Lightning has struck the ground once more, but this time, she is the savior—almighty god's servant, the legendary figure whose appearance heralds the end of the world.
When she stepped into the grand ballroom that lies at the heart of Yusnaan and confronted Snow, ruler of the city, he made it clear that the reunion was not welcomed. The pair crossed swords, and Snow called her an angel of death. They both share the same grief over Serah's death, so what did Lightning hope to achieve by provoking Snow in this way?
Before their conflict could escalate, a Chaos infusion bloomed in the palace and Snow retreated. When Lightning tried to follow, the path was blocked by a strange young girl called Lumina. By the time Lightning resumed her chase, it was too late, and she had no choice but to return to the Ark.
God made a promise. He told Lightning that he would bring Serah back to her, if she became his servant and acted as his savior. She agreed at once.
But inside Lightning's mind, Lumina warns her that even if she plans to turn against God, she would be well-advised to play the loyal servant until the end. Lightning is being watched by God through Hope's eyes. But not even he can see what lies within the unseen realm. he cannot see within the Chaos, nor within the hearts of men that are made from it.
Who is this young girl who suggests that Lightning conspire against God? Lightning glimpses the shadow of Serah in Lumina as she disappears—but what does that mean?
In reward for her loyal work as the savior, God decided to gift Lightning a fleeting reunion with her beloved sister. The Serah who appeared before was Lightning was just a shadow, and not the girl herself, but her voice, her face, her very presence felt as real as flesh and blood to Lightning. Seeing Serah again lit a fire in Lightning's heart, steeling her determination to bring her sister back—or at least, it should have.
The fact is, Lightning felt no joy when she saw the sister she had lost—only a cold, mechanical recognition. Were her emotions taken away the moment that she took up God's offer? Has she lost something precious, something she could no longer even grasp? Even faced with this betrayal, the expected fear and anger fail to materialize.
Vanille once fought alongside Lightning against their shared fate, and she sacrificed herself to become part of the crystal pillar that saved Cocoon. Thirteen years ago, she woke from her eternal sleep and was quickly taken under the care of the Order, who proclaimed her a saint.
When she awoke, it seemed that Vanille somehow gained the ability to hear the cries of the dead. Vanille herself says that she wants to use this power to bring peace to the dead. It is a wish born of the remorse that she still feels for all the deaths for which she believes she was responsible.
The dead of this world have become part of the endless swirl of Chaos. Feeling the power of it, Lightning realizes that this responsibility is too much for Vanille alone to bear. Yet the one person who has always been at Vanille's side to support her is not there. Fang is gone.
The Guardian's ChoiceEdit
The unseen Chaos is made up of the amalgamated souls of the Yeuls who have been reborn in time. Those Yeuls shared the wish to see Caius once again, and that wish drew them together in a cancerous mass of hopes and dreams. The souls of Yeuls are no more than a great concentration of Chaos, unable to separate from one another any longer.
If Caius were to be reborn in the new world, those Yeuls would have to follow him there as well. And if they did, that world would soon be poisoned just as this one has been. Could it be that the reason Caius has decided to stay behind is for the sake of the world that is to come? Or does he simply loathe to leave the Yeuls, who no longer have a physical form to return to?
Lightning has regained the memories that she lost. When she fell into the crystal sleep, it was as a vessel for Serah's soul. But Serah is no longer inside Lightning's heart. Did she lose Serah as well as her emotions when she became the savior?
Lumina has hinted as much. She toys with Lightning, telling her that she has lost more than she knows in her deal with God. God has promised to bring Serah back, but will it be a false Serah, created by him just to play a part?
Lightning finally reveals her intentions. If God will not fulfill his part of their bargain, then she will not stand idly by and watch him take another throne. After he has made his new world, Lightning will wrest it from his hands and give it to humanity. Even if she has to use her last resort...
The False SerahEdit
A vision of Serah appeared to Lightning as a reward for playing the part of savior. She looked like Serah in every way, and yet Lightning knew there was no real soul in the thing that wore her sister's face. It was a hollow imitation, made by a god who cannot see into human hearts. The more she spoke with the puppet, the more fixed her suspicions became.
If God cannot fulfill his promise to bring Serah back to her, then the savior will have lost her only reason to obey his whims.
Yet Lightning cannot find Serah's lost soul on her own. Even as her doubts grow, she cannot yet cut her ties with the god she is sworn to.
The False SaviorEdit
Is it alright for a god, who cannot see into the hearts of people, to decide their future? In order to truly save humanity, mustn't the savior turn her back on such a god and reclaim the world for the people themselves? But perhaps it is not possible to defeat the almighty Bhunivelze.
The seeress Yeul, who sees the truth of all things, speaks of the doubts and questions that fill Lightning's heart. And she tells Lightning that she cannot save anything as she is now. Not mankind's future, not even her sister's soul.
As she is, Lightning is no more than an incomplete existence held in God's palm. If she cannot find her true self again, she will never achieve true victory. And with this cruel truth imparted, Yeul disappears.
The Will of the DeadEdit
The dead all lived once, but now they are returned to the Chaos. And out of the Chaos came Cid Raines to speak on their behalf.
He revealed a startling truth. Vanille has the power to summon the souls of the dead, and lead them on to the new world. The power to save the dead—it is a power that even the savior herself does not possess. But Vanille, in the hands of the Order, is determined instead to perform the Soulsong and erase all of the lost souls from existence.
Raines told Lightning that she must make the millions of dead her allies if she wishes to defeat God in battle. He instructed her to entrust them with her wishes, though her bond with the one person she loves above all others. She needs Serah to do this thing for her—but she still does not know where Serah's soul has gone.
The Rites of AnnihilationEdit
The final day arrived, and Hope showed Lightning the path she must take. He told her that Serah is watching over her. If Lightning can lead the people to the world that should be, he is sure that Serah will return to her. With those last words, Hope disappeared.
Down on the surface, the Soulsong was beginning. Believing Hope's assurance that stopping the ceremony will bring Serah back to her, Lightning headed for the cathedral. Along the way, she encountered Lumina, who told her that the Soulsong is meant to wipe the dead from history, making it so that they never existed in the first place. With an even greater conviction that she must stop this ceremony, Lightning set off at a run. Lumina remained where she was left, unnoticed by any as she began to fade into the Chaos.
The Saint's DecisionEdit
Noel. Fang. Snow. Lightning's friends and allies from the past all came together to stop the Soulsong. No one had called them or arranged for their meeting. Even without words, they had all naturally arrived at the same conclusion.
The Soulsong was a lie, meant to destroy the souls of the dead and keep the new world for the chosen few. When Vanille realized this, she stopped the ceremony and instead worked together with Fang to summon the dead to her. The brilliant light of those millions of souls took flight, soaring off to the new world. Vanille chose the correct path, with Fang by her side. She used up all of her power in the process, but she did not have to give up her life as the Order would have had her do.
Lightning turned her back on God and put a stop to the Soulsong—and Serah's soul appeared before her, as if she had been waiting for Lightning to make the correct choice.
It was Lumina who had protected Serah all this time. Lumina was not Serah—she was the part of Lightning's own heart that had been cut away, the part that Lightning thought she had lost. It had become the vessel that she knew as Lumina, and inside, Serah's soul had been kept safe until Lightning was ready to take it back.
Yet their reunion was fleeting. The bells that marked the end of the world began tolling, and Bhunivelze awoke. The almighty god descended upon the world in Hope's body and snatched away the souls of Serah and Lightning's friends.
Now, she must rescue them, and free Hope's soul from the body he shares with Bhunivelze. The savior stands alone against God.
The Final BattleEdit
God waited for Lightning instead of rushing to his new world, because he was not finished with her yet. He had chosen a task greater than that of savior: she was to be his goddess.
The new world cannot survive with only a god of light. Just as in the old world, there must be darkness to balance the light. A god that gives life needs a goddess who grants death. In God's plan, Lightning is to take the place of the fallen Etro and watch over the souls of the dead, ensuring that they are reborn and that the cycle of life continues. Without such a goddess, the new world will suffer the same fate as the old one has.
And so the last trial begins. It is through battle that God will determine if Lightning is worthy of taking Etro's place.
Bhunivelze's greed, his lust for power over everything, even human hearts, led to his downfall. When Lightning called out to it, Hope's soul—which Bhunivelze had seized and bound himself to—responded. Hope was saved, Bhunivelze was cut adrift, and his corporeal vessel began to fall apart.
Lightning also sank into the darkness. She arrived in the world of the dead, prepared to take Etro's place and accept her duty of eternal solitude.
But there in the depths, she found herself. The self that she had cut away and discarded. The child she had been: sometimes selfish, sometimes cruel, and terribly lonely. Lumina was made up of everything that Lightning had ruthlessly abandoned when she was forced to grow up too soon.
Seeing herself honestly for the first time, Lightning wished desperately to be saved. And at that moment, a hand reached out to her. It belonged to Hope.
God's true form was that of an inexhaustible crystal, something perhaps that could not be destroyed by human strength alone. Still, when Bhunivelze attempted to rise again, Lightning stood to face him without any doubts in her heart. She was not the one savior any longer. She was with her friends, and they would face God together.
The hope turned into certainty when Serah appeared with the souls of the countless dead. All of those souls were untied by a single, brilliant wish, and their incandescence blew God into the infinite abyss.
The battle was over. Etro's place would be filled by the Yeuls who had become one with the great Chaos. But a single Yeul was returned to Noel. He and his Yeul would go to the new world; Caius would continue his eternal role, and be guardian to the rest.
The souls of all humanity streamed onwards and upwards. Toward a new world. A world of hope, where they could live, and love, and be together once again.