It has been quite the eventful few months for Prince Noctis and his retinue from the time they left the gates of Insomnia. Since then, they were challenged with the Regalia breaking down, obtaining the funds needed to fix her, learning that the ports to Altissia were closed off and thus forcing them to find another way across the ocean, and many many more headaches for the crew. They had also been visiting Noctis's ancient ancestors' tombs in order for the young, now King, to obtain their power through spiritual weapons. In recent developments, the Empire has been appearing as though they were watching his every move ever since they ran into a red-haired man. They first met him in Gualdin Quay when they learned of the ports closing. He seemed incredibly sly so the group agreed that the less they saw of this man the better. Fortune proved all too unfavorable when they recently found him in Lestallum. However, it was thanks to this man that Noctis obtained the power of the Archeaon, Titan.
Only after obtaining the Astral, however, did the man choose to reveal himself as Ardyn Izunia, Imperial Chancellor of the Nifilheim army, sworn enemy of Lucis and her king. After much trouble with the empire confiscating their vehicle and finally retrieving it, the group came back to Lestallum to learn that Gladio's sister, Iris, and her fellow refugee, Talket, were in the midst of mourning their good friend, and Talket's Grandfather, Jared. Many days passed without a disturbance, excluding a few hunts to keep their income constant and visiting the last of the royal tombs. However, a few nights before they departed for Caem, an ancient power stirred in Duscae.
1. The King of Light
Noctis awoke with a start. Something called out to him from the darkness. A strange voice called out his name. He pulled the covers off of himself and walked to the balcony window. The warm, humid, air caressed his bare chest as he stood on the balcony with only his black cargo shorts. The voice seemed to echo from the voided crater where Titan once slept. He couldn't sleep with this voice bugging him, but would anyone believe him? A door opened in the balcony next to him and he found Ignis in only his dark jeans. Ignis immediately caught the Prince's figure in the corner of his eye.
"Forgive me, Noct." Ignis blushed. "I did not think you to be up at so late an hour."
"Don't worry about it." Noctis shook his head. "It's hot here. You gotta do what you can to keep cool, right?
"I suppose..." Ignis rubbed the back of his head. "Why are you awake, if you don't mind my asking?"
"This may sound stupid..." Noct began. "But after what happened with the Archaeon, I don't know. I keep hearing a voice calling out to me. I can't sleep."
"Strange indeed..." Ignis placed a curled finger to his chin in deep thought. "I, too, have heard a voice this evening. It appears to be coming from the crater."
"Ya think we should check it out?"
"Not alone. It would be wise to wake up Prompto and Gladio as well. There is no telling what we may find there."
"Right." Noct nodded but before proceeding into his room, he took one last look at Ignis, staring at the crater, and laughed. "Ya know...maybe you should dress like Gladio more often. It may land you a date."
"Please, Noct." Ignis sighed. "I've no time for such things. Even if I did, someone needs to keep you on your kingly tasks."
"Whatever." Noct shrugged and proceeded to dress. He met Ignis, Gladio, and Prompto in the lobby of the inn. Apparently, they had been hearing the voice too. When they asked the desk clerk about it, he denied hearing any such thing.
"Are we going crazy?" Prompto asked worriedly.
"Somethin' weird is happening here." Gladio crossed his arms. "I can still hear it. There ain't no way I can sleep with this voice in my head."
"So, do we risk the daemons and make for the crater?" asked Prompto.
"Looks that way." sighed Noct. "I'll take the wheel, Specs."
"Very well." Ignis nodded with a sigh.
The group walked to the Regalia and drove the long road to the inner most depths of the crater without any hindrances from daemons. Perhaps the strange light that was now emitting from the crater was enough to keep them away?
The men made their way to the cliff where one of Noctis's ancestors lay. Noctis shook from the memories of Titan looming over them. Down the slippery slope was, indeed, a strange stone that emitted a brilliant light.
"Fascinating." Ignis focused his glasses. He turned to the others. "It may just be an astral shard that broke off from the battle."
"So, you think it's safe?" asked Noct.
"I cannot say with certainty." Ignis replied. "I will go down and examine it."
"Not without backup." Gladio stepped up. "Noct, you and Prompto stay here at a safe distance until we call you."
"Right." Noctis nodded. "Be careful, guys."
Ignis carefully stepped and slid down the rock face until he was safely at the cliff. Gladio soon followed. The voice seemed louder and now more easily understood.
"O King of Light, answer the summons of the crystal. Ye Acolytes of the King, fear no darkness."
"What is that?" Gladio asked.
"I don't know." Ignis answered. "I'll get closer." With his sword ready, Gladio watched as Ignis crept up on the stone. It was smooth and looked to be a man-made trinket of sorts. The Mist it seeped out, however, did not make Ignis any more secure. "What a curious trinket..." To make sure it was safe to touch, Ignis summoned his dagger and poked the stone. Nothing appeared to happen so he assumed it was safe. Ignis grabbed the stone with his gloved hand and stood as he stared at it.
"Is it an Astral Shard?" asked Gladio, who also stood.
"Not one I've seen." Ignis replied. He looked up to Noctis and motioned them to come down. Noctis and Prompto met up with them and they all looked at the stone in Ignis's hand. "This appears to be of human design."
"So, it's not the source of the voice?" asked Prompto.
"O King of Light, Chosen by the fates of Time and Realm Immortal." The voice echoed louder than ever, almost as if the source was right in front of them. Ignis's eyes grew wide and he grunted. A tightness wound all over his body, immobilizing him as his body was outlined with a strange mist.
"Iggy!"Gladio cried. "Iggy, what's wrong?!"
"I'm trapped!" Ignis growled through gritted teeth. "I can't move!"
A cloud of mist sprouted from that surrounding Ignis to reveal a very strange creature with glowing orange eyes. The others jumped back and readied their weapons for battle.
"What the hell is that thing?!" cried Noctis.
"A daemon?!" Prompto guessed.
"Hark! No daemon stands before you." said the creature. It had no mouth, yet had the ability to speak. "I come as messenger and friend. The Great Will calls for the King of Light to traverse into borders beyond this realm."
"You're not making any sense!" Noctis hissed. "Let go of Ignis, now!"
"Your followers mean much to you. Such is the strength in heart of a King and his loyal knights." Ignis's arms were thrust to his side and he began to float up toward the being. "O loyal knight of this great King; do ye not seek greatness for him? Have ye not come in search of a greater power?"
"No!" Ignis growled. "I came because you were disturbing him! Noctis cannot be bothered with your beckoning!"
"I beckon not." the creature hummed. "The Great Will has chosen your king to cut a rung in history's flow. Yours is the thread that shall weave the history of Ivalice anew."
"Ivalice?" Noctis was confused. "What the hell are you talking about?!"
"Come with me, and all shall be revealed to you in time."
"Follow you?" Noctis laughed. "You trap my friend and ask me to follow you into some alternate dimension? Forget it! I have my own problems here to deal with! I don't have time to follow some ghost into the netherworld!"
"I am called Venat, an Occuria who has seen and knows the passions of humes and the powers they can possess through the right circumstances. Ivalice needs the Light of Kings and his Acolytes if it is to survive the coming darkness." Ignis rose higher above them. "If the King of Light ceases to accept his calling, this man shall be made sacrifice towards the King's Judgement."
"Sacrifice!" Prompto gasped. "He can't do that, can he?!"
"Iggy!" Gladio swung his giant sword only to have it cut through the spirit as if it were air. "It didn't work?!"
"O King of Light, heed this calling. Come to Ivalice and make new History's weave and I shall relinquish this warrior to you. What say you?"
"Damn it!" Noctis looked up at Ignis, helpless to do anything about the situation other than to concede to this being's demands. "Fine. Release Ignis! We'll go to your world."
"A wise choice, O Chosen King." Mist began to form and swirl around them until they were in a tornado of the magical cloud. The draft lifted up the three and they soon shot upwards toward a bright light in the sky. After a while the mist binding Ignis released him and he, too, followed Noctis into the light. Venat dissipated in the cloud of Mist and the Brotherhood was gone from Eos.
Noctis awoke in a dessert outside of a large camp. When he opened his eyes, strange people were gathered around him. They had picked him up and laid him on a stretcher to take him into their village when they noticed his awakening.
"Thank the Gods!" breathed a woman. "I thought he was dead!"
"Are you alright, young man?" asked an older woman.
"F-fine, I guess..." Noctis blinked. Their clothes were incredibly strange and primitive. He was reminded of the medieval stories his father would tell him as a boy. "Where am I?"
"There was a nasty dust storm!" smiled the older woman. "Good thing you wandered near our camp. We're traders here in Giza Plains. We harvest Sun Stones and sell them to the nearby city of Rabenastre for the gil needed for our Caravan."
"Oh, okay." Noctis looked around. "There were others with me..."
"Yes, we found two more a few hours ago!" smiled the younger woman.
"Two?" Noctis gasped. "Was there a third?!"
"Only you. You three were the only ones they found." the woman answered.
"They?" Noctis questioned.
"Yes." The older woman smiled. "Two children from the city had to run an errand, but found you three around our camp. They should be back soon. You should thank them when you see them. The Plains of Giza are no place for the inexperienced."
"I'll keep that in mind." Noctis nodded.
"We'll take you to your friends."
Noctis followed the two women into the camp. He noticed a group of children returning from an errand of sorts.
"Didn't think a caravan would have so many kids." Noctis mentioned.
"Our camp makes most of its income on the Sun Stones we harvest here in Giza during the dry season." The older woman answered. "The children here have more energy and stamina so they are tasked with the duty of collecting them. We trade the meat and produce here at camp while our men hunt and defend."
"Right..." Noctis looked ahead to the large tent in the center where he could see Prompto and Gladio talking with the caravan elder. Gladio noticed Noctis approaching and waved. The two stood up to greet their friend.
"Hey there, Noct!" Prompto greeted.
"Glad to see you made it too." Gladio smiled.
"Yeah." Noctis nodded. "Have...you two seen Specs?"
"Not a hint or sign of him anywhere." Gladio looked down to the ground. "I mean, we know he can handle himself...but this place..."
"We're in a whole other world..." Prompto sighed. "You really think he'll be okay?
"We need to find him." Noctis crossed his arms. "The problem is, we don't know where to start looking."
"If I may..." The three looked to the elder. "The children who found you should be returning from the task we gave them. Perhaps they may have found a clue to your friend's whereabouts."
"It's better than nothing." Gladio replied. "It's too dangerous for us to start looking on our own, especially since we can't summon our weapons."
"What?" Noctis thrust his hand outward to summon his sword but nothing appeared. "Great. What now?"
"If we can't summon weapons, we'll have to buy some." Gladio suggested.
"I think we can help you." The elder smiled. "You boys can use the arms we have available here, free of charge."
"Free?!" Prompto smiled. "That's really generous of you! Are you sure?"
"Of course." The old woman smiled. "Unfortunately, we cannot spare any of our children to help you find your friend, but we can at least equip you with what you may need."
The group walked over to the weapons wagon and told the clerk their predicament and of the elder's decision. The woman gave a sympathetic sigh and allowed the men to browse for what they needed. Gladio took a large broadsword, Prompto took a crossbow, and Noctis took a shortsword. They stocked up on potions and made any other preparations for their search. As they finished up, a commotion was heard toward the back of the camp. Two strange children along with another small child came through. The boy waved good-bye to the two older kids and ran to his mother. The older children looked to be about 16 years of age. The boy was blonde and wore metal armor on his legs and arms. The girl was a little younger but was blonde as well. She wore her hair in pink tails and seemed to have a caring air about the boy.
"Thanks for the adventure, Vaan." the girl smiled. "What do you say we check on those three men?"
"Yeah." Vaan nodded. He looked up and looked shocked. "Look, Penelo!" She turned to find the three men staring back at them. She smiled and grabbed Vaan's hand before running to them.
"You're all okay!" She cheered. "I'm so glad!"
"Uh, yeah." Noctis nodded.
"I assume you're the 'kids' that found us?" asked Gladio.
"Yeah." Vaan nodded. "You guys were just outside between here and Rabenastre. The name's Vaan."
"And I'm Penelo." she smiled. "What are your names?"
"I'm Noctis. This here is Gladio and Prompto."
"We had another friend with us," began Prompto. "You didn't see him out there, did you?"
"Can't say we have." Vaan crossed his arms. "You guys stick out like a sore thumb."
"He's right." Penelo agreed. "Your clothes are strange..."
"It's a long story." answered Noctis. "We need to find our friend before anything else."
"Maybe we can take you into the city." Penelo suggested. "If he's dressed the same as you, he should be really easy to find!"
"Better than nothing." Noctis shrugged. "Lead the way."
The group followed the two into the Royal City. Along the way, Noctis told their story of how they came to Ivalice and about the strange creature called Venat. As they did so, wolves and other beasts would approach them, but Noctis and his friends tested their new, primitive, weapons in order to prepare for their search.
When they finally arrived at the gates of the city, Noctis and the group were in awe at the different races around them. Vaan and Penelo were confused by their reactions and told them about the Seeq, a pig-like race, the Bangaa, a race of raptillian humanoids, the Moogles, and the Viera, humanoid female warriors who were tall but had rabbit-like ears. When they finished, Penelo waved good-bye and wished Noctis and his friends well in their search. She gave Vaan a worried, yet warning, scold about staying out of trouble before heading off into the city. The group followed Vaan into the lower levels of the city to visit a man by the name of Old Dalan. When they arrived at the residence, Vaan turned to them with a warning. "Old Dalan's place is a little small, so, Noctis will be the only one able to come in."
"As long as he can help us." Gladio huffed. "We'll wait out here."
With a nod from Noctis, he followed Vaan into the building where an old man petting a pink rabbit-like creature sat smoking a pipe.
"Well, Vaan-Rat's Bane!" The old man greeted. "I see you have retrieved the Sun Stone."
"And I brought it back as fast as I could." Vaan smiled. "Will this be enough to get me into the Palace?"
"Yes, just hold it up to the crest and it shall light your path." the old man smiled. "Ah! But who is this you bring with you?"
"He's a friend." Vaan answered. "I was wondering if you could help him out."
"Do tell, ma' boy." smiled Old Dalan.
"I'm looking for a friend of mine." stated Noctis. "Have you seen anyone dressed similar to me?"
"Now that you mention it, there was word of a strange hume spotted in the Estarsand." Old Dalan breathed in from his smoke pipe. "He did not seem to be in the best of circumstances..."
"What do you mean?" Noct's heart dropped to his feet.
"If this is indeed your friend," Dalan breathed out the smoke. "I'm afraid he is to be sold into slavery."
"A slave?!" Noctis shouted. "Who has him?! I'll find the bastard and take Ignis back myself!"
"That is an empty threat ma-boy." Dalan laughed. "Sounds as though his current owners are a gang of dangerous Bangaa. Not exactly the push-over types."
"Bangaa?" Noctis clenched his fists.
"They're the lizard-like race of people you see around here." Vaan whispered. "If your friend is a slave to a bunch of them, you'll need more help." Vaan placed a finger to his chin. "But, if you help me rob the palace treasurey, I can afford an airship and we can just swoop in on them and take 'em by surprise!"
"I don't have time to run your errands!" Noctis began to panic. "Ignis is in serious danger!"
"Fear not." Dalan nodded. "My ears have told me that they were headed this way when they heard of him. I'll continue my observance on this matter and tell you what I find. Vaan may need your help in there. Don't want a young lad taking a stroll through the Nalbina dungeons all alone."
"Great..." Noct sighed. "This sucks!"
"Don't worry, Noct." Vaan winked. "We'll be in and out before you know it."
With a heavy sigh, Noctis followed Vaan out and told Gladio and Prompto the unfortunate news of Ignis. They agreed to follow Vaan to the palace in hopes that they can quickly find a treasure that will allow Vaan to purchase an airship. They followed him into the city's waterway and fought waves of monsterous rats and bats until they came to a staircase. Before going up the stairs, Gladio pulled Noctis back.
"There are bound to be a ton of guards up there. Prompto and I will stay down here."
"Good idea." Noctis nodded.
"Right." Vaan nodded. "We won't be long."
"Hurry back!" Prompto smiled.
The two walked up the stairs and into a room filled with maps and tomes. Noctis grumbled at the thought of going from Prince to thief in less than a day. But, getting Ignis back safely was his top priority. He followed Vaan as he tricked the guards in order to get around the palace and finally found a crest matching the stone Old Dalan gave him. He watched as Vaan made quick work of the hidden switches and doors until they came to the Royal treasurey at last. When the doors closed, Noctis looked around.
"Okay, let's just grab what we need and leave." suggested Noct. "I'm not a thief and I sure as hell don't want to be caught like one."
"Then just sit in a corner! I'm here to take back what's ours!" Vaan growled. "I know your friend's in trouble, but so is my country! The Empire has no right to just barge in and take over. They'll pay one day." Vaan went to grab a gold statue but it turned out to be a switch. It activated a Goddess statue that held a secret chamber within the face. Parts of the face separated in order to reveal a large red stone that had a familiar glow to Noctis. Vaan ran up to the statue and pulled the stone from it. A sound snapped them of their trance as the same door they came in opened to let in a man.
"Quite the performance!" he smiled.
"Who are you?!" Vann asked in shock.
"I play the Leading Man, who else?" he sneered. "Fran, the magicite."
Noctis turned to find a tall woman with rabbit-like ears on her head. Her hair was white as snow but her eyes were red.
"Now then, I'll take that." she muttered.
"Oh no you don't!" growled Vaan. "I found it! It's mine!"
"And when I take it from you, it'll be mine." The man leaned against a crate as the woman walked to his side. Noctis huffed at the site of them. Great, more thieves. Noct attempted to draw his sword, but shouts erupted from the outside. He noticed Vaan take off running to their left and so he followed suit. He chased Vaan up a few sets of stairs and outside where they could see the Palace courtyard below. A battle was taking place as airships hovered overhead. Cannons fired onto the yard, causing both Vaan and Noctis to fall onto their backs.
"This is insane!" Noctis yelled. "What the Hell is going on?!"
"The Ifrit, eh?" The man ran up to them once more. "That's quite an entrance. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were waiting all along."
"You can survey all you want!" Noctis wrapped his arm around Vaan and lifted him to his feet to continue running.
"Stop running!" The man demanded. Suddenly the woman appeared on a hover-bike to cut off the two thieves.
"End of the line!" the man growled. "You have something that belongs to me."
"Is this thing really worth so much?!" Noctis looked at the stone in Vaan's hand. "If so, we can't let them have it. It's the only way to save Ignis." A cannon blast caused Noctis to drop Vaan. When he pushed himself up, soldiers appeared behind the man causing him to run toward Noct and Vaan.
"Fran! Let's move!" The man quickly grabbed Vaan from Noctis and jumped over the wall. Noctis chased after him and grabbed onto the hover bike. Fran struggled against some unknown force but failed to regain control of the bike. They crashed and found themselves back in the waterway. When Noctis awoke, the other three were in the midst of conversation.
"You're Sky Pirates?!" shouted Vaan. "So you have an airship-"
"It's Balthier." grumbled the pirate. "Listen thief-er-Vaan, if you ever want to see home again, you'll do exactly as I say. Myself, Fran, you, and your little friends are working together now, understood?"
"Fine, but you're not getting this stone." grumbled Vaan.
"The thought never crossed my mind." he smiled. "So, who exactly are these gentlemen?"
"Noct!" Gladio and Prompto ran up to Noctis who lay in the water below the other pirates. "Are you okay?" Gladio asked while grabbing Noct's arm to help him up.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Noctis looked up at Balthier. "Balthier, you said?"
"That's me." he smirked.
"I'm Noctis. This is Gladio and Prompto." He glared. "We need this boy so we'll protect him."
"Fine by me, Noctis." Balthier huffed. "Fran and I shall keep to our own affairs while you babysit the thief."
"It's Vaan!" Balthier just waved off Vaan's remark. When they were set, they walked through the waterway and tried to find their way out. After a long treck through the water, they came to an open area where a woman was cornered by Imperial soldiers. She slayed two of them but the soldiers continued to advance. Vaan quickly ran to the area below her and backoned her to jump. When she saw that no other options were before her, she took a leap and Vaan caught her in his arms.
"She's not alone!" More soldiers came from the enterance the group had entered and were now boxed in.
"Our ranks grow by the hour." Fran sighed.
"And our troubles with them." Balthier sighed. "Alright, Prompto, lad; let's see how well your marksmanship measures to mine."
"Uh, okay?" Prompto raised his crossbow and imagined that he was using a gun from home. He discovered that his aim was just as great as the pirate. Balthier even complimented on his aim and form a few times.
Gladio charged in and used his giant sword to protect Vaan while Noctis covered the woman. When all of the soldiers were slain, they regrouped to check on the woman. They all introduced themselves and the woman called herself Amalia.
"The situation requires that I seek out help as I find...though it be from thieves." She sighed. "I shall occompany you until I find my companions, no longer."
"Another guest!" smiled Balthier. "Very well, let us be off, then."
The group made their way to an even larger chamber where the exit to Low Town was located but they were ambushed by Imperial soldiers. Accompanying them was a man that looked to be of high esteem. Amalia showed great hatred toward this man, but he seemed more interested in Noctis and his friends. Their hands were bound and they were taken to Low Town where they waited to be loaded onto airships. As they waited, a familiar voice was heard.
"Wait!" Penelo tried to break through the soldiers guarding the prisoners but they stopped her with ease. "He didn't know what he was doing! You have to let him go!"
"Penelo!" Vaan shouted. "Sorry! That dinner will have to wait!"
"I told you-!" she began to tear up.
"Pipe down!" A soldier behind Vaan smacked him in the back of the head so hard that he fell unconcious on the floor.
"What the Hell?!" roared Noctis.
"That's crossin' the line!" Gladio growled.
"He's just a kid!" Prompto added as he turned to look at Vaan. As he did so, he noticed a familiar form that quickly disappeared from the crowd, almost as if it was forced away. He, then, noticed Penelo running toward them but Balthier stepped in between them with a hankerchief in his hand.
"Hold onto this for me, would you?" He smiled. "Just until I bring Vaan back." Penelo slowly grabbed the hankerchief and watched as the solders dragged the prisoners away. Prompto looked past Penelo and thought he could see a familiar face getting dragged behind a crate. Before he could make it out, the Imperials forced him around. They were now off to the dungeons of Nalbina.