The Best Way Out
If I were stronger...how many people would still be alive?
If you're ready, why not go on ahead to the Ocular? You can keep the Exarch company while I fetch Alphinaud. Don't worry, I mean to borrow the swiftest amaro I can find, so we shouldn't keep you long.
Be sure to pass on that message, eh?
Welcome, my friend. Tales of your heroism on the battlefield precede you─though I confess I found them more gladdening than surprising. I hear no few of our people have you to thank for plucking them from the jaws of death.
Would that they had not needed saving to begin with. But the responsibility for that lies with me.
...One of our soldiers said that?
Rest assured that I fully intend to continue our work. I will not shrink from what must be done. Now least of all.
Though I mourn the lost, I will not lose myself to grief. And even should regret be my constant companion, I will follow the path I have chosen to its end.
|We have some time before the others arrive, if you'd like to talk?||As will I.|
Beginning of voiced cutscene.
My friends. With your aid we have weathered a brutal assault...
Sorry I'm late. Though I would not have been had anyone thought to notify me in advance.
...As I was saying, it was only with your aid that we weathered this assault. Without it, the Crystarium and all who dwell here would now be gone.
For each we saved, another perished.
If there is anything else we can do to help─anything at all─you need only ask. This is our home too, and we want nothing more than to keep it safe.
Thank you. We are blessed to have you with us.
As for the attack itself─Vauthry may call it divine retribution, but sin eaters are creatures of instinct. A coordinated assault is unprecedented.
Moreover, in the absence of a Lightwarden, there should have been no compulsion for lesser sin eaters to congregate here en masse. All of which points to a single, unavoidable conclusion...
...That these minions of light answer to a higher power.
He who did claim kinship with them─who did boast of control, not in idleness, 'twould seem, but in earnest. Lord Vauthry.
Indeed. What I mistook for bluster was in fact the truth. The sin eaters are his to command. But if he imagines this show of force will convince us to bend the knee, he is sorely mistaken.
I take it your meeting in Eulmore did not end well?
You could say that, yes. But I am wiser for the experience, nevertheless.
It appears he has mastered a technique which allows him to enslave the minds of others. A fact I discovered when he attempted to use it on me.
That would go some way towards explaining the peculiar reverence afforded him by his subjects.
There may feasibly be a handful of true believers among them, I suppose, but it would not surprise me if the vast majority were in his thrall.
Had I not anticipated his treachery, I might well have joined them. But seeing his invitation for what it was, I sent a glamour in my stead. I rather doubt such tricks will avail me a second time, however.
Did you have any luck tracking down the Lightwarden in Kholusia?
Sadly, I have nothing to report on that front. What of Amh Araeng?
After a fruitless few days scouring ruins, I resorted to asking the locals.
While no one I spoke to had seen any sign of the Warden, I did uncover a possible leadan abandoned mine in western Amh Araeng. From what the Mord told me, it would be a perfect place to stay out of sight.
Of course, I could never hope to explore such a labyrinth quickly or safely on my own, so I returned here.
Even should we all join in the endeavor, an exhaustive search could take weeks─and with no guarantee of finding anything.
The Wardens harbor vast reservoirs of primordial Light, do they not? Far beyond anything found in lesser sin eaters.
And isn't it true that the Oracle could see the Light of a sin eater from malms away? Surely a Warden would seem like a blazing beacon by comparison?
To the real Oracle of Light, I mean. The real Minfilia.
If we traveled to Amh Araeng, to the south where she halted the Flood, I could summon her back.
What do you think?
Don't what? Do what I can? What we both know is right!?
Do not presume to know my mind. You have no idea what you're proposing.
But I do! I know why you never said anything. Because you thought you could keep me safe by keeping me in the dark.
And...maybe I thought so too. But I knew, Thancred. I always knew!
Oh, I see... I thought you were a rather underwhelming reincarnation, but it all makes sense now.
The Oracle lies dormant within you, doesn't she? But to draw on her true power, you must become one, both body and soul.
To wit, one being must consume the other. Who shall be the lucky winner?
This doesn't concern you, Ascian.
But it plainly concerns you. Which is why your heart is ready to burst out of your chest.
Despite the raging tempest in your bosom, however, you have never once opened up to your young charge. Now why would that be?
Well, I for one think it's a marvelous idea. Certainly more promising than any of your other suggestions.
So─it's off to Amh Araeng we go!
I'll meet you at the gates.
End of voiced cutscene.
If this is the course you have agreed on, I will not object─though I am afraid it will be difficult for us to spare any of the guard to accompany you.
I can but promise that you will be well looked after upon your return. Just...see to it that you do return, all right?
If I had only been able to locate Kholusia's Lightwarden, it might not have come to this...
I can't imagine what Thancred must be feeling to behave this way. To say he's changed since coming here would be an understatement. He may as well be a different person. He reminds me of─
...Ah. He reminds me of Father.
He argued with us for months about our plan to go to Eorzea, but in the end, he accepted our decision. I...do hope he's doing well.
Though Thancred hath long known whither this path doth lead, his journey hath brought him no closer to acceptance.
Minfilia demonstrated impressive resolve just now. It seems that she understands what must be done...though I do wonder if she is truly prepared to make the choice.
Should she falter, it will fall to Thancred to guide her. However much he wishes it were otherwise.
<sigh> Will you never grow tired of shuffling your feet?
If you have something to ask me, ask.
|Tell me about Zodiark.||Nothing springs to mind.|
I'm sorry to be so insistent. But I know this is the only way.
If you're willing to give me a chance, come with us.
Sorry for the wait─I'm ready now.
|And you're sure you want to do this? Completely sure?|
|There has to be another way.|
Look...no matter what happens to me, I'm sure that I don't want to go back to being who I was.
I want to be stronger─strong enough to face my destiny. And I want to believe that I can play a part in saving this world.
I hope you can find it in yourself to believe it, too.
When you put it that way, how could we not?
It is your decision to make. Just be sure that you are prepared, when the time comes.
If all are assembled, shall we depart?
We'll follow your lead. What route would you have us take?
About that─there's something I neglected to mention.
I saw a Eulmoran airship coming in to land over Amh Araeng while I was on my way back to the Crystarium.
No doubt the same vessel that bore Vauthry's forces to Rak'tika.
...Meaning we can expect to encounter armed resistance on our journey through the region.
Right. Now, Nabaath Areng lies in the southern reaches of Amh Araeng, and there are two routes we can take to get there.
The first is the eastern route, which would lead us past Mord Souq.
The other is the western route, which would require us to pass through the Hills of Amber.
Minfilia and I took the eastern route last time.
Yes, that's the more well-trodden path. It also makes for easier traversal of the Nabaath Severance.
But we can't use it.
If we did, we'd need to cross the Severance from a point nearby the Inn at Journey's Head.
If the Eulmorans caught wind of our approach, it could very well bring them into contact with the Inn and its patients─and we can be sure their activities would not meet with Vauthry's approval.
It will make the journey more arduous, but I believe it would be safer to take the western route. Which brings me to my proposition.
While you make for the Hills of Amber in the west, I will draw the Eulmorans' attention elsewhere─to an area in the east that I know to be uninhabited.
That way, you'll have a chance at reaching Nabaath Areng unopposed, and without risk to civilians.
Hm. I cannot deny that it's a sound plan─but nor can I allow you to go alone. My skills will make your task at least somewhat easier, will they not?
I will accompany you as well. It will afford us a chance to have a proper conversation.
...And if I go with the others, I'm likely to say something Thancred will regret.
Well then, we'll leave the work of distracting Vauthry's forces to you. The rest of us will take the western route, and try to avoid attracting attention.
With that in mind, I think it best that we follow the road from the Bridges. We'll move faster with a solid path under our feet.
We'll borrow a few amaro for our own journey. I leave the rest to you, Minfilia.
Thank you. I'll try not to disappoint.
We'll need to move quickly. The longer the others need to keep the Eulmorans busy, the more likely they are to be caught.
Would that we all had thy surety of purpose.
There you are. The gate leading to Amh Araeng is just up ahead.
In all the time I've been here, I've never ventured into the Hills of Amber. Not that I'm particularly intimidated by new lands, at this point─but we have more than enough reasons to be cautious as it is.
...Keep an eye on Minfilia for me, would you?
Amh Araeng lies just beyond the gate. We need only speak to the sentry.
I'm ready. Let's go.
Who shall walk among us upon our return, I wonder...
Off so soon, Master Surname? You've barely had time to recover from the battle!
Well, if you're certain, I'm hardly in a position to question you.
Take comfort in the bonds you share. Accept the pain when the time comes to part.
Press on, for joy and sorrow walk hand in hand.
Beyond Mount Garik lie the Hills of Amber, beneath which run hidden veins of mineral wealth.
Or ran, at least. Mayhap they are spent. Or mayhap the ringing of hammers can yet be heard below...
A village so near? How convenient.
Sound though Mistress Alisaie's logic was, I fear the road less traveled hath other perils in store for us.
This place has been scarred by the Flood too. Who can say what lies ahead?
But whatever else this road may be, it is mine to travel. And I don't plan to take a moment of the time I spend upon it for granted.