"It calms me to look at her," Cid said as he admired his handiwork on the Enterprise. It had been two days since we landed back in Gridania and he was well on his way with the repairs. I eyed the airship as Cid continued talking. "It's as though I've been reunited with a piece of myself I never knew was missing…" Despite all the progress, his memories still weren't complete.

"Hardly surprising. You did design and build her," Alphinaud said as he approached. He joined us on the walkway of the Gridanian airship dock and gave the Enterprise an appraising look. "I bring good news," he said as he reached into his pocket and withdrew a parchment. "The Seedseers have granted our request to continue housing the Enterprise. We may take as long as we require to repair her." He looked up at the airship again. "Of course, it would be rank folly to take one moment more than we require. Garuda, lest we forget, grows stronger by the hour. If we are to have any hope of wresting this benighted realm from her talons, it must needs be soon."

Good old Alphinaud, always keeping focused on the task at hand. Though there really wasn't much we could do until the Enterprise was in complete working order. It was nearly finished as is, but there was still the matter of actually making it through Garuda's perpetual storm.

"As you know, the Howling Eye is encircled by a raging tempest, apt to turn proud trees into matchwood. Our battle will end before it begins if the Enterprise cannot weather the storm."

"If this tempest is as fierce as you say, even my repairs may not be enough…" Cid admitted as he looked forlornly at the aircraft.

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Alphinaud sighed. "Confound it… There must be a way to brave the fury of the elements…"

I could see the moment of enlightenment on Cid's face as something the Elezen said struck an idea. "The elements! But of course! That's it!" Cid was growing more excited by the second. Whatever idea he had it must have been brilliant. "We work upon the element itself! Using the power of a corrupted crystal, we could clear a path through the storm and spare the Enterprise a battering!"

"I see! You propose to utilize the properties of a crystal to alter the elemental aspect of the barrier! It seems so childishly simple in retrospect!"

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I just stared at the two for a moment. I couldn't get past how Alphinaud managed to sound so pretentious about everything. The Twelve watch over us, if this boy truly was one of the last Scions. I felt a pang of guilt immediately after thinking it. I couldn't give up hope yet that the others were gone for good…

"Though… maybe not to you, Rosalyn. We speak of the manifestations of over-aspected aether that can be found throughout Eorzea."

I take that back, I'm going to throttle the kid. I gritted my teeth and nodded for Alphinaud to continue. "Since the Calamity disrupted the land's aetheric currents such crystals have become commonplace. ...Which has been a cause of great woe, as they are known to warp aetheric energies, including those of living organisms."

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Cid cleared his throat and shot me a weak smile. Once again he had come to save the day from the boy. "The point is we could theoretically use a corrupted crystal to convert the wind-aspected aether comprising Garuda's barrier into aether of another aspect - one she cannot control. With certain modifications the Enterprise should be able to deliver us to the Howling Eye in comfort, no matter how hard Garuda blows."

"But we are getting ahead of ourselves. All of this rests upon our ability to procure a crystal with the necessary properties. Have you any idea where we might acquire one?"

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"No, but I know a man who might. A scholar named Lamberteint who resides in Camp Drybone. Strange as it may sound, I met him during my time at the church. Well...Marques met him, I suppose.." Cid looked away for a moment in thought. "Whether out of pity or for want of a more willing listener he would talk to me for hours at a time about his aetheric studies, corrupted crystals being a pet subject of his. It was a result of these conversations that poor Marques was observed to possess an uncommon knack for theoretical science…" Cid returned his attention back to the airship. I couldn't begin to understand how he felt at that moment.

"Looks like I'm heading back to Thanalan…" I finally said. I bid the two farewell and made my way to the Aetheryte Plaza. As much as I loathed using the Aetheryte Network for travel it would be so much faster than Chocobo-back and I didn't need to listen to Alphinaud remind me how we needed to act quickly again.

One teleportation fee and a round of dry heaves and dizziness later I arrived in Camp Drybone and began seeking out the Scholar. I managed to find him in a small tavern and approached him without much preamble before broaching the topic of the corrupted crystals. True to Cid's word, it was Lamberteint's favorite subject and he began talking to me at length about their properties and how dangerous they were to be in close contact with. Before the scholar could ramble on, I managed to ask him how I might be able to safely contain and transport one of the corrupted crystals.

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Lamberteint suggested that if I were to find him a clay pot he'd be able to make me a container that would be capable of containing the harmful energies of a corrupted crystal. I bummed around Camp Drybone wondering just where I'd be able to find a clay pot when by a curious twist of fate I came upon a merchant who just so happened to be giving away clay pots. Something about an over surplus and he couldn't sell the damned things. Sometimes life just works out like that, I suppose. With the clay pot in hand I returned to Lamberteint.

Lamberteint took the clay pot from me and used some sort of alchemical sealant, which he applied liberally to the pot, to coat it inside and out. Now that my clay pot had been upgraded to a Corrupted Crystal Containment Device (or a CCCD as he so eloquently quipped), Lamberteint directed me to one of his pupils named Hahasako who should be at Highbridge. His student would be able to direct me toward a likely source for the a corrupted crystal.

Hahasako was rude at first but when I mentioned that I had been sent by his teacher he quickly changed his tune. He seemed to think that being referred made him the star pupil all of a sudden. I played along in the name of getting this task done all the quicker. The Lalafell explained that to find a proper specimen I'd need to travel to the depths of the Burning Wall and break apart a Corrupted Cluster with his special corrupted crystal gathering sledgehammer that looked like a normal quarrying sledge to me.

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I rented a Chocobo and set off to the winding cliffs of the Burning Wall. It was just a few days ago I had been admiring the beauty of the corrupted crystal structures from the overlook of the Final Prayer, and now I was in the midst of it. The large orange crystals were even larger up close and I suddenly felt very small. I traveled to the lowest cliff face I could safely reach and began striking one of the crystal formations with the sledgehammer. Sure enough a chunk of crystal broke free which I quickly tossed into the clay pot - I'm sorry, Corrupted Crystal Containment Device - and sealed it up tight. I made sure to be quick about it, worried about the dangerous energies that would be emanating from it. Though, if they were supposedly that harmful, how bad off was I now that I've spent so much time around them..?

Hoping that I wouldn't suddenly go bald or anything from overexposure I rode back to Highbridge and presented the specimen to Hahasako. He was impressed with the crystal that I brought back and bid me to show it to Lamberteint. And while I was there I might as well put in a good word or two about how much of a help Hahasako was, right? I agreed wholeheartedly and as soon as I was back on my rented bird forgot all about the Lalafell on the bridge.

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Lamberteint was happy to see the corrupted crystal that I collected, but on closer inspection he told me that it would only prove to strengthen Garuda's barrier. I had only managed to waste time, Alphinaud would be thrilled to hear that. The scholar was quick to inform me of another sight that I might find a corrupted crystal, the Isles of Umbra in La Noscea. This time I'd have to meet up with another pupil of his in Aleport.

Two trips of the Aetheryte Network in one day left my stomach a mess as I approached Ceana, Lamberteint's second pupil. "Ah, the sea calls to me! I ought to change into my bathing suit and go for a dip, responsibilities be damned!"

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I would have certainly agreed with the girl if my stomach were currently agreeing with me. Unfortunately, that was not the case and duty called. When I introduced myself Ceana claimed that, despite what I had heard, she was the greatest of Lamberteint's students. I'd certainly grant her cutest so far, but we'd see about greatest.

Ceana told me that she was certain that the area surrounding Pharos Sirius was chock full of corrupted crystals but she had yet to actually confirm this due to access being prohibited. She was quick to charm me into inquiring with the local Yellowjacket officers as to why access was restricted. Stomach ache be damned, I'm a sucker for a compliment from a cute girl. I spent an hour listening to gossip in the local tavern and discovered that there were recent accounts of undead haunting the Isles of Umbra. While there I also heard of a man who had recently returned from the Isles of Umbra and had been detained.

Using my own wiles I managed to earn a visit with the man, Skyfryn, and ask if he might know how I could gain passage to the islands. When I saw the man he appeared normal, but as I approached I could tell that he wasn't quite right. A few rocks short of a quarrymill, you might say. Against my better judgement I questioned him about his trip to the Isles of Umbra and he began ranting and raving about a beautiful woman that he needed to return to. He seemed incredibly desperate and I was quickly growing more concerned for my safety despite the fact that he was locked up.

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Just as quickly as he started, his ceased his ranting and raving and raging and suddenly became very calm. He reached into a pocket and very slowly held out his hand to me. In his hand he held a golden feather, which he offered to me. I took it cautiously but he grabbed my wrist and pulled me close to the bars. He told me to seek out Mimidoa, then apologized before releasing my wrist and shrinking to the back of his cell where he began to rant to himself again.

I returned to Ceana and told her what I had learned at the pub then at the Yellowjacket's detention center. I showed her the feather and asked her if she knew this Mimidoa that the crazed man had referred to. She informed me that while she knew him she would not have any dealings with him. She seemed rather indignant about it. When I asked her to elaborate she claimed it was because the man had pinched her arse some days before in the pub. I couldn't help but glance appreciatively at said arse for a moment before relenting. I'd just have to speak to Mimidoa myself and find out what he knew.

Mimidoa was an older Lalafell and a craftsman that had been sent to the Isles of Umbra to oversee the repair work being performed on Pharos Sirius, the large lighthouse there that had been damaged during the Calamity. He told me that all the other craftsmen had either abandoned their work or simply vanished. He assumed it had something to do with the rumors of an undead invasion. I told him that I needed to go to the Isles on important business and he was kind enough to grant me with a writ of passage to the islands. I thanked him again and went on my way, earning a slap on my own arse as I went. Lecherous old man…

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I managed to convince Ceana to join me on the trip to the Isles of Umbra though she had already admitted her reluctance. We made it shore and as far as I could tell there was no undead invasion waiting for us. In fact, there were even some Yellowjackets stationed there. Despite that, Ceana was insistent that she return to Aleport and I gave in. I'd never seen a person move as fast as she did to return to the boat.

I figured I might as well ask the Yellowjackets stationed there what was going on. One of them, a young man named Davyd, confirmed that there were corrupted crystals inside of Pharos Sirius. I asked him if I could go inside but he refused to allow me in, claiming that it was dangerous, and, yes, even for a seasoned adventurer such as myself. He did agree to collect a sample for me if I could help him solve their little undead problem.

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I found a small makeshift tavern, no more than a few barrels used as seats and tables constructed of scrap wood in some cove, and asked the few adventurers there partaking of grog if they knew what this whole undead thing was about. They all spoke of a beautiful, irresistible voice coming from the other end of the island known as the Ship Graveyard. I reported the information back to Davyd and he seemed reluctant to share his thoughts with me. I reminded him that he wanted me to do this favor for him and he needed to either get me my corrupted crystal or speak up.

Davyd told me that Mimidoa had just arrived not long before I returned and needed to speak to me. I found the lecherous Lalafell by the small dock and asked him why he had to come all this way to speak to me. He explained that he had a feeling the cause of the undead swarm was a Siren, a beautiful creature that lured ships to the jagged rocks. He insisted that it was up to the two of us to stop it and that he had a secret weapon to do so.

That night we set up a large bonfire on the southern shore that had been dubbed the Ship Graveyard. There was plenty of scrap wood from the ships that had crashed against the rocks to use as fuel for the flames. Mimidoa had assured me that the fire would lure the Siren to shore. We waited for several hours and I was just beginning to doze off when the Lalafell roughly shoved me. There, floating just above the wake of the water was the Siren. She was almost bird-like with golden wings and a very nice… better that I don't finish that thought. Mimidoa handed me a pair of brass earplugs, his secret weapon, and I quickly defeaned myself with them.

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"Hither….embrace mine everything …..all,

true love spurned… his cruelty's reward."

I could barely hear the Siren's song, already feeling some of her pull from the scant words of her enticing tune. I pushed the earplugs in deeper and drew my bow. She could already tell that I was resisting her song. Out of the sea a dozen skeletal warriors emerged, walking up the shoreline toward me. I drew an arrow and infused it with fire-aspected aether before I loosed it at the center of the undead army. The line of flame burst across the sand in front of the skeleton warriors but they just walked straight through it unharmed. I let out a curse, drew another arrow, and fired it at the nearest undead.

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"Cast out... callous soul ...dead to desire,

spare mournful mistress…. distress…"

No matter how many of the undead I took down more kept coming from the sea. It was no easy task defeating the skeletal warriors with my bow and arrow. With no flesh to pierce and no blood to spill it took precision to knock their skulls from their body and end their reanimation.

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"... melody… last breath… of death… the rhythm,

Dost thou not… to relent… regret… forever alone…"

This was getting out of hand. The undead were swarming the beach in droves now. They were coming non-stop. All the sailors that had lost their lives to the Siren, all those pitiful men who had died to her beautiful song. They all came rushing at me, bound even in death, to her will.

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"My love… a river… one look…. soul shiver,

No more… dark eclipse…. the heart…"

Just as I thought I had met my end, surrounded by countless numbers of undead, the Siren's song reached it first. Her words slowly drifted away and her charmed soldiers stopped their assault. The Siren gave me a look of… almost sadness… before she drifted away back over the sea. Her army of undead followed her, returning to their watery graves. Despite the close call, I had the feeling that the Siren would not be returning to these shores for some time.

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I don't know where Mimidoa had hid during the confrontation but the old Lalafell was safe and sound and cheered my excellent performance. I don't know what fight he was watching, but I came out of it alive so all was well that ended well. It took me some time to pry the earbuds from my hearing canal but I still kept them close through the night in case the Siren returned.

In the morning I recounted the story of my encounter to Davyd and he thanked me by presenting me with a corrupted crystal. I stored it away in my containment device and together with Mimidoa we returned to Aleport. I found Ceana in the pub and showed her my reward. I really ought to see these things coming by now, as she told me that the crystal just wouldn't do. It was fire-aspected and wouldn't put a dent in Garuda's barrier. However, she had a associate in Gridania who was studying crystals of the aspect we needed.

I returned to Gridania by way of the Aetheryte Network and searched for Ceana's associate, Hedyn, immediately. This student of Lamberteint explained that he had just the sample of corrupted crystal I needed, though I would find it difficult to track it down. It had, in fact, been swallowed up by a rather nasty Spriggan the locals called "Giggity". It had apparently grown so fearsome that the weaker Spriggans were petitioning the nicer inhabitants of Twelveswood to to do something about it. Hedyn suggested I meet with the Sylph of Little Solace.

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I hadn't been back to Little Solace since I had transported the remains of Noraxia and my coming was greeted with a sombre welcome. Perhaps one day I'd be able to repair my relationship with the Sylph of Little Solace, but at the moment I needed help tracking down the rogue Spriggan. Kumoxio told me that a Spriggan named Tiggy had come seeking aid, but had recently headed north into Larkscall, the area of the wood bordering the Tempered Sylph territory. I made haste to through the woods and was lucky enough to find the Spriggan. I had never communicated with the creatures before and I learned that it was quite the curious ordeal. I managed to bring him back to Little Solace and together with Kumoxio we devised a plan.

Apparently Giggity was far too clever to just show himself unless we had the perfect bait. Spriggins loved ores of all kinds, but it would take something special to draw Giggity out of hiding. A goldsmith named Maerwynn was currently employed at the Sanctum of the Twelve to restore the old shrine and would probably know what type of metal to use. I found the shrine deep in the woods and the goldsmith busy at work. Of course the goldsmith had heard all about Giggity and his reign of terror and was more than happy to help.

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I was first tasked to obtain a golem soulstone from a chert golem, and Maerwynn just so happened to have seen one roaming around the Sylphlands to the west. One I obtained the soulstone I would need to rub it upon the Amberscale Rock in Central Shroud to dispel the enchantments woven into it. Only then would I have an ore that Giggity would expose himself for.

I set off to the edge of the Sylphlands and found the chert golem easy enough. If would only be difficult to track a creature of that size if I were blind. I would be lying if I said it was a fair fight. It would suffice to say that it took longer for me to retrieve the soulstone from the rubble than it did to create the rubble. With soulstone in hand I traveled to the Central Shroud and the large glowing rock structure known as the Amberscale. Maerwynn didn't really tell me how long I had to rub the soulstone against the rock, but I set about doing it as best as I could.

Busy rubbing rock against rock, I suddenly had the feeling that I was being watched. I stopped what I was doing and saw that Tiggy the Spriggan had followed me. He was eyeing the soulstone hungrily which I took for a sign that it was ready. I explained to him as best I could that the soulstone was going to be used as bait to lure out Giggity and he shared his enthusiasm with the idea by telling me that Giggity was last seen in Spriggan Dig to the north.

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I descended into the large underground structure that had come to be known as Spriggan Dig. It was a crater left after the Calamity, possibly from a crashed airship since there were no corrupted crystals in the area. I had made it to the very bottom of the cavern before realizing that there weren't many other Spriggans around. Sure enough, Giggity was here somewhere. I laid the soulstone out in the open and crouched behind a boulder in waiting. It wasn't long before a large Spriggan, Giggity I assumed, came wandering cautiously toward the soulstone.

I emerged from my hiding place already firing arrows. Giggity had little time to react before I had already struck it several times. The creature may have been the biggest and baddest Spriggan around, but in the end it was still just a Spriggan. It put up a fight but was eventually worn down by my poisoned arrows. With Giggity defeated my only remaining task was to gut him and remove the corrupted crystal from his stomach. I'll spare you the details…

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Upon returning to Hedyn he confirmed that the foul-smelling crystal was ice-aspected and would destroy Garuda's barrier. Unfortunately for me, Hedyn wouldn't let me remove the entrails from the crystal. Somehow they were protecting us from its harmful energy. Lucky me. Rather than going bald or something weird I'll just have to puke more. Hadn't I done that enough these past two days? For all the running around, my task was finally done. I had the properly aspected Corrupted Crystal. With this we'd be able to enter the Howling Eye, and there, face off against Garuda. The Lady of the Vortex didn't know it yet, but I was coming for her.

—-

No matter which way I looked at it, there was no way I could drag this story arc into two posts. So you get a 50% longer post for today and Lady of the Vortex should hopefully be on Friday unless anything ridiculous happens. Like the insanely large amounts of snow that are supposedly coming our way tomorrow night knocks out my power/internet/whatever.

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This story arc didn't actually turn out as bad as I thought it would, probably because it opened with a large chunk of expository banter and then had that nice fight against the Siren in the middle. I had to remind myself that you don't actually defeat the Siren in that fight, she just finishes her song and decides its not worth her time.

And speaking of songs, I've been wracking my head over what kind of songs would be acceptable for this fantasy setting as far as singing goes. There's going to come a point where Rosalyn will actually be doing Bardic things aside from shooting that bow, and I was hoping to find some suitable songs. I have half a mind to pull some things from previous Final Fantasy entries, there's lots of vocal versions of songs from 1~6. Of course, none of them really fit in with the three Bard songs. Mage's Ballad, Army's Paeon, Foe Requiem. Those are like, old school music. With difficult rhyming schemes. Nothing falls into the categories and I'm too stupid to come up with anything myself.

Hope you all are excited for another Primal fight. The next one should pretty awesome. Garuda is one scary bitch. Have you heard that laugh? That epic boss music? I hope I can do the fight justice and keep the tension up. And most of all I hope you will please look forward to it.