The Burden of Knowledge

«In Good Faith

Bearing with It»

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Tell me, what has happened since our encounter with the Eulmorans?
Though I struggle to form the words...I am glad that Emet-Selch was here.
We can but pray Y'shtola never does anything so reckless again.
Urianger once told me that being immersed in the Lifestream can cause irreparable harm to the body. Do you suppose Y'shtola is all right?
In all of history, there are but few who have returned from a misadventure in the aetherial sea possessed of mind and body both.
To have done so twice beggareth belief. 'Tis plain Y'shtola wanteth not for favor among the Twelve.
By all that is dark, Master Matoya is returned! She stands here before me yet still I cannot believe it.
With your friend returned, you will resume your exploration of the ruins, yes? But say the word and we shall assist you.
It was fate who brought you to us, and Fate who returned your companion to you. She yet smiles on Ronka, I am sure of it.
I told you, I tire of these inane arguments. Shouldn't you be getting ready to slay the next Lightwarden or something?
With the Eulmorans gone, and your companion now returned, I think it best you go now before they can regroup.
With magick flowing once more through the Great Pyramid of Ux'ner, the entrance to the Qitana Ravel should now be open.
Before we leave─Urianger, did you discover anything that may suggest the Lightwarden hides elsewhere?
Nay. Though we had but little time before the Eulmorans' most unwelcome arrival, we scoured the nearby environs and spoke once more with the one called Korille.

Having hearkened to her tale, it is my judgment that the sin eater which her late mother did espy was indeed the being we seek, and that it most likely resided in the vicinity of Rak'tika Falls.


In the absence of any subsequent sighting, I have no reason to believe our quarry hath sought out a new sanctuary. And given the considerable difficulty we face in reaching the falls, we may be certain it hath not been disturbed by man.
Then our course is clear.
We must navigate the Qitana Ravel and make for Rak'tika Falls.
Though you see it as but another obstacle to be navigated, the Qitana Ravel is the oldest and most sacred of our temples. The accumulated knowledge of the empire is said to reside within.
Knowledge which is rightly yours as allies of Ronka. You are welcome to explore.
I fully intend to survey every ilm of it─once our mission is complete.
Were the emperor still alive, he would be overjoyed to hear you say so.
But I must warn you─though the way is open, it will still be heavily guarded.
To discourage trespassers and test the worth of our allies, it had to be so.
Be careful in there.
Head east and you will find the path of azure flowers leading to the Ravel. I wish you safe passage through its halls.
Master Matoya. I know I cannot dissuade you from going, so please─promise me you will return safely. The Night's Blessed need you...
You need not worry, Runar. I shall return, and bring with me a long-awaited gift. One the Night's Blessed will treasure now and forevermore.
Now, let us away.
See that you take good care of Master Matoya, and may the shadows keep you.
Travel east along the path of azure flowers. The Qitana Ravel is not far.
The Qitana Ravel is said to be fiercely guarded. Please be careful.
You need not worry about the Eulmorans while you are inside. Should they return, we will be ready.
Lest you doubt, I won't be helping you do battle with the Lightwarden. To accompany you thus is quite taxing enough.
Now, if you've no further questions...?
What will you say?
Are there any other Ascians here on the First? Actually, I...don't.
Not a single one. Happily, I am quite content to mingle with the masses. And even if I did crave the company of my own kind, one might say we're understaffed at present.

There are no strict rules governing how we work, though that has not been without its consequences. In the beginning, we were each responsible for a shard, and free to do as we wished, but Igeyorhm's impetuous temperament showed us the folly in that.


In light of her failings, we took to working in tandem as the situation demanded.


Mitron and Loghrif were supposed to take care of the First, of course.


Alas, they were slain by the champions of this realm shortly before the Flood. Expendable though they were, I found them quite useful.


But that is a tale for another time.
Then run along back to your friends and leave me be!
This had better work. I have no wish to return to the Great Pyramid.
After you, my friend.
I can't imagine what could have survived in there after so many years...
At long last, the time hath come to find out what wonders yet remain at the heart of Ronka.
Our earlier efforts were not in vain, it seems.
Stay on your guard, Forename. We know not what awaits us inside.
What will you do?
Small talk. Form a party and enter the Qitana Ravel. Nothing.
I never did tell you why I chose to take up thaumaturgy, did I?

As you will no doubt have noticed, life here in the First can be exceedingly unforgiving. Brutal, in a word.


I had not long been in Norvrandt when I realized my mastery of conjuring magicks would not suffice to protect the people. 'Twas a struggle at first to embrace the change, but I confess the path of the thaumaturge suits me rather well.
Keep an eye on Y'shtola and Urianger, would you? It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if one of them wandered off to inspect the temple's relics.
Well, let's get this over with, shall we?
To think we'll be the first people in thousands of years to set foot inside this place.
It's humbling. Knowing they've entrusted us with the history of their people. With their legacy...
When Thancred and I spoke with Korille, she described unto us the form of our quarry, just as her mother had once done unto her.
'Tis a feathered beast possessed of three heads, both simian and canine in nature. An abomination amongst abominations. Were Alphinaud to paint the picture sketched by the lady's words, the result would surely turn the blood to ice.
The Lightwarden is dead. The Blessed's prayers have been answered...
Aye, that they have.
Her condition yet troubleth thee?
It does. Though she shows no immediate signs of corruption, the danger remains. She must be told.
A sea of shimmering stars. Diamonds strewn across a raven gown, boundless and beautiful.
'Tis an exquisite sight not unlike that of the Source. Calm and gentle...and forgiving...
I can see it...
For however deep the void, or wide the expanse, there is no shore so distant as to be beyond the reach of light. ...Ominous though that may sound, given our present travails.
Well fought. Let us return home.
The murals. If I am not mistaken, they predate the empire.
How can you tell?
A peculiarity of the paint. Most are made from mineral-based pigments, but whatever was used here is older than anything I have ever seen.
According to Almet, this sanctuary was built to preserve the wisdom of the ancients. What events do these murals commemorate, I wonder?
Must you always linger after defeating your enemies? Navigating these halls on foot is exhausting.
Come to lead us to safety, have you?
Hmph! I was bored. But how is the hero of the hour?
Hmm. Fighting fit, I see. Keep up the good work.
You're plotting something.
Every hour of every day. But never you mind about that. As I have told you a thousand times before: I like to watch. Nothing more.

Well! I would quit this place, and I suggest you do the same. There is yet work to be done.


Ah...there is a sight to bring a tear to the eye.
You recognize these scenes?
That I do. Indeed, there was a time when anyone and everyone would.

Until one calamitous day when the world was divided across ten and three reflections, sundering the land and all who dwelled upon it.


And the worst part? No one could remember it. Not really. Just fragments and fleeting memories of an achingly familiar world...


A vision shared of a paradise lost, preserved only in song and scripture and paint...


Once upon a time. Yet here we find ourselves again. To look, learn, and remember...
Then share with us the stories you know so well. We are listening.
Before the great sundering, there was one world. A world that knew naught but peace and prosperity.

Until it was faced with a crisis. Unprecedented, terrifying. Civilization found itself perched upon a precipice, staring into oblivion.


But through prayer and sacrifice, the will of the star was made manifest.


Zodiark was His name, and by His grace was the calamity averted.
Zodiark!?
A savior mighty and magnificent, deserving of reverence and gratitude...one would have thought. Yet some thought otherwise.

From the fears of these naysayers would rise Hydaelyn─She who was to serve as His shackles. To bind Him and hold Him in check.


And so they fought, and they fought, and they fought. And in the end...Hydaelyn was victorious.


With all Her strength She smote Him─dealing a blow so devastating that it split the very fabric of reality. And thus was Zodiark banished and His being divided.


That concludes today's lesson on long-forgotten history. Though I imagine your Mother would offer a rather contradictory account. As is Her wont.
I'm sorry─I can only assume I misheard, but it sounded an awful lot like you were implying both Zodiark and Hydaelyn are not gods, but─
What? Not gods of the First? Is that what you thought these paintings depicted? Or...? Oh! Ohhh...

They are gods after a fashion, yes, but no different from the kind with which you are so intimately acquainted. Formed of faith and prayer, of conviction and devotion...


The eldest and most powerful...of primals.
You have spun quite a tale.
Yet you have not explained the role of the Ascians in all of this. How is it you are privy to ancient secrets lost to time?
Finally, finally, you ask the right question! And shrewd questions warrant honest answers...

We Ascians know because it is our history. Our story.


It was we who summoned Zodiark─we natives of that sundered paradise.


Now do you see why we yearn for the Great Rejoining?


For our world...for our people...for all creation to be made whole again.


Wouldn't you wish for the same?
The eldest and most powerful of primals... Gods. If that were Hydaelyn's origin, then what would that make─ ...No. No, I will not take the words of an Ascian on trust. It has to be a lie.
Thancred did tell me about primals...but I don't fully understand what all of this means.
'Tis oft said truth is a matter of perspective. Yet upon this matter, there can be but one truth. I only pray it is not his.
That was an enlightening experience. Though not in the way I had hoped.
Do you suppose there is any truth in Emet-Selch's claims?