The City in the Sea

Seek the places where light meets dark, there you will find tales of inexplicably intertwined realms both near and far.

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Claire Gallows
Legendary Adventurer
Legendary Adventurer
Eternal Light

Posts: 1595
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Dunmovin (Outside of Rhydin City), Underwood (New Haven), or Caelum Training Center

The City in the Sea

Post by Claire Gallows »

"Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone"

Valhalla, a lonely throne in a lonelier city, set upon a black sand beach beside an endless sea of Chaos. A lifeless sea where no fish swim, no coral breathes, no salt lingers, no water exists, and the silence is unbroken even by the sound of waves. The water is instead the Chaos, a primordial mass of darkness from which life springs. Valhalla is a vast metropolis of gilded buildings and streets, filled with silence. At the center is a magnificent palace, a structure so huge that it can't be taken in by the eye all at once, and can only be perceived by seeing a little at a time. The gates of the palace open up onto a long pathway lined with stone pillars. The palace itself is a maze of rooms and stairways, leading through a vast empty space. Etro's throne, the throne of the goddess, is built deep within the palace, and the throne itself is surrounded by a circle of stones.

According to legends, Etro's gate is a portal between the seen and unseen worlds, the boundary of which was sealed after the creation of the unseen realm. In the story of Etro's death, Etro opened the gates to invite the death that she had foreseen. After Etro's death, a void formed in the balance and through a less than fortuitous series of events, it was Claire who found herself stepping into the role.

The small saving grace was that, while she was for all intents and purposes the deity of life, death, and rebirth for the realm, the realm was ragged and raw, barely hanging by a thread. The destruction of Pulse and Nova Chrysalia both meant the remaining tendril of life was within the remaining world of Eos.

Needless to say, it meant her workload had been lessened drastically, even with the ever present war between Lucis and Niflheim.

What drew her to the realm between that afternoon, she wasn't quite sure.

It wasn't often that she felt a pull. She knew better than to ignore such things and she had followed the call to the void that had once been a prison and a tomb. Her boots were muted on the granulated chaos that made up the beach. The portal closed behind her, shutting Rhydin away behind the safety of its disconnection from everything Chrysalia related. Not even the expanse of the Nexus touched this place. Thankful for that fact, the goddess sat down, drawing her legs close to her chest, and staring out into the abyss before her.

The goddess remained there for a moment, listening to the nothingness and watching the waves of Chaos lap against the shore. It was... nice. But the peace was a hard-won thing that she didn't expect would last much longer, if her intuition was to be trusted. Something, or more specifically someone, had called her here.

"Hello, old friend," a voice greeted, and Claire's eyes fell on the familiar figure walking towards her. A sight for sore eyes but a sight nonetheless that should not have been seen in such a place, it was none other than her former father-in-law, King Regis.

"Regis?" the goddess questioned, blinking in surprise. "This is not a place you should be."

"I'm aware," he admitted with a slight chuckle. "But we both know I wouldn't be here unless..."

"Unless there was a need for my services," Claire sighed, and then gestured for him to sit down next to her.

The king accepted the gesture and eased down next to her, his cane clacking against the ground. "The children?" He asked.

"Thriving. They'll be nine before long." She said softly, concealing the breaking of her heart as the pieces fell into place and the understanding of just what this visit meant settled into the pit of her stomach.

"Good... too young to return just yet... the throne will have to remain empty for a time." Regis said quietly, pensive as he stared out across the landscape of Valhalla. "A beautiful place, this. I thought it might be a bit more... lively."

Claire snorted. "Dad jokes, at a time like this?"

"Why not?" he said with a shrug. "I'd have thought you'd enjoy them, seeing as you were once married to my son and all."

"True."

"I never got a chance to give Noct the speech about his responsibilities," Regis continued, a bittersweet smile twisting the corners of his lips. "He never was the best with responsibility... or punctuality for that matter."

"No, no he wasn't."

"Not with everyone always encouraging him to do the opposite of his duty."

"Yet he was dutiful to the end," Claire mused, her gaze turning towards the inky sky as she considered his words. "I said goodbye to him, you know. Right here. I had to choose... him or the children. He wouldn't have forgiven me had I chosen him."

"That sounds about right," the king sighed. "The throne is not an easy seat."

"For either of us," she agreed.

"True. And I've no doubt that the road will be a difficult one, especially for you. There will come a time when I hope that the children will return for their birthright, but I believe that the world is safe in your hands for the time being. At least, safer than it would be with them there. I would have rather seen the two of you rule as king and queen, but it wasn't meant to be, and now the fate of the world is in your hands."

"I'm afraid the world is still a bit out of sorts, but it is getting better. And the children are doing well in school. They have the opportunity to live as children should."

"That's good. As they should." Regis's attention turned back towards the ocean, a grim expression taking the place of his gentle smile. "I've not much time left, I know. But I wanted to talk to you before the end. We've had our differences, you and I, and I'm sorry for that. I didn't understand the weight you bore, or the choices you had to make."

"It's alright. I'm sorry too, for... everything."

"You had your reasons, and I cannot blame you for them, regardless of how it hurt to have to part ways."

"Thank you."

"Now, before I go... could you do an old man a favor?"

"What's that?"

"Take care of the children, Claire. Noct was never meant for the throne, but perhaps one day, if they so choose, they will. For now, let them have their childhoods."

"Of course," she promised.

"And tell Leonis it wasn't his fault."

"I'll make sure of it."

"Then I think that is all," Regis said, rising to his feet with a grunt and dusting non-existent dirt from his cloak.

"One last thing."

"Yes?"

"You'll get your chance, you know."

"My chance?"

"To tell your son all that you wished."

"I suppose, in time, I shall," he replied, nodding and looking around at the world he found himself in. "Is this what death is, then?"

"For most, it is a place to rest until they are reborn," she told him, standing as well to dust herself off.

"Will I see Noctis here?"

"Not here, no. But beyond."

"Good. Until then, be well daughter."

With that, the King of Lucis faded away, the light of his soul moving on towards a place that was far beyond Claire's ability to follow. The goddess stared at the place he had been for a long time, her thoughts far away as the Chaos lapped against the shore.

"Until then, dad," she whispered.

---

It was with a cloud of melancholy that she returned to Rhy'din and no sooner had she closed the portal behind her did her phone ring. Even before retrieving it, she knew who it was. Just the same, she picked it up with a sigh, studying the surly portrait plastered on the caller identification before gently swiping the green button to answer.

"Commander Leonis." She said gently.

"Light..." The man on the other end seldom used her nickname, one so few held on to after all these years. She grimaced and bit back the sadness that threatened to choke her words as he continued. "The King... he..."

"I know..." She murmured, relieving him of the burden of having to finish his sentence. "I know."

"How? How do you...?"

"He found me." She answered. It took a moment, but it clicked finally for the stoic man on the other end.

"Of course he would... and you saw him?" He asked, almost hopeful that the King he had so dutifully served might have found a kind face in his last moments.

"I did... He had a message for you."

"Oh?"

"He said... 'tell Leonis it wasn't his fault'."

"It's... not? I mean, I wasn't... but I was." He stuttered, clearly caught off guard.

"It's not. None of it is your fault."

"But if I hadn't..."

"Stop, Cor. Just stop. It wasn't your fault. And even if it was, I'm not mad. He's not mad." She reassured him.

"I... Thank you." He whispered.

"It's what family does." She murmured, the weight of her words not lost on the commander.

"Indeed. If you'll excuse me, Light, I must..."

"Of course, go on. Give the others my regards." She replied.

"Of course."

The line clicked, and she let her phone fall to the table beside her, the screen going black with the call's disconnection. Sighing, Claire rubbed her forehead and turned her attention to the city skyline. The end of an era but not the end of a line, the twins in the other room made certain of that. Nine was much too young to know of such political strife as that which had befallen their homeland. For now, Claire thought, for now she would protect the sanctity of their childhood. The day would come when they would have to learn the truth but that day was not today.
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