The troubled Final Fantasy XIV, as we know it, is drawing to an end in preparation for the 2.0 update. In honour of this, I returned on one of my old characters to look back at the game, and tell the story as it were of a defining friendship that came to make me quite like the game in the end…
I took a moment to compose myself as my Miqo’te companion fell to an almighty swing from the stone-clad colossus that had invaded the once proud Ul’dah. It seemed so unjust that someone who had been so bright and breezy in the face of such adversity could be so resolutely crushed in both spirit and physicality. Her last moments were of sheer panic; realising the foe that had invaded the city was well above her capabilities as a Conjurer, the last expression I saw from her friendly face was one of abject terror. The realisation that things were not ‘alright’; far from it, we had been here hours now and there seemed to be little end to the waves of creatures that the Garleans had at their disposal.
We had once gazed out over the vast oceans; braved the Mun Tuy Cellars together in the hopes of discovering some unseen treasures; wandered the plains of Coerthas together chanting and singing and slaying our way through anything that dared to look at us with any contempt at all. I had always been cold and cynical even from our first meeting, but it seemed to phase her little. The first time we met was in the depths of Shposhae Hollow; as I delved deeper into its cavernous bowels there she was, cheerful and standing aside a chest. She seemed genuinely thrilled to see me; although I suppose that she would have been thankful to have seen anyone at that time.
“Are you here to take me home?”
I had no real idea where her home was, nor would she tell me. Save her name; Miko Nuni. It was the first of many encounters and adventures I would share with this cheerful cat-girl, a girl whose sense of direction was always less than adequate. Mostly I would find her deep inside some strange caves system, and she would grin at me as though she knew I would always rescue her in spite of her reckless tendencies. Always in her pristine white robe that looked as though she had somehow magically materialised at just that moment in the dark, dirty surroundings, she never seemed that concerned for her own safety. Never noticing the creatures around her, many of which would have been more than happy to accept her offer of a free meal. Somehow, it was always me she found. At first I felt as if she may be following me, or trying to sell me something I may not need nor want in such a hostile environment. Yet no; she dutifully followed me to safety each time, thanking me as we treaded our way back to the nearest encampment, or as I used up the last dregs of the Anima I had stored to take her to the warm and secure confines of a major city.
I must confess a slight envy here; she seemed less aware of the state of the world than myself. I would often journey away from the known lands, exploring new places and acquiring new trinkets for my collection. I had barely noticed the slow and noticeably impending doom that was slowly falling from the skies. If Miko knew, she certainly wasn’t showing any signs of concern. Nor did she seem all that concerned about the threat of the Garleans. “I am sure they have good hearts underneath all that metal!”, she once told me. I never had the courage to explain to her that we were now at war with them, that Garlean forces were invading our precious lands and that myself and others were slaughtering them in their hundreds. The ground was covered in their bodies, and yet more still came. They said nothing; they looked at us with a cold, steely glare of hate that I once recall seeing from my father late one summers eve as I told him I was not to be his pawn; my destiny was to be my own, bow in hand as I struck out for fame and fortune without the family name to carry me.
I also did not want to tell her why I had run away. She never could keep a secret.
Over time, we both watched as Dalamud fell towards us. Tales had reached us of madmen who believed that its impact upon our world would cleanse the impure and only the truly worthy would rise from the ashes to rebuild a better tomorrow. One worried warrior even came back shivering; telling us that he had witnessed first-hand the device that was teasing the moon from its path around our world towards us, and how in a fit of anger and rage one Garlean Official had destroyed it. Effectively dooming us all, as there was no longer any known means of pushing it away once more. It went from a white ball in the sky to a red and then decidedly hot-pink colour, and the closer it drew the more we could all see the moon was not of a natural stone form; the huge, imposing spikes jutting from its form in such perfect symmetry defied the explanation that this was a natural occurrence. Someone had made this device. This enormous, imposing death machine had been in place long before our people walked this planet. And that filled me with a degree of despair; that the Ancients that had come before may not have been as omniscient as our tales had depicted them. They had created the instrument of our impending demise. How could they have justified such an abhorrent creation? One that was changing the world, warping otherwise peaceful creatures into bloodthirsty savages. It made no sense. What evil was there that could possibly justify such a failsafe?
Yet Miko never seemed too phased by it. “It is so pretty in the dusk, don’t you agree?”
As the Garleans and their seemingly never-ending armies trundled towards our home cities, the mood inside the Guilds changed. There was once a real sense of defiance and leadership in the face of such overwhelming odds. And it was those odds which were now crushing peoples hopes. There was no end, we slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of soldiers only to see more behind them. For every one that fell we could see three-dozen more on the horizon. The monsters that had been calm were now attacking and worse, being summoned and controlled by the Garleans. How they pulled off such a feat I dare not go into, but they could shape the world around them as they saw fit. They could control any beast they wanted. And they had the sheer numbers by which to dominate every corner of our fair lands.
Hopes began to fade. Yet Miko still seemed hopeful. “I’m sure they won’t do anything more bad!” she said. I wish she had been right.
For yesterday, inside the once secure walls of Ul’dah, a Garlean official materialised out of thin air. And with him came a ceaseless onslaught of creatures; drakes, manticores, goblins, treants, golems, darkspawn, the undead. Everyone began to converge to meet this invasion with resistance, and for a while it seemed to work as the Garlean official shifted in and out of the ether. Each time he came back, he brought with him a new ally; bigger and meaner than the last. The armies of resistance that had come to meet them slowly found themselves being gradually worn down, as the streets became littered with those who had fallen in defence of the realm numbers dwindled and as the creatures became ever more imposing and ever tougher to dent. Slowly, some began to take refuge from the main streets, hoping that these events would simply pass and the Garleans were just trying to knock off some of the competition.
All except Miko. Who had seemingly got up close to a rather imposing golem and hit it across the ankle with her wooden staff.
I felt so helpless as it turned down to look at her, and she realised the gravity of the situation she now found herself in. I cried for her to run but she already was, and it was already too late. Her cry for help came too late, as an enormous stone hand came crashing down on top of her, and for a brief moment the world had stopped in my eyes. A snapshot of a true evil; and the realisation that the Garleans were going to accept nothing but the complete annihilation of all of us. Any claim the righteous would be spared was frankly laughable – they were bringing about the end, and laughing whilst they were doing it. The extinction of all was their goal. Domination was mere foreplay to the arrival of the death of our very world.
I had paused from firing my arrows. As I heard more sing past my ears, I remembered how clearly I actually appreciated seeing a friendly face in the depths of the most hostile regions of the land. How much she had taught me about the world, hearing it and feeling it. Understanding the order of things, in whatever form that may be. Miko had been a guide to me, a familiar form to which I had grown most fond of over time. And to see her final moments, and the terror in her eyes, suddenly snapped something into place. This was not the end. This could not be the end. No just divines would allow such a spirit to endure such an awful end. No proper higher powers could allow a reckless, greedy renegade state to become so powerful that it could drop a moon from the skies above our heads. This was it; this was everything I had, and everything I had worked for. I had walked away from a cushy life into one of danger, excitement and treasure. I had no regrets. There was nothing left for me back there, and with Miko gone, nothing left for me here.
The world will burn, I am sure of it. If I rise from its ashes, it will be knowing that I did my duty. Not for my family, or Ul’dah or any state or organisation. No, I now fight for Miko. For the cruel way she was snatched from life, and forever will it remind me of the depths to which some will go to in the name of their leaders. To the gates of damnation if need be. Miko never asked for this war. She never wished harm on anyone. She believed in the world, and peace, and love. Things which I hope she is at one with now.
As for me? I stand here, looking out once more on the vast plains. I can see Garleans lined up, ready to invade. They do not know I, and my companions, are nearby. There are countless legions of them, but I do not care. For I will make sure a hundred fall to my arrows before a single scratch shall be laid upon me, and a thousand before one pierces my flesh.
I fight for those who can no longer fight.
I fight for Miko. The girl who taught me to love the world, in spite of its flaws…
Hi there. If you’re finding your way here somehow after the whole “End of an Era” thing,
and are confused as to why this blog is coming up in Google… good question.
I have no idea either.
That said, you can click THIS LINK to go to the YouTube video
that was shown at the very end of FFXIV 1.0.
See you in A Realm Reborn!