Alphinoob calls Tataru and lets her know Raubahn will be okay. As menacing-sounding music plays, he grows worried, because the Dravanians are coming again. The princeling says we don’t have enough proof to go help Her Grace right now, so we should let Pipin and everybody deal with it. Fiiiiiiiiiine, if I really can’t wail on anyone else in Thanalan, then I’ll stab some more dragons outside Ishgard. And you got another smack coming later, boy.
I have done four unsynced runs of the Stone Vigil because an item I’d previously stumbled across in there gave me an idea. After I get done farming that set, I put together a nice new glamour and meet Tataru outside the manor. She shares that Haurchefant had wanted to find JoJo, so I have her hug him when she’s inside. Right in front of his family. Oh well. The Fortemps men are discussing the siege that’s about to take place, but the Count says he only invited me as a guest and won’t force me to fight for their city. JoJo is 100% ready to bleed for y’all. Look what she’s wearing! But I still say “humph” when Alphinoob asks me whether we should flee or prepare for lockdown. He and Tataru are understandably nervous, so we step back outside to discuss “our” next step in private.
Outside, Tataru points out this is probably unavoidable since dragons and men don’t even talk... and Alphinoob is like “there are exceptions.” Don’t you dare. This is why I humph’d him, because I almost never get a chance to indicate I have a problem with his thought process. This boy thinks we can somehow get Iceheart, who seemed (key word SEEMED) remorseful about the dead civilians, to help us talk down Nidhogg, who I’m guessing couldn’t care less. First of all, the next time I see Iceheart it better be because I finally get to finish her off. Second of all, the last time Alphinoob thought that his politicking was the answer to everyone’s problems, IT WASN’T, in the worst way, and we were forced to leave the country and the rest of our friends are Twelve know where. I will not pay for his mistakes again so soon. And it turns out I’m not the only one who has something to say about this Shroud-hare-brained idea.
How does Estinien know where I live??? Oh, right, trial by combat had everyone talking. Or maybe he just happened to be walking by when he saw us. He says that Nidhogg probably won’t listen, but attempting to talk it out could buy the soldiers some time. Plus, between his use of the Eye and JoJo being... well, JoJo, we could just kill him. Yeah, we could just kill him! Cut the head off the Dravanian snake, so to speak. I admit I’m a little nervous, though. I remember what happened the last time Estinien wanted to fight Nidhogg, and I don’t think I can handle an unstable dragoon, a cult leader who might turn into a primal again, AND a ginormous fire-breathing hell-beast at the same time. Alphinoob only wants us dragoons to stab in case his diplomacy fails. I guess we’re gonna be stabbing, then. Also, we can’t tell Aymeric about this because we don’t want him associated with heretics. Right after this, the princeling says we’d better talk to Aymeric! Because it would look bad if the Holy See had their forces attacking while we acted like we wanted peace. Okay, that’s actually a good point. So we go to his office, and even though we don’t share any particulars, when Estinien points out this plan has a halfway decent chance with him on board, Aymeric says yes.
Cutscene! Archbishop Boss Fight is at his desk, behind a Round Table-looking setup in a grey and gold office. It’s nice in a serious way. He’s under the impression that he can beat the dragons with a blade of light (has he got the Echo too???) and then he’ll reward the Ascians for helping him out. That better be sarcasm... Ser Zephirin talks like the Holy See is taking a huge risk by playing them. So his boss meant what he said? Wow, another man I misjudged. Even if his desperation is probably going to get a lot of people killed. Zephirin also asks about Estinien and JoJo, but the Archbishop doesn’t care much about us, so he shapeshifts into a guy in a dark robe and calls his boss king. Never mind, he’s trouble after all.
Before we go, Estinien advises us to speak to Tataru one last time, since it could be a while before we get back to the city. Tataru gives Alphinoob this sweet new outfit she made herself. How considerate of her... meanwhile, I’m over here having to kill about fifty dragons to get my new clothes! Where did Haurchefant go?
*ahem* The last place I saw Iceheart was in the hideout under the abandoned farm, so we go ask questions at Falcon’s Nest. The soldier I talk to says they were ambushed by monsters while they were trying to look through some paperwork. Alphinoob kills one and his hands won’t stop shaking. It’s not the reanimated corpse of your grandfather. It’s just a polar bear. Anyhow, it’s on me to kill the rest, and then we look for the heretics’ mail so we can read it. (Estinien complains about the search taking too long when the last letter is right over there.) Groups of heretics here and where I fought Iceheart/Shiva have been writing each other, so we head to the amphitheatre next.
We’re spotted as soon as we walk in; Alphinoob tries to turn on the diplomacy, only for it to have no effect because they think Estinien’s presence means it’s a trap. Even during the beginning of the fight, he begs the heretics to listen. But this is my first real fight since Ilberd the fake bro, and since I wasn’t allowed to maim Laurentius or even speak harshly to Lolorito (I should probably talk to Fray again at some point), I absolutely don’t mind having something else to impale! Even though Estinien steals one of my kills... When we win, they run away to that big dead dragon in the center of the lake. Which is NOT dead, only sleeping.
Are there any dragons in this game that are actually dead??? They better not make me investigate this one.
Before we go to the Cinders, Estinien says we should check and see what the guys at the Convictory know. This is how I unlock the Dusk Vigil, the half-ruined abandoned castle on the frozen lake that I think is the sickest-looking location in the game so far. (I don’t go there yet; I want to hurry and reach the Firmament and try to grab me some land.) Estinien complains about their uselessness, and Alphinoob makes Joceline walk around and ask who’s seen what. The last guy I talk to says that heretics see a lot of new members in bored/disillusioned recruits. If we want to meet them, we need to build a signal fire. Estinien makes the princeling help him gather wood. I was hoping that we’d just get some more randos to wail on, but Iceheart herself comes up to us. Maybe she’s the hands-on sort of boss who wants to personally greet each new member of her organization.
The game leaves it up to JoJo to explain Alphinoob’s bright idea, so I come right out and say “we” are trying to stop the dragons from destroying my FWB’s home. As I expected, Iceheart thinks it’s nonsense. You happy, princeling? You wasted everybody’s time. Can I please yeet him off a rock formation or something? Iceheart wants to teach us how the war supposedly started. Fine, say your piece, then you call Nidhogg and we fight.
So once upon a time some Elezen came and tried to found a country, the dragons who already lived here weren’t having it, and while they fought, one person -Shiva -was trying to make peace with creatures who were actually very intelligent. (I don’t think Iceheart is lying. I JUST completed a sidequest storyline that pretty much says the bigger dragons grieve and keep mementos of their fallen comrades. This is a cause for concern.) She got really attached to Hraesvelgr. I don’t like where this story is going. Iceheart even uses the phrase “beloved soulmate.” Thankfully, she doesn’t relate any naughty business! But Shiva did convince her lover to eat her so they’d never be separated, and apparently this was enough to make everyone want to stop fighting. Then everyone was at peace for a while -this would explain all those dragon statues in ruins -until a handful of dudes decided if they could steal dragons’ eyes, then they could live a long time time like dragons do. Is she going to say what I think she is? Do not ask me to feel sorry for Nidhogg. Please, game, do not make me do that. I just wanted to stab things and now I’m learning about all this.
According to Iceheart, Nidhogg will stay mad till he gets his eye back, and I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I guess I’ll get to stab after all. Estinien tells her this is why he has been carrying the eye around with him, in the hope of luring Nidhogg away from the city. (He shows it to us. It’s a smaller version of the one that filled up the sky when I fought him.) He also says he can sense the dragon is not just angry, but half-crazy, and just wants to kill indiscriminately now. Alphinoob, who still has not learned, wants to talk to Hraesvelgr instead. Even though Iceheart thinks he’s silly, she agrees to humor him. JoJo has a heart attack and hallucinates that one of the crystals Midgardsormr greyed out is glowing again. Alphinoob who has noticed I don’t look so good, tells me to take a rest. Out here? With the polar bears? Boy... Midgardsormr notices the crystal glowing, too. He gives JoJo props for being a stubborn broad and wonders if it’s enough. Nobody asked you!
Estinien thinks Iceheart is leading us into a trap. I can’t help but wonder about that too.