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Niflheim, a military empire of vast machinery made strong by the might of its magitek.
—Prologue of Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

The Empire of Niflheim is a nation in the world of Eos in Final Fantasy XV. It has achieved world domination bar the Kingdom of Lucis, which has defended itself with the Crystal's power. Tenebrae has limited autonomy from Niflheim due to the Oracle, Lady Lunafreya, who has the power to commune with the gods.

Niflheim is technologically superior and more advanced than most nations of the world due to their knowledge of magitek. It has developed an army that doesn't need human soldiers, the magitek infantry, and is developing weapons to neutralize the magic of Lucian royalty.

The empire is associated with the colors red, gold and white, with the emperor dressing in white robes and their military emblems and flag being in these colors. Apparatus powered by magitek—technology only Niflheim uses—glows red.

LocationsEdit

Niflheim inhabits the western continent. A lot of it is arid desert, but the slaying of the Glacian turned parts of the continent to snowfields that paradoxically coexist mere miles apart from the sand dunes.

Niflheim controls virtually every land exempting the Crown City of Lucis, though the Fenestala Manor and Accordo are allowed relative autonomy. The empire controls various bases in the outlands of Lucis, and after Insomnia's fall, sets up a provisional government there.

A new type of weapon the imperial military has devised is the Wallbreaker Wave, a machine that can neutralize the magic of the Lucian royalty, and even enfeeble Astrals.

Chain of commandEdit

Imperial-Forces-Zegnautus-Throne-Room-FFXV

The emperor meeting with the military leaders.

Niflheim is ruled by the Aldercapt House, with its current reigning monarch being Iedolas Aldercapt. Chancellor Ardyn Izunia is the emperor's right-hand-man, managing international relations among other things.

Verstael Besithia acts as the chief researcher into daemons and magitek, having developed the magitek core technology used for magitek armor and magitek troopers. Besithia has the trust of the emperor and gains nigh unlimited funding for his projects. General Glauca acts as the high commander of the military, served by Ravus Nox Fleuret as the deputy high commander. Ravus is in turn served by Caligo Ulldor and Loqi Tummelt, brigadier generals who lead ground troops consisting of magitek troopers. Aranea Highwind, a former mercenary now hired by Niflheim, meanwhile refuses to work with MTs and leads human troops, and is aided by her loyal subordinates Biggs and Wedge.

MilitaryEdit

Niflheim-Forces-FFXV

The imperial military.

Niflheim deploys two types of soldiers (commonly from magitek engines): ones with glowing eyes, and others with their faces entirely covered. The glowing eyes type are the magitek infantry, humanoid machines powered by magitek cores. The imperial infantry appears to be human cyborgs. The infantry serve combat roles as well as various non-combat roles, such as managing blockades. Fully human units also serve the military, such as in the group led by Aranea Highwind. The terms "magitek infantry" and "imperial soldiers" are often used interchangeably, but the magitek types greatly outnumber the soldier types, having largely replaced them.

Another type of magitek weapon the empire deploys is the magitek armor, usually large bipedal robots, but recently the empire has developed new forms, such as the monstrous Diamond Weapon to the wormlike Immortalis. The most powerful magitek armor, Omega, was originally constructed by the ancient civilization of Solheim whose glory Niflheim seeks to recreate.

Niflheim is also known to weaponize daemons and employ mercenaries.

Airships form the backbone of the imperial military machine. Magitek engines are small, box-shaped dropships that deliver troops and magitek armor to the battlefield, and are the most numerous type of imperial airship, but the empire also deploys colossal dreadnoughts and "manta ray"-shaped vessels. The empire also has tanks, whose deprecated remains can be found around their bases in Lucis, but their use seems to have been scaled down, presumably having been superseded by airship technology. The empire is not currently known to have a navy, though the Almanac entry for Galdin Quay posits Niflheim used to widely use one before the advent of airship technology.

Story Edit

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)

In the aftermath of the War of the Astrals two thousand years ago, Niflheim was one of four countries created from the ashes of Solheim. Solheim was a global civilization that lived in harmony with the six Astrals before being overthrown by the god of fire, Ifrit, who had broken rank from the other Astrals and turned on mankind when the hubris of Solheim led them to spurn their benefactor.

In M.E. 358 Niflheim, led by its ruling Aldercapt dynasty, declared war to annex neighboring countries,[1] desiring the powers the Astrals had bestowed upon Lucis and Tenebrae[2] and aspiring to recreate the domination of Solheim.[1]

In the year M.E. 359, Niflheim conquered the land of Tenebrae, except the Fenestala Manor, home to the Oracle lineage of House Fleuret, due to the masses' faith in the Oracle.[3][2] In M.E. 501, the imperial army discovered daemons, a life form unknown to them at the time.[1][2] Niflheim's experiments with daemons would in time unwittingly infect their own populace with the Starscourge malady, propagating more daemons to spawn across the globe. In Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn, Verstael hypothesizes that the imperial territory gain is releasing the previously dormant plasmodium responsible for the daemon outbreak from the soil into the atmosphere.

Circa M.E. 606, Niflheim crossed the Cygillan Ocean to engage the Lucian-Accordian Allied Forces, and overwhelmed it with its new weapons, namely, the magitek armors. Accordo surrendered and the Lucian king erected the Wall around the whole of the Cavaugh region that includes the Crown City of Insomnia, and took up a siege position.[3][4] The empire took control of the outlands and turned the fishing village of Galdin into a trading post connecting the Lucian continent with the imperial province of Accordo. Sometime later, Niflheim stopped using ocean routes in favor of airships, and Galdin's importance as an imperial port diminished.

In late M.E. 720, the empire under the direction of Verstael Besithia uncovered Ifrit's slumbering body from the Rock of Ravatogh and preserved him on ice. By the year M.E. 725 the entire world outside of Lucis was under imperial rule, although Accordo was allowed relative autonomy and the Tenebraen royalty still operated freely from the Fenestala Manor. Emperor Aldercapt, the long time ruler, once benevolent and loved by the masses, began the mass production of magitek soldiers for the forthcoming all-out war with Lucis.

Magitek-soldiers-KGFFXV

Magitek soldiers.

The magitek infantry was developed with knowledge of daemons provided by Ardyn Izunia between M.E. 722 and 723. He was quickly made chancellor of Niflheim and became the emperor's right-hand-man, planting the desire in the sovereign's mind to capture the Crystal of Lucis. Ardyn introduced to Research Chief Verstael Besithia the method to procure daemonic miasma from humans to power magitek cores, which would be attached to magitek trooper frames and encased in lightproof armor. Though Verstael thus came to understand the true nature of daemons, miasma and the Starscourge, he seemingly kept the information to himself, as to the general public the mysterious phenomenon of imperial citizens disappearing en masse was simply known as the "vanishing disease".

The Great War between Lucis and Niflheim lasted between February 24-April 1 M.E. 725. Anticipating defeat by Niflheim's new magitek army, King Mors of Lucis, grandfather of Noctis Lucis Caelum, shrunk the magic barrier surrounding the kingdom to Insomnia's outer ramparts to strengthen it.[1] Niflheim breached further into the outlands where they began to build new military bases, and much of the Leide region was destroyed. On M.E. 734, Verstael and Ardyn conspired to bring down Insomnia's magic barrier to invade it, but despite Ardyn taking out various Wall amplifiers the Wall held and their attempt was thwarted after Ardyn was expelled from the city.

Regis-Noctis-Escape-Tenebrae-KGFFXV

Regis and Noctis flee when Tenebrae is invaded.

On M.E. 744, King Regis of Lucis arrived in Tenebrae with his eight-year-old son, Prince Noctis, for the latter to recuperate from an injury sustained from a daemon attack orchestrated by the empire. During their stay, Niflheim attacked the Fenestala Manor, where the Tenebraean royal family lived, to kill Regis and Noctis. General Glauca murdered Queen Sylva in front of her children, but Regis escaped with his son. The incident was covered up, and the queen was reported to have perished in an accidental fire. The queen's children, Princess Lunafreya and Prince Ravus, fell into imperial custody, though still nominally the leaders of Tenebrae.

In M.E. 745, the military battled the suddenly-awoken Astral Shiva in Ghorovas Rift outside Gralea. Her frozen corpse caused a major climactic anomaly enshrouding the majority of the continent, including the capital city of Gralea, in a perpetual winter. Niflheim lost most of its magitek army in the battle, and began developing magitek soldiers strong enough to fight Astrals.[1] The empire had developed a device dubbed the Wallbreaker Wave to neutralize the magic used by the Lucis Caelum dynasty and even enfeeble Astrals.

Couple years after this the emperor's secret granddaughter was born to his son, as per information given in Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-. The emperor's wife had died soon after giving birth to their only child, and the son also later fell in battle. The emperor's changed demeanor from a benevolent ruler into one obsessed with military expansion and acquirement of magic is often attributed to the loss of his wife, but some believe it to be the influence of Chancellor Izunia.

Nifllheim-airships-FFXV

Niflheim airships flying to Insomnia.

In the year M.E. 756 Niflheim attacks Lucis during a peace-treaty signing party, which was supposed to settle the dispute and annex the Lucian outlands to the empire in exchange for peace. The invasion was pushed by Deputy High Commander Ravus Nox Fleuret, the former prince of Tenebrae. The treaty-signing was a cover for the true imperial objective: the invasion of Insomnia, the theft of the Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, and the total conquest of Lucis. King Regis, his son Prince Noctis, and the Oracle—Lady Lunafreya—are all reported dead, and Ravus loses his arm after attempting to wield the Ring of the Lucii.

In truth, Lunafreya escaped Insomnia with the Ring of the Lucii, and Noctis was not in the city when the attack took place, prompting him to try to rendezvous with Lunafreya and start his quest to restore his kingdom and save the Crystal. After General Glauca's defeat in the battle of Insomnia, Ravus becomes the new high commander of the imperial army, now fitted with a magitek prosthetic in place of his lost limb. He is tasked with capturing Lunafreya and Noctis, but does not follow through; in fact, he secretly helps Lunafreya return to Tenebrae.

Iedolas before he transforms

Emperor Aldercapt.

Emperor Aldercapt seeks the Ring of the Lucii in Lunafreya's possession, as even though he now has the Crystal, its power cannot be commanded without the ring. The Crystal is a powerful magical artifact whose power of light is unmatched. It had been kept by the kingdom of Lucis for two thousand years, protected by the lineage of Lucian kings. According to legend, the Crystal is of divine origin and was bestowed upon humanity by the Astral god Bahamut alongside the Ring of the Lucii, which harnesses the Crystal's power for a chosen few.

After Insomnia's fall, Niflheim moves to secure the area. They pledge to repatriate displaced Crown City citizens, and call their patrolling of Lucian areas a peace-keeping effort, which involves numerous road blocks. Their true purpose is to find Noctis who travels the Lucian outlands with his retinue. When Titan awakens and calls out to Noctis to forge a covenant with him, Niflheim attacks the Astral. The Archaean disappears from the Disc of Cauthess after Noctis passes his trial, but Niflheim publicizes a version of the events where they averted Lucis from further disaster by quelling Titan's wrath, making themselves out as saviors.

Caligo-Ulldor-Episode-Ignis-FFXV

Caligo Ulldor.

Niflheim raids the town of Lestallum while looking for the exiled prince, which results in General Caligo Ulldor murdering Jared Hester—a loyal supporter of the royal house—in cold blood and Noctis begins demolishing Niflheim's military bases with his friends. He is being aided by Chancellor Izunia, who lets the prince escape after he forges a covenant with Titan, and allows him to reclaim his car from an imperial base. Ardyn hires Commodore Aranea Highwind to help Noctis find mythril from Steyliff Grove. Aranea is skeptical of the empire, saying it has fallen into madness in the last ten years.

Ravus and his magitek army are tasked with felling the Leviathan before Noctis can forge a covenant with her. During Noctis's negotiations with First Secretary Camelia Claustra in Altissia, she reaffirms what Aranea said earlier, mentioning "We've seen the empire go mad these ten odd years." Noctis convinces her to let Lunafreya summon Leviathan, but the sea goddess goes on a rampage through the city, and though Niflheim attacks it from airships it has little impact on the Astral. Noctis forges a covenant with her, quelling Leviathan's wrath, and Lunafreya is killed by Ardyn during the battle. Ravus turns on the empire, kills Caligo Ulldor and unsuccessfully orders Niflheim to withdraw from Altissia. Aranea's Airborne Unit is on task for recovery and clean-up. Without an Oracle to hold the Starscourge at bay nights lengthen faster and the empire begins to crumble under the onslaught of daemons. Ravus is sentenced to death, being used as a scapegoat for the damage Altissia sustained.

As told in Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-, the emperor is dying of Starscourge and Ardyn decimates Gralea by unleashing rogue magitek troopers, daemons and a Diamond Weapon upon it. He broadcasts the emperor's final words for the city to hear—his delusions for the rise of Solheim—mocking his desire to become immortal and thus the eternal sovereign of Niflheim. Ardyn declares it the final day of the empire as the emperor has no heir. The emperor's secret granddaughter was evacuated however, and entered into the care of Aranea Highwind whose Airborne Unit evacuates everyone they can to Tenebrae. Aranea herself fells the Diamond Weapon Ardyn was trying to transport.

Fenestala-Manor-FFXV

Fenestala Manor attacked by Niflheim.

When Noctis passes through Tenebrae on his way to the imperial capital, he finds Fenestala Manor aflame, destroyed by Niflheim, and the train station full of refugees. He meets Aranea there who tells him of the current state of imperial affairs. The chancellor is in charge as everyone else is gone: the high commander was to be executed, and the emperor is "no more than a husk at this point." She explains that Niflheim is in chaos, with unprogrammed MTs and wild daemons left to run amok. She says it's gotten too far out of hand for the army to deal with, as there is not enough daylight left to keep the daemons in one place.

As depicted in Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto, Noctis's friend Prompto Argentum has become estranged from his friends, and traverses the arctic imperial outlands alone. He succumbs to the cold and is taken to a magitek production facility by MTs. He escapes after killing Verstael Besithia and his latest magitek creations. Verstael had come to thirst for world domination after coming to view daemons as the superior life form.

FINAL FANTASY XV Gralea

Noctis in Gralea.

Noctis infiltrates Gralea during his quest to reclaim the Crystal, but finds the place devoid of humans and swarming with rogue magitek troops and daemons. The citizens of Gralea have been killed or turned into daemons and the emperor has been turned into a foras by Chancellor Izunia. Ravus had challenged the emperor and declared his support for Noctis, the one True King. The emperor, exuding miasma, had claimed he is the True King because he has the Crystal, and Ravus was soon murdered by Ardyn posing as Noctis. Noctis comes across his body during his search for the Crystal.

In his death throes as the daemon foras, the emperor laments his desire to rule over both the heavens as well as the earth, revealing his motivation for his quest to kill the Astrals. To his final moments he seeks the Ring of the Lucii to gain the power of the Crystal, under the false belief he could become the Crystal's Chosen and rule the world. Noctis and his friends kill him as well as Ravus when his remains are turned into a daemon.

When Noctis finds the Crystal he is absorbed inside it for ten years, awaiting the day he would return as the True King as spoken of in prophecy. Sunlight gradually vanishes from the world, and what is left of the empire collapses. Survivors migrate to Lestallum, whose power plant provides the town with light to fend of the daemons. Niflheim's recovery effort in Insomnia is halted when the city is overtaken by monsters, though the imperial strongholds remain in the city, the magitek troopers operating on autopilot. With the emperor, research chief, and the high commander of the military dead, and the chancellor missing, Niflheim falls apart.

Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future- depicts the imperial lands as abandoned, the only people left being the soldiers who have joined the Hunters and the Kingsglaive in safeguarding the world in wait for the True King's arrival. After magic vanishes from the world and the light returns once more, the previously barren Niflheim region becomes fertile.

Spoilers end here.

Musical themes Edit

The main theme for Niflheim is aptly titled "The Niflheim Empire."

The battle theme against standard imperial enemies and in locales set within Niflheim territory is "Veiled in Black," a fast-paced song with female vocals. A more somber variant is heard when visiting Insomnia's ruins in the final chapter.

Gallery Edit

Etymology and symbolism Edit

Niflheim, also called Niflheimr, is a location in Norse Mythology meaning "mist world". In the story of Gylfaginning, Odin explains that creation began when the ice of Niflheimr met the flames of Muspelheim. Nibelheim is literally translated as "fog-home" in German. "Nibel" is an old-fashioned way to pronounce "Nebel", the German word for "fog", but can also be translated as "cloud" resulting in "cloud home". Within the context of Final Fantasy XV, this could allude to the Starscourge that threatens to overwhelm the world in light-absorbing miasma, which goes out of hand because of Niflheim's experiments and military expansion.

The same name origin is used for Nibelheim from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

An empire is a dominion composed of a multitude of nations that's ruled by one sovereign leader, generally an emperor, although some empires were ruled by kings.

The flag of Niflheim has two dragons, one white and one black, facing each other. Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, and the emperor of China used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power.

Gralea-and-Zegnautus-Keep-FFXV

Gralea, the capital of Niflheim.

Dualism is a recurring theme in Final Fantasy XV. Niflheim likely hearkens to places opposite of the heavenly and safe as portrayed by Lucis: hellish, unsafe, and threatening to those that do not follow its rules and ways. Likely in juxtaposition to the Christian and Buddhist undertones that Lucis displays, Niflheim refers to places of "pagan" and unruly religious aspects, including Nordic religion. While Norse religion is dignified and a proud tradition, its history entails ritual sacrifice that was a widely practiced trait of the Vikings to ensure their victories blessed by Odin and the Aesir.

The game's final chapters have elements significant to the interpretations of the "end of days" be it the Christian Book of Revelation or that of Mappo or Kali Yuga, the Latter Days of the Dharma. Much of the imagery of Revelations describes major disasters that would render the world nearly uninhabitable and wipe out great populations before its ultimate destruction and recreation. Revelations mentions an empire that would be a major catalyst for this event.

TriviaEdit

  • An imperial general named Safay Roth was cut during development, but a trace of him remains in the "SAF" lettering on Niflheim's landing crafts. Proceeding this, Ardyn's position was added as antagonist.[5]
Niflheim-Flag-Episode-Duscae-FFXV

Niflheim's flag in Episode Duscae.

  • Niflheim has various flags associated with it and its army. The one with light and dark dragons facing each other seems to be the official one since it appears the signing ceremony in Kingsglaive and in Zegnautus Keep. Emperor Aldercapt meets with his leaders and magitek troopers in a room surrounded by red and white flags with gold symbols of a robed person facing a large behemoth or lion. This flag was carried by MTs in Episode Duscae and appears in Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV. The robed person from the flag also appears on Caligo Ulldor's armor and on the Imperial Banner in Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ignis. The flags flown in Lestallum and other locations after an imperial takeover have the coat of arms Loqi Tummelt wears on his suit of armor, and is carried by the MTs that drop in the field in the final game. Aranea Highwind and Ravus Nox Fleuret wear different coats of arms.
    • The different coats of arms are likely associated with different noble families who each have their own, like Loqi's House Tummelt.

References Edit