Autumn Twilight – Part 10

Ignis breathed heavily as he helped Cor push aside the great stone door into the ancient Tomb. There was a poetic irony in the only Royal Tomb that was still deemed relatively safe was the very first one they'd visited all those years ago when their journey began. The Tomb of The Wise held a strange significance beyond its historical value – it was here where they first met Cor, and here where Noctis truly began to understand the truth of his father's will, and accept his death.

"So, Ignis, what do you plan on doing?" Gladiolus asked. "You just want to pray to the Old King and hope he fixes everything or what?"

"Perhaps offer a sacrifice of sorts to give things a bump in the right direction," Ignis explained. "They blinded me and in doing so gave me power to contend with Ardyn. Who knows what else they might do with the proper leverage."

"Iggy," Prompto said softly, a sudden moment of clarity crossing his mind. "Please tell me you are not thinking of doing what I think you are."

"We've established the terms of the Old Kings," Ignis said. "At this point I can be of little more use to you."

"Ignis," Cor said firmly. "You can't be serious. I understand how you must be feeling now. But answering the death of those under your command with your own is not a way to solve anything."

"Normally I would agree, but in this case-" Ignis turned in the direction of the tomb, reaching his hand out and grasping at the ancient stone sarcophagus. "The stakes are a bit different."

A faint light pierced the fog of Ignis's darkened eyes. He could clearly see all for a moment, his comrades auras shining in place of their physical form. There was a strange sensation of being ripped from his body and in the haze of what followed Ignis could barely discern the whispers of his comrades. They still had a presence in the other world, but where Ignis was now was somehow detached from them.

His mind went back to that day he'd protected Noctis. The rain washing over him, the last sight he ever saw clearly was Noctis's battered form beneath the heel of the traitor Ardyn. The feel of the cold stone against his cheek and the wet hair clinging to his skin, it was all so vivid. It was as if he was reliving that moment, and in a sense he was.

A new figure took shape before him. Ignis could see clearly the visage of an Old King. The presence was familiar, a member of the line of Lucis who Ignis knew in more than the tattered pages of history.

"King Regis?" Ignis asked.

"Your struggle is not is vain, Ignis Scientia," came the thunderous voice of the former king. "You seek my son, but know that he is on a journey of his own design."

"Where is he?" Ignis pleaded. "Please take me to him. Let me help him!"

"His is a journey that must be completed on its own time. The world may dwindle but he shall return in due course," Regis explained. "He will return in his own time, at Angelsgard."

Ignis's head sunk, a new wave of powerlessness overtaking him. "But there are people we must protect here and now. Your Grace, you must give us some way to protect what we have! What good is a king without his kingdom?"

"I know what you propose, Ignis. But I would not have the means to grant it to you. My son must complete his task in its own time," Regis replied.

"If you would not give me power to help the others, nor return your son to us then at least restore the power of the Kingsglaive. Give us the chance to fight," Ignis said. "You know what I offer in return."

"My son will need you. All of you," Regis replied. "Your life is not yours to offer."

"It is the moment he completes his duty," Ignis said. "When Noctis takes his place as King, not merely a prince, then he will no longer be my charge. At that moment I would offer my life. And I know the others would as well, though I wouldn't dare speak for them."

Regis seemed to consider this.

"You will see the bitter task through to the end, knowing that it will mean your life?" Regis asked.

"Every one of us has known that our lives are forfeit," Ignis replied. "This is a merely a formality as far as I am concerned."

Regis nodded.

"Very well. The king yet lives. My son still has the power and it will flow through him to the Kingsglaive. They will begin to reform soon, Ignis. Take heart and take care, Ignis. For your resolve will be rewarded," Regis explained.

Ignis returned from his trance, Gladiolus's firm hand shaking him awake.

"Iggy! You conked your head pretty hard on that stone. Are you alright?" He asked.

"Dear gods, I think I've gone blind," Ignis retorted sarcastically.

"Well your terrible sense of humor is fine," Prompto sighed.

"I gather you've made some sort of deal with the Old Kings. But you're still alive," Cor commented.

"For the time being," Ignis explained. "The power of the Kingsglaive will be re-awoken. You should prepare to receive them. With the power of the Kings, we may yet have a fighting chance."

"And what did you promise in return?" Prompto asked.

"Nothing that was not already mine to give," Ignis explained. "Noctis is alive. We must prepare to receive him. And that will mean that we must all continue on, even as the darkness sets in upon us."

"Where is he? Did they say?" Gladiolus asked.

Ignis shook his head. "We are not meant to know. I know that he will return to us someday, and that his return shall be at Angelsgard. Other than that, we must fend for ourselves."

"So after all that we're right back to where we started?" Prompto asked.

"Not quite. With the power of the Kingsglaive we might have a fighting chance to win back some of our territory. And with a new source of meteorshards, perhaps even recapturing some of the old settlements," Cor said. "I just hope it'll be enough."

Ignis placed his hand on Prompto's shoulder.

"I've been blind for several years now friends," Ignis said. "And for the first time I see a light at the end of the tunnel."

"Now I know you hit your head," Prompto sighed.

"Hope, Prompto," Ignis explained. "It may seem trite, but sometimes hope is all we have left to cling to. And I for one am willing to die to see that its light is never extinguished."

Author's Note:

So yeah, that's that.

I have to apologize at the rough track this story in particular took. The four story arc as a whole seemed to get steadily more slapdash but this one in particular was rough. I'm not certain if I've said it before, but back in November of last year my life kind of fell apart. I've been piecing things back together and working on other projects and looking back at this project in particular was just kind of rough. I wanted to give it a proper ending to close the book on it and move on to other things. Yeah this ending is more than a bit rough but it is, at least, an ending of sorts.

I feel I've been apologizing a lot lately, but things are starting to get better for me. I did just release the first book of my FF8 novelization. It's a wholesale release and I intend to start doing that from now on to avoid these long interruptions between chapters. Thank you for following along with me. You guys have been incredible and deserve better than this, but just as in my own life, I have to move on.