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Generated: Sep 16, 2022 5:24 PM
Post last updated: Sep 16, 2022 5:24 PM
legacy of allag
Ancient ruins have never been so interesting
Permalink Mark Unread

Ever since the inception of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, the group had but one overriding goal: to prioritise and promote the good of the realm, free from the shackles of political affiliation or partisan monetary incentives. Its history spoke well of that purpose - various scholars, adventurers, and other enterprising individuals who had formed their own groups with similar ideals kept running into each other, sometimes stepping on each other's toes, but ultimately working together and achieving better results than they would have otherwise been able to. It only made sense to merge into a unified banner, to improve their communications and coordination and to make their altruistic purposes easier to achieve.

And thus were the Scions formed, counting amongst their number the studied archons of Sharlayan, people of political power from all over the realm, and experts in combat and history and biology and all sorts of magic. A group that owed allegiance to none and to all; to the realm itself, and to all of its people, regardless of their origins or ties. This is the group that would manage to unite the countries of Eorzea under the purpose of fighting back against threats of external conquest, the group that could pool its members' knowledge to more effectively counter gods and mystical beings bent on destruction or subjugation, the group that had amassed singular amounts of power and influence and that vowed to use all of it for good.

So it was a bit of an issue that their main headquarters had previously been located in claimed territory.

There were historical reasons for such, naturally, as there always are, but the main reason it had not truly been much of a problem until recently was their relative secrecy. Sure, the leaders of the five (then four... then three...) great nations of the Eorzean Alliance knew where to find them, and the existence of some such group of mysterious origins but undisputable efficacy was more-or-less an open secret even to the public. Nevertheless, until certain recent events, the Scions had kept a lid on details such as their head count, who exactly was part of them, and most importantly where they were located.

But once that stopped being the case and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn stepped forward as a force in their own right, more and more petitioners started coming to them to request individual aid with this or that issue. Which would itself not be that big of a problem except for how these petitioners started trying to offer the group monetary compensation if their requests were bumped up the priority list, or in some cases even going as far as making veiled (or not-so-veiled) threats. Ul'dah - the country that owned the land the Scions used to occupy - had the most such petitioners, politicians and land owners and nobles implying that if the group wanted to keep their relative peace in Ul'dahn land they should bow down and accept these requests. But to counter that, there were also numerous offers coming from elsewhere, from Limsa Lominsa and Gridania: subtle and not-so-subtle suggestions that a group like the Scions should not be beholden to Ul'dah (and should, instead, move to their country).

It was all rather aggravating, but after sufficient amounts of hesitation they finally decided to leave. To leave Ul'dah, and to not go to Limsa Lominsa or Gridania. To go to unclaimed land, as suggested by Alphinaud Leveilleur, grandson of the great archon Louisoix Leveilleur.

The Scions of the Seventh Dawn are moving to Mor Dhona - a difficult decision, but in the end the only one that made sense - and everything seems to be going swimmingly.

Permalink Mark Unread

And so it was that these meddlesome busybodies and do-gooders founded a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere in Mor Dhona. The location had been mostly unoccupied since the Calamity of five years prior had upturned the land and a great monstrous creature razed the ground. Unoccupied save for, that is, adventurers who had set up camp here and there, adventurers who themselves owed allegiance to no country and offered their help to all. Unoccupied save for, that is, researchers who were studying the effects the Calamity had had on local concentrations of aether, studying the enormous magic crystals unearthed then, or the even more enormous crystal tower that had been dug up from the ground and erected into the sky.

It was, in a word, perfect.

The move wasn't instantaneous. Although the group probably boasted the highest concentration of people with the ability to teleport nearly at-will out of any groups one could care to name, it was still better, safer, and cheaper to bring their belongings by wagon. Less of a chance of losing things in the aether stream, trying to teleport while carrying five boxes of random stuff. They also had to set up their new headquarters, plus various local amenities for the people who would be living there: a marketplace, a forge, an inn and a tavern, all of that. It took a while.

Yakata no Otohiko, the vaunted Warrior of Light, savior of the realm yadda yadda, and possibly the single most famous member of the group, was helping with that as much as he could. As one of the people who did have the ability to teleport everywhere pretty much at-will, he could make sure everything was going smoothly and help with any crises that might crop up. He ran around so much people were sure he must have a secret twin working with him, or maybe he had figured out how to be in two places at once. Otohiko always found it kind of curious how many rumours people started about him even when he was right there, available for answering questions, but so it goes.

He has neither a twin nor the ability to be multiply located, though, and the place he's at right now is by their new headquarters in Mor Dhona. And that's where a masked stranger gets his attention and waves him over.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Excuse me, you wouldn't happen to be Otohiko Yakata, the famous adventurer to bested the Garlean Empire's general, would you?" he says by way of introduction when Otohiko walks over to him.

Permalink Mark Unread

...Otohiko's used to people singing his praises - well, perhaps used to is a strong phrase, the more accurate one would be resigned about - but something about this guy's manner feels off.

He has no idea what though and it has never been his forte to speculate so he just puts the thought aside and wears his Warrior of Light fa├žade. "Yeah, that's me. Yourself?" Asking people their names is good, he thinks. And he often forgets so it's best to get it out of the way early.

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"Splendid - ah, mind me not, let's just say I am an interested party. Now the thing I'm interested in is something that I believe will interest you as well."

Permalink Mark Unread

Okay, this is getting to more familiar territory. People asking him to solve their problems is par for the course.

"Don't keep me in suspense, then."

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"It is, I have to warn you, a rather unique opportunity both in its reward and its risk. A single misstep could cost you your life, but should you succeed you will help unearth the accumulated knowledge of a whole civilisation!

"But pardon me, I seem to forget who I am talking to. Of course you do three things that would risk another man's life every day before breakfast."

Permalink Mark Unread

Stopppppppp praising himmmmmmmmmm it has in fact never helped to wish for this. Just ignore it.

"You flatter me," he replies with, because he does not know what else to say given that this guy is insisting on the theatrical declarations rather than getting to the point.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Ah, but I shan't actually tell you, for I fear you would never believe the word of a stranger on such a fantastical matter. Rather I bid you seek a man by the name of Rammbroes at Saint Coinach's Find; he is the one leading this little expedition."

Permalink Mark Unread

...huh. Rammbroes is a Sharlayan archaeologist, so whatever he's involved in won't really be... things most people would think to involve Otohiko in.

"We are acquainted," he says, because "I saved his life that one time" would sound like boasting even though it's true and strictly more informative about the kind of relationship they have. "Forgive me, but this is fairly atypical of requests people make of me. What is your relationship to this expedition?" Because Otohiko is pretty sure he's met everyone in Rammbroes's archaeological group and this man does not... look... like any of them.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Worry not, I seek no reward. I merely happen to be aware that they have need of someone strong enough to deal with rather complex traps and protections, and I wish to see them succeed. But on this matter I shall speak no more; if it interests you, you know where to go. For now I take my leave."

He bows deeply and walks away.

Permalink Mark Unread

What an... interesting fellow.

Well, nothing to it. He is in fact in the middle of a break of sorts - externally enforced, there just happens to be nothing needing his attention at the moment and he had in fact been hoping to run into something that would nevertheless benefit from it, and this sounds as good an opportunity as any.

Otohiko opens his book, always attached to his belt, and finds the page he's seeking with the ease of much practise. A surge of targeted will into the aether-conductive ink shapes the magic in a familiar format, and the surrounding water- and air-aspected aether mingle with his own to form a small golden cloud. Without preamble he jumps onto it and takes flight; Saint Coinach's Find is only a short distance to the east of Revenant's Toll.

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There is one specific small encampment Otohiko makes for, sitting amidst the crystal-covered landscape, for that is where Rammbroes tends to spend most of his time when he is not out on some errand or expedition. He is lucky enough to find the roegadyn sitting by a tent, reading a book, so he need not wait for or chase after him.

    The man blinks up at his arrival - it is not always one witnesses someone riding a flying cloud - but smiles widely once he recognises the au ra. He puts his book down and gets to his feet, and opens his arms wide in an expansive welcoming gesture. "Otohiko! I haven't seen you in a while, though I suppose I have heard enough to know what has kept you busy."

Otohiko steps off his cloud, making it disperse into the air, and grins back. "'Tis good to see you too, Rammbroes."

    "Come, come, sit," says the archaeologist, gesturing at a nearby chair. "To what do we owe the honour of this visit?"

"Well..." Actually it's kinda awkward to explain. Just get it out of the way, he supposes, as he takes the offered seat. "I was approached by a hyur wearing a mask who very cryptically suggested you needed my help with something that would risk my life every step of the way towards unearthing all the accumulated knowledge of an ancient civilisation."

    Rammbroes blinks a couple of time in bewilderment. "A masked hyur? I - he was correct that we do have a little anthropogeographical project going on that would benefit from someone with your kinds of experience, but I cannot think of anyone in this expedition that would do such a thing and the expedition was meant to be a secret." Confirming Otohiko's vague suspicions that the hyur was probably sketch. The roegadyn shakes his head. "But that is something for me to ponder in private at some later point. I would explain what it is we are looking to do, here, before counting on your help; I suspect this endeavour will be rather amongst the more dangerous ones you have undertaken.

    "Let's go inside; everyone in the camp knows about it, but it would not do to be too free with our tongues."

Permalink Mark Unread

Otohiko follows Rammbroes into one of the tents, and it is immediate that it was not chosen at random, for Cid Garlond is sitting there peering at various papers strewn about on a table. He looks up at the two of them and his eyes immediately land on the au ra. "Otohiko? I had thought I heard your voice but figured it must have been my tired imagination. What brings you here?"

    "Of course you two are already acquainted, I should have known," says Rammbroes. "It seems word of our expedition has leaked somehow and reached the ears of someone who decided to tell our Warrior of Light about it so that he could help."

"- I was thinking of inviting him here, myself, but he has been so busy with the move I didn't really want to impose... Well, nothing to it."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I still don't actually know what exactly it is you are planning, here," Otohiko says, apologetically.

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Cid nods and folds his arms. "You know that the Sons of Saint Coinach's main goal is unearthing the secrets of the Allagans, yes? This would be their most daring expedition yet. I trust you have seen the tower of crystal to the east of here, unearthed five years ago; it is an Allagan structure that has somehow remained intact under the earth for the past five millennia. We mean to investigate it."

Permalink Mark Unread

Something clicks. "And this is a secret because the last two times anyone tried to mess with poorly-understood Allagan tech..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Rather a lot of destruction unfolded, yes," he says, nodding. "It was in fact your recent encounter with the Ultima Weapon that spurred me to start this project. That is twice already that the Garlean Empire got its hands on Allagan technology and wreaked untold destruction with it; I would not have it happen a third time."

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Otohiko shudders. "You expect things like it to be in there?"

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"Perhaps not, but I would rather err in the direction of being overly cautious."

    "We haven't managed to even get past its outer gate, though," says Rammbroes, scratching the back of his head. "The tower's magical defences seem to have survived just as intact as the tower itself."

"Just so," nods Cid. "A forcefield surrounds the tower, not even airships can get past, so we will need to be clever instead."

Permalink Mark Unread

"But the tower's unlikely to have as its only defence this forcefield," reasons the au ra, "and we may have to deal with many unknown unknowns in terms of what we might find."

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"And you, in particular, are a rather great fit for the job. Your martial prowess aside, I have watched some of your lectures to the Lominsan arcanists; they were inspiring. Your knowledge of magic may well be as crucial as your ability in battle to ensure our success. More, even."

Permalink Mark Unread

See, this kind of thing Otohiko is way more okay with. Being good at magic is an actual achievement. Being good at fighting is just a gift from above.

"Well, are you going to tell me more about this magic forcefield, then?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'll do you one better: I'll take you there."

Permalink Mark Unread

Otohiko doesn't use his cloud, this time, to be considerate of his comrades who don't have clouds. Besides, he doesn't really know the way and doesn't want to accidentally cross the invisible threshold and be fried by the forcefield. Chocoboback riding it is.

Because of that, he can't go immediately; he has to clear his schedule a bit. Before he can even realise he's feeling a little bit guilty about it Y'shtola tells him off and says that they're just moving, they can very well lug boxes around without his help, and this Crystal Tower business is right up his alley and actually needs him in particular. He can't argue with the logic (nor with the glare she gives him) so he does in fact do it.

Permalink Mark Unread

Along some treacherous crystal-covered terrain, through twisting caves, and out past a bridge of Allagan make, they stop at an arbitrary point and Cid nods in the direction of the Tower. Otohiko frowns and folds his arms, staring. He can't... feel much of anything, there. Is Cid testing him? Or were the Allagans just that good at defence magicks?

No matter. He shuts his eyes and sends out a soft hum of aether in the relevant direction, feeling out the echoes in response - or their lack. Yes, there is a barrier there alright; even air echoes more than the absolute blank space in front of him.

He sits down, cross-legged, and opens his book. Not to find any existing arcane diagram; what he's going to do instead is draw exploratory patterns and channel his aether through them and at the forcefield. First an ambient omnidirectional emanation, then short staccato spatially-localised bursts, then thin streams from various angles, then finally elemental filters - his Summoning experience helps a lot, there, as he's channeled elemental energies countless times and got a good feel for them.

It's the elemental filters that give the clue that fits the puzzle together. This aetherial barrier is elemental, and from surrounding cues it is fourfold, for each of the classic elements: fire, wind, water, earth. Further examination reveals that they are astral-, astral-, umbral-, and umbral-aspected, respectively, which is the opposite of what people usually go with.

"It can't... be this simple, can it?" he asks, opening his eyes to notice that he's been there for over four hours now.

Permalink Mark Unread

Cid and the other researchers that came with them have settled around, set their measurement instruments up, and gotten to work with similar analyses.

"Simple?" wonders Cid.

Permalink Mark Unread

"It feels like all you need is to create a sufficiently pure set of foci of the four classical elements and filter the four layers of the shield through them to warp its shape and create passage."

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All the researchers stopped what they were doing to stare at him, gobsmacked. "First, my friend, that is not simple at all. Second, did you manage to discern that from just looking at it?"

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"I... wasn't technically looking, per se..." This is still his jam, though, and he's much more comfortable suffering the stares of people if it's about magic. He shuts his book and hops to his feet in one motion. "But yeah it's simple, you grab crystals of sufficient purity, attune them to the right side of the spectrum - using ice and lightning as catalysers can help, they naturally occur in astral and umbral states much more often than otherwise and since they won't themselves be foci they don't even need to be pure, just concentrated - then while keeping the attunement stable you use fine aethersand to create a polished shield layer on each focus so that they don't lose the attunement, or even worse, get mixed." Without paying attention to his body language, he's taken a more and more animated set of gestures, using his hands to accompany every word and even the occasional burst of magic to illustrate his points.

"Once you have that, you arrange the crystals in the proper order, mount a neutrally-elemental opposite-aspected set of aetherial barriers between each pair of them, and send a wave of aether through them in the direction of the barrier. Oh, you do need to make sure the streams of aether are polarised with the opposite polarisation from the forcefield - actually, if they were smart they gave indivisible polarisations to each element so maybe you'll need four different aether streams, I should check that. Anyway, once you do that, the forcefield should resonate with the crystals and then you can just manipulate the shape of the aether you're sending through them - maybe creating a focus construct to do that part for you, that'd be smart - and if you do it right you should be able to reshape the forcefield itself and just create a tunnel through it."

Permalink Mark Unread

At some point in the middle of all that some of the researchers started taking furious notes while others still started fiddling with the measurement instruments.

"We... hadn't thought of the polarisation trick, truth be told," says Cid, scratching the back of his head. "We did figure out the elemental part - though nowhere near as quickly and precisely as you did - and we had plans to use a more brute-force method of jamming an interference signal through -"

Permalink Mark Unread

"That has a significant chance of exploding in your face, though!" he interrupts. "Not to mention if the shieldmakers were clever at all they'll have sensors to notice this kind of overt tampering and it'll certainly spring traps. My method - could still do that, I don't know how they'd be able to detect the tampering from afar but it's the Allagans, they knew crazy things - but it will certainly be safe."

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    "Can you teach us that?" says one of the researchers, a lalafell standing on a wooden crate so she can reach high enough to peer into one of the goggle-like apparatuses. "We can get all sorts of numerical data but figuring signal from noise is extremely difficult and we don't have automatic ways of separating stuff like that - I think your theory that the four layers have separate polarisations is right, we didn't think of crossing elemental data with it..."

"Oh, uh... I'm not much of a magitek engineer," he says, and he manages to look guilty about this, as if the fact that he's not infinitely knowledgeable about everything related to magic were a personal failing, "but maybe I could help interpret the data?"

        "I think even an explanation of the magical theory would help," offers another researcher. "The underlying principles, that is, and how you manage to pick those apart..."

"That I can do. How much do you know about arcanima?"

        "Not much..."

"The basic principles involve enforcing self-sustaining spatial structures in your expressed aether, which can create constructs but also tease apart different specific dimensions of the aether..."

Permalink Mark Unread

Cid shares Otohiko's idea with Rammbroes, driving the roegadyn into a frenzy of calculations to try to nail down a specific implementation of it and make sure there wasn't anything Otohiko missed that could render it impossible (there wasn't). Once they have the specifics down, it transpires that they'll be able to make do with smaller elemental crystals, but they'll need more aethersand. Which is kind of a pain because aethersand is both much more expensive and harder to acquire than elemental crystals by volume, but the added safety and stability of the method makes it worth it.

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Otohiko is enlisted to procure those. The crystals are straightforward enough - the Kobold, Sahagin, Amalj'aa, and Ixali tribes will have them and this has the double purpose of depriving them of the means to summon their monstrous murderous primals - but the aethersand is less straightforward.

Neutrally-aspected and -elemental aethersand is - not cheap, exactly, no aethersand is cheap, but it's available, as the regular extraction process from certain special rocks and plants can be done in bulk under the right weather conditions. But if they specifically want aethersand with the correct elemental affinities they're looking at either paying through their noses for it or having to go on dangerous treks to perilous lands during inclement weather around unstable aetherial phenomena.

All in a day's work, if Otohiko is to be asked.

Rammbroes does not ask, and first has him go check in with the Goldsmiths' Guild; he sent in an order for aethersand a while ago, and enough money to cover the additional amounts they'll need for the modified proposal.

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When Otohiko gets there he runs into a familiar face arguing with one of the representatives.

"What do you mean someone else already has this aethersand spoken for?"

    "The order was placed weeks ago and we have a good working relationship with them."

"Well I have the money right here already!" The roegadyn places a jingling bag of coins on the counter, which the representative eyes assessingly.

    "We can take this as partial advance payment for a future shipment, but I'm afraid the current batch really is spoken for."

Biggs's face blanches. "Partial?"

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Otohiko can't help it, a sudden irresistible instinct takes over his body, he has no control over himself. Really. It is an entirely subconscious act that has him walk over to the same counter and place a bag with about two and a half times as much gil as Biggs's on it accompanied by a note from Rammbroes.

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Biggs does a double take when he notices the bag and its holder.

    "Oh, you're here for the aethersand? Right away, sir," starts the representative, but Biggs immediately interrupts her.

"Come on, he arrived after me, it's just 'cause he's the Warrior of Light he gets special treatment!"

    "...no, sir," she says, waving the note. "He's speaking for the party that I told you about which was ahead of you." And has more money, she doesn't say.

"...what, seriously?"

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"Oh, hey, Biggs, didn't see you there," says Otohiko with a shit-eating grin while the Guildsperson goes to the back to fetch their shipment of aethersand. "Yeah, sorry, I'm here on orders."

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"Great timing," he grumbles.

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"What do you need the 'sand for?"

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Being asked about his projects, his greatest weakness! "Wedge 'n I figured out a way to use it to enhance airship engines - based on the design you and the chief came up with for Garuda, actually - but the first prototypes will need a lot of it... But it'll revolutionise the field of arcraft design!"

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"Oh, well, I suppose you'll have to take it up with Cid, then, I'm here on his project."

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"- you workin' with the chief? He went off on a secret mission an' never told us what it was... but whatever interests 'im will be important too..."

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"Oh, yeah, loads. You can come back to Saint Coinach's Find with me if you want to ask him whether you can be let in on the secret."

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"...temptin'," he says as the Guildsperson comes back with the bag of aethersand.

    "I'm afraid we only have the fire variety so far," she says, looking apologetic. "But perhaps you knew that? That amount would only cover the one batch," actually slightly more than the whole batch but who'll tell, elementally-aspected aethersand's so rare and the prices are always fluctuating so volatilely...

Permalink Mark Unread

"Rammbroes suspected you wouldn't have lucked into more than one element's worth if you had found any at all."

    "Well, this is the whole batch. It was a pleasure doing business with you!"

"The pleasure is mine." That phrasal response he's memorised.

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"...but afore that we'll need to find Wedge. He's gone on his own... adventure to find the 'sand."

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"- Wedge went somewhere dangerous without you?"

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"S'rprised me as much as you! We got him a bodyguard o' course, he still can't fight to save his life - lit'rally - but even then."

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"So what's the plan?"

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The plan had been, it turns out, to try to find this itinerant peddler who had somehow come across a sizeable amount of earth-aspected aethersand. Wedge ran into some complications, though, in that apparently the merchant was robbed shortly before Wedge found him, and everyone worth their salt knows how valuable elemental aethersand is.

Undeterred, Wedge decided to try to find these bandits on his own (well, with the bodyguard) and see if he couldn't smuggle the 'sand back. And that was the last Biggs heard of him over the linkpearl.

Of course, they couldn't exactly call him, because in case he's being successful at his stealthy endeavours the noise could reveal his location, and that would certainly be dangerous.

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Nevertheless, it's been a while since Wedge's last message and Biggs is worried, so Otohiko teleports to Camp Bluefog (and takes Biggs along) to start his investigation, as that was where Wedge was when last he sent word.

After asking around, though, it becomes clear that the situation took a turn for the worse.

    "Aye, the lalafellin lad was who hired me for that," confesses a sturdy-looking roegadyn. "An' we got to the bandit camp alright, but when he got the aethersand we was found, and we ran - but we got split up, an' I haven' seen him since. Hope for his sake he's fine," she says with a sigh and a shrug, "but I wasn' paid enough to mount a whole rescue from gods know what them crazy robed folks are."

Some more asking around reveals that a group of cultists of the fallen moon are the most likely group being referred to, as they've taken the abandoned mythril mine nearby as their abode recently, and they sure do wear robes and act crazy.

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And so it is that the Warrior of Light gets on his cloud and goes scouting.

Here's a little secret he doesn't share very widely: his idiosyncratic Echo power is being able to predict the future. Except not any future. Just any future where he would predictably die.

Also, predicting the future just feels like living through it and then waking back up at a non-predictably-lethal point in the past. His body's fine, of course, but it sure does feel like he was just killed by whatever it is that would have killed him had he committed to a given course of action.

It took some experimentation, but now he's got the hang of it. He doesn't share this very widely because people tend to react with alarm and worry and it's just needlessly frustrating to deal with that.

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He decides he is going to go explore that way. If he hasn't found Wedge by the ten-minute mark, he has this trusty knife and he knows exactly which veins to cut that hurt the least and lead to the quickest death.

He'll also limit himself to twenty such attempts before extending his search time radius to twenty minutes.

That turns out to be unnecessary, for after the fifth death he manages to find the lalafell hiding in a corner of an empty room.

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The diminute lalafell lets out a loud but short squeak when he notices Otohiko and starts with a quick "Pleasedon'tkillmeIswearIdidn'tmeanitI'llgiveitback -" before he realises it's not one of the crazy cultists who found him, causing him to nearly fall on his butt when sagging with relief. "Otohiko, I'm nothing but grateful for the rescue but what are you doing here?" he says in an urgent whisper when he manages to regain his ability to speak.

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"Biggs told me what you were planning and I found your ex-bodyguard when I got to Camp Bluefog and she told me your story. So I had to find you."

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"...that good-for-nothing," and the rest is too low-volume and mumbly to be made out but it most likely consists of a series of curses. "How'd Biggs run into you anyway?"

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"Funny story, I need elemental aethersand too for a project I'm working on with Cid and a co-conspirator of ours had ordered a batch of fire aethersand from the Goldsmiths' Guild a while ago, and when I got there to see if it had arrived Biggs was trying to convince the representative that his cause was worthier."

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"It is!" Wedge says almost out of instinct, but then he reprocesses Otohiko's words and grows contemplative. "...although anything the chief is working on will no doubt be important, especially since it was a secret and all..."

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"I'm sure he'll tell you both about it if you ask. I can take you both with me to Saint Coinach's Find. Do you have the aethersand?"

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"Yeah, I -" But he stops talking when he reaches for the bag that should have been attached to his belt and finds it gone. "Son of a chocobo, I, I must've dropped it when I ran here..."

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Nothing is ever easy, is it?

"Show me which direction you ran from, I'll look around the area for the bag and if I can't find it I'm sure the Lambs of Dalamud will help me with it."

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Wedge can't help but giggle at that. He tells Otohiko about his flight path in more detail and wishes him luck.

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Luck has very little to do with it.

(It still does, a little, in that he was lucky to have gotten the Echo at all, that wasn't merit of his, but at least he makes good use of it.)

After a little bit of fighting Lambs and looking around he manages to locate the 'sand then teleports Wedge back to Camp Bluefog so that he can bring both of them to Revenant's Toll. From there it's a boring chocobo ride to Saint Coinach's Find, which Otohiko decides to forgo in favour of riding his cloud, cross-legged, slow enough to keep up with the other two.

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"- well I can't say I wouldn't like to work with my best, if truth be told," Cid says when he's apprised of this recent journey. "Your idea about the airship engine is ingenious, by the way, can't believe I didn't think of it myself. I'll understand if you'd rather keep the aethersand but before that let me explain what we're doing here..."

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Biggs and Wedge eventually do agree that the exploration of the Crystal Tower is probably more urgent than aircraft design, and will release their aethersand on the condition that they be allowed to help Cid figure out all the ancient tech they'll inevitably find.

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Which no one finds to be a problem at all.

    Rammbroes takes Otohiko aside, though, to talk about the other two elements they need. "I had a Sharlayan colleague try to procure water aethersand in Gridania following a lead I got," he explains, "but I haven't heard from him in a while. Which isn't entirely uncharacteristic of him, if truth be told, but I'm growing impatient especially now that you've found us two varieties already. And the trip was not without its dangers, so I also worry for his safety. My lead came from a merchant called Parsemontret, perhaps you could go find him and try to follow the lead yourself?"

And off goes the Warrior of Light. At least Gridania has its own aetheryte and aethernet so he can just teleport directly to it and then use the 'net to quickly get to the market where this Parsemontret usually sells his wares.

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But nothing is ever easy. The merchant tells Otohiko that he did indeed meet with a Sharlayan scholar - he had the tattoos that mark the Archons of Sharlayan on both sides of his neck, and did claim to come on behest of Rammbroes. He tells the au ra the same thing he told the scholar: there is a certain mineral in Urth's Fount that gets charged with water whenever there's a storm, which isn't very frequently but there was a recent one and the water charge could still be in the rock so if Otohiko's quick he could go grab it to refine it into the aethersand.

Except quick isn't the only thing Otohiko has to be. Urth's Fount is not a place one goes on a leisurely stroll, especially after a storm; not only are the elementals stirred and empowered around the area, but also there's a rumour of a particularly ferocious giant boar that made the location its lair.

Otohiko imagines that the most likely reason for this boar to be there now would be that he himself exorcised the area of a peculiar primal called Odin, and without its corrupting influences and physical presence the area would be prime for picking by any animals who could defend it. He thanks the merchant, teleports to Quarrymill, and makes his way (on a cloud) to Urth's Fount.

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...where he finds the corpse of a rather massive (even for its kind) giant boar, looking like it was recently killed.

And where he hears a certain mysterious voice for the first time.