Caius Ballad

Caius is that guy. You know, the guy voiced by that one voice actor who shows up intermittently throughout the heroís journey to taunt and monologue because his goals are better than your goals. That and he keeps coming back for more punishment. Heís XIII-2ís Seymour, being, that he just wonít stay dead. (Plus heís worse than Seymour because Caius just gets continuous free passes at life.) By story dictation, you never actually get to beat him either, because he possesses the Heart of Etro which allows him to revive himself when on the cusp of death - and most of the Paradox Endings come about because of that one universe where you did. Or the end of the game where you did and Valhalla is unleashed anyway.

Also, Caius spends each of his fights boosted by Regen and Reraise and youíre going to have to spam Wound to inflict enough blood damage for him not to become a royal pain in the ass. Itís been years but I will never forget.

I have a very low attachment to Caius.

Itís also difficult to articulate his relationship with Serah beyond the obvious. Itís not that it doesnít exist - it just isnít prioritised above the good/bad dichotomy. Caius is the villain to Serahís hero. Whilst Serah traverses time to unravel and fix it, Caius screws it over because he wants time to stop. If time doesnít exist, then Yeul will no longer be affected with visions of the future and thus, he wonít have to watch her die.

To quote the Lightning Returns retro-spective sprite recap: ďI cannot bear this.Ē

The problem is, though Caius is the antagonist, once we pass his deliberate implosion of time - which makes him comparable to Serah - itís actually all about Yeul. Thatís his motivation, and itís not that Serah doesnít have the same sort of motivation with her sister, itís just that Noelís motivation is also to save Yeul. Itís a specific Yeul, but all of them by extension. This makes Caius the opposite of Noel instead, and the extreme version of Noel. Caius has lost hope; both of them wished to protect the Yeul from the end of days, but Noel isnít willing to destroy everything and everyone in order to get there. The suggestion galls him. Whenever Noel is present, Noel takes the priority of relationship development with Caius because much of his ire is for Caiusí methods - and as Caius was a friend, itís personal.

Understandably, with Serah knowing much of the original cast, Noel has to take precedence somewhere. Caius, in turn, usually targets Noel.

Except for the one time that he doesnít. Thereís one instance prior to Serahís entrapment within her heartís desire where she fights Caius, alone. Caiusí monologue goes to prove that they are comparable with their goals. Without Noel to prod, Caius shifts his focus to Serah and he talks about a feeling, a thought - that Serah fulfilling every wish of her heart will in turn kill the wishes of someone else, and he wonders if she can bear that responsibility. Itís not just speculation. Itís a very deliberate observation and itís not just about Serah, itís about him. He knows this conundrum intimately, because his wish is to save Yeul, and heís willing to break the entire timeline to do it. To get what she wants, to find Lightning, Serah will also do what must be done, and Caius knows it. This isnít Noelís journey - Serah has to make the choices, and the responsibilities for those choices sit on her shoulders. Serah isnít allowed the luxury of optimism and the focus on the end, of not considering what time will lose throughout their journey. In comparison, Noel has always been the last of humanity, a hunter just to survive, and it canít get much worse than that. He hasnít had to think about those things. But Serah does. Itís her humanity coming into play.

Serahís humanity makes her stand squarely against Caius. Caius lived at the end of days just like Noel, and has lived apart for every era after, and his only companion is Yeul, a Yeul that never stays. Whilst Serah chooses the world over her wants, Caius choose selfishness. Caius is the hero of his own story, and to him, Serah is the villain, the one that means prolonged suffering to Yeul.

Serahís willingness to dismantle time to her own ends is what makes her similar to Caius, but she instead chooses to put her own happiness aside as well as her own life. Itís a strange antagonism that they share that is, again, difficult to put to words. Neither of them are completely black or white - instead, theyíre shades of grey. And instead of a hero/villain dynamic between them, itís actually more of a light/dark dynamic, and that everyone has facets of both. It just depends what you do with it that makes you good or bad.