The steel airlock door creaked shut behind me. Footsteps investigating the noise drew close for a moment, but soon faded. I lowered myself into bed with a sigh. My right hand unconsciously drifted to the back of my head. There, beneath my pillow, it fell upon a picture frame. Within it, a disheveled room full of scrap iron, oil stains, and a single, beautiful flower...
Edea... My beloved Edea...
I pine for the chance to see a smile unfurl across your face set in equal parts courageous fire and innocence. I long to hear your voice, sweet like a spring breeze. Let it speak my name, and I shall die a happy man. I could hear the nervous shuffling outside my door of someone afraid to disturb me. Not afraid enough, it seems.
I returned the photo to its hiding place and answered without bothering to conceal my irritation. "I'm awake. What is it?"
I skimmed the manual I'd been given, then tossed it on the bed. I returned to Edea's smile, perfectly preserved within the picture frame. The Eschalot. My lips formed the word time and again as I watched the new ship in tow from my cabin porthole.
— Entry 9/20
I hurried for the capital as the sun dipped below the Norende Plateau. My steps are unnervingly light without my armor, and these clothes hang oddly on me. Most of all, I feel naked without a weapon.
I was greeted at the city's edge by the sound of a whistle marking the arrival of a merchant ship. Between the merchants and wholesalers, the dock workers unloading crates, the tired crewmen, and the eager children excited by the exotic wares, the port was buzzing with people. As I pushed my way upstream through the crowd and along the avenue toward the palace, I spotted a splendid building, its roof a rich navy.
This must be the inn the old fisherman described.
Inside, I found a man with a gentle mien sitting behind a well-polished counter. I asked after any vacancies, but he replied with a chagrined, "Sorry, we're all full up tonight." It feels quiet for a full inn, but I don't suppose I can blame him. A walk-in customer, at this hour. Clearly not a local. No one to vouch for me. Any respectable innkeep would offer some version of the same excuse.
When I inquired after a place to eat, he said down by the port there should be a cheap pub catering to sailors that's open until morning.
Lovely. Back down I go...
At the hill's bottom I ate my fill at a food cart aimed at drunken sailors. Now it's back up to the inn. I refuse to spend the night kept awake by carousing seamen.
I let myself into the empty house next door to the inn. I'll just have to sleep lightly.
— Entry 9/26
"I was awakened by the sound of sword practice, shouts of exertion, and the pleasant smell of toast. One of the king's guard, perhaps? Looks about my age, and reasonably skilled. I lay in my makeshift bed, lazily counting his swings.
"Hurry up, Owen. You'll be late."
Upon hearing the innkeep's words, the youth replied and made his way down from the misty hilltop and into the inn.
The scent of breakfast coming from next door has me drooling...
One bite of my rock-hard bread brought me back to reality. The bacon burnt coal black and the murky, bitter coffee made me wish it hadn't. I suppose I can expect no more from a shabby stand in the port.
After choking down my fill, I climbed the hill toward the palace. Supplied by a series of lush waterways, Caldisla was once a formidable city-fortress. These days, its hooked central avenue is lined with a magic shop, general store, armory and other businesses. A large gate stands as a vestige of that era, though now it serves mostly as a site for the town bulletin board.
"This year's boar hunt is set to begin once the final slot is filled! *Weapons provided by the hunting committee."
A boar hunt? With the duchy attacking? I was speechless. As I made to leave, I felt someone grasp my shoulder.
"This fellow says he'll join the hunt! We ride today!"
I turned, shock and irritation laid bare, only to find Owen, the young man I had seen practicing in the fog that morning.
My initial protests were drowned in a rising cheer, and as the smith handed me a broadsword and buckler, I dumbly accepted. Potions from the town chemist followed. Between their expectant smiles and Owen's grin, I found myself unable to say no.
On the road, I was told a litany of facts I cared nothing about. The search for food to fatten up before hibernating apparently drives the giant boars to local farms, where they raid crops and injure workers. As a result, the city gathers volunteers each year to hunt them. As captain of the guard (I discover), responsibility for overseeing the hunt falls upon Owen.
The armorer was slated to participate, but a leg injury has him on crutches. Owen says he was searching for a replacement when he found a promising candidate during his morning practice. Lucky him.
We walked a full, tiring day stalking our prey. First the trader gave out, then chatter dried up between the two young castle guards. Sunset found us upriver from the city, at the entrance to the Norende Canyon. Just as we decided to make camp, a rustling came from the thickets behind us!
The boar that leapt out was indeed a gianta vicious, one-tusked monster that had survived the last year's hunt. In a flash, it gored one of the guards, then the other, leaving only Owen, me, and the trader. The boar stamped the ground, preparing to charge the old man now paralyzed with fear.
I expect we'd all given up hope for the kindly old merchant, when the beast suddenly changed course. With only seconds to react, Owen landed a mighty blow, felling the monster in a single strike!
I set about treating the young guards' injuries. The trader, clearly still worked up, narrated Owen's victory to the two boys. With every reverent word, I felt as though I was being derided as useless.
The others took to sleep, while I sat watch to keep the fire going. Owen rose, and came to sit beside me.
I kept silent, but he pressed on.
"The boar only changed targets because you circled behind me and channeled your energy at it. It's thanks to you we're not carting home a corpse."
He sat waiting, apparently bent on receiving a response. His grin is infectious.
"I took the surest course of action," I replied as I held aloft my broadsword. "I had my doubts this blade was up to the task."
The weapon's edge was chipped in places, its length bent. With a gentle shake, the pommel gave an unsettling rattle. Owen burst into laughter at the noise. Apparently my response passed muster. He continued, his grin never flagging.
"Starting tomorrow, you'll stay at my place. I'll give word to my father to open a room for you."
I was dragged on this hunt, but if it earns me a real breakfast, it's a bargain I'd take gladly.
— Entry 9/27
The innkeep's voice and the smell of coffee being laid on the table roused me from my thoughts. "You're from Ancheim, eh? You'll be wanting extra sugar, then."
Politely declining, I took a sip. Quality beans, roasted to perfection... Exquisite.
After the hunt, we'd carried the wounded back to town. We tied the boar to a high tree branch; Owen said the townspeople would come for it later. After seeing to the boys' treatment, Owen invited me to his home, the inn. "Savior" was the title he used when introducing me to his father. I was mortified.
I was on a journey of personal discovery, originally come from Ancheim... They bought my arbitrary lies without hesitation. They welcomed me.
That evening, we dined early, and well. The boar had been carted back to town, and our share of the meat filled a table. Once Owen returned from the palace, we sat down to feast. The innkeep is a brilliant cook, and we ate, drank, and reveled into the night.
"Come by the palace tomorrow. I want you to meet the king."
He repeated himself time and again, words slurred from the wine, despite my pretending to be asleep.
— Entry 9/28
I've been in Caldisla a week, with no sign of the smoke signal. I join Owen in his training some mornings, walk the city streets, chat with the elderly, drink with the sailors at the docks, arm wrestle the drunks... Mostly, I just pass the time.
Today was another peaceful afternoon, the same as any other. Owen was at the palace since morning. I was enjoying a cup of the innkeep's coffee.
It happened in an instant. I felt as if someone was set to plunge a knife into my back. I turned, and saw a window. Through it, the northern sky was on fire in a flash of pure white.
Moments later, the inn shook. An earthquake? Shockwave? All of Caldisla trembled.
The innkeep moaned about a set of heirloom teacups breaking. I had my doubts that teacups would be the worst of the damage.
Outside, I spied some injured people, but the city and palace stood unharmed.
Another flash lit the sky to the northwest. Close. The Norende Plateau, perhaps...
— Entry 10/03
It wasn't till the following morning that Owen came home. By the time he finished muttering about his morning training, he was snoring.
A knock at his door put an end to that brief rest that afternoon.
"The river's jammed with rubble!"
After receiving the scout's report, Owen wolfed down the late breakfast his father had readied, then turned to me. "Sounds like I may need a hand later."
I nodded, eyes fixed on the northwestern sky.
The bridge across the Caldisla River has lain in ruin since the duchy felled it. Now, a flotilla of further rubble and countless corpses approach from upstream. Upstream means the Norende Canyon, and the village of Norende at its source. I suppose that's our epicenter.
Owen and I split up and joined the others searching for victims. Owen's team searched the river's mouth, while I gathered men from town to search further upstream. I've a long sword at my sidea new one, this time, in good condition. Seems the smithy's been busy. The armorer, the old trader, and a dockhand joined me on the shadowy path through the canyon.
A few paces in, the armorer spotted something floating by: a young man, floating face up and snagged on the rocks. We ran to his side.
"He's breathing! The boy's alive!"
While the others rejoiced, I was more concerned with the ominous shadows surrounding us.
"Goblins!?" "What are monsters doing here?"
There ought not be monsters so close to human settlement. Not in these numbers.
The townspeople were clearly overwhelmed. No doubt this was their first such encounter.
I hesitated, unsure for a moment. But no, I had to take action.
"When I give the signal, hoist this boy out and sprint for the canyon's mouth. Is that clear!?"
A nod returned from each of them. Sudden movement would distract the creatures for a moment. I hoped that was all I'd need.
Thankfully, both merchants escaped, as well as the dockhand with the unconscious boy across his shoulders. Left alone, I faced a quickly-closing circle of enemies. So be it, I thought. Come closer, then. A bit more... A deep growl emerged from my chest.
When I emerged from the canyon on shaky legs, I was greeted by three anxious faces.
"It was this fellow that saved me," I said, holding aloft the badly worn longsword. A huge, proud grin threatened to split the armorer's cheeks. We hurried the boy back to town.
I carried him to the inn.
"I need spirits and all the bandages you've got. And gramps, all the potions you've got, too!"
I laid him in a bed by the window, stripped him down, and had a look at his wounds. Thankfully, they were light, though he still showed no sign of stirring. Owen's group returned soon after, a few of his men wounded. They'd run into monsters as well. Leaving men to guard the gates, he made for the palace to report and formulate a plan.
When he came by to deliver the medicine, the old trader remarked that the boy's clothing bore a Norende pattern.
— Entry 10/04
Three days the boy has stayed at the inn, and still no sign of waking. The innkeep says he's run a fever the entire time. This afternoon is a warm one. Now I'm watching the innkeep nod off at the counter.
The aftershocks have stopped, and peace is slowly returning to the city, but a shadow lingers over the earth, the sky, and the townspeople's hearts. Glancing through the window, I saw people motioning toward the port. Another merchant ship, I thought, but no. Their shouts were anxious, not excited.
I stepped outside. Following the gaze of the others in the street, I saw a merchant vessel drifting into port.
But something was wrong. The ship was listing hard, its aft mast broken.
I sprinted down the hill. As I ran, I noticed a dark, heavy color spreading through the water from the mouth of the bay inward.
I caught snippets as I passed. "The sea's begun to rot." "Ships can't leave the bay." "No fish in the last few days."
A few days? Then the change began when the quake hit...
The ship listed further, rescue boats surrounding it. Most of the cargo had already been cast overboard.
When the boats reached the pier, a parade of passengers and crew emerged, each looking more exhausted than the next. By some miracle, there were no lives lost, though most of the freight followed the ship to the bottom of the bay. The merchants mourned their lost profits and the crew their vessel. The seamen had lost their sea, and the passengers were now stranded. Despair ran rampant.
Except for one young girl.
She was full of questions. About the quake four days prior. About the flash that lit the sky. About Norende.
"Did you know someone in the village? Family, perhaps?"
Her jaw set at my query. Was it anger? Fear? She wordlessly shook her head from side to side.
"No? I just figured, hearing you ask about the quake so soon after weathering the sea. I thought maybe you were a friend of that boy's."
"Boy? What boy?" came her reply. Suspicion played on her face. But as the next boat reached the pier, we were shooed out of the harbor.
"Another visitor from Ancheim, eh? You must be tired. Why don't you stay with us till you're settled?"
Hmph. I recall a different sort of greeting. I cast a sour smile his way, and he responded with a grin.
"We've a sick one in the back. I hope you won't mind."
The girl replied with a nod.
Her name, I learned, was Agnès. She seems guarded about her past. Not that I can talk.
Conversation continues to be awkward.
She shows interest in what was happening in this country when the quake hit. For my part, I ask her about the sea. Her ship had left before the earthquake struck. She says about halfway between Ancheim and Caldisla, their pace began to slow. The seawater clouded, and dead fish began to float to the surface. First small ones, then larger. As they neared port, the wind died. It was pure luck the ship drifted in before going calm.
Other vessels they'd passed in the bay, she reported, were less fortunate.
She listened as I recounted what happened in the canyon, the color draining from her face. I told her the village was likely at the quake's epicenter, and that monsters had flooded the area in its wake.
We talked late into the night.
— Entry 10/07
An urgent wire from Caldisla came during the night.
"The vestal and crew commandeered the S.K. ship, with Edea in tow."
— Entry 10/25
The Flor-Cheim Inner Sea remains unsullied, and serves now as a holding place for ships from neighboring waters as well.
I walked the port asking after the vestal's whereabouts (or those of the ship she stole, at least), but was unable to uncover anything useful.
My continued search brings me to Ancheim proper. The ship's almanac has this to say of it: "A clockwork metropolis, nestled in Harena's sandy bosom. Here time, above all, is sacred. A massive timepiece crowns the kingdom, fueled as all of Ancheim is by the ceaseless currents originating from the Temple of Wind to the south."
I crossed the desert and arrived at the city's edge. It seems those ceaseless winds have ceased in the chasm's wake. Deprived of a precious power source, Ancheim's people now suffer under forced manual labor.
Those I met were too tired and apathetic to answer my questions.
One man, perhaps motivated by the coin I flashed, blushed awkwardly as he stammered this: "T-try, the Yulyana Woods..."
I reached out to hand him the money, but he turned and ran without taking it. Very odd.
I returned to my almanac.
"Yulyana Woods: The hidden heart of an ancient wood northeast of Ancheim."
— Entry 11/13
The air in front of Ancheim's royal palace was taut.
The vestal heaped abuse upon the king, then presented something to the agitated masses assembled there. It was a chain bearing an evil sigil. The glassy-eyed mob reached fever pitch...
The vestal pointed south, and the delirious mob turned their eyes to the sky, crying out her name.
I moved to approach her, but the zealous crowd was packed tight.
Fearing for his life, the king fled to the palace, escorted by his guard.
— Entry 11/23
Good. They haven't come by... I was worried I might run into them here. That would complicate matters.
I could do little more than beg her help in the broadest of terms, then it was back to my ship and away again.
Though perhaps a bit out of date, the ship's almanac has this to say of Florem: "True to the old teachings, Florem's women live in chaste humility, in coexistence with the spirits of nature."
And of the land's people: "Devout Crystalists, they reject war and conflict, instead choosing lives of peaceful reflection."
Sounds like a recipe for carnage if those two heard these words...
— Entry 12/08
After three weeks of anxious silence, they finally sent word.
"The wind vestal entered the Sacred Flower Festival."
It's been four years since I stood here. The fortress stands grim and imposing as ever. Just what do they aim to do with a sword that large?
My guide greeted me respectfully. I suppressed my desire to break his face.
Ugh, enough! Stop talking! I know about this land and its resources without your yapping.
An exceptionally hard metal refined from locally-mined ore. Upwards of 80 percent of the world's mythril originates in Eisenberg's mines. In rare cases, the same veins have yielded orichalcum.
An extremely precious metal, found exclusively in Eisenberg. Its durability is unrivaled, making it ideal for use in weapons and armor. Also notable is the extreme amount of energy released when the metal is melted under high pressure.
It's all common knowledge. Does he think we don't have schools?
Upon entering, I found the place utterly unchanged. I still have that old memo on the Starkfort's status and layout.
We soon arrived at the top floor.
"Just how long do you intend to chase at my heels!?" When I barked at the guide, he seemed genuinely confused. A waterfall of sweat poured from him.
A guffaw rang out, cutting off any further tirade. The guide scuttled off, and a giant hand came clapping down on my back.
— Entry 3/07
Someone please explain to me how I wound up defending this brat.
Ah, right. Because that fat scum and the weakling started eagerly talking about torturing the information out of him.
I'm not worried about this weakling Astrae. I could handle him with my eyes closed. But the drugs the fat one cooks upthe poisons, especiallycould ruin the child's body.
And so we stood there, staring each other down for a full half-hour...
It wasn't for another thirty minutes that old man battleaxe caught wind of the standoff and came to my rescue.
Fatty and I were both drenched in sweat by that point. Astrae and the brat had passed out.
In the end, the child became my responsibility.
Astrae is still spewing complaints, but it sounds like fatty was chewed out hard for his hand in this latest stunt.
Seems the kid is grateful for having been spared, even by someone like me. He's started to open up a bit. He's eight years old, and lost both parents to the war. His grandfather took him in, until disease claimed him as well. Textbook orphan story.
He was rounded up with the other orphans and put to forced labor. Between ditching work and saying strange things, he drew the guards' attention, and that landed him here.
My efforts have earned me an unruly roommate. When he's asleep, he's no different than any other kid...
I thought to turn in for the night as well, but the words he mumbled in his sleep as I put out the light stopped me cold.
— Entry 3/17
He begged me to bring him with me. In the end, I caved.
He pulled a lever in the rock of somesuch, and a tunnel into the magma caverns opened up.
I'd never felt such heat.
Between the steep, narrow path, this blasted heat, and having a brat in tow, my progress was miserably slow.
During one of our short breaks, I was taken unawares by one of Edea's tirades. Distracted or not, careful to watch my back or not, I had allowed the enemy to draw near without so much as realizing it. Absolutely mortifying.
I wasn't about to risk combat with the brat at my side. Even I have my limits. He was nearly passed out from exhaustion. I laid him behind the rocks and stepped forward. I saw no other choice but to fight...
In the short while since I'd last seen them, the vestal, Tiz and Edea's faces had grown older. Stronger. Their teamwork isn't half bad, either. I busied myself with the vestal while thinking on how best to drive back Edea without harming her.
"Stay back! Don't come here!"
All I could do as I saw the boy stumbling closer was shout.
The caverns shook, and the ground beneath him gave way.
Tiz was the first to react.
"Hang in there. We'll get you up!" "Let go... We'll both fall!" "Agnès, leave me! Go!" "Un...acceptable..." "Mrgrgr! My grip... It's slipping!"
I acted without thinking, clutching Edea to me and pulling her to safety. Magma roared past beneath me.
We stood there, wordless until we caught our breath.
"Thank you..." Edea began. "I suppose I owe you for that."
I reflexively jumped back. Edea stood there, Ise-no-Kami held drawn and ready. Some thanks...
Agnès shielded the boy while Tiz came to join Edea.
As the sound of her swing cut the air, the ground beneath me crumbled once more...
I saw the look of shock on Edea's face as if time were standing still.
I slowly fell toward the magma below, joined by a shower of falling rock.
My vision went red.
— Entry 3/19
When I woke, my body refused to respond. I think I was lying down. My eyelids felt as though they were glued shut.
A familiar voice grated in my ear...
"Of course he'll recover. Just whom do you think you are addressing, mm? If I've orders to fix him, I'll see he's fixed...as much as I may enjoy his current state. He'll live, though I'll be sure he suffers for having humiliated me. Hyah heh heh..."
The days that followed were hell. His breath reeked as he spoke.
"Aww, does it hurt? Hyah hyah hyah... I just gave you the most painful drug I know. And here you can't move a muscle to stop me. Such a shame, isn't it? Ahh hyah hyah hyah!"
Some day I will carve this pig apart, so help me...
I awoke to familiar engine noise and the smell of oil, but sleep soon found me once more.
When I next woke, I was floating in some kind of liquid. I could feel it bitter in my mouth, stinging my nose and filling my lungs. I thought I was drowning and tried to struggle, but my body still refused to obey. I quickly slipped back into darkness.
A cold, unpleasant voice woke me.
"A nasty bit of work, this... Torture, under the guise of treatment. It was wise to transport him here when we did. A few days more, and, well... Heh. Worry not, I'll have him back good as he was. You have my guarantee."
The voice next turned to me.
"And how are we feeling?"
My eyes opened, stung by the light and medicated fluid.
"Today is the twenty-fourth. You've been out a month and a week, but worry not. None of your correspondence seems especially pressing. ...See?"
He help a slip of paper up to the tank. "Bring the orphan to the inn of origin," it read.
"What does it mean?" he asked. "Is it code? I can't make sense of it."
It made little sense to me, too, but I felt relief at knowing the boy was alright.
"That wasn't your only inscrutable message."
I drifted in and out as he read more, catching only snippets. "Earth Crystal... Grandship... Engine room..."
Some days (weeks?) later, the liquid was drained from the tank, and I was left to stave off gravity with atrophied legs.
"Buck up. You'll be back to your old self given a week. I made well sure of that."
With that final dismissive comment, he turned and left.
I was moved to a civilian hospital to recover.
I trained back up to full stamina in six days, mostly out of spite.
No trace remained of the burns I assume covered my body, and he'd reversed any effects of whatever that pig had injected me with while he was at it. It galls me to say, but the man does good work.
— Entry 4/24
How many days have passed since I left his side?
A pillar of light has stood above the southern sea for some time now, just as he predicted. That leaves little room to doubt his second prediction will hold true.
Within the coming days, the vestal and her friends will come here. I only pray I have the strength to stop them as I was asked to...
Thinking back, the vestal's followers have been with her from the start. Ever since Caldisla.
Agnès Oblige, vestal to the Wind Crystal... I never imagined the young girl I met on that pier would bear such a fate.
And Tiz Arrior. For the boy I pulled from that canyon river to become a guard and ally to the vestal on her journey...
It seems on so many counts, I bear the fault for all of this.
A long, harsh journey to erase the Great Chasm. A vestal who crossed the putrid sea and stagnant air to arrive. A boy whose home was swallowed.
In retrospect, they seem a natural pair. Inevitable, even.
And Edea... I expect you, too, will join the vestal here.
You were ever a tomboy. Capricious. Pure and stubborn. Quick to tears... Perfect. I know not what it is you see in the vestal. What spark resonated within you. But I swear this now, I will keep you safe. At any cost.
I always longed for a family...
I will not see it destroyed!
The ship's siren has begun to sound, and the pilot's taking her up, just as planned.
The time is come, then. This may be the last entry I am able to write.
I'm removing Edea's picture from its frame and placing it within these pages. I want her by my side...
— Entry 6/16
Tiz: Are these desert places normally supposed to be windy?
Airy the Fairy:
When they're the site of the Wind Crystal they are!
Alternis Dim: I trust word has reached you from Caldisla. The Knights of the Eternian Sky have fallen to the vestal.
Victoria F. Stein: I'd not thought the girl as bloodthirsty as all that.
Alternis: It appears she's surrounded herself with capable guards. What's more... it pains me to say it, but Edea's whereabouts have been lost amid the chaos.
Braev Lee: That is no concern of yours. Do not confuse personal matters with your assigned task, Alternis.
My apologies, Lord Marshal.
Victoria: Not only did the Sky Knights fail, they've given the vestal wings. Why they didn't simply kill the child, I'll never know.
Victor S. Court:
Keenly insightful as ever, Victoria. Yet I fear we've need of the vestal alive.
Erutus Profiteur: "Apprehend ze vestal by any means necessary"? Seems ze Council of Six is growing desperate.
Ciggma Khint: Those were their words. I've relayed them to you. My contract states I'm to receive payment for my troubles from you.
Profiteur: Zen your contract is mistaken. I've heard nothing of ze sort!
Profiteur: Bah, fine. You'll have your fee. But I am taking ze small discount. Only fair, as a regular customer, eh?
Khint: If you must.
Still, zis vestal is quite the little monster, no? To have ze Sky Knights so undone... If ze margin is high enough, I would tackle a behemoth bare-handed. But until I see a profit, I'll not move an inch. Business is business, yes?
Ringabel: More importantly, Agnès, what of the women here? Are they beautiful? Passionate? Devoted? Where would you suggest for a dating spot. I'll need a list of restaurants if you ple-
My people, I thank you for your tireless efforts. As you are well aware, our glorious nation's production has suffered a harsh fall since the wind's cessation brought the Grand Mill to a halt. Without nature's former bounty, our turbines went completely still. They sit as silent as the desert night. In the wake of this crisis, you rose up and took matters literally in hand, operating the turbines manually. I, your king, lack words to thank you for your hard work. However, I am much aggrieved to say that energy production is less than one-fifth its former total. At this rate, our proud kingdom, renowned for its unparalleled industry, is doomed to ineluctable decline. I find myself without recourse but to revisit my prior fiat regarding the schedule of all able-bodied citizens. Henceforth, labor shall commence at 0900 hours, and will extend beyond the current 1659 until 2059, effective immediately.
— Khamer VIII's introduction speech
How kind of you to pay me zis visit. Now, what is it you are needing today? We are ze only purveyor of water licensed by ze king himself, and we take pride in our product. No effort is spared in providing ze cleanest, freshest water possible. Ze results are clear... Ha ha ha! Water humor, yes?
— Erutus Profiteur
Merchantry Soldier: You there, stop. This well is property of the Khamer and Profiteur Merchantry. All unauthorized withdrawals are forbidden.
Tiz: "Withdrawals"? There are people out here going thirsty!
No, there are peasants going thirsty. If you want a free drink so badly, go join the other rabble at the oasis!
Edea: What's—? My eyes! I can't see!
Ringabel: Blind gas!? Where's it coming from!?
Agnès: Be careful, everyone! This is clearly a trap!
Tiz: And our aim is completely shot. We can't go rushing into melee attacks with Brave.
Edea: Don't want to miss and just have to stand there turn after turn!
Ringabel: Still... Even blind, I can see the core of a woman's heart, clear as day. Heh, the things that really matter can't be seen by the eye. ...Gah!
Edea: Augh, Ringabel! Stop spouting gross nonsense and watch where you're stepping! Even when you're not blind, you can't see past your big, fat mouth! ...Ack!
Oww, Edea, don't go stomping ar- OW! Not again! Where are those eye drops!?
Jackal: What's this, now? The ones from the oasis, is it? You're the rats sneaking about the place?
Agnès: Why do you persist in these awful deeds? You must return the articles you stole!
Jackal: Augh, one of you muzzle this dog's yapping, would you? Be a friend. And what? Don't tell me you came all this way just to vomit a few platitudes out on my floor. Feh. This place is nothing but sand and hypocrites! Drives a man mad... And this thirst. These daggers in my throat! All the water in the desert can't dull their edge.
Edea: The people you robbed at the oasis were thirsty, too! They risked their lives to get at that water, and you-
Jackal: Augh, spare me the lecture. You come to convert me? Set me on the straight and narrow? Teach me to follow the rules, be a good little sheep, live an honest life? Feh! Out here, honest lives end quick. The desert's a beast, and it's always hungry! The city's no different. There are only two kinds of folk in this world, make no mistake. The takers, and the taken from! My worthless parents were easy marks. Textbook victims. And still, they grit their teeth and tried hard as they could to get through each day. Till the day came they couldn't feed a family of three, so they cut loose their kid and disappeared!
Tiz: They just left you?
Jackal: The city just took and took till they had nothing left. Their own brat became a burden, so they dumped him like a bag of sand! Daft, eh? Absolutely stupid. If surviving means pinching from other folk, I'll happily join the takers!
Tiz: Are you sure they left because you were a burden to them? Maybe they swallowed their tears and left you in the city in hopes that you, at least, could find happiness there.
Jackal: Aye, or maybe they left me because they didn't have the guts to kill me themselves! You don't know a stinking thing about them.
Tiz: You're right. I don't know their reasons. But they do. If they're still alive, you can go and ask them! You can track them down and make them explain themselves. Make them answer for their choices! You can yell and scream and fight as long as you like. As long as it takes. You can work on forgiving them! But you haven't done any of that. You've stayed here sulking and festering all your life. That's far dafter to me!
Jackal: My throat... This accursed thirst. It's worse than ever. You... This is your fault! You smug, delusional, self-righteous little lambs make me sick! I'll take everything... EVERYTHING from you! Oy, chief! Khint! Get your horns in here!
Khint: ...I assume your calling me means this conversation is over?
Jackal: Heh, aye, that's enough words. I'm choking on this lot's hypocrisy. I want them stripped to the bone!
Khint: I care nothing for your reasons, and still less for your ideals. My allegiance hinges only on the weight of your coin purse.
Jackal: She's heavy enough. You'll have your pay.
Then we've a contract, and you will have your money's worth.
Khint: My contract ends here. I'll take my leave.
Jackal: What!? Chief, I don't... I don't understand!
Khint: Your odds are poor, and I don't take poor clients.
Go, then! They all abandon me in the end!
A fitting end... Everything...taken away. So...thirsty...
— Jackal's last words
I am raising the price of water an additional twenty percent beginning fourteen days ago. The streets, they are full of people too poor to afford it. The sense of panic grows by the hour. That self-righteous fool of a prime minister comes to demand the price be lowered day after day. It will not be long now till the masses reach their limit. The poor will have no choice but to go to the oasis. That is where you will wait, armed and ready. Steal everything. And above all else, do not let them at the water. Your task is to ensure all of Ancheim is terrified of the oasis. Give them a welcome they will never forget. In time, they will understand that if they wish to survive, they will be buying the merchantry's water. Whatever the price. But see you keep your mouth shut, yes? No one must know of our collaboration on this matter. If you are found out, the deal is cut off. Your head will be next.
— Profiteur's note
Townsperson: What? Remunerations for the lost caravan!? It was stolen! Along with my supplies and my camels!
Profiteur: And zis is not my responsibility, eh? You failed to protect your investments. You. We had a contract, my friend. Ze provisions for loss and damages were clearly written in ze fine print.
Townsperson: Even so, I can't be made to pay for the damages when I've just had all my possessions stolen! I'll be out on the streets!
Zis is not my concern. You will pay. Or, if you prefer, I can be asking your wife for zis money? Your daughter, hmm?
Edea: Sir, you don't owe this rotten band of fraudulent crooks a single pg. You are free to be on your way.
Profiteur: Ah ha hah! I fear zis joke is not funny. I have business with zis gentleman. We have no time for baseless accusations.
Edea: Then what of accusations with concrete proof?
Profiteur: Oh? And just what is zat, eh?
Ringabel: A little souvenir snatched from the lair of the thieves prowling the oasis of late. It bears your signature, chairman. As well as your orders to attack any citizen approaching the oasis.
Townsperson: What!? Then when they... And you were planning to rob me now a second time!
Profiteur: Ah, zis day. No luck at all. I suppose zis is ze result of trusting zat useless urchin to perform a simple task...
Edea: Then you don't deny it? Release the city's wells to the public, then. Immediately!
Profiteur: I beg your pardon!? Just who are you to be issuing ze orders, girl? As I told you before, zis is a business! If you are too poor, zis is your problem. Stupid enough to be tricked? Your problem! Don't like it? Go earn some money, eh!?
Money, money, money! These are human lives! Ugh, this is useless. I'm shutting you down right now!
Tiz: You! From the thieves' den! You'd help this crook!?
Khint: Provided his pockets are heavier than yours, yes. I care nothing past that. Erutus Profiteur, Merchant of Death... Do we have an agreement?
Profiteur: But of course! And I'm feeling generous today. Kill zem all, and I'll throw in a bonus!
Contract established. You'll have your money's worth.
Khint: Our agreement ends here. This is what your money buys.
Profiteur: What!? I've paid you a small fortune!
Khint: Any further, and I'll be placing my life on the line. That bears a surcharge of 51.2 billion pg.
Profiteur: Zat's not a surcharge, it's a national budget! You're mad!
Khint: Then this is farewell. Best of luck.
Zis...zis is fraud! I'll see you reported for zis!
M-money... All my money...! My...glkh...
— Profiteur's last words
The mother vestal, my predecessor, showed me as a child. A rite to cleanse the crystal of any evil to befall it. I'm to sharpen my focus to a single point and align my breathing to the thrum of the crystal's natural rhythm. Every vestal to come before me has poured her prayers into the crystal. The time has come to draw upon that store of will and awaken it.
— Agnès regarding the Wind Crystal
Tiz: What does Ringabel's book have to say on the matter?
Ringabel: Let's have a look. ...Ah, here we are. Yulyana, yes. "The hidden heart of an ancient wood northeast of Ancheim."
Edea: Given the book's owner, I half expected some note about the lack of women there.
Tiz: Women or no, that's our next destination.
Indeed, but since we're going, let's hope for ladies.
Sage Yulyana: I thought I'd heard something. This place draws few visitors, I fear. And me, fewer still. So, to whom do I owe this pleasure?
Agnès: I am Agnès Oblige, sir. Vestal of Wind.
Yulyana: Ho ho ho! Little Agnès, is it? Oh, you have grown, child! You were scarce more than a little sprout when your predecessor brought you here. Now look at you! A fine woman you've become. Fine and plump and, ho ho, pleasantly jiggly. Ho ho ho! ...Ahem.
Ugh, lovely. It's a geriatric Ringabel.
Tiz: What kind of food do you cook, Edea?
Edea: Hmm, I haven't cooked enough to have a specialty or anything, but if I had to pick something... I make a mean jam and butter omelet.
Tiz: ...Beg your pardon?
Edea: Or whipped chestnut and sweet potato toast.
Edea: Or have you ever tried marshmallow and condensed milk risotto?
Tiz: Er, no, but it sounds sweet... Painfully so.
Edea: Yup! Mother and father were left speechless by its amazing deliciousness. I'd be happy to whip some up for you next time.
R-right... Next time...
No one said anything about a monster! Did the old man know about this? If he did and didn't tell us, he's awful! That would be lying!
Agnès: My shoulders are not broad enough to bear the weight of it. The hopes and fears of an army of strangers I've never so much as seen before... They... they frighten me. I am unfit to show them the way forward. I barely trust my legs to carry myself alone...
But they have. Despite the blame and fear, you've fought this far for the world, and it's people. Your fight is a noble one. Just and right, and beyond any reproach. But now the time has come to set others upon that path. Guide them to follow in your steps. Just as the vestals have ever drawn upon the crystals' light to illuminate the way forward for all mankind, so must you. Words are powerful things, my child. The vestals' words doubly so. They are a force capable of driving man to action. Of sustaining him in times of need. You've walked your path for humanity's sake. Your love of this world has been your fuel. Now let your words be theirs. Share your path with them. They'll decide for themselves whether to follow or not. The world will choose as it may. But if you open your heart and point the way, you'll ignite a spark of hope within the hearts of countless men and women.
Hearken to me, my children! After abandoning our kingdom to its fate, the vestal then came slinking back to these borders to beg my forgiveness. And forgive her I did, for I saw naught to be gained from excoriating a girl for her egregious failures. My clemency was met with willful pride! She promised to return the wind to motion single-handedly! Yet what has come of it? Nothing, save the southern sky set ablaze with a malefic light! The vestal failed to restore the wind, and brought still greater calamity upon our heads! As proof, look no further than the stagnant air around you! I can but blame my own wishful ignorance for this latest turn of events. I ought never have entrusted this matter to a relic of a bygone era! The Crystal Orthodoxy is a dream of the past. The vestal, obsolete! Her inability to ensure the crystal's function is manifest! Join me, my people! Let us rely upon the vestal no longer! It is our own efforts that will see this kingdom saved! The labor service is your sacred duty - your pride as citizens! All who work beyond twenty hours a day will receive a royal commendation! And in the wake of this tribulation, Ancheim will emerge a new land! Our new history begins now!
— Khamer VIII's second speech
Agnès: I ask that you listen! The winds that washed over this land without end for so long stopped. A vast darkness split the earth in the kingdom of Caldisla. An entire village was devoured. The seas fester. Fish wash up upon our shores, twisted and lifeless. Even ships are unsafe from this corrosion. All the world's people— all life is crying out in pain. Your suffering is mirrored in every corner of existence. I was dispatched by His Majesty to leave these borders and survey the damage first-hand. My conclusion is absolutely certain. The four crystals have been clouded over with a powerful darkness. On my return, I found the Crystal of Wind in the clutches of a terrible monster. Its influence had sealed away the crystal's light entirely.
Khamer VIII: Bah! You reward our patience with fabrications and fantasy! Utterly ridiculous!
Agnès: This is no fantasy! The beast fell before me and my companions. I present this to you as proof!
Khamer VIII: Those chains... The chains that circle the beast Orthros. The Tempest's Braid!? That can't... It's only a legend! A story from the old Crystalist scriptures!
Townsperson 1: But here they are. The vestal's brought us Tempest's Braid. Then...
Townsperson 2: Then Orthros was no legend. And the vestal's slain it!
Khamer VIII: Preposterous! The chain's a fake, like your ridiculous story! There's still no wind!
The wind is coming! Two thousand years the vestals have prayed. Their lives have been the crystal's nourishment. And now... Now they feed the wind!
Agh, what perverse farce is this? This cannot be so! I shall not be undone by a...a...a child! I am king! KING! And a king does not forget his enemies! Aughhh...
— Khamer VIII
Khamer VIII: Blast it! Blast it, blast it all!
Khint: Calm down.
Khamer VIII: How do you expect me to be calm!? This is all the fault of that girl! From the moment the vestal returned, every cog in my plans has spun out of place! And the merchantry! That incompetent Profiteur's failures threaten to bring everything crashing down! And after the lengths I went to in giving him all he could possibly need! And for what? A net negative! Time and again, that oil-slicked little rat assured me all was going to plan. And, like a fool, I trusted him! With everything! With claiming the wells, inflating the price of water, that bungled arrangement with the thieves! I gave the merchantry free rein!
Khint: The plan was sound. Have the merchantry cut off the water supply, eroding the peoples' resolve. Mandate heavy labor - "for the good of the kingdom," - of course - to sow further dissent. Ancheim was a powder keg. Any spark would do. Some trifling grievance to turn the brunt of all that built-up frustration on the vestal. The Orthodoxy's lingering hold on the people's hearts and minds would be broken, and the age of Anticrystalism would begin.
Khamer VIII: As well it must! The unwashed masses' superstitious love of the crystals is an iron weight holding mankind back from true progress! Only by dashing to the ground their faith in these stones and the vestals can my vision for Ancheim's advancement be realized! A glorious new era is right before our eyes! It was so nearly within reach, and now my plan is ruined! Why, Khint? How has this happened!? Now the rabble will listen to none but the vestal! Ooh, it's a complete disaster! I should never have relied on an ignoramus like Profiteur... My plan was perfect!
Khint: That reliance on your scheming was the reason it failed. Meanwhile, the vestal speaks without a thought in her head. There's your why.
Khamer VIII: The question was rhetorical, spell fencer! But very well. If finesse has failed, so be it. I'll kill the girl and lay claim to the crystal. With that done, the winds will be at my fingertips! I can power the turbines or control the miasma as I see fit!
Khint: Your Highness is ever the optimist. Are you so confident this new plan will fare better, time mage?
Khamer VIII: It must. The people must be shown that the vestal has no place in my new reign, or in the future of Ancheim!
Unacceptable! Please, disgrace your crown no further!
Khamer VIII: You! YOU! This is all your doing, vestal! If you weren't here, none of this would... Yes... You can't be here any longer. Can't be anywhere, in fact. Your final silence will be the fanfare that heralds my renewed reign!
Ringabel: It seems the man's beyond remorse.
Khamer VIII: Spell Fencer Ciggma Khint! Name your price. Empty the kingdom's coffers, if you like! Whatever it takes, I want these vermin dead!
I pick my clients for their pocketbooks, not their moral fiber. I'll not grow scruples now. You have a deal, King. For as long as your riches hold...
Tiz: What, you aren't running this time?
A contract is a contract. ...And many's the coin I earned under the king's auspices. It's not in my nature, but I'm prepared to die for this one!
Khint: Hngh... Very well. Only fitting that money should be my end. My goal is met. I've no reason to... earn another coin. No reason...
Khint! This isn't happening... Is there no one else!?
I'll give my throne to no one... No one...!
— Khamer VIII's dying words
Alternis: Vestal of the Wind Crystal, Agnès Oblige. Surrender at once, or see your companions slain.
Edea: You... Dark Knight Alternis Dim!
Alternis: Who...? What—Edea!? You're alright! We've been mad with worry! But you are a captive to the vestal no longer. Come, I will see she makes no move. Quickly, to my side! Come away from the vestal!
Edea: No, you keep away from him! If you intend to hurt Agnès or Tiz, you'll answer to me for it!
Alternis: What! What madness is this? You speak nonsense!
Edea: I'm not her captive, and she poses no threat! I'm here of my own free will!
Alternis: When then? You've betrayed the duchy? Betrayed your father? Have you lost your mind, girl!
Edea: I'm entirely sane. In fact, there's much I've only begun to see clearly now that I've gone traitor.
Alternis: No more of this! Edea, bind the vestal's hands. Do this now, and I'll forget all you've said here. Please...
Edea: It seems you've already forgotten. I said no, Alternis!
Alternis: What new form of torment is this!? I cannot bear these games, Edea! Do not do this to me.
Edea: Take one step closer to Agnès and I'll do a lot worse. This is my decision. I'll hold nothing back! I may not be able to best you even so, but I will see that you bleed before I die.
Alternis: ...You're certain then?
Edea: I'm certain.
Alternis: Silencing you would be a simple task, but one slip of my hand and even the flat of my blade would mean your end. I'm a poor hand at holding back.
Edea: Then don't bother. I'm not the sort to be cowed by threats, Dim. Perhaps I get that from my father.
Alternis: ......I cannot keep this from your father. I ask once more: Will you reconsider?
Edea: My mind is set.
Alternis: Stubborn girl! You're... Very well. I shall withdraw for now. But know this, vestal. You and your abettors are ever under our watch! What you aim to do runs counter to the flow of progress. You place mankind on the road to annihilation! I'll not allow you to go unchecked. It's time your wings were clipped!
Victoria: I want a report on Ancheim. Alternis, you're as good as any. Speak up.
Victor: I've heard rumors the Wind Crystal was... "awakened", as they would have it put.
Alternis: Indeed. And worse, since its awakening, the crystal has been protected by a shield that bars all but the vestal.
Victoria: You made contact with the girl, did you not? Why did you not capture her then?
Victor: Were these infamous allies of hers really so strong as to cow even you, dark knight?
Alteris: They... No. Among those I saw accompanying the vestal... One of them was Edea.
Victoria: My, my, my. This is a twist.
Victor: Quite so. A shocking turn.
Victoria: So, what then? You saw her, tucked your tail, and ran home crying? Ha ha ha ha ha! How miserable!
Victor: Still, if this is the truth, it is a troubling one. We look to you to lead all the Eternian Forces, Lord Marshal. For your daughter to abet the vestal is... problematic.
Alternis: How would you have us proceed?
Braev: ...... Any who would join the vestal in opposing us must be eliminated. Their birth matters not.
Victoria: Ahh, bold words. But how truthful, I wonder. You would really allow her "elimination"?
Alternis: Your Lordship...!
Braev: The task before us is larger than us all. I'll not allow private matters to slow its course.
Alternis: Then I shall go and speak with her again. Surely—
Victoria: I will go. It seems the water vestal is proving a problem as well. I shall go and pluck the both of them. I expect a suitable shower of accolades upon my successful return. Come, Victor!
Victor: As you command.
Alternis: Lord Marshal, are you certain of this?
Tiz: Ugh, what's—!?
Edea: My legs... My whole body's tingling!
Agnès: This swamp... It's poison!
Ringabel: The wind carried off the miasma, but the swamp's still just as toxic!
Tiz: Is nothing easy? I hate poison! Every step hurts, and I feel like I'm going to be sick.
Ringabel: We could always double back to town and stock up on antidotes...
Edea: You worry too much! All we have to do is be careful to step around the marshy patches.
Agreed. Let us be extremely careful where we walk.
Einheria Venus: Well, this is unusual. It's not often you reach out to contact me directly, dark knight.
Alternis: I'll not take up more of your time than necessary. I have a request, of a... delicate nature.
Einheria: The Bloodrose Legion is deployed in Florem. If this favor poses no conflict to my mission, I'll consider it.
Alternis: The vestal of wind has entered Florem. We're certain of it.
Einheria: Ah, hence the news I just received that Victoria and Victor will be joining us there. I see.
Alternis: The only problem is that Edea is accompanying her.
Einheria: Accompanying the vestal!?
Alternis: She's been deceived. Seduced by that witch's words. I tried to talk some sense into her, but... The two of you are practically sisters. Perhaps she'll listen to you, if not me. Will you do this?
Einheria: Heh heh. That girl has caused you no end of grief over the years. Very well. I shall do all I can. But, should my sisters make contact first... Best you gave up on her. I'm afraid even I can scarcely keep these two in check any longer.
Alternis: I... I understand.
Einheria: Girls, you heard him. You will continue your current mission as ordered. The vestal may attack at any moment. Stay vigilant.
Tiz: Uh... Is it, uh... Is it just me, or are there awfully few men around?
Florem is called the Land of Radiant Flowers for a reason. All of its residents are female.
Look here, Tiz. My journal describes this place in crisp detail. "True to the old teachings, Florem's women live in chaste humility, in coexistence with the spirits of nature. Devout Crystalists, they reject war and conflict, instead choosing lives of peaceful reflection."
"Be sister to the flowers, woods and waters. Pure of mind and body." Those were Florem's ways... Emphasis on "were", I fear. Now, the girls war over who can ornament herself the loudest. They spend their days staring into mirrors while nature's beauty is lost to them. Their neglect has turned Florem's lands to wastes. Her beauty is all but lost.
— Florem Matriarch
Edea: Hmmm, what's fashionaaabluh around here...
Agnès: Fashion... what?
Edea: Fashionaaabluh. You know, fashionable? That's how the hip kids said it back home. Ooh, have a look at this. Tadaaah! An heirloom floral linen stole!
Agnès: That's lovely! And so fashionable!
Edea: Not fashionable. Fashionaaabluh!
Agnès: F-fashionaaabluh, then... Edea, where did you find it? I'm envious.
Edea: Aren't you!? It was a gift from my mother, years and years ago. If you wrap it around you like... this! It makes for the perfect accent.
Ringabel: Absolutely fashionaaabluh!
Tiz: You're always fashionable, though, Edea.
Edea: Not fashionable! FASHIONAAABLUH!
Tiz: Ha ha... Although you're nearly as fashion-minded as she is, Ringabel. You're always fussing over your hair, and your shoes are blinding.
Ringabel: What can I say? I live my life in front of the mirror. A proper pompadour is a joy and a responsibility. Shoes and belt must match. But that's only the beginning. You don't know the half of it. Clothing I really like, I never wear. Don't want to get it dirty, do I?
Tiz: What use are clothes you can't wear?
Edea: See, Tiz? You're the only country bumpkin in the group. Give this stole a try. Stoles on guys are in this season.
Tiz: But this season is warm. What's the point of wearing a scarf when it's not cold out?
Edea: Scarf!? It's not a... Here, just try it!
Ringabel: At times one must suffer to be fashionaaabluh.
Tiz: This has to look ridiculous... Oh, well. I'll think of it as a sweat towel.
Tiz, you look very, er... f-fashionaaabluh... You'd look right at home weeding a garden!
Ancheim Citizen: The latest trend? Who cares!? Forget about the newest thing. Show me the sexiest!
Ringabel: An enlightened opinion. What a woman needs is boldness! It's settled. We're going sexy!
You seem the kind, reasonable sort. I would beg a favor... I'd like your help searching for two girls. Sisters, and still just children. They were seen heading for the gardens at the city's west, but haven't returned. It's my own fault. They came in asking after spirit hairpins...
— Armory Clerk
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Thank you for saving us!
Ringabel: I take it you two are the little ones here in search of spirit hairpins? This place ill suits a pair of fair flower nymphs like you. Come, let's go home.
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: No! We really want hairpins! No matter what!
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: If we don't keep up with the trend, they'll make fun of us!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: The hairpins are magic. Just putting one on makes you super pretty!
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: And they're so beautiful you never ever wanna take it off!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Thank you, but we're not giving up! Bye, mister!
Ah... M... mister...?
Tiz: Hey, it's those sisters.
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: Noooo! I'm scared!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Hush! We just have to find a Florie, and she'll give us hairpins!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Our symbol. A spirit who tends the flowers and makes Florem prosper.
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: It has to be a Florie who makes the hairpins. That's why we've got to find one!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: I'm not turning back, scary or no. Anyway, bye again, mister!
Ngh...! Well, I'll salute their bravery, if not their good sense.
Tiz: Ack! *cough*
Agnès: Spores erupted from that purple flower!
Edea: What? But it's so pretty! Why would it look nice, then spit poison at us!?
Ringabel: Pretty flowers and pretty women always have thorns.
Edea: That has nothing to do with anything!
Agnès: And it's an insult to women!
Tiz: These spores... This is hushleaf. Everybody, don't worry. This stuff isn't fatal. It prevents you from casting magic, but a dose of echo herbs will have you cured in no time. It's a natural defense to keep animals from eating them. If we stay clear, we're safe.
Edea: Wow, you sure know a lot!
Oh sure, he gets praised... And what animals use magic to eat plants?
Mephilia: Hmm? Who are you?
Edea: You... Mephilia!
Mephilia: Edea...? Ah ha ha, it's Edea. Filthy thing. Toying with my sister's heart...
Edea: What are you doing here?
Mephilia: What am I doing? Isn't it obvious? I'm killing fairies. Plucking their little fairy wings. Hmm, how many has it been? I was counting. But then... I stopped counting. Heh heh... ha ha ha!
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Stop it! That's mean! You can't!
Mephilia: Are you giving me an order? Only my sister gives orders... Only she...
Edea: These fairies are incredibly important to Florem's people. How can you do this?
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: We came all this way so a Florie would give us a hairpin...
Mephilia: Why are you sad, child? The thing you seek is right here... Take their wings.
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: What...?
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: Florie's wings?
Mephilia: Oh, yes. That's what the hairpins are made of... The beautiful wings of the beautiful little fairies you worship. Torn from their little bodies, while they make the most adorable screams... They glow, you know. For a brief moment, the wings glow. And then, never again. They cloud over... Sullied forever... I can think of nothing so beautiful. It's quite... addictive. Ah ha ha...ha ha!
Edea: Then it's your poaching that's behind this. All for what, money? Has the Bloodrose Legion's purpose always been so pathetically base!?
Mephilia: Ah ha ha... You've always been this way. Full of platitudes... Happy lies... Always so pretty... So pretty you reek of rot and decay. Keep away, Edea... All humankind is dirty... A fine pack of filthy pigs. There is no real beauty, save my sister... All but her are tainted. Impure! Have a look there. Those innocent girls...
Older Girl Seeking Hairpin: Hey! Let go!
Younger Girl Seeking Hairpin: No, you! You already took two more than me!
Ringabel: Stop it, you two!
Tiz: They seemed inseparable until a moment ago...
Edea: Is this your aim!? Why are you doing this?
Mephilia: A silly question. Playing with their love. Corrupting it... Mmm, it feels wonderful... Look at the little creatures. This is their true form... Their desire to shroud themselves in beauty only reveals the ugliness inside. And whence that desire? The very object of it. Ah ha ha... It's the wings. The spirits' wings secrete a curious substance. Invisible to the eye, but to the nose... Mmm! Each breath of it dulls the mind... Stirs up desires. Makes a person selfish...and murderous! Those girls' fight won't end until one lies bleeding...
Edea: That's monstrous!
That girl with you, Edea... That is the wind vestal, is it not? Just how long do the two of you intend to feign trust? How long till the facades drop? What will it look like, I wonder. The moment all the little platitudes that hold you lot together start to... crumble. Show me. Quickly... Quickly! Let me see your end.
Mephilia: Ha ha... And now the hands that killed me are... stained in blood... Ah ha ha... Good... Knowing that I've sullied you is...enough... But now I've seen something more beautiful even than...my sister... What are you? You... The boy...there...
Tiz: Uh, me?
Mephilia: Inside you... I see it... It's there... It isn't yours... Another soul, inside... ......
Tiz: What do you suppose she was trying to say?
Edea: The girls! What of the sisters!?
No... Please. This can't...
I see... My negligence condemned them to a terrible fate. I shall do everything in my power to spread word of the hairpin's dangers. To atone... I am sorry to have foisted this cruel task on you. Forgive me...
— Armory Clerk
Young Woman: Isn't this hair color amazing? It was worth every pg I have! ...Which is what it cost!
Ringabel: It brings color to the world around you, my dear. Perhaps you'll bring some to my world next...
Can't waste any time. Can't stop till I'm in fashion. Need a spirit hairpin... I need money...
Traveling Merchant: That's enough sneaking around. Why are you following me?
Tiz: We're not following anyone. We're just headed east to the woods!
Traveling Merchant: Liar! You're out to spy on how the dye's made. Planning to cut in on my margin!?
Ringabel: We were entranced, you see. The dye's beauty stole my breath away.
Traveling Merchant: Ohhh. Hello, handsome.
Ringabel: The name's Ringabel. If you've the time, I'd love to get to know you and your product... much... better.
Traveling Merchant: Well, I...I really shouldn't. It's a secret. But maybe, if you promise not to tell... It's extracted from the marrow of giant snakes. Orochi, they're called. The girls of Florem worship them as gods, yet they're too busy playing dress-up to notice. The vain little monsters... Still, my organization appreciates their cooperation. That's our plan, see. The extract's full of nidaphyx. It's an addictive hallucinogen. And they're scratching and clawing to get their hands on it. Heh, Florem won't last a month. Oh, but I really must be going. Can't keep Artemia waiting. I hope I'll see you again soon, though, Ringabel. Tee hee!
Edea: You're mad if you think I'm letting you just walk away!
Traveling Merchant: What? Who are you? Ringabel's girlfriend!? Oh, you cad! You led me on!
First I'm going to retch, then I'm going to pummel you!
Edea: Ugh, the whole forest reeks of death...
Tiz: These bodies... Are these all woodland orochi?
Ringabel: There are more that way, hung over tree branches. And over there... The sheer number of bodies is mind-boggling.
Agnès: These creatures are revered as Florem's guardians, and now... The forest stands at the edge of death. Who would do this?
Artemia Venus: Halt!
Edea: Ranger Artemia.
Artemia: Edea traitor. Traitors die.
Edea: Was it you who killed the orochi? To make the dye?
Artemia: Artemia hunt. Hunt many orochi.
Edea: And now you're poisoning human bodies and minds with the results. Has the Bloodrose Legion's purpose always been so pathetically base?
Artemia: Artemia obey. Only obey. Sister's orders only truth.
Edea: Sister...? You mean Einheria is complicit in this madness!? That's not... She's a better woman than that! A noble woman!
Artemia: Not for you to decide. Sister not your possession.
Edea: I never said she was! I asked you whether Einheria truly ordered you to do this! And if she did, why did you just mindlessly obey!? If she came to me so obviously not herself, I'd have stopped her. By force, if needed! You're her sister! You must have had the chance to dissuade her!
Artemia: How Artemia live, not yours to say. How Sister think, not yours to say. Artemia not tell Sister how to think. How Sister think tell how Artemia live. Only Sister tell how Artemia live!
Edea: That's no answer... You've just given up all thought! Become a puppet! Do you have any idea how many people are suffering for what you've done!?
Artemia: Don't care. Edea still tell Sister how to live?
Edea: If what you've said is true, you and she and the whole legion are black as pitch. I'll put a stop to this. Let me see Einheria! I'll take sense to her.
Artemia: ......Artemia hunt. Hunt all prey... All in range Artemia's prey...
Edea: Don't change the subject!
Artemia: Nothing runs. Nothing escapes... As long as prey has pulse... Keep firing... Never miss... ...Never...
Edea: Have you gone mad!?
Ringabel: The isn't insanity... It's bloodlust. The girl's gone completely feral!
Artemia: Grrrrrar... You... Edea...prey...
Prey...chase...hunt... Artemia...run...catch... Thrill...hunger...rrrrar... Heart...racing...fire...burn...! Hands...! Trembling...! Hunt...is...on!
— Artemia's dying words
It's made of what!? And toxic, what's more! I'll work to spread the word. With luck, this lunacy will cease soon...
— Trader Clerk
Well met, brave souls! You bear the qualifications. I am the anchorite of wind, mouthpiece of Hresvelgr. Withstand its assault and its power shall be yours to command. Now, have you the confidence to accept its furious might!? Yes? No? ...Maybe?
— Anchorite of Wind, Wind Temple
Well met, brave souls! You bear the qualifications. I am the anchorite of water, mouthpiece of Ziusudra's Sin. Withstand its assault and its power shall be yours to command. Now, have you the confidence to accept its furious might!? Yes? No? ...Maybe?
— Anchorite of Water, Mount Fragmentum
Yulyana: Perhaps the time has come to loose the seal upon the forbidden... bravo bikini! So extreme was it that every girl to try it on instantly and irrevocably hated me without exception!
Ringabel: Am... am I dreaming?
Edea: Oof. This might be a little... ambitious? Illegal?
Yulyana: Avert your gaze, Tiz! You aren't ready! It's too much temptation!
Ringabel: But if you did wear it... Your victory would be assured! Such is its terrible power!
Agnès: Then wear it I shall. I am prepared to make any sacrifice to find Olivia!
Yulyana: What courage! What noble spirit! Here, then... take my greatest masterpiece!
...... ...... Um... Are you, uh... Sir, are you certain this is clothing?
Does your talk of sacrifice ring hollow so soon, Agnès!? I'll also mention that my journal states, "Agnès wore sexy clothes. It was awesome."
The vestal garb is no less a masterpiece of mine than any other. It ought serve you well enough.
Edea: Hey, Tiz. Can you tell me a little more about Norende's special move shop?
Tiz: Huh? Oh, sure. So, there's a base special move for each different weapon type.
Edea: Ohh, it's by weapon type?
Tiz: Right. So you might want to try out a bunch of different weapons and see what works. And you can shout whatever line you want while performing them.
Edea: He he, I'll have to think of something really amazing.
Tiz: "This one blow will be your last!" is an old favorite of mine.
Agnès: Yes, that's quite imposing!
Ringabel: Yeah, but then what if they survive it? Don't you look like an idiot?
Tiz: Hmm, then what about, "This will probably defeat you, maybe!"
Ringabel: Hmm, that's not really better. In that it's worse.
Agnès: Perhaps just, "Gosh, it would be great if this defeats you!"
Edea: Not much of a battle cry, is it?
Ringabel: "Prepare for mild to severe discomfort!" maybe?
Ha ha ha, these are all terrible...
Girl with Hairpin: La dee dum da da...
Victoria: You. Woman.
Girl with Hairpin: Huh?
Victoria: With the vapid look, yes.
Girl with Hairpin: Oh, my! Now, whatever is a little girl like you doing out all by herself at this hour?
Victoria: I hear you're thought to be the likely winner of the upcoming Sacred Flower Festival.
Girl with Hairpin: I am! Aren't I pretty? Now, if you want to grow up to be pretty like me, you need your beauty sleep!
Victoria: Hah. Idiotic plebe.
Girl with Hairpin: Now, that's not very... Nng...glk... Aagk...
Victoria: Ah, a slip of the hand. I'd meant only to mar that lovely face, ha ha. They really are such fragile things. Like plucking a flower. And flowers so beg to be plucked... The ease of it all is a terrible bore. Don't you agree, Victor?
Victor: Just so, Victoria. Just so.
Victoria: Hm hmm, let us hope these vestals to the crystals are more entertaining.
By my data, the likely runner-up ought to be strolling past soon. Shall we say hello, Victoria?
MC: All entrants, to the central plaza! The 47th Annual Sacred Flower Festival is set to begin!
Tiz: We're in time!
Edea: And you've really decided not to go with this sexy swimsuit?
Wait, you still have that?
Girl with Hairpin: What was she thinking with that bland getup?
Girl with Dyed Hair: She's clearly delusional. I almost feel bad.
Ill-Natured Girl: ...Almost! Ha ha ha!
Ancheim Citizen: I didn't come all the way here for this! Boo! Boooo!
......To my one true friend... In hopes that this may reach you. Though great distance has come between us, I consider you my friend, now as in childhood. You were a source of joy. A target of aspiration. You were ever one step ahead, but you would always to reach out a gentle hand to guide me. Just to see your smile and hear you speak filled my days with warmth. Yet now, I do not even know where you are... The smile you wore as a girl is still so fresh in my mind. And yet... I feel my breast will be torn asunder from worry. I want to see you again. To know that you are well. ...... To be truthful, I am terrified with you, even now, as a grown woman. I force myself onward, but any confidence I show is hollow deception. Every pause, every quiet moment, I feel ready to fall to my knees and wail as I did back then. Please... I feel I cannot withstand this crushing weight. I cannot manage it alone... I cannot imagine completing my task with you there. Without your aid. For so long, I'd swallowed back these doubts. Tried to be strong... But I fear all habits are not soon broken... ...... I will wait for you. So, please... if you watching, tell me. Let me know you are there. Give me some small sign, and this time I will do as you once did. I will reach out my hand to you.
"I heard about your appearance at the festival, though I was not able to attend. It puts my heart to ease knowing that you have also weathered this terrible crisis. I wish to meet with you as well, Agnès, my one true friend. But I fear I am not free to move about. Behind the ruins to the west lies the hidden village of the Crystal Orthodoxy. You will find me there. Do not allow this letter to be seen by any eyes but yours. Not even the matriarch can know."
—Olivia Obliges Letter
Victoria: I trust you heard that, Victor?
Victor: Most clearly, Victoria.
Victoria: Then we've little need for the wind vestal to continue living, hmm?
Victor: Indeed. Though, if I may... It seems they make for the vestal of water's side.
Victoria: Yes, and?
Victor: They may serve us better as live bait. We let them go, give chase, and net two vestals at once.
Victoria: Fine, fine. So, in the end it was I who took the festival crown. Unsurprising, but amusing enough. Wouldn't you say, Victor?
Just so, Victoria. Just so.
"Rose to strike northern hideaway. Warn them to flee at once."
— Crystalist's Note
Tiz: Good, it looks like we're in time.
"Crystalist": Is something wrong?
Agnés: Gather your families and run! This place will soon be attacked!
"Crystalist": What!? No way!
Edea: It's the truth! Now hurry!
"Crystalist": You've got to be kidding me... Ha ha ha...
Tiz: This is no time to be laughing!
Bloodrose Legion Member:
But it's too funny! How could you fall for it so easily? Hurry, girls! Send word to the valkyrie!
Einheria: To think so simple a snare would work on the infamous vestal.
Agnés: What's become of the people of this village!? You didn't—
Einheria: Gone, and not by my hand. This place was deserted. Though I cannot say whether the original inhabitants left alive or dead.
Einheria: Agnés Oblige, Vestal of Wind, you will come with me.
Tiz: We won't let that happen.
Einheria: Do not resist. Running is futile as well. You're perfectly surrounded.
Einheria: You've not been given leave to speak, Edea.
Ringabel: Friend of yours?
Edea: Why are you doing this? This isn't—
Einheria: I've warned you not to speak!
Edea: I'm afraid I cannot keep silent. Agnés is my friend.
Einheria: ...... Yes, I've heard all about you, Edea. Traitor to your homeland, ally to that monster. Alternis begged me to talk sense into you. He was beside himself.
Edea: He's not... Alternis has nothing to do with this.
Einheria: You and I learned the sword under the same master. We shared a vision. A dream. We swore our blades to the service of Eternia, and pledged to fight for her future.
Einheria: Yet here you stand, a traitor.
Edea: I had to...
Einheria: To free mankind from thralldom before the crystals. To create a new world where all can live in peace! These are the tenets of the grand marshal's philosophy. The same that you denied when you betrayed your homeland and spat in the face of your father! Why, Edea!?
Edea: I knew nothing before. I was innocent... Ignorant. But no longer. I've seen the world with my own eyes. Judged right from wrong for myself. And now I can say with all confidence, you are wrong. All of you. The council. The forces. The legion. None of you are making people's lives better! You burn cities down. Bleed people dry for money! One atrocity after another...
Einheria: You mean to deny your own father? Just like that!?
Edea: ...Yes. I don't understand what he's thinking. I can't accept it.
Einheria: What have you been looking at this whole time? The vestal's illusions!?
Edea: I know what I've seen. I'll let no one deny it. Not even you.
Einheria: ...This is my final warning. Return to your father's side, Edea.
Edea: I cannot. I won't! I can never go back to the Eternian Forces.
Einheria: ...... The grand marshal's orders were... to eliminate any obstacle.
Your words have made this clear. You are an obstacle before me, Edea! I'll not hold back. Your treason ends now!
Einheria: Y-you've grown... stronger...
Einheria: Why... do you weep? You've bested me. Be proud...
Edea: I never wanted...
Einheria: Edea... Hear me now. My final...request... Meet with him. With your father... Face to face. No more intermediaries... Look at him... Look at him, and you'll see it... What he seeks... I know...
Edea: I will. I swear it to you.
Einheria: Good. That's good... My sisters... You've come to...guide me... ......
Fiore DeRosa: Well, hello! Quite the dashing little dandy, eh, my friend? But pray, mistake me not. I have no interest in children, and still less in men. But yes, this is quite the merry band. Two boys, two girls... Double date, is it?
Agnès: "Double date"...?
DeRosa: How charmingly hot-blooded. Ahh, youth! Look at me. You're making old Red blush. Ah, beg your pardon. That was no criticism. I'm proud—envious, even! Hard to believe I was that young, once. Time's remorseless arrow, eh? Now look at me. Just a sad pile of bones and flab and tarnished dreams.
Ill-Natured Girl: I'd be happy to cheer those bones up any night, DeRosa.
DeRosa: Stop it. We've got kids watching.
Agnès: Curious... I feel a reflexive, uncontrollable revulsion.
DeRosa: So tell me, my little dandy.
Ringabel: You're addressing me?
DeRosa: I am. Tell me straight. Just how far have you gotten with her? ...What!? Not even held hands? That's worrisome. You're making the Red worry. Women are fickle beasts. Another fellow comes a-courting, and they're apt to flit off. Take me. If I saw an opening to chat her up, I'd have her in my pocket in minutes. Seconds!
Ill-Natured Girl: Excuse me? Are you really going to flirt while I'm standing right here?
Ringabel: If you'll pardon my saying, I doubt Edea fancies shallow old men.
DeRosa: Ha ha ha! No need to get heated, lad. True, you have your youth and innocence and baseless confidence. As well you should. Stay just as you are. ...We'll see if she does the same. Just remember it's not innocence a girl wants, it's a thrill. That, and a refined technique.
Ahh, but I'm afraid you'll have to study up on that one alone. Heh heh, take care.
Just what are these "techniques"? I stewed on it all night, and came up blank. Next time I see that Red character, I'm getting a demonstration, one way or another.
Peculiar Girl: More... Need more...
Ringabel: It's late for a lady to be wandering about. Shall I walk you home?
It wasn't enough... The hairpin...the dye... I used them. Used them both. But... But it's not enough! More... I need more! I can be prettier... Have to be... He laughed... Laughed his smug laugh as he said it... "I've a secret beauty potion." But it wasn't enough... It's not enough! Red hair left... Left the basement... None of it lasts... Potion wasn't enough. Basement...so dank. I woke... Woke up and screamed. More, MORE, I NEED MORE!
Edea: You look positively ragged. Still obsessing over what that Red fellow said?
Ringabel: There's something about him. Something shady. We tailed him, and he just vanished.
Edea: Sure you didn't just botch the attempt? I'm sure you're an old hand at chasing skirts, but you've no talent for tracking middle-aged men. Right, this looks like a woman's job. He seems the type to leave a trail of broken women behind him. I'll judge him for myself.
Ringabel: Don't. Please... I don't want you going near him. Just the thought of you and him...
Edea: I'll thank you not to fantasize. Besides, have some faith. Do I seem the type to fall for a washed-up philanderer? I'll just put on a little act and see what his game really is.
Ringabel: But how?
Agnès: Is that...? It's the one from the sage's collection.
Tiz: The "bravo bikini," wasn't it? I didn't realize Edea had it.
Ringabel: One glance can tell you it doesn't fit... Clearly, the woman is fearless.
Tiz: Are we sure this is wise? It might attract the wrong attention.
I told her to scream if anything happens. We have to trust her.
Tiz: I don't see the red man down here.
Ringabel: Secret passages, and now this?
Agnès: What is all this? It's all machines and laboratory tools. And row after row of those vials.
Ringabel: She's breathing. Knocked out, but otherwise fine, thankfully.
Agnès: All these women, left here unconscious... We have to free them from this place.
DeRosa: Ahh, but that would put me in quite the bind.
Tiz: It's the old red man!
DeRosa: Now that is unfortunate. "Red" is a fine nickname, but you've gone and butchered it.
Ringabel: I'll ask this once. What have you done to Edea?
DeRosa: Ha, I gave you fair warning, boy. Said I'd have her in my pocket, didn't I? I'm telling you, it's all in the technique. And the technology. Take that device there. So, it churns out a little toxin called pheramore, see?
DeRosa: As in poison, yes. Follow along. You mix pheramore with nidaphyx... And this cologne is born. Give it a little...spray around the collarbone... Can't imagine the stuff is good for you, but my, is it effective. Any woman within arm's reach falls for me. Guaranteed. A slave to my every word. Ha ha ha, so yes... There's a chemical technique, to start.
Ringabel: Why do this? To attract women? Why imprison them here, then? What are you really after?
DeRosa: Simple. The Red always has his eye out for women that might prove useful. Once I spot them, it's just a matter of making them fall for me. That part's easy. Then they do my work for me. Whatever I say. Recruitment technique, check.
Ringabel: That's it, then? All this, for some lazy ambition?
DeRosa: Now, now. Don't get ahead of yourself, boy. What goes into that machine there? Ahh, the women. It extracts the toxins from the seduced women to make cologne to seduce more women. Rinse, repeat... There's a fine technique for bringing down a nation.
Agnès: What!? You can't... Who are you!?
DeRosa: Hush, darling. Red still has the floor. Now... I never forget a lady's face. Ever. It's my gift. I knew yours in an instant. Imagine my surprise, seeing not one, but two golden geese trundling along behind you. How you saw them as anything but an opportunity, I'll never know. Were I in your shoes, boy, I'd use every trick of the trade to make them fall for me. Once they're in love, they're yours. You've won. For women are creatures of emotion, my friend. Bar wench or grand duchess, a gal in love will give anything—do anything—for the man she loves.
Agnès: And her wishes, her identity? These mean nothing to you?
DeRosa: Does a carpenter care for the wishes of his hammer? Tools ill have need of identities. Regardless, your capture will be my ticket to riches and glory, and I thank you for that. A traitorous runaway and a wanted witch. I can think of no two finer instruments.
Tiz: He's Eternian. Are you with the legion!?
DeRosa: Quiet in the back, thank you! Where was I? Ahh, yes. Techniques for getting ahead. Use every tool in reach till it crumbles to dust. That's how a man succeeds. Eh, dandy?
A man who would call a woman his tool is no man! My friends will suffer no further insults!
Since you're clearly incapable of managing my nickname... Let's make this formal. I am captain of the Eternian Forces' Bloodrose Legion— Red Mage Fiore DeRosa!
— DeRosa's formal introduction
Heh heh... Seems a...tool used wrong makes... a fine weapon...
— DeRosa's dying words
Tiz: Is something wrong?
Edea: Do you remember the girl who won at the festival?
Tiz: Sure. The little one, right?
Ringabel: I have no interest in little girls. There's nothing sexy about a twig that's yet to bud. I can't imagine how she won.
Tiz: I don't think Edea was asking for all that...
I could swear I've seen her somewhere before. I just can't place where...
Agnés: Ahh! Olivia! Oh, thank goodness... Thank goodness! I've been so worried. I had no idea where you were. If you were safe...
Olivia: And I am sorry. I've been on the run, hiding in one corner of Florem or the next.
Agnés: Since the day the darkness took the crystals?
Olivia: Darkness? You speak of what happened a few weeks ago? No, I've been a fugitive for longer. Years, now...
Agnés: What? But I don't... Whatever for?
Olivia: Florem maintains a show of stability and peace, but it's been home to harsh persecution. Crystalists are rounded up. Any who struggle are killed... I nearly joined them more than once.
Agnés: Persecution... At whose hands?
Olivia: Any under the banner of the bloody rose. The fields have run red since the day they appeared.
Edea: ...The Bloodrose Legion.
Olivia: I thought to smuggle the faithful to safety, but I am one woman alone...
Agnés: I, too, nearly died by the hands of the duchy. In Caldisla.
Olivia: I feared as much. I know not the cause of the violent hate they bear us, but it exists.
Olivia: But come. Seeing you again like this is a happy occasion. We've both survived. In truth, I had begun to doubt such a reunion would ever come to pass.
Agnés: Have you had some cause to lose hope?
Olivia: ...The vestal of fire is dead. I heard it from a member of the Bloodrose Legion.
Agnés: Are you certain!? Oh, this is terrible...
Airy: No! Then that means you two are the only ones still able to awaken the crystals!
Olivia: Awaken...? What does she mean? And what... what is she?
Don't eye me like I'm some kind of monster. I'm a cryst-fairy!
Agnés: Olivia, we vestals are the only ones able to dispel the evil shadow spreading over the land. And to do that—to fill the great chasm—all four crystals must be awakened.
Olivia: I see. In my seclusion, I had no idea... You've fought so hard, Agnés. How my little crybaby friend has grown. I've cried enough as well. The task ahead was insurmountable alone, but together... We can do this. I cannot hope to lead anyone by continuing to flee. Those believers who remain need comfort. Hope. And the world needs our aid. I'm coming with you, Agnés.
Agnés: Olivia... Thank you. I'll be tenfold braver with you at my side.
Olivia: Then let us begin at the Temple of-
Victoria: Ah ha ha ha ha! Your little game of hide-and-seek is at its end!
Ringabel: That little girl took the festival crown. Why is she here?
Tiz: Could it be...we were followed!?
Edea: The witch... Victoria! I remember now... She sits upon the Council of Six. Leaders of the Eternian Forces!
Victoria: You vestals have run quite out of hand at late. I shall see your running ends here!
Agnés: No! Olivia! It was me... That was meant for me!
Victoria: It was meant for the both of you. How irritating.
Agnés: Olivia, please no! Olivia!
Tiz: Let this be a nightmare...
Edea: Be careful! The witch is a greater foe than we can hope to defeat!
Victor: Oh, bother.
Victoria: You're late, Victor. I started without you.
Victor: So you have. Our purpose was to be the capture of the vestals, but I fear you've overdone it... Not that it especially matters.
Ha ha, you know how I detest holding back. Temperance is so dull!
Victoria: Ah ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha ha! They're like little dolls. One good twist, and off pops their head!
You are ever demanding of your toys, Victoria.
Tiz: They'd been apart half a lifetime, and just finally... Have you no humanity!?
Victoria: Victor, were we to bring back the vestals, plural?
Victor: No, Victoria. We were charged with securing only one.
Then I think I'll go ahead and kill the wind vestal. Yes, that sounds rather lovely.
Edea: Were these my father's orders!?
Victoria: Hmm? Ah, it's the grand marshal's girl. I was too distracted by the vestals to notice.
Edea: Has my father truly performed such brutality all this time!?
Victoria: Quiet your wailing. He was calm enough when he cast you off.
Indeed, I see no issue with terminating her here.
Victoria: I grow bored, Victor.
Victor: Then shall we conclude?
Victoria: Ha ha, erase all but the water vestal. The rest ar...argh...nng...nhh!
Victor: ...!? Victoria? Victoria!
Victor: Of course it would have to be now... I fear we must adjourn. My apologies!
...Did we win? No, they let us...go?
Agnés: Olivia! Please, hold on! You can't—why did you...? We'd only just met again!
Olivia: Nnh...ahh... You were...always quick to tears... I need to keep close watch... I'm sorry... As you say, we'd just... After so long... Please... I leave my duties to you. Awaken the Water Crystal...
Agnés: I can't! I need you, Olivia. I can't done this alone. I can't do this...
Olivia: You can... You will. I know... You can... Only you... Only... ......
Olivia! Open your eyes! Please, open your eyes...!! You're the only one. My only friend... Don't leave me... Please, don't leave. I need you... Olivia... Olivia...
...It's too cruel... It feels like my heart's been torn up into ribbons... It's too sad. But... where do we go from here? You're the only vestal left, Agnés. ...Can you do it? I'm so sorry to ask this of you now, but there's no other way. So I'm asking you. Awaken the four crystals, before the world is swallowed completely. It's what Olivia wanted. She said you could do it. Only you. So, please... Save this world, Agnés.
Ringabel: Dark mood for a nice day's sailing.
Edea: Agnés... Forgive me!
Agnés: For what?
Edea: What happened to Olivia... I am partly to blame.
Agnés: You may have fought for the duchy, but you've nothing to do with the one who killed Olivia.
Edea: But I do... That monster... The one they call the witch, Victoria. I knew of her.
Tiz: Just who are you, Edea? Before, when that man attacked. Alternis. You knew him. Better than a simple soldier of the Sky Knights ought.
Edea: I hadn't intended to hide who I am... But I should have told you sooner. My father is grand marshal of the Eternian Forces. Leader of the Council of Six.
Tiz: If the council is in charge, and he leads the council... Your father's the head of the whole duchy!?
Agnés: Then the order to assassinate the vestal of water came from your father?
Edea: I don't know. I don't know... I can't blame you if you blame me for it, though.
Agnés: You don't... You... You intend to stand there and feign heartache and innocence both!? Perhaps it was you who communicated Olivia's hiding place to the duchy!
Edea: That's not—I wouldn't!
Agnés: Perhaps you were a spy this whole time, deceiving us even now.
Tiz: Agnés, stop. We fought this far together. That means something. Don't doubt it.
Agnés: ......Excuse me. I need rest. I ask that you leave me alone awhile.
Ringabel: ...We're crossing into open water.