With Heart and Steel
|«Child of Lilith|
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Forename, I've decided we should go to the Thaumaturges' Guild in Ul'dah...for help with tracking down Arya, of course.
I've been doing some research into voidsent and possessions, and as I suspected, the process is not a simple one.
Even so, I doubt we have the time for me to become a fully fledged expert on the subject. We need one right now.
The thaumaturges are one of the few organizations familiar with our quarry. Considering how they are also the modern successors to the arcane knowledge of Mhach, their shelves may even hold ancient lore that could tell us more about Lilith. Let us be away!
A most urgent and terrifying situation indeed...
Ah, Forename, I've just been explaining our woes to Prelate Yayake here.
Well, well, when X'rhun spoke of another colleague, I did not expect to be meeting our very own avatar of devastation!
Well, well, when X'rhun spoke of another colleague, I did not expect to be meeting one of our own thaumaturges!
Welcome to the Thaumaturges' Guild. I shall do what I can to aid you.
Now, then. The tomes with passages pertaining to the voidsent Lilith are all forbidden occult works─abhorrent volumes chained to the shelves in our deepest archives, never again to see the light of day. I'll just pop back there and grab one or two.
If you could wait over there for a moment...
...By Thal, she's even more sinister than I imagined. With no mention of her presence in the past millennium I had thought Lilith destroyed, yet it would seem she is very much alive and exceedingly dangerous!
Her most fearsome aspect is the power to enslave a person's will. If we include all those with even a whisper of her essence within their veins, she has slithered inside the minds of a veritable army!
...The sigil employed by this Lambard of yours is a secondhand manifestation of Lilith's ability. He would but need to coat a tool with his tainted blood, then engrave her name in the flesh of his victims to create the unthinking puppets you described.
And that was but a faint echo of her true power?
Correct. A power she will not hesitate to bring to bear on the mortals she so despises. Archmagus Calowise made doubly sure of that when he lured her into his trap.
As well as a talent for draining the life force of her prey, Lilith is also known for spitting venom. A truly hideous opponent...
But the archmagus came prepared with potent antidotes. Undone by her summoner's treachery and the limitations of her mortal host, Lilith found herself divested of her beloved rod and sealed inside a Mhachi sarcophagus.
And thence spent the next thousand years plotting her escape...
It is as you say. But mere freedom is not her endgame. Above all else, I imagine Lilith desires a form which allows her to manifest the fullness of her terrible power.
She means to reinvest her soul within the perfect vessel, and thus enhance the strength of her incarnation by an order of magnitude.
The perfect vessel... Lilith carefully orchestrated Arya's conception over the span of centuries. If we do not oppose her now, I dread to think what havoc such a cunning and powerful fiend could wreak upon Eorzea.
Look what she has accomplished already. So subtle were her manipulations that not a single one of the Nightkin realized her plan or sought to destroy her...
Well, this has all been very enlightening, but we are still no closer to finding Arya. Have you any ideas?
In order to invest herself within a new host, Lilith will need to recreate the conditions of her original summoning as faithfully as possible─alignment of the stars, weather, location, that sort of thing.
The location I can tell you. Assuming the ground itself hasn't fallen into an abyss, Lilith will have taken your friend to a summoning circle in the ruined city of Mhach.
...So you've been to the Weeping City? No getting there without an airship and a pilot, eh?
...Does not the Weeping City lie in the swamps of Yafaem? No getting there without an airship and a pilot, eh?
Oh, but not to worry! We know the very person who can help us on that count─Deputy President Jessie of the Garlond Ironworks!
I shall contact her immediately.
I've returned those occult works to their secure shelves. We don't want some ambitious apprentice summoning lords of the void or calling down plagues of poisonous frogs now, do we!?
I've been in touch with Jessie. After that “assassination business” as she puts it, she was more than happy to lend us a company ship.
Prelate Yayake, you've been an immense help! How can we repay you?
That won't be necessary─the guild was already richly compensated by a certain merchant. He requested we aid any “mages of the red” who might happen to seek our knowledge.
Are you acquainted with a Master Wilkin? It would seem he's been quite generous in spreading his wealth around Ul'dah to ensure you encounter no refusals or inconveniences.
Well, well. The gratitude of a wealthy merchant is a fine thing to have! Right, 'tis time we were off to Revenant's Toll. Jessie will be waiting.
Don't forget to STOCK SOME ANTIDOTES! I'll be terribly disappointed to hear you died to Lilith's venom after the tale I told you.
Don't go charging off unprepared! I imagine you can purchase antidotes right here in Ul'dah.
Jessie seems determined to pilot the craft herself. We'll find the airship moored over by Silvertear Lake, apparently.
X'rhun's told me the story, and I have an airship ready to fly.
I'll pilot you into the swamp myself. I said I'd return the favor to Arya, and I don't go back on my promises!
Shall we go? I'm moored on the northern bank of the lake.
Forename, the plan is simple: we cut through the ruins as quickly as we can, and unleash merry hells on the voidsent queen.
The outcome of this battle will decide Arya's fate. Bring everything you have...and make sure that includes a vial or two of antidote!
Lilith and the Weeping City await! ...Not to sound like a nagging nanny, but you did bring an antidote, didn't you?
Jessie herself will be taking the helm, so speak with her when you're ready to depart!
Ready, then? Got your gear? Emptied your bladder? We make straight for the ruins of Mhach.
All aboard, folks. I don't know much about this demon witch, but you send her back to the void! I want to see Arya safe and sound.
Lilith only has one chance at this ritual. But once she knows we're there to stop her, she may begin the ceremony anyway─conditions be damned.
If that happens, then we must defeat the fiend ere she forces her soul into Arya's body. We will triumph over Lilith, and free our companion from her curse!
Arya! Lilith is slain! Come back to us now!...Dammit, why won't she wake!?
Ugh... Where am I? Where is everyone?
Ah, I see. This is...my own mind. I'm being forced aside by that fiend...
Yesss... Accept thy fate, child. Mine own form was destroyed, but within thy vessel has my soul taken refuge...
Once thy will hath diminished unto oblivion, mine essence shall transform this shell. I will rise anew, glorious and complete! And then shall I wreak my vengeance upon all the children of man!
Hm hm hm... Seek not to defy me, my darling creation. Surrender to the void... Surrender to me...
Lilith created me...
I have to accept this fate─it was what I was always meant to be.
Forgive me, Forename. There were so many more memories I'd hoped to make.
No...this cannot be all there is! I want more! I want to live!
Do not torture thyself, child! Your will is forfeit. Thy fate is sealed!
...I decide my own fate!
Arya! Welcome back, my friend!
X'rhun? Forename? Look out! Lilith is still here!
...Your soul is safe now. Lilith is gone─you triumphed over her at the last.
A chance I wouldn't have had if you'd not destroyed her in the flesh!
With a stout heart and the power of red magic, there is no foe we cannot overcome.
...As the two of you have so amply proven!
Now, let us put this dreary ruin behind us. But have a care for your surroundings─this old city is home to more than sinister voidsent!
You have my thanks, Forename. I would not be standing here now without you!
I was caught up in the moment when we set off, but I'd sooner not steer a ship anywhere near that place again...
We did it, Forename! 'Twas a hard-won battle, but your heart and steel carried the day!
And we must express our gratitude to Jessie for conveying us to the ruins in the first place!
Nay, I was but returning the favor. Unlike certain presidents I could mention, I don't like to leave the books unbalanced.
Now I'd best be getting this girl back to the company docks, so this is farewell for me.
Take care, Jessie, and thank you! Shall we head back to town, then?
Hm? I'm not flying you to the Toll, you lazy bugger. You'll have to walk!
When were we last in Revenant's Toll? It seems like a lifetime ago...
Ah, there's naught like a successful rescue attempt to put a smile on my face. 'Tis wonderful to have our companion back, safe and sound.
It's wonderful to be back! I cannot wait to begin my training once more!
Arya... About your training. Surely you've felt the change within yourself?
Your proclivity for spellcasting was a property of Lilith's blood. Now that her corruption has faded from your veins, so too has your aptitude for the arcane.
Yes, I feel the difference. My aether is so weak now that I doubt I could cast even the simplest of magicks.
I wondered how you would take the news, but you seem almost...happy?
I am! This way I get to study magic from scratch, and know that all my achievements will truly be mine!
Of course, this means I'll have a lot more work to do before I can catch up to Forename...
But having such a distant goal will be what pushes me to endure the training ahead.
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! I'll be waiting! ! Don't overdo it.
I'll get there one day!
I promise I won't be running into danger! Not until I've mastered a little more magic, at least!
You've the heart of a red mage, that's for certain.
Start yourself off with the basics of thaumaturgy and conjury. A foundation you've built yourself will be far more stable than the instinctual power you possessed before. And when you've grasped the fundamentals, I can start your training in red magic again.
I look forward to that day, X'rhun!
As for you, Forename, you've grown stronger than ever.
You've known for some time now that the magicks of a red mage are fueled by the caster's own aether. The potency of your spells is a reflection of your indomitable spirit.
And I daresay that the soul crystal you bear will reward your dedication to the art by granting you new knowledge.
Thus concludes my stint as mentor for the now. Forename, you have graduated from my lessons, and Arya, you must ready yourself to begin all over again!
You have flung yourself into revolution's smoldering ashes, and reignited the fires of Ala Mhigo's glory. Remember the light you brought with that liberation when next you plunge ahead into darkness.
You have flung yourself into revolution's smoldering ashes, and all throughout Ala Mhigo have new fires begun to flare. With you in the van, I have no doubt that my homeland will soon bask in the light of liberation.
Long have the ashes of revolution smoldered in Ala Mhigo, but smoke has grown heavy on the wind. 'Tis time we of the old guard step aside, and let you of this generation choose the path of our future.
X'rhun... You speak as if you mean to leave us.
Aye, I must return to my pilgrimage. But fear not! Those who defy the tides of destiny are always drawn together...sooner or later.
And so this is not farewell─merely a temporary parting of ways. Eagerly do I await the day our paths cross again, my friends!