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Cactuar (Aether)

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Awakening the Anima

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There's something soothing about working toward a new weapon, even if I'm not the one making it in the forge. But...it's not traveling far and wide for the materials--that's scenic, but quick.

I guess....it's retracing my steps. Old paths I visit frequently, and ones I don't. Taking time to really process a place I'd otherwise hack my way through.

Which is to say, it's been a long while since I stepped foot in the Dusk Vigil. I didn't stop to read the notes left behind the first time, like so much else I've overlooked in the race to solve every problem at once.

But the dead don't go along with that rush, and the place is still filled with mangled and frozen corpses....some more undead than others.



I don't know if it's their resentment-filled souls making their armor move, or opportunistic aether sprites--Y'shtola and Urianger would probably know, but I won't ask. Not while they keep coming back--not while there's no point in knowing.

A trapped undead is a particularly miserable existence, but it won't make me fetch them an ice pick. Sadly, they'll probably continue lighting the halls they're frozen to until Coerthas thaws out again.



And then....the Vault.



It's beautiful. It's always been beautiful.

Even with the hairline cracks in the tiles, where elementals broke through to attack for me. Even where a primal-sized weapon or armor hit stone, chipping fragments away, or where new tiles replace the damage that couldn't be overlooked.

But I've also found burn marks and stains that predate my intrusion. There's dried blood in the decorative trim, if you know where to look. Gouges in the stone that's been worn smooth with time.

And yet...its history, intricately checkered like its floor, doesn't sway my view. It's beautiful, I suppose, because of the carnage, not despite it.

It's a good mindset for a weapon, if nothing else.



Ancient aetherites, blooming roses in the golden sunset, a sky of everlasting light...I could watch them for hours. I want to watch, even when they make my chest tighten. Even when I burn with the fire long extinguished with the life of the last Ascian.

But even "forever" isn't forever, and inevitably my feet betray me, carrying me to the end of my path. Forcing me outside, into the cutting Coerthas air. It tastes like iron, and there's no beauty here.

There's dried blood between the stones, if you know where to look.
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