The story of Ardyn Izunia from Final Fantasy XV
Ardyn is first encountered by Noctis and his companions at Galdin Quay. There, he behaves mysteriously and reveals to Noctis' group that the ferries are not running anymore. He also cryptically mentions that the ceasefire is not bringing them anything. Ardyn then hands Noctis a coin, calling it his "allowance". He then walks off, leaving the group with more questions than answers.
The group meets Ardyn again in Lestallum, where he once more perplexes them with his cryptic behavior. Ardyn claims that Noctis and his group should visit the Archaean, even offering to take them there. The group and Ardyn drive off towards the Archaean. While Ardyn drives before them, the group discuss Ardyn, agreeing that he is suspicious and might be unreliable. Ardyn eventually stops driving, claiming that they will not drive further anymore and instead make camp. The next day, Ardyn leads the group to the gate leading to the Archaean but then leaves the group.
After the group is forced to fight the Archaean, they are trapped on a platform amidst a lava lake. In the last moment, an imperial battleship arrives, opening its hangar and revealing Ardyn. Ardyn offers help to the trapped group, formally introducing himself as High Chancellor Ardyn Izunia. He promises Noctis and the group save passage and they reluctantly board the ship as they have no other choice. Ardyn indeed keeps his word and drops the group off afterwards, although the Empire wants Noctis dead.
Ardyn later appears in an Imperial base, breaking up a confrontation between Noctis and his friends, and Ravus. Ardyn and Ravus leave soon after, with Ardyn claiming that they have business with the Oracle Lunafreya.
As Noctis makes it to Altissia to reunite with Lunafreya but is needed to acquire the pact with the Astral God: Leviathan, an event that eventually proves to be nearly disastrous, Ardyn sneaks into the altar where Lunafreya resides and inflicts a fatal injury onto her to ensure that she would not survive the trial.
Later, when the party is bound for the last of the Lucian Royal Tombs and the Imperial Capital via train, Ardyn makes an appearance to a grieving Noctis, hoping to "explain" himself, but Noctis' bereavement turned into rage, as well as the intercepting Imperial forces cut their conversation short. After Noctis and Prompto hold off the assault and manage to get the train into more peaceful straights, Ardyn tricks Noctis via illusion to mistakenly attack Prompto, knocking him off of the train. Delighted to have demoralized Noctis, he then pistol-whips him unconscious as the train continues its journey.
When the remaining party continue on after a crucial layover into Tenebrae following an increase in daemonic activity, they eventually get to the corpse of the Astral Shiva, the Glacean, whose very presence as a cadaver has plunged the outskirts of Niflheim into a frozen wasteland. Ardyn makes his way back onto their departing train to discuss terms with Noctis again; however, having lost Prompto and having enough of his trickery incites further indignation from Noctis. With their train later delayed due to daemons and the build-up of ice on the tracks, Ardyn then makes his way back to Ignis' and Gladiolus' rail car, having let in the freezing conditions into the train. Knocking both out as the temperature decreases further, Ardyn goes in for the kill as Noctis also freezes, but is intercepted by the presence of Gentania, who instantly freezes Ardyn with a simple touch, and reveals herself to Noctis as the reincarnation of Shiva, giving onto him her pact and the Trident of the Oracle, the weapon of his late fiancee. With Ardyn frozen helpless, Noctis then shatters him to bits, but not long before he returns in spirit to let Noctis knows he still lives.
Making his way back to Graelea, the Imperial Capital, Ardyn gathers up the remaining troops of Niflheim to halt the party's inbound train head on and activates the Wallbreaker to subdue Noctis' powers. As Noctis is separated from Ignis and Gladiolus in the aftermath of their race to cover distance into Graelea proper to clear the city's closing defenses, Ardyn stands from afar, monitors, and taunts as Noctis is forced to go alone and nearly helpless into the heart of the Niflheim Empire, Zenebrath Fortress. Having set up traps and with all of Graelea's populace tainted into daemons, Ardyn's ploy is nearly successful, until Ignis and Gladiolus manage to rescue the Prince when he is caught in a trap.
When the group rescues Prompto from Zenebrath's prison and makes their way further to reclaim the Crystal, Ardyn then sics upon them the demonized corpse of Ravus, and following Ravus' euthanization, a lockdown sequence further aggravated with a destructive onslaught of daemons, forcing Noctis again to separate himself from his companions, who stay behind to fend off the daemons for him to reclaim the Crystal as its rightful heir as king to use it to ultimately banish them and the Starscourge forever.
However, as Noctis makes his way to reclaim the Crystal, he is unknowingly forced into its realm. Struggling to remain in reality and to exist materially to stop the Starscourge before its threat can fully be realized onto Eos, Ardyn reveals himself during Noctis' struggle, recanting onto him a story of a healer whose actions saw him fall from the grace of the Astrals because of his methods to eradicate the Starscourge, and was further demonized by his people by a jealous forerunner to become king. Revealing to Noctis the sins of the Lucian family that now has accursed both the world of Eos and its people, Ardyn then reveals himself in full as that very ancestor, who now reigns as Noctis is fully taken into the depths of the Crystal.
With the rest of the party, having defeated the daemons and coming too late to Noctis' refuge, they demand an explanation of what Ardyn has done to their friend, who simply mocks and leaves them in silence. In frustration and outrage in return, Gladious slashes at his jugular and Prompto shoots Ardyn in the back in the heart, both of which do nothing but get him to stand back up and shed the blood of daemons. With Noctis now gone, Ardyn unleashes the full extent of the Starscourge upon the world and creates thousands of Daemons that wreak havoc everywhere in Eos, essentially plunging the world into a nightmarish state of utter darkness and terror with the Starscourge now completely covering the planet. He himself takes residence in the Citadel, practically becoming the new "King" of Lucis as the sole inhabitant there, and moves the Crystal to the Throne Room. While he lets the world fall into chaos, Ardyn never leaves the throne room and directly attacks the humans, instead patiently waiting there all along for Noctis to arrive.
After 10 years, Ardyn is finally able to begin his last stand as Noctis finally wakes and comes with his retinue to challenge Ardyn. Ardyn mocks them regarding how Lucis is now his kingdom and Insomnia is under his rule before bombarding the city with meteorites to wreak devastation before revealing he has erected the Wall around the Citadel, all just to mock Noctis on Regis' sacrifice, and he is quick to rage when Noctis furiously calls him sick. He leaves them to deal with the Daemons he has created and also the Behemoth King, but thanks to Cor and Luna as well as the Astrals, they are able to overcome it. Barely bothered, Ardyn sicks upon them the God of Fire Ifrit, who he had resurrected and corrupted, only for the Astrals to once again aid Noctis. Greatly excited, Ardyn projects his voice around the Citadel and reveals the Rulers of Yore will be their next opponent. When he finally comes face-to-face with the True King, Ardyn finally lets out his eagerness at finally being able to eradicate the Lucis Caelum bloodline and die as he confronts Noctis with the illusionary bodies of Regis, Nyx, Lunafreya and Iedolas grotesquely displayed for his own amusement. He is quickly enraged when Noctis coldly told him a jester, stepping on the throne he was sitting in before revealing his deep desire for his goals to come true. Ardyn then knocks out all of Noctis' friends, casually dismissing them as death weights to Noctis, and tells him to meet him in the streets to begin their final battle.
The duel was well-matched, Ardyn's own immense powers and far greater experience allowing him to effectively counter Noctis' greatly increased powers and prowess but he could not decisively defeat Noctis as they continue to fight to a stalemate. Repeatedly taunting Noctis as well as implying that the world will only be for worse if the dawn is to break, Ardyn eventually seemingly wins the first round and catches him off-guard. Having actually intended to die, Ardyn releases Noctis after goading him into using the power of light. The two engage in a fierce Armiger duel, which ends in Noctis barely overpowering Ardyn by blasting all his weapons at him.
Still standing, Ardyn lashes out in rage as he reveals how impudent it is for Noctis to believe that just because he has spent 10 years in the Crystal means he can surpass him, also raging on how Noctis failed to save his most precious loved ones and his belief that the Crystal is merely using Noctis and all the rulers of yore. However, his rage clouds his fighting and although not going down easily, Noctis defeats Ardyn eventually by striking him with all the Royal Arms.
Unfazed by his death, having always intended to die, Ardyn asks Noctis calmly on his decisions to save the world and genuinely smiles when Noctis shows his sympathy for Ardyn's restless torment and tells him to forever be at peace, saying he will await him in the beyond. Indeed, Ardyn is seen calmly waiting patiently for Noctis to come in the realm he was sent in. When Noctis comes, Ardyn smiles and bows to him in respect. Lunafreya weakens him and Noctis unleashes the full power of the Providence upon Ardyn by having all the Kings of Lucis strike Ardyn, finally destroying him for good.
Having finally truly died, Ardyn finally completely fulfilled his goals, as his death allows him to rest while Noctis also dying fully eradicates the Lucian bloodline. With the Starscourge fully purged from his soul, which also eliminates the Scourge entirely from Eos and the sun rises once again, Ardyn enters the afterlife, finally granted the peace he has wanted for so long.
Ardyn is revealed to have attacked Ignis and Ravus and tries to get Ignis to join him by threatening Noctis falsely. In the first version, Ignis, to Ardyn's shock, gains the power of the Ring of the Lucii, which earns him some of Ardyn's respect, acknowledging tauntingly that Ignis had proven to be worthy, before fighting him. Ardyn, although having the capability to defeat Ignis, could not reveal his true powers and after Ignis loses his enhanced power, leaves out of possible respect for Ignis' hard work as it doesn't hinder his plans at all. It is also shown that Ardyn gives the now blind Ignis a mocking smile after Noctis becomes King in order to gloat on how he wasn't able to save his king.
In Verse 2, it is revealed that Ardyn wanted Ignis to be used as a trap for Noctis in order to force him to gain the power of the Crystal. He effortlessly overpowers Ignis but to his shock, Ignis gains the power of the Ring and disintegrates his body but Ardyn merely gloats that he would inevitably return and fulfil his plans. Ardyn resided in Insomnia for years until Noctis woke and alongside Ravus, the party destroyed Ardyn but Noctis was able to elude death due to Ignis' secret plan.
Ardyn appears in the DLC as one of the main antagonists. He kidnaps Prompto and brings him to Niflheim's First Magitek Production Facility run by Verstael Besithia and reveals this is Prompto's birthplace. After returning Prompto's gun and cryptically hinting at his past, Ardyn encourages him to seek out Verstael. Tape recordings scattered throughout the facility reveal that Ardyn helped Verstael create the magitek infantry, and Verstael credits Ardyn's cooperation for developing a way for him to transfer one's ego and consciousness into a magitek armor. Prompto learns that he is a clone created by Verstael. Confronting a mutating Verstael, Prompto kills him and Ardyn taunts him about his patricide over the speaker system. Prompto later enters an illusion where he is hunted by Noctis while appearing as an MT, likely an illusion conjured by Ardyn. After Prompto and Aranea defeat Verstael's magitek incarnation, with Prompto going to Gralea, Ardyn smiles evilly as he sings Victory Fanfare, showing that he had planned for the Immortalis to be defeated and Prompto to go to Gralea while Noctis and his retinue are behind him in order to ensure Prompto would indeed be held captive in Gralea, further ensuring Noctis would go to the stronghold of the Nifleheim Empire and acquire the Crystal, which he knew full well would absorb him.
Episode Ardyn Prologue
In this episode, it is revealed the full extent of Ardyn's past. He was once a noble and idealistic healer and had a relationship with the first Oracle but all fell apart when Somnus was notified of Ardyn's corruption and chosen to be King by the Gods. Ardyn was lured into a trap by his brother and his corruption was revealed to the populace, although he was able to keep himself from showing it. Somnus duels Ardyn and although Ardyn initially outfought Somnus, he lost the battle when Somnus surprised him, warp-striking to the spear he caught and stabbing him. Accidentally Area died and Ardyn's rage transformed him completely as Somnus regrets Aera's death and laments Ardyn's change. The Chrystal confirms Somnus was chosen over Ardyn because Ardyn was unworthy by repelling him and Ardyn finally is forced to accept the truth just as Somnus executes Ardyn, leaving his corpse impaled with the blade as his younger brother mournfully and sadly oversees the rise of the sun. However, Ardyn's immortality made him unable to die and Somnus was forced to imprison Ardyn in Angelgard for 2 millennia while all traces of Ardyn were erased from Lucis' history and his brother ascended to the throne. Later Ardyn grows to hate his bloodline. As the anime ends, Ardyn is shown sitting in the throne of Lucis, having reminisced of his past, and smiles evilly as he proclaims he is waiting for Noctis.
In this DLC episode, Ardyn is the main character.
2000 years after he was sealed away in Angelgard, Ardyn was freed by Verstael, who found him using his knowledge of the myth of Adagium, the monster Ardyn was called after he was erased from history, and although at first refusing to accept Verstael's offer of an alliance to destroy Lucis, he ultimately fully abandoned any and all sorts of morality after being pushed to the breaking point by hallucinations of Somnus and Aera, daemonifying Ifrit.
Ardyn attacked Insomnia during the Founder King's Festival to aid Nifleheim, destroying all the Wall amplifiers, until he decided to abandon their alliance as Regis could summon Somnus' spirit so Ardyn could personally kill him, a plan that worked as Somnus did appear, called upon by Ardyn's threats of killing Regis after having outmatched the reigning King of Lucis. Although finally defeating Somnus, Ardyn was once again pushed to the deepest of his rage as Somnus repeatedly stated what he did was not out of the jealousy he had for Ardyn even though he admitted such feelings existed but to protect the kingdom their predecessors had fought with everything to protect and when Somnus asked for Ardyn to understand the necessity of his tragedy, Ardyn furiously lashed out at his brother, saying he had no right as he took everything from him, but Somnus vanished after a genuine prayer for Ardyn's soul to find peace.
Before he could lash out at the unconscious and beaten Regis, Bahamut arrives and reveals that Ardyn could find peace and complete what he had started before by allowing himself to be destroyed by the True King, which will also grant him the satisfaction of destroying his brother's lineage. With the temptation of his finding peace proving to be possible being great, further coupled with how Somnus' bloodline will end anyway, despite being bitter on how he was, in the end, nothing but a sacrificial lamb for the gods, Ardyn begrudgingly accepted and Bahamut leaves. He furiously demanded that Somnus and Aera tell him why wasn't he told the truth but despite all his desperate pleas, he received no response and he screamed in deep emotional anguish over the betrayal of the two people closest to him as he returns to the mortal world. Finding himself in Angelgard, Ardyn at first questioned whether he was alive or dead but then decided coldly that he no longer cared for anything but the fulfilment of his true death. As he began to walk away, he stated with ever-growing bitterness that both the kings of Lucis who he accursed and the "blessed Gods" were now nothing but a means to his end: both his revenge, starting with his plans to plunge and keep all of Eos trapped in the darkness of the Starscourge until he truly died, inflicting despair upon the people who ungratefully deemed him a monster after everything he had did, and true death and peace. He soon finds himself watching Somnus and Aera working together, immediately causing him to lash out when he reached them and cruelly kills them and laughs madly as he succumbs to the great feelings of betrayal and anger for how his service was for nothing but for him to become a sacrificial pawn and how Somnus and Aera knew the truth but kept it from him.
The final scenes show Ardyn walking back to Insomnia all the way from Gralea without using his powers, his face surprisingly grim until he sits on the throne of Lucis, at which point he relaxes and smiles evilly as he begins to wait for Noctis to return and plunges all of Eos to despair.
Dawn of the Future
In the novel epilogue to the Final Fantasy XV Universe, Ardyn chooses to defy Bahamut's "game of fate", thus events of Final Fantasy XV transpire as normal until the end of Chapter 13, where Noctis also chooses to fight fate(though it is now possible that the game's ending only happened as a dream sequence in Noctis' mind). As a result, Noctis learns the full truth of why Ardyn became evil and stops short of killing him during their final battle, giving him the Ring of the Lucii to go kill Bahamut in the heavenly plane with the very power the Draconian intended Noctis to use against Ardyn, while Noctis and the other Astrals destroy the treacherous dragon in the physical plane. By doing this, Ardyn finally fulfills his originally intended purpose as a savior and reunites with Aera in the afterlife.