Stormblood Text 4: Yanxia

[Lyse narrates: “I remember the silence. How the talking stopped when we first set foot on the plains of Yanxia. Before us stood yet another wall, and through a great magitek field we glimpsed Doma Castle. I’ll never forget the sight…or the anger I felt that day. Life. Liberty. Hope. So much lost, so much taken. As we walked through that war-torn land, no one said a word….”]

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Gosetsu: There she is─the humble village of Namai! How delicious her rice; how sweet her persimmons!

Gosetsu: Too long has it been since I saw her with my own eyes. And, for a mercy, the imperials appear to be absent…

Gosetsu: Let no man claim that I am reckless. Prudence has ever been my watchword! Auric─venture closer, if you would, and confirm that there are no soldiers lurking about.

Alisaie: We may be in luck. I don’t see a single imperial soldier.

Gosetsu: Then there is no need to remain hidden. Let us go and greet them as friends.

Lyse: I’m going too!

[Gosetsu walks into the village]

Gosetsu: Good people of Namai, hearken to me! We come in peace and desire only information─to learn of recent events!

Namai Farmwife: Isn’t that the general?

Namai Farmhand: Lord Gosetsu!? Kami preserve, you’re right! He lives!

Gosetsu: I say, brothers and sisters, is aught amiss? Why do you regard me as one would a wild beast? Why is there fear in your eyes? Why do you tremble so?

Gosetsu: Ahhh, but of course! You fear me a vengeful spirit of the dead! Rest assured, naught could be further from the truth. For am I not corporeal? Are my feet not firmly set upon the ground? Hah hah!

Namai Farmwife: What should we do? If they catch him here, you know what will happen…

Namai Farmhand: Of all the times for him to turn up─ Has the old fool lost his mind?

[A Namai youth approaches Gosetsu]

Flustered Youth: You! But… Why have you come here? What do you want from us?

Gosetsu: I know not who you are to speak thus to your elders, boy, but mine only desire is to be received with the hospitality owed a humble traveler─not the fear and trepidation one might afford a wrathful shade!

Flustered Youth: What? What are you going on about? Actually, never mind.Just come with me─now!

[A short distance from the village]

Namai Youth: I don’t know who you people think you are, but do you have any idea what would happen to us if you were found in our village!?

Gosetsu: Again you address us with unwarranted spite! I have let your impropriety pass until now, but no longer!

Gosetsu: Who are you, boy, to speak to me thus? Know you not who I am?

Isse: I am Isse of Namai─a farmer, like my father before me, and his father before him. I wouldn’t expect a man like you to know who I am─but I know you. We all do!

Isse: Lord Kaien’s retainer and leader of the rebellion─Gosetsu! Notorious fugitive, wanted dead or alive by the Empire!

Gosetsu: Hah hah hah hah hah! Is that what this is all about?

Gosetsu: I am hardly the first man to earn the ire of the Empire. Nor will I be the last.

Gosetsu: Was not Namai home to brave and true warriors, who fought beneath our banners for king and country?

Isse: They fought, and they died. Every last one. And then the imperials came looking for more. Because of them.

Isse: They were this close to killing us all─to burning our village to the ground. We’ve only just begun to enjoy some semblance of peace…

Isse: Never again─never again, do you understand!? We’ve had enough of you and yours! Whatever it is you’re plotting, leave us out of it!

[Isse runs off]

Gosetsu: …Hmm. Impassioned as his pleas may be, surely he must know that I cannot leave things as they are.

Gosetsu: But for now, I shall respect his wishes. We must continue on towards our final destination─the House of the Fierce. Proud headquarters of the Doman Liberation Front.

Gosetsu: There is a secret entrance to the north of Namai, by way of a small spring. Come─I will show you!

[By the spring]

Gosetsu: This way, this way! We must dive into the water!

Gosetsu: Have no fear, Auric! It is but a short distance. You need not hold your breath for long!

[Splash! There is a hidden tunnel at the bottom of the spring leading into a spacious cave complex.]

Gosetsu: <pant> <pant> Hah hah hah! How invigorating!

Gosetsu: Congratulations, my friends! You are come to the House of the Fierce!

Liberation Front Guard: You are Auric Seagard, are you not? We were told of your coming.

Liberation Front Guard: Heroes of Eorzea, we of the Doman Liberation Front are honored to receive you. If you would be so good as to follow me…

Lyse: This is the House of the Fierce? But there are so few of them…

Gosetsu: Many kindred spirits remain in hiding following the rebellion. Many others gave their lives for their nation. We are the stubborn remainder.

Gosetsu: Even accounting for our comrades in the field, we are at a fraction of our former strength, ’tis true. Yet we few are patriots─brothers-in-arms, prepared to fight with every fiber of our being to set our people free.

[We hear a familiar voice]

Yugiri: Ever are we hopeful that others will join our cause. But never did I dream that you would journey so far.

Lyse: Yugiri! Gods, it’s good to see you! You look great, by the way! Have you been here long?

Yugiri: I returned but recently, having concluded my mission. Oh, it is good to see you again, my friends.

Gosetsu: Did I hear aright? Your mission is concluded?Then you have found the young master?

Yugiri: Ere we speak of that, I would know by what fortuitous circumstance our friends came to be here.

[We bring Yugiri up to speed on recent events.]

Yugiri: The Empire’s crimes are all too familiar. Lyse─my heart goes out to your people.

Lyse: We wanted to stay and fight, believe me, but we knew it wouldn’t work. We needed more time to rebuild─and more allies to stand with us against the Empire.

Lyse: So we decided to come here and help you free Doma. To show you─to show everyone─that you’re not alone, and that the Garleans can be beaten, if we work together. I’d like to think we proved that in the Ruby Sea…

Yugiri: That you did, Lyse, and far more besides. Needless to say, your assistance would be most welcome.

Gosetsu: Hear, hear! Now then, Yugiri─you must tell me of your search for our master!

Yugiri: Lest you wonder, he speaks of Lord Hien, son of Lord Kaien, who perished during the rebellion.

Yugiri: When it became clear that all hope of victory had gone, Lord Hien bade us deliver as many of our people as we could to safety beyond our borders. But as his father’s heir, he was determined to fight on, and so he did─until he suffered a grievous wound in battle and vanished without a trace…

Yugiri: Until now. For I have found Lord Hien─seen and spoken with him.On the Azim Steppe.

Gosetsu: O boundless and merciful kami, the young master lives! Tell me, was he well? Did his wound yet ail him? Where is he now? Have you brought him back to us!?

Yugiri: You may take comfort in the knowledge that he is hale and whole. However, when I invited him to return with me to Doma, he had this to say…

Yugiri: “If Doma yet thirsts for the blood of patriots and tyrants, I shall offer unto her my blade. But if she has had her fill of bitter draughts, I shall offer unto her conquerors my head.“

Yugiri: Thrice did I declare to him that no true son or daughter of Doma would ever accept such a sacrifice. But for all my passion, he would not be swayed.

Yugiri: “Learn the truth of her heart and return to me,“ he said. And so I left him.

Gosetsu: The words of one made to wear the mantle of leadership too soon…

Gosetsu: Yet there is wisdom in them all the same. If the people no longer yearn to be free, ‘twould be folly to rekindle the fires of war.

Yugiri: To suffer our master to surrender his life and forsake all hope of freedom is by far the greater folly. I will not go to face my fallen comrades having done naught to stop it.

Gosetsu: Nor I, shadow walker, nor I. But we need not rouse our comrades to battle this day. Let us instead welcome our honored guests and allow them a moment of respite.

 [Talking to people in the House of the Fierce]

Gosetsu: Mayhap a brief respite is in order. Were I twenty years younger, these wounds would not warrant a second glance. Alas, no samurai has the strength to defeat that villain Old Age.

Gosetsu: But what say you to the House of the Fierce? Compared to your Rising Stones, I concede it may seem somewhat lacking…

Gosetsu: But it has been a haven these past ten years to all who would set Doma free.

Gosetsu: Regrettably, our efforts in that time have come to little and less…

Gosetsu: <sigh> When the Emperor died, we were so sure the hour of our liberation was at hand. But Zenos soon put paid to that, with the aid of Yotsuyu and the secrets she sold.

Lyse: You should hear this, Auric. He was just telling me about Zenos and the rebellion.

Liberation Front Infantry: What you have to understand is that it was not a simple matter of numbers. The bulk of the XIIth never even took the field. It was Zenos’s stratagems that won the war. They were unlike anything we had ever seen.

Liberation Front Infantry: His formations were unorthodox─bewildering. We honestly thought we had him on the back foot. One moment we were pressing home our advantage, the next we were surrounded and at his mercy.

Liberation Front Infantry: And then he stood before us, his cornered prey. Alone and unarmed. He beckoned us to come forward and fight for our lives.

Liberation Front Infantry: One by one, my comrades charged. Fearless and unflinching, he would dance amidst their blades for a time, and then draw close, as if to embrace…

Liberation Front Infantry: One…after…another. He made us watch. Do you understand? He made us watch.

Lyse: What kind of monster enjoys killing people?

Liberation Front Infantry: …I do not think there was any joy in it. Nor justice, nor morality, nor meaning. To him, the weight of one life is no different from that of a thousand.

Liberation Front Infantry: A challenge had been issued and was accepted. But on finding us no challenge at all, his objective changed.

Liberation Front Infantry: There were tales of imperial soldiers being flayed for slaughtering families. For breaking brave men’s spirits. Only later did I come to understand why. He did not desire obedience. He desired hate…and men consumed by it.

Liberation Front Infantry: A new battle. A new enemy. A new challenge.The hunt, I am told he called it. A hunt without end.

Liberation Front Infantry: And when all our best lay dead and broken, he left.He left, muttering that we had “bored” him.

Liberation Front Infantry: But our weapons, at least, held his interest. For he took a fallen samurai’s sword, having grown…fond of it.

Liberation Front Infantry: Since that day, he has ever wielded Far Eastern blades. He is said to be fascinated by ones with storied histories, and so soldiers who seek to curry his favor often present those of defeated enemies as gifts.

Lyse: It’s like it’s all a game to him. People are suffering─dying─and he’s collecting swords?

Liberation Front Infantry: …We all feel the same. But my lady, you must understand…

Liberation Front Infantry: On the battlefield, reasons do not matter. The victor is not the just, but the strong, and the strong become the heroes of the tale. We were not strong enough.

Liberation Front Infantry: It is not sufficient to be right. To be just. Without strength, our path has but one end…

 

Alisaie: As you can see, they went to great lengths to disable the aetheryte. Apparently, in the twilight days of the rebellion, they feared that Zenos would be willing to risk sending unattuned conscripts.

Alisaie: That said, it is hardly irreversible. They have the necessary materials. It would be a challenge to repair it alone, but mayhap with my brother’s help…

 

Yugiri: Auric. I do hope you have taken this opportunity to rest and recover.

Yugiri: It is well that you spoke with one of the survivors of that massacre. To defeat one’s foe, one must first understand his true nature.

Yugiri: As the Ala Mhigan Resistance has struggled, so too has the Doman Liberation Front. More so, perhaps, given the precarious position in which we find ourselves in the wake of our doomed rebellion.

Yugiri: We are few, and our enemies legion. We are weak, and they strong. Yet with your help, I believe that there is little we cannot achieve… I only hope the depth of our predicament has not shaken your commitment to our cause.

[“Never. Victory will be ours!”]

Yugiri: Aye, that it will. With the hero of Eorzea on our side, we cannot lose!

Yugiri: Now then, I should be glad to discuss our next course of action─

Yugiri: Though now that I think on it, I myself have been away from Doma for some time, and even after my return, the search for Lord Hien commanded my full attention…

Yugiri: Mayhap it would be to both our benefit if we were to see the reality of Doma for ourselves. For did my lord not bid me learn the truth of her heart?

Yugiri: Let us do this together, Auric. Let us go among the people and with our own eyes bear witness to their hardship.

Yugiri: As a foreigner in these lands, your reputation does not precede you. Moreover, unlike Gosetsu, I can accompany you without attracting unwanted attention.

Lyse: I’d like to join you, if that’s all right.

Yugiri: By all means. We should be glad of your company, and your perspective.

Yugiri: Namai is not far. I say we begin there.

[On the outskirts of Namai, Yugiri and Lyse have changed into simple smocks]

Yugiri: Ah, Auric. I am glad to see that you too put thought into your garments given the covert nature of our activities.

Yugiri: Hm? I should think my reasons obvious. To enter the village while wearing the garb of the shinobi would be beyond reckless.

Yugiri: We shall pose as traveling merchants─Auric as our leader, and we as his assistants. Are there any objections?

Lyse: I’m not really the merchant type, but if you think this is the best way to go about it, I’ll trust you.

Yugiri: Then without further ado, let us begin.

 

Honami: Weren’t you the one who came with the general? No? Hmm. I see… My mistake.

Honami: It warms my heart to see traveling merchants in Namai again. Though the imperials never sealed our borders, folks like you have taken to avoiding Yanxia ever since the rebellion.

Honami: Unfortunately, that has only made it harder for us to survive. You may have noticed, but we lack for a great many things. It was not much better before, true, but it has only gotten worse…

 

Miyama: Foreign peddlers? In Namai? Whatever it is you sell, I have no money to buy. Perhaps you should go elsewhere.

Miyama: Saying that, I know of no village in Yanxia that has fared any better. Once, I would have directed you to the samurai lords of Monzen─had they not all died in battle or in the purges.

Miyama: There is the Doman Enclave, of course, but that lies beyond the Dairyu Moon Gates. Needless to say, the imperials are disinclined to let any but their own pass.

 

[There’s a Ferae — wolfman — in the village.]

Masatsuchi: A traveling merchant? With meat, perchance? Bah, better not to know when I have so little coin.

 Masatsuchi: …I feel your eyes upon me. You know not the Lupin? Surely you have not been long in Yanxia, else you would.

Masatsuchi: For generations we served the lords of Doma, compassionate and wise as they were…but the memories of such times fade with every passing day. As others will tell you.

 

Chigusa: You? A merchant? Forgive me my skepticism, but you strike me less a man of commerce and more a common sellsword.

[“Give your best smile.”]

Chigusa: I stand corrected! Such a warm and cordial nature you possess. I pray you forgive me my earlier rudeness.

Chigusa: It has been some time since the viceroy came to our village to purge it of insurgents. Those who resisted suffered terribly, and those who did not fared little better.

Chigusa: We who remain know better than to risk her ire. If the imperials demand laborers, we comply. If they demand conscripts to send as soldiers to other provinces, we obey.

Chigusa: Ours is a difficult life, with little in the way of luxuries. I know not what you sell, merchant, but I doubt that I─nor anyone else here─can afford it.

 

Yugiri: Auric. What have you learned?

Yugiri: Lyse and I encountered much of the same. They have been pushed beyond the brink.

Yugiri: I expected frustration and disillusionment, but not so much that they would come to question the wisdom of opposing imperial rule in the first place…

Yugiri: Unless we can convince them otherwise, I fear I cannot convince Lord Hien to return, and without him…

Yugiri: Let us not yet lose hope. Though the situation in Namai is bleak, mayhap it is not so elsewhere.

Yugiri: I wish to speak with others outside the village. Lyse and I will look for farmers in the paddies to the east. Auric, I ask that you look to the south.

Yugiri: Surely they cannot all have given in to despair…

 [A young girl village is being menaced by two “Tiny Caterpillars.” ….Level SIXTY-FOUR “tiny” caterpillars.]

Azami: Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you hadn’t come along, I don’t know what I would’ve done!

Azami: What am I doing out here? Oh…looking for flowers. I need some for my parents’ graves.

Azami: The ones my brother and I usually bring are yellow, because it was my mother’s favorite color. You haven’t seen any, have you?

[There’s one right over there. By the level sixty-four Hungry Caterpillar. What is with the bugs in this village??]

Azami: Only yellow ones will do. Mother wouldn’t have wanted anything else…

Azami: Ah! You found some! Thank you so much, sir. That’s twice you’ve saved me now!

Azami: Um, if you have some time to spare, maybe you could come with me? I’m sure Mother and Father would want to meet the man who showed me such kindness.

 Azami: We buried them on a cliff to the west of the village. There’s a path through the terraces. I’ll show you!

[Up on the hill]

Azami: We’re here! Just give me a moment to put down the flowers, and I’ll introduce you…

Azami: They loved to meet travelers and hear tales of faraway places. Maybe you could tell them one about your homeland?

???: Azami! Azami! Are you there? Azami!

[Isse comes running up.]

Isse: What in the─ You should not be here! Get away from my sister!

Azami: Don’t be so rude! He saved me from monsters, Brother─he even helped me pick flowers for Mother and Father!

Isse: Go back to the village. Now.

Azami: Y-You’re scaring me─

Isse: I said go! Stay inside and lock the door until I return!

Isse: …Don’t think me ungrateful. My sister is the only family I have. If you saved her, then…thank you. But it changes nothing. I asked you to leave, and now I’m asking you again.

Isse: I’m not going to report you to the imperials, or anything stupid like that. But it’s too dangerous for you to stay here. So please, I’m begging you─just leave us alone!

[“She said your parents were buried here…”]

Isse: …So she told, did she? Yes. That’s right.

Isse: …My mother and father believed in the rebellion. They left to fight for Lord Kaien. They came home on a cart driven by imperial soldiers.

Isse: The soldiers demanded that the families of the insurgents present themselves, or else they’d burn the whole village to the ground.

Isse: So we did. What choice did we have?

Isse: They beat us in the village square─with their hands, with sticks, with anything. They kicked us while we lay on the ground, begging for mercy. They made us denounce my mother and father─call them fools, call them traitors. Say they deserved to die.

Isse: I heard them laugh, but I dared not look up. One leaned close and whispered in my ear what he’d do to my sister if they had to come back.

Isse: They’re gone, but they’re never far. All it takes is the wrong word in the wrong ear, and they’ll return. And then I’ll have to dig another grave. If I’m lucky.

Isse: Whatever you came here to do, leave us out of it. If you want to fight the imperials, go and fight them on your own.

Isse: You can’t help us. No one can. And this is all we’ve got. So please─don’t take it from us.

 [Reporting back to Yugiri]

Yugiri: You are come at a good time, Auric. We but recently completed our inquiries. What of yours?

Yugiri: I…I was not aware of these events… The boy, Isse, he told you all of this?

Yugiri: Such disgraceful, despicable crimes… If I knew the men responsible, I would not hesitate to hunt them down and─

Yugiri: Forgive me, that outburst was unbecoming. The more I learn of the imperials’ actions in my absence, the more difficult I find it to marshal my emotions…

Yugiri: Could Lord Hien have foreseen this? That our peoples’ spirits would be broken so? Though at first I scoffed at his pronouncement, it feels all too possible now that he might resolve to surrender himself…

Yugiri: …Despite everything we have seen and learned, I refuse to renounce this cause.

Yugiri: We should return to the House of the Fierce and consult with our comrades. Perhaps together, we might─

Yugiri: Did you hear that? Quickly, we must find a place to hide!

[I didn’t hear anything, but the ninja said to hide, so I hide.]

[Five Imperial soldiers are coming up the road on foot.]

Lyse: Imperials…

Imperial Pilus Prior: Why are you milling about like a pack of slack-jawed mongrels!?Form a line! Now!

[The villagers line up.]

Imperial Pilus Prior: …Finally. I come before you today to deliver an announcement of the highest import, so listen well.

Imperial Pilus Prior: While on a charitable mission to Isari village, the acting viceroy and her personal guard came under attack from Confederate forces. This brazen, unconscionable act cannot─and will not─go unanswered.

Imperial Pilus Prior: As loyal subjects of the Empire who enjoy her safety and prosperity, you have a duty to defend her as well.

Imperial Pilus Prior: …There is no cause for alarm. We have no intention of sending ill-trained fodder to the front line.

Imperial Pilus Prior: Those who are selected will be expected to perform rudimentary tasks. Cleaning and maintenance and so forth. You will serve only as long as you are needed. Afterwards, you will be free to return to your homes.

[The Imperial leader begins calling out villagers from the line.]

Yugiri: Hmph. The Empire has no pressing need of cleaners. This is but a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate those who supported the Confederacy’s actions, and isolate any whose loyalty they already suspect.

Imperial Pilus Prior: And lastly…you. That should suffice for now.

[The Imperial leader points to Isse.]

[Isse speaks to his little sister.]

Isse: Don’t worry, I will be back before you know it. Listen to the elders while I am away, and do not play outside the village. Everything is going to be fine. I love you, all right? Remember that I love you…

Imperial Pilus Prior: We thank you for your cooperation. Rest assured that this will all be over very soon─once the Confederacy has been made to pay our own “Ruby Tithe.”

[The Imperials herd their chosen conscripts away down the road.]

Lyse: There’s no telling what might happen to those people! We have to help them!

Yugiri: And we shall. But before all else, we must needs ascertain their destination. I doubt this is the first village the Garleans have visited…nor is it like to be the last.

Yugiri: I will track these men. Will you help me?

[Sure.]

[Yugiri turns to Lyse.]

Yugiri: Pray return to our headquarters and tell the others what you saw here. Should we have need of reinforcements, I would know that they are ready.

Lyse: But I should be going with you! I came here to fight!

Yugiri: Soon enough, Lyse. Soon enough. For now, we must proceed with caution.

Lyse: I know that, I do… It’s just─when I saw them rounding those people up… Look, if anything happens─anything at all─you’d better call for us! I mean it, Yugiri. Anything at all.

[Lyse runs off.]

Yugiri: Regardless of what the officer claimed, I fear they have crueler designs for these people.

Yugiri: With me, Auric. We must hurry!

Yugiri: Here. It is a shinobi’s tool, for when a more discreet approach is required. Use it with these darts. They are coated with an alchemical reagent that induces a deep sleep.

Yugiri: There are soldiers patrolling ahead. Were circumstances different we could engage them directly, but for the villagers’ sake we dare not risk it.

Yugiri: We will use our blowguns to incapacitate them. Regardless of your familiarity with such weapons, you are a veteran warrior, and I am sure it will come naturally to you. Nevertheless, practice is in order…

Yugiri: There─the soldier on the hill below. Take aim and fire─if the dart finds its mark, he should fall within moments.

[Fun with blowguns!]

Yugiri: Well done, my friend! Now, give me your map─there is a vantage point from which you may observe and fire upon the other soldiers.

Yugiri: Worry not─I shall be with you every step of the way, keeping watch for other patrols. We shall speak again on the other side of the river.

[Five blowgun darts later….]

Yugiri: Excellent work, Auric. They appear to be none the wiser…

Yugiri: The villagers are being held in the castrum to the south─Fluminis.

Yugiri: Once, it was the base of operations for the Garlean occupation…until ten or so years ago, when they relocated to Doma Castle. Now, the castrum serves as little more than a storage facility…

Yugiri: I spy two sentries near the gate. As you have proven yourself to have impeccable aim, I would ask you to incapacitate them. This very hill should afford you a clear shot.

[2 more blowgun darts….]

Yugiri: Fine work, Auric. You have a gift for the ways of the shinobi…

Yugiri: The way is clear─let us move closer and see what has become of the villagers.

[We spy from outside the gates.]

Imperial Decurion: Sir! The Aan from the other villages are assembled for inspection.

Imperial Pilus Prior: Very good. I will address them personally.

Imperial Pilus Prior: Attention! Shortly you all will be transported to the facility on the distant shore.

Imperial Pilus Prior: Your duties, as you have been previously informed, will be rudimentary in nature. More specifically, you will be tasked with the repair and maintenance of various arms and armaments, as well as magitek devices.

Namai Farmhand: Magitek!? But we’re farmers! We don’t know the first thing about magitek!

Namai Farmhand: It’d take us months, if not years, to learn how to do that kind of work!

Imperial Pilus Prior: The materiel in question was damaged when your kith and kin rose up in rebellion! Therefore, you bear responsibility for its repair!

Imperial Pilus Prior: If you cannot perform your duties, you will learn how. And if you cannot learn how, then your villages may find themselves at the mercy of the Confederacy and other radical elements. Is that what you want?

Imperial Pilus Prior: Deal with this rabble. I am needed at the castle.

Yugiri: This is no temporary measure. Those men and women will die in servitude.

Yugiri: Once they are taken to the other facility, it will be too late. If we are to intervene, we must do so now. Agreed?

Yugiri: Then let us be about it.

Yugiri: Despite the urgency of the situation, we must still proceed with the utmost caution to ensure the safety of the villagers.

Yugiri: To wit, we must infiltrate the castrum without raising the alarum.

Yugiri: I will deal with any soldiers near the entrance. Stand watch for others approaching from the north until you hear my signal.

[For a mercy, you spy no imperial patrols bound for the castrum. A hawk’s cry pierces the silence─Yugiri is waiting.]

[Yugiri is standing watch over three snoring Imperials.]

Yugiri: Speak softly, lest the others hear us. What of the outside?

Yugiri: …That is good. We may proceed as planned.

Yugiri: These ones shall not soon wake. However, the others are too close to the villagers. Incapacitating them as I did these ones is far too risky.

Yugiri: Fortunately, a solution presents itself. I would have you disguise yourself as an imperial soldier and convince them that a changing of the guard is in order.

Yugiri: You have your pick of uniforms. They shall not protest.

[‘Your clothes. Give them to me. Now.’]

Yugiri: You have chosen one to your liking, then? Excellent.

Yugiri: I shall hide these ones where none will find them.

Yugiri: Our sleeping beauties have been laid to rest in their bunks. Oh, and while I was in the barracks, I happened upon these spare uniforms, in case the items in your possession are not to your liking.

Yugiri: This kabuto and tekko should match the uwagi, hakama, and choka in your possession…

Yugiri: And with that, you have a full set. I am sure that once you change, it will seem as though it was bespoke.

Yugiri: You will need to give the soldiers guarding the villagers a proper imperial salute to complete the deception and convince them to come here, where I will be waiting to deal with them.

[Not a problem.]

Imperial Decurion: Is it time already? Not that I’m complaining, mind, but I thought the others would be gone longer…

 Imperial Soldier: Changing of the guard, is it? About bloody time. Just looking at these Aan is making me depressed. Reminds me of when I was in their shoes, pissing myself in fear…

Yugiri: These ones shall sleep soundly along with the others…

Yugiri: And, with that, there are no more soldiers to trouble us. You can dispose of that accursed uniform too.

Yugiri: It is time to guide the villagers to freedom!

[But I kinda like the look of this uniform….oh well.]

[We find the villagers. They’ve been roughed up.]

Yugiri: Listen to me, all of you! We have dealt with the imperials for now, but you must flee this place, quickly!

Formidable Farmer: D-Dealt with them? Oh…oh no…you didn’t kill them, did you?

Namai Farmwife: Are you mad!? There’s no escaping the Empire! Running will only make it worse!

Yugiri: To stay is to die. You know this to be true.

Yugiri: Even if you lack the will to fight, surely you have the will to live! Or has that, too, been beaten out of you? Is this what has become of Doma!?

Isse: You are Lord Hien’s retainer? Trained to fight without fear and obey without question?

Isse: Well, we’re not! We’re lost and afraid! We hate this─all of this─but we can’t do a damn thing to change it! And trying will only make it worse.

Isse: It’s a pathetic existence…but it’s all we’ve got. And when people like you come here pretending it can be different, it─ It doesn’t help, all right!?

Wounded Elder: Peace, boy. Peace. She came to help, and for that we should be grateful.

Yugiri: Elder, your face…

Wounded Elder: We all have scars. Some too many to bear.

Wounded Elder: Too many battles, too much lost. Our friends, our family, even our liege. We who survived are forced to bend the knee─to sell our souls and surrender our dignity.

Wounded Elder: How are we to lift our heads when this shame weighs so heavily upon us? Your courage, your resolve… They are as salt in our wounds.

Yugiri: If they only knew what you would do for them, my lord…

Yugiri: You have made your plight clear, and I shall impose my will no more. But know this, brothers and sisters of Doma.

Yugiri: For all you have suffered─for all the horror and the ignominy─you are still here. You are still alive.

Yugiri: My lord─ My lord prays you value your life as highly as he does. As for me…I swear by all the kami in creation that I will free you from this torment.No matter the cost.

Formidable Farmer: …If the imperials come for me, I will tell them we were tricked by an Auri woman.

Yugiri: Tell them whatever you must to keep your loved ones safe.

[All the villagers except Isse run off.]

Isse: Why would you…? After everything…

[Isse runs off.]

Yugiri:

Yugiri: Apologies, Auric. I was…lost in thought.

Yugiri: Mayhap they have the right of it. Mayhap we are fools for urging them to rise once more. Yet I believe─I have to believe─that in their heart of hearts, they…they still…

Yugiri: …Now is not the time. We must finish what we started.

Yugiri: I have in my possession a powerful medicine that befuddles the mind and memories. We must administer it to the soldiers ere they wake.

Yugiri: The medicine will leave the soldiers confused and unable to clearly recall recent events. They will suspect that they fell asleep at their posts and be reluctant to discuss it with others.

Yugiri: It is naught more than a temporary measure, but we dare not kill them for the sake of the villagers. Tend to the last two I put to sleep─I shall see to the others.

[Duo of doofuses dumped and doped.]

[Yugiri is down by the riverbank.]

Yugiri: Forgive me for making you search.

Yugiri: It calms me, the sound. It helps me to remember the sway of the ocean when I close my eyes…

Yugiri: Despite the many great and noble things I said, in truth I am not of Doma. I was born beneath the waves of the Ruby Sea…

Yugiri: To think that you were there─that you even spoke with my mother and father…

Yugiri: They are in good health, then. The knowledge is…of great comfort to me.

Yugiri: That I might have the strength to protect my home from the Empire, I left to learn the secrets of the shinobi. Day and night we trained, ever striving to exceed our mental and physical limits.

Yugiri: After a time, my skills were recognized, and I was dispatched to assist the Doman Liberation Front. It was then that I met Lord Kaien and his son, and their loyal samurai, Gosetsu.

Yugiri: Good men, all. Brave and true, so clear their eyes, so pure their purpose. Any shinobi would have been proud to serve them and Doma.

Yugiri: …But, in the end, I will always be of the sea.

Yugiri: Every day, I pray for my home, and for the people I left behind. That they might be spared the wages of war, and live in peace, untouched by this madness.

Yugiri: I confessed this to Lord Hien once. Do you know what he said to me?

Yugiri: He said:   “Good. We are better for the conviction of our allies, and draw inspiration from their example. What is weak alone may together grow stronger.”

Yugiri: Never did I lose faith in them. Even when all was lost, and I led our people to Eorzea, I clung to the belief that our dream would one day be realized.

Yugiri: But when I gazed into those eyes bereft of hope─when those broken men balked at liberty, the dream was shattered.

[“It will not always be so.”]

Yugiri: So I pray… And thus do I labor to see a new day dawn, regardless of my misgivings. When all is said and done, we can but carry on─together.

[A flying vessel appears in the sky above the river.]

Yugiri: An imperial airship…

Yugiri: It is bound for Doma Castle. Quickly, we must rejoin the others!

[Back in the House of the Fierce]

Yugiri: Come, come! We must tell the others of this airship, or hear what they know of it!

Lyse: There you are! What happened? Are the villagers all right?

Yugiri: W-We freed them, along with many others.

Yugiri: Gosetsu─we spied an airship bound for the castle. Know you aught of it?

Gosetsu: Aye, that we do… The crown prince is come to Doma.

Alisaie: We suspect this is the result of recent events in Gyr Abania. Our defeat notwithstanding, there appears to be some concern in Garlemald that subversive elements may be rallying in other provinces.

Alisaie: Though Yotsuyu governs Doma, Zenos remains the province’s anointed viceroy─and it would seem he has come to assess the current situation in person.

Yugiri: If Zenos is here, we must seize this opportunity and kill him.

Alisaie: Would that it were so simple, Lady Yugiri. You may recall that we encountered Zenos at Rhalgr’s Reach. We have seen firsthand what he can do. His power defies explanation.

Alisaie: He faced the Alliance, the Resistance and the Scions, and he defeated us all.

Alisaie: We survived and learned from the experience, it is true─but if we are to defeat him, it will not be through simple opportunism. We will require a flawless plan.

Yugiri: We know his strengths. A prodigious swordsman trained from childhood by the finest imperial tutors, reputed to be without equal on the battlefield. Which is why we must not meet him there.

Yugiri: Nay, we keep to the shadows─the domain of the shinobi. And thence we strike. You need only give me the chance.

Gosetsu: Were this but a matter of personal revenge, I would not presume to bar your path, for I myself crave that same vengeance.

Gosetsu: But to draw steel against the Emperor’s son is a grave decision, and one that will shape our nation’s future. Do not forget Lord Hien’s words!

Yugiri: What, that we should sheathe our swords if the people lack the will to fight!? I will not squander this opportunity! If we do naught, our master’s life is forfeit!

Gosetsu: Even should you succeed, Zenos’s death will not win Doma her freedom─more likely her doom.

Gosetsu: Can we defend our people against the Empire’s retribution? We few against a legion? Do not be a fool, child!

Yugiri: …Mayhap I am a fool with foolish dreams of a future that will never be. But I cannot─I will not forsake them!

[Yugiri stomps off.]

Lyse: Yugiri, wait!

Alisaie: …What now?

Gosetsu: I will not pursue her. It is for her to think on our master’s words and recognize the futility of her course.

Gosetsu: Those, at least, are my thoughts upon the matter. Yours may be different. Should you wish to give chase, I will not bar your path.

Gosetsu: …We each have but one life, and it is not to be spent recklessly in pursuit of our goals. I pray she realizes this soon…

[Yugiri is down by the river with a message hawk.]

Yugiri: …Did Gosetsu send you to stop me?

Yugiri: Then you came of your own free will? I should be surprised if you agreed with my chosen course. No one else did.

Yugiri: But it is not as fanciful as they would have you believe. Scant moments ago, I received the crown prince’s itinerary from one of our spies in the castle.

Yugiri: ‘Twould seem that Zenos has no desire to remain in Doma any longer than necessary. He wishes to inspect the Moon Gates this very eve.

Yugiri: His impatience is to our advantage. He arrived without warning and gave Yotsuyu no time to prepare. The whole castle is in state of upheaval.

Yugiri: To avoid any delay, he has declined a full escort, and will be traveling with no more than a handful of soldiers. The kami could not have blessed us with more auspicious circumstances. I will kill him, Auric. I will.

[“You mean WE will kill him.”]

Yugiri: …Or die trying. You understand the risks.

Yugiri: Forgive me. Of course you do. Mayhap better than I.

Yugiri: …But are you sure?

Yugiri: Thank you. Thank you. I…I cannot well express what this means to me.

Yugiri: We have much to discuss, but we can do so on the way.

Yugiri: Yuzuka Manor is some distance from here. We must hurry!

[Uh oh, we had an eavesdropper. Sloppeh, Yugiri.]

Isse: …Stay calm. No one knows you were here. No one knows you saw anything.

Isse: No one knows you overheard two rebels plotting…to kill the crown prince…

Isse: Gah! Stupid, stupid, stupid! You know how this ends! And they only have themselves to blame! You have to tell them. You have to…

[Isse runs off.]

[Off in the southwest, a good distance from the village.]

Yugiri: This is far enough. Let us discuss our plan of attack…

Yugiri: Zenos’s itinerary is as follows…

Yugiri: He will depart Doma Castle by ship and approach the Moon Gates. The magitek field will be deactivated briefly, allowing his vessel to pass. It will then continue on to these very docks, where he and his entourage will disembark.

Yugiri: As you can see, this area is not ideal for an ambush. Wide open, multiple avenues of escape. The manor is better suited to our needs.

Yugiri: Let us split up and search for suitable hiding places.

[Surrounded by walls and deserted, this location appears to be ideal for concealment…]

Yugiri: Ah, there you are.

Yugiri: Hmm… From the roof, we would have a clear view of the docks…

Yugiri: It is settled. We shall lie in wait here until Zenos arrives.

Yugiri: As discussed, if all goes to plan, he shall fall with my first blow. If not, then the two of us will have to engage him in open combat.

Yugiri: His escort is of no consequence, which means that we will have a two to one advantage. Nevertheless, he is not to be underestimated…

Yugiri: All that remains is to wait. I trust that you are ready?

[Ready as I’m going to get….]

Yugiri: He comes.

[Yugiri leaps off the rootop to take up her position.]

Imperial Pilus Prior: The village is not far, my lord.If it please you, we shall escort you there directly.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hmph. Less a province than a graveyard. The rotting husk of a broken nation, devoid of proper sport. <sigh> But as His Radiance wishes…

Imperial Pilus Prior: Y-Yes, of course, my lord! A-And may I say how terribly sorry we are that you had to come so far!

Zenos Yae Galvus: We labored long to sow the seeds of hatred, of fear─to train them as beasts. Now we shall see the harvest.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Let there be savage beasts baying for blood, and not hollow-eyed prey cowering in the dark, or there will be no joy in this hunt.

[Yugiri silently takes out Zenos’ two rear escorts, but when she makes her strike, Zenos it ready and blocks her attack with his sword.]

Imperial Pilus Prior: AMBUUUSH!

 Yotsuyu: Shinobi!? And me without my brute…

Zenos Yae Galvus: How weak you are. Is this the sum of your hate?

Yugiri: This is only the beginning! For Lord Kaien! For Doma!

[Zenos addresses Yotsuyu]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Mayhap I shall test this new blade of yours. Let us hope it is to my liking, lest your misfortunes compound.

[He turns to Yugiri]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Then again, I am loath to expend such effort on the unworthy. Come─earn the honor.

[We charge]

Yugiri Mistwalker: Zenos yae Galvus! You will die by my hand!

Zenos Yae Galvus: First you must kill my men. You can do that, can you not?

Yotsuyu: What are you doing, you fools!? There are only two of them!

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hm. How much longer must you make me wait?

Zenos Yae Galvus: Very well. I suppose you have earned this…

Yugiri Mistwalker: This is not a game, you twisted, arrogant bastard!

Yugiri Mistwalker: Graaagh!

Zenos Yae Galvus: Well done, beast. You have earned the right to look on the Ame no Habakiri.

[Zenos powers up with the ancient Kojin sword Yotsuyu gave him. Figures. Yugiri tries to limit break him but he shrugs it off.]

Yotsuyu: What…what is this…? Kami forfend…

Yugiri Mistwalker: No! I can still fight, I can still…still…

[Fight! Fight! …Fight some more. Impasse.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: You’re better than most, I’ll grant you that. But not good enough. This ends now.

[Zenos one-shots the Warrior of Light. Again. Jerk.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Ahhh…I remember you. Ala Mhigo. The champion of the savages.

[The Warrior of Light stares at the katana Zenos is holding. For some reason, he hears Urianger’s voice repeating what he said before : “Look ye where the sun doth rise, see crimson embers, dark’ning skies…Look ye where the sun doth fall, see azure lost amidst the squall.“]

[ Zenos appears ready to strike a killing blow, but then a tiny piece of one of his helmet’s ornamental horns falls off. This appears to fascinate Zenos. He takes off his helmet.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Oh…how right I was to spare your life.

[Zenos drops his helmet to the ground.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hear me, hero. Endure. Survive. Live.

Zenos Yae Galvus: For the rush of blood, for the time between the seconds─live. For the sole pleasure left to me in this empty, ephemeral world─live!

[While Zenos is distracted, Yugiri sees her chance and strikes at his back. Once again, Zenos blocks her effortlessly, throwing her to the ground.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: You are not worthy.

[He walks over to Yugiri to land the killing blow. But an arrow strikes the ground at his feet. He looks up.]

[The Namai villages have arrived, weapons in hand, with Isse at their head.]

Isse: Get away from them, you imperial dog!

Yugiri: No, don’t… You must…you must flee!

Isse: We’re not going anywhere! Do you hear me!? We’re not running away!

Isse: What you’re doing is stupid and reckless and I never wanted any part of it, but here we are!

Isse: I’ve spent my whole life hating myself─for every time they made me beg, for every time I held my tongue to protect the people I love.

Isse: And then you came along and reminded me of all the things I never said and never did, and it was even worse! I would have given anything to forget, to walk away, but I knew that I’d never be able to live with the guilt.

Isse: So we came─all of us! For you, for ourselves─for Doma!

[Zenos seems bored.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Death is death, regardless of the reason.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Yet you seem determined to die, intruding upon this sacred ground, turning weapons you can scarcely wield upon me. Your lives will not even begin to redress the balance.

Alisaie: How wrong you are!

[Alisaie and Gosetsu have arrived. Alisaie throws a smoke bomb.]

Alisaie: Go, now! Gosetsu─see to Yugiri!

Gosetsu: Aye!

Yotsuyu: <cough> <cough> I can’t see a damn thing… Someone stop them!

[Zenos turns and walks calmly away, smiling.]

Yotsuyu: My lord!?

[The Imperials withdraw from the field.]

Alisaie: I don’t think we were followed…Gods… I have no idea what was going through that man’s head, but I am heartily glad he decided to leave.

Alisaie: Oh, and don’t thank us. Thank Alphinaud. He’s at the House of the Fierce, patiently awaiting your gratitude.

Alisaie: You should’ve seen the way he turned pale when he heard about Yugiri’s plan─and how you of all people had decided to help her. He was in such a panic, barking orders, calling for a squadron to be assembled─

Gosetsu: As were you.

Alisaie: I was rather composed, as I recall. Though that is neither here nor there…

Isse: Can you believe it? We faced the crown prince himself and lived to tell the tale!

Isse: You’ve no idea what this means for us. Everyone’s talking about getting more weapons and armor and…and…

Isse: And we’re not going to stop until we’ve taken back our homeland!

Isse: Ah, right. Getting a bit ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? We’ve got wounded to tend to first. We should get back to the village!

[Back at Namai village]

Isse: How are you feeling? After fighting that demon, I can only imagine…

Isse: …I suppose I ought to apologize to you. For…you know…

Isse: Anyway, uh… Thank you. For not giving up on us. The shinobi too.

Namai Maiden: How are you feeling, my lady?

Yugiri: Much the better for my comrades’ ministrations, and your most generous hospitality. You need not worry.

Namai Maiden: Good… If there is anything else we can do for the two of you─anything at all─just ask.

[Isse is watching the group intently.]

Gosetsu: Stare any harder and you’re like to burn a hole in them. Go and say your piece for goodness’ sake!

Isse: I’ve got nothing more to say to them! I’m going to find out how the others are getting on.

[Isse runs off.]

Yugiri: Gosetsu, Mistress Alisaie─I owe you an apology. I acted with reckless disregard for my own safety, and endangered I know not how many others in so doing.

Yugiri: Scorning your wise counsel, I knowingly defied our master’s wishes, and left you no choice but to follow suit.

Gosetsu: Nonsense. I followed our master’s wishes to the letter. Consider once more his words, and the intent therein.

Gosetsu: In offering his head, he but sought to shield his people from harm─loyal retainers included. You must value your life more highly, shadow walker.

Alisaie: On the other hand, your recklessness did serve as an inspiration to many. Mayhap you should not be so hard on yourself…

Alisaie: In any event, if you must apologize profusely, it seems only right that you expend as much effort thanking the one person who supported your plan from the first.

Yugiri: That it does. There are no words which will suffice…but thank you.

[Lyse and Alphinaud run up.]

Alphinaud: Twelve be praised! When I learned of your rather questionable plot to assassinate Zenos, I feared we would need to recruit a new primal slayer.

Lyse: I’m sorry we couldn’t be there. Alisaie made me swear to stay behind no matter what.

Lyse: I think she was worried I’d hurl myself at Zenos the moment I set eyes on him.

Alisaie: …What?

Alisaie: You’ll forgive me for changing the subject, but now would seem a good time to discuss where we go from here. Though the Empire has yet to retaliate, the fact remains that we have revealed our presence, and signaled our intentions in so doing. It is only a matter of time before the imperials move against us.

Alisaie: Given that we lack the strength to oppose them, ’tis plain some manner of brilliant stratagem is required. Therefore, I yield the floor to the preeminent tactician of our time, with whom I was privileged to share a womb.

Alphinaud: If you insist… While in Kugane we debated a number of approaches and were eventually forced to concede that we cannot look to the Alliance for aid.

Alphinaud: Even were it possible to ferry sufficient forces and materiel from Eorzea in a timely manner, such a massive undertaking would not long escape the attention of the Empire. ‘Twould be a miracle if our ships reached the shore.

Alphinaud: Fortunately, according to Tataru and Hancock’s intelligence, the Empire has withdrawn most of its forces from Doma in the past year, leaving her relatively unguarded.

Alphinaud: That being the case, a popular uprising spearheaded by the full might of the Doman Liberation Front may feasibly be sufficient to threaten the seat of provincial government, namely Doma Castle. ‘Twould be rather easier said than done, of course, but I have seen worse plans prevail.

Gosetsu: Then we must needs meet with Lord Hien and convince him to return, for there is no surer way to inspire our people to rise up as one.

Gosetsu: He desired proof of his subjects’ conviction, and they have provided it─through no less a deed than openly opposing Zenos himself!

Lyse: It will work. It has to work. And next time, we will defeat him…

Yugiri: I will be traveling to the Azim Steppe, Auric.

Yugiri: I found Lord Hien once before, and I am confident I can do so again. Moreover, it was to me whom he put the question of Doma’s resolve. I feel it my duty to deliver to him our people’s reply.

Gosetsu: Our countrymen’s deeds speak for themselves. Lord Hien cannot deny the truth of their hearts.

Gosetsu: Too long has it been since I looked on his face. It would be of great comfort to see him again─and no small comfort if you were to join us in the search, I should add!

Lyse: I wonder what kind of man Hien is. From what I heard, he’s about the same age as me. Then again, so is Fordola.

Lyse: Like her, he was born and raised in an imperial province. This is all he’s ever known. But unlike her, he chose to do something about it…

Lyse: I want to meet him. I want to know why. Maybe, if I understand that, it’ll help me to understand a lot of other things…

Alisaie: The beloved king returning to urge his countrymen to rise up in rebellion. Not a story you’d ever hear in Sharlayan or Ul’dah, is it?

Alphinaud: Not in those words, perhaps, but no land’s people is so cynical to be wholly immune to inspiration. Singular individuals have the power to move hearts and minds no matter where they go.

Alisaie: Mmmhm. Doubtless you speak from personal experience.

Alisaie: As much as this Lord Hien intrigues us, Auric, there are vital tasks to be attended to here─preparations for the inevitable assault on Doma Castle, for one.

Alisaie: There is also the matter of coordinating our efforts with the Confederacy and our comrades in Kugane, dealing with this troublesome aetheryte─I could go on, but you understand.

Alphinaud: …Aye, so it goes. We all have our responsibilities.

Yugiri: We shall depart for the Azim Steppe at once.

Gosetsu: You will be joining us, Auric?

Alisaie: For our part, we shall do what we can to aid the Doman Liberation Front in your absence.

Alisaie: We will refrain from conducting any large-scale operations in your absence, and instead devote our energies to bolstering our ranks and training our new recruits. When you return, we will be ready for war.

Lyse: If anything happens, if you need us to come back sooner, you’d better contact us. “Noble sacrifices” are a last resort, remember?

Yugiri: Follow me, my friends. We have many malms to travel before we reach Reunion.

Isse: Wait! Don’t leave yet!

Isse: Here, take these for the road. It’s simple fare, but it’s the least we can do for you, after what you did for us.

Isse: …It may be stupid and naive of me to say this, but I will.

Isse: When you come back, we’ll finish what we started. We’ll beat the imperials and we’ll win our freedom! So…don’t keep us waiting too long!

[Meanwhile in the Keep at Doma Castle]

Zenos Yae Galvus: …I would expect no less of Bahamut’s conqueror.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Prepare the airship. His Radiance will not object; we have fulfilled our obligations here. I would see this prize for myself…

[Zenos walks over to where Yotsuyu and Grunewaht are kneeling. He grabs Yotsuyu by the hair and yanks up hard on it. Yotsuyu gasps in pain.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Do you understand why I appointed you to act in my stead? You, whose only accomplishment was to whisper the right words in the right ear?

Zenos Yae Galvus: Because of your petty hatreds.They render you the perfect instrument to bleed your kinsmen of hope─to make an example of Doma, such as was ordered.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Listen well.

[Zenos jerks Yotsuyu’s hair again.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: If you yield Doma to the rebels, you will not be given another chance to beg forgiveness.

[He drops her.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Do your duty. Now. Or die with the rest of them.

[Zenos leaves.]

Grynewaht: A-Are you all right, my lady? That was uncalled for…

[Yutsuyu backhands him.]

Yotsuyu: They say your Eorzean is helping the rebels.

Yotsuyu: I want him dead. I want his friends dead. I want the heads of everyone he knows and loves mounted on the castle walls!

Grynewaht: You mean…you mean I can finally go after him?

Grynewaht: Bwahahahaha! I’ve been waiting for this chance! I promise you, my lady─he won’t escape this time! Not this time, oh no!

[Meanwhile, in the Fringes of Gyr Abania.]

[A mysterious man in black stands looking down into a deep round mountain pit.]

???: Aye, this is the place.

???: …When his shade was banished, you swore to leave this life behind. And yet here you are…

[It’s…Estinien??]

Estinien: Yet if this be the work of the Eyes, what choice do you have but to end it? <sigh> Or so the boy would say. Damn you, Alphinaud.

[Back in Namai]

Yugiri: If all are ready, let us depart for Reunion in the Azim Steppe.

Yugiri: Our route will be somewhat circuitous. We will need to return to the Ruby Sea and head north along the coast, past Isari…

[In Isari]

Yugiri: From here we will turn north until we arrive at a cave, through which we must pass in order to reach the Azim Steppe.

Yugiri: Lyse and Gosetsu have already gone on ahead. We should carry on as well.

Go on to Part 5: The Azim Steppe

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