My last post about Red Mage took so long to write that by the time I finished it I was already level 69! A couple evenings later and I already got to level 70.
I swear I tried to make this post shorter too but before I knew it the thing was huge. Again. -_-;
Anyway, on with the show...
WARNING: Spoilers about the level 60-70 quest line for Red Mages ahead
With the threat of Lambard ans his cabal gone, X'rhun Tia decides it is time for something of a more structured approach to training. For that purpose he takes us to Yddillshire.
The first lesson will be to fight some mechanical contraptions controlled by the local Illuminati goblins. Since we did so well against Lambard, X'rhun doesn't think these will give us much trouble. Arya has potential but lacks refinement so he was thinking about sending her to fight together with a partner. Arya however insists on training alone, saying that before she met us she felt she barely existed. Learning Red Magic gave her purpose though, a sense of being alive. Her biggest wish now is to catch up to both us and X'rhun so she might stand as an equal.
After hearing that X'rhun agrees with her request to fight alone, thinking this might be a good opportunity for her to improve on her white magic.
So off we go for training. Since it is just some regular mobs we have to fight, they end up being dispatched pretty fast. Going back to meet with X'rhun it seems Arya is late to coming back. X'rhun starts to worry that she might have end up fighting more than she could handle and we go off to search for her.
It isn't too hard to find Arya. She is kneeling on the ground, looking unharmed but a bit confused. Around her there a quite a few destroyed mechanical contraptions and dead goblins.
As she stands up her hair turns red and she mumbles something about being hungry, about needing to feed on our life energies. So that is what Lambard was talking about before dying.
Trying to talk her out of it doesn't work. So with some help from us, X'rhun is able to subdue Arya and bring her back to Iddyslhire.
After some rest she is back to normal, still confused about what happened and feeling really bad for trying to attack us. X'rhun also feels guilty thinking that he shouldn't have put her under such a stressful test.
X'rhun thinks this may something to do with the forbidden knowledge Lambard mentioned back when he was still bragging about being super powerful.
Whatever the cause may be it means Arya will be benched for now as any of use of magic by her part could lead to her losing control again. Meanwhile it is up to us and X'rhun to find out the truth behind this.
First stop is a Ziggurat in Gyr Albania. Apparently it was built by the Red Mages of ancient times. It is also there where X'rhun and Lambard first journeyed to learn the arts of red magic. Since Lambard mentioned learning some forbidden ancient techniques that seems like a good place as any to start.
Since this is an area with regular mobs it is again not too hard. After gathering up some old tablets and bringing them to X'rhun (who was also gathering some, off-screen, just in case someone was wondering) we seemed to have found some answers.
This was from before red magic was an unified discipline. Someone figured a ritual where drinking the blood of a voidsent (that is how they call demons in Final Fantasy XIV), one could gain tremendous powers. There are even some voidsent who have a hunger for living aether. This practice started from a family of sorcerors in Mhachi, way before the Sixth Umbral Calamity.
We also found a formula for a potion that was meant to sate the appetite for aether when living prey wasn't available. The concoction thankfully works and Arya feels much better. X'rhun however points out this is only a temporary measure, we still need to find a cure for Arya's affliction.
X'rhun sends us to go training again (read: level up until we can do another step in the questline) while he and Arya search through some texts left by the Sharlayans for some clue about a cure.
Unfortunately this doesn't bring any results. X'rhun however just remembers that back in the days, Lambard used to read a book, of which title he doesn't remember, about the memoirs of a deranged killer that was executed as a heretic in Isghard. Apparently this killer committed a series of ritualistic murders with a peculiar form of "thaumaturgy". At the time X'rhun thought it was just some vulgar reading but now he thinks this might bring a clue to our current problem.
Asking around we found out the title of the book is Nightkin and a copy of it just happens to be in the Great Gubal Library. It also seems that the book was written by some lunatic who believed himself to a descendant of demons.
With that knowledge it is up to us and X'rhun to go to the Library to retrieve the book. It is actually a short instance based on the real dungeon. I had some trouble with it, even dying a few times against the last boss. Although I don't recall exactly why. I think it is because I leveled Red Mage pretty much through Duty Finder so I never really learned how to kill things without having a meat shield between me and my enemies.
Anyway, the book turns out exactly the kind of clue we needed. The author was indeed a mage who studied all kinds of ancient and forbidden magic. He also was a descendant of one of the archmagus of Mhachi, one who went through the ritual of ingesting the blood of a voidsent. Not only that but the blood that archmagus ingested was from the voidsent queen Lilith.
Lilith's energies were passed down the descendants of the archmagus. This clan of crazy sorcerers called themselves the Nightkin. Oh, and Lambard happened to be one of them. Probably Arya too.
Seems like the author of the book and Lambard all shared the same surname, Callowise. This surname was also present on the Arya's mother side of the family.
Arya is obviously pretty shocked by all this but it is hard to deny all the evidence.
X'rhun also doesn't think that Lambard had to drink voidsent blood to get his powers. Instead the ritual he used was only to awaken the corruption that was already part of his bloodline. However since the ritual requires years to perform it is unlikely it was used on Arya as she was a captive only for a short time. X'rhun theorizes that in her case it was awoken by accident due to her training in red magic. It is still unclear however why it happened so quickly on her.
It isn't all bad news though. It seems that after the first Callowise summoned Lilith he trapped her inside a box. Otherwise she would just return to the void and thus the potency of her blood would be lost. That means if we find the box, free Lilith and banish her back to the void the corruption within Arya should be gone.
If fiction taught me anything through the years is this kind of plan is just terrible and would only end up in tears. But since this is Final Fantasy XIV, and I have no choice in the matter, it is exactly what we are going to do.
The next time we come back, Arya relates a very vivid (and convenient) dream about the man who wrote the Nightkin book. It was about a black coffin-like box that he hid in the corner of his house. He was watching over it right before some ishgardian knights broke in. Half of the men were ordered to drag him along while the other half were ordered to bring the box.
Arya's description of the "coffin" matches exactly one of the containment tools that Mhachi sorcerers used. Convenient or not this is the best lead we have. So off to Ishgard we go.
Initially the local priest doesn't want to let X'rhun check on their archives. But once she hears our name she realizes we are the same person who saved Ishgard from certain doom and is more than happy to let us check their records.
Thankfully this is a task that X'rhun can take care of alone. He asks for us to go tour the town a bit with Arya. This leads to a pretty nice scene with the girl as she tells us how much her journey with us and learning red magic means to her.
Not soon after X'rhun shows up with the location of the box! Arya's dream matched the records perfectly. The only detail is that the inquisitors were so unnerved by the energies from the coffin that they decide to throw it away into a ravine, a place called "Witchdrop"
Thankfully it isn't too hard to find the coffin despite the snow covering the place. Trying to opening it is a different matter. We try to do it ourselves only for a voice to say that we are not one "bearing the blood-gift". Some demons are summoned to kill us but are easily dispatched.
It is up to Arya to open the box. As she touches it the coffin opens up liberating a blinding light. When the light is gone, Lilith is there, very glad to be out of her prison.
In typical villain trope she quickly explain her plans: apparently she schemed through thousands of years since her imprisonment to get the perfect vessel. Manipulating through dreams those who drank of her blood to come together, to strength the bloodline until the perfect vessel was ready. Even Lambard was part of this, being manipulated without his knowing, to capture Arya. All for this moment where she could possess her new host.
In that moment Arya seems to be in a mixture of shock and trance. Despite X'rhun's pleads she walks towards Lilith. Then another blinding flash of light happens and both Lilith and Arya disappear.
Remember how I said this was a terrible plan? Yeah... Well, this is Final Fantasy XIV so things may still end well.
X'rhun is furious that we could have fallen to such a trap. Not all is lost though. Since Lilith didn't immediately possess Arya's body that must mean a ritual is necessary for such a feat. This gives us some time to figure out its location, get there and save our friend.
After regrouping back in the Pillars to discuss our next step of action, X'rhun Tia figures we should go to Ul'Dah to visit the Thaumathurges guild as they are one of the few organizations that are familiar with Lilith.
Fortunately the Thaumathurges are more than happy to oblige. Time for some exposition dump:
Lilith's most terrifying power is that of enslaving people's minds. Considering all the people who might have even one drop of her blood out there then she might have quite an army on her hands.
The sigils Lambard used to control others is just another manifestation of Lilith's power. All he had to do was to coat a knife with his blood and then use it to engrave her name on the flesh of the victims.
She can also drain the power of her pray and spit venom. That is how she got trapped in the first time. The archmagus was prepared with some potent antivenom and the body she possessed back then was pretty limited. So no wonder she spent the next thousand years plotting to get a better vessel.
The thaumathurge that helps us also conjectures that what Lilith wants isn't just mere freedom but also enhance her own power through the perfect vessel.
To do that she will need to recreate the conditions of her original summoning as closely as possible. At least the location is something we know, it is in the ancient city of Mhach also known nowadays as The Weeping City.
This means we'll need an airship and a pilot to take us there. Thankfully we already know one, Jessie from the Garlond Ironworks! She not only agrees to lend us an airship, Jessie also insists on piloting it herself.
Time to do some rescuing! Again it is a mini-instance base on the real dungeon. I foolishly tried to do it with a mix of level 66ish gear.... I didn't get past the first trash mobs. After investing some tomestones of Verity to buy a new chestpiece and a weapon things went much better. I still died once fighting Lilith though because I was dumb and didn't do one of the mechanics of the fight right.
Still it was far easier than the fight with Lambard. Even more so considering I was properly geared in that fight while in the one against Lilith my gear was all over the place.
With Lilith dead, Arya falls down unconscious to the floor. While X'rhun worries about his student not immediately waking up, we see a cutscene where Arya is walking in complete darkness. After a brief moment of confusion, she realizes that it is her own mind, being pushed aside by Lilith.
The voidsent queen then appears, trying to convince Arya to accept this as her fate. For a brief moment the girl accepts it but then she remembers us and X'rhuan Tia. This is enough for Arya to regain her desire to live, to fight back. She summons a golden rapier and banishes Lilith once and for all!
With Arya safe it is time to return to Revenant's Toll. She is eager to get back to training but there is one small problem. Her previous talent for magic was due to Lilith's taint. Now that it is gone Arya has barely the aether to cast the simplest of spells. She isn't sad though because now she knows that anything she achieves as a red mage will be through her own effort. It means she will have to learn from scratch though, starting from the basics of thaumaturgy and conjury;
Also X'rhun acknowledges that we have outgrown anything he has to teach, we are not his student anymore but rather his equal. With his stint as mentor over he decides it is time to go back to the road. This isn't a goodbye though as X'rhun is sure that we'll all be meeting again eventually.
And so ends another questline for Red Mage.
I will admit that at the end there the quest hit me in all the feels. In the early parts of the 50-60 questline I honestly didn't care much about X'rhun Tia. But once Arya appeared in story and both characters kept being developed I started to really care about them.
And even though I am happy to have a nice end to this story, where everything was nicely tied up, I will certainly miss these characters. I hope that whenever the next expansion comes they can keep up the quality of the storyline, whatever it may be about, for Red Mages. 🙂