The battle was over, but none could say that peace had returned to Carteneau. The lesser moon—and the winged abomination that burst from its belly—had visited devastation on the once-fertile flats, leaving naught but a scarred wasteland for as far as the eye could see.
Matron have mercy… I have died and gone to the seventh hell.
“Elder Seedseer! Come quickly!”
Kan-E-Senna turned with a start, the sudden cry rousing her from a moment’s reverie. She forced her eyes to focus on the speaker; a young Serpent, his armor caked with dirt and gore, beckoning with a bloodied hand.
“My lady! There’s something trapped beneath the steel beast!”
Mustering her strength, Kan-E-Senna joined the youth beside a fallen magitek reaper. From beneath the wreckage, she could make out the anguished groans of one tenuously clinging to life.
One of our own…? Crushed by the armor of a fallen foe? At the Elder Seedseer’s command, five soldiers joined their strength, slowly raising the battered hulk to free the unfortunate soul caught beneath. Even as the ponderous mass rolled aside, however, it became clear that the survivor had sworn no oath of allegiance to the Twin Adder, nor any company of the Eorzean Alliance.
Clad in armor of the same unholy steel as the magitek monster which had entombed him, the Hyuran youth met Kan-E-Senna’s gaze. Not yet a man grown, there he lay, bloodied and battered on this godsforsaken battlefield. Nophica have mercy—he is but a boy. Forced into service against his will, like as not—ordered to lay down his life for a cause he scarce understands.
A strapping Elezen Serpent stepped forward, seizing the youth’s shoulder with a mailed fist and bringing the edge of his jade-hilted blade to the boy’s throat.
“But say the word, my lady. The lad will feel no pain.”
“Stay your hand.”
Kan-E-Senna’s voice was soft, yet stern.
“He may have fought against us on the battlefield, but the battle is over. Now he is but a wounded child in need of care—care that none save us can provide.”
“A-Aye, my lady.”
The soldier hastily sheathed his blade, his expression carefully neutral. Taking up Claustrum, the staff of legend carved from arbor immemorial, the Elder Seedseer stepped forward and focused her thoughts on the wounded youth.
“O guardians of this land, let the breath of life sweep across this plain that it may mend this child’s broken body, and bring succor to his wounds…”
What left Kan-E-Senna’s lips as a whisper rose to echo across the flats. A gentle breeze broke the eerie stillness in the air, whistling as it swirled about the spot where the boy lay still. The tortured grimace on the youth’s face slowly loosened. His eyes opened for a brief moment, then closed in peaceful slumber.
“The boy will live. Bear him to the rearguard and see that he receives rest and nourishment.”
“As you wish, my lady.”
For the next few bells—mayhap a full turn of the sun, she could not say—Kan-E-Senna walked the battlefield, tending to the wounded. Eorzean, Garlean, friend or foe, it mattered not. These people cry out to me to ease their pain. Threading her way through the carnage, she weaved the incantations that would close wounds and ease anguish, bringing solace to the suffering.
And yet for every one that she saved, countless scores were beyond saving. Looking out upon the bodies of the fallen, the Elder Seedseer proclaimed, “They gave their lives in the name of hope.” And hope forsook them, came the silent reply. They would never have come here if not for me.
As leader of Gridania, a nation barely a stone’s throw from Garlean-held territory, it was Kan-E-Senna who first reached out to her comrades in Ul’dah and Limsa Lominsa, setting in motion the events that would lead to the reformation of the Eorzean Alliance. A seeker of harmony in all things, the Elder Seedseer never had any wish to lead her people into a bloody conflict. Serenity, purity, sanctity—the virtues she held so dear were nowhere to be found on the desolate fields of Carteneau. Yet what other choice had there been? The prophesied calamity could not simply be ignored—not if Eorzea was to have any hope of a peaceful tomorrow. If there was even a chance that it could be averted, was it not her duty to try?
Alas, the task had proven beyond her. Dalamud had fallen, unleashing Bahamut’s terrible vengeance upon the land, and now the Seventh Umbral Era was upon them. Despite her best efforts, Eorzea’s dream of hope had given way to a waking nightmare.
Kan-E remained in Carteneau for several days, seeking out what few survivors remained and saving those that could yet be saved. Staring out over the wrack and ruin, she would often think upon the decisions she had made prior to that calamitous day. Was their suffering and sacrifice inevitable? Was there truly no other way? She could not say for sure.
Nor was her uncertainty limited to past events. By tarrying so long in Carteneau, was she not failing her people? Was her place not with them, back in Gridania? They too are suffering. On more than one occasion, she resolved to return to the Twelveswood, only to reconsider. Her siblings and fellow Seedseers, A-Ruhn and Raya-O, had stayed behind to watch over the forest, as did many skilled and compassionate Hearers. I trusted them then. I must trust them now. Those who sacrificed themselves on the battlefield had done so at her command. Until I have done all that I can for them, my place is here.
She pressed on, scarcely stopping to eat or sleep. In the faces of the men and women she saved from death and suffering, she found the strength to carry on. The sun rose and set, and one day blurred into the next. But toward the close of the first week, the search parties had begun to return empty-handed. Among the soldiers who had stayed behind to assist in the relief effort, morale was low. They had seen the corpses of too many of their comrades, and their thoughts turned inevitably to the friends and loved ones awaiting their return home.
I have asked enough of them. It is time.
Summoning her most senior officers to her tent, Kan-E gave the long-awaited order, “Begin preparations for withdrawal. We are going home.”
After her men had dispersed, the Elder Seedseer stepped out onto the ravaged plain one last time. My work here is not yet done. It had always been there, in the corner of her mind, but she had been too absorbed in the healing of the wounded to act upon it until now. Tracing the tatters of her memory and the aetheric currents in the air, Kan-E-Senna scoured the battlefield. Minutes became hours, her search yielding naught but devastation. I know it is here. “Archon Louisoix—show me the way.”
The words were still on her lips when she saw it. There, nestled in the lee of a blackened crag, rested the shattered remains of a staff.
Kan-E recognized the great staff at once. Even lying there in pieces, its power was plain. She could feel the aetheric energies which radiated from it as keenly as one might the warmth of the sun.
Quite how she had known that the staff had survived the elder primal’s fury she could not say. Standing there, it almost seemed as if the Archon’s benevolent hand had guided her. This thought served to lift her spirits, and she forgot her aching legs. Your death shall not be in vain, my friend. Though Louisoix’s great wisdom was lost to Eorzea forever, at least those destined to carry on his legacy would have his most cherished relic.
The next day, Kan-E returned home, much to the relief of her countrymen. Gridania had not been spared Bahamut’s wrath, and the return of the Elder Seedseer was a source of much comfort to all as they struggled to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Strong they are in the face of such adversity, but the road ahead will not be easy. While overseeing the reconstruction of her home, Kan-E-Senna was reunited with two members of Master Louisoix’s Circle of Knowing who had stayed behind to lend their aid to Gridania in her time of need. One day, when the time seemed right, she approached them.
“Yda, Papalymo. My friends…”
Kan-E-Senna searched for the right words, but they would not come. Holding out an ornate box of rosewood bearing the mark of the Carpenters’ Guild, she simply nodded.
“For us? Oh, Kan-E, you shouldn’t ha—.”
Yda’s smile froze as she raised the lid.
“M-Master Louisoix… They said he was… But…but I hoped…”
Kan-E saw tears well up in the girl’s eyes, and soon enough, her shoulders began to shake. Even Papalymo, not one for emotional outbursts, was unable to contain his grief. And so the three of them shared a moment of mourning for the fallen Archon.
The Lalafell was the first to compose himself. Clearing his throat, he proceeded to expound upon the relic and its origins, as much, Kan-E suspected, to distract as to enlighten. Tupsimati, he explained, was fashioned from stone engraved with ancient incantations and a treasured horn of bone passed down from antiquity. As his late master had told it, the staff was the beacon that would summon the Twelve down from the heavens and bring about Eorzea’s deliverance.
“You have done us a great kindness, Elder Seedseer,” Papalymo continued. “Though none save Master Lousioix possesses the power to wield Tupsimati, I shudder to think what might have resulted had it fallen into the wrong hands. You may rest assured that we will keep it safe.”
“I…I don’t have the words to thank you,” Yda added. “If only Master Louisoix were here. He always knew what to say…”
Perhaps sensing further tears were imminent, Papalymo quickly pressed on, “My lady—now that you are safely returned to your people, it is time we took our leave. Would that we could remain here longer to assist in the rebuilding, but other matters demand our attention…”
The scholarly Lalafell then proceeded to explain that the Path of the Twelve and the Circle of Knowing were to be united as a single entity—an organization which would strive to realize the dream for which Archon Louisoix gave his life: peace in Eorzea.
The realm had lost its greatest champion, and the threat posed by the primals, the Garlean Empire, and who knew what else still loomed large upon the horizon. And yet, Kan-E thought as she looked into the eyes of the two Sharlayans, with brave souls like these to defend her, there is hope for Eorzea still.
“Whatever evils we may face in the days and years to come, know that Gridania will always stand with you.”
Five years after that fateful day, the wounds left by the Calamity had begun to heal in the Twelveswood and the realm at large. In those rare moments when she was granted a respite from her duties, Kan-E-Senna would often reflect upon the path she had taken. Do you watch us from above, Louisoix? Has Gridania—have I done your legacy proud?
“Elder Seedseer—the Council requires your presence.”
Kan-E turned about with a start. Before her stood a young Hyuran in leather armor of the purest white—one of the Keepers of the Entwined Serpent, the Elder Seedseer’s personal honor guard, established in the wake of the Calamity.
“…My thanks. Pray inform them that I shall join them anon.”
The young soldier nodded deferentially. As he turned to take his leave, their eyes met, and the memories—ever brimming beneath the surface—came flooding back to her, the images as vivid then as they were five years before. We pulled him from the wreckage. He was but a boy, alone and afraid…
“Wait─I will go now. Pray accompany me.”
“As you wish, my lady.” The youth gave a slight bow as he took his place by her side.
There are few wounds that time cannot heal. Even those who once stood across the battlefield as enemies, through effort and understanding, may one day find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder, the stoutest of allies.
Offering a silent prayer to Archon Louisoix and the friends she had lost, Kan-E turned her thoughts to the friends who now stood with her, and the countrymen who looked to her for wisdom and succor. The true rebirth of this realm has only just begun.
As the sun’s warm light streamed through the leaves and down upon the path before her, Kan-E-Senna strode purposefully forward. The greatest challenges still lie ahead, yet we shall rise to meet them—together, as one.