grand finale

After Ashe receives the Treaty-Blade, the party returns to Balfonheim. There, Reddas reveals the location of the Sun-Cryst (the Pharos at Ridarana) and joins the party to travel there, but not before telling Ashe that Nethicite is best thrown away. They fly to the distant Pharos, where Reddas again warns Ashe that should she take revenge, "your woe shall be your own." Ashe remains conflicted during the ascent.

At the top of the lighthouse, Ashe meets the ghost of Rasler, who motions for her to cut the Sun-Cryst. Judge Magister Gabranth shows up as well, urging Ashe to give in to her anger and take her revenge. But Reddas jumps in and attacks Gabranth, who reveals that the pirate lord was once Judge Magister Zecht, the man responsible for destroying Nabudis with the Midlight Shard. Gabranth tells Ashe that she, like Zecht, cannot escape the past. Ashe disagrees, and makes her choice: she slashes through the apparition of Rasler, who then speaks with the voice of the Occuria: "You are our saint, Ashelia B'nargin. You must use the Nethicite. You must be the one to straighten history's weave!" But Ashe strikes him again, and the ghost disappears. She states that Dalmasca never relied on its shard, and neither will she. Gabranth asks her why she won't use the stone to reclaim her kingdom's honor, and she and Vaan answer that nothing can change the past. The group fights Gabranth, until Cid and Venat appear.

Cid claims that he and Ashe have similar goals, which she denies. Though Cid's words are true in some ways: both he, Vayne, Venat and Ashe are fighting to end the rule of the Occuria. But Ashe isn't going to use Nethicite, nor is her fight a selfish one for power. The doctor then uses Venat's power to release huge amounts of Mist from the Sun-Cryst. The party fights Cid alongside the Esper Famfrit, and finally kills the madman while Venat escapes. The Sun-Cryst is going out of control at this point, and Vaan and Ashe are poised to strike it with the Treaty-Blade and the Sword of Kings, respectively. But Reddas intervenes, grabbing the Sword from Ashe and leaping into the bursting Sun-Cryst for, as he says, "Nabudis."

Back at Balfonheim, Ashe meets Al-Cid again. He reveals that he failed to stop the war, and Ondore's Resistance fleet stands ready to attack with Rozarria waiting on the sidelines. The war is set to begin in the skies above Rabanastre. Ashe and her friends vow to protect Dalmasca.

The final battlefield is the Bahamut, a monstrous airship awakened with the power of Mist, thanks to Cid's actions at Ridarona. The party takes to the skies again and plan to enter the Bahamut to directly confront Vayne, in hopes that all-out war can be avoided. After convincing Ondore that Lord Larsa is on board for the infiltration, the Resistance fleet backs up the Strahl as she enters Bahamut. Inside, the party meets and fights Judge Gabranth, and then moves on to Vayne. Upon arriving...

Vayne: Permit me to ask: Who are you? An angel of vengeance? Or perchance a saint of salvation?
Ashe: I am simply myself. No more and no less. And I want only to be free.
Vayne: Such a woman is not fit to bear the burden of rule. Weep for Dalmasca, for she is lost.
It's just as Ashe says: she's not there for vengeance, she's not a puppet of the Occuria nor is she just there solely for her kingdom. She's simply a person, like the rest of her companions, who wants her freedom. This doesn't indicate that she's lost sight of Dalmasca's liberation, but it does indicate a realization that everyone, princess or sky pirate or pickpocket, wants their freedom and has a right to it. And she's going to fight for it her way.

Larsa joins in the fight against his own brother, and Vayne is then defeated. But as Larsa approaches Vayne's body, Vayne strikes him down and rises up again with the power of Manufacted Nethicite. Gabranth appears and joins the fight against Vayne, who has now gained some big ol' floating sword things to fight with. Cue another battle, until Vayne mortally wounds Gabranth, prompting Larsa to jump back into action and stop Vayne's attacks with a piece of Manufacted Nethicite. Vaan then grabs the Judge's sword and plunges it into Vayne's stomach. Vayne is knocked down, but Venat appears and shields him before Vaan can land another hit. Vayne limps away to the outer area of the airship, telling Venat that he has failed. Venat disagrees, saying that the world has been freed from the Occuria. But Vayne's not getting away that easily. Besides, we haven't even fought the requisite winged final boss yet!

The party follows Vayne and Venat as the two beings merge, becoming "The Undying," essentially replacing the former role of the Occuria. The Undying absorbs what I assume is Mist and... mechanical junk from the Bahamut, and we have our final boss. A battle follows, and the Undying is defeated. Of course, there's still those huge airship fleets ready to attack each other and a disintegrating Bahamut ready to fall on Rabanastre to worry about. The party takes to the Strahl and Ashe, Basch (as Gabranth), and Larsa announce a cease-fire. But the Bahamut is still falling, and Judge Magister Zargabaath announces that he will ram it with the Imperial airship, Alexander, in order to spare Rabanastre. Suddenly, it's revealed that Balthier and Fran are still inside the Bahamut as Balthier tells the Judge to stop his suicide mission. The sky pirate and his partner are fixing components inside the airship, making it drift away from the city. Balthier tells Vaan to take care of the Strahl until he gets back, while Ashe pleads with Balthier to vacate the falling airship, but he assures her that he'll be alright: he's the leading man, after all.

the future

The final FMV shows us that order has returned to Ivalice and Ashe is set for her coronation in a few weeks time. Rabanastre is shown to be lively and the citizens happy as Ashe looks out over the horizon from her palace. We see that Vaan and Penelo had been left in charge of the Strahl, but they return to its hangar to find it missing, with a note from Balthier. Included in the note is something for Ashe: her wedding ring, which Penelo runs off with. Later, we see Ashe smiling as she reads Balthier's letter.

Dalmasca's future looks bright as the game ends. Ashe certainly proved her leadership capabilities while trying to reclaim her throne, and even more importantly, she formed a number of close bonds with both the rulers of Ivalice and a number of friends that she can always count on. She's well-prepared for a sucessful rule, if I do say so myself. Revenant Wings gives a small glimpse of Dalmasca one year after the game's end; Ashe's will doesn't seem to have softened a bit since her coronation, opting to travel to protect Dalmasca and fight on the frontlines herself against the threat from Lemurés. She's fiercely devoted to the protection of her kingdom, which just goes to show how powerful of a ruler she has come to be.

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