throat. "Ma, these three are my fellow Glaives - Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis." Those indicated give their respects as politely as possible - avoiding further sniggering - despite the awkwardness of the situation. This poor woman they're meeting has no idea who they are.
"And this is our liege," pointing to the black haired young man, "His Majesty King Noctis Lucis Caelum CXIV."
Mrs. Ulrich stiffens visibly and stumbles over her words as she does an ungraceful half bow, half curtsy, "Y...Y... Your M... Magesty."
"Lady Ulrich." He nods slightly in acknowledgment.
"Lady?" blankly, she questions.
"We'll explain that later, Ma." Gently guiding, he brings his mom over to the last guest. "And I would like to present, Her Highness Princess Lunafreya Nox Fleur. Luna this is my mother, Jaye Ulrich."
The large spoon formerly in Mrs. Ulrich's hand clatters to the wooden floor. Despite such astonishment in the woman's face, Lu can see the family resemblance in the eyes and facial structure. Luna, ever the diplomat, warmly takes her hand. "I've been looking forward to meeting the mother of my wonderful consort."
Dumbfounded, the woman just gapes and blinks as the blood drains from her face.
"Ma, do you need to sit down?" Nyx asks. Ig already has a chair pulled over for her. And she takes it, feeling rather shaken.
Gaining a few of her motherly wits again, she gives Nyx the eye. "Consort?"
"To the Princess?"
His cheeks puff up and he lets out the breath as he restrains from rolling his eyes. But Luna saves him, "Yes, Madame."
"And he's good to you, Your Highness?"
"Luna's fine, dear mother-in-law to be. He's been a perfect gentleman. To be honest, I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for him. For, I'm the last of the Nox Fleurs."
Mrs. Ulrich's intake of breath brings color back to her face and she rallies placing hands and a kiss on the princess' cheeks, "Dear, dear child. You're a part of our family now."
"Nyxie!?!?" The surprise on the face of the pigtailed chestnut haired girl, who must only be in her tweens, is followed by a high pitched squeal of delight and she launches herself at him.
Barely catching her, he twirls her around. "Good to see you too, Squirt!"
After introductions are complete, Nyx gets to the reason for their visit. "Ma, Allie, I know this is short notice, but will you attend the wedding tomorrow? The Niffs have been hot on our tail, and we need to keep moving. Come with us, please. It's the safest place, since the Niffs are trying to hunt down our families to use as hostages."
Allie is off like a shot, grabbing a few things. Though, Mrs. Ulrich looks around her home, noting the memories their little clan made here. Many of them were happy, despite the loss and pain of losing her husband and youngest daughter. Steeling her resolve, she nods an affirmative.
So Nyx and Luna wed. And Noctis with the help of his friends, begins the long and arduous task of regaining his kingdom and the crystal.