Saoshyant struggled to open his eyes. Whilst he had a vague recollection of the previous night’s events, he was oddly fatigued today. He was expecting to be greeted by the familiar smell of freshly prepared breakfast – traditionally, toasted sandwiches prepared by the Lalafellin servants employed at his estate – and the sight of his mountainous plushie collection staring back at him. His hands dragged across the ground and found that he was no longer in his comfortable, solid bed but half submerged in a transparent liquid revealing a pure white surface beneath it. Raising his head slowly, Saoshyant peered towards the hazy sky which was shifting between all different tones of purple and pink. An enormous circle of darkness surrounded by burning flames could be seen swirling eerily directly above; the sight reminded him of the dark days before the Calamity when the skies above Mor Dhona succumbed to the overpowering might of the Dalamud. This thought caused Saoshyant to twitch as he rose from his dazed resting position.
“Well this is… something. Just what did those bards make me drink after my performance?” Prior to retiring for the night, Saoshyant had partaken in a concert along with a local troupe of Bards. The location of this somewhat-drunken event required him to travel a significant distance from his home in the Mist to the bustling city of Ul’Dah and resulted in him falling into a deep slumber upon his return. He continued to examine his new surroundings. There was no visible end to the white expanse so he returned his gaze to the darkness above. The longer he stared into that abyss, the more he started to lose trust in his senses. Saoshyant was a competent adventurer who had fought in many great campaigns – both before and after the Calamity – so he was able to quickly analyse threats. This was the first time in a very long time that he had no comprehension over where he was or what he was dealing with.
“Damn it all! Is anyone there?” He could hear the words in his head – he could feel the words in his throat - but his ears heard nothing. An unnatural silence persisted; not even a splash could be heard as he started to trudge forward. Where he was going was unknown. It’s not like it mattered at this point seeing as wherever he looked, the same plain floor and hazy sky surrounded him. With each step he took, Saoshyant could feel doubt creeping closer towards his defenceless body; he was vulnerable in every sense of the word – alone, lost and unarmed. There was no way to tell how long he had walked but he stopped upon making the first feasible deduction about this new area. That circle of flames and darkness was still glaring down. It hadn’t moved an ilm. He began to wonder how far had he actually moved. He fell to the ground, exhaustion taking its toll on his weary soul. Ever the optimist, he chuckled to himself (in his head, at least).
“So this is to be my end? Seems quite ironic… Given all of the foes that have been vanquished and disasters averted that I die alone in the middle of nowhere. No great, epic battle. No terrifying nemesis. Just… silence, and solitude…” Saoshyant spread himself onto the ground. With a tilt of his head, he caught sight of the transparent liquid which was covering about half the width of his arm. To the taller folk of Eorzea, this would be a mere puddle; however, Saoshyant was a Lalafell – the smallest of all the races – and their perspective of the world was quite different. To him, it was like being submerged in a bath, only instead of beautiful fragrances from soaps and candles there was nothing to arouse the senses. He turned to look at his other arm and was caught off-guard by something unusual. The liquid which had submerged half of his body was gone. The realisation caused him to leap up from the ground with new-found energy. Looking around him, the liquid had formed a circle before him where he stood at its edge. The white ground was now completely unobscured by the rippling liquid; it began to darken gradually. Fearing that something was amiss, Saoshyant quickly looked around before realising that above him – spewing forth from that looming dark inferno – was a colossal structure unlike anything he had ever seen before. Panic began to take control as he sprinted away from the circular area where he predicted the object would land. However, just like when he slowly trudged around previously, his efforts were in vain as it appeared no matter how hard he tried, his position would not change. Heart racing and fear grasping every inch of his small frame, Saoshyant braced himself for impact.
A tower – black as the depths as darkness spewed forth by Hades – gracefully touched down before him. Its construction was not that of the Allagans for it lacked any trace of technology. The surface was immaculate – not a single imperfection could be seen. If it wasn’t for the traditional tower shape, anyone would have believed they were staring straight into an endless abyss. Saoshyant wanted to investigate further but had come to the realisation that this place was unlike the realm he was used to and movement was impossible.
“It is okay, young warrior. Let me help you…”
An unfamiliar voice could be heard at the back of Saoshyant’s mind; it was deep and boomed like the God of Thunder whom he had slain in the Orbonne Monastery. Before he could comprehend who or what had said those words, he felt his body become light and began floating towards the edge of the tower. He feared that a collision with the wall was imminent as he accelerated faster and faster. Saoshyant closed his eyes. He felt nothing.
Upon opening his eyes, he was now completely plunged into darkness. Before him, stood two figures. Neither were identifiable, as they were simply white silhouettes radiating in the nothingness. The elusive voice returned.
“You are presented with a choice, Saoshyant Sarevadin. A choice none other than a Warrior of Light should be tasked to make. Your decision will determine the fates of those closest to you but also those who you will never meet. I trust that you will choose wisely.”
The first silhouette stepped forward towards Saoshyant and held out its hand. Unsure about this strange development, the Lalafell starred at it. Just like the tower, it was immaculate. Not a hair nor scar could be seen – just pure, untainted light. He stepped forward and held the hand of this strange figure. An overwhelming burst of energy surged through his arm and his senses were overwhelmed by sights and sounds – completely unlike anything he had experienced so far in this place. Everything that he experienced was familiar – it was breakfast being served by his servants. It was the boundless performances with his bard friends. It was the cool, sea air caressing his face on a summer day in the Mist. Everything he held dear to him flashed before his eyes before he was sent back to the senseless surroundings of the darkness. The first silhouette stepped back to their original position and, expecting the second to do the same thing, Saoshyant walked towards it. But something happened that he was not expecting. The second silhouette did not step forward. Instead, it took a much more relaxed pose - like someone he knew in his realm - and casually waved at him. A number of voices – recognisable for the most part, but some unfamiliar – began darting through his mind.
“Come on, let’s go!”
“Who’s up for a roulettou?”
“I don’t know mechanics, but I do know a plumber…”
“Throw wide the gates – become what you must.”
“Please, always stay like you are!”
Saoshyant’s senses returned and he was once again basked in the silence of the endless black. The two silhouettes stood before him. Nothing made sense anymore. The world he was in lost all meaning. He was given a task to choose – but what were the choices? How would his choice affect others? He needed answers; the frustration bubbled and eventually became uncontainable.
“Enough you damned spirit! Show yourself now and I’ll show you what a real choice looks like!” It was only upon screaming those words that Saoshyant once again remembered nothing could be heard here, and – even if something, anything, appeared before him – he was unarmed. That vulnerable feeling of despair and solitude engulfed Saoshyant.
“Now – make your decision, Warrior of Light.”
Staring at the two figures with tears in his eyes, the Lalafell became overwhelmed by everything that was happening in that instance. The silhouettes stepped towards him. Closer. Closer they came. With each step they took, their radiance began to blind Saoshyant and cause him to scream as he lost all sense of where he was. Of what he was. Of who he was.