(In the interest of spoilers, I’m skipping past Zone 5. And I’ll probably going to do the same with Trial 2, Trial 3, and Zone 6. At least until a later date, and we’re further out than launch so that people have time to get there.)
You’re back! Where were you? You were in Cleveland? Sure, why not. Didn’t realize that [REDACTED] was in Cleveland, so, good work. You now know what started the apocalypse, and what has to be done to stop it.
Upon your return from the First, you’re then dispatched to Garlemald, as the Scions have been trying to put out fires there, on account of the Final Days. Sharlayan and the Ilsabard Contingent are trying to escort Thavnairian refugees to transport ships to get them to Old Sharlayan, but have been beset by Blasphemies, and you need to help them out. You’ll be taking control of the Twins in a solo instance, first as Alphinaud, then Alisaie. I’ve not played Sage, so, getting used to Alphinaud’ kit was much harder than getting used to Alisaie’s, since, while I’ve not played Red Mage much, I did get it to 70 on my old character in Stormblood. So, I have some familiarity still.
Alphinaud and Estinien, then Alisaie and G’Raha Tia will square off with waves of enemies. As Alphinaud, your goal is to heal the escaping refugees, preventing them from turning, and heal Estinien while burning down a boss-level enemy. As Alisaie, it’s more of a straight-up burn. No NPCs to cover, as G’Raha is running Paladin, and can heal himself. The fight mostly ends when you (as Alisaie) Limit Break 3 the boss enemy, causing…a LOT of damage.
After that, the two pairs converge, and are about to be overrun, before backup comes. The Garleans, led by Jullus, are helping cover the escape with their Armor. Not as conquerors, not as Imperials, but, as themselves. They want to help. And they brought in just the right level of firepower.
You. The rest of the Scions that are on-site (save Spaceman Spiff, AKA: Urianger) join you, and between the lot of you, the Blasphemies are easily defeated. The crew held together well in your absence, but now? The fight can be taken right back to them. Now, why the team didn’t dress for the weather? You’d have to ask someone far smarter than me. I’m not entirely an idiot, but, winter’s cold in Ohio, these fools could at least put some sleeves and longer pants on, seeing as it’s eleventy foot of snow on the ground, in a frozen war zone.
Once you’re back to camp, you’re directed to the station that the refugees will be picked up from, and brought to Old Sharlayan. And you meet your stalker as he clear-cuts a Blasphemy down. Jullus wants blood, demanding some kind, any kinds of explanation as to WHY Zenos abandoned his people, why he left them to die.
Zenos gives the now-standard nihilistic edgelord answer, causing Jullus to go for his Gunblade, but is ultimately stopped by the Scions. You have no interest in fighting him, your goal is the evacuation, and defeating the Blasphemies, which further drives him into “second semester senioritis” levels of not caring about anything BUT fighting you again. Finally, he’s told off by Alisaie, who outright tells him he WON’T get the fight he so desperately wants with the way he is. Sullen, he walks off, still wanting that rematch.
After all that’s done, it’s a matter of escorting Fourchenault to Camp Broken Glass to formally introduce himself to our guys. Alphinaud’s real dad stops the sperm donor to talk immense levels of smack. You seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2? You know where Yondu tells Star-Lord that Ego, the Living Planet “may have been your father, but, he sure weren’t your daddy!” Think of that, except with more elves.
A whole lot of nothing happens, I tune out for a bit while they talk about things that don’t concern me. I’m not paying attention, my thoughts are elsewhere, probably on football. But, the. something does happen that gets my attention. Something that perks my ears up to where I’m-
Oh my god, zombies? Really? We’ve already got enough to deal with, now this-what? What do you mean it’s just Puddingway? Okay, so, the Lopporits have decided that in order to fix the Moon to fit modern humans, they need to take a field trip to Etheirys. With Urianger as their chaperone. With everyone introduced, and MOSTLY on the same page, our detour to Garlemald is pretty well done. As a show of thanks, and appreciation for our assistance, Fourchenault will put in word with the Forum, and allow us to make a proposal regarding the Evacuation of the planet, and stopping the Final Days. So, it’s back to Old Sharlayan to plead our case to Congress…the Forum.
So, while this part is important to further what the Scions do from here out, it DOES kind of feel like a filler episode. There’s not much happening that couldn’t be handled without us, aside from Zenos brooding about his ‘rematch’. Assisting the evacuation does get us another audience with the Forum, and “Lunar Collaborators” meet their counterparts down on Terra Firma, but, things seemed to be well enough in hand before we got back from Cleveland. Ultimately, I feel like this is something that could have been done as a sequence before we get back from That Place. Other than us being the thing that fully turns the tide in Garlemald, I feel like it could have been a thing that shows just how strong our allies are when they stand together, not just lean on us.
I’m real close to the end, all the side-quest, and exploration-based Aether Currents found, and I just need to push further. However, this music track is pretty soothing, between it and the visuals, it’s a melancholic, peaceful kind of scene. I’m reminded of more than that particular FPS the further I go, and the Halo reference in one of the Aether Current quests has me wanting to dive back into ODST. I’m feeling something between wistful, melancholic nostalgia, and just trying to squeeze a little more blood from this particular stone. I’m ready for it to be over, yet I don’t want the ride to end.
I know that FFXIV isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, but, I want to hold onto this particular moment, and not let it go. I drove out of town to get a pizza for dinner tonight, and, listening to Zone 6’s music in the car, along with the overcast skies, but rapidly approaching sunset, I felt that same kind of wistful nostalgia. I wanted to hold onto that “5:30 on a cloudy Friday evening in January” where I’m by myself, listening to something that has that nostalgic feeling, it reminded me of something, but, I can’t quite place what. I don’t want this ride to end, I don’t want to end this, even though it’s time to. The light’s been lit for me, I need to walk the last few steps of this road through.
But, again, I don’t want to. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to end this story, even though it’s not truly over. I don’t like endings, and what I’m doing may not actually BE final, but, it FEELS final. Like I’m slamming the cover on this particular book closed. I don’t know if it’s that “wistful” nostalgia doing it, but, I want to hold onto this moment in time. I don’t want to let it go, I don’t want to “look back” on this point, I want to stay in it. I can’t stay though, I have to press on. Have to move forward, and end this story.