Stormblood Text 9: The Lochs

[Lyse narrates: “I remember my father’s words. How they rang in my ears as we left Castrum Abania behind and looked out over the lochs before us. Comrades brave and true. They had come from all across Eorzea to stand with us. To stand against oppression and tyranny. Twenty years the Empire had ruled us, but no longer. Liberty or death. Liberty or death.”]

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[We meet with Raubahn at Porta Praetoria in the Lochs.]

Raubahn: Ere we begin, I would say to you, as a proud son of Ala Mhigo, that I am grateful to each and every one of you for your part in this endeavor.

Raubahn: Now, to the heart of the matter. The enemy appears content to remain within the city walls and await the inevitable siege. Open conflict has been sporadic thus far.

Raubahn: Whether Zenos is biding his time until reinforcements arrive or attempting to bait us into a trap, none can say. We know better than to trust his word.

Pipin: Regardless, we can ill afford to present Garlemald with a chance to ready her legions. It would be in our best interests to press for a swift resolution.

Lyse: A long siege wouldn’t be good for the people in the city either. If food becomes scarce, you know who’ll starve first.

Raubahn: Just so. Therefore, I propose we commit our forces to an all-out assault. What say you?

[All the commanders nod in agreement.]

Raubahn: ‘Twould seem we are of one mind. Then let us proceed to the how of it.

Raubahn: The Immortal Flames will form the vanguard, supported by the archers and the conjurers of the Order of the Twin Adder, under the Elder Seedseer’s command.

Raubahn: Once the main host has cleared a path to the walls, we will bring forward the artillery of the Maelstrom and the Temple Knights.

Raubahn: I would have your cannons pound the gates, and punch a hole right through the middle of their defenses!

Lyse: What about the Resistance?

Raubahn: Your part will be to occupy the residential district and keep civilians out of harm’s way. The people are more like to trust their own.

Lyse: Of course. You can count on us!

Raubahn: Remember that there is a second entrance to the city proper there. If all goes to plan, we will have secured two points of entry.

Raubahn: Once both objectives are complete, we press on into the city, surround the palace, and hunt down Zenos.

Raubahn: As for the Scions, you will be held in reserve as an irregular unit until we have more intelligence on your captured comrade. Krile’s rescue will be your primary concern, but I daresay we’ll find a use for you once her freedom has been secured.

Alphinaud: Thank you, General. I pray we find her quickly.

Alphinaud: The stage is set, and the players are assembled. Eorzea has come at last to drive the invaders from her lands.

Alphinaud: What would Grandfather say if he were with us here today…?

Alphinaud: For all our other accomplishments, Krile remains in the hands of our enemy, and I find myself wondering if we─if I could have done more. Though we know now that she was taken to the city, we have found nothing which might tell us where she is being held.

[Thancred walks up.]

Thancred: You know, you could just ask me.

Alphinaud: Thancred! What have you learned?

Thancred: I shall spare you the particulars of my infiltration and simply state that I have seen her with my own eyes. She is being held within the residential district south of the city proper.

Thancred: I tracked her to the ruins of an old temple of the Fist of Rhalgr, within which the imperials have constructed a research facility…

Alphinaud: A research facility? What manner of research?

Thancred: Why…methods to imbue Garleans with the power to manipulate aether. In pursuit of which goal, their scientists have, I am sorry to report, performed many questionable experiments─on living subjects.

Alphinaud: What!?

Lyse: Calm down, Alphinaud. We’ve already been tasked with securing the Ala Mhigan Quarter. This just gives us a reason to do it faster.

Thancred: I entered and exited the facility by stowing aboard imperial transports, but that method is not suitable for a larger force.

Thancred: And it goes without saying that a direct assault on the rather substantial main gates would be ill-advised.

[M’naago walks over.]

M’naago: I think I might know someone who can help.

 M’naago: One of my men. He had an idea about how to get into the city─ Actually, it might be best if I let him explain it himself.

Cynical Youth: It’s been a while. I’ll not take offense if you don’t remember. Might even be glad of it.

Lyse: …Ala Gannha, am I right?

Wiscar: Aye. Wiscar’s the name. I was raised in the Peaks, but my mum grew up in the city.

Wiscar: Er…anyroad, I reckon we can get inside the Ala Mhigan Quarter by way of Loch Seld.

Lyse: What? How?

Wiscar: It was a story my mum told us which made me think of it. She was always going on about what life was like when she was a girl, see…how they used to have to boil the water from the well before they could drink it, since it was full of salt─

Lyse: They were drawing saltwater from the lochs! Which means that there must be an underwater tunnel or something.

Wiscar: Aye, that’s it. But it won’t be as simple as going for a swim.

Wiscar: The well was closed, see. Apparently, Theodoric decided one day he wanted to control the water supply and forbade water trading. So even if you come up through it, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of a locked gate.

Wiscar: At the time, my grandfather, being an enterprising sort, befriended a guard and lifted the key from his belt. He made a copy and carried on selling water until the imperials invaded, and he ended up working at the Saltery…

Thancred: In short, we need your grandfather’s key. Assuming he still has it.

Wiscar: I’m certain he does. And I can take you to him. But it’ll be dangerous.

Lyse: Don’t you worry about that. We’re used to dangerous.

Lyse: Naago and Arenvald will assemble a squadron while the rest of us go and get that key.

Lyse: Let’s not waste any more time, then, shall we?

Wiscar: My mum said Grandad kept the key with him at all times as a lucky charm. If he hasn’t got it, then, well…

Lyse: Then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Ready, Auric? We may have to deal with a few imperial patrols, or worse…

[Duty: The Key to Victory]

 Wiscar: The Saltery’s not far. Follow me!

 Wiscar: We’re here, but…this isn’t right. Where is everyone?

Alphinaud: Word of the Alliance’s advance has surely reached their ears. Mayhap they sought refuge elsewhere? We should search the buildings for clues.

[The pot is filled to the brim with salt from the lochs…]

[The barrel appears to have recently been filled with fish packed in salt. Someone was hard at work less than a week ago..].

[The lumber appears to have lain undisturbed for some time…]

[The crumbling masonry appears to have lain undisturbed for some time…]

[The magitek device suddenly springs to life, flashing brightly and emitting a shrill sound. It’s a trap!]

Thancred: All right, which one of you triggered the obvious trap!?

[Dude, it was the plot trigger. I didn’t have a choice. Shut up.]

Alphinaud: On your guard! Magitek drones approaching!

Thancred: Mayhap…half a dozen? Auric─keep Wiscar alive, would you?

Wiscar: Seven hells! I could do with some help here!

 Thancred: Now then, where were we? Ah, yes, looking for clues as to the whereabouts of our erstwhile water merchant and his key…

[In the wake of the ambush, you find a diary belonging to a laborer. The last entry makes mention of a plan to take shelter in the Sali Monastery…]

Wiscar: The Sali Monastery! That’s to the south. I’ll lead the way!

Lyse: Not after that ambush you won’t! It’s too dangerous! Auric, we’ll follow you. Keep your eyes peeled for more magitek!

Wiscar: The monastery is just past that gate. Keep going!

Thancred: Hm. Something tall, dark and imperial appears to be blocking the entrance.

Wiscar: Godsdammit! I don’t think there’s a way round…

Lyse: Then we’ll just have to go through him!

Alphinaud: Look! I think those two devices are shield generators!

Thancred: I will keep the machine occupied. Auric, be a good chap and destroy the generators before it rips my head off.

[Thancred seems confused about which of us is the tank and which is the DPS, but whatever.]

Alphinaud: ‘Tis done! See how it falters! Belabor the brute!

 Lyse: He won’t be getting up after that! Now, let’s find our man!

Wiscar: This is it. This is the monastery. They have to be around here somewhere…

[Wiscar spots a trapdoor in the floor.]

Wiscar: Watt! Watt! It’s me, Wiscar! Your grandson!

Watt: …Wiscar? By Rhalgr, is that really you?

[The trapdoor opens.]

Watt: …Oh, it’s good to see you alive and well, lad! But who are these other ones?

Wiscar: The Resistance, Grandad. My, er…my comrades-in-arms.

Watt: She told you all about me thumbing my nose at the Mad King, did she? Heh. Daft sods never caught me neither…

Watt: It wasn’t much, but it was my way of rebelling against his rule. Glad to see you’ve got higher aspirations. Here─make our family proud.

Wiscar: I will, I swear! Rhalgr as my witness!

Lyse: I was worried when he wasn’t at the Saltery. But we found him in the end.

Lyse: Now that we’ve got the key, it’s time to find that underwater tunnel!

Lyse: We’ll need to dive into the lochs and look for a tunnel leading beneath the residential district. That should be no problem for Auric and me, thanks to the Kojin’s blessing, but for the rest of you…

Thancred: I will have you know that I can hold my breath for ten minutes!

Alphinaud: …Hm. I think it best that I support M’naago and Arenvald’s unit.

Lyse: Oh, right. You can’t swim.

Alphinaud: I am aware of that, thank you! But it is neither here nor there, given that I lack both the Kojin’s blessing and Thancred’s preternatural lung capacity!

Lyse: Right, right. Of course. I didn’t mean anything by it. Nothing at all.

Lyse: So─Auric, Thancred, and me. Let’s head to the water’s edge.

Lyse: Alphinaud and Wiscar can rejoin the others and wait outside the gates for us to let them in.

[At the water’s edge.]

Lyse: This looks like as good a place as any…

Urianger: Ere you dive into the briny deep─

Lyse: Urianger! What are you doing here?

Urianger: Master Alphinaud informed me of your plan, and thus did I hasten to your side.

Urianger: When Mistress Alisaie unfolded to me the tale of her defeat, I was much intrigued by the apparent ease with which Fordola, a theretofore unexceptional warrior, defied my lady’s every attempt to do her harm.

Urianger: After some few days of deliberation, I subsequently contrived what I believe to be a solution to the problem of her preternatural prescience. ‘Twas in hopes of furnishing you with the fruits of my labors that I came.

Lyse: Wait, isn’t that Moenbryda’s─

Urianger: Her aetheric siphon formed the basis for my design.

Urianger: Should my hypothesis prove correct, you need but activate it in her presence. To say more would endanger the plan, for ignorance is your shield.

Urianger: It was…Moenbryda’s time. It is not yours, my friends. May you ever walk in the light of the Crystal…and return.

Lyse: We will─for you and for her.

 Lyse: Right! I’m going in. Follow me!

[SPLASH! Into the Loch.]

Lyse: The tunnel leads east. Thancred’s already gone ahead. Let’s not keep him waiting!

[Down the underwater tunnel, which opens up inside the Ala Mighan quarter, in the lower floor of a warehouse.]

Lyse: Whew! That was fun!

Thancred: Yes, yes. Tremendous fun. Who needs a beastman’s blessing anyway?

Lyse: I still can’t believe you managed to hold your breath the entire time. It felt like we were down there for hours!

Lyse: Anyway, it’s time we let our friends in.

Lyse: Once we head up these stairs, we’ll need to make our way to the main gates, which are…somewhere to the west of here?

Thancred: Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it bears repeating that until we open the gates, we three are on our own. ‘Twould be in our best interest to avoid guards and easily startled smallfolk.

Lyse: Obviously. But once our guests have arrived, we’ll be free to head towards the research facility where Krile’s being held as loudly as we like.

Lyse: Since you’ve been here before, will you lead the way?

Thancred: Of course. But I will move quickly, so see that you do not fall behind.

Lyse: Nothing left to say, then. Let’s get to it!

Lyse: All set, Auric?

[Duty: The Resonant]

Thancred: Follow my lead. Stay close and quiet.

Thancred: Wait! Patrol. Let them pass…

Thancred: All clear. With me!

Thancred: Sentry! Get to cover! I will deal with him…

[Thancred stealths over and downs the sentry.]

Thancred: And none were the wiser… Let us press on.

Thancred: Here we are… Ah, one more sentry. Give me a moment.

[Thancred 2, Sentries 0.]

Thancred: Auric, look for a lever or a winch! We will guard the rear!

[Got it!]

Thancred: Hells open, heavens weep…Alphinaud, can you hear me? The gates are open!

Alphinaud: Our friends are ready and eager to engage the imperials!

Thancred: Then let us leave them to it and head for the facility!

[Ala Mhigan forces pour in through the opened gate.]

Resistance Fighter: Remember the Reach! Remember the towers! Attack!

12th Legion Hoplomachus: Insurgents!? Here!? Sound the alarum!

[We dispatch the patrol with dispatch.]

Alphinaud: Hold on, Krile… We’re coming…

 Thancred: The Resonatorium is just ahead!

Alphinaud: They know we’re coming. Make ready, my friends!

[The door opens and Fordola is there with a few troops. Her right eye glows red with a strange geometric pattern, while her left eye remains normal.]

Fordola: I reckoned you lot would come, but I didn’t think you’d have the nerve to break the bloody doors down! Makes no difference to me, though─time to die!

[Fordola begins to charge up with an unearthly light.]

[Use the Aetheric Siphon to weaken Fordola, and defeat her in battle!]

Fordola rem Lupis: I can read your every move!

Alphinaud: Use the siphon, Auric! Use it now!

Fordola rem Lupis: Gah! Seven hells, my head… The pain!

Thancred: It’s working! Strike now, while she’s weak!

Fordola rem Lupis: Out of my way!

Lyse: Dammit, she won’t stay down! Use the siphon again!

Fordola rem Lupis: Graaagh! You’ll…you’ll pay for that…

Alphinaud: Keep at it! We almost have her!

12th Legion Hoplomachus: Enemy sighted, engaged with the commander! With me!

Alphinaud: Thancred! Help me hold off those soldiers!

Thancred: Understood! We leave the pilus in your capable hands!

Fordola rem Lupis: Heh heh heh… So it’s to be the two of you after all…

Lyse: Let’s finish this!

Fordola rem Lupis: If only you knew the power!

Lyse: Still got that siphon, Auric!? Then use it!

Lyse: How much more can she take!?

Fordola rem Lupis: Everything you’ve got and more, you stupid cow!

Fordola rem Lupis: Not here, not now… Not to you…

[One last blast from the siphon, and a final kick from Lyse, and Fordola falls.]

Fordola: No… Not after everything… I cannot lose… I will not!

Lyse: Oh, but you will. Without your tricks, you’re nothing!

Lyse: Conrad, Meffrid, your own comrades! I should kill you here and now for what you did!

Lyse: But there’s no place for that kind of justice here. Not in my Ala Mhigo.

Fordola: Oh, how very bloody noble of you! Pffft. You’ll pardon me my sins, will you? After you and your “freedom fighters” come and tear down everything we’ve worked so hard to build!? We were fighting for our people’s freedom!

[Fordola charges Lyse. Lyse takes her down again.]

Lyse: You’re slaves to a tyrant! There’s no freedom in that!

Alphinaud: Now, my friend!

[With Fordola under control, Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light run to one of the pods in the room and open it. Krile falls out.]

Alphinaud: Krile!

[Krile opens her eyes.]

Krile: Alphinaud…?

Krile: …I knew you’d come.

Thancred: Touching as this moment is, it will have to wait. We should rejoin the main force at once.

Thancred: Lyse!

Lyse: I’m taking her back with us. Alive. She’s going to answer for what she’s done.

Fordola: Heh heh heh…listen to you, talking like you’ve already won. Zenos is going to tear you apart. He commands a power echoing that of the eikons.

Lyse: What are you talking about?

Fordola: The hunt, you stupid cow─I’m talking about the hunt! He said you’d come. And here you are, his willing prey.

Fordola: You and your friends are dead─just like mine. And all our misery, all our sacrifice…it was all for naught!

[Lyse makes a fist, clearly contemplating finishing off Fordola.]

Lyse: …No. You’re gonna live long enough to see us win our freedom. I promise you that.

Fordola: May I live a thousand years…

Thancred: Interrogations can wait. Let us be off!

[Outside]

Alphinaud: What a relief to have finally found her! Though our greatest challenge yet lies ahead of us, on the eve of this final battle, I find myself overcome with joy…

Alphinaud: We could not have saved her without everyone’s help. Thancred, Lyse, Urianger─and of course, you.

Alphinaud: But yes, there is still much and more to be done. I should be very interested to learn the meaning of Fordola’s ominous words, for one…

Alphinaud: Lyse has gone to deliver Fordola into the custody of the Alliance, leaving M’naago and her men to hold the residential district and stand ready.

Alphinaud: Once the Alliance has breached the main gates and commenced their assault, the Resistance forces will push through the entrance here and join the fray.

Thancred: In that case, I will remain here. My search for Krile took me into the city proper, and my familiarity with their defenses may prove useful to the Resistance.

Alphinaud: Understood. I shall instruct Arenvald and his unit to render support as well.

Alphinaud: They were tasked with securing the aetheryte, as I recall. With me, Auric.

[At the aetheryte in the town center.]

Arenvald: Gods, Krile… It’s so good to see you. I feared the worst…

Krile: It wasn’t your fault. You saved me─all of you. Thank you.

Alphinaud: We will be departing shortly for Porta Praetoria to rejoin the main host.

Alphinaud: Arenvald, I would have your unit remain here with Thancred, that you might support the Resistance troops in the coming battle.

Arenvald: Understood! We won’t let you down.

Alphinaud: …I trust you will refrain from doing anything I would not. We are both far too young to die.

Arenvald: Right, right─no noble sacrifices! Got it!

Alphinaud: Auric, Krile─let us be off, then.

[Back at Porta Praetoria]

Raubahn: Ah, the heroes of the hour! Not content with securing the residential district, you gifted me an imperial commander. What are you after, a medal?

Alphinaud: The work is its own reward, General. I must say, however, that Fordola’s claims were not a little disturbing. What manner of power could Zenos have acquired that might equal an eikon?

Raubahn: Might she speak of our missing Omega?

Alphinaud: Very possibly. The Empire’s fondness for comparable Allagan technologies is exceedingly well-documented. Have we made any progress with our own investigation?

Raubahn: None. The search goes on in earnest, but Cid has thus far found nothing of note. Mayhap the Garleans beat us to it. If they were working desperately to repair the machine, that might explain their decision to remain within their walls…

Alphinaud: Ah, Lyse. I trust you surrendered Fordola into custody without incident.We were just discussing the pilus’s claims.

Lyse: About Zenos and his newfound powers? She hasn’t said a word on the subject since we rescued Krile─even when the interrogator asked nicely.

Krile: Mayhap I can offer some insight into her claims─or at least into the facility and the experiments they conducted during my time there. Though my memories of the period are somewhat muddled, there are a few things I remember with painful clarity.

Alphinaud: Thancred told us only that Fordola had undergone some…manner of treatment…

Krile: Yes… It is a place wholly dedicated to the creation of enhanced beings whom they refer to as “the Resonant.” As I understand it, the process aims to imbue a test subject with the qualities of an individual with demonstrated magical aptitude. This entails… This entails the m-mechanical extraction and transfusion of some manner of…primordial essence.

Lyse: So that’s how Fordola improved so fast. I knew there had to be something. She wasn’t half as strong or quick to predict my attacks when we first met.

Lyse: If it weren’t for Urianger’s siphon thingy, I really don’t think we’d have beaten her…

[Urianger has snuck up on the group.]

Urianger: My humble scheme asked far more in the execution than it required in the conception, I do assure thee.

Lyse: Oh, you have got to stop doing that.

Urianger: In calling upon Lady Alisaie after her defeat, I was most intrigued to learn of the apparent effortlessness with which Fordola countered her attacks. ‘Twas as if she knew the blade’s destination ere its journey began.

Urianger: A most impressive feat under any circumstances, but an almost miraculous one when considered in the context of Fordola’s unfamiliarity with my lady’s arts. How then could she so perfectly predict an unknown opponent’s every move?

Urianger: After much deliberation, I surmised that Fordola may be possessed of a preternatural ability to divine meaning from the fluctuations of an individual’s aether, and to instinctively react. To employ a metaphor, one might say that she was attuned to the whispers of my lady Alisaie’s soul.

Alphinaud: Wait! Have you not just described a manifestation of the Echo?

Urianger: I had no conclusive proof. The available anecdotal evidence suggested only that Fordola was uncommonly sensitive to aetheric fluctuations, and ’twas this which led me to develop my stratagem.

Urianger: I would fashion a device with the capacity to generate a massive disruption in the surrounding aether. If, as I suspected, Fordola’s senses were indeed questing for the most minor of oscillations, the shock of exposure to a more amplitudinous aetheric waveform would be akin to a debilitating bout of aether sickness.

Alphinaud: How…ingenious. I note that the success of your plan hinged on your device’s wielder remaining ignorant of its purpose, lest Fordola divine your intent.

Urianger: Indeed so, Master Alphinaud. All things considered, ’twas a most fortuitous outcome.

Krile: That’s putting it mildly. In any event, if Urianger is correct, that would mean these Resonant have been granted the power of the Echo via artificial means. A sobering thought to say the least─and one which makes me wonder what else Zenos has in store.

Raubahn: Whatever the viceroy’s newfound powers, I know of none better equipped to face him. And face him you must. For there is now but one path forward, and it leads straight to Ala Mhigo.

Lyse: And it’s not as if we came unprepared. We’ve got all our friends and allies fighting for the same thing. Honestly, right now, I feel like we could take on anyone and win. And I mean anyone!

[“Nevertheless, let us proceed with all due caution.”]

Lyse: Well, no one’s saying we shouldn’t be cautious! …Though maybe I was getting a bit carried away.

Lyse: Right─I’d best get back to the residential district. Thancred and the Resistance forces are waiting.

Alphinaud: It is time we joined the main host.

Alphinaud: Krile, in light of your recent ordeal…might I suggest that you remain with the rear guard for now?

Krile: Oh, if you insist…just this once.

Alphinaud: If I may, General─is there aught Auric and I can do to assist with final preparations?

Raubahn: I’m glad you asked. Pipin informed me moments ago that all forces are in position and that we are ready to commence the assault.

Raubahn: Naught remains but to notify the Alliance commanders. If you’ve no objections, I should be glad to have you do the honors, Lieutenant.

Raubahn: You were instrumental to the success of Operation Archon. You helped bring an end to the Dragonsong War. You are a hero to the people and a symbol of hope.

Raubahn: Some might judge it an empty gesture, or worse a waste of your talents, but I know it would mean much to everyone here.

Aymeric: Hah! That you should be the one to bring me word. By the Fury, it is good to see you, my friend.

Aymeric: You, who stood with us in our direst hour, will ever be an inspiration to my countrymen─and to me. Though Ishgard’s debt can never be repaid, it is my hope that our deeds this day shall go some small way to redressing the balance.

Lucia: Zenos has never cared a whit for politics. He lives for war and war alone. Kill him, or he will kill you.

Kan-E-Senna: All is ready? Very well. Though many will fall in the coming battle, how many more shall know liberty for their sacrifice.

Kan-E-Senna: There is a time for peace, and a time for war. Even the Matron understands this. We who have received of Hers and the elementals’ blessings go now to stand for Eorzea and her children.

Merlwyb: It’s time, then. Though this is not my theater of choice, we will play our part. Our cannons care not either way.

Merlwyb: That battery has sunk enough ships to fill a fleet. ‘Tis not like to be bested by a gate.

Storm Marshal Slafyrsyn: ‘Tis rare these days that I am granted leave to take the field. Mayhap I should have brought my mask…

Raubahn: It is done, then? Thank you, Lieutenant…for humoring an old bull.

Storm Officer: Maelstrom, Adder, and Ishgardian forces are in position, General!

Serpent Officer: Resistance forces in the Ala Mhigan Quarter are ready and await our signal.

Raubahn: Naught left to do but the deed itself.

Raubahn: Right, then. I must go to my men. I shall be leading the first charge through the breach.

Alphinaud: Then we shall head to the front.

Raubahn: Pipin has command of our artillery outside the gate. He’ll not be hard to find.

Raubahn: Ah, but before you go, I have a final favor to ask.

Raubahn: Give this to my son. He will understand.

[Pipin’s off to the east, by the gates of Ala Mhigo.]

Pipin: Lieutenant, Alphinaud. Hm? What is that you’ve got there?

Pipin: By the Twelve, this is…this is Tizona!

Alphinaud: The Bull of Ala Mhigo’s legendary sword, forged from two cursed blades…

Pipin: This sword is a symbol of everything my father fought to achieve. A weapon claimed on the bloodsands, and with it fortune and glory. Its flames consume the unworthy, but by fire was he reborn.

Pipin: That he should bequeath it to me now…to carry on his legacy…Well, I shall endeavor to deserve it. But I’ll be damned if this is his final battle!

Pipin: Once we begin, there will be no respite until it’s over. Are you ready, my friends?

Pipin: Very well. Brace yourselves. This should be quite a specta─

[A Flame messenger runs up.]

Flame Private: Vice Marshal! Vice Marshal! Imperial unit approaching from the north!

Pipin: Aiming to destroy our artillery, are they? How many?

Flame Private: Total numbers unconfirmed. At least one squadron. But sir─they’re wolfmen!

Pipin: Ferae Domitae. Bloody hells, that’s all we need. Call up the Bloodsworn. Tell them to make ready─

[Ed. Note: “Ferae Domitae” translates to “Wild animals that are tame.”]

Alphinaud: Marshal Tarupin, wait!

Alphinaud: These “wolfmen” of whom you speak hail from Doma. They were coerced into fighting for the Empire─spirited away to a foreign land and told that if they disobeyed, the lives of their kin would be forfeit.

Alphinaud: But their homeland has been liberated. They have no reason to continue serving their imperial masters!

Alphinaud: Ere you engage them in battle, I beseech you:  grant us a moment to go and attempt to convince them to lay down their arms!

Pipin: I am loath to gift our enemy more time to prepare…but if there is a chance that this conflict might be avoided, I suppose we must take it. Go then─but be quick.

Alphinaud: We will, Vice Marshal.

Alphinaud: With me, Auric!

[Duty: The Measure of his Reach]

Alphinaud: We will wait here for the Lupin to arrive. Steel yourself, my friend. Though I hope to resolve this without resorting to violence, it would seem wise to prepare for the worst…

[A large group of wolfmen are coming down the road at a good clip.]

Ferae Domitae Centurion: You! Clear the road!

Alphinaud: Honorable warriors of Doma! My name is Alphinaud Leveilleur, and I come before you with news of great import─

Ferae Domitae Centurion: Silence, boy! You stand upon a battlefield. Begone, or be cut down!

Alphinaud: Doma is free! Lord Hien has returned and driven Yotsuyu and the imperials from your lands! We were there─we helped him! There is no need for you to fight for Zenos!

Ferae Domitae Centurion: Lord Hien is dead, and you are a liar! What could a boy such as you do against magitek? Throw stones and spit curses!?

Ferae Domitae Centurion: Invoke my lord’s name again at your peril. We will suffer no falsehoods!

Alphinaud: I speak only the truth! Put up your weapons, I beg of you! Let us speak as friends and not shed blood in vain!

Ferae Domitae Centurion: If your claims were true, we would gladly sheathe our blades and embrace as brothers.

Ferae Domitae Centurion: But since they must surely be false, we would be traitors to accept! Our lives and those of our loved ones, forfeit!

Ferae Domitae Centurion: Words are air! You will prove the truth of your tale on the battlefield, or die in dishonor!

Ferae Domitae Spear-wolf: If you die this day, then we shall know you for liars!

Alphinaud: Truly…? Must we fight to prove that we need not fight!?

[The wolfmen fall back after about half of them are taken down.]

Ferae Domitae Centurion: You are no strangers to battle, that much is plain…

Hakuro: I am the White. I am Hakuro! And I will be your opponent! Have at you!

Hakuro Whitefang: Until I am satisfied, we shall fight on! Give me your all!

Alphinaud: On your guard! His strength far exceeds that of his brethren!

[Oddly enough, Hakuro uses pretty much the exact suite of attacks that Gilgamesh does in “Battle in the Big Keep.”]

Hakuro Whitefang: Hah! You have faced a samurai of Doma before! But I may yet surprise you…

Hakuro Whitefang: Is that all you can muster, Eorzeans!? Hold naught back!

Alphinaud: Such ferocity…! If he does not relent, we shall be forced to kill him!

Alphinaud: …So be it. Moonstone Carbuncle! Come!

Alphinaud: Stand within the carbuncle’s wards! They will grant you strength!

[Alphinaud puts away Obsidian Carbuncle and gets out a glowy white Moonstone Carbuncle instead. Where does he get all these cool rare Carbies and why can’t I have one?]

Hakuro Whitefang: Enough. You are every bit the warriors you claim to be.

Hakuro: You fought with honor and restraint. You could have killed my men, and perhaps even me…but you did not. For this, I thank you.

Hakuro: Warriors brave and true. I pray you tell us of the battle for Doma’s liberation.

Alphinaud: We should be glad to do so…

Hakuro: …Lord Hien, returned! Such joy this news brings us.

Hakuro: But for Lord Gosetsu to perish in the keep’s collapse…to be taken from us by such treachery… There is no justice…

[Hey, we didn’t actually find a body, you know. I’m sure he’ll be back.] [Unfortunately this is not one of the dialog options.]

[“Eyes forward, Hakuro. He wished for no better death.”]

Hakuro: You knew him well. Aye, he would not suffer us to mourn with so much undone. And so we will not. Duty comes before all.

Hakuro: All Lupin shall know of Doma’s liberation, and of your part in it.

Hakuro: When you breach the gates, we shall turn on the imperials as one. With fang and claw shall we rip open the throats of our masters. This the White swears.

Alphinaud: Thank you. When our war is ended, I am certain that your lord will help us to return you all to Doma.

Hakuro: Such a curious thing, destiny, to see us meet with friends of Lord Hien in this distant corner of the world. But we shall not keep you─your day is not yet done.

Alphinaud: Come, let us not keep our comrades waiting. We have a nation to liberate!

[Back to Pipin]

Pipin: Ah, you are returned. Were your negotiations with the wolfmen successful?

Alphinaud: The one they call the White was receptive to our words once we told him of Doma’s liberation.

Alphinaud: They withdrew behind the walls to inform their brethren. If the gods are good, no blood shall be shed between our peoples this day.

Pipin: Hear, hear. Now…I think it’s time we did something about those gates.

Pipin: Thaumaturges, forward!

[Hey it’s the five Cocobros.]

Pipin: Give me hellfire! Give me Ifrit’s bloody inferno!

[The Cocobros rain fire down on the gates of Ala Mhigo.]

Pipin: Now give me a Coerthan winter! Enough ice and snow to bury a behemoth!

[Glacier shards pelt down from the sky.]

Pipin: All cannons, fire at will! Let no man say we neglected to knock!

[The barrage of cannonballs appears to be on the verge of taking down the gate, but then a pair of flying drones appear and fire on the Cocobros, disrupting their spells.]

Pipin: Damn that armor! We nearly had it!

[There is the cry of a wild bird, and a yol dives on one of the flying drones. From its back, Hien slashes with his katana, knocking the drone out of the sky.]

Alphinaud: Is that─?

Hien: Bear witness, my Eorzean brothers and sisters! Doma is come to pay her debts!

Alphinaud: Lord Hien!

Hien: We will deal with the flying machines! Forward, my friends! For freedom and justice!

Pipin: You heard the man! All cannons, resume firing!

[They do. And the gates fall.]

Alphinaud: We’re through! The way is clear!

Pipin: Impeccable timing, those Domans! Come, comrades! The enemy’s gate is down! Forward!

Pipin: The battle for Ala Mhigo is at hand! All forces have been ordered to advance into the city proper!

Pipin: I trust your unit of elite adventurers is ready, Lieutenant? Excellent! Your objective is to make haste for the castle and kill Zenos yae Galvus! Any questions? Of course not! Now, go and get the bastard!

[Dungeon level 70: Ala Mhigo]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Heh heh heh heh…

Zenos Yae Galvus: Ahahahahahaha! Yes, yes! Such ferocity, such tenacity!

 Zenos Yae Galvus: I am loath to recall how disappointed I was when first we fought…but finally, finally, after bathing in the blood and offal of your enemies, finally you prove yourself worthy prey for the hunt!

Zenos Yae Galvus: It fills you even now, doesn’t it? The hunger. To bite down on my jugular, to feel the warmth fill your mouth and run over even as you drink deep. Good, good! This is the beast I have longed to face!

Zenos Yae Galvus: As you sharpened your claws, I too sought newfound strength! But this is no place for a final contest. Come! The heavens shall bear witness to our dance!

[Zenos walks out of the throne room. The Warrior of Light follows.]

[In the back of the castle there’s a huge winged creature – Shinryu – floating off the ground, imprisoned in a lightning field.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Welcome to the Royal Menagerie.

Zenos Yae Galvus: The King of Ruin built this place for his foreign queen. He kept it filled with familiar creatures from her homeland. They bored me all.

Zenos Yae Galvus: This fine specimen, on the other hand, is simply…divine.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Your fates are entwined, are they not, eikon-slayer? This dragon, this…embodiment of unbridled despair, born of a desperate man’s burning hatred for the Empire…

Zenos Yae Galvus: How raw the raging tempest that churns within its breast. No myth made manifest this, but…a being of pure violence.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hah hah, mayhap you are the true architect of our design. You who fought the very soul of vengeance to the edge and watched him fall; you who let slip the Allagan hound to drive this eikon into my arms!

Zenos Yae Galvus: Oh… My. Have I said too much? Forgive me, this…sensation is wholly unfamiliar to me.

Zenos Yae Galvus: A question, then─and I should like very much for you to speak from the heart. If I were to stand aside, what would you do to this eikon?

[You’re gonna monologue at me no matter what I say, so why bother.]

[“…”]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hm. You will not indulge me even with a simple reply, then? No. You think only of the fight to come. How alike we are.

Zenos Yae Galvus: A pity. There is another alternative. Or there would be…had you only mastered your abilities.

Zenos Yae Galvus: I speak of the Echo, of course. Does it merely render you immune to eikonic influence? Or is it rather that your influence is far greater than theirs? Granted, these implications are of no moment to a savage, who thinks only of killing the beast before him…

Zenos Yae Galvus: But when I read van Baelsar’s reports, I immediately saw the boundless potential of the Echo. I saw how it could be instrumental in binding an eikon to one’s will. Hence my research and the Resonant─and oh so much more!

Zenos Yae Galvus: All eikons must be exterminated, without exception. Such was the imperial mandate issued by my great-grandfather after he saw firsthand the destruction wrought by one such being. They are a blight upon this star, he felt, and so he began his great and just crusade.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Pah! ‘Twas not justice which spurred his campaign, but fear! Fear of the eikons, fear of their power. Cowardice made them march forth to battle. Pathetic!

Zenos Yae Galvus: Man should fight for the joy of it. To live, to eat, to breed─lesser beasts snap and howl at one another for this. Only man has the wisdom and the clarity to embrace violence for its own sake.

Zenos Yae Galvus: For we who are born into this merciless, meaningless world, have but one candle of life to burn.

Zenos Yae Galvus: I know you understand this. You and I are one and the same. Together, we could while away the quiet hours, as friend and confidant…if you will accept me.

[Ewwwww.]

[“I deny you.”]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Heh heh…and yet, in doing so, you prove me right. We are warriors. ‘Twas plain from the first how this would end.

Zenos Yae Galvus: You live for these moments─when all hangs in the balance…when the difference between life and death is but a single stroke.

Zenos Yae Galvus: I live for them too! This is who we are, my friend! This is all we are! Ala Mhigo and Doma and Garlemald be damned!

[Zenos slices the seal on Shinryu’s prison, freeing the dragon.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: We tower above the gods! You by your gift, I by my might!

[Zenos’ eyes glow red with the same geometric pattern seen in one of Fordola’s.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: And before the Resonant the gods shall be made to kneel!

[Zenos glows bright red, and levitates upward into Shinryu, somehow merging with the new Primal.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: An ending to mark a new beginning!

[Trial level 70: The Royal Menagerie]

[FIGHT!  FIGHT! FIGHT!]

[With Shinryu defeated, Zenos plummets from the sky like a falling star. The Warrior of Light appears safely back in the Royal Menagerie.]

[Lyse and Alphinaud run in.]

Lyse: Are you all right!?

Lyse: Zenos!

[Somehow, Zenos is not dead. He drags himself to his feet, spitting blood, and reaches for his sword.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Hah…hah…hah… The hunter has indeed become the hunted.

Zenos Yae Galvus: And yet…there is only joy. Transcendent joy that I have never known. How invigorating, how…pure, this feeling.

Lyse: Is that what this was all about? All the meaningless death and destruction? So you could feel something!?

Zenos Yae Galvus: Meaningless? Men die that others may live. Those who survive are stronger for it.

Zenos Yae Galvus: Not that you could ever understand. To have stood upon this great stage of fools…to have played my part to perfection…

Zenos Yae Galvus: Oh, this…this moment…let it be enshrined in eternity. My heart…beating out of time… So clear, so vivid, so real… So real.

[Zenos raises his blade and lays the edge of it against his own neck.]

Alphinaud: Coward!

Lyse: Stop!

[Lyse lunges forward to stop Zenos, but she is not fast enough.]

[Zenos looks at the Warrior of Light.]

Zenos Yae Galvus: Farewell, my first friend. My enemy.

[Zenos slits his own throat.]

[Raubahn, Hien, and Pipen run in.]

Raubahn: Where is he?

Alphinaud: He’s dead. By his own hand.

Raubahn: Then justice has been done.

Lyse: No…there’s no justice in that…in that rabid animal’s end.

Alphinaud: Liberty or death. That so many should be forced to take up this creed to defeat such madness…

Raubahn: We won. Forget him. The living have need of us now.

Hien: Stand tall, Lyse! Now is the time to raise a cheer for all who fought for freedom! A cheer loud enough to carry to the highest heavens!

Lyse: …You’re right.

Lyse: Thank you. Without you… Well…you know.

Lyse: So let’s do it together. For Ala Mhigo!

[More of the Alliance come running in. Arenveld sees Zenos’ dead body and blows a battle horn. People cheer.]

[The victory progression begins, as the assembled people sing the Ala Mhigan anthem.]

“O come ye wayward brothers,

Bereft of hearth and home,

Beneath yon burning star there lies

A haven for the bold.

Raise up your hands and voices,

Let fill your hearts with pride,

Above the churning waters

We stand strong and unified.”

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[Lyse narrates: “In crimson it began, and in crimson it ended. And then…and then we were free.”]

.[Lyse narrates: “But what is freedom, really? We may be free to live, to love, to grow old. To have dreams and desires, and to strive for them. But in the end, we’re defined by the legacy our forefathers bequeath to us. Even Zenos was once a baby in the cradle, innocent and pure. He was made into a creature that lived only for death, not born one. Twenty years of Imperial rule have left Ala Mhigo torn and bleeding. It won’t be easy to heal a generation’s worth of wounds, to bridge the gap. But I won’t give up, Papalymo. I won’t. Because I remember the price of freedom. I remember the smoke and the blood. I remember the screams…and the silence. And I’ll do whatever it takes to honor their sacrifice. To build a home for us all. I promise you. This is the end. The end of the imperial province of Ala Mhigo, and the rebirth of Ala Mhigo the free nation. Long may she endure.”]

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[Roll credits!]

[We then see Estinien walking in the flowers in the Royal Menagerie.]

Estinien: Well, well, well, what a fine mess we’ve made.

[He looks down in the flowers and sees Nidhogg’s eyes lying there.]

Estinien: All but spent feeding that primal, eh? Well, you won’t be making any mischief with that amount of aether.

[He pulls out his spear and holds it over one of the eyes, blade almost touching.]

Estinien: Still…better safe than sorry.

[He spears each eye in turn. They dissolve into reddish mist and vanish.]

Estinien: There. There ends your hateful legacy.

[Estinien walks away.]

[Elsewhere, in the Garlean Empire, Varis zos Galvus stands before a bank of control panels.]

Varis zos Galvus: …It’s over.

???: My condolences for your loss. A father should not outlive his son.

Varis zos Galvus: …What nonsense.

[The mystery speaker is revealed as Elidibus, the white-robed Ascian.]

Elidibus: You do not mourn his loss? …You surprise me, Your Radiance. He was your son and heir…and an irreplaceable test subject.

Varis zos Galvus: I know what he was. Monsters are not made for thrones.

Varis zos Galvus: Nor are stars made to sustain false gods who sup on their very essence. Eikons summoned by desperate savages who hearken to the whispers of shadowless charlatans.

Elidibus: Should you raise a hand against my black-robed brethren, I will not stop you. Our desires are one and the same. Preservation. Restoration.

Varis zos Galvus: Compression. Resurrection. All is in service to your “one true god.” And when the sundered shards are made whole, will there be a place for us mere mortals?

Elidibus: Doubt my claims and question my motives if you will, Your Radiance. You will come to trust me in time. Until then, mayhap you will find this…reassuring.

[Elidibus turns his back to the camera, then takes off his red half-mask so Varis can see his face. Varis looks astonished.]

Varis zos Galvus: How…how dare you…

[Back in Ala Mhigo]

Lyse: We did it. We liberated Ala Mhigo. I don’t know what to say… I don’t even know how to feel about it all…

Lyse: Relief, I suppose. Pride…and hope, too. We did it, Father. Yda. Papalymo. Conrad, Meffrid… Minfilia… We really did it…

Lyse: Hey, don’t feel like you have to stand here listening to me mumble. Everyone else will want to talk to you.

Lyse: You beat him, after all. You’re the real hero of this story. So run along and take your plaudits!

M’naago: Can you believe it? We won! We beat the bastards! Ala Mhigo! Ala Mhigo!

M’naago: Heh heh… Sorry, got a bit carried away there, didn’t I? It’s hard not to, you know?

M’naago: We owe it to the friends we buried to shout and scream and cheer with all our hearts. I want them to know it wasn’t for nothing─that it’s finally over, and they can rest in peace.

M’naago: You…you hear that lads? <sniffle> We’ll be all right! We’ll…we’ll be… <sniffle> Oh bugger, not again…

M’naago: I’m so…I’m so bleedin’ happy, I could cry! <sniffle>

Alphinaud: After all we have been through, I really should know better than to worry, but─as ever─the relief I felt upon finding you hale and whole in the Royal Menagerie well-nigh reduced me to tears…

Alphinaud: “The Warrior of Light,“ victorious again… Hm. I should be surprised if some small part of you had not come to resent the title and the responsibilities which accompany it. You must forgive us if we call you ”hero“ when you accomplish heroic feats…

Alphinaud: But as the Warrior of Light goes, so goes the world. You should take pride in the good you have done, and in the good you have inspired others to do.

Thancred: You are a natural born leader of men, Auric. All these people weren’t just following their commanders─they were following you.

Alphinaud: And you led them to victory. To freedom! …Alas, not everyone could see the journey through to its end. But history shall remember them, and the glorious future they made possible.

Raubahn: The hero of the hour! I suppose we’ll have to add “liberator” to your titles.

Raubahn: With their commander fallen, the remainder of the XIIth chose to surrender to our forces. After twenty long years, it’s official:  the occupation is ended.

Raubahn: But now the hard work starts. Though the people have had their fill of kings, there is no clear consensus on what sort of government they would prefer instead.

Pipin: Indeed, Father. Momentous as this achievement may be, the road which lies before us is no less uncertain than the one we have walked.

Raubahn: Aye, aye. Yet if we can overcome two decades of oppression, I’ve no doubt we can find a way forward. Thank you, Lieutenant, for helping to make this dream a reality.

Yugiri: For you to best Zenos, even after he had harnessed the power of a primal, is a testament to your ever-growing strength.

Hien: Not bitter to have had your vengeance stolen from you by another?

Yugiri: There is some small regret, perhaps, but that is outweighed by the satisfaction I find in his death. I commend you, Auric.

Hien: As should we all. Zenos was a monster and a tyrant─the man who killed my father and countless other of my countrymen. The world is a better place without him in it.

Hien: I should also praise Master Alphinaud for his foresight and restraint. Had he not intervened, I might never have had the pleasure of being reunited with Hakuro and his Lupin brothers!

Hakuro: ‘Twas a timely intervention, aye. Full glad am I not to have been burdened with the guilt of killing my lord Hien’s most trusted allies.

Yugiri: Hah! Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

Lyse: Finished your rounds? Great. In that case, I’d like you to come with me. Back to Rhalgr’s Reach.

Lyse: Not for a rematch or anything, sadly. I want to call all the Scions together. I’ll explain later.

[At Rhalgr’s Reach]

[Scions gathered]

Lyse: I…I don’t even know where to begin…

Lyse: We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we? I can’t thank you enough.

Lyse: There’s something I need to say to you all. That is, if you have a moment…?

 Lyse: Good, you’re all here. Good, good…

Lyse: “Thank you“ doesn’t really suffice, does it? I’m grateful…truly grateful, from the bottom of my heart.

Lyse: But I know you didn’t fight so hard just to hear me or anyone else say that. You fought because you wanted to help─because you believed it was right. Because you’re Scions.

Lyse: Now, I’m obviously a Scion, but as Conrad left me in charge of things here, I also have responsibilities to Ala Mhigo…

Lyse: When I put it like that, though…I realized I couldn’t even pretend to be impartial anymore. So it seemed best to make it official.

Lyse: As long as I serve Ala Mhigo, I can’t be a Scion. It might be selfish and shortsighted…but that’s my decision.

Y’shtola: Am I to understand that you summoned us all─some of us still nursing wounds─to hear this?

Lyse: Oh! I-I…I didn─ Um…

Y’shtola: Hahaha! Forgive me, Lyse! ‘Twas but a jest.

Y’shtola: But this I say with the utmost sincerity:   Scion or no, we are comrades. Now and ever after.

Y’shtola: Is that not so?

[Nods all around]

Y’shtola: There you have it. Come what may, you may count on us in your hour of need. We shall never refuse you.

Lyse: Y’shtola… Oh gods, I swore I wouldn’t cry…

[On a sunny beach somewhere…]

???: Come back here, you slippery little devil! <grumble> To think fishing could be so difficult!

???: What greater proof of a man’s lingering mortality than an empty belly. A fate worse than death.

???: Fie on it. To have arrived at the appointed place and time, only to survive by mere force of habit. Truly, the kami are not finished with us yet.

[Like I tried to tell people, we never saw a body.]

Gosetsu: O capricious fortune! How you test me with this wretched soul…

[What’s surprising is Yotsuyu is there too –  seemingly unconscious, but alive!]

[Somewhere else, I think in the Lochs, Cid and the Ironworks crew are studying a crater.]

Cid: …Hm. This is indeed the work of either Shinryu or Omega.

Cid: …And since there is undeniably something down there radiating a massive amount of energy…which cannot very well be the late viceroy’s lapdragon… Yes, I think we have our suspect.

Cid: Well. This is a mess of our own making, so it falls to us to clean it up. It won’t be easy…but is it ever?

Jessie: And now comes the part where you say you’ve got no choice but to divert company resources and employees to this pet project of yours. Lost profits and belligerent clients be damned.

Cid: I…er… Financial considerations notwithstanding, you have to admit there is an unquantifiable benefit in giving our people the opportunity to study such advanced technology─

Jessie: Oh? Is that before or after you blow it up or seal it away? Fine, fine─but the moment I judge this little venture an unsustainable risk to the Ironworks, I’m ending it, savvy?

Jessie: And to keep you honest, using my authority as deputy president, I’ve gone ahead and brought in a consultant─a master engineer and mechanical genius!

Cid: …You didn’t.

???: Come now, you mustn’t build their expectations too high! It will be less dramatic when I surpass them.

Cid: Oh. Oh no. Absolutely not. This is not happening.

[Nero has a new outfit but he STILL can’t be bothered to shave properly. Either clean it up or grow it out, man!]

Nero tol Scaeva: Nero tol Scaeva, eager to begin his first day as a loyal member of the Ironworks team! Looking forward to working with you, Garlond!

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