Lorecraft: Are the Twelve Related to the Convocation?
One of my favorite interview questions to date, was from Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, the English Translation & Localization Director, is his explanation of the explicit “Thal’s Balls.” You can find a video from the 2014 NA FanFest here, retelling the story of how the name came to pass prior to 1.0 and then was all over the place during Sony’s QA of the PS3 version of A Realm Reborn. Not only is it hilarious, it is also the origin story of the Eorzean Pantheon outside of the game and shows where the inspiration for names and lore can come from.
This is, obviously, only the meta-explanation for the name and since that presentation and their first mention, The Twelve have featured so much in the game, that we are now – inspired by another unlikely source – about to explore their true nature.
At the end of 6.0 we were teased with the fact that we didn’t even know the “true identity of the Twelve.” But what do we know about these (technically 13) gods, and why are they even important? We’re about to meet them in the proverbial flesh, but how significant is this in the lore? There are many, many questions to be answered here, but as much as I’d like to, this won’t be a full deep dive into every little detail and theory – otherwise we’d be sitting here for hours, writing a book instead of an article. Instead, this text aims to lay out the groundwork for more discussions later and, potentially, a chance to revisit this at the end of the Alliance Raid story to compare what we got right, what we got wrong and what else we learned.
As Myths of the Realm is following up on the culmination of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark Saga, this article will include spoilers for the story up to and including Endwalker!
Eorzea’s Creation Myth
Let us begin, then, at the very start. As with most religions, Eorzea has its own creation myth and while each spoken race has their own theories and belief systems, one such myth is wildly regarded as the “box standard” for Eorzea. The story is as follows and can be found in the first volume of the Encyclopaedia Eorzea:
In the beginning there was neither light nor darkness. Only the Whorl. And it was not until Althyk emerged thence in his nakedness, did time take its first step forward. With Him, the Keeper also carried weight, and with weight were the realms of land and firmament defined.
Yet Althyk would not be alone overlong, for soon from the Whorl did another step forth. Her name was Nymeia, and She was but a mewling babe who could do naught but weep, and soon Her tears had created a vast lake. Althyk, seeking companionship in the empty realm of His creation, took the younger goddess under His wing and cared for Her as one would a daughter. As Nymeia grew, however, so too, did their love for one another, until it could no longer be contained, culminating in a divine coupling which resulted in the birth of two holy daughters- Azeyma, the sun, and Menphina, the moon-and with their advent, was day and night conceived.
So did countless cycles of light and darkness pass before from the Whorl, once again, did another step forth. Thaliak, bearer of wisdom and knowledge, looked upon the silent and unchanging lake left by Nymeia’s tears and coaxed from it a river to carry that water to the far corners of the realm. Azyema, drawn to Thaliak’s sagacity, professed Her love to the new deity and begot Him two daughters-the first being Llymlaen, who took the water created by her grandmother and expanded it into the world’s seas. The second daughter was lonely Nophica, who, wanting for companionship, created Her own playmates, and thus brought life into the world.
It was not until life had spread throughout the land and newly created seas that a new god appeared, though whence the others did not know, for the Whorl lay dormant. His name was Oschon, and where He wandered did towering mountains rise from level plains. With the formation of these spires did cold wind flow from on high down to the warm seas and back up again, carrying life that was once reserved for land and water into the skies.
Those winds did bring love into the heart of Llymlaen, yet though she longed to be with Oschon, His wanderlust prevented the two from ever being joined overlong, and lo did they never beget children of their own. This was a time of great creation, but great chaos. Oschon’s mountains rose and fell at His whims, Thaliak’s rivers flowed hither and thither, and Llymlaen’s seas ever expanded, swallowing entire swathes of land before the gods even knew they were gone. To bring order to this chaos, Nymeia pried forth a mighty comet from the heavens and gave it life, directing it down into the world that it may destroy the excess Her sons and daughters had wrought, while bringing harmony once again to the realm.
And for many days and nights was the world calm, the gods content in the order which now reigned supreme. That is until the Whorl woke from its slumber and beckoned forth two final deities- Byregot and His younger sister Halone. It was feared that the untamed and ambitious siblings might once again usher chaos unto the world, so to see that they were properly disciplined, Nymeia quickly made them wards of Rhalgr, the Destroyer.
A builder by nature, Byregot resented His new stepfather who could teach him only of destruction, choosing instead to spend most of His time in the tutelage of Thaliak. The Scholar bestowed upon His eager student the knowledge He would use to forge the tools and techniques of creation. Though more open to Her new father’s teachings, Halone too, grew restless, longing to test Her strength. An opportunity arose when Oschon invited the young goddess on one of His journeys. It was during these travels that Halone’s ambition slowly transformed into a lust for battle. Whilst on the road, she would challenge every creature She met, honing Her skills and methodically devising new techniques for killing.
When Nophica, mother of life, learned of Halone’s wanton destruction of Her creations, she was angered beyond words and swore revenge, but the Fury ignored the Matron’s challenges, widening the rift between the two. Oschon, feeling responsible for this rift, devised a plan to calm Nophica. From within the mountains of His creation, Oschon summoned a fount of magma which spewed forth onto the land. Upon cooling, the magma took form of the Twelfth and final god-the dual aspected Nald’thal. With Nald’thal, Oschon had provided a god to oversee the souls of those who met their deaths and provide them with peace in the afterlife. Satisfied that Her creations would no longer wander the void aimlessly, Nophica agreed to a truce with Halone.
And with the advent of the Twelfth and final god was the pantheon complete. But before they could call an end to Their toil, They first required a realm in which They could reside and watch over Their myriad creation. To this end, they created the seven heavens, and to there did They finally retreat, bequeathing rule of Eorzea to mankind.
This story covers a lot. The order in which the gods were created, their role in the world, and their relationships with one another. It speaks of a Whorl and the creation of the Heavens. But we shouldn’t forget one thing in all of this: All of it is written according to Sharlayan studies and traditions. This myth was penned by Sharlayan sage Lewphon in the third century of the Sixth Astral era, so roughly 1300 years before the events of our Warrior of Light. As historic theories go, this one is a rather young one, seeing as the First Umbral Calamity – when Lewphon claims the Twelve left the planet to humankind – happened about 11,000 years prior to him writing down his theories. Way before the War of the Magi, long before the founding of Sharlayan, and even preceding the Allagan Empire by millennia. And while we have no records of the world prior to the First Calamity, just from a timeline standpoint it puts the Twelve far closer to the Pre-Sundering world than to ours. Have the Twelve really existed for that long? Could they have been Ancients themselves, remembered by the first sundered people and revered as Gods? That would certainly explain how Emet-Selch could so easily boast knowledge of their true identity. He would’ve known them either personally or had knowledge of them and made the connection between our religious beliefs and their inspiration. And it would address the very obvious elephant in the room: Azeyma.
After the events of patch 5.3, we have the chance to talk to Urianger who makes the connection not just between Azem and Azeyma but also to Azim, the Dawn Father and God of the Sun according to Auri belief. So we do have a first in-game theory of a connection between the Ancients and the Twelve – from Urianger no less, a learned scholar who despite his penchant for secrecy and plots, can be trusted in matters of knowledge. We’ll get back to Azeyma and Azem a bit later.
First, a little recap on when and where our Warrior of Light actually comes into contact with the Twelve and a hint at how prevalent the worship of the Twelve actually is outside of the occasional swear word.
The Twelve’s Role and Appearances
Most players today will probably remember a handful of moments in the story where the Twelve – either as a collective or as individuals – are named. Gaius’ elevator speech in the Praetorium dungeon might be the one that’s etched into our minds the most, but it’s by far not the first time we are faced with them.
The opening cutscene of A Realm Reborn features Louisoix Leveilleur trying to summon them in order to bind Bahamut, while Thancred, Yda, Papalymo, and Y’shtola are seen praying directly to them at various locations in the world. This comes after 1.0 players had been tasked by Louisoix himself to visit these locations of each of the Twelve and pray to them yourself. As a reward you were given a special ring devoted to the character’s chosen god. Additionally, there were these mysterious Allagan Runestones you could acquire from certain Faction Levequests. Each of them bore the symbol of one of the Twelve and could be traded to Rowena in exchange for armor. Our expert trader in everything Allagan wanted these seemingly worthless stones at the behest of an unnamed Ishgardian noble and it was never made clear as to their reasons.
After the “A New Beginning” cinematic, though, all we see of the Twelve is their name littered all around Eorzea. And of course Llymlaen and Nald’thal being guardian deities of Limsa Lominsa and Ul’dah respectively. But apart from small regions named after them, they take something of a back seat. Some of those locations: Nophica’s Wells, Oschon’s Embrace, the Thaliak River, and of course the most prominent one: The Sanctum of the Twelve, located in the Twelveswood, whose archway was used for the Myths of the Realm announcement.
In terms of a more active role, the first time our Warrior of Light really has to deal with them is when they head to Little Ala Mhigo and prevent the summoning of Rhalgr, the patron deity of Eorzea‘s northeastern city state Ala Mhigo. Things heat up again, of course, in the aforementioned Praetorium dungeon where Gaius reminds us of the supposed importance of our gods who he dismisses as false deities on the same level as the Primals of the “Beast Tribes.”
Things start to get more exciting the closer we get to FFXIV’s first expansion, Heavensward, and Ishgard’s strong believe in Halone, who is mentioned at every corner, and then again in Stormblood’s Gyr Abania parts with Rhalgr at the center of worship. Lastly, we made our way to Old Sharlayan in Endwalker, well-known for its connection to Thaliak.
Additionally, we have the optional level 70 dungeon where players explore the Temple in Rhalgr’s Reach: Temple of the Fist. Not only are players walking the same path as the Monks wo trained in the belief of the “Destroyer” but we also fight an avatar of Ivon Coeurlfist, one of the most famous monks of Rhalgr’s order.
Optional stories, side quests, and even ability names are a treasure trove for the Twelve. The Wanderer’s Palace is in honor of Oschon and is a remnant of Nym which is again featured heavily in the Scholar story quest. He is also featured as the namesake of Bards’ Wanderer’s Minuet. As is appropriate, crafters lean a lot into worship of Byregot and his name features both in quests and abilities. If you take a look at the different jobs and their quests, you will notice quite a few nods to the Twelve.
As you can see, Eorzea is deeply entrenched in their worship, even if we know little about how people worship on a day-to-day basis. So let’s change topic and explore the Myths of the Realm a bit closer. Specifically, what its name can tell us.
This all sounds Greek to me
Earlier, I mentioned the potential connection between Azeyma, the Warden, and Azem, the Traveler and Shepherd of the Stars in the Dark. Both have the sun as their symbol. And both have one more thing in common: Dancers. Azeyma is ”depicted as a noble lady holding a golden fan.” When you meet, and then later fight Venat, the prior holder of the Seat of Azem, she too has elements of a Dancer.
Now, let us take a look at the name “Aglaia”, in terms of where it could come from and what it could mean.
The most likely inspiration is Aglaea, the Greek goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment. She is one of the three Charities, alongside her two sisters Euphrosyne, the goddess of joy or mirth, and Thalia, the goddess of festivity and rich banquets.
More interesting than her name is her husband: Hephaestus, the Greek god of crafters and artisans. And while it hasn’t been confirmed in any official capacity, it is possible and a prominent theory that Lahabrea’s real name is Hephaestus. We’re told that Erichthonios, whom we meet in Pandaemonium, is Lahabrea’s son. The Seat of Lahabrea was also tasked with creation, further cementing the connection to Hephaestus. It should be mentioned, though, that Aglaea is not his first spouse, which would be Aphrodite, and on top of that it’s specifically said in game, that Erichthonios’ mother is Athena, in accordance with the rather disturbing story of Greek myth. Final Fantasy XIV will likely delineate from the source material, though we can’t know yet it which way.
Taking everything into account, we know the real names of the following Convocations members at the time of the Sundering:
Emet-Selch = Hades
Lahabrea = Hephaestus
Loghrif = Gaia
Mitron = Artemis
Fandaniel = Hermes
Elidibus = Themis, probably
It is currently rumored and theorized that Themis, the other Ancient who accompanies us throughout the Pandaemonium raid story, will end up being Elidibus. The teaser for the raid at the end of the Endwalker credits shows a white-cloaked NPC who uses the voice actor of Elidibus and we can assume that they would be the same person as Themis who shows up in the raid story itself. Their white robes also speaks of their association with office of Elidibus, as only they – and those Ancients who not return to the lifestream after their work in the Convocation is done – classically wear white robes.
That leaves the other half of the Convocation still unnamed, with Azem having no counterpart to allow players their own narrative. We’re still missing Halmarut, Emmerololth, Altima, Nabriales, Igeyorhm, Deudalaphon, and Pashtarot. Who knows if we’ll ever learn their true names, but there are already plenty of theories around the remaining Convocation members.
And speaking of theories, I think it is time that we spin our own tales and make our way into the world of speculation. Everything following now is pure speculation based on theories, wishful thinking and just wild guess work.
If we assume that the first tier of the new Alliance Raid is named after the Greek goddess, we can assume that the overall theme will stay the same for the entire series. And seeing as Aglaea has two sisters, who are collectively called the “Charities”, it seems likely that the other two dungeons of Myths of the Realm will be named after them: Euphrosyne and Thalia.
Something else to add into this discussion is the creation of the Seven Heavens and Hells by the Twelve before they left the world. Each one is tied to an element, with the Heavenly elements astral-aligned and the Hells umbral-aligned. The seventh of each being unaligned to any element.
Now, from the Patch 6.1 trailer, we got a first glimpse of Aglaia and some of its encounters: Azeyma, Nald’thal, Rhalgr and Byregot are shown, representing the Heaven of Fire for the former two and Lightning for the latter.
Meaning we will likely encounter the Heaven of Earth (Nophica, Althyk) and Ice (Halone, Menphina) in Euphrosyne in Patch 6.3 and Thalia would include the Heaven of Water (Thaliak, Nymeia) and Wind (Llymlaen, Oschon) in Patch 6.5.
Having two names in the game now that directly relate to the Greek god Hephaestus is certainly interesting. On the one hand we have Aglaia, his wife, as the name of the Alliance Raid dungeon. On the other we have his son Erichthonios, one of the two main NPC protagonists in the Pandaemonium Raids. The latter clearly stating that his father is the current Lahabrea. Who in turn took over his seat of his now rejoined wife Athena. Another Greek god, and former wife to Hephaestus. How far-fetched then is the idea of linking all of this together and assume that Lahabrea’s true name is Hephaestus and that there IS a connection between the Ancients and the Twelve through him?
If we put that theory to the test, we need to see if we can map the every Convocation Seat to the Twelve, not just Lahabrea. We can assume that he was the inspiration for Byregot, as both governed over creation and were regarded as master craftsmen. Emet-Selch as the overseer of the underworld would then lead to half of the twin deity with the same function: Thal. Venat’s Azem obviously led to Azeyma. But the rest? Let’s speculate and see if we can mix and match:
|Convocation Seat||Real Name / Greek Inspiration||God of the Twelve|
Feel free to disagree with most of these here but first let me explain why I choose each of them. Emet-Selch, I already explained, though here I explicitly split him up and associated him with Thal, the overseer of the underworld. Lahabrea was explained already as well, and Elidibus is technically a special seat of the Convocation, and would therefore not be represented by the Twelve. For the rest we need to look at their role in the Convocation and see if there is any form of overlap. Thankfully, Emet-Selch gives us some insight into them during our visit in Elpis:
Loghrif was a specialist in terrestrial life, while Oschon created mountains in his path. And while Oschon’s element is wind, his title is “Ruler of the Mountains.” With his bow and walking stick, he may not only be patron of wanderers and vagrants, but could easily also be seen as a shepherd. Which in turn would circle back to Loghrif’s second specialty of husbandry. All in all, a fitting pairing, I’d say.
I used a similar reasoning for Mitron, expert in aquatic life. His counterpart may very well be Nymeia, whose tears created the oceans. Her element is water and at that point the similarities already end, unfortunately.
Fandaniel was a bit tricky, but still very interesting. I settled on Althyk as he is the surveyor of change and space and the god of time. Althyk’s symbol is the hourglass. Given the story of Hermes and our clash with him in Ktisis Hyperboreia and the cutscene afterwards especially. In a sense, Hermes turns back time for Emet-Selch and Hythlodaeus, changing their memory with a machine that looks very much like a gigantic sundial. Both the time and change motif are present and while it might not be an hourglass per se, it may be close enough?
Akadaemia Anyder and Emet-Selch teach us the role of Halmarut as the expert of plant and fungal life. According to the Eorzean Creation myth, Nophica did the same for our world. She is the “Tender of souls and harvests” and she is the goddess of abundance. It really was the only logical choice.
The same can’t be said for the next few Seats of the Convocation. Without knowing either their true names or their role in ancient Amaurot, Emmerololth and Deudalaphon were a choice of “Who’s left, really?”. That choice falling to Nald and Llymlaen respectively with no real rhyme or reason behind either decision.
I had a similar issue with Altima. Bear with me here, because this is certainly a stretch: As the “advocate of the arts” her role is not easily defined. Which arts are we talking about here? And by what standards did she judge them? From our visit to Emet-Selch’s recreation of Amaurot at the end of Shadowbringers we know that the Ancients had a love for discussions and discourse. Depending on our definition – either historic or contemporary – “arts” can mean many things. Including rhetoric as it was in the Liberal Arts of … Ancient Greece. But it could also mean art in terms of painting, literature, music. Things often associate with beauty and emotions. The idea here is that the very loose and broad definition of Altima’s seat somehow led to the very fine and distinct role of Menphina as the goddess of love. None of this gets any easier when we take a look at how what we know of Menphina: she is the Keeper of the twin moons and is depicted carrying a skillet. Pre-Sundering Etheirys should not have a moon, let alone two, and the skillet is used for cooking. Certainly an art form as well, but most likely not what Emet-Selch meant.
The only reason why I had any guess for Nabriales – be it a good one or not – is his portrayal during the 2.x patch cycle. Abrasive, aggressive, even somewhat cocky. He only held back from killing Minfilia by the wrath of Elidibus that would incur. With all of that in mind, I picked someone to match his character: the goddess of war herself, Halone.
Igeyorhm as the champion of enlightenment was thankfully an easy choice again. With keeping and furthering knowledge, there really was only one choice for her: Thaliak. Both have the same role, there really was no second-guessing here.
The reasoning for Pashtarot as the inspiration for Rhalgr was a little more tricky. Tasked with preserving discipline and order, I can easily see him as the inspiration of Byregot and Halone’s “babysitter” and father. After all, Rhalgr was tasked with bringing order to the chaos of Byregot and Halone. Similar to Paschtarot’s role in the Convocation. Also, as a fun remark on the side: imagine having to deal with Lahabrea and Nabriales on a daily basis. Surely you’d adopt a meteor as your symbol as well.
Of course, we’re not the only ones looking for answers, as the quest in-game will have to start somewhere and be led by someone with an interest in the Twelve. It was just a matter of time before we’d meet a student with questions about our pantheon. And that seems to be exactly what’s happening in 6.1. The question is, just what exactly spurred their interest? What are their theories and sources for those? Maybe one of these strange Allagan Runestones makes their way back into the story after all these years? Maybe our new quest giver heard about that Ishgardian noble or is even related to them. Now that would certainly be a deep-cut and a reference that only very few players would get. But then again, so was the cutscene at the very start of Endwalker with the Warrior of Light on board of a ship leaving Limsa Lominsa. It is a near 1:1 remake of the starting cutscene for 1.0 players who chose that very same city as the start of their adventure.
If any of this is true or not, we may never know… or we will find out very soon. What we do know for certain, is that the writing team behind Final Fantasy XIV has successfully proven that they can weave quite the tale and connect loose ends from years past and even bring together story threads that had no original connections to each other.
We’ll make sure to revisit these theories after our time with Myths of the Realm so stay tuned to see how right, or wrong, we were!