"What…" Gladio gasped in pain. He looked down at the tip of the sword protruding from his chest. He could only stare, unable to manage another sound.
Ignis and Promtpto were further ahead on the metal walkway of Zegnautus, right beside the Crystal as Prompto searched in vain for Noctis. They'd all had to let their Prince go on ahead by himself thanks to Ardyn's Daemons.
It was only when Gladio dropped with a thump that the other two friends noticed something amiss.
"Gladio!" Prompto yelled in shock when he saw the state of his friend. He only managed a few steps before, he too was cut down. A blue flash and then crimson splattered to the floor as the blonde fell.
"Gladio! Prompto!" Ignis called out their names as he internally cursed his blindness. "What has happened?"
The Prince's Advisor received no response. Panic building, Ignis summoned his blades. He knew however that he stood little chance of defending himself if someone had taken down both of his friends.
"Who's there?" Ignis demanded an answer. After a moment of silence, the man felt a sharp burning pain in his chest. He managed a soft cry before he fell to his knees.
One of his last thoughts before darkness took hold was a prayer. That Noctis was safe, wherever he may be.
Prompto and Gladio's final thoughts too, lingered on their Prince's well-being.
Noctis looked over at the scene with a heavy heart. He knew for a long time that it would come to this. But it still hurt. His heart ached with what he had just done.
The Prince saw the Crystal shine brighter at the three lives given to it. The light was almost blinding. The thousands of souls fed to it already did not cause such a brilliant glow like the souls of these three did.
"We needed you," Noctis said softly as if trying to explain, "three willing sacrifices so we may save this world and shape it anew. The line of Lucis will reign as the guardians of this new world."
What do you mean? Noctis imagined his friends asking.
"Your loyalty. Your dedication. Your love." Noctis said aloud, "In our time together, you showed the Crystal the depths of those emotions towards me. You would have died for me. And now you have. The Crystal will accept your lives... Your souls are the final piece to allow us the use of it's power."
Noctis said nothing and waited. After a minute, the Chancellor of Niflheim appeared out of the darkness.
"And the game ends. You've proven your worth to the Astrals and your dear friends have proven their worth to the Crystal. You've all done admirably." Ardyn smiled at the Prince. He didn't receive one in return. He sighed.
"I did offer to do this myself," Ardyn reminded, "There was no need for you to bloody your hands with their lives."
"... It was better that it was me," Noctis responded softly. It was not right that he shy away from that.
"I would disagree. My offer would have saved you from some of that guilt you must no doubt be feeling," Ardyn shrugged, "but what's done is done. We may now proceed to the grand finale. A new world will be born. With the line of Lucis as it's guardians."
"Right," The sorrow in the Prince's voice was audible. The thirteen Lucii, Noctis and even Ardyn. They would be the eternal guardians in the world they would shape with the Astral's blessings. It was to be their reward for their service. They'd be akin to the Gods with the powers granted to them by the Crystal.
Noctis would see his father again. Ardyn would see his brother. The Prince found it hard to be excited, however. The weight of the guilt he felt made it hard to feel anything else but that.
"We've all had to make sacrifices, Noctis. All for this moment," Ardyn's voice was gentler now. "We've waited a long time for this."
"I know," Noctis responded. The Astrals, the thirteen Lucii and even Ardyn himself. Some had waited thousands of years for this moment. "... I just wish it didn't have to come to this."
A short excerpt of something I was working on but decided I didn't quite like it. Basically Ardyn, the Gods and the line of Lucis were all kinda working together. I didn't really flesh out the details of how that would be before I gave up on it.