When reading about the new Frontlines zone announced today, some of the more lore-inclined may have recognized the arena’s name: Seal Rock. In Version 1.0, this island played a huge role in the Limsa Lominsa introduction quests; might we finally be in for some answers regarding that long-lost tale? In case you weren’t around at the time (or didn’t quite understand it back then), I’ve thrown together a little background (and by “a little,” I mean the whole godsdamned thing). Hope you’ve got your tickets; the train’s already here…
Disclaimer: These events took place in an extremely convoluted and unfinished tale. Some details have been assumed; if any are found to be inaccurate, they will be marked and edited.
The player arrived in Limsa Lominsa on a passenger ship (truly a pirate ship disguised as a passenger ship, but that’s neither here nor there), and during that voyage they were awoken to the Echo. At the time, they didn’t even know they had it, never mind what it did or how it was acquired. Trying to settle into a new home, they wandered around the city-state for a few days, all the while unknowingly having flashbacks of events that happened ten years prior. Most townspeople didn’t know this, of course; they only saw the player staring off into space (or passing out in public) while rambling about the events of a decade ago like they just happened (until someone versed in the Echo recognized its effects and brought them to Minfilia). But back to the island.
In the year 1562 of the Sixth Astral Era, a new islet appeared in the midst of the Rhotano Sea with virtually no explanation, triggering a flurry of speculation amongst the commonfolk. Known as Seal Rock by the Thalassocratic Navy (then known as the Knights of the Barracuda) and the scholars at Mealvaan’s Gate, many believed it to actually be a mythological island called Swallowtail Roam.
The histories say that the goddess Llymlaen created two great serpents, Thalaos and Perykos, to spew forth the waters that would fill the primordial dry with oceans, only to realize that they would never cease in their task. To prevent the world from disappearing beneath their waters, she bound them to a island that would forever drift atop the seas so that none with ill intent could find it. Should the serpents ever be freed, it is said, the waters would continue to rise until they covered the whole of the world; this tale is the origin of the Maelstrom’s rallying cry, “Till sea swallows all.”
Belief that Swallowtail Roam had been found became epidemic, especially after numerous sailors reported that they’d borne witness to a colossal serpent in Lominsan waters. Eager to claim the treasures rumored to rest on the floating island, various factions conspired to circumvent the ‘Cudas and scholars by any means necessary. The most brilliant of these schemes, however, was hatched by the commander of the Thalassocratic Navy himself, Commodore Sthalmann.
To play all of the city’s factions against one another, Sthalmann recruited several allies to his cause with the promise that, once he had taken the Admiral’s chair, they would serve at his right hand. From the Kraken’s Arms, he recruited Emerick, a crass young pirate with ties to the Sahagin’s Serpent Reavers. From the Sanguine Sirens, he recruited Merodaulyn, one of their few male members, into the Knights of the Barracuda’s 5th Levy Seal Rock Provisional Unit.
Through Emerick, the Serpent Reaver Travanchet was provided with the ‘Cuda’s sailing charts, allowing the Sahagin’s forces to deal a crippling blow to the 5th Levy, with Merodaulyn himself ensuring that the Knights faltered in their defense. In the chaos, the captain of the Kraken’s Arms, Carvallain, sailed his ship around the battle and landed on Seal Rock, where on Sthalmann’s orders Emerick pocketed a small horn of bone while allowing his comrades to believe that the island contained naught of monetary value to plunder. Once in port, Emerick hid the horn at the Gods’ Grip so that the commodore could later claim it.
Once Merodaulyn had escaped and word of the 5th Levy’s fate had reached Coral Tower, Sthalmann brought Emerick under his protection by staging an arrest on the Astalicia, where most pirates of the day congregated. Informed that he had been witnessed consorting with Serpent Reavers, Carvallain readily turned Emerick over to Sthalmann as a traitor to all Lominsans, navy and pirate alike.
Knowing that the pirate crews would now be out for Emerick’s head, Sthalmann leaked information suggesting that he had been sequestered at Mealvaan’s Gate while quietly spiriting him away to a ship at sea. Taking the bait, the Sanguine Sirens raided the Arcanists’ Guild, allowing the Knights of the Barracuda to access the establishment as part of their investigation into the attack. Sthalmann was thus able to claim from the scholars a second artifact removed from Seal Rock, a stone tablet bearing inscriptions in Rhotano Bloodcant (an ancient Sahagin dialect), as evidence.
At sea, Merodaulyn arrived on the Barracuda ship to free Emerick so that the two could make their escape, but there they were intercepted by the Sharlayan Y’shtola, who had been investigating the city-state on the orders of her master, who was convinced that a seventh Calamity was fast approaching. Though she claimed that “the shadoweaters” sought the treasure and begged that they turn it over, the pirates feigned ignorance, and their conversation was interrupted as Travanchet of the Serpent Reavers attacked the vessel with two ships of his own. Two further ‘Cuda warships joined the fray (having followed the snooping Y’shtola on Sthalmann’s orders), but before either side could emerge victorious, the great serpent emerged from the waters and crippled all five vessels with a tremendous wave.
The Knights of the Barracuda and the pirates would shortly thereafter join forces to drive the serpent back into the depths. Sthalmann would claim to his second-in-command, Reyner, that it only retreated after the tablet was thrown into the sea, lamenting that the escape of Merodaulyn and Emerick only compounded the loss of the artifact by robbing them of an opportunity to dismantle two of the three most powerful pirate crews in one motion.
As Sthalmann’s plan entered its final stages, he organized for the assassination of the sitting admiral, Merlwyb’s predecessor, and ventured to the Gods’ Grip to claim the treasure and unlock its power. At this point, however, he too was intercepted by Y’shtola, who demanded that the key be turned over to the Sharlayan Council. Sthalmann refused, hinting that he knew of the coming danger and threatening to kill her if she not tell him how the horn could be activated.
From the year 1572 of the Sixth Astral Era, the adventurer appears to have witnessed this moment through the memories of the reformed Emerick, who it seems had for years been hiding under the assumed identity Blackburn. In the manifested recollection, they witnessed the horn begin to glow with aetheric light as Y’shtola and Sthalmann fought to claim it. This somehow triggered a vision within a vision, showing Y’shtola Sthalmann’s memories and alerting her to the fact that the Echo had sounded and the fall of the Sixth Astral Era had already begun.
As Y’shtola struggled to comprehend the events, the skies grew dark and a massive, whirling vortex opened in the heavens, raining a shower of meteor-like streams of light upon the land. As the group ceased their conflict to bear witness, Travanchet manifested behind Sthalmann and threw him to the ground with the power of Darkness. Claiming the horn and sending it through an aetherial tear, Travanchet was revealed to be an Ascian, one of “the shadoweaters” to which Y’shtola had earlier alluded.
But there the visions (and that story arc) ended, leaving us with many questions and few answers. Sthalmann’s ambitions collapsed; he wandered the city the drunken pirate captain of a crew of one, loathed by all; changing his name from Sthalmann (Steel Man) to Rostnsthal (Rusted Steel). Reyner took his place as Commodore of the Thalassocratic Navy and Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn ascended to the Admiral’s chair in the next Trident. As Blackburn, Emerick worked for Minfilia, bringing those blessed with the Echo to the Path of the Twelve that they might learn of its origins and use. All references to this story would vanish when the realm was reborn, and then… silence.
As of late, however, we’ve seen a similar horn of bone and a similar tablet, fashioned into the staff of the late Louisoix Leveilleur, Tupsimati. Their combined power, as explained by Nabriales, allowed the sage to conjure extraordinary amounts of aether to aid in his attempted summoning of the Twelve. Assuming these were pieces of a similar artifact, what was it intended to summon? What did Sthalmann know of its use? Why were these artifacts on Seal Rock, at all, and what for that matter was the nature of the island?
Has the time come for answers? Even if none of these events are mentioned in the new Frontlines tale, we can at least now be sure of one thing… the isle has connections to the Allagan Empire. The next train arrives once this content is released… (Until then, don’t forget to catch up with Rostnsthal in his triumphant return to FINAL FANTASY XIV in the Machinist storyline!)