WARNING: Suicide/Self-Sacrifice in this chapter. You've been warned.
Chapter XIII: Dawn
"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."
The powers of the fal'Cie rested within me. I sat upon the steps of the Citadel, my mind, my body, my soul broken down. Every time I blinked the gate was there, souls of the dead locked away. A true nightmare of a power. I raised my brand up in the rain, bringing forth Prompto, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Ravus before me. Their bodies still passed out from the agonizing pain, I focused the magic in my brand to remove their brands. Small orbs of light emerged from my brand and floated over to theirs. "Your tasks are complete. You are no longer l'Cie," I spoke to them.
The corruption melted away. I pulled a feather from a phoenix out of my pocket and blew it over to them. The sparks from the white feather fell upon all four of them, allowing them to awake.
Prompto was the first to get up. "Noct?"
I nodded. "Yeah. It's me."
Gladio stood up. "What happened?"
"Ardyn is finished," I answered. "Almost."
Gladio and Prompto helped Ignis up. "Almost? What do you mean?" Ignis asked.
Ravus was awake, but could hardly move. "Where…Is…Stella?" he moaned. I got up and pulled him over to the wall where he could sit up.
"She's…She's dead," I said, as much as it pained me to say it.
He sighed. "I…Hope she finds peace." He fell back asleep again.
I turned to Prompto, Ignis, and Gladio, my heart throbbing with dread. "Guys, I have…Something important to tell you."
"What is it, Noct?" Gladio said.
"I…I realized that the only way to make sure Ardyn doesn't come back is to…Is for me…" I gasped out, tears flowing out, mixing with the rain on my cheeks. "Damn why is this so hard…I have to die…By my own hand."
The three of them stared at me in disbelief. "No," Ignis whispered.
Prompto shook his head. "There has to be another way, Noct, no way are we letting anyone else die because of Ardyn."
Gladio's hand balled into a fist. "First Stell now you? I won't accept it."
"Guys…I thought about it over and over, I have to do my duty as your king. And this is the only way to make sure Ardyn doesn't return. Without him knowing peace, the world will never know true peace," I stated. "I must perform this sacrifice."
The three of them only stared at me in silence.
"Your mind is made up then?" Ignis choked out. "You're sure about this?"
I nodded. "Yes, Iggy. It is." I walked over to him. "Even if you're not by my side, you'll always be in my heart." He held out his hand to me, and I took it. I could spot tears dripping down from his glasses as he smiled at me one last time.
I turned to Gladiolus. "Gladio," I could see him trying to blink back tears. "A loyal shield, and a great friend, till the very end. Thank you."
He chuckled and ruffled my hair. "You'll always be that little Noct who fell on his butt in training to me."
"Heh." I shook my damp hair out and turned to Prompto. "Prompto?"
His lower lip was shaking. "You…Were the best friend anyone could have, Noct," he said while crying. "I re…I remember when we used to walk home after school to the arcade, every Friday. It was the one thing I looked forward to the most. Thank you Noct, for giving me a place where I belong."
I gave him a quick hug. "You're welcome." I stepped back on the steps. "Prompto, Gladio, Iggy. I love you all." I paused for a moment then continued. "Walk tall, my friends."
"Your Majesty," all three of them said as they bowed to me.
I took a good last look at them before turning and walking into the Citadel. As I took my steps towards my throne, I thought about everything in my life that I was grateful for. My friends, Stella, Dad, the Kingsglaive, the friends I made along the way. I would miss them dearly, and hold them forever within my heart.
I thought of the picture in my pocket. A happy memory, that's all I needed. Thanks…for the memories.
When I was in that Royal Tomb, a poem was upon the wall. It spoke to me like no other, especially in this moment as I ascended to my throne.
Before me another illusion of Regis and Aulea appeared, holding hands and looking at me. I blinked back the incoming tears as we walked together towards the throne room.
"God sleeps," I began to sing. "And his children lit a fire which they cannot extinguish and he will never be able to awake." Pushing open the doors to the throne room, I continued my song, giving me the strength to continue on with my task. Dad placed his hand on my shoulder, and for a moment it felt real. "Every tragedy divides, before our very eyes, the things which should be loved." Mom placed her hands on my cheeks and kissed my forehead. The two of them disappeared. I sat down on my throne. The dim blue light above shone upon me. Closing my eyes, I saw the gate again. Raising my arm, my brand shimmered for the last time. "Cie'th…l'Cie…Crystallized l'Cie…You all are free now. Your brands be gone!"
A powerful ring of blue blasted out. I felt the magic go everything across the world. Every single l'Cie in existence returned to normal.
"And in this endless night, in despair, he can see the dawn that will awake him in the next morning," I whispered. There were worse fates than dying, I told myself. Summoning forth Sword of the Father, I grasped it with two hands. My hands shook, my palms sweating and making it harder to keep a firm grip.
I didn't want to die. I pointed the blade towards me, a blue glow emitting from the blade. "Goodbye," I whispered, stabbing the sword into me.
Flashes of Etro panged me as I lost all feeling in my legs, my arms, and my body. My arms fell limp at my sides. I could not speak words in the searing pain that choked me.
Eventually, I could move no more.
"Dad?" young Noctis greeted from the doorway. Regis set down his pen to look upon his dear son.
"Can I ask you something?" he asked.
Was it about his brand again? Regis felt a sense of dread within him. "Yes, Noct." He looked at his guards. "Please leave us."
The two Crownsguard nodded and left, closing the door behind them.
Regis stood up from his desk and gestured to the window seat. "Now, what is on your mind, Noct?"
The boy looked out the window. "What you said to Iggy…Is that all that entails to becoming a good king?"
Regis blinked in surprise. He was not expecting that. With a smile, he also looked out the window. The hustle and bustle of the streets of Insomnia was a thing he fought for in this tireless war. "There's more to it, Noct. Being a king, you must always put your people first. Always think of what your actions do for them. Please, tell me, what you would do if you were king. Imagine a man stole an apple from a merchant, how would you deal with him?"
The boy closed his eyes in thought. "I would…Help him. Stealing is wrong but he only stole because he was hungry."
"And how would you help him?"
"Hmmm…Help him be able to feed himself. Like uh, oh! Teach him how to fish!" Noct smiled widely.
"What if someone stole priceless jewelry? Then what?"
"Why would they steal that? Is it greed?" the boy tilted his head in confusion. "I'd make them return the jewels and uh, oh community service for them."
Regis couldn't help but smile at the innocence in his son. "What about a bitter man who treated everyone poorly?"
"I'd uh, ask him why he did it. Maybe he's lonely; maybe he's mad at something. Perhaps I could help in some way, grant people a wish."
"What if someone intentionally harmed a classmate?"
"Then I would find out why and help them. They have to get help right? Even if it means they have to go to jail to get it."
"A king always makes justly decisions, to benefit all. We kings make our own sacrifices to protect people. Etro wants us to protect the people she is fond of." Regis placed a hand on Noctis' shoulder and pulled him close into an embrace. "Never let those ideas go, my son. You will be a great king one day. No matter what, I will always be with you, to guide you, but in the end, you make your own choices in life."
Where was I? Where did I go? This felt…cold. The Realm of Sleep was like a lull. This realm felt empty. My body felt light as a feather.
Opening my eyes, I saw Stella before the gate to the Unseen Realm. Upon it was Etro, asleep. I pointed my forearm up. "Awaken!" I declared to the goddess, transferring the magic of the fal'Cie into her so she may awaken from her slumber.
Ardyn appeared before me, his corruption eclipsing his entire body. Stella with a simple nod moved over to me. The two of us summoned our glaives together, glowing with a strong white light of the dead, and moved forward to strike at him one last time. Rendering him powerless to do anymore, he could only smirk at my presence. This was what he wanted.
Etro's eyes opened, and she moved her hands. "Rest now, my child."
His brand burned away, and Stella and I threw our glaives at him, the blades pushing him into the cracked open gate. Stella and I moved to enter the gate, but it closed on us.
Stella managed to touch the gate, but I began to fall away, doomed to return to the mortal realm. I reached out to her. She extended her hand, and I grasped it.
"It's finally over," I said to her.
Within hours of the blue light blast from the Citadel, the sky began to lighten to an orange glow, then yellow, then blue.
Iris Amicitia stood with Aranea Highwind and Talcott Hester at the diner in Hammer Head. "Look, Talcott," Iris pointed to the sky. "Daylight has returned."
He jumped up for joy. "Wow, King Noctis did it!"
Aranea smiled. "He did, he really did."
Cidney Aurum and her grandfather were tinkering in the garage when the sun shone. Cid looked up, a grin on his face. "Well Reggie, your kid did good. You would be proud."
Cidney pulled herself away from the truck and went out to bask in the warmth of the sun. "Well ain't that a wondrous sight for sore eyes."
The Kingsglaive, Crowe Altius, Libertus Ostium, Pelna Khara, Monica Elshett, and Cor Leonis, all stood by the gate to Insomnia, watching the sunset.
"You know, I bet Nyx wished he was here to see this," Libertus said.
Crowe nodded. "Yeah, he would want to see this."
Cor smiled. "His Majesty truly has grown up."
Standing at the main entrance of the Citadel, Prompto Argentum, Ignis Scientia, and Gladiolus Amicitia admired the warmth of the sun moving up on the horizon. Ravus Nox Fleuret was awake and able to move again. He joined them on the steps.
"So he has done it," Ravus praised His Majesty.
"Never had I seen a sunrise so beautiful before," Gladio said.
"I can sense the radiance," Ignis commented.
"All Cie'th…and l'Cie are free now, free to see the sun through unclouded eyes," sighed Prompto.
The sky was painted all colors. Dark blue, to purple, to light blue, to pink, to yellow, to orange, all blurred together.
Ignis heard what seemed to be footsteps behind him. He turned around, cane supporting him. "Gentlemen," he said to the sun gazers, a smile growing upon his face.
The goddess looked upon the two lovers before her, supposed to pass onto the Unseen Realm.
These two pure hearts, gave their lives for her, to fix her mistakes when she could not. It wasn't fair of her to place that burden on them. She shouldn't have.
She couldn't bear the guilt of forcing them to pass on to undo her interference before. Her strength was weaning again, soon she would fall back asleep, unable to do anything more. But her conscience was becoming clear. She had to fix this. She couldn't let Noctis and Stella die…Not yet. They still had fulfilling lives ahead of them.
This would be the last time she ever interfered. The world must be free of her own actions.
"Please, I beg thee for forgiveness," she whispered to the two young youths trying to reach out to the door. With the last ounce of magic dear Noctis gave her to awaken, she turned it into a new magic, one full of live and love. The magic seeped out of her palm towards their hearts, healing their wounds and sending them back to the Realm of the Living.
"For placing this unfair burden on thee, I grant thy last gift. I will see you again one day, but not now," she said to them as their bodies disappeared in a light. Her body felt weak.
The goddess fell asleep on the gate, only her power seeping out to grant passage to the realm of the dead forevermore.
"Noctis?" Stella's calm and quiet voice called out to me in the void. "Noctis, wake up."
My eyes opened. My body was stiff and aching. Before I was the face of Stella Nox Fleuret, her lips curled into a smile.
"Stell?" I asked, all my senses returning to me at once. I was back in the throne room, the blue light feeling too bright to my sensitive eyes. I noticed I was on the floor, my glaive stabbed into the back of the throne. "Where are we? Is this the afterlife?"
She shook her head. "We're alive, Noct."
We…were alive. I was alive. She was alive.
Putting my hand behind her head, I leaned her close to me to kiss her sweet lips. Her hands went to my collar, gripping so tightly as if she didn't want to let go. Pulling away for fresh air, I looked around. "Did I…Did I do it?" I asked.
"Yes, come on, the sun might be coming up by now," she said, pulling me up. She dragged me through the Citadel by my hand. My heart pounded in anticipation of the sunrise. My mind spun at the revelation. Stella was alive, I was alive. We still had time in this world together.
We ran out to the main hall, where Ignis, Prompto, Gladio, and Ravus awaited for us. "Ravus!" Stella cried out, releasing my hand and running to hug her brother.
"Sister," he whispered, hugging her back.
"Noct! Stell!" Prompto exclaimed. "You guys…You guys are okay. Punch me, I must be dreaming."
I lightly slugged him in the arm. "Not dreaming man, not by a longshot." The blonde embraced me, then Ignis, then Gladio.
"Group hug!" Gladio laughed.
I laughed as I was squeezed and my hair ruffled.
"But how, exactly?" Ignis asked as we released from the group hug.
I shrugged, thinking of the words Etro said to me. "The goddess wasn't ready to guide us, yet."
Ravus, for the first time, had a wide grin on his face. "She blessed you for your sacrifices."
Prompto was crying again. "Whatever the reason, I'm glad you're back with us." He grinned at me. "Oh! You have to see this!" He pulled me to the exit. Greeting me was the light sky. Daylight has begun anew again.
"It's…Wow," I said. No words could express it. Stella came over and leaned on my shoulder.
"Yeah, wow," she whispered. My hand mindlessly stroked her hair as we all stood there, watching the sunrise.
Standing before the mirror, I adjusted the strap on my shoulder. My hair had grown out and was no longer a spiked mess but now a long flowing mess.
"You ready, Your Majesty?" Prompto asked me, wearing a cleaned up Kingsglaive uniform with golden adornments. The crest of Lucis was on his chest. He prepared the camera in his hands.
I smiled. "Yes, Sir Prompto." I traced a silver filigree crown sitting upon its pillow with my fingertips. "I'm ready."
"The bride is on her way to the Cathedral," Ignis said in my earpiece.
"Then we're off," I responded, heading out the door with Prompto. Gladio greeted me on the way to the main hall of the Cathedral of Light. Ravus bowed to me, leaving to go walk his sister down the aisle to the altar. Ignis and Gladio were both my best men, and Prompto was taking a lot of pictures alongside the professional cameraman.
But I could only stare at the bride coming down the walkway.
Sitting upon my throne, now moved to the Grand Hall, I had Stella, my wife, sitting on my lap. Her beautiful, white wedding dress flowed to the floor, but I didn't care, I just stared at her gentle face. Her golden hair was pulled back, but still down. Her fingers traced my hair down to my shoulder. I pulled out of my jacket the photo I took with me and handed it to her. "Here, Stell, a memory I will always cherish. I want you to have it," I told her as she took it into her fingertips carefully.
A single tear was shed from her eye. "Thank you, Noct."
I lifted her chin up to look her in the eyes. "You're welcome, Stell." I pulled her in for another kiss.
"Ahem," Gladio cleared his throat. We pulled away from each other, laughing.
Ignis kneeled down with a pillow resting on his hands, the silver crown resting upon it. "You're forgetting something, Your Majesty."
Stella got up to allow me to stand. She lifted the ear filigree piece up to place behind my ear.
My royal retinue standing to the side, I stepped forward to face my subjects. Everyone all turned to face me, drinks in their hands, Ravus in front of them all. Raising a glass to me, they all said: "Long live the King."
Stella, Prompto, Gladio, Ignis, and Ravus all kneeled.
The people bowed to me. And I bowed back.
The world entered a new era under the reign of Noctis Lucis Caelum CXIII, dubbed thee the King of the Light.
And the goddess slept soundly, dreaming of the humans she was fond of dearly.
Written by Dark-Mage-XIII
Edited by Dark-Mage-XIII, xPiki, Randy, & Kappa King.
Dedicated to: Lexalice, Ivee, HeathenSnow, moist, Starky, Romanx33, RaidenF, SatuD2, Separate-The-Earth, and every single one of my reviewers: Kitani, Anon, AveryScarlet, AcexDeuce, Guest, bluegamer3355, Taff, thientrang161, & Lyxine.
I do feel sad this story is ending after all the time I spent being in Noct's head and just getting even more sympathetic for this poor guy and his friends.
This ending was hard for me to decide because I did feel very sad and depressed after FFXV's ending and about halfway through this project I made the decision to have it end this way, despite it may be a controversial decision. I am very firm in the theme of death but at the same time to me it made more sense for Etro to be this merciful since she was like this in FF13. I wanted to give Noct and Stell a break where in canon neither of them and Luna did.
There is going to be a oneshot sequel after this detailing the aftermath before Noct and Stella's happy wedding (because oh boy it's actually much more bittersweet)
ONTO THE REVIEWS:
AcexDeuce: YOU'RE WELCOME FOR THE GIFT. THANK YOU FOR READING SINCE THE FIRST CHAPTER IN FEBRUARY :D
thientrang161: Does this chapter answer your question? :D (as a sidenote Phoenix Downs in my head work as curative for energy/being knocked out from concussions, it can't heal major wounds like Stella's.)
AveryScarlet: The 10 year skip definitely was baffling as a choice to me, especially since you couldn't even explore it so I fixed it. I thank you so much for your kind reviews and support!
HeathenSnow: i'm not throwing people out the window...yet. (And yes I know its you)
Anon: I knew that Stell's death was coming and I had to build the anticipation somehow. ;D I do want to include more lore about Bhunivelze in the oneshot sequel because he is interesting in the mythos of Fabula Nova Chrysalis. Hope you enjoyed the "final" chapter of this story!
Thank you all who helped me on this writing journey. I never thought I would finish a fanfic this large and huge within a year. Have a Happy New Year to all of you!