A Performance for the Ages
Saint Coinach's Find
Yes, yes...I must speak of the arrangements I made to acquire the two remaining varieties of aethersand. Some days ago, I asked a Sharlayan acquaintance of mine to travel to Gridania and there gather the necessary materials. Since that time, however, I have heard nary a whisper from him. To be frank, this lack of communication is not entirely uncharacteristic, but I cannot discount the possibility that something ill has befallen the man. Alas, we do not have time to investigate his fate. As I have mentioned before, the more we delay our expedition, the more likely it is that the Crystal Tower's secrets will fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, I would entrust you with the same mission I assigned to my friend. Travel to the Black Shroud, and seek out Parsemontret, the master of the markets in Gridania. If anyone knows where aethersand might be bought, it is he.
The Shaded Bower
Yes? ...I'm sorry? Did you say you wish to purchase aethersand? My dear fellow, have you the faintest idea of the rarity of the material you seek? Why, I have not seen so much as a grain of aethersand in these markets for many a long year. I could tell you where one might mine the ore from which the water-aspected variety of the abrasive is derived, but only a desperate fool would willingly set foot in the place... You seem undeterred. <sigh> Very well. Are you familiar with Urth's Gift? That is where the ore is to be found—in an area inhabited by a particularly pernicious hog. Should you encounter the betusked nightmare, you will know that you are in the right place...albeit at the wrong time. Farewell!
You are too late, adventurer—and not only for the entertainment. You will find no trace of the ore which but recently lay here. Nay, not so much as a speck. Ah...no. You will never spy me from there. For the time being at least, you will have to trust the evidence of your ears. Now stop squinting at the foliage and listen. As I told you, the water-blessed mineral you hoped to find is gone—taken by me. Victory has made me magnanimous, however. Accordingly, I have decided to share the location of an alternative source of aethersand with you—the wind-touched variety, to be specific. I trust I have your attention? Good. A band of Ixal in the North Shroud keeps a quantity of the abrasive for the purpose of removing impurities from lesser crystals. Well? Do you mean to dally here all day? Make haste, adventurer, before I snatch another prize from under your nose! This is to be a race. The Ixali logging grounds in the North Shroud shall be our destination. And that is where the real amusement will begin. May the best man win!
Ixali Logging Grounds
Bravo! That was quite a show, adventurer! Why, the spectacle proved so enthralling that all thoughts of aethersand slipped my mind. I appear to have forfeited our little race! Congratulations—the wind-touched abrasive is yours. And yet, having been treated to such a memorable performance, I cannot help feeling that the greater prize is mine. This inequity must not stand. I insist that you accept a token of my appreciation. Payment for this entertainment will be waiting for you to the east, in a clearing within Proud Creek. Pray retrieve the gift ere it is crushed beneath the iron feet of the dullahans!
Not what you were expecting? I took the liberty of refining the ore from Urth's Gift into aethersand. Do keep it safe, adventurer. Lest you accuse me of playing games, you should know that the thought of relinquishing my prize never once crossed my mind—until I saw you in action. Such deeds must needs be rewarded. It is my vocation, you see, to record history as it is made by mortal men. And I much prefer to chronicle the accomplishments of the bold and the mighty. Thus, it is my fervent wish that you continue your career with the same courage and zeal you have shown today. We shall meet again, adventurer—and sooner than you may imagine.
Saint Coinach's Find
What news of your mission? Are we any closer to acquiring the remaining abrasives? You've brought both!? I shall have Master Garlond begin work on the crystals immediately.
There. That should to do the trick!
Excellent work! We now possess all four of the "fangs" required to pierce the Crystal Tower's defenses. My compliments, Master Garlond!
Oh, it was a trifling matter, I assure you. Forename here is the one you should be thanking. Anyway, by my reckoning, there's nothing stopping us from striding up to the Allagans' front door!
You can't go without us, Chief!
Biggs! Wedge! Come to lend a hand, have you?
Well, it's not every day you get the chance to study the wonders of the Allagan Empire, is it? Their technology makes Garlemald's look ancient!
I appreciate your enthusiasm, lads, I really do, but we're not here to take this knowledge for ourselves. Twice in the last decade, the promise of unimaginable power has prompted men to meddle with technology they do not understand, and the realm has been dragged unto the very brink of oblivion on both occasions. We shall not be so irresponsible as to risk another. Wedge, do you recall our company's creed?
Y-Yes, Chief! It's, um, "Freedom through Technology"?
Exactly. Freedom. When we forsook our homeland, we swore that we would have no truck with machines that could be used to promote tyranny. That has not changed. Should you feel tempted to break your oath, remember this: the wonders of the all-knowing Allagan Empire could not save their civilization, and have damn near doomed ours. Twice. That is why we must explore the Crystal Tower, and, if needs be, seal away its secrets.
A compelling viewpoint. It is unyielding wills such as yours that have defined the course of history.
So, you return at last. What, pray tell, has kept you so wholly preoccupied that you could not spare a moment to inform me of your progress or preservation?
Why, the task you assigned to me, of course. Surely you have not forgotten about the aethersand? I tasked a passing adventurer with delivering it. A more capable courier I could not imagine. Greetings, adventurer! Did I not say we would meet again? I believe an introduction is in order. I am G'raha Tia, one of the Students of Baldesion. I look forward to joining you on your ground-breaking expedition!
G'raha Tia has been assigned to the project as an observer. I hope you will forgive him his...eccentricities and welcome him as one of our own.
So then, our fellowship is complete, and all stand ready to step into the unknown! Three cheers for NOAH!
That is the name I have chosen for our little collective. Given our differing backgrounds, we cannot very well call ourselves the Sons of Saint Coinach, can we? And we must have a memorable appellation if our venture is to leave its mark in the annals of history. I could claim that NOAH stands for "Nominated Observers of Artifacts Historical," and so it does, technically—but my true reason for choosing this name stems from the fact that it is shared by a vaunted Allagan archmagus.
An archmagus? I like the sound of that!
...Very well. Now that the pressing matter of what to call ourselves has been settled, it is time we set forth to brave the outer defenses of the Crystal Tower. Is everyone ready to depart?