Autumn Twilight – Part 01
* Spoiler Warning *
The first three episodes of my "Year of Eos" have been side adventures not related to the main story and have been almost entirely spoiler-free up until now. However this final part focuses on Ignis and his time between Chapters 13 and 14 of the game. Ergo I must warn you that there are massive spoilers incoming during this story. I apologize to fans of my series who have not yet completed the game but in order to tell the best story possible involving Ignis, this was the only setting I could think up.
Please do not read further unless you have completed Final Fantasy XV's Main Story.
Darkness. Same as the day before.
For Ignis the unending night had begun a few days earlier than the rest of the world. He rolled out of bed and reached for his cane. A few moments later and the alarm that was meant to stir him sounded. He reached instinctively for the device whose position he knew by heart and stopped it. His body had acclimated to the strict routine his day had become and he'd beaten the clock almost every day for a year.
Though his condition caused him to be for all intents and purposes blind there was some sight to him. He could make out the general level of light in a given area and could occasionally see fuzzy shapes. This didn't help him much. By this time he'd simply learned to use his other senses to get around. However knowing where the light was served as a crucial survival tool in this new world where the sun never rose and the night was full of monsters.
He'd memorized his small caravan which served as his house in this new world. It wasn't very big but that was actually a plus as far as he was concerned. He had his bed, the small fold out desk, the kitchenette area and the doorway leading out into the Hammerhead garage. The former popular service station had been fenced in and lit up using every generator Cindy could crank out. Fuel was too precious these days to use for much else than these generators but a few vehicles still ran to trade supplies between the few scarce human outposts.
Lestallum was the new capitol of human civilization, the nearly limitless energy from the meteor, coupled with the surrounding farms and strategically viable positioning made it a natural choice. Hammerhead was a smaller outpost that now served as the headquarters for the hunters, Meldacio had long since been abandoned.
It was here that Ignis had been living ever since their fateful journey to Gralea, the Imperial capitol city. The seven years that had passed since had been an endless stream of nearly identical days doing the essential tasks for survival. And these tasks were made the more monotonous by the absence of his friends.
Noctis disappeared within Gralea and had not been seen since. Most assumed he was dead, but Ignis, Gladiolus and Prompto still help out some hope – though each passing month chipped away at it little by little. As for those two, Ignis saw them on occasion – in the loosest sense of the word, of course. However their duties often kept the three far apart. Ignis felt as thought the loss of Noctis had unhinged their brotherhood; perhaps they stayed apart intentionally to avoid confronting their loss. Gladiolus was always out on the hunt with Cor, the two serving as defenders of Lestallum. Prompto had been doing technical work and running supplies between outposts. As for Ignis, he'd elected to remain at Hammerhead and do what he did best – cook. It was a boring life, but it was his role to fill.
Today began no different than any other. He exited to the caravan and sensed the ever-present bloom of lights in the outpost. Whenever he set foot outside the soundproofed caravan he could always hear the not-so distant rancor of the prowling daemon hordes, now given dominion over this "world of ruin". It used to unnerve him, but now it had become just part of the norm. The hand of death had been upon his shoulder for so long he almost welcomed it. But he would, at least for now, go on for another day.
He started up the grill and began preparing breakfast. Eggs and bacon were in short supply like everything else, and breakfast amounted to a loaf concoction with Anuk meat and mixed (and canned) vegetables. There wasn't even anything to bread it with and the only sauces and spices at his disposal were always saved for dinner. Breakfast was fuel to get you through the day. Lunch was a formality. Dinner was a reward for the day's work and the only meal for which any frivolity was allowed.
"Smells pretty good," came a familiar voice from the opposite side of the grill.
"Talcott, here to service your truck?" Ignis asked, handing him a plate of grub.
"Yeah. Prompto is with me too, but you know him, he's busy chatting up Cindy," Talcott laughed.
Ignis smiled slightly. "It is good to know that some things haven't changed in this new world. How are things at Galdin Quay?"
Talcott moved slightly away from Ignis, there was a noticeable shift in his aura.
"Well... the last of the holdouts there were finally forced out. They took all the fish they could manage and fled to Lestallum," Talcott said. "You shoulda heard Coctura fussing the entire time. I'm pretty sure she would have fought off all the daemons with her frying pan, but it just became too hard to defend, even on the water like it was."
"Another outpost gone. Lestallum must be full to bursting at this point," Ignis said.
Talcott took a bite out of the loaf and made a polite, but clearly exaggerated sound of appreciation. "This is pretty good, Ignis."
"You are kind to lie to me like that," Ignis replied. "Hopefully you will stay for dinner, which is sure to be considerably better."
"Depends on how long Cindy takes," Talcott explained. "We gotta haul the last bit of this food over to Lestallum before it goes south. As you know we really can't afford to waste any food. If you'd like I might have a few Leiden Pepper that I could part with."
Ignis shook his head. He would make do with what he grew himself, little though it was.
A more energetic voice, though significantly older one called out to him from afar. "Hey Specs!"
Prompto had finally noticed him out and about. He approached Ignis at a sort of half-run and came to a stop at the edge of the grill. Somehow in light of everything he had remained just as chipper as ever- or perhaps that was because he'd just spoken with Cindy.
"You're getting in early today, Prompto," Ignis said.
"Yeah well, you heard about the Quay right? We were up most of the night taking care of that. We won't actually go to bed until we reach Lestallum, though I might take a nap here for a bit," Prompto said. "But if you have a moment I'd like to discuss something kind of important with you."
"I have to cook breakfast for around 50 people. Well, 52 now I suppose," Ignis replied. "But you are free to speak to me here if you like."
True to his word, he set a completed loaf on the heating rack and started cooking a second. His hands were moving with practiced fluidity and natural grace, but the rest of his body was almost comically still.
"It blows my mind that you know when it's done cooking without seeing it," Prompto said.
"There are other clues. Firmness of the meat and so forth. But at this point it's all been memorized," Ignis explained, not wanting to get into a long and at this point very old conversation about his condition. "So you were saying?"
Prompto nodded. "Right, right, sorry. So we lost Cape Caem last year, the Quay just now. We're losing our eyes to the sea and it's making our limited supply line even worse. There are only three outposts left now. Hammerhead, Old Lestallum and Formuth Garrison."
The last one stung a bit as it was the last place that welcomed anybody from the Empire. Considering it was the Empire's madness that had put them all in this situation, the holdouts at Formuth were on their own. Understandably the people were not in a very forgiving mood. Some tried to strip their former identities and merge in with the local populace, but they didn't often go unnoticed for very long. Ignis's mind turned to Aranea, Biggs and Wedge – enemies turned allies toward the end of their journey.
"If we lose Old Lestallum, we lose our foothold to the sea. That river is our lifeline at this point. We won't lose water cause it channels into Lestallum's pipes but transport and seafood would be lost," Prompto said. "Gladiolus, Cor, Talcott and I are going to head there and try to fortify it. We're assembling a team. And there's even been talk of maybe trying to extend the olive branch to the Imperials, but obviously a lot of people are against it."
Ignis nodded. "I understand. But I'm a cook and I'm needed here."
"Specs, these guys can live off the canned rations for a week. If we don't get this fortification up we could lose everything," Prompto said.
"And what exactly is to be my role, Prompto?" Ignis asked. "It's true that I can still fight. I can still use magic. But there are far more capable warriors and hunters out there besides me."
"But nobody else can strategize like you can. Ignis you're not just a great chef, you're also one of the best tacticians in the world right now. We have limited supplies and unlimited problems. We need somebody like you helping us," Prompto said.
Ignis folded his arms. He didn't like to be immodest, but this was certainly true. There were few left who could handle such a mentally taxing puzzle as this. And after all he'd been teaching Cindy a few of his tricks. Maybe they could survive without him for a while.
"If you can convince Cindy to let me go then I'll come with you," Ignis said. "I won't leave the others in a rut."
Prompto patted Ignis's shoulder. "Don't you worry. I'm sure she'll understand."
He turned to head back to Cindy's garage, but stopped and let out a small sigh. He rubbed the back of his head and let out a small strange noise somewhere between a cough and a hiccup.
"It'll be good to have you back, man."