[ first impressions ]
Ishgard is bloody cold.
And if Faron could hear the way she’s cursing right now he’d box her ears. Alannah grumbles beneath her breath and tugs on the edges of her heavy woolen shawl with numb fingers. This is no place for the thin-blooded.
The gates of the Holy See loom large and imposing before them, and she can barely hear the sounds of Alphinaud’s exclamation and Tataru’s gasp over the howling of the wind.
She gives their names to the dragoons at the gate, and they scurry aside for the Warrior of Light. It’s something Alannah thinks she will never get used to, and these thoughts hover over her as she enters the city proper.
And then she looks up.
The tall spires of the cathedral are beautiful and terrible, climbing thousands of yalms into the sky. The parapets are lined with deadly lances, ready for the inevitable dragon attacks. Finely dressed, elegant elezen populate the city, and Alannah doesn’t think she’s ever seen such fine splendor, even in Ul'dah.
The snowfall seems more gentle inside the city, though the cold still bites through to her bones. But it’s easier not to notice, distracted as she is by the grandeur around her.
It truly is a city among the clouds.
[ impressions now ]
After all is said and done, it is very difficult not to be bitter.
Her bare hands grip the frozen railing as she stares out over the western highlands. Everything and nothing has changed, and have they really gained more than they lost?
Alannah thinks of the dead, of lost friends and fallen enemies. This city is built on lies, its beauty forever tarnished by the knowledge. There is blood on its stones and blood on her hands, and it will be many years before either wash clean, she muses.
The hungry and cold still wander the streets, homeless and dying off day by day. The dragonbrood threat still hovers ominously in the air, and her guilt over her friend’s undeserved fate threatens to overwhelm her.
She hears the chatter of her many companions behind her, but she feels distant from it all. There’s still so much left to do and so far to go, and to her the Holy See now feels like a mausoleum. At least it suits her mood.
The corners of her lips turn ever so slightly at the sound of her name, and she allows herself to smile as the children gather around her, begging her for stories.
Perhaps there is still some hope in this place after all.
[ in defeat ]
Alannah hits the ground hard, bleeding from various painful wounds. Her mana is tapped and her companions lie scattered around her, unmoving. This is not how she thought it would end, though she shouldn’t be surprised.
When you make a career out of slaying primals, one is bound to kill you eventually.
She finds that she lacks the strength even to curl her fingers around her staff; there is no hope of healing the damage done. If she lets her thoughts drift, Alannah swears she can feel pieces of herself dissolve away to become one with the aether.
Her mind turns to Eorzea and the people she’s let down. Hydaelyn should never have chosen her, she thinks bitterly, she is the person least suited to the task of protecting entire nations, even with the aid of the Scions.
She’s just a silly girl, one who’s never even kissed a boy but is expected to foster relations between the alliance and hold both the empire and all the primals at bay.
It’s not fair, she bites back tears as she rails against the universe and the stars wheel overhead. What about the friends back home that she’ll never see again, or her family, or-
Alannah takes a ragged, bloody breath and wills herself not to think of him. But if she’s going to die, then why not? She pictures his stern face and sky-colored eyes set against tan skin, and her heart aches worse than her wounds. Their last goodbye was long before she even set foot in Ishgard, even before that fateful incident in Ul'dah.
The world will remember her, but will he?
She smiles to herself as her vision begins to darken. Of course he will, how could he forget the incompetent, annoying Warrior of Light who begged him for lancing lessons?
Her last thoughts turn to home, the small cottage in the Lavender Beds where everyone is waiting. I’m sorry, she wails inside. Maybe Cae will get all of her pretty outfits, and Sinaka and Adelpha will split her book collection, and then of course there’s the matter of her poor chocobo-
The world goes still and silent around Alannah as her thoughts fade away, and her last sigh echoes as the darkness reigns.