Of Defectors and Defenders
I'll say one thing for Ishgardians: they certainly know how to dress. Not only do their clothes keep out the cold─well, most of it─they are surprisingly elegant.
We Hrothgar are quite used to snow and ice, so we sometimes forget the problems it poses for other races. This morning, a homeless Hyur lad was found lying stone cold in the street.
When they came to carry him away, he was frozen solid, like a statue. The poor thing can't have been more than twenty summers old.
We asked the Temple Knights if there was something we could do, and we were told that they had the perfect assignment for us. Our client this time is Reese of Garlond Ironworks.
Their founder, Cid Garlond, is one of the few Garleans to have turned his back on the Empire and is a hero to many living under their rule. I wonder if I might have the honor of meeting him in person? At any rate, we must first head to the Skysteel Manufactory.
So, this is one of Cid Garlond's workshops?
Is it true that Cid is the one who introduced magitek to Eorzea?
Good evening. I take it you're the bodyguards sent by the Temple Knights? There's someone I'd like you to protect. A recently defected Garlean engineer, as it happens.
I'll not bore you with the details, but he is to oversee the installation of a ceruleum heating system. We're hoping it would avert tragedies like the one that recently occurred in the Brume.
Yes, we saw the body being carried away. Terrible sight, it was. If this engineer friend of yours needs safe passage here, we'd be glad to help.
Unfortunately, the Empire does not take kindly to desertion, especially when the man in question is one of its most highly esteemed scientists. We've received word that a group known as the “Alaudae” has been dispatched to see that he never reaches Ishgard.
Gods be good!
I've heard of them. Prisoners offered an “opportunity” to reduce their sentences through loyal service to Garlemald. By all accounts, they fight like men possessed, desperate to earn their freedom.
Worst of all, they are led by Vitus quo Messalla, a man whose cruelty knows no bounds.
As a soldier, he reached the rank of pilus prior but was relegated after butchering a village of innocent civilians, purely to sate his own bloodlust.
Even his fellow Garleans were disgusted by these barbaric acts, yet that did naught to damage his reputation as a skilled warrior equal to Gaius van Baelsar himself.
During my imprisonment, Vitus quo Messalla came to enlist me. I told him I'd sooner rot in gaol than serve under a rabid dog like him.
As you can imagine, he was far from pleased with my refusal, and tried to “persuade” me by using my magitek collar to administer countless electric shocks. I'll never forget the look in his eyes as he pushed that button over and over.
Of course, not everyone is as resilient as Radovan. Many who fight for the Alaudae do so against their will, though they are no less deadly for it.
By the Fury! If I'd known the dangers involved, I would have called the whole thing off.
It's too late now, though. The airship is already on its way to Coerthas! It should soon be arriving at the Observatorium. Sadly, we couldn't gain permission to have an imperial craft dock in the city for matters of security.
From the rendezvous point, we'll proceed the rest of the way on foot. Once we're safely inside the Gates of Judgement, we can consider the mission a success.
Your friend is risking his life for the sake of others. Reese, I give my word that he will reach Ishgard safely.
Listen, Sophie. You know as well as I do that the Alaudae are as ruthless as they are tenacious. For that reason, I want you to stay behind.
You think you can take them on without me there to heal you?
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have you by my side. But against foes like that, Forename and I will struggle to protect you and the engineer.
Protect me!? Look, Radovan, we protect each other, remember? Or perhaps you see me as nothing but a burden!? Fine! Have it your way!
Umm... Not to rush you or anything, but we should get going. I'll meet you at the airship landing on top of the tower.
Before we leave, there's something I'd like to make clear. I didn't mean what I said to Sophie. I think she's an excellent conjurer and more than capable of taking care of herself.
But this is Vitus quo Messalla we're dealing with, a monster who delights in toying with his prey. I can't let her face that kind of danger.
You see, Sophie and I have been inseparable ever since we escaped our Garlean captors. When I discovered what had befallen my family, I came close to taking my own life, and I might have even gone through with it if Sophie hadn't stopped me.
She's lost loved ones too, but has never given up hope. Sophie helped me realize there is still a place in this world for me. In fact, it was her idea that I become a bodyguard.
Although no one will ever replace the family I lost, she helped fill that void in my life and gave me a reason to carry on.
Hah! If she were here now, she would tell me to stop being such a sentimental old fool, or words to that effect. Anyway, the sooner we finish this assignment, the sooner I can get back here and apologize to her.
I get the impression they've been waiting for us. Perhaps I spoke overlong?
Now that you're here, allow me to introduce the man you will be escorting.
Cato nan Mammula, at your service. Or should that be Cato Mammula now that I am in Ishgard?
Is something the matter?
No, it's nothing.
Ahem. Master Mammula is carrying documents liberated from the Empire that could prove vital in Garlond Ironworks' investigation of Omega. This may lead to an increased likelihood of encountering imperial pursuers, however.
Well then, shall we begin?
They've found us!
That's the way! Give them what for!
The Alaudae knew we were coming. Hells' bells, they must've seen that airship from malms away!
I'll stay with the engineer. You go on ahead and draw them out. We'll rendezvous at the camp to the north.
There isn't much cover, but they could be hiding in the snow.
This one's mine!
First the guards, then the target!
This is as far as you go!
I'm sorry... They caught me by surprise.
Some of the Alaudae stayed in their hiding places until you'd passed. One of them got to Reese. He's hurt, but it could've been a lot worse.
We've made it this far, but Vitus is still out there.
If this is just a taste of what the Alaudae have in store for us, our best option is to avoid confrontation altogether. Mammula and I will sneak past them while you and Reese stay behind. The two of us stand a better chance than a group of four.
|No, we should stick together!||Take care of Mammula.|
I know how you feel, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. You see the sense in this, don't you?
We'll meet back in Ishgard.
My colleagues will contact me via linkpearl once Master Mammula has arrived in Ishgard. In the meantime, we should lie low. We don't want to alert the Alaudae to our presence any more than we already have. Oh, and I'd better get these wounds looked at.
Thank goodness you're all right! You'd been gone so long, I came looking for you. I met a few nasty characters on the way here, but I soon sent them packing.
Wait─where's Radovan? And that engineer you're supposed to be escorting?
Cato nan Mammula!?
If the two of them are together, then...
Radovan never talks to anyone about it, but he comes from a place called Bozja Citadel. It was utterly destroyed in a Garlean experiment gone wrong.
In charge of the project were Midas nan Garlond and his right-hand man, Cato nan Mammula.
Radovan's opposition to Bozja being used as a testing ground for potentially dangerous magitek led to his imprisonment, and his fears were proved correct when the city was obliterated.
There's a strong chance that he's planning to exact his revenge.
We have to stop him!
They headed west towards Ishgard, yes? We should be able to follow their tracks. There's no time to lose!
For my homeland. For my family!
Stay back! This fiend robbed me of everything I held dear!
Don't deny me my vengeance!
|But he's unarmed!||You swore to protect him!|
I will not beg your forgiveness. However, I ask that you hear my final words.
Midas and I knew there were risks involved with the experiment, but we did not foresee that it could fail so catastrophically! I have lived with unending, agonizing guilt ever since.
From that day forth, I have sought redemption, a chance to somehow right the wrongs I have committed.
That is why I asked Midas's son, Cid, to aid in my defection from Garlemald, that my knowledge and expertise may be put to good use.
But I always knew that the sins of my past would return to haunt me. I submit myself to your judgment.
|Does the word of a gunbreaker mean nothing!?||Have you forgotten about Guldweitz!?|
What have I become?
My honor as a gunbreaker...as a man. I've thrown it all away.
You are the last of us now.
Y-You want us to kill him now, sir?
No. The old goat can wait.
It's the prowling lion I want. Yes...your head will make a fine trophy.
Is Mammula all right? And where's Radovan!?
Wandered off!? But we've still got a job to do!
And I dread to think what might've happened if you hadn't stopped him.
Come on, Forename. With or without Radovan, we still have a job to do. Let's get Mammula to Ishgard.
I noticed that Radovan acted rather strangely when he first met Master Mammula, but I had no idea he'd try to kill him! Thank goodness for you and Sophie!
I shall not squander this second chance at life. You have my eternal gratitude.
After the trouble you had reaching Camp Dragonhead, I'm pleasantly surprised that the Alaudae kept away from us for the remainder of the journey.
Yes, fortunate indeed. All's well that ends well, as the saying goes.
One thing still troubles me, though. If that Vitus quo Messalla is as ruthless as you say, I doubt the walls of Ishgard will deter him from pursuing his target. As such, Master Mammula will be closely guarded until we can be certain it's safe.
Yes, it would be a shame if I were kept from fulfilling my obligations. I hope that the next time we meet, I shall have glad tidings to share.
We managed to get Mammula here unharmed, but in doing so, we've lost sight of Radovan. He could be anywhere by now.
But we've been through too much for me to turn my back on him now. If he decides to get his act together, he knows where to find me. Until then, we'd better be on the lookout for the Alaudae. I doubt we've seen the last of them.