The following is from a creative writing contest held by Square Enix for the MMORPG FFXIV. It’s not the same one as what I submitted because I read the rules wrong that the limit was 3000 characters, not words. However, I’ll post on here the full essay. This is written from my character’s point of view.
There are few things outside of fighting for my life that I find to be difficult. Making decisions, leading my parties through perilous dungeons, helping others, etc. – these are all things that I’ve never struggled with. I am the Warrior of Light after all, I have the reputation to uphold of being able to fly through everything with a grace unlike any other. Yet, there was once a question I was asked that actually stumped me, and ever since I was asked, I have thought on it for many moons.
“What is your favorite memory from your adventuring days, Malignancy?” Tataru had asked me, just two weeks ago. At the time, I simply smiled at her and gave her some generic response.
“Joining the Scions and meeting you lot, of course!” I chuckled.
But after she asked and I gave her the answer – which positively delighted her, I might add – I have been asking myself the same question repeatedly. What is my favorite memory? What moment, in all the years I first left my tribe behind in the Steppe years and years ago, is the moment I find to be fonder than the rest? Even now I stand in the hidden beach near my Free Company’s Shirogane house, I struggle with this answer.
I do not struggle because I have no fond memories. No, I struggle because I have too many fond memories. Embarking on this adventure has been the greatest time of my life, and despite being the shoulder Eorzea leans upon, I don’t regret a single moment. I once had the ambition to be the star in the songs the Bards sing, and I have achieved that goal. Even still, I continue to keep going because I love what I do. I love helping others.
Along this journey, I have met so many people, and I have made even more friends. I think that is perhaps what makes this journey really worth it. All of the wonderful friends I have made, that I have traveled and fought with, and that have stood by my side through everything. I even spoke with the officials in the Maelstrom to start an official Free Company to keep all of us together. And since then, those of us who began it, have worked hard together to keep it going.
But fellow adventurers are not the only friends that I have made. All the Scions, my beloved teammates that have helped me along the way to be who I am today. Slaying primal after primal, fighting for our lives and our honor, and even going to a whole different world to free them of their chains of light. What could I have ever done without them? What would I even be without them?
Then there are all the others I’ve met along the way. Ser Haurchefant, the brave knight who sacrificed his life to save my own. Ser Aymeric, whom I would admittedly burn the world down for if he were to ask me to. Estinien, Lyse, Ysale, M’naago, G’raha Tia, Cid… So many names come to my mind that I would be listing them off for hours. All names and faces that I have made countless memories with.
How could I ever possibly just pick one to call a favorite?
I have many struggles to think on with the Garlean menace and my Scion friends still stuck on The First, this is not one of the things I feel I should fight with. Yet, here I am, struggling with a simple question that Tataru felt the need to ask me. Not that I’m ungrateful, she has helped me with many a thing, I just hate that a meaningless question has stagnated me so.
There are a few memories that I know stick out more than others. When those in the city-states finally finished building and opened a batch of housing wards, and we succeeded in buying our first large plot in the Lavender Beds. The joy we had in building up that house, furnishing it, and making the first round of what would be many memories in this house.
Or the time the Free Company officials sent out a contest to see which company could come up with the best recruitment message. We had so much fun with that one, and we all came together in a way like we never had before. It is still a memory that brings me so much joy, and I often times pull the Mandragora Collar out of my Armoire, the prize we received for being chosen as one of the winners.
And how could I possibly forget freeing Ala Mhigo and Doma from the chains of Garlean rule? I don’t remember ever feeling any happier and proud of my own accomplishments than I did at that time. Two beautiful and amazing territories full of amazing people, that deserved to be free. With the help of the Scions and the alliance, we fought for their freedom. We resisted against the rule of Zenos and his minions, and we succeeded.
That journey I embarked on with Alisae and Lyse was amazing, to say the least. I even returned to my home for the first time since I set out for Gridania to take up the bow, and the Azim Steppe had not changed in the slightest. It was a bittersweet homecoming, even though I did not seek out my former tribe. The moment I embarked on my adventuring journey, I was banned from ever returning to them. They wouldn’t care about the title the rest of Eorzea had given me.
Not that it matters anymore. I’m an honorary member of the Mol now, and despite their weak reputation, they’ve been a better family to me than my original tribe ever had been. With the Mol and Hien behind my back, we emerged victorious in the Nadaam, and crowned the Mol in the Azim Steppe. A feat once believed to be impossible, but with teamwork, anything is possible.
It’s a bittersweet time of the year, the anniversary of the calamity when Bahamut emerged from his prison and went on a rampage all whilst an epic battle was taking place between the alliance and the Garleans. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost that day, and the Rising was born to ensure we never forget. But how could we forget? How could anyone possibly ever forget that day and all the lives that were lost?
Despite this, I still find reasons to smile. Though I struggle to find just one memory that beats all others, it warms my heart to know all that I have locked away in my mind. Then, another thought slides into my mind, and I realize it, I’ve got it.
My fondest memory, and one I don’t understand why it took me so long to realize it: the day I eternally bonded to my sun.
We left the Steppe together, on this amazing journey always side by side. Two of the only Xaela in the entirety of the Steppe that were blessed with the Echo, when our eyes met as younglings, we knew we were meant to be. I was his moon, and he was my sun. Despite being from warring tribes, there was no denying that.
Through all the wars and situations in which our lives were in danger, we always kept each other up. If one went down, the other fought to get them back up. We have protected one another, we have supported one another, and our bond has only strengthened over the years. Despite all of this, it took us many, many moons before we finally faced the eternal bonding.
It was a beautiful night. The skies were clear, and the stars sparkled in the skies above the East Shroud as we made our way to the Sanctum of the Twelve. All of our Free Company was there, the friends we had both come to know and love so well. It was a night free of worry, a night off from the adventuring and being the Warriors of Light. It was a night of love and happiness, drinking and merriment, a night when two souls became one.
Zadist never looked more handsome than he did that night. I’ll never forget the love in his eyes as he placed the ring on my finger, no doubt visible anywhere on his face. It was something we both knew we were ready for, that we had been ready for a long, long time. Our friends cheered us on, wishing us both the continued happiness that we’d had for all our journey.
As we rode away on our beautiful white pillion chocobo, it was more than just another ride together. It was our first ride together as an officially bonded couple, and the stars kissed the sky the way we kissed in the chapel. I’d never been much of one for romance, but that was one incredibly romantic night that I will never forget.
I often fiddle with my ring, a loving smile on my face as my tail sways behind me, love pounding in my heart. Love for my sun, love for my friends, love for my companions, and love for my world. It’s been an amazing journey, and I look forward to all of the years to come; for all of the Risings.
I hope this bottled message finds someone in their time of need. Realize that through all of your struggles, there are plenty of happy times you can look back on. Even at the darkest of times, look to your friends and family. They will help you see the light.