Shadowbringers

«A Greater Purpose

A Harmony from the Heavens»
A Home for a Tome»
A Monk's Legacy»
A Scandal in Komra»
Akadaemia Anyder»
By the Time You Hear This»
Fantastic Mr. Faux»
For Every Child a Star»
Gone but Not Forgiven»
Gunblades of the Patriots»
Hail to the Queen»
In the Middle of Nowhere»
Love, Astrologically»
Machinists for the Morrow»
Minstrel from Another Mother»
Oboro's Big Idea»
Once, Twice, Three Times a Warrior»
Our Closure»
Rising to the Occasion»
Shadow Walk with Me»
Shaken Resolve»
Succession of Steel»
The Aspiring Skywatcher»
The Legend of Musosai»
To Be Second Best»
True Beauty»
Whence the Healing Springs»
Worth Fighting For»
Yet Another Striking Opportunity»

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Do you remember that talk we had atop the tower in Mord Souq?

I'm still of the same mind now as I was then. I don't abandon you, you don't abandon me, and together we make a difference in this fight.


There's always hope if we look for it─I saw it again and again as you tore those veils of Light from the sky.


If we keep taking that next step forward, there's a chance we'll find a way to save you. So no matter how long it takes or how much it hurts, you can count on me to keep on walking.
Vauthry spoke of the disaster we would bring upon our own heads. The ceaseless conflict...

Imagine how he would sneer to see what's become of the First, not to mention your perilous predicament.


And yet who can deny the fire your deeds have ignited in people's hearts?


You achieved what my logic and ideals never could: uniting disparate peoples under the banner of hope and common purpose. Without you, that giant Talos would never have raised its head.


I have borne witness to many such miracles at your side, and would do so again. This is but another obstacle in the road.


So come, let us travel it. Drag me though wonder and danger, as you are wont to do, and I shall endeavor not to slow you down.
As well thou knowest, if we are to usher Emet-Selch unto his rest, we must needs bind his Ascian soul...and then shatter it with overwhelming force.

The former task requireth auracite, and such have I prepared─upon the Exarch's asking, no less, though 'twas ever mine intent to provide said boon.


The future whence our noble friend doth hail is a world fallen to Ascian artifice, and he would not see such grim history repeated.


In a sense, Emet-Selch's destruction will be the culmination of the Exarch's efforts─a reward for all he hath endured these many years.


Yet even as thou stridest into the jaws of peril, forget not but that his fondest wish─and that of many others, besides─is to see thee survive unto the morrow.


'Tis in pursuit of that happiest of outcomes that I do pledge to remain at thy side.
Our time in the First has been a never-ending succession of trials, as arduous as our path in the Source ever was.

Yet through all our journeys together─through that deep and foreboding wood─you have helped me to stay true to my convictions.


Thus would I return the favor. Do as your heart decrees, without hesitation or regret. And that is all I will say on the matter.
Well, this has put everyone in a solemn mood, hasn't it? Honestly, we're not even sure this will be the end of it.

But I suppose we should speak our minds when we have the opportunity. You taught me that much in Amh Araeng.


So forgive me this moment of sentiment, Forename. By dragging me into this sorry mess, you've given me the chance to think and act as I should have. For Ryne's sake.


Words cannot express how much this has changed my life, or how grateful I am for your support...


...So I shall express my gratitude through action instead. No matter where you decide to go, I will be there, guarding your back.
When Minfilia entrusted me with her power, she warned me that no matter how strong you become, you can still fall victim to despair; you can still feel powerless.

And she was right. After you collapsed on Mt. Gulg, my hands wouldn't stop shaking...


If I made a mistake, if I failed to bind the Light within you... I was terrified you would die.


Even now, you could be moments from turning, and I wouldn't know how to save you!


You, Thancred, the others, you've all been there when I needed help. Minfilia surrendered her life to me─her legacy.


I should be ready to do the same for you! And I want to, I do! But I just...


...I'm not good enough.


She told me to follow your example, and I've tried, I've really tried... <sob>
What will you say?
Then you shouldn't hang your head. I'm not asking to be saved.
I shouldn't...?
But the Light, it─ You'll─ How can you go on?
What will you say?
Fate can be cruel, but a smile better suits a hero. We must all keep looking forward, like the heroes who never gave up hope for this world. ...
...

I'm not sure I-


...Actually, never mind. I think I'll understand better if I try it for myself.
...

I'm not sure who you-


...Actually, never mind. I think the answer might be different for all of us.
...I see. If I'm to become what I wish to become, then there are some answers I need to work out for myself.
No, nothing will come of brooding here in self-pity. I've made my decision, Forename─I'm going with you!
Welcome to the Capitol. All visitors must present an official writ of permission before admittance will be granted.
Your documents appear to be in order. You may proceed into the Capitol─but any guests you may choose to bring with you must remain in your vicinity at all times.

Voiced cutscene begins.

This really is unacceptable. I gave you very specific instructions.
Emet-Selch!
My invitation was for an abomination, ripe with the power to bring about the world's annihilation.

Not this half-broken...thing. Whatever am I to do with you?


And I see you insist on keeping the same familiar company. Are you so lost without them?
It is not he who is lost without the familiar.
Not content with remaking an entire city, you aim to fill it with the reconstituted souls of the dead.
I may have gotten a little carried away, in my attention to detail. Added a few unnecessary flourishes...

Weeell, there's no point trying to hide it. Yes.


Once the rejoining of worlds is complete, Zodiark will regain His full strength and shatter His prison.


Then we shall offer up the Source's remaining inhabitants in sacrifice, that we might resurrect our brethren who died to bring Zodiark into existence.


But what was it that you came here to do, exactly?
What will you say?
We came here to stop you. We came here for the Exarch.
Did you now? One last do-or-die attempt to foil my plans before your mind dissolves into madness?

How very, very...heroic of you.


In every single age, there is always someone who wants to stand up to the evil Ascians.


Always the same arrogance, the same insistence that the world belongs to them. As if theirs were the only rightful claim, theirs the only existence worthy of preservation!

Well, you can't have him. The wisdom that man guards may open up new worlds of possibilities.

He has unlocked the secrets of travel across the rift─and through time as well, it would seem. Quite an accomplishment for one of his “incomplete” nature.


I must explore the limits of his capabilities, and harness that power for the Ardor.
Even now, after everything, you refuse to see reason.

You think it unfair that you are subject to suffering? That your lives will be sacrificed for the ancients?


Look at me! I have lived a thousand thousand of your lives!


I have broken bread with you, fought with you, grown ill, grown old! Sired children and yes, welcomed death's sweet embrace.


For eons have I measured your worth and found you wanting! Too weak and feeble-minded to serve as stewards of any star!


Have your recent spats with Vauthry and his sin eaters taught you nothing?


Have you not learned that your ignorance and frailty beget only endless misery?


How long do you mean to perpetuate this farce? How much more must I endure your bumbling interference?


Let us imagine that the laws of reality are again undone, and the world faces true annihilation. Do you honestly believe that half your number would sacrifice themselves to save the other?


Of course they wouldn't!


And if you had witnessed history unfold as I have, you would reach the same conclusion!


You cannot be entrusted with our legacy.


I will bring back our brethren. Our friends. Our loved ones. The world belongs to us and us alone.
Emet-Selch!

We understand. Truly. But it makes no difference.


The ones you love are in the past.


While ours are here in the present.


One day, we too will be ashes and dust, but not today. Our time is not yet finished.


We share your conviction...and that is why we will not abandon our course.
You think us the same? You think your tattered soul of equal worth to those I lost?

Then come─earn your place. Prove yourselves worthy to inherit this star.


Behold, the coming oblivion. 'Twas the end of our era, and the beginning of our great work.


A fitting backdrop...for your final judgment.


I shall wait within, but do not spend too much time on your preparations. There's no telling how much longer the guest of honor will last.
Just say the word, Forename. However harrowing the scenes that await us, they will not sway us from our course.
I won't ask you to hold back-that time is long past. I'll just try to snuff out the worst of the embers before they reach you.
Ready when you are, Forename. If it's proof he wants, we'll give him a fight the likes of which he's never seen.
I can feel it, beyond the flames...a Darkness waiting to swallow our Light.
Wherever you are, Minfilia, watch over us and guide our steps...
In those Final Days, 'tis said that monstrous beasts were set loose in the city-terrors made flesh by sorceries run rampant.
If Emet-Selch hath been faithful in his reconstruction, then we must be prepared to face many such abominations.
I reasoned that Emet-Selch would not harm the Exarch until he had learned the tower's secrets, but his parting words suggest otherwise.
Let us make haste. Your friend may not have the luxury of decades to wait for you this time.


It would seem that the city celebrated long into the night...not that I would know. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I woke to find myself in the infirmary, having apparently collapsed from exhaustion.

My aching pride was somewhat soothed by the sight of Alisaie asleep in the bed next to mine. She must have been just as weary. Long has it been since I've seen her face so peaceful in repose...


Ah, 'twas a rare, tranquil morning, made unforgettable by the sight of those clear blue skies.
<sigh> It would seem I don't know my own limits. I had thought to push on till dawn, but my body had other plans...

Still, I did enjoy the carousing while it lasted. Even I need to forget my cares every now and then.


What I don't need is to wake up to Alphinaud smirking at my bedside! He said my face was “a rare sight” while I slept. Gods, I hope I wasn't drooling...
People came from malms around to join the festivities, but most seem to have stumbled home by now.

Even so, I daresay Norvrandt will echo to the sound of clinking mugs for some while yet.


I thought to indulge in a little revelry myself last night...until Urianger began to list all the names of my drunken conquests. I ended up drinking water. Water.
Oh, Forename, are you well? No ill aftereffects? To my eyes, you seem completely healed. It really is a miracle...

Speaking of happy surprises, I was amazed to see the crowd that greeted our return! I hadn't realized just how many people we'd met along the way...


And did you see their smiles!? Right then and there, I vowed to do whatever I could to keep that joy from fading!
The ending to this tale hath been a joyous one indeed. Myriad were the lessons learned, yet there is one of particular import...

'Tis imperative that I master magicks to grant my feet purchase upon the water...or else allow me to part the sea at will.


I must needs visit Bismarck in due course, and scrub his teeth in thanks. Mayhap the airy arts of a faerie whale might be imparted to mortal men...? We shall see. We shall see...
I knew the Night's Blessed were amongst the revelers, aye... But the Crystarium was so crowded, I thought it safe to speak my true name.

Poor Runar and his ilk were gripped with panic. As you may recall, 'tis customary not to reveal one's true name outside of family and ceremony...


Yet when I hurried to explain that all present were like family, I was greeted with an outpouring of tears. <sigh> An emotional people, the Blessed...


But─ But─ But─!

Forename!? Is it really you!?


B-B-But how? When!? We didn't think you'd be back for ages!
What will you say?
Time moves in mysterious ways. Would you rather I went again?
Right! So it does! The reports you had delivered by that excitable little pixie said as much!
Oh, don't be daft! I just can't believe you're actually back!
We heard the good news from your pixie friend, but nothing compares to seeing you in the flesh!

As for the situation on this side, the imperials are still eyeing our forces from afar.


From what I'm told, the Garlean armies have been slow to react, and seem reluctant to commit to any large-scale engagements. It's an odd sort of stalemate.


Otherwise, we've yet to see any sign of that awful “Black Rose” weapon we were warned about...


Oh! But I suppose we did call in an old friend to help out on that count.


Hee hee! Krile and I had a terrible time tracking him down, though it will be worth it to see the look on your face when you find out who it is!


Anyway, I was just about to make contact with this helper of ours, and then confirm the latest news from the front. Might you fancy having a rest while I do?


Ah, the Warrior of Light, back where he belongs, just as if nothing had happened! ...Though you do seem different somehow. You'll have to tell me all about your adventures when we next have a spare moment!


Until then, welcome back!
Oblivion has claimed him...

Emet-Selch...gone. Lahabrea...gone. I alone remain-the last of the unbroken.


Once more, I am moved to reevaluate the potential of these tattered souls.


Ah, Zenos. Never did I dream you could overpower me so completely, possessed as I was of your body, and all its uncanny strength...


And now that I have shared with you the truth of this world and its reflections, who can predict how events will unfold? ...Not I.


“Emissary”... What a poor jest that title has become. The flow of history has become muddied, its currents wild beyond my capacity to direct them.


You have wrested the advantage, Hydaelyn. The thieving hands of Your disciples tighten their grip on our star.


The origins of the world remain hidden and its inhabitants ignorant of their broken existence, just as You and Your creators desired.


They celebrate the gift of imperfect life-uncaring, unknowing as we weaken and fade.


But do not imagine Yourself rid of us.


Though Your champion has indeed proven the most egregious obstacle to our ascendance─a barbed thorn in my side─he may yet be removed and cast into the abyss.


Oh yes...it can be done. I will keep these “heroes” mired in the First, and victory will be ours at the last.


Warriors of Darkness now, are they? Then their fate is decided.


They shall meet the same end as those who came before─death at the hands of Warriors of Light!


It seems you were right.
Yes, there is something out there...
But it would mean crossing malms and malms of this infernal emptiness. Which is rather unhealthy for living creatures, as I understand it.

Even were we to restrict ourselves to brief forays, I don't like to imagine the effect it would have on our aether...


But...you still want to go. Don't you.
We may have saved the world, but we haven't reclaimed it.
Ah, when you put it that way...

...What choice do we have?


Well, of course I'm going with you-that's what family is for, isn't it?


Come. Let's head back and prepare for this mad journey of yours.
Thank you, Thancred...