The following is a crash course for the plot of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. IT CONTAINS SPOILERS, it does not have any sort of personal insight, and is mainly meant as a tool for those who have skipped, forgotten, or want a refresher on the major plot points of the Endwalker narrative.
JUMP TO PATCH 5.0 [Chapters: I – II – III – IV – V] | 5.1 | 5.2 | 5.3 | 5.4 | 5.5
Chapter I: Hope Across the Sea
The Warrior of Light reunites with their allies in the Scions at the Rising Stones in Mor Dhona and receives the news that Krile has finally secured passage and entrance to Sharlayan for them all. The Scions travel to Limsa Lominsa where they await their ship and wax nostalgic about their travels to and from Sharlayan with Master Louisoix all those years ago. The group boards the ship and begins their long voyage to the homeland of the archons.
While on the ship, the Warrior of Light is roused from their slumber by a mysterious voice. They follow it to the deck of the ship to see the same luminescent woman they witnessed back at the shores of Lake Silvertear some time prior and are able to confirm what they suspected then – it is Hydaelyn. Or a visage of Hydaelyn at least. She confirms what you learned from Emet-Selch on the First, that she is indeed a primal, and as her counterpart and prisoner Zodiark regains his strength through each ardor of the reflections rejoining the source, she grows weaker. She no longer can summon the Warrior into the Rift to talk with them directly and thus must resort to this weakened image that stands before them without even enough extra aether to cast a spell but she wanted to do this much, to speak with the Warrior once more, to tell them that she believes that they are ready for what is about to come. With their conversation at an end and others taking to the deck of the ship to get a first glimpse of Sharlayan, Hydaelyn vanishes and the Warrior of Light rejoins their companions.
Arriving in the city proper, the Scions decide to play their origin and purpose close to the chest and instead give less direct answers to the immigration officer. The archons and the twins declare their citizenship, though the clerk acknowledges the rumors swirling about Master Fourchenault disowning his only children. The Warrior of Light is given a myriad of choices depending on their accolades and achievements but generally gets choked up to being some kind of ‘Mercenary’. Estinien says he USED to be the Azure Dragoon of Ishguard but completely blanks in a mix of existential crisis and lack of improv ability when questioned what he does now. Luckily, Kirle arrives just in time to save him and declares him another mercenary in the employ of the Students of Baldesion.
With immigration out of the way, G’raha and Krile give the Warrior a tour of their home city before convening with the rest of the Scions at the Baldesion Annex and discuss their plans. Their concerns are ultimately two fold: why is Sharlayan being cagey about the End of Days, and what to do about the towers that the Telophoroi have summoned across Eorzea and the Lunar Primals that they spew forth. Fortunately, Krile has a lead about the latter through a friend in Thavnair. The Scions ultimately decide to split their efforts with Thancred, Urianger, and Estinien traveling to distant Thavnair through an experimental aetheryte technology, and the twins, Krile, Y’shtola, and G’raha investigating the mystery surrounding the Forum’s decisions in Sharlayan.
The Thavnair group arrives through the experimental aetheryte inflicted with horrible aether sickness. As they recover, they begin to take in their surroundings and learn from a local dealer, Khalzahl, that the trading markets have completely dried up, bringing anxiety and ruin to the merchants of the island. The Warrior of Light also teams up with a local matanga, an elephant person, to explore the region and learn about its culture – including their powerful local deities: The Three Magus Sisters of the Manusya.
The group travels on to meet Krile’s contact at a village known as the Great Work, and meets with a young au ra boy named Varshahn who is the servant to local ruler – the Satrap. Estinien is instantly suspicious of the young boy but takes no action. Varshahn rouses the exhausted alchemists with a fresh batch of dragon scales he has come to deliver and aid them in their work to develop warding talismans to protect people against the mind controlling effects of the Towers.
Estinien, spurred on by his pact with Nidhogg and his memories of the Dragonsong War, wants to know where the scales came from and Varshahn explains that the Satrap has formed a pact with a dragon who has given the scales willingly. The Warrior of Light and their companions aid the alchemists in their tests and experiments which draw the attention of Fandaniel, the Ascian working with Zenos and the leader of the Telophoroi. Fandaniel is intrigued to see if the diligent alchemists could actually pull off this endeavor and chooses not to interfere… yet.
Once the warding talisman is completed, the Warrior of Light helps Krile’s friend and contact – Nidhana – test its efficacy by journeying to the nearby Telophoroi tower off the shore of Thavnair that the locals have dubbed ‘The Tower of Zot’. Nidhana manages to resist the tower’s aether corrupting influence and the test is declared a success, but the victory is momentary as Fandaniel opens the gates of the tower and draws Nidhana in with animated chains.
Inside the tower, the Warrior of Light confronts Fandaniel who decides to share a little bit about himself – or at least this incarnation of Fandaniel. Before he ascended to the ranks of Ascian, he was a humble scientist for the Allagan Empire named Amon. The very same Amon that we face an incarnation of within the halls of the Crystal Tower. Amon was a gifted genius who worked to create horrific monsters out of the populace to entertain the bored noble citizens of a decadent age. In an effort to draw the Empire out of its stupor, he cloned and resurrected their greatest emperor – Xande – to lead them to a new golden age. While Xande’s conquest waged on, Amon was contacted by Emet-Selch and offered the position of Fandaniel within their ranks. Thinking on his Emperor’s words – that nothing in this world lasts, death will claim us all and life is just a short dance before eternal nothing – Amon accepts Emet-Selch’s offer and leaves a clone of himself to serve Xande. The Warrior of Light is stirred from their echo vision and retrieves the talisman before running off to tell the others what happened.
In the wake of the successful test but the kidnapping of their lead alchemist, the Warrior of Light and their companions are brought to the capital of Radz-at-Hann and meet with the Satrap in person. Estinien finally snaps with anger and declares the Satrap to be a fake and he can sense the true leader behind the curtain – literally and metaphorically. The Satrap yields and reveals the true master of the island nation, the great wyrm Vrtra, child of Midgardsormr and brother to Tiamat and Bahamut. The dragon explains that he has ruled this nation in secret for ages, and deeply cares for its people. He beseeches the Scions to destroy the tower and free his people trapped within. The group acknowledges the dragon’s request, but needs to reunite with the rest of the Scions to discuss a plan.
Back in Sharlayan, the investigation grinds to a near halt as the group desperately pulls on threads by going through old books about Sharlayan history. That is until the Warrior takes a break with Alisaie to grab some coffee where they witness a caravan of Gleaners, field researchers tasked with gathering items from the rest of the world at the request of the Forum, bringing in a massive amount of boxes and crates and delivering them to the underground storage facility of Labyrinthos. The group decides to investigate and head into Labyrinthos, but G’raha decides to stay behind to work on another angle that he has a suspicion about.
Down in the vast living archive that is the subterranean crater of Labyrinthos, the Scions work to make friends with the Gleaners in hopes of finding out more about what’s going on. Krile however is struggling as she keeps zoning out and feeling pulled away since you entered the lower levels. The Scions work with the researchers to aid them and learn about their work. That they’ve been tasked with finding things like fast reproducing livestock or plants that grow well in very harsh conditions. One of the Gleaners seems to think they’re prepping for some sort of mass migration of Sharlayan to a harsher climate, maybe to one of the southern islands, but they don’t have any solid proof or anything.
The Scions sneak into the more restricted sections of Labyrinthos where the Warrior and the Twins spy on a Forum member disguised as frogs. There they learn that this work that is exhausting the Gleaners is to complete some ancient task given to Sharlayan ages ago. Krile however has continued to become distracted and disorientated the further down in Labyrinthos the party descends. Finally, the reason becomes clear when she becomes the willing host to the voice of Hydaelyn herself who reminds the Warrior that they have the ability to walk free and make their own choices. The Hydaelyn-possessed Krile offers the Warrior a flower called the Heart Bloom that changes colors with the dominant emotion surrounding it with the disclaimer that they should use it to help guide them in their darkest times.
That’s when the Forum, including Alisaie and Alphinaud’s father – Fourchenault – confront the Scions in the forbidden areas of Labyrinthos and places the whole group under arrest, stating they already caught G’raha in the forbidden sections of the library, and they are to be put on trial for ‘obstruction and suppression’. The trial quickly devolves into debate until G’raha drops the bomb that he discovered in the forbidden section: he had been delving into the records of the Forum’s decision making and found something odd hidden in the reasoning behind the choices made.
At one point in their history, the actions of the Forum ceased being about ‘preserving knowledge to help shape society’ and became ‘help shape society to preserve knowledge’. The change came about at the exact time the colony in the Dravanian Hinterlands was conducting research into the Aetherial Sea. Y’shtola exclaims that they must have found something in their explorations that was so earth-shattering that they decided to pivot the entire direction of Sharlayan society toward this ‘great work’ that was mentioned in Labyrinthos.
Unfortunately, none of this has any bearing on the trial at hand, but after some kind words by Scholarch Montichaigne, a friend of the late Louisoix, who offers the defense that the Scions have made no secret of their intentions, nor have they tried to ‘convert’ anyone to their side. They have simply come to seek knowledge, like all good scholars. The words seem to stir the Forum, who ultimately votes not to banish or imprison the Scions but restricts them and the Students of Baldesion from acting on Sharlayan grounds or investigating state business.
Returning to the Annex, both groups reunite to plan their next move. With their hands now tied on the Sharlayan end of the investigation, and the prospect of the warding talisman in Thavnair, the Scions decide to take Vrtra up on his request and make their assault on the Tower of Zot. It’s decided that they’ll split into two groups to take on the Tower. One will confront the Tower’s defenses and take on the Magus Sisters when they are summoned, and the other will focus on keeping the matanga sealed within the tower’s wall alive and hearty until they can locate the central core of the structure.
The plan is carried out successfully and with the Magus Sisters dispatched, the groups reunite at the core – a massive machine that draws the aether from the surrounding land, but as Y’shtola notes it is drawing more aether than what is required to maintain the tower. She tries to investigate further only to discover that a human limb is the heart of the core. Estinien seizes on Y’shtola’s horror to just destroy the thing and as the tower begins to vanish into thin air without the core, G’raha casts a powerful levitation spell to help catch and lower the Scions and all the freed matanga to the ground.
The Scions return to Radz-at-Hann and meet with the great wyrm who tanks them and offers any aid he can to their cause, including enough warding scales to outfit an entire army. Vrtra also imparts some wisdom to the Warrior of Light that his father, Midgardsormr’s silence at this dire time shows that he must trust the Warrior implicitly to do what’s right, but warns that the Warrior’s actions are a convergence of struggle, victory, life and death that will draw everyone near them into the storm. The dragon cautions the Warrior to hold those dear to them close, no matter what.
Elsewhere in the capital, Nidhana has recovered and meets with the Scions as they pick up the crates of warding talismans. She is ecstatic that her work was a success and that she can help everyone, which causes the Warrior of Light’s heart bloom flower to turn bright orange. Nidhana ponders if it is Akasa, a form of spiritual energy based on emotion that Hannish alchemy has theorized as a separate force from aether but due to its strange nature there is no viable way to measure Akasa and thus it remains theoretical.
Returning to the Baldesion Annex in Sharlayan, Y’shtola notes that they now have enough warding talisman to gather their allies and mount a formal attack on Garlemald without fear of the dominating power of the massive structure at the nation’s heart. They make arrangements to send word to all of the Scion’s friends and allies, but in the meantime it’s a chance for a bit of rest. The Scions bring in an order of delicious food from the local restaurant and enjoy each other’s pleasant company.
Meanwhile, in Garlemald, Zenos and Fandaniel share and wax on the few things that give them joy in this world that they seek to burn down.
More Coming Soon…
Enjoying Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker? Perhaps you would like to learn more about the series up to this point and catch all the little (and sometimes not so little) references to the series’ larger history? You might want to check out my Final Fantasy Retrospective series where I am replaying the entire franchise from the start live on Twitch with both archived VODs and edited videos on Youtube.