A week had passed since my adventures with the Sylph and my excursion into the Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak. I had delivered Frixio’s letter to the Twin Adder and it was passed on to the Elder Seedseer. I returned to the Wakings Sands to report to Minfilia everything that had transpired. I hadn’t been there long before there was a commotion. It seemed that Noraxia, the Elder Sylph’s aid, had come to work with the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. I could tell that some of our members were nervous to have a beastman inside our headquarters, but I felt that it was a sign of the growing alliance between the Sylph and the peoples of Eorzea.

We discussed at length the arrival of Lahabrea and just what the Ascians’ recent activities could entail. Our information on just who and what they were had been severely lacking, but what we did know was that they more commonly worked from the shadows. Thancred offered to work alone in gathering information on the Ascians. I couldn’t help but feel that he was still bothered by the events concerning Ifrit. I said before that I wasn’t really fond of the man, but that doesn’t mean I like seeing him downtrodden.

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The worst part of being a member of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn is the research. I spent the week in the Waking Sands helping the other Scions collect what little information they already had on the Ascians. What the Sharlayan scholars had managed to collect was often contradicting and confusing and I hoped that Thancred’s field work panned out soon so I wouldn’t have to crack open another dusty tome.

The report eventually came in that a man in a black cloak and wearing a mask had been seen in Eastern Thanalan near Highbridge. I was dispatched to Ul’Dah where I spoke with a Commander Swift of the Immortal Flames. He informed me that the sentry stationed at Highbridge who had seen the masked man had recently died in the line of duty. I cursed our luck but decided to investigate Highbridge all the same. I rode out to the large bridge north east of Drybone and began speaking with the sentries and merchants there.

I encountered a Lalafell merchant named Hihibaru who hinted at knowing information of the masked man but he was less than willing to cooperate. He insisted that I bother the rest of the merchants along the bridge and I left him in a huff. When the remaining merchants offered me no information on the masked man I returned to Hihibaru and insisted he offer me what he knew. Hihibaru apologized for his rudeness and told me that he had believed someone was inciting the local beastmen. He mentioned seeing a large man meeting with the Qiqirn raiders camped southeast of Highbridge.

With that being my only lead I set off for the Qiqirn encampment. I dismounted Gale Claw some distance from the raider camp. I had spotted at least two sentries doing rounds in front of the entrance and I didn’t want to give my position away just yet. I summoned a Carbuncle familiar and together we crept closer to the camp. I sent my familiar out to distract the two Qiqirn, and sure enough they chased after it with little hesitation. The only easier way to distract the mouse-like beastmen would have been to throw coins around but I wasn’t made of money. With the guards distracted I slipped into the camp.

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I began by checking a cache of crates, hoping my luck of checking crates for evidence would hold, but of course it hadn’t. It seemed that the Qiqirn were smart enough not to hide incriminating evidence in their crates, unlike the Amalj’aa and the Garleans. I widened my search and entered a number of tents as best I could. The diminutive beastmens’ dwellings certainly didn’t give me much room for looking about. I managed to find a letter in a language I didn’t understand. At least, I think it was a letter? It’s quite possible it was something else entirely, but it looked suspicious all the same.

I planned on making as silent an escape as my entrance had been but my familiar had strayed too far from me and our connection had been severed. With my familiar gone, the two sentries had returned to the front of the camp. With much regret of my measly adventurer’s salary, I parted with a handful of gil. I tossed the coins close enough to the Qiqirn for them to see but far enough that they’d have to leave the front gate. The Qiqirn loved their precious “clink-clink” more than I did and the guards ran to collect the shiny coins. I made a break for it and escaped the raider encampment without incident.

Upon returning to Hihibaru I gave him the document to see if he could translate it. He said he knew a Qiqirn merchant who could decipher it for us and that it would take some time. I spent an hour window-shopping on Highbridge before giving up and returning to Hihibaru. The letter had been translated and apparently the large man that had been meeting with the Qiqirn was not Lahabrea, but an Amalj’aa. So the two beastmen races were apparently working together, but that didn’t help me in any way. I made to leave but Hihibaru proclaimed that he had information what would surely help me.

I didn’t have any other leads so I listened to the Lalafell merchant once again. This time he claimed he had seen a masked man meeting a beastman client in secret. The masked man had used some sort of smoke as a signal to arrange their meeting. Hihibaru suggested I use a smouldering coal to simulate the same smoke signal and draw out the beastmen accomplice. I figured it was crazy enough to work so I set off to the sight of this supposed rendezvous.

I lit the coal that Hihibaru had given me and waited for some time as the plume of black smoke drifted up into the air. I had been ready to give up waiting when I saw movement from behind a rock. A tall Hyur stepped out from his concealment, quite confused that I was there and not who he was intending to meet. For that matter, I was just as confused because I had been expecting a beastman. The man attacked quite suddenly and I was forced to defend myself. As the fight drew on I knew it was him or me and I felt that I wasn’t quite done living yet, and regrettably killed the attacker. Without being able to question him I turned to my one and only course of action and searched his belongings. I found a scroll in his things bearing the mark of Rhalgr the Destroyer, one of the Twelve. I vaguely remembered that there was a group of Highlanders that worshiped him. I returned to Hihibaru to tell him what had happened.

It was back at Highbridge that I remembered the rest of the details concerning Rhalgr. The furthest eastern regions of Eorzea were known as the highlands of Gyr Abania, and was home to the militaristic city-state of Ala Mhigo. Some twenty years ago, when the Garleans first invaded Eorzea, Ala Mhigo and its surrounding regions was the first to fall. A group of the inhabitants had left Ala Mhigo behind and made a new home for themselves in Southern Thanalan, a settlement they appropriately called Little Ala Mhigo.

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Could this mean that Lahabrea not only had connections to the beastmen tribes but also Little Ala Mhigo? I told Hihibaru that I would be continuing my search at the Ala Mhigan refugee settlement and he mentioned I should seek out his daughter who recently took up residence there. I mounted Gale Claw once more and set off south.

Little Ala Mhigo was located within a series of caves underneath a massive mountain. When I approached on chocobo-back they opened up the heavy steel doors they had installed blocking the cavern mouths. I rode right in and dismounted, handing Gale Claw off to a stablehand. I had only been there a few minutes when I noticed the unwelcome stares I had been receiving. Apparently Little Ala Mhigo didn’t take in many guests. Despite the glares I started looking for Hihira, Hihibaru’s daughter. I found her quite easily, a Lalafell amongst towering Highlanders not being hard to spot. She knew nothing of the masked man and suggested I speak to the leader of the Ala Mhigans, Gundobald.

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Gundobald was perhaps the largest of the Highlanders I had seen living in Little Ala Mhigo and his demeanor toward me was no better than the rest of the locals. He brushed me off quickly and I stood for a moment uncertain how to proceed. I was beginning to grow frustrated that no one was trusting enough to simply point me in the right direction. How many masked men came through this region anyway?

A nearby Immortal Flames soldier who had witnessed my poor reception approached me and introduced himself as Gisilbehrt. He told me that the people of Little Ala Mhigo were wary with everyone who entered the city and that I would just need to show them that I meant no harm. He had also overheard my inquiry into the masked man and informed me that one of his lookouts may have seen him. To help make them more willing to speak to me, Gisilbehrt suggested I hand out skins of Thanalan Sweet Tea to the lookouts.

It didn’t take me long to meet with the three lookouts and hand out the tea to them. As they took their brief moment of respite from the heat they told me what they had seen. A few days before they had spotted a man matching Lahabrea’s description speaking to one of the Ala Mhigan refugees, but they had not been close enough to overhear the conversation. I knew that at the rate I was going I wouldn’t be able to get any information out of the residents of Little Ala Mhigo so I returned to Gisilbehrt and spoke to him concerning the situation.

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We came to the conclusion that I needed an in, a way to get my foot in the door with the people of Little Ala Mhigo. They were less than receptive to my presence there, but if I could find someone with connections that were more willing to assist me I could improve my standing and possibly get people to speak to me. I contacted the Wandering Sands via linkpearl and spoke to Minfilia about the problems stymying my investigation. Luckily there was a member of the Scions who had been a native Ala Mhigan who had escaped the city twenty years ago during the Garlean invasion. She patched me through to the man, Hariberht, and I gave him a quick update on my situation.

Hariberht no longer had any friends in the Ala Mhigan Resistance, but he knew someone who did. I would be able to find her in Quarrymill, a walled encampment in the South Shroud east of Buscarron’s Druthers. Not wanting to spend the night in Little Ala Mhigo I set off with haste. I arrived at the tavern late in the evening and spent the night there. I had feared I wouldn’t be able to get much sleep due to rowdy crowds in the bar, but Buscarron felt he owed me a favor for all I had done for him and he closed up early.

I left the tavern at daybreak and rode east toward Quarrymill. Upon arriving I sought out my contact, Albreda. I introduced myself and told her why I was there, but when I mentioned Hariberht she grew angry and started to make a scene. It took me a long embarrassing moment to calm the Highlander woman’s rage and she finally relented and told me to speak with a man named Meffrid who was a Captain of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. I didn’t know it then that I’d be seeing another unsavory side of Gridania very shortly.

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Pictures are getting ridiculously hard to find now, which means that I'm going to have to spend a chunk of my available gaming time trying to get just the right shots and hope that there aren't a million people crowding about. I'm still throwing myself repeatedly at Titan, and he's still slapping me away like a fly or some other easily swatted insect.

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I actually managed to write this post and tomorrow's post yesterday, I was very productive. The search for Lahabrea will probably end mid next week with the next dungeon, Haukke Manor. As I said before, it's split up into two separate arcs, and the part with Little Ala Mhigo will conclude tomorrow. A fair word of warning, I might have made the conclusion for tomorrow's entry just a bit depressing, but please don't let that stop you from reading.

I've been trying to plan these entries out by referring to the main quest line and adjoining side quests. If the main quest line is short and I don't have enough to write, I see if there's any side quests that pertain to the main quest to pull from. This is usually the case and I've had a few pieces of filler here and there, but because they mesh so well with the main story you wouldn't know unless I told you. Which I suppose I just did.

I'm still entertaining the idea of doing some of the other story lines in the game, such as the class and job quests. I don't think I'll be able to fit them in during any of this main story, especially since it ramps up after the Titan arc, but perhaps some Crystal's Call Gaiden is in order? I don't know how I'd be able to tear myself away from the main story though once things get more exciting. Whatever happens down the road, I hope you please look forward to it.