Stained in Scarlet
|«On Lambard's Trail|
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I don't understand it. I can cast white magicks in the proper manner, but the effects are so weak...
Lambard will be preparing to move on the Garlond Ironworks.
According to the plans we viewed, they know that Jessie is scheduled to accompany a delivery to the Ala Mhigan Resistance. The ambush itself will be sprung on the outskirts of Revenant's Toll, as she makes her way to a waiting airship.
It should be a simple matter for us to lie in wait in Mor Dhona, and take the ambushers─and Lambard─by surprise! Our success will, of course, hinge upon Jessie's cooperation, and I've arranged to meet her to hammer out the finer details.
Pray travel ahead to Revenant's Toll, and we will find you on the terrace above Rowena's House of Splendors.
I'm sorry, were you looking for me? I just felt more comfortable waiting in the corner...
Oh! X'rhun and Jessie are here!
Right, I've heard all about this big plan to murder me. I'm surprised no one's tried it before, considering how the company starts to fall apart the very instant I leave the room!
Anyroad, I understand that you and Mister Surname here are in charge of keeping me alive while I make my merry way to the airship. Is that correct?
Lambard's been instructed to bring his entire cabal to bear on this operation. As long as they've no hint that we're onto their plan, then we stand a chance of wiping out the lot of them. I only wish we could manage it without exposing you to danger...
Maybe we could...if I pretended to be Jessie.
Dress you up as the deputy president? That...that's actually a rather clever idea.
Let's get the girl a costume, then. I'm not afraid to act as bait, but when push comes to shove I'll only be in your way. Hmmm, we'll need to do something about that hair...
There we go! From a distance, no one will be able to tell the difference. It's just...up close you're a bit short. Can we stretch you out by a fulm or so?
Stretch me out!?
I'm only pulling your leg, lass─I appreciate what you're doing for me. If you're ever in need of a favor, I'll be happy to pay you back in kind!
The Ironworks airship will soon arrive at the cliffside outside town. Arya will make for the vessel whilst pretending to be Jessie, and you, Forename, will act as her bodyguard.
We still have a little time until the airship is scheduled to depart─make whatever preparations you need, then meet me by the aetheryte.
Jessie said that I would be more convincing if I appeared on the verge of “biting someone's nose off.” I'm not sure I even know what that means...
The time has come. The Ironworks airship makes ready to depart, and our battle with the traitorous Lambard fast approaches.
There is, however, one thing I have never been able to reconcile: why did Lambard sell his soul to the Empire?
He was the Duelist's most brilliant scholar, and not the kind of man who would betray his homeland for vulgar coin. I was baffled when I heard the Empire had bought his loyalty...
But no matter his reasons, the crime he committed was unforgivable! And we shall bring him to justice.
Let us see the deed done, my friends. To the southeast gate!
I've been practicing my spells, but I wonder if I'm ready for this... Oh, but I'd best not cast anything while I'm pretending to be Jessie!
This is it! Arya, take the path towards north Silvertear and keep up the pretense as best you can.
The airship is waiting near the Keeper of the Lake, but we can be sure the assassins will make their move before you arrive. Forename, it will be up to you to protect “Jessie” on the road.
Rather than let them flank us, I will intercept the large group meant to fall upon you from the south.
You continue to surprise me with the potency of your offensive magicks, Arya. With the progress you've shown, I have little doubt you could hold your own against one or two of those mindless assassins.
But I must ask that you do not engage in combat unless absolutely necessary─the goal is to lure Lambard himself into the fray, and our charade must be convincing. Forename should be more than a match for his puppet underlings.
I have no doubt of that! Right, then...off I go!
That was some battle! Are you ready to continue on?
I'll go ahead, as before.
You make it look so easy...
...Hello? Yes, Forename has defeated every ambush so far.
Very good. I've just finished mopping up the flanking group, and will take up position near the airship.
We continue with the charade for now. Make to board the airship as planned─Forename and I will conceal ourselves nearby until Lambard makes his move.
He should have few of his puppets left, and will be forced to take action directly. That's when we strike─together!
Did you hear all that, Forename? Let's keep moving, then.
I don't see X'rhun, but he said he would be hiding nearby. You better hide, too, or Lambard will see through our ruse...
...What have we here? An impostor? 'Twould seem I have fallen victim to a child's ploy.
Your cabal is in ruins, Lambard. And this time you'll face the consequences of your crimes!
But first I must know. Why did you turn coat for the Empire!? After all we had achieved together...
Ah, still the same simple X'rhun. The same tiresome idealism.
How many lives did we save, you and I? And what did that truly accomplish? The ancient art of red magic is capable of so much more.
A red mage restricts the source of his mana, but accelerates the effect of his spells via the medium of his own physical form. And what would befall such a mage who then attempted the same techniques whilst channeling the vast aetherial energies of nature?
A fool's endeavor. The wielder would be consumed!
Just so. And there we see the true potential of the art. Imagine the incredible powers we could unleash...were we not caged within these prisons of flesh.
It was in the wisdom of the ancients that I discovered the means to transcend our limits; a method to transform one's vessel and command ever grander magicks.
The price to be paid, however, was a costly one. Restructuring my body required years upon years spent in arcane slumber.
...And was it worth it? To surrender that which makes you mortal?
I freed myself from my chains! I now command energies greater than any found in the black, or the white, or the red!
The Crimson Duelists were merely my first step towards greatness...noble sacrifices for a greater cause.
You damnable fiend!
My art is unfettered by weak-minded taboos. You cannot best me with your feeble red magicks!
Never once did I lose a duel to you. This day will be no different!
You always were the better fighter... I've barely succeeded in giving you a scratch!
...But a single scratch is all I need.
You see, as a consequence of my transformation, my strength lies not in harming your body but in draining your spirit. Once I have wounded you, your life force belongs to me.
Well, well...you yet draw breath.
But not for long...I shall send you to Thal's realm with the answer to your question; my reason for joining the Empire.
My new form allows me to wield spells of a magnitude denied to ordinary mortals. But I must feed. If I fail to consume sufficient life energies, then I am afflicted with a terrible hunger.
My work as an assassin provides me with fresh prey, and an ideal environment within which to pursue my research. I am eternally grateful to Zenos for his rare and generous understanding.
You speak of achievements, but the constraints of red magic offered naught but frustration. And now after two decades of futile resistance is your struggle finally over!
...My friends...you must flee!
This is far from over!
Students of red magic, are you? Come, then. Show me how you resist the advent of your own destruction!
My comrades... You are champions of the red......
X'rhun! You mustn't try to move!
I'm not dead yet, lass...though it was nice that you thought to avenge me.
What a miserable pair we make. The last of the Crimson Duelists, staining the ground scarlet with our blood... And I cannot even claim this final vengeance as mine─that honor goes to my students.
Ah, but there lies the difference between you and me, Lambard. Your puppets follow your commands without question, but they'll not carry on your legacy after you're gone.
Is that what twenty years of struggle has taught you? I admit, the sense of justice with which you infect others has delivered you victory. On this day, at least...
But the fates are known for their spiteful twists of fortune. Take this Arya of yours...
...I'm fine. It was a trying battle, is all.
Hm hm hm... Will this be the injustice which breaks you? A pity I will miss...your suffering...
Lambard knew something, and it seemed to amuse him. Are you truly all right?
I feel much recovered, honestly. We should return to Revenant's Toll!
That was a close thing, but we won in the end! I really must work on my healing magicks...
It's still an effort to remain upright, but I believe I'll live. Seeing how you countered the technique which felled me was a proud moment indeed! You and Arya make a fine team!
I expect the deputy president will be along shortly...
You have my thanks. Had you not uncovered this plot, I would almost certainly be dead by now. It's quite a sobering thought!
'Tis Forename and Arya who most deserve your gratitude─I was busy bleeding to death whilst the two of them vanquished the assassins' master.
Is that so? Well, then, feel free to send the bill for any expenses incurred on this operation to Cid himself.
With Lambard's death, so too will his cabal of assassins cease to plague us.
For much of my life, I have lived with failure: the loss of my homeland; my inability to help prevent the Calamity. But I chose to fight on in the face of these defeats.
It has taken two decades to right the wrongs of my past. Yet finally have I managed a tangible victory for my home, and for Eorzea.
You have made this possible.Thank you, my students. My comrades.
I will teach you the lie your art is built upon; the inevitability of your fate.
We will see whose art is the lie! With red magic we carve our own destiny!
Yes, burn bright, little magelings. Your essence will be all the sweeter...
X'rhun has taught you well. But his tutelage will not have prepared you for this!
Ugh! I can't withstand that alone! Stay close to me, Forename!
I have delayed my feast long enough. Your souls are mine to devour!
Remember what he did to X'rhun! We cannot be wounded in any way!
Quickly! Heal your injuries! Do not let him steal your aether!
I drank deeply enough to kill most mortals. And yet still you stand...
Clever...You've sealed your wounds with magic.
What well of power hides within you? ...How long until I drain it dry!
Forename! Be sure to heal yourself!
Your resolve is commendable. But I have mastered the magicks of the ancients!
There is no escape!Your souls shall shrivel in voidfire!
We'll be burned alive... But what if we broke the spheres?
What... No! The voidfire was vulnerable!?
Impossible! No mortal can rival my power!
No! I sacrificed everything...