Field Notes on Noah
Birthplace: Arnsbeirgs, Landis
Legatus of the IVth Imperial Legion, Noah van Gabranth assumed his position at only twenty summers when his father, Basch van Gabranth, succumbed to a deadly illness. In the nigh three decades since, Noah has effectively and efficiently kept Dalmasca and Bozja under the imperial yoke, marching his men across the region to quell rebellions and revolts wherever they arose.
The IVth is oft regarded as anomalous and eccentric among the Empire's legions, and with good reason—for it is the only one to count a greater number of foreigners than native-born Garleans among its ranks. This includes the legatus himself, who has made it his policy to accept any and all capable individuals into his company. So long as the individual in question swears loyalty to the Empire, the IVth welcomes their contributions, regardless of race, gender, or country of origin. Ability and results delivered are valued above all—a true meritocracy. Gabranth applied a similar philosophy to the provinces under his rule, eschewing the traditional Garlean approach and tailoring his style of governance to suit the people of each individual region. Emperor Solus found this most admirable, though it is said Emperor Varis was far more skeptical—believing it a sign that Gabranth harbored lofty and dangerous aspirations ill befitting his station.
A charismatic figure beloved by almost all in command, Gabranth's fate took a dark turn after his defeat in Bozja, his once-vaunted legion left struggling to fend off the combined counterattack of the Dalmascan resistance and Eastern alliance. Depleted and run ragged after multiple battles with the resistance army—and with no reinforcements from his homeland coming to save him—morale dropped to an all-time low, and the IVth stood in danger of losing a vital outpost.
It was then that events took another unexpected turn, as the Beast King Lyon—taking extreme umbrage at being held responsible for the IVth's defeat—plotted mutiny against the selfsame leader to whom he once swore undying loyalty. Escaping his gaol cell with the help of his co-conspirators, he snuck into the chamber where Gabranth lay wounded in the dead of night. After an exchange of words between the two men, it was clear the legatus's mind was made up—he succumbed to his subordinate's blade with no resistance. The deed done, Lyon set Castrum Valnaini ablaze and fled the scene to destinations unknown. Later, the body and armor of the ill-fated Gabranth would be discovered by the resistance, though he was not immediately identified as such—in part because the burns were so severe that his face could scarcely be recognized, and in part because so few had seen the face under the mask in the first place. Still, in the end, the identity of the corpse was confirmed, and news of the death of Noah van Gabranth spread across the land.
Bereft of their charismatic leader, the once-proud IVth Legion quickly crumbled, some two-thirds of its numbers surrendering unconditionally to the resistance, while the remaining third fought in vain before being unceremoniously decimated by their foe. So did the long and bitter struggle come to an end, and Dalmasca shook free from the imperial yoke for the first time in over three decades.
And yet still, there are those who believe that Noah van Gabranth did not perish that day in Castrum Valnaini—that the corpse, mutilated beyond identification, belonged to another. Meanwhile, Lyon and the other former officers of the IVth—war criminals, all of them—remain at large, and the provisional government approved the repatriation of the vast majority of the IVth's rank-and-file soldiers as free citizens, electing not to try them for their crimes on the battlefield.
So it is that the people of Dalmasca still live in fear of the “ghost of Gabranth”—further details regarding which will be filed in a future report.