Where... Am I?
When I opened my eyes, the only thing that my blurred vision was met with was a distorted array of colors. They blinded my foggy mind for a few moments before I allowed them to fall back to a loose close; I wasn't in the mood to try and figure out what it all meant. I could remember... Running up to the Crystal of Lucii, reaching my hand out and the light blinding me in a flash. The burning still partially lingered against my skin from the pure exposure, but my dulled senses weren't in any shape to be discerning much else other than that. The passing of time was unreadable and every time I opened my eyes, the colors would change. What happened before this?
How did I get here?
Sometimes, voices would filter in through the constant white static that bogged down my ears and I swore that I could hear people laughing, speaking to me, holding conversation that had nothing to do with me, screaming and crying.. Some of them sounded hurt. Part of me wanted to wake up in order to help them, but the other parts of me weren't quite ready, yet. I knew it was selfish, I knew that it was wrong, however I couldn't will myself to move. In the deepest depths of my consciousness, I was a ashamed - guilty that I wasn't able to care.
I couldn't tell if it was a matter of years or a matter of seconds. The colors were beginning to take form and shape into figures able to be processed; they were fragments.. Of my life. The first was my father: King Regis. Even though I'd grown up around him, I can't say I knew him too well. He sacrificed so much not only for his Kingdom, but for me, and he tried so hard to instill that kind of behavior in me, but I was too damn stubborn to listen to him. After he died, my world had fallen apart into irreplaceable shards that just cut me deep when I tried to grasp them. Eventually, I tried to make myself forget him entirely, but he would always show right back up in dreams... And here, apparently.
Even now, he was smiling to me. His eyes were that of a doe when he looked at me, soft, gentle, caring and all things betwixt. He cared so much for me and all I wanted to do was get away from him and resent the responsibilities that he attempted to shoulder for me for as long as he could.. What a brat I was. What a selfish, narcissistic shit-head. Even here, in this state of delusion the crystal had fabricated for me, I could still manage to feel that red-hot dagger ceaselessly pulsating pain into the depths of my chest. My eyes closed again, deep slumber forcing me under until the images would appear before me again.
" walk tall, my son. "
A sharp tug on my shoulder was what caused my eyes to slowly open only to be met face to face with Gladiolus who was sternly gazing at him with a usual frown that only a disappointed big brother could wear. My first instinct was to roll my eyes, but that - I knew - would only get me in deeper shit than I already was. Whatever that was. Gladio could be annoying sometimes, but ever since I was little he was tasked with training me to be a warrior that could defend my Kingdom - he could be hard on me, but that was his role. I resented him so much at first, wanted nothing to do with his crap attitude and the way he tried to force responsibility on me that I never asked for.
There was a lot more to the story than I'd known. His bloodline had gone back far in serving the King of Lucis, and Gladio felt like he was no different. For me, he'd lay his life on the line in a split second; what he was wanting from me in return was a reason for him to do so. All of that "high and mighty" crap didn't resonate with me early on, but with the way he was looking at me now.. I think I'm starting to get it. He'd done more than teach me how to swing a blade or survive out in the wilderness. He'd taught me how to think for myself and to persevere no matter the situation, even if the odds were stacked against me a million to one.
My eyelids grew heavy.. It was getting near impossible to keep them open. I smiled as they drifted close, the image of my friend growing farther and farther distant, but his voice rang in my mind crystal clear
" rise and shine, your highness. "
A cold wetness was what caused me to rouse from my sleep; it soaked through my shoes and drifted half way up my lower legs, causing a shiver to rustle its way down my spinal column. Not only that, but there was chill in the air that carried a musty scent that made me almost sick to my stomach. I peered forward to see a blurred vision fading into focus that I had to squint to see. Ignis - his eyes were forced to a shut and accompanied a scar that was etched into the left side of his face. His expression was pained, angered and shameful.
Immediately I wanted nothing more than to reach out for him and console him; I knew what this was. This memory was a powerful one; Ignis Scentia was admitting defeat, which was something he never did. He was a man of both pride and integrity, so coming forth with weakness was completely out of character for him in one of the most shocking fashions. My stomach twisted all over again while I tried to walk towards the scene that I was forced to watch all over again. Not only was it heart wrenching to see Ignis' turmoil, but it was also difficult to accept the lesson that this was trying to instill in me: that sometimes.. It's okay to rely on others. Without the help of those beside me, I would be cold, alone, and in the dark. I reached out my hand only for the soggy ground underneath me to give way, my body being engulfed in that sickening coldness and throwing me back into a depressing state of unconsciousness.
" if i can't keep up, i will bow out. "
The sound of a soft, trembling voice made me stir. When I came to, I was facing a billboard sign with words that were too blurred for me to make out just yet, but I didn't feel the need to stare long enough to find out. I turned to face both myself and Prompto who at next to me on the edge of a rooftop, leaning close to me and admitting all of his internal insecurities he tried so hard to hide from the world around him. I wanted to speak, but when I tried to use my vocal cords nothing refused to operate correctly; all I could do was watch as my best friend sat in his own internal conflict and pain he'd created for himself.
Originally coming from Niflheim, Prompto was always trying to prove to himself that he was worth something, that he could account for the space he took up. I always, always admired him for his strength when I found that out, though part of me felt like I'd known all along. He was a different type of person, though I never thought of it in a bad way... To learn that he hated himself was hard, but it also gave me courage. Thinking over it again, it sounded odd. The strange bravery that it implanted in me was due to the fact that he taught me it was okay to accept those kinds of feelings - that feeling insecure wasn't a weakness, but rather showed strength if I was able to admit it to myself. Then, and only then, would I be able to try an heal those broken parts of myself and allow myself to grow.
The vision suddenly faded as I mused over the realization, my consciousness sapped from me all over again.
" There were times when I felt - well - worthless. "
What awaited me next, wasn't a memory of the past.
It was a beautiful array of blue that coated the entire, cloudless sky; I could feel the warmth of light bathing over my pale skin and immediately, I sucked in a deep breath to prove to myself I was still alive. I had control of my body again - I quickly brought a hand up to touch my face to make sure it wasn't another hallucination. Underneath me was sand, which my opposite hand was quick to touch; the granules were warm and fine, their texture like physical music to my attention-starved skin. The amount of time I'd spent in the crystal was unbeknownst to me, but it would seem that I was... Free from it. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why the crystal had decided to show me all of those things - it was as if it was trying to make me learn, to get me ready for something I couldn't yet comprehend.
All of the memories that I'd lost started to flood back in at that point, from the very beginning. Once the war started between the nations of Niflheim and Lucis, nothing was the same as it used to be. Quickly, the world around me had begun to fall apart; King Regis, my father.. He'd lost his life during a raid after he'd sent me and my friends off for my betrothal to Lady Lunafreya and the Crown City fell to Niflheim's forces. The place I'd known as home ceased was turned into something I'd never known - I never could have imagined. After that, becoming King was the only thing left for me; I went on the journey to visit all of the tombs of my royal ancestors and obtain their powers as foretold, but no matter what I did, there was a trail of destruction that I wrought.
Niflheim... The Empire had been trying to use the mighty Gods known as The Six in order to take over the rest of the world - with them, they would be absolutely unstoppable. Lady Lunafreya lost her life to one of these Gods as she tried to get the Ring of Lucii to me, a special relic with powers only able to be used by those of the royal bloodline. With its power I would be able to reach the Crystal of Lucii and through that union.. The world would be saved from the darkness that the Empire used to its advantage. Daemons had ruled the land during nightfall; I could recall the darkness, the chill in the air that signified that the sun would refuse to rise above the horizon..
After filling up my arsenal with the blades of the past kings, the four of us planned an attack on the Empire's base - where the crystal was being held - only for us all to get separated. Alone, I traveled throughout the terrifyingly dark and demented facility while desperately searching for them - we did find each other again, but our reunion was short-lived. As they held off the onslaught of daemons that attempted to put a stop to our plans, I ran to the Crystal of Lucii with my hand adorning the ring outstretched. As soon as I made contact with it, there was a bright, blinding light-
My memories came back to me in pieces as I made my way around the place known as Cascata, soon learning that this world was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Over time, I came to know the sectors rather well by taking up odd jobs and bounty hunting to obtain an income for myself. Little by little, the aspect of returning to a cushioned, princely life had faded farther away as the days rolled by. In a way, it was kind of relieving.
But at the same time...
Deep in my heart, the thing that I knew I wanted most was to go back. To be with them again.