Chapter 1: Many Choices
Thanks to Selene Dreamwalker for editing!
Noctis Lucis Caelum, Crown Prince of Lucis
Noctis closed his locker with a sigh. Prompto still hadn't shown up to school. They didn't share any morning classes, so he wasn't surprised about missing him then, but it was the end of the school day now. Pulling out his phone, now able to connect after the school turned off the spoofer, he pulled up Promptos' number.
N : Prom? You OK?
P : I'm fine, sorry for missing school.
N : It's cool I got your work, where are you?
P : The hospital closest to my place.
N : ?!?
“Noctis? Is everything alright?” Ignis startled him by asking. He must have walked up while Noctis was distracted with worry. Prompto had landed in the hospital before because of people objecting to the Prince of Lucis being friends with a 'obvious Nif'. He was still grateful Prompto hadn't pulled away after that. Noctis gave him a wild look and pulled Ignis towards the car.
“Prompto's in the hospital!”
They both scrambled into the car but paused when Noctis phone beeped. Ignis fired off a text to Gladio as Noctis read out the first reply.
P : I'm Fine! It's not for me...
N : Who is it for then?..one of your parents?
P : No. remember that week a few months ago when you got pulled out of school for that round of meetings?
N : you mean when you where hung over for three days after?
P : Yea it's someone I met then.....I'm gonna be a dad.
Noctis stared at his phone, shocked. With a sound like a balloon dying, Noctis thumped his head on the seat in front of him. Ignis had pulled out of the parking lot and started towards the hospital closest to Promptos' house. He handed the phone to Ignis at a stop light.
“Well that's..” Ignis was speechless as he handed the phone back. He shook his head and continued driving.
“I know! I didn't expect that. He's the responsible one between the two of us.”
“Did he mention anything about whomever he is with? And why did he get drunk, he's sixteen.”
“Hmm, I think he said he said something about helping a cute girl piss off her family? And it was probably one of those stupid teenager things he can't do while we hang out. He did swear off tequila forever.”
He slid out of the car as soon as it stopped in the hospital parking lot, Gladio pulling in on his motorcycle beside them. He usually followed them home on it, something about checking for tails. Pulling on a hoodie he quickly pulled up the hat and put on some sunglasses. One disguise, check.
N : We're here what room are you in?
P : 301 Long term care.
N : brt
Noctis was concerned now, why is a pregnant girl in long term care? Following Ignis to the front desk he actually had to pull rank, the receptionist had some thing against Ignis' accent. So what if Iggy was from Tenebrae? Gladio glaring had the receptionist scrambling to be more professional and made sure that she wouldn't alert the press. Before they knocked on the door he turned to Ignis.
“How hard would it be for you to dig in to the hospital records? Not the patient records, just the ones from the hospital?”
“Not too difficult at all, but why would you want me too?”
“Iggy, she was all smiles until you spoke, and you can be kind of intimidating. She still tried to throw you out, just because your aren't completely Lucian. What if she's doing that to other non-natives?”
A dark look crossed Ignis' face. “I'll look into it.”
Knocking on the door got them a soft “Come in”. Quietly, since they didn't know who else was in the room, Ignis opened the door. He followed with Gladio on his heels. Inside Prompto was siting beside the bed of a girl about their age. He gave them a shaky smile and waved them over. She had classic Lucian features with dark hair down to her shoulders and lake blue eyes. And a baby bump, she was at least five months along if it was from Promptos' bender. She looked farther along than that though.
“Hey guys, this is Cascade. Cas these are my friends, Noctis, Ignis and Gladio.”
Prompto introduced them and pointed to each of them in turn.
They greeted each other and then her eyes went wide and she turned to Prompto.
“Did you just introduce me to the Prince of Lucis while I'm in a hospital gown?”
“Not on purpose! It's just habit to tell them where I am when they ask. Just pretend they're professional impersonators or something.”
She gave him a look like he had a second head, before turning back to the others.
“It's nice to meet you, Your Highness, and the rest of you as well. Please excuse me for not bowing but I'm not allowed out of bed at the moment.”
Noctis hurried to reassure her.
“No, No it's fine I wouldn't want a pregnant person to bow anyway. Actually maybe you should just pretend I'm a professional impersonator. Call me Noctis.”
That got him a laugh. She seemed more at ease as they all sat down. Suddenly her face went green and Prompto shoved the wast basket in front of her and held her hair out of her face. Ignis offered her a glass of water from the pitcher on the night stand, careful not to mess with the medicine drip.
“Is severe morning sickness why you are in the hospital Miss... I'm sorry I don't think you told me your last name.”
She finished rinsing her mouth and gave a bitterly calm grin.
“I don't have one Mr. Scientia, my parents disowned me when they learned about the baby. This is after leaving me locked in this hospital for a year without visiting, of course.”
Noctis was shocked, that was a thing that really happened? Looking around the hospital room, it did look more lived in than he would expect, with the walls covered in pictures. Some of them where pretty familiar. Was this the instamoogle friend Prompto had mentioned? Wait he recognized that stuffed cactuar, Prom had won it at a festival last month and mailed it to someone. Gladio sat up an offended look on his face.
“Your parents haven't visited you in the hospital? For over a year?” She nodded peaceably, seemingly unbothered.
“No need to waste any more time on a disobedient daughter that's going to die anyway. Much better to focus their attention on the good son. As long as the bills are paid I won't call a reporter about it. Think of the scandal.”
Her tranquility was suddenly much more ominous. Prompto apparently liked his women mean.
“Die anyway?” Ignis inquired quietly. She tipped her head to him.
“I was diagnosed with Nagas' Creep three years ago. My parents checked me in to the long term care ward when I lost feeling in my toes. They disowned me three days ago when I told them about the baby and that I'm keeping it. I hit stage four this morning and can no longer move my feet. The doctors gave me an estimated lifespan of one year. If I get rid of the baby. That's why I called Prompto this morning. Stage three can last years, I thought I'd have more time.”
She looked down at her hands, laced over her bump. She was still tranquil, but it seemed sad now instead of defiant. Prompto set his hand on her shoulder in support and she looked back up, eyes hard.
“I want to have it, but if Prompto can't take care of it, I'm selfish enough to want more time. He says he wants it, so as his friends, will you help us find a way he can? We have to make the decision today.”
“Please guys?” Promptos' voice was level.
The three of them stared at her for a minute, then looked at Prompto who looked as determined as he had ever seen him. He also had a mostly hidden look of longing. He knew Prompto wasn't close to his parents and didn't have any siblings. When was the last time Prompto had asked for something? Had he ever asked for something? Decided, he sat forward with a clap of his hands.
“I'll help. What needs to be done?”
Ignis and Gladio were quick to chime their agreement. Gladio still looked like he wanted to punch Cascades' parents.
“I'm going to need a job that will let me finish my schooling and has good insurance for dependents. The only thing we came up with was the Crownsguard. I'll need a new place, I wont get any help from my parents.”
The last part was said with a sad and bitter huff.
“Why won't your parents help?” Gladio said confusedly.
“Heh, my parents haven't been home for eight months, big guy. They were home for two days and gone for five months before that. They pay for most of the utilities and the house. I work part time to feed and clothe myself. They never send enough to cover it, they never have.” Prompto scrubbed a hand over his face refusing to meet their eyes. After a beat Ignis determinedly continued the conversation.
“You have to be eighteen to join the Guard, and you're too well known to fake it.” He pulled out his tablet as he spoke.
“Damn, that as all we could think of. Being a hunter doesn't have insurance at all, unless you join up with one of the guilds. Even then they don't take amateurs.”
“We'll find something Prom, If nothing else I'll ask my dad to hire you as a cleaner or something.” Gladio promised.
Prompto grinned back, thankful.
“My brother, Silence, wants to help but he's kind of henpecked and younger than we are. But he would probably baby sit.” Cascade put in.
“What about the Kingsglaive?” Noctis said, suddenly remembering one of his Dad's rants about the councilors. Ignis obviously knew what he meant, as he started typing furiously.
“Aren't they part of the Guard?” Gladio asked.
“No, not really. Dad was complaining that the Council wouldn't let him raise the minimum age, since it was set according to the old laws from when we had a standing army. When dad became King, he changed the Crownsguard age to eighteen from eleven.”
“Eleven?” Cascade squawked.
“Some of my ancestors were assholes. The Marshal, Cor Leonis, was only twelve when he joined up. It's one of the reasons dad raised the age limit. The Kingsglaive was technically re-formed and they used the old template for it, without checking thoroughly enough, so the age limit was still eleven. The council hasn't let him raise it. So officially the age limit is the same as the Crownsguard, but legally it's still eleven.”
“That's nuts.” Prompto said flatly. “But convenient. What do I need to do to sign up?”
Ignis hummed and looked up from his tablet.
“Congratulations, you are now an emancipated minor. Now you don't need parental permission to join the Glaive. The next round of training starts tomorrow, so you need to be at the west entrance of the Citadel tomorrow morning at six. I assumed you would want to join as quickly as possible?”
Prompto blinked, incredulous.
“Uh..yeah thanks Iggy. Did you just hack the citizenship records? And do I need to take anything with me?”
“It's not hacking if you already have access.” Ignis smirked. “And no you shouldn't need anything. The cadet uniforms might be too big, perhaps. I back dated your admission a bit, but they wont have any in your specific size.”
“I can sew a hem, so I'll just take a sewing kit. Will I be able to list Cascade as a dependent?”
“Oh, that's a good idea. Let my former parents wonder.”
“Not unless you marry her or adopt her as a sister.”
“Prompto, will you marry me?” Cascade asked mischievously.
Prompto let out a wheeze of laughter and nodded. There was obviously an inside joke the rest of them where missing.
“Do you want a ceremony or should I just slip something in?” Ignis asked, amused.
Cascade just waved a hand at Ignis, so he went ahead and started typing.
Noctis, suddenly struck with a sense of mischief, stood up and said,
“Everyone deserves a wedding, luckily as Prince of Lucis I can perform one. Especially since Specs is going to hack it into existence anyway. We are gathered here to day to witness the joining of Prompto Argentum and Cascade-”
“Scientia,” Ignis put in, then turned to Cascade. “Welcome to the family, cousin.”
He went back to typing. Cascade stared at him in shock. Noctis however, knew Ignis was serious so continued.
“We are gathered hear to day to witness the joining of Prompto Argentum and Cascade Scientia in holy matrimony. Does anyone object? “
“Am I interrupting something?” A voice came from the door.
A doctor had walked in, but pulled back abruptly when Gladio quickly moved in between him and the rest of them.
“Gladio that's Cascades' doctor, please let him in. Hey Doc, want to be a wedding witness?” Prompto had moved to Gladios' side and put a hand on his arm.
“A wedding? Have you two made a choice then?” He came in nervously, then noticed Noctis.
“Your Highness! I didn't know you were in the building.” He looked even more nervous, so Noctis figured he should calm him down.
“I made sure not to be recognized, Doctor. I'm not here in an official capacity, just to visit a friend. And officiate a wedding.” He added as an afterthought.
The doctor looked politely blank. Cascade broke in.
“I'm keeping it doctor. Prompto is going to take custody when it's born.”
“You're sure?” At her nod he continued. “Very well. You should know it's twins then, does that change your answer?”
Prompto sucked in air so quickly he began coughing and collapsed into the chair, but sat up after a moment.
“No, Doctor it doesn't change my answer. I'm going to do my best.”
“He'll hardly be alone in this Doctor Low, while her parents might be behaving horridly, my uncle and I will be glad to have my cousins stay with us if needed.”
The doctor looked at Cascade, who just smiled serenely, and sighed.
“If you use a wheelchair you can use the rooftop garden.”
The five of them, and a few of the other long term patients and hospital staff they picked up along the way, gathered in front of a fountain. Prompto was kneeling in front of Cascades' wheelchair. Noctis had a copy of the cosmology and recited the Melting of the Glacians' Heart. Despite Ifrit turning on humanity it was still considered very romantic, and he was weak to the small child that let him borrow the book. He started the wedding part again.
“We are gathered here today to witness the joining of Prompto Argentum and Cascade Scientia in holy matrimony. Should anyone object speak now or forever hold your peace.” After a moment of silence he continued. “Recite your vows.”
“Cascade, we met at a rave and had a wild week that made me think a storm had somehow become a person. We continued talking over text and pictures. We became friends. Then this morning you told me you were in the hospital, and would be for the rest of your life. You had snuck out of the hospital in an act of defiance that is going to lead to the best thing in my life. We won't have long together, and I'm not in romantic love with you. But you are my friend and so I promise that I will raise our children to the best of my ability, and that they will know you and just how much you loved them."
Cascades' smile was still serene no matter the tears shining in her eyes.
“Prompto, I introduced myself to you at that rave because there's something about you that brightens up the room, like sunshine. That week we spent together was one of the best I've ever had. You befriended me despite me never telling you the circumstances of my life, and you never blamed me for hiding my pregnancy. You even helped me let go of the bitterness I felt at my family. You are giving me the best thing I could ever ask for, a legacy. I'm not in love with you either, but our children will live on, and you will raise them to be themselves, and they will know me. Thank you.”
Now Prompto had tears in his eyes, despite the beaming grin. Noctis continued before anyone actually started crying.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Everyone applauded when Prompto leaned forward to press a kiss against her cheek. Noctis wondered what it said about him that he preferred this wedding to the fancy ones he always had to go to. At least no one was going to suggest coating the wedding outfits in gold, he wasn't even sure you could do that with hospital gowns. As the party broke up and he followed Ignis back to the room he sent a text to his dad.
N: I officiated a wedding today. Great after school activity. 10/10 would repeat.
D: What? There wasn't any thing on your schedule was there?
N: No, it was impromptu. If any one asks why Prompto got married to the Lizburns daughter smile and avoid the question. They shouldn't know and I don't think anyone had a camera.
Noctis waved at Gladio and ducked into the bathroom connected to the room when his phone went off.
“Hello Noctis.” Dad sounded amused. “How did your friend marry a comatose girl?”
“Is that the story they're giving at Court?” Noctis kept his voice mild.
“I take it she's not in a coma then?” Dad sighed.
“She just hit stage four of Nagas' Creep. She's been in the long term care ward for over a year, and they've never once visited. Then three days ago she told them she was pregnant and keeping it, so they disowned her. She had to black mail them with the press to make them continue paying her medical bills.”
“....Do you want to come to dinner tonight? It will give me a reason to cancel on the Lizburns.” Dad sounded hopeful, but resigned.
“Sure.” Noctis said with a wet laugh. “I'll bring some take out and we can hide in the Crystal room so your secretary can't interrupt again.”
Cascade Argentum nee' Scientia (Lizburn)
After Prompto and Ignis (her surprise new cousin) helped her back on to the bed, Prompto settled into the left chair and Ignis settled on the right. Ignis leaned forward to speak with them both. Noctis and Gladio had gotten diverted somewhere.
“Prompto, you are going to be confined to the Citadel for the next month. Basic training takes three months, and I will try to make sure that you aren't on a mission when the time comes, but you are going to be very busy soon.”
“I know Iggy, we figured that would happen.” Prompto replied with a sad smile. He nodded.
“You are probably wondering why I adopted you?”
Cascade raised a sardonic eyebrow. “You think?”
Ignis quirked his mouth. “Your parents sound like mine did, but I had an uncle to take me in, you didn't.”
“...Thank you, cousin.” He bowed his head to her and turned to Prompto.
“You still need to pack up your house, you can store your things at my apartment until you find a place.”
Prompto nodded and turned to her, Ignis stepped away to give them privacy then stepped back looking unsure.
“May I visit?”
“Of course, all of you can, I'd be happy for the company.”
He smiled and left them to their goodbyes. They stared at each other for a moment wondering how they got here. She smirked wickedly.
“Get me Nyx Ulric's autograph, and Crowe Altius'.”
“Err, if I can get up the courage to talk to people that pretty....”
They share a short semi-hysterical laugh. Everything had happened so fast. She had thought marriage was one of the things forever beyond her. The wedding was absurd, she loved it. After they quit laughing she reached for his hand, he grasped hers so she wouldn't have to fumble.
“Are you scared, Prompto? You volunteered to go to war, just to keep them.” She asked in a murmur.
“No. Not of going to war anyway.” He answered just as softly. “I fear not being there for them, like my parents or being a bad parent like yours. But then I think about not having them, now that I know they're possible, and it's like something trying to rip my heart out. If I have to walk into hell just to keep them I will, if I falter during training or a mission, I'll just have to remember why I'm doing it.”
He had steel-bright determination in his eyes, and she remembered his passing talk of losing weight just to make a friend, of helping a dog when he didn't really know how to take care of himself, and she knew he wouldn't give up. Ever. It put her final fears to rest. She would have these children and she would be remembered.
“Go on then, show them what you're made of.”
With one last press of a kiss to her forehead, and a round of hugs she wished she could feel, they were gone. It was a bit of a relief, funnily enough. She wasn't used to so much social interaction, not anymore. From social butterfly to recluse. Having an anxiety attack when you get back from a wild week, that you snuck out to have before you lost feeling completely, sucked. Although apparently marrying Prompto got her adopted by the other three, since at least one of them came every day, especially during the lockdown month. And when they couldn't they texted her all day and Gladio even introduced her to his sister, who occasionally came without one of the others.
“You'll have to make sure they don't go overboard, Miss Iris, your brother seems like he'd be bit of a pushover.”
“He really is!” Iris said with glee.
“Hey.” Gladio protested, but didn't argue.
Ignis came most often, keeping her updated on Prompto during his month of lockdown. The first time he came made her cry. Why was Prompto so sweet? She was trying not to fall in love with him. Her heart was already breaking enough.
“While we where packing up his things, he asked me to give you this.” Ignis said, pulling out a video camera. “He said that with you wanting to leave a legacy, you might want to record some videos for the children. This will take higher quality videos than a cell phone would.”
She touched the camera with a trembling hand. One of her main regrets was that she would never be able to sing her children to sleep, or read them a story. With this she could. She could explain her reasoning, tell them she loved them even before she knew she would never know them. She burst into tears, bitterly regretting that she couldn't feel it. Ignis panicked a bit before she told him why she was crying. His panicked face made her laugh and stop crying. Wow, pregnancy hormones were weird. Luckily the next few visits where less emotionally volatile.
“I will admit to underestimating him, I had no doubt he would pass, but I never thought he would do so well. He'd learned a few self defense moves from Gladio, but ranged fighting seems to be his forté. They won't start on magic until the first month of basic training is over of course, but he has already beat the firearm scores of the entire Guard and Glaive. He was put up for sniper training and accepted for the pay hike.”
“I knew he had good aim after...wait that might have been illegal never mind. How much do Glaives make anyway? It's got to be pretty high, I know Crownsguard get hazard pay if they hit combat, and the Kingsglaive was made for it.”
Ignis blinked, “I'm not sure actually, let me check,” and pulled his tablet out of the Armiger. After typing for a few minutes he frowned.
“That can't be right, I will need to look at the physical records.”
This lead to a very strange text conversation with Noctis, who she wasn't sure if she got along with or not. Considering her main hobby was watching political debates like it was a chocobo race and his tendency to ignore politics despite being over-educated on them, they had a lot of debates on them. He possibly blamed her for him taking an interest in the refugee situation, because of the receptionist. Or maybe he just wanted to be more responsible now that his best friend was having to.
UN : How exactly did you find a conspiracy form your hospital bed?
C : Who is this?
UN : Noctis, sorry. Don't spread my number around please?
She fiddled with her phone for a minute, glaring at her fingers until they worked. Talk to text was so much easier.
C : I wont. What conspiracy did I find?
N : The Glaive was getting paid like a quarter of what they should have been. And there is some assholes on the council that'd been blocking petitions.
C : ...I just wanted to know how much my husband was going to make?!
N : yeah we aren't mentioning that, just an anonymous source. No need to have people think Prom is making it on favors.
C : have fun cleaning the castle?
N : thanks
She got along best with Gladio though. They had similar interests in historical politics and books. He was kind enough to read to her on days when she couldn't force her self to move. It made her wistful, what would her life have been like if her parents cared about anything besides their reputation? Would her little brother read to her, despite preferring comic books?
“Why are you doing this? Is it just for Prompto?” She broke in once, while he was reading a passage out of one of her favorite books. He gave a considering look, which she appreciated, she liked honesty.
“A little bit. But we care about you too. We just met you, but you are going to leave a major impact on our lives. Prompto's our brother, we aren't going anywhere. I can't do much to help him, but I can be here for you, to learn about you enough to have something to tell your children when they're old enough to ask.”
She blinked wetly with a trembling smile. “What are you going to tell them?”
“That their mother was a storm in human form, and at the end of her life she was the hush after the storm, when the only thing you can do is look at the path of destruction. The ringing, ominous stillness before you find out how your life has changed. Your children are going to be forces of nature, and whatever you said inspired Noctis to take up all his duties as Crown Prince. You might be frail in body, but you've caused more change in a few short weeks than anyone I've ever known.”
She was speechless. She knew she had asked a few questions that Noctis had been frustrated to not have answers for, but the Crown duties thing was new. Was Gladio trying to make her cry? Because she was crying.
“Don't let anyone take advantage or your poet's heart Gladio, find someone who loves you. You're too sweet to be real.”
Ha, she made him blush. The most bittersweet visit was about three weeks into knowing them, when Noctis came by with a different guard than Gladio. He brought her brother. It was sweet to be able to see her brother, but bitter to know that he was only able to visit because her parents had been arrested for treason. Noctis explained after her brother cried himself to sleep. Oh how she wished she could feel his hug.
“Your parents were part of a ring of high ranking nobles who were bribing strategically placed people in order to suppress refugees. Including the receptionist here. Iggy was already digging into her background on my behalf and managed to trace a series of phone calls that led to the crime ring.”
“Who's going to take care of my brother? I can't put that on Prompto, too. Will they let him visit?”
“Silence can come visit whenever he wants now. Lord Scientia agreed to foster him, but I wanted to be the one to tell you.”
“Thank you. Thank him for me as well please. How did you get a warrant?”
“I asked Dad for one.”
She stared at him for a second, then had to fight off giggles so she wouldn't wake Silence.
“You asked the King for a warrant randomly, and he just gave you one?”
“Well I had to explain why I needed it, but yes. I think he's still a bit weirded out by me stepping up to my responsibility's.”
“Why did you do that any way?”
Noctis finally sat down and checked that Silence was still asleep.
“Some of this is a secret.”
“I promise to take your secrets to my grave.” She said with a Cheshire grin. Noctis quickly looked covered his mouth sorry for his laugh. She just waved off his apology, she had said it on purpose.
“Morbid much? But that's part of it, too. It isn't known outside of a few but the Wall and the Glaives magic, well Lucis Caelum magic in general, damages the Royal powering it. I've known my whole life that the Wall was killing my father in front of me and I didn't react well when he started wearing a knee brace and using a cane. I even moved out of the Citadel. But seeing you accept death so gracefully made me ashamed. I had dinner with my father for the first time in months the night I met you, and it was painful to see how grateful he was for me to just speak to him. And I was sitting there wondering how I could spend more time with him when I thought of what Prompto, my best friend who is practically my brother, was doing. Stepping up and taking responsibility, even going to war, just to have a chance at a family. So I stepped up, I will do as much as I can for my dad, maybe he'll last longer if I do.”
After moment he said “Sorry for spilling that all over you.” He looked a bit embarrassed, so she flopped her hand at him until he took it.
“I asked, Your Highness. If I wasn't willing to listen, I wouldn't have. But you know there is nothing wrong with remaining a child for a little longer, right?”
“I know. But I'm stubborn, and public school isn't really worth it without Prompto there. They actually had the gall to ask if I had finally had 'that dirty Nif' arrested. I don't think they believed me when I told them he joined the Glaive, and I didn't mention you.”
“I wouldn't have cared but it might have made trouble for Prompto. It's sweet that you want to look out for him. You know, I've heard grand babies make most good parents happy.”
Oh look, the Prince turned into a tomato. Wasn't it meant to be a pumpkin?
Cor Leonis, Marshal of the Crownsguard
Fuck this month, they're two weeks into it and it's already gone weird. Noctis moved back into the Citadel and took up the rest of his duties beyond Public Relations and then somehow Ignis found evidence of illegal wage garnishing in the Kingsglaive. The Crownsguard had to run an independent investigation because Ignis got it semi-illegally, and because of the political nature of it Cor was the one running it. Which means he has to talk to Titus about the mostly feral coeurls he calls Glaives. Or else they'll probably lie during the interviews he has to do. At least he can get two things done at once.
“What am I looking for, Cor?” Noctis asked beside him as they watched the Glaive cadets do their stretches.
Cor glanced at him, watching how he took everything in, still wondering what had lit a fire under him. He was acting very out of character by throwing himself into Court life, and throwing himself into training was even stranger. Regis seemed cautiously grateful, but gave Noctis strange looks when it was just them. It seemed to be a mix of pride and wistfulness.
“Since this is your first time inspecting the troops just watch everything so you can review it with your father later. You need to look for how well they work together and how dedicated to this they are. Talent helps, but hard work goes farther.”
Noctis nodded and greeted Titus when he walked up to them. They where in an observation booth with one way glass overlooking the training ground. As they settled in, Cor handed Titus the file he had with him.
“I need you to talk to your Glaives so they'll talk to me.”
“That doesn't tell me what it is,” Titus sighed.
“It's evidence of treason, Captain. Someone has been illegally stealing money from the Kingsglaive and making sure that it didn't come to the Kings attention. Which is also treason.” Noctis' voice was as level as a sword and Cor was close enough to feel a shiver of magic.
“How do you know that?” Cor asked with a frown.
“Iggy brought it to me, I took it to dad.” Cor nodded and Titus eyed them both and set to reading the file.
Cor watched the cadets get assigned teams for the obstacle course that had been set up and listened to Titus bitch under his breath. It was always hilarious when he denied how attached to the Glaives he was and would then turn around and get pissed on their behalf.
“Is that Argentum?” Cor noticed suddenly. Titus looked up.
“That's his name if you mean the scrawny blond kid. How do you know him?”
“Cor did the background check when we became friends.” Noctis said cheerfully.
“He's not old enough for the Glaive.”
“What?” Titus said flatly.
“He's not old enough for the Guard, no. The Glaive runs on the old laws legally.” Noctis glanced at Cor and continued. “Dad knows he's here.”
“How old is the kid then? And what old laws?” Titus asked.
“Sixteen. And the Kingsglaive was reformed after the Pious shut it down and they never changed the age limit when they brought it back. Technically they only have to be eleven to join up, practically you should probably reject anyone under sixteen.”
“That's not the point, Noctis. Why did he suddenly join up? He knows that the Glaive is the main fighting force, right?”
“What ever the reason is, it's effective. He's already pulling to the head of the class.”
“Prompto's really good at giving himself a goal and getting there. He has a very good reason, this time. He knows exactly what he signed up for, Cor.”
“But why? And is it the same reason you've suddenly moved back in?”
Noctis turned to face them more fully, but kept an eye on the cadets. Prompto had already gone and so far his team was in the lead.
“Don't spread this around, either of you.” Cor was surprised, Noctis was serious. They both agreed and Noctis continued.
“His wife is pregnant. He needs the insurance and the child care options.” Without explaining anything else he turned back to the training room.
Cor and Titus gave each other an incredulous look, but Noctis was obviously not going to answer any more questions. Titus went back to the file with a shake of his head, and Cor settled in to asses the cadets. Noctis was doing it officially but until he learned what he was meant to watch for someone had to shadow him. Later that night, after he was done reporting his findings to Regis, he brought it up.
“Did you really give Argentum permission to join the Glaive?” Regis looked like he didn't know weather to be proud or exasperated.
“Noctis told me about it after Ignis had already added him to the lists. Legally I can't stop him, and I agreed with the reasoning behind it so..”
“Is he even old enough to get married without parental permission?”
“As an emancipated minor, yes. It surprised me too, I'm not sure where Noctis' new interest in politics came from, though. And I do wonder what they're teaching in school these days. He asked me the other day if outside of Insomnia they really used a different currency! He didn't know what a gil was!”
“Who didn't?” Clarus said as he came in the office with an armful of files.
“Noctis!” Regis exclaimed.
“What, why? Didn't he pass economics?”
“Yes, but get this, Gladio and Ignis didn't know what it was either.”
“I know. Do we have anyone trustworthy to review educational standards? Dendra is obviously not doing her job.”
“Maybe we should start there, then. My investigation has some hints about something else, so lets start at the top of our problems. I'll open a quiet investigation on Dendra in the morning and see what skeletons are hiding in her closet.”
“No, open a quiet investigation on all the councilors. Then work your way down the Government staff.”
They both turned to Clarus when he said that. He had an expression on his face they hadn't seen since that road trip from hell and Regis was cornered by MTs. Clarus pulled out a couple stacks of paper and handed them one each. It seemed to be a lease agreement. A blatantly illegal lease agreement.
“What the fuck?” Regis asked bluntly.
“They're all like that. If they're obviously non-natives the price is jacked up, and the living conditions are horrible. The lease Cor's holding is for a condemned building, for fucks' sake” Clarus ranted with his head on the table. He was only understandable because he was almost shouting. Regis tossed the papers on his desk and put his head in his hands. Cor kept reading through the lease, getting more and more pissed as he went.
“How the hell did we miss this?” Regis sounded like he was going to cry.
Cor sighed, “Mors probably. He was a good man but not a good king. This has probably been going on since the wall started shrinking and Insomnia started taking in refugees.”
“That doesn't make it better Cor, it's still my family's responsibility. I've been sending people out to die and not even making sure they get paid for it.”
“Then give it to Noctis.”
“What?” Both Regis and Clarus looked at him like he was speaking in tongues.
“Both of you are going to be busy and if you start canceling too many council sessions they might think something is up. But they will definitely underestimate Noctis, Ignis and Gladio, even if I'm assisting. It wouldn't even be weird for you to assign me as his shadow while he learns his duties, they might even thank you for giving me a reason to miss the meetings.”
“And it's a punishment for going behind my back to help Argentum join the Glaive. Still attached to the little boy you brought home?”
“Shut up, Regis. We obviously did a shit job of picking foster parents if he has to go to war to support his family at sixteen.”
Regis smiled sadly. “I know we did, Cor. You should tell him. Noctis will probably drag him into his retinue unofficially until he's eighteen when he can join it officially. So you'll be working in close proximity to him. Take the chance get to know him now.”
Cor looked away, still regretting letting that little piece of sunshine go. It would never have worked, he was out of Insomnia more than he was in it those next few years, but it didn't stop him from thinking, what if.
“To be the sensible one, someone should tell him about the clone thing. If someone finds the tattoo while he's in the field and he doesn't have an explanation.....”
“Alright Clarus. I'll tell Titus in the morning and tell Argentum after he gets done with basic training.”
Ignis Scientia, Adviser to the Prince
Ignis was having the time of his life, and he was never going to tell anyone. The investigations they were doing were something he could see himself doing in another life, if they were different people. He was a little guilty about having so much fun finding all the ways Insomnia had failed the people it was sworn to protect. And they had failed massively. The investigation into the wage garnishment had gotten tangled in one of Ignis' private investigations, and the receptionist at the hospital was just one knot in the thread.
Following that line of questioning and arresting the Lizburns for treason, among other things, was extremely satisfying. Even if they hadn't found the ringleader yet. He might be projecting, but the whole situation brought up memories of cold empty hallways and impossible expectations. Cascade was as graceful and dignified a person he had ever met, and Silence was a sweet child. He did not regret asking his uncle to step in. Even if it had earned him an embarrassing lecture about appropriate notification of new family members. He was torn between wanting to watch two forces of nature meet and running away to Accordo. He should probably tell Prompto that his uncle had decided that Prompto had married into the family. Perhaps after lockdown ended.
He, Noctis, Gladio and the Marshal where sitting in Noctis' new office, formerly belonging to King Mors, sorting out which investigations needed to be done first. He himself had claimed the secretary's desk. Noctis was going over his new duties and peppering Cor for answers to the strangest questions. Why did he want to learn the national languages when everyone used the trade tongue? Noctis had never had an interest in languages before. He was pulling up Councilor Dendra's bank records and listening to Noctis and Gladio bicker over a budget proposal from one of the agriculturists when he thought of something.
Turning to the rest of them, he raised his voice just enough.“Marshal, are we able to recruit more people to help us? If we run these investigations one at a time, someone is going to notice what we are doing. We need to do them simultaneously enough so that if someone jumps and warns someone else we would know. I'm good, but I can't hack all their computers at once.”
“Specs has a point, Cor. Not to mention we can't be sure what resources the people we're gonna be pissing off are hiding. The four of us can't always be on guard, and since the people we're investigating already have access to the Citadel...”
“How are we going to keep it quiet though? The more people who know about it means more chances for a leak, even by accident.” Gladio pointed out.
They all three turned to Cor who seemed to be deep in thought. He pulled out his phone and sent a few texts before glaring at his phone and putting it down.
“First, Ignis, Gladio just use my name. Second, you're right about the timing. However, the only way I know of to keep the secret is a magical geas. Only the person who grants the magic to the Guard or Glaive can lay the geas, so Noctis will have to recruit people. Do any of you know of a way for him to, without the press causing a fuss?”
“Don't you know one?” Noctis frowned.
“Yes, but this is technically on the job training.” Cor smirked.
They all thought about it for a moment before Gladio sat forward on the armchair he was in.
“Prompto. Or, well the cadet class. The Crownsguard class is a week behind them, too. They haven't been given His Majesty's magic yet, have they?”
“They haven't yet, no, that happens at the end of the lockdown period, so they can have familiar surroundings as their body adapts to the magic. It causes less mishaps if they can stay calm. Now, does anyone have a publicly acceptable reason for Noctis to do it? The ceremony is public, remember, so the press will ask.”
Noctis winced, but replied before anyone else could.
“It's a security measure. If Dad dies everyone loses their magic and we have a half hour window to get the Ring to me to hold the Wall. Obviously, we need to have at least some people to protect the civilians if he dies because of an attack.”
Cor nodded shortly, obviously uncomfortable thinking of the death of two of his closest friends. If the King died, the Shield died.
“The press will ask: why now?”
Ignis had anticipated this question.
“Prompto again. Noctis and the King had intended to do this when His Highness turned seventeen, but with his best friend joining up, the King gave Noctis permission to start now. Prompto is known to the press after that time he ended up in the hospital because of Insomnia First, so they will recognize him.”
“Has anyone prepared Argentum for that?” Cor asked dryly.
The three of them looked at each other sheepishly. No they hadn't, everything had happened so quickly, like dominoes falling.
“I didn't think so. I'll speak with him, the three of you can't interact with the cadets before lockdown is over, and I assume you don't want rumors of favoritism following Argentum."
“Thanks Cor,” Noctis said with an amused huff. Ignis was distracted by his phone beeping.
C: I was wrong about you. You aren't a criminal mastermind. You're an apprentice criminal mastermind.
I : I take it you met my uncle. Why did you think I'm a criminal mastermind?
C : Yes. I like him. And Ignis, ten minutes after I met you you hacked into three government databases. And don't tell me it wasn't illegal, you aren't Hand of the King yet.
I : Well the King didn't object after the fact, so it is retroactively legal.
C : That's cheating. :)
“Do I seem like a criminal mastermind to you?” Ignis asked the room.
“Yes.” Cor, Noctis and Gladio chorused firmly.
Prompto Argentum, Kingsglaive cadet
Promptos' head was swimming, but he was holding his composure as tight as he could. His hands were sweaty and his heart was racing. He had never thought he would be here, or get this far. When he had got the call from Cascade he had been confused, but willing to ditch school for the day. Finding out one of his friends was terminally ill had been a blow, but then she told him about the baby and the world had dropped away. Hospitals are terrible places to have a panic attack, they're like the opposite of calming. Thankfully Cas hadn't held it against him.
He was so grateful for his friends, he had no idea what he would have done if they decided not to help. Besides cry. The Kingsglaive had been a surprise, he'd had vague plans for the Crownsguard, to try to stay close to Noctis when high school was over. He had been pretty bad at the self defense moves Gladio had taught him, but one of the trainers had pulled him, and some of the other cadets on the smaller size, aside and shown them a different style. It used momentum and the attackers own strength against them. He couldn't wait to try it on Gladio, who he knew he would ask for a spar.
The most surprising part had been being good at something, though. He had nearly fallen over when the Sergeant had bluntly informed him that he had beat the entire Guard and Glaive in firearms. He had never been the best at something before.
The second most surprising part was how fun it was. The obstacle courses where like parkour on speed and he was good at working with others. He wasn't dumb enough to think it would always be fun, especially when missions started, but the training was. Even his camera skills were appreciated, apparently sometimes you don't want to remove the files you're after so the enemy doesn't know what you know. He should probably tell someone that you get better pictures on a phone than the crap cameras they use.
The hardest part had actually been the separation from his friends, and his worry about Cascade, of course. He had seemingly made a good impression on the cadets that hadn't washed out, though. He was cautiously hopeful about making some new friends, but he still remembered how that asshole from Insomnia First had befriended him just to lure him to his death. If they had dumped his beaten body anywhere besides the Niflheim refugee sector, he didn't think he'd be alive. He might need therapy, or he might be appropriately paranoid, he'll find out.
He wasn't sure about the sniper training, but he would go through with it. He didn't ever want his kids to go through what he had. Always wondering if you would have enough money to feed yourself, and never knowing when it would finally stop coming. He didn't want to admit to anyone that the only reason he had gone to that rave was a combination of loneliness and giving up on his parents. He hoped he could make a better life the twins. The sabotage training at least looked fun, and he was looking forward to using magic. Was he going to end up as Noctis' personal assassin?
At least he finally had an answer about why the Argentums took him in if they didn't want him, and about where the bar-code came from. They had been ordered to, to watch him for threats. He was a clone of some imperial scientist. He had been born to be a weapon, an MT. Every time he fought one in the future he was going to know that that could have been him. He looked up at Marshal Leonis who had called him into a conference room and told him a story about rescuing a bar-coded baby from a imperial base. He didn't need to point out the obvious.
The Marshal looked surprised. He could understand why, if he was expecting a freak out.
“You seem unusually accepting of this,” He said with a frown.
Prompto smiled slightly.
“If you had told me this a month ago, I would be panicking. But now, it doesn't matter. I'm going to be a father in a few short months, it doesn't matter where I'm from, just where I'm going. And that is towards a better future for my children.”
The Marshal quirked his lips in an almost there smile, but just as quickly frowned. “Children? How many do you have?”
“My wife is pregnant with twins, Marshal.”
“Ah. Congratulations. Do you have any questions?”
“Who am I a clone of? And what do I tell anyone who sees the tattoo? Should I tell Noctis - I mean His Highness?”
Prompto was worried about that, he didn't think he could pass it off as more teenage stupidity. Not that anyone in the cadet program knew about Cas. The Marshal handed him a packet of papers. Looking through them, he paled when he saw the Kings' signature.
“Keep these on you at all times, in your Armiger when you learn to use it. Captain Drautos knows about it, he won,t hold it against you and he offered to listen if you need to talk. You can tell the boys, they won.t hold it against you either, but the official story if anyone questions your adoption is that your birth mother was a defector who died in childbirth.”
“That's a terrible story and will explain why I don't want to talk about it. That's kind of the Captain, but why?”
“He was a POW for a bit when he was around your age. The rest is classified, don't mention the POW bit either.”
“Yes sir. So who am I a clone of?” Prompto persisted, surprised by his own daring.
“Why do you want to know? To confront him?” He asked blandly.
“So I know who to kill if I see him, of course.”
“What?!” The Marshals eyes widened a bit and he sounded like he barely refrained from yelling.
“Well he's obviously got an interest in biology if he's making clones, what if he finds out about me and then my kids?” Prompto pointed out.
The Marshal pinched his nose and muttered something he didn't catch and looked back up at him. “Versteal Besithia is a high priority target anyway, Argentum. He's the head of Imperial Research. Don't get caught up on it, okay? Just focus on your kids.”
Prompto shrugged, “The best revenge is living well.”
The Marshal rolled his eyes. “Moving on. Noctis is going to be the one to give your class magic instead of the King. You'll be read into why during the third month of training when you start training missions. You are known to be friends with the Prince and that's the excuse we are using for why Noctis is doing it. Are you prepared to answer questions when they identify you?”
“Oh shit, um what do I say?” Prompto yanked his panicky thoughts back in line.
“Beyond the basics? Just say no comment if you don't want to answer the question. You were given a pamphlet on what not to talk about right?”
That advice was very handy, the press practically fell over itself to get a scoop on Noctis, since his press appearances were rare. Noct seemed strangely at ease, or at least good at faking it. Was it connected to the mystery assignment the Marshal had mentioned? A reporter did single him out after the ceremony was over, unfortunately. He didn't want to talk to the paparazzi when it felt like his blood had been replaced with soda fizz. Especially the jerk who broke into his hospital room to try to get an interview.
“Prompto Argentum! Long time no see!” Really asshole?
“That would be because of the restraining order, Mr Hahn.” He said flatly. Hahn's' face fell for second before that creepy plastic smile was back.
“That ran out last week, Mr Argentum. Lets let bygones be bygones. Tell me, why did you drop out of school to join the Kingsglaive?”
“I didn't, the Kingsglaive has a very comprehensive continued education program.” Prompto was going to do his best impression of the Captains 'you dumb-ass' face. It was already making the sleaze uncomfortable.
“Right. But why did you join up so young? Did the Prince ask you to?”
“My wife is pregnant. The Kingsglaive has the best childcare options in the world.” The faces Hahn was making at his very noncommittal answers where hilarious.
“Wife? Who did you marry at such a young age?” Hahn's grin was shark like, but it faltered as Prompto stared at him silently, unable to do anything over the roaring in his ears. Before Prompto could do anything stupid Luche Lazarus appeared beside him.
“Sir, the press is gathering in the courtyard for Prince Noctis' speech, move along.” Prompto watched him leave with a slow blink, the fizz in his blood subsiding the further away he got.
“Please tell me you aren't one of the ones that goes murderous with magic, we're supposed to be able to filter those out by now.”
Prompto jerked around to stare at Lazarus incredulously. “That was a risk?”
“Not anymore, it shouldn't be.” Prompto fell in to step with Lazarus when he gestured for him to follow.
Lazarus asked about it after they had gotten to the non public areas, “What was that about anyway?”
“I wasn't able to renew my restraining order under lockdown.” Prompto stated flatly.
“...Right you're the kid Insomnia First attacked. But you looked fine for the first part, I only came over when you looked like you where going to go for his throat.”
“I think my magic was reacting to my emotions? It feels fizzy, and when I got mad it practically roared.”
“Well it's a good thing you're being shipped out for saboteur training tonight then. The compartmentalization techniques will help with control.”
Prompto lurched to a stop then hurried to catch up.
“Sir? How long until I ship out? I thought we got two days leave before assignment.”
“They're tossing you in with the Crownsguard class for saboteur training so we can slot you in for sniper training quicker. Your ride leaves in an hour.”
“Shit, that's not enough time.”
“Time for what?”
“To visit my wife, I told her when lockdown ends so she's expecting me.”
“You're married? Never mind, lockdown is over, you can call her in your free time so long as you don't reveal your position. Get going.”
Holy crap, Cas was going to kill him.
Chapter 2: The Deep End
This got out of hand. I blame Cor. The maiming is not graphic.
Intermission (multi POV)
The second month of Prompto's training progressed strangely to the four friends. It seemed to both stretch on and on and take no time at all. Since they were waiting on the cadets to start training missions their investigations were set aside, and they were cramming as much as they could about the duties Noctis had taken up. And exploring the former King's office.
Some of the things they found were startling but harmless, like the confetti trap behind a false book that Gladio set off.
“What the hell!?” Gladio sputtered.
“That was probably meant for your grandfather,” Cor said calmly.
Some things were strange.
“Why is there a gold plated rubber duck in this potted plant?” Ignis asked, bemused.
“You would need to ask Regis' mother that, Aulea got it for her.”
Some were both awkward and traumatizing.
“Hey Cor, why is there an ink sketch of a naked woman posing on this desk?”
“Your grandfather had talent and your grandmother had an exhibitionist streak.”
A lot of Noctis' new duties were connected to the refugee situation which had them running around all over the city. Sometimes Noctis went as himself, such as when he made a public speech about overcoming ingrained hatred and befriending your neighbor. Giving a speech at a school you had just quit was awkward. Other times he went in a better disguise than a hoodie could provide, usually to get a first person perspective on how badly the city was falling down around them while they had been oblivious. Not wearing black helped.
On the surface it looked good and if you stayed on the inner areas it still gleamed like the jewel it had been named when founded. Crown Jewel of Lucis it was not. The main roads, the ones most likely to be used by high level Citadel staff, helped maintain the illusion. But the further you went from the main streets the worse it got. This was deliberate, there was no way it wasn't.
They got careless once, straying too far after dark and ended up attacked by a gang. Gladio did his job well but the numbers were overwhelming and Noctis had to fight as well. Cor had to help both of them through their first human kills. The Guard had never shown up despite the noise, and Cor was sitting on his seething anger like a pressure cooker. The King and his Shield were just as angry. They didn't manage to find out anything about the gang either, the only clue was a small tattoo of a phoenix on all of them.
The month wasn't all bad though, Prompto's updates from his saboteur training were hilarious, if a little worrying. From learning to drive,
P: I have a need. A need for speed. And motorcycles. Do you think I could steal one of the airships? I bet I could.
N: where would you park it?
P: Aww :( Iggy's mean
P: *thirty minute slide show of him setting off the explosives he learned to make*
G : Is anyone else concerned?
N : yes
I : Oh dear.
C : ooh shiny.
to inventing combat selfies,
P : *selfie with a tonberry in the background powering up a fire spell.* look it's Iggy! Everything is fire and knives!
N : Hey Iggy is definitely a tonberry!
G : be careful
I : I am not.
P : ouch . It even gets revenge like Iggy. Now I need a hair cut.
N : ?!?
P : *selfie of Prompto with an undercut, burn paste smeared on his face* I'm okay!
C : I like it. But please find your sense of self preservation, and don't orphan our children before choosing god parents
P : Sorry. I'll be more careful, I promise.
G : why did the tonberry know a fire spell?
N : it was obviously specks daemonsona.
I : Of course we can have vegetable stew for supper, Your Highness.
N : Nooooo..........
Prompto's texts from meeting his first live chocobo were mostly incoherent, and involved way too many selfies.
They didn't see him much even when he did have leave since he spent most of it with Cascade. They understood. The first time they did see him was in a two hour window between his training assignments, and he spent the first half hour telling them about his origins. None of them cared after getting over the shock, which made Prompto start crying. Noctis made him laugh when he threatened to teach the twins to call Cor grandpa.
“Noct, he'll kill me.” Prompto said between giggles.
“No, it's perfect! He obviously had a star-crossed romance with your birth mother who decided to defect to be with him.”
“Have you been reading my romance novels?”
Ignis also spent a lot of time trying to find Prompto an apartment.
I : What are you looking for in an apartment, Prompto?
P : Affordable, baby safe, close enough for a daily commute, no racist neighbors, space for three?
I : And security. You are a known friend of His Highness.
P : I'm guessing that's the hard part?
I : Yes.
N : I have an apartment I'm not using. Just let me hide from Court occasionally. I can't put you in the heir's wing until you formally join my retinue, and you need to be 18 for that.
P : I can't just mooch off of you Noct.
G : It hasn't been used in a few decades but when the Royal family was bigger and they had Guards and their family stay in non-Citadel residences as a security measure.
C : Is that safe? What if someone breaks in looking for Noctis?
I: The public knows he moved back into the Citadel and all other residents in Noctis' apartment building are Guard and Citadel staff. I will run deep background checks on them, if you like.
C: He accepts. Come do those checks in my room, I'll help.
I: Very well.
P: I guess I accept. But I'm NOT getting paid for it. :) When was the last time this protocol was used? I don't remember any branch family's?
N: Deal. Mors was the youngest of the Rouges five kids. The only one to live long enough for her to pass the Crown. The Rouges reign started after the Year of Six Kings when all her brothers killed themselves fighting over it.
P: His name is suddenly much creepier. We didn't learn any of that in school.
G: That wasn't the name he started with, just the one he was crowned with. He took it in mourning. Iris called dibs on baby proofing.
I : We are working on it.
Ignis was also the one to go see Cascade when she had a pregnancy checkup scheduled. The hospital was a busy place and it was easier for Cascade to go to the maternity ward than having the doctor bring the equipment up to her. Which had the hilarious side affect of Ignis being stuck in an elevator and delivering a baby.
“They named their very Niflheimer baby after you? Ignis isn't a very Niflheimer like name,” Cascade asked, on the verge of cracking up. He shrugged helplessly, setting her off. Noctis, Gladio and Prompto found it just as funny when they heard about it.
Iris did baby proof the apartment (co-opting Silence in the process), then everyone chipped in to buy baby things, and Oceanus Scientia welcomed Prompto into the family by decorating the guest room as a nursery in a soft grass green with yellow and white trimmings. He even sprung Cascade from the hospital so she could see it. It made them both cry.
“You guys didn't have to go this far,” Prompto grinned through his tears, holding a bright blue chocobo onesie. Cascade was smiling damply at a matching red one. Noctis apparently had a thing for animal themed onesies, there were a lot in a bunch of sizes.
“Nonsense, you are family now. Ignis isn't going to give me grandchildren anytime soon, either. Let me have my fun.”
“You can definitely be Grandpa. Iris is godmother,” Cascade said firmly.
“Really?!” Iris asked excitedly.
“Thank you, My Dear.”
“Yes. Now, who are you naming godfather, Prompto?”
“Err...Which one of you is likely to live longest?” He asked, thinking of what Gladio said about Shields not out living their kings.
“You're the long range specialist, blondie.” Gladio said with a laugh, he was taking his job much more seriously lately, after their little adventure. Ignis hadn't liked not being there, having been busy with some paperwork in the Citadel. He and Gladio had moved into their rooms in the Heirs Wing when Noctis had.
“You guys are going to be uncles anyway, so just play rock, paper, scissors.” Prompto said with a roll of his eyes. At least then he wouldn't have to pick.
“I WIN!” Silence shouted. Never had a name been more ironic. He didn't seem to have an indoor voice. He was basically his sister in miniature at nine years old, including the force of nature bit.
They took a picture of all of them siting on the couch, Prompto and Cascade grinning at each other with their hands laced together on her stomach, Silence on the left and Iris on the right with the other four leaning over the couch behind them.
It was latter made into a painting and hung on the wall, a gift from the King. Lord Amiticia had sent a gift voucher for a years supply of diapers. Gladio had gotten them a stroller for twins and Ignis had bought a whole pile of the practical things you need for one baby, much less two.
Prompto shipped out for a week of intensive sniper training later that night, which apparently involved live daemon and animal targets.
P : is it weird that I'm not bothered by being so good at sniping? Because it's kind of easy.
C : Will it be as easy if it's a person?
P : I don't know.
C : I guess you will find out. I wont judge you either way.
P : <3
Noctis spent a lot more time with his dad than he was used to. He was starting to resent his Dad's secretary since she always interrupted them, even when they were having a work meeting. He knew his Dad was busy, but still. They hadn't managed to finish a meal together since they hid in the Crystal room. When was the last time his Dad had finished a meal? Great, now he was worried. He mentioned it to Clarus, who frowned and told him he would look into it.
He was kind of pissed about having to reeducate himself on quite a few things (economics), not to mention how weird applying his knowledge of Insomnia to do his duties made him feel. For instance, he knew about the underground green houses and aquaphonics bays, but he had never thought about how important they where. Niflheim had a habit of targeting all shipments to Insomnia after all. There were even cattle, it was an amazing feat of engineering and most people would never know about it. There were a lot of guards, all of whom were under a geas to never speak of it. The workers were under the same geas. It was now his job to inspect them a sector at a time.
The caverns under Insomnia predated the Founding, and might be why this location was chosen. They were a Royal secret, and Niflheim didn't know about them, yet.
“How deep do these go?” Noctis asked, staring down a gorge lined with walkways leading to more caves. He couldn't see the bottom despite how well lit it was. Gladio pulled him back by his shirt when he leaned to far over for the Shields piece of mind.
“We don't know, they haven't been completely mapped. We don't know how far they stretch either, but you do have to pass through the Wall underground in the corresponding place. There are daemons in the tunnels beyond it, though. There's even a few underground havens.” Cor replied, disgruntled. He had been advocating for further exploration since he found out about them from Mors.
“Maybe we should fix that,” Noctis murmured, a strange note in his voice.
Gladio was having a lot of long talks with his father about being a Shield and what it meant. Gladio was in a strange position, since usually the Crown Prince traveled the Kingdom and the Shield had actual enemies to face. But Noctis wouldn't have been able to do that even if he had been required to do his duties instead of having as much of a normal childhood as he could. It had been a bit of a kick in the ass to be the only thing between Noctis and death, he'd always had back up before. It had scared him.
“There is nothing wrong with being scared, Son. Courage isn't the absence of fear, but the ability to continue forward despite it. Just keep focused and push through it, and never let yourself freeze. If you go down there's nothing standing between your Prince and the threat.”
“Thanks Dad.” Gladio said softly as the doctor finished his stitches and left. Clarus tilted his sons head up.
“I'm very proud of you. You got Noctis home safely, and more importantly to me you came home safe. I know it might not seem like it sometimes, but there is nothing more important to me than you and your sister. Duty be damned.”
Gladio just leaned on his father and let himself pretend his fathers hug would fix everything.
Everyone was slightly concerned about how well Ignis and Cascade teaming up worked, which they found out when Cascade took offense to Hahn the sleazy reporter showing up at her hospital room while Prompto was visiting.
“While Prompto making him piss his pants with a look is hilarious, something needs to be done about him,” Cascade said to the four friends and Cor, who had been with them when she called, concerned Prompto might actually kill him. She didn't really care if he did but it would be hard to hide the body in the middle of a hospital.
“I agree, and I will be posting a discreet guard rotation in the hospital. If this happens again we will have to relocate you,” Cor said.
“Thank you, Marshal,” Prompto said from beside Cascade, still frigidly angry.
Cor nodded and stepped into the hallway to make some calls. Prompto was curled around Cascade on the bed with his head on her shoulder and their hands laced together. He'd still had a gun out when they arrived, on edge from knowing his wife had been helpless. His three friends had never seen him so angry, and it was strange to see how much Prompto had changed in just two months. He had put on muscle and seemed more confident, and more comfortable in his skin. There was an awkward silence before Gladio broke it.
“How did you make him piss himself anyway? You aren't the most threatening person around.”
Prompto suddenly grinned and sat up to face them, wiping the smile off his face. His face abruptly became eerily still and they could practically see the life drain from his eyes, leaving them a frosted, icy abyss. Then he let a faint grin cross his face, teeth just visible.
“...what the fuck, Prom. You look like a serial killer,” Noctis said faintly. Prompto cackled.
“I did just get back from sniper training, man. I just have to pretend I'm looking through a scope at a target I really want dead. Learning how to look threatening was part of saboteur training, for infiltrating, so I just combined them.”
“I didn't know you hated anyone enough to want them dead.” Cascade said with a frown.
Prompto paused and said apologetically, “It's classified. I'm sorry.”
She shrugged, unconcerned. “It's fine, they probably deserve it. Now, is suing that asshole worth it or should I just ruin his life?”
“How are you going to do that?” Noctis asked, happy to change the subject.
He agreed that anyone Prompto wanted dead probably had it coming, but didn't want to think of Prompto actually killing someone. He was still adjusting to Prompto not being his measuring stick of normal civilian anymore. He hadn't done it on purpose but,...
“I'm going to release everything I've dug up on him on my social media accounts. He'll never get a job in journalism again when I'm done with him.”
“Why were you researching him?” Ignis asked with furrowed brows.
“Do you have any idea how bored I get? I researched every reporter that wrote about all of you in the past year.”
They proceeded to get him and several other of the more unscrupulous reporters blacklisted everywhere on the Planet. Apparently being stuck in a hospital room drove you to find anything that could distract you. Cascade had online contacts all over Eos. She thought he was joking when he told her that connecting to the Empire's internet was supposedly impossible. Noctis made her his spymaster without informing anyone but Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. They obviously couldn't trust the Citadel one.
“You don't have to do this, you could take it easy,” Noctis said offering her a glowing hand to make her an unofficial Crownsguard. She smirked and took his hand, letting the cool watery feeling slide into her.
“I'm here for a good time, not a long time. Put all my pay into a collage account for the babies. I'll keep an eye out for a replacement.” Noctis face palmed and laughed helplessly. His reactions to her morbid sense of humor were always hilarious.
“Do I get to choose my own code name? Because I want to be Bloodraven.”
“....Is that a reference I'm missing?”
“Go borrow Gladio's Song of Ice and Fire books.”
She appreciated the comments on how terrifying she would have been at Court. She bonded with Ignis over their hacking and the combined internet learned to fear Sage_Fyr and Three_I_Raven. Prompto was disgruntled to ship out for his last week of basic training, a mix of survival training and magic training, before he could meet her guards. He cheered himself up by playing silly games over the phone with her when he could.
“Hey, Captain. Smile!” Prompto snapped the pic when Drautos turned to him and sent it to her.
“What was that about?” The Captain asked grumpily, still annoyed about being puked on during warp training.
The five remaining Glaive cadets, the only ones who hadn't washed out into the Guard, were sitting around a haven fire with the Captain and Tredd Furia. The haven was tucked under a cliff and a camouflage tarp closed most of it off. They had sat down for a break and dinner while they waited for sundown to start night maneuvers.
“He's been doing that all day between training,” Turner Harper (male, short sword, ice magic) said with a sigh.
“I'm playing smash or pass with my wife,” Prompto answered absently, then looked up when he felt everyone staring at him. “What?”
“Did she smash or pass?” The camp turned to look at Tredd.
“What? I can't even find a person who won't complain if I look, much less look with me.”
“He got eight out of ten smashes. The only passes were a lesbian, and a pacifist doctor who gets nervous around soldiers.” The Captain gave them all a tired look when they clapped.
“No, wait, back up are you really married?” Davy Jess (afab, bastard sword, lightning magic) asked.
Prompto raised an eyebrow and flipped his phone around to show his screen, it was a close up of the picture they took at the apartment. They all stared at it.
“Holy shit she's huge...I'm sorry please stop staring at me like that.” Zack Green (agender, hand to hand, healing and buff magic) said hurriedly.
Prompto held his serial killer glare for a few more seconds before cracking up.
“It's fine, dude. At least you didn't say it to her face, like I did.” The rest of the group laughed too.
“I guess that explains why you didn't respond to my flirting,” Lisa Kemp (female, daggers, fire magic) pouted. “Lucky girl.”
“You were flirting with me?” Prompto asked blankly. That set the group laughing again, even the Captain cracked a smile.
Their last night out in the wild had Prompto unexpectedly putting his sniping training to the test, and proving to himself that he could shoot a human. He wasn't sure what he thought about it being just as easy as shooting a daemon. He didn't regret shooting the imperial officers, and not just because he had some idea of the kind of things they did. He did wonder about the Captains special hatred of them though. The POW thing maybe?
It was the third month, when they started training missions and were read in on Prince Noctis' project that things got messy.
Prompto Argentum, Kingsglaive Cadet
“Does that make me a bad person? That I can just look through a scope and decide someone isn't a person, just a target? I don't feel guilty, or really anything,” Prompto murmured to Cascade from where he was curled beside her on the bed feeling the babies kick.
“You aren't going to go out and start killing randomly, are you?” She asked, amused.
“No, of course not,” Prompto pouted.
“Then it doesn't matter. As long as you never look at your people like that, then it will be fine,” She ran her fingers through his hair, enjoying the feel of his undercut. He was glad it was one of her good days.
“Shouldn't I feel something about killing a person, though?” He asked, quiet.
“Am I a bad person? I don't feel guilty about ruining several lives. They might have been the worst type of paparazzi but they were still people. I told you I wouldn't judge you.”
He was silent for a moment before he moved his arm around and slid his bracer of,f revealing his bar-code. She ran a gentle finger over it.
“I got permission to tell you now that you have clearance. I'm a clone, I was meant to be a weapon, an MT....I'll understand if you don't want me around the child-” A finger on his lips stopped his babble.
“The thing about human weapons is that they can choose who uses them. If you can't trust yourself, trust your friends, your brothers.”
“I can do that,” He said thoughtfully, tugging his bracer back into place.
He trusted Noctis to lead him, and he knew Gladio and Ignis wouldn't let him become a danger to anyone, if there was something wrong with him. He ran his hand over her stomach, setting the thought aside and brought up a subject that he'd been thinking about.
“Have you asked about the gender?”
“No, do you want to know?” She asked dreamily, loving how cuddly he was.
“Only if you do, I just thought it would be easier to pick names that way,” He said distractedly, one of the babies was kicking his hand as he moved it.
“I hadn't thought of names beyond not after our parents. I don't want to name them after the dead either, it's too much pressure to live up to,” She said as he reached for the chart at the end of her bed.
“You know one of the Elders, the ones from the Niflheim sector, told me names are a parents wish for the child. A spell to pull the trait to them. So you would be the start of things, the tipping point where everything changes,” He offered the chart to her, with a grin ,eyebrow raised.
“The cascade affect?” she grinned. “Well, you were certainly a quick learner, Prompto.” He flushed at her tone of voice as she flipped through the chart to find her results. “Oh.”
“One of each. A son and a daughter.” They grinned goofily at each other, until a knock came from the door. Doctor Low poked his head in with an apologetic expression.
“Visiting hours are over, Mr. Argentum.”
~the next day~
Prompto double checked the address on his paperwork and made his way into the shifty looking building. Why was he told to come here in plainclothes for a mission briefing? Spotting one of the Guards he had seen following Noctis, also in plainclothes, he made his way over. Before he could say anything the Guard motioned to a discreet card scanner. He thought for a moment then pulled his new badge from the Armiger. Eyebrows lifted, he entered the sleek elevator revealed.
There was only one button, which led him to an equally sleek hallway with one door at the end. He was relived to find Noctis, Gladio and Ignis inside the large auditorium style classroom. He seemed to be the first one there, so he went to them instead of finding his assigned seat. Noctis was asleep on his arms at the table by the podium and Ignis was setting up something near the wall, but Gladio greeted him cheerfully enough.
“Hey, big guy. Am I finally gonna find out why you three have been so distracted lately?”
“Yeah, man, I mean it's mostly thanks to you we found the problem anyway. It just sort of ...blew up,” Gladio replied.
Prompto eyed him. “This have anything to do with the Lizburns getting arrested?”
Before he could get an answer, a beep came from Gladio,s phone and he went to wake Noctis. Prompto was hauled along to the table and pointed to a seat with his name on a piece of paper. Why was he up there? Just after Noctis woke up the door opened and and a flood of people came in. They seemed to be some of the Cadets that had washed out into the Crownsguard, mostly because they couldn't use enough magic, and there was the other four of his class. Who were the others? There were about forty people here, Marshal Leonis and Captain Drautos being the last two to enter.
Turner Harper, Kingsglaive Cadet
Argentum's face was hilarious when he was named cadet captain. He had to have been the only one who hadn't seen it coming, didn't he notice the extra duties? He couldn't even be mad despite being the runner up, Argentum had proven he wasn't riding the Prince's coat tails. And he was avoiding the subject.
Watching as people milled around undecidedly, he thought back to what they were being asked to do. It wasn't what he had expected when he singed up. He was expecting a lot of front line fighting, not to be offered a mystery job at the low, low price of signing a magically binding contract, that explained absolutely nothing. Argentum had started signing it the moment he was offered that terrifying crystal pen. Maybe Zack was right about him being picked as cadet captain because he was nuts, look at the crazy shit the news reported about the Elite.
Crazy or not, he'd signed before anyone could ask any questions, not that they had gotten any straight answers. What the hell did 'an opportunity to protect the citizens of Lucis from all enemies, foreign and domestic' even mean? About half the people had left after being told this was entirely voluntary, not willing to sign up for the unknown. Whatever, he had signed up to go to war, what was there to be afraid of?
…treason, treason was there to be afraid of. What the fuck?
After they had weeded out the ones who weren't staying, and used a magic pen that drew out your blood as ink, the fifteen or so remaining cadets had been shown to a side room that held a conference table. As Prince Noctis went around to the head of the table, his Shield in his shadow, Scientia picked up a box and started handing out tablets. Argentum caught Scientia's eye and picked up a smaller box and started handing out phones. As they did that, static crackled over a speaker set into the table and a screen on the wall blinked on, showing a side view of a raven on a tree branch. He twitched when the bird turned its head and he noticed it had three eyes.
“I see you have all noticed Bloodraven. They are my spymaster and any information you learn about their identity is covered by your contracts. The tablets and phones you are being handed are not meant for personal use. Keep the phone on you at all times, but you may keep the tablet in the Armiger.” As the Prince continued talking, everyone became more engrossed in what he was saying. Were they founding a spy agency? That's what it sounded like, anyway. It explained why the Crownsguard was here, at least, they where trained in investigation, but why the Glaive?
One of the washouts, 'Desmond?' asked before he could. “Sir? Why are the Glaives here? They aren't allowed to act against citizens, are they?”
The Prince nodded to her with a faint smile. “They are in a bit of a strange position, legally. The Glaives are meant as the offensive arm of the military and originally there was a division specifically for issues in Insomnia, back before the Wall, when there were still daemons here. After the first version of the Glaive was dismantled, and the Crownsguard changed to a purely reactionary force, someone dropped the ball and we no longer had a domestic intelligence agency. Any spies we have picked up has been accidental. The military isn't big enough to separate enough people for a full agency, so we went for a task force instead. Most of you will be on research and in Insomnia investigations, unless you are contacted by either one of us four, the Marshal or Captain, or rarely, Bloodraven.”
The Prince gestured to each person as he spoke of them. Turner wondered why he never learned about this in school. The Kingsglaive wasn't created by King Regis? How do you fuck up badly enough to get rid of an entire government agency without noticing? Or was it deliberate?
“The Glaives, however, will be acting outside of Insomnia. Which is necessary for our secondary objective. Mainly, some group of people has been destroying my family's knowledge of magic over a period of centuries. I discovered this when I went looking for a way to magically check someones health. Instead of finding my great-grandmothers diagnostic spells, I found that the entire healing section had been replaced with fake books full of nonsense.”
Oh Six, they really had fallen down a rabbit hole. Centuries long conspiracies? Entire sectors of the city where the Crownsguard won't go? Crime rings designed to suppress non-natives? Investigating the council for treason? The entire Citadel staff?
“Which brings us to the Glaives. While they will have normal missions, they will also be exploring old ruins and searching for lost magic. There are one hundred and eleven Royal tombs out there, and we only know where eleven are. Hopefully we can find some of them.”
The briefing lasted all day, and got more surreal as it went on. The cupcakes Scientia handed out as a late birthday present for Argentum just added a layer to the weirdness.
Well, at least tomb raiding sounds interesting, he thought slowly.
Regis Lucis Caelum, King of Lucis
“...are you crying?” Titus asked him, bemused.
Regis sniffed. “No, I'm just so proud. My little boy is growing up.”
“And determined to follow in his mothers footsteps by pissing off every criminal from here to Etro's Gate,” Titus replied with a roll of his eyes. “Do you have any questions, Your Majesty?"
Regis was in his office with Titus and Cor, listening to their report on how Noctis did with his task force. And wasn't that a trip, his baby boy running a task force. Where had all the time gone? Clarus had been sent home for the night despite his objections, Iris had a dance recital that she had snuck into the Citadel to ask him to let her father go to. She was already shaping up to be the same type of security nightmare as her mother. He really hoped no one told her that joining the Kingsglaive at eleven was a possibility.
“Did Argentum actually earn his scores? He is known as a friend of my sons,” Regis didn't want the kid to get killed if he got a mission over his skill level, just because someone wanted brownie points.
“Which is why I took this class. I don't like you enough to suck up to you,” He said with a scoff.
“You're loyal to Aulea's son and that's good enough for me,” Regis said cheerfully while Cor slumped into his chair, entirely too used to this exchange.
Titus rolled his eyes again and continued answering his questions. He really was the best stray Aulea had ever brought home. After Titus left with a sarcastic salute, Regis sighed into his hands, trying to hold down his late meal. Attempting to get back to a healthy weight after spending years on half rations was nauseating.
He then nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Cor hadn't left. He turned to face Cor and stood up, forcing a grin back onto his face. He then let it fade with a weary sigh as Cor gave him a deadpan look and started herding him to his bedroom.
He sat down on the bed with a hiss and started removing his knee brace, having already removed the rest of his raiment when he had retired to his office for the night. Neither Titus or Cor actually thought he was anything more than a man and wouldn't care if he looked 'appropriately royal' or not while listening to a report.
He had just tugged his shirt off when Cor sat beside him, a pair of pajamas in his hand. Cor set them on bed and ran a hand across his ribcage, making him gasp quietly. He flushed and turned to Cor, who was watching him with a strangely soft look.
“I can feel your ribs, Regis. How did you not notice how much weight you where losing?” Cor asked gently.
He swallowed, “I thought it was the Crystal, you know how it affected my Father. The doctors didn't say anything.” The same doctors that hadn't been able to tell what was wrong with Aulea. He finished getting ready for bed, unconcerned about Cor being there, it was nothing he hadn't seen before.
“Regis, your father had cancer, the Crystal had nothing to do with it, except to make it worse. Who told you it did?”
“The Royal Physician, you know the one you threw in the dungeons last month? Despite the dungeons no longer being in use?”
“Well, you wouldn't let me toss him from the top of the Citadel,” Cor grumbled, huffing. Regis finally noticed Cor was dressed for bed, as well.
“Are you staying?” He didn't want to ask, but he really didn't want to be alone either. He hastily averted his eyes before Cor noticed him staring at his bare chest.
“If you want me too, I know you haven't been sleeping.” Cor didn't bother waiting for a reply and pulled the covers down.
“You don't have too,” Regis said, blushing. He would be fine, Cor shouldn't have to cater to his neediness. He was surprised when Cor drew him into a hug. He shuddered as he rested his head against Cor's warm chest.
“You are my dearest friend Regis, let me help you. You were betrayed by people you trusted, wanting to be near those you can trust is not a bad thing,” Cor said in a low voice.
Regis just turned more fully into the hug, wrapping his arms around Cor's waist and tucking his face against his neck. He leaned his weight against his friend, letting himself breath. Cor had his arm around Regis' shoulders, rubbing his back with the other one buried in his hair, holding him close. It was soothing being held in strong arms, against a firmly muscled chest. Regis pushed that thought away. He had to pull back all too soon, his leg complaining about the position it was in.
Cor didn't let him pull away completely, stepping closer as Regis stood straight, causing his breath to hitch. The hand in his hair slid forward down the side of his face as Cor moved to run his thumb over Regis' bottom lip. His other hand fell to Regis' hip as Cor pressed close, face barely an inch from his. Regis flushed as heat swept through him from Cor's hands and held on to Cor's shoulders. Was Cor going to kiss him? Regis licked his suddenly dry lips as he stared into vivid blue eyes.
Cor seemed to take that as an invitation and closed the space between them, pressing his lips gently against his own. With a quiet whimper Regis let his eyes drift closed, opening his mouth slightly in encouragement, arms winding around Cor,s neck. Cor pressed closer, deepening the kiss and sliding his arm around Regis' waist. Please let this not be another dream, it felt so real.
They quickly lost themselves in the sensations. Slick heat and the rasp of his beard. Quiet gasps as hands wandered. A soft, bubbly joy building deep in his chest. Heat washing through him like the tide, drowning him in pleasure. They where jolted out of their own little world when Regis hit the bed with the back of his knees. They both fell abruptly, Cor catching himself to hover over Regis.
Regis grinned dazedly at the man above him, breathless. Cor had a flushed face with kiss bruised lips and eyes blown wide with desire. Cor rested his forehead against his panting for breath, their cocks brushing against each other through their pants as he shifted.
“Is this okay?” Cor asked hoarsely. Regis buried his hands in Cor's hair and pulled him back down to kiss him again. This was more than okay, this was perfect.
The next thing he knew, Cor was pulling Regis' shirt off, both of them having lost the rest of their clothes already. He pressed a wet kiss to his chest and then Cor was between his legs, hitching them over his thighs. Cors warm hands, running hot like always, swept slowly up his sides, leaving burning trails where he touched. Goosebumps broke out as his heating skin met the cool air.
“I have wanted this, wanted you, Regis, for so long.” Cor murmured, running his fingers through Regis' sparse chest hair.
“Don't stop. Please. Want you.” He gasped back, clinging.
“Shh. You don't have to beg. Everything I have to give is yours.”
Regis held onto Cor with one arm as he was pressed into the bed, the other hand sliding down between them to take hold of both cocks. Cor cursed lowly and rocked against him, trailing his lips down Regis' neck, scraping teeth, sending sparks of pleasure down his spine.
Cor gripped his thighs as Regis wrapped his legs around Cor's waist the best he could. They rocked together lazily, languidly. Sweet nothings whispered to each other followed by kisses.
“You'd give me your heart?” Regis whispered as he kissed up Cors neck.
“You already have it.”
“You have mine, too,” Regis breathed and caught Cor's mouth with his own.
Tension built up steadily, pooling in his gut and Regis was reduced to holding on and chanting Cor's name.
“Cor. Cor. Cor, yes. Cor. Please.”
“Regis, my Regis. Beautiful.” Cors words where reverent, the low rumble going straight to his dick.
Finally, just when he thought he couldn't take it anymore, Regis peaked, and came with a moan. Cor followed swiftly with a curse he muffled in Regis' neck. They lay there panting until Regis had to prod Cor to move because of his leg. Cor took the time to clean them up with the sheet, and they ended up pressed together on the other side of the bed. Regis pulled the comforter over them, his head resting on Cor's heartbeat. Neither had bothered with clothes.
He didn't notice falling asleep as Cor ran a hand through his sweat damp hair and was honestly shocked to wake up to find it hadn't been a dream.
“Do you regret it?” Cor asked uncomfortably when he blurted that out, not meeting his eyes.
“No! Six, no. Cor, I love you. I just never thought....” Regis gently cupped Cors face with both hands, tilting it up to look at him, standing between his legs as he sat on the bed. Cor took his left wrist and pressed a kiss to the underside, making him shiver.
“I love you, too. I don't remember falling in love with you, it's just always been there.” Cor spoke softly, eyes burning. Regis swallowed. No one would ever believe that the stoic Immortal of the Crownsguard would speak like this.
“Why now, My Lionheart? What made you speak up now?” He asked with a giddy grin teasing at his lips as he ran his thumb across Cors cheek, feeling his stubble. Cor tilted his head in pleasure, fingers still on Regis' wrist, right over the pulse point.
“I almost lost you. I kept telling myself that there was plenty of time, that you didn't need the distraction. You were always so busy. Then I find out that your secretary, a woman we all trusted, had been deliberately starving you. You were wasting away, burning yourself out, and I didn't notice. I can't lose you, Regis.” Cor was babbling, Cor didn't babble. Regis pressed his lips against Cor's.
“Shh,” He whispered against Cors lips. “It didn't happen, I'm still here.”
The next three weeks passed quickly for Regis, even if his sudden good mood confused his staff. He was cheerful and seemed to have a spring in his step despite the cane. He was still in a good mood when he met up with his Guards for the day. Since he was staying in the inner Citadel for the day, the week really, while Clarus inspected the Wall for him with Noctis, he had two of the newest Glaive and Guard cadets and an experienced member of the Guard with him.
Today it was Argentum and Cadet Amur Kelly with Lieutenant Mos Lichen as their supervisor. Kelly was tall and stick thin, with a shock of dark red hair tied into a braid. Lichen was an average height with wavy brown hair and thick rimmed glasses.
“Good Morning, Lieutenant. How has your grandmother been?” Regis tried to learn a bit about everyone on his guard rotation, his Father said it was only polite and his Mother taught him that it could save his life.
“She's doing well, Your Majesty. Baking a lot of cakes for her charities,” Lichen replied pleasantly, a mild grin on his face. “These are my cadets for today, Amur Kelly, Crownsguard, and Prompto Argentum, Kingsglaive.” Both of them bowed, Argentum for once less nervous than his companion.
“It's nice to meet you both,” He said with his King Face. Being too friendly made the rookies jumpier, strangely enough. “I'm afraid the two of you are in for a dull shift. I will be in my office most of the day, so I will leave you to the Lieutenant.”
Regis settled in his office to take care of the daily grind of running a Kingdom under siege. At least the War was at a crawl, ever since Chancellor Izunia's disappearance it had become obvious just how much the man was propping up Aldercapt's regime. Regis wondered if that was why he'd vanished? Aldercapt was a jealous man. Unfortunately, Niflheim seemed to be pulling themselves together so the War wouldn't be slowed much longer.
To keep himself from getting too bored, Regis interspersed his normal paperwork with some of the reports coming out of Noctis' task force. Regis needed to remind him to come up with a name for it. Noctis had already gone through the reports and left notes in the margins, mostly questions and observations about the different groups they had identified. It was concerning how many things had slipped through the cracks. Titus was right about Noctis taking after Aulea. He really hoped Noctis wouldn't hold a press conference to call out a crime lord, once was enough.
He was just as angry as Noctis about the damage to the Royal Library and unfortunately there were only a select few people with access to it, so at least one more person he had known since childhood had also betrayed him. He couldn't blame his Father for being so misanthropic really, he occasionally wanted to toss the entire stupid Kingdom out the window, too. Was this really worth his son's life, Bahamut? They still hadn't gotten anything out of Ter- his secretary.
Shaking his thoughts away before he could depress himself, he got back to work. Worth it or not, it was his responsibility.
Barely three hours into the day, he was abruptly pulled away by a loud boom followed by a long, sustained rumble. He looked up, internally cursing the lack of windows. The door opened and his Guards came in swiftly, shutting the door behind them.
“Your Majesty, there's been a bombing. It's too close to the Citadel for my taste and Lord Amiticia sent word to get you somewhere safe. He will see to Prince Noctis. We're to stay out of sight and take the secret passage,” Lichen said quickly, his normally mild voice tightened with tension. The cadets were wide eyed and nervous, but holding together admirably. Regis rose to his feet, moving around the desk, cane in hand.
“What do we know?” He moved to the bookshelf and started pulling the books in the right sequence. He stepped back as the shelf swung out.
“Kelly you're scout trained so you're up first, then you Argentum. Then His Majesty, and I'll take rearguard. We know that it was set in a shopping center, Sire, the high end one on Blossom Street. Nothing else as of yet.”
As he spoke they entered the passage in the specified order, taking sharp turns and steep stairs. They went silent as they progressed, only speaking when they came to a crossroads. Regis had to hold in his curses as the pain in his leg got worse the farther they went. Why the hell was his inner office so high up? He finally had to call for a break as they came an transit area, with stairs leading up and down and three different passages branching off. It was the biggest they had hit yet, they must be getting close to the lower floors. To bad they had to go passed the ground floor, Clarus wouldn't be happy with anything other than the Panic Room.
He leaned against a wall to get the pressure off his leg as he listened to Lichen give orders to the cadets. Poor kids, their first day on his guard detail and this happens. Kelly vanished onto the stairs to continue scouting and Argentum was making a circuit of the passages while Lichen stood guard on him.
“The coms are down Lieutenant,” Kelly said as she returned. “The stairs are clear for five floors both ways. Neither of you replied to my signals.” Lichen cursed as Regis pulled out his phone and found it was down as well.
“The phones as well, Lieutenant. It explains why we haven't gotten any updates. We should continue.”
“Yes Sire, eyes peeled you two.”
“Yes sir!” They replied simultaneously. Kelly was even paler now while Argentum had a frown.
They continued winding their way through the Citadel, not taking a straight line between floors to throw off any potential pursuers. It was as they were passing through an old conference room on the twelfth floor that things went wrong. Lichen had sent the cadets to scout the halls, as they needed to cross over to a different set of passages, and Regis sat in an old office chair with a pained hiss. He waved the lieutenant off when he inquired and rubbed his leg, fire magic crackling just below his skin. He froze as his magic vanished from his senses and a knock came from the door.
“Are you ready, Sire? That's the all clear signal.”
No it wasn't. He stood up as casually as he could. “Lead on, lieutenant.”
As he followed Lichen into the hall, he pressed a discreet button on his cane. This came in handy when he needed to block two swords at once, pulling the sword out and blocking with the sheath and blade simultaneously. He swiftly knocked one sword away with his blade and stabbed the tip into the throat of the woman attacking him. He quickly pulled it out and had to turn to catch Lichen's overhead strike while shoving off the other attacker. He deflected another of Lichen's strikes into the chest of the other attacker.
“Why are you doing this, Lieutenant?” He asked, putting some space between them so he wouldn't step on the bodies. He felt a chill settle in his veins as Lichen gave him that same mild grin, a mad light glinting in eyes no longer hidden by his glasses.
“It's necessary, Your Majesty. Only when the Chosen King reigns will the world be at peace. The Church knows what you tried to hide. It's understandable that you wish to protect your son, but it must be done. The Lindworm will guide him to his destiny.”
He hurriedly blocked and suppressed a wince as his leg throbbed angrily. The man was mad, there was no use reasoning with him. He cursed when more attackers barreled down the hallway. He was hard pressed to keep himself alive. Regis fell to the ground with a shout as something sharp bit deeply into his leg. The attackers abruptly went down in a flurry of gunshots. Argentum slid to a stop beside him and fell to his knees, ripping his pants away from his leg. Kelly ran up as sirens started going off and ripped her glove off when she noticed what Argentum was doing.
“Bite down on this Your Majesty, you need a tourniquet.”
He grunted. “What happened to you two?” He put the glove in his mouth and muffled his scream as Argentum pulled his belt tight around his leg. They where both dirtied up and Argentum had blood on his face. Kelly had two parallel scratches across her chest just below the neck.
“We split at the T junction up ahead. Two rooms into my search I was attacked from behind by a squad of five men. I took care of them with few problems as they weren't very well trained. I met up with Argentum at the junction when we heard fighting and ran here,” She said as she started checking the bodies. He nodded and turned to his son's friend, who had trimmed his pants to try to make bandages out of the leg. He had avoided looking at his leg.
“The same happened to me, but they mentioned that they weren't trying to kill me, because of some Chosen King.” Argentum looked up at him finally. “You're going to lose the leg, Sire. There's barely an inch of muscle holding it on.”
“Well, at least it's my bad leg,” he said with an exhausted sigh. “Cut it off. We need to move.”
Kelly made a strangled sound, but pulled out her boot dagger.
He was hauled up as gently as they could manage after they helped him amputate his own leg. Both vowed to sign up for the field medic classes if they survived. Is it possible to promote cadets while they're still cadets? He wondered dizzily. Dodging the Crownsguard that might be traitors while dragging him along was worth one, right? They had made it to the tenth floor when he felt his magic roar back and he pulled them to a stop in an alcove set between two sets of stairs. He pulled a Hi-potion out of his Armiger. It healed over his leg stump and made him stop loosing blood.
As he was doing that Argentum's phone beeped. He quickly pulled it out and moved so they could see it. A messenger app was open.
BR : Magic suppressor offline, someone blow it up at first op. Prince and Shield safe, Sage_Fyr safe all check in.
There was a flurry of answers from the task force. Argentum turned to him.
“Should I check in Your Majesty? It's a secure line.”
“Yes. Warn them of the traitors in the Guard. Who is BR?”
Q : Quicksilver safe. King safe but injured. Have one cadet backup. Other Guard was traitor.
BR : Acknowledged. Will keep an eye out. No eyes on you. All Citadel cameras down.
“Bloodraven is Noctis' spymaster, Sire.”
“My son has a spymaster?” He said woozily. He had lost to much blood.
“Is that what I passed up?” Kelly asked faintly.
Before they could say anything else they heard shouts. Kelly stealthily scouted as Regis leaned against the wall. Argentum shoved a meal bar at him and insisted he eat it. The brat had threatened to tattle to Noctis. Kelly returned an ominous look on her face. The next few floors where covered in battles.
“There are at least three factions, Sire. They all want you dead but also seem to be fighting each other. We c-” She was cut off when the overhead sprinklers came on and they suddenly heard a roar. Shouts came from down the hall.
“Never mind. Give me your jacket, Your Majesty. I'm going to draw them out and Argentum is going to get you out of here.” She tugged insistently at his sleeve.
“You don't look anything like me cadet,” He said, amused, and took it off anyway.
“I am a saboteur, Sire.” She grinned wildly as she shrugged his jacket on and sparked a spell he had never gotten to work. She rippled and then he was staring at his double, with a full set of legs.
“Stay alive, cadet.”
She nodded sharply and took off.
Argentum tugged his arm over his shoulder and pulled him along after a loud outcry went up. They wove in and out of alcoves and behind statues keeping line of sight chancy. Eventually their luck ran out though and they were cornered in a hallway. First by regular Crownsguard, who took exception to Argentum pointing a gun at them, and then by traitor Guards who out numbered the regulars in spite of Argentum picking a few off.
As he was dragged down the hall in the distraction, he remembered something.
“Argentum.” The cadet twitched but continued pulling him along.
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“If I die-”
“You aren't going to die.” He sounded panicky.
“Hush. If I die, you must get the ring to Noctis. Leave me where I fall and get it to him as quickly as possible. The Wall will last half an hour at most if you don't. That's an order.”
When they were pinned in between two sets of attackers, unfortunately ones that had put aside their differences, he reminded Argentum of his orders. Fortunately they didn't have any guns.
“I can't fight for much longer, Sir Argentum. Will you be able to warp away?”
“Yes.” The blond boy, no he should call him a man, was pissed at him. His lips where pressed together in a firm line and his was was pale but determined behind the blood. Regis took the Ring off regretfully, he had hoped Noctis wouldn't have to wear it for a while longer. Argentum didn't look at it and shoved it in the Armiger.
“I told Bloodraven to tell Noct it's in there.” Regis laughed before ducking a thrown dagger and flinging a fire ball.
“I never thought of that. But you should still run. In fact that's an order.”
“Fuck you.” Argentum grabbed his arm in a painful hold and Regis gasped as he felt his son's magic reach out and envelop him. “Let's try something stupid.” And shot his gun over the heads of one group, blowing out a window.
Another crack and a sick lurch and they where over the courtyard, nothing underneath them.
Crack. Warp . Further up.
Crack. Warp . Over the Citadel wall.
Crack. Warp .
Crack. Warp .
Crack. Warp . Thud.
Regis crashed against Argentum as they skidded to a stop on a roof. As he lay staring at the sky the Wall went flame white and he felt the connection to it shatter. Noctis had been accepted by the Ring.
Chapter 3: Rapids
Amur Kelly, Crownsguard Cadet
How was this safer than being a Glaive? Kelly dodged a sword strike, swiftly pressing forward and using her claw rings to rip out his throat. Sign up for the Guard, she said. It's Tradition, she said. It'll pay for collage, she said. It's safer than the front line, she said. Using the blood as a medium she took his face, the eighth? ninth?, she had stolen today. Sorry mom, your planning skills need work, I probably would have been safer with the daemons.
Suppressing the nauseating rush of his personality overlaying hers, she moved silently down the hall. Ugh this guy was nuts. It settled awkwardly on top of the traces of the other personalities, joining the mishmash of impressions she picked up with each face. She was probably over doing it, she had read all she could about illusions but there was surprisingly little despite it's usefulness. She had figured out the blood requirement by accident. Luckily (sort of) His Majesty was already bleeding. His personality overlay was buffering her mind from the others, possibly because she was still wearing his bloody jacket, but who should she tell about him needing a vacation? He was Tired, let the poor man sleep. It was even suppressing the ones she had picked up in training.
She wondered for a moment where her talent for such a rare affinity came from, her mother hadn't had enough magic ability for more than a small weapon pocket after all.
After she had drawn the attackers away from the King, she had started sowing as much chaos as she could. When possible she picked off stragglers and turned them on each other, although it was easier when she found multiple factions in close proximity. Thankfully the blood from her rings worked as a spell component and she didn't have to cut herself, so she could make them think they where being attacked by things that weren't there. She was going to be sick later, she had lost count of how many people she had killed. Dropping the chandelier in the Grand Ballroom counted for at least twenty.
Shaking her thoughts away she froze when her com chirped in her ear. Ducking behind a statue, thankful for her scrawniness for once, she tapped it in acknowledgment.
“Cadet Amur Kelly, this is Bloodraven, can you give me a sit-rep?” A smooth, feminine voice spoke in a calm monotone. At her name the personality overlays snapped, leaving her head ringing, empty and her illusion gone. She had to stifle a gasp.
“This is Kelly, I drew the attackers away from the King so Argentum could get him out, I don't have any info about the Kings current-”
She was interrupted by the world going white for a split second before returning to normal, but still too bright.
“The fuck?” She sputtered.
“Prince Noctis is now holding the Wall.” Still monotone.
She gasped. Had she failed? Had Argentum?
“Update!” Actual emotion in her voice. “The King is alive, and out of the Citadel. He is being evacuated to medical care.”
“Oh, thank fuck. What now? Should I just keep after them?” She asked wearily. She was running on adrenaline and spite at this point. (Insomnia is hers, thank you very much)
“Want-wait shit, never mind. Look at the base of the statue you're behind, do you see the impression? Press hard and get in the passage.”
She responded automatically to the tone of voice and was closing the opening behind her before she knew it. She followed the directions from His Highness's spymaster as Bloodraven updated her on the urgency. Did His Highness like Game of Thrones?
“At least two of the factions are heading to the Crystal. Considering it's powering the Wall, they need to be stopped. I'm sending some Glaives but you're closer and that is a lot of explosives.”
“Can you give me anything on the factions? All I have is what I overhear.”
“You probably know more than me, I didn't have eyes in the Citadel until just before I contacted you. I still don't have ears.”
“The Lieutenant said he belonged to a Church that wants His Highness on the Throne, under their thumb, of course. One faction wants the Wall to fall, so that's probably the one with the explosives, the last faction just keeps setting everything on fire. I haven't found what the traitor Guards are after, there are some with each faction.” She reported matter of factly.
“Thank you, Cadet. Outside five bombs have exploded in different places, all of them in high population areas. Prince Noctis is at the Wall insuring Niflheim doesn't take advantage, both Shields are with him. Lord Scientia is coordinating relief and evacuation efforts. The Lord Marshal is leading a manhunt for traitors. Captain Drautos is in charge of retaking the Citadel. He is currently three stories below you.” her voice was back to that soothing monotone.
As she listened to the sit-rep she wound her way back up towards the Crystal room. It was easier without the King. Reaching the correct floor she pulled up the magic swirling like mist deep in her chest, where it had been since His Highness had granted it to her, and wrapped her self in a spell. It was half camouflage and half mirage. How did no one complain about the pressure the Crystal put off? It was like walking into the wind, and got worse the closer you get. It scratched at her magic, kind of like a cat you locked out of the bathroom.
She shook the thought away as she spotted one of the factions and moved slowly forward.
Mallory Desmond, Crownsguard Cadet
Holy fucking shit the Marshal was terrifying.
Desmond ducked another thrown body, regretting signing up for the command track. If she hadn't maybe she could have shadowed someone less terrifying. She wanted to be an investigator not a fighter, it's why she dropped out of the Glaive program despite ranking well in magic ability. With what Prince Noctis had said about the Royal Library being damaged (How dare they damage a library on purpose!) she had hopes of figuring out some spells useful for forensics. She had signed that contract because she was curious, it was her fatal flaw. It was genetic.
Marshal Leonis had seemed to be in a pleasant enough mood this morning, not that he was easy to read. She was being cycled through different departments to get a feel for them along with the rest of her class, but she was pretty sure Leonis had taken her on today because of the task force thing. This was proven true when instead of the Citadel, they where working out of headquarters in the run down building. They where on their way to The Teacher King's Public Library, checking if it had been altered as well, when a loud bang sounded shattering every window in the area. Several more distant ones sounded in rapid succession.
She turned just in time to see a twenty story building start to crumble. The next few hours where a mad scramble to find out what was happening. All coms where down and none of the cell phones worked, so they where coordinating everything by runners. Guess what cadets get to do? The Marshal had gotten progressively more scary as the day went by, especially when they learned no one knew where the King was. (She had not known it was possible to kill someone with a cell phone, but who shoots at relief workers?) Then he terrified everyone in the vicinity when magic stopped working, depriving them of weapons and what magic the Guard could use. Oh Six. Was the King dead? It was when she was delivering a report from Deputy Elshett that the phones came back. They had mixed news.
BR: Magic suppressor offline, someone blow it up at first op. Prince and Shield safe, Sage_Fyr safe all check in.
BG : Batgirl safe. Assignment: shadow Lord Marshal
The Marshal relaxed as Argentum confirmed the King was safe, until he read the last part. Traitors in the Guard? She froze like a rabbit when she looked up at the Marshal. His face was still and utterly blank and his eyes, oh his eyes burned like the sun on a scourge scar. He ordered her to type everything he said exactly. (Maybe he shouldn't have killed his phone on a gunman.)
BG: Orders from the Marshal: Get me the traitors address. And any family he might have. Lichen has a grandmother.
BR: 229 W. Blightburn. Sector 9. Both are listed at this address no other family on record. Will start on known associates. Stand by.
Apparently a state of emergency didn't get her out of shadowing Leonis. Who knew quick typing was such a useful skill? Take that Gramps. They ended up in a converted warehouse apartment. At least that's what it as listed as. In reality it was still a warehouse that someone had moved into. It was barely warmer than the out side and was covered in strange religious items, all of them seemingly connected to Bahamut. It was like stepping into a church, a haunted one. (On a side note, Bloodraven was terrifying. They had twelve more places to check by the time they got there.)
“Shades of Divine Minds: Draconian's Wrath much?” She muttered and then winced when it echoed loudly. The Marshal turned to her with raised eyebrows. “Please ignore my vaguely heretical movie choices, Sir.”
“I thought of Fallen Faith: Infernian's Revenge myself. Go check the offices, while I take the upstairs.... Wait do you have a weapon?” She unclipped her sai from where they where attached to her boots, the markings on them having tricked most eyes into thinking it was one of the more ridiculous alterations the Guard where allowed. She wasn't used to the magic storage option yet and with magic suppressors being a thing now she would probably keep backups in any case. He pulled a sword from the Armiger and nodded to her.
She padded towards the offices in the back of the warehouse with flushed cheeks. The Marshal liked dumb direct-to-video fantasy movies? Wait wasn't Fallen Faith banned when the Dragon Temple complained enough? Well being the Marshal had some perks she guessed. She was on edge when she opened the last door. She ducked quickly when something swung at her spinning quickly and, using the hilt, hit someone in the head with a sharp crack. They fell with a thump. She jumped when the light came on, but it was only the Marshal.
“Oh god I hit an old granny.” She said dropping to her knees to check on her.
“You hit a terrorist.” Leonis corrected. “There are records of her being the one to make at least two of the bombs.”
As he finished speaking their coms crackled and a calm monotone voice informed them that the coms where for emergencies until they finished fixing them and to continue using the phones. Leonis frowned and dropped a potion on the old woman and she sputtered awake. She looked around wildly and then froze when she saw Leonis. Desmond didn't blame her, she'd piss herself if the Marshal looked at her like that.
Before they could start questioning her a bright flash of white light blinded them, then faded abruptly leaving the world a little brighter than before. The coms crackled and the monotone voice came again.
“Prince Noctis is now holding the Wall.” Then Leonis did the scariest thing she saw today: He paled and swayed.
“Regis..” in a choked voice that sounded like his world had just ended. Oh that's right Leonis was a part of His Majesty's Retinue, his circle of close friends and confidants. The old woman started cackling.
“We won! Now there is nothing standing in the way of the Chosen King leading us to peace!” she ranted madly. What? Confused she turned to the marshal, who had leveled his sword at the old woman.
“Update!” Actual emotion in the voice. “The King is alive, and out of the Citadel. He is being evacuated to medical care.”
Leonis sagged before pulling himself together. He turned to her.
“Cadet. You where assigned to me as Marshal of the Crownsguard, but I am going to be acting as Voice of the King. Do you want to be reassigned? It will not affect your assessment.”
Oh Six, the Voice acted at his own discretion in the Kings name and everyone knows how the Marshal felt about traitors. His actions that led him to being named as King Mors' personal Kingsguard at fifteen where legendary. She firmed her shoulders.
“No Marshal. I swore to His Highness to help him hunt threats to Lucis foreign and domestic. Lead on.”
He nodded sharply once and turned to the old woman who was still cackling. How do you get answers out of the mad? Leonis leaned down to yank her head up to face him. When he spoke her knees almost buckled. It was like his voice was a rip tide, pulling you under until you had no hope, helpless.
“Where is your leader.”
The woman's will crumbled immediately which is how they ended up assaulting a slapdash church in a blocked off sewer. She only fought when they came near her, under orders to grab whatever papers and electronics she could find. I would have been redundant anyway she thought whimsically, shoving a laptop into a stolen sack. Dungeons & Dragons was more true to life than she expected.
Crowe Altius, Kingsglaive
“I don't remember having that much paperwork as a cadet.” Pelna said quietly from beside her on the ready room couch.
She looked up from her mission report to glance at him and then the cadets, who where all at a table filling out inch thick packets of paper.
“Not unless we fucked up real bad.” She answered.
“What do you think they did?” He said interested.
“Good question, that looks to beat the time we accidentally brought home a baby marlboro. HEY CADETS!” She yelled. They jumped and one of them fell out of his chair.
“Yes ma'am?” The only female asked.
“First, don't call me ma'am, it's Altius. Second, just how bad did you lot fuck up to have that much paperwork?” They looked at each other confusedly.
“Oh uh, I'm Kemp this is Harper, Jess, and Green.” she introduced them and pointed at the one who fell out of the chair last. “We didn't mess up? This is for the continued education program.”
“The what program?” Pelna asked. “Oh and I'm Khara.”
“The program that-” Kemp was cut of by a muffled boom followed by a low rumble.
They all stood and curses came from around the room as all the on call Glaives realized the coms were down. The Captains office door opened and he and Lazarus came out. It was a confusing time as they all scrambled to find out what was going on, which quickly turned into a scramble to stay alive. They had to fight their way up the Citadel putting down intruders and traitors. Then magic stopped working, and the fighting got twice as vicious.
The Captain was not taking the Kings probable death well, but seemed to take some hope from the fact that the cadets had lost their magic too. Prince Noctis wasn't in the Citadel to day, and the wall was still up.
Magic roared back in the middle of a pitched battle with some weirdos in red who kept trying to set the Citadel on fire. Which really, it was a dramatic and depressing rock heap but they were inside it at the time. See how they like being set on fire. After the battle they all pulled potions to heal up and Green set to using Cure on what potions wouldn't cover. All the cadets and the Captain got a text.
“They have magic suppressors now.” the Captain said flatly. Shit.
“Should we check in, Sir?” Harper asked.
“Yes. Get a sit rep.”
“The Kings alive but injured.” Harper gave the sit rep as they went.
They continued their way up the Citadel, different teams of Glaives breaking off to hold each floor. As they went they found a lot of dead intruders and traitors. Apparently there was a Guard cadet loose who was taking exception to this cluster fuck. Crowe wanted to meet them, they had style. The coms came back but only for emergencies. They were quickly diverted to the Crystal room by whoever was on the coms. Why did the cadets know them and no one else but the Captain?
They finally made it to the floor the Crystal was on, and Crowe realized she had never been here before. It was like walking into driving rain. There was a trail of bodies stuffed behind things in a way you wouldn't be able to see them coming from the other direction. The door to the room was open and sounds of fighting came from within. They hit the room hard and Crowe felt like she was drowning. She pushed through it just in time to see the cadet they had been following hit the Crystal.
There was a deep tone like standing in a giant bell and something spoke but she couldn't make out the words. It brought every one to their knees. Crowe forced herself to her feet along with the Glaives. The leader of this group of intruders was ranting but her ears were still ringing. The Captain apparently could hear enough because he stepped forward with violence written in his body. Crowe felt her blood freeze as the Captains magiteck armor flowed over his skin. What the hell had the attacker said. He didn't bring that out for anything short of the Ulldor taking the field.
“-Tell me are you admitting to being behind Queen Aulea's death?” she heard the Captain snarl as her hearing returned. Crowe was too busy to hear the answer as the other attackers opened fire. She dodged between attacks tossing fire at them as she went. She turned at a shout of her name and slammed up a barrier spell. She felt herself fly back and her head crack hard on something and everything went black
Gladiolus Amiticia. Shield of The Prince
It was strange how much could change in two months. Two months ago he would be shadowing Noctis on his way to school and then continue training. Now he was listening to Noctis' personal spymaster brief them on a contact they were meeting.
“You're sure this engineer is up for the job?” Noctis said to the phone he was holding between them.
“Of course! I've been in contact with Wrench_Wench for years. She is one of the best non-imperial engineers I have been able to find. As long as you agree to sponsor her personal research, she will be happy to work for you.
“What is her—Never mind Lord Clarus is here.”
“Make sure you wear your earpiece. I'll keep you up dated on my replacement search.”
“We are, talk to you later.
They both straiten up as his Dad walked up to them, trailed by a Glaive. They were all in the Kingsglaive uniform, no need to advertise Noctis' location. Clarus introduced Nyx Ulric, their driver for the day. They all settled in the car. A discreet modern model that thankfully had plenty of leg room.
"Glaive Ulric is cleared for everything we are doing today and Captain Drautos has recommended you read him in on your project, Your Highness. He wants to be sure that you have the backup you will need even if you can't get a hold of him. He has further recommendations and Cor is compiling a list of Guards for similar reasons." Clarus started as the car pulled out of the Citadels garage. Noctis considered for a moment holding a finger to his earpiece as Bloodraven obviously fed him some information. With a sharp nod Noctis leaned forward.
"Don't crash the car Glaive Ulric." Noctis said dryly. Ulric gave them all an uncertain look through the rear view mirror. "Yes, Your Highness." He was hard pressed to obey that as Noctis launched into a review of the past two months. It did pass the time to the wall.
"When did we end up in a political thriller?" Ulric asked blankly as he pulled into a Guard station at the Wall.
"About two months ago." Gladio said cheerfully smacking him on the shoulder as he passed, following Noctis as Clarus started the inspection. When they were on the opposite side of the physical marking of the Walls ending Clarus led them to an out crop of rock.
"Are the two of you going to tell me why you wanted to come out here now?"
Noctis leaned against a boulder while Gladio hopped on top of it to keep watch and Ulric set a perimeter.
"When is the last time the Wall was inspected by an engineer? Going by the health records of my ancestors it didn't used to take nearly as much energy from them. Some time in the Year of Six Kings the energy draw spiked hard. It is probably what killed the last one. So what went wrong with it? Bloodraven found us an engineer who she thinks will be able to decipher the schematics."
Clarus frowned as he accepted the tablet Noctis pulled out of the Armiger. He started swearing about half way through the reports. Noctis looked like he was taking notes. Gladio spotted a red truck driving their way and his earpiece beeped.
"The red truck should have two people in it. An older man and a young woman. I'll tell you if she gets the pass code right."
Gladio signal Ulric to let them pass and hopped down to tell Noctis. Before he could his dad saw the car and blinked in shock.
"Is that Cid?"
The truck pulled to a stop and Cid Sophire stepped out. Clarus had strode over to him and now they were hugging.
"Well that's convenient." Gladio snorts and watches the girl who had jumped out of the other side. She was as blond as Prompto. She was wearing overalls with a long sleeve green t-shirt under it, and a bandanna over her hair with cars printed on it. She gives the two men a weird look as she passes and comes to a stop in front of Noctis with her hands on her hips.
"There's a spoke in the wheels." Noctis said blandly. Gladio raised an eye brow, Noctis didn't usually bother to control his voice that much.
"Only if the wheels are crank." The blond returned in a thick accent. Noctis relaxed a bit but was still oddly tense.
"Three_I_Raven said you wanted sponsorship for a personal project in return for working for me. I need to know what it is before I can agree." Noctis had pulled on his professional face.
"Ya could introduce yer self first ya know. I'm Cindy Aurum. My project is headlights that will repel Daemons."
Noctis blinked. "That's a great idea. I want you to find out why the Wall is drawing to much energy from my father when it didn't used too draw nearly as much. My name is Noctis."
Gladio could see the realization cross her face. Before they could continue speaking both Clarus and Cid gasped and spun towards the city. At the same time a muffed boom reached them and Ulric bolted to them. Gladio tapped his earpiece but only got static.
"There's a Nif airship coming in hot, we need to get under cover." Ulric said rapidly. They all started to run to the gate house.
"Coms are down too." Gladio put in.
"Noctis can you use your magic?" Clarus asked urgently. Noctis shot him a wild look. Before he could check Cid tackled him out of the way of a MTs lance. They were blocked from the gate by the drop ship landing in front of them. They were suddenly in a battle for survival and none of them had weapons except Cid, Cindy and Ulric. Ulric was vicious with his kukri and Cid had a hammer from somewhere while Cindy had pair of wrenches she was putting to good use.
Suddenly Noctis' magic returned and they were able to call their weapons. Ulric started to prove how he coined the term warp spammer, and Noctis started tossing fire.
Gladio's earpiece crackled back to life while he was dodging gun fire .
"-you hear me? I repeat Noctis, Gladio can you hear me?"
Gladio tapped his com quickly and went back to the fight.
"We can hear you. What's going on?" Noctis warp strikes a MT that was about to decapitate Cid and tossed up a barrier so he could rally.
"Chaos. Three different factions have invaded the Citadel, Five bombs have gone off in high traffic areas and there are traitors in the Guard. The King is alive but injured, Argentum is in charge of getting him out while Kelly runs distraction. Drautos is retaking the Citadel with the Glaives he had on hand. Both lord Scientias are running crowd control and Leonis is on a manhunt for traitors. I redirected several squads of Guards your way but they seem to be getting waylaid suspiciously quickly. I don't know if I'll be able to get you any back up, Noctis."
"We'll make due , Raven. keep an eye on my dad please."
"Will do--oh shit." That was a very ominous tone from someone who could causally black mail her own parents. "Your Highness, Prompto just put the Ring of the Lucii in your joint Armiger." Her tone was soft. Ulric slammed up a barrier to give them a minuet. Noctis pulled out the Ring and shoved it on and threw a fire ball at an on coming Tank. Gladio had to yank Noctis back when he gasped and fell to his knees. Then the world went white.
Nyx Ulric, Kingsglaive
Nyx slammed as large a barrier up as he could, trying to cover who he could despite not being able to see. Thankfully the whiteness cleared quickly and didn't leave spots in his eyes. He ducked at a shout a wrench just barely missing his head as it rammed into the joint of an MT, yanking its arm off. He glanced at Aurum quickly wincing at the mania in her eyes. He was pretty sure this was her first real taste of combat, she was going to crash hard.
He jerked back as the white light returned this time tracing up the wall and swiftly turning it from the odd bluish-purple barely there light to an almost opaque pearl color. Every MT within ten feet of it suddenly disintegrated between one breath and the next. It happened even as they advanced. Nyx turned to find the Prince (King?) He was on his knees faintly glowing to match the Wall.
"Update!" the eerily monotone woman now had feeling in her voice. “The King is alive, and out of the Citadel. He is being evacuated to medical care.” Nyx nearly sagged in relief and no one mentioned Prince Noctis letting out a sob. They all hustled into the gatehouse now that they could. Where are all the Guards? Surely some of the would have made it here. He quickly found his answer as the smell of blood smacked them in the face. They were thrown back into they fray but this time against other people. Nyx was covering Aurum as the Lord Shield was fighting in tandem with Sophire, and the Prince had his Shield. He was jarred out of his zone at the Prince's roar of fury.
"If the Draconian is commanding you to kill my father to put me on the throne then I will burn down every one of his shrines I can find."
There was a whooshing sound as a force of magic blasted from Prince Noctis throwing all the attackers into the walls with a sick crunch while leaving the them untouched. There was silence. They were all panting and trying to catch their breaths. Nyx hadn't done that much non-magical combat since basic training. If Nif was going to throw magic suppressors at them now that would have to change.
"We need to get to HQ or to Bloodraven which ever would be safer." Gladio said with a sigh. Gladio tapped his earpiece and nodded. "She says HQ is clear so far but the Guard is missing so she isn't sure how long it will last. Her place is still clear and her Guards did not turn so their is probably safer."
"Where is 'there'?" Nyx asked pulling the keys out of the Armiger. Prince Noctis Gave him a searching look and tilted his head listening to the bird in his ear.
"West 98th Oracle Drive." Noctis said helping Cindy to her feet from where she had sat down abruptly after the battle. Nyx nodded and scoped out the area out side the gatehouse and checked over the car. He gave a wave and they all had to cram in. Aurum slid into the driver seat be for he could.
"Yer a better fighter but I'm a better driver." She said bluntly. Nyx nodded and got in. Luckily the car was big enough for all of them. He then had to hold on for dear life s she pealed out of the parking lot. Crazy woman. Prince Noctis leaned forward.
"Do you know where your going, or do you need directions?"
"Directions aren't gonna do much good in all this, Prince. Just point me in the right direction and I'll get us there." She said with a fierce grin. She wasn't wrong, the whole city seemed to be in chaos. But he was never going to get in a car with her again. Bloodraven was warning them if they were going to hit a pocket of trouble, but sometimes the cameras were down and they would hit fighting. At one point they lost the car because Cindy landed it on a group of people trying to burn a family they had tied to a street sign. Everyone scrambled out of the car when it made an ominous noise and Noctis rushed over to the prisoners to untie them while Gladio shoved the newly lit pile away as best he could. They were all blond so maybe they were all Niflheimer refugees.
"Thank you, Thank you." One woman sobbed on the Princes shoulder clutching her three year old to her.
"Shh hey it's alright. Do you have some where to wait this out?" Prince Noctis was comforting the group he saved. Nyx was trying to check in with the people he knew. Finally he got a hold of one of the Elders. He text back and fourth quickly then approached the Prince.
"Your Highness? There is a Galahden restaurant that is taking in people to ride out the chaos, it's only a few blocks away." Nyx said carefully trying not to spook the family any more. They all stiffened and looked at Prince Noctis with wide eyes. Whoops.
"Thank you Ulric, which way is it?" He nodded at his pointing. "Alright it's on our way lets get going, I think it's going to get worse from here on so lets go by foot."
They all nodded and escorted the family and other civilians they picked up along the way. A bonus of finding Elder Charon was getting an update on the state of the City from the ground level. Apparently Bloodraven didn't have many operatives yet.
"The chaos is dying down in most sectors, its just this one and the three surrounding it that are getting worse. The Tidecallers and the Rouge Court locked down the docks pretty quickly. The Frost Brides and Titans Towers are out in force reminding every one that a chastity vow isn't the same thing as a non-violence vow. Little Galahd is doing what we can, of course, but did you really find them about to be burned at the stake?" The Elder asked concerned.
"Unfortunately. Cindy took care of them though." Nyx replied as her gestured to Cindy, who looked a bit green at the memory. Right combat newbie.
"That could be bad, if they are prepared to be that obvious about their murder. With the weapon ban in Insomnia we will just have to bunker down." Charon said with a frown. Civilians weren't supposed to have weapons in Insomnia with out a permit, which were hard to get for refugees. Not that Little Galahd paid attention to that beyond concealing them.
"If you have weapon use them. Insomnia First is a terrorist organization and any actions take to defend your selves will be pardoned." Noctis spoke up from where he was against the wall. His voice carried across the room making everyone turn to him. "If any one gives you any trouble, get word to Ulric and I'll take care of it."
"I will back that." Clarus said from the door. "Your Highness we need to go."
Nyx gave a quick wave at the suddenly wide eyed elder and dashed after them. They had made it almost to the right street when they were attacked. Gladio was the first to fall as a sniper shot rang out. It was a scramble to get under cover. Luckily for Gladio the sniper was shit shot. Sophier dragged him under cover while Nyx tossed up a barrier to cover their retreat. Attackers in scaled patterned uniforms poured out of a nearby building. They were concentrating on the Prince, who was holding his hands on Gladio's lower back to staunch the bleeding. Lord Amiticia pulled up a barrier behind Nyx and yelled at him to get the sniper who was still taking shots at them.
Nyx nodded sharply and rammed his barrier into the closest grouping before dropping it and chain warping up the building. He found the sniper wearing the same uniform, trying to pack his gun quickly. He spotted Nyx and bolted for the roof top door but Nyx got their first and knocked him out. He swiftly detached his sash and tied the man. He stuffed him behind the air conditioning unit. One sniper ready for pick up.
He made it to the edge of the roof in time to see Cindy bash in the last one in the head with one of her wrenches. He went down like a ton of bricks. He tapped his earpiece.
"Lord Amiticia? I have the sniper tied up, I thought you might want to interrogate one."
"Good work Ulric. Bring him down with you, we're close enough to bring him with us."
As he hauled the sniper down the stairs a feeling like a great soundless bell washed over them and a genderless voice rang.
Hail Blood of the Lucii! Hail Daughter of the Stone! Hail Princess of the Blood Royal!
He picked up the pace and as he rejoined the others it rang again with the same words.
This was a terrible day. Iris thought to her self while she shushed Silence. They had been grabbed as their school had been evacuating after the first bomb had gone off. The kidnappers had been dressed as Crownsguard and knew the pass phrases for both of them. The only reason she knew they were being kidnapped was them getting in the wrong car. Their was no moogle charm on the keys like her father told only her and Gladdy, not even the King knew that tell. She had almost made a break for it before Silence had been shoved in the car. He had noticed too and made a run for it. He got caught quickly though, and now he had a broken nose.
She had played up the scared little girl act and they left her hands free to take care of Silence. They had both traded glances and she could tell he was just as mad. She pulled him to her to block their mouths, making it look like a hug.
"Did you here anything?" She asked lowly, rocking him.
"They're real Guards. Insomnia First is paying them. They want to kill my sister for contaminating her self and murder her children to punish Prompto for defiling a noble." His voice was like ice, and there was a snarl underneath it that he was holding behind his teeth. She felt that same rage creep up her spine. Kill Cascade just for having children with Prompto? Just because he was from Niflheim? Not on her watch.
"Be ready to move with me." She murmured using their bodies to hide her movement as she pulled her hair sticks out. Her hair stayed in place not being held up by them. She carefully unscrewed the ends to pull out the bone blades that were her mothers last gift to her. He nodded into her neck accepting one of the knives, it slid through the ropes like butter.
"Hey what are you kids doing?" One of the men, a traitor, came to jerk her around. He fell with a gurgle as she fluidly stood and slit his throat as she rose. She quickly darted to the only one with a gun and dove on top of her taking her down to the floor along with the chair. She immediately stabbed her in the throat causing her blood to squirt all over her. Silence had followed her tackling the third and last in the side. He drove the blade into his eye as he wrestled Silence onto his back. She turned to look at Silence as he shoved the man off. They both abruptly turned and threw up.
After a few moments as they got themselves under control Silence came over to her and gave her knife back. She quickly put them back together and back in her hair. Silence had grabbed the knives and a short sword from the kidnappers. He set those beside her to grab the gun the woman had had. He quickly took it apart and put it back together.
"Uncle taught me, I'm better with it than the knives or sword, even if I'm a beginner at all of it." He said in a quiet voice. It was still as cold a winter. She nodded in understanding as she stuck the knives in various places and grabbed the sword testing it in satisfaction.
"At least the traitor took care of his weapons. We can't trust any of the Guard and probably not the Glaive either. We need to make it to my house. Jared will be there and it's got defenses we didn't add to the blueprints."
He nodded while loading both their backpacks with ammo he had found in boxes along the wall. They agreed not to take any of the supplies they found, not trusting them. They quickly searched the house they were being held in but it seemed that it was just the three kidnappers. They ducked out the back and oriented themselves as they took off down the ally. Keeping to back alleys was easy and probably safer with all the chaos going on. They had to climb down over passes and dodge rioting.
Their luck ran out when they passed under an train track and were quickly surrounded by men.
"Well, well. what so we have here? Two lost little children. Noble children at that. You can't be anything else in that school uniform. Why don't you come with us, I'm sure your parents will pay handsomely for your return." He said nothing else as a crack sounded and a hole appeared in his head. Silence had shot him. "You bastard!" One yelled and charged them. Silence shot him too and then Iris was to busy fighting to keep track. Soon enough they were surrounded by bodies and covered in more blood.
"You would think they would be more wary of two kids covered in blood." Silence said blandly lowering his gun to reload the ammo. She barked out a laugh glad she no longer had anything to throw up. Silence gave her a queasy grin. Now knowing they were in gang territory they went more cautiously. Not that it helped, they were cornered six more times. The last was the worst. They were almost to her district when she was grabbed. Silence was holding the gun on the last gangster who had her held at an awkward angle against his chest. He had his own gun against her head.
"Put the gun down boy and I wont kill the two of you." His breath stank. He pressed the gun tighter to her head when she shifted. That wasn't why she froze though, she froze because she could feel his arousal against her.
"Alright , Alright, I'm putting it down." Somehow Silence managed to sound even more icy.
"Good. I'm sure the two of you will fetch a good price on the market, though I should sample the goods first. Heh" Thank god for arrogance. As he spoke the gun slipped away just enough and his arm loosened just enough, for her to turn her head and sink her teeth into his throat. He dropped her with a choked cry which only helped her finish ripping his throat out. She rolled away and stood up, blood running down her face. They watched him choke to death, Silence grabbing the dropped gun. Iris turned and dry heaved, crying. Silence rubbed her back and stood watch. She was startled out of her heaving when the world abruptly washed white.
"We should go." She rasped finally getting her self under control and accepting the hand up he offered. They ignored the light, having no way to find out what happened.
They swiftly made their way to her house and she was relived to find her code to the panic room still worked. They gave Jared the fright of his life when they showed up covered in blood and running on adrenaline. He was fussing over their mostly minor injuries when a sound like nothing she had ever heard before washed over them. A strange voice spoke shaking her bones.
Hail Blood of the Lucii! Hail Daughter of the Stone! Hail Princess of the Blood Royal!
A few moments latter it sounded again.
Ignis Scientia, Adviser to the Prince
Ignis was spending his first day off in over two months with his uncle. He had started the day with a lie in, not much of one admittedly, but he did stay in bed for an extra ten minuets. He had then joined his Uncle for breakfast at their favorite café. Afterwards they had enjoyed a tour of Insomnia's Museum of Art.
"You know I'm proud of you, right?" His Uncle asked with a hand on his shoulder. Ignis ducked his head with a small smile. Before he could say anything a loud boom shattered every piece of glass in the vicinity and knocked everyone to the ground. Scrambling to his feet with his Uncle, Ignis pulled an unbroken spare set of glasses out of the Armiger.
"Well that was a banging way to get or attention." Ignis said blandly. His Uncle snorted before striding to the security guard. Ignis hastened after him.
"-radios aren't working, my Lord." the guard was explaining. Ignis nodded sharply and pulled his heavy duty laptop out of the Armiger.
"I need somewhere out of the way Uncle. I should be able to do something to get hold of Bloodraven and between the two of us we can get coms up."
"The security office is through there, Sir." The guard said nervously. Oceanus nodded. "I am going to go start evacuating the civilians Ignis, stay safe." "Yes Uncle."
It took them a while to get the coms back up but they did it. Ignis had to turn it all over to Bloodraven however. There was a faction heading to set a bomb in the water supply that would take out the farm caverns. Insomnia needed those. So now Ignis was ghosting behind a group of men in scale patterned uniforms. He could over here snatches of their conversation but none of it made sense. How were they meant to run a war if Insomnia fell? Idiots.
He made his move as they split up to set the charges. He slit the throats of all but the leader. That one he knocked out and tied to a chair. He looked over the bomb but it was already set. Neither he nor Bloodraven were trained in bomb disposal. Something to work on. Ignis turned to the terrorist and dropped a potion on him. He startled awake with a jerk and sneered when he saw Ignis.
"How do I stop the bomb?" Ignis asked coolly. The terrorist spit at him. How crass.
"I will tell you nothing, heathen. The Lord of War will protect me in my duty. Insomnia will fall and finally everyone will know the taste of war, instead of covering behind this blasphemous Wall."
Ignis studied him for a moment then quickly reached forward and snapped his right pointer finger. Ignis had tied him with his hands on the armrests for a reason. The man squealed in pain.
"The last thing war is, is safe. I have taken you as a prisoner of war. Shall I continue to treat you as one?" Ignis asked his question with his hand hovering over the next finger. The terrorist stared him in the eye for a moment before spilling. Ignis quickly disarmed the bomb making sure to take it apart enough that it couldn't be rearmed and then knocked the man back out. He was making his way back towards his uncles position when Bloodraven contacted him to tell him that Teresa Pellham, King Regis's treasonous secretary, had been broken out.
"How did they get into the Crownsguard cells?" Ignis asked ass he hot wired a sleek looking sports car. It was the only manual car he could find on short notice.
"Now that I'm looking in the right place, I have found a whole cabal of Guards that have been taking bribes and even murdering suspects to line their pockets. Some of them were on shift in the cells today."
"The Marshal isn't going to be happy." He said absently as he sped down the street. He liked this car maybe he would buy it off the owner when he returned it. It took him less than ten minuets to catch up to the car Pellham was in. He quickly got caught up in the chase. They wove in and out of the cars on the street sometimes barely missing pedestrians.
"Considering he's been tearing through every traitor I could point him at I think that might be an understatement. That poor cadet shadowing him."
"Heh. I imagine it will be educational. Oh dear, we seem to be heading into Rouge Court territory." Ignis said mildly, speeding up to use a loading dock as a ramp and spinning the car as it landed so he was blocking the boat ramp they were heading for. They were forced to stop or drive into the ocean. They were in a stand off for a few minuets before several well dressed men came out to surround the end of the dock. The driver of Pellham's getaway car was trying to negotiate with the leader of the Rouges. The man was pale with a smattering of freckles with a shock of dark purple hair in a artfully tossed under cut. He had caramel colored eyes and a double scar across the left eye. He had square glasses and a neatly trimmed goatee. Ignis spoke up.
"Rellion Carmine, The Rouge Court has never stepped into outright treason. Will you start now?" Ignis called calmly. Carmine started walking towards them.
"Treason, Adviser? Have they acted against the common good of Lucis?" His voice was smooth as whiskey but Ignis could here the building rage beneath it.
Before he could answer the world flashed white and Bloodraven informed him that Noctis was holding the wall. Meeting Carmines eyes he knew that the Rouge Leader understood what had happened. Ignis rallied.
"Teresa Pellham was working to assassinate the King, Mr. Carmine. The Lord Marshal still has questions." Ignis knew Carmine was a patriot and had no worries about him letting Pellham go.
"I see." His voice had abruptly turned cheerful. "Allow us to help, Adviser. We will hold them until the current emergency is over and hand them over to ..well not the marshal given the mood he's bound to be in but the deputy perhaps."
"That would be appreciated Mr. Carmine. Lucis thanks you for your service." Immediately after that a other worldly bell rang and a great voice proclaimed
Hail Blood of the Lucii! Hail Daughter of the Stone! Hail Princess of the Blood Royal!
After a few moments of confusion it happened again.
Libertus Ostium, Kingsglaive
Today was so weird. Libertus sighed to himself hauling a computer into place at the direction of the woman in the hospital bed. It had started out normally enough even if he wondered if he was being punished for something to land guard duty for a noble woman. Lucian women were so strange. Or maybe just Insomnians. None of them knew how to fight unless they were in the Guard and even then they usually didn't know how to Hunt. How did they live with being helpless? Libertus couldn't understand it. Then Lazarus told him he got guard duty because the woman had nearly shot the last one for 'being a racist fuck stick with delusions of relevance' and he was at least professional enough to keep his thoughts to himself.
He had been a bit thrown about the detail being in the hospital and even more thrown by the pregnant bit. But Cascade Argentum seemed nice enough. Then the day took a sharp turn into the twilight zone when she snapped his name urgently. He darted into the room expecting an intruder. Instead she was frantically typing on her lap top. She looked up at him and rattled off a code that had his heart sinking. That was the override to all his orders.
So apparently Lady Cascade Argentum, branch family head of the Scientias was Prince Noctis' personal spymaster. He spent the next few hours moving computer equipment and helping her direct things, when she needed another voice. He mainly took care of the civilian parts like directing traffic and search patterns of the collapsed buildings. Then the world flashed white and he snapped his head to her.
"Prince Noctis is now holding the wall." Her eyes where wide as she searched through the the cameras she had access to. Then she made a happy sound.
"The King in alive and out of the Citadel. He is being evacuate to medical care."
Libertus was relived. He didn't always agree with the kings decisions but he didn't want him dead. A short time later there was a deep sound that was felt more than heard and a great voice rang.
Hail Blood of the Lucii! Hail Daughter of the Stone! Hail Princess of the Blood Royal!
A few moments later it rang again. Lady Argentum was as confused as he was.
It was another half hour of directing things when Lady Argentum covered her earpiece.
"Glaive Ostium please go open my window and help Cadet Argentum in with his principle." Libertus nodded and headed to the window. How was she related to a cadet? He opened the window carefully just in case it was someone with stolen pass codes. A shuriken thunked into the window seal when he stepped back and with a shatter two people appeared.
Libertus grabbed the man not wearing the Glaive uniform to help pull him in. The cadet tumbled in after him and just laid on the floor for a moment before rolling to his feet. Libertus had to steady the man who apparently only had one leg.
"Are you alright, Argentum?" King Regis asked. Libertus had almost dropped the King. "Why does the King only have one leg?" He accidentally asked out loud.
"Because he cut it off." Argentum said dryly. "You're the ranking Glaive, he's all yours." Then he stumbled over to Lady Argentum and climbed on the bed with her carefully avoiding the power cords. He lay with his head pressed to her very pregnant stomach and shuddered. She didn't say anything and just ran a free hand through his hair. Libertus looked at the King hoping he wouldn't take the disrespect badly. But he just collapsed in the chair Libertus led him to.
"What a terrible first day for my Guard detail." The King muttered. Libertus couldn't help his snort, which pulled a tired grin from him. King Regis ran a hand through his already messy hair and requested a status report. Libertus updated him the best he could while keeping an eye on the cadet.
"Your Majesty, Prince Noctis has made it here, he will be up as soon as he see Gladio into surgery. He was shot." she added as Cadet Argentum sat up right and the King made a worried noise. "He will live." Lady Argentum continued after the King looked alarmed. Cadet Argentum slumped and put his head on her shoulder, and she patted him absently. "Should we call a doctor in for you, by the way? All of them here are vetted."
"Yes." Cadet Argentum answered first. King Regis made a rude sound. "You had a field amputation that you performed yourself, suck it up before I tell Noctis." He bit out.
"Are you...allowed to talk to him like that?" Libertus asked in disbelief.
"Only about my health Sir Glaive. I'm sure Noctis asked him to keep an eye one me after that assassination attempt. The brat." His Majesty said fondly. Cadet Argentum nodded in agreement. Lady Argentum had hit her call button and Doctor Low knocked once and entered. He stopped abruptly staring at Cadet Argentum.
"Prompto? How did you get in here?"
"The window. Your patient is over there, try not to freak out." Prompto? said quickly. The doctor gave him a flat look and turned to King Regis, then had to take a deep breath.
Prince Noctis rapped on the door and quickly entered along with two blonds and Nyx but before he could speak a King Regis blurted out. "Cid?!"
Chapter 4: Fallout
Happy New Year!
Lunafreya Nox Flurent, Oracle
Lunafreya carefully controlled her temper. She needed answers before she jumped to conclusions. Surely her brother was not that dumb. Surely her brother has not forgotten every foundation their House is built upon. Spotting Ravus speaking with the security head she marched over and dismissed the security guard, pinning Ravus with a look before he could make an escape. She was done letting him avoid her. Keeping a calm look on her face she spoke.
“Ravus. I heard a strange rumor the other day, will you clarify it for me?” Let him think she was going to as about some petty Court drama, all the better to catch him off guard. Ravus let out a sigh.
“Of course, Luna. What is it.” They both ignored the reporters aiming directional microphones at them, for different reasons.
“Did you conspire to have King Regis assassinated?” She dropped the smile, doing her best impression of her mothers glare. She paid no mind to the gasps from the crowd. Ravus had paled but she could see him pull him self up haughtily.
“How did you find out about that? Who told you?” She almost froze in shock. He wasn't trying to deny it?
“Is that all you care about? That I found out? Ravus how could you?” She said her voice rising slightly.
“It's for the best, sister. It's his fault our mother died, if he and his brat haden-” he was cut off by her harsh slap.
She drew up all the power she could, holding on to it by her fingernails. She wasn't trained in the harsher aspects, The Emperor not wanting her to have any more tools for an escape attempt. The eerie stillness of her power washed out among the crowd silencing them. It built and built until it drove everyone to their knees and then continued building and even Ravus, long inured to the feel, fell to his knees before her.
"Ravus, Son of Sylva and Wallach, Scion of the Nox Fleuret, First Son of Tenebrae. Thrice I name you and Thrice I bind you. You will speak no lies. You will answer my questions fully. You Will answer All questions I speak.
"Ravus, did you willfully and knowingly use Low War tactics despite the Oaths you swore to Our House the day you turned sixteen?
"I did." The answer was pulled out of him like it pained him. It did. The more he fought it the more it would hurt.
"Ravus, did you willfully and knowingly order the assassination of Regis Lucis Caelum?"
"I did." He answered through gritted teeth.
"Ravus, did you willfully and knowingly order the assassin to make it slow and painful." There was a low susurrus of whispers from the crowd despite her power still blanketing them.
"I did." His voice was choked, but the Spell wouldn't let him do anything to stop it, including preventing him from biting his own tongue like he just tried.
She had to take a moment. She had hoped, foolishly perhaps, that it was all a misunderstanding. That Ravus had been tricked somehow. But no. He had done this willingly. She knew what must be done.
"Ravus, Son of Sylva and Wallach, Scion of the Nox Fleuret, First Son of Tenebrae. By your own words you have named yourself Traitor and Oathbreaker both. As Head of House Nox Flurent it is my duty to see to your punishment. As your plot did not succeed your life will be spared. For your crimes I hear by cast you out.
You are Nox Flurent no longer. The Strengths of our Blood will desert you. You are Outcast.
The Blood of the Oracle is no longer yours. The Astrals turn their faces from you. You are Anathema.
You are no longer a Son of Tenebrae. The fields of Tenebrae will offer you no succor. You are Outlaw.
Begone from my site and know that to present yourself to me means your death."
Luna turned and strode away heedless of the MTs disintegrating around her. She held the stillness until she reached her rooms. She shut her door and let the power go. She pressed her back against the door and slid down it finally letting her tears fall. Her bro-. Ravus had tried to kill someone with Low War. The Nox Fleurets had taken vows never to do so since before the Fall of Solheim. He grew up on the same stories she had, about what the Nox Flurent bloodline could do. Without Doomtrain to keep them in check..
Luna took a deep breath and stood. She had things to do, that would have to be her five minuets of privacy today. Stopping at her bathroom to wash her face, she continued to her meditation room. It was the one concession she had fought for and Gentinia had backed her. No one but those she allowed were ever to enter and there would be no cameras. The Emperor seemed to think she would use it to plot against him. He was right of course, but right now she had other concerns.
Yesterday Umbra had returned from Noctis who's letter informed her of the plot against King Regis. She had recognized the name Teresa Pellham. It was the name of her mothers former spymaster. She had dug through what footage she could find of King Regis's public appearances and a friend had dug out the profiles the empire kept on people of interest. It was the same woman. Noctis had written of her words blaming His Majesty for the Fall of Tenebrae. As if the Empire hadn't been encroaching on them for centuries. Ravus was the main proponent of that ridiculousness so she had to confront him. If he hadn't been such a coward and avoided her she wouldn't have had to do it in public.
Shaking the thoughts from her head she entered the room. Loqi looked up from where he was changing the wet cloth on Gentinia's head. Yesterday while she was meditating Gentinia had appeared in the room with her, startling her out of her meditation. Gentinia didn't usually appear like that, instead popping right out side the door and knocking. Then she had collapsed and in the other room Umbra and Pryna had whined like they had been stabbed. None of the Messengers had woken since. She hadn't known Messengers could run fevers but all three of them were.
"How are they doing?" she asked softly. Loqi shrugged worriedly.
"There's been no change, Princess. I've made them drink but I don't know if it's helping...I'm sorry about Ravus." He ended gently. She smiled weakly.
"It had to be done. He didn't even try to deny it Loqi. Did I ever really know him?" She blinked back tears and leaned into him when he sat beside her and put his arm around her.
"People change as they grow, little cousin. Not always for the better. Hold the memories of Ravus your brother close and mourn his death. Ravus no-name is nothing to us." Loqi held his voice steady but this close she could feel his emotions. He was just as hurt as she was and now he would never be able to tell Ravus they were family. She rested against him not willing to move.
"It might not be connected but I found something you will want to see." He shifted enough to reach his tablet and played the video. She watched as Noctis and Lord Clarus along with several people she didn't recognize fought their way through a parking lot. She had to cover a gasp as she heard Noctis yell about burning down the Draconian's shrines.
"Think he was serious?" Loqi asked. She snorted.
"Probably. He loves his father very much."
"Enough to pick a fight with a god apparently. You should know that the Wall changed color but by all reports King Regis is still alive." He informed her.
"Then Noctis is holding it." She said in surprise. He nodded grimly.
"The Emperor is already planing a push. I ship out tomorrow." She looked up at him in surprise.
"Your people aren't recovered from the offensive near Vesperpool yet." Loqi was silent for a moment.
"He's getting worse, Lulu. I never thought I'd miss Chancellor Fashion Disaster but the weirdo was the only one able to reign Aldercapt in. You should be prepared to run at moments notice."
"That bad? Alright I'll keep a go bag ready." They both fell silent, taking comfort in each others presence.
She had almost drifted off when Gentinia gasped and sat strait up. Luna and Loqi scrambled to her side. She was weeping. When they go close enough She grabbed Luna's hand in an almost bruising grip, eyes desperate.
"Lady of the Night Sword, Oracle of Eos . I beg you to grant me Sanctuary. I am not willingly Shiva's Avatar. None of us are willing to serve the Fallen Ones." Gentinia had slid of the couch and knelt before her.
"Gentinia please get up. Sanctuary is granted, but please explain what you mean?" As she spoke her power spiked and a strange ripple spread across the three Messengers.
"The Draconian has Fallen to the Dark side of His nature and the Killing Frost rises."
Weskham Armaugh, Proprietor of Maagho
Wesk was having a good day. Business was booming and his restaurant as turning a tidy profit. It was beautiful day and he had fresh ingredients to experiment with. He was testing the rice and humming a song he had heard from a street performer when Katie, his head server, came running into the kitchen.
"Boss! You're friends with the Lucian King, right? There's something going down in Insomnia and it's being livestreamed on all the news stations!" She babbled excitedly. Wesk was concerned and quickly removed the pot from the stove. Following her out to the bar where the T.V. on the wall was broadcasting a clip on a loop, he had to double take. Damn but Reggie's kid looked just like him.
He watched as Noctis and his group fought through a mass of men. Some of them in Crownsguard uniforms. Clarus was there with someone who had to be his oldest. And that was Cid to the left, was that other blonde Cindy? She had grown. He didn't know the Glaive.
"You must be put on the Throne, Your Highness. The Draconian commands it! Your father is in the way!" A man in a sky blue robe with a dragon stitched in silver yelled madly, eyes wild. he had to hand it to the cameraman. They were talented, nuts, but talented.
"If the Draconian is commanding you to kill my father to put me on the throne then I will burn down every one of his shrines I can find." Noctis roared and a wave of magic blasted from him tossing his enemies away but leaving his allies untouched. The video shifted then to a teenage girl in a school uniform. Her hair was pink with blue tips in an undercut. She had bright blue eyes that rang a bell and when she spoke she had fangs.
"We stopped the recording here because we don't want to lead attackers to where ever Prince Noctis is going. This is Cash and Littles of Insomnia Revealed. We will be back in a few to bring you live updates on the current situation."
The video cut out and the normal newscasters appeared to start their analysis of the video. Wesk wasn't paying attention. He was already moving towards the rooms at the top of the building. He need to get to Insomnia. Ten minuets latter he was handing over the keys to a panicky Katie.
"You will do fine. If I wont be back in a month and you aren't comfortable keeping the place open any longer you can close up. I will give you all the references you need to find somewhere to go."
He didn't listen to any of her objections already making his way to the ferry. the news said that Regis was alive but all alive meant was not dead. What the hell happened to his king?
King Regis Lucis Caelum
Cid had come back. He was in Insomnia after saying he would never return. And he was yelling at him for being a reckless dumb ass. Regis wasn't doing anything but grinning at him because it was making Noctis laugh from where he had sat beside him in another chair, resting his head on Regis's shoulder. Noctis had clung to him heedless of the people in the room and he had clung back. He had been so worried. Then Noctis had noticed his leg and flailed. Noctis had hugged him even tighter and Regis just clung back.
The doctor was nervous but competent, and checked everyone over, but there was nothing to be done as potions had handled most of it. The worst damage was to Argentums hand where he held the gun. To many warps in to little time without a properly treated channel had left a star burst shaped burn across his palm and up his arm. Silence had descended after the doctor had scurried out. Then Cid broke the tension by starting his rant.
"Stop staring at me like that you dork." Cid sighed as he finally wound down. Regis ginned wider.
"It's good to see you too, Cid. Is this Cindy?" Cid finally grinned back.
"Yeah this is my granddaughter Cindy. Cindy this is Reggie, don't believe anything he says about me."
"Rude. I would never tell her anything bad about you, Cid. She lives with you she doesn't need me to tell her you bad habits." Noctis was shaking in silent laughter and Cindy was giggling. The rest of the room wasn't much better, although Glaive Ostium looked like his brain was breaking. After they had all finished laughing, Regis sighed.
"How is Gladio, son." Noctis sighed and sat up. "I don't know dad. He still hadn't woken up by the time the doctors kicked us out. Clarus stayed with him, I made him, and I don't think the doctors were brave enough to tell him to go."
"Well Hell." Regis sighed again running his hand through his hair.
"I'll have to visit before we leave. Miss Bloodraven can you tell me what's going on now?"
Cascade looked up and nodded.
"Of course, Your Majesty. The fighting has stopped completely. The last attempt on Prince Noctis seems to have been the final action. Lord Scientia is currently coordinating with relief services and has rescue operations well in hand. Ignis has reacquired Pellham and is negotiating with the Rouge Court on His Highness's behalf to keep things calm for the next while. Captain Drautos has the Citadel mostly cleared but requests that you not come back until he is certain everything is taken care of. The loyalist guards have established themselves at the Wall and Niflheim seems to have retreated. We have reestablished contact with our people outside the wall and everything seems to be holding steady. The Lord Marshal is acting as your Voice and tracking down traitors. And Noctis's threat to burn down all of the Draconian's temples went viral." She finished, fighting a smile.
"Oops." Noctis muttered. Regis choked on a laugh. "Noctis!"
"They said the Draconian wanted you dead! If that's true then I really will burn down his temples! How did that even get recorded?" Noctis asked her. He was a bit surprised about Miss Argentum being Noctis's spymaster but he couldn't deny her effectiveness. She smirked at Noctis.
"A vloger caught it on tape. An investigative reporting vlog." With that she turned her laptop to face the rest of the room. On screen was a moogletube channel. 'Insomnia Reveled'. The girl on screen was giving an overview of the last few hours. It was very informative, as she seemed to know more about the situation on the ground than they did. Noctis snorted a laugh.
"That's Cash and Littles. They're completely crazy. They go to my old school. Ignis made me promise to stay away from them because of there rap sheets. The get arrested a lot. But none of the charges ever stick because they were investigating corruption and get let off when they turn in evidence. She's a pacifist and I've never heard him speak."
"Well they certainly seem competent. And have enough ethics not to put people in danger." He added when the video looped around to show Noctis's threat. "Think they would like an interview?" Noctis looked at him startled and then had a thoughtful look on his face.
"Probably. They will stick to a list of questions if you do give them an interview, but they won't let you get away with evading."
"That's already better than the usual reporters." Regis laughed. Noctis nodded then asked with a smirk.
"Hey Dad, what was with the voice proclaiming two princesses had been confirmed? Something you want to confess?
Regis flushed. "They can't be mine son, your mother is the only woman I've ever slept with." He said bluntly.
Noctis had a hilarious look on his face before frowning.
"Didn't Cor arrest your personal doctor?" Regis felt the blood drain from his face.
That was when Miss Argentum answered her phone and yelped. Everyone in the room turned to her.
"Si, what do you mean your at Amiticia Manor? Your phone still places you with your class." They watched as emotions flashed quickly over her face before settling on an icy calm that was rather eerie. "Are the two of you alright? Alright, stay there okay? I'll find out where you should do. Be safe." They watched her hang up and put her face in her hands. Argentum put his hand on her shoulder worriedly. She took a deep breath and sat up.
"Insomnia First along with one of the traitor guard kidnapped Silence and Iris in the chaos. They escaped and made it to Amiticia Manor." She said bluntly.
"What?!" Clarus gasped from the doorway.
Titus Drautos, Captain of the Kingsglaive
Altius was a Lucis Caelum. Titus stared down at the Glaive in the hospital bed, then glanced at the cadet in the bed across from her. Amur Kelly, Crownsguard sabotage specialist with a knack for the rarest of magic. Mother Persian Kelly, Crownsguard infiltration specialist was a POW and came back pregnant from one of Besithia's horror houses. Also a Lucis Caelum. Fuck Niflheim had Lucis Caelum DNA.
"Sir, do you know if Cure works on concussions? I made sure their skulls where intact but.." Cadet Green asked from beside Kelly as he worked on her broken arm. I had gotten caught in one of the faults of the Crystal when she was thrown. It hadn't stopped her from throwing illusions at the enemies. She was going to be terrifying in a few years.
"No, Green, concussions are something that have to heal on their own. It gets messy if you mess with the brain." He replied absently still staring a Altius. She had Mors's cheekbones. She wore them better than he ever had.
"Captain, is Crowe really a princess? I mean she'd be a bastard and Nobles get picky about things like that." Khara asked from the foot of her bed. Titus chuckled.
"Only the ones that don't have a divinely granted artifact that proves their claim. She's legitimate as of the proclamation."
"So, His Majesty is her father?" Khara's face has a picture.
"Her brother, Mors is her father." Titus said finally turning away from the bed. Khara blinked at his prompt response so he elaborated. "King Mors and Queen Thyme sometimes snuck out of the Citadel to wander the city. The last time was the day before he died. He left a note saying he wanted one last good day. So he dosed himself on some heavy duty painkillers and took off. The were both dead by the next day. His Majesty is also kind of a prude so there's that."
"I..did you just imply that the former King and Queen had threesomes?" Green said incredulously.
"What are they teaching you in school these days? It's public knowledge." He said mildly.
"What the fuck, Boss?" Crowe muttered from the bed making them all jump. "The fuck are you talking about this over my hospital bed?"
They were blocked from answering by a doctor bulldozing their way through them to check her over. Titus stared down at the doctor in disbelief.
"Doctor Nu? Aren't you retired?" He asked.
The doctor turned to him with a look that made him take an instinctive step back. Which made the Glaives in the room look at her worriedly. They should, the battleaxe was still the scariest person he'd ever met.
"I obviously retired too soon, brat. Shoo, I'll look after your minions and you need to finish clearing the Citadel."
Titus found himself and the uninjured Glaives, and the loyal Guards they had picked up along the way, kicked out of the Glaive medwing in short order. He heard her bribing the injured for good behavior with stories of the dumb shit he did as a rookie. He bravely refrained from finding a wall to bang his head against.
"Umm..." He didn't bother to look at whoever said it.
"That was Doctor Rebecca Nu, former Royal Physician. She delivered King Mors and King Regis. She also ran the Crownsguard Medical Wing when I was still in the Guard before Queen Aulea decided to re-found the Glaive."
"So she really does have all the blackmail on him." Cor said dryly walking up to them. He had a cadet following him who looked a bit wild around the eyes. They both had arm fulls of files and laptops. No need to chance them evidence getting lost in the Armiger if the Magic suppressor started up again.
"You where right there with me for most of it, Leonis." He replied. Cor made a face at him.
"Who are the new Princesses? It wasn't some of the attackers was it?" Cor asked as they walked back to the conference room Titus had set up as a command center. Some asshole had set his office on fire. The cadet following Cor set the stacks of files on the table and started setting up the computers so they could search them. Harper set out refreshments while the others helped Desmond.
"No, thankfully. But we do have a problem. Crowe Altius and Amur Kelly." Titus watched Cor to see if he got it. By the swearing he did.
"You mean Persian's girl. Niflheim has Lucis Caelum DNA. Fuck." Cor rubbed his face.
"Or they have a Lucis Caelum." Titus replied. He hope not, he knew all to well what kind of hell Niflheim put it's experiments through. If then Princess Aulea hadn't rescued him....
"Shit." Cor visibly set it aside. "I dealt with several groups belonging to an organization called the Church of Bahamut. They are to be listed as a terrorist organization. Lichen was a member. They want Noctis on the Throne and to kill Regis to do it and say that The Draconian himself commanded it through their leader. The only thing they called her is The Lindworm. They wear sky blue and have silver dragons somewhere on them...What?"
Titus didn't know what his face looked like but it couldn't be pretty. He had been trying to avoid thinking about what the leader of the force sent to the Crystal room had said.
"There is a second group that also supposedly follows the Draconian. Called themselves the Adherents of the Divine Blade. They want the Wall to fall and the Royal Family dead so that every man woman and child will go to war with 'the godless heathens of Niflheim. They wear gray scale pattern armor. They also claimed to be responsible for Queen Aulea's death."
Cor's face was blank but that meant nothing. Cor could look like he was on a pleasant stroll even in the middle of an avalanche. He watched him take a deep breath. Cor had been almost as close to Aulea as Titus was. He just wished he could kill the bastard that had bragged about killing his Queen. But Noctis deserved to confront the man who took his mother, and Regis wasn't as bad a Titus pretended, it was basically an in joke at this point. He deserve the closure too.
"This is going to break his heart. He already suspected something was off, since I arrested his personal physician, but..." Cor said softly, rage a dark current beneath his force calm.
Titus nodded and moved on. "The idiots setting the place on fire while inside of it are calling themselves the Flames Of The Infernian. I haven't gotten anything coherent out of them. The last group we identified was the treasonous Crownsguard. Their motivation seems to be money. I did not notice a leader among them and they were distributed through all three other groups. Who all liked to fight each other as much as go after the staff and loyalists."
Cor frowned deep in thought. "Which group was responsible fort he magic suppressor? And where is it?" Now it as Titus's turn to frown.
"Sirs?" They turned to Kemp who was holding her phone up. "Bloodraven sent some of Prince Noctis's Guards to hold it. He has an engineer who wants to take it apart to see if we can get it to work on magitek. It's in a warehouse on the north side of the Citadel. There's been no mention of which group placed it."
"Thank you Kemp. Ask her if His Majesty wants it anywhere in particular and inform her that it's safe for Him and Prince Noctis to return."
He stared down into the glass of whiskey. He had no family, no name and his home was forever closed to him. To set foot on Tenebrae's soil was to sign his own death warrant. Not even the resistance would acknowledge him and would probably actively hunt him. He wasn't sure he cared. Ravus was sitting in a dive somewhere in the slums of Gralea trying to drown his sorrows. His dislike of alcohol was not helping.
He just wanted to save His sis- Lunafreya. King Regis believed in the prophecy and it was his fault his mother was dead. If he hadn't brought that brat Noctis to their home his mother would still be alive. He claimed to be his mothers friend, but ran like a coward and left her children to the Empire. Why couldn't Lunafreya see that?
And now he finds out she's better trained than she let on. She could call the full might of the Nox Fleuret bloodline and force the truth from another of the same blood. She had all that power and she refuses to do anything with it, not even save herself from that farce of a prophecy. So what if he used Low War? Those stories about the Nox Fleuret walking the line between the sacred and the profane were just that. Stories. She could have gotten them away from the Empire at any time but instead she strips him of his blood-right and plays good little prisoner.
"Those look like some deep thoughts, son." Ravus startled and turned to the man who sat next to him at the bar. He was an average looking man of Niflheim with graying blond hair and wise looking blue eyes. He was dressed as a Priest of Ifrit in a red robe with a flame patterned sash.
"I am not your son. I am no ones son." Ravus said flatly, not wanting to talk. The man smiled at him sadly.
"As fire is the spark of life, we are all sons and daughters of the Infernian. No matter our actions. The Sacred Flame is the hearth fire and wildfire both. You have a place in the Hearth, Ravus."
"The Oracle herself striped me of my name, Priest. You really think I would be welcome?" He said scornfully.
"Yes." Ravus looked at him startled at the swift answer.
"The Pyerburner is the light that calls lost souls home, Ravus. He does not care about your actions, ALL are welcome in the Hearthhome. By the first command laid to his Priesthood no being may be turned away from his Hearth and all shall find succor therein."
"....It doesn't matter. I have nothing left. My former sister repudiated me and I am still bound to the Empire."
"She betrayed you." Ravus sucked in a harsh breath. He didn't think anyone else would see it like that. Lunafreya was the beloved Oracle after all.
"Your sister hurt you, Ravus. And for what? Some antiquated honor system laid down by a long fallen kingdom? It is okay to be angry at her even though you love her. I'm not asking you for anything, Ravus, just offering you a place to stay tonight so you do not have to face those that know you just yet."
He seemed sincere. It was odd, he had thought every thing he had ever known was going to be against him. But hear was a holy man from the most peaceful sect of all the religions offering him a place to rest. The Hearthhome was the pennant chapter of the Fire Temple, dedicated to keeping the Father of Humanities memory alive as something more than a traitor.
"Phoenix. Father Phoenix of Gralea's Temple of the Eternal Flame.
He had killed at least fifteen people today. Probably a lot more but everything was too blurry to remember exact details. he had been kidnapped from his school during an evacuation when the city had gone crazy. He only knew it was a kidnapping when they made him leave his phone. His sister was happier when she could track him. He had tied to bolt but one of them had kicked him in the face before he could get very far.
They had taken his new friend Iris Amiticia too which is why they escaped. Her hair sticks had knives in them so they could cut the ropes. He still remembers the squish the eye of the first man he had killed as he shoved the knife into his eye. Sometimes he thought he could still taste the blood that had gotten into his mouth.
"Do the clothes fit alright? I had to dig them out of the back of my closet to find some that would fit." Irises voice came through the door of the bathroom he was getting dressed in.
"They're bit big but it's fine. " He called back. "Are we leaving to go to the Citadel soon?"
"Yeah, your sister called back. It's safe there now that Captain Drautos and his men cleared it. Your sister will be there too."
He yanked the door open searching her face. He really wanted his sister. Someone wanted her dead and he wouldn't be happy until he saw her.
"Really?" Iris nodded with a small smile that didn't reach her eyes. She was having problems with her actions today too. But. Well. Teeth.
"They're moving Gladio there now that he's out of surgery. And they want Cascade close because she is the one maintaining the coms for now. Come on, Jared has the car ready." Silence followed her as she led him to the garage.
It was a quiet ride, thankfully. Of course it didn't stop them from seeing the damage done to the City. They had to take a circular rout to get to the Citadel because one of the buildings that got bombed was laying across three streets and had taken down at least two of the surrounding buildings with it. Emergency services and volunteers were pulling people out of the rubble, not all of them alive. You could still see blood on the street in some places. It was terrible and Silence knew there were at least four other places around the city that got bombed too. That wasn't even counting the fires that had been set. He had to turn away from the window eventually, unable to take the sight anymore.
It took them almost an hour to get to the Citadel and another half hour to get through security. They were led down to the Kingsglaive area, where the King and Prince had a command set up, since it was the most defensible area. He threw him self at his sister when he saw her sitting at a table surrounded by computers. She hugged him back just as tight and he didn't care that he was crying in front of people. He started to say some thing when he heard and loud shout.
Crowe Altius, Kingsglaive, Princess of the Blood Royal
She had a killer headache. The last thing she remembered before waking up to a weird ass topic was being flung back by an explosion. Then she wakes up to the Captain standing over her bed discussing the former Kings sex life. Seeing a tiny old woman toss him and everyone not injured out was only funny until she turned her attention to Crowe. Doctor Nu was a no nonsense woman who controlled the hospital room with a single look. Although she did try bribery first to get the more stubborn of them to stay still. Crowe wasn't going anywhere, just moving made her nauseous.
"...so then the Queen decided if he was going to appoint himself to be her guard dog and attack hound both she started calling him her Hound. The Guard picked up on it and it eventually spread to the rest of the staff. So while the Queen was alive he was known as the Queen's Hound. The only reason he isn't still called that is because he took over the Glaive after the Queen had to retire from the field to bare Prince Noctis. Apparently no one was brave enough to call him that to his face if Her Majesty wasn't around to reign him in."
She was learning all sorts of things today, why didn't they have any idea that Queen Aulea restarted the Glaive? Crowe was distracted from her thoughts as the Doctor sorted everybody out into different rooms. She was sharing with that cadet they had been following. Kelly, she thought. As they shifted rooms the cadet stirred and woke up.
Doctor Nu checked her over swiftly and drew some blood from both of them.
"What's that for?" Kelly asked, sipping some water from the nightstand. Nu raised an eyebrow at them both.
"Do either of you remember the voice shouting about princesses?" Kelly shook her head.
"I know there was a voice but I couldn't understand it." Crowe nodded her agreement.
Nu sighed. "The Crystal has a function that lets it recognize Royal Blood and proclaim it everywhere in Lucian territory. All the Royal in question has to do is touch it with skin and it will acknowledge them. It's been used to prove succession since before paternity testing was invented. Any Royal it recognizes is immediately declared legitimate and granted the title. It recognized both of you." She stated bluntly.
They stared at her for a moment before they both shouted "WHAT?!"
Crowe knew she wasn't the blood daughter of the man she had called dad before the Empire took her parents. But there was no way she was a Lucis Caelum.
"That's not possible." Crowe said shortly. Then Kelly started swearing lowly. After she finished swearing she glanced up at both of them. Her honey gold eyes gleamed darkly.
"My mother was a POW and Besithia experimented on her. She was three months pregnant with me when she escaped. Niflheim either has Lucis Caelum blood or has my father.”
"Yes they do. Which is why we need your blood, to see if it matches any known Royals." King Regis said from the door. He quirked his lips as he leaned on a crutch. He was missing his right leg. "Welcome to the family however it is you are related."
"I can't be a Lucis Caelum." Crowe said blankly. King Regis settled in a chair beside her bed as Nu bustled out. Argentum had entered the room after His Majesty and leaned against the Wall with a wave to Kelly.
"Well you would be dead if you weren't, the Crystal disintegrates non Lucis Caelums that touch it.” His majesty said calmly, like he discussed people disintegrating every day.
Crowe just blinked at him still in shock. Then she wondered if he was her brother or her father. How old was he again?
"What's going to happen then, Your majesty?" Kelly asked sitting cross legged on the bed, a shiny new scar across her right cheek. It had been too old to heal by the time they caught up with her. She had two across her chest to match.
"You may call me Regis in privet, both of you. Well first we are going to see how you are related. Normally I would say Glaive Altius-"
She broke in to tell him to call her Crowe, Amur telling them the same.
"Thank you" He smiled and continued. "I would say that Crowe at least is my fathers, but we recently arrested my personal physician for treason, so that's in doubt as well. And next we will be sending strike teams to find any information Niflheim has on Lucis Caelum genetics. And rescue any possible prisoners they might have."
That sounded right Crowe thought. "Am I still a Glaive? Because I'm usually the big gun on missions like that."
Regis smiled knowingly. "No one is going to object to a Lucis Caelum wanting to go to the battlefront, but I thought you might like to learn the bloodline specific battle magic first."
Crowe sat up excitedly ignoring her spinning head.
"So we get to learn the spiny blade trick you demonstrated a couple years ago?"
The day after the brief civil war in Insomnia all across Eos Hunters were startled to find Daemons walking in the daylight. The night before had been eerily quiet like the hush before an avalanche as all the daemons that would usually boil out of hiding failed to appear. The morning after had them all baffled and worried. Several animals that looked like demons but acted like animals were roaming around and when they killed them they died like animals. Then reports started spreading that everyone stricken with the Scourge was cured. From Insomnia to Gralea the Starscourge was gone.
In Niflheim civil war erupted as the MTs that the Imperial Government used to control the populous all simultaneously collapsed. Gralea burned. In Succarpe Loqi absconded with Luna as soon as fighting broke out. It was a long ride to Tenebrae since all the magiteck had stopped working when the Scourge disappeared. Tenebrae held out with minimal fighting until Luna got there. While wary of Loqi they took Luna at her word that he was on their side. Gentinia stuck close still reeling from whatever happened. She had slipped into incoherence after what she said.
The Tenebraen government, formerly the resistance, was quick to capture the few humans the Empire had left to control the MTs. They would let Lady Lunafreya deal with them.
In the various Lucian regions similar actions were taken with much more violence. Soon there was fighting all across Lucis.
In Accordo they swiftly declared their independence and captured or killed any imperial soldiers. The also closed their borders as best they could. All the while the sea churned.
In Lestallum there was panic as Titan sank into the earth leaving the Meteor resting on the ground.
The Rock of Ravatogh erupted filling the sky with ash for miles.
The skies over Galahd boiled with a type of storm not seen since the Age of Solheim.
Cindy Aurum, Royal Engineer
She was conflicted. On one hand she had a job that sounded really exciting, working for the (really cute) Prince to figure out how the Wall worked. On the other hand she literally had to fight and kill her way to safety after the city went to hell. She ignored the Guards that had been sent with her as she examined the machine in front of her.
"Ugly thing iddn't it?" Pawpaw muttered as he took his cap of to run his hand through his hair. She agreed.
"Yeah it is. I'm surprised it works, that transistor there is held on with aluminum foil. How'd y'all turn it off?" She said turning to the cadet who had followed Bloodraven's directions to find it. Cascade was such a dork, naming an official position after a book. She wondered if Prince Noctis would agree to name her Court Tinker instead of Royal Engineer.
"It plugs in to a industrial standard outlet ma'am, it came unplugged in the fighting so we didn't have to mess with it." He replied.
"Excellent, that means it's intact. Come on Pawpaw yer still taller than me." They set to work dissembling the contraption, recording every bolt and screw. At least the precision required meant she didn't have to think about her actions today. She didn't regret defending herself or other people but she wished it hadn't been necessary.
"Are you doing alright, Cindy?" Her Pawpaw asked softly as they unscrewed a pipe. She sighed.
"I'll be fine. I'm glad you talked me in to fighting lessons though, so thanks." He had had to convince her to learn she just wasn't interested in fighting. She still didn't like it but she was glad she knew.
"I'm proud of how well you did and with what you're doing, even if I don't like you being in danger." He told her seriously. She grinned at him holding a small engine in her hands.
Cindy quickly settled into a routine in her new life. She took apart the machine and spent most of the next few weeks devouring everything on magical theory the Royal Library still had. She was often joined by Princess Amur who quickly asked her not to call her Princess.
"I know I'll have to get used to it eventually but for now i just don't want to think about it. I don't know how I'll tell my mom when she's found." She said picking at her newly claw like nails. She had started shifting at sunrise the day after her recognizance. The leading theory was she had been in the asymptomatic stages of scourge infection since everyone who had had the scourge when it had vanished was developing cat like traits. He ears were already shifting and she had confessed that she was growing a tail.
"Is she still missing then?" Cindy asked gently. Amur nodded looking miserable. He mother had been missing since the bombing. They were still pulling living people out of the ruble so there was hope.
"And I'm worried about my father. I hadn't really wondered before since I figured he was an Imperial but there was no match to a known Royal. But I also wonder if he's still alive. You would think Niflheim would have started fielding them if there were any more of us. It's not like they have anything against child soldiers after all."
"Maybe they only had the one sample?" She offered, unsure of what else to say.
"I almost hope so even if it means he's dead. Mom told me what it was like in the labs before I signed up." Amur said quietly before straitening up. "So have you found anything about a healing gift? I hope they didn't get a hold of Oracle blood that long ago. I don't need to be a Princess twice over." She had discovered her healing gift when she had highfived Argentum when they had all been debriefed an his other hand had healed over leaving a faded scar that looked months old. A little experimenting had proved she could control it at will but the bigger the wound the more it took out of her. On the bright side Captain Drautos's magitek armor didn't hurt him to use any more.
"No I haven't. A lot of this doesn't make sense and contradicts it self. His Majesty mentioned that the books aren't the same as when he was learning and His Highness hasn't gotten to this yet." Cindy replied, frustrated.
"What about harmonics or music? Both my illusions and healing are like music to my senses."
"How so?" She asked curiously. Amur considered for a moment.
"With my illusions it's like editing a song mash up. You pick different pieces of the songs that flow together but not in the original form. By the end it's an entirely different song and the theme is changed completely. Applied to my illusions that means I get a different shape and a personality overlay to help the ruse going.
With healing it's more like directing a choir and making sure every one keeps in the right pacing Magically it's coaxing the body into healing its self in a way that's safe for it to do so."
Cindy nodded thoughtfully. "Music isn't really my thing but I think I can apply that to how it felt when His Highness gave me magic. Like the difference between overhauling an engine and just a tune up. It felt like the desert right before sunset, when everything was baked in the heat of the day but rapidly cooling off."
Amur hummed. "Mine felt like mist rolling in off of the sea, and now with my own magic it's like the light hit the fog just right to send rainbows scattering through it. Prompto said his felt like soda fizz and lightning and Crowe said hers felt like the eye of a hurricane."
"Cas said hers was like deep lake water where everything is silent and the world feels like it's waiting. Ignis said his felt like fire coiling through him. Nyx mentioned storms rushing in to crash against the mountains and Prince Noctis said it felt like heat and light and pressure." Cindy added.
"I wonder how everyone else's feels and if it means anything." Amur murmured
Cor Leonis, Marshal of the Crownsguard
"Maybe we can just make paternity tests standard." Cadet Jess said faintly. Cor had snagged the passing cadet to help him finish organizing the blood tests Regis had ordered for everyone Crown affiliated. He was cleared for Noctis's task force and could keep his mouth shut which is all Cor needed at the moment.
"What did you find, cadet? Another council member step out on his wife?" They had found six nobleman's bastards so far. At least three of them were getting what was left of their family estates, being the last ones left and another was the only loyalist in his new found family so will probably be getting the step up as well.
"Err." Cor looked up at that. Jess was pretty calm usually so it had to be something big.
"Spit it out Jess."
"Glaive Ostium is Lord Amiticia's half brother." The cadet blurted out. Cor stared. Ceder Amiticia had been declared dead ten years before King Mors had died. There should have been no way he survived that explosion but Ostium was too young to have been born before it. Cor stood up and took the file.
"I'll send you some help while I got talk to Clarus. Just compile a list for now and if you find anything else this big call the Raven."
"Yes sir." Floated after him as he stalked off. He snagged Ackers on his way and sent him to the cadet. He then made his at to Regis's office where he and Clarus were overseeing the repairs to the city. He was so grateful that Regis had lived. He would have served Noctis faithfully but his heart would go to the grave with his love. Shaking his head free of the flowery thoughts Regis always inspired he knocked swiftly and entered at Regis's call.
Princess Crowe was there along with her usual team. Including Ostium. Damn. Cor nodded at them and dragged Clarus to the side of the room. He looked like shit. But then Gladio still hadn't woken up and Iris was having nightmares.
"You look like you have bad news." Clarus said wearily. Cor tilted his hand back and forth.
"Strange news. You know I took the Guard and Glaive paternity tests while Titus took the rest of the Citadel staff?"
Clarus put his head in his hands. "Please tell me you didn't find an Aldercapt or something."
"Do we even have his blood on file? No. I did find an Amiticia, though." Clarus's head snapped up.
"Well they can't be mine." He said, referring to the fact that he bore both of his himself. Cor nodded still not wanting to tell him.
"They're your half sibling. Your father didn't die in that explosion." He said like ripping off a band aid. Clarus had to rapidly sit down, drawing the attention of Regis and the group he was entertaining with the story of how Aulea made allies with Carmine.
"Cor?" Regis asked. He handed him the file knowing Clarus wouldn't mind. Regis flipped through it eyebrows raised. "Glaive Ostium this is going to be a strange question, but what can you tell me about your father?" All the Glaives looked at each other then at Ostium who waived at them to stay.
"My mom had a one night stand. Is...Lord Amiticia my father?" He asked slowly, in disbelief.
"No. I'm apparently your brother. Despite the fact that my father supposedly died in an explosion years before you were born." Clarus said blankly. "Welcome to the family, if you want that."
There was silence in the room as everyone processed that. Then Ulric snorted and covered a laugh. Ostium turned to glare and Ulric waved his hands and explained.
"Your name fits the pattern! Liberty bells are an orchid that only grow in Galahd. Libertus Orchidaceae!" He laughed. Ostium started giving him a noogie as he tried to scramble away, setting the rest of them off, and even drawing a weak chuckle form Clarus. After they had all calmed down Clarus sighed.
"I'm sorry if I didn't seem very welcoming. It was just a shock. And we have no way of knowing if he left voluntarily or just had amnesia or something. Only one of which would be treason. I would like to get to know you, if you'd like and my kids would be glad to know you."
"I think I'd like that." Ostium said after a moment.
"Hey this solves the Shield problem you mentioned! Lib tries to boss me around and frets over my health as is." Crowe said breaking the tension.
Crown Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum
He rubbed his chest before twitching as he caught sight of the Ring he now wore. He could feel the drain from the Wall like a hook between his lungs. How did his dad get used to it, he kept tripping over the feel at the most random times. At the moment it was distracting him from the view. Which was probably a good thing. The scenery at the top of the Crystal Tower, where the Crystal had resided for centuries before Grandfather had moved it, was amazing. Except Cindy was bent over on one of the old connectors inspecting it, which he should definitely not be staring at.
He looked back up when Cindy clambered back down and closed it up.
"That's the third I found with deliberate sabotage, Your Highness. This is probably the slowest murder attempt ever. But if The Gullible was connected to it like you described it then it would have killed him on the spot when the draw increased by nearly four hundred percent in seconds. What's with that name anyway?" Cindy said as she wiped her hands on a rag she pulled out of the pocket of her body suit.
"He was talked into stabbing his brother in the back to take the throne by some unscrupulous advisers who wanted to be the power behind the throne." Ignis replied from his position at the edge of the platform where he was keeping watch. Ignis was his guard today. He had been his main guard since the seven hour civil war as it was starting to be called. Gladio still hadn't woken up and Prompto was still in training.
It was odd not having Gladio walking in his shadow. He kept turning to tell him something an he wasn't there. The bond between them, there since Gladio had taken his Shield Oaths was strangely numb, like when your leg falls asleep.
"Huh, serves him right to be remembered like that then. So, I think I can fix them but it's gonna take me awhile to figure out the proper sizing and someones gonna need to find out what an Adamantoise is since that's where the blueprints said this weird metal was from." She said waving a piece of it around.
"Dad said it's a mountain sized turtle that has a shell made out of that stuff which is called Adamantite." Noctis replied. "He said he fought it on his road trip. You can call me Noctis, you know." He added.
Cindy stared at him for a moment. "I thought Pawpaw made that story up. Why is there a turtle the size of a mountain? And how are we going to get enough of it's shell to fix this whole thing? I still need to check all of them, and probably the bits that lead to the actual Wall to. Noctis." She finished with a grin.
"You might need to do that in stages Cindy. The original Wall covered all of Lucis." He replied. She nodded.
"That explains why the scaling was so weird."
"I have a Glaive team that does stuff like that. Or I will as soon as they graduate. Prompto's team is going to be looking for the Royal tombs for me and supplies to fix the Wall fall under that since we need to find out if the Wise's tomb is undisturbed." He continued. "I don't know if you want to be read in on all of it, but I can give you access to that part at least."
"Ya might as well read me in, it'd save time if ya need me to look at something yer Glaives find in the tombs." She said sensibly. "Alright-" Before he could continue his phone went of with his emergency ring tone. He grabbed it quickly, it was Iris.
"Iris what's wrong?"
"Cascade's in labor." He paled. He hurried to tell her they would be right there. The three of them booked it to the medical wing, where Cascade had been set up with a bank of computers for her job. Khara, who had been read in to the Knights of the Round under the name Bran, was with her since he was training to take over for her.
Prompto was already there, holding Cascades hand, while every one moved frantically around them. They were the only two who were calm. Noctis took a deep breath, determined not to add to the chaos. Doctor Nu came in behind Doctor Low, there only because he was Cascade's normal doctor and slightly unhappy about it, and quelled the chaos with a few barked words.
"What did you mean when you said I had too take the weir wood throne earlier than you thought? Is this a permanent position?” Khara asked after most of the people had been shooed out.
Cascade looked at him amused. "I have stage five Naga's Creep, Pelna. I've already lost my sense of taste and smell along with most of my sense of touch. I'm not going to survive the birth, so you get to be Bloodraven a couple weeks early."
"Oh." He said weakly. "I thought it was only for your maternity leave." She shook her head.
"I knew I would die bringing them into the world from the day I decided to keep them."
Any more discussion was stopped by the doctors deciding it was time to move her to the maternity room. It was usually used by the Royal family, and occasionally tourists who went into labor on tours of the Citadel.
Apparently Promptos team hadn't known about the Creep either so they were confused about weather to be sad or happy now. It was nice to see that Prom's team liked him though, he had been worried Prom would stay closed off like he had been after Johann had lured him to what was meant to be his death.
Several of the other cadets from the Knights of the Round, the name he and his Dad had settled on for the task force, had stopped by as well. His Aunt Crowe, still weird, showed up with her team. Including Libertus the surprise Amiticia and now her Shield.
Prompto was helping Cascade walk around the room for some reason, but the doctors weren't stopping him so it was probably okay. It got a little bittersweet when she came out to say her goodbyes. She made friends easily.
It seemed all too soon that she had to get back on the bed and the rest of them had to wait in the hall but it had really been hours. It wasn't like the movies, there where no screams or threats. Then again Cascade couldn't feel anything below the neck. The doctor had her wearing a portable life alert thing for weeks now since she wouldn't be able to feel when she went into labor.
Ignis was holding a crying Silence's hand and Iris was curled up on his other side. Cindy slipped her hand into his as a baby's cry sounded. Glancing at her he saw she had tears running silently down her face. She had been pen pals with Cas for nearly a decade. He squeezed her hand back as a second baby wailed. She smiled wetly at him.
"She made me promise that her children would know that this was a triumph not a tragedy." He said blinking back his own tears.
"That's a good promise to make." Cindy whispered back. They all fell silent as a long beep sounded. It fell silent after a moment and they knew that Cascade was dead.
After about fifteen minutes Doctor Low opened the door with a sad look on his face. Prompto stepped through, tears running down his cheeks, holding two small bundles.
"Everyone, I'd like you to meet Sora, my daughter and Solis, my son."
Chapter 5: Deepening Shadows
Cashmere Velvet, Vlog Reporter
Cash hummed to her self as she made the bed. She kept stopping and smiling at the silvery ring on her hand. She and Littles had finally gotten married. After the chaos a couple weeks ago they hadn't wanted to wait. So they had went to a court house as soon as they were open again. Their friends had thrown an impromptu party when they showed up at the volunteer meet spot. It was a short party but they didn't want anything bigger, not now when people needed them.
She wandered into the kitchen where Littles, her husband!, was making a ton of homemade hot pockets. They where on the go so often that making a huge batch to pop in the toaster oven on the way out made more sense than over priced fast food. She frowned out the window as she passed staring at the dark clouds still building. She had never seen ones so dark, and they had been building for weeks.
She hopped up on the counter to kiss Littles on the cheek, careful not to sit in the food. He was so much taller than her she had to use the counter or climb him, which was fun but not for in the kitchen. He turned to kiss her back and popped a blueberry in her mouth with a sweet smile. She loved him so much.
"So did you get the email about the new camera you were waiting on?" She asked jerking her mind back to reality. She could be a besotted newlywed when they didn't have bills to pay. He nodded passing her the egg wash.
"Thursday." He rumbled.
"Huh, good timing then. We should have an interview with the Galahden Elders by then and Baba Tullius called back while you where in the shower. We can interview her about that almost burning, but her daughter wants to stay out of the spotlight."
"Yeah. Her eldest is only five and those fuckwads still tried to burn them at the stake. It makes sense to keep the kids anonymous. They thanked us for blurring their faces, by the way. And invited us to something called a barn raising. Where are they going to put a barn in the middle of Little Nibble?" She chattered as she brushed the egg wash over the pockets. He switched out a finished batch and transferred them to a cooling rack so he could use the pan again.
"Tradition?" He chuckled like mountains crumbling. She shifted, his voice always affected her. She pouted at him when she noticed his subtle smirk, he knew what he was doing.
"I hope it's just the traditional name but one of the buildings that got bombed, the hospital on Whisking, took out a few apartment building on it's way down. If they clear out all that they probably could fit a barn in there."
Before he could respond there was a rap on the door. She raised an eyebrow at him and hopped off the counter. His hands were covered in flour from the dough. Winding around the camera bags in the living room she made her way to the door, wondering who was knocking this early. She checked the peep hole and frowned when she saw the Crownsguard uniform. Either they had got reported again or the treasonous faction was after them for the article last week. leaving the chain hooked she opened it.
"Cashmere Velvet? I am Cor Leonis, may I have a moment to speak to you and a Mr. Littles?"
"Uh...do you have a warrant?" Holy shit, why was the six damned Marshal of the Crownsguard here? Wait fuck she wasn't wearing pants.
"I'm not here to arrest you, Miss Velvet. I actually have a job offer for you." He sounded amused. Asshole.
"What job?" She asked warily. The Marshal didn't give interviews. Unless he wants her informants. Which no, if she gave those up no one would ever speak to her again.
"How would you like to interview the King?" What?
She slammed the door closed and took the chain off, then yanked it open. He was still standing there looking amused.
"You're joking." She said in disbelief. "I just graduated high school and never taken a journalism course. Why would His Majesty want us to interview him?" Littles came to a stop beside her wiping his hands on a dish rag. There was a hilarious moment when the Marshal had to look up at him.
"May I come in? I need to speak to you before I can give you the offer." She backed up to let him in and bolted to find some pants while Littles cleared off their dumpster rescue couch. She yanked on the first pair of her pants she could find which is how she ended up speaking to the Immortal in neon orange leggings and one of Littles band t-shirts.
"So why us?" She said sitting on the arm of the couch. Sitting in Littles lap would be unprofessional and they didn't have much furniture. Leonis smirked.
"Because while you two weren't the only reporters out in the chaos, you are the only ones that made sure not to endanger anyone. You stopped to help people instead of just recording. Several people credit you with saving their lives. The fact that you stopped recording when Prince Noctis was discussing his movements brought you to our attention and we looked you up."
She squinted at him. "We get the offer because we have basic human decency?"
"I need to ask a few questions for your security review first, but you are at the top of the list."
She shared a glance with Littles. This is a good chance for them, the crown paid well. It might give them some breathing room when the collage bills started rolling in.
"What questions?" If he asked about her informants she would kick him out, job or no job. Leonis pulled a clipboard out of thin air. That was cooler than when it was on TV.
"Mr. Littles we can't find your real name, which is impressive. Are you willing to tell me?" Littles frowned at him but nodded.
"Lewis Rushing." He said.
"This is going to be sealed right?" She asked with a glare. Littles stepfather was probably still looking for him, the fucker.
"Yes. All security clearance paperwork is need to know." He continued when she nodded. He asked a bunch of questions that she recognized as standard press pass requirements. They both answered them easily used to the questions. While they had never interviewed anyone as highly placed as the Marshal they had investigated what they would need to do it. Then he asked the question she had been dreading.
"You have a sealed court file from when you were nine. Why?" He asked. He already knew she could tell. She took a deep breath and smiled weakly at Littles when he took her hand.
"When I was nine years old I was in the kitchen making a snack when I heard my mom scream. I ran into her room not noticing I took a knife with me. She was on the floor and a man was hitting her in the face. My memories get blurry then but when I came back the man was dead and my mother wouldn't touch me. I had stabbed him thirty six times. Since I was only nine the judge ordered me to be put in therapy and sealed the file."
Leonis nodded. "That's all I needed to know. You passed the security check so I can give you the offer now."
"Just like that? After I told you I murdered someone?" She said disbelievingly.
"Self defense of your self or your family is not a crime, Velvet. And we are aware of the non violence vow. You aren't a threat."
"I wouldn't be a threat to you if I was a serial killer, Marshal. What's the offer?" He smirked at her again.
"The King would like you to do a sit down interview to explain some of the chaos that happened. It wouldn't be live as a security precaution and you will have a list of things you can't ask about, but it would be exclusive."
She narrowed her eyes in thought, switching mental tracks. "Does he want a propaganda piece? Or a proper Exposé? Because we don't do propaganda."
"An Exposé. The only things we wont let you cover are classified things or personal information like medical records."
She shared another look with Littles. He agreed.
"Alright, Marshal. When and where?"
Cid Sophier, Mechanic
Well balls. He didn't want to give an interview. He couldn't leave Cindy to do it on her own though, talking to reporters wasn't something he had thought to teach her. He was staring out the window at the dark clouds seething overhead when he was interrupted.
"Wesk just hit town." Cor said coming to a stop beside him. Cid raised an eyebrow but wasn't really surprised.
"Gang's gettin back together. Never thought it'd happen."
"That's because you're a stubborn old cuss and neither you or Regis are good at apologies. Are you ready for your interview?"
"Yeah, I guess. Why do they want to interview me? I didn't do anything special." Cid grumbled. Cor snorted.
"His Majesty's retinue returning? In the middle of a civil war? Of course they want an interview. The two of you left so you're a mystery. I'm a known factor so they don't have questions for Cor Leonis, just for the Marshal." Cid glanced at Cor hearing something in his tone.
"Are you still mad we left?" Cor immediately shook his head.
"I'm not mad you left to live your own lives. I AM mad that neither of you bothered to train a replacement. But that's life."
Cid winced. He and Wesk had left about the same time, and he had been pissed enough that he hadn't thought about who would take over after him. They were interrupted by an aid waving them in to the room set up for the interview.
"How bad's this reporter then?" Cid asked as they settled in to wait.
"I like her. She's feisty." Cor said with a smirk. "We did pick her because she has better ethics than most of the sharks."
Cid's eyebrows were in his hair but he was distracted by the door opening.
"Hell is she even old enough to be a reporter? And what the hell have they been feeding that kid. He's huge."
Ignis Scientia, Adviser to the Prince
"Calm down, Prompto. You are just going to work yourself up." He said straitening Promptos uniform. Noctis chuckled sleepily beside them while Cindy was fiddling with a bracelet her Grandfather had given her. Prompto was in his full formal Glaive uniform, his cadet class having gotten a pass for their actions during the chaos. Noctis was dressed in his official raiment and Ignis had one of his nicest suits on. Cindy had refused a dress and was also wearing a suit.
"Reporters, Iggy. You know I don't like them." Prompto whined, keeping his eyes on the crib someone had set up for him. He was technically on paternity leave and hadn't wanted to leave them with a sitter. He had people lining up to watch them while he was being interviewed. His team particularity adored the twins. As did Ignis, his little cousins were so precious.
Ignis was glad Prompto was making trustworthy friends. Even if they were a bit nuts. But then if they were sane they probably wouldn't have signed up to be Knights.
"I don't get why we are being interviewed though. We didn't do anything special." Harper said from his place against the wall with the rest of the team.
"You mean besides be smack dab in the middle of everything going down in the Citadel?" Jess asked sarcastically.
"So they think as rookies we will let more slip?" Green said bending over the crib and making faces.
"The fuck we will." Kemp answered.
"Kemp if you don't stop swearing in front of my kids..."
"They are ready for us." Noctis murmured, nodding at the aid. They made their way to the couches set up in a circular format with the very tall cameraman adjusting the lighting as Ms. Velvet organized them to her satisfaction.
Across Eos the world tuned in to any news station they could. Everyone wanted to know what had happened in Insomnia and whether or not it had to do with the scourge disappearing. They also wanted to know about why daemons now roamed the day and acted like animals. The scourge struck had all suddenly gained cat features but bled red and still had their minds. So they tuned in. Not everyone tuning in had the best motives for wanting answers, however.
On the news a girl with pink and blue hair was introducing herself.
"Good day Eos. My name is Cashmere Velvet of the vlog 'Insomnia Revealed'. Today I will be doing something a bit different. You will notice that this is not live as it usually is. But when you get a chance to interview the King, you make concessions. I will be doing a series of interviews with several highly placed officials to bring to light some of the causes of the 'Seven Hour Civil War'. We will be starting with Marshal Leonis and the Crownsguard Cadet that was shadowing him for the day, Mallory Desmond."
The camera shifted to Cashmere sitting with Marshal Leonis and a brown haired girl in a Crownsguard uniform.
C: Hello Marshal, Guard Desmond. Thank you for being here today.
They both nod at her, The Marshal with his typical blank face and the Guard with a slightly sickly smile.
C: Marshal you were reportedly out of the office on the day everything went down, may I ask why?
ML: With Prince Noctis taking up his duties and His Majesty being busy with running the kingdom it falls to me to walk him through his duties until His Majesty considers him ready to do them alone. I was helping with those duties while His Highness inspected the Wall with the Lord Shield.
C: Can you tell me what alerted you to the sudden violence?
ML: The first explosion was on the street we were walking down. A twenty story building collapsing is rather obvious.
C: They were obvious yes. Will you describe what happened after that?
ML: The first thing we discovered was the coms being down. We used runners to coordinate emergency responses as it wasn't obvious this was a deliberate act. Then magic stopped working. The only reason I knew that it wasn't because of the King dying was that it didn't feel the same as when King Mors died.
C: How was it different?
ML: (he shifts) When King Mors died it felt like a heater inside my chest abruptly went out. When magic stopped working last month it was more like a limb falling asleep. It was still there but you couldn't do anything with it.
C: That sounds unpleasant. How did you find out about the traitor on His Majesty's guard detail? He only had two cadets keeping him safe by all reports.
ML: Bloodraven and Adviser Scientia managed to get the standard issue phones working and were able to put me in touch with Argentum. He informed me of Lichen's betrayal.
C: May I ask who Bloodraven is? Adviser Scientia is well known.
ML: No. (The look on his face has her moving on quickly)
C: Moving on. What did you do then?
ML: Requested Lichens address and that of any family members. Then I went hunting.
C: What did you find?
ML: Evidence that we need better psychological services for the Crown. When we arrived at the address, which was listed as converted warehouse apartment, we found a normal warehouse full of religious paraphernalia. All of it was dedicated to The Draconian. In the course of our search we captured the woman responsible for two of the bombs. Lichen's grandmother. Both were members of the so called Church of the Draconian.
C: I've never heard of the Church of the Draconian, Marshal. How are they affiliated with the Dragon Temple? What was their goal in bombing the city?
ML: The Dragon temple has denounced them and denied any knowledge of their actions. Their goal was the death of King Regis. (A dark look crosses his face)
C: Why would they want to kill His Majesty? (She looks scandalized)
ML: They want Prince Noctis to ascend the throne. They seem to believe that they will be able to control him somehow.
C: How odd. What did you do after capturing the bomb maker?
ML: Before we could start questioning her the Wall changed hands. Thinking that that they had captured my King, forcing him to pass the Wall to Prince Noctis, I used my Mantle as Voice of the King to force her to tell me where her leader was.
C: And did you find the leader?
ML: We did not. She fled the city as soon as the bombing started.
C: But you know who she is?
ML: No. The only name we could get from captured cultists was The Lindworm. They describe her as always covered by blue cloth with hundreds of dragons stitched in silver. None of them have seen her face.
C: That's not suspicious at all. What else did you wind out from these cultists Marshal?
ML: Nothing else I can share. Investigations are still ongoing.
C: Thank you Marshal. Guard Desmond, you shadowed the Marshal even as he worked as the Voice. Did you see him use the infamous commanding technique?
MD: (Desmond looks spooked for a moment) I did yes. He used it on the bomb maker first and one of the higher ranking cultists later.
C: What was it like from the out side?
MD: Terrifying. It felt like inevitability, like everything you ever dreaded happening was about to start at once.
C: That matches past descriptions. Was shadowing the Marshal as educational as you thought it would be?
MD: Yes definitely. While I expected a normal day of work, this situation was necessary to cover as well.
The interview continued from there and it neatly shifted it interviewing Prince Noctis and those with him that day. Lord Amiticia, Glaive Nyx Ulric, Cid Sophire, and Cindy Aurum sit in a semi-circle with Cashmere across from them. The first question was one everyone was wondering about.
C: Thank you for joining me Prince Noctis. The first thing I must ask you is where your Shield is? You have not been seen in public without him since he took his Oaths.
PN: Gladio was injured in the line of duty and was not up to being here today.
C: Give him our well wishes then. May I ask you to describe how this started for you?
PN: (He sits forward) I was inspecting the Wall for my Father and meeting with Cindy Aurum to discus hiring her as my personal engineer. We were to far out to here the first few explosion but both Lord Clarus and Cid Sophier felt their bond with my Father dampen, so we knew something was wrong. Before we could attempt to find out what an airship dropped a load of MTs on us. They didn't stop coming until I was forced to take the Wall and the power shift destroyed them."
C: How did you transfer the Wall?
PN: Do you really expect me to answer that? (a smirk crosses his face.)
C: (she smiled) I had to try. Moving on, why did you decide to take in a personal engineer?
PN: Several of my new duties require more scientific knowledge than I have. She was highly recommended and already had a high clearance because her grandfather is a member of my Fathers Retinue."
C: The recently returned Cid Sophier?
C: Miss Aurum, can you tell us what happened after that?
CA: O' course, after The Wall took out the MTs we made a run for the guardhouse. Mostly to try to get some information bout what happened to His Majesty. We knew he was alive by then but we didn't know how long that would last. We were attacked by cultists from the Church of the Draconian as we made our way through the guardhouse. After that I drove the car while every one else helped who they could on the way. We lost the car when I used it to stop a group of Insomnia First thugs from burning a family at the stake.
C: They tried to burn them at the stake? (She looks horrified)
CA: Yes. His Highness and Gladio put a stop to the fire and Sir Ulric found a place for them to ride out the chaos in the Galahden district.
The interview went on like this for a while until it came down to a few final questions.
C: I have three questions left, Your Highness.
PN: Go ahead.
C: Who are the Adherents of The Divine Blade?
PN: (he scowls) They also say they follow the Draconian. They want the Wall to fall and every man, woman and child to go to war against anyone who doesn't follow the Draconian.
C: Did you mean your threat to burn down the Draconian's shrines?
PN: Yes. Both the Church of the Draconian and the Adherents of the Divine Blade are terrorist groups. If the Dragon Temple agrees with either of them then they will also be labeled as terrorists. If the Temple continues to speak out against the scourge-changed then they can expect to be treated as a threat as well.
C: I have been asked to speak to His Majesty about that, so I will ask my final question. You started your duties as Crown Prince earlier than most thought you would. You haven't even graduated high school yet. May I ask why you did so?
PN: I found evidence of treason, Ms. Velvet. How could I be worthy of my people if I didn't step up when needed?
After siting ongoing investigations the interview took a break and started again half an hour later. In the same seating as earlier King Regis sat with two woman one with brown hair and one with red. And a blond in a Kingsglaive uniform stood beside His Majesty's chair. It was the first time the world got a look at King Regis since that day and most were shocked when they noticed the missing leg.
C: Good evening Eos, I'm back with the final interview today. Joining me now is His Royal Majesty, King Regis Lucis Caelum and the newly announced Princesses, Her Highness Crowe Altius and Her Highness, Amur Kelly along with Kingsglaive Prompto Argentum. Thank you for this opportunity, Your Majesty.
HRM: (He smiles regally) You are welcome, Ms. Velvet. Your livestream that day provided the Crown with quiet a bit of help. Refraining from revealing classified information and your life saving efforts simply moved you to the top of the list.
C: Thank you. To start off with I will ask the burning question. Are the princesses your daughters?
HRM: (HRM chuckles) No, not at all. Princess Crowe is my sister. She was my fathers one last hurrah if you will.
C: Well. I guess those rumors of King Mors sneaking out into the City are true then. What about Princess Amur?
HRM: Princess Amur is a Lucis Caelum, but not one connected to any known Royals. We think she is a lost line resurfacing.
C: Well congratulations on your new family members, Your Majesty. May I ask how they were discovered in the chaos?
PAK: (she leans forward) I was discovered first, Ms. Velvet. I was on His Majesty's Guard detail as part of my Crownsguard training. During the fighting I was separated form him and cadet Argentum as I drew the attackers away to let Argentum get His Majesty out.
C: Brave of you. How did you draw them away?
PAK: That's classified. (her cat ears flicked forward then back)
C: Understood. What did you do after you had drawn them off?
PAK: I went hunting. I took out as many of the attackers as I could and made them think, His Majesty was somewhere he wasn't. I was very successful apparently. After a while the coms came back up and Bloodraven informed me that multiple groups were after the Crystal. I made my way there and in the fighting I was thrown against the Crystal. That's all it took.
C: You went after multiple groups on your own?
PAK: Insomnia is my home. I do not like it being invaded. (this came out with an inhuman snarl, which seemed to surprise her)
C: I am going to ask about that in a minute, but first. Princess Crowe how were you discovered?
PC: In almost the same way actually. I was in the Glaive ready room when the bombs started going off. Captain Drautos quickly led us to re-take the Citadel and we were alerted to the mess in the Crystal Chamber and went as reinforcements for Amur. I was blown back against the Crystal when my barrier spell failed to stop an explosion completely.
C: So all anyone that wants to prove themselves a Lucis Caelum needs to do is touch the Crystal?
HRM: Well they should be very sure before trying. The Crystal does not like Non-Lucis Caelums.
C: (almost hesitantly) What does it do if you aren't a Royal?
HRM: Disintegrates them. We have some video recordings of my Mother throwing an assassin at it.
C: That sounds disturbing. May I ask how you lost your leg, Your Majesty?
HRM: (He nods smiling faintly.) Lichen had sent the cadets to scout the floor we were on. I was resting my bad leg when my magic abruptly fled. Lichen made a mistake thinking that I didn't know the proper all clear signal so I discreetly drew my sword cane as I left the room. I managed to kill Lichen and the two attackers with him but I was overwhelmed by numbers as his reinforcements arrived. My leg was almost severed by a sword strike when the cadets arrived and saved me. Argentum applied what medical aid he could while Kelly briefed me. It quickly became obvious that I was going to lose the led no matter what happened so I cut it off so we could move.
C: You...cut your own leg off. (Argentum and Kelly look pale at the reminder while His Majesty looks nonchalant)
HRM: Neither cadet new how to perform a field amputation. I did what was necessary.
C: I see. How did you escape the Citadel?
HRM: We were cornered between two groups and were preparing to make a last stand. I was exhausted and suffering quiet a bit of blood loss. I ordered Argentum to escape but he ignored me and showed off a new warp technique using bullets to get us at least five miles from the Citadel in less than a minute.
C: You disobeyed orders, Glaive Argentum?
PA: (he still looks pale but has a resolute expression) Yes. And No. Before we had guard duty for His Majesty, both Kelly and I received lectures from our superior officer on when to ignore His Majesty's orders. Captain Drautos specifically mentioned during an attempted last stand.
PAK: The Marshal gave an identical lecture. We compared them.
PA: Then the Lord Shield gave it to both of us before we went on shift.
C: It sounds like they know you well, Your Majesty.
HRM: Yes they do. (he looks fond)
C: This brings me to my next question. What happened to the scourge and why are they cat people.
HRM: The short answer is, we don't know. On the night after the Civil War no daemons appeared and by the dawn of the nest day every person with the scourge was cured. Over the next month they started showing the cat like traits. All examinations and tests prove that they are in their right minds and the changes are stable. Daemons seem to have somehow changed into a more natural breed.
C: So the scourge-changed, as they are being called, aren't a threat?
HRM: (he frowns) No. They are just people like you and me. Any actions against them for being changed will be treated as a hate crime, just as attacking those with the scourge is.
C: And the Daemons?
HRM: We are still investigating. They don't seem any more threatening than a coeurl or a behemoth. Dangerous but not completely hostile, and they no longer spread the scourge.
Clarus Amiticia, Shield of the King
He sighed and pushed the papers away to lay his head on his arms. It was three months after the Civil war and things were still completely derailed. Their only saving grace was Niflheim also being in chaos. Succarpe had succeed and swore to Queen Lunafreya, who had closed Tenebrae's borders. Accordo was silent and had also closed borders. Their last reports from infiltrators in Niflheim said that Gralea was on fire and the Keep was leveled.
All the Astrals resting places were gone as well. Lestallum was still reattaching the power lines to the Meteor after Titan had left. The Rock was still spewing ash and no one sane would get on the sea. And the storm clouds that had been building still hadn't broke. I made him nervous, the day was indistinguishable from the night. He didn't know about Shiva as her Blizzard was still ongoing, but even the Crystal had changed. It now shown white like the Wall. Noctis's magic had also changed colors to match.
That was perhaps the most startling thing lately. Everyone's magic was changing. Regis's had shifted to a darker blue-green and he described it like swimming in the sea. Cor was being twitchy about his, saying it felt like something hunting and Titus mentioned his armor had shifted. Even after Princess Amur accidentally healed whatever caused him pain when he used it.
His own was settling like deep roots holding firm. The only ones not surprised by the shifting of their magic ha been the cadets Noctis had sworn to him. They all had different descriptions of what it felt like and hadn't know it was meant to be different. The Glaives had thrown themselves into retraining with gusto and were figuring out all sorts of tricks long thought impossible. No one had been able to learn Argentums bullet warp trick yet but several had picked up taking other people with you when you warp.
Speaking of Glaives. He had a sudden brother to deal with. Libertus Ostium, the little brother that should be impossible. His father had been declared dead a good four years before he had been born. His father had never been happy in Court but he hadn't thought it was bad enough for him to fake his death. It had to be that, the explosion that supposedly killed him took out three city blocks. He had to live with the fact that his father had run rather than disarm the bomb like he had said he was over the coms.
"Dad?" A soft voice came from the door. He looked up to see Iris in her nightgown, deep shadows under her eyes. He held out his arms and she dove into them shuddering. He tucked her under his chin and held her tight. He had came so close to losing her and hadn't even known. Both she and Silence had been pulled out of school, it wasn't safe.
"Nightmares again, sweet heart?" He asked quietly.
"I can still feel his throat between my teeth." She whispered. He closed his eyes, pained.
"I'm sorry you had to go through that, Iris. You should have been safe." She sniffed.
"I want Gladdy."
"We'll visit him in the morning, I promise."
"But he wont wake up." She choked out before bursting in to tears.
He could only hold her as she cried, his own tears slipping out. They both jumped at a deafening peal of thunder as the storm finally broke, rain lashing fiercely against the window.
King Regis Lucis Caelum
Regis jerked awake at the clap of thunder unable to do more than jolt from where he was wrapped in Cor's arms. He was able to sit up as Cor did, having also been woke by the storm. Cor relaxed as he realized they weren't under attack and flopped back on the bed and tugged Regis down with him.
"'S about time that storm came down, it looked like the end of the world there for a bit." Cor mumbled. He turned to Regis and pulled him close. Regis grinned at him still giddy that Cor loved him back. He had never thought he would have this again. This soft feeling that someone loved him. Not for the King, but for the man. His beautiful Cor, as deadly as he was lovely. Cor was watching him back with a sleepy smile, hand running up and down his side.
Regis couldn't resist kissing him, pressing as close as he could. Cor smiled into the kiss pulling Regis on top of him as he rolled onto his back. He straddled the marshal thankful he could do that without a leg. He deepens the kiss even as his hands slid under Cor to slip beneath his sleep pants. Cor's hands were already tugging at his shirt and Regis broke the kiss long enough to remove it, tossing it to the floor. Before he could continue to kiss Cor he flipped them both and removed their pants at the same time.
"Oof. Eager are you?" Regis said with a laugh. Cor smirked at him as he knelt between Regis's thighs. he leaned down to hover over Regis careful not to touch him
"You started this, Regis. Do you want me to stop?" Cor asked his lips a bare inch from his.
"Don't you dare, come here you." Regis said, looping his arms around Cor's neck. Cor settled on top of him pressing him into the bed, thighs still around his waist. He slowly ran his hands up and down Regis sides and Regis gasped as Cors hands slipped under his butt to pull his cheeks apart. A rough finger dipped between them drawing a whine from Regis. Cor pulled away enough to look at him.
"Is this okay? We haven't gone this far." Cor asked softly, licking his lips.
"Yes. Please. I want you inside me." Regis said breathlessly, wiggling to spread his thighs more. He saw a flash as Cor pulled something from the Armiger but was distracted by Cor hungrily kissing him. His body flushed with heat as Cor slid his hands back down. He sucked in a gasp as Cor slid slicked fingers between his butt cheeks. It must have been lube he took from the Armiger.
Cor slowly ran his fingers around his hole before dipping one finger in. As he worked more fingers in he was reduced to clutching the sheets and whimpering. Cor suddenly smirked at him and twisted his fingers just so, and fireworks went off behind his eyes. He moaned loudly and Cor leaned down to catch the sound fingers still playing with his prostate.
"Are you ready?" Cor murmured against his lips drawing a whine. "Yes, yes, yes, please." It got him another kiss as he felt Cor pressing his dick into him. He clung and kissed Cors throat as Cor bottomed out. He stopped to let Regis get used to it but Regis rolled his hips wanting him to move.
Cor gasped and rocked into him. They started rocking together slowly at first but Regis urged him on and Cor set a steady pace that had Regis throwing his head back as he moaned in pleasure. Cor shifted and hit his prostate causing him to clench. Cor chuckled and kept hitting that spot as Regis whimpered and lost his ability to talk. Cor pounded into him again and again and the pressure built and built and built. Regis was holding tightly to Cor gasping into his neck when Cor gripped his dick and pumped it. Regis came with a whine and Cor followed him over the edge.
Cor lay on top of him panting while Regis dazedly gulped for air. Eventually Cor rolled off of him gently sliding out of him. Regis clenched against the feeling of emptiness and enjoyed the cum seeping out.
"I love you." Cor said pulling him to rest his head on his chest.
"I love you too." Regis said sleepily, cuddling up to him.
The storm was still raging the next morning when they had to get up for the day. They indulged in a bath together but had to part before they could eat breakfast. Cor's phone had gone off, as some cadets had done something requiring him.
Regis sighed at his prosthetic as he strapped it on. It was useful but ugly. He was waiting on one he designed to finish being made. He didn't get why Clarus had face palmed at the inset daggers. Hold out weapons were great. He cheered up as he walked into his sitting room and found Noctis waiting on him. He ignored his son's quick look over, understanding his worry.
"Good Morning, Son. Are you joining me for breakfast?" He asked as he pulled him into a hug.
"I thought maybe you would want to join us actually. Prom brought the twins to take to the creché, since he ships out tonight, for Lord Oceanus to take them home. Specks is cooking." He added.
Regis perked up. He hadn't had time to meet them yet.
"Of course I will. But first are you doing alright? You look like you haven't been sleeping."
Noctis had bags under his eyes and was paler than he usually was. He gave Regis a tired grin.
"Yeah. It's just taking a while to get used to the new amount of magic. I'm wired but exhausted at the same time.
"What new amount of magic?" He asked in confusion. Noctis blinked at him.
"When I put the Ring on it was like being flooded with power. I thought it was just a surge from the Crystal but it never went away. Did that not happen to you?"
Regis shook his head slowly. "The Ring drains magic not feeds more to you. I had thought it was simply no longer being connected to it, but now that I'm checking I am more powerful than I ever was."
"Yet another thing." Noctis sighed. "Come on Iggy said he's making pancakes with chocolate chips."
They made their way to Noctis's Rooms their guards (freshly vetted by both Cor and Titus) trailing them at a distance. The room was surprisingly full when they got there. Wesk and Cid were squabbling over something on the couch while Cindy took...something apart on the coffee table. Ignis was visible through the kitchen door with Libertus. Crowe and Amur were flipping knives at each other on the far side of the room. And on the floor by the armchair Prompto was sitting on a blanket feeding one twin while the other slept.
"Clarus and Iris are visiting Gladio. Cor and Titus have to go bail the newest cadet class out of the drunk tank." Noctis murmured as Regis settled in the armchair.
"What all of them?" He snorted when Noctis nodded. "How is Gladio? Any change?"
"No. The bond twitches sometimes but I don't know what it means." Noctis said grumpily crouching beside Prompto. The blond glanced up.
"Morning, Your Majesty. Sora is about to wake up, would you like to feed her?" Regis beamed at him and eagerly accepted the baby girl. Taking the bottle offered he cooed as she accepted it. The baby blinked at him as he fed her. She was dressed in a chocobo onesie a few shades darker than the wisps of her blond hair.
"She's beautiful Prompto." The man looked up from where he was burping his son.
"Thank you, Sire.
Breakfast was surprisingly rowdy affair. It wasn't something Regis was used to but he found he liked it. If anything good had come from that hellish day then it was finding more family and his friends returning.
"Are your hands alright Prince Noctis? You keep flexing them." Regis looked up from the dark haired baby boy he was holding, having eagerly accepted him when Prompto offered after breakfast was over. He should get to work but babies. Noctis was flexing his fingers again.
"I told you you can call me Noctis, Libertus. You're family now. And I'm fine, I don't know why my fingers are so achy, but it might be the weather."
"Your back hasn't been bothering you though." Ignis said with a frown. Noctis shrugged, then yelped as his flexing caused sharp claws to slide out ripping his fingernails in the process. Everyone stared as Ignis handed him a napkin for the small amount of blood.
"I thought only people who had the scourge were going to change. Is it spreading?" Prompto asked.
"But Noctis did have the scourge once." Everyone turned to look at him.
"Queen Sylva cured it before you woke up in Tenebrae, son. I thought you knew."
"Huh. No, but it makes sense. So people that used to have the scourge are going to change too? That's going to piss off the Dragon Temple." Noctis said dazed, picking the hanging fingernails off.
"Good." Cindy muttered. Everyone snorted. The Temple was being a pain in the ass but they hadn't crossed the line yet. Amur leaned over the arm of the couch to get a better look at Noctis's face.
"Your eyes are starting to change too. They're already starting to reflect light." She said as she pulled back.
"I know I like cats but I didn't mean to turn into one."
Prompto Argentum, Kingsglaive
He slid to a stop beside Green as Libertus and Princess Crowe followed behind him. They were almost late after dropping the twins off at the creché.
"Why are you three almost late?" Captain Drautos asked as he handed them their briefing folders.
"His Majesty is a baby hog and wouldn't give my son back." Prompto replied taking his seat.
"He was like that with Gladio, Noctis and Iris too. Moving on you assignment this time is for the nearest Royal tomb that we know about. The tomb of the Wise isn't that far from here so you should only be gone about a week. Altius has the key and can get you in. Once you are in you are to search the place for any information that might have been stored there. Any questions?"
Green started to raise his hand then just asked.
"Sir, why we starting outside the Wall? Why not with King Mors's Tomb, it should be inside the Wall considering the Siege."
Prompto watched as confusion washed over the Captains face and then his face went blank.
"I don't know where it is do any of you?" They all glanced at each other then shook their heads.
"I didn't think you would. I can remember being on guard duty at the funeral but can't tell you where it was. I escorted His Majesty there several times that first year but after that he stopped going."
"Do you think it's deliberate?" Crowe asked with a scowl. That was her father's grave.
The Captain didn't answer as he had pulled out his phone.
"Regis where is your father's grave? Exactly. We will look into it. No, you just want out of your paperwork. No. Bye."
The Captain hung up and frowned at them. "It has to be deliberate, Altius. His Majesty doesn't know were it is either."
"Well that's not terrifying. What the hell could cause that?" Crowe asked.
"Good question. It's probably one this squad will find the answer to considering their remit. I'll inform His Highness about the situation but you lot have a mission. Any other questions? Good. Dismissed."
Prompto filed out with the rest of the Team. he was flipping through the file frowning at the lack of information when Jess piped up.
"So we need a team name. Any suggestions?"
"Don't name us anything that will get us in trouble?" was Prompto's answer.
"How could a name get us in trouble?" Kemp asked as they all loaded in the transport.
"You'd be surprised." Ostium said dryly. "We almost got wrote up when we tried to name our selves Daemonfuckers Anonymous. Don't pick a team name while drunk rookies."
They all cracked up and started trying to come up with worse and worse names which shifted into dirty puns somehow. They did settle on the name Team Dungeons and Dragons or Team D&D.
"We're Team Double D because none of us have boobs!" Jess cackled and then yelped as Kemp jumped over the seat to tackle him. "I've got boobs asshole, now die."
Harper and Green sighed and pulled them apart tossing Kemp back over the seat where Prompto buckled her in with the straps over her arms. Ostium and Altius were watching in amusement through the rear view mirror.
"That happen a lot?" Altius asked.
"All the freaking time. They've known each other since the cradle apparently." Prompto sighed.
Gladio Amiticia, Shield of the Prince
He didn't know where he was or how he got here. Here being a strangely toned system of caves. They stretched on and on seemingly endless. The walls shifted in dizzying patterns if he looked at them to long. Although long was relative since his sense of time wasn't working. Pressing is hand against his chest, where his Shield bond was anchored, he drew strength from the steady pulse. It meant Noctis was still alive. He turned as he heard a whimper. It was the fifth time he heard it. Someone was in trouble and Gladio needed to find them.
"Can you find him Shield?" Gladio spun around in shock. Behind him was a giant of a man, dressed in ancient armor with long white hair and gleaming white-violet eyes. He was also see through.
"Who are you? Where are we? Who am I supposed to find?" The ghost looked at him before tuning in the direction of another whimper.
"I am Gilgamesh Amiticia, your ancestor. This place is my penance for betraying my King. My King is unjustly imprisoned Grandson. Will you help?"
Gladio stared at the ghost. How did these stories go? Help the spirit and it will lead you to safety? He didn't know if this was a dream or not but something made him take this seriously. He knew some of his ancestors hadn't deserved the Shield title so it was possible he was caught in one's plea to make up for their actions in life.
"I will help you Grandfather, what do you need me to do?" He said. This seemed to startle the ghost, did he expect him to refuse?
"…You do not know what I did." Gilgamesh said. Gladio frowned at him.
"Does it matter? You said you wanted to make up for it." Gilgamesh shook his head.
"I am Oathbreaker and Kinslayer both grandson, nothing will make up for what I did."
"What did you do?" Gladio asked as he started walking towards the whimpers. It was easier to track them when he focused on Gilgamesh. The ghost sighed as he followed him.
"Fell in love with my Kings brother and let him convince me that a Daemon was wearing his face. I helped crucify him and I killed his Queen, my sister, while she was pregnant with his heir."
"…..You're right I don't think there is a way to make up for that. What help did you want for your King then?"
"Ardyn was captured by some group that has magic suppressing technology. I want you to find him when you wake and free him. You will need to learn a few skills before you do."
"Wait what? How is your King alive? What skills?"
Gilgamesh turned to him.
"Do you know what Shields are for originally? We predate the Founding of Solheim." Gladio blinked in shock.
"No I don't, why."
"Because things are waking up, grandson. Magic flows through the land once more and the scourge no longer eats it. The Gods stir from their long slumber. All of them not just the Six. Old Pacts must be renewed. And Lucis Caelums have a Pact with Mother Moon, Etro who is Death and Magic. We, who are sworn to the house of Death's Own Children, Shield them from burning themselves out as they channel the forces of Entropy. That is why our Oaths are Magic and not just words. 'Ad Damnatio' the words of our House. I forgot them once, never again."
"I don't know what that means, The meaning was lost centuries ago." Gladio said after a moment to process that. They were in for an interesting time.
"Unto Damnation. We are loyal no matter the cost. Even as the Mage-Kings conquered a country and even as they helped bind a god in chains of blood and sacrifice to shatter the Mountain of the Mothers."
"I've never heard of either of those." Gilgamesh had a pained look on his face as they stopped in front of a door so black it ate all light
"Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. Human memory is such a fragile thing. It is why I must teach you how to shield your King from his own magic. Will you save my King? I-"
"Yes." He interrupted. At Gilgamesh's look he continued. "I already said I would help. Where is he? And how soon can you teach me whatever it is?"
"I can teach you now. It is up to you to master it. You will be unable to leave this place until you do.....I do not know where Ardyn is. it is only the remains of my Oath-bond that lets me know what happened to him. Through that door is where he is. I can not step through it and you must not until you master the Shield of The Horizon."
Crown Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum
He was dreaming. He knew he was. running his hand through his hair he looked around the weird halls made of some sort of delirium inducing rainbow stone. He wandered after Carbuncles blue tail. He hadn't seen the little blue fox since the Civil War. it was nice to see him but this was a weird dream and not at all like the usual ones Carbuncle showed up to make.
Turning a corner he froze. In front of him was a void of darkness that was made of light. Looking at it felt like trying to fit his head through a sink drain. In the center was a throne made of bone and sinew etched with carvings that seemed to move. The bottom was made of aged and cracking bones and as the chair grew in height the newer the bones became. As he watched brand new bones, meat still on them, clattered to the throne binding themselves in place.
Sitting on this throne was a woman carved out of the blackest night with moonlight for hair. She was Crowned in stars swirling slowly around her head. She wore a simple shift made of woven dreams, though he had no idea how he knew that. Behind the Throne a great Wolf bigger than most buildings slept.
"Mother Moon, Lady Etro who is Death and Magic. I present to you the Scion of the House of Death Noctis Lucis Caelum." A silky voice rang. It was Carbuncle, who shifted as he spoke, to turn into a human form though he had nine fox tails and fox ears. He could say nothing before the Lady's eyes opened and he was caught in her gaze. There was nothing human in them. Her eyes were the death of Galaxy's, the wailing of mourning, the sweet release from torment. Somehow he knew what to say.
"Hail, Lady of the End. I am Scion of your First Child, who lies dreaming things no mortal should. Hello Grandmother."
She did not speak but he heard her anyway.
'My Light, child of my child of my child. It pleases me to know your line lives even as it was enslaved. Your coming was foretold, Chosen King. Though the Prophecy was spoken by the Sword, he does not have First claim on your soul. I offer to you the reforging of the Pact so that you might save your people. Things are waking my own and the earth-binders blood seeps through the cracks, and mad men mess with forces they cannot comprehend. He Who Drinks Life has turned his attention this way again, My Own. You must be ready no matter which Pact you choose.'
"I do not understand Grandmother. Who comes? What Pacts?" He wilted a bit when she frowned. He didn't want to disappoint her. He looked up when she touched his chin. She had tears like stardust running down her cheeks. She smiled gently as he instinctively wiped it away.
'I forget how brief mortals are, My Own. It is not your fault. Knowledge will come in time. For now you must simply Choose. Will you reforge your Pact with me or will you forge a new Pact with The Ever-Hungry Maw of War? Both will let you save your people, though they will be a changed people by the end.'
"Do you mean the Draconian, Grandmother? I have never heard that name for him."
'I do. A Great War is coming, Grandson. The six must shake off their sleep and take their war names again.'
"I will choose you, Grandmother. I will not serve one who ordained that my father must kill me." Noctis had no idea where his knowledge was coming from but he knew it was True.
She smiled and it was like the endless night sky was pleased with him. She leaned down and pressed her lips to his forehead and a heat so fierce it froze traveled in arcs down his face and continued down his entire body.
'Hurry then Grandson, Your Shield is about to bite off more than he can chew just yet.'
"Gladio?!" A small spike of panic cut through the unnatural calm he hadn't noticed.
"This way Noct!" Carbuncle yipped and darted away. Noctis ran after him, Lady Etro's laugh echoing like a funeral bell after him.
He ran and ran hopelessly lost and barely keeping Carbuncles many tails in sight. He finally came to a halt in front of a cracked open door. He was about to rush through when Carbuncles hand stopped him. He turned to look at the blue haired teen. His eyes were the same red as his horn.
"Be ready for what you are about to face, dear friend. Favors are not bestowed lightly even for the Children of Gods." With that he vanished in a storm of ominous glitter. Noctis took a deep breath and braced him self before pushing through the door.
Zack Green, Kingsglaive Medic
Six he was tired. He had been on shift in the medical wing for twenty four hours now. He was about to get up from the desk to get more coffee when a loud alarm blared through the room. Spinning quickly to the switch bored he paled and hit the emergency all call. it was only meant for invasions but he didn't think anyone would mind. Lord Amiticia's son had just flat lined. He burst in to the long term care room to start first aid just in time to see Prince Noctis materialize out of thin air. That was not warping.
Prince Noctis practically collapsed on top of the man on the bed planting his hands on his chest. Zack had to cover his eyes as everything went white, just like the time His Highness took on the Wall. He almost had a heart attack as they both let out shrill scream, like their souls were being torn from their bodies. Quickly looking after the light faded he dove towards the Prince frantically casting Cure spells.
Blood was seeping out of strangely placed holes in both of them but his priority was the Prince. He had strange markings on his face that almost looked like a skull, but the disturbing part was the chafed restraint marks, they looked old somehow.
He sighed in relief as the Cure spells took and almost folded when Princess Amur slid to a stop bedside him to help. His blood turned to ice when she spoke up after they had healed both of them.
"Why do they both have torture marks?"
Chapter 6: Impact
THERE IS MENTIONS OF CHILD DEATH AND MASS MURDER AND A LOT OF HORRIBLE THINGS IN THIS CHAPTER READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
He took a deep breath of the flower scented air, the spring breeze around the Temple filling him with peace. It was good to be home. The Temple had been kind to him after Gralea burned a bare day after his banishment. He hadn't taken the vanishing of the scourge well, and all his efforts to save Lunafreya being for nothing. The Temple gave him hope though, he like to be needed. It was nice to be just Ravus instead of the Oracles brother, hostage to her good behavior.
Ravus turned as he heard his name called. Father Phoenix was walking towards him with a woman in blue following him. She had long dark hair with a few Galahden style braids and her eyes were the same blaze blue as her flowing robe. She was studying him as he studied her. She must have approved of what she saw as she smiled warmly at him.
"Brother Ravus, I'm glad you have returned. Sister Merrythought will be glad you are back as well, the little ones missed you. Did you find what you were looking for?" Father Phoenix as he came to a stop beside him. Ravus smiled, happy to see him. It was nice to be welcomed home instead of being met by stiff silences. Mentally shaking his thoughts away from his former kin he replied.
"I did, yes. You were right about Accordo having secret records. Brother Pike was able to slip me in to the privet collection with out alerting the other staff of the Grand Library. I will be glad to help Sister Merrythought with the children's bedtime stories tonight if she wishes."
"She would like that. If you aren't to tired from your travels I'd like to introduce you to someone. I think your combat skills would go well together, and your tactics with her strategy will be nigh unbeatable. If you get along of course, we wouldn't force you to work together if you are incompatible." the Father said with a kind smile. He was always considerate of his peoples feelings.
"I slept on the train, Father. I will be happy to meet whomever you like." Ravus answered easily.
"Excellent! Then please allow me to introduce Sister Nemesis Ashwind. She is one of our better Pyromancers and has a head for strategy unlike anything I've ever seen." He gestured to the woman beside him, who came forward to shake his hand. "I will leave the two of you to get to know each other, I need to begin preparing for the sunset service."
They watched him bustle away down the corridor before turning to each other. Ravus almost panicked wondering how to start the conversation when she let out a peal of laughter.
"There is no need to make that face Brother Ravus. I don't bite. Unless you ask." She said with a grin. She hooked her arm around his and started leading him in the direction of the gardens. He followed with slightly flushed cheeks. He still wasn't used to people openly flirting with him, despite it happening more now that he joined the Temple.
They walked through the gardens discussing the duties they attended, eventually sitting by a lake. She was a Priestess not just an acolyte. She had joined the military branch when she discovered her Blessing of Fire Magic.
"The Temple has always been my home. They rescued me when Galahd Fell, when I was around thirteen. I don't remember anything of my life before, but no one came looking for me so I must be the only one left. My braids and my color are all I have. Even the Ashbringer Blessed me with Blue Fire." She replied to his question about how long she had been a member of the Temple. Holding out her hand a fierce blue flame appeared on her palm. She held it out to him as it shaped itself into a flower.
"It's lovely. The color suits you." Ravus said honestly and then wanted to smack himself. She grinned at him again.
"You're very sweet, I can see why Merry sighs over you." She teased. Ravus flushed again. "Do you really help her with the children?"
"I do yes, I know what it's like to lose you parents too soon. They just want someone to pay attention to them." He said grateful for the subject change. He was not sweet. He looked at her when she was silent to long. She was watching him with something shadowed in her eyes. The fire in her hand had twined around her hand like a snake until she snuffed it. She suddenly smiled gently and it was like looking at the dawn.
"I think we could work well together Ravus. Will you let me join you on your campaign?"
"I think I would like that, Nemesis."
Prompto Argentum, Kingsglaive
He blinked his eyes open sleepily, glaring at his phone. It was time to get up. Rolling to his feet he stretched his arm above his head, tail almost pointing straight. He scratched his belly as he padded down the hall to wake Silence, who had stayed the night after watching the kids during his guard shift. At almost five the twins were a lot to handle for a fourteen year old but he was a hard worker.
Tapping on the door to the guest room he refrained from laughing at his bed head. He continued to the twins room grinning when he saw Sora halfway down the bunk bed. His Sky-light loved climbing and put her little kitten claws to good use.
"Didn't want to wait, Kitten?" He said scooping her up and causing her to giggle. He leaned over the lower bed to look at the nest Solis was curled up in. "How about you, little man? Ready to get up?"
There was a hiss from under the blanket making him laugh. His sleepy sunshine hated waking up.
"Come on, Sunshine. It's time for breakfast." Solis only whined. "I guess you don't want pancakes then?" Solis stuck his head out from under the blanket cat-slit eyes the same shade as his own narrowed.
"Kind?" So cute. Sora was giggling from her place on his hip. She wouldn't actually talk until after breakfast at least but she would giggle or laugh or cry.
"We have some fresh blueberries." He bribed. He was not surprised when Sol wiggled out and demanded to be picked up. Blueberries were his favorite. Sora preferred strawberries. He was just glad they hadn't picked up Noct's vegetable aversion. It was funny to watch Cindy trick him into eating them though. Scooping him up to his other hip he walked out to the kitchen and plopped them into their chairs and started breakfast while Silence entertained the twins.
Breakfast was a messy thing, but what could you expect from two excitable kittens? After they were done Silence did the dishes while he got the kids dressed. Sora wanted to be a marlboro today and Sol decided he wanted to wear the miniature Kingsglaive uniform Harper had given him. His team loved to spoil them, as long as he didn't make them baby sit again. Shaking his head in amusement at the thought he tossed their things in the Armiger ready to take them to the daycare.
He kept an eye on Silence as he carried Sora, who was babbling excitedly at everything. Her ears twitching and her tail wrapped around Silence's neck as he carried her on his shoulders. His babies were so tiny. But then neither he or Cas were all that tall. Solis was half asleep burrowed into his jacket, purring. He had nearly had a panic attack when his claws had come through. Cor had to calm him down and inform him of the rest of the circumstances of his rescue. It involved a trip through Tenebrae to meet then Oracle Sylva. So now he and his kids were cat people.
His ears were the same color as his hair and Sora shared that color although her ears had black dappling. Solis had Cascade's hair and gold dappling in an identical pattern to his sister. Their tails did the same thing. It was the cutest thing he had ever seen. He took so many pictures. He wished Cas could see them, she would love them just as much as he did.
As they came to the subway stop Silence got off at for school, Sora clung to his shoulders as he situated her. He sighed fondly as she started chewing on his ear. It had been a bit of a ride dealing with the new instincts, but kittens were easy enough to handle. Usually.
"Sky-light sweetie, please stop chewing on Daddy's ears."
"Nom, nom." She said, kitten purr in her voice.
"You just ate, kitten." He laughed back swinging her down as they got to the Citadel stop. He set Solis on his feet beside her making him look grumpy. He rubbed their ears and then held their hands as they walked through the halls. They waved at people they knew and he nodded at them. He had to hold onto them or they would wander off. Especially Solis, his little escape artist. He dreaded the day Sol found the secret passages. Sora would find the tallest person she could and climb them. That was usually a Glaive, and on one occasion His Majesty.
"Are you two ready to start kindergarten soon? It's only a few weeks.”
“Yes!” “No.” They chimed at the same time, making him laugh again.
“Why don't you want to go to school, Sunshine? All your friends will be there.”
“Miss Marny is mean. I don't like her.” Solis said with a pout. Prompto winced remembering the former teacher for the Citadel school.
“Miss Marny isn't teaching any more Sol. Mr. Grand is going to be your teacher.”
“I like Mr. Grand! He showed me how to make a bird with paper! And he gave you those crayons!” Sora said excitedly. Solis considered before nodding firmly. Prompto resisted the urge to coo at him,
“Mr. Grant is okay. I'll try it.” Then he pointed. “Look! Levy is here! Bye Daddy!” The kids bolted into the daycare leaving him to laugh as he them signed in.
“Ahh marlboro!” He heard a child yell in glee.
“Rarr!!” Sora's high pitched growl came next.
“Don't worry! I, Solis of the Kingsglaive, will save you!”
He was trying to sign them in through his laughter when his phone beeped, so he hurriedly finished and answered.
"Prompto, there's been an indecent. Everyone is fine but you need to come to Gladio's room. He's awake." Ignis said crisply. Oh Hell, Iggy wouldn't call Gladio waking up finally an incident unless it's bad.
He got to the medical wing as soon as he could without causing a scene. He got even more worried when he noticed the chaos going on. It shouldn't be this busy for just Gladio waking up out of a nearly five year coma. Had there been an assassination attempt? He didn't see Iggy or Noct so he snagged a shaky looking Green by the elbow.
"Green, what's going on? Was there an attack?"
"I don't know what happened, Sir. One minute I'm about to get coffee, the next Amiticia is flatlineing. I hit the all call and went to start trying to keep him alive. The next thing I know, His Highness materialize on top of him and put his hands on his chest. Then they screamed like they were dying and flashed like the Wall did. When the light went away, they both were bleeding. I started healing His Highness when Princess Amur showed up to help. They are both conscious now. Dr Nu is giving them a look over."
Prompto told Green to get some sleep and bolted to the door when Ignis stuck his head out and waved.
Gladio Amiticia, Shield of the Crown Prince
He was so weak. He was leaned back against the hospital bed, exhausted by even that much movement. His arms were weirdly spindly and all his muscle was gone. It hurt to hold his head up but he had to tell them. He had promised. He ached all over from what he felt in that place, but he needed to tell them. He turned tiredly to his father as he took his hand.
"You should rest, son. It's going to take time for you to heal up." Clarus sounded choked up and had tears in his eyes.
"I..need..to..tell..you...how...to...find..him." Gladio forced out, throat dry from the intubation tube.
"Find who?" Prompto said from the doorway. Gladio squinted at him. Did he have cat ears or was his eyesight messed up? Whatever.
"Ardyn...Lucis...Caelum...they...have....him....in....Angelguard." He had to stop and gasp for air. Why was he so weak, what happened?
Noctis gasped awake suddenly from the bed across the room. Gladio hadn't even noticed him, he used the Shield bond to keep track of him and it felt fine. Noctis scrambled back against the back of the bed shaking and crying. Prompto and Ignis bolted over but held back at his flinch. He had cat ears too, was he hallucinating?
A redhead he didn't know, also with cat ears, put her hand on his head and a strange golden light washed over him. He felt energized suddenly.
"Is that better? It wont last long but you an give a report. How do you know where another Lucis Caelum is?" She said briskly holding a cup of water with a straw to his face.
Gladio took a sip to wet his throat. He organized his thoughts as King Regis comforted Noctis who was sobbing into his shirt.
"I was taken...somewhere in spirit. An ancestor of mine needed help. In return he taught me how to Shield Lucis Caelums from burning out from their own magic. He can't move on or help Ardyn because he is an Oathbreaker and a Kinslayer. I promised to save him. He's still alive and someone has him trapped under magic suppressing tech. They are holding him in Angelguard. I found out too early. Something was attacking wherever we were. Gilgamesh told me to run and the only place to go was the doorway that lead to where Ardyn was. I had been told that I shouldn't enter it until I was ready to leave. I found out why." He rambled out mostly coherently but choked to a stop when he remembered going through the door.
Noctis whined and shifted. "Dad, we have to help him. They. He. Please." He sobbed.
"We will, Noctis it's alright." King Regis looked up.
"Argentum scramble your team. Keep it quiet." Prompto nodded sharply and pulled out his phone.
"I'm going." The redhead said. Gladio looked at her more closely dredging up the glimpses he had caught of Ardyn before they were thrown into his memories.
"You look like him." He said dazedly. "You have the same cat ears."
She looked at him with burning gold eyes then repeated. "I'm going"
King Regis just nodded. "Titus is still acting as your Shield? Good. You might need the back up. Go, Ignis will send you updates."
Prompto and the redhead both took off running, leaving just his dad, King Regis, Noctis, and Ignis behind with him. King Regis turned back to Noctis who was rubbing his hands.
"Where did you get those?" He asked softly, taking one of Noctis's hands and turning it enough for the small round scar to show. Gladio turned his hand to show his dad the matching one. It went all the way through the hand and he had a matching one on the other hand.
Noctis sucked in a breath and said "We saw his memories, Dad. His brother had him crucified. We felt it. Oh gods, Dad the Draconian commanded his brother to kill him and he did. They killed his wife in front of him. She was pregnant. We need to save him."
King Regis's face had gone still. "Noctis, It's alright. We will help him, I swear. What do you mean he killed him?" Noctis just buried his face in his dad's chest.
"Ardyn as cursed with immortality by the Draconian. He cannot die. He was a healer and took in the scourge to save his people and his brother usurped him. His Shield betrayed him. The High Priest of the Dragon Temple he belonged to betrayed him. And then the Draconian gave a prophecy that made him the villain. He chained him in Angelguard, enchanted to sleep until he was found at the ordained time." Gladio said tiredly whatever the red head had done starting to wear off.
"You mean the Accursed." Clarus said.
Noctis jerked up, growling, ears flat against his head. "I'm going to burn down those temples. How dare that fucking lizard try to make you kill me?" King Regis gasped.
"You know the Prophecy?"
"I know we're not listening the The Ever-Hungry Maw." Noctis raised his head and they all gasped. There was an outline of a skull around his face glowing white it continued down his body tracing his bones. The light around his eyes made them seem like empty sockets with his cat-slit blue eyes burning like witch fire in the depths.
"We are Scions of the House of Death, and I Chose to renew the Pact with Etro, The End of All Things, She Who is Death and Magic. Mother Moon, Who is Grandmother of Our Line."
Princess Amur Kelly Caelum, Crownsguard
She was worrying the team. She was utterly still in the back of the transport and hadn't spoken since she left Gladio's hospital room. She couldn't help it. Years of trying to find even a hint of what the empire had done to her father, if they had ever known who he was and now. Now she finds out that he is being tortured. Because of that fucking dragon. Ignis had sent them updates as the story came out. A story of betrayal and usurpers, kinslaying and oathbreaking. Maybe her cousin would let her help burn down the Temple, he was nice like that.
"We're about an hour from the Quay, Nekomata. We put you and the Captain on the retrieval." Prompto said sliding into the seat across from her. He already had his hood up, reminding her to pull hers out of the Armiger. They both had pretty distinctive hair.
"He's going to need healing." She said lowly, tail twitching. He just nodded face set. She knew he would have to keep an eye on her but she also knew he wouldn't stop her from getting some revenge unless she endangered someone. Amur wouldn't, precision damage was her specialty, she never hit allies. She remained silent as they used the cover of darkness to use inflatable rafts to the island. They all split up to search, she was with Titus because he was her substitute Shield until Iris was old enough.
"Are you going to be alright?" Titus asked quietly before they cast off. She blinked slowly, settling into her mission mindset.
"Ask me that after we rescue him." She was not going to be alright. She had already lost her mother she didn't want to lose her father before she got to know him. It pounded in her bones like a siren song, the need to find him. In some ways it was like she had always been looking for him.
They had sub-vocal mics letting them keep in touch without alerting whoever it was that was using the island. She paused as she passed an invisible boundary and touched her mic to pass on the coordinates of the magic suppressor. They chimed back with other coordinates letting her draw a mental map.
She ghosted through the tunnels, careful to keep out of sight. They took hours to carefully infiltration the complex carved into the stone. Amur killed as many as she could find hiding places for.
"We have a problem." Frost's (Harper) voice came over the com. "They have someone that looks a lot like Nekomata strung up in a big hall. And I'm pretty sure the Lindworm just walked in."
"I found the suppressor." Sparky (Jess) injected. "It's well guarded and I can't get to it without drawing attention."
"I found the record room, as soon as the fucking suppressor is down I'll loot the place." Firebug(Kemp) reported.
"Boss, Lindworm just had people start piling wood around the guy, I think they're going to burn him at the stake." Frost broke in hurriedly.
He blood went ice cold, and so did her rage. Luckily for her, Quicksilver gave the fuck stealth and kill everything order.
"Fuck it. Killjoys make some noise." Immediately after that there was a distant explosion and her magic swirled back. She automatically summoned a compressed fireball and threw it around the corner, catching a group of cultists heading for the main hall. She heard Titus's armor rattle-thump as he activated it. She was running to the hall when she heard a booming female voice echo through the complex.
"Infidels! Fools! What are you doing? The Accursed must be punished! He must be made ready to die by the Hand of The Chosen King! Traitors to Life! How-irk" It cut off abruptly.
She entered the room at a dead run, clawing cultists as she passed. Monk (Green) was trading blows with a large man standing over someone in an elaborate sky blue robe. She ignored most of the fighting, instead setting some premade illusion spells loose. See how they liked facing their worst fears. She made it to the pyre and used her Armiger to shove the flames away.
Ardyn Lucis Caelum, The Sage
Bird had vanished. He was dying again. His breath was shallow and he was light headed. Burning this time, hopefully the smoke would get him soon. He never thought the Draconian was merciful but at least enchanted sleep was kinder than being alone. He hadn't thought he cared about people any more, but he was so lonely. He kept catching himself calling for Somnus and Gil. Then he remembered what they did. It hurt worse when he called for Dahlia and remembered Gil killing her, sword through her swollen womb. He jerked his mind away from the dark thoughts. It hurt less to return if he was calm as he died.
Ever since whoever these people were captured him he has either been killed or left to rot in his prison. In the beginning they had killed him over and over again, ranting that he must be ready to accept his death at the Chosen King's hand. It had slowly tapered off and the isolation started. He had lost count of how many times he had died from hunger. Then one day he had woken up with an oddly clear mind and a persistent hallucination of cat ears. He didn't like to remember those days.
A bird made of fire had shown up, letting him know that he was mad. Why else would a bird be able to teleport through flames. It had pecked at his chains but whatever they were made off caused the bird to blacken and cry out in pain. He made it stop, not wanting to see it torment itself. His mind conjured a companion but even in his madness he couldn't escape. Even his magic had deserted him. Had Etro turned her face completely?
The torture had restarted then and he had been driven even more mad. He saw his blood as red instead of the scourge-black it had been since healing Somnus. They killed him in as many ways as they could think of and all the while the bird cried. It was his only company. It comforted him every time he choked back to life, soul scraped raw.
After a particularly bad death a different hallucination started. A vision of Gilgamesh standing just outside his door training a younger version of him self. It spoke of old stories and told of his betrayal. It named itself Kinslayer and Oathbreaker and made no excuses. It, and Bird, were his only relief from the crushing loneliness, his wardens having left him to rot for he didn't know how long. Yesterday it had changed and the older Gilgamesh had pushed the younger one forward as it turned to fight some threat. Bird had started shrieking in rage, startling him.
He had panicked when the younger version had charged into the room. Ardyn didn't want to know what he planed to do to him. It had gotten worse as a younger version of Somnus had run through the door a second latter. Oddly, they had tried to free him. Bird had landed on Somnus and pecked frantically at the chains almost killing itself. When they touched him something had happened and they vanished and he relived that moment again. It felt like it was happening all over again as he felt his heart break watching Gil murder his own sister, Ardyn's beloved wife, his pregnant Queen. It was by far much worse than the nails hammered into his hands.
He must have been screaming. The leader of these fanatics, always dressed in blue and always the first to try a new death, had ranted about a cleansing fire and demanded a pyre be set up. Maybe it would even take, they hadn't tried since the oddly persistent Gilgamesh hallucination had started. Just left him in the dark, chains embedded in his flesh around his bones, strung up like he was still on the cross.
He tried to move his head as an explosion sounded and the cultists started dropping like flies. He ignored the fire crisping his skin, well used to the pain. He blinked slowly as a several soldiers invaded the room. Oh look one of them punched the leader. He stared as one of them ran to him and pushed the burning wood away.
"Mother?" He whispered, heart in his throat. "Mother, please take me with you to the Beyond. Please." He begged. "Please don't leave me here. Please."
"Shush, I've got you. I've got you. Let me get you down. Titus can you reach those top ones?" She held him up as an armored soldier reached to undo the chains. " He cried out as they yanked against where the chains were embedded in his bones. He felt her gasp.
"Those monsters," She snarled. "Here let me." The soldier rumbled wrapping him in a blanket and scooping him up. Ardyn dizzily blinked up at him, cradled like baby. She pet his hair gently as he struggled to stay awake. He lost the fight with unconsciousness to her low, inhuman snarl.
"Take care of him Titus. I need to have words with some people."
Lisa Kemp, Kingsglaive
"Burn, motherfucker, burn!" She yelled as she sent a giant twisting snake of fire after the cultist running down the hall. The fucker had took off with some of the papers she was looting. She flung a knife right into the path he dodged to catching him in the back of the knee. She quickly knelt on his back and slit his throat, taking the papers he had snatched and shoving them into the group Armiger. That one would stay as long as at least one of the team was alive and auto dump into His Highness's if they all fucked up enough to die.
She hoofed it back to the rest of the team, jumping the railing off the side of the great hall. She landed on a cultist, daggers in his back and spun to take out another. She jumped into the burning pyre, yanking control of the flames so that they wouldn't harm her allies.
"We need to go NOW, I can't heal him here." Nekomata's voice snapped over the coms. Shit, that's bad. They fought a running retreat until The Lindworm, now conscious, started chanting in a strange language that sounded like nothing a human could make. Creepy bitch. It echoed like doom and followed them as they ran. Ominously, the shity cultists who had been trying to stop them started falling back. They had made it to the surface and to the boat when the mountain behind them shattered and a great blue dragon thing launched itself out after them.
Nekomata and the Captain settled the guy they came to rescue into the boat, ordering Monk to takeover his care and darted back unto shore, Armiger blooming around Nekomata. She didn't have many Royal Arms, they had been too fucking busy to actually do their job to find the Royal Tombs, but she had enough to hold the strange dragon back.
It was long and serpentine, with only two short legs in the front and no wings. It was every shade of blue imaginable and reflected light like metal. It also talked.
"BLASPHEMERS. HEATHENS. HOW DARE YOU DEFY THE WILL OF BAHAMUT! THE ACCURSED MUST BE PREPARED. FOOLS! YOU WILL KNOW THE WRATH OF THE BLADES! YOU-Erk!!!" The Lindworm was cut off by the Captain using his rocket boots to launch himself at her and jab his sword through her eye. Unfortunately the loss of its eye only made it angrier.
Except for Monk the whole team was locked in a pitched battle with a creature out of legend. She was pissed that the fucking thing seemed to be immune to fire leaving her to fall back on her distant second skill set, barriers. She had just made the shity Worm run head first into an electrified barrier when the magic was yanked away from her and she was suddenly frozen in place. Everyone was, even the Worm. All the magic they had been casting fizzled out and the ocean seemed to roar louder and louder as the water rose straight up around the entire island.
Between one heartbeat and the next an even larger serpent appeared, this time in all the shades of the sea. The first thing it did was rear up above the boat, where Green had been healing what he could, and then gently nudge the Royal they had come for. There was a strange rattle. An odd bird hopped off of it an crooned at him. It looked at all of them with pearl pale eyes seeming to read their souls. It rumbled like the crashing of waves and turned to the Worm. Holy fucking shit that was the Tidemother.
"Lindworm." It hissed, rage a dark undercurrent, “Long has it been since you began your slumber, You who I cast into the Timeless Abyss. You who helped the slavers of Atlantis hold those who should be free in chains. Guided by mere greed and paltry offerings. And yet despite knowing how profane and sacrilegious an act such actions are you would begin again as soon as you awoke? You would hold a man in unjust chains. Force him into complying with a Destiny that has been averted. You would assume to act as a god. I will cast you down once more!”
Holy shit, maybe she was on their side. The Worm growled, disregarding them as it focused on on the larger serpent.
"LEVIATHAN." Was the last thing they heard before the water wall crashed down on them.
Cindy Aurum, Royal Engineer
"So you got pulled into that guys worst memory? That's gotta suck. Do you know why it happened?" Cindy said as she leaned back on the bed. She was sitting with Noctis in Gladio's hospital room, Iris tucked into Gladio's side and Ignis in a chair between the beds. Noctis had his head in her lap as she scratched the base of his ears, his tail lashing in agitation. He rolled over to look up at her, his new tattoo gleaming slightly. It seemed to react to his mood.
"There are no secrets from the dead. I know how to control that instinctively, except Ardyn is also of my House. Our magic reacted to each other. Gladio was pulled in because of our bond." He murmured just loud enough for the room to hear.
"What's with the House of Death thing anyway? And why do you have a tattoo?" Iris asked, eyes still red from when she arrived.
Noctis sighed and sat up leaning against the head board beside her. The desert winds of her magic brushed against the heat/light/pressure of his making it surge gently against hers. She slipped her hand in his when she felt him tremble slightly.
"Long ago before the founding of Solheim, before the before even, the world that would be Eos was inhabited by great monstrous beings from beyond the boundaries of space and time. These being ruled over humans like we were cattle, like the very darkest stories of slavers and even worse things. For untold eons humanity suffered under the yolk of the Outsiders until the Star Eos revolves around finally had enough. The Star used all it's power and bound the Outsiders to a Bargain. The Star would produce three champions who could use any means to defeat the Outsiders, while the Outsiders could try to kill the Champions. The prize if they won: The World's own soul would bend the knee to the Other-King, He Who Drinks Life. The Star had been building Her power since the first Outsider set foot here. At the striking of the Bargain, the power shattered in three and formed the champions and the Star fell into a slumber she has yet to awaken from. A great and terrible war that lasted for centuries followed. I saw parts of it."
He swallowed thickly and pressed close to her when she squeezed his hand. He had shadows in his eyes that hadn't been there last she saw. He must have seen terrible things. He took a deep breath and continued.
"Eventually the Three hatched a plan to create a great Wall between The World and the Void. The plan needed to be tied to the mortal plain and the best way to do this was to mix there blood with a human to create a Line of people to hold a Duty specific to the One-Of-Three that made them. Before we were Lucis Caelum we were know as the Children of the Moon. Etro, The Moon Mother, Goddess of Death and Magic is the Origin of our Line and I chose to renew that Pact instead of the one with the Draconian."
"How do you know all that?" Gladio rasped from the other bed. Ignis held a cup with a straw in it for him.
"I suddenly knew it the moment I laid eyes on her, it just rushed into my mind. I was strangely calm all through our talk, until she told me you were in trouble." Noctis replied.
"I'm sorry you got hurt saving me. If you hadn't been there it would have killed me wouldn't it?" Gladio asked softly.
Noctis nodded. "The Shield bond works both ways. I....don't know how that started."
"Me neither." Gladio said with a sigh. He raised an eyebrow at Noctis. "So what's with the Cat ears? And.....how long was I out." They looked at each other and Gladio looked even more concerned when Iris just tucked herself closer to him. He obviously hadn't got a good look at her before she was hugging him. There is a big difference between and eleven year old and a a sixteen year old after all. Ignis sighed and leaned forward to explain.
Gladio mouthed 'Nyactis' before shaking his head and turning to them. "You're avoiding telling me how long it was."
"Five years, minus about a month." Cindy said frankly. She wasn't as close to Gladio, there was no need to make the boys or Iris say it. Gladio paled even more than the lack of sunlight made him. Ignis reached over and took the hand closest to him.
"We missed you, my friend."
"It didn't seem like that long." He croaked. His energy was obviously flagging. He wasn't able to stay awake for long yet. They had a rotation so he wouldn't wake up alone even in the middle of the night.
"Do not beat your self up about it, Gladio. You spent five years leaning to do your job better and now you can teach it to your family while you get better. We will be with you every step of the way." Ignis said firmly.
"Listen to him, Gladdy. Just get better please." Iris said in agreement. Noctis nodded and spoke.
"We have a system for substitute Shields now since Iris isn't old enough to go on missions with Amur. Take all the time you need, okay?"
Gladio blinked "Who's Amur?"
Before they could answer Noctis and Ignis's phones both beeped.
"Dad needs to see us, Iris and Cindy can fill you in on the extended royal family. Get some rest, man." Noctis said with a hug that Ignis repeated.
They swiftly left, leaving Gladio to turn to them. After an awkward silence Iris piped up.
“Amur is my Princess. You went down before the Crystal did the announcement I think. Amur was the other cadet with Prom that day. She ended up tossed against the Crystal and she is apparently either Ardyn, but we didn't know that. We have been raiding every Imperial base we could but haven't found anything. Amur's mom came back pregnant from being a POW. The Crystal also declared the Glaive Crowe Altius as a Royal. She's Uncle Regis's sister.”
“Wow. I guess I do need to teach you the Horizon Shield.” Gladio said, shocked. “Who's Princess Crowes Shield?” Iris winced.
“Yeah, about that. Apparently Grandfather didn't die like we thought. After finding two Lucis Caelums, His Majesty had every one in the Citadel take a paternity test. Libertus Ostium is Daddy's half brother.”
Gladio opened and shut his mouth a few times. She had heard the story, it was terrible. How could someone leave that many people to die and to also let their family think they're dead? What an asshole.
“Right so we have an Uncle.” Gladio finally said.
“Yeah, they'd be here but they are on a mission.” Iris replied. Gladio shakes his head and visibly switches tracks.
“So! When did you and Noctis get together?” He said to Cindy with forced cheer. She felt her cheeks flush but answered, willing to distract him.
~~ Three years ago
Cindy jumped at the sudden shattering sound as Noctis warped through the slightly open door of her office. He ducked under her desk with a quick 'hide me', right before her door was abruptly shoved open. She carefully schooled her face as a group of noble girls entered. They looked around without introducing themselves and a particularly snotty looking one stepped forward. Ugh she didn't like Erna Vishkra, she was such a bitch.
“Cindy, my friend. Have you seen prince Noctis?” Erna asked in a saccharine voice.
“Can't say I have, Erna. Did you need him for something?” She was probably trying to con Noctis into a date again. If it was public enough then the paparazzi would go wild with wedding speculation. She'd then try to leverage it into an actual wedding.
“Oh we just had some questions about the changes. His ears are so cute. We thought maybe he would let us pet them. He is the only noble to have them, I bet they are much nicer than the ones that Nif he took pity on has.” She kept chattering as Cindy tuned her out. Noctis was growling lowly as Erna kept going on about Prompto so she flicked him in the head.
“Erna. I'm sure what your saying is important but I need to get these reports done, can you tell me later?” She broke in. Erna looked offended and the girls with her looked at her like she was scum. She might care more if she knew who they were. Not.
“Of course, Cindy dear. I forgot that some people have to work for a living, do excuse us.” She swept out the door with minions after her in a swill of overly perfumed huff. She looked down at Noctis as the door clicked shut.
“Do you think she knows you hate her like hell fire burnin'?” Noctis groaned,
“She's not that smart, thanks for hiding me.” He replied as he stood up and leaned against the desk.
“No problem, Noctis. How long have they been tryin' to pet ya? And does she really think insultin' yer best friend is the way to yer heart?” Noctis's ears went flat against his head.
“Months. The Vishkras are one of the highest ranking families that were untouched by the shake up. I'm mostly sure that it's because they managed not to get caught though. I can't really see them not being involved with Insomnia First.” Cindy wrinkled her nose.
“Ugh, hate those guys. Guards not helpin'?”
Noctis had slumped further and now he whined. “No, I told them not to. I'd look bad if I had them remove nobles.”
“You could at least have the guards keep them from touching ya. Speaking of guards where are yours?” She asked suddenly, his guard detail should have at found them by now.
“I've got trainees, Cor told me to be mean, so I think I'm punishment detail.”
“Those poor cadets.” She snickered. “What's got Erna all riled up lately, anyway? She isn't usually that obvious about her stalking.”
“My coming of age birthday. The event of the decade. Just who will walk in on the arm of the Crown Prince?” He answered sarcastically.
“Oh that. Eighteen huh. Still haven't picked a bit of fluff to decorate your arm?” She asked absently pulling her work back to her. She looked up when Noctis fidgeted but didn't say anything. He smiled shyly, his fangs catching the light a bit.
“I was wondering if you'd be my date actually.”
Princess Crowe Altius Caelum, Kingsglaive
She relaxed slightly as she stepped over the Haven runes. Despite the scourge and daemons being gone the Havens were still useful. Shaking goo out of her jacket, she absently missed the daemons. At least the miasma dissipated. She didn't know what the hell that was but it was dead now.
"Is it always this exciting with you around, Princess?" She turned to the mercenary that had helped them with the monster. She gave her a once over, enjoying the view.
"Only on days ending with a Y, Highwind. What brings the Dragoons to Lucis?" She gave Crowe a look of her own a lazy grin on her face.
"Escort mission, Your Highness. The Oracle would like an audience with His Majesty."
That got the rest of the team to turn from where they were setting up camp.
“The Oracle is in Lucis? Tenebrae's borders have been closed for five years. We have heard nothing in that time.” Crowe asked.
“And I would apologize for that, had it not been necessary, Your Highness.” A voice came out of the darkness. They all turned to it as three figures walked into the Haven. The first was Queen Lunafreya wearing the lightening purple and white of her house. The next was equally recognizable as Loqi Tummelt who was wearing dark gray and green. It was the last that caught their eye though.
A Galahden in full Traditional wear was a sight to see. She wore dawn blue and amber robes with the story of the Sage picked out in fine embroidery and her hair was in so many braids that twisted around each other that you couldn't see where one ended and the other began. Dozens of amber beads were woven into them and she had lightning mark tattoos along the edge of her face.
She recognized those tattoos and really wished she didn't, It took a lot for some one to throw themselves of Ramuh's Scales to be Judged. The Ulric, and she had to be she even had the Clan Kukris sheathed on her waist, smiled sadly at Nyx.
“Hello, Kin of my Kin. I greet you in peace and hope to speak with you when duty allows. I am Gentinia Ulric, mother or Phobos and Deimos.”
Her accent is so old, Crowe thought while trying not to swallow her tongue. Those names!
“I greet you in peace, Kin of my Kin. I am Nyx Ulric, Son of Ishtar. May we speak under the light of the Dawn.” Nyx said thickly.
Crowe nodded to herself sharply and turned to Queen Lunafreya.
“Welcome to Lucis, Your Majesty. My Lord Brother and Nephew will be glad to see you. Our transport is just over the next rise, If we push we can be in insomnia in six hours.”
“Thank you Princess Crowe, I'm afraid our objective requires hast, so we will follow you quickly.”
It was a tense ride to Insomnia, with Nyx snapping at them.
“She can't be from the other branch, both sides agreed not to use those names anymore.”
“Well she can't be that Gentinia can she?”
They made good time and by sunrise they were entering the Citadel. She made her way to her brothers rooms wondering about the uptick in activity. It was so weird having a brother. Almost as weird as being a Princess. She wasn't sure what she thought about Regis telling her that Mors was gleeful about her existence in the Ring. She frowned when she saw Regis in his office, it was barely sunrise, had he pulled an allnighter again? She knocked on the door frame.
“Crowe, you're back early.” Regis said striding over to hug her.
“Brought some guests that need to speak to you. What's with all the activity? It wasn't another do damn assassination attempt was it.” She asked, returning the hug. She flopped into the chair in front of his desk when he let go. He sighed as he sat in the other chair instead of behind his desk.
“Gladio woke up a week ago. But not before he and Noctis were pulled into the memories of Amur's father being tortured. They both have crucifixion scars.” He said with a swallow.
“What the fuck? How?” She demanded, her nephew had what?
“Gladio's coma was caused by one of his ancestors pulling him somewhere to learn how to Shield Caelums from their own magic in exchange for helping his King. Amur's father is apparently the Accursed. He got caught by the Church of Bahamut. I sent Team Double D, along with Amur and Titus, to rescue him. They turned up on the docks last night despite being on Angelguard the minute before. He's...not well. I don't think he will be for a long time.”
“Holy Shit, you found the Sage?” Crowe asked in shock, maybe Gentinia was the Gentinia if they had found her King.
Regis nodded. “Harper told me that Galahd remembers him.” Crowe squinted at him.
“What aren't you telling me?” Her brother looked sheepish.
“He's the ex-Chancellor of Niflheim. The one that went missing.” She considered that for a moment before shaking her head. “No one deserves crucifixion, Regis, not even Imperials.”
“I've already granted him asylum when Amur asked. He's not coherent enough to make decisions on his own.” He said with anger in his voice.
“I might have something to help him. Maybe. Are we going to kick out the Dragon Temple now?” They were starting to have two conversations at once.
“What do you have? Not just yet, we will let hem make the first move. And they will move.
“One of the people we picked up looks like she walked out of the Sage's time, talks like it too. Why are they going to move?”
“Just who did you pick up? Noctis broke our Pact with Bahamut and renewed Our Blood Pact with Etro.”
“Holy! The Moon Mother?” Crowe choked out.
“Yes, I see you know more than me. Who did you bring back?”
“The Oracle.” Now it was Regis's turn to choke.
The first meeting between the Queen of Tenebrae and the King of Lucis in thirteen years was a quiet thing that would have repercussions for centuries to come. During this meeting they spoke of many things. The first thing they agreed on was the end of the Prophecy. No longer would they abide by the edicts Bahamut had given them. Especially with what Gentinia had to say. He had agreed to let Sir Ulric stay when she asked always happy to help family reconnect. He had also called His son, Ignis and Amur to the room to listen along wit him and Crowe.
That hadn't went well. When Gentinia had seen the three of the m walk in together she had scrambled away so quickly that she knocked over her chair. She fell into a language he recognized as Old Sol. He didn't understand it and was confused when Noctis knelt where he was and held his hands up.
“Lady Gentinia, I am not Somnus. My name is Noctis. I'm not him.”
It had taken a while for her to calm down and even now she flinched if Noctis or Ignis got to close to her. She also couldn't keep her eyes off of Amur, who sat beside her in support.
Noctis sat beside him and explained what had happened.
“I don't know how or why but Ignis, Gladio, and I are identical to the Mystic, his Shield and the High Priest of the time. Each of them had a hand in Ardyn's execution.”
“How. How do you know that if you aren't Somnus reborn?” Gentinia asked with a voice like the hush of snow at night. Noctis turned his hands to show her his palms and she went dead white.
“There are no secrets from the dead, Lady Gentinia. My Shield and I lived it from the Sage's view and felt everything he did.”
She had closed her eyes at that before starting her story. She was Gentinia Ulric, Mother of Phobos and Deimos. When her children had been mostly grown Ramuh had come to her and asked her to enter the Sage's service instead of Challenging her brother for the Head of the Clan.
“My magic had always preferred to be an ice storm instead of a more normal storm, so allowing myself to be Sh-The Glacians mortal Avatar made sense. She helped the five of us many times during out journey and even gave her blessing when King Ardyn married Dahlia. It all started going wrong when Somnus was infected. Ardyn had been getting sicker and weaker as we neared the end of the quest. When Somnus came down with the scourge we all thought nothing of Ardyn healing him. We were attacked by bandits as Ardyn did so and he was struck in the chaos. His leg was pierced by a spear and it broke his hip. It would have healed fine if he had gotten proper medical attention.”
She stopped here to take a breath obviously still deeply affected by what had happened.
“After we dispatched the bandits we found that Ardyn's blood was black. We were all concerned but since Ardyn was in his right mind, put it down to a side affect of his healing gift. Or so I thought. Dahlia and I believed in Ardyn but Somnus and Gilgamesh did not. I...don't know what happened between them coming for me and waking up bound on my knees in front of the cross. They had me in magic suppressing chains and made me watch as they killed my Queen and her unborn child. Then they tried to make me renounce Ardyn. I was beaten severely when I refused. I was on my knees as they nailed Ardyn to the cross and they meant to make me watch as he died slow. I did the only thing I could and threw everything I had into one spell, powerful enough to over ride the chains. My last sight was seeing the ice spear piercing his heart. Mercy was all I could do. And it didn't even work.
She chafed her arms and looked down at her hands, before squaring her shoulders.
“I was told this by Ramuh after I woke up in this time, but when Prince Noctis put on the Ring of the Lucii. Something jarred loose and The Glacian was no longer using my body as a puppet. I had sought Sanctuary with the Oracle and held myself together to get to Tenebrae. I threw my self on the first Alter of Judgment I could find.”
Nyx Ulric, Kingsglaive
He wove threw the crowd at the Rock of Ravatogh, keeping an eye out for security concerns, but his his mind kept circling back to the latest revelations. His several times great grand mother was alive and had been a prisoner in her own body for two thousand years. The Glacian was a traitor to Eos. The Scales of Justice had weighed her actions and found her wanting. And the Oracle was going to announce it to all of Eos.
He hadn't had much time to speak with his Grandmother but it was nice to have blood family around him again. Even if she was the mother of the twins that had shattered Galahd into the shape it is now during a fight between them. He was descended from Phobos the Islandbreaker and as far as he knew the other half of the Clan, those descended from Deimos, hadn't made it out of the Fall. They were on the side of the islands that was invaded first after all.
Nyx settled into his guard position keeping half an ear on Queen Lunafreya's speech. She told the story of the Sundering of Solheim, when three Houses had joined together to end a century of war brought on by betrayal. She apologized to Titan for her family binding him. He watched as she shattered the Trident that had been the symbol of the Oracle since the Sage's time. There was a hush as if the Star could not believe what had just happened before the shards started glowing. Suddenly there were ranks of ghosts standing on the stage behind her. One of the caressed her face and turned to face the front.
With a strangely echoing whistle suddenly there was a ghost train pulling to a stop in front of the stage. Queen Lunafreya glowed an eerie dark light and when she stopped, she had black work tattoos that looked like wrought iron down the left side of her body. A strange look came over her face and she turned to the Rock.
“Ifrit the Infernian, First Spark of Life, Father of Humanity, Flame Undivided, is dead. Let the past go and renew the fire. Let the Flame be Relit.” Her voice echoed as if from inside a tunnel and the Rock erupted.
Despite the screams of the crowd the pyroclastic flow did not reach them, instead spiraling up and up and up, twisting and shrieking as it went. It spun in mid air forming a ball that slowly hardened into stone, before cracking like an egg. The being that stepped out did not look like the Infernian.
It was vaguely humanoid but that was all it had in common with it's former self . The body was made completely of white flame and hurt to look at.
“People of our Star, I present to you the Flame Reborn Agni the Infernian.”
Later as the crowds were breaking up he was sitting in a room with most of the Royalty of Eos wondering how this was his life.
“You know we are technically Royalty as well, Grandson.” Gentinia said with a smirk, when he mentioned that to her.
Before he could reply a Guard ran into the room and made for His Majesty. Everyone stood when the King went white. He quickly had someone set up a screen they could all see. Nyx instantly wished he hadn't. It was a livestream of Tenebrae. Of a slaughter. People in red robes with flames stitched on them where murdering people in the street. The most horrifying part was watching those bodies crackle with some sick purple energy and stumble to their feet. The undead would then start attacking anyone not in a robe. Marching at the front were two people, a male and female, both tall and clad in armor. His was the same sick purple as the energy raising the dead and hers was blue. As they watched the male set up some type of ritual in the courtyard of Fenestala Manor. The woman was setting every building and person she came across on fire until she found a Changed. That poor person she dragged to the ritual circle. As she did the camera was zoomed in and his heart stopped and his ears roared.
“Selena?” He whispered.