Winning Over the Wyrm
Lucia's report described Anyx Trine in detail, but her words failed to convey the overwhelming strangeness of standing here in the demesne of dragons.
Though I expected no better answer from Vidofnir, I take little pleasure from having been proven right. 'Twould seem that our presence at Zenith will be every bit as unwelcome as I had anticipated. But what is the ire of one great wyrm to a trio of self-confessed fools such as ourselves?
Let us begin our ascent.
After you, Master Alphinaud.
Scout ahead if you wish, Forename. We shall join you outside Moghome!
The lord commander seems lost for words. Nor can I blame him. I recall being similarly awestruck when I first beheld this vista.
I had heard tales of the world above the clouds, but never did I dream...
One's mind paints a pale picture of its majesty.
Few live to see such wonders. I am reminded of my first visit to this peak, when Estinien and Ysayle yet walked at our side...
Kupopo? Is that you, Forename?
Ah, if it isn't Mog... Mog...uh...
Don't tell me you've forgotten my name, kupo!? After all we've been through together!
But at least you remember me!
You...you do remember me, don't you, Forename?
H-How could you mistake me for that overstuffed throne-warmer!? I'm Moghan! The courageous moogle who guided you to Zenith, kupo!
Phew! You seemed a bit hesitant for a moment there! But I'm sure you were just fondly recalling the time we camped near Zenith, right, kupo?
...I see, kupo. Then I suppose our time around the campfire meant less to you than I thought it did. It's “Moghan,” by the way... <sniff>
But putting our shared history to one side, what brings you and your friends to Moghome, kupo?
Ah, another audience with old Hraesvelgr...
Well, I hope you've brought the horn, kupo! With the winds as gentle as they are, a good loud toot should reach the great wyrm's ears easily enough!
That is good to hear, Moghan─thank you. We had best press on to Zenith, while the winds are in our favor.
Now that was unexpected, kupo. Chieftain Moglin will want to hear about this!
Did you meet with Hraesvelgr already, kupo? You never know when the winds will pick up again!
Pray sound the horn, Forename.
We must win Hraesvelgr to our cause. Fail in this and Ishgard's fate is all but sealed.
You dare summon me again, mortals?
Great Hraesvelgr, 'tis not lightly that we beg this audience. Pray hearken to our words, for they concern the future of man and dragon both.
Greetings, Hraesvelgr. I am Aymeric de Borel, acting ruler of the nation of Ishgard.
I am come before you to parley on behalf of my people.
...To parley? Thinkest thou thy purpose unclear to me? Thou art come to beg mine aid in the battle against the shade of my brood-brother.
You...foresaw mine intent.
I but read that which is writ plain in thine eyes. Would that thou had wit enough to scry the answer in mine.
My beloved Shiva did once build a bridge 'twixt man and dragon─a bridge which thy treacherous forefathers saw fit to tear down, as thou well knowest.
Thinkest thou Nidhogg was alone in despairing at the murder of our brood-sister? Thinkest thou mine own soul did not cry out for vengeance? Know then that upon that accursed day, my heart did wither in my breast, and thy kind become unto me the harbingers of despair.
'Tis only Shiva's gentle dream that preventeth me from flying at Nidhogg's shoulder. Be grateful that I swore to abjure aggression ere I consumed her.
I permit my children to offer or deny thee aid as they see fit; to warn thy people of my brood-brother's coming. That thou wouldst dare ask more of me but affirmeth thine incurable arrogance.
We understand that in your despair at man's betrayal, you seek only the refuge of solitude.
But despite your protestations of spent faith, do you not still nurture the smallest flame of hope?
Perceivest thou such light in the dusk of mine existence?
I do. If you claim I see falsely, then tell me: why did you consent to bear Ysayle upon your back?
Ysayle... Piteous, deluded Ysayle. The child did lament her past sins, and sought to balance the scales with her remaining days. 'Twas her unquenchable passion, so alike to that of my beloved, which did spur me into flight.
And for mine own part, I would countenance no longer the hands of evil men to use my brood-brother's eye for ill.
So you do distinguish between those who acknowledge and repent their sins, and those who perpetuate them. Interesting.
It seems to me that you have not, in fact, lost faith in mankind as a whole. Rather, you weigh our respective merits by how we allow the past to influence our future.
Spare me thine idle sophistry. Even were there a mote of truth in thy reasoning, what of it? Wouldst thou have me slay mine own sibling to save a city of mortals?
Should we suffer ties of blood to bind our hands then? Nay. If the crime is one of unconscionable evil, we must needs condemn it─even should the transgressor be our closest kin.
When my father corrupted himself and his followers with the power of a primal, I beseeched the Warrior of Light to slay him─an act alike to patricide.
That he did not die by my hand matters little─if anything, it heaps greater disgrace upon my name. But had my father not fallen, he would have drawn countless thousands into a holy war of hellish proportions─which I hold the greater crime. Thus did I order his execution, sparing the lives of my people and yours.
Alas, your brother wyrm now prepares to murder those whom I sought to spare. What is more, he has taken my comrade's body for his own─but if I must slay my dearest friend to defeat my direst foe, I will not flinch from my duty!
Thou wouldst strike down thy friend and, by example of thy righteousness, persuade me to break mine oath and kill my kindred?
Heed me, my child. The servants of Hydaelyn envision a different outcome. They intend salvation not only for Ishgard, but for the doomed dragonslayer as well.
Believest thou this shade to be Nidhogg returned? Is it not merely a manifestation of his vengeance─the shadow cast by thy brood-brother's rage? I would not command thee, but ponder well thy course lest it lead thee unto greater remorse...
Nidhogg's transformation into rage incarnate is, in part, of mine own doing. I rendered unto him mine eye, and empowered his revenge thereby... But 'tis the purity of my brood-brother's wrath that lendeth him his all-surpassing might.
Thou wishest to rescue the dragoon from his fate along with all the rest? I do begin to see why Ysayle entrusted her hope unto thee. Thy purpose is pure. ...But so too is my brood-brother's wrath, and 'tis that which lendeth him his all-surpassing might.
What, no words for me, warrior? I take it thou art resolved to act whether I aid thee or no... Ha! I do admire thy determination.
Hast thou the strength of will to stand against so terrible a shadow, I wonder? 'Twould seem I must put thee and thy companions to the proof.
I shall await thee in the ruins wherein Ratatoskr once dwelled. Heed well the words of my children, and hasten thee to the place of thy trial!
Another day, another trial. Such ordeals must seem almost mundane to you by now. Would that I could say the same.
I believe I spied a wyvern landing just outside the palace. It is doubtless one of the “children” of whom Hraesvelgr spoke.
Come, my friends: let us not keep our escort waiting.
For the sake of Ishgard, I shall overcome whatever trial is placed before me. And I have no doubt that you will do the same, Forename.
My broodmates and I will bear you to the place of your trial. Make your preparations.
Great Hraesvelgr honors you with this trial. Prepare to be sorely tested...
Even bereft of an eye, my brood-brother was a fearsome foe indeed.
But having tasted thy strength firsthand, full well can I imagine how thou didst bring him low. The dread title of “Azure Dragoon” is no empty appellation.
But having tasted thy strength firsthand, I do begin to see how thou didst bring him low. Hydaelyn chooseth Her servants well.
Very well. I shall trust in the seed of man one last time. By thy deeds shall the flickering hope that lingereth yet within my heart be kindled anew...or extinguished forever.
Your trial is ended as well, then?
Mine was brutal beyond reckoning. Vedrfolnir seems ill acquainted with the notion of “mock” battles...
That you yet stand is ready proof of your determination, mortals.
Let us fight as allies, then, and together banish my brood-brother's vengeful shade. On my oath, the wrath that once was Nidhogg shall meet its end!
This I swear on the memory of my beloved Shiva, and on the soul of lost Ysayle...
You have proven yourself in the eyes of great Hraesvelgr. I did not think such a thing possible...
Vedrfolnir cannot be faulted for effort. He is every ilm the proud warrior...or should I say, every yalm.
Oh...ohhh... Oh, my poor ribs...
...Hraesvelgr saw fit to pair me with Vidofnir, but her ferocity was such that I began to wonder if I hadn't simply imagined her injury.
...Yet my trial pales into insignificance next to yours. How fared you in your duel with Hraesvelgr?
...I take from this that your battle was rather more involved than my own. Vedrfolnir seemed largely concerned with how long he could keep me rolling in the dust. Between dodging snapping fangs and slashing claws, I scarce had time to aim a blow.
Had he truly meant to harm me, of course, I would not be standing here now. Plainly, his intent was to teach. His onslaught forced me to recall my training─about the speed of the dragon, his balance, his blind spots... It was, in short, a very thorough lesson.
Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow...kupo. Forename, let me begin by congratulating you on the completion of your trial.
For one with a name more befitting a jester, you fight with the savagery of a rabid demon.
Do you see how my wings are kinked? Even my pom aches! After this drubbing, I fear my loyal subjects will have to bear the load of my personal chores for quite some time, kupo. Possibly indefinitely.
What!? When I told you about Forename's trial, I didn't mean for the rest of us to suffer...
...That's triple shifts for you, Moghan.
<splutter> Triple!? But that's not fair!!!
There's no justice, kupo... None at all!
Our negotiations proved rather more strenuous than I had anticipated, but the results seem well worth the effort.
The battle was indeed hard-won. Thank you, my friends─I would never have earned Hraesvelgr's cooperation had you not seen fit to grant me yours.
'Twas your stalwart heroism that moved the heart of the great wyrm at the last. Any gratitude I can offer is but poor reward for your continued service to Ishgard.
'Twould seem our final reckoning with the dread wyrm is at hand. I only wish we had some inkling as to when he means to strike.
The cry heraldeth his coming. Nidhogg's shade hath taken wing.
It has begun. We must away to Ishgard!