A Greater Purpose
|«The End of a World|
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Well, that was an experience. I'm not sure I care for being treated like a child, but it did make asking questions less suspicious, I suppose.
We can compare notes once the others return. Hopefully then our next move will become clear...
'Twould seem our conversations were much alike: a looming disaster, creation magicks running rampant, and this Convocation's efforts to bring salvation out of chaos.
I suppose there was talk of little else in the time when these events came to pass.
Ah, Urianger, if I may. What are your thoughts on the ancients' art of creation?
A fascinating discipline, indeed. Aught the mind can conceive may be rendered in reality─all that is required is a clear “concept” upon which to focus one's will.
'Tis not dissimilar to the primal rites taught by the Ascians, wherein ritual ceremony breatheth life into figments of myth and legend.
I see we arrived at the same conclusion, then.
The people who lived in the age before the sundering were blessed with vast reserves of mana...
No matter how draining these creation magicks must be, it seems they paid the cost with naught more than a fraction of the aether which coursed through their own bodies.
If we were to attempt the same, such spells would soon deplete our energies, and then seek to draw the balance from elsewhere─from a hoard of crystals, mayhap, or from the very land itself.
Thus when this art of creation was placed into our hands, it became, in effect, a means for destruction.
An interesting matter which no doubt bears further study. But despite all these revelations, I worry we are no closer to finding Emet-Selch.
Has anyone learned aught which might lead us to his location?
Not directly, mayhap, but from what we've heard, it seems the Convocation of Fourteen is sequestered in the nearby Capitol building.
When we went to see for ourselves, the attendant wouldn't let us through without a writ of permission...
So we tried our luck at the Bureau of the Administrator, where we thought these permissions might be issued. But the clerk there said he couldn't help us since our names didn't appear in the registry...
And that was where we gave up. I wonder, though, Forename... Could you be eligible for one of these writs?
The voice in the lift seemed to know who you were─it might be that your name is registered at the bureaus as well. Worth a look, I'd say.
Meanwhile, I'll head back to the Capitol and search for a less “official” point of entry. Just in case.
Pray allow me to accompany thee on thy reconnaissance. An arcane perspective may prove needful.
Ahem, I... I think I'd like to speak with more of these ancients. Maybe they know something that could help cure Forename's condition.
...Would you mind coming with me?
Of course I don't mind! Just lead the way!
Then Y'shtola and I will busy ourselves with further exploration. There is surely more intelligence to be had.
And so we part ways once more... This time, however, let us reconvene in front of the Capitol.
...A visitor's writ? Yes, I can assist you. Full name, please.
...Forename Surname. Please wait near the counter while I confirm your details.
One moment, please. I need to check your details against the registry.
Forename Surname. Your application is ready for collection.
As your residency was approved by Emet-Selch himself, further forms of identification will not be required.
Here are your application documents. Submit them at the Bureau of the Secretariat and the clerk will issue you with a visitor's writ for the Capitol.
Your visitor's writ will be issued at the Bureau of the Secretariat. Just submit those application documents to the clerk on duty...
...Visiting the Capitol, are we? Please take a seat. Your name will be called once your application has been processed.
I will process your application in turn. Please take a seat so that others might state their business.
You, I think, are from a time beyond ours. Have you followed in the wake of Emet-Selch?
Nay, there is no cause for alarm. I am simply a shade. Here and not here.
I know only that my name is Hythlodaeus, and that this city is a recreation─a phantom moment plucked from the well of history.
These others seem unaware of their pale existence, but I wonder if Emet-Selch's mind was distracted when it came to my reconstitution.
A stray thought would have been enough. “Hythlodaeus will realize the truth,” for example. We were...close friends once, you see...
Yet in spite of my perception, I play the same role as all the rest─a bit part, meant to bring color and noise to this well-crafted stage. Too much scrutiny, and we shall burst like the fragile bubbles we are.
Thus I tell you again: my presence is naught to concern you. I wish only to share your company whilst we wait.
...If you've come this far, then you know of the catastrophe which awaits us on our “morrow.”
The Final Days. What began as isolated incidents soon swelled into a world-spanning threat...
The Convocation of Fourteen─well, it was Thirteen at the time─endeavored to create a will for our star. They would repair the fundamental laws of order and halt the spread of destruction.
But creation on such a scale required an immense source of power...
Of those of us who still lived, nearly half offered up their lives in the name of salvation.
And from their sacrifice, Zodiark was born. Just as we had hoped, He reached forth and halted the march of oblivion.
...Yet oh how the star had suffered. So many species lost. The land was blighted, the waters poisoned, and even the wind had ceased to blow.
Once more did our people give of themselves to Zodiark. Another half of our race sacrificed to cleanse the world; to ensure that trees and grasses and myriad tiny lives would sprout and grow and flourish.
The cycle of life had begun anew, and we reconsidered the means by which we might protect it.
The Convocation decided thus: we would nurture our world until it was bursting with vitality. Then, when the time was right, we would offer some portion of its living energy to Zodiark...
In return, He would restore to us those brethren whose souls had fed His strength, and together we would resume our role as stewards.
There were, however, those who disagreed with this plan. They argued that enough had been sacrificed to Zodiark─that this new world should belong to the lives newly born.
These dissidents surrendered their life energies in the creation of Hydaelyn, an incarnation of their opposing belief. And for the first time in history, our people stood divided... Know you, then, how this conflict ended?
...Hm, I thought you might.
Emet-Selch has ever been a champion for the will of Zodiark.
The original plan may have been set back by millennia, but he will have not abandoned his course. He will pay the price for our return by whatever means is necessary.
And though he may carry himself with a certain glib ease, Emet-Selch is not a man to bear his burdens lightly. In fact, I imagine they have only grown heavier with every passing century...
...'Tis truly a terrible weight he has chosen to carry.
It seems your turn has come. Pray do not let me keep you.
...Ah, there was one last thing. You walk with another at your side, yes?
Nay, I see no definite form...just the faintest suggestion of a second soul. I doubt it visible to anyone but me.
Otherwise, I assume only you can see and hear this ethereal companion?
Hm hm hm... Your connection is hardly a coincidence. In our time, the two of you were one─the color of your souls tells the tale.
A hue that distinctive cannot be mistaken, no matter how thin the soul is spread.
Hah! This is just the kind of fate I might expect for one such as he. Surely Emet-Selch has recognized the hint of “him” in you...?
Fare you well, my new old friend. May you find what it is you seek.
...Your visitor's writ, as requested.
When you wish to gain admittance to the Capitol, simply present the document to the attendant within.
It seems no else is waiting. My duty is done for another day...
Y'shtola and I have just returned from an institution the locals called “Akadaemia Anyder.” Well, from its public offices, at least.
We thought an Ascian place of learning the ideal spot to research your condition, but it seems we lacked the credentials to enter the Akadaemia proper...
...Master Thancred can best describe our chances for infiltrating the Capitol. I only hope thy efforts to secure permissions were successful.
Ah, good, you're here. Everyone seems to be present and accounted for...
Finally! You were gone so long, I was on the verge of mounting a rescue party. How fared you in your bureaucratic ventures?
Ah, I see my instincts were correct!
And a good thing, too. Urianger and I weighed our chances of breaking into the Capitol, and an official entrance is by far the more attractive option.
The Capitol boasteth not a single armed sentry. 'Twould seem that in their time, they did not deem it needful to post guards.
The windows and doors, however, appear heavily warded. Though mightily did we strive, with strength mundane and magical, we failed to budge them even a fraction of one ilm. Mayhap 'twas simply the case that Emet-Selch's recreation did not extend to their usual function.
We didn't try everything, of course, but we thought it best to conserve our time and energy for more pressing matters.
...Speaking of which, Ryne and I tried asking about a cure for you.
The problem is, these ancients didn't exist beyond Amaurot's “today.” They will happily tell their own tales, but whenever we attempted to explain our situation, the conversation quickly became muddled...
What of you, Forename? Was aught worthy of interest said during your efforts to obtain a writ?
A great sacrifice of life in exchange for their brethren's resurrection... And you say all the Ascians' scheming has been leading to this!?
All this time... But if they still mean to enact this plan, then things won't end with the Rejoining...
...Aye, I thought we knew their intentions in full: restore the world to its former glory, and, in turn, empower Zodiark to reclaim His throne as the will of the star.
Yet that was merely a step along the way. I hesitate to put it into words, but we have to assume that following the final Rejoining, the Ascians mean to draw on the lives of the Source to make their sacrifice to Zodiark.
That does seem the most likely scenario. Mayhap those who ally with the Ascians would be spared that fate...
But what value is there in surviving when all our history, all our struggles will be erased? I cannot conscience such an act.
Of course not. And that's to say naught of what Emet-Selch plans for the Exarch's power. Do we stand by and let him threaten our future as well as our past?
We need to find him, Forename. And when we do...
Make your mark. Change the course of history in a way that's felt by those who came before, and those who came after; by everyone you've ever met.
Change things so that even my other self, dying somewhere in that future Calamity will smile and say, “I knew you would win.”
...Is fighting Emet-Selch the only way?
He created an entire city. It will take everything we have to defeat him...if we even can.
And if you push that hard in your current state, the Light will break free...
The decision to press on lies with you. Just as it lies with each and every one of us...