The Dark Lilies (Volume 2)

This page has been archived here from official Square Enix sources. It was originally posted on 02/11/06.


2-1.png

The city of San d’Oria was draped in a gossamer mantle of morning mist; the silence contrasting against the tumultuous events of the Harvest Festival, just ended the night before.

As I walked along the dimly lit alleys, I passed citizens heading to work, bodies hunched against the morning chill. A creaking chocobo cart piled high with sacks of wheat was overtaken by energetic young adventurers as it trundled slowly down the path.
It appeared as if vividly colored flowers bloomed by the sides of the alley, but on closer inspection they turned out to be nothing more than candy wrappers. Until only yesterday, one could hear the excited voices of children as they compared bags of sweets in this very street. Those same children would likely still be dreaming in their beds at this hour.

“Brian. Gertrude. With the aid of the adventurers, we have finally divined the motivations of these sinister spirits. The time of exorcism is at hand.”

The steady voice of Roger, my fellow exorcist, spoke to me through the linkpearl held to my ear.

“Who would have thought such a simple idea would allow someone to comprehend the Cursed Tongue. Those adventurers must have had sharp hearing,” Brian added with a stifled yawn.

The Cursed Tongue.
Any who belonged to a nation involved in the Great War would recall the unsettling language uttered by the Dark Lilies.
It rose into the air along with the ominous tolling of the beastman soldiers’ gongs…

Just before the Harvest Festival began, it was Roger who, having spent his youth in Bastok during the war, was able to shed light on the origins of the witches’ speech.
According to his tale, this language was instinctively understandable by all creatures of darkness. It is thought that the Shadow Lord encouraged its use in order to bridge the racial and cultural differences among the various beastman armies.

I had been searching for a way to understand the language ever since I heard the whisperings of that witch in the woods of Ronfaure.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that one must assume the form of a monster in order to find some meaning in those haunting words.

The festival began several days later, and found the three of us making the rather strange request of adventurers to “put on the guise of a monster and follow after the witches.”

I wonder if this was not exactly as the Goddess had planned.
The investigations progressed at a rapid pace, and many adventurers came forth to bring us the vital clues we needed to gain control over the spirits.

The truths we learned were quite unexpected:
Homesickness, lost hopes, past loves…
These six witches had returned to their hometowns, unable to let go of precious memories that still stirred some part of their souls.
And that was the simple explanation to the mystery of their appearance.

“The Dark Lilies never completely lost their mortal selves. And that is why I believe the adventurers were able to understand them despite having no knowledge of the Cursed Tongue,” I said, responding to Brian’s earlier comment.

I continued on, towards the apparitions I was duty-bound to banish.


As the sun rose in the eastern sky, I found the Elvaan witch Poseaulloie on the parade ground before the gates of the Chateau d’Oraguille.
I could see that she knew full well why I had come, and why she could no longer remain in this world. Her journey to Altana’s side passed without incident, and I continued on to Laborman’s Way in search of the last witch—Maryse.

I stepped through the gate and navigated the wooden walkways until I located the forlorn shade of Maryse at the bottom of the stairs.
Even from afar I could tell immediately by her overwhelming presence—this was the spirit I had encountered in Ronfaure the day I arrived in San d’Oria.

I approached her slowly.

“Do you remember me, Maryse?”

2-2.png

The witch turned to face me, staring blankly as the light reflected from her seemingly unseeing eyes.

“I have heard about your brother…
There is nothing to regret. He knew and forgave everything that you did. I’m sure his thoughts were with you until the day he passed from this life…”

Streaks of light suddenly ran down the witch’s cheeks.

“Maryse, listen to me…
You and your brother…there is nothing left for you in this world…”

“M-my…brother…”

“The…Shadow…Lord…We…”

The Shadow Lord.
That name was unmistakable.

“Tell me, Maryse. What happened to you and your sisters?”

And so she began her twenty-year-old tale in a language she had all but forgotten.


From the time she was a young girl, Maryse’s unnatural affinity for magic marked her as a terror-inspiring “witch.” Eventually, even her own parents began to fear her burgeoning powers.
The only person who stood by Maryse was her older brother, who would always say, “We all have a destiny wrought for us by the Goddess. There will come a day when your magic will be sought after instead of feared.”

But once Maryse learned that her brother’s protective actions had also earned him the hatred of the townspeople, she fled from her home and family.

2-3.png

It was then that Maryse’s travels brought her into contact with five other such outcasts and their destinies were bound together forever. These six individuals bade farewell to their troubled pasts and created a new coven of witches—the Dark Lilies.

After the formation of the Dark Lilies, the six witches resurrected ancient spells of destruction for their own protection. Their actions earned them even greater enmity from the common people.

The Dark Lilies found no welcome in the lands of Altana’s children.
Chased from the civilized world, the witches looked north for sanctuary, and eventually found themselves knocking on the gates of Castle Zvahl—the stronghold of the Shadow Lord.
Perhaps this turn of events was inevitable.

The six were granted audience, and spoke with an Ahriman that stood in attendance to the Shadow Lord.

“A fascinating proposal. You wish to serve the Shadow Lord? Then you must enter the darkness in which we thrive!”

It was at that moment that the form and speech of mortal beings was stripped from the Dark Lilies, and they were reborn as monstrous shades.

Not long after their transformation, the Great War descended upon Vana’diel.
The Dark Lilies were placed at the forefront of the beastman armies, and used their tremendous powers to batter the allied forces of Altana.
Rumors of ethereal witches wielding ancient spells spread quickly across the battlefield and struck dread into the hearts of all who heard them.
But even with their awesome might, the six witches failed to prevent the eventual defeat of the beastmen. And so began the journey of a coven that had nowhere left to go.

The days of aimless wandering stretched into months, and then years…


As the six drifted, they slowly began to lose all sense of who they were and what they were searching for.
After ten, then twenty years of this mindless meandering, Maryse found that she had left her companions behind, and arrived in the town of her childhood.

“I had lost everything…and had nowhere else to go. At least here, I had the memory…of my brother.”

As Maryse spoke these words, eyes turned downwards, her form grew even more insubstantial and seemed ready to dissipate altogether.

Perhaps Maryse did not wish to hear the truth. But if I did not take this chance to convince her, her spirit might wander this world until the end of time—just as she had been wandering for the last twenty years.

Bolstering my resolve, I faced Maryse once again.

“Maryse…
When you met with the Shadow Lord’s attendant, he took more than just your mortal body and words.
He took your life as well…and doomed you to this spectral existence.”

Maryse quietly lifted her gaze to mine, and her voice was tinged with sadness.

2-4.png

“I think I knew…
On that day…when I felt the warmth of your body…and knew envy…
I am no longer lost.
Please…send me to my brother’s side…”

“Maryse…”

“Thank you…for helping me see the truth.”

In that instant, the golden light of the sun spilled over the eastern wall, bathing everything before it in warmth and radiance. Thus illuminated, Maryse’s smile was gentle and content.

It was as if the compassionate avatar of Altana stood before me.

I closed my eyes in reverence, and intoned a passage from the holy tome to help her soul on its final journey.
I had faith that Maryse would find her way to Altana’s side…

When I opened my eyes, Maryse was nowhere to be seen, but in her place floated countless motes of brilliant light.
I watched for the longest time as, one by one, those ephemeral motes rose slowly to the heavens.


Category: News

This content copyright Square Enix.