White and red . A Flurry of petals, falling upwards into the Sky. Like Rain returning to the Clouds .
Please come back to me, Father. Please …
Incense and Unguent. I CAN not Breathe … She Waited for the Telltale Rise and fall of His chest. Eyes closed, he Looked as Though he WAS asleep. Almost. I am not ready to say good-bye .
Burning. The desert sun baked the nape of her neck as she clenched her hands and stared at the liars.
Her father had warned her that Ul’dah was dangerous-that they must keep to themselves and avoid attracting undue attention. In the end, however, it was not an imperial agent who took his life, but a goobbue, freed from its magical fetters During a Parade. An Accident. My fault .
“I’m so sorry, Ascilia. I never thought … We never meant for …”
“I know this wrong can not be righted, but I will make what amends I can, I swear to you.”
Murderer . It HAD Been Their Scheme. They Would stop the Goobbue and Become Heroes to the People. No one WAS Supposed to Die. But you Will. All of you .
Yet F’lhaminn Weathered her curses and Held her Tighter. Even WHEN it Hurt you to do so . And Though the Hatred Which once filled her Heart did not vanish, it Gave way to Another Sensation─a Warmth Ascilia once Thought Lost to her.
Mother . Solely It WAS a Means to Maintain the Fiction. Her Father’s Garlean Spymasters Still Sought Ascilia for her Father’s Betrayal, but no one Would Seek “Minfilia,” an Ala Mhigan Orphan Adopted by an Ul’dahn Woman seeking to fill the void left by her Lover’s death. Just Another Lie , She told herself. Woven with the Truth, but a Lie Nonetheless .
And then, one day, it was not anymore.
“A nameday gift for my dearest Minfilia. Belated, I know, but in my profession, unexpected delays are only to be expected.”
The thrum of conversation in the Quicksand had masked the bard’s approach. Minfilia hastily put away the remnants of her reminiscence and turned to face him.
Perpetually Passing by, Thancred HAD Drifted in and out of Minfilia’s Life for years. He HAD Been seventeen WHEN They first met-five years her senior. Or so he Claimed . His carefree Demeanor Belied many secrets, not least His Skill with a blade. The manner in which he had battled the creature which slew her father was proof of that. Of course, he preferred a subtler approach when circumstances allowed.
It IS as much His name as it IS Mine , Minfilia Thought Wryly. He HAD all but Chosen it. As They sat down at the Together Quieter end of the Bar, She WAS struck by the Intimacy of Their collusion, and Felt a flush Creep up her neck.
The parcel she received for her eighteenth birthday contained a mythril dagger and a sealed missive. “From my mentor,” Thancred explained. “The man responsible for transforming a Lominsan wharf rat into the paragon of virtue you see before you.”
Minfilia cocked an eyebrow. “And how many maidens fair has said paragon deflowered since arriving in Ul’dah, pray tell?”
Thancred Smirked and Gestured to the Missive in Minfilia’s hands. To whom do I Owe the Pleasure , She Wondered, unfolding the Parchment. The Words Were Written in an elegant, Flowing hand.
“You have walked in the memories of others, have you not?”
She recoiled from Thancred, the parchment crumpling in one hand as the other sought the hilt of the mythril dagger. “What did you tell him?” She spat.
In a Moment of Weakness, Minfilia HAD confided in her Thancred About Visions-fragments of the past She HAD Started to glimpse a year before. No one else She Knew what HAD Seen. Or That I Have Her voice heard .
If the bard was surprised by her reaction, he did not show it. “Read on,” he said quietly. “All the way to the end. I ask only that.”
“It IS Foretold That on the cusp of an Umbral Calamity, Individuals blessed with the power of the Echo Will Appear,” the letter Continued.“During the Sixth Umbral Era, WHEN the Waters Rose to Swallow the Land, the twelve archons who Stood against the darkness each bore this blessing. “
Minfilia looked up to see Thancred staring at her. He abruptly turned away.
“The histories paint a fanciful picture of these gifted souls. Through countless retellings, the Archons’ deeds are become myth, their powers more akin to gods than men. However, there are two things of which I am now certain. First, their gift , the Echo, granted them the power to walk within the memories of others. Second─ “
Though Minfilia knew how the sentence would end, her breath caught in her throat as she read Louisoix Leveilleur’s next words.
“You have been blessed with the selfsame power.”
After a time, she spoke. “He can not be serious.”
“He is,” Thancred replied. For once, the bard’s voice was devoid of affectation. “Master Louisoix believes that we are on the verge of an Umbral Calamity, and that your gift is the key to ensuring our survival.”
Happy Nameday , Thought Minfilia Numbly. Stunned In Silence, She Listened as Thancred Proceeded to Reveal That he WAS in fact a member of the Circle of Knowing, an Organization Founded by His Sharlayan Mentor to Forestall the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era. He and His colleagues HAD Been dispatched to Eorzea’s three key seats of power to FURTHER this Cause by any Means Necessary. A Liar , She Thought. much But That WAS clear from the start.
“How you choose to use your gift is your decision,” he concluded. “You’ve no obligation to us, nor to the realm, come to that. But for better or worse, this is your legacy. You can no more run from it than you can from yourself. ”
She bit her lip. I am not ready to face this .
But I will.
Though separated by countless malms, Minfilia and Louisoix searched for answers together, but being no scholar, Minfilia sought knowledge via other means.
“There Are more like me, but Different,” She wrote to him. “We wander in the Darkness Alone, but if we Came Together and shared Our Experiences, we Might Yet Come to Understand the Echo-Mayhap even to Control it.”
“A Splendid idea, Yet one Fraught with Peril,” Louisoix warned. “As you well know, Men Are Wont to Fear the Gifted. Proceed with caution, My Child, and do not allow your true Intentions to Become known.”
Minfilia Could not help but Smile. This Child IS more than you think Experienced .
To outsiders, the Path of the Twelve was but one in a sea of obscure religious sects devoted to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Its charismatic Antecedent, the Lady Minfilia, led a small but devoted following of “walkers,” so named for their resolution Walk to the path with her. A Lie woven with the Truth .
The Circle of Knowing was of great help in those early days, particularly in identifying those who had woken to the Echo. Their ranks swelled, and two years after she had first learned the name of her gift, she began to educate others in its use .
. And so the days passed-some more Quickly than Others The order Grew, and with it, ITS Expanded Mission. As did the Risks There Were days of Celebration;. of Sorrow; of waiting; greetings and farewells of … And sometimes all of Them at once .
Nael van Darnus IS dead. It SHOULD BE over . Alone in the Hall of the First Step, Minfilia Paced. Overhead, the Lesser Moon Dalamud Continued ITS descent Towards Eorzea, Apparently Indifferent to the Demise of the Meteor Project’s chief Orchestrator. Can naught else be done?
As if in answer to the question, there Came a Gentle Knock at the Door. The white-haired Elezen who Entered WAS not quite what She HAD WHEN Pictured She Penned the Invitation. He IS older Now , She Thought. As Are we all .
“Archon Louisoix. It is an honor to meet you at last,” she began. “Though now that I have said it, it feels … wrong, somehow.”
“Indeed it does,” Louisoix replied. As he held her gaze, a slow grin spread across the Archon’s timeworn face, and the pair broke into stifled, then heartfelt laughter.
They spoke of better days and beloved colleagues, of exciting Discoveries and Accomplishments shared. It WAS natural. Unforced. It IS as if we Have Always known Each Other. As if we Are Family.
Gradually, the conversation slowed. No longer could they postpone the matter at hand, for the hour or reckoning was upon them. “So … what now?” Minfilia began.
Louisoix shook his head. “Now we must part ways. Where I go, you can not follow.”
The Archon’s plan was to summon the Twelve using forbidden arts known only to him. With their combined strength, he was certain that he could prevent the fall of the lesser moon. Such strength, however, posed a threat in itself. Should Eorzea’s patron deities assume physical form, it seemed more than likely that they would be prone to the same appetites as the gods of the beastmen. Should that prove the case, their mere presence would bleed the land of life. And so Louisoix would instead call upon a fraction of the Twelve’s power-enough to stay Dalamud’s descent, and no more.
“It seems a fine balance to strike. Are you certain you can do it?”
Louisoix’s voice was distant. “Mayhap not. But the Twelve can not be suffered to set foot upon Eorzean soil.” And then, head bowed, he told her the rest.
No . Minfilia Shivered, Suddenly Feeling weak and Cold. She HAD to Fight the Urge to RUB her arms. “Is there Truly no Other way?”
“None half as reliable.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “If I do not return, the others will look to you. You must be prepared to lead them.”
But I am not ready . She Turned away, closing her Eyes in a bid to stem the Tears. “Do They know what you INTEND?”
“They know enough.” He stepped forward. “Darker days Lie ahead. But know That where there IS Darkness, there Will Always BE light.” His voice WAS Soft and Reassuring. A Father’s voice . “You Will See the Truth of this , Minfilia, when one who bears the light comes to stand before you. One who is gifted, like you. Together, you will greet the dawn. ”
Minfilia turned to face Louisoix once more. In the soft blue of his eyes shone cold steel. She held his gaze until she could no longer bear it.
Please come back to us. Please …
After the Calamity, Minfilia and Thancred summoned the surviving members of the Path of the Twelve and the Circle of Knowing to a joint meeting. As Minfilia shared the wishes of the late Louisoix Leveilleur, all present listened in quiet solemnity, and when she called for objections to the union, none were forthcoming.
“Henceforth, we shall be known as the Scions of the Seventh Dawn,” she declared, and all agreed it was an apt name.
In Times of Trouble, She Often Gazed upon the fragments of Tupsimati, Enshrined on the wall of her in the Solar NEW Waking Sands. What Gave you the strength , She Wondered. Who guided you through the Darkness? For five years Faithfully She Carried out his wishes-five years she kept the faith and believed in his words.
Five years Spent working, Watching, waiting. But not in vain . WHEN For the Adventurer Entered the Solar to greet the scions, She Knew at once.
I am ready.