Our search for information on the whereabouts of Cid's airship, the Enterprise, first lead us to Fallgourd Float. The Twin Adders stationed there informed us that one of the lookouts at Florentel's Spire had been stationed there five years earlier during the Calamity and had actually seen the missing airship. The Elezen there recounted the tale of how he had seen the Enterprise disappear over the mountains of Coerthas to the northwest. He recommended that we seek out the aid of the astrologists of the Observatorium to find out if they had seen the airship on the night Dalamud fell.

Coerthas was the region to the northwest of the Black Shroud and home to the bastion-like city-state of Ishgard. The Ishgardians were known best for their fervent religious ways and their hatred for the dragon-kind. Ruled by an Archbishop, the city of Ishgard had been sealed away and waging war against the dragons for generations. As a people, they were very xenophobic. I had a feeling that earning the trust of the locals would be an issue in our search for the Enterprise.

As we neared Coerthas I couldn't help but notice that the temperature was drastically changing. The rolling, windy hills and mountain ranges of Coerthas that I had remembered from five years before had given way to an unprecedented winter. I cursed my timing of switching to thinner clothes as we entered the snow-peaked region.

Our destination was the First Dicasterial Observatorium of Aetherial and Astrological Phenomena, or simply the Observatorium for short. As a showing of good faith we reported to an Ishgardian knight stationed there and offered our aid in exchange for the help from the Observatorium. Our arrival was welcomed with sneers and distrust. Even after explaining our situation, the knight was unwilling to help. Cid, Alphinaud and I were left with nothing to do but wait and hope that the knight would change his mind.

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We spent an hour sitting by a large furnace situated outside before the knight came strolling by. He suggested that if we insisted on staying we might as well assist him with a task that suddenly came up. He had sent a sentry out to scout the area to the west of the Observatorium some hours earlier and the sentry was late to return. We played hardball and the knight agreed to getting us an audience with the astrologians in exchange for my locating the lost sentry.

Luckily the sentry was only to scout a small area west of the outpost and I went out straight away. Upon arriving at the location I found a trail of blood on the snow leading off into the distance. I quickened my pace and soon found the man. He was injured and trembling from the cold. Before I could give aid I learned how the man had become hurt. Two hooded figures emerged from the trees, brandishing weapons. The sentry began yelling that the two were heretics that had attacked him.

I drew my bow and loosed an arrow at the pair's feet. They hesitated, sizing me up. I knocked a second arrow, pulled the bowstring back and held it there. The thugs took another step and the one carrying a lance fell with my arrow protruding from his chest. The second thug turned to run and made it three fulms before my next arrow found a home in his back.

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I treated the sentry's wounds as best as I could and escorted him back to the Observatorium. The knight stationed there was surprised to see that I had been successful in rescuing his senty. He held up to his end of the bargain and allowed us access into the Observatorium proper informing us to speak to a woman named Edmelle.

Edmelle was especially surprised to see that she was entertaining foreigners. When we asked her about the Enterprise she told us that if there were records of a sighting that we would need to speak to the Chief Astrologian, Forlemort, to access them. We found the Chief Astrologian on the uppermost level of the Observatorium and presented our request. Just like the knight, he was indignant with us and began to berate us for making such a "ridiculous request".

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The Chief Astrologian was in the middle of his tirade when another man approached. He introduced himself as Inquisitor Guillaime, and that he had been seeking an audience with Forlemort. Seeing that Forlemort was already busy with us he apologized for the interruption. Before he took his lead he suggested that we kept our noses out of Ishgardian affairs.

We were just about to give up with the Observatorium when we were approached by another astrologian. She introduced herself as Jocea and told us how she had overheard our request to the Chief. She said she knew of another way we could gain the information we sought but asked if we could do a favor for her first. A colleague of hers had left to perform observations at a cliff face to the east of the Observatorium but had not yet returned. The cliff face was located close to Ixali territory and she was concerned the beastmen may have attacked him.

I went out into the cold once more in search of another lost man. Though I had seen Ixali on my way to the cliff face, I managed to avoid any confrontations. When I reached the last known whereabouts of the astrologian I began my search. I found him shortly after and he was unscathed. I told him that I was there to bring him back to the Observatorium when things went sour. He explained that he had seen the Ixali and feared they'd attack should they find him, but he simply could not be seen with an "unbeliever", that he'd rather test his luck with the Ixali.

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I hung around and watched as the astrologian packed his supplies and trudged out into the snow back in the direction of the Observatorium. I followed behind him at a distance to make sure that he wasn't attacked and after seeing him safely back I returned to Jocea. She told me that the astrologian was a man of House Durendaire, one of the four High Houses of Ishgard, and he was clearly disgraced to have been rescued by a foreigner. She suggested that we speak to Lord Portelaine of House Durendaire and petition an audience with the other High Houses.

The next morning our meeting with Lord Portelaine went well. He admitted to the two favors that we had already done for his House, but told us that since there were three High Houses we were requesting an audience with, we would need to perform a third favor. I found it difficult to argue with his logic and was forced to go along with it. He told us that there had been an attempted robbery during the night, a porter had been attacked to the west of the Observatorium and lost the parcels he had been delivering. Lord Portelaine asked me to retrieve whatever I was able to locate from the scene of the crime.

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I was less than happy to be out in the cold again but I didn't have to go far before I found the signs of the attack. A thorough search of the area rewarded me with three lost packages. I was ready to return to the Observatorium with the parcels when a number of hooded figures emerged from the the snow. They had been wearing white hooded cloaks, allowing them to get the jump on me. One carried a lance, another a short sword, and a thaumaturge hung back conjuring up flames.

I knocked a poisoned arrow and loosed it at the thaumaturge. The arrow streaked by his arm, leaving a bloody gash. That was all it would take. I infused the next arrow with wind elemental aether and loosed it at the thaumaturge again. This arrow flew past his other arm and blades of wind sliced across him leaving numerous cuts. With the thaumaturge poisoned and bleeding out I turned my attention back to the two rushing at me.

I loosed an arrowed at the feet of the lancer and he froze where he stood, my arrow piercing his shadow and binding him in place. The man wielding the shortsword was coming within range. I knocked another arrow and leaped up and backward as I loosed it, repelling myself at least three yalms away with the force of the shot. With the distance between me and the swordsman I readied another arrow, drew back on the bowstring as hard as I could, and released a powerful shot. The arrow flew true and struck the swordsman in the chest. My next arrow took the lancer in the leg, and the following in his shoulder.

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With my attackers taken care of I gathered up the parcels and returned to the Observatorium. Lord Portelaine was congratulating me on a job well done as one of his men inspected the retrieved goods. There was a sudden curse and a commotion as one of the parcels was brought before Portelaine. Inside was a Draconian Rosary, a symbol of the heretics. The box it had been found in was marked for Lord Francel of House Haillenarte. This could be proof that Lord Francel was a heretic and Lord Portelaine brushed aside his promises of setting up audiences as he began considering informing the Inquisitors.

As Lord Portelaine spoke with his men, one of the grizzled knights caught my eye. He had been staring directly and openly at me since the Rosary had been uncovered and I could no longer ignore it. I approached him and told him that I really wasn't interested and he shook his head before drawing me aside. He insisted that Lord Francel was not a heretic and that these accusations could be disastorous for House Haillenarte. He pleaded that we deliver a warning to Lord Francel in Skyfire Locks, telling me to speak of an edelweiss to prove my trustworthiness.

This knight's request went directly against Lord Portelaine's suggestion that we make no interactions with House Haillenarte, but Lord Portelaine wasn't exactly getting us any closer to locating the Enterprise. We gathered up our belongings from the inn and started north to Skyfire Locks. When we arrived there I used the code word that the knight told me to use and we began discussing the Rosary with Lord Francel.

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Lord Francel lamented that this was not the first accusation that House Haillenarte were heretics. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the Inquisitors showed up and he'd have to answer to their inquiries. Because of that he would not be able to help us in our search for the Enterprise. To thank us for the warning he wrote a letter of introduction to Lord Haurchefant of House Fortemps, the head of Camp Dragonhead. He assured us that Lord Haurchefant would aid us in our search.

An hour later we were at the large fort of Camp Dragonhead before Lord Haurchefant. There was a grim look on his face as he read the letter detailing the accusations against House Haillenarte. Putting aside his anger he welcomed us to Dragonhead and insisted that we stayed as guests of House Fortemps. While we stayed he'd make inquiries into the whereabouts of the Enterprise on our behalf. Knowing that it would take some time before Haurchefant received word back we spent the evening in anxious relaxation.

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The next morning there still hadn't been word back. Cid kept himself busy tinkering with something or another and Alphinaud had disappeared to somewhere. With nothing to occupy my time I walked the grounds of Camp Dragonhead looking for something to do. I came across a number of knights in the middle of training and decided to join them. I had been a bit rusty with the bow and was thankful for the distraction either way.

Several hours went by and before I knew it I had been approached by Lord Haurchefant. He was impressed with my skills and thought that perhaps I needed a more active role in the search for the Enterprise. Though the High Houses of Ishgard may be unable or unwilling to assist in the search, there may be some sympathizers among the Houses who may have information. With a list of names in hand I borrowed a Chocobo and rode back to Skyfire Locks, then back to the Observatorium. I returned a few hours later with no more information that I departed with.

Lord Haurchefant informed me that his queries had yet to yield any results during the course of the day. But worst of all there had been reports of Lord Francel and a number of knights heading toward the Steel Vigil, a stronghold that had been lost to the Dravanian Horde long ago. Concerned for Francel, Haurchefant asked me to ride north to the Steel Vigil and find out why Francel would partake of such a dangerous expedition.

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I rode north without delay and found Lord Francel in the nick of time. I loosed an arrow from chocobo back, striking a Dravanian in the neck before the scalekin could attack Francel. I jumped down from the chocobo and leant aid to Francel. Lord Francel insisted that he was alright and asked me to find his knights who had fled at the onset of the attack. I didn't want to leave him but he again insisted he was alright and I searched the surrounding area for the knights.

I found the three knights no worse for wear and returned with them to Lord Francel. With his knights and him safe, I finally asked why he would attempt such a foolhardy journey. He informed me that he was attempting to improve the reputation of House Haillenarte by slaying some of the Dravanians that had taken the Steel Vigil. His House had suffered greatly from the loss on top of the recent accusations of heresy. He was thankful that I had saved his life but he knew that it was only a matter of time before he would have to answer to the judgement of the Inquisitors, whatever that may be.

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I reported back to Lord Haurchefant and informed him of what had happened. My return was welcomed with good news. He had finally located a witness to the final flight of the Enterprise. However, my visit to Lord Francel at Skyfire Locks had quickly become common knowledge and the witness was hesitant to aid a foreigner who had been consorting with an accused heretic. It seemed the only way to convince the witness to come forward was to prove Lord Francel's innocence. And I'd have to do it before the Inquisitors brought their judgement against him. If I couldn't save Francel, there would be no way for us to retrieve the Enterprise. No pressure.

—-

So here we are, second episode of the second season. Are you guys anxious for more? I was dreading getting into this segment of the game because it seemed to stretch on forever, but in one posting I've seemed to have knocked at least half of the Coerthas arc out of the way. I suppose it seemed longer when I played it since I was actually leveling Scholar at the time still and kept having to stop to gain just one more level to continue on the storyline. I loved it when the quests were level 36, 36, 38. Go spam Fates, nub.

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Coerthas reminded me of a snowy San d'Oria from Final Fantasy XI. There's a lot of very tall elves and they're really snooty and hate you no matter who you are. And they're all trying to stab each other in the back. Yeah, that was San d'Oria to the letter. It used to be so different in 1.0. There was no snow, it was a large mountain range with many winding paths leading through the hills. Ishgard was still there, still locked up and just sitting there across that large bridge, taunting us with its closed gate.

The landscapes in XIV are really gorgeous when you sit and take it all in. From the Burning Wall to Urth's Gift to the Wanderer's Palace sitting in the center of the Iron Lake. It's a beautiful game when you take the time to really look at it and enjoy it all. I like to spend the time looking for places to take screenshots. I've got the rig to run the game at maximum settings, might as well take advantage of it right?

For the players, which region is your favorite? Where do you like to hang out during downtime?