Flames That Burn Full Bright Soon Fell Dark

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Flames That Burn Full Bright Soon Fell Dark
Date of Cutscene: 28 February 2020
Location: The Holy See Of Ishgard
Synopsis: The aftermath of Binding Coil of Bahamut. The Archbishop of the Holy See of Ishgard laments the danger that looms before his people, and a decision is made that will change Ishgardian history forever. The isolationist nation opens its doors to the outside world.
Cast of Characters: {{{Cast of Characters}}}

Archbishop Thordan stood atop the highest of the Holy See of Ishgard's towers. There, upon the mountain of Halone the Fury, the goddess he spoke for, he looked out at a world on fire.

All across the glacial plains of Coerthas, the signal fires rose. Red. Blue. Yellow. Pigments rose into the sky to join with the stars as desperate pleas for help lost to the night. The chocobo riders, the dragoons - strained beyond breaking. The knights, pushed to the brink. The noble houses, collapsing under pressure.

The stalemate was broken. The thousand-year war changed in an instant. The shadow of death had fallen across the Holy See. Black wings in the night. Black wings against a red moon. The careful balance fell as easily as the common soldiers on the field, crushed under rain of dragonfire. A plan a millennium in the making, fragmented before the light of dawn.

Six hours.

Six hours from the fire in the sky, from the blood-red moon and the shadow wings, and the Holy See's defenses were in tatters. The outlying regions of Coerthas had already been crushed under the draconic assault. The renewed zeal of their foes was as unshakable as their own faith, but where Ishgard had only faith to steel themselves, the dragons had the might of their master and the strength of their forms. Faith in Halone the Fury steeled the hearts of men, but Nidhogg and Bahamut were gods given flesh, and gods in the flesh tipped the scales as little else could.

Nidhogg. Though Ishgard held one of its eyes, the source of its awe-inspiring draconic might, it made up for that handicap with a fury that matched Thordan's god. He could almost imagine the great black wyrm sitting, burning with the thousand years of hate for Ishgard as his brother's divine spectre landed before him like a savior. Bahamut, so near unto a god that at its height it could twist the world with its passing, could rain down the fires of Heaven and scourge the land into new shapes, a cat-o-nine for the whole of the star. Nidhogg's prayers were answered.

Thordan's assuredly were not.

Thordan's fingers went to his great, bushy eyebrows. Six hours. A plan a millennium in the making. The salvation of Ishgard, the great Holy See built upon the greatest mountain, a fortress civilization tempered in a thousand years of dragonfire, a day but months away, cracked like the wrinkles on his ancient elven face. What was one god against two? What would conjuring their own mighty legend bring against the full majesty of the dragons? His shoulders sagged beneath the weight of his own robes. His head bowed under his miter.

"This test may be too much for us without you, o Fury," He said aloud. His breath became cloud, floating into the sky like the smoke signals in the distance. "A test we cannot fail, but cannot win. Tell me, my goddess; whence do men turn when their gods will not, cannot, aid them?"

"Each other, I would suppose." The young man's voice turned Thordan's head. Aymeric. His black hair was ringed by the distant signal fires. His eyes were full of youth's bright desperation, the urges of men pushed against the wall but far too young to surrender. He strode forward in his ceremonial armor, looking all the world his part as Lord-Commander of the Temple Knights. Aymeric stopped before Thordan and knelt. Thordan gestured for him to rise.

"There are none to whom we can turn." Thordan looked back across the snow. "The Alliance will fall in tatters before the return of Bahamut. The Ul'dahn Syndicate squabbles amongst itself. Gridania can do nothing but placate its heathen Elementals lest they fall prey to their angered spirits. Limsa Lominsa has neither the reach nor the organization to aid us, a group of pirates once that will collapse into pirates once more." Thordan's eyes flickered. "And to ask Garlemald for aid would be tantamount to surrender."

Aymeric moved to stand next to Thordan and join his gaze through the snow. "That may all be true. But we are not without hope."

Thordan shook his head. "I see no hope on the horizon. Halone's will may be that our time has ended. Perhaps the end of the age of Men entirely."

"We have time." Aymeric put his hand on the stone battlements, leaning forward. "Our scouts report Bahamut is wounded, incomplete. This is a push, nothing more. We aren't doomed yet."

"But we have no one to turn to," Thordan repeated.

"There's people beyond Eorzea, your Holiness. And there's Eorzeans who might still help us, with or without their governments."

The Archbishop scoffed. "Adventurers, scoundrels from other worlds. People come seeking to profit from our pain."

"That may be so. But we have no choice. Ishgard must change or die, Your Holiness. Bahamut's coming leaves us no other choice." Aymeric turned to look at him. "We throw open the gates. We invite those from the Multiverse to join us. Whatsoever their angle may be, if they stand with us against the dark, they are our allies in Fury."

"And you believe we will receive such aid? We, who have done nothing for them, have given them nothing but scorn and isolation?"

"I want to believe that there are good people among these worlds." Aymeric's smile turned wry. "At the very least I know that there are opportunists who will throw in against us, and those who hate dragons more than they hate us."

Thordan lowered his head again. Aymeric waited. The cold winds seemed to swirl with the taste of flame, though such was impossible, from so far. Thordan raised his staff and turned.

"Very well. This may indeed be the will of the Fury. With all hope in this world crushed, we turn to the rest to aid us." The Archbishop struck the staff upon the stone floor. It rang out as the bells of Ishgard tolled, joining the chorus that beseeched the heavens. "Let it be known that the gates of Ishgard are open to the world. Ishgard calls for aid from all those who would give it succor, and so shall Ishgard reward them."

Aymeric knelt. "It will be done, Your Holiness." He stood and walked out, leaving Thordan alone amongst the biting winds and the ominous smell of flame. Thordan looked back out over the city far below.

"Halone preserve my fury, if naught else might survive," he whispered to the wind, "And let it be that these outsiders, if they bring naught but wrack and ruin, deliver it upon our foes in greater measure."