Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chapter 2 - prayer & wish


I thought, "Does this place also have a horizon of land and sea?"

In Cocoon, there isn't a slight curve that distinguishes sky and sea or sky and land. One cannot measure Cocoon's sky with his/her eyes. Although, there was certainly airspace for birds to fly and for air bikes to be flown back and forth.

After fleeing to Gran Pulse, I saw a sky that was liberated from the land and sea for the first time. What was above my head was not a continuation of land or sea but the sky itself. The blueness that hurt my eyes was the color of hope. As long as I was under this sky, there was a way. That's what it seemed like.

There was a sky in this place also, just like Gran Pulse. However, the color was cold and oppressive.

What I thought of for the first time I looked up at that sky was the people that I cherish.

I wonder if Serah's okay? Well, Snow is probably protecting her without a doubt. I wonder if Hope's okay. I wonder if Sazh and his son have been separated? I wonder if Fang and Vanille, the crystal pillar, are not hurt? What of the people of Cocoon who are supported by the crystal pillar...?

Engulfed by a strange anomaly and waking up to find she had drifted to the shore of an unknown place, Lightning's biggest concern was everyone's well-being. After that, she pondered of where she was. She realized it was useless no matter how hard she thought after endlessly walking along the beach.

No, it may have only seemed like forever. Even though she had trudged through the unforgiving sand she felt no sign of fatigue. She did not feel hunger nor did she thirst.

It was strange. Obviously her perception of time is going berserk. She could measure the time she felt relatively accurately. This was because she was a soldier and had been trained in this way. It was strange of her to wonder and not know how much time had passed.

Maybe this bizarre sea is the culprit? It does not give off any sound and heedless of the color of the sky, its deep black stretches as far as the eye can see.

At first she walked along the beach and she thought she would try to search for an estuary. She could head inland while staying alongside the river without getting lost. Don't lose sight of your current position, such is the inviolable rule when in a foreign land. But she changed her mind. "I should get away from the water."

Furthermore, while walking she noticed that this place was dense with fog. Again, she wondered if she should define this as "fog" but she had seen something that seemed like ruins and now it was masked by something. Although this "something" had the form of fog its color was different. It was a dark color, not black and not grey. Even so one could see, even from far away, that it was not something like soot or smoke.

It kind of looks like "that," Lightning said furrowing her brows. The black entity that had coiled around her whole body at that time. It did look like fog but when touched one could feel a strange power. She did not want to think that "that" and this drifting fog were the same thing.


Lightning shook her head and dispelled the thought.

Using her experience and common knowledge as reference, she thought she probably shouldn't move away from the beach. She can't measure time or range and she also can't make a landmark of anything, so she would just be left bumbling her way through only to become lost.

Also, she had a feeling that she had to go somewhere. She has no idea of her destination. She doesn't understand but this beach is different. She felt that she should believe this intuition.

She started to walk with her back to the sea. She walked as fast as she could, but she did not run. For if she ran, her stamina would be consumed needlessly. But she did rush as if she was urged on by something.

She would be lying if she said that she didn’t lose heart because she was all by herself. However, she thought that it was better that she was here by herself. There were many times that she lost her way in places as bizarre as this. Also...

"No, stop thinking. I don't want to think what's beyond that."

She walked as if she was running from something. She kept telling herself not to think of the unnecessary. More importantly, she had to find some sort of clue. Just where in the world is this place?

The thought that she had to find a way back never occurred to her. She could assume that this wasn't a place where one could just go back that easily.

Looking over her shoulder, she could no longer see the water anymore. The entity that resembled fog enshrouded her back. She could not hear the roar of the sea so she couldn't tell how far she was from the sea.

"Just have to keep moving onward, I guess..."

She tried to cheer herself up with positive words, no matter how useless doing so may have been. Even still, she could not see the "onward" that stretched before her that well. "Maybe I should wait for the fog to clear? No, this may not be the type of fog that clears when you wait..."

More importantly, she did not want to stop. For if she stopped, she would start to think of unnecessary matters. Yes, for example:

Could I be dead?

That entity appeared out of nowhere. I was constricted by that entity that resembled the darkness. Then I was pulled into that fissure that ran across the land. Did I not die at that time?

It would be logical to think that way. The fact that I don't see anyone that I know means that they are all alive and that I'm dead. I mean, I can't perceive time nor do I fatigue or hunger.

“No! I'm alive!”

I won't accept it... I'll never accept that.

She walked along blindly. She would not get tired no matter how much she walked, so she put her all into walking. She didn't know how big this place was but if she walks from corner to corner she could no longer say that the place was "unknown" to her.

Possessed by this thought, she focused only on moving her feet... How much time had passed? She found something that was a bit out of place where she currently stood.


"A stuffed toy Moogle?”

They used to be piled in mountains and sold in toy stores for a period of time. They have a gargantuan head and a stomach that bulges with stubby arms and legs along with skinny eyes and a perfect circle of a nose. One couldn't say it was adorable but there was comical and easy to love about it. They were popular with children.

Which means, could people possibly be living here? What's more, that includes children that could harbor love for a stuffed toy. However, the toy was very damaged. It was face-down and seemed to be abandoned; it was a bit sad.

"This is mean, even for a stuffed toy."

She thought as she reached out her hand to move the moogle to a more suitable place.

"Mog isn't a stuffed toy, kupo!"

The thing that Lightning thought was a stuffed toy sprang up suddenly. The wings on its back fluttered and its circular form softly floated in the air. Up until just now, she thought that moogles were fictional beings but it seems that she had been wrong all this time. The summoned beasts of legend actually existed so it wasn't at all strange that moogles existed too.

Seeing it move like this proves that it is indeed a living creature. She felt that the hue of her surroundings had changed. A sort of warm, nostalgic, feeling of relief.

Then the moogle's wings started to droop and it fell back to the ground. Lightning panicked and called to it. This creature had warmed her heart that had been frozen over by this bizarre place.

"Are you hurt?"

When she looked at it, one side of its wing was a little bent. Maybe it fell from somewhere? Or maybe, it couldn't tell where it was going in the fog and crashed into something?

"Are you okay? Let me see."

She then extended her hand.

"Duel with me, kupo!"

The moogle got up. Although it's voice was cheerful, it was suffering from a deep gash; Lightning could see that its leg was swaying loosely. Just by the soft motion of the wings it looked like a dangling old dish rag.

" A duel? You can't do anything with that gash..."

"It's okay, just duel with me, kupo! That's the rule of Valhalla, kupo!"


Was it talking about this place?

"You don't know the rule, kupo? The weak abide by the strong. It's a rule established by the goddess, kupo."

Goddess? Who could that be? Could it be a god as it says or maybe some person or monster just playing god?


"So, when two people happen across each other they have to fi-"

The moogle's body was shaking violently. He spoke bravely but he was just barely standing.

"Get a hold of yourself."

Lightning extended a finger to the moogle's back in order to help lift him up. She was surprised by the warmth. It was beyond a doubt the warmth of a living creature.

The suspicion that she had been dead was completely blown away. That little bodily warmth of that little creature assured her of that. It assured her that she also was living, that without a doubt she was living in this place.

She then picked the moogle up, shocked by how light it was. The moogle slipped from her grasp. Although, as it slipped through, it was unable to stay airborne so it fell to the ground headfirst. Even still, it raised its body with a start.

"I... haven't lost yet... kupo."

There's so much fighting spirit contained in this little body. Even though the moogle's feet were shaky, it stood and started to make its way toward Lightning.

For some reason, she saw a bit of Hope, at the time when she met him, in this moogle. The fifteen-year-old who was determined to lived on and grow strong during that arduous time of escape.

"This is my fate, huh?"

At that time, Lightning herself was being pursued and she had flung harsh words at Hope. She couldn't take it. She thought that she would try to make up for it right now, once more.

"Okay. Come at me."

As if cheered on by those words, the Moogle rose into the air. She saw that its wings were still drooping, it seemed like it wasn't using its wings at all to fly.

"Now, en garde, kupo!"

The moogle brandished what looked like a wand with a clock attached and came at her. The moogle tried to attack her from the front, but its power was not into it. Even so this was all the moogle could muster.

Lightning could not bring herself to hit or hurl this sad moogle. But she would not go easy on an opponent who was this serious. The brooding and fretting Mog said thus:

"Now it's your turn! Hurry up bring it on!"

While looking at those slender eyes and that large forehead, her childhood memories came rushing back. There was a boy, of similar countenance, who was bothering Serah.

"Don't make Serah cry!"

She got mad and poked the boy on his forehead. As if scared by the single poke and Lightning's enraged voice, the boy never bothered Serah again.


"Maybe I'll pull poke him as hard as I can, just like that time," Lightning thought as she flicked her index finger. Maybe it was just her, but the reaction was the same as last time. Except, unlike the bully who ran way half-crying, the moogle didn't run. It just fell to the earth with a flop.

"It was just a forehead poke, but maybe I overdid it," Lightning thought. But upon closer glance, the moogle, who had fallen face down, moved his pom-pom. Lightning let out a sigh of relief.

“I lost again, kupo...”

It's hard to think that anyone would lose to this moogle. There is certainly no place as cruel as this in which a creature as weak as a moogle must fight as soon as it meets someone.

"Have you been fighting like this all this time?"

"Of course, kupo," answered the moogle weakly.

"If you run away before meeting someone you don't have to fight, right?"

"Of course not, kupo. Rules are rules."

He became as beat up as an old dust-cloth as the result of abiding by the rules in earnest. He probably realized how weak he was. Being knocked about this badly, he had no choice but to realize it. He stood and fought knowing that he would lose in the end. That foolish honesty and innocence. She thought that she couldn't just leave him.

"How long do you intend to sleep? Hurry and get up. Let's go."

The moogle looked up to Lightning looking surprised.

"I can go with you, kupo?"

"But," the moogle hanged his head in shame, " I'm the weakest in all of Valhalla. I'm so weak and useless that no one ever wants to be my friend."

Lightning came to a vague realization: In this world where which the division between the weak and strong is so defined, those who are assigned to the lowest rank are deemed hindrances and cast aside. The strong demand those who serve them to be strong.

They can't run, even though no one cares. This moogle was fighting a solitary battle here all this time...

"The weak serve the strong. That's the rule here, isn't it?"

With one more "Let's go" from Lightning, the moogle sprang up energetically. The wings on its back, which didn't even give the slightest flutter, beat strongly as if they regained their power.

"Are you hurt? Can you fly fine now?"

"All illness comes from the mind, kupo!"

"Why you sneaky little..."

While giving a bitter laugh, Lightning acknowledged that that might be true. She now understood all too well the strength one can receive from not being alone, and having someone to talk to.


"Master... I'll follow you until the day I die, kupo!"

I don't deserve to be called master.

"Anyway, tell me, you referred to this place as 'Valhalla'?"

The moogle nods. He tilted his head to one side dumbfounded because it's rare to find people that don't know about this world.

"I don't know anything about Valhalla. Just where is this place? Are there no other humans?"


"Did you not see anyone else that looks like me?"

After thinking for a bit, the moogle swayed his head from left to right.

"I didn't see any here, kupo."

"But," Mog added as if remembering something, "I think I saw someone on my way here, kupo."

"Where!? Where were they!?"

Was it not my home world? Were Moogles known as fictional beings due to the fact that the world which we inhabited was also considered by them to be part of their territory. (?)

"I'm sorry. I don't know, kupo..."

The moogle became dejected. It's pom-pom atop its head and the wings on its back faced downward.
"I don't really remember what happened before I got here, kupo. I was drifting along the Void Beyond for a long time and when I woke up I was here."
"'The Void Beyond?'"
"That's what someone called it, kupo."
Drifting for a long time... That means that this place is exceptionally vast, beyond a doubt. And continuing to drift through the void beyond, he ended up here.
"I think I may have passed by a hu-man back in the Void Beyond, kupo."
"So could that mean the Void Beyond be tied to the place I was?"
That is a possibility. As long as the moogle didn't mistake a human being for something else.
"You didn't duel that person? Isn't the rule of Valhalla to fight? Oh, is the Void Beyond a separate place other than Valhalla?"
"The Void Beyond is a part of Valhalla, kupo. But, it's not a place in which you can fight, kupo. It's a place where you just keep getting swept along, kupo."
A place where you just keep getting swept along... which further increases the possibility that it's a path that ties my original world to here.
"How do you get to the Void Beyond?"
If I can go there, I may be able to find a way back. No, I should be able to.
But the moogle said "It's impossible, kupo."


"It's not just a place you can go to when you want, kupo. The only way to get there is when the goddess opens the gate or you just happen to get there, either one of those, that's it, kupo."
"You don't know!?"
The moogle took an exaggerated step back. It seems that aside from not knowing the rule, not knowing the Goddess is unheard of.
"The one who made the rule... that's the Goddess, huh?"
The moogle nodded with a "Kupo."
"Valhalla is under the dominion of the Goddess Etro."
It was a name I never heard before. This Goddess Etro wasn't even in any of the tales told in all of Cocoon.
"Where is Etro?"
If the Goddess Etro is the only one who can open the gate to the Void Beyond, I'll just have to talk to her directly."
"Where... kupo?"
"Over there," pointed mog with his wand. Even so, the surroundings were covered in fog.
What's more because she had been walking blindly, Lightning lost her sense of direction. She thought that it might have been that structure resembling ruins she had seen from the shore.
"Do you want to see the Goddess, kupo?"
"Yeah. Show me the way."
"But, there are strong ones within the temple, kupo. They're also around the temple, kupo."
Seeing as how it's a temple, it should at least have guardian monsters. Taking that into consideration, how would one go about fighting them? I don't have any L'cie powers so how long could I stand against them?
"Looks like we have to run before we run into them. Even though that's breaking the rules..."
"You don't want to fight, kupo?:
"I would if I could."
"But, it’s too late now, kupo. There's a strong one right there, kupo."
There was something moving where the moogle pointed. It was covered by fog but Lightning understood as well. Anyway it was "right there."
"How about speak up faster next time!"
"I'm sorry, kupo~"

She clutched her weapon. It didn't help that she was still in the equipment she was in when she fought the Fal'cie Orphan. It seemed that the knife she received from Serah had fallen somewhere.

She approached slowly while standing readily. At this range, she most likely had already been noticed by her opponent, so there was no luxury of running. She then thought of immediately closing the distance between her and her opponent after getting a bit closer.


On the other side of the fog, she saw a faint form disappearing and reappearing; just by this she knew what it was. It was the Eidolon that had fought together with her just moments ago. She finally met an opponent she knew


But joy and relief were crushed in an instant. Her silver companion came toward her with brandished sword. She heard a voice: "Fight me."


She knew it was not a voice she heard, for in this place various sensations are disrupted and the sounds one hears become warped; however, she was able to speak fairly easily with the moogle. She soon realized that she had not heard Odin's voice through her sense of hearing, rather, in echoed within her head.

She had not ever heard his voice until this moment. It had only been a short time in which she had Odin as her Eidolon and they had not exchanged words while in the midst of battle. He had acted so precisely to Lightning's will that there was no need to exchange words. She had never even thought that Eidolons were capable of speech.

"No way, does he not know me?"

She had already fought him once and it was a straining battle. Even abiding by the rules of Valhalla, it should be the same Odin that served Lightning. Notwithstanding, Odin showed no semblance of sheathing his blade.

"Guess we have to do this again, given the change of place."

Odin paid no heed to her question. She felt the voice, "Fight me."

"Fine. If that's how it is in Valhalla."

"Get back" Lightning told the moogle curtly as she took her stance. There was no intention of dragging out the battle, for she was not a l'Cie anymore. She needed to win the battle quickly in order to make up for the overwhelming difference in physical strength.

Fortunately, she had fought together with him countless times. She knew his fighting habits and the skills he liked to use.

As if waiting for Lightning to ready her sword, Odin suddenly came at her swinging his great sword downward. Lightning dodged this with relative ease and stepped forward. She was closing the gap.

Then, she noticed that something was off. Swinging downward from that height would certainly produce a fittingly strong attack but would leave him open. Moreover, he would be open when readying his next attack. It was unexpected that Odin would attack in such a manner.

Maybe if they had not seen each other in years, but how could his fighting style change so much in such a short time? Or was it that it only seemed like he favored attacks that sacrificed some attack power for a watertight offensive because Lightning's style had influenced him?

At any rate, this was convenient. She felt she could win like this.

She fell in, getting closer to Odin's chest and then slashed upward. But, Odin's movements were unexpectedly fast and Odin deflected her attack. In that moment, something entered her mind. Something that wasn’t a voice and also differed from a vision.


To put it more distinctly, it was as if the concept itself was being imprinted in her brain without using words.

Thus, she understood abruptly. She realized in an instant: this Odin is not the Odin that she knew.

Then, she heard Odin's "voice" again. Maybe because she used to be a l'Cie, but she was half surprised when it bypassed her sense of hearing and entered directly into her head.

If what lies in front of her is not the Odin that she knows, then it should have no knowledge of her being a l'Cie. In other words, he too understood just as she had, when their blades clashed. It was an impossible phenomenon but considering that it had happened to her and Odin's reaction she had no choice but to interpret it as such.

She had almost lost herself in the confusion but came to her senses when she heard the sound Odin's sword rending the air.

Too late. It was too late to guard or to run. She reflexively cast magic. She had not thought about doing this; it was automatic. It was a sort of habit she picked up during her days of fighting. "How did I...? But, I'm not a l'Cie anymore," Lightning thought as a lightning spell deflected the giant blade.
"What did I just do...!?"
She didn't think that she was still a l'Cie. When she awoke, she had promptly checked the state of her brand. She had not thought of the possibility that she had returned to being a l'Cie. This also was just a habit. She saw that her brand was gone and felt relieved.

She did not have a brand, but she could use magic. Maybe this phenomenon was to be attributed to Valhalla. This was after she had been confronted with a succession of strange happenings. She felt that this was the most valid interpretation.

This was, at the same time, good news. If her l'Cie abilities were still present, she could fight toe-to-toe with an Eidolon. She had a chance.
She cast a lightning spell again and just as vigorously slashed at Odin. Even if his was not the same Odin, she knew its downfalls. This time, she launched a direct attack on his pivotal leg without it being deflected or evaded.

At the same time she thought that it's movements would be halted another something was imprinted into her brain. She opened her eyes without thinking.
"Odin is Valhalla's...!"
This time she understood two things. One, that this Odin, per the Goddess' orders was assigned to a l'Cie. However this l'Cie died valiantly in battle and did not get a chance to employ Odin. She understood: this Odin appeared and came attacking without any objections. He was also faithfully upholding the rules of Valhalla.

The other thing she understood was that when battling in Valhalla there was mutual understanding. The reason she felt like something was being ingrained in her brain when their blades clashed the first time was because of their thoughts were connected. This is how Lightning understood that the Odin that stood before her was not the true Odin while on the other hand, Odin too knew Lightning's identity.


"So we can clearly see what's in the other's head. Not sure if that's beneficial or detrimental."
She narrowly dodged Odin's counterattack by a paper-thin margin and gave a wry smile. She thought that it was good that there were no other people here. She could sort of handle understanding the thoughts of an Eidolon, but she thought that it'd be uncomfortable if she fought another human because they would completely understand each other. She had thought this far, and then suddenly realized:

Was the rule "the weak serve the strong" brought into existence because fighting is the only way to communicate in Valhalla?" To judge who's the strongest, you have to fight as soon as you meet. If you fight, you both can learn many things in an instant. Or, it could be the opposite. The Goddess could have established this rule beforehand and thought that there was no meaning in making them just fight so she made fights in Valhalla tantamount to conversation.

Nothing happened when I met the moogle because a forehead poke isn't really considered much of a fight. Or maybe it's just preferred by those who can communicate with words? No, maybe fighting to communicate is only limited to Odin's species.
Her ever-flowing deluge of thoughts was once again cut short. Odin blocked Lightning's attack with his sword. Maybe it was because it was proportionate to the impact, or just chance, but this time she felt much more information.

She learned that not only Odin existed in Valhalla but Shiva and Hecatoncheir among other Eidolons were here as well. Furthermore, "on the other side" where l'Cie become extremely agitated or despair, their lamentations are sent to the Goddess. The Goddess opens a gate in correspondence to their desires and dispatches an Eidolon. It is never to put a l'Cie out of his/her misery; it was to aid them. In the viewpoint of the Goddess, it was pure good intention and favor.

It would appear the the Goddess Etro did not know that for the l'Cie, bending the Eidolons to their will was no simple task.

Or, maybe she dispatched them knowing this? So as to say, "If you are a l'Cie, overcome this tribulation." The confidence from the fact that she had once controlled Odin was supporting her now. She had won once, so she would not lose this time. Even if, instead of having friends by her side like at that time, she was fighting alone now.

When she came to, the fight was over. The silver knight that lay before her eyes was hanging his head while on bent knee. She gently felt his thought: "I shall comply." She had once again acquired the capability to use Odin.

"I know about Valhalla and Etro. I just want to know how to return home. To the world in which my family and friends are waiting."

Odin nodded showing that he understood already. It was true. Just as Lightning had gained information from Odin, Odin had taken in Lightning's memories and thoughts.

“What should I do? Where should I go?”

Suddenly, Odin's features began to tremble and the silver knight turned into a brilliant white steed and stood beside Lightning.


She jumped onto his back without hesitation. It was as if he said “Let us ride.” Maybe because it was because she had gone done this so many times in battle, but she understood his intention.

As she mounted and turned around, the moogle came from a place not too far and looked up at Lightning with anxiety in his eyes. He had done nothing but devote himself to following Lightning’s order back at the place where she told him to “get back.” The battle was already over long ago, but he thought, so long as she didn’t say he could move, he should not move from that spot.

When Lightning called “Come on” he came flying jubilantly. It appeared his wounds had healed a bit and his useless swaying wings were now beating busily. Miraculously, living creatures other than humans, regardless of their species, healed exceedingly fast.

“Can you keep up?”

“Of course, kupo!”

The fog had cleared suddenly. Although she had thought she was walking earnestly she had not come that far from the shore. It was still very far from the ruins. Odin set his sights on there and dashed in a straight line. It was as Lightning thought: that was the shrine that the Goddess Etro inhabited.

The dashing Odin did not decrease his speed but the moogle kept up. He could fly for an unexpectedly long amount of time. And not only that but it seems like he has the power to sense monsters from far away. He informed her of each one of them while flying next to Odin.

“A strong one just ran away, kupo. A very strong one just stopped to survey the area, kupo. There’s a not so strong one on the right…”

It appears he’s upholding Lightning’s command back when she encountered Odin to “speak up a little faster.” His clumsy integrity was cute and adorable.

“Okay, just tell me when the very strong one comes close. The others don’t matter.”

“Are you going to fight the ones other than the strong one, kupo?”

“That’s the rule here isn’t it? We’ll uphold it as much as we can.”

She learned that she can use magic just like when she was a l’Cie and that fighting in Valhalla also means gaining information. This is what she thought. “That will not be necessary,” replied Odin’s “voice.” “The beings around the shrine are all my subordinates.” It seemed that if they obeyed Odin, they would obey Lightning as well.

“Does that mean that all of the monsters around here are servants of Lightning-sama, kupo?”

“It seems like it.”

“Then this weird presence too it… kupo???”

The moogle looked around as if he were perplexed.

“What’s wrong?”

Lightning also took part in looking around. Then she caught her breath.

Something was coming.


She felt a soundless rumbling. Her field of vision swayed. It was just like sunlight reflecting on a surface of water. undulating unsteadily bit by bit.

There was a presence of something dashing. But it was frustratingly slow. She felt that something was running at full speed but something was interfering. "Then we'll just have to get closer," Lightning ordered as she found herself surprised. Her normal bodily motions like bending her upper body or moving her arms were slow. The atmosphere was like being immersed in goo, like floundering at the bottom of a deep body of water.

A figure appeared in her swaying field of vision. It pierced through the glutinous atmosphere and was running toward her. Lightning spontaneously opened her eyes.


It was Odin. She was not surprised per se. She knew that there were several Odin's in Valhalla. What surprised her was the person riding Odin.

It was the image of a person clad in ancient armor that might have been in a fairy tale picture book brandishing their sword, fighting with something. She couldn’t tell who the person was fighting with. But she knew for sure that there was a target at which those lightning spells were aimed at.

"That's... me!?"

It wasn't that their features were the same. She just felt that way. She somehow knew that it was herself.

"Then that Odin is-!? Is that you?"

So she asked but Odin did not answer. The voice with which she asked too, was utterly different from her voice until just a second ago. Her voice seemed to echo with many layers like she was in a cave.

"Can you hear my voice?"

He replied with a puzzled face that seemed to be saying "What do you mean 'me'?" It seemed that his reply was late because he was trying to decipher her question.

"Could it be that you can’t see them?"

Even in the moment in which she was perplexed the range between her and her other self was slowly being shortened. They were both riding an Odin dashing at full speed. They were both so close that they would have passed each other any second, but everything was painfully slow.

Her gaze collided with her other self's. A light smile spread across the other Lightning's face.

"Go to the Goddesses throne. All of the answers are there."

The other Lightning informed her as she slipped by. Then Lightning remembered. Of course, all of the answers were in the Goddess' throne.

"What did I just-?"

What did I just remember? The Goddess' throne? In the shrine? That's certainly the place I'm headed to now. I haven't even gotten there yet. But, what did I just remember?

"Stop! Odin!"

She looked when she turned around but the Odin that her other self was riding on was already far away. Before long, they faded away as if they continued to pursue something. No matter how much she stared, she could no longer see anything.


Coming to, Lightning noticed that everything returned back to normal. She did not feel a trembling in the world around her and when she lifted up her arm, it moved without the slightest hint of resistance.

"Alright then. Head to the shrine, Odin."

Odin turned toward the shrine and set out into a dash. Just like nothing had ever happened. Maybe that was true from Odin's point of view. He didn't see anything, nor did he feel anything.

"What was that just now?"

She did not guess what would happen from this point on; she remembered it. She could not say that feeling was anything different.

"Memories of the future?"

That explanation seemed fitting. She remembered the events that would happen from this point, the moment she had met her future self. Of course, that was her future self, the self from beyond the current point in which she stood.

But, why did she encounter such a thing? It was not as if it was just her staring, she could see her too. Furthermore, she spoke to her... her future self spoke to her.


Of course, this would be impossible when thinking conventionally. But what if this place was “that kind of place”? What had she experienced after her awakening at the beach? She met a moogle, which had been a fictional creature up until now. She had talked to Odin, who she thought could not speak. It's hard to say that those events were common. Furthermore, she had shared memories and thoughts by fighting. She had experienced many impossibilities.

Maybe this was a place in which impossible things occur all the time. Maybe that was what Valhalla was. "Sounds about right," thought Lightning. However, she was still caught on something. Between the world in which she lived, dubbed the "Other Side" by the Eidolons, and here, Valhalla, what was different?

Looking back on each one of the things that happened, she came up with an common word: Time.

She had walked at the shore without even the slightest hint of fatigue no matter how long she walked. She had also felt a disturbance in her physical perception of time. And, the memories of the future, failure of the general notion of "time" brought all of this into existence.

From where did the moogle say he came to Valhalla? It was the "Void Beyond." Does that mean the place between the realm that possesses a general concept of time, the "Other Side" and the place that lacks a general concept of time, Valhalla?

"Makes sense, I guess."

After she whispered she realized how comical it was. This place goes against all convention, so what would trying to make sense of anything accomplish?

No, she had to do something like this to keep her wits about her and not become afraid. The fact that she had already lost her wits was a much more simpler and explainable interpretation than going on about general notions of time.


It seems like she was making a severe face. The moogle came and peered at her with a worried expression.


"It's nothing. I'm fine."

That's right, the moogle said he felt a “strange presence” when they had met the future Lightning and Odin. Although he could not see them, he sensed them. If so, then that was not an illusion. Then the question still remains: why could Odin not see it? Lightning thought she would not wrack her brain at present.

"That doesn't matter right now. Right now, I have things to do up ahead."

Lightning's approach to the shrine was imminent. The shrine that looked like ruins from far away looked like ruins up close, as one could surmise.

But for some reason, there was a clock tower on the shrine. It was a warped clock tower that appeared as if it would fall any second. Why was such a thing here? There was nothing this ill-matched in this world where there was no general notion of time.

When she stepped into the shrine she felt that the shrine was dense with monsters; however, none came to attack.

"Are all the monsters here your subordinates as well?"

Odin, who had returned to his knight form, slowly shook his head from side to side. It seems like another entity governs these monsters, unlike the monsters outside of the shrine. Odin did not divulge anything else, but Lightning guessed that they were directly under the Goddess' control. At any rate, she would know when she met the Goddess.

She did not have to ask where the throne was, for she already knew. Just like when she had a face-to-face encounter with herself, she remembered where its location as soon as she stepped foot inside of the shrine. She may have to enter this place a number of times in the near future. Her feet moved as if she had walked this path many a time.

Before long, they felt a presence that differed from that of the monsters'. It was the Goddess Etro. It was different from any sensation that she knew. Even though it was called a "god" there was no feeling of intimidation associated with fal’cie or even the sublimity of a god; there was just a feeling that an inhuman entity was smiling. It felt like there was a presence to the smiling.

Lightning confirmed that Etro lay ahead. Odin unexpectedly stopped.

"What's wrong?"

"Even though you are allowed in this place, I am not," Odin replied and subsequently knelt where he stood.

The moogle's behavior indicated that he wished to go with Lightning but he gave up as soon as Odin flashed a glare in his direction. He hung his head to signify that he understood. Doubt flashed through Lightning's mind:

Of course the moogle wouldn't be allowed in but is a person from the "Other Side" allowed to enter a place where even Odin isn't allowed?" She decided to ignore it. She would not stand back even if someone told her to. She only had one option anyway.

All of the answers lie within the throne. "I have to confirm that." They were words spoken by none other than herself. While thinking this, Lightning stepped forward.


Suddenly, her surroundings turned black. She looked over her shoulder, but she could not make out Odin or the moogle's forms. However, there was no trembling. As soon as one realizes that Valhalla is "that kind of place" one stops being surprised at every little thing.

She slowly advanced forward. Before long, she could see a faint light. It was a weak light that seemed as if it was going to disappear any moment. Regardless, she could feel an extravagant power. There was a mighty entity slumbering whose power was incalculable to any human.

"Is this... the Goddess?"

Lightning outstretched her hand to the light. A pure white fissure ran across the darkness. No, it was not a fissure. A gargantuan monster was blocking her path. It was Bahamut. However, this one was different from Fang's in that it was a dazzling white. She could feel that it was hostile.

There was a feeling of intimidation here that was not present even an iota when Lightning could feel Etro's presence.

"Etro's guardian, huh? I just came to meet with the Goddess. I don't intend to do her any harm. Can you let me through there?"

A piercing refusal of "No" came from Bahamut.

"You're telling me to fight?"

A terse "Yes" resounded within her mind.

"Okay. I'll abide by the rules of Valhalla."

Maybe this Bahamut knew all of the answers. One understand his/her opponent when at war. Given that this was an Eidolon that guarded Etro's throne, it must know more than any other monster in Valhalla.

She cut at it with all of her might while conveying the idea "I'm not hostile or murderous."

But, Bahamut evaded her attack with no effort. It was faster than she thought. She hurled magic while attacking, but was unable to catch her opponent.

She remembered at that moment. She remembered herself when confronting the black Bahamut and how close of a match it was. Not Fang's Bahamut. It was a jet-black Bahamut enveloped in an ominous presence. Memories of the future.

She was just fighting Bahamut but there was another opponent she was trying to defeat. She saw herself in frantically trying to defeat "that man." That was as far as the memory went and she could not remember who "that man" was.

As the magic in front of her was rended open, she came back to her senses. She reflexively jumped out of the way, so she did not suffer any damage. She kept telling herself not to think of unnecessary matters. Even though she had no choice because she remembered even when she didn't want to.

She tried cutting at it a second and a third time but her blade missed each time. She felt that she was being rejected. She realized that evasive actions were synonymous with rejection of understanding.

"I see. Guess you can't afford to recklessly leak information when you're the guardian of the throne, huh?

She let out a flurry of lightning attacks. She knew that they would be evaded, but as it continued to evade her she could predict where it would move next or where it would evade. One's habits and weak points are brought to light when doing the same thing in short intervals.



She knew it would not do if she was only one step ahead so she was to steps ahead of Bahamut. It seemed as if Bahamut had been drawn into her blade's tip.

But, there was no reaction. In the instant she thought that she caught Bahamut, it took off into the sky. Lightning dumbfoundedly looked up at the soaring Bahamut. She knew how adept Bahamut was at flying, however she was convinced that they were both inside of the shrine so she determined that it could not evade. She was too hasty.

She should have kept this possibility in mind when the moogle and Odin, both who should have been right behind her, disappeared. They were in the shrine but at the same time not in the shrine.

Bahamut, who had been circling above Lightning as if to ridicule her, made a sudden descent. She would be in danger if she was hit directly by that attack. She knew guarding it would be impossible. She managed to barely evade the attack but she couldn't stop the force and her body rolled clumsily.

Bahamut, who had risen in the air once again, bent its upper body backwards, an omen of a strong magic attack. This was similar to Fang's Bahamut. At that moment she began to cast a defensive spell. She had always left defense and support to Hope so she had not a shred of self-confidence, but it seemed to do the trick.

Intense magic came falling from the sky. To Lightning, who had no wings no matter how much magic she used, this was an overwhelmingly inconvenient state of affairs. It took all she had to run and this was no time for counter attacks. Fainthearted thoughts flitted through her mind, "If only I could just ride Odin. If I at least had a single person to help me at this moment."

As long as Bahamut was in the air, attacking would be difficult. If she would launch a counter attack it would have to be when it rose into the sky again post-descent. It would be for only a second but Bahamut would be open to attack. Lightning awaited her chance to attack while dodging the rain of magic.

As if irritated by the fact that none of its magic was hitting at all, Bahamut head toward Lightning in a straight line.

"That's right. Come."

At the last moment, after feigning to run away, she went in. This time there was a response. At the same time, there was something burning inside her brain. She had defeated the jet-black Bahamut and there was the form of a subdued man.

Were there two Bahamuts that guarded the throne? In the next instant. there was an impact to her right side. Her only weapon had been deflected and slipped into the darkness.


"No way," Lightning thought "I can't lose here. If I do, how would I have been able to tell myself to 'go to the Goddess' throne'? But how will I fight when I have no weapon?" Bahamut was obviously better at magic than she was; in other words, Bahamut was not an opponent that she would be able to defeat by just relying on magic.

At this rate, she was done for. As soon as I run out of energy to run it'll be over." Lightning tried to escape while bearing these despairing thoughts.


A tiny light came flying in.

"Use me, kupo!"

His round, stuffed-animal-like body changed form. It was a bow. Lightning grabbed it without hesitation.


It looked like a sturdy bow, but when held it was as light as the moogle's body. She nocked an arrow, pointed toward the sky and pulled all the way back on the string.

Maybe it was mog's power but it was easy to establish a target. The arrow instantly flew through the air set on its target. Shortly after, the arrow split into numerous arrows and rained onto Bahamut.

Bahamut's form grew ever more white and the light expelled the darkness. Lightning heard an "Okay" resound in her mind. Lightning let out a huge breath. As if waiting for that, the bow that she held returned back to its moogle form.

"Thanks. You saved me."

She smiled and the decoration on the moogle's head shook back and forth.

"My pom-pom told me that you were in trouble, kupo."

The decoration on the moogle's head, or pom-pom, appears to be some sort of antenna. That's right, when he sensed a strong one, the pom-pom was shining, Lightning felt. When he turned into a bow, it was probably the pom-pom's searching ability that was working to make it instantly lock-on to its target.

"Odin made a scary face, but I felt that I just had to go, kupo. I'm fine with breaking the rules for Lightning-san's sake, kupo!"

She felt her mouth soften when she said "I see." She didn't think she'd be saved when in dire straits by a little creature that she just happened to pick up. She thought that this too had been fated for her. It was just like when Hope, who she deemed a hindrance, changed into a reassuring ally.

She looked around her again and the throne lay right in front of her. It was an empty throne with no one sitting in it. Bahamut protected the throne by enveloping it in darkness.

"I'm fine now. Wait here."

She left the moogle where he was and headed toward the empty throne. The Goddess is here, even though she cannot be seen. Just like bugs who hug the ground cannot see humans, the Goddess cannot be seen by feeble humans. Maybe this thing she recognizes as a throne could possess another form. Because, not only one's perception of time but his/her five senses are inaccurate and unreliable.

"Even so. the Goddess is here..."

She felt that she was being beckoned. She felt that Etro was not rejecting her. She had many doubts about whether she could manage to converse with a god but she stepped forward anyway.

She outstretched her hand without noticing it. She wanted to touch her hand. She wanted to touch that warm and gentle hand.

Her fingertips reached. She felt as if she was getting pulled in. She spontaneously opened her eyes. However, what lay in front of her eyes was no longer the world she had been seeing.

These are the Goddess' Eyes. "I'm seeing what the Goddess is seeing..."

In that instant she understood why time was broken in Valhalla and why her five senses were so vague: it was because the Goddess had no use for time or senses. Because she was a human, Lightning could just barely distinguish whether that was the future or the past, but the Goddess probably didn’t make such distinctions. She was seeing and hearing everything at the same time. Conversely, the Goddess was just seeing as if it was an accepted routine and felt that there were things that she would never comprehend.


For example. Was that the beginning? She could certainly see it, but it was something she couldn’t quite grasp. She knew of its existence. However, it wasn’t tied to reality. That’s right, it was the form of the ancient god who had created fal’Cie Etro.

Possibly because of her memories conforming with those of Etro's, a name she did not know popped into Lightning's mind. The Paternal God, Bhunivelze. The one sole name that Etro had called.

Bhunivelze divided his power and created the Fal'Cie Lindzei and Fal'Cie Pulse. Etro just looked on as power, which she didn't not have, was given to Lindzei and Pulse and she saw them, in the same manner as the Paternal God, divide their power and give life to many Fal'Cie.

Etro did not know why she had been shunned by Bhunivelze. Why weren't the things given to Pulse and Lindzei given to her as well? She just looked on without cursing them or envying them.

Of course... Fal'Cie are different than humans; Fal'Cie do not have emotions. Etro did not understand: Why did humans naturally feel indignation or suffered feelings like alienation or isolation.

Etro, who did nothing but serve as a spectator, tried to imitate their birthing of Fal'Cie by harming her own body. She thought, just as their power took on another form and became a new l'Cie, her blood would possibly give birth to something. She felt that maybe if she could bring life to something she could catch Bhunivelze's attention. Maybe if she could do the same thing as them, things would change.

Even when Bhunivelze went to sleep and made his form unseen, Etro did not stop harming herself.

If Etro was human, she would have emotions, and would be able to attribute names to them thus comprehend what she was doing. Alas, she did not comprehend what she was doing or what she wanted to do.

"I see. That was it, huh? You were just lonely... You wanted him to look at you, just like he paid attention to Pusle and Lindzei. I, seeing the same things as you, am sad to the point where it feels like its cutting my body. My chest aches like it's being torn to shreds. You, an entity higher than humans, did not understand that. If you were a human it'd be so easy to understand.

Etro, what you wanted to shed was not blood, but tears. What you should have done was not harm yourself but pursue the Paternal God/Creator and cry like a child..."

Etro, bleeding out, died without knowing this. Leaving only her blood, Etro arrived at Valhalla, a place that she could never have seen from the place in which she was.

At Valhalla Etro met the Goddess Mwynn. The Goddess Mwynn who was Bhunivelze's mother was on the verge of disappearing by being consumed into chaos. Before Etro could comprehend the meaning of this chance meeting, Mwynn was annihilated.

But Lightning understood then, why Bhunivelze had neglected Etro.


Etro was the spitting image of Mwynn. She could not see the Goddess' face; however, she understood: Bhunivelze hated Etro, who had the same form as his mother.

Abandoned by Mwynn, Etro was alone in Valhalla as well. She could not comprehend that she was alone. No one was there to think of her or talk to her.

Once, a ‘little thing’ came to Valhalla; an unknown thing from the world where Etro had lived previously.

It was the first human, whom Lindzei made from the blood that Etro left behind: a petite girl of silver hair and purple eyes. Just as Bhunivelze had unconsciously created a Fal'Cie who resembled his mother, Lindzei too created the first human who was akin to a goddess (the goddess?). She had soon after died and her body rotted; only her soul and spirit (spirit meaning things like emotions, intellect, will etc) had reached Valhalla.

Her spirit had fallen, becoming unstuck from her soul and scattered, leaving only her soul. Etro loved that little soul. This soul was the first entity in Valhalla that drove away her feeling of loneliness.

Before long, more and more ‘little things’ came. These were the humans that Lindzei was creating. But, they were engulfed by Valhalla's chaos and disappeared, leaving no soul or spirit. Only the first girl's soul continued to wander throughout Valhalla without ever disappearing.

The only soul that differed from the others. An entity that could do naught but wander around Valhalla. As if seeing herself in this soul, Etro pitied the girl's soul and returned her to the world from whence she came saying "return to the others."

Etro felt deep affection for the ‘little things’ that that came and went. Just as humans admire flowers, and just as they enjoy gazing at butterflies fluttering between flowers while listening to the songs of little birds, Etro cherished these ‘little things’.

She blessed the first ‘little thing’, the girl, freely. Her soul was born again, inhabiting a new body with a new spirit. And like other humans she would return to Valhalla upon the end of her short life. But she, who was the first human, was incomplete, as one would expect, and her soul was left behind in Valhalla. Etro returned her to the world in which she previously lived and she began her third life.

As if she was not compatible with the chaos of Valhalla, no matter how many times she was born again, no matter how many times she died, she would not dissolve into Chaos, being left behind. Etro tried a great many times to return the girl to the others. She believed without a doubt that living among her friends/comrades would be something joyous for that soul.

Etro would not suspect that there would be someone who would loathe this endless rebirth. She also did not expect that this girl she had favored would be the spark for war among humans.

This girl who had unknowingly received a vantage point that exceeded time, akin to Etro’s, and came to be known as the ‘seeress’ was always at the center of war. No matter how many times she was reborn, people would always be at war around her and she would always encounter hatred. Her words spurred them onward. There were always people who used her even though they did not necessarily hate her. People killed each other and much blood flowed.

She lamented this and lived her life away from the public. The good will that Etro, who did not understand sadness or loneliness, showed her compelled her to grieve and isolate herself. Etro did not understand this. She could not understand this.


For she was not human; that was the sole reason.

The girl lived in the midst of sadness and isolation, and died. For she was human; that was the sole reason.

Before long, time passed in the world of humans. There was a person that protected her in exchange for his life. The Goddess Etro gave him her heart, so that he may live with her forever. His name was...

"That guy! I remember. The guy with the Bahamut other than the one that guards the throne, the black Bahamut. Caius Ballad."

"Was that the guy I was fighting with? The person that I was fighting a bitter battle with. The person I was trying ever so desperately to defeat."

After Caius received Etro's heart, many moons had passed. He had waited upon many Yeuls while they were on their deathbed. So many people died, so many that he could not count. Countless souls went on their way to Etro and disappeared. Many lives were lost in the war dubbed the "War of Transgression." Many lives were on the verge of death by the hand of the Fal'Cie Barthandelus.

That's... all me. My sin.

At the Hanging Edge, and the Pulsian ruins, I killed PSICOM soldiers. It was easy to say that it was all to protect myself. As a matter of fact, I was desperate. They were ready and willing, pointing their guns at us. We had no choice but to counter attack in earnest as well.

However, when looking at this from the viewpoint of the Goddess, this matter seemed nothing but trivial. Etro could not distinguish between individuals. They were all the same ‘little things’ and souls that held the same value. Each was a life that had the right to live on the "Other Side" with its comrades for as long as it possibly could.

Regardless of the reason, a sin is a sin. One person killing another. It was a sin that one should never commit.

She heard the voices of those on the verge of death. The voices that Etro was probably hearing. The screams saying such things as "I don't want to die" and "I'm scared." On the other hand, there many in the ranks of the PSICOM soldiers who accepted death passively. They had gone to their death, resigned to the fact that they had to protect Cocoon. Those voices were very quiet.

I took their lives.

From the Goddess viewpoint, where one can see all things in the sweep of an eye, it seemed that their lives were tangible. There were those that had a blessed life, and those that led a life that would be hard to call a happy existence. Although their pasts were different, each life held the same value. It felt as if one cast off the eyes of a lowly human and was gazing at a countless number of lives.

I took their lives just because I didn't want to die. I felt that it was a sin, but I deluded myself, saying I had no choice. I had selfishly decided the weight of life and selfishly convinced myself of it. I didn't even stop to think that their lives were sacrificed for mine.

It was all me... so sinful and arrogant.

Regardless, Etro granted Lightning's wish. To aid Vanille and Fang, and make Lightning and the others' brands disappear. Granting salvation to the l'Cie who bore much sin.*


Etro... she just held humans dear to that extent. She couldn't ignore the voices pleading that they did not want to die, regardless of sin.

There were those that called Etro a fool for being so loving. Maybe Etro was a fool for continuing to bestow blessings, acting just on sympathy and out of courtesy. All the while, not thinking at all that her bestowments could sometimes be disastrous or be a torture more cruel than death.

As a matter of fact, the Eidolons that she dispatched to be blessings killed many people. The first soul that she sent back to the Visible World was bound by the shackles of her endless rebirth. The guardian to whom Etro gave her heart loathed this eternity and brought destruction upon the world. All of this was a tragedy due to a foolish goddess' thoughtless affection.

Whether aware or unaware of the things she caused, she continued to bestow blessings in spite of herself. Even in the time when that might Chaos began to flow into the world through a gate she stopped it with all her power. If that Chaos encroached into the Visible world, every human, nay, every living thing and phenomena would be destroyed. Etro forcibly drew it back and tried to sweep it under the rug. Although this caused many tears in the time between the Visible World and the world where she was, she managed to barely protect humanity.

So Etro expended all of her power doing that and now she's slumbering? She knew that it would probably end up like this but she didn't stop giving?

Now Etro cannot bestow anything to humanity. Much like before the humans were made, she has returned to being just a spectator. No, in the last moment, the Goddess granted just one more wish. The last surviving human's wish, such would be the last wish Etro would grant...

I saw a thriving future. I saw destruction. I saw an era facing destruction. I saw the final moments of the first girl. I saw the man who would destroy the world. I saw myself, defeated after having challenged him. I saw my sister, who I love so dear, trapped in a dream that she would not wake from.

Even so...

Sleep in peace divine Etro. I will stand guard over your legacy

There was much light. She slowly returned to her senses. Just now, what she had overlooked from the eyes of Etro, that long time from the genesis of the Goddess to the end of the world, was just a second.

When she stood, her silver armor made a solemn sound. She realized that as the protector of the Goddess, she had received new power.

"Can I not return home?"

Before she knew it, there was a man standing behind her.

"Now that you have gained a new power, it would not be difficult. Go back to where your family awaits you and live your life. The world's destruction lies hundreds of years after that."

This man who dictated so brazenly was the perpetrator that would lead the world to destruction.

"My answer does not change."

She knew already: things that what she could not know as a human. She had learned all of history in the brevity of a blink of an eye and how it looked when countless souls are born and how it looked when they disappear.


There was a meaning to all of them and they all had aspirations. Etro loved all of them equally. Even if she had returned she would not be happy, now that she had seen herself so selfishly take those lives that were to be treated with importance. No doubt she would not enjoy anything, no matter what she did or saw, all the while tormented until the day she died by the feeling of powerlessness and her sins.

"I'm staying here. I will stay here and fight."

"Do what you wish," a voice said wrought with laughter, however she did not see the man anymore. Was it a vision that Caius, who had been given a mighty power, had shown her or was this the man who she was to meet?


Since then, she had fought many times. In Valhalla, it was forever while at the same time just a moment. She no longer knew where it had started or where it would end, upon this battlefield bankrupt of time in which the future and past mixed.

However, in the midst of the fight Lightning would reunite with Serah. That was something that she did not see in the time from the Goddess' throne. There Serah was trapped in a prison called Empty Solitude and she never returned.

But she believed, she believed that Serah would definitely escape from the world of that unending dream. That's why she called Serah, that's why she sought help from her.

When they were children, Lightning was the one who chased off the bully who made Serah cry, but after that, Serah reconciled in her own way with the boy and placated him. Lightning could not forget when she saw that bully in Serah's group of friends.

It was always like that. Unlike Lightning who tried to take shortcuts and utilize brute force, Serah took time taking the long way around. And before you knew it, everyone favored her and there were many that would amass to help her.

Serah would surely overcome this trial as well. The long, long journey would toughen up Serah. She would also meet people who would be of aid to her. There was Noel, who had wished to change the future and the moogle, dubbed the weakest of Valhalla, who had become a weapon to defeat Bahamut, the strongest of Valhalla.

"It will be fine, we'll see each other again."

And her hopes did not betray her...

"How naive. That is much too optimistic and egotistical even for the wish of someone who's going to die."

The sound of a blade returned her to her senses. No matter how many times she crossed swords with Caius Ballad, she could not understand him. Only her memories and thoughts were being read while Caius gave a cold laugh.

His heart was enveloped in something akin to a tough husk that was stained pitch-black. Maybe he, whom had been given an undying body by the Goddess and who had lived through many moons, had no other way to protect his heart besides this way. Sometimes only a hate and rage much like a world-ending conflagration would spill forth from a slight tear, along with a freezing sadness.

"Or quite possibly, could the guardian of a foolish goddess also be a fool herself?"


"Shut up!"

"She did well... I'll give her that. But her journey did not end there, so she must furthermore walk along a path of hardship. However, what awaits her at the end of her journey is only despair, for her dream of living with her beloved sister again, will never be realized."

Lightning had decided to stay, so she already knew this. Those who protect the shrine cannot leave Valhalla. She crossed over to the "Other Side" to reunite with Serah, but this was only for a moment. That was all she could muster.

"Her journey was made longer only to make her sad, only to make her bear witness to the end of the world. Such poor treatment of one's sister."

"I told you to shut up!"

With all her strength, Lightning flung her sword downward, but Caius' body was no longer there.

"How will you answer to her lamentations? How will you atone?"

Lightning heard a voice rife with ridicule at her back.

"The world will not end. I won't let it!"

She did not see everything from the Goddess' throne. In the things she had not seen from the throne at that time, there lies hope. She did not see hope at that time. This is why she believed.

"The future will change. I'll see to it that it does. That'll be my atonement!"

For those that died by her hand and for Serah, to whom she could not keep her promise. This is why she had to stop this man. Even if it was in exchange for her life. Placing her prayers and wishes into her blade, Lightning slashed at Cauis Ballad.

"Serah... Can I ever make things right?"

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