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Vignette Series "Tales from the Dawn" Released Today

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In celebration of Final Fantasy XIV's 9th anniversary, the writing team has announced - and subsequently released - a series of four worldbuilding short stories based around side characters that we've come to know across our journey.

The series, titled "Tales from the Dawn," fleshes out many characters that some of us may have had questions about when meeting them. While the vignettes don't cover any major characters - so far at least - we are getting a lot more insight into characters that are mildly important that we may not think about very often.

For example, this first short story, titled "A Friendship of Record", released today is told from the perspective of an archivist at Anamnesis Anyder, and a very fond admirer and friend of Venat. While it's not outright stated, the screenshot at the end of the heartwarming story does imply that we've met this archivist in Endwalker...and now I have to go cry.

You can read the first story of "Tales from the Dawn" here or below. The rest of the short stories are set to be released on September 2nd, September 9th, and September 16th.

Square Enix LogoTales from the Dawn [Source]


To mark the ninth anniversary of FINAL FANTASY XIV, we proudly present a new collection of side stories with Tales from the Dawn! Peer deeper into the hearts and minds of a diverse cast of characters, beginning with the first installment: A Friendship of Record.

Read the first story.

* Please note that Tales from the Dawn may contain spoilers from the main scenario.
* A total of four new stories are scheduled to be released.

Square Enix LogoA Friendship of Record [Source]

In a quiet corner of Amaurot, the bustling metropolis at the heart of civilization, sat a vault known as Anamnesis Anyder. Within its expansive walls, not only were creation concepts cataloged, but every known natural law and phenomenon was documented in exhausting detail. In short, it held the sum of mankind's accumulated wisdom.

As vast as this collection was, it required the oversight of no few curators, whose responsibility it was to categorize─and subsequently organize─the ever-increasing number of papers, crystals, and other recordkeeping mediums. Such duties demanded an unrivaled breadth and depth of knowledge, and thus for those who valued scholarly achievement, an appointment to Anyder archivist was considered an honor.

A great honor indeed.

While others poured their passion into new concepts and creations, the man remained fascinated by the study of extant reality. He would ponder what made a stone a stone─the properties which defined its existence. He was of the firm belief that one could solve the mysteries of one's surrounds─indeed, of the star itself─by understanding the fundamental building blocks from which they were formed.

When time permitted, the man would step away from his meticulous archiving to peruse the works on the shelves, referencing their ideas to flesh out his own hypotheses. There was little he enjoyed more, likening the process to a tree gaining rings with age, or layers of sediment building up over the eons.


One fateful day, the man was summoned by the chief archivist to attend to the needs of a visiting academic. A rather distinguished one at that. Over the last few centuries, this influential figure had produced striking results in the field of organic research, and her assertion that organisms were simply another form of matter was one which intersected neatly with his personal theories. Thus it was that the bookish man, unable to deny his interest and finding no valid reason to refuse, agreed to assist the academic in her pursuit of reference materials.

At the appointed hour, he took himself to the anteroom which abutted the entrance hall. A woman's voice, vibrant and clear, answered his polite knock. Pushing open the heavy door, he beheld the scholar standing alone, garbed in the same black robes and white half-mask worn by the majority of the citizenry, himself included. As he entered the chamber, however, she swept back her hood and slipped off her mask with smooth, unhurried motions.

"I am Venat. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

The archivist was stunned. With the exception of circumstances where identification was mandated, it was inappropriate to bare one's face to anyone save intimate friends. The custom was otherwise broken only when seeking earnest counsel, entreating a mentor for aid, or making a life-changing commitment. None of which should apply to me... Regardless, it signaled her intention to engage him with candor and respect.

With a deep breath, he reached for his own mask and returned the gesture.


And so began a friendship that would endure until the end of their days.


Venat was cheerful, well spoken, and undeniably brilliant. Her carefully crafted arguments drew sighs of admiration from her audience and concessions from her opponents. A rounded gemstone, without edge or flaw─the refracted light rendered a soft glow.


His perception would evolve years later.

Venat, having been writing furiously at one of Anyder's desks, at last put down her quill. Observing this, the archivist replaced the book he had taken from a shelf, and peered over her shoulder.

The argument was whole and free of contradiction. No longer theory, but indisputable truth. His heart swelled with elation and relief.

"It seems congratulations are in order."

Venat appeared not to have heard him.

Puzzled, the archivist shifted to the side of the desk and saw the scholar transfixed by her own work. For a time, she sat perfectly still. Then all of a sudden, she brought her hands to her mouth...and smiled. So broad and heartfelt that modesty could not conceal it. Unadulterated, unabashed joy─a jubilance that sparkled in her ocean-hued eyes. I recall not when you removed your mask, but I am grateful that you did.

"A miracle..." Venat muttered, as if in a trance. "Our existence is nothing short of a miracle."

"What an odd thing to say. Have you not just proven that life was the inevitable outcome of natural law?"

"Yes, but it is that inevitability which amazes me so. The sublime mechanism itself..."

The revelation yet commanded her full attention. As he watched Venat stare at the parchment, he felt his image of her fracture. Sharply cut facets now reflected the light with piercing intensity. All the more dazzling in her radiance.

He knew in his heart that this was the Venat she was meant to be.

Venat's perception of the world had changed, the archivist realized. As if for her the true shape of things had been brought into stark focus.

"I am leaving on a journey."

Her entrance was unexpected; her declaration abrupt. “Where will you go?"

"Nowhere," she replied. "Everywhere. This star has so much to share with us. Whispered wisdom to which I would hearken. Untold experiences I yearn to feel. Mysteries and wonders I must understand."

"Then you had best get started," he said, knowing full well that she needed no encouragement. "But do take care."

In lieu of a farewell, Venat graced him with another joyous smile. Her robe twirled about her feet as she turned and strode from the echoing vault. He watched, waiting until the distant door had swung closed behind her, then returned to his labors. Looking over the documents with a practiced eye, he quickly determined the first item's rightful place. He reached for another, and then another—carrying out his tasks with quiet efficiency.

Yet his mind wandered. What will she seek when next she returns? I must be ready. The time he had set aside for his own academic pursuits was gradually consumed by the study of subjects outside his field of expertise─a diversion he found strangely rewarding.


When Venat did interrupt her travels to return to Anyder, it was always without warning. Sometimes months would pass─and on occasion, years─before she appeared again, seeking to deepen her knowledge on this or that matter. As she enthusiastically regaled him with her adventures, he was struck by how different this Venat was from the brilliant yet rather more subdued scholar he had met once upon a time. A crystal bathed in sunlight. So blinding in her delight she outshone the very stars.

Her discoveries astonished him, as did her daring deeds that allowed her to make them. He, in turn, astonished her, producing the resources she required ere she had finished describing her query.

Venat's standing in society, too, began to change. In recognition of her work, she was elevated to a seat on the Convocation─to the office of Azem.

As well she should. The mantle of the Traveler suits her well.

Despite their history, her well-deserved new status demanded all the more respect—and distance. When next she appeared, however, the ceremony with which he presented her documents did not sit well with his esteemed visitor.

"Must I suffer this exhausting pomp from you as well?" she asked, her brow creasing in annoyance.

"Am I to speak to Azem as if she were my study partner?" he retorted. "You represent our highest authority now. You must accept the trappings with which it comes."


Venat went on to embrace her duties, accomplishing all manner of notable deeds in her time as Azem. When she caught word of a settlement beset by rampaging wildlife, she tracked the creatures to their lair and identified the cause of their hostility. When a citizen feared for a colleague yet to return from an expedition, she braved precipitous mountain peaks to find him. She toppled a towering creation born from a child's errant imagination, weeded out poisonous plants that had infested a farmer's crops, and when a matter required greater intervention, she brought it before the Convocation of Fourteen with a solution she herself provided. Astride her golden familiar, she journeyed without cease across land and sea and sky...

Thus when Venat announced her decision to relinquish her office, it was that much more unexpected. A jest, surely. Yet she spoke in glowing terms of her chosen successor, a "fascinating man" she had met on her travels.

"You would surrender the seat of Azem with so much left undone?" the archivist asked, still reeling at the implications.

"A true traveler has no need of a title," Venat said. "And my replacement would benefit greatly from the opportunities granted by the appointment."

“The journey is different for each who undertake it. Even following the same route, and visiting the same destinations, he will have different thoughts and experiences. He will make his own discoveries, and observe that which I failed to perceive."

Though she spoke of a successor, hers were not the words of one preparing to return to the star. Not yet, please. Not yet. Having attained the apex of their “personal truth," no small number of his Anyder colleagues had gone to their rest amidst a shower of praise and accolades.

But the archivist felt no pressing desire to join them—rather the opposite. For there was but one purpose he considered worthy of fulfillment: to keep watch as this incandescent jewel walked her path, and bear witness when she arrived at its terminus.

Venat stepped down from the seat of Azem to don the white robes of a neutral advisor. The man, meanwhile, stepped up to assume the role of chief archivist.

And so it was that when the Final Days were upon them, Anamnesis Anyder would serve as headquarters for Venat and her loyal followers.

The Final Days brought fire and ruin until Zodiark put an end to the calamity.

His devotees then resolved to sow new life─a bounty of souls to take the place of their sacrificed brethren. In time would they reap this crop, and by rendering it unto their god would the lost be returned, and the world restored to the paradise it was and ever should have been.

Venat, along with the archivist and their like-minded companions, objected to this undertaking. The future, they believed, must not bear the cost for saving the past. Only in accepting pain and loss─by learning from the mistakes of yesterday─could they greet the morrow. A power such as Zodiark possessed was anathema to the progress of man.

Venat's faction thus resolved to manifest an entity capable of shackling that power. To have any chance at defeating the nigh-omnipotent Zodiark, however, the sacrifice must be absolute. Not even their souls would remain.

In the evening after this consensus had been reached, the archivist approached his friend.

"Venat, please..." he wavered. "Why must it be you?"

Hydaelyn, as the entity would be known, required more than the collective's souls to manifest: She needed a heart. Venat was the obvious choice, though some believed that their leader should be spared─to carry on the cause in the event their efforts ended in failure. But as Venat explained her reasons, he knew that she would not be swayed.

"Rest assured, however: I shall not vanish from this world," she said. "The form I take shall ever remain my choice."

"...Then I will press you no more. Only know this...you will be sorely missed."

She stood before him in silence, and he knew he would never forget how the light caught the tears in her eyes she dared not let fall.

"It is I who shall miss you."

He had thought only of her sacrifice, and naught of the pain his own passing might cause. What is a candle to the sun?

And yet...

Unable to find the words, the archivist retreated into ritual. He held out a crystal—as he had countless times before—upon which was stored the last chapter of cosmological wisdom Venat had sought. Though she had spoken of its importance, he suspected she withheld the entire truth. Of her glimpse into the future, she had offered precious little.

"What we anticipate and what comes to pass need not be the same," she had once said. "'Tis best we work towards the greatest good without foreknowledge which might cloud our judgment."

The rounded gemstone, before life and revelation shaped her into so much more.

"The change in you has been...miraculous," he began, choosing his words carefully. "The change in myself almost equally so. A small sample size, perhaps, but if all mankind can grow in similar fashion, then I fear not for our future. Prove my theory, Venat. Prove it was worth the sacrifice."

His challenge hung in the air between them for an age.

Venat sighed, a small smile playing about her lips as she accepted the crystal. The archivist grinned.

"I regret only that I cannot see it through at your side. If you are to be Her heart, then I would be Her eyes. I would watch, unblinking, until the very end."

If only. He would fade into oblivion, and that would be his end. But his challenge would endure.

May it bring you joy and solace on the long road ahead.

And at your journey's end, I pray you look upon our fellow man...and know they shall carry on in our stead.



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      Icons for damage type in the battle log and flying text Buff/Debuff timers in party list
      Misc Updates
      A new UI theme which they can’t show today but will preview later. Portraits will now display when using DF 24 person content will only show your party member portraits Expansion of actions available while using fashion accessories Cast glamours and dye retainer equipment while using fashion accessories Ability to cast glamours on your own equipment directly from retainers inventory Ability to filter newly added items at sundry splendors vendors
      We hope this info was helpful to you, and we will continue recapping the live letter in the future!
      Check out the next PLL translation live on HurricaneChiela's twitch channel.
    • By Angelusdemonus
      Final Fantasy XIV will be appearing on Awesome Games Done Quick 2023 (AGDQ2023)! The run will air on the GDQ Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/gamesdonequick) on: Friday, January 13th at 7:26PM ET.

      For the full schedule, please visit here: https://gamesdonequick.com/schedule
      Awesome Games Done Quick is a charity video game marathon event that highlights speedrunners and high level gameplay. For this event, the charity will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
      The specific run that will be appearing on AGDQ2023 will be: Deep Dungeon - Palace of the Dead, Solo, Floors 171-180 on Machinist (MCH) run by Angelus Demonus.

      Although not an actual speedrun, this would be considered as a skill/challenge run. The run will showcase one of the hardest floors of the whole F1-200 Necromancer Title Solo challenge on MCH which includes a showdown with the F180 Boss: Dendainsonne/Behemoth. 
      For more information on the charity event, please visit this website: https://gamesdonequick.com/
      If you wish to check out the runner appearing in AGDQ2023, you can visit their Twitch Channel: https://www.twitch.tv/angelusdemonus

      ファイナルファンタジーXIVはAGDQ 2023で見られます!1月14日09:26 JST GDQ Twitchチャンネル(https://www.twitch.tv/gamesdonequick)に配信されます。

      AGDQとは、「Awesome Games Done Quick」の頭文字を取ったもので、年始に毎年行っているチャリティーのためのオンラインのゲーミングマラソンのイベントです。スピードランをする人とShowcaseと言う形で様々なスーパープレイが見れます。
      チャリティー配信となっているだけあり、プレイヤーたちがゲームをやりながら寄付金も募っています。寄付金はガンを防止するために活動している非営利団体である「Prevent Cancer Foundation」に寄付されます。


    • By ara
      This year, Final Fantasy XIV will be attending PAX in Melbourne from Friday, October 7th to Sunday, October 9th. Events include a Fan Gathering and various Battle Challenges!
      PAX is a convention celebrating gaming culture, giving fans an opportunity to interact with their favorite game developers, publishers, and more! Read below for more exciting news on what the Final Fantasy XIV panel will have in store for the community. 
      FFXIV Returns to PAX AUS (Source)
      We're delighted to announce that FINAL FANTASY XIV Online will be returning to PAX in Melbourne to reunite with all the Warriors of Light down under!
      Experienced adventurers should get ready to battle against Zodiark in order to get your hands on an "I BEAT ZODIARK" T-shirt, while newcomers can visit the Sprout Corner to explore Eorzea, try out the Duty Support system, and get a copy of the Starter Edition for free!
      A Fan Gathering will also be hosted in Melbourne on the evening of Thursday, October 6, where both FFXIV veterans and new adventurers are welcome to join in!
      PAX AUS 2022
      Show Dates
      Friday, October 7, 2022 through Sunday, October 9, 2022
      Melbourne Convention Centre
      1 Convention Centre PL, South Wharf 3006
      Melbourne, Australia
      Battle Challenge
      Warriors of Light, Zodiark will challenge you at PAX AUS!
      Sprout Corner
      If you've got mates eager to take their first steps in FINAL FANTASY XIV, be sure to bring them to the Sprout Corner!

      Newcomers can explore Eorzea, experience the Duty Support system, and get a copy of the Starter Edition for free!
      Beginner's Battle Challenge
      Experience a Battle Challenge designed for new players starting out in the game.
      Challenge Ifrit to get your hands on an FFXIV Water Bottle!
      Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Speaker
      We're teaming up with Panasonic at PAX! Come visit us on Sprout Corner, where visitors will be able to experience the SoundSlayer Wearable Immersive Gaming Speaker System first-hand.
      Fan Gathering
      A Fan Gathering will also be hosted in Melbourne on the evening of Thursday, October 6, where both FFXIV veterans and new adventurers are welcome to join in!
      We have 200 seats available for this Fan Gathering. To register for one, please send an email to:
      [email protected]
      Your email needs to contain the following information:
      Your full name Your age If you would like to bring an additional guest
      ・The full name of your additional guest
      ・The age of your additional guest Please take the time to read our Privacy Notice.
      Please also ensure that you have your guest's permission to share their name and age.
      Thursday, October 6, 2022
      The Emerald Peacock
      233 Lonsdale Street, Level 1
      Melbourne, Australia
      Visit the venue's website here!
      Visit the PAX Aus website.
    • By ara
      The final entry in the collection "Tales From the Dawn" has been published. This time, it follows Jullus, a Garlean prominent in Endwalker's Garlemald arc, as he struggles to rebuild his nation in the aftermath of the Final Days. 
      With the conclusion of Endwalker, we are thrown into another narrative in Sharlayan, without any news of how our enemy-turned-friend from Garlemald is faring alongside our favorite Leveilleur twins. Jullus began as a close-minded Garlean soldier tempered by their extremely discriminating view of outsiders such as the Warrior of Light's alliance, but shows a significant amount of character development over the span of the Garlemald arc. Personally, he's become one of my favorite NPCs after the Scions; that's saying something in a game with a massive cast spanning four whole expansions!
      We are brought along with him on his difficult journey to recover his homeland — his heartbreak, his sorrow, his history are laid bare in bittersweet detail. We explore the echoes of Garlemald's erstwhile glory, beneath the layers of their antagonistic front. I may have choked up a bit reading some of the passages, as the descriptions of Jullus' loss are so vivid it felt like I was physically there myself. What do you think of the Endwalker side stories, and which one is your favorite? 
      A Question of Death (Source)
      Jullus awoke to near darkness.
      He was but one of many soldiers, young and old, lying in Tertium. Every ilm of the carriage floor was covered in bedrolls, leaving no room for careless movement.
      Taking care not to disturb the others, he sat up, straining to make out the hands of the old clock salvaged by who-knows-who that was hidden somewhere in the gloom. The near edge of dawn... Further down, beyond his sleeping fellows, was the wavering blue glow of the ceruleum stove.
      It was not the cold that had roused him from his slumber. We're old friends now. Before accepting the Ilsabard contingent's proffered aid, his people had little materiel─and certainly no magic─to warm frozen fingers and toes. The exhaustion that often carried him to sleep still failed to prevent him from regularly stirring in the night.
      Thinking he might pass the time with fresh air at least, he reached down to drag his boots and bag towards him. Conscious of every noise, he dressed stealthily, holding his breath when Publius rolled over next to him. Fortunately, there came no word of complaint, and Jullus was free to slip out and mull over the events of the previous night in peace.
        They'd been huddled around a lamp in an out-of-the-way corner, the familiar scent of honey and spices wafting from their cradled mugs─one small comfort afforded by a surplus in rations. The conversation had again settled into a lull when Publius broke the silence.
      "I may just leave for Sharlayan."
      The grimacing youth─of an age with Jullus, though low in rank─had barely spoken a word all evening. Now that he had, none knew how to respond.
      It wasn't surprising. Inevitable, really. Survive the Telophoroi and Final Days they had, but Garlemald was still in a sorry state. The Emperor was gone, the senate disbanded, and nations were hesitant to commit to any policy concerning the erstwhile empire.
      There had been some hesitant steps toward forming an interim government, but neither Garlemald nor its neighbors had the means to establish one immediately. The provincial leaders were waiting to see which way the winds would blow, welcoming their countrymen home while making no moves to resurrect the Empire themselves. Rumors that this or that province was poised to formally declare independence, or had as good as seceded already, ran rampant.
      It was only natural to give Garlemald up as a lost cause. Even as some returned to rebuild, others who had been tempered and taken to other nations for treatment petitioned to remain there, and these nations─Sharlayan among them─welcomed the refugees with open arms. Though Publius might be the first among present company, he would not be the last to make a new home far from the old.
      Publius stared into his cup as the moment dragged on. In this nation of the fallen, what was left to say?
      "...You should speak with Alphinaud or Alisaie on the morrow. They'll put you in contact with someone you can trust," Jullus ventured. The ever-helpful pair was staying at Camp Broken Glass, and like as not had plenty to be doing already, but he would be remiss not to mention it.
      "I'll do that."
      With that small gesture, the atmosphere changed. Publius exhaled in relief, and the others were soon offering their own words of encouragement and vows to meet again. Though their drinks had long gone cold, their cheers gave them warmth enough.
      "To our brothers and our homeland!"
      The brisk winds carried away sleep's warm haze as Jullus climbed the slope that led out of the station. Beyond the shaft's angular portal, the weak morning light revealed the stark outline of his reality.
      The remaining spire of the once-shining Palatium Novum stood alone in the city center, amongst homes reduced to steel skeletons and grey rubble. Beyond these unnatural hills loomed the Tower of Babil, grasping for the heavens.
      Tertium's surrounds had been spared out-and-out obliteration, but were dead all the same. None remained to hurry to work or school, or stagger home after a night on the town. None remained to clear snow from a neighbor's path, or rove helplessly in their dog's wake. The people who had given this place life a few short months ago were gone. How many even had the chance to say good-bye?
      Jullus breathed deep of the frozen air, but though its icy pinpricks grounded him in the present, it was powerless to dispel the long nightmare. The vision endured, implacable, without regard for the dreamers. To the shrewdest of minds and the purest of hearts, fate offered no justice nor justification.
      "Yet you would ask me why."
      That injury should have healed. Yet it itched at him now─a scab that bled and bled, threatening to hollow him out from within. Even as he picked at it, his feet carried him forward─better to survey the surrounds for threats─and into the silent city.
        Unforgiving grey. Destruction and loss. All silent as the grave, as if even beasts preferred not to pick through these bones of an empire so early in the morn.
      A flash of movement caught his eye─a scrap of old newsprint trapped in the tumbledown debris of a roadside ruin. The last will and testament of someone's breakfast table. He drew closer, mindful of the potential for further collapse.
      "I remember this..."
      A special edition, distributed on Unity Day several years past. The celebration commemorating Garlemald's founding and the heroes who had labored for the Empire was always a tremendous affair for residents of the capital, most of whom spent the day reveling. The eldest told stories of meager harvests and desperate clashes as choirs sang old marching songs. Hawkers along the avenues sold food, drinks, traditional adornments from the campi, and the latest magitek baubles.
      Naught was more highly anticipated than the military parade─a show of strength and patriotism that never failed to inspire both awe and pride. Countless soldiers and magitek units moved in time through the city, beating a steady rhythm towards the imperial palace, where the Emperor's family stood assembled to receive them.
      They led us to greatness. We who formed the vanguard of history's grand march forward. His city was the heart of the world, through which flowed blood stronger than steel─a bond between countrymen that would remain unbroken even should their every enemy join together to oppose them. Glory be to Garlemald.
      The Unity Day described in this print had taken place while Jullus was in the academy, and marked the last year that the ailing Solus had been in attendance. Though the lead article detailing the events and speeches of the day was in tatters, the accompanying portrait of the imperial family remained.
      At its center, naturally, was the stern visage of Solus zos Galvus. Though still dignified in his old age, the gaze which he fixed upon the reader was more melancholic than proud. Never saw the man smile once. To the Emperor's right stood Titus, second of Solus's sons, along with his wife Arrecina and son Nerva. Both Titus and his son had a strained look about them, not dissimilar to the younger Solus found in the history books.
      On His Radiance's left was his grandson Varis, the only legacy of the deceased crown prince Lucius. A proud one, too─Varis was tall and broad of shoulder, and his comportment marked him a prime candidate for high legatus even then. His wife and right-hand, Carosa, had passed away in her prime, and so he was flanked instead by his mother, Hypatia. Though she departed to join Carosa a mere year after this portrait was taken, she supported Varis's claim to the throne until the very end. And then there was the young man with a faraway look in his eyes and an air of detachment...
      "Would you be 'happier' had I a 'good reason'?"
      Zenos yae Galvus. Though his anger had cooled since their encounter on the Eblan Rime, Jullus nevertheless found himself wrenched back to the present with no little displeasure.
      His homeland was gone. That much was plain, even as he clung to the ragged scrap of remembrance. He hadn't known then whence the fervor of that day would lead, but knew well now that it would never be reborn. Even should Garlemald rise from the ashes, its age had ended.
      And what of us? A new day had dawned, and Jullus would not suffer his people to remain in the dark. Yet what star were they to follow?
      Jullus shook out the paper, folded it neatly, and tucked it in his pocket before leaving the ruin behind.
        The streets were still and silent, his crunching footsteps the only sound. Playing his role of watchman, he investigated the semi-intact structures he came across, but found little of note. No food or supplies remained, only the detritus of peaceful lives─naught worth saving then or now. A fine layer of ash covered splintered furniture and forgotten trinkets, forming cairns in the gloom.
      After a time, he arrived at a house he had never explored in his prior wanderings. With the roof torn off and the walls half-crumbled, it seemed unlikely to hold anything of value, but he nevertheless picked his way through the frosted rubble that would have once formed the lintel. Once inside, he dusted himself off and took in his surroundings─and drew a startled breath.
      Jullus had seen enough death by now to recognize it at a glance. He approached the soldier and knelt to examine his corpse. Though the cold had prevented significant decay, it was clear he had died some time ago. Had it been during the war, the body would have been removed, so he could only be one of the tempered or their victims. The bite and scratch marks suggested the latter. Like the scars my family gave me.
      He removed the helmet carefully─not a face he recognized, so probably not a member of the Ist Legion. Just another poor soul who had escaped the tempering, exhausted the last of his strength, and died anyway.
      Jullus would offer no gods-bound prayers as an Eorzean might, but nevertheless set the helmet aside to pay his respects. Though the sentiment rang hollow, he silently encouraged the deceased to find peace with his ancestors and watch over his kin.
      Alphinaud and Alisaie claimed that the Scions had visited the aetherial sea, where all souls returned. There, they were healed of their traumas and washed clean of memories─even should not a single prayer be offered on their behalf. Their deeds in life had no bearing on their place within the relentless machinery of death and rebirth─made no more difference than Garlemald's vaunted unity had to its ultimate fate.
      If the twins spoke true, then what meaning was there in any of it? What was life, if not another pointless parade?
        It occurred to him that this was probably not the most respectful place to ruminate on life's worth. My new friend here would certainly have an opinion. He had no tools for a proper burial, but if he could at least make note of the man's name...
      Alas, there was no identification to be found. Understandably not a priority for you at the time. His armaments were standard-issue, and provided no hint either. Although...
      "What have we here?"
      Gently prising open the corpse's fist revealed the empty case for a magitek armor identification key. Had it been stolen after his death? That didn't make sense─a thief wouldn't have repositioned the dead man's hand, which had been clutching the thing so desperately. As if in prayer. But if he had reason to hope that a comrade might escape, or that rescue was on the way, then maybe...
      "You gave it away," Jullus muttered, as another memory surfaced in his mind.
      It was summer─of the same year as the newsprint he'd found earlier. A friend had insisted he read some poetry collection, and in the spirit of camaraderie Jullus obliged. He had little interest in elegies, often finding them difficult to parse, but one inscrutable passage had stayed with him:
      "Let this be my final gift to you. In death, my love."
        In death we have the power to bequeath the life we might have had─the possibilities and potential─to others. To grant them what they need to go on...or so the poet said.
      Was your key one such gift?
      Would my mother, my brother, my sister─would they tell me to accept theirs?
      Lord Quintus, with his suicide? My comrades, whom I failed? My countrymen, gone without a word?
      Did you leave your lives, and your love, to me?
        The dead do not answer, yet the wound within ceases its bleeding for a time.
      If that is our truth...
      "Then let it be our meaning. Let it be the chain which binds us through generations. Live on in me, as I would have in you."
      And perhaps...
      "Perhaps we may yet live on in others."
      The dead do not answer, but light shines through the broken ceiling, and Jullus follows it to behold a brightened sky. His comrades at Tertium will be waking soon. In apology and gratitude, he offers one last silent prayer to his kinsman ere departing.
      Be at peace─and know that you are with me.
      Jullus stands, and forges ahead into the dawn.
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