FFXIV: Stormblood Story Summary

DISCLAIMER:
The following is a crash course for the plot of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood.  IT CONTAINS SPOILERS, it does not have any sort of personal insight, and is mainly meant as a tool for those who have skipped, forgotten, or want a refresher on the major plot points of the Stormblood narrative.

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Stormblood (4.0)

The summoning of the primal Shinryu by Ilberd and the attack on Baelsar’s Wall has trapped the Eorzean Alliance into action as they incident would be viewed as a pre-empt to war regardless.  However, the Alliance would rather not act alone. General Raubahn asks the Warrior of Light and the Scions to aid him in brokering a pact with the Ala Mhigan resistance to fortify their local presence in Gyr Abania.  Joined by Alisaie and Lyse, the Warrior of Light makes contact with the commander of the Resistance – Conrad Kemp – and strikes a deal to work together to free Ala Mhigo from the Garlean Empire.

This new partnership is tested thoroughly through a preliminary mission to assault and destroy a prototype magitek weapon being escorted by Grynewaht – the Imperial Soldier they faced in the Carteneau Flats – and then tested again when confronting The Skulls – a group of vile Ala Mhigans conscripted into the Imperial Army.  Each act strengthening the resolve of both the Resistance and the Alliance and bolstering their faith in the success of this war, drawing in new allies who are willing to pledge themselves to the cause.

However, such faith is shortlived.  During the next operation to assault Castrum Velodyna, the Warrior of Light’s espionage is interrupted by the sound of cannons and smoke rising from the Resistance headquarters of Rhalgr’s Reach.  With the majority of the Resistance and Alliance forces dedicated toward the operation to attack Castrum Velodyna, it seems the Empire decided to attack Rhalgr’s Reach. They rush back just in time to see the vicious assault being led by the commander of the Imperial Forces in Gyr Abania, the armor clad man with a collection of swords at his waist: Zenos yae Galvus, son of the Emperor.

Zenos’ assault has butchered the Resistance, leaving most of the Reach’s population dead and the Warrior of Light’s companions in dire condition, the Warrior steps forth to face Zenos.  However, their strength proves to be no match for the Imperial Viceroy and they are left almost on death’s door. However instead of finishing you off, the Crown Prince seems disappointed and leaves you for dead and departs the battlefield.

The defeat has deflated what little morale the Resistance had, but both Raubahn and the young Miqo’te M’naago who insist that their sacrifices must not go to waste.  Alphinaud suggests that since Zenos had conquered Doma before becoming the viceroy of Ala Mhigo, that there is a potential there to draw out and divide Zenos’ forces on two fronts half a world apart from each other, making it that much easier to deal with.  The Warrior of Light sets out to the trading port city of Kugane with Lyse, Alisaie and Tataru to seek out a means to stoke the fires of rebellion within Doma.

However what help they find in Kugane is not from what is ahead but what is behind as they find aid in the form of Hancock, a man from Uldah who works in Kugane to further the business interests of none other than Lord Lolorito of the Monetarists. Hancock tips off the group to a Namazu that might know of a way to cross the Ruby Sea that separates Kugane from Doma proper, but the effort proves to be more problematic than initially thought leading to the Warrior of Light and company raising the ire of the local authorities.  In an effort to escape, they are helped by Soroban, a member of the Kojin beast tribe, who agrees to help in exchange for arranging a trading deal between the Kojin and Hancock. The adventures in Kugane conclude with the reunion of the Warrior of Light and the samurai Gosetsu who has had his own share of troubles in the port city while waiting to hear from his ninja companion Yugiri who departed to seek out word of their missing master: Lord Hien, the young king of Doma.

To reach Doma, the Warrior of Light and their allies must cross the Ruby Sea.  That means dealing with a group of pirates calling themselves The Confederacy who demand a tithe to pass across the sea.  Something the Garlean Empire blatantly ignores and taunts them about. It’s revealed that the Empire is working with the Kojin – or more specifically as Soroban explains The Red Kojin, a more mercenary combat oriented clan. Lastly, the groups arrival in Doma proper is marked with an encounter with the current Imperial Governor of the nation: Lady Yotsuyu. A merciless women who eagerly tortures the people of Doma that she rules over.  At her side is none other than Grynewaht, sent to the East to be Yotsuyu’s toadie as punishment for his failures in Gyr Abania. Yotsuyu has rounded up a number of Domans including many who belong to the Confederacy and attempts to force them to murder each other for her amusement. Gosetsu refuses to stand for it and intervenes only to have himself captured. Unwilling to let their comrade face such dire straits, The Warrior of Light, Lyse and Alisaie seek the aid of Confederacy who naturally wish to remain out of it lest they be annihilated completely.  Alisaie decides to wager on their actions instead and asks them to aid them in freeing not only Gosetsu but also the rest of the Domans in the village, if they can defeat the Red Kojin that have pledged themselves to the Empire. Skeptical of their ability to do so, the Confederacy accepts the terms and the Warrior of Light sets off to seek the Blue Kojin to gain aid in attacking the Red. They end up infiltrating the Red Kojin’s sacred island and defeating the Primal kami of Susano, the Lord of the Revel. Upon returning, they find that the Confederacy have kept their bargain and freed the village from Yotsuyu’s men.  Though Gosetsu is heavily wounded from Grynewaht’s interrogation, the group continue their search for Lord Hien and venturing deeper into the region of Yanxia at the heart of Doma.

The group arrives in Yanxia, only to see the terrible conditions people are in.  They meet up with the Doma Liberation Front and reunite with Yugiri, Lord Hien’s personal ninja. The reunion is short lived however as a disturbance in the village draws everyone’s attention. It seems that the Imperial soldiers of the nearby Castrum have shown up to conscript a number of the local villagers. The Warrior of Light and Yugiri decide to team up to quietly infiltrate the Imperial Camps and free the prisoners before they become slave labor. Upon returning, Yugiri and the Warrior of Light learn that Prince Zenos has returned to Doma to stifle any similar uprising to what transpired in Gyr Abania.  Yugiri wishes to assassinate Zenos from the shadows, but the others hesitate in the wake of the complete slaughter that happened at the Reach. Gosetsu asks her to remember their master’s words that without a people ready to fight back, attacking the Empire directly would simply invite death. Yugiri acknowledges the group’s decision but still decides to sneak out with the Warrior of Light to attempt to assassinate Zenos. Even with the element of surprise, Yugiri falls against Zenos’ powerful attacks. The Warrior of Light – now stronger than in the Reach – manages to hold their own until Zenos switches weapons and dispatches them.  Zenos however recognizes that the Warrior of Light is stronger now, and the Viceroy asks that the Warrior continue live and grow stronger so that he may fight them once more. While Zenos talks to the Warrior, Yugiri uses the chance to attack and try to kill Zenos again, but he quickly turns and almost kills her if not for the intervention of Gosetsu, Alisaie and a group of armed villagers that Warrior of Light and Yugiri saved earlier. Zenos spares them all and takes his leave letting them return and regroup in the Liberation Front base. After Yugiri recovers, the group discusses the next move. They note that the Eorzean Alliance is too far out to send aid but much of the Imperial forces from Doma has been withdrawn over the years too.  The Liberation Front and an inspired uprising may be enough to take Doma Castle and Gosetsu says that if inspiration is what they need, then they must seek out Lord Hien, last seen to the North in the Azim Steppe.

Meanwhile, Zenos berates Yotsuyu before departing back to Eorzea. She declares she wants the Warrior of Light’s head and the head of everyone they care about mounted on the Castle Walls and sets Grynewaht loose to eliminate them.  Back in Eorzea, Estinien has hunted the trail of Niddhog’s eyes back to a massive hole made in the battle between Shinryu and Omega.

The Azim Steppe is home to the countless wandering Xaela tribes. You meet with a number of members of Qestir tribe which leads you to the Mol tribe that found Hien nearly dead years ago.  You finally are able to meet with Lord Hien, king of Doma, who is happy to hear that his people are ready to rise up but he fears it won’t be enough. So he has decided to enter the Nadaam – a ritual battle to claim leadership of the Xaela tribes and sit upon the Dawn Throne. He plans to help the Mol tribe claim control from the Oronir tribe that currently controls the Steppe and in exchange, they will lend the Xaela’s aid to the reclamation of Doma. First the Warrior of Light and Hien must complete the trials of Bardam’s Mettle to become recognized warriors among the Xaela. The group mingles with Xaela politics including Magnai of the Oronir and Sadu of the Undying Dotharl. This culminates in the Naadam, where Hien and the Warrior of Light fight on behalf of the Mol Clan and emerge victorious. Only for Grynewaht to appear with a magitek tank.  The Warrior of Light leads both his comrades and the warriors of the Steppe against the Imperial strike force and successfully drive Grynewaht back. With that settled, the Mol take their rightfully won place upon the Dawn Throne and beseech that the other clans listen to what Hien has to say. Hien successfully convinces the Xaela to lend their aid in the fight for Doma, and the group prepares to head south with hopes of victory against the Garleans.

Alphinaud has spent his time while you were in the Steppe planning the attack.  The Doman militia and the Liberation Front will strike around the kingdom to create a distraction for the Imperial forces, the Xaela will occupy Doma Castle’s defenses with an aerial attack while the Shinobi, Alphinaud and Alisaie disable the magitek forcefield that bars the waters around the castle from the Ruby Sea so then both the Confederacy and the Kojin can join in the attack.  Finally, a strike time led by the Warrior of Light will infiltrate the castle and defeat Yotsuyu. However, to ensure victory, Yotsuyu must remain trapped in the castle.. To which the only solution is to drown the structure. Though Hien is apprehensive about destroying his home, he recognizes that Doma is more than the seat of government – it’s her people. And her people need freedom more than a castle.

Alphinaud’s plan is executed flawlessly.  Within Doma Castle, the Warrior of Light faces off with Grynewaht a final time. The Imperial soldier has infused himself with magitek machinery to turn himself into a half machine monster.  The Warrior of Light defeats him once and for all before meeting with Hien, Lyse and Gosetsu who have cornered Yotsuyu. Yotsuyu is offered a chance to plead her case to Hien and she relays the story of her past.  She lived in the shadow of her brother was a prodigy that was taken to the Empire to study, her parents adored him and despised her and eventually sold their own daughter off to marry an abusive nobleman. When her husband passed, she was enslaved to a brothel to pay off her late husband’s numerous debts.  She gave in to her depression and gave up on life. Her time at the pleasure house was spent more as a doll than a companion. Eventually she turned spiteful and became a spy for the Empire, feeding them intel that would lead to aid in their conquest. This would lead to her being made governess by Zenos, with the instruction to wreak revenge on her countrymen that used her for so many years.

However, with her tale now complete, she reveals that she wasn’t seeking sympathy or forgiveness but time.  She had rigged the castle with explosives and was stalling so she could bring the king and his entire crew down with her.  The explosions go off and the roof begins to collapse. Gosetsu grabs the ceiling to buy everyone time to escape but Yotsuyu pulls a small revolver and unloads the entire thing into Gosetsu’s chest. Gosetsu pleads for you all to leave, and that it is a retainers duty to die for his master.  The Warrior of Light and the others flee to just barely escape the crushing roof of the castle as the whole structure collapses into the water. As the dust settles and victory is won, Alphinaud asks Soroban of the Blue Kojin to inspect the submerged ruins for signs of Gosetsu, but to no avail.  Resigned that moving forward is what Gosetsu would want, Lord Hien addresses his people to tell them that they are now free men and women, but that they must not be complacent. Rebuilding lies ahead, and any possible repercussions from the Empire. For the Scions, there is no time to rest. The Confederacy helps them return to Kugane and secure quick passage from the port city back to Limsa Lominsa.  The battle for Ala Mhigo begins again.

Word has spread among both the resistance and the Imperial forces in Gyr Abania of the victory over the Empire in Doma.  Strengthening the resolve of the former and causing concern among the latter. However, in the wake of the defeat at Rhalgar’s Reach, Conrad believes that the Resistance is in need of new leadership with a fresh perspective.  He offers the position to Lyse who is uncertain of the offer. She doesn’t view herself as the leader that her father was during the first insurrection against the Empire, or even her sister Yda. The next operation is to finish the previous failure and take Castrum Velodyna. The Alliance attacks and draws out the Imperial Forces and the resistance infiltrates with the goal of replacing the Garlean flag at the Castrum with the Gyr Abania flag, causing enough confusion to push the enemy out.  Only one stands their ground: Fordola, the leader of the Skulls. After a confrontation though, even Fordola flees and victory has been claimed giving the Resistance and the Alliance an inroad to the upper Fringes.

The Qalyana want revenge for what the Skulls have done to their tribe, and after Fordola kills the Queen’s daughter, they decide to summon their Primal god – Sri Lakshmi – to resurrect her daughter, which she does but only her body and not her soul.  Realizing that they have to do something not only as Scions but as Ala Mhigans, Lyse asks the Warrior of Light to help put the primal to rest while the Resistance pushes into the Peaks. Alisaie attempts to reason with the Qalyana and expose the half truths and lies that the Primals use to manipulate their followers. Lakshmi however decides to temper her followers and force the conflict. With the primal defeated and the future of relations between Ala Mhigo and the Qalyana left uncertain, the Warrior of Light rides ahead to find the Alliance and Resistance having taken another Imperial base and working on plans to attack the main Imperial camp in the Peaks – Specula Imperatoris.

The Alliance forces led by Raubahn and Pippin and the Resistance led by Conrad assault the fortress of Specula Imperatoris.  The fight goes well as they push through the compound and Conrad even convinces the Skulls to stand down. Then from the eastern edge of the Peaks comes a thundering noise.  The weapons research facility of Castrum Abania launched their massive cannon at Specula Imperatoris and destroyed the base of the main tower sending the entire thing toppling down on those fighting below – both Imperial and Resistance.  Many are able to escape, but as the dust settles it is clear that the attack took its toll: Conrad lies dying in the ruins among many of his countrymen. With his dying words, Conrad begs Lyse to take leadership of the Resistance. Not because she is Curtis Hext’s daughter, or Yda’s sister. But because she is her.  Lyse tearfully agrees to Curtis’ request as the older man passes. Meanwhile at Castrum Abania, the Imperial army prepared for another firing of the cannon, however Estinien appears and destroys the pipeline that powers the cannon before departing. Lyse and the Warrior of Light convene on a cliff to talk about the role of leadership, but when Lyse sees the smoke rising from Castrum Abania she sees their chance for some payback and rallies a strike team to take out the base and make whoever sent the order to attack pay.

The Warrior of Light, Alphinaud, Alisaie, Lyse and a team of Resistance fighters fought their way through the strange and monstrous experiments within the Empire’s weapon factory.  They finally breached the control room to face off with the one who ordered the attack: Fordola rem Lupis. Lyse became enraged demanding to know why Fordola would launch an attack that killed not only her countrymen but the Empire she pledged loyalty to including her own squadron. Fordola explains that she is fighting for acceptance and freedom for Ala Mhigo by proving to the Empire that they are useful.  But it’s not enough to just serve. Serving the military guarantees citizenship with the Empire, but then you’re still an Ala Mhigan. So you must be willing to do anything no matter how awful to prove yourself. Lyse lets loose and attacks Fordola with Alisaie jumping in quickly to aid her. However, unlike the other times facing Fordola, the Skull leader seems to almost have a sixth sense for the battle. Dodging attacks from all directions with ease and critically injuring Alisaie. The Warrior of Light steps in and Fordola realizing that she might be able to take the other two but not the Warrior of Light. She escapes out the window and shouts that the Warrior of Light and their “horde” are invited  to Zenos’ “Royal Hunt” in the capital. The Warrior of Light and Alphinaud take Alisaie back to Rhalgr’s Reach to recover while Lyse readies the troops to march to the Lochs where the capital city of Ala Mhigo resides.

With Castrum Abania now completely under the control of the Alliance, they discover something of interest to the Warrior of Light and their friends.  That the Skulls took exactly one prisoner and brought them back to the capital: Krile. The Scions are concerned for the fate of their friends and Thancred immediately begins work to track down Krile’s location in the capital.  Meanwhile, the Resistance and Alliance make plans to infiltrate by sea and storm through the residential areas of the capital to secure a foothold, then the main force will assault the city proper. The Scions and the Warrior of Light will remain on reserve until they are either needed or Krile is located.

As the attack begins, word from Thancred reaches the Warrior of Light that Krile is being held in an Imperial Research Facility deep within the city.  To reach it, they’ll need to dive through the Loch and into the sewers below the city but before they depart the Warrior of Light is greeted by Urianger who prepared a new tool to combat Fordola after listening to Alisaie’s description of the Skulls’ prescient powers.  The Aetheric Syphon as he calls it should draw out and neutralize Fordola’s sixth sense. The Scions navigate their way through the underground tunnels to the Ala Mhigan District where they break into the facility to find Krile. Within the facility, the Warrior of Light and the Scions face off with Fordola a final time.  Urianger’s gift seems to serve its purpose, but Fordola is still a fierce warrior. This time however, the Warrior of Light emerges victorious and Krile is saved although incredibly weakened. Fordola taunts the Scions that Zenos has more power than they can possibly imagine and that they are simple lambs to be slaughtered by the Crown Prince.  There may be some truth to her words as the Scions discover that what they were doing here was researching Krile’s connection to the Echo in order to artificially replicate it in Garleans to circumvent their natural inability to use magic. Fordola was the test subject and Zenos the first successful Resonant. Troubled by the possibility that Zenos could now tap into the Echo and possible more.  However that must wait as the main assault is ready to begin.

The forces of the Resistance and the Eorzean Alliance gather at the front gate to assault the city. The Empire launches an aerial assault since the armies at their gate have no aerial forces, but that is where they are wrong as the horns sound and a third army joins the cause.  Lord Hien arrives with the forces of Doma and the Azim Steppe upon massive birds to intercept the magitek flying machines. With both land and sky now covered, the united forces push through the city and toward the castle. There the Warrior of Light confronts Zenos yae Galvus a third time, only this time they are ready for the Viceroy and force him to fall back deeper into the castle.  However Zenos is not frightened but laughs excitedly. The Warrior of Light has become the beast that Zenos hoped for and now the time of the hunt has come. He beckons the Warrior of Light into the Royal Menagerie at the very top of the palace where Zenos shows off his other pet – Shinryu sealed in a magitek barrier. Zenos speaks of how the Empire has it all wrong when it comes to destroying the Eikons out of fear.  He prefers to conquer them. Zenos releases Shinryu and then activates his own Resonant ability claiming to demonstrate the true power of the Echo that the Warrior of Light won’t even use and then Zenos merges his own Aether with Shinryu and fuses with the massive dragon. Through the most difficult trial in their life yet, the Warrior of Light defeats Shinryu and Zenos collapses back in the gardens below. Confronted now by the Warrior of Light, Lyse, Alphinaud, Hien and Raubahn, Zenos exclaims that he finally feels joy and fulfilled being truly tested in combat.  That it is the way of the world that the strong succeed and the weak die off. But now he has become the hunted – the weak – and despite Lyse protests Zenos bids his final farewell to the Warrior of Light, his nemesis and his only real friend, and then slits his own throat with his katana.

With Zenos gone, the war for liberation has been won.  The heroes of the conflict sing and cheer for their victory as a free Ala Mhigo unfurls her banners across the castle walls once more.  Back in the Royal Menagerie, Estinien completes his quest to find Niddhog’s eyes and with nearly all their aether drained by Shinryu, Estinien plunges his lance into them and destroys the cursed objects once and for all thus ending Niddhog’s legacy of hatred.  In Garlemald, the Emperor meets with the Ascian called Elidibus who offers his sincere apologies for the untimely death of his son. The Emperor does not weep. He knows what his son was and as he says it himself – monsters are not meant for the throne. Elidibus decides to offer the Empire a branch of trust and reveal his face to the Emperor which shocks and offends the monarch.  Back in Rhalgr’s Reach, Lyse meets with the Scions and admits that since she now helps lead Ala Mhigo, she can’t be impartial and thus can’t be a Scion any longer. Y’shtola assures her that Scion or not, they are all her friends and comrades and should Lyse ever need them, they’ll be there. Finally, lost on an unknown island deep in the ocean, a hearty samurai fishes himself a meal.  It seems that Gosetsu lived after all, and by some strange twist of the Kami, so has Yotsuyu.

The Legend Returns (4.1)

As Ala Mhigo begins to rebuild, Lyse sets upon forming a council to decide the future of the nation.  The Warrior of Light, Arenvald, and Alphinaud decide to use the reprieve to do some traditional adventuring and attempt to seek out the lost treasure trove of the Mad King who ruled over Gyr Abania before the Imperials took control of the region.  Piecing together clues and hints, they eventually find the Drowned City of Skalla, inhabited by the undead that the Mad King disposed off to guard his treasures. Upon finding the lost trove, the trio return to Lyse to announce their find and to offer it to Ala Mhigo’s coffers to help fund the rebuilding.  They also find that the people in Ala Mhigo have begun rioting after discovering that Fordola the Butcher and leader of the Skulls is being imprisoned in the capital. The people demand vengeance and blood for blood against Fordola, but Raubahn eases the angry crowds by asking when will the vengeance end? With her?  With all collaborators? With any who didn’t actively resist? The crowd disperses and the Warrior of Light and Arenvald meet with Fordola in her cell where the echo reveals Fordola past being treated as a traitor by the Ala Mhigans for her family siding with the Empire, and the Empire not giving a damn because she was an Eorzean, all culminating in her father who was shielding Fordola from the rocks being thrown at her being killed by taking a large stone to the head.  Fordola also glimpses the hardships the Warrior of Light has suffered through their journeys and is flabbergasted by their ability to carry on. They all step outside and Arenvald makes a mention that he doesn’t think that Fordola can control the echo like they can. That she must be getting pelted constantly with the past emotions and scenes of every angry Ala Mhigan that gets close to her. The group tries to research a bit more into the process that gave Fordola her powers.

Afterward, the Warrior of Light is called to Ul’dah and to meet with the Sultana who explains that while Raubahn claims intent on returning to Ul’dah, she has known her old friend too long and can easily see his desire to stay in his homeland.  To this end, she wishes to adventure out into her kingdom, to learn of its plights and to seek council on how to solve them. Nanamo beseeches the Warrior of Light to escort her in disguise as she ventures around Thanalan and explores the problems facing the displaced refugees of Ala Mhigo.  She seeks council from Godbert Manderville – proprietor of the Golden Saucer – for advice on how to use Ul’dah’s wealth to help the refugees to which he explains that she shouldn’t. That without some manner of profit for Ul’dah that the Monetarists will sabotage it, the downtrodden citizens will resent it, and it will create more problems than solutions for Ul’dah and Ala Mhigo both.  Nanamo recognizes that she doesn’t have the business sense to develop a plan on her own, so she asks the Warrior of Light to make contact with the East Aldenand Trading Company in Kugane, and ultimately put her in contact with their CEO – Lord Lolorito. The two meet in the Waking Sands as a neutral ground and discuss a plan of action: Ul’dah will help fund the establishment of a settlement and business in Ala Mhigo in exchange for a portion of the profits made. With Ul’dah’s course settled, the Warrior of Light returns to Gyr Abania for the summit of the nation’s leaders.

The summit attracts some unexpected guests in the form of the Qalyanna – the tribe of Ananta that worship the primal Lakshmi – who ask for entry to the meeting by stating that all who live in Gyr Albania should have a voice.  Raubahn and the Warrior of Light agree on the terms that they must leave any crystals that have behind. The Qalyanna agree and the summit begins but with extra security due to the unexpected and formerly openly hostile guests.  Lyse leads the summit by asking if any there – elders, tribe leaders, resistance faction heads – would want the empty throne that stands behind them. They all acknowledge that no one wants the throne and begin the meeting by sitting in a circle on the ground and discussing things.  However, the events are disturbed when the Qalyanna declare that all should worship Lakshmi and summons the primal using crystals hidden in the throne room’s waterways. The Warrior of Light and Aranvald stand between the summit guests and the primal to protect them from being enthralled but its not until Lyse runs and frees Fordola who can use her artificial echo to help turn the tide against Lakshmi and they finally defeat the Primal.  Afterward, Fordola is told by one village elder that while they never will forgive her for what she did, they do thank her for saving their lives. Fordola leaves back to her cell with tears in her eyes. Meanwhile, in the royal garden, Raubahn and the Warrior of Light have a chat about Raubahn’s future before Nanamo arrives and relieves Raubahn of his duties as both a member of the Syndicate and the general of the Immortal Flames, with his adopted son Pippin to take his role.  Raubahn now free to help reforge his homeland anew expresses his gratitude.

Meanwhile, in the Empire, a pair of soldiers discuss the lies that Zenos was actually killed being spread by the Eorzean savages.  In fact, one soldier claims, Zenos was merely wounded and has been brought back to the Empire to heal. As the two scoff at the idea that Zenos would ever be bested, a figure clad in white armor looks on from a distance.

And in Kugane, Gosetsu and Yotsuyu, now called “Tsuyu”, are trying to figure out a way to get back to Doma without a single gil to their name.  In fact, Gosetsu even sold his sword which Tsuyu has used the money from to secure the two some dango, much to Gosetsu irritation.

Rise of a New Sun (4.2)

The Warrior of Light receives word from Hancock in Kurogane that a pair of travelers matching the description of Gosetsu and Yotsuyu have been seen around the city.  The Warrior of Light teams up with Yugiri to seek out their friend and adversary before finding them under Imperial attack in the Ruby Sea. After helping them, Gosetsu explains that “Tsuyu” as she likes to be called has completely lost her memory and has returned to having the demeanor of a small child.  Alisaie and Yugiri remain skeptical of this convenient claim but join with Gosetsu to return to Doma and speak with Lord Hien.

When the group arrives and explains things, Hien ponders the situation.  Though the Empire still pursues Tsuyu out of fear of her knowing some Imperial secrets, if she truly lost her memory then she is no threat.  However, the people of Doma have not forgotten her. While Lord Hien deliberates their next move, he asks that Tsuyu be kept out of sight. This proves advantageous since their very next visitor is an Imperial airship firing a white smoke signal – an old Doman custom for ships to relay that they wish for a peaceful encounter.  Hien asks Yugiri to signal in kind as he wishes to meet this Imperial who is familiar with Doman history.

That Imperial is none other than Asahi, Yotsuyu’s step brother who was raised in Garlemald and has grown up quite fond of the history of his homeland.  He also claims to be a member of a political party in the Empire that seeks to curtail the former Emperor’s more expansionist tendencies and thus has come to Doma to negotiate peace.  As he explains to Lord Hien, that the current Emperor’s goal is that ridding the world of Eikons – or Primals as the Eorzeans say – and it would be much easier to do in Asahi’s view when they are not fighting each other.  He even appeals to the Scions that are present by expressing his understanding of the vicious cycle that the Empire’s force to prevent summonings leads to more summonings to defend the beast tribes. While this all sounds good, Lord Hien is naturally a bit skeptical.  Asahi proposes a prisoner exchange between the two nations then. A return of Doman conscripts in exchange for Imperial prisoners. Hien requests time to think it over which Asahi has no issue with.

While Hien deliberates, the Warrior of Light and Yugiri show Asahi around Doma. Allowing him to see the state of his former homeland that he had only read about.  Asahi laments the state that the country had fallen into, how desperate things had become, and even leads the Warrior of Light and Yugiri into battle to protect some local children from some violently attacking Red Kojin who had no place being this far from the Ruby Sea.  Upon returning, Hien agrees to the prisoner exchange with a single exception: should Tsuyu not regain her memory by the time of the exchange, that she remain in Doma. Asahi asks to speak with his sister privately first. He returns noting that she truly doesn’t seem to remember anything.  With that he entrusts her to Hien for the time being and they begin to work out the details of the prisoner exchange.

The next day, Asahi and his entourage depart Yanxia but before they do, Asahi asks to speak with the Warrior of Light alone. A request the Warrior happily obliges but quickly regrets as Asahi’s face contorts into a deranged scowl of rage.  He threatens the Warrior of Light for harming his master, lord, and inspiration – Zenos. Asahi reveals himself to be an almost fanatical devotee to the late Viceroy and makes it clear that the Warrior of Light will pay for what transpired in Ala Mhigo. The Warrior of Light tries to react but Asahi mocks him saying that the Warrior should attack the only chance Doma has at making peace with the Empire. With that exchange, the Garleans leave and the Warrior of Light shares what transpired with their allies.  Hien is put off by this but remains steadfast on the prisoner exchange, hoping that if it means they can bring more countrymen home then it’s worth playing this twisted game. Meanwhile, Tsuyu stares longingly at a mirror that Asahi presented her with during their private meeting pondering who the woman in the mirror really is. Finally, back in the heart of the Empire, a doctor checks in on his patient who tells him to leave him alone. That patient? Zenos. Somehow still alive and well.

Under the Moonlight (4.3)

Due to old age and pushing himself too far too many times, Gosetsu has injured himself and has been resting under the care of Tsuyu.  Hien suggests that the twins and the Warrior of Light visit the grizzled samurai to offer some friendly company. While they visit, Gosetsu mentions that he’d love a persimmon from the nearby village of Namai that he enjoyed in his youth.  This spurs Tsuyu to leave the safety and secrecy of the Doman Enclave to go look for one. The Warrior of Light, Yugiri, and Lord Hien finally spotted her but it’s too late, the other villagers have seen her and recognized her. Hien pleads with them to understand that Tsuyu has lost her memories and is – at the moment – harmless to anyone.  Still seeing the faces of her previous life’s victims starts to spark memories in Tsuyu and she begs forgiveness. Seeing how scared she is, the villagers trust their Lord’s words and let Tsuyu be, even giving her the persimmon that she sought.

From Namai, the group heads to Castrum Fulminis the former Imperial base in the Yanxia region to meet with Asahi and demonstrate Tsuyu’s memory loss.  However, Asahi is not without his own set of tricks as he brought along guests as well. Namely, He and Tsuyu’s parents that were responsible for so much of her suffering in childhood.  Tsuyu was clearly distraught by their appearance and experienced additional flashes of memory, but still did not regain her memories in full. Accepting that his trick did not succeed he wishes his sister well and plans to proceed with the rest of the prisoner exchange at the agreed upon time at the island fortress that is part of the Castrum.  With that he whispers into Tsuyu’s ear that she WILL be rejoining them very soon and the Imperials depart. Alphinaud however makes note of the massive pile of crates that the Empire brought with them and that were quick to pack up afterward.

That night while discussing the events of the day, a servant busted into the room and announces that Tsuyu has gone missing again.  This time the Warrior of Light finds the dying forms of Tsuyu’s parents outside and uses the Echo to see what transpired. It seems that Yotsuyu’s memories did indeed return and out of guilt for Gosetsu’s kindness she was going to try to commit suicide… until her parents appeared.  Her mother screamed at her still believing she had no memories that it was her fault they were being forced back into squalor living in Doma after have a rich lifestyle for so many years in the Empire thanks to Asahi’s position. Her father however notes that she has no memories and it wouldn’t be good to scorn her for something she can’t remember.  However, he notes, that she does have her good looks still and will probably fetch a pretty price. Yotsuyu cackles at them and consigns herself to be the monster they created. She swiftly kills both parents with a single strike of her blade each, much to the elation of her dear brother who was watching from the shadows. The two departed into the night together. The Warrior of Light tells Hien what they had witnessed and realizing that Asahi is clearly playing at something, they plan to take precautions for the prisoner exchange.

Lord Hien tasks Alphinaud and Yugiri with scoping out Castrum Fulminis and identifying the best escape routes to get everyone – including the former conscripts – out of there fast.  Realizing that their ferries couldn’t carry that many people, Hien asks Alisaie and the Warrior of Light to join him in meeting with the Confederacy to see about acquiring a larger boat to transport people in a single trip.  With some eager humbleness on the part of Hien and some convincing that many of the conscripts are returning to homes and families that no longer exist and thus could find homes in the Confederacy to bolster their numbers, the pirates agree to the terms and provide a ship.  With everything in place, the group head to the prisoner exchange. Hien notes that the strange crates have once again appeared in this new location, and Asahi assures him that they were gifts to aid in the rebuilding of Doma. However, the farce is short lived as Yotsuyu returns in her full fearsome glory and demands that they all bow before her – the rightful ruler of Doma – and prepare to be punished as per Lord Zenos’ command.  Hien dismisses her and says she is free to return to the Empire but her authority in Doma is no longer recognized. Yotsuyu cries out that she will see every single one of them tortured and broken, and as she speaks Asahi presses a button and opens the crates to reveal a wealth of crystals. Alphinaud realizes that this is summoning and in response Asahi declares that a citizen of Doma – since Hien never withdraw his claim of citizenship over Tsuyu – has performed a summoning and violated the terms of the peace treaty.  With everything going to hell, and Yotsuyu transforming herself into the primal Tsukuyomi, the Goddess of the Moon, the group flees to get the prisoners out and leaves the Warrior of Light to face off with the mad goddess.

Upon Tsukuyomi’s defeat, Asahi returns to put the final bullets into his weakened sister’s body. Reiterating to the Warrior of Light his previous statements about how now that a Doman citizen has performed a summoning the peace treaty is null and void.  However, his maniacal ranting is cut off by a pair of blades that impale him. It would seem with the last of her strength, Yotsuyu has summoned a pair of aetherical swords to kill the last person she ever truly wanted to see die, and at last she feels content as her brothers blood splatters upon her near lifeless form.  The Warrior of Light is then joined by the rest of the group, which now includes Gosetsu who kneels before Yotsuyu and weeps. However, Pilus Maxima – Asahi’s second in command – approaches Lord Hien. While Asahi had his own plot in mind, Maxima is very much still a member of the Populares who wish to create alliances with other nations and would very much like to continue with the prisoner exchange.  However, when the Warrior of Light reveals that this Primal summoning was a plot of Zenos – a vision they glimpsed from the Echo in Asahi’s final moments – and Maxima confirming that Zenos is alive leads a good deal of confusion among the group. After all, they buried Zenos themselves after the events of the Battle of Ala Mhigo. Maxima assures them he is very much alive, and this leads Alphinaud to ask if he could join Maxima in returning to the Empire.  Alphinaud suspects possible Ascian involvement and would like to inspect things himself. Maxima welcomes his expertise and they depart.

The Domans reunite with their lost loved ones and Gosetsu appears with his head now shaved announcing that he will spend the rest of his days on pilgrimage to pray for the souls who lost their lives to suffering.  Hien thanks him for all that he has done in his life and Gosetsu departs. The twins and the Warrior of Light then return to Rhalgr’s Reach and meet with Lyse to explain the troubling news that Zenos may indeed be alive.  Thancred joins in and asks if anyone has checked the tomb where the Prince’s corpse was buried. Burdened with the grim deed, the group travel to the Lochs and open the unmarked tomb to find that it is indeed empty. Which narrows down that either a doppelganger stole the corpse to hide evidence or – in the fearful more likely scenario – an Ascian has possessed the corpse of the late Crown Prince.  Meanwhile, an unknown Resistance soldier watches on. Later that same soldier is rummaging through the wreckage of Magitek weaponry when a superior Resistance officer confronts him. The unknown soldier draws forth a katana and slays his superior revealing him to have the mind of Zenos himself trapped within the random soldier.

Elsewhere, Alphinaud rides in an Imperial airship and discusses the region they are flying over with Maxima.  Apparently it is a vast desert devoid of Aether known as ‘The Burn’. Just then, they are attacked by Imperial Magitek with no identification markings.  They crash the airship but most of the Imperials and Alphinaud escape. It would seem that the Crown Prince had sent a squadron out to eliminate Maxima and the rest of the Populares envoy.  Alphinaud tries to fight back but between the numerous foot soldiers and the magitek weaponry, it doesn’t look good. Just then a mysterious Garlean man wielding a gunblade appears with a small party, they join in the battle and turn the tides.  The man refuses to identify himself but does note that he has a history with the Scions and that just like them, he hunts the Ascians as well. He declares if they must call him something, they can call him Shadowhunter. With that introduction, he offers Alphinaud and the Imperials the choice to join him or to waste away in the Burn.  Naturally, they follow him.

Prelude in Violet (4.4)

Alisaie is going stir crazy not hearing from anyone – especially her brother.  A messenger from the Eorzean Alliance arrives with a request that the Scions be present at a meeting of the leaders to discuss the possibility of the Ascians getting involved again and what can be done about it.  The Warrior of Light and Alisaie naturally agree to come. Then another one of the Scions – Riol – suddenly gets an urgent message from Thancred through the Linkpearl. He has some urgent news from the Garlean front and asks that Alisaie and the Warrior of Light meet him in Ala Mhigo.  There Thancred explains that other subjugated provinces have taken to Doma and Gyr Abania’s example and tried to rise up. Some to disastrous results as he explains that the Dalmascan capital was completely leveled for trying to rebel. He also confirms that everything does point to Zenos being an Ascian wearing the dead Prince’s skin. Finally, he notes that no word of Alphinaud arriving in the Empire ever surfaced. Indeed, he only got a brief spurt of Alphinaud’s voice through the emergency linkpearl mentioning the Burn. Alisaie immediately declares her intentions to seek out and rescue her brother.  Since The Burn lies on the western edge of Othard, Alisaie and the Warrior of Light travel to Doma to speak with Hien and Y’shtola about the matter. Y’shtola conveys some of her findings, such as that the relics that the Kojin covet as Kami circumvent a summonings need for radical beliefs with the worship already instilled in the object itself from countless years of prayer infused into it. The meeting with Lord Hien also ends well with the king saying he will lend anything he has to help locate Alphinaud.

Riding upon their yol or falcons, the group departs into the Burn only for the Warrior of Light to become separated during a sandstorm.  After diving through some Allagan ruins and an altercation with a Mist Dragon, the group meets up to explore a crashed Imperial ship in the white sands.  They find no sign of Alphinaud but confirm that this conflict was between two groups of Imperials with one being the Royal Guards, elite soldiers handpicked to serve the royal family and answer only to them.  Fearing the worst, Allisaie wonders if the Emperor has captured her brother but the Warrior of Light and Hien assure her that there is no good that can come from jumping to conclusions. Yugiri suggests that they all return to Doma and that the Shinobi will continue the search from here.

Back in Doma, Hien invites the Scions to sit in with a meeting with a political dignitary that had come to meet with him.  They are happy to see that it is Lyse who has come to extend an invitation to Hien to meet with the Eorzean Alliance to discuss the matters of the Ascians and to formally welcome Ala Mhigo into the Alliance. Hien says he would happily join in but given the situation he would want to ensure Doma’s safety before he left.  After all, regardless of who gave the order to the Royal Guards – the Emperor or his son – it’s safe to say that the treaty is void. Lyse agrees and states that they will set the date when Hien is ready. She then asks to speak to the Warrior of Light in private where they talk about how badly Alisaie is doing without her brother missing.  Back in the meeting with Hien, the King of Doma expresses interest in wanting to pursue an Alliance of his own with the other nations surrounding Doma: The Confederacy, the Azim Steppe, even Kurogane and Dalmasca. Alisaie wonders how they could have time to set up such an Alliance, to which Y’shtola responds with her observations while in The Burn that she believes that its where the Allagans built the floating continent of Azys Lla, and that it may be possible that the Burn has an impeneratble defense system like Azys Lla did.  Hien then notes that the Empire has put itself in an unfortunate situation by leveling Rabanastre, the capital of Dalmasca, which was one of their primary fueling depots in Othard. That means if they want to fly their airships to Doma, they can’t refuel and they’ll need to cross The Burn. The only problem is that they would need an insane amount of power to fuel the Allagan barriers and the Burn’s notable feature is the very lack of that power. Hien says he thinks he knows of a place to get the necessary power – and its in the Azim Steppe! A perfect first stop for the Alliance negotiations.

In the Steppe, Hien shares an old Mol fable about a stranger who came to the Steppe and uses a shard of power from Nhaama, the Xaela’s moon goddess, the raise a ruined earth to the sky and offer a drop of blood to the heavens.  Y’shtola deduces that this is likely referring to Azys Lla and the red moon Dalamud. Hien agrees and leads the group to meet with the Mol only to discover a small problem. Cirina, the leader of Mol, suggests that the crag where the stranger met with Nhaama is the House of the Crooked Coin in the northern hills, but it is a place that is sacred to many of the tribes of the Steppe.  Should the Warrior of Light and Hien enter and claim the power they need from it, the tribes will almost certainly refuse any alliance with Doma. Cirina then suggests that Hien should meet with the Xaela and see if there is any way to earn their favor and permission.

The best place to start would be the most devout of the Nhaama, which is to say the Dotharl.  Hien and the Warrior of Light are not elated by this news, much to Y’shtola’s confusion. Still the venture southward and meet with the leader of the Dotharl, Sadu, to discuss both the Alliance and the access to the House of the Crooked Coin.  Sadu is fine to agree on only one condition. She wishes to battle with the Warrior of Light once more. The battle is fierce and soon draws the attention of Magnai and the Azim tribe. Magnai decrees that as the protector of all of Nhaama’s children, it falls to the Azim tribe to decide about this alliance.  However, Hien and Y’shtola block him from intervening in Suda and the Warrior of Lights duel. Two epic battles are waged to decide the future of the Steppe and ultimately the Warrior of Light and his companions are victorious gaining permission to access the sacred ruin but also convincing the other two strongest tribes to sign on with the alliance with Doma.  Magnai ponders if Y’shtola is his destined beloved but she quickly blows him off with the taunt of calling him ‘Little Sun’ much to Sadu’s amusement. The Warrior of Light and company return to the Mol who also confirm that they will join the alliance with hopes that the lesser tribes will do so as well.

Returning the House of the Crooked Coin, Y’shtola notes that while the device contains a surplus of aether, the entire area around the Allagan conduit is devoid of it.  She focuses on the device and channels her power to reactivate it and does so successfully. With aether flowing back into the Burn to help power the shield, Hien meets with his people to hear the results of the alliance proposals. Many agreed to sign on with Doma but a few decline, not to the surprise of Hien.  But enough agreed that he feels comfortable about Othard’s defenses that he can take leave to meet with the Eorzean Alliance in Ala Mhigo. The Warrior of Light and the Scions meet there and join the meeting where they discuss plans to take down the Empire and more importantly the Ascians that work behind them. Thancred suggests subterfuge by spreading the word that the crown prince and heir to the throne is actually possessed by a dark force.  He notes that it isn’t necessary for people to believe it as much as to cast doubt on the line of succession and spur would be contenders to the throne to take action. As the rest of the Eorzean leaders discuss it however, the Scions are struck by a sudden pain. The Warrior of Light feels sucked into a dark void where they hear a voice warning that history must change or else a wave of light will consume all life. It ends with a plea to ‘Throw open the gates’ and as soon as it ends, Thancred collapses into a coma with the doctors unable to resuscitate him. Worried about these events, the Scions rush back to the Rising Stones to meet with Urianger who confirms that he too heard the voice.  Urianger also confirms that the strange lack of aether that Y’shtola found in Othard is happening across the world. But before they could discuss it again, the voice calls out again begging for the gates to be thrown open again, and this time Y’shtola and Urianger have also fallen into comas. Alisaie is falling apart, she’s lost her brother and now the Scions. She decides to bring the Warrior of Light with her to visit Ga Bu, the young kobold that Alisaie and the Warrior of Light had helped but had become a potential thrall of the primal Titan. Ga Bu still hasn’t shown any signs of getting better, but still hasn’t collapsed into ferverous primal worship which Alisaie interprets as that the young kobold is still fighting within himself.  It gives her a little hope as she bears her soul to the Warrior of Light who does their best to reassure the young girl.

Deep within Imperial territory at a camp of Resistance fighters, Shadowhunter and Alphinaud arrive to find everyone dead without a sign of conflict.  Alphinaud is confused but Shadowhunter reveals that it was the work of once thought abandoned biological weapon of the Empire known as Black Rose. Alphinaud and Shadowhunter both agree that this action has the Ascians fingerprints all over it before moving out.

In the Imperial capital, the Ascian possessed Zenos converses with the Emperor.  Zenos reveals that he is in fact The Emissary, Elidibus, wearing Zenos skin. He also says that the Emperor need only say one word and the full force of the Empire will crush Ala Mhigo.  The Emperor however chooses to remain silent. Zenos scowls and sarcastically bids his “Father” farewell and he hopes when next they speak he will be relieved of his doubt. With Zenos out of the room another voice appears and mocks the Emperor’s indecisive nature.  That the Empire’s entire purpose is to carry out a single goal of maintaining the balance of Light and Dark in the world and that’s all that they should be worried about. The voice appears to be Solus van Galvus, the Emperor’s grandfather and the founder of the Empire. He lets loose that he is an Ascian and that the Empire was founded to serve the Ascians.  The Emperor shoots Solus with his gunblade and remarks that Ascians like the sound of their own voice. However Solus just reappears in a dark cloud and continues to carry on mocking the Emperor before departing.

A Requiem for Heroes (4.5)

Alisaie is troubled that the Scions still haven’t stirred from their rest. Luckily Krile arrives to offer her aid.  After examining Urianger and Y’shtola, she concludes that it was almost as if their aether – their souls – were drawn out of them.  Krile theorizing that they may be able to track the trail like they did to find Thancred back during the aftermath of the Dragonsong War, but to do that they’ll need to visit the old witch Matoya to gain the use of her Crystal Eye once more.  Upon hearing that Y’shtola is one of the affected parties, Matoya happily lets Krile use the Eye which Krile then traces the aetherial trails from where the various people were affected. However, she finds a disturbing answer. The aether trails just end.  Not dissipate, not drawn out to the lifestream of the aetherial sea, but just stop like they had been cut. It doesn’t answer the question to what happened to the souls but it does improve the chances that they are somewhere. Just then, Allisaie receives an urgent linkpearl message that a group of Imperial Populares have defected to Ala Mhigo – with Maxima among them.  Alisaie and the Warrior of Light make leave immediately for Gyr Abania.

Once there Alisaie interrogates Maxima for news of her brother.  Maxima explains that Shadowhunter led them out of the Burn and then parted ways.  Alphinaud then chose to join Shadowhunter on his mission for Ascians instead of joining Maxima and the Populares in fleeing the Empire.  Maxima also shares news of things from within the Empire. That instead of brutally putting down rebellions, the Empire has begun to deploy alchemical weapons that can instantly fell an entire army and that the Imperial forces begin to march west toward Ala Mhigo.  Fearful that there isn’t enough time to finish setting up defenses, Raubahn and Lyse send word to every Alliance leader and plan to stall the invasion by negotiating as long as possible with the commander of the Imperial forces. They also ask that Alisaie and the Warrior of Light travel to Doma and bring news of this to Hien.  Alisaie and the Warrior are both struck once again by the painful and powerful voice commanding them to “throw open the gates” in order to prevent a calamity. Luckily, neither collapse and are able to make way back to Doma. In the Doman Enclave, Hien introduces his new Alliance that includes the Confederacy, the Xaela of the Steppe, the Kojin, Dalmasca, and Yangxia’s sister nation of Nagxia. He also explains that they are getting ready to test the Allagan barrier in the Burn and invites both the Warrior of Light and Alisaie to witness it and compare to the one surrounding Azys Lla. Lord Hien also ponders on a name for the new defense.  He suggests Seiryu’s Wall after one of the Four Lords of Doman mythology.

Flying out the Burn, Hien asks the Garlond Ironworks engineers to activate the barrier to test it out.  The shimmering wall flies up to the sky piercing over 15 thousand yalms. The test was declared a success and a test arrives just in time in the form of a small Imperial flyer.  The ship cannot break through the barrier and chooses to land instead. Shadowhunter emerges from the ship carrying a comatose Alphinaud. It seems that the unknown voice has claimed another victim much to Alisaie’s heartache. The Warrior of Light makes eye contact with the Shadowhunter and immediately recognizes the man: Gaius van Baelsar, the Black Wolf himself.  After the destruction of Castrum Meridianum, Gaius pulled himself out of the wreckage swearing vengeance on the Ascians that deceived him. He forsook the Empire and his title and became a nameless hunter of shadows. Gaius explains what he has learned of the Ascians in his time since the destruction of the Ultima Weapon: That the black masked Ascians are subservient to the red masked ones, and among the red masks those who hail from the Source have a higher rank than those who come from the Shards.  The three primary red masked ascians from the Source are Lahabrea (who is now banished), Elidibus the Emissary, and a mysterious one known as Emet-Selch. Gaius confirms that it is most likely Elidibus that is the puppetmaster behind Zenos. He also explains about the Black Rose that matches Maxima’s description of the deadly weapon, and says that he and Alphinaud were able to disable the factory before the boy fell unconscious. They also found a massive Allagan cloning facility beneath the weapon factory that held dozens of clones of a younger version of the former Emperor Solus.  With that Gaius bids the Warrior of Light farewell and leaves Alphinaud with them. Alisaie confirms that Alphinaud’s condition matches the others but in good news Hien confirms that he can commit more forces to aid Ala Mhigo now that Seiryu’s Wall is active. Meanwhile, in the Empire, Emperor Varis oversees the finishing touches of a new Black Rose facility that was being completed while Gaius destroyed the old one. The head scientist confirms that the first batch should be ready in time for the invasion of Ala Mhigo. Solus appears once more to compliment Varis on actually making a decision and lets slip that the bloody civil war that almost tore the Empire apart after Solus’ “mortal death” without leaving a successor was not an accident but a planned method of sowing even more chaos into the world.

The Warrior of Light arrives with Hien and Alisaie just in time to be invited to sit in on the Eorzean Alliance’s negotiations with the Empire.  Shockingly, the Empire has chosen to represent itself with Emperor Varis himself. As the talks commence, diplomatic niceties and harsh criticism are thrown around and each time the Emperor twists them right back at every person at the table.  Limsa Lominsa made a home for themselves without taking their neighbors land? What would the kobolds say to such things? The Ishgardians and the Dravanians are now at peace? Well, that surely came about much easier after they killed Niddhog. One by one, the Emperor counters their arguments and blood begins to boil.  Only Alisaie, the representative of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, has the head to announce that they shouldn’t squabble over the past and instead work towards a better future. With that the negotiations take a brief recess and everyone takes a moment to compose themselves and think on strategy for getting somewhere – anywhere – with the Emperor.  When the talks convene once more, the Eorzean Alliance turns to tables and plainly ask why Garlemald is even waging this war. Varis smiles and says that they have now asked the right question. He explains that his goal is to reunite the world as a single people, as it once was at the dawn of time. Not just people either but also reunite the Shards with the Source and to recreate an uncorrupted world.  Several Alliance members note the similarity of the Emperor’s words to those spoken by Ascians in the past. The Emperor makes clear that this is because the Empire was founded by an Ascian – his own grandfather. The Alliance is shocked by this revelation which Varis uses to push his point that the only way to stand against something as all consuming as the mad machinations of the Ascians is to unite together as one pure people and then invites the entire Eorzean Alliance to join the Empire as friendly partners working toward the greater good and not servants.  The Alliance thinks on the Emperor’s words and realize exactly what he means to do: Six more calamities. Six more shards and all their inhabitants destroyed. The entire Alliance unites in one voice to decline the Emperor’s “invitation” and depart the table. Varis warns them to prepare for their next meeting, because it will not be at the negotiating table.

With the battle lines drawn, the Warrior of Light plunges into the trenches to aid in the fight to drive back the Empire’s initial assault.  After a valiant battle aided by their comrades, the Warrior of Light stands victorious. Alisaie joins him and suggests that they keep pushing forward to hold the advantage but no sooner do the words leave her mouth then the strange voice strike the pair once again speaking of the stopping the calamity of the light and throwing open the gates.  Alisaie struggles to keep her hold but as the voice fades, she too collapses into a unconscious state same as the rest. As the Eorzean Alliance and the Doma reinforcements ready for another assault from the Empire, the Warrior of Light solemnly takes Alisaie back to the Rising Stones. Meanwhile, on the Garlean side of the Ala Mhigo conflict, the armor clad figure of Prince Zenos – possessed by the Ascian Elidibus – steps off his airship and prepares to join the conflict.

In a brief moment of peace, the Warrior of Light takes time to rest at the Rising Stone before the arrival of an unexpected guest.  Maxima has come to check on Alphinaud and invite the Warrior of Light to join him in meeting another friend: Cid. Cid and Maxima ask the Warrior of Light about the situation including the talks with the Emperor and that the fact that Gaius still lives.  However, the conversation is short lived as a messenger calls the Warrior back to the Ala Mhigan front. Accepting a lift from Cid, the group speeds back to Gyr Abania about the Excelsior.

The Warrior of Light meets with Raubahn to discuss the next strategy when the mysterious voice pierces through the Warrior’s mind once again, pleading with them to make contact and open up. The Warrior maintains their composure just in time to hear that Zenos has broken through the defenses and rushes off to meet their foe.  Meanwhile, Lyse, Hien and Yugiri face off with Zenos to buy the Warrior of Light some time. One by one, Elidibus crushes his opponents with the united force of a Garlean body and Ascian magic proves to be too much to handle. Soon though the Warrior of Light steps forth to face off with the twisted puppet. Elidibus appears to have underestimated how strong the Warrior of Light has become as he struggles to keep his defenses up.  His health chips away bit by bit until he collapses. However, as an Ascian he is able to immediately resurrect himself back into the host body and Zenos stands up once more. With the Warrior of Light drained from the battle and Elidibus-Zenos refreshed, the tables have turned. Worse yet is that the strange voice pierces through into the Warrior’s mind just before Zenos brings down his blade.

In a strange ethereal place, the Warrior of Light awakens to find an Enigmatic Figure whose very body seems to be a blend of flesh and crystal. This is the man behind the voice that has struck so many times. The Figure warns that whether the Warrior of Light succeeds or fails in their current conflict, it doesn’t matter and that both paths lead to oblivion for their world.  However, he invites the Warrior of Light to join them on The First, one of the Shards of the Source, to find a true path forward. The Enigmatic Figure says that they left a beacon for the Warrior at the base of the Crystal Tower. With that the Warrior of Light jolts upright in bed. It appears they were brought to Ishgard to recover from their injuries. Aymeric arrives to explain that it was their mutual friend, Estinien, who spirited the Warrior away just before Zenos-Elidibus was able to strike the final blow.  Aymeric then delivers the good news that with Zenos and the Emperor retreating that the rest of the Imperial forces have returned to a holding pattern leaving the entire conflict in a stalemate and the news has ushered in renewed vigor for uprisings among the Imperial provinces.

Back in Garlemald, Emperor Varis and Zenos-Elidibus square off in an argument about who failed on the mission.  Varis retreated but Zenos-Elidibus had claimed it would be effortless to defeat the Warrior of Light. Zenos demands to know where Solus was but Varis has no answer.  It seems that his grandfather had skipped off somewhere and not even the other Ascians were sure as to where. Zenos-Elidibus makes his departure but not before Varis reminds him that it will be mankind’s hands that will shape the future and not Ascians and to that end he will use all his powers as Emperor to ensure that his empire succeeds.  With Zenos-Elidibus out of the room, the head scientist approaches the Emperor to let him know that the new batch of the Black Rose biological weapon is ready for deployment and Varis gets a frightening grin on his face.

The Warrior of Light returns to the Rising Stones to meet with Tataru and the remaining non-Archon members of the Scions.  Surrounded by warm, familiar faces, the Warrior of Light recounts the events as of late including the mysterious figure who invited him to a parallel world.  Tataru surmises that if this Enigmatic Figure was behind the voice all of the Archons were hearing, then he may have something to do with their current condition and indeed this First that he spoke of may be where their spirits were whisked away to.  Tataru urges the Warrior of Light to take up the invitation and find a way to bring their friends back so that they can face Zenos and the Empire together.

Back on the Ala Mhigan front, the nameless katana-wielding soldier that holds the spirit of the true Prince Zenos continues his search for his only true foe and his only true friend.  He acknowledges that the Warrior of Light has gone somewhere that he cannot follow but urges them to grow stronger and more savage so that their next battle will be even more glorious.  In the meantime, He will work to reclaim what is rightfully is back in Garlemald.

Now the Warrior of Light stands on the edge of a new adventure as they look out at the Crystal Tower.  The tale continues in… SHADOWBRINGERS.

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