chosen

After exiting Raithwall's Tomb with the Dawn Shard in hand, Ashe and her companions find themselves facing a fleet of Imperial airships. Ghis apprehends the party again and Vossler suddenly reveals that he's struck a deal with the Empire: Ashe will be placed on her throne if she hands over the Nethicite. However, she would still be under the Empire's control. Naturally, Ashe feels betrayed by Vossler but is forced to hand over the Dawn Shard when her companions are threatened. Ghis takes the stone and attempts to activate it, but has little idea what he's getting into. The levels of Mist released send Fran into a violent frenzy, leading to the party's escape and battle with Vossler. After that, we get a glimpse of the sheer destructive power of Nethicite. The stone begins to go out of control, draining the airship's power and causing its systems to fail. The party escapes in a small craft, leaving behind a wounded Vossler who apologizes for his actions, stating that he was only thinking of Dalmasca. A massive explosion erupts from the ship housing the Shard, which takes down the entire 8th Fleet of the Imperial Army. After recovering the Shard and witnessing the power of the Nethicite, Ashe decides she will take on the empire using that power. But she doesn't know how to use it. Fran suggests they speak to the Garif, a race of hunters known for their lore of the Nethicite.

The Garif War-Chief admits that they don't know how to wield Nethicite, as the gods gave it to them first, before Raithwall, and they were unable to use it so it was taken back. Ashe also learns that the Dawn Shard is now drained of its power. The War-Chief then warns her of the lure of Nethicite, "it is often those who desire Nethicite whom the Nethicite itself desires," which leaves Ashe a bit confused. Nevertheless, she remains determined to use the Dynast King's legacy to take down the Empire. It also turns out that Larsa has made his way to Jahara, to propose that Ashe restore her title with the blessing of the Gran Kiltias Anastasis and call for peace between Archadia and Dalmasca. Ashe is shocked at the proposal, reminding Larsa of what the Empire did to her kingdom, but he explains that all-out war must be avoided. Vayne wouldn't hesitate to fight back with Nethicite.

After another appearance from Rasler's ghost and some late-night pondering and dialogue with Vaan, Ashe decides to go with Larsa to speak to the Gran Kiltias at Mt. Bur-Omisace. Upon arriving, Ashe meets Al-Cid Margrace, a member of the ruling house of the Rozarrian Empire: a constant enemy of and aggressor towards Archadia. Larsa's proposed peace agreement is stopped short when Al-Cid announces that Emperor Gramis has been slain, leaving Vayne as absolute ruler of the Empire. Al-Cid also reveals that Vayne began fortifying Archadia's forces after the death of the Emperor, making it clear that war was on his agenda and there would be no peace agreement. Anastasis suggests that Ashe then go to the Stilshrine of Miriam, where the sword of King Raithwall is sealed: a sword that can cut through Nethicite. So we're off on another dungeon crawl, which rewards Ashe with the Sword of Kings. Rasler's ghost appears yet again as Ashe attempts to pierce a piece of Manufacted Nethicite and misses. But the stone quiets; the sword proves capable of halting Nethicite's power.

The return to Mt. Bur-Omisace finds the city reeling from an Imperial attack and the Gran Kiltias murdered. The party fights Judge Bergan, possessed by the power of Manufacted Nethicite, who lets loose a weird tirade about Vayne becoming the new Dynast-King and denying the will of the gods. After Bergan dies, Al-Cid reappears and asks Ashe to go with him to Rozzaria, but she declines, opting to travel to Archades (Archadia's capital) to destroy the Dusk Shard and look for some answers.

On the long journey (by foot, I might add) to Archades, Balthier asks Ashe if she's really going to destroy the Shard, or use it for herself. He warns her of the dangers of Nethicite's lure, sharing the story of his own father, the Archadian scientist Cidolfus Demen Bunansa, and the man's apparent madness and obsession with Nethicite. Balthier muses on his ironic quest to steal the Dusk Shard; even after running away from his past in Archades he got nowhere. He says it's time to cut ties with the past, which leaves Ashe thinking about her time spent with Rasler.

The Dusk Shard lies in Archadia's Draklor Laboratory, and after breaking into the building the party meets Dr. Cid, who spouts some cryptic madness in the same manner as Bergan. They also meet the pirate-lord Reddas, who fights Cid alongside the party. After he is defeated, a mysterious creature named "Venat" appears and defends him from a finishing blow. Cid tells to party to follow him to Giruvegan, the ancient city of the gods, as he makes his escape. He taunts Ashe with promises of Nethicite for her efforts, urging her to give in to her lust for power. The group then finds themselves at Reddas' (another member of the resistance) residence, and after some dialogue it's decided that they will give chase to Cid. Reddas stops Ashe before she leaves, and asks if she truly desires more Nethicite. She answers, "I desire its power. I want... yet I also fear." Reddas warns her not to forget Nabudis, the destroyed capital of Nabradia...

Upon arriving at Giruvegan, Rasler's ghost urges Ashe to go inside. After traveling through the city's core of magicite, Ashe meets the gods of Ivalice.

Fear not, princess of Dalmasca. We Occuria have chosen you, and you alone.
The beings, called the Occuria, grant Ashe a sword, the Treaty Blade, and tell her to cut her own shards of Nethicite. They say she should destroy the Empire, and the heretic Venat. She is to become the "fist" of the Occuria, to guide men down the right path and administer judgment. Ashe is unsure and shocked by what she's been told. But Rasler appears again, and seems to reassure her that the Occuria are right. Ashe's companions (who could hear, but not see, the Occuria) urge her not to take revenge and destroy the Empire, but she remains conflicted. She decides to do as the Occuria told, and seek out the Sun-Cryst, a massive piece of Nethicite located at the Pharos lighthouse. There, Ashe will decide to either fulfill her destiny as "savior" and destroy the Empire with Nethicite's power, or to defy the wishes of the gods and strike down the Sun-Cryst.

These events reveal that Ashe has a powerful weapon on her side (a really powerful weapon) and is the "chosen" one of the apparent gods of Ivalice. We see that the Vayne and Cid's (with Venat's influence) true motive is to end the reign of these gods and their control over history. And so Ashe is left with a decision: follow the path set out for her by those who reign over Ivalice and take up her destiny as descendant of the Dynast-King by annihilating the Empire, or defy the will of the gods and restore Dalmasca's sovereignty her own way, even if she must rebel against those who have controlled history for thousands of years.

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