Morning came fast and it seemed like I hadn't gone to bed at all. When I awoke, the Waking Sands was still just as busy as when I had retired for the night. I quickly got myself ready for the day, had a light breakfast, and paid a visit to Minfilia's office to see what I could do to assist with the move. My task for the day wouldn't exactly turn out as I expected.
"Good morning, Minfilia," I said as I knocked on her open door. "Here I am, ready to receive orders. Whether slaying monsters or handling delicate negotiations, I'm your girl."
Minfilia laughed lightly. "As ever, your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated." She smiled and beckoned me to come in and take a seat. I joined her at the desk, a spring in my step on the way, and sat. "Our first step will be to secure the cooperation of the Adventurer Guild's representatives in Revenant's Toll. Were it not for the guild's considerable efforts, the original Camp Revenant's Toll would have never been established, much less its more heavily fortified successor."
Revenant's Toll had been a dingy encampment in Mor Dhona, before the Calamity. Even now it wasn't much to look at, but the camp was slowly expanding and digging a more solid foothold.
"However, with construction still ongoing and resources in short supply, it seems certain that the guild will require something in return for their support, sympathetic to our cause though they may be."
"Doesn't that bring us back to yesterday's issue, about repaying favors?" I asked.
"Whatever they ask, I shall not begrudge it. To be plain, we need them more than they need us. Without their assistance, such essential tasks as securing new facilities, cultivating relationships with local merchants, and recruiting adventurers would prove difficult, if not impossible."
"You need not concern yourself with such matters, Antecedent," Alphinaud announced as he strolled into the office.
"Really, Alphinaud," Minfilia shook her head. "If I need concern myself with anything, it is surely matters such as these." She looked like she was still a little frustrated with the Elezen after the events of the previous day. I was too, for that matter.
"Indirectly, perhaps. I submit that you might instead concern yourself with a different matter: namely, to whom the resolution of such matters might best be entrusted. And here I am! Nor do I come alone. May I present the esteemed emissary of the Adventurer's Guild at Revenant's Toll."
At Alphinaud's introduction, a man entered the room. The emissary gazed about Minfilia's office before finally setting his eyes on her. "It is an honor, Antecedent," he said flatly. "Upon receiving word of your intentions from Master Alphinaud, we thought it best to begin talks at the earliest available opportunity." Earliest was right, it was only scant hours ago that the decision had been made to move to Mor Dhona. Had Alphinaud this meeting in the works already? "Know that my associates at Revenant's Toll hold the Scions of the Seventh Dawn in the highest regard. We should be honored to welcome your organization."
"There are, of course, certain provisions which must needs be negotiated," Alphinaud said, stepping back to the fore. "If it pleases you, I would do so."
Minfilia made a straight face and nodded ever so slightly. "It does."
Alphinaud and the emissary made to leave, but the man stopped. "Madam, unless I am much mistaken, you are the one known as Rosalyn, are you not?" He asked. I looked up, surprised to be addressed by the man.
"Aye..." I said warily.
"May I say what a pleasure it is to make your acquaintance. Slafborn spoke of you in the most glowing terms. To steal an Imperial reaper and then use it to infiltrate a Garlean castrum is an undertaking few would contemplate - and fewer still survive."
"Had the circumstances been better, I wouldn't the need to have done so. It's not something I'd care to repeat."
The emissary chuckled as though I had made the wittiest of jokes. "You shall always be welcome at Revenant's Toll. We hope you will favor us with your presence again ere long." With that the emissary and Alphinaud left, leaving Minfilia and myself alone once more.
"Well, well!" Minfilia grinned. "It would seem your reputation precedes you! Mayhap I should dispatch you to Revenant's Toll with all haste, as first intended..." She thought for a moment. "But there is something else I would ask of you first - not as a Scion, but as a friend."
I looked up in surprise. This was new. I wasn't expecting anything like that from Minfilia. She had been there for me during some of my hardest days, and we had some bond of friendship, but there had always been that wall between us. She would always be the Antecedent, our leader, and I would always be her soldier. To see a tantalizing ray of sunlight through cracks in that wall... I'd do anything for her, and I told her as much.
"My mother is troubled," she said with a sigh.
"She looked to be happy last night? Is something amiss?"
"I have seen her behave this way before, and I know she will dismiss my concerns if I inquire. Despite our closeness, she has ever been unwilling to burden me with her problems. It may be that she will welcome your concern, however. She likes you, Rosalyn. And more importantly, you are not family. Do not bother with subterfuges - she will know I sent you - simply do what you can to help her. That is all I ask."
Minfilia's mother liked me, huh? Is that another crack in the wall I see forming? "Of course. I will see what I can do."
"I am in your debt," Minfilia nodded.
I left the Antecedent's chambers and sought out F'lhaminn. I found her in one of the storage rooms, watching over the Scions as they went about packing materials. I stood next to her, leaning against a wall and watched in silence for a few moments.
"Oi," I finally said. "Minfilia says something's bothering you."
F'lhaminn smiled, though it did not reach her eyes. "Hmph. Have I become an open book, or has she acquired still greater powers of insight? I shall choose to believe the latter." We stood in silence for another moment, then F'lhaminn gave in. "If you must know, one of my earrings is damaged. I am not wont to sigh for such trifles, but... they were a gift." She reached into her pocket and thrust her hand out to me. I barely had enough time to catch the damaged earring in my palms. "Here - you wish to help yes? Then do what I cannot. Take them to the Goldsmiths' Guild in Ul'dah, and see if anything cannot be done."
"Why can't you..." I started to ask.
"There are places to which one must never return. Grasping, insatiable places. They strip us of our wisdom, our worldliness - reduce us to our lesser selves... And leave us cold and shivering..."
I nodded in response to F'lhaminn's sage words. I had a feeling I knew what she meant. There were places I never wanted to return to either. Ridding myself of those thoughts, I placed the earring safely in my pack and set out to Ul'dah. It was still relatively early by the time I reached the Goldsmiths' Guild, but the craftsmen there were already busy. I shared my request with the Guildmaster and she directed me to the least busy craftsman, a dark haired Lalafell named Memedesu.
He looked up at me, squinting through his magnified glasses before taking them off and blinking. "Yes, what is it?" I relayed Memedesu my reason for visiting and he sighed, probably because I was making him do work. "Earrings, you say? Very well, let me see them..." I handed pair of earrings to him and he gasped. "By the Twelve, I know this design! Humble cat's-eyes polished and set so exquisitely as to make the clearest of diamonds seem dour and dull..." The goldsmith looked up at me, his eyes twinkling. " F'lhaminn's Aria! A-and if I am any judge of quality - crafted by Master Niellefresne himself!"
"Is... is that a big deal?" I asked.
Memedesu looked around, making sure no one saw his excitement. "Oh! Oh dear me... Ahaha!" He could barely contain his mirth. "And I thought myself above sentiment. Look at my hands! They're shaking!"
I rolled my eyes. They're just earrings. "How much is this going to cost me?"
Memedesu looked up at me in shock. "No,no. I require no payment, madam. To be entrusted with this duty is reward enough! But since I must needs devote my full attention to the task at hand, mayhap you could attend a small matter while I work?" I resisted the urge to tell the Lalafell that a favor for a favor is still payment, but acquiesced. "I have an appointment to meet one of my suppliers - a fellow by the name of Odinel - at Byregot's Strike in southern Thanalan. He has prepared a shipment of ore for me, you see. If you would collect it in my stead, I should be most grateful."
"Alright, I suppose that's the least I could do."
"Breath," I heard Memedesu tell himself as I left. "Concentrate! Remember your training. It's just another piece. It's just... another... piece..."
It took me a few hours to ride out to the large digsite in the Sagolii Desert southeast of Forgotten Springs. I could see the large drill digging into the earth from a distance, the machinery spewing smoke into the sky. I met with Memedesu's contact and retrieved from him a sack of assorted ores. He expressed his pleasure that Memedesu himself didn't come to retrieve the ores, as the Lalafell scrutinized the miner's finds with an impeccable eye. With the sack of ores in hand, I returned to Ul'dah as fast as I could.
"You've returned at the perfect time, friend!" Memedesu said gleefully when I made it back.
"Are the earrings repaired?" I asked.
"Ah, yes - may I have my ore?" I was surprised at his quick jump to the topic of the ores and handed over the sack. "Good, good. I shall sort through these later. Now - the Aria! Fortunately, only the clasp was damaged - the rest seemed remarkably well maintained. You may be sure that I took every possible precaution when replacing the broken section. Oh, and I also took the liberty of polishing the piece, as you can see."
I took the earrings back and inspected them. They dazzled brilliantly in the light. "You went to some pretty great lengths here, you sure you don't want any money for the work?"
"No, no, I require no payment. Truth be told, I would happily have paid you for the privilege of laying hands on such a masterpiece. To have attended to its restoration may well be the defining achievement of my career thus far. My sincerest thanks."
I bid the Goldsmith my thanks and farewell, then returned to the Waking Sands with F'lhaminn's repaired earrings. I found the Miqo'te where I left her and returned and she was glad to see me back in the Waking Sands.
"Well? Did you do as I bid you? Pray, tell me your trip was not for naught."
"It was no problem at all," I said as I handed her the earrings.
She stared at them for a silent moment. "Rosalyn, I..." She bit her lower lip. "Thank you. They sparkle as they did the day Nielle gave them to me."
"That... Niellefresne guy?"
F'lhaminn nodded. "...My Nielle, who sleeps even now - looking for all the world as if that cursed blade had taken his young life mere moments ago... not years. Ye gods, I could almost bear it if he were truly gone... but here he lingers." She looked away longingly. "Can the soul be at peace while the flesh yet remains? Every day I pray that he has entered Thal's realm. I pray and I pray and I pray..." F'lhaminn turned back to me. "To love is to lose, child. One can but postpone the moment of parting. And so I shall. My daughter will not lose me again - not for a long while yet, gods willing."
I smiled. "That's good to hear. I should let her know that I'm back, we've still got work to do."
"Tell Ascilia that I am quite well, Rosalyn. She should concentrate on more important matters - and so should you." The Miqo'te gave me a little wink and I laughed.
"Right. Thank you."
I left F'lhaminn to reminisce with herself and returned to Minfilia's office. She looked up anxiously, I could still see the stress plain as day on her face.
"Your mother says she is 'quite well' and that you should be focusing on more important matters." I informed her as I took a seat.
" 'Quite well' you say? We both know she is not. Yet mayhap she will be in time. Thank you, Rosalyn. A thousand times, thank you."
F'lhaminn was turning out to be an interesting woman. First her sources of information on Minfilia and ours activities, and a lost lover locked in eternal slumber. I hadn't lost any lovers in my lifetime, having never had any longterm lovers in my lifetime to begin with. I couldn't imagine the pain she was going through. Of course, there was also the pain of witnessing that pain. Minfilia had to watch her mother live with that pain for years.
"Good, you're here." I heard Alphinaud say. I looked over my shoulder and saw him enter with the rest of the Scions following close behind. "The negotiations are concluded."
"And?" Minfilia asked.
"Our friends at the Adventurer's Guild have agreed to furnish us with new facilities and material support in exchange for our assistance in the ongoing defense and development of Revenant's Toll. The Scions of the Seventh Dawn shall have a new home in Mor Dhona: The Rising Stones."
"A bittersweet victory, if truth be told," Y'shtola mused. "I cannot deny that I had come to look forward to Tataru's tales of our many guests and their many, many demands."
"From the Waking Sands to the Rising Stones... Passably poetic." Thancred said with a grin. "That wasn't you're doing, was it?" He teased the conjurer.
"I too have news to share," Minfilia announced, and all eyes and ears were hers. "In expectation of this momentous day, I personally informed the Alliance leaders of our plans, and they have each pledged their full support - General Raubahn included. Moreover, I have decided that the time is right for us to cast off the vestiges of our order's veil of secrecy and announce ourselves to the world."
"Are you sure that is wise, Antecedent?" Alphinaud probed.
"If anything, it is a mere formality. Our existence is quite possibly the worst kept secret in Eorzea." She said with a smile. "Let us affirm our identity, proclaim our achievements, that all may know what the Scions of the Seventh Dawn stand for."
"Well... obvious risks apart, it would be nice to receive a little more recognition..." Papalymo smirked.
"And the people have a right to know who saved them!" Yda added.
"It is my hope that this gesture will encourage the people of Eorzea to place their trust in us. I would reveal to them the true extent of our power, yes, but in so doing, I would show them that it is a power accountable to no one, and at once to all." Minfilia looked to each of us. "And what of us? We who have felled Primals and faced down the Empire. To you, my fellow Scions, I would say this: Prepare for the challenges which lie ahead, for they will be great indeed. Great, I say, yet no greater than us. And we will rise to them, as we have time and again, united as one."
There was much talk amongst the Scions until Minfilia dismissed them to return to their duties. I was about to leave myself when a look from the Antecedent stopped me. She motioned through the open door to Alphinaud and simply shook her head.
"Do you ever wonder how he does it? Alphinaud, I mean. It was almost predictable that he should appear with an emissary of the Adventurers' Guild mere moments after I expressed the need to forge ties between our organizations." She shook her head again. "Truly, his sense of timing rivals even your own.."
"I dare not speak my opinion on the matter," I said with a frown.
Minfilia thought my words over before continuing. "Setting such mysteries aside for the present - I have two tasks for you. First, I would like you to deliver these documents to Slafborn." She set a stack of vellum on the table before her. "They concern our forthcoming move. Second - and this is the more onerous task - I would have you place yourself at his disposal, in accordance with the agreement between ourselves and the Adventurers' Guild."
I gathered the stack of papers tied together with string and placed them carefully in my pack. "I'll get these to Mor Dhona immediately."
"Represent us well, Rosalyn." Minfilia smiled.
I made my leave and rode to Camp Horizon where I begrudgingly used the Aetheryte services to teleport to Revenant's Toll. The encampment in Mor Dhona had started out as a dump, and it was a wonder that it had an Aetheryte at all. Dirt roads, tents, and only two real buildings. Constantly in a state of flux since I last passed through, there had been many changes in the short months. More permanent buildings had replaced some of the tents and scaffolding was erected around much of the camp. Workers toiled endlessly to clear rock and crystal alike to make way for expansions. There was even the beginnings of outer walls.
I found Slafborn easily enough, the Roegadyn wasn't hard to miss. I watched for a few moments as he directed worker and adventurer alike. During a brief respite from giving commands he spotted me and grinned like a fool.
"I was told to expect a Scion, but I didn't expect it to be you," Slafborn slapped me hard on the back in welcome.
"Been too long," I said, suppressing a wince.
"Far too long, Rosalyn! You have something for me, yes?" I nodded and retrieved the documents from my pack and handed them over. The Roegadyn flipped through them quickly. "Let's see now... Yes, everything appears to be in order. You'll be staying with us for a while, yes?"
"I'm yours to order as you see fit," I offered. "Put me to work."
"Excellent!" Slafborn laughed. "Would that we had a dozen more like you! Since we don't, though, we'll just give you the work of a dozen men!" I must have made a face because Slafborn laughed aloud again. "I jest, I jest. Though, there is one task I would have you perform for me. I'm waiting on a supply carriage from Gridania. It should've been here by now, even if they stopped a spell in Fallgourd Float to wet their whistles."
Supplies would always have to move from through the North Shroud, then Coerthas, before reaching Revenant's Toll. With no airship dock and Castrum Centri between Mor Dhona and the northernmost reaches of Thanalan, any and all supplies would have to be brought by foot the long way. It may be a massive expenditure, but I suggested an airship landing to Slafborn as a plan for future construction. He laughed and told me to go "stretch my legs" as a nice way of telling me to get to work. Friend or not, I was now under his employ and he'd treat me as such.
Another dizzying trip via Aetheryte and I was standing in Fallgourd Float in the North Shroud. I wondered if I was perhaps getting used to the quick travel of teleportation, that is until I spent a moment hanging over the railing of a bridge and heaving down a ravine. Heroes weren't supposed to get sick to their stomach. They were supposed to be stoic and stalwart, not stumbling and loosing their insides like they'd been drinking all night.
Grumbling the whole way, I reported to the nearest authority I could find, a Wood Wailer leaning heavily on his spear. I asked him if he had seen the missing carriage and, looking bored, thought about it a moment. "A supply carriage bound for Revenant's Toll? Hasn't come through here, I can tell you that. But..." He stopped as though remembering something. "Maybe it's the same one? We just received word of an Ixali attack on a carriage, you see. Seems like too much of a coincidence, but you never know. May as well have a look, eh? You'll find one of our men on the scene - the carriage was waylaid on the road just east of here."
In my time as an adventurer, I had learned that there was no such thing as coincidence. True to his word, I found the abandoned and ransacked carriage some ways east of Fallgourd Float. Another Wood Wailer was investigating the scene, and by investigating I mean standing there doing a whole lot of nothing. The Ixali had taken a foothold in the northernmost region of the Shroud, having set up a logging grounds to harvest materials for their fortifications in Coerthas. The missing supplies and hostage coachmen would most likely be there.
Leaving the attack sight behind I traveled north past the old Gelmorra Ruins and the watchtower known as Eygenia's Spire to Proud Creek where the Ixali outpost was. Nestled mostly on the river, floating bridges spanned the small land masses. It was here the Ixali brought the logs stolen from the Twelveswood and sent it upstream to be picked up and transported to Natalan in Coerthas. With only one land-side entrance into the compound, it was easily defensible and only had two guards.
The Ixali, the bird-like beastmen that worshiped Garuda, were a fanatical tribe of zealots, and some of the most dangerous around. The Sylph of Little Solace were cooperative in their own ways, though the Sylphs that had been touched by Ramuh were another story. I had even encountered a tribe of Amalj'aa that weren't hellbent on tempering thralls for Ifrit. The beastmen weren't all bad, but these small branches were the minority. The last place I expected to find unlikely friends was here.
The two Ixali guards went down easy enough, one silent arrow for each, then I was rushing across the bridge into the heart of the logging grounds. I stepped onto one of the small islands and from the discarded equipment I figured the bulk of the work was done here. Scanning my immediate surroundings, I found another bridge leading across the water to another island with huts. Moving quickly and watching for any sign of attack, I approached the huts.
Within I found the missing coachmen, both bound and gagged. I was in the middle of untying the two when a pair of Ixali emerged from the largest hut. They let out a sqwuak of protest and three more Ixali joined them. This was apparently the group that had ambushed the carriage.
The first rushed me with a sword held high but an arrow through its throat dropped it in its tracks. One down, four to go... Apparently not content attacking me one at a time, two Ixali moved to attack me from both sides. With my gaze trying to track the two moving in closer, I barely noticed the Conjurer weaving Aether. I released an arrow and took the Ixali out just as a conjured wind ripped at me, the two Ixali on my sides quickly moving in to strike.
Gritting my teeth and ignoring the sharp wind that sliced at me, I turned quickly toward the closest of the two Ixali and loosed an aether infused arrow. It struck the ground before the Ixali's feat and fire erupted upward. The Ixali tried to stop but only stumbled into the flames and rolled on the ground ablaze. I spun the rest of the way to face the second Ixali but only had enough time to draw another arrow and duck a slash from its sword arm. Stuck in close proximity, I gripped the arrow in my hand tight and jammed it into the Ixali's chest once, twice, three times before giving it a savage kick in the knee.
As the Ixali dropped to the ground I drew another arrow and loosed it point blank into the beastmen's skull. I turned to face the last of the beastmen and gave the bird-like creature a blank stare. The fighting couldn't have lasted more than a minute and I had dropped four of them with insignificant injuries. The last Ixali dropped its weapon and slowly retreated back into its hut.
Free of distractions for the time being, I quickly freed the coachmen and gathered up the stolen supplies. They thanked me the whole way back to Fallgourd Float, and by then I had learned that I had only managed to recover a fraction of the intended supplies for Revenant's Toll. The Ixali logging grounds had been mostly empty because the more valuable items were already being transported to Natalan. They were as good as gone.
I had my injuries patched up by a conjurer in Fallgourd Float, had a quick bite to eat, and took the long way back to Revenant's Toll by way of Coerthas. It was mid afternoon by the time I reported to Slafborn of the Ixali attack on the supply carriage and the rescue. The whole time I spoke to the Roegadyn he was busy attending to other matters. One of these matters caught my eye.
A number of workers were busy with a pulley system, hoisting a rock of some sort to the top of the tallest building. It only caught my eye because of its color, a light cream tone that was a glaring contrast to the dark rock and shimmering crystal that made up the landscape of Mor Dhona. "Oi, what's the rock?"
"The Toll grows and prospers - and attracts the jealous attention of Garleans and low creatures. And so we must see to our fortifications if we are not to be overrun." Slafborn chuckled. "The perimeter wall is solid enough. What we lack is less perceptible - magical defenses that will repel our enemies, the sort scholars of antiquity say were powered by ancient wardstones."
I watched as the stone was raised higher into the air. "So you got a... magic rock?"
"I was told there were many such stones in the ruins of Qarn - the Sunken Temple. More than a few temple raiders have been foiled by their magicks, no doubt." Slafborn grinned at me, as though letting me in on a joke. "It seems a fine jest that we adventurers are now to be guarded by the same magic that protected the treasures of Qarn against our too-adroit fingers!"
I shook my head, still not sure. "You're saying that rock will protect us?"
"Can you not feel the power that emanates from that humble stone!?" He appraised my straight face and shrugged. "Eh? Not really? Let me tell you, there is more true magic than you credit in taking all possible precautions." He had a point. If this magical stone could somehow protect Revenant's Toll from attack, whatever troubles had been gone through to obtain it must have been worth it. "One thing's for certain: that temple managed to stymie more explorers than ordinary dangers can account for. If any of that can be attributed to this stone, then it's Garleans and beastmen who'll have to settle their accounts with the gods!" Slafborn let out another roaring laugh and slapped me hard on the back. I held back a groan and watched as the stone was finally settled into place.
So, I'm sitting here at work at 9:30 am, up to my elbows in paperwork, and thinking to myself "Ok, the post goes live in a half hour." Then I'm all "Nophica's left teat! I didn't do a write up after the post!"
I only know two Eorzean curses, the aforementioned left teat of Nophica and "Thal's balls". I wonder if there's a collection anywhere of all the curses used in the game, cause I could really use that as good reference material. It's really hard to keep the dialogue for Rosalyn, and other player characters, in the same vein as the dialogue from NPCs. A lot of them speak as though they're from some fantasy realm, as they should, and I wonder if I need to be adding some more "doth"s and "thou"s anywhere. Of course, I also think even that is archaic in terms of Eorzea because of the way people treat Urianger like no one understands what he's saying.
Which leads me to Rosalyn's speech patterns. She can be rather blunt at times, her sentences usually starting with "Oi" in these cases. It's one of those minor characteristics that I've integrated into all other variations of Rosalyn at this point, but XIV!Rosalyn is the only one who I read with some sort of accent. In my mind I use the voice of another fiery redhead, one Donna Noble from Doctor Who. She was also rather straightforward in showing her irritation at times. I don't really know if the voice fits perfectly, but it's my point of reference when Rosalyn is annoyed.
I cut out a couple parts of the quest line here, but did touch upon it. The Sunken Temple of Qarn is a level 35 dungeon, iirc, and a rather annoying one at that. This was more than likely the first case of Square-Enix implementing things that made level 50 players go back and assist new players (grinding Fates for Atma being the most prevalent and annoying). While they haven't forced us into low level dungeons anymore in the main story, we're still helping the others play catch up. And it's amazing how it's timed with platform releases. PS4 release was timed with the Fate grinding for Atma. I only dread what trials await us if XIV on the XBOne goes through.
The last part will probably go up Monday or Tuesday. I don't want to post it over the weekend and have it just get ignored (not that the 9~10am time slot is any better it seems). Then once end-of-the-month work is out of the way, I'll be getting into writing the 2.2 story. But that's getting ahead of myself at the moment. Next week's conclusion to A Realm Awoken includes the return of the supporting cast and some emotional drama (and what a cliffhanger!). As always, I hope you would please look forward to it.