An Excerpt from REAL STARSCOURGE TALES FROM REAL, EVERYDAY LUCIANS, vol. 2
Interviews and Short Stories compiled by the Hunters of Lucis
(second volume of the series published in M.E. 771, five years after the end of the Starscourge)
Our second interview story of the second volume of the Starscourge Tales Anthology comes from Lestallum, the “City of Light” of Lucis, who goes by the name of Briony Pacem (38, as of this writing), a simple lady working as a local archivist at the Kingdom of Lucis Public Library, Lestallum Branch. Like our previous interviewee for this volume, Lestallum-native Briony knew a lot more of the real dangers and struggles against the daemons and witnessed and confronted daemons more dangerous and deadly than those we see around our home soils. During the Starscourge, she was a former soldier of the Kingsglaive, the coveted royal elite military battalion of Lucis founded exclusively by the late King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, as a member of the battalion’s intel unit. Unlike many other Kingsglaive soldiers in general, she and a select few of the intel unit were deployed directly behind enemy lines at Tenebrae and Niflheim to gather intel, spying, and if necessary, infiltration and assassination of enemy targets in secret.
Like many remaining Kingsglaive soldiers, she suffered from partial amnesia ten years before the traces of the Long Night. Fifteen years later from that fateful night, Briony was selected to be part of the anthology and was asked to contribute any memorable story that she can recall from her past during the Starscourge. She chose to write about an unusual moment in her life that eventually led her to find her calling and enlisting to the coveted Kingsglaive.
She begins her story by introducing a mysterious childhood imaginary friend named Nyx, who somehow gave her the influence to finding her own path, leaving her naive and simple small town girl life in Lestallum, and pursue a path in civil service as a Glaive and the eventual relocation to the Crown City.
I’m Briony Pacem, an archivist at the Lestallum Branch of the Kingdom of Lucis Public Library system. A few colleagues and I are working on re-analyzing through comparisons and contrasts of the past and present versions of the Cosmogony, as an attempt to release another revised edition to be published and released throughout Eos. Call it the post-Starscourge edition of the Cosmogony, as we will also be including many extensive notes based on personal experiences (such as the publication of these Real Starscourge Tales series), news clippings, as well as many interviews from many key individuals who have made an impact on our world during that long period of darkness.
I have been working as an archivist for some three years now. A year before that, I was unemployed and did mostly voluntary work during the rebuilding and restoration of Lestallum and all of Lucis post-Starscourge. Ten years before that, I was a Glaive, both served behind enemy territory and out on the battlefield, weeks before the so-called peace treaty signing between Lucis and Niflheim. I briefly lived in Insomnia for almost two years because of my duties as a new Glaive. My first year consisted of Glaive training from open combat skills, weaponry, and magic. I started doing some easy clerical work at the HQ in Insomnia for a few months, up until I was finally called up by the commanders and deployed me with a number of experienced senior intel Glaives in secret to the enemy territory. One half of us were assigned to Gralea, the then-capital city of Niflheim. My small unit was deployed in Tenebrae, in a suburban city called Piztala, just some miles away from Tenebrae’s capital city, Ulwaat. For the most of my Glaive career, I have lived in Tenebrae for almost four years with barely any contact with my family and friends back home in Lucis. Just some few months since I arrived home, events turned the tide with the announcement of the end of the centuries war with a peace treaty signing, along with its painful terms. The only term that wasn’t painful there was to see the late Oracle and the late 114th king to be married.
It took me several years, ten years and counting, for me to recover all of my memories when our interim captain, Libertus Ostium, and other remaining Glaives found me and picked me up, finally taking me back home to Lestallum. The remaining surviving Glaives and I suffered partial amnesia after the downfall of the Crown City, and in my case, I only remembered my name, where I was from, the things I’ve learned since childhood, such as various self-defense arts my dad and brother taught me and the rest of the women in my family, but I couldn’t remember what I was doing in Insomnia after that time, what my role was, and even wondered why some people continued to stare at me like I was some kind of a wanted person dead or alive. I recalled following a group of people marching out to the bridge leading to the West Gate border between Insomnia and Leide. I struggled then to remember anything about my participation during that fateful day that I ended up wandering out from the pack. I took several part-time jobs as a waitress at various Crow’s Nest Diners throughout Duscae so I can earn some money for me to survive and get back home to Lestallum, to my family. Of course, when luck brought Libertus and other Glaives to me that day, I thought that I was finally home and free. It turns out that, because of the more grave conditions involving the daemons and that the days were reducing slowly, my little bustling cultural town of Lestallum had become a brand-new headquarters of all warriors from all nations of Eos, starting with my dad, brother, and their band of hunters, the remaining Glaives, remaining Crownsguard, and even former troopers from Altissia and the crumbling Niflheim Empire. My days as a part-time Crow’s Nest waitress and part-time daemon bounty hunter ended then and resumed my duties as a Glaive. Since then, I remained a Glaive for the next ten years until the Starscourge finally ended. So, in total, I have been a Glaive for about fifteen years.
My dad always taught me while growing up that things happen for a deeper reason, especially those that most people won’t be able to understand why it happened in the first place. I was a curious, meddling child, asking both Mom and Dad questions about life in general. One of the questions that I asked was why daemons exist and why they hate humans? You know, those daemons attacking and biting humans and eventually become daemons themselves? Mom wouldn’t know because she was focused more on keeping up the electrical power throughout Lucis outside Insomnia. Dad, and eventually brother Nero, would answer with words like “patience is a virtue.”
Every single morning, on my way out to school, starting from elementary till high school, I would always pass by the flying ebony and gold banner of Lucis hanging at the side of our apartment building. And when I do, I would stare at it for a few seconds, and then I would bow to it and greet it.
“Good morning, Lucis!”
It was my way of greeting the entire kingdom of Lucis a good morning, from everyone living throughout the kingdom up to the mighty king of Lucis, King Regis Lucis Caelum the 113th. Whew, that’s a lot of kings! I started honoring and greeting the Lucian flag ever since I was a toddler, whenever my dad would be taking me to school before. He would always take a bow and say good morning to the flag, representing our kingdom and everyone living in that said kingdom. It became a childhood habit that bowing and greeting the flag a good morning had become natural to me.
At that time, not everything throughout the kingdom was clean and perfect. It may be a good morning to many of the lucky Lucians, but that wasn’t always the case with others. I’ve heard many stories about prowling daemons and much more powerful daemons prancing around during night from my father and eventually my brother, both were hunters and work daily at the Meldacio Hunter HQ. On weekends, both Dad and Nero would come home from the Meldacio HQ to be with my mother, sister, and me, as one family. It was our only family time, especially on Sundays. And out of that weekend are a series of adventure stories of their hunting— hunting daemons, that is.
Ever since I was a little girl, my father would always teach my older siblings and me the meaning of responsibility, discipline, loyalty, and respect. With the insistence of my mother, a proud senior EXINERIS engineer, all three of us were also taught a variety of self-defense skills that most of the hunters use for their missions and escapades against the daemons. Dad said that the origins of the hunters stem all the way back to Lucian Royalty, and even their somewhat simple but very effective self-defense arts was also stemmed from the Those four things applied greatly in our lives, regardless of the paths we’ve chosen after we passed on the child stage. Dad also taught me to show respect and appreciation towards the flag of Lucis that’s hanging on the side of our apartment building. Lestallum is one of the proudest cities to exist in Lucis, just a tad second after the Crown City. While the Crown City had the crystal, Lestallum had the meteor shards.
My brother, the firstborn of our family, already wanted to become a hunter just like Dad, and he was already dead set on the career path ever since he was little. My sister Tamzin was really well-versed with puzzles, math, and sciences, and it became obvious that she was going to follow Mom’s footsteps as an engineer at the EXINERIS power plant. Both my siblings already heard their calling, and have focused on those paths on their own.
But I, on the other hand, had none. Being the third and youngest of the three, I was stuck in the middle. But, with my brother being six years older and my sister being four years older than me, the only thing my parents encouraged me to do was to live as a normal, happy girl. However, throughout most of my childhood, I was a lot more curious than happy. I wanted to see how the world was like outside Lestallum, but because of the daemons and an overprotective hunter father and an overprotective hunter brother, I was not even allowed to leave town, even with adult supervision. The closest place that I’ve been to outside of Lestallum was the Meldacio Hunter HQ, when hunters were allowed to bring in their kids to their station. Boring.
As a girl, I lived a normal childhood, somewhat. My craving for knowing more about the world outside Lestallum didn’t really introduce me to the concept of a social life. I preferred books over friends, sometimes I’d talk to myself as if I was in another land outside Lestallum. I didn’t really care what other kids thought of me and my quirks because in my world, I was the ruler and I make my own rules. I also dabbled in music, listening to all the local buskers and corner musicians throughout town, and even convinced my mom to buy me a guitar. I remember borrowing my dad's old record player and play those old records, using the oldies for me to learn how to play guitar. At Lestallum, everybody sang and danced. I was more of a singer than a dancer, singing praises to all the good, positive things in life. I even wrote a song about the Lucian flag hanging outside our apartment building, but I haven't really gotten around to fix the lyrics just yet.
And then, this random song that came to my mind one day. I wrote them down in a notebook and even remembered the tune in my head. The lyrics went something like this:
Let there be light throughout the world
While there is darkness, too much of one side is bad
If both are together, everything will be perfect
And so I shall pray that opposites become one
I’m longing and I’m waiting for the sun to rise
And all the stars and the moon bring shine from the dark sky
We are waiting for you, we are waiting for you
We are waiting for you, our King of Kings
All of that, aside from the books and the guitar, ended on my tenth birthday. When I woke up in the morning the day after my birthday and walked on my way to school, I stopped by the black and gold flag of Lucis hanging by the side of our apartment building. And as usual, I would bow to the flag and say “Good morning, Lucis,” just like before. But right after that greeting, I heard someone returning the greeting, with the words loud and clear:
“Good morning, Daughter of Lucis.”
I turned to see who said that, as if I felt I was being mocked, and there he was. He showed up right behind me with those doe blue eyes and an innocent smile that would make you suspect that he was up to no good. I pretty much knew every single kid living in Lestallum, whether they were older or younger or that they attended a different school. But this particular kid who just appeared behind my back really stood out. No kid ever wears nothing but black in Lestallum. This kid looked like he was the grim reaper’s son, but his personality was anything but.
This is what happens when you fail to make friends during your first ten years of your life. Out of the blue, someone whom you can only see will appear in your life, insisting that he is your very special friend, and as long as I continue to be happy and positive, he will always be there for me. He said to me that when I finally make new friends, he will disappear, but will continue to watch over me when that day arrives.
He looked a little younger than me, a lot shorter than me, maybe two years younger, but he appeared a lot smarter than I thought he was for his age. He had dark jet black hair that shaped like a droopy bowl, but he didn’t look bad. He had deep blue eyes that always twinkled when he smiled. Just like the kids living in the Crown City, he always wore black. He wore a black hoodie, a black t-shirt, black knee-length shorts, and black canvas sneakers. Sometimes he would show up with a black cap or a black beanie. The only thing that wasn’t black on him was his ankle socks. The white really complimented his black canvas sneakers. Regardless of the black color he was donning, he was fair-skinned and flawless, like he never got hurt or was never touched by anything or anyone at all. When you looked at him, even in black, it looked like the sun always shone right upon him, as if he was being sent and watched over by the gods above.
The black color may be a symbol of the Kingdom of Lucis, but personally, I never liked the color black. It looked really dull, not fun, and whenever you see someone wearing black, it seems like he just rose up from the dead. Still, my dad would always warn me never to make fun of the color black or even look down upon it. He always reminded me that the black wasn’t just a symbol of the kingdom, but it was also the signature color of the Lucian Royalty and its High Council. One time, I asked my father if it was possible for someone like me to actually meet the king or any members of the royal family. He said that anything is possible, but in this case, the easiest way to have an audience with the Lucian Royal Family was to live within the walls of Insomnia or slightly in the outskirts, like the province of Cavaugh or the area in Eastern Leide. As a curious little girl, that became one of my goals: have an audience with the king and the royal family, or maybe just any royal would do, even the young crown prince is more than enough. The reason for the audience? I don’t know, just to hang out maybe?
Regardless of his habit of wearing everything black, or at least dark solid colors close to black, his personality doesn’t quite match the black. He was just your average, normal brat who likes to bug and tease the big sister whenever she starts having a crush on some boy or something. But this kid, he just liked to bug me in general, from my homework to the chores that I had to do at home to even the other kids in school I end up hanging out with, even for group homework sessions. He was always cheerful and happy, but at the same time, he was irritating and annoying. Still, even if I was the only time who saw him, he really did become one very special friend.
One early morning, the next day after he appeared behind my back, this time, he appeared sitting down at the edge of my bed. I was going to say that he was waiting for me to wake up, but that wasn’t the case. He was slapping my face and shaking my body several times, left and right, just to get my eyes open and fully wake up. It was time to get ready for school, he said. I asked him who he was and how he got in. The only thing he answered to me was:
“Name’s Nyx. What am I doing here? Dunno. Ask that yourself.”
I rolled my eyes whenever Nyx would answer me with some smart-ass answer such as that. He seemed to be having fun making me look bad, but at the same time, he also showed his care for me whenever the chips are down. Wherever I went from that day, he followed behind, tailing me like a little lost puppy. I even asked my family about Nyx, and they just laughed at me because they don’t see or know any kid named Nyx living in Lestallum. My brother Nero and my sister Tamzin swore that I was having some kind of a mental disorder because of my awkwardness, but Dad always looked at things on a positive light and said that Nyx may be my personal guardian angel. I even asked my teachers and some classmates when I arrived at school that day. No kid named Nyx here and there. One teacher told me that Nyx was a common boy’s name in the areas near the Crown City. There were a lot of Nyxes living in the Crown City too, as well as the two neighboring provinces around it: Galahd and Cavaugh.
My father, a senior hunter working at the Meldacio Hunter HQ alongside Dave Auburnbrie, the field commander of the hunters, had plenty of connections with the authorities throughout Lucis, as every hunter should. The Hunters weren’t just hunters, but they were outside Crown City paramilitary patrolmen, keeping humankind safe and protected from daemons appearing here and there. The Hunters also had to lay low against the Niff invaders, not because they were scared of them, but they don’t want to lose sight on the daemons, as well as remaining loyal to the Lucian Royalty in secret, even after Insomnia’s downfall. They did so many things in the name of Lucis, from researching its very rich and mysterious history to making contacts and deals with every city and region government. My father had friends in the Crown City Census Bureau and, as a favor to me, had them search for a little boy around the age of eight to twelve whose first name was Nyx. Unfortunately, the results were about some two hundred Crown City-born boys whose first name was Nyx. One of those two hundred-something Crown City, Galahd, and Cavaugh-born boys became my future Glaive training mentor, Nyx Ulric.
And before I continue, my imaginary friend Nyx is not Nyx Ulric. The hero of the Kingsglaive was seven years older than me. It makes no sense to have an imaginary friend younger than me with the first name of Nyx that is based on a real person several years older than me.
I mentioned to him, maybe I was being haunted by some poor deceased kid named Nyx. Dad thinks that there’s no such thing as a friendly ghost at this period. The spirit would either be transformed into a daemon or the spirit would likely be trapped in another dimension, like through a mirror or something. Little Nyx was way too free and liberated to be a spirit, he said, so he concluded that this kid is a figment of my unexplainable imagination. Great, I thought. Just great.
Still, even during classes, Nyx was there, sitting right behind me. If I was the last person in the row, he would just lean against the wall, watching me from behind. Even during lunch, when I sat alone, he was there right in front of me. We talked many times, asked him who he really was but he wouldn’t tell me. He kept on answering the same answer every time I would ask him about himself. His repeated answer was always “Your very special friend.”
Whenever I go to the library, go to the groceries, even stop by the power plant to visit my mom or even get picked up by Tamzin, Nyx never left my side. When I did my homework and get stuck at a problem, he was there as my own personal tutor. Some few months later, Nyx even started appearing to me in different styles of clothes, like wearing a beanie or a cap. Still, he wore that dreary black color every single time. He still wouldn’t tell me who he really was whenever I asked the question, but I did ask him about his favorite color of his clothes.
“I’m Lucian, just like you,” Nyx answered me regarding the color black. “The color is the symbol of our kingdom, you know? Our national flag is black, almost everybody at the Crown City and its neighboring regions wore black, the symbol of authority and monarchy is also black. But I get that you don’t wear black here at Lestallum because you’re so far away from the Crown City.”
“You still haven’t told me where you’re originally from, Nyx,” I would counter his answers with more demands.
“I already told you and you still don’t know how to think Briony. Ask yourself.”
Right then, I gasped in shock. “Are you… dead?”
Nyx broke into laughter. “Girl, you mad? But eventually, I will be dead, just like you and everyone else.” Of course, he had a point.
I still found myself scratching my head. “But… I don’t get it.” I began to think, asking myself like he said. I still didn’t get the answer until he finally gave up playing mind games with me.
“Fine, fine, I give up. You really are hopeless, aren’t you? You’re way different when you’re near my age compared to the Briony Pacem I know.”
“The Briony that you know?”
Nyx shrugged his shoulders. ”I’m a part of your future, Briony. That’s what I mean.”
“Er… excuse me? Part of my future? Are you like… my future son or something?”
Once again, Nyx laughed. “I’m way better looking than you, sister, hell no!”
I raised an eyebrow after he gave me another insult. “Okay, so you’re not my future son. Maybe you’re a future son of one of my friends?”
“Er… you could say that. Yeah, sure.”
“I guess you still won’t tell me the name of your parents, huh?”
“Well, well,” Nyx smirked. “Since I’m part of your future, I decided to come visit the past you. You’re so gullible, you know? I can’t believe that you became the person I’ve admired so much in my time.”
I still didn’t understand about him being from my future. I still know that no one else can see him except me, to the point that I was beginning to think that I was just imagining him standing there, talking to me, when all this time, I was talking to myself.
“Never mind, Briony, I’ll wait till you get older, like way older, when you finally learn how to think.”
“Are you making fun of me?” I raised an eyebrow with slight fury, making this kid Nyx laugh again.
“You know what, never mind,” Nyx ended his laughter. To my surprise, he changed the tone of his voice. “When the right time comes, you’re going to meet my parents. When that time comes, both my parents will also disappear… before I come into existence. I came to you now because it is your destiny to save their lives. Without them, I will not exist.”
“Huh?” I blinked curiously, now scratching my head. “Who’s your mom and dad? I thought I’m the one who made you exist?”
“You are,” Nyx said. “But one day, when the time comes, I’ll eventually disappear from your life, right when you make new friends.”
I frowned, crossing my arms. “But what if I don’t want you to disappear?”
“Hm, sadly, I don’t know the answer to that. But, if you don’t want me to disappear, then you shouldn’t fail in saving my parents’ lives in the coming future. That’s all.”
I sighed, burying my head against my homework notebook. Right then, I felt something warm touching my head that somehow made me feel comfortable. When I looked up, I noticed Nyx closer to me now, with his hand touching my head.
Wait, I thought to myself. If Nyx really was my imaginary friend, how come I can feel the warmth of his touch on my head? Slowly, I reached upward to hold his hand holding my head. I gasped when I felt his hand, soft, gentle, warm, real. I didn’t understand how this is possible. If he were my imaginary friend, he would be a ghost and I wouldn’t be able to feel him.
But I can feel his warmth. He was real. Nyx was real. And yet, no one except me can see him?
“You exist,” I said to him. “You’re real.”
He smiled at me as if he felt relieved. “I’m real because of you. But I don’t have much time.”
“What do you mean?”
“My mom and dad… they both need to be saved. I’m already looking at you, and eventually the friends you will meet in the future, to go and save them. If you don’t and fail… I won’t be existing in your future.”
Now my mind is completely perplexed. “But… if my future friends and I are going to save your mom and dad… how do we know who they are and… how do we save them? Come on, Nyx, we won’t know until you tell me now?”
Nyx just shook his head. “It’s too risky. I don’t mean to offend you or anything, but… if I tell you who I really am, and if I tell you who my parents are, you and your friends might get killed.”
At that time, I shook my head, indicating that Nyx only made my life worse. Or rather, he just made me a lot dumber than I already was. I ended up giving up and continued on living my usual life. Still, Nyx remained on my side.
When I first met my four new friends in the next year in sixth grade, Celestine Pryor, Lena Locklear, Cecil Britney, and Aaron Marshall, I thought that Nyx would finally disappear. It was awkward, the way we met. When you reach the age of eleven and the early years of adolescence, the early stages of puppy love begin at that time, for some kids anyway. It was an early morning with the usual habit of me greeting the Lucian flag a good morning. Nyx was standing right behind me, but he didn’t say anything that there was an incoming clumsy person coming my way.
He let the accident happen when Aaron Marshall, my school’s most popular boy in sixth grade, so I heard anyway, accidentally bumped on to me behind, letting me fall right flat on my face against the street. I glared at Nyx, laughing and pointing at me, but instead, Aaron helped me up and apologized for not keeping his eyes forward and bumping on my back that led me to fall on the street. The two girls chasing after him from behind, Celestine Pryor and Lena Locklear, finally caught up to him but did not squeal right away when they spotted some random girl their desired boy pushed on the ground for. And then from behind the girls was Aaron’s best friend, the slightly stout Cecil Britney. Being an awkward kid that I was, I apologized for being on Aaron’s way and ran off to the streets, right at the school gates.
Nyx still remained present in my life, so much that I was beginning to feel conscious of my reputation. Because of it, just to save my reputation, I decided not to reveal to my new friends about my so-called imaginary friend. After I ran out from them, later during recess, Aaron and Cecil caught up with me, inviting me to hang out with them. Those two boys became my very first friends. Some weeks later, Celestine and Lena decided to become friends with me, even though I knew deep inside that they were going to use me just so they can get closer to Aaron. Still, it was too early for me to pinpoint which one of these four will be the traitor, as Nyx declared, so I decided to ignore the thought for the time being.
At that time, I thought Nyx would finally disappear, now that I have made new friends. Even with Aaron, Cecil, Celestine, and Lena were with me now, Nyx was still hanging around as if he was the sixth person in our little circle. When alone, I asked Nyx how and why he still remained even though I met new friends for the first time.
“It’s because these are the wrong types of friends,” he answered. “But eventually, you’ll meet the right ones when you get older.”
“What do you mean by the wrong type?”
Nyx walked around me with his fingers on his chin. “Well… um… how should I say this? I guess I wanted to say…”
“You have four new friends now. I didn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to be friends with those four.” He took the time to walk around my four new friends individually until he stopped right next to Lena. “But, I’ll say this to you. Three of them become heroes, one of them becomes a traitor.”
“Say what? Heroes and traitors of what, exactly?”
Nyx led out a deeper sigh. “Do you ever read the newspaper or even watch the news on TV? I mean, it’s pretty embarrassing that you’re an idiot with current affairs when your dad’s a hunter and your mom’s an EXINERIS technician. You know, the war!”
Right, I thought. Yes, I was aware of the war, but as a pre-adolescent kid with an almost non-existent social life, he couldn’t blame me for not paying attention. Those words began to echo through my mind throughout middle school about my four friends. Three of them become heroes, and one becomes a traitor. Which one among Aaron, Cecil, Celestine, and Lena becomes a traitor? And if Nyx mentioned about the war between Lucis and Niflheim, then that must mean that whoever the traitor is among the four will be siding with the Niffs. Better cut ties with that friend now, I thought, but Nyx still refused to reveal names. Because I was still a naive moron, unable to read minds of other people, I pretty much ignored that thought.
High school came, and the latest buzz among the youth at that time are stories printed on newspaper and broadcast on the local news of the good, heroic deeds of the Kingsglaive. There was a general belief among the townsfolk that only those who live in the Crown City, or that those who are of the wealthy, noble class are the only ones who get to enlist in either the Crownsguard or the Kingsglaive. The former may be true, but when the news crews went on actual battle scenes to have short interviews with many Kingsglaive there, many of us became ecstatic that the majority of these powerful, elite Glaives happened to be native sons and daughters of Lucis. They all came from all over the place: Galahd, Cavaugh, Leide, Duscae, and I gleefully shouted with joy when I learned that many of these heroic Glaives were native-born Lestallians. While watching the news and reading the newspaper, Nyx, as always, was present.
One night before I went to bed, Nyx sat on the side of the bed while I was putting away my school books and getting ready for bed. At age fourteen and showing my excitement and enthusiasm about the news of the Glaives’ heroic deeds and some victories against the Niffs, he blurted out from out of the blue to me:
“You should join the Glaives, Briony.”
At first, I heard he was up to his usual jokes and teasing again when I said. “Do I look like Glaive material to you? I look cheap fighting the way hunters do compared to the way the Glaives fight. All those warping and surprise attacking and the wielding of different weapons from thin air? Just let me stay home and admire my new role models, alright?”
“I’m serious this time, Briony. You should join the Glaives. No joke.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said before? The whole warping and magic and—”
“Girl, don’t matter. Just enlist… when you get older. You’d be surprised. Trust me on this one.”
I was still suspicious of Nyx’s suggestion of joining the Glaives after high school, but I didn’t exactly reject it either. “Er, right. I’ll… think about it.”
As I got older, things changed, my mindset changed, my outlook on life changed, and yet, Nyx still remained. Not only that, Nyx never really got older, and just like from Day One, he still wore the dreaded black color on his clothes. In high school, all those four years, and even with homework and projects, Nyx still remained as my tutor of smarts. On my second year of high school, I finally revealed to my family about my interest in enlisting with the Glaives. At first, Dad was against it, but Mom kept reminding Dad that if women can run an entire region of Lucis outside Insomnia with that one single power plant in Lestallum, girls can also become Glaives. Nero and Tamzin liked the idea, that I finally found my path that can make a difference in our home. Not only that I will be serving Lestallum and my fellow Cleignians against the Niffs and the daemons, but I will be serving the entire kingdom of Lucis. Not just that, Nero also reminded me that I will be having a higher chance of winning an audience with King Regis or even his son, Crown Prince Noctis, if I do enlist as a Glaive. Dad was finally convinced and then decided to put me back into more training again.
And speaking of training, Nyx also started becoming my shadow sparring partner. I was quite surprised that the kid also knew how to fight. I still asked more questions about him, where he learned his self-defense arts. He still refused to talk about his real background, but he did say that one of his father’s bros trained him the formal way, while the sister of his father’s bro trained him the same hunter-style self-defense arts like I did. I asked him if his parents were hunters too after that.
“Um… my mom? Not really. She’s way too nice. My dad? Oh hell yeah, one of the best hunters that ever lived, even though most hunters never really knew his name.”
My brother even mentioned to me one time that my shadow duel training was impressive because it looked like I was actually sparring with another person. Little did he know that Nyx had been my sparring partner all this time, regardless of his young age. Alongside with the training in preparation of my upcoming Glaive enlisting, most likely after high school, both my dad and brother started taking me to a few of their bounty hunting quests over the weekend and experience how it’s really like hunting a daemon.
Dad said to me one time, “A lot of the duties as a Glaive when you are out in the battlefield are eradicating daemons. The Niffs themselves aren’t a problem, but the daemons they unleash on our lands is where the real problem is.” That was why my hunter family decided to take me to simple bounty hunting quests so I can gain more experience.
Eventually, sometime halfway till the end of my second year of high school, I finally revealed to my four friends of my intention of joining the Glaives after high school graduation. Aaron and Cecil were also aiming to join the Glaives too, while the girls didn't really think about what they're going to do right after high school. Still, they all had the same destination goal: Insomnia. To us outside wall Lucians, Insomnia is the City of Dreams. All those bright lights, the hottest fashion trends, those stylish fast cars, the coolest gadgets such as a smartphone, those tall skyscrapers, that trendy food that you see at the strip malls and even at the street corners, but most of all, sighing at the majestic towers of the Citadel. But of course, for us to get there, we need to have the right plans before we can jump in and proceed. Almost everyone in high school is shooting for Insomnia as their lifelong goal after school. We have a university campus here, but everyone is really aiming for the top university located in the Crown City. And of course, there are others like me, who wants to get into civil service by joining the Glaives.
When third-year high school began, my friends and I decided to start earning some money early if we were going to move to Insomnia. Just like the musical buskers that we see in almost every corner around the streets of Lestallum, I decided to show off my guitar and songwriting skills and decided to do some part-time busking ourselves. Even though we were small town compared to all the professional buskers around us, we did gain some audiences and earned enough money for a possible cheap apartment rental fee in the Crown City. Most of the songs we sang were covers from our local artists that we hear on the radio. Love songs, to be specific, because both Celestine and Lena wanted to be the lead singers. Aaron was the other guitarist and Cecil played the bongos. We performed in the streets for about two hours every other afternoon right after school, and then four hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We often joked about becoming a famous band one day, touring all over Lucis, and most of all, performing in front of the king and the royal family. Of course, with the war and those damn daemons frolicking around, the dream about us becoming famous was never going to happen. I truly missed those musical days.
Even though it may sound a little strange that I’ve listened to my imaginary friend Nyx instead of taking advice from someone in real life, I never regretted that decision. Now that I’m writing down this short memoir, I regretted nothing as a Glaive. I was proud and honored to have given my services for Lucis, even if I almost got killed doing them. I didn’t regret meeting wonderful people among the Glaives, even though the majority of them are no longer here with us. Another thing that shocked about the things Nyx have advised me as a naive Lestallum teenager was that he was right on many things. Because of that, I was convinced then that this kid definitely did some time traveling somehow, and he was currently at that young age when he did it. But of all people, even I ask this today, why me? He could’ve chosen some random person, but why specifically me?
Eventually, the day finally arrived when Nyx was ready to disappear from my life. He did say that he will leave my life once I’ve met new friends. Apparently, he wasn’t talking about my childhood friends, but the friends that I will eventually meet when I got older. I graduated with full honors back in high school, though I wasn’t the Valedictorian. I earned two scholarships: one sponsored by the Meldacio Hunter HQ, known as the Auburnbrie Family Scholarship, awarded to children of retired, former, and current hunters. The other one was sponsored by EXINERIS Industries, called the Daughters of EXINERIS scholarship, awarded to daughters of retired, former, and current EXINERIS employees. I wrote a scholarship essay regarding my desire to join the Kingsglaive, and how I felt that I qualify, both physically and mentally, from training and learning from both my parents because one was a hunter and the other a senior EXINERIS engineer, and that both fields can really help me shape up to be a qualified candidate as a new Kingsglaive soldier.
“The time has almost come and I am running out of time,” Nyx said to me when we got home from my graduation ceremony. “Anytime now and I’ll be gone.”
“Do you really have to leave?”
“I don’t have a choice. I came to the past to meet you because I had a dream that the real heroes who will save my parents would be you and the friends whom you’ll eventually meet.”
“You’re still avoiding so many questions that I’ve asked you since I was a kid. I’m already eighteen, and I’m old enough to listen and understand Nyx.”
“The only thing that I could tell you about the consequences of my plea… if my parents die before I am born… all of Eos will see its destruction, and I’m not just talking about the Starscourge.”
I opened my eyes in shock to hear his last few words then. “Starscourge? What are you talking about? What do you mean all of Eos will be destroyed if your parents die? I don’t get all this! And another thing, why me?”
Even then, he still eluded all of my questions. Instead, he would reply to me with something else somewhat related to them, but not direct answers. “That’s why I convinced you to aim for Kingsglaive. It’s the only way for you and your friends to save my mom and dad. When the right times come, you’ll see what I mean.”
“Nyx, please… at least, give me some real answers so that I’ll know how to act when the time comes.”
“I’m sorry, Briony. I know I’m eluding you and all, but I also don’t want you and your friends to die before you become heroes!”
One eyebrow raised at his last few words again. “Heroes? What heroes?”
“From where I come from, you and your friends are heroes. To me, you are all my heroes, so… maybe traveling back to this time frame was a mistake, but I don’t know what else to do. I want to be sure that the same people lauded from my time frame really do become heroes. You just happen to be one of those names.”
Even though I found myself completely confused than ever, he immediately changed the subject. “Let’s not talk about me right now. Starting today, your true aim now is your enlisting to the Kingsglaive. I’ll continue helping you shape up to be the perfect candidate, the real deal Glaive, so don’t worry.”
A week later, the recruiters from the Kingsglaive traveled all the way here from the Crown City to find potential recruits to join their ranks. I remembered not feeling confident in myself when I noticed that many of those interested in enlisting in the Glaives were stockier, taller, and a lot more athletic than I was. Most of the Lestallum-based recruits were males, mainly because most of the females here were all dead set in becoming future EXINERIS technicians and engineers. They rather study the meteor shards than provide any civil service to the king and the rest of the kingdom. I don’t blame them though.
When I got to the booth after waiting in a long line, one of the recruits gazed right at me. The other one, a female blonde with a strict stare right at me began to welcome me, offered and exchanged handshakes, and then the oral interviewing began.
“Alright, Miss Pacem. First of all, tell me more about yourself, your background, just anything.”
“Well, I’m a native-born Lestallian, sad to say I’ve never been outside Lestallum before except for having work trips with my dad and brother to the Meldacio Hunter HQ…”
The other recruiter, a slightly older, balding official, joined in the quick interviewing. “Meldacio HQ? Your father is a hunter?”
“Yes, Sir. My father is one of the senior commanders under David Auburnbrie. My older brother is a hunter too.”
“And your mother?”
“Senior engineer at the EXINERIS power plant. My sister is an intern technician for now.”
“In a way, I could see why you are interested in joining the Glaives, Miss,” the blonde recruiter made her assumption. “You can’t decide between a hunter and a power plant engineer and that you have found a different path.”
I led out a deep sigh and explained myself. “I’m interested in joining the Glaives because civil service for the king and kingdom became my calling. Besides, the daemons are becoming a nuisance to everyone around here, especially in Cleigne and Duscae and now we’re having more problems with the Niffs barging in our territory more often than before. If I had a chance to become a Glaive, one of the things I’d like to do is to bust through these bases and blow them up!” Quickly, I cleared my throat after finding myself going out of control with my disappointment and changed the subject. “Anyway. I think I’m a qualified candidate to be a Glaive. I’ve been trained in various hunter-style self-defense arts by both my father and brother since childhood, but never really messed around with any form of magic.”
“All Glaive recruits were not born or are naturally gifted with magic,” the older recruiter said. “After you submit your application for review, and if you do pass, you will send a letter regarding your physical test. The physical test will also take place here in Lestallum with the senior Glaive officers. After the physical test and review, you will receive another letter about a week later, indicating if you are accepted in the battalion or not. If not, you have the option of waiting six more months for you to try again.”
“With the grave situations that we’re having with the Niffs and daemons even at the outskirts of the Crown City, we would need as many potential Glaives as we can enlist, so we do hope that you do well through the enlisting process,” the blonde Glaive officer said.
I was quite surprised with what I’m hearing from the recruits. My doubts about being judged by my petite stature have disappeared. They actually saw me for who I was and not be judged by the way I look, such as my frailty and my diminutive height. After the quick interview, we shook hands and made my way out. Right behind me were my four other friends.
Aaron and Cecil originally planned to join the Glaives in the first place, just before I made my announcement that I’m interested in joining the Glaives back then. I never really knew what Celestine’s and Lena’s reasons why they decided to join the Glaives. Probably so they can follow Aaron around, just like back in middle school and even in high school. When I got home from the enlisting, I asked Nyx’s evaluation of me, knowing that he was hanging around nearby while I was having my interview.
“You did well, Briony!”
I frowned at Nyx’s compliment. “Dude, I looked like an idiot there.”
“But the Glaives don’t really care. They don’t really care who you are as a person, they care more about what you can do for the Glaives, for the king, for all of Lucis. Your background in self-defense hunter style and your wits from your engineer mom’s genes, you’re going to make it in. I bet you.”
“Well, if you say so, Nyx…”
Eventually, I received a letter a week later informing me that I got accepted to do their physical test. Two weeks after that, I went through my preliminary physical and mental tests. They wanted to be sure that my body was strong and capable enough to handle some powerful magic, which I eventually learned, derives from King Regis himself. That made me a lot more nervous because I never really wanted to mess around with magic, but I couldn’t believe that using magic shared by the king himself is how these Glaives become so elite. The mental test just gave me a series of multiple-choice questions regarding what I know about Lucis, what I know about what’s going on in the kingdom right now, with the war against the Niffs and all. It also asked me to write an opinion essay regarding the impacts of my hometown and my home region by the centuries-old war between Lucis and Niflheim. I wrote everything that I felt and then submitted it to the testers.
One week after that period of prelims, I received a letter from Insomnia regarding my enlistment to the Kingsglaive. With flying colors, Mom said, I passed the preliminary physical and mental tests. My body and my mind combined were strong and sturdy enough to handle the coveted powers of the Lucian Kings. All new recruits had to move to Insomnia to start our training to become soldiers of the Kingsglaive.
Then, a month later, I packed my bags, joined the other lucky high school grads who got into the Glaives on one try. Aaron, Celestine, Lena, and Cecil did not pass the prelims on the first try, therefore they had to wait six more months to have that chance again. I was sad to leave them, and I felt it was a bit unfair that I got to go while they would have to stay put and wait.
Even at the bus traveling all the way to Insomnia, Nyx sat next to me. I found myself sitting alone in the back row because I wasn’t really much in the mood for chatting and mingling with other Lestallum kids. The little boy in black stared at me and then patting me on the shoulder. I still couldn’t believe how real this kid was and he wasn’t exactly a figment of my messed up imagination. I still don’t have an explanation how a real person from the future can only be seen by one person and not by everyone else.
That night, upon arrival at the Kingsglaive Headquarters not too far from the Citadel, we were given our gear and our keys to our assigned dorms. I got a single bed dorm with no dorm mates. At least I wouldn’t look too weird when I talk to Nyx from everyone else’s eyes. I looked out my window and caught a majestic night view of the Citadel’s united towers.
“The Citadel… wow… I can’t believe that I’m actually here.”
“Yeah,” I heard Nyx whisper behind me. “Whenever I see the Citadel, it really makes me cry.”
“Oh? Is it because it’s the symbol of Insomnia?”
“Um, yeah! That’s what it is. When I see the Citadel, I always longed for home.”
“Maybe when I get on free times, you can show me around Insomnia, and maybe you can show me the place where you currently live too… in your time frame, I mean.”
“I’m afraid… that isn’t going to happen.”
“Huh? How come? I’ve made it this far thanks to you. Why won’t you show me around Insomnia?”
“Because… today.... tonight… is my last day being here with you. I am leaving soon.”
Now that I’m on my own without anyone I know of in this lonely dorm, I cried several tears when he finally declared his farewell. The kid was annoying as hell but he was my only friend with me right now. And now, he was leaving.
“Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, Briony, but I wanted you to focus on getting into the Kingsglaive all this time and not get distracted by other things, such as me leaving.”
“Nyx… why? I mean, you annoyed the hell out of me big time throughout those years, but you’ve really become my… my very special friend… even though I’m a lot older and somewhat more mature now and you’re still… that age.”
He smiled at me, nodding, and said these words:
“You are now a Kingsglaive soldier, Briony. As a Glaive, sometime in the future, you will be meeting my parents. And when you do, you and the friends you will eventually meet as a Glaive will do all you can to protect and save them. When you do, I’ll return to you, and only this time, all of your friends and loved ones will finally get to see me. Until then…”
“Nyx, I promise. I’ll do my best as a Glaive and risk my life to protect your parents from any harm. That, we’ll promise you.”
“Then, no more crying, Briony. Seriously, you need to get over being too emotional, you know?”
I wiped my tears quickly with a piece of tissue at the side table. “Sorry if I cry a lot, Nyx. Maybe that part of me will never disappear.”
“Glaives don’t cry, not like this anyway. Now, you must look forward, Briony. I’ll be waiting for you years from today.”
“Nyx, don’t go. Not yet. Please…”
I embraced him tightly, still with the unending tears from my eyes. Slowly and gradually, he faded like thin air and disappeared right into my arms. Still, he was right. No more crying and look forward to tomorrow and beyond.
Two weeks after I started my training, I was already assigned to two mentors. One of them, originally from Galahd, just happened to be one of the Kingsglaive’s most respected and revered soldier that earned him the nickname of “hero.” Coincidentally, his name was Ulric. First name, Nyx.
Thinking about little Nyx, I thought that Nyx Ulric must be his father. During my physical mentorship with him and his best friend, Libertus Ostium, I even teased to see if Nyx Ulric had a girlfriend, but he spoiled it when he revealed that he had none, because he prioritizes his duties as a Glaive and serving the current king, King Regis, and all of Lucis was his priority. He even instilled in me that as a true Glaive, I should also have the same priorities as he does and not let any form of emotional connections with others get in the way. I can tell right away that Nyx Ulric has a sense of responsibility and that he aims to serve King Regis and all of Lucis as part of his and Libertus’ fight to liberate their home province of Galahd from the Niffs.
Four years as a Glaive, fulfilling all of my assignments, missions, and battles, little by little, I began to lose the memory of little Nyx, as if he really left me on purpose for good. I mean, he already left from my eyes then, but lately, I was beginning to feel less of his presence and my mind was becoming blurry that even I’m forgetting the image of that black-clad, black-haired, blue-eyed kid. Next thing I knew, many moments and missions later, little Nyx ceased to exist in my life.
If only little Nyx would tell me who his parents were. I was so sure then that Nyx Ulric may possibly be little Nyx’s father because he also had dark hair and blue eyes and was also black-clad. Then again, all Glaives are black-clad anyway. Even I was also getting used to wearing a lot of black too, mainly my Glaive uniform. If it wasn’t my training mentor and eventual squad leader, then who were little Nyx’s mom and dad?
I no longer feel little Nyx’s spirit lingering around me. However, deep within my heart, I will wait until little Nyx returns to my life once again. I didn’t know what was coming in my future, and I never really knew who these friends little Nyx was mentioning to me about.
Even as of this writing, I’m still waiting for little Nyx to appear in my life again. Maybe some stranger, a couple, would just come up to me and recognize me, and then they’ll introduce themselves as Nyx’s parents.
So far, that hasn’t happened yet. He still has yet to show up.