Na'mdi stared blankly out of her bedroom window out into the darkness of the night as she changed into her nightgown. The nurse had kicked her out for the night and she needed a shower and change of clothes anyways. She had spent nearly every waking moment by her husband's side waiting for him to open his eyes, but ever since she found him lying on the cliff his touch had grown colder and the light that filled his eyes grew dimmer by the day. She wondered at times if she would ever see his smile again, feel the warmth of his touch, or hear his voice tell her he loved her. Na’mdi slid into the sheets of her bed and laid down, staring at the empty space that was once occupied by her husband. She grabbed his pillow and held it tight against her chest, almost folding it in half. She could faintly make out his scent as she closed her eyes and cried until sleep overcame her.
Zephyros arrived back at the temple to find the crystals on the altar pulsing with blinding light. He quickly peered inside each room until he found Apallasso staring intently at the Viera and walked in to find her dressed in an old black silk dress and white pearls dangling from her neck. He recognized this dress. This was the same dress that had adorned many a sacrifice back home, surely Apallasso didn't mean to...
"They make their way to Titan." Zephyros said.
"Good, I would ask how the Child of Light has taken to that man but the crystals speak for themselves."
Apallasso smiled to himself, everything was falling into place, and even the unexpected separation of the woman's soul had turned out in their favor.
Zephyros couldn't hold his tongue any longer and loudly voiced his frustration at Apallasso.
"Please brother, tell me that this vessel of Hydaelyn is not the chosen of Zodiark, that she will not form the heart of our Lord! Surely you or I would be a more suitable host?"
Zephyros looked in disgust at the smug look on Apallasso’s face as he stood there silent. Madness, he thought, all of the work he had put in these centuries only to be passed over, not only by a mere puppet but one created by Hydaelyn herself!
"It is not for either of us to question the will of Zodiark. She may be merely a vessel, but you have seen firsthand the ability she has to contain powerful magic. Can you not sense the aether this doll holds bereft a soul? Besides, does it not at least slightly amuse you that Hydaelyn's creation will be used to undo the damage she's done to our Lord? To think something born of her own hands will be her undoing!"
Apallasso burst into a fit of laughter as Zephyros scowled and began to storm out of the room.
"Zephyros, you know the punishment for disobedience."
Zephyros stopped short of the doorway, his scowl deepened with each word Apallasso spoke.
"You will not lay one finger on this creature, she WILL be delivered to Lord Zodiark unharmed."
Zephyros tightened his fist and bit his bottom lip as he made his way out, slamming the old broken door as he left, shattering what little remained into pieces.
The days went by fast as Phoenix and I made our way to Aleport from Ul'dah. We spent the trip reminiscing, and I felt the pain of losing my friend lessen each day. We laughed as he told the story of our Garliage Citadel key party and our misadventures in the Dunes, we spent boat trips recalling the good times that were spent together. There were no sad stories to tell, he wouldn't have remembered them, only happy memories. The boat arrived in Aleport and we stepped onto the dockside by side, our hands tightly grasping the other. I had all but forgotten that the hand I held was not his, that the man that had lain beside me these past nights wasn't the same one my touch had remembered, but that coldness went away when I looked into his eyes and saw the familiar soul behind them.
"I want you by my side when I face Titan tomorrow, for old times’ sake."
My head leaned against his shoulder as we walked towards the inn, pressing my side as close as I could to his. My head tilted up slightly to catch his face staring down at me and he gave me a slight nod as he smiled. We walked into the room and laid down, drifting to sleep as the sun began to set.
We rose out of bed before the sun had a chance to wake and headed towards U'Ghamaro Mines pushing our chocobos as fast as they could go. The trip was silent as we prepared for the battle ahead. My heart pounded faster with every stride of the bird's feet as I remembered the battles we fought together in Vana'diel. I let the wind flow through my hair and breathed deeply of the salty sea air as it gave way to the forests. I looked over at Phoenix as he rode, smiling at his face as his gaze took in the view. He wore the same look as he had those many years ago, back in Vana'diel when there were new lands to explore. He would have loved this world, there were so many wonderful things I wish I had time to show him. Perhaps before we go home there would be time for an adventure, give him a taste of some of the wonders Eorzea had to offer. We left our chocobos at Camp Overlook and walked the rest of the way to the Mines.
We stood on the edge of the Maelstrom's territory and surveyed the vast stretch of land that marked the beginning of the Kobold's domain. The lush green of the forest had been stripped down to the very soil, machines dotted the cracked earth, spewing steam and oil as they polluted the air with their noise. Kobolds roamed to and fro with axes and wheelbarrows, caring for nothing except what lay beneath their feet. We descended the rickety wooden stairs into the pit, being careful to not make too much noise. The walk down was narrow and noisy, thankfully the sounds of pickaxe against stone hid our descent. What I wouldn't give to have my Sneak and Invisibility spells now, I thought. We stepped onto the dry, bare earth and slowly and quietly made our way to the entrance to the mines. We watched our steps as the Kobolds mined the area around the mouth of the cave. They were always so busy, never looking up from what they were doing, that we nearly ran into a few on the way there. We quietly slipped inside the cave and made our way to the crystal. The inside was not so generous and we had to fight our way through the winding corridors, getting lost and having to backtrack multiple times before we finally found what we believed to be Titan's chamber. The rusted metal door was adorned with precious ores and gems and incense burned at each side as a large-built Kobold stood guard. We made short work of it and opened the door and was greeted by the amber crystal, dull and lifeless. I turned to Phoenix and smiled.
"Could you please stand watch while I awaken the crystal?"
He nodded. I continued forward while he stood watch at the door. I placed my hand on the crystal and closed my eyes. The faint hum of the earthen core attune to my soul and I felt it as it began to grow.
My mind wandered from the crystal, a flash of light and a woman's face entered it briefly. I forced myself to refocus, but the woman's voice kept piercing my thoughts.
The force that was trying to break my concentration finally overcame me and I went back to summoning Titan. The dark amber began to lighten and a warm light expelled from the tip of the crystal. I drew my staff and backed away towards Phoenix as he drew his rapier and orb. We stood at the ready as the rocks around the crystal began to shake and take flight, forming the shape of the massive Lord of Crags. Titan pounded on his chest and let out a bellowing roar that shook the rock that remained around the crystal. Spell after spell was thrown at the giant but they seemed to only serve to annoy him. He should be dead by now, I thought, what is happening to me? Phoenix danced around Titan, thrusting his rapier as he passed, then jumped back to cast spells. He had adjusted well to his new body, all the grace that he had possessed in Vana'diel was on display as each blow hit its mark. I summoned all the strength I could and began to cast Holy. Phoenix launched himself towards Titan, rapier thrust back, and landed the killing blow in time with my spell. Titan was defeated. Phoenix picked up the small amber crystal and began to walk towards me. I reached out to receive it and smiled as he placed it in my hand. My eyes closed and my soul attuned to the crystal as Phoenix gently placed his hand on mine. My eyes snapped open and a burst of amber light emanated from the crystal, flooding the room. Everything went dark and I collapsed on the rocky floor as the crystal began to slowly fade.
Apallasso stood over the Viera, tending to the cut on her hand that Zephyros had made for the ritual. A burst of amber light crept into the room from the altar and he smiled to himself, continuing his work. Zephyros walked up to him, stopping short of the doorway, and awaited his instructions.
"Go to him and tell him to bring her here quick, teleport them here if necessary. The time for our Lord's awakening is nigh and there is still one more crystal that must be gathered. When she arrives, place her in a room away from the other crystals and this vessel, then take that man and have the Ixali rouse Garuda by any means you deem fit. That woman's soul is so shattered by now that she will not be able to call to the Lady of the Vortex in her present state. Have him defeat Garuda and bring her crystal back to me, I will make sure it is filled."
Zephyros turned and started to silently walk the hall, fading into a purple haze with each step, until he was no longer there. Apallasso gently replaced the hand on the waist of the Viera and stood there staring at the soulless doll as she slept.
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