In the Eye of the Beholder
Oh, who am I kidding─it will be fortunate if she does not mistake me for my sister again.
You know how she can be. If Krile does not meet with her approval, then that will be that.
I have heard many stories of Master Matoya─some quite flattering, others less so.
Rest assured, they all are true. This way─and have care where you tread.
<sigh> Is that trouble I smell, or did you forget to wipe your boots on the way in?
Forgive us, Master Matoya. We will be sure to wipe them on the way out. And may I say how glad I am that age has not yet deprived you of your senses.
Ever so quick-witted, aren't we─to the detriment of your manners. Well, out with it then. What do you want?
Pray allow me to introduce myself, Master Matoya. I am Krile, of the Students of Baldesion. I hope you will excuse our unannounced visit.
Baldesion, you say? Ah yes, the old coot set up shop on the Isle of Val, didn't he?
Regrettably, our order's headquarters─and the isle itself─were obliterated by a magick of immense power. I have the blessing of Light to thank for my own preservation.
Krile─you too possess the Echo!?
Well yes, of course I do.
Our order is devoted to uncovering the mysteries of Hydaelyn and interpreting Her will, particularly through the study of Her gift to us.
It was in the course of these studies that I met and subsequently befriended Minfilia. She and I have rather a lot in common.
I had no idea.
You weren't supposed to. Not that I wanted to deceive you, you understand, but precautions had to be taken.
Yes, yes─that's all well and good, but you still haven't told me why you're here.
The Students of Baldesion are gone, and there is naught I can do to change that. But the Scions of the Seventh Dawn can yet be restored and my dear friend found.
You have in your possession an ancient Crystal of Light─one you call your “Crystal Eye.” I believe I can use it to focus my abilities and locate one of the missing Scions.
And there I was thinking you might want to make use of my years of experience... <sigh> Wait here.
Long did I ponder the nature of this crystal and its familiar radiance...but never did I suspect it was a Crystal of Light.
On the cusp of an Umbral Calamity, souls blessed with the power of the Echo invariably appear.
To aid these Her chosen warriors, Hydaelyn bequeaths to each a sliver of Her strength in the form of a Crystal of Light.
But as Her strength wanes, so too does the potency of Her gifts. This crystal, born of an earlier era, is infused with a power far greater than those of this age.
You could travel the length and breadth of the land and not find a crystal even a fraction as pure. Its value is beyond measure─as are the risks inherent in its use.
No two manifestations of the Echo are alike. I, for example, can converse with beings of every shape and size─excepting beasts, contrary to what others would have you believe. Language has nothing to do with it, of course; rather, I am sensitive to the whispers of the soul. Their intent, their very essence even─the traces of which served to guide the elementals to Y'shtola.
Farfetched though it may sound, I believe that with your Crystal Eye, I may be able to pick up where they left off and follow the remaining trail to Thancred. That is, if I have your permission...?
Well, the poor sod's not going to find himself. So, as long as you don't drop it or take it out of my sight, you may do with it what you will.
Thank you, Master Matoya!
Then let us begin. From the Black Shroud, the trail continues to the north and west...towards a mountain...the foot of Sohm Al.
It was a near thing, but he was not deposited within the rock. I think.
The hunters of Tailfeather know those lands well. I say we begin our search there!
No one ever comes around for tea anymore. No, it's always saving this, preventing that, or mending the godsforsaken other. Anyone would think I wasn't good company.
Thancred may be a capable warrior, but he was wounded when last I saw him. If any beasts were nearby when he emerged from the Lifestream, he would have been hard-pressed to repel them.
We had forests like these on the Isle of Val. My grandfather and I used to go for walks together when I could prise him away from his work.
It was the least I could do for him, considering everything he has done for me. Taking me in when I was an orphan, raising me as his own and giving me a name─you didn't think my parents named me Krile Baldesion, did you?
Were I to find myself in an unfamiliar wilderness, my first instinct would be to seek out signs of civilization.
Ordinarily, perhaps, but in his wounded state, he may not have wished to risk contact with strangers of unknown allegiance. Yet even had Thancred chosen to remain in the forest, the hunters would surely have stumbled across his trail.
Tailfeather doesn't strike me as an isolated outpost, though. Merchants and traders pass through reasonably regularly, do they not? In which case, we'll need to provide a more detailed description when we question the locals.
Fear not, Krile─I have already prepared several sketches of Thancred for that very purpose.
This...this is impressive. You drew him from memory?
A skill I acquired some years ago for reasons I no longer remember.
I propose we split into two pairs. Y'shtola and I will inquire at the outlying encampments, while Forename and Krile question the residents of Tailfeather. Afterwards, we shall regroup near Loth ast Vath and share our findings.
Assuming there are no objections, let us be about it.
My, he certainly has matured, hasn't he? Hard to imagine he was once a boy who practiced drawing for hours to impress young ladies...
Anyway, we had best get started. Find me when you've finished making your rounds.
Pray excuse me, but have you seen this man before?
What's that you've got there? A sketch?
Hmm... Can't say I know the face. You say he's somethin' of a warrior?
Hmm...I heard a tale the other day about a Hyuran vagabond who brought down a bandersnatch by himself─an' with style. Way they tell it, he was dancin' with the beast like it was the belle of the bleedin' ball. Sound like your man?
If this friend of yours is as skilled as you say, then he's sure to have found a way to survive.
Still, if he's out there on his own, it's only a matter of time before he runs afoul of somethin' he can't handle.
Searchin' for a friend of yours? Let's have a look then.
Hmm...no, ain't seen him around. Sorry.
Nobody here but us and the chocobos, friend. Maybe someone else knows your man.
A Hyuran man? We're not exactly rare, you know. Could you be more specific?
...I did spy this one bloke a while back. Didn't get a good look at his face, but it could have been him.
This was beyond the forest, as I recall─along the river, to the west of Tailfeather. I remember thinking he wasn't much of a hunter. The lad was making no effort to cover his tracks, see. That, and he was carryin' an axe instead of a bow.
If he was hunting chocobos, he was doing a piss-poor job of it. The birds would've smelled him coming a malm away─I know I did.
I believe we are on the right track. Many of the hunters claim to have seen a strange man who could have been Thancred.
'Tis little wonder so many here have taken up hunting. The forest is teeming with wildlife.
Finished? In that case, I think we've learned everything we can here. Let's see what the others have found out.
We were to meet here, were we not?
My apologies for our late arrival. We thought it wise to question as many hunters as we could.
Many have made camp in inaccessible locations─ideal for hunting game, not so receiving visitors.
Nevertheless, our time proved well spent. There have been countless sightings of an exceptionally capable Hyuran hunter with whom no one is familiar.
Though none chanced to see the man's face, his height and build match Thancred's description, as does his fighting prowess.
...So you have heard the same tales. Be that as it may, we yet want for conclusive proof...
Mayhap this is unrelated, but I heard a curious tale regarding a Vath trader.
He came to Tailfeather in search of garments fit for a “man of refinement”─which seemed a rather curious description for one of his kind.
...You are implying that Thancred sent a Vath to market in his stead? Why would he not go himself?
Well, if you recall, you yourself emerged from the Lifestream as naked as your nameday. It is a scene I shall never forget─
Is it now?
Well, I was pleased to see you! I-I mean─ It was a simple statement of fact!
It stands to reason that Thancred found himself in the same...predicament.
In any case, if he had dealings with the Vath, they should be able to tell us, no?
Quite right, Krile, quite right...