Note: I did these story quests on my main, Auric, who is a male Hyur Paladin and a First Lieutenant in the Flames. Some dialogue may be slightly different for your character.
Quest: Tidings From the East
Lyse: Auric! Great timing! I was just about to send word to the Scions. I’ve got lots to tell you! The council has officially recognized the Resistance as our standing army. And I expect you can guess who’s been appointed commander. Suffice it to say, we’re in good hand! Having the Bull of Ala Mhigo at the helm’s done wonders for morale. People were dancing in the streets when the announcement was made. And we have you and the sultana to thank for it. If you two hadn’t worked your magic, he’d never have contemplated following his heart.
M’naago: The council has also decreed that we’re to maintain a presence at Rhalgr’s Reach. Lyse will continue to lead our forces in the Fringes ─ a job she’s been doing tirelessly. A bit too tirelessly, some might say. We’re constantly having to remind her to rest before she falls over.
Lyse: That’s an exaggeration ─ and I always get up again. Anyway, we can hardly afford to lower our guard now. Not after our latest brush with Lakshmi. Speaking of which, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the Qalyana, and it looks like they’ve chosen a new leader. It’s, um…Shanti’s daughter. You know, the half-dead one. For whatever reason, the Qalyana thought she was the best candidate. Which makes them leaderless, basically. As things stand, there’s no prospect of engaging in talks, let alone coming to an understanding. But I won’t let that stop me. I’ll keep on reaching out to them until they finally see sense. Just like I’ve been reaching out to Fordola. She still won’t meet my gaze, but she’s given up trying to ignore me. It may only be the odd grunt, but at least she’s responding. I’ll get through to her yet.
[The twins come running up.]
Alphinaud: Auric, there you are!
Lyse: Alphinaud, Alisaie! Is everything all right?
Alisaie: We’ve received word from Tataru. Hancock has apparently acquired information of great interest and urgency. More than that she didn’t say ─ only that we should come to Kugane right away.
Alphinaud: I had a mind for the two of us to set forth together, but Alisaie is determined to make it a party of three.
Alisaie: As I’ve told you more than a dozen times, Brother, my wounds are quite healed, and I would benefit from some fresh air. Besides, you may well need an extra pair of hands.
Alphinaud: Worry not, Sister, I have quite given up trying to convince you. Whether we be two or three, we should depart as soon as possible. You will be joining us, I trust?
Lyse: Huh. I was about to say I’d come too, but I’ll just have to settle for cheering you on from afar. Good luck with…whatever it turns out to be!
Alphinaud: Thank you, Lyse. Rest assured, should this business prove to be of even tangential concern to Ala Mhigo, we shall inform you without delay. Let us be off, then. Hancock and Tataru await us at the Ruby Bazaar offices.
[To Kugane, Ruby Bazaar Offices. Yugiri, Soroban, and Tataru are there with Hancock.]
Hancock: My friends! Thank you for coming at such short notice!
Alisaie: We were told the matter was urgent. I take it Yugiri and Soroban are also involved?
Soroban: Ah, my presence here is but a happy coincidence. I am come on separate business ─ which can wait.
Yugiri: My apologies. Master Hancock ─ pray tell our friends exactly what you told me.
Hancock: Of course, of course. Some few days ago, a large detachment of soldiers was seen arriving at the Garlean embassy. This seemed to me most unusual, as no personages of note are due to visit for a matter of months. So I made a few inquiries, whereupon I learned of a most curious rumor. Apparently, the soldiers were dispatched to Kugane to investigate recent sightings of a certain individual. The late acting imperial viceroy of Doma ─ Yotsuyu!
Alphinaud: I beg your pardon!?
Yugiri: I, too, am loath to believe it. I saw the keep come down on top of her. We all did.
Hancock: I would not presume to question your eyewitness accounts, nor am I one to take rumors at face value. The fact is, the Garleans have no knowledge of what took place at Doma Castle ─ they may well be chasing after a woman who merely resembles Yotsuyu. But a woman who resembles Yotsuyu in the company of a grizzled Roegadyn samurai? I daresay that thickens the plot.
Alisaie: …Gosetsu? He’s alive!?
Hancock: While I’ve no conclusive proof, I thought that such a possibility warranted your attention.
Alisaie: Have you informed Lord Hien? Well, I think we’d all like to believe the old bear survived.
Yugiri: Indeed. While I dare not give myself wholly to hope, I will not deny that I have prayed for such a miracle ever since that fateful day. But regardless of my personal feelings, if the Empire has seen fit to pursue these rumors so vigorously, we can scarce afford to ignore them. I am bound by duty to ascertain the truth of the matter. Will you join me in this quest?
[“Aye. We’ll find Gosetsu together.”]
Yugiri: Thank you. If Gosetsu yet lives, he will need our help if he is to avoid capture.
Alphinaud: Gosetsu is a dear friend, and we cannot abandon him to the mercy of the Empire. Our course is clear. Hancock, is there aught else you can tell us?
Hancock: Alas not ─ but I have taken the liberty of employing one of the finest informants money can buy. You shall have the latest intelligence on the Garleans’ movements and more besides. The informant awaits your pleasure in the back streets of Sanjo Hanamachi. From its shining facade to its dark underbelly, few know Kugane as intimately as he.
Alisaie: “One of the finest informants money can buy”… Why do I have a bad feeling about this?
Soroban: Permit me to assist you in your quest, my friends. The sooner your business is concluded, the sooner we may speak of mine! Should your search take you away from Kugane, my boat is at your disposal. I shall see that she is ready to sail.
Tataru: I’ll give Soroban a hand. If he’s providing us a ship, the least we can do is supply the provisions. We’ll be at the pier if you need us.
Alphinaud: A welcome offer and an excellent plan. Without further ado, then, let us seek out this informant in Sanjo Hanamachi.
[In Sanjo Hanamachi]
Alisaie: This should be the place. Now we wait and see who comes.
???: I-It has been a while, my friends. Yes, yes, a long while indeed.
[It’s the slimy catfish-man, Gyodo.]
Alisaie: <sigh> I knew it. Gyodo ─ any funny business, and you know what will happen, I trust?
Gyodo: No, no! No funny business! Only loyal service and the finest-quality information! O-Of course…such quality does not come cheap…
Alisaie: …No. But then Hancock already paid you. Honestly, you must think we were born yesterday. I’ve half a mind to call Lyse.
Gyodo: No, no! No Lyse, I beg you! No boots! I will tell you everything I know ─ free of charge! The Empire searches for Yotsuyu. High and low, far and wide. Come to enlist my help, they did, promising rich rewards for decisive information.
Alphinaud: And have you decisive information? Were the two individuals sighted here indeed Gosetsu and Yotsuyu?
Gyodo: Alas, see them with my own eyes, I did not. But the imperials are confident. Yes, yes, very confident indeed. Look at the size of their contingent! But here is something they do not know… A rumor which you will find most interesting, I think. They say an elderly Roegadyn samurai appeared on Kogane Dori with a beauteous maiden, and sold his katana to a pawnbroker. ‘Twas no common katana either, but one of surpassing craftsmanship.
Alisaie: Well, that is interesting ─ assuming it’s true. Did you corroborate the rumor with the pawnbroker in question?
Gyodo: Ah, er…no. Regrettably, I do not have a working relationship with the master of Shofuku Shichiten…
Alisaie: Now why would that be, I wonder. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’d lent you money…
Gyodo: Ahem! H-He will help you, I am certain! While you speak with him, I will make contact with my Garlean connections and learn what I can of their progress.
Yugiri: A glimpse of the blade is all I need to be sure. But is it wise to let the Namazu out of our sight?
[“No. He’ll betray us.”]
Gyodo: No, no! No more betrayals! No more boots! To divide our forces is simply more efficient!
Alisaie: He’s right. Given the urgency, we would do well to split up. And so I will go with our friend here. Nothing improves efficiency like a little supervision.
Gyodo: You ─ But ─ Er…yes. Yes, yes. We will go together. And there will be no boots!
Alisaie: Let’s be about it, then. Good luck with the katana. Shall we reconvene at the pier later on? Fragrant as the Ruby Bazaar offices are, I prefer the fresh air.
Alphinaud: I believe Alisaie has her task well in hand. Shall we seek out the pawnbroker?
Quest: The Sword in the Store
[Questioning the pawnbrokers in the market]
Perky Pawnbroker: Hmm…we might have had customers like those you describe. So many people come through, it’s difficult to remember. Perhaps you could jog my memory by making a purchase? …No? Well, you can’t blame a woman for trying! Heh heh!
[This doesn’t seem to be the pawnbroker you seek.]
Pushy Pawnbroker: A Roegadyn samurai and a maiden? Never seen ’em. Now, if you don’t have any business with me, make way for someone who does!
[This doesn’t seem to be the pawnbroker you seek.]
Pleasant Pawnbroker: Welcome, good sir, welcome. Will you be buying or…? Ah, so you have heard tell of the Roegadyn samurai’s katana. Small wonder ─ it is a fine example of its kind. One moment…
Alphinaud: Dare I hope you have found our pawnbroker? Excellent work, Auric. And that is the katana?
Yugiri: There can be no doubt. It is Gosetsu’s blade.
Master of Shofuku Shichiten: The craftsmanship is exquisite, is it not? And you will be pleased to know that the pledge has just expired. I should be glad to sell it to you…assuming you have the coin. This is no ordinary weapon, you understand, and it is priced accordingly. But if you are serious, I suggest you act quickly, as several noted collectors have already expressed an interest.
Yugiri: Hmm… The blade represents conclusive proof of Gosetsu’s survival. I suppose this could be considered a necessary cost in securing his safe return…Yet it is not a decision I can make alone ─ least of all when our nation has scarce begun to rebuild.
[“I could lend you the coin.”]
Yugiri: Nay, my friend. Grateful though I am for the offer, I cannot ask this of you. It is enough to know that Gosetsu is alive and well.
Alphinaud: Yugiri, wait. The Scions will buy the katana. Pray consider it a gift.
Yugiri: M-Master Alphinaud, your kindness is touching, truly. Yet, in matters of coin, would Mistress Tataru not expect to be consulted?
Alphinaud: Come now. Our friend would never have relinquished his blade were the need not great. And are we not bound by honor to help a friend in need? I say we are ─ and I am sure Tataru will wholeheartedly agree.
Master of Shofuku Shichiten: It’s settled, then! You have made a wise choice, my friend ─ such pieces are few and far between! Now, if you would be so good as to come this way, I shall prepare the necessary papers.
Yugiri: If I may ask, sir, after he visited your establishment, do you perchance know where the old samurai went? He is our friend, and we would return his weapon to him.
Master of Shofuku Shichiten: A friend of yours, you say? I see. Well then, I suppose there can be no harm in telling you. No sooner had I provided him with the requested sum than his pretty young companion began clamoring for dango. I duly recommended those served at the Umineko Teahouse, and thither did they set off.
Alphinaud: …Clamoring for dango? Can these truly be the same people? It makes no sense.
Yugiri: Some manner of code, perhaps. But it avails us naught to speculate. Let us go to this teahouse and see if we can pick up their trail.
[At Umeineko Teahouse]
Ume: But of course I remember! How could I forget a pair like that? The most beautiful girl you’ll ever see, scoffing down dango as if her life depended on it while the old samurai looked on. Not quite what he expected, I’ll wager! Far be it from me to gossip about my customers, but he was planning to spirit her away across the Ruby Sea ─ out of the reach of her family, no doubt. When the girl had finally had her fill, they set off in the direction of the Shiokaze Hostelry, presumably to find someone discreet with a boat.
Yugiri: So Gosetsu makes for Doma. But this woman who travels with him… The more I hear about her, the more I wonder if she can truly be Yotsuyu.
Quest: Hope on the Waves
Yugiri: While doubts remain over the identity of Gosetsu’s traveling companion, for now we can but follow the trail. Come, let us away to the pier, and make ready to sail. With luck, Alisaie will already have joined Master Soroban and Mistress Tataru there.
[On the docks]
Soroban: Excellent timing, my friends. Mistress Alisaie arrived mere moments ago.
Alisaie: All went well at my end. Gyodo met with an imperial officer and wheedled his way to some new information. It seems the troops who recently arrived in Kugane came directly from Garlemald. The imperials based here have been kept in the dark. And that’s not all. A contingent of the aforementioned troops are preparing for deployment to the Ruby Sea. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they’d picked up Gosetsu’s trail.
Alphinaud: Then your information matches ours. We are quite certain that Gosetsu seeks to cross to the mainland.
Tataru: I’m sorry ─ did I hear that right? You used Scion funds to buy Gosetsu’s katana…at the asking price?
Alphinaud: Aye, well, we were in some haste, and it seemed a worthwhile gesture. Speaking of which, here is the contract of sale. Pray see that the man is paid.
Tataru gets the bill.
Tataru: Thal’s…beard. You agreed to this? Give me strength… <sigh> Well, it’s not like the search can wait. You’d best be on your way. But Alphinaud ─ we need to talk. I want you to come straight to the offices as soon as you get back. Promise me.
Alphinaud: Oh? Very well. I shall call upon you as soon as I return.
Soroban: First, let us go to the Ruby Price. If Gosetsu has already set sail, the sentries there are sure to have seen him.
[ SOLO DUTY BEGINS ]
Alphinaud: Tataru seemed rather vexed, did she not? Ever the melodramatist. I am sure our finances can stretch to a single sword. Remind me to explain the value of such gestures when we next see her. Ah, but I digress. We have work to do. Right. I suggest we begin by learning what we can from the sentries. What’s going on out there!?
Ikaruga: Travelers, are you? You may wish to postpone your plans. The Garleans have launched an attack on the Confederacy. We have no reason to believe they’ll turn their attention here, but for your own safety I suggest you return to Kugane.
Yugiri: The Garleans bear no love for the Confederacy, but with Doma lost to them, why would they attack? Unless…
Alphinaud: Unless Yotsuyu is on that island.
Alisaie: Even if she isn’t, our allies are under attack, and they need our help.
Alphinaud: We will help them, while you remain with Soroban. Arguing will only delay us. Is that clear?
Alisaie: Fine. But you haven’t heard the last of this.
Alphinaud: Soroban ─ we may need to make a swift exit. See that the boat is ready to sail at a moment’s notice.
Soroban: It shall be done!
Alisaie: What, and you’re going to swim there, are you?
Alphinaud: ‘Tis the quickest way. And you may rest assured I’ve been practicing!
[Alphinaud, Yuri, and the Warrior of Light dive into the ocean and make for the scene of the battle.]
Alphinaud: <sputter> Haha! <cough> <cough> I did it! <gasp>
Yugiri Mistwalker: No time to rest, Master Alphinaud! Our allies are sorely pressed!
Tansui the Foxed: Well, look who it is. I won’t say no to the help, but I’m not best pleased that we need it. You’re here for the old man, yes? He’s at the top. You’d best hurry.
[At the top of the stairs, a band of Imperials with magitek armor units are facing down Gosetsu while Yotsuyu cowers behind him.]
Imperial Centurion: Lady Yotsuyu, we’re here to rescue you! Please come with us!
Gosetsu: Stay back, Tsuyu.
[Gosetsu takes a fighting stance, but then gasps and falls to one knee.]
Yotsuyu: Are you all right!?
[The Imperials are flabbergasted.]
Imperial Centurion: Is HE all right?
[We arrive at the battle site.]
Imperial Centurion: Damn it! We took too long. Change of plan ─ eliminate hostiles! All forces ─ attack! Focus on the enemy! We’ll see to Lady Yotsuyu when they’re dead!
Alphinaud: Come, let us even the odds!
[Fight! Fight! Fighty fight fight! The Imperials summon armored magitek reinforcements several times.]
Imperial Centurion: Reinforcements! I need reinforcements!
Yugiri Mistwalker: That they should still have magitek armor in reserve… Steel yourselves!
Imperial Centurion: Bah, we have no time for this!
Tansui the Foxed: Watch out! He means to blow it up!
Imperial Centurion: Damn it! Reinforcements! I need more reinforcements!
Yugiri Mistwalker: Two of them… We shall need a strategy. Auric, draw the armor this way!
Alphinaud: Have care! We know not what we face! Back! All of you!
Yugiri Mistwalker: Mist and shade ─ take form and go forth!
Alphinaud: There are too many… Draw them to me ─ I shall finish this!
Yugiri Mistwalker: Auric, my shadows and I shall tend to half. The rest is yours!
Alphinaud: All right ─ brace yourselves! Stars above…rain destruction upon mine enemies!
[Alphinaud Limit Breaks the Imperials.]
Yugiri: Gosetsu! Thank the heavens!
Gosetsu: Yugiri, my friends… The kami were kind to guide your steps this way.
Tansui: It’s over. The imperials are retreating. I suppose we have you to thank for that. But they would never have come here were it not for her. I had a bad feeling the moment your samurai friend arrived with that woman in tow.
Gosetsu: Do not be afraid, Tsuyu. These people are my friends.
Alphinaud: Forgive me, but at the risk of souring the mood, I believe you owe us an explanation. You may start by telling us what happened at Doma Castle.
Gosetsu: Of course. I’ll not begrudge you that. As you know, we were trapped inside the keep when it collapsed. But even as the roof crumbled above us, so too did the floor below. We were swept out into the One River, where we would surely have drowned had a stout wooden door not chanced to float by, offering us a raft of sorts. Exhausted, we drifted out to sea, at the mercy of the tides…which saw fit to dispense us on a desert island.
Alphinaud: She was with you the entire time?
Gosetsu: Aye. ‘Twas her kimono which saved her from Hien’s blade, believe it or not. Some Garlean witchcraft in the weave. But it offered precious little protection against the fall. Though she survived, she awoke bereft of all her memories, and speaking like a child.
Yugiri: A trick, surely?
Gosetsu: That was my first thought, aye. And I contemplated cutting her down and being done with it. Contemplated it long and hard… Yet the kami saw fit to deliver us from certain death. ‘Twas their will that we survive. Both of us. Together. And together we shall go before our master. He shall be the one to judge.
Yugiri: Judge what…?
Tansui: She’s your prisoner, old man. Do with her as you will. Call her “Tsuyu” or whatever else tickles your fancy.
Gosetsu: ‘Twas a name given out of necessity whilst on the road. Nothing more.
Tansui: As you say. But remember this: our people suffered much at that woman’s hands. When the time comes, I trust you won’t let emotion blind you to what needs to be done.
Gosetsu: You have my word.
Tansui: Well, I must be going ─ I’ve an unholy mess to clean up. You should be on your way too, before the imperials decide to take another tilt. Oh…and we’ll overlook the tithe this once. You’re welcome.
Alphinaud: As Tansui says, we should move on. It would not do for Yotsuyu to be seen here. Now, if I know my sister, she will already be waiting with the boat at the nearby pier. Let’s go and see if I’m right.
Alisaie: Gosetsu! Thank the gods you’re safe! It was all I could do to watch the battle from afar!
Soroban: And it was all I could do to restrain her.
Alisaie: Can you blame me for worrying? Strong as Auric is, anything could happen in the chaos. …But enough about me. We need to talk about her.
[Everyone stares at Yotsuyu, who looks unnerved]
Yotsuyu: Um… Greetings?
Alisaie: They tell me you’ve lost your memory ─ and that’s fine. But I want you to know something: I won’t be taking my eyes off you. Not for a moment.
Yotsuyu: These people are strange. Are you sure they’re your friends?
Gosetsu: I am. They may behave…strangely, but I trust them with my life. You have naught to fear.
Yotsuyu: All right, if you say so.
Alphinaud: R-Right! ‘Tis past time we set sail! I for one would not keep Lord Hien waiting without due cause.
Soroban: Aye, and the longer we tarry, the more we risk inviting trouble. Lest you forget, the Red Kojin bear no love for Yotsuyu either. I shall deliver you to familiar shores, near Isari but out of the villagers’ sight.
Soroban: Here is where we part ways, my friends. I pray the remainder of your journey passes uneventfully.
Soroban: Auric, when you are not otherwise occupied, I would speak with you about my next business venture.
Soroban: It promises to be extremely lucrative, and I do not say so lightly.
Soroban: After the prodigious sum spent acquiring a certain sword, it would present a fine opportunity to refill the Scions’ coffers and restore the smile to Mistress Tataru’s face!
Alphinaud: Oh, come along ─ Tataru was overreacting. How much could a single katana possibly cost?
Alisaie: Far more than you think, plainly. A blade like Gosetsu’s is worth a fortune. Enough to buy a house and furnish it. Which you would know had you bothered to check the price.
Alphinaud: What? I-I had no idea… Th-This business venture of Soroban’s ─ you will give it fair hearing, I trust? He has been good to us, after all! As for me, I…I think I shall look into drawing upon my personal funds…
Side Quest: Hells’ Lid Dungeon
Soroban: You would know more of my venture? Excellent! I should be glad to tell you all I know. Though perhaps it would be easier to let our anonymous client speak for his or herself. Here, their missive.
Anonymous Missive: For the Ruby Sea and all who call her home, we seek the aid of the warrior who laid low the Lord of the Revel. But first, we bid him make haste to Hells’ Lid and quell the oni that dwell in its deepest depths. Should he succeed in this test, we shall speak of the true endeavor and consummate reward.
Soroban: A strange proposal, aye, though it must be noted that they knew both of your deeds and of our part in them. The Red have no love of trickery, so I doubt it a trap of theirs. And should this client have honest intentions, then for the sake of these waters, it may behoove us to engage them further. As for their test ─ enclosed with the missive was a magicked dagger, along with instructions as to how it may be used to open a hidden passage into the depths of Hells’ Lid. I should mention that this dagger is old and exceedingly valuable. That our client was willing to entrust it to us without a guarantee of our cooperation bespeaks considerable wealth ─ and more importantly, considerable reward. If you are willing to undertake their trial, I shall journey to Hells’ Lid and prepare to open the path. Ah ─ but given the financial incentive, I think it for the best if I went and fetched Mistress Tataru. Wait for us there, then?
[At Hells’ Lid Entrance]
Side Quest: An Auspicious Encounter
Tataru: Hope you haven’t been waiting long, Auric!
Soroban: My apologies for the delay. I thought it best to explain everything to Mistress Tataru on the way.
Tataru: Honestly, all he had to say was that he’d found a way to make up for Alphinaud’s obscene expenditures. No matter how reckless or dangerous the scheme, if it balances the ledger, I’m all for it! So there’s a bunch of monsters living beneath us? What kind of place is this?
Soroban: Well…according to ancient legend, Hells’ Lid is where the hero Tenzen defeated a host of oni. Oni were foul, evil beings that tormented the peoples of the Ruby Sea, and this island was home to many, until Tenzen, together with the Four Lords, drove the oni into the sea. For his heroic deeds, Tenzen was showered with riches. He then journeyed deep into the mountains, far from the realms of men, and lived in solitude with his companions, happily ever after…
Tataru: And now Auric’s being asked to drive the oni away again?
Soroban: You misunderstand. What I told you was a faerie tale. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever seen an oni. If anything, many assume the tale refers to ancestors of the Kojin.
Tataru: So what you’re saying is that you’ve got no idea what’s waiting for us down below. In that case, I’ll leave this to the experts! If you need me, I’ll be hiding behind that rock over there.
Soroban: By experts I presume she means you and your adventuring companions? I do hope you were not counting on me to join you in the fight…
[Hell’s Lid Dungeon]
[The formidable Turtle Boss becomes a not-so-formidable, much smaller, tortoise. And falls on his back.]
Soroban: …Perhaps we should turn him right-side up?
[Tataru does so.]
Genbu: Ohoho! A marvelous performance, truly marvelous ─ but then you did best the Lord of the Revel…
Soroban: By the kami! A talking turtle!
[Everyone stares at Soroban. He’s oblivious.]
Tataru: I…I don’t even know where to begin with that one…
Genbu: I trust you will forgive me for my deception ─ ’tis something of a Far Eastern tradition, the testing of strength and so forth. A bit rote, perhaps, but anyway! Welcome to Reisen Temple. I am Genbu, guardian of this sacred place, and leader of our little collective.
[Below Hell’s Lid lies Reisen Temple, home of the animal auspices: Genbu, a turtle; Senri, a Fat Cat; Inugami, a Shiba dog; Kudagitsune, a Fox; Nue, a Lesser Panda; Komainu, a Temple Lion Dog; Kamaitachi, a weasel and the second boss of the dungeon; and Furi, a Tanuki.]
Soroban: Genbu!? The selfsame Genbu of the Tale of Tenzen? One of the Four Lords? Under normal circumstances I would assume you named for the legendary being, but clearly this is anything but normal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would meet a talking turtle…
Genbu: Ho, but every one of us here can speak your tongue! Is it truly so surprising? After all, we each have lived more than a thousand years.
Tataru: I-I knew turtles were long-lived, but I had no idea that was even possible…
Genbu: In this wondrous land of ours, it is said that a beast which lives a thousand years attains a measure of divinity. This temple is a place where such auspices may gather. But take not my word for it ─ speak with my comrades and learn their tales. We will talk of the endeavor after.
Tataru: We may as well do what he says. Besides, who knows what valuable secrets some thousand-year-old animals may know?
Genbu: Please, converse with the others. We can speak of the endeavor once you have a greater understanding of who we are.
Tataru: Don’t talk to me, Auric! Talk to the cat…or the weasel. And what does the fox have to say?
Nue: I’m Nue. If you ever need someone to call lightning down upon your foes and whatnot, I’m your auspice. ‘Course, some faerie tales would have you believe I’m something altogether different. A monkey’s face, a lion’s legs, a snake for a tail ─ ridiculous, am I right? Not as bad as that horse with the head and body of a rabbit, to be fair, but still…
Kamaitachi: Hey! That hurt! You didn’t have to give it everything you had in that fight, you know. I only just went through the change, so it’s not like I was gonna slow you down that much… Well, I suppose you didn’t know it was all for show…and I was probably really intimidating… Oh, right ─ you were asking about the collective, weren’t you? Let’s see…Genbu’s the oldest of us ─ oldest in the Far East, too, I think. One of the Four Lords, so as you can imagine he’s much more powerful than regular ol’ auspices like me. Ah, but you probably knew all that already…
Komainu: You will go no further. The reason should be plain ─ beyond lies the prison of Koryu. Were you to damage the wards, he would break free, and all would fall to ruin.
Inugami: Inugami is my name. Men speak it in hushed tones, mistakenly believing me to be a vengeful spirit that murders indiscriminately. There was a time when I killed men by the hundreds, but that was in retribution for the countless creatures they themselves mercilessly slaughtered. It was most deliberate.
Senri: Judging from the way you and that woman are gawping, I’m guessing you’re not from around here? Don’t know how it is in your homeland, but here, if an animal manages to survive a hundred years, it begins to get ideas. Delusions of grandeur. Some small power, sure, but nothing much to speak of. Survive ten times that and you become a full-fledged auspice, though. Speech! Magicks! It’s quite the change, believe me, which is why we call it…the change. What? I never said it was something clever. Anyway! Point is, don’t let our appearances fool you. I could kill you five times before you hit the ground. But I won’t, on account of me being civil. For now.
Kudagitsune: A friend of mine, Tamamo-no-Gozen, once called this place home. Possessed of nine tails, her power far eclipsed my own. But one day she left to live amongst man. What became of her, I wonder…
Genbu: Now that you have a greater understanding of who we are, I shall tell you of the rather thorny predicament we now face. The divinity of we auspices manifests in myriad ways. For example, I possess clairvoyance. And with my preternatural power have I seen a vision of the Ruby Sea ─ of Yanxia, of Hingashi ─ subsumed by roaring flames. This is no distant future, I fear, and if we are to avert it, we must needs enlist the assistance of an exemplary warrior ─ one such as he who faced the Lord of the Revel and lived.
Tataru: What should we do? What should we do!?
Genbu: Fear not, little one, for I have a plan. But to understand it, you must first understand the duality which lies at the heart of we auspices. The aramitama ─ the primal rage ─ and the nigimitama ─ the boundless calm. These elemental forces comprise the soul of an auspice, and it is only when they are in balance that we are truly ourselves. Alas, over great spans of time, or when caught in the midst of tumultuous events, this balance may be disrupted, and the soul may be divided. An auspice overcome by the aramitama is a wild, feral thing, all the more dangerous for their divinity. Calamity and catastrophe invariably follow ─ tremors and floods which destroy men’s works.
Soroban: Auspices can bring about these natural disasters? How frightening…
Genbu: Perhaps, but you must remember that there are auspices who delight in aiding the peoples of these lands ─ auspices who may have even wreaked havoc in the past. Recall you the tale of Tenzen and the Four Lords?
Tataru: The one Soroban told us before? About a samurai and the auspices who drove the oni from this island into the sea?
Genbu: Just so. Yet I fear his accounting of events is not quite accurate, for it was not oni we and Tenzen cast out from this place, but an auspice. An auspice with the power to move heaven and earth ─ Koryu. Wholly consumed by the aramitama, he stoked the flames in this island’s heart until it very nearly erupted in a fiery maelstrom. Tenzen led us in battle against our mad brother, and together we sealed him in this temple. But as the truth of the tale fades from memory, so too do our wards weaken, I fear. Should Koryu break free, he may well finish what he began, and ensure my vision of flames comes to pass.
Tataru: So…long story short, you want Auric to give this Koryu what for when he wakes up?
Genbu: I should think not! His accomplishments notwithstanding, it would be foolish for any mortal to face Koryu without proper assistance. To wit, that of the Four Lords! Regrettably, I am not the young auspice I once was. And to make matters worse, my three compeers have nearly succumbed to the aramitama.
Soroban: Kami forefend! Three of the Four Lords have gone mad!? The Ruby Sea is doomed!
Genbu: Nearly succumbed! Nearly! Alas, in marshaling their strength to retain control, they are unable to commit their powers to the preservation of the wards holding Koryu in his prison. And now that you have a full and complete understanding of the situation, we may at last discuss your part in all this, warrior. I would have you and your comrades face mine in battle and quell their raging aramitama. What say you?
[“So I don’t get to kill them? Well, it’s still something…”]
Genbu: Ohoho! You are an intriguing one, aren’t you? We are grateful for your assistance. Let us brook no further delay and introduce you to another of the Four Lords. I informed Byakko of your arrival when you first entered our domain. He should be returning any moment now. Come, come!
[We walk over to meet Byakko, a horned white tiger.]
Byakko: Old friend. The day of reckoning draws nigh.
Genbu: The wards will fail, and Koryu will break free. Before he does, you must quell the raging aramitama in your soul. This warrior will help ─ doubt not his strength, for he has danced with Susano himself.
Byakko: A bold, audacious claim…yet if Genbu believes it true… Aye, the more I look at you, the more of him I see… A similar presence, perchance. A light. Very well. I will bow to my brother’s judgment.
Genbu: Wonderful! Then without further ado, I shall bid my comrade relax and surrender to the aramitama ─
Tataru: Wh-What!? Here? Now!? Won’t he go on a murderous rampage!?
Genbu: Why yes, that’s rather the point. He will be reduced to the feral beast. And then it will be…Auric, was it? Auric’s turn to do battle with my brother and help him quell the fury within!
Soroban: But if all it takes to quell the aramitama is battle, then why did you not do the same for Koryu? Why seal him away?
Genbu: Because it was too late. As I said, Koryu was wholly consumed by the aramitama. Naught remained of the nigimitama. All that he was…was forever lost to us.
Byakko: The effort I expend to hold back the fury I will instead use to safeguard the calm. It is then you must act. But know that if you fail, it will only hasten my fall. My soul is in your keeping, Auric. Do you understand? Then let us quit this place. Genbu may not mind the chaos, but if I am to wager my everything, I prefer to do so in the land of my birth. To look on those familiar wilds with eyes that may soon belong to another…
Genbu: When you return to the island, look for Furi. He will guide you back here.
Soroban: Given the circumstances, perhaps it is best that we stay here. Would that be acceptable?
Genbu: Ohoho! Soroban, was it? Be at ease. I have a task for you and your excitable urchin. Follow me!
Tataru: …Did that tiny talking turtle just insult me?
Byakko: …We are here. My earliest memories are not pleasant. From birth I was shunned by man and beast alike, for my snow white fur marked me a harbinger of doom. Cast out and hunted, I struggled to survive. But I endured. I grew older and wiser, and one day, I resolved to protect this place and those that call it home, for in spite of everything, it was mine as well. In time they came to see me as a guardian instead of a demon. And yet, for all I have done to rise above the beast within, I may fall to madness and become the sum of their fears…
[“Have faith. You will not fall.”]
Byakko: Such confidence from one so young! But as age in of itself does not confer wisdom, nor does youth go hand in hand with hubris. I warn you: for centuries has my aramitama grown and festered. Hold nothing back, for I will not. Warrior! The time has come for you and yours to make ready. May the kami grant you strength to save my soul!
[FIGHT! With the enraged, monstrous Byakko]
Byakko: You are indeed the warrior they say. Not unlike him, in many respects… ‘Twas in another era that we first met, him and I. Long, long before the kingdom of Doma… I told you before of my past ─ of how I was shunned by man and beast alike for the snow white fur that marked me as a harbinger of doom. Bereft of family and friendship, of home, I wandered the mountains in search of a place to call my own. There I would accept my fate and await the inevitable. But death did not come, for I was unlike my brothers in more respects than my fur. With every century I grew stronger and stranger. Monstrous. In turn, what few creatures dared traverse my domain withdrew further and further. Never had I been so alone…
Byakko: And then one day I awoke to find a man standing before me. Bewildered, I rose and bared my fangs as I roared in rage. “Begone, or I shall rend you asunder and feast on your flesh! What fool has the temerity to approach me thus!?“
Byakko: But the man did not flee. Rather, he stood his ground and said, “This fool is named Tenzen, and ever since he was a child he spoke the language of beasts.”
Byakko: “Then you know full well what you stand to lose. Return to your people or die!“
Byakko: But Tenzen threw back his head and laughed! “They would kill me if I dared! For fear of my talents, I was banished! A harbinger of doom, they called me!”
Byakko: In that instant, all my anger drained away. Tenzen’s words had struck at the heart of me. Here was a fellow outcast, cursed by his kin for his very nature. That night, as I listened to his snoring, I realized I had found in this man a kindred spirit… Soon after we embarked on a journey together.
Byakko: In the days that followed we met other solitary souls and aided them as we had aided each other… …But those are tales for another time. I doubt very much you are willing to stand here in silence while I recount my every adventure with Tenzen. Come, let us return to the temple. Genbu is doubtless eager to learn the outcome of our battle.
[Back at the Temple]
Genbu: Well done, Auric, well done! You have done my friend a great kindness ─ one we shall not soon forget.
[Soroban is doing a ritual prayer and Tataru is yelling at him for some reason.]
[“I’m not sure what’s going on and I’m afraid to ask….”]
Genbu: Ohoho, you needn’t be so concerned. You know well the power of the Kojin’s incantations, yes? I have but asked Soroban to undergo a little training that he might assist us with the maintenance of the wards. He has demonstrated a remarkable aptitude thus far, in fact!
Soroban: <huff> <puff> How…how much longer must I continue…?
Tataru: Concentrate! Less chatting more chanting!
Genbu: What youthful energy! It has been far too long since we had the pleasure of such company. Not since Tenzen, I imagine.
Tataru: I’ve been meaning to ask. What sort of man was Tenzen? We only just learned the stories, and you’ve already said they were half wrong.
Genbu: Curious, are you? Very good, very good. Far too many people have no interest in the past… What to say, what to say… Well, for one, Tenzen was blessed with the selfsame power Auric possesses ─ the Echo, I believe it is sometimes called? Alas, as you probably know from personal experience, such individuals are often regarded with suspicion, if not outright fear. Nevertheless, Tenzen was a generous soul who was ever eager to aid his fellow man. Indeed, he died as he lived ─ fighting for the sake of those he loved. You see, when he faced Koryu, we Four Lords were still quite young and weak ─ not even auspices, in truth ─ and we could but look on helplessly as the two dragged one another to the brink of death. With the last of his strength, Tenzen imprisoned the mortally wounded Koryu. He then bequeathed to us a sacred treasure: a crystal which shone with an otherworldly light.
Byakko: Oft have I wondered if this crystal was the source of the powers we would grow to possess. Would we have become the Four Lords without it? In my heart, I think not. We built this temple to strengthen the wards and safeguard the Ruby Sea in Tenzen’s stead. His legacy would be ours, and so it has been to this day.
Genbu: And so it will continue to be ─ but only if we can rely upon you to quell the aramitama of our comrades! That can wait, though. Byakko needs his rest, and so do you, Auric.
Tataru: In that case, it’d probably be for the best if I went back to Kugane. There’s no telling what mischief that man’ll get up to in my absence…
Soroban: I too should take my leave. Doubtless I am needed in Tamamizu…
Genbu: Ohoho, you’re not going anywhere! Your training is far from finished, my friend!
Soroban: But…But I…can’t possibly refuse the request of the Four Lords, can I… <sigh> I hate to impose upon you, Auric, but perhaps you can go to Tamamizu in my stead? It may be some time before I am permitted to return home…
[Back in Tamamizu]
Bunchin: …Hmm? So Soroban will be staying with Genbu for a time? How wonderful to hear! I have no doubt he will make the most of his most blessed opportunity. Oh, I have another missive for you. ‘Twas delivered personally by an unusual cat ─ an auspice, I presume?
Genbu’s Missive: You are welcome to come and go from the temple as you like. Furi will remain at his post above ground. You need only seek him out.
Bunchin: I should be glad if you take him up on his invitation and look in on Soroban every now and then. After all, he is in essence our representative there!
[Returning to the main quest line]
Quest: Elation and Trepidation
[Back in Isari, site of many of Yotsuyu’s crimes]
[Yugiri, Alisaie, Alphinaud, Gosetsu, and Yotsuyu are present]
Yugiri: I will send word requesting that he receive us at the House of the Fierce, where there are fewer prying eyes. If all are in agreement, I shall scout ahead and see that the way is clear. Pray follow as swiftly as you are able, and join me on the outskirts of Namai.
[In Yanxia, Near Namai]
Yugiri: All is well? Good. The others are hiding nearby. Let us proceed ─ quietly, if you please.
[In the House of the Fierce]
Gosetsu: My lord Hien. I am returned.
Hien: Save your tears for the morrow. For we who yet walk the path should not think too much on the destination. When the hour arrives, we shall welcome what comes with open arms. And welcome it you did, even as the keep fell down around us. At that moment, in your smile, I spied a shred of hope. One which I have clung to ever since. Gosetsu. Full glad am I to see you alive and well.
Gosetsu: We have played this scene before, have we not? Though this time our roles are reversed.
Hien: That they are. Meaning you know how I feel. Wholly at a loss for words. Welcome back, old friend! Now then, though we rejoice at your return, it seems you have brought with you certain…complications. Rise, my friend. Tell me everything.
[Gosetus brings Hien up to date.]
Hien: The Empire is bold indeed to send a token force to engage the Confederacy.
Yugiri: As acting viceroy, Yotsuyu would have been privy to imperial secrets. The Garleans will not soon give up the chase.
Hien: Nay. It will end with her capture…or her death.
[Hien looks at Yotsuyu]
Yotsuyu: Are you a friend too?
Gosetsu: She claims to have lost her memory, though I know not if she speaks true. I brought her here that you might decide her fate.
Hien: Lost her memory, you say… Regardless, the people have not forgotten. Her face yet haunts their dreams. She cannot roam free. We will hold her here for a time. Place her in Jifuya’s care, with the express instruction that she is not to be seen.
Yugiri: Yes, my lord.
[Yugiri beckons to Yotsuyu]
[Yotsuyu is frightened]
Yotsuyu: N-No, I don’t want to. Don’t let her take me away!
Gosetsu: It’s all right, Tsuyu. I will come with you. Be a good girl and listen to Yugiri.
[The three of them walk away together. Hien is perplexed.]
Hien: From a hound at his throat to a puppy at his heel… If this is an act, it is a remarkable performance.
[Hien approaches Alphinaud.]
Hien: Thank you for delivering Gosetsu back to us in one piece. We are lucky indeed to have friends who would journey to the other side of the world to help us ─ and repeatedly, at that. We have much and more to think upon, but as regards the Empire, we can but watch and wait. Now then, seeing as you’ve come all this way, you must allow me to show you around the enclave. I would not have you thinking we’ve been idle in your absence. The rebuilding effort proceeds apace, I’m pleased to say, and we are now ready to welcome home our countrymen who were displaced by the war. Should they so desire it, there is a place here for those who fled to Eorzea.
Alphinaud: We should be delighted to accept your invitation, Lord Hien. And I have no doubt that your subjects at Revenant’s Toll will be heartened to hear that their lord has not forgotten them.
[Alisaie appears distracted.]
Alisaie: …Hm? Oh, it’s nothing. I just thought that Gosetsu and Yugiri would be back by now.
[Right on cue, Gosetsu and Yugiri reappear.]
Yugiri: Forgive me, my lord, but Captain Jifuya is nowhere to be found.
Hien: Oh? He was here when I arrived.
Gosetsu: For now, we have taken Yotsuyu to a private chamber and assigned another to watch over her, my lord. But I find it passing strange that the captain should leave his post with nary a word.
Alphinaud: That does seem most unusual. If you mean to look for the man, we would be happy to assist you.
Yugiri: We should be glad of the help. While I search without, mayhap you could ask our soldiers here if they know anything.
Hien: I will join you.
Yugiri: With respect, my lord, you should remain here. Should the Empire move against us, you will be better able to coordinate our response.
Hien: Hah! And there I was thinking I was in charge… But you have the right of it. Go on, then. I will mind the House.
[Time to talk to people who might have seen the missing Captain Jifuya]
Haname: You seek the captain? He passed by a little while ago. I, uh… I wondered if I should tell someone, as it happens. He did not look well, you see. I asked if aught was the matter and he told me the past had caught up with him. But I doubt it was that. There are older men in our ranks.
Kaidate: Captain Jifuya? He was headed for the northern entrance when I saw him last. I was going to invite him to train with us, but he did not hear me call out to him. If you need him, I daresay the sentry on duty will be able to tell you more. Indeed, I suggested as much to Mistress Alisaie when she came asking earlier. Is something amiss?
[Alisaie is at the front of the cave talking to the sentry]
Alisaie: I see the trail led you here as well. This man says he saw Jifuya leave.
Liberation Front Sentry: Aye, the captain went outside some few bells ago ─ and looking quite unwell, I am sorry to say. This I mentioned to Lord Gosetsu, who straightways struck out after him. I hope they will be all right…
Alisaie: Gosetsu too? It seems everyone is bent on joining the search. That’s all well and good, but someone has to stay behind. There’s no telling what the Empire is plotting. You go on, Auric. Alphinaud and I shall hold the fort.
[The missing Jifuya is cowering outside one of the gates, looking terrified.]
Jifuya: By the kami! You’re Lord Hien’s ─ L-Leave me! Leave me, I beg of you! Say nothing of this! I was never here!
Yugiri: There you are.
Jifuya: Lady Yugiri. Lord Gosetsu. Forgive me my abrupt disappearance.
Gosetsu: You have your reasons, I am sure. Will you not share them?
Jifuya: I was…I was her master. When she was yet a courtesan.
Gosetsu: By the kami…
Jifuya: She…worked in my establishment. Her father was a regular client of mine. One day, quite without preamble, he offered to sell her to me. “She may be no maiden,” he said, “but she has some use left in her.”
Jifuya: He sold her short. When first I beheld her, I was struck by her beauty. And yet, behind her eyes, there was…an emptiness. ‘Twas as if she had given up on life. She seemed more a doll than a woman.
Jifuya: It was no profession for her, but I knew she would be popular. And so it proved. Men flocked to drown themselves in that cold, bottomless gaze. The rest you know. She became an imperial informant, and for her loyal service won the office of acting viceroy.
Gosetsu: …While you came to serve the Liberation Front.
Jifuya: ‘Tis said that the atrocities Yotsuyu committed were driven by vengeance. If so, I bear part of the blame for creating the monster she became. Joining the Front was meant to be my atonement. But the truth is… The truth is, I am a coward whose only thought was to escape her wrath. Then as now.
Gosetsu: …I see. Then I shall recommend that you be assigned to a new post. I trust you have no objections, Yugiri?
Yugiri: None. It would not do to leave Yotsuyu in his care.
Jifuya: I am in your debt.
Yugiri: Who is it that you seek to protect, Gosetsu?
[The Warrior of Light gives her a questioning look.]
Yugiri: Idle musings. Pray pay me no mind. Forgive me, now is not the time for brooding. Come, let us rejoin the others.
[Back in the House of the Fierce]
Hien: I thank you for your help in the search. Gosetsu has told me all that transpired. I would not presume to defend the life Jifuya led before he joined the Front. Nor will I condemn it. Frankly, it is not my place to judge. I will only say this: the Jifuya I know has ever been a man of courage. That he should feel driven to flee bespeaks the depth of his terror. Even now, Yotsuyu casts a shadow over the realm… But the question of what is to be done with her must wait. The Empire is on the move once more.
Quest: Storm on the Horizon
Hien: While you were out searching for Jifuya, we received word from our shinobi allies: an imperial airship has been sighted over Doman soil. Our visitors’ objective remains unclear. It may be another attempt to recover Yotsuyu…or a prelude to invasion. Either way, the craft reportedly advances at speed, and appears bound for Castrum Fluminis. I mean to go there and ascertain their intent. If we ride out in force, it will only end one way, so we shall keep our numbers to a minimum. Yugiri, Auric ─ can I count on you?
Yugiri: Yes, my lord.
Alphinaud: Alisaie and I would fain play our part as well. We will not stand idly by while a common foe threatens the lands of our friends and allies.
Hien: We would be glad of the help. You are acquainted with Hakuro, I believe? Then I bid you seek him out and assist in maintaining order in the enclave. When the people see an imperial airship, they are liable to panic. I would have you reassure them, and, should it come to it, aid in their evacuation.
Alphinaud: Very well. We shall depart at once. Do take care.
Gosetsu: What of me, my lord?
Hien: The Empire may well be after Yotsuyu. You are to remain here and guard her until my return.
Gosetsu: …As you wish. Pray stay close to Auric and Yugiri.
Hien: Well, well… Guard duty and not a breath of protest. Now I have seen it all. To Castrum Fluminis, then. Let us find out what the Empire’s game is.
[In southern Yanxia, at Castrum Fluminis. Hien and Yugiri are waiting on top of a small hill.]
Hien: The area is secure. Whatever our visitors’ purpose, they plainly believe they can achieve it alone. The craft should come into view at any moment. Let us await them inside the castrum.
[Inside the Castrum. The Imperial airship can be seen approaching through the clouds, but there is a thick plume of smoke rising from its midsection.]
Hien: A smoke signal…? Thoughts, Yugiri?
Yugiri: In former times, such signals were used to announce the coming of an emissary of peace ─ in Doma, at least. But could that truly be their intent?
Hien: Who can say? Whatever they want, we cannot simply blast them out of the sky ─ not when they were so gracious as to honor one of our cherished traditions. I would not have it said that we Domans want for propriety.
Yugiri: Then I shall go and reconnoiter.
Hien: Nay, that won’t be necessary. We will meet them openly. I would welcome this student of Doman history in person, whomsoever he or she may be…
Yugiri: As you wish, my lord. I shall arrange for a signal of our own to be fired in answer.
[An imperial shuttle lands and three Imperials emerge. The one in the center, who seems to be the leader, is wearing white armor trimmed in red and gold. His outfit seems to match that of the individual last seen clenching a fist in the Imperial HQ. He is very young-looking, with dark eyes and straight black hair.]
Asahi: Well! That we should be received by the lord of Doma himself!
Hien: I but afford an emissary of peace the courtesy he is due. Welcome to Doma, my lord…?
Asahi: Ah, where are my manners? I am Asahi sas Brutus, ambassador plenipotentiary of Garlemald.
Yugiri: He is heir to the Naeuri clan…and Yotsuyu’s stepbrother.
Asahi: It seems I need not introduce myself ─ not in the presence of the famed Yugiri Mistwalker. Your skills as a shinobi are known far and wide, my lady. It is true ─ the former acting viceroy is my sister. Yet, bonds of kinship aside, we have precious little in common. As will soon become plain, I come not to sow strife, but to end it. I am of the Populares, a collective which represents the interests of the common man. Long have we labored to bring about reform to the Empire’s provincial policy. Happily for us, our master acknowledges the need for change. Indeed, His Radiance, Emperor Varis zos Galvus personally sanctioned this mission, granting me the authority to speak with his voice. To negotiate peace with Doma.
[Hien is wary.]
Hien: Well then, we have much to discuss. Will you accompany me to my hall?
Asahi: Gladly, my lord!
Hien: We shall escort our guests across the river to the enclave. Yugiri, pray go on ahead to the Yuzuka Manor docks and see that the ferries are ready.
[At the docks]
Yugiri: Lord Hien and I will accompany the imperial delegation on the first ferry. When you are ready, speak with the boatman and join us on the other side.
[In the Doman Enclave. The Enclave is looking much restored since we last visited.]
Hien: There you are, Auric. So, first things first: what do you think of the enclave? I must say, I’m quite proud of what my countrymen have accomplished in the time. We even have an aetheryte now, courtesy of the Onishishu. Be sure and attune to it, would you? Once it has the Warrior of Light’s seal of approval, people might actually start using the thing. But on to the matter at hand: the ambassador and his retinue are at my hall, taking their ease ahead of the negotiations. I want you there when the talking starts. It will serve to send a message to the Empire that Eorzea and Doma stand united. I am not normally one for hollow posturing, but in this game of nations, such gestures carry weight. Oh, and should you feel uneasy about speaking for the Scions, Alphinaud and Alisaie will also be there. You need only eat, drink, and look imposing. Say you’ll come.
[“I’ll be there.”]
Hien: I knew I could count on you. When you are ready, come and join me at my humble abode, the Kienkan. The guardsman will see you in.
[At the Kienkan]
Kienkan Guardsman: Lord Hien is expecting you. May I show you in?
[Inside, Lord Hien is seated with Alisaie, Alphinaud, and several of the other leaders of Doma, with Asahi and his guards.]
Asahi: On behalf of my delegation, I offer you my humblest thanks. Never did I imagine that I would meet the gallant and noble lord of Doma himself, nor be welcomed into his magnificent hall.
Hien: You’ll forgive me if we forgo the pleasantries. You say you are come to negotiate peace.
Asahi: His Radiance has yet to do so, that much is true. Know, however, that he has expressed willingness to cede Doma to her ancestral masters and treat with her as a friend.
[Hien and Yugiri exchange looks.]
Asahi: Since the days of Emperor Solus, the Empire has aggressively expanded its territory. While you may not agree with our founding father’s policy of expansion, I believe there is room for discussion on the matter of his lifelong goal ─ to rid the world of eikons. Eikons are a blight upon this star. They cannot be suffered to exist. This you know as well as we. In his wisdom, Emperor Varis wishes to explore the possibility of an alliance to combat this common threat. On the condition that Doma renounces summoning and pledges to police the Kojin’s practice of it, His Radiance would extend the hand of friendship.
Hien: Doma has never shown any appetite for summoning. And it should go without saying that we will address any threat to our people, eikon or otherwise.
Hien: With regard to the Kojin, I must stress that they only resorted to summoning under extreme provocation. When the Ruby Sea was at peace, and their sacred relics safe, they looked not to their kami for protection. Yet even now there are certain parties who would destabilize the region with ill-conceived military forays. Unless they alter their course, we cannot hope to be rid of eikons.
Asahi: …Quite. I can but apologize. In seeking to eliminate eikons, the Empire creates them. ‘Tis an irony among ironies. One with which the people of Eorzea are well-acquainted, I am told.
Alphinaud: Indeed, many summonings are the result of persecution, the weak being driven to call upon the divine for deliverance from the strong. So it was in Ala Mhigo ─ the bitter fruit of Garlean oppression.
Asahi: A tragic state of affairs. If we are to put an end to summoning once and for all, it shall not be through might, but harmony. Yet we continue to repeat our mistakes, oblivious to the lessons of history. My comrades and I would change all that. We Populares have campaigned long and hard for a shift in imperial policy, and at last the Emperor has seen fit to lend us an ear. Alas, there is a faction within Garlemald that would obstruct our every attempt at reform. A collection of pure-blooded Garleans who seek to consolidate their own supremacy: the Optimates. Lest you wonder, theirs was the hand that loosed our forces on the Confederacy. ‘Twas a regrettable incident, one that flies in the face of everything we believe, and I swear to do all in my power to prevent a reoccurrence.
Hien: That would be most welcome. But if I may speak plain ─ if the Empire itself is not of one mind, how can we be certain that any peace we negotiate will be honored?
Asahi: I cannot blame you for doubting us. Indeed, I should find it strange if you did not. And so, in the name of building trust, I would like to make a proposal: a prisoner exchange.
Asahi: Under Garlean rule, no few Domans were conscripted into the imperial army. We would repatriate them in return for those of ours you captured in the recent conflict. Naturally, any exchange would include the acting viceroy.
Hien: Yotsuyu? What makes you think we have her?
Asahi: Forgive me, my lord. Was it not your wish to speak plain? Let us not play games. I desire only to work to our mutual benefit. The Optimates tried ─ and failed ─ to take my sister by force. I would succeed by peaceable means, thereby strengthening my party’s hand. ‘Twould be a lie to say I would not also be glad of my sister’s safe return.
Hien: A fellow plain-speaker. How refreshing. Very well. Your proposal has merit, but I will need time to consider it.
Asahi: Of course, my lord. May we remain in Doma until you have come to a decision?
Hien: You shall be our honored guests. Yugiri, I leave the ambassador and his retinue in your care. See that they are well looked after.
Asahi: You have our gratitude, Lord Hien. We shall look forward to your answer.
[Yugiri leads Asahi and his guards out of the room.]
Hien: Well, that was…unexpected.
Alisaie: You can say that again. I still don’t know quite what to make of it all. But on the surface, a prisoner exchange does seem a good way to begin. The question is, can they be trusted?
Hien: Hm. They had naught to gain by divulging the details of their internal divisions. As it stands, we have no reason to doubt them. But the ambassador’s mention of Yotsuyu left me ill at ease. It made his grand talk of peace seem uncannily like a lengthy preamble.
Alphinaud: You think this might all be a ruse to facilitate her retrieval?
Hien: Perhaps. Though I cannot fathom why they would go to such lengths. Yotsuyu may have been the acting viceroy, but she is not Garlean, nor even highborn. Her value must presumably lie in what she knows… …Which brings us to the little matter of her memory loss. In her present condition, she would not yield any worthwhile intelligence. Nor is she worth much as a bargaining piece. Alphinaud, you are well acquainted with the Empire’s methods. I would have your thoughts on this matter.
Alphinaud: My knowledge is at your disposal, Lord Hien. While the ambassador’s proposal is appealing in principle, it would be remiss of us not to give it due scrutiny.
Hien: Indeed. Though it seems to me I have little choice but to accept regardless. With so many of our brothers and sisters languishing in imperial camps, I cannot well turn my back on a chance to secure their repatriation. Only the kami know when I will be afforded another. …But ere we continue, shall we excuse these two? I fear what follows will bore them to tears.
Alisaie: I was just about show myself out as it happens. Come on, Auric ─ let’s leave Alphinaud to dispense his copious knowledge.
[Alphinaud shakes his head as his sister leaves the room.]
Alphinaud: Someone is still sore from being made to watch at Sakazuki… Go on and keep Alisaie company. We are safe enough for now.
[Outside Hien’s residence]
Alisaie: <sigh> A chance to relax at last. I know when I’m out of my depth, Auric. Though no weapons are drawn, a negotiation is no less a battle, and the stakes can be every bit as high. One misplaced word and people could die. It takes someone with a cool head, and I’ll be the first to admit that’s not me. So we’re left with the eternal question…What to do while they prattle on?
Quest: His Forgotten Home
Alisaie: All right, for want of a better suggestion, what say you to a brief tour of the newly liberated Doma? I’d be interested to hear how the people are faring in their own words, and it’s not as if we’ll be missed here. …Or will we?
[Asahi and Yugiri walk up. Asahi has acquired a rather large katana sheathed at his side.]
Yugiri: Auric. A moment, if you would.
Alisaie: Ah, Yugiri. And…Asahi, was it? You have some business with Auric?
Asahi: Business? No. Pleasure, my lady. I merely wished to exchange a few words with the famed slayer of gods and champion of Eorzea. It is truly an honor.
Alisaie: Such heartfelt admiration. One could almost forget that you’re an envoy of the Empire.
Asahi: Oh? Is that so strange? We may have stood on opposing sides in the past, but I see no contradiction in lauding the man who would do battle with our common enemy. And lest you forget, this is my homeland. It would be remiss of me not to at least thank him for containing the threat posed by the Kojin’s vile eikon. Now, if I may continue ─ as we speak, Lord Hien deliberates over my proposal, and I would take this time to see the land I once called home. Though Lady Yugiri is certain to be a jovial escort, the excursion would be all the more enjoyable for your company ─ and safer besides.
Yugiri: …The ambassador has the right of it. He is not like to come to harm with you at his side. Will you join us?
[“It would be my pleasure.”]
Alisaie: In that case, I will join you as well. There is naught else to do until Lord Hien has reached his decision, and I can think of no finer way to learn more about the current state of Doma.
Asahi: It’s settled, then. The four of us shall make a brief excursion through Yanxia. Might we start at the town of Monzen? I would see what has become of Doma Castle.
Yugiri: Very well. If you will follow me.
Asahi: Nay… Can this truly be Monzen, home to the cream of Doma’s samurai? I had heard that Yotsuyu intended to send some few of our automatons here, but only by way of warning. It should not have come to this… Indeed, her savagery served only to incense the people and spur them to rise up in protest. It was folly to think such methods of governance could ever prove effective. <sigh> The sooner we can begin to make amends for this senseless destruction the better. Securing supplies and support for the reconstruction effort should not prove difficult ─ once our nations are formally at peace, of course.
Yugiri: …Yes, of course. If you would have a better view of what remains of the castle, we must proceed through the ruins.
[At the bridge to Doma Castle.]
Asahi: It is a travesty. A travesty. I remember the keep being so beautiful. In the light of the setting sun, one would swear it was aflame…
Yugiri: It is indeed a doleful spectacle. Mayhap we will rebuild it one day…when we have finished helping our people to rebuild their lives.
Asahi: Spoken like a true Popularis. The needs of the people must of course come first. Speaking of whom, would you be opposed to my seeing how they live firsthand? The village of Namai is but a short journey from here, if I’m not mistaken.
Yugiri: By river, yes. If you will follow me, I will ready our boat.
[At the riverside]
[SOLO DUTY BEGINS]
Asahi: Ready to cast off?
[At the boat docks at Namai. There’s a shout.]
???: Get back! I’m warning you!
Asahi: Someone’s in trouble!
[Asahi runs off in the direction of the shout. The rest of the group follow him. Near Namai, Isse and his younger sister Azami are surrounded by a group of Red Kojin. Asahi runs in between the Kojin and the Doman children and draws his katana.]
Asahi: Are you all right?
Yugiri: What do they want with you?
Isse: Yugiri!? And you lot, too!? I ─ I don’t know. We were returning from the enclave when they came at us.
Alisaie: It seems they won’t go quietly.
Asahi: And neither will we.
Slickshell Captain: Kill them all!
Asahi sas Brutus: I will not let you harm these innocents!
Slickshell Captain: I grow tired of these games. Where are our reinforcements!?
Alisaie: All this for two children? What do they even want with them!?
Asahi sas Brutus: They mean to overwhelm us. See to their reinforcements. Quickly!
Slickshell Captain: Now! Aim for the younglings!
Asahi sas Brutus: Stand in front of them! We’ll bear the brunt of it!
Yugiri Mistwalker: If they would call for reinforcements, then so shall we! Quickly! Protect the children!
Asahi sas Brutus: Hold your ground! I will try to draw away their reinforcements.
[FIGHTY FIGHT FIGHT! Despite the Red Kojin calling in reinforcements several times, they are eventually all defeated.]
Asahi: That seems to be the last of them.
[Asahi adresses Azami]
Asahi: You have nothing to fear, child. You are safe now.
Azami: Thank you, sir…
Isse: You saved us again. Thank you. If you’re ever passing by our village, look us up. You’ll always be welcome.
Asahi: Thank goodness we arrived when we did.
Alisaie: Indeed. But what could have prompted the Red Kojin to stray so far from the Ruby Sea?
Asahi: I presume these are the sellswords hired by Yotsuyu? If so, the answer is simple: desperation. Bereft of imperial employment, they seek other means to line their coinpurses. Another sad legacy of the Empire’s mismanagement.
Yugiri: The Empire to which you have sworn allegiance.
Asahi: Must you always be so pointed? If we are to bring about lasting change, we must look beyond narrow allegiances. You have every right to doubt me, but in time I hope you will come to see that we share a common goal. You and yours have fought fiercely to change the Empire from without, but if we are to end the cycle of conflict, the Empire must change from within. Am I wrong?
[“Not about that. True reform can only come from within.”]
Asahi: I knew you would understand. You have witnessed such change firsthand, after all, during your time in Ishgard. Dear me… I had hoped to convey my views on our nations’ shared hopes under more peaceable circumstances. Yet this regrettable little interlude did afford me a chance to see the famed hero of Eorzea in action, and few imperial soldiers can say that. At least, few who lived to tell the tale.
Quest: A Guilty Conscience
Asahi: Well, after that little ordeal, I believe it may be time for us to return to the enclave.
Alisaie: Return, my lord? But what of Namai? You seemed so eager to observe the villagers going about their daily lives.
Asahi: To be frank, I still am. But I rather doubt the good people of Namai would take kindly to the sight of a man in imperial uniform with blood still dripping from his blade. Even in your company, my presence would only prove a distraction. Fret not, however. Thanks to the three of you, I have seen a great deal more than I otherwise would. And with any luck, Lord Hien will have finished considering my proposal by the time we return.
[Back in the Doman Enclave]
Yugiri: Thank you again for agreeing to join me. If not for your aid, the Kojin may well have overwhelmed us. Pray go on ahead. Lord Hien is expecting you. I will remain without and keep watch over our guest.
Alisaie: Well, we had best not keep him waiting.
[In Hien’s hall]
Hien: Welcome back, my friend. Yugiri tells me you accompanied her and Asahi on a tour of Yanxia. I had hoped you might take the opportunity to recover from your exertions at Sakazuki… But I gather your time was well spent. Until the ambassador affords Yugiri a chance to make a full report, however, I must rely on you to supply the details. So please ─ tell us how it all unfolded.
Alphinaud: The Red Kojin? Here? Have there been any other such incidents since the liberation?
Hien: Only one, that I am aware of. If they are planning some new venture here in Yanxia, we will need to increase patrols. In any event, I am indebted to you for fighting them off. But tell me ─ and don’t be modest ─ was Asahi truly the first to leap to the youngsters’ aid?
Alisaie: He was. I was quick to doubt him when we first met, but his desire to save them seemed quite genuine. It’s possible he truly believes what he’s saying.
Hien: In the time I’ve known you, you have always been an excellent judge of character. What do you make of the ambassador?
[“I still don’t think he can be trusted.”]
Hien: Then the question of what his true intention may be remains. Regardless of his aim, I am resigned to playing his game. For now, at least.
Alisaie: Well, forswearing summoning should be simple enough, considering you never dabbled in it in the first place ─ which just leaves the somewhat thornier question of how to police the Red Kojin.
Hien: It was with that very question in mind that I sought Alphinaud’s counsel. Thanks to his knowledge of the eikons and the rituals used to invoke them, I believe we’ve identified a workable solution.
Alphinaud: As you will recall, Susano was summoned forth using the power of relics locked away in the Kojin’s treasure vault on the Isle of Zekki. Though said relics remain there to this day, it is all but certain that the act of summoning exhausted their stores of aether making subsequent summonings impossible. Assuming that is the case, preventing the primal’s return rests on denying the Red Kojin the means to amass new stores of aether, either via the acquisition of crystals or the relics they are wont to collect.
Hien: For this, I plan to enlist the aid of our friends the Blue Kojin. Since Doma’s liberation, we have forged closer bonds with Bunchin and his people, and with their support, I am quite confident we can keep the Red from obtaining what they require to call upon this Susano.
Alisaie: And what of the prisoners?
Hien: They will be exchanged as agreed, and I will give full credit to Asahi for the success of the transaction. If there is aught we can do to help the Populares garner favor, I mean to see it done. But first, I have some unfinished business to attend to. Would you all come with me?
Alisaie: Yes, of course, but…what manner of business?
Hien: A past mistake which I would see put right. One which has weighed heavy on my mind…
[The group walks down the hall to where Gosetsu and Yotsuyu are being housed.]
Hien: I had her brought here in secret while the three of you kept our guest company.
[Hien draws his katana and levels it at Yotsuyu, who is sitting on a mat eating sweets.]
Hien: Yet here you are, the living, breathing proof of my failure. A failure for which I would now make amends.
Yotsuyu: What did I do? I don’t remember. Was it really so terrible? Tell me, please! What did I do!?
Gosetsu: You speak of sins, my lord, but at whose feet do those sins lie? With the soldiers who committed the crimes, or those who commanded them to do so? With both, I would say, for all have a conscience, and all must choose. But with no memory of who she is or what she has done, what sin remains to be cleansed?
Hien: You ask that I show mercy?
Gosetsu: I ask why the heavens saw fit to deny me my rest. Why Yotsuyu was spared not only death but the bitter memories of her life.
Hien: You truly think it the will of the kami…
[Hien sheathes his katana.]
Hien: If so, her life is not mine to take. It is yours to safeguard. Come the hour of the exchange, if her memories have not returned, she may remain here in Doma to live out her days as Tsuyu. But if they do, the Garleans shall have their viceroy. Though the people will protest, they will come to accept my decision when they have been reunited with their loved ones.
Gosetsu: Thank you, my lord.
Hien: Now, then. I believe we have kept our guest waiting long enough.
[The group heads out to return to the meeting hall, but Hien holds back. He turns to the Warrior of Light.]
Hien: Did Gosetsu not seem strange to you? His sympathy for Yotsuyu apart, I mean. I know his powers of endurance only too well, but after all he has suffered, even he should not be on his feet. He puts on a brave face for our sakes, but it would not surprise me if he lacked the strength to raise his blade. …Though I suppose if he and Yotsuyu are to enjoy a life of peace and quiet, he will have little use for it. It falls to us to shape that future. One in which he need never again set foot on the battlefield.
Quest: Rise of a New Sun
[In the meeting hall, Asahi and his guards arrive and take their seats.]
Hien: My apologies. Our deliberations took longer than expected.
Asahi: Think nothing of it. The time afforded me the opportunity to go on a rather rousing excursion through Yanxia. You have reached a decision, then?
Hien: We are willing to cooperate with you in combating the eikon threat, and also in the exchange of prisoners. Assuming you accept our conditions, of course. As you know, your sister is in our care. Due to certain complications, however, we are hesitant to release her into your custody.
Hien: She was inside Doma Castle when it collapsed. Though she survived, she remembers nothing of her past life ─ not even her name. To clarify, she is in our care not as a prisoner, but as a vulnerable citizen of Doma.
Asahi: Are you saying you refuse to release her?
Hien: Not at all. If her memory returns before the appointed hour.
Asahi: And if not, what exactly…? You will accommodate her here in Doma?
Hien: Well, I sincerely doubt she will be of any great strategic value to the Empire. She spends her days daydreaming of dango.
Asahi: Dango…? …How dreadful.
[Asahi seems genuinely upset by this news.]
Asahi: Very well. In light of our recent…misstep in Sakazuki, it seems only fair that I show you the same understanding you have shown us. …Though I do have one, small request. Regardless of Yotsuyu’s value to the Empire, she is yet my sister. Before I leave, might you permit me to speak with her in private?
Hien: Of course. Perhaps you could even bring her a plate of dango. She would be most pleased. Yugiri will see you to her chambers.
[Asahi is shown to his sister’s room. The group waits outside.]
Gosetsu: Forgive me, my lord, but…has he not been gone overlong? Perhaps I should ─
Hien: Calm yourself, Gosetsu. I understand your concern, but we have to wait. He deserves that much.
Asahi: I am sorry to have kept you all waiting. Thank you for your understanding. Long did I dream of this reunion, but never did I imagine it would be so joyless. A part of me hoped your stories of her condition were just that. But alas, it is as you say.
Gosetsu: Tsuyu… Do you remember anything of this man? Anything at all?
Yotsuyu: I… No.
Asahi: I am a stranger to her. That much was clear to me from a single look. I leave her in your care.
Hien: As you wish.
Asahi: Now, if you will excuse me, my superiors are long overdue a report. They will be elated to hear of our agreement, of that I have no doubt. As for the exchange itself, once I have obtained the relevant permissions, I will arrange for your people to be relieved of their various duties, and sent here to Yanxia. This will take time, of course…
Hien: Of course. You may rest assured your soldiers will be well cared for until your return. We will also begin taking steps to better counter the threat of the Kojin and their eikon. Before you take your leave ─ there is one other matter… I am informed it was you who took the lead in rescuing two young Domans from a band of Kojin sellswords. I have not yet had the time to thank you properly.
Asahi: Please, there is no need to thank me. I only did what anyone would do under the circumstances. Fortunately, I was in good company at the time. The blight of the Red Kojin is of the Empire’s making. Were it not for our transgressions, those children would not have needed saving. The people of Doma have suffered enough, my lord. And I promise to do all in my power to spare them further pain, be it at the hands of the Kojin, or indeed the Empire.
Hien: I pray the Emperor will see things as you do. There may yet be hope for us all.
Asahi: Until we meet again.
[Asahi and his guards take their leave.]
Hien: Gosetsu. As before, I leave Yotsuyu to you. I invite the rest of you to join me outside. Let’s treat Asahi to a proper farewell.
[Outside Hien’s hall]
Hien: The ambassador’s airship awaits at Castrum Fluminis. Let us be off.
[At Castrum Fluminis]
Hien: I wish you a safe journey.
Asahi: This has been a most enjoyable visit. I look forward to our next meeting. Maxima, would you take the others and see that all is ready for our departure?
[Asahi’s guard Maxima nods and leaves with the other guard.]
Asahi: I simply cannot leave without first giving thanks to the Warrior of Light for accompanying me through Yanxia.
[Asahi draws the Warrior of Light aside. He first checks carefully to make sure Hien and Yugiri are not watching. Then suddenly, his face twists with rage.]
Asahi: Mark me, savior of the savages. There will be a reckoning.
[A younger Asahi and a companion are in Imperial uniforms are pinned down by a group of Doman soldiers.]
Liberation Front Samurai: You’ve nowhere left to run, traitor!
Asahi: Ignorant savages. Killing us will avail you naught. For every imperial you cut down, a thousand more will come. Abandon this foolish endeavor and surrender. You may yet serve our righteous cause.
[The Domans draw their katanas.]
Liberation Front Samurai: How dare you speak of righteousness! You who forsook kith and kin to serve conquerors! Be glad I grant you this mercy.
[The Doman leader moves to cut down Asahi, but he and his men are knocked aside by a rush of wind.]
Liberation Front Samurai: Reinforcements? …No ─ just one. Cut him down!
[It’s Zenos. He single-handedly kills the Doman soldiers, saving Asahi.]
Asahi: Thank you. Thank you, sir!
Zenos yae Galvus: This one is…promising. Who remains to offer us resistance?
Asahi: A…a host of rebels led by Lord Kaien hold the enclave across the river.
Zenos yae Galvus: Lord Kaien.
Asahi: The king of ─ th-the former king of Doma, sir. They say he is one of the greatest swordsmen alive.
Zenos yae Galvus: Is that what they say.
Asahi: Who…was that…?
Wounded Imperial: Surely you jest? That was Zenos yae Galvus, Legatus of the XIIth ─ the crown bloody prince! I’d heard he was strong, but that…that was frightening.
[The Echo flashback ends]
[In the present Asahi is still snarling furiously at the Warrior of Light.]
Asahi: Everything you are ─ your power, even your face ─ it vexes me.
[Suddenly Asahi’s expression returns to its usual smooth, pleasant, and utterly false demeanor.]
Asahi: Go on. Lash out like the beast you are. At an emissary. And jeopardize the newfound peace between Doma and the Empire.My lord was destined to lead us unto a glorious new age. Your light is nothing to his radiance. I will cherish this moment ─ lock it away within my heart ─ until the day we meet again.
[Asahi enters his shuttle and returns to his airship.]
Hien: You look troubled, my friend. Was it something he said?
[The Warrior of Light explains what just happened.]
Alisaie: Of all the memories to witness.
Yugiri: I had my doubts about him, but I would never have guessed he was a disciple of Zenos. My lord ─
Hien: Calm yourself, Yugiri. I set no store by him or his enlightened brethren. But if by treating with them there is even the faintest hope we might secure the return of our conscripted brothers and sisters, I must play this game. After the way I risked their lives in the rebellion, I owe them that much.
Yugiri: My lord, you bear no blame for their fate.
Hien: If not blame then responsibility. They were prisoners and still I chose to fight, knowing they could be executed in retaliation. But now we have a chance to bring them home. If it means bargaining with a monster, so be it.
Yugiri: My lord…
Hien: Besides, I think he likes me. Which is more than some can say.
[The Warrior of Light rolls his eyes.]
Alisaie: It makes no sense. Why would he bother keeping up the pretense for so long, only to drop it right before the very end?
Alphinaud: Perhaps he no longer thought it necessary, having secured Doma’s cooperation in the prisoner exchange.
Hien: If he truly is a disciple of Zenos, ’tis possible emotions simply got the better of him. Remaining calm around the man who slew his lord will have taken its toll. Whatever the explanation, now is not the time for hasty reprisals. We shall proceed as planned. The Red Kojin must be placed under surveillance and the Garlean prisoners made ready for the exchange…But you need not concern yourself with the details. Leave the affairs of Doma to us. When the hour of the exchange draws near, we will call for you.
Alphinaud: I should certainly hope so. Whatever the Empire’s true intent, we would be on hand to play our part, either to defend Doma, or to help usher in a lasting peace. I had thought we might use this time to return to Eorzea, but given the volatility of the situation, mayhap it would be best if we remained in Kugane.
Alisaie: Agreed. Between Yotsuyu’s amnesia and Asahi’s dubious agenda, I’d say we have ample reason to remain in the neighborhood. If anything should happen ─ anything at all ─ you must send for us at once.
Hien: Oh, I will. On that you have my word. Charting a path through this sea of troubles promises to be difficult enough. I am not so proud as to attempt the feat alone.
Alphinaud: To Kugane, then. Tataru and the others must know of what transpired here.
[Back in Kugane, at the Ruby Bazaar]
Hancock: …My. It seems you’re all in quite the predicament. Well, should we receive any urgent missives from Doma, rest assured you will be the first to know of it.
Tataru: Yes, of course. We’re pursuing a number of ventures to replenish our coffers, but I suppose that all can wait if any urgent news should come through the office.
Alphinaud: Ah… Ahem. About that… I wish to apologize, Tataru. It was reckless of me to make such a purchase without first consulting you. You may be certain, however, that I mean to reimburse the Scions, even if it means drawing upon my personal funds.
Tataru: That’s very thoughtful of you, but I’m sure it won’t come to that. If Soroban’s business proposition is as promising as it sounds, Auric should have no difficulty wiping the red from our ledger.
Alphinaud: Forgive me, Auric. It would seem I have unwittingly heaped my financial troubles upon you. I swear I will pay you back. Though I fear I will struggle to cobble together anything of monetary value, knowledge I can gather in abundance. To start, I plan to investigate the divisions forming within the Empire. Mayhap Riol and his associates have heard something on the subject… Regardless, the more we know about the politics of Garlemald, the better our chances of predicting the imperials’ next move, which might yield you an advantage on the day of the prisoner exchange. Knowing what we do of Asahi’s apparent resentment towards you, I cannot say what he hopes to gain from it. But if there is even the faintest chance that a lasting peace could be forged between Doma and the Empire, what choice have we but to try? Lord Hien had the right of it Asahi may very well be a monster, but we must play his game. For now.
[On Asahi’s airship]
Asahi: Arranging the prisoner exchange proved easier than I thought. Yes, my lord will be most pleased. Everything is going according to plan.
[In Hien’s hall in Doma, Yotsuyu stares into a silver mirror.]
[Flashback to Asahi’s visit.]
Asahi: Can you truly remember nothing? Nothing at all?
Yotsuyu: Were we…friends…?
Asahi: Yes. We were good friends, you and I. In fact, I’ve brought you a gift.
[Asahi gives Yotsuyu the silver mirror.]
Asahi: I pray that one day soon, as you gaze into that mirror, you will remember the woman staring back at you.
[Back to now]
[Yotsuyu stares into the mirror.]
Yotsuyu: It’s so pretty. Who are you…? Who are you…?
[In the Imperial capital, in a medical facility. A bearded doctor approaches a bed with a man seated on it, his back to the door.]
Imperial Medicus: How are you feeling, my lord?
???: Fine. Now leave me.
[The man on the bed, neck and arms bandaged, is Zenos.]
Go on to 4.3: Under the Moonlight