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My Brother's Keeper IC Thread [Closed]

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The fire in the inn room roared, though the crackling flames did little to dispel the chill she felt.


Neither did the bottle of Brandy, now laying half empty at her side.


The Inquisition.


She had thought time and events had allowed her to overcome her fears, that her involvement with the Inquisitor Xanadu had somehow cut the chains of fear. She had been wrong.


It had only taken one imperious look from the Inquisitor and his guards to make her feel as a she had been then. Afraid, broken, guilty.


Guilty… guilty of course. The Inquisition never target the innocent you see, Halone guides their vision.


And their knives.


The burgeoning riot in the Brume had been a simple thing, only a few rocks and hard words exchanged, dispelled by the grit of the Dragoon V’aleera as well as her own Alchemical devices. No the speech and the riot were not as frightening as the aftermath. The fat Inquisitor in his rich robes, pointing a finger at the group.


“I’ll have them all.”




The bold arrogance of those with power.


If it had not been for the impassioned words of a pair of Miqo’te, she would be in chains now, screaming out heresies real and imagined just to avoid the next kiss of the torturer’s iron. Evangeline shudders as bile rises to her throat, and resists the urge to vomit fine brandy onto the stone floor


Yes, thanks to the pair of well dressed women, the Inquisitors were dissuaded, a sight she doubted she would ever see again. Even Inquisitors had hearts though, and the women’s words touched theirs, if only for a time.


The naked truth remained, this cult… this worship of Drilltooth. It was doing nothing but grow. The question remained, the question that was left unanswered that night. The question that must be answered before soon.


Should she let the cult be, and see Ishgard torn apart from below?


Or assist the Inquisition, and see it torn apart from above?


Evangeline hugs her knees to her chest as the flames crackle. Either way, someone would burn.

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It took everything within her to not swear out loud in the middle of the street.


Even with all her experience with the merchants of Ul'dah, the ishgardian elite were a wholly different, and almost intolerable, beast. Signing the written agreement with a little more force then necessary, she gave the proper farewells and stormed away. Up numerous steps and foreign doors, she quickly retreated into her rented room, pulling the coat off.


“Blasted pig, may his ventures fail!” She hissed to the wall, before taking a deep calming breath and flopping back onto the goose feather mattress. Hand idly groping for her pack, Rhea managed to wriggle out her worn journal, flipping it open. Staring at her notes, her frown returned, thumb idly brushing over the dried ink.


She who is kin to the mad Wyrm Nidhogg, long since slain by the righteous blades. The fallen dragon Ratatoskr…” She recited from memory. Closing her eyes, she remembered the fevered words of the old man. Just what drove him to be so… forward with beliefs that even the outsiders knew to be considered blasphemous to the Ishgardian City-state? She wasn’t honestly surprised when the Inquisitor and his guard appeared, but certainly seeing such a man be swayed by dew filled eyes and somewhat unbelievable innocent pleading. That girl certainly had the luck of the twelve, that or the man himself was not worth the Inquisitor’s effort. Whichever it was, Rhea was just glad that it apparently had not spread that she had been within the crowd.


Still, the name worried her. Why talk of elder dragons long since dead? For that matter, why was such beliefs so important that it would be passed on even behind the backs of the Clergy? If what this man was saying were true, then the most logical thing would have been for the Clergy to weave Ratatroskr’s name into their own books. There were too many unanswered questions.


“By the wanderer, why am I even concerned about the rantings of a man who may not be of sound mind?” Rhea asked the ceiling. ‘Because you’re curious.’ Her mind answered back. Tail tip thrashing, she growled. “Yes, well, it could just be a waste of time.”


‘You do realize you are arguing with yourself?’


“…..mrgh.” Flopping an arm over her eyes, she sighed. No use arguing with herself, she’d just have to admit to herself. She’s curious. Knowledge that was lost or considered ‘covered up by the church’ would be a welcome addition to her book horde. Rolling over to her stomach, she sighed. Flipping the journal pages back a few, she stared at her schedule. Groping for a piece of graphite, she crossed out a name and circled another. “I suppose a trip to the new settlement in the Hinterlands will need to be pushed up.”

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The room was almost completely clad in darkness, a single lukewarm light of a nearby candle lending some minimal comfort.


A Zweihander, painted with dried blood, was neatly settled horizontally on the floor.


And before the blade, there was an auri woman, of pale features and ivory hair, sat on both knees. Her eyes were closed. Her respiration was low and deep. Body almost inert and motionless.


Meditation was her purpose. To achieve inner peace. Despite the interlocutor that always dared to interrupt her introspection. Orbiting around the sword and the xaela, this shadow, of mirrored attributes and a glinting, unsettling grin observed her. Hounded her. Taunted her. Clamored for her.


"You should slay all of them."




"Inquisitors and knights. Fair and just, they call themselves. You and I, know better than to heed to such fallacies."




"They tarnish the true meaning of what is to be a knight with their mere existence. They claim their work is for the sake of justice, yet the only justice they seek is their selfish own."




The darkness stops between Alexia and the zweihander. Kneels in front of her. Stares intently at her. A chilling hand is brought, gently cradling the chin of the meditating one. Alexia remained silent. The shadow insisted with seductive, venom-laced syllables.


"We must show them what means to be one of the chivalry. We must show them the justice dealt by them on the unfortunate and the innocent. To those who couldn't defend themselves. To those they unjustly called heretics."




"Take the head of the one called Xanadu Mol. Rob the life of the one named Martiallais Heuloix. Cast away from the skies the dragoon. Show the four inquisitors a taste of their own wretched remedy. The souls of those lost claim for their lives. They claim for justice. True justice."


"Be gone." Alexia finally demanded, opening her eyes with a deriding glare towards the dark. "Thou were not called. Thy words are made only of poison. Thy opinion is not of importance. And thou shant ever be. So do not tarry any longer. Vanish in this exact instant. For thou art not to find any lending ears from me."


Her words were enough. Like blessed chants of a priest, they exorcised the shadow of her thoughts, sending it back to the darkness it came from. Breathing deeply, her eyes returned to close. Peace. Inner peace. A temporary relief. But a relief, nonetheless.


"I shall deliver them justice, but only if they give me the proper reason to do so. A watchful eye shall be more than enough. Until the time to draw my blade."


The candle's light is then gutted.

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Ishgard's fire blasted stone and scorched alabaster would be greeted with the rare glimpse of the Eorzean sun that day. A page boy brushes past the dispersing crowd in Saint Valeroyant’s forum clutching onto a scroll case sealed with the emblem of a baying wolf. The boy slips pushes past the doors of the congregation, out of the deceivingly cold weather and into the nearly stuffy yet altogether luxurious warmth of the barracks of the Knight’s Templar and Dragoons. The page presents the scroll case to the guard at the door to Ser Aymeric’s station and is bid to depart, leaving the man on duty to open the heavy double doors and deliver the missive to the ever-busy head of state.


When the seal is eventually broken, this is what would beread


Lord CommanderAymeric,



It is perhaps with heavy heart I regret to inform you that the initial scouting of Mericydia has bared little in terms of the possible whereabouts of Nidhogg and his brood. The isle, at least whereupon we landed, is barren of dragons. Not much remains with the exception of aggressive, voracious, local flora and fauna that impeded progress further inland. If any of the Mericydian kin remain they have yet to reveal themselves, perhaps rightfully so in light of the Allagan razing in years past. Casualties and sickness that occurred while attempting to forge a path inland drained resources much quicker than expected. As such we had resolved to leave markers and make clearings for when Ishgard can truly dedicate itself to uncovering the mysteries of the southern isle in less trying and urgent times.



While the bulk of the forces are returning, I have elected to remain behind in Limsa Lominsa in light of unsettling news. I understand as much as you that now as a member of the Alliance we cannot do as we please any longer and hope to maintain amiable ties to our sister cities. As such I am accompanying Inquisitor Frimont and his group in hunt for the supposedly rogue inquisitor Xanadu Mol. 



According to the intel gathered there seems to be unholy experiments involving dragonkin and void magicks afoot and I am compelled to remain until the possibility of a draconic threat, be it of Nighogg’s machinations or of the former Holy See’s is removed. I pray the hunt for Inquisitor Mol is something you are aware of and that the clergy is not running amok, further putting strain upon the tenuous relation with our allies and the sympathetic dragonkin alike. Until more has come to light, I shall follow them.


I await your orders,


~Orrin de Halgren

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All that could be heard from her office was the ticking of the clock and the scrape of pen tip against paper. Rhea frowned as she continued to write down the formal request for aid, only to go back and cross out certain parts. More minutes passed before she realized she realized she had reached the end of the page and had nothing really usable on the page. With a quiet snarl of rage, she crumpled up the paper and threw it towards the fireplace. Her handmaid looked up from her sweeping up the carpet with old tea leaves, before scooting the paper into the fireplace to burn. The acrid smell of burning ink and parchment filled the room and Rhea sighed.


“Shall I put on another pot of tea Mistress?” The young Dunesfolk asked, though she had already begun to prepare the tea as if knowing the answer. Rhea only nodded before sighing and pulling out another piece of paper. Holding her pen above the paper, she glowered. Asking for help into a possibly dangerous situation wasn’t the hard part; all she needed to do was mention riches and she’d have a group more or less. The problem was how much of the truth could she reveal?


The great Gubal Library was rumored to hold thousands upon thousands of books on every topic imaginable. From exotic recipes to the forbidden arts, scholars around the world would flock to their halls. Hell, she knew from sources that books which could trigger horrible wars could be within those same halls, which was exactly what she was looking for. Standing up suddenly, she turned to the crate of books beside her desk. Pulling out the gem of the collection and the reason she needed to rush the crate out of Ishgardian lands, she carefully pried open the Histories of Dragynkin.


While the contents were less a historical textbook and more of the breakdown of dragons, their subclassifications, and notable dragonkin, it did contain more information on the great wyrms and their sire then all of her books combined. Turning to the bookmarked page, she traced the sketch of Ratotoskr, rearing up on hind legs and ready to breathe down fire upon the knights in the picture. Under the picture were ominous words “She whose cry summoned upon us all Destruction.” While the book didn’t go much into detail about her early life, it was known to the author that she had died before the start of the Ishgardian Holy war against the Dragons, but as to who had killed her or why they had killed her was lost. Mostly because there was a page ripped clean out of the book. Whatever the page revealed was now lost to her, but at least it was a start. At least with the book in her hands, she could assume a few things.


One was that the books obviously existed on the topic, though they were either from 3rd parties or from previous eras. Secondly that the Inquisition was NOT aware of their existence. If they did, then she wouldn’t be holding the histories to begin with. Third, she would need to get to these books as fast as possible, since now that the doors were open, it was very likely that the Inquisition, or at least the more radical parts, would come in to set the books ablaze. Settling back down into her seat, she flipped through the pages, eyes skimming the names of the other elder dragons and their sire.


“What have I gotten myself into?” Rhea asked the clock as her maid returned with a teapot and an apple tart. The tiny Lalafell scrambled up the step stool, laying down the tray within arm’s reach and preparing a cup of tea for her. Exhaling, Rhea put the book aside and picked up her pen. Staring at the parchment, she wondered before putting pen to paper.


Wanted: Adventurers to aid in expedition. Experienced fighters only.

Location: Hinterlands

Rewards: XXXXX gil & spoils (OOC: Im not sure of how much to put here)

Expected duration of expedition: X days travel, X day within location, airship travel will be provided.

More Information will be made available upon signing of confidentiality contract.

Requester: Merchant Rhea Zaheela

References appreciated but not required

...Prettycats preferred.....

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The sealed document arrives by courier to the Inquisitor's desk, marked by several wax seals (of some strange symbol containing a book and a grenade no less) and stamped in bright red ink:








To the Concern of Inquisitor Vidocq,


The fact that myself and my colleagues have taken interest in both the Ratotoskr Cults, and the fate of Inquisitor Mol is not coincidence. I at least, believe the two situations are linked, which is why I am willing to assist you in one, and beg your aid in the other. I am heretic, and you Inquisitor yes, but I can only hope you view yourself as a servant of Ishgard’s people, not of blind faith.


What I know so far is that Ratotoskr is sister to Nidhogg, slain at the founding of the city. According to the Cult, it was the Drake’s sacrifice that gave the twelve power to defeat Nidhogg, and it’s remnants that gave rise to the blood curse that follows us still. They call out for the defeat of Nidhogg, with the aid from Ratotoskr, also known as Drilltooth.


These cults seem dangerous for two reasons, one, their stance that members should take ‘Ratotoskr’s gift’ and drink draconic blood ( an act I have seen myself leads to things with the features of dragons, but almost always lacking the intelligence ). The second, is that they cause tensions with the already shaken townspeople, causing new divides before the old have healed. I have yet to discover any locus of worship for the cult, though I have been told I should be able to ‘hear’ it, based on my handling of Draconic artifacts in the past (such as Wyrmtears). I so far have not had luck as such.


I do not think a harsh hand will help you in this matter, and too aggressively destroying this Cult could turn them from a nuisance to a threat. Cornered dogs bite.


As for why I believe this cult is linked with Inquisitor Mol, that might require a slight explanation. Inquisitor Mol’s pursuit of Ivarault Friont is based on on the premise that Inquisitor Friont is trying to do something very dangerous. Something that could endanger all of Eorzea. There is some evidence that Friont is researching the methods of mating a Voidsent with the corpse of a drake. As you might know, Voidsent often inhabit the bodies of the dead, and larger and more powerful beings attract larger and more powerful voidsent in death. Friont seems to have been researching how to forcibly inject a voidsent into a draconic corpse, creating a being more powerful than each were in life. It is my /personal/ conjecture that the body of Ratotoskr, henceforth undiscovered, is the target she wishes to reanimate. I have no proof other than what I have seen with my own eyes, and the perhaps questionable words of Inqusitor Mol, however I felt that you should know the entire situation.


As much as I dislike your order, someone must have the knowledge in case we are to perish. Do of if what you will, I have faith that whatever decision you make will be more politically sensible than Mol’s. Whether she is wrong or right, she damns herself before she begins by failing to play the game. I can tell only after a few meetings you are not a man to make a similar mistake.


I’ve attached what documents I have, write me if you require clarifications. I await eagerly any information you might have regarding Mol and the cult. It is a new Era Inquisitor, I’m hoping we can overcome old hatreds.



Evangeline Primrose

[align=center]-CONFIDENTIAL - [/align]



A second, near Identical letter would find itself secretly upon the desk of Ser Martiallais Heuloix through ways unknown. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"...Again. Yet one more person manages to open this dumb door. Why do we keep this closed again? Does it even matter if I close it again? Time will come, and yet another person will manage to pry this thing open. Ah wah. Does not matter..." A girl grumbles in frustration.


Dravanian Hinterlands, former home to the Scholars of Sharlayan. And the backdrop to the biggest reservoir of knowledge within Eorzea, the Great Gubal Library. With doors closing behind her, stomping into its halls, this girl, of short and fiery hair, golden eyes, and fancy hat peered along the several corridors and pathways presented to her, mentioned eyes narrowing in pursuit of any trap, monster, or worse, corpse now infesting this maze that is called a library.


"People, treating this place like it is their personal library..." she huffs, producing an incomplete map out of a bag for guidance. “Not that I'm all that different, I guess. Which direction I shall go this sun..." she mumbles to oneself, briefly forgetting that possibly there is more than one intruder within the ivory building. Her reverie is finally broken only after flicking ears captured a trace of sound. Coming her direction, of all things! She didn't take more than a second to squeeze herself behind the nearest bookcase, shortly before a patrol of magicked creatures meandered along the path she was. Pressed against the furniture, she utters not a single word, nor produce a single sound. She just waits. And makes her prayers.


Thump, thump, thump, thump...


The patrol slowly disappears along the infinity of the library's structure. With a laborious sigh of relief, and pulling herself out of the extemporaneous hideaway, Leanne looks along the path where the magic-bound monsters vanished into. With a daring glower, she pulls an arrow from the quiver, readying herself and her bow.


"Whoever made their way in...? I wish them luck. Pray they don't cause any trouble though." she whispers to her lonesome, before making her way in, deeper into the darkness.

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To the Order of Nald'thal,


As a witness to your recent expedition to the Nymian Ruins floating outside of La Noscea's outer reaches, I express my humblest apologies and sincerest sympathies. Unfortunately, despite my personal efforts of aetherial aid, the loss of number and well-being of your up-and-coming thaumaturges could not be prevented.


I would like to express apologies on behalf of the Arcanist Guild of Limsa Lominsa as well, and with my letter is also provided a sizable crate of potent Ethers for your league to use as they see fit.


My letter comes with information as well; the individual responsible for the loss of life amongst your order is an Ishgardian Dragoon known as 'V'aleera'. Within this letter is also a portrait recreated by our best criminal investigators for your use.


I pray this incident does not cause too much grief between our individual guilds, and I would be happy to personally meet with any of your representatives to see this wrong, made right. Together, we can bring this villain to justice.


- Hijiri no Reppu, Maelstrom Officer


(The portrait is not very flattering)





To Ser Aymeric of the Holy See of Ishgard


This letter is written on behalf of Storm Commander R'ashaht Rhiki, and the Maelstrom Escort Expedition to Nymian Ruins on request of the Holy See of the Ishgard's Inquisitors.


To use as few words as possible, we would like to request your approval of a group of four Inquisitors chasing one 'Xanadu Mol'. The request is to know the names of the four individuals deployed into Maelstrom Territory and what their primary and secondary objectives are.


These were the names given to us by them, and we would like to know if these are not only accurate, by sanctioned by your own seal;


Helene La Floret, Frimont Forrlaine, Dammerung and Frienne Crusoe.


I would also appreciate being given any information on a Dragoon known as 'V'aleera', due to possible future criminal charges, and to absolve Ishgard of responsibility if at all possible.


Thank you for your cooperation, and may the Alliance prosper with the inclusion of Ishgard.


- Hijiri no Reppu, Maelstrom Officer





With a sigh, Reppu seals the letters and has them sent out, her eyes closing. She leans back in her chair, her fingers drumming on her desk in a fit of annoyance.


"... I can forgive the Inquisitors being crude and Heil Ishgard. But this V'aleera woman... I will see her drawn and quartered by chocobos."

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  • 2 weeks later...

With most of his preparations for the journey to Amdapoor done, Martiallais signed, sitting down at the desk provided with his room to see the last item on his lengthy to do list completed. Only then would he settle in and rest for the eve.



Madam Inquisitor Floret,


While I am told your duties oft keep you busy and far from the comforts of our home, I pray that this message reaches you on pleasant winds and the Fury herself's good tidings. I was instructed to contact you by one of your colleagues, Inquisitor Vidocq, due to the potential connection between the matters both you and he currently investigate. I speak, of course, of the matters regarding one former Inquisitor Xanadu Mol, the current search for her whereabouts and her intentions.


I, myself, am but a knight in service to our home and the Fury. My involvement in this is due largely to my prior work with former Inquisitor Mol during a matter some moons ago which saw the return of Ishgardian steel, once believed to be lost and then stolen, to it's proper home in the hands of our own Temple Knights. I have attached my personal report regarding that incident as well. In the suns following that, I have encountered former Inquisitor Mol on multiple occasions, both professional and personal. She is...certainly eccentric and records surely show that I, skeptical as I was of her position, sought to verify it personally.


However, despite...or rather because of, my past dealings with her, I would wish to be of aid to you if at all possible. It is a knight's duty to serve, after all. And if mine knowledge or mine shield can be used to prevent harm from coming to the people of Ishgard or those beyond our borders, then I would gladly offer it.


I am well aware of your skill with the bow and the favor you have among our people. I have no doubt that this will be yet another feather in your cap as your aim is guided by the Fury herself. But if there is aught I can do, mayhaps we could meet to discuss what we know in the near future. Given that you are known to be both efficient and effective, for ease I can certainly arrange to rendezvous with you in the field.


Yours in Duty, Honor, and Faith,

-Ser Martiallais Heuloix

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Exhaling heavily, Martiallais Heuloix handed over the sealed letter and offered more than a few coins to the barkeep in the Forgotten Knight. He knew that, when she was within Ishgard's walls, it was far more likely that the recipient he sought would be here rather than what remained of her family's home. For once, the knight wasn't dressed as such, instead seeming far closer to his common blood than when clad in armor for Ishgard's defense.


- - - - -


Lady Primrose,


You will have to forgive the lengthy silence and short missive. Rest and recovery following the trip to Amdapor Keep was, unfortunately, in short supply. Within some suns time, I met with Inquisitor La Floret and simply put the matters which arose from that gathering are those best discussed within short order. In person.


If there were aught else needed to tempt you, know that I procured an Amdapoori text. While I am uncertain if you are able to read it, mayhaps it can be of some use considering the other ongoing investigation. The images depicted within this volume, at the least, are those familiar to many Ishgardians. I can discuss what I recall of the others when next we see one another.


Much and more is afoot, Evangeline. I urge you to tread carefully, just as you requested the same of myself. I shall surely hold you to your word, at the very least.


Yours in Duty, Honor, and Faith,

-Ser Martiallais Heuloix

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Carried by the mystical and strange hands of Moogles, this letter somehow finds itself carried towards the person of one Inquisitor Xanado Mol.







We must needs speak. If anyone knows what it feels like to be hunted, to pursue an unpopular purpose, it is I. The words you have spoken to myself and those who called you companion and friend, I know not which were truth and which were lies. However I do know that I am willing to listen, and to support your aims if I find them just, regardless of what the Inquisition or even common morals think of them. 



Pray, do not travel on this path alone, a mind with none to argue with but itself is quick to become lost. I have learned that lesson the hard way. Regardless of what you tell me, I swear that I will not use the information against you. 



Please trust with the truth, those who have trusted you. 



In Confidence, 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Friont tilts his head as Orrin lands, the cold air of the Sea of Clouds gusting about between them. Orrin’s gaze hidden behind the four unblinking red eyes of his helm. Orrin doesn’t even let the supposedly dead inquisitor speak before he is at full charge, spear low with what seemed to be with murderous intent. 


Friont is unmoved, only opening his hand to reveal a simple gil coin.  "You're as tenacious as your father, I'll give you that."  He flicks the coin into the air, sending it spinning.  Aether gathers around it for just a moment, then it shoots straight at Orrin’s heart like a golden laser beam.


Suddenly, breathlessness, everything felt so heavy, his spear veers off course, his hurried strides into battle become pained staggered stumbles, his vision, going dark.  Anstarra, Nihka, Evangeline, Martiallais, all could see from that one far off island the profile of the Dragoon collapsing mere fulms away from the inquisitor with the golden gil, the beam of light that shot it dissipating into the fog. 


“Tell Milette I said hello."




Silence. Darkness. Numbness. 


“That was the Goddess’ last for you, Lover.” A painfully familiar voice crooned “Even the endless have their limits in patience, but I am still here for you.” Her words ended with a purr “She was no good for you anyway, she never cared for you like I did.” 


The rustling of chains. Twilight. Biting cold.


“Remember who kept you warm those cold winter years? Even long after I died.” There was a cruel, amused savoring of those final two words. 


A cry of pain. A flash of Crimson. Warmth.


“Every time you fought, you felt me with you.” A laugh “And you would seek every opportunity to do so, to feel my touch.” There is a retired sigh.


More rustling. A growing, fiery light in the distance. Sweltering heat.


“But Lover you always kept me at an arm’s length away, no matter how dire, how desperately you needed me. Why do this to yourself? I am here. You need only embrace me. I’ll protect you like I always have.”


Roaring. Light. Hellfire


“That is right, I’ll be here. Always, even when no one else will have you.” There is a pause “I will not let anyone else have you.” 


 “I am so glad I can finally hold you.”


And with that Orrin’s eyes opened, gasping and coughing, he had the taste of a potion on the back of his tongue.

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"You are to avoid all contact with Xanadu Mol. If your 'honor' dictates that you disobey me, Ser Heuloix, you will be seen as her accomplice and treated as such. We are done discussing this matter."


Inquisitor Helene La Floret's calmly stated order echoed in Martiallais' mind as he groaned, slowly moving about as the first shards of light began to brighten the office. With his gaze drawn to the familiar bell adorning the Dufresne house sigil, the knight's eyes turned downward as he let out a slow breath. Shifting carefully on the oversized couch, he eased from beneath the familiar arm, brushing some crimson hair from her face as he sat up.


With bandages around both arms and despite the protest of his body, he rose to his feet and stretched gingerly. He was all too grateful for potions and a gentle, healing touch but he knew well that he needed to settle and focus his thoughts...if such a thing were possible now, since a full measure rest certainly did not seem to be. 


"The appearance of Inquisitor Friont provided answers and even more questions. Since the beginning, we have been in pursuit of shadows and phantoms."


Qarn. Nym. Amdapor. Each instance there had been proof that someone had been steps ahead of their goal. Missing tomes, evidence of spellwork, the corpse of a wyvern infused with a creature of the void....even void beings themselves all awaited in the place of their quarry.


"And yet he was certainly alive and well, despite Inquisitor La Floret's claims that death had claimed him weeks prior. Even Ser Halgren stated to have been in attendance for the man's cremation."


A frown settled on his features as he thought of the dragoon. While they'd only met, in brief, previously, Martiallais knew little of the hyur. Rumors of reputation were not something he oft gave weight to but his single minded focus on fighting, even alone, had nearly been the end of him. It reminded him of V'aleera, in a way that was unflattering to neither, unfortunately.


"Still, he was certainly skilled. Friont's skills were not....overstated to say the least."


Briefly, the image of fiery rocks raining down above the group flashed in his mind. That they'd managed to survive was in itself something of a miracle. They had been informed that he was a quite skilled mage, among other things. Turning slowly at the waist, he let out a soft breath.


"That Friont has...accomplished a measure of his clearly heretical goals is true. The...infused dragon was evidence to that. With it most certainly under his control, it will surely need to be dealt with. Mayhaps loosing both Sers Halgren and Lhuil's spears upon it would be for the best. With a dragoon of his own aiding him, the question of how far and wide Friont's aid runs is...unavoidable. Are La Floret and her fellow inquisitors part of his deception or victims? More questions, fewer answers. And even now, we remain trapped within this web doing the bidding of one inquisitor while tempting the ire of another. Xanadu Mol was correct, validated even but her actions likewise confirmed La Floret's impression of her. Attempting to kill an innocent in order to prevent a potential larger threat from taking form..."


Low, sleep filled mumblings from the couch brought Martiallais from his thoughts, turning his attention Eliane. His features softened before turning sad.


"Mayhaps I should depart. Bringing the inquisition's eye upon myself is one matter but upon those whom I consider family and friends, such would be unforgivable."


A flash of emerald reflected from atop the desk caught his eye and after another moment, he padded over to seek out the source, amused by the piles of papers, partly configured items, and the occasional frilly, feathered quill existing together in some sort of chaotic harmony. Leaning over, he found himself peering at a small, crystalline shard attached to a necklace.


"How unfortunate then, Ser Mar, that so many care so much for one who cares naught for himself."


As usual, Evangeline had a way with her words when she truly meant to. Gently lifting the Nymean crystal, he found himself staring at his reflection, warped and distorted upon each of the varying surfaces. Despite his thoughts, the knight found himself wearing a smile at the irony of it all.


"Disobeying inquisitors, heeding heretics, even venturing to a cultist gathering for the Inquisition. Truly change has swept over myself as it does this land."


Lowering the necklace back to the desk, Martiallais shook his head, sweeping hair back over his shoulders as he made his way back to the couch. Easing himself onto the cushions carefully, he grunted as he found himself being used as an impromptu pillow.


"If this is the calm before the storm, I cannot help but wonder what the tempest itself will bring."

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A wax-sealed letter would find its way to the tribunal, addressed to the high council.


To the charges brought against Inquisitor Xanadu Mol for the murder of Inquisitor Friont, I, Orrin de Halgren, bannerman of House Fortemps, Dragoon of Ishgard hereby testify forthwith. My words are my own and without any coercion, my beliefs true and solely in interest to proper justice be meted out.



Inquisitor Xanadu Mol has stated time and again to be hunting Inquisitor Friont, which of course should be taken as madness to all who have attended his cremation. However, In the Sea of Clouds, north of Ok’ Zundu, I have come to witness a man with which my own eyes and ears is indistinguishable from the supposedly late Inquisitor. Furthermore, Inquisitor Mol was there, in direct opposition to Inquisitor Friont’s goals. I have my damaged armor, and opened wounds to corroborate the violent exchange. Even if the aforementioned was in fact a very well put together glamor that mimicked not only appearance but speech and knowledge as well, hunting down a copy does not seem the motive of a murderer of the original. Inquisitor Friont is alive and by extension Xanadu Mol cannot be responsible for his murder.



With my testimony concluded I wish to plead that while I cannot speak on the other, coinciding crimes heaped upon Inquisitor Mol, let it be known that her path has brought her upon the discovery of void magicks mixed with Dragon-kind. Far reaching, evil, unholy rituals that have been discovered from the Floating City of Nym to the Dravanian Forelands with which we border with. This is a threat that risks to consume man and dragonkind alike and I am certain that detaining or executing her runs risks of letting a larger, more catastrophic calamity to come about. If we are to atone for our sins brought about by our forefathers we must quell this most heinous and immoral act perpetrated by what may be Inquisitor Friont himself.



May the Righteousness of The Fury guide you down the correct path,



Orrin de Halgren


A more perfunctory note would find way to The Congregation of our Knights Most Heavenly


To the Lord Commander,



As per my previous experiences with the void, I, Orrin de Halgren upon my own impetus have responded to the call of the dragons of Anyx Trine. Despite some initial resistance my aid was received and with it confirmed the discovery of the blight. Indeed the dragons were afflicted with something that could reanimate the corpses of dragons long after their heads were severed, their bellies slashed and wings plucked. The infected were routed and the infection cleansed. However and in corroboration with a thaumaturge, the source was voidal in nature, much akin to the experiences I had in previous reports.



Be wary of dark magicks afoot, all Dragoons sent on investigation of…abnormal dragon activity must be made cautious and wary. 



In the meanwhile, I shall investigate further as to the source.



Fury guide you,



Orrin de Halgren

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  • 2 weeks later...

Returning from his studies and the unexpected run in with the Inquisition out within the Amdapor ruins, Gallien with Syros by his side as always could not get the nagging situation from within his head.... The whole situation bugged him and looking quietly to the sleeping fairy"...those books"


Arriving back to Camp Bronze Lake, where he as called home for the past moon. He greeted the Inn keep as he moved hastily to his room, setting his things down he scrambled around the mess of a desk he has with all his notes from Wanderer's Palace, and his first run in with the Inquisition. Finally finding a quill pen and a piece of parchment he sat down and began to write.....


Dear Sir Halgren,


Hello, I do hope this letter finds you well, I imagine the injuries you sustained are healing rather well by now.


More to the point of the letter, I have run into the Inquisition once more within the ruins of Amdapor City, they were after Xandu once again, and I happened to be doing some research in the area. Thanks to this last incursion I have taken an interest in this entire situation, and more relevant the knowledge being tossed around within it.


I ask of you, to pass on word to Helene, that I wish to speak with her as soon as possible, mail will be good enough as I know she and the rest of the Inquisitors are surely busy. I will be at Camp Bronze Lake, for the foreseeable suns.


Thank you, for your time and assistance


Gallien Vyese


After Finishing the letter he quickly sealed it and sent it out, hoping that it will reach Orrin in due time. Under his breath as he walked back to his room "...Those books, what knowledge they hold, and Xandu herself...Sharlayan Astrology I think they called it" looking up to Syros now floating next to him. "I think things will be getting more interesting very soon my friend"

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  • 2 weeks later...

It was a few days after the ... incident. The smell of smoke was finally washed out of her hair, and hopefully the men and women living in that chamber had calmed down. On an airship to Ishgard, Nihka clutched a small box close to her chest and watched the gloomy clouds part around the holy city. Ishgard itself was massive, and majestic. Even its airship docks held an air of the age and pride that oozed from every corner of its stone construction.


Nihka was uncertain how old the docks actually were. In fact, despite their apparent age, she assumed a great deal of this grand city had been rebuilt several times over, over the centuries of war. Perhaps the large platform had originally been built for black chocobos, and only been repurposed for airships recently. All told, it didn’t matter, and her musings drifted away as the ship docked and she set foot on solid ground.


Wind whipped at the scarf she had tied over her hair, frigid enough that she had to keep her ears covered. Muffling the sound of everything around her was uncomfortable, but losing her ears to frostbite would be more uncomfortable. The docks were in the upper levels of the city, the Pillars as she’d heard it called, but not quite as high as the high houses. Those structures towered up above her, looking down both figuratively and literally.


Up here, ladies in fine clothes walked and chattered with one another and men strode with purpose. What that purpose was, Nihka wasn’t sure. She had her own. The frills on their clothes, both the men and the women, Nihka mused were probably for trapping heat. In weather like this, heavy skirts and bustles and multi layered jackets were not merely fashionable, but a necessity to survival.


Nihka wasn’t fond of how much she had to bundle up when she visited. She almost, almost missed the fire crystal... but that was a long time ago, in a story that has long since ended. Such magical protection wasn’t feasible for the whole of a population.


Around the path, to her right, she walked by the Jeweled Crozier. The marketplace, up with the nobles. She had heard that some of the merchants would refuse to even sell to those on the lower levels. When they did, sometimes they might charge more. Charging more to those who had less money. It made no sense to her.


Nihka did her best to avoid notice as she walked through the city. She wasn’t a native, miqo’te were rare here, but she also didn’t look like a rich adventurer. People might take her for some poor cat venturing up too high in the city, or a poor adventurer (which was technically the truth and far preferable). Down in the Foundation she was marginally more comfortable. There were more adventurers about and more working class citizens of the Holy See; it was easier to blend in.


The smell of the Skysteel Manufactory touched her nostrils, and made her smile a little. Knowledge, innovation, progress. That it was science in the name of war soured her opinion slightly. By the time she got to the Brume her mood was dark. By the time she got to the Brume, her thoughts had turned to Eva.


What was she going to do about Eva?


The woman had threatened an old man with a bomb, and could have killed them all when she tried to throw a grenade under a door. Future work would need to be done as far, far away from the known heretic and violent anarchist as possible, despite the fact that the woman’s stated goal was certainly beneficial to all.


Eva suspected that someone was attempting to summon a primal in the image of a dead dragon. Since that particularly dramatic reveal, Nihka had done some research and learned something frightening.


It was feasible.


What literature she could find referred to them as eikons, rather than primals, and was spotty at best. However, rumors abounded of a group of moogles summoning their own primal in the Shroud which defied all logic since there was no pre-existing precedent for it. With a little work, Nihka was able to compile a list of rumored primals that the Warrior of Light was said to have fought. A long dead saint, a dark rider, a chittering insect, among others.


While many were the gods of various beast tribes, those that weren’t stood out to her. They were ideals, concepts, old icons from long ago. They represented hope for their people, and somehow had manifested just like the well-known primals that plagued Eorzea. They drew form from the hopes and dreams of those who worshiped them. They were very similar to a ragged old statue in a broken room in the Brume of a long dead dragon.


In her research, Nihka decided on some terminology of her own. An eikon was a summoned god, a being of aether that drew from the emotions and adulation of a people. A primal was a being, an eikon, that represented a primal force of nature: fire, earth, air, water. She wanted to get her hands on the book that Eva referenced, it could confirm or refute her theories, but until then she had to work with what she knew.


Lost in her own thoughts, she went down the stairs, down the ramps, into the Brume, and made her way towards the meeting place of the cult of drilltooth. Here, it was dangerous, homeless and destitute people huddled around whatever source of warmth they could find. Hopefully, the people in the broken down place would be willing to hear her out. She had medicine, she wanted to help. She knew what it was like to be sick and cold, to be alone, hungry, to be homeless. She knew what it was like to have lost everything.


Briefly, she thought about apologizing for Eva. No, at this point, she didn’t want to be associated with the woman at all. She did this for the people, not for her.


With luck, she might convince the preacher, the leader of the cult, to look into the source of his funding. Even if he was unwilling to talk, at least the medicine would help make their lives a little easier.


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  • 3 weeks later...

It was a while until he found someone at Zenith.  The sun he went there, he was unable to find anyone, so was unable to give an answer to Anstarra, Orrin, or..ugh.  Sea Wolf names are hard to remember.  He can easily recognize her though.  Klyn..something or other.  He let out a soft sigh as he found a parchment, and began to write.  He doesn't know how to reach the Sea Wolf, and can easily reach Anstarra to let her know what has happened.  But Orrin?  He must make amends, and this is the best way he can begin.


Ser Orrin Halgren,


I hope this letter finds you well, for I have good news.  I have finally been granted audience by the dragons who reside in Zenith.  They will come to our aid when the time comes should he dare try to defile her grave.  There will be no need for the tools we used to defend Ishgard's skies.  This letter will be brief save for one detail. Do NOT go in the air should Ishgard wish to send aid. I also wished to meet with you, in person.  I wished to apologize for my harsh words, and I feel that I can only do so face to face.  Where would the best place to meet be?  I hope to see you soon.

Skies be clear,

Enju Abbagliato


He sent it off to be delivered by moogle.  What else can one do now besides wait?  He looked along his weapon, and the stone that gave him power.  One that can easily turn against him if it so chooses.  Perhaps with this fight, he will not have doubt, as he did in the battle where he sacrificed everything for Eorzea, and Ishgard in his own way.


She would be proud...

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Dawn was breaking in the east. Beyond that she knew nothing.


     For the last eight hours her world had consisted of beating wings, frigid air, the softly wheezing bundle in her arms, and the constant pain in her joints. It had been a nerve wracking journey into the churning mists, riding blind for hours with nothing but the sounds of the lead chocobo to guide her. Yet there had still been anchors. The scents and sounds of the earth had told their own stories of her journey through woodlands and mountains. Here in the sky there was nothing but beating wings, frigid air, the softly wheezing body in her arms and the faint light of dawn breaking in the east.


      Bending over her charge for perhaps the hundredth time that night, Klynzahr attempted to shield her more effectively from the biting wind. Stiff with cold herself, the sea wolf could do nothing but slide her own arm around Xanadu's horned head to break the wind a little. Her chilled fingers burrowed deeply into the rented chocobo's feathers, never attempting to guide the bird. Blind and lost, Klynzahr was gambling two lives on the homing instincts of a tailfeather hunter's chocobo.


      She jerked awake sharply as the chocobo's landing sent a lance of pain through her back. Panic swelled in the blind Sea Wolf's chest, muting her senses with fear. Straining her eyes to their limit, showed nothing but a green blur. She was utterly lost.


     Then she slowly became aware of new leaves whispering overhead. The air was cool, with taste of spring greens, and to her left a small brook babbled over stones. Two pairs of footsteps were approaching, with light leather boots on hard packed earth.


    "Please," She called out shakily to the pair, "Where is this?"


     Their reply sent a warm shiver of hope through her. "Tailfeather!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

The soothing sound of flowing waters served as an all too different back drop compared to the screams and pleas for mercy that still echoed around the knight as he lay suddenly awake, staring at the familiar ceiling.


Rubbing a palm over his face, he climbed from the bed, a sense dread lingering in the air despite the serene surroundings and pleasant memories that simply being at the Bobbing Cork brought to mind. Whether it was the weight of what they sought to stop finally bearing down upon him or lingering thoughts from his conversation with Leanne that turned dark and sinister, Martiallais wasn't sure what had caused the nightmare but he knew that, for now at least, he'd helped set wheels in motion to, hopefully, contribute to the group's success. The Twelve knew they needed all the aid they could get in the days to come.


Finding himself staring out over the clouds in the Shroud, he shook his head then took a seat at the desk and began penning the first of a pair of missives.



Lady Primrose,


I trust this letter will find you in good spirits, despite recent events. As I suspected she would, the Lady Dufresne was all too eager to lend her aid to your goal of creating a more lasting and productive means of combating the growing cult presence in the Brume. You will forgive me, of course, for leaving discussing the specifics and monetary needs to the both of you. While I consider myself adequately read and taught, I also recognize mine limits.


On another note, mayhaps we should pay a visit to our mutual friend while she recovers. Assuming, of course, that she remains still and in one place to do so which is saying something in itself. Keeping her abreast of current events will, one hopes, ease her mind somewhat as were I in her position I would constantly wonder what was happening while being confined for recovery. Tis just a thought.


Be well, Evangeline. I am sure I shall see you soon.


Yours in Honor, Duty, and Faith,

-Martiallais Heuloix



Passing the short missive off for delivery as he made his way from the inn, Martiallais looked north, towards his home. He'd come to the Shroud in part to make preparations of his own for the battle ahead, afterall. He was entirely certain, however, that Ishgard would and could make due without him for a few moons' time. And there was surely no harm in making a few more pleasant memories here in the Shroud.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Five shots later her hands were still shaking. The encounter at the church doors reeled through her mind in a continuous replay of sounds and sensations. Twelve hours before, she had been wracking her brain for any slim chance of forcing a peaceful settlement. Somehow the impossible had been achieved, the cult subdued without a drop of blood spilled.



Where had it gone so wrong?


"Ratotoskr, Ratotoskr"


Their chants enveloped her in river of passion and fear, the mob carried her onwards, with homemade weapons jostling her along the way...



She extended her hand for another drink, palm open.


Her open palms rose into the air, leading the cultists to join their surrendering leader.


The rasping of cloth on glass paused and a bottle opened with a chink. The innkeeper didn't need to ask and he was wise enough to remain silent.



They rustled behind her muttering protests. She couldn't have guessed how many hung back resisting. There were inquisitor's shouting, weapons falling to the ground, and orders rushing between the sides. One moment Sir Heuloix stood beside her, the next moment she could not find him. Eva was moving too fast to follow.


Somewhere to her left a voice lifted, crying out for drilltooth's protection.


The warm glass tapped lightly against her knuckles and she shifted her hand to take it. Over the last ten days, the Forgotten Knight's bartenders had grown accustomed to the dance that her gnarled hands played. His steps were smooth and silent.


"I will have that man, Now!"


It was inquisitor Vidoq's voice, rising above the babble of his mass arrest. Cries of protest rose from the stragglers. Then an explosion obliterated all other sounds.


Briefly she considered asking for the bottle.


Ice cold cobblestones clawed at her hands and knees, rebels screamed, inquisitor's barked orders....


The words were too great of an effort.


Another explosion shook her to the core. Footsteps ran past in every direction, inquisitor's bellowed, some desperate soul set his boot squarely on her left hand, stumbling at she pulled it away. For one moment they tangled in a heap on the icy streets. Then the escaping cultist took flight.


The hot whiskey seared a path down her throat.



"I will have her!"


With those four words Klynzahr's mind froze again. For several moments she sat in a fog of denial and fear, utterly unconscious of the tavern sounds around her. Then sluggishly her mind slid back to a crowd strung to breaking with passion and fear.


"Ratotoskr, Ratotoskr"


The cries washed over her, while her mind struggled numbly to orient itself against the shock. They had taken Eva and six shots later she could not stop her hands from shaking.

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Evangeline was afraid.


It had taken some time, for its tendrils to worm their waypast her defenses of confidence and determination. Yet it had, and now, Evangeline was afraid.


Fear was a strange thing you see, one that is often maligned and misunderstood. For while many things are called fear, they all spawn from one universal source. The fear from which all fears are bred, the progenitor of all the tiny terrors that haunt our days.


The fear of the unknown.


For five days the Inquisitors had questioned her, for five days she had sat in stone rooms surrounded by iron implements coated in caked blood and charred flesh. For five nights she had sat in her cell, corridors echoing with the screams of those less fortunate than she, air thick with the stench of cooked meat.


Yet it was not only for herself she feared, but for others. Companions who went out to face fire and death to defy a god, while she sat locked in a cell. Companions who she should be standing alongside.


Evangeline huddled on the straw mat, drawing her body close as she tried to force out images of the past. Instead she kept faces in her mind, the only ones she could rely on now. A 

Roegadyn beauty with a broken nose, a fine featured duskwight in the armor of a temple Knight, and even…


Even a blonde haired Au Ra, her pink eyes forever locked in an expression of disdain.


She huddled on her mat and says a silent prayer to any god that might listen.





"Keep them safe."

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Anstarra Silverain, lieutenant of the Maelstrom's First Foreign Levy, liaison to Coerthas, sometime Adventuress, long-ago graduate of the Gridanian Lancers' guild, onetime aspirant to Ul'dahn nobility, former bodyguard, secretary, mercenary and Dragoon... was extremely disappointed in herself.


"Gods damn it."


Principally this state of being came about because as she stood on one of the grandiose, ancient, soaring, gravity-defying walkways surrounding Tharl Oom Khash, and asked herself how in Hydaelyn's name she had come to be here, in this place and time, preparing to face a mad former Inquisitor alongside dragons and dragoons alike, she had come to the inescapable conclusion that it was almost entirely her fault.


"Gods damn it."


Distantly, in the recesses of her mind, she could hear another voice laugh in mocking amusement. How convenient were it truly a psychosis... but no, this was just the other part of her, more persona than personality, the one whose mask she had worn in order to escape the unwanted burdens of being a hero.


"I'm NOT though! I'm not a hero!"


The empty vault of the sky - so grand, at this height - gave no reply. Inside, Skybreaker only laughed harder.


Anstarra sighed.


Down below, the figures of the Ishgardian knights, drilling and patrolling, were virtually ant-like at this distance. Small wonder, in what might well have been an amphitheater for dragons, in ages past. Those men and women down there, they were heroes. Noble Orrin too, obviously, and bold Enju, helping prepare for the conflict. Even Leanne, for all that she and Anstarra did not get along, was undoubtedly a hero. As were the others who intended to fight in this battle, and those who had contributed. Even her beloved, kind and pacifistic Nihka, was a hero in her way; she fought when she had to, not because she wanted to, and she saved others' lives. Those were the actions of a hero.


So different, from herself.


Anstarra used to tell herself she didn't want to be a hero because it was an inconvenience. She didn't want her everyday life tangled up in adulation and obligation. And ever since her defeat at X'zarann's hands, and the... geas, he had put on her (if not mystical, then certainly psychological, and just as binding if not more), she had been shorn of any need to worry about it. No Skybreaker, no prodigal fighter from a land of killers, no hero, no worries, nothing. Just whatever amusements and projects she launched herself into.


But... more recently, she'd been forced to acknowledge the truth of why she had never wanted to be a hero. Because a hero was someone who fought for others, and she had only ever fought for herself. Oh, she'd learned fear for others, and caring. Had almost gone mad when Nihka was taken. But that risking of self had been for herself, because Nihka was hers, her beloved, and it hurt Anstarra herself to lose her. Of course she would avenge such a thing, and did. And when she wrought bloody, murderous retribution on the man who took her fiancee.. it was not for Nihka's own good.


Anstarra let out a slow, shivering breath, as she remembered both the horror on her lover's face, and the depths of hatred in her own heart, for Weylan. That beast still coiled within her. Within her soul, the soul of a killer, who fought only for herself... clearly not a hero by any means.



So why was she here?



Why was she standing at the roof of the world, waiting to engage in a life-and-death struggle against gods-knew what odds, to prevent, of all things, the summoning of a bloody Primal that might well manifest on a scale not too unlike bloody gods-blighted Bahamut? This was.. was Warrior of Light stuff. Hero stuff. So why was she, Anstarra, here? They had plenty of fighters, warriors, yes, heroes. And artillery, and allied dragons, and just... they didn't need her. So why?


Images floated before her, reasons, justifications; irritation with Xanadu, retribution against Friont, a global sense of self-preservation, a sense of possessiveness over Enju and attachment to Orrin (or was it the other way around? or both at once..), vague pseudo-patriotism for Ishgard, her own pride...


All these were valid excuses, and could hold up to outside scrutiny... but searching herself, the most vivid image reared its uncomfortable head again. Of a woman led off in chains, for liberating fools. Of another woman, broken and sobbing, to see her taken. Of the reason, the knowledge of the plot that led poor, desperate men and women to that place, turning them into pawns that needed to be rescued by the woman.


A need to validate that sacrifice. That pain. To vindicate.. and avenge them.


Anstarra gritted her teeth, staring down at the site. She hadn't acted then, couldn't.. but she could act now.



"FINE. Just this bloody once."



She turned, and lifted herself up on her chocobo, so that they could go down and join the other damned idiot heroes.

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There are many kinds of heroes on this star, and nowhere is that more apparent than the embattled land of Eorzea.  Faced with threat after threat, the brave women and men of that land rise beyond their limits to face down armies, gods and monsters.  They are a courageous people, and their heroism takes on many forms.



A scarred man fights his years and his upbringing to stand sentinel at the edge of a better world.  A bitter woman with nothing to gain watches the skies because she has everything to lose.  A loyal knight has risked everything he has worked for because honor and duty come in many forms.  A dreamer sacrifices herself for strangers because no one else would.  A lost soldier holds his spear pointed towards the darkness because it reminds him of where he is.



A woman who has spent her entire life hated and degraded summons her will to face one last day because the easier path is rarely the right one.



Xanadu pulled on her boots, then stood from the edge of the bed.  Tailfeather smelled like chocobo shite and unbathed hunters, and she would be glad to be rid of it.  Her hat, an old beaten black cone, hung from a hook on the wall, and she took it in hand, running her thumbs over the matted felt.


For a moment she was transported back to the start of this whole venture, out in the beating sun of the Sagolii.  She'd been wearing this hat then, and Friont had commented on it.  He was tall, even for an Elezen, with his wild black hair and eyepatch he cast a rather romantic figure, if one went for that sort of thing.  The sun was sinking, and his shadow seemed to stretch for malms across the sands.  "The hat doesn't do you any favors," he'd said.


Was that really less than a year ago?  Thinking back Xanadu saw herself as so much younger, awed by her first mission for The Inquisition, studying under a true hero of Ishgard.  "Sir?"  Her voice had been so small then, weaker than she could ever remember it being.  If her voice had been larger, if she'd been less awed and more of herself then maybe she would have seen it coming.  She could have slipped a knife between his ribs right then.


He'd reached out and flicked the wide brim of the hat, "It makes you look like a witch.  You know we're supposed to hunt those."


She hadn't responded.  He'd found that damned Belahdian tablet about Bahamut.  Then he'd called off their archaeological expedition and told her to meet him in Ishgard.  Of course she'd been locked out.  It took her a moon to get back into the city, connections and position be damned.  An Au Ra claiming to be a highborn Inquisitor?  Impossible.  She was sure some of the guards had recognized her, and had thought maybe they'd finally be rid of her.


Friont had come and gone to The Tribunal, taking with him forbidden texts about Dravanians and Primals, and it had all come together.  Moons of chasing him, fighting, being hunted by her own order, and it had all finally come to this.


The Grave of Ratotoskr.  The place where Thordan and The Knights Twelve had fought her and her brother Nidhogg a millennium ago.  The holiest site in all of Dravania and Ishgard.  Friont was coming.  They were ready.


Xanadu Mol pulled on her hat and glanced in the small mirror on the bedside table.  Someone had once told her that her eyes, a luminescent pink, were the eyes of the demon.  Her horns, unlike some other Au Ra, didn't sweep backwards elegantly, but curled threateningly around her cheekbones, ending in sharp points on level with her mouth.  Her scales, a midnight black, creeped down out from under her hair and up from her neck to her lips, making her seem even more alien.  And he was right, the hat made her look like a witch.


She smiled, and watched the face in the mirror twist into something from an Ishgardian nightmare, predatory and cunning.  Back then she hadn't been able to tell him that looking like a witch was the point.  When love isn't forthcoming, a cunning woman can always rely on fear to keep herself alive.


Two women who hate each other work towards the same goal because while their methods may be different, they would both die before abandoning their charge.



Helene La Floret passed through the halls of The Tribunal like a storm.  The servants and minor aides and apprentices stayed well out of the woman's way.  She pushed open the door to her office, intending to grab her bow and begone, but paused as she saw that she had a guest.


Frienne Crusoe was sitting on Helene's desk examining her paperwork.  "You spelled 'imminent' incorrectly."


Helene put a hand on her hip and sighed, "Don't you have a children's tears to freeze on their cheeks, Experiment?"


The old nickname made Frienne's face clench up in irritation, but it it just fell into the endless pool of irritation she'd collected over the years.  That well would never run dry.  "You're going to Tharl Oom Khash, then?"


"Of course.  You were there when Frimont turned, and you heard the whole story from Dragoon Halgren.  He's been working with Friont this whole time.  I don't know exactly what he's planning, but if there's even a chance they're right about a primal then I plan on being there to stop it and take Friont in to stand trial."


Frienne snorted, "Please.  You and I both know Friont's dead.  I did the examination of his body myself.  It was him."


Helene grinned, "That familiar with his body are you?  Frienne, I didn't know you had it in you.  Wait until the gossips hear."


Frienne just rolled her eyes, "Enough with the jokes, Helene.  Do you honestly think he's going to be there?"


She shrugged, "Maybe.  It's hard to believe, but I've heard weirder.  The Archbishop and The Knights Twelve turned into primals.  Maybe Friont had a twin brother, or glamoured a corpse.  I don't know, but I intend to find out myself."


Frienne pushed off of the desk, "Well I don't believe it, and I'll be there when Mol is proven to be behind this whole farce.  Then I'll push her off The Witchdrop myself."


Helene smirked, "If you're right I'll give her arse a kick right along with you."  The two women shared something almost friendly for just a moment, and then Helene snatched her bow.  "We'd better get going then.  We don't want to miss it.  Speaking of, where in the seven hells is Dammerung?"


And one man, who fought his way up from nothing on the strength of his sword arm and the courage in his breast falls because even those most deserving of the title of hero are not armies, gods or monsters.  They are mortal, and the only thing guaranteed to mortals on this star is death.



The Gold Saucer was more opulent than Dammerung could ever have imagined.  Growing up in The Brume he'd never have even believed that such a place could exist.  Laid out before him on the massive table was a banquet fit for kings, and beautiful women of all shapes and sizes, dressed in the most scandalous clothing he'd ever seen, catered to his every whim.


"Wow," he said.  "Helene really knows how to throw a party.  Where is she, anyroad?"


His host, a tall Elezen in the flowing robes of the Ul'Dahn elite, seemed familiar, but he couldn't quite place it.  He knew he'd never met a man with hair that white, and that broken nose would have been instantly recognizable anywhere.  "I'm sure she's just been distracted," the man said.  "Preparing for a trip to The Grave of Ratotoskr must keep even a woman like her incredibly busy."


Dammerung laughed, "That's the truth.  Getting up there the first time took forever, and now with the dragons of Zenith covering the air approach it's even worse."


The man was Helene's manservant, though he didn't really seem the type.  From what he knew of Helene it seemed like she'd have picked someone more handsome.  "Ah, so you have to move up through Mourn and Anyx Trine, then."


Dammerung nodded, watching the way the man shuffled the deck in his hand.  it seemed like a nervous habit.  The cards were ruffled, flipped, spun, twisted and turned almost like magic.  It was hypnotizing.  "Yeah, it's a hell of a walk."


The man nodded, then tilted his head, "What was the Dravanian name for it, again?  I'm terrible with their words."


"Tharl Oom Khash," Dammerung said, downing another drink.  Then he looked around.  The serving women were gone, it was just the two of them in the room.  "Where are the other guests?  Wasn't this supposed to be a party?  I thought that girl Jana or Gaillien would show up, at least."


The man's hand moved, and Dammerung felt a stinging sensation in his throat.  He reached for it, and he felt the rigid edges of a playing hard.  Then he felt the blood.  Immediately he reached for his sword, but the man's hand moved again and Dammerung watched, confused, as his hand fell to the floor, free of his arm.


He surged forward, knocking over the table, flipping it, but the man dodged to the side.  More cards flew, and Dammerung fell to his knees.  Then, the man seemed to shimmer.  His white hair turned black, the broken nose straightened, and one crystal blue eye vanished, revealing a dry, empty socket.  Inquisitor Ivarault Friont smiled as his glamour faded, and he pulled an eyepatch from his robes, replacing it on his face.  He was so tall.  Dammerung should have known from the height.  He should have seen it coming.  Where were the other guests?


Friont walked over to the dying man, and knelt in front of him, smiling gently.  "Thank you for being so forthcoming with the information, my friend.  Really, the Inquisition should have taught you to be More Subtil."

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A loud roar and the fluttering of leathery wings startled Orrin awake. Almost immediately he kicked off his bedroll and reached for his weapon that was just by his side. As his hand came upon the haft of the spear he realized he was currently looking up at not clear skies, but the ceiling of his officer’s tent. Soon enough he heard the familiar, almost therapeutic, sound of soldiers shouting drills; the roar being nothing more than the grinding of heavy metal against wood as cannons and dragonslayers were re-positioned and calibrated, the wings were nothing but loose flap of his tent caught in the wind. His breathing slowly calmed and he fell back onto his roll with a sigh. After what felt like a bell he picks himself up and donned his armor. Cradling his helm under his left arm, he pushed past the entrance of the tent and was greeted with blinding light that forced him to bring his armored claw of a hand to block his eyes. 


It had been nearly a moon since Orrin had heard the voices of other people, nearly a moon since he had something other than charred Hropken meat or ill-prepared kupo nuts. It was not, however, his longest stint in the wilds alone. After Reillette, he had been gone so long that some had believed him to have gone rogue. None had bothered to come for him then, no “Dragoon Hunter” to come and put him down like the rabid mutt some had believed him to be. Was it faith that protected him then? His father? Or was it that he was not worth the trouble in the grand scheme of the war? No matter, his isolation then was nothing to the tortuous solitude he experienced being the lone sentinel of Tharl Oom Khash. 


The air was thick with aether here; some soldiers had already came down with sicknesses as the result of a surfeit of it. For Orrin, even though the light of the crystal had seemingly ceased its protection of him, the echo still did him the honor of assaulting his waking and sleeping moments with spectres and phantoms of Ishgard’s past and his own. Time and time again he had found himself drawn to precipices and cliffs that in the past used to be whole, flat land, following after visions almost to his death. The murder of Ratatoskr so clear, the pained cries of betrayal that transcended language and species. That inner dragon that had so cruelly taken the form of his past love screamed and cursed and strained against its fetters. Fetters that Orrin himself had loosened in rage when he fought Frimont. 


The warmth, the seemingly endless fount of power that surged forth in righteous fury had nearly consumed him. Had Inquisitor Helene not robbed him of destroying his former hero…he avoided the thought. There was no doubt now that the sins of Ishgard’s past flowed through his veins as the urge, the call ever strengthened. He had not drank dragon’s blood but his armor was quenched in it, his soulstone possessed it. His mortal strength waned but that of the dragons was everlasting. Frimont knew that, it was the only way a man with grey in his hair could continue to fell multiple hydras in a single jump. Was it going to be the only way for Orrin to protect the people he had come to call friends? Protect his nation?


Orrin’s eyes adjusted to the light, staring at back of his clawed gauntlet, a feature he lamented was absent on the Drachen Mail. The damage he could do with the claws as well as the spikes would have been terrifying. Now however, those claws, the helm he carried were there to symbolize the union of dragon of man, of power given, not stolen. Though he felt unsettlingly comfortable inside the scale suit and seeing through the blood red dragon’s eyes of his visor he knew full well that these were equally a reminder of what he could become, what he refused to become. He need only hold on for a little while longer. The war will end in his life time, he need only wait for the dawn and his watch will end. He would cast aside the soulstone and with it banish the specter of his first sin from his life. This is what he wanted to believe even though resting on a splintered, caved-in table in his tent was a letter that still held the scent of the Sagolii sand calling for his aid.

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