l'Cie and Seeress

Just about the worst thing that can happen to you on either Cocoon or Gran Pulse is being made a líCie. The lives of the líCie are bound to the falíCie, and a personís fate is essentially stripped: their will no longer matters. All that matters is their Focus, their goal, and that Focus is most often impossible. If you somehow manage the given task, you enter an eternity of crystal sleep, only to be beckoned back to wakefulness when the falíCie has further need of you for yet another Focus. To the public, líCie are things to be feared and hated. Cocoon líCie are revered and respected, but they are still rejected for the fact they are doomed; Pulse líCie are to be exterminated, no exceptions. The cast of Final Fantasy XIII stand on both sides of this prejudice, and on both sides of being the right and wrong sort of líCie. They are hunted, pursued, all the while trying to fulfill an unclear Focus whilst their brands keep ticking on. Itís a no-win situation, no matter which way you turn.

Yet, despite the odds, they do succeed in their Focus - beating it, shaping it into what they want, living to make the impossible possible - and they turn to crystal. Etro erases their brands, takes them out of endless servitude, and they wake. Most of them. For the party, there is life after being a líCie, however improbable.

Immediately, all seems well. But being a líCie is not something that is simply taken from you, and Serah is the one the narrative explores this with. This isnít about the unbreakable bond that was forged, either, or reintegrating into a society that shunned your existence - this is a facet of her fate that, though the brand is gone, lingers in the dark. Itís very quietly done. Serah adapts to the now universal magic easier than most, despite never having used it before, but as a líCie, the capability was there. Serah adapts to a lot of things frighteningly quickly. When she arrives in Academia in 400AF and the population is turned to cieíth, this is because the proto falíCie Adam sensed a threat.

Specifically, it sensed a líCie. When it scans Serahís bicep, the brand is still there. The question is, did it ever leave? Could Adam only see it because Serah travels through time, and - though time cannot be returned to before Lightning was removed from the timeline - because she used to be one, she can never not be a líCie? Itís a curse that cannot be lifted. Itís not something that you can just stop being. Once a líCie, always a líCie.

And though sheís not in service to a falíCie anymore, she is in service to one of their betters, the next step up in the chain.

Being released from crystal stasis has another terrible side effect for Serah, in that she gains the Eyes of Etro. Anyone who has a strong connection to the chaos of Valhalla - and inside themselves, so a strong heart - has the capacity to become a Seeress. However, this is the trait of Yeul: a trait that transpired because Etro took pity on Yeul, and Yeul was reborn. Just as Etro took pity on Serah, and released her from crystal stasis, giving her a new life with her sister and fiancee that should have been forever denied to her. Yet the price is just as great. For every vision Serah has, her lifespan will be considerably shortened, and she is effectively doomed to die, just as she was when she was a líCie. Once again, Serah is cursed - and once more, the rest of the party rally around her. But this time, they also rally with her to come up with a solution to what she sees, and to bring about a better future. They donít question it, they just do.

Itís the same as the first time around. Just as Serah had dreams of destroying the world thanks to Anima, she again dreams of the world being destroyed in XIII-2 thanks to Etro. Eventually, she and her friends realise that in this instance, Cocoon must fall, so their original Focus is fulfilled, albeit five hundred years late... howís that for irony. And foreshadowing, since her visions become her main obstacle throughout time. And which fall did Serah dream of thanks to Anima?

The thing is, Serah has lived through one set of impossible events already. To find Lightning again and save the world, both lofty, at times seemingly unachievable goals? She reaches for them, as does everyone else. Serah being a Seeress makes sense - as she will always be a líCie, she was always the Seeress before being named as such. She made the party believe once, even secondhand, and this time, she has her own words to say.

But it is without a doubt a curse over a blessing.