Note: I did these story quests on my main, Auric, who is a male Hyur Paladin and a First Lieutenant in the Immortal Flames. Some dialogue may be slightly different for your character.
Quest: Sisterly Act
[At the Rising Stones]
Alisaie: Oh, Auric. If you’ve come here hoping for news, I’m afraid there isn’t any. Everything is exactly as it was. Y’shtola is still investigating primals in the Far East, Thancred is still gathering intelligence in the imperial provinces, and Alphinaud is still…out there somewhere. There’s been no word since his first scheduled report, nor does he respond to calls. And all the while, I’m just meant to sit around here waiting. It’s driving me mad!
Alliance Herald: Begging your pardons! I bear a message from the Eorzean Alliance!
Alisaie: Thank the gods for that. We have a visitor. Welcome to the Rising Stones. If you have a message, I should be most eager to hear it.
Alliance Herald: My lady! The Alliance leadership will soon convene to discuss the matter of Ascian interference, and they humbly request the presence of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Having assessed intelligence provided by the Ala Mhigan Resistance concerning the whereabouts of Lord Zenos’s remains, they too suspect Ascian involvement, and wish to deliberate a suitable course of action. As the foremost authorities on our foe, your order’s counsel would be most welcome.
Alisaie: Of course, we should be glad to assist in whatever way we can.
Alisaie: With almost everyone else afield, I’d say this one falls to us. By which I mean, I’m not going on my own. You’ll come with me, I trust?
[“Of course I will.”] [ I’d rather not]
Alisaie: There you have it. We accept the invitation.
Alliance Herald: Thank you! The time and date of the meeting will be shared in due course, but I can confirm that the council will take place in Ala Mhigo. By your leave…
Alisaie: I somehow doubt we’ll have anything useful to offer, but standing mutely at a meeting would still be better than the nothing I’ve been doing of late. Let’s make ready to depart, shall we?
???: …Thancred!? What’s going on, man?
[Another Scion, Riol, is talking into his linkpearl.]
Riol: …All right! Just be careful on the road back, ye hear!
Alisaie: Did I hear right, Riol? Is Thancred coming back?
Riol: Aye, that he is. Says he’s acquired some important intelligence. Bein’ in Garlean territory, though, he couldn’t risk sharin’ the particulars in case the imperials were listenin’ in. So he said he’d head back as quick as he could, and to make sure someone was waitin’ for him in the Ala Mhigan Quarter.
Alisaie: Understood! Auric and I will go! We’re bound for Ala Mhigo anyway, and there’s sure to be time before the council begins. Come on, let’s be off.
[In Gyr Abania, the Lochs, Ala Mhigan Quarter. Thancred is there, drooping in a chair and looking exhausted.]
Thancred: You two are a sight for sore eyes. Now all I need is water for my parched throat. Fetch me a cup, will you? Traipsing through imperial territory is thirsty work…
[Water is fetched. Thancred gulps it down.]
Thancred: Gods, I needed that.
Alisaie: I won’t bother telling you to catch your breath. Whatever brought you galloping back to us, I assume it’s urgent.
Thancred: Quite. Without further ado, then. After the successful uprisings in Doma and Ala Mhigo, rebels in several other provinces were inspired to follow suit. Unfortunately, they did not fare quite so well. The Dalmascans paid the heaviest price. For their defiance, the Emperor made a show of razing their capital to the ground, prompting many of their neighbors to abandon thoughts of resistance. But not all have given up on liberty. Heartened by the news of Doma’s prisoner exchange, some still believe that the Empire may one day be amenable to negotiation. We have the shinobi to thank for spreading the good word. They have worked tirelessly to keep the subjugated informed, and a little knowledge can go a long way.
Alisaie: There is at least a spark of hope, then.
Thancred: A spark in want of kindling, yes. The Alliance has already begun supplying materiel to resistance movements abroad, many of whom would otherwise struggle to continue the fight. The support effort is being led by the sultana and the Elder Seedseer, who have both seen enough Ala Mhigan refugees to know the consequences of oppression. And for their troubles, they have quickly earned a reputation as folk heroes in certain corners of the Empire. That is all for the provinces. As for the Garlean motherland itself… Our friends the Populares have suffered something of a setback, I regret to say. Talk is rife that Doma has summoned a primal, and the Empire’s more liberal voices are being drowned out in the fearful clamor for retribution.
[Alisaie doesn’t like this.]
Alisaie: And who do they think orchestrated this summoning!?
Thancred: Oh, any but those truly responsible. Zenos has seen to that. Speaking of whom, the crown prince is recovering remarkably well. Well enough, in fact, to enable him to personally tour the provinces, putting the fear of the Emperor into the hearts of any would-be dissidents.
Alisaie: He walks in plain sight? And none suspect him? Then it’s as we feared…
Thancred: Yes. An Ascian wears his skin. …But it was not that which brought me here in such haste. During my time in the provinces, I learned many things, yet at no point did I hear any report of a Doman emissary in the capital.
Alisaie: But Alphinaud should have arrived by now. Could they be holding him there in secret?
Thancred: The possibility did cross my mind ─ but I have reason to believe he never reached his destination. As you know, Scions assigned to covert operations, such as Riol and myself, are issued special linkpearls for communication in the event of an emergency. I mention this because it was originally Alphinaud’s task to coordinate the response at headquarters ─ meaning he has one. And whose voice should I hear when mine recently crackled to life…?
Alisaie: You spoke with Alphinaud!?
Thancred: Spoke with, no. I but heard his voice ─ and none too clearly at that. Two words were all I could make out. “The Burn.”
Alisaie: The wasteland on the edge of Othard? Something must have happened to them there! There’s no time to waste! We must make for the Burn at once!
Thancred: I had a feeling you might say that.
Alisaie: And? I can’t very well sit around here drinking tea if Alphinaud is in trouble. You said yourself that this linkpearl was only to be used in emergencies. So I’m going, and that’s the end of it.
[The Warrior of Light nods. Alisaie will not go alone.]
Thancred: Well, far be it from me to change your minds.
Alisaie: Loath though I am to neglect making preparations for the council, we must act swiftly before Alphinaud’s trail goes cold. I propose we first pay Hien a visit. He’s sure to want to hear about these developments, and he may well be able to advise us on how best to reach the Burn.
Thancred: A sound plan. And Y’shtola is in Doma, is she not? I daresay she’d join you in the search if you asked her nicely. While you see to all that, I shall go and report my findings to the Alliance. You may leave any preparations for the council to me.
Alisaie: Thank you, Thancred. Right, to Doma, then. We have much and more to share with Y’shtola.
[In the Doman Enclave. Y’shtola is speaking to a Doman worker.]
Y’shtola: …Hmm. That is curious indeed. While other matters demand my attention at present, I shall bear what you have told me in mind. Should you notice any change, do not hesitate to seek me out.
Doman Miner: Thank you, my lady. You are most kind.
[Y’shtola comes over to meet Alisaie and the Warrior of Light.]
Y’shtola: …Well, well. Two faces from the dim and distant past.
Alisaie: Come now, it hasn’t been that long. Who was that you were speaking with?
Y’shtola: A local miner who supplies crystals for the rebuilding effort. Of late, he claims to have struggled to find a crystal with so much as a trace of elemental energy. Upon learning that I had some knowledge of aether, he came seeking my counsel. Just now he brought me one of his recent finds. It was precisely as he described ─ devoid of elemental energy…and eerily reminiscent of the deaspected crystals that manifested in Eorzea in the days prior to the Calamity. We would be wise to investigate this phenomenon more closely.
Alisaie: Indeed… But on a more positive note, the locals seem to have taken a liking to you.
Y’shtola: More an interest in than a liking to, I think. The sight of a Miqo’te with a peculiar contraption upon her head has a certain novelty value in these parts. Any actual regard they may have for me, I owe wholly to you and the others who came before. Everyone here has been exceedingly cooperative, and I am pleased to report that I have all but concluded my investigation. Simply put, by focusing one’s will upon an aether-infused object of worship, it is possible to conduct a summoning.
Alisaie: …So, the fact that they are objects of worship is the key? They are themselves suffused with the requisite belief?
Y’shtola: Correct. Such sacred relics as the Kojin collect obviate the need for religious fervor in the summoner ─ Yotsuyu being the most obvious example. She had but to associate the artifact given to her by Asahi with the divine, and it served to amplify her desires and give them form. A form nourished through the power of crystals, also provided by her brother. And thus was Tsukuyomi brought into being. Which brings me to the question of preventative measures ─ to which I have yet to find a satisfactory answer. At present, I know of naught that will avail us, save to keep watch over the movement of relics and crystals. As if we did not have enough to keep watch over already… …But I doubt you came all this way to hear that which may be perused in a report. Has something happened to Alphinaud?
Y’shtola: …Hm. I shall join you in the search, of course.
Alisaie: Thank you, Y’shtola. I should be glad of your help. Truly. Now, if there’s nothing else, I shall go on ahead and request an audience with Lord Hien.
Y’shtola: Alisaie puts on a brave face, but she has little talent for concealment. We should join her at the Kienkan.
[At the Kienkan. Hien and Yugiri are there.]
Hien: Greetings, my friend. Alisaie has explained all to me. Needless to say, you shall have our full cooperation in the search. Even if Alphinaud’s trail does lead to the Burn, of all places…
Quest: Feel the Burn
Hien: The region known as the Burn occupies a special place in Garlean history. Every child in the Empire is familiar with the tale. In the distant past, it was a verdant land teeming with life, but successive summonings saw it bled dry of aether and reduced to a desert. It was upon beholding the devastation that primals had wrought, that Emperor Solus was spurred to embark upon his crusade against their kind.
Y’shtola: The Burn offers a glimpse of the future we seek to prevent. Know you of any reason why Alphinaud might have gone there?
Hien: Aye. Mischance. Though it lies on the route to Garlemald, it is no place to make a stop. My guess is they encountered some manner of trouble there. In any event, I am of the same mind as Alisaie ─ we have no choice but to take our search to the Burn. Given the considerable distances involved, ’tis best we went by bird. Auric and I have our yols. Yugiri, will you ready falcons for the others?
Yugiri: I shall gather our swiftest birds. Near the House of the Fierce, there is an overlook. Pray join us there once you have seen to your preparations.
[On an outcrop overlooking the Valley of the Fallen Rainbow.]
Hien: If everyone is here and possessed of a bird, let us away. Remember, our destination is a barren wasteland. There is no civilization to speak of for a hundred malms in all directions. Take care you do not lose your way.
[DUNGEON: The Burn]
Yugiri: Make ready, friends. We are come to the Burn.
Hien: Everyone! Land where you can! We must wait out the storm!
[The group is separated by the storm and has to fight the creatures of the Burn to reunite.]
Hien: Ah! There you are! Between contending with bloodthirsty beasts and sand in my…every conceivable place, I had begun to despair of finding you again.
Yugiri: Do you recognize the crashed ship over yonder? Mistress Alisaie and I briefly inspected it. It is the vessel that bore Master Alphinaud away.
Alisaie: But there was no sign of him. Nor of Maxima and his people.
[Y’shtola surveys the area and spots wreckage from the Imperial attackers who brought Alphinaud’s ship down.]
Y’shtola: Warmachina. It would seem they were involved in a struggle. There may be clues. We should split up and search the area.
[We find more wreckage, and the bodies of the attacking Imperials.]
Yugiri: Hm. These were no ordinary soldiers. Over here!
Yugiri: The insignia on this man’s uniform identifies him as one of the Emperor’s personal guard.
Y’shtola: Handpicked soldiers answering only to the royal family…
Hien: That would explain why all the casualties are Garlean. They were fighting their own.
Alisaie: You’re saying the Emperor was behind this? That Alphinaud is his prisoner?
[We don’t know that yet.][“Alphinaud is fine, I’m sure of it.”]
Hien: Aye, we must not jump to conclusions. Besides, Alphinaud is more than capable of looking after himself, is he not?
Yugiri: I suggest we return to Doma to consider our options. Whatever happened here, Master Alphinaud is long gone, and any subsequent search may safely be left in the hands of the shinobi.
[Nods all around. Yugiri whistles for our bird mounts. ]
[Alisaie takes a long look at the wreckage of Alphinaud’s ship.]
Alisaie: Where in the world are you, Brother? If you die on me, I will never let you hear the end of it.
[Back at the Doman Enclave]
Hien: Well, that was a decidedly uneventful journey. I almost found myself hoping for a sandstorm. Joking aside, I’d say our birds are due a good brush down and a treat or two, wouldn’t you?
Quest: Shadows in the Empire
Hien: I had hoped to steal a moment’s rest after our little outing, but it would seem duty calls. A foreign emissary arrived in my absence.
Y’shtola: Do not let us keep you then.
Hien: Actually…I was wondering if you might join me. I cannot think of a guest who could fail to be impressed by the presence of the Scions ─ at least, none I should be happy to receive.
Alisaie: Of course ─ if you think it will be useful.
Hien: Thank you. Let us return to my manor, then.
[We enter the Kienkan to find Lyse waiting for us.]
Y’shtola: Lyse! What brings you here?
Lyse: Oh, Alliance business. We have a request for Doma ─ well, Hien. But that can wait. They told me you were out searching for Alphinaud. Did you manage to pick up his trail?
[Lyse is brought up to speed.]
Lyse: Well, if he wasn’t at the crash site, he might still have escaped. We have to keep searching!
Hien: And we will. Alphinaud embarked on this journey as an emissary of Doma, and I hold myself responsible for his safe return. I will have our shinobi in the provinces search for him as a matter of urgency. Chin up, Alisaie. You’ll get to admonish your brother for his recklessness yet.
[Alisaie looks very anxious.]
Alisaie: Well, someone has to do it.
Lyse: I’m sure he’s going to be fine. There is one thing I’m not sure about, though. You said it was the Emperor’s personal guard that attacked Alphinaud’s airship. But the Populares would never have been able to arrange the prisoner exchange without Varis’s blessing. So why would he sabotage his own mission?
Yugiri: They may not have been acting on Varis’s orders. The guard answer not only to him, but to his family. The crown prince, included.
Hien: When Yotsuyu summoned Tsukuyomi, Asahi was quick to proclaim that a Doman citizen had violated the terms of our agreement. That the negotiations had failed. And it is this version of events that is now being repeated across Garlemald. To hear the tale, one would think the prisoner exchange never took place. Plainly, someone is manipulating matters from the shadows. Most likely Zenos ─ or whoever it is that wears his face.
Y’shtola: Whichever Ascian, you mean. We all know the nature of our adversary.
Hien: The servants of chaos are true to their name. Their meddling has cost Doma a chance at peace. Whoever it was that loosed his personal guard, the Emperor cannot be ignorant of these developments. We must proceed on the assumption that our treaty is indeed in tatters. But come, Lyse, you have journeyed far. Let me hear your petition.
Lyse: Right, so, the big news is that Ala Mhigo has agreed to join the Eorzean Alliance. To make it official, and discuss where we all go from here, the leaders of the five nations are planning to hold a meeting, and we were hoping you might come too. We’ve already seen what we can achieve when we work together, and the Alliance hopes to work even more closely in future. They think it’s our best hope of keeping the Garleans in check ─ and I agree.
Hien: As do I. By coordinating our efforts in the east and west, we may be able to discourage them from committing their forces to a single front. I accept your invitation. I must, however, ask for time to attend to some pressing matters here. In light of recent events, the risk of imperial reprisals is greater than ever, and I would not leave Doma unguarded. Ere I depart, I must shore up her defenses.
Lyse: Understood. I’ll let the Alliance know. We’ll wait to hear from you before setting a date. The meeting’s to be held at the royal palace in Ala Mhigo, incidentally. Do you remember the way?
Hien: Well enough. Please assure my hosts that I will not keep them waiting any longer than I have to.
Lyse: Consider it done! And thank you for agreeing to come. If we all put our heads together, we’re sure to find the best way forward. For everyone.
Hien: My advisors and I will presently convene to discuss the matter of Doma’s defenses. You are welcome to stay, of course…
Y’shtola: Had you not offered, I would have requested leave to remain. Where the Ascians are concerned, naught may be left to chance.
Hien: As ever, we would benefit from your experience. I thank you for coming, Lyse ─ even if it was on official business. I had hoped there might be time to show you the land you helped to save, but I will settle for a fleeting visit if needs must.
Lyse: There never does seem to be enough time for anything, does there… But I did get to see a little of the enclave. You’ve made excellent progress, I must say! And soon you’ll have the chance to see how we’re getting on too. Till the meeting, then! …Um, Auric? I was wondering if I might have a word with you before I go. In private.
Hien: Go on, my friend. I will send for Hakuro and the others in the meantime.
Lyse: Great. I’ll wait for you at the docks.
[At the docks.]
Lyse: Thanks for coming. Knowing you, you’ve probably guessed what I wanted to talk about. Alisaie. She’s acting as if everything’s all right, but it’s clear she’s barely coping. The Alisaie I know is overbearing, willful, and reckless ─ and that’s fine. It’s how she deals with feeling weak. She has to keep moving, or she’s afraid she’ll fall apart. …A lot like me. But the thing about people like us is that we need someone to keep an eye on us. I had Papalymo, and now I have my friends in the Resistance. And Alisaie has you and the Scions. Before you start, I’m not saying you’re neglecting her. I’m sure you aren’t, and I’m sure you won’t ─ but she’s a good friend, and when I see her like this, I can’t help worrying. So please, make sure you give her all the support she needs, all right?
[“Leave it to me.”][You’ve nothing to worry about. Seriously.]
Lyse: Thank you, Auric. It goes without saying, but if there’s anything I can do, you only need to ask. Well, I’d best be off. See you in Ala Mhigo!
[Back in the Kienkan. Y’shtola, Alisaie, Hien, Yugiri, and Hakuro the wolfman are present.]
Hien: Ah, there you are, my friend. Everyone has assembled, so let us begin.
Yugiri: If we are to ready ourselves for invasion, we shall need manpower, provisions, and time. All of which are in notably short supply.
Hien: Candid as ever, Yugiri. And correct, I concede. Fortunately, I have an idea. ‘Tis plain no single nation can stand against the might of the Empire. And it was only with the aid of others that Doma succeeded in winning her freedom. So I mean to take a leaf out of our Eorzean friends’ book and form an alliance of our own. In addition to those with whom we already share an understanding, I would reach out to Hingashi and Sui-no-Sato, and further afield, to the myriad peoples of Nagxia and Dalmasca. I am under no illusion ─ not all will answer the call. Yet disparate though we may be, we are united in our desire for freedom. If our neighbors could be made to see what is at stake ─ Ascian machinations and all ─ cooperation need not be so far-fetched a notion.
Y’shtola: …It may even seem practical. Under the guidance of our former leader, Master Louisoix, we once strove to unite the fractious city-states of Eorzea. I daresay that experience shall be of use in your endeavor.
Hien: We should be glad of your wisdom.
Alisaie: For the record, I would have been in favor of this plan, even if it hadn’t been my grandfather’s, but I have to ask: how will we secure the time to carry it out? Not that anyone has forgotten, but the Garleans have airships. Lots and lots of airships. Should they catch wind of our plan, they could send an armada to overwhelm us before our alliance had even begun to take shape.
Y’shtola: …Not if we deny them access to the skies. During our time in the Burn, the Warrior of Light and I chanced upon some Allagan ruins.
Y’shtola: As such ruins go, they were not particularly unusual, but something about the surrounding land struck me as odd. Faint though it was, its aetherial residue was uncannily similar to that of Azys Lla. Identical, in fact. For locations so far removed to share a single aetheric signature is all but impossible. I conclude therefore that the Allagans created the floating continent with land taken from the Burn.
Yugiri: While that is a most intriguing theory, I fail to see what relevance it has to Doma’s defense.
Y’shtola: Azys Lla was enclosed in a powerful energy barrier, impenetrable even to an Agrius-class battleship. It occurred to me that those ruins may have enjoyed similar protection. I have no proof, but the Warrior of Light did report seeing a structure resembling other known Allagan field generators.
Alisaie: All right, but even if we could put up such an energy barrier, it surely wouldn’t extend beyond the limits of the Burn. So what’s to stop the Garleans flying around it?
Hien: …Fuel. The Dalmascan capital, Rabanastre, was a key imperial refueling point in the East. By laying waste to it as a lesson to the rest, the Empire greatly hindered its own operations in the region. If an imperial fleet were to advance upon Doma, it would now have little choice but to travel as the crow flies ─ over the Burn.
Alisaie: I see!
Y’shtola: A word of caution. Even assuming the generator still functions, raising a barrier of such a scale will require a prodigious amount of energy. And few places are so bereft of suitable crystals as the Burn.
Hien: Hm… A source of energy. Tell me, did the Allagans make a habit of launching things into the sky?
Y’shtola: A curious question. Besides Azys Lla, I know of only one other notable instance: the red moon Dalamud, whose fall triggered the Calamity.
Hien: Just the two occasions, you say… Then I believe I may have a solution to our energy problem.
Alisaie: …You do?
Hien: I may. To find out for sure, we would need to visit the Azim Steppe. …Which would, I now see, present the perfect opportunity to discuss an alliance with the Xaela tribes. How very neat! What say you, then? Shall we see whither this road leads?
Quest: A Power in Slumber
Hien: It is settled, then. I will journey to the Azim Steppe with the Scions. Yugiri and Hakuro ─ I leave our other neighbors to you.
Alisaie: My apologies, but I won’t be joining you. I am no aetherologist, and what skills I do possess are unlikely to be of any great use to the mission. But more importantly, it seems to me that the ruins in the Burn warrant attention. And so, while you are away securing an energy source, I will engage our friends at Garlond Ironworks to undertake a complete overhaul of the field generators. We’ll need them in good working order if our plan is to succeed. I trust there are no objections?
[“Have care in the Burn.”][Come on, Alisaie…Could you not get Tataru to do it?]
Alisaie: Have care on the Steppe! From what I hear, the Xaela like fighting with friends almost as much as foes. Good luck!
Hien: Just the three of us, then. Very well. Shall we make first for Reunion?
[In Reunion on the Azim Stepp with Hien and Y’shtola.]
Y’shtola: So this is the Azim Steppe… The tales do not do it justice.
Hien: If you think the view is impressive here, wait until we reach higher ground. Actually…seeing as it’s your first visit, permit me to show you my favorite spot.
[On an outlook overlooking the Dawn Throne.]
Hien: Ahhh, I will never tire of this vista! The endless fields, the boundless skies… ‘Tis a sight to make a man forget his cares.
Y’shtola: But not his purpose, I trust. Might this be a fitting moment to tell us what we are doing here?
Hien: Of course. During my time with the Mol, I learned some few myths of this land. One goes thus… “In the distant past, when all seemed doomed, a wayfaring soul came unto the steppe. Venturing into the northern crag, he received of Nhaama a sliver of her essence ─ a shard of the shining moon ─ and with it clove the tainted land from the earth. The end thus averted, to these fields did the wayfaring soul return. And venturing once more into the northern crag, he buried the shard, and made unto the heavens an offering of blood.”
Y’shtola: A tainted land cloven from the earth, and an offering of blood to the heavens… Azys Lla and Dalamud.
Hien: That was my thinking, yes.
Y’shtola: And you believe that yonder mountains hide an artifact possessed of sufficient power to raise Azys Lla up to the heavens. …I suppose that might suffice.
Hien: Worth a closer look, would you say?
Y’shtola: I would.
[Back in Reunion]
Hien: From here, we shall travel to Mol Iloh. There we may ask Cirina about the particulars of the myth, and raise the matter of an alliance with the rulers of the Steppe.
[In Mol Iloh.]
Cirina: Hien, Auric. I am glad of your visit, and the opportunity to welcome a new friend. How may we serve you?
Hien: There is a matter I would discuss with the Mol. It concerns not only the peoples of the Steppe, but of every land in the Far East.
Cirina: A shard of the shining moon left behind by a wayfaring soul… And you need this to protect our lands?
Hien: I do. My friends and I wish to find the shard and ascertain the extent of its power. Will you tell me more of the place where it lies buried? This “northern crag”?
Cirina: …If that is your wish. In the mountains to the north, there is a cavern called the House of the Crooked Coin. Inside this cavern are pillars of stone that legend holds to be the source of Nhaama’s power. There, I believe, you will find what you seek.
Hien: Ah, yes, I know the place. ‘Tis a brisk walk from here. And what are your thoughts on an alliance?
Cirina: Should the Empire return, our lands will be engulfed in a storm of conflict whether we will it or no. If we do not stand together, we will fall apart. This I believe with all my heart. However…
Cirina: Among the tribes of the Steppe, there are those who revere Nhaama above all else. To them, the pillars are sacred, and not to be disturbed. Should you proceed as you propose, such tribes are like to spurn an alliance, prompting others to follow their example. That is my concern. But it is by no means certain that the pillars will provide the power you seek. Ere you risk the ire of the followers of Nhaama, might you not first visit the House of the Crooked Coin? If all is as you hope, we may then consider how best to earn their blessing.
Hien: I thank you for your counsel. We will do as you suggest. I have no desire to give offense to those with whom I would join hands.
Cirina: Thank you for your understanding. Though the Mol may reign over the Steppe today, this decision will shape the days to come, and we would not force others into war against their will.
Hien: Nor we. A hundredfold stronger are they who choose to fight of their own accord.
Quest: The Will of the Moon
Y’shtola: It seems the time is come to put my skills to use. Pray lead the way to the House of the Crooked Coin.
[At the Crooked Coin in the northeast Azim Steppe. Y’shtola examines the glowing runed pillars with her aether senses.]
Y’shtola: Such an abundance of aether!
Hien: Are we in luck?
Y’shtola: We are. This is an Allagan artifact, most likely built to regulate the flow of aether. I strongly suspect the ancients used it to stem the flow from here to the Burn. That would explain how they were able to untether what became Azys Lla from its surroundings. But were we to throw open the floodgates, the resultant deluge would surely be sufficient to raise our wall. And in restoring the flow, we may also restore life to the wasteland. Hm…?
[Y’shtola stares at the pillars, lost in thought.]
Hien: What is it?
Y’shtola: While the device itself harbors a surfeit of aether, the opposite is true of the surrounding area… An effect of regulation, perhaps? A similar phenomenon seemed to be occurring in Doma… Whatever the explanation, the answer will not reveal itself here. We have seen what we needed to see. Let us return to Mol Iloh.
[Back in Mol Iloh.]
Cirina: You found that which you seek, then? Great indeed is the Dusk Mother’s power. If naught less will suffice to protect our lands, the blessing of the other tribes must now be sought.
Hien: Of course. But to which tribes should we appeal?
Cirina: There are many who worship Nhaama, but none are so fervent in their faith as the Dotharl. Their consent shall be the key.
Y’shtola: The Dotharl. Lyse spoke of them. A warlike tribe possessed of unique customs and beliefs. I sense their cooperation will not be easily won.
Hien: Nay, but it will be well worth the effort. The Dotharl fear nothing ─ death least of all ─ and our alliance would be greatly strengthened by their presence. Let us go to Dotharl Khaa and treat with their khatun, Sadu.
[In the southwest of the Steppe, at Dotharl Khaa.]
Sadu: You again? Other matters demand our time, khagan. Unless it is battle you seek?
Hien: Alas not. Quite the opposite, in fact…
Sadu: Talking, always talking… You say the pillars hold great power? Of course they do. They are the source of Nhaama’s strength. To the Dotharl, no place is more sacred, and we will make ash of any who would defile it. Though I see this is not your wish.
Hien: You see the wisdom of our proposition, then? You will join hands with us?
Sadu: I said nothing of joining hands. You wish to wield Nhaama’s power to defend these lands, and this I will allow. But for leaving the Steppe to fight the men in iron I would have something in return.
Sadu: Namely battle. With you, khagan!
[Sadu points to the Warrior of Light.]
Sadu: The Naadam ended ere it began. I would face you again, alone, without distractions. Defeat me ─ prove yourself the stronger ─ and you shall have the Dotharl as your allies. Surely, these are agreeable terms?
Hien: Well, this is a…not wholly unexpected turn of events ─ though I had assumed I would be the one required to fight. Alas, the khatun has made her choice.
[“Shall we dance?”][I’d rather not.]
Sadu: Ha! It shall be a battle the Steppe shall not soon forget! Ahhh, already my soul burns brighter! Prepare yourself, khagan, and await me outside the khaa. I will gather my witnesses and join you anon.
[At the battle site in Nhaama’s Retreat.]
Sadu: Yes, this spot shall serve as well as any. I shall enjoy this, khagan!
Y’shtola: Is this truly necessary? Have you no peaceable way of making decisions?
Sadu: Speak not of peace. You stand before proud warriors of the Dotharl. In the heat of battle do our souls burn brightest! We lay low the strong that we may rise higher! That is our way ─ the way of might! There is no other!
Y’shtola: …Well, they do not want for conviction.
Hien: Indeed. It’s what makes them such dangerous enemies…and such useful allies.
Sadu: Enough talk! It is time to fight!
[FIGHT! …Sadu cheats like CRAZY, with multiple lives and various adds.]
Sadu Heavensflame: Come, khagan! Let us dance! You are strong indeed… A worthy champion of the Steppe… But you are mistaken if you think I will fall so easily!
Sadu Heavensflame: Ahhh, fighting you is pure bliss! Such sweet pleasure, I will not suffer to end so soon! …Well? Do not tell me that is all you have? My soul demands more, khagan! Give me more!
[FIGHTY FIGHT FIGHT!]
Sadu Heavensflame: My arms…grow heavy… My eyes dim… But so long as my lifeblood flows…I will fight on! Yaaaaaarrrgh! Come! Let us begin anew! This is the reckoning, khagan! One must fall!
[In the end, she falls. It doesn’t seem to bother her much though.]
Sadu: Yes! YES! Not since the Naadam has my soul burned so! Come! We have only just begun!
[Sadu prepares to resume combat — but is interrupted.]
Magnai: Enough. You were not granted leave to set the Steppe ablaze.
[Magnai and several of his followers have appeared at the battle site. Magnai does not look happy.]
Hien: Well, well! The sun has come out to play!
Sadu: Begone, moonstruck Oronir! I am busy.
[Magnai is offended.]
Magnai: Fool of a Dotharl. Have you forgotten the face of your master already? The Sun will never set! From his seat on high, he reigns over all, now and forever!
[Y’shtola and the Warrior of Light roll their eyes at Magnai’s arrogance.]
Magnai: Yet what should He find here but a battle to determine the fate of the Steppe ─ a battle waged without His blessing! This will not stand! You, Doman. You who come to petition the warriors of this land forget that all Nhaama’s children are wards of the Oronir. As first among my brothers, your petition is mine alone to judge.
[Sadu is unimpressed.]
Sadu: These words are as wind from a horse’s backside. Plentiful. But your axe sings more sweetly. Let her speak for you.
[Magnai unsheathes his blade.]
Magnai: Insolent child. You will learn your place.
[Magnai charges onto the battle site, but Hien dashes in, katana drawn, to intercept him.]
Hien: Forgive me, Brother Magnai, but we have an arrangement with the Dotharl. We will not abide any interruptions.
Magnai: So be it. The Sun will pass judgment on all. Daidukul ─ join me.
Sadu: The Sun is in good company. We may dance alone.
Magnai: Beg not for mercy, for you will have none. Bear witness to the power and the glory of Azim!
Y’shtola: Constantly at each other’s throats, like rabid…dogs. Gods, I’m turning into her. Ahem. I have not the patience for this. But if we must fight, let us at least be brief. Come!
[FIGHT!! … As Y’shtola!?! Y’shtola and Hien must face Magnai and Daidukul. Magnai cheats nearly as badly as Sadu.]
Magnai the Older: Come! Plead your case unto the Sun!
Hien: Oh, we shall endeavor to be most convincing!
Daidukul the Mirthful: When we have claimed victory, I claim Hien for the Buduga!
Y’shtola: Do as you will…
[Hien takes on Daidukul while Y’shtola heals and keeps Magnai running after her.]
Magnai the Older: You, too, must learn your place.
Hien: Let’s move this right along!
Magnai the Older: You have left yourself open, Doman!
[Hien attempts a big attack but Daidukul counters powerfully, injuring Hien.]
Hien: Ugh, this bodes ill… Y’shtola ─ some healing would be welcome!
Daidukul the Mirthful: My fist swells with the passion of the Buduga! Every last drop, I give to you, Hien!
[Y’shtola heals Hien. Daidukul is defeated and leaves the arena.]
Magnai the Older: So you still stand. But soon you will kneel. Know the folly of opposing the will of Azim! These axes will not break! You have nowhere to hide!
Hien: Very well, then… Y’shtola ─ to me! I shall take care of this!
[Hien limit-breaks the magical axe totem of Magnai.]
Magnai the Older: Hmph, predictable!
[Magnai binds Hien and Y’shtola in magical chains.]
Magnai the Older: Every step you will take, every move you will make ─ the Sun sees all! Now, fall!
[Y’shtola breaks free and blasts Magnai with a powerful Holy attack.]
Y’shtola: Time to finish this!
Magnai the Older: Ungh… What strength ─ what grace is this?
[Sadu, the Warrior of Light, and the other onlookers come rushing over.]
Sadu: Ahhh, never have I felt such bliss in defeat! ‘Twas a battle to burn soul and flesh to ash. We Dotharl will lend you our strength as promised. Nhaama’s power is yours to wield. What does the Sun say to that?
Magnai: Hmph. The Sun is not driven by base motives such as yours. But aye, they have been judged…and found worthy. It is the way of the Oronir to accord recognition and respect to the strong. You have made sufficient proof of your strength. The Sun shall answer your call.
Hien: You have our thanks. We are glad to call you allies.
[Magnai turns to Y’shtola.]
Magnai: You. By what are you called?
Y’shtola: Y’shtola. Why?
Magnai: Are you…? Are you my Nhaama?
Y’shtola: I beg your pardon?
Magnai: In battle, you shone with all the majesty of the full moon’s light, your healing touch the embodiment of the Dusk Mother’s love. Long had I wondered if my Nhaama might not be a woman of the Steppe. Beholding you, I am all but certain! Now, look into my eyes. Could it be…? Could you be…?
Y’shtola: I am…not interested, little sun. Try again when you have become a man.
[Magnai is dumbfounded. Sadu finds this hilarious and bursts out laughing.]
Sadu: Little sun! Little sun! Does it pain you, little sun? Crave you salve to soothe the ache? Fire to sear the wound in your heart?
[Once more Magnai and Sadu draw their weapons!]
[Y’shtola has had quite enough of this.]
Y’shtola: We have wasted enough time here. Cirina waits for word of our success.
[She walks off. Hien shrugs and follows.]
[Back in Moh Iloh.]
Cirina: …You had not only to contend with Sadu, but Magnai too!? Such a fierce battle that must have been. Yet here you stand, triumphant. Having passed such a test, they could not well deny you their allegiance. The Mol will make no such demands. Weak though we are, we will gladly stand with you. The Steppe is our home, and we will defend it with all our being.
Hien: You have my heartfelt thanks! Of all the tribes of the Steppe, there is none I would rather have at my side!
Cirina: Gods willing, many more will rally to our cause. I shall send you word when we have answers from all the tribes.
Hien: I cannot thank you enough, Cirina. None of this would have been possible without you.
Quest: The Call
Y’shtola: We have the requisite consent. ‘Tis time to put Nhaama’s power to use. If the aether flows as planned, all that remains is to have the Ironworks’ engineers do their work at the ruins. Come, let us return to the House of the Crooked Coin.
[Back at the House of the Crooked Coin.]
Y’shtola: I shall begin at once. You may wish to step back.
[Y’shtola raises her hands and summons aether into the Pillars. After several minutes, the glow fades and Y’shtola slumps, looking exhausted.]
Hien: Did it work?
Y’shtola: It did. Aether may flow freely to the Burn once more.
Hien: I do not pretend to understand what you did, Y’shtola, but you did it! Thanks to you ─ and Auric, of course ─ we have taken a momentous step towards securing our defenses. Now, as much as I believe a rest is in order, we should probably make haste back to the enclave.
Y’shtola: Agreed. The others may already have returned from their missions, and I would know how things stand.
Hien: As would I. Without further ado, then.
[Back at the Kienkan in the Doman Enclave. Alisaie, Yugiri, and Hakuro have also returned.]
Alisaie: Judging by your triumphant expressions, I take it all went well on the Azim Steppe.
Y’shtola: Indeed. We have secured a suitable source of energy for the barrier.
Alisaie: Good. Tataru and I have commissioned Garlond Ironworks to ensure that the field generators function as they should. A team of engineers stand ready to set out for the Burn at a moment’s notice. You need only say the word.
Hien: I thank you for engaging their services on our behalf. The minutiae of the arrangement, you may leave to me. Which just leaves the small matter of our alliance. So, Yugiri and Hakuro…how fared you with our neighbors?
Yugiri: My lord. All of the factions we approached are in agreement that the Empire poses a threat, and many responded positively to talk of an alliance. From Hingashi and Sui-no-Sato, however, we received outright rejections. The former will not break its treaty with the Empire and the latter will not involve itself in conflict.
Hien: Just as we expected, then. Well, there is naught to be done about it. We must focus on the rest. To each of the nations that were amenable to an alliance, I will personally send a missive. And once I have attended to that, I believe we will have done everything we can to fortify Doma’s defenses ─ for the time being at least. All of which means I may leave for the meeting in Ala Mhigo with a lighter heart. Yugiri, Hakuro ─ if you would be so kind as to hold the fort in my absence. My friends, we could not have achieved so much in so little time without your help. For that, I give you my heartfelt thanks. Till the meeting, then.
Alisaie: I took the liberty of asking Thancred to attend as well. He should have arrived in the Ala Mhigan Quarter by now.
Y’shtola: Then let us not keep him waiting. Shall we?
[in Ala Mhigo, the Lochs, the Ala Mhigan Quarter. Thancred is waiting.]
Thancred: Y’shtola has told me all. And I duly told Urianger and Krile. Krile, in particular, was concerned about Alphinaud, but I assured her that everything that can be done is being done. She agreed to continue with her own tasks for the time being on the condition that I contact her the moment there is any development. So, that leaves four of us to attend the council. Arenvald is here to assist with security, incidentally, though the poor lad seems altogether too distracted for the task. Another one missing Alphinaud, I expect. Ah, but it’s almost time. As soon as you are ready, present yourself to the guardsman at the palace entrance. I shan’t be far behind.
Resistance Guard: Ah, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, welcome to Ala Mhigo! The Alliance leaders have already arrived. May I show you to the meeting chamber?
[In the meeting chamber.]
[Present are the leaders of Ul’dah, Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, and Ishgard. Also present are Lyse and Raubahn.]
Nanamo Ul Namo: Mistress Lyse. Commander Aldynn. It gives me great pleasure to formally welcome the city-state of Ala Mhigo to the Eorzean Alliance.
Raubahn: The pleasure is ours, Your Grace. I know I speak for all Ala Mhigans when I say that we are glad of this chance to stand with our comrades of the Alliance.
Kan-E-Senna: And we for our part are glad indeed to be able to welcome friends both old and new…
[Hien bows while seated.]
Hien: Lord Hien of Doma, at your service. Pray accept my heartfelt thanks for your generous invitation.
Aymeric: Nay, ’tis we who must thank you for journeying so far. And ‘twould be remiss of me not to acknowledge the part the Scions of the Seventh Dawn have played in bringing all of us together. In times of great unrest, you and yours have been our constant companions, without whom we would not be here.
Nanamo Ul Namo: With apologies to Lord Hien and Mistress Alisaie, it occurs to me that we have not gathered in this way since that fateful day in Ul’dah.
Raubahn: The day I lost my arm and my freedom… As I lay in my cell, never did I dream that I would one day be given the chance to represent my homeland at this council. I would not even be alive had you not plucked me from the jaws of death ─ you, Yugiri, and Alphinaud. Would that the lad could be with us…
Alisaie: I too owe my presence here to Alphinaud. In so many ways… Until such time as he returns, I mean to carry on his good work as best I can.
Nanamo Ul Namo: Come, friends ─ let us leave the past in the past, and turn our eyes to the future. My lord Hien, pray tell us how things stand in the East.
[Hien briefs the group on the recent events in Doma.]
Kan-E-Senna: Having heard the rumors of dissent in Garlemald, I dared to dream of a peaceable solution…
Merlwyb: Hm. The Empire will not so easily change its ways. If the Garleans have a mind to take back Doma and Ala Mhigo, we’ll be hard-pressed to stop them. Even with the might of six nations. But while we lack the strength to fight the tide, a course may yet present itself if we read the winds aright.
Aymeric: The winds suggest but one course to me ─ one which leads from the sea unto the river and thence to the source of all our woes.
Nanamo Ul Namo: The Ascians.
Aymeric: Indeed. All here have felt their blighted touch. It was the Bringers of Chaos who nurtured the archbishop’s tyrannical ambitions… They who bestowed upon him the secrets of summoning, as they have so many others, before and since. And while they remain, we shall know no peace.
Raubahn: Our objective is clear. The question is how to achieve it. That our enemy parades about in Zenos’s skin poses problems in itself, but ere we get to them, how are we to infiltrate the Empire and get close enough to strike?
Thancred: While I see the wisdom in targeting the Ascians, an assassination attempt on Garlean soil would do little to aid our cause…even were it to succeed. It’s time we used our enemy’s preferred tactic
Y’shtola: You have an idea?
Merlwyb: Speak your mind, Master Thancred. None here know the enemy better than the Scions, and you mayhap best of all. Whatever it is you propose, we will give it fair hearing. On that you have my word.
Thancred: Very well, Admiral. My proposal is thus. We dispatch the shinobi to imperial territory. There, they sow the rumor that the crown prince perished in the battle for Ala Mhigo, and that the man parading around is in fact a corpse inhabited by a servant of darkness.
Raubahn: Well…it does have the ring of truth about it. And were the Garleans to learn that their future ruler is a puppet, the Empire would be shaken to the core.
Lyse: But ─ at the risk of sounding stupid ─ would they actually believe such an unlikely story? I didn’t.
Thancred: Ordinarily not. But prior to his miraculous recovery, rumors of Zenos’s death had already begun to circulate around the Empire. Ultimately, however, what the masses believe is not our chief concern. Our true objective is to create an opening for rival factions within Garlemald to exploit.
Hien: Just as a war of succession erupted in the wake of Emperor Solus’s death!
Thancred: A war which raged until but recently, plunging the imperial house into disarray as nephew and uncle grappled for the throne. It is no coincidence that one of Varis’s first acts as Emperor was to name Zenos heir apparent ─ family feuds being so tiresome when armies are involved. Not all welcomed his choice of successor, however. There is no shortage of individuals who aspire to the throne ─ who would jump at any chance to seize power. The news that Zenos is not only dead, but a puppet to diabolical forces, would be too enticing to ignore.
Hien: The Empire would not be quick to recover from a second war of succession.
Thancred: I am no stranger to infiltrating imperial territory. With a team of operatives gathered from among the Alliance’s finest, the plan should have a reasonable chance of success.
Hien: Doma already has shinobi in place throughout the provinces. We stand ready to act, and act we must. What say you all?
Merlwyb: I am for Master Thancred’s proposal. We shine a light upon the Ascian and test the Empire’s unity. ‘Twas his plot that scuttled Doma’s negotiations, was it not? Why then, if we can eliminate him, there may yet be a chance for peace. Let us wage this war of subterfuge, that we may one day lay down our arms. Gods know, we never will while the Ascians remain.
[Nods all around the table.]
[Suddenly the Warrior of Light is hit with what seems like an Echo. But this one is different somehow. A strange distorted ringing sound can be heard. The vision is strangely refracted and there is an unknown male voice speaking in broken phrases.]
Mysterious Voice: That way….sorrow…
[The Warrior of Light stands in a featureless black void.]
Mysterious Voice: History…must be changed…
[“Who is this?”][I don’t understand.]
Mysterious Voice: Ahead looms a Calamity. Ahead looms Light, expunging all form and life. Twin dooms only you can forestall. Only you.
Raubahn: What’s the matter!?
[Through distortion, the Warrior of Light sees that his fellow Scions — Thancred, Y’shtola, and Alisaie — all seem to be experiencing what he is, even though they do not possess the Echo. Perhaps this isn’t the Echo at all. No one else at the table seems to be affected.]
Alisaie: There’s…there’s a voice…
Merlwyb: Spies in our midst!?
Kan-E-Senna: Nay. I sense no such presence.
[Back in the void.]
Mysterious voice: Let expanse contract, eon become instant…Throw wide the gates that we may pass!
[The bewildering vision fades and the Scions are released from its grasp.]
Y’shtola: Is it over?
[Without warning, Thancred collapses to the floor. ]
Aymeric: Master Thancred!
[Kan-E-Senna bends over him in concern.]
Kan-E-Senna: Twelve forfend… Bear him to a private chamber. Have every healer make ready. Swiftly!
[Later, outside the meeting hall.]
Resistance Healer: Master Thancred remains in slumber. Though his vital signs appear stable, he is unresponsive.
Lyse: What could have done this? And why just him and not the others?
Resistance Healer: I’m afraid we could not identify the cause, my lady. Our examinations revealed no wounds, nor the presence of any poisonous substances…
Lyse: Gods, that only makes it worse. You’re to let us know the moment there’s any change, all right?
[The leaders of the Eorzean Alliance arrive.]
Alisaie: Thank you for coming. Knowing Thancred, he would apologize for being otherwise engaged at so crucial a juncture.
Kan-E-Senna: In gifting us a course of action, Thancred sowed the seed of all that is to follow. We have but to nurture it as best we can. To him I would say rest easy, that he may wake to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Now, the matter of the mysterious voice must not be forgotten. Will you tell me exactly what happened?
Y’shtola: Alisaie and I heard a voice in the moments before Thancred collapsed. It was accompanied by a severe headache ─ as if something were clutching at our minds. Did you experience the same thing?
[The Warrior of Light tries to describe the strange experience.]
Alisaie: …So, in between the voice and the pain, you felt as if you were somewhere else entirely?
Kan-E-Senna: Your testimony confirms my suspicion. That which you experienced was, I believe, your soul being plucked from your flesh. Called.
Kan-E-Senna: I myself examined Thancred. Reach out as I may, I could not sense in him the spark of life that is his soul. That Thancred alone was stricken so is likely due to his heightened sensitivity to the effects of aether ─ a consequence of his prior possession by the Ascian Lahabrea. The owner of the voice, whoever it may be, reached out to you ─ called your souls ─ and in so doing caused you and yours such pain.
Alisaie: But…if that’s true, where exactly are we being called to?
Kan-E-Senna: I know not. Yet one thing is plain: whoever waits for you on the other side is possessed of a power unlike any I have ever known.
Y’shtola: Forgive us, Lyse, but may we leave Thancred in your care for a time?
Lyse: As if you had to ask. I may not be a Scion anymore, but I’m no less a friend. Don’t worry, I’ll see to it that Thancred’s well looked after. Just focus on solving this mystery, all right?
Y’shtola: Thank you, Lyse. As the Elder Seedseer says, ’tis no ordinary individual we are dealing with. Nor can we discount the possibility of Ascian involvement.
Alisaie: Whoever or whatever is behind this, the sooner we find out the better. I just tried to call Urianger on his linkpearl. He didn’t respond, but I dare to hope that he possesses some knowledge we do not.
[Alisaie’s linkpearl chimes.]
Alisaie: …Ah, Urianger! Something happened during the meeting. Thancred’s collapsed. A disembodied voice suddenly started ─
[Alisaie pauses at something Urianger says.]
Alisaie: …What? But that’s… We should talk about this in person. …All right. We’ll meet you there.
[Alisaie shuts off the linkpearl.]
Alisaie: That was Urianger. He heard the voice too!
Y’shtola: In Thanalan? Hm. As we alone were afflicted at the meeting, I had my suspicions, but if the voice also spoke to Urianger, there can be little doubt: the Scions were targeted specifically. By whom and to what end is the question. One to which we must find an answer with all possible haste.
Quest: Prelude in Violet
Alisaie: Urianger agreed to meet us at the Rising Stones. If any of the others heard the voice, we’ll find out soon enough.
Lyse: Good luck. I should get back to the meeting with the Elder Seedseer, but if there’s anything I can do ─ anything at all ─ you must let me know, all right? Promise me.
Alisaie: Right, let’s be on our way.
[Back at the Rising Stones. Urianger is waiting.]
Alisaie: Urianger! Gods it’s good to see you!
Urianger: Would that our meeting were under happier circumstances. I judged the voice sufficient cause for concern even before you sent word of its effect on our comrade…
Y’shtola: You heard it too, then?
Urianger: Aye. And all but certainly at the selfsame instant. Alas, pained as I was, I could make little sense of what few words did then reach mine ears.
Y’shtola: Who do you think is responsible? Could this be the Ascians’ doing?
Urianger: That I cannot say. Not when so little is known. Ere I indulge in speculation, I would examine Thancred with mine own eyes.
Alisaie: To Ala Mhigo, then ─ without further delay!
Y’shtola: One other thing. During my visit to the Far East, I observed a strange phenomenon.
Urianger: Thou referest, I presume, to the localized reduction in aetheric density?
Y’shtola: Well, that spares me the trouble of an explanation. Yes. I noted precisely that at two apparently unconnected locations. I take it the phenomenon is not limited to the Far East?
Urianger: Indeed not. Of late, our agents charged with surveilling the beast tribes have spoken of little else. In every corner of the realm, they tell of places in which the aether hath grown thin. Naturally, my suspicions first turned to primal activity, but the areas thus affected betray no evidence of summoning. I must confess to being quite perplexed.
Y’shtola: If the same phenomenon is being observed in multiple locations on opposite sides of the world, we may safely discount regional factors. Needless to say, this warrants further investigation.
Urianger: Indeed. I shall make it my task to ─
[The Warrior of light sees a flash, as if Urianger has become a photo negative of himself. Urianger gasps and clutches his head.]
Urianger: The voice… It calleth to me once more…
[There is another flash, and then another. Urianger rocks as if struck and falls to his knees. Y’shtola gasps as the same effect takes hold of her.]
Y’shtola: I…I hear it too!
[The Voice strikes the Warrior of Light and Alisaie.]
Mysterious Voice: Only you. Only you.
Alisaie: Ah! Unnngh! No…! Y’shtola…Urianger…
Mysterious Voice: Throw wide… the gates…
[The effect stops. Alisaie looks up.]
Alisaie: No! NO! This can’t be happening!
[Urianger and Y’shtola have fallen to the floor and lie still.]
Alisaie: Y’shtola! Urianger! Open your eyes!
[Alisaie runs to Urianger’s side and shakes him.]
Alisaie: Open your eyes, I beg you… Say something…anything… Not again… Please! Not again!
[The lesser-ranked Scions gather around their fallen leaders as the screen fades to black.]
Alisaie: Forgive me, that was an unseemly display…
Hoary Boulder: It happened before your very eyes, my lady. None here would have behaved any differently. We have borne the two of them to a private chamber. But tell me, is it true that Master Thancred languishes in a like state in Ala Mhigo?
Alisaie: I’m afraid so. Though, given the circumstances, it would seem best to observe them together. I will send word to Lyse that he should be brought here.
Hoary Boulder: Take heart, my lady. The world is full of scholars and knowledgeable folk of every persuasion. Someone out there is bound to know what ails our comrades, and how it may be cured. Thus will we rouse them ─ no matter what.
Alisaie: That we will, Hoary. That we will. But first things first ─ our comrades will have questions. May I ask that you explain the situation to them? I must attend to a private matter.
[The Warrior of Light gives her a questioning look.]
Alisaie: Oh, I promised I’d visit someone in Limsa Lominsa. He’s been waiting at Maelstrom Command for a while now. …You know, you should come along too. I think he’d be glad to see you.
[At Maelstrom Command in Limsa Lominsa.]
Alisaie: As you’ve probably guessed, it’s Ga Bu we’ve come to see. The private here will bring him out to us. Ever since the Maelstrom took him in, I’ve tried to visit as often as I can. And after what befell our friends, I was taken by the urge to visit again. It’s…difficult to explain.
[A Storm Private brings out Ga Bu, the kobold child.]
Storm Private: Here he is, my lady.
Alisaie: Ga Bu…it’s been too long.
Ga Bu: …
Storm Private: I’m afraid there has been no change. If he can see or hear us, he has given no sign…
Alisaie: I see. You’re still fighting. I’m proud of you. We promised that we would come and visit you together, didn’t we. Alphinaud and I. I’m sorry that we haven’t managed that yet. You know, with the three of us like this, does it not remind you of that night? Of the stars beyond count, twinkling in the heavens? I was feeling pretty low back then. Powerless. But I knew that my brother was close by if I needed him. And that the others would be waiting for me back at the Rising Stones. Not like now. I’ve seen my share of trouble since coming to Eorzea. …Been reminded again and again of my limitations ─ of how little I can change about this world. And I’ve come to know the sorrow of parting all too well. But to have the people I hold dear struck down before my eyes, and be powerless to help them…? That ─ That I cannot bear.
[“You still have me.”][You don’t have to bear this burden alone.]
Alisaie: And for that I am grateful. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Well, that’s more than enough brooding for one day. Come on. We have friends to save. Let’s return to the Rising Stones and take it from there.
[Back at the Rising Stones.]
Alisaie: Thanks again for agreeing to come. It meant a lot to me. I did some thinking on the way back, and I think Hoary is right: we need to seek outside help. Ordinarily, we would turn to our own experts on such matters, but they’re both among the stricken… I will begin by reaching out to the myriad guilds and research institutions here in Eorzea. Additionally, Grandfather and Minfilia had a wealth of connections between them, and I mean to explore those avenues too. We’ll find a way to save everyone, mark my words. Much and more has happened in recent days. Some of it for the good, some…not so. But all around me, people continue their fight. From the shinobi who search for Alphinaud to the Alliance members who make ready to move against the Empire, they march on in the face of great adversity, bearing heavy burdens. Everyone is playing their part…and so must I. You have your own part to play, I know, and it’s bigger than most. So I won’t keep you. Just promise that you’ll visit from time to time, and I promise I’ll have good tidings to share with you when you do.
[Meanwhile, in the Imperial Palace…]
[Emperor Varis stands before a dais, his back to Zenos.]
Zenos: The Populares no longer present an obstacle. Now is the time to bring the Empire’s might to bear. A word from Your Radiance is all it takes. But one word, and the imperial army will fall upon Ala Mhigo as a pack of bloodthirsty wolves and tear that feeble nation apart. Have you no words for me? Despite the lengths I go to ─ an Emissary, playing the part of a fool.
[A flashback shows Elidibus removing his mask, revealing Zenos’ face beneath.]
Zenos: When first I took this face, I swore to use all of my knowledge, all of my power, to further the cause of the Empire. My deeds stand testament to my commitment. And with this adamant flesh at my disposal, I could destroy the eikon-slayer as easily as one might swat a fly. Why do you hesitate?
[Varis does not reply. Zenos-Elidibus sighs deeply.]
Zenos: Our enemy is resourceful. Though victory is certain now, it will not remain so indefinitely. Deliberate if you must, but be quick about it. We will speak again when you have unburdened yourself of doubt. Until then, I take my leave…Father.
[A man speaks from the shadows.]
???: I should be the one to sigh. I played my part to perfection. I had earned my rest. And then, thanks to Lahabrea’s crowning act of idiocy, our favorite Emissary sees fit to summon me back.
[The man steps forward. He has brown hair with a white forelock and a Garlean Third Eye. He wears black leather armor with gold metal and white fur trim.]
???: Elidibus was ever a worrier. A most tiresome trait, would you not agree?
[Varis looks down at the floor in silence.]
???: What, have you no words for me either? No matter. I’ve long grown weary of this mummery. Now, my dearest grandson. Let me remind you of your place, in the simplest of terms. You do not make judgments ─ you administer them. Swiftly and to the letter. Naught else is your concern.
[Varis bares his teeth in a snarl.]
???: Elidibus may be an insufferable bore, but he is no fool. His choices as emissary seldom err. If aught threatens the balance ‘twixt Light and Dark, it falls to you to remove it. Be it by your own hands or by your armies, you have ample means at your disposal.
Solus zos Galvus: That is why this empire exists ─ why I built it.
[Varis frowns, simmering with anger.]
Solus zos Galvus: Oh dear. Have I touched a nerve? You always were an easy one to read. I pity you, I do. As they say, ignorance is bliss. And I know how much happier you would be not knowing the things you know. The founding father was an Ascian! And he created the Empire solely for the purpose of sowing the seeds of chaos! Don’t take it personally. I merely do my duty. To bring about a Calamity requires no small amount of power. And there is no surer way to obtain such power than by collecting powerful pawns. To that end, I have labored long and hard, and I must say I am quite pleased with my handiwork ─ paltry though it seems in comparison to Allag.
[A shot rings out. The Ascian falls to the floor. Varis holds a smoking gun.]
Varis zos Galvus: You fiends are overfond of your own voices. Mark me, Ascian. Man is the master of his own destiny!
[Varis stares at the corpse on the floor. Behind him, there is a swirl of violet smoke and another Solus zos Galvus materializes. Varis doesn’t seem at all surprised by this.]
Solus zos Galvus: Such a waste of time and energy. Both yours and mine. Lest you forget, you are Emperor now. If you wish to spout drivel about man’s destiny, save it for the masses. It will serve to give them a sense of purpose…and you pliant pieces for the game. Oh, do stop sulking, boy. You of all people should understand. Ours is a struggle to restore both mankind and the world to their rightful state. Viewed thus, our goals are one and the same.
[Solus zos Galvus walks out of the throne room leaving Varis behind.]
[Meanwhile, at a resistance encampment, somewhere in the Empire…]
[Alphinaud and Shadowhunter, with Shadowhunter’s two comrades, approach a group of tents. A dozen bodies lie lifeless before a dead campfire. Alphinaud and the Imperial trio run forward to investigate.]
Alphinaud: What in the world…? Dead… All dead. Yet I see no wounds, nor any evidence of battle…
Shadowhunter: Damn them. They finally used it. The Empire developed an alchemical weapon in Gyr Abania. A gas. “Black Rose,” it was called, and to breathe it is to breathe your last.
Alphinaud: And that did this?
Shadowhunter: I thought the project abandoned, and its vile fruit destroyed. But naught else could have wrought such an atrocity. Fools… What do they hope to gain with this butchery? Can they not see that a rule won through terror will not endure? How many more provinces must they lose!? Nay…wait. This is not the work of men, but monsters. The Ascians. It cannot be a coincidence that their trail led us here. Their objective was never to rule, but to sow strife and discord.
Alphinaud: Such a crime does indeed bear the mark of the Bringers of Chaos. Black Rose cannot be allowed to kill again. We must find the Ascians and put an end to their plot.
[Alphinaud and the Imperial trio head further into the mountains together.]