The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good YearS

Wineport was a large vineyard located north of Raincatcher Gully where the jungle finally gave way to less tropical forest. The rich land and temperate climate was perfect for growing and harvesting the grapes to create a number of fine wines that could be found all across Eorzea. Wineport too was affected by the Calamity five years prior and was steadily rebuilding their business. A fine wine was nothing like the grog that most tavern goers would partake of and as of late had grown to cost twice as much, if not more, than they had during the pre-Calamity days.

I will admit, I was not comfortable being in Wineport. To the northeast, merely a malm or two up the road, lie the Garlean encampment of Castrum Occidens. The large facility was positioned directly beneath a large spiraling crystal structure that jutted upward from the ground. I had a feeling it was not coincidence that they had decided to occupy that location, but they were the least of my concerns at the moment. There had been no reports of Garleans encroaching on Wineport so they were clearly content doing whatever it was they were doing in their facility. With the Garlean camp set aside, I searched for my contact in Wineport.

To say my contact saw me first would be lying. In fact, I was a little more than angry when the Lalafell approached me and told me that he could smell me coming. I scowled at the vintner but he didn’t shrink away. I realized I was only making a fool of myself since the Lalafell was blind.

The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good Year

He apologized for his rude approach and introduced himself as Shamani Lohmani and explained that he could smell the odor of Gobbie Gouda on me. I was more than a little annoyed that even a day later I still smelled like the noxious cheese.

With introductions out of the way our conversation turned to the wine I had come to collect. Shamani Lohmani was sure that the only suitable wine for Master Gegeruju’s banquet would be in the possession of Byrglaent, the proprietor of the winery at Wineport. The Lalafell suggested I introduce myself to the head vintner and present my order slip. I found the Roegadyn inside the main building in the middle of a taste-test and introduced myself. I was met with a glare very much like the one I had attempted to give Shamani Lohmani and I had the feeling I wasn’t going to like the man.

The Roegadyn vintner turned to his proteges. “This is terrible! You put so much oak extract in this wine I thought I was in the Black Shroud! You call yourself a vintner!? Get out of here!” Byrglaent threw the bottle of wine against the far wall and his employees scattered.

The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good YearS

When his attention turned back to me I quickly handed over the order ticket that I had been given by the chef back at Costa del Sol. “You want what!?” He exclaimed as he read the ticket. “No, just no! All I’ve got for you is goobbue piss! Now piss off!” With that, Byrglaent tore up the ticket and stormed off.

I returned to Shamani Lohmani in a bit of a daze. I couldn’t recall ever being yelled at like that and letting them get away with it. I sat down next to the blind vintner at a loss for words and he assured me that Byrglaent was always like that and the harsh refusal didn’t surprise him. He then told me my best course of action would be to seek out a bottle of Bacchus Wine. The wine had once been abundant in the area but most stores of it had been destroyed in the Calamity. He had heard rumors that one of the vignerons may be hiding a secret cache.

I spent the next hour interrogating the vignerons in hopes of finding a bottle of this fabled Bacchus Wine but was met with the same story that Shamani Lohmani had given me. As far as everyone knew, the Bacchus Wine was forever lost to the Calamity. I returned to the Lalafell empty handed once more and he began to reflect on the dour news. He mused aloud that it was Bacchus Wine that had rekindled his interest in spirits and lead him away from the line of mercenary work to his new life as a vintner. As though determined by his thoughts of the past he told me that he refused to let down his former captain and he would find a suitable replacement, he just needed some time to think it out.

I sat with Shamani Lohmani while he thought of a solution to our problem. Time was not on our side and I was growing antsy, and even though he was blind he had taken note of it. He suggested I do him a favor and deliver a bottle of his own original wine to a man named Drest who had saved his life some years ago. He wasn’t sure where Drest lived but knew the man worked at the Raincatcher Gully Docks to the south. I wasn’t happy about sitting and waiting so I didn’t refuse the mindless errand. With the bottle of Lohmani Rosso in hand I set off toward the docks.

I inquired at the docks the whereabouts of Drest and was met with some hesitation. While they were more than willing to tell me that Drest lived in a shack deep in the jungle they didn’t want anything else to do with the man and suggested I should do the same. I thanked them for the advice and traveled back into Raincatcher Gully in search of Drest’s home. I wasn’t really ready for what I saw when I found Drest’s home.

I was fooled by the outward appearance of the house, an elevated building that rested a good twenty fulms above ground level. The people at the docks seemed to detest this man and yet he lived in such a nice looking home. When I ascended the stairs and entered the one room building my mind was quickly changed. The inside of Drest’s home was an absolute mess, heaps of rotting food and dirty clothes strewn about the entire room. I jumped in surprise when one of the piles of clothes began moving and Drest emerged from the mess.

Drest looked as unkempt as his home. He wore a dirty sleeveless shirt and slacks, grime coating his skin and some unknown substance in his unruly hair. Drest twitched and looked about the room nervously before setting his wild eyes on me.

The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good Year

I thought for a moment that the man might attack me but his suspicion of me made him wary. I calmly told him I was there to deliver Shamani Lohmani’s wine and I would be on my way. I held out the bottle of wine and the man very hesitantly approached me, reaching as far out with his hand as he could. Just as he wrapped his fingers around the neck of the bottle he jerked it hard from my hand and danced away to the far end of the room where he sat in a pile of refuse.

My curiosity got the better of me and I watched on as Drest drank directly from the bottle. This man had saved Shamani Lohmani’s life, but what had happened to him? Drest completely downed the bottle of wine and began to rock back and forth in place. I drew nearer to him slowly but he ignored my presence, speaking rapidly to himself about how he couldn’t sleep. He suddenly jumped to his feet and I jumped again in surprise. Drest began shouting at some unseen entity before dropping to his hands and knees and begging for mercy. I decided I had seen enough and was backing away toward the exit.

Drest’s attention suddenly turned back to me and he began begging me for help. He told me how he had been saving for years to return to his homeland but was still short on funds. I knew he was looking for a handout and all I could think of was my own gilpurse and how light it was. I apologized for not having any money to give and left. As I made my way back through the jungle I felt a pang of guilt. There had to be something I could do for the man.

The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good YearS

I recalled overhearing at the docks that coeurl hides were selling well at market and Raincatcher Gully was home to the feline beasts. I spent two hours hunting coeurl in the dank jungle before returning to Drest’s hut with a half a dozen hides. The man was thankful for what I had done for him and it seemed that he was beginning to sober up out of his crazed fit. He sat silent for some time before finally telling me how he came to be there.

Drest had once been a Garlean soldier, but he was not a native of Garlemald. The Empire had conquered his homeland and he was forced with the choice of enlisting or being killed. He held no ill will toward the natives of Eorzea and when faced with the prospect of invading another land as his had been, he fled. The horrors he had seen and the life of hiding from Garleans looking for him had slowly eaten away at his psyche. He admitted that having finally told someone his tale he was beginning to feel a clarity that he hadn’t had in years. Before I left, Drest asked me to deliver a palm wine of naturally fermented tree sap to Shamani Lohmani in thanks.

I loaded the three coconuts filled with palm wine into my pack and returned to Wineport. Shamani Lohmani knew exactly what I had for him thanks to his heightened sense of smell. I accused him of cheating and the Lalafell just grinned. We sat and Shamani Lohmani shared with me a glass of the potent palm wine. I told him of Drest’s problem and the vintner began to reflect upon how he and Drest were so alike. Both had seen and done terrible things in their life and now they both worked toward a new goal. Shamani Lohmani had his wine. Drest just wanted to go home. I couldn’t help but feel that I had more in common with Drest than the Lalafell did. How much longer until I became a quivering mess living alone in a shack?

As I sat in silent reflection Shamani Lohmani began inspecting the palm wine. He spoke of how it was made and how it was more potent than the grape wine they had made there in Wineport. He was busy reveling in the ingenuity of using coconuts as a bottle and palm leaves as a means to seal it. His monologue stopped suddenly and I looked over to see what was the matter.

The Lalafell looked like he was about to explode, his mouth spread into a wide grin. “Th-this isn’t a palm leaf,” he said quietly. “This is a leaf from the Bacchus grapevine! Do you know what this means!?”

If the leaves were truly from the Bacchus grapevine thought to be extinct since the Calamity, then Wineport would be able to begin producing the fabled wine once more. Shamani Lohmani insisted I take one of the leaves back to Drest and press him for information. I knew that even if it was the Bacchus vines, there’d be no way to produce a wine from it in time for the banquet. But the look on the vintner’s face was hard to ignore. He had his wine. What did I have?

I made haste back to Drest’s shack and luckily he still had his faculties when I returned. I asked him if he had known that the leaf was from the Bacchus grapevine and he insisted he didn’t know it was special. He told me that he found them near a crashed Garlean Juggernaut south of his home. He warned me though that he had seen no signs of grape-bearing vines there, but he had seen large goobbue tracks. I shared the thought that the Bacchus vines could be growing on the back of the goobbue and Drest agreed.

The Crystal's Call - It Was a Very Good YearS

I found the remains of the crashed Garlean vessel easily enough and began searching for the goobbue in question. I found plenty of tracks but had yet to actually find the creature in question. I was beginning to grow worried that some other hapless adventurer had come through and slain the beast without knowing what they had come across. My fears were quelled when the goobbue found me. It was easily the largest goobbue I had ever seen, standing easily taller than Drest’s elevated home. The goobbue opened its massive maw and bellowed in rage before lumbering toward me, its long arms swinging.

I barely had enough time to summon Eos from my Soul Crystal before the goobbue was bearing down on me. I narrowly avoided a swipe from its long arm and scrambled across the jungle floor. I climbed back to my feet and opened my grimoire, throwing a blast of magic in the process. The magic struck against the velvety hide of the goobbue and it let out another roar. After its roar it began to breath in deeply. Goobbues had massive lung capacity and had been known to sneeze pores to poison their prey. Not wanting to be caught in the poisonous spores, I tossed a ball of Ruin into the goobbue’s open mouth. The beast began coughing as my magic struck its unprotected throat. With the goobbue distracted I weakened it with poisons and slowed its movements with a miasma. I continued throwing Ruin at it until finally the beast fell.

I thanked the Twelve that the goobbue had fallen forward and not onto its back as I climbed the beast and indeed found grape-bearing vines. I cut as many of the vines as I could and hurried back to Wineport with them. When I offered the vines to Shamani Lohmani he confirmed that they were in fact Bacchus vines. The Lalafell let out a shout of excitement and began to dance, drawing the attention of the other vignerons who began to whisper and speculate. I grew uncomfortable being at the center of attention and urged the Lalafell to be more quiet. My concern fell on deaf ears and he continued to celebrate. Before I knew it we had Byrglaent bearing down on us.

The head vintner confirmed that the cutting was in fact a Bacchus vine. To my surprise, Shamani Lohmani told the Roegadyn that he could have the cutting. All he wanted was for the Bacchus Vineyards to be restored to their former glory before the Calamity. Byrglaent looked like he didn’t know what to say. I felt more than a little smug seeing the mean vintner speechless. He strode off back toward the winery and came back with a bottle in hand. He presented the bottle to Shamani Lohmani and I peered at the bottle in curiosity. A 1547 Bacchus, arguably the finest wine ever produced.

Shamani Lohmani handed the bottle off to me, insisting it would be the only suitable wine for the banquet at Costa del Sol. He thanked me for helping his dream come true and I left Wineport with a sense of pride. I had made someone happy and that in turn made me feel better about myself. I needed to stop worrying about ending up a crazy hermit like Drest had. I had friends who cared about me and I found peace of mind in helping others.

There were only a few hours left of daylight when I returned to Costa del Sol and offered Wheiskaet the bottle of 1547 Bacchus. He was surprised that I had been able to procure such a fine wine and told me that I had done so just in time. The two visiting dignitaries were due to arrive at any moment. Dyrstweitz had been cooking all day and was awaiting the wine before setting plates. Wheiskaet insisted I go help the chef prepare the meal and I rushed over to the bar.

I never realized how much work went into a fancy banquet like this. The chef had me place flower vases across the table and arrange the flowers until they were just right. I then spent the next few minutes dishing out and placing the meal, sautéed Wellwick worm, softboiled adamantoise egg, and goblin cheese soufflé, out across the table. Once the meal was set we opened the bottle of Bacchus, giving it ample time to breath, and poured glasses. With the table set and not a minute to lose I returned to Wheiskaet.

I asked the former captain of the Company of Heroes just who these two dignitaries were that I had done all this work for. The Roegadyn grinned at me and told me to ask one of them who had just arrived. My gaze followed in the direction he had indicated and I was surprised at who I had seen.

—-

If I had been on schedule this week, today would have been Titan Thursday, but this probably played out for the better now. Tomorrow you're going to be left with a cliffhanger, so you guys can hate me in advance and enjoy it tomorrow.

You wouldn't believe how glad I was to be finally done with this running around and on my way to finally face Titan. There's a bit of a plot twist concerning the Titan fight that I hope I get correct when I write it, I'll more than likely need to refer back to the cutscenes that I can view in hopes that it was actually mentioned there. I've said before that only a fraction of the cutscenes from the quests are available to be viewed again. These are limited to the cinematic scenes before dungeons, during dungeons, during quests, etc, that involve voice acting or at least what was deemed the "most important" dialogue. This means that all the run around quests have none of their scenes available. If you were to go through the "Never Ending Journey" in your inn room, the book that allows you to revisit these scenes, it would make the main story look short. In reality I'd say we're approaching the halfway point tomorrow.

To put it in perspective, in 61,000 words and 23 entries, I've written through 121 main storyline quests and a half a dozen side quests. There's 70-odd quests left in the main story and some of them are long. For many of these dungeon and boss fight quests I've been including one or two before and after. There's two dungeons toward the end of the game that may be one or two entries in and of themselves due to the length of them and the fact that they are 8-man dungeons. That's right. I will have to be writing dialogue and actions for eight characters in some very epic battles.