Final Fantasy XIV – The Story So Far – Episode 4: A New Beginning
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.
At last we reach the second arc of the story, that focuses on the Grand Companies and directly leads up to A Realm Reborn, marking the beginning of the influence of Naoki Yoshida’s direction on the game. You can read the other episodes here: Episode 1: Beginnings, Episode 2: Awakening, Episode 3: Confrontation, Episode 5: Madness, Episode 6: United, Episode 7: End of an Era, Extra Episode: Agent of Enquiry.
Chapter 12: Intermission
After returning from Mor Dhona and bidding farewell to Ariene, who needed some much deserved rest, Abriael found Ul’dah in a climate of political restlessness, with the rich and morally bankrupt taking their entertainment at the expense of the less fortunate.
The young adventurer came across an illegal game organized at the Platinum Mirage: a group of gamblers were about to unleash a fell beast on the settlement of Little Ala Mhigo, in order to bet on the bloody outcome. Little Ala Mhigo was a small encampment in Eastern Thanalan where refugees from the city state fallen to the Empire tried to recover from their losses. They had seen too much pain and suffering already, so Abriael hurried to the rescue.
After striking down the beast just in time, Abriael discovered that the man behind the plot was an ex member of the Syndicate ruling over Ul’dah named Rycharde, that was seeking revenge for his removal from power. Using the power of the Echo revealed that his place was taken by Raubahn Aldynn, a gladiator nicknamed “The Bull of Ala Mhigo” that enjoyed the personal friendship of the Sultana and that won the seat thanks to the riches earned in the Arena.
Feeling that he needed a change of environment, Abriael traveled to Gridania, where he came across a weird rumor: people had been placing broken items on the remains of an ancient tree called Lifemend Stump for a while, to have the Moogles come and fix them. Unfortunately the items had started to disappear without a trace, probably the work of thieves.
As he reached Lifemend Stump, Abriael was waylaid by a trio of thieves proclaiming themselves “the Redbelly Wasps”, of which he made short work. The subsequent questioning brought him to learn that they had kidnapped a young lady and were holding her prisoner in their den.
He quickly moved to the indicated location, only to find the young lady, a padjal named Raya-O-Senna, standing among the unconscious bandits. Apparently she had let herself be captured in order to catch the thieves.
As they spoke, Abriael was suddenly seized by the power of the Echo and witnessed a conversation between Raya-O and her sister Kan-E-Senna over the corpses of three assassinated great elementals. Kan-E expressed her will to leave the forest and go back to Gridania in order to lead its people in the upcoming times of peril. Peculiarly, Abriael was pulled back from his vision by a rather irritated Raya-O, that not only noticed his gift, but also chided him for peeking on other people’s business.
The next stop of Abriael’s trip brought him to the City State of Limsa Lominsa, den of pirates and free men of all sorts. There he was asked to investigate by one of the local Knights of the Barracuda on the recent sinking of the galley Braveheart, allegedly perpetrated by a pirate crew named Bloody Executioners.
During his investigation he met an exiled officer of the Barracudas named Malin, that revealed that the sinking of the Braveheart was the result of a plan to assassinate the Executioners’ leader Hyllfyr. The power of the Echo allowed Abriael to witness the aftermath of the battle, with most of the crew of the Braveheart slain and Malin herself about to take her own life. Only the sudden intervention of Limsa Lominsa’s Admiral Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn persuaded the enraged Hyllfyr to stand down and relinquish his fleet.
Chapter 13: The Prophet
During his travels Abriael learned that a mysterious Elzen named Urianger, that defined himself Archon, had been stirring quite a lot of trouble across the three City States. As he stopped by each of them he heard several rumors about the man, including that he was the one that caused the Sixth Umbral era fifteen centuries before, and that he was trying to usher a seventh one. Indeed the prophetic words of Urianger did seem to spell doom.
Three times Abriael was asked to apprehend Urianger, and three times he tried, only to have the Elzen summon a beast to face him and cover his escape, after speaking of an obscure impending doom in cryptic words from the seventh verse of the Divine Chronicles by Mezaya Thousand Eyes that recited:
Ne’er till land consumes sun can sea bear moons.
Heavens spew crimson flame. Hells seep black dooms.
Stray seeds quicken in ash’s grey embrace,
Valiant blades forged under the Twelve’s good grace.
Urianger’s words indeed spelled doom, but also spoke of hope. He advised that Abriael’s heart was tainted by deceit, as his hand was guided by individuals with unspoken goals.
Each time, after Urianger had vanished, the adventurer was joined by one of the individuals that rescued him during his previous encounter with the Imperial Legatus Gaius van Baelsar: Thancred, Papalymo and Y’shtola. They all advised that the Seventh Umbral Era was indeed coming, but it could still be prevented as Umbral Eras have always been brought by men upon themselves. They all left Abriael with more doubts than answers, and with the question on his future allegiance against the upcoming darkness. Interestingly enough, Urianger had a very similar tattoo to the ones they carried on their necks.
Back in Ul’dah, Abriael visited the Hall of Flames with the intention of joining the re-established Grand Company of the Immortal Flames. First Flame Lieutenant Aubrey tasked him with securing an indispensable trade route to the east that was blockaded by a band of Garlean mercenaries named the Hellhouds.
After dispatching the mercenaries and returning to the Hall of Flames he learned that the trade route was again blockaded by a full scale Imperial invasion under the pretext of putting down the allegedly rogue Hellhounds. As a result Abriael was sent to Limsa Lominsa in order to secure contracts with foreigner seafaring merchants and ensure that Ul’dah could arm itself for the impending war.
Having accomplished the mission, despite the fact that the merchants seemed worried about the future of Eorzea, he returned again to the Hall of Flames, where he witnessed a conversation between a man named Cid Garlond and his assistant. The conversation ended with the mentioning of a rather ominous name: Meteor.
Chapter 14: Leaders of Men
A few days later Abriael was sent to investigate on the recent ambushes that had been plaguing patrols of the Immortal Flames near the ferry docks to the west of Camp Horizon. There he found that the culprits were a group of pirates and promptly defeated them, only to meet again with Urianger and Thancred. Their mutual allegiance was made clear as Thancred revealed that they had traveled together from far to the northwest. Unfortunately he didn’t say more.
Upon returning to the Hall of Flames to give his report Abriael was sent to the Royal Promenade to witness history in the making, as General Raubahn was about to give a speech to seal the reforming of the Immortal Flames.
The Speech was indeed rousing, with the General appealing to every member of the Ul’dahn society for his contribution in the impending war against the Garlean Empire. No matter if one was a soldier, an adventurer or a craftsman, he could still give his aid in the upcoming ordeal, whether with his blade or with his trade. Interestingly enough, a motion of mutual acknowledgment could be noticed between Raubahn and Thancred at the end of the speech.
As he didn’t yet officially join the Flames, Abriael was still collaborating with the other Grand Companies. In Gridania he was asked by the Order of the Twin Adder to bear witness to their leader’s inaugural speech as well. While not as powerul as Raubahn, the padjal Kan-E-Senna knew how to speak to the hearts of the Gridanians, and encouraged them to be united against the Empire to protect their homes and their forest.
After the speech he met Papalymo. The lalafell explained that him and his colleagues – all scholars of the Divine Chronicles – actually played a very sizable part in the reformation of the grand companies, and that Abriael himself could play an even more important role in the future.
Abriael then traveled to Limsa Lominsa, where the officer on duty at the Maelstrom’s base was quite worried about the whereabouts of Admiral Merlwyb, that had left unarmed and unescorted for a meeting with a crew of pirates. The adventurer traveled to Camp Bloodshore to try to catch up with the Admiral, and in fact managed to defeat a group of cutthroats that were pursuing her.
After finally joining Merlwyb, Abriael was surprised to find her in the company of none else than Urianger. She explained that the Archon was the one that warned her of the impending doom endangering all of Eorzea, urging her to recall the Maelstrom into active duty.
She then encouraged the adventurer to watch her address at the official Grand Company inauguration ceremony. Again, a rousing speech was given, encouraging unity against the odds. The crowd, made in large part of pirates, was indeed a tad more difficult than the ones in Ul’dah and Gridania, but Merlwyb wasn’t exactly a queasy woman herself, and any opposition was swiftly, and quite radically, silenced.
The time for the final choice between the Grand Companies was nigh.
And this is how the second arc of the storyline of Final Fantasy XIV begins. The next episode will delve deeper in the story of the Seventh Umbral Era and introduce another important character, in addition to giving us more information on who the mysterious Cid really is.
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 5 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 3: Confrontation, 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.