Long ago when the words of the gods resonated in the hearts of men...
Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn – Prologue is an animated episode prologue to Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn released a month before the DLC on YouTube for free. Similar to the way Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV detailed the backgrounds of the four main heroes of Final Fantasy XV, Episode Ardyn — Prologue details the background of Ardyn from 2,000 years ago in Eos's history when he used to work as a healer. The anime is in Japanese with subtitles available.
- Ardyn Lucis Caelum - a healer who travels the countryside
- Somnus Lucis Caelum - Ardyn's younger brother who leads armies against daemons
- Aera Mirus Fleuret - the Oracle who awaits the gods' decision on the Chosen King
- Gilgamesh - Somnus's bodyguard
The world is in ruin due to the emergence of daemons, but the nobles of House Caelum have gained influence and the masses' trust due to using their god-given powers to fight them, gaining the other lords' support to become the realm's leaders. When gods sought a leader among men, a man from the Caelum line was the obvious choice, but they have two options: the young charismatic war hero and leader of armies against daemons, Somnus, or the righteous older brother who dedicates his life to the people, Ardyn. As the gods' mouthpiece among men, the Oracle is to deliver their decision, and awaits in the tower where the Crystal, the chrysalis for the soul of Eos, is kept.
A person infected by the Starscourge staggers into a village, alerting a villager. Somnus leads an army to a wasteland covered in dark mist to attack the infected people who disperse into miasma and turn into daemons. Somnus and Gilgamesh later burn the bodies. A disgusted Ardyn comes to see the pile of charred human/daemon remains and is led through the ruined village by an old man who tells how Somnus had rounded up the infected, even those just suspected of infection, to be burned alive. A woman begs Ardyn to save her daughter, and he goes to the girl who is turning into a daemon and heals her by absorbing the plague into his own body, hiding the effect it is having on him.
Ardyn lectures at people how the Starscourge is a disease for which treatment can be developed. He abhors the practice to exiling the infected. The people are divided, as even though Somnus's method of containing the outbreak is cruel, it is faster than Ardyn's healing of people one by one. A man swears fealty to Ardyn as the people's true king, but Ardyn is not interested in the throne, though he would accept it if it means he can save the people.
Ardyn meets with the Oracle, Aera, his fiancée, who has escaped the castle to see him. The two explore mystical ancient ruins whose history is shrouded in mystery. Aera assures Ardyn that even if everyone forgot about him due to the passage of time, she would always remember.
Aera returns to the tower and Ardyn is discovered by soldiers who chase after him. He hides but his infection is spreading and he begins to exude miasma and collapses. Aera goes to see the Crystal, which begins to shine as Bahamut delivers his message. Somnus seeks Aera to hear the gods' decision, but she is reluctant to tell him. He asks if the Crystal made its choice, but Aera says the stone has no will of its own. She relents and tells Somnus what she learned.
Ardyn has been saved by the villagers he helped when a mass of people comes to him and kneels before him, telling him the gods have chosen him as the king of people. He goes to the Crystal where Somnus declares himself as the gods' chosen king. Aera is shocked but is stopped from interfering by Gilgamesh. Somnus explains declaring Ardyn as king was a ruse to get him to reveal himself, and manifests the Blade of the Mystic from thin air. Ardyn draws his own, red Rakshasa Blade, and the two duel. Ardyn seems to be winning but Somnus warp-strikes him with a spear and impales him. Aera runs in-between the brothers and is cut down by Somnus. She smiles at Ardyn as she dies in his arms. As Somnus prepares to finish off Ardyn, the latter transforms into a monster in a fit of rage and the spectators flee the room. Somnus laments Ardyn has become the monster he had made him out to be.
Ardyn, carrying Aera's body, staggers toward the Crystal while being attacked by Somnus and Gilgamesh. He puts his hand on the Crystal to ask whom the gods have chosen as their True King, but the Crystal's light sends him flying down the stairs. Ardyn realizes the gods have chosen Somnus because he is unworthy. Somnus executes Ardyn whose darkness disperses into the sky, leaving Somnus to stand over the corpse of his dead brother and the Oracle with a solemn look on his face as he beholds the rising sun.
Ardyn had become immortal and Somnus had no choice but to imprison his brother in Angelgard as he ascended to the throne where he grows to hate his bloodline, his name absent from history books.
The episode ends with Ardyn sitting in the throne of the Citadel, smiling evilly as he patiently waits for Noctis to come and fulfill the prophecy.
Creation and developmentEdit
The idea for telling Ardyn's origin story came from the survey Business Division 2 conduction on Final Fantasy XV in 2017 where fans had requested to know more about Ardyn. Back then, it had been decided that Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ignis would be the final DLC, and thus it was decided Ardyn's story would be told in an anime. The developers later realized they wanted to add a playable DLC focusing on Ardyn as well. As the events of the anime take place 2,000 years before the game, it was also intended to be used as PR for the main game and as a way to thank loyal fans.
The goal of the anime episode was to extrapolate on the character of Ardyn and show a different side of him. The anime was produced by Satellite Inc, but the scenario, story and design were by the original Final Fantasy XV development team. The developers would have liked to show more on the three main character's (Ardyn, Aera and Somnus) relationship as well as what the ancient world was like, but were constrained on time and thus decided to focus on Ardyn's character.
Animation Director Shinichi Kurita has lamented that quite a lot of detail is lost when converting from 2D to 3D, and thus received guidance from the art team. The artists pared down details so they would be faster to while making sure it would not look bare as a still image. The team focused on characters' expressions, and referenced cut scenes from the game to pick up on their gestures and other nuances.
- Concept art by Shinichi Kurita