Jump to content

Ishgard and Coerthas, lore in leves.


Recommended Posts


I come from a tradition of understanding videogame narratives through flavourtext, such as in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, where the overarching lore is told primarily in environmental design and item descriptions.


On behest of a friend, and my own interest, I took the liberty of compiling all leve descriptions from the region of Coerthas Central Highlands. I then summarized the stories told in the categories that seemed most relevant at the time; divided into what one job category contained and then the next and so on. Along with some of my personal interpretations and clarifications.


Attached to this post are two PDF files, each containing verbatim copies of the leve descriptions from both Cimeaurant at the Observatory, and Voilinaut from Whitebrim.


Consider this an invitation to discussion and growth. Happy hunting for meaning.


[align=center]What we learn from Cimeaurant.[/align]



An unnamed Ishgardian who used to work for the special inquisitors’ office, who was left changed from his time there, requires medicinal aid to be able to fall asleep. The emphasis on how a man such as himself could not commit any evil is probably best interpreted in relation to his previous post. The special inquisitors’ office does work that causes physical and mental stress. The Astrologians seem isolated from most of the outside world, in a charming ivory tower way. The special inquisitors’ office requires paralyzing poison to keep subjects restrained during “interrogation.” More likely than not, this means torture, followed by prisoners perhaps attempting suicide.





The soldiers that serve Ishgard are young, the emphasis on young and younger likely means that few soldiers live very long and must be replaced, even fewer live to retire. Joint and muscle issues due to poor or unexpected gearing conditions are common. The observatorium sounds underfunded, given that they had to pawn a skillet. House Durendaire is a harsh business partner.





Winters in Coerthas bring about storms that close the mountain passes in and out of the region, leading to shortages in certain goods. If they are not stocked by entrepreneurial spirits seeking gil. The cold in Coerthas also takes its toll on equipment, engineers at the observatorium require hardened tools for work in the icy climate, with handles that “incite a secure grip.” Demand for knives used in skinning, leatherworking, and fur treatment is high since the Calamity caused the deeper cold that is now applying pressure to the region.





Due to the cold weather, leather and cloth soles are now a thing of the past for workers, stout soles of wood are now a must in the cellars to keep your feet from freezing. House Durendaire has been having trouble with their bows, they require constant repair from their exposure to the elements, so they order mythril bows, heavier but hardier. Durendaire also enforces a strict law of non-commerce with outlanders. But has found that its supply of weapons is low, and there is no way of restocking other than trade with the outside.





Carp has become rare, mugwort will make do. The pursuit of the scholars serving at the observatorium is considered pure, and they grow pink-cheeked. Sheltered from the outside world to some degree. Their work is rewarded with cheese soufflé. The dragoons of House Durendaire succumb to the cold, a slip and a fall, or a blow they would otherwise have parried, why? Because of the cold, it’s always the cold in this place, steaming bowls of cawl cennin are served to warm their bodies from the inside.





“Pure as Peridot” goes a popular expression, a woman who doesn’t carry a sword or the issue of a knight is required, implicitly, to carry peridot trinkets. If she goes unadorned, she is likely to be mistrusted. Peridot is a symbol of devotion to the cause. Not unlike this, mythril earrings are in fashion. They serve as religious icons, or symbols, because of their connection to the first Azure Dragoon, Haldrath. Amulets made of wolf fangs are said to protect travelers and traders on the roads of Coerthas, for “The dead can hardly collect these fangs from a wolf and sell them as amulets.”





The astrologers at the observatorium require fingerless gloves, to keep their hands warm through the nights of stargazing, but agile enough to work with instrument and pen. The special inquisitors’ office requires leather collars, man-sized, hardened, double-sewn and without padding. The order for these collars was already paid for. One can imagine what they are for. House Fortemps has put forward a strange order for leather harnesses, likely this is just a joke, a lewd insight into Hourchefant’s interests. Or, maybe they know something, about spring and summer returning?





Unbelievers are regarded as thieves, stealing the sweat of the brow from the crusade. In other words, they don’t work for the good of the crusade. Custom holds it that what has been stolen must be given by another, so the women related to these unbelievers, mothers, sisters, and wives are sent to work camps. Where they wear clothes tailored for them, like a laborer’s uniform. Due to the unpredictable winds and chills of the region, cowls have become popular outside of their monastic presence. Some soldiers think with their heads and not their spears, and wear tights underneath their suits of armor to combat the cold. There’s now a demand for linen tights to fit inside the armor of many more patrolmen.





Fortifications are regarded as protection that kills for you, sharpened logs enshrouded with mythril heads planted deep in the soil and frost serve as the first line of defense, impaling anything flying a swift low pass into them. The war has left Ishgard with fewer and fewer laborers, keeping up with, among other things, weeds in the fields has become harder. Firewood is strictly for the dragoons, anyone else will have to make do with driftwood or anything that is not declared for use in the crusade. Skyfire Locks has an apothecary, that needs restocking of herbs every so often, the staff seems to pride itself with not being niminy-piminy like the Ul’dahn counterparts.





The observatorium has been visited increasingly by representatives from the Holy See that “see little and hear much.” The extra coin garnered from these visits go towards meals that nourish rather than punish. Raccoons plague the fishers of Coerthas when trout migrate during full moons, they have their “clever paws” in the waters as fast as the fishers. Marimo is considered good for the mind, or at least some kind of essence of it, which grounds and furbishes the phrenic lens of the mind. Annually, the fisherfolk of Coerthas release fry in the waters from which they make their livelihood, however bass threatens to consume the release of these.





The special inquisitors’ office demands blocks of compressed snow, for construction of a storage of some kind. Yet even dragoons would find such a place too bitter, perhaps they store corpses, or worse. Skyfire Locks sees itself as the possible last bastion of the Ishgardian way of life in the event that the war takes a turn for the worse, and so they require a quarry, to rebuild. Astrologers sometimes wander off in search for a rare blue mythril, “for there are few enough distractions in this life.” It’s regarded as something like madness, temporary or not. The telescope called The Lazy Eye now surveys the heavens, but a new lens must be constructed. A greater lens.





Wolf attacks are common, and pose a significant problem to commerce and safe travel, their hides swiftly turn into winter coats once caught and killed. The observatorium has a pet sheep named Bessy, who was recently sought after by red aevis. Of course, Bessy also supplies the observatorium with much of their milk and curd. A supplier of sheep recently lost some to wolves, or so he thought, one of his sheep had acquired a taste for mutton. After capture, it was sold to an exotic meats dealer, sheep fattened with sheep’s meat. The eyes of the servants of the Holy See seem to not be able to locate certain creatures in the snow, adventurers and outlanders do not seem to have this problem. Rather, this is likely a case of something being regarded as below them. There is one thing the Holy See fears more than the dragons: famine. “If Coerthas is to freeze and its fecund soil wither, preparations must be made—to feed and fight.”




[align=center]What we learn from Voilinaut.[/align]




Halone is supposedly all knowing, her servants though, require a great deal of paperwork to keep track of every new conscript, even more ink is required when they inevitably meet their ends. House Durendaire has developed a distaste for thaumaturgy, and thinks they have relied on it too much at the expense of the arcane arts, they seek to rectify this by placing orders on grimoires distilling the essence of the arcanists’ arsenal in a comprehensive manner, and fast. In the rush to profit from the Calamity and the Dragon Wars, Ishgard is losing its stock of lanolin to export. Lanolin is required for, among other things, the maintenance of steel.





A wag once said the words of Durendaire should be “Better is what we like.” This fits the bill in these times, as Durendaire seeks to replace its stock of steel weaponry with mythril which is more resistant to dragon breath. So deep is their distaste for steel that they are said to spit on every weapon they discard in favor of a new mythril replacement. A certain family, wishing to remain anonymous, has a tradition for tasting the first new wine of the year out of an heirloom, a mythril barbut. Unfortunately it was recently discovered that it was a plated copy, which replaced the heirloom some time ago. They have since sought a replacement, and discretion from the smith who would create it. Dragoons are not easily replaced, and it’s said they wear armor finer than that of outlander generals. It’s easy to understand why, when the master-at-arms has seen fit to replace every steel helm and coif with one crafted from mythril. A lesson learned in the “fiery hellscape of the Stone Vigil” that steel is ill-suited to cope with dragon breath.





In their preparation for the assault on the Stone Vigil, Durendaire leaves nothing to chance, and is issuing mythril hammers to its siege engineers. “An iron hammer needs three taps on a bolt where a mythril one can drive it home in a single stroke.” A recent Dravian attack has also left House Durendaire in need of half a hundred kitchen knives, sturdier, yes made from mythril. Some knights were also left molten and it is noted that these cannot, unfortunately, be replaced in bulk. Ever since the loss of the Stone Vigil, the smiths at Whitebrim outpost work tirelessly to forge new equipment, for this task they require sturdier hammers made from cobalt.





The dragoons of House Durendaire are not satisfied with conventional weaponry and so have taken to construction of a ballista, for which they require grinding wheels to sharpening and polishing of metal parts, and likely bolts. Durendaire, takes the fall of Stone Vigil as a personal affront and as such are not content with simply rebuilding their armory, they wish to rethink it. So new lances must be forged, from you guessed it, mythril. While we’re on the topic of new armaments, they have also begun production of composite bows.





It is said that stewed rolanberries on soft cheese are a favored source of nourishment in the sanitorium. Likely this means hospitals or a place for treatment of certain illnesses, not mental institutions which is a common modern meaning of the word. The Holy See has outlawed many pagan traditions from Ishgard’s earlier days, but it dares not touch the celebration called simply The Feast of Saint Daniffen. If they were to ban the practice they would likely face widespread discontent and it is rumored that Lord Fortemps consumes piles of the apple-filled pastries eaten during this rite. Durendaire has noted a rise in survival rates of its soldiers during winter training, after replacingleek and popoto soup for salt-cured beef braids. They now want to experiment with dumplings of salt cod, crisp on the outside, tender within.





House Durendaire seeks to send a quintet of thaumaturges to a dragon’s nest, if they all survive and the dragon does not, they will be granted the honor of serving the highest houses of Ishgard. Sounds like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation to me. Commerce drives the trade of mythril ore north to Ishgard while electrum travels south, in Ishgard mythril fuels the crusade, in the south electrum is put to use shielding Lominsan and Ul’dahn necks. Wartimes have also callen for shows of virtue, purity, and loyalty. The clerics cry this from the pedestals, and lords wear aquamarine pins to symbolize loyalty. Their ladies carry peridot adornments to symbolize purity, however, the gems on display which symbolize chasteness have started to appear suggestive.





The chocobokeeps of House Durendaire are a serious bunch, their stewards now have the pleasure of wearing jerkins tailored from boarskin, something the stewards of other houses could only dream of. They also permit no dragoon to saddle a chocobo without a keeper present, and it is their duty to order peisteskin saddles for the birds who are regarded as something exceptional. With winter the use of moccasins is a necessity, but they are often left somewhat mangy, “The wearer’s bane is a vendor’s blessing.” And so moccasins are in high demand in Ishgard.





More knights of Ishgard journey to Whitebrim, and every one of them who serves the Holy See serves for life, the dragons have a way of keeping a rhythmic turnover rate. But there are some who live long enough, so that the lancing winds of the north become an issue, woolen tights under the armor help shield you from the winds further north. Bartering is the preferred way of trade in Coerthas, gil has all but lost its value, and well-made doublets buy three times their own worth in materials used to make them in these times. Winter is said to be king, and warmth the only coin worth something in the realm. The sheepfolk are spoken of as having more greed than sense, that coin will not keep the snow off their heads, and so traditional Coerthas hats have been made to keep them warm.





The perimeter wall around Whitebrim Front is to be rebuilt using highland teak logs, that can withstand the onslaught of a living ram of flesh, scales, and fire. As an added bonus, their pulp is be poisonous. Much was lost at Stone Vigil, and so needs to be replaced. Arrowheads pour from the smithy, geese go naked, and fletchers red-eyed, House Durendaire requires ever more arrows. As a sidenote, a fletcher is a person who’s occupation is to produce arrows. Unbelievers carve symbols into the trees of the forests to communicate and scheme, to fight this, the Holy See sees to it that these markings and carvings are removed. The Garlean empire has not escaped the eye of the Ishgardians, and it worries them. But the Garleans are as outlandish to them as they are to the Garleans, so perhaps, it is reasoned, Ishgardian pests and blights will be able to reduce the forests of Garlemand to rot and powder.





The fisherfolk have heard of Durendaire’s foray into higher-quality rations for their soldiers, so they now supply them with salt-dried golden loach. Lominsan smelt has been seeded in the highlands, and is thriving, it is a salt-water fish that has adapted well to the cold. The Calamity changed many things, and only someone with the capacity to change can prosper, or even survive in Coerthas these days. So the lakes required seeding with new fish, hardier and more adaptable fish. Before the Calamity, the lakes were also much richer however much of the biological diversity has been lost to the colder climate. Much experimental seeding goes on to fill the void left by the Calamity, bronze trout being one of these species.





It’s said that the key to retaking the Stone Vigil will be in solving puzzles, one such puzzle is how to deliver messages and supplies via runners, while dodging barbed tails and fiery breaths. The answer to this problem will be to dig, the runners will not dodge, they will use trenches dug deep into the ground. There’s worry in the highlands that the Snowcloak which grows ever thicker and grinds brush, trees, and cabins to splinters may not be what it seems to be, some suspect it is a cloudkin rather than an ice-cliff. House Durendaire is not the only one of the great Houses of Ishgard to hold a personal stake in Stone Vigil, Fortemps owes the wyrms a debt of fire. A dragoon from their ranks, well loved by all, fell there and was buried in his armor as there was no separating him from it. In other words, either this is symbolic, or as we’ve been told of steel, his armor had been fused into his flesh and bone from the heat, molten. A cannon is being built in his name, so that he may fight alongside them again. The Houses do not focus entirely on the retaking of Stone Vigil though, but consider the reconstruction of it, as it is not a matter of if, but of when, they retake it.





Because of increased travel to Whitebrim, more beastkin and demons now roam the wilds and roads in search of “the choicest morsels of slow-moving food.” Traders and cargadors demand increased pay, due to road mutiny, with goods selling at a cost in some cases. Thrustaevis desire biast flesh, servants of the dragons that hunger for the flesh of what they consider higher beings. Glacier hippocerfs are captured for use in the arena, for games where hesitation means death. It is customary of scribes of the temple to take companions, such as cats and hounds. One elder scribe recently lost his snowshoe mouse that served him as handwarmer and helpmeet, we assume that it was found and returned. In the ever deepening cold of Coerthas fouler things shuffle, demon tauri have recently emerged from their living nests to prowl Whitebrim’s snowfields.



Link to comment

I figured I at the very least need to respond to the input I have received here. While I would like to work through all available regions with associated leves, I can't dedicate the time to do so. At least not regularly or at length.


So to compensate for this, I thought I'd explain my methodology. Or lack thereof perhaps.


Other than the game itself, valuable resources you can use include the gamerescape levemete wiki page, and xivdb's leves list.


The gamerescape pages let you view leves offered by a single levemete, while I haven't found any functionality like it on xivdb, their leve descriptions are more accurate than gamerescape's. In the former you can find spelling errors and even some errors that alter the meaning of the text, while in the latter, I have seen no such mistakes.


I would recommend writing the leves down, not copying them and pasting, as this allows you to read the description and keep it in your mind while compiling everything.


Thank you for your patience and appreciation.

Link to comment
  • Create New...