Unquiet Trader: Ah, you have the look of a lad who's seen his fair share of trouble─mayhap you'd be willing to help me with mine. I need a capable sort to head into the Sea of Clouds and track down my missing airship.
Unquiet Trader: I had to mortgage my soul to get that vessel built, so winning the contract to ferry supplies out to Cloudtop was a real weight off my mind. But it seems my luck ended there─my ship was due back in Ishgard bells ago and I've been praying for a glimpse of her sails ever since!
Unquiet Trader: I can't help fearing the worst... What if she's run afoul of sky pirates!? My creditors will have their ponze of flesh!
Unquiet Trader: ...You think me foolish to fear piracy so far above the waves? Well, let me tell you that no honest merchant is safe now that airship production has─if you will excuse the pun─taken off. Any scoundrel with a sack of coin and a vague sense of direction can terrorize the skies!
Unquiet Trader: Oh, yes, this new breed of buccaneers like to paint themselves as dashing explorers braving the unknown, but the truth of their nature is right there in the name: sky pirates! Given half a chance, they'll strip your ship of every last scrap of cargo and cry “Yahaharrr!” as they launch you screaming over the rails! I've heard the stories!
Unquiet Trader: Please, you must make haste to Camp Cloudtop─that's where the shipment was bound─and inquire as to the fate of my poor ship. Oh, and my poor helmsman! Ask Rontremont! He'll know─if any man does!
Rontremont: A supply airship has gone missing, you say? Well, that would certainly explain why our provisions are so late in arriving...
Rontremont: I did, in fact, spy a vessel charting an erratic course northwards a short while ago...but as it seemed disinclined to make port here, I paid it little mind.
Rontremont: Not the most compelling piece of evidence, I grant you, but I have witnessed naught else of interest. I suggest you investigate the landmass to the north. Rest assured, I will send word if I spy any other sign of our errant supply ship.
--If talking to Rontremont again--
Rontremont: The vessel I spotted earlier may very well have been the supply ship you seek. It was northward bound the last I saw─mayhap you could continue your search in that direction?
--Talking to Sky Pirate first-- Sky Pirate: Hah, we'll make some good coin from this haul! And then we'll see if this fool is worth the ransom...
Cargo Ship Helmsman: Aid! Aid, I say! These villains mean to plunder my cargo!
Sky Pirate: What've we got here, then? Think you're some sort of hero, do you?
Sky Pirate: Well then, you won't mind if me mates here join the fun. Make for a more heroical tale, won't it? ...The tale of how three sky pirates fed a meddlin' little shite his own bloody eyes!
A Manacutter buzzes over their head.
Sky Pirate: What the─Oh gods, I know that ship! It's─
The Manacutter lands and the man disembarks.
???: So you're the scrags what've been draggin' our good name through the mud...
Sky Pirate: You...you're Redbill Leofard! We ain't done naught to you or yours. What do you want with us!?
Leofard: I think I made me position pretty clear: you take on the mantle of sky pirate, you agree to a certain code of conduct. And codes ain't worth much if folk go around breakin' 'em. Frankly, lads, you're makin' us look bad, and we can't have that. No hard feelin's though, eh?
Leofard shoots all three sky pirates dead.
Cargo Ship Helmsman: Oh, thank you, Mister Leofard! Thank you! I'm certain my master will wish to repay you...
Leofard: If your employer does business in Ishgard, he likely knows a merchant or two what trades with me associates. Tell him to say it's for “Leofard” and any reward should reach me soon enough.
Leofard: As for you, adventurer─'tain't often someone beats me to the scene... But then I'd expect naught less from a hero such as yourself...Player.
Leofard: That is who you are, ain't it? I don't know too many other folk with one of them marvelous manacutters the Ironworks dreamed up.
Leofard: Well, then, it seems you've saved me the trouble of trackin' you down. I'd been hopin' to have a word with you, you see...
Leofard: I'll put it to you straight: I need someone to help out with a little venture I have in mind. Someone used to takin' a few risks.
Leofard: Now, this wouldn't be no black-hearted brigand's work, so don't go worryin' yourself on that account. Unlike them thievin' curs just now, I don't hold with robbin' honest folk.
Leofard: For me, you see, the sky pirate's life is all about freedom─the freedom to go where you will; to find out what lies beyond the next cloud! If you're interested in joinin' us on an adventure worthy of the name, then look for me standard in the northern reaches of the Blue Window. Someone'll be waitin' there to greet you.
Stacia: That's far enough, stranger. If you value your life, tell me true: did you stumble across this marker by chance, or are you here by invitation?
--Say you came upon it by chance--
Stacia: Then you'd best forget we ever had this conversation. On your way.
--Say you have an invitation--
Stacia: Then that would make you the hero the captain said to watch out for. Well met.
Stacia: The name's Stacia. Leofard would call me his right-hand woman, but I feel more like his bloody nursemaid, gods' truth be told...
Stacia: Ahem. Anyway, my thanks to you for comin' to hear him out. If you'd follow me, I'll take you to the Redbills' nest.
You're taken to the Redbills' hideout, and approach Leofard's office.
???: ...I come to you in person, and still you refuse my offer? Arrogant fool.
Leofard: On the subject of arrogance, Radlia, I bow to your superior knowledge. But that's all the bowin' you'll get from me. As I've told you a dozen times before, I ain't no one's lackey.
Radlia: But my dear Leofard, how else do you propose to survive an expedition into the ghost ship? I would fear for my life with naught but your feeble crewmates at my back...
Leofard: While I'd fear for me life with your mangy crew at my back, on account of 'em bein' murderous untrustworthy bastards to a man.
Radlia: Hmph. I thought you cleverer than this, Redbill. But no matter─I always get what I want in the end. 'Tis merely a question of method.
Radlia storms out and sees you.
Radlia: Now there's a face I've not seen before. Hmmm. You don't have the look of one of Leofard's little birds.
Stacia: He's a guest. You understand the concept, don't you? You know, when someone is invited, instead of just burstin' through the door whenever she damn well pleases?
Radlia leaves in a huff.
Stacia: That was Radlia, captain of the Talons. She knows Leofard's the best sky pirate alive, and the fact he won't join her sticks in her craw.
Camera changes to Radlia and her lackey.
Talons Deckhand: Are you gonna let them talk to you like that, Captain? We should teach them Redbills some respect!
Radlia: Patience. When all of this is over, we shall see who rules the skies.
You join Leofard in his office.
Leofard: Ho there, hero. I promised you high adventure, and high adventure you shall have...for we plan to board the Sea of Clouds' very own ghost ship!
Stacia: ...Or what folk have taken to callin' one, anyway. Every day for the past few weeks has brought with it a new sightin' of the selfsame vessel─a massive airship of queer design, adrift on the wind.
Stacia: Bein' a curious lot, there were a few buccaneers who tried explorin' belowdecks...but not one of 'em's been seen since. And so, naturally, they're sayin' the ship is cursed. Well, “haunted.”
Leofard: Like I said: an honest-to-gods ghost ship!
Leofard: My guess is she's another relic left behind by the Allagans, but we won't know for sure 'til we've had ourselves a good poke around inside. ...And liberated whatever ancient treasures she's got molderin' away in her hold, of course.
Stacia: But before we start dividin' up the spoils, we've got to find the damn thing─which is why we've been workin' on a special new device...
Leofard: Bah, findin' her'll be the easy part. What we can't do without is a veteran explorer what ain't afraid to fling himself face-first into the jaws of danger.
Leofard: Now, I know you're a gallant champion of the people, and all. But strip away the fame and the glory, and I'll wager you're still an adventurer at heart. So what say you, Player? Fancy a plunge into the unknown at the side of the Redbills?
Stacia: Then it's settled. Let's pay a visit to our crewmate, Utata─she's been workin' on a way to track the vessel.
Cutscene leaves you on The Gauntlet right by Utata.
Utata: Greetings! The name's Utata! I suppose you'd call me the Redbills' chief of engineering. Smithing, carpentry, magitek─if it's part of an airship, I can fix it!
Utata: ...Just don't expect to see me waving a cutlass and swinging over the rails. If there's fighting to be done, well, that's what we have you for!