Final Fantasy XIV – The Story So Far – Episode 3: Confrontation
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn won’t just be a relaunch of Final Fantasy XIV, but also a direct sequel set five years after the events that ended the first game. With Final Fantasy XIV now closed, many missed the chance to enjoy its story. Since the two games will be deeply linked, knowing the story behind Final Fantasy XIV will most probably enhance the enjoyment of A Realm Reborn.
Final Fantasy XIV – The Story So Far is a weekly episodic column that will tell the tale of the heroes of Eorzea, from the very beginning to the final, climatic battle against the 7th Imperial Legion. It will also include the cutscenes of the main storyline (and a few relevant extras). If you didn’t play Final Fantasy XIV, when you saw the beautiful “The End of an Era“ trailer, you probably asked yourself who the characters portrayed are, and how they gathered together to fight against the Empire. This is your chance to know in order to better enjoy A Realm Reborn when it’ll be released.
This column will follow the story from the point of view of a character hailing from the city state of Ul’dah and belonging to the Immortal Flames grand company. Some of the cutscenes for the other cities and grand companies are different, as the story branches, but the general events and characters are the same. For narrative purposes the main character is named Abriael (after the author’s personal toon), but of course the story applies to any character in the game.
You can also read the other episodes here: Episode 1: Beginnings, Episode 2: Awakening, Episode 4: A New Beginning, Episode 5: Madness, Episode 6: United, Episode 7: End of an Era, Extra Episode: Agent of Enquiry.
Chapter 9: Lord Errant
Still shaken over the news provided by Minfilia, Abriael and Ariene decided to take action, and to travel to the Amalj’aa stronghold of Paglth’an in order to try and persuade the beast tribes to side with the Path of the Twelve by using the power of the Echo to further mutual understanding. At the entrance of the stronghold they met two Sylphs that had came to pursue the same goal, and the two creatures explained that one of the Paragons was probably further inside.
Unfortunately, before the group could reach the Paragon, Ariene managed to get herself captured. She and Abriael were unceremoniously hauled into a secluded cave, to be held captive at the mercy of the Beastmen. Soon after, they were carried to a clearing together with several other prisoners, under a rather close escort by a group of Amalj’aa priests.
Much to Abriael’s surprise, the priest proceeded to summon the mighty primal Ifrit, and while Ariene tried to parley with the frightening beast, he suddenly attacked, bathing them and the other prisoners in blue flame. Luckily enough the fire seemed to be harmless, but the others started to act strangely, as they were under control of the fanatical priests. Both Abriael and Ariene seemed to be immune from that influence, probably thanks to the Echo.
As commanded by the priests, the other prisoners attacked. Abriael had to defend himself and incapacitate them, trying to cause as little harm as possible, while Ifrit observed the battle silently and apparently rather bemused.
Finally, after the brief conflict had concluded, the Primal seemed in the mood to talk. He demanded to know which primal Abriael or Ariene owed their fealty, declaring that he felt the taint of another. As Ariene denied such a possibility, Ifrit said that he would heed the counsel of the Paragon and spare their lives, on the condition that they would forsake the possibility to summon another primal.
Ariene, quick of mind as usual, immediately caught the cryptic meaning behind his words. Ifrit was definitely hinting to the fact that those that possessed the power of the Echo also had in them the ability to summon Primals on their own. Before she could ask for further information, though, the lord of Inferno had she and her companion summarily ushered out of the stronghold. There the sylphs, that had observed the scene from a conveniently safe distance, revealed that they were clueless about the issue themselves, but that summoning Primals was not something one should tamper with.
Upon returning to the Waking Sands Abriael and Ariene were chided by Minifilia for their eagerness to act on their own, but the Antecedent could not deny the usefulness of the information they brought back from their little escapade. Her attitude quickly softened, but she still warned them to tread with caution, as their dealings with the Beast Tribes were a dangerous endeavor in a place where the Garlean Empire had eyes and ears everywhere.
Chapter 10: Of Men They Sing
Quite suddenly the linkpearl of the Path of the Twelve broadcasted a mysterious distress message. While Minfilia was completely baffled by the occurrence, and clueless on who could have sent it, she managed to pinpoint its origin near Camp Nine Ivies, in the Black Shroud forest. She also told Abriael that Ariene had already moved out to investigate.
Abriael met with his path companion in the dark woods near Gridania, but she wasn’t alone. In her company he found a group of rough-looking warriors that revealed their allegiance with the Ala Mhigan resistance. They seemed to know Ariene well, as the one that introduced himself as their captain brought her news of the passing of her father.
The captain also explained that the distress signal was sent by a scout of the resistance, returning from a foray in Imperial territory and closely pursued by Garlean troopers. If the scout were to fall in Imperial hands, the information she had would probably spell doom on the Resistance itself. That’s why Abriael and Ariene quickly agreed to join the search and to try and rescue her.
Luckily they managed to locate the scout just in time and to fend off the Garlean pursuers, but upon returning to the Waking Sands they were reprimanded again for acting rashly. Luckily the fact that they had aided those in need was recognized, and the chiding by the diminutive Tataru didn’t last too long.
Ariene revealed (as if it wasn’t clear enough) that she had contacts within the Ala Mhigan resistance, and that she thought that they were planning something big.
Chapter 11: Futures Perfect
Returning to the Waking Sands to meet with Minfilia, Abriael found her with Ariene and the members of the Ala Mhigan Resistance, holding council on the upcoming operation against the empire. The captain had planned to infiltrate the lightly patrolled region of Mor Dhona in order to steal an Imperial airship, and then use it to retake the lost Ala Mhigo by force.
While Ariene was enthusiastic about the plan, and encouraged Abriael to join as well, Minfilia was much more wary, and advised caution. The Resistance had tried similar plans several times in the past, failing every time with severe losses. The captain responded that the Resistance couldn’t allow fear of defeat to lead them to inaction, and proved adamant in his purpose. Soon they left with Ariene in order to travel to Mor Dhona.
Abriael knew better than ignoring Minfilia’s warning, but he could not leave Ariene in danger without lending his aid. He reached Camp Ravenant Troll in Mor Dhona just in time to see an Imperial party cut down an helpless member of the Resistance. He followed them as they retreated, hoping that they would lead him to Ariene.
Soon they were joined by an Imperial Centurion and they spotted their pursuer. Abriael had no choice but to fight. Things seemed to become desperate as a Garlean Juggernaut swooped down from the sky and joined the fray, but Abriael managed to draw his enemies in the trajectory of its cannon, making short work of them.
The Juggernaut retreated, its attention apparently drawn by somthing else, as an explosion echoed beyond a hill. Abriael prepared to go check on it himself, but he finally met Ariene, that was apparently unharmed. She seemed relieved by his arrival, despite trying to act though, and she asked him to help her create a diversion while the resistance attempted to board the airship.
Upon arriving under the shadow of the Keeper of the Lake, the torn wreck of the airship Agrius destroyed fifteen years before by the dragon Midgardsormr, Abriael and Ariene found the entire Resistance party annihilated by a single man. Before them stood Gaius van Baelsar, Governor of Ala Mhigo and Legatus of the XIV’s Imperial Legion, a man that rightfully carried the frightening nickname of Black Wolf.
Van Baelsar knocked Ariene out with a powerful beam weapon fixed to his wrist and aimed it next at Abriael. The attack was deflected by Tancred, that appeared on the scene together with three companions: the miquo’te Y’shtola, the lalafell Papalymo and the hyuran Yda, that seemed to have played roles similar to his in the city states of Limsa Lominsa and Gridania.
In the following battle the Black Wolf proved extremely valiant with his beam weapon and his infamous gunblade Heirsbane, and the combined strenght of the four barely managed to contain his fury. In order to conclude the fruitless fight he finally fired a signal flare that prompted a devastating blast from his Dreadnaught class flagship that was hovering in the sky above.
Abriael came to his senses in a cave, having lost track of time. He witnessed a rather disconcerting scene as a Gaelean centurion brainwashed a group of kids into serving the Empire in the purpose of destroying the Beastmen tribes and the Gods themselves.
He was brought back to reality by Ariene, as the vision was provided by the Echo. She thanked him for protecting her before they were joined by Tancred. He warned them that they were not ready to fight the empire yet, and encouraged them to know their own strength before seeking a direct confrontation.
He and his companions definitely seemed to be much more than what initially met the eye. They all carried a tattoo on their necks, and that could be a hint to their nature.
Upon returning to the Waking Sands Minfilia greeted Abriael will relief, but reinforced the message that times were not yet mature for a battle against the empire, as the divided forces that opposed it were no more than a nuisance as long as they didn’t join hands to pursue a common cause.
And this is how the first arc of the storyline of Final Fantasy XIV ends. The next episode will mark the beginning of the Grand Companies story arc and of the influence of Naoki Yoshida’s direction on the plot. It is, in my opinion, markedly superior and way more epic, as the player character stops being a relatively helpless bystander and steps up to the role of main hero. We will unfortunately bid farewell to Ariene, as the path companion was a concept exclusive to the initial design of the game, so her role ends here. From what we know so far, path companions won’t appear in the story of A Realm Reborn as well.
If you’re eager to see what i mean, and to see more of the lovely cutscenes that accompanied the story, all you have to do is to come back next Wednesday and read Episode 4 of Final Fantasy XIV – The Story So Far. This column will appear on DualShockers once a week until we’ll reach the epic climax that will carry us over to A Realm Reborn.
If you missed them, you can also read the other episodes here: Episode 1: Beginnings, Episode 2: Awakening, Episode 4: A New Beginning, Episode 5: Madness, Episode 6: United, Episode 7: End of an Era, Extra Episode: Agent of Enquiry.
If you have any further question about the story, do ask in the comments.