Life 42: Omen Mortis
The sun shined brightly down on us as we arrived outside what appeared to be a mine shaft, the darkness within just the slightest bit worrying as Cor met with us outside it, a trail of monster carcasses left in our wake.
"Here's where we go our separate ways." Cor said then in his usual manner, fishing out an ornate key from within his coat as I took it on instinct. "Take this key. It will unlock the doors to the other tombs."
I just nodded as I tucked the key away in my waistcoat, Ignis drawing my attention as he inspected the writings on the front of the mine, but Cor was not one to be ignored.
"Seek out the tombs my King, but ensure you use their gifts, and not the other way around." Cor said critically then as I remembered the drain I had felt when I used Regis' blade for the first time, and resolved that I would not be drained of my life by mere weapons, Death's intervention notwithstanding.
"And what will you do then Marshal?" I asked him then as he gave a grimace as he looked back towards the road, and the Regalia shining away under the sun's embrace.
"I'll head ahead to Lestallum, organize everyone there, and take stock of how many refugees are settled. I'll await your arrival, your majesty." Cor said with a respectful nod to me then as he began to walk back into the light, the dark of the cave looming around us as I turned towards the path.
"We'll see you Cor, take care." I said in turn as I faced Ignis and my friends, the eldest crossing his arms as Prompto looked on in curiosity, Cor throwing a wave behind his back in farewell.
"Let's head in."
"What is this place…?" Prompto muttered out as we trudged through the mine, the lights flickering above us from the shaken generator we had found, Gladio's blade held in hand in the likelihood we would be jumped.
"At one point, likely a mine or refinery, but I believe this is one of the old Lucian Shelters." Ignis said then as he trailed a hand along the cave walls, the lights casting shadows behind us as we marched forward in the gloom, room after decrepit room passing us by.
"Shelters?" Gladio asked then with a shrug, as neither he nor I knew of anything to do with the latest freaky location we had come to visit.
"Yes. During the early years of the war against the Empire, King Mors, Noct's grandfather, had to scale back the Old Wall. With most of Lucis left defenseless to the Nifs and the Daemons, they turned many places into shelters to defend them in the night. Notice the lodgings and the showers, this locale likely sheltered at least thirty Lucians." Ignis said in a grandiose, yet sad manner, as we walked through the empty halls of a place that had protected so many from the damned nights, and our enemy.
"I can't imagine people living here…" Prompto said in a mutter as he held his pistol aloft, his steps cautious with the shifts of elevation, the cave floor obviously having been constructed on unfair conditions.
"They had no choice with the Wall drawn back…" I said with a growl as I couldn't believe it. I knew the powers of the Lucian Crown drained away the life of those that used them, but for both my new grandfather and father alike to abandon their people, it was infuriating.
A portion of me, of course, knew that if they had kept the Old Wall as it was, since Ignis had said it once covered all of Lucis in its embrace, would have killed both of them at a young age, and Noctis likely wouldn't have even been born.
A valid point of course, but I couldn't believe the betrayal.
"Huh… I wonder if anyone's still living here?" Prompto asked then of me, as I could only shrug in response, a chattering sound coming not far ahead of us now.
"I hope not."
And I really did, since this cave had been blanketed in the dark when we arrived, which meant only one thing.
This place was crawling with Daemons, likely only tucked away as long as the piercing light accompanied us to safety.
Of course, it was only then as I felt true appreciation for the generator, that the lights cut out not too dissimilar to the nightmare I had endured the day previously, and we were in the dark once more.
"Light em up Prom!" I yelled out as the blonde and I found ourselves back to back in the dark, a collapse having cut us off from our allies as he and I wandered through the tunnels.
Of course, not long into our venture we had found ourselves surrounded by Daemons, and Prompto and I mutually agreed to run like hell.
So with blasts of Bombardo behind my back and Prompto firing rounds into the Daemons as they trailed after us, my arm flying up as we burst into a storage room with the monsters on our heels.
"Prompto! Close your eyes!" I yelled out to him as he just nodded, throwing himself further into the room, his eyes closed shut as I turned on the spot. My hand extended towards the Daemons, my eyes began to glow as I growled out the spell I really hoped would work.
With a screech, a blast of pure sunlight filled the storage room as I was thrown back by the energies, the ray of light piercing through the Daemons and purging them into a viscous smoke.
Taking a breath then as the sunlight lingered, I pulled myself to my feet as Prompto did the same, a lump clear to see on his head from the blind fall.
"Damn Noct, you been holding out on us?" Prompto said with surprise, no doubt referring to the spells I had been throwing around, as Noct had his magical connection severed years prior.
However, since I didn't have the patience to figure out how to infuse the magic flasks Noctis carried around, I felt no regret helping Prompto and I to get away in the way I had.
"I've been learning a lot lately Prompto." I said with a chuckle as I found myself taking a seat on a forgotten crate, Prompto leaning against it as the lights flickered back on to our surprise.
"Guess the guys got the power back on." Prompto said aloud as I nodded, rubbing a hand through my hair as I stood back up, much to the disappointment of my exhausted feet.
"Let's go find the guys, they can't be far." I said to him then with a brush of the hand as he nodded, his gun coming to a rest in his holster as we walked back to the steel plate doors we had come through.
Shouldn't be too hard to find two people in a cave that's slowly collapsing around us…
"I fucking hate spiders…" I growled out as I put another round into one of the spider women that populated the cave, Prompto and I having found an entire nest of the fucks after forcing our way into a particularly ancient part of the shelter, the walls circling around us as we fought.
While we hadn't found even a trace of Gladio and Ignis, we had found a few interesting weapons, from a light infused great-sword to a white palmed revolver that I found packed quite a punch.
As it had been some time since I fired a gun, I felt a bit nostalgic and held onto it, as the range proved itself to be worth the struggle, the shells firing out of the barrel with all the force of a phoenix.
"Tell me about it!" Prompto yelled as he lashed out with a kick against a goblin, a round filling the void in the daemon's eyes as I tossed a dagger between the eyes of another, that damn Arachne taunting me as I fought my way closer, my blade begging to feast on Daemon blood.
"What do you think the guys are doing?!" I yelled to my friend as he and I kept up the struggle, the dark being cleansed by the fire of our blasts, the very walls shaking as we let loose, the Sword of the Father coming out to play as we dug into the Daemons around us.
"Probably something important!"
"You think Lestallum will have Cup Noodles Iggie?" Gladio asked his fellow as the two kept walking, their eyes peeled for their missing liege and photographer, the tunnel surprisingly quiet as they walked.
"Most likely, but you know that they'll turn that muscle to flab if you keep it up Gladio."
"Ignis, you can't say that about Cup Noodle!" Gladio called out in offense, the two of them stopping in place as the Shield just looked on in disgust at his friend.
"Let me guess, blasphemy?"
"Damn right it is!"
"Fuck this…" I growled out more and more daemons spawned into the dark as soon as we took a breath, the fallen Daemons replaced by their comrades as we found ourselves pushed back against the wall as the crowd of monsters grew ever larger.
"STOPRA!" I cried out as I thrust my hand forward, time slowing to a crawl as I did, the Daemons frozen on the spot as I pulled forth the Hyper Magnum once more, a bullet flying out to meet each Daemons.
With the ease of practically cheating, I let time flow once more as each and every Daemon dropped dead from my shots.
Letting loose the breath I had been holding, I gave Prompto a hand in finishing off the confused Arachne before us, and finally bringing calm back to the cave.
"Was that… did you just stop time Noct?" Prompto asked me incredibly as I let my blade and gun phase back into the Armiger, the lights flickering back on in a way that was completely pointless.
Of course, we were protected only after we'd killed everything that was hiding in the dark.
"Like I said Prompto, I have a lot of tricks you guys haven't even seen." I said with a smile as I brushed my shoulder off only to freeze at the sound of rapid footsteps.
Pulling the Hyper Magnum once more into being, I held it aloft towards the far reaching doors, my other hand held with a spell on my lips as I mentally counted down until those doors would burst forward.
Prompto followed my lead, his own pistol coming to meet mine in the air, as we waited for those thunderous footsteps to finally reach us, our fingers on the triggers in wait.
And it was then the doors went flying off over our heads as we laid eyes on our latest foe, a beast similar to the Arachnes we had faced, a gigantic blue woman crossed with a titan of a spider.
She drifted into the room with unsettling grace as her slit eyes came to rest on us, a sickening smile growing as she took step after step closer to us, and I smiled in return.
"I fucking hate spiders."
And I let loose, the Hyper Magnum firing in union with a azure blast of the Reductor Curse, and I found myself in yet another fight in this gods forsaken cave, Prompto fighting to keep up with me as I threw everything I had albeit the kitchen sink at the latest enemy we faced.
"The hatred is twice-fold, young King…" The beast said in an elegant manner as I just grinned, my hand glowing a familiar scarlet as I readied another shot for the Daemon, a snarl on my lips.
"You can talk? That just makes it so much better! Bombarda Maxima!"I called aloud as I flung yet another spell at the beast, relishing the look of shock on its face as it's chest was blasted apart from the force of the incantation, dark blood flooding the room as my final shot pierced what remained of its brain.
As it fell dead, I let my firearm disappear and felt exhaustion flood my body as I shook the blood from my arms, Prompto just falling to the floor in need of rest as we finally felt the effect of fighting close quarters for what had to be hours.
"Let's… let's take a rest, okay?"
And I joined him on the floor.
"I see you have been busy your majesty." Ignis' clipping voice awoke me then, as I pulled my sore body off the cave floor, my allies standing at attention at my side as I noted the lantern Gladio carried with him.
Predictably, the lights in the chamber had once again been extinguished, leaving us to walk in the dark once more.
The blood still stained my form, despite the phasing away of the Daemons and their remains, leaving my suit a strained and stiff mess as I struggled to move, though Prompto just laughed.
He had fared slightly better, blood only covering the upper half of his frame, but his face was practically smeared.
"Yeah, kinda had to when the party is cut in half and we're drowning in Daemons." I said with a tired snarl as I pulled myself together only to be tossed aside when the cave system began to shake, the walls and ceiling above all violently trembling as another quake came over us.
"Noct! Take cover!" Ignis cried out as the three of them fell around me in cover, the world around us shaking as we heard something collide against what must have been the surface, as a sudden impact threw us all forward, the very ceiling collapsing forward as moonlight pierced through.
Seeing the sudden visage of the surface appear, I could only groan as the familiar form of Magitek troopers fell down into the cave, their rifles held onpoint at us as I shook off my exhaustion.
"I'm getting real sick of your shit." I snarled out as I felt my left hand ignite once more, and I unleashed a blast of carnivorous magic, erasing the troopers where they stood, along with a greater portion of the cave wall behind them.
With some surprise, I noticed the elegant and ancient door that rested beyond them, a keyhole clear to see in the center of it as I pulled free the Tomb Keepers Key.
"You gotta be kidding me…" I only muttered as I strode forward, my companions at my side as I reached the tomb entrance, the key finding it's way magically to it's home before returning to my pocket.
The doors flew open for us, as the same resting chamber awaited us as it had for the Tomb of the Wise, a statued sarcophagus resting before us of a built and sturdy figure in elegant king's armor, the crest of Lucis highlighted in ivory.
Holding a hand forward, the lid unsealed as the coffin slid open, and a cerulean energy ushered forth as a large spiritual axe appeared to hover above it, only to come flying forward once more into my chest.
Victor Lucis Caelum, the Conqueror, and his axe now joined my arsenal as I turned once more to my companions, the axe now flashing into existence within my grasp.
I recognized this axe, I had seen it in that omen of a vision I had been forced into, only to feel it return to the Armiger as I turned to my friends, the moonlight continuing to stream down through the hole that the Magitek had created in their latest misguided attempt to take our lives.
"Let's get the fuck out of here…"
Of course, what little rest we could have gotten was discarded as nearly as soon as we reached the surface my phone had started ringing with the force of a storm.
Taking a breath, I picked up.
"Noctis, Master of Nothing, King of Something, please hold for customer support." I groaned as we trudged our way back to the Regalia in silence as the morning sun began to rise far in the distance.
"It's a pleasure to hear you alive your majesty, but your night isn't quite over yet." Cor's familiar voice said aloud as I just groaned into my spot in the backseat, Gladio letting out a laugh at my discomfort.
"Cor, we just got out of that damn cave, what could you possibly want?" I whimpered out as Ignis pulled us onto the road, the radio sputtering to life with some Kpop playing listlessly.
"Well, then gladly stay in Duscae, because if you don't hurry, the Empire will have the entrance to Cleigne locked down." Cor stated as I just cursed my rotten luck as Ignis met my eyes in the overhead mirror and I nodded at his inquisitive look.
We weren't finished yet.
"Let me guess, roadblock?"
"Far worse, they've established an entire fort on the highway, cutting off complete and total access to Cleigne."
"Fucking Empire… Ignis, take us to the highway leading to Cleigne, the Empire's set up shop on the region border."
I snarled aloud as I slammed my blades against the armor of an Imperial mech, the Engine Blade and the Blade of the Father working as one as I pounded away at the glass protecting the MA-X's pilot.
"THIS IS MY KINGDOM, GET THE FUCK OUT!" I screamed as my blades finally pierced the glass, and I ripped the pilot clear out of his seat, some furious words on his lips as I dragged him away from the fallen machine with no gentle mercy.
"Damn savages! The Empire will never stop! Your pitiful kingdom will be ours!" The foolish Imp cried out in anger as I just watched the burning remains of his weapon, the one the idiot had so surely believed would be able to stop us.
To his misfortune, I had fought Metal Gears before, and the MA-Xs seemed to be just shoddy knock offs of a superior weapon.
"Your emperor just doesn't know when to give up my friend, but I'll give you a mercy that you don't deserve." I muttered lowly as I knelt over the fallen Nif, the features of his face all too familiar as I looked into his bronze eyes and slipped into his mind.
Loqi Tummelt, a brigadier general for Niflheim and a Noble of the Empire, but I could see… a woman in his memories, clad in a black and white gown and hood, an aged burgundy scarf covering her features as blazing orange eyes stared back at me through his memories.
Chancellor Aera Izunia, the guiding force behind the Niflheim throne, and the one person that had to die for the Empire to shatter and fall.
I had my new target.
"What should we do with him, Noct?" Gladio asked me, driving me from Loqi's mind as I noted my Shield with his blade raised over the Nif, the fear clear to see on the blonde boy's face as all talk of savages melted away.
I looked into the young man's face, only not to see an arrogant Nif, but a misguided and scared man that had been forcefully shown that his way wasn't all he had thought.
"Release him, we don't have much time to get on the road." I said much to their surprise, and Loqi's, as Gladio stepped back to let the Nif stand, and the young man just stared into my eyes as firmly as I had his.
"You… You won't regret this." He muttered as he practically ran from us, his Niflheim saber left in the dirt as his mech exploded behind us, the morning sun fully falling on us now as I started walking out of the base, Prompto and Gladio at my side as Ignis pulled up in the Regalia.
I just looked up into the sun then as I felt the heat of it wash over me.
"Are we heading to Lestallum Noct?" Gladio asked of me then with a grin as we fell into a calm, the three of us walking on as Ignis just watched us from the car, the warmth washing over us.
"Yeah, I think it's fine-" I said in confirmation, only to be interrupted as my phone rang once more, and I hoped for Cor's sake it wasn't him with another task for us.
Fishing it free of my coat, I could only look in confusion at the unknown number.
"Hello?" I said quizzically as I looked over to Ignis and Gladio, who both looked on in curiosity at the phone..
"Noct, I know it's been a while, it's Iris. The Empire's in Lestallum, and that Chancellor from the news? She's been asking people in the city about you."
"Damn my luck…"
CHAPTER 3: CITY OF LIGHT
This chapter actually took a bit to write, since while I was sick, I ended up writing chapter 7 or 8 on a whim, and now I've got to write to catch up to what I already wrote.
Yeah, inconvenient, however, this is the end of Chapter 2. Chapter 3 will begin in the next chapter as we move to Lestallum.
Also, this is not a Fem-Ardyn story.
Hope you all enjoyed.