"Gods, Ignis. Laying it on pretty thick already," he chuckles as he takes the envelope, giving him a wink while removing the document to briefly glance over. He intended on giving it a full review once they were situated in the vehicle, but his inquisitive nature regarding anything that Ignis touched brought out his curiosity. Naturally pleased, he slid it back into the envelope, just in time to enjoy a sweet taste of his lips and a courteous escort outside of the throne room. "It wasn't just me," he comments, countering the drop of his hand by taking his lover's own again; it is true that their courtship was no secret, but their lengthy separation while he basked in the glow of the Crystal and the things he had learned had given him perspective: if he had a chance to show his love and appreciation within reason, he wanted to do it, and this was no exception. Their trek to the garage was quiet and peaceful, and he would occasionally steal glances at his lover, his own demeanor still radiating with happiness over the selection of the day and the joy that would come with it.
Finally, his people would see progress is being made, and he was elated to spend that moment surrounded by all the people he had dedicated himself to.
"What a crowd!" He expresses with a genuine smile and a nod to those that surrounded him. While his driver was given a nod of gratitude, he can't help but divert most of his attention to those more personable with him - Cor in particular - their bond as of late strengthened by their joint efforts in resorting Insomnia to both her former glory in in their last king's vision for the future. These days, they rarely butted heads, a certain sign that Noctis had finally shed his rebellious ways to embark on a destiny that had been re-written for him, something he would never forget to honor. "Come on, Cor. What is it with you guys today? First Ignis, now you? You know I can't handle all this... sentiment." He's only partially serious as is evidenced by his own charming grin, but he nods to both him and Monica in gratitude as well, waving them off as they vacated the area. He watches them go in quiet awe, still thankful to be among them in their natural state as well as the rest of the world he once thought he would have to leave to save them all, and it isn't until the door opens does he shake from his thoughts. Turning to the one that had saved him, his eyes grow a bit misty, but he hides it by sliding into the car and dragging him with. The moment was a bit much, but in the best of ways. "Sorry. I'm just overwhelmed. Not that I want to run away from this. It's a good type of overwhelmed. I still can't believe that this is happening, that I am here with you, and we are back in Insomnia. I can't tell you how many times I wished for this but had convinced myself it was not my path. You paved that road for me. I'll never be able to thank you enough." Taking his hand once again, he gives him a squeeze as the car drives off in the direction of the hospital. With his entourage following in all directions, he gazes out the window to enjoy the view with the one he loved the most.
"I don't... have any questions, Iggy. I think I got it. I just want to let it soak in for a while. It still feels like a dream. I hope I never wake up from it."
"My king, forgive me, but it is time for you to rise."
"But I'm so tired..."
"King Noctis, I hate to do this, but you yourself gave me no choice."
"I know," he replies groggily, stirring after several hours of deep, undisturbed sleep, the fatigue he feels both heavy and clouding his vision, but he had instructed his hired help not to let him sleep past nine in the morning, and even then was pushing it. These days, it is impossible for him to solely count on Ignis to keep on his strict schedule due to their respective responsibilities and because of this, he gives those tasks to those that continue to remain loyal to House Caelum - specifically those that cared for him in his youth that had survived when Insomnia burned. They were older now, more frail, but so ready and able to care for the young prince that had grown under their watchful eye, and he couldn't imagine relying on anyone else. Sighing deeply, he stretches his arms outward for more comfort, showing to his former nanny that he was indeed on the rise. Satisfied, she bows to him before vacating his room to give him privacy, but before he crawls out of bed, he lies there with eyes on the ceiling and focus drifting to Ignis which was inevitable when he came to mind. With a small smile and eyes still closed, he recounts their time together.
During his decade-long absence while basking in the glow of the Crystal, he couldn't imagine what sort of world awaited him, but when he emerged a new man with a new purpose (along with brand new abilities that would help pave their future), he remembers being completely shocked by the rebuild; it must have been difficult taking care of the world while blanketed in darkness and surrounded by powerful daemons, but if there was anyone capable of taking the reigns and making a mountain out of a molehill, it was without a doubt Ignis Scientia. He even swears that he managed to start constructing Insomnia even as it was consumed by Ardyn and daemons, but Ignis would laugh off his accusation with a shrug of his broad shoulders, wearing a smile that had hardly diminished in the long years they had been separated. He seemed as magical as any member of House Caelum, and his admiration for him has grown substantially in the years that followed. After implementing his plan for the both of them to witness the coming of Dawn together, Ignis didn't seem to miss a beat when it came to the restoration of their world, and most importantly, their relationship. With that in mind, he curls onto his side to briefly recall their past night together, and it's all the inspiration he needs to get out of bed and greet the day. He had important obligations that could not be missed, and since he never wanted to disappoint his people or his blessed advisory panel, he is quick to shower and dress for the occasion, sporting a simple but elegant black suit with a matching tie, a pin on his collar representing old Insomnia, a nod to the past he often wears as they paved the way toward their future.
"Majesty, will you be dining in this morning? I can prepare you anything you would like," asks a senior ranking member of his kitchen staff standing as poised as ever in the throne room while gazing up at his King. With a shake of his head, he dismisses him with gratitude, implying that he would seek out food later, but in reality, he wanted to wait for Ignis to join him. Besides, time was now of the essence, one of his faithful staff members standing beside him near the throne to go over last minutes notes regarding the opening of the hospital that he genuinely could not wait to take part in. It was another monumental step toward a brighter future for all, and these days, he took full advantage of any opportunity to bring his people together to celebrate. Signing off on a few documents, he smiles to his adviser one last time before she scurries down the steps, heading off to finish her own preparations. As she crosses the threshold to the door, she bumps into Ignis, offering her apologies before heading on her way. This, naturally, alerts Noctis of Ignis's anticipated presence, and for the moment, all else seems to wash away.
"Ignis!" Now, he was less of a king and more of a man in pursuit of someone he cared deeply for; he is fully aware that his beloved would enjoy the view of him near his throne, but he would have to savor that image at another time as he couldn't help but warp away from his seat among kings to be by Ignis's side, eagerly throwing his arms around him once he fully forms. He had yet to greet him on this day, one that was so very important to their rise from the ashes, and he didn't want to wait to do so another minute longer. "Good morning. I'm so glad you're here. I didn't think I would get to see you very much before we left. Thank you for coming back."
This behavior is so unlike him, but when all the pieces fall into place and those he loves fight for him - and all - to have a better future, he can't help but wake up with a smile every day. This was peace, this was happiness, and this was pure love, all things he had come to accept and embrace once the shadow of death finally stopped following him everywhere he went.
"...would it matter either way? It's all the same now."
"Two hundred years ago on this day, Ignis was born. If it weren't for you, I could be spending this day where I belong. With him, wherever he is. You stole that from me."
"...you have stolen the very life of this planet with your vengeance. We are the only ones left. There is nothing left to prove. Eos is a dead star."
"Perhaps, but you ended my life when you took away all that I loved. You also took from me my ability to care about anything else. Sad way for it to end, hm?"
"You're a monster, Noctis. You are a-.. ah..!"
He wouldn't allow the Usurper to finish his chastising. Instead, he silences him in the best of ways, by stabbing him through his black heart with the Sword of the Father, a fitting defeat for the entity that had ripped away any sliver of happiness Noctis held onto. This gives Ardyn that sweet release he has longed for for well over two thousand years, but with the power of the Crystal unwillingly coursing through his veins, he drags Ardyn right back to the land of the living with a simple spell, the man sputtering blood and gasping for air once he is drawn back to the very place he has wanted to leave for what seemed like eternity. Shivering from the pain, his tired, amber hues gaze at their equal, a look of indifference settling on his features once the shock of death and agonizing life calms.
"...we cannot do this forever. You cannot do this forever. He pleads, but as always, it falls on deaf ears.
"I am forbidden to ascend because of the hatred I feel for all I have lost at your hand, Ardyn. This dance between you and me? It's forever now."
Although it has been almost two centuries since the fall of their star and end of life as they knew it, the despair he feels from that moment where Ignis died in his arms is an open gash he cannot mend; no matter how many times he murders Ardyn in clever, unique ways to inflict as much pain as possible, the overwhelming sadness he feels never seems to go away. As he has done so many times before, he relives that moment as he sits next to an exhausted Ardyn, both surrounded by blackness and death, a path Noctis has chosen for their planet after unbearable loss and suffering at the hands of the Gods and the Crystal.
"What if we don't make it?! What if he's already dead!?" Cries an anxious, twenty-year old Noctis Lucis Caelum, a man that is not yet privy to the heavy weight of his ultimate destiny, but also knows for certain that he cannot lose another companion, particularly not one as important to him as Ignis, but the outlook was bleak at best, and he knew the challenge Ignis faced by throwing down with Ardyn. From the intel they have gathered and the statements given to them by Ravus himself, Ardyn was death-incarnate, untouchable and unkillable, and since he had orchestrated the fall of Insomnia and murdered Luna without a second thought, he knew Ignis would not escape this unscathed. Driven by the rush to save him, him and his friends raced through Zegnautus Keep until they had found the battleground, but what hope remained that they would find him alive disintegrated at the sight before him, and he knew his path in life would never be the same.
"Ignis!" He screams as he warps toward him, instantly dropping to his knees by his side, his arms quick to gather his dying frame close to him. His heart is racing as he scans over his body at his fatal wounds, and when he sees the Ring, he snatches it from his finger in the hope that he could slow down the process, but he was too late. He didn't make it. He couldn't f***ing save Ignis! And this alone shatters him in ways that will be felt the world over. "Ignis, please! Stay strong, stay with me. I'm here now! I'm here! I'm going to save you.."
"Noctis..." Ignis whispers in his final moments, those striking emerald hues losing their luster, his own leaking with tears as he gazes at him in sorrow. "I am sorry..."
"No. Please! No, don't be sorry. You don't... have anything to be sorry for. I'm sorry! I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough! I'm sorry, I... you deserve so much better than this! Please, don't leave me, Ignis! I won't... I can't live without you. I need you. I-..."
But, it's too late. With one final breath, Ignis leaves their world to ascend to the promised land, and he is left with a warm body and immense regret for not being enough to keep him safe in their wretched world. By now, Gladio and Prompto had caught up to them, but they kept their distance to allow their prince to grieve as well as despair on their own. Sobbing, he buries his face into Ignis's shoulder, crying for the man he loved so deeply, trembling hands clenching onto his shirt that was tattered from battle. The grief that consumes him makes him forget everything else; it's as though his life flashed before his eyes the moment Ignis had to leave him, a tragic nod to the truth that Noctis Lucis Caelum ceased to exist from that moment on, and a new, dangerous version of himself had emerged. In the distance, the Crystal glowed, calling out to him for them to become one, and after holding onto his beloved Ignis for what seemed like eternity, he carefully lays his body back down on the ground, his tear-stained cheeks hot and flushed from emotion. As he stared down at him sadly admiring his beautifully peaceful features one last time, he makes a promise, and it is a promise that will doom their world for all eternity.
"I might not have been strong enough to save you, Iggy, and that is a regret I will carry with me for the rest of my life, but I promise you that I will avenge your death. Your name will be heard in every corner of this forsaken world for as long as I am still breathing. You will never be forgotten. I will never let your memory die. I... I promise." Through his tears, he kisses those perfectly soft lips, tucks his tousled hair away from his eyes as he expresses his undying love to him, then rises to his feet with new resolve. The Crystal, the Gods, and even his forebears have no idea the damage they have done by allowing that menace to society the freedom to do as he pleased, but he vowed to ensure every entity heard his anguish at having everything ripped from him. Still ignoring Prompto and Gladio, he warps to the Crystal to answer its call, just as Ardyn had planned all along.
Unfortunately for a man that was hell-bent on speeding up the process to leave this world, he did not anticipate how deeply the death of the king's true north would affect him.
What should have been a joyous and momentous occasion after the True King's return to save them all ended up damaging their fragile world far worse than anyone could have imagined. Hell-bent on revenge despite the years of sleep to help mend the wounds, he viciously and brutally attacks Ardyn, but Noctis refuses to let him die, and this dance continues for all eternity. There is no end to it; every time he manages to kill Ardyn, he brings him right back to tango again, and because this effectively leaves the world in total darkness, their civilization begins to die out. Weaker people that needed assistance to stay alive during the time he basked in the glow of the Crystal meet their end. Elders, those with special needs, and excess animals that nobody can afford to care for die out first. The growing population of daemons start to take out those fit to survive but lack the skills to protect themselves. It's a cycle of death that could have easily been avoided if Noctis would simply let his anger go, but he can't and he won't, and he has made that clear in every possible way. Ardyn is his trophy as he sits on his throne, the once idealistic prince now a shell of his former self. He is forever trapped in his thirties due to the effects of the Crystal; he will not age nor die, and he vows to make certain Ardyn is very much the same. This madness continues for a decade unchallenged, but that didn't mean his loyal retinue wasn't planning for some sort of intervention. In the midst of the chaos, Gladio and the Kingsglaive were devising some sort of assault, but Cor had convinced Gladio to instead approach his king with reason. By now, the madness was deafening, and Noctis was no longer himself, a consequence to the immense power he harbors and defeat he feels losing all he loved. Choosing reason at Cor's prompting, Gladio made his way to Insomnia twelve years after Noctis's return, bypassing daemons and monsters until he finds his King on his throne. The sight he beholds terrifies him, but for the sake of his best friend and their world, he keeps it together.
"Majesty... Noctis. Noct! What have you done? This can't go on! Your people are dying! The last thing I want is for you to go, but there is no end to this. Why are you doing this!? I know losing Iggy was tough, but you're the king! It's your job to keep pressing forward!" As he gazes at his deranged monarch as he sits on his throne, he holds his blade close to his heart, yet holds out hope it will not come to blows.
"Gladio, why would you even bother coming here? You know it's not going to end well. Look at Ardyn here. It's not going well for him, either." Gesturing toward an incapacitated Ardyn at his side, Noctis flashes a smirk at his former shield, but doesn't raise a hand to him just yet. For once, Gladio actually feels sorry for the Usurper as he has heard rumors of all Noctis was doing to him for the sake of revenge. Still, he maintains his composure to continue trying to reason with him despite the sight before him sickening him.
"...take me with you, Noctis. I'll go with you. End this. Kill him for good so we can save the rest of the world. We're running out of food. We can't survive much longer. Do you want to see our world die out because you lost Ignis!? He wouldn't want this! He wanted you to be our king - not despair over him! You're going to kill us all at this rate!"
"...you're right," he begins as he stands from his seat, eyes bearing down on Gladio from the distance they shared. For a split second, Gladio feels as though he may have gotten through to him, but he notes the malice in his former liege's eyes, and he braces himself for a battle he feels is coming. "Poor, sweet Ignis would hate to see me like this, but I promised him I would not let his memory die. I can't be with him. I'm not longer allowed into the promised land, but you are." With that, he raises his hand and starts to sap Gladio's life force. The former shield drops to his knees in anguish, the cold sting of death consuming him. "Tell Ignis how much I love him, will you? Tell him I kept my promise. Tell him I didn't let his memory die. Tell him I would give anything to be with him. Tell him I cry for him daily, that I would burn this world to the ground with every man, woman, and child in it just to be with him. I hope you will enjoy the peace I am giving you, Gladio. You get to be with Ignis now. That's much better than this wretched place, hm?" With that, Gladio's body drops to the floor, his soul departing for the Beyond, and because every sliver in Noctis's being is jealous that he can't do the same, he takes out his aggression on Ardyn, assaulting him in every devastating way imaginable, only to continue bringing him back again. This was their life now, and no amount of redemption would ever change that.
Eventually, all life dies. Every person, animal, and plant fades. Darkness envelopes their world, and if it were not the Crystal flowing through him and the scourge through Ardyn, they, too, would have seen their end, but instead, they live on with their dying world. It is nothing more than ash and flames, and the Gods themselves have fallen into slumber for centuries until they can devise another plan to save their world, but until then, Noctis walks the earth a shell of his former self; there is no man left in him aside from his despair at losing Ignis. His sanity was compromised centuries ago; he swears sometimes he can feel Ignis's presence, and perhaps he does, but that is the only connection he has with the one he loves. His only saving grace is knowing that Ignis was safe in the promised land, and not drowning in a world Noctis has destroyed out of rage, anger, vengeance, and worst of all, a broken heart.
This was the ending Regis tried to avoid, but the world was doomed the second Ignis Scientia was used motivate the king.