Thank you so much for waiting for the next chapter. Here you go! I hope you enjoy it. Let me know in the comments your reactions.
An Ability Unveiled
Within the blink of an eye, Noctis was gone and Cloud was left staring at the blank space before him. Before he even had time to process what just happened, a loud crystalline sound rang in the air by his left and he whipped his head to the source, eyes widening in surprise when he saw a series of blue holograms suspended in the air in the shape of Noctis heading towards the monster.
Cloud was caught speechless at the sight of him fighting. He was lithe and efficient in his attacks, most definitely a well-trained combatant, and he was essentially flying through the air, though it seemed to have something to do with the way he threw his sword. He's never seen anyone fight like this. Sephiroth had a knack of appearing out of thin air, something he despised given the number of times that man mentally fucked him up, and though he was an outlier in every equation, Cloud fought against him enough to know that even he didn't move around like that.
"The hell is going on here?! Why the fuck is prince charming flying?!"
It was Barret's loud voice that snapped Cloud back into focus. Looking at the duo fighting knee-deep by the shore, Cloud decided that Noctis needed no assistance and sprinted to Tifa, ready to cast blizzara on the water bubble that kept her weakened and imprisoned. He watched Tifa prepare herself as he launched his attack and immediately caught her by the shoulders when she stumbled once the water bubble lost its form and splashed down.
He felt Tifa grip his hand in thanks before pulling away.
"Did you know about this?" She pointed at Noctis who was now wielding a weapon that was definitely not the one he had in his hand moments earlier. What had been a longsword in one hand now became a dual sword in each hand. How the hell?
Cloud shook his head. "He's never fought since he arrived, remember? I'm as surprised as you are. Barret," Cloud turned to their resident gunslinger and pointed at the monster. "Can you—"
The beast bellowed in pain when Noctis sliced one of its appendages clean off. The sound was so loud that it caused the sea to ripple and create small swells on the water which lapped against the trio's legs.
Cloud assumed his battle position and poised his sword against the monster, his materia catching light against the afternoon sun. "You guys get out of the water. I'm casting thundaga on it." He jerked his head to the shore. "Go to Aerith. That girl's still unconscious."
"Noted." Tifa nodded and began to pull Barret away from the water, but not before telling him the same thing. "You be careful. One unconscious person is enough."
Cloud nodded and turned back to the fight, just in time to see an axe lodge itself onto the beast's neck. There was another flash of blue light as Noctis warped from the monster's tail-end and reappeared next to the axe, dangling as his hand gripped tightly around the hilt.
The monster bellowed in pain as it thrashed around, causing Noctis to hold on to his weapon as he was flung all over the air.
"Noctis!" Cloud yelled from the beach. The man in question heard him enough to look towards him.
"Strike its wings then fall back!" He followed up by pointing towards the metal structure behind him. "Go there."
Cloud saw him nod and took it that he understood.
Noctis craned his head to find the wings and shortly debated on what was the best weapon to use. Upon deciding that the Blade of the Mystic would make the cleanest cut, he returned the axe in favour of the longsword and warped towards the side of the monster.
The young prince jerked forward when a fira hit the other side of the monster, who was now thrashing around, moving erratically and threatening to throw him off balance. The flames were strong enough that he felt the heat licking his skin. His foot slipped and it was only due to his quick thinking that he managed to stab the monster with the sword to keep him upright.
"WAIT FOR MY SIGNAL!" He yelled at Cloud who was poised to hurl another attack. He cursed. "I SAID WAIT!"
Irritation bubbled in his chest and Noctis used it to fuel his attack. He positioned himself near the wings of the monster and, with a loud battle cry, hacked it right off with one swift move of his blade. The beast let out a piercing shriek and began to fall to the water, but not before calling a large wave onto the shore.
Noctis warped away to the metal tower, high enough to avoid the crest of the wave. There was a moment of distress when he thought the wave would reach the beach where everyone was gathered, but it was quickly dispelled when Cloud cast blizzaga to break the wave.
Luckily, Aerith and the others had already gone to higher grounds and were now standing atop the stone staircase that led to the village.
Noctis turned to Cloud and saw him ready to attack. He summoned his own thundaga, a spherical flask of contained elemental magic that he crafted back in Lestallum, and threw it at the beast. Both his and Cloud's attack collided against the fallen creature at the same time, and the beach was promptly covered in electric blue light that Noctis had to warp higher up the tower just to avoid the surplus of energy that crackled in the air.
They won, and now the monster laid defeated on the beachfront.
Noctis smirked, feeling victorious and relieved at the same time. He checked the areas for any other incoming assailants and when he was certain that no one would come avenging the monster, he warped back to shore.
Tifa watched as Noctis weaved through the air. She'd seen him in action today and to say that she was impressed was an understatement. He fought with numerous weapons, and he could call upon them with relevant ease. She'd often wondered how he fought since he never carried a weapon on him, and now she found her answer. Even though she fought with her hands, she knew it was an enviable ability.
"Oh no," she heard Aerith say. Tifa glanced at her direction and saw that her forehead was creased with worry.
"What is it?" She asked, mirroring the expression reflected on her face.
"I think they're about to fight," Aerith answered. Tifa frowned when Noctis warped right next to Cloud and furiously pulled at his collar. Cloud stabbed his sword on the sand and grabbed Noctis' wrist in a warning. Both men were snarling at each other.
"Oh shit, you're right. Aerith, can you and Red take the girl back? Barret might need to sit on someone again."
The worry disappeared from her friend's face and her eyes twinkled in amusement. "You'll tell me if that happens, right?"
"On my honour," Tifa grinned. She patted the girl in Barret's hold and instructed him to transfer her to Aerith.
"There's an inn nearby," her friend said, "we'll check in first and wait for you there." Aerith and Red then went on ahead while Tifa and Barret returned to the beach where Noctis was barely restraining himself with irritation.
"Alright," she slapped Cloud's hand off of Noctis's arm which in return freed his turtleneck and pulled her childhood friend away by the arm. When he didn't budge, Tifa shot him an exasperated look until he acquiesced and put some distance between him and Noctis.
"What is wrong with you, Cloud? You're aggressive and confrontational." She hissed at him. Cloud looked affronted at her accusation and stammered a reply.
"B—but Tifa. I wasn't—"
"Save it. I'm disappointed in you — in both of you." She gave Noctis a pointed look when she heard him scoff. "Yes. Even you too, Noctis. Why are you riling him up?"
"Me?" His voice rose a bit higher. "I'm the one at fault here? He—" he jabbed a finger at the blonde's direction "— was the one who drew up a strategy but won't wait until after I follow through. He threw a fira at me—"
"At the monster."
"I was on the monster! You couldn't wait? I wasn't even that far away from where you hit it."
Tifa slapped Cloud's shoulders and frowned. "You have to admit that was wrong. I saw you." She crossed her arms and sighed. "Why are you two always at each other's necks? Can't you find a common ground where you can be civil?"
"I can," Noctis answered. "I can't speak for blondie over there."
Tifa sighed once more and turned to Cloud. "Well?" She pressed him for an answer.
"I can be civil." He bit out.
Tifa rolled her eyes at him. "At least let me believe it."
"I promise I'll be civil, Tifa."
Noctis crossed his arms and turned away. "Same here."
Barret rested his shoulders on both men's shoulders and gave them a warning squeeze. "At least give us a few days of peace before you break that promise, alright? We're all tired and we just saved a young girl from getting killed by a monster. Tifa?"
The brunette turned her head to Barret. "Yeah. Let's go back."
When they returned to the inn. Aerith and Red had already bought dinner and set their meals on the table. The girl — Priscilla, Aerith told the group — was back with her grandfather and was recuperating.
"Her grandpa asked us to come to their house tomorrow. I said yes and that we'll be there for lunch."
"Lunch?" Barret asked.
"It's either breakfast or lunch, and I'm sure you'd all prefer to sleep in tomorrow."
She did have a point there. The group spent the night snuggled comfortably under their covers and let sleep take over for the rest of the night.
Morning came and like clockwork, Noctis was the last to wake up.
"Wake up, boy." Red hopped on the young prince's bed and pawed at his back. The action startled Noctis awake, though still groggy, and Barret pulled the covers off his head.
"What Red said. Up." Barret held the covers open but Noctis just rolled over to his stomach and hid his head under the pillow.
"Buzz off." He groaned.
Red and Barret shared a mischievous look. The large man threw the covers over Noctis' back and gave the boy a false sense of sleep before Red jumped on his back.
"Up!" He growled.
Noctis yelled into his pillow and shooed Red off the bed. He threw a middle finger at Barret then rubbed the sleep away from his eyes.
"Good, Cloud and Tifa went out to buy breakfast earlier — like a few hours ago — and you're the only one who hasn't eaten yet."
Noctis dropped back to bed and tried to sleep once more but Barret had other plans for him; one which involved a large serving of pancakes and a tall glass of orange juice. He grabbed Noctis by the hand and hauled him up to his feet. He tried patting down the messy spikes in his hair but he promptly gave up when it won't flatten down.
"I can't believe I'm forcing an adult like you to eat. You're worse than my daughter."
"I won't even dignify that with a response."
Later, after Noctis had eaten and the table was cleared, Aerith came through the door holding a bag of supplies.
"Restocked." She held it up with a smile. "We have elixirs again." Aerith's eyes wandered to Noctis and examined him from head to toe. "You look like you need one — or five."
Noctis scowled at her jab but he was inclined to agree. He was still tired. Sleeping all night and waking up late in the morning used to do wonders, but for some reason, it didn't give him the same amount of energy he needed.
Aerith hummed as she crossed the room and placed her palm against his forehead to check his temperature. "You don't feel warm but you look pale. Potion or sleep?"
"Fucking sleep," he closed his eyes and sighed, "I want to sleep."
"Alright, there's still two hours before lunchtime. Go rest."