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A Heart Still Beats Under This Ice

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When the blizzard had ripped through the train and caused the Second Chosen King's babysitters to collapse, Ardyn had awaited both his and her arrival.

He needed to ensure that Noctis made his way to Gralea despite the many losses he had suffered. And the best way to cut through the younger man's grief was to make him feel like he had no choice - hence why Ardyn kidnapped Prompto and pointed the blonde boy into the direction of his birthplace earlier. Now he was safe in Gralea - tied up to make it look like Ardyn had evil intentions for him, but in actual fact it was just to keep the young lad out of the sight of the rogue MTs and the daemons. Couldn't have anything happening to the King's best friends now, could he.

Ardyn's heart didn't break for the mourning King of Lucis; after all he had only lost a few people in a short space of time, he would eventually recover. Especially if he had a burning hatred for Ardyn, it would feed his survival instinct and keep the grief at bay. Over the passing two millenia Ardyn has had to watch everyone he's ever known age and die; generation after generation. The Second Chosen could never understand that pain, so he deserved no sympathy for displaying such weakness now.

He could see Noctis struggling to make his way down the carriage towards him and his collapsed friends - and Ardyn would bet gil that Noct believes he was the one who had hurt them - so he leaned against a chair, his arm stretched out to his side and clasping the headrest for balance against the gale force winds and waited.

"Ah there you are," he cockily drawled at the younger man.

"Where is he?! Where's Prompto?!" Noctis had tried to growl through his chattering teeth. But he sounded more pathetic than menacing.

Ardyn couldn’t believe Noctis was disregarding his fallen comrades laying at his ancestor's feet for the blonde boy who was miles away. Very irresponsible and inconsiderate of him.

"I'm worried about your friends," he mocks the King, "They've fallen and they can't get up."

Before Noctis could get a smartass reply out, he helplessly falls to his knees as the wind blows ever stronger and colder; it even began to freeze Ardyn’s limbs so he struggled to move himself.

"A coldness that can only be be hers..." he muses to himself out loud, butterflies starting to dance in his stomach.

Sure enough, the sound of the electronic sliding doors behind him signalled somebody else had joined the party. Ardyn turned his head expecting to see that icy witch Shiva...

But instead she stood there in the guise of 'Gentiana' and Ardyn couldn't keep the shock off his face.

The woman he had fallen for back in his Healer days before she revealed her true identity to him. The beautiful raven haired woman with a porcelain face. It was easier to lust after this 'Gentiana'; she had an elegant yet soft voice, a flowery manner of speech that matched his own very well, she was an immortal Messenger blessed with divine powers too so she represented the only constant in his life that Death couldn't steal from him...

But then that illusion had been shattered.

Centuries ago, Ardyn had been trying to find a way to resurrect the Infernian - whose corpse was resting at the bottom of the giant volcano "The Rock of Ravatogh" - so he could bring him back to life in order for the Second Chosen to receive his Blessing when the time came. Gentiana had offered her assistance as she claimed to believe the Infernian deserved a second chance to redeem himself seeing as all the other Gods were currently slumbering the centuries away by choice. The Messenger knew all about the Astral War because she had been alive as long as Ardyn had - she had also survived the Messenger War that killed most of her kin. Or so he believed anyway. Once they found a way to bring him back with the power of the Starscourge ravaging Ardyn's bloodstream, Gentiana started to lose her nerve.

She had begged Ardyn to find another way, but the confusion and pain behind her deep hazel eyes intrigued him. He'd gathered her in his arms and tried to soothe the poor woman's fears. His heart bled for her. Seeing the woman he was infatuated with in this state drove him into a temporary madness. He would have done anything for her, anything to stop her tears.

She said she had something to reveal to him. Something important. He had tightened his grip on her and promised no matter what, he would remain ever at her side. They had too much history, and he had been alive too long to care if she knew of his true feelings for her.

But her revelation had soured any good will he had for her. His darling Gentiana, the woman he had admired from afar and dreamt about when all those lonely nights became too much for the immortal, forgotten King. She was the Glacian in disguise and she had been the Infernian's lover, his beloved Gentiana never existed and she had been one of the Six that he despised so much all along.

Yet again they had played with his heart and hurt him. He cast her aside after that.

He knew she would be caring for the Nox Fluerent family - Shiva could form multiple copies of herself so it was the perfect cover having the Giantess form sleeping in plain sight for mortals to see - so when the Empire conquered Tenebrae he made a point to never visit the Manor if he could help it. It was one of the secret reasons he had insisted that the young headstrong boy Ravus deserved to be scripted in the Imperial Army. Let the kid deal with relations between the nations so Ardyn would never have to see that poisonous icy witch every again.

"Ah the face you wore the day you d-" Ardyn began, trying to smooth over his shock with a smarmy comment. But that icy witch was one step ahead of him. Delicately blowing on the tip of her finger as she approached him, without even opening her eyes she presses the Kiss of Death to the Accursed's lips; freezing him through to the bone. Normally that would kill whoever was unlucky enough to feel that soft yet fatal touch, but Ardyn was no ordinary man.

Instead he was encased in ice, his immortal soul contained within that scheming wretch's ice prison.

To make it worse, he had to stand there in his uncomfortable frozen form and watch 'Gentiana' show off and transform into Shiva. Noctis was shocked and impressed, but Ardyn hated it. That one moment of transformation represented everything wrong with his long lonely life - everything he loved was ruined by the Six. And while the Glacian recounted the Astral War to Noctis, Ardyn wanted to roll his eyes, cross his arms and show his boredom. It was a good thing she had the foresight to cage Ardyn like this otherwise he'd have begun yawning. He found it such a tiresome story. And it also hurt the small human part left in his heart. Even if 'Gentiana' was that icy witch underneath, he had still fallen head over heels for her; so hearing her describe how the only man who had thawed her ice cold heart was the Infernian - despite the many times in that first millenia of immortality Ardyn had tried to be there for her - angered him beyond comprehension. How dare she play with him like that! How dare she add yet more heartache to his already tragic tale!

But, the small solace he had, was that he knew Noctis had to kill the Infernian in order to gain his Blessing. When Ardyn had succeeded in resurrecting Ifrit with the Starscourge, they had made a pact - Ifrit would not contact his bretheren nor continue his quest for revenge on the humans that betrayed him, as long as he was allowed to kill the Second Chosen King. Ifrit was more hurt by the fact that the other Five had waged war against him rather than the inferior humans who caused the whole mess with their fickle loyalty, so he wanted to ruin Bahamut's prophecy and let Eos remain engulfed in the Scourge. Ifrit had referred to the Scourge as his greatest achievement, and that now he hoped Titan thought of him in his every waking hour due to being impaled on the Meteor that Ifrit had summoned. It was just a happy coincidence that the Scourge had hitchhiked across the galaxy on that Meteor to wreak havoc on their Star.

There was also one other thing that would have brought a small smile to Ardyn's lips if he wasn't frozen to the core. Shiva referred to him as "my love" when beseeching Noctis to end his insanity, and although that had hurt some small remnant of Ardyn's lonely heart, it warmed him to know the Infernian no longer cared for her. She had fought against him after all.

Of course, the Glacian and the Second Chosen King had no idea what was running through the Accursed's mind right now, they were too lost in their own conversation and too wrapped up in their own little lives to even notice him. Typical behaviour of the pair of them really, he should have expected as much. Selfish brats, oblivious to those who suffer around them.

Eventually Shiva handed over the Trident - the one he recognised instantly as an Armiger weapon because he had absorbed part of the soul inside it already to add to his own arsenal - then vanished in another flash of blinding blue light.

Noctis seemed to have a bit of a mental breakdown after that, kept talking about that dear bride of his. At least he acknowledged he was too weak to save her when Ardyn had thrust his dagger into the silly girl's stomach. Her death was a necessity, but it still would have been nice for Noctis to step up and at least try to save her. But yet again he proved himself to be a disappointment. So it was pleasing for Ardyn to watch Noctis wrestle with that inner guilt. He deserved it. Whether Noctis seemed to have a detatchment from reality or the ghost of Lunafreya was indeed visiting him from beyond her watery grave Ardyn didn't know, but he certainly didn't see her despite Noctis talking to her. Regardless, there was a bright light and a few dark blue petals seeming to fall from the ceiling; Noctis caught one yet continued crying, before eventually pulling himself together.

Finally.

He was starting to embarrass Ardyn with that childish display.

Like Ignis had said, "A King moves ever onward always, accepting the consequences and never looking back."

Ardyn never looked back after he had to condemn Gilgamesh to an eternity of fighting generations of King's Shields. Nor did he look back once he set his plan in motion to help make the Six's prophecy reach fruitation.

Noctis had just lost his bride-to-be, yet her and that blonde boy Prompto seem to be all he cares about. He is not fit to sit on the Lucian Throne, and it only incensed Ardyn further. He was betrayed back in his Healing days so this snivelling brat could become a legend?! It should have been HIS legend! Instead he got scrubbed out of the history books!

Oh Ardyn was going to enjoy toying with Noctis once they reached Gralea and he got him alone.

Finally, Noctis stands up and wipes the pathetic tears from his face. If Ardyn could smirk, he would have. But he was trapped until the ice melted away.

Luckily, Noctis fixed that problem.

"What are you lookin' at?!" he snarls at Ardyn, before shattering the older man with a powerful swing of his sword.

Good boy, Ardyn's consciousness thinks in the void, Well done. You're finally ready.

Feeling himself getting pulled back into the land of the living, Ardyn revised his plan once more: disable Noctis' Armiger so he has to use the ring, guide him to Prompto and the others, then get them to dispose of the Emperor and Ravus for him. Once all is said and done, he will guide Noctis to his Crystal.

All was going according to plan.

He couldn't wait to see Shiva's face once Noctis kills the Infernian and he vanishes from the world a second time. He had no doubt she would come to witness her love's end. Now she can feel the sting of unrequieted love like she had inflicted on him.

She deserves it.