Stormblood Text 3: The Ruby Sea

[Lyse narrates: “I remember the water. How it turned crimson in the morning sun. A shimmering sea of rubies, stretching from horizon to horizon. You could almost believe it went on forever…But beyond that red expanse lay a land in turmoil. On the shores of Othard, our Doman brothers struggled in vain…”]

 

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Soroban: How wide and beautiful she is, the Ruby Sea! Filled with promise and adventure and treasures─many wonderful treasures!

Soroban: Now, in order to reach the shores of Othard, you will need to cross the resplendent waters you see before you. However, this is easier said than done.

Soroban: To set forth without making the necessary preparations is to invite the Confederacy to claim your vessel─and your life should you resist.

Soroban: But this fate can be avoided by paying the Ruby Tithe, thereby earning you the blessing of the pirate lords.

Soroban: So─let us go and greet them. Our destination is the isle to the west.

Lyse: That doesn’t look very far to me. Auric, why don’t we jump in and swim for it? I’ve had my fill of boats.

Soroban: Hmm, an excellent idea! I think you shall find the water to your liking.

Soroban: I will use my ship to deliver those less inclined to the isle.

[Splash! Into the ocean!]

Lyse: Right, this should be easy! And a good way to loosen up before the next fight, whenever it comes.

Lyse: Twenty gil says I beat you there!

[On the other side of the lagoon]

Soroban: Ah, there you are. I trust you enjoyed yourselves.

Soroban: Follow me, my friends. The one with whom we must speak is a man named Tansui.

Tansui: …I fear you have the advantage of me.

Tansui: Most honorable and esteemed Auric Seagard. I am Tansui, a humble mate who serves at the pleasure of the Confederacy’s captain.

Tansui: As you are in the company of the shellback, I presume we have business to discuss…

Tansui: You wish to pay the Ruby Tithe, yes? With your…gil, perhaps? It is just as well. Foreign currencies are in demand these days.

Soroban: I would pay for their passage to Othard.

Soroban: Does this sum meet with your satisfaction?

Tansui: …The sea has been quite tempestuous of late. I cannot say with confidence that you would reach your destination safely─unless you tripled it.

Soroban: D-Do you take me for a fool? I know the price, as do all!

Tansui: Alas, we live in interesting times. As you came from Kugane, I should think I need not tell you that.

Tansui: The shadow of war looms. The wise and the cautious shirk our waters and our custom, and the foolhardy sharpen their knives in anticipation.

Lyse: Meaning…?

[A Confederate runs up]

Proud Confederate: Sir! Sir! You’ve got to come quickly. The bastards’re at it again!

Proud Confederate: I tried to convince them to stop, but they weren’t having it.

Tansui: <sigh> Very well. I will be there shortly.

Tansui: …Hm. A proposition. Your comrades strike me as a worthwhile investment. I would not hear men name me a cat before koban, so I shall consider their tithe paid─not for what they have done, but for what I expect they will do.

[Tansui runs off with the messenger.]

Alisaie: I’m not sure what to make of that man, but at least the matter of our tithe is settled. For now.

Lyse: What was that he and the other pirate were talking about? Maybe we ought to go and have a look.

[Sure, why not!]

[The group arrives at another beach and watches from behind a rock. Tensui and the messenger are confronting a boat with an Imperial soldier and two Ninja Turtles in it.  Soroban looks surprised and/or upset.]

Imperial Pilus Prior: Spare me your concern, pirate.Your feeble attempts at extortion will not work on us.

Imperial Pilus Prior: You remain at large because we allow it─because you are such insignificant little pests that we see no need to swat you.

Imperial Pilus Prior: But if you wish to risk the ire of the viceroy, by all means, fire upon an imperial vessel. Give us a reason to bring the full might of the Garlean Empire to bear against your pathetic fleet.

Proud Confederate: Bastards!

[The messenger raises his bow. Tensui stops him.]

Tansui: Gentlemen. Surely the fact that you have such limitless resources at your disposal gives you all the more reason to spare some few coins for theless fortunate?

 Imperial Pilus Prior: All talk, just as I thought. Come─let us away. I have no time for this rubbish.

[The boat leaves.]

Lyse: We’re all the same to them, aren’t we? Savages to be ruled or slaughtered.

Tansui: They’ve always balked at paying the Ruby Tithe.But they were never so eager to pick a fight…

Tansui: The problem, you see, is that many of my comrades in the Confederacy are of Doman descent─and the acting viceroy…well, she’s none too fond of Domans, to say the least.

Tansui: If we take any action to hinder the safe passage of an imperial vessel, she’ll accuse us of attempting to foment rebellion and brand us enemies of the Empire─which we can ill afford to be. Like the man said, we’re all talk.

Alisaie: And where do the Kojin stand in all this?

Tansui: With the winning side, of course. They are mercenaries to a fault, eager to offer their services without coercion.

Tansui: The shellback could tell you more…though something tells me he would rather not.

Lyse: I don’t understand. If the Garleans are causing the Confederacy this much trouble─and if so many of you are Doman to begin with─why aren’t you willing to fight back?

 Tansui: Hahaha! Spoken like a true friend of the Doman Liberation Front.

Tansui: If you’re planning to rouse us with noble words and grand promises─don’t bother. We all know what the imperial army can do. Compared to them, we’re boys with boats.

Tansui: Besides, what ties a man may once have held to his home are forsaken upon joining the Confederacy. We look out for none but our own.

[Lyse looks ready to punch someone. Alisaie calms her down.]

Tansui: Be that as it may, our livelihood is under threat, and the captain will need to decide soon whether we are to go down in a blaze of glory or bow and scrape for crumbs from the Emperor’s table.

Tansui: …All while our friend the viceroy continues her purge of Doma’s “radical elements.” I believe she’s holding court in one of the fishing villages evenas we speak.

Gosetsu: That she-devil! Her perfidy knows no bounds!

Gosetsu: She must be stopped. Come, let us find Soroban and put to sea at once!

Tansui: Tell the others that these ones have paid. We all have places to be.

[Tensui and the messenger walk off.]

Gosetsu: What are we waiting for? Come, come! Soroban cannot have gone far!

Gosetsu: …Though now that I think on it, it is passing strange that he left without warning. Mayhap he did not wish to be seen by his Kojin brethren?

Gosetsu: I doubt he thought to leave us behind, but nevertheless, it may be prudent to return to his ship. Or at least to the Confederate encampment.

[Soroban is back on the first beach.]

Soroban: Oh, my friends! A thousand pardons! …As you may have guessed, I was reluctant to be seen in your company by my Red brothers. Ours is a…complex relationship.

Soroban: I pray you do not misinterpret their actions as a reflection of our allegiances as a whole.

Soroban: You…you understand? Kami be praised! Too often are shell-less quick to judge all Kojin for the deeds of one.

 Soroban: Right, then. Now that our business with Tansui is concluded, we can traverse the Ruby Sea without fear!

Soroban: I shall return to the ship and prepare for our departure. If you have any remaining business to conduct with the pirates here, I pray you do so now.

Soroban: Ah, that reminds me. Auric, would you be so kind as to inform the Confederates of our plans? The more they know of our movements, the less like we are to be mistaken for another vessel by their comrades.

[Sure, why not?]

Proud Confederate: Oh, you’re one of the ijin from the beach. Leaving us already?

Proud Confederate: No need to pay the tithe, like Tansui said. On the other hand, if you were to peruse our wares and find anything to your liking, we should be glad to sell it to you for a fair price.

[Back to the Ninja Turtle’s boat]

Soroban: You have spoken with the Confederates up above, then? Excellent! If you are ready to depart, we may do so at any time.

[“All Aboard!”]:

[Soroban’s boat arrives at the East Othard coastline]

Soroban: Here we are! I am reasonably certain none bore witness to our approach.

Soroban: And with this, I believe I have fulfilled the terms of our agreement?

Gosetsu: Aye, that you have. You have my deepest thanks, Soroban. Truly, we are blessed to have befriended such a clever and industrious merchant!

Soroban: Oh, you are much too kind, good sir!

Soroban: I know not where your path may lead, but I wish you the very best, and hope that we shall meet again.

[Soroban departs.]

Lyse: So we’ve finally arrived in Othard. All we need to do now is, uh…liberate Doma.

Alisaie: Ah, yes…that.Look…daunting though it is, we do have one thing in our favor:  the element of surprise. Unlike in Gyr Abania, the imperials don’t know we’re here.

Alisaie: Admittedly, that may be our only advantage, considering how few of us there are…

Lyse: Well, I expect the Doman Liberation Front will even up the odds a bit. But before all that, we need to see if this is the fishing village Tansui was talking about.

Gosetsu: It may well be. I smell ceruleum on the breeze…

[The group runs toward the fishing village. On the outskirts, they stop behind a rock outcropping to take stock. There are Imperial soldiers patrolling the village.]

Alisaie: Even accounting for the rebellion, such indiscriminate shows of force seem pointlessly excessive…

 Gosetsu: If only you knew how commonplace such scenes have become. Hmm… Are we too late?

Lyse: Over there─someone’s coming!

[It’s Grynewaht and the Viceroy of Doma, Lady Yotsuyu.]

Gosetsu: …It is she! Sworn enemy of Doma─of my master! The traitor who sold her homeland to the Garleans─Yotsuyu!

Lyse: The viceroy herself. And look─behind her! Isn’t that…?

Yotsuyu: Filth and squalor everywhere I look. How very Doman.What I wouldn’t do for a drink…

 Yotsuyu: Come now, you’ve no reason to look so afraid! You have lived through a quarter of a century of Garlean rule, remember?

 Yotsuyu: ‘Tis better to bend with the wind than stand tall and be broken.Therein lies…hope. Therein lies freedom.

Yotsuyu: I come before you today seeking affirmation. A heartfelt declaration. You are free to answer me as you see fit─yet even the least among you should know the correct response. Should.

[A Kojin of the Red throws a Doman youth on the ground in front of Yotsuyu.]

Yotsuyu: A resident of your village─one of your neighbors, mayhap your friend─was detained by the Kojin this morning. They say he was attempting to flee to Kugane, but we both know that simply isn’t true, don’t we? Have you anything to say?

Yotsuyu: …A bit slow, this one. Is there anyone more sensible among you? Have any of you anything to say? To swear?

[Another Doman man steps forward.]

Isari Youth: M-My lady, I…I swear to serve the Empire! To do…whatever is asked of me…and never disobey…

Yotsuyu: Well said that man. Of course…it wouldn’t do to simply take you at your word.

[Yotsuyu holds out a pistol.]

Yotsuyu: Kill him. Surely you can do that much? He must be guilty of something or other, or he wouldn’t have attempted to flee the Empire.

[The Doman man takes the pistol.]

Isari Youth: I…I have a family… Kami forgive me… Kami forgive me…

[He fires the pistol. The Doman prisoner falls.]

Yotsuyu: Very, very good! I’ve always had a soft spot for men like you.

Yotsuyu: Next, I want you to shoot those two over there. Too old to work, you understand─a burden on the Empire, and we can’t have that.

Isari Youth: But…they’re my parents. You can’t expect me to…

[He turns and points the pistol at the Viceroy. The Imperial guards gun him down.]

 [“…We will show them no mercy.”]

Alisaie: Stop and think for a moment! If you go charging in now, every one of those villagers is as good as dead!

Alisaie: We must consider the wider picture. If we act recklessly, we risk alerting the Garleans to our presence here, making it that much harder for us to work with the local rebels─to say nothing of the reprisals ordinary civilians would be made to suffer.

Gosetsu: Open your eyes, girl─they are already suffering! Let me go─I am putting an end to this madness!

Gosetsu: I will approach the village alone and identify myself. As a former leader of the rebellion and a known fugitive, they will wish to detain me until they are certain they have learned all I know. Use this time to make your plans!

Lyse: You saw what those monsters did to the villagers! Who knows what they’ll do to you─assuming they don’t kill you where you stand!

Gosetsu: We live and die at the pleasure of the kami. My fate is in their hands, and no other’s. If it be of any comfort, I am no stranger to chains.

Lyse: You can’t expect us to stand idly by as a comrade goes marching off to his death! And this is nothing like Kugane!

Alisaie: …Nor is it like the Reach, Lyse─or the Wall. Let him go.

 Alisaie: Hold out for as long as you can, but remember: noble sacrifices are to remain an absolute last resort. I wish I could say it won’t come to that, but only the gods know how we’re going to get you and the others out in one piece. A miracle, perchance…

Gosetsu: A great tower stands to the north and east. Look to its occupants for aid and succor. Together, you may yet find your miracle.

Gosetsu: Now, leave this place. I must go.

[Gosetsun runs up the beach toward the village.]

[Yotsuyu picks up the pistol and points it at the dead man’s elderly parents.]

Yotsuyu: Tsk tsk… Another idiot like all the rest. I’m beginning to think it may be something fundamental, something intrinsic, something quintessentially Doman to ignore the simple truth:  you can’t do a damn thing if you’re dead.

[She starts to pull the trigger.]

Gosetsu: Enough, Yotsuyu!

[Yotsuyu looks up.]

Yotsuyu: Well now…this is a surprise.

Gosetsu: Hear me, Yotsuyu:  cease this farce, here and now, and I shall surrender myself to you. Refuse, and all shall answer to my blade.

[Yotsuyu smiles and lowers the pistol.]

Yotsuyu: …Bring him to the tavern.

 [Back on the beach]

Alisaie: I hate it as much as you. Maybe even more. Every fiber of my being was crying out to intervene, but…

Alisaie: But what’s done is done. Gosetsu’s gamble has gifted us the time we need to find a solution.

Alisaie: He bade us seek aid at the distant tower, yes? For want of a better idea, I say we do just that─while taking care to avoid the imperials.

[A quick swim across the bay to another beach.]

Alisaie: We seem to have evaded their patrols so far…

Lyse: What is that tower, anyway? I’ve never seen anything like it.

Alisaie: According to my map, we are on Onokoro, and the tower is known as Heaven-on-High. A mysterious structure built long ago by persons unknown…

Alisaie: Oh gods, listen to me. I’m starting to sound like Alphinaud. Next thing you know, I’ll be saying things like, “As you are doubtless already aware…”

Alisaie: Hm? Over there! Do you see it?

[There’s a dead walrus-thing full of arrows on the beach.]

Lyse: Hmm… Doesn’t look like it’s been dead long.

Lyse: Whoever did this, they’re a good shot. I can’t see a single stray arrow.

[A strange grunting sound is heard.]

Lyse: Well, someone’s hungry! Wait…that wasn’t either of you two, was it.

[Nope. Three of the ugly walrus-things, these ones alive, are coming up the beach at us.]

Alisaie: Calm down! We had nothing to do wi─Wait, what am I doing? They can’t possibly understand us.

Lyse: Probably not, no…

Alisaie: Time to run, Lyse! We save our strength for any that give chase! You too, Auric!

[FIGHT! With ugly walrus-things! Then we move on down the beach.]

Lyse: Just imagine if they’d taken us by surprise. What a fine ending that would have been to our story…

Lyse: Anyway, I think it’s safe to assume that the people at the tower know how to defend themselves. You’d have to, sharing an island with these things. Now all we need to do is convince them to help us!

[At the village of Onokoro]

Lyse: Ohh…there’s a settlement here! And they’ve even got their own aetheryte.

Lyse: Wait a minute… I’ve seen that standard before. It was when we met with Tansui. Which means this place belongs to… Oh.

Alisaie: It would seem we have found a Confederate settlement─mayhap even their headquarters, judging by the size of the place.

Alisaie: So Gosetsu bade us seek out the Confederacy for aid and succor. The selfsame Confederacy that refuses to openly oppose the Empire.

Alisaie: …Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose… At the very least, they’re unlikely to ask us for the tithe.

[Look who’s here. It’s Tansui.]

Tansui: What wind brings you hither, of all places? Were you not bound for Othard’s shores?

Tansui: …I see. I trust you have not forgotten our previous conversation on the subject? No? Then what do you want, a second opinion? Very well.

Tansui: Come with me. I will take you to the captain─Rasho.

Alisaie: …Just like that? An audience with their leader? How very accommodating. We must needs choose our words carefully.

Lyse: You leave it to me! I’ve always been good with people. And this will also give me a chance to use the eastern greeting they showed me in Revenant’s Toll!

[Up the stairs to meet Captain Rasho. He’s a Roe in a blue kimono.]

Lyse: Greetings! Y-You must be Rasho, leader of the Confederacy and…so on… I realize this is all a bit sudden, but…the thing is…we have a little favor to ask…

Lyse: …Oh gods, I’ve probably broken half a dozen rules of Far Eastern etiquette already… Well, I’m sorry about that, but you have to understand that we’re in a hurry, so…I’m going to stop talking now.

 Rasho: …Men who revere manners and tradition can be found the world over. But not here.

Rasho: Your candor is appreciated. Speak your heart.

[The Warrior of Light explains the situation.]

Rasho: …Gosetsu. A former leader of the rebellion. Aye, I know of him.

Rasho: Why he bade you petition us for aid and succor, however, I know not.

Tansui: At the risk of repeating myself, to join the Confederacy is to renounce all other ties. We are beholden to none─allied with none.

Tansui: When Doma was invaded by the Empire twenty-five years ago, we did not rush to her defense. Knowing this, do you honestly expect us to help you drive the imperial forces out of Isari?

Tansui: The Garleans have long maintained a presence in this region, and we would be fools to break the peace, fragile as it is. Besides, you are capable warriors, yes? With guile and preparation, you can surely resolve this matter yourselves.

Alisaie: It is imperative that our presence here remain secret for as long as possible. For us to openly engage the imperials at this time would endanger everything we have come here to achieve!

Rasho: You have told us why you cannot fight. Not why we should fight in your stead.

Rasho: If you would speak to me of lives saved, I would speak to you of slaughter. How many will die when all pretense is lost and the Garleans declare war on the Confederacy?

Rasho: …Hate is a luxury we cannot afford.You are free to come and go as you please, but you will receive no further aid.

Alisaie: Thank you for your hospitality. If you would excuse us.

Lyse: Hey, Auric… I know that didn’t go well, but I’m not prepared to give up on them yet.

Lyse: Gosetsu told us to come here for a reason. He must have believed we could convince them to help us… We just have to work out how.

Alisaie: My thoughts exactly. I’m glad to hear we’re of the same mind.

Alisaie: ‘Tis little wonder they refused─we have done naught to persuade them. The real work begins now.

Alisaie: We need to learn more about the Confederacy─what their needs and weaknesses are. Once we know that, we will know how to earn their trust.

 [The arms and armor have been piled up haphazardly. They display no signs of recent use or maintenance…]

[A number of crates and barrels have been stored here. On closer inspection, however, most are empty…]

Nawashiro: Hm? Taken an interest in the ship? Heh, good eye! She’s not much to look at now, but once upon a time, she was a beauty!

Nawashiro: The Confederacy favors flotillas of smaller ships to capture and board errant vessels. The larger ones, like this sekibune, only take part in major engagements.

Nawashiro: …Not that we’ve had any of those recently, what with those imperial bastards throwing their weight around. If it wasn’t for them… Well, no use moaning about what you can’t change, eh?

Alisaie: Had a good look around? Then we just need to wait for Lyse.

Lyse: Sorry to keep you waiting, but I wanted to talk to as many people as I could…

Lyse: It’s just as Tansui said. They have no intention of standing up to Yotsuyu.

Lyse: I don’t know if you two got a different impression…

[“Under the right circumstances, they might help us.”]

Alisaie: I agree. It’s obvious that they are struggling to survive, and that they blame the imperials for their recent troubles.

Alisaie: Even if we do nothing, it is inevitable that they will come into conflict with the Empire sooner or later─and deep down, they all know it.

Alisaie: The only thing holding them back at the moment is the belief that they lack the strength to survive the coming war.

Lyse: So we need to prove to them that we’re not all talk─that we can be valuable allies in the fight!

 Alisaie: And what better way to demonstrate our worth than by…seeking out people with mundane problems and offering them our expert assistance?

Lyse: Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to earn someone’s trust by helping them out with this and that. And you know it won’t be the last.

Lyse: I’ll look around the western end of Onokoro. You two take the east. Good luck!

[Looking for people to help on the east side of the village.]

Afumi: Kami take me! What kind of pirate cannot suffer the sway of the ocean!?

Afumi: Hm? A new recruit from far-flung shores? Listen well─I have a task for you.

Afumi: Go first to Aokumo below and receive of him medicine for men of the earth.

Afumi: Then to Quickscape Pier and the hapless Doman bemoaning his wretched fate. Quickly!

Aokumo: Come at the behest of Afumi for medicine? My very best is yours for the taking.

 Aokumo: How pitiful the lot of this Doman unable to stomach the sea. A true Confederate could raid a dozen ships while in his cups. Mayhap this one should return whence he came.

Seasick Doman Recruit: Uuugh… Why does it shift and shudder still…

Seasick Doman Recruit: Medicines!? Give them here! They may look down on me for resorting to such measures, but I would do aught to render the world stable and motionless once more.

Seasick Doman Recruit: You are kind, as is Afumi. You may tell her that I will return to my duties as soon as I am able.

Afumi: …The Doman was raised in the mountains of his homeland. The first time he saw the sea was after he fled his homeland and came to us.

Afumi: He tosses and turns in his sleep, and when he takes to the water, it is not long before he can no longer stand.

Afumi: But he will grow accustomed to this life. He is hardly the first, after all. The captain too was once of Doma, though he cast all aside twenty and five years ago, when the imperials took his lands and the lives of his parents and brothers.

 Afumi: Perhaps you too will renounce your ties and join us someday? Aye, I mistook you for a recruit before, but I know your tale now. Tansui unfolded all.

Afumi: Think on my offer, Westerner. You may find small joys in the land, but the sea holds salvation.

 

Kajika: You strike me as a strong and capable individual. I’ve a job for you, Westerner, if you are courageous as well.

Kajika: On the beach far to the west lies the carcass of a gyuki, feathered with arrows. I would have you go and retrieve those which may still be of use.

Kajika: While you are about it, I should be glad if you were to butcher its tail for meat. Very good meat in gyuki tails, you know.

Kajika: But I did say you would need be a courageous sort, and I meant it. The beast was young. Do not be surprised if an angry mother mourns its child.

Kajika: You have been away for some time─perhaps in search of a young gyuki corpse?

Kajika: I see I did not misjudge you! Thank you for your help. Would that I could have tended to my own kill, but such is life…

Kajika: A pity the meat is not as delicious as it is nutritious. Under normal circumstances, we would not bother hunting gyuki as game, but as you may have heard, these are not normal circumstances.

Kajika: Arrows too must be reused when possible. A prudent measure become necessary, alas. With every passing day our future grows more uncertain…

Kajika: But this day we shall have full bellies, and in that must we take solace. And wayward travelers need not risk the ire of vengeful gyuki by wandering near my neglected kill.

Kajika: A strange sigh passes your lips. Have I said something odd? No matter─ Thank you again for your aid!

 

Aranami: You there─aye, you. Have you seen a bumbling clod of an Au Ra? A new recruit I ordered to patrol the northern edge of Onokoro. He is late in returning.

Aranami: A strange boy he was, quiet and brooding. Reluctant to speak unless spoken to first. Better that than a fool who never holds his tongue, perhaps.

Aranami: Much as I would enjoy dragging him back by the ear, I cannot. Duty compels me to remain. You, on the other hand, have no such obligations…

Confederate Recruit: Who…who are you? You do not look like a man of the Confederacy.

Confederate Recruit: …Forgive me. ‘Twas but yesterday we bid farewell to one of our own, and I worried that she might have lost her way.

Confederate Recruit: We laid her to rest in a boat and pushed her out till the current claimed it. For the sea is our home, now and ever after.

Confederate Recruit: But those sent thither with burdened hearts may drift back to shore, it is said…

Confederate Recruit: Out of concern for her comrades, she strove to earn far more than her keep. She hunted rare and deadly game in treacherous waters, and lost her life for it.

 Confederate Recruit: But my vigil is ended─her vessel has not returned to Onokoro! She has made peace with this life and placed her faith in us to live on…

Aranami: So, what of my recruit? Did you find him napping on the beach or some such?

Aranami: What? All this time he was standing watch for the funerary vessel? Huh…

Aranami: So rarely does he give voice to his thoughts. I had no idea our comrade’s death had affected him so. Too quick was I to judge him.

Aranami: It is good that you went in my stead, else I might have misspoken and made a fool of myself. Please accept this as a token of my gratitude.

 

Hirase: You’ve been busy, haven’t you? And now you’re here to ask if I need help with anything? Heh, now that you mention it…

Hirase: Lately we’ve had trouble with ravenous sharks that’ve been leaping out of the water and making off with our fish. Damnedest thing, I know, but you wouldn’t doubt it if you saw it.

Hirase: We’ve got to cull the thieving bastards regularly─so happens I sent three of my mates out there before you came along. Still, the more the merrier. If you can kill four or so, that ought to be enough.

Hirase: Take a few of those rotting fish as bait. I’ll not be needing them. Oh, and maybe see if you can’t find the other group. They’ve been away longer than I like.

 

Industrious Pirate: Oh, kami be praised! I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come along.

Industrious Pirate: My partners and I got separated when we fled. You haven’t seen them, have you?

Industrious Pirate: Damn… Before the Kojin started chasing us, their leader asked us if we were Doman…

Industrious Pirate: They’re Yotsuyu’s catchers, I know it! First Isari, and now this! I’ve got to tell Rasho and the others!

 

Alisaie: Ah, there you are, Auric. I heard you went shark hunting?

Alisaie: We too did our fair share of beast culling─though I think Lyse made a stronger impression when she bested a drunken pirate in a sparring match. Fastest knockout to date, I am told.

Alisaie: I should like to think we have proven ourselves to be rather─ Hm. Why do I get the feeling you have something important to tell me?

Alisaie: Kojin mercenaries rounding up Doman Confederates? Surely Yotsuyu has crossed the line now…

Alisaie: We must go and speak with Rasho immediately. Even he cannot deny that this changes everything.

Alisaie: At least, I should like to think that he cannot…

Tansui: Our most compassionate acquaintances return. For your deeds, we owe you many thanks.

Tansui: …But something tells me our thanks are not sufficient. The strange thing is, I was certain you understood our position. And yet here you are with that same look in your eyes─and those same words upon your lips, I’ll wager.

Alisaie: I speak only the truth. The Confederacy will not be spared Yotsuyu’s wrath. You have always known this─that one day you would have no choice but to stand up to the Empire. I say to you that day is today, and come once more to ask that you join us in the fight.

Tansui: How convenient that recent events should lend such credence to your claims. Tell me, do death and destruction always follow in your wake?

Rasho: They had no part in it, Tansui. You know this. We all know this.

Rasho: They came and took our Doman brothers. They will torture them for her sport─murder them for her satisfaction.

Rasho: So we attack, and get butchered for our trouble…or do naught, and let them have their pound of flesh.

Rasho: If this be our choice, I say we suffer the ignominy. We endure. We survive. There is no better path.

Rasho: Until the day our enemy is grown weaker, and we stronger, there can be no retribution. We will wait for a sign. Such is the judgment of the Confederacy.

Lyse: So that’s it, then. You’re just going to abandon them. To her.

Lyse: They’d die for you, you know─for the Confederacy. They would die for you, but you wouldn’t even think to risk your lives for theirs!

[Rasho and Tensui clench their fists.]

Alisaie: I have one last idea, if you will allow. I’m afraid it’s not very good as ideas go─it’s exceedingly reckless, in fact, and you may well come to despise me for ever having suggested it. Assuming we survive, that is.

Alisaie: The question being: do you trust me?

[“Do you even need to ask?”]

Lyse: We can’t stand by and let innocent people suffer─here or anywhere else. I’ll do whatever it takes.

Alisaie: Then let us roll the dice.

[Alisaie steps forward to address Captain Rasho.]

Alisaie: If it’s a sign you want, we shall give you one. One rousing enough to make you drive every Garlean out of Isari without a second thought.

Alisaie: You are wary of invoking the ire of the imperial forces stationed in Doma, correct?

Alisaie: Know then that once we have rescued our comrade and freed Isari, we mean to liberate the nation as a whole.

Alisaie: You will doubtless require assurances that we are capable of achieving this─and that is only fair. Accordingly, we shall demonstrate our seriousness by depriving the Garleans of a key ally:  the Kojin.

Tansui: What, the three of you? Just like that?

[The Warrior of Light steps forward.]

Alisaie: Actually, my esteemed colleague here will attend to it on his own. But the how of it is not your concern─only the outcome.

Alisaie: If we succeed, you help us liberate Isari. If we fail, you lose nothing. A simple enough wager─if you have the stones for it.

Tansui: The little miss does make it hard to refuse, does she not?

Rasho: Words are air. We will weigh you by your deeds.

 

Rasho: So. Alone you will deal with the Kojin.

Rasho: If you are set upon this course, I shall give to you a word of advice.

Rasho: Two factions have the Kojin. The mercenaries who serve the Empire belong to the Red.

Rasho: Those who belong to the Blue are the traders. They have made no pact with the imperials, and so may be willing to aid your cause.

Rasho: Seek the Blue on the Isle of Bekko. There you will find a cave. The rest is up to you.

Alisaie: Thank you, Captain. We shall endeavor not to keep you waiting overlong for your sign.

Alisaie: Right, then. Let us head for─ Wait, where is Lyse? We cannot leave without her.

[She’s down at the docks.]:

Lyse: Hm? Auric? What is it?

Lyse: Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to wander off. I…I just wanted to have a think.

Alisaie: You’re worried we won’t be able to live up to our promises?

Lyse: No, it’s not that at all! If anything, I’m frustrated that I didn’t think of it first…

Lyse: Yda and my father had a way with words. They knew how to inspire people─how to bring them together. I always hoped I might have something of that in me too, but I’m starting to think I don’t.

Lyse: What am I even doing here…?

Alisaie: …Lyse, you─

Lyse: Gods, listen to me! I don’t know where that came from. Forget I said anything!

Lyse: We have places to go, imperials to fight, and friends to save! And we’re not going to get any of it done by standing around here moaning, right?

Lyse: …Right?

Alisaie: …Before we first traveled to Gyr Abania, I was in Limsa Lominsa, visiting…visiting a friend. A young child who had been through a great deal.

Alisaie: …That’s neither here nor there, I suppose. Anyway, on the way back, I passed a patisserie which sold some of the most exquisite-looking tarts I had ever seen. I’ve always preferred cookies, to be honest, but nevertheless I decided to stop and try one…

Alisaie: …I’ll treat you to one, when all this is over. Auric too─and I won’t take no for an answer.

Lyse: What about Y’shtola? We’d never hear the end of it!

Alisaie: All right, all right─Y’shtola too, once she’s better. Deal? Good. Then let’s hurry, shall we? We have a million things to do before then!

 [A refreshing swim out to Bekko Island]

Alisaie: I think this is the Isle of Bekko─though, to be honest, it looks the same to me as however many other islands around here…

Alisaie: Rasho said there was a cave that would lead us to their village. We should search further inland.

 [Hey there’s a cave.]

Alisaie: Is that light I see up ahead?

Alisaie: We, uh…appear to be standing inside a giant bubble. By the Twelve…I think we’re on the seabed!

Soroban: Well, well! I thought I heard familiar voices.

Lyse: Soroban? What are you doing here?

Soroban: Hmm? What a curious question. I live here.

Lyse: Then this is the home of the Blue Kojin?

Soroban: Just so. I bid you welcome to Tamamizu!

Alisaie: How fortunate that we should find a familiar face in this place…

Alisaie: We should tell Soroban about our situation. If anyone here can help us, it’s him!

Soroban: So tell me, my friends─what strange tides bear you to our home?

Soroban: That is indeed a most dire predicament…but perhaps an opportunity for us to craft yet another profitable arrangement!

Soroban: Very well. I shall introduce you to our leader, Bunchin. It will be up to you, however, to present your case.

Bunchin: Welcome, guests. Gratitude to you for aiding Soroban in his negotiations.

Alisaie: We thank you for your hospitality, honored elder. Pray forgive me my brevity, but I wish to discuss an urgent matter…

Bunchin: So…you seek to compel our Red brothers to forego hostilities for a time.

Lyse: That’s right. We know your two clans have your…differences, but what with you being…brothers and all, we thought you might be able to share some…secret knowledge…or something?

Bunchin: From far above, you have journeyed here in search of our wisdom. You shall have it.

Bunchin: All creation is a tapestry, through which the divine is interwoven. Kami are legion, and they can be found in the great and the small.

Bunchin: Though they come and go as they please, they favor certain vessels. The ancient. The precious. The exquisite.

Bunchin: We Kojin covet these vessels, these treasures. We go forth and bring them home, to keep them safe and bask in their divinity. They bring prosperity and joy to us and our children.

Bunchin: Yet how were we to seek these treasures above if we made enemies of the Garlean Empire, powerful and far-reaching as they are?

Bunchin: Wiser to join with them. So resolved the Red Kojin.

Soroban: Cautiously and carefully, for the Garleans are blind to the divine. Nor will they suffer their subjects to see.

Soroban: So the Red masquerade as mercenaries who seek money and power and never speak of their faith in the presence of their masters.

Soroban: To honor the divine, they deny it. A twisted and misguided path.

Bunchin: Aye, aye. Kami will not abide such foolishness, this they shall learn to their sorrow.

Bunchin: While our Red brothers live by the sword, we Blue Kojin uphold the old ways, engaging in trade and valuing peace.

Bunchin: Alas, men distinguish not between our clans, and judgment for the doings of the Red falls unjustly upon the Blue. Thus do men grow more and more reluctant to deal with us, denying us our treasures. This cannot continue!

Alisaie: On that point we are in agreement. You are willing to aid our cause, then?

Bunchin: There is a way that the Red may be driven to retreat into their shells.

Bunchin: But to share with you this knowledge is to reveal secrets of the divine. Assurances must first be had. Trust forged. A bargain struck.

Soroban: Well said, Elder! In great crises is great profit to be had!

Bunchin: Delight not overmuch in such things, Soroban.Now, tell our guests what must be done.

Soroban: As you wish!

Lyse: Well, I’ve no idea what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but so far, so good, right?

Soroban: Listen well, my friends. We require your assistance with the search for a priceless treasure:  the Yasakani-no-Magatama.

Soroban: This jewel, this most sacred of Kojin relics, was in the possession of Hingashi─until they decided to present it to the Garleans in a gesture of conciliation.

Soroban: The Red would not abide this, and so they plotted to seize the vessel bearing it to their imperial masters. Alas, though they succeeded, in the ensuing chaos the Magatama was lost to the sea.

Soroban: We wish to recover the sacred jewel before our brothers. However, were we to come into conflict with them, it would be…problematic. Therefore, we turn to you.

Lyse: So you want us to search the ocean floor for this treasure of yours? I’m not sure how we’re supposed to do that without, you know…

Soroban: Drowning? Fear not. There is a ritual I can perform to imbue your bodies with a powerful blessing. But first, you must prepare offerings for the sea.

Soroban: I require twisted ruby coral, several fist-sized sea snail shells, and a freshly harvested unkiu carapace.

Alisaie: That’s quite the shopping list. I will see to the shells, and Lyse can look for the coral. Auric, would you go and find an unkiu and relieve it of its carapace?

[One turtle-shucking coming up!]

Soroban: Well? Have you the unkiu carapace?

Soroban: How splendid they are! The kami shall be most pleased, I am sure.

Lyse: I got it! I got the ruby coral you wanted!

Alisaie: And I the sea snail shells. They’re about the size of my fist, though I realize now you may have meant yours…

Soroban: These shall more than suffice for our purpose. Next, we must make ready to present them to the sea and perform the ritual.

Soroban: Once it has been completed, you will be able to move freely through the depths and find the Yasakani-no-Magatama!

Alisaie: …Out of curiosity, how large is this sacred jewel of yours? Unless it’s far too large to be carried by the three of us, how are we supposed to even find it? The Ruby Sea is not exactly small.

Soroban: Hah hah hah! Surely you realize we have been searching this whole time? The area we wish you to explore is but a small fraction of the Ruby Sea.

Soroban: Already have we scoured most of the seabed near and within our territory, to no avail. All that remains is a region to the west.

Soroban: The shell-less of Sui-no-Sato can provide you with better guidance than we. You would do well to visit them first.

Lyse: Shell-less? You mean the Kojin aren’t the only ones living under the sea?

Soroban: Of course not! The Raen have been here as long as I can remember. Shiosai, the…overseer, I believe, can tell you more when you arrive.

Soroban: But we are getting ahead of ourselves. We have yet to carry out the ritual!

Lyse: I can hardly wait!

Soroban: Are you ready, my friends, to explore a world unlike any you have ever known?

Soroban: Then let us go to western part of the village, where the water twists and turns, and there complete our preparations for the ritual.

Alisaie: He dived into the water a moment ago and said to wait here until he returned…

Soroban: It is done. Your offerings have been given to the sea.

Soroban: The ritual can begin at last. Come and stand before me, my friends.

Soroban: Yes, yes. Listen to my words, and let all else wash away. Listen to my words, and feel them flow into your heart…at first a trickle, then a flood…

Soroban: O kami of the fathomless waters,

Of the fallen, the ascended, the flowing, and the becalmed,

Caretakers of the shallows and of the depths…

Soroban: Receive of us our meager offerings, Cleanse these ones of earth and stone, and grant them your blessing,That they might drink deep of the divine…

Soroban: The ritual is complete, my friends.You may now breathe in the depths as you would upon land.

Alisaie: Strange. I don’t feel any different. Are you sure it worked?

Soroban: …Reasonably. The blessing does have its limits, of course. While it will allow you to dwell in the depths, it will not help you traverse them.

Lyse: I can swim well enough. How about you, Alisaie?

Alisaie: Oh, like a fish. In contrast to my doggy-paddling brother.

Alisaie: Somehow, the boy just isn’t very buoyant.

Soroban: Hmm…skilled or no, your bodies are ill-suited to the sea. Your cause demands alacrity, and you shall have it.

Soroban: But first, let us take to the water.

[Alisaie dives through the wall of the bubble into the open sea]

Alisaie: Incredible… I could swear I was breathing air!

Soroban: Now, I shall summon for you noble steeds of great strength.

[Soroban summons three large manta rays]

Lyse: Wow, look at them! I bet they could take us all the way to the deepest depths of the sea!

Alisaie: And so they may─after we’ve won over the Confederacy, rescued Gosetsu, and liberated your respective homelands.

Soroban: Should you become parted from your steeds, return to me, and I shall call them again. Take care, my friends, and may the kami speed you on your way.

Lyse: We’ll find that treasure in no time! Come on!

[Diving Unlocked]

[Owing to Soroban’s blessing, you may now dive into deep water and stay submerged indefinitely.]

Lyse: This must be Sui-no-Sato, the Raen village Soroban told us about.

Lyse: Right, then! Let’s see if they can’t help us find the Kojin’s missing jewel!

Lyse: So…this is our man?

Shiosai: …Leave this place and never return. We have no need of wide-eyed wanderers.

Lyse: Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. My name is Lyse, and these are my friends, Auric and Alisaie.

Lyse: We’re looking for the overseer of Sui-no-Sato, Shiosai. That’s you, isn’t it?

Shiosai: …The Kojin of the Blue sent you hither, did they?

Shiosai: I am no overseer, nor ever would I claim to be one. I am high priest of Shisui of the Violet Tides. Shiosai.

Lyse: So you are the man we’re looking for! Great! We need your help. We’re looking for this jewel called the Yasakani-no─

Shiosai: Stop. I will hear no more.

Shiosai: We will suffer no outside troubles in our sanctuary. Especially those of would-be treasure hunters.

Isobe: <chirp> <chirp>

Shiosai: Quiet, Isobe, or there will be no dango for dinner.

Shiosai: Ahem. I can do naught to aid you. I say to you again, leave this place and never return.

Alisaie: …At the very least, sir, you might condescend to tell us of your village, and of why you are so loath to show us even the most basic courtesy.

Shiosai: …Sui-no-Sato is our sanctuary. Under the benevolent leadership of the Ruby Princess, sovereign of Shisui, we Raen enjoy humble yet fulfilling lives. But it was not always so.

Shiosai: Long ago, our forebears were driven from their ancestral lands. Beneath the waters, they sought refuge from the ravages of war, and here they flourished. All that we are─our culture, our traditions─was born of the sea. As was I.

Shiosai: Though we have engaged others in diplomacy, it has ever been with the utmost caution. Isolation and independence are essential to preserving our way of life.

Shiosai: So it was when Doma fell twenty-five years past. The Ruby Princess, in her wisdom, decreed that we would take no part. As it was, so ever shall it be.

Alisaie: Forever and ever apart…Forgive me. I understand now how highly you value your way of life, and how you will suffer none to endanger it.

Alisaie: You may be assured that we have no desire to do so. And I would hope that we have given you no cause to assume otherwise.

Shiosai: …You have not. But this changes nothing.

Shiosai: Regardless of your intentions, it is not my place to break with tradition.

Shiosai: I must consider the wishes of all who call Sui-no-Sato home. For me to defy their will and permit outsiders to remain would be a gross betrayal of my responsibilities. Please do not ask this of me.

Alisaie: …Thank you for your time, sir.

Alisaie: And so it continues. Another village, another deaf ear.

Alisaie: Clearly, Gyr Abania is not the only place with walls.

Alisaie: I’m starting to wonder if this was all a huge mistake. Gosetsu couldn’t have known we would take this long. I only hope he’s still alive…

 [Meanwhile in the tavern in Isari]

[Grynewaht is beating a bound Gosetsu]

Yotsuyu: I tire of this filthy tavern and its still filthier clientele.

Gosetsu: ‘Tis scant reward for your treachery, aye. A painted woman of your rich experience deserves a better class of customer.

Yotsuyu: Name-calling? Is that what we’ve been reduced to?

Gosetsu: Orphan of the Naeuri, widow of Sashihai─what joy it must have brought you to be revenged upon us all.

Yotsuyu: Not enough. Not nearly enough.

Yotsuyu: My appetite for your agony is as an abyss─bottomless. Insatiable.

Yotsuyu: Before you die, you will cry and beg and prostrate yourself upon the earth. You will crawl on your belly through the muck and the piss, and debase yourself for my amusement. All of you.

Yotsuyu: But you think you are made of sterner stuff. Hm. Rather than have him beat you, mayhap I should have my oaf go and fetch your master’s head…?

Yotsuyu: Poor, poor Lord Kaien─kami rest his soul! Noble leader of a fallen nation…A fine puppet he made for the viceroy─for a time.

Yotsuyu: Twenty-five years he was content to serve his masters as a dog. And then everyone had to rise up and get themselves killed.

Yotsuyu: Tell me, how did it feel to fail him that day?To live with the disgrace of his death.

Yotsuyu: Not that you were a stranger to living with disgrace, of course. In the, what was it, twenty-five years since you were humiliated and tossed into an imperial gaol, you had plenty of time to get used to it.

Yotsuyu: Oh yes, I heard the stories. About the samurai who would do anything to return to his master’s side─even if it meant pledging his blade to his sworn enemy. They say he walked with death─that he slew a thousand men in the Empire’s name. Truly a tale for the poets.

Gosetsu: I do not deny my sins. But I will not be reproached by the likes of you.

Yotsuyu: Oh, I mean not to reproach you, but to praise you! You’re a survivor, samurai. Just…like…me.

Yotsuyu: So let us not dwell on the past, you and I, and instead give thought to the future. To wit, I would ask you again to help me resolve this vexing matter of Doma’s missing heir.

Yotsuyu: Living or dead, it makes no difference really─but the Garleans are most insistent that we put this problem behind us, and I know you helped him flee. So, tell me:  what became of Lord Hien?

Gosetsu: To my dismay, the details escape me at present.Mayhap your dog could jog my memory?

Yotsuyu: Get on with it! And mark me, brute:  there is no limit to how far you can fall.

Grynewaht: Of all the bloody… <mumble> <mumble> When I get back to Eorzea, I’m going to find that little shite and I’m gonna make him pay…

[Back in Sui-no-sato]

Alisaie: We seem to have reached an impasse. And to make matters worse, every solution I can think of will only take more time…

Alisaie: I don’t suppose you have any ideas, do you, Auric?

[“We could ask the villagers if they know anything.”]

Alisaie: Right…

???: You are the ones who came from above, yes? If we could have a moment of your time?

Ihanami: Mine apologies. I did not mean to startle you. My name is Ihanami, and this is my wife Yunagi.

Ihanami: We were wondering… Have you any news from Doma? If so, we should like very much to hear it.

Alisaie: May I ask why?

Ihanami: …If you must. Our daughter fought in the rebellion. We have heard naught from her since.

Ihanami: ‘Twould be too much to hope that you know of her, but…her name is Yugiri.

Yunagi: Kami be praised! She lives! She lives…

Lyse: We’re looking for her too, actually, but I’m sure she’s all right.

Alisaie: We had no idea she hailed from Sui-no-Sato. How did she come to serve Doma as a shinobi?

Ihanami: It all began when she was a little girl. She and another child crept out of the village, having grown curious about the outside world. To Doma they went, where they met a young boy─a proud son of Yanxia.

Ihanami: His tales of imperial oppression left a lasting impression on her. When she returned, she spoke passionately of the Domans’ plight and urged us to take the boy in. But my wife and I would not hear of it.

Ihanami: We thought the matter closed, but she never forgot his words. She became convinced that the Garleans would one day come for us. And it was in search of the strength to defend us that she left, years later, to learn the ways of the shinobi…

Ihanami: When the then Ruby Princess learned of this, she forbade Yugiri’s return, lest she bring misfortune to us all.

Yunagi: We protested the judgment, but there was naught we could do. And so our daughter, who wanted only to keep her people safe…

Yunagi: Surely there is something we can do for these people? They who gave her aid and succor when no other would?

Ihanami: …I am but a humble stonemason. But if it is the Yasakani-no-Magatama you seek, I may yet be of some assistance to you.

Ihanami: The jewel is known to possess an unusual property. To the naked eye it is as jade, but when bathed in a particular light, it shimmers with a divine resplendence.

Ihanami: I have mined similar materials before. To find them, one must use these lamps.

Ihanami: They cast an invisible light, under which the stones sparkle. In the deepest depths, they are invaluable.

Ihanami: There is a sunken ship to the east. Though the currents may have spirited away her cargo, you should begin your search there.

Alisaie: Thank you so much. We will do just that!

Yunagi: I hope you find that which you seek. I only wish there were something more we could do to assist you… Know that you will be in my prayers.

Yunagi: And…when next you see our daughter, pray tell her not a day goes by that her parents and her brothers do not think of her.

Lyse: We will. I promise!

[Searching underwater.]

Alisaie: If this wreck is the selfsame vessel of which Soroban spoke, then if the gods are good, the Magatama is nearby…

Alisaie: Ready your lamp and keep your eyes open, Auric. We’re going to need to take this slowly. Move too fast and we risk overlooking something.

[To find the Yasakani-no-Magatama, you will need to search the area marked on your map.]

[Use your lamp to pinpoint the precise location of the treasure and claim it!]

Alisaie: I swear, looking for a needle in a haystack would be quicker. Gosetsu will have died of old age by the time we finish. You haven’t found anything, have you, Auric?

Alisaie: This…this is it! The Yasakani-no-Magatama, exactly as Soroban described!

Alisaie: Heh, it would seem that our fortunes have finally changed for the better!

Alisaie: Much as I would like to return and thank Yugiri’s parents for their assistance, time is of the essence. I say we make for Tamamizu at once.

Alisaie: Hold on to it for now, Auric. Once we arrive, present it to the elder, and then we can finally learn how to deal with the Red Kojin.

[Back in  Tamamizu]

Bunchin: You are returned, and with the Yasakani-no-Magatama, I trust?

Bunchin: Yes, there is no mistake. Well done, well done.

Lyse: So…about the Red Kojin. You said there was a way to make them retreat into their shells? Are you ready to tell us now?

Bunchin: I did indeed, and yes…I am.

Bunchin: For you see, divinity resides not only in material vessels, but in individuals. In laying claim to this most sacred of treasures, you have demonstrated an affinity with the divine.

Bunchin: To treat with men and women such as you is to invite fortune into our homes. Gladly will we aid your cause.

Bunchin: All is ready, Soroban? Then give them what they require.

Alisaie: This is…a ceremonial knife of some sort?

Bunchin: Before this blade, that which is sealed shall open. The treasure vault of the Kojin, on the Isle of Zekki.

Bunchin: It is there that our most prized relics, be they of the Red or the Blue, are kept safe. Fiercely do the Red guard it, for its contents are more precious than their lives.

Bunchin: Were the vault to be attacked, their response would by necessity be immediate. Kojin would be summoned from malms around to defend their treasures.

Alisaie: …And were we to sow enough chaos, the Reds in service to the imperials would have no choice but to answer the call as well.

Lyse: Giving the Confederacy the sign they’ve been waiting for! Without the Kojin, the imperials don’t have nearly enough troops in Isari to hold off the pirates.

Bunchin: However…you must understand that the vault is holy ground:  home to a thousand thousand kami. To intrude upon it without paying the proper respects is a sacrilege we cannot condone.

Lyse: So…if we were to pay the proper respects, it would be all right? Great! How do we do that, again?

Bunchin: The Yasakani-no-Magatama is one of three most coveted treasures of the Kojin. The other two lie within the vault.

Bunchin: Were you to deliver the jewel unto the others, and thereby make them whole, the kami may forgive your trespass and instead delight in your…mischief-making.

Alisaie: So…if I understand you correctly, you want us to take the sacred jewel coveted by your Red brothers and deliver it to their treasure vault?

Soroban: More or less. The Yasakani-no-Magatama belongs on the Isle of Zekki. So long as it finds its way there, we are satisfied.

Soroban: The Magatama has chosen you to bear it to its brothers. Had it not, you would never have found it. And we would not be having this conversation.

Soroban: I shall inform the Confederacy of your plans, and bid them make ready to act when the time is right.

Bunchin: The Isle of Zekki lies to the west of Sui-no-Sato. Look for a cave beneath the waters.

Bunchin: May fortune favor you in this and all other endeavors.

Alisaie: Right, then. I am not normally in the habit of sneaking into heavily guarded treasure vaults, but if this is the only way to convince the Confederacy to act, then so be it.

Alisaie: We should be prepared for a fight. The bigger the better. The kind where you’ll wish you had seven of your most battle-hardened friends at your side…

Alisaie: I don’t know about you two, but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Lyse: Me too. Let’s do this!

Alisaie: Right. Right. Naught left to say, then…

[“To the Isle of Zekki!”]

Alisaie: R-Right! Let’s go and find that cave!

Alisaie: Assuming this is the right cave, it should lead us straight into the heart of the Isle of Zekki…

Lyse: Have you got a plan for once we get to the isle?

Alisaie: Hmm… How about two of us get the guards’ attention while the third heads straight for the vault?

Alisaie: Afterwards, the other two join them there, and together we make a stand. With our numbers, it’s not feasible to do anything more complicated, I think.

Lyse: Fine by me. I like simple plans. I’ll be one of the decoys, then.

Alisaie: You read my mind. I also had a mind to ask Auric to be one, given his peerless martial prowess.

Alisaie: Then it’s settled. You two will make your way through the stronghold, creating as much chaos as possible. You know, have some fun.

Alisaie: Meanwhile, I will attempt to locate the vault and gain entry with the ceremonial knife. When I am inside, I will contact you via linkpearl.

Lyse: Right! Come on, Auric! We’ve got work to do!

 [Mischief managed]

Lyse: You’re a sight for sore eyes! I hope Alisaie’s all right too…

Alisaie: Auric, Lyse, can you hear me? I’ve found the vault!

Alisaie: Head northwest. There’s a passage leading deeper within. Hurry!

Alisaie: There you are! The entrance is straight ahead.

Alisaie: Good timing, I might add. It sounds like the whole garrison is headed straight for us…

Red Marine Commander: Thieves! Thieves! Come to steal our most precious treasures! You will pay for this sacrilege!

Lyse: That’s the spirit! Now don’t be shy─I’m more than ready for another round!

Red Marine Commander: Seize them!

???: Who…? Who hath made us whole?

Red Marine Commander: Hark! A great kami stirs… Yes, yes, a great kami of the sacred treasures!

Red Marine Commander: O great kami, we beseech your intercession! We who have guarded your blade and glass for generations─your faithful Kojin!

[“If I made you whole, it was not my intent. I but carried the trinket.”]

???: Thou didst freely deliver our jewel unto thine enemy’s own treasure vault?

???: Hah hah hah! How auspicious! We do commend thee, son of man.

???: Such audacity is deserving of celebration, exultation─a contest of wills to mark the occasion! Let lines be drawn! Let sides be chosen! And for their loyalty, we shall stand with the caretakers of our greater part.

Alisaie: Oh, perfect. A contest of wills. Just what we need.

???: Hahahaha hah hah hah! Hearken to us, shelled ones! Upon this day, your wish shall be granted!

???: Curse neither your fate nor its executor, children of man, for we are of the divine─of both heaven and earth. The ringing silence. The raging calm.

???: All riseth and falleth at the whim of capricious fortune. Assume your marks upon the stage, and embrace the coming chaos!

Susano: We are Susano, and in revelry do we rejoice!

Lyse: That…that’s a primal standing in front of us, right?

 Alisaie: And a horde of angry Kojin at our backs.<sigh> This contest is getting worse by the moment.

Alisaie: Lyse! Help me clear a path!

Alisaie: Leave them to us and save your strength. You’ll be needing it soon enough.

Lyse: Make way, make way!

Susano: Spoil not your appetite for the feast, children of man. The dish will be served, whether you will it or no! Hah hah hah hah haaah!

[FIGHT! With Susano]

Alisaie: <pant> <pant> That…that was not part of the plan! A Kojin primal was most definitely not part of the plan!

Alisaie: …Though I am sure there is a perfectly logical explanation involving the aether stored in the treasures and the religious fervor with which the Kojin guard them. Or something. <sigh> A pity Alphinaud isn’t here to provide it.

 Alisaie: And just when I thought our fortunes had changed. I swear, If Soroban and his people knew this might happen…

Alisaie: …No, somehow I doubt that. Even the Red seemed surprised by what happened.

Alisaie: All rises and falls at the whim of capricious fortune, does it? Then the same goes for him. We have to defeat that primal!

Alisaie: As before, our numbers limit our options. I wish I could claim to have a brilliant plan, but I don’t─all I have is a desperate one.

Alisaie: Lyse, you and I will do our best to draw the Kojin away from the primal. We’ll lead them on a wild-dodo chase all over this isle.

Alisaie: The rest of the plan, I’m afraid you can guess. I’m sorry, Auric, I truly am, but neither of us can even approach Susano, much less hope to defeat him. Which means you’re on your own.

Lyse: Well, who knows? He does have an awful lot of adventurer friends. Maybe some of them decided to take a fishing trip to the Far East, and are surprisingly close by…?

Alisaie: Yes, and I speak fluent Hingan. Come on, there’s no point putting this off!

 [Meanwhile off the coast of Othard]

Tansui: Nary a peep from the shellbacks, sir. It’s enough to make one wonder…

Soroban: The Red have sounded the alarum. The Isle of Zekki under attack; fierce fighting in the stronghold.

Soroban: The vault breached by outsiders, and strange tales from deep within. All this, the Red cannot ignore.

Soroban: Even now, they abandon their posts and flock to the isle. The Garleans are powerless to stop them.

[In Onokoro]

Tansui: I’ll be damned. They did it.

Tansui: Well, Captain…wagers notwithstanding, I daresay we will not have a better opportunity to drive the imperials from Isari and rescue our men.

Tansui: On the other hand, naught was put in writing… But if your mind is made up, then that is that.

Tansui: …I should add that if you were to change your mind, none would gainsay your decision, nor think you beholden to your past.

Tansui: Nor would anyone begrudge you a spot of revenge into the bargain. Like the little miss said, we knew this day would come.

Rasho: Isari may be a rotting husk, but at least the tavern keeper never watered down his drinks.

Tansui: Well said for a temperate man.

Rasho: Hear me, comrades! We made a bargain with the Eorzeans, and I mean to uphold our end of it. I mean to remind the Garleans that this is our sea─that all here belongs to the Confederacy!

Rasho: All that is theirs is ours for the taking─and take it we shall. We will strip them of everything they hold dear!

[Meanwhile in the Inn in Isari]

Grynewaht: This one is iron. My hands will break before he speaks.

Yotsuyu: Ugh, kami give me strength. Are you good at anything?

Yotsuyu: I had hoped this might prove more productive than blind inquiries, but I see you are determined to waste my time. Very well.

[She gestures toward the villagers]

 

Yotsuyu: Line them up. Kill one for every question he refuses to answer.

Gosetsu: Hurt them, and you will get naught from me!

Yotsuyu: You have given me precisely that thus far, so what have I to lose? Mark me, samurai─I will find Lord Hien, be it with your help or with your heads.

[There’s a crashing sound outside.]

???: Confederate scum! You will pay for─ Aaargh!

Hopeful Confederate: The Confederacy! They’ve come to save us!

Yotsuyu: And this after I took such pains to cow them. Even pirates have their pride, I suppose. Enough to march to their deaths, no less. Oh, the stupidity of it all…

Yotsuyu: It truly is a sickness… I shall just have to lance the boil. Drain them of every last trace of honor and compassion… Every last drop…

Grynewaht: My lady, I… I’m going outside!

[The door bursts open and Rasho lunges inside, swinging at Grynewaht and Yotsuyu]

Gosetsu: The kami are not finished with you yet…

 [Elsewhere on the islands, Lyse and Alisaie are fighting the Red Kojin]

Lyse: There’s no end to them! They just keep coming!

Alisaie: Then we must be doing something right. We have to hold out for as long as we can. He’s counting on us!

[A Kojin runs out]:

Red Marine: S-Susano is slain! Slain by the shell-less one!

[The Warrior of Light emerges from the cave.]

Lyse: Is it true? Did you defeat him?

[Yup.]:

Lyse: Well, in that case─how do you fancy helping us keep the Kojin occupied until the Confederacy make their move?

[A plume of red smoke rises into the distant sky]

Lyse: Speak of the devils─that’s coming from Isari!

Alisaie: I think we’ve done all we can here. Let’s withdraw and make for the village.

Lyse: Right! Although…they don’t seem keen to let us go…

Alisaie: Hear me, Kojin of the Red! We have no quarrel with you─only your imperial masters!

Alisaie: No more blood need be shed this day! I pray you let us go in peace!

Red Marine Commander: You dare speak to us of peace!? Your flesh will feed the fishes, thief! Attaaack!

[A Red Kojin attacks Alisaie. She one-shots him.]

Lyse: Now’s our chance! Don’t worry about her─she can handle herself!

Alisaie: I can’t let you take all the glory, can I?

 [Lyse and the Warrior of Light head to Isari]

Lyse: Wait here. I’m going back for Alisaie.

[“I’m coming with you.”]

Lyse: No. Absolutely not.

Lyse: She stayed behind so that you could escape. Even I know that.

Lyse: …I was the one who dragged you all into this. It was my fight, not yours. I knew that from the start, but I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Lyse: But I’ve asked too much and let too much happen to you all. I have to make this right─and I have to do it on my own.

Lyse: So let me go, please. I’m asking you as a friend. I have to help her!

Alisaie: You can start by finding me a towel and some bandages. Brrr…

Lyse: Alisaie!

Alisaie: What? Why are you looking at me like that? I said I was going to distract them, not make a heroic and ultimately futile last stand. Who does that, anyway?

[Lyse hugs Alisaie]

Alisaie: For the love of─ This is stupid! You’re embarrassing yourself! And me!

Lyse: Shut up and let me have this.

Lyse: Right. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Now then, we need to hurry back to Isari!

Lyse: I don’t see any soldiers… Do you think the Confederacy drove them off?

 Lyse: Something definitely happened here. I see several people who look like they might be injured. Let’s give them a hand and find out what we missed.

Alisaie: Hm? Do I need help? Oh, I’ll be fine. It’s nothing that won’t heal. You should go after Lyse.

 [In Isari]

Stupefied Senior: Thank you, my child. When the fighting started, I tried to run and hide, but fell and could not regain my feet…

Stupefied Senior: I thought for sure that we would all be slaughtered, but the pirates drove them off! I never thought I would see the day when the Confederacy came to our aid!

 

Flustered Fisher: Uwaaaaaah! Oh, you’re not an imperial. Is…is it over?

Flustered Fisher: Kami be praised! I was certain she would have us all killed and burn Isari to the ground─or kill us after making us watch, or barricade us in our homes before putting them to the torch…

 

Industrious Pirate: I remember you! You’re the one who saved me from the Doman catchers!

Industrious Pirate: Thanks to you, we managed to rescue the fishermen and my kidnapped comrades─one of whom joined the Confederacy with me long ago. It would’ve broken my heart to have had to bury him…

Industrious Pirate: Oh, and if you’re looking for the Captain, you’ll find him in the tavern.

 

Alisaie: Back already? What have you learned?

Alisaie: At the tavern, you say? In that case, we should find Lyse and speak with him together.

Tansui: My Eorzean friends! Saw the smoke, did you? A pity you did not come sooner─though I gather you were busy elsewhere.

Lyse: Gosetsu! You’re alive! You’re all alive…

Gosetsu: And full of vim and vigor, hah hah hah! Did I not tell you I was no stranger to chains?

Alisaie: The fighting cannot have lasted long. Where are all the imperials?

Rasho: Fled. They stood their ground for a time─until it became clear that their Kojin reinforcements would not be coming.

Rasho: We took some few casualties, but my deeper regret is having let Yotsuyu slip through my fingers. That bodyguard of hers may be a half-wit, but he’s a mean bastard on the battlefield.

Tansui: In any event, I imagine all involved are satisfied with this outcome. So far as the Empire is concerned, the Confederacy attacked Isari in retaliation for the viceroy’s actions─and without the aid of insurrectionists, I might add.

Tansui: Suffice it to say, we are prepared to be the subject of their undivided attention for the foreseeable future.

[“Don’t do anything reckless.”]

Rasho: Nor you. Our fates are intertwined now. If you fall, so do we.

Alisaie: Your assistance would be most welcome. Nevertheless, we shall do our utmost to spare you undue danger─we are already in your debt.

Tansui: Nay, little miss, all debts are paid. For by your deeds, many still live who elsewise would not. Let both parties count their blessings, and may fortune continue to favor us all.

Rasho: You still seek to bring freedom to our people, then? You will go to Yanxia?

Gosetsu: I have faith that our allies yet live. Once we have found them, we will plan our next step.

Rasho: Yanxia was the crucible of the rebellion. What happened here pales in comparison to what Yotsuyu did there.

Rasho: Remember this:  fear changes men. Have care in whom you place your trust.

Tansui: And with that, we must take our wounded home. Oh! Your shellback friend sends his regards, and looks forward to your next meeting. Try not to die before then, eh?

Gosetsu: You did well, Auric. Were it not for the tremendous strength and bravery of you and yours, many innocent souls would have suffered terrible fates.

Gosetsu: Though I knew the Confederacy would be loath to meet the imperials in battle, I also knew that if any could win them over, it would be you.

Gosetsu: Truly, yours is a heroic spirit that inspires men to rise above their circumstances─to strive for something greater! It will be an honor to travel with you again.

Gosetsu: Now then, let us not squander the Confederacy’s gift. Yanxia and my countrymen await!

Gosetsu: There is a tunnel to the southwest. We need but follow it to reach our destination. With me!

 [Meanwhile on a beach in Othard]

Red Marine Commander: We cannot rest here for long. This place is not safe…

Red Marine Commander: …Mayhap nowhere is, if thieves can breach our vaults. Nevertheless, it is our duty to protect these treasures, and we shall not fail for want of effort.

Yotsuyu: So this is why you abandoned your posts─and without a word of explanation at that. Rather thoughtless of you, was it not?

Red Marine Commander: Lady Yotsuyu! Pray forgive us our absence, but our home was under attack─our vaults plundered by outsiders!

Yotsuyu: Did you even pause to consider the possibility that it might be a diversion? What is the point of contracting your services if you are not here when they are required?

Yotsuyu: It is my solemn charge to bring these vermin to heel─to torment them, body and soul, until all they hold dear is as bitter ashes in their mouths. And then you go and ruin everything!

Yotsuyu: …Well, there’s naught to be gained in belaboring the point. All that remains is to administer your punishment.

Red Marine Commander: Wait! My lady!

[The screen goes black. There are loud crashes. Then we see all the Kojin dead on the sand.]

Yotsuyu: No…no, it’s no good. There’s just no joy in it. No release.

Yotsuyu: There needs to be some investment. They were negligent imbeciles deserving of punishment, but it was hardly personal. Ten thousand such Kojin could not satisfy me half so well as a single Doman.

[Yotsuyu spies an elegant decorated katana amid the bodies of the Kojin. She picks it up.]

Yotsuyu: And what do we have here? One of the vaunted treasures of the Red? The craftsmanship is certainly impressive…Mayhap we can use it to make amends.

[Grynewaht walks up.]

Grynewaht: How long before Lord Zenos reinstates me, d’you reckon? I’ve got unfinished business back in Eorzea…

Yotsuyu: Is serving me really so unbearable?At least pretend to enjoy it, you witless lump!

Yotsuyu: If you are so desperate to earn a way back to Eorzea, then be quiet and do as you’re told. And bring that sword while you’re at it!

 

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