I don’t know what I expected of the world we had termed the Void. An abysmal nothingness perhaps. But what we found was remnants of a civilization. An obsidian temple shrouded in eternal night. Monsters crawled everywhere within, creatures which I now know were once the people of the Thirteenth.
Once within, I arranged my team of adventurers into three groups. Over the first, I charged an Elezan woman by the name of Zena Kallig to be captain. The second I placed under the care of a Seeker who called himself Julius Stabler—a pseudonym, I have always assumed, though I never pried for details. I took command over the third, and we together pushed our way through the darkness. There were creatures that seemed at once familiar and yet distorted throughout. Among the denizens were clones of Queen Syllia, whom we had encountered in Syrcus Tower, as well as Xande. Near the top we found a large three-headed dog. Coordinating our efforts, Zena’s team secured the wolfsbane that grew nearby, using it to weaken the hound, while Jules allowed his group to be consumed by the beast and attacked it from within. After their efforts, I was able to command my people to bind the monster with chains. Even after all this effort, it continued to resist fiercely to the bitter end.
At last we faced the Cloud of Darkness itself. It appeared in the form of a giant woman, and it brought all its might down to bear upon us, summoning stormclouds and meteors. It took considerable teamwork and trust on everyone’s part to destroy it, but in the end, we triumphed.
Once the Cloud of Darkness was defeated, Raha ran to my side, casting about frantically for Unei and Doga. Our victory would mean little if they could not seal the Tower.
I supposed I should be relieved that our calls did not go unanswered, but I was not precisely pleased by who answered. Of course, it was Nero. It seemed he had been doing his best to protect Unei, who lay unconscious in his arms, and Doga who stood beside him. Nero himself appeared to be tainted by the darkness’ influence, covered in a strange purple sludge. Raha was much relieved, as was I, though also irritated by Nero’s continued arrogant attitude. Doga explained that his wounds allowed the darkness to fester within Nero, attaching to his very aether; only by their royal blood were the Allagan pair spared a similar fate.
Unei awoke then, and was hopeful that she and Doga might be able to fulfill their purpose. Yet even at that moment, the Cloud returned. In this realm, it could not be truly defeated. However, our friends knew that this was the best chance they had to sever the contract that bound the Cloud to the Tower, while it was still weakened.
Raha protested that they could not remain behind. We needed them to seal the Tower. But our answer to the quandary came when the Darkness attacked him. The contract protected those of Allagan royalty, and through his eye, he had inherited that bloodline. With it, bolstered by a gift of blood from Unei and Doga, he had the means to control the Tower himself. He was chosen…destined to be the Tower’s keeper, even as I was destined to be the star’s defender.
So it was with no small amount of reluctance that Raha and I left our Allagan friends behind, taking Nero and fleeing back to the rift, back to the Source, while the Cloud of Darkness raged at us.
As we ran, Nero quickly lagged behind, weakened as he was by the corruption in his body. He continued in his arrogant determination, but I could tell he was nearing his limits. He bid us leave him, and we had no choice. My brother and I left him behind. I will admit, I felt some small regret, for once we made it to the other side, I remember gibbering something about Nero to Cid before passing out.
I awoke to find myself by the relieved members of NOAH, from whom I learned that my fellow adventurers had also returned safely from the Void. We had to sorrowfully explain about Unei and Doga’s sacrifice, and decide how to handle the situation with the Tower as it now stood. Raha could control the Tower, but he desired rest—I am certain he meant that more for me than himself, considering what he had planned.
My dearest, sweetest self-deprecating brother. Even with this responsibility, he claimed to feel useless. To be nothing more than a vessel for the true keepers of the Tower. There are so many things I wish I had said to him then, had I known what he had in mind. He bid me go and rest, while he took care of something. And like an absolute idiot I left him to it, squandering what little time we had remaining to us.
After I had taken a day to rest from my trials in the Void, Rammbroes gathered the members of NOAH together to recount what had occurred. To my concern, my brother was not present; neither was Nero, but this relieved rather than worried me. I suggested that perhaps Raha was still in the Crystal Tower where I had left him.
No sooner had I suggested as much to Rammbroes when one of his research assistants approached, claiming that Raha had ordered everyone within the Tower to leave immediately. Together, we made our way there to see what my brother was about.
As we approached the entrance, Raha was quick to warn us away, stating that he was about to seal it. Rammbroes begged for him to explain what he was doing, that he did not have to work alone. But I…I had a sinking feeling inside me that I knew what he was going to do.
Raha explained that the survivors of the Fourth Umbral Calamity wished that one day, the Tower might rise again, might be seen as the beacon of hope it was originally created to be. The last surviving member of the Allagan royal family shared this hope, and so used their advanced technology to grant her blood to her most trusted friend, a man who was our ancestor. Through generations this blood was passed, and with it, this hope of Allag. And by granting him the eye, Raha was chosen to fulfill it.
Yet as things stood, with the Garlean threat ever looming over us, we could not yet allow free access to the secrets of the Tower. This, we all knew without a doubt.
It was then I was certain what my brother meant to do. As Amon had done before, he would seal himself within the Tower, frozen in time, to sleep until the day people learned how to access its secrets and use it wisely. I tried to run to him then, but the look in his eyes stopped me.
“The future is where my destiny awaits.”
While my destiny was now, to build that future for him. I vowed to lay the groundwork for him. For we are a pair the gods made to guide this star to peace. Whatever it took, however long was necessary.
Guardians of Hydaelyn…our beloved star.
The doors closed and sealed. And I wondered if I would ever see my brother again.
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