|Ah, an honest inquiry─that sad, wonderful moment when ignorant curiosity overcomes pride. Right, then, let us begin.
|Please, do not bother me with your idiotic blathering. I need to concentrate! I am working on my latest theory. I should not even have spared the time to tell you that just now. Or that, just now! Leave me!
Erik: I need hardly mention that Sil'dihn civilization is now centuries dead.
Erik: Sil'dih was plunged into chaos in the wake of King Lalawefu's demise─or the King of Springs, as he was known. Despite the success of his economic reforms, the tax increases he imposed did not sit well with his subjects. This, coupled with a prolonged sequence of untimely droughts, fomented unrest among the people and in time sparked violent unrest throughout the kingdom.
Erik: Sil'dih was not alone in its want for water. Ul'dah, too, felt the effects of the droughts. The sultan at the time, Sasagan Ul Sisigan─ Ah! But perhaps you recognize the Ul name? The current sultana, Nanamo Ul Namo, represents the second Ul dynasty. She is Sasagan's distant descendant. Now...where was I? Ah, yes! Right, so, Sasagan ordered an attack on Sil'dih to claim the water resources discovered as a result of Lalawefu's flood control acts.
Erik: But the royalty and nobility of Sil'dih would not remain idle. They mobilized their nation in the face of this crisis, and the people fought with great tenacity against the Ul'dahn threat. The full strength of both nations met in battle, and the end result was an arduous protracted conflict.
Erik: Though arguably more desirable than surrender, the ruling Sil'dihn elite took little pleasure in having succeeded in uniting the theretofore querulous citizenry to fight. For despite all they accomplished, every day spent waging war dragged the nation's financial affairs─which you will recall had only just been brought under control─back into the mire.
Erik: To bring an end to the long military deadlock, Sil'dih devised and set about implementing a perverse yet ambitious strategy.
Erik: It sought to zombify the deceased among its army, that they might fight again.
Erik: At first, it appeared to have worked. Yet at the height of hostilities, the Sil'dihns lost control over their necrotic creations. The undead turned on their masters, and before long the zombification had spread to a majority of the population.
Erik: Ever knowing an opportunity when they saw one, the Ul'dahns grasped this turn of events to justify their war─now proclaiming it a crusade to send these zombies to Thal. After seeing to the extermination of all zombies outside the city, they then sealed the gates of Sil'dih, entrapping both the living and dead within.
Erik: And that, in brief, is a history of the fall of Sil'dih. I only pray that your feeble mind is able to retain it.
|The study of aether.
Erik: I shall tell you yet again of the study of aether.
Erik: As I laboriously explained, aether is not only the source of all magicks, but also the fount of all life. Yet despite its ubiquity, it remains imperceptible to the senses of man. When a living thing dies, the aether comprising its life is released.
Erik: It has been learned that when this discharge takes place, a portion of that aether remains, lingering in the physical world. No doubt you have come across aetherial crystallizations in the course of your travels.
Erik: All scholars now agree that these are the physical manifestations of great concentrations of aether.
Erik: I have a theory, however, that they are not the only such manifestations.
Erik: Allow me to give an example even you can understand─that of ghosts, spirits, disembodied souls. Apparitions of the deceased come back to haunt and generally unnerve us? False!
Erik: These are nothing more than the luminescent glow of aether in the atmosphere. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that you are asking yourself why a portion of the aether remains.
Erik: Right, well, the amount of aether that can shift between the physical and aetherial realms in any given instant is limited. I call this the aetherial threshold. Any aether present in excess of that threshold is left behind.
Erik: The more violent or dramatic the loss of life, the greater the amount of inner aether released to take the form of crystals or remain imperceptibly in the atmosphere. And you surely recollect the scene I identified as the most apt to produce such violent deaths?
Erik: On the field of battle! It stands to reason, therefore, that through the aetherial measurement of such sites, I will be able to reconstruct details of the wars waged upon them.
Erik: And that, Forename, is why this military historian has a deeply vested interest in the subject of aether.
Erik: Despite all we do know, however, many mysteries remain. The study of aether will no doubt continue to yield fascinating and awe-inspiring discoveries for years to come─of that I am certain.
Erik: Very well, prepare to learn all you ever cared to and more of the land known as Bloodshore.
Erik: The sanguine nomenclature derives from a truly horrific battle which took place there some fifty years ago.
Erik: The two greatest pirate fleets of the day─the League of Lost Bastards and the followers of Rycharde Mistbeard─met one another at sea just off the coast.
Erik: To this very day, none can say with certainty who shot first, nor why. Mayhap there was no good reason at all. All know the two pirate leaders loathed one another, and when dealing with pirates, little more than that is needed to ignite a war.
Erik: By the by, it just so happens that the head of the League of Lost Bastards, one Bloefhis, was father to the current Admiral of Limsa Lominsa. It is told the old sea dog wished for his daughter to take command of his fleet upon his death.
Erik: But that is a tale for another time. Suffice it to say, a shot was fired, and the mightiest pirate armadas in the realm came to fight one of the bloodiest naval battles in Eorzean history. All told, seven galleys were sunk that day, and dozens of smaller warships.
Erik: Four of the seven galleys went down in mere moments. When at last the smoke cleared and the cannons fell silent, hundreds lay dead on the ocean's bottom.
Erik: It is said the foam of the tides was tinged red with blood for days after the battle, and bodies washed ashore for weeks to follow.
Erik: So, as you can see, geography and history are inextricably linked. Regrettably, the region has recently been purchased by a wealthy Ul'dahn merchant named Gegeruju. He has chosen to turn a blind eye to the land's history, and has taken to calling it Costa del Sol.
Erik: And I believe I will stop there concerning Bloodshore, and allow your feeble brain to process all it has heard.
|Erik: The Finesand Banks have a rich history indeed.
Erik: They are found on the west shore of the Velodyna River, at the foot of a now-extinct volcano overlooking the Rothlyt Sound. The area is a sedimentary basin formed by the deposit of the fine silts and sands carried by the river.
Erik: Today, it falls within Gridanian territory, but in days past it belonged to my own home nation, Ala Mhigo.
Erik: A century ago, King Manfred came to power in Ala Mhigo and decided to expand the nation's territory in order to promote economic growth.
Erik: To that end, he ordered the Ala Mhigan army to undertake large-scale campaigns that would eventually lead to the onset of the Autumn War.
Erik: Naturally, such action was met with vehement opposition from the other nations. Gridania, fearing encroachment along its border with Ala Mhigo, placed the renowned lancer Vainchelon in command of its standing armies and war began.
Erik: His opponent was Gylbarde, the great general of Ala Mhigo, a fervent believer in the Fist of Rhalgr, and a man who enjoyed enormous popularity among the Ala Mhigan people.
Erik: The two leaders were loved by their troops, and, at the outbreak of war, morale on both sides was very high. The armies clashed time and again all along the border, neither general yielding an ilm. But in a galling twist of fate for Gridania, Vainchelon suddenly took deathly ill.
Erik: After no victor emerged following the Battle of Finesand Banks, Vainchelon devised a new strategy.
Erik: He ordered his forces to retreat to Camp Nine Ivies, fully intending for Gylbarde to give chase. This would lure the Ala Mhigans to terrain more favorable and familiar to the Gridanians.
Erik: He died, however, before he was able to see his plan executed. Now, the man who would replace him, Osbern, was extremely ambitious and eager to prove his worth to the Seedseers. Having neither the mind nor patience for Vainchelon's defensive war, however, he ordered a frontal assault on the Ala Mhigan position. When Gylbarde learned of this plan─if plan it may be called─he secretly deployed troops to the most vital points along the Finesand Banks.
Erik: The Gridanian forces had scarcely entered the area before they began to suffer heavy losses from highly coordinated Ala Mhigan ambushes.
Erik: In response, Osbern ordered a forced march, permitting his troops no rest for several days as he attempted to surge through the region. Eventually, exhausted, the Gridanians came to entrench themselves on a hill.
Erik: But this is precisely what Gylbarde had wanted! He surrounded the hill with six thousand soldiers to deny the forestborn any hope of retrieving water, and then proceeded to rain down barrage after barrage of arrows upon the encampment.
Erik: In this seemingly hopeless position, the morale of the Gridanians quickly dwindled. Following two failed attempts to break free, Osbern himself led the van in a third and final charge.
Erik: In the end, Gridania was defeated. Osbern and several of his officers were captured, and the legendary staff Claustrum, lent him by one of the Seedseers, was taken.
Erik: This abject defeat accounted for what little morale remained among his surviving troops, and they beat a desperate retreat to Five Hangs with the relentless Ala Mhigans harrying them every step of the way.
Erik: Gylbarde's victory brought him ever greater accolades from his country, and as a result both he and the Fist of Rhalgr came to wield considerable political power.
Erik: And that is a brief history of the Finesand Banks. No, no, you needn't thank me. Knowing there is a little less ignorance in the world is all the reward I require.
|Erik: East End is just that─the eastern end of the Black Shroud.
Erik: The Autumn War marked the beginning of hostilities between Ala Mhigo and Gridania. The first major victory in that war came at the First Battle of Tinolqa, and it belonged to Ala Mhigo.
Erik: Defeated, the Gridanians retreated to the safety of Five Hangs. The front was splintered, and afterwards they would resort to opportunistic ambushes, and the constant redeployment of troops to continue their resistance.
Erik: The Ala Mhigans, confident of ultimate victory, enjoined Gridania to surrender. As conditions, they demanded that all of the East and portions of the Central Shroud be relinquished, and perhaps more disturbingly, that the Seedseers be taken as wards of Ala Mhigo, where they would be met with no harm.
Erik: Needless to say, Gridania refused.
Erik: Providence was to be delivered to the forestborn by the neighboring nation of Ishgard. Wary of Ala Mhigo's ambitions for the region, the See appealed to Limsa Lominsa and Ul'dah for aid. The three joined Gridania in her declaration of war against Ala Mhigo, and sent troops to reinforce the front.
Erik: But this was far from a gesture of charity. It is easy to see what the motives of the See were.
Erik: Should certain sections of the Black Shroud be annexed to Ala Mhigo, Ishgard's southern and eastern borders would become extremely vulnerable to a possible invasion.
Erik: For their part, Limsa Lominsa and Ul'dah had virtually nothing to lose by entering into the war, and yet everything to gain by curbing the power of Ala Mhigo in the realm. Even more, victory would place Gridania in their debt.
Erik: And so it came to pass that these four great nations joined into a grand alliance to combat the advance of Ala Mhigo. The fighting which was to follow would later be named the Second Battle of Tinolqa.
Erik: The heaviest and most devastating combat took place on a tract of land called East End. In the beginning, there were several small-scale skirmishes, but the allied powers succeeded in foiling the stratagems of Ala Mhigo at every turn.
Erik: Feeling the tide begin to turn against them, Ala Mhigo dispatched its pikemen─known far and wide for their effectiveness against mounted units, such as the knights of Ishgard.
Erik: To rally the troops even more, King Manfred himself took to the field to lead them.
Erik: At first, it seemed as though Ala Mhigo had succeeded in reversing its fortune, as the allies began a slow retreat towards East End.
Erik: This was a clever ploy, however, designed to lure the pikemen into the dense growth of the forest, where their long polearms would be unwieldy and near useless.
Erik: It was during these days that the archers of Gridania would prove their value beyond the bow, singing songs of heroism and glory in the field to bolster the allied troops.
Erik: It is said that this gave birth to the bard tradition.
Erik: The archers of Gridania excelled at combat in the dense vegetation of the Black Shroud, and their arrows inflicted heavy casualties on the Ala Mhigans.
Erik: In the end, General Gylbarde was slain, King Manfred severely wounded, and Ala Mhigo completely and utterly defeated.
Erik: And that is a brief summation of the history of East End─site of the end of the forest, and the end of the war both. Do you know, I can almost feel you getting less stupid, Forename!
|Monks and the Fist of Rhalgr.
|Erik: The monks and the Fist of Rhalgr are interesting in the same way as any other organized religion─a sad, pathetic, and humorous way.
Erik: The brothers and sisters of the monkhood are those souls training in the service of Rhalgr, god of destruction among the Twelve. The Fist of Rhalgr is their order.
Erik: This barbaric cult traces its origins back several centuries to Ala Mhigo. That simpleton Widargelt is one of their number.
Erik: The Fist teaches those foolish enough to listen that through rigorous training of the mind and body, and with constant invigoration and refinement, one can approach the sublimity of Rhalgr Himself.
Erik: Such is their power of concentration that they are able to master the aether within their bodies and channel it in a manner that grants them immense destructive power.
Erik: The monkhood insists on calling this internal essence “spiritual energy” or “life force”─but trust me when I say it is nothing other than aether.
Erik: Endowed with this brutish, unthinking gift for hitting things very hard, the entire cult has evolved into a sort of clergy with martial proclivities. This was no doubt a result of their main temple being located in Gyr Abania─a region plagued by warfare where knowing how to protect oneself is essential.
Erik: As the years passed, however, what began as a simple group of religious fanatics fighting to protect themselves grew into an ambitious organization of religious fanatics taking part in the region's power struggles.
Erik: Those in power in Ala Mhigo grew wary of these war priests who proclaimed all their fights to be fought in the name of a god, and who employed deadly force without the slightest hesitation. And so, rather than make enemies of the monks, they decided instead to use them to their benefit.
Erik: Through affiliation with the Ala Mhigan royal family, the Fist of Rhalgr was incorporated into the nation's standing army.
Erik: This not only granted the monks a great deal of power, but furnished them with all of the rights accorded protectors of the citizenry. And their political influence was still growing...
|The fate of the Fist of Rhalgr.
|Erik: I confess I find great joy in studying the demise of a religion─and even greater joy in recounting it!
Erik: The power of the Fist of Rhalgr grew unchecked in Ala Mhigo, and it was eventually named the state religion. After this, its influence over political, economic, and cultural spheres of life became even more considerable. Needless to say, this did not sit well with one and all.
Erik: Among them was the last and most ugsome of Ala Mhigan royalty, the King of Ruin─Theodoric. The rise of the Fist meant a potential rival for power, and he would not suffer the monkhood to encroach on his prerogatives.
Erik: To counter their claims of religious righteousness, he simply conjured his own out of thin aether, proclaiming that the throne was his by divine right, given him by the word of Nymeia Herself─master of Rhalgr.
Erik: He then banned the worship and likenesses of Rhalgr and all other gods, and demanded that the prayers and praises of Ala Mhigo be given to Nymeia and Her alone. In doing so, he sought to establish his own absolute, uncontested rule.
Erik: Naturally, the Fist and other worshipers of Rhalgr throughout the nation rose in protest, precisely as Theodoric had known they would.
Erik: He used the uprisings as a pretext to imprison several high-ranking monks, whom he then tortured until they confessed their order's plans to topple his rule.
Erik: In 1552 of the Sixth Astral Era, Theodoric led a vast army to the site of the monkhood's main temple and surrounded it.
Erik: Monks, novices, and devotees, including the elders; refugees seeking shelter after the fires of war had turned their homes to ash; servants and peasants hired to do no more than till the fields─none were left alive.
Erik: The monks fought heroically, but were hopelessly outnumbered. With the massacre of that day, nearly all of the monkhood perished.
Erik: The elders, the keepers of the tradition and its knowledge, resided within the temple grounds. It was thought that all versed in the ways of the chakra were lost...
Erik: But then what of this Widargelt simpleton? Just who is he? Perhaps the end of the Fist was not the end of the monks, after all.
Erik: My dear, poor Yasutori. What you do not know about Silvertear Falls could fill a book. And has─multiple times over, I'm sure.
Erik: Since ancient times, the Falls and the region of Mor Dhona in which they are located have been believed to be the seat of a great spiritual energy, as less advanced peoples were wont to call it.
Erik: So old are these beliefs that the tomb of Xande himself, the first emperor of Allag, was built deep beneath the surface of Mor Dhona, in the hope that the mystical power which resided under the lake would raise him from the dead.
Erik: Oh, there are any number of legends and myths surrounding the place. I think the oldest and most widely known would have to be that of the dragon of the Falls. I do not claim to be a folklorist, but I can certainly provide the general tale.
Erik: There was the birth of Althyk, god of time among the Twelve, and in turn, His younger sister Nymeia, goddess of fate. And then there was water, and through it Silvertear Falls came to be at the center of all that was.
Erik: Here was the source not only of water, but the fount of all magic as well.
Erik: Now, when water came into being, so too did the great dragon Midgardsormr. Brother Time and Sister Fate, fearing the Falls might fall into the hands of evil, ordered Midgardsormr their protector and warden.
Erik: Much later, with the arrival of man, would Midgardsormr be worshipped as the guardian deity of Silvertear Falls.
Erik: Have you been to Silvertear Falls, Yasutori? Or are you as untraveled as you are unread? Have you gazed upon the enormous dragon corpse, frozen as a statue with wings outspread? If you have, you have gazed upon Midgardsormr.
Erik: That tragedy is but ten years old. After invading my home of Ala Mhigo, the Garleans launched a fleet of airships led by the monstrosity Agrius.
Erik: They flew for Silvertear Falls, knowing them to harbor the greatest concentration of aether.
Erik: And then, as those horrific instruments of evil loomed overhead, casting the dark shadow of death, the surface of the lake suddenly parted and burst skyward as Midgardsormr emerged to defend his waters.
Erik: The battle between Midgardsormr and the Agrius has since come to be known as the Battle of Silvertear Skies. The dragon fought with divine strength and purpose, and after a fierce and grueling struggle, succeeded in bringing down the airship.
Erik: As it fell into the lake, the impact caused the ceruleum onboard to detonate, and Midgardsormr was killed, his corpse charred black in the conflagration.
Erik: The structure formed by the wreckage of the Agrius and the entangled remains of Midgardsormr is now called the Keeper of the Lake.
Erik: For many religious and mythological enthusiasts, it stands as proof of the existence of the gods. For most people, however, it serves as a grim reminder of the horrific, dare I say deicidal, power of Garlemald.
Erik: Why did that dragon appear that day? Was it truly the Midgardsormr, the legendary guardian of Silvertear Falls? Such questions and more remain unanswered.
Erik: For my part, I make the entire debacle for an elaborate Garlean fabrication, acted out to near perfection.
Erik: But let us put aside dragons and empires, and speak instead of mine own latest discovery at the lake!
Erik: The aether of the area is in an extremely chaotic state. I had long thought this to be a result of the Battle of Silvertear Skies, but have learned that this is not the case!
Erik: The disturbances I have observed do not all derive from a single source. Beyond the imperceptible aether emitted by the Keeper of the Lake, there are even stronger aetherial waves coming from deep below the earth to the east.
Erik: I studied them in great detail, and learned that they are coming from a massive tower that was buried deep below the earth at the time of that battle─the Crystal Tower!
Erik: To think, I had stumbled upon this legendary structure─the very height of Allagan civilization and technology! The shifting and grinding of the earth caused by the Calamity woke the tower from its slumber of some five thousand years.
Erik: And, having since slowly risen from its earthen tomb, the tower pierces the skies once more!
Erik: You must someday gaze upon it with your own eyes. It is truly a sight to behold. Yes, I can still recall the thunderous applause of my colleagues when I presented my theory of the tower. They were a great deal more grateful than you, that much is certain.
Erik: There is a team of scholars who specialize in the study of all things Allagan. They are known as the Sons of Saint Coinach. At present, they are focusing their efforts on testing the validity of this theory. I very much look forward to news of their findings.