Hello and welcome to my character breakdown of Ardyn Izunia from Final Fantasy XV! Before I go any further, here’s a spoiler warning.
There will be a lot of spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled about Ardyn or about Final Fantasy XV’s ending, please leave now.
This is my interpretation of Ardyn based off of the limited information we are given throughout the game. I’m aware that I may be wrong, and that’s OK. With that being said, let’s get into it! (Check out my video here).
Ardyn is a fascinating character, mainly because for most of the game we have no idea he’s a bad guy. We suspect it, but he doesn’t actually do anything to make us doubt him. That is, until Chapter 9.
The murder of Lady Lunafreya opens our eyes to Ardyn’s not so nice side, and from then on he’s seen as an enemy. This wasn’t really a hard jump for me since he went and kidnapped Prompto.
Fast forward to the end of Chapter 13. As we watch Noctis get sucked into a crystal, we get to listen to a very interesting story from Ardyn about himself. His surname is not Izunia, it’s Lucis Caelem.
This was not something I had been expecting. My surprise quickly turned into disappointment when we weren’t really given any more information.
He informs us that he was once a beloved man who spent his life freeing people from the scourge by taking it into himself. This tainted him, and the Six deemed him unworthy of the Lucian throne. He was cast aside and is now hell bent on taking revenge.
Is it just me, or does it feel like we are missing some important pieces to this story?
Once I had finished the game, I decided to dig a little deeper. Who is Ardyn really? What I found made his story arc make much more sense.
Let’s start by taking a look at the Cosmogony books scattered around Eos. So far players have only been able to find 8 of them (if you know of any more please let me know!)
They say some interesting things about the history of the Lucis line, but the one I really wanted to focus on was ‘The Ring’. It speaks of the Six bequeathing a ring to man in ancient times. This ring would be passed down until the one who is meant to rid the world of the Starscourge is born. Until that day it would bestow upon the rightful heirs of the Lucis line a mark identifying them fit to rule.
Now, we know that the king mentioned is Noctis, and ultimately he fulfilled his duty as the Chosen King. However, the end of the book mentions that after some time the ring was transferred to the hands of a man blessed with powers divine, ultimately developing the mark identifying one fit to rule.
This is very important. Nowhere in the book does it say that this particular man was the Chosen King. However, in the history of Eos found in the back of the Final Fantasy XV strategy guide, it says that this first man was in fact the chosen king, and that he cleared the world of the Starscourge. We know that Noctis is also the chosen, and he wouldn’t be born for a couple thousand years. I believe the man mentioned was Ardyn, first king of Lucis. At least, he should’ve been.
It talks about the man being blessed with powers divine. In Ardyn’s story he refers to himself as a savior who could heal mankind by taking the scourge within himself. In the Cosmogony book titled ‘The Crystal’, it speaks of a man born to a mortal but blessed with powers divine. These powers allowed him to conjure a collection of glaives that he used to banish the scourge. Ardyn is able to summon the glaives just like Noctis, as we saw in the final boss battle.
Are you still with me? Basically, Ardyn was the first member of the Lucis line to be deemed worthy of the title of Chosen King. The ring granted him the power to clean the Starscourge, which had begun affecting the people of Eos. Now comes the bad part.
Ardyn did his job happily, taking the demonic energy from the scourge out of his people and into himself. Upon doing so, he was filled with the evil energy and this changed him. The Six no longer deemed him worthy of being the Chosen. Another man, who we will call Izunia since that is where Ardyn took the name from, saw his chance to dethrone Ardyn and take the ring for himself. Izunia turned the people of Eos against Ardyn and he was banished. Izunia took the mantle of king and proceeded to erase Ardyn from history, taking credit for the destruction of the Starscourge.
Now, Izunia had to have been apart of the Lucis Caelem line in order to wear the ring of Lucii. It is unknown how he was related, but lets assume he was a cousin. I only say this because their surnames are different. Had they been brothers, they would’ve both been Lucis Caelem’s, and not Izunia (assuming they had the same father, which is how the Ring is passed down).
Ardyn, now stripped of his title and hated, was left to wait. The demonic energy he had taken in rendered him immortal, and his hatred grew.
A quick side note, another reason that this makes sense to me is because the first Chosen King was alive during the Great War of Old, when Ifrit betrayed the rest of the Six and allowed the scourge to begin taking over the people of Eos. The country of Solheim had been known for its Magitech army, something that was lost when Solheim fell. The Great War is what caused the Six to hand down the ring of Lucii, as well as bestow the trident to the Oracle line, in the first place. The Nilfheim Empire is given the secrets of the Magitek Soldiers by Ardyn, something he tells us himself in Gralea. How would he have known the way to create these things if he hadn’t been alive when they were originally in use?
Back to the main plot. After waiting a little under 2000 years, he makes his move, introducing himself to the head of the Niflheim Empire, Iedolas Aldercapt, and giving him what he needs to build a Magitech Army. He’s given the title Chancellor and becomes Aldercapt’s Councilor.
Ardyn is made aware of Noctis’ birthright and feeds Aldercapt a plan; call a truce with Insomnia by offering the Lady Lunafreya, current Oracle, to marry the next heir to the Lucis Caelem line, Noctis. However, there wouldn’t really be a truce. They would attack the weakened King Regis, taking Insomnia for the Niflheim Empire.
While Aldercapt expected Noctis to be present at the ceremony, Ardyn knew better. Despite the Crown Prince being declared dead, Ardyn tracked him down in Galdin Quay and began to help the new king realize his full potential.
This is when we meet Ardyn in game for the first time. He continues to help Noctis, leading him to where he needs to go and helping him do things he may not have been able to do previously.
During the scene where Noctis is getting absorbed by the Crystal, we learn that Ardyn did all of this so that he could kill the Chosen King himself, thus reclaiming the throne he lost so many years ago. The scourge has effected his mind however, and he now wishes to bring a new Starscourge among the people of Eos, instead of saving them from it. He helps Noctis because he feels that he will only get his revenge by defeating a fully realized king, not a mere mortal who hadn’t yet been given the mark.
If you’ve finished the game then you know how Ardyn’s story ends. After Noctis’ ten year sleep within the Crystal, the two of them have a final battle, Chosen against Chosen. In the end Noctis is successful, allowing Ardyn to finally rest in peace. Upon his own death however, Noctis finds Ardyn’s spirit awaiting him on the other side, and using the power of the 12 previous king’s of Lucis, destroys Ardyn for good.
Ardyn’s story is a tragic one. A man chosen to rule, and willing to do anything for his people, becomes corrupted and banished for doing just that.
Thanks for sticking around for this crazy ride. Keep in mind that this is my interpretation of bits of information we are given through the game. I could be wrong, but this makes the most logical sense to me. Let me know your thoughts! Do you agree or disagree?
Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next time!