He Who Would Not Be Denied
That, my friends, was rather too close for comfort. Praise Halone that things did not end in bloodshed. I confess, I was more than a little dismayed to see you in the company of the Lady Iceheart. Whatever is going on, Forename? Beg pardon...? You traveled to the Churning Mists together? ...Along with Estinien!? Never was there a more unlikely alliance─nor one so magnificently effective! Nidhogg, dead; the heretics, pacified─Father and Ser Aymeric must know of this!
Let us break the news to them together. I will bring Ser Aymeric to Fortemps Manor.
Hmm...yes, an excellent suggestion. Very well. Forename and I shall await you there!
Praise Halone, you are safe!
My safety was never in doubt, Father, for I had the Azure Dragoon and the Warrior of Light by my side. We bring the most wonderful tidings!
The infamous Lady Iceheart, here in Ishgard? This is most unexpected...
She has done much to quell the violence. The Inquisition may not approve, but we are glad of her presence.
And with the great wyrm's demise, even our nation's more reactionary elements will have scant grounds to press for her immediate impeachment.
My thoughts exactly.
What of the truth revealed to us by Hraesvelgr? That the origins of the Dragonsong War─a core tenet of Ishgardian faith─are quite unlike those depicted in the scriptures.
...That men and dragons once lived together in harmony, and that it was man's treachery which shattered the peace and plunged our peoples into war.
The same scripture also describes the origins of the High Houses. Were it exposed as false, the legitimacy of our rule would be called into question. If both highborn and lowborn can trace their ancestry to Thordan and his knights twelve...
But a single sip of dragon's blood is required to confirm their lineage.
If the Holy See knew of this and chose to remain silent, their crimes are grievous indeed. Regardless, this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.
Ser Aymeric! You cannot mean to raise this matter with the archbishop!?
Pray consider what you are proposing! If the Holy See chose to conceal the truth for centuries, what reason would they have to reveal it now!?
At best, you will be branded a heretic and clapped in irons!
Then, at least, the archbishop will have shown his true colors. My friends, this war will never truly be at an end until the truth is made known. You must see what lies on the horizon if it is not. When ruled by fear of a common enemy, we were united. But now we have none. During the war, the highborn needed men to lead, and the lowborn, men to follow. Not anymore. 'Tis but a matter of time before the old order is called into question. Lady Iceheart will share the truth with her followers, and the Holy See will be powerless to stop its spread. The disenfranchised will rise up, united, and blood will flow in the streets once more... A divided Ishgard will not survive.
Tread carefully, Lord Commander...
My lady, is it wise to let him go? I sympathize with the lord commander's desire for reform, but to approach the archbishop in this manner bespeaks an idealism to which I did not think Ser Aymeric prone.
Though he comports himself as a realist, he has long dreamt of reform. 'Twas that idealism which first drew me to him─that which made me swear an oath to serve. We must not think of ways to hinder his cause, but rather ways to aid it─even should the Holy See cry heresy.
You cannot mean...
If the lord commander does not return from the Vault at the appointed hour, I mean to go and fetch him.
Have care, my lady─your words border on treason! Should they reach the wrong ears, you would be declared an enemy of Ishgard!
That is a risk I am willing to take. Lest you forget, my lord─I am not born of this land. My loyalty is to the lord commander alone. But I speak only of what may come to pass. If the rumors regarding his heritage are to be believed, we have naught to fear.
Hmph. Lies and slander.
Forgive me─what rumors are these?
That Ser Aymeric is the archbishop's bastard son. Senior clergy are not permitted to marry and sire children. But even the holiest among us are not immune to temptation.
I labor to believe it... Ser Aymeric is truly the archbishop's son?
He has never been publicly acknowledged as such, but the rumors have plagued him since childhood. That he rose to his current position, despite being despised as a bastard, and accused of profiting from his father's influence, bespeaks the quality of his character. It is my hope that on this occasion, the burden of his birth will work in his favor. Should our worst fears be realized, the archbishop will not be so quick to execute his own flesh and blood, affording us time to mount a rescue.
Bastard or trueborn, he is our nation's best hope. If the Holy See dares to threaten him, I shall lead the charge against the Vault myself.
Hear, hear! The future of Ishgard rests on Ser Aymeric's shoulders! I too will do mine utmost to aid his cause!
Haurchefant, be reasonable...
A knight lives to serve, Father─to aid those in need! The people need Ser Aymeric─more than ever─and we may be his only hope! There is no greater calling for a knight than to save the life of his fellow man. I swear to you, on the sigil of our house, that I shall do this and make you proud.
Even you? <sigh> Romantic, reckless fools, the lot of you. So be it─make your preparations.
I thank you all for your support.
Though your assistance is most welcome, I fear it will not be enough. Few as we are, we will struggle to reach the lord commander. If we are to succeed, we must needs recruit others to our cause.
Far be it from me to criticize a man for his blind idealism─but he might at least have pretended to consider another course.
Hmph. Of all the people... He should know better.
Have no fear, Father! My arm will not falter; my shield will not break. I promise you: we shall prevail!
If we must risk the fortunes of our house to bring this truth to light, then so be it. But are you truly prepared to do this? To face the Heavens' Ward in battle, if you must?