The Lore Train – Heavensward (Part 4)

15 Jun 2017

Stormblood early access begins tomorrow, but today is for another installment of The Lore Train’s episodic summary of the main scenario, focusing on The Story So Far… from Patches 3.5 & 3.56 (The Far Edge of Fate). Skipped your cutscenes? Barely remember the binge a few months back? Didn’t quite understand what was going on? We’ve got you covered.

First time Story so far… reader? Forgotten what came before this, as well?

A Realm Reborn
Part 1 & Part 2

Part 1
 / Part 2 / Part 3

Tataru finds the Warrior of Light with a rare moment of idle time and—using an errand as pretense—lures them to Rowena’s House of Splendors. Once inside, however, the adventurer finds themselves besieged by craftsmen armed with measuring tapes and Tataru’s orders. Yda eventually arrives to return the adventurer to the Rising Stones, but not before the Lalafell has thoroughly documented their every measurement.

The Scions gather in the Solar, uncertain as to why Alphinaud would so hastily reassemble a group he’d only just encouraged to act independently. Though the fellowship thrived in choosing their own directives, he explains, acting in ignorance of one another’s activities might one day undermine their efficacy as an organization. To prevent this, he suggests that the group elect a member to act as a coordinator, though he immediately recuses himself—ever haunted by his failure as leader of the Crystal Braves. Without a volunteer, however, Alphinaud concedes that they can afford to let the matter rest until the need arises.

The sudden shouts of a panicked Tataru draw the Scions into the main hall, where Yda and Papalymo are dismayed to find a bloodied ally from the Ala Mhigan Resistance. Having fled through Garlean-patrolled territory to deliver her warning, M’naago reports that the Griffin will soon make his move: an audacious assault on Baelsar’s Wall. In blurring the definitive border between Eorzean and Garlean territory, he intended for conflict to spill through both sides of the ruptured dam.

The improbability of the Griffin’s success aside, it is agreed that the Eorzean Alliance should be apprised of any potential threats to the realm and the Scions disperse across the continent, leaving M’naago in Krile and Tataru’s care.

The Warrior of Light is assigned to Ishgard, where Ser Aymeric commits the city-state to dispatch a representative to the Alliance council surely to be summoned by Kan-E-Senna. Being a military matter, there is little doubt that the lord commander of the Temple Knights will be chosen to speak for Ishgard, yet the adventurer must wait for Parliament to confirm Aymeric’s nomination—a casualty of the new order the pair had helped usher in.

En route to Gridania, their party suspends their march in Camp Dragonhead to see that the garrison will be fit to defend the border should violence spill into the Black Shroud. The adventurer is surprised to find that Emmanellain de Fortemps has been appointed to Haurchefant’s former post as garrison commander, though perhaps not as surprised as the boy himself. Nevertheless, he assures Ser Aymeric that the garrison will be prepared.

Assembled at the Lotus Stand, the Alliance leaders find themselves in swift agreement—even should the Griffin succeed in taking the fortress, he could never hope to hold it. How far might conflict spread once Baelsar’s Wall was reinforced? Would this be the prod that spurred the imperial war machine into resuming its conquest of the realm? Their only option would be to prepare for the worst and pray for the best. Aymeric readily commits Ishgardian forces towards bolstering the border’s defenses, eager to overcome the shame of the nation’s inaction when the VIIth and XIVth Imperial Legions marched on Eorzea before the Calamity. The council is speechless when faced with the lord commander’s impromptu apology until Yugiri likewise commits the Doman shinobi—ever ready to repay Eorzea’s charity or cross blades with the Empire.

Privately, Alphinaud admits that though the Alliance had chosen the only wise course available, something yet felt amiss. Would amassing their armies not be in line with the Griffin’s ambitions? To do so was as great a risk as to not. Hoping to put his misgivings to rest, he heads for the East Shroud to rejoin with Yda and Papalymo. Alisaie, having had her fill of flowery political decorum, returns to Mor Dhona with the adventurer.

M’naago is found to be recovering well, and in time the rest of the Scions find their way back to the Rising Stones. Yda is concerningly keen for war when she hears of the amassing forces, though Alphinaud clings to hope that the looming disaster can yet be averted if the Griffin could be reasoned with personally. Toward this end, Yda and Papalymo propose leading Yugiri and Thancred into Ala Mhigan territory via the Resistance’s network of hidden tunnels before they can begin their offensive.

Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light can only wait on the border, watching from atop Amarissaix’s Spire with the Grand Company commanders as the operations unfold around them. Silence reigns into the night, until at once the Wall is in flames. The Resistance has made their move…clad in Grand Company uniforms. The young Elezen curses the simplicity of the ruse. To a Garlean scout, it would appear obvious that the forces amassing in the wood had launched their assault—that the Eorzean Alliance had declared war.

This would leave the Griffin free to…what? To slip unnoticed into Gyr Abania and incite rebellion from within? There was no time to make predictions; the Scions would be caught in the fray the instant they emerged from the tunnels. Abandoning caution, Alphinaud resolves to slip through the chaos himself, pulling the Scions back while the adventurer gathered what allies they could and intercepted the Griffin’s flight. As the Grand Company commanders take to the field to organize a defense, Vice Flame Marshal Pipin Tarupin requests that Hilda hail an airship from Ishgardian forces in anticipation of withdrawing the Scions from the battleground once Garlean reinforcements arrived.

Nearby comrades rally to the Warrior of Light’s side and their small contingent storms the gates to the east. Scaling the ramparts, they cut through Imperial and Resistance forces alike in pursuit of the Griffin. Yet when they reach the top, they find that their quarry has made no attempt to withdraw. Without words, the Griffin discards his iron mask and bares a smile that seethes contempt—the same arrogant grin that had slipped away through the noxious fumes in Halatali, that had mocked them as havoc consumed the banquet in Ul’dah—Ilberd.

The disgraced Ala Mhigan draws his weapon and charges, but soon finds himself overwhelmed and cornered. Falling to his knees and casting his sword aside, he divulges that their duel was simply another distraction; defeated or no, his objective has been accomplished. He motions to the scene below, where—having overcome the unsuspecting imperial defenses—the Resistance celebrates their triumph. Yet high above them on a nearby rampart stands Laurentius, disguised as a Garlean legionnaire with sorrow in his eyes and a device in his hands. At Yuyuhase’s insistence, he activates the beacon and summons all nearby Magitek to converge on his unsuspecting allies. The scene that follows is sheer, abhorrent carnage.

Alphinaud finally catches up to the Warrior of Light, having accomplished his mission to find their allies. Yda screams helplessly at the events unfolding below even as the Elezen tries to convince Ilberd to see the sense in retreat. Deaf to the pleas, the Highlander draws the eyes of Nidhogg from somewhere beneath his vestments. Words dripping with scorn, he breaks into a tirade against his countrymen, denouncing their lack of resolve and accusing even those who’d joined him of following the coin more passionately than the cause.

Convinced that his compatriots had resigned themselves to squalor and lasting defeat, he’d led them to their first taste of victory in twenty years only to snatch it away. In desperation and dread, they would die craving naught but the strength to revenge themselves on the Empire—a desire more pure and genuine than any faith could evoke. The realization blindsides Alphinaud; with the yearning of the fallen Ala Mhigans and the aether from the eyes, Ilberd would attempt to summon a primal.

As Alphinaud falters through a censure on the futility of such a plan—as Yda lunges forward to strike him—Ilberd pours his hatred and agony into the eyes and leaps from the wall, a singular vision in his mind’s eye: a being stronger than the black wyrm of the Calamity. The madman’s body plunges into the cermet and viscera below and for a moment there is only ominous silence. Then—into a focal point above the slaughter—the battlefield’s aether swirls.

Hilda’s airship descends as the nascent primal takes form, but Papalymo is already moving toward the aetherial coalescence with Tupsimati in hand. He urges the party to make their escape, planning to weave the same magicks endeavored by Louisoix at the Battle of Carteneau and uncertain what the result might be. The Scions are faced with a dire confliction—to stay by his side would make his sacrifice in vain. Nevertheless, Yda refuses to leave until Thancred physically drags her away at Papalymo’s behest, leaving the Lalafell to wonder if he was truly Louisoix’s finest pupil, after all…

By the time the airship returns the party to safety, an aetherial facsimile of Dalamud hangs silently in the sky, and Papalymo has faded into its light. Distraught, Yda withdraws from her friends and, after a tense exchange with Thancred, isolates herself amongst the boughs. With no way to reach or comfort her, the Scions return to the Rising Stones, once again bearing news of misfortune and loss.

In Mor Dhona, a report of the outcome leaves little question of what led to it; it was no secret to the Scions that Louisoix’s spell would sacrifice the one to cast it—and thus it was clear that Papalymo had followed in his mentor’s footsteps even into the grave. Determined to seize the chance that Papalymo had given them, Y’shtola swallows her emotions and immerses herself in the tasks before her, bidding that Krile join her in an assessment of the cocoon of light and the primal slumbering within. Urianger likewise retreats into his tomes. At a loss for a better alternative, the Leveilleurs forego their own mourning and follow suit.

Within a short time, the council of Eorzean Alliance leaders reconvenes at the Lotus Stand to receive an update on the threat to the realm looming over the East Shroud. Y’shtola’s examination had confirmed that the primal had been bound within, Moreover, the one incidence of activity from the sphere—the instantaneous destruction of an imperial airship that drew too near—drew comparisons to the destructive power of Bahamut. To say that whatever dwelled inside might trigger another Calamity would not be an exaggeration, and the cocoon would not contain it forever.

As the Alliance contemplates how to solve the dilemma of the primal’s destruction, a familiar voice resounds from beyond the guarded entrance, taunting them for not embracing the obvious solution. Curious enough to endure this brazen intrusion, and seeing recognition on the faces of Cid and the Warrior of Light, Kan-E-Senna admits the outlandish man—Nero tol Scaeva—entry.

If they wished to contend with a primal akin to Bahamut, they would need to utilize the only technology known to have opposed him: Omega. Met with obvious skepticism, his pitch only becomes more grandiose. Before them stood the world’s greatest freelance engineer, offering to restore the lost Allagan monstrosity—as he had the Ultima Weapon—to thwart the prospect of an oncoming Calamity; how could they refuse? What preferable alternative had they?

Veracity of his boasts aside, the last point strikes true. His plan would see Eorzea entrust a machine with power to rival gods unto Gaius van Baelsar’s former lieutenant so that he might shackle a primal in yet another repetition of Allag’s mistakes…and they could offer nothing better. Hoping to maintain some semblance of control over the situation, the Alliance grants Nero’s request to excavate Omega under the condition that Cid lead the expedition—under the protection of the Scions—and that the council itself would determine the machine’s use once restored. These formalities understood, the party begins making their way toward Cartenaeau Flats with, much to Nero’s chagrin, a few detours.

After delivering Alphinaud to the East Shroud, the party lands in Mor Dhona to allow those not continuing to Omega the chance to disembark. Tataru seizes her chance to pull the Warrior of Light aside and reveal the motivations behind her surprise attack at the Diamond Forge, gifting them a new set of traveling clothes, complete with the blood pearl charm she believed would always see her friends safely home.

Alphinaud and Yda return to the Rising Stones, but before the party can take their leave, a new and boisterous voice permeates the stone hall. The Roegadyn scarcely completes an inquiry as to whether he’s where he intends to be before sprinting directly for Yugiri. The shinobi stands aghast as the Doman samurai declares his intent to return her to the battlefields of the east at the behest of their master. Even in light of Yugiri’s protests—her desire to repay the Scion’s hospitality, her duty to the Doman people she’d led to Eorzea, her commitments to the missions in progress—Gosetsu is reluctant to delay his orders…until Nero reminds the party that further delay risks resigning Omega to the Empire. Sensing an opportunity to bare steel against Garlean foes, the samurai suddenly invites himself to support Yugiri’s mission—perhaps one duty could wait for another, after all.

Within moments of the Excelsior’s arrival in Carteneau Flats, Nero is already tinkering with a specific control panel amongst the Allagan ruins. Nero’s obvious omission that he’d been here before surprises Cid little, but before the two can bicker about it overlong, they are assailed by a group of Imperial scouts drawn by the arrival of a conspicuous airship. Spying Cid and Nero together amongst the ruins, the Garlean officer knows that he’s found his prize. It was reasonable to assume that information regarding Omega’s general location had leaked through the Ivy’s network, but had they truly been so patient?

Recognizing the imperial scout, Nero curses his luck and activates the teleporter, vanishing alone into Omega’s control room; Cid gives swift pursuit, unwilling to leave Nero unattended. Gosetsu is the first to step forward, drawing his katana and vocally challenging Grynewaht’s forces to battle. Supported by the samurai, Yda, and Yugiri, the Warrior of Light is able to whittle down the Garlean’s numerical advantage for a time, but reinforcements soon arrive to supplement the remaining scouts. Growing impatient, Nero remotely summons the Red Baron to the party’s aid. Gladly accepting the loan, the adventurer sends the imperial party scattering in retreat before the magitek reaper’s superior firepower.

Joining Nero and Cid in Omega’s control room, the Warrior of Light finds the beast already stirring from slumber. Visual displays flicker into being, instantly targeting the cocoon of light despite the malms between them, as if the weapon itself were eager to engage. Already, however, there is cause for concern; unlike the Ultima Weapon, Omega could not be manually controlled. Could they trust the machine to complete its objective and obey the command to re-enter temporal stasis? In truth, it wouldn’t matter—be it one risk or a hundred, there was simply no other choice. Having already come to the same conclusion, Yda takes the matter into her own hands. Seizing their last best hope—purchased with a dear friend’s life—she slams her fist onto the activation panel and hopes for the best. As the machinery comes to life and Omega breaks free of the control room’s shackles, Nero laughs maniacally at the power they’d managed to awaken.

But then…blindness. For a time, Omega’s signals remained strong, but then simply vanished. Failing in attempts to conceal his apprehension, Cid re-activates Omega’s temporal stasis as a precautionary measure, resolving to return to Gridania to learn what has transpired. The party emerges from the command room unsure if they’ve averted a disaster or caused one. Yda and the Warrior of Light linger behind a moment, and as if it were something she’d expected, the tattoo upon her neck—the mark of a Sharlayan Archon—suddenly dissolves.

Barely a word is spoken as the Excelsior returns to Gridania, and whatever had come of the engagement, the Alliance leaders are plainly still reflecting on it as the party arrives. Aymeric quietly replays the same moment in his head, wondering what might have changed had he not declared the eyes of Nidhogg beyond reach in the abyss. For once, it is the Alliance leaders who give testimony to the Scions.

With impossible speed, Omega had closed the distance between Carteneau and the East Shroud, preemptively shelling the failing wards with uncountable explosive projectiles. As the last of the cocoon fell to pieces, the true form of the primal was revealed—a winged serpent enveloped in spiked scales and gleaming with eldritch light. Ilberd’s dying wish, to visit a second Calamity upon the Empire, had birthed a nightmarish successor to the dreadwyrm himself. Munitions and magicks engulfed the land and air until the firmament itself was riven by empyreal rays. As the light faded, the two entities had fallen motionless somewhere beyond the Ala Mhigan horizon—their fates unknown.

The Elder Seedseer notes that during the battle, the Domans whispered a name from legend when they beheld the primal: Shinryu. While the legend and primal were obviously unrelated, the name had already become a convenient moniker for the entity in the conversations that followed, and it seemed likely to stick.

Come what may, the Alliance would play the hand that they were dealt. Already, Marshal Tarupin moved to capture Baelsar’s Wall and reclaim the Gridanian border while the Empire was in disarray. Already, Aymeric prepared the foundations of cooperation with the true Ala Mhigan Resistance. For the moment, there was hope that in time Gyr Abania would be free—that in time, Eorzea would be whole once more.

The Scions regroup in the East Shroud, where Yda had stood alone atop Amarissaix’s Spire into the morning light, gazing into the emptiness above Baelsar’s Wall. When Krile, Y’shtola, Alphinaud, and the Warrior of Light approach, however, she initiates the conversation herself, beginning a tale she hoped would explain everything. “There’s a path that only you can walk.” Papalymo’s last words continued to echo in her mind. It was more than a reminder; it was his final request.

She’d had a sister, once, she reveals. She’d had a sister who fought alongside their father to overthrow Theodoric, the mad king of Ala Mhigo, in 1557. She’d had a sister who’d spirited her away from the city after their father fell in battle with the Garleans; who’d brought her to the safety of Sharlayan; who’d become an Archon and joined the Circle of Knowing. She’d had a sister who’d died in 1571, refusing to leave behind a little girl on a mission to smuggle refugees away from the horror that had become their homeland.. She’d had a sister…named Yda.

The woman before them removes the mask and introduces herself as Lyse, yet finds that only the Warrior of Light seems surprised. The rest of the Scions, Y’shtola admits, had known all along; it’d been Papalymo who convinced them to keep up the charade. She smiles faintly at her own hopeful naiveté.

She’d never meant to walk Yda’s path so long, she confesses. She’d taken her sister’s place at Papalymo’s side to keep her memory alive, only to abandon more and more of herself in time. Yda’s role. Yda’s mask. Yda’s name. Though he never lost hope that she might one day become Lyse again, Papalymo had even ceded her imitations of her sister’s tattoos. Yet they, like the last of her excuses, had vanished with him. Still, it wasn’t enough to be liberated from her sister’s role alone; the time had come to discard the mask and the name, as well. There were paths that she could only walk as Lyse—beyond Papalymo’s side and into the flames of war to reclaim the Ala Mhigo that her family perished to defend.

Assured of Lyse’s wellbeing, the Scions give her space to mourn, though Y’shtola quietly lingers in the East Shroud should she need a friend. Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light return to Mor Dhona, where the young Elezen wastes no time in gossiping about recent developments. Alisaie, however, pulls the Warrior of Light aside and reminds them to rest while resting is an option; once the path to Gyr Abania was open, Eorzea would be at war. The cause would be a worthy one, she admits. After all, to ignore the plight of those one might conceivably save is not wisdom but indolence. Still—this was but the calm before the storm.