Try as I might, Oliver Koenig refused to join me in Gridania, putting a halt to my plans of trying to determine if he too was a Warrior of Light like myself. There were so many adventurers at the Battle of Cartenau, it would be impossible to know them all. And then there was no way I could guess how many people Louisoix was capable of saving. The only way to determine it would be to ask, but I was afraid I would be wrong and didn’t want to appear crazy to the man.
I was standing in the airship docks in one of the tall tower of Limsa Lominsa waiting for the outbound airship to Gridania when I happened upon Eyriwaen who was also returning to Gridania. I tried several times to initiate conversation with the masked Roegadyn but now that we were outside of the dungeon he seemed to have become shy. My mention of a request for adventurers from Gridania piqued his interest though.
The airship flight from Limsa Lominsa took a large portion of the day, much to my surprise. In the past five years Garlean troops had managed to create a number of encampments across Eorzea which made travel by airship risky at all times. The once straightforward route from Limsa Lominsa to Gridania became a round-about journey avoiding enemy airspace. When we finally landed in Gridania I reported immediately to Mother Miounne, the proprietress of the Carline Canopy which was located directly above customs.
I told her that I was the adventurer Baderon was sending for their urgent mission and she thanked me. The Elezen woman had an infectious smile and I couldn’t help but smile with her as we spoke. I had known her well before Cartenau, having called a room in the inn my own for some time after enlisting with the Order of the Twin Adder. Soon enough we were conversing and laughing that I almost thought that she perhaps remembered me. I endured the pain when it became clear that she too had lost her memories of me, the smile on my face now fake. She told me that I was the last adventurer to sign in for the mission and that the group was waiting for me at a nearby table.
I wasn’t surprised to see Eyriwaen at the table, though the other two adventurers were new to me. Both Elezen, one was a Gridanian Lancer by the name Azarashi Asha, the other an Ul’Dahn Thaumaturge named Sorasha Ashi. The pair made quite the striking visage, he with his brilliant red hair and red tabard, her with long luxurious black hair and her long green hooded robe. The two appeared to be an accomplished pair of adventurers, and I was beginning to feel inadequate in my chemisette and high leather boots. For that matter, my grimoire was beginning to look ragged…
“Hey there, nice to meet you,” Sorasha welcomed me with her singsong voice. I steadied myself for I had known her type before, the kind of person who set one’s heart aflutter.
“Yo,” Azarashi simply said, raising his hand in greeting. “Is everyone ready to set out or does anyone need some time to get their things together?” He asked this, looking directly at me. I nearly squirmed where I stood. Was that some kind of remark about my equipment?
“I’m good to go,” I said, looking away and shuffling from foot to foot, trying to give the appearance that I was getting antsy. The Elezen laughed and he and his companion left the table, heading for the exit.
I followed behind with Eyriwaen who had been quiet the whole time. I looked up to him, frowning. “Is… is there something wrong with my attire?”
That blank mask regarded me for a long moment before he finally looked straight ahead once more. “It wouldn’t hurt to invest in something more practical for your role.” I blanched at the Roegadyn’s comment but quickly shook it off. It wasn’t my fault the majority of my personal belongings were five years lost, not to mention the equipment that was damaged beyond repair from the Battle of Cartenau. It was hard to purchase new equipment and pay for an inn room every night when one was on a fledgling adventurer’s salary.
We rented chocobos in town and rode out to the Tam-Tara Deepcroft in the Central region of the large forest surrounding Gridania known as The Black Shroud. These forests had once been vast and maze-like, and though they retained their size the long five years had proven ample time for more friendly routes to be established. The Tam-Tara Deepcroft was a subterranean crypt for lords and nobles, but had been unused for generations. As of late, a cult known as The Lambs of Dalamud had taken it up as their residence. They worshipped the fallen moon as their savior and had been striking out at those who fought against the satellite’s falling. Our mission was to remove them from the Deepcroft by any means necessary.
The Deepcroft was well-lit by numerous torches strewn through the bricked passageways, however the light splayed shadows in every direction. Azarashi took point as we descended into the tombs. The passageway opened up and we entered a large cavern that was lit by an eerie glow.
I approached the ledge of the outcropping we stood on and looked down. Far below I could see a sphere of magical energy floating above a pillar of stone with tethers of magic leading to orbs on other platforms. Cult members were busy performing their dark rituals at these altars and I realized that they were attempting to summon something.
“This doesn’t look good at all, we better find a way down and stop those guys.” I said as the others joined me at the ledge.
“It looks like there used to be one large spiral walkway here,” Sorasha pointed out, “but parts of it are broken. I don’t think we could jump it?”
“We’ll just have to find another way,” Azarashi said with a nod and we all walked down the path on the outside wall of the pit. There was one passageway leading away from the main room right before the first break in the path.
With nowhere else to go, we followed it. The Deepcroft was infested with large insects, mites and beetles and other vermin that we ignored as we explored the tombs. We passed a number of rooms which all turned out to be dead ends, but the main path still sloped downward so we continued to follow it. It looped back around and we finally emerged on a lower platform in the main room.
Straight ahead, two cultists were busy performing their rites to the orbs which seemed to be fueling the summoning further below. Whatever they were trying to call forth from the pulsating sphere of magic couldn’t be good. I opened up my Grimoire and was about to step forward, but Sorasha grabbed me by my arm and halted me with a smile.
Beside her Azarashi was fishing into his pack which he pulled a pair of goggles from. He situated them on his head before pulling them down over his eyes. He then drew his polearm and rushed out ahead of us. He yelled as he jumped and tossed his polearm at the nearest cultist. The projectile speared through the man’s chest and he dropped. Alerted by our presence, the second cultist retaliated by summoning a handful of imps.
Now the rest of us joined in, Eyriwaen healing and staving off Azarashi’s wounds as he ducked and dodged the imps while retrieving his thrown weapon and Sorasha and I throwing spells. Sorasha’s magic was far more destructive than mine, the woman easily manipulating volleys of ice and fire. Between her and Azarashi the remaining cultist and his imps were no match. I frowned and took a moment to summon a Carbuncle familiar.
Azarashi and Eyriwaen began examining the orb on the altar, trying to figure out what they could do to sever the link between it and the mass of darkness above us.
“It’s cute,” I heard Sorasha say.
“What?” I turned away from the men at work and looked at the Elezen woman. She was smiling, her face lit up like a cherub.
“Your familiar,” she said, admiring Carbuncle. “I was never good at summoning familiars. It’s absolutely adorable.”
I relaxed a bit and smiled lightly. “Thanks.” Sorasha knelt down to pet Carbuncle and I returned my attention back to the two men who were still figuring out the magical device. “Does he not like me?”
“Who? Aza?” The idea must have seemed funny because she laughed behind her hand. I flushed and looked away. “He’s just like that sometimes. He gets worried during missions like this. There’s a lot of adventurers who… just don’t make it. There’s a demand for manpower and adventurers are taking on tasks unprepared.” She watched Azarashi, concern clear on her face, and I realized I had found myself adventuring with another couple.
I nodded and was about to speak, but was interrupted by an outburst. “I’m telling you, I say we just break it!” Azarashi shoved the orb on the altar hard and it rolled off, shattering on impact with the floor. There was an audible thrum in the air as the stream of power leading to the mass of energy was severed. “See, what did I tell you? One down, three to go!” Azarashi grinned smugly as he stepped away from the altar and began heading further down the outside spiral walkway. Eyriwaen joined us silently, his true emotion hidden away behind that mask of his. I thought about commenting on it but decided otherwise.
The spiral walkway only lasted so long before we once again had to take a path that branched away from the large room. It took us some time but we managed to navigate our way further into the depths and emerged on the third platform in the large room. Much like before, we quickly dispatched the cultists attending the orb on the altar and destroyed it. Down below on the last platform were the remaining two orbs.
“I don’t get it,” Azarashi said with a shrug. “Don’t these guys notice that they’re down two magic doohickeys?” He said, looking over the edge down at the last group. “You’d think by now we’d be meeting some sort of resistance.”
I joined Azarashi at the edge and looked down myself. There were two cultists attending the altars and a third, this one in a red hooded robe, watching the others. He then looked up straight at us. I couldn’t quite make out his features, but I had a feeling he was grinning like a madman. “Yeah, that’s never good,” I said dryly. “We better hurry up.”
“Agreed,” Eyriwaen said. “It looks like their ritual can’t be stopped unless all of those orbs are destroyed. We’re just slowing them down.”
Once more we delved deeper into the tombs, looking for another way down. The broken spiral walkway was beginning to drive me nuts as it required us to spend crucial time finding a safer route down. The last gap was far too big to even think about jumping it without having wings. The further down we went the less brickwork there was in the walls and the more cave-like the Deepcroft became. We finally emerged onto the final platform with the remaining two altars where the man in red robes waited.
I snagged Azarashi before he could charge. “Hold up.” I picked up a rock and tossed it at the cultist leader. He didn’t even flinch, and why would he? The rock stopped mid air as though it hit a wall, a flash of purple magic rippling outward upon impact. “No wonder he’s just waiting for us, he set up a barrier.” I glowered at the cultist leader who continued to grin madly.
“The two behind him are busy with their ritual and he doesn’t look like he’s got enough power to fuel that thing from the inside,” Eyriwaen said. “There might be a group of people keeping it up. Let’s look and see if we can find them.”
Azarashi chuckled. “So just like the orbs, smash ‘em and we sever the link.” He pounded his fist into his other hand and we pressed on. Sure enough, we found a final altar with a number of cultists focusing their magic on protecting their leader.
This group however was protected by a number of armed soldiers.
“We’re going to have to fight to bring down that barrier…” Sorasha said what we were all thinking. I nodded in agreement and I sent Carbuncle off after the nearest guard. The guard was surprised to see the Carbuncle familiar and began to laugh right up until Azarashi’s polearm pierced him through the chest. The Elezen Lancer rushed in quickly after his toss and pulled his weapon free in time to parry a blow from a second guard.
Sorasha threw down volleys of ice and fire and lightning and I joined her with my own magic missiles. Before long we had subdued the guards. The Thuamaturge let out a triumphant cheer and laughed. She sure was a cheery one despite the work of an adventurer. Azarashi quickly interrupted the ritual keeping the barrier erect and Sorasha slept the remaining cultists. We quickly returned to the last altar and found the cultist leader waiting for us. He still had that wild look in his eyes. We had him outnumbered now but that spark of insanity was still enough to drive him on. As we approached he let out a mocking laugh, summoning a creature from the Void.
The Voidsent was a tall dark creature with large wings, almost like if a bat had tried to take on the shape of a man. Unimpressed by the reinforcements, Azarashi jumped into battle again and went toe to toe with the demon. He dodged swipes of claws and bursts of dark magic while Sorasha and I rained down our magic on it. Our abundance of firepower wore the Voidsent down and it quickly collapsed. With nowhere left to run, the cultist leader leapt over the edge of the platform into the abyss below.
“Job well done, then?” Azarashi asked as he pushed the first of the last two orbs off its altar. Sorasha had slept the last two cultists performing the ritual, leaving us with no resistance.
“I think we performed adequately,” Eyriwaen agreed, shoving the last orb. With both orbs broken and the links severed, we looked up at the black mass of magic, waiting to watch it dissipate.
“How long does this usually take?” Sorasha asked quietly.
“I think it’s getting bigger.” Azarashi said with a frown.
The ground around us began to rumble and platforms of rock moved into place, creating a bridge between us and the stone pillar in the center of the room. The black undulating sphere of magic high above it began to pulse faster until it exploded outward. Something descended from the Void and landed in the center of the stone pillar. It let out a terrible inhuman scream.
This thing, that Voidsent that had been summoned from the Void, it was a disgusting sight to behold. It stood like a man in robes, but where a man’s head would have been was a squid. Large black eyes and numerous tentacles moving in all directions, it held a staff in its hand and shrieked out again in challenge.
“I think squid-face here wants a go.” Azarashi said, leveling his polearm.
“We can’t let that thing get out of here,” Eyriwaen said grimly. “That thing is evil, we must stop it.”
“Got any plans?” I asked.
“Hit it until it’s dead!” Azarashi yelled as he ran across the bridge toward the creature. The Lancer’s rush was met with a blast of magic that sent him sprawling.
“Aza!” Sorasha cried out, running across the bridge. I gritted my teeth and followed, Eyriwaen and my Carbuncle familiar at my side. The Roegadyn Conjurer quickly went to work curing Azarashi’s injury and I sent Carbuncle in to distract the creature. It struck out again with its dark magic, casting my familiar aside.
“Sorasha, this guy likes magic, lets give him a taste of our own.” I said, pulling the Elezen to her feet. She looked back to Azarashi and I pulled her again. “He’ll be fine, after we beat that thing!” I opened my grimoire and began dropping all the debilitating spells I knew on the creature. Sorasha flung intense blazes of fire at it, spurred on by her pressing need to protect her lover.
It seemed like our magic was taking no effect on the Voidsent, slipping right off of it and barely leaving a mark. “We could really use a hand over here!” I shouted to Eyriwaen who was still administering to Azarashi’s wounds.
“Kind of busy, thanks,” the Roegadyn replied sarcastically. I turned my attention back to the Voidsent and was hit hard in the chest by a bolt of its magic. I rolled perilously close to the edge of the structure we fought on but managed to scrape myself to a stop. I groaned in pain on the ground and looked up in time to see Sorasha suffer a similar hit. She collapsed to the ground, her staff skittering away from her. This left Eyriwaen unprotected, still attending to the fallen Lancer.
The Voidsent drew closer, bearing down on the Conjurer. My vision was beginning to fade as it became harder and harder to stay conscious. I saw Eyriwaen stand before the creature, his expressionless mask staring down those bulbous black eyes. There was a brilliant light as Eyriwaen raised a staff high. I could feel the light emanating from that staff lending me strength and healing my injuries. I stood up, feeling completely refreshed as though I hadn’t spent the better part of the evening spelunking and fighting cultists. I could see Azarashi and Sorasha standing as well. The staff held high in Eyriwaen’s hand vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, becoming his small wand once more.
The Voidsent had staggered back to the center of the structure at the onset of the bright light and now it stood trying to regain its bearings. Without a word we began attacking in unison. I flung missiles of magic at the beast while Sorasha alternated between shards of ice and gouts of flame. Eyriwaen even joined in the magical assault by flinging chunks of rock and blasts of wind at it. Azarashi fended the beast back toward the edge of the structure with deft thrusts of his polearm. It stepped tentatively backward, nearly plummeting. The Elezen jumped, tossing his weapon into the creature’s chest. The force of the blow sent it over the edge and into the darkness below.
Azarashi stood at the edge, silence reigning over the Deepcroft once more. He turned back and looked at the rest of us. “That was my favorite spear.”
We returned to Gridania by teleporting to the Aetheryte plaza located just outside the Carline Canopy. As Sorasha, Eyriwaen and I began walking toward the building, Azarashi excused himself and started running off toward the section of town known as Old Gridania. We reported our success to Mother Miounne and sat down at the same table we met at to relax.
I leveled a gaze at Eyriwaen. “Ok, same deal as with Oliver? Voices and then the blinding light?”
The Conjurer nodded. “Yeah. I heard a voice speak to me and I just knew what to do. Pretty good timing.”
Sorasha joined us at the table, carefully carrying four mugs in her hands. “What was good timing?”
“You and the drinks,” I said before Eyriwaen could answer. “Now if only we could get some food I could rest happy tonight.”
“Your food will be out when it’s good and ready!” Mother Miounne called out across the tavern with a laugh.
I shrugged my shoulders and grinned. I then jumped in shock as a booming thud shook the table. I looked up at Azarashi who had just returned, a wide smile on his face. He nodded down at the table and I spotted the source of the noise. The Elezen had slammed a thick grimoire down while my back was turned. The book was bound with blue backing and gold designs adorned it.
“What’s this for?” I asked, tracing my fingers over the volume.
“Well, I suppose it’s my way of apologizing,” he said, scratching the back of his head and looking away.
“Apologizing for wh-” I looked over at Sorasha. “Did you tell him what we talked about?”
Sorasha just smiled. “Guilty.”
“Well, get over it,” Azarashi said with a grin. “I don’t need you going all mushy over me. Now if you would excuse me, I’m going to go put my food order in.” Azarashi then stepped away from the table and approached Mother Miounne.
“You really shouldn’t have…”I said to Sorasha, still admiring the book.
She shook her head, giving me another one of her smiles that beamed like sunshine. “Don’t worry about it. It seemed like it really bothered you that Aza didn’t trust you. But like I said earlier, he means well.”
I nodded. “Thank you, both of you.”
She smiled again and then a look crossed her face as though she had just remembered something. “Oh, by the way. I wanted to ask you where you got your tattoo.”
I blinked at the woman for a moment. My what? “Huh?”
“The tattoo on your back. It’s really pretty.” She said, pointing to my back. I looked over my shoulder as best I could. My chemisette exposed my upper back and shoulders, and I could just make out the edge of some design nestled between my shoulder blades. I turned back to Sorasha, thinking quickly. “Th-that thing? Oh, I really can’t remember, it was so long ago.” I laughed a little to cover up my lie. “So, tell me about how you met Azarashi. He’s certainly an interesting character.”
I only half listened as Sorasha spoke to me, busy going over the thoughts in my head. First Oliver and Eyriwaen hearing voices and summoning weapons of light, and now a strange tattoo on my back that I didn’t have before. Just how long had it been there? I had a funny feeling it had to have been since I returned from my jaunt through time. Did this mean that other Warriors of Light had the same mark? These clues were beginning to slowly fall into place, but the mystery was just growing larger by the minute. I tried to focus on the conversations as the night progressed and we celebrated after our close call and victory, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the mystery behind the Warriors of Light was only growing deeper.
Another dungeon tackled, another threat to Eorzea taken down! Not much to say regarding this one, but I'm sure I'll ramble on for quite some time. Once again the other characters are based off of friends of mine in game. Azarashi and Sorasha are another couple outside of the game and it would be impossible to write one in without the other. Once again, this results in a strange party makeup where there is no tank, and I managed to convey that in the way I wrote this part I think. The group seems to have an overwhelming amount of firepower until they come upon the big bad of the dungeon and find that their strength isn't quite enough.
I'm not sure how I came upon the idea to make the Limit Breaks as a gift from Hydaelan, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch. The cutscene in the beginning where you form a weapon of light to strike out at the Ascian. The fact that all the weapons created during a Limit Break have the same brilliant glow as if they're just fabrications of light. I'm really just working with what I'm given here, so I feel it's a good way to interpret was is pretty much just a game mechanic.
Ok, so I didn't ramble too much. As always, I accept compliment and criticism alike as well as questions. I do have to say that as much as I would like to get Copperbell Mines in for tomorrow, it might not happen. I've actually got a stack of work on my desk that needs taking care of. So whether or not it gets posted tomorrow or over the weekend or even Monday, please look forward to it.