To Rule the Skies
Utata: Well met, ladies and gentlepirates! Now that we appear to have our hero, I'm happy to report that we've overcome the last obstacle to boarding the ghost ship! Leofard: ...Meanin' your project is proceedin' as planned? Utata: That it is, Captain! I knew this would be the perfect place to take readings─the scant amounts of background aether make it easy to follow the derelict's trail. Stacia: The ghost ship has what Utata tells us is a “unique aetheric signature.” She's been buildin' a device what can sniff out this particular spectral flavor, and point us in the right direction. Utata: I call it the “ectocompass”! It's allowed me to collect some solid data on the vessel's movements, and plot a reliable intercept course. No groping blindly through the clouds for us! Stacia: All the ships are loaded and ready to fly. Just say the word, Captain. Leofard: Utata, you'd best stay here, out of harm's way. Keep an eye on them aether trails, eh? Utata: Aye, Captain! Grab an armload of treasure for me! Leofard: Now, we've got no way of knowin' what's waitin' for us on that cursed hulk, Player, so you'd best bring along a few mates what you know you can trust. Don't hurt to be too careful, seein' as how you'll be goin' in first and all. I did tell you you'd be goin' in first, didn't I? I, well, you will. Leofard: The rest of us'll be guardin' the rear, just in case Radlia and her brood decide to stick their beaks in where they ain't wanted. Don't worry, she'll not get past us, so you can concentrate on carvin' a path into the ship's belly! Leofard: An honest-to-gods ghost ship... Ohhh-ho-ho, this is gonna be an adventure and a half! --Talking to Redbill Deckhand-- Redbill Deckhand: The captain's dragged us on some hair-raisin' ventures in his time, but summat tells me this one's gonna be the worst of the lot. If we look out for each other, though, I reckon we'll make it home in one piece...with a bit of luck. --Talking to Stacie-- Stacia: I'll be on hand to see that our curious captain don't get us all killed meddlin' with some ancient artifact or other─meanin' you'll be free to concentrate on not gettin' killed by whatever's waitin' belowdecks. Can't say fairer than that, eh? --Talking to Utata-- Utata: Leofard will be taking my ectocompass with him. Just follow his lead, and you'll arrive at the derelict soon enough. Who knows what wondrous trinkets await you inside!? --Talking to Leofard-- Leofard: We'll deal with any sneaky bastards what try creepin' in behind us while you and your mates forge ahead. That hulk's secrets'll be ours alone.
After clearing The Void Ark, Leofard, Stacia, and the Redbill Deckhand enter, the latter carrying a giant chest of loot over his head.
Leofard: Bugger me... I expected danger, but not a hells-spawned bleedin' nightmare made flesh like that! Didn't stop you and your mates, though, did it!? That's some crew you've got there, and no mistake.
Leofard: Right, then─let's have a look inside that dirty great coffer-type...thing. Summat tells me it's filled to the brim with booty.
The arena begins to shake.
Stacia: Don't look at me! I never moved a muscle!
Diabolos appears in front of the coffin, forming a cross in front of it. The chains surrounding it begin to fall away and he charges up for what appears to be a potent attack.
Leofard: What in the seven hells is that bastard doin'!?
A bipedal feline appears near the entrance.
???: This way! Swiftly now!
Leofard: Er...can anyone else see that talkin' cat over there? Bloody hells, this adventure's gettin' queerer by the minute...
Leofard: ...Still, I'd rather take me chances with a prattlin' puss than stay here. Get your things, mateys─we're leavin'!
Stacia: But...what about the loot!?
Leofard: You can't spend it when you're dead! We either follow the furball, or make friends with a spell-slingin' voidborn! Your choice!
Stacia: Gods damn it! How's an honest sky pirate meant to make a livin'!?
Everyone flees after the cat and escapes on their manajammers. The Void Ark appears to be activating, chains falling off around it.
Leofard: The ship's breakin' up... Is he tryin' to bring her down?
The Void Ark opens a giant cannon in the front, and fires a beam that narrowly misses you and leaves a purple gap in space where it pierces the clouds.
???: The voidsent is attempting to initiate a dimensional displacement! But the gate─it cannot possibly be large enough for the entire ship...
The coffin from the boss arena begins to lower.
???: <gasp> The Queen's Coffin! He takes it beyond our reach!
Diabolos takes the coffin through the rift, which seals behind him.
Leofard: Well, there don't seem much point hangin' 'round here. Let's get back to solid ground.
--Talking to the cat.--
Cait Sith: Long has it been since my paws have trodden aught but those cursed decks... <sigh> Would that I had made landfall under better circumstances.
--Talking to Stacia.--
Stacia: What kind of cat is that anyway? And what was it doin' on that ship...?
--Talking to the Redbill Deckhand.--
Redbill Deckhand: Ugh... Me poor heart... 'Tis a pity about the loot and no mistake, but at least we made it out in one piece. As the captain's so fond of sayin', “You can't spend it when you're dead!” <sigh>
--Talking to Leofard to finish the quest.--
Leofard: Aye, 'twas a bit touch and go in places, I grant you, but here we all are, and all with our bits still attached! This calls for a foamin' flagon of─
Leofard: Hold on. Ain't we missin' someone? Didn't I tell Utata to wait for us here?
???: Never fear. We've been keeping the girl company.
Radlia approaches with some of her goons and a hostage Utata.
Radlia: But enough about her! Did you see the cannon on that ship? As you know, my dear Leofard, I am not easily moved, but the sheer power on display set me all aquiver.
Leofard: Well, I hope you're content to admire it from afar. That vessel ain't for the likes of you and me.
Radlia: Do not presume to measure me by your own limitations. Besides, I believe I've shown how resourceful I can be.
Radlia: Which brings me neatly to the point. You have in your possession a device capable of tracking the ghost ship. Hand it over, or your engineer shall suffer the consequences.
Leofard hands over the compass.
Radlia: ...Perfect. A compass pointing the way to my just reward. A weapon like that belongs in the hands of one with the will to use it!
Radlia: Come, lads. Our business here is concluded.
Radlia and her gang departs.
Utata: I'm sorry, Captain. They caught me off guard...
Stacia: ...You get a bang on the head or summat? The man I know would never give in to scum like her without a fight. Unless─
Stacia: <sigh> What did you do to the compass?
Leofard: Who, me? Naught. ...Besides slippin' a linkpearl into its casin', like. Hah hah! So long as Radlia keeps it close─and you can be damn sure she will─we'll know exactly what them thievin' bastards are plannin'! Anyone care to wager how long it'll take her to notice me little gift?
Stacia: That's very clever and all, but how were you proposin' to stop her from gettin' her hands on that derelict and its great big cannon?
Leofard: I ain't worked that part out yet. But I 'spect it'll start with us keepin' a close eye on the Talons.
Leofard: 'Fore we get into any of that, though, I've got some questions what need answerin'.
Curious Cat: You wish to know more of the Void Ark? The “ghost ship,” as you call it?
Leofard: The Void Ark... So that's its proper name. Aye, I'd like to hear whatever you'd care to tell us, puss.
Cait Sith: And I, for my part, am curious to hear your stories. Ere we continue, however, I must insist that you address me by my proper name: Cait Sith. I will not respond to “puss” or “cat,” and most decidedly not “furball.”
The group retires to the Redbills' hangout, with Cait Sith pacing across a map on a table.
Cait Sith: My tale begins long, long ago in the city of Mhach, which once stood in the lands of Yafaem.
Cait Sith: The sorcerers of Mhach were masters of destructive magicks, and they brought that terrible power to bear against Amdapor and Nym in the War of the Magi.
Cait Sith: The titanic forces they unleashed, however, took a heavy toll upon the land, ultimately resulting in a colossal flood that drowned the realm of Eorzea─a catastrophe which my master, High Voidmage Cessair, was wise enough to foresee.
Stacia: Wait, wait, wait... Colossal flood? Are you talkin' about the Sixth Umbral Calamity?
Cait Sith: Hmm, I suppose you would know it as such... Now, where was I? Ah, yes. When they learned of the fate that awaited them, the Mhachi magi began construction of a gargantuan vessel that would bear their people to the skies, and to safety.
Cait Sith: The operation of the Void Ark, as the ship came to be called, was entrusted to Cessair. Prior to that, of course, my master had been a prisoner in her own home, confined for her outspoken opposition to the war...
Utata: So the Ark was meant as a sanctuary? Then, how did it come to be so...um... I mean, what happened to all the people? And where did all the voidsent come from?
Cait Sith: By what power do you imagine such a massive craft remains aloft? The energy required to raise the Ark was siphoned from over a thousand otherworldly servants sealed within the vessel.
Cait Sith: Advances in Mhachi sorcery were made for one reason and one reason only: cataclysmic destructive power. And the swiftest─and most dangerous─method of acquiring that power was through the enslavement of voidsent entities.
Utata: So, the creatures on the derelict...they broke free from your master's control?
Cait Sith: At the very heart of the Ark, the voidmages had entombed a great ruler of the voidsent─Scathach, the Shadow Queen.
Cait Sith: But in order to control so potent a prisoner, a mage of adamant will was required. And being Mhach's preeminent sorcerer, Cessair was deemed best-qualified. Were it otherwise, my master might never have been released from her own imprisonment...
Cait Sith: Yet even with Cessair's peerless skill, the Shadow Queen could not long be subjugated. One after another, the lesser voidsent awoke, and ran rampant within the ship.
Cait Sith: In the end, Cessair and the fifty-three voidmages aboard the Ark sacrificed their own life energies to return the fiends to their coffins...leaving me, a lowly familiar, to watch over a derelict prison.
Leofard: If I remember me Umbral Eras right, the stuff you just described happened more'n fifteen hundred years past─which is a good while by anyone's measure. And since everythin' seems to have been quiet on board your boat 'til just recently, I'm thinkin' summat unusual must've happened to wake the inmates up. Am I warm?
Cait Sith: One day, a voidsent that had taken the shape of a bat flew into the ship. At first, it was little more than a nuisance that I brushed away, but the longer it remained on the Ark, the stronger it seemed to become... Eventually I could not contend with its power, and it began shattering seal after seal!
Cait Sith: ...You have faced this bat-winged fiend before!? It would seem, then, that the creature survived the encounter...and that he intends to celebrate his restoration by liberating his queen.
Leofard: Well, that explains that, then─'cept for one small detail, namely, where the Queen's Coffin went. After it fell out of the ship's belly...I'm assumin' it didn't just disappear, right?
Cait Sith: You recall the great rift that the Ark's cannon ripped in the sky? That was a voidgate.
Cait Sith: Such a portal opens a temporary path through the void, allowing the ship to travel almost instantaneously from one location to another. The voidsent, as you saw, only opened a gate large enough to displace the Coffin. As for the Coffin's destination, however...that is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
Cait Sith: I beseech you, conquerors of the Ark: help me find the Queen's Coffin ere the wards binding Scathach are dispelled!
Leofard: Smells to me like an adventure! And who knows what ancient Mhachi treasures we might stumble on along the way!? Gods know, they'll make a nice change from all them Allagan tomestones we've been collectin'!
Leofard: Aye, we'll help you. I'm not riskin' me hide for the sake of the realm, you understand, but I'll be damned if I let either Radlia or that bat-winged bastard take the freedom of the skies from me!
Cait Sith: You... You care only for how you might be inconvenienced!? If the Shadow Queen were to return, it would have dire consequences for this entire star!
Leofard: Count your blessin's, furball! I said we'd help, didn't I?
Leofard: 'Fore we go rushin' off in search of that coffin, though, there's preparations to be made. You might as well get back to your usual heroical employment, Eyriwaen. I'll let you know when it's time to round up your mates again...
Scene changes to the Talons' lair.Radlia: The time is nigh, my dear Talons. Soon, we shall seize control of the ghost ship and all its power, and rule the skies from here to the ends of the world!