Revelations (Part 1)
R'lyeh sat alone in the Wandering Stairs, a freshly emptied ale mug dripping condensate onto the table before her. Her hair hung lank and somewhat dull around her shoulders, beaten down by the humidity of the Tempest air pocket in which Emet-Selch's rememberance of Amaurot still lingered. She'd been again to speak with Hythlodaeus about creating constellation crystals and he'd given her the information she sought... but she would've gone back regardless. Till sea swallows all, she thought, then smiled wryly. Even after, with the Kojin's blessing.
She remembered. Everything. It was both blessing and curse; Hythlodaeus's admonishment rang as clear as crystal, “No thanks are necessary, but neither will I hear any complaints.” She hadn't understood at the time. What reason could she have possibly have to complain about learning what and where she had come from, or who she had been? She closed her eyes and sighed. Everything. The answer was everything. She remembered Amaurot, her home. She remembered her dearest friends and greatest loves. She remembered being a musician and singing for the city whenever she returned home from her duties in the wider world-bringing song, dance, lore, and culture from all around the star back with her to share with her people. She loved all of it as if nothing had changed and time had stopped, yet she mourned because all of it was ash. The weight of it all sat ever-present on her chest like a disabled talos. She understood the Emet-Selch she'd met as displaced adventurer now more than she'd ever thought possible.
Cyella coughed quietly, bringing her out of her revelry. “Another?” asked the elf, gesturing toward the empty mug.
R'lyeh shook her head and pushed back against the table, sliding her chair away and standing. “No, thank you. I believe I'll retire.” She retrieved her pack from under the table, slung it across her back, and turned in the direction of the Pendants.
“Feeling alright, Hero?” Cyella asked, her brow furrowed. She knew R'lyeh didn't particularly like her, but she could hardly blame her. She barely liked herself, even now, a century after her myriad betrayals of Ardbert and his companions. Nonetheless, she found herself concerned. If the Viis was in the First and something was clearly troubling her, it stood to reason that they should all be troubled.
Without turning, R'lyeh simply said, “Don't call me that.” Cyella stepped back and watched her slowly make her way up the stairs toward the manager of suits. Her worry only increased.
After showering the silt and brine away, R'lyeh settled into her room overlooking the crystalline aquifers that bordered the Crystarium. Once she had returned G'raha Tia and the Scions to the Source, she had thought to forfeit her room, but the Crystarium's citizenry had vehemently disagreed. Apparently it was hers forevermore, a perk of having helped to save the world. In truth, she was grateful to have a peaceful place in which to be alone, where only Feo Ul could find her once the doors were closed. Feo Ul, who was possessive, protective, and discerning. If it wasn't a true emergency, no one bothered their sapling!
She threw wide the crystal-pained windows, opening the room to the thunderstorm raging outside. A brisk breeze blew in, carrying with it a small patter of rain drops. She let them fall against her face for a moment before turning toward the table that dominated the western half of the room. The good people of the Crystarium kept the place well stocked, especially since she'd been spending more time here of late, and now was no different. There were several bottles of wine, loaves of bread, a basket of ripe oranges, and other assorted goods. In fact, one of the bottles had been opened and left to “breathe.” She snatched it up and drew a long pull from it, then wiped her mouth with the back of her forearm. A bemused grin lit her face momentarily as she thought of the look of horror that would've crossed Emet-Selch's face at such barbarism! With a dejected sigh she dropped onto one of the stools in front of the table. She poured the wine into a glass and mock-toasted the memory of her friend and love.
“You're drowning and you don't know how to swim.”
R'lyeh blenched violently and loudly profaned Hydaelyn's name. The empty wine glass fell over and cracked. The shock of not being as alone as she had believed herself to be faded quickly and she said, “And here I was thinking about how grateful I am that no one can bother me here except for the Fae King, who would be far too busy with their duties to randomly drop in on me... What would you know about it anyway?”
Titania hovered close and kissed R'lyeh's forehead. The Fae King stood tall and resplendent in the finery of their office, light shining through their wings and throwing rainbows all throughout the room. “Silly sapling, I am always with you! I know everything, see everything-even your dreams.”
R'lyeh winced. “That doesn't make me feel better.” She sighed. “I had the memories of only a handful of years before I came to your world and learned the truth of things. Now I'm trying to manage a lifetime of memories I didn't even get to live, ghosts I love as though I woke up next to them this very morning, but that I'll never see again... that I killed with my own hands... and I have no idea how to handle these feelings I've never felt before. You're right, I am drowning.”
“You need to eat something, and then you need to sleep.” Feo Ul handed her an orange and stepped back, crossing their arms. “I mean it! Sleep!”
Then they were gone.
R'lyeh ungently tore the skin off the fruit and ate the pulp without tasting it. Retrieving the half-full wine bottle, she walked back to the open window and leaned into the frame. The night storm was glorious, the air cool and refreshing, the raindrops cold and biting. She drained the wine and stood there for a while, eyes unfocused, lost in revelry.
“Feh!” R'lyeh hissed rudely. She put the empty bottle back on the table opposite the unopened ones, turned down the lamps, and threw herself onto the bed. Despite the war being waged within her, her eyes soon grew heavy and the sound of thunder and rain lulled her to sleep.
Fire crackled. The air singed the hair on her arms. Beasts of nightmare roamed the landscape while flaming stars fell from the sky, smashing into buildings and streets, setting more and more things aflame. Fear no longer held sway over her here, so many times had she returned in her dreams. Now this scene brought only anger and despair. No matter which streets she took, the path always wound round to the same locations, bitter reminders of places of joy she could remember but to which she had never been. She walked down the ruined thoroughfare, scowling, kicking flaming rubble hither and yon. Another two corner turns and she was home... again, which was odd because the point at which she'd started her walk was on the opposite side of the city from where she had lived as Azem, all those millennia ago.
A large chunk of masonry had toppled from one of the buildings and embedded itself in the walk across the road from the building that drew R'lyeh's focus. She crossed back to it and took a seat on the dusty surface, leaned all the way back across it, and stared up into the fiery vortex that swallowed the sky. Hydaelyn, she thought bitterly, how dare you use this tragedy to activate us misguided fools whenever you please.
She closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. Then she heard footsteps, armored and echoing in the distance but drawing nearer. She cracked open one eye and looked toward the sound. Despite having been here many times in her dreams, she'd never once seen anyone other than the silent phantoms of her fallen people. Footsteps were alien. He was staring up at the sky at he walked, observing the star shower and the destruction above them, and therefore hadn't noticed her laying prone across a chunk of building, looking for all the world like any other, albeit smaller, corpse. Compared to her current form, the man was a giant, standing head and shoulders taller than her by any measure; his frame also dwarfed her own. He was massive, beautiful, and utterly insane. Zenos.
Puzzled, she rolled off of the slab of masonry, clambered to her feet, and dusted herself off. She walked across the boulevard quietly, but without attempting to hide, stopping to stand directly at his side. Crossing her arms, she gazed up at the building before them and simply said, “Well?”Continued in part 2 due to character limithttps://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/character/33181679/blog/4720671/