When he came to his senses, he was back to where he had been before. At Old Bodhum, right before the Ark which protruded from the dimensional rift.
“Huh? I don’t think… I was dreaming.”
There was a mark of the l’Cie on his arm. Was becoming a l’Cie the condition for getting back there? Or, was it simply a matter of completing the cycle after being sent here and there, and then returning?
He tried taking one step, and then another step. He didn’t feel any sinking beneath his feet. He took another step. It was fine. It seemed that this time he had come back.
Perhaps time had passed on its own accord, for the fog had cleared up. The large horde of monsters too, were gone. Had he returned to the inside of the Ark? No, if some time had passed, then the military might have exterminated them.
“Hey, wait! Cactuar! Isn’t this what was in your vision?”
Before his eyes was the “gate-like” object that was in the vision. It was a gigantic sphere surrounded by haze.
“Your Focus was to fight the thing inside there or something, wasn’t it?”
It was as he approached the shimmering object, saying this. A howl reverberated in the space around them. A gigantic creature had appeared. It was a humanoid, so perhaps it could have been called a giant. Except, whilst being a giant, it was clearly different from the “Arbiter of Time.” It’s blazing eyes were a red reminiscent of red-hot lava.
“Heeey. We mean no harm. Why don’t we avoid this needless fight?”
A gigantic arm came swinging down at them at the same time as he said this. Perhaps what exterminated that horde of monsters was not the military, but this giant, he thought.
“End of discussion, huh?”
Running away or waiting things out, these were no longer options for Snow. From then on, Snow had every intention to face all who opposed head on.
The Cactuar who was bound by the Focus of defeating the enemy within this “gate” had given Snow a Focus differing from his own. A Focus that would have him defeat the jet-black Bahamut alongside Serah.
As a response to that gesture, he decided he would defeat whatever enemy stood in their way, whether or not it had anything to do with his Focus. This included the monster behind the “gate”, of course.
Then, the Cactuar showed him a vision that lasted for just an instant. It showed that Snow and the Cactuar defeating the giant and entering the “gate”. This meant the giant was the gatekeeper of that “gate”. It seemed that the Cactuar knew this.
“So, that’s our first hurdle, huh? Then we’ve gotta kill it no matter what.”
After, saying a quick ‘let’s go’ to the Cactuar, Snow began to approach the giant.
Just as he had expected, the l’Cie powers were on a whole other level. Even an enemy that would have been a struggle for a normal person, could now be crushed with ease, as a l’Cie.
“So, how do we get in there?”
According to what was in the vision, they would be sucked into the “gate” simply by approaching it. Although they had already gotten quite close to the “gate”, it gave no reaction whatsoever.
“Don’t tell me it’s a fake or something. This here is the real thing, right?”
Slipping away from beside a puzzled Snow, the Cactuar approached the “gate”. By the time he had remembered that it had been glowing like this in the vision, his feet had already left the ground.
He knew this feeling. Right after he was sent flying by a monster while trying to escape the dimensional rift, his body floated as if something like an anti-gravitational device had been activated. He seemed to recall that it happened around here, last time. Perhaps they had been sucked into the “gate”, and just hadn’t seen it because they were shrouded in fog.
Then, as predicted, they had ended up in that strange space. As well, when he drifted onwards to the “end” of the mechanical parts, which extended into a spiral, his vision turned white. How gravity returned abruptly, too was the same.
“Here again, huh?”
It was a Sunleth Waterscape in the early evening. Differing from before, perhaps due to the time, there was no sign of the little miniflans.
“So, I’m not going to sink again if I start walking, right?”
He tentatively stuck out his foot and tested the ground’s surface with his toes. It felt like normal grass and dirt. He took a step, and then another step. Nothing happened. He stomped the ground with his feet. It was fine. Snow breathed out a large sigh of relief.
“But, what am I supposed to do here? Have any ideas?”
But, the Cactuar showed him no vision whatsoever. He had thought he was sent to Sunleth Waterscape with a certain objective, but at any rate, it didn’t appear to involve the Cactuar.
“Well, if we’re going to do anything, it’ll be tomorrow. We have to find a place to sleep, today.”
The sun had already set. It didn’t get dark in Cocoon as fast as it did on Gran Pulse, but even so, they would likely be shrouded in darkness within the hour. Fortunately, unlike around the Archylte Steppes, there were any number of places in Sunleth Waterscape where one could set up camp.
After setting a simple trap to dissuade monsters, he felt exhausted. Thinking back, he had been continuously sent here and there with no time for rest. He had fought some powerful foes, too. No wonder he was tired.
He lost consciousness as soon as he laid himself down. It was as if Snow was already half passed out when he drifted to sleep.
He heard a familiar voice. A voice he had continued searching for.
“So you can finally hear my “voice”, huh? I was going to stop you from becoming a l’Cie.”
I was too late, he heard the voice say in dismay, and then he sprang to his feet.
She was there before him, it was Lightning. Only, she was clad in an impressive set of armor, reminiscent of that of a knight or a battle maiden from some fairy tale. Perhaps that was why he immediately realized this wasn’t real.
“Sis, this is a dream, right?”
“Yeah. It’s a dream. I tried calling out to you again and again, but since you never realized, I forced my way in. We’re still ignorant of what others say as usual, I see.”
She sounded slightly annoyed.
“Don’t tell me… you’re mad, aren’t you.”
“Of course I am.”
He had promised he would make Serah happy, but he went and became a l’Cie, anyway. Lightning had good reason to be angry.
“But, I know how you feel.”
With those words, Snow realized that Lightning was angry not with him, but with herself for not being able to stop him.
“Since you did end up seeing that.”
Cocoon falling and Serah dying. Had Lightning seen those things, too?
“You can see everything from Valhalla.”
“The thing you walked into in Old Bodhum was a gate. Gates are created as a result of temporal rifts. If you enter a gate and pass through the Historia Crux, you can go to other periods in time.”
“Historia…? You mean those strange places? The ones that look like mechanical tunnels?”
Yeah, said Lightning with a nod.
“Only those who have been granted passage may enter the gates. It was just a coincidence that you were thrown into one by a monster, the first time. At that point, the temporal rift hadn’t finished turning into a gate yet. Since the dimensional distortion housing the Ark happened to be nearby, the two reacted and the incomplete gate ended up being activated.
“So that’s what happened. I thought they were similar in principle.”
“Only, that was something of an accident. That’s why you couldn’t stay in the places you were sent off to.”
It seemed that being forced somewhere else if he had so much as moved a step was due to him entering an incomplete gate. That short, yet long journey. If he hadn’t gone through it, then there was no way he would have become a l’Cie.
Continuing to live in ignorance as a human, or becoming a l’Cie to change the grim future. He wasn’t sure which he would have been happier with. But, being transported to different ages had allowed him to choose. It was decided not from getting caught up in it, or from drifting there, but by his own will. That’s why he believed it was by no means a waste.
“It may have been an accident, but it wasn’t a pointless detour.”
As if reading Snow’s mind, Lightning continued.
“Having been influenced by the dimensional distortion, as you passed through the temporal rifts, your “footprints” were left at your destinations. In time, those would crystallize, and turn into a particular substance. That substance would be be picked up by Serah, who is travelling the ages, and give hope to the people of the future.”
He was taken aback upon hearing that Serah was travelling through time. He had seen Serah at the places he travelled to. He had also heard that Serah had “defeated the monsters.” So, that’s what was going on, was it?
Snow, called Lightning, quietly.
“I want you to protect the crystal pillar. That’s why I called you here, to the Sunleth Waterscape of 300 AF.
In Sunleth Waterscape, there were places where the crystal pillar was exposed. According to Lightning, the origin the pillar’s collapse could be traced to there. A flan that had grown to enormous proportions for some reason or another, had been gradually dissolving the the pillar, she said.
“So, this means what I saw was real, huh?”
The image of a fissure running down the support pillar and then shattering before his eyes. He had realized that it was real, but now that he was made fully aware of the fact, the reality of it weighed down on him even more.
“I see. But,”
He thought he saw a powerful glow in Lightning’s eyes.
“If you can protect it, then that will no longer be a reality. Please, protect the crystal pillar so that future does not come to pass, as well.”
The dream ended with the words, for Vanille and Fang who are sleeping within…
He awoke to the sound of his own yelling voice. It was morning. Snow gave a large stretch and sat up.
“It was a dream, but I really met her didn’t I.”
If he could, he would have wanted to go back to New Bodhum and tell Serah, right then and there. Sis is a live; I met her, he would say.
“But, I’m sorry. Please just wait a little longer.”
He couldn’t see since it was dark yesterday, but beyond the overgrown trees, he could see a gigantic flan. It was the culprit behind the dissolving of the crystal pillar.
“If I beat that thing, the pillar will be safe and Cocoon won’t end up falling. If Cocoon doesn’t fall, then I bet Serah won’t die either.”
So that future does not come to pass, reverberated Lightning’s voice in his ears.
“I know. Sis, I swear I’ll protect Serah. I’ll protect Cocoon, Pulse and everyone else, too.”
The hero is back in the house. Nodding at the Cactuar beside him, Snow bolted towards the gigantic flan.