Fate is Cruel
One’s life is generally given meaning by their choices. Their values, and desires. In that aspect, I wonder if mine had any meaning at all. Not that I think my part in saving our world was meaningless. No, I just mean that fate is cruel, and I never really had too many true choices in my life. Sure, there are one or two things that could have likely changed the course of my life with a single decision, but I didn’t. I walked the steady path, the one fate laid out for me. Or at least that’s how I felt.
My parents are dead, it sounds harsh when you put it that way, but it’s simply the fact of the matter. They were gone from the time I was a boy, and the only blood family I ever had was my uncle, but we weren’t close. By all accounts technically I am a Count, but then, that never mattered. Though I was a mere two years older than the Prince, I was raised as his advisor. It opened many doors an orphan might not usually have. An impeccable education, and life of luxury and a dear friend. Despite my position I can honestly say that Noctis was a friend first, and then he was my Prince, and eventually King.
That didn’t mean it came without hardships. A life of chasing Noctis around and making sure he was doing his homework, and not constantly sleeping was only one half of the coin. The other, training to be a part of the Crownsguard. Grueling work, but it kept me strong and focused. It also tired me out when I would otherwise spend my days and nights worrying about the future king. Cooking was merely another one of those things I took up to waste some time.
Training was actually...fun on occasion. At least, having the opportunity to relentlessly tease Noctis was fun. Gladio mostly took care of Noct's training, but it took all kinds. Gladio was huge, and brutal but he was slow at times. Sometimes in tandem with Gladio, and sometimes one on one. It was simple, I was agile, preferred finer weaponry. Less brute more trickery, Noctis complained about it being unfair, but that was the point, fights are unfair.
Sometimes my job seemed less like one of an advisor and more of one of a nanny. Preparing meals, cleaning, attending meetings to take notes. Admittedly I likely coddled him more than his own father, and there were only two years between us. The life of a petulant child was one I was never quite allowed, not that I’d want it any other way. At the end of the day, I truly did enjoy my life. Working with Noctis, alongside his Shield and the only friend the prince ever made on his own, it wasn’t so bad.
It all went wrong the day we were sent off to get the Prince married. Married. Admittedly I was...a touch bitter. Though I never truly acknowledged that part of it all. Lady Lunafreya and Noct were matched from the time we were all children, there was no time to delude myself. While Noctis’ fate was sealed, mine was not. I had a few dalliances of my own, not that Noctis or any of the others would ever believe it for a moment. There wasn’t a lot of time for frivolity, however.
At the beginning it all seemed easy, hell, I’ll admit even a little fun. The mission we were sent on was meant to be a joyful one, anyways. Taking Noct to get hitched. Basically one long stag party, in a gorgeous car on the open road. Of course, these things could never be easy. As we would soon find out, it was all a pretense. The treaty with the Empire was a trap. And the King was killed. Noctis was angry, we tried returning, but it was blockaded, unsurprisingly. Still there was some things a person had to find out by themselves, and we could at least allow the prince to try. We were all a touch angry, being sent off when we could have done something, but I knew. I think we all did, but I knew if we had been on the grounds during this, we all would have been just as dead as our King. A cursed day, one of sorrow and hardships but still, we needed to press on.
With the King dead, those burdens were placed on Noct's shoulders. Unfair, maybe, one does not ask for these types of responsibilities at birth but he understood, and shouldered them. I was proud of the determination he had. Finding the weapons of the past Kings became our new mission. To give Noctis a fighting chance. Gladio took to training Noctis much more thoroughly when we'd settle in to camp. There was no time to waste anymore. While all of them were rough around the edges, we were all coping the way we knew best, by acting as if little was wrong. Prompto still snapping pictures, Noctis still taking time to fish. Gladio managed to drag Noctis out of the tent for early morning runs. I commend him honestly, waking up the Prince early was no easy feat.
We felt more like a family then, than we had before and we had all already been quite close. Campfire meals, catering to anyone particular favorites any time one of them seemed particularly down was easy. Prompto was utterly obsessed with animals, there were many of photos of dangerous creatures, sometimes alone and occasionally with Noctis posed in front of them. No matter how many times I had to scold Prompto to fight in battle, not take pictures, he never seemed to listen. We all made it out alive, however, so there was only so much I could say. The photos always were quite amazing, not that I would ever say it to his face. None of them honestly needed their egos stroked.
Things only spiraled from there, as these things do. Keeping out of sight of the Empire ships that were scouring the area was one such issue. Of course we weren't always successful, having to fight off a ship full of soldiers here and there kept us on our game. After all, according to the radios at this point we were all meant to be dead. They had to make it that way as soon as possible.
Ardyn first shows his face as a nobody, but none of us really believed that when we had met him. 'A man of no consequence'. Knowing what I do now, I only wish we could have done something. A puppetmaster leading us around on a string. Just the thought of him is enough to set me off, even now. Leading us to Titan, pinning us in corners, getting us exactly where he wanted us. It seems so obvious now, but even if we had known, there was little we could have done about it. It wasn't until Noctis had to face Leviathan that...well. Ardyn stabbed Luna. A battle with a god is never an easy one, and I had sworn to protect Noctis. He was unconscious after the battle, and I believed Ardyn would have killed him then, but for better or worse I threatened him. I'd die before I saw Noctis killed before me, so I placed on the Ring of Lucii. Admittedly, not one of my better ideas, but it did get the job done. Begging for the favor of the Kings was a success, but it didn't make up for the fact that I was not of royal blood. It came at a price, and that price was my vision.
The darkness would be all I knew for long after. I was a burden, dead weight. I slowed everyone down, and I couldn't even cook for the others, but I refused to be left behind. I refused to let the others face this without me at their sides. Getting around was taxing, dressing myself was difficult, and fighting was...laughable. Still I did not give in, I guess, even I can be quite stubborn at times. It would be the task of Noctis to banish the daemons. And...we even manage to get him to the crystal, but..things did not. Well, the world was plunged into darkness. And the daemons ruled. Ten years. Ten long, hard years of relearning every single thing. My cooking got better, and I could throw a dagger with pinpoint accuracy I never had before. But it didn't come overnight. It was long training sessions, and botched fights with Gladio, and even worse fights with daemons. It was a lot of bites, bruises and gashes, gagged down curatives and not enough sleep. Never enough sleep. Ten years before Noctis would wake once more.
There was no real time to celebrate Noct's return to us. To restore light to the world, Noctis would still have to die. A great deal of power, and a great sacrifice, the only way to destroy Ardyn. Ardyn who was denied passage to the afterlife because he blackened his own soul too greatly. Noctis had all the power of the crystals, but it didn't matter in the end. It was a fight, and a terrible one, getting Noctis to the throne room. We all were prepared to give up our lives that night. And....if I'm honest...I believe I did. I expected to be reunited with Noctis, and the others in the afterlife. I expected...something. One moment I was holding off a hoard of daemons, but their numbers were too many. The pain was too great, and then everything faded into a soft buzz.
Nothing. And then suddenly, I was somewhere else. At first I thought I had truly died. And that where I awoke was the afterlife, but, none of the others had been there. Not to mention I still could not see. I'm not sure why I thought such ailments would be removed in the afterlife, but I did. No, this place was different, and dead was not what I was if the pain was anything to go by. I didn't have any of the wounds I had in battle, but my entire body felt as though I'd been hit by a truck.
It was an odd new world I was in. The air felt different on my skin, and magic was so much different from my home, but still a familiar tingle. It took a while to find out exactly what this world was, asking questions only seemed to get me directed to pamphlets, and it seemed it was too much to ask for any of them to be printed in braille.
Despite the state of my eyes, many did not believe I was blind with how I got around as easily as I did. So I acquired a can once more, despite hating the idea of needing such a crutch. It was easy enough here, however, it was more like home than I would care to admit. It seemed like this world was just as ravaged by fiends as his own had once been so employment was simple. Staying in one place, however, allowed me to dwell too much on what could have been, on my mistakes, on the mistakes of the others. One every moment we could have done something different to change the course of this damned fate.
So I simply didn’t. Camping brought back memories I would rather keep buried but, it was better than the alternative. Fighting for every single thing I had was better than wallowing in the unfairness of it all. I would carve a new life out for myself. I was the caretaker of a stubborn, lazy prince no longer.