Prayer & Wish: V

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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 heavy (possibly dignified) noise. 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 dream should 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 to 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 Godess 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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