Veni Vidi Vici

BY : Saber007
Category: Final Fantasy Games > Final Fantasy XV
Dragon prints: 227
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XV, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

"Ah, Princess Imperatrix…you're looking rather irate. Care to unveil your burdens?" The chancellor drawled, leaning over her shoulder to peer out the window of the dreadnaught.

Imperatrix tilted her head, mildly frowning at Ardyn's proximity.

For the life of her, she couldn't fathom why the chancellor enjoyed invading her personal space and constantly bothering her with inane issues. Were he anyone else and not held in high regard by her father, the princess would put a stop to his antics.

"How should I feel when we are venturing into enemy territory?" Imperatrix crossed her arms and put some distance between them.

"You should feel triumphant. The emperor has finally brought the Lucians to their knees." Ardyn's smile was acidic.

"Hail to his glory." She dutifully echoed.

Their victory was a farce in her opinion.

All their fighting, all their struggles reduced to an anticlimactic peace treaty that made no tactical sense.

Why did her father suddenly sue for peace when the Lucians were backed into a corner?

He'd even went so far as to involve daemons on the battlefront. The Lucians stood no chance against the combined forces of magitek soldiers, daemons, and an aerial fleet.

The only thing that remained as an obstacle to victory was the wall powered by King Regis of Insomnia, but the king was getting older and weaker by the day. One final, overwhelming, attack on the wall would bring it down.

Yet, this was not the course they were taking.

Emperor Iedolas had ulterior motives, motives that his daughter was not privy to.

"This will be your first time in Insomnia, will it not?" Ardyn whirled in front of Imperatrix, lips widening into a wicked grin. She nodded wearily. "Then you must allow me to be your escort. I'll carve the city into your memories."

"As flattered as I am, I will have to decline. My father deserves your utmost focus during this excursion."

"Oh, he can spare me for an hour or two."

Her veneer of polite civility melted. "My answer remains unchanged, Chancellor Izunia."

Ardyn covered his chest, feigning injury. "Why so cold, my dear? You needn't be ashamed to indulge in frivolity once or twice."

"We are not at peace, frivolity has no place here." Imperatrix removed herself from the conversation.

The vast command center felt small with so many politicians crowding near her father. Escaping Ardyn would only be a temporary reprieve.

Most the advisors were busy discussing the arrangements for their arrival in Insomnia. Usually, such matters wouldn't interest the princess, but she would prefer to discuss what path they would take upon arrival than play word games with the chancellor. Most, if not all his words always seemed to carry double meanings that she wouldn't understand until later when trouble hit.

Ardyn liked playing imp far too much for her taste.

Verstael Besithia, the chief of research was another that Imperatrix didn't feel inclined to speak with. He'd been hounding her about replacing her retainers with magitek soldiers as her father had done.

The princess staunchly refused to permit a replacement. She'd already been gifted with two irreplaceable attendants by the mad genius, attendants that were human and the most loyal companions she could ask for.

Imperatrix halted her appraisal of the soldiers on deck to answer the beckoning of the emperor. She lowered herself to the ground in a formal kneel, awaiting her father to bid her stand.

Emperor Iedolas dragged his eyes from the horizon to his heir.

As of late he felt a flare of intense vexation when looking upon his daughter. A son would have been a triumph and quieted the hushed jeers of the courtiers.

While possessing feminine beauty, under the emperor's orders, the princess kept her snow-white hair short, just shy of her shoulders, and adhered to a more masculine military uniform. Apart from sapphire-blue eyes and tawny-brown skin inherited from her mother, his daughter was his image reflected.

None could dismiss their likeness.

"Rise, Imperatrix."

She stood at the command and boldly met his gaze. His lips tugged upward.

Despite her gender, his daughter stood taller and prouder than any other subject of his. In twenty-eight years she'd distinguished herself as a formidable warrior on the battlefield and astute in the council room.

Iedolas could almost forget his heir was a woman in the wake of her triumphs.

"Do you remember the mission I gave you?"

"Yes, Your Radiance. I am to stay with Lady Lunafreya, ensuring no harm comes to her." Imperatrix felt it was unnecessary for her to play bodyguard to a de-throned princess when any of their soldiers or even the girl's brother could protect the oracle.

Her place was at the emperor's side as the right-hand, but she wouldn't disobey her sovereign.

"We do not want anything happening to our olive branch. Regis and his runt would never forgive us." Something in her father's tone of voice alerted Imperatrix to danger. Was he anticipating an attack on the girl? "I am trusting you with a most important mission. Do not disappoint me, child."

"On my honor, I will not fail, Father."

Iedolas nodded, reclining in his throne and gazing back at the horizon.

Imperatrix claimed the seat next to her father's and checked the console in front of them. Insomnia was hours away, a distraction was necessary to pass the time. She withdrew her phone.

The princess took a deep breath, turning around and chucking her phone at the chancellor would be the height of childishness and her father would scold her for it.

The damned man had sent multiple texts with dozens of emojis. Ardyn winked as he caught her chilly glare.

Would his games ever end?

She ignored the foolish messages and scrolled through the other missives from the council. All was well in the homeland. Even her sisters had texted her. They sent varying messages, somehow all sharing the singular request for souvenirs.

"What are you smiling about?"

Imperatrix wiped the ridiculous grin off her face before responding to the emperor. "My sisters show their age in their messages."

"What do those silly girls want?" An unconcealed amount of tenderness colored his tone.

"Gifts from Insomnia."

"How spoiled they have become. They ask for gifts every time we set out." Iedolas chuckled. "Not to worry, we will bring them the greatest gift of all."

"I believe they would prefer something material." Imperatrix jested, allowing formality to slip in light of her father's good mood. "Peace is an acceptable gift for adults, less so for children."

"Children? You speak as if you are old."

"I am an adult, of twenty-eight seasons."

"You are green, girl!" Iedolas snorted, smiling as if she'd said something idiotic. "You are still the girl drowning in robes she had stolen from her father's closet, tripping over the hem while pretending to be emperor. Or the girl unable to tie her shoes without assistance. Or the girl afraid of arachnids. Or-"

"I understand the metaphor, Father!" Imperatrix interrupted.

As touched as she was that he remembered all those things, she did not appreciate the other occupants eagerly listening to mortifying tales of her childhood.

"Good." Iedolas disregarded how his daughter cut him off.

Her reddened cheeks was punishment enough.

Another message popped on Imperatrix's phone. Again, the princess resisted the urge to chuck the phone at Ardyn's face for offering to take her shopping for the other princesses. The message was punctuated with winks, smiley-faces, rainbows, and hearts.

Eavesdropping scum!

"Stop grinding your teeth, it is unbecoming of a princess!" Her father reprimanded with an exasperated sneer.

Imperatrix straightened in her seat, a hasty apology given for her horrible habbit.

The soldiers looked up from their controls to mutter about the opulent display of magic originating from The Wall of Insomnia.

The emperor's sneer merged into an sly grin, excitement bubbling under his skin. Breathless was the princess at the shimmering barrier; she'd only heard stories of its grandeur. The chancellor was the only one among the ship not impressed with the view, disdainful and bored with the destination.

The Niflheim delegation had arrived at the heart of Lucis.

The wheels of destiny would now turn and their country would be on top of the wheel.


XV


"What a wonderful welcoming!" Iedolas leisurely led Imperatrix forward into the madness of the city.

News reporters yelled question after question and cameras flashed instantaneously as the royal family and their subjects entered Insomnia. The emperor stood taller under all the attention, jovially waving at onlookers. The princess was more subdued in her waving and smiling.

Not all the citizens were receptive to their arrival, blankly observing them like strange creatures.

Cars were waiting for them at the end of the street.

The emperor and the chancellor took the first car, leaving Imperatrix to take the next with the Fleuret siblings.

Lunafreya and Ravus sat on opposite sides of the limo, tension thick between them.

The princess wasn't keen on shadowing the younger sibling, not when the girl persisted in being aloof.

Lunafreya could never be described as cruel, but that didn't stop her from expressing disdain for anyone hailing from the empire. Interactions with her typically were short and curt, and that was if one wasn't exposed to her cutting comments.

Originally, both Fleuret siblings had been welcomed at court, but while Ravus chose to follow, Lunafreya chose to rebel. Her insolence eventually struck a nerve with the emperor and the oracle was all but banished to Tenebrae, with no likelihood of ever stepping foot out of the country.

Even the great oracle wasn't above ugly tendencies. She could despise and hate like any other mortal.

"Has Furia exasperated you with talk of souvenirs? I swear, women and their trifles!" Ravus broke the tension with a snip at Imperatrix's sister, scowling at the window in place of his sister.

The elder did not detest her as the sister did, in fact, Imperatrix considered herself a friend of the man.

"It is all she and the others can talk about in their messages." The princess huffed as she realized Furia's ploy. "That greedy, little trickster!"

The girl tried to obtain twice the gifts by asking both sister and husband.

"It's baffling where it comes from." Ravus remarked dryly.

She didn't miss the unsubtle dig, mock outrage slipped into her voice. "Are you insinuating that I corrupted her?!"

"Not insinuating, flat-out accusing. It is the elder sibling's responsibility to root out childish behavior of the younger ones." He eyed her with condescension.

"To think, I was almost married to you. I pity my dear sister."

"That pity is uncalled for. Any man married to you will be no more than a glorified trophy, and eventually, a dim one from your shadow."

Imperatrix chuckled lightly at their bantering. So few people were willing to throw barbs at the imperial princess. "Do you not mean 'men'? It is likely that as empress I will be required to take multiple spouses."

The subject of polygamy drew Lunafreya out of her self-imposed silence and she at last spoke.

"You would follow in your father's footsteps, practicing bigamy, instead of monogamy, as the rest of the land does?"

"It is a sign of power to have multiple spouses and it provides the empire with bountiful alliances. It has been a tradition in the Aldercapt family for centuries." Imperatrix recited patiently, used to the culture shock of others. "I will be no different from my predecessors."

The oracle wasn't quite sure how to feel about the future empress.

Imperatrix was not heartless or arrogant like most nobles from Niflheim were, but she shared their abundant patriotism, wholly believing in her country and father. Such loyalty and love would deserve the highest praise, had the empire not gone astray from the virtue of light.

Imperials were lost in the darkness of human fallacy.

"Marriage to one man you love does not interest you?" Lunafreya posed.

Her impending marriage was political, but it had been selected due to an already present friendship. Noctis held a special place in her heart. She could not imagine having to split that place for another.

A tinge of pity crossed the oracle's face. "Instead, you allow yourself to be sold to the highest bidders..."

Did Imperatrix even consider love to be a priority for marriage? Her explanation was so cold and logical.

Even her grim-faced brother had found a form of happiness in his marriage. Furia and Ravus argued constantly, but love was present in their fleeting glances and occasionally affectionate actions.

"Not all of us can be so fortunate. Choice is a privilege rarely afforded to royalty." The insult uselessly battered at Imperatrix's shell.

The princess had long ago given up on the fantasy between lovers in a marriage.

So much time spent on battlefields and in council rooms had jaded her. Love for one's country and people appeared to be the only path open to the princess.

If her marriage could benefit Niflheim then she would walk down the aisle with her head held high, minimal expectations for her future husband to love a woman such as her.

Too rough and bloody were her hands, she could not provide the gentility of a quintessential princess.

"May your marriage to Prince Noctis be a happy and fruitful one, Lady Lunafreya." Imperatrix imparted with sincerity for the girl given the rare gift of a good match in marriage.

The oracle blinked, taken back by the lack of retaliation.

Most likely, she had wanted a verbal spat. The princess was not Ravus, she would not rise to the girl's taunts.

The elder Fleuret scoffed venomously. "My sister deserves far better than that treacherous boy."

"Do not speak of Noctis so poorly, Brother." Lunafreya hadn't raised her voice, but she might as well with how chilly her demeanor became.

"I will speak of him however I please!" He roared. "Your continued affection for him disgusts me. Given the chance, I would cut him and his father down for the destruction they wrought on our home!"

"We have had this argument far too many times, and yet, you refuse to see the truth. You are drowning in misplaced hate!"

Ravus looked close to reaching over and striking his sister. Thankfully, the driver announced that they'd arrived at the hotel, preventing that actuality. He stormed out the vehicle, nearly knocking over the valet in his rush. Lunafreya's exit was more composed and she thanked the scared man for his assistance.

Once inside, the girls were given room keys by an imperial advisor. All visiting Nephilim were to be housed on the upper floors, with the imperial family on the penthouse floor.

As Lunafreya began to leave, Imperatrix called out for her.

"You have the rest of the day to yourself. The peace treaty celebration is not until tomorrow night." She started, debating whether or not to continue.

"I am aware of this gift of leisure, but I am not permitted to leave the hotel. Is there a reason to remind me of this?" The oracle spoke with an air of scorn for the restrictions placed on her.

"You are permitted to leave with a guard accompanying you." Imperatrix corrected and then added hesitantly. "I am willing to escort you around the city."

A look of hopeful surprise lit Lunafreya's face. "Why?"

"The citizens will be less tense around me if you are present."

She studied the imperial princess for a few moments until a small smile shined through. "That is a very roundabout way of asking for friendly accompaniment."

Imperatrix would persist being a puzzle to her.

The princess was not Emperor Iedolas Tellus Aldercapt. The oracle could not continue to let the shadow of his faults bias her opinion of the imperial princess.

If the woman wished to show Lunafreya kindness, then it couldn't be returned with contempt.

They couldn't stay stuck in this gray area.

"Friendly accompaniment?" Imperatrix chortled lowly, smiling indulgently as she did when one of her sisters pretended to be nicer to get something they wanted. "I shall cherish this short reprieve of friendship then."

"Give me a few minutes to freshen up." Lunafreya's spirits were too high to be vexed at being treated like a child.

She floated onto the elevator.

Imperatrix sat in the lounge, picking up a magazine and searching for an interesting store to purchase mementos of the trip.

Despite other's views on the matter, she would spoil her sisters. Presents were a way for the princess to communicate affection for the girls when duty kept her away so often.

She hadn't seen Furia since her wedding and departure to Tenebrae. With the second princess living in another country and Imperatrix's busy schedule, their relationship had fizzled to a degree.

How many phone calls had the princess missed because she'd been tied up in meetings or on a mission? Too many according to the family spitfire.

Euphemia and Venus saw more of Imperatrix than anyone else and even then their time together was often cut short. The alternative was to indulge them at night, with the consequence of her being tired the next day, but contented from their sweet smiles.

Ravus was wrong.

She wasn't feeding their vanity with the material gifts, the princess was salvaging what space was left in their hearts for her.

"Why are you sitting all by your lonesome, my dear?" Ardyn sauntered over, swiping the magazine out of Imperatrix's hand. "And reading these boring tourist pamphlet! Were you re-considering my offer?"

A sly smirk was revealed as Ardyn lowered the book from the front of his face.

"Chancellor Izu-"

"Please call me Ardyn. We aren't putting on a show for anyone, are we, Impera?"

The princess stood to her full height, chin angling upward to make up for the distance of her head only reaching his chest. "Do not address me so intimately, I am the crown princess! I am not 'Impera' to you!"

Imperatrix was so much fun to tease.

She'd been an absolute delight when first introduced to him. He'd been a curiosity to her then and was afforded all the endearments of a young, captivated girl.

Too bad her attitude towards him had frequently soured over the years. He so missed those flushed smiles and the attention.

"My gravest apologies, Princess Imperatrix. Nostalgia for the old days overwhelmed my sense of reasoning." He stooped into a mocking bow, removing his hat in deference.

"Did you have a reason for seeking me out?" The princess reigned in her temper, knowing the chancellor thrived on excitable conduct.

"Other than doing my gentlemanly duty by checking on you, no, I'm afraid not."

"I thank you for the concern, but it is unnecessary."

The emergence of Lunafreya caught the red-head's attention.

"Chancellor Izunia." The oracle greeted civilly.

"Why are women so formal with me?" He tutted and when neither female responded, Ardyn returned his hat to its original place and changed topics. "Are you two going somewhere?"

"We are. Is that an issue?" Imperatrix crossed her arms, daring the chancellor to challenge her authority.

"Do be careful, lovely ladies such as yourselves are magnets for trouble." Ardyn chuckled conspiratorially as he waltzed off.

The princess felt she was missing something. Unfortunately, an answer wouldn't come until later when the trickster decided to elaborate at the most inopportune time.

Somehow the chancellor always got the last laugh.

"Did you have someplace in mind, Imperatrix?"

She pushed thoughts of Ardyn Izunia to the back of her head. "If you do not mind walking, there is an outdoor mall nearby."

Lunafreya beamed. "I have never been to a mall. We only have small markets in Tenebrae."

"Modern things like malls lose their grandeur after a few times." The princess cracked a grin, recalling exhausting shopping trips with the female family members.

She much preferred markets, the products found there were often homemade and unique. Malls offered more generic selections.

"What made you go to one? Royals have tailors." Lunafreya imagined someone as militaristic as Imperatrix shopping and found it an amusing notion.

Furia, she could see doing something so mundane, since the oracle and her sister-in-law shopped together on occasion.

The larger-than-life crown princess didn't fit in a normal setting in her mind.

"My sisters like shopping for themselves. And clothes are not the only things you will find in a mall."

"What else is there?"

"Food, toys, equipment, and all manners of technology, each mall is different. They tend to not have the same stores unless they are large franchises."

Lunafreya was mystified by Imperatrix's explanation of things she'd found or bought at different malls.

The girl loosened up the further they got from the hotel, avidly taking in the sights of the city and listening to the tales of the princess.

Citizens stopped to gawk at the pair. None approached in light of the Nephilim, namely Imperatrix. The contingent of guards discreetly following them also dissuaded any bystanders from getting too curious.

What a sight they made.

The oracle had changed into a casual dress and could pass as a regular upper-class citizen. The princess had only bothered to remove the cloak of her uniform before leaving. Her distinctive hair and skin would've rendered a disguise useless.

Besides, Imperatrix was too known, anonymity in a technological city such as Insomnia was impossible.

They probably had news feeeds of her and her father on one of the millions of televisions throughout the city.

"There it is!" Lunafreya smiled.

The outdoor mall bustled with activity.

The oracle was instantly fascinated with all the displays and couldn't decide where to look. Imperatrix watched the girl's head whip to and fro with mirth. The princess allowed the girl to take the lead. After some time exploring, she paused in front of a dog store, cooing at the puppies on display.

"If I am not mistaken, you have a set of dogs." Imperatrix mussed.

Furia had sent her a photo of two canines with opposing coloring, black and white dogs.

"Umbra and Pryna, they are my dearest companions." Lunafreya giggled after a puppy licked the glass where her hand rested.

Imperatrix softened. The innocence of youth was a wonder in itself. "Does my sister play with them?"

A dog wasn't what she had mind as a gift, and her father was sure to protest a mutt being brought aboard a warship, yet, a dog would be a good companion for the second princess when her husband or family weren't available for company.

Too often was she left with Lunafreya and servants for amity, a group that probably weren't as amiable as Furia was used to.

"Yes, when we have tea in the afternoons." The oracle replied, hand dropping back to her side. "She is very lively...her name is proper."

"What havoc has she caused?" Imperatrix sighed, assuming the girl was making a complaint that she would have to take up with her sister.

Ravus did it often enough.

"Oh, I didn't mean that negatively. Umbra and Pryna have such fun chasing her around the garden." Lunafreya tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Though, she and Ravus do have clamorous arguments that leave our furniture in pieces. The servants have created their own code when referring to her. When Furia is in a mood they say 'avoid the fury', when she is placid they say 'don't poke the fury'."

The princess grimaced. "How does your manor still stand with two volatile occupants?"

Ravus and Furia liked going for their weapons the minute someone irked them. Between a sword and a whip, things were sure to turn up damaged on a regular basis.

"He likes riling his wife up honestly."

"How do you know this?"

"I asked him, he finds Furia's outburst entertaining because she is so short for twenty-years-old."

Imperatrix couldn't prevent her laughter.

The princess had something indecent in mind, like Ravus savored being whipped, but of course he wouldn't share something so sordid with his little sister. She wouldn't put such proclivities past her sister, the girl was a sadistic deviant.

Lunafreya's laughter joined the other female's, but her laughter was from the image of her giant brother screeching at an equally belligerent Furia, not their bedroom activities.

"Would you like to go inside?" Imperatrix offered after calming down, to which Lunafreya nodded eagerly.

The girls browsed the dogs on sale.

The oracle became too preoccupied with petting every creature that ran to the front of their cage to provide the princess insight on which one to purchase for Furia. The salesclerk was no help either, too dumbfounded by the presence of two princesses in her hole-in-the-wall store to articulate herself.

A white laika with an obnoxious bark called to Imperatrix. The dog very much personified Furia, all bark and no bite.

The small thing yipped at her after taking it out of the cage, but it didn't bite the princess.

The pup and all its necessities were purchased with the money she'd exchanged upon arrival. It was jarring to use bills to pay instead of gil, but Imperatrix managed with minimal embarrassment. The sale was concluded with instructions for the items to be delivered to the hotel and the princess paid extra for the service.

"Where to next, Lunafreya?"

"You are letting me decide? I thought you were shopping for your sisters?" She tilted her head in confusion.

"You are more likely to find an interesting store than I am. Luck is on your side." The princess wouldn't have noticed the dog store, it had no presence and was in the corner where no one would look. "You are free to buy something as well. I wo not tell anyone."

The oracle blushed. "I did not think I would have an opportunity like this and did not complete an exchange."

Imperatrix blankly stared at her. "You could have asked Ravus for money."

Her sisters begged her for money all the time.

Lunafreya could have asked when she went upstairs, in fact, that was what the princess assumed the girl went to do besides changing her clothes.

"I did not want to bother him."

She doubted that, but didn't contend the claim. "If you see something you like, I will buy it."

Hopefully, the oracle didn't pick anything too expensive. She'd never been shopping with Lunafreya before so Imperatrix didn't have a reference to go by.

"I could not ask that of you." Lunafreya politely declined.

"I insist, you must have something to commemorate your first mall visit." The princess pointed to a jewelry store. "A bracelet or a necklace perhaps?"

Imperatrix walked to the store and entered with purpose, she'd spotted a golden necklace that would suit the oracle. She guided Lunafreya to the crescent moon on display.

"What do you think? A lunar moon for your namesake?"

The piece was simple and good quality. A bit pricy, but within budget.

"It is pretty." Lunafreya agreed wistfully, already won over. "But I cannot…"

This time the employee running the store didn't have a problem approaching Imperatrix and conversing about the product. The princess ended up buying the piece after persuading Lunafreya to accept the gift. The oracle immediately put the necklace on and gently traced the circular item.

"Thank you for this, Imperatrix."

"You are welcome." Thinking that was the end of it, she proceeded towards another store.

"Not just this, but thank you for this experience." Lunafreya dipped her head gratefully, smiling radiantly.

Imperatrix was so caught off guard she missed the girl walking past her to tour the rest of the mall. The oracle calling for her drew the princess back to the present.

Shopping with Lunafreya was turning out to be more pleasant than she expected.



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